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Plastic stuck to his cheek, making his skin feel sweaty. The vibration rocked his body and the bumps made him uncomfortable. It took several moments to realize the bumps came from what he laid on, the hard lumps pressing against his hip, shoulder, and wherever else there was contact. Sound filtered in next, registering in his groggy mind as the clickity-clack of a train on its track. With his cheek against the plastic, his ear pressed firmly into the material, the sound was practically a roar.


It all made Liam nauseous.


Grinding his teeth together in the hope that he wouldn't puke, the young man blinked open his eyes. Memories returned to him then. A blurry mixture of what he'd been doing before losing consciousness and... and someone else's. It was disorienting and the growing hum of voices in his head were distracting. All together, it was nauseating.


This time, he did get sick.


Trying to ignore the insistent voices, Liam stared at the black goo that had spilled from his lips and splattered on the floor. Droplets clung to his mouth and he swiped them away with his tongue, instantly regretting it. Spitting out the foul taste, he gagged and nearly had a repeat of the last few moments.


He was trembling now, or was it just the vibration from the train? His skin felt clammy and, as he tried to sit up, he discovered he felt lightheaded. Stumbling to his feet, Liam used the passenger seats to support him. Why am I on a train? Looking through the windows, he watched as barren landscape rushed by. Why am I in the middle of nowhere?


His stomach had settled faintly. No longer feeling the impending sense of throwing up, an underlying pang of hunger became noticeable. Food should help him stop feeling lightheaded. If he was on a passenger train in the middle of nowhere, then there had to be a food car. Staggering, he navigated his way out of the seat and down the aisle, missing the form of another person sprawled like he had been.


Through the metal door, he stepped cautiously into the next car and the next. Several times, he had missed the scattered forms of unconscious people, struggling with keeping the world from tilting as it was. Finally, he made it to the dining car, a buffet table all laid out with various foods and a handful of booths lined up along the walls. The smell of food gave him a mixed reaction. His stomach churned from nausea and hunger. Taking a moment to gather his senses, Liam stumbled towards the buffet table, his mouth slowly starting to water.


When was the last time he ate? He couldn't remember. But he was hungry now and there was food. Maybe he could get something in his system that wouldn't make him sick. Grabbing a plate, he placed bread rolls and steak in its center, snatching up utensils before landing himself in the closest booth to eat.

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Yellow eyes blazed from beneath the buffet table. A soft rustle of a draped tablecloth, and a fox emerged. Sleek, soft, and bright crimson, it looked like any other fox. A necklace of oddly large pearls hung snugly around its neck. Yellow eyes met Liam's, and for a second, all the creature did was stare.


"He he he! I knew it!"


The voice seemed to come from nowhere and everywhere, but there was no doubting who it came from. The animal. The orange creature darted forward, its form blurring and twisting. By the time it settled, a young girl with dark hair took its place. Wearing a tee shirt and shorts, and stalked forward to the buffet table and piled a plate high with food. Only when she sat down at a table did she address the other person in the room.



Ah, the sleeping children. Their quiet wouldn't last long, for certain. There were only two young ones for this trip, but they still worried. One was a dark-haired, dark-skinned girl. The other was a much smaller boy. The little one worried them. After all, larger vessels tended to be more autonomous. The last thing Death wanted was to corral Loki among so many inexperienced fledglings.


Their self-imposed task was simple, really. They were to carefully reintroduce the gods into the world, in a way that wouldn't obliterate the planet. It sounded easy enough when simplified so. But improper handling could lead to wars and...that meant there would be an unwanted guest.


And Death would have none of that.


They glanced down at their hands. Chalky white and somewhat translucent, their form looked...poor. and for good reason. Death had been working overtime for weeks now, trying to hunt down awakening Gods. A mortal form could only last so long under such pressure. And it always took so long to generate a new one....


They didn't have that sort of time. They could push themselves further, and when they reached their home, then and then only, would they rest.





A beast watched and listened. Food had been sparse the last few days. Oddly sparse. As if they knew something was wrong. She had spent days patrolling her territory, searching for unwelcome guests. But none had been found. None had been scented, or even heard. It was as if her prey had just...disappeared.


She had been given no choice but to change. A naked woman crouched in the bushes, her brown hair wild around her. Her yellow eyes darted about the area. This forest wasn't safe. Not for such a soft, open target as herself. Only when she deemed the area safe did she crawl further into the bushes, making her way to a large, dead tree. A large gap in its roots was reached into. Aha! Yes, she had remembered after all this time! Clothes, knives, and her crossbow. It had seemed like ages to be without them. She would need her weapons again if she was to catch anything to eat.


The forest was wary, but would not tell her why.


She would have to find out herself.

Edited by shadow_claw

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"He he he! I knew it!"


Liam jumped as a voice suddenly filled the room. Silverware clattered against the plate, his fork tumbling to the floor and the knife bouncing into the seat to his left. Blinking rapidly, his gaze fell upon the fox sitting in the middle of the car. For a moment, they stared at each other. Then it moved, lunging in an orange blur. Startled, the man yelped and scrambled backwards into the booth.


He barely saw the change, an indescribable transition before his eyes. One moment, a fox and, the next, a girl in a tee shirt and shorts. The young man was stupefied, dumbstruck, whatever. Staring with wide eyes, he was sure he was dreaming now. Or would it be a nightmare? Probably a nightmare since his heart was now racing from a growing sense of terror.


"So, which one are you? Not Inari, for sure."


"W-What...?" Liam stuttered, voice hushed. He had watched the fox... girl... person, grab a plate of food and move to sit at another table. Her question threw him off. Which one was he? What the hell does that mean? "Wh-Who's Inari?" he asked tentatively.


The voices in his head went from a quiet whisper to a torrential growl, enticing a spike of pain to race through his head. Wincing, Liam rubbed at his temples, trying to ignore the strange voices and memories. Was he going insane? Was that what was happening? The girl had to be a hallucination then, a figment of his going-crazy mind. Shaking his head, he tried not to puzzle over the lingering name, Apep, that was hissed with indignation in his thoughts.

Edited by Narvix

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The door of the train car opened briskly. The person on the other side of the door stepped into the dining car as though they were taking a morning stroll, and then turned to shut the door with no less force than before.


The individual was clothed in a black overcoat and wide-brimmed hat that obscured the face, wearing a grey dress beneath. Judging from this, they appeared to be female, though it was hard to tell.


