From the emptiness of the void, the world swims into sharpened focus. Black walls, soft rugs, a fireplace in flame (A familiarity, a welcome). Summer-sweet memories flood in, at the scents, the warmth (The whispers and promises of a time long past). There's recognition (but it is kindly), temptation (to remain, as once before). Yet the room is empty, devoid of the life the senses say should be here (That the memories know to have been here). It tugs on discomfort, subtly yet insistently (Find it, find it). His gaze falls to the book on the ground (Where memories laced outward like webs, and a pale form once whispered back). The sharp edges of the room shudder, and something tugs within. Find it, find it.. (Find them). There's a welcoming ache in the feeling (but a winter-cold edge of warning). A promise once made to the world (bold and true). A promise of only us.
The hand reaches for the book, pulled and enticed by memories within (Find it). It's picked up, colder than it should be (Find it). The sharp edges of the room shudder again, as the lace of memories turns dark and cold. A sudden shift, the edges turning inside out, and it is a different room. Upturned, ransacked, baskets broken, boxes thrown. Bolts of linen, pots of dyes. A crate of pillows and blankets upturned in a smattering of iron-scented crimson. There's recognition (but unkindly), as the tug within grows ever incessant (Find it). At the edges of hearing the shrill howl of wolves begins to sound, and the world shudders. Resistance. The path of memories drawing ever into clarity (A path he refuses to walk twice). A path with a price (A path with a choice). Stand or fall (Stay or run). The world shudders, unkindly (Hungrily). Find it (Find them). The brave fear not the dead.
The walls turn inside out to a space outside. Darkness and flame, shadows and the taste of crimson. In the distance, a howling of a mass, rhythmic and sharp (Cold and cruel). The webbing of memories dragged every further (Ever closer). The air an inferno of heat, of fiery light (Yet only winter-cold within, sharp and dark). A path deep and buried (And denied). The world shudders (Resistance). The world pushes forward, and he begins to feel the accursed scent on the air of the wolves' revelling. Resistance (The world shudders). They howl and dance around their pyre, drumming to the beat of the shrieks within. Resistance (The world strains). The crimson is his own, the scent not (Yet one worst of all). Resistance (The world struggles). The cold within growing into an abyss (The sharpened edges of the world cutting as they fight against, deeper and deeper and deeper). The choice (But not your own).
The world shatters inside out and the sharpened edges cut each ways as they do. The choice (The price). There's a harrow shriek, but not the pyre's. There's pain (But the cuts are deeper). Something sheared and torn, deeper within, swallowed by the abyss below (The price). There's summer-sweetness (but the taste is hollow). There's the outlines of the black room once more (But it is broken and a place of hatred). The flames in the fireplace (Distainful and cold). The edges of the world settle, sharpness withdrawing (And yet the cuts bleed blades of their own). There is light (But it suffocates in the billowing darkness of rage). The book falls to the ground, webbing of memories burning lines within the carpet, searing cuts in the floor. The wolves' howls echo in his ears (How dare they). Their revelry a mockery (How dare they). Their laughter against a backdrop of shrieks (H̷o̴w̶ ̵d̴a̸r̵e̴ ̶t̸h̵e̸y̵). Their audacity of stealing them from him. The room becomes a blaze, and the world fades into red.
There's a sharp gasp as the knight wakes on the temple's floor, immediately pushing himself upright into a sitting position. There's parts of the body that make quite clear objections to this sudden manoeuvre, still far too sore from the ritual (And whichever physiological processes it encompassed), but he remains staring outward, hand raised in a motion to summon something unseen at a moment's notice, should whatever perceived threat make itself known. Behind the eyes, an inky tone slowly drains away, and he remains staring at open skies, cold stones, and the stair down.
