She saw, during her watch, that he was terrified in his sleep and tormented by things she would never see. And when he shrunk away again to the corner she could stand his suffering no longer. Evani crouched beside him and wrapped her arms around him. She held him to her, singing softly. It was all she could do.
as she held him, she lay her head on his and closed her eyes, feeling sleep pulling her down, grabbing at her limbs. If only, she thought, I close my eyes a moment...
But though she tried to fight off the fatigue that stalked her, her struggle was for naught; the pounding in her heart subsided, her breathing slowed, and she fell, quietly, into sleep.
In dreams, she wandered aimless in the dark. Crossroad after crossroad, and every turn lead her only deeper into emptiness. so dark was her dreamworld that she could make out no tree, no rock, no blade of greass. There was simply Evani and the road. She heard her name, whispered again and again on the breeze. Turning, searching, she saw only darkness... but for a small, tiny glimmer in the distance. Something within her ached and burned, and she tried so hard, tried to push through the vast expanse of nothingness and black, but it seemed each step only widened the distance.
Frustrated, she sank to her knees, swaying in the wind that called her name, and felt an arrow pierce her back. Looking down, she saw it's point coming out of her heart, and touched the tip of the arrow tenderly. Looking up again, she saw Septimus, and the wind still cried her name.
She opened her eyes, body rigid, tense with fear. She'd fallen asleep. It was all she could have done.
He flinched, drawing his body away from her at first, cowering into the corner. Fear flashed from his agonised gaze, his complexion blanched. Instead of fighting as expected, he backed himself away from her as far as he could, and when it was apparent he could go no further, he ducked his head and closed his eyes, waiting for whatever punishment was to be.
Won't you play the music so the cradle can rock,
to a lullaby in ragtime.
Sleepy hands are creeping to the end of the clock,
play a lullaby in ragtime.
You can tell the sandman is on his way,
by the way that they play,
As still as the trill of a thrush in a twilight high.
She moved forward, and he heard the faint sound of her knees against the wood as she knelt beside him. She wrapped her arms around his thin, shaking shoulders and he stiffened underneath her touch, as if expecting a physical blow. Warm comfort was offered to him in the place of due punishment and in spite of himself he leaned into those arms, desperately, hopelessly.
He wept, soft, lost sobs issuing from him as if his very soul was being rendered in two, and allowed the quiet notes of the song to fill his treacherous mind, banishing the dusty cobwebs of hate and regret.
He imagined that this was what having a mother would be like.
So you can hear the rhythm of the ripples on the side of the boat,
as you sail away to dreamland.
High above the moon you hear a silvery note,
as the sandman takes your hand.
Someone was holding his scarred body to them, someone was with him, head against his, intimate, close. He instantly regressed to his childhood, attempting to remember a woman he had never seen, who had borne him, but he had never knew. He trembled underneath his thin linen clothing, his slender, deceptively fragile body vulnerable to a stranger, who could aid him or destroy him on whim. It was agony having her so near to him; even in his state he was distinctly aware of her heartbeat, the delicate pulse of her throat, her voice, her breathing. Woman, woman, woman. Woman all at once and everywhere, like being enveloped in the sea.
And then suddenly, her breathing evened and she leaned against him, eyes closed, body softly pressed against his. He smiled through his tears, reached up and gently loosed her arms from him. He sighed. With a tenderness unimagined, he lifted her into his arms and carried her carefully to the single cot. He placed her sleeping form there, and pulled the downy covers over her prone body, his hands moving with the same gentle love as if he was tucking a child in to sleep. Warmth spread though his entire body as if he was lit by an inner candle, the warmth of caring, and being cared for in return.
So rock-a-by my baby, don't you cry my baby,
sleepy-time is nigh.
Won't you rock me to a ragtime lullaby?
