Morpheus Sabinis (WIP)
|Fiction Novel excerpts, short stories, etc.
Morpheus Sabinis (WIP)
02-06-2007, 12:31 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Morpheus Sabinis (WIP)
A/N: If you aren't familiar with the World of Darkness roleplaying system or Changeling the Dreaming, you are going to be somewhat lost. If you're interested, there's a partial lexicon here. Sidhe is pronounced 'shee'. Sluagh is pronounced 'sloo-ah'.
Obligatory Disclaimer: Changeling the Dreaming and related terms belong to White Wolf Game Studios. Char and Cius belong to Tobie, I'm just borrowing them. Elspeth is mine.
Mor•phe•us Sa•binis - Kithain Law 1. The crime of Morpheus Sabinis
Elspeth’s wings ached from prolonged immobility. She didn’t dare move.
Cius was in one of his rare, good moods.
He'd been considerate enough to lick the blood from the wounds he'd inflicted on her last night. Stitched up the deeper cuts. Let her shower alone for once.
Right now, he was combing her hair with his claws and humming a wordless lullaby.
Elspeth's hair was still damp; steam rising from her skin.
She was sitting backwards in a chair, in order to accommodate her wings and give Cius access to her. Having her legs splayed out like that also made Elspeth uncomfortable; which was why he had 'suggested' it.
For the moment, Elspeth merely accepted the lack of pain.
Moisture evaporated from her skin. Her hair shone like silk beneath the hard, shadowless light of the room. Unbound, it fell past her waist; red-black streaked with crimson, vermillion and flame. It gave Cius an excuse to run his hands down her back. Over fresh wounds, half-healed cuts, bruises and old scars. Most of them he'd inflicted himself.
Elspeth had grown used to these sadistic games. She closed her eyes and endured it until he turned his attention to her hair again.
Elspeth gnawed on her lip; thought for a few minutes and took a calculated risk.
Elspeth said something inaudible.
Cius's wolf ears swiveled forward.
"What was that?" he inquired.
Elspeth shuddered involuntarily. Cius was at his most dangerous when he used his reasonable tone of voice. Everything faded, except his hands on her hair, and the feeling of his claws prickling her skin.
"I would like to see Char," she repeated thinly.
The grooming stopped.
I've pushed him too far. If he finishes… she thought desperately, if he finishes braiding my hair, I'll be fine.
Elspeth tensed, expecting a blow. Expecting claws sunk into her flesh. Cius caught hold of her wings instead; folding them against her back, whispering arcane words.
His breath tickled her ear.
"You know my price," Cius muttered in guttural snarl.
Elspeth nodded wearily. She rose, tottered a few uncertain steps towards his – their – bed.
A feral chuckle behind her. Elspeth was lifted abruptly, pinned against Cius's chest, feet dangling.
"Not yet, little bird. I have business with the Duke."
He inhaled her scent and nuzzled her hair. Elspeth's wings jerked uselessly in protest, bound inescapably with magic. Her struggling amused him.
"Eat something, girl," he advised. She felt him grin. "Try to escape again."
Cius's smile was cruel. There was nothing in the house to eat except fresh, immaculately-prepared food. She alternately sickened or starved in consuming it. Escape was likewise impossible. The entire house was warded against her.
Elspeth kept her head down, resisting the urge to fight. She needed to know if Char was still alive. Cius would deny her that just to cause her pain.
She was patted mockingly on her scarred, sunken cheek and set on her feet. He unraveled her braid; let it hang loose down her back. He gripped her chin, muscles and tendons creaking as he forced her to look up at him. Elspeth was kissed; or bitten, or both. Her mind drifted away.
She stood there afterwards, silent; wavering on her feet, tasting her own blood in her mouth, until the door closed.
Elspeth stayed upright by main force of will, keeping her balance until Cius was out of hearing range. Collapsing to her hands and knees, Elspeth crawled slowly and painfully towards the bed.
Curled up tightly in the farthest corner underneath it, Elspeth wept; salivating blood, shoulders shaking, limbs trembling uncontrollably.
She relaxed by inches and degrees, falling into an uneasy slumber; alert for the Wolf's near-silent footsteps.
Light violated her sanctuary.
Elspeth was awake instantly; scrambling away on abraded knees before her mind registered Cius's presence.
The knight watched her flee; grinning in amusement. Waiting for her to collapse from exhaustion, he picked her up, avoided her attempt to kick him… and carried her away.
Behind him, impenetrable darkness swirled into the room, drifting into the corners, leaving nothing behind.
In the confined space, the click of the lock had the finality of a gunshot.
Glamour burned in the air around them. They inhaled the magic like air as they stepped into the Dreaming.
Both moved silently down a hallucinatory, mist-shrouded passageway.
Lucius was the only source of light; eldritch fire streaming from his body. Elspeth limped after him, the floor giving way beneath her feet; compelled to keep his pace despite the beating he had given her.
She'd tried to shove him through a wall, then fled; shot the lock home and watched, terrified, as he stepped straight through the door as easily as if it were air.
So she stumbled after him now; her hair wrapped twice around his fist, pulled off bruised and battered feet by a sharp jerk. The colors in her hair shimmered and twisted; dripping off Cius's claws like blood, vanishing before they hit the floor.
Nameless things keened faintly at the furthest edge of Elspeth's hearing.
