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Roen

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Roen last won the day on November 28 2016

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About Roen

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    The Devil

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  1. And though he takes her love in vain Still she could not stop, couldn't break his chains She danced the night that they fell out She swore she'd dance no more But then she did, he did not quit as she ran out the door She danced through the night in fear of her life She danced to a beat of her own She let out a cry and swallowed her pride She knew she was needed back home, home She's a slave to the rhythm
  2. I'll soon be done with my earthly trials; My body will sleep in the old church yard. I'll drop this cross of self-denial, And I'll go a-singing home to God. I'm going there to live forever, And there I'll sing redemption's song. I'm only going over Jordan; Oh, I'm just going over home.
  3. “...I thought they were supposed to change if they were killed by one of them?” “Most do.” Roen said, after a time. They were walking down a long, wide passage. Marlboro Keep, once a fortification for the Terran military before it fell to the Outsider’s ruinous touch, was a spacious affair of wide avenues and opulent courtyards, courtesy of the Gaianists that patrolled its halls. They were movers of earth, and they had shaped this place to match their grand, lofty view of the world. Tonight, only ghosts and monsters called these pathways home. Lightning flashed and the wind blew through a shattered window beside them, spattering Roen in rain and harmless splinters of broken glass, striking his armour like so many tiny hailstones. He didn’t seem moved. “Some do not.” Glancing over the rim of his shoulderguard, the Outsider leveled the weight of his scrutiny on Irene. After a moment’s consideration, he decided not to insult her intelligence and explain the phenomenon as he understood it. Looking away, he faced down their path and spoke to her as he might a peer or contemporary, or someone he respected enough to treat with candor. “They will not convert a host body if it is genetically predisposed towards sickness. Cancer, diabetes, neurological disorders..,” he trailed off. Slowing to a halt, he reached out an arm to stay Gabriela’s advance. The corridor was dark, as black as velvet and just as suffocating, but his sight pierced the night with preternatural acuity, and what he saw gave him pause. It was just a shadow against the pitch, but it was unmistakable: a grotesquerie, bounding from one end of a junctionway to another. He frowned, turning and looking at Gabriela and beyond her, down the path they had taken. There were two more scuttling down the corridor towards them, the sound of the rain, thunder and the grinding purrs of his armour all but masking the steady thunk-thunk-thuds of their hands and feet slapping against rotted carpet and greasy stone. He did not let his face betray the sudden flush of adrenaline that coursed through his veins on tides boiling blood. The abominations were laying a trap for them. Wrapping his hand tighter around the lathed hilt of World Splitter, Roen led Gabriela back from whence they came. “Shouldn’t we at least have...someone with us? You’re the one who told me -- royalty never walks alone. I can’t see an instance when that statement should be more true. We shouldn’t be here alone.” “You are the only royal here, Irene Gabriela.” Roen replied, his words somber in spite of his rising temper. He stoked it as one might would a fire, breathing new life into his dormant aggression. Vengeance. Victory, no matter the cost. Hatred. Vindicta. There were many words for the sentiment, but none encapsulated it quite so much as the spirit of vindicta. He had found it somewhere, sometime between the death of his son and the reunion with the child’s mother. Rage like that left a taste in the back of his throat not so different from fear. Guiding beloved along, the Outsider found a door along the wide corridor and took it, putting them into a narrower hall that led deeper into the keep proper. Darkness enfolded them like the blanket of death, until the Outsider flexed his will and spoke a word of power. With a sputter and a brush of warm wind against their faces, a pair of Will O’Wisps flickered into being above their heads. Incongruous of the perilous situation they were summoned into, the pair laughed quietly together in little peals of tinkling mirth as they bathed the corridor in their guiding light, circling above Roen and Gabriela. Incapable of speech and possessed of only the vaguest intelligence, they obeyed the will of their master insomuch as they could, and illuminated their immediate surroundings. “But we aren’t not alone.” He told her, though whether he was commenting on her earlier statement or something altogether more sinister remained in doubt, until he glanced at her. Just a brief look, one of concern and dare say even love, before he put himself between her and the doorway they came through. Calm, so perilously, dangerously calm, he spoke to Gabriela through the horror of the night. “We have eachother.” He said, his boots scraping along the ground as he took a position in guard: right foot leading, left foot back. He took World Splitter in two hands now. The blade shivered. With a hoot and a chitter, the first of the abominations burst through the door so hard it broke from its hinges. The heavy wooden door hadn’t finished clattering across the floor before the monstrosity, some God-awful amalgamation of a man and woman conjoined at the hip, pounded across it in ghastly pursuit of Roen and Gabriela. He didn’t need to tell Gabriela to stay behind him. Holding his ground, holding Hræðilegr steady, the Outsider met the charge with an upraised blade and caught several blades of descending bone on the flat of the weapon. The whole of him, from root to hand, seemed implacable