With another sigh, he closes his eyes and just briefly dunks the whole of the head into the bucket. The cool water washes over every thought and noise, bringing a momentary peace. The simplicity, the impulse. (What sweet trappings we make ourselves). Eventually surfacing, he wipes the face, disregarding what water gets splashed along the basement's tiles, (If the place was afraid of water, it didn't make for much of a basement) or the courier's clothes. The whole lot would need to be heavily washed anyway, to get the stains and the stench out (And he's all too tempted to just burn them instead).
The hand runs up the forehead, and he slowly pulls the cap off, making sure to be careful of the horns. There's no risk of damage to them, but it'd be a shame to pull loose a thread on the cap and need a new one - Enchanted objects did not come cheap in these parts. He closes the zipper of the dimensional pocket and gives it a wring, to get most of the water out.
With almost a backhand, he tosses the cap onto a fence pole, before walking over to the centre aisle and merely slow-sliding down into a sit on the ground, back against the pen. There's more stages to removing the courier, but he can't be bothered to do more than that at the moment. The water quieted the buzzing, refreshing the mind long enough to pick up on the important trail left off - Someone, somewhere.. knows something they shouldn't.
There's rumours, there's suspicions, and things people make up, that much is inevitable. Like as not, no-one can ever truly hide anything fully. You can move to the further point of the furthest continent, but somewhere behind you remains a knowledge and people to carry it, whether they realize it or not. Leave enough breadcrumbs, whether you realize it or not, and that knowledge takes a life of it's own. It can begin to follow, to come knocking. To ask for it's due. It wouldn't stop, not until the knowledge is truly dead (And that usually becomes a possibility only when one perishes themselves).
Easy enough to understand, then, that the only solution is to keep moving. Keep the trail going, removing what breadcrumbs you can along the way, leaving dead ends in their stead (Literal, or otherwise).
But this was something different.. Thrice now the manor has appeared to test him, and thrice it has shown knowledge it could not have. Of the three, he had been lucky the first two - A risk of compromise by a voice worryingly disarming, but spared by intervention of a companion. (The voice, though a distant memory, still pulls with both fury and placation when he thinks about it, as if it had no place to use it so brazenly, and yet he can't help but feel soothed by it).
This last attempt, however.. It was no lure, but a strike at a weakness, pure and simple.
The hand slowly curls into a fist, as if looking to grip a phantom dagger. Neither courier nor knight would have this weakness. It made no sense to use it against either.. Unless something knew it would succeed. For some time now he has felt as though something has been prying to digging through his mind when in the manor, to mould the world around him based on his best dreams (And worst nightmares). But this time it had gone too far. And now there's a presence out there that knows the unknowable.
The fist releases, flexing the fingers slowly by means of a focus. Truly it seems this City is a far greater challenge than he ever anticipated, even on the best of days. And truly it seems he has become too complacent by the residents, to spot the real threats hidden beneath the surface of the place - It wears a mask of its own, though by no means so literally. It is a jungle of survival like any other and the forces at work do not pull punches. Perhaps that had been the manor's intention.. It does not harm, so they say. But it can scar.. Had it, then, decided to do its share of good, in a wayward manner? To wake him up from the assumptions he held out of habit (And perhaps even out of ignorance as to the true powers of this place)?
The breadcrumb trail always leads.. and he has decided to stay. Sooner or later, things would begin to catch up, whether these agents of fate realize it at the time or not. And when they do.. what options will he have? A place so potent with opportunity as this would give advantage to anyone able to properly utilize it, and running gives the advantage away..
No, if he's to endure, certain preconceptions need to be discarded.
The manor knows the unknowable, because he knows it. And he's been limiting himself for long enough, under the false presumption it would make things easier, more normal. Well.. This is not a normal place, so the rules need to be rewritten, adjusted, perhaps even bent beyond breaking in some cases - If he can't adapt to the challenge, he'll be swallowed by the threats.
The head leans forwards, as he reaches into the collar of the shirt and pulls out a simple looking necklace, claws clicking over a hidden latch. The pendant is old, well maintained, but still showing the wear and tear of constant use. As the cover opens, he stares into an engraving oh so familiar, both utterly disdained and affectionately remembered at once. The source of such fury, and yet the basis of all he knew, knows and likely will know - A portion of the sum of his parts; the good, the middling, and the worst. (Perhaps more the worst, if he's being honest. But worst can be useful, educative.. eye-opening, even. The only understand good is to never appreciate the depths of evil, and the lengths it can aspire to).
To understand all sides, all motives and all aspirations, is to see the greater play at work, and sufficed to say, he's been turning a blinder eye to that than usual. Perhaps it's the peacefulness of it all.. When you're at ease, it's easier to become complacent and content. You stop pushing the boundaries, stop seeking the challenges. Stop digging and scratching at the deeper truths of things.. The head moves backwards, thumping against the pen gate gate as he lets out a ragged sigh. It's difficult to say he cherishes the lesson, for the soreness of the bruises and the stinging of the breath, but it does bring back a familiar sharpness of the mind. From a time when edged calculations were commonplace and well-practised, measured actions taken against the rest of the world.