She stared at the other two in the car for a moment; one was a young man, seemingly normal. His aura suggested he was in fact one of her charges, though the specifics were not yet clear.


The other, who was female at the moment, wasn't an aforementioned escortee. In fact, they appeared to be fully developed in supernatural talents, though not as potentially powerful as what the woman herself was looking to safeguard.


Against precisely this sort of threat.


"Why are you here?" The cloaked woman asked the girl. The tone was almost accusatory and mocking, since they did not belong on this train, making them a stowaway. And she had no doubts her associate would not tolerate that. At the same time, it was very unlikely whatever this was would be able to subdue her; over the centuries, she had never failed to strike the killing blow.

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In one of the back cars, curled into a ball with a mess of silvery-white hair draped across her face, was a young woman deep into the folds of an unnatural sleep. Her gentle face was pinched as though perturbed, and the twitch behind her eyelids and fanned pale lashes suggested the images flashing through her mind were unpleasant. At one point, her fingers tightened into her scarred palm until the impression from her nails nearly drew blood. A faint shudder rippled through her chest and the tension in her face slowly faded away.


The sound of a sliding door closing forcefully registered in the woman's senses. With sudden consciousness, her eyes snapped open, revealing a soft amber-hazel that flickered around the train car for some semblance of familiarity. When there was none to be found, the first trickle of apprehension sank into her otherwise neutral expression. Quietly, she sat upward, but nearly keeled forward from the sudden surge of nausea that stabbed through her abdomen and throat. Inky black goo dribbled from her lips. She touched at the substance carefully and examined it on her fingertips; she should have been alarmed at the sight of it, she knew, yet her mind was oddly blank of strong emotion. The haze of her dream still clouded her senses, and thus it took her several minutes to convince herself that this was truly reality.


The hum of the train was something she knew. Valerie had been on many trains in her life, and this one seemed no different aside from the eerily empty countryside (was that country? Or was it a wasteland? It was hard to tell with her head still full of fog). The fact that she was on a train didn't really bother her-- nor that she didn't know where she was going-- considering Valerie had been in that position several times in her life already. It was the fact that she couldn't remember a damn thing prior to opening her eyes a few minutes ago that bothered her. She held onto the armrest for a long moment to steady herself. The nausea was easy enough to bear, or so she thought-- how many terrible frat parties did she attend in college? Too many, if this sort of sickness felt tolerable-- until she attempted to stand, in which she found herself abruptly on her knees and retching. Ugh. She preferred the frat parties.


Once convinced that her stomach wasn't going to commit ultimate treason (again), Valerie ventured to the front of the car where she suspected someone had gone through moments before she woke. She placed a hand on the door and paused. What did she expect to find on the other side? Someone to answer all of her questions? Her kidnapper? A goddamn bathroom? Valerie wiped her mouth on the back of her hand (and then her jeans) and opened the door. What she found on the other side made her freeze in the doorway: a train car full of dead people.


Okay, maybe not dead. Valerie stared at them for a long moment until she realized some of them were breathing. Some had puddles of similar black goop by their faces, and briefly Valerie wondered what the hell kind of drug might have warranted such a nasty reaction. She wouldn't have put it past herself to try something like that, but some of these kids looked so young-- oh god, where those actual children?! Valerie felt the tingle of sickness boil in her gut again and quickly moved through the car, hoping the next didn't harbor something like abused puppies.


Luckily-- or unluckily, depending on the perspective, she supposed-- the other cars were more of the same. As the minutes wore by, the less her head felt like it was crammed full of cotton balls and more like it was full of rocks. She rubbed at her temple with the heel of her palm and groaned as she slid open the (hopefully) last car door. Inside, she was startled to find conscious people, and nearly stepped back in her surprise. The car was full of food, though with the state of her stomach the last thing she wanted to do was put more crap into it. She wrinkled her nose, but then stepped inside, careful to avoid the stranger a few feet in front of her. Wearing a cloak, of all things.


"Great question," she interjected, having caught the cloaked person's demand. "Maybe you can answer that for me. Why are any of us here? Where are we even going?"

Edited by Shiny Hazard Sign

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The sight of new strangers should have made the fox bristle. Instead, she smiled coyly, reaching forward and tipping her glass of water to her lips.

"I wouldn't get hostile. Why frighten your quarry so? After all, it was you who kidnapped them onto this train, was it not?" Looking from under her eyelashes, her smile widened. She already knew it was true. Killing her now would turn the young Fledgelings against the version of Death.

"I am here waiting for my master to arrive. You and your friend are collecting gods, so my master will arrive eventually."



A woman walked unsteadily on her feet, struggling to get used to wearing clothing. She felt suffocated. With every uneasy step, she stopped to tug at the collar. She would just need to hunt. It would be fine. Right? She'd only nedd to shoot down a bird or two, and then she could return to four legs.


There were virtually no Faoladh left in the world. They had morphed into true, mindless beasts. Niamh was one of the few guardians who remained. But there was nothing to protect now. She called no village home nor did she have a family to look after. No gods had called for the service of the Faoladh in centuries.


She was on her own. As such, there was no reason to resume a human form.


Until now.

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((Forgot to add in the character sheet that Jocelyn has a French accent; the Québec-Canadian kind.))


The fox had a point; starting a fight would make it more difficult to help the Ancients in the long run. Her pointing out that the cloaked woman herself was the one that had brought them here didn't help.


You're playing a very dangerous game, whelp... But, for the moment, I suppose diplomacy is the only route to take.


The woman walked deeper into the room and leaned against a wall, facing the others with her arms crossed in a show of mild boredom. Her hat was still lowered enough that her face was not easily discernable.


"For their own safety, yes. And beings with agendas of their own, such as yourself, are precisely what we wish to avoid. So long as you don't cause trouble, my associate and I might be able to help you, once we've reached our destination."


This made her arguments clear: she stood to protect the humans from situations that might expose their powers and bring chaos into the world. If the fox didn't stand in the way of this, there would be no disagreements between them.


"Though, given that you are a kitsune, staying out of trouble might be difficult for you." The cloaked woman said with almost a hint of amusement.


This was a wild guess, but likely not far off; Renardine would be male, and there weren't that many ancient myths with shapeshifting foxes in them outside Japan, in which most were female. Either way, this was meant both to ascertain the fox's intentions and to rub her the wrong way.


Heh, rubbing a fox's fur the wrong way... That was almost funny of me.


