the lyrics don't matter

POSTED: Sat Jul 02, 2011 7:51 pm

private. :)

It had been most obvious when he stood at the top of the mountain. Perhaps his memory had not retained many specific details, but the lush forests and the rocky shores seemed not to have changed much. He was traveling back in time and back to a place he had never wanted to go back to. They had left for a reason, and even now, the weary traveler could not understand why she had needed so badly to return, what she had been looking for. He had thought often about the day she had left and the last letter he had received. And just as often, he had feared that those parting pieces had already become his most vivid memories of her.

Though the summer night was temperate, he remained in his tattered grey cloak. The hood was pulled up, casting a shadow over his red eyes. The mint in the pockets and around his neck was no longer fresh, but the scent lingered like the dew after the rain. He didn't think it mattered much anymore; few had ever known him here, and fewer still would know even if they were told. The dishonesty was more of a reminder to himself. His name and his family and his childhood -- these were all things he had elected to abandon. But these were things that could not be erased, only hidden, only avoided, only covered by a false scent and an adopted lie.

As the row of skulls came into view, Kharma Asylum could not help but feel a stab of nostalgia, and that feeling forced a tired smile to his black lips. Even as a child, he had found the decoration a little sinister for his tastes, but how easy it had been to be ignorant then. Whose skulls they had been, he had never wondered. Whether they had deserved it, he had never known. The dominant odors had changed. Gabriel was still around, but no longer in power, it seemed. Kharma did not know who he preferred to face. He had had a lot of time to think about it, but he had long since tired of it. His call was soft, perhaps tentative. He was a stranger. He did not need anyone specific to come meet him. He was looking for someone, was all. Though deep down, the man thought he had already accepted that he was unlikely to ever see her again.

POSTED: Sun Jul 03, 2011 1:42 am

Word Count :: 793 akpdlffkwfkawopfopwfpowif2f23. first three four paragraphs are irrelevant. tl;dr - kaena is old. HI I RAMBLE AT YOU .___. apparently there is kae left in me yet, given an interesting enough premise for a thread. sorry plz don't kill me.

There was no need for the old woman to walk the borders any longer. She had been usurped by the vitality of youth for months now, and yet the monochromatic coyote could not keep from looping the borders, her leisurely pace clearest evidence that she had been removed from duty. There was no requirement for the Causarius to make her perimeter sweeps; she might have spent the rest of her days lounging on the D'Neville porch, and no one would have so much as lifted a brow at her. Perhaps if Gabriel still led them, he might have told his mother to stand down. The borders were no place for an old woman, and the scarred hybrid should have known that best of all. Gabriel was no longer their Aquila, however -- it was his son, her grandson, who now governed the coyotes. He had more pressing issues than how an old woman occupied her time.

Kaena found herself less and less desirous of social contact. There were those in Inferni she did not even recognize these days, virtual strangers occupying the land between the skulls. As little as the sable-backed coyote knew and trusted them, there was no fear within her. Death was coming, eventually, and she could stop him no more than anyone else. Whether he came in the form of an attacking wolf or a sleepy shut-down, it mattered little. Either way, Kaena could not stand in his way and cling to life any longer than anyone else. It was less boldness, as it had been in Kaena's youth, than it was simple tiredness. She was not tired of life yet, of course, but she had, at least, recognized the futility in evading death.

Fearful of the end or not, the grizzled female displayed clear outward signs of her true age. She would be thirteen this year, and gray had just begun to overtake the russet splashed across her muzzle. Her colors were lighter, fading -- her skin seemed looser, her bones sharper. Her pace was slow, free of any pressing need to be anywhere. Her remaining golden-yellow eye, however, had not lost any fire or shadow. It still shone with all the life left in the old woman, the decade of life she had taken in glinting fiercely there.

She had come to terms with her age, her loss of strength, her loss of rank and power -- or, at least as well as she would. There was still bitterness clinging to the back of her throat, burning for all that she had lost and all that had been taken, but it was no longer quite so overpowering as when it had been when she had first stepped down. The lie had become the scarred woman's reality, of course -- she was not able to swallow that Gabriel had come to her and asked her to vacate the Centurion rank. In her own mind, she had come to him, and her perception of reality would not be challenged. He had given her that, at least.

