Her hand tightened into a fist and she made a hissing sound between her teeth. The thin scab that had formed over the wound broke open and the blood once again began to seep out. It was an intense pain that radiated out from her palm, pain that had worsened over the past few days. What had begun as a thin red gash across her palm, created by a sharp and clean blade, had widened into a gaping mouth since.
Opening her hand back up she looked at it. The pain was caused her eyes to brighten with the prospect of tears. If it had been properly cared for it would have been nearly healed by now, and the scar would have been minimal. Its current condition was due to the fact that she had purposefully kept it open. It had been wrapped up in a bandage only when she worked with her hands, and that bandage had not been exchanged yet for a clean one. The flesh around the mouth was pink and angry, flecks of grime mingled with the puss and blood that the mouth spewed out. A smile curled at her lips as she looked at it.
That will make a fine scar if it ever heals...
Picking up the crusted bandage she had been using she decided that perhaps it was time to get a cleaner one. This one had started to attract flies. Tossing it to the floor where it piled up with other discarded bits of her life she ripped the edge of her bed sheet into a strip and used that to wrap up her hand. In only a few minutes the rust colored seepage had already soaked through the layers of linen, but she didn't notice.
All that she cared about right now was the fact that she was finally a Hellkite. Her membership was only as old as the festering gash on her palm, and she thus held one of the lowest ranks possible within its bowels. However, she was smart enough, and determined enough, to know that you had to start somewhere and that from here she could only go up. Perhaps one day they would regret allowing her into their ranks, that day would bring her great joy.
What did not bring her great joy was the knowledge that she shared this lowly rank with him. After delivering Gracchus's head she and her partners in the deed had been initiated. The twin had gone off that same night to take care of some job that was more suited to their skills. The elf and she had been told to standby. Now she had been summoned back and there was a tingle in the phantom tips of her ears that told her to expect to see his vile face at this meeting.
So she stalked back to the Hydra's Breath. The mud of the city sucked at her boots and almost seemed to try and pull her back down with every step. That was how life was, every step she had ever taken was a struggle to pull out of the mud, to find some rock and make a firm stand. And with each step she reminded herself of what she would do once she found firm ground to walk upon again. Under the wide brim of her hat a smile crept back onto her lips, but it never touched her eyes. Those dark beady eyes were intent on catching anyone, elven, human or otherwise, who dared to cross her path. Everyone who did made her tense and grasp at the dagger concealed in her cloak as she debated whether to bend down and slice their Achilles tendon in twine. If it had not been for her appointment she might have.
At the Hydra she wasted no time in the main room but instead wandered down into the cellar and to the large tapestry on the back wall. For but a moment she paused to examine the work. The image was that of an orange tree that rose towards the heavens. Around the edge of the tapestry an intricate interlocking pattern had been formed. Only those that knew what they were looking for could see the small figures that had been woven into this pattern. The small birds that flew up out of the thorns, the wolves that seemed to starve at the bottom, and the pears that swelled up in their ripe greens along the sides. A white ram was also hidden among the edge pattern and she knew who had made it, and understood their passive statement. With a shake of her head she pushed the tapestry aside, taking note of the dust that had collected in its fibers as she did, and knocked on the door that it hid.
The door swung open for her and she stomped inside. A quick scan of the room and sure enough she had been right to expect him. He was already in the room, standing with full confidence even while he boiled with loathing for the "round ears" that surrounded him.
"Ah, so good of you to join us witch..." Dmitrova spoke from his chair and offered her a smile she knew he did not mean.
Turning her eyes from the assassin to look at Dmitrova she offered a false smile back to him.
"O're lle rambuva..." the elven dialect rolled through her strained teeth in a hushed promise to the man before her, but it was quiet enough that he did not notice, or if he had he made no sign of it.
"As I had been telling Nyx here, you two did so well with the last task I thought perhaps you would enjoy working together again."
"I prefer to work alone," Cay replied coldly.
"So would he. But I'm afraid I don't fully trust either one of you yet... and from what I gather," Dmitrova's voice took on an amused tone, "you don't trust each other either. I rather like the idea of keeping you two together and making you watch the other."
The pompous bastard is toying with me! He enjoys watching me squirm... I swear he shall pay!
Clenching her teeth to hold back the bile that rose in her throat she simply stared at Dmitrova and would not dare lift her eyes off him to see the look on Nyx's face.
"Good. Now then," I have this job for you. It is rather delicate..." And at that Dmitrova's eyes moved over to Nyx, watching the assassin's face while he spoke. "The thing is we don't want any blood spilt, at least not yet. Right now I just need information. The target is Kharinya Bolstoii. What I want is simply for you two to observe her. Find out who she talks to, where she shops, when she eats, how she combs her hair. If there is anything to be known about her I want to know it. Until I get what I want, no one is to be killed... or maimed..." his eyes move back to Cay at that, "is that clear?"
What is this about? Cayrimsa wondered to herself. Outwardly she nodded slightly to Dmitrova.
Posted on 2009-11-12 at 04:46:27.
Edited on 2016-03-18 at 12:27:07 by Eol Fefalas
To the insipid round-ears with whom he shared the room, the scant puff of air that had just blown past the elf’s lips would likely not register as the exasperated sigh that it was. Nor did a single one of them have the faintest idea that, since he’d arrived in response to Dmitrova’s summons, Nyx had wiled away the time imagining just how he might kill each of them before finally severing the thread that kept the Hellkites Captain tied to his position and his life…
When I see it in the stars, Captain, the mith’ganni mused, do not think that I will hesitate to spill your blood in this very room. His moonlight gaze drifted away from Dmitrova, then, and regarded the candle by which he had been gauging the passage of time since he had arrived and then been made to wait. Although, if I have to pass much more time simply imagining it, Nyx sighed inwardly when he figured he had been forced to stand amongst these short-lives for the better part of an hour, I may not be able to wait, yes?
…A razor-edged smile spread across Nyx’s lips and, as his attentions drifted from the tallow and took up their slow circuit of the room again, alabaster fingers flexed around the hilt of a punching dagger he had been keeping at the ready beneath his cloak. The soft thudding sounds of too-large boots in the corridor and the sibilant whisper made by the movement of the tapestry that covered the outer face of this room’s door had alerted him that his wait was over even before the oaf of a breeder whom Dmitrova had posted as the doorman reacted to the knock.
“Password,” the brute demanded, pressing an ear to the door.
“Tadpole,” came the reply.
Nyx lifted a brow and one corner of his mouth followed suit as he fixed his yellow eyes on the doorway and offered a haughty half-smile to the wharf witch as she stomped into the room. Ah, Cayrimsa, he chuckled to himself, my little blunt-eared slitch of a spellslinger… I might have known… He flicked the half-breed a wink when her eyes found him and his wicked smile became all the more devilish as he absorbed the venom she glared in his direction. What, lovely? Not happy to see me?… “Tsk.”
“…So good of you to join us, witch,” Vadim smirked from behind his desk, as Cay trudged closer.
Her spiteful gaze tore away, then, and she offered the Hellkite Captain a false smile in return and, as she did so, hissed “O’re lle rambuva” through clenched teeth.
Nyx, for his part, didn’t let his gaze waver from Cayrimsa in the slightest. His eyes being on her irritated the sorceress, he knew, and, if he had to endure the company of Vadim and his lackeys for however much longer this bit of business might last, he intended to get some enjoyment from it. He did allow a bemused chuckle to escape when Cay silently promised that Dmitrova would scream someday, though… “Miir,” he snickered, folding his arms across his chest and resisting the urge to applaud – it’s not as if she’d issued the threat in Common, after all… absolutely priceless, little cousin…
“As I had been telling Nyx, here,” Vadim continued, oblivious to the meaning of the elven words that had just been spoken or, perhaps, to the fact that they had been spoken at all, “you two did so well with the last task, I thought perhaps you would enjoy working together again.”
“I prefer to work alone,” Cay replied coldly.
The Hellkite Lord nodded, settling back into his chair and folding his hands across his fattening belly. “So would he. But I’m afraid I don’t fully trust either one of you, yet… and from what I gather,” Dmitrova’s voice took on an amused tone, “you don’t trust each other, either. I rather like the idea of keeping you two together and making one watch the other.”
Which of us does that punish the most, Nyx wondered, still leering silently at the fuming half-breed…
“Good,” Dmitrova continued, “Now, then… I have this job for you. It is rather delicate…”
Nyx felt the man’s eyes on him as he prattled on with the next bit.
“…The thing is we don’t want any blood spilt…”
The assassin’s moon-hued eyes rolled in their sockets and, his lids closed briefly as if hearing that had confirmed he had wasted his time in even answering Dmitrova’s call. Nyx snorted in derision, his gaze finally shifting from Cay to Vadim and arms unfolding beneath the shadow-tinted cloak.
“… at least not yet,” Dmitrova added, then. “Right now I just need information. The target is Kharinya Bolstoii. What I want is simply for you two to observe her. Find out who she talks to, where she shops, when she eats, how she combs her hair. If there is anything to be known about her I want to know it. Until I get what I want… no one is to be killed… or maimed…” his eyes move back to Cay at that, “is that clear?”
