Sacrum Sanguinem [OPEN!]

Phaedrus
Citizen of the World
Joined: 12:26 AM - Jan 19, 2014

5:19 PM - Feb 03, 2018 #1

“We offer these sacrifices to Nailah.”

The priestess’ voice soared above the huddle of temple-goers, their blue, black and hazel eyes swimming in a sea of faces. Smoke clung heavy to the squat, domed ceiling, black with decades of incense. Two great braziers crackled on the dais, and burnt animals smoked in the mesh above the flames.

The smell of cooking foul and feathers filled the air.

One of the gagged women stood tall. The other wept silently, voice muffled, her black hair a wash of ink against her dark face. They were dressed in the white of lambs, barefoot and washed and anointed in preparation for offering.

The priestess moved in a slow rustle of robes, lifting the sacrificial knife on her palms.

“O Great Mother,” she sang, as a priest moved forward with a bowl of sacred, red oil. He anointed the sacrifices in the symbol of Nailah, and the grease dripped down their foreheads, seeping into the gags in their mouth.

The silent woman winced, cringing into the folds of fabric.

“—we offer You blood in penance, so You may sanctify us—“

“Sanctify us,” the crowd murmured, lifting their hands in supplication and bowing.

The man took the knife from the priestess.

“—we honor these lives, and pray that their sacrifice may wash us clean—“

“O Nailah,” the murmur rippled through the crowd. Some faces shone with sweat. Others trembled and looked away. Some were rapt, their eyes mad and glistening, trained on the two women. “O Nailah…"

The olive-skinned woman shuffled forward, her face draining of color. She trembled now, losing her iron look, as she was led to one of the braziers. Her hands struggled desperately with the binds, and she gave a muffled scream as she looked down. There was a great trough by the brazier, crusted black with old blood.

“—Great Mother, we give unto you!”

The priest moved behind her, lifting his hand—

And dropped the knife.

The priestess screamed. Temple-goers shot to their feet as the dark woman bulled forward, seizing the priest by the throat and shoving his face into the brazier.

An unholy shriek rent the air. The priest kicked violently, but the raven-haired woman pressed him down with inhuman strength. A dark smile seeped across her hidden lips.

Spittle bubbled from the priest’s sallow mouth, and he convulsed, cheek going black and cracking like a suckling pig’s. The reek of cooking flesh fouled the air.

The priestess threw her hands to her mouth as the olive-skinned woman tore around, bindings falling from her wrists. The rims of her brown irises burned yellow.

The priest’s bowels loosed. The reek of shit joined the air as his flesh sizzled and popped, and one of his eyes burst in the brazier, melting red jelly. Caulcis grinned down, pressing him ever harder and relishing the shrieks.

Phaedrus seized the ritual knife from the floor. The priestess tried to stumble away, but she made it a few steps before the wicked metal pierced her back. Punched of air, the woman collapsed, a poppy of red blooming through her robes.

The crowd screamed. People got up and barreled towards the open doors, shoving and fighting each other to get into the sunlight. They got halfway through the temple, and then—

BOOM.

The great doors thundered closed.

A line of veiled figures stepped out from the crowd, their faces pressed and hard, and reached into their flowing, black abayas. As the fabric brushed aside, it revealed a plate of hardened leather underneath. Metal rasped as men and women pulled short swords and daggers from their long, draping clothes.

Phaedrus ripped the gag from his mouth, throwing it on the floor.

“All of you,” he bellowed in a mockery of the priestess’ pitching voice, eyes blazing. “Stand accused of spilling the blood of innocents before Ma'at.” People’s screams filled the air. The crowd was a mill of animal terror, beaten back by the line of red-limned blades. People sobbed and pleaded, but the anger only thrummed more in his skull.

“Before you stand the freedmen and women,” he howled. The ex-slaves moved into position. “—you intended to slaughter. Whose lives meant less than dust to you. Their faces will be the last thing you see before Khalid takes you.”

They rushed forward.

