• Closed • Our Particular Talent (Anya)

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Quiet
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Our Particular Talent (Anya)

39th of Saun, 718


Her eyes gleamed with an honest vibrance which Quiet hadn’t yet seen in this town.

Her hands, marked by an unknown influencer so that the tips of her fingers and the veins up to her elbows tinted a sort of deep, energetic purple, were shaking with a greed of potential.

One of which was placed, forcefully, on the wall to Quiet’s left, preventing him from ducking out of the alley. The other moved as she spoke, denoting a sort of desperation with her words. Quiet unconsciously attempted to read into her movements, looking for words, but funding only babbling, a screaming of noises as silent as its movement.

It pointed, shaking as she said “I know that you speak Common.”

The eyes she looked through were grayed, hungered. The bagged skin under them told Quiet of the nights spent awake, thirsting.

She flipped oily, ragged hair from in front of her face. What was once blonde but had been so disregarded that it now seemed brown. It landed at her ear like a rope flung around the side of a building. Her hand shook, moving here and about as she explained to Quiet.

“I can smell it on you.” She said, placing her nose on the side of his head and inhaling deeply, giggling to herself in glee. When her mouth opened, Quiet smelled her disrepair. “I know what you are,” she said, smiling with blackened teeth.

He pressed himself further back against the wall of the alleyway, wishing he could disappear from the situation, disintegrate into the wall and never be noticed by her again. He didn’t know what she had planned for Quiet. He didn’t know when she beckoned him into the alleyway to help her. He didn’t know when he passed her on the street and seemed to pique her interest.

“Oh, am I scaring you, bunny?” She asked, feigning innocence as she moved away from his head, looking him once again in the eye. She placed her off hand on her chest. “I just wanted to tell you how similar we are!” She said, her facade dropping, breaking into a smile again. “You know, I’m not from around here, either. No no, I’m from a place veeeery far away. I’m here to do…” She looked both ways down the alleyway, in an exaggerated sort of way. “Secret things.”

She looked at Quiet, stifling laughter. She caressed his cheek with nails too long and too dirty, cracked and yellowed. “I can’t decide what to do with you, bunny.”

Quiet refused to make eye contact, staring straight ahead.

“You could do secret things with me if you want, bunny.”

He didn’t look at her.

She grabbed him by the cheek, her thumb and forefingers digging into either side of his face, forcing him to glance down and look at her.

“Pay attention to me. It’s not fun unless you let me play.” She said, her expression dying down to a deep concern. “Ideally you’d play along, but,” she sighed, “for all your merit, you don’t seem much fun.”

There was a moment of consideration.

“I’m just like you, honey bunny. Did you know that?”

Quiet didn’t respond.

She sighed. “Yes?” She said, moving Quiet’s head up and down, “Or no?” She moved it side to side.

“Do you need proof?” She smiled.

Quiet saw the purple in her veins rescind closer to her fingertips, moving forward up her arm, and as she did so he could begin to feel the jolt.

His cheeks burned with a dancing fire, forcing his muscles to panic and contort. The air around Quiet screamed in familiarity. She bit her lip and smiled as Quiet grit his teeth, screeching silently.

“I knew it from the second I walked by you and felt your static.” She said. “I smelled it on you.”

The jolting stopped. Quiet panted, attempting to catch his breath.

“If you don’t want to have fun doing secret things with me, bunny…” She said, using her thumb to pull down Quiet’s lower jaw. “I suppose I could always…” She stuttered, having difficulty containing herself. “Get my fix.”

She placed the tips of her nails on Quiet’s jugular.

“Show me what you can do, bunny.” She said. “Don’t use your little stick. I want to see the good shit. You know what I mean, I know you do.”

Quiet shivered, voltage still running through his body.

“You smell it on me, bunny.”

She opened her mouth, placing Quiet’s nose inside it.

Despite himself, Quiet took a breath.

And she was right, he could smell it. Smell something. Something sweet. Something inviting.

She took her mouth back, removing her arm from Quiet’s left side and streaking a slap across his face.

Quiet fell, mostly from the surprise, his quarterstaff clamoring against the paved ground, crouching.

She wrapped herself on his back, placing her nails once more on his jugular.

“Show me, bunny. Show me show me show me show me,”

The color in her arm drained as she emptied electrical ether into his vein. Quiet screamed in agony, stifling as much as he could, drowned out by the woman’s laughter.

“SHOW ME!”

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Anya
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Re: Our Particular Talent (Anya)

39 Saun 718


Peche. She swore in Bi'qat, silently cursing whatever malaise kept her up these nights. She was restless, and the rest of the initiates were all asleep, happily dozing and dreaming about being contributing members, donating to the arcane knowledge of the world. Not her.

She was a weapon.

She instead stalked the streets of Quacia, a shadow learned in its layout, molded by it, so that she could slip from side-street to side-street. It was quiet this time, barely any noise save for the scraping of shuffled feet as they scampered home, or the distinct squeak of rats as she passed them by. She stopped to examine one, seemingly knotted at the tail with another, but the two unraveled and she assumed they were doing what she had not in arcs... Peche'na. She chuckled, quiet but audible, and it startled them. They squeaked at her in defiance, outrage really, before scurrying off to whatever dark hole they called home. Anya assumed it was an omen.

She dragged scarred palms along the sides of buildings as she walked, the roughness of the stone the only sensation she could feel through the burns. Her eyes were turned upward at the darkening sky, wishing the suns would fully set already so she could slip in and out of the shadows. At this arc, it was likely that there were some unsavory denizens prowling, and though she could handle her own, she did not want the attention. After all, she was supposed to be back in her bed, not offending the sensibilities of the Quacian government.