She didn't turn; knowing that nothing was there.
The geas - the oathbond - dragged at her; sunk like razors into her flesh, setting her nerves on fire. Pain blazed through hips and knees and feet; wrapped its strangling grip around her throat, slackening only when she resumed walking again.
They approached nothingness; Banality radiating from it. Cius loosed his grip on her hair.
"Open it," he muttered.
Cius pulled thin leather gloves from his pockets, pulled them on, and stood aside, watching silently, arms folded across his chest.
Elspeth looked down at herself, limbs trembling faintly. She studied the blank, shadowed space carefully for a moment; feeling for a handle.
Cold Iron ran; writhing around her hand and coiling halfway up her arm.
Elspeth pulled, trying to get free. The effort left her starvation-thinned muscles trembling uncontrollably, her sight broken by static. Colors flickered; razor-edged hallucinations wavering at the edges of her vision. Her empty stomach growled in protest.
The door creaked open, and they walked through, the floor breathing gently beneath them.
"Very good," Cius growled in approval, "You've earned your clothes."
Flicking a knife from his belt; he pinned her against something that might have been a wall with a rough hand, and shoved the blade through Elspeth's wing.
"Stay here, little bird."
He vanished into the shadows; the wraiths of the murdered dead trailing from him like smoke.
Cius spoke a guttural series of words in no human tongue.
Light flared around him, illuminating the darkness.
He carried a pile of clean, folded clothing.
Elspeth let go of the knife buried in her wing and held her hands out for them.
Cius smiled nastily; shook his head, and dressed her himself. White silk was draped across her shoulders. Cius ran his hand up the left side of her body, across dead nerves and numbed breast. He tucked the slits in the fabric around her wings; lacing up the panels beneath.
The Wolf stalked around her; buttoning up the front of her blouse, adjusting her skirts, arranging her clothing. He smoothed out the creases, hands lingering on her chest. Elspeth's body tensed and altered; muscle and bone twisting and warping, breasts retreating, hips flattening, body thinning out, skin literally crawling away from the violation.
She looked down at her clothes. All of it was thin enough to see through; all of it easily shredded by his claws. Her body shook; hatred and rage warring with overwhelming fear. Had it been only a matter of her own safety, she would've gladly tried to rip Cius's throat out with her bare hands.
Glamour tingled briefly against her skin. The Wolf's hand warped and twisted under its influence, fur and talons retreating. Char's clawless, fine-boned hand drifted across her shoulders, sliding across her skin. Elspeth reacted violently; slamming an elbow into his side, burnt and ruined eyes smoldering in defiance.
Cius merely chuckled at her anger. His chain mail had absorbed the force of the blow. All she had succeeded in doing was injuring herself. He moved behind her and started braiding her hair. Elspeth jerked free of him and unraveled it; combing the strands forward to hide the scars.
He ran his hand over her hair; tucking it behind a pointed ear.
The Wolf seized her again; hauling her off balance. She twisted away from him, stumbling sideways, the knife wrenched out of her wing.
Darkness invaded her body. Sank into her faltering heart. Threatened to extinguish the fire in her eyes.
Shrieking winds scythed across Elspeth's face. Breath congealed on her lips. Her blood began to freeze.
or Dream-Rape. Banned by the Escheat, and despised by both Courts, this crime violates two of its tenets: the Right of Ignorance and the Right to Dream.
Ice rimed her hair. Particles of glass, sand and trinitite scoured her unprotected skin.
Black, opalescent fire eddied upward in an eternal mushroom cloud an infinite distance ahead. Jagged lightning split open the reddened sky.
Elspeth realized she was looking downward.
And her foot slipped...
Cursing, Cius hauled her back to safety by her hair.
Glamour shimmering, he thrust her against the wall and placed his hands flat against her face.
Elspeth gasped convulsively, breathing again.
"Stay on the Silver Path!" Cius snarled at her.
He watched her narrowly for a few seconds before nodding towards the last of the barriers.
Elspeth's head snapped up; feeling the killing chill of Cold Iron in front of her.
"Char!?" she gasped.
She broke away from Cius; darted towards the Sidhe, then stopped, hovering just inside the shadows. He was lying very still in the middle of the room, unmoving.
Candlelight wavered. A voice sobbed gently into her ear.
Elspeth stared hard at Char's chest, not certain if he was still breathing.
She started forward… and Cius's hand slammed down on her shoulder, dragging her backwards. Elspeth wrenched impatiently at his grip; rage flaring. The geas pulled at her; twisting inside her bones and making them ache. Char seemed to stir feebly. Cius gripped her throat; talons pricking her skin. Elspeth snarled at him; bone and muscle warping grotesquely beneath his hands as she wrenched her throat from his grasp.
A dozen steps…
The geas strangled her, and she dropped, gasping at the pain.
Cius yanked her to her knees by her hair. He muttered a curse, cuffed her; and twisted her arm behind her back, just before the point of breaking.
Elspeth bent forward in an effort to relieve the pressure. She felt the Cantrip twist itself around her limbs, holding her immobile.
"He's dying! You're killing him!" she hissed at Cius in frustration, "I don't understand you! Why do you hate him? He's–"
Cius backhanded her without looking.
"Wake up," Cius growled at the Sidhe.
Char felt as if he were drowning.