The call was not one she recognized. The one-eyed coyote was not pressed forward by any sense of duty. She might have continued her walk, her hollow and false impersonation of duty, and passed on by without so much as a pause. It was the tone of the call that drew the steely woman toward the sound. It was uncertain, a question possessing none of the demand she had come to expect from the brash youth so often seeking refuge within Inferni's borders. She lifted pale gray paws toward the source of the sound, the scent of the stranger pulled away from her by the breeze. Nevertheless, as she drew nearer, she could smell something strange -- withered, perhaps even beginning to rot, but still sharp and strangely fresh. Beneath it, another scent -- obscured by the plant, the sable-tinged woman did not recognize it.

Even faced with the man, the hybrid woman did not recognize him instantaneously. Cloth draped over him and obscured his face, the face of a stranger. As recognition dawned, even Kaena could not stifle a gasp, soft as it was. Words evaporated from her mind as quickly as they appeared, and the old woman could only fold her ears half-mast, yellowed eye staring with a mixture of disbelief and uncertainty, as if she was not absolutely certain it was him. There was no mistaking her own flesh and blood, though, and the silver-tinged woman was faced with an overwhelming rush of guilt and sadness. She had walked away from him, and as contented as she had become in her age, it was a decision she did not think she would have to face again.

POSTED: Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:27 am

Rachias had mentioned her, of course, but even then, he had not known what to say, what to write in response. She had already become little more than a memory, and now -- and now, it had been more than a few lifetimes, surely. Was she immortal? The old woman's silhouette on the shadowy horizon was telling, but Kharma realized he did not know how many years she had lived. In fact, the things he did not know about her far outnumbered the things he did. He had wondered about them in his youth, in the quiet days he'd spent in the library. But he had not wondered in a long time, and he didn't really want to go back to it. He didn't want to go back to any of this.

"Hello," he said, lowering his eyes and bowing slightly, one arm sweeping forward as he dipped his head in greeting. The cloaked traveler knew she had already recognized him, but he could not bring himself to acknowledge it, to acknowledge her, and the fact that he knew who she was as well. Kharma had never known himself to be bitter towards his mother for what she had done, or what she had not done. Maybe it was the long journey and the dryness of the summer, maybe it was just the oddity of being back in this place, but he felt some of it then, and it made him uneasy. He looked up again and stared straight into her one golden eye. "I'm looking for someone," he said quietly. "Or a few someones, perhaps. Has Rachias Tears been here at all in recent months?"

POSTED: Sun Jul 03, 2011 3:19 am

Word Count :: 569 wefwajefiwjefwef sorry still >_>

Failure had tempered whatever arrogance the silver-tinged woman had once displayed -- failure in more ways than the sable-shaded woman could hope to count. She had failed Inferni three times as a leader, and she had failed as a mother more times than she had succeeded. She was little more than flesh donor to him -- it had been Gabriel and the rest of Inferni to raise him, if indeed raise him they had. She had heard precious little of him in her time here. The grizzled woman might have asked Gabriel, she might have pressed after even Hybrid, who had been here so long he might have known something, but in the former case, she did not dare, and in the latter, she did not think she would find anything comforting. The Hydra, outranking her by leaps and bounds now, had never been the type to offer any warmth. Maybe, in truth, she had not wanted to know -- she preferred ignorance, the presumption that wherever her lost children were, they were happy and had experienced happiness in their childhood, despite her absence. The old hybrid had even entertained the fantasy that they were better off without her -- she had raised and cultivated the madness in Samael, after all.

The one-eyed hybrid found she could not keep her gaze from him, the half-hidden face of an adult stranger lurking there. She was reflected in it, pieces of herself cobbled together with the ghost of Laruku, too, but it was the face a stranger to her nonetheless. His voice surprised her, as if she had still expected the puppyish one she so faintly remembered. Disappointment, though not quite so deep as unexpected disappointment, crested over her, and she found her ears stuck in their half-mast position even as he spoke again. She kept his gaze for as long as she could bear it, and then turned it away, focusing instead on the ground at his feet. All presumption of rank taken from her, there was nothing left for the old woman's last resort, her last claim to greatness or whatever it was that she had professed to do with her life in the first place. The only thing left was the scarred and beaten failure of a mother here, now stripped of all office.

