• Graded • Connection

With the escalation of hostilities between Etzos and Rhakros, a series of small walled towns is being established as a network of early warnings and defenses against Rhakros' reprisals. Only the very bravest and most formidable of characters should risk themselves on the Witches' Wilds frontier.

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Zipper
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Tue Jan 30, 2018 6:19 am

37th Zi'da 717


The earth creaked under the wooden floor. It stretched, threatening the office building, or what Zipper seemed so determined to call an office building. Robin called it a sad box. The walls were tired and weathered and somehow the inside was worse; two chairs besides a rotting table piled with an incredibly organized stack of papers he hadn’t ever bothered to read.

Not that Zipper ever asked him to.

But that, in not so many words, was the overlying issue between them.

“You’re so boring. Writing to Torvyn again about the big bad mortalborn?” Robin laughed, a gust sneaking under the door. It chittered against the empty walls, scattering as it looked for a window that didn’t exist. “You haven’t left this coffin in how long? C’mon, it’s a nice enough trial. Let’s go kill some dolphins.”

“Robin.” It seemed she had only noticed him now. She barely even looked up at him. Her hair was still eerily styled for an audience of none, her blouse fresh despite the fact that he hadn’t seen her leave the office in at least half a day. “I’ve got real work to do here. I’ll join you in the evening.”

The wind prowled about the table. Under and around, brushing against her legs like the cat she never wanted. Robin smirked. The breeze crawled up the gnarled and rotting wood, splintering loose ends and almost daring to push into her neat stack of government issued permits and bounties. “Work like what? Promising Gangui more money?” He scowled, sitting down, soil and dirt pushing through the cracks of the floor. They collected against the legs of his chair, building on, stabilizing what would never be strong enough to support his weight alone.

"Tired or angry today?" he asked.
Last edited by Zipper on Thu Feb 08, 2018 6:49 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Robin Stark
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Tue Jan 30, 2018 6:19 am

“You know what? Both. Silence on all ends, yeah? If there’s nothing else, Robin…” She jerked a hand at the door. “You’re lucky they only pay you for your ability to eradicate stuff.”

The wind pulled the paper right from her hands. “And I’ve spent the last couple of seasons not eradicating anything,” the breeze tensed now, watching them both, curling around them, careful of her hands. “And you got a letter from our dearest friend, Torvyn-”

“Another name not to be spoken. His letter was unfriendly and he’s sending another one for further instructions.” Now she did look up, and her eyes were rage itself. “Treating me like a child with no initiative. Fuckin’ Gangui. That fuckin’ idiot.”
“He can’t help it,” Robin rolled his eyes, waving the wind back under the door and out into the world free. It blew against the little shack and the whole of the building trembled. “He’s playing savior in a sewer city. You’re the one who keeps him alive for gods know why,” he chewed on his lip, his eyes narrowing in uncharacteristic suspicion. The Turkey Knights and the Prince were two sore spots that he could poke at all day -- but she wasn’t usually so responsive. “Let’s do something fun. We could burn down this building, for one.”

“You have a very, very worrying definition of fun.” said the woman whose idea of a date was sitting around murdering river mammals for kicks. “And like I said: I’m busy.”

“Weird,” his head cocked to the side, a sly grin catching the ends of his lips. “You pushed so hard for this. For me,” Robin pushed his hands on the table, pushing himself up and the table off-balance. The stack of papers threatened to collapse. “Hans never took his hands off me. Always said he’d rather die.”

“And looked how that turned out,” Zipper said, writing, writing, writing. The smugness in her tone was implied rather than felt. “Sweet promises that amounted to shit.”

The whole of the building rumbled. “Yeah, but I split his house into two and I’ve heard that it’s still raining in Ne’haer.” The earth groaned, stretching, pushing at different points in the weak floor. “If you’re going to ignore me, this isn’t going to work. Since when did you become Torvyn’s bitch?”

“I’m not ignoring you,” she said, blatantly ignoring the latter remark. “Unlike your dear Hans, I’ve been honest with you from the start: I don’t do fun, I find some arbitrary form of meaning in work, and I won’t be there 24 breaks a day. I said this evening.”

