Open Chronicles The Unopened Letter

Discussion in 'The Chronicles' started by Anima, Mar 6, 2019.

  1. Anima

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    Anima A Shadow

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    "You're dead. I killed you."

    Anima straddled him. Gazed down at the horror in his eyes. She could see it, even in the darkness of his bedroom. A stillness in that moment. A rising ecstasy. Anima wore the face of the woman he murdered, and she had come for him as her.

    Her name was Lydia. Nine days ago, Anima found her body in the Allir strait. Only her hand poking out of the water. A portent. Intrigued, she worked quickly, mindful of eyes on the bridges above. A delicate task, to cut away the skin of a human face. Once done, she donned it. Her body slowly morphed to Lydia's, and then...the flood began. Lydia's final moments, relived through Anima herself. The fear. Desperation. A surge through the skin, a fire in the heart. But also, hidden underneath, sadness. A sense of a duty unfulfilled. And so Anima walked the streets of Alliria as Lydia, the familiar paths she took sparking hints of emotion here and there.

    And then she saw him. His name: Belenor. A merchant. Wealthy, but not enough to live in the Inner City. Surely an aspiration. He didn't see her at the time. Lucky, it turned out. But the exquisite fear of those last moments rushed back at the sight of him. Robbed the strength from her knees and the air from her chest. Anima knew it at once. This was the man who had killed her.

    A day's worth of stalking, and she found his home. Again, wealthy, but not enough to afford permanent guards. Simple, then, to wait for nightfall. To wait until Belenor crawled into bed.

    Anima put her hand back over his mouth. Let out a quiet hush. Smiled.

    This would be the last time he would wake.

    And she slid the knife between his ribs.

    * * * * *​

    Anima watched from afar in the midday sun. The Outer City market bustled with business. Local Allirians and travelers alike roamed and browsed and talked and argued and laughed. But her eyes were locked on a single man. A blacksmith. He had a small open-air shop. Two apprentices younger than him, hard at work. He coughed and pointed a tool at them, at the metal they were forging. Instructing them in the craft.

    She knew it was him. Lydia's love erupted at the sound of his name, and Anima savored it. And then that same sadness crept in. Settled, for a while. Followed by a longing for something. A burning hope. Conviction. What a sweet wine of emotion, all from the sight and sound of this man. But she couldn't be drunk on it forever. It was time to let him know.

    She approached the smithy. Slowly. Carefully. People passed by between her, blocking her view of him time and again. His voice, distinguishable from all the rest. Lydia's tears formed in Anima's eyes, threatening to break free. A solemn delight. A heavy burden.

    Ten paces away, and their eyes met.

    "Erik," she whispered.

    His mouth fell open. He dropped the tool in his hand. A clattering of metal on stone. His quiet gasp, thunder amongst the bustle of the market crowd to her. His lips quivered. He said to his apprentices, "Leave me. Please."

    Confusion from the two at first, but when they each noticed her as well, shock and surprise clutched them. Unsure, they nevertheless listened to their master, and parted from the smithy.

    Slowly again, she closed the distance. Stood in front of him. And he spoke, his voice breathy with disbelief, "Lydia...oh god, Lydia. You're...you're alive! Thank the--"

    Anima softly placed her hand on his chest as he moved to embrace her. Held him back. Shook her head. A rare occasion of being forthright. But she had decided that Erik deserved the truth. She said, "This is not her."

    And she watched as a different kind of disbelief overcame him. A rising exuberance giving way to a sinking uncertainty. "I don't...Lydia, I don't understand."

    "This body looks like her. But it is not her. Lydia is dead, adrift in the Allir strait. Her body is gone now."

    A narrowing of his eyes. "Then who are you? What...are you?"

    "An avenging shadow."

    Doubt lasted a while longer, but there, a spark in his eyes. "So she was murdered then? And you avenged her?" Anima nodded, and Erik stumbled backward, bumping into an anvil on a thick pedastal. "I knew it," he said. "I knew that bastard Belenor was lying. I knew and I--" He made a fist. Held it against his mouth for a moment. "I just couldn't prove it. An accident, he said. Really? How many maids die in accidents? My Lydia...my dear Lydia...murdered by that son of a bitch."

    Minutes passed, and nothing was said between them. Anima stared at him, and Erik stared down at the ground. The white hot flames of anger diminished back to embers. And the sadness returned. Lydia's love tugged at Anima's legs, beckoning her forward, yearning to comfort him. She stood still, smile unbroken, as he wiped his face. How fortunate Lydia had been in life, to find someone who cared so deeply for her. And so it was in death as well.

    "She can rest now," Anima said. "May you find peace as well."

    She turned to go. Erik's hand on her arm. A desperate clutching. A plea, expressed through his hand and the false skin Anima wore. A love to burn the world to cinder caged in her chest. And there, in that tiny moment, Anima wished that she was Lydia. Truly, and deeply.

    "Please don't leave," Erik said.

    But she was not. She merely carried on the last vestiges of her spirit. And then, those too would be gone. Dust in the wind.

    Anima reached over with her other hand. Placed it on Erik's own. Looked over her shoulder at him. Whispered, "You have to let her go."

    A heavy moment. And he said, "May I do one last thing?"

    "You may."

    Erik carefully spun her around. Placed his hands on her cheeks. And kissed her. And she him. He deserved such a farewell from Lydia, and Anima enjoyed that fleeting moment as her messenger. He parted from her. Said, "Goodbye, Lydia. I love you. I will always love you."

    Anima took a step back. Said, "Goodbye. Erik."

    More steps back.

    More.

    The crowd took her. And she disappeared among them.

    Erik dropped to the ground when he lost sight of her. His face in his hands.

    * * * * *​

    Anima sat on the edge of her bed back in her room at The Moonlit Sweetheart. Inns in the Outer City always seemed to be competing for the most memorable name. It worked. Anima had some spare coin, and a need for some privacy during her venture as Lydia. A few nights' stay didn't cost much, but you got what you paid for, didn't you? A bed, a lamp, and a locked door. Some rooms had windows. Anima's did not. All the better.

    She sighed. Smiled in a defeated manner as she glanced over at her normal armor, clothes, and weapons on the bed. It was time.

    She took the underwrist knife out of one of her leather bracers. Placed the tip of the blade against the bottom of her left ear, at the point where it met her face. Pressure. The metal sunk into the flesh. A wet parting of skin, near inaudible. Down along the jawline, along the chin, up now past her right ear, half moon over the forehead, and back to where she started. A hiss as sorcerous energies escaped. She placed the blade down on a piece of cloth on the bed. Not much blood on it. Clean, this time. A thumb under the loose skin of her chin, index finger pinching it. A slow peel upward. Red strings of ichor tried and failed to hold it in place. False muscles stretched and snapped. And Lydia's face was off.