"You're a representative of our organization, Anya," Miranda had said once, obviously tired of repeating the mantra. Perhaps she thought if she said it once a trial, Anya would listen, but they both knew that was unlikely. Instead, it had become a sort of game to the two of them; Anya would push the boundaries of what was acceptable, and Miranda would smack her hand and tell her no. Over time, the leash had gotten longer, and now, Miranda didn't even bother to mention Anya's nightly walks over breakfast. The two had an unspoken agreement that as long as Anya only caused minor disturbances, her freedom could continue in its current state. It was an accord Anya had no issues with, and one she intended to keep for her own sanity.

But the world had a way of inserting itself into her plans, whether it was her house catching fire or a man being abused by a woman in an alleyway. Anya did not know it, but the sleeplessness that drew her out that particular trial may have been a blessing in disguise, if she believed in the Immortals. More likely, she just needed some fresh air, and this man needed a hand, and what else was she doing? She couldn't blame herself for wanting a taste of the action.

But something was off, and though Anya could sense it, she didn't want to rush into something unawares. Miranda's second rule: "Know thy enemy". She was sure someone older and wiser had conceived it, but Miranda hammered it into her head constantly when she first came to Quacia, and Anya wasn't going to forget it now. Dropping into a crouch, she drew closer to the alleyway, hiding around a corner and listening. The woman, obvious from the seductive timbre of her voice, taunted the man, calling him pet names and wanting something from him. Anya knew women overcome with lust, but from the sounds of this one, she wanted something that the man couldn't provide. Perhaps he was a eunuch, or preferred other men... Or he just wasn't interested in being beating into copulation.

Peeking around the corner, the shock-blonde of Anya's hair dipped low as she tried to catch a glance of the man. He was young, and silent, and the woman seemed only to be more infuriated by that. She slapped him hard, the resounding crack causing Anya's hairs to stand on end, but it was the shrieks that gave her chills. It was inhuman, the sounds the man was making, as if the very flesh on his bones were being seared off. Frowning, Anya observed the woman from behind, unable to see whatever weapon she was using. Looking around, Anya saw very little she could use as a weapon, but she needed to help the man. Clenching her first, she pushed from behind the corner of the building, striding confidently in the direction of the two.

"Hasta!" Anya's words were loud, brash, meant to distract the woman. And distract it did. When the graying eyes turned to Anya, she could see the displeasure, the hunger, the... She wasn't sure. Masochism? Sadism? She struggled to find a word for it.

"Oh, another bunny? Perhaps you speak Common..." She said, rising from Quiet. She took a step towards Anya, and the wind blew gently at Anya's back. She clenched her fists.

"Qes, I speak Common. What's going on here?" She asked, defiant. The woman smiled, amused at Anya's show of courage.

"I was merely speaking with my friend here, but he's not cooperating. I asked him a question... You know how it is; men never respond when you're talking to them. It's like they never... listen." She finished the sentence with a lunge, reaching out towards Anya. A ball, a globule of purple energy, floated from her open hand. Anya, caught off guard, barely ducked out of the way as it glided past her, the sound of echoing crackling emanating from it. Anya ducked and rolled, coming up clumsily on her feet nearer to Quiet. Looking down to make sure he was alive, she looked back at the Aberrant.

"You'll forgive me if I question your motives," Anya declared, and Called the wind to aid her as she rushed forward. She swung her left fist hard in an arc, powered by the gust of wind behind her, but the Aberrant easily ducked it, darting away.

"Oh, you too? This is going to be interesting," she purred, and Anya dropped into a defensive stance. The quiet man, he was starting to stir. "I'm going to eat you both."

What?
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Fingers scraped against cobblestone streets, unsure of motive or direction.

“Speak common?” He heard through ringing ears, no doubt failing to pick up some words spoken. The language typically eluded Quiet’s comprehension, and even moreso in the jumble of sensory overload that plagued him now.

But the response was impossible to miss.

“Yes, I speak Common.” He heard.

New voice.

New footsteps.

His ears were recovering. His vision coming into focus, struggling like an unpracticed muscle with an unreasonable, but feasible, weight. The image shook before it focused, and those scraping fingers found for themselves a quarterstaff, which he gripped like a child grasping for its mother.

He pulled it close, jostling it against the pavement, audibly jumping with every stone it passed over.

Overhead, he felt the woman jump away from him, towards the new voice.

Slowly, with much concentration, Quiet shifted his gaze towards the silhouette at the alley entrance, and his abuser who opposed her.

He couldn’t see her details, but as soon as the both of them entered his frame of vision, his focus snapped back into place, as if the effects had a time limit and they had worn off.

His staff was in his hand.

The wind was screaming at him.

He knew what he had to do.

Quiet popped up, his muscles not entirely at peace with his actions, but not protesting them in such a way to hinder his intentions. Pins and needles jabbed his joints with acute justice, but Quiet couldn’t feel it over the adrenaline.

Now was not the time for thinking.

The woman was distracted, throwing an unidentified object at the newcoming distraction.

Now was the time for action.

Quiet could feel the way one feels when one is placed in a situation in which thinking would be counterintuitive, in which one’s instincts assume survival is the paramount concern.

But Quiet’s instincts had assistance.

In a gust of wind, he pushed himself to his feet, quarterstaff ready.

Instincts ready.

He felt the wind guide him upwards. He turned towards a wall, while his abuser was still well distracted. He placed a hand on it, pushing up at around hip height, and, immediately once reaching around five feet above the ground, turned, placing his opposite foot on the other wall, kicking off one final time.

He raised his quarterstaff above his head, calling the wind to push the weapon downwards.

He fell, his staff striking down with a two-handed blow, Quiet gripping his weapon by its end to increase its velocity.

He struck his abuser in the back of the head, his staff falling to the ground with a crack half as audible as the sound of its impact on the woman’s skull.

