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Ataraxy

From Nothing We Start; To Ash We End

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Iblis sighed, and with a snap of his fingers swapped the places of the blade wielding vampire and the unexpected guest knocking on the door. The visitor would no doubt be perplexed by her sudden relocation, while the servant of the Lunar Daughter would probably try to reenter the room. Venus would find herself unable to open the door, whether by turning the knob, or by trying to break it down. He would wait a moment for the newcomer to adjust to her surroundings, and to let the vampire pound uselessly on the door. Just a little bit of fun, to remind Lilith that her threats meant little to him.

"I trust I've solved the problem to your satisfaction?"

The Djinn laughed and with another snap of his fingers, the door to the room opened once more, allowing the vampire to enter before slamming shut behind her. But by the time this had played out, he had already moved on to contemplating the offer of sacrifice presented to him. While he had no particular affection for the people of Everrun, he did feel he owed them a certain debt. He had recovered a great deal of power thanks to them, and felt that he owed them a more interesting death than burning. So with a grin, he turned to Lilith.

"I will accept your offer, with one condition; just to make things interesting. The people of Everrun must die by fire, but never burn. Do this, and I will grant your wish."

 

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Lilith ignored the Djinn and Venus, deigning to cast her gaze on the visitor instead. There was a peculiar aura around the girl that Lilith hadn't seen in a long while. Even the memories of the Lunar Daughters before her struggled to place its origin. For the moment she was quiet and simply stared at the girl, mulling over the memories and possiblities. In the end she raised an eyebrow but didn't say anything and turned turned back to Ilbis. An oracle. Or, at least, that was what her aura suggested.

An oracle and a Djinn. Not exactly the necromancer's preferred company.  The humanoid creature grinned and, after a few seconds, accepted her off. Though it came with his own addendum.

"I will  accept your offer, with one condition; just to make things interesting. The people of Everrun must die by fire, but never burn. Do this, and I will grant your wish." [Ilbis]

Lilith nodded almost instantly in agreement, not bothering to negotiate further. The life of those in Everrun held little value to her and the manner in which they died even less. So long as she received the grimoire, Ilbis could have requested they all live. Or get eaten. Or buried. Or drowned. The details were of no consequence.

"So be it, Djinn," she answered. "Then we are in agreement." Lilith stood up as the cold look of her red eyes conferred to Venus her task. The superhuman bowed before the Commander. 

"As you wish, Commander," the Risen Servant said, her voice low and deadly Venus turned to Ilbis, her expression one of absolute neutrality, holding neither grudge nor hostility toward him. "A man of fire will be brought here and his fire shall burn the town, but none shall burn the skin of mortals." With that Venus would exit the room and find her way out unless Ilbis decided to transport her outside his residence. There she would track the man smelling of fire.

Meanwhile, Lilith turned to the girl and the corner of her lips inched upward, slightly, until the formed a faintly menacing smile.

"You are not here for the Djinn are you, Oracle?"

@Velocity @Tyler @danzilla3@Veloci-Rapture

Edited by Ataraxy

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Shane_Haydes.png?dl=1As sinister forces plotted the fires of the future, a young man was just arriving at the edge of town, a youth whose nature was defined by the fires of the past. The carriage driver stopped just outside the outskirts of the settlement, but refused to enter it, saying something about his sixth sense tingling.

“You’ll have to find another way back, son, I’m not hanging around here.” he remarked, noticing the crater in the center of one of the streets, “Good luck finding whomever it was you were looking for.”

“Thanks for the ride.” Shane Haydes nodded, stepping out of the carriage and tossing a small bag of coins to the driver, “Safe travels home.”

It was jolly, charismatic sorts like that carriage driver who always gave Shane pause when he stopped to examine what he was doing with his life. Should he not change his ways, find a real job, get a home and a family, try to live an honest life? Or should he perhaps consider returning to his homeland and accepting the just punishment he was owed for his crimes there? Surely either option was what a better man ought to pursue.

