The World Ender (return)
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Absinthe she/her
Almost Sparkles
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#1

"We're.. we're almost.. there.." a rasp escapes, unfamiliar enough it startled herself. Shredded black ears lay back against a cream hooded head, one that had fresh new scars to tell stories where words fell short.

The bundle before her, wrapped with care and stained in blood, seemed to make noise- it whispered, it hummed, it called to the envy-eyed masochist who uttered a harsh 'shh' before turning to her companions. They heard it, too, didn't they? Absinthe didn't look at them for validation, there was no shimmer of hope, just a look of complete exhaustion.

"I hope they're happy to see you," she licks over her jaws, tasting blood- mine? theirs?- her head shakes away the bats and clears her belfry. "I hope they forgive you," she smiles. Absinthe found herself smiling more these last few days, if only to offer some hopeless form of comfort to Gaius and their shrouded guest.

It was a relief to know the Warrior could see her Ghost as well, that perhaps she wasn't just crazy, that some things in this world were still real. That the nights before- a red sky and the missing moon- guided not just her way home, but her thoughts to a darker, neglected region of her lost mind.

Absinthe took one last look at her savior and the weary traveler, picked up the bundle before her, and carried on. The stop was unnecessary. It was nerves sinking in like thorns and vines like guilt holding her back. It was the caves of Saboro and her mother's ragged, rotten breath that kept her going forward. Reminders.

Dreams come true.

There was no going back, no waking up. This is real. This is all real.

---

They arrive at an impasse. A literal impasse.

The wall, a monument meant to keep out, gives way to rampant anxiety and fear. The package drops, it rolls forward, stopped by a filthy paw and dragged back like a precious treasure. "They've.. they're.. what.." the panic is apparent in the face of a girl with slashed scars across her face. There is real fear in those eyes again, but there are no jaws around her throat this time.

"Gaius, how do we.. do we keep.." but she can't keep depending on him, hoping he can lead her now that she's found her way. No, Absinthe takes things into her own shaking hands, snatches the package and begins to run along the once-crumbled wall of her unfamiliar kingdom.

They should follow, shouldn't they? Are they? She doesn't look behind her, she just keeps going, and going, and going.. until finally there is a break, there is an opening, but something stops her from going through.

She is a stranger to these lands- Absinthe had barely made herself known, and what little interaction she had was unpleasant. Who on earth would let her through? Whoever manned the this wall- her last obstacle- was in for a wild ride, because she drops her prize and throws back her head.

A howl comes, haunting as expected from the withered, crestfallen girl. Whoever comes to answer her knocking would be received gruffly with a snort. She remembered vaguely who she was on the other side of this wall.

"I need to speak with the King and.. if possible.. the Queen, if she's.." Absinthe swallows her fear and bares fangs, "If she's with us still.” When Gaius appeared, if the cloaked traveler followed, she would clear her throat once more and hold her head high in confidence she'd lost many moons ago. "Tell them Gaius and.. Absinthe.. have returned, and that we have a guest," her eyes fall to the bundle between her legs and she bristles.

"and I have..-" A GIFT, ABSINTHE? IT'S ONLY A GIFT TO YOU, YOU FOOL- "I have.." A TROPHY? NO ONE BUT YOU WOULD POLISH IT- "Just send someone to get them," her tone stern. She no longer felt like a scared, pitiful little girl. Even the borders of Gemini ignited something she thought was reduced to ash.
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Absinthe she/her
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#2

[size=undefined]GAIUS Ω  ,,[/size]
The faded red sky was their beacon home, and boy, was he happy to be.

Home? Perhaps he'd finally have a definition for the word.

Limbs were aching and his face stung, but none of it compared to the emotional turmoil in his chest. Of course, despite the two companions (at least one was— he hadn't figured out a word for the other) he didn't let on that anything was ever wrong to begin with. Had this whole expedition been wrong? Gaius felt his word spun on it's head; a moment in time that felt like justice and perfection eventually sizzled into a thick, ooze of confusion and betrayal. His? No, he didn't start it this time. He never started it. Foolish, foolish, foolish—

The same fool who danced around death like it was the beginning of a spectacular party— But that depended on your definition of party.

Glazed over eyes of exhaustion barely managed to exceed anything beyond a shift in pupil size and the twitching of crusted eyebrows, even at the raspy voice of the Golden girl herself. In a twisted, defying karmic fortune, he could still see out of both eyes. The fear of that blessing fading didn't leave his mind, but at least the sweet smell of familiarity gave him hope that things would only be for the better now.

