[AW+] [m] the other side
#1

WARNING: This thread contains material exceeding the general board rating of PG-13. It may contain very strong language, drug usage, graphic violence, or graphic sexual content. Reader discretion is advised.

Specifically, this thread is marked mature because of: .

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There was a tinkling sound that awoke her, as if chains of metal were being clinked together or dragged against concrete. The Dreamer rose quietly, nostrils flared as she reached blindly in the dark for her bow. Instinct drove her forward, and it was as if she was watching herself react from outside of her body. Others were sleeping, their limbs twitching as they rolled in their sleeping furs or snored loudly against the din. Indis crept through them silently, her ears pricked wide as she pulled her quiver over her shoulder, a dagger thrust up against the leather.

A part of her wanted to kick someone awake, but she continued onward, her silence punctuated by the deep draws of breath she made. Her attention was honed on the sound that rang like a chime, summoning her as if she was hypnotized; a moth to the flame.

It was as if she was in a trance; flashes of Sanctuary blurring with her time spent with the Troupe. Hortensia had told her that woman did not resort to violence; that weapons were not allowed to grace their nurturing hands… The arrow she grasped was heavy with meaning, but she carried on, defiant, her hackles raised.

In the dark she shone silver and gold, her muss of hair rising in bright curls that threatened to give away her position. She travelled for long enough that the familiarity of their site disappeared behind her, and she was forced to track them by feel.

A voice cracked in the dark and she stiffened, baring her teeth as she listened.

”Do you see anything?” Their whispers were harsh, grating, ”They should be asleep now, we can sneak in when they leave. I thought I saw someone earlier with some big bags –“

They paused; she could hear them rifling through something.

”You hear that?”

The first arrow shot true, cracking through the wolfs chest with a dull thunk that saw him toppling over, his maw split open with surprise. ”Holy fu-“

She forgot everything about herself. In this moment Calliope was erased, the waif that Indis had been crushed into a million pieces as she made to protect the Troupe from harm.

Indis emerged from the shadows with a roar that threatened to deafen and drew the dagger smoothly, dropping to her knees to avoid the leap from the other wolf-dog as she slashed at his belly with the tip of her dagger. The man with the arrow in his chest was struggling to breath, frothy spittle stained red bubbling at his mouth as he reached for a nearby axe.

It all happened quickly and Indis ended them roughly – a snapping bone echoing in her ears as she crushed a spindly arm beneath her weight. She gathered the axe and swung it until the camp was empty and silent, both men collapsed into barely recognizable heaps.

With the trance over she faltered, dropping the darkened axe with a shuddering cry that threatened to turn into a sob.

She stood panting in its centre, the trance broken, her body covered in sprays of blood.

Indis fell to her knees uselessly, casting the weapons aside with a trembling hands and a sob that threatened the tenuous silence that hung over the battlefield. Death hid in the corners, whispering and creeping towards the bodies that lay broken before her.

She barely remembered any of it.

What would they think of her now?



whoops! What has Indis done!? For troupies pls!


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#2
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The drugs made it so he didn't dream as much anymore, and that was part of the point.

It still felt foolish, somehow, that he was plagued by phantoms and memories. A childhood of repression had left him with few skills to cope, and the guide he had chosen was not what he seemed. His whole life had been spent trying to make sense of the things he could not control. When it had seemed lost to him, he had sought refuge in other places.

The Troupe was the latest in this quest for self-worth, and with his sister returned and the worst of the winter behind them, Jethro had allowed himself to grow lax.

Tonight, he regretted every second of this.

They slept far enough from the doorway that he hadn't heard it at first. When Indis roared it was with a voice that shattered the night – and all the cats spooked in different directions, sending goods clattering down around them. Jethro felt this happen when Flea's claws cut into his chest when the tomcat bolted.

Half-awake he found his feet, but when he reached the night – that cold, cloudy night – he was conscious of what was happening. It was all over by the time they reached her, sobbing among all the gore, and the horror of what faced them now was realized.

Jesus Fucking Christ, he swore. It was too late to stop what she had done.

