Author Topic: A Shadow Cast  (Read 1597 times)

Sira

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A Shadow Cast
« on: January 30, 2016, 11:52:50 PM »
The shop had reeked of magic so strongly she swore she could still feel it on her clothes after she left. It had been the fourth one she had visited, but the first where Sira had been confident that she could find answers. The others had been full of snake oils and charmers, no one who had the keen eye that Godfry'd had, none who seemed caught by the why more than the what as he. She could respect someone who acted out of intrigue for a puzzle, who yearned to know more.

But f#@% if the... things in his shop didn't creep her the hell out. The talking heads, the brain in the jar that followed her every move... the teapot with spider legs! Not that she's afraid of spiders or anything, but when he asked her if she wanted tea out of the thing...!? She'd already been at the point where she wanted to run away. She was glad she had remained.

She stepped away from the shop keeping a wary eye on the shadows. She had said once that she swore she could see faces staring back out at her, and that she thought she had been going crazy. Ever since her extended time in the Dream she thought they must be the same watchers she sometimes felt there. Just like when they watched her flounder in the dark place, she both felt insecure with the observation and certain they were merely... curious.

Still, she hated to be watched.

Sira was reflecting on the conversation with the... She wasn't entirely sure what Godfry was. Outwardly human, but that meant little in this city. Some kind of magic user, though his shop implied alchemist. She wasn't sure if one could be both of those things. There was a period of time when she was new to Rhydin and she had dabbled with a little alchemy, but that is a story for another time. It was another thing she could respect. These thoughts bounced around in her mind as she headed north towards the city walls and home.

Godfry had suggested looking for more spikes, Sira had insisted on waiting until the next day. She'd hit her threshold of magic and weird, and there was something about him that she just didn't like. She couldn't put her finger on it.

She almost didn't hear the soft footsteps behind her.

At first she did nothing but keep walking. They didn't sound human, but rather like a dog. In this town that didn't necessarily mean a friendly pup. It could easily be a wolf or worse. She darted down a familiar alley and was off running by the second step in. When in doubt look for high ground. By the time she got to the--thankfully closed--dumpster she had angled her messenger bag so it wouldn't unbalance her too much when she vaulted herself up. Next step would have been to catch the ladder to the fire escape, but she caught sight of her stalker.

A white fox sitting at the mouth of the alley.

Sira let out a huff of air that she'd drawn in for the jump she would have needed to make, which now felt unnecessary. She was certain it was the same fox who had been following her. The same fox who had found her in a very different alley where she could have died. She still wasn't sure how she had ended up inside her apartment, unless the fox was some sort of shifter?

It had always been hard for her to feel farther than a few arm lengths away from herself with her threads of thought, even harder since her mind was a mess. The thread she stretched out was as delicate as a dusty old cob web, so fragile she was sure it would snap before reaching the fox, but somehow it did. She'd yet to be able to do more than sense the presence of thought at this distance, and one swipe was all it took for her to be sure the fox was in fact, just a fox.

"But you're not, are you?" She asked the fox from her perch. She was loathe to give up her lofty escape just yet. "I would really like you to stop following me around."

The fox only stared at her. One if his ears twitched and he lolled his tongue out. He looked friendly.

Sira frowned. After a minute passed and the fox seemed content to just watch, she turned back to the fire escape. A quick leap and she had caught the bottom rung of the ladder. She climbed the ladder spryly, then after one quick glance to make sure the fox hadn't moved, she was up the fire escape just as quick. From that rooftop she could access the next building, and then another... She could make it almost to the city wall before she'd need to descend.

----------

The fox watched Sira's climb without moving more than his head. He could have followed easily if he needed to, however this time he merely let her go.

After all, the command he was obeying wasn't to follow her. It was to keep him away.

Speaking of the man, he waited for the nimble woman to disappear from sight over the top of the fire escape before he stepped from the shadows.

The fox's ear flicked again and he looked at the man. He looked like he was laughing.

"You can't keep this up forever," the man told the fox. "Your master cannot keep her from me forever. Sooner or later she's going to discover the truth, and there will nothing left to protect."

When the fox didn't react he turned to walk away. He looked back over his shoulder.

"That is if the boy doesn't succeed this time. He has something planned, and I won't complain if he kills her after all."

