Event By the Light of the Moon

Chiona is discovered after having killed an Eth.

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The Diamond of Kalea is located on Kalea's extreme west coast and called as such because its completely made of a crystalline substance called Skyglass. Home of the Alvina of the Stars, cultural mecca of knowledge seekers, and rife with Ethaefal, this remote city shimmers with its own unique light.

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By the Light of the Moon

Postby Luminescence on October 1st, 2018, 8:11 pm

By the Light of the Moon

The 55th of autumn, just before the midnight rest

The stars glittered quietly in the night sky above the city of Lhavit, like fine pieces of shattered glass spread out across a tapestry of velvet indigo. The skyglass buildings of the city glowed gently in the moonlight; the season had so far been less eventful than the one before it, and despite the calm day having been interrupted by Chiona Dusk acting strangely, the night seemed peaceful. At least, what passed for peaceful in Lhavit.

The bars and taverns across the city were beginning to wind down as as the midnight rest approached, Lhavitians preparing for a quick sleep before they would resume their activities; the streets were almost entirely empty as citizens tucked themselves away at inns and bathhouses, or perhaps their own homes if they were lucky enough to live close by.

Like a glassy lake, too dark to see what beasts lurked at the bottom, the calm and peaceful night was only the surface of the city. Towards the outskirts of the Zintia Peak, an Ethaefal was running for his life. His legs pounded beneath him as he raced down the path towards Alheas Park, realizing too late his mistake, that he was moving away from the more populated area of the city and potential help.

The soft glow of the bio-luminescent flora around him reflected off his glassy amber horns; tall, glittering, and beautiful in the moonlight, like marble come to life, he was an easy target to keep track of. Behind him, his pursuer walked swiftly and with determination, but did not run. She didn't have to; she had him alone, and she could wear him down, even if it took all night.

Chiona Dusk held a blade in one hand, a grin stretched across her features as she followed the Lethaefal; the smile was too wide, showing too many teeth, and it contorted her features into a demented mask, leaving no trace of the gentle beauty she was known for. It did not take long for her to corner her prey, who in desperation, shouted out for help as loud as he could; his cry was cut short as the blade silenced him.

Those few who were out during the beginning of the rest, if they happened to be near the Park for any reason whatsoever, whether it be a restless stroll or alone time with a lover, would become aware that something was not quite right. Anyone within Alheas Park, or even on its outskirts, would hear a high-pitched but distinctly masculine voice screaming for help, only for the cry to be cut off into a strangled scream; a heavy, eerie silence followed.

Indeed, a Shinya patrolling near the path leading to the Park was one of those few who heard the scream; drawing her shortbow, she took off at a sprint into the Park. It did not take her long to find the source of the scream, and what she saw made her blood run cold, her skin paling.

Anyone else who followed the scream would arrive after the Shinya; the scene unfolding before them was cast into a surreal light beneath the glowing plants and the silver moonlight, like some sort of beautifully grotesque painting. The Shinya stood with her shortbow raised and aimed at Chiona Dusk, an arrow knocked in warning.

Chiona herself was knelt on the grass, and splayed out in front of her was the body of the Lethaefal, her knife resting beside her. His glassy eyes stared upwards, but twitches in his mouth and fingers betrayed that he was not quite yet dead; this was despite the fact that his chest had been cut open lengthwise, and that Chiona currently had her hands buried in his abdomen up to her wrists.

Blood splattered the grass and the pale skin of the dying Lethaefal, and Chiona was positively drenched in it. Gore soaked her dress, and it stuck to her like a second skin; unaware, or choosing to ignore her audience, she continued to prod around inside the Ethaefal, the sickening sounds of wet innards being squished filling the night air.

The Shinya looked very well like she might be sick; her forehead was sweaty and her arms trembling. She spared a glance behind her at those few who had also heard the scream and come to investigate. Realizing she had to take charge of the situation, she steeled herself, inhaled deeply (and nearly gagged at the sickly smell of blood filling the Park), and let loose her arrow.

It hit Chiona squarely in the shoulder, and the woman fell back with a shriek; it sounded much more angry than pained. The Shinya took her chance, leaping forward and grabbing Chiona, dragging her away from the body; there was a bit of a scuffle, but the Shinya managed to restrain the deranged woman, binding her hands behind her back.

"You," She said sharply as she turned back to the others, addressing the lot of them. "What are you all doing out here during the rest?" Behind her, sitting bound on the grass, Chiona muttered wildly to herself, her words incomprehensible, strands of hair matted with blood falling in front of her face.

Abruptly, the Shinya shook her head, and waved her hand, ignoring whatever excuses or answers they might have given. "It's no matter. This is..." She trailed off, glancing at the Ethaefal; he had finally gone still, his suffering at last ended.

"There's going to be an investigation into this. This was more than murder, and for Chiona to act this way..." The Shinya seemed at a loss. Luckily, she was saved from trying to think of what to do as Aysel and Talora suddenly stepped out from the path, approaching the group, having managed to appear almost silently due to the commotion. Lheili Dawn accompanied them.

Talora's hand flew to her mouth as she stared in shock; Aysel stared, stoic and stone-faced, at the scene in front of them. Lheili let out a cry and flew across the grass, throwing herself to her knees in front of Chiona, her hands fluttering at the blood soaked woman's shoulders and head, her face stricken.

Aysel bent his head to speak to Talora in a hushed tone, but his words were loud enough to be heard if one listened carefully. "Take Chiona and Lheili back to the Twuele with the guard. Get Chiona's shoulder fixed up, and figure out what happened. I will deal with this and the others here, and we will meet you hopefully no later than the end of the rest."

Talora dropped her hands from her face, swallowing and forcing herself to be composed. She nodded to Aysel, and crossed the grass, kneeling beside Lheili and whispering to her. After a moment, she stood, helping Lheili to her feet as well. The Shinya hauled Chiona to her feet, who spit and snapped, and without another word, Talora led the group away.

The strangers who had all found themselves investigating the screams were left alone with the still body of the Lethaefal, and the towering, impassive form of Aysel. He was silent for a long moment as he walked to the body, dropping into a crouch. "We don't have long before the body turns to dust. Are any of you proficient in medicine? I'd like to know what the killing blow was, if possible."

He picked up the bloody, abandoned knife that still lay in the grass, flipping it in his hand and examining it as he stood again, leaving room if anyone wished to examine the corpse. Turning, he faced the group, brought together under such strange and disturbing circumstances.

