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Pasion Pasiva

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Everything posted by Pasion Pasiva

  1. Band-Aids don't fix bullet holes You say sorry just for show You live like that, you live with ghosts You forgive, you forget, but you never let it go Band-Aids don't fix bullet holes You say sorry just for show If you live like that, you live with ghosts If you love like that, blood runs cold
  2. Like anyone would be I am flattered by your fascination with me Like any hot blooded woman I have simply wanted an object to crave But you, you're not allowed You're uninvited An unfortunate slight Must be strangely exciting To watch the stoic squirm Must be somewhat heartening To watch Shepard meet Shepard But you, you're not allowed You're uninvited An unfortunate slight Like any uncharted territory I must seem greatly intriguing You speak of my love like You have experienced love like mine before But this is not allowed You're uninvited An unfortunate slight I don't think you unworthy I need a moment to deliberate
  3. The world was on fire and no one could save me but you It's strange what desire will make foolish people do I'd never dreamed that I'd meet somebody like you And I'd never dreamed that I'd lose somebody like you
  4. The sales can rise Doesn't mean much though when your health declines See we've all got somethin' that we've trapped inside That we try to suffocate you know hoping it dies Try to hold it under water But it always survives Then it comes up out of nowhere like an evil surprise Then it hovers over you to tell you millions of lies You don't relate to that, must not be as crazy I am The point I'm makin is the mind is a powerful place And what you feed it can affect you in a powerful way It's pretty cool right? Yeah, but it's not always safe Just hang with me this will only take a moment okay Just think about it for a second if you look at your face Every day when you get up and think you'll never be great You'll never be great Not because you're not but the hate Will always find a way to cut you up and murder your faith (Whoo) I been developin' Take a look at the benefits Nothin to meddle with I could never be delicate Am I even relevant That depends how you measure it Take a measurement Then bag it up and give me the evidence Pretty evident Dependable Can never be tentative I'm a gentleman Depending on if I think your genuine Pretty elegant But not afraid to tell you to get a grip Proper etiquette I keep it to myself when I celebrate
  5. “...Thank you, Isabella.” "Indeed." “Hm?” sleepy, half-lidded eyes regarded the felion woman with a narrowing of suspicion before softening again, “ -- oh, you’re welcome.” Things were happening, people were talking, they were all involved with each other and she couldn't care less. Her body was turned away from the business of it all, while her eyes combed through the throng of people, trying to find the man with the tray of drinks she had seen just moments before. He seemed to have vanished into thin air, much to her disappointment, which she openly showed upon her face by virtue of a deepening frown. She had every intention to leave the table then and go off on some long winded adventure to find more wine to drink, but before she could manage to even shift in her seat, the whole of Cammy’s feast was delivered and served. It would be rude to leave, and so a reluctance to break decorum kept her seated. A curious, but mostly passive glance, is made toward Cammy as she produces and ingested a small pill. Gabriela wonders, but not enough to voice any of the questions that ebb and flow in the tides of her consciousness. “In some places, it is taboo to discuss business before dinner is served. Now that dinner has arrived, could you explain why Isabella should meet Caeceila? ...Are you recommending Isabella for our ‘program’ or is this a personal matter?” Pretenses fell away. Though she felt the sweet intoxication of the alcohol she consumed, a blurring of her vision around the edges of the world, she was not so far gone that she could not stop on a dime to focus. The sing-song notes departed her mind, and the music died in her ears and on her tongue, leaving her with an arid feeling mouth that she dare not open. There was a glimmer of the queen then as her eyes shifted and regarded Ilyana through a thin canopy of dark lashes. The unasked question hung heavy in the air -- what program and just who the hell was Ilyana taking her to meet, and for what reason. “...Caecelia would benefit from a chat with a member of the Scarlet Council. The current regent of Port Caelum is guilty of abetting Dredge, the leader of the Legion of Doom, and that has earned our ire. Port Caelum was previously aligned with your organization, no?” “The Legion of Doom?” Gabriela couldn’t help herself, the name was spoken aloud and followed with a burst of laughter -- perhaps she had just a little too much to drink. “That has got to be the most absurd name that I’ve ever heard.” “By the way, Isabella, if you drink too much, you’ll get a hangover, vomit, and/or die. Here, have some takoyaki.” The laughter stopped and instead, she perked a brow at the small dumpling-sized, fried balls that were set before her. She knew that the cat-girl was right, but then because it was the cat-girl giving the advice, Gabriela felt compelled to refuse it. “Eat some food, try some virgin drinks, and chug water. You’ll thank me when you don’t wake up with a stranger in your bed tomorrow or puking in a bathroom stall.” “You’re a bossy little -- ,” Gabriela is cut off by Ilyana, who has been, for most of this time, carefully constructing her reply. “Recommend? I am simply helping out a friend Cammy. I’ll let Caeceila and Isabella decide their own fates once they meet. Admittedly there are some blurred lines between business and personal matters that keep me tethered here to make sure…” An elegant hand, glittering with jewels, is lifted and a motion is made in her direction -- Gabriela clenches her jaw. “...she is safe. She has been through as much turmoil or perhaps more than all three of us so perhaps she will benefit from befriending those who have endured and have survived for this long in this unforgiving world where body snatchers are only one of the many problems that wish to impose themselves upon us.” Finally, as if Gabriela had finally appeared -- as if her existence had at long, last been acknowledged -- Ilyana actually looked at her. “So while you likely question my motives and would rather seek out whatever other means of aid you feel more secure in, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone in Terrenus more kindred to what you’ve gone through than those within my circle beautiful.” “There’s no one kindred to me,” she interrupted, before Ilyana could address Xartia. She had turned her body around, she had come full circle and was now giving the woman in black her full, and undivided attention. “Don’t mistake a little bit of knowledge for some kind of familiarity between us. I know exactly what this is, and I know what happens when I either prove to be useful or end up being not. But please, don’t mistake me for some beaten dog -- a victim to join your little club. You have no idea what I am, or what I was.” Cammy got under her skin. The wine got into her blood. The room was stuffy, and the food smelled awful. She was pushed away from the table and muttered to herself about getting fresh air. She knew that Ilyana’s interest in her safety was only skin deep, but why it bothered her so much she couldn’t begin to understand. Maybe it was because Ilayan had been there, a broker of sorts during the change that turned her mortal, or maybe it was because now there was no one else -- no one who knew, no one who could attest to who she had once been, no one who could say for certain. But it was the knowing that Ilayana’s intentions were driven by something other than love, than loyalty, or kindness that rattled the former Black Queen. She was being played and she knew it, but she had no choice but to continue and play. Out of the office, ignoring whatever came after her outburst. She was going to look for a quieter place to spend the remaining hours of the feast -- perhaps the library.
  6. As someone who just came to Val from out of left field but also kind-of-sort-of from the same origins as some other members (YIM chat rooms), I have to say that I never felt the clique vibe. Sure, there were obviously groups of *friends* who had a history together, but that's the same as entering any established organization and finding that people have had years to develop relationships -- can't hold that against them. You just have to build your own relationships, and that's where networking comes in. And some people are better at it than others, but I feel like Val has done a very good job at trying to help brand new members in that department, even going so far as to offer older members opportunities to not only "work" (write) in the Tavern of Legend but also plug for their respective boards or plots. Now, based specifically on Carlos' definition -- the second part -- I most definitely have never encountered any group that has shut me out when i inquired about joining. And for myself, as a boardleader, have only had two instances where I had to officially ban people from participating in my role play hub, but even then -- again -- I feel like Val had some pretty solid measures in to have all of it resolved neatly.
