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Topics - Kingsley OConnor

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1
Sweet Crusades / The Clutch of Faith
« on: January 02, 2014, 07:04:19 AM »
"How is it proceeding?"

"The mark has taken."

"And?"

"It's not fading away."

"Good. Have you received any information yet?"

"Yes."

"What has it told you?"

"That she is one."

"As we thought. Good work, brother."

...

"What is it?"

"There's more."

"So tell me."

"She is one of The Three."

...

"Bring her in."

2
Sweet Crusades / A Diary
« on: May 13, 2013, 09:54:04 AM »
May 8th, 2013

I don?t understand any of this. None of it makes any sense.

Minoko told me that Sai has taken some of my memories. When I confronted him, he didn?t deny it.

How could he think that this was alright? How could he believe that this would be the best thing for me, that he had the right?

I don?t know what Quill had to do with any of it, or Logan or Brent or Kil or any of them. Do they all know that I?ve had my memories taken? Of course they do. They?re my family. But how could they all just stand there and say it was okay? What if it was their memories that were going to be taken and not mine? Would they still have let him do it?

No.

Why does everyone in this family think it?s okay to make all of my decisions for me?

I used to be young. I used to be a kid. I used to not understand the things that were happening to me. But now I?m twenty, well past the age of being considered an adult. I still feel young sometimes, sure, and I really don?t know all that much about the world, I?ll admit that. But does that really give the right to everyone else to still decide what?s best for me? Shouldn?t
I be the one who does that now?

I just don?t know.

I feel completely lost.

Things keep popping up in my head. Things I feel like I should remember but I don?t. At least not entirely. I feel like I remember them, for a couple of seconds, but then it just? goes away again. But there?s always these lingering feelings, things I guess I used to feel when I had once lived this memories.

I remember a boy.

He had two different colored eyes and red hair.

I miss him.

...but I also hate him.

I don?t even know who this boy
is but I hate him anyway. Every time I remember him I feel like my heart?s getting ripped out and torn to shreds. It makes me want to scream and cry all at the same time, and I don?t even remember why. I don?t even know if I want to remember.

...do I even have a choice?

3
Sweet Crusades / Church of Secrets
« on: December 07, 2012, 03:09:57 PM »
Kingsley stared up at the large ominous steeple, towering over her even though half of it was crumbled to less than dust. The large bell housed within was darkened with age, its outer shell pitted and the unused clapper encased in rust. The ropes below dangled short, long ago rotted away, and the stone encompassing the once beloved talisman of faith seemed more the result of stubborn defiance than any act of a miracle meant to keep it safe.

She should have remembered this church. She should have recalled what it looked like, who she had brought there, what dangers lied within. She should have remembered when she had once fled from it, terror rising in her throat, clinging to someone else?s neck as they ran from the fear that had manifested inside. She should have remembered it all.

But she didn?t.

It was the only reason she was standing at its entrance once again.

"I wonder what?s in there," she whispered to absolutely no one, for she stood alone atop of the wind-battered cliffside, a tiny dot of color amidst a backdrop of grayscale sky. Her hands fidgeted, both tucked safely into the singular pocket of her hoodie, fingernails click-flicking against one another while radiant eyes stared wide at the foreboding structure.

Should she go in? Should she turn away? Should she stand there for another fifteen minutes just staring at the abandoned building? How had she gotten there anyway? Why had she come? She honestly didn?t know.

Something about the place called to her. Something... inside that she couldn?t quite place. Was it a memory? Had she been there before but just didn't remember? Or was it one of those funny feelings you get sometimes, like when you meet someone you've never seen before but it feels like you?ve known them for forever? It bothered her, that funny feeling curling up and around and over itself in her stomach, twisting like an angry snake. But it unsettled her more because she couldn?t place it. The actual sensation was enticing. It was tempting her, making her want to go inside, to see what all the fuss was about. Easily convinced, she started to walk toward the broken door.

"Come."

She stopped. Was that... Did she... A voice had called out to her, the softest of whispers across the cusp of her ear. It had come from the church -- that much was for certain -- but there was no one else there.

Was there?

Receding a couple of steps, she looked around. The hairs along the back of her neck and her arms began to prickle and a sudden night wind cut up the face of the cliff, lashing at her and washing her over with a flood of cold. Loosing all conviction, she turned and started away. If the church was talking to her, maybe she shouldn?t be there. Not now. Not alone.

The thing was, she hadn?t been from the start.

4
Sweet Crusades / The Songs of Crusades
« on: July 05, 2012, 04:37:04 PM »
This is the place to list lyrics, link songs, share themes or whatever! Anything music-based goes here. Have fun with it!

5
Sweet Crusades / Places of Interest
« on: July 05, 2012, 04:33:39 PM »
For any of those little niches you think deserve a shout out or need a little bit of describing. And feel free to add pictures if you've got any!

6
Sweet Crusades / Roll Call!
« on: July 05, 2012, 04:18:09 PM »
This is the place to list any and all of the characters, PC or NPC, that you feel have a place somewhere in our stories. Give a couple of notes, an entire history, a brief profile, a photo, whatever you'd like! The more, the merrier, in both numbers as well as depth of detail.

So... have at!

7
Sweet Crusades / OOC Conversation
« on: July 05, 2012, 04:10:14 PM »
This is the spot for OOC chitchat. Feel free to stop in, say hello, leave a comment, or whatever! We're always happy to have visitors. :)

8
Sweet Crusades / Letters for Home
« on: June 29, 2012, 10:00:22 AM »
Dear Mom and Dad,

It feels like forever since I?ve seen you. Then again, it kind of has. Three years is a long time for a girl not to see her parents, or at least I think so. I?ve met a lot of new people here, most of which don?t know their parents or don?t have them anymore. I can?t imagine that - not being able to see either of you ever again. I know I sound silly, but I don?t even like to think about the day when it has to happen.
   
Sorry. What a way to start a letter, huh? Let me try again.
   
Living here in RhyDin has been good, for the most part. But I?m sure - certain - that you?ve talked with everyone else and they?ve told you a bunch of what?s happened, and I?m just as sure that not all of it has been good. But I?m happy. I really am. Not with everything that?s happened, no, but? I feel like I can actually belong here, you know? I have friends, or at least still a few, and I even have a job. I feel like I actually belong. For once.
   
