[P] stars raining diamonds into the void
#1
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[WC: 850] Set outside of the Storage area, mid-afternoon.

THWACK! went the axe, splitting the log cleanly in two. Grievous bent and picked up another. Salsola had servants who could handle such menial tasks as these, especially given his high position within the pack, but he had been doing the chore for many seasons and took enjoyment in the labor. Being able to complete a job felt rewarding.

Besides, for as much wood as they burnt it was not unreasonable to provide more supplies. It was no different than hunting or gathering herbs.

These logs had come from a fallen tree he had found in the Barrens. Ursula had been the one to haul it back. Grievous had begun to find admiral things about the shaggy horse, and her strength was one of them.

After all, who had a white horse? It had only been recently that the ashy color in her coat had faded, and except for the areas where her skin was exposed the draft horse was the same color as the snow they trampled through. He took her change for a good sign. A reward, even, from his mother's gods or another which understood how he would read the sign.

She had dragged the tree back to the storage unit, where he had hid it from the weather. Left behind, the dead tree dried slowly in the cold air. When Grievous eventually returned after turning his horse loose and filling his belly, he set to work on cutting up the tree.

All the small branches went first, hacked off and piled in a great mass of crossing limbs. They could be used for kindling, but were less important than the trunk. Skinny as it was, the tree had been divided into a collection of logs that Grievous was now chopping into halves. He was more than halfway through this when his unwelcome visitor arrived.

Nickodemus had known Grievous since he was young. The strange man had been favored by his father, for whatever reason, and seemed to weasel his way into comfortable places with the Mafiosi. He had not advanced much in rank as the years went on, but he had grown thick and wore signs of his wealth – gaudy rings, the half-dozen necklaces hanging down his exposed chest, even the handsome clothing and thick leather belt that tried to hide his expanding waistline.

Well good afternoon. You're hard at work, I see.

Yes, I am.

The wolfdog snorted. He peered over at the pile of branches, meandering in their direction. What are you doing with these?

I will cut and bundle them after this.

May I take some first? I could use some of these branches.

For more stick figures and useless décor. It was Grievous' turn to grunt. If you want.

He hoisted the axe overhead and brought it down with another THWACK. The split stopped halfway down the middle, forcing Grievous to bang the whole thing until it broke apart.

Giving you a little trouble, is it?

The gray wolf shot a dirty look in Nickodemus' direction. Did you want to give it a go?

Oh no, I'm fine. No need to be so testy, Henchman. I would expect you to be in a much more pleasant mood these days.

From the way he said those words, and from the way the man looked at him, Grievous recognized he was trying to imply something. His eyes narrowed.

What's that supposed to mean?

Oh, don't worry, I'm a man of discretion. You and our dear Paladin, well, you've finally laid with her, I heard—,

He might have had more to say, but Nickodemus' breath was knocked out of him as Grievous slammed the older man into hard door in the side of the hill.

A ferocious expression twisted Grievous' face and his eyes were wide and fever-bright. He was much larger than Nickodemus, and easily able to pin him against the oak door.

What did you say? He asked slowly. His voice had gone horrendously cold.

I just – ow, oh ow – you stayed with her overnight!

Yes, I did. That was all.

There's nothing wrong with – ahh! Right, nothing, nothing happened! Nickodemus whined.

He clutched at his chest and acted like a ninny straightening himself up again. He fluffed himself out all self-importantly and ran a hand through his wild hair.

Who told you that? Grievous asked him.

No one. I saw you on your way over and then I saw you leaving in the morning, so I assumed—,

Incorrectly.

Yes, if that's what you say.

Don't you talk about her, Grievous growled. If she hears anything like that she will cut you.

No she...well, Nickodemus reconsidered. You're right, she would. Well fear not, my man, not another word on the matter! I'll just take my branches and be on my way.

Grievous let him go. Nickodemus soon scampered off as best he was able, dragging his chosen limbs behind him. The annoyed Henchman watched him leave and turned back to his task irritably.

This time, the axe came down hard enough that pieces of the split log went flying.


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masks beneath masks until suddenly
the bare bloodless skull
Character Wiki  | [Image: 80x15_songbird.png] | Player Wiki
#2
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Made a special table for this thread. Made a few little assumptions. (+600)


There really was no point in hiding it anymore.

All of Salsola knew, and they were not afraid to point out the obvious. Brocade had made his first mistake at the Shield Tier's meeting, claiming Grievous to be 'her man'. It made her flustered, not only a feeling that she was not used to, but to give such a title to someone who deserved better was disgusting. He was so much more than any common man. Both him and Krios were low, another reason to show to her that there were still men in this place that could not be trusted, let alone enough to get near.

And then just before leaving, the gray man had to take it one step further by giving her a parting gift, something to share with him. The feline was not something she could just toss away once she got home.