Cold Iron was all around him, unraveling his faerie soul. Banality weighed him down. It chilled his bones; froze his skin. He wasn't afraid. Fiona never were. But he wasn't ready.
There was light above him. The voice was coming from there. The needle-thin, whispery voice calling him back from the far edge of Oblivion.
It seemed to stab into the center of his chest; tugging urgently at him.
Wake up! it said. Come back! Don't die yet.
Iron wrenched at him; but the voice refused to give up. It continued to whisper to him insistently, telling him that he was dying, telling him to fight back. The voice made a path for him; one that led into the light, back to life.
He followed without resistance as the last of the tethers holding him together began to dissolve.
Elspeth continued speaking; hoping that the knight would know that she was there, that somebody wanted him to live. Char's eyes flickered. He moved weakly; trying to rise, blank stare fixed on her.
"Elspeth?" he whispered; disembodied sighs echoing him mournfully.
"I'm here," she said quietly.
The pressure on her arm became agonizing, and then slacked off suddenly.
The Cantrip dissipated. Off balance, Elspeth fell down.
She levered herself upright immediately and scuttled like a spider towards Char; crimson hair flying, iridescent black feathers scattering around her like blood-tinged slips of charcoal.
More feathers dropped slowly away from her wings, even as she halted a scant foot away from the Iron she could feel, but not see.
The Sluagh's wasted, skeletal hand wavered in the air between them and she let it drop.
"Elspeth," Char closed his eyes, feeling the weakness pull at him.
They'd been captured. Araby's underlings had appeared from the far reaches of Elspeth's warehouse, and the air had coalesced into solidity and inflicted terrible wounds upon them. Both of them had then been imprisoned in a cage of phantasmagoric horrors and taken here.
The Sidhe opened his eyes; focusing on the lean and tattered figure before him. A wraithly pall of mist seemed to swirl around her body. Pointed ears poked sharply out of the long hair that shadowed her face and shrouded her palsied limbs, shockingly vivid against the whiteness. The silver flames burning in her sunken, hollow eyes flickered and dimmed, intermittently.
Elspeth's face looked like a disembodied skull. The vinegar-sharp scent of decaying blood and burnt flesh clung to her. He could visibly count every bone and muscle in her body.
The lingering chill of Cold Iron still clouded his thoughts. Elspeth had been this thin before. But she'd been wiry. She'd had muscle.
Now her limbs shook; and she moved as if she were in pain.
Bruises darkened her face and throat. Feathers lay scattered around her.
They were both blinded by the sudden, merciless glare of light.
Instinctively, Elspeth tried to shield herself with a wing. The sudden convulsive movement made her wince. She folded in on herself; hiding behind ragged hair and claw-like hands. There was no way to disguise the wounds Cius had left on her body.
Elspeth dropped her hands and clutched at her skirts; curled tighter in on herself, trying to hide the blood.
It was too late.
Char rose. Fast.
Their eyes met. The knight was utterly still.
Elspeth looked away first.
Tears stung; but she didn't let them fall.
Lucius. Where is he?
Elspeth twisted hastily; saw the Wolf's hand drop away as he finished sketching something half-seen in the air. He stalked silently towards them.
She was frozen, unable to move. The door was gone. There was nowhere to go.
Elspeth bolted, and he let her run.
Lucius moved blindingly fast; hunting her down, no longer toying with her.
He had waited long enough.
The Wolf stalked her into a corner and trapped her between his hands. Elspeth closed her eyes. Cius's serrated talons scraped across the exposed, weathered bone and whitened scar tissue surrounding her eye sockets; drawing blood and blatantly threatening her sight. She shuddered faintly.
The Wolf hooked a fang beneath the edge of her lower jaw and laid her cheek open to the bone.
She was picked up; carried across the room and dropped roughly in front of Char. The Sidhe cursed vividly; unable to stop what was happening. Cius flicked an ear in that direction then dismissed him.
For a moment, there was no sound other than Elspeth's harsh gasping; and Lucius's vicious growling.
Her wrists were pinned above her head. Cius's armor chilled her through the thin layers of silk.
It hurt to breathe.
Instinctively, she started to slide from his grasp; fighting until he hit her. Her head snapped to one side, and Elspeth clung ferociously to consciousness.
If she passed out, she was dead.
The knight's grip tightened. He commanded her to hold still.
Glamour flickered around them; and she couldn't move anymore.
Her thighs were shoved apart and Cius settled himself between her hips.
The Wolf chuckled; fangs flashing as he spoke.
"You didn't have a problem with this before, girl."
She remembered clinging grimly to Cius's back, legs scissored around his waist; wounded, bleeding – Char unconscious only inches away - knowing she'd have to kill him if they were going to survive.
The Wolf looked into her eyes now, and grinned at the hatred burning there.
"You were going to murder Char!" she growled rebelliously. "You would've killed both of us!"
Cius ran an ivory talon lovingly down the four parallel gashes that crossed her left eye.
"Yes," he said, telling her the absolute truth, "I would have."
He forced her head to the side and smoothed the hair away from her face; letting Char get a good, long look at the scars running from temple to jaw.
"I can still see," she said fiercely.
The knight blanched; white-lipped and white-knuckled from rage.
Cius had marked her in both Fae and Human Mien. Had her eye not been so deeply set in its socket, Elspeth would've lost it to his claws.
