Sands of Chiaroscuro

Transcripts! First of Many!

Hey all! As I said I’d be posting transcripts of the RP that has been done and this is the first installment! It’s going to take a while since it’s 500+ pages of material but it’ll get done eventually! This takes place from when EM first came to the safehouse the same day as her exaltation.

The safehouse, if it could be called that, looked… a mess. Deep in the northern suburbs of the city, next to the border of the dead zone, the habitat was constructed crudely, the stone hefted onto itself without thought of mortar or plaster alike, jagged scars running through to let wind and light alike play in a dance over the dust-and-debris coated floor. A broken, wooden door hangs on it’s hinges, the frame able to hold it standing so long as it doesn’t open. A single, boarded window colors the outside of the building, a small slit at the base showing into the single, trashed room within, a table, and two chairs showing in the patches of light, a bottle of liquor still sitting where the previous occupants had left it. Broken pottery is strewn in the corner, with a malicious odor arising, of urine and vomit, death, and fear. Blood stains can be seen in amongst the shards, small black-brown streaks that bely the history of the house. Amazingly, the single hammock that sits in the opposite corner seemed quite homely; thick furred blankets wrapped over and under the netting, making for a nest worthy of even the furthest-north barbarians, covering silken sheets that seemed to shimmer a scene of green and pink, a patterned dye showing a butterfly in flight over a garden. In the street around, vagrants of all callings seem to shift into the scenery, merging into buildings through doors and holes in walls, shadows, and alleyways, ignored by and ignoring the world around them.

Early morning attempts to enter as unobtrusively as possible, glancing slightly at the hammock before ignoring it completely. It was at such odds with the space that she didn’t feel comfortable with it. Slightly clearing a space in a corner, away from the most apparent smells of urine and the like she puts down her bundle of knicknacks that she had found underwater wrapped in her ragged clothing, bunching it up slightly to serve as a bit of a pillow before placing it on the the ground and using it as a cushion to sit on, leaning against the wall, glad to be out of the sun. The bundle being all her worldly goods now that she was entirely to wary to go back to get the belongings that she had had before all this had happened. Idly, she amuses herself, bouncing small broken pottery pieces against the wall lightly, not enough to make much in the way of noise.

The day seems to move with agonizing slowness, the sun shifting in it’s eternal cycle overhead, staring with intense heat at the city below, the clay of the street sizzling with a sheen of shifting air, the walkway empty for the most part, with only the occasional jade-armored figure, or cloth-padded caravan rolling through the street. As midday rolls to the point of breaking, a shadow sharply across the windowframe, cutting the light before a solid sound of grasping comes from the door working. With a steady creak, it begins to pull outwards.

Early morning remains quiet, though her muscles are tensed to run should there be danger. She stops throwing pottery shards and waits quietly, watchful to see who the intruder is. One hand to the side, casually gathering up a bit of dirt/dust in case in a getaway she’d need to fling such in someone’s eyes.

The door opens with a pondering determination, revealing the oven without, the stonework seeming to twist in the mirage from baking. Standing above, hunched lightly to fit through the door, a massive form of black armor reaches in, as if to hold the roof in place, before it crouches into the room, the armor gliding silently against itself, not even giving the slight sound of friction as it moves with an uncanny grace. Once within, the form reaches behind itself, grasping the door just as firmly, and just as easily, pulls it closed and jammed once more, the wood protesting before being forced into place regardless. The helm, a carapace of blackened sheen and glistening metal, turns to face the girl in the corner, holding only a moment before a grunt can be heard, almost a parody of speech uttered by the figure’s urgings. Only a few words, if they are, before it turns to the corner with the hammock, and lets a shuddering sigh loose. With uncanny silence and without the lumbering a huge form would normally convey, the figure moves to the corner still unfilled, and stops.

Early morning blinks and shrugs to herself, not stupid enough to deny being intimidated by the massive figure, that they haven’t broken her skull like a melon gives the feeling that they don’t particularly care about her presence. Even so she makes a small announcement, beginning to idly draw in the dust with another piece of chipped pottery, “Raven said I could stay here for a time.” before going back to trying to keep her mind from sinking into abject boredom and her body from overheating with the small amount of movement that she’s been making for a while yet, trying to wear her nerves out of their frenzied and frazzled state so that she could actually start planning what she was going to do with herself besides getting caught and forced to marry someone who probably would gain control over her because of her youth and inexperience. Not to mention that scary Earth dragon blooded finding her. She wanted to put that off indefinitely, though she didn’t mind the weird creepy kid all that much, he didn’t hurt her after all.

The figure shifts slightly, the head rising to regard her pointedly, as though now taking notice of her properly. The voice again, within it’s shell

“Hmmph-gurph-m’krrrl”

“Er… I can’t understand what you’re saying…” She trails off, the heat getting to her causing her lassitude in the afternoon despite having lived in this part of the world as long as she can remember, her nut tan skin, acclimated to the sun’s harsh rays still didn’t like them and was thankful for the shade.

The figure watches her silently as the words seem to sink in, before the head dips, a nod, and another sigh. A hand reaches out, pointing with a slow motion to the hammock, and another nod. Then, the finger points at the girl once more, and the urging again.

“Nph”

The hand moves, pointing now at the bulk of itself. The voice again, masculine, possibly in the tone

“M’krrrl.”

Early morning takes a few seconds to understand the meaning of the gestures before realizing, “Ah, you’re M’krrrl then? My name is Early morning.” She pays close attention to imitating the figure’s name.

Another grunt, and it lowers it’s arm, slowly squatting at the same time, coming to an apparent rest, and silence. Seated near the window, the figure covers the window entirely, shade now filling the room, and with it a noticeable drop in the heat of the air. After a few minutes, another grunt can be heard, this one again in an imitation of speech.

“Rrrlgh-Mrrngh”

Early morning gives a bit of a smile, “Yeah, rather long winded isn’t it? I’m beginning to think that it may have been an in joke from whatever parents I had that it may have something to do with the time of either conception or birth. They’re dead tho so can’t ask them, All they left me with was this mouthful of a name.”

