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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. When you're dreaming with a broken heart The giving up is the hardest part She takes you in, with her crying eyes Then, all at once, you have to say goodbye
  2. Down in a hole I stay where I'm told Waiting to hear Controlled by the phone Blood is your mind Lay close to mine And we will light skin Or will we age like wine Bury your head How can you sleep? While the man that you loved Burns at the stake Now it's clear that your words Would flicker and fade And each day it takes You further away And if I saw you right now I'm not sure what I'd say There's only so many words A dead man can say I guess I'd wish you the best And be on my way
  3. Roen

    The End Times

    These violent delights have violent ends. Violence done and violence spent, the Outsider took with him the peace and succor he had ever purchased at Irene’s expense. He had made a melody of her mezzo-soprano, this incubus, drawing from her full and luscious mouth a staccato crescendo that held within it the dichotomy of suffering balanced on the edge of revelation. And when their song was finished and the stage she performed on became less a theater and more the observation deck they had started on, Roen withdrew and paid homage to the instrument, a maestro giving due to his orchestra of one. He touched her, slowly and gingerly but also profoundly, smoothing his calloused palms up the length and breadth of her hips, legs, and thighs. The world may have found her beautiful, and indeed she had many suitors, but the Outsider’s regard tended towards the obscene, even zealous. There was religion here, both vulgar and divine, and had they the time, he might have -- Roen withdrew his hands after one last squeeze, dimpling a pale and perfect bottom beneath a reverent grasp one last time before, like a murderer hiding the gruesomeness of a kill, he pulled down her skirts and the various layers of her dress. What a thrill it always was, playing with her dresses. So formal, so extravagant, but so amenable to the predations of desire. Dresses were wicked, wicked things. He adjusted her dress, tugging it into place with all the studious attention one might expect from both lord and master, and sighed. This was beloved. He turned Irene, catching her when her knees shook and threatened to give way beneath her, and pulling her close. With one arm wrapped around the delicate curve of her hips, Roen looked into her large, luminescent eyes and raised his other hand to wipe her tear stained face. She had wept, and while he did not like to see her weep, he never once heeded her pretty tears. They were like gems, each hard earned and all immeasurably valuable. He caught one on the tip of a blunted finger and softened at it, his expression less severe. These had been rubies, once upon a time. Dark, dark rubies. He closed his eyes and brought the tear to his lips, tasting the salt of her woe. He shook his head and reached up with both hands to cup her cheeks, forcing her to look up at him, forcing her to look into his eyes. She was beloved. He drew her towards him, glanced between her and her mouth. He waited. Oh, but she was lovely when she knew her role and the part he wished she played. She closed her eyes and subtly, oh so subtly, she tilted her chin up. Just a small tilt, just a small surrender, but he accepted it with grace instead of cruelty. He kissed her, and he kept kissing her until the airship descended and took them from the heavens to land them on earth again. He kissed her until she blushed, kissed her until she relented, kissed her until she reciprocated and kissed her until there was nothing left but the kissing. They kissed as if it were the first time they had done such a thing, soft and compassionate and reserved, and they kissed as if they wanted nothing but, hungry with appetite and voracious of need. They kissed until they couldn’t, when men in blackened warplate trimmed with gold entered the observation deck, asking for their Lord and Master. He left beloved behind, panting and beautiful, and kept his eyes on her until it was all but impossible to. And when she left his sight, when the world was diminished without her loveliness to brighten it, Roen struggled to harden his heart and muster the resolve necessary for what was next to take place. No mind for aching loins stirred or eyes of gold to behold, but for war, for violence of a different, bloodier sort. He pushed on. “She has the run of the ship.” He told the man beside him. “But she isn’t to leave it. No matter what she says, she is not allowed to disembark.” The man nodded. Roen nodded in turn. “Good.” He