Hands Grasping Tight [Memory]

Old Rose Harbor is Anaxas' main trade port; it is also the nation's criminal headquarters, home to the Bad Brothers and Silas Hawke, King of the Underworld.
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Niccolette Ibutatu
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Jul 11, 2019 11:41 pm
Topics: 5
Race: Galdor
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Writer: moralhazard
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Fri Jul 12, 2019 11:02 am

Late Night, 27 Ophus, 2715
An Old Warehouse, The Waterfront
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"You clocking bastard!” Niccolette screamed, the noise echoing out of the warehouse in the cold night air.

It was one of the coldest days of the year in Old Rose Harbor, cold enough that breath escaped one’s mouth in a steaming hiss, cold enough that the scant snow that had tumbled to the ground in the late hours of the day still sat, black and sludgy but frozen, as the night wore on. It was cold enough to be quieter than usual on the streets late at night, the sort of night when those who could stayed indoors, when those who knew better didn’t dare to venture outside.

“Beloved,” Uzoji said, gently, his hands open and wide at his sides. “Perhaps it is not the very best of times – ”

“Flood your – best of times!” Niccolette’s voice rose and shrieked and cracked and carried on. Her eyes were wide, very wide, and fury lanced out of them like a bolt; her field pulsed, a sudden, furious movement, red-shifting the air around her. “I am sick to death of your lies, I am sick to death of being told to wait because now is not the convenient moment!”

The warehouse was cold and empty, squatting alone and half-abandoned at night on the edges of the Waterfront, tucked into the curl of the Rose where the docks began to slide away into beach, to curl out into the heavy shifting waters of the Tincta Basta. At least, it had been cold and empty. The two galdori that stood inside were – or at least one of them was – doing their part to make it considerably less so.

“You are right, my soul,” Uzoji’s voice was calm and soothing. “We will discuss it, later, at length. There is no need for this now.”

“No need?” Niccolette shook her head, long strands of brunette hair bouncing beneath a small black cap. “No need? How do you dare to tell me what I need?” Gloved hands clenched into fists, the expensive black gloves moving smoothly with the motion, without even creasing.

Both galdori came well-prepared against the cold at least; Niccolette wore a fairly simple gray dress, cut of thick expensive wool, with a high color covering her neck and a tight skirt, made ever so slightly fashionable by an asymmetric line across the waist, beneath a very warm looking black cloak, with matching gloves and hat. Uzoji wore thick woolen pants, with what looked like a sweater on his upper body, beneath a heavy black coat that skimmed the ground. His hands were bare, dark and chapped in the cold, and although he wore a hat, much of his shaved bare head gleamed beneath it in the dim light.

A few cold snowflakes fluttered down, seeping through a hole in the warehouse roof, as if the patchy gray sky above couldn’t decide whether or not to keep snowing.

“Niccolette,” Uzoji’s voice sharpened, soft and urgent, never quite without that faint musical lilt typical of Mugroba, even with something like anger seeping into it. “I understand, my moon and stars, truly I do, but you cannot do this now.”

Niccolette’s chest heaved as she stared at him. She felt furious – she was furious. They had been in Old Rose Harbor for less than a day, and already she was sure that Uzoji meant to go and see that whore he had been with last time, a filthy wick. It was bad enough that he slept with other galdori; at least Niccolette could understand such behavior, even if she loathed it. But a wick! Niccolette couldn’t begin to describe or express the pain, the fury, aching in her chest, the way it made her feel – overwhelmed, as if the entire world was crashing and crumbling down around her, as if there were things her husband needed that she couldn’t provide, that she could never provide –

Niccolette screamed, glancing around the warehouse. It was filthy in Old Rose – it was always filthy – and there was a scraped up, discarded boot lying nearby. The small, slight galdor woman snatched it off the ground, and hurled it across the room at her husband.

Uzoji watched it sail past him, turning back to his wife, and sighed.

The frustration on his face, easily visible in the dim lights echoing through the open windows and split roof, only made Niccolette feel worse – more angry, more out of control. She stepped to the side, swooping down again, and fumbled for something else – a half-rotten fruit, by the oozing feel of it between her fingers. She hurled it at Uzoji as well.

“Darling, please,” Uzoji made a face.

“Don’t call me darling!” Niccolette screamed, the endearment like a burning brand against her skin. She fumbled for something else, snatching up a handful of pebbles and flinging them into the air between them, falling, glistening like snowflakes, tumbling to the ground.

“As you like,” Uzoji spread his arms wide, anger blazing from him as well, his heavy, powerful field, throbbing with it. It wasn’t cold in the warehouse, not anymore, and gray piles of snow between them were melting, fast. “Come, then, beloved. Do your worst,” He challenged, almost taunting.

Niccolette stood, shuddering, opposite the small empty space, staring at her husband with dark eyes. Abruptly the tide of anger broke within her, leaving her empty and drained; it seeped from her field as well, leaving it calm and almost dampened once more, cooling the air around her. Uzoji’s responded, fading away to nothing against his skin, leaving only a calm indectal feeling. Niccolette turned away from him, shoulders shaking with the sobs she couldn’t seem to help.

Uzoji crossed the empty space to her, and wrapped his arms around her. They were nearly of a height, the Mugrobi only an inch or two taller than his wife, and he murmured to her now. Niccolette turned in his arms, writhing, and then buried her face against his shoulder and neck, sobbing softly against him.

“We will talk later, my darling,” Uzoji’s hand clasped her hair, bare reddened fingers tangling in the dark strands of it. “For now, please, I need you to focus.”

“Yes,” Niccolette whispered, broken, half-drained. She sniffled, her face red from cold and tears both.

Uzoji pulled back slightly, cupping her cheeks in his hands, gazing into her eyes with a smile. “Thank you,” he kissed her lips, very softly.

“Your hands are freezing,” Niccolette wrinkled her nose, breaking the kiss with a smile. “Where are your gloves, beloved?” She reached into his pocket, pulling them out, and took his hands in hers, sliding the gloves on one finger at a time as Uzoji laughed.

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Tom Cooke
Posts: 190
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2018 3:15 pm
Topics: 26
Location: Vienda, but also hell
Race: Raen
: "disturbingly unheimlich individual"
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Writer: Graf
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Sat Jul 13, 2019 2:41 am

An Old Warehouse The Waterfront
during the night of the 27th of ophus, 2715
Cold as the clockin’ dead, and it was biting right through his old coat, biting like a wild dog. Biting at all his scars, too, its teeth sharper than he’d ever remembered. Tom’d always been hardy in the winter, but every year, it seemed, the frost came in and brought more troubles with it; nowadays, nothing’d drive the cold ache from his bones. Nothing but work and whisky, though those two weren’t often a benny match.

Tonight, he was sober, and – being honest – he wasn’t too pleased with it. Made that old headache worse. Made the cold colder and the dark darker.