"I'm considering you all witnesses to this crime. Something truly terrible is happening, and I fear we may not figure it out before more people get hurt. I need your help; all of you. Tell me what happened, in as much detail as possible. Leave nothing out, even if it seems minor. We'll look around and see if we can't find anything here, and then I'll escort you all to the Twuele. Zintila needs to hear about this."

His sharp silver gaze scanned the ragtag group, waiting for whoever wished to speak up first.
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By the Light of the Moon

Postby Allister on October 2nd, 2018, 3:32 am

ImageAllister was enjoying the crisp air of the mountains on this fine evening. He had acquiesced to Madeira’s insistence that they stretch their legs in the wonderful breeze of the Kalean peaks. After months upon a stale vessel where he had murdered a foolish sailor, the former slave could find no argument as to why he would ever refuse such an invitation. Anyone could have asked him for a stroll and he would have obliged but this was Madeira -his soul’s lone cry- the kelvic would traverse the world over stark naked if his bonded asked it of him.

The blonde spiritist had not- though Allister was not so naive as to realize his life and their relationship was about to change in a very significant way. The powerful woman was carrying his child and it made her even more radiant that the black eyes had previously bore witness. Frail of form, the spiritist had filled out in Riverfall with a solid diet, lots of sleep and the exertion of walking up and down the cliffs. The bony body of the Lady Craven morphed into an angelic representation of statuesque beauty. When it all came apart -after weeks of isolating her simple-minded kelvic in the bond to rot- the blue-eyed goddess shattered against the everpresent mania of Allister’s obsession. Their bodies united in a well of lust and devotion that revealed the altar where the former slave kept his bonded. More than the physical fulfillment came a spiritual awakening. Goddess and beast released the confines of their preconceived notions and, so too, the weight it bore against them was dismissed.

Now they shared a freedom, a deeper level of comfort with one another, that bordered on singularity. Allister had very few lofty goals. His young mind could only dream so big but he felt the magnificence of Madeira exude through her every action, emotion and word. In this swell of power and pride, the hyena drafted his own dreams to coincide with the wake of greatness where he lived. These little dreams, missions that Allister provided for his idle time, flooded his mind and the bond with a peaceful contentment. The hyena sang softly as he took slow strides while one long arm was draped around the soft shoulders of his love.

A voice like sand washed down a clay tile whispered into the night’s breath. His tone was even, low and sad with the evening spaced jolt of a flat note that lifted his melancholy to tranquility before letting it fall back down into despair.

“It all goes away
The pain cannot stay
When life is filled to burst
I stand aside and
Let it have its way”

He was doing much better at controlling the evenness of both his tone and his volume. The rasp would forever be a part of his sound. The early years of his life had been spent in a damp cage of malnourished abuse.

“It all starts to fade
The hurt is low laid
The sun shines on her face
I stand aside and
Let the tears cascade.”

He took a breath to continue when a strong smell caught in his heightened sense of smell. The ringing of an echoed cry strangled from pain lingered in the air but it was the scent that drew Allister into a bristle. He held Madeira tightly and twisted so that he was physically moving closer to the putrid odor and shielding the woman he cared most about from this unseen threat. Black eyes, flared and slick, turned to the blue gems of the spiritist. The kelvic wanted to protect her but he also knew she would not be carted off to hide just because of the child she carried. No, Madeira was a goddess and she demanded to be seen and heard; to make her presence felt. Allister couldn’t deny the need to want to protect her but it was also a selfish desire to keep her to himself. Everytime someone met Madeira she ended up holding sway over him or her in one fashion or another.

Setting his jealousy aside, the hyena smiled his too wide grin and let the word drip from his tongue as it scent pooled in his nostrils. “Blood- a lot of it.” Without waiting for her order, the kelvic led his mistress along the walking path deeper into the park as he followed the airborne river of vitae that flared every instinct and triggered memories of the smell deep in the ship’s hold where Daniel had been dismembered. The odd couple moved through the park with a quickened pace; a bend here, a dip there and suddenly the bioluminescent display was shadowed by something roughly the size of a man and a swirling mass of deep syrup that coated the grasses and flowers around him.

Allister released Madeira and stood full in between her and the strange man who lingered without emotion next to the body. The weird spectator picked up and then dropped a knife while he was spouting off some nonsense that Allister ignored. Sure, there could be useful things to learn but he had to assess whether or not the older gent needed to be dealt with to ensure the safety of his lady. This creature, horns on his head, had not just been killed. His body had been opened and searched as one digs through a bag to find the matching glove. The grisly scene triggered another, more vivid flashback of the sailor who tried to separate Allister from Madeira. As fate would have it, Allister separated the human into six pieces. Blood-stained deck boards, pools coagulating against a crate and the gritty feel of visceral tissue and bone as he tacked to the pale hands while he worked all came back to life and caused an obligatory rubbing of his hands.

The other horned man was concocting some kind of blame game and the hyena narrowed his eyes at the being. The purpled and worn leather of his duster swirled as the lanky frame turned to face the scene. Black pants, black boots and no shirt, Allister’s poorly smattered ink was hard to see against the dimming light but the shadows cast did reveal the muscle he’d been building over the past few seasons through hard labor and sailing. The scavenger dog didn’t smell death on the speaking man so his threat level was dropped to almost nothing once the blade hit the grass. What puzzled Allister was the scent of blood and guts was strongest where he stood but it also went off in another direction. As he scoured the grounds with an inky stare, he saw no signs to indicate the body had been moved. Quickly, he made a few steps closer to Madeira and whispered his revelation into her ear. It was at this moment when the light of Leth cast a silvery glow upon the grisled manikin that was Chiona.

Allister’s nostrils flared as words were drowned out by the intoxicating smell of death. The hyena bristled. The pale man suddenly felt like he should taste the remains of this strange creature. Certainly the well-dressed woman (a figure well above his own standing) wouldn’t mind having her hands cleaned of the blood’s sticky resin. Without knowing it, Allister’s tongue flicked out and ran across his lips as he hovered near his lady. He couldn’t peel his eyes away from the dead body and the woman covered in his blood. Still, he was close by and ever attentive to the bond. The blue-eyed goddess had but to stutter a breath and he would be at her beck and call.
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Love without pain is selfish
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By the Light of the Moon

Postby Madeira Craven on November 2nd, 2018, 3:02 am

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The quiet stroll with her bonded she insisted they take was shattered with a cry that tore through the empty park. The pair locked eyes for just a moment, no more than a flicker, but in that look was a true, complete understanding. Without a word they had run, Allister ahead by half a step with his shoulder blocking any unseen threat, protecting her and his child. He smelled the blood before she did.

"Chiona?"