Cay offered a fractional nod in response to the breeder King of the Hellkites. Nyx, on the other hand, simply shrugged and sighed again as he moved for the door. “As you wish, my Captain,” he sneered, offering an almost disinterested glance back before reaching for the latch, “but know that I’ll not settle for a mere watcher’s pay… my price remains the same…”
Posted on 2009-11-12 at 20:43:18.
Edited on 2016-03-18 at 12:35:54 by Eol Fefalas
“As you wish, my Captain,” Nyx sneered, offering an almost disinterested glance back before reaching for the latch, “but know that I’ll not settle for a mere watcher’s pay… my price remains the same…”
Dmitrova sneered back at the elf’s disinterested glance. “You know that as usual we will discuss your price when you have finished the task. I’ll pay you not only for it being done but for how it is done. But to keep you interested…” He tossed a small purse at him, and likewise tossed one to Cay.
Proud bastard. ‘my price remains the same…’ what have you to be so proud of huh? Your pointy little ears? They are just talismans of a race that is dying, especially in your case. And the reason the elves are dying? Because they are weak and allowed themselves to enslaved. You can kill, certainly, but so can that human before you… and he has likely killed more of your kind than you will ever of his…
Her thoughts wandered on this tangent for a moment longer than they should while she stuffed the purse into a pocket somewhere. Slowly she refocused and realized that she had been staring at Nyx and letting her lips move slightly with the internal discourse. With a narrowing of her eyes and a deep frown driving across her lips she moved to push past Nyx and out of the room. When her shoulder brushed against his she hissed at him in a low whisper.
“Tira ten’ rashwe… o’ re rambuva vithel.”
Part of her hated being so obvious about her hatred, and part of her preferred it that way. She thought of herself like a rattlesnake, warning those around her with a shake of her tail that they should think twice before getting too close.
Someone in the room had not heard that rattle though.
“Elves…” The word was said with a mocking laugh that was directed toward the two trying to leave the room.
Nyx was forgotten as that word fell upon her mutilated ears. Turning on her heel she faced the room again finding the man who had said such vile things about her.
The smell of fire, smoke and burning flesh suddenly filled the room as a pair of hands consumed in flame clasped down on the fat fingers of the round ear who had uttered the single word. His scream was instantaneous and bordered on pain and shock.
“I am not an elf…” Cay said firmly as the man writhed under the fiery grip on his wrists and blades unsheathed themselves around her.
Posted on 2009-11-13 at 15:26:39.
Edited on 2016-03-18 at 12:38:52 by Eol Fefalas
“You know that, as usual, we will discuss your price when you have finished the task,” Dmitrova sneered in reply, staying Nyx’s hand on the latch and drawing the elf’s eyes back to him, “I’ll pay you not only for it being done but, also, for how it is done. But to keep you interested…”
Yes, yes, Nyx internalized as he snatched the purse Dmitrova had lobbed at him from the air, the customary ‘advance’ that insures you shall have the last word, Vadim…
“Of course,” Nyx acquiesced, offering the man a faint nod in lieu of a bow as he secreted the tiny pouch away inside his coat, “By your leave, then, Captain.” His impassively confident smile still firmly in place as his attentions moved away from the Hellkite King once more, the mith’ganni’s gaze swept over Cay as it panned back to the door… she was staring at him, he noticed, and her lips were moving though no sound spilled past them. The yellow-eyes ticked back to the wharf witch and the heretofore sardonic smile on his thin lips took on a more amused tinge as he watched her mouth work…
… has likely killed more of your kind than you will ever of his…
Nyx’s eyes narrowed a bit and one black brow spiked upwards but the smile broadened all the more… Yes, little cousin, I’m sure he has… for now…It is always easier to pluck a victim from a cage than it is to hunt one, though, is it not?
It was then that the half-elf realized what was going on; her own gaze narrowed and the already down-turned corners of her mouth tightened further, souring her expression all the more, as she made to shove passed him and take her leave. “Tira ten’ rashwe,” she hissed as her shoulder brushed his, “o’ re rambuva vithel.”
“Tintila amin gorga,” the assassin chuckled in reply, his voice dripping sarcasm as he started to slip into the corridor.
“Elves,” one of Dmitrova’s lackeys chuckled with contempt almost as quickly as the mith’ganni’s back had turned to them.
Monkey-faced breeders, Nyx smirked, not bothering to gratify the humans with so much as a look back, Have your fun while you can… a time will come for each of you…
The pitiful attempt at an insult hadn’t managed to turn Nyx around but the anguished scream accompanied the sudden, acrid odor of flame and burning flesh that filled the room behind him certainly had… especially when Cay’s incensed voice rose over the round-ear’s wailing; “I am not an elf!” The witch had hold of the pudgy wrists of the bodyguard Nyx had come to recognize as Yuri and, judging by the wilting expression on his face and the ashen hue of his complexion, Cayrimsa had just seared the flesh of the man’s forearms to the bone.
Nyx couldn’t help but smile. “True enough,” he snickered from where he leaned almost casually against the door frame, watching with interest as the scene unraveled, “lle holma ve’ edan.” He remained there when the first blades of Dmitrova’s uninjured men skittered from their scabbards and debated, for a moment, whether or not he should just allow them to kill her… The job would be mine alone, then, yes? … As the remainder of the round-eared Hellkites brought their weapons to bare and closed in on Cay, though, he knew that no such luck would be born of it should he allow them to hack her to pieces… No, he sighed as he pushed himself away from the doorjamb and allowed his hands to find the hilts of the kukri strapped to his thigh and the small of his back, I suppose not. More likely, Dmitrova would then saddle me with one of these other nadorhuarim…
The Twilight Elf threw back his cloak and shook the mane of his dark hair free from the cowl as he strode into their midst. The kukri danced in his hands as he whirled about, pressing his back to Cay’s to ensure that none of these paching roaches would have an easy time burying a blade there. His moon-colored eyes glinted with deadly intent and his razor-lipped smile promised that he should enjoy the dance if it came to such a thing but, rather than immediately begin the bloodletting as he was wont to do, he flicked a glance in Vadim’s direction. “Should you allow any of them to harm her, Captain, then you’ll also need to turn them on me, yes? Who shall bring you what it is you seek, then?
None of these, I’m certain,” he promised as his glare tracked from face to face, “nor any of your other dogs, I’d wager, else you’d not have summoned we two. Call them down, Vadim, or by Prien’s burning eyes, I’ll gut them all.”
Posted on 2009-11-13 at 20:36:55.
Edited on 2016-03-18 at 12:42:51 by Eol Fefalas
The Twilight Elf threw back his cloak and shook the mane of his dark hair free from the cowl as he strode into their midst. The kukri danced in his hands as he whirled about, pressing his back to Cay’s to ensure that none of these paching roaches would have an easy time burying a blade there.
Cay was occupied with the spell she was using to clamp down on the man who had dared call her an elf and had not noticed what Nyx was up to; until she felt him at her back. Immediately she tensed, lost concentration on her spell and threw up her hands, letting go of the Hellkite vermin.
His moon-colored eyes glinted with deadly intent and his razor-lipped smile promised that he should enjoy the dance if it came to such a thing but, rather than immediately begin the bloodletting as he was wont to do, he flicked a glance in Vadim’s direction. “Should you allow any of them to harm her, Captain, then you’ll also need to turn them on me, yes? Who shall bring you what it is you seek, then?
None of these, I’m certain,” he promised as his glare tracked from face to face, “nor any of your other dogs, I’d wager, else you’d not have summoned we two. Call them down, Vadim, or by Prien’s burning eyes, I’ll gut them all.”
Vadim himself had risen out of his chair when Cay began to burn her wrath upon Yuri. He was actually slightly surprised when Nyx jumped in and was now defending the witch. It took a moment to consider the options. His men had been drinking, Cay had been insulted but now withdrew her attack, Nyx was capable of taking down at least a few of the men in the room (especially with the liquor factor taken into consideration), and Nyx was right, Vadim had called upon these two for their skills on this task. Very slowly he raised his pudgy pink hand and the blades at least stayed still.
“Yuri… you okay there?” Vadim asked but kept his eyes on Cay and Nyx. Something in his voice was also suggesting to Yuri that if he said ‘no’ it would not be considered very ‘manly’.
Yuri was looking down at his wrists, at the pink skin that had blistered and cracked under the witches spell. His eyes were wide and his breathing came in gasps. When the voice of his boss came through his pain and anger he grunted. “Let me at her boss… I’ll be fine if you’ll just let me at her!”
Vadim watched carefully as Nyx tightened his grip on his kukri and turned those yellow eyes on the room more intently, and Cay flexed her fingers into a fist while her lips parted slightly with some spell on her tongue.
They make quiet the pairing… He mused to himself then shook his head.
“No Yuri. Cayrimsa here is not an elf, which is something I don’t think you are going to forget anytime soon. If she is done with her demonstration she can leave and get on with the task I have assigned her.”
Yuri did not seem pleased with this decision and glowered at Cay as his wrists continued to bake from the sheer heat of the burns.
Cay stood there in silence though. Against her back she could feel Nyx. His breathing was anxious and yet controlled, coming in long deep inhales then pausing a moment before being exhaled again; his long black hair tickled against the base of her neck; his muscles flexed into tight chords turning his whole body into a weapon.