The streets were coated in patches with their sludgy, slick snow, and the docks were quiet – except for the lapping and shifting of the Mahogany. Back on the east side, music and light and voices spilled out of the Dove, but Tom hadn’t paused to listen, and all that cheer didn’t carry far. The piers creaked and groaned; the ships shifted in their moorings, the cutting wind playing in the rigging and ruffling the bound-up sailcloth.

In the quiet, it seemed to him he could hear his pulse and every thought that skittered through his head twice as loud. The slamming of the front door at the Fords was still echoing in his ears like a thunder-clap, loud even in the muffling snow; Ish’s silence and the tight, withdrawn feeling of his glamour were even louder. Tom could’ve sworn he still felt it prickling against his skin, but that might’ve been the needling numbness of a mid-Ophus night.

And now Tom’s footsteps were taking him to even quieter places, where he melted into the thicket of shadows like he’d been born to them.

Wasn’t hard to find the place. ’Course, she was one among many, left to rot among the rabble near the waterfront, but he’d been here before; he remembered playing here once, when he was just a boch. She was a hulking, lopsided shadow against the clouds now, more run-down than she’d ever been. As he approached, a handful of snowflakes whirled down from above, settling powdery-white in his coat and in his hair. Shuddering and pulling the heavy thing tighter around him, shoving one hand deep in his pocket and resting the other on the pommel of his knife, he crept in through the place he’d remembered: a little side door, half hanging off its hinges.

He heard the voices before he saw the source of them; one was low and muted, but the other – a woman’s – was a jagged knife through the still air. He winced at the sound of it: Don’t call me darling! It came right on the heels of a wet, slapping sound, and Tom smelled rotten fruit. He’d come in behind a jumbled stack of crates, some broken, high enough to hide him; he stood still in the dark for awhile, hand at the ready, listening. Sensation was creeping back into his numb cheeks, and he realized that the air inside the warehouse was warm, like somebody’d lit a fire. The heat was coming from the same place as the voices.

Tom recognized the softer of the voices, but he wasn’t about to let his guard down. Uzoji Ibutatu was still a golly, with the kind of heavy field you saw on practiced sorcerers; Tom had only met him once, and no matter how easy it’d been to drink with him, he’d never once forgotten the divide between them. Wasn’t like Murko, who made his field smaller, who talked Tek and Rose slang. More to the point, Tom’d never met his rosh, and based on what he was hearing, he didn’t particularly want to.

Gritting his teeth hard, he pushed down a curse. What in the flooding fuck were they thinking? He hadn’t known Ibutatu was bringing his beloved other half, but even so, he’d thought the two of them knew better than to wake up the whole godsdamn neighborhood with their carrying-on.

After awhile, they went real quiet, and he reckoned it was safe to come out. (Was that crying he heard? He hesitated.) He’d thought about calling out – “what’d I miss?” or, “you made up yet? need me t’ come back later?” – but in this case, he knew better. As long as they could speak, they could speak poetry, and as long as they could speak poetry, it was wise to take care. He knew this from experience.

He came out into the open nice and slow, hands raised, showing ’em his palms peaceful-like. Once he was sure he’d made himself clear, he lowered his hands.

They were close now, close as if they’d never fought – but no, Tom knew firsthand that wasn’t true. Oftentimes, he reckoned, the worse the fight, the closer together the aftermath brought you (though he couldn’t say as he and Ish had gotten closer after their last few fights). Uzoji’s field had settled back into something Tom might’ve called businesslike, but he couldn’t say much about his rosh’s. Couldn’t say much about his rosh in general, other than that she was a golly, and she was fashionable, and she had a voice that made him wish he’d drunk less that morning. Or more that night, come to think of it.

For a moment, he studied her. There was a deep frown carved into his long, scarred face, stony and unchanging – except for a slight quirk of his eyebrow. It might’ve been amused; there was something cruel in the expression. Gods damn it, but the gollies were floodin’ tiny. He always forgot. He had at least a foot on both of them, if not more.

His lip twitched, then he turned to Uzoji, inclining his head. “Early yet, hey?” he grunted. “Ain’t no sign o’ Breda?”

He cast a suspicious glance around the empty building, eyes lingering in the shadows of the walkways above. With a shrug, faux-nonchalant, he settled himself against a stack of heavy crates, crossing his arms. His posture might’ve been relaxed, but he was still ready, and his eyes kept roving round, clinging to each patch of faint, filtering light, each squirming shadow, as if determined to find something he’d missed.
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Last edited by Tom Cooke on Mon Jul 15, 2019 3:16 pm, edited 2 times in total. word count: 1121
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Niccolette Ibutatu
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Jul 11, 2019 11:41 pm
Topics: 5
Race: Galdor
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Writer: moralhazard
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Sat Jul 13, 2019 10:57 am

Late Night, 27 Ophus, 2715
An Old Warehouse, The Waterfront
Uzoji flexed his hands in his gloves, and wrapped his arms around Niccolette again, settling her against him. Niccolette closed her eyes, smelling his faint spicy scent, feeling the comforting warmth of his body. She could feel his heart beat through her as if it were her own. His field enveloped hers, that warm strong sensation, heavy, like a blanket - there was nothing in the world that made her feel so safe as her field merged with Uzoji’s.

Uzoji tensed, and Niccolette’s eyes snapped open, the perfect moment gone. She turned within his arms to see a tall scarred human in an old-looking coat standing not too far away, hands raised and palms flat towards them. For a moment Niccolette readied her field, responding to what she felt in Uzoji’s sigiled one -

Then he relaxed, loosening his grip on her and the mona both. Niccolette huffed, softly, and let go her readiness. This was their contact then, one Uzoji had said he knew. Uzoji had explained the usefulness of a human at this meeting, someone strong and tough looking, physically intimidating. Uzoji had told her this one was capable as well, in his way. Perhaps a few years ago Niccolette would have not believed him, would have thought it another of his strange Mugrobi fantasies about the other races, but their time working with Hawke had brought her into contact with all sorts, and Niccolette didn’t find it so unlikely anymore.

Niccolette could have sworn the human was studying her, in the darkness, and that his eyebrow lifted. Niccolette looked him over again and made a little face, lips pursing and twitching slightly to the side.

“Good to see you again,” Uzoji was saying to the human, his voice a low rumble against Niccolette. She could hear the friendly grin in his tone.

Niccolette let out a little sigh, and the two pulled apart. She fixed his collar, smoothing it straight with a gloved hand, then brushed at her own cloak, now faintly wet at the shoulders where falling snow had melted against her, gloves flicking the droplets of water off the thick, heavy material. Uzoji’s hand squeezed her side one last time and then there was space between them. Her beloved sent some warm emotion flickering through his field towards her, and Niccolette smiled, running her hands through her hair and adjusting the strands over her shoulders.