Her jaw worked a few times before she made any noise, as beginning to speak and considering better words each time. When she did speak, it was with her own resigned quietness. She held no power over him, least of all, and she could no more force a heartfelt reunion than she could disguise the scars across her face. “No,” she responded at last, her gaze furtive and avoiding his, but still glancing to him for reaction. “Not for many months.” she corrected. It had not been long after her own return when she had seen Rachias last, and that had been the final time. She was not among those he sought -- Kaena did not need to look at him to know this, let alone ask him. “It was the summer before last Rachias was here.” She was gone now, though, as much a ghost as Arkham was supposed to have been, as much as he seemed now. She very nearly expected him to fade at any moment, but his scent and sound were real as anything the woman had known before.

POSTED: Sun Jul 03, 2011 4:03 am

He had wondered often (and it seemed that he wondered and thought often about many things, but rarely found any answers) how Rachias could have strayed and stayed away for so long, how she could have abandoned their children in the same way their own mother had abandoned them. Perhaps these things simply stayed in the blood. Many other things seemed to, and those were all the things that the red-eyed man had spent his whole life fighting (or running from, or denying). All of the prejudice and all of the betrayal, the violence, the lies, the insanity, the madness... all of the things he had seen in his brothers and their actions. He would not be like them. He could not be like them.

That Rachias possessed any of these telling family traits hurt him, but how could he possibly be surprised? Their family's history was long and old -- as old as the woman before him, at least -- and the repetition was clear. The bad blood existed in himself too, and it always would, no matter how many mint leaves he stuffed into his cloak, and no matter how few others knew his real name.

The guilt in Kaena's body language was as clear as her voice. It distracted him from her words. Coming to stand on Inferni's borders again had been his driving goal for many months, but now that he was here, he found that his singular focus was failing. He had been lonely for too long. He craved conversation as much as he craved answers and reassurance, but while this woman, his mother, could surely provide him with such, he did not want all the extra baggage that would come with it. The past, the implications of family, the guilt. Kharma had guilt of his own in spades. Her answer had been what he had expected. Rachias had not been here since the time of the last letter.

"And her daughters?" he asked. "Myrika Tears looks like her mother, though a tad darker. Cassandra Asylum is albino. They're two years old, now." Had it been a year already since they had left Thornloe? Had it been so many months since he had last seen his girls? The time stabbed at him. The time did not feel real. He was standing in the past. How could he find his daughters from a different life time while standing in this one, speaking to someone he had not seen since he had been two months old? He felt sure that they were not here. And if they weren't, he would have what he had come for. There was nothing else for him here.

POSTED: Sun Jul 03, 2011 4:48 am

Word Count :: 341 and I didn't even use the word "exterminated" DERP HERP

With so many children and so much progeny, one might have expected more ambivalence from the scarred woman regarding the individuals. The group was her legacy, her strength -- she had populated this world with the Lykois, after all. She was supposed to have been the last of them, somehow escaping the rotten tangle that had been her own childhood alive. Instead, many now carried her surname, and many more her blood -- more than she knew, really. Still, the individual did not pale in any sense in comparison to the group -- each was still her own, and each was precious to her. Her children and her children's children -- each was directly descended from her and each was precious for that.

She had not known their names. Rachias had spoken of them -- mentioned them, really -- and the silver-shaded woman had learned of many more grandchildren since. The names were served with a dose of added guilt, more she had failed, more that would not know the warmth of family. They were adults, too, and more estranged to her than their father was now. She would not know them by sight or scent, but the grizzled woman tried to picture them all the same, the fast-fading image of Rachias conjured and darkened, the other pictured as an even paler, fainter version of Laruku. She shook her head slowly, and with no small hint of sadness.

“I do not know either of them,” she confessed. She did not know the man standing before her, even. “I'm sorry,” she said, stupidly -- it was not through any fault of hers the ghosts he sought were not here. Perhaps, though, she did not apologize for this. Lame apologies would do nothing to assuage her guilt nor would it make the empty years go away, though, and she felt as lame as she sounded, lamer than Gabriel with his now-useless limb. She might not have a physical handicap of such detriment, true enough, but she was stunted and ruined in places all the same.