A balancing act, in truth. Cut too deep and you receive more to bargain with than you're ready to deal with. Cut too shallow and there is a question of weakness, of worth, of standing. There's lessons in either scenario (As well as victims. Funny how the fate of all things always seemed to hinge on casualties to one side or another).
But those kinds of lessons only come with hindsight. Of the things endured and survived. And something he had no seen around these parts half as much, for the City was filled with people of all walks of life, all creeds, all philosophies and motives, though none inherently even close to what he'd known. Perhaps that, then, had been the weakness? To assume a lack of something to mean the inability of its existence?
The hand comes up to absently rub the neck, as the image of the pendant seems heavier in the other. Things could be different here.. What he'd known might not even find root, as this type of city could perhaps even survive those types of minds.. But on the other hand, would it be worth the risk to test it? What's the consequence of testing fate that little bit too much? (Would it even bring about the very thing he's looking to avoid? The attention of the hateful? Fate loves irony, none so more than with sweet tragedies, so the chances on that alone are not far off).
The eyes stray from the pendant to the fireplace, a thoughtful furrow of the brow slowly forming on the face. Then again.. what if they do anyway? It's all fine and dandy to assume one has the power to change fate by one's own decisions, but largely fate cares little for the intentions and desires of those it governs. It's not unlike an unkind monarch, in that sense, directing and ordering the peasants about as it wishes (Only occasionally favouring those who are able to entertain it with some foolhardy act of bravery, or brilliant cunning). Perhaps the incident of the manor is a warning more so than a lesson - To recall the real threat, to remember the type fear it brings, the type of things it can do, the style of evil it embodies. A subtler evil than most, where demise comes from shadowed cuts made by hollow hearts. The brave fear not the dead, even those but figuratively considered so.
Even so, there's a sudden racing of the heart at the thought. At the mere concept that their reach count extend a continent, and bring a presence here. (And then again.. Why wouldn't they? It's a centre of trade, with alloys far more precious than those back home, with technology more advanced and efficient than the best of forges, with arcane forms of weaponry to best the finest steel. It's a perfect direction for expansion, albeit ambitious. They could already be here and he wouldn't know).
The hand twitches again, and the furrow deepens. The possibility is worrying enough, but if they are here, he'll need to keep an even sharper ear and eye out at the docks, for any flags or crests on inbound ships, as it's the earliest form of warning he might ever get. The eyes trail back to the pendant, at the fury and condemnation it embodies, and the thoughts converge to one final realization, one final decision - Confrontation is inevitable. That which chases will catch what is hunted, given enough time. And this is as good a place as any to make that stand.
After all, the city is laden with opportunities, and all opportunities come with a face and a form - The style you give it is at times even more important than the opportunity itself. Why, then, should he be the only one to endure such ghosts, when the form of it can be made to haunt others? Fear is a powerful weapon, perhaps powerful enough to make even the brave fear the dead.. To give them a reason to doubt their strength, especially if faced with a form they too find aspiring and furious.
The mind resolved, he clicks closed the pendant and tucks it back into the shirt. It's going to be a gamble, perhaps the greatest he's made so far. Tomorrow he will see to the arrangements, and in the days, months, years to come, will either see to revel in it.. or regret it.
The hand twitches again, and the jaw tightens in annoyance at it.. As much as the decision is made, the rest of the body still hasn't caught up on it. It's not a type of physical weakness he can allow, if this is to work. Reaching out the hand to his side, there's a snap of fingers and a displacement of air, as the polearm apparates into the grip. Using it as leverage, the man rises back up to his feet and begins a sore march towards the basement doors. "Wake up," he taps the polearm against droid standing still beside the doorway in passing, and the machine comes alive.
"Status ready," it intones, turns and begins to follow him out. As it walks, there's a whirl of a scan, "Cautionary notice, defender appears impaired. It is not recommended to engage with combat in defender's current state."
"Noted," he simple states, but readies himself all the same, soreness and all. Tomorrow he'll make calculated arrangements, but today he really needs to hit something with a stick.
It is near the dead of night when a figure walks through the wood, towards the manor towering in the distance. It is not often visited by him these days, save for when the knight attends to pick up mail or to check upon the general progress. A swath of land just behind it has already been cleared of trees and overgrown plants, forming a tidy, if not yet still empty garden. In place of decorations are various pallets of lumber and stone, bags and crates with materials and tools. All stowed under tarp and cover for the night, as the workday is done and the manor is empty.
Largely empty. For now.
Before the edge of the clearing, the man turns left, heading for a small stone building just on the edge of the line. Outwardly it could be a garden shed, perhaps even a winery of sorts. Inwardly perhaps it could become either of those things, but for now it's entry.
