The group has recently returned back to the Covenant within the world MGE. After departing to Armata De’Sange’s world of origin (Tepes) to rescue Imperia and Layoka who were kidnapped by Vampire extremists of the foreign world. Unfortunately the group’s journey was met with disaster when an ancient evil claim to be the all-father of Monster kind, was resurrected and swore to continue his rampage across every world he crossed. Barely surviving the encounter, our group returned to their home world, however the ancient evil (Pramool) is looming presence the group can feel, even so far away.
Armata De’Sange has been asked to return to his world soon to attend a council meeting, as resistance groups are preparing to stand against the new threat. Armata will call his companions Prad, Jorge and Marcus to join in the meeting. Until the day of the meeting, the group has time to recover. Currently Armata converses with Jorge on the matter.
(Everyone) Armata looks to Jorge and chuckles. “I did not say this meeting was tomorrow, or even a week from now. The meeting will be soon, but it will take time for the groups of the other world to amass and assemble for the meeting. We have a month’s time before then, as Pramool promised to begin his onslaught in two months. I assume a month is enough time for all of us recover our strength and a portion of our sanity.”
With a hint of shame Jorge looks away from Armata, his eagerness leading him to make a fool of himself.
"Two days is plenty enough time for me Armata. I've felt with worse injuries before and I'll continue to do so now that my patron seems to have remembered me. It is just that I'd rather be there making something of myself than sitting here and waiting to battle creatures I am not familiar with. The mamono of this land and the monsters of that realm are diametrically opposed to each other but I suppose they were at one point the same."
Jorge returns to pacing as he mulls over his remarks. His mind racing to find a way to better fight the savage vamps.
(Everyone) Armata watches Jorge worry himself over the future and can not help but give the smug smirk he is known for. “If you recall Jorge, all of you were brought up to speed on this matter.”
“Pramool’s influence so vast that the Mamono here were his descendants, when they were once vicious monsters. Pramool was originally part of the Abyss, now currently under Victivius’ control. In the void, before the gods wrote their decrees. Each monster race was being born of his flesh and sculpted in a twisted way only Pramool could imagine. Then he breed and multiplied these creatures without any control until he had armies more vast than hell itself. Each individual species was unique in design, but all shared Pramool’s lust and capacity for destruction.”
“Eventually when the void full to bursting, Pramool broke the ultimate rule of the gods and used his power to conjoin every world, realm and dimension for several hours. This conjunction created tears in space and his army was set loose. Each abomination he sired mindlessly ran through a tear and invaded a world. This was one of those unfortunate to be invaded by so many species, where as my world is specifically Vampires.”
“How, there is a light to all of this. Everything that is born must evolve. My world for instance. Those wretched Lesser Vampires are a plague. They kill as they please, they feed as they please. Until my race was born. We Higher Vampires knew that without humans we could not survive easily. So we struck a deal, become our vassals and we watch over you in return. Humans still given the freedom to govern themselves, but they would have a watchful eye over them. We demanded a few simple tributes of blood. And so on.”
“It was a natural evolution of the species and of the world’s condition. Your world is no different. Demon Lords of old were no doubt direct children of Pramool, and their influence kept this world in turmoil for many years. With so many beasts in this world tearing through homes and destroying families it is no question the Order would be formed to combat these creatures, and that men like the Mutt would be born to slay the monsters with ferocity they brought down on so many innocent.”
“But, things evolved. The new Demon Lord came to power, and rewrote everything you humans know about monsters and turned them Mamonos. I know that humanity does not forget or forgive easily. And after how many years you’re kind has suffered oppression from the monsters old, I doubt they will forgive anytime soon. But her emergence gave your kind a chance. It’s not a perfect world or system she has, but it too will evolve and humans Mamono can one day live amongst each other without distrust or predjudice.”
“Tirush lost her kind to humans who hunted her species. Cyndwella, the Mutt’s loving wife, lost original human life to Conrad Wolf, a radical member of the Order who burned her to death with his holy sword. Then Cyndwella returned to our world a Wisp and haunted a swamp for many years. Until one day she found a lost boy crying in the swamp. She took the boy to a nearby town, unfortunately the Order was there. The priests imprisoned Cyndwella in a trapping spell and exercised her. Victivius resurrected Cyndwella and it was Marcus who had earned her love. Now Marcus is Married to her.”
“Everything changes Jorge, everything evolves, nothing bad lasts forever, just as nothing good lasts forever. Misery follows happiness, happiness follows misery. My point is Pramool will be defeated. It has been done before and it will be done so again.”
Armata lightens the subject by switching up the matter. “Honestly you should enjoy this little time you have and not worry so much about future until it becomes relevant. Let me worry about the little things, then when we get to the large things I’ll call for you.”
“So, I heard you were seen coming from Imperia’s room last night. What did you two talk about.... or is that none of my business?”
His entire body stops for a few seconds, his vision growing dark as his blood no longer circulates throughout his body. The giant is about to lose consciousness when his functions return and work twice as hard to compensate for the period of pause.
He contemplates lying but what would he have to gain from doing so. There is no reward, no reprisal on the line. Armata would not be likely to retaliate and sacrifice a good asset so close to a crucial battle. Even so he had done nothing wrong and had nothing to hide.
"Imperia wished to talk in private and I obliged. She inquired as to my plans after our current situation has been delt with. I told her I planned to stay in the Covenant for a few more years for Layoka's sake. After that I do not know what I will do. But I do not wish to live off the backs of those around me. I would like to have land to call my own and a farm or ranch to sustain myself."
(Everyone) Armata raises an eyebrow, certain that there was more Jorge could say, but the Lord would not pry as he could tell it was a private exchange. He does a small stride back to his throne and thinks on what Jorge said before stopping.
“A farm or ranch? You? Jorge ‘The Praetor’, a farmer. Can’t say I picture you wearing a straw hat while working a field with a pitchfork. What about that life appeals to you?” Jorge can see a sudden singular interest in this new concept from Armata halt.
"Oh? Well it appears that everywhere I went one thing stayed constant. Either warriors retired and became farmers or became mercenaries."
Jorge began to pace once more as his restless nature took over once more this time leading him to one of the nearby art pieces on the wall.
"Dont want to live this life for what time I have left. I've tried to have it both ways and it cost me everything. I want there for my family when it mattered the most. I rarely spent time with them as I was either exploring the world or trying to save it."
"I don't want to save the world anymore. I want to live a life ignorant of the impending doom that looms a breath away from us. I want to leave that to the next generation of heroes to deal with. I want to live a peaceful life Armata and I'm running out of time to do that."
The man in the wall's drifters, they whisper the desires conveyed by the man of metal, fed back with a strange respect for the wishes, however small they appear "He who once held a fragment of a deity, now seeking a humble's life. A soft spot far from the reaches of war, far from the tales. Some may questiont his decision, but you know betterm don't you?"
(Everyone) Armata listens intently as Jorge explains, and the castle’s Lord has a sudden shift in expression and mood. “Interesting. Anyways follow me, Jorge. I have your helmet.” Walking alongside Armata throughout to the private wings of the castle where only the high ranked members of the Covenant may enter. High Class Vampires and there husbands nonchalantly roam or huddle in groups engaging in vacuous conversation, care free of any work. Unfortunately Imperia’s lack of rest is made apparent again as Armata and Jorge pass by her office.
The Vampiress is being assaulted by a fearsome line of assistants holding documents, folders, and messages all for her to read, authenticate, note and file for Armata to review later. As three assistants stand before her desk all spouting information simultaneously at her. The weariness and exhaustion is plain as day. A oil lamp burning next to her, shrouding her in it’s glow as she rubs her forehead.
Once she’s done messaging her forehead, she looks up in time to see Jorge passing by, and a small smile of relief grows on her face but is swiftly sniffed out and her attention redirected to her work as a panicked assistant sets down another stack of papers. Her office falls out of sight as they round the corner.
“Tell me what kind of ranch would you run? One for raising livestock, horses, crops?”
Jorge pauses for a moment outside of Imperia's office taking in the chaos of her duty. His eyes narrowed in sympathetic annoyance before taking up his previous pace once more.
"I would raise chickens, pig, sheep and goats. Nothing too difficult to care for or feed. Along side that perhaps an orchard to help feed the animals and give me some capital to spend."
It does not take the Warden long to catch up to Armata, he leans in close nearly whispering to the vampire lord.
"Pardon this question but what does Imperia do here? I've never had the chance to ask her beforehand as she was always busy working or visiting the Ibrahim household. Ha! And to think I thought that she was fond of him. Especially how often she visited and clung to the family."
(Everyone) Armata waited until they were well out of hearing distance, stopping short of their destination. “Not specifically the Doctor. It was the entire family she loved. It was always apparent in her tone, movements and eyes. Whenever she was around them I saw great desire in her, to be apart of something so cozy and happy. A loyal husband and farther to a large sprawling group of daughters? Sounds like every Mamono’s.... But I doubt she will be seeing any of that much anymore.” Armata opens the door into his workshop. Jorge is treated with an unusual sight.
A forge with an open balcony and smokestacks up through the roof. Around them was even more curiosity. Work benches for woodwork, tinkering, forging and measuring. Everything was organized and much a curious sight from the old Armata. Once Jorge is inside, the Vampire Lord closes the door and continues.
“Imperia’s position is being my second in command, her same position during the previous leader. All the thick sewage thrown in front of me is thinned out by her. Decrees that need signing are examined by her. Documents that need to be reviewed and accounted for are consolidated by her. Arranging meetings, see VIP’s of sorts, filing Covenant profits, trade routes, food supply numbers, she also oversees the human resource wing for disgruntled staff or those simply looking for a small leave, etc.”
“It is a endless affair, yet she conquered it well, until Pramool returned. Barely a day to herself to recover from rape and torture by those foul twins and she working harder than ever before. Can you imagine, Jorge, what she was subjected to? Captured by two blood letting sadistically preverse Vampires who had control over Barghest the Hellbeast. She refuses to speak of the THINGS they did to her.”
“She wants away from this place. Away from these responsibilities and formal obligations. She wanted what the Ibrahims have. But most of all, I know she’s tired of having no one to comfort her. I know that exhausted look she gets. She thinks I don’t, but I do. She’s very tired Jorge, but I can’t afford to stop now. I need everyone doing their part if we are going to bring this bastard down.”
Prad can hear their words through the abominations of the mam’s things “ohh...”
The sympathy he felt for the mentioned Imperia has only augmented, his silence entombing the surrounding “Why didn’t we go earlier? Perhaps, that could have...”
His empathy, well evident for those with the context, mired by the man in the wall, his unnvering laughter quaking the grounds of the distant fold ”You waste your sympathy on the corpses for an act that is their law”
“What?! No! Listen to them! They don’t speak of it as some casual matter!” Prad speaks with the fearful outrage that he’s used too, shocked at the man in the wall’s complete dissonance of their listening.
”Little one, you do should not pretend to understand these things. This is what they do, this is how they live. A twisted parody of our lives. The one who talks so casually, he is as he should be: indifferent. The matriarch that was abused by her kin, that is her weakness. That is the price of weakness in their jagged rules.”
“What?! No, it can’t...”
”I have seen the way they move and act. The bread and butter they consume. This is no different. This matriarch laments naught but her pitiful frailty, unable to even consume the nectar of vengeance. No, you and the man of metal had to go extract that for her. Her continued existence is a pathetic one, according to their rules. She shouldn’t be walking the grounds right now...unless this Armada simply loves to parody this worthless excuse of a beast across his halls...
Prad couldn’t believe it. Not even a harrowing even could measure a cup of sympathy from the man in the wall. He shakes his fists at his words, fighting the need to pour tears of outrage at his indifference.
"Aye... I can understand her plight. To want to leave the responsibility behind. To want to wash your hands clean of it all and live life as none of this had ever happened. Unfortunately things don't always seem to work that way."
"The best thing we can do now is focus on the problem at hand and grind it into the ground bit by bit."
At this point he felt the cold callous embrace of his past wash over him, protecting him from the pains of emotion and sympathy. He did not want to hear of the hardships Imperia and possibly Layoka went through. Deep down he knew what they had done but he did not want it confirmed, not by Armata, Tirush, not a single soul.
He had been here before, the decent into mindless apathy that quickly lead to calculated action and reaction. The single minded drive to the final overarching goal. The crusades, the purges all drove him into this state before and now he teetered the edge pushed on by the pain of those around him. Inside his heart was breaking for them but he put on his smile for them, to keep them going on with hope.
Jorge payed no attention to the room, paying notice only to any exits and large objects where others could hide behind. He did not suspect Armata of foul play but years of experience lead his warrior's mind to wander and examine all he could.
(Everyone) “Unfortunately so. She will have to press on until this is over. Though it’s fair to say my trust in her is well placed. To be able to suffer such a traumatic thing, and continue to function, I find to be an example of her strength. But let us move on to the other reason I called you here, your helm.”
Armata leads Jorge over to the old helmet Jorge has sported for so long. He had managed to return the helmet to it’s original shape, though certain areas Jorge could see where certain spots where Armata could not straighten out the metal 100%, lest he reforged it.
“The spots where Pramool’s fingers dug in I was able to straighten out, but other points, there is fractures in the metal. Unless I reforge the helm there isn’t much I could do. It’s a compromised helm, Jorge. It will protect you no doubt, but you’d best watch what you let hit your head. A heavy enough attack from Pramool will destroy that, and your head with it.”
"Yes. Endure. Parade your misery for all to see, no matter how deeply you may seek to hide it"
The young man hips on his teeth, heart-broken over the information conveyed via the drifters. His sorrow, mired by the constant taunts of the man in the wall, uncaring as ever. His vitrol biting deeply in his mind. Tears begin to win over his face.
"Excuse me for a moment..." he had turned to the young Layoka, quick to rise from his seat. Quicker to walk away from the mess hall. He didn't wish for anyone to witness him as this state.
He returns. Returns to his room. Here, woould he attempt to wrestle the man in the wall's words of scorn.
Armata's words trailed off into a muffled noise. His peripherals blackened and all he saw was his helm... the rest of him. Every step resonated, echoing in the cavern his mind had created. Every step he took echoed louder and louder finally drowning out all exterior stimuli as he picked up the shaped metal hunk and ran his hand over the the new and old textures.
The helmet was no longer completely black but it did not matter as the new silver additions poked out and further emphasized the damage it had taken.
Jorge looked down at the helmet, his smile reminiscent of thag of a father holding their newborn child, he gingerly rotated the helmet around and before long he slipped it over his head and took in a deep breath.
He was complete once more.
"I don't expect this to protect me much against Paramool but I never did. This armor will burn an image into the minds of those who witness its deeds, who witness its capabilities and should we survive tales of the one in black armor will echo on for years to come."
(Everyone) Layoka watches confused, her youthful ignorance unaware of Prad’s struggle, as he steps out of the mess hall.
But back in Armata’s workshop, the Vampire Lord listens to Jorge speak.
“If you know the armor’s limitations and enemy you face, then do practice caution in the fight to come. We do not need you dying needlessly for glory or infamy. I would like to see as many of our own return from this.”
The door locks behind him, his tears of outrage streaming with great difficulty. How could anyone make so little of one’s harrowing trial, he couldn’t understand.
His hand strike his face is pure powerlessness as they finally drip from his maske cheeks. The utter indifference burns deeply within, scorning his psyche. It squeezes a wallowing out of the young man, so alone is this uncaring glance.
Even under a Quaker meeting, the owner of this sanctum had proven more than a mindless conqueror. Even behind his faith to a greater behind, the giant as Jorge had proven beyond his duty. Even under the apparel of a different race, the young one had shown to Ben no différents than human infants.
Feeling the sick disregard the man in the wall had for one of them behind whichever reason, when he could have muster consolation, or comfort, or anything...
It was too much for Prad.
He was no warrior, no hero, no legend. Just a softhearted man. One withering under the alien mockery of a Mann beyond his comprehension. He could not hope to fight him, nor ignore his mockery.
Crying in frustration is all he can muster. To suffer in silence in solidarity. His tears, once more failing to reach the gray man...
Under his helmet Jorge felt complete, he felt like he could tske on any challenge thrown at him. He smile rivaled that of a Cheshire Cat but to the world his was as faceless as ever. A mountain of iron and determination shaped into the form of a man.
"I don't plan on falling in battle Armata, I plan on achieving my goals and raising my perfect family on that farm. Now what would you have your Warden do?"
(Jester) Layoka knows what Jorge told her, however she can’t help but wonder why Prad is acting strangely. Innocently enough she hops off the table bench and follows Prad, keeping distance so as not to alert him. She follows him all the way to his room and watches as he closed the door. The tiny Dhampir then tip toes up to his door and presses her ear to it. She can just barely hear Prad, what sounds like crying.
She hesitantly raises her hand to the door, remembering what Jorge told her. But her concern overpowers her. Prad then hears a two small knocks at his door, knocks that could only be made by the smallest and gentlest of creatures.
(BT) Armata then smirks with confidence at Jorge’s words and waves his hand in a dismissive manner. “I would have you do as you please, the grounds are completely open to you and I have no assignments today that require your.... delicate touch. That said the day is yours to enjoy. Go workout, train with the troops, pester the dignitaries, it your choice.... Within reason of course. So go-“
Armata pauses and looks over at the table where he set the doll he refurbished, and noticed it missing. He looks around the room for quick moment and doesn’t see it anywhere. He then remembers Jorge is still here and snaps back.