Quiet’s soles ached from the fall, his palms stung from the reverberation of the staff.

But he would put himself through that pain a thousand times over to be able to cause this predator any amount of pain.

Quickly, like the wind, Quiet stood up straight in defensive position, his staff held at ready for mid-ranged defense.

The woman reached to the back of her head, touching a bit of blood, but the wound’s severity was difficult to discern under her thick, oily scalp.

“I…” She said, inspecting the blood on her fingers. She turned to Quiet, her cheeks flush. “I thought we had something, bunny.” She said, her voice cracking a bit. “I was going to show you secret things. I would have shown you anything you wanted,”

Her voice wasn’t enticing. It wasn’t attempting to sway Quiet; it was mourning a battle it had lost. It was genuine, and it was pained, and it confused Quiet moreso than any of her attempts at persuasion.

“I thought you were good.” She said. “You Seeker whore!” She screamed, her mouth pointing up at the sky.

She brought herself to look at Quiet once more. “I wasn’t going to eat up your spark, I promise,” she coaxed. “You have far too much potential, bunny. Sure, you’re a bit,” she motioned at him, Quiet reflexively tensed. “A bit… Ameteur, but with all that wind whipping up around you?” She sighed. “You could have been something.”

She sighed.

“We coulda been something wonderful, bunny. I could have given you a whole bunch of new tricks to learn. I thought we had a real…”

She grinned, a little twinkle in her baggy, gray eyes.

“Spark.”

With that, she sent her hand forward, the purple tinge nearly completely draining from her arm, a ball roughly the size of a head floating towards Quiet.

It enveloped him. His nerves stung and ached and burned. His ears rang and his vision failed. Is nose smelled roses and decomposition and fire and his mouth tasted dirt.

But nothing was more sobering than the woman breaking his defenses.

Her nails dug into his cheeks, and Quiet had to shut his eyes to protect them.

Instinctively, he thrust out his palm, asking the wind to assist him in his intention, and it kindly obliged.

A small, sharp, tight gust blasted the stranger in the eye, which distracted her enough for him to put some space in between the two, which he used to make a quick blind jab at her nose.

He was keeping his ground, but he couldn’t fight all night.

Something would have to give.

Soon.

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Anya had to be impressed at the man's tenacity, rising from the ground to a fighting position quickly. Frowning, though, she saw the instability in his form, the aching way he lumbered into position on the wall. She could feel the wind around her moving, angling towards him instead of her, and something clicked with her. As he fell from the sky with his staff in hand, she had a feeling that he was being assisted as much as she was, and the woman was simply not afraid. So whatever she had wanted, it had to do with the man's Spark, with his power. How like an Aberrant to desire the power.

Anya's fists clenched tightly as the woman turned toward Quiet, acting as if she had almost forgotten about the Seeker behind her. There was something off about the woman, something that niggled at Anya's trained senses, as if there was an important sliver of information that was just without her reach that would set all of this in line for her. Her teeth set on the edge, she stalked forward behind the woman, the dark spot of blood barely visible in the waning light. For all the power behind the blow, it didn't look like it had done much damage, and the woman was still conscious and speaking. There was something missing. Something Anya was missing.

There was an air of power around the woman, her grayish eyes and her countenance. The way she spoke to Quiet implied she knew about him, that she had been watching and studying him. Anya couldn't understand why, and it didn't seem that the quarterstaff wielder knew the woman before him. From the way they attacked each other, he wouldn't have been surprised if they had been mortal enemies in multiple lives, and she couldn't piece it together. There was too much before her, too much to take in and process, and everything was happening quickly.

One moment, the assailant was lamenting her loss with the man, and the next, she was attacking, wracking his body with her strange purple energy. All Seekers knew that Aberration existed, but Anya had never seen it in person until now. But when she saw it, she knew immediately what it was, and she withdrew in horror. The woman before her really meant she would eat them... She was a Flayer. And like that, everything came together, everything made sense. She knew the male mage, she was an Aberrant... She was Ellasin's.

And like that, something inside her ignited, the fire of her hatred consuming everything around her, dousing it in a fiery haze. Clenched fists called to the earth, asking it to fly from its spot towards the woman, who was backpedaling away from the air Defier. The stone slammed, one and two, into her shoulder, spinning her. The gray eyes, seeking wildly for the source, settled on Anya and she knew what she had done. Anya's face was death, her eyes were the promise of pain, and the Aberrant smiled, sadistic stare meeting Anya's. One of them was going to die this trial.

Probably Anya, but she was fine with that. She had no Fire to use, so she used what she could. The air around her blew behind her, jostling the dreaded locks of her hair, and when she moved, it was with a noticeable boost to speed. She closed the distance quickly, jabbing out with her hand to distract the Aberrant from whatever spell she was going to use. She followed with a left hook, calling on the power of the wind behind her arm to increase the velocity. When it connected, it jarred the woman, who stumbled backwards but kept upright. A thin rivulet of blood rushed down her lip, and when Anya stalked back in, the woman was ready. Anya swung, and the Aberrant caught her by the wrist.

The pain wasn't what she noticed first. It was the cold, followed by the heat, like her body couldn't decide how to regulate itself. The epicenter of the growing ache was her wrist, but she felt as if her whole body was trying to pull itself apart, unsure of whether it was hot or cold, existent or not, moving or static. She wanted to scream, but she wasn't sure her throat still existed. She wanted to gasp for air, for help, for anything, but the only thing she knew was this chaotic feeling of pain and anguish. It blossomed like a flower of blood from her wrist, soaking her entire body in agony until she was on one knee. She stared up into the cold grey eyes, amused at the sight of her weakness, and the fire inside her roared. With her last bit of strength, she swung a leg and kicked the woman hard in the stomach. She doubled over and released Anya, offering the slightest reprieve from the sensation. Her muscles still jolted and twitching, tingling spreading from the point of contact into her belly. Anya scrambled away on limbs she could barely feeling, drawing herself up next to Quiet as she used the wall behind her to climb shakily to her feet. She looked at him, staring into his eyes.