and unmoving; his arms didn’t bow, his torso didn’t shift, his feet did not slide. He halted the monster as redoubtable as a stonewall, and then he pushed the beast back. The monstrosity stumbled one step, then another, and Roen followed it with a pivot of hands and wrists that cut the Grotesquerie from shoulder to hip with a clean stroke of smokey-gray steel. Blood spurted against the wall while the thing shrieked, three more coming through the broken doorway after their murderous kin. There was no display of blinding alacrity, no gesture so swift nor footwork so fast it could not be countenanced or espied. Hræðilegr moved deftly in the well-practiced hands of a warlord, flicking in tight fields of severing that came his considerate, measured stride. The first Grotesqueire, no more than a steaming pile of meat hacked to bloody pieces at the Outsider’s armoured boots, was dead when Roen stepped over it. The second and third followed suite, bisected and truncated respectively, while the last broke and fled from the hall with slapping limbs and long, whinnying hoots that echoed into the corridor and keep beyond. Roen caught it with a telekine grip, and keeping himself juxtaposed between its writhing mass and the Gabriela’s sight, squeezed it with an outstretched hand. It compressed so sharply and so completely the wretched thing burst, coming apart at the seams to spill offal and messy detritus across the floor. Not a splatter of blood touched the Outsider, though. Not a speck marred his armour or the queen behind him, so neat was his bladework. Hræðilegr was drenched, however. Exhaling a slow, easing breath and turning, Roen rolled his wrist and flourished the blade sharply, spattering the corridor wall beside them with a flick of dark coagulated blood, then wiped the rest of the blade down on the sodden cloth of his heavy cape. The Will O’Wisps circled above them still, seemingly delighted by the bloodshed if not the consummate skill of a martial fiend. “We are all that need to be here.” He said to Gabrila, nonplussed by the steaming piles of meat laid before and behind them. He turned to her, imperiously lit by the warm glow of the Wisps above them. The fiend looked almost hawkish, with his hair pulled back and plastered to his scalp. Hawkish, brutish, even almost feral with the slow, steady throb of light behind his eyes. It was there, that preternatural glow, like embers lit in his skull behind his dark gaze. They burned with a slow, noxious pulse, like fires being blown on every so often, flaring with his moods and tempers. His blood was up, his ire a drum in his chest, being pounded again and again. He wanted more. He needed more. But the battle lust did not master him, and it showed in his baring. He was Lord here, in spite of all. “We will burn this ruin out of infestation,” he told her, passion giving color to his words. He let his cape fall and the tip of his sword drop, reaching out for Gabriela’s wet cheek. He brushed her smooth, supple skin on the cold surface of one metal-wrapped digit. “Don’t be afraid.” He said. The Ruins of Marlboro Keep echoed with the howls of monsters.
  4. Tink. Tink-tink-tink. Tink-tink. The rain pattered against the Outsider's warplate, chiming musically as it rang off the dark and polished metal. Kneeling beside a skeleton, or at least the scattered remains of one, he called back to the dry alcove he left his companion under. "It's fairly recent." He said, casting a quick glance in her direction before looking back at the bones. The rain was beating on him, a torrential downpour that buffeted in from above through the broken panes of the domed glass ceiling. Combing hair back, he studied the bones for several long, quiet minutes before he stood to his full stature in a rhythmic purr of well-maintained servos and fiber bundles. He had taken to his armour again, the dreadful fiend, and seemed less and less inclined to remove it as the weeks turned to months. An avatar of war he seemed, walking back to his companion's side beneath the archway with a horrid piece of evidence in hand. Lifting it up in a gauntlet for her scrutiny, the Outsider revealed a yellowed cracked skull, stringy with decomposed flesh and cartilage. Its mandible long since gone, he turned it over in his hands to indicate where he assumed the deathblow had been. "Look." He said, indicating indentations along the sides of the skull, where the thickest of the bone had ruptured. He fingered the edges, the metal of his gauntlet scraping. "Teeth marks. They're definitely here." They. Them. They had talked about them on the journey here from Biazo Island, after finding nothing but ghosts and hearsay in those desolate wastes. She had told him of her dreams beneath the duress of his torments, and with her dreams also the knowledge of the one who sent them. His curiosity piqued, he had done his own research and had come to an ambitious conclusion. They had departed Biazo and laid course for Terran mainland, or more specifically, the Ruins of Marlboro Keep. And he told her his plans, and what they would require. Known officially as Grotesqueries in the annals of Terran history, there existed a species or aberration of monster that haunted the lands this side of the Day River. Wretched things of undeath, they roamed the land in chittering packs to descend upon the unwary and foolish, and with most of their gruesome kills, added more bodies to their unseemly ranks. They were emotionless monsters, devoid of sense or reason, and they were to be destroyed on sight and their remains put to the flame. And they were the Outsider's own unwitting creation. Ten years ago, before the advent of wisdom and a broader control of the sorceries he employed, Roen had conjured the first of these abominations in far away Patia, and through his negligence, allowed them to flee into the wilds beyond his domain. He had never confessed this to anyone before, but made Irene Gabriela Du'Grace privy to that secret. Exhaling through his nose a superfluous sigh of satisfaction