The shadows reclaimed him.

The fox stood guard.

Sira

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Re: A Shadow Cast
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2016, 02:12:27 AM »
The sound of shattering glass reverberated in Sira's head. She'd managed to keep a death grip on it just until she'd gotten out the alley door. It had slipped from numb fingers and she caught herself mid-stumble with a hand against the wall.

Perhaps she should have said something to the damn Elf before running out like that, but the pain that had blossomed in her head threatened to make her lose her scotch. Even more than had splashed across her boots when she dropped the glass. She drew in a few shaky breaths trying to calm her racing heart, but ah, no. Someone was coming out the alley door.

She hurried away from the inn, using the wall as a support until she had left the alley behind and found refuge in another where she crouched down next to some empty crates that block her from view. Enough that maybe the casual passerby wouldn't see her as she rocked and clutched at her head.

It paled in comparison to the pain of Lexius pulling at her mind, but it was no walk in the park. It was like someone had driven a spike into her eye and was twisting it around.

The spike wasn't in her eye, though it existed. She hadn't felt this level of pain since Val had taken the last spike. When his metal Constructs had attacked her and Godfry and prevented them from doing the same. She was glad that Godfry had thought to keep his armored Titan with them for protection--as much as that rankled her that he insisted he was there to protect her--because otherwise their escape would have been much more painful. She would have been all but useless against mindless, magical automatons.

Slowly the pain eased. She blinked back the moisture in her eyes, refusing to let even tears of pain fall. Not even with no one there to see.

It was a tease. She knew it meant that Val had been touching the spike. She knew it meant he was moving it somewhere. The pain was usually a dull throb, though, not the intense pressure. She suspected that he normally handled it with some sort of buffer. This must have been deliberate.

Her eyes tracked the movement. He was still north of the city, to the west. Near the coast, she thought, not near the mountains. Not near her home. That was good.

The pain ebbed away, leaving her with a hollow feeling in its wake. An odd sort of inversion where her mind almost felt wrong without it. She stood slowly, her legs shaking and almost refusing to hold her weight.

Despite the weakness she managed to get moving. Managed to leave her hiding spot and head towards the market.

This had to stop.

She was tired of being a rabbit.

Sira

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Re: A Shadow Cast
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2016, 07:43:49 PM »
(edited and posted with permission from all players involved)


It was odd to see the inn's porch so busy, the day chilly and overcast with a biting gust of wind. Still, it was a dozen degrees above freezing and a welcome respite from the bone cracking cold the tail end of winter had brought. Sira had been heading for the inn to waste a little time before she returned to the little hidey hole she used as a clinic. All had been quiet on that front. She almost wished for some trouble break out in the city so she'd have a little more business.

She almost walked away again to avoid the crowd, but there was a familiar figure up there on the swing. One whom she had been trying to hunt down for weeks. Still, she hadn't wanted to talk to Oriax with so many people around, so she loitered out on the lawn hoping the others would go about their business.

Instead the mortuum joined her on the lawn. She'd chided him for his little teleportation trick which he had dismissed. He had gathered about them protective shadows that would obscure their conversation when Sira had indicated her desire for a private conversation.

--

Sira glanced nervously towards the porch. "Tell me again what that book is," she said in hushed tones. Shadows or no shadows, she did not trust that there could be no prying ears. It was bad enough there were eyes she didn't entirely trust and ones she didn't know. "I need to know, Oriax."

He watched her sedately with his usual blank expression. "You are ill at ease. You have not discovered it's meaning?" He tipped his head to the side. "I am surprised you still cannot read it. You should be able to."

"Oriax," she hissed his name and crossed her arms over her chest. "I am going to hit you if you keep with these non-answers." She meant it! Her fists were balled up, fingers digging into her sleeves. "What is that book?"

"There is only so much help I can give, Sira. I may have over stepped my bounds as it is." The shadows around them thickened protectively. "It is not what it seems. Do not focus on the words."

"You told me you can't see the pictures," she retorted, her eyes narrowing. That muscle in her cheek that had a habit of dancing when she was upset was jumping again. "What else *can* you tell me?"

