• Mature • 2. no to all of that

Maxine

121st of Ashan 720

This is where the majority of dreaming threads will take place.

Moderator: Staff

User avatar
Kasoria
Peer Reviewer
Peer Reviewer
Posts: 2029
Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2016 3:34 am
Race: Human
Renown: 1260
Character Sheet
Character Wiki
Plot Notes
Templates
Wealth Tier: Tier 5

Featured

Contribution

Milestones

RP Medals

Miscellaneous

Events

2. no to all of that

121th trial, Ashan, 720



It was his memories that led him to her. Just like in the waking world, and at the same time, completely different.

The dreamer sat cross-legged on the Great Ocean, yet he did not fall into the still water. Not even ripples moved from him as he breathed in and out, body moving minutely with every inhale and exhale. Still the waters did not shudder; as if too polite or patient to disturb him. No wind whipped around his hair, shorter than in his barbaric days but still past his shoulders. Now straight and washed and easily pulled into a thick ponytail should he wish it. His clothes were equally plain, only without the scars and smears of poverty that he used to prefer.

Used to. Old days. History. That's the frame she puts you in.

So she should.


The dreamer's face twitched almost imperceptibly. No. No distractions. No whispers or doubts. Last time he'd seen her, it had been... confusing. Unplanned. Seeing her again, living and real and not just a shameful phantom of his own mind, had been... still he didn't know the words for it. He'd threatened to kill her, and he meant it. Now he meant to find her again, and... apologize? The very idea made his face want to twitch again. But much had changed, as it always did, and equally as always, he had been the last to see it. The final idiot to look back and see how much his world had shifted compared to where he'd been before.

That explained when he was nervous, now. Why it had taken him this long to focus, to quieten his mind and soul. Dredging up his memories, of every aspect she possessed from smell and sigh to vicious flashes of movement and stories she'd told him. These memories, they coalesced and congealed in his mind into the Emea. Became something real and roiling in this place formed solely of soul-stuff. Until he could almost feel it spreading out around him.

He did not try to seek her. Did not blind himself by looking only in one direction. He focused, he mediated, he breathed, and he sat without a word or sound or conscious, contemporary thought. Until he knew the scent of her in this place, and sent it wafting on the winds that were not winds until-

Kasoria's eyes snapped open. His gaze shifted. They blinked a few times, as if he were thinking. Calculating. Confirming... then the little man got to his feet, and walked across the Veil towards the door. The one that all his senses had shuddered at, for they recognized the measure of the soul he sought; the mind he was searching for in this endless place. The memory of their last meeting, the sight and feel of that door, that Dreamscape, it remained with him, and as he kept marching across the water, he knew what to expect when he saw it again.

The Raggedy Man stopped walking, after a bit or a break or a trial. It was all the same here. He ran his hand over the rough wood, banded and reinforced a dozen times over. Set into ancient and fecund stone. A cell door, he'd wager. Somewhere deep and forgotten in the world, like the Black Cells of Etzos. Older memories than the girl chittered behind his eyes and he beat them back. He needed his mind present and correct, all of it, to deal with her.

Kasoria sighed and rubbed the hilt of his gladius... then with a whispered mental command as his eyes closed for a moment, the weapon and scabbard vanished from him. No weapons. No armor. Just him, coming to talk.

There was laughter in the Veil, high and mocking, and Kasoria knew even he could not block it out. But he strode further anyway, into a sunless and hopeless world, into a memory miserable and intractable from Maxine's mind.
Last edited by Kasoria on Sat Apr 04, 2020 8:18 pm, edited 1 time in total. word count: 673
Common Speech | Thoughts | Ith'ession Speech | Speech of Others
User avatar
Max
Approved Character
Posts: 1121
Joined: Mon Nov 06, 2017 4:53 am
Race: Mixed Race
Renown: 965
Character Sheet
Character Wiki
Partner
Templates
Wealth Tier: Tier 5

Featured

Contribution

Milestones

RP Medals

Miscellaneous

Events

Re: 2. no to all of that

Image


First there was nothing. Well, whatever used to be there before, she didn't remember. All she knew was her awareness in this wretched place, Emea, felt as though it started and ended when the change arrived. It originated from somewhere deep in her subconscious, buried and dead until it crawled its way up and out of its grave like a damned thrall. It had no business coming here and resurrecting itself like that for her to remember. Nothing ever stayed dead and gone where it belonged.

Warm porridge. Shit alcohol. The smell of an old, worn book and the thwip of a page as a licked finger grumpily turned it.

Maxine knew he was here before that reinforced door groaned open. That opaque, inky water spilled somberly forth through the opened doorway like a carpet for his arrival. Like a merging of worlds. This time he did not find himself wandered into a place they shared. This one was hers alone. It was mutt of experience, manipulated and twisted into something familiar and novel all at once. Deep, eerie darkness greeted him. There was no light. The smell of death in varying degrees and dirt welcomed his arrival. Somewhere, sounding both near and far, the echo of dripping water could be heard.

"You came unarmed," Maxine broke the silence with deadly calm. Before she became adept at in thanks for circumstance, The Old Man had taught her how important listening was. What she didn't hear was the shift of a scabbard against clothing as he'd approached her world. "That was a mistake." Maybe it was a threat. Maybe it was just a mere statement of fact. "You made me a promise last time we saw each other. You said that the next time you laid eyes on me, you would kill me." There was the subtle sound of someone shifting in the darkness. "I used to think you were a man of your word."

