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resolve deepening, Ennisa attempts to find out more about Clement, hopefully with a bit of assistance

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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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Inside the Shadow (Autumn)

Postby Ennisa on November 9th, 2019, 8:41 pm

81st Autumn 519 AV, late evening
"speech"
"others"


Ennisa couldn't settle into sleep. Her sleep over Autumn had been broken many times. She was ordinarily a light sleeper, but the season had been draining for more than one reason. Now, she tossed and turned, her mind running over and over the events of the past couple of days. By all accounts she should have drifted off to sleep straight away, but even though dark bags were gathering under her eyes, sleep evaded her.

How could she encourage Itzi to leave Clement? How could she prove his unworthiness? It was these and questions like these that were keeping her awake. At about midnight, after she had become fed up with not being able to sleep, she decided to get up fully and write. She fumbled around in the darkness of the stuffy room for her notebook and writing implements. Once she'd found these, she dragged the chair over to the window and sat down, letting the dim light of the moon flood across the page.

It was barely enough to see, but her eyes were adjusted to the dim light level, and so she didn't bother lighting a candle. She dipped the quill into the pot and began to write. Her handwriting was scruffy, but she was careful to tilt the page both so that she could see it and so that the ink wouldn't run or smudge.

Itzi believes she is in love with Clement. I know he is a bad man, I have seen him treat her poorly, so why why why does she stay with him? Why is she so deluded? What is he promising her? How can I combat his lies... And who was the ghost in the house? What did she do to me?

Her thoughts turned briefly to Madeira, the Spiritist. She would undoubtedly know. Her face briefly twisted into a grimace at the thought of that woman. She continued writing.

Investigate the house. Be careful of the ghost. How to tell if the ghost is there or not?
Ask the neighbours what they know. Have a suitable lie ready. Maybe tell them I'm a relative of someone who used to live locally to that street? I'm looking for answers about a missing relative. Lead the conversation on to who lives in the black-doored house.
Confront Clement. Make him stop, however I can.
Make peace with Itzi and bring some kind of proof. How???


She stopped writing. She tapped the quill nib against the paper a couple of times, letting the ink bleed out. That was the trickiest question of all, and the one that made her feel most uneasy. No matter how much she went around and around, the answer evaded her. Nevertheless, writing down her thoughts seemed to have helped. The moon had drifted a little across the pitch-dark sky, and suddenly her eyelids drooped. She set the book and pen down on the chair, and stumbled across over to bed once more. Sleep was coming. She crawled under the covers, and fell into a fitful sleep.

WC : 506

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Ennisa
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Inside the Shadow (Autumn)

Postby Ennisa on November 9th, 2019, 10:58 pm

82nd Autumn 519 AV, morning
"speech"
"others"


As soon as dawn's sunshine fell onto the pillow, Ennisa woke from the confusing dream she was having with a start. She grasped the sheets, not really fully awake, and thoroughly confused. Where am I? After a few ticks of staring at the walls with her legs wrapped in the tangled sheets, she realised she was home, like normal. Ennisa took a breath and tried to relax her beating heart. She wriggled her toes and her fingers in the usual way she did to stretch herself awake, and then swung herself out of bed with a violent yawn.

After a brief breakfast of cold brew tea and bread, she donned her hat and slung her backpack over her shoulder, complete with water skin, notebook, ink and pen as she ordinarily carried. Her dagger was strapped to her belt. She had a plan, and there was no time to waste.

Ennisa left the Solar Winds and began the walk to the black-doored house. She'd been turning up for the past few days now, so she would probably be a familiar sight to the more discerning residents. That was why she wasn't going to spy, this time. This time, she was going to turn up as herself. Or rather, as Sky, her shabbily-constructed alter ego that she had used earlier in the season. Not that Sky had proved useful for her at that time. Now though, she had a slightly better cover story, and there was no scamming involved, just a slight bend of the truth.

The walk to the house was not long, about fifteen to twenty chimes, depending on the route. She didn't even have to stray from Zintia Peak. Ennisa took her time, mostly because she was dog-tired and her feet were dragging. It also gave her time to think about the story she would use to find out more about the resident, or residents, of the house.

Yet she was struggling to think. Her mood was black, streaked with worry, and her mind distracted. A shadow seemed to lie over her, and every thought turned to dismay. The dream she had so suddenly awoken from that morning still had some unknown hold over her, so that as she walked, she didn't realise where she was going. As it was, she arrived at the street much sooner than she realised, and for a moment she stood there dumbfounded and lost.

However, it turned out that Ennisa had no time to think after all. Before she could even go over to one of the neighbouring houses, like she'd planned to, the very man that she was trying to avoid opened the pitch-black door and stepped out brazen as day onto the street. Ennisa was forced to walk, quite rapidly, to the edge of the street, her heart pounding in her chest so as to avoid his notice. She peered from the side and wondered if he had spotted her, but Clement was intent on something else and had already started walking away.

Where are you going? What should I do now... She followed her instinct, and began trailing the blonde-haired man. He was alone this time, which she was glad about, but he was acting strangely - even for him. It was as if he suspected he was being watched. Ennisa kept having to duck behind walls and tree trunks, or hide behind someone else. Her shifty behaviour often meant that the Lhavitians seeing her must have thought she was crazy, but it did the job of protecting her from his sight.

They progressed like this for a few chimes, until Clement stopped outside an innocuous looking building, paused, and stepped within as he shut the door carefully behind him. Ennisa took a good look at the exterior. It was lit with a red lantern, whose light was barely visible in the bright and warm sunshine. Ennisa hesitated a moment, her mind ticking over the sight, until she realised in a snap exactly where the man had arrived.