    Anima gasped for air. Watched the skin on her arms change ever so slightly to its regular hue. Lydia's blonde hair gave way to Anima's black. The gray settled back into her eyes. Minutes passed, and her body grew to match her normal frame.

    The facade was over.

    She wiped the blade off and placed it back into the hidden slot in her bracer. Wiped her face with the cloth. Stood and stripped off the clothes she had purchased ten days prior when she first began her masquerade as Lydia. And she stood for a while. Looking down at her naked body. She had felt it. The love Lydia had for Erik. As raw and powerful as if it were her own. It was only just this afternoon, but now, in dusk, the memory was distant and numb. A ghost of something sweet. Something of worth. Meaning.

    This body had felt it. But this body had not truly felt it. A shadow takes form, but it is not that which stands before the light.

    It would be a long time, she thought, before such an experience came again. A rare fortune.

    And as she dressed and re-equipped herself, echoes from her mother, from the blackest corner of her mind, heralded a sobering reminder. There would come a time when no such experience could be had again. When all fell to the dark. When humanity finished eating itself.

    Anima opened a small satchel. Placed the skin of Lydia's face at the bottom. The ten-day-old clothes on top. She would need to dispose of the satchel. The face was no longer of any use, and deserved to be at rest with the rest of Lydia. And the clothes...fitting for the facade, but not otherwise. Unappealing to her now.

    One final item of Lydia's remained on the bed. The unopened letter.

    Anima shouldered the satchel, its strap going across her body and armor. Satchel on one side of her hip, sheathed shortsword on the other. She took the unopened letter in one hand and held the strap of the satchel with the other and blew out the flame in the lamp and left her room and closed the door behind her. Smiled to another inn patron as she passed him in the hall. He didn't smile back, or so much as look at her. Disappointing. Necessary, perhaps, with the satchel task at hand, but disappointing nonetheless. She walked past the innkeeper, the glow of his own lamp illuminating his face. A returned smile this time. The faintest hint of curiosity. What lurked in the innkeeper's mind? Was he a hidden hero, or a common coward? How soon would he give in to what lurked inside him? Eyes forward, toward the inn's front door. Not now. Leave him be.

    Out the door and back onto the streets of Alliria. The last vestiges of sunlight in the sky. The smell of certain rain in the air as large clouds encroached from the east, riding the wave of the approaching dark. Anima turned toward it, her back to the dying of the light in the west. She stood on the toes of her boots, her heels lifted from the ground. Her head tilted back. Eyes closed. Arms open in embrace. An exaltant smile.

    "Fear not the coming of the dark," she whispered to herself.

    And still, she trembled.
     
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  2. Saul Talith

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    Saul Talith Templar

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    Dusk.

    It was the time of day that put him most on edge. Saul didn't know why, perhaps because of the magical connotations, perhaps because of the battles he had fought during the time. He couldn't have said why had someone put a knife to his neck, but even now he felt ill at ease.

    He was sure that the others felt the same, though as they walked quietly through the streets of Alliria none of them spoke.

    They were returning to the city, having been gone nearly a month now. They had been on the hunt for a water-demon, a creature that took the shape of a serpent and hunted those who entered it's domain. The creature had not died easily, and many of them had been injured in the attempt to kill it.

    Their return had been a slow one, and even now they wore the wounds of their battle.

    Much of their armor was broken, cracked, or scratched. Many had wounds ranging from cuts to broken bones. Saul himself carried a gash on his left side, one that seemed to flare up each time he breathed. As the half dozen Templar stalked forward Saul took a shallow breath, knowing they had some ways to go still.
     
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  3. Aurra

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    Aurra Member

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    #3 Aurra, Mar 26, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2019
    "And what business do you all have here?"


    Aurra sat on a barrel, picking some pieces of dried meat from between her teeth. The question came from a portly man in his middle years. Two guards stood behind the man, their expressions giving little away. The question hadn't been addressed to her so she maintained a disinterested visage.


    “These warehouses belong to Rutland Shipping, that's why we have business here.” A younger man in a smart tunic stood in front of the warehouse doors. He crossed his arms over his chest and held his ground.


    “These belonged to Belenor, a man who was murdered just…”


    “They were recently sold,” Hathern replied. From within his tunic he retrieved some papers and handed them over.


    Aurra knew those were forgeries. Belenor had been an ally of the Rutland family. They had acted quickly on news of his death to secure as many of his assets as possible. Contacts were easy. They required a little persuasion, some more significant leverage or downright threats to move their business to the Rutlands. That was Aurra's speciality.


    Keeping fixed assets out of the hands of the authorities required a man like Hathern. The kind who could speak in fancy words and forge documents. There was little to no separation between the legitimate and illegitimate arms of the Rutland's business. Extortion, smuggling, racketeering and murder were just day to day business.


    “These can't be right,” the portly man declared. His face was taking a deeper shade of red by the second. “I ought to have the guards clear you out.”


    At that Aurra slid off her barrel. The contrast between her almost feline grace and ragged appearance could not have been more obvious. Now she had two guards’ attention.


    Aurra essentially had the run of the rooftops and back alleys of the Shallows. A young woman with a reputation for doing terrible things if the Rutlands were crossed. Her age and diminutive stature often at odds with the way she was treated by those who knew of it.


    Being skilled with a knife wasn't the same as taking on two trained guards in daylight. Especially when they had broadswords and chainmail. That was why her boys were here. The moment she took a step forwards five thugs took one too. They had almost been part of the background scenery, but now they stood tall and threateningly.


    “Time to fuck off eh?” she called out.


    One of the guards murmured something to the man holding the papers.


    “I will dig into the legitimacy of these purchase orders. Good day sir.”


    That would be the end of that. The kind of people who had a say on whether a paper was accurate or not tended to be easy to coerce. The Rutlands had plenty in their pocket.


    Hathern folded the papers, slid them back into a leather pouch and tucked them back away. He turned to face Aurra. There was always a note of disdain in his voice when he addressed the scrappy street merchant.


    “Crude, but effective. Keep watch. I want to get a complete inventory done before the sun is up,” he instructed. Aurra shrugged by way of reply. The boring jobs were often the easiest.




    That had been her hope. One that was dashed barely an hour later when a man rode up to the warehouse. A man with two guards of his own and a Rutland crest on his tunic.


    Aurra looked up at him with suspicion. She had only met one of the family in person before. They tended to keep a big distance between themselves and the low level enforcers like her. The scum like her.


    “Aurra?” he called out.


    She nodded.


    “Come with us. We'd like you to speak to the guard who found the recently deceased. See if the murder sounds like…well sounds familiar.”