"I cannot. I did not know there were pictures until you told me." He did not go on from there as he had nothing else he could tell her. He reached out suddenly to touch her cheek lightly. "You should not look for me, Sira. There are many places I go that are too dangerous for you."

She had been about to let out a sigh when Oriax touched her. Her breath caught in the back of her throat for the sudden intrusion on her personal space. Her frustration over the puzzle, the riddles, and the limited information boiled over into harsher words than she intended. "Don't try to help if you can't actually help at all," she spat as she pushed his hand away. In the same move she stepped away from him, calling sharply for her dog to follow.

Oriax had watched her go as blank and emotionless as ever. Perhaps more so than he had been with her. They were not alone. He left once she was out of sight inside.

--

It wasn't long after that when Sira left. A few moments to make sure the dead elf was gone, but not long enough to give the ever curious Mesteno a chance to ask. She had seen the look he'd given her, the slightest edge of a question in his eyes. She hadn't wanted to talk about it.

She hadn't returned to her office, instead she sought out someone else entirely, who was very surprised to see her.

"I spend almost two hours tryin' ta find ya an' you go givin' me the slip, now here you go showin' up on my step?" Garrett had been a little irritated just mostly happy to the doc wasn't avoiding him completely.

Sira had pushed her way past him, deliberately brushing her hand against his arm to establish a contact. The big man never seemed to notice when her tendrils of thought latched onto his. Or if he did he gave no indication outwardly or inwardly. "You told me once you'd teach me how to use one of those energy guns of yours," she reminded him. "I'm assuming that offer is still on the table."

He watched her through sleepy lids and rubbed at his jaw. He'd shaved recently but already had a decent amount of growth dusting his broad chin. "Yeah, I said that." He knew she was up to something and he wasn't gonna like it. Not that she'd tell him. "I'm guessin' ya expect ta borrow one, too."  

She fixed him with a hard look and smiled. "Absolutely."

Sira

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Re: A Shadow Cast
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2016, 11:52:15 AM »
Things had gotten bad.

Sira knew this. She had known before they had gotten to this point that there was a point that she had reached where turning back was no longer an option.

The tourniquet around her arm was too tight. Her veins had always been good, she probably didn't even need the thing, but she hadn't done this to herself since med school. It was a fairly necessary thing for the student doctors to learn just to get by. The stress of clinical rotations, the course load, the twenty four, forty eight hour shifts. It'd drive anyone to the brink. And these are the people who you put your faith into.

She rubbed at the inside of her elbow a couple of times, needlessly, then felt around until she found one that was nice and juicy. Plump and ready for the stick.

Just like riding a bicycle. She angled the needle just right, advanced until she saw the flash of blood, then advanced the cannula fully into her vein. It was a real feat doing this to one's self, but so necessary. So necessary.

She carefully withdrew the needle leaving the line in her arm.

From there everything was pretty simple. Loosen the tourniquet. Hook up the bag and hang it, set the flow open, and just sit back and relax. Let the fluids and vitamins work their magic to take away her hangover.

It was a quick fix for what wasn't even really the problem.

A couple of glasses of scotch in a seedy bar at the docks. A fair two glasses of wine at the inn. The bottle finished off before she had left the city. A night cap at home while she poured over the pile of books on a language that wasn't even a singular language had turned into yet another empty bottle of scotch. She wasn't even sure how much had been left in it, just that she also couldn't remember going to sleep on the couch. She sure knew she must have rolled off at one point, her side hurt enough to tell that story, and she'd managed to half drag the blanket along with her.

Bryn, her loyal protector had kept watch over her. He was waiting there with a wag of his tail and a lick to her face when she woke up with a pounding head and rotten stomach.

She didn't usually get drunk. Not anymore. Her first months in Rhydin had been rough. Hiding out, paranoid, overwhelmed by so many new things. It'd been very easy to just numb herself to get through. Eventually her medical background gave her the edge she needed to make a new start for herself, though she never would have guessed she'd be a back alley surgeon stitching wounds closed under the pressure of getting caught up in the middle of a fight that wasn't her own. In a weird way it had helped her a great deal to change from the person she had become.

Her thoughts trickled past like the drips from the bag. She hadn't had to do this since med school. They rarely had enough time for the typical college partying, but they made a fair go of it. Sira had stopped going out with the girls after Liam had witnessed the bunch of them hooking each other up just like this. He'd been furious. It was their first big fight as a married couple. She had far fewer friends after that.

