[AW] [M] banish your illusion
Saturnalia spin-off!

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: substance use.

[Image: UGeXBEw.png]As the night dragged on, everything seemed to grow incredibly loud and chaotic — something that made Marina more than a little nervous.

Somewhere in the revelry she had gotten separated from her mother, Odalis herself surely indulging in the pleasantries of the evening like every good Salsolan was expected to. Too young to understand the intoxicants that ran rampant that evening, Rini found herself sticking close to Marik's side, if only because she had done so since the initial announcements and felt awkward just going off on her own now.

Especially with the likes of Wrath lingering in the shadows. Just the thought of him made her skin crawl as she rubbed her shoulders, trying to keep herself warm beneath the pretty blue dress.

Marik, however, seemed to be going down a slippery slope. He wasn't quite a yearling yet but certainly thought himself well beyond his years; imbibing deeply in the readily-flowing alcohol, Rini watched his descent with a mix of concern and fascination, utterly baffled that he — and everyone else here — could get past the terrible taste off the wine.

There was a strange scent in the air, too, one herby and musky all at once. Salsola was a magical place: these were simply the tools of the trade, she thought, that connected them to the earth. On a night like tonight, such a notion seemed paramount.

It made sense that they seemed to have lost their minds. They must have been more in-tune with the ethereal than she could ever imagine.

That didn't make it any less comfortable, though.

"Oh, can you believe her?" Marik was speaking much too loudly to someone unfortunate enough to cross his path the very moment she bumped into the D'Angelo's shoulder, sloshing his drink down the side of his goblet.

"Must you stand right behind me, you foolish girl? You are not my shadow, you know."

Despite his words, the young man laughed to his new compatriot, waving a dismissive hand as her ears folded back with embarrassment.

"I-I'm sorry," Rini murmured, casting a nervous glance behind her in the off-chance she would see her Mama.

When were they going to leave?
cNPC: Marik D'Angelo
AW for one! :> come save Rini (or join in with Marik and make it worse lmao)
Forever is what this night felt like, her feet throbbed as she stood.

From the corners of her eye, a large male— not like everyone wasn’t taller than her— sloshed his way in line for a new drink. There was no eye tilted towards her as he greedily took the drink, her own nose curling upwards slightly from his scent. He stunk. Smelled of a fragrance she couldn’t quite place, and alcohol. The substance that her owner often indulged in, far too much.

A pair of pallid saxe eyes cast towards her, though not directly looking at her, but rather searching for someone, or something. Her own glacier orbs shifted around her, then back towards the female. And by the Gods above did her heart feel like it leapt into her throat, and suddenly, her tiny world didn’t feel so little anymore. Yet, she saw the interactions then, how she spilt his drink, and the same boy who she had served, had made the littler girl look like a leaf.

The last drink had been served, she then acted to go get these heathens more drinks. Because as she stood in her quiet little morbid seat, they were all nothing but heathens. The one with the big black arms and scarred face? The worst. Of course, he was second to Aani, and her volatile secrets. Her feet directed her a different direction though.

It was like her feet moved without much effort, those light eyes scanning for any signs of Aani, before she surged through crowd. Everyone was so drunk, hopefully no one would notice her disappearing for a few minutes, right? Right.

Turning towards the slightly larger girl, her eyes glistened with delight. She smelled like flowers and candy canes. And her coat looked so soft! And her ears— Lexy briefly reached up to touch her one ear. She was so unlike the stinky boy who stole the drinks without so much as a thank you.

H-hi-hi, a-are y-you okay?” Her voice was so tiny, the one ear that stood up on her cranium, became flat. Unconfident if she could even hear her with all the cacophony going on in the background, anyways.
[Image: UGeXBEw.png]She was beginning to think that Odalis had vanished into thin air. There was no sign of her Mama anywhere — had she already left? But surely she wouldn't leave her behind, right...? That didn't seem like Mama at all, especially after the fiasco with Wrath at the border.