A moment ago she had watched Dmitrova consider things when Nyx had handed him the cards, now those cards were in her hands. Two things made her decision for her. One was that Nyx was too damned close for comfort. The other was her desire to stay with the Hellkites and continue to rise through their ranks if only to destroy them later. Now was not the ideal time for that. Her reaction to Yuri had been rash and inopportune, now she was being given a chance to pull back, and she took it. It was not an easy decision though, hearing Yuri scream had brought her such pleasure. Making him do it again would be amazing, making Dmitrova scream would be ecstasy… Without a word she simply reached up with her hands and tugged the brim of her hat down further over her ears before stepping out of the room.
The humans in the room watched Nyx with their blades still drawn after the witch had left the room. Every one of them was ready to attack should he make the slightest wrong move. Outside, the half-elf he had defended was not waiting for him. Already her large boots were pounding a trail toward the stairs leading out of the cellar.
Posted on 2009-11-14 at 05:46:19.
Edited on 2016-03-18 at 12:47:16 by Eol Fefalas
The mith’ganni’s expression didn’t change when Dmitrova swallowed the bait he’d been tossed and, with a gesture, stayed the hands of his men. It wouldn’t have been wise to let them see his satisfaction and thus be reminded of having been bluffed down by a point-eared piece of offal from half-way across the continent… No, to be apprised of that would certainly change his mind, wouldn’t it… and the blood would spill pointlessly.
There was conversation, too, Nyx knew – its vibrations in the smoky air pattered against his skin and the acknowledgement of the spoken words registered in the eyes of the men that surrounded them – but there was little significance in the words for him, then. More important, now, were the sounds of breathing, of heartbeats, of the scrape of boot soles against the floor as weight shifted from one leg to another, the whine of a tendon and the rustle of cloth as a movement was made. These were the noises that bore the weight of the moment, the resonances that would drive his actions, select his targets, and keep a mind on the blind spots until…
“No, Yuri. Cayrimsa here is not an elf, which is something I don’t think you are going to forget anytime soon,” Dmitrova said, staying his men, “If she is done with her demonstration she can leave and get on with the task I have assigned her.”
Still Nyx remained in place until Cay had taken the opportunity with which she had been provided and, snugging her hat lower over her hated ears, turned and stormed from the Hellkite’s sanctuary without a word. His senses tracked her to the door, of course, and made certain that she made it into the belly of the Hydra’s Breath unmolested, but his attentions remained fully on the humans who still encircled him with their blades at the ready. When the heavy door banged shut, though, the Twilight Elf allowed his muscles to uncoil and warily lowered, but deigned yet to sheathe, his own weapons. His battle-anxious smile softened into something more akin to amusement and his eyes danced from one angry human face to the next. “We are finished here, now, yes,” he queried the Hellkite Captain.
“For now,” Dmitrova nodded faintly, drawing more than one disapproving grunt from his men as he settled his bulk back into his chair and reached for his wine bottle…
Nyx also nodded. A shrug and roll of the elf’s shoulders drew his penumbral cloak forward again, the folds of the fabric concealing the hooked blades of the kukri and the alabaster hands that wielded them, as he turned his eyes fully on Vadim and offered, once more, the faintly mocking bow with which he always liked to leave the man. “By your leave, then,” he hissed through a wicked grin, backing a few steps toward the door, “Vadim Dmitrova.” When he felt it was safe to do so, Nyx sheathed one of the kukri, turned, and reached the now empty hand for the door-latch.
“Shyndyn,” Vadim’s voice called as the door swung open…
Nyx didn’t look back but did pause for an instant and acknowledged the man; “Captain?”
“Should you ever challenge me again as you just have,” Dmitrova intoned over the sound of his wine being poured, “regardless of circumstance, I will have your ears on a chain and your head on a plate.”
“Of course,” Nyx smiled, hiding the expression by drawing his cowl over his head before he stepped into the corridor, “Quel marth…”
The witch had had plenty of time to find her way to the streets of Drasnia before the tapestry covering Dmitrova’s door had fallen back into place behind Nyx but, despite her lead, it wasn’t difficult for him to dog her steps and, before she reached the alleyway which would guide her back towards the wharf where she made her home, catch up to the still fuming half-breed. “Mani naa lle umien,” he growled when he fell into step beside the stomping half-breed, “For all of your grand designs and plans, Cayrimsa Etellenya, foolishness the like of which you have just demonstrated will cut them short by your own hand!”
Posted on 2009-11-15 at 13:19:56.
Edited on 2016-03-18 at 12:48:28 by Eol Fefalas
Free of the tiny hidden room downstairs Cay tried to breathe again. A deep breath brought in stale beer, sweat, brine and cheap perfume though, and she coughed. Stepping out into the main room of the tavern she tried breathing through her mouth and found that the smells were so strong she could taste them on her tongue. The offended member stuck out from her disgusted face as she pushed through the crowd.
“Hey! Watch yer feet!” A patron now sloshed with his own beer scowled out at her.
Bumped into the lap of a customer a waitress calls out to the woman in the floppy hat, “Careful!” The customer flashes a checkered grin and wraps his arms around the waitress.
“Well, well… what luck is dis!? Such a prudy little thing on me lap!”
“Oh! Get those hands outta me skirts before I have ye bounced!” The little waitress squirms in the customer’s arms trying to free herself.
“What’s her problem?” The bearded chin of a female dwarf points over toward Cay storming toward the door.
With a laugh her husband’s short sturdy frame leans in close and explains “Her face to start with… an’ her smell to finish with!”
“Come on baby… if ye’s gonna bump inte me like dat… at least gimme a bit a feel ehhh?”
The tongue slipped back into Cay’s mouth long enough to hiss at the man who groped at her skirt a moment, the rest of the voices and the laughter she left behind.
Let them say what they will. I’ll show them, I’ll show them all just as I showed Yuri back there. I will…
Except you didn’t show them anything except that you can loose your temper…
Tightly she clenched her hand. The bandage dug into the gaping mouth that ran across her palm, blood began to seep out again staining the off yellow bandage a dark red. Pain blossomed in her mind and she gritted her teeth to keep from crying out. It gave her something to focus on, the flowers of pain that began to dot her vision and cloud her mind were so much prettier than anything she left behind her in that tavern.
In the street it was easier for people to avoid her path and they did, giving her a wide berth. She barely noticed it though. Her whole world was focused on clenching and unclenching her hand, each time she did it it became harder to do it again. Small thin fingers twitched with the effort and dripped with blood.
Even the approach of her pointy eared nemesis went unnoticed until his voice shattered the blanket of pain she hid under.
“Mani naa lle umien. For all of your grand designs and plans, Cayrimsa Etellenya, foolishness the like of which you have just demonstrated will cut them short by your own hand!”
“Lle uumaya tyavaya mir au’!” Her wrath came out in a spew of elven words at him as she stopped and glared into his eyes. Her fist dripped blood to the soil at her feet as she opened her mouth to vomit more at him but only got half way through the first word before deciding to continue in common.
“Mire- Have I asked you for your opinion!? My plans, my life… are my business. I do not need some adanedhel hwandi telling me how to act! And I certainly do not need your protection! I can handle myself just fine. And if I cannot, I would rather die than take assistance from an Edhel, especially a Mith’ganni… You try something as foolish as touching me again, hwandi, and I swear it will be you I turn my spells on. Are we clear on that?
“I don’t want to do this job with you. I work alone do you hear me? Is any of this getting into those pointy ears of yours and making sense in the brain that is rotting between them? I know elves have difficulties putting together complex thoughts… But if we could just get this job done with I would appreciate it. Find the girl… make some observations and then I can be rid of your putrid hwandi smell…”
Color rises in her cheeks while she shrieks this at him. The fact that a human couple passing by the alleyway pause looking to the skirmish going on in the shadows does not reach her attention.
Posted on 2009-11-16 at 17:17:58.
Edited on 2016-03-18 at 12:50:32 by Eol Fefalas
“…I would rather die than take assistance from an Edhel, especially a Mith’ganni… You try something as foolish as touching me again hwandi and I swear it will be you I turn my spells on. Are we clear on that?”
I don’t want to do this job with you. I work alone do you hear me? Is any of this getting into those pointy ears of yours and making sense in the brain that is rotting between them?...”
Nyx, of course, hadn’t expected a warm reception to his chastisement of Cay’s rash actions at the Hydra’s Breath nor, in the brief moments that had passed as he caught up to her, did he expect that she would in any fashion let the rebuke go unanswered. So it was that he stood unflinching, smiling that condescending smile of his, in the gale of her rage. Her insults and the hatred that drove them didn’t affect him as she might have hoped they would… he had been called far worse by far better than this… but the duration of her tirade had started to erode away whatever patience he had remaining where she was concerned. He sighed, the smile waning on his lips, and his eyes narrowed a bit as they risked a quick glance away from her and towards the alley where a pair of breeders had paused to gawk in the direction of the screeching diatribe… The sigh formed itself into scarcely whispered syllables while, under the folds of his cloak, Nyx’s alabaster fingers flicked out the sigils that summoned an obscuring fog between this end of the alley and that.
