Pour Out Thy Heart

Most shops, parlors, workshops, and other businesses are found here, as well as the homes of those wealthy who are not of royal title. Guilds bleed the citizens dry of coin through taxes and fees. Trade is limited in Quacia, and supplies can be expensive.

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Juliano Ramires
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Pour Out Thy Heart

Sun Aug 02, 2020 1:25 am

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Night + 43 Ymiden + Arc 720
continued from here

“Why do you keep looking around?” whispered Luiza while she stood beside Juliano, along the pews of the main temple that served those who resided in Gleam. It wasn’t as fancy as the Citadel of Truth in Fortress, but far fancier than the various hubs that dappled through-out the Shanty neighborhoods. Much cleaner too, compared to the one across from the hostel where he currently lived. The Gleam church even had stained glass windows that flooded the bloodlit nave.

It’d been a long evening sermon, and a lot of hymns and chants. Juliano’s throat hurt from the liturgy. The Herald had been ambitious, in his meager opinion, but then he supposed they had a lot to cover with trying to speak toward the soldiers and the merchants and families among the congregation. He roughly knew all the lines to repeat from childhood, though he mouthed some of them in pretend. His attention was distracted by looking through the crowd whenever he got the chance. Yet he still hadn’t seen the cold, stoic man with the spectacles who’d visited a couple nights before.

The skirt for Miss Sereno had been delivered, not by him as he’d been at practice. Juliano had wanted to deliver it, to ask more about this Vito, but his sister had beaten him to the task instead. So, he made do with trying to look around at those on the benches during the various sitting and standing of the ritual ceremony.

Of course, the sacrifice wasn’t quite done yet. The actual bleeding had only just begun, row by row, and his family awaited their turn in the procession. Juliano rocked back on his heels, then to the balls of his feet, while he tried to subtly turn around to look behind him. He muttered to his sister, “I’m not.”

“You are, too,” she hissed back.

“Be quiet,” interrupted their mother in a quick whisper, without looking at either of them.

“Ow!” A sharp pain jolted through Juliano’s ankle. His voice echoed between the shuffle of feet while the rows moved to ritually bleed at the altar. A few nearby devotees turned to see what the noise had been. He looked over to see that his younger brother Lino had kicked him with the point of new shiny church shoes.

“Juliano Amor Ramires,” snapped his mother.

“It wasn’t-” Juliano stopped immediately when he looked over to see his father’s frown directed at him. His lips screwed up in a pout, but he went quiet. He muttered, “Sorry, ma.”

Juliano fixed his jacket, smoothing the finely pressed black. His family took great pride in what they all wore to every prayer. Unlike him, his parents went to every sacrifice that they could and brought the children along. Up until he’d moved away around his fifteenth birthtrial, he had practically grown up during the blood prayers in this church and the one across the way at the other end of Gleam (but not really, it only felt that way to him). His mother spent all trial preparing their outfits too, and his father helped adjust any changes required.

It was, as his father always put it, not only a way to save their souls but also an opportunity to show integrity in their trade as tailors. What reputation would they gain as tailors if they did not attend church with their children looking their best?

His hair had gotten tied back with a thin silver ribbon, to show his face to the Wounded God (as his mother put it while she tried to convince him to cut the mess of curls. Such a handsome face, she’d said while raking the comb through the thick strands. You should show it, not hide it. Then you could court a good, pretty wife.)

The silver ran through the theme of his entire family, as symbolism for their biqaj blood rather than the usual scarlet of most other devotees. His father had included some splashes of red, though, in honor of it anyway: for instance, his sisters had ruby earrings and pendants. Lino had red tassels on his shiny black shoes and red lace on the cuffs of his sleeves. His mother had a red shawl lined with thin sparkling silver. His father had lapels double-lined with silver and scarlet side by side on his formal black coat. Juliano, however, wasn’t allowed to wear piercings at prayer, nor the same sort of jewelry as his sisters. He was too old for the accessories that Lino had.

He had managed to convince his parents to allow him to wear a more masculine necklace of a light steel chain with a large Almandine Garnet polished into a teardrop shape. In the bloodlight illumination, it took on a wine-dark hue that brightened when it caught the light. It hung just over his diaphragm, above the v-cut of his silver satin-lined black jacket. The rest of his attire was black except for the tip of his shoes that had light steel caps over the pointed toes.

His father held onto their family dagger, in preparation to present to the Tribunals at the altar. Once blessed by the Herald, the blade would be shared amongst them. The ritual weapon had been in his father’s side of the family for five generations of Quacians. As such it was old-styled, with a fluid curve through the dark gravegold-and-embersteel mixed alloy. It had an elaborate R engraved in the handle.

Juliano started to wonder why he’d even come… he didn’t see Vito anywhere, even when he looked behind him to check out the benches in the far back. This wasted a whole evening and night that he could have been doing way more important things before he had to show up for drills again in the early morning. He could have gone to Lair and tried to convince that necromancer he’d met a few ten-trials ago to initiate him. The fellow had a habit of indulging with intoxicants and Juliano bet he could convince him while he was high, if he just managed to ask at the right time.

Regretting his choice to come to prayer, he bowed his head and gave up on surveying the crowd while his family’s row moved forward to approach the dais. He stayed at the end of the line, once he allowed his sisters in front of him. How much longer would he have to waste his time here… he wondered if he could slip out once he had bled. His parents would lecture him about it later, but it wouldn’t be the first time. He’d rather a lecture than more of his night wasted.