  7. I did not expect to have my name thrown in here. I did have an opinion on what makes a character important when the thread first went up, but like so many things -- I hardly thought what I thought was worth mentioning. But I suppose, I'll share. In Character, I think Gabriela's importance was not 100% credible. She was the ruler of a very small and mostly inconsequential country. I tried to physically place Orisia in a location where it might make it more valuable/important, but honestly I think few people take into account location and travel when it comes to writing, and that makes sense because it's a lot less exciting and luxurious than the fun stuff you could be writing. Gabriela was important, I believe, because of the people who were interested in her -- which is not to discredit the fact that she herself, as an individual was interesting to them. I think Roen, for example, tried to play up the political aspect of her worth a little more than Raphael , but Raphael had a built in political storyline that didn't require too much mingling or plotting outside of certain groups. Gabriela herself was just, in my opinion, a very inviting and friendly individual and almost anyone had access to her during big events, which leads into my personal belief of what makes a character important... To me, what makes a character important, regardless of what title they hold or what position they play, is if there are people willing to follow them (are people willing to write with them). Obviously, I don't mean one or two people. I mean, can a character attract a significant following -- and that's equal parts plot, environment, opportunity, and personality meshing between writers, plus so much more. I know that I put a lot of work into helping people figure out how and why their character might be in my setting, whether it's a public event I am hosting or just a little random scene they want to do because they feel compelled to write with me (and I happen to have time and energy to comply). I was never good at playing multiple characters so most of my time and creative abilities went into fitting multiple settings and plots around Gabriela's personality, availability, and location. Instead of creating new characters for new plots, I mostly have one huge continues plot with one character, and that's made me work to try to open myself up for as many opportunities to write within the scope of that story with everyone and anyone that I can. So I think it seems like a lot of people would follow or write with Gabriela, when in reality, it's just that I only write one character (primarily). But who knows... I am definitely experimenting right now, and yes, still with the same character. Trying to see if her political muscle can extend beyond the cushy-ness of having a throne, country, and massive fortune to back her up. I am back to writing with a variety of people, participating in events, visiting places that I did not create nor do I run, and will soon try my hand at hosting an event again. We'll see how it all goes. But it was odd to see my Gabriela thrown into this. I always thought she was popular, sure -- but important? I don't know about that one.
  8. From the shadows of her mask and of her dark, dark hair, she watched as he came upon the sofa and stood there for a moment, examining the scene before him. Sanguine eyes looked to the sofa table, then to her stretched out legs, under the heavy skirts of her dress, then to the floor, and she could almost follow his line of thinking as he considered where best to place himself and the drinks that he, had so expertly balanced within the wide, open expanse of his palms. To her surprise, he picked the floor, and took to a knee before settling their drinks on the floor, and from there, nearly eye-level with her, he stopped. Animation made him a frightful creature. It gave him size, it gave him speed, it gave him life and spirit -- and all of those things that only masked the real tired and beaten soul that resided way down below; the soul she recognized nearly as clearly as if she were looking into a mirror. He was as fragmented and disjointed as she was, an utterly broken and vanquished thing. “There you are...” she whispered just as he reached out and those searing fingertips of his touched her chin and traced their way up the curve of her chin. She neither smiled nor frowned, but she could not escape from the forced reaction to the heat -- a flinch, before settling into the warmth. He brushed back hair, tucked it behind her ear, and revealed more of the fine pattern woven into the fine lace of her mask. It was a delicate thing. Nearly feathery against her skin, laying ever so light across her cheekbones, and across her brow, and trembling in the current of his breath. “Because I love you.” Her jaw clenched, but the gesture was minuscule and perhaps even hidden under the weight of his hand resting against her cheek. “When had it ever felt right?” She saw his eyes, saw how they flickered down -- across her lips -- and then back up to meet her gaze. He was fighting something, some dire need. The edge of savagery that accompanied the devil was like a well fitted coat. It was an elegant cut, and made of fine material, but its purpose was clear; a layer of cruelty, of violence, of lust and hunger. He had always wrestled with these things, and why should tonight be any different? In fact, why should tonight be easier? Because of sadness? Because of tragedy? Were these afflictions of the heart not the perfect fuel to feed the flames of ardent hate? Maybe, in mutual suffering, they could find relief in blissful oblivion. What better way to honor their son’s memory than with the further perversion of love? Gabriela was almost smiling. “We’re all that’s left. We died with him. How cruel that even our shades cannot stay away from one another.” There you go, she thought, watching as he descended into the depths of introspection. She dared not follow him, for fear of becoming lost in those dark and awful lands of mourning. She had spent her time there and had nearly lost herself in the sorrow. If she spent too much time thinking about it -- if she delved too deeply into what it meant to have lost a child, to have given up another -- it would drive her mad, and then the weeping would begin and nothing would be able to calm her for at least a day and a night. It was better to close that door, to shut it securely and lock it. But that didn’t mean he couldn’t feel it, or more importantly -- that he shouldn’t. He sat there on the floor, with his top half leaning on the sofa, his arm stretched out, his hand cupping her cheek, and she seemed small by comparison -- allowing it to happen, but reserved in her body language with both her arms caught under her body. “Because I love you… And I cannot remember where my guilt ends and your own begins. And I could not stay away.” A decision had to be made at that moment. She had not come to Patia looking for him. The possibility of a meeting had never seemed realistic enough to actually plan for it, but now here he was -- confessing love, and exposing his brokenness with a vulnerability that seemed almost god-given to her as a gift for the mission she had undertaken. But of all people, of all creatures in the world, to use him unkindly seemed the cruelest crime against nature, for he was all that was left of her child. Gabriela couldn’t look at him. Suddenly she was shifting, moving around and pushing his hand away, but keeping a grip on it -- gently, but firmly. With one arm, she pushed herself up, sitting until one leg dangled over the edge of the sofa and the other remained tucked neatly under her body. Then, having kept a hold of his hand, she pulled him back, and pulled him close. When he was near enough, she let go of his hand, and instead, both her hands took hold of his head. Warm fingertips combed through his hair before pulling his head down into her lap, nearly forcing him to rest there as she began the careful work of stroking his hair. She paused, but only long enough to bend quickly to pluck her drink from the floor. One hand kept at the busy work of stroking his hair, while the other brought the glass to her lips -- the sound of ice clinking softly, and droplets of condensed water dripped and landed on his brow, cool and uncomfortable. “I don’t feel any guilt, Roen. I didn’t kill my child -- my children. I did everything I could, I did everything short of slitting my wrists and offering my life for theirs, and if that would bring them back, if that would give them a chance, a real chance. I wouldn’t think twice.” She was no longer talking about Philippe alone -- there was the other child, the pregnancy that had caused their final separation, her betrayal, as he put it. He seemed content not asking about it, even though she should have been quite far along by now, but was instead a human and very much not pregnant anymore. She drank again. “So I don’t feel guilty. You shouldn’t either. You did everything you could to save me -- you fought to save us.” Another drink, deeper this time. “Do you want to know what I feel?” she was stroking his hair, her fingers working softly through his locks, which had grown so very long. A quick glance down through her mask, a glint of gold through black lace, before she was back to looking at the settling storm outside. “Anxiety. So much anxiety. I keep thinking what happened to us -- it’s happening to someone else, right now, tomorrow, the day after -- constantly, all the time. Somewhere, on the other side of the world, or maybe, just down there, somewhere in that city below, some poor mother and father are holding their dead child because circumstances they never chose for themselves, but which were thrust upon them by villains, caused them to lose what was most precious. And I feel so helpless. I feel utterly helpless. I don’t want this to ever happen again, not to anyone.” Her fingers stopped at his shoulder and a sigh left her lips -- her breath smelled of vice, and sweet tonic water. Away from him, she leaned back, resting against the sofa, breathing soft and shallow. It hit her hard and fast, but it did hit her. One too many drinks. “We can stop it. No one else understands… what it’s like to try so hard, and fail. No one should have to understand what it’s like.”
  9. No one calls you honey, when you're sitting on a throne...

    1. Ataraxy
    2. Pasion Pasiva

      Pasion Pasiva

      You would have to ask the song writer.