“I know elves have difficulties putting together complex thoughts,” the witch’s diatribe continued, her cheeks flaming with angry color, “But if we could just get this job done with I would appreciate it. Find the girl… make some observations and then I can be rid of your putrid hwandi smell…”
Whatever words Cay might have planned to speak next were stifled into choking gibberish as one of the mith’ganni’s hands lashed out and caught her around the neck. Fingers pressed brutally against the artery that carried blood to the brain on one side of the neck, thumb exerting the same force on the opposing vein that carried the blood out, and the span between thumb and forefinger pressed savagely upward and into her throat, binding the voice box so that air could neither enter nor exit her lungs. Nyx’s grin was as savage as his grip when Cay’s eyes went wide in shock and grew all the more so when, as he had anticipated might happen, she raised her hands in either a futile attempt to break his grip or, more likely, work one of her spells…
“I think not, slitch,” he snarled, catching up both of her wrists in his free hand and clamping down on them as painfully as the other had her throat. As he wrenched her own hands up closer to her own face, Nyx spun the witch away from the wall and deftly slid a foot behind hers. He dragged that foot back sharply, sweeping Cay’s from beneath her in mid-spin, and rode her to the ground. His weight was centered squarely on her chest when he landed atop her; her arms bent and pinned tightly to her from breast to jawline, clamped firmly there by the squeezing of his legs, and in no position to manage the somatic components of even the most trifling of spells; the pressure on her larynx assured that no eldritch incantations could be uttered. “I’ve severed the threads of mages before you, Cay,” he said ominously, narrowed yellow eyes glaring deep into the muddy brown pools of the half-elf’s, “so do not doubt that I can and will cut yours loose should you push me any farther…”
She squirmed beneath him, trying to wriggle free, and he answered by driving his heels painfully into her sides. The hand that had previously captured her arms, now freed of it’s burden since those appendages were presently rendered useless under his weight, reached back and produced a long, blackened dagger from its sheath and moved to place the point of it at the corner of her eye, “Be still,” he demanded even as the threat of the blade had already stopped her head from trying to shake side to side, “If your lips so much as move, your fingers so much as twitch, before I have finished, I’ll be more than happy to end you here and now, yes?
I, too, prefer to work alone, you see,” he leered, shifting just a bit to move his face that much closer to hers, “The difference between you and I, peredhil, is that when I am saddled with the burden of a partnership, I prefer to find other ways out of the situation as opposed to inviting my own death. Or, as I have demonstrated with you on one occasion, already, my precious little cousin, I simply accept it as a burden of the contract and think nothing more of it, personal grievances or animosities aside, hm?
You on the other hand, arwenamin, seem to be keen on undermining anything that may be placed within your reach for no other reason than to sate your own self-loathing and unreasoning hatred towards the points of ears which you have long since carved away from your fetid little head. I tolerated your nonsense during the business with Gracchus because you proved useful… in fact, you more than impressed me with your competence… but, if I can expect naught but the same from you this time, any use you may have been will be bled from you here in this alley and you’ll not have to worry about the next time Dmitrova wishes to pair you with that vile hwandi, Nyx Shyndyn… We are clear on that, yes?”
Having said that much, the assassin considered releasing her and his weight shifted a fraction as the thought crossed his mind. However, as he made to do just that, he decided that there was another matter that would be best addressed while the Witch of the Wharf was so incapacitated and so, resettled his weight, leaned even closer in to her and, smiling knowingly, whispered to her… “And, to your professed hatred of all elven blood including your own, dearest Cayrimsa; it would seem to me that, if you truly hated that part of yourself more than the round-eared side that you pretend dominates you, you’d not be so quick to converse in our tongue nor practice the arts that our people – not your paching round-eared short-lives – brought forth onto this hells-begotten world, would you?
There is more the elf to you than the round-ear, Cayrimsa,” he hissed, now starting to draw back from the mutilated ear into which he had been murmuring, “and, if I may say so… or even if I may not, considering the position you are in… the power you have now could truly be beyond containing should you choose to embrace it rather than continually try to purge it from your withered heart…” He paused again as he caught sight of her lips, now starting to turn blue for the want of air, and on a whim, pressed his own to them, kissing her long and hard, before he finally released her.
Before Cay could get to her feet and suck in a long overdue draught of Drasnia’s air, Nyx had disappeared into the obfuscating mist he had created only moments ago. “Something for you to think on until next we meet, yes,” his voice called from somewhere within that dissipating veil, “It shan’t be long, I promise…”
Posted on 2009-11-16 at 20:57:46.
Edited on 2016-03-18 at 12:53:31 by Eol Fefalas
As soon as the Mith’ganni got off of her she gulped down the fetid air of the alley and let her hands seek her throat. For the moment she worked on filling her lungs and getting the blood flowing back to her brain. On her second full breath she sat up and searched for Nyx, a spell already on the tip of the tongue he had so recently violated.
There was nothing around her but dense mist, though. Cursing in her head she fell backwards into the mud again and laid there for a moment gasping as tears streamed down her cheeks and taking advantage of the privacy the mist provided. As she came further into full consciousness she slammed her fist against the ground once then fell still for once.
She had expected some reaction from him. That grin he gave her was irritating but certainly expected. This is why she had continued, she had pushed him further until he reacted. That the reaction had left her completely incapacitated, something she had not felt often in her life, had not been expected. His speech ran through her head once again: he had insulted her, complemented her, analyzed her and then finally… finally kissed her.
Sitting up quickly she spit on the ground and pushed up onto her feet.
KISSED ME… that adanedhel shoved his tongue into my mouth! I can still taste him…
Continuing to spit she started back home, moaning in a gravelly voice as she stretched out her arms, flexing them as if she were trying to regain control of them again. The loft she called home was only three more blocks from this alley and she stalked toward it. Careful now to keep her eyes on the shadows around her. The Twilight Assassin could be hiding in any of them, she had let her guard down once around him, she vowed that it would not happen again.
‘Vergel Sea Port’ was painted onto a three story wooden building. It was graying with age, falling on one end toward the ground, and had no eyes, only a handful of entrances that seemed to eat anything that dared enter, the smell of fish hung on it like a dank cloak. A narrow staircase hugged the back of the building. The stairs groaned in protest as she mounted them and made her way to the top story.
The top story was no more than a stretch of attic. The floor, walls and ceiling bare wooden planks that held no beauty but many holes. The door had long been missing and a flap of heavy canvas covered it. As Cay pushed it aside bells along the bottom of it jingled hollowly. The few people who have had the misfortune of seeing the inside of her lair have found it surprising to say the least. The furniture itself is nothing unexpected. A pallet hiding under a tangle of worn blankets in one corner, a rough table and chair at its foot. A bookshelf made of wooden planks bolted to the wall takes over one wall. Worn books and strange jars cover the shelves.
Most of her unfortunate guests, however, have taken in these details later. The first thing that generally catches the eye is the tapestry that hangs over the pallet. It is easily a five foot square. Unlike the rest of the room it is perfectly clean and obviously well cared for. A twisted red tree stands stretching out bare limbs against a grey landscape. Lines suggesting the bark on the tree rise along its length. The right side of the tree is lined in black and seems to rise higher than the left side which is lined in white. Around the edge of the tapestry leafless thorns make a complex design and in the corner they collide to give birth to a small white rose, the maker of the weaver. It is of excellent quality despite its unorthodox subject.
In the final corner of the room a loom stands. Piles of yarn under it and a few feet of another tapestry pulled out on its wrack already. Above it a hole has been cut into the ceiling, a heavy canvas flap attached to it that with the pull of a rope can cover the hole when it is raining or uncover it to allow sunlight in. Today it is open.
Within her own sanctum she finally lets her guard down.
“eh ahm noeght moehr ehlven…” She grumbles and brings her hand to her throat as she hears the scratch in her own voice. The swollen purple lines of Nyx’s fingers were still imprinted on her skin there. With a wince she grasps a bottle off the bookshelf and takes a long swig of it. The liquid burns across her mouth and into her throat before she coughs and spews it across the floor, and yet it still does not get the taste of him out of her mouth, and there is still the feel of him, the smell of him…
The desire to cleanse herself of him overwhelms her and soon she is stripping her clothing off her body. Peeling away the soiled layers and tossing them into a pile. Bottles are opened and she settles herself on the floor before beginning the purification. Beginning at her feet and working up her body inch by inch she scours the pale flesh of her body with a rough sponge soaked in some caustic liquid.
The process was what she had hoped it would be: Painful. Fumes pulled tears from her eyes. The mouth on her palm lapped up the scouring agent between screams. The very flesh covering her body becoming angry and flushed with every stroke of the sponge against it.
He knows nothing about me. Nor apparently of his own kind. Elves are nothing but weak creatures who grovel before the humans. Who live in squalor and rely on pitiful practices to continue their fetid existence. His own kind has barely even succeeded at that!
Humans have succeeded in this world. It is they who have built cities and waged wars that have crippled everything around them. They are brutal and yet powerful.
-And yet he brought you not only to your knees but to your back in some vile alley-
A mistake, and one he’ll regret.
-He threatened your life… and then kissed you-
Another mistake. I would have fought had I the chance, and he would have screamed. At least I did not give him the satisfaction of my screams. For that I can be proud.
-Are you sure you would have fought him?-
Yes! With all I have. I have never brought myself to such degradation as being with an adanedhel, and I never will…
-And yet it bothers you greatly, even though it was taken and not offered-
Of course it bothers me! I can still feel him, I can still taste him!