The Red Lantern? The mystery grew deeper. She took a deep breath, wondered what the petch he was up to, wondered what the petch she was up to, and approached the brothel with only a slight degree of trepidation.

As soon as she stepped within, her eyes were assaulted with a concoction of scarlet, rouge, and deeper, lush burgundy. She looked out of place amongst the opulence, a straight-backed figure, dressed in plain clothes and wearing a dark hat. It was, perhaps, the stern and focused expression that gave her away more than anything else, yet only a couple of the patrons looked up at her, and she ignored them all. She looked around for Clement, and soon saw him talking in an urgent, low voice to a lady serving at the bar.

Ennisa loitered nearby half at the bar and half standing in the lounge, and kept herself tilted casually away from the blonde-haired man. Her anger boiled within her even just being in the presence of him, but he was engrossed in the conversation and had yet to notice Ennisa. This was a perfect opportunity to figure out what he was up to. Why he was cheating on Itzi by going to a brothel, of all places. She sat at the bar and pretended to be shy so as not to encourage any of the workers over, and she listened.

"Miss, I don't want to sleep with you. I was reliably told that you had love potions here! Don't you have something, anything? My lover she's... she loves me very much, but she gets so embarrassed. Do you not have any potion to help her out?" The pleasure-worker blanched at his words. The implications were unpleasant, to say the least, and went against any code of conduct the young lady might have had. "Certainly not sir! I can't help you with that." She lay a hand gently on his arm, and attempted a smile. A customer was still a customer, after all. "But I can help you with..-" Clement was not in the mood for tomfoolery. He shrugged her hand off as irritation bubbled closer and closer to the surface. "You can't help me. Fine. I'll go elsewhere, and..-"

He turned towards the door to leave, but Ennisa had gotten too close, and Clement's eyes widened in surprise, then anger as he recognised her. "You! I told you to leave me alone." He snarled and his voice was loud and acidic, drenched through with the kind of anger Ennisa had seen writ large across his face the other night, in the incident with the kitchen plate. She took a couple of steps back, suddenly afraid, for she saw now just how unpredictable he was. She, and the other members of the Red Lantern, barely had time to react before he swung a fist at her, eliciting a few gasps of shock at the sudden violence in a place of pleasure.

WC : 1159

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Inside the Shadow (Autumn)

Postby Autumn Rose on November 12th, 2019, 4:52 am


Autumn had grown long already, too long for Autumn, and she was trying to find some way to keep herself busy. Regularly, she didn’t mind the seclusion of Gweneveh’s room, but sharing a room with a lady of the night had its drawbacks. When it came time for business, Autumn wanted to be out. It wasn’t so much that she was disgusted by the act or the fact it was done with strangers, though less so on Gweneveh’s part. It was more that it reminded her of all the things she could no longer do now that she wasn’t counted among the living. She couldn’t quite place why it made her uncomfortable. Maybe it was jealousy.

As it was though, she needed something to do, because existing was something she did around the clock. Existing was different for the dead than it was for the living. There was no respite. There was no sleep. There was no time to shut out the mind and forget everything for a moment. Existing was a twenty-four bell a day effort. One slip in the will to exist meant losing existence all together. It helped to have powerful motivators, things like hate, but there were days she forgot to hate all together and only continued existing out of the habit of having done so for so long.

Today, people watching gave her a distraction from the monotony of her existence, and the Red Lantern was an absolute treasure trove of people of every sort. Though the workers of the Lantern all seemed to share the same proclivity for an overgenerosity of exposed flesh, each of them was different in how they did so and how they presented it. Some were boisterous and confident while others played it coy, some even willing a blush into their cheeks at compliments from the clientele.

For their part, the clients were just as varied. Each seemed to have their own shape, from short and squat to tall and lean, male and female both, but all perhaps most differing in their tastes. For every shade of skin the Lantern had to offer, for every silhouette its many bodies cast, for every color hair, for every sexual appetite, there was a client willing and happy to pay, and few of the workers were idle at the moment.

Then something out of the ordinary happened, though Autumn had to admit that she wouldn’t have noticed if she hadn’t been watching. It began with a man. It was not that men were so uncommon here. In fact, everything about him was normal. Curly blond hair sat on top of a not unpleasant face. Tall, but not overly so, his mop of hair seemed to float above the mostly feminine crowd of the few workers who were still standing. His eyes located one of the few idle women in the crowd, and he wandered over. Altogether, that was unspectacular, an unremarkable occurrence as it was what tended to happen every time a man entered the place.

What followed was more interesting. A woman came in behind him, taller than most of the other women present with a head of pale hair, almost more silver than blond. Her appearance wasn’t odd nor was the fact that she was a woman. Though female clientele was not as common as their male counterparts, they were still a regular fixture at the Lantern. What was odd was that she wasn’t here for what the Lantern had to offer. She wasn’t here for company. She wasn’t even here to window shop. She was here for him, for the man who had entered just before her.

Whoever this young woman was, she had been following the man. Upon entering, she scanned the room and, finding him, meandered over toward the man. Anyone watching would not have seen her intent and purpose, but they didn’t share the bird’s eye view Autumn had. Watching from above, from nearly within the ceiling itself, she could see the unseen things no one else could see in their entirety. There were shifts in the way bodies were placed, allowing passage of the few bartenders to bring clients and workers alike their vice of choice. Subtle cues moved between the workers, signaling other women to step in when a worker realized she or he couldn’t give a patron what it was they were searching for.

