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Fireheart



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Fri Apr 21, 2017 2:06 pm
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ScarlettFire says...



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Ace eyed the dead man carefully, watching as Malek stripped him of his armor and set it aside. She had not been expecting that. Ace tried to push away her renewed panic. Kafele was one thing--she hadn't had to watch him die--but this was entirely different. More... personal. She looked away and reached up to gingerly touch her neck. A glance down at her arm made her grimace. There was probably going to be a bruise there later.

There was a soft noise and Ace's gaze snapped to Halona, eyes narrowed.

"Halona--"

Halona backed away from the scene with deep and stuttering breaths. "T-that. That was murder. You just killed a man." She hit the bed and plopped down on it, tears welling in her eyes. Ace made an abortive little move forwards, glancing towards Malek.

"Halona, this was one of Nadir's agents--" Malek began.

"Corrick was right about you... You are murderers."

"He would've killed us if he had the chance, Halona." Ace gestured to the lifeless corpse staining the extravagant rug, brought up short by Halona's panicky accusations. She kept an impassive expression on her face and sternly reminded herself not to show her own panic. Halona wasn't entirely wrong, though. "You saw him. He certainly wasn't sending us a 'have fun at the party!' gift."

"But... murder isn't the way. There's always --always-- something else we could do."

Malek was silent for a moment as he turned away. When he faced them again, his expression was solemn. "I wish that were the case. You don't know Myaran people like I do." A pause. "He would've fought to the death for what he believed in. Please. Know that."

Aracelis inhaled slowly. She saw too much of herself in the girl's panic and innocence. That was a time before this, though. She had hardened, and now Halona would as well. There was such a thing as sky pirates, and Ace had seen more than her fair share of those. Taking a seat next to her, Ace somewhat awkwardly rested her arm around Halona's shoulder in an attempt to comfort her.

"I, uh," she began, glancing towards Malek warily. "I was like this, the first time I witnessed death." Ace bit her lip, gazing dropping to the dead man on the floor. "My parent's airship, the Haizea, was attacked... by sky pirates." She frowned, head filled with smoke and fire and screaming. "Many people died. I was twelve." Ace looked away again, scowling. "My sister died in the attack, and my father was nearly killed. They're lucky we didn't have a firebender on the ship at the time or theirs would've been torched out of the sky."

Halona glanced at her. "Why-why are you telling me this?"

"I...don't know." Ace shrugged, pulling away. "I guess I'm trying to say that death happens and sometimes it's in defense of what you love most." She slanted Halona an unreadable look. "My sister was protecting me when she died. I never got to thank her for that." With that, she stood up and cross to the window, peering out of it.

Malek crossed over to Halona, touching her shoulder and holding out a loose hand. An ember ignited within. "There's life." He snuffed out the flame. "And there's death, Halona." With his hand off her shoulder he engulfed his arms in flames and wrapped a wreath around her head, making her sweat. "Are you going to let yourself burn? Are you going to let the destructive life take you?!"

In one fell swoop, she opened up a crystalline container at her hip and water burst forth, extinguishing the flames. She jumped up, backing from Malek. "Death and murder isn't the same. When you take a life... you-you cross a path, and it, it is a dangerous one. I was taught pride and- and that life is valuable, even moreso than a cause!"

Ace turned back towards them. "This was self-defense, Halona," she said sharply, gesturing to the Nadir agent. "He attacked us first."

Malek nodded as he turned to fetch something behind him. "And make no mistake, Halona," as he turned around with a small candle still lit with his fire, "he would have left no soul for the aether to consume. He gave his life to the cause long before those knives snuffed his breaths." His head slowly turned to look down at the body bleeding out on the floor--it had been a mostly clean wound, puncturing the lungs, but he had nicked something in the process. "Aracelis..."

"Using my full name now, are we?" she drawled, trying not to look at the body again.

"Open the window." He knelt and picked the man up. "The clouds can keep secrets by now."

Ace snorted and turned to push the window open. "Tossing him out?" she asked, not looking back. "I can get behind that."

"I can't." Halona backed to the door. "Look. I get that it was self-defense. I don't condone it, but there's nothing I can do now. But, I will not be an accomplice to just... dumping this man."

Slowly, Ace turned back to her. She eyed Halona for a minute then stalked over to the other woman. "Do you think I enjoy killing people?" she asked in a low voice, hands planted firmly on her hips. "Do you think I like it?"

"No." She sighed deeply. "I want to believe --no, I do believe that you are good people. But... lines blur between right and wrong when you try to justify murder."

Malek, by the window, began to murmur under his breath, something Aracelis assumed he...must have thought no one could hear. "Gud, voscr uqar rek kuir em sra bae omd bae; omd emsu asarmesae koae aeui sieda rek su kaa o bassar vosr. Akam."
(God, watch over his soul in the by and by; and into eternity may you guide him to see a better path. Amen.)

And, covering the sight of the window, himself, and the body in a wall of flames, he grunted--and the flames vanished, leaving just him with his fingers to his lips.

The silent moment was broken by Halona coughing. "I need to get ready for the gala. While I'm still going with Corrick, just know that I am still on your side. For... whatever happens next." She hesitated for a moment as if wanting to say more, but headed for the door.

As Malek thanked the other woman, lingering in the door, Ace turned to assess the cupboards. If they were going to be facing down these Nadir agents, Ace figured they needed a little more armor. She'd already found a bracer and new whip while they had been on their stealing spree. It had saddened her to set aside the worn leather whip she'd brought with her from Dressuin. It was rather fancy, and it handled extremely well. As she had demonstrated with Malek several minutes ago. Granted, he'd been injured, but still...

Finally, there was a slight click as the door was closed. Halona was probably long gone. Ace flicked a glance over her shoulder to find Malek leaning against the door, and strode over to the wardrobe. She began tugging at the clothes inside it. She was rather irritated now, especially after trying to calm Halona down by talking about the sky pirate attack that killed her sister.