-And how does it make you feel?-
Filthy! I feel soiled to my very soul, what is left of it. As if oil clung to my heart!
-And warm… something burns over him still-
The sponge began to turn pink at her shoulder as she scrubbed mercilessly. When she realized the damage she was inflicting the sponge is thrown across the room.
A slow snarl crept over her face, but slowly it turned into a smile as she ran her tongue over her teeth and found that the taste of him was finally fading. Her skin still burned, but now it burned with the pain she had caused compared to the pain, or other feelings, that he might have caused. The filtered light of the attic swirled around her for a moment. The pink of her skin and the swollen fingers across her neck dimmed in this light and anyone watching would find themselves almost admiring the feminine figure that stood there. Without the hat her brown hair fell in strands down the middle of her back. Her curves were subtle petite lines that followed the graces not of the great planets but of the more gentle stars. It was a body most women would be proud of and would not hide under layers of oversized clothing. Eyes of muddy brown shifted over to the tapestry on the wall, wandering over the blood stained tree that grew in perfect duality there. From this the body seemed to gather strength and relaxed finally. Deep breathes were pulled through the battered larynx into lungs that filled only to accentuate those delicate curves. Then the curves moved as they stretched, the stars spreading against a pale background to realign themselves in a constellation of arcane power.
His voice came to her again, “Something for you to think on until next we meet, yes…It shan’t be long, I promise…”
“I’ll be waiting…” The voice that came from the constellation was rough still but calmer now.
Remaining in her pure celestial form she moves about the room. Lighting her lantern and placing her favored medallion upon its cap to warm. The loom is inspected and tightened. The stars then shift to the bed and envelop themselves in the blankets there, covering the form once again. She leans against the wall, the tree seeming to grow out of her shoulders as she waits.
Posted on 2009-11-17 at 04:45:18.
Edited on 2018-11-19 at 13:16:12 by Eol Fefalas
His thoughts were trying to slip away from Cayrimsa whom, judging by the sounds emanating from behind him, was still trying to regain her breath and soothe the mild injuries he’d just inflicted upon her… And trying to spit the taste of me from her mouth, I’d wager, he smirked, unable to resist a glance back as his slender fingers, at the same moment, lifted unbidden to touch his own pale lips…Pach! He scowled and crossly willed his hand away when he realized that the action, unintended as it was, showed some indication that he had enjoyed the angry kiss…
No, he told himself, willing away the thought as harshly as he had bid his own fingers to fly from his lips, it was no more than the torture it was intended to be! Her tirade had begun with her warning him, no, ordering him not to touch her again and, as her haranguing continued and he wearied of it, it had been decided that part of her punishment would to be made aware that he could and would touch her whenever and however the fancy might have struck him…
Did the throttling and incapacitating not demonstrate that fact clearly enough, then?
It did, Nyx snorted, tearing his gaze from the alleyway behind and returning it to the looming mouth of the passage where a pair of gauzy edged silhouettes – the human couple – still stood trying to peer into the dark beyond the whirling tendrils of fog that had so suddenly appeared. The mith’ganni withdrew deep into his cowl before he allowed the mists of the alley way to spit him back onto the nighted Drasnian street.
Why the kiss, then, he continued arguing with himself as he stepped from the mist directly in front of the breeder pair.
Additional proof of the very point, Nyx rationalized, pausing for an instant to enjoy the progression of expressions on the human faces…
Both the male’s and the female’s eyes initially went wide and both mouths fell agape, registering their surprise at the elf’s unexpected emergence. The female’s eyes were quick to register a mix of fear and disgust, as she dared to peer into the depths of the cowl and discovered the face that glared back was that of a moon-eyed mith’ganni; her blue eyes went even wider but her mouth snapped shut as if she feared that the lesser creature might snatch the tongue from it. The male, on the other hand, narrowed his eyes – even though the same repulsion and loathing lit the green orbs set in those fleshy sockets – and tightened his jaw as he scowled at the foreign creature before him. “What have you done, you filthy point-ear,” the man demanded, drawing himself up in a pompous display of bravado and self-perceived supremacy as his wife’s hand nervously sought out the embrace of his, “You’ve robbed, raped, and murdered that poor woman there in the alley, haven’t you?!”
An insidious chuckle, the sound akin to a harsh whisper uttered through a mouthful of grave-dirt, issued from the black depths of the cowl. “Robbed?” Nyx, once more turned an eye to the alleyway behind him, then, turned back and said; “Perhaps of her dignity, yes… Raped and murdered?” The head hidden within the cowl shook a bit and the grave dirt chuckle sounded again. “Sorry to disappoint but no,” the mith’ganni answered, his glinting eyes slithering away from the man to lasciviously regard the plumply curving figure of his woman, “but if such things fascinate, milord, I’m sure I can arrange a private showing for you, yes?” A hand shifted beneath the cloak and the sound of a blade hissing from its scabbard was distinct in the cooling night air. “Perhaps milord fancies having himself incapacitated and his eyelids cut away so that he’ll be certain not to miss the smallest detail as I skin his sow of a wife and then defile her twitching corpse?”
The woman’s eyes went as wide as they could at the same time her skin drained to a hue nearly as wan as the elf’s, then fluttered closed as what was supposed to be a horrified scream died as a pitiful squeak in her throat as she fainted away into her husband’s arms. The man’s expression, too, lapsed back to its not-long-passed state of wide-eyed horror and revulsion as his wife’s form crumpled heavily into his arms. To his credit, though, the man didn’t faint as his wife had and, in opposition to the woman’s pallor, his own features flushed a hue of angry scarlet. “Legionnaire,” the man bellowed, shuffling away with the woman’s unconscious form in tow, “Legionnaire!!! Murder!!! Murder!!! I am assailed by an elf!!!”
“You flatter yourself, human.” Laughing as if at the funniest joke he’d ever heard, Nyx turned away and disappeared into Drasnia’s shadows, leaving the non-victims behind without another thought. His thoughts didn’t take much longer to return to the job and, as partnering with the Wharf Witch was a condition of that contract, neither did it take any time for him to return to his analysis of what had transpired in that alley…
How could you even consider touching the slitch with the stench of fish oozing from her as it does, the inner-voice queried once the squalling of the human faded behind him and the joke he had played lost its humor, let alone kiss her?
It needed to be done, he growled in response, trying to chase the pestering questions from his mind and shift his thoughts to the job at hand, as I have already said! Despite his justification, though, he couldn’t keep his tongue from dancing over his lips and sampling the taste of Cay that still lingered there… it was a surprisingly sweet flavor, he decided, and, as he thought on it more, he had to admit that, in the midst of that sudden kiss, he hadn’t even noticed the smell of rotting fish guts that usually accompanied the witch…. Enough! There is work to be considered!
“Kharinya Bolstoii,” Nyx whispered aloud, hoping that the sound would set him free of the inconsequential thoughts that nagged him as he ghosted through the twisting thoroughfares of the city. “Bolstoii…” The name rang vaguely familiar as he prowled through the now darkened stretch of the North Bank bazaar and his yellow eyes slid in the direction of the distant flickering lights that marked a long span of manses on the other side of the Reyal. “Styopa Bolstoii,” he nodded, his gaze fixed on that glittering swath of noble-built excess… the name sounded familiar because, not long after Nyx had started taking contracts in Drasnia, Styopa Bolstoii had been on of the first to commission his services… This Kharinya may well be mate or progeny, then, the assassin deduced for he was aware of no other families in the Ellisian port city who bore that moniker.
Styopa Bolstoii, by most accounts that had ever reached Nyx’s ears – one of those from the man himself – had started his climb to fortune and power as a caravan guard for a prominent (and, now, long dead) merchant named Turchin who had held great economic and political sway in Drasnia and across the Ellisian Empire a generation ago. Bolstoii was quick to ascend from simple sell-sword guardsman to wagon-master in his repeated trips from one side of the continent to the other in Turchin’s employ and, as a wagon-master, Bolstoii’s reputation surged at twice the pace. Turchin, being a wise and shrewd sort, didn’t fail to notice or reward the industrious Styopa and, when competitors began to try and woo Bolstoii away with extravagant offers, Turchin was not long in offering the wagon-master a partnership in his company.
Most in Drasnia seemed not to notice that Turchin, himself, was not long for the world after that partnership had been struck, and, if they had, they seemed not to care that it was Turchin’s untimely demise that had vaulted Bolstoii to the lofty position he now held in society and among the traders’ guilds across the lands. Neither did any seem to imagine that Turchin’s sudden passing had been anything other than normal… there had been no investigation beyond the review and taxing of the Merchant lord’s estate (most of which had been ceded to Bolstoii) and not even the scantest whispering in the darkest corners of the city that the death had been contracted. Having gained employ form the man, himself, though, Nyx was almost certain that Bolstoii’s elevation from lowly caravan guard to Master Merchant and Drasnian Nobility in such a short while was less hard-work and good-fortune and more coldly-calculated and well-planned conspiracy…
Yes, Nyx smiled faintly, finding himself on Three Gates Bridge, now, Styopa Bolstoii sits like a bloated spider in the center of the intricate web of Drasnia’s information networks, business dealings, and political maneuverings, does he not? Much like Dmitrova imagines he does himself… should this Kharinya be into dealings that would shine a sour light on Bolstoii’s house, the dear Captain would likely profit well from the knowing, now, wouldn’t he?