Cius's hand dropped to her groin; sharp talons tracing a secret design between her hips. She bled; feeling the Glamour sink into her flesh.
Elspeth froze; her eyes flicking back and forth from Char to Cius and back again. He was going to violate her, in front of –
"He's your brother," she whispered in horror; throwing an anguished glance of apology towards Char.
The knight darted forward in a fighter's crouch; ignoring the chill of Cold Iron.
Had he been free, had he his sword, he would've run Cius through.
"Let her go!" Char hissed in arctic tones, "I'm the one you want to kill!"
The Sidhe's rage scorched the air between them.
Cius's fur flattened in appeasement; ears and tail lowering.
He shifted; getting up…
And then the Beast in him rebelled.
Cius bared fangs at his brother; growling, feral eyes narrowed. Char very rarely used Awe on him, and he hated every instance.
Still growling, he reached for a struggling Elspeth; ripping feathers out of her wings, and tearing open her blouse.
Char had seen her undressed.
He had held her upright while she cauterized the half-healed wound on her left side and helped tape her up afterwards.
Cius had tortured her since then.
The two men locked gazes. Char seethed; pale eyes promising death. Lucius never took his eyes from his brother. He sank claws into the wound and reopened the scar.
She didn't scream.
Not even when he flayed open her arm again.
Elspeth concentrated on moving.
Slipping through warp and weft of the Cantrip; she backhanded Cius with a closed fist. She tried to knee him in the groin as well; but she wasn't at quite the right angle.
The Wolf merely growled in irritation. Her blows were too weak to stop him.
Elspeth's lips skinned back in a snarl.
If she pissed him off enough, he might simply beat her into submission. At least she wouldn't be conscious of what he was doing to her.
"Do you always hit people smaller than you, Oathbreaker?" she jeered viciously, "It must be embarrassing, being knocked out and killed by an injured little girl!"
Cius's hands locked around her throat, crushing the breath from her.
Elspeth bucked her hips sharply upwards; shoving a gaunt, thin-skinned hipbone between his legs.
His armor protected him; but he still let go, curling reflexively around the area.
Wriggling out from underneath him; the Sluagh sprinted for Char's cage. Her fingers dug into the wound in her arm as she ran; searching for what she'd left buried there.
Howling in outrage, Cius charged her in wolf-form; snapping at bloodied limbs, trying to turn her.
Jaws open; he gathered his limbs beneath him and sprang.
Elspeth hear him coming. She pivoted and slammed her elbow into his skull.
Cius's teeth clipped together sharply.
He shook his head and wheeled round; blackened gums writhing around sharp, white fangs.
The two combatants circled each other warily.
The fire in Elspeth's eyes blazed; skin charring and peeling away.
Hair whipped across her face; momentarily obscuring her vision.
Cius snarled and rushed her.
She dodged; falling onto her side, legs clamped mercilessly around the Wolf's throat.
Cius coughed harshly, unable to breathe. He changed; shifting back into Fae form.
He pried Elspeth's legs from around his throat; grabbed a wing and a shoulder…
and thrust her against the Iron just behind her.
Elspeth let out a strangled shriek.
Her feathers smoked; seared to ash by the Cold Iron.
The Sluagh's hands clamped around Cius's wrists; long fingers wrapped twice around his arm. She pulled grimly, feeling his talons shred fabric. His grip loosened; hands and fur slick with her blood.
Silk and flesh tore, Elspeth's shoulder slipping free. She braced a foot against something invisible and half-shoved her body away from the Iron.
Char cursed and helped her; bare-handed.
Snarling, Lucius hauled Elspeth towards him; mouth gaping, fangs glinting, intending to rip out her throat.
Elspeth seized his wolf ears; keeping him away from her. Her long, prehensile toes scrabbled at Cius's belt, plucking his knife from its sheath.
She struck him; leg lengthening out, twisting at impossible angles.
The knife skidded harmlessly across his armor before sinking into his thigh.
Howling in pain; the Wolf swore viciously and released her.
Elspeth ripped at his ears and long hair, pulling him off-balance, towards the Iron.
Cius yanked her clutching fingers away; prying them off, losing fur and hair in the process.
Lucius slammed her brutally against the floor and she went down for good; ears ringing.
"You…" he coughed, snarling, holding his throat, "You are going to pay for that, girl!"
"Go to hell!" Elspeth spat back in a cold, flat hiss.
Cius slapped her roughly before bending at an awkward angle and licking his injury. Glamour flared, and his wound healed.
He looked up at her; eyes narrowed.
Then he seized her foot; twisting until the bones shattered.
Elspeth clamped her lips together; refusing to scream.
Wrenching the knife from her spasming toes; Cius sat back on his heels, knife held loosely in hand.
The Sluagh shifted position; trying to rise. She put a torn and bloody hand to her head, and lay down again on her side, overcome with dizziness. She held her blouse closed and hid her flayed arm; hoping the Wolf wouldn't see or smell what lay hidden there.
Elspeth shuddered; weakening, going into shock. The blood on her skin cooled; freezing, colder than ice.
She closed her eyes wearily. She was so tired.
Bleeding to death…
She felt a hand touch her skin. The touch was light and painless. A comforting voice spoke to her.
She didn't understand the words. Her eyes opened slowly. He stroked her hair; tucking it behind her ear. Something about the way he touched her bothered her.