It wasn't a dream— Gaius was still fighting with his lucid eating demons on whether or not this was a good thing or not.

---

The hollowed form of a mechanic, shifting movement came to a slow halt beside the smaller woman as the lingering shadow beast trailed not far off. His head turned and he swore he heard the synonymous breaking in his own neck as the deep-set pops sang a sickening song in his ear. How long had they been walking? With a raspy exhale the brute planted his rear upon the earth, hazy eyes scanned across the anxious face of Absinthe.

"They've.. they're.. what.. Gaius, how do we.. do we keep.."

"Don't panic." He clipped, although his voice was caked in it's own on-set concerns. What was normally thickly laced in aggression or even snark, it was rather dry and monotonous in it's weight. "You wanted this." He nearly sighed. Was it sadness? No, likely not that. But he was tired. Tired and bloody and feeling a part of him that had been left behind in a place he'd never return. A slow blink followed as her anxiety moulded into courage as she made her way toward the wall, alone, at first.

Gaius stared into the darkness of himself for the briefest of moments before he was brought to his feet again, moving, moving, ever so much more. His ears flicked, keeping a shred of his conscious on the other who continued to linger. He didn't care right now, so far the figure was no threat, but they were Absinthe's responsibility.

All of this was Absinthe's responsibility.

No— you fool. You wanted this too.

His mere five inches over her sizeable frame felt like a mountain all of a sudden; a rusted, fallen solider who was seen clad in the finest and brightest armour. A protector, a saviour, a knight even— but he was none of those things. Not even to whatever fantasized and changed outlook Absinthe had for him now, he was nothing but a used body and a broken purpose. It was so simple and yet so complicated all wrapped in a single package.

He wasn't far off from the present at Absinthe's feet— but when was he ever? Perhaps that's why his eyes dropped to view it and bile rose in his throat instead of laughter.

He let Absinthe speak for he had no voice to use. This was her mission, her destiny, he was simply a bystander with collateral damage. A living witness who would bore the scars of this day just like her. Except—

Maybe he did have a voice, however small it was. "The Queen—" He rasped. Out of everyone he needed to see, it was her. "You must bring her." Not a request, but a demand, to whoever came to see them first. He would look haggard and unattractive when the King and Queen arrived. They could pity him, they could honour him, they could banish him. But whatever they decided, one thing was definite—

These scars and this trophy; it tied them together in a tight, red string that had weaved between the chaos of it all.
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Absinthe she/her
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#3

(SERRATE)


Curved, uneven stone meets them. Border guards atop the wall scramble and bark and in all of it the din sounds like nothing at all, not a damn thing. Fresh flowers stuffed in barren sockets look on and the smiling grins of killers say nothing to greet these weary travelers. Oh, they’ve come a long way. They’ve a long way yet to go. Oh, no. You say the path is not that much longer. Look harder, and you’ll see—where the stones end an unbroken trail carries on. They came together, but this final leg of the journey they must travel alone. All faced it in their life. The path towards redemption. Peace. Acceptance.

(There are darker routes. Sometimes it’s more comfortable to lie with our sins.)

”If you find her,” she whispered against stony, unyielding cliffs above the sea. Wolves along the wall bristle as they look down into depths unknown. The eyes that do not see know. Hackles bristle and the whisper carries. The Queen. The Queen. The Queen. Their song joins the wavering, tired thread this lost daughter of Gemini began when she arrived on this far, unfamiliar shore. They strengthen it. It carries.

”You come to me first.”

She lifts her head. Things have changed in their absence. Things have stayed the same. Their great wall so freshly christened stands stark. Her daughter plans a party. She rises. “Echo,” she calls him to her. He knew, too. This song was intimate to them both. She says nothing more and starts, slowly, for the ring that kept them safe. They’d been imaginary, once. Imaginary things bite just as hard as things that are real. She’s learned. She’s changed. Demons in the shadows bit just as hard as wolves, but there was security in thick stone walls.

It’s so soon. It’s been so long. She paves a funeral march with heart unbearably HEAVY for being so EMPTY. She speaks not at all, the North Star that swims in her eye leading her to the crack, the breach, the light flooding from the sundering. She follows motes dancing, flickering lights that lead her through. She emerges from stone with cold weight in her chest and a hot sticky mess for a mouth. What will she find. What will she find. What does she want to find?