Almost entirely zoned out, he waited while his parents, brother, and sisters all cut and bled in procession with each gradual approach onto the dais platform and to the altar. From his downward gaze, he saw Luiza hand the dagger toward him. Automatically, he took hold of the familiar handle and then untucked his shirt and rolled it up to reveal his waist.

As he leaned to allow his silver blood to flow into the collection dish, the cut of his dagger clean and practiced just underneath his ribs, he glanced to the side and-

He recognized the Tribunal overseeing the sacrifice.

-and the dagger slid a bit deeper than usual. Juliano hissed a sharp inhale. Blood rushed out of the accidental depth. The irises of his widened eyes changed from gray to a pale blue. He stared at Vito. How had he not seen him before? He hadn't thought to look at the Tribunals! How had… dammit, that cut really hurt.

“Son?” asked his father, as he took the dagger back.

Juliano opened his mouth to respond, but nothing more than a squeak caught in his throat. He glanced at the cloth that the Tribunals usually handed to stay the blood (later collected at the end of the night, on the congregation’s way out).

It took his father’s hand on his shoulder to jostle him away from the dais so the next devotee could bleed. Juliano glanced behind, gaze still stuck on the Tribunal. Now that he’d seen Vito, he couldn’t look away. He was a Tribunal? A TRIBUNAL?! It was an actual blessing that he had lost his voice rather than blurted out what he'd thought when he first laid eyes on the older biqaj.

Once they returned to their pew, Juliano sat down at the very end and he stared some more. Shit, what had he said on that night? Had he said something bad? Had he… oh shit, the cigarette. And… Juliano closed his eyes. He ignored the nudge against his wounded side while Luiza tried to ask him what the matter was and why he seemed troubled.

He just had to get through the rest of the night. Maybe he could duck out… or leave sooner than that if he were especially sneaky. Juliano started to eye the exits.

The young man waited until Luiza gave up, and everyone had bowed their heads for the final prayer of the ceremony. He slowly lowered himself to hide behind the person seated in front of him – like he used to do when younger, but also when shorter. It was a bit more difficult, but he got to his knees. Quickly, but quietly, Juliano crawled away from the pew and to the nearest column. He hid behind it and caught his breath. His one hand kept against the cloth on his side. It felt as if his cut had split open again, as he could feel fresh moisture seeping through.

Juliano glanced around, then to the nearest door. It led into a corridor but he knew the church well enough that he understood the hall turned to a row of offices, and the stairwell to the basement, but also an exterior door that housed some stairs along the side alley of the church. He took a sharp breath, waited until he heard the expected chanting of a verse, and then shuffled on his knees to go as quick as he could to the door.

Once he reached it, he slipped through and quietly closed it behind him. Sweat dripped over his brow. He jumped to his feet. The biqaj glanced at the cut, which had bled again, then set the cloth back. He started on his way, a fast pace to his walk, while he headed down the narrow hall toward the sharp right-angle turn at the end of it. His heart pounded fast against his sternum, though. The shadows looked eerie in the night’s darkness, distorted by the designs in the narrow gothic windows. The ceremony echoed, vaguely muffled past the closed door behind him.
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Vito Rossau
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Re: Pour Out Thy Heart

Sun Aug 02, 2020 5:49 am

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43 YMIDEN, 720. NIGHT
Juliano Ramires and his family stood amongst dozens of others just like them. Mothers and fathers and daughters and sons, all in attendance for Herald Vilar’s latest sermon, watching and listening as dutifully as the public truly could. Little faith was held in them by one Vito Rossau, who hardly ever seemed to notice the men and women in the pews at all, for how enraptured he appeared to be with the Herald’s passionate words. It did not matter that he had heard them all before, or that he had heard the same message repurposed time and time again throughout his life in the tumultuous city of Quacia. It was unusual, then, that he forced himself to look to the pews at all, but he was curious of those in attendance.

They were better dressed than half of the congregation, if not all of them as a whole. Such was to be expected of a tailor’s family. A suit of finely-pressed silver and black suited the soldier far better than his uniform had two trials before. Vito did not look at him long – only long enough to catch the fact that Juliano seemed to be looking for him – but felt some small satisfaction at having convinced the younger biqaj to attend. It had not taken much, in retrospect. The mere mention of magic had stolen his interest, and then the youth had seemed intent on appeasing him.

He must have been hopeful for something. Vito decided not to linger on it long. The Herald’s voice drew his attention away from the soldier anytime he dared to glance, and he could not afford to let his thoughts wander. Not in the middle of the service. Juliano’s presence in the pews went ignored after that, as the Tribunal devoted himself again to the service of his fellow Tribunals and Herald. A tailor’s insolent boy meant little, compared to the Wounded God and His loyal followers. It was Vito’s honor, as it often was, to guide the congregation in sacrifice.

The long sleeves of his ceremonial robes were pulled upwards and well above his elbows. His dagger was borrowed – it was Herald Vilar’s own instrument of choice, silver and sharpened to a sinister, curved point – but it served just as well. He had nothing that compared to knives passed down through generations; he had nothing at all that had not been borrowed or given to him by the Theocratum. He would not bleed in full tonight. He had too much to do. The deep and winding scars that spanned the vertical length of his inner forearms looked strange, as if the skin had been torn asunder and stitched back together time and time again.