But Shane always found a way to remind himself that he was not a better man. He had made a choice, and that choice would define his life until it ended. He had committed arson and murder, and he did it deliberately and without remorse. And even once he had escaped the lawmen and bounty hunters pursuing him for those acts, he wound up adding piracy, theft and looting to his resume, as if he had not already gone far enough down a dark path. But he would tell himself that it was all for a greater purpose, that one day he’d have the money and influence to be able to justify his sins, if they were indeed sins at all, by being able to force real change. That was why he was here in Everrun after all, hoping the rumors about the prophet were true. He’d give whatever he needed to obtain the power of persuasion, whatever form that needed to take.

“But is he even still here…?” Shane asked aloud, finding that the city streets were almost abandoned, the people having retreated to their homes and businesses in fear.

A hand hovered over his holstered pistol, as the young man walked the street alone, his traveling cloak blowing in the wind, revealing a common pair of denim jeans and a dirty shirt underneath. His appearance was rag-tag, as he got by on whatever he could scavenge, which included much of his clothing and gear as well, save for whatever he had left-behind from his initial flight from Norkotia.

The young man stopped to examine the crater, before moving on toward the town center. He had no idea what happened here, and there was no one out and about to ask. But he also had no idea that the answer was going to find him first...

@Ataraxy

 

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Diviners of all stripes hate being told that they "should have seen that coming". Vetiver, in particular, had always wanted to respond by throwing a rock at the person making such an inane statement, then, when they were on the ground rolling around in pain, follow it up by asking "Shouldn't you have seen that coming?"

In this case though, she felt like she really should have had some inkling that she was about to be sucked across the universe at right angles and redeposited some thirty feet from where she began. Her stomach felt weak, like it might be ready to relinquish its previously-firm hold on her breakfast, and she had to put one hand on the luxuriously appointed table next to her to keep from falling over. Vetiver had never been teleported before, and she decided she hated it. 

Between the natural disorientation that follows such a sudden change in scenery and her own thoughts on the matter, she almost missed the end of the conversation she'd just become privy to, which was also the most important part. 

"The people of Everrun must die by fire, but never burn."

"So be it, Djinn,"

The words bounced around inside Vetiver's head just as they echoed off the stone walls of the room. Threads began to weave themselves behind Vetiver's eyes, and they traced glowing lines into a dozen different futures.

"You are not here for the Djinn are you, Oracle?" 

The dark woman was addressing her, but Vetiver could hardly hear it over the echos. She looked up at Lillith, met her gaze, and her eyes drained of all color; her irises pure white as they stared without seeing at Lillith's own.

"You'll fail," Vetiver said hollowly. "You'll fail to meet his bargain. You'll fail in a dozen different ways, a hundred misunderstandings, a thousand tiny technicalities. He means you to fail. He plans for your failure even as you plan to succeed, he's been planning for someone to fail at a task just like this a million times longer than you even knew it existed. You'll fail."

A tiny smile tugged at the corner of Vetiver's lip. "You'll fail, without me."

With a rush, her eyes were blue again, and her proud shoulders slumped with chagrin at having addressed someone so powerful, so clearly far above her, so bluntly.

"Uh, I mean, if it pleases you, your-- " Grace? Highness? Ladyship? Scary Creepy Personage? "--you. Sorry."

Having utterly failed to even begin to recover from her faux pas, Vetiver decided to pay careful attention to the dust on the floor, in which her foot drew some random design. "Maybe I should start over..." she muttered. 

@Ataraxy

Edited by Veloci-Rapture

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Iblis vanished and reappeared in front of Vetiver, grabbing her by the neck and lifting her into the air with the kind of casual effort one might use to lift a cup of coffee. For the first time since the meeting had begun, the Djinn's face was a mask of anger. 

"Do not impugn my honor girl. When I give my word, I keep it; and the stars will rain from the sky before it isn't so."

His eyes turned red, and his voice became like a hurricane, a crack of thunder, the rushing of a great waterfall. As he spoke, his words seemed to echo not just in the confines of the room, but within the minds of those who heard them. The building itself began to shake, dislodging dust and debris from the rafters that fell to the ground. Iblis removed his hand from the woman's throat, but she would remain in the air, held aloft by an unseen force.

"You think that because you possess Sight that you can see, but compared to one such as I you are like a blind man fumbling in the dark. I have already witnessed more than you ever could in a thousand lifetimes. I know truths that would shatter your fragile mind, and told lies that would deceive even the wisest of men. Do not presume to know that which you could never understand."

