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Messages - Eddie Blake

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1
Just Desserts / Re:
« on: December 05, 2018, 08:28:09 PM »
Such a vague explanation seemed perfectly clear to her.  They were what they were, and she doubted there was ever going to be a label that fit them completely.  Suddenly very much reminded that Eddie was, well...as nature intended, she made very sure that she was looking up or at his mother.  At least until the other woman was engulfed in the kind of embrace that brought tears to Tahlia's eyes and had her finding the small chambers design fascinating.  It certainly wasn't the most awkward 'meet-the-parents' moment she'd ever had, but it had been a very long time, and none of them had ever meant quite this much,  

"I can't say I blame her, Puddin...and it's very nice to meet you."  Bringing her eyes back to where she suspected the woman's face was, she resisted the urge to curtsy, biting her non-corporeal lip as she tried to at least look like she wasn't a mass of nerves.  Eddie wasn't the only one who would have preferred the comfort of contact just at the moment, and it was nearly certain the smith was going to be in for it the next time she saw him.  After the reunion.  Tahlia had some idea what this moment meant to all of them, after all.

"You're the one who has them making warding gestures. I'm not sure that you are quite what I expected. Of course I only had the pieces of conversation to go by." Lumira's eyes practically glowed as they fixed on Tahlia. Whether that was from the presence of friendly faces or the reuniting with her family was open for discussion. It was the healthiest of her attributes at the moment. The imposing figure who'd struck down Orsine, upon closer inspection, was a little too pale. Her hair, a stark contrast to that paleness lacked the kind of fullness and luster that regular care would have brought out. There was a thinness to her fingers and the rest of her as well. She was fed, but obviously not nearly enough to keep her healthy. "What did you do, E.J? It hasn't been so long that I don't know when I hear a crash that you've broken something." That crash had been impossible to miss, having shaken things up even here.

"It wasn't me...I was just trying to get out of the way." Eddie's tone was awash in complete innocence. It wasn't really his fault that the livyatan had broken the place, right? He looked at Tahlia for help to corroborate his story, because witnesses held weight! "We don't have much time though, the lower floors are taking on water... for some unknown reason." He was still affecting the angelic look that had only lost a little of its power because he'd grown up. Something else that wasn't his fault. "I can backtrack to where I came in, but... I don't think we're getting out that way." It was a little too high to reach that hole. Just a few meters or so.

Tahlia managed to hold the smirk at bay long enough to nod in support of Eddie's version of events. After all, she couldn't swear that he hadn't been innocently minding his business when the sea monster happened to attack. It wasn't likely, but it was possible.  "Uh...yes.  Apparently.  I'm not sure why, but that does seem to be the usual response.  I don't think I'm what any of them expects, either, if that helps."

For the first time, the true weight of where they were, and the predicament they were in hit her.  "I...have no idea.  We obviously came in different places."  Tahlia closed her eyes, trying to retrace her steps.  "I had to go up to get to where I met you...there was a...forge."  Of course. "If the lower levels are flooded, it probably is too.  But I didn't come in through the same portal you did..."

"They're all superstitious." Lumira released Eddie as she said the words to Tahlia as if that was enough to explain everything. "That's the way we're supposed to go, that's what I was told anyway." She stepped back and looked at her son. "Pay attention, and do what I do." She pushed aside the blankets on the bed they'd given her to reveal a pelt as red as her hair should be. Picking it up she didn't even drape it over her shoulders, it just seemed to come alive and mould itself to her cladding her in leather from ankle to neck. There were gaps, her arms were bare, and the length of her back though this was at least covered by her hair. "Do you understand?"

Eddie concentrated, attempting to mimic what his mother had done and was only half successful. His long coat had melted away, sliding down his torso to become a pair of pants that didn't look nearly so protective as what Lumira had managed. He gave a small shrug to her. "Best I can do... now who told you where we needed to go?"

"Your brother was here just a bit before you... sort of here...mostly not." She put a hand up towards Tahlia as if that should explain enough. "He said to follow her." It was clear by her expression that there had been other things said that she was holding back. "Something about not being able to maintain multiple doorways." It made more sense to her, having heard what Tahlia said about coming through a different portal. It may have explained that much, but there was a lot more going on than met the eye. Her eyes shot to the door, having caught the movement of the knob. Even if she hadn't seen it, she'd been in here long enough to recognize the sound of it.

Tahlia exchanged looks with Eddie at the mention of his brother.  She might have also snuck a rather appreciative look over his now bare torso, because, in all honesty, who wouldn't? Especially since all she could do was look. Maybe that's why he'd done it? It only distracted her for a moment.  Dragging her eyes away at the sound of someone, or something, on the other side of the door, the blonde cursed softly.  Lumira was in no condition, and while she and Eddie were a force to be reckoned with - they were both unarmed.  What she needed, was a weapon.  

"We need to get out here first..." The hand tugging at her braid was reflex, and just happened to twist her head enough to catch a glint of metal coming through the wall - no more substantial than she was.  It was...something, at least, and with only a second's hesitation she reached out and took hold of the hilt.  The blade gleamed, slightly curved, somehow both present and not.  "Hey, Puddin...your brother is a little creepy..." Who else could have done it? Glancing over at Lumira, she gave a little shrug.  No offense meant, but she didn't think there would be much argument either.

Showoff was the word that Eddie was muttering, regardless of the fact that he was standing there half dressed. That was something entirely different! The door opened filled by an armored Mer leading his entry with the tip of a long spear. Eddie was quick to grasp the shaft and yank it to the side leaving the intruder wide open for Tahlia's new little friend to find a place to poke him. Far from the aggressive attack earlier, this one had Lumira backpedaling to wall the first real indicator that she was far from recovered. She had put everything into that single expulsion of fire and water.

It was strange watching the blade move forward its form as translucent as the wielder and yet the Mer's physical body felt the impact and subsequent tearing through armor and flesh underneath. It was a display that Eddie would have marvelled at even applauded if the feat hadn't been engineered by... showoff supreme.

The Mer didn't really have a chance, they couldn't touch the blonde wielding the the strange blade - although the sword itself seemed to stop them from touching her regardless.  Tahlia tried, at first, simply to keep them back, to give them space to plan.  Soon enough she realized that they weren't going to give up, and just...let them out.  The holographic girl and her strangely solid weapon wasn't enough to break their ranks, even if there were murmurs of 'Misery Woe' from those who were face to face with her.  

Puffing her hair from her eyes, she changed tactics, peridot eyes taking on a silvery gleam as her movements shifted - now she was on the attack. A tight spin of her wrist took a blade, and the hand it was attached to, and a step had a Mer falling in half to the ground.  She had no idea how long she could keep it up, the energy sustaining her had to come from somewhere.  Nothing landed on her, nothing touched her, she moved like a deadly ghost, pausing only to glance back to the two Selkies - Eddie might recognize the look on her face from a different time and place.

Eddie's grin was for the little blonde murderess, he did like to watch her move. There wasn't space for the two of them, which was mirrored by the way the door forced the Mer to come in one at a time. It didn't take long for him to be able to join her though, the hand on the spear fell away allowing the big Selkie to take it for himself. Its reach let him attack from further back, the tip alternating between low and high thrusts. He kept the point moving in and out, circling lazily or swift and tight. He'd have preferred something a little louder that had an even better range, but there were no shotguns or pistols in this place. Even if he'd managed to bring one with him it would have needed a thorough cleaning if it were to function after the swim. He took what he could get, and used it with deadly intent.

Together, he and Tahlia pushed forward through the door and into the room beyond. It was slow, but a glance at his mother said that slow was all she was going to manage. A hint of anger burned through him, the evidence coming from a particularly vicious thrust that tore into the throat of one unlucky Mer whose breath bubbled wetly out of the hole left behind. Once they'd managed to clear the path, he put an arm around Lumira taking her weight so that they could move a little faster. "If I get us back to where I came in... can you find where you did?"

Her braid wrapped around a shoulder, the sword coming down at her side another Mer gurgling to the floor behind her.  Second battle of the night, assuming it was the same night - time had lost all meaning. There was more blood than even the wounds they were inflicting would justify, every nick and cut flowing freely, responding to the soft hiss of a single word.  She couldn't Call at her full strength, assuming she could tap into it, if she was honest, she was afraid to do harm to Eddie, or his mother.  "The forge? I think so...through the infirmary, and then down.  You two can get through the water, but I...ohh. Duh." She'd blame the golden strands twisted and tied down her back, if anyone asked.  

"I'm not here.  I don't have to breathe.  Right."  She looked nervous even so, remembering a night that seemed very far away, now.  Her own skills she knew, even if she didn't understand them - the magics she'd been exposed to here were still so very strange, and the fear of drowning had stuck with her.  "Is she...?"  Tahlia didn't know how to ask if Lumira was going to be able to change, or for that matter, make it to the surface if the portal wasn't there.

Lumira nodded as Tahlia came to the realization that she had no need for air, not as she was. "Keep that in your mind, if you panic so too will your physical form." The words were tinged with exhaustion but it didn't keep her from offering the girl a smile... did she dare think of her as a girl? It seemed she already had, though something about that felt odd. "I'll be fine... probably better in the water than here. Swimming takes far less effort, there's less need to fight gravity." The explanation came in soft spoken words that held no malice for someone who was so obviously from the land.

Their path to the place where the ceiling had collapsed in was blessedly empty, but sounds traveled to them. There were more of the Mer ahead, the sounds increasing with every twist or turn. Eddie started to slow his pace, checking corners now instead of blundering haphazardly around them into the mother knew what. The place where he'd met up with Tahlia was quite occupied, though there didn't seem to be any soldiers among them. Craftsmen worked frantically to close up the breach that someone had created. "Maybe we can slip by them?" His voice was barely audible for fear of being heard by unintended ears.

"As long as there aren't any squid..."  The response was barely audible, and not something she could take the time to explain.  Not now.  Maybe once they were back, with wine, or something harder.  After everyone had had a chance to recover.  A swift glance to Eddie for reassurance, and she took a needless breath. The short nap earlier was wearing off, but she had to keep going.  Once she had her own body back...flushing slighting, she gave Lumira a grateful smile - her explanation was a great deal less judgemental than Nim's.

"They seem focused - no one saw me before except the sister, and the witch. Maybe they don't care?"  True, there little group looked different, but the workmen seemed intently focused, and the only eyes she saw stray from the work were aimed upwards, scanning for the return of the monster.  "Let me try...I can scout ahead, see if I can find a path through..." She hadn't let go of the blade, and the twist of her grip said that she would clear the way if necessary.

2
Just Desserts / Re:
« on: October 30, 2018, 09:13:49 PM »
[size=18]Symphony of Destruction[/size]

You take a mortal man
And put him in control
Watch him become a god
Watch people's heads a'roll
~ Megadeth

[size=18]Eddie[/size]

Control is an illusion, Eddie Blake already knew that quite intimately. That didn't mean he wanted to give up his illusory control, and yet that was exactly what he'd done the moment he stepped through the portal which had manifested before him. It might have bothered him less had he given it over to someone other than his estranged brother. Maybe they wouldn't have dropped him fifty feet above the blue green ocean surface. Then again, had he simply stepped into the water he'd never have seen the massive nautilus on the horizon. Eddie had no choice but to trust that Kruger had done it for that reason. He'd had no choice in relinquishing his control either considering it was he who had manipulated Kruger into action, or had he been allowed to do so?