    Aurra translated that in her own head. Murderer, come and tell us if this sounds like one of your murdering friends. No one typically investigated murders, no one investigated bodies. Policing worked on the basis that if the guards caught you then you were guilty. Otherwise the merchants dealt their own justice and another body went floating down the Allir. Sometimes a particularly wealthy individual who died in suspicious circumstances would have a cleric or necromancer try and extract information from the spirit. That was as advanced as Allirian criminal investigation got. Regardless, Aurra had to do as she was told.
     
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  4. Canso

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    Canso New Member

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    Ain’t nothing like pure, honest work.

    To say that the man looked flashy would be an understatement. Despite the muted tones of his garments, the intricacies and detail of each piece was enough to catch the eye of most who wandered by. These clothes didn’t look like they should belong to someone from the Outer City, much less to a man who held the appearance of a common crook. That would, no doubt, lead some to speculate on just how the man acquired his gear. Not that Canso would ever kiss and tell.

    As dusk started to settle in, the magician found himself closing shop for the day. It hadn’t been a particularly eventful day. A few coins earned tossed at him while he was preforming, probably as more of a means to shut him up rather than an actual tip for his show. But it wasn’t enough, he wasn’t even sure he could buy a pint of the worst ale in town with it, much less something to eat. His only saviour was a small ring, gently ‘loaned’ from one of his observers. It wouldn’t make him rich, but if he fenced it before the night settled then he was sure he’d be able to buy a bit of cider and salt meat with it.

    Picking up the rickety stool he’d been using as a stand, he begrudgingly accepted his fate. His mind repeating that tomorrow would be better, and that there was nothing more that he could do for today. Better to simply get rid of the ring and reap the benefits, no matter how small they were.

    Or at least that was what he’d been planning.

    As he moved down the street, his steps slow and melodic, he found himself stopping, something in his peripheral view catching his eye. It was a woman, not one he knew. Was she from here? Not that it mattered, what did matter was what she was doing. It was bizarre, even for a place like this. Her arms were arched out, and she looked… off. There was a smile plastered on her face, but it hung on the fringe on being genuine. Yes, that was what was truly grating at his skin, and it was enough to make him curious.

    She didn’t seem particularly wealthy, though not poor either. She wore a satchel, perhaps containing nothing of note, or perhaps…

    Canso found himself quickly ducking out the way, careful to appear inconspicuous in case the woman turned his way. He was useless in an actual fight, one would perhaps be better off handing a babe a knife than him, but what he was, was quick and light. A deftness that came with years of pick-pocketing and petty robbery. He was confident enough in his ability to remain unseen that he worried not about being found out, at least not yet.

    Casting a quick glance to the ring in his hand, before looking back towards the woman he found a scowl crossing his face. If she was carrying on her something of worth… then yes, maybe he could do better than just whatever scraps of food the barkeep would be willing to throw in his direction for chump-change. But…

    He couldn’t explain it, but something about the woman was triggering something primal within him, a sort of fear as if he were a cornered animal.

    I need to snap out of it. He gave his head a slight shake before pocketing the ring, and slowly putting his stool down. Chances are she’s just some strange escort who caught a lucky break with a client, nothing to be worried about. Despite telling himself that, it didn’t help quell the rising fear.

    But at the end of his internal bickering, money spoke the loudest. He would follow this women, and when she was alone he would strike.

    After all, honest work was fun, but there was nothing sweeter than the sound of coin.
     
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  5. Anima

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    Anima A Shadow

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    #5 Anima, Mar 27, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2019
    The sounds of Alliria, the sheer cacophony of the busiest city in the world, waned with the setting sun. Far away things. Metal striking metal, a mother calling for her children, the flowing and splashing of water. Far away things. And silence swallowed her whisper, as it always had.

    Her heels touched ground again. She opened her eyes. And she started down the street. Eyes forward. She passed a younger adventuring couple walking the opposite way, an older man sitting outside his shop and smoking a pipe, and a well-dressed younger man. Paid none of them any mind. Like the innkeeper, she couldn't spare the time. Her debt to Lydia was still unpaid.

    She turned at the first intersection. All of the corner shops and stalls were being closed and packed up for the day. A child of one of the owners asked his father if he could go play down by the canal. His father said no, not today. Started pushing his cart of wares in the opposing direction.

    Good.

    Lydia deserved some peace. A quiet burial at sea. Rest had come before her time, but still, it was rest. Anima remembered the few friends of Lydia's she had happened across during her masquerade, none of which having known about her death at the time. The pure kindness that followed. The well-wishing. Lydia would have died to save any of them, should she have been forced to. A soul, seemingly incorruptible. A good person. Perhaps it was good that she had died so soon. Before she could bear witness to the slow and patient rot that slumbered deep in her heart, as it did in the hearts of all.

    "Good evening," said a guardsman. Standing right in front of Anima. She stopped. Blinked twice. Oh. He glanced down at her satchel. "Traveler?"

    She smiled. "Yes. A traveler."

    "Welcome to Alliria." He put his hands on his hips. Rotated his shoulders. Relaxed. Lazy eyes. "Already find an inn that suits your fancy? Or are you one of those loud, drinking types? Outer city's full of 'em."

    Anima gestured her head back. "Already found an inn. The Moonlit Sweetheart."

    The guard nodded. "Good, good. Glad to hear it. Because I don't feel like breaking up another damned tavern fight tonight." He straightened up. Made ready to go. "Keep your nose clean, traveler. Safe journey."

    "Of course."

    The guard went his way down the street, and Anima went hers. It wasn't too far from her interaction with the guard, the stairs leading down to the waters of the Allirian strait. She waited. Leaned forward on the low stone wall before the descending steps. Stared down at the water for a time. At a small boat rocking gently on the other side of the canal. A glance. Down the street. The guard was long gone. She stepped back from the stone wall, clutching the strap of her satchel and holding the unopened letter close to her chest, and walked down the stairs.

    Sheer chance, to have found the letter. Belenor's bedroom had been dark, only scraps of reflected moonlight to see by. Her eyes had just happened to grace the dresser at the head of the bed. Seen the letter, poking out from under some other papers. A pang of excitement, purpose, hope--Lydia's hope--as she noticed the familiar ink smear on the corner of it. But there had been no emotions recalled upon seeing the dresser. Only upon seeing the letter.

    Lydia's eyes never saw it, but it had been placed there after her murder. A curious thing. One to be indulged after her final burial.

    Anima reached the landing at the bottom of the stairs. Walked to the edge, where the waters lapped against the sculpted stone. Kneeled down. Unshouldered the strap of the satchel. Placed the letter under her right knee and pinned it to the smooth stone. Looked up and down the canal. A few other people at other landings. Too far away to notice or care. Her back to the stairs behind her.

    She reached into the satchel. Pulled out the clothes she had worn as Lydia and tossed them into the water. Then she bowed her head. Took a moment.