said. “Let’s get on with it.” ________ Before he went anywhere, the Outsider went to his son. The weather was warm, the cicadas were singing and the air crackled with the threat of a storm. And while the grief was not so terrible as it had been, Roen felt it keenly all the time. The trauma pained him, as did the loss. There was love buried in the dirt here, love and potential and the tenuous thread of a bond half-formed and cruelly denied. He took a knee before it, spread his palm across the tightly packed earth and -- gave himself to it, for a time. The sadness. The unrelenting tragedy of it all. He grieved, for grieving was appropriate, and when he was done grieving, he stayed a while longer to gather himself up again. It was no small thing, mourning the death of a child and the death of a dream. There was not but one life buried beneath the heavy dirt, but several. Gabriela’s, his own, many things died with Philippe, not least of all the child himself. Roen sighed, shook his head and left the grave undisturbed. He did not wipe the dirt from his palm. ________ The castle was quiet, as it was meant to be this time of the night. The guards were in rotation and the servants, some of whom Roen recognized from past interactions, were about their stately processions and routines. He stopped to greet some, and was met with the typical reservation and uncertainty; Orisia was frequently a contentious, tumultuous place, with a great deal of that friction provided by the tailed-failed that called himself a devil. He did his best to assuage such guilty sentiment, and was quick to inquire about what should have been his obvious purpose in these hallowed halls: The Black Queen. There was something rather fey in the small, mischievous smile the servant gave, something they tried to hide in how they turned their head. What a tale he and Gabriela had woven around themselves, the Outsider thought as he was told the queen’s approximate location. He was tumultuous, yes, sometimes even contentious, but no one had ever truly considered him a danger to the Orisian Queen, no matter how many times he snatched her all unwilling from her dainty throne. It was an endearing sort of fame, he thought as he walked through familiar halls and passed familiar thresholds. The servant had said the Queen was in the kitchens, which he found interesting but did not comment on. He departed, coursing his way and greeting other, familiar faces. He had even seen Tarquinius from a distance, but hastily adjusted his course to avoid a confrontation with the paladin. The man looked older, and while Roen knew him to be a temperate man, their paths often put them at odds with eachother. He pressed on, and while he didn’t come across the Black Queen, he did find the kitchens. Well-lit by candles and moonlight, Roen walked through the tiled room, one hand raised to ghost fingertips across the countertop of a kitchen island, where foodstuffs were prepared. This was one of the smaller, more private areas, closer to the royal suites than the castle proper. He found it curious that a vampyre would keep a fully stocked kitchen, though that was the way of things, he supposed. Not all had a vampyre’s palate, and visitors had to eat, as it were. He exhaled, a breathy sigh that quite betrayed his delight. Not quite forgetting his purpose in this castle, Roen unbuttoned the cuffs of his shirt, rolled his sleeves and raided the larder, a cold-store for various meats and cheeses. He found some, closed it, and grabbed a board and knife. He was cutting a soft, yellow cheese into delicate cubes beside slices of dried and cured meats - a major deviation from his vegetarian diet - when he smelled the approach. A vampyre was approaching. He closed his eyes briefly to the sensation, weathered it, then proceeded with designing a platter that was less of a meal and more of an observation of culture and taste. He even went so far as to open a bottle of Orisian Red - something he hadn’t had the pleasure or interest in partaking in - and pouring not one glass, but two. He did not care that his future companion and victim could not tolerate the drink, at least not to the extent he could, but that did not stop him from exacting his duties as an uninvited guest. Head bowed, hands busy and knife flashing, the Outsider kept cutting, divying up cheese and meat while he cooled his choler and tempered his humours. There was restraint to him, a quiet smolder he had all but cultured in the months since the nightclub incident that saw him butcher his way out of violence. He was a changed thing, though more himself than he had ever been. He was a murderer. And this would be murder done in the coldest of blood.