Grumbling under her breath about stupid moral compasses, Ace set about raiding the wardrobe. As she tossed aside dresses and jackets, she reconsidered her words to the waterbender. She shouldn't have said anything. She really shouldn't have. Finding nothing of interest in the wardrobe, she moved on to the chest of drawers.

"Ace....what are you doing?" Malek fidgeted, getting his tux over his new leggings.

"Raiding the room again," she muttered and tugged at a particularly difficult drawer. "Obviously." She paused as the drawer slid open, nearly unbalancing her. Ace glanced towards Malek before she dug through it. She paused. "Oh, hello," she purred as she pulled a beautifully crafted leather corset out of it. "I think I'll be keeping this."

Peering into the mirror behind Aracelis, Malek's grin suddenly vanished into a look of sheer curiosity and bemusement. "Ace?"

"Yes?"

"The fuck's a Corrick?"

"How should I know?" Ace grunted and set aside the corset. She paused to give Malek a once over. "Nice suit." She grinned and turned back to the drawer, trying to hide her irritation and melachony over past events behind a flirty smile. "Hellooooo beautiful~"

Malek turned towards her just as she pulled several shiny copper-coloured scales out from between ridiculously soft cloths. "Is that--?"

"Oh, yes, Desert Hare," Ace purred, holding the scales up high. "These are Nathernusk Wyvern scales."

Malek gave the scales a gentle stroke--as firm as any armor, but as soft to the touch as any downy bird's feathers. But Ace noted that his face was all wrong for the moment.

"Desert Hare? You are not smiling while stroking my scales. Why?"

Malek turned his attention to her eyes, where his glossed over a fierce fiery gold of determination. "There are two of us, correct?"

"It doesn't take that much math, Malek. Did the frightened Wall poison you?"

He took a small step closer, then another, placing his hands on her hips, his lips and nose on the scarf of the dress. "There are two men on this ship who want my head." He paused, closing his eyes. "And I can almost feel their strength, their resolve, and I am afraid, Ace. I'm afraid."

She sighed. "You think I'm not?" she asked softly, touching all the places where he'd recenntly been injured. "I just sent a man overboard for you, and then I helped you when I probably shouldn't have...and you don't even know who I am."

"I know you look stunning in Wyvern scales," he whispered. "And I know you can kill a man from thirty feet."

Ace snorted, gaze dropping to rest on the corset sitting on top of the chest of drawers. "You like the sexy-but-dangerous aspect, huh?" she asked, looking between the corset and the scales thoughtfully.

"You'd be hard-pressed to find a Myaran man who doesn't--" He stopped, shocked, and pulled back, suddenly stricken with a plan.

"Malek..?"

"Why don't we chat...on our way to the gala?" He raised his eyebrows and smirked.

Ace eyed him for a moment, then spun to pick up the corset. "Come help me with this first." She held up the scales and the corset, grinning widely. "If we're going to be thrown into a fight, I think I'd like some armor first, don't you think?"

Between the corset, the dress, and her jewelry, Ace felt, by the time they had entered the grand pagoda, that Malek was simply underdressed.

A large man with many rings on his fingers approached them, bowing. "Your entry fee will be twenty gold each, sir, madame."

"...but we have tickets," she muttered, holding them out. The man glanced at them.

"Hesrvoae Rubbarae!!"
(Highway Robbery!)

"Sorry, sir, madame," the man said, shrugging. "Just making sure all the proper guests are here."

Ace frowned. "What is that supposed to mean?"

"It means he wants the party to swing in the White Direction."

"Sir, I think you mean the Right Direction."

Malek grinned, forking over the coins for them both. "Exactly what I said, Galaman. Exactly. What. I said." Letting them through, Aracelis held her palm to her chest and gasped at the beauty that had become the Grand Pagoda.

"I'm supposed to be dancing here," Ace muttered under her breath, eyes darting all over the beautiful Pagoda. She leaned in close to add; "Don't let Rylin see me, will you?"

"Wind Daisy, you're gonna do much better than dance tonight." Malek smirked. "You're gonna go fishing."

"Fishing?" Ace's eyebrows rose. "Why, that sounds rather fun..."
"I bow to ChildOfNowhere, my one and only master."


"No one screws Yamcha but life!" - Bulma, DBZ Abridged.
  





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Mon May 01, 2017 7:28 am
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Omnom says...



Image


Halona leaned against the door as it shut, her chest heaving. Slow breaths. She tried not to think of what just happened in that room.

Stuffing her hands in her pockets, she lifted from the door and meandered down the now lit corridor. She was glad that her fellow engineers had already repaired this section (which was fortunately --or maybe unfortunately-- because of her, Malek, and Aracelis) and the current residents still hadn't realized they could return to their rooms yet.

In other words, she was alone.

Halona shuffled down the hallway, one hand trailing the now pulsing Hextech line embedded in the wall, and the other still in her pocket.

She tried to keep her thoughts from straying away from the walls, but surely they wandered back to that room where her friends were. She definitely tried not to think about the body now sinking to the depths of the ocean to become food for the sea.

Were they even her friends, though?

No. No. Halona shoved that thought out of her mind. She picked a side in this, so she was going to stick with it, no matter what happens in the ball.

Her hand moved over a rough piece of paper inside her pocket. Pulling it out, she read it over. It was Corrick's room address.

He resided on the opposite side of the resident quarters from where she was. She had to hurry, but then again... she glanced down at her worker's outfit. Ironically, it was what she boarded the ship in, and was sort of the only outfit she possessed on the ship.

She left her home, her people, her family with nothing to herself but her name and her ideas.

Naturally, she didn't have a dress for the ball. Perhaps I could've gotten out of all this if I had just told Corrick that. Or he would have just paid for one. She didn't know which was worse. He certainly carried himself like he had money, or at the very least had some at one point in his life.