    She set the satchel down next to her and slowly pulled out the skin of Lydia's face. Held it delicately in both hands. The gift Lydia had given. The reprieve. The chance to be a good soul. Fleeting. And cherished.

    She smiled. "Goodbye, Lydia."

    And she let go.

    * * * * *​

    He walked through the city. Heavy boots on stone road. His chainmail hauberk clinking and clattering. His wide-brimmed hat tipped forward just so. The single sleeve of his leather coat and the glove concealing the arm of the beast magically grafted onto his body. Fitting, that. To own a limb of the very beast that had ripped off his own.

    He approached the house of Belenor Damascian. Held in his human hand a missive from the same. Pleading for him to come at once. Belenor had feared something terrible might happen to him. Judging from the two guards that stood outside his front doors, Belenor had feared wisely.

    He stopped in front of the guardsmen. Said, "I need to see Belenor."

    The two guards looked at each other. Then sized him up. He stood taller than both of them. Wider than either of them. An intimidating man. A military pick holstered on his belt, like a single huge fang fastened to a solid wooden handle. A heavy crossbow slung over his shoulder, seemingly large and powerful enough to punch a hole through two trees.

    The guard on the right said, "Well, you're too late. Belenor Damascian was murdered last night. State the business you had with him."

    He held the missive forward for them to read. A calm and sure gesture.

    The other guard said, "Hmm. What's your name, mercenary?"

    He pocketed the missive. Slow and methodical. And stood silent. A monolith before them. Watched the mounting concern and unease spread on their faces. He did have a given name. Once. Now he had an earned one.

    And he answered on his own time. "The Jackal."

    The guards looked at each other again. One was about to speak--

    When he repeated. Deeper. "I need to see him."

    The guard on the right said, "He's dead. Whatever he hired you for...well, consider it easy money, friend. You don't owe him anything now."

    His eyes drilled into that guard. And the Jackal said, "Do we not owe everything we have to the dead?"

    A moment passed. The guard on the right's hand inched and trembled toward the hilt of his sheathed sword.

    Then the guard on the left said, "Fine. You can see the body, for all the good it will do you. But don't touch anything. Agreed?"

    "Agreed." And the Jackal extended his hand. Hesitant, the guard shook it. And the Jackal's word became bond.

    The left guard pushed open the door to the house. Explained on the way to the bedroom, "He was found here earlier this morning, just before noon or so. Guardsman Pollinus found him, he did. Had to kick in the door." He waved his hand dismissively. "Pollinus is off doing something. Talkin' to some of Belenor's merchant friends I believe. Maybe they're like you. Trying to figure this mess out. You work for Belenor often?"

    "Often enough."

    They stepped into the bedroom, and the Jackal surveyed the body. Belenor laid on the bed, eyes frozen open in terror. A single stab wound in his chest.

    And a chunk of his neck bitten off by human teeth.
     
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  6. Aurra

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    There was almost no one inside the Wizard's Hat. Two of the Rutland's men blocked the door but had allowed Aurra straight inside. To the left was the bar. Hung above it were all rusted swords, coins and various effects. The innkeeper had a story for each, claiming they were treasures of long passed heroes and adventurers who had come through here. Aurra doubted there was a single one that matched the story attached to it.

    To the right was a hexagonal pit dug into the ground with two rows of chairs around it. Every other night was cock fighting. Occasionally they found more exotic creatures to put against one another. The sand still held the black stains from the previous evening's spilled blood. Some of hers made extra coin on evenings off ensuring that the patrons paid up their gambling debts before leaving their chairs. She could see now how the two ring s of chairs were arranged to make it difficult to leave the side of the arena. No quick escapes.

    Her attention returned to a table beside the bar. Three men sat around a table. Aurra realised that she knew Pollinus. He was on the payroll. Had been at one of the gambling nights a few weeks ago. If she recalled correctly he had offered to fuck her in a particularly crude fashion but she had been sober enough to avoid that inevitable disappointment.

    "You were first there?" she asked. Aurra didn't bother with niceties, or even taking a seat.

    Pollinus looked up over his ale and nodded. "Yeah."

    "Where was he?" Aurra continued.

    "His house..."

    "I know that, where in his house?"

    "His room. On the bed. Found him like that, just lying back in a pool of his blood."

    Aurra considered that briefly. She was making up these questions as she went along. "Was there a sign of a fight? Any other bodies?"

    "No other bodies. What would a fight look like?" Pollinus asked before taking a long swig of his ale. Clearly he wasn't used to being the centre of attention like this.

    "Blood around the floor, weapons, broken doors or windows, I don't fucking know, use your imagination."

    "Well, I had to break the door down. Nothin' out of place. Just him dead on the bed."

    A cool draft entered the inn as the door swung open. When the group turned to look it felt as if the temperature dropped even further.

    Javy Rutland stood in the doorway. Most of the family kept some distance between themeselves and the pointy end of their criminal arm. Not Javy, the violent, unhinged black sheep of the family with a love of bare knuckle boxing. He had pulled out Aurra's finger nails for stealing from the family before offering her a job. She had seen him take offence at a comment and beaten a man twice his size to a pulp at the bar. Then he had dragged the man to the doorway and used it to crack his skull. He was one of the few people Aurra genuinely feared. If he was here then this was being taken seriously.

    She turned back to Pollinus as Javy meandered towards them. "So someone he knew or a professional then. Was it a stab wound? A garotte? A big slash from a sword or axe?"
     
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  7. Saul Talith

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    Saul Talith Templar

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    Alliria had always been a busy city.

    No one ever stopped to look around themselves unless it was in their own interest. It was a quality of merchants and nobles, one that had somehow sown itself into the locals just as much. Saul had never much cared for it, if only because the corners you didn't look in were almost always the ones with ghouls in them.

    The Templars continued to walk forward, unabated by anyone within the crowds. Those within Alliria knew well to stay as far away from the holy soldiers as they could. No trouble would have been started, but Templar were not the sort even the worst criminal wanted to mess with.

    Yet as they walked something pulled at Saul.

    He should not have bothered with it, not with his armor half broken and his face bruised and cut, but as they stepped through the muck and passed by an open Inn he couldn't help but stop.

    A frown touched his lips, his head turned.

    The others seemed to sense his hesitation, their own broken forms coming to a stop. One or two glanced at him, the rest simply began to shake their heads. Saul smiled, blood still staining the inside of his mouth from combat days before. "Go on back to the Compound, I'll catch up."

    It was all the word they needed to continue on without him.
     
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  8. Anima

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    Anima watched Lydia's face drift away on the surface of the water. Down the strait. On the same path as the rest of her body. Carried along to some other place. Not all that much different from her soul, perhaps. If she should be so lucky.

    A splash from up and across the strait. Children laughing. One of them, a playful accusation to another, You pushed me!