Another sigh, another nod. As that finishes, the metal face sliding back to it’s original place, there is no more motion, the form seated on the pottery without problem or cramping, apparently. Outside, another set of lumbering needra pulled another cart through the furnace of the street, some mercenaries joking about collecting ‘slaves’ before leaving the city, with raucous laughter echoing through the shadows once more.

If nothing else needs attention or seems to have importance, Early morning falls asleep, seated on her small amount of worldly possessions.

As Early Morning passes out, a slight sensation of calm washes over her, as though something, or someone, was holding her, comforting her. Holding her up on her seat of many things. Sleep, however, comes too swiftly to sense.

Early Morning doesn’t take note of the fact that this is odd, reveling somewhat in the comfortable sensation.

The first thing that she sees, landing on a softened surface, albeit in complete darkness. From immediate examination, it feels… cushioned, but something heavy rests on both her wrists.

Blinking in surprise she looks at her wrists first, the ground, the next thing under scrutiny. The ground wasn’t soft, falling on mud or sand wasn’t soft, how the heck was this ground soft? And she hadn’t had anything on her wrists that she could remember…

Feeling her wrists, she would find two bands, seemingly made of leather, that wrap across both wrists, without adornment, but with what feels like some form of carving along the inside. The ground, however, feels cloth-covered, as though somehow a bed that extends for at least as far as she can reach, spongy in texture.

She instead of standing, carefully begins to make her way across the soft ground beneath her on all fours, not knowing when the mattress will end but also knowing that mattresses can’t go on forever. She searches for some kind of light, something to better see her surroundings and what the heck was on her wrists.

As she begins to make her way along the soft ground, a voice calls out from nearby, deep in tone, but not having any location noteworthy
“Going somewhere?”

Pausing for a second and continuing on, trying to find some kind of a corner with her questing hands to give her some kind of thing to give her bearings, “Where am I?”

Moving for a lot longer before anything happens, she does stumble across what would be considered a landmark of sorts; a single pillow, sequined, with a furred side underneath. The pillow feels somewhat more solid than her ‘ground’ at present, and she can feel warmth coming from it. The voice intones once more, resonating with a slight sound of amusement

“In my realm, girl. And you, are mine!”

Grasping the pillow, she looks nonplussed, only the very rich would do such a thing as to stud a pillow with hard uncomfortable sequins. It really went against everything a pillow was. “And who are you?” she asks somewhat disgruntled, she didn’t like being kept in the dark figuratively.

The voice laughs, an echo sounding in the darkness around her, a hollow, mocking tone to it, like a small child taking joy in the struggles of a hapless kitten. The bands over both wrists burn lightly, as though heated from within, and she hears the voice call quietly, once again only within her mind.

“Those that follow me know of my name in their dreams, and tremble. I am the one who carries the desires of your mind, who learns of the secret wishes of your loins, and who whispers of carnality into your slumber. I am… Hypnocrates”

“Ow! Hey!” she tries to pry the bands off of her wrists, “Yeah, well whoever you are, I can’t say I’m impressed or see a point to this, so how about you let me sleep in peace? I need the rest.” She picks at the bands, trying to find a fastener or a seam, or something to get them off.

The bands soothe after a moment, before something, or someone unseen suddenly seems to grasp them, pulling them both sharply into the air.
“Your impression is not my concern. It is… the unkept desires that call to me…”

“Let me go!” She tugs at her bracers with all the strength in her arms, which isn’t much given that she’s a skinny mostly underfed 17 year old street rat.

The voice echoes with laughter again, before giving her arms a twist, curling them both behind her head, and then sharply downwards, to hold both behind her back. Hypnocrates, this time openly, speaks through the darkness as a slight breeze can be felt brushing over her, through her thin clothing

“I am not the one holding you, Morning. It is your lusts that chain you down…”

“Bullshit!” she struggles against her restraints trying to get her arms freed, or in a different position, because if her hands couldn’t free her maybe her teeth could.

A distinct feeling of pressure crosses both breasts, sliding from left to right, over her clothing, and a slight cool sensation can be felt afterward, as something wet is left behind. Where her clothing is soaked, a slight tingling can be felt against her skin.

“Then why aren’t you free? You are, like any other mortal creature, powerless against your desires. And in the realm of Hypnocrates, all things that you desire have reality.”

She squirms even more, her face twitching a bit in irritation and disgust. “Ewww….” She kicks upward, trying to hit whatever just decided to slobber all over her front. “Ick! Did you have to do that? Gah! I need a new shirt now!” Early morning keeps bitching.

The sensation rubs back the opposite way, this time leaving more of the fluid against her, this time curling lightly in a fashion that suggests it’s not an arm, but a tentacle, that now harasses her form. The voice continues to laugh

“Then tell yourself that the same fluid does not build between your thighs! Deny your lusts, honestly, and you may just yet get free!”

“Of course I’m denying it! This is disgusting and I can’t see anything! And you’re mucking up my shirt. Ewww…” she gets a more horrified look on her face, “Is that what I think it is?” she tries to kick at whatever it is again, “Get it off! Get it off!”

The voice laughs harder as she complains, the ‘tentacle’ ignoring her completely as it continues it’s licentious molestering of her breasts, curling around both equally, before sliding off across both nipples. Hypnocrates, however, seems just as amused as before.

“I see! So your complaint is about your clothing? Very well then. I will ‘get it off’.”

With a sudden, swiping motion, multiple smaller tentacles launch at her, slapping with a sting when they strike her, across the sides and breasts, stomach and, to a lesser extent, face. Relying on her surprise and shock to keep her still (in a relative sense), most then grasp at the front of her shirt, pulling back away with just as much force, looking to tear it open from her body

Early Morning demands, “What do you mean ‘get it off-’” she’s momentarily shocked into silence by the stinging slaps before protesting again, “No! Leave my shirt alone! I meant this disgusting slime! Get away from me!” Having some kind of bearing as to where the tentacles are because of what they’re doing to her shirt, she kicks out in that direction, trying to dislodge them from her and hopefully hurt this twisted… thing.