People screamed as dirks entered their shoulders; blood bubbled over their lips, eyes going glassy as they collapsed; others were trampled underfoot, their necks broken under a stampede of sandals and boots; one man choked as a veiled woman drove a sword deep into his heart, blood blubbering from his mouth as he stared into her cold, kohl-lined eyes.

Caulcis threw the limp body of the burnt priest aside. His blue eyes blazed hideously as he turned to the priestess, removing the gag to reveal a mouth shining with black gums and teeth. The priestess’ eyes misted with tears, and she screamed as the dark woman flew at her jugular, tearing out a chunk of flesh.

Phaedrus kicked over a brazier.

It toppled over the dais, mesh rolling and clattering down the steps. Coals vomited onto the marble floor, throwing up sparks of embers. People screamed and flinched away from the sudden roar of fire.

He lofted his arms, eyes shining wildly in the flames, and stepped through the coals.

“As the father rods the child to save him, so is my wrath just,” Malakar intoned, pitching his voice. The coals glowed under his bare feet, and people sobbed as they watched fire lick up the hems of the sacrifice’s dress, turning it terribly, terribly red.

“So is our wrath just,” intoned the ex-slaves. The cattle sobbed as they were pinned between them and the madwoman, huddled amongst the corpses, suddenly sobbing in repentance. Pathetic, disgusting sheep…

Caulcis sprawled on all fours, his mouth slavering with blood, white dress running with it. The half-eaten priestess lolled, her face a disc of red and black speckles, half a lip flopping from the unrecognizable mess of flesh. The demon licked his plush, womanly lips, red blood lending a ruby sheen to his grin.

He loped like an animal through the flames, hungrily latching onto a woman’s throat and tearing it out. Metal plunged and flashed. Screams like swine in a slaughterhouse. Malakar watched, arms still lofted.

The doors to the temple banged madly, and his eyes shot to the exit. Muffled shouts came from outside. The wood buckled inward, something like guards! Guards! Help! bellowing through it. The ex-slaves exchanged terrified glances.

Phaedus cast a ward. As the door buckled in, it flew back. Muffled yelps and curses answered. People screamed outside.

“Go,” he ordered, eyes flicking across the black-swaddled figures. “Run. Run!”

They flew, black clothes fluttering, and fled to the inner sanctum of the temple. Phaedrus stared at Caulcis. “Go,” he ordered. “Get them out. Out!”

The demon wiped his lips and licked his teeth, grinning. He dipped his head in a nod and ran off, following his flock.

BANG. BANG. Phaedrus’ eyes rolled over to the door, breath catching. The ward wouldn’t hold for much longer. Trembling, his mind froze a moment. What do I do? I must distract the guards—give them time— but—!

His eyes fled to the brazier. With a motion of his hand, the fire wavered and guttered, reappearing on a wooden beam closest to the door. He collapsed into the pile of corpses, smearing blood on himself and his hair, morphing his skin to a slightly darker shade and sobbing hysterically.

The doors burst open, letting in a blinding wash of sunlight. Phaedrus trembled in the pile—not entirely a mummer’s act—and choked and spluttered, whimpering like a babe.

“Guard!” The presence announced. Metal clattered. The gruff voices soon fell silent as they saw the carnage. Some retched. Spectators outside began to scream.
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Dante Scott
Citizen of the World
Dante Scott
Citizen of the World
Joined: 1:23 AM - Feb 04, 2018

4:09 AM - Feb 07, 2018 #2

Dante wasn't trying to get in trouble. In fact, he wasn't planning on doing much of anything today. It was one of his few rest days, and the winged man had spent most of his day relaxing in his small room in the inn. He'd made one quick venture to go visit Arthur in the adjoining stable (the bay had complained mightily about the damp hay), but other than that it had been nice. Peaceful.

As nice as the day was, Dante was still restless. One could only endure so much sitting about before your wings grew stiff and legs tingly. So he went on a walk, letting his wings stretch out further than they could in the cramped room. He didn't know this city - rarely did Dante travel this far. But the business had been good and he was nearly out of the bracelets. It was nearly time to replenish his wares.