Breda. Niccolette had not heard of this Breda before the request arrived from Hawke. Some drug smuggler, a nothing, but with some sort of crew of his own. He seemed to have made his way into Old Rose Harbor, dug in a toehold, and forgotten whose town this was. Hawke felt he needed reminding, and with Uzoji and Niccolette in town to make some repairs to the airship - well. A night’s work, and one Niccolette hardly minded. It should be easy enough.

“Breda doesn’t seem to have arrived as early as we did,” Uzoji answered. He looked around the warehouse as well, narrowing his eyes at the dark corners. One of the appealing things about this warehouse as a meeting spot was that there was only meant to be one broken-down door, one spot for entry and exit - as if that might make them all comfortable, as if any of them might believe it to be true.

“Let me, darling,” Niccolette’s bastian accent was thick in her voice, even after more than a dozen years in Anaxas, and she gestured with one gloved hand as she spoke, idly. She murmured a slow steady chant in monite, confident and easy, almost effortless, feeding her apology into it to gentle the spell. She never liked to hurt her husband. Something like a shimmer built up in the air around her and streamed to envelop Uzoji, encircling him and seeping slowly into his eyes.

Uzoji closed his eyes, recognizing the deep vision spell before Niccolette was more than a few words in. When he opened them again they glowed bright brown in the darkness of the warehouse, as if he were lit from within and a lantern shone out of him. “Thank you, dear heart,” laughter and genuine pleasure were thick in his voice.

Uzoji scanned Tom first, then turned in a slow circle to look around the rest of the warehouse, studying impossibly dark corners without squinting, as cool and easy as if it had been midday. He closed his eyes again at the end of it, and opened them to nothingness, no glow, as if the lantern Niccolette had lit within him was blown out once again.

“There is one else here,” Uzoji confirmed. “Not yet,” the airship pirate grinned, bright and confident and a little vicious, his smile flashing white in the moonlight. The clouds swirled gray and cold overhead, but no more snow fell, at least not for now. “Tom, please allow me to introduce my wife, Niccolette Ibutatu.”

Niccolette shrugged slight shoulders beneath her cloak, not bothering to greet Tom for herself. With the two gollies now standing apart, Tom would at least be able to sense her field - not heavy like Uzoji’s, but strong and humming with life in the empty warehouse, full of vibrant energy. She met Tom’s eyes again and smiled, but it wasn’t quite friendly; Niccolette couldn’t help but resent him for his interruption, his intrusion. Uzoji said he would be useful, she reminded herself.

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Tom Cooke
Posts: 190
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2018 3:15 pm
Topics: 26
Location: Vienda, but also hell
Race: Raen
: "disturbingly unheimlich individual"
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Writer: Graf
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Sat Jul 13, 2019 9:24 pm

An Old Warehouse The Waterfront
during the night of the 27th of ophus, 2715
When he felt Uzoji’s field tighten up – being honest, Tom didn’t have the words for all this shit; he could barely differentiate the sort of voo that broke your leg from the sort that mended it – when he felt it hum and get all concentrated, he did his best not to tense. It was hard, but he managed: if he was about to get his erse tossed to the ceiling, there wasn’t much he could do about it, anyway. They were holding each other, and the chip was looking at him hard with those sharp, kohl-rimmed eyes.

They relaxed, and so did he. Uzoji grinned at him, and Tom couldn’t quite muster up a grin in return; instead, he dipped his head in greeting. The way he looked at the galdor spoke of respect, if not wholehearted trust. “Aye. Well, early bird gets the worm,” he shot back, shrugging, “or somethin’, hey?” He kept his voice casual, friendly-like, but that suspicion was still in his eyes. They didn’t meet Uzoji’s for long: they were still searching the far reaches of the warehouse, still trying in vain to differentiate dark from dark.

One entrance. That was why they’d all agreed on this place. ’Course, that didn’t mean somebody hadn’t gotten here ahead of them, and that was what’d worried Tom since he stepped in. He didn’t know this Breda kov, and that worried him more.

He liked a good fight as much as the next man, but he didn’t like a surprise. He didn’t see how they’d avoid one, though, with all this dark.

Uzoji was thinking the same as him, he reckoned, and having about as much luck. As the two of them split apart, the Bastian woman got a little closer, close enough he could feel the woobly sensation of her field. This one was different; he couldn’t tell if it was stronger or weaker than Uzoji’s, but it was like nothing he’d felt before. She spoke again, this time more softly, and he felt her field go tense and focused like Uzoji’s had.

Then the poetry came rolling off her tongue; then the air around them went all clammy. There was a flow of something from her to him, warm, maybe apologetic. He had his eyes closed, and when he opened them, they shone like somebody’d lit lamps behind them. This time, Tom did tense, watching him, wary. What in the floodin’ hell’s that? He was scanning the darkness, though, and he reckoned she’d given him something to help him see in the dark.

He confirmed their suspicions, and a small frown tugged at Tom’s mouth, but he didn’t let his expression give anything else away. Uzoji said to wait, and Tom agreed with him, nodding his head once. No point in letting the kov know they knew he was there: best let him believe he still had the element of surprise.

With that grin still on his face, Uzoji introduced his rosh. Tom raised his eyebrows. “Boemo, boemo,” he replied, tone lightening. “Didn’t know you was bringin’ your better half. Well” – and now he turned to Niccolette – junta, Ms. Ibutatu. Heard plenty about you.”

When Niccolette smiled at him, he smiled back; his was about as friendly as hers, but he made an effort. It was a lopsided curl of a thing that showed off a row of crooked teeth. He was missing his left eye tooth, and his right canine was unusually sharp. Tom pushed himself up off the crates, grunting and rolling his shoulders, then moved closer to the gollies with a slow, nonchalant step.

He came close enough to be looking down at Niccolette, and then took a big hand out of his pocket and offered it to her. Handshakes weren’t often a thing you did with womenfolk, and they certainly weren’t a thing you did with gollies, but he was making a point. He was wearing patchy gloves that looked like they’d been on the point of unraveling years ago; the fingers’d been cut out in a rough, makeshift sort of way, and his fingers were covered in the thin white lines of scars.

“Cooke. Tom.” If she took his hand, he’d give it a brusque shake; if she didn’t, he’d wait a second more and then shove it back in his pocket, shrugging, with a soft dze under his breath.

