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[m] at the gallows it was mercy I had found

Mon Aug 13, 2018 10:41 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.

Word Count → ??? :: the grace that I have brung is that your death is gonna save you from the things you're running from

The late hour moved slow as pitch over gravel. Shadows slid from the feet of stone plinths, oozing out across the pathways, fleeing the pale sliver of a halfmoon. Beneath the deeper pocket of darkness that fell in the overhang of her doorway, the young queen stood a while - Even after her Erilaz had taken the distressed Heiwa woman away, she stood, looking out over the ghostly silence of the Ruins proper.

The external stillness was sharply at odds with the turmoil of her mind. She'd instructed O'Riley to return later, but suspected that Isabella would keep him a while, desiring the presence of the Law on such an ill, grief-stricken night.

It was not sadness that Elphaba felt - she probed herself tentatively for it, not wanted to be surprised, but found herself lacking. She had not known the Seer all that well beyond the weight of her Faction title and Noble House blood. The woman was her half-brother's mother; Was that important to her, in a way that might make her mourn?

No, she thought, finding herself free of grief but full of troubles.

The death of a Faction Tier elite was no small thing. Like a crack in the foundations of her empire, Elphaba felt somehow vulnerable. The abruptness of the woman's death had left her reeling. Delfina, only recently returned from the Portland provinces herself, had made a pretty show of things. Her story had no holes, no gaps for doubt to pry open, but even so... Even so...

The young queen wrapped her arms about herself, though there was no chill to the air.

It was part responsibility that formed the decision in her mind, though it would be remiss not to understand that the other part was pure selfishness - Elphaba didn't want to be alone tonight, not even for the hour or more it would take O'Riley to come back. She steeled herself grimly to the task ahead, and slipping on a dark flowing cloak, stepped out into the night.

↟ ↟ ↟ ↟ ↟

It was a small walk south of the central tower, one familiar to her. By the grace of night Neith's small home was sweetly slumbering - no hearth glowed in the windows, no candles flickering in the medic wing to suggest he had a patient at hand. The air was still, no coastal breeze to rustle the thick tangles of ivy vine that wound in great abundance over the humble structure.

She thought of the good doctor, asleep within the safety of his four walls, and felt a pang somewhere where her heart should have been.

For a moment Elphaba lingered on the doorstep, her present an anomaly here, her hand resting against the warm wood of the front door. She thought about knocking, but before the thought had fully coalesced the young woman found herself inside, the door open at her back. A tugging in her gut urged her onwards - on silent feet she padded through the main room, pausing by the hanging curtain that separated his bedroom from this open space.

She could hear him breathing on the other side. A wave of relief passed through her so abruptly it left her fingers tingling and numb.

"Neith?" The young queen whispered, the curtain shifting softly with her breath, "Neith, it's Elphaba - Are you awake? We need to... Talk. Something has happened," Unable to resist, her fingers curled around the worn fabric and moved it aside.

Re: [m] at the gallows it was mercy I had found

Tue Aug 14, 2018 2:56 pm

So absorbed in everyday life he had been for so long, a creature trained and accustomed by routine since leaving the family home in the months past. Branching to his own cottage, away from his mother and from the crowd that was Ondine’s growing family, Neith had doubled progress of his studies. He came and went as he liked, no more or less than usual, but freed from the stresses of the home he returned to. He loved his family, he cherished them, but for a time they had simply been too much.

He would regret that, soon.

Neith had been given no reason to stray from routine. He knew of nothing wrong at home, save for the oddity that was Delfina’s resurgence into prime Salsolan society from the Outpost. She appeared as if prompted, as if the chat about her between the doctor and Ondine had been somehow overheard from miles away. He thought little of her return, choosing to maintain some distance just as he had when they lived together at the Outpost, before the young Heiwa was sent away.

He would come to regret that as well, in time.

The doctor slept soundly, none the wiser, comforted by repetition and independence. Never had he been disturbed from his sleep in such a way, and it showed in how he started within the furs, blinking sleep and surprise as he sat up. By the moonlight he recognized the shape of the Boss, but scarcely believed himself not to be dreaming or hallucinating.

“Who? Elphaba?” stammered Neith, collecting himself, panicking that he should have been awake for something forgotten. But something was wrong; he could see it in the carriage of her silhouette.

The doctor threw off what still covered him, sliding to his feet with urgency. “What’s happened? Is someone hurt?”

Re: [m] at the gallows it was mercy I had found

Tue Aug 14, 2018 9:57 pm

Word Count → ??? :: ---

It was a shame to wake him - asleep, his face relaxed and free of the burden of its daily carriage, Neith looked sweeter than ever. She might have waited to watch him dream a while, were it any other news that needed delivery.

But some things can't wait, not even till morning.

As he startled into consciousness, she made a low soothing noise like a croon in her throat and padded silently into the room. "Neith - Yes," Though that wasn't quite right anymore, "No - just, sit back down a minute." Sleep still clung blearily to his handsome face, those soft jade eyes milky with lingering dreams growing fervent now in alarm and confusion. Unable to resist, Elphaba reached out to smooth an unruly lock of warm cinnamon hair out of his face. Her fingers rested a moment longer than was necessary. "Sit," She said again, this time using a trick of the voice to pull deeper into her instinctual authority.

When at last he acquiesced, the young queen crouched down onto her heels opposite, and held herself poised there in stillness like a crow in the rookery.

The words came easily enough. Elphaba was no stranger to delivering poor news. "There was an accident by the cliffs," It was important that he understood that their fledgling investigation had no culprit. Remembering Delfina's sharp face and sallow eyes made her pause, but only for a heartbeat. She reached out and took one of Neith's hands, still warm from sleep.