"We have to work together," she said, watching to see if he understood her. He had said nothing so far, but she wasn't sure if he was deaf and dumb, or just dumb. She had to hope just the latter.
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A new world filled with promise is what Quiet had expected.

Air of a different flavor is what Quiet had expected. A world - an entire world - of wonder undiscovered is what Quiet had expected.

He hadn’t seen it.

He’d seen gray skies and grayer buildings and even grayer dispositions.

An ecosystem demented by the hand of an ancient monstrosity of some undefined artificial creation. Bent towards the elimination of those with red blood in their veins.

Those with red blood scarred by the necessity of survival to hate their world.

His journey here had been framed as a miracle, and he as a pioneer. A trailblazer.

The first of his kind.

And yet, Quacia felt like punishment.

His only friend - true friend - had been The Gift. The wind in his ears, curling and pushing him towards destinations he had grown a sorrowful apathy towards reaching.

No hope could be found here, he felt, for anything even loosely defined as a worthwhile engagement for his people. Not even the people of this land held value. No promise. An unfulfilled people, shells of what may have once been whole.

Hope had been lost.

Until two bricks from the paved ground on which Quiet stood loosed themselves from their holding and launched themselves in the way that only the people of New Haven could ever incite them too, and, when Quiet took breaths in from that moment after, familiarity bombarded his senses. The smell of home. Of the forest when he practiced his craft with his mentor. Of demonstrations, of initiations, of a place he hadn’t realized until just this moment he had missed so vehemently that the nostalgic metric it set had made every judgement Quiet made after the fact suffer. He had smelled something similar on his abuser when forced to, but this… This was true.

This was home.

He knew what the woman was.

She was like him.

She hadn’t lived her life in an eden undiscovered like he had.

She hadn’t worked her life for her people like he had.

She hadn’t been chosen for Reception.

She hadn’t been gifted an honor as exclusive as it was prestigious.

But she and Quiet shared a piece of the same soul, altered by nature’s gift.

She didn’t look like him. Her alien markings and her pale skin, her odd hair color and her untrained fighting methods.

But she was more like Quiet than he could have ever known.

She was what his abuser had promised she had been.

Whoever this woman was, whatever her motives were, she was something Quiet had to protect.

She was his sister.

She had The Gift.

Quiet looked at her with a determination without desire. He looked at her with a certainty untainted by duty. She said to him “We have to work together.”

Quiet, in that moment, would have died in that alleyway. He would have given himself to lie, broken and discarded, in the foreign streets of an empty city if this woman lied with him, as his kin.

He looked at her form, and recognized the pain she felt. He knew it would fade. But he also recognized the pain, and how intense it would be for a good while. The chest, rising and falling so rapidly. The eyes, struggling to see past their shaking and focus on the world beyond the bridge of her nose.

He nodded to her. “Yes.” He said, his tones sure and certain, an accent heavy but indiscernible to his speech. “We have to work together.”

The abuser turned and gasped. “My bunny spoke to you but refused to say even the littlest of words to me!”

She placed a hand on her chest. “I’m so jealous of you, aj’Siera.” She giggled. “Or… Maybe calling you Tesellios would be a bit more impactful.”

The slight smile that the mage had sported twisted itself, contorting into a wide and lopsided grin, the corners of her mouth reaching up far past where most lips would stretch, revealing twice the amount of teeth that any natural-made individual would have.

He sensed her hunger. The air around her vibrated and sang a tune of fearful displeasure as she opened up her mouth - her entire mouth - to let loose a distorted cackle. Her teeth, all of them, were blackened with disrepair, but sharp. The lips became thinner the further back they stretched, at full length reaching her cheekbones.

Quiet looked back at the woman recovering from the most recent attack.

“Rest.” He said, stepping between her and the mage.

He readied his staff, prepared to engage with the aggressor, entering attack position, placing his feet shoulderlength apart, his strong foot forward. His staff was held just a bit above horizontal, his strong hand at its top.

He pounded the butt of his staff against the ground and grunted, shooting visual daggers at the aggressor.

For the first time that night, She didn’t speak.

She just lunged.

Quiet instinctively shot his staff out in an effort to jab her in the torso, halting her progress, but she had anticipated that response. Ducking to the side and shooting out a palm to knock the staff to the side in order to slow a future attack, she slipped by Quiet, moving past him.

And towards the girl with The Gift.

Quiet moved as quickly as humanly possible, turning to face the scene as it developed, and attempt to prevent it.

But she had gotten away from his control.

“I don’t smell them on him,” she whisper-shrieked towards the direction of the girl, “I don’t know his face.”

She was getting closer, leaning into the girl. Quiet couldn’t watch, but his actions were limited.

“I know all of you scum. I memorized each and every one of you knowledge fuckers before I left Ne’haer, Anya. I wasn’t asked to.” He lips peeled back once more. “I just thought it would make it so much more gratifying when I…” she leaned in closer.

Quiet prepared.

“Did…”

He was ready.

“This.”

Her mouth opened completely, moving towards Anya’s lips. Before they reached, however, Anya would feel a blast of warm air from behind the mage’s teeth. She would see the pupils of the mage’s eyes dilate in fear. And, as she struggled, she would watch the mage fall to her knees.

Behind the mage, Anya would see Quiet.

Holding out a hand.

Having commanded the air in the mage’s lungs to escape from within her.

The mage fell to the ground, welching and writhing as she attempted to catch the smallest amount of breath. The air around Quiet pounded him silently, gently, reminding him that this was not the way of the wind.

