[M] the sinner's saint

POSTED: Wed Nov 22, 2017 12:05 pm

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.

[WC: 437] Backdated to the night of the fire.

He kept thinking about what the Salsolan had said, and kept thinking that if he saw him again he would kill him.

What had been done was nothing short of monstrous, and as he ran – forgetting the fight, forgetting about destroying the wolves – the only thing he could think of was all the people who lived in that building. His sister, his nieces, his wife, his children – and he refused to see what his imagination sought to create, snarled to chase it away, and went on blindly. He had never run so fast in his life.

The flames were still there, but the Mansion was gone. It had fallen in on itself, a pile of broken wood and glass, a smoking ruin around which bodies and horses lingered. Not all of them were moving, and the keening cries of loss rang above the crackling of burning wood. He couldn't smell anything but the fire and the scent of burning horseflesh, and moved in a daze.

When he found them, it was the children who saw him first. They called to him, and he rushed to greet them, nosing both so hard that he nearly knocked the pair over. Their hands felt like they might never release him, so tightly did they grab hold. Antioch didn't realize how badly he had begun to shake.

Thank God, thank God, he kept repeating, and looked beyond them for their mother.

When he saw her, and when he came to understand what had happened, he very nearly went back into that black night to look for someone – anyone – to punish.

But instead he stayed and took his family back to his home, oversaw those newcomers to the caverns, and waited until he knew things were settled. This was a laughable idea. No one felt safe, and that was why sleepy-eyed guards sat watch despite being so much deeper in the territory.

Not that it mattered. Salsola had proven Inferni was not untouchable.

Finally, when his children drifted to sleep, he left them to find his wife.

She was by the ruins of the Mansion, sitting beside the wrapped corpse, looking strange and far away. Antioch thought she was asleep when she started at his approach, and from the way she rubbed her eyes he suspected this was not far from the truth.

Go wash up, he murmured into her ear, and she nodded vaguely. While the red-haired woman wandered off, Antioch turned to the grim task at hand. He spoke a prayer beneath his breath, and lingered, staring at still red-ringed embers in the building's remains.


I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood
signature art by Songbird
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Mel
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POSTED: Thu Nov 23, 2017 10:19 pm

It was the longest night of Clover’s life.

The grit of char and sour ash lingered on her tongue, and her nostrils burned with each inhale as she bowed her head over the shrouded figure, fighting to keep composure. Beside her, Oriole stood with quivering lip and harsh eyes, and Serenity sniffled and sobbed with muzzle buried against her knees. Across the body Versace sat, and Vesper lay curled there too — the Aquila, newly stripped of her title, looking older than Clover had ever seen her.

The dimming embers popped suddenly, and Serenity jumped; Oriole quickly wrapped an arm around her shoulders and flicked his ears, speaking quietly, his voice tremulous but deepening. Clover rubbed her arm, grimacing at the layer of soot that came away from her grey fur, like sloughing off skin. The ash she wore with pride made her feel dirty now, and she wondered about the stories Diego and Laurel told about what made fire a wild god. The wrong people had called upon fire that night, and in its fickle and unfeeling ways it had razed their home to the ground.

Was that worse than Cartier’s God — a distant presence, omniscient and omnipotent, who had let His followers lose everything despite promises of love?

Vesper began to cough, a rasping sound that grew liquid and wheezy quickly. The Outsider stared at her a heartbeat before gathering herself. “Vesper,” she murmured. “Let’s go get some water.” She glanced at the children — adults now, she supposed, but what had the word “adult” ever meant anyway? “Will you take Meemaw to the creek?” she asked them, and uncomfortably (because it was hard to see the leader this way) they agreed.

Clover walked them to the wood and stood at its edge, turning her eyes back on the cinders and shroud, and dug her claws into her palm.

“Where the fuck are you,” she whispered under her breath, but the dead silence of a frightened forest was her only answer.

They returned, throats soothed, and found Antioch. Clover walked to his side and reached down to curl fingers in his sable mane, looking at him nervously. Behind her, Ren and Oreo walked on either side of a terribly limping Vesper.

“I’ll help,” the old woman growled, dragging her splinted leg. “I need to.”
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oderint dum metuant
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POSTED: Fri Nov 24, 2017 10:38 am

[WC: 220]

Sometimes, it felt like all God did was take.

This was something that Antioch knew was a selfish and awful thought, but he still fell victim to it in times of crisis. It was hard not to think that God was cruel or that things were unjust when people were dying young, healthy, and most importantly, too soon.

His faith sometimes felt like holding onto a rope, and that on the other end of the rope a great crushing weight hung above his head. They were supposed to believe, and not question, and to trust in God's plan. It was hard. No matter how much he tried to do good, Antioch felt his mortal flaws day in and day out.

He couldn't hate God or punish Him for what felt like such an injustice, but there would always be others.

Noise and scent alerted him to the small group returning, and he flinched under the touch. Antioch took a deep breath to show he meant no harm in this, and turned at the hoarse demand of his former leader.

They had taken her too, he thought, and a fresh wave of anger cleared his thoughts.

Yeah, he agreed, and looked directly into her face. She had lost her title, but not his respect, and even now he sought direction. Where?