A click. Then a flame. Maxine raised the newly lit torch to let the subtle light illuminate the man who had come searching for her. This time his arrival wasn't met with the hostility he likely expected. She just...stood there looking at him. What was that look in her eye? Disapproval? Disappointment? Maxine shook her head and slipped the torch into a small opening in the cold stone that encompassed them. These tunnels weren't those of an Etzos sewer. He likely didn't know it, but they were an imperfect replica of a small part of Level Seven in Slags Deep. She'd once called them home.

"Unless you're here to do it after all?" Max didn't raise her hands in defense. A cold, inexplicable wind howled eerily down one of the openings in the stone. "Strangle me with your bare hands? That it?" She slipped her arms out of the coat she wore and threw it on the ground. Reality was not hidden away. Scarred and angry, she hid no truth from his eyes. The only new thing on her form was the tattoo of a collar tight around her throat.

"Do it then," she bid him sharply. Her arms opened wide, inviting him. Deep, dark circles rested around her tired eyes. "Put another 'Morty Lover' in the dirt." She pulled her shirt just high enough to remind him of Chrien’s mark: a living, raging storm on her skin. Then she dropped the shirt, rolled her shoulders, and raised her chin like she was preparing herself. "Prove The Old Man's still got it!" She swallowed hard and let her arms drop into clenched fists. She had a bone to pick with the bitch she bet she'd see at death if she lost anyways.

"I'm ready!"

word count: 632
User avatar
Kasoria
Peer Reviewer
Peer Reviewer
Posts: 2029
Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2016 3:34 am
Race: Human
Renown: 1260
Character Sheet
Character Wiki
Plot Notes
Templates
Wealth Tier: Tier 5

Featured

Contribution

Milestones

RP Medals

Miscellaneous

Events

Re: 2. no to all of that

It was a place of torment, and well the visitor knew the breed. Not just a place of pain or danger, for both those things existed in nature, without any need for the shapings or intent of man. Ah. Intent. That was the distinction. Torment was fabricated. Intended. Designed. Directed. It was the majesty and creativity of the abstract mind turned towards the suffering of another. For coin, for justice, for amusement, for god or for vengeance... it didn't matter. The result was always the same. The damage looked alike, when you peeled away enough layers.

Kasoria knew a place of torment when he walked into it. Even if it he couldn't see.

"You came unarmed. That was a mistake."

He couldn't help but smile in the darkness. Threatened and blind, he should have been sweating, but he wasn't. Not outside his skin, anyway. She had learned, and kept learning, this one. Taken his teachings as foundations and built in them, while not forgetting the basic lessons. Your eyes are not your only senses, and you don't know you'll always have them. The simple scrape of leather against clothe - and even the absence of it - had tipped her off enough. The Raggedy Man nodded in the darkness, and clasped his hands together.

Wonder if she heard that, too?

"You made me a promise last time we saw each other. You said that the next time you laid eyes on me, you would kill me."

The smile died, as the memory was reborn. Kasoria closed his eyes for a moment, a futile gesture if ever there was one in such inky darkness, but it was not for the benefit of his senses. Just his mind. His memory of a dream, seasons ago. The words he'd spat and growled at her. The sting of his palm against her face. Corrupted, she had been. Stained and enslaved, yet willingly. What was more disgusting, more hateful to a free man that another who so eagerly clapped the irons on their wrists? That was what he saw in Maxine when he'd found her. After arcs, after decades, and his joy turned...

"I used to think you were a man of your word."

Kasoria bowed his head. Shame did not come easily to him, and he was unsure how to process it. Feeling bad, feeling sorry... he'd killed that impulse long before Maxine had met him. He wasn't sure if he felt bad for her, for what he did, for what he'd said, all he knew... all he felt, was this fierce and unyielding need not to let the future play out as he had so savagely predicted. He opened his mouth to speak the words he practice before and-

Lo, she said, let there be light.

Small and fail as one would expect from the merest candle in a place of vast darkness. But enough to give dimensions to the tunnel they were in. This didn't look like any stone Kasoria had sen under Etzos; didn't smell or feel like it, either. But he could smell... dried blood... sweat and rotting turds... bad food and a despair, a hopelessness that one only found in those prisons and oubliettes where was cast men for whom death was too quick, too easy. Kasoria swallowed, and remembered.

Oh, yes. Well he knew. All he had to do was blink for longer than usual, and he was back in the Black Cells.

"Unless you're here to do it after all? Strangle me with your bare hands? That it?"

Kasoria cocked his head at her words, her tone, her actions. She wanted this, or she was at least rushing it towards conflict and bloody conclusion. She was eager for death, eager for... oblivion. Peace. One and the same, in his experience. It must have been disappointing to her, seeing him like he was. Not the towering figure of implacable annihilation that she had known, far away and long ago. Who had taught her so much and yet always seemed to know more than he could ever impart. Now he was an old man. Shorter, slighter, grey around the ears and the mouth. Not even armed, it seemed. Toothless as an old tiger, roaming around and waiting for something younger and hungrier to finish it.

"Girl-"

"Do it then Put another 'Morty Lover' in the dirt."

Anger swelled. Redoubled as he saw that disgusting smear across her skin. Reminding him again what she'd done to herself, how she'd carved away a hunk of her soul and sold it to a monster, a mutant, a mad creature with delusions of godhood. His hands clenched into hard little fists and unbidden the angles and options came fluttering into his kind. Punch and kicks and knees and elbows and grips and throws and holds and a host of other efficient savagery, and those were just the ones not utilizing the stone walls and floor.

But he closed his eyes. He saw Llyr's face. That foolish, treacherous, wonderful boy. Not just marked but born of a Morty. The bastard son of one of the cunts. Yet he had saved him. Thrown his life away, all the meticulous plans the Bijaq had for himself, all because he wished Kasoria to escape, and to live.