Well, hopefully once spring came, it would be able to adjust to the fact that it would have to share it's new living quarters with Cirsium. That bear came before any of her other companions. Had it not been for the black bear, Artemisia would have never taken in such a bratty pup in the first place. She dared not to think about what her life would have been like if she had never been brought to Salsola... what it may be like to have someone in her life again that she could trust. Lokr was the first.
But he was gone.

The dog woman padded towards Salsola's storage area, the sound of the axe coming crashing down drawing her in. Rapier rested along at her side, just as it always did whenever she was away from home. Any warrior, especially those in the faction ranks, would be foolish not to keep something close on their person.

Flopped ears moved up to the sound of voices. One was clearly Grievous, no doubt the one that was hard at work, but Nickodemus being there to pester him. There was more than one reason that the dog woman kept to herself, and it was people like him that were a big reason. For as serious of a woman as she was, there was no need to poke and prod at the beast... not unless you are expecting to get bit.

Which was exactly what happened to Nick.

She had only just barely rounded the corner when she saw the pale man keeping him pinned against the door of the pack's storage. He had made a very grave mistake, and this was not something she was going to stop the man from handling. They both worked in a similar manner to one another, not taking to kindly to the spreading of rumors about them or what they had done with one another. All she had offered him was to spend the night with her, and it just so happened she only had one bedding spot. They enjoyed each other's company, but nothing more than that.

Blue gaze fixated on Nickodemus as he came racing in her direction. Tail curled between his legs as he felt her face just a few inches away from his own, "O-Oh! Paladin! What a surprise!" Her lips curled up, inching closer, "You best get going before I do the same thing to you that Grievous just did."

"Yes ma'am! Enjoy your day."

Idrieus gave a snort as she approached the hard worker, eyes following the log that went flying. Her feet carried her in it's direction, gently lifting it in her arms as it was brought back to the pale man, "It seems rumors are spreading about us more than they already have been."

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Idrieus Eternity
[Image: kAsWGPo.png]



Avatar art by Nic · Sig art by Nina
#3
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[WC: 306]

For a moment he stood there, leaning his weight into the axe. He was angrier than he had felt in a long time, and irrational thoughts raced through his mind. This surprised him more than anything else, but Nickodemus' words had felt like a gross violation and he was now considering chasing after Nickodemus and—

—and what, hit him? Slap him around for saying something trivial? That was an abuse of his power, an unnecessary, but it sounded like such a good idea—

Idrieus was here.

He froze up, seeing the way her body betrayed stiff anger. It was easy to miss it, from how she carried herself, but he read her so easily now. The rest of them didn't understand her. Grievous did, and right now he could tell she wasn't happy.

You heard that, he said plainly. Grievous released the axe, frowning. His hands felt warm when he took the wood from Idrieus, adding it to his pile. I am sorry, I should have been more discreet. I don't care what anyone says about me, he showed his teeth. But I will not listen to them lie about you.

His ears turned back, then forward again angrily. Chattering like fool squirrels, everyone! He ranted, squaring his shoulders and flinging his hands even as he bent to pick up another log. I can't believe he spoke to me like that! He thinks because he is so old now he is wise, but he spends his time making junk and clucking like a hen!

Grievous yanked the axe free. With one hand he balanced the log vertically on the flat stump. He considered telling Idrieus to move away, but imagined she wouldn't be so easily struck by the broken wood if he missed again.

Luckily, his strike was true and split the log cleanly in half.


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masks beneath masks until suddenly
the bare bloodless skull
Character Wiki  | [Image: 80x15_songbird.png] | Player Wiki
#4
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Such blasphemy <3. (+600)


Idrieus was a woman of logic and purpose. Anyone in the Shield Tier could have easily picked up on that from the manner in which she behaved during their meeting. There was food, drinks, and a chance for it to be more than just talking... At least that was what Krios seemed to imply with his jokes, only to have everyone else join in. Drunken fools. Not even Brocade had been through as many wars as she had, and even at such an age. If he had, he would know better and whip those children into shape.

She held her tongue from spitting far worse in his direction. He was tied down to a woman by a forced marriage. Last time such a thing happened, Lokr was banished. She kept a silent eye on the man's son, waiting to see him or Kamari follow down his road to seek the happiness that would be missing from their life.

Because of the woman she was, emotions were not common to get from her, neither was a sense of her emotional vulnerability. It became harder and harder for any outsider looking in at her life to understand how complex she really was. The only one that could read her like an open book was Grievous. In a way, she liked that about him. He had become someone she could be open to about anything...

And in a place like Salsola, how could she ask for anything else?

The pale man took the log from her, setting it with the others before he apologized to her. She gave him a smile, a true smile before one hand rested along his shoulder, "Thank you." It was kind of him to do something, but each of them were equally as capable of squashing any rumors about one another. Even teasing was met with a rude awakening from either one of them.