“You find it truly disgusting? I know what you found every time you watched the whores rutting in the streets, with sailors or soldiers of more… comfortable… physique. That heat, you would take to your sleep. And that, is what gave birth to your torment now.”

She would, indeed, hit at least a couple of the tentacles as they retreat with shreds of her shirt-front, the ‘flesh’ rubbery beneath her kick, but those pseudopods retreating faster than their brethren. Almost as quickly, however, the larger one is returned to her breasts, a second one now, however, also coiling across the back of her pants, giving one buttock an almost playful squeeze.

“Free yourself, Early Morning! Accept what you want into your core, and revel in it! This is your calling!”

“Hell no!” Early Morning is completely disgusted and turned off by the very notion and the example that was put forth, the main reason that she didn’t like/want sex was seeing those very diseased whores old and deformed while still young, and the poor wives that were churning baby after baby out that didn’t fare much better. In her mind sex led to those two fates for the most part and she had not a smidgen of desire for it. Heck, the closest thing that she had gotten to a pleasurable experience was that massage a couple of days ago and she’d even been uncomfortable during that!

“Get the hell away from me and leave me alone! Go spout what you think are ‘temptations’ to someone who doesn’t totally hate the thought of them!” She glares and tries to ‘aim’ for the tentacle assaulting her breasts, thinking of doing as much damage to it as possible.

The tentacle on her breasts is a little hard to reach, being on her chest, and the position of her body. Though with the vehemence of her disgust, there is a sudden pausing, as the reality of the realm she is in shifts faintly. For the first time in a long time, Hypnocrates feels the compulsion of a girl disinterested in being raped by the tentacle-beasts he had been paid by for that very purpose. This concern, however, only lasts a short time, before the beast acts on it’s own accord, to release her breasts, and arms, albeit the one on her behind does remain.

Early morning immediately twists to get away from the tentacle and it’s purchase on her behind. Stumbling backwards away from it, her hands taking as much purchase on the soft ground/mattress below her as her legs since it doesn’t offer support for walking, or reckless fleeing in this case. “Just… Leave me alone. Let me sleep.”

With a slight shudder, the reality she is in begins to dissolve, the floor beginning to buckle and soften further beneath her, dropping away partially beneath her feet. As the dissolution continues, Hypnocrates’ voice can be heard in an echo

“You were asleep, Morning. That was your dream that you just ripped apart… We will see you again, howeve-…”

Morning wakes with a realization of gravity

Morning startles awake, falling to the side in her surprise, broken potter hard against her side on the dirty floor as she groans and picks herself up, taking note of her surroundings and any changes with them, a little thankful that while she was dusty and dirty, she wasn’t slimy. “More a nightmare.” she mumbles to herself.

Landing on the crockery-strewn ground doesn’t seem to be the worst of her troubles, however, as Morning’s morning is brought to bear, there is a single, metal boot in front of her face, the foot easily the size of her head. A single, metal hand presses against her shoulder and back, and a deep, possibly masculine voice urges in the shade above her.

“Rrlgh-Mrrng. Ghhllll”

“Um… M’krrrl? I still can’t understand you, sorry.” She cranes her neck, trying to look up at him fully.

The hand tightens on her shoulder, keeping her down, and pushing with more than a little heaviness into the floor, the broken crockery pitting into her skin in more than a few places.

“Mggghl Rlnng!”

“Er… I’ll stay down here it looks like? Could you take a little weight off though? The broken shards are rather digging into my skin…” She stops craning her neck and keeps very still and quiet after speaking.

In the street, there is a sound of boots getting closer, and a crunching of masonry, before a loud thumping on a nearby door. An authoritative voice calls out soundly nearby.

“Open up! In the name of the watch. We’re looking for a girl, thought to be in the pay of the Anathema!”

M’krrrl lets go of her, lifting his bulk to shift slowly around, one foot ponderously swinging by as he rotates to face the door

Early morning blinks but remains plastered to the ground where he left her, she didn’t know how good he was at judging his surroundings in that armor but she didn’t want him to accidently misstep and fatally smush her. Taking her leather hair tie out and readjusting it so that the half pigtail was turned into a tight ponytail, allowing the barely noticeably scarred side of her face to be uncovered from it’s usual curtain of hair. Her vision in that eye wasn’t all that bad, just a tad misted, and it would help her to peripherally know where his boots were stepping.

The sounds across the street continue, as the watch guards seem to be intent on ‘questioning’ the occupants, and searching the building. No sounds of breaking can be heard from either; no, they haven’t seen a girl of your description, m’lord. Surely the wisdom of the five dragons would lead them to this scoundrellous traitor? The voices stop, after a time, taking their leave, and heading to the door of the building you were in. Twin shadows appear beneath the doorframe, booted feet beyond in the morning light, one wreathed in dust that seems to well in through the crack. A heavy knock sounds, rattling the thin wood and, indeed, pulling dust from the ceiling lightly. The same voice calls in it’s confident tone.

“Open up! In the name of the watch!”

Early Morning glances up at the ceiling sprinkling dust on her in irritation, she had hoped that a ‘safe house’ would equate to Raven somewhere she wouldn’t likely be disturbed. She was still shaky after the past few days and had only wanted a little bit of time to herself, to figure things out, get her head on straight. This also completely ruined what plans that she had had for this evening, namely waiting till the sun wasn’t so unbearable and purchasing some thread to mend her old garments and maybe a hair brush, there was just so much one could do to thread fingers through in hopes of getting rid of tangles. Still she was more afraid of being stepped on than anything else right now so she stayed put. Maybe the nice guards would let her be instead of making her cry and beating the crap out of her like they had been usually inclined to in the past. Really it was good she had quit trying to be a thief some time ago, if she’d kept it up she’d be a crippled idiot, they’d already slightly impaired vision in one eye after all and scarred that side of her face a little, though that was usually covered up by her thick hair. If she didn’t think that the sun would fry her scalp off she would have shaved the troublesome mass off long ago, it was like she had some kind of a limp animal on her head at times, one that decided to make it impossible for her to get cool.