The hand lowers, as he steadies his breath, regaining bearings. (So much for soft void dreams). Vague recollections play at the edges of his mind, but those are something to ponder over later. For now, he turns, braces a hand against the stone table and pushes himself up to his feet with a short groan. The priests are ever impassive, much to his benefit. It's not exactly a good look if they lacked the patience for potential ritualists to ride through whichever offering they made and simply dumped them to the steps below (Although he would have appreciated the short-cut over stairs). With sore motions, he collects the unsettling-looking orb from the altar, and takes a moment to fix his appearance back to normal for the knight.
Lastly, there's a sore bow of the head to the priests, before he begins the slightly staggering trek down some steep stairs (A little more hollow than when he started).
The heavy steps climb the stair from the ground floor to the kitchen, not so much laden as simply glad to be back on familiar ground. There's a small sway to the countenance, and the heavy oak door took a few tries to open.. Not because he'd forgotten how, but more because there was slight issue coordinating that knowledge into actionable motion. (Perhaps in future he can devise some simpler method, which doesn't require quite so much thinking. Far from it should it be easy to anyone else, but if he's to be.. lets just say, 'partly impaired' by any means, it would do to have a fail-safe).
Not that he is. Impaired, that is. Oh to be sure there's a sweet softness of the mind, as to be expected when one has a slight overuse of the ale, but he'd been quite careful not to let it get too much out of hand (The benefit of calculated foresight due to hindsight).
There's a tiresome look towards the next flight of stairs, leading further up the tower.. and while the mental math takes a few seconds longer to parse, it's a swift enough resignation that before anything else - attire, cleaning, rest - he's in need of something even ale can't replace. Coffee first, then.. everything else. In whichever order.
The man turns towards the stone-floored room, gloved fingers already fidgeting with latches on the helmet. A bit of effort, an annoyed grunt as the headgear is opened up and carefully manoeuvred around the horns, and there's a metallic thud as he places it down on the wooden table perhaps a little bit more roughly than intended. The gloves are pulled off and lightly tossed beside it, as he heaves a sigh of (proper) fresh air, and begins setting up the stove.
There is still much of the knight on - tabard, armour, gambison - but that's for later. Right now, he just wants to take a breather and a proper, sobering drink.
It's not long before there's a small fire going under the stove, and a pot of water waiting its turn on it. Arguably the worst part of the whole process is the waiting, but at least it gives him time to slump into the wooden chair near the table, and rest his.. well, pretty much everything at this point.
For all the events of the day, the trek back home ended up dryly dull by comparison. It seems where the Manor had little reluctance to impose one kind of challenge or another on them, the real world populace - both shady and true - steered clear of the knight's passage through the streets, towards the broken manor (And the swath of woods behind it).
One can suppose seeing a fully armed and armoured individual who already looks like they've had a bit of a rough time of it tends to have that effect on people (Leastwise if they were smart about it).
The man leans back on the chair, running a hand through the hair as there's a contended sigh, the kitchen a perfect space of long-sought peace and solitude.
As far as expectations had gone, they didn't so much fly out the window as escaped the stratosphere. Mind games, tricks of the light and test of thought - those were familiar. Sudden fever diseases, watery possession, and canine abduction? Well, the latter is perhaps a similar event to the silvery dragon, but the rest were certainly.. new. The knight's muscles wouldn't have been half as sore as his pride (And that was saying some).
Which isn't to say the day had been completely terrible. The moments of quiet, the night-time marketplace, the underwater garden, the meal at the tavern.. even the (somewhat improvised) walk back to the cottage. A light brush of the hand is all it takes to get leftover beach sand dislodged from the hair, but it comes with a rather pleased smirk.
Colour him contrarian, but on the whole the day could be considered quite the success. Near-misses not withstanding, no-one died, got permanently injured, irrevocably traumatized, or lost. On top of it all, he'd got a better glimpse into what laid behind that subtle sadness the lady seemed so attached to, and what possible ghosts lurked in those spaces.