Three days in a row she had gotten more and more intoxicated. She hadn't blacked out since those first few months. It just made the pain go away! Passing out meant no dreams. It wasn't restful sleep, but the nightmares she couldn't remember weren't any better. She was glad for the layers and long sleeves winter needed. The odd bruises she woke up with were easier to hide. She had no one she trusted enough to tell. And telling meant acknowledging it.

She must have drifted off to sleep. Her eyes had fluttered shut and when they reopened the bag was empty. It took just as careful a hand to remove the IV as it did to place, and she managed it much more easily now that her hands weren't trembling. Not really a magic fix, but the infusion helped a lot.

Hand clamped down on the gauze she had covering the IV site, she labored herself off the couch and headed for her bathroom. The bleeding had stopped before she got there, there was barely more than a spec on the gauze. She got her shower going to heat up while she got undressed. The mirrors Daniel had installed didn't fog up at all, and she cringed a little at the sight of that mark in the middle of her chest. The star's tendrils had grown even more, spreading out like silver blood tracing her capillaries and veins. They reached across her breasts, down across her ribs, and upwards towards her collarbones. She'd have to be careful what she wore. She prayed they'd stop advancing. She didn't want to be wearing turtlenecks in the summer or more unwanted attention.

She turned away to finish undressing, but whipped back around with a start.

No. No, that was her face, her eyes staring back at her, startled. Her mouth agape. Her hands reaching up to touch, to make sure.

For a moment there, just for a flash, it was another's face she'd seen there.

One with golden eyes.

Sira

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Re: A Shadow Cast
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2016, 09:23:05 PM »
The door opened so hard it slammed into the wall. Sira jumped at the sound, but didn't stir herself from the blanket cocoon she'd worked herself into on her bed. She was pretending that the world beyond didn't exist or had been until the world decided she couldn't hide away any longer.

"Sira Elizabeth Ardal," said a stern female voice. "You get your skinny ass out of that bed right now. We are going to the bar."

Sira grunted. "You can't make me."

"Carly!" Sira jumped again at the yelling. "She thinks we can't make her!" The other girl was clearly shouting to someone outside of the room. Sira picked out at least three distinct laughs, but she already knew how many of them had shown up. Her emotions were raw, and it took a great deal of effort to keep theirs from bleeding in. She hadn't yet learned how to create the wall and push them out.

"Sira," said a second voice. "You can't hide away forever! Do you even know how many classes you've missed?"

The lump that was Sira grumbled. Another set of footsteps indicated a third person had joined the first two inside the room.

"We're going to have to just pull her out," the third girl said. The other two agreed in a murmur. Sira strained to hear what they were saying, but it was all hushed whispers that didn't carry far. She didn't have long to fret about what they were up to, because suddenly three sets of hands had grabbed on to her blanket and hauled her straight out of the bed. There was a brief struggle where she tried to regain control of the covers that the girls pried from around her. Then there was a chorus of gasps.

"Why are you wearing that!?"

"Oh, my, god, you still have that thing?"

Only two of her friends vocalized their disappointment in her attire, the third just shook her head. The three of them were as varied as people could get, the first in the room had been Ashley, the tall blond whose pony tail was swaying with her disapproving gesture. Carly, the petite red head was also tapping her foot. And Michelle the mixed-race tom boy with short shorn, aqua blue hair.

Sira looked down at herself, then wrapped her arms protectively around the red flannel shirt. "It smells like him," she said in a wavering voice. Her eyes were red and puffy from crying, and more tears threatened to break. Before the first drop could roll down her blotchy cheek the three girls were on the floor with her and had piled into a big group hug. All the while she cried they consoled and urged her to let it all out. She'd been all cried out long before they had shown up, so it wasn't long before she was just sniffling with her face buried into one of their shoulders. It was hard to tell which.

"We should burn it." That was Michelle in a matter-of-fact voice. The other girls added their chorus of approval, but Sira was shaking her head adamantly.

"I can't do that!" She said on the edge of panic.

"Sure you can," Carly had told her. "If he can just dump you like that, you can burn his shirt." The other girls agreed. Girl power, and all that.

