Begin - Destin

Character Biographies, Journals, and Stories

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Begin - Destin

Unread post by RedLancer » Sat Feb 04, 2017 2:04 am

I write as I think, I think as I speak. "Where to begin?" A storyteller claps her callused hands together and grins, her eyes already afire with the story to tell. Whence begun? The beginning is always the beginning, the one spot the fable is birthed. Unearthed, little lies spun into delicate secrets, precious and priceless and perfect. They drift in an ocean unplumbed and limitless, felicitous, untethered save for the shadows they cast when light presses against them.

I chase dangerous things, and it's plain for plain eyes. No guise, little grace, a face that bleeds true things at every cut. I like what I am, not what I do ... or what it does to me.

A chamber, cavernous and dark, save for a meek torch hung overhead. Its sickly light cast twisting shadows over the two men beneath it. One faced the other.

"What do you think of this box?"

Destin looked at the box. "I wonder what's inside of it."

"What do you think is inside of the box?"

"Something precious."

A man held the small, plain, brown wooden box in hands wrapped in black leather. He was tall and lithe, his thin form shrouded in a long, gray robe that hugged his narrow shoulders thanks to the black tunic that cased him over top of it. His belt squeezed his mean waist and hung two articles: a curved dagger in a curved sheath and a red sash, its border dressed in silver and its face inlaid in symbols and runes that Destin could not understand.

"Why something precious?" asked the man. One of his gloved hands danced over the face of the box and tripped its latch. A simple sound, a snik of a simple machine performing its simple task. He left the lid closed.

"Why else a box, but for something darling?" Destin tilted his head toward his right shoulder, and the little crease in his blond brow appended the question.

"What precious thing, precisely?"

"A note."

"A note from whom."

"A note from a lover."

"You don't spare much time to considering these questions, Destin." The gaunt man with the simple box tipped his chin toward his chest. His eyes, brown and weighty, stared down his thin nose at the younger man.

The younger man shrugged, his frame weaving through the judgment as a snake through sand. "They're my answers; ought they not come quickly?"

"You think that in this box, I keep a note from a lover."


"Ah. I understand." The man with the box pressed his lips into a thin and prescient smile. He lifted the box's lid. Within the plain vessel rested a plain stone, uneven and perhaps the size of a large man's thumb. He lifted his left brow. "What do you think of this precious thing?"

"This is your precious thing?"

"It is. You may inspect it."

Destin began to reach for the stone but withdrew his hand. His eyes, blue and deepening for the gloom around them, fell over the item, and the right corner of his mouth twitched: a grimace.

"A stone, plucked from the earth, without worth, tucked in a box as simple as the stone it cases. What places has it been, that it comes here, thrums here, with the bass of a fell heart, and what part played the priest, when and whence, to have such a thing, censed by solemn query?"

"That's enough." The man with the simple box snapped it closed and fit its latch in place. "Erin."

A woman, lithe of form, stepped from the darkness. Raven hair tumbled past her slender shoulders, and the torchlight painted a flickering smile over her lips. Her eyes were brown as well, rich as rain-wet earth and dancing more vibrantly than the fickle flame overhead.

"He is yet yours. You may begin when it suits." The man with the box turned and moved away, his leather soles softly scuffing the stone until the sound of a wooden door lurching open and crashing closed heralded his absence.

"Destin," she breathed, and she laid her black-gloved hand over his chest, her palm pressed over his heart. "Suzail ought to have been the last of us, we farewelled so completely. Here you've come, to ruin a good goodbye."

His heart quickened against her pressing palm, anxious, angry, excited. He found himself reaching to caress a delicate cheek he knew he resented. "I didn't know this road led this way."

"Please, Destin. You lust for sweet suffering. And now you'll set your life to it."

"You don't seem like you've been suffering."

"I'm different, Destin. You're delicate."

He growled, as much as a delicate man can. Erin laughed, bright and delighted, her mirth caroming shrill from the black, empty walls. She stilled and lifted her lips to his jaw, feathered a delicate kiss against its angular slope. "We could have Suzail tonight, Destin, but once we begin tomorrow, that tale ends."

Destin shifted again, slipping away into the black, direct for a door and a path to a night's solitude. "I'll see you tomorrow. When we begin."

Erin laughed again, an amused and muffled chuckle caught behind smiling lips. "Sweet dreams for you, Destin."

He flung the door open and strode out into a courtyard. The moon was bright overhead, tinting the stone paths blue. The air was crisp, clean. Wintry. Destin folded his arms over each other, rolling his shoulders forward and bowing his head as he sought his quarters and his rest. It would have been a good night to share a bed.

"... damn it."
Last edited by RedLancer on Sun Jun 25, 2017 1:50 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Begin - Destin

Unread post by RedLancer » Sun Feb 12, 2017 10:29 pm

Begin again, at the beginning this time. It was a playful smile, hard earned with a delicate rhyme placed just so, and then heart spurned, she spurred to greater heights when the next rung came clear, and he, chasing, a tragic lover reaching for heavens and grasping air, desperate fingers closing 'round nothing at all. "Fall," she begged him, her soothing call warm in his eager ear, and he did hear, and slipped away through empty atmosphere. Because he promised.
"You are late, Destin."

He winced. It wasn't the welts dotting his arms and his thighs. It wasn't the purple swell on his cheek or the cut over his eye. It wasn't the slow limp of a man whose body has been urged beyond its ability, the stiff-hipped walk of legs that are simply done. The Purple Dragons were no poor man's army, and its Knights were honored as peerlessly courageous and proficient. Destin hoped to be such a knight, one day. But no, it was the voice: feminine and soft and self-possessed, and it said a thousand things where only one was uttered.

"They asked me to be," he said, and he closed the door to his apartment behind him. One night of the last twenty was supposed to be theirs, this one, and he was late. "Sparring."


"Just me."

"Just you. Why?" She shifted, and his eyes flitted to the rustle of thin silk: a slate-blue gown, same as her eyes, lovely and cut alluring. Her hair, long and blond and pale and perfect, to his reckoning, spilled over her shoulders. No hood to hide her features. No downward cast to evade his loving eyes. Tonight was supposed to be memorable. She stood by his meager table, its surface bare; whatever festival she had planned, she abandoned.

Destin clutched his shirt over his heart, the linen stained with sweat and dust and blood, streaks of rust cutting over what surely should have been white. "I ... am 'uniquely dispossessed of ability,' the captain said."

"That is not how he said it."

"I would never speak that way to you."

"I would be happy that you spoke at all."

"That isn't fair, Alexandra. You are jus-"

"Not tonight, I was not." She was so calm. That was never good for him, when she should have been shaking with rage or tempestuous with tears. She wouldn't even wring her hands; they just sat there, fingers threaded and hung over her pelvis. Dignified. "Not tonight, and you said you would not be."

"I ... didn't expect to be." Destin flushed. Panic. His blood came pumping between his ears, its dull bass breaking his thought.