Eddie could do a lot of things, he knew the right things to say to get whatever reaction he wanted. He wouldn't have known how to do this, hell he didn't know that this was even a possibility. That wasn't a fault his brother had, though the list of faults was long and Eddie could...had recited them off to him on at least one occasion. He knew one thing about the smith, he never asked if something was possible, he asked how do I make it possible? Eddie managed to consider all of this in the amount of time it took him to impact the roiling surface of the sea. Then he changed, and swam hard towards the place he knew held his mother. He could sense her presence like a beacon.

He'd been to this place before, once, going there simply because he was ordered not to. That had been at night though, not while dawn was breaking like now. Eddie had managed to use that to avoid the sentries, something he was sure wouldn't happen this time. Not because he was incapable, no, far from it. Eddie was looking forward to it, there was a score to settle, there were several scores that needed settling. It had, after all, been his duty to protect his people but when his closest family needed him he'd been away doing his own thing. There were two layers of defense that needed to be penetrated. A pair of circles one within the other and rotating in opposite directions, but he had a plan. It required a lot of swimming, but was necessary if he didn't want his presence to become known. It was still too early for that. His plan required him to swim in opposing directions to the Mer, to take the outer sentry and then alternate his direction to take the inner so that no one would be missed. His own arcs had to push wider and wider the more he took down. He met the first one from their flank, swimming in fast and deftly separating head from shoulders at the neck in one quick snap of his jaws. Then he dove deep and took the next from below. It wasn't all their fault, yes they were out there to keep watch for danger, but it wasn't Eddie Blake they'd had in mind. There were still plenty of monsters in the sea who considered anything smaller than themselves to be food. This was the specialty of the sentries, to defend the fields of ruby colored fertilized eggs, to kill large predators which would attempt to prey on their spawn, or turn them away if they couldn't manage the kill. Eddie was large, but he was barely a blip on what they were looking for and he used that to drop the sentries like so many dominos.

It wasn't necessary for Eddie to take all of them, it never would be beneath the surface. Put enough blood in the water and there would come a frenzy. Let the Mer wonder why the white tips had shown up, by the time things were settled there wouldn't be any evidence he'd been there. It would also pull the rest of them away as well, and leave him free to approach the giant shell. He was home free, except for one tiny little detail. There was no way inside. He'd circled the outside close enough to feel its outer surface brush against his thick fur, and could find not one break in it big enough to allow him access. The main entry was far deeper, and far too active for him to have a prayer of getting in. Besides, his mother was much further up. He could almost pinpoint her exact location simply through that odd pull at his senses. To make matters worse, the higher he went the thicker the shell walls became.

The fifteen foot leopard seal that was Eddie swam to the surface. He needed a few minutes to rest and regroup, well that and think some very nasty thoughts about how his brother had left him in this condition and forgotten to give him a mouthful of explosives to plant. He could almost hear Kruger in his head asking him laughingly why he was called Fast Eddie.

Because I am! Eddie would have yelled it to the clouds if he could have in this form without too much concentration. There was more laughing in his brother's voice, and the rage he felt had his ears ringing.

Then prove it. He shook his large seal head trying to clear that laugh and the ringing. It didn't help. The laughter was gone, but that sound remained. No amount of shaking would make it go away, there was no reason for it...unless it was really there? Eddie dipped his head beneath the waves once more, sliding his body into the water after it. It was really there, not a ringing...no this was more of a ping. That he could pick it up above the surface could only mean something massive had made the sound. An idea struck him, it was dangerous perhaps even suicidal but it was all he could think of. He began to swim once more, away from the nautilus and the pull of his mother. He swam directly towards the place where that sound was coming from staying near the surface and keeping a very wary eye in the waters beneath him. Despite his attention to the depths, he still nearly became a casualty of nature. He'd gone about ten miles tracking the sonar pings that blasted out in waves and was considering giving up when the ocean moved. It started small as so many things do, and all too quickly the shape grew charging straight up...at him!

Eddie changed direction a full ninety degrees and dove downward at the shape, that maneuverability of his saving his hide as he barrel rolled and twisted his way around the massive two meter horn that dipped out at him. The Livyatan was fifty meters long from its tail to the tip of its horn, its open mouth revealing rows of conical teeth in a maw wide enough to swallow a Great White... or a large selkie with a big mouth. It was another six meters across, and was moving fast. For all its size and speed, it lacked Eddie's ability to bend and change directions.

Then prove it! Eddie heard the three words again only now wondering if they were as real as the Livyatan had become.

 You asked for it, brother. Eddie had often said he was the fastest thing out there above or below the water. It wasn't because of his species, if it had been he'd have been chased down on many occasions. It had nothing to do with what Eddie Blake was, and everything to do with belief. He believed absolutely that there was no creature in the ocean that could catch him, and none that he couldn't take from behind no matter how great the head start. Of course he'd never actually encountered a fully grown, hungry, Livyatan before either. Eddie did the only smart thing, he ran, of course he was followed very closely by that mammoth creature, but like every other time he'd been tested, when it looked like he was about to be swallowed up he found another burst of speed, an additional gear to shift into that left the Livyatan's jaws closing down onto nothing. It would have been a fun game, if it weren't life or death. Several times he'd managed to get far enough ahead that the creature started to drop its pursuit of him. Eddie needed it to follow him. When it started losing interest he'd send a series of whistles through the waves to keep it in pursuit, just like an underwater Pied Piper.

The giant nautilus grew on the horizon as they closed with it. Eddie went straight for it, making the Livyatan renew its efforts. It expected to trap him there, likely as it had done countless times in as many places. What it didn't expect as it exploded from the water was the way Eddie shifted, or that his hands would reach out to grab hold of that massive horn. It hadn't expected to land hard on the exposed shell, or the way it went from being solid to insubstantial. Had it been a bit more sentient it may have even been insulted that the once seal let go of the horn to land lightly just in front of its mouth. The Livyatan thrashed twice, but that only opened the hole beneath it even more. It heaved once with its tail hard enough to pull its massive body backwards to slide down the outer shell of the nautilus and impact the water once more.

"Ding Dong! Avon Calling!" Eddie yelled the words as he dropped through the space that he'd worked so hard to create. He was feeling more than a little cocky, and why shouldn't he? He'd just won the most epic race that ever graced the sea. When his feet hit the floor he swept up a macuahuitl, Mer were down all over the corridor, many trapped beneath the detritus from the ceiling. Eddie never gave them the chance to recover, swinging his newly acquired weapon with a certain merciless accuracy. For the barest instant he thought he'd seen Tahlia, except that she was transparent and clearly that meant she wasn't here... except she was still there when he finished his sweep of the corridor. "This thing's about as elegant as a barb wire wrapped baseball bat named Lucille." He dropped the macuahuitl to the floor, turned towards the apparition and frowned. "What's the matter with you? You trying to get yourself killed?!" Not that he hadn't just played chicken with a monster... but that was different!

She'd never been so happy to see anyone in her life.  She took a deep breath, not that she needed to, and just watched him work, clearing the hall with that signature Eddie Blake smile.  At least, until it was replaced by a look of concern.  One pale brow arched on the holographic face.  "Um, baby...that was a whole lot of fish you were just driving."  Tahlia was fairly certain she wasn't at risk of being hurt, she wasn't entirely certain that she was really there.  But here and now, well, that conversation could wait.  "Couldn't let you have all the fun by yourself, now could I?"

3
Community Events / Re: Red Tide
« on: October 03, 2018, 11:46:42 PM »
[size=18]Red Tide:[/size] [size=18]Gasoline[/size]

4
Just Desserts / Red Tide: Gasoline
« on: October 03, 2018, 11:43:10 PM »
[size=18]Red Tide:[/size] [size=18]Gasoline[/size]

House is haunted
I just want to go for a ride
Out and on
Before I set this room alight
Left alone forever and for crimes unclear
With my patience gone
Someone take me far from here. Yeah
~ Audioslave



Another shadow moved through the water, the sight no longer holding the attention of the few left on the beach as the sun descended into the horizon. They'd have paid it little mind if it were keeping the same circuitous patrol along the beach. If it hadn't been speeding straight towards the sand at impossible speed. They'd have gone about their work had they not noticed that the form was not alone in its headlong approach, or that those which followed bore the triangular fin they'd grown accustomed to seeing. The surf surged forwards reaching for the dead and dying behemoths which lined the gritty beach. It receded just the same, never coming close to those that once dwelt within it. If it had been any moment previous there would have been nothing to distinguish it from the one before or after. This particular moment would be unlike any that had come before in their vigil. The speeding form leapt from the next incoming wave, fifteen feet of something massive going airborne to hit the sand with a dull thud and roll. It began to move up the beach, once it righted itself, in jumps and lunges the mottled grey of its coat catching in the retreating sunlight.

"Leopard Seal." Robert Pullman observed, finally finding a renewed interest in his choice to remain at Seaside Beach.

"Not possible, it's way too far North." Bill Harris countered, his tone still heavy with the days tragedy.

"Look around you, Bill. Would you have said any of this was possible before?" Rosemary Deter's voice was no less heavy than Bill's. She'd hated this day for the loss of so many magnificent beasts, but also because it had shown her exactly how little she really knew.

The sound of a spring being tightened, and the audible snict of something locking into place drew all of their attention. "What are you doing?"

"I'm going to kill it." Private Tuberaat held his weapon aimed squarely at the seal moving up the beach. "Keep you all safe."

"Hasn't there been enough killing on the beach today, Private?" Robert's hand closed over the pistol, not to take it way, simply to push it down and away from yet another intriguing anomaly. He had nearly accomplished that when Tuberaat brought the weapon up once more, a fierce resolve in his face.

"What's it doin'?" He'd seen what they hadn't, of course they'd all been looking at him when it began. His words had the others jerking their attention back to the lumbering seal, except it wasn't a seal anymore. Portions of it still were, but the front flippers had become hands attached to arms. The entire thing was metamorphing in front of their eyes. The transformation was relatively brief, though the seconds seemed to have slowed to a crawl. Head and torso emerged, legs formed and for a brief instant bare skin and dark hair were all that could be seen. He, for it was definitely a male, pulled his knees up under his body and somehow between the time it took him to push the sand and stand up his torso was enveloped into a leather jacket which fortunately managed to cover all the important parts.

The turn of his head revealed irises the color of burnt sienna, and a stoic expression as the once seal seemed to look right through them. He said nothing as he began to take strides away from the quartet, though he didn't go far before kneeling once again. The dark hair, still damp from his recent immersion pressed against the form of the albino killer whale (one of the few barely alive) just beneath its eye.

"Yu gonplei ste odon...Oso gonplei nou ste odon nowe. Jus drein jus daun." He spoke against the the lower jaw of the Orca, perhaps knowing that was where sound was transmitted to the creature's ear. It responded with a weak whistling through its blowhole and several audible clicks. "You did all that could be done."

Eddie wouldn't say there was honor in his death. This was as far removed from honorable as anything could be. More sounds escaped the albino. "Tallulah is safe." He had no idea how he was going to tell her about this. The sounds grew weaker, Eddie put his hand on the Orca's side pressing as tightly as he could since the other had no hands for him to hold to. "I'll tell her that it's okay for stone faces like her to laugh sometimes too."

The mammoth mouth opened and spewed forth something small as a pebble, which Eddie was quick to scoop up and thrust into his pocket despite the blood that coated it. The great mouth worked again forming audible words deeper than an earthquakes rumble. "I don't understand why this happened to us..." Unfortunately for the speaker, he would never get to hear the answer.