The force holding Vetiver up disappeared as suddenly as it had come; letting her fall to the floor. Iblis turned back to face Lilith, his previous jovial demeanor having returned.

"Well then. We've made our bargain. I shall leave you to it."

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It wasn't that hard to find The Fireman, as Venus had taken to calling him in the past few minutes. An ironic play on words considering the normal job of a fireman and what the Commander would want the man to do. She noticed a distinct smell of burning and heated air long before Shane's billowing cloak came into sight. The aura on the man was loud and proud, distinguishing him from the others. In fact, Venus was rather surprised no one else had pointed it out from the crowd but perhaps that was simply because her enhanced senses allowed her to "feel" danger and auras surpassing Terran human skills.

Venus tracked the man to the town center, not bothering to disguise her looks as she walked out of the darkness to place a heavy hand on his shoulder. If he felt the need to shoot or stab her out of surprise or simply raw aggression, there'd be no defensive or offensive actions from Venus. The bullet or knife would slice, pierce, stab, or penetrate wherever it had been aimed. She, after all, was one of Lilith's Risen. Pain was as normal an event to her as was breathing. 

"The Prophet and the Commander demand your presence," she said, voice neutral in timbre but deadly in its inherent nature. "Follow me, man who desires fire. Your destiny awaits.

@Tyler


"You'll fail, You'll fail to meet his bargain. You'll fail in a dozen different ways, a hundred misunderstandings, a thousand tiny technicalities. He means you to fail. He plans for your failure even as you plan to succeed, he's been planning for someone to fail at a task just like this a million times longer than you even knew it existed. You'll fail. You'll fail, without me." [Vetiver]

"Uh, I mean, if it pleases you, your--, --you. Sorry. Maybe I should start over..." [Vetiver]

Lilith's eyebrow dropped, the crinkles between her eyes coming down to form a narrowed pass way. It wasn't that she was angry with Vetiver, the girl was too knew for Lilith to really have any feelings concerning her, but the mistake was obvious. Anyone knew Djinns were tricky creatures, but rarely did anyone tell that to their face. Especially in their territory. Considering Djinns were basically dungeon masters of their house and controlled nearly everything, even Lilith had chosen her threats wisely. 

Therefore the next actions were... unsurprising. Keeping silent Lilith let Ilbis say his piece, not particularly caring one way or the other what happened to the girl. But there was something... something about the girl's prophecy that stuck with Lilith. Not once did she say "Ilbis" or "the Prophet" or "the djinn." Just... him

The Commander's eyes narrowed further before shooting open, wide as they'd ever been just as Ilbis released his grip on her. 

"Let her down, Djinn." Her command boomed and the room shook, her dark aura expanding outward to break the creature's grasp on the oracle. Whether from her command, threat of violence or simply because he felt like it, the weight would lessen and Vetiver, assuming she'd not deployed any defensive magic to avoid or protect herself prior, would collapse to the ground. Lilith standing before her, not a second having passed since she'd been seated. 

"Well then. We've made our bargain. I shall leave you to it." [Ilbis]

Other than a small grunt of acknowledgement Lilith paid the Djinn no mind. Her attention fully focused on the Oracle. If her suspicions were correct, the Djinn was the least of her worries as her plans would already be exposed to largest thread she'd ever known. 

A million times longer than you even knew it existed was what Vetiver had said. But the words were vague, nagging at Lilith as she replayed them in her mind. 

Suddenly she knelt before the girl, hand reaching to cup her chin and drag her head up so their eyes matched should Vetiver not resist or already be looking at her. Her next words were cool and exact, a faintly menacing aura behind them suggesting death. But not to Vetiver nor Ilbis. 

"Who is him, Oracle?" Lilith asked, doubting the prophecy had been about the Djinn. A timely rouse, perhaps, but so were the dead man's powers. "Do your words refer to the Witch-King himself? Are they about Zengi?" Her fingers would tighten as she spoke, whether on Vetiver's chin or clenched at her side. "Tell me."