But Quiet had to choose between the way of the wind and the life of his kin.

He chose Anya.

Quiet released the command to prevent air from the attacker’s lungs, stepped forward, and while she gasped for breath, grabbed the hem of her shirt, dragging her away from Anya, sliding her curled-up form farther down the length of the alley.

He stepped over her body, standing with Anya.

“Stay okay.” He said, more as a command than a request, before readying himself once more for combat.

Standing side by side with Anya.


Last edited by Quiet on Sat Oct 06, 2018 4:54 am, edited 1 time in total. word count: 1247
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The smell of the sea, that was what she remembered most. It always smelled salty, and like fish. Not cooked fish, not searing fish sputtering in a pan, but old fish, drying in the sun. She remembered the way the sailors, Biqaj and human, would laugh and joke and swear and spit. She saw them from the window of the hovel she lived in, both her parents working every trial to provide enough silver nels for them to eat some of that old fish, always yestertrial's catch. She remembered the way the walls of the abode felt like a prison, but the docks themselves were home. Among the legs of the sailors, some wooden and some not, she felt like she belonged. She was molded by the city of Ne'haer, bred to be hard like the sailors that came and went. She was salty, like the seas they sailed. She was fierce, roaring waves on breaking rocks. Ne'haer, what seemed like a lifetime ago, was in her blood.

And this woman was in her head.

It had been fourteen arcs since anyone had used the name Tesellios. When her parents left, Anya forsook the name, choosing instead to take aj'Siera, 'the faithless'. It fit her, and her new Biqaj family saw no issue with her styling herself as such. That trial, fourteen arcs ago, Anya Tesellios had died, and Anya aj'Siera had replaced her. Looking into the dead gray of the woman's eyes, Anya memorized her face, every detail, scrutinizing. The high cheekbones, the widow's peak, the slight wrinkles pulling at the edges of her eyes, the full lips... The Aberrant's face was hers now, forever etched into the crevices of Anya's memory. Something about the woman, who knew Anya's name, her true name... It made Anya's hairs stand on end, and the loss of control was immediate and gutting.

Falling back defensively, Anya was shaken. She wanted to scream out at the woman, to ask her to identify herself, to explain herself. Was she a mind reader? Had she some magical power that allowed her to discern Anya's birth? Or was she truly that prepared, one step ahead of a woman she had never met? It was chilling, and Anya's mind raced for an explanation. There was a connection... Miranda, when they'd come to Quacia, had told her that there is always something that was missing when someone knew more than you did. This woman, this mage, she was someone... And she was someone who knew Anya.

And then it hit her. This woman, Miranda had warned her about. This woman had set the fire, the scars of which Anya carried on her palms and in her soul. Morgana Dare, the Coven mage that had drawn Miranda to Ne'haer in the first place. Anya hadn't considered her coming to Quacia, thinking it too obvious or dangerous for a Coven mage to come to call. But she was here, Anya was sure of it, and the look in the woman's eyes was all that Anya needed to know that she was correct.

"Morgana Dare." It was a statement, not a question, but Morgana's reaction confirmed it nonetheless. An inhuman grin consumed her face, and in an instant, she was rushing towards Anya. On the ground, still doubled over in pain, Anya was helpless to stop the woman, but she saw the man rise to guard her. She had to admit, she didn't have much faith. When Dare got close, Anya could smell the fetidness of her breath, could feel the too-warmth of it brushing her face. It was putrid, as if each tooth were rotting to its core. She was correct, Anya was not aware of the man, but she did not claim to know every face in Quacia. Outside of the Enclave, Anya knew very few people, and she preferred it that way. Had Miranda not forced her to spend time with the mages in her Enclave, Anya may not have known anyone in Quacia besides Miranda.

But it concerned Morgana, obviously, and Anya knew that was their biggest weapon: The mute's unpredictability. As Morgana drew closer, Anya tried to recoil, but couldn't. Instead, the breath blasted from Dare's lungs, wafting in a nauseating wave over Anya's face. The edges of her vision blurred momentarily as unconsciousness threatened to steal her from the moment, but then she was back in her own body, staring into the bulging eyes of the Aberrant. When she fell back, Anya scrambled backwards, away from the choking mage and her horrid breath. She pushed to her feet, bending her knees to prepare to fight the woman. The wind stilled, quiet and sad, and Anya understood the choice that Quiet had made. Reaching a tattooed hand out, she laid it on his shoulder, silently insinuating that he no longer needed to command the wind. Instead, the two now stood side-by-side, staring down at the Coven mage whose breath was slowly returning. She sputtered and pushed to her feet, gracefully, with a baleful glare.

"You think that, because I offered to share my secrets with you, I won't kill you, bunny?" Her voice was mocking but cold. She stared hard at Quiet's face, measuring the determination behind his eyes, before turning back to Anya. "And you, you think this runt will save you? I've traveled a long time, searching, for you and yours. Do you really think that I would have come this far without a little... assurance?"

The word made Anya's skin crawl. She knew that the woman probably had accomplices in the city, hidden away as was the crux of the Coven's operations. Suddenly, Anya felt eyes everywhere, but more than that, felt the rage inside her build. The embers caught spark in her chest, where the heat rose to her cheeks. She wanted to scream, to cry out and hit Morgana, to kill her... The burnt skin of her palms itched suddenly, reminding Anya of all that Morgana had done to her, had taken from her... And the dam broke.

Fury fueled fists, and Anya advanced upon Morgana with hatred in her eyes. Her right arm swung, then her left, a barrage of blows that took Dare back, but never landed. Instead, the woman danced gracefully away, laughing in mockery as Anya kept coming. To the Defier, the Coven mage was taunting her, pulling her closer and closer in, but rationale brought nothing to temper the forge of her anger. She knew she was outmatched, and likely outwitted, but Anya was powerless to stop it. She Called the wind to speed her steps, to push her farther and faster, to close the gap between she and the laughing sorceress. When she drew close, Morgana simply darted away again, and again Anya pursued. There were two options. Kill Morgana Dare.

