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Finding Mattathias



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Fri Mar 15, 2019 9:39 pm
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Finding Mattathias

Brought to you by @Featherstone and @Magestorrow!


Seven years ago, Matthathias Jermaine's life changed forever. He was brought to what he once thought of as a fictional world named Aeyis as his roleplay character Nerezzar Cephalos. With the help of his fellow trapped roleplayers, they uncovered the truth behind their arrival on Aeyis - the god of souls, Kartiel, orchestrated the entire thing. It was a personal betrayal; Kartiel, from the very start, had played the part of their roleplay leader Keith Quinn. But instead of getting the return home that he had hoped for, Matt was brought into yet another world. And another. And another. And another. Now on his fifth world, Matt's dream of returning to a normal life is beginning to fade away.

But Kartiel had never done it because he enjoyed making people miserable - he had an act to maintain if he wanted to trick a far more powerful god, Sirun, into thinking he was a loyal subordinate. When he saved the multiverse and was reunited with his sister, Ria, he discovered a horrifying thing - Matt hadn't returned to his actual body like the others from the Aeyis roleplay had done. Now no longer working for someone who could easily teleport him from reality to reality, and without any clear indication of where Matt has gone, Kartiel's spent the past years trying to track him down. But magic always comes at a price, and and he knows returning him to normal won't be an easy task.

But maybe, just maybe, he can finally make amends.

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Fri Mar 15, 2019 11:10 pm
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The sun blazed overhead, shimmering across the red desert with the illusion of water. For once, Mattathias Jermaine was grateful for being reptilian: unlike a mammal trapped out here, he was well-suited to the lack of water and incredible heat.

That wasn't to say he liked it.

He'd been walking since daybreak across this accursed desert and hadn't eaten in days. He'd run out of water the day before and was no closer to civilization than he had been. He didn't know where he was or what world he was in or how to get out and he'd already had to fight off some massive wyrm-creature full of teeth and spikes that seemed to swim through the ground.

He pulled his hood up over his head further, trying to shade himself the best he could and attempting to block the light from his sensitive eyes. Nerezzar's species was supposed to be nocturnal--thus the dark coloring--and though his night vision was excellent, he wasn't well-adjusted to this sort of bright light.

There was a tremor in the earth.

The wickedly curved stygian iron blade that he'd attained in his second year of this came out of its sheath at his back and he ripped the glove off his left hand to reveal the onyx talons tipping his fingers. Nerezzar's body was one that had taken a lot of getting used to but its draconian features were undoubtedly conducive to fighting. Unfortunately, they also had a tendency to start fights--he looked like a monster.

Horsemen came riding over the nearest dune. There were perhaps fifteen of them in all--more than he could fight. He made out bowmen among the riders: flying would be dangerous, but it'd be safer than staying on the ground if this became a combat. He wished it were darker here: he would've just slipped into the shadows.

The soldiers surrounded him with their snorting steeds and ring of hooves and steel.

"Drop your weapon," the one in the lead--a large, burly fellow with a wicked scythe-like weapon--demanded.

"My apologies, sir, but I'm just a mere traveller. I'd like no trouble. Nonetheless, my sword remains with me," he said evenly, flipping his blade around his wrist and digging his talons into the sand to ready himself for takeoff.

"One more chance or this gets ugly, creature."

"Done." Mattathias smirked, flashing his predatory, sharp teeth before crouching and leaping into the air in a flurry of sand and wings and then dropped on the lead man, his talons digging into the flesh of his horse as he grabbed him around the chest and slit his throat with the stygian sword. He rocketed off the back of the now-bolting equine and slammed into the nearest bowman, tackling him to the ground and hooking his hind claws into his throat before turning on the next one.

That should've been where he started winning the battle.

It wasn't.

He came off the gurgling, soon-to-be-corpse and thrust himself forward and came at one of the swordsmen. He shoved his sword through the man's abdomen and ripped it out with savage strength, but as he did so, the horse reared and one of its hooves got him in the side of his face. He hit the ground and his sword fell to the sand nearby. He tried to get to his feet but not fast enough: agony shot through his shoulder as an arrow embedded itself where his wing met his body and he let out a shriek of pain, collapsing.

The last thing he remembered was the club coming towards his face.