I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood
signature art by Songbird
Inferni
DEAD
User avatar
Mel
Luperci
KARMA POLICE
(better keep your head)

POSTED: Tue Dec 19, 2017 11:37 am

“Here’s as good as any,” Vesper grunted. She looked at the great pit of the basement, and forward at the expanse of scorched lawn. “He lived here.” She looked like she was going to say more, but the words were rough in her throat already.

But Clover understood. Her first happy memories of Cartier involved the mansion: leaning against its brick wall, sneaking bowls of soup Versace had cooked. He’d built her a nest in their room and she’d stubbornly kept it even when the puppies grew up. She hoped that the mansion was a happy memory for Cartier too — but found herself wondering if, in his depression, Cartier had had happy thoughts left at all.

If he was in Heaven now, and if it was real Clover had to believe he was, would he then not be suffering any more? Or could he still feel sorrow, looking down on his left-behind kin?

The earth was not hard as it could have been; it was warmed by the flames, and Clover shifted down into her Secui form to dig. Soil came away in her claws, as did rocks and brick embedded in the dirt from some distant time. Vesper, unbalanced on three legs, did her best to dig too. Even so, Clover thought it would be a shallow grave.

She took one break to escort Serenity and Oriole to the caves, even though the boy protested, wanting to see his father’s burial to the end. Tasked instead with protecting his sister, he relented at last.

When she returned, there was a small figure emerging from the woods.

Clover ran at him, and when he opened an arm to embrace her, she set her teeth into his wrist and jerked him fiercely to the ground.

Jehan’s cry of pain made her growl, but at his panicked look she released her grip. Pressed down into him, she was sobbing, and all the small dog could do was stroke her head and ask her, repeatedly, what had happened.

“He’s dead,” Clover said, smothered against his chest, and Jehan sat up and stared at the shroud and the grave.
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oderint dum metuant
cave canem
unconditional loyalty

POSTED: Thu Dec 21, 2017 6:05 pm

[WC: 200]

The earth was dark, and familiar, and quiet. Antioch had done this twice before and took solace in the meditative way in which he fell into the work. His paws worked through the compact part of this first, pushing and pulling until he no longer felt the warmth the fire had left. Eventually his fingers went numb and his shoulders ached.

After a while, he didn't feel either.

When Clover left, the Bellator took a break long enough to clear his throat and insist that Vesper stop assisting. He might not have done this had her position not changed so drastically over the past hours, and realized in doing so he accepted everything which now fell upon them.

Loss felt strange. It wasn't supposed to happen to them.

He went back to work until the ground became too hard to break, and was in the process of pulling himself from this task when a blur of gray raced across the grounds and set itself upon a tawny-white shape.

Antioch shook his fur free of the loose earth and remained where he stood. Behind him, the mansion continued to smolder in its heart, and a thinning plume of smoke rose skyward.


I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood
signature art by Songbird
Inferni
DEAD
User avatar
Mel
Luperci
KARMA POLICE
(better keep your head)

POSTED: Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:40 pm

[216] We can fade this out if you want, it's been hard for me to reply to and I'm sure my replies are, in turn, impossible to reply back to haha. I'm good w/ continuing on the off chance you do but it's up to you, I'm not bothered either way!

Clover wept helplessly into Jehan’s white-starred chest, until the man—trembling with fear now, looking like he might be sick—pushed her away. She crouched on the cold earth and watched him stagger toward the shroud, lift it back, and stare at the smoke-stained face of his beloved: eyes shut, reddened at the edges, but otherwise looking as if he had just fallen asleep.

He had, back in the smoke. He’d been so close. It hadn’t been enough.

“How—“ Jehan got out, but then he remained on his knees. He ran his fingers through Cartier’s singed hair and kept just looking at his face.

Vesper looked at him, her expression impossible to read.

Clover, meanwhile, stood up. “Where were you?” she asked in a whisper, but Jehan didn’t answer her. He didn’t seem to be listening. She spoke again, louder. “Where were you? You should have been—“

“Ren. Oreo. Are they okay.”

“Yeah, they—“


Jehan slowly bowed until his forehead pressed to his dead husband’s, shutting her out. She stared at his back, feeling terrible betrayal, then grit her teeth and blinked. When her eyes opened again, they were hard. Wet, bloodshot, but she wasn’t going to cry another tear as long as Jehan was here.
Loners
Dog
User avatar
Raze
oderint dum metuant
cave canem
unconditional loyalty

POSTED: Sat Jan 20, 2018 3:29 pm

[WC: 181]

His brother-in-law's family was slowly coming undone before his eyes, and Antioch could not (or would not) abandon this needed duty out of sympathy or respect for their loss. He had promised his wife that he would see to it her brother was put to rest properly, because the right words needed to be said and the right burial performed. Cartier was a faithful man, and he deserved to the everlasting life beyond this one in spite of the contradictions his choices sometimes presented.

God would sort it out. Bad or good, God would sort things out.

So when the dogs finished speaking, when Jehan's little body became wracked with grief, Antioch quietly pushed them on.

Antioch prayed and recited the things that he believed needed to be said. He helped them (and eventually took over, when exhaustion finally grappled the family) cover the grave in the loose earth they had pulled out of the ground. It was a proper burial, for what it was worth, though small and miserable. He deserved more time – his family deserved more than this.


I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood
signature art by Songbird
Inferni
DEAD
User avatar
Mel
Luperci
KARMA POLICE
(better keep your head)

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