"I think it has been enough, Destin."

The pumping stopped. He looked up from the floor; he hadn't even realized he'd been looking at the floor. She looked peaceful enough. "What?"

"I cannot have these disappointments, Destin. My schooling and training are incredibly demanding; every moment with you is a sacrifice ... that I have been glad to make, but-"

"I sacrifice, too, Alexandra. Don't paint yourself a martyr; you know what I'm going through, how hard this is. If-"

A flash of fire in slate-blue eyes. Hope.

"Destin." She closed her eyes, opened them. Extinguished. "I know, Destin. And I know that it is best that we end this relationship, that you can better reach for your aspirations and I can attain mine."

Destin tugged at his collar, like the loose and wrung linen might have choked him. He couldn't feel the fabric in his hands, but it must have been there. "No. I ... Alexandra, I love you."

"I know, Destin. And I know that you want me to achieve everything I desire, and that you would do anything to make it so. I know that you will let me go."

His head fell, and he saw the floor in time to watch a droplet crash against its wooden face and splutter into a mean pool. He stepped away, toward anything, and abandoned her path from his apartment, from him. Her silk whispered her departure, her footfalls silent and steady.

"Destin." She stood in the doorway he hadn't yet closed, her beauty somber and cased in a halo from the hallway's torchlight. He looked toward her voice, credulous optimism lifting his brow.

"Destin," she said again, "would that you were as capable as your heart noble, you could have everything." And she left.

Destin wept, stood and ugly until his spent fiber could stand no longer, and he sunk to his bed and wept still. Sleep never came before the morning, when a courier delivered a small package: a box wrapped simply and taken by hands still caked with earth and salt and blood. He opened the parcel with fumbling digits: letters, poems, notes. Eighteen months of them, kept carefully until this moment, and returned when he most wished to see nothing of him.

The box may as well have held his heart.

I find sleep 'neath every moon
to an imagined whisper, the promise that soon
the heat of your breath that I swear I can sense on my lips
will touch my ear, and I will hear
you murmur true that you knew
my heart ached for its mate,
and yours, too, because fate
wound our paths to one.

I have begun to love you,
and I have begun to fear I will never cease.
I am tethered, whether you wished,
and I shrift I am yours ever until released,
by your will alone.

The paper was already burning before he had finished the last of it, given to his room's hearth. So, too, its two-score brethren, oaths so carefully kept. Destin moved to his desk, and from its central drawer removed another note, penned and signed and not yet sent. It was unlike the others; it did not dance or rhyme. Sincerely and simply, it asked permission. He lent this to the flame last of all.
Last edited by RedLancer on Sun Jun 25, 2017 1:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Begin - Destin

Unread post by RedLancer » Mon Feb 27, 2017 4:57 pm

My heart, borne through page
that fool or sage in any age
would know that I loved
with fire and rage, and on that stage
I was peerless.
But the wage of a careless sortee
is a wounded and wandering love,
ungloved and desperate,
to be taken by willing hands,
and so mars perfection, twin souls twained,
stained with the tears of twin hearts
that weep for the other
and dare not reach out.

"Will you be attending?" Red robes, bald head, an implacable sneer: the khazark of the Thayan Enclave always made a show of civility toward Destin. Mayhap he didn't know they were enemies. Mayhap he didn't know that he'd costed the luckless poet everything.

"Attending," Destin echoed. He watched the Red Wizard from within his own hood. He bent his ear toward his right shoulder.

"The wedding, between Wren Di'Corvi and Maximillian Blackthorne."

Destin couldn't see the wizard anymore. The air just in front of him was opaque, a clear, empty, impenetrable wall of nothing. His periphery, gone, and the wizard's ensuing speech slowly left off its low droning and became something intelligible again.

"You hadn't heard. Well, it should not surprise you. She ran the same place the last time you couldn't be found."

It was a day later, perhaps two, that the black-and-iron-clad poet stood at a small fire, just beyond the gate of the city named for it, alone but for the breeze and the distant lowing of docile cattle and the wagons treading to and fro near the settlement. A stack of parchment flopped to the earth near his feet, and a small voice, tremulous and broken, came from behind him.

"Why?" it asked, and Destin turned to see its source, a retreating woman in black garb and cloak, her silver tresses peeking beyond the hem of her cowl. Destin let her run, and he stooped to collect the papers, all inked by his hand, his words and his love made permanent for her eyes and her heart. He checked over his shoulder; gone. Eyes fled back to his works, his prose, and with a small breath that parted his lips, he gave his love to the fire, and he watched it burn until there remained ash and ember.

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Re: Begin - Destin

Unread post by RedLancer » Mon Mar 13, 2017 1:59 pm

He turned his key in the lock to his apartment in the Helm and Cloak and pushed the door open. It swung easily, its hinges always well oiled, always well kept, and the room's walls were touched with low light, soft and orange from the smoldering hearth. He stood just without and looked up, to the ceiling painted with the pursuit of pleasure. He breathed out, a soft and wry laugh, and passed through. He curled his fingertips around the edge of the yawning portal and pulled the door closed, kicked off his waterlogged boots and cast them near the fire.

He found his mirror and stood in front of himself. His clothes were hung and twisted, wrung from hands squeezing water from them; they'd been soaked through. He smiled again, laughed again, and pulled his shirt overhead, slung it carelessly to the floor. His trousers were rolled to his knees, and silver bracelets still ringed his arms, something he'd affected for the last night's performance. He sat at his desk and plumbed its side drawer. He pulled free a tindertwig and struck it afire, then set the fledgling fire to the candle that headed his desk. He quenched the first flame with a short puff of breath pushed through pursed lips. A white feather sat patiently on his desk's face, and he took it in hand, and so, too, a small knife. With a small cut, he made a quill of the thing, and he pulled a thick book to his center, and he thumbed through page after page until one blank was found. He dipped his new quill in black ink, its painted tip stark against its alabaster vane, and he put it to the page.
"You're straying, Destin." The gaunt and severe priest stood behind a stone table, his box set upon its surface.

"That doesn't sound like me." Destin stood on the other side of the table, some steps back. He was cased in black plate, trapped in the arms of his faith.

The priest didn't try to hide his contempt; his sneer was plain enough. "You were given a name."

"It was the wrong name."

"That's not for your judgment."

"So long as I answer to my conscience, it's only for my judgment."

The priest's right hand opened, and his black-gloved fingers reached for the box upon the table. They stopped short and curled back into his palm. "I sensed you would be too delicate for the task. I dispatched seconds to ensure its completion."

"I know. They weren't successful."

The priest's left eye twitched. "What did you do?"

Destin's right hand crossed his body, into the folds of his cloak, and withdrew a mask, then another, set upon the table to face the priest and his box. The priest's hand snapped open, and his fingers bent over the lid of the box.

"Destin." The name was too easy to say through clenched teeth. "You must be killed for this."

"You must die for the attempt." He had already worked free his spear from its harness, and he placed his own mask, black and shot with three white, jagged bolts along its face, over his own.

