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Artificer last won the day on January 26

Artificer had the most liked content!

About Artificer

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    Some branch in time
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    Hey! I'm a Computer Science / Math Double Major @ UC Berkeley, and am interested in ML, algebra, music, and more. With regards to roleplay, I'm into anything as long as its a kick-ass adventure with lots of action and lots of story. I come with the seasons, but I think Valucre is a place where I'm going to settle and make a name for myself with regards to writing. Interweaving a net to trap your characters in some convoluted plot is just one of my specialties; however, I'm still trying to improve my narrative ability! Definitely interested in your feedback, and again, hope to see you on the threads ~!
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  1. Hey guys -- just an update. I may be a bit slower than usual for the next few months since I will be sorting out my post-education career and other things. Graduation -- and then that which comes after. Sorry for the overall lack of transparency! I'll definitely try to keep y'all updated on everything. Wish me luck job hunting!

    1. supernal


      Good luck bud

    2. Malintzin


      Best of luck Peter! Tossed math confetti

  2. THE ELDEST The emotions of their Raven was fickle at best. An ally or a traitor to her, The Eldest would never be able to tell. Were all empaths so mercurial in their nature — easily swung by the hearts of another? Were her emotions so easily swayed by them? Would those feelings of hers betray her for feelings of another? If so, then the brothers were dangerous to her. Monsters were notorious for their swings in mood; The Jagdhunde were no exception. Her sudden shift from joy to sadness was a clear sign of that. The grief which was theirs was now hers, and she wore it like a familiar jacket. His hand reached towards her face without thought, a single finger wiping at the tears which flowed, but instead of brushing the wetness of her cheeks, he froze the salted water into crystal droplets which dotted the pallor of her already-frostbitten skin. Sad diamonds upon sad skin. Beautiful, but also heartbreaking. She was a reflection of him and his brothers. A thin sheet of ice which could crack at any moment. She laid out her regrets for him to witness in full, and it wasn’t just the words she spoke about the beasts. In truth, their Raven was open in those moments, and he saw much of what she carried with her. Her ‘sorry’s were more than an apology to him, but rather an apology to everyone and everything she touched. To all that she loved. Raven spoke of him, but her heart spoke of many. She bore the grief of hurting others whom she cared about. Many griefs as opposed to the single one the beasts carried. One memory stood out in particular — a visceral image which gripped The Eldest and shook his form — threatening to tear him from reality. His eyes were still transfixed on hers — face frozen with that same look of care and worry —, but his mind was pulled elsewhere. Deep and deeper he dove. She pulled him in down further, her subconscious trusting him with truths untold. Truths which — if they ever surfaced — would threaten the very world she lived in. Truths which threatened to shatter her like he and his brothers. It was the acrid odor of sharp antiseptic which hit him first, alongside the unnatural scent of metallic vapors. He was strapped to a chair — or was she the one strapped to a chair? He couldn’t tell anymore. All he knew was that his wrists burned from the tightened bands of black, varnished leather. This was far more intimate than their usual empathetic link. Far more real. Things muddled in those moments. Was his mind was hazy from analyzing the creases of her memories, or was it hazy from the sheer sharpness of her recollection? The fogginess she experienced in that lurid room was now his. Drugged, restrained, and helpless. No use screaming when your throat, mouth, and voice were numbed with the anesthesia which flowed through the respirator. Those doctors were thorough in their measurements against her. — And yet they had failed to note that she was still conscious. He was not a woman, so he would have never been able to understand the desire to be a mother; however, in those moments when the knife sunk into her flesh, he could feel that desire being cut away, bit by bit. The pain of sterilization was far worse than every cruel incision from the blade. He screamed — she screamed — doctors deaf to their silent wails. In those moments, he felt worthless, and just wanted everything to end. They had stolen something precious from him. They had stolen his dreams of being a parent. The worst part of it was that he could do nothing. He — she was an experiment to these monsters. A puppet. It felt like an eternity in that hell. Only after living through that reel countless times was there finally an interruption. Something new to break the never-ending cycle. Voices came through murkily, overlaying the scene in its drowned out tones. They were sounds which did not belong to this memory, and soon, he was ripped from that chair — thrust back into the waking world. So naturally did he try to grab onto something did he do what he did best. He took a piece of her — the piece that was that place of terror. Even if that memory twisted him, he wasn’t going to leave her with the filth of that nightmare. No woman deserved to be treated like an animal. No woman deserved to be spayed like one. He took that part of her memories — cut it out quickly and carelessly like the surgeons who cut her up. If there were those who stole her dreams, The Eldest would steal her pain. Chartreuse eyes flickered open as his head was left spinning. The horrors of that memory were freshly implanted in him now, and The Beast was left shivering. When he finally came to, he saw that his Raven had moved to the other edge of the bed. Her hand reached out for the support of the bedside wall while three figures fought over her like pups for a tit. The trio were all bearing the same waft of freshly cut gardenias — a scent immediately recognizable. Those were Raven’s children, he instantly knew. They were petals from the sepal of a bloom which the beasts adored, freshly fallen and just as beautiful as the flower they came from. The one which clutched her tightly and looked to both he and his brothers with childlike curiosity was the one that he would never forget. Playful eyes met his regretful gaze. Tan skin with ruddy cheeks, a mess of dark hair, and emeralds much greener — much richer than his. Of course it was Lencio, the child they had stolen. Oh how he wished to spill his apologies to the boy if he wasn't petrified from those echoes of the lab. The Eldest looked back towards his brothers, a haunted look plastered on his face, and they all agreed silently. One by one, they quietly faded back to nothing as their songbird and her chicks left for the halls. She needed time with her children, and he needed time to process everything he saw. A flinch from the shadows — the steel of the scalpel sunk deeply into the flesh of his psyche. He needed time — time to find a way to hide that memory from his love. She would never be allowed to know. This was his secret now, and if there were more like it, he would steal them, hoard them, stash them away far from her reach. He would do this out of sheer and unrestrained love. — Even if it killed him. @Malintzin