"Cuz we were born, kid." Curiosity had pulled at the quartet bringing them, hesitantly, closer to Eddie. They stopped with a visible flinch when he turned his eyes towards them.

"Please, we need to know what's happening here, and out there." The woman's voice was soft, a breathy hint tinged with fear and... interest. Under different circumstances he might have admired the courage it took to overcome her trepidation. Eddie lowered his hand to the sand to lever himself up. He wouldn't use the body for that, it had been through enough.

"It is said that when the first of our kind, the first of the Selkie emerged from the water to walk upright, she too was surrounded by enemies with razor teeth and ravenous appetites. Looking back...not on the past, just on where I've come from I begin to believe it might be true." He turned to face them, not caring that the front of his jacket was open. Had it not been for the gasp from the woman he'd not even have remembered.

"In the stories, she's always helped by the mother..." As he talked the coat shifted, disappearing in a faint shimmer of air leaving him bare chested, but wearing a pair of leather trousers of the same color. "A few skills, the encouragement she needed when she was afraid. It's said she had companions, but we never get to know who they were. Names lost to time...if any of it was ever real." He moved toward them, more an attempt to get a clearer view of the devastation along the beach.

"I wonder how long they'll remember the details of this? Will they know about Oralea, who'd been initiated into the sisterhood on her fifth birthday merely a month back? That she was so terrified when the attack hit her pod that she ran as fast as she could swim? Will any of us remember Owain..." His hand stroked the dry flesh of the albino. "How he charged after her as fast as he could, only to catch up too late and be surrounded? He managed to fight his way free... he was strong despite his youth. By then more than two dozen had been separated from their parents. Owain swam at their head, desperately trying to cut a path through. He was the only fighter among them, his enemies too many... what more could you expect from a twelve year old kid?"

Eddie held onto his resolve, the woman had asked and he would finish his tale. "You want to know what happened, but refuse to look around you and see it. Children died because they were too wounded and too weak to change, and disappear into the city."

"Why?" The question came, perhaps surprisingly so, from the Watchman.

Eddie bit the inside of his cheek hard enough to draw blood, it hurt but he managed to keep his control. Even if it did require him to squeeze his eyelids together to hold on. "You wouldn't understand, can't begin to comprehend this." He turned away from them, walking further up the shore towards the city.

"Try me!" It was the Watchman again, daring Eddie to give up his secrets.

"They believed too hard." He stopped, his hand clutching the railing of a set of stairs up to the street.

"What did they believe in?" It was the bearded one who asked that question. Eddie remembered the sound of his voice from when he'd come ashore. Something about the question set him into motion again.

He was all the way up the steps before he said anything, and there was no way the four of them would have heard his soft reply. "In me." He wanted to be away from that place, away from the scent of blood and death. He wanted to be behind the wheel of the purple Roadrunner with his foot pressed to the floor and the sound of base drowning out everything. There were people he could have called to come get him, one in particular would probably drop everything and run even if she accidentally burnt the carpet with a candle in doing so. The penthouse wasn't that far, a ten minute walk... even without shoes.

5
Just Desserts / Re:
« on: September 20, 2018, 08:04:47 PM »
[size=18]Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain[/size]

Love is like a dyin' ember
Only memories remain
Through the ages I'll remember
Blue eyes cryin' in the rain
~ Oesch's die Dritten

[size=18]Ysabeau[/size]

Ysabeau knelt in silence, breathing in the vague sent of the incense, just a hint of salt, and something that wouldn't be recognized on the surface - the kind of plants that grew in the deep and dark, and took planning and preparation to recover.  It was part of what made them sacred.  She didn't use this one often, but after the trials...Nim and her tricks, her insinuations.  After all that, and everything she'd seen in those wretched visions when the Mer had gone over the edge, she needed the time to sit and contemplate. To center herself.  So she had taken a bath, washing herself from head to toe in silence, and then set up the altar.  Incense.  An abalone shell.  One of the bioluminescent globes to light the space.  And a pendant. One of a pair, although the other wasn't accessible to her.  Nim had that.  Held it over her like a threat. But maybe...maybe if she helped the shaman achieve her goal, she could get it.  It wouldn't mean anything to anyone else.  Wouldn't bring him back.  But it would be something.

Taking a deep breath, the cosain focused, or rather let herself unfocus - Kaelin was never far from her thoughts.  She'd simply grown adept at hiding that fact from the others.  Beau didn't need to close her eyes, not anymore.  Not to summon his face, or the sound of his voice - even if it had been more years than she thought possible.  But she still sought his counsel.  And, if she were honest...she wasn't entirely certain it was all drawn from her memory.  He was part of her, true - he always would be.  But sometimes, it felt like he was truly there with her.

"What's wrong with your face?" The words came from nowhere, half jokingly and half serious they were accompanied by sounds and scents of the sea. He'd often said that everything began and ended there, but in the literal sense the black sand beach created by pulverized obsidian had been that. Kaelin had never appeared there before, and maybe that he was there now had something to do with where Beau's mind was. The dark expanse sparkled in sunlight, as it had the day they'd met, and the one they'd parted on. Here and there massive stones of the substance rose from the sand and out of the water making it clear enough what had created the odd beach. "Never did like you with that one, always seemed like you were ready to bite someone...usually me but I can honestly say that shouldn't be the case this time."

As Kaelin spoke, his frame solidified, starting as a mere shadow hidden amongst the black crystals and slowly becoming statuesque. He was still a shadow, but that was mainly because he stood with his back towards the sun. It was the best place to appear from after all, ask anyone. "No, my guess is someone closer to life than me, if only a little." The dark outline twisted, head turning to gaze around at the site that had manifested with him. "Two hundred years, and you still come here when you're upset." He stepped closer, his footfalls sounding in the granulated glass though he left no footprints in his wake. As he neared things became clearer. Kaelin had never been what people would call lean, a mass of shoulders arms and chest on a form that didn't quite top out at six feet. You'd be hard pressed to find any fat over the muscles, then again maybe Ysabeau was idealizing him. That wasn't impossible, right? Where his eyes really that blue, or his hair quite so dark despite that hints of silver that wove through it at the temples? Was he really here, or was that just the bits of him that he left behind? The entire thought line might not even be his own, but he'd play his part, pretend that it was, live a little longer though he was ages gone.

"It's home, still, Kaelin.  It will always be.  In no small part because...you're here."  She couldn't help the smile.  He'd always been able to do that.  "And no, it's not you.  It's her.  Again."  She very much doubted that he would need a clarification on who she was.  Nimsu had always been a thorn in Ysabeau's side, and Kaelin had often had to be the voice of reason. "Do you know what she's done, leannán?  She's been hiding your...successor.  Letting him grow up wild.  Untrained.  And now...now that he's slipped her leash and is charging around like a bullshark through coral...she wants me to step in.  To befriend him.  Guide him."  She let out a snickering little laugh.  "Get him away from the talamh faoi cheangal baineann he's got himself attached to.  I thought she was controlling him, now I don't know."  

For a moment, she simply stared at him, taking him in the way she always had.  Maybe she was idealizing him a little.  She had in life, why should it stop simply because he'd gone.  "She still blames me.  She'll always blame me.  Punish me.  For what happened.  But this...the Mer cosain is dead.  He went mad...and I think...I think Nimsu is trying to start a war." Beau ran a hand through her hair, and sighed, reaching a hand for the pendant that was always around her neck when she sought him out.  Here. In the place that had meant so much to both of them.  Better to remember him like this, than the last time she saw him.  

"Home." Kaelin settled onto the sand, looked to his left and pointed. "That's where I found you, too wild a thing to be tamed easily, and over there is where you told me you loved me, and I told you little girls don't really know what that word means. Up there is where I kissed you the first time and we... " His voice trailed off, and he turned his too blue eyes back to her. "But we're here, and this is where I bled out in front of you. I can only believe that we're here because of the uncertainty you're feeling." His hands idly began to hollow out a patch of sand between them. "Hiding him from who? Likely she said from you, but that's just Nim and you know you have to look beneath words meant to hurt. Perhaps it's the why of it that matters most?" A rogue wave broke and bulled its way across the sand infiltrating the space beneath Kaelin and filling the hole he'd been digging only to recede and leave a crystal clear pool behind.

"You say that the Mer was insane, but haven't we always been a reflection of those we serve? When I was alive the others always said I was far too bold, and maybe I was but we were strong then... the Roane. Look at you, cautious to the point that you unwittingly allied yourself to that insanity, so I wonder if war can really be avoided. I wonder what the benefit of Nim's choice to allow my successor to run wild." Kaelin dipped his hands into the pool, bringing them out with palms upright. A globe of water rested atop them, it should have been as clear as when it was formed, yet at the center of it there was motion. Figures struck out at one another, most unfamiliar, though Beau would recognize a pair of them, at least until the taller one became something altogether different. "Even setting aside his mistress of earth and stone and their relationship as a secondary concern, can you deny the obligation that The Mother has placed before you?" Kaelin's hands dropped away, the ball of water remained where it was playing out a scene of immense carnage. Whatever held it into place imploding as the transfigured form dove headlong into a luminous pool.

For a moment, she was distracted, following his gestures as he pointed out their own little map of moments.  Remembering them as her eyes found each location and her mind supplied the memories that went with them.  Good memories, most of them, now at least. Except that last.  The place where they now sat. The spot she'd held him as he died, and for a moment the pool was red, and she could see him lying there again.  Taking a sharp breath, Ysabeau closed her her eyes and shook her head, sharply, definitely.   It was easier, normally, to be in the spot than to see it. To not talk about it.  But now...well, now it seemed she was going to have to deal with all the things she didn't want to.  

"Of course there's benefit.  He doesn't bow to the Mer the way we were all trained to do.  The way they expect us to.  He's...cocky.  Like you were.  Bold. Daring.  Someone made sure he knows his heritage - but he's as comfortable on land.  Very little respect for authority."  The description made her cringe, but he wasn't wrong.  "He got Nim to put the mark on her - his little landwalker.  It took Jax. And then he took the reptile...and walked away.  The Mer thought...we thought...she was controlling him.  But then...maybe that's how she could see?  I couldn't get him out..."  She wasn't sure why she felt the need to say these things - she was talking to herself. To the face she missed more than the smell of salt and sun-warmed sand.  Except that it helped.  It always helped to talk to him.  It always had.  Even when he reminded her that Nim was the one who had brought them together - convinced him to train her.

"I know war is coming.  I know it's inevitable.  But I don't know...I just don't know if we're strong enough.  Even if Nim can convince her grandson to be what she wishes him to be..."

"Did you ever consider that it matters little what Nim wishes? After all..." His words were turned suddenly silent. Kaelin's lips still moved but the force of his voice was overtaken by the echoes of a massive gong. Sound reverberated from everywhere and nowhere at all tearing at the landscape toppling trees, shattering stone. His expression turned instantly from wizened counsellor to that shocked expression she'd only seen once before. The light dimmed as shadowy fingers slid across the sun curling into a massive fist and drowning everything in darkness... all except for eight points of light in the sky where once the sun had dwelt. There was a pattern to them, a distinct shape that could only have been put there on purpose. The Ara glowed white hot, it would be the last thing Ysabeau would see before being thrown from her meditations...that and the imprint of Kaelin's clutching hand on the sand.