Working at the horse stable has been one of the best experiences of my life so far. I?ve learned so much in just this past year (Has it been a year already? I can?t believe it.) and have become such a better rider than I was when I first started. I?ve only fallen off once, and even that wasn?t so bad. I guess the trick, as they say, is just to ?get back on?. I did, and am so happy for it. I?m thinking about asking if I can trade in my work to lease one of their horses, Tumble. He?s a sweet Palomino and I just adore him. There?s something in his eyes, a sort of kindness that you don?t see in every horse. I think he likes me.
   
Otherwise, I haven?t been doing too much. I sing with everyone whenever we do shows, but we haven?t been doing that too much lately. I guess it?s because everyone?s so busy. Logan?s still working on that huge church on the north side of town and Quill keeps herself busy doing? whatever she does. I don?t see Kil much, or Brent, but I know that Brent has a girlfriend now so I really can?t blame him. Can you imagine that? Brent with a girlfriend? Like, a real one. Who would have thought? Haha. Donny and Rebecca are doing great, just busy, and the kids love living here. And of course Jamie likes being here. He can?t be unhappy anywhere.
   
I guess I kind of envy them. They all have something that they?re doing. Me? All I do is sit around all day, doing nothing. I just can?t seem to help it. I used to help with the deliveries for a church nearby, but after? I guess they just don?t need my help anymore. So all I really do is go to the stable or sit at home, or sometimes go hang out at the Red Dragon Inn (Don?t worry, it?s not a bad place. Ask Quill.). It?s kind of hard to do anything else. I either get told to stay here at the house or go out, but even then I get told not to go too far. It?s worse than when I lived back home and had a curfew, except now it?s Quill that makes all the rules and she?s just terrible.
   
Anyway, I?m sure you?ve heard about my friend. His name is Toby. Toby Aradam. He's? We dated for awhile. I think we kind of are again? I don?t know. I never got the chance to really ask. I guess I should have?
   
He?s a sweet boy. Guy. Whatever. He?s really nice. He has this bright orange hair that everyone back home would love, although he isn?t Irish. He isn?t anything. Not that we know about anyway. He came from this other world (I?m sure you know about RhyDin and how different worlds can intersect and live together here) but has been living here for a couple of years. He really seems to have a life cut out for him here. Everyone knows him, everyone calls him by his name. Pretty much everyone likes him. He?s the one that does the deliveries for the church I talked about. Or at least, he did?
   
I?ve been talking about him in the present tense this entire time? God, I really miss him?
   
Sorry about that. Had to? take a break. Anyway, Toby?s gone now. He's dead. And my friend May is gone too. I don?t really know where she is other than I guess she went back to her own world to take care of some things. I thought she was only supposed to be gone for a couple of days, but it?s been weeks. Maybe even longer. I really miss her. She was like a sister to me. We even called each other that. I really hope that she?s okay.
   
Aside from all of that, there is some good in the friend department! I met this girl, woman, not that long ago. Her name is Minoko. She?s from Japan but forever ago. Does that make her really old? Haha, I don?t think so. She?s only about 25 or so, I think, but she doesn?t seem to mind that I?m a couple years younger. She?s super funny and so down to earth. I really like spending time with her. She owns another tavern in town, too. It?s called ?The Black Scorpion?. I?ve been there once and it was really nice. It has this old-world feeling to it that I just love. She?s asked me to help her by working there. I think I may, if only to spend more time with her and get out of the house. I guess the only thing I have to wait for is for Sai to check it out. You know how he gets sometimes, especially about bars. But I think he?ll let me work there. He seems to like Minoko too.
   
Well I guess that?s about it for my story so far. Like I said, there?s been a lot of good and a lot of not so good things happening. But I guess that?s just how things work in life and you just have to bear the weight.
   
You should come visit sometime! I know everyone else would love that, but especially me. Or maybe we can all come home for a week or two now that it?s summer. I do miss home.
   
I love you, Mom and Dad, and hope you?re doing well! Write when you can. I know it?s tricky to get letters here but, I?d love to hear from you.

Love Always,
Your little Kingsley

9
Sweet Crusades / Seeing Ghosts
« on: May 16, 2012, 04:11:02 PM »
She had been riding her bicycle for almost the entire day. Something about just cruising through empty streets and weaving through busy crowds set the Irish girl?s mind at ease, letting all of the stress seep out of her usually strict shoulders and tense facial features relax into a neutral state.

It was well past midday, the sun seeking out its harbor in the distant horizon so that evening could cast its spell across the city. Kingsley was walking beside her bike down a long stretch of barren road, its only other occupants the occasional car that came zipping down the street at speeds that made her wince.

Cars still reminded her of that bitter night three years ago when her family had lost Brandon. She had gotten over it, for the most part, but even so... Memories could still sometimes hurt.

Turning her bike to head down another empty tract of pavement, she idly kicked a few pebbles as they came underfoot. She glanced up when she heard the roar of an engine in front of her, a sleek black car turning the corner sharp before slamming gas into its works.

Pursing her lips, she moved over as far as she could on the sidewalk. Drivers like that always bothered her. Why did you need a car that sounded like a monster? And why did you need to speed down a street like the devil was on your tail? It never made any sense to her. It?s why she had never bothered getting her license.

She had gone only a handful of steps before she heard something from behind. No, not really heard, more like felt. Her pace slowed and she looked over one shoulder. Standing there in the middle of the road was a tall, lanky boy wearing faded jeans and a plain white t-shirt. Only the steel blue of his left eye was visible as the fall of bright orange fell over the right. It was a characteristic of his that she knew only too well.

"Toby."

The name was a near whisper, as if saying it any louder would have taken too much time, too much effort. Kingsley looked back to her left, to the oncoming car still speeding down the one-way strip, then back to her right and the boy just standing there, staring at her with an expression that even she couldn?t read.

Left, right, back again. It was like a scene from a bad horror flick, one that had a horrendously awful ending, leaving you feeling hollow, gaping and gouged out inside and wanting nothing more than to curl up into a ball and cry your eyes out.

This is not what she wanted to be seeing. This is not where she wanted to be.

Shoving her bike away from her, she launched herself to the right.

"Toby!"

The scream was supposed to be hers but it sounded more like a roar, deep and guttural and nothing at all like the sweet little Irish voice the girl normally possessed. Her muscles, while usually lithe and mildly toned, shot into overdrive, shifting within the flash of mere seconds and causing the thin fabric of dark jeans to bulge, straining against elastic threads.