With a push, M’krrrl grips the door solidly, lifting it completely aside, as the hinges finally give up their attempt at holding together, the door coming aside in his? grasp. Standing directly in front of the entrance, the massive form completely blocks the view from outside; though the two sets of armored boots can be seen from between his legs; one with elemental earth coiling around quickly.

Early Morning remains still and silent, watching the scene…. well watching M’krrrl’s back and remaining quiet. Don’t want to startle the big figure after all, don’t want to get stepped on….

The voice seems to pause, not taking the normal stride that it had with the prior house, instead remaining silent for a good few seconds; enough time for M’krrrl to speak instead, his form a blockade against observation.any further into the building.

“Mrrrrrr?”

Early Morning remains quiet, though muses on how that sound is more like that of a kitty than seeming to be actual speech.

The guards, seeming to have lost their train of thought at the juggernaut, recover quickly, with the earth-blood taking his normal tone once again, as he does, he seems to try to lean past, to no avail, the creature’s arm blocking even the slit in the window as it rests, casually, on the nearby wall.

“You there! We’re looking for a girl-”

Early morning presses herself to the ground. being extra quiet now, still looking where the large person’s feet were, somewhat interested in what was going on. She really didn’t think that Raven would send her someplace routinely searched, this must be an odd occurrence. She didn’t think that the guards usually came about places like this, too many nasty smells.

The earth-blood guard, now irritated by the large figure’s presence, begins to speak louder, aggressively, over the protest of his air-blooded comrade

“You! I don’t care whether you are in the mood to deal with us or not! By imperial mandate, I order you to stand-”

A loud shouting begins to come from another side of the building, and a brief shadow flickers overhead, through a hole in the roof that Morning seems to have overlooked given the wreckage of the construction already. A heavy thump, followed by a crashing, comes from the roadside, and all three armored figures look startled (as much as M’krrrl seems able to look startled, anyway). The voice, however, was immediately obvious in it’s message before being thrown into a nearby neighborhood.

“Anathema! Alarm! Anathe-”

Early Morning presses herself closer to the ground, broken sharp pottery shards or no. Looking forward, she spies the hammock, lavishly bedecked in soft blankets and such. With the three distracted with whatever had cried out that alarm she silently makes her way over there, using her thieving training to move undetected, even with the distraction. Moving on her fingertips and her booted toes, her possessions balanced on her lower back as her whole body holds taut in the movement she moves forward to the area under the lavish hammock. Taking her small bundle and bringing it up to her midriff she tucks herself on the floor under the hammock, carefully pulling a few blankets half off as if they had been flung aside on their owner vacating it, but concealing her. Feeling helpless at the whole situation, wanting to run but unable to, not stupid enough to run from guards, and not stupid enough to reveal herself especially when the yelling made everyone so damn twitchy. She only had the option of hiding, her small frame indistinguishable in the corner, her thinness allowing her to collapse in a ball that younger children would be hard pressed at attaining. Hiding under blankets, and darn near crying too, why wouldn’t people leave her be? Or her surroundings for that matter? Moisture gathered in her eyes but she didn’t dare whimper, even though getting even more upset and confused than before. She waited for even more shit to hit the fan.

The two guards, startled at the show of obvious violence, begin to make their way past the building altogether, while M’krrrl turns to where he had seen you last. No longer being able to spot you, he makes a noise akin to “Hmph”, before he turns back to his spot in the wall, one hand casually jamming the door once more into it’s place. Sounds of combat can be heard behind the wall, which move rapidly further into the area of the rooftops.

Early Morning pulls the blankets to the side to look at him, “What was that?” her head sticks out from the tent under the hammock, the side of her face that has a spiderweb pattern of old scars, not big enough individually to deform her face exposed since she has her hair pulled back. There’s smears of dirt on her cheeks from wiping her eyes with her sleeves.

The statuesque form looks over at the hammock, his expression covered by the metal of his armor. He shifts, lowering himself to the floor, and giving her a nod, shifting his head with an audible cracking of bone as he seems to stretch his neck. The sounds of combat seem to leave rapidly, although the alarm seems to increase quickly, before soon there is silence, other than the sounds of some of the nearby houses emptying to see what the business was all about. M’krrrl seems to think a time before he rummages into a big sack tied to his belt, pulling out a handful of stale looking crumbs and clumps of some bread, he holds his hand out towards you, rumbling as he does.

“Unnngh. Yaaaaaaaagh rrrrrt.”

Early Morning scoots from under the hammock to hold out her hands to accept the bread, smiling at him. He was a good roomie, as long as he didn’t step on her she was happy to have him, even if she couldn’t precisely understand what he said.

As she seems to finish the bread, the armor moves silently once more, bringing a very well polished casket from the depths of it’s sack, holding it out like a thimble in it’s grasp. Once again, the urging.

“Nnnnn’k!”

She reaches up quizzically to take it, looking at him in confusion, “What is this?”

The hand moves again, urging once more

“Nnn’k.”

Early Morning carefully opens it.

Inside smells of nothing at all, however, to the touch it is both cool, and heavy. Within, a small opening shows a liquid flowing motion that moves back and forth. At seeing your expression, M’krrrl imitates drinking, holding his own massive hand to his mouth, and tilting his head back.

“Nnn’k!”

Early Morning smiles at him and drinks, the stale bread taste being washed away by the much needed liquid in the current heat of the late day.

The water is both cool (amazingly), and crisp, no flavor to it’s body while she drinks. If she drinks eagerly, then there is only about a cup’s worth within the bulk of the flask, quick to be devoured.

Morning drinks but doesn’t glut herself on the water, knowing that consuming it too fast might make her queasy. Having taken her fill she closes it and hands it back to M’krrrl. “Thanks!” She chirps as she gives him a friendly grin.

The being doesn’t say anything, but nods in return, before putting the cask back into his sack once more. After a few moments, he looks at her, tilting his head.

“Rrrrgh rrrrrh?”

His voice sounds… quizzical, perhaps?

“What is it?” She questions back, looking quizzical herself.

The figure growls, and repeats itself, elaborating.