The priest snapped open the box, showing the stone within. Destin felt it, then, far more keenly than the first time: a gale of darkness and despair, of malcontent and misery and bitter resentment. His knees buckled, and one scraped stone as he bent under the weight of the artifact's sentiment. The priest took slow, imperious steps around the stone table, deliberately freeing his curved knife of its scabbard. He stopped a few paces short of the rebellious oathsworn.

"Satisfy me this once, Destin." Too easy to say through clenched teeth. "What does it feel like? Paint it pretty with your little poetry."

Destin stood full and reached, deliberately, like a man might for a knocked-upon door, and pushed his spear through the other man's breast. The dark chamber was shocked white at the sudden sundering of so many wards, and they both stood blind for a breath, until dancing torchlight again dressed their struggle.

Destin's eyes had come ice blue and stood stark against his mask. He slipped his hand down the length of the spear's shaft, until his knuckles were dressed in the priest's blood where his hand closed around the weapon.

"It felt like a broken heart." He eased the dead man to the floor and held him against the stone with his boot as he pulled his spear free, and then he stepped around the table and closed the box.

"You cannot stay here, Destin." Erin's voice came clear from the darkened corners of the chamber; just as poor an assassin as Destin, for once.

He had already made for the door.
He looked over his script, playful in gambol candlelight, and took his knife up once more, glazing its blade with the candle's heated wax and dotting the writ-upon parchment. He then reached behind his right ear and freed the wildflower that had been tucked there, set it on the paper to be held by the wax. Its petals were blue, tipped with lilac, and on the page, he had named it perfectly. He closed the heavy book and left it centered upon his desk, and he left the second flame burning. He left his chair and mounted his bed, lying atop its covers, hands clasped behind his head and clutching still-damp hair. He watched the ceiling's shadows until sleep came.

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Re: Begin - Destin

Unread post by RedLancer » Fri Apr 07, 2017 2:55 pm

Fog waits in the dreaming, a veil pierced to show happy and unkind things, the wandering wondering of an unconscious mind, truth as I will it, or fear it, sand to grasp and spill through clenched fingers into the basin of an hourglass until the bowl is full. The veil comes closed, and eyes open to the obscured.

There is a hand, lovely, and mine to grasp, to entwine as I rasp, and she, the same, clasps, and breathes my wind, shares her sin to bind with mine. Her skin is holy fire; it purges my weakness, sustains my desperate heart, and it burns. It burns, and she cries out to be consumed. I look for what my hand holds, and its mate is gone; it squeezes the handle of a sword, and promises are scripted on its blade. Its steel is cold.

Destin sat in a crude chair in a small room: a cell, meant for one, lit by a lone torch. But four were within: Destin, and three of the Flaming Fist, clad in their shining armor and bold tabards. A simple, wooden table breached the space between Destin and his questioner, Investigator Graytalker. The investigator stared at the questioned through the visor of his helmet, the grim set of his mouth betraying nothing. Graytalker leaned forward, just barely.

"How did you know-" A knock came at the heavy door. "What?"

"Sir," came the reply from the Fist, his voice carrying through the eye slat. "An Alexandra Keenan, of Candlekeep. She says she's here for the suspect."

Graytalker looked to Destin. "Well? You're allowed a witness. Do you wish her here?"

Destin smiled. "The Guide of Candlekeep. I do."

"Mm. Show her in."

A half-orc, garbed as the Fist, pulled the door open from within, and the young Guide of Candlekeep stepped through. Another Fist brought her a chair straightaway, alongside Destin's, and she sat straightaway with murmured thanks for the kindness.

"So." Graytalker looked back to the suspect. "What was your relationship with the deceased?"

Destin's gaze lowered to the table, tracing a crack in its surface. "We were lovers for a time. ... Alexandra, you've come just in time." The man allowed himself a small smile. It didn't quite reach his eyes.
The silver-haired woman crushed a white feather in her fist. Slowly, her fingers eased and uncurled from the thing. "Rose couldn't save Alessia, Destin. The harder she tried, the worse she'd make it."

Destin gripped the wooden banister that kept the floor of the Elfsong's outdoor tavern from the street just beyond. His eyes were set ahead, toward the Thayan Enclave looming just across the way.

"I've nothing in hand to argue the point."

Wren Di'Corvi's teeth closed over her lower lip, and she took hesitant steps toward the man's back. "I hate to think, Destin, that the last thing I might see of you is your back. Will you at least turn around one last time?"

The man didn't move. "I don't fathom there's aught else to say, Wren."

Darkhold's herald fussed with the white feather, smoothing its vane before she tucked it into her hair. "I feel as if I have a thousand things to say, things I nearly wrote, would have written, but ... I suppose the truth is I wanted to be near you, to hear you, to see you, and now all you'll grant is the back of your head."

"However you want those things, you want else moreso, else you've chosen odd." The man's grip upon the wooden rail eased, but still he wouldn't turn. "What happiness for me, to look upon you, to burn your flesh to vibrant memory, that you can better torment me when there's naught else to see? That I can better regret your absence, and imagine you clung to your husband's arm in your black halls? You'd like granted more than a glimpse of me; I'd like granted peace. Whence my satisfaction?"

"If you'd rather gaze upon the gardens of Thay, so be it. At least my naked and humiliated form resides not there, captured in stone as the Khazark desired." Destin flinched, a quirk of his right cheek. "Will you at least listen?"

"I always listen." The man turned, finally, and he set himself against the barrier.

The woman reached into her hair again, and she plucked the feather from the tangle of silver tresses. "This means," she said, her sapphired eyes fallen upon the token, "I won't have much time."
One of the Fists took an object from the corner of the cell and placed it upon the table: a crossbow.

"Have you ever seen this weapon before?" The investigator's mouth curled into something of a smirk, an odd line beneath his visored visage.

"I haven't," Destin answered. Alexandra Keenan, Guide of Candlekeep, leaned toward him, and Destin's eyes turned toward her lap as she whispered into his left ear.

"They tried the same with Ameris, Destin," she murmured. "They found the crossbow that killed Wren in his chambers in the temple of Ilmater."

Destin looked for the eyes of the woman, and he thanked her with the barest smile before he looked back to the investigator.

"This was found under the bed in suite twenty-one at the Helm and Cloak," the investigator carried on. "You know that room, don't you?"

"I stay there."

"You stay there. Do you know how to use a crossbow, Destin?"

Destin nodded. "I learned their use when I was enlisted in the Purple Dragons." His eyes flitted aside toward Alexandra. The woman scribbled furiously upon a stack of parchment. Her rhythm broke, a brief pause in her writing before she grasped again the pen and carried on. "But that's not my weapon. I've never owned one."

The investigator's mouth flattened into its familiar grim line. "A witness said you spoke with Ameris Santraeger on the day of Wren Di'Corvi's murder."

"That's true."

"What did you speak of?"