She turned towards the other two individuals in the room, the young man the kitsune had encountered, and an older woman of around 30 years who had asked her the same question she'd posed.


Taking off her hat and leaning it against the wall next to her, the cloaked woman introduced herself.


"My name is Jocelyn. And we are going to a more secure location, to protect you."

Edited by Coryn02

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A figure, one of many in the car would twitch as feeling returned to his hands. Eyes twitched as they were closed, his unexpected sleep was being disturbed by things the young man was just not understanding. A series of booms and voices that echoed supernaturally. What...? He slowly rolled over onto his back, his eyes still closed as he hears someone stumbling past him then.


Evidently... I'm not the only one who feels as if they've been partying.... His eyes opened after the door closes, he looks about, his head spinning as he suddenly felt nauseous. He doubled over, rolling to his hands and knees as he retched. Finally, the contents of his stomach were expelled from his system, his eyes coming open and he felt himself freeze. Black?! he thought as he lunged back, his heart pounding against his chest. He started to breathe deeply and trying to control his heart beat. Okay, I know for a fact I don't have Ebola. But, what the hell is that!?


He placed a hand over his forehead and he felt hot, not that that was any different from how he normally is, but he felt burning hot. He probably just had a fever or maybe he had too much tequila. It's not flu season, is it? No, too early. Slowly, he got to his feet, stumbling about for a moment as he got his bearings. When the hell did I get onto a train? he wondered as he checked his pockets. Why the hell don't I have my wallet, phone, or house keys!? What's going on here!? Why am I on a train? He shook his head free of those questions that had no answer, no sense in making his head hurt worse. His stomach grumbled as he looked around, there was another puddle of black crap without a body beside it. Seems somebody has already returned to their senses, he thought. At any rate, it was time to look for the restaurant car. Hopefully he could discuss these strange events with other people and see what they could do to get out of here.


It was strange, he thought. He felt weak just a while ago but he slowly feels himself grow just a tad stronger. Jonathon looked around a bit more as he walked, just passed out people and a couple pools of black crap that he was certain wasn't healthy to be coming out of human beings. What I wouldn't give for some horchata right now or maybe tamarindo, he thought. It didn't take long for him to find the dining cart, or mess cart, whatever the hell it was called. He checked the porthole and saw that there were four people, two-no three- women and one guy. The thought made him smirk. So it's that kind of train, he found himself thinking before smacking himself across the cheek. Don't be a cochino, Jonathan, was his reprimand.


He found the latch and pushed his way inside the steel door. He rubbed the back of his neck as he entered, feeling tight. He looked at the gathering and he stopped short feeling the general mood was rather... unhealthy. Barely concealed predatory instincts or something of the like and it seemed to be centered on the male for the most part. He did, however, see the food that some had and the buffet style arrangement that was at the rear wall and it called to him like a siren. He walked over that way and out of habit went to the soup containers and saw that there was quite a lot of them. He opened one at random and from the look and smell of it, it was chicken tortilla soup. He grabbed a moderately sized bowl to fill, once finished, he thought his fellow male could use a wingman. So, having decided, he went over to the table that the guy was. He missed any introduction that might've been made before arriving. "Mind if I sit here, man?" he asked when he was close enough.

Edited by Epyon

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Someone else entered the car, all hat and cloak. It took a moment for Liam to discern the newcomer was female. She was silent for a few moments, staring at him then the girl, before speaking up. "Why are you here?"


At the same time, the door opened and closed again, admitting another woman into the car who promptly answered the cloaked individual. "Great question. Maybe you can answer that for me. Why are any of us here? Where are we even going?" Those were questions Liam wanted answered too. Fumbling to pick up his lost fork and knife, the young man rubbed at his forehead with irritation. He started to part his lips, intending to speak.


"I wouldn't get hostile. Why frighten your quarry so? After all, it was you who kidnapped them onto this train, was it not?"


He froze, mouth partially hanging open, mind working to wrap around the word 'kidnapped'. "W-What?" he sputtered a moment later, cut off as the fox girl continued speaking.


"I am here waiting for my master to arrive. You and your friend are collecting gods, so my master will arrive eventually." Collecting gods?! Liam blinked repeatedly, not sure if he should trust what the girl was saying. But she was a fox turned into a human. Was 'collecting gods' a stretch after that?


He wanted to believe yes.


The cloaked woman began talking about safety, of all things. It was, frankly, very confusing. Safety from what? And for who? "What destination?" Liam asked, hoping the woman would give him an answer. If he was going to get any info, he probably should play along as if everything was real. Including believing that the fox girl was a Kitsune. (Which, when he thought about it, kind of made sense because Kitsunes were fox people right?)


The woman with the hat, Jocelyn, mentioned a secure location. About that time, the door opened once more and in walked a guy somewhere around his age. Liam felt... something, as he watched the man silently move through the car and grab a plate of food. The voices in his head became insistent again until rubbing his temples made them quiet down.


Then he moved towards Liam and asked to sit down. Really? Of all the empty tables to choose from, the guy picked this one? "No," Liam replied, uncertain. "Have a seat?" he tried offering.

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The girl's smile never faded, even as the strange woman remained somewhat hostile. Swishing in water in her glass gently, she giggled.


"There are many other tricksters in this world other than Kitsune, miss. Besides, what harm can I do while surrounded by such powerful beings? I may even have answers not even you know."


Pausing once more to take a sip of her drink, her eyes wandered to the new people entering. One man, one woman. This was just getting livlier by the second. The glass was finally returned to the table. A few seconds of uncomfortable silence,and the new man took a seat near she and the other boy.


"No, please, sit. I won't bite...for now."


Although her plate was piled high with food, she hadn't actually bothered to eat any. It was more of a custom. Eating around strangers left her feel somewhat insecure. That was just her instincts talking. After all, she was an animal.


"No...none of who are who I'm looking for. But then...who are you lot?"

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Valerie stepped off to the side of the car, trying not look at the food while she scanned the faces-- or tried to, anyway-- of the other three inside the car with her. The boy looked as bewildered as she felt, but the other two (was that one female? She couldn't tell) did not seem surprised at the situation in the slightest. She studied the younger-looking woman as she spoke. There was something...odd about her that Valerie couldn't place, but whatever it was, it made the hairs on the back of her neck raise. She rubbed at her face some more as the dull ache restarted its revenge against the interior of her skull.