Really, they all needed to mind their own business.

Light blue gaze went a bit wide to listen to Grievous begin his rant. For the most part, the man was a lot like her, held a strong composure about himself, never let anything get under his skin... but now to see him so angry, so fueled with rage. So, it seemed just as she could open up to him, he could do the same about his own frustrations. She would never turn an ear away from him.

The dog woman turned her gaze down on the log as it split, stepping closer to the stump as she reached for one of the logs, her hands moving out towards him for the axe he held. Balancing the tool along her hands, she reached down for a log of her own, eyes focused on the piece of wood, "Salsola has become a shell of what it once was. The next generation always thinks they know better than their elders. For as much as I cared and looked up to Lokr, he fell into the same trap. Now he's gone."

She raised the axe, her own teeth bared as she brought it down on the log, "Children is what all of them are! Elphaba is no older than I am, and O'Riley is probably no different. They snuff out any sense of goodness in this place and replace it with their own twisted sense of right and wrong. Anything that does seem good will just become a ghastly rumor!"

The axe sliced through the wood, the two halves falling to the side. Idrieus stuck the tool carefully into the stump as she picked up the two pieces, sighing, "You're all the good I have left. I don't want to lose that."

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Idrieus Eternity
[Image: kAsWGPo.png]



Avatar art by Nic · Sig art by Nina
#5
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[WC: 367]

All these secrets made Salsola dangerous – people learned to withold things like emotions, and it would manifest in outbursts. Violence, depravity, it was all boiling under the surface. They lived in a den of thieves and occultists, among killers and madmen, and oh indeed Grievous had bloodied his hands and done terrible things in the name of the Law. This was the cost of loyalty. Even now he could not tell her what he and O'Riley had done, fearful of what this secret lorded over him still.

Yet to hear her raise her voice so openly and unafraid of consequence filled him with a rush of pride that felt unlike anything he had ever known. He looked at her wholly, admiring the visible muscles in her arms and her back, the way her curly blonde hair flew like a golden fleece, how unique she looked against every other person he had ever met. Her power wasn't just in her strong body, displaying in her angry motions all this might, but in her tenacity.

In that moment he knew he was in love with her.

He was, therefore, struck by what Idrieus said like an arrow. As soon as her hands were free he sought them out.

Idrieus I—, he wanted to know what was the right thing to say, and his mind felt blank. Words had never been his specialty, like his book-smart brother or silver-tongued cousins. He was brutish, and simple, and content with the mundane and expected. She had taken his eyes and forced them open, made him examine things that were difficult. She made him feel smart and worthwhile. Each day he saw her was improved for her presence.

For a very long time, he had felt his life was out of control. A makeshift apprentice for his parents, only to be abandoned. A placeholder for a role he was not fit to fill. Directionless, Grievous did not know how to move forward.

Things were changing. He needed something he could rely on.

He pulled her closer to him and met her eyes. They were the color of an empty summer sky and full of fire.

I want you to be my wife.


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masks beneath masks until suddenly
the bare bloodless skull
Character Wiki  | [Image: 80x15_songbird.png] | Player Wiki
#6
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Ship! Ship! Ship! (+600)


It was hard to keep some things in like this. Of course, it would have been smarter for her to express such thoughts and feelings she had about her home behind closed doors... a place that was far more private than the open storage area of Salsola. Anyone could have been around to hear her, to hear both of them as they vented out their frustrations. At least his was no nearly as severe as her own. She spoke on the whole of this broken Kingdom. Nothing seemed like it would ever be fixed...

And it only took one loyal follower of Elphaba and/or O'Riley to have her mouth shut entirely. But then again, such an act would only prove her to be right about them. There was no sense of freedom, no sense of one's own identity and thoughts. You had to agree with those that were higher than you or be silenced for thinking any other way.

There's no way Salsola would come to her backing should she display such thoughts out in the public eye, dare to speak against any of the Mafiosi when they gave their speeches. She was far smarter than to do something like that.

The axe came down, her heart open to him. It was not something that was easy for her to admit, hardened by the life she had been brought into, that she had stood for since her youth. It was in these rare moments that the pale man really got to see the woman that was hiding away from the rest of the world. He was the only one worthy enough to see her like this.

Grievous began to speak, but he cut himself off. It seemed that he was at a loss for words... again. This wasn't the first time this had happened before, and with both of them knowing one another so well, she knew it was just as hard for him to talk about these feelings as well. Her posture remained relaxed, wood in her arms before she sat them down with the pieces he had cut.
It wasn't until she felt his touch, drawing her in closer to him when her eyes returned to him. Cold blue gaze of ice seemed to melt in the sun of his golden gaze.

He wanted her to be his wife.