The hand trailed quietly down her throat; gently exploring her wounds.
She was picked up; moved, settled against a warm side. The chill of Cold Iron faded.
Her eyes drifted shut. This felt nice. Comforting.
The voice murmured reassurance; caressing her face.
She relaxed further.
Glamour drifted like a cooling breeze across her skin.
The bonds immobilizing her wings faded. Glamour sank into flesh and bone. Her feathers began growing back.
Hands ran soothingly over her skin, beneath her wings. Injuries closed, bruises healed, scars whitened. It took several passes; but the wounds on her arm sealed shut. She started to open her eyes; to tell him about what was inside it.
Fingers passed tenderly across her eyes. She shut them again and forgot what she was going to say. The pain from her ankle diminished; vanished, bones healing. The deep ache in her side disappeared. She still couldn't feel anything where the nerves had been damaged. Somehow, it didn't seem important.
Time was gone.
Her hands were placed on his body. Her fingers traced the delicate column of his throat; ran lightly up the point of an ear. Touched long hair. It shone like silk. Like blood in the dark.
Glamour washed across her skin.
She was placed carefully on her back. The hands were taken away.
She felt cold.
"Shh…" he whispered. "This won't hurt."
He touched her lips, the hollow of her throat. Her eyes were open. There was only darkness. There was nothing there.
Male hands traced the raw, torn edge of her blouse.
Elspeth still clenched it tightly shut. The fingers were loosened, eased aside. Her hand was lowered tenderly. Paralyzed, even more tenderly.
Her blouse was opened. Breasts were exposed. She was touched in silence. Wounds faded into scars.
The hands were merciless. Gentle. They opened her thighs. Bent her legs. Exposed her body.
Her face was cradled in scarred, battle-hardened hands. She was kissed gently. Solemnly. Like a newly made lover.
It silenced her.
She couldn't scream.
She couldn't move.
She fell into the dark.
Her eyes opened.
Char watched her impassively, holding her down.
He bent and whispered something incredibly vulgar into her ear, then kissed her again.
The fire in her eyes flared and he drew back from the sudden chill.
She looked straight through him; senses sharpening, attuned elsewhere.
The Sidhe's flawless appearance didn't change.
But the dead wailed softly past his shoulder.
"Lusus," she hissed icily.
"I told you that you would regret this," Cius whispered to her in a lover's tone.
Elspeth broke her paralysis long enough to wrench her head to the side and look into Char's cage. She kenned the knight; locating the strands she felt tangled around him. The geas strangled his throat, paralyzed his limbs, rendering him mute. He hadn't been able to warn her. He wasn't able to move. His eyes burned with fury.
Somewhere above her, the Wolf laughed.
Elspeth shut out what Cius was doing to her body; touched the spell holding Char hostage. Between the two of them, they bent the magic; twisting it in on itself until it shattered.
Char thrust a thinly-clad arm past the Iron, reaching for her. Elspeth hooked the tips of his fingers in hers; and she let herself go, taking the pressure of his hand with her into unconsciousness.
Char could hear the faint rustling sound as his brother adjusted his clothing; unbuckling his belt.
The enraged Sidhe held his silence; knowing that any reaction from him might cause Cius to murder Elspeth. He held the Sluagh's fingers and refused to let go; pouring nearly the last of his Glamour into her to bind her soul to her body.
It was the only thing that was keeping her from dying.
The hiss of steel clearing leather made Char look up abruptly. His grip tightened.
Cius still wore his shape. And he was holding a knife at Elspeth's throat.
"You can do this the easy way," the Wolf told him in his own voice, "or you can do it the hard way.
Tell me what you know, or -"
The rest of his words were drowned out by another vicious torrent of invective.
"The hard way then," Cius growled, ignoring his brother's outburst.
The knife pressed inward, drawing a thin trickle of blood from the Sluagh's throat.
Cius removed his belt, grinning at the fury in his brother's eyes.
The Wolf shook his head in negation, chuckling at Char's thoughts.
"She bites," he explained cruelly, touching the ear Elspeth had injured a lifetime ago.
Lucius twisted the supple leather strap around his hand, letting the heavy steel buckle dangle free.
The humor faded; his expression hardening fractionally. He had business to deal with.
"Who is the leader of the Resistance?" the Wolf rasped; striking the Sluagh across wing and shoulder.
Char's snarled words were lost beneath the dull sound of metal striking flesh repeatedly.
Elspeth opened her eyes abruptly; forcing the knife away and diverting Cius's attention. She mouthed a single word to Char before being struck and strangled into submission.
His brother looked up from the Sluagh's unconscious body.
"Agadrianna!" Char hissed tightly, naming Araby’s captain of the guard, the word Elspeth had told him.
The Iron burned; but he seized another six inches of Elspeth's fingers, down to the second knuckle. He tried to pull the woman out from underneath Lucius. She was struck, and the knife was leveled at her throat again. Char stopped immediately.
"Agadrianna?" the Wolf mused, watching the girl bleed. "You wouldn't be lying to me, would you?"
The belt buckle swung above her face, threatening to shatter a cheekbone.
Glamour danced idly around the blade of Lucius's knife.
The next cut would lay open her throat.
"Agadrianna is the leader," Char said grimly; meeting Cius's eyes, willing him to believe the lie.