6
Just Desserts / Re: Escargot Mail
« on: September 19, 2018, 11:53:24 PM »
Respect! The very sight of it was evident in the way the desk clerk scrambled at Tallulah's appearance through the revolving door. Fortunately, (for him), she didn't need to know what floor this time, though she did need access. She doubted that it would be quite as simple as her last trip here. Maybe she ought to have herself announced? That would be proper, honestly, if she were going to another Selkie clan. These were ground bound though and they didn't necessarily deserve proper treatment. Still, there were sugary things up there to be had, and it couldn't hurt to at least let the...woman know she was coming. It beat taking the stairs. If she were being honest, it was the sweets that brought her back not the infuriating cajoling of that rogue roane. Being big shouldn't excuse him from being nice no matter how much he smiled. He wasn't nice, he was a demanding oaf!

Thinking about how humiliated she felt was enough reason to lay her thumb on the bell like she was crushing a bug and leave it there until she was sure the message had been received. The air beyond the door when it opened smelled like hot fruit and something else she couldn't quite figure out but was sure she wouldn't like it. Tallulah held up a crumpled envelope, innocence all over her face as though she had accidentally crushed the letter in her fist. It wasn't her fault she was mad! She certainly hadn't asked to be here...again.

Pumpkin Pie,

I watched the sunrise this morning, probably not a big surprise that my attention is constantly directed eastward. It made me think about your hair, honestly that's about all I can do. Around here everyone's got a shade somewhere between brown and black with the latter being most evident. I wasn't supposed to be on shore, some mumbo jumbo about feeling the mother... I got bored and stopped listening. They'll figure out that this religious crap is not going to have an effect on me. Don't tell that to Talullah, the girl with the letter, if only because she'll happily say something to Bo and I'll be stuck going to prayers five times a day. Not that she's pious, she just prefers it when I'm the one being reprimanded. I can respect that, although lately I am not the only one on the beach in the morning. It was fortunate that we happened to be there at the same time, made it easier to convince her that it was time to make another delivery. You never did tell me what it was she'd been eating. Something unavailable here no doubt.

I understand that, what I want is unavailable here too, though I think if it were this morning's meeting on the beach would have caused a bit more of a commotion. Not that I would mind, or you either I assume. News, that's unavailable here too, unless you care about tuna movements which I really don't. That makes it up to you to keep me up to date. What am I missing, well besides you. Where is everyone? Princess fancy pants had very little to say to me when she returned. I did send her back though! Not that you doubted I would. I always find a way. Who've you got keeping the car in drivable condition? It needs to run at least twice a week. I'm sure Reggie wouldn't mind doing that, just remind him of the rules. He forgets things sometimes.

Tell me about you. I Miss you, that's with the big M not the little one so it's obviously more important. Tell me about your week or your day or anything that will make the distance between us seem smaller. Tell me that you...xxxx me.

Yours,

Eddie

P.S. I do too
.

7
Just Desserts / Escargot Mail
« on: September 10, 2018, 10:18:57 PM »
Disgruntled, discontented, displeased, dissatisfied...Tallulah was sure she'd think of a hundred more words to describe how she felt about being here. Not petulant though. In all of her fifteen years she'd never been petulant. The desk clerk hadn't helped any either, though she'd managed to get what she needed out of him. Fingers grew back, right? She could only listen to the "it's not our policy to divulge..." speech so many times. Nineteen was more than enough. Twenty was taking things way too far! True, he had offered to deliver the letter for her, but this was her task and she was sure that son of a fish eating squid would know she hadn't delivered it in person. Being pretty was no excuse for what he'd subjected her to! Flopping around like a fish out of water! Hmmph! The very thought of it had Tallulah laying on the doorbell and accidentally forgetting to let go until she heard the locks being undone and the door opening. She held on for another second or two just for good measure.

She greeted the small blonde landcow with fists tight and planted firmly against her hips. Not petulantly though, Tallulah was never petulant in all her fifteen years! Only after she'd rolled her eyes, huffed hard and grimaced did she produce the envelope marked quite distinctly with Pumpkin Pie. It was taken in that genteel forceful way that Tallulah had mastered recently. Blame the fish eater's son for that too. She said nothing, there was nothing she needed to say to land grazers! She was above that!


Pumpkin Pie,

It seems like forever since you walked out on me screaming your head off and flipping me the bird. No, wait, that was my brother. He's such a girl sometimes. The first part is right, it does seem like forever even if the how of it was different. I'd like to say that I miss you, that I can barely fall asleep at night because of it. I'd tell you that I'm constantly distracted which gets me into trouble, not that I'm a stranger to trouble since I met you. Don't look at me that way, I was a paragon of virtue and goodness before! Midnight came and went three hours ago, and I only know this because I hear the bells. I know, that's not really late at all, but they insist that I go to bed early annnd get up in THE MORNING! It's inhuman!

I don't know how they expect me to rest, the bed is cold and empty. The air is lacking the soft breathing that I'm used to, and somehow no matter how exhausted I am I feel unfulfilled. Why did I agree to this again? It's a damn, demented, rehab facility where everything is wet and not in the good way. Today I was thoroughly castigated for having weak morals... Me? Weak morals? I think perhaps someone is jealous because they don't know how to have good sex. I have no evidence of this of course, but I trust my weak moraled instincts.

I'm not going to ask how you are. I don't think I could take it if you were doing just fine. I'm not afraid to be alone, to do this without you. I'm afraid when it's over you won't... never mind... I prefer to think of you feeling just as alone, although I'll admit that's kind of a turn on. That of course leads me to fantasizing about just showing up out of nowhere and finding our own special way to drown out the bells. You just thought about it didn't you?

I'm not supposed to be doing this, even suggesting contact made Bo's face even more frowny than normal. You know what I'm talking about. Still, you'd be surprised what you can get just for being tall. I mean, the kid that brought this really wanted to have a whale bone dagger. The hardest part was convincing the whale to give it up... for me at least. For her it was much more difficult to reach it while I held it over my head until she agreed to smuggle letters for me. And they think I have weak morals. She'll bring one back too, but you have to give her the proper signal. You'll need to clap three times like a seal and then balance a ball on your nose. That means I need you to wait while I write a reply.

I'd like to say all of those things, but we both know they're not true because I'm pretty much heartless and unfeeling. I don't say things, because saying them makes it hurt more when I get left behind. It changes things, and neither of us need that kind of heartache. So, I'd like to say I love you, but you know I'm incapable of that feeling too. We both know it, right?

Xxxe,

Eddie.


(written on the backside of the page)

P.S. All of that is true, except the clapping and ball bit. Maybe one or two other things.

8
Just Desserts / Re:
« on: July 02, 2018, 10:24:12 PM »
[size=18]When I’m Gone[/size]

There's another world inside of me that you may never see
There's secrets in this life that I can't hide
Somewhere in this darkness there's a light that I can't find
Maybe it's too far away, maybe I'm just blind
Maybe I'm just blind

So hold me when I'm here, right me when I'm wrong
Hold me when I'm scared and love me when I'm gone
Everything I am and everything in me
Wants to be the one you wanted me to be
~ 3 Doors Down


[size=18]Lumira[/size]

Forgetting was easier than Lumira ever thought it would be. She’d forgotten things, the taste of free air, the kiss of the sun on her skin, she’d lost them and more. Right now she’d even forgotten how much she hated the name Lumira, preferring to leave the first two letters off. No one called her Mira now, no one called her anything. She clung to the things that she refused to lose, family but they all thought her dead by now surely. It was impossible to tell how long she’d been held, they’d moved her often in the beginning believing that someone would come looking. If they had, they’d yet to find her. She’d tried to mark the days on the wall only to be taken away and forced to start over again. There was light the sort that dominated so many of the temples of her people. Not that these were her people, but the bioluminescent orbs were a shared luxury. Of course there was only light, it had taken getting used to in order for her to actually manage to sleep but she had. She still dreamt too, that was something they couldn’t take away from her. The bindings made it harder, bracelets of gold chained to a golden collar around her neck. Mira had grown used to its weight while she was awake, though she still woke herself up with a hard yank when the nightmares took over the dream.

The collar and cuffs served two purposes, yes they kept chained to an iron ring on the wall, but the arcane symbols that lined them kept her from reaching her abilities. She could still change, they needed that, but her command over fire and water were squelched. Sometimes she dreamed that she still held it, or that she was walking free. Sometimes she dreamed of the attack that came out of the depths only this time everything didn’t go black even if she did wake up in the same condition. A dream had woken her, but it wasn’t that one, it wasn’t the nightmares either. There was a song in her dream, a distant memory that was sung so powerfully that Mira had woken herself up humming it.

“How are you feeling today, better?” Mira hadn’t heard the turn of the key in the door, her mind was so full of the lullabye that it actually drowned out real sounds. It was the same routine, the faces changed often enough but always this was the same. She’d seen this mermaid before, here of course but somewhere else as well.

The woman spoke kindly to her at least, that was more than any of the others would give her. Not that Mira ever spoke back, not even to the pink haired maiden. Why should she when she could see what was in store, the empty vials on the cart that would soon turn crimson as they bled her to keep her weak. Mira thought she was past reacting to it, but the song, the sight, the sensation of the needle being forced into her arm pulled a sob out of her.

 Help me, Mira sent out a silent cry to the mother to anyone who might be listening, flinching as the needle bit deep and red began to fill the vial. It wasn’t the pain that had her reacting, but the sudden darkness that encompassed the cell. Her nurse didn’t seem to notice, pulling free a full vial and pushing a new one onto the needle. Flickering light barely broke the darkness with an odd purple hue that danced along the walls, not her walls…theirs...his.

Mira hadn’t seen the faces of her sons for longer than she could guess, but there they were. Eddie’s dark eyes fierce...angry...so very angry. He was there, and then he was gone, it was the other face that held her visage now. Long as it had been since she’d seen Eddie, it had been far longer for her oldest. He looked so much older now, but there was no mistaking those eyes of green and amber or the anguish that filled their depths. Kruger’s mouth moved, she could read his lips, hear the words bleed over the song in her head, I will protect you in the night, and Lumira began to laugh, long loud and hysterically.


The mermaid had stopped, looking at Lumira like she’d finally broken on the inside. The commotion had the door banging open and a second woman entering older and wearing a face that was far from happy. “They’re coming…” Lumira squeezed the words in between gales of uncontrollable laughter.

“Has she gone mad, Mother? Surely by now she knows that no one is coming.” The words were barely out of the young mermaids mouth when the room began to tremble. The vials of blood smashed against the floor when the cart overturned. The pink haired acolyte had to grab hold of Mira’s bed to stay on her feet. She looked to the older woman for some kind of sign, fear linmed her eyes.

“I have to go, we all have to go to the the sanctuary.” Lumira’s laughter echoed down the halls long after the heavy cell door slammed closed and the lock was engaged.

9
Just Desserts / Re:
« on: May 16, 2018, 10:22:04 PM »
[size=18]Shine[/size]

Give me a word
Give me a sign
Show me where to look
Tell me what will I find
~ Collective Soul

Enlightenment Park, Kruger doubted anyone would ever get the full punchline of the place. It was his contribution to the city meant as a place where kids could play and home to a library where everyone could learn if that were their desire. The property that had been given to him, once held a community center dedicated to a once and now not so dead Jewell Ravenlock. It had been a gift from her brother for special services. What those were only a chosen few would ever know, that was part of the joke now wasn’t it? At the center of the park rose a spire nearly four hundred feet into the air. It wasn’t the tallest thing in the city by far, but no one could say that Kruger didn’t like to make a show of almost everything. This late, the park was empty, the library closed, and even though he’d urged Eddie to park in the parking lot, the spire was not his goal this evening. There was knowledge to be gained in every aspect of the park, even if it were something so simple as when to just play. Enlightenment however could only be found when you got beneath the surface. The real punchline was that so far as he was concerned.