       

  10. “I have… While I have plenty of responsibilities to tend to, I am willing to donate some portion of my time to continue assisting you, either until your visit in Terrenus is complete, or until I am forced out of your company by any myriads of potential reasons. Then again, what was it your boyfriend called us? Common ilk? Are his pockets not as deep as mine are? Deeper even?” “Dear Duncan never does anything for free,” she replied, with that same little smirk on her face -- a tight little smile she directed toward the disguised High Lord. It was a joke between them now, but once upon a time it had caused her true horror and pain -- not to mention degradation. He had aided her in her time of need, spiriting her away from the island of Ceyana after Vivian and Alazar’s wedding, only to extract his cruel pound of flesh. And while there was some strange, perhaps even poetic, understanding between them now, Gabriela was not foolish enough to forget a hard-learned lesson. “The price is always steep, isn’t it?” she asked, still smiling but this time, casting her golden gaze toward Duncan, who was apparently, very taken in by the fight. “Regardless, as I said, I’m willing as far as I’m able. I will grant you access to a small fortune, and traverse the continent with you. On the condition that you provide me with a bit more transparency. Surely you can give me some idea as to where we’re going, what we’re doing exactly.” “That seems perfectly reasonable, Xartia. We’ll have lots of time to talk after the match.” And after I have time to think about what I feel comfortable telling you… There was only one secret worth keeping now. There was only one lie that she had to protect. Maybe she was just a pretty face to Xartia, but he was so much more than just a stereotypical rogue to her… And she had been around enough powerful men to recognize an anomaly when she found one. He was neither proud, nor arrogant, nor forceful, nor overtly sexuallized, or overly interested in her -- or any other woman for that matter. If he felt any sort of attraction, which she had no reason to believe he was incapable of harboring, he did so in a private and respectful manner. It revealed a thoughtfulness that seemed rather atypical in the male population. The fact that this was not only a surprising, but a rare feature in a man, made him valuable enough to make him an asset worth keeping close. But the fact that he might be confusing her friendliness for something more made her second guess her decision, a fact that was only amplified by Cammy’s unfortunate timing. It was the sound of the dead bird hitting the ground that made Gabriela jolt in her seat -- the hefty weight of it, the reverberating thud that traveled across the floor and up her legs, through the thick soles of her bootes. And when her eyes settled on the poor, dead creature, with its long neck bent at an ugly and impossible angle and it’s graceful wings spread out and bloodied across the pristine, white carpet, she hardly noticed the tears that had welled up or the fact that she had stood up and that her hands were balled up into tight fists. The reaction had been immediate, unplanned, and impulsive, much like the trembling that shook her shoulders and the core of her body. Gabriela was ready for anything -- for everything… Except this. Except such a blatant reminder of her child’s death. “A word to the wise: you can’t bind a demon if you can’t pronounce its name. That demon’s name is pronounced Kae-s-ilyah.” She knew something about devils and their names. How much more different could a demon be? She knew something about engraving names down and remembering them forever, so she took what that awful little beast-girl said and she ingrained it in her mind -- seared it into the tender flesh of her brain. But she did not look in her direction, she did not dare to shift her golden eyesight away from the mangled remains of the black swan, lest she lose every ounce of control she had over herself. “You work fast, Isabella. I count no less than three men you’ve expertly wrapped around your little finger. I wonder how many you’ll have collected by this afternoon. Nine? Ten? Nah, let’s go with Nine, the naughtiest number of them all.” I'll skin you alive. She knew. Of course she knew. But it did little to curb the swell of her rising anger, and beside her, she could feel Ryzerus, watching her with curious, perhaps amused eyes. He could not know what any of this was or what it meant, but there was his heavy judgment. Would that she had the power now, the strength necessary -- the vision, the creativity, and the bloodthirst to end it all. Her rage trickled away like water droplets, hitting her on the crown and rolling off her to drop from her fingertips. It was a passive and powerless anger, at least for now. Better to bottle it up, to push it down deep, to save it for a day when it could make a difference. The shaking stopped and slowly her curled fists relaxed and opened -- the inside of her right palm had been cut into by her own nails, the first wound her brand-new human body had received, the first blood she had bled. Just little droplets of blood dripping from her fingertips, until she noticed them and finally, at long last, moved from the place on the floor she had been frozen too. “I am sorry -- I was caught off guard. If you’ll all excuse me, I should go tend to this before I make a bigger mess,” she was holding her hand up, cupping the gathering blood as it pooled. It was just an excuse of course, she wanted to get out, she wanted to get as far away from Cammy as humanly possible before she ended up reaching out and trying to strangle the life out of the disease-ridden beast. But before she managed her escape -- before she could step over the body of the dead black swan, her eyes veered upward and she caught sight of the fight once more. Caeceila was backing up, deflecting (to the best of her abilities) every strike that Arthur was throwing her way. She was pulling him into a narrow corridor, thinking she’d be safer there. Gabriela understood the logic, but knew that Arthur would find a way around it. He seemed far too comfortable with his blade, and the camera made sure to do a closeup shot of his face. Gone was the young man from the night before, the one surrounded by friends, feasting and laughing. In his place was a creature designed to fight, to kill -- a creature who loves the violence. She saw the joy writ across his face as he follows into the corridor, aiming his blade at a new angle. Caecelia, Camelia, Ilyana, and Nines… They were all involved in it, somehow. She can smell coffee and blood, her own blood and that of the swans, and the repetitive clanking of metal as blade strikes blade over and over again. A heady concoction, she finds it near impossible to concentrate as her vision blurs -- unspent rage still burning in her veins. ANd somewhere, in the distance, she can hear Cammy talking to Xartia, talking about flirting, playing at being a bimbo, or perhaps just being her true self. Gabriela couldn’t help looking at the black swan one last time. They had turned her into such a creature and carried her out of her own home, and across the sea -- doused in magic and tranquilizers, while heavily pregnant, they took her from Orisia to Terrenus. Her child died on the operating table after her body failed to birth him into the world. Surrounded by Raphael and Roen, both whom arrived too late to do anything about it but weep at the loss, and blame her of course for the foolishness of getting herself kidnapped. She stared, and then, the sound of dripping brought her back… she was dripping blood everywhere. “Shit,” she murmured softly and finally picked her way over the dead bird, around the table, and past the sofa, to tend to her wounded hand.
  11. “No one is going to hurt me. He’s not going to hurt me. He can’t.” “You think so?” They stopped amid an elegant room that had been made untidy by her and her hand alone. Two shattered glasses, one against the tall windows, and another dropped -- clumsily -- from the table, and a puddle of wine that lay staining into the polished floor. This wasn’t how she carried herself, this room was a far cry from those white, clinical spaces of the neurotic Black Queen, but she had grown uncaring in her new life and so much of that was now reflected in the utter chaos of jagged glass and sticky, aromatic spilled vino tinto that lay air-drying, perfuming the the impossibly high ceilings of the executive suite. And he clung to her here, holding her close as if she might struggle away, or disapprove, or resist the proximity. The look on his face told her everything she needed to know. He had missed her. He had missed her resistance -- he missed having his ardent advances prove how just how impossible it was for her to rip the roots of love out of her heart. He was like a weed in her garden, and even in the midst of suffering, grief, and torment, he seemed to relish the opportunity to revive in her the sentiment of his worth. So of course, she saw it, even through a drunken haze. With her sleepy eyes, she saw the hardness in his as he set forth to the task of keeping to his word. Punishment. Punishment for lying. Punishment for existing. Punishment for coming here, or perhaps for taking too long to come here -- who could tell? His grip tightened even though she wasn’t fighting him -- the hand that kept a firm grip upon her hip. She was still a bit wobbly, though she did not show it, and her own fingertips reached out to find his hips, to steady herself as the worst was yet to come. A wide hand came and set itself flat between her breasts. She had noted how much more uncomfortable his presence was now than her memory seemed to recall. However, ice had run through her veins when she was a vampyre, and the fire in his blood had been a soothing balm to the numbness that often caused aches in her extremities. It was all very different now. The discomfort, however, was not intolerable -- it was more like a summer night, like sleeping under heavy, stuffy covers, and having the urge to kick them off, to strip and sleep in the nude with nothing but the balmy, hot air to cover one’s self with. But breath and proximity, and fleeting touches over layers of dense fabric -- it was nothing in comparison to bare flesh against bare flesh. She sucked in a breath through clenched teeth and winced under her pretty, lace mask -- most of her expression hidden from view. Though her flesh had taken on a pretty coloring, still particularly fair, but nowhere near as pale as she used to be, she still bloomed with color under his touch as if blushing hotly at the center of her chest. He burned her, just with a touch. Before she could exhale that breath in the form of a cry or a complaint, his lips were upon hers, and her misery fed directly into his mouth. His mouth was just as hot as the rest of him, just as hot as his fingertips, which dipped into the delicate neckline of her dress, to travel over the swell and curve of her breast. It wasn’t a struggle necessarily as much as it was a reaction, like the sudden veer a moth might attempt to avoid the suddenly notable heat of the flame after it is much too late to escape certain death. And of course, it was much too late, and she was forced to succumb to the weight of the kiss and the heat, which she was certain would end her life