He almost hated the half-blood for that. Living in comfortable, ignorant, blinkered bigotry was so much easier than having to change your mind.

"Prove The Old Man's still got it! I'm ready!"

Water dripped. Men groaned and wept and screamed. These things happened far away yet the rippling echoes carried to the quiet tunnel they were in. Until the percussion of her words had rattled off the words and vanished. Until even the shifting of his boots on stone was loud enough to make dust rustle on the ceiling above them. He walked forward. Still possessing the same gait she recognized. That calm, composed padding, like one of his many felines. He got close enough for his arms to snap out with that same, brutal precision. She knew that, too. Knew it yet no longer feared it. What had she left to fear? What had she left to lose?

"Y'remember that night I got drunk?"

Maine blinked a few times. This was definitely not how she imagined this would go. The confusion on her face was enough to make him smirk again. He nodded and walked past her, utterly ignoring the stiff, taut, primed-to-die-or-triumph woman in front of him. There was something that could suffice as a chair near the candle, and he saw on it.

"Never got that fuckin' trashed round yeh before, did I? Fuck me... wazzun experctin' yeh that trial. Fuckin' surprised me. Didn' expect yeh to come round, all wide-eyed an' fuckin' eager. Found me sloshed out in bed, dint ya? Mumblin'. Mutterin'."

The amusement died in those black eyes. The smile went with it. Memories came back, alive and writhing in front of her as the Old Man looked at the candle.

"Talkin' t'the dead. Cept they dun' talk back. Never forgot that... never remembered it when I was drunk, though. 'specially on dat trial."

He swallowed and braced himself. Here was where the path shifted. Nothing said thus far that could not have been found in any figment her own mind couldn't have worked up. What came next was nothing she'd not heard, or seen... but the context... he'd always denied her that.

You want to make amends, but you know you can't. Nothing can. This is the best you can do.

"S'when my family died, girl," he said, talking without looking. Speaking without seeing. Peering into a single, struggling flame and seeing a night that ruined and broke him and never, never went away. Wormed its way into his soul and his guts like pox or tumors and turned him... rotten. Long before they'd met. "Do yeh remember? Ashan. Twenny-eighth trial. Every arc. Every arc I got rat-arsed an' talked to the dead. Y'heard me talkin'. Y'asked who they were. I never told yeh. Next time yeh asked me sober, I clipped yeh round the head an' told yeh t'fuck off fer the day. Never asked me again."

Finally, the Old Man looked up from the flame. Into the eyes of one he'd sworn to kill... and he smirked broader.

"Etzos. Said if yeh came to Etzos, I'd kill yeh." His eyebrows waggled as his eyes roved around, taking in the whole, dank setting. "This ain't Etzos." There was mirth in his voice, but it was a subdued thing. Never quite the cheer he saw in others. Even around her. "So put yer coat back on an' sit. Ain't here t'scratch yeh."
word count: 1490
Common Speech | Thoughts | Ith'ession Speech | Speech of Others
User avatar
Max
Approved Character
Posts: 1121
Joined: Mon Nov 06, 2017 4:53 am
Race: Mixed Race
Renown: 965
Character Sheet
Character Wiki
Partner
Templates
Wealth Tier: Tier 5

Featured

Contribution

Milestones

RP Medals

Miscellaneous

Events

Re: 2. no to all of that

Image


She didn't understand this. After all he had said and done in their last meeting, the way he'd looked at her long before he laid a hand on her, none of this made any sense. He'd promised he'd do his damnedest to put her down. He'd sought her out, but he didn't bare a weapon in his aged, wrinkled hands. In light of her words he did no posturing. The Old Man was silent. He was poised and calm in a way she'd never seen before. Had she ever raised her voice like this at him arcs ago, her ears would still be ringing with the smack that would rattle her brain.

Then he spoke.

Tense and prepared, Maxine's channel was instantly changed into perplexed silence at the softly spoken question. She searched his face for the deception. This had to be some sort of lead-up that would end in blood. Some final lesson before he finished her, just as he'd boasted he would. She found no trace of any of that. An uncertain sigh passed between them. Brow knit, she slowly nodded. Yes. Of course she remembered.

She'd gone back to his home with a young mind swimming with questions, still so focused on the training he'd been drilling into her head. She couldn't remember what she'd hoped to ask him. What she did vividly remember was the stench of alcohol that lingered heavily in the air the moment she opened the door. That, and how startling it had been to see Kasoria, death incarnate in her eyes, be reduced to a stuttering, distant, nearly delusional mockery of himself. Only in the broken conversations with the ghosts could she loosely piece together some of the mysteries that surrounded his past.

His past was wrenched with grief.

"I remember," she agreed with him, fists still clenched at her sides. "After the first time, I tried to keep track of the trials when the season came around." Her eyes, distrusting and steady bore into his tired face. "So when I couldn't fuck off any longer I could scrape you off the floor, clean you up, and put you to bed." He never thanked her for any of that. Never even once. Like the trial in question, it was something that came and passed and was never spoken of. Until now.

Maxine unclenched her fists and sighed after a few moments of stubborn silence. She scooped her cloak up from the floor with a shake of her head. Etzos, not Emea. She ignored his stupid, mirthful pointing out of the technicality. He wanted to talk? Fine. Now that awareness had returned, she preferred not to sullied with the memories of Level Seven any longer. Before his arrival, Max had few doubts her subconscious was torturing her with others horrors from the past. It's what sleep usually was for her now.