  3. THE ELDEST She pulled away — blushing as he was left panting. Left wanting more. He thought he knew what a kiss was, but she shattered all expectations. The taste — the smells — they were the same as the two before, yes, but those were marks without passion. Without exchange. The first kiss was given, not shared, and the second was less than the shadow of a desire. This third — this third, though, was something completely different — something which filled in the gaps he was missing. Clearly, she had more practice than he did. Those lips and the way she moved. Her tongue tangling with his as both explored new grounds. Every time she tried to pull away only to be drawn back into that kiss. It made him bolder. It made his feelings stronger. He was rough, and definitely messy at first, but he learned from her as she responded to his sincerity. She was perfect in every way, shape, and form. He wanted her all for himself, and in those moments past, she belonged to him. It was truly a shame that she broke off so suddenly. So hurried in her movements did she hurt herself. Humans were indeed strange. He was certain she was enjoying it as well. Oh well. If she had something important to say, he could hold off for a few moments to listen. The two had all the time in the world anyways. Welfrick wasn’t going anywhere, and neither was she. No bars to hide behind. No escape this time. He wiped his lips with a cuff of fur, eyes never leaving Raven. When she spoke, he listened. Still, like a child, he was more enamored by the timbre of her voice than the questions she asked. The crisp, staccato of her native accent crept in now and again, accenting her already melodic sound. It was a song, really — to his ears at least. Different to his and his brother’s, and yet pairing so well. If played together, what music could they make? If he was a forest, then perhaps she was an ocean. The way her words flowed together seamlessly seemed to match the image in mind: Out of the woods, on a cliff by the sea, he sat their basking in her moonlight. Far more magnificent than the twin skies of Taen, she shone brightly in the crests of thousands of waves. He could stay there for hours, staring at her reflection in the water... — Ah, he had lost himself in her beauty, and she again was confused. She was lost in him, and he with her. “— Is that even your name. Do you even have names?” “My brothers and I have names, but nothing in your tongue,” he answered. His voice was smoother now, like finest satin really. The words he spoke were more airy — a devil’s sigh — as his body was one woven from shadows and mist. He wouldn't mind sharing it with her, but she probably wouldn't understand. Names were more than just sounds to Shadowbeasts. They were gesture, expression, timing, and more. Something complex that most humans would not understand, let alone express. Eyes drifted back to hers. While those green eyes were gold now, he couldn't care any less. He saw the woman beneath those layers, and knew her for all she was worth. Regardless of the shade, he would still love those gems. So beautiful as they were vast — precious in their own right. It was only when he took time to admire them once more did he notice the flakes of white dusting her eyelashes and cheeks. So lost he was in her that he had almost forgotten: A body spun from shadows is a body not his own. The warmth of his flesh to her was merely an illusion as he was truthfully cold like ice. His touch was winter unlike hers of summer. Again, he was a beast that took and did not give. Curious that the woman did not notice the warmth he stole nor the frost on her lips. She kissed a shadow, but perhaps she felt something else. A pang of guilt dried his throat. He should have known that she was drunk on his high, but the kiss had dulled all senses. The Eldest drew away, reluctantly letting her go from his embrace. The beast did not wish to chill her as she was a fragile thing still in the process of recuperating. Patience set in, and like that beast on a cliff, he went back to admiring from afar. He couldn’t set this kind of example for his siblings. They were watching him — watching him show her what they collectively had each tried to suppress. Instincts — raw emotion — impulse. Things for a beast — things too savage for a woman who belonged in another world. He couldn’t simply do things he wanted anymore, especially if he truly wanted her. Monsters acted like that — acted on emotion alone. He knew that better than anyone, having acted on his pain and anger prior. Simple, they were, but mild, they were not. As the Jagdhunde, they had shed blood, reveled in tormenting — all to enact their retribution against their long-dead tormentors. By definition, The Eldest and all of his siblings were monsters. They had no right to seek Raven’s hand. — And yet they wanted to grow into something that she would be able to truly cherish — to hold without fear. They wanted to change. This did not mean that they wanted to be human, no. If they wanted that, they would have used The Hunter as their marionette. No — they came to terms with their existence. Raven had made them realize that there was some inherent worth to them. His expression slowly shifted back towards a flavor of that distant fondness he wore earlier. While the shadowbeast regretted losing control, he did not regret the kiss. He was glad to finally get that out of the way. There was no real body to touch anyways. Just smoke congealed which magic revealed. If the corner of his lips drew into that of a frown, he couldn’t help it. He’d try his best to smile. The Eldest was genuinely happy. It didn’t make sense if he felt a lingering sadness, did it? It didn’t make sense to long for real hands to hold her — real fingers to caress her— real skin to warm her. She was there. Wasn't that all he needed? Thinking back, he realized he was mistaken: that third kiss, upon further inspection, was just like the rest. Deeply satisfactory, but imperfect. One was present while the other was not, and while she was there this time, he was missing. He was just an apparition. A gathering of smoke. A winter wind intruding her warm, coastal line. A shadow. Are you not cold? Do you not shiver? His hand rested on the sheets above her thigh. “Do you need anything of us, sweet Raven? What can my brothers and I do for you?” We’ll do anything if it’s for you. Anything to make you stay. @Malintzin
  4. *Dies*

    I finished it. I finally finished it. First draft of research paper submitted to the conference committee. Ready for them to tear it apart and have me rewrite portions.