tinged with regret, the Outsider cast the skull in his hand aside where it struck the floor with a dull thud and rolled beneath a cracked and overturned table. Negligence, yes, it and inactivity marked the greater part of Roen's tenure on Valucre, and it showed more clearly here than anywhere on this world. Marlboro Keep, once a proud outpost of his fledgling empire, had been abandoned in his pursuit of other, baser desires. The knights stationed here, brave men and women all, had either deserted or been killed by the Terran empire, who he wasn't sure if he was even at war with anymore. Though truth be told, he suspected they had been attacked and overrun by Grotesqueries. Though it was too dark for Gabriela to see, human as she was, he had spotted the remains of armour in distant rooms, where doors had been smashed and torn asunder. Pitted, cracked plates of gear he recognized. There were streaks of blood in the halls, signs of pitched fighting and withdrawals. It was all too easy to piece it together. He had abandoned this place, and it had died without his guiding hand. It had died because of him in more ways than could ever be reconciled for. The thought of it made him turn his head away from Gabriela, his stern face going taut in a rictus of brief anger and grief and not a little self-loathing. Though he was a hard man and greater monster, he valued the lives of those he groomed and selected to stand by his side, and while he might not have ever expressed it, he lamented their fates and tormented himself for the part he played. But before he would let his melancholy drag him back to those depths of inactivity, he set that grief aside and steeled himself, whispering a cautionary reminder under his breath that he had come here with purpose. Extending a hand and flexing his will, the Outsider summoned Hræðilegr into his waiting fist. Immediately, the wicked blade lit up with lambent psyk-light, the runes along its flats coming to life with burning light that soon grew incandescent, then dimmed. Humming, the blade snag quietly as it cut the air, its length vibrating with an almost musical peal. He looked at Gabriela, his generous mouth pulled into a frown. "Stay close." He said. "And keep your eyes open. They'll be coming for us 'ere long." And they would be, yes. The ruins of the keep, quiet save for the echo of thunder the came from above, seemed to stir at the immediate onset of the Outsider's blade summoning. In truth, he was provoking the current occupants of the once proud citadel. With a flex of his will, he had all but announced the presence of life to them, and soon those monstrosities, whatever their number, would snuff and chase the light of his mind. No matter that he was their creator, no matter it was by his magic they had found life: they saw and knew him only as prey, and within the bowels and ruins of this castle, things of infinite predation and unreasonable hunger began to rouse from their fitful slumbers, tasting life in the air. That he should have left Gabriela behind on the Everlinde as it patrolled the sky above was a truth he was not blind to, but he had brought her here tonight to witness this turgid start, this dreadful endeavor. She was beloved and his companion besides, and he felt she must be inured to these horrors and violent delights. She was in peril, of course - there were few places more terrifying and dangerous than the haunt of Grotesqueries - but so long as she stood beside him, so long as he kept her shackled to him, she would ever be imperiled. Either here or aboard the Everlinde, Gabriela was unsafe, and so he felt it best to keep her with him at all times, where he could protect her best. She needed no weapon and possessed no armour. He was her shield in the dark and the sword at her side. A dark knight indeed, he drew her deeper into the ruined keep, where fractured moonlight and lightning lit their path, and waited for horror to find them both.
  5. He had trailed off, his gaze on their immediate surroundings outside the carriage window. Like she, he possessed a degree of wonder for this faen realm, and like she, not all his interactions had been pleasant. The faen courts were mercurial to the point of seeming madness, and even his intellect oft had troubles navigating the complexity of their intrigues and mysteries. In the vagaries of mortal nomenclature, he was a devil, a ruling noble of the depths of Perdition. But that was just poetry, a sentient facade fixed over a concept that defied explanation for the purpose of easier understanding. The truth of the matter was far more sinister and infinitely more profound - much like the fae themselves. He was considering his place here, the actions he might take and how wary he should be when Gabriela, unsatisfied with lame warning, drew his attention to her. ”And… what?” She asked, peering up at him with large, seemingly innocent eyes. That he was ‘other’ and an Outsider seemed irrelevant, now. He looked at her, really looked at her, and the tension he had not known he had been holding all but bled from him beneath the scrutiny of her gaze. Not for the first time, Roen thought of the anchor this girl - this woman - was to him. More poetry, he thought with a wry mental cant, but she was that rock, that anchor of belonging that drew him not just to these lands, but the world. It wasn’t just her beauty, though she was certainly the most beautiful thing he ever had the pleasure of laying eyes upon, nor was it appeal, though their close proximity did dangerous things to his most base of desires. No, it was the flicker of soul he saw behind her eyes; it was her intellect, and her heart. She asked a ‘what’ of him, and he thought to maybe speak his mind. And you’re lovely. Something small and romantic whispered. And I love you. And I’m glad you came, despite not wanting to. And that the feel of you against me is more sublime a sensation than I ever felt before or will feel again. And if we spent hours more together in this carriage, just speaking of