This other person, or woman, was different. Once her headache subsided to a manageable pressure, Valerie blinked back up at the cloaked figure that'd named themself Joselyn. Oh dear. Kidnapping, foggy memory, hard-ass drugs, "secure location"... this was all too reminiscent of that one summer back in Mexico, when she'd been mistaken for some other American woman who'd stolen thousands of dollars worth of stuff from the resident drug lord. "Okay, wait a minute, I thought I squared away all that stuff with the Cartel," Valerie said, lifting up her hands innocently. This was all just a giant misunderstanding...right? But as she looked to Joselyn again, Valerie's head went suddenly blank until a quick flash of colored light sprang up in her mind-- was that the Aurora Borealis?-- and disoriented her enough into stumbling back and catching herself on a table. "Jesus Christ, what the hell?" she muttered, digging the heel of her palms into her eyes to alleviate the intense pressure that took back its residence behind her eyeballs.


Valerie leaned against the table and took a deep breath. Someone had mentioned something about Gods and Kitsunes and powerful beings. Maybe this wasn't something to do with the Cartel. Had she accidentally stumbled across some strange Pagan ritual? In that moment, another guy entered the car. Valerie lifted an eyebrow incredulously as he helped himself to the food. Perhaps this was similar to those stories of witches fattening up their sacrifices for a juicy meal. Whoever this guy was, he certainly didn't seem terribly concerned about that possibility.


She felt like demanding more answers, but at this point, Valerie had the feeling that whatever cryptic response she received would be of even less help than just remaining quiet and finding out for herself. If it came to it, she trusted herself enough to lay the smackdown with the mad kickboxing moves she'd learned back in college. Or if she could find a stick... Her hazel eyes swiveled around, searching for some means of protection from whatever these wackos sought to do with her next. The car itself was disappointingly barren, beside the feast sprawled across the tables. But there were forks and knives placed for their use. Her eyes lighted upon them with delight; she could use those if worse came to worse.


Valerie plopped herself onto the first boy's other side and twirled a fork on the table with feigned boredom. Though she tried her best to ignore the steaming smells of the food, it was difficult not to grimace. "So, what's the deal with that sick black crap I upchucked earlier? I noticed some of our other...friends had the same issue," she said casually, looking back up at Joselyn and then the Currently-Not-Bitey-Kitsune-Girl. Glancing over at the two guys she sat beside, she nudged the timid looking one and added, "Did that happen to you, too?" When the Kitsune-Girl spoke up again, she made a short salute and answered, "I'm Valerie. Who're you?"




Silvana was not happy.

First off, human cities were disgusting. Not that this was any news to a two thousand year old unicorn; she'd been traveling the world much longer than any of these cities had ever been distant dreams for human civilization. The American cities in particular left a bad taste in her mouth. She had once liked these mountains and fields and canyons, back when the humans worshipped the Earth and paid their proper respects. Now, plastic and asphalt and towering stone and glass buildings littered the once beautiful wilderness. The Spirit of the Forest would be hard pressed to find anything worthwhile in the depths of such monstrosity.

Silvana ventured as far from the city as she could. There were times that she tortured herself into exploring such places, as if hoping to find the last remaining bits of purity within the human race, possibly tucked away into the filth of garbage and industrialization. Very rarely did she ever find what she was looking for, and much to her disappointment, it never lasted long. Humans seemed so eager to forgo their ties to the world in favor of their technology and mindless inventions. Frankly, it made her sick.


The forest she traveled to was not much happier than she. It trembled as she walked through it. As her human fingers brushed against a tree trunk, she felt twinges of uncertainty and apprehension skitter through the bark. This wasn't the first forest she'd encountered to behave this way. It was happening more and more recently, and it caused her great sadness that she couldn't remain long enough to repair whatever damage had wrought this reaction or find out why it shrank into itself like a fearful child. Silvana placed her full palm on the tree and exhaled softly. "Strength, my friend," she murmured, and in the breeze she heard the forest sigh, as though it heard her.


The hooded cloak she wore shone like spun silver as she continued farther into the woodlands. As the canopy became thicker, she pulled back the loose hood from her face, and a mass of long, black curls tumbled down her backside. A small wren flitted through the branches above her twittering nervously, and somewhere close a squirrel crooned its greetings. Not the usual amount of wildlife that tended to gravitate toward a unicorn, even if she looked nothing of the sort at the moment. Silvana frowned. The creatures did not look sick, nor did she smell the scent of illness carried on the wind. It felt as though they were abandoning the forest itself. Her heart grew heavy with such thoughts, and not for the first time, she wished the Horned One were close. He had the answers. He would know why the forest was crying.


Eventually, Silvana reached the soft gurgle of a stream. The crystalline waters were not tainted, nor did the flora appear malnourished. Still, the forest needed her help, even if only just her company. She untied the tie of her cloak and let it fall to the grass at her feet. The dress she wore was white and simple, held onto her lithe body by a small cord of rope fastened around her midsection. Silvana knelt into the grass and dipped her fingers into the water. As she thought, the water was fine-- nothing lurking to poison or otherwise harm the forest and its children. After a moment she cupped her hands into the water and drank quietly, and soon the wren that followed her fluttered onto the bank and bathed itself beside her.


"You seem lonely," she said to the bird. "Where are all of your friends?"


Gone gone, it chirped. Left. Scared. Scared.


"Scared of what?"


The wren hopped up from the waters and wiped its beak on the grass. The Change. The Change!


Silvana stilled. The Change? A pulse if dread raced through her abdomen. She couldn't deny that the world felt different, but she'd thought it was because the humans were doing their best to kill it. Was there something else she was missing? The unicorn closed her eyes for a moment. She remembered vividly the day she'd gone back to Cernunnos to tell him of the humans' cities and roads. But he was gone. Vanished. Not like the first time, after she'd returned from her imprisonment. At least she could still feel him in the trees, in the water, in the marks of a stag's antlers in rut. No, now he was truly gone. No matter which forests she went to, all traces of the Lord of the Forest had disappeared. Perhaps this "Change" had something to do with it.

Edited by Shiny Hazard Sign

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Ugh. Hair. She had never liked her hair, even when she took a predominantly human form. When she willingly protected her home village from harm among another Faoladh. The rules had been simple. They ventured out as a wolf for seven years, protecting the forest and the village alike. After those seven years, they were to be replaced by a younger, stronger couple in service.