"The conversation wandered, but in main, Alexandra Keenan's relationship with Eldarian Al'maire ... and its dissolution." Destin again looked aside at the Guide. She wrote for another breath, and she looked aside at Destin, her slate-blue eyes fierce and unwavering. Destin looked back to the investigator.

"Another witness has you speaking with Wren Di'Corvi on the day of her murder."

Destin's head canted toward his right shoulder. "A witness is mistaken. The last I spoke to her was days before; I'm not sure how many."

"What did you two discuss?"

"The assassin she was hunting, this Mother Night. She told me that she'd received a white feather from them, that she was likely going to be killed soon."

The investigator bucked his chair forward, its wooden feet scrawling across the stone floor as he set his plated forearms on the table. "What were your last words to her, Destin?"

Destin looked past the investigator, to the wall behind him, its surface cast in murk and gloom. "Goodbye, Wren."
"You've a promise to keep." Destin answered, his arms folded over his chest.

"I do." Wren's trembling hand offered the white feather to the man. "I ... made a mess of things, Destin. This life isn't meant for us."

Destin reached for the feather, delicately took it between his forefinger and thumb. "You mustn't be fatal with your wedding upon you. Your husband and his protected you before, and wherefore your love. You ought have faith in him again."

She shook her head. "You do not know what we face. I don't, fully, but I know enough."

Destin's eyes picked over the strands of the feather. "I know little of most, and neither fear. It costs me everything." The woman stepped over to the fence and set her back against it. Destin took a small step away, to his left. "You ought have confidence in the people you've chosen to keep close."

"Was I wrong, Destin, to choose being loved? To choose what was steadfast and strong, to forswear an empty bed, to try and be happy?"

"For all that, you don't seem happy." Destin slowly spun the feather between his fingers, his eyes intent on the task. "That's enough of an answer."

"You came back, Destin, and it reminds me, each time I see you, of the half that I lost."

"I promised I would. And to hear ..." He broke off, drawing his lips into his mouth, shaking his head. "There's naught else. Let me go, Wren."

She raised her arms, digging the heels of her hands into her eyes. "You stand there and say you came back because you promised, spitting contempt at me as an oathbreaker, condemning me."

His lips parted, but no air came forth, no sound. He yet gazed upon the feather; he'd ceased its twisting. "... Then remember me with bitterness. Goodbye, Wren."

Her chest rose and fell with a slow-drawn breath. "Here's another promise, then, one you will not believe. I'll keep it anyway. Look for me in the world beyond this. I'll be waiting." She pushed away from the wooden fence, steps silent but for the jingling of tiny bells. She drew her hood overhead, burying silver hair in its black folds as she weaved into the street.

Destin watched her go. He spoke to an empty breeze. "You'll not be mine to find."
What happy heart clings to a spear, its part sundering fear, though he knows not its sense? Whence its hope for itself, wound up in the hopes of any other, to strike balance for one without the weight to move the scale? It grasps water, and it remembers being wet and immersed, but it drips clean, a drop left in an empty palm until gone for sun or wind or a careless turn. It yearns to be doused or drenched, quenched and stoked again, and it loves the rain. Thunder cracks overhead; what's willed is delivered, but he draws up his hood.

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Re: Begin - Destin

Unread post by RedLancer » Tue May 30, 2017 12:30 pm

Take this thing, clutch it close, remember whence it came, and it's the same for you, broken soul: a thing fractured and set apart comes not again to its first place. It means not what it did at its gifting, delicate thing, and stands harsh against the sentiment. Little dove, you were not meant for death, and you did not die, but you're killing me.


Destin crashed to the earth, sprawled on his face as his training vest gathered the blood-and-sweat-seasoned earth into its fibers. His wooden sparring sword was pinned to the ground beneath his open hand; he curled his fingers around its handle, and he came up on his elbow, on his knee. Blood dropped from his face and pattered pathetically; it came from his lip.

"By the gods, Destin." The swordcaptain's voice sounded over a smattering of laughter and ironic applause. She sounded bored, exasperated. "You. Are. Awful."

Destin gathered up and sat on his heels. He brought his empty hand to his mouth, pulled it away and considered a pair of red-glossed fingertips. "That has occurred to me."

"Boys and girls, it has occurred to him." The company laughed. "Destin, has it occurred to you to suck less?"

Destin scooped a handful of loose earth into his hand and stood. He leaned his wooden sword against his leg and ground the dirt into his palms, letting it spill lazily from the friction in his skin. He reached down and squeezed the handle of his weapon between his first and second fingers, and a flick of his wrist sent it swinging into his grasp. He looked at the swordcaptain in his way, his features streaked with gritty brown lines where sweat trickled from his brow. She rolled her eyes and flippantly gestured to a man standing just at her left.

"First Sword Ansem, you're in. Don't drag it out."

Ansem Blackmantle was like Destin Owlspur in many ways. Tall, blond, son of an impossibly minor noble house. Not nearly so pretty as the Owlspur heir, but he was cut from keen steel, and in the two years he and Destin had served in the same company, he'd distinguished himself with incredible prowess and valor and was definitively their company's First Sword.

Destin thought the man's eyes looked dispassionate as they touched swords to start their duel. He was staring at the sky just after, watching the sun burn orange as the long day neared its end. Ansem tapped him twice on the bottom of his boot with the flat of his training sword as he wheeled around to step back into the ring of Dragons circling the bettered poet. Destin prodded his calf where the First Sword had struck. Not even tender; the First Sword had taken his legs from under him with impeccable control. Sweet, merciful Ansem.

"Yeah, that'll do it. Everyone but Destin, get your gear cleaned and to the quartermaster, and head on home. Owlspur, don't move."

The circle broke into pockets of twos and threes as the men and women walked away, already stripping their training arms as they went. Destin drew his knees up and laid his forearms over them, and a breeze swelled over the emptying grounds. He turned his face toward the wind, letting it dull his glistening skin. His brow hung low, a little shield against the dusking sun, and an encroaching shadow drew his eyes upward to the looming silhouette.

"What in the hells, Destin?"

"You are displeased with my performance, Swordcaptain Veyla."

"Nothing gets past you."

Destin turned an empty hand over, hung over his knee. "I welcome your criticism."

"How about giving a damn?"

Destin turned his empty hand back over and breathed out an empty breath through a nose that, miraculously, had kept its shape through so many beatings and embarrassments. Veyla dropped to the ground and sat cross-legged in front of the man.

"What happened, Destin? Your first year, you pushed it. You pushed hard." She drug her hand along the ground and threw a palmful of debris against the beaten man's chest. He didn't flinch, but he did watch the broken earth scatter below. "You were never going to set the world on fire with your swordplay, but you were going to be fine. Command thought they might move you into leadership training. Now . . . now, I'm looking at a different Blade."

"That all sounds true to me."

"Yeah?" Swordcaptain Veyla quirked a brow impossibly high, expectant.

"I've lost my heart."

"For this?"


