• Mature • [Mature] Skins of Thistleweed

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Alistair
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[Mature] Skins of Thistleweed

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16th of Cylus, Arc 717

It was raining, hard. It'd drawn the mice and rats into the cellars of all the silly little restaurants strewn around the village, and the people kept to their homes or beneath the long rooftops spanning out from them. The village, Thistleton, was one of few people - not more than two hundred lived in this town, and everyone knew everyone. As he walked down the cobble pavement on the sides of buildings, each and every person he passed said hello, greeting both Alistair and his young son, Luca, who he'd named after his dearest friend. The little boy waved hello, gave the polite strangers hugs, and went on his way. The two boys, father and son, were on their way home to say hello to the large family they'd left waiting for them - though for some reason, the man couldn't remember any of their names.

He was dressed in simple clothes, slacks and white suspenders, classy for the area but not for the nobility he came from. There was a silver locket upon his neck, inside, images of he and his son. Alistair was a businessman, and soon, he sought to become the mayor of Thistleton. It was his great dream, and he'd gone far in pursuing it, finally set to achieve that goal.

But damn, today was one of difficulty. The path from here to home was completely drenched, and he feared for the health of his boy if he was left out in the cold and the rain, even if escorted all the way there by his father. The man decided to make a stop, turning into the tavern where the locals congregated for amusement, as a bard sung an enchanting song about rain and storms, lashing against ships sailing in the vast ocean. His little boy, Luca, had begun to clap for the bard amidst her song - smiles being posed towards the two as the lady continued in verse, strumming her fingers softly across the cords of her lute.

"Sway, oh sway, another day -- don't let the storm wash us away! Regale our tales of night and day, come out, light - show us your rays!" The people in the establishment began to dance, and cheer, and sing. "And here, the sun, he hath come -- forge forward, my friends, drink on your rum! We have gone to the ends of Idalos tonight, and boy oh boy, that was a fright!"

As all around her sung, Alistair's eyes locked on a particular man. It was a friend from some time ago, he could've sworn, though he couldn't remember more than a face. Not a name, that was to be sure, despite being in such a small town. He brought his son along with him, and tapped on the man's shoulder, waving hello.

"Do I know you?" he asked, a friendly smile upon his face. "I swear I've seen you somewhere. Did you work for the herbalists to the west of town, by any chance?" Alistair used to, when he was younger, before he began to pursue a political career. Helping and healing others had always been one of his passions, and it was from that talent that he drew a great amount of admiration from the townspeople. Still, he felt this man had healer's hands, and a familiar face. Yet from where?
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Last edited by Alistair on Thu Jun 15, 2017 9:06 pm, edited 3 times in total. word count: 570
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Navik
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[Mature] Skins of Thistleweed

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He had escaped the rain. He couldn't even remember when exactly he had entered the tavern, so lost in the song and the sound of the water falling outside, that seemed to only add to the lyrics. The hot mug between his hands only helped the feeling of complete calm. On the very back of his mind, something told him that he shouldn't be feeling such tranquillity, but he didn't bother with it. Everything felt very right, and there was nothing to worry about. He had had a wonderful day at work, managing to finally heal his patient of some strange disease. Even now, he wasn't sure what it had been, but it was healed and that was what mattered. After finishing and closing his clinic, he had made his way to the tavern, like he often did. Then the rain had started, and he had been unable to return home. It wasn't really a problem, since he knew his house was waiting for him once the rain passed, surrounded with large trees and beautiful flowers. Someone would be there, he knew, waiting for him with a hot meal.

Thistleton was a nice place to live in. People were friendly and open, always eager to help each other, and he felt connected to the place and the villagers in a way he was sure was very special. There was no better village in the world, where one would know and feel welcomed by all others. He even knew the bard, her red hair falling down to her waist and moving smoothly as she sung to the people in the tavern.

The hand on his shoulder was sudden, but not threatened at all, and when Navik raised his eyes, he found himself looking at a familiar face. Strange, since he could not remember the man's name, nor the name of the boy that was with him. He was sure they were father and son, though, and like everything in Thistleton, their presence was a welcomed and friendly one. So they must be residents of the town, and he must know them both. Everyone in the village knew each other, after all.