But none ever showed. No new wolves greeted them. And so, they remained the ageless protectors of the land. But the land disappeared. The skies were blackened with soot and the land was soon covered in steel and asphalt. It wasn't her home. It had become foreign before her eyes. The gods that hailed for her duty fell silent. They disappeared without a trace. So as the people needing protection began to leave, she left too.


That had been so long ago. She watched a beautiful, wild world destroyed by humanity. She couldn't protect human from themselves, could she?


It didn't take long for a beloved guardian to become a cursed beast in an eyes of the people. She was a protector; and always had been. When the gods left, however, man sought for other forms of guidance. Monotheism was a rather new ideal, one that she herself wasn't interested in. It grew wildly popular with man, however, spreading from the isles she called home to the massive piece of wilderness. By this time, no longer could she walk in her wolf form among men.


How long had she been hiding? At this point, it wasn't even hiding. She hadn't abandoned man; man had abandoned her.


A rustle in the flora, and she crept towards her usual hunting place. A fresh mountain stream, trickling down from the Rockies themself. Larger animals had to drink too. But a standing stranger led her to stay hidden in the underbrush. Although the woman most certainly appeared human, Niamh's nose never lied. This was a Druid, perhaps. Maybe one of the Fae. She never encountered many in this land; sidhe especially were never privy to leaving the isles she once called home.


Pale yellow eyes burned from the underbrush, and the woman instinctively crouched on all fours. It was so uncomfortable to do so in this form, but it made her feel safer. A growl rose in her throat, one that sounded neither like a wolf nor a man. When used to living as a beast, the form of a man was the worst form of torture.

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Silvana's fingers entwined with the long grass blades as the wren slid into a sad, lonely song. It was a brown speckled thing and Silvana quite enjoyed the music it made, even if it left a twinge of pity in her heart for the bird's circumstances. Once it fell silent, she lightly stroked the top of its head until it began to bob off into sleep. Cernunnos had taught her how easily it was to calm the little hearts of birds. When she was young, she would often find delight in how birds of dazzling colors would come and settle themselves in His antlers or atop her single horn. Silvana wondered briefly if this wren would have perched itself on her horn, had she been in her true body. Gently, she scooped the bird up into her hands and stood on her feet. Around her the grass had already taken on a few shades of deeper green. The blades she'd touched were lush and fuller, and even the wren's feathers brightened from a dull dust-brown to a rich maple.


In that moment, a peculiar sound vibrated through the air. Silvana hadn't felt the forest shift as it did when humans set foot on its grasses, but when she turned sharply toward the noise, she was startled to make out the outline of a human woman crouched in the brush. Silvana wasn't sure what had surprised her more; the fact that a human hadn't registered in her senses, or the fact that the woman had growled at her. Nothing ever growled at her. Bears and cougars and wolves had willingly sat at her side in her time without so much as a curled lip of warning. Hellhounds moved out of her path when traversing the afterworlds. Even the most fickle housecat submitted to her will when she called for it. She was not one to be growled at.


The wren started at the sound and took to the air with a twitter of alarm. Silvana watched it go with a bit of remorse, and then gazed back down at the person in the bushes. The pale eyes peering out of the undergrowth were intriguing, and not a bit human in the slightest. A dark eyebrow arched over Silvana's mossy green eye. "Just what was that for?" she demanded, though her tone was not unkind. Her accent was closest to Welsh, though inflections of Belgian or possibly French nature slipped in naturally. She reached to her backside where twin swords had been strapped and hidden beneath the cloak, unclasped them in their scabbards, and tossed them both to the ground. "There, does that make you feel better? I've never known a Conroicht to be so hostile." The forest knew this creature, thankfully, as it had given Silvana an idea of whom she was dealing with. That made slightly more sense, given natural predators never approached her with aggression. Something in between might have been a bit more wary.

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Swords? How archaic. Then again, she herself carried a crossbow on her back. And that was the most modern piece of weaponry she owned. But the message was clear: this woman meant no harm. Or, at the very least, she was not armed any longer. Niamh sat the the bushes for a short while to contemplate her options. She could 1) retreat without incident, 2) approach peacefully, or 3) attack. She was here to scope out her prey, and while a woman certainly carried enough meat to last...she didn't have the heart to attack a seemingly peaceful stranger.


It didn't take very long to decide. Niamh crept forward, ducking her head so her scraggly hair would not get caught on the many branches of her cover. Hair got caught anyways. Though, she didn't seem to notice as a sizable chunk was torn from her head and left in the branches of the undergrowth. A long, wavy clump of hair flowed gently in the breeze, tethered only by the foliage.


Eyes narrowed at the stranger, Niamh stood upright to asses the other woman in full. Head slightly tilted, she scoured the woman's appearance for anything that seemed dangerous. Seemingly satisfied, she sat down on the mossy ground. The woman did not speak, however. Instead, she seemed to struggle to form words. Sounds were made, but none of them sounded quite...coherent.


It was as if she had forgotten how to speak (because she had). Years of bearing a different mouth shape in a different skin had rubbed away muscle memory. Seemingly frustrated with this, she scowled and glowered at the running water. How was she supposed to know she was going to speak with someone so soon? Now, she simply couldn't.

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"If you're only looking for your master, why do you need to know that?" Jocelyn responded. For someone with such a simple motivation, the fox certainly seemed to want to intrude on her business more than that. Then again, foxes were endlessly curious, so that was to be expected. Sighing, Jocelyn continued.


"I can't figure out which Ancients we have yet, but once they start to progress, that will become more clear. Jevan will probably know better than I would, anyways. If you must know, however, I am the Ankou. And I did notice you hadn't introduced yourself.


Jocelyn hoped this was enough of an explanation for the fox-girl. Then, the girl who'd just entered, Valerie, asked about the black vomit characteristic of a developing Ancient.


Don't worry about that, there's more coming to be sure.


"Black discharge tends to be a rather common symptom, yes. It is almost universal in every Ancient we have-"


Jocelyn cut herself off, realizing her terminology was likely confusing to them. How very inconsiderate of her!


I'm forgetting they're only human. They are probably panicking on the inside, so it's probably best to be direct about it.. But what if the end result scares them?


Jocelyn picked up her hat and traced her finger along the rim as she explained the reason the humans were aboard this train.


"You were brought here because you're gods. Or at least, you carry the essence of gods in yourselves. It will take some time for your bodies to adjust, so my associate and I plan to keep you alive long enough for this to happen. This way, the order of the universe will be maintained.