Or die trying.
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Quiet
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Re: Our Particular Talent (Anya)





“You have no idea what I can do,” were her words.

Snarling, her lips stretching, hissing through gritted teeth, words coming out less like the rotten candied apples as they had when she was being playful and more, now, like a diseased worm, slithering in desperation from under the dirt during rainfall for the hope of some sort of release.

Quiet watched as Anya flew towards Morgana Dare with a determination so vividly violent that the vehement viscerality of Anya’s potential perturbed Quiet into inaction - a standby passenger witnessing the wreck of the ship he had locked himself to the mast of. Much as the invention of the ship was the invention of the shipwreck, allowing Morgana to continue engaging with Anya very much proved to be the invention of this particular downfall.

Between Anya and Quiet, both had landed solid hits on the aggressor mage, who had been proven in batches to be far capable of an adversary than Quiet ever could have anticipated. Or have ever anticipated, really. While he did not have the time nor the opportunity to react to it currently, Dare’s abilities astounded and terrified Quiet. He was reminded of the creatures which existed outside the realm of natural order that he had unfortunately become acquainted with during his time in Quacia, but it didn’t churn his stomach the same way. It didn’t pain his sensibilities.

It was something far more terrifying than that.

It felt close to home. It felt like a reality Quiet hadn’t considered, but one that had existed for as long as The Gift had. He felt a demented sort of kinship - the kind he had never wanted to feel and the kind he never expected to feel. The kinship he felt with Anya was deep and impenetrable. Immediate and incredible.

He was a cousin with Morgana as the water was with spit.

Whatever abilities she held, Quiet held that potential, and so did Anya, and so did anyone else who had been given The Gift. That fear, the sensory overload, the pain and the confusion… That chaos was Quiet’s capability.

And he prayed to the wind which guided his hand that there were other ways of utilizing that power.

That the force held within him had not been bastardized.

That it hadn’t been bastardized by her.

The moment that last syllable left her lips, the last shortened ‘ooh’ sound from ‘do’, the color drained from her forearms as she crossed them across the elbow.

Quiet saw Anya wind up for her next blow, her fist curled tight, windup strong and intent on punishment. The veins on her forehead were more apparent, the wrinkles on the inside of her eyes intensify as she focused her vision on her target, her teeth jutting from behind her lips as she screamed her intensity.

But he saw Morgana stop.

She didn’t attempt to dodge the blow.

Quiet acted fast. He grabbed the hem of Anya’s collar, pulling her away from Morgana’s immediate vicinity. In a moment’s decision, he overshot his defense. Much like when he pulled Dare from Anya to prevent whatever malicious intent she had just a moment earlier, he pulled Anya from Dare now for the same purpose, sliding her against the pavement as far as he could.

He turned to Morgana as she released the attack she had charged for, her arms shooting downwards.

Quiet could perceive Dare’s previous attacks.

He could perceive when and how Anya would be in danger.

He counted himself as a particularly observant individual, somewhat quick in his observational skills.

But this happened too quick.

Quiet had turned, slamming his quarterstaff on the ground, pleading with the air to provide him a barrier.

But it was too fast.

And it would have been ineffective.

The first thing one would notice is the deafening WHOOSH, the eldritch and shattering sound of expansion.

The second, not even a half moment after, would be the scream. The horrible, welching, life-is-ending scream from the center of the massive bubble of chaos incarnate that had surrounded Morgana.

Then, third, would be the massive burst of air, rushing from Quiet’s position, unable to protect him from that which could not be rightly defended against with the support of the wind alone.

This bubble would grow, encapsulating the both of them, coming so close as to nearly brush the soles of Anya’s feet, before retreating in an instant.

When the bubble dissipated after but a moment, Morgana was gone.

Quiet’s knees faded.

The sensation was indescribable.

It was numbing.

It was loud.

And it was overwhelming.

Quiet, staff in hand, collapsed.

Without ceremony.

Without pomp.

Without circumstance.

Against the Quacian cobblestone.


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Re: Our Particular Talent (Anya)



Karyk once told Anya that, in order to be a friend to someone, you must make a sacrifice for them. When she responded by asking what he'd sacrificed for her, he held his arms out, to show her the sea on which they sat. That trial, she understood. She understood that it took the choice, the action, of giving something for someone else to bind them. She was bonded to Karyk because he sacrificed the sea for her, sailing and fishing for her... He became a father to her, not because he was forced to, but because he had chosen to become that to her. And Anya, she'd never repaid that debt, leaving Ne'haer without ever speaking to Karyk. Perhaps he thought she died in the fire...

She wished she had sometimes.

But what she saw Dare take from Quiet was beyond a sacrifice. Anya did not know the man's name, didn't know a thing about him, but when the warped sphere dissipated, there stood Quiet, staring as if he did not know where he was. The look in his eyes was distant, cold and faraway, and Anya could feel the confusion palpable in the air. It was like the wind itself was confused, still and anxious. It didn't know what to do, like it's connection to Quiet was what kept it dynamic. Slowly, the staff fell, and in what seemed like bits, so too did Quiet. Anya, the air gelatin around her, waded through the thickness of it while struggling to draw breath. She crouched, holding a tattooed finger beneath's Quiet's nose to ensure he was still breathing. A shallow, hot gust told her that he was, but just barely. Grunting, Anya slid arms beneath him and lifted, and though the skinny Defier wasn't much, he was too heavy for her to lift alone. She wanted to scream, to cry or sob or give up, but she couldn't. Friends never gave up.