“As I was saying you’re free to enjoy yourself today. Just try not to stir up too much trouble.”
"I suppose that it is so. All attempts to head to the other side will prove fruitless for now... and I would rather not impede on the affairs of those who would not have me."
"You have left me in quite the predicament Armata. I have this entire realm and yet want nothing it offers. Perhaps I'll wander these halls and ruin the day of the nobility with my presence."
Before Jorge leave Armata's workshop he turns around and stops at the doorway, his frame bisecting the room and the hallway.
"Thank you. Thank you for this second opportunity you gave me. Had you not found me back then I might have ended up an embittered lunatic wandering the roads destroying all in my path. I truly appreciate this."
Jorge does not wait for a response from Armata and as soon as he finished he closed the doors behind him and moved on through the halls.
(Everyone) Armata watches as Jorge leaves and closes the doors. The Vampire’s brow rises as he does a long exhale and then they drop back down to a neutral expression. He returns to searching for the doll perplexed at where it could be. Scanning the room, searching high and low, Armata finally finds it in a small box, tucked away in corner.
Needless to say the Vampire was already confused, but did not remember putting it there. He was even more confused at the box had a blanket in it that seems to be used as bedding for the doll to sit on.
“Strange case. Then again, Layoka has snuck in here multiple times. She may have seen the doll and her innocence compelled her to give you a comfortable spot....” Armata says to the doll as she were real. He then grabs the box/w blanket and sets it on the workbench where he originally worked on the doll, then placed the toy in the box with her blanket.
“Now then, I’ll need to pry Imperia away from her duties and have her pick you out some clothing. After that we’ll find you a good home.” He then walks out of the shop.
(Jester) Layoka looks for a moment at Prad’s face, or what she could see of it. She cuffs her hands behind her back and swings from her heels to toes for another second or two.
“Papa Jorge said for me to go back to my room and study after I was done eating, but you were acting weird so I wanted to see if you were okay. But now I see you weren’t being weird, you were crying. Why were you crying? Are you sad about something?” She again tilts her head down so she can look up into Prad’s hood.
The expression she has is not one of mockery or judgment. Layoka’s expression and tone are that of a curious child with general concern, looking to understand. Her approach to the situation is forward, as she has not yet gained enough experience with people to understand the art of subtly.
Prad takes a great sniff, turned back to the window. His ears filled with the indifference of the man in the wall, man currently standing directly before the young Layoka in his own plane of existence, his black gauntlet twitching, grinding. He speaks not, instead letting the cacophony depict his malice, solely directed at her.
“Ohh, you saw that...” Prad speaks with an apologetic tone, faced side by side to the window “I’m sorry you had to. It’s nothing for you to be concerned with. Just...a bad man saying bad things...far away...”
(Jester) “Bad Man? Is he mean to you? Bad people stink.” Layoka invites herself into Prad’s room, hoping onto his bed. The tiny Dhampir sits herself at the edge of the bed, her little legs hang over the edge, swinging slightly.
“There’s lots of bad people Mr.Prad. Sometimes bad people are dumb. But sometimes they’re very strong. I’ve been hurt by bad people. A Dhampir isn’t liked much amongst Vampires or humans. After I met Mama Imperia and Lord Armata, I knew lots of good people. Mama Imperia taught me to read, write and do math. Lord Armata protected me, and gave me a home here.”
“Then I met Papa Jorge. I used to be picked on, but because of Papa Jorge and Lord Armata, they taught me to stand up to bullies. Now nobody picks on me.”
“I don’t know why bad people hurt others. But I do know that good people will always be better. Good people have good friends who stick by them. Good people are surrounded by good people who love them. Good people are better because they help others and the world. Without good people, I wouldn’t be happy.” Layoka smiles at Prad.
“Papa Jorge protects me. Lord Armata watches over me. Mama Imperia teaches me. Mr.Marcus.... He almost died for me.” Layoka pauses and looks down, a tear rolls down her cheek. “I’ve seen bad people do bad bad things. But I remember the good people most. Forget that meanie bad man that you’re talking to. He probably has no friends. But you help save me. So you’re better than him, and my friend! You’re a good person!”
Prad finds himself humbled by a young one. Even if it is easier said than done, this was yet another set of words hitting close “He’s convinces you’re the bad people indeed. He shows me bad things. Things your kind might have done in the past. He tells me you’ll do bad things one day, hence why he dislikes you and your caretakers...”
The young man does realize he’s basically opening up to a young one, younger than him. He can feel the Damocles blade hanging over Layoka, the man in the wall toying with his heart. It matters, yes, just less than the relief he feels talking to someone in such a longboard time. Another besides the nurse, besides the Mann of metal.
“I want to show him that people can learn. He shows he the baddest things your ancestors have done and blames you for it. The bad things that happened to your mommy, he laughs at it, despite her bravery. The bad things that tested mister Marcus, he mocked him for it, said he wasn’t bad enough. He thinks...you’re all bad and will remain bad toward us humans.”
Down the hall the Warden prowled, his cocky attitude seeping through his full plate. He walked with a confident stride his chin tilted up and his path in the middle of the hall. His goal was to assert dominance, to show the nobles that they held no sway over him as the new Warden of these hall.
Respect or fear him, he did not care as all would have to sway to requests be they within his jurisdiction.
(Jester) Layoka puts a finger to her chin, rather confused how Prad worded the beginning of his explanation. She puts a finger to
“I don’t know about the ‘old’ years, Mr.Prad. I only know they were bad. I don’t know what happened then. But I will never be a bad person! They say Lord Armata was a bad person, but everyday I see him he is helping people. Papa Jorge, me, Mamono, human families. If he was bad, he isn’t anymore. People told me Papa Jorge was as a bad person. Yet he now protects me and I’m his daughter! Maybe your friend should stop give people a chance.”
“Maybe your friend thinks we’re bad because he has no Mamono friends to believe in. Maybe he’s lonely.” The Dhampir hops off the bed like a frog and trots to the door frame of Prad’s room. “Well I have to go. I don’t want to be scolded by Papa Jorge. But Mr.Prad, you’re my friend and I trust you!” Layoka bursts a big jolly smile.
(BT) Jorge struts as proud as a Peacock, moving past numerous groups of nobles, dignitaries, Countesses and highrollers. Some blush knowing the beast of a man beneath the steel, while others scoff and huff. The exotic nobleman from the Desert Region stay amongst the crowd. He is bitter at Armata’s favor to Jorge, and he has had much to drink.
“I guess our Lord has grown fond of mangy strays.” He says just loud enough to catch Jorge’s ear.
“Shhhh, that’s enough Barathen. You heard our master’s orders.” A loyal Countess mutters quietly.
The Warden continued to go on his route ignoring the nobleman of the desert region. He cared not for the petty squabble or insults they threw at him now. In his armor he was complete and perfect. He had faced many a noble before from Order bureaucrats to demon realm lords and ladies, almost all attempting to belittle him to no avail.
No he won't not stop to argue with them for he had a destination set. He would stop by Imperia's office and would wait for an opening to enter.
(BT) Upon returning to Imperia’s office hall, Jorge finds himself at the rearend of a large line of staff all holding handfuls of documents. Jorge’s patience is matched only by his stoicism. Quietly he moves with each step, with each inch gained toward Imperia’s office. He occupies himself however he can until he reaches his destination. After many hours Jorge hears the sudden word....
"You be careful now". HIs last words following her departure. His face turns to the window, watching the outside. There is nothing for him to do for the rest of the encroaching morning.
"Ohh, right. My hands. Perhaps the good doctor is available for a check-up" he jumps from the frame to the door. His ears filled with the man's voice, derivative of the young Layoka "Are you convinced enough? Can I plant my tiny little fangs in your throat, pretty pwease?"
Mockery once more, lashing at his psyche. He make the best effort to let it flow, even as it scores a chip on his mind.
As Jorge entered the room he removed his helmet and tucked it securely under his arm. He strode forth with purpose, the cocky attitude of earlier dying down with his long wait.
"You should get an assistant. The sheer amount of time it takes to see you is just absurd. Say I truly required your services and were forced to wait for you to be available. By then there would be no point."
He stops just short of her desk and plants his helmet on a pile of papers nearest to him.
"Truly such a workload is not healthy, perhaps you should come and take a break with me?"
(Jester) Prad soon finds a map of the castle that directs him to the medical wing. Heading in that direction, it doesn’t take him long to find what he is looking for as he steps into the medical wing. As he walks down the hall, nurses both human and Mamono cross his path as they go about their duty taking care of those who are bed ridden. It is then Prad sees a familiar face, Roda appears out of a room with a tray in her hand and sets it upon a table just outside the doorway. There she begins stacking plates, cups and used utensils.
(BT) Imperia is in the middle of reading a military report when Jorge enters. She looks up from the report as Jorge approaches her desk. After listening to his banter, Imperia takes his offer of a break with a bit of skepticism.
“I’m not in a mood for jests Jorge, there is much I need to review and bring to Lord Armata. Is there something you need or are you just here to put your helmet on financial reports?” Imperia points her pen to the stack of papers now being weighed down by the giant helm.
(BT) Imperia sighs and leans back in her chair. She looks up at ceiling and then to Jorge as he is about to leave. Jorge then hears Imperia’s pen drop on the desk, and the legs of her chair groan as they rack across the wooden floor. The Vampiress rises from her desk and grabs her elegant fur neck warmer and drapes it around her shoulders. She does a quick review of her immaculate blonde hair and proceeds to Jorge.
“Alright, Sir Jorge. You win, let us get away from this ceaseless barrage of duty.” Imperia walks alongside Jorge with an air about her that can only be described as absolution. Imperia was second only to Armata and her presence was one to note. All around bowed and remained out of her way, which in turn meant no one was in Jorge’s way. Walking alongside Imperia was like being a personal escort of immense royalty. As if being Imperia’s company gained Jorge a position far beyond his standing.
Though in truth, Imperia cared for none of this. Deep down she was happy for the distraction from her endless grind and was thinking about thanking Jorge for being that distraction. It is a few minutes of silence until finally-
“You know, good Sir knight, it is impolite to not offer a lady your arm when walking with her.”
Prad takes a seat at the nearest seat close by. He takes a gander at his hands. While they have healed by a bit, they seem in the path still “Man, what would I do to have my mending tide back. They all look like they could use a break”
(BT) “Indeed, but it is a requirement of the service.” Imperia says putting her arm around Jorge’s. “There are always those of us who must forgoe our leisure time so that others can enjoy theirs. As disheartening as it is, there is a pride and sense of self worth to be gained from it. After all, my hard work has earned me Lord Armata’s trust and council.... His council, Jorge. Armata rarely asks anyone’s opinion because of how experienced he is.”
“But he turns to me for advice or second opinions. To be able to stand alongside him as his consigliere is a grand honor. The work is difficult, but the reward is great. At this point I’d imagine you feel something similar, now that Lord Armata has named you ‘Warden’.”
Jorge turns to the helmet in his off hand and gazes into its empty sockets before returning his attention back to Imperia.
"I apologize for my impudence but I feel no great pride, no great honor in serving Armata. I have been under service of many a weak or powerful beings and very few of them moved me to feel any of those stated emotions. No. I feel more when alongside the common man. The worker. The farmer. The common soldier. To me helping them brings a greater honor than the emperor of any grand land."
"Armata has done much for me at a point when I myself would not have extended my hand. I owe him my life. I owe many people my life. The best I can do is offer him a portion of it before I take my leave."
(Jester) “I’m glad you remembered Prad. Saves me having to pester you later.” Roda giggles as she inspects his arms. “Their healing nicely, but this dead skin needs to be debriefed. Come on, this I can do.” Roda escorts Prad down the hall.
Prad can see inside the rooms old folks and children who are sick yet being treated well. In one room a Kobold nurse lets an infant play with her tail. Finally Roda opens a door for Prad and gestures him in. As Prad takes a seat Road speaks to a passing nurse and then shuts the door. Roda begins disinfecting her tools and humming as she does.
(BT) “Yes, he helped you quite a bit. Yet he asked nothing of you, if I’m correct. Armata is a complicated individual. Very much. Having lost his only lover, to being spared by his most persistent and greatest enemy. He’s gained quite a bit of wisdom. You do not need to impress him Jorge. I’d say you’re free to leave at your leisure. Not to mention but you’re the only person he’s made a suit of armor for.” Imperia stops her thought and then smiles.
“You know Jorge, an interesting page was on my desk this morning. A deed on property, the property in said deed just barely under Covenant protection. I looked it up. It’s an unassuming plot of land. Plenty of space for cultivation. But if someone worked hard enough it would be great for crops and livestock.”
"Yes, somewhat". Prad remains seated, looking around to see the tools present. His mind is tethered with the other patients, a curious sight to behold, as he wasn't sure what could bring the people their injuries. Regardless, he returns to his hands, watching them for a bit.
"Looking around, it sounds more like you may not had have some time to rest".
(Jester) “Ah, I’ve had plenty of rest.” Roda waves her paw. “There are very sick people her, and they need attention. Some are the citadel, some the neighboring villages, others are distant travelers looking for help. Sure we have a few wounded here, but their mainly just military boys who where hurt training.” Roda explains as she removes dead skin from Prad’s arms and hands. She disinfects and moisturizes ever area she focuses on.
“Me? I’ve had plenty of sleep. When it comes to helping the sick or hurt, I’m ready. A nurses’ job is to comfort a patient and assist the doctor. Ever sense I was a little girl, I wanted to be a nurse. My mother was one, as she met my father when was cleaning his battle wounds. It is such a romantic story.”
(BT) “It was interesting because Lord Armata put it on my desk early this morning, the document saying the section of land’s owner is pending. At the moment the land is bought and paid for. It is far from the castle, yet still within our jurisdiction. Whom ever owns the land would have to travel a bit to reach the nearest town for supplies, but they would have the Covenant’s protection over their land. I’ll have to speak to my Lord later on the matter.”
Imperia continues to stroll elegantly alongside Jorge, her appearance amongst the wondering staff a treat.
(Jester) “well I do not remember any of it because I wasn’t born yet. But the story goes, by my mother’s account, that my father was a guerrilla fighter who caused much trouble for the Order. My father fought for Mamono rights and after he and band kidnapped an Order official, they were immediately sentenced to death. A small army was amassed by the Order, with a fearsome commander leading the force.”
“My father and his band desperately tried to stay away from the Order forces, but they couldn’t. My father and his men stood their ground, gathering every available man willing to fight from nearby towns. On a hill they stood their ground. The Order came in stride, they ripped my father’s small force apart. I remember my father talking about the Order’s forces being lead by a tower, a monstrously large man with a greatsword and tower shields, his helm shaped like a bucket.”
“My father was wounded by the giant knight and fled into the woods. My mother who was a simple Werewolf found my father. She carried him to her den, the Order troops hot on their heels. While my mother saw to my father’s wounds, the Order surrounded the den and prepared to burn them out. My mother embraced my father thinking they would die, but then there was a shift in noise.”
“As my mother emerged from the den, she saw the fabled Nightwatch destroying the Order soldiers to the point that they retreated. The Nightwatch escorted my mother and father to this castle. Here they spent much time together. My father becoming a castle guard and my mother a nurse. Shortly after, they had me.” Roda says with a smile.
(Jester) “Not really. They lived happy lives here, and devoted themselves to maintaining this place. The Covenant, I think, is the one place where humans are allowed to be themselves, while Mamono are allowed to be themselves. Lord De’Sange, in such a short time has made this place a sanctuary for all seeking happiness. Yet those who exploit his goodwill are banished.”
Roda continues to debris the skin off Prad’s arm, carefully pulling each piece with absolute precision.
"How quaint. Who would pay for such lot and yet not sign for the ownership. If I didn't know any better I would believe that your lord was planning to gift that land to someone. Or perhaps he is planning something else. Another portal maybe?"
Compared to Imperia Jorge was far from graceful, his bulky armor and stature diametrically opposed to that of the slim vampiress. Whilst her every step flowed silently into the next Jorge simply trudged along, his foot falls felt more than heard.
"Perhaps we should stop by Layoka's room and check up on her. She should be studying like I asked her too. Besides it has been a few hours."
“That is frankly something. It feels weird hearing this considering the last time I was present here” His mind recalls the last visit in this place. Shackles in his hands, a sense of dread, as if a lamb sent for sacrifice. The man she speaks so fondly of gave off an alien indifference toward him as he sought answers, answers to the genesis of his presence.
(BT) “Very well. Let us go see how Layoka is occupying herself.” The both of them work their way back up to the lodging wing where Layoka and Jorge’s rooms are located. Stopping shy of door, Imperia takes the initiative to knock. A tiny voice on the other side calls out, “come in.”
Opening the door, Imperia and Jorge enter the room, their arms still intertwined. Layoka turns from her desk, a big text book open upon it. She looks surprised at the sight of Jorge and Imperia arm n’ arm.
“Are you and Papa Jorge dating?” She innocently asks. A question that causes Imperia to turn red.
(Jester) “No matter Prad. You just enjoy your time here and take advantage of any privileges you’ve been give.” Roda sets down her tools as the doctor from yesterday steps into the room. He looks upon Prad and Roda with a warm smile as he pulls his glasses off to clean.
“Thank you kindly for tending to our patient, Roda.” Roda bows her head slightly and rises out of her seat, opening it for the doctor. The old man takes a seat and puts his glasses back on. He examines both arms with a skilled eye.