Edited by Coryn02

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Silvana remained still as the woman moved out of the brush. She was wearing clothing, which surprised the unicorn a bit, though she did look quite uncomfortable. Her hair was a scraggily mess, and Silvana tsked her tongue softly with disapproval when it snagged on a branch and ripped a decent clump from the woman's head. Conroicht had grooming habits, did they not? As Silvana surveyed her, she wondered how long it had been since the last transformation. Perhaps she was cleanlier as a wolf.


Like disease, filth and grime had no foothold on a unicorn. She was certainly capable of becoming unkempt, but dust never settled on her and dirt never stuck. She could sweat like any other human, yet the body odor commonly associated with such secretion was never produced. Silvana was purity of soul and body, and even her pale skin gave a soft, faint inward glow as if moonshine was trapped in her bones. It wasn't terribly noticeable in daylight, but come nighttime, Silvana tended to draw gazes. It was likely because of this that she found herself so bothered by the woman's disheveled state.


She waited until the Conroicht woman had studied her before dipping her head forwardly lightly in respect. As the woman sat herself on the bank, Silvana sank to her knees so that they were eye-level on the ground. The sounds the woman made were odd, but Silvana got the general idea of what she was trying to do, and held up a hand palm-out to get her attention. "Speak as you know, and I will understand. Human words are of no use to me if you cannot use them," she said. "Or you may change back if you prefer. Either way, I will know you." She raked her fingers through the cool water again and listened to the bubble of the water as it swirled through them. After a moment of watching her company, Silvana gestured toward the wild mane of hair and asked gently, "Would it be amenable to you if I fixed that? Otherwise you're liable to lose more in that state, unless you prefer it that way." Silvana wouldn't blame her if she didn't want some stranger to be touching her hair. After all, wolves were wary creatures and most she'd met in her life required a period of time to earn their trust before they allowed her to invade their personal space. The unicorn placed her fingers on a lock of her own hair and combed through the glossy black curl in example.

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"Have a seat?" he tried offering.


He nodded his thanks and sat, and that was when he noticed the girl beside them.


"No, please, sit. I won't bite...for now."


"Well, aren't you the flirty one," he replies. His headache surged as soon as he sat beside the only other guy in the room and he grimaced. He rubbed his temples to help relieve the pressure. Once he had it down to a manageable level, he began to have his soup. The soup and the familiar burn of the spices felt like heaven after the crap he puked up. "So. Did anyone else have black crap come out of their mouth? I thought I had Ebola until I figured I'd probably be unable to move if I had it."


He nodded to the other girl who introduced herself as Valerie. "Freaky stuff, eh? I'm just glad I have the taste out of my mouth. You should probably have something, some soup at least."


He heard another woman give explanation of their symptoms. "Gods? You mean like Zeus, Odin, and Ra? Those Gods?" he asked, almost wanting to dismiss it out of hand. He knew better though, but for the moment, he thinks he'll keep himself a mystery.

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Ah, Fae were often reasonable with her kind. It had been so lobg since she'd met another being from her home that she had forgotten the usual pleasantries. Visibly softened by the Unicorn's words, Nianh stared across the stream and listened to the other woman's words. Finally, after a long while, she spoke in a comfortable tongue.


"My apologies. Far too much time has passed since I spoke with a man's tongue. You are here because you sensedd it too, no?"


She sighed, snaking her fingers through her hair. It was troubling. Something was happening and she couldn't tell what. Her senses told her to leave, to flee as far away as possible, but her mind was to stubborn. Something was wrong and she'd find out what it was.


"I am Niamh. It is unfortunate we have met in such strange circumstances but...I am pleased to see another of my home."


"Do as you wish. Although it would be much faster to have assistance, untangling my hair is a task I can manage on my own."

Edited by shadow_claw

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The camping trip was a complete bust.


To be fair, they only had themselves to blame for their ineptness. Pestilence (No, they were Gabriel now. They needed to remember that.) had been out partying with some friends, something they were sure their siblings would have heavily disapproved of, when someone brought up the idea of camping. It had been years since Gabriel had gone camping and they were quite sure they hadn’t done so with their current persona. Least to say, they were enamored with the idea of going out and enjoying the great outdoors. As much as they adored the technological world and the ceaseless entertainment it offered them, Gabriel had spent the majority of their life without the aid of their cell phone and they would be lying if they said they didn’t have a soft spot for the outdoors. They had fond memories of spending days outside with old friends and lovers. They could even recall a few tender moments they had with their siblings out in the wilds. Even if such moments were fleeting and Gabriel doubted they would experience such moments anytime soon, if ever again, they were strong enough to make Gabriel yearn for the outdoors.


Gabriel wasn’t exactly sure when things started to go wrong. They gathered what supplies a quick few google searches told them they needed and headed out into the forest. The wifi in the woods was utterly dreadful so they reluctantly turned off their cell phone and paid heed to the forest around them. Seeing life thrive in every corner of the earth never ceased to amaze Gabriel. It was fascinating to watch organisms, from the smallest bacteria to the great trees with their giant roots twisting amongst one another underground, move around and simply exist. The mere concept of life had always captivated Gabriel; even if it was their job to eventually eradicate life from the planet, that didn’t meant they couldn’t appreciate it. Perhaps it was because Gabriel was focused more on sightseeing and enjoying the atmosphere around them that ended up being the problem.


They didn’t really know how the tent caught fire. Gabriel thought that the campfire was a decent distance away from the tent and the rest of their belongings. Evidently, they were wrong. It took about ten minutes to smother the fire. By the end of it, the tent was destroyed and most of their belongings were burnt to a crisp. Were they a human who needed those supplies to survive, Gabriel probably would have been miffed about the entire situation. Luckily for them, they knew how to survive alone in the woods and found the entire event to be borderline hilarious. They made a quick recording of the aftermath, making quick quips about how they nearly died in the fire and, not for the first time that day, they dearly wished for some cellular service so they could post the video to the their friends.


Gabriel gathered what little supplies they had left into a small green backpack and stamped out the last dying embers of the campfire (the last thing Gabriel wanted was to deal with a forest catching on fire) before heading off on their way. They knew they should have stayed in the designated camping site instead of aimlessly marching off into the woods, but where was the fun in that? At the very least, they should have brought someone along so they wouldn’t be bored out of their mind. It was utterly dreadful to walk around in the forest by themselves. How on earth their siblings managed to wander the earth with little to no companionship was beyond their understanding. Maybe that’s why they never came to visit.