  4. Roen

    The End Times

    “Yes..” Soft, so very, very soft, Roen exhaled affirmation across beloved’s thighs. He was settled against her, now. The romance of a dark knight in supplication at her feet, the great beast brought to heel before the worthy matriarch, the Outsider thought himself all of these things for her in that moment, but in the end he proved to be none. There was no chivalric decorum bred into him, no true surrender that might speak volumes of her control and influence upon the steely weight of his heart. Oh, but he fancied himself her protector, this creature of bloodletting and spite. He thought very highly of his nature and nurture, as if his great age and supposed wisdom reared beloved up from girlhood into this lovely shape that stood before him now, combing affection through his hair and flushing so sweetly at his ardor, such was her fondness for this tame and true monster. How they knew the pantomime, this act and charade they had all but practiced and perfected over the years of his obsession. He had all but beaten and broken it into her, these small affectations she was still so shy to commit to. Tilting his head against her thighs and brushing his cheek up against the supple swell of her legs beneath the silk of her dress, Roen opened his eyes to look up at the subject of his relentless pursuits and shameless desires, and found what he saw more pleasing than any reflection, either his or her own. The color on her cheeks became her, he decided long ago. Be it as the vampyre she had been or the mortal she had become, Gabriela possessed an air of appeal when her blood ran warm and suffused her pretty face. He thrived on her, fledgling arousal notwithstanding. For all of his commentary concerning fatigue, the codependency he fostered between them was nothing if not the sweetest, darkest sustenance he could imbibe. He breathed her in again, a less subtle declaration of his delight, and lowered his gaze with all the faux diminuity of an iniquitous fiend. This was not fealty, love or even affection, though it could be and oft was confused for any number of these things. This was whim, nothing but whim and control, and it was why he thrived while she grew wane with exhaustion. For all his avowals of protection and love, the Outsider was nothing more or less than a leech upon her soul. As surely a predator of spirit as she had once been of blood, Roen consumed her spirit with the reckless abandonment of an addict. Fatigue, yes, he had felt fatigued at the window after seeking comfort at the cold pane. But he hadn’t found any, and so returned to the side and fount of all his worldly delights: beloved. And while she was tired of his affections, while she was drained and spent and sore and just so very, very weary and at the end of her endurance for his attentions, he, as was his way, demanded more from her. And because he was lord and she but a girl, there was nothing she could say or do to convince him of any other recourse. It did not matter that she had satisfied him early in their journey, it did not matter that she had just eaten dinner -- it did not matter that there between them lingered a decade’s worth of desire, a period that might temper the enthusiasms of other men. No, he was a parasite and anathema to her very will to exist, and he wanted more. Always more. And so it was that he took without regard for her willingness or well-being, but there was decency in him still to telegraph her intent, so that the ordeal to come might not be so shocking or so sudden. He bit at her. Softly, of course, he was always soft at first before he brought her the pain and discomfort, but he bit her. Parting his lips and baring teeth, he made to consume her as he so very often threatened to do ; he dragged his teeth across the fabric of her gown, tried to arrest the skin of leg and thigh on the other side and, failing, groaned something between dissatisfaction and resolve between her legs. No dark knight, but a beast. Nothing but a beast. He wasn’t tired anymore, there was no ponderousness to him now or hesitancy in action. Even the melancholy fell away, once he realized what he wanted. It was always what he wanted, whenever they were alone together. “We’ll be there soon.” He said, no longer muffled by the folds of her dress but gazing back up at her, his beard hiding the better part of a flush that crept up his neck to suffuse his cheek. He was reaching for her hands, tugging on them, pulling them from his hair to bring them to his lips. He had such a generous mouth, the devil. He kissed her delicate fingers, her knuckles, her palm -- and then he was biting again, catching the inside of her wrist between his teeth with a lover’s threat. Surely she knew what he was considering, surely she at least suspected. He saw it in her eyes, in the sudden contraction of her brows and how she pulled her hands away. Was that repulsion she saw in her molten gaze? Reservation? Or was it just the same look of loathing she always shot at him, when he was dragging her across sheets and compromising her virtues? He was fluid and grace when something so broad and so powerful had no right to ever be. He had stopped kneeling at her feet and rose, his shadow falling across her and his gaze, too. She wanted to pull away, to turn from him and be done this, with him. He knew she had