He wandered through the city, wary as always, but still confident. The layout of the streets made sense and he easily navigated around. The path of the town made sense to Dante. He almost forgot his wariness, drawn in by the life around him.

But his peacefulness was broken by the screams. They came from one street over. They weren't screams of delight or amazement. They weren't even of anger or surprise.

These were screams of fear, and the fear seeped out from the city and engulfed Dante. He drew his wings tight, ready to take to the air if need be. The dark haired man slipped out his blades from his pockets, gripping them tightly.

It would be smarter to turn around, get Arthur, and leave. Smarter, but not much about Dante was particularly sensible. He was still young, still adventurous, still willing to risk life and limb out of dumb curiosity.

So Dante walked quickly around the corner, tense but ready to face whatever may face him. He was not prepared for a temple filled with slaughter.

The smell of blood and of meat filled Dante's senses, nearly choking him. His eyes watered, throat stung. People around him were screaming and he smelled the tang of vomit somewhere to his right. Dante suddenly wished he wasn't here - that he was somewhere far far away from here.

He didn't know what had caused the carnage, and honestly Dante didn't think he wanted to know. The guards - armor shining in what had been the peaceful afternoon sunlight - were at the door of the temple. They weren't a picture of comfort though, nearly as many of them seemed to be retching by now.

The crowd was jostling, pushing. Some were trying to get away. Others, closer. Somehow Dante was herded to the front of the crowd. He wanted to fly away, to get out, but the people were too close for him to open his wings. As he pushed back, tried not to get jostled into the temple itself - he caught the eye of someone still alive. A man, bloody, darker skinned.

The survivor was crying and shaking. He was a pitiful sight, but there was something in his eyes that caught Dante. It was fear, yes. But not blind outright panic. There was something much more cunning in the survivor's eyes - an emotion that did not belong among the bodies and the blood. Dante looked away quickly. Hopefully the crying man had not seen that Dante had noticed. He wanted nothing more to do with this wretched place.
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Phaedrus
Citizen of the World
Joined: 12:26 AM - Jan 19, 2014

3:03 PM - Feb 07, 2018 #3

[OOC: sweet post! ;D alsoooo welcome!!!

poor dante sdlkflkslksd, I feel sorry for him. T_T just a note, in case there’s any confusion: phae and caulcis (his familiar) are currently physically disguised as cis ladies, but their genders are male, so I’m using those pronouns. I realize my post was kinda unclear lol.

also, this one got a bit long, but I’ll try to be more concise from here on out! no worries about matching my rambles lol.]

The reek of shit. Burning. Screaming. Vomit. Blood.

It was just like Nemetona again.

Phaedrus squeezed his eyes shut, grimacing into the pile of fabric and flesh at his right. Sunlight washed him, flickering red through his lids.

They deserved it. A feverish thumping in his head. They deserved it.


—


A girl crumpled to her knees, sobbing. He was being carted alongside them, his wrists chafed by rope. The necromancer kept his head bowed, listening.

“These go to the temples,” one of the slavers had nodded. “Virgins. Said to be pure to sacrifice, something. I’m not the religious type…”

“Ashokans are crazy,” one of the slavers shuddered. He could tell he was a southerner by the Sotoan lilt of his accent. “Savages, if you ask me…”

He kept his head bowed.

“Please,” the woman chained behind him sobbed.

He kept his head bowed.

“Why? Why?”

“Shut up, woman,” one of the men snapped, raising his hand to strike her.

Her voice burbled to high, hiccuping sobs.

He kept his head bowed.

Later, thrust into cages like swine, he looked up. He stared at the slavers conversing with the priestess with cold eyes, committing every detail of their faces to memory: Lavak, from the west of Morrim, with green eyes and a little sniffling twitch, a smattering of big freckles on his crooked nose, a black shock of hair framing a face like a brick. Must have been late thirties. Okilos, a north Sotoan with an explosion of brown curls upon his head, a face that might have been pretty but for the great scar across it and yellowish teeth. Drooping eyes muddled by pipe. Indeterminate age, but he smelled like smoke. The priestess was young and willowy, an initiate into the New Order, and her black eyes shone with a deranged fervor.