And crouched again, trying instead to loop his arm over her neck. His head lolled limply, and she Called the Earth beneath her to slowly lift Quiet at an incline, allowing it to fall back when he was upright. Once she got him there, his weight was manageable. She began the slow shamble back to the Enclave, senses are fire while waiting for Morgana to step from whatever shadow pit in which she resided, biding her time. Anya's slow pace left her at risk, but she found nothing as she half-carried, half-dragged Quiet through the streets of the city. Sparsely populated, even those out would turn corners or fade into the gloom to avoid the two moving through the city. Anya spit at each as they passed, glaring at those petulant enough to still be visible as they passed. One holding a lantern leaped in surprise as the flame from the candle drew itself toward Anya, heating the glass sheathe around it to the touch. The astonished glance that followed would have brought a smile to the aj'Siera had she not been struggling to carry Quiet home.

Home. Not his. Hers. But she couldn't leave him in that alley, and she did not know where it was he called home. He could have been anyone or no-one, but she couldn't leave him there. His sacrifice was paid; now it was time for hers. As she approached the great stone walls to the Celestial Enclave, the massive gargoyle sentinels stared down at her. Hideous faces smooth from weathering mocked her as she drew near, Quiet's consciousness slowly returning as he took a few weak steps to try and help her.

"Easy now," she said in a soft voice. It wasn't her voice; it was the voice of the sirens that wooed the sailors on leave. It was the bar-whore's coo, the promise of silken sheets and companionship. Her only friends were pirates and smugglers; she didn't know how to comfort a fellow more than what she saw in the Crest Break or similar establishments. The gates ground open, and there stood Miranda, lips pursed.

"Would that I were surprised, Anya," she said dully, her hair long and mahogany this trial. Her hands rested on her hips, and the flattering form-fitting dress nearly scraped the ground. She did not appear prepared to help Anya, but she said nothing as she crouched under Quiet's other arm. The weight lifting off her shoulders made Anya feel as if she were floating, and by the time the three appeared in the medical wing of the college, Anya's breathing had all but returned to normal.

"Who is he?" Miranda's voice was bird-of-prey, circling the field mouse, and Anya felt the shame build in her breast. She looked at her Guide abashedly, but answered confidently.

"I didn't hear his name, 'lat," Anya replied, and the sharp glare from Miranda nearly silenced her. "But he saved me from Morgana Dare."

She had never seen Miranda shaken. This was the first time, and it was like hearing that a hero of legend was stricken by a common illness; she seemed weak, powerless, and she stammered for a moment before composing herself.

"Morgana Dare? Impossible. We would know if she were in the--" Anya took a dangerous step forward, challenging the haughty expression of her Guide with a baleful glare.

"She called herself by name," lied Anya. She hadn't denied it, but she hadn't confirmed it. "But I know it was her. She called me Tesellios."

Miranda paused, realizing then that Anya was not as upset by Dare's sudden appearance, but rather that Dare knew more than Anya thought. Nodding, Miranda once again was the visage of control.

"You and I will discuss this tomorrow in the Devils of Stone." Anya was satisfied with the answer, and Quiet stirred. Miranda turned to him, strange eyes turning to meet his as they fluttered open. She greeted him in six languages, checking for any sign of recognition in any of them. Anya just watched, anxious.
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Re: Our Particular Talent (Anya)







Vision was fuzzy.

Unfocused.

The world around him specked itself in a bundle of brown, tan, and gray spots, not quite configuring themselves surely into any recognizable shape, no identifiable picture.

His body ached.

His body ached as if he had been beaten every day for ten trials with a wide, blunt object.

His body rested on pins and needles.

But the pins and needles were hot.

The last breaks stretched together, and Quiet wasn’t entirely sure where precisely he was. He saw lights dance, and assumed they were the stars. He felt his body shake and bounce against bony shoulders, he felt his body pressed by hard earth, he felt it relax against something soft.

His ears rung, but all at once, he heard a cacophony of indistinct noises. Footsteps against pavement, doors opening, speaking, words…

Common?

Was that Common?

“Mfphr-?” Quiet managed, attempting to realign his vision, his eyes shifting and blinking feverishly.

His body shivered, unable to decide precisely what pain it should be feeling.

An intense one, certainly.

But there was a sense of relief, somehow.

Somewhere in the amalgam of all the senses, all the dysfunctional muscle and nervous memories, he felt something soft, allowing him rest. He felt something unfamiliar but unmalicious. He felt a welcome, and he felt a concern. Between the spikes of unbelievable pain, he felt some part of his awareness shift.

His eyes shot open.

Really shot open.

Stone ceiling above him.

Something soft - like wide leaves of a tree, dried carefully after a gentle rain - gripped between his fingers.


As he regained awareness slowly, he noticed that the entire piece of furniture he lied upon was covered in this softness. The cushion beneath him rose to contour to his edges, like warmed sand.

From the corner of his eye, he spotted the blonde, wrapped dreads of Anya.

He tried to sputter out her name.

“Banionyah” he spit out, interrupted immediately by a cough.

“Olá,” he heard from his immediate left, from a stranger.

He immediately recognized the word as Vahanic, but he didn’t know what it meant.

His every square centimeter vibrated with a foreign, alien, unwelcome pain. Something relentless. Familiar. He felt it before from Dare’s attacks. But what was a sunburn compared to combustion?

He turned to the voice, his muscles experiencing slow, consistent, persistent spasming, his neck refusing to move proper.

It was then he became aware of the jolting, vibrous convulsions of the rest of his body. Small, as if a thousand strings were tugging him softly in a thousand different directions.

He turned to see her.

Long, a deep, rich brown. Like an old tree.

It wasn’t Anya.

He didn’t know her.

“Hello,” she said.

At this, Quiet’s eyebrows raised, his eyes popping in excitement.