Perhaps it's the familiarity of it all, perhaps the ale, but he can't help but feel just that bit impressed at her survival - the rich and powerful do not play games they can't win, certainly not if there's anything of theirs at stake. If the sorrow of her past was one of political manoeuvring, all to many a noble would simply find it easier to make such troublesome problems 'disappear'.
So, to see her still here, whole and standing, says a lot more to her character than perhaps even she would be willing to admit.
Sentiment's never really been his thing, but it makes for pleasant company every now and again. In much the same way a guest is wonderful to have from time to time, but not permanently. At some point it simply outstays its welcome (and use). And in this case, there's hardly any harm to it, so why not let the knight have something good every once in a while?
Never mind that despite himself, he does feel.. curious. There's more to this story than she's letting on, but the picture made up of the pieces uncovered so far feels uncanny. (Not because of a promise for opportunity. Very far from it. More like a warning and a threat, but he can't tell if local or elsewhere. Given he's since made the decision to stay, it helps to know what territory one's wandered into).
Until then, though, it's best to enjoy the simple normalcy of things while they last (Goddess knows they don't for long).
The pot of water has begun to warm within the passing minutes, although for the soft fog in the man's mind it's taking the far side of forever. A reflection of pleasant thoughts can keep you company only so long, before the crave for coffee overtakes such patience. He leans against the table with an exhale that borders on mildly annoyed, leaning up against the arm, as if that'll make the time pass faster.
Something against the skin feels unusual, and for an absent moment he thinks it perhaps the paint starting to peel off (before remembering it really shouldn't. Not that easily). The fingers scratch at what feels like loose flakes, the brow furrowing in new-found confusion when he brings it into view. There's certainly something caught beneath the claws and scattered on the palm, but it's neither skin nor paint. Much too dark, much too.. crumbly.
The head tilts slowly, considering all other options, until finally the faint metallic scent of it gives the answer - blood.
There's a deeper furrow to the brow, confusion remaining but taking a different step in this conundrum - why is there blood. He feels along the neck and, indeed, there's a line of flecks running down the side of the head, ending in the collar of the tunic and starting from.. the ears. Suddenly that soft throbbing of the head, made milder by the introduction of ale but by no means cured, makes its presence more known through the fog. An ache that started immediately after..
..the voice. In so far as he can remember it, in any case. In fact the details of that from then are even blurrier than some of the thinking processes now, but the visual of the lady screaming and pulling on his arm right after it ended are all to well rendered in memory.
Mind game or possession, they never did figure it out, but whatever it had been had scared her truly.
The fingers slowly rub together, breaking apart the flecks in a slow grind, as the pleasant smirk from before is completed wiped away. A soberness pushes its way through the fog, whether brought on by the slow return of the ache, or simply understanding the reality of the past situation. No wonder his head was killing him then. This was no mere water that had pushed its way through the armour (Though to be sure he'll need to clean the brine from the scales from plenty days to come).
And more to the point - tricking someone into seeing something was one thing, but possession is a step way too far. In fact, the more he learns about the arcane ways of the City, the more he's starting to realize just how vulnerable most people's minds really are to fantastical intrusion, whether from reading one's thoughts, to sensing one's emotions. (And that's a kind of threat he can't leave unchecked).
Slowly, he dusts the flecks off the hand, with no small amount of disdain. The eyes land on the helmet still sitting on the table, and somewhere through the faint fog new kinds of thoughts and ideas begin to emerge. If there's an offence, there must be a defence.. And what better way to shield one's mind than with actual armour.
In the meantime, the pot has begun to boil, catching his attention. He stands, sways, stabilizes largely thanks to natural counterbalance options via tail, and pauses. Alright.. so perhaps the ale here is a bit stronger than he calculated (He'll need to make a note of that for the future as well).
The man makes himself a cup of coffee, before picking up the helmet from the table and staring it down. A mind's really the last thing any one of us has truly to themselves, in many ways. Perhaps it's time he looked further into these.. enchantments the markets kept talking about.
But first coffee, then stairs.. then all the everything else.
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