At first, she wasn't sure how to process what he was telling her. His wife? Her lips began to move, but her wording was stuttered, "What? You want- are you- What??" She did love him, there was no denying that internally, but up to this point in her life, she had never thought she would ever have a man in her life. She had always assumed them to be like the men of the Big Five, none of them being trustworthy, all of them out to stab her in the back when they got the chance.

Lokr was the first to change her mind, and now she had allowed Grievous to become a close part of her life.

The Paladin's mind flashed back to the night they shared together. How close each of them were to one another, how calm the night seemed to be when they retired to bed, how nice it felt to have their arms wrapped around one another. She wasn't lonely anymore. She had him by her side, and to throw that away would be the biggest mistake of her entire life.

There would never be another opportunity like this.

Her arms reached up, wrapped around his strong torso, her head and golden locks resting against him. She smiled again, giving him a gentle lick, "I couldn't ask for anyone better to spend the rest of my life with. I will be your wife, if you will become my husband."

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Idrieus Eternity
[Image: kAsWGPo.png]



Avatar art by Nic · Sig art by Nina
#7
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[WC: 308]

It was the first, and perhaps the only time, he caught her off guard.

His expression wavered between hopefulness and fear, but as Idrieus pulled him close Grievous realized what was happening. A smile spread across his face, wide and toothy. Yes, she had said yes! His tail began to wag and his whole face lit up. He could scarcely believe it.

Of course! Anything, Idrieus, anything you want, he promised her, and then he began to laugh. It was a nervous sound at first, but grateful, pure the longer it went on. He was effervescent. They had made an oath all for themselves here, something that no mortal master or god needed to see. To each other alone was this promise, and Grievous would not acknowledge any challenged to what he now held in his heart.

He pulled her close, touching her long hair with one roaming hand. This beautiful, wild woman was going to be his bride. She was his wife now, and he her husband. They belonged to one another above all other oaths now, like his parents before him. That was how things were supposed to be when it came to matters of love.

No one else would ever get to touch her.

I'm going to do everything I can to provide what you need. If you want children, I'll provide for them and teach them – I'll do whatever I can to see that the ideals that you believe in are carried on. Anything, he repeated, and his touch became possessive. No one could ever take her away now. She had chosen him, and he was good enough for her, and that was the end of the matter.

I love you, he admitted, pressing his chin into her hair. I think I have for a long time. I should have told you sooner.


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masks beneath masks until suddenly
the bare bloodless skull
Character Wiki  | [Image: 80x15_songbird.png] | Player Wiki
#8
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(+500)


Idrieus was not used to being caught off guard by anything. She was the Paladin after all, the elite fighter of those in Salsola... guess next under Brocade depending on who is asked. No enemy could catch her without being prepared, and no member of Salsola could not try to break her out of the shell that she had formed around herself. What seemed like a lifetime of war had hardened the woman... and it was hard to see what was really underneath.

Grievous had always been the exception to that.

Even so, her decision was never one of impulse. Being the Paladin, and even the only member of the Shield Tier for some time had given her the chance to think more on her own ideals and how she felt in the whole society of Salsola. She had to think everything through when it came to combat, when it came to being on the battlefield, so it was only fitting that she did the same when it came to her personal life.

Marriage was admittedly not anywhere on the dog woman's radar. She could have gone her entire life without having someone for a mate, and even if she had, never imagined she would trust a male enough to hold that right. Then again, it seemed none of the females had an interest in her, though most already had their own mates or were not interested in swinging that way.

But he had always been there for her, and she to him in some manner of speaking. She had never seen the pale man act so defensively, and in her name as well. They could talk without feeling like the whole of Salsola was breathing down their necks. There was no way she could repay him for that fact alone. In a kingdom where secrets were everything, and any sort of information could be used against anyone, it said something for the level of trust she held for this man.

And that was why she agreed to it. She could not let him slip away from here. After losing her mother figure, then her father figure... he was all that was left. She had no one else.

Idrieus couldn't help but be caught off again when he pulled her close to him.. and then the mention of children. Not but a few moments ago she had agreed for them to become husband and wife, but now he was talking about children. Well, this was going a bit too fast for her liking. Still, wanting to stay in good spirits, one hand was placed gently along his chest, "Whoa, slow down there Grievous. Let's worry about actually getting married before we even start talking about kids."

Priorities.

Even so, the Paladin rested gently in his arms... actually feeling so safe with him. It truly was a wonderful feeling in this corrupt place, "I.." It was so much harder for her to say it, to expression her own inward feelings aside from anger and her dislike for Salsola and it's members. She felt her whole face light up, heat rushing through her as she blurted it out, "I love you too."

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Idrieus Eternity
[Image: kAsWGPo.png]



Avatar art by Nic · Sig art by Nina


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