“So maybe I should find someone who will be here, now.”

“Go for it,” she said with alarming sincerity. His eyes widened in surprise; for as much of a control freak as she was, he was absolutely not expecting that reaction. “If I could outsource sexual intercourse, I would, so go for it. Find a hooker, if it damn well pleases you.”

Zipper, in his eyes, had always held the advantage. She knew Etzos, she spoke their stupid language, and she was impressively capable of holding herself to a professional standard which was inconceivable to Robin; on the other hand, he’d always thought there was very little she could do to surprise him. She was safe, in that sense.

Unlike Hans.

He didn’t like that she found a way to knock him off his grounding. “I’m not paying someone to pay attention to me and --,” his eyes widened even more, realization hitting him like a rock. “You don’t like sex. That’s why you’ve never tried anything with me.” His words were sharp with accusation. “You’ve never even done it, have you? You sexless bimbo.” He laughed, curdling his tone with sour giggles.
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Sun Feb 04, 2018 4:59 am

She shrugged, but he noted she didn’t return to her papers. Her hands found a block of half-carved wood she had clearly been working away at instead. While a normal woodcarver or carpenter relied on the a carving knife, evidently a Transmutator had more talents than stealing the earth from beneath him.

Like the way she rubbed her hands, he recognized a nervous tic when he saw one.

“Maybe I was waiting for you to make the first move.” she said.

“Doubt it. You always kissed me first.”

“Maybe I was expecting some give and take.”

“And you’re just voicing it now? That’s not healthy.”

“Robin,” she said, her particular brand of Corrosion found the block of wood, whittling away at it, finding a shape underneath the rectangle that it once was. She wasn’t bad at it. “What do you want me to say? I’ve never enjoyed it much. As a means of mutual connection, it’s… adequate. As a bi-weekly pastime, it seriously gets old.”

“Bi-weekly? What kind of relationships have you --,” Again, the unwelcome feeling of realization creeping up his neck. “No, seriously. Have you ever been with anyone before? I’m not playing to seduce the frigid virgin.”

“Yeah,” she said quietly. She was beginning to etch little doodles into the wood, rudimentary pictures that match her erratic thoughts. “Robin, please don’t make a big deal out of this. I can do the deed-”

“I don’t want you to feel like you have to,” Robin interrupted, annoyed that somehow he’d become the bully in this, “If you don’t want to that’s fine,” he sighed, his eyes softening, “But I need to feel wanted.”

To his incredible surprise, her hand left the stack of papers he was sure she would return to working on. Oh gods, this was serious. If she chose this over work, this was going to be a firestorm.

“Sit down.” she said.

He did, to the surprise of them both.

“I want there to be no misunderstandings between us when it comes to this,” she said. “We are going to have this conversation once and never, ever again. You will not make mention of it, you will not snidely allude to it, you will not bring it up in an argument or a fight. Crystal?”

The floor cracked as the earth burped up shiny rocks. “Crystal,” Robin said, smug. He didn’t know what he won, but he felt like he’d done something to his advantage.

She shrugged. Apparently she didn’t like what the block of wood had turned out to be. She gathered the shavings and sprinkled it over the little, lopsided doll she had made and a soft glow surrounded them. “It’s like charity this thing, I guess. Sometimes when the mood strikes you, it can be fun. Otherwise it’s a complete waste of everyone’s time.”

“I don’t want charity-”

“I didn’t mean-”

“I’m not a sex-starved idiot huddling against the side of brothel in a desperate hope of something more. I’m good-looking, healthy, and young -- and there’s no point in playing pretend if you think you’re doing me the favor. Seriously, why don’t I just find someone else, anyone else, for the physical part?” Robin knew Zipper wanted something from him -- it just wasn’t sex.

“This is going to be a very long conversation if you take every single thing I say and twist it to the worst possible meaning, Robin.” Zipper said, and it dawned on him that she was the reasonable one this time again.

What did it say about him when Zipper was playing mediator?

He didn’t want to think about it.

“I don’t dislike it,” she said. “But if you need the extra juice-”

“Please don’t say juice.”