They wait for her. The daughter. The paramour. The thing that no longer has a name.

Their faces were neither rosy nor grim, but cleaved and torn to be the other’s match. Funny, that even here, even now, everything in Gemini came in at least two—she had, once. But her other half stole away in the dead of night and now when it was stolen back (thieves, every single ONE OF THEM) she finds it doesn’t fit. It couldn’t.

IT NEVER HAD.

Its jaws are parted where it lay. Teeth that once shone grew dull around a swollen tongue. A bulging eye met hers and she held it, transfixed in the moment not by heroes, rogues, or thieves, but by this ghoul come to haunt her time and time again. The monster at her heels that would catch her should she stop to breathe for a single aching beat of her tortured heart. Her. HER. No. This thing was not the counterpoint, not any more, not ever again.

Unburdened by her opposing force—its clouding eyes that have feasted flies stare at her—she threatens to spin wildly off course. Saliva pools on her tongue, sick and vile like the only meal she’s had all winter come up again in the snow. This is it. This is what justice looked like.

It looked terrible. She doesn’t want Akira to see.

She swallows the weight of her history. She shoulders the burden and lifts her eyes from volumes of a time gone by and prepares to welcome judge, jury and executioner home. Her mouth parts and the flaw in her eye draws her once more to true north—a lonely figure cloaked in the skin of the empty sockets. The snaketail, teeth still barred, a wolf worn by a sheep—but no. The wind changes. It carries to her things. Things she doesn’t want. The weight of her history cannot be swallowed. It slams into her and it pins her against the wall. We can't escape home no matter how many places we lay our heads. It follows. It always follows. It clings like the skins of the dead.

You,” she whispers. Here they were, happy family together again. No. They'd never been that, had they?

She throws her head back, the sound bursting from her unbidden, the things she tried to hide and hold in her cavernous chest. They came out now, a force carrying on the wind. Not the name monsters in the night crave to be given but a call to arms against fiends that lurked in the dark, NAMELESS. To me! To me! For the Queen! For Gemini! Vanguards! Queensguard! Avery! Akki!

The world tries to end. Where the stories are old and the earth is older. The world tries to end, here in the hollow spaces left behind, but Gemini must rise up and say, No. There are too many dead, too many buried between ancient roots. Strangers from beyond would not come for their throats again. Not today.
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Absinthe she/her
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#4

(AZUHEL......... OR IS IT) (hint: its still a figure cloaked in black, good luck nerds)


There was an oddity in the space. Him, he suspected, him as not-Gaius, but it was maybe more than just that. It was the uncertain weight of the atmosphere, the idle hint of pain swaddled mystery and a sense of discomfort. This was not home, this was not any place he’d ever been before, and yet…. What was it that felt so familiar? Was it his company or the weight of the furs that kept him hidden and stinky, covered in the musk of the dead that mingled so well with the overall muck and mud that coated his pelt and made him a barely coherent blur of colors and misdirected features? He had not expected—well indeed, it should not have been possible—to be recognized anywhere but maybe…

Well, he was not perfect, and his focus had mostly been upon Mr. Z and Ms. H and all those little friends he’d brought bound around his neck. Yes, even now, as no-longer-Absinthe and the true-Gaius walked at his side, discussing things that seemed fuzzy in his ears, he was looking for… other things.

Flowers, mostly.

But also the morphing shape of wolves, should they come across them. Or bears. Or any other beast that could bring them danger. Because… because… he had promised to assist and he intended to do that while he searched and searched and searched for what he’d lost.

It was more than just a name.

Still, even as they moved and no-longer-Absinthe tried to soothe him he only shook his head. His throat was tight, so many words wanting to escape at the same time—

I’m sorry.

I do love you, I think. Surely, I can try to love you.

If they, those friends, bring death, please… please… please tell the others I love them too. That I think I know what it is now, a portion of it

But none of those things come from him. Instead, he’d give a off-smile, something half apprehension, half slick teeth, and press forward. His belly still churned with the whirlwind of his madness, but he hoped for knowledge, for enlighten… to awaken and toss off the shackles that bound him, cursed him to redness and somehow, somehow, become more than legends and shadows.

But it isn’t until they arrive, and he stands, somewhat beside no-longer-Absinthe, that he realizes he may have walked into some sort of unusual happenstance. A trap. A strange oddity. Maybe it was caused by the thing between no-longer-Absinthe legs. Maybe it was caused by… him?