"I think you do." Navik answered, returning the smile. "I used to work for him, but only for a short while." he couldn't remember why he left, although he was sure it hadn't been more than two cycles spent working for the man before he opened his own place. A place he loved and cherished more than anything else, where people came seeking his help with some cold or some broken bone. There was rarely something more serious than that in Thistleton, after all. "I work as a doctor now. I probably tended your son's wounds a few times. I'm Navik." he added, as an afterthought, as if his name would help the other's memory as much as his own. "Why don't you sit down?" he offered the empty chairs on his table with a movement of his hand.

He listened to a few more notes in silence, appreciating the warmth, before turning once again to the man.

"Have you worked for him? Kylan, I mean." if the other had, perhaps they met during the short while Navik was working for him as an herbalist. If he thought hard enough, he could almost remember a very dear friend from that time.
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Alistair
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[Mature] Skins of Thistleweed

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So, he had worked for Kylan. It was coming back to him now, bit by bit, those experiences before -- picking roots together, making poultices, treating mock wounds and injured birds. Perhaps these memories were made in falsehood, but he did not believe so. "It's been some time, Navik," the man responded, as if he really did know him. There was a certain familiarity, and a certain charm in his eyes. It reminded him so much of the old days. Where had they gone? He felt that he could scarcely remember a thing - even this town, now that he thought about it. But he'd always been raised here, right?

"I am Alistair. You might remember me as Kylan's assistant. I served as an independent doctor too, for a while, before pursuing leadership in the town. Now, I'm running for mayor," he said, enthusiastically. He made no response to whether or not Navik had treated his son, though he didn't remember it; after all, Alistair usually took care of Luca's treatment himself. He had no reason to go to others, only to have to expend funds and explain all of his prior treatments without any expectation of the other doctors weighing them in.

Still, the man sat down, seating Luca on his lap. The boy was strangely silent, just staring at Navik as if he knew him. Things in the tavern had stilled in general, with the song ceasing, people shuffling about and speaking in hushed tones. The lights began to darken. No one questioned why all this was - in fact, most of them seemed to expect it. Alistair looked around curiously, before an image snapped at the back of his mind, a black silhouette - a tall man, ribcage shown through his skinny suit of meat, a long knife and jagged fingertips. And like some sort of God, that image was made into a reality, though not directly here -- it was outside, standing in the rain. The two men could see it through the window, staring at them with glowing amber eyes.

He'd seen this creature before. Where had it come from? Why did it pursue him? He couldn't remember.

He blinked, and the visage was gone. The creature that had appeared before his eyes faded to dust, or perhaps melded with the shadows, and strangely the Venora had scarcely any fear after witnessing it. It had become... so normal to him, these hallucinations. What was a shadowy beast if not another visitor from his demented mindscape?

"Navik," he called the man's name, "do you have any particular plans for the night? I feel as if I have been privileged in seeing you again, and I don't know why. Perhaps it's that I've been utterly melancholy, of late - it would feel well and good to re-connect with an old friend." With those words, the tavern around them began to shift, though in a way neither of them would easily recognize - the patronage began to clear out, leaving the tables and the room entirely to Alistair, Navik and Luca. The lights began to flicker on and off, and the owner stepped up the staircase to return to sleep. It was them three, alone.

He looked outside. The rain had been replaced by the veil of night, the sun going away... so quickly. Had they really been speaking for so long? He didn't believe they had.

Yet it would seem so.

The man receded to himself, slowly, his fingers on his temples. He lowered his head, so much that it neared the surface of the table. His head began to pound. Thud. Before his silent, empty eyes, formed a shadowy apparition, tall as the ceiling. It lodged a cleaver hard into Navik's shoulder, and attempted to grab onto him. Alistair barely moved. His son faded from view. Had this really devolved so quickly?
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Last edited by Alistair on Thu Jun 15, 2017 9:07 pm, edited 1 time in total. word count: 654
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[Mature] Skins of Thistleweed

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Although he couldn't remember the name of the man in front of him before, he felt a very strong feeling of knowing the other once Alistair told him his name. It was a weird familiarity, one that he didn't even bothered to question, and yet, couldn't really tell where it came from. It simply didn't matter.