POSTED: Sun Jul 03, 2011 5:09 am

All his suspicions confirmed, the shadowy stranger could have simply thanked her, bidded her good evening, and disappeared back into the night from whence he had come. It seemed almost absurd that a year's journey should accumulate in such a brief and empty conversation, but all he had ever dared to hope for was some sort of confirmation, and that he had gotten. Rachias had disappeared, and he did not need to ask to know that Kaena had no idea where she had gone. His daughters had not managed to find their way here on their own either, it seemed, and Kharma could only hope that they had gone home instead. He could be back in Thornloe in another month or two. He could leave this place behind for the last time.

He stood silent a moment and closed his eyes, thinking a thousand things. "Thank you" sat at the tip of his tongue, along with "good night" and "goodbye." He was a time traveler, and it was time to go. But in his soft, tentative voice, what he said was, "How is Gabriel?" followed by, "How are you?"

Kharma Asylum, or Arkham Lykoi, was better than his brothers. He was not mad or violent or prejudice. He would not be bitter. He would not be angry. He did not know his mother's story. He did not particularly want to. Maybe it was entirely her fault. Maybe it wasn't. But she was old and he was tired, and perhaps they owed each other this much.

POSTED: Sun Jul 03, 2011 5:32 am

Word Count :: 365

The silvery woman did not need to inquire as to whether he would stay. It was written into him as clearly as if he had boldly proclaimed it on her first sight of him. He was as much a ghost as those he sought, and though she (and others, too) would have welcomed him, it would not happen. She was not so young that she would allow foolish hopes to obscure reality. He spoke again, and the words very nearly surprised her. They were an acknowledgement, or so she saw it -- the first nod toward his homeland and his blood. Hopeless as she was, the old coyote could not help but latch onto such a thing, yellow-golden eye lifting to his with curiosity and silly, silly hoping both written into her twisted scars, hard to read as they might have been. He did not know her as well as Gabe; maybe he could not see through the mask of old tissue and twisted flesh. Even so, he was her son yet, and perhaps he could cut right through that mask she was hidden behind.

“Gabriel is an old man now. He'll come to terms with it, in his own time,” she ventured, figuring she needn't ask for her assessment not to be repeated. “His son Ezekiel leads now.” For her own part, the woman hesitated. What could she say? The defining moments in her life over the past two years had been returning, which he could see for himself; leading again, which she had no desire to mention, as it would inevitably lead to talk of her downfall; Haku, who was buried and dead for good reason; and Samael, who she dared not speak of. “I've seen better days. Worse, too,” she finally said, settling on this noncommittal answer. A faint and half-hearted smile, its corners pulled only just slightly upwards, twitched on her face momentarily, and disappeared just as quickly. “And you?” she asked. There were ten million questions she might have asked him, wanted to ask him -- but she did not dare. He owed her nothing, least of all answers. She had never provided any for him.

POSTED: Sun Jul 03, 2011 6:15 am

It still seemed impossible that he should be there, speaking to someone who was as much a ghost to him as he was to her. He had accepted so very long ago that he would never see her again that he felt profoundly empty, living this contradiction now. The feeling of bitterness had passed, along with any guilt towards her specifically. What was he supposed to say? What was he supposed to do? Ought he treat her like the stranger that she was? Treat her like the mother that she was as well? How did one treat a mother, in any case? He had never known, and neither had his daughters. Not knowing made him feel more like a child. Time travel was a funny business.

But for all his awkward indifference, Kharma did let himself smile, if only for a short second, when Kaena spoke of Gabriel. To him, the older hybrid had probably always been an old man -- he had always acted like one. Commanding and intimidating, but nevertheless caring and concerned. Nostalgia. So much time had passed. Though he had not seen as many seasons as his half-brother or his mother, the cloaked figure was much older now as well. Ezekiel had only been a few months old at the time of the fire. Arkham had not yet been a year old himself. And now? And now his girls were grown. And now, he was very nearly the age his father had been at the time of his death.

"The family lives on, then," the shadow said. "Good." He did not count himself among them any longer, but he did not wish them ill. They were not his family, but they were people.