Luckily for them, they weren’t the only sentient being in the woods. After about three hours of wandering around, appreciating the outdoors less and less and their desire to text someone grew overbearing, they caught sight of what appeared to be two women. A sigh of relief escaped Gabriel as they yanked a strap of their backpack closer to their body and quickened their pace. It was only until they had just within eyesight did they realize they had not stumbled upon any regular women. Last they checked, there wasn’t a Medieval Renaissance or some sort of con going on in the nearby. Even if there was, that didn’t explain why there was a gorgeous woman in a dress sitting next to a stream and a second woman-pretty in her own way-who was standing on all fours on the other side of the stream. It wasn’t hard to deduce that neither of the two were human. The revelation brought a crooked smile upon Gabriel’s lips. God, how long was it since they had last seen a non-human? A few weeks? Months? Too long, Gabriel decided. It had been far too long.


Gabriel assumed that the two women were natives of the area. They couldn’t possibly imagine why the women would be wandering around a forest in the middle of nowhere. Putting on their most amiable smile, they wandered into view and gave the two strangers a courtesy wave.

“‘Ello, ladies!” Gabriel chimed as they stopped a respectable distance from the two women with their smile still on their face. “Would either of you two have any idea on how to get out of this forest? I seem to be a little lost.” Gabriel was hoping that at least one of the strangers would be kind enough to point them in the right direction. If they had to last another day without wifi, they were going to tear their hair out. They could appreciate the beauty of the outdoors just fine, but their reliance on technology had grown significantly. They were just too darn bored to do without out.

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As the werewolf spoke, Silvana brushed a few waves of her dark hair from her face before trailing a fingertip across the four-pointed-star shaped marking on the center of her forehead. The power there was comforting, and sometimes she could even pretend that through it she could still feel Cernunnos lurking somewhere near by. As the warm wind filtered through the small clearing they sat in, she silently hoped that whatever was coming for their world, it could be eradicated the same way she defended her forests from everything else.


She nodded at Niamh. "I am called Silvana. I have felt...something. At first I thought perhaps it was just the humans, causing havoc as they do," she said, sighing slightly and closing her eyes for a long moment. When she opened them again, she reached forward and slowly took a few ragged ends of Niamh's hair into her fingers and stroked the hairs across her palm, urging the tangles to unravel at her touch. She continued in a softer, weary voice, "But now I fear it's something else. I've spent so long moving from forest to forest, I thought they were all telling me the same thing." A few of the knots came loose in her hands and she lightly tugged on some of the strands as debris sprinkled down into the grass. She plucked a couple leaves and a broken twig from Niamh's hair and tossed them into the stream. "How long have you been here, my lady? 'Tis very far from our old home. I have not seen it in centuries."


The energy of the forest wavered. She felt it immediately and sat straighter. There was a stranger about, but human? Silvana frowned. The earth seemed to shudder beneath her as she twisted about, looking for the source of the disturbance. And then she saw it. A human-- no, not possibly a human-- entered the clearing and waved, smiling all the while.


Silvana did not smile. She sat and stared. The hum of the forest became increasingly irregular and agitated, and slowly Silvana's eyes widened with recognition. Then, quite suddenly, Silvana leapt to her feet. The movement was fluid and elegant, far more so than any human would have been able to manage; it was if a deer had sprung upwards instead of a woman. The sunlight filtering through the canopy caught on the brilliant silver irises that took the place of Silvana's mossy green eyes. There was a wild element to her now, and for a second the unicorn's human body shimmered as if it were about to lose the shape it held. Then, with a sharp gasp, her body regained its composition, and the shining silver in her eyes returned to a deep green.


Silvana had met Death before; in some aspects of her life, she was a harbringer of it. In others, she was the protector from it. But never had she ever thought she would come face to face to the very entity she was created to oppose. The Herald of Purity meets Disease incarnate; the very air felt alive with electric conflict and the star on her brow ached from it. "Impossible," she breathed, the hint of amazement in the hush of her voice. She felt the grass beneath her feet and how the roots pulsed in confusion. Perhaps this one's power was not a constant like her own-- perhaps it was more purposeful, whereas Silvana simply exuded it. Her head tilted slightly as she studied the person standing yards away. Her initial surprise and wild alarm melted into something more stoic and guarded while she stared. "You are lost," she repeated after a moment, as if clarifying what they said. Silvana glanced over at Niamh and then back at the stranger. How simple it would be to send them back toward human civilization, where they no doubt blended quite wonderfully among the wretched and polluted cities and souls of humanity. Her lip curled slightly at the thought. "Yes, you certainly are."


The last thing Silvana wanted was someone like them traversing through the forest doing Gods knew what. As much as she would hate to be in close proximity, there was only one way to ensure that this creature's affect on the forest didn't do lasting damage. Nothing she couldn't undo, but this forest didn't need to suffer more than it already was. Silvana exhaled noisily. Turning to Niamh, she placed a light hand on the woman's shoulder. "You can remain here if you wish, and I will return," she said softly, before looking back to the stranger with narrowed eyes. To them, she tilted her head toward the path she'd taken into the forest and held a hand out in the direction of the trees. "Come. I will show you the way out." Around her, the forest seemed to ripple, and she had no doubt it was trying to figure out how this bizarre and sudden juxtaposition would affect itself.

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((EDIT: Oh neat, page two.))


Jocelyn nodded. "Among others. If you're curious, I could probably tell you which you are."


While it was rather vague, she could identify the power and personality within a living creature. Most humans were simple gray essences. But godlings had two souls within them; the soul of the vessel, whatever poor mortal was born into that body, and the vibrant and chaotic magical soul of the god.


Though the sad truth was that they never remained two for long... Best not to tell them.


Jocelyn set her hat down again, and took off the cloak she wore. Now that she was inside the train again, there wasn't much need to wear both a cloak and a coat. Even so, the cold never bothered her much anyhow, making it more of a fashion statement.


She looked around the room once again; two boys, a girl named Valerie, the kitsune, and herself.


"I'd appreciate it if the rest of you introduced yourselves; it helps me keep everyone in mind." Jocelyn said, now standing instead of leaning against the wall.

