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Swansong

The Snow's Song

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In the hushed chill of morning, the sun is hidden away by a thick expanse of clouds and snow.  A breeze blows heavy flakes into the air, swirling them violently before they make their descent onto the frozen ground, adding another fine coating of snow onto the treacherous ground. There's a soft almost undiscerning sound of footsteps over the blizzard that make their way along the icy paths and out into the unstable grounds. Steady and soft, they crunch along the snow continuing a purposeful trek through the isolated mountains of ice. They slowly pick up their pace throughout the expansive loneliness of the open area, a billowing of their cloak harshly whipping with the winter wind. Eventually, their steps halt as they meet the edge of the landscape. The snow and ice seems to disappear and in its wake, a gigantic cliff in its place. The stranger tsks, waiting a moment before simply stepping off the cliff.

----

The snowstorm never seems to stop these days, making it hard to track the nights from the days without an internal time keeper. As the days pass, the weather has only seemed to have worsened over time. Luckily for the sole inhabitants of The Bestiary, they are plenty used to making a living in the harsh climates of any weather. Unexpectedly however, this day, come three knocks upon the building's door, signaling not simply a howling winter wind, but rather a visitor. The area is heavily isolated, which means whomever is waiting for them must have purposefully come to seek out their services.

When the door is eventually opened, it is a marvel who awaits them. A boy, perhaps a teen seems to be on the other side. Locks of curly hair as white as the snow surrounding them, and eyes as light and brilliant as the ice crystals of the wild. His skin is pale as the winter's hold on this place, with an expression to match. They almost look like the very spirit of winter that plagues these wilds, and it's hard to discern if they are a boy or girl. White eyelashes blink once, seemingly unfazed at the feeble black cloak that's billowing around his form and tied with a silver ribbon at his neck. He is wearing an absolutely unacceptable ensemble that wouldn't shelter him from the weather in the slightest. A black and silver checkered sweater vest with a white blouse underneath it. Along with this are formal black shorts with black socks that reach just the bottom of his knees accompanied by black dress shoes and a black tie.

What was a child doing out in such a place?

"Charmed, I'm sure." the stranger murmurs politely but with a blank face and a brilliant posh accent. He looks at her with sharp and intelligent eyes, holding his hands formally behind his back. "Might I speak with your employer madam?"

What a morning indeed.

@Djinn&Juice

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The mountains near Itzal were like icy fingers jutting from the earth and bringing nothing but freezing winds and crippling maelstroms of snow. The Bestiary had once brought hopeful monster hunters in search of training and desperate villagers seeking relief trudging through the knee high snow, but now it was all but isolated. Most didn;t come up here anymore and even fewer believed that The Bestiary was still there. The people of Itzal believed that it's owner had either died, moved away, or retired. Fain wasn't so easily swayed in his quest to hunt Archen down; having only met the monster hunter once before on A previous investigation. There paths only crossing once before, but it was all that the young detective needed to remember the faces of all the people he encountered. Archen a scentless hybrid impossible to track due to his training and unnatural gifts, but Fain's deduction skills were A league of their own. His search for Archen taking him across the vast forests of Terrenus, and the harrowing Orisian kingdoms before eventually catching wind of Archen in Arkadia. There was talk of 'The Bestiary' and a hunter who has vanished for A year. It had to be what he was looking for...and so he had made his way up through the shivering mountains and happened upon a snowed in building underneath a vast precipice of ice. A single dimly lit lamp marking the entrance.

His knock was immediately answered; the door swinging open and causing steam to cascade across the threshold. Fain feeling the warmth of the interior cascade across his face. That heat however, paled in comparison to the warmth of the smile that greeted him now. A woman in earthy brown and green robes bowing to him in greeting; Two thick braided chords of black hair brushing the ground before she rose "Nameste. I am always charmed when we get new visitors! It has been a month since Master Belmont has had any clients! He will be so pleased; Come in quick! You must be freezing" Her caramel hands immediately pulling him in and closing the door behind them; her smile bright against her dark skin, brown eyes meeting his warmly as she immediately sat him in front of the fireplace. "Stay here and warm up please. I will fetch you my master and something to warm you up" She said kindly before leaving him to his devices for the time being.

victor-kudryashov-store-fantasyinterior-

How do I tell you my plight?
If only I could give you my sight

A year has passed us by with nothing for me to show
I feel as though im just floating idly as the wind blows
I failed my father over arrogance and pride
A phrase he always told me was never good enough...I tried
I want to believe that your the one worth fighting for
but I don't even have the courage to send these letters to your door


Archen looked over his letter and sighed through his nose, taking another swig from the tall dark bottle on his desk. He sealed it up and marked it with his signature before lifting himself up and shoveling it into a chest with several more of these similar envelopes. He still felt that gnawing, every damn day, that gnawing. How could he ever face her if he wasn't even A whole Archen anymore? Sinclair giving a knock at the door and with his behest, entered. Her eyes always possessed a worried melancholy everytime they looked upon him. There was a part of him that was agitated and felt as though it were pity...yet pity was not something she felt towards anything in pain...no this was...sorrow. Archen tipping backwards a bit before catching himself with a solid foot. Sinclair giving a hopeful smile against the crippling darkness Archen kept himself in "Sir, we have a potential client! He is waiting in the den to meet you" she said, watching him sigh with exasperation and nodding...looking at his clawed hands with distance. She hated seeing him like this, but she could only hope that with time...he would see past these dark times.