She barreled toward the boy, racing against the car and, miraculously, won the fight. She would have been out of the way of it, too, if she hadn?t stumbled when her body discovered that there was no person standing there to counter her. Her momentum was lost, her feet fumbling up, her outstretched arms circling in only to find that no one was caught within them.

A look of sheer surprise glassed across her face as she fell, knees first, toward the hardened gravel. It was still there when she turned her head to look at the car speeding toward her, its paint gleaming and the failing sunlight glinting off the pristine windshield.

This is not what she wanted to be seeing. This is not where she wanted to be.

Both her look and the window shattered as the vehicle crashed into her.

10
Sweet Crusades / A Spark in the Dark
« on: November 12, 2011, 02:22:38 PM »
[size=9](Written with Jonas)[/size]

Setting: The Red Dragon Inn

She couldn?t stay in anymore. She had to get out. Where as the other night her family?s house offered itself as a refuge, it quickly took on its past feelings of a prison and that, right now, wouldn?t do. Her countenance was worried and her brow wrought with crinkles, her face downcast and her tiny body huddled in on itself. Quick steps brought her straight to the porch steps and up them, making directly for the front door. A hard push with a shoulder and she gained entrance. The bar was her intended destination.

It was approached quickly and, with little to no barrier between them, she didn?t hesitate at all while en route. There was a quick glance upward, eyes bouncing all around, but Kingsley knew that the one she was looking for, and was the most scared to find, wasn?t there. She didn?t know how, but she knew. With not even the faintest smile to the few semi-familiar faces she saw, distress enough to sap from her every last bit of joy, her attention went hastily back to the floor. Soon enough the bar stools stood at attention in front of her and the Irish girl claimed one for herself, slipping atop of it and turning toward the bar proper, her frown aimed to its top.

He had seen her enter, that petite little thing of a girl, and he had watched as she strode straight across the main room until she plunked herself, lamely, atop of a lonely stool. He continued to stare at her then, confident that she wouldn?t be able to feel his eyes upon her and that no one else would even care. Despair was like a fog around her, he didn?t need special eyes to see that. Disturbingly, it brought a small smile to his face. It faded as he stood from his empty booth and made way for the bar, redirecting his course only so that he ended up taking the fork through the break.

?Having a rough day there, are you?? His voice was like rough gold, level but deep, eyes of blue sliding sideways so that he could see the girl as he stepped past her on his side of the counter. His goal was to take up an empty kettle, to pop off the whistler and fill it up with water.

The voice was such a shock to her, she actually jumped. Eyes akin to a frightened deer blinked widely as she looked from the bar top and her invisible mirror of misery up to find a man moving by her. Oh. He couldn?t be talking to her, could he? Why would he? But his eyes were on her.. Weren?t they? Oh yes, they were certainly on her. ?I-I?? She felt like she hadn?t spoken in weeks, cobwebs and dust sticking to her throat. She cleared it, tried again. ?Yeah?? Wow, what an answer, Kingsley. Well spoken.

He smirked, popping the cap back onto the kettle as he moved toward the stove. ?Sadness isn?t a feature meant to be on your face.? He looked up at her from behind a fall of honest blonde, setting the kettle to boil. ?You?re too pretty for that.?

The blush was instant and involuntary, lashes batting fanatically like wings as her eyes diverted away from him, finding an empty patch of counter to land upon. ?U-Uh? Th-Thank you,? she stammered, taken completely by surprise. Her current handicap of being miserable made the fight against the sudden flush a no-contest. She felt like she was going to be red for a month.

He chuckled, moving away again to fetch a large, hand-made ceramic mug from somewhere. From another small cupboard he began picking out loose herbs, tucking them into an empty tea ball. With the way he moved back there, it was almost like he had been there all along. ?So what?s got such a pretty face looking so down, hm?? He glanced at her every now and then, watching her just as carefully as he was his own hands at work.

His question brought forth a fresh frown, a hard and distinct downward curve of her mouth. It looked wrong, even with the pain nestled deep in her eyes. (q)?Nothin?..? Because that was the best answer, ever, she could give. Everyone would believe that one? Right?

He smirked again, shaking his head as he set the tea-laden cup over to one side. The kettle was starting to whistle so he took it up, pouring boiling water over the full tea ball. ??Nothing? doesn?t really seem like the right answer. A blind man could see how miserable you are.? Setting the kettle aside, he next added a fair share of honey. ?Did you get into a fight with someone?,? he asked, looking up at her as he placed the steaming mug in front of her. ?Break up with a boy??

She had still been staring at that oh-so interesting part of the counter but at his last question, her eyes shot up. If she didn?t verbally hand over the answer, those eyes certainly did. Her frown took on the slight hint of a pout, any determination on her face crumbling as her gaze sank down to the cup set in front of her. Still silent, both hands reached out to encompass the ceramic mug, lifting it toward her lips. As the steam hit her nose and the scents filled her senses, her eyes, again, darted up. A look of puzzlement echoed along her brow but she didn?t put voice to it. Instead one set of fingers curled, nails scratching noiselessly against the glaze. ?Y-Yeah? Somethin? like that..?

A quiet chuckle came from him as he leaned forward, resting his weight on folded forearms that planted themselves atop of the bar. ?You know what I do when someone gets into a fight with me? Forget ?em. Sure, if I?m in the wrong and I figure that out, I?ll apologize, try to make things right. But if they?re the one that?s in the hot seat and they don?t come after me, apology in hand, we?re done.?

Kingsley?s face screwed up as she listened to him, but otherwise she just blew gently down onto her tea. Her gaze was too busy being fixated on the tiny ripples her breath was making to discover the color of his eyes. It was a good thing, too. She didn?t really think she would be able to lock eyes with someone for a good long while. (q)?That sounds kind of harsh..?

He grinned, just leaning there, watching her. ?Yeah, maybe. But sometimes that?s just the ways things have to go. Otherwise all you do is get hurt and if you don?t take care of yourself, you?re going to have a hard time finding someone else to do it for you.? His head angled slightly to one side, eyeing her. ?But then again, that?s what boyfriends are supposed to do, right??