“Well, there are no infections, and the skin appears to be on the fast track to recovery. I’m still not uncertain how you could have done such a thing to your limbs, but I suggest you take better care of yourself.” The doctor then tosses away Prad’s used bandages and applies a fresh wrap to each hand and arm. “By the way young man, my nam is Dr.Stanford.”
"Oh? Didn't I tell you not not to spread rumors now or to call me by my name? It's just papa now. Besides what would happened to Lady Imperia's reputation if she were caught courting rabble such as I? I'm certain that she could do better don't you think?
Jorge spoke in a joking manner as he mockingly clutched at an imaginary pearl necklace and made an exaggerated shocked expression.
"Wouldn't you agree Imperia? Spreading such rumors should be highly discouraged."
"Very sorry, sir. The situation I found myself in was beyond whatever control I could wield. There was little I could do with what I had". Prad feels relief at the lessen pain impulse from his arms and general body.
"I'm glad to have someone tend for a foreigner such as I, really", he continues clenching his fingers several times just to see how far he was cured.
(BT) “I didn’t spread any rumors!” The tiny Dhampir shouts while whipping around in her chair. “It’s just you two are holding each other’s arms. You look like you’re boyfriend and girlfriend.” Layoka looked ready to say more, a deflated look appearing on her face as she swivels back around to her book. Imperia grows a tiny smile as she unhooks from Jorge’s arm and strides up to her surrogate child.
“So, where are you in your reading, Little Mica?” Imperia says while leaning over the one side of Layokas desk. She places her one hand on the desk, the other on the back of Layoka’s chair. Imperia then crosses her legs as she finds a comfortable stance which causes her to unknowingly cocking her hips, which causes her dress to tighten in certain areas, mainly her rump. Imperia switching her angle causes her dress to highlight her perfect posterior to Jorge.
“I’m on chapter 12, this book is boring.” Layoka pouts.
“Indeed it is Mica, Author Trafor was a dreadfully dull writer, but he is always a good read for a growing mind. So, let’s continue. If you can make it to chapter 13, we’ll go get some ice cream at lunchtime.” Imperia chuckles.
“Ok!” The Dhampir’s attitude brightens. “It, was, then, four, founders, made a blood, pack, that the, four, factions of, the, Covenant, would never, engage, in hos-tilit-ies, amongst themselves-“ Jorge watches as Layoka reads at a turtle’s pace, and Imperia matches it with equal patience. Even after being bombarded with so much in such a short time, Imperia’s passion for those she cares about never waivers.
(Jester) “No ‘thank yous’ necessary young man. It is my profession to see you young lads back on your feet. As it is Roda’s job to assist my old bones and give you boys something pretty to look at while work.” He says with a laugh.
“Doctor!” Roda blushes. Again Dr.Stanford laughs and gets out of his seat, he heads to the door and tosses out his used gloves and straightens his coat.
“Well Mr.Prad, you keep those hands out of trouble and they’ll heal up in no time. Roda will work on some salves to help the healing process.” The old doctor waves and walks off.
“I swear, every his grows more bold with his words.” The Werewolf sighs.
Did Prad blush at his words? None could hope to know with the shroud covering everything shy of his eyes. He certainly didn’t act like someone flustered but maybe this was an act.
Regardless, he shrugs “Well at the least, it puts a bit of life around here, distracts from the actual injuries. And heaven knows a patient could use precious time not reminded by their nerves that this or that is broken or that rash is still acting”
He looks at the closed door “Besides, he’s not wrong on the pretty part—-
Prad stops, seeing himself speaks before his mind can catch up. Realizing what he just say, he ships himself up, hoping that slip up wasn’t heard. Considering his current luck, it probably did.
Jorge crosses his arms and leans against the doorframe when Imperia leaves his side, his eyes inadvertently following her every moment along the way. A half smile finds purchase on his lips as he watches Layoka struggle with the book. Once more his eyes wamder and follow following Imperia's movements leading his eyes to focus on her rear but for a second before the turning of a page caught his attention once more.
He knew there was a day when he would be fond of leering at one such as Imperia, a day soo long ago. He did not quite remember as to why he thought he would enjoy it other than the way one would enjoy a painting but he knew there was something more. He knew as to the purpose of longing but no longer understood the feeling of it. He knew of the ecstacy that mamono were purported to bring but no longer longed for such indulgence. He found it strange to focus on her in such a way and before he knew it his eyes wandered back to her rear. But his smile was gone, replaced with a more tired and bothered expression.
(Jester) Roda’s ear flicks with Prad’s final sentence. She shifts her gaze to him, a surprised look upon her face, which soon translates into a smile. She says nothing as she doesn’t want to make Prad uncomfortable or further push the compliment. Instead she turns to the cabinets well stocked with medical supplies.
“I, um. I’ll get to work on those salves. You can leave if you have anything you wanted to do today, I can drop the salves off by your room later with a fresh roll of bandages.” Roda doesn’t look at Prad, instead she keeps her attention to her work, a humbled little smile on her face.
"Hum, sure". That slip-up certainly made him uncomfortable, his mind sending accusations against him. 'You idiot!' 'Seriously?' 'Wow, really?' 'Hey fumble! Anything else you wish to slip?'
He makes hurried paces out the door and promptly makes his way back to the room he was assigned to, utter embarrassment on his hidden face "No! Goosh, why did I say it like that? I didn't mean to offend her!"
"Because that's what you are, lamb" Shivers run down his spine as the man in the wall suddenly appears beside the young man "You step in your words, as you always did, unable to hold yourself, like the poor little thing you are. Before the desolate owner of this palace. Before the man of metal you looked up. And now, before the jagged animal you sought to impress for an unknown reason. A fool you are in this method, your hermit days disallowing you the company of true humans".
His words do naught but reinforce the tribunal of accusation and mockery playing in his head, peering beyond with spectral hands pointing at him from the plane beyond. Specters laughing and spitting at him all the way to the room, the hall turned dark on a gray floor.
(BT) “It, is then that, the founders, began the, i-initia-ti.... initia-tivie?” Layoka struggles and frustration begins to build upon her face. The tiny Dhampir becomes heated, folding her arms and scoffing with annoyance.
“Papa Jorge, do you mind lending a hand over here? Little Mica has stumbled upon a word that challenges her....” Imperia looks over her shoulders and gestures to come closer. Jorge knows right away the word in question is “initiative”.
(BT) “What’s the matter, Sir Knight? Weak to a little provocation?” Imperia chuckles in a humbling manner. “Just help her.” The Vampiress gestures to Layoka.
“It is then that the founders began the initiative to con-join their factions and create the Covenant. Through blood oaths, they would remain reso-lute and steadfast.” Layoka leans back as Imperia turns the page. The tiny Dhampir sees in bold text “Chapter 13” and jumps for joy.
“Well, well. There is chapter 13. I think somebody has earned some ice cream.” Imperia pats Layoka’s head.
(BT) “SIR JORGE! How dare you ask a woman her age?!” Though Imperia’s tone is shocked and dramatic, there is a humor to it. Jorge can tell instantly that the Vampiress is not at all offended by the question.
“I will not state my age. But if you must know, more than 700 years old.” Imperia takes Jorge’s arm as Layoka sprints out the door. “And I’ve been told that I look great for my age.” Imperia struts with pride, her armored guardian in arm.
Jorge threw his head back as he released a false laugh.
"Then I was right! But yes you do not look a day over thirty if I do say so. Can't say I am as lucky as you though... I'd say I was reaching the end of my prime being over forty now... Not many chances left for me..."
Jorge look's down at his helm once more his smile slowly fading as he shifts it around in his hand, the thought of hiding within it taking over once more.
(BT) “Good. I’m not fond of pretty boys. All the pretty noble boy I’ve met are shallow, boring, self centered and care only about how smooth their skin is. I prefer men who are weathered, experienced, handsome and yet rugged. Then again, I also have a thing for Tirush.” Imperia giggles yet maintains her regal look.
“By that account, Sir Knight, I think you discredit yourself. You could easily have an army of suitors if you would this tough routine. Set aside the armor once in a while and dress proper. Take my word sir, put on a nice coat, pants and grease your hair.... Oh the women would be fighting each other just to get your attention.”
"As appealing as that sounds that is not who I am."
Jorge shifts his attention to those they pass. His gaze lingering on those who stared at Imperia too long.
"I am a simple man. I fight. I don't dress up. I don't like fancy embellishments. I raise kids that aren't mine. Maybe if I were a different man I would partake in such things but were I a different man I would never have made it this far."
"No I would have gotten caught so long ago or given up and shirked all my responsibilities. Perhaps I never would have made it here at all. Yet here I am arm in arm with a beautiful Vampiress and a bouncy little damphire... what have I gotten myself into..."
(BT) “I believe they call it happiness, Jorge. You should try to enjoy life now and again. Try to branch out a bit. I understand where a man of your track record may be wary of such a deviation of norms, but Lord Armata has also a spotted record. Yet he socializes as needed.” Imperia gestures to a passing couple.
“Stop isolating yourself, let those you love strengthen and open you to more. You deserve better than a life secluded behind steel.” Imperia looks ahead as Layoka waves from the entrance of the mess hall. The tiny Dhampir excited to get her treat after a rigorous session of reading bland material.
Silence in his room. Prad remains, shrouded in his thoughts. His thoughts, filled with the maddening laughter of unseen spectators, though they lull away, returned to the soil in the silence of the grave.
Silence from the man in the wall, gazing at the boy who silently sat upon the bed he was given to, for a time.
"Hmm...you think I despise you right now, don't you?" His voice speaks with more power, taken from the degatory tone he mustered for a while emtombed within this dominion. A gray ink starts spilling from underneath the man in the wall's feet, foul with a sinister aura leaking like the steam of heat.
"..." Prad does not answer, commited to silence. Yet...
"You do, I can sense it, young one". The man in the wall walks toward him, stopping at mere feet from him. His gray form starts tunning, the colorless shade pooling under his feet. Darkness fills the gap, as his presence starts filling the very plane of existance. Or at least, an avatar of him.
"The same? You have forgotten, my child..." The slag infecting for floor consumes it utterly, as it to indicate the man in the wall's anchored presence in this plane of existence. Not enough for it, the foul liquid runs at the wall, seeking to wash it under itself, an estension of his mere stance. His hand rises, dark in the real world, gray in the next one.
"You have forgotten what they have done to you...what they have tried to do to you..." His hand plants upon Prad's head, the latter briefly shaken by surprise. This...this is no illusion. This is no mere apparition. Not whole, yet not empty, the man in the wall has his hand on his head. His eyes wash in the violet tide, overtaken as the room starts turning gray. A window to a rift in between. Separated from the realm of the dominion, yet very anchored on its plane.
Jorge smiles and waves to Layoka, slightly resting is head on Inperia's
"It would be fun to not have a care in the world and enjoy life to the fullest but I cannot allow myself to do so until I know that Ne'zon is safe. Until then I won't enjoy myself too much... but I won't be a bother to others either."
Jorge tightens his grip on Imperia's hand but keeps his eyes forward, his smile ever directed at Layoka.
"So as of now I'll play along... make sure the little Mica can grow happy. And who knows, perhaps we can find something to enjoy in this as well."
(BT) “Play along? Do you see the unhealthy life you live right now as a game?” Imperia looks down at Jorge’s hand gripping her own, confused as to the reason the knight would do this. “Your lifestyle is your own, Sir Knight. I am neither your master or commander, thus it is not my position to dictate how you spend your days. But as a friend I implore that you consider a future where you live happily and the armor is set aside to gather dust.”
The two catch up to Layoka who waited patiently at the mess hall doorway. Once they enter inside, Jorge sees the glances. Guards and all manner of male staff present in the hall look upon Jorge with Imperia wrapped around his arm. The men talk amongst themselves, their faces and body language express jealousy and disdain for the Knight who walks with the most beautiful Vampiress in the Covenant. It is no secret that Imperia and Armata are top tier of the Covenant. Both have immense influence and fame amongst the ranks, but most of all they are both single.
For Jorge this is but a friendly stroll with the woman who is helping him raise his adoptive daughter, for the spectating men, this is unfair.
“In regards to Ne’Zon. Lord Armata has in fact taken quite an interest in locating your daughter. One of the reports I read was a dispatch report. As of this morning Lord Armata has authorized a large scale investigation into Ne’Zon’s location. At exactly 4 o’clock this morning the full force of the Nightwatch as well select agents from our other castles have been dispatched to pick up any leads. I’m confident we will find something within a few weeks.”
The room is gray, devoid of life. The window to the outside reflects a world different, a window to another plane. The last piece of ancient earth in this world governed by the Age of the metamorphisis. A window to the cosmos.
This is not what Prad sees, instead caught in a trance. The man in the wall's hand firmly planted on his head, streams of particles feed the young man's skull, washing his senses with the auroma of the past.
His injuries...returned! Screams from his jaw at the thought wounds, pouring their illusion at him. A lashed leg, lacerated skin, punctured muscles. All he can see are the mirrored twins, laughing at his plight as he craddles in his knees
"Do you remember what they have done to you?" He speaks, his voice able to filter through all of the revived trauma, a fallacy, a truth.
He cannot speak, his synapse overwhelmed with the burning sensation of pain and suffering. Yet, his image of those present persist.
"Good, you feel it. Let us take a stride to the further past then..."
The room around them spirals ahead, as if taken for a trip at unfathomable speed. Further to the past...
Image after image passes through the room, feeding Prad’s with memories he never sought to relive. Battle after battle, war after war, horrid beasts seeking his person. Wounds, injuries, they all feel dug up by the man in the wall.
Twisted imagery fills his mind, his used mind merely enduring what he had lived all his life. Alas...
You remember it all, don’t you... The man in the wall voices his question as if both already had the answer.
”Forget not who held your life in the waking world when it came to you. Alone in the darkness of your own home. You begged...you cried, and nobody came for you...”
The man in the wall takes a seat by the only chair in the room, delighted to see Prad shiver with sorrow. The sensation of powerlessness crawls on his back as he stretches his arms around his shoulders.
“They heard your cries. The cries of a young man about to be swallowed while and butchered by a bovine. And yet, I came along when nobody would...”
(BT) “What is going to happen, Jorge. Are they going to fight you for my hand? Are they going to think less of me for associating with you? I do not fear their thoughts. You are my escort, at the the moment. Let their imaginations run wild with thought. They simply do not understand how a brute like you managed to secure my company.” Imperia’s regal visage is as strong as ever as she parades her way through the mess hall.
"No. I do not fear what they think of me but as for your status... should you not care about it nor shall I. I actually quite enjoy the envious stares they give us."
Jorge allowed a half smile to escape his lips and let it linger as he puffed himself up pulling Imperia ever closer to him. He leaned his head closer to her ear as if her were imparting a lecherous secret onto her delicate ears and spoke softly yet heavily.
"If they even knew what I know they would be absolutely livid and question my very sanity. Now do your best shocked impression, I wish to provoke those attempting to eavesdrop upon us."
(BT) “And what is it you know, Sir Jorge. What compilation of knowledge you possess would make ordinary man lose reality? Regardless, I shall play this game you have conjured.” Imperia clears her throat, and dawns her most dramatic performance yet.
“BY THE GODS, SIR JORGE! Such deviant language in broad daylight! How dare you make me blush so early?! Truly you are unfamiliar with restraint.” Imperia dramatically put a hand to her forehead and pretends to be struck by the vapors.
“Lucky son of a bitch....” A castle guard within earshot turns away angered and flustered, as Jorge and Imperia pass.
Images fly gracefully across the room, the man in the wall since long reeling his hand from Prad.
The darkest of night featuring silhouettes standing among the streets. Some are average and plentuful. Their counterparts remain slender, and as numerous. Others are bulky, however. Other are horned. Some more bear an extra appendage.All stand outside a domain.
A domain seeing Prad straddled by a jagged beast, hands on his laryn-/-sredluohs. Conflicting images that flicker in conflict, the darker one easily dominating. Words of violence-/-ecnarussaer.
"Sam. Sam. Sam.-/-!!maS !?maS ?maS"
His hands, powerless. His life, slipping by the minute.
The thought of a man peering through a wall comes to the dying young man. The entity, invisible to the bovine reaping the life off the bed ridden man, sitting by the counter.
"You poor young man...fated to die under this creature's excess..."
He leans close, making little of the feral beast now turned to another method, bone-cracking hooks following the other on his shattering face-/-rewsna na gnikees ,skeehc sih no sserp dekcinap a.
"What would you give away for another day in this waking world?..."
(BT) Imperia is now the color of an apple as Jorge has pushed the joke beyond her expectations. She holds onto the Knight, her breathing heavy and her eyes sparkling with possibilities.
“I’m not sure, Sir Knight. How does this end?” Imperia’s arms wrap further around Jorge’s neck, her lips so close To his that spectators would think something was about to happen.
“Why do you tease me?” Imperia mutters. Her eyes are glazed over, a beautiful cross between conscious and entranced. She looks upon Jorge with a sense of want, yet her professionalism holds back her advance. The Vampiress’ silver eyes sparkle like gem stones as she surrenders to the moment.
“You, are so cruel to me, Sir Knight....”
Suddenly Jorge feels a tug on the exposed clothe tunic he wears. Looking down, the giant sees the tiny Dhampir with a fistful of his clothing.
A whisper in the storm. A whisper form the dying man, weeping ritualistic tears of the departing.