"I have been better as well," he continued. "And worse, I suppose." He paused. "I will be returning to Thornloe -- it is a village a month northeast of here. If Myrika or Cassandra happen to come, could I ask you to send them home?" And Rachias as well, but that request died in his throat.

Kharma would not deny the woman any questions she might have for him, but for his part, he could not think of anything else to request of her or to say to her. She was indeed a stranger, and this was a strange land that he wanted to depart as soon as he could.

POSTED: Mon Jul 04, 2011 12:17 pm

Word Count :: 553 I'm sorry I am a liar. ;___; <3

She should have known better than to leave then. Kaena had been ancient at the time, and the journey had nearly killed her twice over -- by all rights, she should have been a pile of bones in some distant forest. Old as she was, the woman who departed Inferni had been a desperate thing, all former glory fading with physical strength and ability. Still driven by vengeance, the silver-hued hybrid had tried to pin her departure on those reasons and many others, and had successfully done so before.

Such reasons were less than flimsy in the face of what she had left behind. There was little on his face, and yet it spoke of all the time and distance stretched between them and the pitiably brief time they had actually known one another. He was difficult to look at, but even as he burned whatever shreds of hope left in her, she did force herself to look now. Her heart was the very same leathery toughness as her face, and it would withstand this wound now. Despite those scars, the hurt was plain to see there in her face as he took care to separate himself from the entity that was her family. She had done it herself, after all, and she could not blame him.

The silvery coyote's expression seemed to grow wearier at his words, and now the smile was lingering, tinged with sadness. As adult as he seemed, there were things to be learned yet, and the hybrid woman now ducked her head in sad apology. “I am an old woman and they are adults. If Thornloe is your home and theirs, they'll come back to it eventually,” she added, her tone apologetic. Rachias had been here when her children were young -- and, in a way, Kaena herself was responsible for Rachias' abandonment of her own children. It was plain to see they had someone who cared for them, though.

“I would tell them you asked them to come home, but I could no more make them go than I could make you stay.” The stranger before her very well pull some hidden weapon and slice her to pieces for this honesty -- such actions were well within her blood's capabilities, as they'd proven before. Arkham had been careful to separate himself from her brood, though, and she did not see anger in him, though she might have expected it. “Would you rest here?” she asked, ever careful to differentiate between a permanent stay and a simple pause. “A while, a night -- we don't have to stay in Inferni,” she ventured. There were places they could go, and she would hunt for him, however feeble an attempt at reparation for all the means she had failed to provide before.

Even so, he did not appear to be in need of being fed -- she did still quietly marvel at the adult he had become, a lovely sort of coyote, displaying only the faintest hints of wolf, but so unlike the coyote children she had produced with Astaroth. She remembered Rachias having that same quality of her, and lamented that she had never seen Andrezej as an adult. No -- Andre had never lived to be an adult. She had failed these three and their half-sister, too.

POSTED: Mon Jul 04, 2011 4:35 pm


Sometimes, it seemed that his feelings were rather forced, and that they were only that way because he was stubborn. He would not be like his brothers, and he drew often on his childhood apathy for this. So many things simply did not matter, and did not affect the immediacy of the moment, nor the foreseeable future. What did it matter to him the reasons that had led to his mother's abandonment all those years ago? His youth had not suffered much for it. Clearly she regretted it, or at least felt guilty about it, and the grown man could not find any want to hurt her more. Kharma forgave, but he did not forget. The distance would always remain, though the truth was that Kaena had no more contributed to it than the half-sisters he had only known briefly. It was the men of the family, all mad in their own ways.

Gabriel, Samael, and Andrezej had all done unspeakable things. He did not the doubt that the others had too. He would not be like them. That was all.

The cloaked figure nodded. "That is all I ask, that they know I'll have gone home." His daughters had always been independent and headstrong. He knew that they must have craved adventure after spending their early lives standing still. Perhaps they had taken the opportunity to find it after the storm, and finding their lonely father and their missing mother had lowered in priority. He would not blame them for that. For now, he was certain enough that they were alive, and that they would visit, at least, when they were ready. They were good girls, and he believed in them. Rachias was a wanderer too, it seemed, but Kharma had always been more like his father in this regard.