As much as Marina wanted to be an adult, though, she knew that would be part of it. She couldn't hide behind her mother's skirt forever. No grown woman did such a thing; no, the women she knew were strong and beautiful, much like the red-eyed Queen that ruled over them all.

She wanted to be strong one day, too. Maybe not with a sword or with her claws, like the warriors of the Kingdom: but strong enough to stand up for herself when those like that horrible monster sought to torment her and make her feel small.

Speaking off, a voice, just barely audible, caused her ear to twitch, and the Bambino spun on her heel, momentarily forgetting about Marik's dwindling state.

"What?" she asked, unable to understand it above the ambiance of noise, the conversations, the laughter, the slosh of drinks.

"Oh, no, sorry, I um, I-I don't want anything," she answered, hoping that the other girl asked if she wanted a cup of that awful-tasting stuff; well, not exactly hoping, but she prayed she wasn't herself out to be an even bigger fool than the D'Angelo already made her feel like.

He peeled away from her, leaving Rini with the split-second decision to either follow him or stay.

The other female looked nice, unassuming. She had one floppy ear and a pair of light-colored eyes, much like her own, and she seemed about the same age, maybe a little older.

Taking in a deep breath, Marina decided to trust her fate.

"Um — Who are you?" she asked, a little forwardly, before stammering more to not sound so rude.

"I mean, I haven't seen you before, I just... A-Are you new?"

Rocking nervously on her feet, she tried to offer a smile.

"My name is Marina."
cNPC: Marik D'Angelo
The bambino turned to her, leaving her with an answer— “I don’t want anything.

Lexus’ hands folded into herself, and she almost started crying. Almost.No—I…” It was too late though, her soft spoken whisper was carried away in the wind as the doggish girl turned on her heel to leave, and then—with all the Gods looking after dear little Lexus— Marina turned back toward her. One floppy ear flickered a hair up on her skull, creating a pocket so she might hear her better. The other one, turned directly towards her like large radars.

Oh..erm…” she tried to force the volume to her vocal chords, and was met with an incredulous feeling of self doubt. It was still whispered. Brows furrowed, trying not to look up at her pretty features.

Lexus fluttered her lashes at her, the questions and stammering answers made the tiny coydog become somewhat uncomfortable. Yet, fixing her shoulders back and giving her a soft, genuine smile, Lex settled into the surroundings and their environment. “I-I was asking… if you were okay…” Louder, boastfully so, practically screaming at her she felt. But in reality it wasn’t higher than a typical volume for a normal speech. Yet, Lexus was anything but a typical run of your mill Salsolan. Those pale blue eyes swept her face, then noticed her dress. It would appear as if she weren’t a usual patron either.

Lexus— oh, uh, Whitlock. I’m—” what? A slave? Her voice stuttered and she became nervous. “Yes… yes new….It’s so… so nice to meet… you Marina.” It wasn’t a lie, but it wasn’t the full truth, though it was likely she would have known Lexus was a servant, practically everyone did already. Hopefully it wouldn’t make a difference and they could interact as normal Lupreci. Not one controlled by hierarchy and the other sent to suffer the consequences for an act she had no choice in. Shifting on her feet she stood a little closer this time, hands tucked closely under her arm pits.

There it was again— normal. What did that even mean?
[Image: UGeXBEw.png]"Oh! Oh," she laughed, the nervousness slowly dissipating they more they talked. "I'm sorry, it's just — it's a little loud in here. Everyone speaks so much louder when they, um..." She frowned a little, "Drink that nasty stuff, I guess?"

Still, in the midst of it all, it was nice to find someone that wasn't taking part in the more raunchy activities of the evening. Marina wondered if that was something she would ever do when she was older, but found the idea a little frightening, really. If Marik got this carried away, what would happen to her? Would she say mean things, too?

It did not seem something worth pursuing, and, luckily, it was not something she had to think about for a while yet. Surely her mother would give her a stern talking-to if she worked up some sort of habit so young, anyway.