the wonders outside, it would not be a wasted time. I could just stay here forever and listen to you. Just being here.. “Nevermind.” Roen said, low and stern. She was a worrisome child, sometimes. Fretful, nervous, perilously close to suspicion and paranoia. He smoothed his hands along her hip and up the length of her spine, pressing soothing pressure into the smooth, delicate skin beneath the fabric of her dress. His hands, rough with the calluses of labour and war, were nonetheless gentle in their ministration. He rubbed her, massaging her, sought to console and please her, and tilted his head down to favor her forehead with a strange, particularly affectionate kiss. “Just be mindful.” He stressed, drawing back to look her in the eye again. A healthy amount of skepticism was a healthy thing to possess, but while he was by her side, he did not want her to worry unduly. Though he wouldn’t say as much, he valued her enjoyment here more than his own. “There’ll be temptation here.” He mused, still rubbing gentle massages into her back, between her shoulderblades, her waist and hips. “Like devils,” and now there was a sort of teasing quality to his voice, “the fae will seek to draw you into their world. Their scent, their taste, the very sight of them..,” he trailed off. He could have made himself beautiful to look upon, the devil. He could have appeared before all as fair as any had ever seen before. Indeed, he could make the whole of himself as irresistible a thing as any, such was his power. But he had chosen this face, had chosen this voice and this body and this scent. He had chosen the facade of a dead man, the one he had been before damnation, and he wondered sometimes if that was any wise choice at all. He wondered, too, how Gabriela found the face of a murderer attractive at all. Roen squeezed her closer briefly, lovingly. Such was the affection of a horrid monster. “They’re not evil or malign, just mischievous. I would say they’re like children, but that wouldn’t be fair. Their wisdom comes from a perspective neither you nor I can fathom.” He paused, considering how best to describe them, as best to arm his beloved against their enchanting ways. “They value humour more than practicality..,” he hedged, a note of uncertainty entering his voice. He was struggling, the Outsider. Then he sighed and shook his head, as if to intimate he was giving up trying altogether. “We’re not here to really involve ourselves with them.” He admitted, as if that might make things easier. “Just stay close, and if one of them tries to lure you into a bush, don’t follow him.” He eyed her, his brows furrowing though his generous mouth quirking at the innuendo. “I’m kidding.” He said, trying - and perhaps failing - to inject humour. He never had a good sense for comedy, this one. As if to save him from embarrassment, the carriage into a stop, the wood creaking and jostling before settling at station. The carriage door open, and the man who was not a man gestured for them to exit. Gently easing Gabriela off of his lap, Roen went before her and, after she gathered herself, extended his hand to help her out of the carriage. Yet when she settled her heels on the grass, he did not let her go. Rather, he encouraged her to loop her arm through his, both for intimacy and balance, and tilted his head to indicate the hut they had stopped before. “We’re here.” He said to wary beloved, as the man lead them forward, opening the door for both mortal and devil. Ducking his head beneath the threshold, his shoes and Gabriela’s heels clicking on worn, polished wooden floors, Roen greets the large anthropomorphic fox with nary a batted lash, such was his accustom to such things, and then looked around. It was a shop of sorts, he gathered, judging by how things were stacked and put on display. And most, if not all were magical in nature. He saw candles, herbs, crystals and bones. Magical reagents all, some more sinister than others, though none so overt as to offend his delicate sensibilities about the esoteric and the profane. It was a modest shop, and he breathed in the smooth, acrid aroma of burning incense. It reminded him of younger, better days, when he had once been as mortal as the beauty who stood beside him. Leaning in to whisper in Gabriela’s ear, Roen urged her forward. “Come.” He took her to the table where two chairs sat opposite, and after releasing Gabriela’s arm, pulled one out for her to sit him. The gentleman sage indeed, he knew his manners, this dark and savage man, and he pushed the chair in once she settled her bottom into it. Sitting beside Gabriela, Roen leaned forward and greeted the fortune teller more solemnly. “Well met.” He said, low and smooth and quite simply. Diplomatic, a trait he had acquired from acute observation of the Orisian Queen, seemed to be his avenue of conversation. “I am Roen, of the Iron City of Dis, and this is Irene Gabriela Du’Grace, Atitlan nobility and Queen of Orisia. We’ve come to ask for our fortunes to be read.” And he smiled at this, wry and pleased as he sat back and looked at Gabriela, as if he had again spoken a jaunty little joke. In point of fact, the Outsider seemed rather pleased with himself, all things considered. Crossing one leg over the other and folding his hands across his lap, he nodded his head towards the large fox, indicating Gabriela may say something to the anthropomorphic creature, if she so chose. Then, remembering, he looked back at the creature. “In return,” he demurred, unclasping his hands and raising one. He showed his palm, then the back of his hand and his palm again, before performing a slight-of-hand trick and revealing a sapphire the size of a child’s fist, taken from the Black City’s treasury. “I offer this, a humble gift for our beautiful host.”
  6. Shot you a PM. Hope things are well on your end. 

    1. supernal

      supernal

      They are, thanks. I hope the same on yours. There's a lot going on all over the place

  7. Roen

    The Rogue's Gallery v.2.5

    Terran Grotesquerie.