Over his fingers and hands were the same. Lines upon lines of scars, old and new, silver and blue on his pale skin. The backs of his forearms were lined, horizontally, until hardly an inch remained that had not, at some point, been bled. If he had spent so long within the churches and chapels of Quacia and not acquired as much, he supposed he would have been doing something wrong.

The Herald’s dagger sliced through the thin skin across the back of his hands. Silver flooded over his spindly fingers and dripped into the collection bowl below, unleashed from the prominent veins just beneath the surface. Something bloody, but something he could work around without hindering his service. Prayers fell from his lips, soft and sure, and he guided forth the first family to the bowl with his hands still dripping silver. If they minded his bloody touch to the father’s shoulder, they did not say a word.

And then he ignored them. As he always did. Because he was not there for them, though he was aware of the complications that would arise if families simply stopped attending and sacrificing, but he did not enjoy this part. When all of the focus was on them, and their daggers and prayers and souls, and he cared not for any of it. The collection bowl, spattered with a silver that pooled in the center, ran red beneath the blood of human devotion.

At a time, Vito had wished for the same. He had yearned for the scarlet sign of belief to course through his veins and replace the harrowed silvers of his former family’s blood… but he had learned not to care. Silver, red, whatever color it happened to be – blood was blood, and it spattered and stained no matter what. He watched the collection bowl begin to fill with the sacrifices of their congregation, as families came and went and spilled their blood before returning to the pews.

Vito accepted the next dagger into his silver-coated hand. It was handed to the Herald to be blessed, and then given back to the family that had brought it. The Ramires family, he noticed without reaction, and he motioned for Juliano’s father to begin.

He was faithful. As was his wife. The children, too, if their parents’ fervent beliefs rubbed off on them enough. Vito recognized them all, somewhat, when he had not known Juliano. Which meant that the soldier was not in regular attendance… yet he had shown himself tonight.

Interesting.

The boy had not seen him yet. Vito found some small amusement in that fact, but one might not have known from his solemn expression as he watched over their sacrifices. He looked down to the bowl as more silver flooded through and gave the crimson blood a metallic, shimmery sheen. His eyes, unobscured by spectacles, flicked slightly upwards when something glinted in the red, shadowed lights above. A necklace?

Not just any necklace, though, as the Tribunal followed the lines of the fine-tailored shirt to the freckled face above. The dagger changed hands; Juliano had failed, still, to see him. Vito was beginning to wonder if the soldier would leave before he had noticed him at all. As curious as that would be, he was not of the mind to let the younger biqaj leave without speaking to him first.

Juliano’s shirt was lifted in a reveal of his slender waist. Green eyes watched the pointed tip of the blade as it sliced through skin… and quickly flashed a coral-colored pink as the dagger cut deeper into flesh. Accidental, he thought as he glanced back up to the boy’s face –

– and there it was.

The corner of his mouth quirked in a subtle, slanted smile. As with the sudden coloration in his gaze, it faded away quickly, leaving behind no evidence that it had ever been there at all. Vito stared back at Juliano as the youth was moved away from the dais, but he could not waste any more time with the boy’s reaction. He looked away, to the next poor believer who had approached the altar with a dagger in hand.

“I-I’ve never… my ma di-didn’t show me how…”

She stuttered and shook where she stood, as if bleeding was something to fear. Vito stepped forward and took the blade from her hands to offer to the Herald. Once it was given back to him, he took the woman’s hands into his own and assured, “there is a first time for everything. All that matters is that you give for Him now, and do not allow inexperience to keep you from salvation. Allow me to guide you, if this is your very first sacrifice.”

He took the blade to the back of her arm and then sent her on her way. There were not many more before he had returned to his place beside the other Tribunals, hands held behind his back. Herald Vilar led them in prayer, and Vito closed his eyes and bowed his head…

...only until he heard everyone else do the same. Then he lifted his head, and his green eyes narrowed as he scanned over the congregation. The bloodlights skewed with shadows and designs, laid over the church through the stained windows and grates. Miss Sereno sat alone, in her repaired red skirt. Her son was a peskier sort than even the tailor’s, so far, and he could only imagine what excuses awaited him when the service was over and Cosme approached him.

Mister Gandara sat beside his wife, though Vito knew the two had separated unofficially over two arcs ago. He knew because he had heard the fights through the floor, and the gruff merchant had been a terribly loud neighbor ever since. Whereas Cosme took to the bleeding like a moth to the flame, in the hopes of clearing her family’s name, Mister Gandara had hardly shared.

And then there were the owners of Ramires’ Tailoring and Sewing, and the children they had… no, one was missing. Where the fuck was the soldier?

Looking over the congregation again, he did not spot the young biqaj. Had he slipped out during the sacrifices, when he had known the Tribunal would be too busy to notice his absence? Vito glared at each and every family in the pews as if they had personally wronged him, and did not bother with subtlety, as he knew that the prayer had a while longer. There was no sign of Juliano in the pews, which meant that he had either made it out the door already, or he was…

From behind a pillar, a brief flash of movement caught his eye. Vito could not tell if it was him, but it was close enough to warrant interest. His tongue clicked in a barely-audible sound and he slipped away from the dais in silence. A few trills after Juliano, the door was pushed open again, and the Tribunal stepped through.

“Mister Ramires,” he called. He started down the hall to follow after him, with the hopes that it was, in fact, him. It was not until he made it a little closer – and was able to confirm – that he continued with, “I do not think His Grace would be pleased to know that you have left his service early.”

The Herald did not care. Of anyone, Vilar did not care who stayed and who went.

Vito lifted his chin slightly. His pale skin was only accentuated in the darkness of his black and red robes, and without the spectacles that had rested on his nose two trials before, the biqaj looked more alert. “You cut yourself quite deeply, Juliano. May I take a look?”
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Juliano Ramires
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Re: Pour Out Thy Heart

Sun Aug 02, 2020 3:35 pm

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Night + 43 Ymiden + Arc 720

Rain pattered over the tall windows along the corridor. A handful of drops, as if flicked from an allegorical hand in the sky that wished to shake the moisture off its darkened clouds. Barely audible over the clicks of Juliano’s heels while he hurried away in his escape. He didn’t get very far, though.

“Mister Ramires.”

He slowed, then stopped and half-turned with an obvious look of being caught on his youthful features. A nervous smile showed, though. An attempt at casual attitude, as if they were just bumping into each other at the midday markets.

“O-oh, boa noite, Vi-vito. Tudo bem? He greeted with a wave of his free hand, and kept the other one to hold the cloth against his waist. At the mention of the Herald’s displeasure at Juliano’s sneaking out… Juliano laughed. An anxiety-riddled laugh that pitched and rolled around like a child’s toy bouncing rubber marble. The blush rose onto his cheeks in reaction to the sound of his own voice.

He cleared his throat, glanced at the door where he could hear the prayer as the congregation repeated a verse. They hadn’t stopped the ceremony for either of them, so… he slid one foot backward to continue his way. While Vito lifted his chin, as if in mirrored reaction, Juliano lowered his. He bowed his head slightly, in some deferential posture that failed in its sincerity while his blue eyes darted around as if checking to see if there were any others about to jump out from the shadows that clung to the hall’s edges.

“That? That thing?” the awkward laugh sounded again. Quieter and thus, wispy because of it. He slid his other foot back, then again while he got some distance farther between them. He lifted the cloth to look on his own, then shook his head. “It’s good. All okay. N-no need to bother, just- I’ll- just… I’ve got uh- I got to- soldier duties- and… I’d stay if I could but- yeah- and s-sorry the other day about… uh, about...”

He continued to step backward, and away, not as if he thought he wouldn’t be noticed doing so but as if he just didn’t want to turn his back. As if he wanted to keep the other man in his clear sight. Or maybe it was some misguided attempt at partial respect. Partial because he still was attempting his escape.

“I didn’t know you were-” he cleared his throat again. His voice deepened accidentally when he tried to conclude. “A Tribunal.”

Juliano paused in his retreat, then. He turned to face the other man without any turn to his body or sliding steps backward. His dark brows furrowed. He said in a serious tone of voice despite the undulations of the pitch before. “You should have told me.”
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Vito Rossau
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Re: Pour Out Thy Heart

Sun Aug 02, 2020 4:27 pm

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43 YMIDEN, 720. NIGHT
The Tribunal took another step forward for every step the soldier took back. Not rushed, not insistent, not aggressive. Not outwardly so. His bloody hands were held safely behind his back, and by all accounts, he looked to be the perfect example of a holy devotee. Vito did not wish to scare the tailor’s son off, after all, though it seemed that the boy would not be swayed from his early departure. It was a shame. He had almost found the freckled, blushing, stuttering soldier interesting.

It was a common mistake, to think that another person held anything of note. It was not one that Vito made very often, himself, and when he did, it was always corrected soon enough. He stared after the tailor’s son and continued his calm approach, his expression unchanged from the solemn look he had worn during sacrifice. Was Juliano afraid, or simply nervous for being caught? The rain outside the windows cast the shadowed red lights askew, and Vito could not make out the boy’s expression at a distance.

He had not replied to the greeting he had been offered. It was useless and intended only as a means to pad the silence between them in the narrow hall. While Juliano lifted the bloody cloth away from his side, Vito did not look away from his face, and did not pause in his approach. He did not care about the wound. If it was deep, shallow, bleeding, scabbed. Unless Juliano intended on returning to the altar to bleed, the Tribunal had only asked to see it to stop his moving feet.

“Soldier duties,” echoed Vito. He sounded unimpressed with the excuse. “The Dragoons certainly have you busy. Are they aware of how their duties have cut into blood prayer?”

Juliano was sorry, sorry, sorry about something or other but Vito did not care about that. Of course he had not known he was a Tribunal. If the awkward soldier had cared to attend service at a reasonable rate, he might have recognized his face. It was only a sign of his failings as a child of the Theocratum that he had not – and that was exactly why the older biqaj had not dismissed whatever the younger might have assumed him to be. Would he have cared to attend and sacrifice if he had known that Vito was a Tribunal already, or would he have skipped out in the hopes that the man would simply forget about him?

The soldier finally stopped. Vito did too, after a few more trills and a few steps closer. Something shifted, if only slightly, in Juliano’s demeanor. The Tribunal’s head tilted to the side in silent question of his pause, and he came to a stop a few feet away from the younger. With his hands behind his back, only his face and hair were uncovered, and despite the obvious difference in his casual attire and his ceremonial robes, there was a clear connection in the modesty of both.

You should have told me.

“Is that a requirement of my faith that I am unaware of?”

From the tone, it was difficult to tell what bothered Juliano most. Was he bothered at all, or simply surprised? Vito’s gaze fell, for a moment, to the cloth the other man held to his waist.

“You did not ask,” reminded the older. In fact, Juliano had not asked him anything beyond his name and magical status. He had not deceived him – he had told him, quite plainly, that he would be at the service, and that was enough in Vito’s mind. What did it matter if he was a Tribunal, if one had nothing to hide?

But of course, most people did. And Juliano was no exception. Glancing back to the other man’s face, Vito asked, “are the Dragoons conducting training in this rain, Mister Ramires? You should stay a while and wait out the storm. There is nothing to be afraid of here.”
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Re: Pour Out Thy Heart

Sun Aug 02, 2020 6:42 pm

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Night + 43 Ymiden + Arc 720

There was a short distance between them, just out of reach from each other, but Juliano felt as if they were as close in proximity as they had been when Vito had set the skirt down. Just on the other side of the counter. It was the eyes. Piercing for how they stared right through him, and ruthless for how the steady gaze tore him open. Figurative instinct. That’s all it was. Juliano told his heart to calm down, for his blood to cool off, that none of this was a rational response. The Tribunal was just doing what all Tribunals did: tried to get people to come to prayer. Tried to better life for the people of Quacia. Tried to guide their faith so their souls could be worthy in the Wounded God’s view.

Vito wasn’t doing anything wrong…

…but Juliano was, and Juliano knew it.

Guilt worn on his sleeve, with all the naivety of youth, he followed the glance to look at the ritual cloth against his side. To take it away, to not hand it over like expected from the ceremony… Juliano proved himself selfish. No matter the excuse he’d tried to give. Selfish for hoarding his blood and not allowing the Tribunals to make use of it in the Wounded God’s name.

He didn’t answer the question returned to his statement. It wasn’t a real question anyway. Rhetorical, that’s what it was. Or sarcastic? Yeah, sarcastic, that was it. Said in deadpan, but Vito hadn’t said it with sincerity. Juliano took the reminder that such an expectation was misplaced, with a simple and sheepish shake of his head ‘no’.

The younger man’s fingers scrunched the cloth while he listened to the next reminder. He hadn’t asked. Juliano looked up, at this, and said, “But…” He closed his mouth just as quick when Vito’s gaze looked right at him again. Through the crimson lights and night shadows, he could see the silver-tint under the other biqaj’s skin.

“Storm?” asked Juliano and he looked away, eager to have an excuse to do so, and watched the rain trickle over the windows. It had gone from a light patter to constant taps of sharper droplets. As if to confirm the Tribunal’s statement, a crack of thunder rumbled through the night sky. His dark brows wrinkled, obvious without any hair to cover his face with, and he looked just about ready to cry for how disappointed he seemed.

“Shit, just my damn lu-,” he swore, then his eyes widened with a quick glance at Vito. “I- uh- I mean… I’m not…”

Juliano shrugged one shoulder and he looked to the window again. His expression switched while he attempted the casual attitude again. He placed his free hand on his hip and said, “I’m not afraid. Why would I be afraid? There’s nothing to be afraid of. Yeah, li-like you said. So… but, and okay, so… maybe I lied.”

He glanced again, and this time his gray-eyed gaze lingered. Juliano took a hesitant step, forward this time rather than backward. He shrugged again with a slight wobble of his head while he looked up at the high arched ceiling of the hall. “Okay, fiiine. You caught me! I lied! I don’t have any duties or training. I just wanted to get home so I could research and draw and drink hot chocolate before I went to sleep.”

That was the truth, as ridiculous as it sounded to say aloud.

The younger biqaj refused to make eye contact, but he gestured out with his free hand in mock surrender and asked, “Are you happy now, Tribunal Vito? Am I allowed to go? It’s only a little rain, I can-”

Another crack of thunder and a loud spattering of rain crashed against the windows.

Juliano cleared his throat and finished, “I can walk home okay.”
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Vito Rossau
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Re: Pour Out Thy Heart

Sun Aug 02, 2020 9:43 pm

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43 YMIDEN, 720. NIGHT
Vito did not seem to react to the curses that fell from Juliano’s mouth. They were cut off rather quickly anyhow, revised with an equally informative excuse of I- uh- I mean… and he was half expecting for the boy to try and come up with something else, from the way it started out. Almost everyone he knew had excuses. They had one for this and that and everything else, and none of them meant a thing. It all boiled down, in the end, to: I did not do what I was supposed to do. Nothing that came after that made any difference to Vito.

Maybe I lied.

Maybe? Of course he had lied. Both of them had known the lie for what it was before it had even faded from the hall. The quick bend of Juliano’s resolve – or perhaps it was an unwillingness to dig himself into a deeper hole – might have repulsed him for how easily he had procured it, if it were not for the strange step forward he made. Vito’s eyes narrowed briefly at the other biqaj. He considered moving back, as he had debated before when Juliano had leaned close over the counter, but like before, he held firm. He took another step forward.

Juliano moved like a child with a wobbly shrug of his shoulder; his eyes raised to the high ceiling above them. The Tribunal could not have guessed what for… besides yet another excuse, to look at something other than the dark-haired man before him. For as nervous and fidgety as Juliano was, Vito could not figure out if it was just his usual demeanor, or if his presence truly disturbed the tailor’s son. Juliano wanted to research and draw and drink hot chocolate, he claimed, but Vito could not relate to that at all – and it showed, however briefly, in the slight furrowing of his dark brows.

People enjoyed things like that, he knew. He just did not understand how. Perhaps it was because he had never done them, but he could not even imagine wasting time and finding enjoyment in the process. Vito did not reply, as he had nothing of note to say in response to something he did not understand, but he did frown.

The request for his permission – if it was really a request at all, rather than the mocking attempt at respect that it seemed to be – turned Vito’s gaze to the side, as he watched the rain fall against the stained glass windows. Another crash of thunder, and moments later, lightning tore through the night sky and flashed across the shadowed hall. The wave of thunder that followed gave him pause, and he hesitated for another few trills before he looked back to the soldier.

“I would advise against it,” he raised his voice ever-so-slightly to be heard above the storm. “but if you care to bleed until you sleep in the streets, it is your choice, Mister Ramires. A cut like that will only worsen in this weather. Water encourages the drawing of your blood, you know, and I would hope that any you can spare would be put to use in His Name rather than swept away with the rain.”

For the first time, Vito shrugged. It was a light lift of both his shoulders and his arms, as the dark sleeves of his robes shadowed the floor behind him. Another bolt of lightning outside, another crack of thunder. He had not known that it would storm; he cursed himself internally for having left the windows open at his home. So infrequently did he open them at all, but some scents could only be banished with enough fresh air.

“I am sure that your drawings and chocolate will wait for you. What is another break in the house of Our Wounded Lord?” in truth, he did not know how long the storm would last. Vito continued, “I worry only for your safety, Juliano – and I would ask that you return the towel to me.”

Vito held out his hand in expectation. His fingers shimmered with drying silver blood,

“Catechist Vito,” called down the hall, loud and only slightly distressed. Vito’s gaze remained steady on Juliano for another trill, as if he did not trust the boy to stay in place. Begrudgingly, he turned his head, and whether the towel had been handed over or not, his hand returned to his side.

“Catechist,” he returned, “what is it?”

Another Tribunal had stuck her head through the door and stared down at them through the hall. She bowed her head and informed, “Father Vilar has asked that the congregation remain inside until the rain has lessened.”
word count: 811
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Juliano Ramires
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Re: Pour Out Thy Heart

Mon Aug 03, 2020 11:22 am

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Night + 43 Ymiden + Arc 720

Juliano didn’t know why the Tribunal cared if he went into the rain or not, but it made sense when he mentioned the wasted blood. Of course. He should have known. Why had he thought anything else? What had he thought…? The young man shook his head, as if to clear his thoughts.

“It’s not that bad,” he insisted, and he brought the cloth down. The cut leaked with silver that shimmered against the bloodlit glow. It was that bad. It was very rare that Juliano cut himself deep enough to require stitches, but he usually didn’t get so startled during sacrifice as he had when he’d seen Vito.

Regardless, Juliano lowered his shirt then smoothed out his jacket. He ignored the thin trickles of blood that trailed along his slim waist. The biqaj walked forward. He handed over the cloth, almost at the exact time that Vito requested it, making for an awkward bump of their hands when Vito reached up just as Juliano reached out to hand it over anyway. He hadn’t needed to be asked. His instincts had filled in the blanks before Vito had even spoken what he wanted.

Not that he agreed with the rest of it. Those same instincts made him doubt that the other man worried for his safety, even if Vito had given no blatant indication of that not being the case. Juliano still avoided eye contact, though his blush faded some. His gaze lingered on the older’s bloodied hand and he muttered, “You should use it to stop your bleeding…”

He might have said something more, but he heard the door open to the corridor. Juliano stepped backward quickly in retreat so he wasn’t as close as he had gotten to the Tribunal. He glanced, enough, to see that it was another Tribunal. His glance darted to Vito – just in time to see the other biqaj turn his head.

The very trill that Vito looked away, Juliano turned around. With a wide, sweeping stride, he power-walked his way down the corridor toward the sharp corner that led aside. He didn’t stick around to hear whatever it was that the other Tribunal had to say. He’d seen his chance, fleeting as it was, and he took it without hesitation.

He glanced when he reached the turn and said, “Th-thanks for your concern, Tribunal.”

Then Juliano darted out of sight while he continued past the doors that led to the various offices and storage rooms. He went past the shadowy stairwell that led into the cathedral’s basement. The door leading outside was RIGHT THERE. He just had to-

-he reached it and he opened the door and-

Juliano stood at the threshold and he stared at the torrential downpour that curtained the night with rainwater. The droplets slanted almost horizontal from the powerful wind that blew through the city. He grimaced, then watched a streak of violet-tinted lightning arc across a span of thick dark clouds. The young biqaj kept the door open, though the water had started to rush inward around his feet already to create a puddle and dampened the front of his attire. It seemed he’d gotten stuck in mesmerized attention while he watched the storm gather and tried to figure out if he could somehow travel through it regardless of danger.

“…maldito,” he swore at the sky.
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Vito Rossau
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Re: Pour Out Thy Heart

Mon Aug 03, 2020 2:10 pm

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43 YMIDEN, 720. NIGHT
Cloth in hand, Vito’s fingers held tightly to the blood-soaked towel. Juliano’s suggestion to use it for himself – to stop the silver blood that leaked in deep slashes over his hands – was not taken into serious consideration. He could not tell if it had been said out of genuine concern or if the boy had simply felt the need to return some of what had been said, and he was not sure that he cared either way. He was expected to bleed, and when the wounds were not as grave, he did not attempt to close them. Soon enough, he knew, the blood would congeal and leave dark silver-blue lines across his hands like rivers.

He frowned, in a way that said nothing about what he was really frowning for, but that made clear his displeasure all the same. The other Tribunal at the end of the hall had stuck her head further through the opened door, and stared down after Vito and Juliano expectantly. When her head tilted, Vito turned –

“Th-thanks for your concern, Tribunal.”

– and that damned tailor’s son had run off again. What did he keep leaving for? How could the prospect of drawing and eating and researching hold that much appeal? Perhaps, Vito considered, he had spooked him. But he had not done anything with that intention. It was merely a pleasant effect. He stood there for a trill, glaring slightly at the corner Juliano had disappeared behind, before the other Tribunal’s voice called after him again.

“All is well, Catechist?”

She referred to the sheep that had fled from his flock. He did not turn around to look at her.

“All is well,” Vito returned lowly. “Assist Father Vilar until I return.”

The door closed with a quiet click, unheard beneath the sound of his shoes against the floor and the rain against the windows. Vito moved forward, and glimmering droplets of silver blood dripped from his hands at either side. From the cloth mixed scarlet hues, like two pots of ink combined, and even the shadows went white with every bolted lightning strike.

Juliano was a fool, if he thought to withstand the storm. There were too many risks, with the dangers of rain and wind and lightning being the least of them. His family was just inside – they would worry for their missing son. The Herald had asked it of them all to stay – and Juliano did not wish to sully his family’s reputation further, did he? Did he wish to bring dishonor to their name? Did he wish to drive the congregation from their clientele? All things that Vito considered that he supposed, as he walked, Juliano did not.

Past the many closed doors and the shadowed stairwell, Vito did not rush. He could hear the rain louder up ahead, and it was not long before he saw the tailor’s son standing at the open door. Water was showered into the hall at an angle, and green eyes narrowed at the pools beginning to form beneath Juliano’s shoes. Had he no consideration for the church?

“...maldito,” he heard, and from the half-shadowed corner where the hall and vestibule connected, Vito observed for another trill. How long would the other biqaj stand there, staring out at the storm? How long would it take, if he left things alone?

But he did not. The Tribunal’s gaze flitted upward from the incoming rainwater to look at the back of the younger’s head, at the dark hair tied back with silver ribbon. He preferred it that way. It was always better when the face was unobscured, and that was especially true for one as expressive as Juliano’s.

Feche a porta, Mister Ramires.”

Vito turned away, and beckoned with his unoccupied hand for the tailor’s son to follow. Whether he did or not – and if he was truly foolish enough to venture outside, then he supposed the concern was misplaced anyhow – the Tribunal did not go back the way he came, not entirely. He did not return to the narrow, windowed hall that would have brought them back to the nave and the rest of the congregation. Instead, he took a turn to the right, and slipped into one of the rooms that had previously been closed off after unlocking the door.

The sacristy was darker than the halls, if only by a bit. Fewer bloodlights illuminated the windowless room, and dark cabinets and shelves of polished stone cut sharp shadows across the floor. It was a little smaller than the other offices – for that was what it was, despite its appearance – and from the lack of decoration and furniture, it seemed as if it was infrequently used. By those who cared for such comforts, at least.

The Tribunal moved to the end of the room, where the cabinets met in a deep water basin, made of the same smooth stone. It was cold, what with the rain coming down outside and the cool air that had settled within the structure of the room. The counter surface of the cabinets was cold, too, when he set the bloody cloth upon it. Whatever was inside of them, the items were obscured behind stained red glass.

Vito opened one of the glass cabinet doors just enough to slip his bleeding hand inside. He grabbed a few things, set them down with the towel, and the cabinet was shut.

With a touch to the empty counter space beside, he said, “sit.”

Finally, he glanced back to see if the soldier had followed after him at all, but did not provide further explanation if he did.
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Re: Pour Out Thy Heart

Mon Aug 03, 2020 3:44 pm

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Night + 43 Ymiden + Arc 720

Juliano was a fool, that much was for certain. But he wasn’t fool enough to get lost in a night’s storm… not when the streets already ran with streams of water over the bricks and overflowed the shallow gutters. He’d lived in Quacia his whole life, and he could recognize a terrible storm when he saw it. But he didn’t want to have to stay, and he wanted to go home. Plus, the rain pummeled the rooftops at an impressive slant and lit up whenever the lightning bolted through the thunderous sky. The biqaj didn’t seem intent on closing the door, head tilted up to watch the storm instead.

“Feche a porta, Mister Ramires.”

“AH!” Juliano startled at the sudden voice that was way too close sounding for his liking. Of course, the Tribunal wasn’t that close, but he had still jumped. His heart had still leapt in his chest. He looked over, his eyes wide and his irises burned a vivid lime-green color. He shut the door in a hurry with a muttered insincere-sounding apology, “Sorry, sorry, I didn’t mean to… I’ll clean it up, I- no- I just need a mop. You got a mop?”