Above it all though, she could see intentions, like some omnipotent goddess crafting the world to her pleasure. Each individual knew what they wanted and moved with the ebb and flow of the bodies, with the shifting of their placement, to get to where they wanted to be, to get what they wanted. Above all intents was hers, this pale woman’s, and her purpose had something to do with him.

Curiosity got the better of Autumn. Somehow, Maro had rubbed that much off on her. Keeping her essence within the ceiling itself, Autumn drifted across the room to hover over the man and eavesdropped on the brief conversation he held with the bartender. What she heard she didn’t like.

“I was reliably told you have love potions here! Don’t you have something, anything? My lover she's... she loves me very much, but she gets so embarrassed. Do you not have any potion to help her out?"

He was talking about drugging someone to sleep with her. This was rape. If she would have had the potency of mist to kill him, she would have outright. As it was though, she was little better than a fledgling spirit. Disgust filled her instead, but she didn’t seem to be the only one. The bartender’s response said she wasn’t impressed with his request. Realizing he wasn’t going to find what he wanted here, he turned, only to find the woman who was watching. His response said he wasn’t pleased to see her.

From her vantage point, Autumn could see intent, and his was to hurt the woman. The woman saw it too, perhaps through some previous experience with him, and stepped back to avoid what she was certain was coming. It came in the form of a balled-up fist being thrown at her. Autumn had seen it before it came. The tell-tale tensing of the shoulders, the planting of the feet. All this just before the lunge.

In a moment against her better judgment and against the preservation of her own existence, Autumn intervened. While her reaction time was slow, ghosts could move faster than any human being. In an instant, she ceased to exist. She blinked, and in the blinking of her eyes, of anyone’s eyes, she appeared again immediately in a different place.

It was a desperate measure, but it was the best she could think of. Suddenly, she was between the two with a fist flying at her face. At her bidding, her mist flooded upward and concentrated in her face, making her eyes almost alive with light in how blue her eyes became. That was all she could manage before it connected with her, as well as living flesh could strike the dead, but both she and he felt it. From everything that had ever been described to her by those who felt the touch of a ghost, his arm would feel a sharp sting followed by numbness.

She was not so fortunate. As flesh struck her materialized essence, it ripped mist away from her. Pain, pure and bright, ripped through her soul, and in its advent, she never felt so alive. Pain was one of the few sensations ghosts could still feel, and it was a reminder of life, no matter how cruel and twisted that was. Mist tore away from her soul, and Autumn knew she was weakened, but the fierce smile that crept over her lips didn’t betray as much. To any watching, him included, she looked stronger for the encounter and ready to fight, the soulmist bleeding from her periphery being the only sign that she didn’t have as strong of a grip on her materialization as she normally would.
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Autumn Rose
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Inside the Shadow (Autumn)

Postby Ennisa on November 15th, 2019, 10:56 pm

"speech"
"others"


Several things happened at once. Firstly, Ennisa instinctively recoiled, whilst bringing her hands up in front of her face in a clumsy, makeshift block. It was at that moment she realised just how ill-prepared she was. She almost tripped on her own feet as she tried to step out of the man's vengeful way. This, combined with a surge of shame over her sudden fear of the man, raised her temper, though there was no time to act upon it. Secondly, before Clement's fist could impact her, a ghost of all things appeared from out of thin air. The man was angry, and this made him slow. He had no chance to stop his right-hook even as his face registered the unexpected, and his fist collided with the swirling soulmist, to both his and Ennisa's shock. Several nearby patrons scuttled out of the way and retired into other parts of the brothel, feeling that this turn of events was in fact turning them off and their time would probably be better spent elsewhere.

Ennisa'se mind immediately turned to the ghost she had encountered in Clement's house, and then straight to the Spiritist she'd met earlier in the season. The blonde woman couldn't help but view the new arrival with a healthy pinch of mistrust and alarm. Her eyes quickly scanned the ghostly presence as she settled on her feet once again. The part of the ghost that immediately stood out was that of her icy blue eyes. The ethereal, unwavering look in those eyes chilled her to the bone in an instant. She was only thankful the emotion stirring there was not yet turned on her.

Clement, whose face was wrought with consternation, was wringing his hand to ease the pain of the chill, but his flash of anger had dissipated, and he began striding for the door to leave. It was obvious that there was nothing else here for him. Clement was more accustomed to ghosts than was immediately obvious, but Autumn was an unknown entity to him, and recently, his plans seemed to be unravelling. This was the sole reason for taking a gamble at the Red Lantern. His mark, Itzi, was proving more challenging to subdue than either he or his partner Laure had imagined, and with Ennisa lurking like an irritating fly, his attention was split between too many different threads for him to focus properly.

He reached the door. This was much to the relief of the various workers within the Red Lantern, who by the looks on their faces hadn't been relishing the hassle of sorting out the brewing ruckus. Ennisa was oblivious to the other people within the brothel. Her attention was focused on Clement. Now that she had been spotted by him, there was absolutely no point in continuing to sneak around after him.

She cast a side-long glance at the ghostly woman, who looked ready for a fight. "Hey, uh, thanks." She didn't really know what else to say. Before this season, she wouldn't have ever thought of speaking with a ghost. Now though, it seemed almost... normal. "This guy is a shyke." She tossed her hand at the retreating form of the aforementioned shyke to highlight who she was talking about, in case it hadn't been obvious. Clement had just opened the door and was leaving without a backwards glance.

Ennisa took one look at the back of his curly, blonde head, and remembered the look of pure desperation on Itzi's pale, tired face. She was in trouble. This man, this petcher, was the trouble. Could she realistically step back and let him walk away? No. Ennisa would get answers directly from the horse's mouth, one way or another. With her cover well and truly blown, and her ire riled, she began pacing after him. "I'm going after him." She spoke through gritted teeth. There was no planning involved this time.