All he could smell was blood.

This was not the first time he had faced such violence or its aftermath, however. Mechanically, purposefully, Jethro hurried to remove the axe. It was covered in gore and splashed him with blood when he hoisted it away – away from her, this sudden, horrible unknown danger in their midst.


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The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open.
Character Wiki | La Estrella Roja | Player Wiki
#3
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174


She woke quickly this time, though clumsily, stepping on someone's gut as she stumbled out the doorway behind Jethro.

Sandy fur bristled across broad shoulders as she gave chase. Her wild mane had escaped its ponytail, messy around her face -- the better to hide eyes white-rimmed with fear. For all that she was a fighter and had protected the Court in the past, something about that primal scream left her feeling stricken. Still, she did not hesitate, not until the iron tang of blood and the stink of offal beneath that reached them.

She swore religiously, too, then acted upon instinct. The men were dead, or as good as, but Indis was sobbing and blood-spattered and smelled of aggression and terror, as dangerous as any wild animal. Galilee rushed for her, throwing muscular arms around her surprisingly strong frame and crushing her against her chest, holding on like her life depended on it even as she murmured low and fast in her ear:

Shh, shh, chérie, it's okay, relax...


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#4
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Word Count → ??? :: the one in which Malik Misunderstands



The cry was in his nightmare - not real, not tangible. In sleep, Mal's face contorted.


The foot in his guts was real. Gasping awake, clutching the ache in his midsection, the bard saw with bleary eyes as Lee's giant golden form emerged out into the moonlight. The sense of wrongness from his dream pervaded into the moist night air.


"Hey!" He started irritably, but the woman was already gone. The rest of the camp began to stir.


Shivering - though it was not cold - he rose, and followed the clear trail of debris the Haskel left in her wake.


He smelt it before he saw it. The mind has a way of preparing oneself for terror, but even instinct could not save him from the horror of the scene.


Jethro was holding a bloodied axe in his hand. He tossed it to the ground, where it made a wet sound upon instinct.


Two men - or two bodies that had once been men - were strewn in the little copse. Flicks of blood splashed black as ink across the nearby trunks of pine and ash. Everywhere came the overripe stench of rust and bodily fluid, cloying up his nose. Galilee was restraining a woman in her arms... No, cradling. It was Indis. The moon made her pale face look stricken and strange.


"Jethro, what have you done-" Malik gagged, hands pressed to his aching stomach. Talking let the taste of it all in, on his tongue. Abruptly he turned, back the way he'd come.


He made it three steps before throwing up.


Materializing out of the shadows on feet as silent as a ghost was O'Brien. The bard almost sagged with relief, but a new fear struck him. "Don't," He said, reaching for the thief, who was already trying to look past him, "O'Brien, don't look-"


But he was too late, of course. The man slipped through his fingers like air. His tongue acrid and vile, Malik turned and threw up again.

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#5
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One by one they were stirring awake, with the fastest and lightest sleepers rushing out first. Like the rest of them, Calrian sprung from his furs. Forgoing any attire, he ran out too.

The time between there and the scene felt halfway through a dream. The air did not feel cold but his hairs stood on end. There were no insects humming, no sound in the grass except the patter of paws and the give of mud. When it all came together, the campsite and the carnage, something in him just stopped.

He stopped.

Galilee had been quick to defuse Indis. Jethro, whose role in the violence was uncertain, threw down the wet instrument with a thud. The sound snapped him awake.

Ahead of him, Malik turned back around. He did not make it far before doubling over. Instinctively Calrian changed course towards his brother and hesitated when he, amid his retching, reached out for O'Brien. Don't look—

A shadow of something hard passed over his face.

He knew that nature could be cruel. In days that seemed so long ago now, he and his father would sometimes come across the prey of mountain lions still wheezing, or the half-rotted leg of a creature in a forgotten trap. Back then, Lokr would help Calrian to understand that the values his mother taught were not inherent to the world they lived in; for some, such as pack wolves, the Law was made and the rest fell in line. For others, like his older sister, ideas like Justice were to be enforced upon them all. His father was not here to help Calrian muddle through the complexities of a life that straddled barbarism and order, but he sorely wished that he was.