“Hhhh… Hhhhhhhh...” He said, trying to force out the word, even attempting to sign it.

“Onitẹsiwaju,” she continued.

“Nnnn-... Nnnno,” Quiet attempted.

“Lev'ith,”

Quiet shuddered slightly, losing control.

“Zdravo,”

No.

“Moni,”

Quiet shut his eyes tight, focusing his energy.

His muscles screamed, threatening to twist and break as he pulled himself to sit up, swinging his legs over the side of the bed.

He moved his neck to look at the new woman.

“H… Hello.”

His faculties were beginning to return, bless the wind.

He turned his head slowly towards Anya, making eye contact with her.

He attempted to stand and move towards the woman, but his legs were not prepared for the movement, falling under him. The moment he put weight on his lower half, he fell, clattering against the floor and bouncing, like an object. He was resilient, however, and determined to prove what he meant to prove.

With an uncertain hand, he pushed himself onto his knee, stabilizing himself, quickly moving his hand to Anya’s knee to push himself up further.

He turned to the stranger.

“Shht…” He spat. “Shhhe.” He said.

His tongue felt like an object.

“Shhhe has uh Gift.” He said, celebrating, silently, his progress. “She has The Gift.”

He hopped awkwardly, to turn himself more towards the new woman.

The Gift,” he said, signing, air visibly turning around his fingers and hands as he did so, to demonstrate what he meant. “Never… Never thought Quiet would find,”

His silence was not due to his pain, which had begun to fade, but due to the lack of words he had to offer.

“Others.”

He turned to Anya once more.

He placed a hand on his knee, shakily pushing himself up to a standing position. He took one wobbly step towards her.

He placed one hand on her chest.

“An-ya.” He said, showing his understanding.

He placed that same hand to his own chest.

“Quiet.” He said, as an introduction of sorts. “You… Have Gift.” He took his hands back, signing a bit as he spoke, hoping to deliver some greater understanding to her that his words may not accomplish.

“Nature listens when you speak. Same with Quiet.” He chose his next words carefully, making sure to say them in the right order.

“You are sister,” he said.

And he meant it.


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Re: Our Particular Talent (Anya)

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Anya

Knowledge (Skill):
  • Defiance: Calling the Elements
  • Defiance: Using Wind to Move Faster
  • Defiance: The Relationship Between a Mage and Elements
  • Defiance: Using Air to Sense Movement
  • Defiance: Stone Maintains its Shape at Novice
  • Investigation: Identifying the Source of Commotion
  • Linguistics: Finding a Common Language
  • Unarmed Combat: Aggressive Attacks Break Defenses
  • Unarmed Combat: Attacking in Rage Wears You Out
Knowledge (Nonskill):
  • Morgana Dare: Burned Your House Down
  • Morgana Dare: Aberrant
  • Quiet: Defier
Injuries/Overstepping: Mild exhaustion, Mild Overstepping, considering you went all out with that Wind calling and you are still a Novice; the effects will go within 10 trials

Renown: +10 for participating in a battle with Morgana Dare

Quiet

Knowledge (Skill):
  • Polearm (Quarterstaff): Bonk
  • Polearm (Quarterstaff): Two-Handed Overhead Strike
  • Polearm (Quarterstaff): Use the Wind
  • Polearm (Quarterstaff): Default to Defensive Position
  • Polearm (Quarterstaff): Don't Rely on Blind Jabs
  • Meditation: Refocus Your Senses
  • Acrobatics: Two-Step Wall Climb
  • Defiance: Climb Higher
  • Defiance: Not Always Effective
  • Defiance: Small, Concentrated Blast
Knowledge (Nonskill):
  • Anya: Bearer of The Gift
  • City: Ne'haer
Injuries/Overstepping: Scratches on cheek, light overstepping (will go within 5 trials), but you also have Heavy Exhaustion and strain on your Ether from the malevolent ministrations of Morgana; migraines, loss of balance, nausea, muscle spasms, you'll have the lot until 10 trials have passed, and you'll get them double when you try to use your magic in any meaningful way

Renown: +10 for participating in a battle with Morgana Dare

Magic: 10 points for each of you, for inventive and accurate use of your Defiance

Notes:
Wow. Just... wow. All of this was fantastic. The pacing, the vivid descriptions, the internal narratives and especially the last couple of posts. You're both quite talented, getting a smile from this jaded old fuck more than once, I promise you! Just as importantly, you didn't overplay and were mindful of your limits, all the time. I cannot wait until that Crusty Bitch shows up again and you kick her mutant arse all over the city.

So many fantastic little touches and turns of phrase, too, oh, oh, and calling the wind OUT OF HER LUNGS?! Genius! Sorry, okay, I'm done gushing now.

Fasntastic job, guys. Enjoy yo' stuff!

Your review request is here. Also, please indicate on your request thread that this has been reviewed by using the button below (just add my name at the end). Thanks!

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word count: 440

Appearance

  • Habitually dressed in boots, breeches, tunic, and cloak.
  • Long hair down to the shoulders, usually swept back or in a rough ponytail
  • Prefers a trimmed beard and mustache

Mutations

  • Star-shaped scar on each palm.
  • Air around him seems to thicken and become more turbulent the closer a person gets to him.
  • Pitch black eyes, from tear ducts to the pupils.
  • Arms from shoulder to palms appear as if heavy chains are wrapped around them.
  • Wisps of black smoke constantly drifts around his body, forming the rough outline of a cloak. The more agitated he becomes, the thicker the layers get.
    Note: the torch-motif medallion Kasoria wears negates the visible effects of this mutation.
  • Roughly circular pattern across breastbone, constantly transforming, and resettling
  • Sunken, closed eyes in the back of hands; they open when stared at
  • Skin takes on the tone and quality of whatever material he's just Transmuted
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