When he came to, his wings were twisted behind him at an immensely uncomfortable angle and fixed there by chains to prevent him from using them. His wrists were shackled together and connected to his ankles by another length of chain that didn't give him much space and his right leg was tied to the ground. They'd also nullified any potential use of his teeth by covering it with a thick leather bag tied behind his head.

They'd muzzled him.

He let out a feral snarl and jerked against his bonds in some mix of frustration and anger and fear, slamming against the wooden walls of whatever room or container he was trapped in. It shook under the force and rocked violently, but it didn't break, and didn't seem like it was about to. There was a yell from outside and it something slammed against the wall outside: a plain warning to cut it out.

God, he hoped he wasn't going to die.

~**~


He didn't know how long it was before they got wherever they were going. Weeks, at least, perhaps even a month or two. He got a meal every other day of whatever scraps they had leftover and it was shoved in under the door. When he got too loud or moved too much someone came to bark at him through the wall, and the one time he'd made the mistake of persisting, he'd quickly learned to regret it.

The wagon rattled to a stop as they reached their final destination. From the sound of it, they were on cobblestones of some sort, which meant a city or large road of some kind. The door opened and a man came in. Matt growled and scrambled back but was pulled up short by his chains. The man merely shoved him against the ground and pinned him there under his knee as he yanked a bag over the draconian's head.

He was half-dragged half-led over the tiles of a floor and to the stone of some subterranean hole: a dungeon of some kind, no doubt. There was a clang as what was presumably a cell door was open and the bag was yanked off his head before he was shoved in and his chains were secured to a ring on the wall, then the men departed, leaving him with his new cellmate: a white-haired demon with jutting horns, a long tail, shark-like teeth, and eerie red eyes.

Matt didn't greet the man, merely snarled at him to warn him to stay away before sitting back against the wall.
“Turning and turning in the widening gyre,
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed on the world."
~ W.B. Yeats
  





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Sat Mar 16, 2019 2:35 am
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Magestorrow says...



Kartiel had run out of appendages to count the amount of worlds he had been to on - even the addition of his oh-so-nice horns and tails didn't give him enough. Sixteen worlds in, and he still hadn't found Matt.

And now, to make things even worse, he had somehow managed to turn himself into a demon. If he was just stuck in a demonic body, he wouldn't have panicked. But this body was undoubtedly his own. He could just feel it. The other bodies had always felt wrong when he sat there and focused on them for too long.

This one, unfortunately, felt all too right.

And this world didn’t seem to like demons all that much, seeing that he had been thrown into this cell for simply appearing in a room.

He gave the person who had suddenly taken up guarding his cell a smile didn't reach his eyes. Watching her gulp when she saw his teeth made him feel just a bit satisfied. It was petty, but he could at least pretend that it could come in handy later.

Just as he finished his smile and was turning his attention back to his cell, the group that had captured him dragged in another prisoner.

He felt his mouth go dry when he saw the features. It was stupid to be so hopeful - the only hint he had was that the artifact had brought him here, and it had changed him in the process. It wasn’t exactly the most trustworthy piece of magic.

And then they removed the bag.

He kept his expression calm; he was good at acting, and didn't want them to see how much he wanted to cry when he realized he had finally found Matt. But then they filed out of the room, leaving just the two of them, and Kartiel found himself struggling to find the right words to say. How could he possibly apologize for what he had done, or even explain why he had done it in the first place-

All of his euphoria was abruptly dashed when the other prisoner snarled at him. Instead, it was replaced by a sinking, hopeless feeling. This wasn't Mattathias Jermaine. This was a cruel trick played by the powers that be - he was looking at a Nerezzar Cephalos, not the roleplayer he had grown so fond of. Matt didn't have that noise in him, and certainly didn't have that look he was giving him now.

"That doesn't scare me," he said. His voice had become deeper, and had a slightly raspy quality to it. He had used voices like that for other bodies before, but it never felt right hearing another voice come out of his lips.

He leaned back up against his own wall and looked away from Nerezzar. "And I've met someone like you before, so don't think your appearance is getting you any points."

He couldn't keep staring at that face - he just kept seeing Matt when he looked at it, and the sight made his heart ache.
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Sat Mar 16, 2019 2:46 am
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"It should, I've killed worse than rats like you," he growled through the muzzle, leaning over and trying to hook a talon under the strap holding the contraption to his face. The chains that held his wrists to his ankles went taught and he let out a snarl of frustration, struggling to get his clawed hands around his horns and spikes to access the strap to no avail. The words weren't entirely untrue: he had killed scarier monsters, and a fair amount of them, as his prowess battling the horsemen so many weeks ago proved. But he didn't kill unless people were trying to kill him or he really, honestly had to.