tried to be sweet, had tried to be tender and nurturing and all that he wanted her to be, but it had turned to this again, this need, this insatiable desire she could not resolve, no matter what. He would want her and he would always want her, and there was nothing, nothing she could do to please him, at least not for long. It could have been called insatiable, save that he only ever seemed to reserve it for her. It was terrifying, he knew. He could almost see how her eyes grew bright, tears ready to fall for the horror and betrayal of it all. Rest, she seemed to say. That’s all she wanted. That’s all they wanted. Just rest, just peace. But there was no peace, not aboard the airship and surely not in Orisia, where they journeyed. He took her to the floor-to-ceiling observation window, that tall and broad pane of glass that beheld the stormy world beyond and the sliver of land on the horizon that bespoke of home on the horizon, and made her lean against that cold and uncomfortable glass while his hands dragged at the length of her dress. He was gathering it up, pinching it in handfuls and fists to draw it higher, higher. Was that a whimper he heard, or a sigh? Or was it the sound of the rain outside, pattering against the glass? His gaze was averted, as was his attention. It was downward, where a belt rattled and trousers were undone. Those were familiar sounds, he thought, almost comforting in how often they were heard. He saw a glimpse of her calves and thighs, long and lean, strained by heels. He saw more, and he also saw enough. There was familiarity of frequent touch enough to lift his gaze higher to their reflections, their terrible, familiar reflections, that he didn’t need to look between them to know he was no longer her dark knight or nurturing lover. He was only a reflection and a pressure behind her, forcing her up against cool glass and trapping her with the heat of a forge. He was fire behind her, fire on top of her and fire within her. He was all that she loathed and all that she loved, that inexorable fate she had done everything in her power to avoid, but could never escape. He was -- her’s. He took, yes, he always took, he all but consumed her, but his was a generous taking, for he also gave. What he took from her in pride and endurance, he gave back in vitality, in purpose and in strength. It wasn’t just Orisia she could see in the distance being brought closer and closer by the inexorable drive of the airship, but it was Roen, too, and the inexorable drive that drew them closer and closer. It was in the focus of his expression, the determination in his gaze. It was how he set his jaw and how he tucked his chin. It was how, when she made a sound that was more than just discomfort, he looked at Gabriela. Orisia was close, closer than they had been to it in more time than they cared to note, but it was never the island he had wanted, not its crown nor its people. No, then and there, the truth of it was ever evident: it was the girl he wanted, not the kingdom. And perhaps that was the meaning of his persistence and her discomfort. Perhaps that was why they were trapped at a window together instead of preparing for a disembarkation. Perhaps this was just a reminder, that she was beloved first and foremost, and all considerations paled in the cannibalization of her spirit.
  5. “I’m tired.” They hadn’t spoken in some time now, the pair. With the last of their small talk having petered away into an uncomfortable silence, and their destination little more than an hour away, Roen seemed content to settle into an uneasy quiet that seemed to underscore that vast wealth of distance that existed between them. Until now, at least. They were aboard the Everlinde, the Outsider’s personal airship, his oldest and arguably most trustworthy vessel. Seated on the observation deck to watch the world pass by beneath them, he had risen to stand at the many floor-to-ceiling viewports, one hand tucked inside the pocket of his britches while his other arm hung loosely at his side. Ostensibly to watch the sea and storm as both came on, he took a small and private satisfaction in the deep cool radiated off the thrice-hardened glass. He was hot, as feverish as a man caught in the grasp of a disease. It burned inside him, that dreadful malady of ambition, no matter the confession that spilled from his lips. Closing his eyes to the patter of rain and the flash of sterile lightning outside, Roen massaged gingerly the burning depths of his shielded gaze. He was neat today, the Outsider. Warm, perhaps even inviting. Leaving behind the cruel shape and contours of his gleaming black warplate, he was dressed, so he felt, in fashions she might find him handsome; in shades of black, white and gold. Britches and boots, a clean linen shirt, a waistcoat with gold trim and a plain black ribbon to tie his hair back. He left the other ribbon in her possession, looped around her delicate wrist in all its gem-studded majesty. There was nothing of softness in his expression, though. Not as he rubbed his eyes, and certainly not when he opened them to regard her through their shared reflection in the window. It could be said he glowered at Gabriela, though to be fair to the horror of him, it could also be said he glowered at everyone, too. There was a hardness to his face, a sternness and complexity that