  8. Though the world beyond was a vista of sublime enchantment, the Outsider had eyes only for the shape of beloved. As she turned away from his soft exhalations and beguiling words, Roen lowered his gaze and followed the shape of her jaw and down, down the slender column of her shapely neck and hummed out another one of his breathy sighs, though this one was far softer and far, far more meaningful. He wanted her. And while there was desire in that sigh and in the pointed gaze he kept hidden so long as she did not look his way, it was not the sole motivator. He looked at her with the unequivocal and obsessive gaze of a murderer, as if she were a delight to be stalked, poached and ultimately consumed. His was a vicious sort of yearning, a need beyond the pale of Man’s understanding, be they fae, vampyre or abhuman. Roen found himself leaning in, his generous mouth quirking, his lips parting and his blood boiling. He wanted to bite into her, to tear her apart, to -- ”“I don’t think I’ll ever forget beauty -- not when there’s so much of it in the world. You certainly didn’t have to bring me to the other side of the world to find it.” She looked his way and the murderer was nowhere to be found on his stern, rugged face. He was the urbane scholar tonight, her gentleman sage, and he was all genuine interest and kindred delight when she laid eyes on him again. Her smile, so infectious on her pale, lovely face, softened some of his stoicism and authoritative penchant, but even so, she was never regarded as a contemporary or even a peer. She was a little girl, or so the story in his eyes told. A little girl he was grooming for his appetites and his needs, to be taught and disciplined as he saw fit, though her wisdom, indeed her experiences made her more of a woman than many. And because she was his little girl, his beautiful delight, he indulged her the way a father might a splendid child, and so returned her smile with one of his own as they shared this quiet moment of wonder together. Then she did something that quite puzzled the Outsider, a display of affection he was not at all prepared to receive, let alone expect. Without meaning to, he frowned, always incapable of masking his feelings, try as he might. He frowned, and with his frown came the sudden and sharp contraction of brows, giving him a somewhat bewildered expression that did much away with his sternness to replace it all with almost childlike charm. Affection unsought and without prompt had always had the power to disarm the devil. He didn’t know how to respond, except to color in his cheeks and glance away, abashed in mirror of Milton’s Paradise Lost and all its allegory to shamed and shameful devils. Oh, he felt how awful goodness was, and how it made his heart quicken. He didn’t want to devour her anymore, not now. All he wanted to do now was make love to her. Not like a beast or a murderer, but the way a man might, with clothes drawn delicately off and mouths made for kissing all the while. Surely their fae host would not mind if they undressed right here, right now. Surely there was enough room on the bench for passion, for something quick and expressive so that he might reward her generosity of affection with a display of his own. He might have expressed such a sentiment and made use of his hands by tugging at her dress, had she not caught one in her delicate fingers and reminded him quite innocently of where they were and what their destination was. Oh, the tragedy, Roen thought, tearing his eyes away from beauty beyond compare. He had such a wonderful idea. “Hear what?” He asks, his free hand raising to touch his cheek with the idle enchantment she placed on him. She had such a lovely mouth, his Gabriela. Plump, sweet and red without makeup, her kisses were lovely little things. He might have considered her lips further, were it not for the music. The fiend, Lord of the Black City and Duke of Perdition craned his head and closed his dark, brooding eyes, and after a moment, he smiled sadly. He glanced outside the cart where beloved had cast her eyes before, and for a moment, he thought he spied a cavalcade of horse riders in the sky and heard their ghostly clamour. But no, that wasn’t right, and he looked away before anything more resolved itself to his preternatural sight. He should focus on the music, on love and affection, and her, yes, most importantly her. “It’s beautiful.” He said, uncharacteristically succinct. The carriage came to a halt and, because her hand was still in his, the Outsider drew his princess out from the carriage with all the cordiality and charm at his disposal. And while he had heard her spoken thought aloud, he did not deign to comment on it, at least not yet. Instead, he drew her away and towards the willow, with its crack and its inviting darkness. Footfalls landing silently on the grass beneath their feet, Roen presses in close, their hips brushing together for all their proximity as he leads Gabriela forward. Even his tail, so long and sleek and shining with applied oils, seemed to take this charge seriously, encircling her beside him. Oh, he was a protective monster, her devil. Closer and closer to the willow they drew, closer and closer to the crack at the base. He felt the draw, felt it long before Gabriela ever could, like a lodensoul on their very souls. Extimate space, the clinical part of his mind breathed. Non-euclidean overlap of reality. We are the needles, the reality a fine cloth.., He stowed the esoteric education away in favor of raising his hand and covering Gabriela’s eyes, albeit kindly. He covered them as he drew nearer to her, as they drew nearer to the tree, and whispered calm between them. And as soon as he issued words to ease the moment of transition, the deed was done and the world they inhabited now was not the world they had been in before. And when he uncovered her eyes, there lay before them another carriage and another lead. But it was not the driver he was looking at, though he knew him to be of this place, but the sky beyond Gabriela and what rolled across it. The ghostly cavalcade of spectral riders, more distinct but still so very, very far away. And as Gabriela once shared her thoughts unwitting, such was her comfort with the fiend and their journey, so, too, did Roen lower his guard to speak his thoughts. “The Cŵn Annwn.” He said, his voice somewhere between uncertainty and a measure of disquiet. “Gwyn ap Nudd.” But then he realized where he was and to whom he was avowed, and before Gabriela could follow his line of sight (or so he hoped) and so witness for herself the black riders in the distance, he calmly and deftly led her forward towards the carriage. Closing the door behind them and giving the rider his consent, he did more to distract Gabriela from his worries and, in spite of whatever protests she might issue, seated her not on the bench beside him, but rather uncouthly in his lap. Adjusting her dress so that it was not unduly wrinkled or indecently hiked lest she show a scandalous amount of leg, Roen leaned back in his seat and settled Gabriela most comfortably in the bowl of his lap sideways, with her shoulder tempted to press against his chest. Like the child she was and the girl he so liked to envision, he curled an arm around her slender hips and hugged her to him, nestling her against the broad of his chest. “There, that’s better, isn’t it?” He asks, peering at her with nary a mote of shame. Swiping his thumb across her hip and humming, he glances at the window, careful not to let his eyes wander too. “We’re almost there, now.” He says, giving Gabriela an indelicate tug, forcing her bottom to squeeze indelicate into his groin. “But be careful what you say, little. This is not an evil land, but it is mischievous. They may find it most amusing to grant your request, and keep you here forever.” He chuckled darkly, half-amused with his foreboding. “Just keep your eyes open, and mind what you say. And..,” he trailed off, on the cusp of warning Gabriela to be polite with those they encountered, but he bit his tongue. She was his Gabriela, his girl and his queen, and he would not demean her charm with unnecessary warning. She was nothing if not astute and poised, which was part of why he adored her so..