“Tomorrow is the rite of sacrifice,” she intoned. Her eyes fixed them as if they were barely human; he got the impression she didn’t join the order for religious reasons.

You’re next, Phaedrus thought, and kept his head bowed.

Later, when they had gone abed, he undid the girl’s binds and nodded to her.

“Go,” he whispered. “Go, far away.”

“But you’re not coming too?” She’d stared at him with wide, panicked eyes, chest rising and falling like a terrified mouse’s.

“No.” A bitter smile twisted his lips. “I have work to do.”

Caulcis grinned at her from another cage, and she looked frightened.


—

They deserved it.

Something blocked out the light. Phaedrus rolled over, eyes glassy, to see the silhouette of a tall, looming figure in the doorway with—

Wings?

He stared, uncomprehending. Smoke was beginning to fill the room, giving everything an indistinct, hazy outline; there was the clatter of metal, and then suddenly two strong hands hoisted him up. A guard stared back at him, his blue eyes watering, mustache bristling.

“Ma’am!”

The necromancer gave a soupy gurgle, stumbling and tripping, legs shaking. He near-collapsed again to buy time, causing the guard to grunt and seize him by the armpits. Phaedrus pressed against the man’s shoulder, just enough so his eyes could swivel to the leaping flames. His clutching hands made some ever-so-subtle movements, and the flame danced, skirting across the wood.

“Ma’am!” The guard began to hiccough. “We must get out! Stand! Can you stand?”

The necromancer only gave a crying mewl. Smoke vomited from the rafters, and a piece of blackened wood fell. The guard jumped, giving up and simply throwing him over one shoulder. Phaedrus bounced against the pauldrons as the man hurried out, stepping across bodies and repressing a retch. Sunlight broke above them; breathing hard, the guard dumped him unceremoniously on the cobbles by the winged man. As he did so, some of the blackened cloth of his dress fell to the side, revealing a smooth, unburnt leg and bare foot covered only in blood.

Not noticing, Phaedrus stared up as the hole in the middle of the temple belched greasy black smoke. Smells almost like pork, he thought drolly, eyes cold.

“Mages!” A blonde-haired guard shouted, turning to the crowd. “Are there any water mages?” The sea of faces stared out glassily like panicked, frozen cattle. The rest of the contingent looked around, helpless.

“Are there any other survivors?” The mustached guard’s eyes swiveled upon Phaedrus. The necromancer’s face kept in a rictus, and he shook his head, trembling all over.

“You!” The guard turned to Dante, flicking up and down his wings. His facial hair twitched above his twisting lips. “Can you fly? Scout the area? Perhaps some escaped through another door!”

“Clear out!” The blonde guard bellowed, drawing his scimitar and brandishing it at the crowd. His face went red. “Out! By the Moghul’s authority! Out!”

They began to back off, leaving a berth wide enough for Dante to spread his wings.

There was the sound of collapsing wood, and a shower of embers vomited from the top of the temple, red-hot like a portent of hell.


—


Beyond the temple, in the priest and priestess’ residence, a door creaked open. Caulcis poked his head out first and—seeing no one— gestured to the Fatimids* and ex-slaves behind him. Their reddened eyes stung, and many of them hiccoughed, arms thrown across their hidden mouths.

“Come on,” he grinned, stepping onto the cobbled street in the quiet alleyway. The rest followed in a line of fluttering black and the occasional gleam of metal.



* Fatimids: a movement of all-women warriors, a blurb featured in Town Crier #3.