The library had many doors, there was the main entrance located inside the park, a rear entrance on the street, and several emergency exits which lined the sides of the building. There was another one, concealed unless you knew the way. Fortunately for Kruger he did, mostly because he’d made it, but that’s not really important. More important was what lay beyond that door. He ushered Eddie and Tahlia through it, letting the thing close and become one with the foundation once more. For a moment they were in complete darkness, and then a purple light pierced that veil. The wall was broken at shoulder height (to him and Tahlia) by a vein of crystal which revealed a path that curved inward in a long spiral. Kruger nearly spoke, looking at the two of them before closing his mouth and just starting down the winding corridor. Their walk took them deep beneath the library, Fibonacci would have been pleased with Kruger’s use of his formula which ended at yet another door nearly six hundred feet beneath the city. The glowing crystal ended at a rectangular shape on the wall to which he pressed his hand. The door swung inward, only then revealing how massive it was. Eight feet from floor to ceiling, another six across and four deep. Maybe he was trying to hide something important down there? “This isn’t something I let people see very often.” He shot a look at Eddie as he spoke. “Normally I trust them.”

Tahlia had been quiet on the way over, taking the opportunity to curl against Eddie’s side and close her eyes for just a few minutes.  The fight had taken a lot more out of her than she was willing to admit to.  Maybe that’s why she stayed quiet as they followed Krugers lead, into the library and down.  Tahlia’d never been to the park before, and had no idea there was even a library there.  Oops.  To be fair, she’d been a little busy.  

The corner of her lips ticked upwards at the light, or rather, the color of the light.  She might be harboring some sneaking suspicions that the brothers were more alike than either would ever admit.  Peridot eyes slid over the stone, and along the path.  Something seemed vaguely familiar, but she couldn’t quite see the scope of it.  All she knew was that they had gone a long way, and this...this was not a normal space.  Kruger’s voice drew her attention, and she started to reply before just shaking her head with a sigh.  She hadn’t spoken to her siblings, save Luc, since she arrived...who was she to judge?

Eddie hated driving in silence, though technically the engine made that impossible. Still, he’d turned off the music just in case. Not that he thought Kruger wouldn’t like the music, if anything he was a bigger showboat than Eddie could ever be…if he did say so himself. His brother had remained silent too, much as that irked Eddie. He could tell by the occassional glance in the rearview mirror that the other man was thinking. The stubborn ass wouldn’t share though. Of course he also hadn’t given up the scrap of skin since he’d taken it either, another thing that was putting Eddie out. He’d been the one to find it, now he’d be lucky to pry it from Kruger’s cold dead fingers. Stubborn, selfish...ASS. He had no problem telling Eddie what to do though, turn here...park there...no over there, seriously what was the difference?

The hidden door absolutelydidn’t surprise Eddie. Just because one minute the wall was solid and the next it was a gaping maw didn’t mean he was surprised. The momentary darkness did at least give him the opportunity to send a pinch to Tahlia’s backside, at least he hoped it was hers. Pinching Kruger’s tush wasn’t anywhere near his bucket list. The ambience once that door closed was nice too, everything going from black to a nice purple haze, it was a little known fact that Eddie sort of liked purple… now that song was stuck in his head though. He also wasn’t being childish, like he could be. Not once in the entire long walk did he actually come out and say, are we there yet? He wanted to, the words needed saying, especially since this time he wasn’t the one doing the guiding...or driving. “Jesus, I didn’t know you had access to a bank vault.” Eddie’s tone was sarcastic, and who could blame him really considering what Kruger had said. It wasn’t because the lack of trust had made him wince. That would mean he actually cared what Kruger thought of him. Nothing could be further from the truth...not one little thing.

Kruger just shook his head and stayed silent. He’d been silent most of the time since leaving his shop, he had reasons and they were multilayered. First and foremost, he needed to think about what he wanted to do, what he actually could do and perhaps more importantly how to make that happen. Having Eddie around just gave him a viable excuse that would uphold the image of him being a brainless buffoon. In a strange way he’d never cared much if people thought that about him, that might be obvious from the way he acted in certain circles. It was in some ways a test to those around him to see if they genuinely wanted to know him or simply accepted his minor eccentricities. It was just a pity that Eddie refused to do that and stay away. The massive door swung shut again with a heavy whumpf of air and a rapid fire clicking as multiple locks moved into place. “I’m not paranoid.” It was best to cut off those thoughts before they were given voice!

Echoes followed the doors closing, the purple glow that had guided them downward branched out into an openness that was nearly as long as the distance they’d traveled under the city. They were in the center of a vast corridor whose walls were sixty feet away to the right and left and rose another hundred to an arched ceiling which added another twenty at its pinnacle. There were massive supporting columns and the floor was stone polished to a high sheen. Everywhere the eye looked there were carvings, some simple elemental symbols, others more complex ideas like chaos, order and balance. Most were formulaic in nature, and might as well be a language unto themselves for how tightly packed together they were. Here, unlike the path down the light brightened. It began slowly, almost as though the place weren’t certain that this was what was required of it. Purple went to blue and then to a muted white illuminating things to something more normal. Considering who’d built it, maybe abnormal was the reason behind the confusion.

There were doorways along the corridor, most of them hid their attributes behind closed doors. The light at least made the opposite end of the place visible some five hundred ten feet away, though it was obscured by a solitary column in the center of the subterranean chamber. Kruger took a deep breath and let it out in an audible sigh. The sound was picked up by every curved surface making the entire place feel like it too was breathing. He started forwards walking towards that center column. “There’s rooms over there for you to freshen up in. A bed to catch a few hours of sleep. You should probably do that.” Drawing nearer to the sanctum’s center revealed even more about the place, the center column wasn’t a column at all. It rose up from the floor ninety meters and supported a large circular platform. Above that rose a dome another ninety meters leaving the top of the platform even with the circular opening. The domes ceiling was painted into a representation of the night sky over Rhydin, though somehow the moons which appeared up there were in perfect alignment with the pair of celestial bodies that orbited the planet. “I’ll need at least an hour anyway. You can find me, up there.” He pointed to the platform with one finger, turning toward them and blocking their forward progress. “This is the boring stuff. Nobody really wants to see it.”

Tahlia opened her mouth to protest...but right now, there were other things she needed more than satisfying her curiosity about the smith, and what he could do.  She’d seen forges...back when they were common enough to have one on every corner, practically. This...this was like none of them.  It felt more like a church - a temple to the act of creation.  Some of the designs on the walls, the formulas, she supposed she should call them, looked like the kind of things her brother would scribble as he experimented and tested.  They’d never made sense to her, but… “Louis would love this place…” She spoke in a whisper.  Somehow the place seemed to insist on it, from her at least.  She wasn’t sure either of the other two was capable of whispering.  Or at least not what normal people thought of as whispering.  

She had a feeling Eddie would insist on being there, without an excuse.  Other than that night on the beach, she didn’t think she’d ever seen him tired.  Even if Kruger wouldn’t let him up, he’d insist...and something told her this place wasn’t a good place to challenge the smith, if anywhere really was.  Turning, she laid a hand on Eddie’s forearm, right above the pumpkin pie inked into his skin.  “Puddin...could we?  The salt is really starting to sting where those Mer caught me...and I might need help washing it off.  Please?”  She didn’t mind playing damsel, just this once.

Eddie didn’t once feel the need to duck, that was unsettling enough that he didn’t even say the smartass comment about Kruger overcompensating for his shortcomings. He’d wanted to, really he did but something held his tongue in check. He stopped walking where the dome chamber opened up, and the walls darted away into a pair of deep transepts. It irked him somewhat that he hadn’t known about this place when he’d taken so much satisfaction in knowing everything. The writing was on the wall though, literally, and to Eddie it might as well be Greek. Come to think of it, maybe some of it was. Kruger was too eager to have them leave him alone, it made Eddie suspicious. He wasn’t a suspicious man by any means, not of anyone or anything...usually… with the exception of everyone that is. He wanted to please Tahlia, but just felt like he was being left out of something important. “What exactly are you hiding?” Other than a massive underground structure buried beneath a park.

“Hiding? Nothing. I mean, you can come too, but unless you know about how to integrate Schrodinger's Quantum Mechanical formula on Harmonic Motion via the Unity Molecular formula to extract heavy metal biorhythms. You’ll just get in my way.” Behind him as he spoke the names, portions of the intricate carvings lit up brighter than those which surrounded them. He watched Eddie’s face for a reaction, but the tall man was a study in stone.

“I think… Tahlia needs my help a little more.” He was pretty good at getting those hard to reach spots. Eddie relented to the tug at his arm, turning his back on the smith and pretty much every bit of the spectacle of the building behind him. “Besides, math is for nerds and geeks.” Eddie might admit later that he was in awe of the place...to Tahlia...when no one else was around, but he wasn’t going to let that stop him from getting the last word in against Kruger. Eddie wasn’t picky, Kruger had said rooms, so he went to the first door and pulled it open to let Tahlia go in ahead of him. He shut the door behind them, looking at the little blonde with a half perplexed expression. “Told you he could help…” The words didn’t match the expression in the least, Eddie was a walking talking conundrum.

She was almost used to that, catching sight of that look of his over her shoulder.  “You did.  Hopefully you two can keep from killing each other long enough to let him.”  She was already letting her hair down, and tugging the torn tank top over her head.  There was nothing really to be done about her clothes...even torn, this outfit seemed a better idea than the ‘something slinky’ she’d thought she’d be wearing by now.  The shower hadn’t just been an excuse, the edges of those cuts were an angry red - salt wasn’t poisonous, just painful.  Sitting down on the bed to pull off her boots, she flopped backwards.  “Oh god...I shouldn’t have done that..now I don’t want to get up…”  It was a surprisingly comfortable bed.

10
Just Desserts / Re:
« on: May 10, 2018, 03:24:08 PM »
For those who actually read and are following the Renegade thread. There is more to come, progress has been slow lately due to late work nights for me. Often when I arrive home I'm in zombie mode. This is unfortunate because I have no zombie characters. :P

11
Just Desserts / Re:
« on: April 13, 2018, 09:16:00 PM »
[size=18]The Vengeful One[/size]

...No forgiveness from all I've seen
The degradation I cannot forget
So sleep soundly in your beds tonight
For judgement falls upon you at first light....

...You'll die
You'll know why
For you cannot be saved
This world is too depraved
When you die
You'll know why

I'm the hand of God
I'm the dark messiah
I'm the vengeful one
(Look inside and see what you're becoming)...
~ Disturbed

Something boiled inside Eddie, it churned and spun, a maelstrom in the deepest ocean whose outer rim was a mass of blades. Their razor sharp edges cut into him, not physically, he didn’t bleed...didn’t bleed blood at least. The keening had started low, too soft to be heard above the clash of weapons, but with each utterance of the word *bleed* it grew, drowning him with the agony of its vibration as the savage edges inside him cut away everything but the growing rage. It oozed in him until it filled every inch of his six foot six frame, and then it burst out of his pores like sweat after a long night of sex.