"Ondine is dead," The truth seemed displaced in this little, tidy room, "Her husband went with her over the side of a bluff and into the water. They're both gone."

Re: [m] at the gallows it was mercy I had found

Tue Aug 14, 2018 11:06 pm

She requested him to sit, touched gentle at his face, and looked into his eyes with a certain sympathy he had never seen there before. Heart pounding, he sunk back onto the mattress. At once Neith knew his personal life was involved. He assumed something had happened to his mother, for the years had been unkind to her—or even to Krios, brash and desperate to impress as he was.

When the truth came to light, Neith sat very still for a time, staring into her eyes without seeing her at all.

There was no question whether she was joking. It never crossed his mind as a possibility.

But he’d been there for a visit just a few days before. Dead? How? Some months ago, he and his sister promised one another they would get out of Salsola together—that neither would be left behind. They'd figure out where to go, and escape to a sanctuary beyond the Thistles without chance of pursuit.


She couldn’t be gone. They were supposed to leave together. They were supposed to escape this lot, before something could happen. Before Salsola ate them whole.

Neith leaned on his knees, hands in a peak at his lips. A beat later, they supported his face, covered his eyes. He was silent. He considered her children. He considered their mother. He considered countless memories of his closest confidante, and pictured her body broken at the bottom of a bluff alongside the man she took a chance with—the start of Ondine taking control of her own future, her own desires.

His hands returned to his lips. A vivid, angry light stemmed from the depths of his eyes, and they reflected cold in the stray moonlight as they slid back to meet hers. He mumbled quietly, mouth scarcely parting, “Why did this happen?”

In his voice, the masquerade was lost. There was no Good Doctor, no Apprentice minding the rules, no mild-mannered young man keeping his head down and playing the game. This is Salsola, his tone said with a disgusted finality. This is just what happens in Salsola.

We weren't fast enough to get away.

Re: [m] at the gallows it was mercy I had found

Wed Aug 15, 2018 12:26 am

Word Count → ??? :: ---

Her expectations, fostered from many little interactions over the course of their courtship and friendship and other, led her to believe she knew how it was the good doctor would respond to this ill news.

He had such a handsome face for woe, after all; Such a sad look made his beauty more poignant, like the first dew of spring, or the perfect pale bones of a fawn.

When he pulled his hands away and held them to his face, she imagined the sadness there, imagined the way he must be attempting to press it all back in - tears back into eyes, frowns back into lips - and her chest lurched strangely in the way it did when he was near. A fierceness warmed the back of her throat; The urge to protect, to possess.

It died quietly when his fingers parted and the blank, revolted eyes looked through the slits at her.

Elphaba blinked, surprised, and for the first time she faltered.

"Her sister came to us," She said carefully, searching the stranger's face before her, "Your cousin, Delfina. She said she saw them fighting. The Outsider - her husband," The correction was purposeful, "Pushed her over the edge. Delfina made sure he followed." Somehow, she knew that this was not what he was asking - Why? He'd said, not how?

She tried to find her balance, striving for an empathy that struggled to exist. "You're upset," Again she reached for him, certain that the connection of warm skin on skin would bring back the man she recognized, "I'm sorry for your loss, Neith. None of us could expect this."

Re: [m] at the gallows it was mercy I had found

Mon Aug 27, 2018 1:16 pm

Her explanation wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t that he distrusted her, or that she was not sympathetic enough upon delivering such news—it was just that it wasn’t good enough. Ondine Heiwa was dead. The Seer, his sister, a creature of some fame and reputation, erased from this life while her family slept in their beds. While their mother, old as she was, outlived her.

Uxoricide was not good enough, but then again, Neith had never considered Janik good enough for her in the first place. Now he knew why. In that moment, Salsola’s stringent policies about outsiders suddenly clicked itself into a rational place within his mind, and something within his heart hardened in a once plush and relenting place.

To know Delfina was involved changed nothing. Neith was not fond of her, and he had known Ondine just the same. But Delfina was as much his half-sister as Ondine was, and she had seen their sister killed. Neith dwelt on the tragedy she witnessed only momentarily; the touch of Elphaba broke that haze. He reacted little besides a glance of acknowledgement before he slipped off the bed, brushed past the Boss, and slipped on a shirt from the closet.

“Where were they found?” he asked, lacing near his collar. “I’m going.”

Re: [m] at the gallows it was mercy I had found

Wed Sep 05, 2018 7:13 am

Word Count → ??? :: ---

If only she'd known the dual layers of mourning he held inside the softest, most vulnerable spaces of himself - It would have made more sense, this strange cold detachment, this overly pragmatic reaction to what should have been tearful news. Neith Heiwa was suffering not just one death, after all, but two:

His sister, a kindly woman whose heart was warm enough in a frigid, unkind place to make a home out of her own presence;

And their shared dream of escape, gone now over the cliff and into the seething grey water with her.

It was just as well that Elphaba didn't know. Her confusion and wounded look was so much less threatening than the alternative.

She waited for his far-away gaze to find hers, but it never did. Instead he slipped out from her touch and past her, and began pulling on clothing in the absent but determined way of a man in shock. Stung in spite of herself, the young woman curled her fingers inward and held them to her breast. "Neith," Was he even listening to her? "Neith, they weren't found. They went into Lake Fundy - their bodies are gone."

He was lacing up the front of his collar, and a fine one it was too, stitched by hand at some Portland seamstress no doubt. Too fine for scrabbling in the mud and the sand. Too fine for a night spent alone looking out at the lake. Wary of being rebuffed again, Elphaba went to stand in the doorway, blocking it with her sharp figure. "There is nowhere to go out there. The rest of the family has been told; Isabella will begin making preparations for the funeral tomorrow. You should stay. Get some rest."

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