right then and there, until -- like a plunge into a hot bath, it slowly, but surely, began to feel good. And just as she felt like she might be able to withstand this long enough to invite it to bed with her -- invite him to bed with her, for the comfort, for the company, for the oblivion it might bring her and nothing else -- he pulled away. It was very hard to open her eyes. She was very tired. “Does it hurt? Does it break?” His fingers shifted ever so light against her breast, and she knew he was asking about her heart. If she was hurt or angered by the revelation that he had embraced and kissed her with the intention to hurt her, it did not show. With the amount of alcohol in her system, and with alcohol being a proper depressant, her heart also did not betray her. It beat slow and steady, perhaps more so than the days when he could thaw it with a touch. But a thought did linger in her mind, something that bothered her even now as she felt him begin to straighten and pull away. It didn’t hurt. And for the first time, in a long time, it didn’t feel broken. It was, of course -- broken. It was undeniably broken. It was, beyond a doubt -- broken. It was fractured and ruined, and utterly incapable of functioning in any capacity remotely close to what it had once been intended to do, and what it had once done. Her heart now was a pale and ugly shell of the thing that had lived and died within her chest when their child had lived within her womb. Topaz-colored eyes opened, half-lidded, but focused nonetheless. A slow breath left his lips and after a pause he released her. She managed to stand alone though she did sway. “What can I get you to drink?” Someone was coming. It was just a matter of time now. The place was a mess, and she was no better. She probably should get changed, or better yet reschedule the whole thing, but she had a feeling that she couldn’t spend another night in the city -- at least not without risking everything. The drinks were hitting her now and hitting her hard. With a hand on her stomach, she walked carefully, picking her away as if there might be wayward pieces of glass flung all the way across the room, toward a sofa. It was still storming, but with the light on the show was much harder to see through the glare. “A vodka tonic, whatever… it doesn’t matter…” she fell onto the sofa, laid across it belly down, with a pillow embraced under her face and her body stretched across the length of it, leaving no room for him to sit. Her eyes were closed, her breathing was even, she sounded like she was sleeping. She waited there, waited until he was closer, until he poured the drink and came back to her and stood by her, perhaps wondering if she had fallen asleep, perhaps to see what he might do if he thought she was asleep. But she didn’t wait too long. She stirred, opening her eyes and tilting her head so she could rest her cheek on the pillow and look at him through a cascade of dark hair and the trim of her mask. “Did it hurt you? Did it break your heart all the more? I am all that’s left of him, and you're all that’s left of him. It feels wrong for us to be together, to be so close -- we shouldn't even be able to look at each other. Why are you torturing yourself -- why are you torturing me?”
  12. “You’ve… been through a lot. A difficult choice to make, indeed. I’m happy for you, truly -- that you’ve left all that behind you.” Gabriela couldn’t look at him. She couldn’t stomach it. The inevitable pity was coming, and how could it not? There was only one way to tell her story, and no matter how straightforward, or matter-of-fact she was, the results were always the same. He had asked for the truth -- the truth in exchange for the possibility of his aid, but now came the blanket of victimhood. The very shawl she was desperately trying to cast off. And she couldn’t blame him for it. It was the indication of a moral heart to feel sorrow for injustice and lamentation for the hardships of others. Pallas was not out of line for his sympathies, the fault lies in her own shriveled and impacted heart, which was incapable of accepting any such sentiments. “But let’s be honest, Isabella… I find it hard to believe neither of your ‘past associates’ are looking for you.” The weight of his stare drew her eyes back to him. She saw that curl flirting along the edge of his lips -- a smirk, a grin, a smile. Whether mocking or pitying, the sentiment was the same. He found her foolish, either for trying to lie to him or to herself. “You’ve said it so yourself. Their reputations precede them. They are not good men. They are evil men. Narcissists--to give their kind a name--rarely react well to their playthings running away.” It was not the first time that Gabriela had been referred to as a plaything. A pensive frown touched her brows, which he would be free to interpret as he wished. The problem was, as it seemed to constantly be with individuals who tried to perceive the terrible complexities of her past relationships with both her cousin as well as the devil, that he underestimated her value to these men in one breath while admitting her supposed importance in another. She knew she had never been a plaything to Raphael or Roen. To the the Emperor of the Carmine Empire, she was the key to the continual procreation of his entire species and his intended centuries before her birth, and as for the devil -- in whatever capacity he was capable of loving, he loved her. But surely that only served to prove Pallas’ point. “Let me be blunt. Everyone knows the story by now. Everyone knows the cat-and-mouse game the Black Queen of Orisia’s played with her two lovers, swinging back and forth between them like a metronome. COuntless times she’s run away from her empire, they say. Countless times she’s returned -- whether by her own will or by the will of others, the stories differ.” This was to be expected, but it didn’t make it any less difficult to listen to. It wasn’t the first time, and she knew that on this long path, it wouldn’t be the last time she would have to sit under the scrutiny of someone who demanded answers before lending her support. Of course it made sense -- but it did not make any of it less painful. And to think, that somehow she had believed herself immune to the humiliation of her past life. It was worse now, as a human, when blood came up and colored her cheeks and warmed her throat, and dried her mouth. “I’m young, I know. I’ve ruled Taen for less than a year, been cognizant little more than that. But by no means am I naive. I know patterns. I know how nature iterates, turning over itself, again and again. I know the births and death of civilizations, the turning of the wheel of eons. I know the comfort of familiarity, the yearning to return to what should have been left behind. I know old lives do not die, but must have their throats slit.” They were looking at each other -- him with his pale, golden eyes, and she with her two topaz-sun-kissed ones. Though she could not do much about the warmth that rose in her cheeks and the glow that dusted her lashes, as if tears were gathering, the steel in her gaze and the ice behind it, the intent in her own heart, that was her own and not subject to her new human body. She met and kept his gaze, passive and clam as he told her what he knew, as so many men had before him. But it was the smile upon his face, his sweet and charming face, which she had considered boyishly handsome just moments ago, which now made her uncomfortable. “Perhaps the story is too quick to pin the blame on the Queen, who is, after all, the victim. Cycles are spirals, are mazes, are traps. Abuse is a cycle. Perhaps the wheel has turned too many times that she believes the pain is deserved, that the pattern is unbreakable, that this is all there is. Perhaps she finds comfort in the familiarity.” That frown of hers grew deeper. “Some say the queen is a mere puppet, a much coveted pawn trapped on a board between two kings, captured and recaptured...but contrary to what the stories say, I’d like to believe the queen is more than a puppet.” Gabriela arched a brow. His smile faded, and he looked at her -- truly looked at her. And for a moment, while she held her breath, she wondered if he might actually see her. If he could see her intentions, the hatred she held in what was left of her heart, or if he had realized the very thing Roen had known all along -- she was a monster. “I’d like to believe that, perhaps, she breaks the wheel for good, this time. That she buries that old life six feet deep. That perhaps, she would realize she is not a pawn, but a queen.” But the Queen is gone, and I am all that is left. He laughed, and she deflated internally, withdrawing back into those deepest and darkest parts of herself. He didn’t see her. No one saw her. “Anyway, I’m not concerned about Roen kicking down Cair Loeren’s door and demanding I share your whereabouts. He’s part of the Alliance, and as far as I’m aware, not an idiot. Raphael’s a god of some sort, but not on this continent. Not in this land. I may have a proposition, something that may help you in your goal, and benefits my own ends. But look me in the eye first, and tell me, are you set on this path you’ve taken?” Should she correct his misconstructions? Should she defend the mistakes of character, of history, of events… She thought of the Black Queen of Orisia, of who she had been, of what she had tried to do. Isabella smiled softly and sadly. It was a small and private smile, but heartfelt. She smiled for that woman because she had striven for so much. The Orisian Queen had been the absolute pinnacle of benevolence, now that she could look back upon it. She had lived a life of impossible standards and that had left her handicapped and vulnerable to the worst kind of evil and malice. She was that foolish, foolish creature who could not bear to sacrifice a single soul even for the greater good, not without questioning what it would do to the moral good of the whole that was left. And in the end that was her downfall. It wasn’t Roen or Raphael, it was her own set of morals that she could not break from, not even to escape the worst of atrocities. But unfortunately for Gabriela, she did not die a hero -- she simply lived long enough to see herself become the villain. This pause, it might seem to Pallas as if she had been taking some careful consideration of his question, and now that she met his gaze she was ready to give him her answer. Her intention was not to belittle the words the young prince had said, or the knowledge he meant to share. But she found it hard to find traces of herself or her past life in the story he tried to weave, or rather the story others wove for him, the story he chose to believe. “The thing about the kind of creature I used to be… the first time I ran away from Raphael, I was a thirteen year old girl, it took him three hundred years to find me. You are most certainly right that he will be looking for me -- whether out of love or revenge, I couldn’t tell you. It is hard to lose a beloved plaything, I suppose. But he will be searching for a vampyre, and so he will be searching within a very different time frame. This short, human lifespan is a gift. This change is irreversible. So there is only one path left for me -- to finish the work of the Black Queen, the work she could never finish as the Black Queen. I am set upon this path.”