That should have been impossible, but perhaps not improbable. Still, despite the call, despite the extremely painfully familiar figure standing there, he feels…

He can’t describe it.

Numb?

His fear has fled him, but his loathing, his rage, his paranoia… those are sleeping too. It leaves behind startling clarity instead. That, once upon a time he’d been given an offer. He wondered if Serrate would allow him to take it. Or, if the world was truly mad and those who had slain more blood than himself would be allowed the benefits he had never managed, even in his youth.

Once a suffering slave with a dash of hatred-filled cunning to a prosperous king who had done so little, in terms of mayhem, and yet was blamed for so much.

He’d always be that slave, just to different concepts.
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Absinthe she/her
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#5

(IRON)

He'd been withdrawing again - it was a habit of his, when he got overwhelmed by the demands of society. It was so hard, so draining to keep up with everyone's personal lives. Wolves kept coming and going from places he'd never heard of, stories were beginning and ending all around him, but he could scarcely appreciate any of it. It was all too loud and too fast, and he wished everyone would just sit down for a while and think about their actions. He knew by now that that was a lot to ask. But still, he had a job (even though he'd failed at it before) and so when he was called, he hurried off to the source. He thought he could detect a sense of desperation in the summons, though he'd never been great at discerning delicate emotions, and so he bounded at full speed toward his Queen, the one he had let down so many times before.

Iron ran alongside the newly constructed wall until he reached the opening where the impromptu gathering was taking place (what was the point of a wall if there was a gap in it? Who planned this?) He slowed to an amble as he arrived upon the scene and came to a stop by Serrate's left shoulder. He didn't say anything, seeing no need for greetings when his presence clearly spoke for itself. Iron thought he had already witnessed some of the strangest things that Gemini had to offer, but as he surveyed the company he currently found himself in, he realized he'd been wrong.

He stood amongst his Queen, Gaius (who he recognized from his eventful acceptance), and some other wolves he didn't know. One of them smelled like death and was wearing the skin of another beast on their back. And one of them was a severed head. He vaguely recognized it, but was more confused than surprised - was this a threat or a peace offering? Well, he thought, at least there are no children here. Yet. He didn't think this would be a very wholesome experience for the several thousand youngsters of Gemini.

Iron blew out a long breath, half sigh and half snort, unable to hide his exasperation for the first time. Maybe he was becoming more like them after all - soon he'd be shouting out pointless declarations of emotion. Or something. He had a lot of questions about what was going on here (Who are you? What do you want? What's with the head?) but he knew better than to ask any of them, both because it was not his place and because he wasn't sure he really wanted any of the answers. "Just tell me what you need," he grumbled to Serrate, the Merciful one, the one he truly owed his livelihood to. He would have killed any of these strangers for her without hesitation, he would hide the head away where she didn't have to look at it anymore - all she had to do was ask.
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Absinthe she/her
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#6

(daddy ECHO)

He had met many others in her absence, but none of them were her. He didn't know why she stayed in his thoughts, or why even on small conversations he'd bring her up, but he found himself doing it over an over again. Yet, he could not find her. He had mistakenly thought she was another at some point, and at about that time he thought it was time to give up, and so he had tried to move on, but- something told kept holding him back. He couldn't place his gosh darn finger on it. It frustrated him that he was so invested in someone he barely knew, they didn't even get along. Form the first time they met, it was harsh words and awkward interaction.

And yet- there was something. What? He had no fucking idea- but something.

So in his time, the time he had spent thinking of her- he trailed the Queen instead, doing his "duty" as he was so inclined to do. Things have indeed changed since she'd left. A wall. Fleeing children. Other mildly entertaining things. He'd kept close to Serrate, and in doing so was close when she'd called him. Silently he joined at her side, and silently they walked, more of a death march to wherever it was Serrate lead- He follwed. Silent, but questioning in his eyes longing to know why he was summoned now.

But it was all made clear when they came into sight.

His heart skipped a beat, maybe two at the sight of those that stood on the border. But shortly after the skipping of beats, it faltered, stumbled and fell. Heart suddenly scathed by road rash, as it was dragged along the ground at the sight of a scarred face, and an agape head staring back at him. He recognized her, Absinthe, his Huckleberry- but only just. Something had changed, he could not pinpoint what but- perhaps his berry had fermented into something bitter- something not sought after by many. But god- he loved the buzz it gave. Eyes drifted slowly to the thing laid on the ground, familiar, but not enough so to usurp the feeling of HER return. However, the thing standing near her- the thing draped in others skins- that thing was a problem.