His timid nature called for him to leave her side, but he lingered, captivated by the lax beauty of her visage, peaceful in an unexamined dream. He wondered then of what she dreamt, and then mused on if perhaps he featured in it. The warm sensation evaporated abruptly as it came, and he looked down at himself in disgust. Hatred for himself welled in his heart and he clenched his hands into fists, feeling his nails bite perfect half-moons into the flesh of his palms. He wanted to flee from her, wanted to murder the horrid life inside him that admired her unbearable beauty, which sparked life in his dark eyes.
All of his life he had searched for beauty, coaxed it from his awkward hands, tended it, hunted it, maintained it. Forever, he would consider himself subhuman, a creature without a soul, gifted accidentally with the power of speech. But beauty, his shy appreciation of it in all forms convinced him that he had at least one thing in common with mankind. Filling his eyes with beauty, whether it be in the poetry of words or the soft face of a woman, he was reminded that there was still goodness, still discoveries, still hidden saving graces.
His scarred body would never be beautiful, he thought bitterly. Too many women had traced the intricate lines of his life, marking the hideous reminders of his past badges of bravery. They had called him handsome. He shut his eyes against the thought. They had admired his fine, tall frame and his elegant, clean features, overlooking imperfections that he found to be devastatingly obvious.
A reminder of what he truly was. A reminder that his body, with its marks, was as inhuman as his soul. Nor was he an animal. He was below animal, a perversion. A freak. Tears fell freely from his unfathomable eyes, trickled down his cheeks. He watched them fall without emotion, dotting the bedspread. He forced himself to look at Evani as she slumbered. He tenderly brushed a wayward strand of auburn hair from her eyes, wondering if she could ever grow to care for a creature like him. He had known women who had nursed animals back to health; perhaps she would take pity on him. Perhaps in time, she could grow to love him as a woman loves a dog, for that was the only love he considered himself fit for.
He could be gentle, and kind, faithful and loyal if only she would smile at him, hold him, love him.
He bent slightly and kissed her on the forehead as she slept, his heart full with intense emotions even his poetry could not explain.
“Love me”, he murmured, hardly audible. “Love me”.
She awoke suddenly and instinctively, Septimus drew back, as if ashamed to be caught looking at her. “Nothing happened”, he whispered nervously. A dark blush crept over his high cheek-bones. “You fell asleep”, he explained simply. Tears still ran down his visage, and embarrassed, his knuckled them away.
“I could not leave you there, so I moved you”.
He stared resolutely at his scuffed boots.
So rock-a-by my baby,
don't you cry my baby,
sleepy-time is nigh.
Won't you rock me to a ragtime lullaby?
Posted on 2008-04-11 at 23:56:42.
Edited on 2008-04-12 at 00:02:23 by Septimus Sandalwood
the Septimus of legend was cold, ruthless, though still the inspiration for many, and while the stories of marauding, murder, and mayhem were not qualities in him she admired, she had always dreamed he would be... different. She never expected the shy, awkward and emotional man she had promised to help. this man was wounded, heartbroken.
If they were going to survive, she needed the myth, the legend, the man whose eyes would send enemies screaming into the night. She wondered if could look at her without fear, if he would eventually accept that it was her genuine desire to help that kept her hear, not helpless terror.
She realized she's slept with her weapons and belts on and laughed. "No wonder it was a bit uncomfortable," she said.
A noble half-banana moon slopes over the tattered night sky. Soft stars glisten, heartlessly omniscient, lifeless, like the eyes of a dead man. The road is dry and barren in front of him, the moon resplendent, glorified. The dust kicks under his boots, creating a cloud of almond smoke, his spurs whistling a melancholy jingle-jangle with each heel scuffed step.
His eyes squint slightly, strands of sun-bleached hair blowing across his face, bloodied robes scrunching with the slump of his shoulders. He gazes blindly out to the abyss, the taste of expensive rum, with just the right hint of lime, fresh in his throat. It is a ritual night tonight, a slaughtering night. The pleasing scent of their sacrifice hovers vaguely in the air like shorn copper and everything is so beautiful.