Edited by Coryn02

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Niamh's lips quirked upwards as the other woman spoke. What a nice thought. But no, this was not the work of man. She would have smelled them lurking this land. But it was unusual for her not to sense danger. Perhaps she wasn't as in tune with the world as she had believed. Something was falling out of sync. It has been long past seven years since her last change into her human form. Balance was important in her gift and...She had been off balance for far too long.


"Men are easy to track. This...is not man."

It was surprising, how easily the other woman could sort such unruly locks. Niamh was always too rough with her hair, but this creature...it was effortless for her.

"Ah, it has been many a year. Too many to count."

The slightest dip in the forest's energy, and Niamh stiffened. Her form lurched slightly, blurring for a few seconds out of sheer distress. When she managed to regain composure, her eyes glowed with hostility.


Silvana handled the situation much better than the wolf ever could have. Remaining silent, yellow eyes followed the stranger relentlessly. The soft hand on her shoulder seemed to calm Niamh, albeit slightly. Rising to her feet, she was quick to follow after the two. She was a guardian. She would protect this sister from this...monster. Quiet, but ultimately a rather loud presence, Niamh followed intently at Gabriel's heels as Silvana led them out.


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Liam shifted in his seat as more bodies occupied the table he sat at. Seriously. Couldn't they sit in any of the other empty tables? Trying to ignore his flair of irritation, the young man focused his attention briefly on the plate of food he'd grabbed. His appetite had gone right out the window, what with the jump-scare he'd gotten from the... Kitsune. But, not sure of what else to do (and not wanting to look like an excessive waster), he plucked up the bread and began to nibble on it.


So far, only two names had been given: Jocelyn and Valerie. Valerie nudged his arm as both she and the other man brought up the black goop they'd apparently vomited up like he had. Jocelyn mentioned it was a common symptom? "What's common about black puke?" Liam grumbled sourly. He didn't meet anyone's eyes, staring at his bread and his plate. "Uh... I'm Liam," he introduced, clearing his throat and speaking up a little louder so he wasn't misheard. Or ignored, like some of his questions seemed to be.


Either that, or Jocelyn was being vague on purpose.


"We can't be gods," Liam spat, his frustration growing as his heart rate increased. Fox girl probably smelled his growing fear, and damn it he didn't like to be afraid! But, what else could he be feeling? After being kidnapped, unconscious, amnesiac, and downright ill, Liam thought himself lucky to be angry underneath fearful.


Well, if he ignored the fact that he didn't know why he was angry. He understood being afraid but not angry.


Ripping a bigger bite out of his bread, Liam swallowed the bit of food before continuing, trying not to sound so irritated. "We're just humans! Besides, gods don't exist," he hissed. He hissed for a second longer than was necessary, causing him to bite the inside of his cheek when he realized what he was doing. Rubbing furiously at his sternum for a moment, Liam clamped his mouth shut then and inhaled slowly through his nostrils. "Whatever wacked up dream you woke up from, it ain't real. That's why this is called reality." His words were dipped in salt and venom, and he cleared his throat again.


Frowning at his bread, he pointedly avoided everyone's eyes again. Normally, he wasn't so... vehement, towards others. So why the hell was he snarking at everyone? His skin was prickling from the close proximity of the soup guy. At first, he thought it was just generally the number of others so close but, when he thought about it, he narrowed it down to just the one man. Maybe it was just bad-people vibes; he was always told to trust his gut. Perhaps his gut thought there was bad news about the other man.


Rubbing his face with both hands (after dropping the mostly-eaten bread back onto his plate), Liam sighed tiredly. "I want to know what the censorkip.gif's going on, beginning to end with all the details. Why did you kidnap us? Why the hell are we here? And who the censorkip.gif is this partner!"

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The boy is being argumentative for no reason! Why can't he see I'm trying to help him?


Jocelyn sighed, exasperated. "I already answered those questions. Your lives are in danger, so we're taking you to somewhere safe so you won't be, say, murdered in your beds at some point. Jevan will probably show up later, so I don't think I need to say much about him."


This was true; Jevan was enough of an individual that any description Jocelyn could create would be inferior. Though Jevan wasn't really as inclined to conversation as she.


"But I can tell you're still skeptical. If someone told you any of the things I've said and asked you to go with them, would you have paid them any attention? I'm trying to help you, so stop treating me like the enemy."


Jocelyn did her best to stop frowning, and perused the food set out. While she was hungry and the food looked delicious, it was specifically for the Ancients, and at any rate, she had long lost the need to feed herself. But perhaps, it couldn't hurt to take something...


She took a plate and served herself buttered bread, some cheese, and a cluster of grapes. Jocelyn silently took a seat apart from the others and began to eat. She was entirely focused on her food to all appearances, but was still listening intently should the Ancients continue to converse with one another.

Edited by Coryn02

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Merula slept. She dreamed of many things. Disjointed images and sounds and smells, of sweat, of the sounds of battle. Screams. Iron and copper and bronze clashing, of the smell of blood and death. She dreamed of battle and of fireside rituals, of ancient druidic rites. She dreamed of sex and violence and blood and uncountable other things. This was nothing new, but it was significantly less psychadelic than usual. What was new in her dreams were two things; the whispered, raspy voice of a woman-- or perhaps, three women-- both old hag and young lady, of something ancient and powerful. The other was the damn ravens. They were everywhere in her dreams, big black birds that remained alongside the voice as a single fixed point in a chaotic slideshow of death and other things.


It was like her high school health class power-point on saying no to drugs.


She woke suddenly to darkness, utter darkness, and blinked. This was not the gutter she had passed out in. Shame, that was a very comfy gutter, too, as far gutters went. The dream faded from her mind, already faint and fading before she could grasp at it. She tried to stretch, and a series of cracks filled the air-- jeez, she was cracking and popping like an old lady. She enjoyed the sensations until she was stopped by her hands bumping into something. A wall? She felt around, and realized she was covered with soft things. Clothes? Her own shirt felt wet, for some reason.


She reached forward, and felt her hand bump into something different. A door. She felt down for the knob and tried to turn it. Nothing. Oh, goddangit. She was locked in a closet. Again.


"Third time this week." She sighed. Still, the door felt pretty fragile, that's for sure. Maybe she could just...break it? She took a moment to collect herself before she suddenly put her body into motion, slamming her shoulder against the locked door.


Outside, both the door and the chair pushed against it jolted a bit, but otherwise didn't give. A minute later there came a quiet, almost pitiful "ow".

Edited by radicalDichotomy

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