[P] [M] Carried with the madness and scars

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Foredated to September
To find them a fortune, chests filled with gold

An act of defiance could never be rewarded with escape from punishment. Every Salsolan knew that to be caught with willfulness upon their tongues was to invite the knife of the Law. Allowing oneself to be captured committing sin in the first place was cause for derision, regardless of the demanded penance.

A good thief was a dab hand at escaping, a master was never caught at all.

Coincidence. Helena hardly believed in such things, no, there was scarce any room in her dealings for such conjecture. She would not suffer this fool to live.

The two made a turn in their direction, and revealed themselves to a land that bogged and simmered with stagnancy. Droning became prevalent within silken ears, those flittering forms darted from her hand.

Here they came upon her target, the dun woman turned, and her face crumpled into savagery. As befit an Outsider of ill-birth. The lilting of a strange accent, twisted and foreign in a terrible way,

<"I told you I wasn't fucking talking. Leave me alone you bitch."> Drawing her spear up defensively, darting sickly eyes between herself and the man at her side.

Helena smiled.

"One last chance, mon cherie. I am not being an unforgiving woman, what ees being one teensy word." Silky words like honey, sucking and cloying. Her patience frayed however, and there was not even an instant for the unfortunate wolfdog to respond.

A wave of her hand, the behemoth was unleashed.

I can't help this awful energy
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Helena was his charge today.

Even as their edges abraded against one another, Salsola came before all. Unlike Sapient, the Thistle Kingdom required much more of their own, and it wasn't unusual for Shaamah to put his personal preferences aside for the good of the Kingdom. It was his duty, before all, to the Queen. His Queen.

Yet, as their trading endeavor had morphed into another of Helena's informants gone unfavorable, the duo altered their directive. Temporary, Helena made it seem. Just a small side-venture to their greater gain with traders near the coast of the Loch. Yet, when they'd finally crossed paths? Shaamah could tell that the endeavor would be the call to the end of their mission.

This woman. This informant. Her body, trained, her eye, sharp. Unlike the sniveling fools that Helena dealt with of her own time, this one was different. In tune. A warrior, like Shaamah. The piercing gaze that shook all the others was met with one of her own. She had denied Helena and armed herself. The Henchmen knew where this would lead, but a scent of something that he'd not caught before ran heavy downwind.

Her trail had been of Amherst, of the rabble that resided there, of her own perfume of forest and a hint of something else that twisted and tied in the soldier's gut. Now, on the breeze, he could taste it. A dark flavor of the past, thick on her own hide. As Helena's grin graced her features, something stirred in the heart of the soldier at her beck and call. A sickness in his stomach that crawled up his throat. A fury unlike what he'd endured in these lands before.

Trembling at every edge of himself, nares opened to breath it in. That scent. That taste. It fueled him. Every thread on his form stood on end, his heart boiling the blood as it raced within him. Sight blurred, and he shook the heavy weight of his head. A malevolent snarl painted his visage, his brows knotting as his nose grew deep valleys and tall ridges.

The scent of nightmares passed.

The sight of the woman curling like smoke, her edges twisting and morphing into a shape so trained into Shaamah's mind that it could never leave. It was him.

Black. Everything was black.

The gesture of Helena's hand was a lifting of gates, and Shaamah took too great steps forward. Lurching over himself, a baritone growl shook him. The note rose from the depth of his gut and into his chest, wringing himself as a roar, a call to war foreign to these lands and Helena alike, ran through him. Reality, fractured, the heinous call transformed the wastes around him. The swamp, the mire. The humid air and the foul stench of decay, of death, filled his lungs.

Mud slung behind him as he charged ahead, unarmed in his flurry of choler, the charcoal of his paws swallowed with muck of the swamp that splashed up from the force of his own steps,” Sinking to be some wench's guard dog? That's low,” She quipped. The whip and snap of wood as it tagged his shoulder and rebounded away fro the soft tissue of his guarded neck worked like a switch, wired and connected through nerves. A signal was sent of instinct. Before the wooden reach of the weapon could be drawn away, Shaamah's grip curled around it. One fluid motion brought the staff from his hand to his elbow like an ocean wave, and the muscle of his bicep held it fast, as his hand reached further up the wooden shaft.