Either way, he turned and stalked a few paces away, leaning to peer round the crates stacked up in front of the door. Nobody yet. He shivered, drawing his shoulders up round his ears and burying his hands deeper in his pockets. “Don’t like this waitin’,” he threw over his shoulder, wandering back to his spot leaned up against the boxes.
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Last edited by Tom Cooke on Mon Jul 15, 2019 3:16 pm, edited 2 times in total. word count: 861
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Niccolette Ibutatu
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Joined: Thu Jul 11, 2019 11:41 pm
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Race: Galdor
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Sun Jul 14, 2019 12:25 am

Late Night, 27 Ophus, 2715
An Old Warehouse, The Waterfront
Niccolette’s eyes dropped to Tom’s teeth, and she made that little grimace again, the smile she’d more or less barely managed sliding off her face. She didn’t bother to respond to his junta with anything more than a faint nod, one shoulder lifting slightly in something like a shrug. Tom came closer, and closer; from a distance, Niccolette could look nearly straight at him. The closer he came, the more he seemed to loom over her, the more the differences in their heights was magnified. Niccolette felt something jolt through her chest, warm and primal, almost like fear.

Uzoji was nonchalant; he didn’t respond at all, in movement or focus, to Tom’s steady encroachment into his wife’s space. Niccolette thought wryly that he knew better; if he was to be concerned for one of them, it would be Tom.

Niccolette’s eyes lowered to Tom’s hand as it came into her space, her head tilting slightly to the side. She studied his patchy gloves, the bare red fingers sticking out of them, the white scars etched into his skin, all beneath whatever faint silvery moonlight braved its way through the stormy clouds.

Niccolette’s small gloved hand lifted, and took Tom’s, absurdly dwarfed by it, and now she did smile – not almost predatory like before, and nothing like the warm, loving look she’d given Uzoji either, but something like a grin. She looked up at Tom, his face nearly a foot above her own, not giving even an inch of space to him. “Already, you have mine,” Niccolette told him. She didn’t exactly shake his hand – her hand wasn’t quite limp in his, but she didn’t do more than go with his motion, her gloved fingers lightly clasping his.

“No,” Uzoji agreed when Tom spoke again, his tone wry. He shifted his weight, slightly, from foot to foot. There was an ease to his movement and his stillness that Niccolette adored, the way he was in times like this. He reminded Niccolette of the uliams he had showed her in Mugrobi, sometimes, even when he was still and silent, with a sense of being thickly bunched beneath the heavy coat he wore, as if he were rippling with power – like a hunter. Niccolette felt a little thrill run through her, watching him.

“It shouldn’t be long now,” Uzoji said, checking his pocket watch with an easy movement and sliding it away once more. His gaze flickered back over his right shoulder; his head didn’t move, but with a slight shift of his body he could just barely look at a distant shadowy spot well behind the three of them. After a moment, Uzoji looked back at Tom again, and grinned once more, slow and smooth.

Niccolette sighed, and brushed another small spot of water from the collar of her cloak, adjusting the line of it against the shoulders of her dress. She shifted, arms crossing over her chest, looking sideways at Uzoji, then past Tom to the crates blocking the door, her gaze barely even pausing on the human.

With the three of them quiet, with no shouting or throwing or pulsing fields, it would be easy enough to hear the steady, repeated thuds of booted feet approaching the warehouse door, crunching against the icy ground and overlapping in an odd cacophony of noise.

There were four of them that filed into the dark, dreary, worn-down warehouse. The first, an Anaxi or similar to judge by his looks, had an impressive swagger to his walk, chest puffed out, hands shoved in the pockets of a thick, heavy coat, new looking. He stalked out from behind the crates, shot a look at Tom, and turned his attention to the two galdori, taking a few steps further into the warehouse. He looked distinctly human, a few solid inches shy of six feet tall, with a burly set to his frame and a fighter’s scarring around his nose.

Three others came behind him: one was a well-muscled Mugrobi human, a scant inch or two shorter than Tom; the second was Anaxi as well, and could have been the brother of the first, with the same broken-looking nose, although he had a few more marks, including a line splitting his eyebrow and a nasty cut on his cheek, still open and an irritated red in the cold night air; and the third, the smallest and slightest, had long tangled curly brown hair, and a tangible glamour that Tom would feel brush past him as he entered the warehouse.

“Breda,” Uzoji took a half-step forward. He didn’t put himself between Niccolette and the four others; he didn’t make any move to cover her at all. His eyes focused on the first man, the one who stood out in front of the others, with his expensive new coat and the cocky look on his face.

“What’s this then,” Breda spat on the floor of the warehouse between them, his face curling into a sneer. “Hawke sends gollies t’ do th’ work ‘f honest men? An’ what, they’ve a human pet too?” His eyes flickered to Tom, then back to Uzoji; for all his bravado, there was a faint sense of unease to him, of tension.

Uzoji grinned, broadly, hands spread out wide in front of himself. “Let’s at least try to start this off friendly, shall we?” He asked, smiling, as if he hadn’t even heard Breda’s insults.

Niccolette’s arms loosened from where she held them crossed over her chest, hands falling to her side. She looked from Breda to the men behind them, looking them each up and down, eyes lingering for a moment on the cut on one’s cheekbone, then pulling back to Breda. The wick was obvious to her, his faint glamour like an irritating fly against her field; the others were only human, but too cocky for Niccolette’s taste. She wondered what they knew, or thought they did, but she didn’t interrupt Uzoji’s efforts, watching with the faintest of smiles on her face.

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Tom Cooke
Posts: 190
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2018 3:15 pm
Topics: 26
Location: Vienda, but also hell
Race: Raen
: "disturbingly unheimlich individual"
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Sun Jul 14, 2019 11:56 pm

An Old Warehouse The Waterfront
during the night of the 27th of ophus, 2715
Hadn’t liked that half-ersed shake, but the grin wasn’t half-bad, he had to admit. For a golly, ’course. He thought about it, leaned up against his crates, staring into the dark patch of the doorway round the bend. Dark on dark. It was all shadows in shadows tonight, and Tom didn’t like it none. Uzoji’s confirmation still squirmed at the back of his head, too, made his skin crawl. He dared to shoot a moment’s glance to where the golly’d been looking, where he reckoned that early bird was, but his natt’s eyes couldn’t make out shit in the dark.

So it’d be. It shouldn’t be long now, said Uzoji, and Tom looked to him and his rosh, sweeping them with his cool, dark gaze. A frown tugged at his lips, tugged at his scars. The Mugrobi galdor was shifting his weight, readying himself for a fight. Ibutatu was slight and small, but he wasn’t weak: he carried himself like a man who knew how to fight. Tom couldn’t feel his field from here, but he reckoned it’d gone tense. He looked briefly at Niccolette; he’d felt her field, but he couldn’t make much of it, and he didn’t know how much use she’d be in a fight.

This time, even he, mung human that he was, heard the scuffling of bootsteps outside the warehouse. He stood up from the crates, blowing out his cheeks and rolling his shoulders. By his reckoning, there were at least a few people. Them, plus whoever the hell’d already got here, lurking in the dark like some ghost.

Tom shivered, but he put it out of his head. If there was a fight coming, a fight’d come. He wasn’t a religious man – leastways, he didn’t think he was – but he ran through a quiet little prayer to the Circle in his head. Would’ve been weak to beg for life; instead, he just asked, in his fumbling way, that what was meant to pass’d pass. If he had to die tonight, he hoped he’d have more luck in his next life. Wouldn’t’ve been hard to have more luck.