"Anything...for another day".
"Anything? Then I ask for but one sacrifice..."
His hand burns with the twitching behavior of the natural current.Violet lightning bounces across his arm, eagerly awaiting to be used. The beast breaking his face stops, galvanized by the mere proximity of the bolt circulating in the young man's hand.
The man in the wall leans close--
"Please, stop...I know what I did..." Prad holds his hand around his head, refusing to see, even more to remember. But the dream continues, as an incomplete dream would remain etched in his head, a loop forever to be played, taking space in his cognitive slots. It plays...
The man in the wall leans closes, two words. The words that would seal the two from now on, bound to a contract by the act. An act Prad had hope he'd never commit, even against feral creatures.
Without a response Jorge pulls back grabbing the vampiress by her hands as his helmet drops to the floor with a thud. He works free of Imperia's slender grasp and spins her back and forth in a manner reminiscent of flamingo dancing. He clutches her close once more his off hand landing on her hip as his dominant one pulled her arm out. While not done with his performance Jorge stopped to answer Layoka's question with a smug grin.
"Can you not see darling? We dance!"
Jorge led Imperia through a few repetitions of sudden dance. To the those around them it appeared that Imperia followed along smoothly with her flowing grace but in fact she was merely along for the ride as he carried her the entire time.
(BT) Imperia is ready, ready to do something she has only done with Tirush. Her heart a mess of emotions as is in the Knight’s arms, unsure of her next move. Unsure of how to answer, the Vampiress looks away, until a sudden voice, an unmistakably powerful breaks her from her trance.
“I see you two are getting along....”
“LORD ARMATA!” Imperia’s head shifts quickly to the Lord of lord’s who is standing beside the two, looking quizzically upon them. Armata’s expression holds not malice or contempt for he is witnessing, just mere amusement.
“So, Jorge, I see you’ve decided to give both Imperia and the surrounding room a lesson in footwork. Clearly you are more cultured than you let on.” Armata smirks.
The young man stands over a fallen beast. His stance, not one of triumph. Not one of relief or gratitude. His heart presses heavily on him. His breath is quick and jagged, a hand upon it. A galvanized hand stained still.
His innocence, stripped, Prad sinks on the corner of the wall, eyes trembling. This...
This was the first time...
...terminated another life.
The entity in gray walks over, stepping over the fallen creature, quietly listening to the young man. His whimpers gaining in presence, ovewhelming. His tears sully the barren floor, slow to be whipped by the entity "Do not whimper at your act. It was but a necessary one"
"But...but I've..." He couldn't finish the sentence, the sickness in his stomach spreading, hindering his speaking capability.
"This beast would have done the same. But, it matters not. I am here now. Come, let me 'help' you..."
The entity has hand on the mind-wrecked Prad's forehead. A lulling sensation washes over his mind, taking a piece of the memory of what transgressed here, at this very moment...
...and banishing it. This incomplete, twisted, ever shifting piece of the puzzle. Not enough to lull Prad's heavy heart, his distraught sinking his conscious far from the waking world.
"I will be here now. Do worry no longer. I shall take vengeance in your name. To those who have listened to your cries in indifference..."
The eyes of the two merge as their bodies follow. The man in the wall's hidden irises take over Prad's brown color, prompting the young man back up. His gaze, one infuriated in a tearful hatred. Fire on one hand. Lightning on the other. Both hungry, trembling, whispering.
He-/-They step out, welcomed to many of the town's citizen stares. Eyes--melted in laughter. Visages--deformed by grins. Voice--toned in mockery.
As Imperia bowed Jorge lifted his hand from her hips and walked over to his fallen helmet slowly crouching down to pick it up. Jorge stayed down low and watched Layoka intently, his smiling visage more sleepy and relaxed than the cocky demeanor he bore before. It was strange really. The once stern figure that they all knew was now more emotive. It almost seemed as if he was another person. But how could he? There was almost no time when he could have been replaced. Mind control? There was no way one as stubborn as him could have been coerced into doing anything he did not want to do. It was all so uncanny.
"I am sorry for scaring you Layoka. Can you ever forgive me?"
Jorge tilts his head slightly to the right as he finishes his question, his eyes shut and arms held outwards to her. He curled his hands inward beckoning her to come into his embrace.
This is much to make for Prad. The death of innocence. The haunt by an ethereal entity vaguely human in shape and tone. The world within his mind breaks as the intrusive state of limbo without.
"You remember now...The strength I gave you when none would lift a finger for what they see as an unimportant human being such as yourself. The gaze beyond what any of them would ever muster in their lifetime..."
A gift? A curse. The former in the immediate times of happening. The latter, ever since. A protection of omission. A decadent path, seeking to push him somewhere. Or, even a state of being.
He sits by himself, surrounded by ancient soil permeating the room, the objects within the room travelled with him. Stone floats by, the ground features no grass, no dirt, no life. A curtain of darkness strays over the entirety of the place, as if they stood by the final frontier of earth.
"I gave you everything you sought. But now...this reminder, I hope you remember it..."
The man in the wall's shadow shape rushes at Prad, the latter unprepared for the act. His eyes, his body, his thoughts, his no longer. They glare under a malevolent flame as he keeps his frame sat upon the bed, radiating amidst the darkness of the temporal cosmos.
(BT) Armata scans Jorge with the keen eye and ascertainment of an immortal, as the tiny Dhampir bolts into the giant knight’s arms. He takes a moment to let Imperia stew in her surprise and for Jorge to embrace his newfound daughter, before stating his business.
“My reason for seeking you out, my most trusted advisor, is the overwhelming cast of subordinates troubling me of your absence. There is a rather large sum who have pressing matters they need you for.”
“Oh, yes, my Lord. I was simply giving myself a bit of respite and distraction from my ceaseless duties.” Imperia bows again respectfully, understanding that Armata had turned away from his own extensive to-do-list to locate her.
“Understandable, Ms.Altovadus. When you are ready, return to your office at once. We have much more to do before the twilight hour is upon us.” Armata speaks with such absolution and authority, yet still managing to sound sympathetic and magnanimous.
“Yes, my Lord.” Imperia reluctantly agrees, and bows one last time to show Armata she understands the situation.
Jorge catches the tiny damphire and buries her face into his nack,holding her there tigas he turned around to study Imperia. His eyes ran up and down the length of her body trying to take in as many details he could scry.
"Surely there are others who are at least to a similar level in skill as her." Jorge replied as he turned back to Armata, the strange smile he bore earlier now replaced with his traditional sten expression.
"I do not wish to question your decision making skills, especially in front of your subordinates but is it not unwise to place so much responsibility on the hands of one individual even if they are entirely capable of dealing with it? Surely your must trusted advisor warrants a dedicated staff to herself?"
Possessed Prad lifts himself from the bed. All the unnatural event seeping from his possessor recoils back under him, the ink-like liquid rushing back to his feet, absorbed and torn out of this realm. As a result, the rift that was constituated by it withered down and died, screeching in a tone of defiance before finally forcing the walls back to as they were.
He walks further from the bed to the door, a hand on the knob and fingers ready to clench. Then a scoff...
He backs away with a few steps and jumps, arms borne on his chest in a cross "Let us see what matter of artifacts they may carry".
Static lightning rounds under him to act as a gate of some sort. It disassembles his body in a flight of particles, disappeared from the room in a sudden silence.
(BT,Jest) “She already has a staff, Jorge.” Armata shifts his gaze to the knight.
“It’s true Jorge. I have dedicated staff that help me retrieve the documents and reports I need. After I’ve reviewed the information and numbers they run my report to Lord Armata for a final decision. I’m not completely on my own.” Imperia’s entranced state is gone, and her business like demeanor has returned.
“Imperia is the one I trust to handle such an important task. As tiring as it may be, it is essential that only my best handle this task until Pramool is dealt with and secured. There is no room for errors.” Armata then shifts his gaze into an unexpected direction. He looks up, then slightly to the left, as if he had heard a strange noise.
The room filled with artifacts, armors, weapons, all crafted by the venerable lord of the domain. Breached a second time by Prad. A miniature gate swells on the floor, witness to a hand clenching on the floor still.
He pulls himself up, hidden in the shroud of his host, eyes full of violet tides "One can only gleam so much from otherworldly catalysts before the desire to seek ancient items for oneself becomes unbearable".
With a small hop, he pulls his feet from the gate, quick to collapse on itself, leaving the man walking among the rarities, his hand gleaming on the glass sheltering them. His eye cuts to a piece of armor, the one he was watching closely.
The bewildered host fixes the piece intently, his head nooked to the side with his interest clear to the empty halls "They say this one had been busying himself with the distraction of smithing..."
One of his hands slowly rises and clenches. Resonation from a piece of the armor occurs, attracted to his side. Just as gradual, it begins to detach from the complete suit, drawn to him.
He briefly raises the telekinetic hand, causing the piece to stop midway, now continuously spinning in a slow centrifuge as if exposed in a museum "They also said this one had other interests than the war of his kind. This gauntlet tells me otherwise".
He observes the machinations of the piece he holds in front of him, walking in a counter-wise circle "This one's talent clearly lies in the murder of another's kin, this ancient relic tells me much. A delusion to believe his hands can bathe in the absolution of a different path. The latent deposition of these tells me this one has tried such. Madness..."
Monologuing to himself, host Prad then wrenches him hand, causing small fragments of shard to appear "Never the less, this relic, and everything else is still of interest to me. Those who wore it, the experience they had within, the time of their demises, the metal composing this symphony of misery..."
(BT) “Aw, I didn’t get any ice cream.” Layoka sulks as her gaze switches between Imperia and Jorge. Imperia looks to Layoka and brandishes, her mood brightened by the child’s desire for a dairy treat.
“Ah that is true. Come, let us get you your treat.” Imperia waves for Jorge to follow. The two follow the Vampiress to the counter where Georgio works hard at the stove. “Excuse me, Georgio!” The Chief looks over his shoulder.
“Oh, Lady Imperia!” Georgio wipes his hands with a rag and approaches the counter. His eyes shift to Jorge and notes that giant man is holding Layoka, who Georgio recalls only like being held by Imperia. “So what have I done to gain the honor of seeing you today?”
“Oh ho ho. You flatter me Georgio. We’re here because Layoka has earned herself an ice cream cone.” Imperia nudges her head in Layoka’s direction.
“Is that so!” Georgio leans on the counter and smiles at the Dhampir. “Well then little lady, if Lady Imperia day you earned it, you must have earned it. So, what flavor you want?”
“CHOCOLATE!” Layoka shouts without hesitation.
“Didn’t take you long to decide.” Georgio chuckles. The chief turns around and walks out of sight, leaving the group for a moment. After a minute or two, he returns with an ice cream cone topped with a perfectly shaped blob of chocolate ice cream. “There you are.” He says handing the cone to Jorge to give.
“Now what do you say, Layoka?” Imperia leans forward.
“Thank you.” The Dhampir says very sweetly and cute.
"Your secrets. I will observe them" Host Prad still has the gauntlet spinning in midair encased in a mild telekinesis-like manifest, the hand he musters to enable this feat surrounded by gray metal.
He clenches it "The aroma of the past permeates this piece, longing to be sighted. Yearning to be breached. From the shard of its time, I manifest the tide of the Current, to spread backward. I wash this piece into the river of the hourglass".
A small rift rips open within the object, a dim lull to its tear, with it, a shining little piece. A small shard escapes it, as if ever present and hidden from the object. From it, a yellow miniature river swells from it, spilling on the gauntlet. The resonate is immediate, the item pulses with an alien source and swathes another rift, barely an bigger than it.
Host Prad waves his hand, an order to the shard by his side "Open it". It obeys, rushing forth into the small tear, and coalescing inside. A blur materializes as an illusion to a greater rift. An illusion that can be touched, but not changed. To be visited but rigid in its state. A piece of history host Prad opened into the time of this armor's birth. To witness its use...
Jorge took the cone from Georigo's extended hand and passed it up to Layoka.
The knight stays silent throughout the entire exchange, his mind off elsewhere as he tried to guess what Armata had heard. Had it truly been a danger to the Covenant he would not have declined his service yet he still had mind to guess as to what he found so fascinating.
"I do not wish to be rude but you were requested to return to your office. I would rather not be the reason as to why you fall behind in you duties."
The knight began to reach out to the Vampiress but stopped mid motion. His mind telling him that it was not necessary.
(Jester) His dominion over the castle and mastery of it’s halls are apparent as Armata senses the strange power that resonates now throughout the structure. His gut leading him to his armory, moving at a steady pace. Isn’t long before he enters into the private wing and lays eyes upon the armory, the source of the foreign power radiates just on the other side.
(BT) Imperia lets out a long exasperated sigh as she slumps a little in woe. “Regrettably so. Well Georgio, you have a nice day.” Imperia begins to turn around, until-
“Hold on now, my Lady. You and the big guy, you two, involved?” Georgio raises his brows with a mischievous grin.
“In-involved? I-“ Imperia barely has time to answer before Georgio prys further.
“I ask cause of that little show you two put on. You’re both dancin and gettin close enough to suck face. On top of that you’ve got a special place for Layoka here. Sorry if I’m out of line for asking but I couldn’t help my curiosity. After all this giant here managed to make every lad in this room jealous.”
Was he to truly walk over the distance, then he'd be place in sight of a rift rippling in a state of illusinary constitution, perpetually swirling into itself.
He'd see the gauntlet floating in stasis, its own imprint continuously seeping to a tiny shard hover in a encircling manner to it as a moon would to a planet. The latter, the source of the yellow-like liquid that seems to spill into the gate of history, a real and illusinary phenomenon eroded upon contact with the floor, further attaching its existence to the illusion of reality.
He'd witness the fabric of history yielding to the gauntlet's time of conception and lifespan leading to its entombed state, those that wore it and their lives.
He'd be in sight of all of these yielding to the boy Prad hosting a different aura holding one of his hands midair, bathed in a dim purple shade.
(Jester) Armata doesn’t even bother to turn the door handles to the armory, the Vampire Lord phases through the door and scans over his collection of work. His eyes stopping on Prad, and taking note of the young man’s current activity.
“Find my collection that fascinating, Prad?” Armata asks, his tone has a hint of suspicion as he notes the change in air around.
"Suck face?" Jorge grimaced." I don't believe that I have ever heard such a crude way of describing a kiss before in my life. Do believe me when I say that I have heard many versions of that phrase in my travels."
"Regardless of that what we are is of no importance. Lady Imperia required a distraction from her duties and I obliged."
Jorge kept his words purposefully vague but truthful, not once lying straight to the man's face but also avoiding the core of his question.
"I do not wish to be rude to you sir but Lady Imperia's private affairs are not the public's concern at this moment."
"Byt still I must thank you for the icecream. Lady Imperia, I believe it is time we escorted you back to your office. Or would you like to stay and partake in a cone as well?"
Like a clock who's arrows suddenly halt in their tracks, the swirl freezes in time. The spilling yellow river becomes suspended midair. Everything stops.
Except host Prad, slow to turn his head to face the interloper. The violet eyes swell brightly in a room darkened by the dying light of the Current's rift.
Was Armata able to peer beyond one's mask, he'd be witness to a malevolant smile under "Prad? Ohh, you mean the sacrificial boy..."
His entire body shifts to face the undead lord. Any mistake for Prad had been eradicated with the tone of his voice and choice of his words "I'm sorry to say, but the boy is sleeping right now. However, I am here in his stead".
(BT) “Me? Oh no, Sir Jorge.” Imperia waves her hand dismissively while shaking her head. “I can’t eat ice cream. I get brain freeze to easily.... annnnnnnd it goes to my hips. It’s probably best I return to my work.” Imperia then turns to Georgio before leaving. “Thank you, Georgio.”
“Don’t mention it Lady Imperia. And you big guy, no offense taken. Not everyone is familiar with my way with words.” Georgio waves before turning back to his work.
(Jester) “I see. The presence I’ve been sensing for some time now. You and I have conversed before, haven’t we?” Armata begins to stride unnaturally around the room, never losing sight of Prad. Armata’s cloak covers the entirety of his body, and the manner in which he moves is so smooth and spectral that it doesn’t even look like he’s walking, but gliding across the ground.
“Yes, we have. Your aura, expression, and lack of Prad’s personality, are all signs that I speak to someone else. So what are you? A split personality that awakens when Prad cannot cope. Or a spectator that haunts and possess him when it deems. Perhaps you’re a being that mentally persuades him from a far? Eitherway, how does Prad feel about you invading his body and mind, and steeling away who he is?”
Host Prad considers the question. Curiosity? For his host? "You ask for the boy? What a sudden change of character. You didn't seem to give a toss about him the moment we embarked on this...little journey".
Regardless, he makes a full turn to his interloper, the gate dimed in response to this turn of events. He raises his hands forward "Me? A split personality? Perhaps. I am human after all, a trait both I and the boy share in this derelict. The one layer he can return to as to avoid a cruel fate among those subservient to your liege..." His barren hand responds in a almost fully-clenched fist simply to drive the message home.
"Or maybe, a spectator from so far away. In time? In spacial distance? Both." His other hand coated in a blacke metallic glove rises to meet his resonation.
"You could forward one of your hypothesis and either would be correct. But, why ask these questions? What have you to gain from such a frail human to begin with?" His tone turns mocking and sardonic, questioning the count's sanity at what he had seen to be trivial inquiries.