"Not here," the ex-convict growled. She beckoned Kasoria to follow her before she reluctantly turned her back to her old mentor. Down one of the tunnels they went, turning down one of the winding paths into what looked to be darkness. One foot through, however, and Kasoria would find himself not lost in the underbelly of Egilrun any longer. Through this new threshold, a new scape entirely greeted him.

The Red Hand was empty. No regulars filled seats at the untended bar. No sounds of pleasure seeped through the closed doors of the floor above, and the smell of ambrosia and other smoked drugs did not linger with the addicts who chainsmoked it. The lounge was perfectly vacant. Max tossed her cloak over the arm of one of the chairs in the room. She gestured from Kasoria to a seat across from her before falling back into her spot.

"It's funny," she admitted with a half-smile as she settled back into the cushion. "If we didn't misunderstand each other all those arcs ago, things would be different. Immortals wouldn't have given me a glance. You could've relied on a stubborn protege instead of magic in your old age." What-ifs and could've-beens. Was that the only common ground between them now? She ran a hand down her face, briefly covering the dark circles that shadowed beneath her eyes. "All that training...turned me into somethin' rather than it all being for nothin'. Could've molded me like clay into something other than what you see. Smarter. Patient. Calmer. More efficient." She couldn't help but let out a bark of a laugh at the thought. "Kura would've been thrilled. Instead you both get to be disappointed."

She paused to watch his expression, read past those guarded eyes. The fingers of her left hand played with the texture of the arm of her chair. The red, worn fabric provided little comfort. She glanced up from the mindless task toward Kasoria.

"Is that what you came here for? To be disappointed again, is that it?"

word count: 846
User avatar
Kasoria
Peer Reviewer
Peer Reviewer
Posts: 2029
Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2016 3:34 am
Race: Human
Renown: 1260
Character Sheet
Character Wiki
Plot Notes
Templates
Wealth Tier: Tier 5

Featured

Contribution

Milestones

RP Medals

Miscellaneous

Events

Re: 2. no to all of that

It was not a soft nor subtle transition, but then again, what else was he expecting from the girl?

She was ever brassy and prone to tumult. Oh, she had a brain; not just pure brawn and stubborn refusal to submit. Not just those things. But she'd ever been one that had an energy crackling about her. He wondered if he would see it, had he magic back then. Now his Spark was... well, not present, actually. It was not his body traveling the Emea that night, just his mind and what passed for a soul.

He didn't need his Spark, anyway. He knew this girl. Knew that she was one that fought against the world, for every corner of it bore an enemy to her. The way she walked, talked, shit, and spat was a challenge. Nothing about her could be the swift and smooth artistry of, say, when Llyr had crafted his dreams.

When he walked through the tunnel, the Dreamscape shimmered and buzzed in his ears. Like bees assaulting him, like a hundred blades scraping on whetstones, and with them came flashes of color. The dank and oppressive tunnel seemed to tear, ripped up like waste paper and tossed away-

-then returning in the space of a blink, reforming and reconstituting as fast as Maxine could remember it. Given the speed, she seemed rather familiar.

And of course, it would a tavern.

But it was clearly a place crafted of mind, not memory. There was no stink of smoke nor liquor; not just the wafting stench, but the soaked wood and rotted beams and ground-up foulness that permeated the bones of a drinking hole over the arcs. Nor were there any staff, despite all the lamps being lit. Not even the scurry of rats or the chomp of termites. Maxine tossed her cloak and Kasoria lowered himself into a seat opposite her.

He let her see him leave a leg pointed out towards the floor beyond the table. "Never put 'em both under," he'd told her, in the good old bad old trials. "Y'dun wanna get trapped an' die sittin' down. Always be ready t'shoot up n' bolt.

A small thing. The vaguest of memories. But such was what he had to rely on, give the... nature, of the larger, clearer ones.

"Oi?" It wasn't even a full word, just a grunted syllable. But she knew how much menace he could inject into it. She flashed a dark look over the table, ready and willing to slide back into killing mode again... only to find him smirking at her. "I ain't relyin' on shite, girl. I use it. Like I used you... 'til youse were old enough t'go out on yer own." He snorted, ignoring the little voice that told him he might have left that pause a little too long. But no matter: his next words clarified for her. "Think I'd still be usin' yeh fer scoutin' an' shite now? When you're yer own woman? C'mon..."

Skin flashed and snickered at his eyes. Coming from her. Reminding him again what she had done to herself. The deal that she'd made. He winced involuntarily. It still wasn't easy for him. Even after Llyr, and Rharne, he still saw something... corrupted. Diseased. Given over to something that would leech all the life and thought and vitality for her until she was a husk. Then just toss her aside.

And what would your Spark do? If it could?

Kasoria grunted softly and smacked his lips. Fates, he wished he had a drink in his hand for this. And in a fucking tavern, of all places.

"Is that what you came here for? To be disappointed again, is that it?"

He looked up and saw confusion again. Honest and with the faintest tinge of worry to it. Because an enemy coming to slay her, an assassin in the night or walking the Emea? That she could deal with. He saw the evidence of a hard life in her eyes, not just in rough patches across what bare skin she showed. She'd had to fight, and likely kill. He thought back to what Vega had told him, without ever knowing who he was or who he'd be to the girl she knew as "Maxine". Was it her? One and the same? He wanted to ask, but... old habits stopped him.

They don't know who you are. They never will. You let slip here, word gets back... and it might. You don't know if they still talk.

Better to be safe. Better to be quiet. Except-


"That's how I looked, wunnit?" He said finally. Voice soft again. Enough to redouble the confusion in her eyes. "When you would'nae scratch that cunt inna sewers. Fates... I dun' even remember 'is name now." His face twitched, but he couldn't quite raise a smile. Some new emotion that she'd never expected to see on his face warred with his black amusement. "Cost y'pay, fer havin' so many on yer hands. Can't remember 'em all. But that one wuz supposed t'be yer first, an' yeh couldn't do it. Didn' have it in yeh, not yet."

Words came back to him. A poet he'd read, some tome or scribbling. Something about a moving finger, and no tears nor coin nor prayers would ever make it move back. The past was set, and we could not change it. He held her gaze. He did not close his eyes nor bow his head. He just shook it, and he faced what he'd done.

"I shouldn't 'ave made yeh do it. Not none of it. An' when yeh couldn't... all I did was shout an' yeh ran an'... I'm guessin' yeh thought I'd kill yeh. So yeh vanished. An' I looked, an' Vorund tol' me why he'd sent those cunts after yeh an' I... I believed him. Cuz he thought youse were dead. So I acted like yeh wuz. Like the job was dun an' I was good n' loyal again. I acted like yeh weren't, he'd not've stopped. But because he did..."

He stopped, regret coloring his voice like bile in his throat. He swallowed heavily, and he held out his hand. Focused on something frothy and well-aged, from the casks down on the South Side. Gareon's Peculiar, perhaps? Fulman's Double-Corked? He thought and he focused and as he did so, the thing shimmered into slow, hazy life in his grip. He took a long, slavering sip. Beard peppered with froth and dripping onto his shirt. He wiped his mouth with his sleeve, and did all but belch.

Still she did not speak. So Kasoria sighed and pushed the tankard away.

"Wanted yeh t'know I ain't gonna top yeh, f'we cross inna' Waking. Wouldn' believe the amount a' shite I've been through last season, 'specially Zi'da. Balls in the fire like never fuckin' before, even more'n when I was at Rhakros. Know who pulled 'em out? Fuckin' Mortalborn. Aye. Some half-Morty wee cunt, got me outta the Citadel an' what did I do? Nearly killed 'im. Fates... low bastard that I am, that was pretty fuckin' bad. An' I was ready t'slice his throat for... bein' what he was."

Now he was the one who looked confused to her eyes. So much was changed, had changed, had to change, and closing on fifty arcs was not an age for such seismic shifts in thinking. It was hard for him. Having to adjust his ancient prejudices and ironclad opinions was like redirecting some great siege weapon with a threadbare crew. But he was trying.

That's not enough, he reminded himself. Not enough for her to trust you again.

"I wuz wrong 'bout 'im.So mebbe I wuz wrong about youse, too. Whatever deal y'made wiv' the Morties... I dunno... had yer reasons. I can't act like it's all the same. Fuckin' wish it wuz like that, but it ain't. World ain't so fuckin' neat an'd tidy." Ah, there was that black, throaty laugh she remembered. The sheer, grotesque nature of creation was something he always found humor in. That much she remembered. He couldn't hold it back for long. "Wouldn't think it'd take me that long t'work that out, aye?"

The laugh faded away. Swallowed up by dead air and the darkness in the high ceiling. He finished his drink and sat back in his seat. He looked at her steadily... then said the things that mattered. Because he was still the same to her. Still the Raggedy Man, still the Old Man, still the killer and reaver and monster. Change. That was what she needed to see. So what better than-

Just fucking say it already.

"I'm retirin'," he said, and just as she broke into laughter, tacked on the thing that ended it like he'd just cut her head of: "Figure I need t'spend more time wiv' my son."
Last edited by Kasoria on Thu Dec 24, 2020 10:20 pm, edited 1 time in total. word count: 1543
Common Speech | Thoughts | Ith'ession Speech | Speech of Others
User avatar
Max
Approved Character
Posts: 1121
Joined: Mon Nov 06, 2017 4:53 am
Race: Mixed Race
Renown: 965
Character Sheet
Character Wiki
Partner
Templates
Wealth Tier: Tier 5

Featured

Contribution

Milestones

RP Medals

Miscellaneous

Events

Re: 2. no to all of that

Image


He settled into his spot across from her with that leg out, ready to escape a position of vulnerability within a snap of fingers. One foot always free and pointing toward the exit. Maxine's eyes caught glance of the familiar gesture. Most of that body language was built into Kasoria's behavior. He usually did practice what he preached at her. Part of her suspected, here and now, it also attested to the fact he still acknowledged how unpredictable his once-protege could be.

Though he smirked and his tone was still relatively light, Max wasn't sure how much she liked that word: used. He used her. She always knew that. There was little to learn if she wasn't playing a pawn in his schemes. Max had been used by a lot of people. Kasoria in Etzos with his plots. Chrien reveled in the grudging destruction she impulsively caused wherever she went. Audrae in her underhanded games. Kura for the good and betterment of Scalvoris. The Warden and his daughter in quest for libertion from Slags Deep. The list of enemies that succeeded in winding her up and letting her loose in her pursuit of vengeance went on and on. She shook her head. She had to remind herself.

You were just some dumb kid in the street, and that's it. Don't make this something that it's not.

"Quaros," Max gave voice to the name that quickly came to mind when Kasoria brought up the fateful mark. Then she fell silent again, watching him and listening to the words he shared with her. The Old Man wasn't much for talking all those arcs ago. If he wasn't barking commands, explaining a tactic, or snapping at her, conversation had been rare between them.

Max let her gaze dip. One of her thumbs rubbed at the palm of the opposite hand in her lap. She knew what Kasoria had been trying to do down in that sewer. A collection of lessons and training had come to a head. It was time she took that leap of faith and marred her innocence, sold it away like cattle with the quick swipe of a blade. He set it up so he would be there with her. She wouldn't have done her first in alone without guidance, and he'd have been there again to teach her to come out the other side. Swallow it down, train harder, forget the sorry sod in the dirt and move onto the next.

But she couldn't do it. One look at that pleading, begging man's eyes and she felt the overwhelming, anxious rush of her humanity bearing down on her. Maxine wasn't a killer. She learned that fact that trial. A short exhale of bitter, humored breath shot out of nostrils. How violently that had all changed. A trembling coward running from the murder of that mark to an escaped convict whose rap sheet at her remanding ended with "and so on." If only the Old Man had seen...

Still he won nothing but silence. All the talk about that trial, about what Vorund did, it meant nothing now. The past was long gone, nearly forgotten until she laid eyes on his haggard face again. Her forehead creased. Her mind was filled with thoughts she almost desperately wanted to bring to light. She should've mentally brought a drink into her own hand. No, scratch that. A good joint of Ambrosia between her lips. That would do. Fuck it, maybe a needle in her arms with Katomise dribbling into her veins was the real fix she needed to handle this reunion. She manifested no reprieve for herself. Not even when The Old Man spoke of his adventures with a Mortalborn.

Fucking hypocrite. Aren't we both, though?

"Retiring?" Now he had her attention. "You? Retired?" She leaned forward to rest her elbows on her knees, smirk fresh on her lips. She looked at him expectantly, brow raised and waiting for the punchline. It never came. Laughter burst from her, and she didn't know if it was bitter or in sheer disbelief. Maybe both. "Big Bad Kasoria retired to spend time with his kid. What will Etzos do without its boogieman?" It was hard for a stranger to look at him and think he was the cold-hearted, gifted, relentless assassin that he was for so long. For her, imagining him without the violence and filth of the underworld was impossible. He seemed so married to it it was hard to divorce them. Yet here he was...so absolutely serious.

"You never talked about him." Maxine's utter amusement dwindled. "Not even once. Like saying his name out loud would somehow attach him to the life you were living, involving him in all the ugliness somehow." He'd been protecting him, whoever he was. Protected and loved well enough that The Old Man was willing to apparently give up everything he was. Max wanted to hate the stranger for it. "What are you going to do? Make an honest living? Throw on an apron and play house?"

Fuck, you sound so bitter.

"You're getting too old to stay in the game," Maxine agreed with him, adjusting her tone into something softer and more understanding than before. "Might as well spend the rest of it with your hands clean. Die quietly surrounded by family or some shit instead, right?" She wished she had his sense. She wasn't a teenager anymore, but the anger, hatred, and energy toward bloodshed leaked from her like a faulty roof in a storm. She'd never get out. Never thought it was possible to even get out. Until he said he was doing it.

"For what it's worth, you weren't all wrong." She sighed and went silent for a couple moments. Her left foot bounced and she rubbed at her palm. "About the Immortals..." Max bit her lip, buying more time. Then she relented and blood drained from her face. With a hard expression she gestured toward the tattoo of a collar around her throat. "I didn't buy ink. Famula cursed me while Audrae, who also marked me, sat next to me and watched. It's partnered with a leash I had to give to another." Maybe she wanted that katomise after all. "I'm a slave to the one who holds it. They command, I do. It's never coming off. But the trial it does and I'm free to hunt that cunt down..." She grinned darkly at Kasoria. Agonized hopelessness rested in her eyes, but it was combated by the belligerence in the tightness of her jaw.

"At least one of us can be done and out to pasture."

word count: 1135
User avatar
Kasoria
Peer Reviewer
Peer Reviewer
Posts: 2029
Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2016 3:34 am
Race: Human
Renown: 1260
Character Sheet
Character Wiki
Plot Notes
Templates
Wealth Tier: Tier 5

Featured

Contribution

Milestones

RP Medals

Miscellaneous

Events

Re: 2. no to all of that

"Quaros," Kasoria said sharply, as if the name was heavy and solid enough to dislodge the funk and shite clogging up his memory.

"Quaros," he said again, the word softer now, memories thick and red and vivid swimming up from the dregs of his mind.

The third time, she didn't hear him. His voice seemed to sunk below a whisper, breathy and devoid of strength. Like a memory. A forgotten one. Another life that he'd taken and then walked away from the site of the taking, the way locusts would move on from a bare field and never look back. He smiled ruefully, the closest she could see him come to regret. She knew he had those, though. She'd gleaned as much from his fevered, drunken mutterings. People he'd lost. People he couldn't protect. But a son? He'd never spoken of him. Not drunk, or sober, waking, or sleeping. As if the very knowledge of the boy had been bound up and exorcised from his soul.

"Aye," he said eventually, studying the black, writhing chains sliding and squirming across his tanned forearms. "Any cunt knew 'bout him, I scratched. No fuckin' about, no second chances, no exceptions. Anyone knew, anyone connected it up... they'd use 'im, t'get t'me." He looked at her sharply, eyes swift and hard enough to slice flesh. That hadn't changed, she saw. "S'what I would do."

No. He hadn't changed, in many ways.

"Fuck knows what I'll do," he said, words coming out with a sigh. He sounded weary, and he knew it, even in a dream. He was too bloody old to be reinventing himself as... what, eactly? Fates, he hadn't even thought it through. Something to do with weapons, most likely. Violence had always been his trade. Violence and hunting and death. He grunted at the thought. "Gamekeeper, maybe? Tutor? Fuck off wi' that smirk, I never said I 'ad all the fuckin' details worked out..."

Yet still he smiled, for her chortling was infectious. Two killers, sitting opposite but not in opposition, not anymore. Reason enough for some mirth, was it not? But she started speaking again... of the Immortals... and all humor drained from Kasoria's face, along with a good deal of pallor. Fucking Fates. Bad as he'd been, monstrous as he could act, he'd never... enslaved people, with such casual viciousness. Killing a man was far more honest than twisting their very soul into orders that would scar their minds forever. Yet one of those mutants did so, with one that claimed to love Maxine watching on.

Old and virulent hatreds stirred in the Raggedy Man. They would never go away. Never die. Never be assuaged. The children of the Immortals, he had learned, were not all as evil as their sires. Like all children, they could rebel. They were cast from the same clay, bore the same traits and scars and marks... but their will was their own. Llyr had shown him that. So had fucking Oberan, that foolish bastard.

Kasoria sighed and shook his head. Words wouldn't come, and wouldn't help, except-

"Cunts. The fuckin' lot of 'em."

His smile flickered again when she spoke of revenge. Never coming over, never to be free, never having hope... pah, as if she would think that way? She'd survived by sheer grit and gumption, just like he'd always said she would. Like he'd told her before, she was special. She would avenge herself beyond magic and mutants and spit on the face of this "Famula" one trial. He chuckled wryly and nodded.

"No fuckin' doubt a' that..."

"At least one of us can be done and out to pasture."

That sounded like an ending. Not just of their meeting in the tavern, but as if Maxine was scrying the future and seeing nothing but her own death. One of them would live to age and become decrepit, doddery, dying covered in sheets and surrounded by weeping family members. Kasoria knew many would scorn such an ending. When he was Maxine's age, he'd have agreed with them. But after seeing all the forms that death could take, all the indignities and horrors and weeping, shitting, pleading humiliations it could end a life with... it was better than most.

Don't end it this way. Give her some hope.

False hope is not hope. It's mockery.

Fuck else is there?


Kasoria held out his arm, and laid it on the table. Palm up. Letting her see the witchmark pulsing ever-so-softly on his palm. Letting her see the coins snakes on his arms that were, upon inspection, chains black and dense as starless nights. She looked up from it and into eyes just as black, just as dark. That swallowed up light now, from his tear ducts to the pupils that had seemed to spread across them and engulf whites and color. The eyes of the man she'd known were gone; the Raggedy Man seemed to be all that was left.

"Take my hand," he said eventually, not mincing words, "An' I'll mark yeh. I need t'find yeh inna future, I can. So if'n yeh need... somethin', mebbe I can offer it."

Before she could sneer or snort or spurn, that hand snapped up fast as a snake's tongue, and formed into a fist with a single finger pointing at her nose.

"Don't act the fuckin' cunt an' be all 'no help from fuckin' no-one' wi' me, girl. Don't forget who yer fuckin' talkin' to. Wanna think yer usin' me? Fine, feel fuckin' free. Wanna think I'm some broken ol' cunt who's tryin' t'make good? Fine, think that too. But remember what I told yeh, girl. No point in bein' noble when it leaves yeh fucked up an' worse off. Someone offers youse a way out, an advantage, a boon.. yeh take it."

The fist loosened. The hand lowered. An offered palm was there again, and a crooked grin above it.

"Even if it is from a ragged ol' bastard like me."
word count: 1036
Common Speech | Thoughts | Ith'ession Speech | Speech of Others
User avatar
Max
Approved Character
Posts: 1121
Joined: Mon Nov 06, 2017 4:53 am
Race: Mixed Race
Renown: 965
Character Sheet
Character Wiki
Partner
Templates
Wealth Tier: Tier 5

Featured

Contribution

Milestones

RP Medals

Miscellaneous

Events

Re: 2. no to all of that

Image


Her master had always been such a dark and grimly practical old git. The aloofness that came with discussing the reality of the world had rubbed off on her. After all, here they were discussing how his own child would be used against him should someone discover his existence. Neither of them tensed or emoted much over it. It was merely fact. Any catspaw or assassin would do as much. Maxine and Kasoria had done worse to meet their own personal ends.

She had to visibly fight the laugh that wanted out when the Old Man explored his retirement options. She'd already experienced the teaching style of the killer. It involved a whole lot of swattings and absolute negligence, but dammit she learned. Something told her the sort that would have the means to pay for his services wouldn't be so keen on his methods. As much as she wanted to chirp him for his quiet dreams she failed to catch the moment. Was she not doing the same by playing at social contributor with her new entrepreneurship?

Her mind had steered from the positivity of pro-social behavior and wealth. She was all-consumed with hatred and loathing with no hope of reprieve. Distractions from it were fleeting. For the most part freedom and revenge dominated her thoughts. The world could offer her little else so long as the collar was inked about her throat. Kasoria seemed to wish to express generosity anyways.

At the outstretched, witch-marked hand Maxine stiffened. The evidence of magic's hold on the Old Man was so very vivid, marring every image of him she'd treasured in the deep recesses of her memories. It changed him. He was something else now. So was she. Their present aesthetics served as mutual disparages to the other's recollection of the other. The world beyond this Emean moment felt like it was collapsing in on her though. Who was to say they would have another moment in the waking world like this?

Maxine's hand suddenly jerked out to take his. She wasn't sure what this was that she was doing. A leap of faith? Desperation? One of three marks upon her hadn't left her burned. It made little sense to put her faith in a fourth. Yet this time was different. He was different. He hadn't let her down. Not yet. What power this was, giving him a chance to do that now. Even with his scolding, seeing straight through to her impulse.

"Fine," she offered in begrudging defeat. Her fingers curled around his palm. "But don't start like you're some absent father finally back and trying to make up for the arcs and bullshit. I'm not looking for anything from you." Her hand lingered awkwardly in his for a moment. It's not like she knew how long whatever "marking" he was doing took. She pulled it back and let it drop in her lap again. "At least we know we can talk openly. At least here." Honesty wasn't her strong suit, but their meetings in Emea had been more powerful than she could deny. As far as she knew, they were safe to speak freely in these circumstances.

"Y'know," she cleared her throat and dipped her eyes to the table. "If you ever get to it. Retired, I mean, and you leave Etzos? I don't know. Maybe you find yourself in Scalvoris?" A hint. Had he known where she'd been all this time? At least for the most part? "This shithole exists." She gestured toward their surrounds briefly, a quick passing wave of her hand. "It's mine, actually. The Red Hand. You should come by. You know." Maxine shrugged and scratched at a line in the table. "If you happen to be around." Her eyes lifted to meet his opaque ones. The corners of her lips twitched amicably. "We'll make an exception. One ragged ol' bastard allowed."

Who knew? Maybe if she could keep this charade up after she weaseled her way back out of trouble, this could be her not-quite-happy-but-not-unhappy retirement plan. Like highway thieves, they could dream. One last job. One last mistake, and then they'd be done. One last score. That was always the problem though. There was always some sort of "one more" to contend with. Maxine wasn't sure she believed what Kasoria was selling. Damn, did a tiny piece of her want to drink the wine he was pouring though.

word count: 764
User avatar
Kasoria
Peer Reviewer
Peer Reviewer
Posts: 2029
Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2016 3:34 am
Race: Human
Renown: 1260
Character Sheet
Character Wiki
Plot Notes
Templates
Wealth Tier: Tier 5

Featured

Contribution

Milestones

RP Medals

Miscellaneous

Events

Re: 2. no to all of that

Well, it's as good as you're going to get, old man.

He'd never sought forgiveness, because he didn't truly believe in it. How could muttered words make up for a life taken or ruined? How could anything but the same truly redress the balance? Why would you expect it from someone scarred by you, anyway? That wasn't the world he lived in. You learned and accepted early that your actions had consequences, and most of them harmed others. That was the price you paid for taking a path far removed from the drudgery, tedium, and endless mediocrity of the legitimate life. So you didn't ask forgiveness. Because everyone involved knew the score.

She didn't. Not really. And you never set her straight. Not really.

"I'm a shite enough father t'me own kid," he growled after a while, curled lip suggesting he was only half-jesting. "Ain't gonna over-reach meself by raisin' anuvver one..."

She mentioned the tavern again and once the Brand was made, Kasoria took it in again. So very much like Etzos, a dozen dives and shitholes he'd been in before, but here... a definite edge of the seafaring life, he thought. The trophies on the walls, the shanties sang and stomped, even the beer had a salty tang to it. These men and women seemed to swagger with the same defiant brashness of Etzori... only it was bred of a hard life at sea, sailing or reaving, instead of the nigh-anarchic mercantilism of Etzos. He smiled again, solid black eyes seeming to emote more than his face could.

"Yer own place, aye?" He said, nodding as he looked around. "Aye... mebbe I could try me hand at dat. Better'n a gamekeeper or some shite. An' ain't like I'm shorta' experience around taverns."

A slash of white across a tanned face. A better ending that a beginning, he thought, and couldn't ask for more than that. Seasons became arcs since last they'd met in the flesh; meeting in the Emea had been so utterly, madly random that Kasoria almost thought the Fates took a more direct hand than usual. Last time, she'd tried to kill him, and he'd not blamed her. He'd struck her and cursed her and he'd... he'd been wrong. This time, they sat at a table, and drank, and talked, and sometimes, maybe, just a little, they smiled.

Should have been like this. Not like you made it. Made her.

"This ragged old bastard is pissin' off back home," he said, then chuckled in a way Maxine knew was genuinely amused. "Fuck me... sound like I'm gettin' up t'go walkin' the cobbles. Dis is all in me head though, innit? Bloody weird thing t'get me head around..." He rose, draining his tankard and, in a touch Maxine would also know intimately, turned it upside down before placing it on the table. Classic Etzori gesture: drinking is done, down to business, or leave. "Thanks fer the brew. An'... ev'ry'thin' else, I guess."

There was that distance again. In the silence. Growing between them as they stared at each other and all the words and regrets and missed chances of so many years filled it. Made the silence loud with its quiet and the bare handful of feet a league in regrets. Kasoria groped at words and discarded them just as quickly, before giving up and turning to go-

-but not before resting a hand on her shoulder. Not squeezing or grasping. Just letting her feel the weight of it there. Warm and real for just a moment.

"I'm glad you ain't dead, girl. Woulda' hated t'mourn youse all over again."

The hand fell away, and she watched him walk through the crowd that parted like fish before a shark. Out of habit, his shrugged up his cloak, covering his face and black eyes. He reached the door and was already starting to summon whatever wyrd or focus one used in this place. When he touched the door he didn't turn a handle, he just willed and wished and... the door shimmered... portal opening to his own Veil. There was noise, hissing and groaning, like the churning of a mighty sea. But she heard his last words well enough. Just before he was gone into the Emea again.

"The Red Hand. Scalvoris. Until that trial."
word count: 750
Common Speech | Thoughts | Ith'ession Speech | Speech of Others
Post Reply Request an XP Review Claim Wealth Thread

Return to “Dreamscapes & The Veil”