  9. The seconds turned to minutes, the minutes into hours. But all was not silent and still beneath the depths of the swamp. Within the ruin of an airship and the press of his armour, the Outsider roused himself, then stirred. He had not moved from the center of the deck where he had been left, but he had not been idle. No, never idle. With the last day pulled from his mind by the cunning machinations of a mage, Roen pursued several avenues of inquiry, and through them, pieced an observable but far from whole narrative of the time he was missing. In short, he reviewed the records his armour kept, drawn from the visual and audio feeds of his helmet. And while the feeds were not active when the helmet was not locked in place, for the times that it was, the Outsider reviewed their feeds. And while he could not spare the time, patience or gumption to review a full day's worth of interment footage, he did have enough sense and compunction to start from the back and work his way back in time. From his conversation with the captain to the ship to the senseless killings in the airship's halls, all the way back to his conversation with Gabriela post-coitus, Roen observed himself in the first person performing actions and speaking words he had no recollection of doing and saying. He could not remember the last time his mind was manipulated so, but in observing the past, there were certain matters that rang a familiar tune. It was like prizing the distant memory of a long-forgotten dream, no matter how neat and orderly the vaults of his mind may be. This spoke to a degree of skill in the arcane he had not anticipated, or the repercussions of spell gone awry. He could not tell, at least not here. Here. A ruined airship sunk beneath the murky depths of a rancid swamp. How the fates contrived themselves to remind him of a past that was best left forgotten. Once upon a time, before Valucre was spun into fact and he already old, he had made haunts of places such as these, luring the superstitious and the uncanny to their untimely demises. So many pacts sworn, so many souls bartered, so many lives consumed. He considered this briefly, the life of the Dreamfather, before shying away from that primordial memory. He was so much more civilized now, so much more cultured and urbane. He could have laughed, were he in the laughing sort of mood. Instead, the Lord of the Black City frowned, recalling quite pointedly he was stranded in the middle of nowhere by an overprotective woman who -- yes, who took beloved from him. Gabriela had been here, had walked this deck with him and saw what he had seen. He could practically feel her beneath these murky depths, the shine of her mind and the thrum of her soul as familiar to him as the back of his own hand. Well, not quite. He looked at his hands beneath the depths, two shapes of black and red filtered through the lens of his visor. He curled those mighty fingers in their massive gauntlets, feeling very little of the weight of the swamp bearing down on him. The armour was a comfort, a shield against the outside world, and he appreciated the squeeze of it around him now more than he had ever before. Not that he had ever needed plate, not that it was ever required to be both terrible and mighty. He only liked the feel of it, and he enjoyed the technology of it. Old tech, or new, depending on one's point of view. He had journeyed so much, traveled so far, it could scarcely be said where the past belonged and what the future held anymore. Temporal dysmorphia, some clinical part of his whispered. He shrugged it off and, on the cusp of reaching out with his mind, decided better. Rather, he reached out and reached behind the collar of his gorget, adjusting the armour he wore while blink-clicking an emergency rune on the inside of his display. It was a transponder, automatically sending out a distress call. Another blink-click opened up a communication channel, encrypted and bolstered by psy. Under the circumstances of war and conflict, he might have used a verbal cant of his own devising, a sort of informal code known to him and his retinue, but only the Gods knew or cared he was down here in this swamp, and so he didn't bother. "I need pick up. And load the Linde for hauling, we're retrieving a scuttled ship. Put in a docking and repair order in..," he trailed off, referencing a map he pulled up on his visor. ".. Blaurg. Put it under Gideon Masters, Terran magi-tech merchant." Yes, Blaurg, or Blaireville as it was now called, had access to the Terran registry. When the Everlinde had crashed in Orisia, he had the fractured remains shipped to Hell's Gate for repair years and years ago. He was confident there was enough synergy between the two cities to share records of known proprietors and the wealthy class to make such requests go over smoothly. If not, well.. he would make due. Capital opened up many doors normally barred to a recidivsit like him, so long as he did not use his real name. On receiving confirmation, Roen set about finding a way out of the thrice-damned wreck of the airship, navigating as much with pulses of his mind as he did the sonic-pulses of his armour's radar system. In the end, he found the murky, disgusting bed of the swamp, sinking into it up to his shins before settling. There was temptation here to perform an act of incredible power, to raise both him and the airship from the swamp in a display of his grandiloquent might, but that was the savage knee-jerk reaction of the foiled and the enraged, and he abstained. Instead, he focused on himself, his means of power and a more modest use of ability, lest he need reserves for a future entanglement and conflict. It was not just the weight of him and his armour, but also the weight of the swamp baring down on him, squeezing and pushing him into the depths. He took these things into consideration, calculated and reconciled the delicate balance and ratio of power to weight, and -- rose from the depths of the swamp, as if cradled by invisible hands that plucked him from a turgid waste. Breaking the surface tension of the swamp in no particular rush or haste, the Outsider, dripping in viscous humours and degraded vegetation, floated away from the point of impact the airship had made and, after a time, was set down on firmer land. Vanity had his mind pulling at the detritus, filth and acrid water in one clean sweep that left his armour cleansed but indelibly reeking of the brackish depths he rescued himself from. And there he waited, waiting for the inevitable arrival of the Everlinde, his personal vessel. He would retrieve the fallen airship, he swore, and he would journey to Blaireville to conclude this bloody affair.