"He didn't dump me, we broke up with each other," Sira tried to reason with them. They'd had this conversation before, it was no use. It was a lie and they all knew it. "He'll always be my first love..." She burst into tears again and the girls tried to lure her out of her sadness.


-----

It had just been a memory, not one of her vivid dreams. It didn't matter to Sira as it felt no different. Those dreams were like she was back in the past. In the present silent tears made wet trails down her cheeks to drip off her chin and onto the shirt in her lap.

That had been years ago, back in the beginning of her second year of undergrad. She and Liam had been dating since almost the first day of high school and she always thought they'd be together forever. He had spent the summer before the semester started off with his friends doing charity work in South America. He admitted that while he was there he had 'hooked up' with a girl in the group, but that they hadn't had sex. Sira forgave the indiscretion, then a few weeks later he wanted to take a break.

Over the next year Liam had gone off and dated more girls that she cared to keep track of. Though she relented to being dragged out to parties and bars (with fake IDs) by her friends, she never dated anyone else. Liam was the only boy she had ever kissed. They promised their junior year to save themselves for marriage, and Sira kept to that.

Winter break the next year he had come crawling back, begging for Sira to forgive him. And she had. He was her first and only love and she was blind to her senses. She always was when it had come to Liam.

He had proposed their senior year, and they got married before she started med school. Originally she had been planning on going to Harvard as her first choice, but Liam hadn't wanted to leave NYC, so she went to Columbia instead. Still, the strain on their relationship during that time was real. Between her course work, the long hours spent at clinicals, then internships, and him working at his father's company as well, they barely saw each other. They barely had time to be intimate after their honeymoon. She knew it'd get better once she was done with her last residency and had transitioned into a real staff position.  

That chance never came along, that life was not hers to claim. She doubted it was ever more than an illusion.

She frowned down at the shirt, rubbed the well-worn fabric between her fingers. It was one of very few items she had from her old life. Back when she was a very different person. She had been open, warm, well-liked. Trusting. That shirt had reminded her of the person she had been and it had brought her peace.

"How long did you know?" She asked the shirt, like it knew the answers only its original owner could tell. "You seemed so surprised when I told you."

The shirt couldn't talk back. It couldn't tell her what she wanted to know, and it couldn't protest when she tossed it into the flames crackling merrily away in her fireplace. It may have been years, but she was finally taking Michelle's suggestion.

He'd still always be her first and maybe only love.  

She wouldn't hesitate to kill him if she got the chance.

Sira

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Re: A Shadow Cast
« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2016, 04:44:13 PM »
It wasn't a place that Sira had ever been to before. She knew that right away, and she was confused. How the hell had she gotten here?

A dream. It had to be a dream. It was an odd sensation to know she was dreaming and to know it wasn't her own dream. She couldn't remember the sea of stars, so how did she get here?

She was in a cold and dreary holding cell. When she was a kid she had toured the local police house with her school, so she knew it had to be in a precinct. She was seated on one of the cold, uncomfortable metal benches? And she wasn't alone.

She almost gave a start when she noticed the teen sitting diagonal from her. The girl looked like she couldn't be more than thirteen. She had long, pitch black hair, pale skin and heavy black makeup smeared around green eyes. Her clothes screamed 90s goth, all black with random bits of lace and metal. Her leg was bouncing a mile a minute and part of her face was hidden behind a hand as she was biting at a nail. The girl wasn't paying any attention to her, Sira wasn't sure she was even visible.

There was a sound of footfalls and the girl's hand dropped. Sira let out a gasp.

?Hunter!?? She exclaimed without meaning to.

The girl looked her way with an expression of surprise. ?How the hell did you get in here? And how the **** do you know that name??

Sira didn?t have time to react. A door opened and a police officer strode in, speaking words that she couldn?t understand. The dream was breaking up, blurring on the edges before it shattered completely.


-----

She woke with a start. A full body jerk, that had her arm flying out and coming into contact with another body in the bed with her.

?Ow,? complained a female voice. A thankfully familiar one, though Sira wasn?t any happier to be waking up to having company that wasn?t there when she?d gone to bed. Company that was?