“Where is she!” Eddie’s voice rebounded off the walls and ceiling of the cavern, but even its volume didn’t give the Mer closing on Tahlia any pause. They ignored him...no, they sought to hurt him even more by taking one more from him. This would not do, no... it would not! Eddie stood up, his ears picking up the sound of cloth being torn. Had one of them gotten through? His hands still held to his pistols, but this was far more personal and required his very special loving touch. They barely made a sound as they hit the sand. Turning, Eddie started towards those who sought to engulf Tahlia leaving them behind as unnecessary as an afterthought would be.

The closest of them was lean, like all the Mer seemed to be. Eddie hadn’t spent nearly so much time at sea as most of his kin, but he’d never seen a powerfully built Mer. He towered over the scalemailed creature, one hand grasping it about the throat and pulling it back and up to look him in the face. Its mouth opened, a yelp constricted by one of his massive hands. That was when he felt the things blade take him in the shoulder. It was an odd sensation, the bite of the edge, the sting of air as the mer pulled it free and readied another such strike. Eddie moved quicker, lunging outwards, it was barely more than a shrugging push and release of the Mer and yet its body crossed the expanse of the chamber hit the weathered stone wall and dropped to the sand unmoving. He reached out for a second one, shaking it when it tried to attack until it dropped its weapon. Then he pulled it right up to his own face.


“I said…” His voice had been deep since it had first changed, but even he didn’t recognize the rumbling that came from his mouth. “...where is…” His hand was massive, too massive, it completely encircled the Mer’s neck. The thing gasped as it struggled to breathe. He was tall, but it had taken too long to lift the thing in his hand, his furred hand. Silver grey fur ran along his arm and Eddie knew that if he concentrated he would be able to feel the movement in the air with every single strand. To make matters worse, the rumble he’d begun with took on a feral growl as he bared teeth that shouldn’t be that large or wickedly pointed. “...my mother?!”

Tahlia couldn’t spare as much attention to Eddie as he deserved, pressed as she was on all sides.  Her daggers were coated, slick, so much so that when one stuck, her hand slipped free, and she was left with only the one blade. Only for a moment, as she grabbed a spear heading toward her ribs, and spun inside its reach, killing the Mer with a single strike, and taking the spear for her own.  It was unwieldy, but did what she needed it to, her lips still moving, calling the blood from their veins as she twisted and ducked, the sand beneath her feet darkening.  Dropping for a low sweep, she realized the Mer around her were either dying, or frozen.  Turning her head slowly, she realized that the roaring sound in her ears hadn’t been her heartbeat, or the song of the blood in her veins, but the sound of Eddie’s roar echoing through the cavern.  Taking the chance to catch her breath, she found herself instead gaping, her eyes wide. Eddie was...bigger.  Different.  Different was an understatement.  He’d grown over a foot, and those teeth...the fur...she’d seen him as a seal before.  Now he was - almost both, but neither.  

She was covered in crimson streaks, could feel it drying in her hair, and flaking from her skin. Not her blood, of course.  That remained where it was supposed to, even though there were spots where her clothes were split and torn, and so, presumably, was the skin beneath.  His mother.  Something in the look he’d had last had told her that Eddie, at least, had thought she was dead, until he’d found whatever he’d been looking for in the sand.  Tahlia’s heart twisted in her chest, but she’d long ago given up believing in miracles.  At least for herself.  If Eddie could have one...well, she’d do as much as she could to make that happen.  

Frustrated at the silence coming from the Mer in his grip, Eddie tried to shake the information free again only to hear a sickening pop from it. It stared lifelessly at him, something even more ungratifying. He turned his gaze on the two that were closing on Tahlia and his anger boiled once more. “Mine!” He hurled the body towards them, one managed to dodge the incoming mass of dead Mer, the other wasn’t so skilled. It hit him full on knocking him to the sand in a tangle of limbs. Eddie’s form wasn’t far behind that toss, he began to close with the Mer that was still standing. It moved into a defensive position, poised to attack but Eddie ignored it passing between it and Tahlia. He bent and scooped up a fallen spear continuing on a path that put him over the Mer pile he’d just created. Up went a massive arm and down, sending the tip of the spear through both torso’s like wet paper.

“Maybe that’ll help you get the point.” It wasn’t his best line by a long shot, but he was under a lot of stress. Something had happened that he didn’t understand or even know was possible, let alone how he’d managed it. There was no form like this among his people, not even the rumor of it. In his relatively short twenty five years he’d never had this happen and there was the worry that he didn’t know how to get out of it. It wasn’t like becoming the seal, not exactly at least. For that he didn’t have to think about it, he just was it. At the very least, bad jokes aside, he still had his mind. That pass between the Mer and Tahlia had been for her benefit, should she choose to use the distraction.

The remaining Mer had pulled short, and was too busy watching Eddie to see the silver blade that  flew from Tahlia’s hand, and buried itself just above the scale armor.  The blades were gloriously weighted, she’d have to thank Kal for the gift of them, and make sure she found the other one.  She hadn’t Called so much blood forth in a very long time, and she leaned heavily on one hand, watching the gurgling fishman collapse to the sand.  Pale green eyes shifted to watch Eddie as he dispatched a squirming pile of scales and limbs, and she let out a sigh of relief. It was done.  They’d survived.  More than that, they had succeeded.  The Mer had no foothold, not anymore, and if not tonight, than perhaps one night soon, the cavern they were in would be crushed beneath the weight of the temple.  

If she hadn’t been so tired, perhaps she would have noticed the figure stumbling up from the wall, and barrelling toward her at a run.  Not to hurt her, but because she was between him, and the water.  Slim, yes, but the figure still had height and weight on the petite blonde.  Half-kneeling, she couldn’t move fast enough, not to get out of the way, but she could try to tangle him up enough to keep him on the shore.  Try, at least.  Instead, the Mer dragged her with him, and she barely managed a breath before he tumbled them both into the glowing pool.  The splash drenched the shoreline, and she sank beneath the surface, releasing her hold to save herself.

The sound of their collision was enough to pull Eddie back to the blonde just in time to see her go over the edge and into the pool. He didn’t know what might be down there, beyond the fleeing Mer. Would it seize the opportunity to take her down with it? He couldn’t take the chance that it wouldn’t. He pulled the tatters of his shirt from his body, that ever present jacket of his was gone. That was less of a surprise than what he’d become, some things are just too obvious to be surprised at… like Eddie Blake diving headfirst into the pool without ever checking the depths.

It happened, as it always happened. The instant he hit the water he simply was the massive Leopard seal, sixteen feet from snout to back flippers and well over half a ton of fun. If proof were needed, it could be found in the slowly sinking denim jeans. The only real difference perhaps was that the lichen filled pool may have given Tahlia a far better view of the transformation than she’d had in dark waters. Like this he could bend in ways that would make a contortionist jealous, he turned back on himself heading for Tahlia and taking her arm as gently as he could in his mouth to bring her towards the surface once more. He waited, every heartbeat taking the Mer farther from them, but he had to see her onto the shore safely. Only then did he dive again and not come back up.

At least this time she had the leather between his teeth, and her arm.  One arm found the shore, and she clung, turning to meet those familiar terra cotta eyes, and stroke a hand along that enormous head as he let her go, and she hauled herself up out of the water.  There was nothing left on the surface to hurt her.  Coughing, she dragged herself clear of the shore, and set her back against a stone.  She’d seen Eddie leave the water before, and she didn’t wish to be in his way when he returned.  At least she was clean, now, or cleaner, the blood washed away in the pool.  Eventually, she wondered if the rest of the blood they’d spilled would seep into the water.  Truthfully, she didn’t care, as long as the leopard seal returned.  

Taking a few breaths, she rose, and searched the sand, and the bodies, reclaiming her silver daggers, and taking them back to the water to clean them.  Blood would etch silver if left too long.  So would salt water, but there wasn’t much she could do about that.  Tearing a strip from the bottom of her tank top, she dried the blades, and set them back in their holsters, and then went to collect the rest of their weapons.  Sentimental value, of course.  Stripping out of her jacket, she let her hair down, and hoped she’d have a chance to dry out.  Beyond that, she watched the pool, and waited.

The Mer had most of the advantages, time gained while Eddie aided in getting Tahlia out of the pool and knowledge of the pathways to take once Eddie was on the hunt. It had another, the ability to breathe underwater but that wasn’t going to stop him from chasing down the Mer. It was injured and that slowed it down tremendously, not that it could have outpaced him anyway. Eddie’s underwater eyesight was superior to many of his own kind, not surprising considering where Leopard seals usually hunted. The odd illumination came from the algae, but it was how it lay that gave away the path of his prey. It spotted him closing in, swam harder nearly making it to the exit and open waters, but Eddie put on a burst of speed. His mouth opened wide and wickedly pointed teeth closed on the Mer. He wasn’t so delicate with this one as he had been of Tahlia. Scale mail shattered under his bite, prompting him to close his mouth even harder until he felt the flesh give way and blood rush across his tongue. Abruptly he changed directions, powerful jaws pulling the Mer sideways and pushing him along back the way they’d come giving a vigorous shake whenever the Mer made any attempt to strike at him.

Time ticked onwards, seconds aged into long minutes with no change coming to the surface of the pool. The waves of their passing had died leaving the pool calm and placid, until water exploded outwards. The muscular neck of the massive seal flexed, Mer filled maw jerking sideways as Eddie treated it like he would any penguin. Flesh tore in his teeth, the Mer’s body came away from his bite and landed hard on the floor of the cavern, exacerbating the injuries sustained earlier when it had hit the wall. A wave of water rose as Eddie launched himself to the sand, flipper becoming hand on contact with the earth and curling into fist as he stood and stalked the Mer once more. He was bare, save for his ever present leather jacket. There were very few times he would ever be spotted without it, and only one who’d had opportunity to don its surprising warmth.

“Where?!” The word was half question half shout, Eddie dropped to his knees and loomed over the prone Merling. The raspy snicker it directed his way was answered by a hard punch to the face. Eddie showed little regard for the needle like teeth that lined its mouth. The blow didn’t bring any answers, nor did the next one perhaps it would have if he’d given the thing a chance to talk, but he was still in that rage. The question would sound half a second before another hard punch hit the Mer square in the face. Eddie didn’t notice when the thing lost consciousness, nor did he stop his assault. It’s face went from bloody mess to flat faced. Its skull broke apart, and the big man didn’t stop punching even though blood and brains coated his fist.


The Mer flying overhead woke Tahlia from her reverie, and she scrambled to her feet.  She hardly needed to, since it wasn’t moving, and even if it had, Eddie was right there.  Not making a sound, Tahlia watched the seal rise up out of the pool, following his prey. Because there was no mistaking that that was what the Mer had become.  The squelching sound of the blows continued long after the snap of delicate bones had ceased.  She knew that sound, knew it well, and for a moment, she forgot where she was.  Not-so-distant memories took hold, and it took her a minute to recover, one hand rubbing at a hidden scar along her ribs.  All the while, the sound never stopped, until there was no way the creature still lived...Eddie might as well have been tenderizing steak.  Maybe he was.  She’d never thought to ask what he ate out there in the deep blue.  

He’d changed when he hit the sand, the fur was gone, and there was a sparkle of silver at his throat, along with a deep red line that hadn’t been there before.  Wincing, because testing out how that cord would survive his change hadn’t exactly been in her plans for the evening, at least it had done what she’d hoped - it kept him safe...the only blood she could see was splatters from the bloody punching bag beneath his fists.