“-I’m okay with you going somewhere else for it.” Was this really Zipper? For someone as controlling as her, for someone who needed every piece laid out on the table, for someone who couldn’t even sit down on someone else’s chair out of some insane hygiene fetish, she seemed ridiculously lax about sexual territory. He had seen Karem’s champion tear apart a spark beast in a wild frenzy, and this thing playing out between them now matched that memory in sheer macabre.

“And then what are you getting out of this? Out of us?” Robin asked, gravel peeling apart the rotting wood panels beneath their feet. It wouldn’t be long before the earth reclaimed the land under the building -- at least if he stayed here much longer. “It’s just an emotional thing for you? Or is it an experiment to see if you have anything left to feel?” His voice was brittle and bitter, a lemon just past the point of being ripe.

“Robin, what is this really about?”

He hadn’t wanted to define them, or at least he’d thought he hadn’t. Robin wouldn’t bring up Hans, not again, or how he’d left him and how’d they’d never decided who they were to each other. Something inside him threatened to boil over and he pushed against it, his throat tensing, his eyes wider, but he pushed back again and again.
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Sun Feb 04, 2018 4:59 am

The under whispered to him, promising the security no human would ever bring him. Warm and gentle, it lulled out in sighs and careful melody. “I don’t know, I --,” he breathed, acutely aware of his chest and the thing inside. “I want to know what you want.”
More quiet.

She looked at him like he just asked her the most inexplicable question in the world… but she didn’t scream at him or shout at him. She didn’t call him dumb or stupid or ignorant. She simply leaned back further in her chair and clasped her hands in front of her, as if she was thinking on something that had no easy answer.

“I didn’t know what Hans wanted, besides me. I thought it was enough, but it wasn’t,” he offered, a quiet confession, “So I need to know,” he wouldn’t give himself another Hans. “I need to know-”

“I had someone when I was younger.” she interjected a little too harshly “A lot younger than now. He was sly, aloof, and he was broken in a way I could relate. He wasn’t an orphan but he might as well have been. We were friends for a long time, loved for awhile, and then it didn’t work. It didn’t work because we weren’t made to work.” she took a deep breath, as if any form of personal confession took a toll out of her. “I had someone in the army. It was… It was a competition, I think. A dare. A challenge. It only worked because there was never a dull moment in conflict… until it was. And now there’s you.” she said. “Now there’s you. I want… someone who isn’t, on some level, a replica of myself, a mirror of everything real and everything broken. I want someone who doesn’t see the world as a fractured mess waiting to be pieced together.”

“I don’t know what you’re getting at-”

“I want to be happy!” she shouted. Her face was blank but her voice was everything that wasn’t on it. Then, in a softer, quieter voice, she said: “I want to try to be happy for once.”

Once upon a time, Robin had wanted that -- but it had been a long time since he’d ever thought anyone could make him happy. People proved to be a disappointment, or painfully worse, he proved to be their mistake. He sighed and a breeze bloomed between them, stirring over the table and over Zipper, gently cupping her face. “I can’t give --,”

And then a thought. “I met an immortal once, in Ne’haer. Karem,” he said, his eyes careful on hers and her body. The deities above were a sore subject for any Etzori. When she didn’t seem to object to the story, he continued. “She gave me this,” he pulled out his pendant, wolf-shaped with emerald eyes, and surely, to her eyes, pulsing with divine power, “And told me to find a pack. Or let loneliness strangle any happiness I could have ever felt.”

The earth bucked under them, a sudden shock. “I didn’t understand her, not until now. I always thought the elements were already my pack, but…” he sighed heavily, his own sincerity curdling his comfort into something awkward. “They mirror me, in every way. You don’t. A pack shouldn’t. Maybe --,”

“Maybe we should focus on the personal aspect of us. Maybe you’re right -- I can find someone else to be physical with, another part of the pack, if that makes sense. We should try just, I don’t know, being there?” he paused, before clarifying, “for each other.”