When the Queen called for others- more vanguard- more protection, it was time to usurp those feelings of her return, and protect the kingdom from whatever- THAT thing was.

Whatever had to wear the skin of others could not be a positive thing for Gemini.
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Absinthe she/her
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#7

from Serrate\s account on the old forum Wrote:Serrate is directly calling - AKKI, AVERY, ECHO, IRON and any Vanguards that might hear. Others may respond as well if they so choose.

She is not calling them to FIGHT, but is instead sending up a warning. CAUTION! DEFEND! That sort of thing!!!))

I'll be replying with Absinthe once Akki and Avery have posted~!
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Akki He
There was snow. White snow.
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#8
(This post was last modified: October 03, 2017, 07:31:07 PM by Witch..)

Names can be stolen. Did you know that?

Akki felt creeping tongues lashing his on three occasions. The first thief was a blizzard, his replacement mother. She failed to take his name but made off with his brother's, who would come in jealous dreams and whisper: I'm cold.

The second was a dark ravine in a dark jungle, as mesmerizing as it was yawning. It cooed to a lonely child. It hummed sweet songs from the deep black. He turned away, but only just.

The third were the jaws of his birth father. His teeth formed the cave a child sat in. His teeth snapped wolf flesh and the voice around the gore promised training. His teeth, poised and salivating, while the ravaged corpse of a predecessor washed away in a river. His teeth, clacking, with a burning tree between them.

These three would come, again and again, never stopping, never forgetting, never any less hungry. No matter what they say. No matter insistent they are that they love you while tearing your name apart letter by bloody letter. They hurt. Then they whisper. Then they make off with everything you have, everything you are, and everything you could have been. They say you should be grateful for it.

(Is it really only three?)
(Let's not think about that right now.)

Despite them, or, perhaps in spite of them, Akki still had his name, and he survived, and that counted for something. Often, you only came out with one or the other. When he heard Serrate calling him, he rose from the coil of long limbs and tail and obliged her. When he heard Serrate calling him, it was with the reaffirmation that he was still someone, and sometimes that's enough to get you through the day.

He saw the small gathering and slowed to a lope. The wind carried old blood and rotting flesh. Fly larva, punctured egg sacs, the buzz of hungry adults while they ate something's name. He came beside the Queen and cast his eyes from Absinthe to Gaius to the thing draped in traitor's skin. His muzzle began to wrinkle at the last one until he saw it from the corner of his eye. He glanced at it and— ears pinned back, pupils pinpricks, the smooth face contorted just slightly, so slightly, cracking a careful facade like stones against glass— stared into oblivion.

Suddenly, he was in a jungle. He was greener. He had someone's blood on him. It was stark red against white and it was splattering as he ran because The Thing in his jaws bobbed. Cooling grease congealed thick on his tongue. Gritty hairs stuck between his teeth. Sightless eyes had rolled back into the sunken sockets, limp tongue grown stiff out the side of the gaping mouth. They had seen. They had seen the gate and beyond it. Into the Below.

Vomit, he could taste vomit, stale and ancient, and the churned grave soil he dug for the she-wolf he helped kill. He didn't know her name. He helped take her name. He said she was Nobody and insisted on burying the pieces of her that weren't devoured by his father. There was only one.

I'm not Nobody. I'm not Nobody. You can't have it. I'm not Nobody.

The bulging gelatin cradled in a hole squirmed and he didn't know if he was imagining it or not. The crocodile hiss, the silent blanket of snow across tiny bodies, the field of red soaked purple flowers.

When he spoke, it was quiet, and it was composed, though his heart raced like it had while teetering on the last ledge of topside. He wanted to ask, what have you done?

Instead, because he did not know, and would not realize the irony of this one's final legacy,

"Whose head is that?"

Nobody.



[Image: 413729_3DnABUmwRTQCNTL.png?1450923785]
All this bad blood here
Won’t you let it dry?
It’s been cold for years
Won’t you let it lie?
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Avery! she/her
burn baby burn
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#9
(This post was last modified: October 04, 2017, 01:31:36 AM by Avery!.)

Hawthorne had said once to Serrate that Avery did not like being alone with herself. He was right.