It was was uncomfortable, seeing the sadness and quiet desperation in the woman's one eye, and to hear it in her careful voice. It was uncomfortable, too, the emptiness he felt in response, even if he felt he had willed it there. "I will be visiting Andrezej," he told her, "And my father as well -- probably spending the night near where his cabin had been." He imagined the collapsed wood had all rotted by now, and perhaps there was nothing left to mark the place, not even bones. He had wanted to bury him -- Rachias would have, certainly -- but the fire had still been burning then, and then he had turned his back on Gabriel, and he couldn't have gone back after that.

He was silent a moment, then closed his eyes and shrugged off his hood. "It's okay," he said, trying to sound reassuring. "I don't blame you for anything. But I'm sorry." He looked briefly into her yellow eye -- the same yellow his brother's had been, the same as Gabriel's -- and dipped into another bow. "I don't belong here."

POSTED: Mon Jul 04, 2011 5:23 pm

Word Count :: 399 sleep? no, post4kiri! sorry if scatterbrained i'mz tiiiyad

“If there is anything else I could do,” she offered, not knowing what she could give. He had asked her only one thing, and she could not grant it. As much as she knew it was outside of her power to return anyone to him, she did regret her inability to do this one thing for him. She was just a useless old woman after all. It was a wonder Inferni tolerated her at all -- had she not populated it with her kin, would it have? The question was brushed from her mind as he spoke again, the name she had not heard since first returning. Kaena very nearly did wince at the sound of it, but her composure remained, perhaps if only due to experience in keeping it in place.

They had never told her where Andre was. She had told Gabriel she would have done as he had to protect Talitha, but she was never sure of that, now less so than ever. Andre was her son -- she was obligated to kill for him, just as Gabriel was obligated to do so for Talitha. It would not have been so easy a decision for the grizzled woman, who was ever glad she hadn't been the one to make it. She had never asked how Laruku died, either -- but she had never asked on either subject, and she only nodded mutely. He would pay his respects in solitude, and she would not force her company.

“It isn't. Kerberos, your oldest brother, older than Gabriel -- he attacked me when we saw each other again, after I walked away from him. I deserve no less from you, I think,” the scarred woman said. “Should have learned the first time,” she said, the bitterness evident in her voice. Children needed their mothers -- Itachi was evidence of that, and Makhesthai, too. She had tried to provide for both and had fallen short on both accounts.

“You have somewhere else to belong? That's all that matters,” she asked. It did not matter if he was happy in Inferni, so long as he had found it somewhere. She wished so much for his affirmative, but more than that, she wished for his honesty. If he was not, he would not allow her to help, no, but she would bear it all the same, as it was no less than she deserved.

POSTED: Mon Jul 04, 2011 5:47 pm

Kharma did not know that he had ever loved Andre, or even his father. He had felt an obligation to, perhaps, but his only full-blooded brother had been a nasty creature from the very start, and he had always felt diametrically opposed to him and all of his beliefs, words, and actions. They had been perfect opposites, and the younger brother had always sought to offer a balance. Andre had deserved to die; this was something he would never doubt. If not for what he had done to Talitha, then it would something else, someone else. Perhaps it was lucky that the family had been allowed to destroy its own, rather than let the monster harm another family, and bring with him vengeance.

Rachias had dug him that grave and brought him that stone. She had always felt that stronger pull towards family; she had always been kind and far more forgiving -- truly forgiving, willing to make amends, willing to look past madness. Kharma had often wished for her simple caring, and he felt he would be visiting the dead in her stead, little more. It was the same with their father. Kharma had spoken to him once in his life, and that was all. Rachias had loved him more honestly.

Kaena spoke of a brother he had never known, nor even heard of, and the traveler narrowed his eyes. It was a mantra he had long internalized, but had rarely had reason to speak aloud. "I am not like them," he said quietly, looking past her to the row of skulls. "I cannot say what you do or do not deserve," he did not know her well enough to. "But I do not blame you for anything," he repeated, "And I know Rachias never did either."

He straightened again and slipped the hood back over his head. "Thank you," he said, "Please take care of yourself." He bowed again, and then was gone.

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