“Rrrgh ghh rrrh? Rrrrlgh Mrrrrrngh”

Early Morning shakes her head, “I’m sorry but I still can’t understand what you are saying. The only part I caught there was I think my name. Can you write? The floor is dirty enough to make marks in I think?”

The figure seems to take heart from the thought, and with quick motions, moves the table with a ‘thump’ against the wall, before pausing, looking at the ground. Taking a finger, he begins to trace, carefully, line after shakey line in the dust and muck.

*The text, when he is done, reads:

JMMDL***HNNS***KKM**4; ((including *s for the completely unintelligible scrawlings.))

Seeming pleased with his handiwork, M’krrrl sits up, and speaks, in his own way, with full confidence.

“Rrrgh rh ggh rrrh?”

Early Morning looks over the scratchings, “Hmm… From what I can see that didn’t come out exactly understandable either… It’s obvious that you can write from the letters that I can understand.” She looks up at him, “Is something preventing you from using language?” she asks, “The best we can do in that case is charades and yes or no questions I think…”

With a growl, M’krrl deflates, sagging as though his pride had just been hit. Shaking his head slowly, the armored body seems to shift back, sitting on the floor once again with amazing quietude. He seems to wait for a time.

Early Morning stands up and pats him on the shoulder, “Hey, it’s alright, we all have things that we can’t do.” She turns her head so that the slightly scarred side of her face is showing, “Not being able to communicate through speaking isn’t that bad. Look what I got from failing to be an even adequate thief. Got the side of my face torn up by a guard’s fist, not being able to talk can’t be nearly as painful, so cheer up!” Early Morning tries to raise his spirits.

M’krrrl shudders, the ground shaking lightly as he begins to stand slowly, the building loosing dust from the ceiling when he reaches it with his head. Hearing the sound of anathema-related combat leaving further from the house, he reaches easily across the gap of the house to the door, gripping it tightly and pulling it free.

In the sudden burst of sunlight, the black armor across his body really does begin to look less like armor, and more like a carapace; the plates glistening with some inherent life of their own as they effortlessly and silently slide and fuse with one another over his form. The shadow he casts through the room is more than enough to keep the sun’s reflected heat from being too uncomfortable, but the wind, carrying the clay outside’s oven-baked temperature, seems to hit like a furnace being opened.

On the scenery outside, a number of people seem to be, of all things, complaining vocally about the Tri-Khan having let the Dragon Blooded in as many number as they were into the city.

Having come out of their roughly searched homes, some seem in rapid argument in the local tongue (Delzhan), some with smatterings of Realm Imperial, and further down the road, a woman angrily banters at someone in the melodic callings of the Lap. The common theme outside, however, is aggression at the Terrestrial’s presence.

In the distance, the guild and local merchants compete for audial dominance in the markets; even here, you can distinctly catch the trails that ‘Cynis Yelkim Barak sells the cheapest stonefruits this side of Great Forks! No where else will the flesh be sweater, the juice thicker!’.

Amidst that, the flags of nobility seem to flutter in the wind’s agitation, making the noble’s district tense if the superstition is to be listened to. Elsewhere, the guards of the city, the pride of the Chiaroscuro army, make a show of their post along the wall with a fanfare and fluster of scimitars and spears, something of enough of a splendor at the midday and evening guards that parents would occasionally bring their sprats to watch it – an hour’s entertainment or two for the young eyes at the flashing of steel and perfectly synchronized motion of the guards essentially drilling their weapon strikes at each other.

Just outside of the region you are in, the dead quarter reeks of rot and sickness, Grandmother Bright unable to do much against the smells that would escape the dead still within that area. Despite the work of hundreds of civil servants, those killed by the Contagion still number in the thousands who are yet to be buried properly, an ever-present threat against those wishing to keep their soul within their forms.

Nearby, there is a strong pang of scented oils carried on the wind, and there is a slight shout of someone calling the rules of a duel to first blood – the right of anyone who can trace their ancestry back to Kha-Khan, the legendary founder of the massive city of red glass, clay, and jade.
Looking back at Early Morning, the juggernaut tilts his head in an apparent question.

“Mrrr ghll rrrgh k’mrrrgh?”

Early Morning looks up at him confused, “I’m sorry but I still can’t understand what you’re saying.” Looking at the door and the blast of heat and reek she wrinkles her nose, “Could you shut the door? You’re letting the heat in. And that’s really cool armor by the way,” She smiles up at him, making her way over to the corner in hopes that the shadiness of it will ward off the heat a bit. “If you don’t move the door back you’re going to get all crispified too in this heat.” she warns.

M’krrrl steps out into the daylight sun, shielding his face with a single outstretched hand as he does, turning, unmindful of the heat, as he looks back at the girl in the doorframe. His voice quietens, taking a more serious tone.

“Kmm.” A second’s pause, then: “Rgh. Mghh.”

A hand beckons to her from the street, before he repeats himself. “Kmm”

Picking herself up and dusting herself off she nods, “Alright,” Smiling at the giant person, and following him inquisitively.

The street below burns lightly, as is expected of the clay in the sunshine, but he begins to hurry despite, or perhaps because of it, darting with surprising nimbleness through the street towards a destination he didn’t seem willing – or able – to mention. Soon, they seem to pass a grisly scene – a single, cleanly severed leg dangles from a nearby gutter, blood having sprayed violently from it onto the wall below, the jade armor matching the color of the guard who had been intent on trying to pry past the large thing. Without pause, he continues, only stopping if she does – his tone occasionally coming out as he moves.

“Kmm! Krklgh!”

Early Morning doesn’t stop, having seen glimpses of such things before on the streets. It was safer to play ’don’t ask, don’t tell’ than anything. She averts her eyes from the limb, hurring behind him.

Before too long, the massive ‘person’ stops at a single building, Looking back at her, he gestures to the door, no sign or markings showing that this place is any different to any others on the street. Within, however, is also an eerie quiet, as though somehow the graves of the northern quarter seemed… buried into here.