?Hunter! Why are you naked!?? Sira squirmed away from the dreadlocked woman and threw the blankets at her. ?And why the hell are you in bed with me!?? Sira. Asking all the important questions.

Hunter grinned at her. ?This is my room, stupid. Imagine my surprise when I come back from a long trip to help out an old friend and said friend is drooling all over my pillow.? She stretched out, mindless of the blankets falling away. Her grin only expanded when Sira covered her eyes with her hands. ?I?m naked, because that?s how I sleep. I?m surprised you didn?t wake up when I came in.?

Sira grumbled. ?Your last message said you weren?t getting in for another few days.?

Hunter shrugged a little and rolled out of the bed. Sira peaked between her fingers to make sure the other woman was pulling on some clothes. ?I keep forgetting time works differently up there. It was a few days for me.? She?d put on a tee and jeans then flopped back into the bed with Sira.

?How the hell did you get into my dream?? Hunter asked while encroaching on Sira?s personal space. Sira was making herself small. A glance to the window said that it was still night.

?I don?t know. That hasn?t happened before, like that.? Sira squinted a little at her friend. ?Do you dream about your jail time often?? Hunter laughed.

?I?ve never been to jail, that was just county lock up,? she replied, clearly amused. ?That was my first arrest. I hadn?t even changed my name yet. Ahhh? good times.? She stretched out lazily, an arm flung across Sira?s face.

Sira pushed the arm away, wincing at the crackle of energy that Hunter always put off. It was different from most people, less of a psychic burn and more of an electrical zap. The other woman had little to no restraint with her emotions and thoughts. A complete open book, not that Sira could make sense of it half the time. It was familiar, definable, though sometimes it made her feel wild.

When Sira didn?t speak up again, Hunter filled in the silence. ?So now that I?m here I can help you with that file. You have the drive??

?Yeah, it?s in my bag,? Sira replied. She wasn?t moving from the bed, though she wasn?t all too happy to be sharing it. Since it really was the room Hunter kept at the inn she wasn?t going to complain. Too loudly.

Hunter rolled out of the bed and helped herself to rummaging through her friend?s bag. Sira made a noise of protest. ?The side pocket, no, the other one.? The hacker came up with the drive and she turned it over in her hand a couple of times.

?I?ll go see if I can get it to open on one of my remote systems.? Hunter started to pull on her boots.

?Now?? Sira was surprised the woman was going to head out in the middle of the night. Hunter grinned her way.

?If you want to snuggle, just say so. I have way saucier dreams I can pull you into.? Sira groaned and buried her head under the blankets, Hunter winked at her. ?That?s what I thought.?

The door opened and closed and Sira was alone again in the room. She inched her way to the edge of the bed to grab the bottle of Jack that was still where she?d left it before she?d passed out. One, two gulps and she fell back into the pillows.

Sira

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Re: A Shadow Cast
« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2016, 06:11:22 PM »
"What else did you see?"

Sira had been preoccupied with wrapping her hands. She noticed Garrett's eyes on her, but she had been ignoring the question she knew he was going to ask. Answering him straight away took a back seat to her making sure the gauze and athletic tape was sitting correctly. Last thing she wanted was split knuckles.

Garrett grunted at her non-responsiveness. He expected it from her. It felt like he'd known her for years and not just barely one. It took a lot for him not to push her. That would just make her flee. "I know you saw something else."

She glanced up once she was satisfied with her work, though she held them out for the brawler's inspection. Unfortunately for him, she still held her tongue.

He let out a vexed noise. But he consented to examine the wraps. "They'll do. Next time go a little tighter around the wrists." He touched her as he spoke to indicate just where he meant. "You think too much like a doc, doc." He grabbed her wrist tight suddenly. In just as quick a movement he was trying to twist her about into a wristlock. It'd feel like he was trying to wrench her shoulder out of the socket.

Sira would have responded, maybe she would have answered the question she was avoiding, but the grappling move was understandably distracting. She only had a split second to remember how to counter the hold, and she almost made the mistake of letting him pull her in close to lock it in. Instead, she twisted her wrist to weaken his grip before dropping her weight and hammering down on his forearm with her free arm. There was no pulling punches here, no playful wrestling. She wasn't afraid to hurt him!