He turns, his body slick with the sea, and lights his pipe, his mind thousands of miles awake. He watches the tendrils of smoke float up to the blue-gray waves, and smiles. He likes that, is almost childishly pleased by it. It reminds him that nothing is permanent. He had celebrated the victory of the Acheron over her foes with a coveted bottle, had savoured the love that the hard men held for their Captain. Their Leader. Their Victor. He tapped the ash on the side-rail reflectively. Bitterly ironic.
Throw the shroud, young man.
The ghostly procession, corpses in hammocks to the rail. Over. Gone. Over and gone to the depths of the sea. The unsatisfied, the insatiable sea. Catch the ride. A place where they could see blood red, lush green and swallowing black. Where he could witness the utter fear his victims’ faces had held before. Where he could set them up and watch them fall with glee, throw shapes with precision.
Can you dig it?
Damaged. Irreversibly damaged by what he had seen.
But, no not insane.
“Let him rest”, he whispered. “He is lost…exhausted”.
He gazed into the shadows that gathered at the corners, illuminated by their own right. Hatred for himself was immediately overwhelmed by powerful memories of what he had been, of the dignity in the darkness. The recollection fanned the flames within him, and he glanced to her, a savage beauty in him, remembered. His head raised, his eyes barren as the desert sun. The tears dried in sprawling tracks across the landscape of his visage and he straddled the line between familiarity and uncertainty, legend, and man.
Finally, he spoke.
“If we are to have any chance to survive”, he mused, “we must play on the recollections of my past”. He smiled. “I understand this now”. Pencil shadings of repulsion and desire flickered over his features and he ran a hand through his unkempt dark hair. “I must be the man who killed their sons. I must be that monster that I forsake so long ago. “He chuckled. “And I must enjoy it”.
“Everything in proportion”, he murmured. “Life and death, dark and light.” His eyes jumped to hers, feral and sweet. He took her hand lightly in his.
“You and me…”.
Shyness overtook him and he averted his gaze, but in spite of himself he curved his rough hand around hers, gently. “We might die tomorrow”, he whispered. “Every day might be our last. You have now the chance to leave me, to wander. There are men waiting for me, love, and they will have me. It is only a matter of time. I am dead already, a specter that breaths and dreams. You are alive…”. He paused. “I may die tomorrow, but you may live if you leave me”.
A ghost of a smile flitted across his lips.
“And thus, if I must die, let it not be said that I have never kissed you”.
Posted on 2008-04-13 at 02:03:14.
Edited on 2008-04-13 at 02:19:09 by Septimus Sandalwood
"No," she whispered, voice hushed by his renewed intensity. His hand over hers sent a bolt of lightning up her arms, and the look in his eyes sent the racing down her spine. She wondered briefly, in the back of her mind, why she hadn't felt this electrified by anyone before.
"We can't have them saying that, can we?"
He closed the distance between them, erasing the void that had separated them. His mouth found hers as her fingertips lightly touched his face. She melted into his embrace, knowing she could die for this, and threaded her fingers through this hair. She returned his passion and intensity, whimpering softly as his kiss claimed her.
Breathless, she pulled away and trembled, touching her lips. Her eyes stared, unblinking, and she flinched as she heard a noise outside their door.
Shaben's night was long and dreamless, he just tossed and turned. He was too worried to dream and too scared to fall asleep for a long time. His nigh passed in a flash as far as his memory of it was concerned because there was nothing to remember, but to his subconscious it was as trying as a whole days forced march.
He woke up before the sun had even begun to start thinking about rising, in reality he had only slept 6 hours and was still exhausted. He dressed, gathered all his things and left without a word. Down at the port there were two ships as opposed to one, 'Good, they got here.' he thought as he bordered it.
He then took up position, hoping that his mercenary would show his face soon, with his musket so that he had a clear shot of the path down towards the docks, laid out the tin of bullets and gun powder next to him and silently watched the the top of the path for any movement so that he could snuff it out quick.
Posted on 2008-04-14 at 16:01:42.