    Now though -- now is the time to relax.

    *Confetti toss*

    I think I am going to do some more fun and creative writing now. My mind is sufficiently not working anymore, which is the perfect state of being for making posts. Hue. I need some juicy RP and stat.

    1. Show previous comments  3 more
    2. danzilla3
    3. Malintzin


      I'm still reading your paper! You'll do fine!

    4. Artificer


      *Realizes the diagrams have many, minor errors, leading to my big error. Just fixed them, but ahhhhhhhh*

  5. Her mouth hung ajar — quite expected, not surprising. When she drew back from his touch, he did not flinch nor get hurt. He understood that there was this part of Raven that was fundamentally and irrevocably human, and he was okay with that. Fear at the first touch. An uncertainty of being held, but again, that was okay. Her ties with him were stronger now, growing and growing in its potency. Empathy was a curious thing. It was both a door and a window. One such being a passage for an empath’s entrance while the other being an opening for those curious to witness her in her entirety. The Shadowbeast knew this wasn’t fear. He could see — no — feel what she felt. She was simply astounded. What she once thought was one was now two, and from two, now thirteen. The logistics and ramifications of the relationship she had chased and now entered were beginning to dawn on her. Twelve suitors for a single hand. Oh bother. So for a human, he would do as humans did for now. It would take time for both him and her to adjust to The Jagdhunde’s newfound independence. A modest transition from half-lies to half-truths would be best, especially since he himself truly wished for this strange relationship to continue. With open hand, he lifted her chin up, closing that shocked expression, both for him and for her. Best she looked not like prey to a pack of beasts. Such looks would bring temptations, and temptations would bring other things. Oh how his instincts begged him to commit such acts in those moments; however, he held himself back. Yes, he would tame his inner wild for now. No need to terrify the woman. If he had learned anything from The Hunter, it was patience. This hunt was not over yet. Slow... slow... and slower. He would get this right. His Raven looked like a fawn in a clearing — eyes wide like a doe. It was amusing. Silver fingers swept the strands of hair from her face. He was careful not to cut her with his claws; those hands of his were meant for cutting, not for holding. There, he thought, giving a satisfied smile. His songbird deserved to look composed and graceful — not disheveled and sniveling. Ah, the scent of her hair was maddening. He could feel his siblings eyes boring holes on his back. The beast felt sorry for them, knowing that the depth of their affections matched his own, but as the eldest, he cared not. It was his turn. Face dove in for her neck first, for he was a predator, not a man. His muzzle nestled in the trough between her collar and shoulder, savoring both her shock, smell, and soon, her taste. It started with a nibble at first, and then a small kiss. One became two, and two to thirteen. Dozens and dozens of kisses, rising up the trunk of which was her neck. He felt like a vine climbing up a trellis, or rather a beast devouring upwards with the occasional bite. Yes, he was playing — playing with his prey. A slow nibble on the ear before he finally drew back, satisfied with his work. Whether she shivered or relaxed did not matter to him. He was indulging those hopes he thought he would never get a chance at. His siblings were fuming, their aggravation mounting with every peck. They, though, had no say in this matter. Forget the morals of The Hunter. Forget everything said prior. He couldn’t help it — he wasn’t the patient type after all. The creature was not a man, and beasts will be beasts. He gave a smile towards the woman. Her reaction — he wouldn’t wait for. Two hands grasped her face — cradled her flawless visage. That desperate sense of longing had finally broken way. Caressing her cheeks, he dove, head tilted, eyes closed. — A kiss to the lips — stolen not once, not twice, but three times now. She was awake this time. Not asleep, not a dream. Her breath was warm and misty. Yes, he would devour those lips. He would savor their taste. @Malintzin
  6. MARCELLUS L.H. The wolf’s words resounded in his mind, over and over and over. Formless command, the Ebonvine had uttered — a beckoning towards a seed which dared break soil. Sweet, sweet temptations among the biting grit of his rebuke. Yes, the wolf was right — there was an evil planted long ago within the hunter. Not a day had gone by where Marcellus couldn’t feel it growing and wrapping its roots around whatever it could. The teeth of its thorns gnawed at whatever rationality he had, reminding him of the extent of his sins. Yes, he was no longer that innocent man he once was. He had indeed tasted human flesh. Marcel stepped back, a dribble of saliva falling from his lips. That insatiable hunger settled in once more, and for a moment — after that blood mist dispersed — he almost let himself loose. Take that ferality which burned in his chest and direct it towards those he enlisted. The spirits of the wolves were high, and the mania which gripped them began affecting him too. No, it wasn’t Haft’s spell, but rather the sheer energy of it all. Their yaps — barks — snarls. It was chaos, wild and free. Watching them gave him the putrid urge to let go. Go back to them. Go back to serve the mastermind behind it all. A faithful servant.... Gah! he yelled, hands clutching his head. Marcellus would not let the madness take hold. Not there, and not then. He shook his head madly as if to shake those urges from his mind. There was a promise he made to himself that he intended to keep; he could not afford to succumb to those wolves. He refused. He wasn't one of then. With his wrist, Marcellus wiped the corners of his lips using the cloth of his cloak. Yes, he had promises to keep — there was no failing to be done here. Bow strung, he took aim once more. What could he do? He needed to analyze the situation in its entirety. Marcel was the leader of this party, after all. He needed to lead. His companions