"Owlspur, when you signed up, you wrote that you wouldn't settle. Ever."

"I haven't."

"Destin, you have to focus. It's your time to re-up, and you're going to have to work to make something of yourself." She uncrossed her legs and twisted on to her knee. She started to stand.

"I don't think I will." He lifted his head to watch the woman as she stood. The grimy trails lining his face were dry and dark. His mouth had stopped bleeding, but red flakes dressed his chin.

Swordcaptain Veyla paused and chewed on her tongue. She decided on a shrug. "I suppose some men quit. Clean your gear and get it to the quartermaster. Don't come back tomorrow."

She strode away from the grounds with a brisk officer's gait. Destin watched her go for a while, then turned his eyes toward the darkening horizon. The sky was twisting toward a murky haze; there would be a storm. He gathered his feet under himself and stood with the audible groan of a man unashamed of his weariness, and he took the first steps of his stiff-legged walk to the quartermaster.


What dreams fade give way to dreams new, dreams true and at least untouched, and much ado for something that may have never been. But a dream is, and is a memory of a moment I wish I'd had, or did have, and I lose ken of whence it did come, whether fancy or stout as the earth. I am breached, and out of me flows something like a soul.

What path is kind? Who will mind
your open spirit if you will not strike the earth
and birth your own conviction?
An affliction, patience, a craven mask
for the unwilling, spilling precious sand
with naught to show for its waste.
Braced, but there is no gale
if you will not dare the wind.

Save me.
I can save you.
Save yourself.
Last edited by RedLancer on Sun Jun 25, 2017 1:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Begin - Destin

Unread post by RedLancer » Tue Jun 06, 2017 11:44 pm

By the sun and by the moon, there is naught for this heart, its part errantry, errant man. Destiny favors one wise to swear for his desire, fire kindled in breaking the breath of wicked things. You are not so, Crusader. Promise, Poet, again, and keep it, as is your way. Say an oath, and never breach it for you are honest. Tell me, honest man, how does it feel?

It feels like a broken heart.

Be twice cut from your tethers. Released, unleashed, hearts fathoming they are selfless and kind have freedom for you, Guardian. Your wake has no shadow, and the way is yours. Tell me, honest man, how does it feel?

It feels like a broken heart.


"Time's up."

First, the feminine voice, and then he heard the flap of a heavy cloak as she dropped from her perch onto his: a moonlit roof twenty feet above the street below. Her feet met the shale and scarce made a sound as she coiled into a limber crouch. Destin didn't turn to face her.

"I thought you wouldn't chase."

"I told you we would."

"You did. I just thought you'd send someone with more heart for it."

"You think because I let it be in the compound that I'd let it be?" She laughed, light and airy, masking the sound of the small crossbow she butted against her shoulder as she took aim at the man.

"Someone I'd have more heart for, then."

He heard the click of the crossbow's trigger, and its string snapped taut and hurled its bolt into his left shoulder. He pitched over the roof and fell. It took about a second for him to meet the pavement, and he found it flat on his back. The bolt snapped off in his shoulder, and the wind blasted from his lungs; he gaped like a drowning man, lips closing around air his lungs wouldn't bring in, and he watched Erin's silhouette bound from roof to mortared wall, and she glided down to the alley street with a cat's predatory patience.

"Destin, you delicate man." She crouched alongside him, her body framed between her knees as she pulled a curved knife from a curved scabbard. "You stabbed a man in the heart, a man of our faith whose life was not given to you. Your noble heart, you delicate man. I have to stab it again." She swung a leg over his abdomen and straddled him as she centered the knife over his cuirass.

He coughed as his breath returned to him. "Erin." He coughed again and tried to sit up. Two thin fingers pressed against his wounded shoulder and guided him flat again, and he hissed his displeasure.

"Erin, do you remember our first meeting?"

She smiled down at the man, her lips parting to show gleaming white teeth. "I remember the wide-eyed poet, lonely and forlorn. Oh, Destin, I hoped you'd be better."

"The first meeting, Erin." Destin bucked his hips and slammed his knee into the woman's groin, pitching her overhead. She rolled to her feet and stood, then toppled over with a pained shriek. She collapsed on her side, her legs limp, and she clawed at the stone beneath her, scrabbling for an escape.

"Broken . . . I'm broken." She watched the man stoop and collect the lost knife, and she watched him stalk over to where she lay.

"Erin, dear heart. Was this poetry, to stab my heart with a dead man's knife, a man who bade me slay one not meant for death, and you, his vengeance, who first cut my heart with a carnal lie, and second with a liar's blade? Should I have been glad of this dagger?" He knelt down by the woman and showed himself the weapon. His left arm hung limp at his side, its armored length streaked in his own blood.

"Destin." Erin's voice choked with pain. "How?"

"How, what, Erin?"

"How did you kill him? The priest. Theros."

"Black hearts breach easiest, Erin. You're the same: broken and black. Wayward creature, you've come to love the unkind things, and you are painted in them." Destin laid the flat of the knife's blade against the woman's left cheek. He watched her eyes as they turned toward the ready steel, and he pitched the weapon among the gutter trash with a careless flick. He laid his gloved hand in place of the dagger, and he dragged his thumb along her cheekbone.

"The first time, Erin. You kicked me square in the tackle and left me to ponder it." His hand glowed with white brilliance, and the light passed between them. Erin gasped in sudden, rapturous relief, and her features, taut and tense, melted to exhausted complacence. "So I've repaid you, and we are in balance. I will not see you again."

Destin stood and moved off. He cradled his wounded arm before his chest, and he moved with the stiff gait of a part-broken man. Some paces away, Erin stood and brushed herself off. With perfect grace, she bounded up the wall and left the other way. Destin looked down at his bracer, at shards of sapphire set in community, and he breathed a steadying sigh as he began to wind his way home, toward his promises.
Last edited by RedLancer on Fri Sep 15, 2017 12:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Begin - Destin

Unread post by RedLancer » Thu Jun 22, 2017 9:54 pm

The first promise stands above them all, and it lies beneath. It demands the oaths that follow, and it is naught without them. It is iniquity, ubiquity, a premise unkind that must be else I will be nothing, and not only not enough. All these things I am, I will be beneath shroud and regretful swear. They are not gone. They are hard to touch.

"Wait. Wait. Destin. You mean you and Lex didn't? You never?" Gareth seized into a roar of laughter, pitching back in his chair and slapping his broad hand to his broad forehead. The redheaded man's ruddy cheeks bloomed with the rosy light of ale, and the thick bristles of his beard sheltered pockets of rich foam.

Destin sat at their table with his left arm flat on its face, his head resting on his arm. His whisky loomed nearby, barely tasted. His words bounced muffled from the wood. "Leave it alone, Gareth."

"Two years!"

"Eighteen months, thirteen days. ... roughly twenty-two hours."

"Whatever." Gareth swatted something unseen out of the air.

"Seriously." Ansem Blackmantle set his cider down with simple, authoritative ease. "Destin. By the Good Judge."