Edited on 2008-04-14 at 20:06:02 by Loki
Dark passions had bloomed within his heart, overtaking all reason, all logic. He felt her hand brush gently against his face, and smiled into the shadows. Dusky, drifting light spread across his faded olive complexion, blossoming like macabre roses over his skin, a part of him. His eyes met hers, shocking in their tainted purity, almost black, almost pupil-less in their little whitewashed room, loving without question. He tilted his head, hesitantly, mouth slightly parted and then her mouth was there, full, warm, and welcoming.
He drifted, unaware of time, unaware of thought.
Suddenly, she stiffened in her arms, and he backpedaled, confused. Perhaps he had hurt her. Questioning and apologetic eyes jumped to hers. His breathing slowed. All attention was on her, intent to find the cause of discomfort.
A soft noise, like footsteps on the stair echoed in the graveyard-still inn. A tread, like that of a man accustomed to secrecy, could be heard beyond their door. He cocked his head, listening. The noise repeated itself, sliding and chilled.
With uncanny precision, Septimus rose, his scuffed boots making hardly a sound against the wood. Trained hands ever so slowly shifted to the hilt of his cutlass. A whisper of steel as it was drawn. His coolly burning gaze focused on the crack beneath the door, tingling with anticipation. He was the hunter. Every iota of energy he possessed was directed towards his prey. The lines of his slender body were rigid, his hand hard against the weapon’s hilt.
“Shaben”, he inquired, quietly, hopefully.
His voice echoed off the peeling, white painted wall.
He stood with legs apart, hands wrapped around the hilt of his cutlass, Evani forgotten. His pose was defiant; but a more observed eye would note the slight tremble in his hands, the bent right knee and the cast down head with pricked ears, listening for any whisper of sound. For the past unaccountable minutes, he had been staring, barely breathing, intent on hearing the previous noise again.
Still not a sound was heard in his swallowing abyss of black.
Hesitantly he forced his left foot forward; a slow glitch, a little shuffle, then a step. He turned sharply to his left, where he knew the curtains were. Had a movement, a noise, just occurred during his slow move? Had he heard the curtain rustle? Did the floor creak like it always did under the right pressure, did he hear the sound of skin against fabric, or was he paranoid now?
He would not admit it was the latter.
He slunk dangerously forward, raised his weapon and thrust open the door. The corridor beyond him was devastatingly empty. But what then? His keen ears picked up another whisper of a tread. He stepped forward, and then glanced back up to Evani with shining predatory eyes. He looked towards the dagger on the chair and jerked his head once, motioning for her to take it up and follow him. Another step and the sandy head of his friend was visible, just passing out of sight on the stair. Curious, he padded down the corridor, following him.
Shaben moved quickly, purposely, through the inn, so quickly in fact that Septimus was nearly jogging to keep up with him. He followed him out into the cool air of dawn, and took advantage of the still-dark, his black, patched robes blending effortlessly into the grayscale of the city. He followed him, surprisingly, to the docks, where Shaben boarded one of the two frigates at port. Suspiciously, he crept forward, making a small noise as his cloak brushed wood. His friend turned, searching intently for the source of the noise.
Septimus swore enthusiastically and retreated to the shadows, ducking behind an unloaded rowboat landed on the docks. Shaben, on the ship, was out of his sight. He hissed out his frustrations and darted forward onto the path of the docks, hoping to board the ship without interference, praying that his fears were not about to be realised.
Posted on 2008-04-14 at 21:02:42.
Edited on 2008-04-14 at 21:11:38 by Septimus Sandalwood
Oh, the torment of his hands upon her, the sweet suffering in prolonged exposure to his mouth, his tongue. She shuddered with the sensory memory of his breath against her skin.
O, sweet excruciating torment...
She had wounded him for a moment, only a heartbeat, and she felt wretched at the look in his eyes, but it passed and he was no longer the sweet gentleness she had just tasted, but a tightened coil of frenetic energy waiting for release. she watched him, remaining still, motionless, barely breathing, listening for the sound she knew he had heard as well. A thousand torrid thoughts passed through her mind, a thousand images that sent flashes of heat along her body, blossoming into embarrasment on her cheeks.
