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Pasion Pasiva

What Dreams May Come [Coconino Marsh]

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A Dream...

She was in Orisia, sitting on the washed up, water-logged trunk of some mighty but fallen tree. In her arms, wrapped in black linen, she held Philippe -- who quietly fussed and mewed, and reached up with cherub-chubby hands and fingers to try and grasp at the wayward

tendrils of his mother’s hair. The serious and thoughtful pinch of her brows melted away when she peered down at him, and her golden eyes grew warm just for him as she took in the sight of his sweet little face. They shared a moment, just a shooting-star of a moment, during which they translated to each other all of the love they felt for one another as mother and child. 

 

And then the nightmare carried on as it always did.

 

Black blood began to spill from the child's ears, and then his fussing turned to wailing, which was silenced into the sickening sounds of gurgling and choking as blood filled his throat and began to pour from his nostrils. The beautiful little face that Gabriela looked upon turned into a grisly sight, and the small body that she clung to, which struggled and fought valiantly against the forces of death, finally gave away to surrender. And as for herself in this horrible dream, she wept as she always did, and wore the same look of panic and horror -- and desperation.

 

Until she didn’t. 

 

Until all the motherly agony she felt disappeared, and like the body of her son, which by then had turned to sand -- black sand, so unlike the rest of the golden shores of Orisia-- all of those feelings fell away, rolling off her like a million, tiny grains of sand. Of course that’s when she recalled that this was a dream, and not just any dream, but a recurring dream. She had been here at least a dozen times before, sitting on the same tree, looking out over the same beach, contemplating the same happiness and hope before it was snatched away. And while all of the pain felt fresh and raw, in her heart she knew it was not. This was not the first time she had seen love turned to violent death. 

 

But it was just a dream, she told herself as a means of comfort. Philippe had never breathed a breath, he had never cried a single cry -- she had never felt the strain of his movements from the outside of her body. He had only ever lived inside of her where it was warm and safe, where he had known nothing but love. There was comfort in that.

 

Now the second part of the dream, the part that was no dream…

 

She pulled the black linen, where her son had rested, into her chest and held it there. It was still wet from his blood, and it held on to his sweet smell. 

 

“Where are you?” she asked aloud, into the twilight of her dreams, but no answer came -- not even an inkling of his presence. The man in her dreams, the creature of resolve and power, he was not here anymore. Before, she had always sensed his presence, for he had been as a spectator, watching the horrors of her worst nightmare unfold. And without judgment, he would appear to converse with her. He had never offered advice and he had never offered condemnation. The only thing he came to offer was an unspoken sense of understanding, a resolute promise of hope. 

 

But it was gone now, just as he was gone, just as this had become nothing more than a dream. The connection was severed, and this she found to be more painful than made-up performance her mind had conjured of her child’s passing. And it was not the stranger that she missed, or his company that she mourned for, as she sat there with a frown, fighting back the urge to cry. It was for the loss of hope and the rising ties of despair that manifested themselves as the turbulent waves in the distance, which were drawing near. 

 

She abandoned the burial shrouds of her child, dropping the black fabric to the ground, and stood up to watch the oncoming tide. It was a violent sort of work, the water moving in so fast and wild that one crest from a wave crashed against another, rising higher and higher, until she could not see the sky. It was all of her anxiety, all of her fear, all of her doubt -- it was the sum of her darkness that came to claim her soul, her body, and her mind. Surely, it was madness and death, and the end of all her hopes for the world. 

 

“Why have you forsaken me…” 

 

~*~

 

She didn’t so much awake as she was struck by that massive wall of black water and was then thrown into a violent current that twisted and turned her body and threatened to tear her apart. At some point she crossed the border between consciousness and unconsciousness, and she felt the burning in her lungs and the dying of her limbs, and she felt the cold and horrible fear that came when one stands upon a precipice and stares down and finds there to be nothing but death awaiting. But all of her body hurt, and she could not fight to live even when death was a terrifying concept. That’s when she felt what she could only describe, or understand, as two powerful hands grabbed her from under the arms and threw her forward -- literally propelling her through the water and past its surface, until she landed roughly upon a muddy embankment. 

 

For a time she lay there, pasted down by the weight of a cloak that was soaked through with water. She was too weak to peel herself out from under it, and even the wet earth underneath her kept her set in place. So she just lay there, breathing soft and slow, with her cheek to the mud and her eyes closed. She did not question any of it -- not where she was, not what had happened, not the dream, not the reality. All that mattered was the fact that she was alive. But in time, and not much time at all, the cold did stir her eventually, for it was unbearable and she was naked under the sloping mess of cloak and badly hurt as well. 