Destin looked up from his forlorn repose. "Hearts so hardy, I don't fathom you fathom the-"

"Stop! No, no, no!" Gareth shouted over Destin. Tavern heads turned toward the boisterous denial. Gareth offered them all a salute with his stein and a broad smile missing one tooth. He coughed and looked back to the poet. He added with gravely subdued timbre: "No."

"Seconded," Ansem agreed. "None of that heartspun nonsense tonight. You're supposed to be ..." He waved his flagon in a small, imperious circle. "... celebrating your liberty."

"Uncaged heart," Destin mused as he looked down at his full tumbler. "But it had been glad of its tether, whether-" Something doused his face. Ale, by the smell of it. Gareth leaned half across the table, his stein clutched in his meaty grasp and a thick index finger pointing over its rim.


Ansem drew his lips down into a desperately thin line, and his chest surged in fits of restrained laughter. Destin wiped his eyes clear with his sleeve and gripped the gnarled wood of the old table. He pushed his chair back and stood, turned for the door.

"Oh, come on, Destin!" Gareth called toward the departing. Destin pulled the tavern door open with feigned dignity and stepped outside. Ansem clapped Gareth's broad shoulder.

"Superb comedy, my man. Wrong audience."

In the air outside, the hour grew late. Suzail was coming to rest, the streets emptying of revelers and other late-going souls. Destin began his walk home, the scent of cheap booze curling into his nostrils, risen from his ale-soaked collar. He wound his way among long-familiar roads, his eyes turned toward the sky, treasuring the darker paths where the nightlamps didn't reach so well. A man's voice, husky and aged, cried out from an alley nearby.

"Help! Robbery! Murder!"

Destin raced toward the sound and bounded into the darkened corridor. A black-garbed figure had its back against an inky wall, its arm around an older man's throat. The man struggled, his fingers dug between his assailant and his neck. The figure reached for the small of its back, twisting to clear the wall and give an easier way to the dagger sheathed there.

"Hey!" Destin shouted toward the pair as he dashed their way. Surely the heavy falls of his boots on the cobblestoned street would have given away his approach if he'd kept silent, and all the same, the black-clad figure shoved its quarry away and brandished the dagger, intent on the would-be hero. With rare prowess, Destin met the assault and swept the knifing arm away, crashing into the assailant and bearing them both into the wall. So close, now, Destin saw the figure was masked, its face black and cut with three white bolts of lightning. The cover muffled a feminine squawk, and the two awkwardly wrestled over the knife.

"Get the watch!" Destin yelled toward the man he'd saved as he managed a grip on the dagger's leathered handle. The other man beat a plodding retreat and shuffled around the corner, disappearing into the street. "Hey! Get the wa-"

The masked figure slammed her knee into Destin's groin and slipped under his doubling form, sprinting the way her quarry had gone. Destin lurched into the empty space in front of him, caught himself against the alley wall with his face before tumbling over. He splayed on his hands and knees, heaving dry air as his guts rebelled. Distant, the masked figure stood at the entrance to the alley, her silhouette framed in torchlight from the nearby streetlamp. She glanced back down the alley in time to see the blond man pitch over into an acrid, stagnant puddle, and she ran the other way.

Destin lay there for minutes, his groin and stomach knotted and crippling. The watch never came, and eventually he found his way to his feet and made for home again, managing the steps with a delicate limp.

A man did not understand the use of a box for a precious thing. A box conceals. A box wards away sight and sound and touch. It must be opened, whatever that takes. Spake, he, of knowing, and he knew not, knew naught, and pridefully he fell upon a spear and broke his precious, black heart. Suffer not the suffering of the wronged. There is a stone to cast to one side or the other, where it leans on the scale. I understood, and I do. The light is blinding, and I've kept a foot in the shadow. It suits me.

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Re: Begin - Destin

Unread post by RedLancer » Fri Jul 28, 2017 5:08 pm

It's never still.

She's a tempest in her breast, her secret kept best, and she pretends I don't sense its gale, but she knows I can. It comes, it thrums, it breaks the sky, and I part from shelter because I love the rain. She likes to see a man be rained upon, and she watched and for too long a moment, she was still, and wherefore I am where I am, where I knew I'd never be. Thunder cracks, always thrice, but it's not for me.


"You weren't using it anyway. Ha!" Gareth slapped his weighty palm down on the face of the table with boisterous, wide-eyed satisfaction. Ansem squirmed in his chair, his mouth twisting into a grimace as he rolled his eyes toward another table.

"Whisky's too lovely to waste on theatrics, Gareth, so no." Destin pointedly sipped from his glass, watching the large, ruddy man over its rim.

"Come on, Destin, take a joke." Gareth leaned conspiratorially toward Ansem, who glanced distractedly toward his bawdy companion. "Which is what Destin tells the barflies when he's trying to get them to-"

"That woman over there." Ansem cut in with a flickering hand, and he nodded toward said woman with arrogant assumption. The woman nodded back, red lips smiling over the bowl of a glass of white wine, the cup squeezed between circling forefinger and thumb. Raven hair gathered behind her slender shoulders, ends barely kept and bound to frame the strands. Even so many paces away, deeply brown eyes like rain-wet earth shone with vibrant luster and stared toward the three of them.

Gareth's face fell with slack disappointment as Ansem cut in, but the latter grasped his cheeks and hollowed them with piercing digits and twisted the red-haired man's head toward the distant siren.

"Oh, ho-ho. Well!" Gareth raised a frothy mug in salute and sent along a deep-browed wink for good measure. The distant woman swung her legs to the side of her chair, swiveling on her seat and stood. She sauntered toward the three friends’ table.
“Gentlemen.” Ansem tipped his glass to either of his companions as the raven-haired woman crossed the tavern floor. “May the best man win.”

The woman made it to the table and circled around to stand behind Destin. Her left cradled her wine away from her side. Her right reached and curled around his left. Destin looked up toward the woman as a small, insistent tug led him from his chair. He left his glass in his wake and wordlessly followed her back to her table, sat across from her and came to some understanding that he needed to focus on her eyes.

“. . . the Hells was that?” Gareth stared after the pair long after they sat, his upper lip curled and twisted to his right. Ansem chuckled over his mug just before it came to his lips. He swallowed, chest and shoulders shaking with the appending shrug.

“You’re very pretty.” The woman set her glass between them on their table for two. Her eyes danced over the blond man’s face with playful intensity.

“You’re very kind for a stranger.” Destin’s gaze considered her left eye, flitted to her right.

“I don’t have to be.”

He found a smile. “What will I call you?”

She found a smile. “Erin. What will I call you?”


She left her glass in her wake as they slipped out from the table and made their way toward the stairs, just now lit with torches as the sun fell out of the sky and a warm gloom settled over the tavern. His right hand curled around her left.