This man was just annoying--not anyone to murder.

"And I guarantee you've never met anyone like me before," he added, turning his head and trying to hook the strap on the plate holding the ring he was bound to that was attached to the wall. His horns hit the stone before the back of his neck did and he found himself back to square one.
“Turning and turning in the widening gyre,
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed on the world."
~ W.B. Yeats
  





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Sat Mar 16, 2019 2:56 am
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"Of course you have," he muttered. Matt had been one of the kindest and most pleasant of the Aeyis group to talk to, but Nerezzar was the type of person he despised. If this was some sort of cosmic karma for how he had acted for thousands of years, he certainly didn't appreciate it.

"I've never met someone with your wonderful personality - that's for sure," he continued, still looking out into the dungeon beyond the cell. "The person I knew was far nicer, and would have been a far more enjoyable cellmate, seeing that he understood manners and you clearly don't."

His voice dropped quiet, and what he said next was more to himself than to Nerezzar.

"Even if he would have been stuttering left and right in a situation like this," he softly added.
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Sat Mar 16, 2019 3:00 am
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Mattathias was never a particularly talented kid. He was all legs, and had no social skills, and stuttered every third word. He couldn't play an instrument and he couldn't cook anything more than oatmeal and macaroni & cheese. But if there was one thing--a single thing--he'd always been a natural at, it was puzzles, and puzzles were about finding the pieces and putting them together.

And it was in that moment that an awful lot of things came out of that somehow-familiar demon's(?) mouth that were strangely coincidental. Firstly, the comment about how he'd met someone similar to the draconian across from him before; then, he'd explained how the person who was similar in appearance was far nicer with good manners; and, finally, that he would've been stammering terribly.

All his friends had gone back to Earth, or so Matt had assumed. All but one. The one who'd gotten him here in the first place.

His eyes narrowed as he took in the demon(?) across from him. Long, white hair with black highlights. Small, stubby horns and a long tail and shark-like teeth. Red eyes that were slit-pupilled like the reptilian assassin across from him. But something about the way he spoke, the way he moved, his build--all that was familiar.

Annoyingly, naggingly familiar.

"Keith?"
“Turning and turning in the widening gyre,
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed on the world."
~ W.B. Yeats
  





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Sat Mar 16, 2019 3:08 am
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His eyes widened as the name rang out through the cell.

He hadn’t gone by Keith in some time - not since the incident, at least. Keith Quinn hadn't exactly been killed, but he had been laid to rest; there was no need for that power or wealth after Sirun was gone. To most he met during his search for Matt, he was Kartiel.

Only a few people knew Kartiel and Keith were one and the same, and only one group of people would ever call him by that fake first name.

"M-Matt?" he managed to get out. He tugged at his chains as he tried to lean forward, but he couldn’t move more than his head and upper back. "I can't believe it. It's you. I...I finally found you."
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Sat Mar 16, 2019 3:15 am
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It was him.

After seven years and six worlds, it was him.

A wave of relief hit him like a physical barrier and he felt himself sag against the wall, dumbfounded. He'd waited seven years for this. To get out. And now, his key to that was sitting across from him.

The key who'd lied to him, betrayed him, and abandoned him to this living hell in the first place.

Seven years' worth of scars, fury, resentment, and grief overtook him and he jerked forward against his chains, pulling him back only a few inches short of Keith's face. Had he been unmuzzled, the venom of his ivory fangs would've been dripping in amber rivulets on his former friend's chest.

"IT'S BEEN SEVEN YEARS!" he roared, voice muffled but still very understandable through the leather. "I'VE BEEN FIGHTING FOR MY LIFE FOR SEVEN YEARS, KARTIEL!"
“Turning and turning in the widening gyre,
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed on the world."
~ W.B. Yeats
  





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Sat Mar 16, 2019 3:26 am
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Magestorrow says...



His eyes widened even more.

It had been seven years since they had last seen each other, but time had never been the same for him as it was for a regular mortal. Seven years didn't seem long to him, but they made up a fourth of his Matt's life. He should have expected a response like this - he deserved it - but he never once thought that he would be getting a reaction lime this from Matt of all people.