Always wandering, always restless, always itchy and smothered whenever forced to stay in one place for too long. To retire to her den at this hour would be to tempt out from her head what should not see the light of day, all four walls closing and painted like a garish mural with all the parts of her story that nobody, least of all her, wanted to read. To sleep was to fluff out a welcome mat for old demons. I hear the storm, if it gets too quiet. She smelled the poppies, tasted the volcanic ash, saw what was or used to be herself (are you sure that the only you is you?) withering from injection in the great no-man's land, home alike to society's rejects and those who have rejected society.

Or maybe that was where you went when you were in transition, with unfinished business to handle. Right, Absinthe?

The firebird arrived on scene. Already there was the sense of being overwhelmed, and her eyes roved to whites in her stress, not so much taking in the little situation as forcing it in, impatient and cagey, It was always something, wasn't it? Not so much with Gemini, but with the world (oh, and it hath been ended, for someone here) in general, always making such a fucking racket, never letting any of them just get some real rest. Avery snorted softly at herself, listening with one cocked ear to unflappable Iron and unsettling Akki. Maybe it was her age catching up to her. Maybe she was going to end up one of those cranky old bitches who yelled at clouds and kept telling the same stories over and --

The queen's niece was holding a severed head.

Oh, thought Avery dumbly, in the same mental tone of voice she'd had when she'd walked into Kariya's nook of the healing tree and found nothing but the certainty that he'd gone off to die somewhere. She was not horrified, too jaded for that, too desensitized to the brutal things wolves do to each other, but she could not look away. Pests had been at the flesh, which sagged slightly in early-stage decomposition, but this could not grant her the mercy of failing to recognizing that face, its mouth slack, its furious eyes glazed over. Akki asked whose body it had been chewed from. That was when she knew without doubt, and again Avery thought, oh.

"Derringer," she named the remains, her voice throaty and sticky. I never liked you. But I never wanted to kill you. What were you really, if this is your justice?

She glanced away, not to Mysterious Stranger, but to the empty pelt on their back and into the holes in its face that one had been eyes. What the fuck, friends and neighbors. Said snakeskin only went on grinning its dead and frozen grin, as though even now finding this all just so funny.

"Why are you wearing that cunt's pelt," deadpanned Avery, blinking herself out some split-second trance, more stunned than angry at this point. The fascination so many wolves had with wearing bits of leftover garbage from some dead body was baffling to her. She indicated Mysterious Stranger with a rough flick of her snout. "And who are you? Some friend of theirs?"

Let's hope.


My fire is wild
My rage is deep
One black eye
Busted teeth
[Image: averyhayley_by_shakrashi-d8vrtao.png]
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#10


[Image: gyrxmas2_by_arkyls-dasj27k.png]


Green eyes focus on the disembodied gift between her torn up legs. One eye is clouded, and she smiles at the thought of being cursed for her judgment. Maybe Karma had a way of working itself out in the end.

After all, her mother's head lay justly between vine scarred legs, mouth agape to those who arrived, matted with blood and teaming with bugs that had begun to eat away at rotting flesh. But that's not what Absinthe saw. She saw the monster, clear as day, head detached but still able to bite, and oh, it did.

'I HOPE YOU BURN!' the words of a fallen matriarch, who lay somewhere on the outskirts of their home, somewhere In Between, with no gentleness for the beheading and no kindness for the body left behind. Absinthe hopes it was devoured by scavengers, or sniffed and left to rot. Either left a pretty picture in her mind, either left a crooked smile on her face.

One paw reaches out to shut the mouth, straining now to crush the jaws beneath her as she stood, she can still hear her mother's voice, but it is muffled enough for her to hear the arrival of her Queen, the howl, and the worded pointing of a finger at her other companion. Not the Knight, but the Knave, the figure cloaked just so that anyone could see it wasn't the real intruder, but a new one. 'You- Serrate is not pleased, and Absinthe begins to feel panic in her veins.

The skull is knocked closer to the new arrivals, closest most to Serrate, who Absinthe glowered at. Serrate, who she stands before and in front of the masked figure. "No," she pleads, but her throat hurts again. "It's not him, I promise, I promise, it's not him," and she isn't Absinthe, not anymore. "It isn't who you think it is," she sees them all now, lining up and staring.

"You can have her, you can have her all you want, but please, he's different. He's not the same, we've changed, we've all changed." she feels so tired, and her eyes find Echo in the crowd, the greens of her eyes flicker with light before realizing where he stood. Against her. With Serrate. Suddenly, she looks confused.