When the first man passed the threshold, he leaned back against the crates, taking his hands out of his pockets and crossing his arms over his chest. He jerked his chin up, narrowing his eyes. Curling his lip. Knew how to look the part, Tom did. He’d been doing it for long enough.

Gods damn it, he thought. Four of ’em. Five? This time, he didn’t dare look back into the shadows. Instead, he kept his eye on the frontmost man, the swaggering, squat kov – Breda, Tom reckoned, by the way he was throwing his weight around. Being honest, he was the least concerned about him. The two other humans, the Mugrobi and the Anaxi, looked laoso enough. Tom’d had the last one down as a wick before he felt the field, just by his manner and his long hair and his short, lean build: the woobly tickle of a glamour he felt as he passed was just a grim confirmation.

Eventually, they stopped a healthy distance from the gollies, and Uzoji took a step forward. Tom, between them and to the side, watched silently.

When Breda spoke, though, he couldn’t help it. His lip curled back over his crooked teeth. “Ain’t ne fuckin’ pet,” he snarled, before he could push the words back down. “Watch your mouth—”

“Havakda!” snapped the wick, cutting him off. The kov’d opened his mouth to say more when Breda held up a hand. The wick stopped short, grinding his teeth.

He didn’t even spare the wick a glance, keeping his eyes trained on Uzoji. “You heard ’im, eh, Snell? Friendly. All friendly ’ere, ain’t we?” Despite that flicker of uncertainty when he’d taken in the two gollies, the shit-eating sneer’d not all fallen off his face.

The Mugrobi human snorted.

Tom caught a flicker of movement out of the corner of his eye, some stirring of shadows in the corner Uzoji’d looked at. Gods damn him, but he couldn’t seem to focus his eyes on it. The air felt funny, woobly, like somebody’d spoken poetry, but he hadn’t heard nothing. His attention was slipping away from him.

All the while, Breda was running his mouth. “Ain’t nothin’ to start, toffin, ’cause the answer’s no. You ain’t even got t’ ask. Hawke can send more men, an’ we’ll tell ’em same as we’re tellin’ you. Sack it, ’e can come ’isself. We got better than ’im t’ answer to.”

“’f ’e ain’t a laoso fuckin’ coward,” put in the wick, hawking up a gob of spittle. “Sendin’ a godsdamn chip.”

For a few seconds, Tom felt woozy. He was doing his damnedest to focus, but he just couldn’t. He would’ve sworn he’d seen something, could’ve sworn there was something there, crawling out of the dark. Could’ve sworn he could hear something like a whisper, as much as his brain didn’t seem to want him to think about it. Then, abruptly, his eyes snapped open.

He could see her, now, plain and clear. It was dark, but it wasn’t that dark, and she’d been walking across the warehouse plain as day. Why the fuck hadn’t he seen her before? She slid into a patch of light, and his blood ran cold. She was slim, smaller even than the two galdori Bad Brothers, and the moonlight caught on a shock of bright red hair. It was unmistakable.

“Uzoji!” he yelled.

Something glinted in the dark. She locked eyes with Tom for just a second, then tore out a knife. She’d been carefully out of reach of Uzoji’s field, but now she dove toward him, knife aimed to bury itself between his shoulderblades.

The men and the wick sprang into action, too. Breda fell back, and the two humans surged around him, launching themselves at Uzoji with their sharps drawn even as the golly did. Meanwhile, the wick darted to the side; Tom felt a stirring in the air as poetry dropped off his tongue. The kov surged toward Niccolette, and with a flick of his wrist and a puff of his breath, laced with whispered Monite, he’d blown what looked like sand in her face.

Breda, for all his swagger, was heading out. Tom hissed through his teeth, tearing Ish’s knife from his belt and lunging in his path.
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Last edited by Tom Cooke on Mon Jul 15, 2019 3:15 pm, edited 1 time in total. word count: 1165
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Niccolette Ibutatu
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Jul 11, 2019 11:41 pm
Topics: 5
Race: Galdor
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Writer: moralhazard
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Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:01 am

Late Night, 27 Ophus, 2715
An Old Warehouse, The Waterfront
Afew scattered flakes of snow swirled in from overhead, glistening and glittering in the air.

“Better than him?” Uzoji asked, smiling, lifting one dark eyebrow against the hard smooth planes of his face. “My friend, this is the Rose. There is no one better than him.”

There was a grin on Uzoji’s face at the wick’s words about his wife, something wicked in his eyes. He didn’t look at Niccolette, and she didn’t look at him; she didn’t need to, not to see that grin. She knew it: she knew it in her bones, knew it in places deep inside herself that she couldn’t name, knew her hunter’s fierce pride in her.

The weight of tension in the air was heavy, like a field of its own, settling over them all. Niccolette remembered that she ought to look behind them, ought to look back over Uzoji’s shoulder, but she couldn’t remember why, and so she focused on Breda. His lips were moving again, but Niccolette couldn’t seem to make out the words. She frowned, staring at his lips, blinking. It was as if the whole world was drenched in syrup, slow and sweet, time spinning slowly along -

”Uzoji!”

Her beloved’s name woke the whole warehouse to action.

Brenda’s men moved, as if the yell had been some intangible signal to them. Two surged around the burly human, suddenly-drawn knives flashing in the gray winter air, cutting straight towards Uzoji. Behind him - behind him! - a woman with red hair and a knife, a galdor, that clocking bitch, charging forward out of half-forgotten shadows. The wick, the last of them, ran at Niccolette himself.

Fighting rolls
Niccolette: SidekickBOTToday at 4:56 AM
@moralhazard: 3d6 = (5+3+5) = 13

NPCs: SidekickBOTToday at 4:57 AM
@moralhazard: 3d6 = (1+5+2) = 8

Uzoji: SidekickBOTToday at 4:57 AM
@moralhazard: 2d6 = (4+1) = 5

Niccolette, turned half towards Uzoji, glanced back over her shoulder at the wick, and listened to the murmurs of strange pidgin Monite. “No.” She spoke the simplest counterspell of them all in Monite - easy enough to speak, hard to use properly against another galdor, often too weak to be a counterweight against a well-constructed spell. Rare was the case when a single word could disrupt an entire tapestry of well woven spell threads. But against a wick’s efforts, his mumbling muttered monite?

The whole of Niccolette’s powerful, etheric field pulsed outwards like a tidal wave, swamping the wick’s much more fragile efforts. The spell he’d begun burst apart in the air, the little fragments of dust or sand or whatever they’d been disintegrating into nothing long before they’d had any hope of reaching Niccolette.