She strode up to the door and firmly pushed it open. The heat of the day washed over her, and she squinted in the bright sunshine as she looked around for Clement. After a moment where she thought he'd disappeared, she suddenly spotted him jogging around a corner. She set into a run after him. She'd gotten faster recently, but she was still only good in short bursts. It was a short burst of power that she displayed now. "Hey!" She called after him. "Quit running, coward!"

She was oblivious to the moving, living city around her. There could have been tens of onlookers and she wouldn't have given a petch. Her hard gaze was focussed on Clement, so much so that she wouldn't even have noticed if the ghostly woman had followed after all. He'd turned around to approach her as she fell to a stop in front of him. Clement on the other hand was aware of the scrutiny Ennisa's little outburst was drawing. He hissed and spittle sprayed from his mouth, which caused her to recoil with disgust. "What the petch do you want, you insignificant wench? How many petching times do I have to tell you that Itzi doesn't want you around? How many times do I have to tell you to back out of our private lives? And what are you doing setting a ghost on me - are you an idiot?" He laughed quietly, although the laugh was somewhat verging on madness. "What more do you want?"

"I want you to stop running and stop lying and tell me what is going on! I want you to leave my friend alone. I want you to leave our lives. Now."

WC : 935

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Inside the Shadow (Autumn)

Postby Autumn Rose on November 21st, 2019, 4:55 pm


Autumn’s soul shivered as the man turned away seemingly done with the Lantern. He hadn’t found what he was looking for here, thankfully. In her short time as a resident in the brothel, Autumn couldn’t imagine anyone of the women there acquiescing to such a request. It was heinous, at best, and Autumn felt violated for the woman who was going to be at the receiving end of the “love potion” he’d been asking after. Her shiver wasn’t for that though. It was for something far more disturbing. At his touch, she had felt violated. Her materialized form had been touched before, not always by Maro and not always benevolently, and in those instances, there had been pain.

But there was something different in this man’s contact, more than the physical meeting the spiritual. There was a familiarity in it. His body had had contact with ghosts before and not just in passing. It wasn’t the elegant connection that the seasoned spiritists on Black Rock exhibited nor was it the clumsy tripping one Maro had developed over a lifetime of interaction with Autumn as his primary companion. This was more deliberate than Maro’s, more rushed and recent than the kind of development the lifelong practitioners of spiritism had. It made her wish he hadn’t touched her. Even better, it made her cautious.

The woman Autumn had interceded for thanked her and watched the man leave. “This guy is a shyke.”

“Tell me about it. You be careful around him.”

Autumn watched the woman’s face as she watched the man leave. She saw intentions, and she didn’t need the bird’s eye view to spot it this time. The young woman intended to follow him. There was no masking that. It was what the woman saw as the only thing to be done, even though she was now exposed.

“Be careful around him,” Autumn warned again.

Something seemed to resolve in woman’s mind, and for a moment, Autumn thought her words had made it through to her. Determined strides began to carry the woman toward the door. “I’m going after him.”

Of course, she was.

Autumn’s mist twisted slowly in her irritation at no on ever listening to her, and only at its sluggish response to her ire did Autumn realize how much that blow had taken out of her. She was tired, and part of her wanted to just fade into the nothingness she so often inhabited. Part of her wanted to give up on the day, be done with its goings-on and the people that filled it. Part of her wanted to let the woman face the consequences of the choices she had made. Part of her wanted that. If she was being honest, most of her wanted that. But there was a single spark inside of her that was reminded that she had let Maro go and what had come of that. There was part of her that knew she was going to follow the woman. There was part of her that just wanted to see how this played out.

Damn Maro and his curiosity. It had rubbed off on her. Even more, she knew this woman was in danger. The man’s quickness to wrath and violence was evidence enough of that, but none of the patrons or workers was following her out.

On top of that, Autumn’s existence in the Red Lantern wasn’t well-known by many and was accepted by even fewer. The many sets of eyes on her said so, and she made a hasty exit. There was no extravagant swirl of mist as she left, just the dissipation of her soul into the emptiness that filled the empty spaces between the things that existed.

Undisturbed by the simple laws the living were forced to follow, Autumn rose up, passing through the ceiling, then the second floor, and finally through the roof until once again she held the view of a goddess over the happenings below her.

As always, she saw intention. There were people moving through the streets, and based on their pace and the layout of the buildings around them, Autumn could guess at most of their destinations. Nearby she could even spot several people trying to gain entrance to the Lantern without anyone seeing them do so. But these simple intentions weren’t the ones she was looking for. What she was looking for appeared in a fashion that those not even looking could recognize. The woman was chasing the man through the streets, shouting after him.

Drifting through the sky, nothing more than a cloud moving against the sparse breeze that sputtered and died sporadically on its way across the mountaintops, Autumn followed the two until the man gave up on the idea of escape. Though moments ago, she had been lighter than air, her body suddenly sank as if it was made of stone. In an instant, Atuumn hang suspended just behind the woman, eavesdropping on what passed between them.

Itzi.

That had to be the woman the potion was intended for, and spite for him filled Autumn as he spoke for both of them as if they were in agreement.

Ghost.

That was Autumn, and she pressed her essence in close behind the young woman letting her feel her presence as if she were letting the woman know she had her back.