@Veloci-Rapture @danzilla3

Edited by Ataraxy

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The sheer emptiness of the town unnerved Shane more and more the further he went into it. When suddenly he felt a hand on his shoulder, he whirled around and shoved his quickly drawn pistol into the gun of the person behind him. But he did not fire, instead he paused to look at the woman who now stood in front of him. She looked like death, unnatural and soulless, and with her chilling voice she bid him follow her to the Prophet, and another who was referred to as "The Commander". Who was that supposed to be, one of the Prophet's minions? And how did she know anything about him? 

"Very well." he agreed to follow her, as he was here to see the Prophet anyway.

As they neared the church, there was a sound that resembled rumbling that emerged from the direction of the building. Shane couldn't be sure what it was, but it certainly was intimidating to a mortal like him. What was he even getting himself into by coming here? Maybe he should have stayed in Last Chance and continued dealing in military salvage and scraps from the Legion raid. This was probably over his head.

No...

He was in over his head in Club Euphoria, but that didn't stop him from standing up to the gangsters that took it over. Even if he failed to destroy the building and punish the vermin within as he planned, he had seen the interior at least once now, and he knew the ways in and out. If given the right time for planning, he could maybe pull it off, but it would be way better to have some help. So many of the dominating forces on this world relied on superhuman power to get their way. A boy like him had no hope of threatening anyone or forcing any sort of change without it. He needed this.

But when he was brought before the Prophet and the so-called Commander, he found the latter in the process of intimidating another woman, which only caused him to doubt himself again. Maybe coming here wasn't such a good idea. But he couldn't leave, not when they had demanded his presence, so he stood there stupidly, watching the incident continue to unfold with the most neutral expression he could muster.

@Ataraxy

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Vetiver's "gift" had gotten her into trouble before, no doubt, but this was the first time it had gotten her assaulted by a man of the cloth. She gasped for air as she looked into the face of the wrathful Djinn, her small hands clasping over his to the same effect as if they were trying to pry apart a steel beam. 

"Do not impugn my honor girl. When I give my word, I keep it; and the stars will rain from the sky before it isn't so."

She tried to stammer out some sort of apology -- even though she felt it rather unfair that she had to apologize for words she only theoretically had control over -- but Iblis's grip prevented her from getting out much more than a contrite gurgle. She hoped it conveyed her meaning appropriately, even as she knew that it wouldn't make a difference. Egos were bruised, and they required placation; in this case, that placation involved depriving Vetiver of a couple of lungfuls of air. 

As the Djinn continued his rant and flowers began to bloom on the edge of her vision, she decided that her inability to speak was ultimately for the best. She'd probably have ended up saying something along the lines of 'Of course! Your kind are known far and wide for their fair, transparent bargains and utter lack of any tendency to engage in dodgy shenanigans!' which had a high probability of making things worse. 

In a moment, it was over, and Vetiver fell to the floor. Anger rushed through her, as ever it did when she was left feeling helpless and out of control, but she quickly stuffed the emotion back down, deep into her core. It was replaced with self-loathing, which was less pleasant but also less dangerous. 

Before she had time to fully compose herself, a set of cold, feminine fingers gripped her chin and pulled her gaze up, into the eyes of the woman she'd come to see. 

"Who is him, Oracle? Do your words refer to the Witch-King himself? Are they about Zengi? Tell me."

Vetiver's mind worked as she tried to retrace the threads that had produced her latest prophecy. A strand, a crossing, a knot, another knot... and another, and another... wow, that's  lot of knots. Oh, hey, there's some more knots over there. And... ooh, that's a big, funny-looking knot, right in the center of just about everything. 

Vetiver took a deep breath.

"The knot at the middle of this is bigger than both of you. All of you. You plan to just bull your way through it, but I don't see that working out in your favor. Or mine. Or anyone's. Meeting the requirements of your bargain--" her eyes flashed over to Iblis, then back to Lillith, "--the very, uh, fair, and, uh.... totally legit, totally straightforward bargain that's one-hundred-percent on the up-and-up and involves absolutely no fine-print or anything.... is just the first obstacle."

Here it was. The moment of truth.

"I could get you through it, through all the challenges, to get you exactly what you're looking for. But the chances are still slim... unless I had more power."