More quiet. Always that eerie quiet between the big responses.
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Zipper
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Sun Feb 04, 2018 5:00 am

She reached out to touch the pendant, fondling it between her hands, no doubt savouring the taste of its ether, of the way it was made in the sight of Emea. Her breath quickened a little as she seemed to touch it with her mind - she had mentioned once or twice that she was an attuner - but he had taken for that for granted in lieu of the fact that she was so dominantly a Transmutator first and foremost. She seemed almost hesitant to dig in to it.

“An odd frequency,” she said, puzzled. She let the carving slide away to the desk, half-repaired. “It’s empty to me - which means its beyond me. I don’t doubt its of the accursed immortals. I think-”

She then jerked his head over by the pendant, dragging him and half his body over the table as she leaned forward herself, both of them as close to each as they had ever been without kissing or staring each other down. She had pretty eyes, he thought, prettier still when they weren’t filled with anger or revulsion. Pretty eyes to go with a pretty face and a pretty figure and she wasted so much of it reminding everyone of everything else about her.

But not even that now.

Here she was amiable, vulnerable, even willing to take a step he didn’t think she would for him.

“We both made a commitment.” she said. “And I… I’m not opposed to it if you want it.”

“I just need you to be there for me. And I’ll do the same.”

“Let me… I need to get in the mood. It’s not easy for me.” she pressed herself to his neck and sniffed deep, dragging him even further onto the desk until his knees were pressed fully against it. It took awhile for him to realize she wasn’t smelling him, not really, but immersing herself in his latent ether, finding the touch of his resonance of what she called a frequency.

She had him. She had him and for once Hans didn’t.
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Sun Feb 04, 2018 5:00 am

The floor cracked at his feet. The dirt soured as he allowed her to push up against him; the earth remembered Hans. Robin decided not to. He wondered, idly, why she even bothered. There was an obvious disconnect between them -- he wanted what she naturally didn’t. His magic demanded a connection while hers severed the organic part of her soul into something that craved understanding and demanded submission.

Robin gave her his obedience. He played the part she needed, even if the earth hated him for it.

He reciprocated her body with his, an afterthought to her every movement. Her hand found the collar of his shirt and she decided that he didn’t need it anymore. Corrosion traced a line from the line of his neck to his chest and then his stomach, cutting a straight, precise line through his clothes. Fire, the only element that seemed willing to encourage her, burned away lightly at the white cotton seams of her blouse. She flinched visibly, and he couldn’t tell whether it was at the heat or the kind of naked vulnerability that seemed anathema to her, but there was no greater protest than that little bit she gave. He ran a finger over her bare chest, his fingers dancing across before his hands found her neck.

Robin followed her mouth with his, becoming an echo to her desire. There was a small part of him, a quiet voice that warned that was all he could ever be.

Once upon a time, long ago, a boy had broken his heart. Zipper, too, would add a crack in her own way, but at least he was prepared. This time, he knew what the tightening of his chest meant -- and he knew how to survive it.
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Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:41 pm

Review
Robin

Knowledges:
Detection: Pieceing together the clues to find an answer
Detection: Understanding when to get serious
Detection: Sensing anxiety
Discipline: Holding back verbal retaliation
Discipline: Holding back the elements
Discipline: Quashing old hurts
Discipline: Banishing the specter of Hans
Intimidation: Pressing a social advantage

Loot: Nada
Injuries/Overstepping: none
Fame:
Points: 15

Zipper

Knowledges:
Attunement: Frequency - Robin
Carpentry: Carving a little doll
Carpentry: Relief carving
Carpentry: Transmutation is its own carving knife
Carpentry: Using Corrosion to work away at wood
Carpentry: Using Sculpting to undo an error
Carpentry: Whittling
Carpentry: Wood carving
Robin: Has a divine necklace from Karem

Loot: No, not for you
Injuries/Overstepping: none
Fame:
Points: 15, Attunement

Comments: Haha Zipper is so jaded. I love how Robin pokes her buttons and I am sensing some deep dysfunction between these two! This dysfunctional fight here seems so real, made me read this one twice. Good job guys, very well written.
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“That is not dead which can eternal lie, And with strange aeons even death may die.” - Lovecraft
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