He laughed, and Autumn was reminded again how uncomfortable he made her feel. Small tendrils of mist reached out and caught at the back of the woman’s top. Autumn’s attempts at projection were weak and only managed to ruffle the fabric, but she hoped it would convey a sense of danger, urgency, and the need to leave. The woman didn’t get it and instead delivered her ultimatum. Something about the man said he wouldn’t listen. If Autumn and the other woman stopped him, it would just happen to another woman farther down the road, but he had already invested significant time and effort into this one. He wouldn’t give her up so easily.

Whatever this was had to end, and it had to end soon. Autumn hovered at the woman’s back, ready to intervene again if needed.
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Autumn Rose
Even weightless, I'm a burden.
 
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Inside the Shadow (Autumn)

Postby Ennisa on November 23rd, 2019, 6:21 pm

"speech"
"others"


This corner of Lhavit's streets was blessedly quiet, and chilled thoroughly by the presence of the ghost. A curtain twitched, there, as a neighbour watched the unfolding events with a certain level of curious horror. As for people, the only living people were Ennisa and Clement, the latter of whom was beginning to laugh as he regarded Ennisa's determination with scorn and derision.

She shivered as a cool breeze touched the surrounding air, and her shirt was tugged by the wind. The feeling, especially in the current climate of warmth and yet more warmth, felt especially unnatural. Unnatural enough to instil a detached feeling of danger that permeated past her clouded, defensive anger. It was in moments like this that Ennisa's habit of dogged perseverance became dangerous. She didn't realise that the feeling was a small indication of the presence of a ghost. She had spent more time with the dead this season than at any other point beforehand, but she was still so very naive when it came to ghosts and the rules that governed them.

Clement stopped laughing and regarded her coolly for a moment. It was as if he was considering answering her... until he snorted, and dismissively cast his gaze sharply to the side as he addressed... someone. "Hey, Laure? You're there, right?" His face turned, reptilian-like, as his eyes bored into Ennisa's own. A soft smirk crept onto his face. That expression, paired with his good looks, gave him a cherubic appearance completely at odds with the words he spewed. "Explain to this whore that we're not going to leave Itzi alone. Ooh, ooh, tell this little whelp what her Itzi has already agreed to!" He chuckled, and the ghostly figure of Laure materialised with a bone-crunching snap.

Ennisa should have heeded Autumn's subtle, if unrecognised warnings. Her face turned pale. This ghostly woman, who's clothes were blood-drenched from the groin down, and who's pregnant belly showed swollen through the swirling fabric of her faded dress, grinned horribly. She had seen her before, at the house, and she had been thoroughly terrified then. She hadn't been expecting to see her again so soon, and in such a different place. "We've met before, haven't we? It was Ennisa, wasn't it." She drifted closer. "But I don't think I've met you, have I? So you thought you could fight a ghost with another ghost, did you child?" The scorn in Laure's voice bit through to Ennisa. She looked over Ennisa's shoulder and drifted closer yet again. "Stupid girl."

Was the ghostly woman from the Red Lantern here, after all? Ennisa stood her ground, and raised her hand to the dagger at her waist. Yet she knew there really was nothing she could do about Laure. How the petch were you supposed to fight a ghost? Clement, on the other hand... He was stood to one side, his face peculiarly contorted as he watched his dead lover taunting and cajoling. Ennisa grimaced, relented her grip on the dagger, but dodged to one side and narrowly avoided the clutch of ghostly fingers on her shoulder as she strove to reach the man.

"Listen, girl, listen!" Her limp, dark hair swirled viciously as she turned, and she crowed, "We've got your lovely little Itzi, and she's going to bear a child for us! She's going to give us a baby!" She shrieked, as Ennisa dashed for Clement, her mind a tumultuous jumble of rage, fear, and disgust. Laure went for Autumn, should the ghost choose to stick around, and Laure would approach her with a face of leering madness and attack her in whatever way she could. Ennisa lunged at Clement with her fists, and swung a gripped right fist at the man's side. To her horror, he grabbed her in a vice-like grip and pulled her towards his body. Up close, his breath was rank and his face pocked with acne scars. He leered. "There's nothing you can do about it, Ennisa." He grinned as she struggled. The grin was wiped from his face as rammed her left fist against his ribs and the two of them stumbled as Clement fought for control.

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Inside the Shadow (Autumn)

Postby Autumn Rose on November 24th, 2019, 11:35 pm


Before she showed herself, Autumn could sense the other ghost, hanging about the periphery and waiting to make herself known. The mists that warped and twisted on themselves in a furious convulsion warned Autumn to be careful. There was a strength in this ghost that surmounted anything Autumn had to offer, but she sensed it was the unfocused rage of a newly dead soul. Newly dead or not, whoever this ghost was, she had spent her brief existence in death much more productively than Autumn had. Holding back her materialization, Autumn waited for the other spirit to show herself. Patience was Autumn’s weapon for the moment.

She didn’t have to wait long. Laure materialized, not in the elegant dawning of form that Autumn usually used but in the short popping way that said she was still rushed, unknowledgeable about the amount of time she had to spare. Fear seemed to be the weapon Laure had chosen to wield. She was soaked from the waist down with blood, and the size of her belly suggested she had been pregnant at her passing.

Things were beginning to make sense. The man and Laure had lost both her and their child to the unfortunate circumstances of birth, and now they sought to remedy what life had taken from them. Itzi was their means to that particular end.

Autumn wasn’t the only one who had sensed the presence of another ghost. When stray strands of their souls had met, she had felt the spark of recognition that said the other ghost had felt it too. The almost mother looked over Ennisa’s shoulder, searching for Autumn’s eyes, and Autumn materialized in answer, proving her patience, her elegance, and her superior control over materialization as she did with the slow build of details that ended with the brightening blue of her eyes.