One wrench dislodged her balance, pulling her up and forward. One twist of his arm pressed the wooden staff against his own muscle. The flex of hard cords bent the weapon and as he brought his grip inward on the wooden shaft, it creaked. Pressing further against the bowing timber, a crack resounded. Chips and splinters of wood shot away from the ruined weapon. It's broken head fell to the ground, only to be coated and disappear into it's muddy grave. The rest of the weapon, pulled from her grip with a flourish to the side, was tossed into obscurity.

Her shadow stood too tall for her to fill, but still she called out to him,” The All-Mother will split your soul to the winds, Cheenola,” Her words poured from her maw as venom, but that cologne that rested against her skin, poisoned them. Words that only a ghoulish eidolon would speak, twisted with the history that that man left behind. The history that he had tried to erase. Wrongs done in the moment, uncured and a plague upon the world.

Conspiring. A god and the undead, sailing on winds that did not belong to them, loosed their scheme in only the presence of a stench alone.

“I have ended you once, foul cur,” The roil and rumble of his chest trailed his works, nefarious glower resting deep in the pit of her soul, through the brilliance of her golden gaze,” And I will do it, time and time, again, until your soul rots as it is meant to,” A thunderous bellow rose deafeningly from him, the gravel of his voice as the roar of an army steeled behind him, muffed in his own ears by the earsplitting ring of the past crossing a threshold to a world in which it didn't belong.

Tracking her with his eyes, he lunged again, the trails of her path in an after image behind her, as he strafed ahead to where her feet would be. A Supreme Being underestimated him for all he was. A twist of the waist unleashed a cocked fist and it bore into her side. Before her body had a chance to curl away, his elbow met her back and liberated her feet from the earth. Like a deity, she flew, until like a mortal, she fell.

Shaamah shook his head as the muck swallowed her color, gripping his head as the ringing grew more pitched and resounded in his mind as if close quarter walls surrounded him. Saliva and snot sprayed from him as he sneezed away at the piercing in his ears, the larimar glow of his feral eye resting hungrily on her edges, morphed by the sight of mind and a purpose unspent.

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That moon, that moon ain't gonna

Helena had seen the Behemoth crippled and consume lesser beasts without a flinch or a quiver. Those had been controlled, directed and entirely at her behest. The reins firmly within her control with her methodical approach. A different kind of wild dog at the end of her chain, this one may soon as turn and attack herself as the sentient fools she set him upon.

Andrew would never bare his teeth at her, but he did not have the raw strength she required for this.

Instantly, there was a sense that this was different. It prickled in awareness along her spine and the thin hope that Shaamah would leave something for her to interrogate afterwards vanished into the thick, soupy air. Still, this was so entertaining.

Shaamah's cry of battle set the heat of her aflame, some baser instinct coming to life to enjoy this promised delight.

The Wrath descended across his cast, all along his arms, his legs, rippling down his spine. Not before had she ever seen him worked into such a fervor, and consumed its enormity with relish. Something about this woman was driving him insane with distraction, and she did not think it were a lost love, or anything so saccharine.

Murderous, with saliva draping in thick ropes from his jowls, his single eye alight with fury. She did not surprise herself to feel her heart thumping so hard in her chest, nor with the syrupy smoke sliding through her veins. Fingers flexed, curling to fists and relaxing.

The other underestimated her opponent, and her smile was back, ember shining their glee. A history existed here, what was there between her dog and this wretched creature. What reason was there for such vitriolic senselessness.

Around their ripping, tearing, seething brawl did she pace -- a jackal awaiting the fall of either giant, to feast upon the carrion remains. Their words fell, snarling gifts to the air, for her ears to pick out among the other raging noise.