Early Morning’s voice is a bit hushed as she turns back to M’krrrl, “Um, this place is creepy…” She bites her lower lip in nervousness, “Can’t we go to someplace less eerie?”

M’krrrl shakes his head, urging once more with his hand to the doorway. Even in the heat of the sun, the place seems to have an unnatural chill emanating from it, like the damned were waiting. Like a pit into the abyss of death.

In the distance, a dog barks, and a child screams in disturbance. The thick smell of ginger and spices wafts nearby – rich man’s food.

Hesitantly she steps within the doorway, looking back at M’krrrl with concern before taking a look about her surroundings within the building, her hands coming up and rubbing her upper arms in the chill of the place.

Within the darkened building, seems to be scavengings of the burned wreckage of an immaculate temple; a thick alter depicting the five dragons in their glory, arched whalebone-style beams roughly held in their original place by the forces of nails and screws, and artifacts of obvious religious significance. Around this, however, on the walls, seems to be ornate paintings of a man; descending from the air on wings and looking to the city from his place in the desert. Around him, thousands of warriors spring from the sand, and together, they take the city from it’s prior occupants in a bloody battle. The five dragons smile on him, and bless him not only with wealth, and children, but also with peace and trade, the Scarlet Empress herself bringing news of acceptance and warmth. It is a story familiar to anyone who opted into the public education given by the local loretellers, storytellers, and old men keen to recount history. The Kha-Khan, the man who made Chiaroscuro into a city, as opposed to a ruined den of thieves and bandits.

Early Morning turns back to M’krrrl again, looking at him in confusion, “Um, Why did you bring me here?” Giving another glace about the room she moves back to the doorway, “This place gives me the creeps.”

Walking into the room as well, M’krrrl makes his way, almost reverently to the wall, gesturing to the first image, the Kha-Khan descending from the skies. He then points at Morning, before pantomiming some action involving both arms being up, like a play at jumping or diving.

“Rrrgh”.

Without pausing, he then moves around to where the waters part for the Kha-Khan, allowing him to meet the Scarlet Empress. Again, he points back to her.

“Rrrgh.” – This time, he pantomimes swimming.

Early Morning stares at him still in plain confusion.

Walking his way to the altar, M’krrrl very carefully makes a gesture of Immaculate submission, and then kneels, gesturing only to the side to beckon her over.

She comes over next to him and kneels down as well, though never having put much faith really in anything intangible, it’s still good to show respect to what the person who looks like they could smush you like a grape is paying respect to no matter how friendly they seem.

For a long time, M’krrrl doesn’t even seem to move, before the door cracks open again, and a tall female, dressed in black and scarlet armor – jade, perhaps, but very vicious in tone and color; jagged spikes erupt from her form like spines from a pineapple. Looking inwards, she seems surprised to note the occupants, but then nods, respectfully.

Early Morning stays quiet, not moving from where she is, simply relishing right now the quiet and coolness of the room, no matter how creepy it’s origin seems to be.

The female walks into the room properly, the door swishing almost silently behind her, crossing the room to the pair of you, and dipping in a quick mark or respect, before muttering in a low tone, something almost menacing in it’s inflection. Besides Morning, M’krrrl begins to rumble faintly.

Feeling very awkward Morning remains silent.

The female, seeming to notice the threat, turns to look at the massive being. Seeming to regard him for the first time, her expression changes to one of disgust.

“Wyld thing – stay your tongue. I am Sesus Evaja, and my business here is with the god that uses this holy place as a sanctum. Do you dispute my right, as one of the chosen, to do so?”

Early Morning does what did for years on the streets where there was some dispute she didn’t want to get involved with, which is to say all of them, pretend to be invisible. It might not work but it was comforting on a mental level.

M’krrrl seems content to accept that, though begrudgingly, and as he relaxes, he falls back into a pattern of prayer once more. The female, seeming to notice, turns to Morning instead.

“And you, uh… girl? Do you have any quarrel with my seeking the god of this temple?”

Early Morning shakes her head, indicating that she has no problem at all with it.

Satisfied, the dragon-blood turns her attention back to the prayer, or chant, she had been reciting. Almost immediately, a spectral form steps forth from the ether, an angry-looking old man with silvered skin and bronze fingernails, who looks not at the Sesus girl, but at Morning directly.

Like always when reality decides to make it clear that Early Morning is not invisible she is somewhat put out. Though she’s till sticking with her thoughts that this place is still very creepy but it is nice that it is cool, though she doubts that this is some god of cool rooms. Though in this city that kind of god might be very practical and well liked for such an effect.

A voice echoes quietly in the room, although the ‘god’ doesn’t seem to move even it’s lips.

“Why ask, when you are too blind to see her next to you, Sesus?”

It’s laughter seems irate.

Early Morning blinks, wishing that reality didn’t go to the trouble of putting up big signs about her neck, especially when those that apparently read them were reading ’let’s mess with the street rat today!’ Why were so many interested in her anyway? She just wanted peace and quiet and to be left alone, but nooo…. Morning’s face goes into a deadpan as this line of thought runs through her head.

The female turns to look at her in stark amazement, and disbelief.

“That?!”

The god, laughing mockingly, looks back at her openly, his posture straightening.

“No, of course not! Your own ignorance keeps you from seeing the real new Exalt. It’s the cockroach on the floor nearby, of course. Stupid wench.” – Without waiting for it’s obviously aggressive response, the god vanishes into the ether from where it came.

Sesus Evaja looks at Morning in continued disbelief.

The girl, having finished eying Morning up and down, smiles blithely.

“I wouldn’t have expected it. But such is the scheme of things. Stand up, I want to have a good look at you.”

Beside her, M’krrrl growls a bit louder, obviously uncomfortable with the way the trip to his temple had turned out. The girl, however, seems content to ignore him utterly, her weight shifting to one leg as she looks Morning over, her expression a mixture of wry amusement, annoyance, impatience, and stark pity. In the dimmer light, the spines on her armor seem to glisten with some form of demonic inner glow.

Early Morning grumbles, not looking happy with this turn of events, “Why is every day ’let’s pick on the street rat day?” She sighs and gets up, though then she makes for the door, as if ignoring random somewhat nonthreatening dragon blooded is something that she did often.