“A loose movement of women who deem themselves Fatimids are resisting the shackles of traditional Ashokan culture and learning arts of war in secret. They have exalted Moghul Fatima as a "warrior-queen" and hold that women can rise to power again. To protect their identities, some dress androgynously -- others have donned masks, scarves, or burqa-esque garments. They are widely condemned and ostracized, and slandered as criminals in an effort to prevent other girls from joining the movement.”
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Dante Scott
Citizen of the World
Dante Scott
Citizen of the World
Joined: 1:23 AM - Feb 04, 2018

4:00 AM - Feb 09, 2018 #4

ah ok sorry, we'll just pretend i was using female pronouns in my first post then lol

--------------------------------------

Dante was up in the air. It was in theory his choice, but it didn't feel like a choice at all. It wasn't like he could say 'oh yeah, who cares about survivors, I'm going home' though, could he.

His wings beat against the acrid air, propelling the young man up above the crowd and the blood and the chaos. He took in a deep breath, savoring the clean air while it lasted. He couldn't enjoy being in the air today though. Dante had a mission. He gave a powerful flap of his wings, enough to lift Dante farther above the building. Here he had a good view. The crowd, still pushing and making noise. The temple - a billow of smoke the only thing that hinted at the horrors withing. And there - in the alley. A group of women. Some looked like slaves, but others - those were dressed in black, but the occasional gleam of metal hinted at somethings more dangerous hidden within the folds of their clothing.

They had no reason to be here, no reason to be fleeing the temple - so they were survivors. Dante cursed himself for not taking time to bother more with religion. All the deities and practices blurred together for him. Was there a reason in this country for a bunch of slaves to be escaping the temple?

He swooped down, landing about fifteen feet away from them, in front of the leader.

"Did you come from the temple?" Dante said, wings poised to escape at a moments notice. Something was not quite right about this situation.
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Shell
Citizen of the World
Joined: 9:55 PM - Feb 17, 2017

11:08 PM - Feb 13, 2018 #5

It was the sound of screams, naturally, that drew her to the blazing temple, and it was the atmosphere that made her stay.

Shell, fresh from the Badlands and dressed in her customary black Ashokan dress, her hair down, mask well tucked away in her belongings where it hadn't been used in the better part of a year, stood on the outer fringes of the crowd that had gathered, a latecomer to the grisly spectacle that had arisen seemingly from nowhere. Her face was unreadable, gaze trained on the pillar of flames that erupted into the sky.

Man, I just got into town... why are buildings always on fire?

That was her first thought. Her second, accompanied by a deep thoughtful frown, remembering where she had just come from and what had happened and her history with such events, ran thusly:

Okay, who do I know that did this?

A wave of heat washed over the crowd, bringing the smells with it, and whoever couldn't stand it gagged and covered their mouths and noses, turning to leave. As the crowd thinned out and the head guard brandished his weapon, Shell caught sight of what appeared to be a carpet of bodies within the now-ruined temple. She frowned deeply, and the irony of the situation didn't escape her: a day of ritual sacrifice interrupted by a death-dealing disaster. The people were sickened by the spectacle, but many of them probably wouldn't have thought twice about the real repercussions of all the deaths that had taken place in there over the years. Compared to that, this tragedy was small.

Nailah... a goddess of life, served by death. It felt wrong, and Shell wondered how the goddess herself must feel about it. Without thinking, she stepped forward and to the side of the blonde man's blade, kneeling down to help the woman he had dumped on the ground.

Her eyes drifted to the bare leg -- mismatched and out of place when gazing at the rest of the body -- but figured that was secondary right now.

"Hey, come on -- uh," She struggled for a second, then remembered some of the Ashokan she had been taught: "Come on, ma'am, let's get you away from this blaze." Rather more gently than the guard, she put her hands beneath the shaken, bloody, ash-covered woman's arms and scooped her up, bringing her away from the open flames; behind them, there was a terrible roar, and she glanced back just in time to see the roof collapse.

If she had been alone, she might not have been so spooked: the collapsing structure pushed the flames outward in a deadly wave, searing anyone who was too close, and she gasped in alarm, dropping to her knees with her charge and pressing up against her back protectively, holding a hand out behind her; the force of Khana's chi formed a fragile, but steady barrier between them and the tsunami of fire, which roared harmlessly but hotly around them for its few moments of life, then puttered out into a skyward blaze once more. Shell peered behind them, only then feeling safe enough to drop her hand, and puffed out a sigh of relief.