  10. Stronk. 

  11. We need have no secrets amongst us. Working together and with absolute trust, we can surely be stronger than if some of us were in the dark.

  12. Something wondrous, I hope. Roen thought. He hummed and sighed, a happy little sound of contentment that was all but incongruous to the creature that made it. He had such rage these last few years, the devil, such terror and strife within him. Vindicta, it seemed, had coursed through his veins and poisoned his heart, and even now, far from this place of eternal promise, his machinations proceeded along in stately procession to write unhappy endings for unhappy souls. To see him smile, to see him gaze happily at what lay before them, it was hard to reconcile this burgeoning delight with the hard, unyielding monster that wore the blackest of plate and wore the helmed visage of a devil crowned by horns. But he had ever kept those two aspects of himself apart, especially for Gabriela’s sake. The fury, the drive, the ambition and violence - true violence - he withheld those things from his clever little girl, his sweetest beloved. It was as if she was a sacred thing he kept locked away, safe from the predations of his erstwhile cruelty. In this regard, she really was his princess: pure, innocent, undefiled. Though to see her dressed and to see how he looked at her tonight, it could scarce be said she was any of those things when they were alone together. He looked at her now in that secret, shameful way, a brief moment of considerate wickedness that spoke volumes of intent for when they were alone together and he could have his terrible way. Yet the moment was a brief one, and his old wonder and almost childish delight returned, for truly, what they observed together was especially magical and almost certainly divine. Something of a connoisseur of stories and fairytales, he was absolutely smitten by the carriage made of flora that was to be drawn by two fantastical beasts of outrageous myth. But it was their surroundings and the driver himself that pleased the Outsider most: the carriage lead was of the fae, of the Unseelie and their dangerous realm, and while Roen had only the briefest of dealings with their precarious kind, even devils respected the power and prestige of the Courts. And while they weren’t in that realm proper, he felt the touch of it in this land. He looked at Gabriela not unkindly. They were lovers in this place, friends and companions both outside the turmoil of their tumultuous relationship. It seemed here, at the edge of the known world and looking into the precipice of fantasy, they had chosen to forget all that bit at their heels to remind them of horror. Here, he was more than the Gentleman Sage but a devil in truth, possessed of the ghastly charisma and indelible charm that lured so many into perdition. He was kind to Gabriela, gentle and nurturing, and devoted, oh so very devoted to her happiness, as any true devil would be. She was his to damn, after all, and no where was it said a fall for grace could not be a happy little thing. He was not without some degree of private reservation, though. He was delighted, yes, and full of wonder certainly, but he was still himself, and so he was protective of their persons, perhaps somewhat paranoid. This wasn’t the first time he had taken his love to an incredible summit, only to lead her into plummet that endangered her life. The fae were not necessarily dangerous, but there was mischief in them that was bound up tightly with their graciousness. But his beloved was a bolder so than he, and as the silence stretched between them and presumably grew uncomfortable, she took the lead, quite surprising her dashing devil of princely dress. He watched her move forward, fae herself in aspect, and followed, as ever was his wont to do. Roen was going to issue some sort of warning, a hint of what may lay ahead of them, but he decided against it. Too often was Gabriela made to pay heed to a cruel and uncaring world, and for once, he wanted to reward her curiosity with happiness, and so said nothing except that which was positive. “I think he is.” Roen demurred, just behind her, his footfalls falling silent on the grass they tread on. Tonight, his tail swayed behind him, the cross of beaten platinum jingling merrily at the tip. Like the rest of him that was groomed and proper in this twilight glade, so, too, was his tail shiny with the oils typically rubbed into its leathery hide, and he took pains to keep it from touching the ground beneath, such was his presumed vanity. Yet as they drew nearer to the carriage, Roen skipped ahead in an uncharacteristic display of alacrity, wearing the mask of the older prince well. Moving around and infront of Gabriela as they neared the carriage, the Outsider flashed one of his more charming of smiles, and beckoned to her with one hand while the other gestured towards the carriage proper. He wanted her hand, of course. He wanted to help her into it. Like the princess she was and the princess he had most certainly dressed her to be, he was inclined to treat her with all the reverence and courtesy afforded to her rank. And if he did it with something of a roguish cant to his smile, a sort of hint at how far beyond they were from playing these games of royalty and decorum, that was just his eccentric prerogative. He liked to pretend he was subservient to her in public. He liked to respect her in front of others, hoping they would respect her in turn. Their delights in private, their depredations, well, those were between them and had rare baring outside the times that they were alone. He did so enjoy playing his little games. “Please, I insist.” He said, waiting for her hand to guide her up into the carriage. Whether she took it or not, whether she let him guide her into the seat or she snubbed his generous offer, Roen followed her within and took a seat beside her, close enough that their legs rubbed together, though he was not so brazen as to curl and arm around her shoulders as lovers were like to do. Instead he reached for her hand to take it, to hold it for his own delight, before he raised his voice to the driver. “We’re ready.” He said, simple and to the point, before leaning closer to Gabriela and dropping his words to a whisper. “There is beauty in this world,” he explained, quiet and sincere, “if you know where to look. I want to show you something beautiful, before you forget what beauty looks like..”