Their enormous human was tearing after the bulky one, Breda the coward, too afraid to stay and finish the fight he had started. Niccolette was already speaking, the monite flowing from her tongue. This was a quick, simple spell, one that a child could perform, her gaze focused on the wick in front of her even with her body turned half towards her husband.

Pain.

It wasn’t her best effort, but it worked well enough. The wick let out a loud scream, stumbling back, fingers clawing at his filthy body, tangling in his hair, as if there were something he could do to stop the pain wracking him. Niccolette smiled and kept casting, syllables of monite dripping off her tongue like a prayer, shifting a little bit more towards the wick, hands clenched into tight fists at her side. How dare he come for her? How dare he keep her from where she longed to be - where she needed to be - at Uzoji’s side?

Well. He would soon wish he hadn’t.

At Brunnhold, Niccolette had learned to heal; it was the sort of thing that interested them there. It was fascinating to Niccolette too to study the body, to learn its complicated intricacies and innermost workings. The body of a galdor or a human or even a wick had, for example, so very many bones, all fragile and carefully arranged together. They were hard to heal, naturally. They had to be set just right, or the healer might do more damage than good; it required not just talent, but precision and practice and will as well, and Niccolette had never been entirely comfortable with such spells. Fortunately for the bastian galdor, and rather unfortunately for the wick, bones were much, much easier to break.

Niccolette finished the spell, and a painful, audible crack sounded from within the wick’s body. His right leg twisted, horribly, and he dropped, screaming now with a different type of agony, and equally unable to do anything about it. The thrill of conquest sang like fire in her blood, sharp and brutal and joyous.

Uzoji shifted to face the galdor behind him. She lunged at him with the knife, the sharp blade glinting in the moonlight, and Uzoji spoke a single word of a spell: push.

It was the first spell children learned, more often than not. Used by a child, it might push a toy across the floor, push a boat across a pond, push a pencil over the edge of a table. Used by an adult, a Thul’Amat and Brunnhold-trained galdor with the heavy weight of physical spells filling his field? It shoved the red-headed galdor back across the room, putting nearly ten feet of space between them, and knocked her down to the ground besides.

Uzoji’s hands flashed beneath his coat, and emerged with two circular Mugrobi daggers as he turned back towards the humans closing fast. The Mugrobi human feinted, once, and caught Uzoji when he shifted. His knife scored a blow inside the galdor’s guard, opening up a bloody line on his sweater before Uzoji’s knives were close enough that he pulled back, out of range of the two sharp blades.

The Anaxian human wasn’t so lucky, or perhaps not so focused; he glanced back at the wick as he began to scream, face paling slightly, distracted enough that his blow only caught Uzoji’s sleeve, ripping it but not doing more than glancing damage to the skin beneath.

The crack of the wick’s leg breaking seemed to catch them all off guard. Even the Mugrobi startled slightly, although he didn’t come out of his low, confident fighter’s crouch, and his eyes left Uzoji for only a split second.

“What th’ clocking FUCK’d she do t’ him?” The Anaxi asked, panicking, taking a half step back from the two Mugrobi. His voice was a sloppy mumble, as bad as the mess on his face, taut with tension and fear.

Uzoji grinned, settling his two daggers into his hands, glancing back once to check the red-haired galdor struggling to her feet, and turning his focus back to the two humans, fixing on the Mugrobi. Blood was staining his sweater and dripping from his sleeve, but he seemed utterly undaunted.

“Nothing like what she’ll do to you,” Uzoji grinned wider, and the points of his gleaming white canines seemed to glow in the light. “We did so want to keep this friendly.”

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Tom Cooke
Posts: 190
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2018 3:15 pm
Topics: 26
Location: Vienda, but also hell
Race: Raen
: "disturbingly unheimlich individual"
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Writer: Graf
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Mon Jul 15, 2019 4:09 pm

An Old Warehouse The Waterfront
during the night of the 27th of ophus, 2715
Without a word, Tom hurled himself at Breda’s back. Wrapping one big arm round his neck, he yanked him back a couple of steps, wrangling with him, boots scuffling in the frost-crusted dirt as they both staggered. Much as he was the bigger of the two of them, it’d been a fast, poorly-planned move, and Tom was suffering for it. He had a hold on the shorter man, but Breda was strong and heavy, just as well-built as Tom and a damn sight quicker. His hold was tenuous, and he was struggling with his balance already.

Didn’t help that he could feel the voo behind him like a furnace. The air was warped with it, with what arcane folk called the mona. Even to somebody without the ley lines to feel ’em proper, all this casting made the warehouse feel like a can of greasy, watery soup. He could hear it, too, all the speaking in tongues. On the bright side, all the commotion’d distracted Breda, who seemed a little dazed, like he was figuring out he’d already lost. Tom’s grip on him was feeling a little more secure.

“Move another ’alf-inch,” snarled Tom in his ear, a little too effortful to be as threatening as he intended, “an’ I’ll gut y’ like… like a fuckin’…”

From behind him there came a pop. Then there came something he couldn’t’ve rightly called a shout, or a scream, or anything half so civilized. For a second, Tom wondered if a wild dog’d got caught in the crossfire of some spell. It was such a bizarre, mangled sound that he couldn’t help his head jerking up to look over his shoulder, and when he saw the heap of the wick writhing in the dirt, it took him awhile to process the image. There was something wrong with it. Legs were meant to bend one way, and his leg was bent the other.

Breda was twisting around in his grasp, taking advantage. Tom heard a grunt, and before he could do much about it, felt an elbow crack against his face. More than pain, it was like somebody’d thrown ice-water in middle of his face, and something’d got rearranged. Then came the ache. He hissed between his teeth, feeling the blood on his lip, but Breda was already moving, wresting free of his grasp like an ugly weasel.

It took everything he had not to stagger back and cup his bleeding, wrecked nose. He was starting to feel it now. Still, he managed well enough. Breda hadn’t got far when Tom threw himself at him again, this time managing to keep his balance as he got a hold on him. The two of them stumbled back. Breda leaned into it, and Tom’s back slammed against the stack of crates.

Still, he knew how to do this well enough; he’d done it plenty of times before, and under worse circumstances. The muscles of his forearm were pressed tight against Breda’s jugular, and the kov wasn’t moving so well. He hissed between his teeth like he was struggling for breath, and Tom shifted the position of his arm slightly. He felt Breda gasp, breathe in deeply a few more times, but his movements were getting thick and lazy, and he wasn’t fighting back anymore.

When Breda finally slumped, unconscious, he nearly took Tom to the floor with him. He just managed to keep his balance, grabbing onto the crate behind him for support – then he turned his attention to the gollies.

“Floodin’ hell,” he whispered, not knowing remotely what to do.