Lucius forced Elspeth's hand out of the Sidhe's grasp and asked another question. Char told him a multitude of half-truths and lies.
It didn't save her.
But she lived.
Someone touched her.
Someone was hurting her. Needle and thread.
Her wings were strapped down.
"No…" Elspeth objected feebly.
The last knot was tied, and the hand was lifted away immediately. She was covered in something warm and soft; and the presence retreated. A voice spoke to her gently; telling her he wasn't going to hurt her.
"Lusus," she muttered, not trusting it.
She was too weak to struggle, and she blacked out.
It was cold.
She was cold.
The room was cold and he wasn't leaving.
Cius watched her; eyes glowing faintly in the dark.
She slept on the floor; wings wrapped tightly around her body, breath pouring visibly into the air.
He got up and took her to bed; hands fever-hot against her chilled skin.
His fur warmed her.
There was a brief and brutal coupling in the dark.
She stopped shivering.
Elspeth awakened abruptly; totally silent.
She was warm. And dressed.
She lay cradled against a man's side; head resting against a finely-muscled shoulder.
A hand hesitated on her hair.
The scent was Char's. Or Cius's.
Tentatively; Elspeth felt the bare arm placed around her waist. No fur. No claws.
She was too weak to fight. He could hurt her.
She looked up guardedly.
Char watched her solemnly; concern shadowing his eyes.
Elspeth's sight blurred; senses seeking, trying to pierce the veil that shrouded the dead from the living.
The room was empty of wraiths.
Her eyes flicked back to the man holding her.
Kith differences aside; Char and Cius were identical twins.
Elspeth weighed her options, and made a decision.
"Denatsate," she said, so low he could barely hear it.
The knight touched her hair in response; that precise streak of red that told her he knew exactly what she meant. Elspeth drew in a shaky breath and relaxed; losing it enough to hug the Sidhe. Desperation and despair made her grip painfully tight. Char gathered her carefully into his arms, ignoring the pain from bruised muscle and bone.
"I'm sorry," she told him; apologizing for hurting him, apologizing for everything. "I'm sorry. I wasn't strong enough."
"You did what you had to do," Char told her steadily, "You saved your life and mine. Don't apologize for that!"
He gripped her shoulders lightly in emphasis.
The Sluagh tensed up, afraid.
Char pushed her gently, but firmly away; still supporting her to keep her from collapsing.
Elspeth shook; lost in her memories again.
Char won't hurt you. He won't touch you. He's never laid a hand on you.
"You aren't your brother!" she hissed in frustration, not realizing she was speaking aloud.
"Do you want me to put you down?" Char asked gravely.
She shook her head.
"Don't… don't think I can move… anymore," she sighed, "Too tired…"
Slowly, she settled herself back against Char's side; moving from wounded shoulder, to lacerated arm, to bruised knee. It hurt; but he didn't say a word. Nestled against the Sidhe; Elspeth fought to stay awake as long as she could, remembering the things she had done in the dark.
The Sluagh succumbed to sleep at last; exhaustion and injury dragging her down. Char remained awake, guarding her. She had saved his life more than once. Protecting her now was the only thing he could do for her in return.
She awakened again; safe, still in Char's arms.
Elspeth looked down at herself; realizing she was clad in both Char's human and faerie clothes. The Sluagh was tiny, and his clothing covered everything it needed to.
She listened quietly to his heartbeat for a few minutes, and then became aware of the bruises she was resting against.
Elspeth shifted position, draping a wing around the Sidhe's bare torso; trying to shield him from the Iron and the cold. He had numerous overlapping gashes running up his lower forearm. Defensive wounds. She winced, knowing from experience how much it must have hurt to stitch them closed.
She examined his injuries and cautiously touched the fading bruise on his abdomen. "Are you going to be all right? Cius dropped you and stepped on you."
"Will you?" the knight asked, troubled. He put his hand over hers. She was shaking again. She needed food and water.
"I - I'm just-," Elspeth's voiced cracked abruptly, shifting from English to Latin. <I'm scared. He'll come back. He'll hurt me again. He'll hurt you. I won't be able to stop him.>
Char gripped her hand.
Elspeth huddled against his chest, wrapped her arms around him and wept.
The Sidhe murmured reassurance; stroking her hair and wings.
She was suddenly and keenly reminded of her father.
And for a while, everything was all right.
Elspeth stirred; suppressing a gasp as her injuries complained.
Her arm slid from around Char's waist and she turned stiffly away from him.
The knight watched her in concern.
Head down, she raised her hands to her face.
"I can't see."
Char touched her wrist. "Let me look," he said.
Elspeth shook her head stubbornly.
"They're burning," she insisted.
"Elspeth please." Char said patiently, "I've seen your eyes before. I don't care what they look like."
The Sluagh sighed and turned back towards him. She felt him carefully move her hair aside and tilt her chin up.
The skin and muscle around her eyes were scorched and blackened; already flaking away at the edges. Silver fire glowed faintly behind fused lids.
Char was silent for a long moment.
"Do you know what debridement is?" he asked her.
Elspeth nodded; intending to peel the dead tissue away herself.
Char stopped her as soon as she lifted her hands.
"I'll do it," he said firmly, his tone brooking no argument.
Elspeth relented; closing her mortal eyes. The eerie glow vanished.
Lightly, he touched the lids, where it would hurt the least.