"You okay?" In the fright of the moment, she forgot to speak in the woman's mothertongue. "Come on, let's make like a tree and... get the hell out of here."
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Phaedrus
Citizen of the World
Joined: 12:26 AM - Jan 19, 2014

5:35 AM - Mar 21, 2018 #6

[GAHHHH sorry for the wait, life stuff came up!]


Caulcis froze.

The daemon turned, eyes burning blue in the rictus grin of his face. He tilted his head, fixing on the man’s wings and meeting his nervous expression. Well, well, what did he have here?

Steel rasped as the women behind him moved into position; their hard, watering eyes narrowed at Dante.

“No,” the demon bared his bloodstained teeth, waving a hand. The flesh of his fingers billowed to smoke, revealing the hard knuckles and claws of obsidian bone. “Get out. He's mine.”

He lunged, claws extended, for the man's throat.

—


No. It couldn’t be.

He didn’t feign the shock in his eyes when he looked up to see Shell. The necromancer’s mouth gibbered, cold splashing his guts. Shambling like an old woman, he staggered alongside her, flinching when the building vomited a gust of heat. It rolled over his back and he choked on the cloud of ash, blinking it out of his eyes. Had he a heart it would have galloped, beating against the cage of his ribs. Instead he trembled, licking his lips and forgetting himself a moment.

“Yes.” Breathed in a voice too low to identify, a rustling mouth in a mask of wide eyes and ashen cheeks. By Nailah-no—what—

“Come—come—“ he grappled at her arm, half-stumbling and half-dragging Shell to the outskirts of the crowd. His mind still buzzed with shock, thoughts rolling like marbles. Can she be trusted—? Can she—

Phaedrus tripped on the cobbles, gathering his skirts and staggering barefoot through the street. In the hubbub no one noticed them go; the necromancer’s eyes kept flitting towards the crumbling building and space beyond it, chest shuddering.

Only when they got to the throat of an alley did he collapse. Trembling with adrenaline, the necromancer looked up with saucer-wide eyes, lips jumping and twitching. At length he licked his lips, scooting up against the wall and hugging his knees.

“Shell,” the necromancer rasped. A cold hand scrabbled at her pants. “Shell…” the alleyway spun, a mad kaleidoscope of stone and barrels. “I—di— I—" A cracked, high laugh shattered his throat, eyes wide and shining. The words came on a hyperventilating gasp of air.

“Wh— what are you doing— here—?”

He grasped her like a drowning man.
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Shell
Citizen of the World
Joined: 9:55 PM - Feb 17, 2017

7:48 PM - Apr 08, 2018 #7

At first it seemed the woman was simply in shock, a little hysterical perhaps and not quite all-there: Shell did her best to comfort her, but ended up being swept away from the scene of the catastrophe herself by the woman's clinging hands. Like a drunkard she stumbled, and as she was pulled along Shell tried to help keep her steady, becoming more and more worried (and perhaps, deep-down, a little afraid) about the woman's condition. Part of her wanted to go back and tend to whoever else might need a strong shoulder to lean on, but part of her was already bonded to this one: she was clearly in desperate need of company, and she wasn't going to get it at the actual scene.

They stopped in one of the land's many seedy alleyways, and only here did the woman feel secure enough to let go of Shell and fold herself to the ground, arms wrapped around her legs. Immediately, Shell knelt before her, ready to reach out and steady her with a reassuring hand--

"Shell..."

She blinked. Automatically, anxiety knotted her gut: she had never seen this woman before, how did she know her name...? Had she heard of her from afar..?

The woman reached out and snagged at her clothes and said her name again, staggering about some words for a few moments, laughing in hysteria.... it was unsettling, but the more it went on the more Shell began to feel that perhaps this wasn't a threat. Steeling her confidence, she reached forward and covered one of the woman's clutching hands with her own, though she had no warmth with which to reassure her.

Then again... the woman's hand radiated no warmth, itself.