She glanced at a the silent clock ingrained into the top of the hallway. She had time. Perhaps it was time to visit the only other friend she had on the ship. She'd rather get help from her than Corrick anyway.

Image


The Electrical Hub was a familiar and friendly sight as Halona meandered in. The last time she was in here, everything was so much... simpler --even though there was still a lot going on, it was still all just simpler.

After making her way through the maze of the hub, Halona reached a group of chains linked around a busted out engine, keeping it off the ground. A rhythmic tapping sounded from underneath it, and Halona noticed stubby and worn boots sticking out from underneath it.

"Do you ever take a break, Gora?"

A clank under there, and Gora heaved herself into view. "You're asking the wrong question, dearie."

Halona hesitated. "It seems like I've been doing that a lot lately."

Gora stood up slowly, and Boro scampered up her leg to rest in between her coveralls and thick worker's top. "And what do you mean by that, Halona?"

Halona's mind flashed to the tanned man blackmailing her to go to the ball, to the scarred and tattooed man tearing the shower apart from shear force, to the lifeless, limp body sinking to the depths of the Dressiun sea, to the faces of the people she thought as friends staring at her in disbelief. Death is a reality. Deal with it, or it'll deal with you.

She sighed, opening her mouth to spill everything, everything to the older woman staring at her with concern etched all over her face, hands resting on her hips.

A pause.

Gora frowned even more. "You can tell me what's obviously wanting to break free in that mind of yours. Nothing leaves this place." She picked up Boro, who fidgeted in her grasp, wanting desperately to be back in the warmth and comfort of his hiding place. "I'll even cover Boro's ears?"

Halona chuckled, tears welling in her eyes. "No, no. No need to cover Boro's ears." She scratched behind his ear affectionately. "I-I just." She bites back the truth. "I-I'm riding a sea of morals and allegiances that... I never thought I would see."

Gora pat her on the back, leading her though the Electrical Hub. "Back, before I got this job, I met a man--"

"Ooooh"

"Hush." Gora smacked her lightly. "It wasn't like that. We were friends."

Halona snickered, fully engrossed in the story. "Like, a friend friend or a friend friend?"

"He was a friend, that's all you need to know." She sighed. "Anyway, I met him when I was full of innocence, much like you. He came, offering a life of, y'know, adventure and, and, experiences that I never could've dreamed of when I was back home. But, it just wasn't me." She steered the two to an office hidden in a corner of the hub. "I knew my destiny, and it was not a selfish one."

"So adventures are selfish?"

Gora chuckled, unlocking the broad and heavy door leading to the office. "No, no. Adventures are not selfish, they just... are. What you do with those experiences, that's up to you." She sat Halona down in a surprisingly comfy chair that swiveled. Halona spun in the chair a few times --because seriously, who wouldn't?-- before stopping after Gora's stern gaze.

"Sorry," she muttered.

"Anyway." Gora's smile returned as she held out both of her hands. "On one hand," she lifted her right hand up, "you could splurge on this trip through the skies, relaxing on the sun decks or gambling away your family's fortune in the gamble halls. You could make this trip all about you.. Or," she lifted her left hand, "you could spend this trip on others. Did you know over half of this ship is full of Myaran refugees from the liberation crisis in North Myar?"

Halona shook her head.

"You could spend this trip helping them out, getting to know their struggles and their pasts. You could spend this trip on others."

Halona scrunched her eyebrows. "So I spend my adventures selflessly?"

Gora laid her hands on Halona's shoulders, staring into her eyes. "You take your adventurers how you can. Make the most out of them. But... don't lose yourself in the middle of them. You know you, probably better than anyone else on this ship. Don't lose that." Gora stood back up, reaching over Halona to a safe. "Speeeeaking of, are you going to the ball? It's happening soon. Wouldn't want you to miss it, y'know."

Halona looked up at the other woman. "What?"

"The ball."

"OH I completely forgot, yes, that's why I'm here actually. Well, actually, no, I'm here for two reasons."

"Oh, why?"

Halona paused. "Well... I kind of have no idea what I'm supposed to do with the ball. Back in Hirvanc, our events were never stylish or formal like Brythalon dances."

Gora nodded understandingly. "Lucky for you, there's a shop just for the ball not far from here. You can get everything you need, a dress, shoes, accessories, everything, there."

"But--" Gora halted her with a hand.

"I figured as much. Here," she handed Halona a gold-embedded sack. "Open it," she said, gesturing.

Halona did so, peering inside to four spiraling gold pieces. "What is this?"

"Consider it your first paycheck. Four knots. Equal to around 200 gold pieces. It should be enough to pay for anything you need and then some."

Halona clasped the sack back shut. "Thank you, Gora. Really."

Gora flashed a warm smile. "Enjoy yourself, Halona." She turned to leave, but stopped. "Halona."

"Yeah?"

"You said you were here for two reasons. What was the second one?"

Halona furrowed her brow. "I'm... not sure. I keep getting distracted."

Gora shrugged. "Ah well. If it was that easily forgotten, surely it wasn't important."

"Oh, I remember now!" Halona shuffled and lifted the rifle from her back. "Do you have any refined Hextech crystals?"

Image


One shimmering blue dress, a pair of shiny shoes (that hurt Halona's feet the more she walked on them, but apparently they were high fashion, so obviously they were needed), and a golden bracelet that spiraled and clawed its way down her forearm (she actually couldn't tell if it was real gold or just painted metal but it at least looked pretty) later, Halona was walking --well, half walking, half stumbling-- down the hall to the room number on the card Corrick handed her before he disappeared.

Even with the dress in tow and the shoes on her feet, Halona still dragged her steps as she reached the door. The location surprised her. It was no fancy, decadent suite like the rooms she had been to in the past day with Malek and Aracelis. Instead, it was barely more than the necessities. Simple lighting --at least these lights weren't having outages-- simple hall, simple walls, simple door.