How much had he changed in the past seven years?

"I know," he said. He was trying to keep his voice calm. Yelling wouldn't help; it would only anger both of them more. "I know it's been seven years - I haven't lost track of a single day, even when I was searching worlds for you. I know an apology will never make up for what you've been through, but I'm sorry. I should have found you sooner. I should have come up with someway to find you in less than six years."
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Sat Mar 16, 2019 3:33 am
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"I've been trapped as a monster, Keith! I've been stabbed and shot and trapped and experimented on a-a-a-and killed and h-h-hell, I've killed people, and y-y-you know what's worse? I'm g-g-good at it! Th-that's h-how much I've had to fight! I WAS SIXTEEN WH-WHEN THIS STARTED! SIXTEEN! YEARS! OLD!" his voice broke and he fell back, slumping against the wall in resignation. "What am I even going to do wh-wh-when I do get home? Wh-what I'm I going t-t-to tell Dad? Or Mom? I'll be twenty-three w-without s-s-so much as a high school d-d-diploma, or, w-w-worse, I'll be stuck as a sixteen-year-old th-thrown back into school right after I g-get out of this!" His voice had lost some of its vehemence, and though the anger was still unmistakably there, it was more sorrowful than furious.

"I-I don't even kn-know what I am anymore. H-how am I supposed t-to manage to l-live?"
“Turning and turning in the widening gyre,
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed on the world."
~ W.B. Yeats
  





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Sat Mar 16, 2019 12:12 pm
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Magestorrow says...



Kartiel was angry.

Not at Matt for his outburst; that outburst was entirely justified. He was angry at himself for continuing a cycle that had doomed his own life. It had been a necessary thing to do if he wanted to trick Sirun, and he had taken all the precautions he could think of. But it apparently hadn't been enough - there must have been something else he could have done, or he wouldn't have spent the past six years chasing after Matt.

And shit, he had made Matt lose his childhood. He had always known that - had always thought that when it was just him - but hearing Matt utter those words in a trembling voice hurt far more than those thoughts he had never wanted to face. He had done just what Sirun had done to him, and it didn't matter that he had spent six years trying to make up for that mistake. Nothing could ever make up for what he had done to him.

And of course Matt was different now. He wasn't a child now, and he had been stuck as Nerezzar. People must have hated him wherever went; this certainly wasn't the first cell Matt had be in. To think that he would still be the sweet, polite, gentle kid Kartiel had known back then was a foolish thing to do - that much he was certain of.

Kartiel looked down at the ground, slumping up against the cell wall behind him.

"...The last time I was there, your parents thought you were in a coma," he quietly said. "That's what happens when your soul is taken out of your body. When you...When you didn't wake up when the others did, I told them that we had met before and I wanted to give you the best care I possibly could. I told them I'd pay for everything - all the medical expenses, whatever they were. And I sneaked in a spell or two, just to make sure you stayed stable."

He closed his eyes.

"But it's been years since then, so I'm sure that they...they decided nothing would come of you staying in a coma for so long, at least once. Which would mean they know the whole story by now - that was the fail safe."

Ria was supposed to tell them the truth if it ever came to that point; it was a slightly modified version, but the truth all the same. That truth had Keith and Kartiel be two separate people. He couldn't risk them deciding not to rely on his vast resources when they found out he was responsible for taking their son from them. And if that failed to convince them, Ria was going to manipulate their hearts. They had both hoped it wouldn't come to that, but it was still something that they had to consider as the ultimate backup plan.

"This-This wasn't ever supposed to happened," he said, digging clawed fingers into his palms. "I did everything to make sure it wouldn't go wrong. I kept an eye on you. I convinced Sirun to let Arthur stay, since I knew Arthur would help you get back home. I kept running back to Earth to make sure that all of your bodies were in perfect condition, and I took care of any major threats that could have killed you before you could get back home."

He hesitantly raised his head. "But I messed up. I really messed up. I let myself get distracted by something else, and I took too long to check on your group. If I had...If I had just looked - even if it jeopardized everything else - and seen that you weren't there sooner, you wouldn't have spent the past seven years like that and I wouldn't have spent the past six going to world after world after world searching for you."

He took a deep breath.