Calrian wanted to be more capable, more resilient, more than what he was now. Like a creature grown to the limits of its environment, he felt the sharp and sudden urgency of his confinement.

He continued past Malik.

"Lee, can you get her back to camp? She needs to see Adina," he said in a voice that sounded too level even for his own ears. He swiveled to his brother. "Wake Adina up, if she's not already. And tell the others to stay put. O'Brien, can you scout around here and make sure there's no one else?"

Moving on through, he tried to remember the ways his father had surveyed the gruesome leftovers of an indifferent wilderness. Calm, careful, deliberate.

He stopped beside Jethro. In the dark, his right hand trembled.

"What happened?"

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#6
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SELF-INDULGENT BULLSHIT GOOOOO
487


He wasn't asleep with the others when it happened, but returning from the forest, an opossum hanging limp over his shoulder and his dagger at his hip.

The schoolhouse was just within sight when Indis' raw voice, colored with fury, echoed over the moonlit moor. Figures burst forth from the front doors, sprinting into the dark where clouds chased across the cold sky, and O'Brien shadowed them. Weeds tickled his calves and scraggly twigs brushed his cloak as he went, cautious but swift, his heart bobbing in his throat until he caught up and saw Malik unharmed.

But then the bard was saying don't look, and oh how he wished he'd listened.

As his friend retched, O'Brien took in the scene until his vision swam and knees locked. He'd seen dead folk before -- a mugger with a lucky dagger hilted in his eye socket, and the girl with her limbs at all angles like a puppet cut loose from its strings -- but these men had been cut open until things glistened outside their bodies. Bile washed the back of his throat, but he swallowed it down and looked, just looked.

Things were happening, Indis was crying and Lee murmuring nervously, Calrian stepping up to give orders, but in all his friends' distress he only heard one little voice -- repeating the delusion that haunted his every waking moment.

You caused this. Somehow, you caused this.

Would it have happened if he'd been with the others, rather than hunting? Could he have noticed the strangers skirting around their home? Did --

Aye, his mouth said before his brain registered that Calrian had given him a task.

That brought him out of it. No longer transfixed, he felt the weight of it all, uncertainty about what was to come and horror at what could have happened, but practiced composure. He was sure his face didn't give it away but for frowning. His hands were shaking so badly he had to hide them beneath his cloak. He didn't look at the dead bodies anymore.

He did look at Malik, so close to the carnage, and that threatened to break him.

The thief crouched before him and offered the edge of his cloak for Malik to wipe the flecks of vomit from his chin, his gaze intent and his trembling hand in full view. He quelled the urge to ask if he was okay, partially because it was a stupid question and partially because he didn't trust himself to say anything. Before he stood to go, he grasped the back of Mal's head in his comradely way, then pressed his nose into the seafoam hair for a moment of comfort, and left.

It wasn't until he was out of sight behind the treeline that his face contorted with impotent anger. A pine bled bitter sap beneath the score of his dagger.


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<div class="txt">I imagine death so much it feels more like a memory</div><div class="txt txt2">I imagine death so much it feels more like a memory</div>
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#7
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Caught up in the wake of the violent current, Jethro felt as if everything happened too fast. The worst of the gore was hidden in the night but some things were clear – flashes of eyes and teeth, patches of shadow-in-shadow, and one crown of white that seemed like an errant, terrible phantom.

And when it spoke his name, the tone had been wrong.

Red anger flooded Jethro's senses. The effect was such that he nearly became consumed by his own fury. Deep within him was so much ire and hurt that such a baseless, wicked accusation drove needles deep into the old wounds all those other betrayals lingered.

Two things stopped this from happening – Calrian's voice, issuing orders, and the arrival of Marlowe.

This arrow ain't one of ours, was the first thing the coyote said, yanking it free from the corpse as he did so. He was stepping around the dead bodies (searching them) and slowly, casually, moving closer to Jethro.