had been staving off the mounting threat; however, with one howl, the great direwolf heralded the beginning of the end. The warpack had arrived. “We need to run," "We need to run now!" Sikkoran’s words barely registered. How — how did they arrive so quickly?! Had the storm masked their sounds — their scents? Regardless, there was no way the four of them could fight a pack that large. Thoughts raced for a solution, until suddenly, one appeared right in front of him: While Haft and The Witch kept the wolves at bay, the mage had fashioned a great sleigh of ice and frost. It was crude — large — but thick and durable. Perfect. Quickly, the hunter unslung his bag and bow, throwing the latter onto the slab of ice. From the side of his rucksack, he grabbed a coil of rope which was roughly fifty feet in length. He smiled — thank the gods he listened to the shopkeeper. How could one questing ever live without cordage? He relented at what he was about to do, but after seeing the suspicious glance of Kassandra, he knew that there was no point in hiding it anymore. He untied that thread of red from his wrist, the glamour disappearing in naught but an instant. Where there was once the image of a man, there was now a large, slavering, monstrous werewolf. His true visage. Gods — he hoped they didn’t shoot him. Threading the rope through the frozen vehicle, he grabbed the two ends and barked at the party, “Get on if you don’t want to die — I’ll pull!” Ropes now clamped between his teeth, he was ready to run like hell. @TheElementHunter @Fierach @The Hummingbird
  7. Even from the space he resided, he could hear her — hear her cries. He could see it clearly then as the Raven wept rivers and shook against her bindings. She was chained not merely by the words of a simple spell, but chained by those who she led — those who she fought for — those who she loved with that bottomless well within her heart. Chained by herself to a world which, quite frankly, didn’t care. Her efforts repaid with what — a slap to the face? So similar was her pain to his, and yet so too was it different. Both wore shackles, but both of a different nature. Over their many encounters, he had caught glimpses of that infinite, unfathomable void of suffering she aimlessly wandered, but he did not believe he could comprehend the sheer extent of her wounds and scars. It was no way to live, roaming those plains alone. So terrible and awing was the woman who bore the weight of it all. No normal person could carry the weights of a kingdom, a world — its past and its future — all on their own. His drop of hardships was enough to crush any man. Her ocean though — eventually, that would crush her and those who loved her. — But she didn’t have to be alone anymore. Neither did he. — Could she not sense him in the room? Had grief blinded her? Perhaps she needed more than just his presence. The air in the room grew heavy with an almost palpable weight — moisture gathering on every smooth and slick surface. Droplets of water formed as glass frosted with small webs of ice and fog. Temperature dropped; nurses and guards went on edge. It was only when the shadows in the room grew larger — darker — did that cruel woman who struck his love realize who had arrived. Or rather those who arrived. Wisps of black smoke danced around his woman’s wrist, spinning and spinning, coalescing from free, nebulous strands to the solid contours of an outstretched hand. One adorned in silver. An interplay of light between the sheen of his armor and the softest shadows of his cloak grew prominent. The very air itself painted him into that room. Forming — stretching — building from that single hand into an arm, then a shoulder, then a torso — then himself. He stroked her back as he leaned in closer to Raven's face, blowing a soft breath over her — tickling those tear-dusted lashes. Open those eyes. Kirena — who had all but backed away from Raven after witnessing her outburst — looked on with horror. She moved forward carefully before that fear suddenly and harshly turned to anger, and from anger to hatred; however, as more and more silhouettes materialized around the Empress, she stopped and froze. He glanced her way for second — gave a mocking look — a contemptuous sneer. Don’t come any closer if you know what’s good for you, and she didn’t. He and his brothers knew she wouldn't. All livestock acted the same, thought the same: If I move, they will kill Lady Raveena, Was what was probably going on in that woman's mind. And so the guards stood — pensive, waiting, tense. Their hands gripped the pommels of their weapons, some half-drawn, bows half-strung. Some covered the mouths of nurses who were trying hard to stifle their screams. Their fear. But they mattered not anymore. Perhaps, in a time long past, he would have raged against such responses. Now though, there really was only a single person whose thoughts he cared for. Once more, he drew closer to Raven — rubbed her shoulder fondly. The rest of the shadowbeasts huddled too, each drawing close to the one who had saved them. Now, they wished to pay her back with something more than others had prior, but for now, they would comfort. Some sat on the side while some stretched on the bed around her. Some stood over on the floor — stood watch of the guards. Each wondered if she would recognize them as individuals. Would she know? They were no longer parts in that sewn up beast. Each had a heart, a mind, a spirit. Each would give it all to her. Still, despite their appearance, she shivered and convulsed with phantom pains. Blind, she was to them and the rest of the world. Damn The Hunter. What could they do? What could he do? Her pain was his pain, and not just in a metaphorical sense. Her empathy was overwhelming, weighing on their hearts in tandem with their own guilt. He needed to do something for her — something which would reach her. Then thought arose with the newfound clarity. She was blind, numbed, yes — But perhaps not deaf. While he was no longer linked so intimately with his siblings, he knew they would know it if he began, so he began: He hummed — a single note at first, before splitting into a slow, drawn out melody. Soon, his brothers joined in, each contributing their own voice to the ethereal chord. Some may have likened it to a howl, but it was far too soft for a howl. It was a sound only shadowbeasts could make, much like the whispering of winds through the trees. A lullaby — a song: Ah, it was a song for longing; a song for remembering — A song of darkness and dreams of those it harbors — A song for kin; A song for strangers — A song for sons, their lovers and their fathers — A song for rest; a song for sleeping — A song for healing and for mending — A song for broken beasts and broken things — To remind them of hope unending. Yes — there was no truth in feeling lonesome. For the kind Raven who wept and wept has never been — and was no longer — alone, some. @Malintzin