The dancing light of the torches lining the bridge glittered in Nyx’s pale-yellow eyes as they slid from perusal of the distant noble’s mansions and towards the nearer sprawl of Drasnia’s north side wherein nested Dmitrova’s enclave. Two spiders at war over the same web, he grinned, and the younger preparing to move on the elder… interesting…
His eyes tracked skyward then, and sought out the constellation known as Threadcutter’s Axe. The stars were there, of course, but, tonight, their red glow was dimmed and the gossamer wisps of night clouds served to mute them further. The mith’ganni’s searching gaze, then, moved from the star-scribed sigil of Prien, descending a bit towards the horizon, and found the Eyes of Uelaereene… it very nearly surprised him when, directly below that cluster of stars, he found the wharf where the Reyal met the sea; Uelaereene silvery-white left eye winked above a tumbledown structure that, even from his vantage point on the bridge, Nyx knew to be the once offices of Vergel Sea Port and the now residence of a certain Cayrimsa Etellenya.
The stars called to be watched by him and, for whatever reason, they called him to watch this night from the very roof under which Cay made her home. A wicked smile curled his lips as he reached the southern side of the Three Gates Bridge and his feet turned him west towards the wharf…
Posted on 2009-11-17 at 20:41:30.
Edited on 2018-11-19 at 13:18:11 by Eol Fefalas
He had approached the place with due caution. To physically assault a sorceress – or any magic-wielder, for that matter – and leave her alive, let alone uninjured enough to work her spells at a later time, was a fool’s gamble. You may escape unscathed in the moment but, the odds always held, you would chance into that self same magic user in a time to come and Prien’s Axe be swift if she saw you first.
Why, then, did you let her live? posed the recently-irritating inner voice as Nyx, of his own volition and not an hour after having taken that fool’s gamble, slinked through the malodorous murk of the wharf towards the ramshackle shop house where Cayrimsa lived.
She would be of no use to me dead, he answered, his eyes warily sweeping the spray-eaten quay before committing himself to scrabbling up the side of the building, and killing her was not the point.
Use to you? The point?! The voice laughed at him as Nyx pulled himself onto the roof of Vergal’s Sea port and stole, whisper quiet, across the faltering shingles to the edge of a hole, neatly cut likely by the witch herself, that opened into the apartment that Cay kept here. Do you truly think that she’ll consider your use should you find her here, now? The self-goading continued as, oh-so-carefully, Nyx lowered himself and swept the darkened room beyond the portal. Do you think she’ll have considered your point at any greater length now than she considered it when you thrashed her in that alleyway… when your tongue danced past her lips?
“Likely not,” the assassin whispered into the air, having confirmed that Cay had not yet returned to her lair, “if I know Cay as I imagine I do.”
And, yet, here you are, the voice, beginning to sound less and less like his own, groaned, delivering yourself to the Executioner by your own hand. And for what? To deliver a snippet of meaningless information that she may find important to your task for Dmitrova?
You should have killed her…
“Probably,” Nyx finally agreed, slithering away from Cay’s self-made skylight. His keen-eyed gaze swept the piers, streets, and alleys below before he slid cautiously into the deeper shadows lain across the roof by a crumbling chimney.
And you refrained because?
“It was not in the stars,” Nyx hissed at the voice, wrapping himself in his cloak against the salt-laden wind that blew in from the harbor.
Ah, yes, the voice cooed, the stars! You Twilighters and your stars… they guide your lives and your souls, don’t they? Let us gaze upon those stars, then, Shyndyn, and in them find the truth that you refuse to tell even yourself… You can, of course, find the axe?
Stargazing wasn’t a difficult thing to talk a mith’ganni into – even one like Nyx who had long ago left the plains and his people behind him – as a people, they seemed to rely on it, and those of them who had ever been denied a view of the open sky at night, were known to have gone mad for want of them before they finally died. The elf’s eyes drifted towards the heavens and easily located the dim, red pinpricks in night’s veil. “The Threadcutter’s Axe,” he nodded.
Yes… your guide for all this time. And, now, Uelaereene’s Eyes?
Nyx’s gaze shifted, not quite as far as it had to when picking out these stars from the Three Gates, and found them, much brighter, and just below and southward of Prien’s dim cluster. “She who finds the way,” Nyx’s lips mouthed the words more than let a breath drive them into the air…
Indeed… or used to, at any rate, the voice seemed to sigh.
And there, it continued as it guided the elf’s vision towards the far eastern sky, Is that not your precious Moon Horse?
“Teu'kelytha!” The words did escape his lips and shoot into the night, this time, and in somewhat more than even a surprised whisper. The shock at seeing that particular formation of stars, shining so brightly and in such proximity to the other two, very nearly hauled him to his feet and sent him flying from the roof.
The inner voice that was not his laughed loudly, calling him down and taunting him all at once; Yes! You have just now noticed, eh? Not in the stars, says Shyndyn. Something in the stars that the Shyndyn missed, says I.
When was the last time, mith’ganni, that you witnessed the Moon Horse galloping proudly ‘neath my axe towards Uelaereene mismatched Eyes?
Nyx blinked in disbelief at the sky that now hung over the ocean, his gaze jumping from one constellation to the next for a long while before he answered in a shuddering whisper; “Another lifetime ago.” His mind chased back through the years; the sky as he saw it now bidding him to recall when last Teu’kelytha, The Threadcutter’s Axe, and The Eyes of Uelaereene had aligned just this way… it had been over the steppes rather than over the ocean… and there had been sweet air and grass beneath his feet, not the clinging stench and cobbled filth of the cities of men…
The humans had found Nyx’s clan on the steppes that day, when he and two others had been out hunting. Killed those that resisted or were too young or old to be of any value and herded the rest into cramped wagons to be taken into the cities of the Empire where they were bound to be sold as slaves or worse. When they had returned to discover the carnage and did not find the shaman Jolbane amongst the murdered, Talo and Calan had looked to Nyx for guidance… He was to wed Jolbane’s daughter come the Festival of Rebirth, after all, and, in the absence of the shaman or any others, that made him responsible for the clan.
He had looked to the skies then, and, through the smoke that rose from the trampled and smoldering ruins of their yurts, spied Teu’kelytha galloping westward towards the Eyes of Uelaereene where they winked above the Ellisian Coast. Above and between the constellations most revered by his clan was another formed by dimly flickering red stars – the Threadcutter’s Axe – and it was in his reading of these heavenly portents that his decision was made. As suggested by the Moon Horse and She-who-finds-the-way, he ordered Talo and Calan west in pursuit of the slave caravan whose wagons were certainly burdened with his kinsmen – he did so with a heavy heart as he knew that Lyssa was surely in one of those slave-carts and he desperately wished to reach her himself before it was too late… But the presence of the Threadcutter’s Axe and the fact that Jolbane – a wielder of magic powerful enough that the humans wouldn’t purposefully have left alive – was missing, demanded that he stay behind, tend to the dead, and find the shaman.
The stars of the axe had grown brighter and brighter as the funeral pyre ushered the spirits of his clansmen into the sky, and brighter still when, after the last body had been placed on the bier, they revealed Jolbane’s tracks in the grass, running for the safety of the rocky hill, not too far from the camp, that stabbed up through the prairie not far from the now ruined camp. The tracks led to a tiny cave near the top of that hill wherein he discovered Jolbane, weeping and trembling, huddled against what appeared to once have been an altar.
“What happened,” was the only thing Nyx could think to ask of the pathetic figure, then.
“I… I don’t know,” the shaman sobbed, refusing to look up at him, “I saw the round-ears coming and… and… I ran…”
“What?!? You ran at the very sight of them?!?”
“Yes,” Jolbane sniffed burying his head in the rough fabric of his coat, “before any of the others even saw them, I ran…”
“Ran,” Nyx repeated flatly, “not warned… not stood and fought… not even cast so much as a single spell… ran?!”
“Why,” Nyx demanded, swallowing the fire that threatened to burst from his chest and surely lit his eyes. A hissing voice, too, had began to whisper in his head, but the singing of the blood in his ears muffled whatever it was saying…
“I am the Shaman,” came the whining but still somehow indignant reply, “if I didn’t survive, the clan would be lost… I had to… escape…”
“The clan is lost,” Nyx snapped through grinding teeth, “more lost, perhaps, than it might have been had you stayed… what of your magic, Jolbane?... What of your power?...”
Nyx shook, his yellow eyes tearing angrily away from the sniveling form of the shaman he had once thought to be brave and powerful and finding in the darkness beyond a lichen and slime laden skull hewn into the walls of the cave... “What of your daughter,” he whispered, unable to look at Jolbane, now, and manage any respect, “my betrothed… What of Lyssa?”
Kill him… failure… betrayer…
“I… I… do not know, Nyx,” the shaman wept, at last uncurling from where he cowered in the gloom and weakly reaching out a hand to the mith’ganni warrior, “I could not allow myself to look back or to even think of what might happen… I am the shaman… I had to survive so that our clan would…”
“The clan ended before your death, old one,” Nyx snarled. He watched, seemingly from outside of himself, as his blade lashed out and lopped off the hand that reached for him… smiled when Jolbane squalled in shock and agony… and laughed as he descended upon the wizard and carved him to bloody ribbons…When he emerged from the cave, the Threadcutter’s Axe veritably blazed the sky with it’s brightness in his eyes, its light as red as the blood that soaked him to the skin.