Would that work? Did it need something extra? Well, a little more couldn't hurt.

"Has anyone ever told you that you have beautiful eyes?"

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Iblis looked on at the conversation unfolding between the oracle and the Lunar Daughter, their subject of conversation piquing his interest somewhat. The Witch-King Zengi was a being that predated even his arrival into the world of Valucre, but he was familiar with the man. Even years after his passing, the people of this land still whispered his name with a near reverential tone. It seemed this Lilith intended to use his power for her own benefit; an audacious task to be sure, but one that might just be within her ability. Or at least it would be if she could command the loyalty of her companions. Alone, even she would stand no chance.

"I hate to rush, but you have a bargain to fulfill, and I shall not wait forever."

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"The knot at the middle of this is bigger than both of you. All of you. You plan to just bull your way through it, but I don't see that working out in your favor. Or mine. Or anyone's. Meeting the requirements of your bargain---the very, uh, fair, and, uh.... totally legit, totally straightforward bargain that's one-hundred-percent on the up-and-up and involves absolutely no fine-print or anything.... is just the first obstacle. I could get you through it, through all the challenges, to get you exactly what you're looking for. But the chances are still slim... unless I had more power. Has anyone ever told you that you have beautiful eyes?" [Vetiver]

There were many things that Lilith disliked in the world, but three ranked at the top. Asking her questions being the first, though one she'd been working on restraining as killing every curious mind had proven to be rather interminable. Second, being told she lacked in power compared to another. Third, disloyalty. Well, disloyalty to her. She wasn't concerned about the moral implications of loyalty so much as she found being slighted overt disrespect. 

Vetiver hit two out of three, a high enough score to warrant Lilith reaching into the girl's head until her hand came out the back. 

But she didn't. Though Lilith's eyes narrowed and her lips pulled so thinly they nearly disappeared, she didn't. Despite her overbearing demeanor the necromancer was not an idiot. Even she knew that the power of the Witch-King was nothing to scoff at. She highly doubted bringing along a little oracle girl was going to make much of a difference but it really couldn't lower her chances of success more than they already were. 

"You speak very big for such a little girl," Lilith said, her hand that still cupped Vetiver's chin tilting her head to the side. And then the other side. Ignoring the part where Vetiver claimed Lilith would succeed only with her -an insinuation many others had died the moment it'd left their lips, the Commander raised an eyebrow. "You wish for more power? Let me ask you a question girl, have you ever killed a human before? Injured?" 

Not that she actually expected an answer. Even if both came out as yes, the girl was no killer. At least not yet. Power had a strange way of changing one's views on right and wrong. 

"I hate to rush, but you have a bargain to fulfill, and I shall not wait forever." [Ilbis]

Lilith snorted and waved her hand. "And nor will you have to." She looked to Venus with a nod toward Shane. "Is this the man of fire I asked you to bring?" Venus nodded. "Good." Back to Shane. "There is a fire raging inside you, mortal. One strong, yet trapped. Do you wish to free it?" The Commander shifted her gaze between Shane and Vetiver as she spoke, reaching out a hand to each of them. "If you wish to obtain power beyond what you have, perhaps beyond what you've ever imagined doing- take hold of my hand and we shall set this city ablaze. But, in return, you will become one of my Paragon. Loyalty in return of power. This choice is yours: to stay a middling mortal for what small time you have left or to rise above all others in the ashes of Everrun. The world is yours... if you choose to grasp it."

@danzilla3 @Tyler @Veloci-Rapture @Thotification

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"There is a fire raging inside you, mortal. One strong, yet trapped. Do you wish to free it?"

Shane had come for the prophet, but from all he had heard, the prophet was supposedly a man. Instead, it was the woman who acknowledge him first, hinting that she might have the key to unlocking the abilities he desired. Well, perhaps not precisely, for he had come hoping to wish for charisma, the ability to rally people to his cause and lead them. He had come to obtain the power of persuasion...

"If you wish to obtain power beyond what you have, perhaps beyond what you've ever imagined doing- take hold of my hand and we shall set this city ablaze."

But she offered him the chance to obtain the persuasion of power...