“I don’t think I’ve met you, have I?” Laure’s eyes were already back on Ennisa, not having received the message Autumn had tried to send with her materialization. Something told Autumn reason was not a thing at work with this couple. “So you thought you could fight a ghost with another ghost, did you, child?”

Another outburst from Laure confirmed what Autumn already suspected about their use of Itzi. Rape wasn’t a good enough description for it, but Autumn couldn’t come up with anything better. Hate built in her, enough to match the madness of the other ghost. The living couldn’t comprehend hate at its depth the way the dead did, but Autumn stuck to her patience. Only the narrowing of her eyes gave her hate away.

Everything happened at once. Ennisa lunged for the man, and Laure retaliated by rushing Autumn. She almost wasn’t ready for it. Almost. She had seen the madness in the eyes of both halves of the couple. Their insanity seemed to complete each other. As Laure lunged at her with materialized arms grasping for Autumn’s spirit, Autumn willed her necklace to do what it did. If momentum could have caused a ghost to stumble, Laure would have as she breezed through Autumn, her clawing hands coming up empty. As it was, confusion with a hint of terror crossed her face, and her madness was tempered by fear. This was not supposed to be possible.

This was an opportunity, a time to make patience pay off. Folding her mist back on itself, Autumn reflected her mists back through her body, turning to face her adversary without actually turning. Scorn filled her face, and her eyes carried a haughty glare. “Did you really think you could take me, child?” She spat the last word, letting her contempt ride it heavily. Judging by the man’s age, Autumn couldn’t imagine the woman having been dead long. “You’re letting your age show. I have spent twice as long in death alone as you have spent in your entire existence.”

It was a dangerous ploy to belittle a ghost’s reason for staying, but Autumn took the risk. “You think you know suffering?” If Laure wanted to show off her death, Autumn could play the same game. Letting as many details flood the image of her as she could, Autumn let every color she could take its place. Laure paled in comparison. Autumn was as she had been at her most stunning, hints of red playing in her auburn hair, white dress embellished with green floral patterns, and blue eyes mocking the sky. It was an image of beauty, but it didn’t last long. In eerie speed, Autumn’s rape and murder played out, the dress ripping away from the skin beneath, skin and flesh being carved away, bones breaking and piercing through the skin. In the end, beauty was a forgotten thing, and the Autumn that was left behind was a grotesque mockery. Lifeless eyes met Laure’s. “You know nothing of suffering.”

So stunned by Autumn’s spectacle, Laure didn’t see the next thing coming. With her opponent momentarily in shock, Autumn blinked, ending up just behind the other ghost. Her blinks were not precise, and her angle was off kilter. Despite these things, she was close enough. Strands of mist flooded from her core and out into her arm, just before she swiped it at Laure, raking her materialized self through Laure’s own materialized body.

Neither ghost was potent in this aspect, but Autumn’s efforts were enough to cause her opponent pain. A shriek, unholy in the way it seemed to utter from the woman’s chest rather than her throat, pierced the scene, and Laure blinked away a safe distance.

With a moment to spare, Autumn turned to see how Ennisa was faring.
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Inside the Shadow (Autumn)

Postby Ennisa on November 26th, 2019, 4:26 pm

"speech"
"others"


Ennisa's struggle to gain the upper hand was the unpolished effort of a survivor. At best, her fight with Clement was undignified, as they both scrapped and scratched, clawed and grabbed to come out on top. Ennisa snarled breathlessly each time Clement, who was undoubtedly the stronger of the two, attempted to grab her. His hands sought her neck, but each time Ennisa wriggled out of the way of his wildly grasping hands. The man's obvious erratic behaviour was working in her favour. They were both crouching on the dusty ground at this point. Clement went in strong, both his hands knocking against her throat.

Ennisa spluttered as animal panic hit. Her airway was blocked so that she could only gasp and breathe through her nose, but before she could lose track, she suddenly saw Clement clearly, as if that moment had frozen in time. She saw his face, his stormy eyes and his ragged gasps. He was just as raw as her. The muscles in his neck were taut and clenched, but he had forgotten about Ennisa's arms, hanging freely at her sides. She tried to cough but couldn't, and blinked as her vision began to cloud. Her head was pounding from where he'd knocked it. She drew in a sharp breath, and spat the scant saliva from her mouth into his eyes.

Just as she did this, she poured as much energy as she could into a tough right-hand swipe at his head. To her immense relief, her knuckles struck his skull and the man released her with a howl of pain and disgust. She scuttered back, sucking air into her lungs, and massaging her knuckles. Clement wiped the spit from his eyes and roared as he mounted his offence once more. He came at her from above, and Ennisa's heart pounded fiercely at the sight of him.

She thought of Itzi. Her heart wrenched for her best friend, a beautiful soul who didn't deserve such a madman as this. She thought of all the pain in her eyes, and the hideous plan that Clement and Laure had finally disclosed. In anguish, she wondered if Itzi was already pregnant with this filth's baby. Anger coursed hot and strong through her veins. He approached and aimed a kick at her ribs, which hit and sent searing pain through her body.

"You sick bastard!" She cried out, and lunged at him. Her muscles were screaming at her, her body was sore all over and her throat ached. Still, she reached and grabbed for him in a tackle that sent him flying to the floor in a sprawl. She pounded her fists against his chest as hard as she physically could. Her efforts were not the strongest, nor were they the most effective, but each punch was laden with rage.