How did he know? How did this stranger find out? This was the second time he had hinted at it and, both times, her heart jumped. She was trying desperately to get it back under control, swallowing down the swelling lump in her throat. He was probably just guessing, correctly, even though she really wished he wasn?t. (q)?Yeah,? she said down into her tea, ?I guess so.? With that, she gave the drink a tiny sip.

There?d be the faintest grin ghosting as he watched the tiny girl fluster by way of his words, a secretive gleam within crystalline eyes. He left it alone though, letting her savor the taste of honey and herbs in silence before he ventured to say anything else. ?Do you like the tea??

She nodded, swallowing down that first sip before quickly taking another, licking her lips. (q)?It?s really good.? She didn?t tell him how she had initially freaked out because of what kind he had made. After all, lots of people drank tea. It wasn?t at all that surprising that someone else just happened to like the same exact kind as her; chamomile and lavender with a precise hint of honey. Milk or cream was absent from the concoction and Kingsley bit her lip. It was a bittersweet realization, enough to bring a sting to her eyes. (q)?It?s one of my favorites. Thank you.?

He grinned, pretending that he didn?t see the sudden onslaught of hurtful memory that blatantly coated her face. ?You?re welcome.? He didn?t add in the part that he had already known. Shifting enough to unfold an arm, he reached a hand out toward her. ?I?m Jonas,? he said. His eyes held a subtle amount of expectancy, careful hope.

She stared at the outstretched hand for what felt like a very long time. It was, in fact, only a couple of seconds, but to her it seemed like hours. Swallowing even though she hadn?t taken another sip of tea, she slowly unfurled a hand. Tentatively, she reached for his, harpist fingers and a tiny palm easily fitting two-fold inside of his. ?Kingsley.? Shockingly, she swore she could feel the barest hint of a smile. ?Or just Kings. Either way is fine with me.?

Pay no attention to the man who just swallowed a mouthful of hope. ?Kingsley.? He said her name as if it were gold, his smile adding to the dot of the ?i? a diamond. ?That?s a beautiful name. Unique. It fits you.? His fingers wrapped warmly, protectively, around her much smaller hand. He made no indication of being the first to let go.

Another blush was dumped like a bucket of warm water over her head, the color a fine hue of rosy red against cream. ?Thank you..? Her voice was soft, mild, a perfect match for the shade of her cheeks. Once realizing that he was in no hurry to let go, she retracted her hand rather abruptly, a shy smile offered in way of a wordless apology as she, again, wrapped her fingers around the warm mug. ?So? Do you live here?? It was a feeble attempt to not fall into an awkward silence. She really hoped that it worked.

He watched her, amused, wearing a docile grin. He liked how she looked then, quiet and sweet. It made him wonder what sort of monster could ever hurt such a person. Well, then again? ?Yeah. Well, I do now. Just moved here, actually. Seemed like an interesting place.? For the first time since he started talking to her, he spared the rest of the room a glance. It was short-lived, though. What was sitting right in front of him was much more interesting. ?What about you??

She nodded. ?Yeah. I?ve been here for a couple of months. Since the summer. I really like it. Well?? As she trailed off, her face lost its fragile luster. But she was determined, for some reason, to gain it back again, even just for the short time while she was here. She would have plenty of time to wallow once she got home. ?I?m here with my family. It?s nice havin? them around.? Her cup hovered closer, taking another sip.

?Ah, I see.? He watched her take that sip, so carefully, and he could see the glisten it left behind on her lips. Blue eyes fixed there, just for a few seconds. ?So you?re not from around here either.? Gaze flicked up, properly finding her eyes again even if she didn?t like to find his. ?You?re from Ireland, right??

At the mention of her homeland, her face lit up. Wide green eyes did indeed find his, all at once tossing aside any suggestion of shyness or sorrow-born shame. ?Yeah, I am,? she said, already a smile spreading slow across her lips. ?You know it?? The hope she placed in that question was painfully plain to hear.

He laughed, shaking his head as his face turned toward the counter. The edges of his smile were hidden beneath the rough bristles of facial hair. ?Yeah, I know of it.? He kept on chuckling, still shaking his head. He lifted it, though, to look at her. He was glad he did. Her smile was golden. ?I?ve been there too. A couple of times. Up in Sligo, Dublin, Galway, and a few times down in Cork.? Even after his laughter had died, he couldn?t keep that grin from lingering. Not like he didn?t want it to.

?Cork? You?ve been to County Cork?? As if there was any other ?Cork? in Ireland. Kingsley, for the first time in over forty eight hours, was pleasantly stunned. Actually, it had been a much longer time since any stun she had received had been pleasant, but that was beside the point. ?When? Why? What for? Did you go to Ballincollig? How long did you stay? What was your favorite part?? The questions were fired out like from a six-shooter, her tea, and her misery, for the most part, forgotten.

Again, he laughed. How could he not when she was getting all excited like this? ?Yeah, County Cork. Awhile back. I?ve got a few friends there I like to visit from time to time. Haven?t been in awhile though and I doubt I could tell you any specific places.? His chuckle was quiet, taking a moment to enjoy the sudden burst of mirth that had taken over her. Lifting a hand, he sent long fingers back through long blonde, shifting it in a way that the degrees of shades varied. ?The landscape was probably the best part of it, aside from seeing my friends. Ireland?s a beautiful place. Wouldn?t mind going back there again sometime.? A nearby torch crackled, the fickle light setting a gleam within peculiar eyes.

This time around, she couldn?t explain the blush. It was more tamed this time, of which she was thankful, and it probably was hard to discern with such rough lighting. She smiled though, half-hiding it behind her mug. ?I?m glad you liked it there,? she said against the rim. ?It really is someplace special.? The sip she took was slow, meant to give her time for thought. Also, she?d admit only to herself, it was meant to give her time to bask in this new-found pleasantness. She knew it wouldn?t last long. In the morning, she knew, sorrow would come over her all over again.

When the cup lowered, slender fingers laced through the curving loop of a handle, and at a sudden, dull chime, she glanced up at the clock behind the bar. The frown that came wasn?t as harsh as the ones before, but it was there all the same. (q)?I should go.? She didn?t want to but even more so she didn?t want to be here when? Taking a deep breath, she set the mug aside. Slipping off the stool, she offered Jonas a meek yet pleasant smile. ?It was really nice meetin? you.?