"But you asked. The boy, how does he feel about my...influence? The same way one such as us could feel while in a second state. Instincts of survival, fight or flight. I could qualify as his own sense of self-preservation. Although I must admit, he still carries the same naive eyes of a optimistic child, convinced those that surround you would avoid flaying him alive. A thought that gravitates close even while speaking of your second meeting. A tone of anger, similar to those from the damned world, sending him trembling with such fright. Oh how easily the human mind of today is to forgive, really..."
(Jester) “Hmmmm. Tell me more about yourself first, spectator. And then I will answer your questions concerning Prad. What are your origins, if you know them at all? You are obviously not the young man, as his aura is far more blissful and cautious.” Armata begins to pace back and forth, watching this Altered-Prad with fixated interest.
(BT) “I suppose we shall. Seeing as how you can’t get enough of escorting me today....” Imperia takes Jorge’s arm again, but this time she places her off hand on Jorge’s crooked arm as well. The two begin their walk back to the Vampiress’ office.
"I am not, although anyone could device this much." Host Prad clenches his glove hand, thereby collapsing the Current's rift under a grind of illusion and reality, a very metallic cacophony seeping out violently.
His eyes turn from curious to somewhat placid "Really? You cannot feel the age of my coming? One would think a walking corpse such as yourself would be able to scent an old one, especially considering you are one overdue to the grave like many rare individuals. Eons passed, like sand, one could summarize...but so be it..."
Host Prad quickly seeps to the ground, disappearing form sight. But for a moment only, for he returns, hitched to a tall glass of showcase, sitting upon it. His hunched form is a decidation to non-chalant poise. HIs eyes radiate with a poisonous malice.
"I am not one to hold trivial grudges like your kind. SO, it may come to no surprise that even in my ancient age, even a walker like I is not as old as you may be. I recall hearing about your true ancient age. Somewhere in the million or so. Rescind an oval number from the total and you get an approximation about my time on this plane. Then go beyond the first hundred-thousands and measure the weigh of my experience".
Host Prad then gestures ahead with two fingers "The world before the entirely of monsterkind started playing hypocrites, when they were feasting on my kin. When the gods tethered themselves to reality to do battle, thereby de-stabiizing the plane of existence itself. We called it the Circadian Eons. The very first spoke of the gods themselves, one where I was brought to this violent world, ended with the Exodus of the divinities..."
(Jester) Armata listens intently, he remains poised and collected, an usual response to someone speaking to him in such jagged tones. He continues to pace as he gathers the information and puts the puzzle together.
“So, you were mortal once? Or, were you something more? Obviously not a god, otherwise you’d have done more against Pramool....”
"Not a god. Not a spirit. Not a monster. An entity you would never glance at a second time, like the kind that preceded you. I. Am. Human. A human who has lived in the primordial times..."
A slight giggle escapes host Prad's mask, one chorded in a sardoni tone "And I didn't. Why would I? This...this is not my fight. Nor is it the boy's, the sacrificial pawn. One you see as nothing more than a walking meat bag. Like the rest of your corpse walkers, I distance myself from your plight. A plight you have brought to yourselves. The humans that lived in the damned world, their fates were already sealed under the rulers of the night. Why would I interject myself for savages who toyed with the lives of my kin so long ago? Why would I interject myself for the same individuals that herd the condemned of the damned world like cattle? Why would I interject myself in a conflict spawned by your own hands? I am human, therefore, there is little doubt you would come to an understanding of my people's suffering, just as I couldn't hope to comprehend the game you seem to have taken on since last time..."
(Jester) “Heh, hehe, hehehehehe.” Armata rapid fires a guttural giggle that the altered-Prad hears from all directions, as the Lord has control of the castle beyond an authoritative level. “You talk and act as if you have me all figured out. And I must say, I find it amusing.”
Armata soon smirked at Altered-Prad with smug and arrogant stare, fully showcasing his lack concern over this corrupting force’s conclusions on him. “I ask about the young man’s opinion because, it’s his body, your occupying. Why do I concern myself with this matter, if I was so ready to lead him to danger? It’s simple. Prad agreed to the mission. As young as he is, he knew there would be danger. And thus I trusted him to pull his weight and not slow our progress. He has proven a valuable ally, thus I find it note worthy to keep an eye on his health and reward him for his courage.”
“Your skepticism and bleak overview of this castle and it inhabitants, is unwarranted and uneducated. You have not spent enough time here to pass judgement on those who call this place home. Let alone my people or any others.” Armata then closes the distance between Alter-Prad.
“No, no you know nothing of the suffering they’ve endured at the hands of YOUR kind. And just like us, YOUR kind reviled in bloodshed of your enemies, the ends justifying the means.... My world made peace with humans. Guarded them, raised them. What has befallen my world is our responsibility, and now they fight to fix it. As do I.”
“There is no possibility the boy you control, considers you a friend. While you sit here and bluster your grim opinion of the innocent, that boy sits in darkness. That sacrificial lamb, as you call him, deserves better than that. He should be mentored, if you grant him so much. Not left in shadows.” Armata then sneers, as if he was suddenly disrespected.
“Also, I gave Prad, permission to walk this hall and examine this collection.... Not. You. The young man is my guest. Not. You.... I wonder if Prad can hear me. I wonder if he understands me, deep down wherever his soul lay in your shadow. I wonder if he realizes the potential he has. Or the fact that I prefer his company vastly to yours. A vengeful spirit blinded by it’s rage and distrust, so much so that it possesses a kind young man.”
“I do not know the nature of the pact you hold with this boy, nor the circumstances at which you latched yourself to him. But I do know he’d be better of with your poisonous hate running through his veins.... I would know, I’ve hated for a long time. It blinded me to many things, and know you are blinding that boy from the good in front of him.” Armata steps back.
"My oh my...to think you would go so far as to play the peerless defender of the innocent". Host Prad crosses his hands, the words sent back to him passing as nothing more than a fallacy "Surely you needn't to put facade. After all, the history you bear on your shoulders is not shrouded..."
"Have you forgotten the countless dead that stack behind you? The monument of your sums? My kin, dead by your hands, your teeth? I see them, wailing. The whiff of blood since long evaporated from those you used to slaugther, it smells from here. Why play the defender this moment?"
"Besides, I speak of this characteristic, for my sight have witnessed the depth of the uncaring you sprout against the boy. The tribunal...the time before that. You seemed more concerned about imposing your rotted domination on his person as you do this cohort of yours. Just like your blood kin that parade themselves in the damned world. The arrogant, the violent and the cold one. All I could see was the heap of corpses that stood behind them, from the kin that share flesh with mine, exhausted from the tireless work they had placed on them. Discarded and forgotten. And you come to claim they seek the well-being of the people?" Host Prad utters a singular laugh of disbelief "Please, undead, your comedy is at it's utmost".
"And of course we would rebut against the beasts, the horrors. Like the ones you let parade in this domain of yours, in close proximity of humans. The weak-minded as you like to see them fit. You speak of wars we have brought upon your monsterkin when you have placed a hundred on us with no other reason than to inflict attrocities on the defenseless"
"You speak of my bleak view on the macabre denizen of this place...are you so quick to forget what acts they have done to us? The dead...the suffering. And now, you spin this entire ordeal as if I was found with a lack of care. For every of your kind falling, my kin had suffered a thousand-fold. Men. Women. Children. Dead. And now, you bear this mask of absolution, as if your kind and the jagged beasts in general had forgotten the countless suffering they've imprinted on themselves. AND our kind. I haven't...So forgive me if I keep my skepticism about this sudden heel-turn you are parading in front of me with a pretense of care for the boy you haven't spent a thought about..."
Lightning crashes somewhere near the castle. A bright, violet, screeching bolt of thunder. Speaking of this had reminded host Prad just how much he despises monsterkin. A hatred festered throughout his life, now renewed under the thought of pretense Armata was puppeting before him "What have you about accusing another of poison? WHat last words have you given to millions you've butchered on a whim? What have the wreches you speak for have about the humans they have killed in their eternal unlife? Would you spout the same hypocrisy to all the families you've sent to the graves? Would they? Would this sickening cohort of yours speak the same words to the dead she had commited? Would this festering parody of beasts you shelter offer words of regret for their attrocities? Would you all?"
Another bolt falls outside, semeingly attuned to host Prad's calamity in his voice, cashing with an incredible cacophony.
(Jester) “So many questions. Seems like I’m starting to get somewhere....” Armata begins pacing around Alter-Prad now.
“No, I have not forgotten my body count. Only a terrible Lord would. I looked to establish a dynasty. From nothing I raised the army I needed to secure my place as monster beyond this world. A force that rivaled the Demon Lord’s perversion of the human/monster relationship. Just like any empire, the foundation was built on the dead.”
“The world of Tepes is no different. Men and Vampire alike fought and died to create a secure and strong order, where Vampires watches over humans, protecting mortals from the savage lesser kin. That empire was built on bodies, but those bodies chose to be the mortar willingly.”
“But let’s move onto ‘these beasts’, as you call them. Only the most ancient have blood on their hands. Most of these Mamono are innocent, simply born in this current area and seeking love and fulfillment as much as any human. Are you really so narrow sighted that you can’t recognize this. Yes, your prejudice blinds you. Mamono are not monsters, real monsters, are beings like PRAMOOL. He will burn my world, this world, EVERY world in his path. I do declare he is the monster you should be focusing your anger on.”
“Who I was, is no longer the issue. Yet it must never be forgotten. But recognize the very savagery you condemn from me and monsters, to your own kind. How many bodies lay the foundations of every human dynasty? Countless. Your kind is just as guilty. But it doesn’t matter. Pramool will come. No matter where YOU run, no matter WHO you control. No matter WHAT you believe, Pramool will come. And he will devour everything.... like it or not you are bond to this, as Prad has agreed to fight on. Proving he is far more courageous than give him credit for.”
“Maybe someday, if you ever learn to put your hate aside, I’ll tell you why I chose a different path. Why I chose to be a benevolent Lord. Until then, I leave you to ponder.”
"Innocent...the young ones, innocent? I that why every one I lay eyes on on, all I can hear is the unending wails of the dead behind them? But...it matter not, does it? You washed your hands off of the deceased in your mind, as one could expect. As the rest does from this 'place' you named Tepes. All is forgotten, it matters no longer, to you, nor they..."
"But it does, to me. I have not forgotten. Their memories, the last of the proof of their presence...and wrenching deaths. And so, I do not forgive, as they their pleads came without mercy. You...and your kind, and the beastkin...None have offered mercy, none have offered shelter. Butchery, savagery, suffering. These are what you offered to us. And the dead...they went out, weeping and begging".
Host Prad remains sitting, his eyes now gleaming in a blinding light. The room around them darkens to the impossibility of seeing even the furniture. Slowly, entities rise to the surface, things ancients. The dead, beyond the zombies. Specters devoid of visages, bearing a cross on the front instead. Tall ones, short ones. Men, women, children. All silent, standing in a lined hall, in the thousands, their heads sulken down "You've built a kingdom out of their bones. A society out of the macabre display of tally kills. And now, you tell me you washed your hands of their plight. And you muster the confidence to speak of redemption. By forgetting them. No rite, no peace, no funeral..."
The thousands turn their cross-bearing faces to Armata, ever silent in their act "Go ahead, undead one. Tell them. Tell them to 'get over it'. All the misery, the death, the destruction, tell them you have turned a leaf. Tell them the other animals have done the same. If you can get their approval, then I shall lent my unbridled hand to this genesis your kind have roused from sleep, a war of your making. One you have brought down by casting the lives of my kin with no care to the aftermath. Until then..."
Host Prad shrugs by the shoulders and arms, not a single ounce of care seeping from this possessor at the utterly of Pramool "As you mentioned, I return: I'll leave you to ponder on this little dialogue..."
The specters have their gazes fixated on him, most recongnizing their ancient killer. Yet they remain, likely under host Prad's words. An eerie silence compounded by cold winds...
(Jester) “Heh, HAHAHAHA!” Again Armata laughs at how absolute the judgement is. “Who said anything about forgiveness? Who has told you I’ve washed my hands of my crimes? I take responsibility for my past, which is why I do what I do now....” Armata leans in close. The castle then shifts, the torches burn brighter than before as all other light fades. The weather outside churns violently as Armata closes the gap.
“I do not deserve THEIR forgiveness. There are only two beings though, I beg for it. But them-“ Armata points to the faceless many. “They are to decide for themselves. I do not fight Pramool, or lead a Covenant of equal rights for redemption.... I do it because I have the power to, because I have the want to, I do it because it is the RIGHT thing to do.” Armata turns to the faceless dead.
“Ponder. Ponder what? What I was, was a monster. But no more. However words are not enough. I may not be able to return your lives, but I can insure those of your kin, by stopping Pramool! Take that for what you will.... If you will not have that, then so be it. But I will see to it all the same.”
Host Prad looks at the undead for a few seconds. His eyes do not waver, as he was expecting a repsonse of pride, mistaken as arrogance to his view. As for the specters, they turn their crossed faces away. All of them, ever silent.
Host Prad falls under another gap, the same he used to travel to this room. The specters all return faces to him. He shakes his head and then lifts his hand, violently opening his palms. Instantly, the darkness, the specters, everything he has brought here, they disappear, leaving the room as it was.
His back still turned to the undead, he walks away, going for the door. His voice, one speaking its end Then we are done here, undead. Seek what you wish. I now have the knowledge of what you truly are. One visage among the rest of the savages..."
(Everyone) “You know, Sir Jorge? A woman can pull a lot from that statement. You’d best choose your words more carefully. Layoka’s interests differ from my own. While she needs a father, I could use a strong steel Knight to keep my would-be suitors at bay.” Imperia giggles. Layoka noms away happily on her treat, not paying any mind to the conversation at hand.
Host Prad does not return any word. The mind of the possessor is detached from the conversation, as he has already assumed to have gained everything he needed to know from Armada.
His walk is slow and methodical. The interest to study the artifacts is gone. As he walks, two shadows pace by his side, hidden beyond the senses. Their blades stop humming in their track. He remains quiet, wondering what could interest him. After all, he has direct control.
"Aye they do tend to pull meaning from where there is little but that's the fun part."
Jorge pulls his arm in closer and Imperia by proxy, bumping her against his cold armor. He clasps her hand in his and leans his face in ever closer to hers. His eyes focus in like a hawk eyeing a fat rabbit before it swoops in for the kill.
"A while ago you asked me why I teased you... calling me cruel even."
Jorge inched Layoka away slowly as he got ever closer to Imperia, his cheek brushing against her ear as he whispered softly to her.
"I do it because I enjoy watching you... your reaction, you squirming, you turning red. Call me cynical but oh do you enjoy it no? I enjoy seeing the side you hide from everyone else..."
"Yes I am cruel. But in my time around you I learned that you like this side of me. Don't you?:
Just as he inched forward Jorge pulled back and away from the advisor as if their little exchange had never happened.
(BT) Imperia remains quiet. She has response to Jorge, but she decided against saying it as it could possibly create unwanted tension between them, and produce an uncomfortable environment for Layoka. No she presses on keeping her thoughts to herself, pushing past her desire to speak her mind. Instead she gives a small vague answer to at least let Jorge know he is not being ignored.
After letting out an exasperated sigh his cocky expression slowly began to fade leaving the group to continue on in silence save for the tiny damphire who blissfully enjoyed the rich chocolate ice cream in her possession.
He knew there was something wrong but he had not the courage nor the will to attempt to defuse the bomb he had just created. No. Should it explode better it would be better if it happened much later than now with Layoka present.
"Well we are here... it was a pleasure to escort you two lovely young ladies but it appears that we have reached our destination."
They fade away once more, the drifters. They fade far from their master's side, returned to the darkest corners of this domain as extra pairs of eyes.
Host Prad uses yet another rift under the need of a shortcut back to the room he calls a derelict. The room darkens as the inner workings of the linked minds is made manifest. Host Prad lays his violet eyes on Prad himself, caged in the darkness of his mind. His body is slumped, head sulken, arms woobling to the front. Utterly unresponsive, his eyes are blank as if he was in a struggle against...something. Memories of blurred origin.
"Poor child..." he mutters in an indifferent voice, considering the thought of rescind his direct control. Nothing here interests him anymore for the time being.
Host Prad cups his hands together, thereby absorbing the darkness just as it shatters the shackles of caged Prad. The possessed body crumbles as his possession is relinquished and the caged manifestation of the young man is erased. Then...
Prad slowly wakes up, his head wracked in pain "Ugh...what happened--ohh..." Seeing himself on the floor, he can only summarize a case of possession by his 'guest'. He jolts as he spots the man in the wall sitting on his bed, staring directly at him "Be on your feet, youngling. There is someone requesting your presence".
"My--who and why?" Confusion bewilders Prad, struggling to even get himself risen. A side effect of possesion in his case was the neural entanglement, simulating dead limbs slowly taking its life back.
"The rotten corpse that hold dominion on this derelict wishes to speak to you. Unfortunate as our second meeting went, I have no true reason to deny this simple request".
Prad jolts yet again, kick starting his legs awake "What? What did you say to him? What did you do?"
"Retain your calm, young one. If the status had decayed this deeply between us, then I would had us departed from this sanctuary of animals. Now go".
Prad stretches himself with worry and prompty gets himself out of the room, tracing back his possessor's path back to the room of artifacts. Obviously, Prad can feel the gleaming irises of the man in the wall tethered close.