Calling out into the room, Sesus Evaja snickers to herself, watching to see the girl’s reaction to the comment, and expecting her to either run, or be astounded.

“Sister! You’ve been lost a very long time now.”

Early Morning turns and lifts a brow, “I’m sorry but I don’t recall ever having any siblings, and would much rather stay that way. Bye!” Early Morning decides that turning tail and running now would be the best course of action. Intending on leading her away from the ‘safehouse’ till she could lose her then looping back.

Breaking into a grin, Sesus laughs, tightening her hands into fists as she begins to bound after the running urchin, glad for the chase. Inwardly, she had been hoping to make the assignment more interesting than a simple offer-and-acceptance, and her blunt, tactless approach gave her what she wanted, and she was pretty sure she could keep it from her father that the girl had been spooked into running from her. But no matter – the hunt was on finally. And with ample spending of small charges of essence, the dragonblood began to leap from the road to the rooftop, following her ‘prey’ with almost wild abandon.

“Sister! We only want to share our house with you!”

“Pfft! It’s probably messy!” Early Morning calls back, she enjoyed a good chase at times as well, though the enjoyment often was tempered by necessity. Now though she could run and mock the one chasing her, since she was fairly sure that this dragon blooded wasn’t going to beat her senseless as others, and the guards were wont to do. She takes a winding path through the various alleyways, attempting to lose her under eaves and other overhangs, changing her direction most often under these, not bothering too look up and around her as that would slow her down. She blanks her mind of everything but the run and the evasion, and the snide little comments to be tossed back at her pursuer.

As she dips beneath eaves, or verandas, Evaja just leaps easily to the opposite side of the street, nearly knocking one roofier flying as she lands with the grace of a sparrow on the tiles he had been layering, not knocking them aside or losing her footing, running across the beam nimbly, before darting once more to the side she had been sprinting along.

“So you’d fit right in? We have a kennel if that would suit you better than a bed?” She laughs – the same insult had been given to her that morning by her brother.

Early Morning grins and strafes backwards, back into the alleyway she was about to come out of, “Ooh. Good one, Though I doubt you know what a kennel looks like since if you went near one in those spikes all the dogs would be dead!” She switches direction again, not really thinking of where she’s going to keep up the unpredictability of her movements, enjoying what had in her mind, degenerated into a game.

Noting her sudden absence, the dragonblood concentrates, pushing off the wall with tremendous strength, leaving a slight indent as the wall caves slightly beneath her force, flipping backwards across the road and into the alley itself, her hands gently continuing her impromptu flight as she turned to avoid hitting the fleeing girl.

“At least we’re not Cynis, they’d only be dead! Besides-” The retort is cut short as the local guards suddenly cry out in alarm and warning from nearby, apparently roused from their laziness from the activity on the road. Cursing, Evaja kicks from the wall she rides alongside to slow herself into the other side.

At the guard’s shout, Early Morning’s eyes narrow in annoyance as she spits a curse herself, instead of her previous headlong enjoyable rush she ducks herself down so that she’s moving at the same pace but at a lower height so that at times she’s partially obscured by crates and bits of trash as she moves through the alley, putting extra strain on her thighs but nothing she isn’t used to, having used this low sort of run before to escape pursuit of authorities. As her movement is better controlled by her stance, her feet don’t make as much noise as she slinks/runs, picking up a clay pot that she passes in another heap of trash that has been cracked to uselessness and chucking it down the opposite direction, it crashing and breaking against the wall there, to provide some noise confusion to the now alerted guards, the dragon blooded she’d been playing with ignored now in order to avoid contact with the authorities – which usually ended painfully.

Unfortunately, unlike earlier encounters, the guards recently seemed to be on high alert – even as she throws the pot, several arrive from both ends of the alleyway, one nearly cleaned up by the pottery and darting back rapidly to avoid it. The remainder watch into the alleyway belligerently. Marching forward forcefully, one of them steps out, flaring a green aura to give an air of authority – unfortunately, it seems to work, as the very air seemed to sit still around him, a hushed tone of respectful fear that seems contagious. Striding up, he calls in a very proud tone.

“Cynis Broken Wheel! You, perpetrators against the peace, have been apprehended. Come peacefully, and the house may have mercy on you, in the BENEVOLENCE of the immaculate dragons!” Without pausing, he adds orders to the noise he makes.

“You two! Take the girl covered in fleas. You four, the armored whore.”

Early Morning sighs and stands up straight waiting for the guards to take her, annoyed that her playmate had caused attention to be brought to them with all her flashy stunts. Her face takes on a bored impassive look, since she had been though being arrested and usually smacked around before. This was nothing new. Though she did wonder why it would take two to restrain her, an underfed, scrawny street urchin, her real talent was in running, there wasn’t any way that she could overpower them once caught.

Evaja straightens, looking with a raised eyebrow at the man. “What charge, again?”

Cynis smirks. “Sesus. Disturbing the peace again? I remember what the matron said you should have done to you to keep you from acting up all the time. You four, help the others. We’re going to have some fun with these two.”

The two guards near her seem to cringe at the comment, one sighing resignedly to Morning, speaking in low tones as he takes one arm, his companion doing the same.

“We are sorry, saheed. We will be as gentle as we are able to under his watch.”

Early Morning winces at that, crap, probably a sadist, and twists her wrist about to pat the nice on that apologized on the hand briefly, not giving any fight and resigned to whatever it was that happened.

Before the guards take her, Evaja walked with deceptive speed to the other exalt, smiling at him.

“Aww. Broken Wheel. You know as well as I do what would happen if the Tri-Khan found his daughter being molestered!”

Cynis scowled broadly at the woman, almost spitting, before concern crossed his face. Looking at the guard captain nearby, he asked in a tone not quiet enough for the alley, sotto voce.

“Is that the Tri-Khan’s daughter?” The captain, not a man of noble associations, looked trapped.

“Yes, Saheed Cynis.” The lie undetected, Broken Wheel looked back at Morning again, blinking in confusion, the caste mark of elemental water flaring subtly on Evaja’s forehead before she spoke.