 

Somehow, she managed to pluck herself from the muck and mire, and sat up halfway, so that she could better see her surroundings. It was daylight but the sunshine offered her no warmth. She was in shallow water, where tall grass grew in patches of overly moistened earth. Walking seemed impossible without sinking into the mud. And it was only now that she failed to see a clear horizon or indication of shore, and then the aches and pains of her body began to mount to near excruciating levels, that the panic began to prickle along the back of her skull. 

 

Why was she here?

 

Where was here?

 

Moments ago he had been in the soft and supple sheets of her bed, surrounded by pillows, and sinking into plush and expensive, feather comforters. She had been mostly drunk and even a little high, and she had been contemplating the possibility of inviting Saul into her bed -- of ending the recession of her pleasure, since there were so few days of her life left. And he had been there, Saul, and he had seemed so receptive to it all. He had been so gentle, and so courteous with her. 

 

But where was he now? Where was her room and the train? Where were her fine pillows and comforters -- her four post bed, her strong liquor, her good drugs? Where was the life she had pretended to want and the plans she had carefully planned? 

 

The panic grew deafening in her ears, but it was only the sound of her own heartbeat thundering away as she tried to stand up.

 

“S...sa...sau…” her voice was broken -- it was literally broken. She tasted blood when she tried to call out. There were bruises around her neck as if someone had tried to strangle the life out of her, but of course she couldn’t see them. But she sure could feel them. Especially at the center of her throat, right above her collar bone, there she felt the most pain, the awful tear. It burned there when she tried to scream, or cry out, and mostly when she swallowed back the taste of blood. “Saul….Saul…”

 

It was the only name on her lips -- it was the last person she remembered being with.

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S a u l  K a s s á b r a 

 

 

                                A black star against an already dark sky....

 

       A black mass breaking through the air and phasing between locis. A recall spell, as was common for him to maintain connection to from his safe house in the Ouread, had been triggered. As per the formula, Saul blazed on as a vantablack effigy, swaddled in his cloak as well as no small amount of the icky mess that he bore. Thousands of miles traversed after a more than generous serving or few of food in the Town he’d been ditched in. They left without him! The nerve of it all was beyond his tolerance, and so he was headed North. A dark nimbus radiated from his form and further propelled him, issuing a ghastly visage if one could even make him out in the night. 

 

       From dusk til dawn would the prepared magics draw Saul home. Moving of his own will versus a business summons meant he was more constricted by the locis and their diluting of instant transmissions across vast amounts of space. He was almost over Coconino’s body of water when disturbances in the air from wards, hostile energies, as well as the mechanical death of a vessel previously in the air. The stench of death and fear and vile echoes were bestowed upon the area more than already present. 

 

 “Saul….Saul…”

 

       Dark Eyes cracked open, breaking the otherwise completely black coverage of his form. In his flight, he retreated into his mind to pass the time, as well as focus. Now, he was aware and sprawling like a grand wyvern, ick receding quite a bit from his form as he now free-fell into the marsh. Without the business card, there was no direct point, but his senses directed him well enough. The stench of adamantine and abuse was upon the area, forcing a grimace on the Mage. A true wonder how people subscribe to such cyclical living.. he dialogued inwardly, wind blowing fiercely all around him. He felt no pity, for he knew no one who benefited from such  in situations as these.

 

       The nimbus crackled as his Will was applied, shunting the space around him with raw, arcane force. The result was a break in his otherwise unwavering inertia. Once, twice, and then he fell through the canopy covered in plate and spike alike. Blades-for-arms crossed one another as he stood from his dent in the earth. The aura of power was released from manual exertion, rippling over his flesh as a defensive ward against surprise attacks. Between vagabonds, looters, and crocodile(-men!), there was no shortness of danger available at any given time. It mattered not. Survivors were liable to be washing up any time now, much like Isabella did.

 

       On the subject: Why was she calling for him after leaving him behind? It likely also mattered not. His recall was disrupted, leaving him stranded a thousand miles from home with a half-used spell discharged by means of interruption. Ick peeled away from his face, resembling nothing short of a predator in the added bulk of his dark manifestation. A sniff, a blink or two, and he was moving. Blood, abrasive emotion, and scent drove him to the puzzling organism that was She. Within the half hour, her presence radiated clearly, though her body temperature was masked and her mundane scent was muddied. Tendrils unraveled from what looked to have been the sharp edge of a blade. Receding further and further from extremities to merely torso coverage, as well as along the spine and up to the jaw, he was made Known. That Dark Mass faded from view as it sat beneath his clothing now.