The change in him affected her in ways she was ashamed to admit, thrilled her in secret places she could not yet share. The darkness within her that she denied, a torrid sickness born in her that night in Hollowvale a thousand nights ago, ached for satisfaction, ached for release. Ached for Septimus.
Her hand had found her gun almost without conscious decision, and at his indication she rose form the bed and took up the dagger, his most prized possession, in her other hand. Slipping easily behind her, she followed him in silence, listening intently. She tucked the dagger into her belt.
Keeping her pistol down, but her arm straight to give her a line of sight along, shouls she need it, she paused. A high wind blew the tangled waves into her face and she pushed it back, behind her head, and tucked it into the back of her shirt, but it cost her precious moments. She lost sight of them.
Shaben saw the movement clearly, it was Sep following him, but he was intent on letting Sep descover what he was doing himself.
It was ahortly after he boarded the ship that he saw another movement caught his eye, up on the road, he aimed his musket towards it but didin't shoot, he just kept it in his sight. He hoped that it was a friend but he couldn't be too sure.
He burst forward in a release of tightly coiled energy. His scuffed boots ghosted over the uneven surface of the deck, charging with eerie silence. He had thought he had seen strange movements on the ship and feared that there were others threatening Shaben`s safety. A glance towards the ship revealed a flash of silver and the sheen of polished wood. As a dealer of weapons, he recognised it instantly. A musket, angled directly towards his chest. He froze in mid-step and felt his breath catch in his throat. Vainly he searched in the dawn’s faint light for the face of his attacker. The shadowy man stood, intently listening, waiting.
The clouds yielded dark promises, chill oaths. Grayscale light sharpened everything into focus, devoid of any colour but the slick of the rain and the sea. Crimson threaded through the clear, dead man on deck. A tall limber youth stalked forth, dreamer’s green eyes grey as dawn, hard as chips of flint. Wiry young muscles tightened as his rough hands welded tight to the rope, his slight body balanced precariously on the rail. He bared his teeth in a snarl, not a single sound escaping his lips as he faced his enemies across the raging water. The water poured and fought, brackish, black as oil in the dusk. Wisps of sable hair, matted with blood and sea-water stuck to his visage, obscured his vision. He cursed them without as much as a whisper, communicating solely in his native tongue.
For in the end, we all swing.
He tensed his body and swung out into the void, ignoring the vastness below him, attention solely focused on the black eyes in that white face, bat’s eyes, and sharp and fervid, with terrible ancient cunning. The youth cruised in blind darkness. This was life. Life as a blind man, setting them up, watching them fall, rigging the game. Dreamily he watched the white unlined hand of his enemy dip towards his pistol and felt a brief flash of alarm as the barrel came into view, pointed squarely at his vulnerable chest...
A flare of agony sheeted up through his body. Slowly, almost unconcerned, he looked down at himself, the small, unassuming hole beneath his lower rib. He almost laughed at the superficial nature of the thing. And then the blood came and he sighed. His momentum lost, his body swung back towards the Falcon, head down, breathing shallow. Slowly his hands lost their death-grip on the rope, and in the instant before the ocean claimed him, he looked into those black eyes and saw the Red Man smile.
He shook the ill omen from his mind and took out his pistol, blindly aiming it into the darkness. The unseen enemy stepped into the light and a deep welling of confusion swept through him. Their eyes met, and a question of betrayal burned through his mind. Was it simply that Shaben had mistaken him for someone else? He lowered his pistol slowly, reluctantly. “You should be grateful for my time out of practise”, he shouted to Shaben, attempting to inject a bit of humour into the deathly awkward situation.
“I am not in the habit of missing”.
He impulsively sensed another approaching, and glanced back behind him in a rare moment of trust. Evani, by chance, was coming up the path, and he beckoned to her. Relief flooded through him at finding her again, and as she joined him, he felt a swell of pride at her ownership of his dagger. Deep past memories stored with someone he, perhaps mistakenly, had trusted. Memories of the time that they had shared brought a certain sweetness into his eyes and soft darkness to his cheekbones, canceling out the suspicion directed towards his ally.