"Good!" He praised at her attempt. Had he used a double hand lock that move wouldn't have worked. He also wasn't expecting the force she put behind the hammering. Not that it didn't also open her up to his next move where he went for another lock, this time on her elbow. He tried to use it to get her to bend at the waist.

It was Sira's turn to grunt when she was suddenly free, and hiss like a wet cat when he went for the second hold. This time she was ready for it and she wouldn't give him the chance to get a good grip on her. She twisted the arm out of his reach and at the same time aimed a kick at his knee. If she was lucky he'd go down.

The kick he wasn't ready for. It didn't have the effect she wanted and he kept his feet but he did stumble back a step. He threw a hand out trying to catch her by the ankle before she could withdraw her foot.

Oh no, she was too fast for that, Garrett. You should know better by now! One attack followed the first, the foot dropping fast so that she could plant and pivot for the swing she took at his jaw. Time to test out how good those wraps were.

He managed not to take that hit full on even if he couldn't avoid it completely. A shift of his head changed it from jaw cracking to just creaking. It also got him off balance enough that he fell like a great oak in the forest.

Sira crowed triumphantly when he went down, but she wasn't satisfied yet. She dove for one of his ankles to try to twist that sumbitch around. One had to wonder if Sira hadn't watched a little too much WWE at some point in her life...

She went for the wrong lock. That wasn't even really a proper lock at all. It left her right open for him to actually just tangle her legs with his and basically squeezer her like a human pair of scissors while trying to wrench her around at the knee.

"...!" She let out a note of painful surprise, prefacing her own fall to the ground. It was all over now, she was just going to flail and kick to try to get free, even though it was futile. She knew her ground game was piss poor at best.

Just like her before he wasn't going to take it easy on her. The moment he had the chance to get the leg lock in he was putting enough strength into it to really twist at her joints.

That was it, she gave up. The moment he started to wrench on her leg, she started tapping at his arm to let her go.

He let her go and untangled his legs immediately so they weren't touching. He hadn't even broken a sweat in their scuffle nor was he breathing hard. He got as far as a kneel to grin at her. "You got cocky."

She wasn't breathing hard either, but her heart was pounding in her chest. Before she moved to get up, she tested her knee to make sure the cap was in place. She had been certain he'd dislocated it. "I know who you're working for now," she said as she slowly rose to her feet. "That's what I saw."

He rose to match her. His jaw was aching now that he had a moment to think about it. "Yeah?" He rubbed at his face. "That why you been ditching on our practices?"

Sira nodded slowly. "Yes," she admitted quietly. "You're in for a world of hurt if you stay for him," she went on in a warning tone. "I saw a lot of death in that man's head, and not just the murders at the docks."

He let out a slow and quiet breath. "I know what I'm getting into, Sira." He crossed his arms over his chest.

"I'm not going to get involved," she asserted in the firmest tone she could manage. "I can't, Garrett. I won't. You call on me again for that and I won't answer." There was an edge of finality in her tone.

He nodded again. "I know." He glanced down a moment then back up at her. "We gonna keep sparring? You're weak as a kitten. I don't even get why you want to know how to fight, anyway, with your mindgames."

Sira was working on fixing her wraps. They'd gotten a little messed up during their brief scuffle. "It doesn't work on everyone," she replied. "Some people I can't read at all. Some it's all... off. I don't want to rely on an ability that so many people here are immune to."

He offered out a hand to help her with the wraps. "Those are the ones your fists probably can't do nothin' about anyway."

It was her turn to nod again, agreeing quietly. She didn't agree to his help, though. "It will still give me more of an edge than I have now."

"Maybe." He doubted. "Let's get started, I need to go over counters with you again."

----------

A couple of hours later a very sore Sira was limping from Garrett's studio. It had taken her a few weeks to even convince him to start training her, and then she ended up flaking on half their sessions. He seemed to think she was going to miss more and was intent to drill every last escape into her. He refused to teach her more offensive moves until she could break every last hold.

She hadn't been entirely truthful with him. She suspected that he knew that.

A few weeks earlier he'd asked her to interrogate a man that had killed some of his crew. At the time, she didn't know who Garrett was working for, not that she ever asked. Not that she ever would. They had their own niches in the dark underbelly of the city, his being far further into the shadows than hers. She clung to a place where she could still see the sun shine through.