“Puddin?  Whatever you’re tryin’ to teach him, he’s past learnin’...and I can’t imagine they taste any better than they smell.”  She stayed back, not reaching out to touch him, her leather streaked with salt where it was slowly drying out, hair a tangle of waves and salt-flecked curls.  “Eddie...baby, he’s dead.  More than.” How much it would do to help her nightmares, she wasn’t certain.  But now wasn’t the time to mention that.  “I have the weapons, your shirt’s kinda shot...and I’m not going back in there for your jeans.  Tell me you still have the keys?” Maybe focusing on the minutia would help him come out of whatever still held him in its grip.

His fist halted mid fall, he looked at what he’d done and smiled ever so slightly. One finger came to his lips as he turned his head and looked at Tahlia. It left a streak of red on them, standing up he rolled the body into the pool and let it sink out of sight. Maybe it would find his pants? Doubtful. He’d forgotten, it was easy to do that sometimes, curling a finger at her he stepped towards one of the walls and put his ear to it indicating that she should do the same. The hard stone surface pulsed, something deep inside sounding like a heartbeat that was out of sync. “Close your eyes… and hear the way out.”

When she complied, she might pick up something more over that odd heartbeat. A hard guitar bassline that mingled in, a steady vibration that wove around and through the wall. “Never brought the keys in.” Why would he? The car kept his sense of direction, in a weird way it told him where not to go. “This isn’t over, Tahlia…” She probably already knew that though. Eddie turned and looked across the chamber, searching for something he’d lost. “Where is it?” Had it gotten buried again, there were so many scents in here that everything was mingling together. He moved, heading back into the chamber until he felt the tug on his arm. It wasn’t the one coated in blood, and yet it was still a tentative little thing...just enough.

She’d followed him to the wall, heard that unmistakable thump of bass, and allowed herself a small smile.  No wonder he loved that car so much - she should have guessed it wasn’t just for the bench seats and the surging horsepower.  She took a moment to lean there, catch her breath, tired, yes, but not enough that her magic faltered.  Still blonde, for one, and while the spots where the Mer had gotten past her guard stung from the saltwater bath, they didn’t bleed.  Tahlia knew it wasn’t over - how could it be? If someone had told her her mother lived...shaking her head, she realized Eddie had stumbled off, scanning the sand.

She knew what he was looking for.  It was there in her off hand, the one not wrapped lightly around his bicep.  Tahlia held the skin out to him, carefully positioned fur-side up.  The granulation stuck to her palm, a little, but she knew enough to figure out what that scrap of hide was.  Who’s it was.  “Eddie…” What could she say, really?  “I found it when I was gathering the weapons.  I didn’t think you’d want to leave it behind.”

Eddie took it from her, and drew it up to his nose once more to inhale. The smell made his breath shudder again, for whatever reason. There was no rage in him this time, no change into something he didn’t begin to understand. “Thank you.” It was a simple two word statement, not nearly enough to say what it really meant. He knew what it was, what it was supposed to do and that it had nearly succeeded. It might have had he gone into this alone. Once he’d have done just that. “She was…” He shook his head, not willing to finish by saying here. “They did this, hurt her to get to me, but they’re just soldiers, barely better than drones. They don’t know anything.”

The ones who did were long gone, had been from the moment the car had turned into the driveway. He could have wished until his hands were full and never changed that fact. “We need to go see someone. I have a change of clothes in the car.” Eddie glossed over certain things, ignoring them perhaps so long as she was. “How much edge do your knives have left?” He pulled his arm from her grasp, only to lay it over her shoulder. His other hand relieved her of some of the burden of weapons she’d recovered. There was urgency in both the question and the way he was imploring her by touch towards the entrance to this place.

Tahlia wasn’t big enough to slow him down, and she didn’t even try.  Getting out of that blood-stained cavern was on her short list of gifts today.  “My daggers? They don’t seem to dull, really, although salt water and creepy fish-guy blood can’t be good for them.  Might need to clean them again...why?”  She could ask and walk at the same time, although she was having to take a couple of steps to his one.  It was fine though, more than.  

Looking down at her likely ruined leathers, the blonde shook her head, and spat out a salty strand that stuck to her lips.  “Yeah, I do too.  Not sure it’s the right kind of thing for a meeting though.  Someone said slinky.”  She’d assumed he meant dancing, somewhere dark and loud where they could wind each other up until they couldn’t take it anymore.  Not...whatever happened now.  “Do you think we could swing by my place?  Get a shower, something a little more suitable for meeting...people.”  One name sprang to mind, given everything, but she wasn’t going to say it first.  If they were going to meet the ice queen, Tahlia wanted to look a little more presentable for that kind of company.

“No, but don’t worry, I don’t think he’ll mind.” Eddie put the skin back into Tahlia’s hand. “Think you could make this into one long thin strip?” It would mean cutting it in a spiral assuming her blades were up to the task. If not it might just have to wait a bit. “Then putting the amulet on it… cuz my neck’s on fire here, Pumpkin.” He tugged at the cord that had left a red ring around his throat, but didn’t take it off. He’d do that when the other was ready, and then it would go right back on. “I need to see a man about an iron.” Cryptic as always, it wasn’t that Eddie didn’t want to share information there were just some things he couldn’t really bring himself to say aloud. She would, or should know that about him already. “And trust me when I say, he’s seen you worse.”

She took the skin, sliding one of the blades out as they continued up, and out.  “I think so, yeah…”  If her hands shook a little, it could probably be forgiven - this was his mother's skin, unless she’d misunderstood everything.  And enigmatic as Eddie was, that reaction had been blazingly clear, at least to her.  It had been...a very long time since she’d done work like this, but there was an old adage about bicycles for a reason.  She set the blade, and then focused on their surroundings, letting muscle memory take over.  A long thin spiral twisted around the blade as she worked - not the whole thing, even Eddie didn’t need that much cord.  But enough.  More than, really.  She had an idea, in case he decided to do that half-man, half-seal thing again.  Still moving, she held her hand out for the amulet - for her idea to work, she’d need to string it herself.  “He’s…” Iron.  She only knew one person they both knew who would be able to answer metallic jeopardy.  And who had seen her worse than she was now.  “We’re going to see the blacksmith.”

A hard tug on the amulet broke the cord holding it, maybe it was the salt water? It could have been, right? Eddie handed it over to her without breaking a step. His expression was an unreadable mismash of emotions. He breathed hard through his nose as though trying to expel the reek of the temple. He should have rigged it to blow, but that would have been far less a warning to those who came to find it. Stay out of the harbor and off the land, or find more of the same. Maybe he should have blown it anyway, to hide what they would understand to easily. He wasn’t done with them, and they already knew the why of it. Eddie nodded as Tahlia latched onto the whom they were going to see. “We’re going to see...my brother.”

12
Just Desserts / Re:
« on: April 13, 2018, 09:03:11 PM »
[size=18]Devil[/size]

You said it yourself you're scared of being alone
You said it yourself that you can crack the code
But the static you hear automatically keeps you exposed on your own
I hope you're ready, steady, smashing through the levy...

...'Cause it's about to get heavy
It's about to be on
Yeah, I'm bangin' slingin' napalm
So nobody move
'Cause I was sent to warn you
The devil's in the next room
~ Shinedown

-----------------------
14 February 2018
-----------------------


He’d said durable, even used the ‘s’ word, which still made her laugh as the clock ticked toward eight, and she stepped out of the penthouse, and into the private elevator which would take her downstairs.  One could argue that black leather was always sensible, even if it was Polo Ralph Lauren pants, and boots with a three-inch heel.  They had lug soles, that had to count for something.  She’d even left her jewelry home, except for the seal that alway dangled against her navel, and, of course, the black and silver collar at her throat.  One word.  Six letters. One more than his name but it meant the same thing.  Clutch in one hand, duffel in the other (he’d said to pack something slinky for later, after all), Tahlia leaned against the wall, and slid a hand behind her back to check the silver daggers strapped there.  Something about the message had hinted she’d better dress for trouble.

A subtle chime announced her arrival in the lobby, and she stepped out, giving Brett a wink, and the saucy smirk the concierge ought to know well by now.  The metal fittings on her leather jacket clinked against the duffel as she shifted it up on to a shoulder, shaking her head before the smoothly smiling man could move to help.  “I got it, thanks...have a good night, sugar.” Juggling for a moment, she slipped a cigarette between her lips, and stepped outside, jamming the pack into the back pocket that didn’t already hold her phone.  The flash of flame lit her face for an instant, and she let out a plume of smoke, dropping the larger bag at her feet to wait.  She didn’t expect it would be long.

That was perhaps an understatement, it was only a moment after her lighter flared that the delicate sound of thunder ignited. Man made thunder certainly, the kind at the control of Eddie’s right foot and it was going to get much louder before it quieted. If the sound of the engine was enough to have her looking his direction, the sudden illumination of the headlights would zero her in on exactly where he was. It wasn’t dark yet, the sun was still making its presence known in deep red and purple hues along the horizon. It was much harder to appreciate among the tall buildings of course than say at the top of it. Then again it didn’t have to look down jealously at the purple Roadrunner pulling out of that parking spot and circling into the front drive of the apartment building. Tinted windows remained up as he pulled beneath the covered entrance and rolled to a stop in front of the blonde girl. There was only one thing missing, the driving beat of heavy bass through the speakers.

Eddie didn’t get out, he might be in a mood tonight, besides there was a perfectly good doorman standing right there. He looked like he needed something to do. When Tahlia appeared with the duffle, he put his hand out to take it, then dropped it into the back seat. It had been awhile since he’d put anything or anyone back there. Didn’t really have the need to lately, considering where he’d been. “There’s a bottle under the seat.” He said it like she should get it out, and make use of it. A cursory inspection of her brought an approving nod from him and the flash of a smile that belonged on a misbehaving boy. He barely waited for the door to fully close before starting forward again and making a turn onto the street.

One brow quirked up, and she leaned forward without a word to secure the bottle, twisting in the seat to press a kiss to his cheek before dropping back against the leather.  Twisting the cap off, she took a swig, and purred, holding the bottle out to him as she unzipped her jacket.  “So do I get to know where we’re going, or are you surprising me with a romantic getaway?”  Dressed as they were, she somehow doubted it, but she wouldn’t be her if she didn’t tease him a little.  Especially not with that bad-boy smile on his lips.  She could guess what he was thinking, and the black tank top under her jacket wasn’t designed to let him think straight.  Not yet, anyway.

Finally taking a second drag from her cigarette, the blonde shifted to avoid poking herself on her own daggers, and subtly glanced around the cars interior.  It was clean...she might have had it detailed at a very trustworthy place she knew of before handing him back the keys, and Eddie hadn’t been back long enough to change that.  Not that he would.  She was nearly certain the car meant more to him than anything, herself included.  

“Eventually, first I think we need to go to church.” It was one of those Saint’s days after all, right? He still hadn’t put on any music, but he was feeling indecisive at the moment on what he wanted to hear. It likely was the last thing that Tahlia had expected to hear out of him, but she knew him pretty well by now and a trip to church could simply be a euphemism for something else. The car rolled on, out of Seaside and across the Marketplace. There was a fantastic view of the harbor as the crossed the bridge into Old Temple district. Maybe he really did mean they were going to church? They were present at practically every corner, displayed in all their radiance. The car just passed them all by as it traveled eastwards along the coast and passed beyond the city wall. It always surprised him how quickly the concentration of buildings turned into forest when he drove outside past the city limits.