  8. WELFRICK ERHARD JAGDHUNDE Everything seemed to meld into one. The voices on the outside were barely audible as they competed in waves of their own, washed-out sounds. It was as if his head were dunked underwater as a war raged above — senses dulled and blunted by a force unknown, holding him in those eldritch depths. What were these sounds — these emotions he grasped from the world above? Why did those on the outside seem so worried — so frantic? Even in the haze, he could hear their yells. There was an occasional jerk of the cart which carried him, but aside from that, there was nothing else of particular note. Just screams and unstable transport. His consciousness had ebbed and flowed between that limbo and reality many times by the time they placed him underneath the harsh, fluorescent lights of the operating table. There was a sharp stab in his side, and then a numbness. Where was he? Darkness, all-consuming, began growing along the edges of his vision. What was happening? What was this cold wind he felt on this shoulder, this otherworldly coolness which gripped his body? More pain — more yelling — more panic on the outside. Was he dying? It was the only conclusion which made sense in those moments. Still, it was strange that he could not remember what brought him to such a state. Multiple lacerations — severe exsanguination? He could have sworn he wasn’t hurt on the hunt that morning. He was just walking with his cart, bringing a bountiful haul back to his abode — ah, he hoped he didn’t leave the thing out in the sun. What good was rotten meat for his business? Gah, he was distracted! He needed to switch focus back onto the matter at hand. He was dying — that much was clear. Why?— he didn’t know. Was there something — anything he could do? He tried moving his fingers, but to no avail. The numbness had paralyzed him enough so that he could not move, but not enough as to spare him the pain of the surgeon’s blade. Golden Eyes, he remembered. Why — why was Welfrick thinking back to that woman again? He needed to focus! It was so strange how his thoughts drifted back to the mundane, as if to escape the reality he was in. He figured his mind had to play tricks on him — fool him into staying awake for just a little while longer. The futility of fighting against one’s fate was indeed a boring one. Linger too long on it, and you might just wish to sleep through it. — Sleep forever, actually, if one really thought about it. He paused. Is this what death felt like to everyone? A denial of all the things which were happening at the given moment? Vision faded a bit more, until he saw nothing but the shadows in his head. He wondered: do the dying always depart with the taste of apples on their tongue? So sweet, yet sour, yet fulfilling all at once? Welfrick had lived a full life, to his memory. His only regret would be never seeing the wider world outside of Port Kyros — that forest of his dreams. Pillars of pine, where someday, he would return to. * * * * * It all assaulted him at once. Everything. Information — images — memories of the menial, of the impactful, of every event in his life, playing in the highest resolution with details down to the last blade of grass. To say it was overwhelming would be an understatement. Blood, triumph, light, steel, screams, pain, a kiss — at any second, he felt that his head would simply burst from the sheer load of it all. Questions. He had so many questions. Each and every picture which played out of order made no sense to him. He had to ask — needed time to ponder —but as every memory flew at him, he could barely register which ones mattered anymore. Within the confines of his mind, he curled into a ball, hoping that these things he saw weren’t true. Knowledge is power, but it also is a curse. He was the reason for his father’s death. He was the reason for the deaths of so many! And now — now he’d have to live with it. Live through it all again. Bloodshot eyes flew open — wrist rattled the side of the bed as he tried breaking the handcuffs which chained him. The guards surrounding him held him down, but they could not hold down the tears which fled from the hunter's eyes. He screamed and screamed and screamed. Screamed until his throat was raw. Too many — far too many emotions. A life laden with tragedy had finally revealed itself to him. Perhaps it would have been better if he had never remembered anything at all. @Malintzin
  9. LAYELIA ASTRAPÉ LEUCETIUS Something about the ship just wasn’t right. Layelia had been wandering what she thought to be the periphery of the outer corridors, looking for a room for quite some time now. It hadn’t taken long for her eyes to pick up the discrepancies of the vehicle. If she had truly been walking along the inside of the walls which faced the outside world, she figured that things would be smaller — not bigger! She couldn’t help but take these subconscious measurements. It was just how her mind worked. How wide was this interior as opposed to the exterior — almost twice? If so, it would have taken an expert or two in spacial geometry and manipulation to achieve this feat — especially for a region which was not anchored to any point in particular. That inner scholar of hers began bursting with questions. When she got back from the journey, she would have to ask Lady Raveena for the name of the shipwright. There was much to learn from such a fellow. The maths and magic which went into such a spell was a true testament to his or her skill. What secrets could she glean from a master of their craft? Yawn. Perhaps it was time to retire. When she