He, too, heard the chime but wouldn?t have bothered to look at the clock except that she did. Glancing behind his shoulder, he gave little care to the time. But when she announced her intent to leave, that was reason enough for him to take interest. He looked back to her as she started what he guessed would be her goodbye, staring at her for a brief moment before standing up straight. ?I?ll walk you home.? It wasn?t forceful but was, nevertheless, a statement. It left little room for argument, especially since he was already making his way down the bar, rounding through the break to the other side.

?Uh?? She stared at him, wide-eyed and mouth agape. Surely, this couldn?t be real. After all, no one else but Toby could be kind enough to walk a strange girl home? Right? Thought of the orange-haired boy had any relief she had just found, temporary as it was, flushing away and her cheeks grew pale and cold. But since Jonas was already walking around to her, she couldn?t very well be impolite. ?I, uh..,? she tried again, forcibly shaking her head when she got it wrong that time too. Taking a deep breath, she was determined to avoid strike three. ?That?d be really nice. Thank you.? Success! And after all that effort, all she could offer him was a weak smile.

He came up to her, giving her a gentle smile that belied that he had noticed each of her little fumbles. ?Not a problem,? he said, bringing an arm up behind her. He used it to start her toward the door, not touching but close enough to hover and herd. ?Even if it seems like a nice city, doesn?t seem like the sort of place that a nice young woman should be walking around alone, especially at night.? As they approached the exit, his modest height let him reach in front of her to push the door aside without having to get in the way. He smiled down at her, letting her step out first, naturally, before following after her.

?Yeah?? This was all very bittersweet to Kingsley and was probably happening all much too soon after the other night. But there was no way to get out of it now, not without being completely rude, and besides, it?s not like anything serious was happening. So she sucked it up, biting back the pain that was patiently trying to get her attention and tucking it down low, deep inside. She?d deal with that later on. Right now, she was going to smile pretty and enjoy her escort home, saying a quiet ?thank you? as she slipped out the door.

11
Sweet Crusades / A Gunslinger's Help
« on: October 06, 2011, 05:52:08 PM »
[size=9]((The other character included in this post is Sai.))[/size]

Kingsley sat on the front steps of the church, waiting on Sai. She had made sure that no one would bother her, or that she?d be in anyone?s way. She had even made sure that Toby was gone, out on one of his delivers. She didn?t want to worry him any more than he already was. He had enough going on with trying to help Mayu.

Between her fingers, she fidgeted with the red ribbon that she had found two days ago tied around her cat, Pangur?s, neck. The texture was odd, definitely not cotton but not silken either. She had been pondering about it since that day and, she didn?t want to think about it but, the closest thing she could relate it to was that it felt oddly like leather. The idea made her frown.

The crunching of boots drew her from her swirl of thoughts and lifted her head, bright green eyes looking down the road in which the sound had come. When she spotted the tall figure of the cowboy, an instant smile broke out across her face.

?Sai!,? the little Irish girl called out, standing from her seat and starting toward the church gate, all the while tucking the bit of ribbon back into her hoodie pocket. ?Did you find the place okay?? Already, her arms were moving up to wrap around the Gunslinger?s neck in a hug.

?Yeah, I found it just fine,? he replied, folding his arms around the much smaller girl, practically swallowing her up. ?But how are you doin?, girl? I heard rumor that you were havin? a mite bit trouble seein?,? he asked, pulling away from her only to cradle her face with a hand to each cheek. He had been worried about her ever since he had heard about it, not that having the news come from her very angry older sister had made it any better. Speaking of... ?Has Quill made it over here yet? I hear that she?s mighty pissed off that somethin? that bad happened to you while stayin? here. I?m thinkin? that that Toby boy is in for an earful. ?

?I?m fine,? Kingsley replied with a shake of her head, still smiling even though part of it was swallowed up behind the cupping of his large hands. ?It was only for about a week and it wasn?t anybody?s fault. Especially Toby?s.? She brought her hands up to take his from her face, but she kept one as hers as she started pulling him through the gate and toward the church steps. ?Really, I?m fine.?

?Well, you just make sure to tell Quill that when you see her, yeah? I don?t really care to see her blastin? her guns at the boy if?n it?s for no reason at all.? The cowboy tried to hide his grimace as Kingsley drew him further toward the church. He hadn?t stepped foot near one in years, let alone in one, and he hoped against hope that she wasn?t bringing them any closer than the stairs.

She didn?t. She just brought them back to the place she had been sitting at before, reclaiming her spot even though the stone had been quick to cool and smiling up at Sai in a silent invitation for him to join her.

?So, what?s this all about, Kings?,? he asked, groaning as he set himself down on the step next to her, an arm draped across each knee. ?Granted, I ain?t seen you since that day back at the Inn and seein? you ain?t ever done nothin? but put a smile on my face. But somethin?s up, ain?t it? Somethin?s on that pretty little mind of yours.? He turned his cowboy-hatted head toward her, cerulean eyes studying her. ?So, what?s got you so worried??

Kingsley frowned. He was right, there was a specific reason she had asked him there, but now that he was she found it hard to bring the subject up. Her hands had been shoved back into her pockets, the fingers of one hand fumbling with the small strip of cloth.

?I?m worried about Quill and the others.? She didn?t want to look him in the face but the she was sure that the worried look she wore was plain to see. After a few seconds when Sai didn?t say anything, she continued, pulling out the ribbon and holding it out for him to see. ?I found this tied around Pangur?s neck the other day.?

Sai took the bit of ribbon into hand and studied it, scrunching up his eyes as he rubbed the strange fabric between two rough fingertips.

?Where?d it come from?,? he asked, never taking his eyes off the strip. He found the texture as perplexing as Kingsley did, but he was much more worldly than her. He had a myriad of things to compare it to. He didn?t like any of them.

?I don?t really know but...? The Irish girl frowned again, tucking her hand back into her pocket and pulling her hoodie around her tight. ?It reminds you of leather, doesn?t it?? When the cowboy nodded, she kept going. ?There?s was a woman, about three or four days ago. She was really mean and was botherin? Toby and me back at the Inn. She threatened us. Then she?? The memory was still fresh, his scream still clear as a bell in her head. It made her tremble inside. ?She beat on Toby. I don?t know exactly what she did to him but she hurt him a lot. Then when help arrived, she was gone.? She looked up at him, the tears brimming like crystal lakes in her eyes. ?I couldn?t see so he had made me run, to keep me safe. But afterward he told me that she had worn leather.? She glanced to the ribbon still in his hand. ?Red leather.?