Why were they all staring, gawking, standing defensively against herself, Gaius, and the figure?

'I knew you were stupid,' she hears the voice and focuses on the head, now lop-sided with mouth agape and eyes rattled back, but she felt them staring daggers into her. 'How have you survived this long?'

"Shut up," her head shakes, jarring her thoughts and rattling her brain. "SHUT UP!" she growls and snorts, bared teeth at the unmoving skull. Poor Akki, who spoke and asked who it was, and poor Avery, who responded- would they assume she spoke to them? Snarled at them?

"She's not important anymore, she's not here, she can't hurt anyone again," but it sounded more as if she spoke to herself and less to them. "He is carrying them for me. He's holding them, he said he would help me, he's helping me. He's more than a friend," but she would not elaborate, she would not explain to the strangely familiar figures who he was. They all knew, didn't they? All they had to do was look.

"I'm tired," she begins to feel it all over. Her throat hurts from the wounds that had gone untreated, her eye begins to sting. How long had they gone without stopping to get here? "Can we please come home?"


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Gaius He/Him
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#11
(This post was last modified: October 04, 2017, 11:00:15 PM by Gaius.)

Sudden anxiety rose in his chest.

He could see her coming from a distance. The tables turned rather rapidly, a brutish, arrogant, tormented thing of a man who once screamed in the face of the Queen suddenly felt an innate urge to crumble in her presence. Never, ever, did he feel such a force come from the owner of the head between his scorn companion’s feet. The pressure grew into a form of clenching teeth, ruby red eyes locked on that of the Queen before him, tensely rigid in his posture as he swallowing the concern in his throat for what she had to say. Gaius… never fully understood her relationship with Derringer, and he said he’d find her, but was finding her, killing her, and returning her head quite what Serrate had in mind?

It certainly wasn’t what he had in mind.

But as quickly as the tension rose as her powerful eyes (when did she become so fierce? Has Gaius picked the wrong one this whole time? Stupid, foolish, blind!—) flickered between Absinthe, himself, then to their cloaked stranger; it dissipated. No, it wasn’t gone, but simply shifted. Gaius had not paid much mind to Absinthe’s rotted-pelt smelling, hidden companion. He trusted her enough to not bring a threat to their home, for there had been far too many of those lingering around the borders. His own scarred, half open eyes turned completely away from the spectacle of the head’s reactions to the lingering shadow, in which he just barely heard the muttered, wispy voice of danger from the maw of the Queen. Shortly following, a howl.

Clenching his jaw tighter (god, his head hurt—) he shifted himself to pivot completely toward the stranger. He could see distress in Absinthe’s eyes, but he couldn’t place who was bad here and who was good— was there even a side? He felt unwillingly compelled to the Queen’s, but then where did that leave Absinthe? Certainly not on the opposing side; this was a good job, was it not? Maybe it wasn't. They could get incarcerated for being reckless and emotionally charged, ruthless and traitorous, they could be, they could be—! He stared down the pale girl with his own swing of intensity, looking a bit jarred to the concept that he’d been traveling with a potential threat to Gemini. What is the truth, Absinthe? What was the truth of anything!?

The horses came and stood beside the Queen, green, red, white—

Stepping forward, Gaius unlocked his frame to move closer to Absinthe, his chosen side was still unclear but he was feeling the ominous concern over the very much alive figure in the back rather than the decapitated ex-Queen in the forefront. Absinthe’s out lash at the skull caused him to growl, it’s tone was confused. Aggressive? Concerned? Scared? Who knows, the forlorn warrior has experiencing a slew of emotions he’d never been taught to handle.Calm down, before you make this worse.” A low grunt, intended for her ears only as a calm warning as he searched to match bloodied, crusted scarred eyes. Lime to ruby— whatever the situation they needed to stay calm, they don't know the weight of what they'd done.

He didn’t stop moving, instead he place himself between the cloaked figure and Absinthe, whether or not she’d realize it during her moment exhausted insanity. She was tired, he was too, but he could feel the hot red light on their presence as the main antagonists in a story or the revealed villains in a play. Gaius had moved his pawn across the table, whether or not useful, but it had been something. He would flash a glance to Serrate, keying a signal, although he had no reason to believe she’d command anything more from him with her protectors heeled, he wouldn’t blame her.