He had caught up with Talo and Calan a short time later as they spied upon a tiny wagon train that had stopped to rest their beasts and mend a broken wheel-spoke… He made no answer when they asked if he had found the shaman… and killed them both when they explained they hadn’t attacked this stalled caravan because it wasn’t one of those that had belonged to the slavers… killed the last men of his clan and, without any further thought or caution, strode into the fabric merchant’s roadside camp and slaughtered every round-ear he found… When he was done there, he turned his eyes west again and his feet followed…Searched for Lyssa and, when she was not found, slaughtered in every human settlement he came upon… by the time he reached Drasnia, Nyx Shyndyn had all but forgotten what had brought him to Prien to begin with… Forgotten that his love and his loss of Lyssa - Lyssa of the amber eyes and russet hair – had been the impetus for his coming here…
The creaking of rotting stairs under the weight of angry footsteps, followed by the rustle of heavy canvass and the tinkling of cheap bells as Cayrimsa returned to her home broke Nyx from his reverie. His attention snatched from his reminiscent star-gazing and the voice in his head silenced by the surprise that he had not seen or even heard her approach the place, the mith’ganni assassin shoved those memories from another life away, extracted himself from the heavier shadows near the buildings chimney-stack, and crept once more to the makeshift skylight.
“Eh ahm noeght moehr ehlven…” the witch’s raw voice carried up through the roof-hole as Nyx moon-hued eyes peeked past the edge of it and peered into the squalid flat.
He watched her for a long moment, noting that he way she moved exuded the furious state of her mind… watched as she snatched a bottle of some sort from the heavy shelves that lined one wall of the ramshackle hovel and poured a hateful amount of whatever it contained over her lips and down her throat before apparently scowling at its ineffectualness and angrily hurling it across the room…
And the Wharf Witch rages, he smirked, Perhaps, I should have heeded my own warnings and waited this out another day or so, yes? Nyx nearly laughed at the thought but, wisely, suppressed the snickering and contended himself knowing that, had he avoided her, he certainly would have missed this oh so entertaining display… In itself worth tracking her down again so soon, he told himself, even if I don’t stay long enough to tell her…
Whatever thought it was that slinked through Nyx’s mind just then – whether he had designed to drop into her rooms or off of the roof and await another time to confront her – was forgotten, though. In the room below, Cay had abruptly stopped in her raging steps and begun to peel off her clothes...
The body beneath that rough burlap dress and stained blouse, quite honestly, wasn’t what Nyx had expected and the hair that spilled from under that battered leather hat when she removed it was far longer and not near as dark as he imagined it would have been…More elf than human, indeed, Nyx mused, unable to look away even if he had wanted to… Since their first meeting, Nyx had envisioned little more than the figure of a stick to be hiding beneath the fish-fouled sack of a dress and the hair, he had always assumed would have been greasy, sparse, and hacked shorter than her ears. To his surprise, though, behind the off-putting façade that she presented to the world with her manner of dress, the Witch of the Wharf was more than lovely. Her figure was slender, yes, but nowhere close to stickish… lean and graceful and a tribute to the elven blood that had helped to fashion it… and her hair was not the tangled, oily, smattering of black sprouts he had imagined, but long, and silken, and of a russet tone that human women could only hope to achieve through the use of dyes or henna.
He continued to watch her as she angrily scrubbed herself with a coarse sponge soaked in some acrid astringent, the fumes of which were strong enough to cause his own nose to wrinkle as they wafted past him. Nyx would deny it, should any have been foolish enough to ask on it later, but something more than simple curiosity kept him watching and stirred something more than simple fascination or physical lust deep in his core… those same stirrings kept him from dropping into the room in the midst of her bath, as well.
The opportune moment for him to have done so, in fact, would have been after she had finished scouring her skin pink, tossed aside the implements of her self torture, and, still undressed, drifted around the room, somewhat calmer, inspecting the possessions she had gathered there. Of those possessions, the one that Nyx had failed to recognize until Cay’s nude form stopped before it and tightened its ends (and the one that suddenly fascinated him more than even her collections of books and bottles) was the loom that occupied the space directly beneath the skylight. He allowed that perfect moment to lapse, too, as he could bring himself to do little more than absorb her and wonder what else the hateful half-elf sorceress hid in her little nest of secrets…
At long last, Cayrimsa – with Nyx’s watchful eyes having followed her every step – resigned herself to the simple wooden palette that passed for her bed and, wrapping herself in the course blankets that topped the thing, settled her back against the curious tapestry that hung above her bed…
“I’ll be waiting,” he heard her rough voice whisper into the darkness…
Mmm… and I have waited, perhaps, too long… Nyx thought, the surprising spell that watching her alone had cast over him apparently broken, now. Well, he decided, hooking his alabaster fingers over the rough-cut rim of the skylight and rolling himself into the emptiness of its center, neither of us shall wait any longer, then… He somersaulted through the void and landed, without a sound, in a crouch in front of the loom she had recently tuned. The characteristic half-smile was firmly affixed to his thin lips as he rose to his full height, his moonlight gaze panning the entirety of her room, lingering noticeably longer on items such as the loom and the finished tapestry behind her, before finally taking in her blanket draped form.
“Have you missed me,” he asked, pausing for an imperceptible instant when he found himself about to call her Lyssa, “Cay?”
Posted on 2009-11-18 at 20:12:04.
Edited on 2018-11-19 at 13:22:46 by Eol Fefalas
The shadows shifted opposite her position on the pallet and, without moving, her eyes flickered toward it. There was no noise, only the crouching spider on her floor that had not been there a moment before. Keeping with the silence her eyes moved to the Bedine coin, it was not yet burning red.
He came too soon… figures…
The coin stays still but she does pull a hand out of the blankets raising it up to shoulder height. Before she can twitch her fingers, however, the spider rises to its full height. Once again the mith’ganni steals her breath from her. The lithe figure is tall and illuminated by the stars above in pale light, causing those yellow eyes to gleam, he is confident even while in her domain. Breath held in her lungs she presses the last half inch back into the tapestry behind her and grinds her teeth together.
Tensely she follows his actions with her eyes alone. For now her pale fingers stay poised at her shoulder between herself and him. As his eyes wander over her and the tapestry behind her she tries vainly to press herself further against it, almost as if to protect the tapestry from his defiling yellow gaze.
What do you think he sees? What do you think he wants?
If he is watching her face then he will notice a slight irritated twitch to her lips and a slight shaking of her head, but as soon as it happens it is controlled and she is still again.
“Have you missed me,” he asked, pausing for instant, “Cay?”
With his voice she began to breathe again. The breath carried with it a whispered spell that passed between her lips like a breeze. The poised fingers also jumped into action and while she kept her eyes firmly fixed upon him her fingers guided a clay jar off the shelf and between them, hovering at his chest height. Nothing else stirred in the room.
“No…” Her voice was raspy still and she coughed softly after she says it, the purple fingers across her neck bearing down against her larynx still.
“No I did not… I would prefer it if you sat down Shyndyn. Where you are… you will regret trying to come any closer to me.” To prove this she pushes the clay jar just a bit closer to him with the finger across the room. As he goes down to the floor she has the jar follow him, staying at his chest level.
“That’s better. You caught me off guard before… it shan’t happen again. I am sure you wonder why I have not disposed of you yet. Unlike you I find killing merciful, and I do not wish to grant you that mercy. More importantly though,” she takes a deep breath through her damaged windpipes with a rattle, “more importantly, your actions were due to my mistakes. I should have better control, even when dealing with hwandi such as yourself.” Another long breath as she watches him.
“My prior warning, however, still stands.” Her eyes narrow on him and she leans forward a few inches. “Don’t you ever touch me again…” the warning coming out in a slow growl. “I will work with you, because I have been ordered to, because being a Hellkite is something I have worked toward and something I will not throw away because of some adenedehl. You may think you know me Shyndyn… but I promise you do not. Nor shall you ever. I do despise you and all of your kind. If that is clear… we should arrange a more appropriate place to meet tomorrow and begin this job.”
Her face contorts into a slight wince and she coughs a few times as her voice continues its slow healing, her eyes off him for but an instant, although the jar never waivers.
Posted on 2009-11-18 at 21:53:08.
Edited on 2018-11-19 at 13:32:15 by Eol Fefalas
A clay pot, in this case, is better than a fireball...
Nyx practically beamed when the little, clay pot full of... My intended means of death, I imagine… whatever it was flew from the shelf and then stopped before him to hover in the nothingness between them. His yellow eyes, glittering with an eerie mirth, danced from it, to the shelf from whence it came, to the graceful fingers she had raised against her bared shoulder, and finally found Cay’s eyes behind the strands of hair that had fallen over her face.
“No,” the witch rasped in reply, pausing as a cough punished her throat for the effort of speaking, “No I have not…”
He continued to grin, and arched a dubious brow as his gaze slithered upwards from her face and admired the tapestry behind her for a moment, trying to make sense of the symbolism hidden behind the obviously implied duality. “Of course not,” he winked, daring to poke the floating implement of his doom with a finger as his eyes returned to hers, once more.