"I swear that the moment I get my body back to normal, I'll send you home. This will all be over, Matt. And I'll do whatever I can to make sure you can live a normal life."
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Sat Mar 16, 2019 3:01 pm
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He'd thought about home. A lot. He'd thought about his father, and his mother, even though he hadn't seen her in an even longer time. He wondered what it'd been like for the two of them having to see each other again because of him. He wondered, too, if his mother had ended up meeting Neil, and if so, what her reaction had been, because Neil was anything but the ideal match for him in her eyes.

He wondered if Neil had moved on.

All he wanted was for this to be over. For all of this to come to an end. To open his eyes and discover it'd all been a dream.

But the scars on his scaly flesh told him it was anything but in his head. And when he woke up, when he was himself again, they'd be gone too, along with any other trace. Nerezzar would be gone. A piece of Matt would be, too. He didn't know what to make of that.

It didn't matter. Right now, there were bigger fish to fry--namely the one involving probable execution, or worse, within the next twenty-four hours, because he somehow doubted demons and monsters got a trial.

He looked up at Kartiel again. He was still angry, impossibly angry, but he was doing the best he could. Matt couldn't ask any more of him.

"Well, let's figure that out when we get there," he replied finally. "At the moment I think we should be worried about what's likely an impending execution or...let's hope for execution," he concluded, stopping that train of thought. "I've got a lockpick on me. Two, actually. Help me get this damn muzzle off and I can start getting to work on these chains."
“Turning and turning in the widening gyre,
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed on the world."
~ W.B. Yeats
  





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Mon Mar 18, 2019 9:17 am
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Magestorrow says...



Kartiel managed to somehow push past the swear that had slipped through Matt's lips, though it was certainly a difficult task. Mattathias Jermaine really had changed since their last meeting, and he needed to stop thinking of him as the boy he had chased after for the past six years.

He tried to reach over to get the muzzle off, but quickly found that doing so would be impossible - they were just too far apart in the cell. When he couldn't pull himself forward, he attempted to use his tail and his feet. Neither attempt was successful.

"I can't get it off," he said, frowning as he tried to hit it with his foot again. He needed something to get rid of it. He really didn't like the thought of dying, or of Matt being killed right after he had finally found him. He pulled against his chains, but demonic strength was nothing on the metal that bound him to the wall - it wouldn't budge.

If only he had something-

Darkness suddenly emerged from the ground, wrapping around Matt's muzzle. Kartiel stared at the darkness. There was nothing connecting himself to the darkness, but he knew it had to have come from him - he could manipulate it in whatever way he wanted to. He made the darkness remove the muzzle and drop it on the ground.

Apparently, their captors had been convinced they were barbaric brutes and hadn't even considered the possibility that they could think of more innovative ways of escaping.
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Mon Mar 18, 2019 3:42 pm
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A sharp-toothed, wolfish smile spread across Mattathias' lips as the muzzle fell away. He pushed the shackles as far up his arm as he could and hooked a claw under his sleeve, pulling it forward before sinking the talon into the fabric and ripping the hem open. A lockpick fell to the ground in front of him and he picked it up before inserting into the lock.

It turned red-hot and melted in his fingers the moment it slipped inside the shackles.

He let out a growl of frustration. Fine, then--time for plan B. Matt got the second lockpick from his pant leg and shadows entwined themselves around it before frost began to creep across its surface. In the years he'd been trapped in this body, he'd learned new tricks with his magic, including how to work elements besides darkness, though he always had to use shadows as his basis.

This time, when he put the lockpick in, nothing happened. Several minutes later he had himself out of his chains and he rose, coming to Kartiel and releasing him, too. It was a bit slow--the locks were rusty and difficult to manipulate--but with some patience it was done and without further ado, the door was unlocked.

"There," he murmured as the cell door creaked open, looking around. "I'll go ahead and take out any guards we'll need to work around, then come back."
“Turning and turning in the widening gyre,
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed on the world."
~ W.B. Yeats
  





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Wed Mar 20, 2019 9:03 am
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Magestorrow says...



"I'm coming with you," Kartiel said.

He joined Matt at his side, giving his former friend - because he knew Matt no longer saw him in that light - a look that clearly said he had no intentions of following through with the proposed plan. He had spent years looking for Matt; he wasn't going to lose him again.

He massaged his wrists. "My body might be slightly different, but I can handle changes like this. Besides, I've been around far longer than you have, Matt - I know a thing or two about fighting."
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