Skin and muscle disintegrated, crumbling to ash and dust.
Char cleared away the debris, grimly focused on his task. There was no anesthesia. No way to clean his hands. He thought of blood poisoning; ignoring the chill that rapidly numbed his fingers.
It took time. The candlelight was dim and uncertain. Layer after layer crumbled slowly and had to be removed; exposing bone and still-healing scar tissue. Char ran his fingers across Elspeth's gaunt cheeks, brushing away the last of the ashes.
Cius spoke up from the shadows then; muttering something about lovebirds.
Elspeth held one of Char's hands, trying vainly to see. The nerves were still disintegrating.
She saw nothing, not even the dead.
<I have to put you down.> the Sidhe whispered suddenly <I'll be back. I won't leave you.>
Char placed her on her side, making sure her body was still covered.
He folded her injured wings carefully against her back, touched her hair and retreated silently.
Footsteps. Someone approached her; hovering just out of reach.
<I'm not going to touch anything except your back and shoulders.> Char told her.
He helped her to sit up then; shielding her against his chest.
The scent of water was intoxicating.
A cup was held to her lips.
The liquid was tepid and bitter. She let a few drops trickle in, held them in her mouth and waited.
<It's safe. No poison.> she told him.
She felt Char nod slightly. He had tasted it first.
Elspeth could feel the Wolf's eyes on them from the shadows.
<He watches.> she said.
<I know.> he whispered back.
Nothing else was said after that.
Char fed her sips of a thin broth, on the verge of turning.
Elspeth ate very little, her stomach rebelling at the nourishment after being empty for so long.
The Sidhe drank what was left.
Her hair was heavy with water.
Steam obscured the room.
The pain was continuous now.
She refused to scream.
Tears vanished into the water.
Blood swirled; draining away.
Cold breeze wafted across her skin.
A shadow loomed over her, half-veiled by mist.
Elspeth closed her eyes and trembled.
The Wolf watched her silently.
Shoving a wing aside, he picked her up.
"She miscarried you know," Cius said disinterestedly, "But you already knew that."
"Shut up!" Char snarled.
Elspeth opened her eyes to darkness.
"Who said you could cover up?" the Wolf growled at her.
Elspeth glared blindly in the direction of his voice, refusing to cower.
"Tell him," Cius said maliciously, "Tell him everything."
The geas he'd set on her tightened abruptly.
She bolted upright; unable to breathe.
Char pulled her hands away before she could claw at her throat.
"I -" Elspeth's voice failed.
"I… warded us with iron. Cast iron. I didn't – didn't want them to find us. I didn't know how to block their scrying…
"I used too much. I nearly killed you," she said miserably, hanging her head. "But they- they didn't find us until I broke the wards and ran…
They brought us here and they tortured you. Cius came for me, and- and-"
The Sidhe still held her by the wrists.
Elspeth flinched away, wondering if he'd hurt her.
Char shifted position; put his arm across her shoulders, and let her go.
He listened as she spoke; not judging her, simply listening. Elspeth tried, frantically, to stop.
The geas caused her blood pressure to drop suddenly. Elspeth felt as if a spike had been driven into her left temple. Her limbs shuddered, sutures giving way, body twitching spasmodically as the geas did its work. Char cursed and made sure she didn't fall. Fire poured out of her eyes. Her wings battered his arm as she passed out. Elspeth recovered thirty seconds later; vertigo whirling inside her, blood hot on her skin, sucking in a belated breath.
Cius tipped his head back with a growl of laughter.
The Sluagh moved abruptly; wrapping inhumanly long arms around Char, body turning inwards; breasts receding into her chest. He tensed up, caught off guard.
Elspeth rested her cheek against his; tongue tripping over words as she resumed speaking again. She told him what she'd had to do to rescue him; everything she'd done to keep herself alive. Nearly everything.
She whispered the last words; feeling the Wolf's malevolent presence. Elspeth turned away from Char and covered her mouth with a bloodied hand, wishing she could take back everything she'd said.
<He shouldn't have touched you.> the Sidhe said fiercely <Even if you killed him.>
He tugged her hand away and started to say something else.
Beyond them, the door of their cell shrieked open.
Muscles tense, poisonous gaze fixed on Cius, Char rose fluidly; pulling Elspeth to her feet. The knight released her and stepped in front of her.
"Stay behind me," he said, unconsciously using the tone of command.
Cius growled defiance from the doorway; steeling himself against the Sidhe's supernatural wrath.
Glamour sparked from him as he invoked the Art of Legerdemain.
Char countered it immediately; attempting to unweave the Cantrip.
Eroded by the sheer proximity of Cold Iron, the last of his Glamour failed him.
Legerdemain tore both of them off their feet.
Elspeth hung weightlessly in midair. She heard Char strike the bars of their cage.
The knight groaned involuntarily as Cold Iron touched his bare flesh. Then he too, was paralyzed. The Iron would kill him. Unmake him.
That knowledge was in the Sidhe's eyes; and he spared Elspeth a look of regret and apology.
He hadn't been able to save her.
Blinded as she was, Elspeth felt the weight of his gaze.
The Sluagh thrashed her wings frantically, cursing her inability to fly.
Cius watched her struggle; something other than amusement heating his veins.
He opened his hand and let her drop.
Hot-eyed, he watched her find and grip the Sidhe's wrist; using her strength and scant weight to try and drag him away from the Cold Iron. He knew it would eventually wear away at his Cantrip, no matter how much Glamour he poured into it from the Dreaming.
But not before it killed Char.
White-knuckled, Elspeth braced herself against the cage, feeling the Iron burn. She pulled harder; feeling more stitches give way beneath the strain. The blood trickled thinly downward, making her grip uncertain.
Move, damn you!
She heard the pad of Cius's footsteps behind her.
Releasing Char's wrist; Elspeth scrambled swiftly up the cage, toes clutching at the bars. Fingers trailing sightlessly over the unconscious knight's face, she leaned forward and kissed him. Glamour blazed; spilling from between her lips, pouring into the knight's body. She gave him back all that he'd given her, and what little she'd managed to absorb directly from the Dreaming.
The sudden rush of Glamour revived the Sidhe.
He opened his eyes to find Elspeth leaning over him at an awkward angle; wings spread, hands on either side of his face, lips on his. He tasted her blood.
Her mouth opened slightly.
Char nearly pricked his tongue on the first of the thin slivers of steel she passed him.
The Wolf snatched her away; even as the last shreds of the Cantrip dissipated under the influence of Cold Iron. Cius had her by the wing. He twisted, and Elspeth screamed; wing broken, hanging at an unnatural angle.
The Sluagh's sound wing flicked out of Cius's tenuous grasp. Elspeth bit him; human teeth sinking solidly into his wrist. He snapped at her, fangs scraping across her face. Elspeth kicked back, hard. Her uninjured wing buffeted him around the face and shoulders.
It divided the Wolf's attention long enough for Char to attack. He ran a nail across one of the slashes on his arm. Sutures snapped. Blood welled up from the wound. Glamour sparked from the knight's fingers as he called upon the Primal Art.
Cius dropped the Sluagh and coughed. He coughed again; deep and racking. Water spilled from his mouth, staining his fur. The Wolf half-straightened, hand at his throat. He flung out his other hand; haloed by a thin nimbus of Glamour.
Cius was unweaving the Cantrip.
Still sprawled on the floor, ignoring the shards of agony from her broken limb; the Sluagh half-rose, arm extended, fingers grazing fur, strong hand taut on the Wolf's outstretched wrist. Empty gaze simmering, her expression like stone, Elspeth broke his concentration and waited for him to die.
The land grumbled unexpectedly, shifting beneath them. Sudden cracks appeared in the sterile and blighted landscape surrounding their cage. A subtle shimmer was in the air; flexing faintly as it overtook the region. The trod they were anchored to stretched and nearly snapped; taken further into the Dreaming by the passing of the Firchlis.
The Vale of Mists obscured their surroundings.
Elspeth tumbled downward; pain tearing the breath from her lungs. Earth disintegrated beneath searching fingers. She found a handhold long enough to wedge her hand into an infinitesimal crack; fingers spinning out into unimaginable thinness. She hung there, bleeding, broken wing askew, feet dangling inches away from the frigid haze of humankind's realized fears. The trod settled with the slow grinding of stone against stone. Dust sifted down, threatening Elspeth's precarious handhold.
Grimly, she began to climb.
Elsewhere, Char looked up as the tremors stopped. He rose silently and cautiously. The Mists obfuscated his vision, muffled scent and echoed every sound back at him. He disregarded the near-sentient sighing of the wind. That way lay madness.
He was still on the Silver Path. Elspeth might not be.
Given a chance, his twin would kill her.
The Sluagh's lockpicks were in his mouth. Her blood still stained them. Char spit them out into his hand. Glamour shone. He murmured her name, and felt the steel shift of its own accord, pointing the way.
Bare flesh pebbled in the chill air, he set out to find her.
Elspeth's fingers and toes dug into the ruined trod, skin squeezing like a gecko's into every imperfection it could find. The Sluagh dangled perilously at the edge an overhanging precipice, wind tearing at aching limbs, damaged wing colliding with the uneven stone. Fresh blood trickled down windswept feathers; freezing and shattering on contact with the roiling tempest below. Lightning seared the sky.
The trod shifted once more.
Stone fell apart beneath her.
Elspeth lost her handhold.
Someone seized her by the wrist, lifting her to safety.
She was carried swiftly away from the edge of the trod, and set down unharmed.
Belatedly, Elspeth flung up a wing to shield herself.
"Char?" she asked shakily.
Last edited by Saint Michael; 02-07-2007 at 01:46 PM..
02-06-2007, 07:10 PM
Heartbreaking Writer of Staggering Genius
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: State of Insanity - I must be in order to start my own paper...
Not bad for a role-player adaptation. No real writing nits other than your post is very, very long and I couldn't get through it in one sitting. Suggest keeping your posts down to 2,500 words or less to promote more feedback. Also, if you have a story to post, the 'explanation' of the plot should be evident within your story, not provided in a separate link. Reason I say that is because some readers aren't into RPGs and they're not going to go look for it. If you want to keep their attention, introduce your plot hook right away and draw them in. Writing overall is good, with excellent pacing. A little more setting detail here and there will help put the reader into the scene.
Nice work, keep writing.
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02-07-2007, 10:19 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Hmm... not sure if some of the RPG terms are translatable, but I can try.
How do you check the word count and break up posts?
Thanks for the review! ^_^
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