    Anima bowed her head again. Closed her eyes. Already, the lethargy was seeping back into her mind. From the heights of Lydia, all seemed low. Solitary Alliria an exercise in torture by comparison. She was without form now. Amorphous. And she would be bending and twisting and contorting and pulling toward every faint voice and met glance. In search of another to bask in, or become. Soon. Soon was good.

    Perhaps Erik? His sorrow was mesmerizing. A thing of awe and beauty. Most potent in these next few days. An ear to confide in or a shoulder to cry on--both could be provided. Maybe he would want to join Lydia? Be carried and remembered together. A reunion in shadow. If not, Alliria was brimming with inns and travelers and adventurers of all kinds. Chancy. Some were more of a delight than others, overflowing with wonder or driven by purpose or scarred by a harrowing past. A venture into the uncertain, but better than lethargy. And should even that fail, brothels. Acquire coin. Purchase some private time. Not ideal, since confusion often abounded from requests made, and confusion was bitter. Unappealing. And simple carnal ecstasy was plain and flat. Equally unappealing. Fit for mere subsistence.

    Anima stood and opened her eyes, scooping up her satchel and the letter as she did so. Up the strait, she saw two kids pulling a third out of the water and back onto their landing.

    Then she looked down at the letter in her hands. No name on it. Marked only by the smudge of ink in the bottom right corner, and a small thumbprint of blood on the right side where she had grabbed it.

    The final peek into Lydia's life. She slid her finger under the flap and broke the tiny wax seal holding it in place. Opened the envelope and took out the small piece of paper inside.

    It read:

    The Church of Many Divines. Dusk.
    -- M

    Anima's eyes widened, and she grinned, pocketing the envelope and clutching the paper tightly in her hands. A rising excitement. Echoes of Lydia. That sense of a duty unfulfilled surging back. A ghostly and vicarious feeling, but enough for her heart to announce itself in her chest.

    The sun had not set completely just yet. And through staggering chance she knew where in Alliria she could find that small church. Perhaps, with only a bit more luck, the ten days since Lydia's passing wouldn't matter, and there would be yet another piece of her to uncover at the church.

    Anima shouldered the strap of her satchel and turned and hurried up the stairs back up to the street proper. And she walked as fast as she could walk, passing by a few others in the street. Sliding around them with ease.

    And she headed north. Toward the Church of Many Divines. Light to her left and dark to the right. The sky split between them.

    * * * * *​

    "It just isn't right, that." The guard nodded down at the dead man's neck. "What manner of man would do such a beastly thing?"

    The Jackal grunted. Acknowledgment of the guard's words, nothing more. He put his hands on his knees and crouched down enough to get a closer look at the torn flesh and muscle. Just a single, precise bite. Some tearing. Not much. Belenor couldn't have been moving when it happened. Already dead.

    "Anything taken?" The Jackal said.

    The guard shook his head. "Nothing at all, mercenary. Not as far as we could tell, in any case. Hell, he's still got a fat sack of coin right over there on the corner table."

    The Jackal glanced over at it. Then around at the rest of the room. Window. Opposite wall to the bed. Shutters closed. Glass intact. Would have been loud. Door was still locked--

    And he noticed something. Shifted some to see it better. Closer.

    A small stain of blood on the dresser. Half of a fingerprint. And another. A tiny dried droplet, just before the small mess of paper and parchment atop the dresser. None on the papers themselves. Of course not. Not these papers.

    "See something, mercenary?"

    He said nothing. Turned his attention back to the body. Leaned toward it. Close enough for Belenor to feel his breath, if he were still alive. And he took three long and deep sniffs of the blood from the bite wound. Got the scent firmly in his nose. And his left arm twitched.

    The Jackal stood up straight. "Have you been upstairs?"

    "W-What?"

    More deliberate. "Have you been. Upstairs?"

    "Well, no. Didn't seem--"

    "I need to see the upstairs."

    The guard's face still betrayed his appalled reaction to the Jackal's methods. But, nevertheless, the guard turned. Said, "Very well."

    And he spoke as he led the Jackal back out into the main room and up the stairs, saying, "We asked around to see if Belenor had any kin. A solitary man, it would seem. Not even a bastard child by the look of it. Might've made this a bit easier to sort out. Jealous wife, angry son, you know. Wouldn't be the first time."

    They reached the attic. Sparse. Some loose belongings and crates. A small pile of firewood. Water buckets.

    A single window at one end. And the Jackal walked over to it. No glass pane. Shutters still ajar. Glass was expensive, more so for custom or precise pieces. And Belenor had skimped out. Second floor shutters could deter the inexperienced. But with agile footwork and a thin blade to lift the inside latch, they provided only a few seconds' worth of hindrance to those with the skill.

    Brazen, then, to purposely not cover one's tracks.

    He walked forward. Led closer to the window. His nose guiding his eyes down to another stain of blood on the sill. The red ghosts of two partial fingers, some of a thumb. Obscure. But there.

    And the Jackal's left arm twitched. Thirsted for the hunt.
     
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  9. Aurra

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    "Dunno. Dead," said Pollinus. He gave a shrug of his broad shoulders.

    Aurra wasn't certain if he was taking offence at being questioned by the slip of a girl or if he was now trying to show his strength in front of Jay Rutland. The latter would be a poor choice. Aurra could remember trying to show spirit in front of Javy when she had been much younger. She had been alone then, a talented thief. A talented thief who didn't understand who not to steal from.

    She had shown spirit and then he had pulled out her fingernails one by one. It had amused him a great deal. Punishment for stealing from the Rutland family. A chance for the wild child to let loose. At least it hadn't descended from there. Her pathetic cries had seemed to bore him and so on the advice of one of his men had pressed her into service for the family. Now one little street corner and a handful of enforcers made up her little empire. A broken corner of a broken district in a corrupt city.

    "For fuck's sake Pol what kind of wounds did he have?"

    "He was bloody around the chest and neck," the guard said. "Doesn't really matter now does it?"

    "Do you know what a knife wound looks like?"

    All heads turned towards Javy. He had taken a seat and was leaning back in a relaxed posture. He had a pleasant smile on his face. Too pleasant.

    Pollinus was too dense between the ears to see the danger. Perhaps he hadn't heard of the man's reputation. Perhaps as a guard who took some coin on the side he hadn't seen enough of the Rutlands to understand just how far they went to secure their empire.

    Belenor had been wealthy, influential and an ally. A Rutland could be the next target. One of the family murdered in their sleep.

    "Like any wound, blood, right?" Pollinus replied.

    Aurra looked away. Javy caught sight of that, too.

    The man launched himself out of his chair suddenly. A single punch discombobulated Pollinus and another set of arms held him down. Javy grabbed Pollinus' arm at the wrist and elbow and held it flat to the table. Javy was grinning. A mouth of of teeth and eyes full of madness.