(Jester) Prad halts why of the door to the armory, his keen sense can feel the power of Armata on the other side, waiting. Summoning his courage he turns the door handle and enters. A sudden rush of heat washes over him, which is then blasted away by unyielding cold air. Prad looks over his shoulder and sees the Gray Man stuck outside the the threshold of the doorway, unable to enter. A sheen of crimson energy coats the air around them. Prad was in some kind of stasis field conjured by Armata, one the Gray Man could not penetrate.
Prad could not hear him or feel his influence, it was if he was free. However, the Gray Man was still connected to Prad, their union is at the shadows on the floor.
“Sense you stand in this room, I know you are Prad. Come, I’d like to speak to you alone.”
(BT) “Indeed it is, Sir Jorge.” Imperia turns to her office, but stops. She looks at Jorge and suddenly smiles, yet her appearance becomes very formal. “Tell me, Sir Knight. Would you care to join me for dinner this evening? It would please me greatly.”
"How...peculiar" The man in the wall stands at the precipice of the construct "This one really wishes to have a personal count, does he? To think he assumes I've no way of surmounting this little obstacle. So be it...let us play along..."
Prad, on the other hand, as nothing less than utter panic. Whatever strain of power he was lended to by his 'spectator' it was no more. He truly felt like a lamb among monsters, with no true manner of elf-defense "What? What?! Why me alone? I'm already wounded, now I have nothing for protection!"
His dagger was still at his room, the only relic he could rely on outside of the man in the wall, but he didn't even have that either. His head frantically spins left and right, a sheer panic in his heart at the thought of being picked on, his measure of confidence gone with his the source of his power refusing to act.
(Jester) “So my theory was true, your.... ‘friend’ is the source of your powers. Which means you are as helpless as a lamb.” Armata towers over Prad as a pillar of pure Vampire might, but his expression is not one of mischief or superiority.
“Let me begin Prad by saying you are in no danger. I have not called you here because you have offended me or I want to dominate your existence. No, I’ve called you here because I’ve just recently had a personal exchange with your friend and now I wish to speak to you in private.” Armata walks around the room pointing to runes freshly painted in blood.
“Blood magic, dear boy. And before you start, it’s my own blood. Through these runes I permeate my power into an area, this room is now completely cut off from your friend. Well, at least for a short time. I have not mastered this trick yet, and your friend is very strong. It is only a matter of time before I can no longer hold this. So let us chat for a moment.” Armata returns to Prad and places his hand on the young man’s shoulder.
“Come. Sit down and let us chat for a bit.” Armata leads Prad to a luxurious chair that masterfully crafted. Craved lion heads in the arm rests and tailored velvet for the cushion. “What do you think of that seat?”
Considering everything that transpired, Prad does remember the fact that he had given him the freedom to observe pieces of the domain. A measure of trust, one sufficent to disarm the sense of panic, though the young man still harbor a hair of cautious.
One that further cuts away as he spots the chair. A chair of luxury, one he didn't expect to gaze upon "Woah! What manner of chair is this? It looks custom-made. Like one some nobles spend a treasure chest worth just to showcase it to the others. They would kill anyone even thinking of touching, let alone sitting on one".
His fright is replaced with a sense of wonder as he touches the cushion "And you want me to sit on it?" His fingers pass on the arm rests "Feels like some artisan insisted on individually making these".
Prad slowly sits on the chair and takes a deep breath, indicated by his extended shroud, his hands on the lion heads "Really feels like a stubborn man decided to make these by hand, by himself...it is worth it".
He turns to Armata, comfortably slumped on the chair "You said you wished to speak to me...without his influence?"
(Jester) “Hahahaha! I’m glad you like it, especially because I made it.” Armata walks a short distance away from Prad, glancing over his custom armors encased in pure glass. “I’m quite the creator. It helps pass the time. I’m an immortal Prad, even we learn a trade.”
Armata then reruns to Prad’s side and kneels down next to him. “You see Prad, these lion heads I carved with my actual hand.” Armata’s index finger then grows into a claw the could rend flesh and steel equally with ease. “It’s good for making the fine details.” The Vampire’s hand returns to normal.
“Now then, I did indeed wish to speak with you alone. And you needn’t worry. Your friend cannot hear us with this dome. I will be forward with my question. Are you happy with your arrangement with this Spector? How did you, a growing young man become his vessel, to exploit whenever he chooses?”
"Happy?" Prad lowers his head. It is clear he isn't. He never was. Who would be living under a man's puppeting machinations "To be honest...no. I've never really been. He's...he's been cold with every interaction...every single one..."
He collects his hands in the middle, unsure of how to drive on the sensation of indifference. A breath jumpstarts his thoughts into words "This...woman we were to come to rescue. The horrible conditions she's been through, with those maniacs. I've killed one of them even under his influence, but it felt good. It felt like I was throwing back a part of what they've inflicted to her. But...he didn't feel the same. He didn't allow me to kill one of the gemini for that sense of righteous retribution. No, it was just because it was 'fun' for him..."
Prad feels the same powerlessness encroach him. He doesn't care seeing as the man in the wall can't hear his words "You hear me? He didn't care. He didn't care! Just because she's a vampire. You want to know how I learned of it? He told me! He told me it was her fault. She was too weak. It's the law of your kind. That was the 'price' of her defeat. But, I could see it in her eyes. She hated that, and he sneered at her perceived weakness. He told me were we the first to seek her out, all he'd do is offer her death for that humiliation".
"So no. I don't. All I can feel from him...is hatred. Hatred towards you, hatred toward the dragon, hatred toward Roda, hatred toward even the young Layoka. He sees every one of you as beasts to put down. Our shared thoughts tell me that. It has been for ages..."
(Jester) He listens. Armata listens carefully to Prad, his golden eyes staying fixated on Prad, until Prad has finished his rant. “I see. What an unpleasant soul to be melded with your own. Keeping you in the dark, manipulative and full of anger. It’s a shame. You are but a growing man. You should be courting girls, learning a trade and building friendships. Not be a vessel for some vengeful entity.”
“Long ago, in another life, my inaction lead to a young girl, just as old as you, being captured and experimented on by a mad human scientist in my employ. It wasn’t till long after she had died that I learned of her suffering, by then there was nothing I could do.... I refuse to see you suffer, your best years wasted. So, you’ll be added to my list of work. Together, maybe we can show this ghost another path, or excommunicate him entirely.”
“It would be best for you. He’ll just consume and leave nothing but shadow and dust.... She likes you, you know? Roda. She speaks of quite fondly, to point where I believe she wants to steal a kiss from you.” Armata looks upon Prad with a paternal smile, as if a father has learned of his son getting a girlfriend.
(BT) “There are plenty of nursery staff to watch over her-“
“I don’t need to be babysitted!” Layoka throws up her arm in defiance, her ice cream cone held firmly like sword being raised by an officer leading a charge. “I’m old enough to take care of myself!”
Imperia can’t help but giggle at Layoka’s protest and looks to Jorge, who holds the fiery bundle. “Well, there you have it Sir Knight. I think this Dhampir has far more strength then we give her credit for. I dare say we should feel sorry for anyone foolish enough to question her independence.” Imperia strides up to Jorge and rises to her tip toes, just to get to Jorge’s ear.
“I’ll arrange something. You needn’t worry about her.” She whispers into the giant’s ear. Imperia then backs away from Jorge, and crosses her arms. “So, can I expect to see you in the lounge this evening?”
"Yea...yea, I'd like that..." Prad turns away for a moment, pondering for a bit. His eyes return to the stare seconds before, followed by his head "The thing is...somewhere along this sea of malice...I could feel a hint of caretaker. I don't know what, but it feels like there was something else before this..."
Of course, the thought of the nurse seeking to insert herself close causes an uncontrollable blush to his face. It's a good fortune to have his shroud shelter his cheeks, everything but his eyes "Really?" His voice displays the unfiltered jubilee at this unexpected news, only for him to quickly shut it down "Well, I don't--I mean--I don't know--what? I don't really have anything mounting me as a worthy companion...besides..." He lowers his head once again "I think he knows of it as well. I do not wish for her to be caught into the crossfire. Just like when my had was truck by lightning. He...didn't approve of my words in the dragon's...and your defense, back at the forest of the other world..."
(Jester) “You do not have to be a nobleman to gain a beautiful woman’s affection, Prad. Do not dwell on your faults, focus on the fact that somebody admires you despite those faults. Roda is a fine girl, I’ve only spoken with her a few times, but she leaves a good impression.”
“As for your friend, I’m not sure how we can turn this all to your favor. But remember, Prad. He needs YOU. Without you he has no avatar. He is just a cold space in a room of light without a host. To have lived this long with him, you are far stronger than you know. Now then, the barrier will fail in a moment, your friend is quite rigorous in his investigation of my blood magic.”
“I’m going help you Prad.... I swear it.” Armata then closes his eyes as he pours the last ounce of energy into keeping the barrier up. “By the way, if you like that chair, you can keep it.”
"It's going to be complicated for a bit, to manage to look beyond them. As you can imagine, I'm not Adonis, I'm no noble, nor a wealthy man. But, if she is willing to look past them, then..." He didn't need to finish the sentence for the palace's lord to govern his will to make the effort to allow himself to receive this attempt at a heartfelt link. Wandering alone for years kind of have the effect of a sundered self-esteem. As for the vampire's second set of words...
For a moment, a moment only. Beyond the man in the wall's influence, beyond what governs his powers, his everything, Prad could feel something on his shoulder. A gentle hand, or at least, the feeling of it. His subconsciously places his own hand on the afformated shoulder, as if to respond to something "Of course. The only problem lies in having him at least give me aid for this soon-to-be confrontation. I do not wish to come to someone's aid only for him to rescind his allowance at a moment's notice. But, the dagger migth suffice in that situation. As for the chair..."
"Yes...please..." Prad places a hand on the chair, very well endowed with it "I would love to keep it close. It brings relaxation. The hospital bed is a fine one, but, having a chair would allow me to avoid using the bed for everything shy of an actual table".
(Jester) “Then keep it, Prad. It is fine chair that up until now has sat here unused. I’d rather a friend take it for free, Thant some noble scrub buy it, only to gloat of his purchase.” With a snap of his finger, the barrier is defused. And Armata takes his leave.
“The chair will be brought to your room Prad. Have a lovely evening.”
"Of course" Prad makes his leave by a bow. As quick as he leaves the room, he feels the eyes in the dark darting his back. It does not speak for the man in the wall does not feel the surge to inquire about what occured beyond his sight.
This comes as a relief for Prad who takes it upon himself to return to his room, although the hunger reaches the bowels of his stomach. Rather than make a direct return, he diverts to the mess hall, hoping for leftovers to consume.
(Everyone) Hours pass and sun begins to fade. Vampires begin to appear in groups with their husbands, the luxurious halls filling up with nobles and the rich. Armata is nowhere to found to the dismay of some.
Prad sits in his room, enjoying a wonderfully cooked slices of ham glazed in honey, a side of assorted vegetables and a strong ale.
While Jorge steps reluctantly into the VIP wing. The giant wears his cleanest tunic and pants, far from the expected requirements of the high-class crowd. But he cared not, the opinions of the delusional high born mean nothing to him, for he was here at Imperia’s request.
(Jester) Prad soon receives a knock at his door, and a bright voice chirps to his ear. “Prad! It’s me, Roda! May I enter?”
(BT) Across the room of staring of aristocrats and nobles, Jorge sees Imperia anchored at the bar, looking bored and anxious. Waiting for her Knight invited.
Prad's eating session falls in complete disarray. All from the simple voice coming out of the room, causing him to completel fall over his bed. While a simple visit form her wasn't anything to overact about, with the revelations of Armata nailing his thoughts about her, worse still, the fact that his own feelins mirror hers had him unprepared and flailling about.
The man in the wall simply glances at his fallen host with an unimpressed stare. Or he would, assuming one could device his expression beyond the gray helmet "Rise yourself, little one. This performance is sadening to witness".
Prad slowly lifts himself back afoot and wanders to the door, a simple nudge enough to open it. He returns to the bed, his mask on. Knowing him, he's need it "It's open".
He compulsively fixes his collar and tie, the latter appearing slightly smaller on him than a regular person. He did not like dressing up at least not in clothes that did not fit him. He had a nice set of clothes back at his home, he was there he thought to himself but he never truly expected to beed it the last time he was there. He wished he had collected his suit. He wished he still had his dress uniform from his time in Lescaite. He wished that Lescaite never happened...
Pushing his thoughts aside Jorge strode forward into the room walking past the nobility who stopped to judge or simply ignored his presence entirely. For a moment he felt self conscious of his presence there but he never let it show as he made his across to Imperia, clearing his throat to grab her attention from the flirting suitors.
(Jester) “Prad?” Roda slowly opens the door, and peers inside. As she sees the coast is clear, she steps inside and closes the door. A small brown leather satchel hangs at her side, her fluffy paws clasped at her waist.
“I came to apply some healing salve to your arm, as well as apply new bandages.”
"Ohh, sure!" The young man i quick to unfasten the bandages next to the empty plates. He does it with sweaty set of palms, trying to keep his calm "I didn't think it'd be this soon for them to be swapped. Very sorry I don't look ready".
(BT) “FINALLY- I mean, Yes. Nice of you to show, Sir Jorge.” Imperia quickly takes Jorge’s arm and tugs him toward a place of her choosing, the Vampiress sickened by the consistent barrage of suitors driven by lust. It is in this moment Jorge notices the strength of Imperia. Though she mostly business and sometimes a wreck, she is not without a Vampire’s fabled strength.
She pulls Jorge into a secluded room, a trident shaped candelabra sits upon a table for two. A bottle of exquisite wine set between two glasses.
“Finally you arrive! I swear, Jorge, I was ready to tear out someone’s throat! ‘Lady Imperia, may I do’ this, ‘Lady Imperia, would you join me for’ that! Argh, so many fools. So many pampered boys who think money is the key....”
Imperia sighs, pinching the bridge of her nose and slumping onto a nearby couch. “Sir Jorge, please pour me a glass of wine.” Her tone exhausted.
(Jester) “No need to apologize. I’m concerned about your hands, and your health.” Roda sits alongside Prad, her unbelievably soft paw picks up one of Prad’s arms. “They are healing nicely. Soon they will be like their old selves”
Roda pulls a jar of fresh conjured salve. She removes the lid and dips her paw in. Slowly, methodically, lovingly, Roda applies the regenerative salve to Prad’s scorched skin. Nothing but pleasure and comfort fill him as this tan-skinned Werewolf showcases her uncanny skill at caring for her patients.
It's a really good thing Prad still bears his shroud, he really was unprepared for this 'close' encouter. Regardless, he clears his throat through a muffle "Well, I've met with the man of this castle for a second time. He gifted me with this chair by the window. He mentioned something about offering it to me for free long before another with access to money could afford it to gloat about. To be honest, I didn't expect such a behavior form him of all people".
He sighs with great relief, mostly part from the treatment his hands were receiving "I like it.".
Jorge carefully reached out for Imperia's wine glass bringing it close to his side before taking the uncorked bottle and slowly poured it into her glass allowing the sound of the fermented nectar fill the room for a moment.
"I am sorry for not being here sooner but I generally stay away from this area and got lost long the way. You know traditionally it should have been me waiting for you to arrive... you were not waiting long were you? I would hate to be the driving factor in your suffering."
After filling the glass Jorge gingerly carries it over to Imperia holding it out for her to collect.
"After all only I am allowed to bother you in such ways no?"
(Jester) “I told you before that Lord Armata was a kind leader. He cares for all under his charge. He may not be the most talkative or colorful person, but he is not without generosity.” Roda answers as she applies more salve to Prad’s arms.
"Yea...I guess I was just put off by what I've heard. A preceding reputation if you will".
He finds himself out of things to mention. Right now, he's fighting with himself to avoid speaking out of line like last time. Unfortunately for him, the words left to him concerning her scratch at the corner of his mind. It wasn't the man in the wall considering his silence for the time being.
(BT) Imperia lets out a sigh and takes the freshly poured glass of wine. She swirls the wine in the glass, aerating it, before taking a sip. “Thank you Jorge, but you needn’t apologize. It is not your fault. It’s my fault for being the advisor of Lord Armata himself. Everyone wants to get into the inner circle, everyone wants power, everyone wants to be an essential cog. What better then way marry the second most powerful authority here?”
“If I am to pick a suitor, they mustn’t be driven by the need to gain power. Just give a good, loving man.” Imperia’s ranting seems almost as if she is talking out loud. Rambling her frustrations and desires.
“By the way, you look handsome tonight. Though your wears seem a bit, tight. Did you ever think about visiting our tailor?”
(Jester) “I understand Prad. Many people felt the same way, but in time we grew to appreciate what Lord Armata has brought, and leave the past, in the past. Everyone deserves a chance to be better, and Lord Armata seems to be taking advantage of his second chance. So much has been done here already, and so much more will be done.” Roda begins to wrap Prad’s arms.
“You just relax and take advantage of your new found privileges. With such access to the castle, you can do anything. Even Armata’s personal library is open to you. Think of the knowledge he has stored away in towering shelves of books!” Roda finishes wrapping Prad’s one arm, then starts the other.
“Yea...I think I’ll go do that in a few. But right now, I appreciate the company...”
Prad is in relief. It’s been a while since he’s been able to the anything but burnt nerves in one of his hands. He rises an eyebrow in curiosity “Wait...privileged? Did he tell you? If so, what else did he say?”