quite betrayed a quiet fury he kept checked within. The silent anger, the slaved wrath. It was the choler that made him so fierce on the battlefield, no matter the manic melancholy that drove him. A man of imbalance humours, this one was, if he could even be called a man at all. Lowering his hand and briefly passing it across his beard, something he had allowed to grow into some untamed tangle of ruddy hair that it seemed to gleam both fire and gold in the right light, Roen tugged absently at the strands and exhaled. “Very, very tired..,” he murmured. His breath fogged the glass, and this made his attention divert from reflective beauty and back to his own reflection, now distorted. His generous mouth quirking into the hint of a smile, he raised his arm and scrubbed away the distortion on the windowpane and, so revealed again, took a moment to consider what he saw: an older man, somewhere in his mid-to-late thirties. A broad build, masculine and purposeful. Long, dark hair, an unkempt beard and dark, dark eyes beneath a heavy black brow, deeply set and eternally vengeful. He saw no kindness in his reflection, no tolerance or sympathy. It surprised him, after a fashion. He could not remember when the change happened, when he was no longer able to recognize the face that stared back at him. He was divorced from himself, or.. ..or this was the real face, the true countenance that laid beneath so many masks and guises of pleasantry. This was not the gentleman sage, the warlord or the tyrant. It was not a kingly visage, though it was patrician, and nor was it a handsome one, though there was, of course, a repulsive attractiveness to it. It was evil, it had to be said. It was just that, just the face of something evil. And he turned that face to Gabriela. Not the reflection of it, not the facsimile off the surface of a windowpane, but his face in truth. He turned to face her, and contrary to all expectation, rhyme or reason, the face of evil smiled, because it loved what it saw. Recklessly, unabashedly and without reserve, it was in love with what it laid its heavy gaze on, and could not help but favour it with ardor. Tired, melancholic, savage and beautiful, the Outsider prowled back to her side, his quest for comfort by the cold grace of a window a failed attempt at succor, his sights once again set on her. “You must be tired, too.” He said, his voice a low and throaty purr. Not a baritone, no, never that, but softer, quieter; a clipped and smooth tenor, yes, that was his voice, with an erudite's accent, both foreign and distinct. He sounded like a king of legend, a monarch of old that might have plucked a blade from a lake and led the most gallant charges into savage hordes. There was so much dichotomy here, so much of him that seemed at odds with himself -- repulsive, inviting, intoxicating and galling. Even the smell of him, as he drew close, seemed designed to contradict. He smelled like war, like blood and flame, but there was a spiciness to him, too, a peat and citrus flavour that compelled all but the strongest of wills to sample and taste. Evil, yes, he was evil. Evil incarnate, pandemonium with a scowl. And that evil did as it was ever wont to do in the privacy of its company with the soul it favoured most: it abased itself before her, without prompt but with great delight. Kneeling before Gabriela, taking to his knees at the cross of her slender legs, Roen closed his eyes and sought solace from his nameless woes in the place he found his greatest delights: between the heat of her thighs. She was dressed, of course. He wasn’t a rube and they had places to be when the airship landed. But that did not stop him from drawing the firm palms of his hands along the tops of her thighs to level her legs, nor did that stop him from settling a hold on them while he bent and placed his head on her lap. She smelled good, beloved. She felt even better. Soft, nurturing. He had called her Little Mother, once upon a time, when crowns laid heavy across her pretty brow. Without asking and without permission, spoken or implicit, he reached for one of her pale, pretty hands and snatched it from wherever it lay, only to place it atop his head with a directness that would doubtless remind of his implacable strength and capacity for violence. He placed her hand there, firm and demanding, but grew soft when he pushed her fingers into his hair with a gentle knead but obvious prompt. Little mother indeed, the beast that supplicated before had demands all the same. “I know you are tired too.” He said, breathing the words against her thighs while he turned his head to press lips against them, kissing. “But this will soon be over..”
  6. Instead of archiving the website for future posterity, can I take over the lease? I think Valucre has potential yet and room to grow from the foundations already lovingly laid down. I am not denigrating the staff’s decision to try new and interesting methods of Role-Play. I’ve just grown to love the bones of this old place.
  7. 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
  8. 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.
  9. “...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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.”
  12. 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

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