    "Aurra, do remind him what a knife wound looks like?"

    She should not have looked away.
     
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  10. Saul Talith

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    The door to the Inn fell open once more, and inside stepped Saul Talith. His expression was as weary as could be, a man who had survived battles against things that most people could have only imagined in nightmares.

    His broken armor decorated him like some sort of horrid memorial, the cracks within the metal showing sins of fierce battle. His tattered cloak shifted slightly as the door opened, bright green eyes hidden beneath the vestiges of his helmet. A hand landed on the pommel of his sword.

    The sights inside of the Inn weren't too surprising, save for one corner anyway.

    A man splayed out across the table, one man holding him down at the wrist, several other standing over him. One of them already held a knife.

    Saul hadn't heard what they said, but his lips thinned slightly at the sight of instigated violence. He was no stranger to Alliria of course, he knew what this city was, but the sight was not necessarily one that he'd been looking for when stepping inside of the Inn. His lips thinned, and slowly he took a single step forward.
     
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  11. Anima

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    Anima moved through the city. A brisk pace. Driven by purpose. Even with the masquerade over, and her body laid to rest, Lydia had been kind enough to offer more of herself. A legacy, traces of herself still lingering in the world. An enigma. Answers, perhaps, should Anima be so lucky. Her time as Lydia had been an exhilarating and nonstop rush of powerful emotions. The source of most were clear. Others were not. The story of Lydia's life was not yet clear. Anima had the honor of carrying on the most powerful fragments, but the promise of a whole? Her spirit in totality? Understood and lived and experienced as if they were one in the same? Such opportunity was rare. It yearned to be seized.

    And she walked. Passed many people on the street. Passed their homes and places they sold their wares and practiced their craft. There were many lives being lived in Alliria. Many boring lives. A sailor's saying: Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink. To live an interesting life was viewed as a curse by some, but it was a blessing for Anima. Lives of comfort and good fortune hardly tested one's character. And a person whose character had not been tested offered nothing. No pain, no sorrow, no ecstasy. No rage, no joy, no camaraderie. No shame, no fear, no desperation. No love, no guilt, no horror worth partaking in. Lackluster versions, if any.

    Perhaps Lydia was like that, once. But she had lived too long. And a time came when she wasn't like that anymore.

    And she walked. Some last minute haggling to her right. A man and a merchant arguing over the price of apples. A different man, to her left, tripped over something. Fell down to the street amidst the chorus of laughter from his three friends. One of them said in jest as another helped him up, "Maybe we should make you some new fucking shoes, eh?" And they walked off in the opposite direction.

    And she walked.

    Spotted something. Men. Six of them. Going up the road as she went down it. Their battered and battle-worn armor distinctive. Though she hadn't seen them up close before, she'd heard of them. Detailed descriptions. Caught glimpses from afar on occasion.

    Templar.

    Mother had spoken about them a few times. A vitriol like Anima had never heard before in her voice. She hated them. Maybe even feared them. Called them ignorant zealots. Wished everlasting curses upon them.

    Anima slowed as the distance between her and the group closed. Watched as they passed by, looking at each of them as they did. Made eye contact with those whose helmets had seen better days. Smiled. Curious, and intrigued. These templars fought monsters of all kinds. Evil, when and where they found it. Were they as incorruptible as they seemed? Or was Mother right, even about them? One day, perhaps, she could shadow one. Witness the life of a templar, and what lay beneath all that armor. What could break such paragons of righteousness and virtue?

    But not today. Today belonged to Lydia.

    And she walked.

    * * * * *​

    The Jackal turned from the window. Sniffed once, his nose and mouth scrunching up from the force. Yes, the scent was deep in his nose. And there was nothing more to be gained from here.

    He walked forward. "That's all I need."

    The guard and the Jackal went back down the stairs. And the guard said to him as they exited the house, "Think you'll be able to find 'em, mercenary?"

    The Jackal stopped. Looked back over his shoulder. His eyes like the moons that drove men mad. "I gave my word."

    The heavy footfalls of his boots. The clinking of his chainmail.

    And he was gone.

    Hunting his prey.
     
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  12. Aurra

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    Two men stepped into the Templar's path. There was more confusion on their faces than anger. The knife was already gone. No state between being there and completely out of sight, just a blink between them. Javy had let go off Pollinus' arm, the guard taking the hand back to his lap.

    "We're not open yet," said one of the two men. He glanced towards the other for confirmation.

    "Can we help you?" called out a much more confident voice. Javy Rutland turned in his chair to face the newcomer. Aurra remained hunched over. A small slip of a girl watching events out of the corner of her eye.
     
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  13. Saul Talith

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    Perhaps they'd been sleeping on the job.

    Though as Saul stood within the doorway he was more than keenly aware of the two men moving ahead of him, his fingers tightening on the pommel of his sword. He knew from a single glance he was outnumbered, but the truth of that would have been obvious to even a child.

    The others would be well over a block away now, too far to hear if he decided to raise his voice. "My mistake."

    Saul said quietly.

    "Been on a long journey." He explained. "Was looking for some of the comforts of home."

    It was a bold faced lie of course, but they didn't need to know that.

    Saul tensed slightly as he stood there, taking a small step back just in case they attempted to get behind him and block the door.
     
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  14. Anima

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    A loud intersection.

    The clomping of hooves as horses pulled a small line of covered wagons south. She waited patiently for them to pass. A group of five working men came out a shop on the corner, each with heavy sacks of grain or fruit or vegetables in their arms. They each turned sharply and headed west. The lead man said back to the rest, "Come on, boys. Last load for the night. Let's go. Daylight's burnin'."

    The horses and wagons past her now, Anima could turn and walk east. Facing the dark blue and black and gray of the night and the slowly approaching rain. Her shadow was gone. The low-hanging sun obscured by a cloud or one building or another behind her.

    And she walked. Not much farther to the Church.

    Perhaps she had acted in haste or foolishness. To end her masquerade as Lydia so soon. She had ample time left, another three weeks if she had so chosen to take it. Surely, whatever awaited her at the Church, it would have been easier to interact with as Lydia. Surely still, to do so as Lydia would have been powerful emotionally. A heady mixture. But it had seemed so complete, so right, to end the masquerade this day. Her murder avenged, her husband's tearful parting words, what better time was there?

    And she walked. Past a cobbler's shop named The Unconquered Boot, a large and nondescript building for housing wares, an inn named the Wizard's Hat, a small open-air market area, all of the merchants having packed up their items and gone home for the day.

    Her eyes trailed from that small market, back down to her boots, then forward, and then, slowly, up.

    And she stopped.