“See, Broken Wheel, love? The scars on her face… you remember hearing about his daughter’s accident?”

“Don’t you?”

Early Morning keeps silent initially, not wanting to be molestered herself, but also not wanting to be caught lying herself. Instead she gives her best confused puppy dog face, widening her eyes to make herself look more innocently confused. “We were just having a game of chase, helps improve reflexes. I had to wear these so that my normal clothing wouldn’t get dirty.” She speaks the truth other than the reason her other clothing was left behind, making sure to give her words and accent careful consideration. She ducks her head theatrically, eyes moving off to the side, “I don’t like talking about the accident…” she trails off softening her voice so that she seems more upset about it. though the accident was letting the guard catch her as a kid…

Cynis pauses, unsure of himself, before Evaja turns to the eight guards prompting to try to ‘apprehend’ her.

“Well, then. Come on and hurry up – the sooner we start this, the sooner it’s over, no? And you know the Matron would never want to be caught keeping the Tri-Khan’s own waiting.”

The two guards alongside Morning seem tense. Very tense, indeed, before Broken Wheel begins to laugh, suddenly and uproariously.

“You almost had me, you callous bitch! Even I thought this was actually the Tri-Khan’s whelp. But if it was… where’s the golem he has protecting her, then?” Taking a knife from his belt, he spins the golden-jade hilt in his fingers, looking at the girl with an expression she’d seen on an earth-blood just before he had tried to molester and drown her.

“Hold still, slut. I’m going to make sure those scars aren’t mistaken for anyone else’s.”

Early Morning draws back a bit in fear though not able to go far because of the guards holding her, her eyes widening in fear that is in no way feigned. Her mind panicking though there is a small part of it that is banging it’s head against the wall at Evaja’s ploy that she would pay for though technically she wasn’t the one lying her ass off.

At that moment, the guards at the back of the line give cries of alarm, drowned out only by a throated roaring that seems to be preceded by panic. The crowds from the street flood lightly into the alleyway, overcoming the guards until they too start to run, avoiding the dragon-blooded only by pressure of training from birth. With a blood-thirsty tempest of noise, M’krrrl finally catches to the end of Morning’s pursuit, slamming into the wall at the end of the alley with enough force to break the windows and wall alike, dust, plaster, and wooden debris flung into the air around him. Pulling his arm from the wall, he bellows into the alleyway, drowning the cry of surprise from the dragonblood.

MRRRRRGH RRRRRNGH!”

Evaja, not waiting to let the moment pass unused, quips without the fear present in her stomach.

“You mean that golem, Wheelie?”

Morning looks both relieved and concerned at M’krrrl’s appearance, relieved that he’s playing the rescuer, but concerned that he might get in trouble as well. “Try not to damage too much property? People don’t like that…” she manages to get out coughing a bit at the fine debris in the air.

Broken Wheel, demoralized enough to not look carefully at the ‘golem’ at the end of the alley, makes a hasty apology – sincere-sounding in his panic, before ordering the remaining guards to pull back. A rampaging golem was trouble, even if it didn’t have potential to have you executed if you fought it. Within seconds, the alley is clear, other than the angry mutant, Morning, and a cackling Evaja, who seems to be pointing the way that the Cynis man had run.

“Did you… did you see… I think he shat himself!”

Early Morning walks over to M’krrrl, and begins to dust the debris off of him, “Uh, yeah, I think we’d better leave though before your bluff is called again. You almost got me cut up if M’krrl hadn’t come when he did.” She smiles at M’krrrl. “Thanks M’krrrl, let’s go someplace where things aren’t so hectic alright? I could use a nap and you probably could as well. Sorry for ditching you like that, habit.”

M’krrrl growls still, but it seems more of a confused, accepting growl, confused why the raucous seemed to solve without a fight. Looking suspiciously at the dragon blood currently doubling over, he seems to begrudgingly accept the apology. Unfortunately, so does Sesus, who straightening up despite the spasms of her laughter, calls back.

“That’s alright – I didn’t expect you to come back with me right away. But now that twit’s gone and ruined the chase… so it’s time to talk.”

Early Morning continues getting the dirt and dust off of M’krrrl, “Lets get to another area that hasn’t had such a disturbance yet then?” She looks around at the bit of property damage, “Then we can talk.”

Evaja nods, calming herself with effort, and walking over to them, ignoring M’krrrl’s obvious aggression to her.

“The Sesus manor would be safest; and I give my word you’ll be free to leave. Guests, not prisoners.”

“I was thinking maybe just move into a different neighborhood if this talk won’t take long.” She pats M’krrrl, “I don’t think I’d be quite comfortable in a manor.”

“Then not the manor. We have gardens, you know.”

Early Morning sighs, “Fine, the gardens then, lead the way.” turning to M’krrrl she asks him, “Want to come? I’ll be back later if you don’t, but I’ll be happy to have you along.” She smiles at him.

M’krrrl growls protectively, putting one armored limb over her to hold her in place. Leaning forward, the armored place can’t be described as anything but hostile, but Sesus ignores it.

“Oh, shut up you big ball of metal. She’s willing to come along, and we’re willing to get her food and water while she rests up, and we can explain to her what happened in the river.”

Looking back at Morning, she gives a somewhat reassuring smile. “Because I was just as confused and scared when it happened to me.”

Early Morning doesn’t look impressed by her offer, “Well in any case let’s start walking, and try to be civil to my friend alright? He did save us and so far you haven’t been very nice about it.” She turns to M’krrrl, “And stop with the growling, she’s just trying to bait you. Do you want to come along then? I’d understand if you didn’t with her being nasty.”

M’krrrl growls with a huff, and stiffly steps back to let them walk. Taking the initiative, Evaja smiles, nodding at him amicably, before turning to the girl again. “Alright. This way, then? And I’m sorry – I didn’t want to offend.”

Early Morning smiles at him and gives him another friendly pat before giving a more wary look to Evaja, “Lead the way then.” and she starts following her.

Comments

42osiris

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.