Laure's shriek battered her eardrums and both she and Clement looked up in alarm. Ennisa forgot the man for a moment as she took in the other ghost's appearance. If she didn't know any better, she wouldn't have realised who it was. The dead woman's appearance was shocking. Utterly shocking, and terrifying. Clement blanched and took the opportunity to roll away from Ennisa. Now that she'd stopped, all energy seemed to have left her, and suddenly realised she was dog-tired.

"Laure!" Clement's voice was rough with emotion. The ghost blinked over to him at his request, her plain face contorted with fear and swimming with recoiling soulmist. Ennisa wanted to get up and fight him, fight them both, but she had run out of energy. Nevertheless, something compelled her to speak. She cast a side-long glance at her unexpected ghostly ally, and drew herself into a crouch, ready to stand. "This ends today, Clement."

The man looked at her and sneered, but for once there was a tinge of something else in his eyes. Fear perhaps, of the ghostly woman who had scared his beloved so. Irritation, that Ennisa just would not let him alone.

Then, from around the corner came just the type of person that neither of them wanted to see - a Shinya guard, in her distinctive blue and white garb. Clement's eyes widened. Perhaps he realised that time was drawing short. Ennisa had yet to notice the guard, but she hated drawing the attention of the protectors of Lhavit, and as soon as she noticed the guardswoman she scrabbled to her feet.

They had a short window of time before the Shinya arrived. She was already eyeing the strange, beaten gathering with suspicion. Ennisa stared into Clement's eyes, fierce as anything. In a voice as quiet as snow, she leant forwards and breathed, "If you dare touch one hair on Itzi's head, I will end you. Don't you ever go near her again, or I swear..."

Laure flitted to her husband's side, taking long, hard glances at her new nemesis. "You need to leave," she hissed. Clement hesitated, but by now Itzi was proving too much of a hassle for the man. He could always get a different woman, right, if this annoying thorn of a woman left him alone. It would be a shame to give up on all that effort, but could see Ennisa was a stubborn get. He looked her dead in the eyes. "She's all yours. Have fun." With that, he took one look at the approaching Shinya, and walked off in a swirl of dust and departing ghost.

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Inside the Shadow (Autumn)

Postby Autumn Rose on November 28th, 2019, 1:07 am


Through no power of her own, Autumn had become the turning point for the fight. Her strength was lacking, but she had played on universal fears, and it had worked. The couple huddled together, and Ennisa threatened again. Clement had spent a lot of effort on this one, but Autumn could almost see exactly when something in him broke. Itzi, it seemed, wasn’t worth the trouble they had to go through to keep her.

Glaring, Clement locked eyes with Ennisa. “She’s all yours. Have fun.”

The two of them strode away, and it wasn’t until then that Autumn noticed the Shinya approaching.

Blood and bone faded away, revealing the beautiful woman she had been in life. Facing Ennisa, she apologized. “Sorry you had to see that, friend.”

As the Shinya approached, Autumn realized she recognized her. She had been the one who had greeted Noah when he had brought Autumn, known to him as Windy, into Lhavit, the one who just so happened to be Gweneveh’s sister, Eilened.

Eilened covered the last bit of ground between them too late to stop the retreating figure of Clement. Her eyes were narrowed, and one hand was tucked into her sash. Autumn smiled at this. On Autumn’s entrance into the city, Eilened had done the same thing, and it had been Autumn’s first encounter with a projectionist. It was an art similar to her own soulmist projection, and even now, loose tendrils of Autumn’s own soulmist crackled against the disembodied soul of Eilened’s arm. The Shinya were dangerous were their various weapons and their bodies, but the physical was limited, and they seemed to know that. Lhavit’s protectors were most dangerous when not using their bodies at all. Shivering, Autumn felt several projected appendages probing about her, finding the extent of the ghost’s soul and searching for any projections of her soulmist out from her core. To make herself less threatening, Autumn pulled her mist in tight around her, and she felt the curious projected arms pull away from her.

“What’s going on here?” Eilened asked.

“Just a lover’s quarrel,” Autumn lied. “I’ve been watching them a while, and trust me, they needed to get this out in the open. Don’t worry though, Eilened. The worst of it is over.”

As soon as Autumn said Eilened’s name, she felt two projected points pressed against her torso. If Ennisa was hyperaware from her recent fight, she might have felt a point against her own sternum as well. Already narrowed in suspicion, Eilened’s eyes hardened, the gentle gray that matched her seductress sister’s turning to a stony and fearful glare. “How do you know my name? Do I know you ghost?”

Letting her best disarming smile slip across her lips, Autumn tried to calm the Shinya. “Just in passing. I was the one that was there with Noah the last time he was in town. I think you sensed me then.”

Rather than becoming more suspicious, Eilened’s eyes opened in wonder and recognition. “You! I do you remember you from that day. Your soul felt a little more cautious then though, less confident. Something’s changed, and it had best be for the better.”

“It is. I found good people here.”

A second moment of revelation brightened Eilened’s eyes. “Wait. A ghost who came with Noah. You’re the one who’s been haunting Gweneveh.”

Hesitantly, Autumn nodded. Most people wouldn’t be thrilled about a family member being haunted, but Eilened relaxed, and her arm came out of her sash.

“Gweneveh says only the nicest things about you. Quiet and kind are the words she uses most often.”

Autumn and Gweneveh’s interactions had been minimal. Autumn would go so far as to call them nonexistent, but caring for those whose hearts and wellbeing were in her hands seemed to be the young woman’s way. A bashfulness swept across Autumn’s smile, and she managed materialize a blush in her cheeks. “She’s too kind. I don’t know where I’d be without her generosity. To open her door to a stranger the way she did for me.”

Eilened smiled a playful smile back. “Don’t feel too special. She opens her door for anyone.”