"But, in return, you will become one of my Paragon. Loyalty in return of power. This choice is yours: to stay a middling mortal for what small time you have left or to rise above all others in the ashes of Everrun. The world is yours... if you choose to grasp it."

This was sudden and vague, he did not know what she would be asking of him. What if she expected him to become the very thing he strove to destroy? What was the cost of the power she offered, and how could she grant him these supposed powers when Shane had never possessed a lick of magic in his life?

"I would have this power you offer me, my lady." he spoke, slowly and deliberately for fear that his awkward demeanor may offend her by accident, "But first, may I ask who you are and what you would ask of me?"

He even considered the possibility that merely asking who she was could be offensive, especially if she were one of those self-important people that felt everyone should know who she was. But it was too late now, he had asked, and he could only hope that her answer wouldn't be to require him take a path he could not live with. Or kill him, that would be bad too.

@Ataraxy

Edited by Tyler

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"You speak very big for such a little girl. You wish for more power? Let me ask you a question girl, have you ever killed a human before? Injured?" 

Vetiver's thoughts flashed back to her time in Yh'mi. Did she put a knife directly into someone's throat? No. But her failure had cost... too many lives. She'd known the exact number once, but it was one of those things that kept slipping out of her mind during her recovery in Ignatz's military hospital. She seemed to recall that some of the rescue team sent for her had also died. Maybe she'd just made that part up. It was possible. Perhaps even likely. But she couldn't be sure. Everything that had happened after she fell in the hole she'd helped to open, staring up at a black, armored figure making ready to cleave her head from her shoulders, up to about a week before she was finally discharged from medical with a fitness for duty order; all of that was at best a blur and at worst a dark black void in her mind. 

"Yes," she said, intending the word to answer both questions. 

 "If you wish to obtain power beyond what you have, perhaps beyond what you've ever imagined doing- take hold of my hand and we shall set this city ablaze. But, in return, you will become one of my Paragon. Loyalty in return of power. This choice is yours: to stay a middling mortal for what small time you have left or to rise above all others in the ashes of Everrun. The world is yours... if you choose to grasp it."

While the other man hesitated, questions on his lips, Vetiver didn't. This was what she came here for. One could argue that this was the whole reason she'd survived -- or been saved -- in the first place. 

Her hand reached out and grasped Lilith's.

 

 


 

WIthout Vetiver's knowledge, an encrypted transmission blinked onto a lonely monitor at Terran Military HQ just a split second before her fingers wrapped around Lillith's hand.

 

SENT: VICTORY VER 2.8.331 PROTOTYPE T1-A. 

PROJECT CODENAME: FLOWERCHILD.

PASSKEY: DELTA-DELTA-ONE-THREE-UNIFORM-MIKE.

SECURE: CONFIRMED.

MESSAGE FORMAT: HACKERVOICE

MESSAGE: 

"I'M IN."

{END MESSAGE}

{YOU HAVE OPTED IN TO MESSAGES FROM VICTORY VER 2.8.331 PROTOTYPE T1-A CODENAME: FLOWERCHILD. TO STOP RECEIVING MESSAGES FROM VICTORY VER 2.8.331 PROTOTYPE T1-A CODENAME: FLOWERCHILD: REPLY "STOP" WITH PROPER THIRTY-NINE CHARACTER CASE-SENSITIVE ENCRYPTION PASSKEY.}

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The power which flooded through Vetiver would be beyond anything she'd ever experienced within her own self. Perhaps a quantity and quality of magic larger than anything she'd even seen. It would surge through her like a hundred bolts of lightning until there was no extra room within her to hold the power, and then it was be absorbed into her core when a new power would blossom. 

The girl's own power. A boon to what she already had. The very limits of her own potential. For that was what Lilith's Lunar Mark did. It raised one's base potential and then unlocked it, instantly. She didn't give them power or bestow them a bit of her own power. No, she gave them the key to their own power. To stand on their own two feet in this world of monstrous existences. Where Vetiver's mark would land, Lilith didn't know. Nor did she know what exactly Vetiver would be feeling. Some felt ecstasy. Others felt rage. Some, even, were filled with a since of purpose. Belonging. Simply feeling like they existed as themselves for the time in their lives. 