Jent magic. There wasn’t much in Snell’s head, now; for a good minute or two, screams’d tore their way out of his throat, one after another, wild and animal, and he couldn’t seem to put a stopper on them. It was like he was possessed. He couldn’t see the chip, the Mugrobi kov, Arno or pez Ekene or Breda who’d run like a laoso. He couldn’t even see his own leg for the bloody pain in his eyes, though he knew it was mangled. He’d felt it mangling, felt his own bones work against him. Felt his body just deciding to do something without his permission, like his leg was a hound and the golly’d told it to sit.

Snell was muttering something, then, babbling profanity in Tek, but at least he wasn’t screaming anymore. His breath snorted in and out of his nose, and his eyes squeezed shut. The last of the pain spell was ebbing, but he could still feel it reverberating through his bones, and the pain in his leg wasn’t a spell. He whimpered, then gritted his teeth. His whole body was trembling.

He could’ve cast a healing spell on himself, could’ve tried to fix it. That was what Breda’d hired him on for at the start. Hell, that was what he’d been good for back in Thul Ka, with the AAF. He’d fixed worse on pez Ekene in those days, wounds that would’ve curled your toes to look at. He was terrified, though, terrified of the air around the chip swimming with the mona, the same kind of mona that healed and nurtured, that’d healed his bones into bending. What if he asked them wrong, thick-tongued with pain? What if they turned against him? He had to set it, anyway, and soon, elsewise it’d grow back wrong. His leg’d be fucked for the rest of his life.

And he couldn’t even see how bad it was. He still couldn’t see.

Rage stirred in his belly. Despite, or perhaps because of, the pain, it focused his head razor-sharp. His lips moved, and he whispered to those dancing mona, whispered from the heart of his pain and rage, told them what the chip’d taken from him and what he meant to do. He asked the mona to blind them that’d blinded him.

Snell’s words were slurred and indistinct, but the mona were willing. The area around the combatants plunged into a thicket of shadows. It wasn’t pitch darkness, and it wouldn’t last long; they’d be able to see indistinct shapes close at hand, vague bodies swimming in the dark like the shadows of fish underwater, but that was it.
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Niccolette Ibutatu
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Jul 11, 2019 11:41 pm
Topics: 5
Race: Galdor
Character Sheet: Character Sheet
Plot Notes: Plot Notes
Writer: moralhazard
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Mon Jul 15, 2019 5:48 pm

Late Night, 27 Ophus, 2715
An Old Warehouse, The Waterfront
Uzoji gripped his knives in his hands, one in each. This time, when the Mugrobi moved in, Uzoji’s blade flashed out and parried his, the two clanging together in the empty warehouse. The Anaxian, the one who could have been Breda’s brother, was hanging back slightly, hesitant still, his eyes shifting between Uzoji and Niccolette. Niccolette moved, leaving the wick behind, out of the range of his field, crossing closer to the rest of the fighting.

Something was happening at the front of the room – a loud clash of bodies against crates –

The wick’s howls of pain had faded to muttered grumblings in Tek; Niccolette, focused as she was on Uzoji’s knife flashing, on the taller Mugrobi, stronger, with one knife to his two, didn’t notice when they became monite again.

Niccolette’s eyes settled on the wound on his face again. She ran through the spell in her mind, opening her mouth to speak – he took a step back, as if something in the look she had warned him –

And the room plunged into darkness, all of them utterly silent.

One heartbeat – two – another –

Niccolette had been on the very edge of casting, and she choked the words to silence in her throat, one hand pressing firmly over her mouth. A second later, and she might well have brailed, and that sudden surge of fear kept her silent a moment too long.

There was a loud crashing noise, like crates being knocked over.

Then a grunt, loud and echoing through the darkness before her, a familiar voice tense with pain.

Fighting rolls
Niccolette, see in the dark spell: SidekickBOTToday at 1:33 PM
@moralhazard: 1d6 = (6) = 6
Niccolette, anesthesia spell: SidekickBOTToday at 1:54 PM
@moralhazard: 1d6 = (5) = 5
Niccolette steps on the wick: SidekickBOTToday at 1:54 PM
@moralhazard: 1d6 = (4) = 4
Niccolette didn’t hesitate any longer, drawing her sigiled field together and chanting a steady stream of monite: a spell she’d cast a thousand times, perhaps, once already here in the warehouse tonight, and so many other times – a spell she’d cast the first time on Uzoji back at Brunnhold, sitting somewhere secret and private looking out at the dark, and she had told him that she could make him see. That laugh of his, a warm low sound that had still been new, all those years ago, that had filled her with a sense of confidence, of trust, with the belief that she could elicit it. And never – never – never had she told him how long she had searched the library for that spell; never had she told him how hard she had worked to impress him.

And how many times had she cast it since then! Her hand on his shoulder in the dark of night, Uzoji at the controls of the airship, some distant ship before them as she whispered the spell, letting him see better than anyone else on the most moonless nights, still, always, with that laughter in his voice as they dropped down, reckless and wonderful.

The mona reached across the distance between them, even in the dark, responding to Niccolette’s precise prayer of a spell and most of all the strength of will, and she and Uzoji lit up like lanterns once more, her eyes glowing green and his brown, piercing through the darkness.

Niccolette could see the Mugrobi human moving back – but Uzoji was there, with his daggers, flashing forward.

Behind him – the red-headed galdor. Niccolette could see her mouth moving in the darkness, crafting some spell of her own.

Niccolette began to whisper once more, chanting. She couldn’t hear anything about the pained grunts of the wick lying on the ground, over her own voice, over the pounding of her heart in her ears, but she focused on the galdor and chanted in the warehouse that, to her, was no longer dark – casting a simple spell.

Anesthetics were another thing they taught at Brunnhold. There was, the professors there had explained, only so much pain that the mind could endure, although the body could handle quite a bit more. Healing wasn’t painless; even the best caster with the gentlest touch might need to do something the body didn’t like. Anesthesia, locally applied, numbed the body, gentled the way, allowed you to push beyond in the name of healing. Or, at least, so Niccolette’s professors had intended.

It hadn’t been hard to find a grimoire with a few other suggestions, once Niccolette had had the funds.

Niccolette called to the mona, summoning them, and numbed the other galdor’s tongue.

It was perfectly timed; the woman broke off mid-incantation, her suddenly useless tongue flopping in her mouth. With her green glowing eyes Niccolette could see the confusion and sudden panic on the woman’s face. Terror filled her face, and she dropped to her knees, clutching her head in her hands and curling forward on the ground, pressing her forehead against the floor of the warehouse and rocking back and forth.

Niccolette turned, walked back to the wick groaning on the floor, and stomped on his jaw as hard as she could with her booted foot, letting it crunch audibly against the floor.


Esogene pez Ekene had expected his night to go better. He’d known Snell for years now, called him a friend ever since they’d fought off that maja’wa back on the Turga. They’d fought it off, together, the rest of the company hanging back like cowards. Snell had saved his arm where the beast had nearly bitten through it, where it had been hanging by shards of flesh and bone and sinewy muscle, with that wika voo of his. Hulali’s tits, he’d never seen an arata get the drop on Snell like that – most of them were too busy up in their heads, thinking over those details of their intricate spells, to cast quick.