finally arrived at a suitable room — one not so far from the stairwell, but not too close either —, she twisted the brass knob and entered. She could use a nice bed to get some much needed rest. Despite her appearance, Layelia couldn’t help but feel the need to undress and relax. The dragon’s dip in the ocean left her feeling soaked even if there was no water clinging to her coat. The joys of sympathetic bonds. Kicking off her boots, the woman plopped onto the large, luxurious mattress and closed her eyes. She didn’t even bother taking off her trench coat or thick slacks — the metaphorical lead weighing her body was far too heavy. What a night. FRAENIR OF SIGURTHYR GASP — the dragon sucked in a large breath of air when he reemerged to the surface. Sea foam and waves assaulted him from all angles as he craned his neck high above the waters. He had been rather enjoying his time swimming. His cousins sure knew what they were talking about — even if he found them a bit dull. How free he felt when he plunged deep into those waves — into the waters on his own. Free to be on his own. — But a sudden fatigue alerted him of his distance from the ship, reminding him that he did not have such freedoms anymore. Those wings were clipped when he fell to Slaver’s Enclave. Amber eyes scanned the horizon. He needed to find The Peregrine, and quickly. That tether between both him and the girl was drawing taut, and if the space between them widened... well he didn’t want to think about what would happen. There it is, he thought, seeing the ship’s mast beneath the rising moon. A shame it was that he didn’t get to enjoy his time in the ocean... ... Then again, he wasn’t that tired. Steadily he paddled in the direction of the ship. No need to fly this time — Fraenir would take his time swimming back. He’d let the girl introduce them to the rest of the crew. * * * * * When he finally arrived at the port beam of The Peregrine, he was thoroughly and utterly sore. He saw now why he was a land dragon and not a sea dragon — damned limbs. The webbed feet of his cousins must have been far more useful for such excursions as opposed to his long, clawed digits. Grabbing onto the boat’s side, he shifted back into his human form before hoisting himself up. He hated this form much, but Layelia had insisted on maintaining decorum in front of Lady Raveena’s associate’s companions. He chose short dark brown hair and a well-sculpted body to accompany his golden eyes this time, not willing to indulge in anymore modesty. He was already lowering himself to the appearance of such inferior creatures — why not choose something that was at least a tiny bit appealing? If he couldn’t rock the boat with his majestic, draconic visage, he would with beauty unparalleled. — That is, if one could even consider any human beautiful. Up, up, and up — he climbed some loose netting which hung off the side. Fraenir pulled himself up and over the side rails, bare feet leaving a wet puddle where he stood. He saw the orange-eyed fellow once more, this time examining the rigging of the ship beneath the moonlight. Perhaps now would be as good a time as any to introduce himself. “Greetings, human!” he said with hand raised out. “Have you seen a short, blonde, awkward woman by any chance? I’m looking for her.” The dragon smiled with a genial expression, not realizing that he himself was completely and utterly nude. @Voldemort
  10. JAGDHUNDE Eyes melted at the sight of hers. Kindness — Warmth — Spring — she was the thaw to their ice. The way her fingers laced around theirs — the way she handled them so gently. The way she looked into their eyes, past all their mistakes — there was no flaw to her. Could it even be real? It couldn’t be true, it just couldn’t. They didn’t deserve her — not after all they had done —, and yet after everything, she was there, facing them with an expression they had never seen before. What was she thinking? She seemed confused at first, but soon, her expression shifted to something unknowable. It was warm and comforting, something new that they did not recognize. What was this emotion she had? What was she feeling? The two stood there for a moment like that just looking at each other, wearing the same faces, frozen in time. Could they not stay like that forever, or was this just another fabrication of their fading mind? Had they already died? Could this be what life after death was? They wouldn’t mind if it was. Then, the moment passed, showing that this indeed was not eternity. Without even realizing it, they found something beating next to their chest — something smooth which was fully enclosed in their hands. They wished to look, but didn’t. They didn’t want to look away from her — didn’t want to risk letting the dream disappear. How human. As she turned, they held that precious, tiny thing in their hands. It was pressed tightly above their beating heart — cushioned in soft tufts of black fur. Such care was needed; it was Raven’s gift. With slow, deliberate movement, they gingerly brought their cupped hands close to their face, cracking open the clasp of fingers to peek into the enclosure. The corners of their lips rose. To think so simple a fruit could bring such happiness. In their hands was proof that all of those hopes — all of those promises — weren’t fake or gone or wilted. It was proof that she regarded them as something more than a monster. More than just some beast. — And that — that was enough for them. Wistful thoughts drifted back to the night of their first encounter. So this was the end to that promised hunt. It was funny. Perhaps they didn’t really need her love. They just needed her. Her validation was worth more than the world. Nothing could truly ruin this moment, not even The Hunter. Even as she frantically tried fixing Welfrick, the Beast couldn’t help but smile. All her actions served as further proof that this indeed was not a dream. She was too kind to leave even the most grotesque to suffer; she had saved the Jagdhunde once. No, what she did with Welfrick didn’t matter. She was there. Actually there. She was with them. It was as good an ending as they could have asked for. They wouldn’t have to be alone as they died. Ch-crunch, ch-crunch. The faint scent of apples rode the gale. When she turned, they