Sai could feel the scowl cutting deep across his face, carving lines well-forging from years of hardships and being on the road. He didn?t need to look at Kingsley to know that she had been hurt by what had happened, be it physical or not. Her voice carried her pain like a Autumn leaf on the wind. That?s why she was such a good singer, he knew; she could convey any and all emotions with her voice, and most times without even trying.

He gave a heavy sigh after a lengthy time of silence passed between them, the only sound that of his calluses catching and scrapping at the exotic fabric.

?Is Toby alright?? It wasn?t the question Kingsley had been expecting, that was for sure, but the well-being of the boy was indeed the first concern Sai had. After Kingsley?s, of course.

?Yeah, he?s alright,? she said quietly, afterward lowering her head and tucking in her lower lip. After she nibbled on it for awhile, she looked back up at him. ?I didn?t ask him about it much because I didn?t want to make him think about it or upset him, but... I don?t think he?ll admit it, but I think it shook him up.?

?I don?t blame him,? the Gunslinger said. His eyes had taken on a far-off look even as he continued to stare at the ribbon still held captive in his hand. ?Gettin? beat on is never an easy thin?, no matter how weathered you are.? Finally, he lowered his hand, turning his gaze back over to Kingsley. ?He?s a good man, makin? you run like he did. Tells a lot about him and what he finds important.?

Important. She had heard that word just yesterday and the memory of it had her fighting hard not to blush. Even in a situation like this with this topic in hand and even without him being present, Toby could still make her feel like she had a fire burning beneath each cheek and a songbird?s heart in her chest.

?I?m not exactly sure what any of it means or who that woman is,? Sai continued, looking back to the ribbon as he held it in the palm of his hand. ?But this is plain to see as a warnin?.? Thick fingers closed around it, strangling the cloth. He looked back up to Kingsley. ?You best stay close to the church, or at least Toby. Don?t go anywhere without him.? After she nodded, he lowered his head toward her, along with his voice. ?He?s probably goin? to be needin? you just as much as you need him.? With that, he reached out a hand to give her tiny jean-clad knee a squeeze.

Then he was shifting to stand, tucking the strip of red into a pocket before adjusting the pistol at his hip. He looked down to the top of the Irish girl?s head as she stood with him and he offered her a small but friendly smirk when he saw the lift of her green eyes.

?It?s goin? to be fine, girl. Everyone?s goin? to be just fine, don?t you worry.? He gave one of her cheeks a gentle pat before curling that same hand behind her head, drawing her into him for a hug. ?I?ll look and see what I can find out about this woman you?re talkin? of, see if I can figure out some way to spook her. And I?ll stop by the house every day, make sure the others are alright. But until then,? he said as he looked down, drawing her back from him while setting his hands, heavy but warm, atop of her shoulders. ?You just keep doin? what you?re doin? and stay close to him. Alright?? When she nodded, he bent down to press a brotherly kiss to the top of her head. ?That?a girl.?

Kingsley sniffed, having been struggling with fighting back a mixture of tears and worry, and she rubbed at her eyes with the cuff of a sleeve. She managed to bring up a smile for the cowboy, though, as he began to step away.

?Thanks, Sai. You?re a savior.?

The Gunslinger paused just at the gape of the church gates, hesitating before he turned his head to the side. Not enough for her to fully see his face but only one side of it, and that was mostly shaded by the heavy dip of the hat?s brim.

?No, girl. I ain?t a savior. Just helpin? out my few good friends when I can.? He reached up a hand to his hat, tipping it slightly in her direction. Then he was walking off down the barren road, hands being shoved deep into the pockets of his coat.

Besides, he thought, that?s you.

12
Sweet Crusades / Saviors Come In All Colors
« on: September 22, 2011, 04:15:55 PM »
Kingsley had fallen asleep in Toby?s arms just as she had for the past several, if not more, nights before. It was becoming ritualistic to her and she couldn?t complain one bit. To be held by the one you loved, no matter if the sentiment had been responded back or not, was something of a wonder. She didn?t know if she?d be able to sleep again without it.

The small room that was hers in the church was warm and peaceful and slowly beginning to take on the feeling of ?home?. The small trinkets that Toby had given to her for her birthday sat side by side on the plain dresser tucked in one corner; the jade angel statue with its harp of metal chimes and the intricately ornate box containing the two beautiful decorative combs. She even had the hummingbird wind chime that Mayu had given her hanging by the single window of the room, completing the feeling that she was surrounded by things she loved.

Her dreams had been kind to her thus far, the sweet tea of chamomile and lavender that Toby had prepared for her before going to sleep mulling them into a gentle lullaby, and her breathing was even and deep. It seemed like tonight was going to be a restful night, that she would be able to wake in the morning wearing an honest smile. Little did she know that the night was still young.

?Kingsley...?

The Irish girl woke at the sound of her name being whispered, sounding as if it had been breathed right into the cusp of her ear. Long-lashed lids blinked groggily, the wispy fingers of sleep still trailing like a thin veil across her psyche.

?Kingsley...?

Again, she heard it, and this time she was sure that it was real. The center of her brow crinkled as she pushed more heartily at the swimming haze of sleep, forcing it back as she willed herself awake, rising up on an elbow. Toby?s heavy breathing told her that he, too, had drifted off to sleep and, knowing that he only did so for a few hours every night, she didn?t have the heart to wake him. Nor did she have the time to chose.

?Kingsley!?

This time the voice was more urgent. She turned her head about, looking around the small room, but she found nothing but emptiness and shadows. No person standing there, no one stashed by the window, calling out her name. This alone had Kingsley?s heart on its way to pounding but it was the next whispered words that had it thudding in truth.

?Kingsley, come...?

She didn?t know why but she found herself folding back the blankets and, silently, slipping from the bed. She padded toward the old wooden door with only one look back, making sure that she hadn?t woken Toby in her exit, before taking the cold metal handle into hand and pressing against the wooden grain.

She stepped out into the hallway and looked down both ways. There was no one standing out there, no one whispering through the cracks in her door. No one else was even awake at this time of night and Kingsley suddenly thought that she shouldn?t be either, turning to hurry back behind the door.

?Kingsley, help!?