Of course it's not, Jethro snapped. His explosive temper felt as if it might breach the surface, and was evident in the way his voice rose. I was asleep and when we got out here it was like this. You want to know what happened you ask her, he gestured, sharp and aggressively, in the direction the women had gone. Don't come out here and start acting like this shit is my fault—,

Marlowe made a hissing noise that cut his younger companion off.

You find them alive?

No! She had the fucking axe when we found her, goddammit!


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The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open.
Character Wiki | La Estrella Roja | Player Wiki
#8
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[000]


He tried not to think of the smell nor recognize the shapes in the grass. The moment he did, he knew it would be over.

These weren't people, he told himself. They were lambs ripped apart by a bear. There was a sound, and Calrian turned quickly to spot Marlowe moving through the butchery as if it was just that.

Jethro reacted with a tumult in his eyes and voice, and Calrian had to stop himself from stepping back. He ran a hand through his hair instead. Better to give it something to do than let it tremble uselessly at his side.

"You want to know what happened you ask her."

"Jeff—"

"Don't come out here and start acting like this shit is my fault—,"

It wasn't until Marlowe made a sound like a rattle that the Guard snapped shut.

Calrian was looking back, but not at him. It would have been one thing if Jeff had been a part of the massacre given his role as protector, but Indis? Just Indis? He stared at the two women as they left, transfixed. There were more questions now, some that prickled his nape.

They couldn't let this thing go like he had wanted. For everyone's safety, Indis needed to give them answers.

"No! She had the fucking axe when we found her, goddammit!"

"Stop, Jethro." He ordered, his teeth flashing. It was the closest he had ever come to growling. "They're not even out of earshot, for fuck's sake. Cool it, alright?" He exhaled through his nose. Calm. Careful. Deliberate.

"We have to do something about...all of this." This time, he looked at Marlowe.

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#9
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Some minor PP Amanda, let me know if you want changes.

328

She was already awake, electrified.


Facing away from the group but near to it, knees to her chest, she listened to the rise and fall of conversation. There were the murmurs, a constant presence, the whisper of not-too-distant pines, a tingling in her spine and limbs that filled her with dread and rendered her immobile.


It was the sort of impotent cold fear that everyone came to know at least once in their life… a waking nightmare.


The voices rose to a crescendo, cracking unpleasantly, and it was this that Adina rallied against. Rolling away from the wall, she pushed herself upright in the same gesture, with the same momentum, and stumbled forward. Familiar shapes were materializing out of the darkness, both of them golden. Recognizing both of them, she jerked her chin to Galilee in a wordless greeting before moving on to Indis… who was covered from head-to-toe, more or less, in blood.


Instinct took over, and her first reaction was not to recoil, but to check for wounds. Her hands hovered inches from the daydreamer, however, while her eyes—stretched wide with surprise—flickered between the green-eyed brawler and the woman drenched in the blood of her enemies.


The Bonesetter didn’t need to see the bodies or the axe to determine what must’ve happened. Oh, the details would escape her, but she didn’t need the specifics of yet another bloodbath. There were dead people somewhere, their lives cut ruinously short by a combination of their own sin and Indis’, and it didn’t matter who’s was greater.


I’m going to put my hands on you, okay? Adina informed her; without waiting for approval, she looked for injuries.


Unexpectedly, she found herself looking to Galilee, and something in her face grew tense.


Is my brother okay? It was obvious that she wanted to ask more questions, but so too was it obvious that she feared the answers.


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#10
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Word Count → ??? :: the one in which Malik is Useless (an Ongoing Theme)



Eyes watering, Mal looked up from his doubled-over hunch and saw Calrian's golden stare glittering in the darkness.


For a moment, he didn't look like goofy loveable Cal at all.


He looked like their father, like the earliest memories of Lokr that Mal could recall. The shadows of the trees gave him an uncanny sharpness. The pressed line of his lips was stern.


A peculiar mixture of relief and doubt gave the bard pause. He knew, in that moment, that everything would be alright; That Cal would take care of things. That the mess, the gore, the wickedness of such violence, would all be dealt with and tucked away someplace tidy where they didn't have to look at it again. And because he was so soft, so weak, Malik felt a great burden lifted from him at this knowledge.