basked in her countenance once more. Ah — that worry she had on her face. It was truly, truly human of her. That selfishness and greed — did she truly believe in her heart that she could save them both? Pitiful songbird. She was much like them after all. The Jagdhunde found themselves doting after her as one did after a lost lover. It seemed that she too fostered impossible hopes for impossible wishes. They were dying — both the hunter and the beast — this was truth. It was as inevitable as the sunrise. A night of life must always end. The desperate blues in the sea of her gaze reached for the greens of theirs. A tide searching for some direction out in a disorienting ocean. A soul grasping out for something to hold on to. Her kindness was infectious. For once, she needed them like they needed her. Forward, forward, they tread forward. The apple in their hand dropped back into her basket as they knelt down and wrapped their arms around her. Had she always been this short compared to them — so skinny? So small like the bird they had always likened her to? They ran their claws through her long hair, combing those tresses of lacquer with affection. No need to kiss nor anything else. To hold her in their arms was more than enough. They’d let her know they were there. Be there for her this time. Reassure her when they knew her hopes would fail her. They knew she loved all without reason. It was what brought her towards all manner of broken things like them. She was just that kind of person. A mender, a healer, though it was unrealistic to think that one could save everyone. A smile. They were glad that she had taken the time to save them. Muzzle tilted down, throat resting on the crown of her head. There she was — their Raven tucked between chin and chest. Two figures in snow, one shielding the other from the cold beneath the ash tree. Her skin against their fur. Her smell tangling with theirs. They held her close like they had so long ago, without bars or chains this time. If only — if only they could stay that way forever. How human. Pieces of him were let go — fell from the mismatched seams. Cracks began to spread on skin, scales, and coat as they began drifting away bit by bit. Their physical form was finally dissolving; their old friend had finally arrived. His truth would cut away at their lies. How human it was to think that they could fix themselves by grasping at parts they tore from another. What use was there to hold onto those shards which could never truly replace the missing pieces they had lost? They would never be whole again. Never be the same as they were before. Death takes a part of you so that if you ever leave him, you remember you do not belong. First a scale, then a finger. Stitchings in memories, ripped and torn. Piece by piece, drifting away. Things muddied in those moments, and yet never was a time before where their intentions and emotions were so shockingly clear. It was an overwhelming, incurable love. As they held Raven close, they wondered if these feelings were theirs or The Hunter’s. The line between themselves and him became blurred as of late. His memories sustained them and became a part of them. As much as they hated to say, he was there too. Welfrick always had been. — But they didn’t need him anymore. They could learn to let go. His glue was no longer required. After all, they had her to fill in those missing pieces now. Yes — these feelings were entirely their own, not Welfrick’s. No longer did they need the mask of man to hide behind. No longer did they need to hold onto each other for fear of revealing their individual, tattered remains. Raven could see through that regardless. They would be true to themselves in those final moments they existed together as The Jagdhunde. Their ending was here: The Shattered Beast’s conclusion. They finally caught up to her. Thank you, they said in tandem, twelve voices ringing as one. And goodbye. With a gust snow, they disappeared, leaving naught but a silhouette which still embraced her. The echoes of their voices could be heard from a distance. Goodbye — Goodbye — sweet Raven. The hunt is over. Wake up. @Malintzin
  11. JAGDHUNDE Their lips pressed firmly against hers — tender kiss steeped in that scarlet red —, but when their eyes opened, she was gone. A mere fantasy. A drunken daydream. Sweet to bittersweet in less than a moment. If only it was real. Knees deep in snow, they stood as their fur rippled in the winter winds. Now, the only company they had left was the roaring static of the white blizzard. It was so bright and yet not blinding — a familiar place they had been to only once before. A space within their mind. Nostalgia, not fear. How sweet to think that they left the gentle caress of one to the embrace of another — one whose grip so cold yet truthful without lie. An old friend they likened it — or rather him — to. It was infidelity with an acquaintance at least. There was certainty in his words unlike the words of man. He was one who never misled — never misguided. Spoke only truths with sure finality. Their first encounter with him was much like every experience when one met a stranger: apprehension, discomfort — that burgeoning need to run and escape. But they knew him this time, and were unafraid. There was no need to let go of these feelings they held for the sake of another. Fear was not the last thing they wanted to feel. No — they would hold tight onto that kiss, even if it wasn’t real. His light shone bright, and towards him they walked. Cold breaths smoked from their mouth as they spoke towards Death with that lingering smile: Ah yes, we are dying again, aren’t we? Yes, yes — they were dying. The shadows of twelve continued onward towards that bright illumination, walking as one, single being. They were ready to leave that darkness they lived in. Too long had they stayed, brewing in the shadows. It was time to go. A sigh escaped their lips, silvered hand tracing circles in the other. They could still feel the warmth of her skin against the scales of their palms. If only they could bring that feeling with them into oblivion. Sshk-Crunch... Sshk-Crunch. Ears perked. They stopped in their tracks. Sshk-Crunch... Sshk-Crunch... Sshk-Crunch... Sshk-Crunch... Regularity within the otherwise