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Re: Begin - Destin

Unread post by RedLancer » Thu Sep 28, 2017 4:58 pm

"And that's why I'm still in Suzail," she finally explained one still-black morning, the candle that lit their coupling burning low. She propped herself up on his chest with an elbow and reached for the nightstand. From its drawer, she brought forth a dark mask, its face streaked with wide, white, jagged bolts of lightning, identical to the mask Destin had seen that night weeks before. She held the thing in front of her face.

"So you understand why justice is so scarce for the meek: even good men can stand in its way."

Destin stared at her masked visage in stunned silence.

"I'm leaving tomorrow. I paid the debt a week ago, but . . . I wanted a little more time with you, Destin, to let you know." She pulled the mask away from her face and set it atop the nightstand, and she held Destin with a soft smile. "I thought it might have been appropriate to use you to finish this task, but you are far too kind a man. Far too delicate. Keep the mask; I cannot use it again, and I'd like to leave you with more than a memory."

The sun was growing high when Destin finally stepped weary-legged out of the inn; confused, angry as he was, he couldn't resist a proper goodbye. The mask bounced along in a plain sack tied to his belt as he made his way home. He found his apartment and stewed and brooded his day away, writing careless prose and watching it dissolve in a licking candle flame. Another day gone to the same, and it was a handful of morose days later when a storm came with the setting sun. Suzail closed its doors to the gale, and violent rain thrashed against the shuttered windows of Destin's hearth-lit room. The man sat reclined in his chair, a heel propped on his writing desk as he turned Erin's empty mask over in his hands and stared into its featureless face.

"It would have been perfect," he murmured to the mask. It did not reply. The mask curved and had once clung to the raven-haired huntress; he traced its contours with a curious thumb. His lips curled into a bemused smirk as he lifted the aspect to his face. It gathered against his cheeks more closely than it ought have. He let go of the mask; it clung to his skin. Outside, the distant report of thunder crept into the city and echoed through its streets.

Once. Twice. Thrice.

Alone, or lonely. They are not the same, and I came to know each as they are. The road is narrow, and its stone is dust when a heel lifts from its face. Sand leaps and chases the striding foot but twists away, shooed by a breeze or a gust. I must not go where I have gone. I may not. I cannot. I would.

I ought not be as I must be. Skilled hands tend to a task they have no wish for, bend to an asking absent joy. I loved love, but it's blood I spill, mine and any other's, a quill changed for a spear or a sword. Either comes easily, and that's true. It's only what I asked for.

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Re: Begin - Destin

Unread post by RedLancer » Mon Nov 27, 2017 6:25 pm

I bathe in a sea of fire, a pyre made of a moment of perfect, precious prescience, and I let it smolder. There are a thousand-thousand licking tongues of heat manifest in a veil I part with my breath, and therein is a burning heart; tendrils of its coiling smoke wreathe me in the incense of a soul aflame. "Breathe," it softly demands, and it comes to me, intoxicant, supplicant, mendicant. I inhale and sustain until I must break. Dawn brings the fractured sky, a thousand-thousand delicate kisses upon a man immolated, released, quenched until he longs for shelter, but he loves the rain.
"Are you waiting for someone?"

Destin stood against the wooden barrier housing the outdoor tavern's floor away from the city street when the feminine voice coaxed him from his fascination. She stood nearby, though not so near, and he knew the woman, though not so well.

"Yes," he decided. "Here you are."

She neared with a grin bending her lips into a bow. "You have been keeping well, I hope." The impeccable state of her armor and flawless visage would say she had kept the same, but so it was with those so disposed.

"As well as I am allowed, I have kept, and crept back to this Gate, and await again the next promise. You." Destin tilted a glass he held, half-full of an amber liquid, toward the woman. "You are unbowed."

"Save to my own promises." She leaned against the same barrier, some paces away.

Destin carefully gestured with his glass. "To your liking, you may not even sense the yoke's weight. How fares your spirit?"

The woman's deeply red hair swayed and settled as she tilted her smile curiously toward the man, considering him, his question. "A promise may be to my liking and still bear weight. I admit I've had doubt recently. Not of the promise itself, but of the means to its keeping."

"The romance of the trade." Destin brought his glass to his lips and let himself be distracted with the depth of the liquor therein. "Where one valiant heart shows its relief against another, standing in the oaths not as easily braced."

"A relief from which I usually draw my strength, but the relief has been etched so deeply, the same lines cut over and over. It begins to bleed through."

The man set his glass aside and gave the woman his posture. "The price paid to draw a thing lovely, and draw it again, and draw it again, ever a delight to any but the artist, the hand clutched, the canvas worn."

They spoke in a fashion neither thought they would.

"But how is your spirit?" she came to ask.

"It is arriving at certain understandings. It is less than it might be, but this is errantry."

She smiled again. "The path winds onward until the very end."

"Some very ends aren't so very far. But it's Love that's armed you. She's met your faith in kind."

"Therein lay the obstacle, though I do not truly hold Her love as an obstacle."

He settled at last and saw her, his brow easing and allowing his eyes to capture the woman stood there. "Well," he appended after a slow breath, "you have me uniquely arrested."

Her own eyes wandered away, toward empty tables and higher, to the sky. "My mentor was Sir Bruenor the Unrequited. Called so for his aspiring to become a favored knight of the Lady, and his calls unanswered. Yet his every breath was drawn in reverence of Her name, and his every action a dedication."

"That's positively beautiful."

Star-bound eyes welled with tears, and her chin tilted in the smallest nod. "It is. I cannot fathom the depth of that devotion. Its nature is unknown to me. I yearn to be so prostrate. ... Perhaps that denial is its own lovely torment."

He might have laughed, but he smiled instead, broad and baring as he shook his head. "You are perfect just now. Tremulous irony, heart loved and straining for love, restrained that it has what it seeks, and seeks further, that it could know love unreturned, but you, I don't sense, will love a thing that can refuse to reward your devotion."

She managed a small smile, hesitant. "I suppose you must be seeing the face of the divine in that irony, devoted of Hoar."

"It's your face, kin to mine in at least this thing. It's love I love best, its suffering sweetest cut with poesy. I am set against myself in my promises; your tale is rapture."

She took a small step away from the barrier and gave the man her posture.

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Re: Begin - Destin

Unread post by RedLancer » Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:53 pm

What is this? Kindness.
What goodly attempt begat such a sentiment? Kindness.
Say only those things that are true; they occur to you,
and you, to them, a font of perfect perception.
Their reception, glad. Distant.

It is extant, this intent.
Wherefore it must not be;
a true thing can be too kind.
An honest heart is hard to mind.
They do not trust.

One fathoms a motive, a mask.
Answer all that is asked,
and there's naught to know.
I'm where I go,
one foot kept in the shadow.

I'm not the light.
I am the fire.
And I love the rain.