A woman with an armed crossbow and a white robe that looked like a law enforcement uniform was standing with her back to the newcomers. And a few meters ahead, kneeling in the dew damp grass, was the very same woman she had met not twenty four bells ago. But it couldn't be. That woman was a beauty with a dry wit and a clever smile. This woman had a perverted kind of interest deep in her tawny eyes and a smile carved in the shape of madness in her cheeks. Blood caked her dress, the smell of it was overwhelming even to her weak human nose. On the ground before her, peeled back and opened like a butchered pig, an Ethefeal was dying with her hands deep in his gut.

It happened in an instant, Chiona was shot by the distressed crossbow-wielding woman. Madeira shrank back from the scuffle and let Allister shield her, all the while watching the Eth give one last gurgling choke and die on the cold ground.

"That's Chiona Dusk", She whispered to Allister, her eyes narrowed and voice confused as she tried to connect what she was seeing to the woman she had met. "Al, she's from that family I work for. Gods, what's happened to her?"

Another Eathefel arrived on the scene. Tall like a pillar and impossibly beautiful, with deep red hair and golden horns, dressed simply but inspiring authority simply by the way he held himself. He was accompanied by two seemingly human woman. One looked younger than Madeira, with wide, kind eyes that reminded her forcibly of Emma. The other, older woman, threw herself at Chiona's feet with a cry that lanced Madeira's heart. All looked shaken by the scene, but the Eth had rallied himself before he had even reached them, and when he opened his mouth he commanded authority over the situation with the grace of a king.

Madeira stepped out from behind Allister as Chiona was dragged away by the three women. She watched them go with undisguised shock on her face. But now faced with the cold Eth, his turn of phrase 'deal with the others' rang in her ear. Surely he didn't think they had something to do with it?

But instead of accusations, the man surprised her with a plea for help. Something terrible was happening, he said. They were to investigate and he would escort them to the Twuele, which Madeira dimly remembered the woman in the Cosmo Center explaining housed the government, and Zintila, who anyone born without cotton in their ears knew to be both fallen goddess and ruler of the Kelean city.

There was quiet after his speech. Madeira could feel the rough fingers of her bonded digging into her waist, and the dark roll of his thoughts in the bond. His chest was vibrating with a suppressed growl and his eyes were firmly on the Eth as he rolled the bloody dagger between his hands. She calmed him with a touch to his cheek and a
level wave of assurance through their connection. Only when she had her impulsive bonded's reins firmly in hand did she first to address the Eth.

"We'll cooperate with you." As much as she hated that they were being thrust into this mess within days of stepping into the city, there was no denying they were involved now. "Allister, do as he asks. Sniff around the area, look for anything amiss. Do it on all fours if you have to." She did not consider the word of the king to be the final word for Allister, in her arrogance she considered herself the only one with authority over the impulsive Kelvic.

Aware of their limited time, she approached the body quickly, stripping off her silk gloves and her many heavy rings and rolling up the sleeves of her green dress as she did. Underneath she kept her bracer crossbow secured but pushed farther back on her forearm. Brushing her red cloak over her shoulder and out of the way she knelt beside the corpse and began to pray.

"Dira, beloved goddess, warden of death. We pray you see this soul safely to your embrace. Let his going be gentle, and give him peace in the next life that he can no longer find here." His glazed eyes were staring blankly upward. She made to close them in respect, but paused in he motion, and instead swept his lashes back, opening them wider. It was a silly, sentimental gesture. The soul was gone and the body empty, he could no longer see the night sky gazing down at him. But she didn't want to close his eyes to Leth in the vessels final moments. "I honour you in his passing, as you see him safely to the other side. In your service, my goddess."

His body was warm and whole. In all the murders she had investigated the corpses were rotted and bloated, eaten by flies and crawling with their maggots. But this man was still beautiful in a way that made her heart ache with a loneliness she didn't have. She examined his wound. His shirt had been ripped open, an incision made straight down his torso. Hooking two fingers in the wound she pried it open as much as she could, looking into his mutilated, rearranged organs to try and puzzle out what Chiona could have possibly be looking for. With a great heave she rolled him onto his shoulder, looking for wounds in his back, and finally her fingers combed through his hair looking for trauma on his skull or horns.

There was no squeamishness in the Spiritist, no rattled nerves as she handled the corpse. She was observant and methodical in her investigation, looking for anything unusual, but she didn't have the anatomical knowledge for anything more than surface insight.

"We don't know what happened", she told the Eth as she worked. "Allister and I, Madeira, heard a scream while we were walking through the garden. We ran to investigate, and came across the scene just as the Shin... Shinra? Shinya? Did. Chiona was kneeling over this man, looking for something... inside him. Like she was dissecting him. I can't explain it. She was covered in blood, her eyes wild. She didn't see us at first, until the woman shot her. There was a scuffle, and that's when you arrived."

She had told him what he wanted to know, now it was her turn. Glancing up from the corpse, breathing shallowly of the gummy smell of drying fluids and blood crusting on her hands, she spoke what was on her mind.

"Sir, we arrived in this city two days ago. I met the Dusk woman yesterday, and I've just been employed with her family. She was completely sane then. What's happening in this city? And for that matter, who are you? Maybe you can tell me why I suddenly find myself working for a nest of vipers in your Diamond of Kalea."

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By the Light of the Moon

Postby Zach Grasswind on November 8th, 2018, 10:30 am

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Pain kept Zach awake most of the time now.
Pain had set deep in his bruised and battered bones and the Drykas knew it would be a while before he could move normally again. He had tried in vain to sleep as the midnight rest drew near, as he had been trying for most of the night, but every time he had tried to get comfortable it had felt like a poker was being jammed into his shoulder. After countless chimes had been passed by staring at the ceiling, Zach had shrugged off his covers, thrown on a coat and headed outside.

It had been slow progress, but Zach eventually made it over to the Alheas Park. He had taken to walking here when he found sleep elusive as it was quiet, and the various bio-luminescent plants were oddly calming in the dim light. As he walked through the arched entrance, the hunters shoulders immediately relaxed and he started to head in the general direction of a bench that it had quickly become a habit to sit upon.

As he walked slowly, the hairs on the back of his neck started to prickle. Zach almost stumbled, memories flooding into his mind of the time ten days previous where he had found similar sensations creeping up on him deep in the woods outside of the city.
A distant sound of hurried footsteps interrupted his thoughts and he shook his head roughly before continuing onward, convincing himself that he was imagining things, having flashbacks. There was no way there could be anything wrong here.