  13. He turned his back on her and walked away, retreating back to the drink cart to tinker with the bottles. She heard the gurgling of the golden-brown liquor he favored as it swooshed down the neck of the bottle and sloshed into an empty glass -- he was having another drink. Meanwhile, she focused her gaze beyond the windows and into the storming night outside. The sound of thunder was barely audible to her. It was a distant rumble, something she felt more so than heard, but the lightning still cut across the faraway sky pouring details into the gray-black rain clouds that were otherwise imperceivable by her human eyes. “Magic,” he replied in response to her inquiry -- but knowing her limited knowledge and interest in the arcane arts, she wondered if he intended to be cruel with such a remark. It was obvious that it had been through unnatural means that he had found her, just as it had been through unnatural means that she had been changed. Though some would argue that magic was purely natural, and most might have thought the Black Queen herself to champion such a position, she did not. “You are Irene Gabriela Du’Grace. You are more than the sum of your parts.” I disagree… Suddenly the air thickened. It didn't smell but it wasn’t presence either, it was more akin to her memories of the humidity of Ceyana’s tropics. Like a wall of moisture woven right into the air, but without the heat and with extra density. It forced a slow, but deep breath from her, a seemingly measured inhalation that surprised even her by the way a hand lifted to settle the pads of her warm fingers firm against the exposed flesh between her breasts. She was going to comment on it being a little hard to breathe, perhaps even blame it on how much she had had to drink, until she heard that jingle-jangle. “You were a vampyre, your world revolved around the currency of blood.” So he had cast his mask aside, she thought. “My world revolves around the currency of souls.” Gone was the green-eyed man, the father of her child, the bare-foot fae-king of her girlish dreams. She knew it and she braced herself for what was to come. She heard the sound of glass clinking, of glass clattering softly and more liquid pouring, swirling, and mixing -- and then of his bare-feet padding across the floor back to where she remained standing. A tall glass was set on the table, near enough for her to touch. Another vodka and orange juice. Her fifth drink of the night -- the third that he knew of, if he was keeping count. Did he want to get her intoxicated? Not that she would protest, but she had to wonder at his motivation. Even so, Gabriela plucked the drink from the table after eyeing it suspiciously for a moment or two. “That just goes to show you, doesn’t it? How little you knew about me... Blood was never the currency of my world, and that you would even suggest such a thing -- you liken me more to my cousin than to who Irene Gabriela DuGrace truly was.” She shrugged a little and drank deeply, frowning almost immediately, while her lips were still on the edge of the glass, at the sweetness of the drink. “There is entirely too much orange juice in this,” she complained rather than thank him, and all the while, completely managing to avoid looking directly at him. And then went on with answering his questions. “I said no lies..” The sound of his glass setting down on the polished table top silenced not only her words, but her breathing, which she had come to find more and more difficult to do. He hadn’t been sharp, or loud, or even mean with the statement. Even his previous threat, though it loomed in the dense air between them, seemed less a part of his declaration than a simple expectation for honesty, as if he were owed it, as if he, above any other person in this world, should never be lied to. And for a moment, just a brief and confusing moment, she found herself wondering if he was right and she was wrong. He stepped closer inching his way until there was no space between them, none at all. But she faced the table and that meant he could only have her side, with her shoulder brushing down the center line of his body as he settled there into her. The silence between them was broken by the savage sound of snarling, which was accompanied, like a well orchestrated symphony, by the occasional deep, guttural growl. Clovis and Jaeger were up on their feet, their powerful hackles raised, their ears pointed, and their snouts wrinkled with their lips curled back. “You’re too close,” Gabriela whispered, soft and oh so very calmly to the devil. She tilted her head and peered up at him through wayward strands of her dark hair that had come loose from the messy, half-braided, updo that her hair had been elegantly pulled into. Perhaps now, with this proximity, he’d notice the delicate ropes of black pearls that had been woven into her hair. Her eyes, they were no longer that shade of molten gold -- living gold and copper. They were golden still, like pieces of topaz held to the sun, or raw honey, sweet and rich, but different and human. And those eyes looked at him now and saw the devil as a human saw a devil. But she had never been intended to be a human, and so perhaps the response was not the same. She was not drawn with irresistible desire. She saw him more harrowing and powerful. Handsome, yes, but also not quite right. It was hard to look at him. It was hard to do so without wanting more -- either to pull away and force distance or turn to him and grab fistfuls of his hair and pull him down over and around her. Whatever the case, it was all smoke and mirrors, and as a human, she was more susceptible to it. But one thing she knew for damned sure -- she wasn’t going to run away. “I suggest you back off, Roen,” she said, just as quietly, before taking another sip of the drink he had made for her. “You paid in blood and tears, in flesh and life, and received nothing for any of it. Less, in fact.” He bent and got closer, and she in turn straightened and stared straight ahead out the window and into the storm. Her lips pressed into a line, and the mask across her face hid the hard forming pinch over her brows. “Who is paying for what? You said you will take what is yours.” He was nearly whispering in her ear now, and Clovis and Jaeger had drawn closer -- the sound of their enragement was louder and more furious. Their anger was a wet sounding thing, with snapping jaws, and hot, steamy breath that rang rugged as long tongues rolled and fell, licking over rows of jagged teeth. They were waiting for her command. “What is yours, and from whom will you be taking it from?” Another drink -- it was hard to see straight. But better drunk thank having to answer these questions. Better drunk than him actually expecting an answer for these questions. Better drunk. “It is impolite to spy on people. It is by far more terrible to do so on your ‘supposed’ beloved,” she finished her drink and made to put her glass down but missed the table by half a mile. The glass fell and shattered on the floor sending sharp, broken pieces in a million directions. To escape the glittering rain of glass, Gabriela fell sideways into the devil, catching herself on him until she could steady herself and pick her way on the dangerous floor -- a nearly impossible game given just how inebriated she actually was. But it seemed a laughing matter to the young woman, who clung with one arm to Roen, and with the other pulled up the skirts of her gown to see that her feet did not manage to step on any broken glass. There'd be no immediate healing if she managed to slice her foot open. Clovis and Jaeger both yelped and came, but she shushed them and commanded them to stop. “Go, to your beds -- before you hurt yourselves. Go, I’ll be alright. No one is going to hurt me. He’s not going to hurt me. He can’t,” she said, glancing up at Roen, whom she was still clinging from, her arm linked around his now. “And you, devil, I’d like another drink. You can skip the orange juice this time.” The answers he wanted, he wasn’t going to get them -- surely he didn't need magic to see that.