There was still the occasional building here and there, still temples to one deity or another though they looked less like places of worship and more like compounds. It took another twenty minutes before he started to slow, and Eddie didn’t have a light foot when it came to abandoned roads. The building was surrounded by walls on three sides, the fourth bordered the water. It did have a large parking lot, which he turned the car into and coasted slowly into a spot. Above the wall the building rose, tall and a lot like the places they’d seen when they’d gone to Yasou. There was even a massive stone dragon fountain jutting out into the parking lot, the pool into which it belched a stream of water nearly cutting the lot in half. There was something familiar about the figure. It was like many others that weren’t nearly so large, but that wasn’t what gave it the feel. The thing almost could have been alive.

“Church?” It never occurred to her that he might not be kidding.  But as the car rolled through the evening air, she realized that they seemed to be surrounded by religious buildings, half of them to gods she’d never heard of.  Idly, she wondered if this was where dead gods went, if they wandered this planet like everyone else.  It had to be the odd shadows, the vague sense of being watched from shadowed enclaves as they passed building after building, with breaks of trees, and the occasional compound.  More gods, although these seemed gods of commerce.  Smoke wafted from between her lips, her eyes flitting from the scenery to the man beside her.   At least until the car turned, and the dragon came into view.

Her hands tensed against the seat, and she tossed the butt of her cigarette out the window.  She recognized the statue, and watched it like she expected it to fly at them, and start the whole process over again.  This place had haunted her dreams, and she lifted the bottle to her lips, swallowing a few good chugs before licking her lips and flicking her gaze to him.  “Eddie...why are we here?” It was imposing enough, perhaps he would just attribute her response to that, and confusion.

It wasn’t a look he’d favored her with very often. At best it would be called stony, if it weren’t for the blaze in his eyes that said he was barely holding the facade of control. “I’ve been thinking a little…” The man was still a fabulous liar, but there was no mistaking that he really meant a lot. “...about your nightmares.” She’d said things that perhaps she didn’t think he’d heard or understood when he’d returned. The worst one...they had you...and I couldn’t save you.  All I could do was watch. He wasn’t a genius, but it hardly took one to understand that. It had taken a while to actually find this place, even if Reggie had done most of the work. The illusion had to come from somewhere, and it was always easier to show a place that was known. “I think this will help us both. Confronting the darkness.” Eddie still hadn’t taken a single drink, it was unusual almost like he’d left it there solely for Tahlia knowing that she’d react as she had.

Eddie opened his door moving to step out of the car. “Come on, I got you a present for Valentine’s Day.” He stood up and closed the door behind him, making his way to the rear of the car and popping the trunk while he watched Tahlia and her internal struggle. “I was a bit surprised when I did find this place, it almost seems abandoned, doesn’t it?” The place was dark, though as the night took stronger hold lights did appear here and there. It didn’t break the eerie silence, the place could tomb what with the lack of ambient sound even among the trees. There were no animals, though it was still the middle of winter. Maybe there was going to be a cold snap coming?

“It...yeah.”  First things first.  She was surprised the place actually existed, let alone that it was here and he’d found it.  Stepping out into the eerie quiet, she shifted phone and cigarettes to interior pockets, her fingers dipping into the front pocket of her pants for a moment, skimming over a silver disk maybe the size of a quarter.  Something had told her to bring it tonight, and now she understood why.  She left the bottle behind, not that it mattered much.  She looked back and forth between Eddie and the seemingly abandoned temple compound, her bottom lip caught between her teeth. Closing her door with exaggerated care,she stalked back toward the trunk, still glancing back over her shoulder at the dragon statue.  She couldn’t help feeling like it was watching her.  Waiting for her guard to drop. One hand twisted behind her back to recheck her daggers, the other digging into her pocket, wrapping the leather cord she kept the pendant on around her fingers.

“Confronting the darkness...most guys go with flowers, Eddie...chocolates.  Jewelry. Not facing down nightmares.”  But he’d given her jewelry, hadn’t he - the black pearl currently being set for her into a navel stud at one of Rhydin’s premier jewelers.  This was by far the strangest Valentine’s Day she’d ever had.  But then...when had they ever done anything normal?  “All this and a present too?  You shouldn’t have.”  She didn’t glance into the trunk, not yet.  “But it just so happens I got something for you too…”  She pulled out the silver charm, keeping it held tightly in her fist.  “I’ll let you go first…”

Eddie looked at Tahlia, she didn’t seem to have anything on her that stood out as a gift. That just meant it was small enough to fit in a pocket. If that’s what she was hoping for, she was going to be pretty disappointed when he opened the trunk all the way and pulled out the drum fed tactical shotgun and handed it to her. “It’s not exactly a dozen roses, but it is a twelve gauge.” He might not have understood the entire point of Valentine’s Day, surely the important part was the twelve, right? “It’s semiauto, so you won’t have to pump after each round… just pull back here.” He took hold of the lever and yanked it smoothly back until the first round was seated and let it spring forward. “Safety’s right by your trigger finger, pistol grips for speed in aiming.”

He reached in and took out a second one that was identical to the one he’d just given Tahlia. “I got us a matched set.” That I’m trouble smile was on his lips again as he set the weapon down and took out a couple bandoliers that had smaller magazines on them, and their usual 9 millimeter pistols. “Happy Valentine’s day Pumpkin.”

It said something about her state of mind that she took it with a slow smile, “You thought of everything.”  She wasn’t disappointed, focusing more keeping the tremble from her limbs, or any sign of how her pulse was racing. Her hand smoothed along the barrel, and she set the gun against her hip, aiming toward the ground.  She may be more comfortable with weaponry than she let be known, but not enough to dismiss the directions he gave her.  Grinning up at him, she blew a saucy kiss in his direction.  “Happy Valentine’s Day, Puddin.”  

Matched weapons were certainly bigger than her gift for him, but the use for them carried as much weight.  Her hand pulled from her pocket, wrapped tight around the pendant, and she looked at it for a moment before tipping her face up to his.  “My gift isn’t as big...but it’s...well, it’s one of the few things that’s really mine.”  Her fingers uncurled, and she held her hand out, the moonlight skimming over embossed silver, hung from a simple cord.  “My mother always said if anything happened to her, this would keep us safe.  The night of the fire, I grabbed it...had it ever since.  I don’t know how you could wear it, when you change...but it would - something just told me I should give it to you tonight.”  She shrugged, suddenly feeling exposed.  

“It’s...perfect. Put it on me?” There were a lot of things that he knew it was, and just couldn’t say out loud. He leaned over, pulling his jacket down so that Tahlia could reach his neck. She wasn’t wrong about the changing, there were special considerations that would need to be taken in order to wear it always. Not difficult ones, just highly specific materials that would be required. “Thank you. I can see that it means a lot to you… and that you’re obviously worried about me.” Eddie didn’t have a lot of that from people, most would be happier if something did happen to him. Maybe that was why he took great pleasure in coming through things as unscathed as possible.

One finger held the metal disk to the hollow in his neck until Tahlia managed to put a knot in the cord and he could let it dangle. It slid beneath his shirt, maybe that was more appropriate than having it out and visible, if only because he was pretty sure that was where she’d rather be too. Eddie talked while she worked. “There’s several decent tactical entrances to this place, assuming you can get over the wall. There’s a way into the upper floors, and coming from that direction would give us an element of surprise. It’s probably the smartest way to go in.” He pointed to the roof of a balcony that could be scaled pretty easily. “Normally I’d make you wear a hooded mask… but it’s not going to be necessary for two reasons.”

“Of course I worry about you...you have a positive thing for putting yourself in danger.”  Nimble fingers tied the disk in place, taking the opportunity to skim her fingers along his jaw as she let go.  He wasn’t wrong that she would rather be under his shirt, or rather, she would very much rather them both be shirtless, naked would be even better.  Certainly better than mounting a tactical assault on an unknown foe.  Picking up the shotgun, she hefted it, half-turned to look over the facade.  It was entirely possible that she might waste her first shot taking out the stone dragon, just to make herself feel better.  To make sure the wretched thing would never hurt anyone else.  

“Hooded mask?  You...oh.”  It took her a second to catch up, realizing this likely went along with his not requiring them to wear gloves, or for that matter, the fact that they’d driven his very noticeable car there, and would be leaving the same way.  “Why is that?”  A moment later, she suspected she had figured out the answer, or at least one of them.  “We’re the only ones leaving here breathing, aren’t we, puddin…”

“I never put myself into danger.” He was all wide eyed innocence now. Completely earnest in his insistence that such things just never occurred even as he reached for the shotgun and closed the trunk. “I honestly have no idea what you mean.” He looked from her to the temple and back. “If you’re wondering, there’s about two dozen Mer inside. I may not know why they’re here, but I do know that they don’t belong, and I’m happy to help them remember it.” He may have had a bit of a vendetta to settle as well. Eddie started his walk across the parking lot, oddly he was doing nothing to be stealthy. “And that’s right baby… we’re gonna kill em all.”

“Two..dozen…” No wonder he’d brought extra ammunition. Shotgun held ready, she tagged along behind, which meant, with any luck, that he would miss her squeak of surprise as the bass shook the air.  A warning would have been nice, but that was a conversation for a later time, perhaps.  There was no argument about killing them all.  She couldn’t think of a better fate, and while the one who’d tortured him was already beyond her reach, she was more than happy to make his brethren pay for his sins.

“I changed my mind.” He’d been heading for the the spot on the wall he’d determined was going to be the easiest to get over. He altered his angle heading right towards that dragon fountain. Eddie walked along the side of it, running his hand along the side of the the snakelike body pausing halfway to reach to the bandolier he wore and pull something free from it. He pressed it hard against the thing and kept his walk going right towards the front doors. “Eddie Blake doesn’t hide in the shadows.” To prove it a low rumble broke its way across the air centered on the purple beast. Maybe he’d just been waiting for the right moment to unleash the superbass? His shoulder planted against the intricately carved wooden doors and he gave a mighty shove sending them inwards with a crash that was emphasized by the blast of an explosion that tore the dragon to pieces.

13
Just Desserts / Re: Texting Temptation
« on: April 12, 2018, 08:19:38 PM »
Text to Pumpkin Pie: Depends on what you're wearing when I get there... and

Text to Pumpkin Pie: Depends on what you're wearing when I get there.  ;-)

14
Just Desserts / Re: Texting Temptation
« on: April 12, 2018, 08:10:05 PM »
Text to Pumpkin Pie: Nah, I didn't... he was of the opinion that American Muscle is only driven by men who like to impress strippers and sluts.

Text to Pumpkin Pie: I said that wasn't a bad thing... and it isn't!

Text to Pumpkin Pie: Then he said that only boorish Neanderthals drive Plymouth. So I educated him.

Text to Pumpkin Pie: Now he knows that it's boorish Neanderthals and slutty stripper impressing, violent Selkies.

15
Just Desserts / Re: Texting Temptation
« on: April 12, 2018, 08:00:26 PM »
Text to Pumpkin Pie: I made a sacrifice for education?

Text to Pumpkin Pie: Bernie... sorry... Bernaaaaard and I were having a perfectly lovely conversation about fast cars. He's really into those little ones... like the ones you drive.

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