Sometimes it felt like nothing had gone right since they’d come to Anaxas. It was too flooding cold here, for one. But Snell had suggested it, said he knew folks in Old Rose Harbor who’d want a good spell and a good knife, and they’d hired on with this desema, Breda, useless dura that he was. Flood him, and flood his whole family. Breda’d been the one who set this meeting up, Breda’d been the one who said there was nothing to worry about, and Breda’d been the one to turn tail and run the moment the fighting started.

Esogene felt chills run down his spine at Snell’s howls. He’d never heard him make a sound like that, never. Arno was freaked out, that much was clear, as useless as his brother for all that he looked the part. Esogene knew better, keeping his eyes on the arata kov with those two daggers, keeping his ready stance, his knife tangling with his smaller opponent’s.

He might have that voo, but the galdor wasn’t the knife fighter Esogene was, too small, even with two blades. A few more moments and he’d have him. Maybe Esogene was the only one really listening, but he heard Snell calling to the mona for something, mumbling those sparklies he liked so well, and so maybe Esogene was the only one not too surprised when the lights went out. The dura was used to fighting in the dark, though, and he moved forward, slow and easy so as not to spoke the arata. He could practically feel Arno running away behind him, like there was a little puff of wind coming from the coward’s trail.

There was a loud crash, boxes falling over, and Esogene struck; he felt his knife sink into flesh, go good and hard and deep, and he twisted it and heard the arata grunt.

Esogene pulled back – and then the arata’s eyes like up, turned on, like the moon shining out of them, and Esogene felt his blood run cold. He saw a flash of blade reflected off of the galdor’s eyes, and he stepped back, readying his, but the arata was on him already, godsdamned knives flashing, and then one was deep, deep in his chest. Esogene gripped it with one hand, looking down. He knew better – he knew better than to pull it out, and so he held it in while the other plunged still deeper.


The wick’s darkness flickered out; Niccolette stood with her booted heel still on his crushed jaw, looking down at him. She made a face and stepped off of him, the glow fading from her eyes.

Uzoji was tangled with the tall Mugrobi; he moved, jerked, and the human stumbled back and dropped, lifeless to the floor. Uzoji stepped back, breathing hard, one of his knives still embedded in the human’s chest.

The red-headed galdor was rocking back and forth on the ground, moaning and laughing to herself.

The other human was gone, the crates scattered, one half on top of Breda’s unconscious body, the door left wide open behind him.

“Not bad, beloved,” Uzoji turned to Niccolette, smiling, and blood bubbled up from his lips. His eyes widened, and he dropped hard to his knees, knife clattering to the ground.

Niccolette screamed.

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Tom Cooke
Posts: 190
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2018 3:15 pm
Topics: 26
Location: Vienda, but also hell
Race: Raen
: "disturbingly unheimlich individual"
Character Sheet: Character Sheet
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Writer: Graf
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Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:12 pm

An Old Warehouse The Waterfront
during the night of the 27th of ophus, 2715
It’d been like some kind of godsdamn nightmare. After they’d plunged into darkness, there was only sound to guide him. The shuffling of booted feet in the dirt, mostly, the rustling of cloth, then a crash of broken crates that’d made him jump, made all his hair stand on end. Too close – he’d felt the stirring of air. Even though he’d known he ought to stay calm, his right hand’d been white-knuckled and clammy round the hilt of his knife, the varnished wood slick with sweat. He’d heard breath; he’d heard Monite, he couldn’t’ve told whose, rolling out into the inky dark.

Then he’d seen two pairs of eyes, one brown and one green, light up like anglerfish.

After that, it’d been carnage. When the veil dispersed, he was standing where he’d stood before, dark eyes wide and wild, his face a bloody mess. His chest rose and fell with ragged breaths through his mouth. First thing he did was look toward where Breda’d been, a lump at his feet: the lump was still there, but it was half-covered in the rubble of fallen, busted crates, scattered with strips of damp, moldy wood and nails and sawdust. But he hadn’t got hit with anything too heavy. He was still alive.

Tom was still alive, too. Wasn’t too bad of a day, after all. Day wasn’t over yet, though ’course. He finally cupped his bleeding nose with a hand, wincing and hissing a curse through his teeth. Through narrowed eyes that’d begun to prickle with tears, he surveyed the rest of the room.

To his relief, the two gollies were still standing, and the floor was scattered with bodies. Three, to be precise. The Mugrobi man was dead, one of Uzoji’s curved knives buried in his chest. Tom caught sight of the wick. He remembered a sound he’d heard – a crunch, followed by some feeble, watery wheezing – and pushed down a shudder. If the kov wasn’t already dead, he’d be dead in no time; he didn’t wince, but he didn’t look at him for long. Instead, his glance strayed toward the golly chip, sitting a few paces behind Uzoji and Niccolette. She was rocking, her thin shoulders drawn up round her ears, her lips moving and not much coming out except for that soft, moony laughter.

He wiped the blood away from his lips, swallowing thickly. He looked round, but he didn’t see the other Anaxi, the kov who’d looked like Breda. Had he run, too? He looked from the gollies, to Breda on the floor behind, to the open door, that square of chilly nighttime. Some snow’d settled outside since the fight had started, and there was a thin dusting of white on the stairs; it glowed faintly in the moonlight. From here, he could make out the dark shapes of bootprints, and his lip curled back over his teeth.

Fucking laoso couldn’t’ve got far. He caught his hama’s knife up in his hand and let his pain kindle something inside him. Breda was out cold, and if he woke up anytime soon, Tom reckoned the gollies could handle him.

Around that time, he heard a sound behind him and turned back, distracted. Uzoji was on his feet, but just barely, now that Tom looked more closely. Blood bubbled at his lips, and he swayed; sheathing his knife, Tom started over toward them, a fire at his heels. After all that voo and madness, when their fields washed over him, he nearly hesitated. Now, it was Niccolette’s field, light and vibrant and strange, that caught him off guard. But he didn’t stop.

By the time he reached the galdor’s side, he’d already fallen to his knees, and Niccolette’d screamed. He caught Uzoji from behind, trying to lower him down more carefully. “Wo chet,” he husked, staggering, “wo chet. Fuckin’ hell, Uzoji.” Up close, he could see the blood starting to soak through the front of his sweater like a dark flower. Funny how small he felt, after all that, even though his field still hung strong around him.

Surreal, all this, with the redhead golly’s laughter fluttering around them. Crouched beside Uzoji, Tom looked up at Niccolette.

“We got Breda alive, but the other Anaxi’ll be gettin’ away. What d’you need right now? We need to get him to a healer – godsdamn,” he swore, looking back down at Uzoji.
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