He stood beside her, almost protectively.
When his gaze turned to Shaben they were cold and wild, eyes of a man that one knew instantly, was capable of killing. Who, exactly, was he searching so adamantly for?
“It seems that you know more than I ever gave you credit for”, he called out to his old friend, his voice dangerous and almost hypnotic in its chilling, unforgiving suspicion.
Posted on 2008-04-15 at 21:43:33.
Edited on 2008-04-15 at 22:00:56 by Septimus Sandalwood
Shaben didn't make a single movement as his lief was threatened as he had to concentrate more after an incident last year. "Septimus, we are in danger, we shall wait for the others but then we have to leave. I belive there is an agent in the town who wishes to kill us, when we leave I shall talk but untill then I need to concentrate, up on the cliff top, those two figgures are Evani and who I belive to be the agent, I need to take them out, don't worry, I'm a good shot but you need to get her out of there before she summons the guards."
At that moment Shaben saw figure make a strange movement, it seemed to take a knee whrst holding some thing pointed at Evani, it was an agent, and the agent was going to kill Evani. That was all he needed to shoot, his bullet speed through the air and found it's mark embedding itself in the skull of the suposed agent, it fell to the ground dead. That was the first time Septimus had ever seen Shaben shoot.
Having found them again, she stood beside Septimus, the fingers of her right hand curved around the pistol and the left around his dagger. Shaben stared, still and unmoving, against Septimus and she blinked, looking between the two, wondering at their thoughts.
"Septimus," she whispered, ropping her head slightly, "he is your friend. Think of what you suggest!"
And as Shaben explained, Evani's heart went out to him. She understood he was in an impossible situation, trapped by obligation and self-preservation, and she respected that, while they were not privy to the innermost workings of his mind, he was trying and they need only be patient.
But Septimus was legendary, and would not a man like that have learned to read situations differently? Had there been some sign that she missed that indicated Shaben would betray them all? And to what end? What purpose would it serve to see them all dead? no, Shaben would not betray them. Not right now, at least.
She heard the crunch of dirt and rock behind her as Shaben moved. Turning to face the situation, dropping to one knee as she did, she drew her pistol and aimed along the line of her arm, yet even as her finger applied pressure to the trigger, Shaben's shot dropped the man.
She rose slowly, arm extended, sweeping the area, and caught the looks upon Shaben's and Septimus' face.
"Shaben," she managed. She was at a loss for words at the moment, consumed as she was in making sure the shot had not raised some sort of alarm. "Shaben, remind me to thank you for saving my life, but right now... that shot has probably caught someones attention by now so wherever we need to go I suggest we go there NOW."
Soon Chrysta runs up to the rest of you saying how she slept in, she indeed looks tired and has obviously had a rough night.
After some quick explaining by Shaben she boards the ship. It isn't long after this however that a large group of men burst out of a near by building, the commander of the group yells instructions to cut of access to the ship. Now with them being so close you can see they all wear the same uniform as Shaben, pale blue cloaks and breastplate, however, unlike Shaben now on the have guns and produce a series of swords. The commander then speaks to Shaben, "Shaben, give yourself in, you can still get out of this."
To which he relays never and the captain orders them to attack.
EDIT: TOTAL OF 7 OPPONENTS
Posted on 2008-04-16 at 16:49:29.
Edited on 2008-04-16 at 18:55:32 by Loki
Shaben seemed altogether unsurprised by this group, he looks straight at the captain and denies his offer. Once the captain gives the order to attack Shaben looks straight at the closest soldier and says "Are you positive you want to do this, well, if you are..."
Shaben, the quickest draw in the government made his mark then. His dropped his now unloaded musket and drew out his pistol in less then a second, raising it to the man and shooting in one fluid movement. It was almost graceful if apart from the splatter of blood that shot back from the wound and the quiet thud of a body falling to the ground.