That man had put up no resistance to her mind probing. "I know who you are," he'd whispered to her before she began.

It'd been a mistake. There had been few minds that had affected her much beyond a general feeling of disgust. His mind felt like it'd left an oil slick across hers and she was still struggling to scrub it clean. She swore that people looking at her would see the filth coating her like a second skin.

She wasn't sure the dark images he showed her would ever leave her.

Worse. They knew her face. They knew her name. Worse still...  They knew what she was and who wanted to find her.

She was tired of these days of looking over her shoulder, fearful of black vans and dark rooms.

Rabbit she is not.

Sira

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Re: A Shadow Cast
« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2016, 04:08:46 PM »
The rock was only a pebble no larger than a marble. A standard marble, too, not one of those big ?shooters? you?d use when playing an actual game. It was small, mostly round, and Sira had picked it out because it was mostly white with some wavy gray striations. A mild gust of wind could probably knock it off the ledge.

And yet it might have been a boulder.

Sira could feel a bead of sweat roll down the side of her cheek as she concentrated on that rock. She sat cross-legged on the edge of the pool just outside of her castle-like house. She?d joked with Daniel that it was her one-side moat and that she needed to stock it with alligators. Her kitchen was underneath the pond and had ?skylights? looking up through it, so she knew there was a layer of dirt or silt, which was more built up at the corners. It was fed by an underground spring and drained on the south end. There were small fish, snails, and definitely frogs in the the lily pads. It was beautiful despite its murkiness.

It was so easy to focus on anything but what she wanted to focus on. Her thoughts kept drifting to anything but the task at hand, which was moving that damn pebble.

Before coming to Rhydin she never considered that maybe she could do more with her mind than just read people. She thought of the way she manipulated minds, or actually brains, as just a form of telepathy. Growing up she?d loved X-men. Wasn?t she a bit like Jean Grey? With a little Rogue thrown in? Except she wasn?t absorbing energy or powers, she sometimes absorbed memory.

Meeting Lexius she had discovered that--sometimes--she could do more. She couldn?t always see or sense his delicate webs, but when she could it was like she almost knew how it was done. Actually trying it was a different story. There was one time she managed to flick a grain of sand.

The pebble was proving too big. Her thoughts were proving too tangled to work a single one into a usable thread. Maybe she needed to be angry. When she was distressed or scared or pissed, all of this seemed easier. Like a part of her.

?It?s not you.?

That voice was a memory. A couple days after Beltane she saw her father again. He?d been suspiciously absent for so long she had begun to wonder if he had decided to leave again. The thought was painful. She?d lost him once. This man who wore his face and used his voice might not have the same warmth in his eyes, but? He was her father.

?It?s not you,? he?d told her. She?d told him that since Valdemar was dead she had found a great deal of peace. The restless noise in her mind was a gentle whisper rather than a frantic buzz. Sometimes she could forget it was there. More than ever she had to actually focus on it to read someone. She realized that before all of this, that was how it worked. She could read a patient, a friend, a classmate, because she tried to. And more importantly, they often allowed it, wanted it, even if they didn?t realize her empathy went beyond normal human expectations.

That noise had been a part of her for so long it was weird for it to be gone. Different. She doesn?t do well with different. It felt like a loss.

?It?s not you,? he?d said. ?That is the darkness holding on and trying to drag you down.? His eyes had burned, gleamed in fading light of day. Sunset was when he?d found her in the marketplace. ?You need to purge it from your being else it will corrupt you.?

?Like it had you?? She?d asked. She hadn?t needed his answer, because she?d already discovered the truth.

?Yes.?

There by the pool, Sira was looking down at her hands. Knuckles scuffed, one hand and arm still marred by healing burns. They had faded from the ugly purple they?d been to a faint brown, but it was still pretty obvious what they were. Punching bonfires indeed? She might as well have.

She felt human. Or what she thought was human. There were times that she glimpsed something within herself that wasn?t.

Eventually she?d have to face the darkness within. He?d told her that. Oriax had told her that. Others had told her.

?I know,? she told the pebble, which still refused to move. ?What can I do??

The rock didn?t respond. Eventually she got up to start her day.