That urgent whisper, that specific word... It sent a chill down her spine that frozen her every action, even caught the air in her lungs. Slowly, she turned, looking down the hallway to her left, in the direction in which the voice had called to her from. Kingsley bit her bottom lip, teeth creasing into it a hard line, and a silent debate waged war in her head; go out searching to find the source of the voice or go back into her room and curl up next to Toby. She didn?t know how or why the former won the vote of the jury but she shortly found herself moving down the empty hall, bare feet padding against the smooth, cool floor boards.

She kept hearing the voice whisper to her, ?Kingsley... Kingsley!...?, and she followed it as best she could. Finally, after more twists and turns than she could remember, the young girl found herself standing in the open archway of what appeared to be some sort of worship room. It was rather plain and had only a simple cross and a single table at its head, the latter draped over by a simple linen cloth who?s color she could only guess was red. A few drab benches formed lines on each side, angled very slightly so that one might imagine that they appeared as the rough sketches of wings stretching out toward either wall. She stood there studying them until she heard the whisper call again.

?Kingsley, come here...? The voice was coaxing, convincing her body to take slow, measured steps, one after another, in a gradual approach toward the front of the room.

?Kingsley, you?ve come!,? the whispers cooed, for now there was not one voice but two... No, three. Four! There were a handful of voices and yet they all spoke as one, making it impossible to discern the true number at the source. They had the cadence of a child, almost sing-song in their appraisal in the fact that she had come, and Kingsley felt uncontrollably pleased that she had listened to their calling, stepping up to the main alter and past it, coming to stand between it and the relic suspended on the wall.

?Kingsley, you need to help us,? they said to her, their sound coming from above. She lifted her chestnut-tressed head up to the cross, eyes moving evenly from base to intersection to crown. Without knowing why, she began to lift her arms and, to her disbelief, she saw some sort of light begin to radiate from them. It wasn?t the limbs themselves that were glowing but rather her very veins, as if the blood rushing inside of them was suddenly made of electric light, the white color of them growing.

It wasn?t long before it wasn?t just her arms that were glowing but her legs and torso too, each trace of highway vein turning into a lighted line until it seemed that her whole body was aglow. There was a warmth that was now rising to accompany the increasingly blinding glare, too, rippling out in small waves over every inch of her, its main focus vibrating out from her center core.

?Kingsley, you?re our only hope.? She couldn?t move her head. She couldn?t move her hands, legs or arms. She couldn?t move her entire body and it seemed that even her eyes refused to budge. They remained transfixed on the naked wooden cross that now towered before her, looming as if it were some frightening god.

?Kingsley, you?re going to save us.? She didn?t know what was going on and, for the first time since she?d arrived, she knew without a doubt that she was scared. She tried to move her body but it refused to listen, her very muscles seeming to be working without her control. She tried to scream, to call out, but even her lips refused to part. All she could do was stand there with her arms outstretched, her body glowing like it was a star, like it was its own little sun.

?Kingsley, it?s time for you to awaken now. It?s time for you to see. Kingsley, it?s time for you to forgive our sins. It?s time for you to burn!? And just like that, the light within her became as fire and the pain that erupted with it matched the flames. The girl?s mouth was finally let to tear open as her head was wrenched back, the scream wracking out from her lungs made up of an agony that no living creature should have to endure. The light that burned at the heart of her seemed to be boiling away her very soul, the molten blood that coursed through her veins searing through every layer of bone, meat and flesh until there was nothing left but an incurably blinding light, that of which had started to melt away the very green of her eyes.

She hadn?t known that there could be pain such as this before, hadn?t known that anything so agonizing could exist. But now she knew what it felt like to be burned alive by Hell?s fire. That this is what it felt like to die.

?Kingsley, you need to awaken now. Kingsley, you need to wake up. Kingsley you need to open your eyes. Kingsley, you need to WAKE UP!?

Kingsley woke with a start with her whole body jolting as she drew in a lusty breath, the rush of it too swift and setting her lungs to panicking as she struggled and fought to set herself upright. Her heart was fluttering quicker than a songbird?s and her shirt was sticking to her chest. Two large hands were gripping at her shoulders and shaking them even as she reached out to bat them away, crying out in protest.

?Kingsley, it?s me! It?s Toby! Calm down! You were dreaming!? She could hear the more familiar voice fighting to pierce through the dense fog that had been her reality not moments before, her mind still reeling and trying to decide which was fake and which was not. Unseeing eyes blinked rapidly, trying to focus on something, anything that she could define as real, but she saw nothing. Nothing but blinding light still filled her eyes, making it impossible to see. Reaching up to rub hard at still-present lids did nothing to change the color or even the shade of the pure white light that had decidedly settled in a sickeningly even tone across her sight and instantly her stomach churned. She suddenly felt very dizzy and lurched up before doubling over, arms banding across her stomach as she gagged, fighting hard at the urge to be sick.

?Kingsley... Are you okay?? That familiar voice again and those same large hands. This time they were gentler in their touch, one holding supportively to a shoulder while the other moved in soothing circles across her back. ?Kings, what?s wrong?? The Irish girl felt the bile rise up to burn at the back of her throat but she swallowed it down, focusing hard on the pure white sheets that had glazed across her eyes.

?I?m blind.? The words were whispers and tasted like ash upon her tongue, her stomach rolling as she huddled into herself, feeling a deathly chill crawl over her even as she dripped with sweat. Carefully, she turned toward him, her eyes staring blankly and brimming with tears and the look of terror and dread was washing across her stricken face. ?Toby, I think I?m blind...?

13
Sweet Crusades / Birthday Girl
« on: September 20, 2011, 04:44:58 PM »
It was the night of her birthday and Kingsley was having a fantastic time.

Her siblings had taken her out for the day, this being the first time in what seemed like ages since all of the O?Connors, in-lawed included, had been together in one place at the same time. First they had gone out to see a movie, some comedy that turned out to be much funnier with all of them making their own commentary, and then they ventured out to a fancy restaurant for dinner. They hadn?t stayed at the restaurant for long, of course, seeing as how the snobbish atmosphere didn?t quite take to the rowdy bunch of Irishfolk, so they headed to a nearby pub instead which turned out to be much more perfect for their tastes.

They had spent the entire night there, singing and laughing and having a good time. With nine O?Connors, it was no surprise that they knew how to party and even little Kingsley, who was now only seventeen, enjoyed herself immensely without even having a drink. There had been only one hiccup when Quillan, her older sister, got a phone call; something to do with her closest friend going into labor and asking for her to be there. Brandon, Quillan?s husband and Kingsley?s favored brother-in-law, convinced her to go support her and after a sincere apology to Kingsley, along with a promise to take her out shopping later that week, Quillan left to go to the hospital. Kingsley didn?t mind; she had gotten a day of shopping out of the deal.