But the doubt knew where the burden was going.


He wondered at what his brother was capable of - really, truly, capable of.


Breathing roughly around the sour taste in his mouth, Malik remained silent as Calrian walked past him wordlessly and entered the fray. He felt a dazzling burst of self-loathing bloom behind his eyelids.


Then Obi was there again. Shameless in light of his reaction - that would come soon, not so long from now - he took the offered hem and wiped his mouth clean. The thief and the bard shared a look. Obi's hand was trembling, but now was not the time to reach for it.


He shut his eyes tightly to the firm pressure of the pickpocket's touch, and allowed some resilience, some comfort, to seep in from the weight of it. Then O'Brien was gone.


Jethro was yelling now, his voice taking up all the silence that horror had left in its wake. Calrian issued terse orders, and for the most part the troupe obeyed, as though it had been their inclination to follow his lead all along. Too muddled by his own shock to make much sense of what was happening - what had happened - Mal stood alone, off to the side, his hands opening and closing in and out of loose-knuckled fists.


Nobody said anything to him. Nobody gave him any directions, spared him any glances. "I'll help," He said aloud, but nobody was listening - and besides, what could he help with? Useless soft-fingered hands, useless empty brain, useless useless useless...


Hollow-eyed, Malik turned on his foot and walked in the opposite direction.

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#11
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There was a very real, clear moment when Jethro thought to strike Calrian.

It almost happened.

He would have swung, but Marlowe was in front of them, and between them, like he knew something was going to happen. Jethro couldn't see his face, but he knew this was intentional. He knew that Marlowe had seen something in him that gave it away.

Had Calrian seen it? Did they look for these things in him? Was that why Malik was so quick to jump down his throat?

Jethro bristled in the darkness, looming behind Marlowe.

We'll take care of it. There's only so much that can get done, you understand that? You go back with them, yeah? He was pressing Calrian, taking little steps forward to put distance between them all. In the dark, his hands moved as he talked. Then, slipping effortlessly into Spanish, the coyote added: Do you think you wanna be out here when the person who did this is back there? You go tend to them, and we'll handle this. Don't get your hands dirtier than they have to be, right?

Whether it was his words, the sight of Malik slinking off alone, or the overwhelming stench of blood and gore, the Broker soon left the two coyotes behind. There were other voices sounding off closer to the old schoolhouse, but there was plenty of night between that space and here.

Marlowe turned back to Jethro.

You all right?

I'm fine, this was over when I got here.

I know that. You know what I mean, the older man said.

Yeah, I'm fine. We gotta move this shit outta here anyway.

She made a fucking mess of it, huh?

He was so casual about it, like the dead men didn't matter. Jethro found himself examining his own feelings – but all he kept coming back to was anger.

It was easier to stay angry.


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The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open.
Character Wiki | La Estrella Roja | Player Wiki
#12
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There lived a very real threat in Jethro that Calrian had made the decision to ignore. At the surface it seemed a sudden thing, but anger warned like a storm, first with thunder and then with lightning.

It wasn't that these things ever blind-sided him. Turning the other cheek sometimes meant getting hit, and that was a risk he was willing to take for all of them. Salem's words revisited him in the breadth of a moment before Marlowe intercepted.

Would you vouch for them?

In a heartbeat.

At the end of the night, whether Malik had been right or wrong about the Guard was irrelevant. The world did not begin and end with Jethro. The scope of what had happened was greater than his feelings, greater than any of their feelings, and the Broker acted on this vision alone. Another altercation that evening was something he knew that they, as a group, could not withstand.

It was why when Marlowe pressured, he backed off. There was nothing to be gained for the Troupe by Calrian protecting his ego. Sighing through his nose, the Broker held up a palm to halt Marlowe's encroaching movement. "Alright. Be careful, then." He said, making a point to look directly at Jethro before striding off.

Part of him was relieved to be leaving the mess behind. It was an unpleasant reminder that they were all, at their core, just a bunch of wild animals.

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