"Wh- what are you doing-- here--?"

Shell's brow furrowed. By chance, her eyes drifted down and caught sight of the strangely pale ankles, and things began to come together; clearly this was someone she knew, someone who was not what they appeared. She just didn't know who.

"I'm on my way back from someplace else -- I had some... work, to do." There, that would hopefully do. After quickly scoping out the opposing ends of the alley to ensure they weren't being eavesdropped on, she leaned forward, eyeing the 'woman' with friendly suspicion. "Who are you?"
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Phaedrus
Citizen of the World
Joined: 12:26 AM - Jan 19, 2014

3:10 AM - Apr 10, 2018 #8

Of course. She couldn't know him...

Phaedrus swallowed. His chest jerked up and down like the bellows, and with it came shuddering puffs of breath.

He blinked overmuch, swiping one dirty palm over his mouth. It reeked of flame and ash, of death...

"It's me," the necromancer croaked, wooden as a coffin. The alley spun; Shell's face smeared to red lips and lily-white. "It's..." Yellow corroded the brown of his eyes, left them with the cruelty of a fox. White bled beneath his palm, leaving a vitiglio of of skin until it paled to a bloodless mask. "...Phaedrus."

But was he? Ichor thumped in his head, left his breaths heavy. One hand twitched on Shell's as he wiped his hand over his face, melting it back to its previous skintone, but the eyes remained.

"I can't be seen," the necromancer rasped, shaking as he slumped upright and tried to stand. His eyes flicked towards the mouth of the alley, shoulders wound like a spring. "And neither--neither should you." Some animal instinct kicked rickety limbs into action. They must be watching, aren't they? Searching...

"I can explain," he garbled, breathless, and clutched Shell close. Phaedrus' eyes shone like twin mirrors, wide and hawkish and animal. "All of it... I swear... I-- come--come--"

And with that--should she follow--he scrabbled down the labyrinthian alleys, stumbling half the way.
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Shell
Citizen of the World
Joined: 9:55 PM - Feb 17, 2017

10:10 PM - Jun 29, 2018 #9

For the most part, and to begin with, Shell was certain that this was simply a traumatized person out of her wits, caught in the throes of panic and not all there. Her breathing came quickly, ragged and shallow, her strange eyes frantic, her body not seeming to know what to do with itself; Shell kept a hand close by in case she needed to steady her or offer a bit of grounding.

"It's me..." Her brow furrowed gently and her head tipped, and she watched the face change -- first with the eyes, then his skin and the rest of his face, like paint poured on a canvas; slowly, recognition dawned over her own features, and her lips parted in surprise as she drew in a breath.

"...Phaedrus..!" She whispered loudly, his face and name further softening her heart with memories of their meeting on the beaches of Angkar, of poring over multitudes of dishes of food and sweets, tea and chatter, a feeling of belonging and mutual understanding.

Turning her hand over to grasp his, she gave what she hoped was a reassuring squeeze.

"I can't be seen," Her friend rasped, and she withdrew her hand from his only to brace it on his shoulder, using her other to help him stand, trying to keep him steady. "And neither--neither should you."

"Alright," She said gently, only loud enough to be heard over the cacophany they had left behind. "I'm right behind you."

Off he went like a drunk man -- or woman, in this case -- and as she followed it did not escape her notice how bizarre this may have looked to one who didn't know the gravity of the situation. In truth, she was very worried about him, as she couldn't remember having seen him quite this out of sorts before, nevermind in such a violent situation. It made her a little fearful to think that he was the culprit she had been wondering about before, but this was tempered with the knowledge that she herself had done some pretty awful things.

I'm sure there's a good reason, She assured herself. It worked, and any trepidation vanished altogether.

He apparently knew his way well, even in his most nervous state, and she saw very few people as they wound this way and that way, long after direction had stopped making sense to her. Very desperately she wanted to ask if he was alright, to comfort him, but she also suspected that she shouldn't make any noise, and bit her tongue for the time being. She could mother him later, perhaps, once they had found safety.
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