Three hours have passed sense Armata called upon Jorge and Prad, briefing them on the situation at hand. It was high noon, and Marcus would be arriving shortly, most likely agitated to be pulled away from his wives after being reunited with them after being gone for a month. Armata now sits in his throne room, swirling a goblet of crimson liquid as he awaits the arrival of Marcus.
A rift opens within the main hall of the castle, two of Marcus’ wives walk through the violent swirling portal, swiftly followed by their husband. Samia, a voluptuous and regal Pharaoh dressed in clothing of Zahmerian styling, while adorned in gold jewelry reminiscent to her desert region heritage.
Then there was Cyndwella, a Wisp who’s high profile appearance is matched only by mischievous and unfiltered nature. She is dressed head to toe in gothic apparel and draws attention with deadly look of her cage that levitates around her waste. A violet flame dances just above the jagged tiara that sits upon her head.
Marcus steps out of the potal, his eyes narrow and his body language frustrated. Eight of the Nightwatch step out after him, their weapons drawn as they escort him and his wives to the throne room.
Jorge stood to the side of Armata's throne, his arms crossed defiantly across his ches. The warden wore his full blackend plate armor with a sword to his side. He did not have his traditional greatsword but rather a two handed long sword on his hilt. The blade looked strange in comparison to his heft.
The knight silently nodded as every person entered the room. To him they did not seem to thrilled to be here but at the same time it did not seem that Marcus would fight, especially in front of his wives.
Prad remains hidden, waiting. He knows not those people. He know not what motivates them, what they carry as personalities, nor the history between them.
No, he remains as a spectator. An extra muscle to lull things far from violence, should it be. His ever shifting gaze, between the hybrid, the ancient and the caged one, the only thing that 'moves' at all. A dim, purple, pulsing gaze seemingly watching from beyond mere sight. His shroud gleams in the same dying light, barely visible to the point of encroachement from the dark corner.
(Everyone) “What’s the matter sasqautch, don’t like the carnal arts? Not surprising, you look duller than a rock.” Cyndwella snaps.
“You’re here because we need to talk about Pramool and a possible way to increase our chances at victory. That possibility being your father.” Armata stands up. “A scientist in Tepes informs me that he’d be able to bring your father back, with your assistance of course.”
“That’s ridiculous, not to mention stupid. Even if he could bring back that bastard, what makes you think he can be trusted to help us?! He’s more likely to kill us then help!” Marcus protests as expected.
“Seriously, this is what you brought us here for? What pile of shit and a waste of time!” Cyndwella waves her hand.
“Cyndy.” Samia walks over to Cyndwella and gives her a hug. “There’s no need to get angry.”
Prad watches the people debate and argue. Of course it was going to be complicated. The resurrection of an entity, which he understands to be dangerous, was obviously going to bring up issues among the guests.
His eyes glimmer dimly, almost speaking, with a brief illumination chording each word thought in his name "And to think....they have yet to hear of the alternative". They pass in his mind, not of his voice, more quiet than usual.
"Obviously, it wasn't going to be universally accepted..." whispers Prad, still hurdled in his corner, utterly devoid of any exposed human features. His voice, ever melancholic, ever placid. It changes.
His eyes briefly gleam, as if washed over with another persinality "The animals speak of ethical issues and play of those with moral issues. How backward of them..." The second whisper is as low as the darkness surrounding him, hidden as much as the young man is.
"Unethical? Pardon my tone Samia but at this point we have very little time to spare for ethics and good morals. Unfortunately for you Marcus, in one way or another, seems to be the key to solving our problem."
Jorge placed around the group as he spoke, his hands moving about him painting a picture of his current state to those in the room.
"We can't make this decision for you all but we certainly can't let you go uninformed of the danger that EVERYONE in the world is in. I wouldn't dare consider any of these options if there were other ways but I can't find them... I can't find any other option to stop Paramool from bringing back the old night."
(Everyone) “Agreed Jorge. We have no time to debate or wonder about morality, Pramool marches his armies just under two months from now. We have to make any preparations necessary for this fight.” Armata adds to Jorge’s statement. “You either help us or wait it out, and hope we succeed....”
Marcus looks away unsure he can trust this plan. But he then looks back at his wives. Samia has her arms folded, standing there regal. Cyndwella on the other hand is picking her nose, before flicking whatever it is she plucked.
“Fine. I’ll go along with it, but marks my words. My father isn’t to be trusted.” He warns.
“That is if you can even bring the shitlord back.” Cyndwella remarks.
“Renwick seems to believe he can.” Armata reassures.
"That was much easier than I thought." Jorge remarked. "Surely I thought we would be here for at least an hour or two to get you to see our way."
"You all do know that we could drain Marcus over the course of the month to get the amount of blood we need right? We do not need to drain him all at once do we? It would give us the best chance of succeeding if we followed through with both plans."
(Everyone) “No chance Jorge. For too many years Armata has been trying to drain me dry. I’ll never let him bleed me, not matter how noble the cause.” Marcus shakes his head.
“Yeah! I’d rather ya bring back his butt sniffing father to stealing his blood.” Cyndwella throws up a hand as she chimes her opinion in.
“Yes, so be it then. Head to the medical wing and has them take a sample of you blood. We will get it to Renwick as soon as possible.” Armata then heads back to his throne.
“I don’t take orders from you, Armata.” Marcus sneers. Armata stops and turns around, staring at Marcus.
“You’ll do it all the same. If you care about winning this fight.” Armata turns back and sits in his throne. Marcus growling as he glares at the Vampire Lord. His attention is drawn as Samia places a hand on his shoulder.
“Let it go Marcus, it’s not worth it.” Samia gestures Marcus to leave. Cyndwella turns around and follows her husband and wife as they leave the throne room. Armata taking a deep breath of relief as Marcus walks out.
“Thank you both, I doubt that would have been that smooth had you not been here.” Armata rubs his head.
(Everyone) “Still, your presence here as well as his wives no doubt dissuaded him from this discussion into an engagement. Well one of his wives anyways. That Wisp is maddeningly lacking in decorum.” Armata saying it in a tone reminiscent of an exhausted man.
Meanwhile Marcus fidgets in the a doctor’s office look around impatiently for whom ever was going to take his blood. Cyndwella and Samia both watch Marcus quizzically, never having seeen this behavior from him before.
“Schmoopy? Sit still for cock waddling sake. What’s the matter with ya?” Cyndwella stops checking her nails.
“It’s nothing. I just don’t like doctor’s offices, and some things within them....” Marcus focuses on Cyndwella and Samia.
“What? Are you afraid of needles?” Samia crosses her legs and leans in, only to see his face turn red. Cyndwella then bursts out laughing, her legs kick wildly as she nearly falls out of her chair.
“Schmoopy afraid of needles?! Of all the things for you to be afraid of, it’s that?!”
“I have a great doubt the three had even witnessed my presence among the room”. He rebukes his statement with his unchanging voice “The sort of thing expected when Alpha-plus entities are converging among each other’s. The smaller ones will become invisible”
(Everyone) “All in time Jorge. For now this option is better than nothing. If Marcus is willing to cooperate with either of the choices we’ve given him, than we’ve achieved more than I expected. For now we can at least place some hope in this first strategy.” Armata looks to Prad and then Jorge. A smug little smile creeps onto his face.
“Marcus is here with his brides, what of two? I heard some rather interesting gossip around the halls this last evening. Sounded like you two found yourselves escorts to two ladies. Jorge I heard of the ruckus and jealous stir you and Imperia caused amongst our young nobles.... And you Prad, I hear to commons are talking of the cloaked man who spent the night at Roda’s home.”
"We talked...we ate...we watched the rain...and slept...that is all. We did naught more than converse as friends..." Prad lifts his cloaked visage, barely allowing a semblance of eyes mirroring back Armata's look. He does so for a few seconds...
...before lowering again. His hands are slightly changed in pose "I did not think they would judge worthy of gossiping about a courier affected at someone's domain by the might of rain. I did not think it would reach your ears, let alone catch your attention".
(Everyone) “Everything reaches me within my shadow. Though the gossip is just that, Prad, gossip. When I heard you had bunked at her home, I didn’t assume anything intimate took place, same for Jorge. You two do not strike me as the, spontaneous type. The same for Roda and Imperia. I merely just wanted your confirmation on the matter.” Armata scratches his goatee.
"They did naught...but sleep. And then, walked away. She remains. For how long? Neither of us can tell" Prad moves slightly, his feet re-positioning "Nothing more, as expected. This assumption, not a wrong one"
Jorge's heart does not flutter, stop nor murmur for within his full plate he saw himself as an impenetrable bastion of forge wrought iron. Within his helm his expression was imperceptible and he acted like it.
"Aye. We were dining together. I believe that we did a decent job at dissuading any future suitors. But at the same time their efforts may redouble as they might see that she lowered her standards. Let us hope her plan to scare them off worked in some sense. "
(Everyone) “Well if it doesn’t it seems she can rely on you to beat them back. Regardless you both sound like you had a good night with good company. Take the time to enjoy yourselves while you can, in a month we leave for Tepes to attend an important meeting on our strategy with the world leaders. As stated Jorge, Prad and Marcus, you three are going to be my champions when presenting ourselves to the others.”
“Some maybe distrustful or disinterested with us, for being foreign or for the things that have happened. But as long as we maintain our discipline there, there will be no confrontations.”
"Aye. But I doubt that I will be around long enough to beat back the suitors. I do wish to start my own life at some point you know? So long have I lived it for others it is only a matter of time before I finally allow myself to reward myself..."
"I know of your plan to give me a farm Armata. Though I appreciate the gesture I cannot accept it. I want to own what I wish to start. I wish to be beholden to none but myself. I want to be near my own kind... if I'm to start a family and raise them as I see fit I need to be with humans. I am sorry Armata but I cannot accept your land."
(Everyone) Armata watches Prad leave silently, nothing else is needed of him at this point. Then Vampire Lord switches his gaze back to Jorge, listening intently to the knight has to say.
“You apologize for something I haven’t offered you, nor planned to. The only thing I have made for you is the armor you saw in my collection. That land you spoke of, is being reserved for a project of mine. Imperia must have told you then? No doubt the wine loosened her lips.”
"Is that so? I apologize for my accusations. I am not usually one to allow such information sway me so."
Jorge looked over to the now closing door and for a moment he was confused. Had he forgotten that Prad was present in the room? He did not know for certain but his lack of presence made him wary to the point of mistrust. Perhaps there was something more to him than he let on.
"I will not speak of the conditions that this information was given until me but now that we are on the subject my interest has been peaked. What is the purpose of that land? Surely it is not so secretive to keep it from your Warden. How am I to properly protect your assets if I know nothing of them?"
(Everyone) “.... A fair question, Sir Jorge. Though I can only give you limited information. All I’m going to say, is it involves stopping Pramool. I will say no more, because no one but me can know the intricacyies of it. Is that sufficient enough, or shall I explain myself?” Armata’s tone is strong but not disrespectful. There is no sign of sarcasm or humor. His body language is steady and solid, no sign of nervousness or anxiety.
"Aye. No explanation is needed." Jorge replied, his voice flat and clear. "I will pry no further as I assume that plan requires some risk that you wish to keep hidden."
Jorge lowered his gaze and as he ran the thought through multiple possibilities, his mind raking and turning before turning back up at Armata.
"Do not do anything hasty. From what I know this covenant is on the precipice of tearing itself apart and you presence and... well non-mamono way of dealing with situations has kept it together for now."
(Everyone) “Anything hasty? Like what Sir Jorge? Getting myself killed? Trust me, Jorge, I want to be able to deal with Pramool and live to reminisce about it. If everything goes according to the current strategy, we are careful, courageous and with no small amount of luck, Pramool will be reinstituted to a dark prison.” Armata again leaves the comfort of his throne, again pacing in thought.
“My world is also no small part. They’re amassing everyone able to hold a blade, every siege weapon, every magic user of value, even the lord’s are dusting off their armors. I’ve also put out requests for warriors from this world. So far we have yet to get any confirmations. But I believe it can be done. For now Jorge, see to your sword and shield, maybe get aquatinted with your new armor. Also Jorge, maybe visit the barracks. See if you can’t toughen up our forces around here.”
“Prad himself has access to my personal library, hopefully there is a book in there that can spur his imagination. Or teach him a new destructive spell.” Armata stops and looks at Jorge.
“I’m not telling you more out on the project I have underway, not because I distrust you. I do it because of possibilities. The less people know, the greater a chance Pramool will not know....”
The knight chuckled to himself at the thought of training up warriors redundant.
"No. I wouldn't dare contradict their training and impose my ways upon them. You see I am a duelist. They are soldiers. They fight rank and file to ensure they do not get overwhelmed. My job is to break through their ranks and slay their leadership to make them falter. They simply cannot learn it in but a month, perhaps I could teach them the basics of being a ranger but I am certain that there are better suited instructors than I"
(Everyone) “Well we do have a ‘ranger’ unit, but they are off limits. They train in secrecy, have so sense the founding of the Covenant. I’m sure you will find something to keep you busy for now. If there is nothing else, you are dismissed. I have some reports awaiting me in my study and I’ll be waiting on the medical wing to hand over the blood sample from Marcus.”
“Are there any questions you have left Sir Jorge?” Armata stops and looks to Jorge.