  13. "Begone." "T̸̨e̵͠-́̕͜t̨͠e̛͟ll̶ m͢y͘ m̴m͝-̀͡m͏҉̕ḿ̧-̵̧͢ḿ͟͡o̢͘t҉h̕͜͡e̕͡r҉̡,̷͠ ̢púh҉͝-̡͢͟l͞e̛͞a̧a̴͜as̸͠e.̵̕.͘͜͡" "I said, begone." The corpse wailed the last of it's entreaty, then sagged back onto the medical gurney as the last of the magic that reanimated it, faded. Dead, calcified eyes stared up unseeing at the flickering lumen globes above, and with it's last breath, gurgled out a sodden, anguished sob before it grew silent and still. Roen looked away, raising his hands to his face and rubbing comfort into his tired, heavy eyes. The second corpse, much like the first beside it, was just as useless as it's predecessor. Low-ranking adventurers assigned as bodyguards to a foreign dignitary, they had both both slain in mortal combat by an armoured aggressor. The armoured aggressor had been him - he had slain them, and he was nowhere closer to unraveling the mystery of why than when he had moved their bodies from the desiccated airship and onto the Everlinde for thorough autopsies and analysis. The senseless murder sickened him just as much as the necromancy used to reanimate the cadavers. Lowering his hands and dismissing the two corpses, the Everlinde's medical bay and the whole fiasco itself, Roen turned to his servant. A tall, dark-skinned male in his early thirties, he had broad shoulders, a shaved, bullet-shaped head and an immaculate goatee. His name was Bertuccio Bonaparte, and he was a quiet, stoic man of many talents and incredible discretion, and it was both his honor and privilege to serve at the Outsider's pleasure. Sensing orders, Bertuccio inclined his head and crossed an arm over his sternum, bowing before the Lord of the Black City. "Lord?" He asks, vibrating the very air with his rich, resonate baritone. "These two were useless. I have a favour to ask of you, my friend." Bertuccio rose, tightening the supple black leather gloves of his hands before straightening the tie at his throat. He was a well-dressed man, all sharp lines and pressed fabrics. He was also very tall, standing head and shoulders above the Outsider. But though he looked down his nose at the modest stature of his lord, there was nothing less than the utmost respect for the fiend in his reply. "Anything, Lord." Roen looked away, stroking his beard and pinching his chin between thumb and forefinger, tugging at the rough and thick strands there. "I cannot go out into the city..," he began, before stopping and looking shrewdly at Bertuccio. "What I mean to say is, I shouldn't. We may have forged the Everlinde's transponder codes, but she's an old design and an expensive one, too, and while she and I haven't been seen together in a long time..," he trailed off, leaving the rest unsaid. The fiend shook his head. He looked back over his shoulder, regarding the corpses on the gurneys. The hoarfrost in the room was just starting to recede, the ambient temperature rising, now that the Outsider's will wasn't so oppressive. "The truth is, necromany is a foul sorcery, and I --" Bertuccio cleared his throat, interrupting him. They had known eachother for a long time, Roen and his manservant. The nuances of the Outsider's needs, the unspoken wants and indelible desires, Bertuccio knew the fiend as well as a man could, and perhaps better than most. "I will bring her to you." He said. "Thank you." Roen replied. "Do you know wh--" Bertuccio raised his thin, trimmed brows, pushing Roen to silence. No, exposition and explanation was never required, not of Bertuccio. A tenacious, resourceful man, he did not need a lead as others did. He had his own devices, his own methods of procurement and delivery. She had been tracked to this city. Scryed, tagged, observed and marked, the Outsider's staff, rarely deployed and eager for work, had gone above and beyond their assigned duties of information gathering and infiltration. Of course they had made her their foremost priority. She was his priority, after all..
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