Hammered down however, the woman's geis was not yet cast, and upwards from the muck she rose. Slinging the mud from her eyes and producing a knife from somewhere. Helena reached down and palmed up a sizable pebble, clutching it tightly within burnished fingers.

Tell on me and you
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Where there was war in him, she contested, no- mocked, with the thickened grin that painted the features of his vow-sworn enemy. A pledge that never struck true, never made good, in a place he'd abandoned for reasons so much lesser than the value of his own living. The outline that he made for her overshadowed his own solid frame. Toyed with him the very same as that war god had, for so long.

Get up, the furious thought demanded, despite the silence from snarling jaws, Get up like you have so many times. The figure that opposed him rose, as any god should, to meet the very beast that had stolen the purpose of royal blood and befit it to a death sentence. Clawed, curled and rigidly held hands bore the stress of the tightened forearms. Tendons cast deep valleys, strapping against stiff knuckles on the coal of splinter littered paws.

A goliath torn from edge to edge would show his enemy that there was no game, and that the past no longer harbored any honor that warriors, soldiers, or gods might quietly hold between the front lines.

A monster encroached the image that held a simple, shining light. The glimmer of metal. Malevolent sapphire snapped to the weapon that was curled in her palm, the half of her body that had met the muck dripping with the mud and filth of the marsh, in contrast to the bright fury of her own glare. The veil of obscurity was not yet to be lifted. Shaamah's fire burned untamed within him, it's blue tongue lapping at her refection with a red-hot insatiable hunger in his blood.

Armed with a blade, she did grin again. Her thirst for the battle at hand seemed to hold firmly to some set value, be it her own or the understanding of what made him tick, but even as she opposed him as a mortal her smile held fast to the toothy grin of a deity,” Stupid man, worthless but for your size. The powers smile on our quest, you cannot best our gods, they are unconquerable. I am immortal with their blessing,” Each word purposefully phrased, a taste of who she had become for the gnarled expectation that there was something more for her back in Amherst than the cunning to use her as a shield.

To her behest, he stood, like stone, in place. The tilt of his head, like that of a four month pup as his mind process the words that he was bequeathed. Not unlike divinity, did her tones commanded the atmosphere around him, but those words were not her own. It was not fear that stopped him, but the workings of the gears in his mind that portrayed an image far beyond what was capable of belief. That cologne on her coat grew strong with his proximity to her, made stronger by the wetness of the silt that draped over her shoulders.

Had that man finally joined forces with a beast spoken to be a true god?

A baritone growl rattled in his throat as the possibility of his own undoing by the two he committed his first years of rushing blood and labored breaths, but the glowing embers of an opportunity grew alight in his eye.

Two birds. One stone.

No longer a battle of between the scent and the image, Shaamah's crazed conspiracy aligned with that old taste of intent in his mouth. Less sentient men could carry more civility in their eye than Shaamah's lone blue shone, pupil tapered in his quiet lunacy. A god and a cadaver could come together, but he would be a fool to forgo this opportunity for lesser things. The shadow of Helena, as even she armed herself, was gone of him. A wide step circled the woman, her footing finally held firm, and for a suspensive moment there was only the sound of the soldiers' steps around them and the dark utterance from the pit of a hatred brewed by men.

“So be it, false god,” Lowly, he hummed and spit her title like it were poison, calculating thoughts churning as he purposefully moved, with the veil of a predator circling his next meal,” Watch from your ethereal plane as your shrine, defiled, rests in worship to the fallible mortal,” From there, he could see it. No longer did that grin turn up the corners of her lips. No longer did the amusement of a challenge light in her eye. Her maw parted, a rage laden growl and spray of saliva marked her onslaught, and she took off towards him.

Like the earth on a fault line, they collided.