“Eilened!” Autumn was shocked that a sister would talk about her sibling that way.

“What? It’s not my fault my sister decided to be a whore.”

“A lady of the night.” Autumn thought that particular euphemism sounded sweeter, less harsh.

“Day or night. It doesn’t matter. She’ll open up to anyone, anytime.”

Autumn laughed. “I might tell her you said that.”

Eilened shrugged at that. “You can. She knows I approve of her choices. She supported me in mine. I just wish I could be as good at what I do as she is at what she does.”

“I’m sure she’d say the same about her sister.”

It was Eilened’s turn to laugh. “Don’t slather on the flattery too heavily now. I might suspect you’re trying to cover up what was happening here. Just make sure your friends don’t cause a ruckus.” Eilened’s eyes turned on Ennisa. “You hear? Don’t be causing trouble.”

If Ennisa gave Eilened no reason to stay, the Shinya would flash Autumn another smile and be on her way. When they were alone, Autumn turned to Ennisa. “Do you know where Itzi is? Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my existence, it’s this: you can never trust the living. They say Itzi is ours. We need to find her and make sure that’s true.”
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Inside the Shadow (Autumn)

Postby Ennisa on November 30th, 2019, 3:25 pm

"speech"
"others"


Ennisa averted her eyes from the ghost's change from carnage to beauty. Somehow, it seemed inappropriate to see the ghost in such a sad state. The blood and gore, although ethereal, was still something that had happened to the woman, at one stage in her life she presumed. In the heat of the moment she hadn't had chance to consider much of the ghostly woman's back story, but now she had seen her in the state she had died in. That felt significant in a way she couldn't put her finger on. The ghost might not feel the same way, but Ennisa's interest was stirred, even with her thoughts distracted by the stress of the fight for her friend. Ennisa looked up though when the woman spoke to her, and called her friend. She smiled wryly. What a strange turn of events. The spirit was calling her friend.

There wasn't much time to catch up and regroup before the Shinya woman approached. Ennisa wasn't feeling particularly great, in fact she was feeling primarily rather rough, but she kept herself in flight mode just to be on the safe side. Her hackles raised as she regarded the approaching Shinya with wariness.

"What's going on here?"

Ennisa was about to speak, though she didn't really know what lie to spin, when the ghost woman stepped up with her own fabrication. She glanced at the ghost's face, but it was difficult to read the faintly see-through expression. Instead of butting in, she kept quiet and listened intently to the discussion. It seemed the two knew each other, somehow. This was strange in itself, but Ennisa was glad of it. She learned the woman's name when the ghost spoke it: Eilened. A pretty name.

It was only when Eilened turned her steely grey gaze on her that she contributed to the conversation, though her contribution was a minimal, "Absolutely." She would have added more, but not only was she tired, she also recognised the good job the ghost had done at pacifying the guard. Her own stumblings would only serve to pile on more suspicion than was necessary, so she kept her lips sealed. Instead, she smiled weakly and watched as the Shinya walked away on her duties.

She let out a sigh of relief that she hadn't realised she had been holding. The ghost turned to her and asked, "Do you know where Itzi is?" That was the question. Ennisa bit her lip as she thought. Finally, she replied, "I'm not sure. I have an idea though. When I followed them the other day, Clement took her to a small house at the Okomo Estates. We could try there."

She considered the ghostly woman, and hesitated for a moment. She barely knew her. Ennisa hadn't had a good experience of ghosts this season, and despite the help she had received from her so far, she still found it difficult to trust her. She wasn't normally paranoid, but the season had been much more difficult than usual, and she needed to know a little more about the ghost before she could begin to trust her more deeply, like the friend she claimed to be.

Ennisa began walking. She was the type of person that just expected someone to follow her, so if the ghost didn't, she would look back to prompt her. "I'll lead you there. What was your name? I haven't had chance to thank you for your intervention yet."

She smiled, but a kernel of mistrust dwelled in the depths in her plain blue eyes. "I should warn you too that Itzi isn't herself at the moment. Stupidly, she actually believed that man, whatever he told her. Even if we do find her, it might be a challenge to actually convince her to come with us."

They walked towards Sharai Peak. Ennisa was subconsciously fiddling with the handle of her dagger as they travelled through the city. She led them along the quieter streets, away from the crowds. Her appearance could be described as dishevelled at best, and what with the company of Autumn, she thought it best they avoid as much scrutiny as they could. As a result, the walk was a little longer than it could have been, but it led them along quiet, winding roads, up steep paths and gravel tracks where the houses faded into the wilderness at the edges of Lhavit.

Within the house at the Okomo Estates, Itzi lay in bed shivering. She hadn't bothered to light a fire, and nor had Clement come to see her since the evening, two days ago. She missed his company. She missed company. She missed the warmth of human interaction. The door was not locked, and she could have gone out into the city to mingle amongst the sunny crowds, but Clement had told her not to, and she listened to him. It was dangerous at the moment, he said. There's a killer on the loose, he said. Your friend isn't safe for you, he said. Stay at home or I will worry.

She shivered again in one swift spasm, and curled closer to herself in a ball of abstract misery. She wouldn't make him worry. He made her feel scared when he worried. Lethargy swam in her bones. She loved Clement, she really really did, but recently Laure had come in the way of their relationship, and she was terrified of the ghost. Time after time of possession had exhausted her to the point of depression. She no longer had the energy to protest. Clement always explained why she had to allow the ghost to coil into her body, but she could no longer remember the reasons why. All she knew was that she was trapped. She could not leave Clement because he relied on her and she loved him, and she could not stay because of the misery that caused the tear-sodden pillow she lay her head on.


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