randomness of the storm. An impossibility at the final pass. Body swung around as head snapped towards the steady rhythm of crunching snow. In the distance, they saw what looked to be a tree’s silhouette which accompanied two smaller figures. The first they knew — it was the hunter they chained, but the second.... Feet trudged through the ever-deepening drifts. The second — they knew the second — knew it in their soul. Knew by the way she pried. They kept their distance, stalking close behind. She did not turn nor waver as she moved forward with her ever-present grace. Closer — closer — they let her scent pull them in. Eyes followed the porcelain of her petite hand as she perched herself in front of The Hunter. The back of her carmine cloak draped across the white expanse — her ebony hair flowing like a river down the curves of her frame. Innocence lost in this virgin white which suffused the scene. Her arm reached into the wicker vessel of frost-dusted, scarlet orbs, her delicate fingers pulling out a single fruit. For a brief moment, they thought she would turn around. Look at them and not at him. Vague hopes were planted, and vague hopes wilted. Bittersweet turned bitter in less than a moment. They came from behind, kneeling in the snow behind her — took in the smell. How quaint of her not to notice them as she oft did. What hopes did she hold holding that apple out to the broken man — that empty husk? What did she see in him and not them? Jealousy was an ugly feeling, much like The Jagdhunde themselves. So natural was it that they wore it with ease. Jealous creatures, they were. Was it so wrong to the world for beasts like them to love a woman like her? Was it so terrible? They had pretended to not hear her concerns for The Hunter when she encountered them on the seawall, but every word she spent on Welfrick and not them was a knife in the back. After all the world has taken from them, it couldn’t let them have this one woman? The one and only thing they wanted? Why give her to The Hunter and not them? Their hand reached past and grabbed her wrist while the other covered her eyes. Fingers trembled at first touch; the steam of their breath rolled across her nape as they tried hard to hold back those ugly emotions welling inside. She liked hurting them, didn't she? Did she enjoy the taste of their sadness? Did she savor their longing for a precious songbird their clawed hands could never cherish? The cold wind froze the tears before they even had a chance to fall from their face. How cruel her indifference was to them. Was it even right to sob? Her choice in the matter was clear — the hunter, not the beast. — And yet they didn’t want to let go. “Please don’t, Raven.” Don’t leave for another man. Don't let our story end with this. @Malintzin
  12. EBONVINE Calm, calculating eyes fell upon the five that were his quarry. Fresh, crisp breaths steamed from between his bared teeth, whistling away as white streaks in the howling winds against the blackness of his coat. As he stood atop the powdered dune of ice and snow, the long hairs which hung from his back waved like shadowy tassels — the silhouette of a demon in the backdrop of a frigid hell. There was a scent in the air — one unlike the others. The Ebonvine did not gaze hatefully at the three humans — No — there was no reason to hate those beneath him. Instead, scarlet gaze focused in on the one in between — the one who did not belong. The wolves behind him stirred behind with impatience. They smelled it too. Stillness did not bode well for these children. One look — a piercing glance — one silent command: Stop — and they no longer fidgeted. His attention was not towards feeding the new bloods — No. His business was strictly with the traitor in front of him. As an alpha of the packs, it was his job to deal with the dissidents and rogues who ran away. Still, for one who smelled so strongly of The Kin... he wondered. Fanged maw opened, revealing a set of brilliant ivory daggers. Fluid tongue rolled as he spoke, voice tinged with guttural intonation. His words were growls among barks among throaty whispers — a language only one of The Refashioned would understand. Those hounds who were molded by The Kin would know it. It was a language spoken only by one who ordered, and heard only by those who obeyed. Several words uttered, and the cloaked man shivered like prey. Ebonvine’s eyes narrowed in disgust. This was indeed a traitor. In a single motion, the wolves all moved in tandem — an uncanny synchronicity gifted by the one who led. Soon, the thirteen who followed him encircled the three men and two beasts — keeping their distance while being wary of their movements. The great direwolf stood above them all, watching from the back. He would not let the stray escape — No. He would hand deliver this one back to The Kin. The Ebonvine knew that death was not the cruelest fate that could befall a traitor. No... no... there were worse fates than death. A sickening grin rose to his scowling face — one warped with malevolent delight. His emotions had long been twisted from that fateful night, but still, some things never changed. His sadism, for one, still lingered. Oh how he would enjoy watching those fighting eyes be extinguished. How he would enjoy watching the man be turned. Watch those faint hopes of false rebellion turn to ashes and dust. He wondered how the man was doing fighting it. Surely, the wolf was struggling now. Perhaps temptation would beget that sweet, sweet release that all wolves sought. Sweet satiation to that never-ending hunger. Ears perked — another wolf-howl came from the distance. His earlier call had been answered. If a wolf could snicker, The Ebonvine did snicker. Soon, these humans would have exactly what they were searching for. A warpack was to arrive shortly. @The Hummingbird @Fierach @TheElementHunter
  13. *Cracks Fingers*

    I am back from my unannounced hiatus -- had to prepare for a convention. Overall results were fantastic. I am going to get back on the writing train now!!

    Sorry for the wait everyone!

    @The Hummingbird @TheElementHunter @Fierach @Malintzin @Voldemort @Twitterpated @Etched In Stone

    1. Malintzin



    2. TheElementHunter



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