(Jester) “I didn’t hear it from Lord Armata himself. But I overheard a guard talking about a young man being given access to Lord Armata’s private armory. Anyone with that level of clearance is privy to the private library.” Roda looks at Prad quizzically, wondering why he seemed so concerned about what she knew.
Jorge looked over himself patting down his clothing as he checked the pliability of the fabric surprise washing over him as reality hit him, removing any doubts he had beforehand.
"I suppose I have gained some weight since first lodging here... I won't lie it is a little embarrassing to admit it. I suppose i will visit the tailors tomorrow morning to have them make me some new clothing. After all you did once mention that my wardrobe was very limited."
Jorge placed his hands on his chair and gently applied pressure on it as he tested its stability.
"I apologize but I have had many embarrassing experiences with chairs... You look ravishingly beautiful this evening, i do not believe that I've seen you dress in that before."
His eyes do not fail to notice that state “Sorry, I was just curious about whether anything else was heard. You know bien guards can be...”
His...interest stems mostly from what he had spoken of last with the owner of the domain. Perhaps because of his constant surrounding by men wealthier than him in every way, Prad wasn’t the most confident of men around women. Even less around those who had an eye for him. Beyond the worry for the man in the wall, this was his present worry, for her to be told in one way or another of his extremely positive thought so about her.
(BT) Imperia looks down. She wears an all-black, deep v-neck dress lined in frills and lace, adorned in silver trimmings. The v-neck goes so deep that it gives Jorge a generous view of her cleavage. From her waste down, her back half is covered like a tail coat, but her front is exposed, also give Jorge a generous amount of leg to look at. Lastly she wears black leather boots that hike to her knees, the rest of her legs covered in stockings.
One could say she was dressed to impress, or seduce. Perhaps that was the reason she was getting so much attention. Nevertheless she blushed and smiled. “Thank you, Jorge. This was a piece I wore many years ago. I wasn’t sure I could pull it off anymore. But if your compliment is any indication, then I still wear it well”
“Pour yourself a drink.” She gestures to the bottle of wine.
Having her paw on his newly reshaped hand, with everything returned really made him glad to still have his shroud tethered on his face. He had a better control of whatever’s transpired in his mind.
However, he still had an answer to fulfill “Nothing, really. It’s not like we spoke about more...close affairs. I was just hoping nothing serious slipped about me. I mean, some did look at me weird and...”
It wasn’t clear as day he was just putting wordsmith in a hope tin divert the subject. Part of him thought he’s wasn’t that worthy of any sort of attention, let alone a woman’s.
"I do believe that I see another reason as to why you have garnered much attention... any normal man would have difficulty averting his eyes from such a fertile vally."
Jorge mused as he poured himself half a glass.
"It is a shame I don't have anything to match with your outfit. Perhaps we could start even more rumors that would discourage any potential suitors. Or worse. I start a fashion trend and all your new suitors begin to dress like me."
(Jester) “And what? What could the guards possibly speak of? I think you worry too much Prad. You should just take it easy, get your mind off of things and recover on healing. And I will personally see to that! Dr.Stanford has put you in my care.” Roda puts her paw to her breast, her smile beams with pride.
“You see, Dr.Stanford aside your wounds are out of the danger area. Now there is nothing left but healing. So all we need to do is continue to apply salves and change out your bandages every couple of days. Which is fine by me.”
(BT) “Oh please Jorge, do not concern yourself over attire. You are no longer amongst prying eyes. If I cared about your wardrobe I would have fled the moment I saw you. Not to mention I’ve already condemned myself to rumors the second I drug you into a private dining room. As far the rest of the party, we could be in the midst of unbridled nooky for all they know.” The Vampiress crosses her legs and waves her hand dismissively.
“Let the crowd think what it wants. It does not change my or your position or standing. People and Mamono alike always talk, gives them something to do.”
"Really?! So that means I get to watch that smile everyday---
And he had done it again. Days of seeing those gleaming eyes. A bountiful smile. The privilege to feeling the paws of an excessively careful nurse. Prad had done it again, letting his Jubilee at the news of days of contact breach the cautious nature he was known for.
His eyes had caught it...partially "I get to be mended for for the next day" His brain is trying to salvage whatever dignity he managed to torn asunder with a returned composure " I appreciate that, really"
(Jester) Prad observes again, Roda smiles at what she hears, yet she doesn’t tease, antagonize or capitalize on it. She remains quiet, yet her smile and wagging tail let Prad know she is appreciative and ready for more of his kindness. Roda however desires for Prad to speak to her in full when he is ready. Until then she will continue to comfort and care.
“You are very flattering, Prad. Thank you, for your kind words. Um, your bandages have been changed, so you’re good for a while. I’ll leave you to get some rest, but if you’d like me to stay, that would be alright....”
His thoughts capitalize to this third chance he receives by miracle, speaking like a drill sergeant"Ok, she still musters the will to overlook that evident slip up. She is even willing to stand at your side if you ask for it. So breath, relax. Do whatever if you wish to jump on the chance of extended company. But don't screw it up! Think it through, now!"
Prad takes a deep breath and turns to Roda, eyes filled one answer "Yes! I would love your company! What sane man wouldn't?!"
His brain fizzles with neural impulses "You idiot! I said relax, this
is not a relaxed and thoughtful response!"
'Even as an observer, I can witness the poor display to.mustrr, boy". The man in the wall couldn't help but comment on the atrocious scene he just witnessed
(Jester) “I-I uh....” Roda is at loss for words. She had not expected or even considered such a response from Prad. She then smiles warmly at Prad, and again places her plush paw upon his hand, but now she wraps her other arm around him. The Werewolf slowly pulls Prad into a warm and comforting hug, one that disbands all forms of anxiety and doubt. Roda nuzzles Prad’s cheek, and pats his back.
“Thank you Prad. You’ve made me very happy....” Roda pulls away from the young man. She looks away, her cheeks red, her paws clasped in her lap, her tail wagging uncontrollably. “I.... I want to. I’d like to, umm....” The Werewolf struggles with her words.
(BT) “Excuse me, Sir Knight! To bed me would make you a ‘hussy’?! What am I, a cheap venture?!” Imperia’s outburst is loud and fierce, yet it is comical and not all serious. Imperia is having fun. Acting in a dramatic fashion, she rises to her feet.
“Sir Jorge, I am offended by such a conclusion. Were we to join so vigorously, it would not be a throw away moment!” Jorge could see instantly Imperia was beyond her troubles and having fun, playing to the subject and being dramatic with her demeanor.
His mind continues to spite him with virulent messages, knowing he was about to do something 'not intended'. Seeing her becoming shy in her act accentuates this percentage, which he does by taking her hands into his. He does not know where he gets this sudden momentum of courage...or foolishness but ignores the blarring alarms of his mind, thinking he was acting in madness.
"You can ask me, it's alright". A true calm of self reaches to him even while his body was sending contrarian signals. Perhaps seeing her struggling with simple words had gifted him something. Or perhaps this is a way of thinking buried so long in his psyche, but Prad has no problem reaching out as he is currently, his eyes filled with a humble confidence "Anything, really. Especially considering you're tolled away with my charred limbs".
(Jester) “No, caring for you isn’t a toll. It’s refreshing, encouraging and enjoyable. You’re so shy. So different. So I let you take your time until you were ready to open up to me. Your praise, is a rainfall in a great drought. Prad, I would like to be more than just a caretaker to you. Could we, um, perhaps spend more time together, beyond these check ups?” Roda’s tail is wild with life and her cheeks flush red. Her head resting on Prad’s shoulder.
(BT) “WHAT?! HOW DARE?! Sir Jorge, I’ll have you know that I have not bedded a man in.... I don’t know how long. My sexual appetites are none to be targeted.” The Vampiress huffs, and spins around while crossing her arms.
Prad's mind short-circuits, an array of words filtering through it in a broken fashion. Though one makes itself larger than the rest "Ok...despite your screw-ups, despite your subpar way with words, she is still hanging on to you. Somehow, she want to converge her path with yours, even with this utter lack of tack, this obvious person you are, devoid of everything a woman may want. You've got no true wealth, no Adonis appearance, no strength, no charm, nothing. So, I ask you, no, plead you. Think about what you'll say..."
Prad wasn't listening all much to his mind, too focused on her request...and her head resting on his shoulder, despit it making an effort to reach to him "Seriously, place your words carefully..."
It filters as white noise, the man already intent on answering with a burst of jubilee with no subtle way of placing it "Please, take a second with me. Think...breath, speak? Alright--
"Yes! I would love to take you on one-on-one dates with you! Is that question even worth asking? Seriously no man worth their salt would reject such an opportunity. It'd be like shutting the blinds to a sunshine literalliy smiling upon you!"
"No...no,no,no,no,no! Why did you have to answer like this?! You sound so desperate right now, it's off putting! You royally screwed up this time!"
Prad takes a hand to her shoulder and gently presses on it "I would love to have this opportunity bestowed on me".
(Jester) Roda remains silent, her right paw is placed upon Prad’s face, turning his gaze to her silver eyes. Her lips glisten with readiness to connect to Prad’s. Roda can no longer fight herself, she presses her lips to Prad’s and holds him there. Long she tastes him, holding him tight. She then pulls away and nuzzles into Prad’s chest.
Any and all retention of mind he may had have, gone...
A first-hand experience of how it feels to have a monster share a kiss with a mortal man. An experience he thought he was ready to endure, with years of solitude at the beck and call of a man not even here, hidden far from reality.
He wasn't ready for it, not at all. So unready he was, he didn't know how to react. His hands sought to move in anticipation, only to figure out it had already happened. He tatters his mask, only to discovered she had pull it far from his visage.
Prad wasn't ready for this. Fortunately for him, neither was the man in the wall. A ripple from...somewhere, anywhere. A sight of something he had never seen before, or accepted. An act utterly aline to him: genuine emotions from a monster. One that scorches the path he had seen them over take all the eons of his life. It had more power than he had anticipated, like the last time this Roda had acted in Prad's defense. A shroud cutting through, forbidding his immediate retaliation...
Prad blabbers and slammers, his cheeks as crimson as a rose "Hum...what...kiss...no, wait, hold one..." He shakes his head, trying to separate himself from this fever dream. All from a simple kiss "Hum...no...please. I've never done this to a woman. I..." It was like finding one's need for the closeness of another and not realizing it until bestowe on his person.
(Jester/Well done) Roda giggles and continues to nuzzle Prad. Her pale gray fur is like a bed comforter, her eyes like deep polished silver, her tanned skin and sculpted body is a showcase of her strength. Yet her attentiveness contradicts this. She cuddles the stammering Prad, her smile never fading.
“It was like, lapping water from a footprint, yet, the water was sweet and nourishing. I wish to drink more.” Roda looks up at Prad. She smiles and cuddles him tight.
“Prad? How do you have no special woman to your name?”
"Nay. Nay! Do not hide your assets from me! If you are to speak to me I wish to see all you bring to the table! Nothing hidden. Nothing shall be taken from my field of view!"
Jorge slams his fist on the table once more causing everything on it to shift slightly to the left of where it originally rested.
"You cannot remember when was the last time you bedded a man? Perposterous! That is unheard of... impossible even! What is wrong with you woman? It is no wonder you are so tired after work, you lack the spirit energy to properly recuperate after such a stressful day."
Jorge stands up and brings his chair closer to Imperia and sits down once more this time more reclined and relaxed than before, his smug smile slowly starting to make its presence known.
"How do you keep yourself going my dear? It must get awefully lonely in that giant room of yours... it must be awefully cold in there without a partner..."
"Well...how about giving me a second or two...I'm not quite used to that sort of treatment...hehe"
"You had to put that 'hehe, at the end, did you?"
Despite his calm, the young man was still in gripes with what just occured. It was, for a lack of better words, the last thing he was expecting. Still, hiw answer somewhat pessimistic "I'm no noble, no wealthy nor a charismatic man. Just an average man, really.I suspect that isn't an attracting feature for the ladies".
(BT) “Tirush remedied that for some time. Bringing me warmth on those cold nights when no other fire could satisfy. It was wonderful....” Imperia’s face grows sad, but she shakes it off quickly as she didn’t want to ruin the mood.
“Regardless, you must take me for some lustful Succubus. Sir Jorge, there are alternatives to bedding someone to gain spirit energy. Especially for Vampires. I’m taking about blood. The donated blood the Covenant receives is my source of spirit energy. Once a week I’ll feed from a blood packet to replenish my strength. It’s not my preferred method, but it works.”
(Jester) “For some, those are sought after features. But I don’t care for them. Prad, I like your uniqueness. And I also like how cute your shyness is.” Roda cuffs her paws around Prad’s hands while leaning up against him.
“Though I have to ask. Your body language and mannerisms right now are very cute. Have you ever been this close or intimate with a girl before?”
(Isn't that fun, you have a potential chink in the man in the wall's endless grasp on the boy)
"As I've sadly mentioned, the features you find endearing makes you a rare one among many. The places I have traveled had no such woman. Those who did already had someone to call close. By the time, I had forsaken this possibility".
The man, while struggling to fight the desire to 'release' his jubilee done twice, does not fight the cup she has around his hands, an esy smile coming to him "Hence the surprise I've bore when you decided to take the initiative in a manner common to dates".
“Well, a wild Mamono would just claim and ravage you with love. But I’m not from the wilds, so I’d rather work at a pace more comfortable to you. Although.... I won’t deny that my instincts as a Mamono are strong. Being this close to you, taking in your scent and even your taste. I feel like I’m on fire, my heart all stirred up....” Prad can feel the air moving by the mad swishing of Roda’s tail, a sign of her happiness and glee.
“Anyways, I’m still surprised you’ve had so little experience with girls. I would have expected at least one special lady was in your life.”
"Trust me, where I come from, men like Armata would easily be swayed for over average Joes such as I".
Seeing her this happy to be at his side made it hard for him to retain this wish to erupt the joy resonating in his hear. His face, unveiled, displays a chunk of this joy, with the returning and departing of his smiles, a strive to keep himself composed "It's actually a first to have somone who could easily have taken a more...sought-after man like you to go for the courier. Which is, to let me re-insert, a first for me. I guess I really should have had listen to him. I thought he was leading me to a wall".
"Well, Armata. Honestly, I didn't think he was this literal in his words. He did mention how astute you are in your profession...and then he said something about you being fond of the courier boy, which happens to be me..."
A flush of fresh blush returns to his visage, once again forgetting his face was no longer veiled "...and said that perhaps you wanted to..." his voice diminuishes "...steal a kiss from me...talk about a fufilled prophesy".
(Jester) Roda giggles as she hears the entirety of Prad explanation. “Well it is said Lord Armata never lies. He’s always very straightforward as I’ve been told. As for prophecies, I wasn’t sure I should even give it a try. I was worried that maybe I would come off too strong and drive you away. But it seems you liked it so, it was the right call.”
Jorge relents as he was not fully aware of how deep her relationship with Tirush truly went. Had he known he would not have pushed but how could he? He couldn't read minds, couldn't read people as if they were books. He was but strength and strategy. Nothing more... He would have to do with that.
"I am sorry to hear that... I did not know you two were that well aquainted. I wish there was something I could do to help you some how. I did not mean to pry so deeply into your affairs."
(Jester) “Well, now you know. I don’t need much Prad. I had a relationship with a farm boy after all. If you can care for me as I am, I will care for you.” Roda caresses Prad’s hands and bares to him a humble smile.
“Men of lavish lives are overrated Prad. They care more for trinkets than their wives. I’m happy being with a simple courier if I’m loved. I don’t need a mansion. I don’t need jewels. Just give me a humble man with a kind heart.” Roda leans into Prad and nuzzles into his neck.
(BT) “Jorge, you need not apologize. I haven’t spoken of it, so you couldn’t have known. If you really want to do something for me, indulge in wine and keep me safe from those ridiculous vultures out there called suitors. God’s forsake a another puff shirted boy with more money than sense try to get a dance from me.” Imperia Downs her entire glass of wine, showcasing perfectly her exhaustion at being bombarded.
Prad laughs. No cheesy laugh, a timid or even one with the intent of robbing the moment with a quick quirk. No, this is a relief’s laughter. This supply is one he can spend on mass despite his enduring trials “That I can do. Especially considering my cross to that place they’d call Tepea to save people I wasn’t personally involved with at the time.”
Almost putting his rampant timidity away, the Man places a hand around her shoulder and leans just as well. Whatever joke he may have at the moment is lost in the limbo of his mind, judging unfit for it to shatter the current atmosphere.
(Jester) “Yes. You went to another world to save Lady Imperia and Lady Layoka. Let no one tell you that you’re not brave.” Roda then extends her tongue and gives Prad a gentle lick to his cheek, comparably to a dog showing affection.
(BT) “Is that a complaint, or a proposal, Sir Jorge? Not to mention the ‘boot licking’. I’m not a domineering woman, but if you are willing, I would not object to such treatments.” Imperia sips from her glass. “Also, I offered you a glass of wine. One which you haven’t indulged in yet.”
“Well...” the young man makes sure to take a deep respiration, obviously to muster the shy fever from that unsubtle lick “It’s a land of great distance between one another. Cities that can’t take a while to deliver goods from place to place. I got my courier profession from carrying anything and everything since bringing in escorts and the whole parade wasn’t something many wanted. Mostly due to the price...”