"Yes, I'm okay, I just, ah... I was looking for my Mama," she explained, her tone brightening. Marik had been weighing her down and making her more uncomfortable than she truly realized, and now that he was off bothering someone else, it felt like a weight lifted from her shoulders.

It did nothing for the fact that Odalis was still lost to the crowd, but it was something.

"Oh, Lexus! That is a pretty name," she beamed, but confusion lingered.

"Do you live here by yourself? Or do you have family? Like for me, it's me and my Mama, and, well... I guess that's it, really."

But that had been enough. Sometimes, Rini did ask about her father, or if maybe she had another mother: but Odalis skillfully side-stepped the question every time, giving unsatisfying answers, if giving an answer at all, that left her curious.
Marina apologized, Lexus immediately perked up. Someone… was apologizing? To her? Even her tiny tail began to wag beneath the skirts.

T-the alcohol-alcohol.. yes… t-t-they like it.” The stuttered disappeared with ease, falling into a familiarity with this Marina woman now. How quickly they became fast friends, and the inspiration by Marina’s little speech made her step that much more closer to the hybrid. “Adults.. they’re weird…” It was elementary at best, when there wasn’t the lingering presence of Aani chiding her and demanding things.

At the explanation of looking for her Mama, Lexus’ head bobbed first to the left then to the right, searching for any signs. It finally struck her that she did not even know who her mother was. “Who’s your Mama?” Even the words panted guilt and confusion in her soul, she missed her mama. Sadness suddenly clouded her vision as she glanced downwards. Who was she to even have a self pity party? No one, that’s who. Invisible to the eye. Marina made that clear until the moment her chaperone diminished into the crowds.

The next questions made her slightly uncomfortable, her foot scraped along the sod and snow, dampening her feet for a mere moment. Those pale eyes didn’t rise to meet hers though, instead she just sheepishly shrugged.

I— well, Eden is my family… a-a-and her-her children.Please Don’t inquire about her family, please don’t mention Aani. Thankfully she looked too young to know of the chocolate vixen, or maybe that was wishful thinking. Either way, it was a silent wish, that she immediately tried to steer another way. “W-w-were you-you born he-here?Great the talk about family stirred up emotions and made her voice a stumbling stutter once more.
awkwarddd for the winnnn
[Image: UGeXBEw.png]"Right, the, uh, alcohol..."

She felt her ears prick forward at Lexus's words, and she let out a giggle.

"They are! And I mean, I want to be an adult, but, like... not a weird one? It's very strange," she went on, for longer than she needed to, but it was something that occupied a lot of her mind once she had shifted.

An entire new world seemed to open up to her, one she was not entirely prepared for, neither physically or mentally. Though Rini thought herself a true grown-up now, with her hands and her dresses and her pretty hair, there were still mysteries that eluded her. Like why anyone of them really liked drink the strong, sour brews that led them to such a state, both erratic and sleepy at the same time.

On the other hand, there was a lot that she still was looking forward to learn, mostly under the close guidance of Odalis, but some were outside of her scope. How to ride horses, how to play one of those lovely stringed instruments, how to court someone... Though admittedly, the latter was not so important to her. Maybe one day she would like to have a long-winded betrothal announced at one of the Last Suppers, but certainly not anytime soon.

"Oh, my Mama!" Her eyes glittered with love and pride; Marina would never give up the chance to swoon over the best woman in the world.

"Her name is Odalis Amaranthe — that's our family name, or I guess our House? Amaranthe, I mean — and she's great! She has red hair and blue eyes, but don't ask about the left one, it doesn't work anymore," she lowered her voice a little. "But don't worry: she can still see out of the other one! Also, she's really nice."

Well, most of the time.

"Oh, Miss Eden?" she practically squealed. "I like her a lot! Did you know that she gave me this dress?! Look!"

Marina gave a little twirl, always eager to show herself off, and her smile lit up in delight as the flared skirt unfurled about her ankles.

"Who are her children? I think..." She hummed, brows furrowing in thought. "I know them. Wait! Arius? He's kind of mean sometimes, but I think he just gets angry really fast. His eyes are pretty, though."

She was talking a mile a minute and was unaware if she left Lexus out in the dust.

"I was born here!"

She wasn't.

"I've been here all my life."

She hadn't.

But Marina did not know anything different than what her Mama told her.

"Where were you born? You were an Outsider before? It must be a lot better now that you're here!"
cNPC: Marik D'Angelo
these BABIES ; ;

That was all she heard with her hearty laugh, and Lexus snorted— actually snorted— in response to the little girl, although she was larger than she. A snicker suddenly followed suit, stifled out by the cacophony of the crowds. Or perhaps her own insecurities.

If we are lucky we can like, maybe not be-be weird.” The nervousness gone in vocal chords, revealing her light, airy voice. The clamor helped with the ease into what she considered normal.

The moment had lasted far longer in her mind and she shuffled closer yet, to the multi-colored girl. Their own cacaphony of screeching giggles and twitters didn’t die down, not until the mentioning of Odalis and her mother.

Although it made her sad, albeit briefly, she looked up at the Bambino and grinned. They were similar in ages, that much was true. Really nice? Odalis? These terms came flooding back and it floored her. “My mama-mama was really nice t-too-too.” But the second she allowed these past secrets through, she repent it, nearly folding in on herself. Teeth flared outwards as her lips raised in a grimace.

Looking downwards though, she hoped Marina had been too consumed in blubbering that she didn’t notice.

Offering a sidelong glance at her pretty eyes, the timid female felt a large grin escaping, once again. When was the last time she actually smile? Brightly, almost wholly. It wavered a hair as she butt in with; “Dee— oh, Deirdra… she-she’s Arius’ sister.And my niece.His eyes are pretty.” Just like Eden’s.

Oh, that’s cool!” No, really it wasn’t “cool”. She couldn’t imagine being born here… then again, if she were, maybe Aani would have left her alone in the first place.

Trouble may have come in many shapes and sizes, and Marina was too inquisitive for her own good, even Lexus could see that.

It’s not.” Shrugging, leaving the statement simple.

I was born in the wilds.” She was, to a single mother of a once renowned Fighter. “Our lives were peaceful.” Lexus couldn’t stop talking. She should though, she really, really should! “I-I.. well, anyways! Ohmygosh!” Exclaiming with her hands falling lightly around Marina’s shoulders. “Eden’s dress! Yes, I-I remember now!” More exclamations, had her memory really gotten that bad? No, she was lying.

My, you look divine in it.” Chortling, there was that little snort again, followed by a cacophony of screeching titters. Kissing her finger tips and then giving a strange accent—pushing the forethought of anything to do with Aani and Carya away— began again. “Jus’ exquisite dahling! Muah! Muah!” More giggles enveloped as she dared to approach a little bit closer. Shuffling in the snow, her coattails dragging.

The first real life girl who wasn’t from her family, and she was enjoying herself too! There were no lies— well except about her real life—, were no judgments, but surely she knew she was a slave? That was alright, being treated like a usual living breathing Lupreci was enough for her, right now.

Oh how peculiar life could be sometimes.
[Image: UGeXBEw.png]"Oh, that's good!" she raved, giving an approving nod. The past-tense usage — was really nice — all but escaped her, and she did not stop and think about it beyond a surface level.

It did not occur to Marina that Mamas could die, really. She would have been so, so lost without her own, and it was something she never thought would happen.

"Deirdra, yes! I... I remember her, or I think I do," she paused, giving herself a moment to reminisce. It was when she was younger, definitely still stuck to all-fours, but she remembered meeting another little girl and her mom somewhere when she and Odalis were out for a walk.

She didn't remember the other woman's name, but Odalis had seemed a little on-edge after the encounter.

When something quite unexpected passed from Lexus' mouth, Marina couldn't help but stare at her, mouth agape. "You — what?" she asked, a little dumb-founded.

How could Salsola not be better than the outside? That just sounded... wrong.

"O-Oh, well, I mean! My life is pretty peaceful here, I think! Maybe you just need to, um... find some... hobbies? Make some more friends?"

Was that mean? No, it was well-intended advice, wasn't it? Hadn't she been told the very same thing?

"I can be your friend!"

As if that was ever a question, after how easily they fell into conversation without Marik's overbearing presence weighing her down like an anchor.

At Lexus' display and funny voice, she giggled, feeling her face warm up with both pride and embarrassment in tandem. "Thank you, it's... it's my favorite! My other dresses, they, um, aren't so nice," Rini admitted, and she reached forward to pinch the girl's skirts in her hand, feeling the fabric.

"I like yours too! Do you like playing dress-up? I could ask my Mama if you can come over and we can play sometime! I like to pretend that I'm a princess. Like the Queen! But, you know, different because she's... so beautiful..."

She swooned.

"I wanna be just like her one day!"

It was a dream, a far-off one at that, but Marina hadn't yet understood the weight of the social caste to understand that she, in fact, did not yearn for the weight of that crown, not now, not ever.
cNPC: Marik D'Angelo (i guess he gone but lol)
It wasn’t good. No, no, it truly wasn’t.

Yet, Lexus just beamed at her. Evidently this teenager was too oblivious to the outside world, yet— Lexus was a youth too, swallowed up by the adulterated atmosphere she had been thrown into. Yanked from her pure life. Fed to the wolves. Choked on and then spit out.

She thought she did? Or she knew she did? Brows knitted together momentarily and she simply let the beaming grin only falter a moment. Still, It didn’t occur to Lexus that everyone else’s worlds weren’t immersed with trepidation and negligible women. Or maybe they were, and they were just too oblivious to understand these struggles, these truths, even as they hung before them. Dangled like a web, waiting to entangle and entrap them.

Nevertheless, Lexus remained polite and attentive as always. One ear flickered this way and that, paying attention far too long, that her pale gaze needed to be directed elsewhere. The swirls of her molted coat almost made her woozy. When she was with the hybrid femme she felt like she were floating, felt as if the worries and angsts of the world were behind her.

And there was more gushing and she offered to be her friend! Wait— “Really?” Gaping, suddenly snapping her eyes at the teen, almost incredulous. “You— you’ll be my friend?” Wow! That was her first ever friend, unless she counted Dee and Ari… no, they were more family than friends. A tail thumped happily underneath her garments, watching as Marina reached forth and felt the fabrics. It was an innocent action, causing an unhinged chain reaction.

Lexus tensed, her entire body growing board-stiff, eyes going slightly wide. She invited her for a tea party and for playing dress up, and Lex couldn’t focus on anything other than the way her fingers had gripped her fabric, had molded it within her fingertips. And the flashback of Aani started. Her breath began to become frantic, and she yanked her dress to her feet hastily. As if the woman’s touch had burned her skirts somehow, she feverishly patted them down.

Afraid she may catch glimpse of her scars. Afraid of Aani. Afraid of the secrets she kept. “Oh— s-sorry… I-I do—do n-not li-like that-that.” Profusely she apologized, her eyes brimming with tears. Beginning to understand how her words may be mistook for something else she balked. “Sorry, s-sorry!

Not-not the dress/dress up-up— I-I mean—don’t cry! Lexus cried, voice shaking worse than it ever shook before. “I-I want to-to be your-your fri-friend… I w-wou-would love to-to come-come ov-over. I— you can-can have al-all my dresses-dresses…” Gasping for the air she couldn’t breathe, it was too hot outside, in the freezing wind. She unbuttoned her dress too, revealing her larger scars, accidentally as she coughed, sputtered and apologized again. “I-I’m so-so sorry!

She should run away, run away and never look back. The first friend she had ever had, and she ruined it by having… what the hell was she even doing? They were having fun! They were having so much fun. And Lexus went and ruined it all!

Ple-please…” she whispered into her dress, as if begging would help her.
guess who couldn’t sleep….? Tl;dr Lexus has a mild panic attack from Marina being sweet and innocent and touching her skirt

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