After another hour or two, the O?Connors decided to head home. Kingsley was supposed to ride back to the house with her brother-in-law but after a great deal of coaxing, and a pointed look or two at Brandon, Fallon, her cousin, convinced the both of them that Kingsley should spend the night at her place. Kingsley couldn?t figure out why Fallon had been so determined to get her to stay with her but she figured that it had something to do with her birthday and so after giving each of her siblings a hug, and an especially long one to Brandon, Kingsley climbed into the car with her cousin.

She watched Brandon?s car pull out after them but she couldn?t figure out why he followed them after taking a turn in the opposite direction of the house. She was confused, also, when a second car pulled up fast behind him, seeming to have been cut off by him right at that turn. She tried not to sound too concerned when she pointed all of this out to Fallon, who instantly started watching her rearview mirror almost as much as the road, but as they watched the lights speeding up behind them, it was obvious that something was wrong.

The second, unknown car kept trying to pass Brandon but he managed to keep it at bay, swinging first one way and then the other, swerving to block any possible way through. The two girls didn?t know what to do and so they just kept on driving, trying to get to Fallon?s place as quickly as possible. But it didn?t happen quickly enough.

As the second car tried to again speed past Brandon, he cut his wheel too sharp and ended up clipping it with the nose of his car. The second car hit its brakes as it started to spin, the lights flashing as it went around until, as of a sudden, they were just gone. But Brandon?s car kept on spinning, his lights like a red and white strobe in the dark pitch of the night. Both of the girls gasped and Fallon slammed on her own brakes but there was nothing that either of them could do. They watched as Brandon?s car fishtailed off the side of the road before straightening out, just in time to slam, head-first, into the thick trunk of a tree.

The next thing Kingsley knew, she was sitting in a hospital waiting room, waiting to see if her brother-in-law was going to live.

All of the O?Connors had gathered there and Kilean, the second oldest, had gone off to the maternity ward to find his twin sister. Kingsley sat next to her own twin, Jamie, in a seat next to the TV, but its noise nothing but a distant hum to her as she stared off straight ahead, seeing nothing but a blur of what had happened not an hour before.

The elevator doors opened and Kingsley lifted her head. She saw the blonde streak of her sister as she bolted from between the barely open metal doors, Kilean trying to reach out after her but failing to grab before she was too far gone. Logan, however, the oldest of them all, managed to grab Quillan?s arm as she tried to pass him by and Kingsley watched as she sprung back toward him like a too-stretched bungee cord. She watched as her sister tried to struggle, squirming and flailing and quickly breaking down into a fit of hysterics. A string of curses screamed out between flashes of white hot tears but Logan just continued to hold onto her, standing like a statue of stone.

Finally after what seemed like hours even though it was only mere minutes, a man in a long white coat stepped out from a pair of swinging doors and moved over toward Quillan. Kingsley couldn?t hear what he had to say, even though Quillan had stopped thrashing and crying and moving all together to listen, but all she knew was that before he was even done talking, that thin strand that had been holding Quillan together broke and she crumpled toward the ground, becoming nothing more than a sobbing mess who?s own legs couldn?t seem to support her. Logan held her up, holding her tight to his chest as her once laughing face became something twisted, turning a horrific shade of red as the tears came crashing down, her body wracked with sobs. Kingsley knew she should get up and join the rest of her family, all of whom had moved to circle Quillan, but she couldn?t seem to move. Every inch of her had grown incredibly cold, so much so that she could feel her entire body going numb.

It was the night of her birthday and Kingsley?s brother-in-law had died.

Kingsley woke with a start, gasping for air and drenched in cold sweat. She found that she was freezing, her teeth beginning to chatter almost immediately and her fingers and toes were already numb. The Irish girl shivered as her breath came out in a tiny puff of white smoke and she looked down to find the figure of Toby beside her, an instant feeling of relief and comfort falling over her like the drape of a warm blanket. She could even feel the small trace of a smile dust across her lips.

She reached out a hand to touch him, he being in the rare position of lying down and not facing her and there was a wool blanket tugged up about his shoulders. But just as her hand came across that muscled mound, Toby turned. But this was not the Toby that she knew.

His eyes were of a devilish red and his mouth was carved into a snarling, lipless sneer. His teeth were tipped into points and his tongue, which had come out with a terrifying hiss, was cleft down the center into two. His hands, once callused yet gentle upon her, now appeared more as claws that came grasping at the much smaller girl as he lurched, grabbing and snaring and tearing clothing, hair and flesh as he forced himself atop of her, a scream caught in her throat.

Kingsley awoke with a gasp, that scream still strangling her as she struggled for breath. Sweat poured from her body and she was shaking where she laid, tangled up in both clothing and blankets, all damp and cold from her terrible nightmares. Her breathing was shattered, quivering and shaking as she fought to hold back the tears. It wasn?t until she felt the warm breath blowing against her ear and the reassuring strength of an arm wrapped around her waist that she realized that Toby was there, that he was actually there.

She had turned her head to look at him, frightened for only a moment that she?d again find that terrifying monster in his place, and this time she couldn?t hold back the tears. They were silent, though, and warm against chilled cheeks and she couldn?t resist lifting up a hand to touch very gently to one side of his face, tracing the curve of his cheek down to the hard line of his jaw all the way to the point of his chin.

No matter what had happened that day in the past, Toby had made it something that she could enjoy again. No matter what had happened between them today, she knew deep down in her heart what she felt. No matter what had gone unsaid, she knew what she had wanted to say, and Kingsley knew that she believed it.

She took in a deep breath and let it out slow, forcing all the shivering and quaking out of her body as she studied the face of the man sleeping beside her. She risked waking him and brought her mouth to his, letting the soothing warmth reawaken within her and rest calmly upon her nerves. In response, Toby made a low sound, his arm tightening around her middle and pulling her in close. Kingsley let him tug her in, curling into his arm and nestling her head down against his chest.

It was the night of her birthday and Kingsley fell back asleep wrapped up in Toby?s arms, comforted by his protective embrace and listening to the heartbeat of the man that she knew she loved.

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