But Corrick did not seem like a simple person.

Halona looked at the door in front of her for a moment. This was the last chance for her to turn back--

The door opened. Corrick's faced appeared from behind it, and she could see what looked like a suit jack around his shoulder and arms. He was already dressed. She wasn't.

"You're not dressed yet."

Halona lifted up the dress. "I didn't have a place-- I-I was wondering if I could change in there. How did you know I was out here?"

"I sensed your footsteps." A pause. "Yeah, c'mon in."

"Oh okay," she obliged and stepped past him quickly. The room was just like the hall: simple but effective. Dim lighting let enough light out for her not to trip over the small dresser or the two beds on her way to the bath and shower.

Halona hesitated at the two beds. Corrick noticed what she was looking at. "That's my accomplice's bed."

"Oh! Okay. Where is he now?"

"She's working the mission, just as I am --we are-- about to do, once you get dressed."

"Oh, right." She cleared her throat and shut the bathroom door behind her. Quickly removing the worker's clothes, she set to work on basically squeezing into the dress. The shopkeeper insisted that was how these outfits were supposed to work: accentuate the body by conforming to it.

All it did was make it uncomfortable to move in, and the fabric kept bunching in random, unexpected places. She did admit the colors were striking and rich --the Brythalon wealthy certainly knew how to put color into clothing. But, then again, it certainly came at a cost.

She inspected the sack Gora had given her with the huge amount of money that used to be in it. Now, what was left was only a handful of gold, only a fraction of the amount she had to begin with. It really did come at a cost.

Finally, the dress was on and she was as comfortable as could be in it. Still, movement in the outfit was stiff and uncomfortable. She could barely shuffle in it, let alone walk like a normal being.

A light flicked on in her head, and she took a sharp tool attached to her rifle and slit the bottom of the dress twice, once in the front and once in the back --the latter took much more effort and care in her limited movement-- and the dress freed itself to movement. It wasn't much, to be honest, but it was levels more than before.

Three quick taps rattled the door, and Corrick cleared his throat from the other side. "I don't mean to rush, but if we don't leave soon, admissions will close. And I'd really hate to break into this thing."

With one last glance in the mirror, Halona slung the rifle over her shoulder and opened the door to the room, stepping out. Corrick, now at the end of a bed, turned to look her outfit over.

"Beautiful."

Halona offered a soft smile, and took his outstretched hand. Together, they left the room, almost giving the impression of a typical rich couple heading to the ball. Almost.

Image


They reached the admissions stand, a large man cleared his throat to let his presence to be known --although Halona couldn't miss him with his size and attitude. "Latecomers, are we? The event is about to start."

"We know. My wife had to find the right outfit." Corrick said, pulling out a thick sack of gold and dropped it in the man's outstretched, meaty hand.

The man tossed the bag around a bit, testing its weight. After a moment, he nodded to Corrick. "Boy do I know that, sir. Ladies and their attires. It has to be perfect." He uttered with a snarl at the end.

Corrick laughed and clapped the man on his back. The sound sounded natural, but still unnerved Halona. "That they do. And I have to say, the time was worth it." The lie slipped off Corrick's tongue as if lying were a second language to him. Halona had a hard time believing this suave and manipulative man was the same person who stumbled all over himself when she first met him.

The man stepped aside, pocketing the money. "You and your missus enjoy the ball, now."

Corrick guided her past them, and his usual scowl returned to his face. He glanced at Halona's incredulous expression. "What?"

"What was that back there?"

"An admission fee. It's normal for Brythalon events."

"No, I mean, you acted like a completely different person."

He grimaced. "I know how Brythalon works." A pause. "Anyway, I hope you didn't mind me paying your way. I thought it was the least I could do for basically blackmailing you into this."

Halona blinked. She didn't even think about the transaction back there. "T-thank you..."

"Don't ment--"

"Halt!"

Corrick stiffened as a guard blocked their way into the pagoda. "Miss, there's no weapons allowed onto the premises of this event. Ship policy."

Corrick glanced at the long and slender weapon on her back. "Let me handle this," he whispered to Halona, and ushered the guard to the side. She couldn't discern their conversation, but noticed Corrick hand the man a card. His expression morphed from stoicism to confusion, then slow understanding as Corrick dropped a few pieces of gold into his palm.

Walking back, Corrick said nothing as they entered the ball. The crowds of rich folks and attire dancing to the bright lights overhanging overwhelmed Halona. Guards were perched on a balcony surrounding the entire glassed cathedral.

Her thoughts were interrupted as Corrick swung her around, taking her hand in his. "Welcome to the dance, Halona." A pause. "Be prepared for anything.

This wasn't a dance, Halona thought. This was a trap. And they were the bait.
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ScarlettFire says...



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The music swelled and ebbed as Malek span her around the dance floor. Ace focused on a point over his shoulder, scanning the faces whirling past as they dance. "So, what am I looking for?" she asked, keeping her voice low. "A Myaran man in a suit?" She flashed him a grin. "I think I already found one."

A breath escaped his nose, his eyes narrow with thought. "Depends on how you sense people. How do you know I'm me with your eyes closed?"

Ace chuckled but decided to humour him. "Well, I don't know." She closed her eyes and tilted her head, feeling him move beneath her hands, felt the heat... "Hmm...."

"You feel it? The heat of my body, from my head to hands to toes. You can feel it in the air," he whispered, "because my body is burning with power." He paused and let go of Ace, but she could still feel him as she continued dancing, as she tucked under his arm, as she rolled into his embrace.

"Of course I feel it," she muttered, opening her eyes. "You're a very strong firebender. It's kinda obvious."

He slowly nodded and leaned in, whispering so close that his lips brushed her earrings. "And Nadir will burn the air as the unforgiving sun. His power eclipses my own."