Inside the room is bare and barren, but showing signs of recent activity - Fresh mortar fills old gaps, chiselled stone old holes and broken corners, the very surfaces of the walls themselves scrubbed of the dust and grime from the passage of time. The windows freshly framed, with double panes, new hinges hammered in for the door and the doors themselves carrying that quaint scent of recently completed woodwork. A stair leads down to a cellar (For what good is a winery above the ground, where the weather can spoil it?) and it looks much the same. Perhaps the only distinctively odd quality to the view is passage to the right, which seems to disappear into the deep, black darkness.
He steps into it, unbothered by the inky depths, and begins that long walk underground towards the manor proper. A safer route to the above, in many sense, as even the night can have prying eyes and it's much too soon to show hands so accidentally yet.
It isn't the only precaution he took, since the figure to march through the forest was neither knight nor courier, though the latter's hat does cover the horns. A hood covers the hat and providers some shelter for the face, while the rest is a coat long enough to cover the tail, coiled beneath. He doesn't expect any of the worker to be lingering so late (And even if they were, the shadow would have warned him when it returned from the inspection), but they might not be the only ones around. Of course, anyone who did get caught being here would have far more to explain than him, but it would be a nuisance that he'd rather prevent if possible.
His nerves are already being chewed on by what he's intending to do, so there's hardly cause to add to the suffering (Both his own and whoever would be the victim of trespass).
Some weeks ago he had made a decision. It lead to some preparations, some moves, the usual machinations, as to be expected, but it wasn't until recently that said decision finally yielded a result. On the whole he feels as though it happened a bit too quickly (But then he knows it's mostly just the perception of the event, and the doubt that kept rolling in it's wake. Not an emotion he was accustomed to ghost him quite so long, so it made for some informative lessons and far more irritable moments of clarity). Even now, some small, coiling part at the back of the head whispers warnings (But it's rather too late down anyway, isn't it?).
The tunnel runs all the way to the manor and eventually he emerges in the great building's own basement. If one were to look at the building above, they would hardly be able to credit the below to the same structure, for they seemed night and day to one another.
But as with any good structure, be it metaphorical or literal, everything begins with a solid foundation. The manor above might still be haggard and overgrown in vines, dust and scattered leaves, but the basement showed every bit the edge of refinement as the small winery had - The walls repaired, the mortar changed, the floors re-tiled, ceiling arches replaced with new stones and reinforced in the process. The decorations and crenelations of the various carvings are still a work in progress, waiting on some artisans to arrive within a few weeks, but until then the basement wouldn't see a worker's footfall, for there is hardly anything left for them to work on.
In essence, it would be abandoned, for a time. Which rather worked with the timing, as he rather needed a place to contain something, and what better place to do it in than a large space with heavy stones covering all corners.
Zenjesi: Hey Silv - how do you pronounce Kodakai?
Nov 17, 2023 18:23:56 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: Not to mention the baby mosca with wolf skin from Elvye and the sparkling owl of Xentus. <3
Nov 14, 2023 10:27:52 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: I like the Donnor one not just with looks FF, but the description, funny as heck.
Nov 14, 2023 10:26:27 GMT -6
Zenjesi: yours both made me laugh, FF! They're very expressive
Nov 13, 2023 21:57:46 GMT -6
Fiera Ferella: Woooow Twilight, I love that witch drawing!!! :0 It's so pretty! And Zenjesi I think Spectral is my favorite out of yours lol. Just looks happy to be included. and silver now i wanna know which pets youd pick for the other legendary beasts. XD
Nov 13, 2023 21:37:45 GMT -6
Silver: Ah I'm so glad you guys enjoyed it! I love everyone's drawings they're all so cute. ;o;
Nov 13, 2023 17:31:37 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: I like that one as well yeah, loved the old nootnoot image from quest prizes, so that one went perfectly with that particular costume being based around it. X3
Nov 13, 2023 15:23:13 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: The jewelry on tail or at the head definitely tends to be their most recognizable feature for a Mosca, and sadly their pharaoh chin piece as well. XD
Nov 13, 2023 15:21:07 GMT -6
Zenjesi: Your peanut costume is hilarious and adorable too!
Nov 13, 2023 15:14:29 GMT -6
Zenjesi: Yes you're correct! I guess I did a decent enough job with the drawing!
Nov 13, 2023 15:05:27 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: It still looks good on Synkka. She is a shaman Mosca I'm guessing? Its mostly the tail that makes me think of it.
Nov 13, 2023 15:00:42 GMT -6
Zenjesi: I definitely like Spectral's the most too! I sort of cheated by drawing Synkka with a cloak because I do not know how to draw feathered wings, haha ^^'
Nov 13, 2023 13:45:15 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: Which one do you like the most out of the three you made?
Nov 13, 2023 12:09:48 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: Thanks for that compliment! Though I know with the water it doesn't look entirely great, I love the latter one I made the most.
Nov 13, 2023 12:09:30 GMT -6