It was only when a terrified cry ripped through the air a short time later that Zach figured he should probably listen to his instincts more often. The cry had ended more abruptly than it had begun, cut off unnaturally before it had had a chance to end on its own. Zach moved as fast as he could towards the sound without thinking. Pain skittered through his bones but he pressed onwards, his pace stuck between a quick walk and a jog. He was completely unarmed, but that thought didn't cross his mind. Someone needed help now, not in twenty chimes after he had retrieved his bow.

Zach arrived at a scene that could only be described as grisly, at the same time as another pair of people. He barely spared the couple a glance, nor the Shinya that was also present, his horrified gaze stuck on the sight of Chiona Dusk and her victim. Zach's keen hunters eyes noticed the twitching fingers of the Ethaefal man, and his stomach twisted as he realised the poor soul was still alive.
The Drykas was stunned, and at a loss as to what to do, for Chiona appeared to have completely lost her mind, rummaging (and there really was no other word for it) around inside the body before her. It was almost a relief when the Shinya finally let her arrow fly and Zach could allow himself to be distracted from the sight of someone else's innards.

The Drykas stopped himself taking a step back as the Shinya turned on the tree of them that had gathered with an almost accusatory tone. Instead of responding, he allowed himself to glance over and properly look at the pair next to him. Eyes took in the tall, pale man standing protectively before a blonde woman. Before Zach had a chance to look back to the Shinya, more people appeared, one throwing herself at the feet of Chiona. Zach watched silently as, after little discussion, the crazed woman was led away.

Zach raised an eyebrow as Aysel - the Drykas recognised him - turned to the three of them for help. Zach paused as he knew practically nothing about medicine, definitely nothing that would help here at least.
He wasn't standing particularly close to the couple, but he could still sense the tension rolling from the man. The voice of the woman rang first, and as she approached the body on the ground, Zach flicked his gaze back to the Eth. "I will help too, if I can."

Cautiously he moved closer to where the woman knelt on the ground, waiting to see if she might need help with anything. He felt a little like a spare part - injured and with no apparently useful knowledge at this moment. Zach nodded, mostly to himself, as the woman - Madeira she had called herself - explained what she knew to the Eth. He added his confirmation, speaking up for the first time.
"I arrived a moment after these two did." Zach motioned to the woman. "The scream drew me here too. I agree, it seemed like Chiona was searching for something. " Zach paused as a memory returned. "I did hear footsteps earlier when I was back nearer the Park entrance... it sounded like someone running. I don't know if it was him but..." The hunter trailed off. Had Chiona actually chased this poor soul down specifically? Who was he?

A light frown worked its way over his brow as Madeira continued to speak. She knew Chiona already, and apparently the insanity seemed to have happened overnight. Something untoward was definitely going on. Zach looked round for the taller man, to see where he was before his gaze settled on the Eth, the blonde woman's severe question hanging in the air.

ooc :
Apologies for any delay, my health has sucked recently. I hope this post is okay, I started writing it weeks ago before I got sick and just managed to finish!
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By the Light of the Moon

Postby Luminescence on January 22nd, 2019, 7:53 pm

Of the trio that had arrived, the couple interested Aysel the most. His eyes settled sharply on Allister as the Kelvic hovered over the smaller form of Madeira; the tense distrust could be felt rolling off the gangly man in waves, but Aysel was unimpressed, not batting an eye.

He didn't particularly consider any of the three a threat, and as long as they didn't behave aggressively, he was no danger to them either. While his expression remained impassive, he was pleased when Madeira finally stepped forward, speaking plainly and reasonably.

She ordered her companion around with a casual tone that spoke of never being challenged; Aysel arched one brow slightly, wondering if that was unique to their relationship, or if the blonde woman was instead a spoiled brat simply used to getting her way. Only time would tell, but the Eth found his curiosity piqued in either case.

Aysel nodded in acknowledgement at Madeira's words, moving aside to let the woman get closer to the body, watching her kneel; her prayer intrigued him, and he spoke casually as she looked the body over. "A devotee of Dira, then?" He asked, offering no help as Madeira rolled the body to the side. She handled the body without blanching or squirming, all things that Aysel noted mentally, building a profile of the woman and her companion. Perhaps she wasn't spoiled after all, judging by the brisk and unflinching way she handled the body.

The other man drew closer, speaking up finally as well, and he seemed vaguely familiar; a newcomer to the city, that much Aysel could tell. He listened to the hunter as he backed up Madeira's words, and hummed thoughtfully. Looking for something? Inside of an Ethaefal? Unease rippled through Aysel.

Their words unsettled him slightly, and he pursed his lips into a frown, shifting his weight from foot to foot. "Shinya, yes. The city's guard." While he'd had his suspicions, her lack of familiarity with the word confirmed to Aysel that she was new to the city as well even before she admitted it.

"I have only my suspicions of what is happening right now, and I am not in the position to disclose that information to you just yet. My name is Aysel. I work alongside Talora and Zintila herself to keep the city running smoothly. You work for the Dusk Tower? As what, an instructor?" That in itself was curious; the Tower families were very elite and selective about who they allowed in as students, let alone instructors. Aysel found himself becoming more and more curious about the woman in front of him.

"I ask that for now you stay in my company. We will head to the Twuele once this investigation is done, which I doubt will take long, and I will ask that you also accompany me there. I would like to believe you, of course, but you are all still suspects until proven otherwise. If you choose to leave I will not stop you, but suspect of your involvement will only grow, and I have no doubt you'll be seeing a Shinya soon in that case. Alternatively, humour me, and not only might we clear you of suspicion, but you also may just receive answers to some of your questions."

Digging around in his pockets, Aysel retrieved a handkerchief, wrapping the bloody knife that had been used as the murder weapon carefully before stowing it on his person; it was the only piece of evidence they seemed to have at the moment, and he wasn't so careless as to forget it at the crime scene.

At Madeira's orders, should Allister look around, he would come up empty-handed. The blood went no farther than the clearing in which Chiona had murdered the Lethaefal; if he chose to do his exploration in his animal form, the iron scent of blood would also lead away from the crime scene, in the direction which Chiona had been taken away.

Her scent could also be smelled from the main path, mingled with the smell of the Ethaefal, drenched heavily in fear; overlaying it were the smells of many others, including himself and Madeira. It was simply the path they had all followed on such a fateful night into the park.

Whether Allister should choose to report his findings (straight to Aysel or through Madeira) or not, Aysel did not waste much more time. He doubted anything around would tell him anything of note; the stories from the others and what he had seen himself all lined up, and whether the murder had been planned or not, it seemed to have been a sole venture for Chiona, who had chased the Eth down with only the knife and grisly determination. There was nothing left to do there.