 

“Isabella.. You’re bleeding again.” He chided, happening upon the woman with a guise Tenebre himself might smile upon. Warm reminders of every sense came to him at the utterance of her name.


“Come here, please. Who did this? How did you crash? Where is everyone else?” Questions rolled off the tongue as he slipped from his Black Robe, keeping it at the ready should she allow him to escort her without issue. If she did not steer away, he would move to relieve her of the heavy cloak. His hand left the robe to freely hang in the air of its own volition, instead turning to somatic commands that would trigger a defensive ward around their vicinity. His sensory was good, but this made it easier to focus on her.

 

       His right hand was out to her as he walked toward her. If she took it, his senses would take note of her biological condition. He reached gently, for he knew not what she had endured. Much like a startled mare, she was liable to resist his touch. That scent of abuse was all over her. Tension sharp as a knife riddled the air around her, verbalizing for her all that she had recently endured. His nostrils flared and scrunched. Surviving such an event must have been traumatic to say the least. Head injuries were a dime a dozen when it came to large scale crashes. She needed help, and yet again he was there. Would she allow him to, though?

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“Isabella..”

 

She physically recoiled from the name -- from her name, from her mother’s name. That creature of sorrow and shadow, that wicked woman who drank blood poisoned by terror. And it wasn’t until this very moment, hearing that name spoken so soft and easy from his lips that she felt a surge of disgust rise up like bile in her throat. 

 

Why in the world had she picked that name? 

 

At the onset of what was to be her new life, why had she picked her mother’s name?

 

“You’re bleeding again..”

 

Since uttering his name, what felt like eons ago, she had fallen into a troubled sleep. It had been too hard to stay awake, and the cold, and the hurt had lulled her off to serenity of her obsidian dreams, for there were no nightmares now, no more visions of unknown infants choking on black blood, no neglect or aloneness. 

 

Rest, rest, rest -- whispered her blood, and she listened. 

 

He would be the first, and perhaps the last to bear witness to Tenebre’s mark. The bond was impossible to break, and had little and less to do with her having been a vampyre, and everything to do with who she was. The proof was inescapable now, but Saul would never understand the magnitude of what he saw, and she wouldn’t remember. Of course she should have been dead, but she wasn’t. And as he came upon her, half buried in the toxic muck of the marshlands, what he’d see -- what his voice would bring to life -- were the two massive black wings, made of a lusterless black substance, and unlike the ick that he compelled, seemed without true mass or density, and yet appeared depthless in color. There was no indication of detail, save for the tapered edges of the feathers. The mass of the wings themselves, they were without feature, and seemed more like cutouts straight out of the fabric of reality. And at the sound of his voice, they spread open and lifted up and then dispersed like black smoke into the air. It would take some investigation or perhaps guessing to come to the conclusion that the tendrils of darkness had kept her alive. That somehow the emptiness of the abyss had managed to produce heat enough to keep her human body living, and had nurtured her well enough to fend off the most savage of infections that only now began to fester along the multitude of open cuts and scratches.

 

She quickened, but only enough to lift her head -- half her face wore a mask of sludge. 

 

There he was -- there was Saul.

 

There was a glint of gold from this creature as her eyes peered up at him from the disgusting ceast pool of slushy mud. She hardly seemed human, and not at all the woman he had been with just a day ago. And he most certainly was not the man she remembered -- the man she saw when her eyes closed and she tried, desperately, to recall where she was and who she was with -- or why.

 

“Saul…” she spoke his name again, but it sounded confused and uncertain on her tongue. 

 

“Come here, please. Who did this? How did you crash? Where is everyone else?”

 

Pins and needles attacked her brain as she tried to recall answers to questions that made no sense. She grimaced and resisted the urge to sink her face back into the mud. Instead, she began to pull herself out of it -- but with a recently dislocated arm, and with a heavily soaked cloak, and with all the other unnamed hurts and pains, it was proving impossible. She tried, and then pathetically fell back down.

 

“Crash...what crash? Everyone -- who?” 

 

The last she recalled was sitting in her bed, tempting him into her arms with blood dripping from her toes and vodka on her breath. She remembered the clean, white flesh of her bare belly, and his hands -- wide and of a darker shade -- roaming across her legs. And an embrace, a tight and meaningful hold that had conveyed to her much more than was probably ever intended. But his questions interjected her memories with static like stabs of white noise. Her brain burned in agony at these white patches of erased time and space as she tried so hard to fixate on the meaning.

 

“What crashed? Who -- who did what? Everyone… where is everyone? What happened, Saul? Why am I here? What happened to us?”

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