  14. Help, I have done it again I have been here many times before Hurt myself again today And, the worst part is there's no-one else to blame Be my friend, hold me Wrap me up, enfold me I am small and needy Warm me up and breathe me Ouch I have lost myself again Lost myself and I am nowhere to be found Yeah I think that I might break Lost myself again and I feel unsafe
  15. I keep playing your part But it's not my scene Want this plot to twist I've had enough mystery Keep building it up But then you're shooting me down But I'm already down Just wait a minute Just sitting, waiting Just wait a minute Just sitting, waiting Well if I was in your position I'd put down all my ammunition I'd wonder why it had taken me so long But Lord knows that I'm not you And if I was I wouldn't be so cruel 'Cause waiting on love ain't so easy to do
  16. She heard the gentle and purposeful clatter of bottles rattling against the copper and glass drink cart as he fixed himself the drink she had been too rude to offer him. She felt a little bad about it and even considered offering an apology, but then thought better of it when she took another deep drink of her screwdriver. The ratio of orange juice to vodka was all wrong, and the sting and spice of the liquor was making it hard for her to keep a straight face every time she forced herself to swallow -- but she kept at it because it was a distraction and because, come what may, it would provide her with strength or enough numbness to dull whatever pain he planned to inflict, emotional or otherwise. So unlike him, who abandoned his empty glass once the bourbon was settled in his belly, she held onto her tall, mostly polished-off drink and continued to sip at it, until he had come around and was standing before her, forcing the confrontation she seemed to eternally want to avoid. His words were chasing her, following on the soft sound of his bare feet padding across the polished floor of her private sitting room -- You knew I would come to you. You knew I would seek you out. How could you not? Because you didn’t -- because it’s too late now, she wanted to say, but couldn’t. There was too much accusation in that statement, and by virtue of the charge she would make there would be admittance on her part of a need that she knew no longer existed nor could ever be resurrected. He was standing before her in anger, and she knew it and her dogs knew it. Jager and Clovis had both devoured their meat, had taken to a well-woven rug to lick their chops and paws in satisfaction, but had both picked up their massive heads off of the floor at the sharp sound of the man’s voice. Two pairs of black eyes looked back at him, as Roen sought them out, beautiful and intelligent, and seemingly docile enough, a crescent of light cut across them like blades with absolutely murderous intent. They were watching him just as he was watching them. But as for Gabriela, who stood at the forefront of Roen’s emotional display, she was not shaken -- not in the least. There was something here, a debt to be paid perhaps, something she didn’t know or understand anymore because she no longer felt anything but hate. Truly, if there was anything left in the world that could give her back, even a semblance of what it used to be like to feel anything other than hate, it was this man -- and therefore, surely, it was this in this moment that it should be explored. He was entitled to his hurt, his ache, and his anger. So long as it was not directed at her and so long as she was not the unfortunate victim of its violence or tragedy -- she had not killed their child, she had killed Raphael’s (or as close to killing it as she could bring herself to do at the time). In what way had she wronged him? She couldn’t remember anymore or even guessed it. It had something to do with Raphael’s child perhaps, the living proof of her eventual surrender into his pursuits -- with, of course, no regard for the painful isolation after Philippe’s death. It went back and forth with them, and she wasn’t sure who’s turn it was to be guilty or innocent. “You knew I would seek you out. How could I not?” He hissed at her and she, who could not raise her honey-sweet colored gaze, seemed to collapse further and further into herself and farther from him. She picked up her glass and drank the last of the pale, orange concoction. “You are beloved. You were the mothe--” He stopped, to correct himself or gather himself, but she spoke first. “I was beloved. I was. In whatever capacity one monster is beloved by another, I was beloved -- but not anymore, not for a long time. Not that it matters, but it’s important that you know that I know the distinction,” she explained, setting her glass down but not nearly as elegantly or quietly as he had his. Hers hit the table under the weight of her trembling hand, a small, warm thing that did not run the color of fresh snow, but rather, granulated quartz -- pale, yes, but sun-baked like sand on the beach. Gabriela had always been young, but humanity made her youth painfully apparent. Twenty-five, she would be turning twenty-five years old in just a few months, and she would gain a year with all the aging that it entailed. But for now, she was a brand new human, fresh and new, like a babe. Without blemishes, without scars, without the markings of any sort of life at all, but she was making short work of the gift Rodan had given her. “I need another drink…” she began to say, but he stopped her as he dropped his gaze away. “You are the mother of my child. Whatever else you are, you are that.” He looked at her again and she could tell that it was hard for him. She wished she could apologize. She didn't think he would come. She didn’t believe he would seek her out. He was wrong about that, all of it. Yes, she had come here for him -- but for her own sake, for her own memories, and certainly not to torment him in this way. “Take your mask off,” he said this as he reached up as if to help her in this endeavor but she turned her face away, and lifted a hand to deflect his reach. “I think it’s better for both of us if I leave it on.” She had only turned away a little, just enough to nervously reach up to touch the edges of fine lace that ran across, an inch or so, below her cheek bones, and up and smooth over her brows. She wanted to make sure it was on and secure. Yes, it was the same face under the mask, but she knew it wasn’t the same person and if there was anyone who would see it, surely it was the devil -- if there was anything left of him. “Tell me why you are here, Gabriela. Tell me what you want. Tell me why you stand before me, warm and human. And do not lie to me, or I will make you wish you hadn’t.” There it was -- the inevitable threat, and just in time, her inevitable buzz. Sleepiness came down hard and heavy, making her eyelids droop and her shoulders sink. Suddenly, she wanted nothing more to do with this conversation. She didn’t want to fight, but she wondered if she asked -- if she asked nicely, if he’d take her to bed and lay with her. Sleep was difficult these days, but he had always made it easy. He wouldn’t, and she knew it. Her arms crossed under her breasts and she sighed soft and slow. Internally, she recited her mantra -- the words by which she lived her life. There was only one secret worth keeping now. There was only one lie that she had to protect. “I am here because I didn’t you would be -- and I wanted to see Patia again. I was told you hadn’t been seen in months. I believed you were gone.” Truth. Over her shoulder she looked at him, from under her mask and the shadows cast by the neatly trimmed lace that hid most of the elegant arch of her brow, her honeyed-eyes searched his face. “I don’t stand before you -- you stand before me. You made your way into my private rooms, and you’ve stolen away time that was not intended for you. Against all conceivable odds, Roen, you have found me out somehow, even when I am absolutely not what I was before -- or at least, that’s what I was told. Not an ounce of my blood should be the same, not strand of DNA. There should be no trace of the vampyre you once knew, and yet, somehow, you found me. Maybe you can tell me how so that I can take precautions.” Truth. But here she paused. At this point, she had to reach out and take hold of one of the dining chairs that stood neatly tucked into the table, where her forgotten dinner had been laid out. She gripped onto the backrest, and closed her eyes for a moment. Whether she was dizzy or working through a memory, who was to tell? After a few moments, and when some wayward strands of hair had been properly bushed back and tucked behind an ear, she continued. “I am warm and human in an attempt to hide from Raphael, and in the event that he finds me -- to prevent the expansion of the vampyric species. You know what it means when a Royal Pair conceives…” Inadvertently, a hand settled on her stomach -- her flat stomach. The young woman looked rather ill as she gripped at the fabric of her skirts for a moment, again the full depth of her expression was hidden by her mask, the bunching of her brows or the welling of tears in her eyes as she thought of her empty womb. “You found me… I suppose it’s only a matter of time, which only makes the rest of what I have to say that much more important. I am here to meet with someone -- someone who is going to help me with what I want. I want to finish what I started, what I started with you back when you were parading me around to the leaders of Terrenus. I pledged aid to Yh’mi, and I would like to keep that pledge. But I have no crown, no throne -- no country, no fortune, no power. I only have this,” she lifted her hands, shrugged her shoulders, and motioned to herself, “-- I only have this one, short human life now. It will have to be enough, I suppose -- until it’s not.” Half truth...