Wild stallions were only useful when broken.








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#12

Her alarm bounded over the rollicking hills of Gemini, and so did the cavalry that arrived in response. There is security in cold stone walls, that is true. It was also true that there was strength in numbers. With stone at her back and warm teeth at her side, she knew that the pack would survive what apocalypse came for them now in the form of the smiling dead. There would be no more lonely deaths, fatherless daughters who cried as they gasped their last rattling breath, not here—had Derringer cried, knowing that it was the end for her? No, she’s not Derringer anymore. She was a thing—a thing with no more blood to give as teeth cut through a swollen tongue.

She feels the thing that connects them pulled taut. It snaps, and her comet spirals into the abyss, cold without its tail. She takes a deep breath. She holds it. She sorts out the ringing in her head and she remembers, which startling clarity, what ice feels like. It was cold, alone in the heavens. But she’s known that for a long time now, hasn’t she? She is surrounded by her vanguard, by the very ones she called, and she is cold. Derringer’s head stares into the abyss, the snaketail’s empty eyes laugh, and again, she is so, so, so grateful that her DAUGHTER is NOT HERE TO SEE THIS.

There is a glimmer behind those empty eyes. She meets them and she says not a word as a silent war is fought. Sides have been chosen. Did they see the irony in that? There had always been two sides, a pack within the pack, but that was an old idea and ideas can lose their heads too, did you know that? The lost daughter rants and her chosen vanguard bristle, and as the battle rages she has eyes only for the wolf gripped by the dead. Ocean and sky can turn dark so quickly, and they threaten to—but there is no army on the horizon waiting to storm the wall and carve what was taken from them from Gemini’s heart. The war is only in their heads.

Her lip curls, but only for a moment. She knows who he is. Of course she knows. But she settles and she turns her eyes away. This was not surrender, but an armistice. She would not go back. He had to know that. The daughter is stamping her feet and shaking her head. She steps forward and separates herself from the line. “Absinthe,” she calls, softly, softly. These are not the tightened vines or unforgiving teeth—those are dead. But, she knows the road is long. The stones are cold. Sometime, they’re sharp. She can forgive her niece for hanging on to what was in the face of what is.

I am not your enemy.

You’re right,” she murmurs, knowing that Absinthe would know it wasn’t true, “She can’t hurt anyone again.” But she could. Derringer’s memory would live on in the waking world because even as what she once was rotted and turned to dust, her name had a life of its own. Serrate would remember. Absinthe would remember, too. “You’ve had a long journey,” she continues, glancing from the pacing girl to the paramour that protected her on the road. To the one that wore the skins. “Report to the healing tree and have your wounds tended to. Gaius, you too.” To call that a suggestion would have been kinder than it deserved—but even as an order, she meant it kindly. They were tired. They were hurt. All they wanted was to come home. She wouldn’t deny them that.

Still, her spine remained stiff. Her eyes drop momentarily to the broken tether coiling near her feet. She inhales deeply and regrets the scent of rot that cloys her nostrils and settles between her eyes. It is old, like so many things. She feels older, as well. Slowly, she looks up. With the strength of Gemini behind her, she looks Absinthe’s shadow and his grinning burden in the shadows that remained of his face. She exhales what’s left of Derringer, knowing that in the wake of her passing, she should ensure the daughter some REST—

He will stay out here,” she starts, cold reaching its tingling fingers into her toes. If this is what heroes, rogues, and thieves wanted at the end of their journey, who was she to deny them? The queen. Still, this was no reward, though perhaps it was better if Absinthe thought of it as one. Reward and responsibility sounded similar enough, didn’t they? “Iron, Echo, I require you to tend to our guest while he is here.” Beyond the wall, where he posed less of a threat. In the hollows where Kol Nidre and his family had rested—but she would not be the one that gave his name away. “…Gaius, when you have had time to rest, our guest will require your attention as well.

She stood aside, leaving a gap in the vanguard that led to the sweet grass beyond. She looked to her niece and said, softly, “The healers will be waiting for you. The sooner you get there, the better. They will help you sleep.

Welcome home.


[Image: serrate_amalthea.png] [Image: Fipo7LC.gif] #CD5C5C [Image: Fipo7LC.gif]
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Domino motion,
Jump starts when we touch.
A blackout approaching,
Here it comes now, wish me luck.
It's all over, it's all over, it's all over in a flash.
I can't remember what have I done now?
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