"Eclipses, huh?" She turned to face him, raising an eyebrow. "That should worry me, shouldn't it?"

The orchestra changed times into a waltz, and the firebender put a hand on the small of Aracelis' back, allowing his touch down to the hip to guide them both. "We will survive. Somehow."

Ace hummed. "Survive, yes. But at what cost?"

He gave her a warm smile. "Maybe a few scars?" He nipped her ear again as he whispered and swung them with the waltz. "Nad dhud I vairk rod han daidh avail raxorav dudo."
(Not that I'd let him touch your lovely face.)

"Scars, pah," she said and shrugged. A moment later, she frowned. "What does that mean?"

Ace's face flushed at his answer, as his words took her by shock: "Nothing's gonna hurt you, my love."

"Your love, is it?" she purred then blinked as she recognised the music. Ace turned a frown upon him, eyes narrowed. "Malek..." She hesitated, glancing around slowly before focusing on him again. "You don't strike me as the dancing type."

The firebender shook his head and shrugged. "And you don't strike me as Mukuno Skav."
(Madame Spy.)

"Again with the saying things I don't understand." Ace sighed, shaking her head slightly.

Malek hesitated. "Do you not like it when I speak Myaran?"

"No, no, it sounds beautiful, Desert Hare." She tensed, eyeing him carefully. "I just don't know what you're saying. You could be beautifully saying you hate me or I'm just a worthless thief."

Malek scoffed. "Thieves are never worthless. I will never speak badly of you in my native tongue."

"Promise?"

"Promise."

Ace's tension loosened again, and her frown melted into a smirk and a sly grin. "You've not missed a step."

He turned them, squeezed her hand. "It's not very hard. Music goes to the heart, the heartbeat to each part of you. No matter where you are in the world, that feeling is the same."

"You...quoted a dance master." Ace was genuinely surprised.

"That could be our safety talk. Quotes by Dressuin Dance Lords--" Malek skipped a step as he saw something behind her, beyond her shoulders. His face paled.

"Malek?" Ace asked, peering closely at her face. "What's wrong?"

"Air and air alone can stop you once your feet touch the dance floor." He swallowed and stepped away. "Follow the heat and I--"

"You'll what?" She frowned at him again, realising he was easily distracted now--and that she was doing at lot of frowning. He was acting...different, acting oddly. Ace rubbed at her temple as she felt a slight headache coming on, regarding him carefully. "You're not just any kind of firebending, dance master quoting Myaran, are you?"

Malek shook his head, leaned in and kissed her on the forehead and the cheek, allowing his lips to curve upward towards the ear for luck. "I need you to follow the heat. I'm..." His gaze turned to the bar where Myaran men were serving the people. "I'm going to clean up down here."

She snorted softly, following the direction of his gaze. "I'll follow the heat, then," she muttered and gave him a quick little bow. "You try not to get into trouble." Ace turned to survey the room. "I think I'll start at the card tables."

They exchanged glances and parted ways. Ace headed for the card tables and Malek for the bar.
Last edited by ScarlettFire on Wed May 03, 2017 11:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"I bow to ChildOfNowhere, my one and only master."


"No one screws Yamcha but life!" - Bulma, DBZ Abridged.
  





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Lumi says...



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There was a saying among the hard-working women of the frozen, industrial Hirvanc: A lady forgets the men in her past when she changes her underwear. At a time like this, as she stood by the champagne fountain with her competitively attractive, competitively wealthy, and perhaps competitively sweet blackmail date, Halona found it proper to reflect on the these things.

"Cou yh may n dns?"

Halona broke from her stupor of sipping champagne and peering over the side of the star- and twilight-lit pagoda to look at Corrick confusedly. "What was that? I..wasn't listening, I'm sorry."

"Could you make it dance? The fountain."

Halona smiled softly and took a sip of the champagne in her glass to test the texture of the fluid. It was certainly light. And the bubbles! She adored the bubbles completely and utterly! Why, perhaps even an airbender could bend a fountain of this drink with all these delightful--she stopped again and nodded. "If I do, we won't be very covert, now will we?"

Corrick shook his head. "On the contrary, I plan to walk away to scout for a moment. You will simply be a waitress performing a kind service to the thirsty patrons of class and dignity."

And what about the thirsty refugees I can't see here?

Halona nodded once more, this time shooing him away casually. He did not hesitate to take the cue. Once he was gone, Halona poised herself elegawkwardly by the fountain with glasses arranged on each tier of the silver rungs. "Ladies and gentlemen, thirsty folk of all ages, The Leviathan is proud to present to you," as a small crowd gathered around her, "The Leviathan's Waltz!"

The people applauded softly as she took a half-step back and began to twist her arms and fingers in delicate, intricate motions, channeling two streams of champagne from the top of the fountain to match the music coming from the band from across the dance floor. With ease, she added a third, a fourth! She found herself smiling and giggling as the fun took over, twisting and turning the drink into spirals and bubbles as each offshoot of golden beauty filled glasses uniquely--until the grand finale, when she spun her body around, turning the remaining champagne of the fountain into a large array of rain, bringing gasps from her crowd. The sparkling starwine flew across the dance floor and into the air above, where it burst into a cloud of sparkling golden vapor, capturing the brilliant decadence of the thousand lights decorating the pagoda.

The party was well-impressed, and as the band changed songs, most applauded--or stuck out their tongues to catch a taste of the miracle.

As her crowd dispersed (after placing gold coins in the fountain!) Halona felt a light touch on her shoulder, where she turned. "Corrick!" she whispered. "You're back so soon! And you're with the focus of the entire gala!"

He chuckled softly. "I was gone a full fifteen minutes for recon. Someone got carried away," as he teasingly flicked a star of champagne from her nose. "Your display was gorgeous, darling, but I'm afraid we should--"

"Wait."

"That's the literal opposite of my proposal, but you have my ear."