  17. I need you to be there when you say you're gonna be I care too much and you care enough to leave I want some place to rest my head without worrying It's not fair, it's not fair, it's not fair, it's not fair It's not fair to me, 'cause I know by now You're only gonna let me down When it counts, you countdown You're only gonna turn me out As I burn, you burn out
  18. Those two great beasts, bound to her side by love and loyal to her whims through curiosity perhaps -- they did not so much as move a muscle in all the length of her outburst, not a pointed ear shifted, not nostril flared, nothing to give away that they were concerned. The two monstrous creatures merely sat at the foot of her favorite chair and watched with alarmingly intelligent eyes as their mistress fell apart. But at the sound of metal scraping metal, and when it was plainly clear that Gabriela’s fit had become a thing of spectacle rather than personal catharsis, both creatures sprang up. They did not snarl, howl, snap, or growl at the intruder, but their massive weight combined thundered across the floor, though their padded feet were wide and graceful, as they all but galloped to intercede the path of the intruder before he reached his intended mark. At the foot of the stairs they would meet him, two hounds that would have put to shame the famous dire wolves of old. Each stood standing at over 3 feet tall at the shoulders, with absolutely massive, but regal square-shaped heads that were turned in his direction, and pointed ears that stood upright upon their heads like the laurels of Roman generals -- and eyes, that were visible only due to the sliver of light cutting across the rounded edge of them. These beasts did not make a sound, but both had pulled back their flews over their upper jaw line, and exposing sharpened incisors and saliva-dripping canines, capable of rendering flesh from bone. He’d never have a chance to dip his toes in wine. He wouldn’t have a chance to pick up the bottle and sample the poison she was slowly killing herself with. And he would most certainly never have the opportunity to begin one of those games they were so accustomed to playing. Those elegant, but hideously powerful breasts, with their bone-breaking jaws, drew closer to the bare-foot king, just as their bodies grew more and more tense. The bloodlust was nearly palpable -- they were hunters after all. “Clovis...Jager?” Away from the cityscape and the gentle illumination that it offered, Gabriela turned inward toward the looming entrails of her private suite. It felt just like the inside of some awful creature, with the windows at her back the translucent rows of teeth that had opened and shut to capture her and swallow her whole. Trapped. She felt trapped. A flash across the sky and a clap of distant thunder revealed the shape of a man at the foot of the stairs, and her two loyal hounds cornering him there, though she had to wonder if it was by fear or amusement that he remained standing so very still. And although she had not heard his arrival, or noticed his approach, there was no doubt about who this he was. His smell did not reach her or overwhelm her senses as it did once upon a time, not because it was any less potent or meaningful in its own way, but simply because her olfactory capabilities were pathetically muted, as was every other one of her senses. Even now, what she saw was an outline, a dark form with no details, and where shadows would have aided her not so long ago, now they did nothing but misinterpret the reality of his features, blurring his face until she was forced to look away. Questions flooded her mind, and rightly so -- but in the end what did it matter how he had found her? What did it matter that he was here and not off, on some wild adventure as had been whispered for weeks now, thus embolding her to come here, to the seat of his power for a meeting that could have happened anywhere else. Those questions didn’t matter because she had never intended to hide from him -- rather, she had simply never intended to cross paths with him again, and she could have been certain that the feeling was mutual. Out of the puddle wine she moved, with dainty and measured steps while carrying the skirts of her gown, as if she were afraid she might slip and fall -- and she well could have, with how drunk she was. There was no rhyme or reason to this moment, to his presence here and now. Perhaps, it was anger over her sudden appearance in Patia, which would make some semblance of sense. Perhaps it was the fact that she was unwelcome? Had he come to personally kick her to get out? Or was it more malicious... Had she become some freakish spectacle to come observe, and gape at -- and was he here for the show? That did not seem too far from the realm of possibility if one could grow to sufficiently hate the very thing that one used to love. And, as she considered all of these possibilities, not one of these offensive prospects seemed to hurt her. They had always been monsterous to each other. It wasn’t until she was close enough to twist the small knob on a floor lamp and flood the room with light -- it wasn’t until she saw him flinch at the sudden illumination, his hard but handsome face twisting up for just an instant that she considered that maybe it wasn’t the abundance of hate but lack of it that maybe it was love that brought him here -- that she felt anything at all. And what she felt at the prospect of him possibly loving her still or perhaps anew was panic. “Clovis, Jager… come.” Gone was the question from her voice, and in its place was a quiet firmness that both dogs immediately recognized and dared not ignore. They whined, and whimpered as they lowered their ears and dropped their heads. Both turned, still complaining as they did so, but it seemed that the moment that their eyes fell upon their mistress all that was wrong in the world was forgotten. Thick, black tails were wagging lazily from side to side as the enormous dogs bound toward the masked woman, circling around her a few times, no better than puppies, before one settled sitting besides her and the other flopped onto his belly and then his side, opposite to his brother. Their black eyes fixed on the bare-foot man, watching intently as he either approached or drew away, into some corner of the room. They were close now -- close enough to examine one another. She knew that he didn’t need proximity to know the changes that had befallen her. If he was looking directly at her, then it was already too late to try and pretend that this was anything other than what it was. The mask, however, had never been intended for him, so she didn’t even think of removing it now. It was almost as if she had forgotten about it completely, even as she stood there with half of her face hidden away by delicate, black lace. And he was different as well, though she dared not trust her new human eyes -- did he appear older or younger? Were parts of him missing? From her previous life, she recalled a more haunted face, more sunken eyes, crimson in color. Was that a reliable memory… Gabriela took a deep breath, and finally that subtle smell of spice and smoke came. It was light, almost like something carried in the breeze from a very distant place -- and suddenly, just like that, she was much more aware of the space between them, and of now much richer that smell must be if her nose was buried in his hair, and her lips were pressed to his neck. The distance between them, now more than ever, felt like it was worlds apart. She released that deep breath in a slow sigh, and lamented once more her lost wine because all of this would have been easier if only she was a little more drunk. “I didn’t think I was going to see you again,” she said. Looking at Roen was hard, even if he wasn’t Roen anymore -- even if he too was pretending to be someone else. In the end, there was too much of Philippe there, and that alone filled her with love but also sadness. There was no one in all the world who could know the pain of losing that boy except for this man. They were the only two people who understood. They alone, and no one else. But even this bittersweet reminder couldn’t be allowed to become a distraction, or worse yet, a deterrent. It was because she loved Philippe so very much that she could not allow his father to stop her from pursuing justice, even if… for the briefest of moments... looking into Roen’s green eyes, she saw her baby boy’s green eyes. She couldn’t bear the sight of him any longer. Her skirts dropped and she turned and walked away. Clovis and Jager followed, one dragging himself off the floor and the other merely trotting behind her from the sitting position he had never abandoned. They sensed the shift in her emotions, and walked on either side of her looking up from time to time with empathetic whimpers and yelps, before she stopped, at long last, before a drink cart. If his senses were still sharp, he’d note that she was pouring herself a glass -- yes a glass -- of vodka, a glass which she then walked over to her untouched dinner. She salvaged a glass of orange juice, and poured it into her nearly full glass of vodka, and with a spoon she found on the table, stirred the concoction. “Being intoxicated,” she said, by way of explanation as she held up her glass -- a pretty, pale shade of orange, “is the closest thing to being cold -- cold like I used to be. And it makes everything easier. I’ve come to discover that I am a very high functioning alcoholic.” She shrugged her small shoulders, looking at the cold steak on her plate, the filmy vegetables, and the lumpy potatoes. It had all looked very good when they first brought it in, and she had told herself she would eat -- even if she had to force herself. It all seemed laughable now as she began to drink the contents of her glass. By the time she set the glass down, more than half the liquid was gone, and she was standing there, both her dogs looking at her anxiously. “Oh, sweet boys… don’t worry. I am alright. Don’t look at me like that.” Unable to bear the weight of their stares, Gabriela cuts the cold steak in two and offers a half to each of her dogs. Without complaint, the pair of Great Danes take the meat and wander off to devour their treat, but never too far, and never without taking a weary eye off Roen. Gabriela, who stands there with her back to the bare-foot king, watches after her dogs. “I won’t be here for long -- a week at most. I can leave sooner if my presence is problematic.” She kept her back to him. She didn’t know what else to say -- she hadn’t come prepared to speak to the father of her dead child.