Aysel was the first to notice, having seen it before; Madeira and Zach, being closest to the body, would notice soon after. The body of the Eth seemed to shimmer in the moonlight before it began to crumble to dust. The horns were the first to go, the tips of the glass-like appendages turning to a fine, glittering dust before the process quickly sped up, racing down across the Eth's face and over his entire body, until all that was left were his clothes and the sparkling dust that was once his body.

Aysel bent down, retrieving the clothes and gently shaking the fine powder loose, folding the blood-drenched fabric. The clothes were still damp, and he grimaced slightly as the blood stained his pale hands, making sure to keep the clothing away from himself as he carried it.

"Please follow me to the Twuele," he announced to the trio. "Again, I won't force you to. But do keep in mind what I've said." He cast his cool gaze first over Zach, then Madeira, and lastly settled it on Allister. He felt that the blonde woman would likely follow, if only for her own curiosity, and her companion would surely accompany her. The hunter, he wasn't so sure about.

Turning on his heel, Aysel lead the way back onto the path, leaving the bloody scene behind. He did not turn his head to see which of the three followed him, if any, though he listened for footsteps. The walk was a bit of a long one, at least a full bell or two; if anyone who followed Aysel had questions for him before reaching the Twuele, they had plenty of opportunity to ask. Otherwise, he would lead in silence, nodding to any citizens who were out and about and greeted him.

Their procession garnered a few curious looks along the way, but finally they reached the Twuele, the building towering above them into the night sky, framed by the stars and shining in the moonlight. "If any of you are having second thoughts, this is your last chance," Aysel said, pausing in front of the doors.

OOC :
I believe Zach has disappeared, so it's only you two left in this thread. I'll apologize again for how long it took me to get to this; thank you guys for being so patient! :D

This is your last chance to sort of pester Aysel with any questions; after this, you'll be heading into getting more info on the main plot. If you don't have any questions for him, feel free to keep your posts short if you want.
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By the Light of the Moon

Postby Madeira Craven on February 3rd, 2019, 9:37 pm

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Madeira listened as the Eth spoke, answering her questions like a politician at the stand. Can't disclose that information? A perfectly rational, sane woman went off the rails and murdered a precious Eth ten chimes from Madeira's backyard and that's all he had to say? It was an effort not to snort with derisiveness.

Aysel, his name was. Madeira wondered where she had heard that name before, until he mentioned he worked with Zintila herself. By the gods, he was a king! Perhaps not in name, but he might as well be. Her distain instantly sobered. It would be very, very bad to piss this man off. Not only because of his position, but because he looked to be heading this investigation everyone had stumbled into. The last thing she wanted was to have the Shinya knocking at her door like they were common criminals.

And if following him could get her answers about these murderers she found herself employed with, all the better.

"I work as a Spiritism instructor. I just started today", she sighed, glancing at the dragging trail of blood that led to Chiona, her new superior.

Just then, she noticed something strange about the body. It was sparkling. Every inch of his perfect marble skin was shining like a precious stone, and with her hands still in his hair Madeira felt his skull turn loose and brittle under her fingers. She pulled her hands away with a muffled yelp as his beautiful glassy horns suddenly crumbled, spilling away like sand into the moonlit grass. Soon there was nothing left but torn clothes and a pile of sparkling dust where the Ethaefal used to be.

As calm as could be, Aysel collected the clothing, brushing off the dust that used to be his brethren.

"Please follow me to the Twuele," he announced, every inch a leader.

Madeira numbly wiped her bloody hands clean on the grass and rose heavily to her feet, but not before pocketing a few handfuls of the Eth's dust when Aysel's back was turned. She wanted to get a better look at the substance later. The tall Eth was already ahead, having turned and left the moment he had made their position clear. Madeira had to jog a few steps to keep up.

"You said you had suspicions about what was happening right now", she huffed and puffed, struggling to keep up with his long stride. "But you said that even before you took a look at the scene or even talked to Chiona. And you were on the scene ticks after it happened! That means something strange has been happening all this season, hasn't it? What has been happening here? What strange events are going on? Please, I have people I love here and we are all in the dark."

Eventually, after a solid bell of walking through the city streets following a king with an armful of bloody clothing, they arrived. The Twuele was enormous. A tower built to puncture the night sky. Ansel gave them a chance to turn back, but Madeira dismissed it with a shake of her head. She was going to see this through and get the answers she deserved.
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By the Light of the Moon

Postby Allister on February 5th, 2019, 3:06 am

ImageIf Allister had to announce his emotions to Madeira, she’d never understand him. Thankfully, the bond handled such transactions with all the efficiency of a miserly slave trader from the backwater plantations of the Kenashian swamps. Such bastards would shave the skin from their own bodies if it meant they could pay less for a service or increase the profits from selling the souls of others. Cards in a deck of life, the kelvic was used to not being a dealer. Blessed bones, he’d been gifted to one, though. Her round belly pressed against the small of his back as she leaned up and whispered into his ear. The sensations were a mix of joy, lust and fear. The cold sweat that formed on his brow was for the apprehension that tingled the fine hairs along his lobe in the hushed breaths of his love.

The black eyes dug into the scene as it unfolded though the presence of the strange man with horns -the not dying one- unsettled the former slave. Dominating personalities ruffled the scars and whip lines as goosebumps climbed up his spine. There was far too much information for his brain to handle at once between the group that departed, the body on the ground, the newcomer and the foreman with the potent air of importance scrambled messages that the hyena desperately tried to sort out in his mind. Madeira’s actions were decisive and easy to follow. The goddess was the one thing he could attune to for guidance; always. The only direction -true north- for the kelvic, he watched her with a predatory stare that was tucked away in his poorly postured stance. This dialect, that discussion, these orders and those suggestions all filtered through golden hair, blood hands and eyes that were as frozen as they were acute.

The spiritist was helpful, observant and diligent in her attempts to further the investigation. Allister was proud of her and grateful for her every move. She was a pleasure to watch in the element of gristle and gore, an arena that did not disturb the former slave’s constitution at all. Alliter let smiles, giggles and grins escape when appropriatte and also when completely irrelevant. Such was the nature of naievty. The child, for all intensive purposes, knew so little about the world that he was easily swallowed by the situation and thus oblivious to its magnitude.

It was only when the horned man began to move away and the other man faded into the night that the hackles quivered to life. The scavenger sensed the change in his mistress and moved to help her up. HIs glassy gaze noted the shuffle of her hands through the ash where the body used to lay. Allister nearly fell over as the man simply started to blow away with the evening breeze. How had he missed that? Calloused hands made sure she was steady on her feet then pocketed a few fistfuls of the deteriorating body before he got up. Whatever Madeira wanted with the former skin and bones turned to powder was not his concern. Making sure she had plenty to play with- was.