Use of her blade was her next attempt on him, the metal sliding through the thickest layers of the leather that protected the organs beneath core muscles. Snarls sounded, mud slacked in all directions, the thudding echo of physical strikes and the chiming call of metal against metal resounded on their battlefield. Iron laced with the perfume of sunflowers washed the humid air. Threads and clumps of hair and fur littered against the earth, the feathery weight of such strands and plumes falling as if it were snow. Grunts of forced air burdened each of them as their bodies were put to the rigorous test of the first rule of survival and the power of whatever it was that had kept them with the living for as long as they had.

With a clink, the blade rattled against the iron breast plate on the left of chest and rebounded, throwing her motions off. The moment to subdue the weapon was taken. One of her hands gripped in his, they exchanged blows with the dagger kept away from the center of their brawl. Her free fist battered what it could of him, his throat, his face, his own arms as he worked the very same at her. Bit by bit, they broke each other down, but Shaamah's might was no match for the speed and slight of the combatant in his grip. Twisting in a way that he could not, she freed her arm and kicked at his knee. The joint, weakened, bent with the force of her heel and his weight, his body landing crooked against the muddy ground. One knee to the earth and shoulders diagonally tilted, a broad sweeping fist caught at her waist, but she pressed every inch herself against him, his own strike aiding the motion. He couldn't steal her balance now, without risking his own.

She would bless him with a great reward for all his trying.

The blade sank deep in his back a the crook made by his shoulder blade, the muscle that braced his neck recoiling, pulling his head aside. Shaamah protested this natural thing and found his intense, vehement eye deep into her own. So close. They were too close. Electricity fired through him as sirens ran their pitched cords in his ears. The woman, the god, the man, all found a reason to spread lips into a wretched, stretched smile, defying him and all he was. Quietly, she whispered unto him,” I won't be conquered with such ease, Brother.”

Almost as if it could be heard from within him, any remains of mind or self fell to the earth and shattered. Glass against stone, the trickling effects of lacerating glitter shook within him. Eye, bore through her, the focus of intention stolen from him. His lack of reaction, the signs of agony where the blade had bit him were not present, and it was seen too late.

The black shroud over his eyes took a cardinal hue. There was no question as to if she could see this change, because of all she had said and done, the mortal tether grounding Shaamah to the earth had been tested. For a man so near to death, so many times, there was a place in him that would not allow death to take him with simply a touch.

A blade rose high and buried into his armor a second time, searching for how deep she would have to bury her metal for him to show any sign that the blade had done more than inconvenience him. With her preoccupation, Shaamah's form twisted and a strong arm caught her at the throat with the force of an uppercut but the grip of a bear trap. The rapid motion of his shoulder forced her forearm up abruptly, her fingers slipping from the bloodied handle of the blade. The clack of ivory resounded, but not so easily spent, the woman maintained retaliation in the only forms she could. Her arms and legs worked to batter at anything of the man she could reach. Her twisting and writing was enough to loosen his grip, the mud that cake her neck squeezing through the crevasses of his clamping hand. A snarl resounded as she lifted legs together against him, bracing against his stomach. A double legged drop kick powered her body away from him, slapping against the wet earth as she landed.

Shaamah stumbled back one step, then two, his own arm pulled in the opposite direction of his body enough to have him regain balance, quickly. His enemy rose to her feet, breathless still from the force of the ground and the vice grip that had bruised her throat. Her vigor was just as strong as his, but her potential to bring him to his end was unevenly stacked. A man who did not balk from a knife in his own flesh, would not retreat from a blade, and his direct approach with little concern to where or if he was hit made a great deal more sense to her. Now, as he faced Helena's direction, this woman's back to the Quartermaster, his complete loss of self could be more clear than any glimpse of any other angle that she might have seen before. There was nothing in his eye, but the animal that he had become.

As rapidly as it had come, Helena's moment to steal what she could see of Shaamah's fractured visage was gone, and the beasts went at each other with the fervor of wild things as the Halcyon watched, still against the chaos unfolding.

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