  19. “You assume commodity without inspection; I was here first, drinking and watching a fellow lad from the Ouread hopefully butcher an heiress… or at least put up a good fight. He is an Uskglass, after all.” Saul’s laughter rang like a sharp insult in Gabriela’s mind, though she did not react to it. It was that sort of hard laugh, with a sharp edge to it, that denoted a lot more than just mere insult had been taken to Duncan’s previous comment. It was an irrational thing to be upset about. There was no reason for a complete stranger to find any sort of interest in her, least of all enough to find himself moved into close proximity with her. The truth of the matter was that he was here to watch the match, same as everywhere else, and Duncan had assumed much with his words, which perhaps had been meant to flatter her, but had only resulted in causing her a touch of embarrassment. A blush colored her cheeks, but she brushed it off with a smile and a tilt of her head. When Saul shifted his gaze to regard Gabriela once more, he would find that her golden gaze was no longer focused on him, and would be hard pressed to find its way back to his hardened features -- handsome as they were. But regardless of her lack of eye-contact, Gabriela certainly took into account what he said, and made special note of the interesting tidbits. Ouread. Uskglass. “Arthur; Ouread blades do not falter very often… Caecelia talks too much to think her actions through; she will succumb to a graceful butchering if she is not careful.” With the High Lord’s arm still draped around her like a thick necklace of power and strength, Gabriela adjusted in her seat, her eyes upon the screen. A gleam of radiant gold shifted across her gaze, perhaps a remnant of her previous life, brought to life by her proximity to Ryzerus, to a source of power straight from Genesarus, and in turn, a call to what remained in her own blood of La’Ruta. There was a slick sense of satisfaction in her at Saul’s words, a warmth in her belly that followed after she took a drink of coffee, newly heated by Xartia’s surprising abilities. “Yes, yes she does…” Gabriela said softly, mostly to herself, speaking about the night before and hardly about the current fight taking place. Her narrowed gaze was so sharply set upon the woman above on the screen who danced with a rapier and a slender dagger, “...and yes, yes she will.” “I’d put my money on Arthur, wait, what do you mean by your champion?” Xartia was looking at her as if he were putting the pieces of a puzzle together, and she couldn’t help but smile at him, still holding her nice, hot cup of coffee close to her chest. She wanted to ask what he was thinking -- or rather, what he was imagining. Watching as the light of realization began to shine across his eyes, but without clarity. In a way, she wondered at the cruelty of wearing the very same face as the woman she used to be, while having changed the very foundation of her being, the blood that ran through her veins. Think what he will, Xartia could not change or justify the fact that she was not a vampyre, and there was no magic in Valucre that could change a vampyre into a human, such a change couldn’t even be conceived considering the fact that vampyres were never humans to begin with. This was common knowledge now, thanks to Raphael’s efforts to bring the Orisian Vampyre into the fold of Valucrian society. But that still left her wondering what sort of things Xartia was conjuring in his mind. Did he think of her as a witch? A monster? Some other kind of manipulative horror… Her smile slowly melted off. “Good choice,” interrupted Saul before Gabriela could reply to Xartia. “Who does your support lie with in the match?” he then asked Duncan, who had by this point untangled himself from Gabriela, to stand up straight and bow in greeting to the men he had sought to insult just moments before. She should have felt anxiety, but her heart was calm. Ryzerus was capable of destroying everything she was just now starting to work towards, but somehow she knew he wouldn’t. It wasn’t a certainty, or something as silly as assuming she knew or understood his reasoning -- he was after all a High Lord. It was a feeling. She felt, when they regarded each other, that they shared something now. A deep and ugly hatred of everything. “Your friends, are they, Isabella? I apologize then. Xartia, is it? An honor to be sure. And to whom do I have the pleasure of addressing...To be honest, I know neither combatant. I came to watch a dance and it matters not to me who has the finer moves. I watch merely to observe the styles of swordsmanship of lands I know little about. Call it research, if you would. However, seeing as he is my love’s champion, I will support Arthur.” “Well, now Caecilia is the underdog, and everyone likes a good underdog story…” she said aloud to the men. It seemed that all four of them had shifted their attention back to the screen. They were watching carefully as the dance reached a pinnacle point of proximity and quick retreat. The thought of Caecilia being butched had been a pleasing one to Gabriela, but not here, and not at the hands of Arthur. Somehow, the notoriety of dying in public seemed like too good of a gift for the heiress, who seemed rather desperate for a platform from which to amass a following. “Oh, thank you for the coffee,” she said offhandedly to Xartia, while lifting her cup -- steam still rising steadily from the top. She saw the way his eyes went up and down her body, searching out the secrets of her very soul it seemed, but finding nothing. “By the way, have you given any more thought to my inquiry? A fortune, a small one to borrow until I can get my finances in order. Perhaps even your continued company. I’ll need someone to keep my coffee warm as I make my way across Terrenus…” she smiled again, warmer, softer -- nearly a grin as she teased him.
  20. You were sharp as a knife to get me You were a wolf in the night to fetch me, back The wishes I've made are too vicious to tell Everyone knows I am going to hell And if it's true, I'll go there with you
  21. Only you can be the aching in my heart My enemy, the only animal I couldn't fight You hold me in the dark when storms arrive, Only You
  22. Although she lived in the body of a child -- originally no more than three years old, and now, by the grace of Gabriela’s pleading, a seven year old, but after a total of three hundred and twenty five years of existence -- her mind had retained the knowledge and the wisdom attained during her multiple lifetimes. The choice that was being given was full of peril, and the choice to remain the same, unchanged, came with its own set of consequences. As she was, she knew that she was monstrous and frightening, even to vampyres, who were themselves the most monstrous creatures alive with all of their beauty and hunger. But there was nothing more tragic, nothing more pathetic, and nothing more disturbing than an eternal child with the hunger and failings of a child. And although she should have known better, she often gave in to sentiments of the creature she saw reflected in mirrors -- a child. She continued to cause her own misfortune by playing the part, but what else could she do? Psychologically and emotionally speaking, regardless of her intelligence, she was stunted. It was a slow and awful torture to be stuck in this shape for all of eternity, even as her mind matured. She took on the persona of her form and not of her mind. But she understood what Raphael was offering, and although the urge to sink deep into the safety of her babish-antics was almost irresistible, she also felt the severity of the stakes at hand. This was no time to lose sight of what was truly important -- her father’s love, and the opportunity to escape the curse of her mother’s appearance and Tenebre’s cruelty. “...'Turn clay to flesh, shadow and void into blood and muscle and sinew'…” She echoed the words, speaking them softly as if they were an incantation. “You’ll make me a new, in your own image -- and I will be blood of your blood, and flesh of your flesh -- but also hers, so that I am like your child, the child you should have had. But can you do it without changing me? Without losing me? Father, I do not know if I truly live, I have no soul, I know this. I do not know what value my life has because I have no soul. What happens to me when my life is extinguished? I fear death. I don’t want to die. I don’t want to cease existing…” The child was held up, carried against his hip as they walked together in the gardens. Her arms were once again loose around his neck, but this time her head rested on his shoulder in repose. He’d wiped the tears from her eyes after her previous breakdown, when the mere thought of growing up to look like Gabriela had shaken her so badly her reaction had been to nearly throw a tantrum. But now her emotions seemed more genuine, perhaps more heartfelt, as she spoke about death and perhaps her one true fear. The small child sniffled and closed her eyes as the inevitable tears broke past her lashes and onto his coat. She did not make a spectacle of herself weeping, but instead cried quietly there against her father’s shoulder. “I want to say yes, but I am afraid… I am afraid of being lost in the change, I am afraid of closing my eyes and never opening them again. What is a soul? What divine spark was breathed into the clay and darkness that formed my body, which then animated it to life… and what if it is lost? I was never meant to exist, and yet I do… My existence is so little, meaningless really, but I am grateful for it father, grateful to have found you, grateful to bask in love and meaning at long last. This existence is small, but it is mine. What if I lose everything by seeking more?” Her small, pale fingers were gripping at the collar of his coat, twisting it around and around in a way that small children do when they are anxious. She was glad for his kindness -- for the squeeze he gave her when she confessed her doubt and fear, and for the inevitable kisses that followed the sound of her soft sobs. “I want to live, I want to grow, I want to be real -- but I don’t want to die, father, I don’t want to die.”
  23. I can be your reckless You can be my stake I can be your heartache You can be my shame When you're feeling reckless When you're feeling chained When there's nothing left but pain Welcome to my dark side Welcome to my dark side Welcome to my dark side Welcome to my dark side
  24. Lord knows that this world is cruel And I ain't the Lord, no -- I'm just a fool And a loving somebody don't make them love you Must I always be waiting, waiting on you? Must I always be playing, playing your fool?
  25. Guess it's true I'm not good at a one night stand But I still need love 'cause I'm just a man These nights never seem to go to plan I don't want you to leave Will you hold my hand Oh, won't you stay with me? 'Cause you're all I need This ain't love, it's clear to see But darling, stay with me Why am I so emotional? No, it's not a good look, gain some self control Deep down I know this never works But you could lay with me So it doesn't hurt Oh, won't you stay with me? 'Cause you're all I need This ain't love, it's clear to see But darling, stay with me
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