He followed the beckon with obvious hesitation. One of his hands came up and he fidgeted with the teardrop garnet that hung from his necklace. His bony fingers tapped at the shape, then he clung to it as if to use it in some sort of hopeful prayer. He walked through into the dark sacristy, and did so in relative silence as an attempted show of respectful trust for the Tribunal. It didn’t help the pitter-patter of his heart, his pulse quick and vicious like the raindrops outside. His side hurt. It stung against the rub of his shirt’s fabric. He ignored it, best he could, though his hand absently moved to scratch in an absent-minded touch.

“Uhm…” he tried to start up something to say – so that it wasn’t so damn silent between them in the dark little room far away from the congregation. Juliano felt acutely aware of the shadows, and the sharp edges over the floor, and how cluttered it was in the dimly lit room. The stone structure and crimson bloodlights comforted the Quacian though. “I-is this… or… I don’t see a mop. That’s okay, I can use something else if needed.”

“sit.”

“Yes, sir.” Agh, what the fuck was that thoughtless simpered response? Was he a child?! Juliano’s blush returned to his face, water damp on the freckled features. The rain had gotten over his brow and into hair, dripping off in trails to soak into his suit’s collar. Despite his repulsion for his own voiced submission, he walked over and accepted the command for what it was. He lifted onto the counter and sat where Vito had touched. A wince showed while he felt a sting shoot through the cut on his side.

Juliano smiled, then. His eyes had returned to the gray with tiny flecks of pale green and purple within them. His long legs swung out in front of him, not unlike the child that Juliano wanted to insist he wasn’t anymore, and he glanced over the other biqaj.

“You’re weird,” he finally decided aloud, as if he’d just come up with a groundbreaking discovery. “I-I mean, I don’t mean insult, Tribunal. Just that, y—you- it’s the way you- or- no, it’s something else- like how- or- when- uhm…”

Juliano couldn’t keep looking at the other, instead he lowered his gaze to the floor while he stopped lightly kicking his legs. He folded his hands in his lap and muttered a forced apology.

A small glance, past his dark lashes, then he added, “W-why’d you… You didn’t want to talk about magic, did you? Just wanted me to pray…”
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Vito Rossau
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Re: Pour Out Thy Heart

Mon Aug 03, 2020 4:38 pm

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43 YMIDEN, 720. NIGHT
There was no damned mop in the sacristy. What kind of room did Juliano think it was? He had not led him to some closet full of buckets and brooms. Still, he supposed the younger biqaj might have thought that he had intended on making him clean up the mess in the vestibule, with how he had waved for him to follow like that. He had not, however. He had not made up his mind yet about whether or not he wanted the tailor’s son to clean anything at all.

Punishments of that sort typically only worked if one knew they were being punished.

Vito did not mind the silence between them. It went mostly unnoticed by him, as he focused instead on bringing the soldier to the cold office, and then on gathering his things with discretion. Juliano was quick to obey his command, moving forward to climb onto the counter and sit, and Vito was not sure whether to be surprised by his compliance or relieved. The boy had seemed to have good instincts at the start, after all, but his manners had diminished soon enough.

A smile caught his eye for just a trill, and then he looked away again, back down to the things he had pulled out of the cabinets. While he fiddled with those, he considered the storm outside the church walls, and wondered how long it would last – he had things to do. Not drawing, or drinking, or researching, but other things that required him to return home when he could. Nevertheless, the storm raged, and even in the little sacristy, he could hear the muffled sounds of thunder and rain and, more distantly, prayer.

“You’re weird.”

What? Vito squinted at that, though he was yet to look up at the other man’s face. Juliano was in no position to call him weird. He had not done anything weird. Vito could not help a subtle frown as the soldier continued, kicking his legs lightly through the air and offering strange apologies. Whatever Juliano was trying to get across – whatever he was trying to explain, or convey – it did not make sense to him.

And you are annoying, he thought, as he took a step closer to Juliano and looked over his covered waist. Without a word of warning, the Tribunal reached closer and lifted the well-tailored shirt, even if he had to nudge the other’s arms out of the way to do so. He was not weird. He was oftentimes the only sane person in the room, he thought, and he furrowed his brow.

“Of course I wanted you to pray,” he confirmed in a tone that sounded only slightly scolding. “I wish for everyone’s salvation, Mister Ramires. It is to your benefit to do so.”

While he was not rough, the Tribunal did not attempt to be gentle either as he inspected the deep cut on Juliano’s waist. Closer now, he only allowed his eyes to lift for a trill, to take in the other man’s expression. A little quieter, he asked, “do you only attend anything if something else is promised to you?”

Green eyes fell back to the younger’s waist, where Vito’s fingers retreated from the wound.

“No, that was not the only reason.”

Gathering the towel from the other side of the counter, he pulled it closer and then held it up to press against the cut. Vito did not elaborate, but continued speaking while he waited for more of the boy’s silver blood to coat the cloth. “You need stitches if you do not want that to reopen every time you move. I can assist, if you wish, or you can use the cloth until Father Vilar has decided it is safe for you to go.”

Vito stepped to the side. It was not an invitation to get down off of the counter, per se, but an indication that he would not prod at the injury any further unless his assistance was requested. He leaned back against the counter, green eyes set upon the closed door. It did not show on his face, not now, but a certain comment had irked him.

“What do you mean by weird?
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