Halona breathed out a slow, crucial breath. "I need to know things about you."

"My real shoe size is not twelve, I just prefer comfort over pedantic accuracy."

"No, not that--though they do seem to bring your whole form together nicely--" she huffed. "Are you a member of a police organization, hunting this man?"

Corrick's attention was suddenly fully piqued, and his shoes turned to Halona to prove it. (A man's feet always point to what he's after.) "I am not a member of a police organization, Halona, but I am focused on my mission."

She bucked up and swallowed, staring him in the eye. "If you told me, would you have to kill me?"

"That's a clever joke, Halona, and I will use it again, but really, now's not the time."

But more than his words, her thoughts lingered on her own. She'd changed her underwear, sure, and she'd moved on, sure; but Halona was fixated on that Myaran man back in the penthouse. She again tried to make sense of it. She could've called Corrick for help, but she didn't know how to contact him, and the man had Ace by the throat. There was immediate danger.

Even she'd pulled her rifle.

But the image of Malek burning through the hall and ending it all in an instant, like he'd done it a thousand times before...

She pushed down the thoughts and hugged up against Corrick with her hips swaying against his own, but not to the beat of the music. "My mind is full of the past, competitively handsome date. Fill it with the present?"

He raised an eyebrow. "So the Leviathan's Ballet wasn't enough present for your mind?"

Her hands draped around his neck. "It was all flash and no bang." She smiled. "May we at least dance, Mister Mission? It'd be nice to enjoy the apocalypse if it's coming anyway."

He looked about, but slowly nodded. "We...may." He cleared his throat. "But at a better vantage point. No targets are clear from this position."

Halona waggled her eyebrows as she pointed up above them to a large overhead lattice that wrapped around the pagoda in an exotic Kirkiln design above the dance floor. "All the vantage you want, with all the you I...sorta want. In the moment."

There was a pause.

"I made champagne fireworks, dammit!" And they made for the lattice.

Image


From the high level, their view of the Majestic Pagoda took Halona's breath away. That, or the seaward wind blowing between the slits in her dress. Regardless, she had her distraction--in fact, she had thousands in Corrick, the lights, the music, the lovely people down below--and she wasn't letting go anytime soon.

Once more she draped her arms around his neck and nestled in close with her ear to his chest, her other ear to the orchestra below. "Is this a good time to tell you," his chest purred with bass, "that I don't quite know how to dance?"

Mother hammerer!

She stepped back and sighed, unable to hold back her coy smile. "Wha-ha-HA-t kind of spy doesn't know how to dance?!"

He held up his hands in surrender. "I told you, I'm no member of a police force!"

Halona pursed her lips. "Is that why you're looking more for a man than you are looking at these?!" She began to boost up her bosom, but he stopped her, face flushed.

"No, no! I mean!" He cleared his throat. "I am very bad at Brythalon dancing. It's so tight and structured!" Halona could see him trying to save his ship. "Maybe you could teach me something from Hirvanc?"

And she grinned, doubts assuaged. "Oh, now that sounds fun!" Halona broke out of her heels and stretched a bit before twisting down to the floor to loosen up. "So the trick is," she noted, "is not to give a flying polbat crap what others think," she shimmied up to him, "and just have fun!"

"In what time signature do you do that bloody move in?!"

"All of em?" Haona pouted. "No polbat craps, remember?" She tugged him along to a large portion of the lattice where she began to shimmy and sway, ignoring how tight her dress was.

And she noticed his eyes wandering across the dance floor, the pagoda, the bar where--thank the gods Malek had his back turned, identifiable only by his long waterfall of curls--only scrawny Myaran refugees appeared to be serving drinks and food; the stage where Dressuin women flowed from ankle to ankle in perfect harmony.

She wondered what would happen if he knew Malek was Malek, if that moment of mistake came when he turned his head enough to reveal his face. Would Malek die, too? Did he deserve to?

No, no, no! She was even certain of this, though Halona felt certain of so few things in her life, she knew that Malek was a good and decent person somewhere inside of him. She had just seen a darkness. A repellent. Something for which her brain wished to shut down his compartment. But he had saved her. Arguably twice since being on the ship.

What should I do?

She slipped on champagne rain, which is not what Halona should've done, and would've fallen off the lattice; but Corrick caught her, held her by the small of her back, and pulled her up again. "Thank you, Halona," Corrick crooned.

"F-for almost falling onto innocent bystanders?"

"For being my partner."

Halona pulled herself up and rested over his shoulder as he held her, but squinted as a trio of guards made their way out of the lower deck of the bar, moving with urgency. "Corrick, look--a lead!"

Corrick turned his head and rushed them beside a pillar to follow the guards where he swore under his breath at their speed. "Stay here." He slid on his knees on the lattice and gripped his fists together, jerking back on thin air as if pulling back a hefty man's arms. One of the guards suddenly toppled, his metal-clad shoes stopping in their tracks. As he released, he jerked back with one hand as if catching a dunefly and slid back behind the pillar, heart beating with adrenaline. Corrick unfurled his hand to show a small HexTech earpiece used for communications. Between them, it buzzed.

It ran a message in Hirvanci.

It ran a message in Myaran.

And then a message in Common: Multiple confrontations on the balcony. Myaran suspects.

With a nod between the two of them, Corrick put in the ear piece and took off across the lattice. Halona let out a sigh and looked down at the party below, and pondered on what a good sniper location she'd found.
I am a forest fire and an ocean, and I will burn you just as much
as I will drown everything you have inside.
-Shinji Moon
  





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Thu May 04, 2017 8:35 pm
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Lumi says...



Image


Malek. Was. So. Bored.

"Skonnheim, neat." From his analysis of the gala decks, the only place that gave a blind spot for one's face--at least from one ange or another--was the bar, covered by the excessive ribbonwork of the decorators.