The kelvic was a half step behind his beloved goddess. Despite her condition, he found her bounding persistence to be adorable but he worried for the panting and more than once moved in a way that offered to give her rest as both a stop and that he would carry her. Surely, she was lighter than the trunk he had lugged about when he’d been half caved by a freak of nature and tattoos. Allister giggled at his own impression of another that would so easily be applied to himself. It was not long and the city was around them once more. Beautiful and alive- Lhavit was as inviting as it was confusing. The kelvic stuck close to his bonded and made sure to clip an arm around her when she would allow. He wanted nothing more than to ease her burdens and knew the investigative parts were beyond him. Coddling and casting cold stares at the weird horned fellow would have to do for now.
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By the Light of the Moon

Postby Luminescence on February 23rd, 2019, 9:27 pm

It seemed only the blonde woman and her companion accompanied him; Aysel was fine with that. If the other man turned out to be a suspect, he had no doubt in the Shinya's abilities to track him down if needed.

Madeira's impassioned plea didn't seem to move Aysel as she struggled to keep up with his long strides; his face remained impassive, his voice smooth as he responded to her. "I told you, I'm not in the position to answer your questions right now. You're just as in the dark as any other citizen in this city; however, chance has made it so you very likely won't be for much longer. Patience. You'll get your answers."

The blonde spiritist instructor steadfastly refused his final offer for them to leave; Aysel wasn't surprised by it, and simply nodded. Her companion stuck close by her, still silent, hovering protectively and continuing to cast narrowed glares at Aysel.

A strange pair indeed, he thought, somewhat bemused, as he led them into the Twuele. The ground floor was large and mostly empty; a few Constellations whisked back and forth between rooms, and one sat behind the receptionist's desk, but it was otherwise empty. Aysel nodded to the woman behind the desk before briskly striding forward. "This way," He called, to Madeira and Allister, lest they gawk too long.

"I warn you, it is a bit of a climb," Aysel cautioned, as he approached the stairs. Those who regularly worked on the higher floors of the Twuele were used to it; himself and many other Constellations had long since adjusted to the number of stairs in the tower, and the muscles in their legs no longer cramped at the mere thought of climbing all eight floors. For those who had never climbed the stairs before, and for someone as heavily pregnant as Madeira...they would no doubt prove a challenge.

Showing the first signs of consideration, Aysel set a slow pace as he climbed; he was still a few steps ahead of the pair, but he did not stride ahead without glancing back as he had on their walk to the Twuele, and when needed, he adjusted his speed so that Madeira and Allister could keep up.

He did not stop at any of the floors they passed, offering the two only brief glimpses onto the other floors; they were all equally sparkling and pristine, some busier than others.

Finally, they reached the seventh floor; the marble staircase stopped, and the three found themselves in a sort of waiting area. A few plush chairs sat nearby, and to the left was a set of golden double doors emblazoned with an engraving of the sun, while to the right a similar set of doors, shining silver, were engraved with a design of the moon. A few steps ahead was another staircase, this one made of glittering skyglass.

"Please, wait here," Aysel inclined his head towards the chairs, and without waiting, continued forward up the skyglass stairs, to the eight floor. He knocked upon the crystalline doors of Zintila's chamber, and after a moment her voice called out, sharp and clear.

"Enter," came the voice of the Star Lady. Aysel pushed the doors open, striding in and giving a low bow before straightening up. Talora was standing near Zintila, the two seemingly having been in deep conversation; nearby, Chiona sat in a chair, hands and feet bound, squirming and spitting as Lheili perched nearby, clearly distressed as she tried to calm her lover. Absently, Aysel noted that Chiona's wound had been bandaged; the white chair she sat on was stained with crimson and would need to be replaced.

"We fetched Doctor Alessia to treat her wound," Talora said, upon following Aysel's gaze to Chiona. "She'll be returning shortly with something to help calm her, perhaps even put her into a deep sleep."

Aysel nodded his understanding, then looked to Zintila. "I said it was a bad idea." He tried to keep his voice level, but there was a tone of accusation to it.

Zintila leveled her gaze on him, her normally sparkling eyes hard and cold like steel. "Do not deign to tell me that you told me so, Aysel. I did what I thought best. There is no guarantee that this would not have happened had I acted otherwise." Her voice was sharp, but did not raise in volume.

Aysel pressed his lips together and glanced away, and silence fell heavily in the room for a moment. The Alvina broke it with a long, low sigh. "I do not entirely know what to make of this," She admitted. "What we destroyed...it's power was much stronger than I thought. Those items are always difficult to predict, even when their power is minimal. And from such a creature..." Zintila trailed off; Talora and Aysel exchanged glances with each other.

The Alvina may seem above all things mortal to the citizens of Lhavit, so close was she to divinity, but the two Ethaefal knew her well enough to know she was upset. She felt as if she had let her people down by letting them get hurt; she was blaming herself for seemingly making the wrong decision.

Aysel cleared his throat gently. "I have two people who stumbled upon Chiona. I don't know how helpful they will be, but it's better than going off of nothing. They are new to Lhavit; one of them works with Chiona at the Dusk Tower. She's a spiritist instructor, and full of questions."

Zintila nodded, straightening her back, smoothing her palms over the skirt of her flowing indigo dress, once more entirely composed, even to the familiar eyes of Aysel and Talora. "Bring them in."

With a nod, Aysel left to fetch Allister and Madeira from where they had been waiting. "Come," was all he said, motioning for the two to follow him up the skyglass stairs into Zintila's quarters.

The room was large and glittering; white marble and clear quartz made up most of the architecture and even furniture, and the whole room seemed to shimmer and glow with a slight opalescence. Above, the ceiling shone with the lights of the stars, as if they were underneath the night sky.

Zintila eyed the pair curiously as they entered, taking them in with one quick look as she approached, her skirt flowing around her legs. "Welcome," she spoke, quietly. "It is always a pleasure for me to meet those within my city, even if they are new to it; I can only apologize that it is under such circumstances. I am Zintila, Alvina of the stars. Who are you?"

Aysel had told her who the pair were, but she wanted to hear it for herself from them. The Alvina stood patiently, awaiting introductions, though she did not offer her hand to shake. Once they were given, she motioned to a nearby table with two chairs. "Please, sit. I have questions for you, but I am sure you have many of your own; it is only fair, since I am requesting your aid, that I provide you with information. What do you wish to know?"

The question hung in the air; finally, Madeira could ask her questions freely, and she was being guaranteed answers by an Alvina, no less. However, it seemed that she expected some sort of help in return, though she hadn't quite specified what that help was. Aysel and Talora hovered nearby, silent as they watched the exchange.

The question hung in the air; finally, Madeira could ask her questions freely, and she was being guaranteed answers by an Alvina, no less. However, it seemed that she expected some sort of help in return, though she hadn't quite specified what that help was. Aysel and Talora hovered nearby, silent as they watched the exchange, wondering what Zintila could garner from the two that they already had not, and how it would be of any help; yet they didn't dare question their Star Lady.
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By the Light of the Moon

Postby Madeira Craven on February 26th, 2019, 2:53 am

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This pompous, imperious asshole, Madeira seethed behind her carefully constructed expression of patience. All of her practice in acting over her long career in Spiritism was on full display as she disguised that look in her eye that threatened to backhand the Eth. Patience, he preached. She was just as in the dark as any other citizen, he said. Well, that was simply not good enough. Not after what they just saw, steps from their house in their first days on this cursed mountain. Damn him. Damn him for not warning any of his people about whatever madness is at play here.

The Twuele's first floor was cavernous and mostly empty, yet still ruled by the kind of orderly chaos particular to government buildings. The tapping of their shoes seemed unusually loud as Aysel ushered them along like wandering sheep. At the far side there was a set of stairs, and finally he showed a sliver of emotion as he turned to Madeira and warned with sympathy that this was a very long climb.

Madeira thought of how towering this building looked from the outside, and could already feel her legs cramping. Half a year at sea had done her fitness no favours, and all of it was compounded by her pregnancy. After that bell long walk trying to keep up with the two giants at her side all she wanted was to have a tea and a rest, but she wouldn't let the king see it. Instead she looped her arm through Allister's and made him take the majority of her weight as they climbed.

And climbed.

And climbed.

By the end her legs were shaking under her skirt and she had all of her not inconsiderable weight hanging on the poor kelvic's arm. Yet whenever the Eth looked back to check on his sheep, Madeira made sure to smile, like this was nothing more than a scenic stroll.

At the seventh floor the pristine government floors were replaced with a kind of resplendent waiting area, flanked with two sets of opposing double doors and yet another set of stairs. Skyglass was everywhere, and such plush, shining luxury of the space was fit for a king. Or a queen. Madeira glanced at the stairs that led to the final floor. She had an idea who was up there.

"Please, wait here", he commanded with courtesy. And they did. As soon as his back was turned Madeira sank into the nearest chair with an almost orgasmic sigh of relief.

She wanted to know what Aysel was saying up there, but she was not brave enough to sneak closer, or to demand Allister use his projection to better hear. No, he said to wait, so they will. Madeira turned to her bondmate.

"We've stumbled onto something really, really bad", she addressed the obvious, her eyebrows creased with worry. "We need answers- all of them. Everything that Eth won't give us." This felt like that shadow plague they had fled in Riverfall. The government there had nothing better to say than to stay inside as their city rotted in the shadows. This wasn't as big, but this was much more personal. She worked with that woman, for gods sake. She was a guest of her family.

In time Aysel reappeared with a single demand: "come."

Holding tight to Allister, Madeira pulled herself to her feet and followed him up that last flight of stairs.

The top floor of the Twuele proved to be an enormous apartment, all shining with that particular luminescence of skyglass. But Madeira couldn't take in the scenery long. Her eyes fell to Chiona, who was bound to a pristine white chair now soaked with blood, and spitting with rage. The human woman she saw in the park before was standing over her, fretting like a sister.

No, like a lover. There was nothing familial about the way she was stroking her clawed hands and twisted face. Neither of them seemed to know Madeira and Allister were in the room, Chiona lost as she was to madness, and the woman lost to Chiona.

But seated in the middle of the room, flanked by Aysel and his female counterpart, was a being Madeira knew at once to be Zintia, though she had never been described to her before. The former goddess was glowing, her skin full of stars and her eyes the gold of captured suns. She looked no older than Madeira, but there was a timelessness to her that whispered of a millennia above the sky. Even halved in power and chained to the earth, she was still divine, and still overwhelming. Madeira's stiff posture couldn't help but bend in her presence.

"Welcome," she spoke quietly while Madeira was still finding her tongue. She spoke kindly, with the kind of hollow pleasantries expected such introductions, and introduced herself as Zintila, Alvina of the stars. "Who are you?" she asked.

"It is our great pleasure to be part of your city", Madeira lied to the Alvina with her own kind of hollow courtesy even as she curtsied. "I'm Madeira Craven. This is my bondmate, Allister Useless. We're honored to meet you." She spoke for the kelvic with the same kind of casual arrogance that she displayed for Aysel back in the park. As far as she was concerned, when it came to Allister, her word came before kings and gods.

The Alvina offered her two guests a seat, and Madeira moved to obey, edging around the snarling Chiona. Behind the table it suddenly felt like an interrogation, and the Spiritist felt the first tinglings of apprehension. But it seemed their prize was to be served before their test, for Zintia promised them their answers before she asked her own. Though what aide they could give the former goddess she couldn't even guess.

"Please", she began, "just tell me, and give me your word, that whatever this-" she waved at the growling mess of Chiona, "-is, it will not affect me or my family. I live with ghosts and kelvics and have a child on the way.

"And with all due respect, your grace, Aysel has answered nothing. He was there. Aysel and the two women were steps behind us when we arrived at the murder. He knows what this is, I'm sure of it, which means you do too. Please, start from the beginning, and explain what led up to this perfectly sane, rational woman suddenly going murderous. And why, if he had suspicions like he said, those suspicions were never made public."

Her voice was strong and steady as demanded answers from someone she should be holding her tongue around, but her eyes betrayed her nerves. Every few ticks her gaze would flicker back to Chiona, as the dust of the poor murdered Eth grew heavy in her pocket. She was beginning to thing Chiona had escaped some sort of imprisonment or restraint, and that was why the other three were so hot on her heels. But if that was so then it would sound like she was accusing the ruler of Lhavit of negligent murder. From under the table her sought Allister's hand with her own.
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By the Light of the Moon

Postby Allister on February 27th, 2019, 5:19 am

ImageAllister felt the heat coming from Madiera’s side of the bond and in incensed his own anger. Turmoil churned like a slow ladle in the hands of a bitter chandler who poured his grievous thoughts into his candles. The negativity would come full circle when clients would burn the wicks and experience the bubbling rage in their own hearts to reflect the injustice the kelvic now felt as he stared at the regal and distant horned man who seemed to ignore the fact that the great spiritist was with child. The loyal servant was most displeased with what he deemed to be a direct threat.

Aysel -arsehole- hadn’t but the limited vocabulary of the former slave left him with a need to stifle an upstart conversation that would surely not help their cause. So, in an effort to leave the talking to his mistress, Allister bit down on the corner of his bottom lip. After a few moments, a trickle of bright red blood seeped from the seal of his lips and dropped down to his chin and then slowly worked back towards his throat. The scavenger enjoyed the taste of blood, even his own, and lingered in the metallic staunch of his life’s essence. Something about the smell of fresh blood wafted into his nostrils and caused them to flare in welcome. The thumping organ in his chest quieted briefly enough to catch that the goddess he served had a plan.

The blonde goddess put on a mask of strength that even fooled her most loyal apostle. So they marched onward and upward. At first, the hyena was simply in awe of the building and every riser gave him less cause to trust this self-important pretty boy who had led them around thus far. It quickly became apparent through the bond that Madeira’s physical strength was waning but rather than protest or ask for an indulgence, she simply leaned into her kelvic meat shield more and more. Useless radiated joy and welcomed the ever-increasing pressure the expectant mother laid upon his arm. His own muscles burned from the exertion and it only served to remind him of how powerful the Craven truly was.

Allister bested Madeira in feats of strength and agility but that was to be expected since he was merely a beast. She was divine and needn’t expend her energies on such mundane activities yet here she was bursting with child and hot-footing it up the endless stairs in the tallest building the kelvic had ever seen. His own pain was rude behind the black eyes. The bonded young man forced his legs to work in rhythm with the lanky goatman. Each flight tricked the simple canine’s mind into believing that it was one step taller than the last. Still, Allister gathered more and more of Madeira’s weight into his arms as they ascended the stairway to answers.

When the landing unfolded, Allister was not above showing his relief. It was only after the turd for a guide had vanished that his lady had allowed herself to rest. Allister knelt in front of her and gingerly lifted her left foot and placed it on his thigh. The shiver of her muscles informed him that his own suffering was meaningless when compared with the effort his goddess had shown. His calloused hands stretched their long fingers up along her calf and began to knead at the fibers which had tensed and rolled themselves into a thousand tiny knots beneath the milky skin. Up and behind the knee, he pressed his fingertips and chased the resistance of her body’s fatigue.

Love poured from his hands as adoration filled his side of the bond. Allister let his hands roam up and down her leg until he felt he had sufficiently weakened the built-up soreness then he set her foot back on the ground and took hold of her right foot and repeated the process all over again. The way he folded her skin between his fingers and against his palms was done with such care that it might lead a casual observer to give the hyena far more credit than was his due. It was his heart that taught him the techniques to ease her weariness. The servant grinned as his body reacted to the golden sensations of prolonged contact with the spiritist brought and used the waves of gooseflesh that coated his body as a sign to refrain from any further ministrations.

Allister rocked back on his haunches and regarded his lady as she mused over the current plight. Her thoughts were far above his own logic but the kelvic didn’t get a chance to delve along that line as Aysel beckoned them to climb yet more stairs; sinister prick. The pallid youth wasted no time and springing to his feet despite the ache in his legs and back. Strong arms and hands nearly hoisted Madeira into his grasp. He would have gladly carried her or let her ride him but Allister knew her pride was far too great for such a spectacle.

Soon, they stood inside a large room much like the great room of the manor but only in size. This luxurious space was brimming with elegance, refined beauty and a patient kind of luxury that seeped under the surface of Allister’s eyes. Slowly, he began to garner a greater respect for true power for this was beyond the Dusk tower and a whole realm above Craven Manor back in Alvadas. It took mere moments for the introductions to bring forth their host.

Allister loved Madeira. He revered her and depended upon her for nearly every aspect of his life so to say that Zintia took his breath away was to cause an eclipse in the kelvic soul’s sky. Hollow eyes like marbles of polished onyx took in the divine form and quickly looked away as his knees bent and dropped him in a posture of humility before the alvina. The performer knew not what such a word meant but the power that this alvina seemed to cast about was palpable to the sensitive nature of the hyena. It was in this place of respect that several things became abundantly clear to the kelvic.

First was that he was more like Aysel than he ever would have suspected. The tight-lipped ordeal and somewhat rushed delivery were simply an execution of orders from the mistress of Lhavit. Allister would die before doling out secrets passed to him by Madeira. The way the man watched Zintia was mirrored by another in the room and both held the same kind of admiration for their mistress as the hyena did for his keeper. The second revelation was that the murderer, ravenous and bound, was present as well.

Heckles rose into a tense kind of stall that allowed thoughts to run roughshod over the small bit of logic Allister possessed. He was enticed by the bondage and felt a part of his come alive that he quickly tucked away in the dark recesses of his mind as baser instincts reared themselves in the form of a click that resonated from the base of his jaw. He was next to Madeira and moved with her as she sat but he only perched on the edge of the seat that placed him between the fiend and his most sacred treasure.

The dialogue was not nearly as important as the rest of the room. Allister struggled with the weeping woman. Was she attached to this crazy lady? Obviously but how? The kelvic hovered on the edge of his cushion and reached into the bond for some guidance. He feared the power of the beautiful woman who strode about in her finery. Madeira deserved that kind of influence but Allister hadn’t found a way to give it to her yet. The statuesque minions and the snarling woman all fed into his fear of being unable to defend his blessed spiritist should they turn against them. The hand furthest from the blue-eyed mother-to-be fidgeted with his hidden razor while he flexed the muscles of his arms, neck and chest underneath his coat. The leather’s gaudy appearance and heavy nature made it look like a generally unsettled posture and concealed his true nature. The exercise was warming up his body in case he would have to act all the while he avoided the look of the woman in charge. Something about her made Allister feel small and he didn’t like it.

Finally, as she always did, Madeira soothed the burns of overthought with a simple touch of her fingertips. Cool and steady, her hand slipped into Allister’s beneath the table which sat before them and the kelvic exhaled a breathy sigh. Marbles of deepest night rolled to find the pregnant woman glowing amidst the starglass. Waves of tension and stress were released into the room as the rescued lost cause, pale as a ghost, became lost in the woman he loved. Zintia, in all her splendor, faded into the background along with the sounds of madness until the only thing left was Allister’s beating heart as it chanted praise for his bonded. Ghastly fingers of blister and bone wrapped around the delicate stems of the spiritist’s hand and the hyena smiled a large gash of teeth. Everything would be just fine so long as Madeira had her wits and her iron will.
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