Archen remained quiet as he moved out into the hall, catching himself a few times as he stumbled into the Den. Fain could easily smell the booze off of him as he collapsed into the chair next to Fain, leaning his head back as he looked up at the ceiling. "Been...some time Fain. What do you want?" He asked, his voice sluggish and terse. Fain seeing that he was adorned in a A simple black tunic with gray breeches. His discerning eye catching a new tattoo on his adam's apple. A jagged key of some sort. It wasn't hard for an inquisitive creature of Fain's capability to know that this was the aftermath of the terrible deal Archen had made.

It looked as though it costed him more than just pieces of his soul.

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He says nothing else as he's led inside of the cramped building. The warmth of the fire is pleasant, Fain idly reaching out a hand to to feel more of its comforts as he waits. It was strange to go so far out of his way to track someone down. Fain isn't certain such a trip will be worth it at all if Archen doesn't actually agree. Though he has plenty of coin to spare, this matter is of a different nature altogether. Heavy thuds alert him of Archen's presence stumbling into the room. His nose wrinkles immediately, agitation flaring as the drunk fool collapses onto the other wooden chair beside him. 

The casual empty greeting he is given after all this time says more than anything else does.

"I didn't come here to be greeted with such casual frivolity Mr. Belmont." he snaps with a grimace of distaste. "Some time indeed, it seems you have made a right mess of yourself." he mutters casually, eying the other man's form up and down with a calculated disinterest. "I do hope isolation has treated you well, for it was quite a trifle to track you down. I would not have come if it did not pertain to your interests."

Clicking his tongue in dismissal, Fain gets up from his chair and regretfully turns away from the warmth. Moving over to the window, he glances outside, pale eyes narrowed in contemplation. 

"Though whether you're interested in anything these days, it would be difficult to tell with how the way you've stumbled in here as it were. Am I to offer you your money first and you shall accept on any condition? Or perhaps you're actually interested in the nature of what I am about to tell you?" he wonders, goading more than just a tired apathy from the other man.

He turns, hands behind his back as he stares at the other man with dull eyes. 

"One would think a hunter such as yourself would have noticed...but allow me to articulate Mr. Belmont. Have you seen a change of weather these days? Perhaps the snowstorm outside that never seems to change nor dissipate, the sun being blocked out by the density of the snow? This of course is not entirely unnatural from the weather conditions of this area certainly, but I must ask: how long has it been like this?" He questions, furrowing his brows as he turns back to the window. "Five days ago started reports of people walking directly into the mountains. It's been reported by friends or family that they were acting normally one moment, and the next they simply stopped any previous action and left. They did not stop walking regardless of their gear, clothing, or time of day, and disappeared into the storm." 

There's a pause as he stares outside into the snowy mountainsides, lips tightening in pensive thought. 

"There is something out there, and it has taken root in these mountains Mr. Belmont." he mutters, his breath showing in the air as he exhales, even in the warmth of the house. "Tell me. What do you know about awakened soul shards?"

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There wasn't much reaction from the slumped figure; his stark blue gaze once piercing with endless potential had dulled into a blue grey that watched the crackling fire with indignation. There was a part of him that wanted to respond to Fain, to greet him far kinder...but it had been swallowed up. Everything had been swallowed up these days. "There isn't much work for me these days" He said with hollow remorse. The world had become saturated with heroes and glory seekers. The supernatural horrors and forces that had once caused droves of people to claw at his door were now being handled by a vast surge of might and magic. Archen leaning down and pulling a small flask from his tunic as their eyes met. Fain's dull gaze of potency matched with eyes he had once seen as intense and willful...could no longer meet his gaze now."I have had other things on my mind...The weathers as bad as it's always been... The Spook knocking back his flask "Sinclair said it was worsening a few days ago, but...I haven't noticed." He said. Fain catching a quirk in his feathered ears at the mention of disappearances. Sinclair bringing Fain a rustic teacup with a fragrant smell of morning dew wafting off it's dull green surface
"It was made with Jee-Rai. A flower that grows here in the cold. May it bring you stability in these unstable times" She said with another bow

The priestess taking a few logs and adding to the fire, lifting Archen's feet up and making sure he was comfortable; his eyes lost in the embers of the fireplace. "Is there anything I can do for you?" She asked, hoping to see any change in his mood...his eyes turning to hers for a moment before shaking his head and nursing his flask "No" was all he muttered. Sinclair giving a melancholy nod before returning to her chores. Archen actually standing up at the mention of awakened soul shards "What are you talking about? How do these soul shards have anything to do with this storm and the missing citizens? Am...Am I the cause?" He asked; how could he not connect this to the very soul 'pieces' he gave away for power? What else could these soul shards be? 

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