A Myaran bartender placed Malek's drink down in front of him, where he studied the red liquor for...anything. Bubbles, miscolorings, any indication that Nadir had a grip on the good stuff. He sniffed the glass and downed it, bracing himself as the fire of the Hirvanci drink coated him from teeth to belly. He found it funny, in a way. Two days on a ship with thousands of people--over a thousand of his people--on board, and despite how lonesome Malek attempted to live...

Well, this was the first time he'd felt alone.

Granted, it was hard to feel alone when there were men hunting his head at every turn. He tapped the bar for another pour and gave over more gold. Was it a mind game from Nadir? To make Malek fear his own people? Even the men serving him drinks could be poisoning him. He downed the drink.

Alone.

He hadn't said goodnight or goodbye to Ahmed or Abrah. The Skonnheim made him want to say he wasn't their big brother, but their horrible, renegade fa--

He tapped the bar again, and a hand caught his wrist. "I think we should slow down, sir." His accent was thick. His accent was true. He could've been Malek's next-door neighbor.

A woman approached. "He's completely dripping with the stuff, I'd say. Let's take him to get some water. For our brother."

A third approached and put a blade to Malek's spine, evoking a slight growl.

"We don't want to stop your good time, brother, we just don't want you to be too easy a target."

Malek glowered up at the man and woman. "You could've poisoned me and lived," he growled.

"Those," the knife man cut in, "were not our orders."

Image


Below, the distillery was dark and made of wood that filled all senses with the richness of the liquor inside. A contribution from Hirvanc. Malek was released from their grasp into the dark room as he lit a flame about himself.

"You'll have to tell me a safe word," confessed the woman as she approached, "because I will admit that I often don't know when to stop playing with my toys." Blades of air began cycling around her wrists and ankles; she launched into a melee strike that sent Malek into a dodge on the dank floor. He conjured flames on his fists and returned the blow, coming to a punch struggle between them, broken only by the waterbender of the trio's assault as he joined the fray.

A jet of liquor broke through them, but in his ignorance caught fire as it spattered on the woman's face and clothes, on the wall and floor. Malek jerked her to the side and gave her a jab to the jaw, sending her flying--ablaze--into the darkness. The waterbender swallowed hard and stepped back, rethinking his approach.

"Idiot," Malek spat, and hurled a kick into his head, sending him after the woman. The final man remained, summoning his bending from the planks on the floor. They rose up in splinters and creaks, jolting for him like wicked vines. Malek redoubled his fire aura and charged through them, shattering them with minimal damage. The earthbender--or woodbender, as Malek noted--gasped as Malek lifted him by the throat and tossed him in the pile with his comrades.

"You fuckers had better start talking some good shit about your boss and where I can find him, or this place is getting a new coat of paint, courtesy of the blood banks of Myar."

The three stood up in a line, silent as they held knives to their throats. "All He does is for the rising of the sun that no other may consume."

Malek's eyes went wide as they readied to slit themselves. He snatched his dagger from his vest and threw it, ablaze, cutting down two instantly. The third looked on with horror as the dagger wavered before his neck, the fire around it drawing it back. Blood rained around them, but dried around Malek as his aura intensified, turning blood to scabs that littered the floor. He grabbed hold of his dagger and pressed a hand to the man's hand--quivering--holding his knife.

"Why didn't you poison me?"

The man shook his head. "Those weren't our orders."

"Why didn't you kill me?"

A pause. "Those...weren't our orders."

Malek's eyes narrowed. "Can I give you orders?"

The man nodded, and Malek slowly grinned, stepping back. "Drop the knife."

The man dropped it.

"Call me Lord Malek."

"Yes, Lord Malek."

"Remove all the Black HexTech fibril from your friends you can and tattoo Terror into my palm."

And he did without hesitation.

Malek cauterized the tattoo stitching and nodded. "What is Nadir's last name?"

The earthbender fetched his knife and held it to his throat, where Malek smacked it away.

"Fucking mind games," he growled. Holding the man by the head, he brought his lips to his ear and the man's lips to his own. "Where is Nadir?"

"Leading the wind."

Malek's eyes shot wide. He grabbed his dagger and sliced through the man's throat, burning the blood that spurted forth.

But something rolled from the severed head. A small. Hextech. Earpiece. A communicator.

Every demon wants his pound of flesh.

Malek grabbed the earpiece and broke from the distillery, made his way out of the bar, across the dance floor, and ducked into a dark place neglected by the thousands of lights.

He imagined his voice without an accent and recalled how to speak Hirvanci. And delivered a message in three tongues.

And again.

And again. The guards were moving to the bar in a frenzy. A lone man moved behind them, trailing.

But no Nadir...
I am a forest fire and an ocean, and I will burn you just as much
as I will drown everything you have inside.
-Shinji Moon
  





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Mon May 29, 2017 7:07 am
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ScarlettFire says...



Image


Aracelis drifted across the ballroom, eyes focused on the gamblers' corner. Malek had gone off to the bar a few minutes ago, which left Ace to persue another avenue of entertainment. And reconnaissance. Namely, the card tables. There was still a nagging concern for Malek and what he'd been telling her, especially about Nadir. Just what the hell was going on between the two Myarans?

Ace shook her head and slipped between two groups of fancily-dressed people. They didn't even look her way. Sometimes it was good to look Dressuin.

Somehow, she didn't want to know what, exactly, the deal was with this Nadir fellow. She forced herself to smile and looked for a free spot at one of the dozen or so tables, eyes narrowed. Ace spotted fairly quickly and gracefully took a seat at the card table, passing the dealer a handful of gold. The young dealer inclined his head towards her and dealt her in on the next hand.

"Well," drawled someone from her left, "you're a pretty sight for sore eyes."