(Everyone) “Your presence is only required if you desire to stand over my shoulder and watch as I read documents on the Covenant’s treasury, man-power, supplies and possible future endeavors. Other than that no, I would only bore my Warden if he enjoyed the mundane.” Armata begins walking to the back of the room, where Jorge knows there’s a door leading to the private wing of the castle.
(Ok guys, this is where we have a crossroad. I’m going to let you guys decide what you want to do. I will improvise. Jester you can further invest in your character by doing whatever. Seek out more knowledge, spend time with Roda, Armata, etc. BT, same thing. Spend time with Imperia, doing something fun with Layoka, assist Armata, etc.)
"No." He chuckled "No I am not that fond of politics nor bureaucracy. I will be in the forge if you require my assistance. Based on what enemies we are fighting I am going to need something smaller and more... choppy."
Jorge drew his sword and heald it up for inspection, the now long slender blade barely reflecting anything off its matted surface.
"This will not do well against the hordes. I suppose that it will have to be used as a reserve."
(Everyone) “Is that a request, Sir Jorge? Shall I craft you a more, brutal blade? Are you to mend your own blade? Or will seek the trio in the underforge? I’m sure they could craft you up a serviceable, ‘choopy’ blade.” Armata says stopping in his tracks and looking over his shoulder at Jorge, giving the knight his due respect.
"No. That won't be necessary. You have enough to do today. Besides I prefer to craft my my own tools as my standards are... something else. I will be using the forge though, unless there is another place I may use to forge my new blade?"
(Everyone) “Hehehehe, very well. Use my forge. There are materials there that only I am privy to use. They shall serve you well in your creation. There are also books and other materials for enchanting the blade, runes and glyphs that will enhance it further. Utilize them, if it pleases you. I shall check on you later....” Armata turns and walks out of site, melding into the shadows, his voice the only thing remaining as it rings out in a spectral fashion.
Prad's path sees him returned to the mausoleum palace, place littered in tomes. A lonely place for one such as him, where the shadow growls under his feet.
He unwraps his hands from the folds that bind them, allowing the lightning to circulate freely between fingertips. A miasmatic purple dies them, as much as is allowed to him, most of it drawing strength from his embedded dagger hidden on his belt. A judge of how much was he allowed to utilize before it would spiral out of control was needed.
(Jester) Though there is solitude to Prad’s division, there is an underlying sense of monitoring. The shadows growl and shift to his mannerisms and body language. They churn and writh as if dissatisfied. Despite this Prad has no opposition, his way unblocked by any but himself. Though the castle and it’s Lord may detest the one tormenting Prad, they leave them to their own design.
"This place isn't content with your presence" Prad opens a palm, seeing it surge slowly with the same lightning he uses in confrontation. Chiseled and scupltured, it soon turns spherical, a tool to measure the control he can allow to stretch for.
The shadow under his feet whispers in a limbo-like light, flickering between the darkness and the gray. A shadow shaped as a man in a cold state, indifferent of the walls' growls. It seems the spite is returned.
(Jester) The shadows in the room squirm more vigorously, and in their activity, Armata halts on his path to his study. The Vampire Lord stares in the direction of the grand library Prad is now inhabiting, he sneers at the sense of the “Gray One” beneath Prad’s skin.
“Parasiiiiiiiiite.... You can’t control the boy, forever.” Armata continues on his way.
The shadow of his feet simply...sits at his declaration. It sits in a more observatory state. A non-chalant manner. The gray illustration has no interest in the lord of the palace, nor did he foster any since their only dialogue.
Instead, his attention is turned to the one who now begins jolting the sphere, looking to see how complex it can become before the need for attention turns overwhelming. Coordinated movement begins to appear along and within it. Its surrounding formulates a more complex sphere, featuring insignas roughly shaped with atone.
Jorge took his time to acquaint himself with the forge and its many materials, the knight collecting and arranging the materials he wished to use.
"There. That should do for now." He mused to himself as he pulled out a sheet of paper and a pencil. "Now then how do i bring this blade to life?"
The knight sketched and sketched and sketched every idea and concept falling short of his ideal standard. He wished to have a maneuverable blade yet every design undulated and was too exotic for his tastes. He wanted a hefty blade yet the designs went against his first standard.
The knight went through many different iterations until the brink of rage. He balled up and threw the drawings into the fire his roars bellowing through the mystical forge. Jorge grabbed a nearby rod and held it high over his head and brought it down on the nearby anvil, the metal giving way to hunk of steel and contorting to its odd shape
(Everyone) The loaf clang of steel to anvil causes a stir as Jorge suddenly hears the sound of small footsteps behind him. Before he could see what it was, something ducked behind a stack of crates. Whatever it was, it wasn’t any bigger than a small child.
(Everyone) Jorge received no response, only the sound of foot steps. Behind the crates peers a set of eyes, carefree ones. They watch Jorge quietly. They are inquisitive and full of life. Behind the crates pops out a small girl. Jorge’s keen eyes notice she isn’t human. A Living Doll.
Blinking twice the knight did not know how to react to this new development. It wasn't after him and not once did Armata mention that such a thing existed.
But why would he? Jorge thought as he raised an inquisitive eyebrow hidden under the wrought iron helmet.
"I suppose Armata has his hobbies... better dolls than humans..."
Jorge turned the bent metal rod in his hands several times as he remembered a time when he had to fight a swarm of dolls in an particularly powerful White's castle. In the end the tool he used did not matter only that it could render them inoperable.
He gripped the metal bar tightly before a wicked grin crackled to life under his faceless mask.
"Oh you just gave me a wonderful idea little one."
Jorge turned his back to the doll and began to prepare the rod, applying several scales of fine metals along most of one length and sliding it into the furnace.
(Everyone) The doll shifts from cover to cover. She watches the knight with fixated curiosity and care, every single movement he makes is monitored by the small doll. No matter where she is, the Doll watches from behind something, curiously surveying Jorge.
The knight payed little attention to the doll as he began to work the the white hot rod of layered metals. Jorge placed the scales and rod under two vices and then proceeded to hammer them together, the scales slowly merging through the heat and repeated impact.
Jorge continued his ritual of heating and folding. Hammering and shaping. After several hours of noise and strikes and heat the lump of metal began to take the shape of an elongated star.
"Aye... this is good..."
He gave it a wide swing making sure to avoid striking anything.
"A little off but a counterweight on the pommel should fix that."
Time passes. Prad's wraps are undone, yet not burned. Relief comes to his side "Well, good to know I'm healed this far".
His hands are wracked with the aftermath of over use, the veins within died to violet. It will be a while until he can muster another session. His eye turns to the directory "Well, might as well see if he has anything about electromancy".
He walkes to the book at the heart, his mind flickering with the curiosity of a novice.
(Everyone) The Living Doll is now fast asleep, having tired from watching Jorge for so long. She lays on the ground right where she had been monitoring Jorge. Suddenly Jorge hears the door open to the forge, Armata strides into the shop no longer wearing his cloak. This time Armata wears only his long tail coat with a frilly black shirt beneath, black pants and boots.
(Everyone) “Say what?!” Armata’s head jerks backwards, then sporadically swivels trying to gain an idea of Jorge’s statement. The Vampire Lord’s eyes then settle on the Doll, his surprise is only matched by his acceptance to it.
“Well, I’ll be staked and flayed. You spotted something before I did in my own kingdom. That was the Doll I took from my world, and intended to refurbish. Her she is, now conscious and alive. Suppose I should have anticipated this, the castle is saturated with centuries of Demonic Energy. So she watched you? For so long she tired and fell asleep?”
The knight did not look up from his dangerous work, the rapidly spinning whetstone more than capable of removing fingers as easily as it ground down steel.
"Yes. It somewhat startled me at first I'll admit it, but it didn't do much other than watch. I certainly hope that it doesn't think of me as it's father... I have too many things to deal with already and the last thing I need is another thing mouth asking for a portion of my attention."
(Everyone) Armata kneels down by the Doll and places a hand on her shoulder. He shakes her slightly, managing to awaken the Doll. Her dark purple eyes look up at the Vampire and scan his face. “Yes, you remember me don’t you?” Armata removes his hand from her shoulder.
The Doll then shakes her head “yes”. She then opens her mouth but no words come out. Instead she stands up and brushes off her dress. Armata as well rises to his feet and points to Jorge.
Sparks stopped flying and the hard shrill sounds of stone on metal ceased all together. Jorge slowly turned to Armata, his gaze focusing entirely upon the doll in the vampire's hands.
"So it speaks... not fond that my name were its first words but it speaks nonetheless. Don't put her in my care Armata. I am being serious. Layoka is a handful already I do not need another child to look over."
(Everyone) “Oh, that was my plan all along. By the time I’m done, you’ll be the adoptive parent of orphan in the Covenant.” Armata says jokingly. “No, I wasn’t planning on putting in your care. I honestly didn’t expect her to come to life. Now that she is, we will find her proper accommodations.”
Prad's interest turned elsewhere, sinking time into re-kindling himself with the powers rented to him. He could do no more and sought another way to pass the time.
His memories of the armory crawl back to his mind. The interest he had for the place was genuine, even if double by the man in the wall's. His footsteps begin carrying him back to this place of history, one for him to dot over.
(Prad) It’s a lonely and quiet trip back to the armory for Prad. As before the higher tier members of the Covenant stare as he passes by, gossiping amongst themselves. They never do anything though to draw the young man’s attention. After a long walk through long halls and down stairs, Prad reaches the armory. The room is cold despite the numerous torches that light the room. Orange flickers throughout the room and off the glass cases that protect the treasures within.
(BT) “A name? Well had I’d known this outcome I suppose I would have decided on something. Given the current events, I believe I will. I’ll have to think about what to call her.” Armata looks from the knight to the Doll, gesturing the Doll to follow him. The Doll does follow Armata out of the workshop, but stops. She turns around and runs to the corner of the room where the small box she slept in lays.
She grabs her box and blanket before running back to Armata’s side, following him away from Jorge.
Jorge silently finished wlrking oh his mace, grinding steel, wapping leather and hammering the final bits into place. Once completed Jorge gave his new weapon multiple test swings before finally feeling content with his work.
"One mace in a day. Not bad... but there's only one true way to truly find out."
Upon completing his work the knight cleaned up and slung his mace upon his shoulders as he made his way back to his quarters.
(Everyone) It isn’t long before Armata runs into Marcus, Samia and Cyndwella walking about the castle, looking lost. “I believe we take a right here, or was it back their?”
“Let me see that shitin paper....” Cyndwella snatches a piece of paper from Marcus and eyeballs it. “Room 247. I hate odd numbers.”
“Yeah I think we’re in the wrong wing.” Marcus scratches his chin.
“No shit slick.” Cyndwella snaps.
“You seem, lost.” Armata calls out.
“Oh not you, fuuuuuu- fudge.” Cyndwella bites her tongue when seeing the Doll. “What’s with the kid?”
“She our most recent tenant. She’s a doll I recovered from Tepes, abandoned I brought her here and there you go.” Armata gestures to the small Doll.
“What, you planning on playing with her?” Cyndwella crosses her arms and cocks her hips.
“No.” The Vampire responds flatly.
The Doll then walks up to Cyndwella, Samia and Marcus. She sets her box down and points her finger at the trio before her. “Friend?” She looks back to Armata, to see the Vampire Lord shake his head approvingly. The Doll then grabs hold of the chains that line the tins of the cage surrounding Cyndwella’s waste, shaking the chains.
“She’s cute.” Smiles Samia.
“Yeah she definitely knows perfection when she sees it.” Smirks Cyndwella.
“Hey Armata, where’s guest room 247?” Marcus cuts in.
“Go back up the stairs over there and make a right.” Armata says while maintaining his eyes on the Doll, who studies the three in front of her.
(Everyone) “Now we got that outta the way, where can girl get a drink in this dump?” Cyndwella looks up at Armata, which he looked back with a touch of annoyance in his expression.
“I’m sure Marcus can smell out a bar for you....” Again Armata answers flatly.
“Fine, be a stingie shhhhhh-muck.” And again Cyndwella bites her in front of the Doll. Armata then smirks at Cyndwella, amused by her restraint around children.
“Come on, Sam, Schmoopy. I want a gin’n’chicken blood.” Cyndwella turns away from the Doll and heads in a random direction. Samia waves goodbye to the Doll and follows behind her wife. Marcus before leaving to join his wives, looks to Armata.
“Your team has my blood samples. They should have those for you soon.” Then Marcus turns around and rejoins his wives.
Prad has his hands on a piece of armor. Knowing not the origin of it, he simply observes the appearances surrounding it. Being a seasoned courier, holding fragile things such as this is one of the few techniques he can carry without fail.
His back is doused with the weigh of eyes from elsewhere feeding the visions of his spectator. Eyes of things watching...the new arrivals have spurned a bit of curiosity from his violet gazers. They watch them act as they do from afar, ever tethered to both Prad and his 'host'.
Was the young man to turn to where his back is, he would witness the man in the wall at crossed arms watching where the entities known as the hound's cohort walk about. No words, no movement, yet he can feel his watching through thestrange drifters that peered through along him.
(Everyone) An hour passes, Armata stands alongside the Doll as she observes her new room. Suddenly a guard steps into the room.
“My Lord, the blood samples.” The guard holds up a small wooden box containing four viles of blood. Armata nods a takes the box while the guard bows and leaves. The Vampire Lord looks over the box and then to the Doll.
“You stay here, I need to go do something.” As Armata walks out the Doll watches him with a blank expression. Armata walks his way back to his coffin’s room. The cold air in the room serves as a perfect means to keep the blood cold until the group goes to Tepes. He sets the box down in his coffin and leaves the room.
“They should be safe in there.”
(Heads up gentlemen, I’m going to be at a wedding in the next 24 hours. So responses will be very limited.)
Prad's eyes focus still on the gauntlet he carries, eldritch power swelling around it. Within and without. He wanted to wield it, for however short the time would allow him. His frail form, loved under the flesh of metal.
Donning the metal with his borrowed strength is naught but a way to buy him a shape of importance, a delusion from the persistent shroud of loathing burned in his mind, returned since the first step walked among the group of strangers. One further heightened by the presence of the hybrid's court.
Placing the gauntlet around his arm, he feels...relief. A part of him, hidden under a different shape. His violet eyes turn to the rest of the suit, silent.
His arm starts struggling so soon. Mending the ravages of time from an ancient artifact is no easy task, ones inflicted by his very movements. Still... "I know, I know...just this moment...please let me peer from their sights..."
HIs eyes flash briefly, causing the rest of the ancient suit of armor to wash itself under the same yoke. Piece by piece, it seeks the young man as a displaced layer of metal skin.
Under lightning, it wraps itself around Prad, his passive temper overwhelmed with a sense of self-worth. The mask of anonymity burns the current being he really is, replaced by a mighty personage of another time.
He raises his arms, clad in a utterly different state. For but a moment, he was allowed to peer through the sight of another "Haha...haha...hahaha...hahahaha!"
Every movement he makes is ripe with assurance alien to himself "It's no wonder men will construct such artifices! I feel so powerful! I could...".
His hidden gaze mirrored in purple turns to the exit of this sanctum. Violet smoke slowly erupts form the gaps of the forcefully knitted suit. The heat, ignored as his mind ponders the possibilities, the feelings inside this change "This is how he felt, right? To be distant from their words, their tongues...they couldn't hurt the man of metal, neither within nor without..."
(Everyone) Armata eyes dart up to the window and stare the moon, his eyebrows turn inward as his anger grows. He sneers as he clenches his fists, his body bursts to black smoke that trails behind three crimson orbs that flash with power. It unnaturally strides through the sky while guards watch, they know such a display from Armata can only be in rage or urgency.
Guards mobilize and follow Armata’s trail as it streaks through the sky. Within the room stocked with Armata’s work, the windows open slowly and black smoke pours into the room. It churns in from every window in the room, coating the entire floor in the swirling smoke. At the center of the room a figure rises from the smoke and forms into Armata, the smoke across the room slowly being sucked under his cloak until the room is clear. Armata stares at Prad, clad in an armor he was not given permission to.
"Poor child...blind in his belief he had become another individual entirely, based on his removal of identity..." The shadow under his feet stretches to the nearest wall, a black ink dotted with miasma eyes, watching as the smoke that seeps from the gaps begin to take its toll on the young man.
His body is robbed of this 'borrowed' strength, replaced with empty hourglass. The armor starts falling off by itself, to the wearer's dismay "No...no,no,no...no now! Please, I just need a minute...j-just a minute..."
"And now that the mask crumbles under the shattered delusion, he seeks to bargain for mere seconds of illusion, cursing his own sense of self..." Slowly, the armor peels off Prad's cloth, almost as if never worn to begin with, repulsed by the one that wears it, returned to the sender. In this case, the glass container.
He raises his arm, seeking more of this...wrap. Alas, the smoke that so failed to make itself present to him returnes in force, freezing the limb from which it seeps from. He had no control over the borrowed powers of his. He couldn't hope to have it tethered unto himself.
A frail realization as he drops to his knees, his shroud cloaking on his face. The shadow that watched on the wall...now turned behind the lethargic young man, once again in gripes over the thoughts that always clouded his mind.It watches, all aware of the undead Lord's awareness to this "...sorry spectacle"
(Everyone) The doors to the armory slam open as guards rush in with swords drawn, as they assess room they notice Armata looking down on the boy. Immediately stepping to action via their training, the guards rush to Prad pointing their blades to deter him from making any sudden moves. But just as quickly as they react Armata is passing through the line of guards. He approaches the young man and kneels down next to him.
His arms felt heavy from work. His head ached with a dull and constant throb. His hearing muffled from the constant ringing imposed by the arduous work of shaping metal. He vaguely heard the clamor of guards down the hall but a suspicion was all he needed to spring into action.
With his mace in tow The Warden followed behind the last group of guards who made their way into the armory, his height giving him the slightest vantage point to see an armored figure standing before Armata.
Whether out of duty or caring Jorge made his way through the guards and began to position himself between them and the invader.
"Who are you and state your purpose! I would rather not have this mace be both ends of this conversation!"
(Everyone) Armata raises his hand to Jorge, signaling the giant to lower his weapon. The Vampire Lord even looks to Jorge, eye contact so the titan of a man can see what Armata is thinking.
“No Prad, I do not wish you to leave. If I am to win this war, I need every able body that can swing a sword or cast a spell. I wish for your.... ‘friend’ to inform me when he desires to wear my paraphernalia. Otherwise my guards and Warden, as you can see, will be a tad suspicious.”
"This animal casts his crimson dye unto the idle hands removed from the scenery, all too blind to the child's guilt. Blinded by the same reason prying the boy's hands into a machination..."
The words of the shadow briefly peers beyond the place from where it lingers, just enough for Armata to hear. A manifesto of non-involvement in this sudden enrapture. One seen to its confirmation by Prad who barely lifts his head to the lord of the palace "...he didn't do it. Not this time. It wasn't him. That was me...all me".
He lwoers his head once more, a wash of humiliation from the words spoken, undoubtly high enough for those near to hear, just enough.
His eyes relent not from his arms, the acrid smoke long gone form his attire. They do, however, briefly spare a glance at the suit he was tethered with. His voice peers once more, unabated "That time you thought to hear rumors about me wandering by her seclusion, all we did was talk. Picked up conversations about what we did once, what we do now, the profession we carry in our current time".
His head lifts slightly, barely gazing at the suit embedded inside "I spoke of my travels as a courier, with one of the most odd item being a sword of light. One the man of armor may have encountered before. A sword blessed by the one they claim to be the ruler of the divine".
His head is dressed completely to face the glass container "I spoke of its radiance, but ommited the sense of power it wrought unto me. A power not mine, one that always and forever eluded me. This was no singular experience of this strength sleeping in such a weapon...or armor. Every piece I have carried from place to place, I have come to yearn for. Every piece..."
One of his hand seems to be reaching for the case, powerless however "SO many times have I sought a piece of armor. ONe that could erase this frail body of my under its protection. More so than a weapon. The one you, bearer of anonymity, bear at every moment. I wanted to feel the flesh of metal sooth this powerless frame of mine. One devoid of the inhuman resilience you, your undead highness bear. Nor the enchanted armor that you, previous martyr of the Order, carry unto yourself. A frail body, seeking shelter from the thigns that could so easily tear me asunder. Seeing it laying so inertly...so isolated..."
His hand plants back to the ground in anguish over the sensation gone from it. His eyes, hidden by his shroud briefly burns with the violet light that once surrounded him "I wanted to wear it! To be this juggernaut mortal men are not allowed to dream of! To be separated from a fragile body, it was rapture itself...but, it could only last for so long..."
His had falls once more, a soft giggle seeping from his mask "Everything? Simple..."
His head snaps straight at the inert armor, kept in solitude in its glass container "I wanted to play make belief. A man armored in confidence, like you. Like him...A moment where I wouldn't be the first to fall under trivial injuries...So I did. The few seconds I was allowed to become someone else were some of the best moments...until reality struck back...as it always does..."
(Everyone) “Hehehehe.” Armata quietly chuckles. His gaze ever focused on the sullen man, remains as he grabs the boy’s arm and lifts him up. “Prad, I’m a smith. If you wanted armor, you should have inquired about one. I’ve alread crafted Jorge a mighty suit that will protect from wrath of any god. If you would so desire it, I can craft you one as well.”
"Feeding into his delusion, his desperate need to be another? Certainly the least probable of branches to take path to from the decayed man. Is this token borne of altruism, or a need to feed from the worship of a deluded thing he'd call a peon?"
Prad turns to the man, a voice laced in uncertainty. Was it true? Would he really give in and make an armor for him? He wasn't sure, his voice, evident of that "Really? An armor? For me? A second layer for me?...please, do so..."
(Everyone) “Hmmmmmm.” Armata scans over the young man, possibly calculating in his mind Prad’s dimensions. “Yes, doable, but not like that. Perhaps a tighter build, yes. Heavy enchantment.” Armata thinks out load.
“I’m thinking we make a suit tailored to your size Prad. Dropping you into a suit as large as Jorge’s is just unethical and impractical. No, we shall make a suit the fits your dimensions. As well as buff your body to your powers.” Armata grabs Prad’s hand and shakes it playfully before letting it go.
(Everyone) “Althuogh, we have less than a month before the council meeting in Tepes.... the window is tight. The possibility slim..,.” Armata puts his hand to his chin. Deep in thought. “I will need help. From you Jorge, and Xeris. His suit needs to be able to conduct electrical force, without harming him in the process.”
"Enchanted or not a full suit of plate would be counterintuitive seeing as his abilities are based on magic lighting."
Jorge stood motionless in chosen spot his hidden gaze running up and down the length of the aspiring warrior.
"Perhaps if we were to attach a tail that would ground you then the backlash of your lightning would be countered... you would still have to train to move in full plate let alone fight in it. Then there is the time frame."
"If you wish to fight in armor then we will have to start training you now. What is the point of enchanted armor if you cannot move or fight within it?"
(Everyone) “A fair point, Sir Jorge. A suit of armor is worthless in the face of Pramool, if it’s user is not accustomed to it’s like. As well, a tail would also serve incredibly well. It would indeed ground your power. Turning you from a conduit into an outpost. Yes, such a design is feasible.”
(Everyone) Armata grips the young man’s hand and props him up proudly. “Prad, a suit of armor does not make a man notable. The person beneath the armor brings about the worth. You had already shown your worth by agreeing to mission at hand. This armor I will build you, is but a skin. It will never replace you.” Armata stands before Prad, a crimson tower of unbridled power and force.
“The suit, is but a layer to house the man. It can only do so much. But I will craft you one.... Sir Jorge.” Armata calls out. “Would you mind helping create a suitable set of gear for Prad?”
(Everyone) “A plain suit? For yourself or Prad, Sir Jorge? It matters not either way.” Armata looks over to Jorge while walking away from Prad’s side. “If you’re looking for a plain suit, I’d check with the garrison armory. They just might have a guard suit in your size.”
"For Prad. If he would like I would begin his training today. But that is all dependent upon our little warrior over here. Fornication can tell him to do any matter of tasks but whether or not he would do them is another story."
"What do you say Prad? Do you wish to learn the basics of armored combat?"
(Sorry for the late responses guys. Just got home little over an hour ago.)
Armata looks at Prad’s arms and smirks. “Yes, I suppose you could use the coverings and exercise. Head down to the garrison barracks and speak to the armorer. They should have a suit in Prad’s size. That or check with the blacksmiths. I’d recommend speaking to Marcus about training Prad, the mutt does know a thing or two, but he’s.... preoccupied with his wives right now, in their room.”
Jorge let out low murmur his tone bordering dissatisfaction. His faceless gaze dug deep into Prad, scrying the wounds that tattooed his arms.
There was no pity.
There was no mercy.
There was no kindness.
There was only steel. Only the faceless resolve of a jaded warrior. Only the blackened metal of countless battles.
"I hope you understand what you are getting yourself into Prad. I don't want to see you rushing carelessly into battle thinking yourself invincible. We can't be there to protect you at all times you know. If you fall just out of my reach there is no certainty that I would stop to save you. Not with the amount of hostiles we face."
"Exactly..." Well knowing that at this point, his powers would trigger a backlash under the over use, Prad never the less clenches his hands, sending forth a surge of lightning scurrying through his arms. As expected, the bouncing thunder isn't content with merely zig-zagging across, instead licking his arm with back spots being the result of those.
"This is exactly why I'm so adamant about it. This very statement...this uselessness, this fraility everything and everyone sees me in. You think I enjoy being sheltered by larger individuals, having to borrow anything that I carry from?"
The shadow pooled under his feet shapes to the wall, slowly stretching to it with two dim violet dots pertubing the place where a head should be.
"Always having to walk in others' shadows. Under yours, under the sweeping woman, behind lord Armata...indebted to him...I hate it. Compared to a few physical exhaustion, this...this is a deep pain only I bear among this place..."
"You can't understand... you're built within and without...you don't have the worries I foster whenever I ballade behind...you...I, I don't"
The frustration from his inability to word himself, the foremost impediment plaguing the little composure he ever had, once again overtakes his speech, his mind focusing on the least desirable elements of himself brought about by Jorge's words. One of the few individuals calling him out for seeking a an armor of denial...it was much.
A breach manifests in his mind, switching pres nice as Prad once more comes to gripes with what he is. Another voice fills the empty gap "Poor lad, one of his bastions currently lashing at his frail psyche. Alas, you won't be able to convince the boy otherwise, watching your theatrics under your second flesh"
"What? I was not built this way. I was not constructed as some sort of automata. I worked and suffered to obtain my mortal peak. Then when the Order said it was not enough they used their faith and helped me grow beyond that and furthermore when that wasn't enough."
Jorge planted the head of his mace between them and let it stand all on its own.
"You see my armor? It is nothing special you see. Demon silver coated in steel and iron. It keeps their weapons and our own from penetrating. This mace? All steel, all forged and ground by hand and tool. No magic, no runes, nothing but determination and grit. Just like you my power is not my own the only difference between us is I made it my own"
"Of course you did not. Someone as I can see it..." Prad's.ovements become... different, utterly different. The shadow tethered to the wall, hitched to his feet is changed. From an entity seemingly watching the theatrics to another, shorter and f on the back. It's hands are clamped on its head, seemingly at a loss.
"Anyone with a sense for combat can see how genuine the path you tread is. The poor lad can't see it, for he is not versed in crusades as you were. And unfortunately, any longer, qnd this conversation would have seen you pondering his absolute loss at words. This segment about this false sense of worth really jabbed at him"
(Everyone) Armata can feel the tension in the room. For a moment the Vampire Lord pondered leaving Jorge and Prad be, so that he could get started on Prad’s suit, and to the two a moment chat. However he decides to stay a bit longer. The scene playing out before him was showcasing some of the depths in Prad’s character that do not surface.
"Subjcted to individuals of great power, born from nepotism, marked by the artifacts carried throughout his life, never to grasp their full powers. Subjected to the people who boast owner ship, gazing from a height as a king would his subject, seeing naught but contempt. Frail. Weak. Simple. Dull of heart. all of these, he could sense from those he carried their legacy for. A meager peasent in the shadow of mighty entities. Wealthy merchants. Noble characters wanting nothing to do with him.
All up to this...land. The undead corpse's first gaze upon him, one of loathe for the human breath he takes. A shrimp under yet another uncaring entity. The wyrm, short in patience, quick to anger toward his careful footing. The man you identify as a mercenary, unable to bother sensing the lad, as well as his derelict entourage. Those from the damned world he ventured for in another's name, always and forever dismissed... "
It was clear at this point that Prad wasn't exactly himself, speaking form the view of a spectator who had taken interest. The hidding shroud he bear glows in a dim light, veiling the violet tide in his irises "And then, there is you! The one man willing to take the boy under your proverbial wing, looking from a different angle. This spark ingniting in his bosom, one of the very reason he carried himself so far. One will often do much to impress a scarce individual speaking with merit about their person. But now, he request a suit to bolster this...unfortunate demeanor. And the only human beacon he looked up to this point, now scolds him for it, seeing it for the fortress of delusion he seek to cloak himself in, to breath in the anonymity..."
The man who swims in Prad's flesh shakes his head in a mocking dismiss, alluring to a disappointed man without the heart "To think this procedure would have anchored the boy in a better sense of self, but now, it would seem you've actively dashed him in a pit of despair. One that surely will manifest itself in isolation...an improbable branch this chain of events is taking..."
It took him a moment to understand what was occurring and another to think of a plan. Though he wa not sure if what he saw was true or no he would act as if it was and hopefully Prad would hear him.
The knight looked down and away as if ashamed only to face this new development head on. Letting go of his mace Jorge reached for his helmet and removed it revealing to the world the amused smirk beneath.
"Prad does not need armor to hide his body from the world. He needs to first accept himself for who he is. He needs to find out what he is lacking in and work on it or find other ways to compensate not hide behind magical metal in hopes of no one discovering his flaws."
"He needs to work his way to full plate and hone his skills instead of putting it on and getting blindsided due to his fields of view. Or worse exhausting himself and leaving himself worthless for the entire battle."
Jorge placed a hand on Prad's shoulder and gripped him tightly to keep him from fleeing should the thought arise.
"He does not need me or anyone mollycoddle him or give into his demands because he feels inadequate. He needs tough love. He needs discipline and a reason to continue on."
"Prad. I gave you the means to fight back not long after meeting you. I have reason to believe that you have yet to use it. Well here is your chance... earn your armor."
Without warning The Warden threw Prad across the floor sendig him skidding over the ceramic tile.
"Get up Prad! If you cannot stand up in armor you are well and truly dead!"
You wish to see the boy battered and bruised. To see him suffer for his mantle of illusion..."
The toss had by an unknown mean, see that the shroud tethered to his visage is undone, forcing his possessed expression out for the world to see. A visage of placidity...laced sideway with a harrowing grin of a man presented with the psychological humiliation of another "His only anchor now physically seeks trauma from the lamb as well as mental. I can respect that, man of order, although, I warn you, for he is unprepared for the sudden synapse of pain you've just inflicted now..."
The shadow of an anguished man washed on the wall is pull apart by its feet, tanked forcefully at its dismay, back to its genesis as another takes its place, placed underneath Prad's inert body. One that last not as his head suddenly jolt back, as if hsi body had just now picked up on the violent toss "Hrrrk!"
Heavy breathing steams from his nose, somewhat broken, yet not bleeding. Confused and harrowed, he turns to his left, to his right and behind, seeing naught but the man who tossed him "W-what?"
"He has given in to your request, but the task will be bought in pain. You owe him the pain you suffer this very moment and he is not one to walk for his due..."
"What? I...What?" Slowly, the puzzle assembles in his head. The words of his will to get himself sheltered, his promise...
Decrepited, he slowly plants an arm on the tile. Then the other. They stretch as much as battered arms can, lethargic to the feet squirming for a spot to anchor themselves. Groans seep out his replaced shroud as he very gradually straightens his back, to find himself standing. An unprepared toss is a deadly attack, one quick to test his body.
"Good. Now come attack me! Earn your armor and prove to me you are ready for it!"
The Warden, helmet in hand slowly made his way to Prad his expression no longer a smirking grin but rather that of determination and grit.
"If you do not come and strike me then I will come to you and return your unreciprocated resolve with my own. Now charge me! Show me that you can move in that hunk of scrap!"
Whether he saw the shift or not didn't matter to Jorge, he would toughen up Prad one way or another. Whether his standing changed didn't really matter, he was not one to care about what others thought of him anyways.
He doubted he could escape the attack, not without flying no, but he would try but not without retaliating first. With a quarter of his might Jorge threw his helmet at Prad, hoping not to make contact with his head, before running away from the lightning strike and using his planted mace to gain significant lift.
"You think this a game? Fight me with your strength not theirs! Prove to me that you can use it!"
The knight grabbed onto one of the many ornamental ridges that etched the room keeping him relatively safe from Prad's assault.
His body had never been devised to strike a physical blow, nor take much of it. In this case, dodging was easier for the young man, for who taking a sidestep to avoid the siffling helm.
"My strength? I don't...I was never gifted with anything..." Prad's mind spirals into attempting to decipher the meaning behind his words. Surely he can't speak of actual fists, his ineptitude all to evident for anyone with an eye for physical confrontations.
"Then you best present another equal, or risk failing the only one sparing a glance at you.."
(Everyone) Marcus rises from the bed in room he, Samia and Cyndwella are staying in. A cacophony noise disrupted his what little sleep he had gotten. He looks around the room, his eye lids half open and a grim look on his face as he was exhausted. All around the room he and his wive’s clothing was scattered, damage done to furniture and other bits around the room, aftermath of the rough play that was concluded sometime ago.
He shifts his weight in the bed and sets his feet to the cold floor, rubbing his eyes. “Oh, who the fuck is making all the noise?” Marcus stands up and immediately stumbles over a collection of bottles on the floor. Putting on his pants, boots, belt and nothing else, he pulls the blankets back over his cuddling wives, before grabbing his hunting knife planted in the coffee table. He then drunkenly fumbles around until he finds a bottle housing a few good swigs still. With courage and belligerence only a intoxicated man could, he ventures out into the halls, following the noises.
Marcus along the way is an amusing sight for the nocturnal High Class crowd that roam the halls. Some giggle as they watch this muscular man with jet black hair and scruffy handsome features stumble and sway toward his destination, while others shake their in disappointment. Marcus cared for neither or any at all, for he was not here to impress anyone or gain favoritism.
The knight dropped down with a thud, his fists and knees crashing down into the tile cracking it under his heft.
"Well? Come on then! Show me what YOU are capable of Prad! I know you can run away but can you run into certain death?"
Jorge rocked himself back and stood up unnaturally, his weight doing much of the work.
"Prad. Your patron is not the one who will earn you what you wish. You are the one who will wear the armor. You are the one who will fight in it. You are the one who will die in it. You must be able to defend yourself should your patron choose to be fickle with their blessings and believe me when I say this. There will be a day when your patron will grow tired of you and it will be more than inconvenient."
Once more asking for a feat the young man could not produce, while holding something he needed much. He hadn't any word to give, so he keeps himself shut.
Rather, he pulls back the dagger from the ceramic, its charge only now returned, the only piece with which he could muster an attack. A risky tackle, one he was willing to take if it meant erasing his sense of self among the uncaring.
He plants a knee on the floor as well as his hands. Clenching his fist around the hilt of the dagger, he forces ut a spur of lightning from the blade all the way to his feet. His hands as well, already feeling themselve well over the comfort zone. He didn't care all much.
With the lightning radiating from all four limbs, he rushes forward with enough speed to galvanize the floor beneath his feet. The tethered lightning washes over his body, leaving but the glint of the blade as visible. A heart-seeking blade, rushing straight at Jorge with his presence overlapped in pure thunder.
He had no time to think. No time to formulate a plan. He saw the intent in Prad's form and that was enough to to spur him to motion. The knight lunged of to the side and dropped to the ground as he threw a kick aimed for Prad's gut.
Jorge's move was not graceful, far from it. His fall was not clean and deliberate but rather hard and hasty but more than necessary. Every moment was utilitarian had purpose behind it and his kick was not a reaction. No shot of opportunity. No he intended to stun Prad there and now using his strength and momentum against him.
His unexpected gamble wins out. Despite Prad's lightning wrap, it was far from deeply coated in his skin as before, disallowing an actual lightning speed.
The kick, fiercely planting itself against the man's side ribs, sends him on an accelerated tumble against the nearest wall with chunks of lightning falling off him as pieces of metal from a shattered armor would.
Alas, while the kick did send him sideways, it hadn't totally rendered him.out of combat. His cowl had somehow removed itself at the top, the expression of blind resilience etched on his visage.
Smoke erupts from the man's limbs as an aftermath from his failed lunge. Every movement he makes at an attempt to get himself up.compels his m to remain downed. And yet, he couldn't. Not with the prize denied still to him.
He forces himself up, moving more like a wandering corpse with jolts than a human being, waiting...
The knight spun slowly on the ground as a result of the residual inertia.
When he came to a halt the giant slowly lumbered to his feet, his right one limping slightly from the lightning's shock.
"That was a good one! Hahaha! I will admit that I was not expecting that but it is not what I wanted..."
No longer was the Warden rough, no longer did he speak harshly no. He appeared amused, relaxed even. No loner did he demand but rather guided the young man into the right direction.
"I want to see what you can do without your powers Prad! You put put yourself in unnecessary pain doing that! Just fight me asnif you did not have your lightning. Use your fists, your body! We will adjust from there."
Prad’s facial expression is not discernible, blotted by the rupture of smoke condensing out of his skin. He merely...adjusts.
Once more, he finds no strength or will to muster any parole. His mind is made up about this ‘trial’. Nothing more than a public humiliation for him, who knows no physical technique.
He didn’t care anymore...
With a grasp full of smoke, Prad sidesteps to the Man of metal, well aware of his commitment to failure. His mind, filled with the isolation he is to hear behind the armour, as to make up for this...toying.
(Everyone) Marcus shoves his way into the room and scans around while swaying side to side. “Oi, oi, oi, oiiioooooiioooiioi! What the shit is goin on here? Cam hears ya all the ways to ma rooms!” He calls out.
"And whose fault is that Marcus! Mine or yours? Because last I remember you can overhear someone bad mouthing you across a busy room!"
Jorge placed his hand on Prad's shoulder as he shuffled by and held him in place as he yelled at Marcus.
"You did good Prad, just do not rely too much on those powers of yours. They are too much of a detriment to if you want to use the durability of armor. Learn to fight without it and only use it as a last resort. We will make a warrior out of you yet."
His thoughts completed Jorge left Prad to his devices as he strode forward arms out to meet his next challenger.
"Anyone of you wish to test your mettle against the Warden? Come! I shall go easy on you should it encourage you!"
(Everyone) All the spectating guards step back out of the room, but Marcus stays right where he is, albeit a bit wobbly. “As far I am the concerned, it’s yer fault Jorge! I can’t choose the ways I was I born. I’ve always had them heightened senses an shit. What?! Ya piss on eagles cause they fly?!” He jabs a finger at knight.
Armata steps back into the shadows of the armory, his glaring eyes focused on the intoxicated Marcus.
(Everyone) Prad could not leave without passing the belligerent Marcus, which he finds himself facing. Marcus eyeballs the young man with a seasoned vets eye. Even his drunken state he can smell a warrior from a farmhand. He puts out his arm, blocking Prad’s path.
Prad's gaze still is fixated on the smoldering hands of his, currently unfit emotionally to play with the idea of entertaining yet another. He simply pulls up his sleeves to demonstrate the extension of his injuries.
While prone to heal rapidly unlike before, the sensation of charred arms is not an easy pain to bear, which he speak of in a placid voice, devoid of...anything emotive "I am not fit to converse with another..."
His hands...they shake. They keep beating in him, no matter the occasion. The courier punching bag, so to say. His mind had enough of this relentless treatment. Injured and humiliated enough as it is, his thoughts took a back seat to a sentiment briefly rekindled...
They shake, and then they clench, aided by a whisper "Go ahead, this one requires force to understand".
Spikes. Pikes. Around Marcus. Around Prad. From his arms, already smoldering. Galvanized and bleeding lightning, promising further torture later on.
He didn't care.
They burst uncomfortably close to his neck. To his heart. Around his arm holding the young man in place, trembling in a malevolent yearning. "I. Am. Not. In. The. Mood. Nor. The. Will. To. Be. Ragged. Dolled. By. A. Gifted".
"Having one is enough for me. If you wish to add to this loathing, however..." Prad's galvanized arm riddled in spikes gently coils on Marcus' grasping arm. In an instant, they cross the gap from his tortured arm to the hound's drunken hold, awaiting the young man's command. An anthem of detonation, sure to inflict damage from within, quivering as they are.
"...I suffer for the right of bearing armor. A task that you are not rendeing feasible in this twisted attempt at further extending my harrow..."
(Everyone) Marcus does not flinch, nor does he show any sign of concern. His eyes half open, body swaying. He listens to Prad and shrugs.
“Ya know what? You should stop that convoluted shit talkin. You ain’t sufferin, Jorge ain’t no dominatrix. You must be proving yourself? Ah, ah, ah, am I right right? Ya gotta be. Ya know....” Marcus swigs from the bottle he holds. “I could help Jorge teach ya. You’d be a badass in no time.”
(Everyone) “Don’t be lecturing me on breaking shit around here, Jorge. Look at tha!” Marcus points to the massive area of broken marble floor. “Besides, my wives is passed out. Ya can’t wake em until they’ve slept it off. Trust me I knows. And senses when you care about shit around here Jorge?!”
(Everyone) “I ain’t botherin the kid Jorge! I let go of his cloak and I’ve been talkin to yous. The kid is free ta go wherevers. I just came down here cause yous guys woke me up and I wanted to know what was goin on. Maybe ya should pologize ta me and ma ladies.... Oh shit, that’s right. Ya guys didn’t wake them up, ma bad.” Chuckles and looks to his right at a gawking guard.
(Everyone) “Pfft, disturbance. No more of a disturbance then yous guys crashin about. But yeah sure, I’m issue.” Marcus turns around and exits the room, but not before shoving a guard out of his way.
Marcus groggily walks all the way back to his room, stopping at certain points to take a swig and get his barings. After a decent walk he finally reaches the door of his room and turns the knob. He closes the door quietly behind him. The room is dim, a few lit candles paint the room in an orange glow. Marcus shambles to the bed sits. One at a time he removes his boots and eventually his pants.
Grabbing the covers he slides back into bed with Samia and Cyndwella, wrapping his arms around them. He kisses Samia’s forehead and then he kisses Cyndwella’s, which results in the Wisp swatting him in her sleep. Marcus lets out a quiet chuckle and nuzzles into Cyndwella.
“So where were you at?” Samia whispers.
“Ah, I was checking out some noise that woke me up. And now I gotta get up early and help Jorge train some guy.” Marcus whispers back.
“Eh, both of you shut up. I’m sleeping here.” Cyndwella says with one eye open, and then closes it.
Prad walks, walks back to his room, silently. Whatever light around him...dies. Darkness devours the little illumination present, leaving him alone inside out.
"Do you see?"
Prad stops, looking to his left where a wall should be. Instead, the appearance of a man looks back.
"I saw it. The animal, belligerant in its drunken state, toying with you as his...cohort does with him. Was it out of spite? Out of its sicking state? Out of mockery? Whichever it turns to be, the man of metal seemed content watching him do so..."
Prad clenches his hands, a paste of emotion surfacing back as a spark of outrage. Touched by the man in the wall, he feels...shelter.
"I saw your struggle against the man you saw as one to look up to, so easily tossing you to the scrap. And then, the intoxicated animal. Do not worry, I will mold your hands back from what they have inflicted".
Prad lowers his head, slowly returned to his way back to his room, far from all, where he can mend to his arms, by himself.
(Everyone) The smoldering embers in forge of Armata’s workshop glow in the dark room, Armata sits by the forge, and hand playing with his goatee as he stares deeply into the embers.
“How to do it? I need to create Prad a suit of armor, yet his powers are electrical. In a metal suit he’d be a proper conductor, charred in moments. Much like Jorge and his suit. Perhaps I could etch runes into the suit, no. Maybe line the suit with something that is not conducive. How to do this?”
The Vampire Lord rises out of his seat and looks out the window, hands cuffed behind his back.
“Amazing that Jorge managed to get the mutt to return to his room, though I pitty the maids to clean that room.”
His duty done, whatever that may be with a title as vague as Warden, Jorge walked over to his helmet discarded and battered as he was for a time before. As he inspected the wrought metal work for any new marks he could not shake the feeling he was being watched.
Though no stranger to the prying eyes of a certain being she had been relatively silent as of late and that only made him less comfortable. No... he felt as if whatever was watching stood right before him, prying, scrutinizing, judging.
Jorge hurriedly put his helmet back on and pivoted away from the corner he found himself in. Finding comfort in anonymity his mask provided Jorge marched forward the looming presence following him every time he walked into the light.
Alone in his room, once again. This time, of his own volution. Prad takes to the sleeves, the door barred and locked, to act as his isolator from the outside world. He saw what was to be taken form him before the right to bear any armor. He didn't like it, but it is to be, before anonymity.
He tugs his sleeves backward, showcasing his charred hands and galvanized arms, The least wounded of the two takes an aspect of metal around it, coiling. Ancient metal, wrought by thought and ancient designs. Loking forward once more, he sees the man in the wall, watching back from the wall. His arm...had disappeared.
"Your suffering will yield you the erasure from their presence. They will only scorch the surface. You will be hidden form their polluted sights..." The metal hand adorned over Prad's takes to the other, littered with smoke and burns. It passes over it, forcing the injuries out like naught but dust, left to fall and pile on the floor, burned away from the lack of purpose.
(Everyone/transition) Time moved on, and the life of the castle died as all retreated to their rooms for sleep. Torches burn bright in empty halls, the ticking of clocks fill these empty spaces with static noise. Despite the absence of wind throughout these halls the curtains and draperies move as if blown on. Shadows seemed to move and the fires that burn in the hearths, torches and candles burn as if told to do so, never waning.
Guards walk their patrol routes outside. A member of the fabled Nightwatch, clad in a black armor, draped in a black silk and shrouded by a hood, squats upon a spire’s roof, overseeing the castle’s exterior. But watching above them all, was Armata. Ever awake, never asleep, he watches and monitors those that call this place home, even if it is only temporary. The castle an extension of himself, the shadows and the fires....
(Many hours pass)
The sun peaks into the windows of the castle as daily routines are underway by staff of the Covenant.
Did he sleep? Probably, though anyone wandering in his room would find difficulty, seeing how Prad is sitting on the edge of his bed, staring at the outside under the shelter of his shroud. Nothing breaks the silence but the wind leaking from the outside.
His hands had recovered through other means than a visit to the nursery. He sits in a hunched manner, alone with his thoughts. His ears can filter the flicker of the two non-presences in his room, tethered to the two side of the door. Drifters. Waiting for anything to stumble about in their unending twitches.
He took his time to wake. He took his time to rouse himself from the bed. He took his time to ready himself and leave his quarters.
The Warden of the covenant was unusually lethargic on this day. His movements though deliberate lacked the crisp edge he was known for. Be it lack of rest or an uneasy concise none would know other than the mighty Warden was not at his peak.
(Everyone) Light seeped into the slightly parted drapes of Marcus’ room, perfectly beaming on his face. His eyes open but his body is restricted by Samia and Cyndwella, who coddle him like a giant body pillow. The Wardog wriggles himself free of his loving captors which causes them to stir.
Samia stretches with a warm smile on her face. While Cyndwella sits up a scowl. “Oooooooh, for the love of danglin ball sacks! Morning already? I want to go back to bed.” Cyndwella plunges her face back into her pillow.
“Come on Cyndy, it’s to rise and shine.” Samia scoots over to Cyndwella and wraps herself around her Wisp wife. “Up, up, up, up.”
“No. No, no, no.” Cyndwella pouts. Marcus meanwhile readies himself for a day of teaching.
(Everyone) Marcus finishes inspecting himself in the mirror. Clad in all black, his ancient Dragon hide trench coat, his chainmail under armor, his boots fitted with jagged spurs that cling. He runs a comb through his raven colored hair.
“Okay, my ladies.” He kisses both Samia and Cyndwella for an equal amount of time before heading to the door. “I’m off to make a badass.”
“Be patient with him.” Waves Samia.
“Help him find his balls.” Scoffs Cyndwella.
Marcus closes the door and begins his search for Prad.
Helmet in hand The Warden made his way to the dining hall and waited in line as everyone else. Though his position and standing with the lord of this keep surely afforded him priviledges he did little to capitalize on them. In his mundane stupor he blindly served himself whatever breakfast was afforded to him and went off to claim the nearest empty spot he found and before long he found himself slumped over the table his eyes struggling to stay open.
No amount of sugar nor savory foods managed to perk the giant up from his stupor and halfway through his meal he found the darkness encroaching once more and he was uncertain if he could defeat it this time.
(BT) It wasn’t long before Jorge suddenly heard a familiar and tiny voice. “Papa Jorge!” The Knight has little time to react before the miniature Dhampir scrambles into his arms, Imperia striding up behind her. While Layoka is as lovable as ever, Imperia is as ravishing as ever. Looking like a gemstone amongst river rock.
“Good morning, Sir Jorge. How is my favorite Knight today?” Imperia stands elegantly as Layoka squirms around in Jorge’s lap.
(Everyone) Marcus pick up Prad’s scent and follows it like a bloodhound. It isn’t long before he opens the door to the armory. The dark clad warrior looks over the room with a stern gaze that inevitably focuses on Prad. He strides up to the young man stationed in the corner.
“You. You’re the one who doesn’t talk much. Never got your name. I’m Marcus, what the hell is your name?”
(Everyone) “Prad, huh? Not much of a name. No real weight to it. Nothing intimidating, awe inspiring. Sounds more like a country boy’s name.” Marcus sizes up up the young man with keen eye, one that has seen many bleed and die upon a battlefield.
“Out of my respect for Jorge, I won’t start any lessons till he shows.” Marcus begins to pace around, restless. “So what’s your story, guy?”
"Nothing that would bring awe to one like you..." Prad pulls out his dagger and fixes it, makes it the focus of his view, assuming he could see it, considering the shroud hindering any attempt at humanizing him with a glance at an expression.
"I simply carry things from place to place, from the most mundane of mirrors to a holy sword. My travels have brought me here under blurry details and I've embarked on the journey to rescue another from the parallel world along side the man of metal, the dragonite and the one who claims ownership of this place".
(Jester) Marcus crosses his arms and lets his head hang limp, letting out a sigh. “With your lack of personality, I’m not surprised. Every delivery guy I’ve ever spoken to has a story of dropping off a package and getting hit on by a Mamono getting said package. Especially when the delivery guy is young. Older Mamono love young bucks.”
(BT) “Mama Imperia was teaching me about geography and we did some reading!” Layoka said bouncing in Jorge’s lap. Imperia couldn’t help but giggle at the sight of tiny child bouncing in this giant steel clad warrior’s lap while he tries to eat.
“I am doing good as well, Sir Jorge. I figured Layoka was due a reprieve from study, and she insisted we locate her papa. I myself wouldn’t mind seeing you so, how could I refuse her?” Imperia takes a seat across from Jorge.
(Jester) “Them? You mean your clients? Huh, sounds boring Prad. On the road all the time, no rooted spot to stay, no one waitin there to make you smile. No wonder you seem miserable Prad. Ya know, in my hometown of Zahmeria, local tradition when it comes to a guy like you, take him out for a night of drinking and girls. Usually snaps a person out of there stale state.”
Prad wavers his dagger slightly up and down, never diverging his eyesight from it "I don't drink. And one-night stands aren't my thing".
He flips the dagger around, hurling it upward before catching it once more, his voice as monotone as possible. He knows what the man before him wants from him, as it was the last day. Prad had enough humiliation yesterday, he isn't willing to eat up more.
(Jester) “Straight-edger to the core, what is it with kids these days? People don’t live long Prad. Should go out an experience actual fun once in a while, otherwise what’s the point? Might the reason you act like a drip. Whatever kid, to each their own, right?” Marcus uncrossed his arms and started looking over the armors in the cases.
“What’s your deal with Armata? How do you know him?”
Prad sheathes the dagger back to the sccabard, the pinpoint of his stare now unknown "I came here once, when the lord of this palace allowed people to ask questions. I came and asked some. My return to this place is one of debt, though the details have been forgotten to the interims".
"I suppose so, though no man came to me about it. It wasn't about taking anything, but, one of...honor, somewhat. Hearing of the reputation he has, I figured I could do good on that time he spent speaking with someone like me".
(Jester) “Wait, WHAT?!” Marcus shoots Prad an outright shocked look. “Wait a minute Prad. You mean to tell me you’re risking annihilation, simply because Armata talked to you? Geez do you talk to people that little? I mean, I get the honor part. But the fact that you’re here as thanks for him talkin to you?” Marcus scratches his head.
“You’re a strange bird Prad, but a brave one too.”
(Jester) “Hey wow now Prad. Don’t assume I’m like Armata, and to my knowledge, I’m no immortal. I’ve damn near died a hundred times in my life, maybe more. Yeah I’ve lived a long life, but that’s cause I’m an Incubus. My only inherited trait that sets me above humans is my strength and my K9 senses. While I am extremely durable, that also is a benefit of being an Incubus. Ya know for long nights of having a Mamono hump your brains out.”
“I’m not royalty Prad, and I don’t look down on people different from me. Talk to anybody in Zahmeria or Lunalight and they’ll say the same. And listen, if you took offense to what I said last night, don’t. I was just rufflin your feathers. I’m no belligerent asshole, but I will call em like I see em. And if you’re gonna be a brooding bore what hides in the corner, of course I’m gonna take note.”
(BT) “It is 9 in the morning, Jorge. Not late but a bit later than when you usually stir. Now, are you amusing? No, you’re as amusing as river stone. But still I find you quite endearing. Is it so hard to believe that I might want to see you?”
"Well...it's easy to be as such when everything and anything has been outclassing you from the beginning".
Prad takes a head shift and even though his eyes are still masquerading under his shroud, there is no mistaking that he looks back at Marcus "You state to be of no royalty, yet the dialogue jousts indicates your upcoming from a feared entity. You speak of having no tithe, yet one of your cohorts is a revenant of the sand continents, adorned as queen. You speak of mundane life hold, but those who accompany you would not allow it, for their very being demands more. So you bar yourself in strength a 'weasel' such as I couldn't dream of and senses far ahead of average individuals".
Prad turns from him once more, this time looking down, judging by his shroud "I know because he tells me of these. One formed under an heritage that easily sets him above mere mortals, capable of entertaining the owner of the palace. You are everything I am not. You do not need to fear and distance yourself from the rest of those present as I do. If anything, they walk carefully around you rather than the opposite..."
(Jester) “If you consider Pramool royalty, then I guess I am. But me, I don’t feel that way. Pramool is a REAL monster. Now as for my wife, Samia, yes. She is a Pharaoh but have you stopped to think why she lives with me in Lunalight and not in her pyramid surrounded by servants? Her home was taken from her. When we first met, I was a sellsword. She had recently awoken from her slumber and hired me to be her bodyguard as she explored the world after being asleep so long.”
“Together we traveled to many countries and places. When we got back, a radical Order general named Conrad Wulf laid waste to her home, and killed her servants, who she loved like family. So don’t assume she isn’t humble. Now my life. Yeah, my wives keep me busy and we know how to have fun, but that is mundane in comparison to the excitement of the battlefield, Prad. I’ve been in so many fights and I don’t want to anymore. I want to live quietly, raise my daughters, be there for my wives, party with my friends.”
“But every time I put my feet up, something always pops up and I have to go back to the field. Just take my word for it Prad. Yeah, I a tough bastard, but I ain’t no puffy shirt lord. Don’t focus on my company or my keep. Focus on me and how I treat you. If looked down on you, I wouldn’t agree to help you.”
“I guess...” Prad’s voice takes on a different branch, one somewhat unsure of what to think of things right now “You weren’t speaking in this manner...Would you be trying to goad me, I wonder? With you speaking of my placid statement...”
"Then I suppose I will have to see whether yesterday was but a lapse...or a call from his words". Prad puts a hand on his back, his voice returned to the placid state "I suppose I am as ready as I'll be for the trial of suffering".
Prad moves from the wall, walzting to the center of the room "The audience from yesterday seemed to contradict your words. Let us get this over for everyone to get their 'jolly' form this..."
He pulls, in a swift motion, the dagger from behind him, swinging it once or twice before it returns to its scabbard, his ears, ever bristled in continuous use. The man in the wall stands behind Marcus, hidden as ever to all but Prad "This one speaks in rash and pretend for it to be gateway to honesty. He hides his deception under the allure of bluntness. You are a lamb to him, as he is a plaything to these things he carries with him. One of sand, one of spectral".
(BT) “Cause I love you papa!” The Dhampir wraps her arms around Jorge’s neck and buried her face.
“Hmmmm, I think that’s all the explanation you need, Sir Jorge. As for me, I intend to turn you into my esteemed bodyguard. Have protect me from spoiled princes and noble boys looking to profit from wedding me.” Imperia elegantly waves her hand.
"I'm afraid I cannot pin point to what you mean. I am lacking in the extrasensory apparels, but the lord of this palace had spoken of his essence washed over this place. Perhaps it is him you feel?"
Prad couldn't 'feel' it. He could see it. A grayish phantom bestowing an intrigued stare at the man who turned on himself. Or perhaps he was not, his helmet hidding any features.
"Curious. This...animal has limited senses to peer beyond the immediate. How ironically far sighted for one mired in fruitless endeavors. I bestow surprise at the fact that his intoxications had not numbed whatever little peering abilities he had".
(Jester) “No, it ain’t Armata. I know that bastard’s presence, been experiencing it for years. No, this is different.” Marcus turns around. “It’s like a cold spot in the room. The sensation you get when someone is following you.”
"Really? That's...strange. I doubt it'd be someone hostile, considering he would have sensed it".
"How intriguing. His senses somehow peer through this mix of horrid escorts and intoxication. This animal's progenitor...the one they're trying to resurrect from the grave, an entity knitted to the primeval noctura, yes? A beast kin family..."
The man in the wall walks away from Marcus's back simply to gaze at his front "It is no wonder that such an ancient set of cognitives senses would persist into offsprings, though human ones wouldn't be able to feel something is here, and not here. What mold was used to make this abonimation manifest?"
(BT) “Oh please, Sir Jorge. Should you do well and rid me of all the spoiled young men that bang on my door, I’ll just rely on my gallant knight to dance with me when I feel lonely.” Imperia plays with her hair for a moment.
(Jester) “Tch, even humans have the sixth sense Prad. If you do not feel it, fine. But I do, and I don’t like it. Times like this, the senses of a beast is a curse. To be able to hear, smell and feel the presence of those you can’t see.”
(BT) Layoka laughs and holds tight to Jorge’s arms as she is hoisted higher than most any child by her giant father. Imperia watches with a smile, humbled and moved by the portrait worth scene before her. But her smile fades as she remembers what Jorge has said to her about the future he wants.
"I can imagine..." Prad speaks these words in a melancholic empathy, his shrouded eyes watching the shapes dancing about. Two dark, drifting int he bowels of this place as derelicts.
The third one, prancing about around Marcus, ever more curious "A beast that curses its own senses? How peculiar. Monsters are not known for regretting the tools with which they butcher the likes of us. Yet this one feigns lament at its own powers. I think it curses its senses too dull to fully peer beyind the gaps..."
(Jester) “Can you? Can you imagine being aware of so much around you that sometimes it’s hard to sleep at night? Or knowing that you’re directly related to the patriarch of death? Yeah, imagine is all anyone can do. Me? I have the curse of knowing.”
Marcus' words paint into Prad's view, twisting them...
From above, his sight count the impromptu change in the air's color, from a neutral ambience to a rust shade. A harsh congregation of rust colors. With them, comes the smell. A smell of iron imbued in choking smoke. The wall have disappeared under his violet sight, replaced with a lightless dark. Gravels and mountains scratch the heavens behind.
From the middle, the winds turn more hostile, swirling around the man named Marcus as jagged make-belief of hands grasping at his very person. Hands of desceased, hands of forgotten. Whispers of misery, of accusations and scowling vengeance, all directed at him.
From under...skulls. Piles of skulls stretching form under his feet. Mountains, made of the grisly remains, all washed in the rust red. Some intact, some crushed. Other silent, other speaking in whispers. His feet clamp over a small piles, all moaning in dark misery. Blaming him for the sins of the father.
A horrid picture amidst others that have haunted the young man ever since his arrival. From Armata's dark sky of crimson corpses to the heavens, to Imperia's cell-like glitter of gold hindering the hanged men, to the young Layoka's inexperience twisted into sadism, forever feeding on fresh desceased smeared in their own lifeforces, piled up on one another.
Visions, cursed visions of a primeval entity currently standing behind him, feeding the young Prad what he sees in them. "Trust me..." he speaks, his voice dampened by a tone washed in all-too familiarity in this sort of event "I can imagine...how it's like..."
"This one places the blame of the dead for its beast progenitor, ever so blind to its own bloodlust. Literally blind to the heap of corpses its family has manifested over its life, piling up under its feet. Is that what you fail to see, animal?"
(BT) Layoka plops into Jorge’s lap and she looks up at her father quizzically. Imperia sighs and rises out of her seat. “Sir Jorge, Sir Jorge? Wake up, you are falling asleep. Guards, help me move him to his room.”
Armored guards from every direction and work to lift Jorge. It takes more than 8 men to lift Jorge up and cart him back to his room. Once there, Imperia dismisses the guards and looks over the armored giant now laying in the bed.
“Mama, what’s wrong with Papa?” Layoka tugs at Imperia’s dress.
“Nothing sweety, papa is just tired. Please wait outside a moment.” Imperia pets Layoka, before the Dhampir does as told. Imperia goes to work removing each of Jorge’s armor pieces, struggling the most with his boots. Finally Imperia stripped Jorge down to his basic tunic and trousers. The Vampiress let out an exhausted sigh as the work was over. But then she took a moment to look at Jorge.
Her Vampiric eyes scan his ever contour and definitions. She could not help but get closer by the second. Taking in more than the sights, Imperia took in the scent and got even closer.
“I don’t want spoiled boys, just one good man.” She said quietly. The Vampiress thinks about it, the temptation great. To bite Jorge, taste his blood, know him the way only a Vampire could. “I’d be just a little bite....” Imperia stops shy of Jorge’s neck and pulls away.
“No, not unless he allows it. Why must I be attracted to the stubborn ones?” Imperia sighs.
The knight was not roused by Layoka's or Imperia's gentle words. Nor was he jostled awake by the guards who carried him to his room. Not once did he murmur when Imperia removed his equipment and lingered around him.
He was defenceless. Whatever dream that held him in its clutches would not let go. Would not release the knight from his blissful slumber. Whatever held onto him made him smile.
Jorge visibly relaxed his muscles and his body sank as a result of this new nirvana he found himself in. Whatever reality he found himself in must have been heaven for never had Imperia seen him smile so fully and genuinely before.
(BT) Imperia raises an eyebrow in surprise of Jorge’s sudden display of comfort. Not wanting to disturb Jorge, she places a blanket over Jorge and leaves the room. Leaving the room and stepping out into the hall, Layoka waits.
“Mama, what’s wrong with papa?” Layoka looks up, confusion in her eyes.
“It’s Nothing Mica, papa is just tired. Let him sleep for now.” Imperia takes the child’s hand and walks her back the room where they studied.
(Everyone) Armata sits in an unassuming chair within his workshop, his crossed, his right hand playing with goatee, his eyes staring at a blank sheet of paper. The Living Doll sits on the desk, her legs dangling off the side, swinging back and forth.
“An armor for Prad.... Shouldn’t be too heavy, something he can move in, while keeping him protected. The trick will be his parasites power. I can not have Prad bring ruination to his arms during this fight. How to protect his arms, without disrupting his power output....” Armata looks to the Doll as he thinks.
“I don’t suppose you have any ideas?” He’s asks while letting his leg drop to the floor, his boot making a thud as it lands. The Doll looks at him blankly and shrugs. “What about you, little one? You haven’t even a name?”
Jorge took in a deep breath, his senses overwhelmed with the smell and taste of milk and honey. He opened his eyes and was greeted with unending cream that made up the sky. About him an ocean as white as the sky. He did not want to leave its embrace, he did not want to leave its warm comfort but he knew why he was here. He knew why he was summoned.
The knight sat up and began to walk waste deep, unhindered by the milky substance around him. His every step he took kicked up more warmth and scent driving him to continue onwards until he came upon a woman laying upon the ocean as if it were a bed.
(Jester) “Dah, maybe.” Marcus scratches his head and looks around. “Daaaaaaaah! Come on Prad, let’s get to work.” The Wardog marches out of the armory, gesturing Prad to follow. The two of them get directions to a training yard, and follow said directions until they reach it. A regiment of guards are hard work practicing formations and commands as Marcus and Prad arrive.
“Oi, who are you two?” The drill instructor points a finger at them. The instructor was an older man with a giant scar that runs across his face. “Can’t you see we’re workin here?”
“The same goes for us.” Marcus approaches with an uncaring attitude.
Prad remains quiet, merely watching the two while going for a somewhat open set of space. Silent in his steps, he goes, waiting for further instructions.
His shrouded eyes pick up the unsightly miasma of gray sitting by the fence "What an unfortunate time for the smith of novices to be tolling at his profession. His refusal to bow to the animal will surely bring harm to his side..."
(Jester) “Oh yeah, who’s ‘us’? You and the runt over there? Don’t make me laugh. I busy training The Castle Guard, that’s more important.” The instructor scoffs.
“Armata thinks differently. I’m Marcus Jaghund.” Marcus crosses his arms. The drill instructor as well as his men all shift in demeanor and body language, the mere mention of Marcus’ name switching their attitudes.
“Sir Jaghund, I apologize Sir. I did not know it was you. Lord Armata notified us that you were an esteemed guest. Please, the yard is yours. COME MEN, the yard is occupied! Move out!” The guards all fall in line and march out, the instructor saluting Marcus and leading his men out.
(Jester) Marcus does nothing but stare until the guards are all gone. He then turns his attention to Prad and slowly steps into the center area of the yard, stopping in front of Prad.
“Ok, now that you don’t have a regimen of soldiers watching you, let’s get started. So you want to wear a suit of armor. You’re a bit scrawny for that. While Jorge’s a better teacher in that regard, but when it comes to strength, I’m top dog.” Marcus walks up to Prad.
“Prad, lose the hood. If I’m going to train you I need to see your eyes.”
"Hahahaha....! He seek the ocular recipients. The gateway to the soul".
"Of course..." Prad reaches for his shroud, complex in layers of wool and silk. One by one, he peels them backward, each peel giving a little more of his natural pigmentation. Caucasian. Brown hair, marroon eyes.
A mask remains embedded on his lower jaw, from the nose to the chin. A mask of metal, over in ratio by silk. A surprise to nobody, Prad's expression of the eyes remain as dull as his voice has been since a while ago, once more refreshed of the tasteless tone "I am unsure why you seek to meet the eyes..."
(Jester) “You can tell a lot about someone by their eyes. So much information can be gained at a single glance. In a fight, information counts just as a much as your sword. If you can read your enemies, you can destroy them. I need to see your eyes so I can gauge the kind of man you are.”
"Then there isn't much for you to see. I am no warrior" Prad speaks in his monotone voice, the facial expression reflecting this shade of gray. His ears reflect the words of the gray man watching this display, cautionary threads "Indeed you are not. He is gifted in clos range killing, you are not. Your frail status will offer nothing to this animal. The only herald you have, the placid lines that fall off your exposed cowl".
Sitting up from her aquatic chambers the dainty woman reached her arm out to Jorge gesturing him to take it.
"For now? I merely ask that you aid me out of bed."
Gently Jorge took the hand of the goddess and provided her support as she pulled herself up, the creamy ocean following suit and engulfing them both. The Warden simultaneously found himself both beneath and above the waves of this land, the taste of milk and honey filling his soul with every breathfull.
"Do not be afraid dearest champion, had I wanted to drown you I would have done it while you slept and made it relatively painless."
"That is not very reassuring you know. I do believe that I am asleep or at least in some state of unconsciousness."
"The former is correct dearest champion. But I do not bring you here to have you meet your maker, not permanently at least. No... I have called you here to ask about the one. The father of the true enemy."
"What of it? Do you ask me not to fight so it may overwhelm the Mao? Do you ask me to forfeit the world for your personal vengeance?"
"No dearest champion. I could not in good conscience ask of such a thing but there is one thing for certain that I require you to do before that fated day."
(Jester) “Yeah, I can see that. But we’re going to fix that. Me and Jorge, whenever he wants to show, are going to toughen you up a bit. If you’re going to wear a suit into battle you need to conditioned for it. So let’s get started.” (Cue training montage)
After finding Prad a set armor that fit? He and Marcus trained relentlessly all day. The Wardog put the young man through every exercise he could think of, running, jumping, squatting, even one-on-one sparring. All in an effort to ready Prad for armored battle.
As the sun began to set, Prad’s sparring sword clashed with Marcus’ and the Wardog stepped back. “Ok, think that’s enough for one day Prad.”
The young man’s face, half hidden by a mask, had remained placid, an unchanged expression. One that seemed to bank on a will of unhindered endurance. One continuously stared by the third presence behind comments of his ‘skill’ ”You are really do defy the abomination with Nonexistent prowess...a sad display if not for your sheltered strain behind the mask of idle passivity”
(Jester) Marcus turns from Prad and walks to a weapon rack not far off, taking some swings at the air with the sparring sword in his hand. Setting the sword into the weapon rack, Marcus turns back around to Prad.
“You did good today Prad. Being in a suit of armor didn’t seem to bother you that much. Just wait until that Vampire gives you a tailor made suit just for you.”
"Yes...soon enough, they'll feed you with that self-worth sentiment of isolation from the outside world. Far form harm, be it physical or psychological...from the likes of this one animal in particular..." The man in the wall stands not far from Marcus, watching him do his theatrics of motions.
Prad's eyes turn back to their neutral state, unmoved "I suppose. It'll be a fruit for me to earnestly savor once it comes". He goes, walking for the weapons' rack to sheath the false sword back.
All were oh so familiar to the Warden as he entered Armata's private forge. He made no effort to hide his movements. No effort to hide his trespass. He strode confidently to Armata in the forge and looked over the monster as he worked.
"An idea has come to me in my slumber. Perhaps we could mitigate Prad's lack of skill with an armor that would compensate for his percieved weakness. Perhaps we could bring life to his armor and allow them to care for each other?"
(Jester) “I suppose so. Well I don’t know about you but I think it’s time to head back, my wives must be gettin restless.” Marcus starts to walk away from the training ground. “Maybe tomorrow we can get Jorge to join us.” He shouts to Prad as he leaves.
(BT) “You mean create a Living Armor? It could be done easily, however that would be something to ask Prad about. After all, he’s already got a companion, one that isn’t fond of us.” Armata sets down his hammer and removes his gloves. The Vampire Lord is an attire completely unseen for him. He was wearing a simple white tunic, black pants and boots.
"Aye... what do you mean he already has another companion? That event last night."
Jorge brought his arms up in a thinking pose and began to pace around the working vampire.
"So he was not just temporarily insane... Heh. I guess it is not that difficult to believe such a boon could happen to others. Where is the young man? Surely you, the lord of this domain knows where he could be found."
(BT) “When I last inquired he was heading to the training yards with the mutt. They’ve been exercising all day, preparing Prad for armored confrontations. The mutt has recently entered the castle, so they My be adjourned for the day.” Armata doused the searing metal in water before heading to his desk where the Doll sits quietly.
“Jorge, Prad’s body is host to a malevolent spirit, one that callously shrouds him in darkness. The spirit takes control of Prad at will. When that happens Prad is gone, unreachable. That spirit could very well decide one night to possess Prad and have the young man commit murder. The only possibly staying his hand is the mutual need we all have. Best you watch yourself around. Prad is harmless, the spirit, is another matter entirely....”
The young man walks back by himself. Well, as much as he can afford, his steps permeated in a shivering presence. Misleadings for the man named Marcus. The thing he spoke of, the man in the wall. He didn't sense him. He sees him. Dancing about around him whenever he wills. 'Feeding' his sight with unsightly vision.
Right now, however, his mask of unmoving expression is a wordless speech of a man lost in his footing. The nurse's touch had long evaporated and once more, he find himself on a tiny isle, amidst dangerous waters. Silence and the void of expression, his perserved solace...
(BT) Armata pulls the chair out from the desk and seats himself. The Vampire Lord pours himself a glass of wine, swirling it in his hand for a moment before taking a sip.
“I do not trust that apparition anymore than I can touch it. But it’s scruples, demeanor and reservations are not Prad’s. I can not condemn Prad for a vengeful spirit leeching off him. I will make Prad his armor, and it will be master-class, same as the one I forged for you. He deserves something for tolerating that parasite spirit.”
“After all.” Armata looks at Jorge. “I have just as little reason to trust you when this is all over, as I do Prad and Marcus, yet here you are. Excepting my gifts, eating my food, drinking my liquor, enjoying my hospitality and making my subordinates question my judgement.... Any other Lord would have washed their hands of you, of the mutt, of Prad. You’re all watering down my credibility amongst my subjects.”
“So why do I persist in this endeavor to keep you lot around, you maybe wondering? Is for the fight? Yes, in large, it is. But there is another reason, just as important. Because I respect you lot. Very few have such from me. I respect what I’ve seen you all do. Sometimes respect, is greater than kindness.
Prad remains at his room, sheltered from any presence save for the spectator. His time is spent pondering. The man who claimed to seek bolstering his physical training for the right to bear armour. It’s is a first for the young man to hear someone else hating their genesis.
“Usually, people are joyous to be blessed with power a scarce few will dream of. But he hated it. Did he walk through the same harrow?”
"Have I truly been that disrespectful? HAHAHAHAHA!"
"Why have you not told me this sooner? Had you voiced your concerns I would have done better to stay my tounge and done my best not to question you, I am certain that I meant no harm. I believe that I was just offering a second external opinion that you may or may not have thought about."
"How long have you known of this event? Was my rescue from the forest a planned event or simple happenstance?"
(BT) Armata pinches the bridge of his nose and exhales. “No, Jorge. You have not been disrespectful. I dare say you’ve been more respectful than most of my mortal acquaintances. My subjects distrust you because of your past, and I can not hold them at fault because I know of your desires.”
“You’ve never stopped being loyal to your sky woman. Thus you could never remain loyal to me or this Coven. Everyday I let you strut about is a day my subordinates question my judgement. They all converse, they all question. ‘Can you be trusted?’ ‘Is he a spy.’ So on and so on. Most think you will in time lead the Order here, and burn all that stands, kill all that draw breath....”
“With your obsession to lay waste to the progenitor of Mamono kind, via your boon, I’d say their suspicions are justified. If your mistress told you to put to the stake, all Mamono, could you refuse her? Could you decline her whims?” Armata shifts his gaze to Jorge.
"Hmm..." Prad ponders some more. Curiosity clouds his mind, questions to ask, but to stoke for the moment. Part of him now sought the man once more, perhaps tomorrow. At the moment, he recalls the same claiming to be busy. Or perhaps not...
"Seeking to question the animal, are you?" the glacial voice shivers around the room, the man in the wall veiled behind a...wall "You seek to see the genesis of his misery. But you don't know whether this abomination is tolling around his...escorts. Do you seek the answer to this querry? I shall oblige. The scent of misery stroking the dog hybrid is indeed a unique one".
Non-existence stares at the man and his surroundings, specifically the two nearby. A vision tethered back to Prad, who at the sight of the man being alone, hops off his chair. An act easily overseen by the literal man in the wall "The querry is by himself, without the detestable cohort of his. You should consider acting at this very moment, or see it lost".
Prad moves from his room, walking through the halls. Having seent he place at least once, he had a rough idea of its emplacement. Soon enough, hidden by his shroud, he sits by the man's left flank in silence. Barely turning, a slight tone of curiosity creeps in his voice "I didn't forsee that you would enjoy much time by yourself".
(Jester) Marcus jolts as Prad speaks up, the Wardog being lost in thought dulled his senses to all around. “Gods damn guy, you shouldn’t sneak up on people like that....” He takes a moment to process Prad’s comment.
“I love my wives. Love them so much I bemoan my station for them. But even gotta get some personal time no and again. Does a soul good to drink in lone thought.”
(Jester) “Many people are jackoffs, Prad. How many people you know are a grandchild to the ultimate being of destruction? Being one ain’t no walk in the vineyard. Yeah I got abilities, but I also have the inherent beastial instincts of my lineage. It can take control of you, turn you into something you’re not. Real fucked shit.”
A surpring chord struck in familiarity in Prad. One quick to manifest itself as the man in the wall utters commentary "Would you observe the intended individual? This one thinks in human tones, when so afar from our kind. The only thing worse than a beast, is a beast hiding in wool".
"And what am I to do about that? I have not told anyone about any devotion, I have not done anything to suggest that I still followed their orders or beliefs."
Jorge walked around the forge until he came upon a seat which he brought back near Armata so he could take a seat.
"What makes you believe that I am still beholden to her will? I do not pray. I do not sing litanys of her glory or anything that would imply devotion. Or is my simple reluctance to bed someone proof enough?"
(BT) “Bed someone? Jorge, I do not question someone for such things. I know of Imperia’s growing fondness for you and can only assume she attempted intimacy at some point, but you had a lover before. Perhaps you still hold loyalty to her, just as I have not moved pass Deidre.”
“Jorge, your past is infamous around here. And that makes many nervous and untrusting. I myself do not share their concerns, but I must also not rule out possibilities that you may still hold old allegiances.” Armata pours a glass of wine and sets it before Jorge.
“Now then, while I would prefer you stay on as the Covenant’s warden, it is ultimately your decision alone. Just know, regardless of the short sightedness of populace, you always have a home and purpose here. As for Imperia, she is a hopeless romantic, Jorge. You must understand that she is not familiar with love or the comfort of a man. Her entire life her parents raised her to the model of perfection in the Vampiric community.”
“Elegance, beauty, posture, intelligence, problem solving and decorum. She was never allowed to meet with boys or play with friends, all the way until she was sent here, to be put to good use. She longs for companionship, but she will offer hand to just anyone. Now the suitors are surrounding her and none fit the bill. Well, it seems except for maybe you. Though I have my reservations on that.
(Jester) “It is possession, in a way. But it’s not like somebody is pulling my strings. My father told me, along time ago when he had his boot on my throat....” Marcus points to the exact spot on his neck with his cigar. “You’re born of the Hellbeast clan, deep down you have the same instincts as we do. There is an animal in your gut, gnawing and fighting to escape. All you have to do is rattle it’s cage.’ I haven’t forgotten those words sense.”
The man in the wall mimicks the sitting art on Prad’s other side, once again offering insight on this revelation ”This one’s progenitor must be disappointed to see it’s abomination of a spawn so restrictive of its nature. I wonder what winds of fate must have carried this creature’s mercy toward a defect offspring”
(Jester) Marcus brings the cigar to his lips, and inhales deeply. Prad can see the tip of the cigar burn bright as air is drawn through it. He then pulls the cigar away.
“Very unwanted....” Marcus exhales, a large cloud of smoke bellows out from his mouth. “It’s an inherent instinct I can’t take away, but fortunately I’m blessed with four goddesses who spoil me and three daughters that adore me. They’re the reason I’m happy to be alive. They’re the reason why the beast slumbers.”
"Though I know my words and actions may not reach the masses they will surely reach you. I do not take my duty as Warden lightly and thus my allegiance to this covenant is set. Though my title may be removed and privileges cast aside as the Warden I will return to defend this place should need be."
The Warden placed his helmet over the glass then as if to prove a point brought his gauntlet down upon it scratching the blackened metal.
"I will defend this place until I am asked to leave it rot by you or any future leader. And as of now no power has the ability to make me rescind my duty. I will make no attempt to hide my past for I fully accept what I have done and should they judge me for it... then so be it. I will be you Warden for now and I will put up with whatever burden or misgiving that title bears me. Be it man or monster."
The shivering sensation that Marcus had sensed before, one plunging beyond the material plane, shimmers once more. Though he couldn’t exactly pin point the source, Prad could.
A cacophony of alien laughter erupts from the primeval entity known as the man in the wall, his voice bordering on the extreme with prad as his only audience ”A Monster pretending to b strengthened by affection?! What a mountain of pretentiousness from this animal! Ohh, lamb, I must thank you for this pathetic spectacle displaying before our eyes. I didn’t not think another mistake of nature would be so self pitying enough to try and attribute human emotions on itself, as if it makes it one of us! How miserable must one be to outright deny one’s genesis?!”
Prad nos as husband platitude briefly shifts to a tone of empathy “Love, yea. I get it. Really underestimated force”
(BT) “Return to defend this place? Would you now? I wager Imperia will make up conflicts just to get you to return. What of Layoka, will you be taking her with you, when your business is concluded here.?”
(BT) “What she knows is none of my business. And I will refrain from involving myself further in such a matter. Imperia grows fonder of you, and many would kill for that. But do as you will Jorge....” Armata gets out of his seat and places a fresh sheet of steel into the inferno.
“As I’ve mentioned...I’m no special individual. Naught but a courier who hasn’t been for a good while, really...”
Prad quiets down for a moment, his voice returned under a different tune “You are right, man named Marcus. I’ve nothing for I but forgotten times. Which is why I play on those words with such reverence. For when someone who could be as far from mundane set their eyes on a blank state...the Colors they can convey...”
Prad lifts his head “Well, it’s been a while since I’ve had a time unaccounted for words. I’d gladly pay a tithe of unending march for a year if it means just a night in her presence...”
The Warden looked into his helmets eye slits and contemplated his current situation and any future plans he had. Imperia, Layoka, could he truly keep them around? Could he truly be trusted to take care of them as Armata wanted. Did he want tu carry such a burden?
Pushing these thoughts away Jorge donned his helmet and stood from his seat and looked to the door.
"I will go look for Prad and ask him about the living armor. Should I bring him here?"
Prad's head lowers back to its original pose, well aware of the man's listening "A nurse, from here. Unmade the injuries from the flesh in my fingers, and palms. Someone with an unsurprising amount of admirers. Under a clarity of night, she extended her hand to mine, so we may wander in her domain in the midst of a festival where, I had a taste for culinary I've not taken for a time. And then, respite in her household, a place that a palace couldn't hope to compare in my eyes. We spoke the night away..."
(Jester) Marcus puffs his cigar and takes a drink. “Then you do have somebody special. Why the hell are you here chatting with an old dog, and not surrounding yourself with her? What, you want some advice on women?”
"Assuming I somehow survive the other border from which the man of metal and mister Armata pulled you, his adjuvant and the young one out. I would prefer not making pretenses then die on the doorstep next day..."
Prad slightly turns to Marcus, shroud still hindering "Unfortunately, I do not bear the agumented resilience and strength as you do, nor the regeneration of the lord. Or even the martial arts of the man of metal. I have no delusions about my survival probability nor do I wish to drag her in this abyss of a withered futur..."
(Jester) “Spoken like an asshat. Prad, you’re obviously a nice guy to be thinking of this girl in such a way. But in my opinion, this bullshit is all the more reason for you to pursue her. Allow yourself to feel something and experience it. If you do, you got something to come back to.” Marcus bellows another cloud of smoke, looking at a portrait above the bar.
“You’d be surprised how much a woman can motivate a man to do the impossible....”
(Jester) “Listen.” Marcus sighs. “If you like that girl, you should persue her. Even if you don’t make it back you should still try. Don’t leave her wondering ‘what if’. Prad, I ain’t gonna sit her and jaw your ear off on the subject of girls. I’m just saying to you, that if I were YOU, I would seize the opportunity and give myself a reason to return. Don’t let yourself be ruled by ‘ifs’. It’s not healthy for a person, even less so a young man.”
“You think it’s any different for me? I have four wives and three daughters. You think it isn’t difficult for me to say goodbye to them before shit goes down? But I sack up and do it anyway because I refuse to sit back. I’m not going to wait for Pramool, I’m going to him. Even if my loves disagree.”
Jorge spent the better half an hour in his search of Prad. He could have asked the busy people who made their way up the halls but Armata's words stuck to him like a stain.
Perhaps it would be best not to bother them with my presence. He thought as he continued down the halls of the grand keep. Perhaps I am not as beloved by the layman as I thought. Heh. But who could blame them... after what I have done the should be wary to give me a wide berth.
Just when he had almost began to get annoyed Jorge spotted Marcus and Prad in the distance, the two having a decent conversation from his end.
"Perhaps I should wait for them to finish? I does not seem that they are at odds with each yet. Besides my task is of no great importance."
Slowly the knight approached the two trying not to make his presence known. Only catching the last part of of Marcus' retort to Prad.
(Everyone) Marcus looks over his shoulder hearing the clanking of Jorge’s thick armor. “No different than a tank walking into an art gallery....” The Wardog swivels in his seat to face Jorge, a large cloud of smoke escapes from Marcus.
“So, big man Praetor shows at last?” Marcus changes the subject, so that Prad can reach his own conclusions. Focusing on the armored titan, Marcus smirks. “Oi, good to see you big guy. Missed you at the training yard today.”
"No, nothing important..." Prad quickly speaks, his thoughts mosty occupying his attention. He couldn't see the path branching off to two distinct ways: one being the indulgence of her company, sure to illuminate his life once more...at the cost of an unbearable sorro should he really pass away.
The other, forgetting. Walking away, to drift as he always did, to spare her the pain of loss. One that would further drift him astray, with naught but another as company...his company...
"I would say that is a noble decision... does Prad have a significant other? I am not to aware of his personal life save for what little he told me on the other side."
"Say Prad." The knight began as he shifted past Marcus. "I came here specifically for you. I believe that I have found a way to compensate for your lack of proficiency in armor."
"In my downtrodden state I came to ponder and an idea struck me. Instead of forcing you to adapt to armor combat we could have the armor attune to you. What I am saying is we bring the armor to life and have it attune to you so as to keep you from struggling in combat."
Prad's thought are brought in backseat at his proposition "Like...a living armor?"
His heart, as muffled as it is behind his set of cloth, skips a beat loud enough for anyone with the most basic of heightened senses to hear. His placid voice briefly charges with the anthem of dread, one poorly masquerading as a dismissive response "I...I don't know...I don't know whether this is something advis---possible. I mean, what spirit would want to..." His words lose power, beheld by the shock of this proposition.
"Aye. But that choice is yours to make. So is the one to leave with your significant other and so is the one to leave them."
Jorge took the closest seat available and placed his helmet on the counter, its gaze inexplicably facing the trio.
"Life is made of decisions Prad. You can make them or let others make them for you. You can choose to fight you can choose to leave. You can choose to acceethe living armor or take traditional gear. I will not place the burden of another life upon you as I know well how detrimental it is. So whawhat will it be PRAD. What is YOUR decision?"
"Yes...what path with you thread?" Prad's vision...darkens. His eye, situated to Jorge's side, remains untouched, dull in its gray.
His other eye, haped to Marcus' side, flushed in violet, possessed.
"That is quite the balance you've been presented to, poor little one..." His vision abstracts the sight of either. The titan of metal. The hound of war. Both, dissipated.
Instead, a reflection, before him. One of him sitting.
Prad without his hood, saddened, but content, to taste the fruit of joy once more.
Prad, sheltered behind his shroud, yet sorrowful beyond relief, forever masked behind the blurs of a second layer. Armor.
Both of them. Gray. Violet. Split by the middle. Gazing back, each offering a facet of misery. Both speak "What branch will you thread?/What coin will you side with?"
The mirror collapses, showering the young man in reflections of his self, the two facets speaking over each other.
He gazes back at Prad, a mirror of likeness poised in the same posture, his eyes radiating alien light. Ancient light.
"Once again, you're at a threshold. Two facets of you watch back. Both from different planes. They wait. They see. Which will forget existence? Which will thread in misery?"
The man in the wall brings two lights from a hand. One of fire. One of lightning.
The serrated cup flashes brightly "This one speaks of goodbyes and farewells. A breath of contentment, for but a fleeting moment, akin to an ember seeking to cling to life, only to be snuffed out..."
The flame dies, choked by his hand, burrowed away. The galvanized hand sparks with violence "This one whispers disappearances. A goodbye that never came. A promise never made. A delusion never shattered, nonexistent. Forever masked from the world, faded without notice, like a bolt that only ever strikes once...."
The bolt breaks and crashes, its spark, gone.
The man in the wall flashes before the young man, his cold gauntlets implanted on his shoulder before a reaction can spurn out "Tell me...tell them...tell they...w̦͉͇̟̞̘͈h͍̬͙͔a̼̙̼͖͔̙t͕̤͙ͅ ̲̪̠f̧o͇̦̫͚̦l͚̹̼d͘ ̺̤̹͕͖̬w̡̞̲͚̤̬̮i̵l̶̲̯͔͎̺̞̤l̹̯͔͉̰̩͡ ̡̗̯̹y̵̹̼̯̗̱o̶̗̖u̧̻̰͎ ͕̭̫̯̥̫̭͜w̗̗̤a̭͔͢l҉͈k ̖͇̖͚̮͓i͕̱͉̳͈n͙͓̗?̣͓̠͘ ̸͉̺Ẁh̪̪̱̙̲̼a̗͖̣̭̤̯ͅṱ̞̪̪͔͚̝ ͔̥p͏͙̞͔a̻̩̹t̢̜̗̜͕̜̥h ̼̤͍̙͟w͎̟͇̫i̘̯̳͉l͖̭̤̫̙͍̤l ̷̪͖y̘̼͙͜o͉̭̲u͝ ͢t͉̻a͏̮̖̞k̵̞̱e̡?̹̫͕"
What choice had he? Both would result in suffering. Both, misery. A different slash of sorrow and solitude. He gazes back agt the man in the wall's empty sockets, bleeding in malice. He enjoyed it. Whichever the path he'd walk, pain would follow. Pain always followed behind.
"Misery...always follows..." His sight is returned to the material world. He...gone. Prad turns to Jorge, his eyes returned. A mixture of joy and sad merge in one voice "I might as well take the traditional armor. I've already entranched the path of pain..."
(Everyone) Armata takes a moment to relax as another fresh sheet of metal heats in the forge. He has his hand to his chin as he thinks of names for the tiny Living Doll sitting on his desk.
“We will call you Piatra. That’s suitable, is it not?” He asks before sipping from his glass of wine. The Doll’s eyes sparkle with giddiness at the sound of her new name, despite her face showing little emotion. She then nods her head in agreement, accepting her new handle.
It is then that the sky turns crimson outside. Armata is one of many in the castle that bolt to the window to view this phenomenon. Clouds churn and the wind becomes hostile. Trees crack and creak from the sudden force of wind, and hollowing produced by it is loud enough to drown the nervous chatter of the Castle’s populace.
"A peculiar storm..." The man in the wall jumps out of Prad's proximity. As if he suddenly gained mass and a presence in this material plane, he jumps from spot to spot, the increased movement of his shade leaving burnt marks anywhere he lands. From ceiling to ceiling, he peers through them, finding himself to the outside roof.
"What omen do you carry within yourself? Are you the augur of the primordial one? Or merely its messenger?"
His attention, drawn by those around him, shifted to the window and by proximity the red storm. His gaze is indifferent, expression uncaring. The knight looked to the storm then to his book then grimaced.
"I do not have a red pencil... I suppose that you will do for now."
As if it were any normal occurrence Jorge began to sketch the storm, taking down a rough outline before focusing on any details.