    The sky was different. The colors of dusk gone. The brightest stars and bulk of clouds gone. Replaced with a deep and endless black. Still. At first. But as she gazed into it, she saw that it was moving. Sliding over and under itself. Twisting and writhing methodically. Like a pit of snakes.

    The sounds of the world fell away. Muted and dull and distant. As if she were rising up and far from the world. Taken by the abyss in the sky. And she heard it. Quiet, at first. Growing louder. The rustling and shifting. The brushing and scratching. The living black was not a pit of snakes. And as her eyes grew wider and she helplessly peered deeper, she saw it at last. The mass of feathers. Undulating, like maggots in a gaping wound. A feeding frenzy. An insatiable hunger.

    And the feathers ripped open. Parting as if a deity had torn the sky asunder. Revealing the eye of the Crow.

    Watching her.

    The Crow bears witness to the ruin of men. And feasts on their dark hearts.

    Anima dropped down to her knees on the side of the street. Slapped her hands over her eyes and bowed her head and clenched her teeth and strained her face and quivered with an ancient fear. She breathed rapidly through her nose. In. Out. In. Out. In. Out.

    It seemed she was falling, but she still felt the hard road against her legs. The sensation faded with time, and the sounds of the world came back to her.

    And all was as it should be again. Nothing had happened. But the fear still gripped her heart.

    She let her hands slide down from the face. Looked up to the sky.

    Stars. And clouds. The coming night.

    Nothing watching.
     
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  15. Aurra

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    The silence seemed to stretch out. No one moved towards Saul, but neither did they open a path for him. Javy gave Aurra a sidelong glance that suggested she was going to be sent following the armoured man.

    "He had been stabbed in the chest and mangled all round the neck," said Pollinus hurriedly. The guard tried to take advantage of the silence in the hope that he could avoid having a knife through the palm of his hand.

    Javy stared daggers at the man, but only briefly. He wasn't the quickest, but there was an animal cunning to the darkest member of the powerful family.

    "Are you a templar?" he called out towards Saul. "If so you do look like you could do with a good meal and an ale."

    Aurra shifted uncomfortably in her seat. She didn't know where Javy was heading with this but it wasn't her place to question.

    Saul Talith Anima
     
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  16. Saul Talith

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    Saul glanced at the man that had spoken, frowning slightly, then let his eyes wander towards the other man.

    Suspicion faded into his skin, crawling up his spine and marking him. None of these people seemed to be of the particularly friendly variety, something evidenced by the man pinned to the table. A frown touched the Templar's lips, his hand still resting on the pommel of the sword.

    "Aye." He answered. "Templar."

    It would have been enough for most people to give him a wide berth, but he doubted it would be the same here. "A meal sounds fine."

    In truth it did, though he would have preferred Berick's cooking to any found in an Allirian Inn.

    Saul knew that he should just have kept walking, that it would have been the smart thing to do. Now he found himself in a situation where he was pressed into the edge of things. He doubted he could fight these men, even at his best it would have been a struggle to take them all on.

    Still, he didn't budge from his place, tension filling him.
     
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  17. Anima

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    She stayed there for a while. Down on her knees by the side of the street, as if she were praying or meditating. Drawing curious and puzzled looks from passersby. Gathering her strength and her wits again. She could smell it now. More than before. The night's rain. Coming closer.

    It had happened again. The sign. The crow. The certainty that she was being watched. And it was happening more and more often. At first, she had been fascinated by them, as she had been while travelling with Rollo in the Eretejva Tundra. Thought them mere hallucinations. But they were becoming more invasive. More taxing to witness. Each one seemingly closer than the last. As if something were tracking her, hunting her, through a means she could not explain or even comprehend. Was it Mother? Or...?

    Or.

    Listen.

    Anima closed her eyes. Opened them fiercely. Banished the memory.

    She stood. Her legs shaky, but holding. Swallowed the bitter anxiety, the choking pressure in her throat. Just stood for another while. Regained her composure.

    She shouldn't have ended the masquerade so soon. It was understood now. For every time the sign and the crow appeared, she had not been wearing the face of another. Perhaps sanctuary could be found inside skin that was not her own. Once a life to live had been stolen. Could it be?

    The Church of Many Divines wasn't far. Just down this street.

    Maybe someone would be there.

    Her hand lightly graced the hilt of her shortsword. Fell back to her side.

    And she started walking.
     
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  18. Aurra

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    "Pogo! Get the man a table and some food!" Jay called out. Aurra was still confused as to why Javy was invited the Templar inside. She was on edge now, waiting for the moment the unhinged man did something drastic. Perhaps he would garotte the Templar while he ate in front of everyone. She kept her hands below the table, tightly clasped together.

    Pogo emerged from behind the bar. He was a mute and he could not write. That made up for his table manners in making him perfect for this inn. He offered Saul a seat and placed a piece of wood with dishes crudely drawn onto it. He tapped twice and waited.

    "Back to business. You were with the guards who first arrived. No forced doors, no broken windows. Our associated was left with one stab wound to the heart and had his neck bitten up?"

    Now she saw where he was going. She doubted a vampire was involved in this but Javy - as unsubtle as he was - thought there was an opportunity to get the Templars involved in this. They were criminals, not investigators.
     
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  19. Saul Talith

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    Saul made his way to one of the tables, directed by a man apparently named 'pogo'.

    He kept a hand on his sword of course, if only because his paranoia was about as strong as possible at this point. There were few things that set him off, but this situation drove a knife through his gut. Something was clearly going on here that wasn't on the level. That much was obvious even to a blind man.

    Still, he wasn't part of the City Watch. Hell he wasn't even an Allirian Ranger. The Templar had absolutely no civic or even military authority within Alliria. If he started something he was just as likely to be thrown in jail as the people doing something wrong.

    A result of his Orders reputation.

    It had arguably been earned of course, but that was centuries ago now. Not that he would ever point it out to anyone who argued with him about it. Mostly because he knew that it wouldn't have any effect.

    Just a few seconds after seating himself Saul 'overheard' the conversation at the table. The man was about as subtle as a brick to the back of the head, and he was clearly attempting to lead Saul somewhere. The only trouble with it was...why?
     
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  20. Anima

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    A few minutes' walk. And she stood before the Church of Many Divines.

    A small building, structurally not much different from the two on its left and right. It very well could have been a shop once. Repurposed now. The mundane made holy because of some fresh paint on the forward-facing windows and the say-so of its tiny congregation. An exercise in delusion. As if someone had tried stitching together the bones of a bird and tried to make it fly.

    A sign above the door. It read:

    Grace to those who enter
    And blessings from All

    Anima placed her hand on the door. No knob or lock, just a handle. Church doors were always inviting. Beckoning. Come, children, let us huddle together.

    She pushed it open. Stepped inside.

    Dim. What little sunlight of dusk there was filtered in through the thin paint of the windows and cast an array of color along the walls and floor. A few rows of pews, and a lot of space and rugs toward the back of the singular room.

    And no one inside.

    Anima stepped forward, the letter in her right hand and the fingers of her left gliding over the smooth wood of each pew as she passed. She sat down in the front row of pews, next to the aisle. Placing her hands in her lap and sitting straight.

    And she waited. The trepidation from her vision fading.

    Smiling. A thought. The Church of Many Divines. Could the people who flocked to this little church even conceive of such a notion? Of being subjected to the presence of a divine thing, a great and terrible thing? The crushing, overpowering awe and horror of it? Of seeing, for the first time, how infinitesimally small and insignificant you truly were? How all your love and pain and hope and sorrow ultimately amounted to nothing? How this grand play of life, this drama of everyone and everything you could know, was an ever-shrinking mote of dust--not fit even to burn--next to an ever-growing sun. And they saw fit to worship such a thing? Lambs, willingly throwing themselves into a maw the size of the world. A maw that only hungered, and gave them not even the dignity of notice, even as they were chewed and swallowed.

    A costly lesson. Forced upon her. That Great did not mean good.

    The sound of the door. Air shifting.

    Anima looked back over her shoulder.

    A figure. Standing in the doorway.
     
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  21. Aurra

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    "Not a big wound either," Pollinus said, desperate to add some value to his account now. Most criminals would not risk seriously harming a guard, but Javy was not most criminals. The guard wasn't too discrete about knocking down someone's door and giving them a shoeing for hurting a guardsman, regardless of proof. But Javy had an unpredictable temperament and the influence to smooth over his outbursts. His eyes turned to Aurra. He had seen that little blade appearing suddenly in her pale, slender fingers.

    "Aurra?" Javy asked.

    "Sounds professional, but the biting is just weird."

    "Fuck me, who taught you the word professional?" Javy asked rhetorically.

    "Oi, big man! You're a templar right? Know anything about vampires?" Javy called out.
     
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  22. Saul Talith

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    Saul looked up from his meal, if one could even call it that.

    Unconsciously he knew that this was some sort of grand plan on the part of the other man, though just what that was Saul had no idea. There weren't many options at this point, and for now the Lord Captain decided that it was simply best to play along. For now anyway.

    "I do." He stated plainly.

    Vampire's were perhaps one of the more difficult monsters to actually find and kill.

    They were a disease, quite literally, and one that the Broken Sword in particular had studied. Ana and Myrelle had attempted to find a cure for vampirism, though they had as of yet not been successful in their quest.

    In his five years as a Commander within the Templar there had been two Vampire's in Alliria alone. Neither of them had been easy to find, and once they'd been hunted down the creatures had not gone down easily.

    Was there another?

    The prospect was enough to make his stomach churn.
     
  23. Anima

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    "Anima? That you?"

    And he stepped into the church.

    Anima stood. Smiled. And said, "Mikos. You bring a pleasant surprise."

    Mikos Stradivar. Of some twenty years, with a man's body and a boy's face. Blue eyes. Soft blonde hair. Delightful. She had shadowed him some years ago, before she had foolishly trekked all the way from Alliria to the Eretejva Tundra and the edge of the world in a flight of fear. Perhaps he was still now as he was then: a jack-of-all-trades. A mercenary of small and odd jobs, an extra pair of arms for labor and an extra pair of legs for delivering things to and fro.

    She walked up the aisle toward him. And he held his hands up. Said, "Alright, alright, that's close enough. And keep your hands to yourself."

    Still didn't like to be touched. A shame. To shelter that luscious hair. That firm skin.

    "May you say why you are here? Coincidence, perhaps?" she said.

    He sighed. Rubbed his forehead. "I shoulda known someone like you'd be wrapped up in this."

    Anima tiled her head, her hair waving with it. "Wrapped up in what?"

    Mikos pointed. "That the letter?"

    She held it up as she said, "And you are 'M', aren't you?"

    "Lydia give you that?"

    "No."

    "Well you have it."

    "You do have it."

    Mikos narrowed his eyes. Spread his arms in agitated confusion. "Did...you wanna tell me how you got it?"

    "You found it."

    A smacking noise with his tongue and lips. "Anima, can you do me a favor?"

    "Of course..."

    "Can you say 'I' for me?"

    She blinked. Smiled. And said, "I."

    "No. Not," he sighed. "Not like that. Don't just repeat me. Use it, you know, the right way. Whatever. Nevermind. Talk the way you're gonna talk. Just tell me why you're here instead of Lydia."

    "Lydia is dead."

    His eyes grew wide. A sudden fear and a panic, like a lightning bolt striking a tree and making it burst into flame. He took two steps back, then spun around and ran out of the church and started down the street. The way she had come moments before.

    Anima craned and cracked her neck, laughed quietly to herself, and then broke out into a sprint after him.
     
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  24. Aurra

    Member
    Aurra Member

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2018
    Messages:
    19
    Character Biography:
    Bio
    Javy looked distinctly pleased with himself. Aurra was glad to some extent too. This meant that not only was Javy not going to start some brutal violence before her eyes again but that she was likely to be able to leave the situation entirely. She didn't want to be tasked with trying to bring in a skilled assassin.

    Unfortunately she only got half of her wish. Javy reached towards her. She tried not to flinch as he placed a hand on her shoulder and drew her closer to whisper words she didn't want to hear. His grip on her was uncomfortably warm, his breath was hot and smelled of port.

    She nodded her understanding and went to leave the inn. Javy turned towards Saul.

    "My good friend here is a corporal in the town guard. There isn't a chance you could go with him and rule out the...supernatural?" Javy asked politely.



    The pair would arrive at the house at almost the same time as a wagon carrying two well dressed men. The faded white and black strips on the logo of the cart gave away their purpose: they had come for the body to prepare it for a funeral. There were no longer any guards on the upper levels of the house. Just Aurra, who had already gone ahead as tasked, found the route used by the killer and entered the home.
     
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  25. Saul Talith

    Member
    Saul Talith Templar

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2018
    Messages:
    651
    Character Biography:
    Bio
    "So how is the City Watch these days?" Saul asked as he peered at the home they were walking towards, attempting to make conversation.

    His wounds were still bothering him, and in the back of his mind he worried about what would happen if this really did turn out to be one of the bloodborn.

    A fight was out of the question at this point. On a good day the blighted were near impossible to kill, and...well this was most definitely not a good day. If it turned out this was really a Vampire he would have to go back to the Compound and get a few reinforcements.

    Myrelle would do, she'd always loved hunting the filthy bloodsuckers.

    He'd never really understood why.

    As the pair of men continued to step forward the two well dressed men glanced over, one of them frowning deeply as he spotted the Templar approaching.
     
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