For a split second Lilith felt something weird occur in the girl. An odd buzz of sorts. Something that was... unusual. But it was gone as fast as it had come so the necromancer ultimately ignored it. She didn't forget it, but pushed it to the corner of her mind. All pieces fell where they may in time. Perhaps there was more to the girl than even she knew. 

"I would have this power you offer me, my lady. But first, may I ask who you are and what you would ask of me?" [Shane]

"Is who I am really important?" Lilith asked, slightly disappointed at the man's hesitation and extraordinarily annoyed at the fact yet another person was questioning her. "You are free to live you life as you wish, boy. You may follow me or go your own way. But on occasion I will make demands of you. Guessing at what those might be is a fool's game. Whether the trade is worth it, is up to you. I will not force you to take this mark," she stated, her words neutral but her tone threatening. The only reason he wasn't dead after posing her a question was because she'd sensed his potential as a Paragon the instant he'd crossed the borders of Everrun. "Now, accept my mark or get out and rejoin the dying sheep you walked among."

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"Now, accept my mark or get out and rejoin the dying sheep you walked among."

That was an ultimatum. The woman, whoever she was, did not like to be detailed or explain herself more than necessary. But what she spoke and the way she spoke it seemed to be enough to reassure Shane that she wouldn't ask him to do anything he truly didn't want to do. Hopefully. Shane was both impulsive yet slow and hesitant at the same time, and both tendencies had gotten him into trouble in the past. Impulse said to take the power and never look back. His hesitant, deliberate nature told him to leave, and find other means of accomplishing his goals. Means that didn't involve him surrendering his loyalty to a woman he knew nothing about.

But power was so close at hand, so easy to gain with just a simple metaphorical bend of the knee. How could one resist that? Surely it was worth more to surrender to one master who would not make constant demands of him, rather than continue to live under many masters, be they gang leaders, law enforcers, ship captains or whomever else he was forced to obey. He was tired of being at the bottom, a useless peon who had to battle just to survive, much less progress. While he had been trusted with small amounts of power before, those investments failed to pay dividends. All he ever found was disappointment. 

And all the while, he was forced to live among the scum of humanity. Faithless degenerates or blinded heathens, either devoid of morality or following a false interpretation of it. As bad as Norkotia had been when he left it, the brigands of Pirates Cove and the criminals of Last Chance opened his eyes to how truly evil the entire world was. And he recalled in frustration his powerlessness to do anything about the scum he encountered every day. No, he could not suffer their continued existence any longer.

"I don't wish to rejoin the sheep."

He reached out and grasped Lilith's hand firmly.

"I wish to punish them."

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She only nodded at Shane, though it was a nod signifying her approval of his choices. Much as a god might make to its worshipers. So when Shane reached out to grab her hand, Lilith returned the action. The instant their hands clasped, Shane would feel the same rush of energy as Vetiver. And then the same vanishing of said energy in response to the roaring of his own energy. The main difference, however, would be that Shane's new energy would burn. As if lava crawled through his veins, sought to leak from his eyes and burn his skin. Like a fire it would cackle and flare from within, filling the young man with heat enough to melt the wills of weaker men. 

Finally, Lilith smiled. It was faint and tinged with annoyance at the delay, but a smile nonetheless. She turned to the djinn with a wave of her hand beckoning toward Shane. "And now, we have our Pyromaniac." Technically the term was pyromancer but the word seemed to underplay the chaos she could feel boiling in his core. "Man Who Burns," she said looking at him, "Your task is to start a fire that burns everything but the skin of living beings.  That is it. Though, if you wish, you may... help the city burn a little faster." By which she meant set more fire. 

With a look at the djinn to send them out of the room, the wish granter would likely snap his fingers or do some other low movement action that would portal them from the room. She could have simply busted the barrier down and walked out, but figured she may as well allow the djinn to save them a few minutes of time. 

"Start the fire," she commanded once they were outside, gesturing to a nearby dilapidated housing structure in elbow distance to others of its kind. Then she turned to Vetiver, her eyes bouncing between her and the Pyromaniac. "Tell me your names, my new Paragons. Simply being called the Man Who Burns and Oracle is beneath your new statuses as Paragons."

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