Feeling a partial return of his borrowed powers, Prad wavers Huss most healed hand and particles escape from his finger tips. They lie on the floor as chart dots, each large one representing a city of greatness importance. He then points to a smaller dot, a village “In Munich younger years, there was little do to. So I hoped on one Andy started delivering trivial items. The landscapes really made it worth continuing on”
"Had I not known better I would say that you were trying to lower my inhibitions hmm?" Perhaps your intentions were not as noble as I had thought. Besides I would not want my foot work to appear sloppy should we take to the ballroom. You do intend on showing me off to the audience don't you?"
Still using his most effective hand, Prad strings together a series of lines connecting star dot after star dot "As I progressed, more people proposed me comfortable sums for pack and carry their items from place to place. As I recall however, things with certain weigh on them, I kind of refused. Kind of hard to make breaking time with glass armories and what not. But eventually, I was recruited by a more stable corps called the 'Delivery boys'. All I had to do is deliver things on foot. But, it is a good job to invest oneself into...assuming walking doesn't annoy you..."
(BT) “Well, Sir Jorge. I wasn’t planning on strutting you out there like a pure breed Pittbull. However, if you you want to be my exquisite date then by all means, lead me on. Just let me finish my glass. I dance better after drinking wine.” The Vampiress takes another sip.
"Fortunately, no. Back then, they had commision individuals ready to asset whatever the individual coul and could not traverse. I was spared from the more dangerous assignment, although I did have a few close shaves, so to say..."
Prad points an a star dot in particular "The closest one being a 'holy' sword. Some dubious individuals had mistaken me for a bearer of power just by being in close proximity to the weapon. It was...frightening to say the least".
(BT) “Excuse me, Sir Jorge, If I did not know any better, I’d say you were suggesting something. I can not speak for other Vampires, but I’m not so easily classified, or an example of certain stereotypes.”
"No kidding...that was the most unnerving experience...to carry one".
"Oh yes, the blades fashioned for heroes. Rare relics blessed by the matron of Order...so they say..." Prad can see the man in the wall gazing back at him, his eyes shaped to a violet in intention "A pity, though. A wepaon that can render kingdoms inoperable? Truly the Order's side has grown weaker. But you would know that, wouldn't you, young one. After all, Threnody has been called to your side, has it not? A shadow of its true face, with the charge to detonate an entire country at its weakest..."
He looks back, the reflection of violet burned out "At the very least, it didn't seem to carry this much powr in the hilt. Unfortunately, the guy who wanted me to carry it to him happened to have purchased it for no real reasont than to show himself off, sought to ward away monsters. Ironically, he ended up in a demon's arms, the weapon drawing her to it and its wielder. By the time she had infiltrated his domain, she didn't care much about his legitimacy as a blade user".
(Jester) “I can't say I’m surprised, Demons are very powerful and seductive. There isn’t a lot of men who can resist them, or the deals they create. In a way, you’d have to be foolish to refuse them.” Roda situates herself a bit and leans back into Prad.
"Well, they kind of creep me out with their black scleras" The man's composure dwindles as he shivers just from the thought to one watching him under the shroud of night, almost forgetting the irise glare drenched in purple "Besides, I'm not sure going under a demon contract is that safe. You know how they love 'ommiting' certain details".
(BT) “Oh my, hobbies? You sure are starting to take interest in me, Sir Knight. Well, aside from education, I have a grand fondness for books. Very few things please me more than a quiet place, warm fire, a good book and piping hot tea. I can lose myself in a good book for hours. The only thing that would make an already perfect scenario better, would be a man, rubbing my aching feet after a day of advising.” Imperia smirks at Jorge as she takes a sip of her wine.
(Jester) “I’m not knowledgeable enough to give a response to that one Prad.” Roda chuckles. “I’m sure Demons have their reasons for word play. Perhaps they do it to secure a husband, so the man they fancy doesn’t betray them later? I don’t know, that would be a question for Lord Armata. I’m sure he’s read a book on Demons, or has one in his private library.”
Jorge perks up at the mention of rubbing feet and without warning explodes into laughter, the entire table shaking under the heft of his heaving.
"What are you insinuating my dear? Wouldn't a nice shoulder rub be better? It is not like you are on your feet all day like a certain individual I know."
The knight placed his hand on his chest as he finished his blurb implying that he was the person in question.
"And yes I am taking an interest in you, you did say that you wished to be in Layoka's life. I must be positive that you are a positive influence on her after all. You could be a secret deviant and have questionable morals."
(Jester) “I’m not sure what Lord Armata has in his library, I just imagine that if anyone has such information, it would be there. A man who’s lived such a long life would have lots of books with detailed information on things.”
(BT) “a positive influence.” Imperia sets her glass down. “Sir Jorge, I educate that child. I teach of the world and let her decide her own way. I am absolutely a positive influence. Needless to say, I’ve been caring for her before you.”
“But let us digress from that. A shoulder rub would not serve me better than a foot rub. Have ever walked in high heels, Sir Knight.”
"That's reasonable. But..." Prad clears his throat, gathering any courage he might have at the moment "...I'll go look it up later. Right now..."
"No, no, no, no, no! I know what you're doing! You're no charismstic! Don't you go saying like--
Prad gently narrows the hand on Roda's shoulder, to reinforce his incomming sentences "Right now, I'm more interested in the lady close to me. Would you like to come with me to the halls? We might as well be savoring something in each other's company".
"Oh god, are you serious?! That's how you put it? Sounding right about cheesy right now!"
(BT) “That is exactly what someone who has never had heels on, would say. I’d be willing to trade with you for day so that you could understand what it’s like.” Imperia takes a sip but then sets her wine aside.
"Swee---ah!...I mean alright" Prad slowly steps out of the bed, clenching his most healed hand. All of the particles sweep into and and rushes to his palm, promptly compressed to even tinier and fading particles.
Opening the door, he turns to her, his cowl receded behind, as the most important piece had be removed in the much welcomed crime of 'stealing a kiss'from the courier. It was pretty pointless at this point.
He raises a hand in her way "If you may"
"Trying to play the gentleman? Really? I don't think she'd miss the waving legs from how out of character you are being right now"
His mind finds itself ignored, as Prad had contented with a malevolant man. A few bits of self-doubt is not much in comparison.
(Jester) “Such a gentleman!” Roda extends her paw to Prad’s outstretched hand and leads the way. “Now I’m not entirely sure where Armata’s library is. I’ve never been there as I don’t have those privileges. But if we ask Lord Armata, he will tell you where it is.”
Roda and Prad walk there way to the single busiest room in the castle currently. Armata is a lone crimson cloaked Lord poised in his throne as he is approached by countless servants with their reports. He scans over each document handed to him and retains the information within a second, before reaching for the next parchment. It isn’t until Prad and Roda enter the room that his gaze shifts from his work, to them. Armata raises his hand and gains the attention of all.
“Excellent work, all of you. Set your findings over there, and shall review them later. If you’ll excuse me, I have other business.” The staff do as they’re told and drop off their documents, then they respectfully bow and leave. With all but Prad and Roda gone, Armata rises out of his throne.
“Evening Prad, Roda. How may I assist you tonight?”
“(BT) “And just like you Sir Knight, I have my own reputation to protect. So let us forget about wearing each other’s wardrobes. I think it would be best for my delicate dresses to have a giant of a man stuffed into them, especially my heels. Though I would by lying if I denied a hair of curiosity at how Lord Armata would look at you wearing my heels.” Imperia switches up her crossed leges, her right leg swinging over her left seductively.
"Hum, nothing much..." He clenches his hand all the way to his index, where a drip of his strength bloats. He throws but a particle shaping itself as a tiny star among an incomplete chart of all his previous travels, the same he had shown Roda. Over head, a sword manifested from a dull imagery of arcane, the same he uses to enable flight.
"Hum...miss over here and I have been talking about matters here and here and, it all drifted to my life as a courier. I once mentioned carrying a sword imbued with holy magic to some noble who wanted nothing more than to boast about having such a relic, who ironically had attracted a demon. It's nothing more than satisfying a fostering curiosity, but, would you happen to have a book about demons?"
(Jester) “Demons?” Armata thinks for a moment, playing with his goatee. “As a matter of fact, I do.” He gestures for them to follow. “Dae-kin some call them. Masters of deals and pacts. They specialize in temptations of a man’s heart. Catering to his deepest desires. What is your interest, Prad?”
"The contract they bear for individuals to sign...I think. I honestly don't know how they manage to imbue control over whoever happens to be their victims. The guy had a hole sword by his side and I'm not quite how she would have gotten to him". The young man scratches him head in inquiry.
The knight scoffed as he sat back up and swipped at the air in front of him.
"we aren't here to talk about work or the troubles of the world are we? From what I understood is that you wanted to unwind! Lest you have changed your mind? If so I can oh so remind you of the current- difficulties we are facing but I am so sure that you are more privy to that information than I..."
As Jorge spoke his tone began to intensify, shifting into a manner similar to those of the nobles that would acost him. It seemed as if he were talking down to her, belittling her. As if she had no true grasp on what danger they truly were in. Perhaps she had hit some unknown nerve. Perhaps the pressure managed to eek out of him if but for a moment.
"I am sorry. I did not mean to ruin our little date night. I am just not that used to having... FUN. I am not fond of being under constant scrutiny and question by the higher born. I am simply not that fond of being here... the main coven... in this palace. I simply wish to be done with my service here so I may go on my way and start anew... In peace."
"Ugh...of course" Prad sights, although it conveys no true disappointment. He does something somewhat revolutionary for him, considering the pantheon of issues he had wandered through.
It was at worst, something he wouldn't quite understand in between the lines, something that occured years ago, their current status unknown to him. He clears his throat, his interest shifted as the current became backlogged into his mind "Well, it was worth an effort. Really I was just curious at what sort of interaction a demon would have with a relic of the Order".
(BT) “An honorable endeavor. Though you don’t care much for this place, you should still take advantage of the privileges granted to you by Lord Armata. And if you are that bothered by judgemental stares of noblemen, simply seek me out. After your daring rescue, any and all.... reserves, I had about you are gone.” Imperia lifts up her glass and takes a sizable drink.
“I dare say I believe you would make a good father to Layoka.” Imperia then thinks for a moment. “If I recall correctly, earlier you asked why I call ‘Mica’ at times? Mica, Sir Jorge, is ‘treasure’ in the Vampire language. Dhampir’s are rare amongst Vampires, and ultimately get a bad reputation as they tend to grow to Vampire Hunters. Layoka has received a lot of scrutiny sense her arrival here. So I found it paramount to be at her side when no one else was.”
“She’s a playful little thing, innocent and sometimes even witty. She never had any real adult to care for her, well, until now. First man to claim the place of father. With good parents I believe she’ll grow up to be an absolute gem of a woman. Intelligent, beautiful, skilled and kind. If that is the future you seek for her, I’d gladly see her in your care.”
Imperia’s face started to flush red, possibly because the alcohol was starting to warm her. She smiled sheepishly, her movements somewhat nervous or anxious.
“I find it down right mind boggling that you are not bombarded by suitors, Sir Knight. Layoka is not of your blood, yet you watch over as if she was. It’s humbling to see giant like you, cradling her. She’s like a doll in your hands. The sheer thought of the wrath you would unleash on any foolish enough to commit ill will on her, is rather humorous.”
“A giant covered in black steel, with a heart of gold. Yes, it is strange that women do not line up in front of you. For I find such a man very desirable....” Imperia trails off with her words, as she takes another sip of her wine.
"I believe that my lack of suitors my be attributed to my less than friendly demeanor and fashion sense. Armor does not scream father material nor does it show off my dashing features."
Jorge fiddles with his wine glass watching its contents swirling back and forth, the vortex in his glass drawing him in deeper and deeper.
"It also does not help with my popularity that I am well known for turning down many a fine woman who has come to ask for courtship. Has come to ASK ME! It should be I who goes to ask them for their hand in courtship not the other way around."
"Noblewoman, city girls, farm maidens, mamono all have come to me asking or attempting to force me into relationships and all I have turned down... I'm sorry. I do not mean to sound as if I'm bragging about my possible conquests but as i said before I have none... but I do find that I am your ideal quite reassuring. It helps this aging man know that he is wanted."
"It is just a damned shame that I can't allow myself to relax. That I can't allow myself to do what I truly wish to do. I think... I think that after all this is over. I think that I'll finally live for myself and nothing else."
(Jester) “Such an interaction could could be just as much a power gain, as it could be an act of kindness to all Mamono. Claiming and impeding a man of the Order, with such a weapon, could be extremely prosperous to Mamono kind. A powerful warrior with a powerful weapon driven to a life of tranquility via a Demon’s influence. Is far better than a zealot running around with unchecked power.”
"I suppose. However, he was no true warrior, just a noble. But, it's alright. I don't mind it that much to begin with. In fact..." Prad sturdies himself, mentally preparing his mind to ask something. His eyes close and face lifts for a few seconds. Then he lowers and opens them, his attention on Armata "A question I ask in sincerity: what would you suggest for a...rendez-vous?"
(BT) “It IS a shame. Some of us do not have the luxury to relax, like a requirement of our occupations. But hopefully after this Pramool business we can all have a nice reprieve.” Imperia then finishes off her glass of wine.
"Well..." Prad makes sure to face the undead lord in a way that his face is hindered from his date complice, Roda. His voice also gets a severe tone in decibels "...I've somehow managed to get..." he cuts his sentence midway, brown eyes darting quickly between Armate and the nursing werewolf, again with his expression hidden from her "...in a one-on-one...rendez-vous, and...".
He breathes in a strigent manner, part of him, his mind most likely, struggling to find the words to speak, his anchoring to a date a first for the young man for reasons starkly obvious "...considering you've sort of...predicted this, I was wondering...whether you have a list of...favorable items my companion would love to...consume...".
"It is a damned shame that the world must so often be assaulted by the lost and the damned so often that it requires us to act."
Jorge slides his glass over to Imperia smiles as he gazed deeply into her eyes.
"Do be a doll and finish this up for me? I swear I didn't put anything into it. Besides I like my women a but tipsy from time to time."
Jorge slowly drew his hands back and crossed them on the table. His posture and expression exuding waves of confidence over the vampiress. Perhaps he was signaling something, perhaps it was just the drink but it could be said that he looked more inviting than usual.
(Jester) Armata leans in close to Prad, humoring the young man’s subtlety. “You know, Prad, you could just ask her what she likes?” He talks quietly back to Prad. Roda looking in wonder as the two speak privately before her.
“If you’re looking for a little spot to take her, you could always go to the social hall. It’s luxurious and you get specially prepared meals there. But then again you would probably find the socialites there rather droll. Perhaps take her to the common grounds outside. I’m sure they have places to eat that aren’t populated by stuffed shirt Vampires. As for your friend....” Armata looks up from Prad to Roda.
“Roda, is it?”
“Uh, YES, yes my lord!” Roda stands up straight and bows.
“I’m curious. What is your favorite meal?”
“Oh, um, I’m very fond of spaghetti and chicken parmesan.” She looks at the Vampire rather confused.
“Excellent choices young lady. Come on, the library isn’t far now.”
(BT) Imperia gives Jorge a humorous look and picks up the glass. “I’ll take your word Sir Knight. After all you’ve been sitting here in front of me this whole time, and I haven’t seen any tampering with the glass.” She then takes a drink, and sets the glass down.
“Like your women a bit ‘tipsy’ from time to time?”
"It is not like I'm going to take advantage of a poor damsel who has lost her inhibitions due to the drink. Besides you will have more fun dancing should the spins kick in... or you will feel sick. Either or it doesn't matter much. All that matters is that you finish every last drop."
(Jester) Armata soon leads the young man and Werewolf over an outdoor walkway that connects a tall spite to the main castle. At the end they reach a pair of large doors. Opening the doors, the two are greeted with a marvelous site. A sprawling library that reaches to the ceiling. Stairs, platforms and ladders are in abundance to reach the highest shelves.
"Woah..." Prad's steps within continue on nearing the center gifted with the presence of the tree devoid of leaves. They then gravitate at one in orbit on the other, extending his sight at a 360-degree vision, his head in a gradual rise "How many books are in here?"
Though he knows through the presence of his spectator that such a question doesn't weigh as much as the next he utters, a different shift in his eyes "How ancient are they? Do they rise in receding dates?..."
His heart skips a beat as he lets slip a question he didn't think to ask "Is there...one about him? About...the Circadian ages?" The last words slipped out of him, the immense weigh he barely scratched anchors him. It does so with the innumerable ages that serve as a gap between him and him. Prad's can't endure his weighted stare and drops to a knee, a hand plastered on the bare floor, clutching his heart.
His eyes change iris, glassed in a malevolant sight as the vision that feeds his sense. Gray is the glass that lines beyond him, shading everything in a colorless silence.
"Is this one of the things you sought to know?" The shadow of the man in the wall hangs directly over the downed Prad, leaning toward him "You wish to learn of the Cakra Jarana? The age of my upbringing? One of your most coveted wishes...to what end..."
(BT) “Only matters that I drink every last drop? Sir Jorge, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say you WERE trying to get me intoxicated.” Imperia speaks dramatically. “Now, need I tell you that I have been drinking before you arrived? It was the only thing I could do to make the onslaught of suitors bearable. At this rate you may have to carry me back to my room, or perhaps that’s what you want to do. Make the nobleboys even more jealous.”