"Ah, yes." he answered, smiling as he rested his chin in his hand. "I heard about it. You running for mayor, I mean. You're definitely fit for the job." was he? Navik seemed very sure of it, despite barely remembering his name a few seconds ago. All mayors in Thistleton, however, had been great at their jobs, some less than others, but overall Navik was happy with how the village was run. And he was sure Alistair would fit well in the role of leadership. A few memories seemed to come back to him, and he smiled, almost nostalgic.

Before he could elaborate on any thought, the lights began to darken. Navik frowned, noticing how the sound around them had dimmed. It gave him an uneasy feeling. Something was wrong, although he could not pinpoint exactly what it was. All he could tell was the sudden fear he felt, like something bad would happen very soon. He looked around, trying to find the source of the weird and sudden feeling, until his eyes finally laid on two glowing spots on the window. He couldn't see anything else, his mind blocking all other sound from the fear he was feeling. It happened in a moment, and was gone in another, Alistair words bringing him back to reality.

"Yes, sure, why not?" he nodded, slightly shaken by the quick event, but trying to appear just as calm as the other. "It's always good to have some company on difficult times, after all." Navik smiled as well as he could. "I think I'd appreciate the company as well." he then frowned, noticing the now empty room. It brought back the feeling of uneasiness at full force. There was something frightening in being left almost alone as the room began to grow darker.

And then, Alistair seemed to faint, head connecting with the table. The kid that had been sitting on his lap faded away, around the same time Navik felt a sharp pain on his shoulder. He screamed, as cold fear and hot pain mixed inside his body. For a brief moment, he could not move. As soon as he felt a hard hand on his shoulder, cold so intense that it seemed to burn him even through his clothes, he jumped up, body twisting as he tried to get away from it.

Navik's eyes focused on the creature in front of him, seeing the same red eyes as earlier, the shadow vaguely human but not completely. In his eyes, it was taller, much taller and more slender than a normal person. If he looked hard enough, he could see flashes of blood and organs inside its form, but most of the time everything dissolved into deformed shadows. To even look at it long was starting to make him dizzy.

He had to run.

"Alistair!" why was the other not even moving? Was he not afraid? Navik grabbed his shoulder, trying to shake him awake. "Wake up! We have to run!" had they? The shadow wasn't making any effort to get to them, looking at them, body changing shape constantly. But something deep inside him told him they had to go. When he looked down again, though, his eyes widened. The other man's form seemed almost ethereal, as if threatening to disappear right in front of his eyes. "Alistair!" he tried again, shaking the other, as if it would keep him there.
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Alistair
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[Mature] Skins of Thistleweed

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He was entranced. Why had these creatures always haunted him in his dreams? A beast of shadow, a beast wielding an axe, a beast lodging a cleaver deep into another man's shoulders. And why did Navik deserve such horror? These nightmares were of Alistair's own creation. In the waking world, he could only twist and turn, as his mind went blank. His eyes closed, and he remembered something. He was a mage. Mages walked through Emea differently than all others, and they invited such nightmares to them in droves.

He was a Sesser, haunted by the emotions he'd regulated out, or forced in. Surely he was punished the greatest for demanding control over his lust and fury, things which Syroa wished to embed deeper into him, rather than see them recede. Greatest of all, he was a man who had desperately sought to be a father, for all of his adult life. To see the child fade from view, to see him drown off far away, it brought a compelling fear forth.

"Luca," he called out, unmoving, as the Sev'ryn man shook him into consciousness. "Luca, Luca!" he yelled in fear, supposedly aware of the nature of these visions - ones dreaming - yet still unable to break away from the fear. Navik continued to shake him, continued to attempt to return him to the waking world. Finally, his eyes opened and he moved, though not in the dream. In the present, he could still feel the man shaking him as a silhouette of the man with the cleaver loomed beyond his bed, and the red eyes of a figure no taller than a child stared at him from the door-sill. The boy's shape was the same. The creature's cleaver was fresh with blood.

"I am here, father," he swore he could hear... before falling back asleep again, this time with no dreams, at least not ones he could remember.
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[Mature] Skins of Thistleweed

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Alistair
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Navik feel free to submit your request for rewards to the review request thread. Shame the thread ended, it had a lot of potential, I thought, but equally, what I read I really enjoyed and well done Ali, on wrapping it up so well. Spooky, disturbing, well written! PM if there's any questions!
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~~Red in hoof and claw... ~~
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