“I would prefer it if you sat down, Shyndyn… Where you are,” she added, perhaps having noticed his quick glance at the chair nearby, the little clay pot lurched at him as if to emphasize the condition, “you will regret trying to come any closer to me.”
A single and faint nod was his initial reply, accompanied by a placating smile as he spread his own hands wide and, with the animated pot following, sank cross-legged to the floor. Once settled, he glanced upwards at the stars visible beyond the skylight, over his shoulder at the work in progress on the loom at his back, and finally, back to the blanket wrapped Cay.
“That’s better,” she rattled after a moment, “You caught me off guard before…”
And again just now, I would guess, he thought, resting his elbows on his knees and lacing his fingers together as he leaned forward a bit, judging from the pace of your breath and the sheen in your eyes, little cousin.
“…it shan’t happen again. I am sure you wonder why I have not disposed of you yet.”
I debated that some time ago actually… Still silent, Nyx offered what might have been a shrug and lifted his eyebrows inquisitively …but, yes, please do enlighten me.
“Unlike you I find killing merciful, and I do not wish to grant you that mercy. More importantly though,” Cay paused here, raking in as deep a breath as she could manage, “more importantly, your actions were due to my mistakes. I should have better control, even when dealing with hwandi such as yourself.”
Which was the point to begin with, he agreed, outwardly responding with only another nod and a somewhat satisfied smirk.
She gained another, rattling breath as she, too, fell silent for a moment and just stared at him from across the room.
I could soothe that, Nyx thought. For some reason, as he listened to the wind rasp in and out of her, he felt…Guilt?... Surely not…
“My prior warning, however, still stands,” Cay intoned, breaking the moment of quiet and the beginnings of what might have turned into a perplexed expression on his face, “Don’t you ever touch me again…” the warning coming out in a slow growl. “I will work with you, because I have been ordered to, because being a Hellkite is something I have worked toward and something I will not throw away because of some adenedehl. You may think you know me, Shyndyn… but I promise you do not. Nor shall you ever. I do despise you and all of your kind. If that is clear… we should arrange a more appropriate place to meet tomorrow and begin this job.”
He sat there for a long moment, his eyes regarding the Tree of Duality hanging behind her and rubbed thoughtfully at his chin, seemingly contemplating what she had just said. Finally, he blinked, nodded shortly, and returned his gaze to hers. “Your warning is duly heeded, nwalmaer,” he said quietly. His smile still keen as he rose fluidly to his feet without awaiting her permission to do so, he sketched the semblance of a bow that, if she cared to notice, was nothing like the mocking one he often presented to Dmitrova.
“Now,” he offered, still fixed to the spot on her floor where he had landed, “as to your loathing of me and my kind, if I may? There are no others of my kind, Cay… what remained of my clan I dispatched to their end with my own hands after your beloved humans had killed or enslaved the rest…” His gaze lifted skyward, studying the night sky for a second as he continued; “There may yet be other mith’ganni out there but my clan and my kind are at an end with me.”
His eyes flashed as they let go of the sky and fell back to her. “As to the job… it has already begun. I believe I know where we may best start our surveillance, which was to be the point of this visit, yes? You require your rest, though,” he said and waved a hand at the still looming pot, “Put away your crockery and I shall leave you to it…” He turned, peering up through the skylight as if determining precisely where he would latch on and pull himself back out into the night when he left. “Tell me where and when you should like to meet tomorrow and I shall await you there.” Without waiting for a reply, the elf assassin sprang upwards and, in a flutter and whirl of shadow-hued cloak, was gone through the hole in the roof.
Not gone from the roof all together, though.
Nyx had paused just at the outside of the skylight and listened to her breathing in the room below… Yes, that inner voice conceded with a sigh, She’ll need better voice if her spells are to be of any use…you may as well offer…
“I forgot to mention,” Nyx grinned as he poked his head back through the hole in the roof and regarded her upside down, “Your weaving is exquisite. You’ve really quite captured yourself in that piece over your bed…”
He almost laughed when she gawked back at him in what could only have been shock and bewilderment. He held the laughter when the surprised breath she had just inhaled brought on another wracking cough, though. Instead, Nyx invited himself back in, landing in the same spot as he had just vacated but not showing any intention of moving any farther… yet…
“Also,” he said, lifting his fingers to his own throat when she glared at him, “I can perhaps fix this… but I may have to touch you to do so…”
Posted on 2009-11-19 at 02:41:20.
Edited on 2018-11-19 at 13:34:24 by Eol Fefalas
“If that is clear… we should arrange a more appropriate place to meet tomorrow and begin this job.”
With those narrow slits she watched him, followed his eyes up to the tapestry behind her and yet again found herself pressing back against it.
Why does it bother you so that he looks at it?
Because it is mine!
“Your warning is duly heeded, nwalmaer,” he said quietly and rose to his feet. With a rattled breath she twitched her fingers and let the clay pot follow him up, every muscle in her lean frame tense and waiting for him to strike. But instead he bowed slightly to her, a flash of confusion drifts across her dark eyes and again her breath catches in her throat.
He keeps doing that to you doesn’t he?
It isn’t him… it’s my throat, it is hard to breathe, it hurts to breathe…
“Now, as to your loathing of me and my kind, if I may? There are no others of my kind, Cay… what remained of my clan I dispatched to their end with my own hands after your beloved humans had killed or enslaved the rest…” His gaze lifted skyward, studying the night sky for a second as he continued; “There may yet be other mith’ganni out there but my clan and my kind are at an end with me.”
The soft light of the night fell across his features again and she noted how his eyes almost glowed, how the shadows caught the line of his jaw.
He belongs in that light… A twitch to her lips again as she focused on his words.
He is alone… like you Cayrimsa. Ettelen.
No not like me. He once belonged and it is his fault he does not anymore, and he –does- still belong in that light. I belong nowhere, and it has always been thus.
His eyes flashed as they let go of the sky and fell back to her as she tried to sit up a bit taller. “As to the job… it has already begun. I believe I know where we may best start our surveillance, which was to be the point of this visit, yes? You require your rest, though,” he said and waved a hand at the still looming pot, “Put away your crockery and I shall leave you to it…” He turned, peering up through the skylight as if determining precisely where he would latch on and pull himself back out into the night when he left. “Tell me where and when you should like to meet tomorrow and I shall await you there.” Without waiting for a reply, the elf assassin sprang upwards and, in a flutter and whirl of shadow-hued cloak, was gone through the hole in the roof.
She did not put the pot back when he asked but instead pulled it back a few inches from him and listened to him as he finally got them back to business. As he slipped up into the black hole she had carved into the roof to allow natural light to fall upon her weaving she said as loudly as she could manage at the moment.
“Dawn, Grey Arm Dock…”
The last flutter of his cloak disappeared from sight leaving nothing but the blue velvet of the night sky speckled with stars for her to watch. After a few seconds of this she took a long deep breath and closed her eyes letting the clay pot simply drift down toward the floor where it landed with a heavy thud.
He should have killed me earlier… I don’t understand… I don’t understand any of it. I don’t want to understand… She sighed with a cough and had just started to let her head drop to her chest when his voice back in her room made her jump.
“I forgot to mention,” Nyx grinned as he poked his head back through the hole in the roof and regarded her upside down, “Your weaving is exquisite. You’ve really quite captured yourself in that piece over your bed…”
Eyes wide open now she gasped, coughed and sprung into a reaction that was fiercely defensive and nearly instinctual. She was on her knees pressing her body and her fingers against the finely woven fibers of the tapestry, knowing where the branches of the blood red tree stretched by feel she tried to cover them as much as she could. A pit formed in her stomach as she watched his face and knew that her own must be showing her own shock and surprise. Coughing still she froze in that position and worked to bring her wrath into her features instead of her surprise.
He held the laughter when the surprised breath she had just inhaled brought on another wracking cough, though. Instead, Nyx invited himself back in, landing in the same spot as he had just vacated but not showing any intention of moving any farther… yet…
“Also,” he said, lifting his fingers to his own throat when she glared at him, “I can perhaps fix this… but I may have to touch you to do so…”
Very slowly she eased herself back down onto the pallet, catching one of the blankets as it began to slide off her bare shoulder and yanking it back into place. Her fingers graced over his purple marks as she did and for half a second her eyes close only to flutter back open and fix on him.
“You did do this… it seems only right that you fix it.” A hesitation ran under her words.
“I do not trust you mith’ganni…” she began to explain even as she wrapped an arm tighter around her middle, pulling the blanket more securely around her as she did. “I…” surprisingly enough her color deepened suddenly to a dusty rose, a blush? “I am unarmed…” Eyes flit over to the pile of clothing that still carry his scent near the door then back at him.
Slowly she readjusted herself, coming forward a few inches on the pallet, finally breaking the contact between her body and the tapestry. Keeping her eyes on him the hand not wrapped around her middle snakes out of the blanket and stretches toward him palm up the angry wound mouth gaping at him.
“Your dagger.” Even with the rasp to her voice it comes out not as a question but as a command.
Posted on 2009-11-19 at 15:21:40.
Edited on 2018-11-19 at 13:39:42 by Eol Fefalas