Ace snorted and turned towards the person, eyebrow raised. She was met with messy brown hair and a rather dull outfit of all black and brown. The young man grinned at her, cocky and way too sure of himself. That grin told her everything, along with the slight heat radiating from him. Nowhere near as hot as Malek, of course. Ace eyed him a moment longer and turned away, trying to pay attention to the cards she'd been given.

"No."

"Aww, c'mon," the young man said, tone teasing. "I haven't even asked you anything yet, beautiful!"

"I said no," Ace said sternly, taking a peek at her cards. A pair of tens. She grinned and tapped for a hold. "And don't bother asking again, because my answer will still be no." She paused and glanced towards him, offering him a dark look. "Besides, I'm here with company. Flirting with someone besides my escort is unseemly."

"Name's Rakan."

Ace exhaled sharply. The guy would just not quit. She turned back to him. "Look, Rakan," she said and turned to look towards the bar. "I'm here with a big, angry Myaran, alright...so how about you leave me the hell alone before he turns you into ash, okay?"

Rakan opened his mouth to reply, but stopped short as she turned away again and proceeded to ignore him. As he grumbled under his breath, Ace watched the other players and finally flipped her cards over. The entire table groaned as they realised she had the highest number. The dealer set about giving Ace her winnings, collected the cards and dealt another hand.

Just as Ace got her second hand, there was intense heat at her back and then a polite, "Excuse me," from somewhere above her head. The voice was a deep, rich Myaran, but it didn't sound ... right. It didn't sound familiar. It didn't sound inviting or warm, more like cold and calculating. She frowned as fingers slid over her arm, near the elbow, and turned just in time to see Rakan stalking away. The man now sitting beside her was not who she'd been expecting.

"You're not Malek," she deadpanned, eyeing the tall, strange Myaran warily. He grinned.

"I apologize that the world did not give you what you desired." His gaze was fiery and golden, practically alchemical. "But I am who I am."

Ace shifted, reaching for her belt and the man's grip tightened on her arm, suddenly burning hot. She inhaled sharply, glancing towards the handful of others at the card table. They were too engrossed in the card game to pay her any attention. And the man's grip was a bone-deep ache, burning right through her soul. She grimaced but made no move to pull away, frozen in pain.

He leaned in close, lowering his voice. "It is," the man exhaled through his nose, practically heat waves on her ear, "very rude to cause a scene at a party to which you were so cordially invited."

She leaned back, gaze suspicious, and watched him. He watched her back. "Who are you?"

A smile. A smile that brought Malek to mind. "I believe you know who I am, Miss Ilmatar." Nadir, because who else would it be, leaned back in his seat and cast the card table a cursory glance. His dark, fiery gaze slid back to her and he smiled slyly. "A beautiful dancer such as yourself not on the dance floor?" Nadir shook his head. "Fix that, and come talk with me."

Ace flicked the table a glance, keeping Nadir in her peripheral vision. For a moment, she considered declining his invitation to dance--but then she remembered what Malek had told her. She was fishing. And she'd just caught her catch of the day. Ace offered Nadir a small smile, looking down pointedly at where his fingers gripped her arm when he showed no inclination of removing them.

"Dancing sounds like fun," she muttered and toss her cards back to the dealer. The young man glanced at her briefly and then went right back to dealing cards. Ace pulled her arm away, eyeing it carefully. It appeared mostly unharmed, if a little...red. She glanced up at him from beneath her eyelashes, still wary. "Lead the way."

The band, Aracelis noted as she joined Nadir in the center of the dance floor below, began playing slow and arrhythmic Myaran music. It had a name--and she pressed herself to think of it with her entirety; that is, until he answered for her, taking her hand and waist against his own. "The oppressive wealth call this style of music Jazz, and it captivates both the body and soul, don't you agree?"

She tossed her head. "It's quite lovely, yes." Ace refused to say anything more, mind whirling as she tried to think of a way to put some distance between them. He'd already burned her once. She had no doubts he'd do it again. Besides, she thought as she scanned the ballroom, where the hell is Malek? He should've been back by now...

...and Nadir's hand was on the small of Ace's back, bringing her to focus. "You are distracted," he crooned, massaging the heat through the muscles in her back to relieve her tension. "And if you are wondering if he is dead..." Aracelis snaped to attention. "Those were not the orders given."

"You don't want him dead?" she asked, curious despite herself. "Why not? He seems pretty sure that you do."

The tall, dark man laughed under his breath, taking a hand into his tuxedo. "You know," he said as he retrieved a small hextech ear bud between his fingers, placing it in Ace's ear where she could hear Malek's voice leading the guards into a split of twelve, thirteen, maybe fifteen directions, "With as much as he's accomplished on his own tonight, I am quite surprised that Kiv-Myar would stoop to using a Wulvhalo."

Ace tensed, pulling back sharply. Nadir's grip tightened painfully, heat searing through her. She grit her teeth and glowered at him. "Explain."

Nadir inhaled sharply, raising her chin to match his eyeline. The band stopped. Thunder rolled below, and the sound of the lightning nets soaking the power crackled, the force of the storm below them lurching the ship around for a moment. "I will explain. Yes." And he put Ace on her feet, where she brought cool mist to salve her chin, eyes closed. He shook his head. "A Wulvhalo. A seduced slave. A thrall, a pawn, a Whore of War." He pointed to the band and forced them to start up again as he took the earpiece from Ace.

With a searing gust and a dizzying spin for Aracelis, he swept past her and disappeared into the crowd. Ace tried to follow where he went but he was well and truly gone the moment the crowd closed behind him. Ace frowned at the milling, dancing crowd and exhaled carefully. She brushed her hands over her skirt and recomposed herself, Nadir's words whirling about her head. After a moment, she turned and went to go find Malek, wherever the hell he'd gone.

She had words for him.
"I bow to ChildOfNowhere, my one and only master."


"No one screws Yamcha but life!" - Bulma, DBZ Abridged.
  








This planet has - or rather had - a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much all of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.
— Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy