[AW+] [M] Bring your salt, bring your cigarette
Non-Mandatory Pack Thread | Judgement of Aani |Pentiti Trial
#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: violence, mentions of assault.


The Trial of Aani, Pentiti; Traitor to the Crown
Takes place at the Great Falls, dusk, April 19th.

This is a non-mandatory pack thread! We encourage participation from all active players, but recognise that not everyone wants to participate in a mature-labelled thread. Please allow for Adel to post first; aside from this there will be no formal posting order. My next post with Elphaba will be in one week, so as to keep this thread moving smoothly and not leave Adel trapped in waiting-purgatory.

@Adel: Made some character assumptions (re: her having been imprisoned, then escorted to the Great Falls), let me know if they need changing!
@Gen: Same but for Krios, thank you for volunteering to escort!


------------------

So it was that after many moons of hunting they caught the foul criminal known as Aani Aston-D'Noires. She had given Salsola's finest quite a run for all that they were worth - at times, even the elements had seemed to act in allegiance with the Pentiti's cunning evasion. Floods had washed away her tracks, and the woman herself had erased all else to become little more than a rumor on the wind; just as she had made a fool of them with her trickery, no doubt in the lengthy time prior to her capture she had made a fool of many, many more.

But the snake is a patient creature. It waits, coiled and still, in the long grass. It tastes the air with its forked tongue; and only when it is certain, when the time is ripe with promise, does it strike.

There were many such snakes in Salsola proper. The Shield Tier was an efficient monster made of many hands and many eyes. Elphaba expected no less from the teeth of her elite. When word finally came that the Emissary had made her arrest it was recieved with fervent relish by herself and by the Director, who had remained behind to safeguard the crown. The long reach of the Thistle Kingdom's law had prevailed. Now, justice - if such a word could be truly meant, in this treacherous land - could finally be served.

The Crown's justice was not known to be merciful.

They held the woman in a miserable cramped cellar, bound and trussed like a slaugher-swine. In that dark hole in the ground, she was given no food, no water. No light. No air. Above-ground, the guards assigned to watch over her did so vigilantly. There was no telling how many allies Aani had amassed, that might now show themselves in an attempt to free her from persecution. Only the most loyal could be trusted in such a position, for the Pentiti had proven herself capable of great manipulation.

In another life, Elphaba might have admired her for it. Cunning was, after all, an admirable trait in their world. Aani Aston-D'Noires might have been an exceptional Salsolan for all her flaws, but that she had broken the cardinal law and turned on her kinsmen, and created chaos where once order had held the beasts within them at bay.

This chaos was a threat to them all, but no more so than the Boss. Her very rule depended on the ferocity with which they safeguarded their laws.

On the second day, two men came for Aani. One was a trusted crony of the Erilaz, a big burly man who showed great distaste at what they pulled from the earth. The second was a tall but sharper figure, brother of the queen; this was not to be Krios Revlis' first trial, and perhaps memories of the last haunted him still.

They rebound and gagged the Pentiti, and put a woven bag over her head. Then they headed north - it was a long walk, and perhaps they dragged her some of the way, or perhaps she came willingly, not knowing what was to come.

The Great Falls were flush with spring flow. Although flooding had bloated this waterway in weeks gone by, it had for the most part receded back into its banks with grace. The scars of the floods still remained - large trees had been snapped in two, and strewn high up the sides of the river, where they settled into the pebbled silt to form strange perches for crow and luperci alike.

At the top of the highest falls was a wide, flat plateau. Here the water was barely ankle-deep, and ran shimmering and bright across broad flat rocks. Given enough daring, one might wade out a little toward the hiss and spray of the plunging falls below, and give the illusion of standing almost atop the sparkling flow. This was where the three figures stood.

Elphaba wore her charcoal cloak with the hood up. The water dragged at its hem. It was late in the evening; her face, overhung by material, was cast in grim shadow. She looked for all the world like a vengeful spirit called up from the riverbed itself. At her right side, O'Riley towered ominously. Twilight light glinted on the cold edge of his bared sword. To her left Brocade waited in thoughtful silence, a spear in hand and his yellow eyes habitually scouring the trees.

Seeing the approaching figures through the dusk gloom, the queen of Salsola tilted her head toward her cousin. He gave her a brief, subtle nod, before loosing a powerful howl of summons that speared above the muffled sounds of the waterfall, and the woods beyond.

It did not take long for curious Salsolans to assemble. Some of them had been here once before, at the elicitation of a curse, and thus recognised the ill events in motion. But for many, the young and the new alike, it was a strange and solemn congregation.

Igor and Krios pulled their bound and covered captive the last few steps, out into the shallows. Behind them the Great Falls roared hungrily. Brocade levelled the sharp point of his spear toward the fallen woman in wordless warning.

Sensing the eyes of the rustling crowd, and feeling their anticipation prickle at her skin, Elphaba drew herself up to her full height. From the folds of her plain cloak came her hands - the light refracted off of a dazzling collection of rings, which gilded her fingers from knuckle to claw, such that they looked like the jewelled talons of a dragon. Slowly, she pulled back her hood. The breeze snatched at long dark tendrils of her hair, whipping them about the pale mask of her face.

"My Familia!"

She had learned the trick of amplifying her voice early on, and used it now to be heard over the rushing waters.

"Salsolans, loyal and true! Come now, look and see - gaze upon the face of the Pentiti, and know her as your enemy!"

The Boss flicked one of her sparkling fingers. At the gesture, Igor used one meaty hand to grab the sack that had been placed over Aani's head, and pulled it roughly free. For the first time, the pink-eyed woman would be able to see her surrounds - the woods, the falls, the audience who had come to watch her face judgement.

Elphaba's red eyes were narrowed to two ruby slits. When she spoke, her pearly teeth seemed overlarge in her jaw, and the skin above her nose wrinkled.

"Aani Aston-D'Noires," She spat the name, as though it had left a terrible taste in her mouth, "You stand accused of vile crimes against us. For too long, you tormented my people beneath guise and glamor. Now, at last, you will reap what you have sown."

The Boss' bejewelled fingers curled at her side into menacing hooks.

"Before I cast my final judgement, I cede space to those who this wretch has wounded personally. Those who have been wronged: Stand and speak now, if you have anything you want for her to hear in this lifetime! If none so wish, I will proceed."

#2
Stuffed away into a dungeon, awaiting the better judgment of the Queen. It wasn't without a fight, however, before she was taken up and forced into a gag. Behind this she snapped Silently at the assailants, her ears dropping upon her cranium, her eyes narrowed into slits. Yet, a bag covered her head next, the only faces she saw was before her world turned black, was that of an unknown man, and the Striker.

Curse them for their insolence. Curse Elphaba for believing anyone!

It became apparent they were near water as sounds of roaring falls caught her ears. The burlap sack was haunting, if not somewhat calming to her. And suddenly it was yanked off her head, in an effort to expose who the Petini truly was. Not like anyone in Salsola didn't know, and her teeth sharpened onto the gag.

This was her trial. One where all the demons would be laid to rest, for two minutes she blinked back the bright light of the morning sun, before refocusing her gaze, and glancing out among those gathered. Lexus, was the one who first caught her eye. And with that, she thrashed around, before being held still in place by a forceful hand.

Thoughts of throwing herself off the waterfall before anyone else could harm her, began to ring in her own ears.

How quaint, a place where she'd spent two happy years, tangled in the bedsheets of others', given the circumstances, one might think she should just bow down. They were all lying! I'm innocent, and yet, there was some flickering of understanding behind her pink orbs. So she straightened her back, and lifted her head, salmon orbs glancing down the point of her nose at everyone who did this to her.
#3
So they finally detained her.

Lexus should have been happier, should have been less nervous about the whole ordeal, and yet- here she was nervously pacing the floor. Lexus'hands worked one another, round and round, until the presence of the pups, Deirdra and... OH no, where had Arius gone? The sudden comfort was offset by the strange disappearance of Arius'normally comforting features. The children, being two months now, had begun to walk, their eyes and ears were opened and they all sported some sort of sickening resemblance to her pseudo sister.

Sucking in a deep breath, Silas appearing to watch the children, was taken with but a little shock. He had been the one to help Eden rescue the children, he had been the one who showed up whenever Eden needed him the most. Perhaps, this famili wasn't that bad after all. They had found her, protecting her once again. And Azalea, pallid azure orbs flickered with so much emotion.

How was she to relay the messages she wished to speak? Wait, would they be able to speak? Would Elphaba give them chances to do so? Would she, a serf, be given the chance? What would she say? HI my name is Lexus my sister is a piece of shit and deserves to die? Thanks.

Suddenly the waterfalls roars became more apparent to her ears, and the one flopped ear lifted ever so slightly upon her cranium. At the sight of what was before her, the Petini bound and gagged, Elphaba standing in the water like a dragon, and the muscle she hired to ensure she wasn't escaping, made her heart beat ten fold into her chest.

For a moment all she heard was the roaring in her ears, and taking a deep breath, was able to make out the voice of Elphaba.

Like a snake, she slithered through the crowd, perhaps on her own accord, perhaps just for the pure satisfaction of watching Aani die. Yet, behind her eyes was guilt. Guilt for what she exposed and her last line of "family" to be crushed and put to death like a rabid dog. Those pale eyes shifted to the narrow slits of Elphaba's merely for a moment before Elphaba spoke about those coming forth for the wench to hear...

It took her several seconds to realize the water lapped at her toes, as she stood staring into those salmon eyes of her sister. The confidence upon her features, the sudden stoic expression on her face, not betraying her heart.

"You have wronged...us, you... betrayed me and...your family! Lexus' tone was calmer than she expected, her eyes shifting from her sisters face, as she dared to step once more forwards, "You know...what you did." Aani's eyes narrowed, and for once, her anxieties didn't feel as though they ruled her life. "You beat me! Raped, burned, posioned... you hurt your children." Lexus'eyes pooled with tears but she stiffened her upper lip, and while her milky white teeth were shining in the sunlight, nose wrinkling.

"Aani... you should be ashamed... the pain. The deceit." It was whispered, Aani's ears merely flickered once at her words, that cocky smile was noted even with the gag in her mouth.. Steadying her suddenly too fast, beating heart, Lexus lifted her head higher, and shouted above the roar of the waterfall. "You lied, cheated, drugged, raped, and killed... you should be ashamed of yourself!"

Stepping one foot back, she acted as though she turned away. And with one hand, wide open, she suddenly spun around and slapped her across her cheek.

"You are no family...of mine." This was said, the slap heard as it connected with her cheek, and suddenly, Lexus was turning away, slowly, as she could to get away from the growing crowd. Shuffling to the back, her head held high, and even then, her lip didn't even waver.
WORD COUNT -
Lexus is there coming forth and stuff ;-;
#4

Form: Secui


Having gone back to his unofficial patrol of the Salsolan borders and generally lurking in the darker fringes of the ebb and flow of Salsola's 'culture', once more uneasy about society and no longer convinced of the benefits of modern life, Wrath decided to make an appearance at the trial of Aani.

He watched her bound and gagged brought before the crowd, and something about the shame and humiliation inflicted upon her excited him. Although he cared for Aani in many ways, he also enjoyed her face down in the dirt, confirmation to his ego of his physical might.

The young girl, Lexus, who was taken when Wrath killed Aani's mother, made her thoughts on the Pentini quite clear, but her raised voice was nothing but a murmur in the background of his most pervading thoughts.

Aani was doomed. 

Wrath eased into the crowd, moving on steady steps, a slight limp to one hind leg, not minding whomever he displaced on his way through the throng.

He had yet to meet his offspring. He had found them in the care of Aani's wife and the mute but was procrastinating the encounter. His intention was to take back what belonged to him, and as the leadership declared the children to belong to Eden, it would be a one-shot deal.

He moved to the front of the crowd without consideration for those smaller creatures behind his massive frame. He carefully lowered his still wounded rear end to the ground and sat, staring at the pink eyes of his most kindred spirit.

-----

WC:200+


Hell is empty, and all the devils are here ...
#5
His mother always had many says, but one of them stood out at the moment. Speak, or forever know peace. Accept what one cannot change, what one is unwilling to change... Or in this instance; know peace if you do not have the courage to speak up and tell others what you feel. Reyes stood at the back of the crowd gathered, his face void of a smirk. He looked upon the scene neutrally. How fun he thought I join and they capture a traitor. Two for one. Surely this woman would be replaced by loyalists in the coming months. Salsola was strong. Salsola was united. 

But not more united than the trial of a Pentiti. The girl, Lexus, slapped the face of this Aani. Reyes reeled with amusement, finding the display to be courageous and enlightening. He bit back a harsh laugh, allowing the crowd to murmur their acceptance instead. Standing with his hands in his pockets, he let the good times roll. Whoever else the Pentiti had wronged would surely come forward. More words, more knowledge, spread among the ranks. Reyes did not know what the woman did until Lexus began to speak. Raped. How unsightly... How unforgivable, to assault a woman. Beaten children. Hurt children. He clutched the fabric of his pockets. He didn't care for children, but he knew how valuable they were.

The future of the kingdom, wronged on several accounts. How would they behave grown? Trauma colored all wrong.
#6
(879) | NPCs: | Optime |

When she’d heard the news she almost hadn’t believed it at first. It had been so long that Azalea had assumed Aani was gone for good. Never to be seen again. Perhaps she’d hoped for this outcome. A chill had run down her back when she’d realized that Aani had been close enough to Salsola for Kamari to catch her, maybe even this entire time. Close enough to Azalea, close enough to Eden, close enough to Lexus. Close enough to Azalea’s puppies.

She sat down and stared, attempting to process this news. Realizing that Aani was in the pack’s lands again, albeit as a prisoner. Her heart pumped loud enough that she could hear it in her ears and feel it in the tips of her fingers. Azalea would have to speak of her experience with Aani. She’d have to tell anyone who attended the Pentini’s trial (which would most certainly be everyone) what Aani had done to her. Suddenly, Azalea wished that Aani had just gotten on a damn boat and left. Anger coursed through her as she realized the woman was too stupid for that. Too stupid to come up with a solid escape. If it were Azalea, the very first thing she would have done was get on a boat, any boat, and leave. She had overestimated Aani, she always did overestimate her. Really, all Aani had was her manipulation and her brutality.

At the end of the day, Azalea was free now. Aani was captured and Azalea was free from her. She did not know what repercussions would come for her from speaking up in this trial but so long as Aani was killed she did not care. After all, she had already lost much. How much more could she lose?

She spoke of her concerns to Casimir, who already knew the story, and leaned heavily on him on the day of the trial as they arrived at the Great Falls. Azalea grabbed his hand and held it in her own, seeking the comfort of a friend, when she laid eyes on Aani for the first time in four months. If he looked at her she did not notice, all of her attention focused on Aani. The sack over her head hid her gaze from sight but there was no mistaking the woman. It relieved Azalea to see her bound and to see the men who guarded her. Or, rather, guarded the crowd from her.

Turning her attention to Elphaba as she spoke, Azalea held on to every word, waiting for the time to come when it was her turn to speak. With a gesture, the sack was pulled from Aani’s head and Azalea flinched slightly, turning her gaze aside, not wishing to make eye contact with Aani yet. Not yet. She wasn’t ready.

Finally, when Elphaba turned her attention to the crowd, Azalea felt a wave of relief wash through her. She would not be forced to speak. Elphaba would not ask that of her. Only if she wished to. Only if she wished to. She squeezed Casimir’s hand, unsure. For so long, Azalea had wondered about what she would say if she were given the chance to speak with Aani face-to-face once more. She’d come up with hateful speeches, hoping to get her point across to the woman who had done her so much harm.

Now she had that chance, but her words were gone.

Lexus stepped up and Azalea went still, her breathing unnaturally shallow. With every accusation, Azalea winced, feeling almost as though the ground had been yanked out from underneath her feet. She waited for the moment when Lexus would say her name and expose her, squeezing Casimir’s hand tighter, but that moment never came. It was only when Lexus stepped away once more that Azalea let out a breath that she didn’t realize she’d been holding.

A deathly silence filled the area. Here was her chance. Her gaze landed upon Aani’s and she stepped forward, releasing Casimir’s hand. Anxiety pressed her as, before the entire pack, Azalea stepped closer to Aani. Still her breathing was shallow, and she couldn’t muster up the courage to get anywhere within arm’s reach of the woman. Once she got within a comfortable speaking distance of her, however, Azalea found the anger she’d been searching for. It boiled within her chest and it took everything she had to stay composed.

”Aani. You found me when I was still a puppy and changed the course of my entire life. You exposed me to drugs and violence and death when I was too young to know how to stand up for myself or get away from you. And the moment you noticed me drifting away from your grip you held a knife to my throat and threatened my life.” She took a shuddering breath, glaring down at the woman. ”Well, I hope that you find that time worth it, now that you face the might of Salsola against you. I, personally, will relish this day.”

Turning away from her, Azalea found Casimir in the crowd and walked back to him, hiding her trembling hands.
[Image: i4sQXcG.png]

#7
[Image: springforth.png]  Spring Forth, Words! - Passing Score
schadenfreude; satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else's misfortune

The day it was announced, they had discussed whether Azalea would attend the trial. They came to no immediate conclusions, and allowed for the breadth of the day to realize an answer for them.

Casimir spent his hours with the children in order to allow Azalea the space to mull over the heavy burdens of her heart. It was just as well, for he was himself torn about what he thought was best for her and worried about giving the wrong advice. Would seeing Aani this way bring her peace of mind? Would it tear the wounds back open? Would Azalea realize that the path to closure was less a path and more a field, and in a few months time she might still wake up and feel the aimless rage and mess of her injustice?

Only Azalea could decide what she needed to heal, and this was an opportunity uncommon to most who had been victimized in their life. She could speak freely from her heart to the person who had hurt her and receive no harm in return; of course, it would never be so easy or as simple as that, even with such well defined parameters.

Uncertain of what decision she would ultimately make, he knew it by the hour Azalea reappeared in the doorway. Together they left for the Falls, having left their young ones in the care of Silas, who Casimir trusted.

Generally breathtaking in the twilight, the Great Falls wore an ominous mask in that hour of dusk; a low fog had formed at the base of the water, and looming behind the Mafiosi was the last of their guards, the mighty Halcyon caught by the last of the western light, baring now its sharp, yellow teeth beyond the dark sprawl of trees.

The sight of the Pentiti high upon the platform was enough to absorb Azalea entirely.

Casimir kept close. Allowing her to take root in his hand, he returned the pressure with two short squeezes of reassurance. He was here, this squeeze would say. She wasn't alone.

The trial commenced, and so too came the time for the victims to find their voice. First was Lexus, who far outmatched Casimir for her shyness and timidity, but here now was brave and spoke a cutting truth. Though Aani seemed untouched by her words, Casimir felt a deep sense of shame in himself when she was finished. This had happened in their own homes, without anyone's knowledge but the ones who were hurt. If he had been a more courageous person—more willing to step outside of himself in these social ways, he might've noticed the strange conditions of Lexus' appearance, might've seen the signs for what they were. He once thought their community impenetrable, but now he knew this as false; they, as a whole, had failed Lexus.

At this final hour, he still wasn't sure if his wife would accept the chance to speak. The silence felt like a void, and then she rose to fill it. Casimir watched Azalea go.

He listened.

It would be cheap to take her final words as mere schadenfreude, when he knew that in truth, this was to be the beginning of a new era of healing. There was little relish about what Aani was, but there was much to relish about what Aani would no longer, or ever be, again.

As Azalea returned, Casimir received her carefully, encircling a protective arm around her shoulder. Though in all senses a woman, his wife was indisputably young, and had been younger still when the most serious of violations had been perpetrated against her. He cast the Pentiti a look that delivered as much condemnation as his gentle heart could muster; Aani carried herself without remorse, and perhaps this was because she knew no amount of repentance would save her now.

He brought his attention to the one who needed it. "Hey, it's done," he murmured to the girl in his arm, "No matter what happens, you've said what was in your heart. It's done."
(—) | NPCs:
:(
#8
(+670)
Optime | Salsola (Great Falls) | cNPC: Mirko; NPCs: Cedar & Sandstone
It’d been dark when the hunting party had covertly returned with their elusive quarry. They’d slipped quietly into the Kingdom and had stowed the bound Pentiti away while the pack still slumbered blissfully onward. In the days that fell after, a careful guard had been kept until everything had been in order for a public trial. When the inevitable day arrived, Kamari and her apprentice, Mirko, had canvased the path from the prisoner’s cell to the trial site and beyond it to ensure there would be no surprises. Aani had escaped once, after all, and it would reflect poorly on the Shield and Mafiosi both if she managed such a feat a second time.

O’Riley’s howl both summoned the pack and indicated that the prisoner had been safely moved. As Kamari and Mirko arrived atop her horses, she couldn’t help but to remember the last time she’d been to the Falls for a public gathering. It’d been years ago, but, even still, the memories lingered in the back of her mind. From within the shadows of her cloak’s hood, her cornflower blue gaze fell to the Mafiosi and Director before shifting to where her husband and Igor stood beside the traitor.

There’d been many questions she had had for Aani, and, in the days prior, Kamari had entertained the consideration of actually asking them to the Pentiti. However, in the end, she felt it might have been a fruitless endeavor. No doubt, the time for such an opportunity had come and gone the moment she’d help bring Aani back over the borders.

As more gathered and filled in around them, she tore her gaze away from the Pentiti. Dismounting from her steed, Kamari motioned for Mirko to remain astride Sandstone. If something happened and Aani—or an accomplice of hers—tried to escape, it’d be quicker to run them down atop the horse. Kamari, meanwhile, had her duties as part of the Shield to uphold. She left her bow in its quiver attached to Cedar’s saddle, and, with it, her hip quiver. Amongst the crowd, the bow would serve little purpose, and had only really been brought along for precautionary measures.

The Emissary found a spot near the back of the gathering that allowed her to stand within the shadows provided by the trees. Within them, she was a difficult figure to spot, however, Kamari herself could, more or less, keep watch over the trial’s proceedings. Though her hooded cloak hid her figure well, any that knew her well would have known that she had her knives hidden on her person.

Salsolans arrived bit by bit until the Boss had finally deemed it time to address the Kingdom as Aani was brought before them all. The Pentiti looked as defiant and angry as she’d been in the days prior as she glared out at the gathered Salsolans. She was silent, likely judging them just as the Kingdom was judging her in that moment.

The space was opened for Aani’s victims to have their final word with their abuser, and, one by one, they bravely departed from the masses and stood opposite of the woman who had harmed them in some way. First Lexus, then Azalea. It was commendable, what they did in the face of everything Aani had put the girls through. Both maintained their dignity despite their feelings, not allowing Aani to rip anything else from them even in her final moments.

As the girls returned to the crowd, Kamari watched on, her gaze shifting as Salsolans moved and murmured softly amongst each other. There were others, she knew, that had been harmed by Aani, though, she was also worried of who else might step forth. After all, there was no telling how deep the Pentiti’s traitorous and abysmal acts had gone before the girls had confirmed Aani’s terrible betrayal against the Family on that fateful night of the Saturnalia Feast.

Kamari Kaiser
— The Shadow —
[Image: k4f73A1.png]
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#9
(+725)
Optime | Salsola (Great Falls) | cNPC: Grisha; NPCs: Xanthos & Foma (both brief)
Argive had been in the midst of cataloging new items into the Clinic’s herbal stores when a curious howl from the Erilaz had echoed out across the Kingdom. He glanced up from his work and looked towards the open window. The hour was certainly late for a pack summons, however the reasoning quickly became clear when he deciphered the howl’s full message.

Aani had been…caught? And was to be judged for the crimes that had led to her being branded a Pentiti?

He quickly marked his place in the journal log and clapped the book shut. The Arbiter, like most of the Kingdom, had been largely left in the dark about the woman’s crimes. The bounty left on the Notice Board had explained rather little, though, had left for a wide range of assumptions. There’d been rumors and gossip since the notice had gone up, and some were more outrageous than others. Once he arrived at the trial, Argive supposed he’d be able to see if there’d been any truth to any of the whispers.

Riding astride his horse, Xanthos, he covered the great distance from the Clinic to the Great Falls in a shorter time than had he not. Along the way, he’d been met by his ex-Ward, Grisha, who was curious as to if Argive had known what was going on. Newer to the pack, he’d never attended a pack meeting, and it was rather unfortunate that his first would be that of an execution. Argive had explained what he could to the Family member, and—though he was no longer Argive’s Ward—warned him to be on his best behavior, no matter what was revealed.

The pair arrived amongst a handful of others, and they quickly left their steeds behind to join the rest of the pack near the water’s edge. The roar of the falls filled Argive’s ears, and a dark figure flagged by two large males stood in the shallow waters. Though cloaked and hooded, it went without question who the ominous individual was beside the Erilaz and Director. Further inspection of who had arrived and the placement of individuals allowed Argive’s eyes to fall upon Mirko, and, eventually, a shadow amongst shadows.

When the Boss spoke, and the Pentiti was finally brought forward flagged by Krios and Igor, Argive knew that, whatever Aani’s crimes had been, they had certainly been something serious. Her secrets and wrongdoings were laid bare before the entire Kingdom to hear, both from the Thistle Queen who proctored her judgement and those that she had victimized.

Argive’s lips formed a thin line as he heard what Lexus had to say. The story, the accusations, they were not unlike his own childhood that he’d kept carefully hidden from all but the Emissary. To think, that someone had been able to carry out such acts within a place like Salsola though. It had been no wonder that the Mafiosi had deemed her a Pentiti when she’d fled the Thistle Kingdom in deep winter.

The slap from the young woman’s hand was loud, and unmistakable in the underlying emotions and rage that Lexus might have felt in that moment. It’d been a true mark of her being a Salsolan to control her actions into a single, open-handed slap. It was enough to make her point and show disrespect to Aani while not embarrassing herself before the entire pack in a childish tantrum.

Following her though, was Azalea, much to Argive’s surprise. A Servitori member, he could have easily explained such abusive acts. But…Azalea…he would have never suspected her. The mention of drugs explained it though, and it was something that made Argive’s thoughts come to a jolting halt as he realized something. The memory was enough to cause his brows to furrow and his frown to deepen as his sharp eyes shifted from the yearling to the bound Pentiti.

His attention shifted when he felt Grisha’s eyes on him. Glancing at the man beside him, Argive gave him a small shake of his head to his questioning stare. Their eyes collectively returned to the trial at hand to see if any other unfortunate soul would come forth with some other terrible truth.

Argive Hemlock
— The Poisoner —
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#10
Like Wildfire - It starts in my chest - The silence grows louder - Ringing out in my head

OOC: Mild PP of Brocade approved by Amanda

Where was Arius? Physcially, the boy was drifting like the fallen logs whisked away in the now gone flood, spending small amounts of time with family but otherwise just on his own. Mentally however... the moment he heard the news, the boy felt dead. Or at least dying, as if he was about to spend his last day of existence along with his traitor mother, the one who had made Arius who he was. The one Arius didn't know how to live without, let alone come to terms with the fact that now he'd be forced to do so. 

Swallowing felt impossible, in fact many times had Arius panicked and thought he was choking when his dry throat refused to change or move, so the boy was completely silent all day. He'd left the others, his family, not wanting them to see him shatter apart into more pieces than were already making up the broken boy. But part of Arius wished he could go and find them amongst the crowd, cling to them to try and desperately remind himself that he still had those who loved him, only the boy knew he'd find no comfort. She had been his only comfort, the thing keeping Arius alive and doing things, but now she was going to die. And the last thing Aani did was call her son worthless. It was all Arius would remember of his mother's teachings. 

That would've been it, really... Arius couldn't find his voice to say anything with his throat so dry and his chest heaving with terrified little gasps. 

But then her eyes found his; those orbs of salmon pink and vicious hatred. A disgusting swirl of affection and judgement that had once been the only thing that let Arius breathe. They looked now with contempt, words spoken through a glare that had Arius jolt as if stabbed through his heart. 

This was his fault.

Arius's chest shuddered, a sudden loud and rasping breath forcing its way into his lungs as the boy stood to his full height, panicked eyes looking directly at his mother and then to the doom that awaited her. He needed to save her. 

The boy was moving, across the damp earth and then pushing through water, wading in the shallows and looking only to his mother. The intention was clear, at least to Arius, that he was aiming to try and protect her like he'd done not long ago. If a warning had been barked, Arius did not hear it, so the boy found himself surprised and jolted out of his haze of desperation when someone pushed him down and away from Aani and her guards. The Director's voice was barely heard, perhaps another warning, Arius didn't know. But his fight was over the moment his knees crashed in the shallow water, and a deep and painful wail left the boy's haggard throat, one arm rasied forwards as if it could make the distance and reach his mother. 

"N-no NO!" He cried, teeth bared and lavender eyes shimmering with flowing tears. "Don't do it... don't hurt her! I... I  n-need her!" She let him breathe, she let him exist, there would be no Arius without the control of his mother. "M-mother no pl...please, I need you... I'm just... worthless son. Useless an'... nothin'... I'm sorry, I'll be g-good... try harder... please." What had been a shout in anguish turned into mumbles of a pleading child, a broken child, whose spoken words perhaps revealed the actual truth behind him. Arius's confession, which the boy himself couldn't even comprehend, yet wove together the tragic tale of how a mother's manipulation had all but ruined her son's mind.  



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I'm just a kid who grew up scared enough
To hold the door shut
And bury my innocence
#11
Salsola was to be her new family—for better, for worse. Most days this prospect fell into the former categorization, but at this hour of judgment, Rosemary was witness to the pack's other nature.

Among the last to heed the summons, she had come four-legged and panting to the back of the congregation. She lapped up some of the water, and then shrank further out from those gathered to shift to her upright form. From there, she found a rock hidden by the trees, and climbed onto it to watch the proceedings from afar.

The matter had seemed to be more of a private affair to her, and when she'd gone by Casimir's home to ask if she should attend, he told her it was a custom which rarely occurred. They had less than a handful of Pentiti since the pack's inception. He thought it might be useful for her to experience their culture, but ultimately, he left it up to her discretion. Rosemary, wanting to prove her dedication, made the choice to come.

She did not know that what she would witness would be this.

A cold wind blew off the Halcyon, its icy fingers reaching for the warmth of her untrapped fur. It handed her the feeling of a distant connection, unseen and unknown, but realized here in this high up place where the water poured its eternal memory unto itself. Rosemary was urged suddenly by the sense to run, though she didn't know why, she didn't know where; tethered by the indecision and inscrutableness of this compulsion, she remained.

Judgment was not passed with such ornamentation in Portland. People often made fools of themselves there, and it was more usual than not to find a person openly wallowing on the streets, afflicted by their vices. She watched with hooded expression as the victims, one by one, had their turn with the restrained Pentiti. She felt jarred most by the dramatic plea by the son, whose cries were hard to stomach.

You don't need her, she silently willed to the wailing adolescent, who was now restrained by a larger man. Any mother who abandons their own isn't worth the salt.

Rosemary huffed a misty breath to clear her mind.

She felt the absence of her brothers keenly; there was no one to watch her back, no one to lean on when the going got tough. Rosemary shored her back up against the tree, crossing her arms protectively over her chest, and watched the rest of the trial unfold.
(—) | NPCs:
#12
Eden felt numb.

She heard the news of Aani's capture, it was hard not to when word spread through the kingdom. She had been on the run for months, and truth be told, it was in part of her that they were able to find her at all. From the time she was born, she believed herself to not be the standard kind of person Salsola housed, nor fully respected. Rather than being deceitful, she was kind. Rather than ruthless, she was gentle. Rather than kill, she was a healer. She fell into perfect place with where she ended up in life... but if there's one thing she had come to understand in recent time, even someone as kind of her could crack.

She chosen her words carefully when she brought her children home. She had another Salsolan hide so the news could be delivered despite her promise of silence. She felt like she had unlocked an emotion she hadn't used since her youth. She was, in a way, the same as she was before, but also not.

The Cleric gathered her family when the time came to depart. The silent man had arrived just a bit earlier, her having asked him to remain at the tower to watch over her youngest children. None of them needed to be exposed to the mother she had taken them away from, nor the fate that was sure to fall upon her. When it came to her older children, she opened it to them whether they wished to go or not. There was a great deal of hurt between the four of them, and if they had the courage to do so, it was the chance to stand up to the one that had been at the head of that blame.

Decisions made, and the four left for the Falls.

Eden stood among the gathered members of Salsola, the brown fur of Aani shining brighter than anything else, even more so when the bag was removed from her head. The only time her eyes fell away from the chocolate woman was to take a moment to scan the crowd, take a look at the expressions held on their faces. The victims of her crimes had been the easiest to see... but it was the others, learning of just how much she had done under the surface.

But at the end, her focus came back to the Pentiti.

Lexus, the once fearful woman that would stand next to Eden, eyes trailing over to the dark woman to see if anything she was doing was unfavorable found her courage. She finally had the chance to speak her mind, and dared to strike her in the way Aani would once had done to her. A warmth filled her at this. For so long the woman lived a life of fear. No longer. She had her freedom, and Eden would help her to achieve this. As Lexus returned to the crowd, her gaze broke from Aani, placing a gentle hand on her shoulder.

She was proud.

Azalea was next, and she was... surprised to say the least. Given how much she had done to hurt the Eternity woman, she would have expected... more than what was said. Her mother wasn't too far away, but even she hadn't said much. Actually, that seemed more predictable than her daughter's lack of expression. She was soon back in the arms of Casimir, comfort offered to her. Best not to let her own gaze linger for too long.

Her children had yet to say anything. They were... a wild care when it came to this trial. She knew Aani had hurt both of them, far more than she could have ever expected. The Cleric had been the one left to pick up the pieces after the act had been shattered. Deirdra shouted her anger, released everything that seemed to have been built up for... who knows how long. And her son... Oh her son. She tried to chase away the remains of Aani's voice from him. She thought she had made some progress... but watching her son, beg them not to hurt her... to put the blame on himself and believe every false word Aani had said about him. He wasn't worthless. He wasn't useless. He didn't need to try harder. Her son was perfect the way he was.

And following today, she'd be sure to tell him everyday until he believed it too.

When the voices finally died down, Eden left the safety of her family, making her way through the crowd. She adorned herself in one of the dresses Lyra gave her, feeling some form of safety from the tan woman, even though she was not here in person. Her voice had rung out in her head as she stepped forward. Don't shed another tear over her.

She won't.

Eden stood before the Pentiti steeling herself before she spoke, "I want you to look at me when I talk to you. You owe me that much." She didn't care if it had to be by force, she wouldn't continue until she had the gaze of the woman that had done this to all of them.

Eyes hardened, her fur standing slightly, "When I first found you, you were a terrified individual. You managed to escape a life of hell, and I offered you a place that could have given you so much more. I gave you a kindness that this family rarely gives to Outsiders. I opened you to an opportunity for a prosperous life, a place you could have had an amazing life."

Her hands closed into fists, "But that wasn't enough for you."

Her tail swayed under her dress, the anger building up inside of her again, "I never loved you. Even as much as I tried to convince myself when we got married, I am much more sure now. I never actually loved you. At that young of an age, I never wanted pups, or a family. The thought of love never crossed my mind. But that wasn't good enough for you. You wanted me, and so you did so by whatever means you wanted. Put me in a position where I would trail after you because my mind was too muddled to understand what was really going on. You wrapped me in a soulless union, one I followed through with because my duty and love for this family is greater than anything else."

"And like I told you when I found you a month ago, I gave you everything you could have ever wanted. I gave you my entire world. And what did you do with it? You took away all my happiness. Even when our children were finally born, you kept them away from me. I was so convinced it was my fault for not being there for them... but that wasn't it, was it?"

Her head turned over her shoulder, looking at her son and daughter, "But I still love them. They are my children, and despite what you have done to them, they have grown up into fine adults. They're hurt, but they will heal. Well... they will..." She turned back to Aani, "But what about my other daughter? Catalina? I found her you know, and do you know the result of that? Just when I thought I had found a small spark of my happiness again, you shattered it. She didn't know who I was. I was a stranger to her. She might as well have still been dead!" Then her heart might not have hurt as much as it did that day.

Her voice raised, "But crushing me and my family wasn't good enough for you. You have to rope in Azalea. She trusted us to watch over her, to care for her when she moved out, and look what you've done to her! And let's not forget your own sister. I still remember to looks of fear that crossed over her face whenever you were around. How terrified she was to even be just around me. It broke my heart. You didn't deserve the kindness she has to offer to those around her. I'm ashamed I didn't do more for her, when I could see what you were doing."

She took a deep breath, "But I still kept trying and trying to make it work. And when it all finally got to be too much, you left me. You abandoned me and my children. I thought I would never get to see them, more you had taken away from me. But I found you. I found them, and I brought them back where they belong. And here you are now..."

Eden took a moment to calm herself. The anger flowed out of her as she spoke, but now started to fade. There was not a single person in the world she could say she hated. She got along with just about everyone in the kingdom, and Outsiders, for the most part, didn't cause her any trouble. She wasn't sure she could even say she hated their enemies in the war that left her with heartache when Casimir had been hurt. But the woman before her... a fire lit inside her like nothing else, "I hate you Aani. I hate what you have done to my family, and to this family. One with an Outsider heart like your's doesn't ever deserve to be part of this family. In my opinion, a quick death is too much of a mercy for you. You deserve worse, but it's not my decision to make."

She promptly turned on her feet, fading back into the crowd to surround herself with her family. She said her peace, and all that was left now was to let the Boss decide what her fate would be.
(+1700) | NPCs: Idrieus, Dierdra
---
Eden de le Ulrich
[Image: yfguJcT.png]


Avatar art by San · Sig art by Despi
#13
[Image: springforth-02.png] Spring Forth, Words! - Passing Score arrowwood
After the floods, Tattersall returned to his day-to-day. His house was quiet with Morrow gone. The Henchman took this time to busy himself with whatever projects he could decide upon: getting help with repairs he could not manage, training, working with his horse. It was still damp and cool out most days, and he could only practice so much. For most of his downtime, he did very little.

Occasionally, he went to help his parents with his younger siblings. The girls and Tweed seemed  eager to play with him, and much to the chagrin of his mother Tate found a reason to revive his youthful pranks and spent a good portion of his time scaring the triplets. They bounced back easily enough, all giggles and enthusiasm.

They never played hide-and-seek.

The afternoon was drawing to an end, and Tattersall was busying himself with new arrows. While he had initially hoped to continue his trade with Kyrios, their last interaction had made it clear the trader was no friend of his pack. It was likely that if they met again the coyote would kill him. Tate believed this, in any case: it was the logical order of things. Now that he knew the archer was an enemy, now that Kyrios had made his intentions clear, they would have to assume the other would be out for blood. Having only ever killed an enemy during wartime, Tate was still grappling with the thought of taking a life in a neutral field.

He had gathered several branches of arrowwood from the swampy grounds closer to the river earlier in the week. Now partially dry, he set about scraping the bark from the straightest of his collection. Some of these proved worse than others and were discarded, but he was getting the hang of the task and had a dozen or more sticks finished. He'd figure out a way to get arrowheads later, but feathers were easy to come by. Taffetta sure managed to find them when she wanted.

Midway through this process, a powerful summons rang out.

Surprised by this, Tate was quick to abandon his messy work and tack up his horse. Nadine protested to the disturbance, but soon enough the pair was heading north. He arrived quickly, thinking there might be trouble, but found instead a small assembly. His father was among the group, and while Tate thought to approach him, the Capo's stern expression warned him off.

Gradually, as others came, Tate realized the purpose of the meeting. By then he was not alone: his mother had joined him. In some way, he was glad for her presence. Morgana's spiritual power was not unlike the physical strength Brocade projected. Though he felt uncertain about what began to unfold, Tate could steel himself with the knowledge that he was here to represent his family. He too had to be a pillar against the criminal element now put on trial before them.

Several things happened almost at once: Lexus and Azalea spoke their peace. Tate felt ashamed that he had mistaken Azalea's standoffish behavior and absence for something it was not. Then Arius, in a shocking display, rushed forward. There was a ripple of movement in the crowd, but Brocade stopped the young man with strong arms. A ferocious snarl sounded from where the Mafiosi stood, loud even over the sound of the falls.

Then, the Cleric spoke. Tate listened intently. He had never imagined the gentle woman speaking with such vitriol.

How many people had been touched by this poison among them? How deep at this wound truly gone?

He turned his gaze back to where the Pentiti was, and found himself eager to see her end.

[+ 6]
You got to go out and fall down and get up with everybody else.
Character Wiki  | [Image: 88x31_v2.png] | Player Wiki
#14
Her husband had come home one night, grim-faced and serious, and though he insisted he could not tell her why she eventually gleaned the truth of the matter from him.

As such, when the summons came the following day, Morgana had already arranged for Sionann to oversee her younger children. Though they protested and asked to go along, convinced they were missing something important, the witch refused this and rebuked them harshly when they began to whine. When they had finally settled, she gave the big dog instructions to keep the trio busy and under watch, and left the tower.

She rode Pythios at a canter up the main road, and made good time. The sun was going down but enough light remained to ensure she could see the path. Others had already begun to gather: she could smell them, first, and soon saw the assembled mass as it grew in size.

By the time she had tethered her horse away from the crowd, it seemed nearly everyone had arrived. Morgana slipped through the collective until she spotted her son, and then quickly sidled up to join him. The scar on his face was an ugly thing and still felt very new to her. He made space for her at his side. He looked grown up, she thought, and beamed with pride at the man she had helped create. This look was cast out towards Brocade, who stood like a wall between the assembly and the Mafiosi.

Behind them, closer to the falls, three other figures could be seen.

Elphaba's words brought the trial to its head, and Morgana's expression swiftly morphed into one of cruel seriousness. This only darkened as victims began to step forward.

When Arius began to cry and beg, Morgana again felt a selfish twinge of pride: her sons would never be brought to such low behavior. She would never betray la Familia in such a way.

Brocade stopped the boy, and she pinned her ears back at O'Riley's ferocious snarl. A part of her wanted to grab hold of her son, but she remained still and steadfast.

Eden stepped forward.

Everything that came before now could not compare with the change Morgana saw in the Cleric at this crossroad. For as soft and warm as Eden presented herself (and indeed was, for the only false-face Eden had displayed was similar) what came from her mouth was nothing but fire. Morgana felt it – and felt anger, and shame, and oh, Eden said so much and perhaps too much all at once.

When Eden had lost her daughter, Morgana had shared much of her own pain. Hearing now that Catalina was not dead struck a chord with her because it was the sort of miracle she had always hoped for her own daughter: to return to the land of the living. For a few brief moments she was enraged with green-eyed jealousy. But oh, what had the cost for Eden been? A family shattered. Children ruined. Pain and suffering and now, this disgraceful display to end the whole sad story.

Morgana turned her hawkish gaze to the Pentiti. She had once offered the woman advice and guidance. Now, she would witness her face justice.

[+ 5]
O what will she do, a soul bitten into with wrong?
Character Wiki | Salsola | Player Wiki
#15
[Image: springforth-02.png] Spring Forth, Words! - Passing Score nuptiual
Grievous had not been told about the capture of the Pentiti until she was no longer in a place where he could reach her. This had been intentional.

He understood why.

Even so, there was a black hatred in his heart that day as he and his wife traveled to the falls. When they had prepared to depart, Grievous had issued a command to his servant to accompany them. Heulwen looked surprised by this.

“You are part of our family too,” Grievous had reminded her. He did not know if he meant Salsola or the Eternity collective.

Together, he, Idrieus, Lilium, and Heulwen made the long walk to the Great Falls.

By the time they arrived it was dusk. Horses lingered by the low ground, and a crowd had formed along the head of the waterfall. It was here that the group joined the others.

Azalea and Casimir were close by. Though Casimir had made it clear his arrangement with Azalea was not romantic, this was hard to tell from the way they stood near one another, and later, the way they held onto each other. Perhaps in time a true relationship would blossom. At the very least, Grievous was hopeful that his daughter's children would grow up seeing a parental unit that respected one another, even if they did not call it love.

Elphaba's voice cut through the darkening sky, and with it, a proclamation of the fouls done to their people. She did not name the victims, but invited them to step forward.

First came Lexus, who shocked Grievous by striking the prisoner. She was young and full of anger. What had been done to her was inexcusable.

What had been done to his daughter was worse.

Despite this, when Azalea stepped forward, she did not make the sort of ferocious speech he expected. It seemed to him that she held back – perhaps quelled by the sight of her tormentor – and Grievous wondered if she had realized what she risked by putting such information into the open.

Arius came next, practically sobbing, but could not get past the solid form of Brocade, who held him at length. From the noise O'Riley made, this was for the best.

Finally, Eden spoke. The longer she talked, the more Grievous realized that he too had played a part in unleashing this terror upon la Familia.

It had been Grievous who [M] advised Aani to seek a nuptial arraignment with Eden, and the Equinest felt a deep and awful pang of guilt as the Cleric spoke. He had never imagined that the girl who had been so consumed by false demons would have been telling the truth – for there was surely an evil beyond their world that lived within her. How could any mortal do the terrible things that Aani had done? Had deceiving them been her plan all along? Had she come here intent on destroying not one, but several families in her wake?
Were they truly free of the curse which had plagued them for so long?

Had he, unwittingly, provided an anchor for which this demon, this blasphemous wretch, had clung to and climbed?

A deep growl reverberated through his chest.

Idrieus put a hand on his arm.

[+ 5]
masks beneath masks until suddenly
the bare bloodless skull
Character Wiki  | [Image: 80x15_songbird.png] | Player Wiki
#16
The rush of water had felt familiar at any rate the closer the jester had gotten to the summit; Monet had yet to see a trial – both in times abroad, and now here, and they had wasted precious little time to ascend the falls at daylight’s dying rays to the summoning call. Many had already collected here in the low-slung mist that hugged around the water’s glossy, rippling surfaces, and, drawn in truly as the vulture they were, they fell victim to an age-old voyeurism.

They were sick. The lot of them. On the outside – justice and vengeance were but the same scope, different lens. There was no pageantry to it, no fanfare, no panache; but this?

This was delectable.

They lingered, back and away, listening with a rapt attention as accusers aired their grievances, spat about lies, deceit, incalculable harms done against families that had been left to fester, and, like lancing the wound, all this detritus was let loose to finally breath. Catharsis was oddly infectious. Monet, however, was left wondering, wanting, dreading to know what had lead these denizens of a formidable kingdom to hide such poisonous detriment for as long as they had.

They themself had met with Aani once, what had felt like an age ago. While they had not yet known the depth of the woman’s foulness, there had been flags there, like her fondness for the stink of sour sepulcher. With the wailing of her son, Monet felt a twisted sense of satisfaction for a previously misplaced vindication. The carmine of their eyes watched, unwavering, unblinking, as the kangaroo court unfolded and the familia condemned this pentiti – this Outsider, and they felt some fray against the ends of their nerves, electric and alight with the excitement, and the dread, and the eagerness, and the anxiety.

They did not smile.

This was a warning. Perhaps hell had better use for creatures of Aani’s caliber.

OOC: --
#17
He watched them come with eyes full of steel. Brocade Valentine stood alongside the Mafiosi, one hand nestled around the shaft of his spear. Every so often the sharpened arrowhead that sat upon its tip glinted beneath the pale clouds of dusk and Brocade would adjust the set of his feet and growl softly to himself as the others filed into the trial. Voices trickled in like rivulets over stone, dripping and slipping as families gathered and sought comfort in one another.

Pentiti.

He heard it whispered, rising like a fog to smother the Kingdom. It was a word that hung too closely to his family, a word that reminded him of Intarsia and the path of fate that had seen her buried far too soon. Morgana would feel it too, a solid echo of their pasts brought to the present. He glanced only once to the bound figure who sat atop the falls, baring his teeth as those gathered listened to the crack of Elphaba’s voice against the roaring water.

When it came time for the others to speak, The Director listened with a solemn expression as they lay bare the woman’s crimes. Lexus' slap echoed sharply, and the others voices all barked and squalled with anger and disappointment as they peeled back the layers of Aani's treachery.

When Arius barrelled forward Brocade snapped his teeth and held him back, dropping the spear to his shoulder in order to grab the boy’s shoulders.

”Enough,” He managed, gritting his teeth.

Deep down he understood that this was a boy who would mourn the loss of his Mother – that he would witness something here that would change the course of his life. Aani had cast a stain upon their Kingdom and her children would learn to live in the shadow of her crimes long after she had gone.

He heard Taffetta gasp, her hand clasped firmly in Velours.

(///) | NPCs: N/A

#18
[Image: springforth-02.png] Spring Forth, Words! - Passing Score homologate
The hunt had gone on for far too long. This was the truth – but the war, the weather, and the luck of the devil had favored the Pentiti. Had she been wiser, the woman would have fled. There was a vast, wide world beyond the borders of Salsola. With her ability to lie and put on falsehoods, Aani could have easily found her way onto a ship and crossed the great sea. The Thistle Kingdom had a long reach: to Portland, to Chesapeake, to the west – but even they could not stretch arms beyond the Atlantic so easily. More than that: a hundred little hamlets and packs surely existed which might have given shelter to a pregnant woman.

Instead, she had lingered. She had done the exact opposite of what a criminal should have done.

It was, however, what someone of her nature (not quite a killer, for O'Riley did not believe Aani had the salt to murder) would do. Too covetous to give way to reason, too prideful to rationalize the risks. Arrogance and complacency had been her downfall.

Unlike last time, when there had been no face to the crime, Salsola knew who they were after. O'Riley would not need to create fires where there were none.

Kamari had done her job well, but she always did.

With the capture concluded and the prisoner's containment secure, the pack could rest easy. Had Aani any allies within their number, none were made wise to her presence until that day upon the falls.

It was cool up there, with the dampness in the air and the sun going down. Droplets of water formed on the outer layer of his fur and whiskers. Occasionally, he would shake his head and remove the worst of this. Though he did not need his armor, O'Riley had worn pieces of it – covering his broad chest and scarred shoulder, and hanging over his thighs, below the thick sword belt.

He had only brought one of those weapons tonight: the blade Kamari had gifted him, one whose design was infused with Salsola's colors and energy. It seemed appropriate, he thought.

For a long time, he said nothing at all. Elphaba spoke first, and then others. Only when Arius made his desperate lunge did O'Riley erupt into a furious snarl, his hand on the hilt of his sword. Brocade, however, stopped the boy and the greater bloodshed. The crowd rippled. Next to him, Elphaba  barely reacted. Gradually, stillness returned.

When only the noise of the falls remained, O'Riley stepped forward.

Mi Familia! He shouted. “You have heard from your kin, your comrades – listen well and remember that we act today as our Law demands. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us,” O'Riley declared forcefully.

He turned to Elphaba. Even before this trial, the homologation of its outcome had been determined. There was only one punishment suitable for those who betrayed the Thistle Kingdom.

“What does the Law command?”

[+ 5]
Ordinary morality is only for ordinary people.
Character Wiki  | [Image: 88x31_v1.png] | Player Wiki
#19
[Image: springforth.png] Spring Forth, Words! Obliteration - 4/30

"DEATH."

Dropping a cigar butt to be ground into the earth, Egregore answered Erilaz O'Riley Eternity with a loud bellow. He had focused intensely on not fudging the last sound with his Slavic tongue, moving it just so to actually pronounce it correctly with a 'th' and not a 'z' on the end. His face was not one of joy or mirth. Bushy eyebrows pulled down, eyed sharpened to knives, lips ripped back in a snarl. He loathed women like Aani. Pathetic creatures that deluded themselves into believing abuse was good parenting.

"DEATH!" he shouted once more. Both eyes were uncovered and both minds were present. Blood and Soul coordinated each fiber of Egregore together.

She had hurt countless many, it would seem. Eden, his sponsor, the healer that saved his life. Azalea, a young girl, a pup when the abuse began. Lexus, one of Egregore's closest friends. Arius, oh, Arius. He was so confused. Blood remembered his own mind being twisted like that, bent until one was brittle, cracking, broken...

Killing her was the only answer. She needed to be put down like the traitorous dog she was. The bitch hardly let out a peep, even when Lexus had slapped her. No, there was nothing valid to her defense. Yet...

Would there be any last words?
[Image: egregore_by_jazzy_small.png]
[Image: red_moon.png] [Image: egg.png] [Image: blue_moon.png]

Our minds feel hate and flesh is willing
We hurt what lies between
One second passes and you're gone
Our weapons drawn but
Somehow these kills won't make us whole
We've sold our souls


Character WikiPlayer WikiAdopt Niko Prizmov!

[Image: 80x15_songbird.png] [Image: he_him_by_agent_pits-d88i5w6.png] [Image: plural_button.png]

(Art Credit)
#20
Odalis stood at the back of those gathered, a cigarette lit at the end of her fingers. Every so often she lifted it to her lips and inhaled sharply, her brows furrowed as she watched the sequence of events transpire before her. Aani had been captured and brought back to Salsola, a hog to be struck and quartered before being served to the nobility on a platter.

The Kingdom seemed to sprawl beneath Elphaba’s gaze, rolling like a swell of the ocean as they all gathered to be seen and heard. The Pentiti looked small and useless; palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy – a creature who had been balled up and tossed aside by the hands of fate. In another life, it could have been her.

Marina hovered close by, rocking on her heels.

”You see that?” Odalis offered in a hushed tone, rolling her tongue against the smoke. ”There are snakes everywhere.”

She growled softly, lifting her lip as wisps of mist from the falls descended on the pair and O'Riley roused them to attention. Odalis flicked her ears, grinding the butt of her cigarette beneath her heel.

(///) | NPCs: N/A

#21

Obfuscating darkness rolled into his thoughts like a baleful cloud that threatened nothing but heavy rain, cold winds, and deafening thunder. The sensation was projected upon the worn and damaged contours of his rugged countenance.

The ageing wolf still had the emotional and physical resilience of a mountain as old as the earth, but at that moment, Wrath felt as hypocritical as the Salsolan laws he despised so much.

Judge not lest ye be judged, he heard the line, spoken from his past, echoing between the claps of every lightning strike. 

The crowd was enormous, but how many of these transfixed, angry spectators had matched or exceeded the evil committed by the one on trial. Even Wrath had committed atrocities that would have checked and most likely exceeded all Aani had done. But their fear, he believed, of her ability to undertake such horrors on the pack was why she stood upon that rise.

They made an example of those that threatened their existence because it was beyond their control, and they feared that the most. All of them.

The barks of O'Riley cut through him like a small knife. Painful, irritating, but not enough to do the job. The cheered opinions of the crowd were like a multitude of tiny daggers. Wrath couldn't watch this.

After O'Riley spoke, but before The Boss could answer he stood, and approached the Pentini.

He loomed in his towering Secui form, before her more slender frame, his long muzzle inches from Aani's. 

Looking her straight in the eye, his deep and rasping voice issued with calm.

"You shouldn't have shtayed sho closhe. But the children will be shafe. They will thrive, and exisht as legendsh beyond you and I. Now you musht not show fear, and make them proud. 

Die well, little vixen." 

He turned, his eyes patiently scanning those that would dare meet his gaze, looking for the brave that may raise objection. But the movement carried momentum and his massive frame strode away on those strangely agile steps. Only the limp at his hind leg showed any weakness that could not be hidden, and he walked away from the scene. Saddened that the world was deprived of one more wolf that chose to live only on its own terms. 

He would miss her.

-----

WC:300+

Hell is empty, and all the devils are here ...
#22

TRIGGER WARNING: VIOLENCE IN THIS POST!
Rest In Pieces Aani, a true villain for the ages (and congrats on the well-earned SS)! Adel has told me that she isn't likely to post with Aani again to this thread, so no need to wait if you wish to reply :)


------------------

There was a barely restrained violence to the Pentiti. Her head whipped this way and that; whether she was looking for a victim, or an exit, was impossible to tell. What was evident was the madness of her, raw and on display now that she faced the very real promise of death. A sane woman might have grovelled, might have ceded power and begged for mercy from the blade.

Aani did not beg.

They left her gag in, anyway. Her mouth - her words - had done enough damage as it was.

The first to step forward was a thin, weakly-looking woman who the Boss recognised as the Pentiti's ex-servant and blood kin. Though her body and her posture had a frailty to it, her voice when she spoke grew louder and louder. The slap, when it came, was as resounding as a thunder-clap. A satisfied murmur through the massed crowd rewarded Lexus for her bravery.

Next came Azalea. Elphaba watched the Paladin's daughter closely. Compared to the Whitlock woman, Azalea seemed reserved and oddly calm. From their earlier conversation, Elphaba recognised this - strength - for what it was. The Sanctus Apprentice was finding the path again, coming into her own Power, seeking her own Monster within. Her dawn was rising, long overdue.

The Boss' red eyes lingered a long while on Azalea, even after she had said her piece and returned to the relative comfort of her young husband's embrace.

Next came the boy in a man's body, the Pentiti's son. Arius looked like a broken toy that Aani had long cast aside. He grovelled in his mother's stead, erratic and unbalanced. Brocade was swift to correct his unfortunate trajectory, saving Arius from himself; any further, and there was no telling what would have become of him. It was an unsightly display. At her side, O'Riley's energy bristled with threat. Theirs was a hungry justice, one that would consume what fodder presented itself.

Last to present herself was the Cleric. She had long been at the heart of this saga, and hers was a heavy sorrow and burden to bear. Elphaba was unfamiliar with the feeling of guilt, but tasted it on her tongue as she listened to Eden's lament. It curdled further to ire.

These were her people, each and every one. What had been done to them was unacceptable. An affront, an insult, an injury. Their grievances were her own. The debt was immense.

O'Riley's voice seemed larger than life. He spoke with the words of the Law, that had been granted them by their usurpal of the last Queen - a power and an authority that seemed innate, if only because they had stolen it for themselves. It was barely an act. They had been ruling together for so long now that it felt like he could read her mind, sometimes - speak the very hymns from her thoughts. In all things he was her right hand, a weapon to mete the crown's justice and to solidify its claim to reverence here.

He would do this thing for her, so that her hands could stay clean, if she wished it so.

But Aani had made things personal; and besides, Elphaba's hands had not been clean for a long, long time.

What does the Law command?

Death! Said a vehement voice in the crowd. Death! Another joined Egregore's call to violence. Voices rose in a swell, but not all joined the chant. For even in this wicked place, there were some who abhorred blood and destruction.

Just as she was about to call for silence, a dark blight stepped from the fray. Wrath was an abberation even among such welcome company. Elphaba's fingers held still in the air; her red eyes hung upon him curiously. What voice had he in such matters? For beasts, violence was not optional but inevietable. Unlike the others who had spoken, Wrath's words seemed kindred and offered no judgement.

The Boss looked first to O'Riley, and then to Brocade. Unspoken thought moved between them. What the Confidant had done would be remembered.

But now was not the time for further investigation. Elphaba lifted her palm to the sky and silence fell.

"The Law is what separates us from lesser beasts," She reminded the congregation. Spray from the falls had steadily drenched her, made the tendrils of her hair stick to her face and chest. Droplets ran over her cheeks, but the queen's red eyes were dry and full of fire. "It is what safeguards us from the chaos of Outsiders; it is what makes us superior among fell men. Without it, we would fall - as Inferni fell, and as all those who have risen against us in their own time fell."

She had been saying these words for so long that she believed them intrtinsically. The propaganda of it was woven through the fibers of her very being.

"Hold her ready," She told the two men, who hoisted the Pentiti's struggling body between them.

Elphaba approached. Her sodden cloak dragged heavily on the surface of the water, concealing her steps such that she seemed to glide above it. She stood before the condemned woman, and the choppy surface distorted their reflections into monstrous things.

"It is as the Law commands," She told Aani, in a loud voice that rang above the roar of the hungry falls. "All debts must be paid, and I come for what is owed. An eye,"

There was a movement from within the folds of her cloak. It was quick - a greedy glitter of rings, the starved glint of light on the edge of a dagger-blade.

"- for an eye."

The thrust was a blur. There was a distinct wet sound, lost beneath the greater susurrus. The ornate hilt of a ceremonial dagger was embedded in the space in Aani's skull where one of her pink eyes had been. The other eye stared forward, but went slowly blank, as glassy as the mirror of the darkling sky above. There was no great outburst. The dead woman's body slumped forward, an empty vessel of terror, a pretty doll whose strings had just been cut.

"May her bones never rest beneath the weight of moving water; may her ghost drown, again and again, in ill company. Throw her over-"

Igor began to move, but hesitated at the sound of O'Riley's voice as the Erilaz stepped abruptly forward.

#23
A voice that was not the Boss' cried out.

Death, the call came, and then again.

It might have been enough there, but something unexpected happened after. When the shadow separated itself from the crowd it did so quietly. The horror of Wrath's face seemed all the more grotesque in the falling light and in the way the water droplets made his skin slick and raw looking. O'Riley wondered why he had come forward: surely, he was not a victim.

What he offered was a riddle – one whose answer would undoubtedly have dire consequences when it was solved. While O'Riley considered this, just as he considered the look from the Boss and the Direction, the time was not right to act. Not now, when the demand for justice was so clear cut.

Elphaba looked regal in every act she performed. Even now, when she approached the Pentiti, her motions were full of grace. Soon, O'Riley thought, this woman would be his wife. He watched the way her cloak was tugged by the moving water, the way the endless wind tugged at her hair. When she struck, it was so fast that he nearly missed the impact.

The moment passed. With it passed the life of Luperci who had seen demons in herself and the world around them, and been compelled to spread this blackness and poison to the people that might have saved her.

O'Riley drew his sword.

He stepped up behind the Boss.

“These crimes touched Others beyond our borders,” he announced. “We will ensure that even Outsiders know the might of our Law and the reach of our hand.”

He gripped the sword with both hands, and with similar, brutal speed, brought it over his head and then down. The sharp blade cut through hair, flesh, and bone – and in one fell swoop, severed the head of the dead woman from her corpse.

O'Riley bent and grasped her blonde hair into his fist. He lifted the head from the water. It felt lighter than he expected. His pale eyes turned to Igor and Krios, still holding onto the headless remains.

“Get rid of it,” he told the men.

[+ 3]
Ordinary morality is only for ordinary people.
Character Wiki  | [Image: 88x31_v1.png] | Player Wiki
#24
The deed was done.

Reyes' grey eyes did not so much as focus but look on lazily. While this was a show of strength, the pageantry was a bit lacking. He would have drawn it out a bit longer but applauded the Boss doing the execution herself. Most would not have the stomach for it, let alone dirtying their hands with tasks beneath them. Some had shouted for death. He had remained silent, aware of his position in the thistle kingdom.

The woman named Aani was no more.

He finally tore his eyes away from the scene, glanced to the large brute who ordered her head elsewhere. A display for a traitor. Maybe they'd put roses below it, stuff her head full of thistle. Applaud the deed, marvel in it... Either way Reyes thought this would scare off potential intruders for a bit Unless the head rotted twice as fast, as rotten as this Aani had been bad for business. He finally gave himself.

He saw Egregore in the crowd but did not do anything to approach him. He tipped his head if the man glanced his way, before leaving the location. Perhaps he'd run into that large blackened brute who approached - not a victim... but something else entirely.

/exit
#25
Like Wildfire - It starts in my chest - The silence grows louder - Ringing out in my head

OOC: stuff here

What would Arius become? River water soaked his knees, that tickling sensation almost burning against his skin in his overwhelmed state, as if Brocade was holding him down in liquid metal. Weakness and panic filled the boy so much that it choked him, stopping Arius from being able to beg any further. He could only watch, could only sob and squeal like a punished child as one by one more spoke against his mother. Eden spoke about a lack of love, of hatred and wishing for death. She who had tried showing Arius what love actually was, what a parent was supposed to be, yet in this moment caused the boy immeasurable suffering by betraying the one who had him wrapped around her finger. Others asked for death, Arius only able to heave in worthless breaths as his vision on the scene grew darker, suffocating on his own panic and the feeling of dread. 

When Aani was gone, truly gone... what would Arius become? He had no worth to anyone anymore. He couldn't comprehend the love from Eden, from Lexus and his family, when they so readily accepted killing someone who had hurt them. Because Arius hurt them too did he not? His compliance and his protection of his mother, his worship of her every intention and reluctance to see the truth... it had hurt them. Did they wish for him to die as well? Then why go to all the trouble to confuse Arius's mind into thinking they might actually care for him? 

Being confused at a time like this was like being strangled underwater, Arius had no means of giving himself time to breath so instead he could only accept his fate. 

When the knife came, when the sword fell... Arius let loose a strangled scream, eyes wide in the terror of knowing that this was his final view of his mother. A scream turned to a heave, as bile released from the boy's empty stomach, body unable to cope with the overdose of stress. Between the vomit and wheezing, Arius was falling fast, the black spots in his vision burning through more and more of his sight until he was one push from passing out. 

The crumpled boy, the play thing that his mother has discarded, would have no fight left when he was eventually taken away from the scene.



[Image: xsGMFsD.png]



I'm just a kid who grew up scared enough
To hold the door shut
And bury my innocence
#26
Rosemary belonged to the anger of the group even if she had no salt to share; she let her nape bristle and her lips curl back. After each heart-breaking testimony, the verdict became clear—Death! they cried. Death! This is what the Law demands.

The Boss, ruby-eyed and misted by the falls and falling darkness, approached the condemned woman. The tension in the air rose to a fever-pitch; she could almost feel the silence as sound, the unison of intention, willing the Boss to settle the score. Her frenetic gaze cast about the faces of the others—everyone was watching.

She begged herself to watch too. She needed to see the judgment as it was passed, to embrace the hurt of her new Family and be as one with their injustice, but in the end, Rosemary looked away. Tears burned at her eyes, and Rosemary wiped them with a furtive shame.

Her stomach roiled. The son had thrown up, and the stench had reached her in the shifting animation of the moment. As everything whirled into motion again, she saw her reflection and then she saw the thief Sacha's face, sinking wide-eyed into the waters off the pier.

Adrenaline rippled through her skin like lightning. At long last, she heeded that instinct which had come barking at the gates of her mind. Run. Run anywhere.

Rosemary shifted down. The soft give of the earth felt good underfoot. She ran until the falls were behind her, until she couldn't hear the sound of her name being called from the water.
(—) | NPCs:
#27
(1102) | NPCs: | Optime | Lol sorry for the book

It felt almost wrong to speak like this to the bound and gagged woman. There was no way to get any reply—but then again, Azalea wasn’t sure whether she wanted to hear her voice or be subject to her words once more—and she felt almost as if she were speaking to a very angry wall. Despite this, and despite the guard on Aani, that seemingly simple act was nerve-wracking. When she turned and saw Casimir, Azalea let out a shuddering sigh, walking slowly back to him despite the urge to run. It felt wrong to show her vulnerable back to Aani.

He seemed almost to pull her out of the crowd and into his embrace, and for a moment Azalea could almost believe that their relationship was real. Still, though, she thought of Sólveig, her face appearing only briefly in her mind before being cast away once more. It was neither the time nor the place for Azalea to consider her own heartbreak.

Wrapping her own arm around Casimir’s waist, Azalea would have been lying had she claimed that she felt no comfort from his reassurance or his touch. As soon as her eyes had first landed upon him within the crowd Azalea had sensed his support, and as soon as his fingertips had brushed against her shoulder for the first time she had felt safe once more. Her friend was there for her. Her friend.

Still. . . his words did not bring about as much comfort as she would have liked. The truth was that she did not say what was in her heart. What was in her heart was much more vitriolic, much more lengthy, and much more hateful. What was in her heart. . . were feelings that Azalea did not feel comfortable sharing before much of the pack.

Anger at this one last injustice seeded itself into her heart.

Unconsciously, Azalea stiffened against Casimir as Arius flew from the crowd and to his mother. Breath leaving her lungs and heartbeat seeming to slow as time did, Azalea watched as the guards moved towards him and Brocade beat him into the ground, holding him securely even as the boy began to cry out. She turned away from the spectacle, unable to watch, and closed her eyes.

Azalea couldn’t close her ears, though she wished she could have blocked out his pleas. She understood his stance all too well, and she wondered whether—had the course of their relationship run a little differently—she ever would have plead for Aani’s life, even after knowing her crimes.

”I want to leave.” She mumbled to Casimir, quiet enough so that only he could hear. Releasing him and turning, Azalea froze as Eden stepped forward. Making a slight noise of surprise, Azalea returned to her previous position, though a feeling of mild panic was beginning to grow in an uncomfortable way.

Somehow, Azalea had not expected Eden to come forward and make public her abuse. When she spoke, Azalea realized that she had been wrong to assume that Eden would walk away from this as she had—intent on keeping private matters private no matter the cost. Eden would not be hindered by the desire to withhold information from the pack or keep secrets. Azalea envied her that freedom to unleash her fury so spectacularly.

She hoped that revealing the truth wouldn’t backfire on Eden, as it had backfired on Azalea.

Azalea grit her teeth, glancing at her united family, standing separate from her. They were not far away, but it felt as though a great mountain stood between them. Did they feel the same way or was it simply her imagination? Surely anyone else, anyone who was not privy to the drama of the last few months within their family, would think nothing of this. A newly married couple standing slightly separate from the bride’s family.

She turned away from them, distracted by O’Riley’s call, and tried not to think about their fights or her own persistent fury. Caught instead by the energy of The Erilaz, as the rest of the crowd was, Azalea stayed silent and waited to hear the verdict. Egregore chanted for death, and the call made Azalea stiffen in anticipation once more, for she knew already that this was the fate the woman would suffer.

A growl rumbled deep in her belly, so low that Azalea felt it more than she heard it, when Wrath began to approach the Pentini. She did not know what the man wanted from the woman, but she did not trust Wrath so far as she could throw him. At times she had found that he was entertaining, but never had she found him trustworthy. ”What’s he saying?” She whisper-mumbled under her breath, straining her ears. The crash of the falls and her own relative distance from the crowd around the Pentini—where Wrath stood—swept his words away with the wind. ”Damn.”

Elphaba called out to the crowd once more, and her own frustrated attempts to hear the words lost in the wind were forgotten. Refocusing, it did not take long for her to realize that it was time. Stiffening, Azalea turned such that she was looking over Casimir’s shoulder and wished once more that she could stop hearing for a time. Simply exist in space without seeing or hearing until the execution was over and she could return home, at which point she would conteniently regain her sight and hearing.

Instead, Azalea waited in anxious anticipation, tension slowly building as her mind began to attempt to guess what might be happening behind her using the clues she was given by her gift of hearing. Quickly, Azalea realized she had very little idea what was happening, except that things were happening, and she wondered whether this half-knowing was worse.

Giving up, her exhaustion winning out, Azalea turned back around. Freezing in shock at the sight of O’Riley lifting from the ground Aani’s severed head as though it were a fallen tunic and not a body part. A distinct feeling of intense nausea took hold and she looked away quickly, wondering what was wrong with her that her very first thought was ’Her face looks different now’ and not something normal.

”I need to go home now. Let’s go home.” Azalea told Casimir, a slight quaver in her voice as she tried to settle her stomach, which rebelled violently. Recalling that the puppies were not at home, Azalea amended her statement reluctantly.  ”Or somewhere that isn’t here.”
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