The thin splash of a heavy boot ripping through a shallow puddle bounced away from a mindful stride. Slick stone towered on either side of the ill-kept alley, broken brick gouging the wet earth and allowing murky pools of days-old rain and refuse lit a silvered blue by a broad moon, unmasked in a cloudless black sky. A man walked there, clad in black mail, black hood drawn overhead, a shroud for a black mask, its face streaked with white bolts of lightning. The thin splash of a heavy boot ripping through a shallow puddle bounced away from a mindful stride.

Paces away, there was a broad man, a stout man, lathered and crouched and craven. His back had found the alley's end, slick stone towering above, its face lit a silvered blue by a broad moon unmasked in a cloudless black sky. He gripped an iron-shod bit of wood in his right hand, his thick hand squeezing a handle it had carved itself. The man in the mask walked nearer, a soft song slipping from behind his mask and carrying toward the hunted.

"You know your heart. I've known the same."

"Shut up!" The craven man barked as his knuckles whitened around his weapon. The song persisted.

"You're cast in sin. I have your name.
And I am wound up in my promises,
sustain them with my breath."

The broad man, the stout man, seized forward and ripped his cudgel toward the masked man's head. An armored arm rose and accepted the blow, and its mate returned an impossibly stern rebuttal to the craven man's core, made him a crouching man, his knees sunk into a murky pool of days-old rain and refuse. The singer stooped and collected the metaled bit of wood, bracing himself with a black-gloved hand upon the heaving man's shoulder.

"I've for you as you've earned. This wage is death."

"She was ... " the lurching man gaped for air, "... a strumpet!"

The song ceased. "Yes, I know. The smallest cry is thunder to the sense of Vengeance."

The craven man retched, heaved. He lost a mouthful of blood to the pool around his knees. "... you've killed me ..."

"Yes, I know."

The inimitable crack of violent lumber caromed against towering slick stone, and the night fell silent in reverent peace. Then the thin splash of a heavy boot ripping through a shallow puddle bounced away from a mindful stride.

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Re: Begin - Destin

Unread post by RedLancer » Thu Oct 11, 2018 12:05 am

What have I done?
Everything I ought.
Salvation bought with blood
A mortal standard hung on a stalwart spear.
And it is sanguine,
and sanguine.

A heartseeker pierces a breast,
channel for burning blood flooding for a burning man,
black brand balancing a stave, gave to a trembling hand.
A grave for a dying heir
lying there
and lying there.

A test pernicious, malicious, seditious,
But a rope is propitious.
It need not be for hanging.
Wherefore fades a shadow
Falter not, and go.
There's naught to know.

A poet sat in a chair at a desk, beautiful man cast in lamplight, his blonde hair styled with sweat. His folded legs made a brace for a book sat in his lap. His loose, revealing gray shirt was rent with a long gash, edges of the marred fabric stained a deep crimson, though the skin underneath was unmarred, healthy and shining with expense. A bottle of red wine sat on the desk, part of its offering spilled into a fine glass suspended in an uncallused hand. Another hand curled around a stylus and scribed mindful, neat lines into sturdy parchment.

Elsewhere, a pair of thin swords lay discarded on the wooden floor, their steel licked with blood. At the room's head, the latch of a heavy, wooden door reported the key turned therein, and a comely man, long and dark of hair, pale of skin, pushed through the portal.

"Should I bring another, great lord? I-" The comely man paused and spied the lonely poet, marked the swords forgotten on the floor. "Where is the great lord?" He pulled the door closed behind him.

The poet turned toward the comely man, his writing ceased. "He has gone home." Two of the blonde man's fingers straightened from the stylus, and a two-faced coin fell from his palm, dangling from a thin, leather cord. It swayed in that low light, a promising pendulum.

"Go home, fell fiend. Three thunders report, and I am the refrain. Be unbound, your tether unwound. Begone. Begone." Brighter brilliance, white and violent, swelled in the two-faced coin and burst for the other man. It gave way to the lamp, warm and dark, and the comely man was gone.

A poet sat in a chair at a desk, beautiful man cast in lamplight, his blonde hair styled with sweat. His folded legs made a brace for a book sat in his lap. He drank of the lord's wine and left his glass on its side, braced on a ledge meant for a text. He stood and carried his book under his arm, and he left through the way he had come: a heavy wooden door, pulled open, then closed, shutting away two swords forgotten on the floor.

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Re: Begin - Destin

Unread post by RedLancer » Mon Oct 29, 2018 4:02 pm

I know the sound of a sigh
soft and satisfied
Premise of a promise
Fastened and flawless
In a moment to stand
against reason.

I have ached for its absence
having never heard its song
and for long I longed
to have it to breathe.
Comes now the tease of its warmth
and the breath that bore it.

The eyes ken,
the eyes can
be inspired, as fire
that burns everlong;
each oath a song
with tireless refrain.

His mask clung to his face because it wished to, never bound or tethered, only willed. Harsh, white streaks of broad lightning cut its surface, three bolts to herald disaster, the picture of a fateful promise. The man held within the mask sat on a crude, wooden stool, his arms splayed over wide knees, and he looked into the ruddy earth beneath him.

The ground was gashed with desperate moments, shallow trenches of dirt cut by hard steps in hard boots, and the soil bore the blood of a thousand battles before this day had ever been. The marred field was kept by a circled rope, its fiber staked to the earth, and the ring was bound again by the throng of people eager for the next test. The man was bent over his own sweat; they had taken his shirt, and his skin shone flawless but for the puncture scar marking his left shoulder, flesh painted in the abstract with the thick dust of a fighter's pit.

He listened to the jeering choir, grim and haunted souls slick with drink, and each sung a different song of his death. He bathed in their far-flung ale, blond hair pressed to his scalp as much by the wasted drink as his own effort. At once the cruel symphony broke into fanatical applause and one voice shouted from a hundred hearts.

"Cad-han! Cad-han! Cad-han! Cad-han!"

The mask and its man lifted to look across the ring. Blue eyes faded to ice as they watched a vast man stomp into the rope's circle and announce himself with the roar of a warlord's triumph. He was tall and broad, thick skin mapped with the scars of all the violence he'd waged. A massive chest and the corded arms it joined crawled with ink absent artistry, the images thereon no less macabre for the craftsman's lack. The brute's hair was cleaved short and severe, one last touch toward the savage. The seated man and his mask turned to his right, one faltering man behind and nearby picked out.

"This is he," the black mask said.

A faltering man swallowed, and he nodded.

The masked man held one hand toward the man behind him, and the latter dropped a ring tethered to a thin chain into his palm. The masked one circled his neck with the talisman as Cadhan the Vast bellowed his challenge. The seated man stood and marched toward his adversary. Cadhan the Vast loomed ever larger as the challenger approached, his towering mass enough to swallow the world behind him. The smaller man neared, and Cadhan raised one great leg and buried his cleat into the masked man's chest.

The crowd howled its glee as Destin took wing and crashed to the earth. The mask was suddenly stifling as he forgot to breathe, the air pushed from his legs by one stout kick. He shed the mask and let it fall aside as he gasped for breath, the features of the beautiful man bared for the audience that did not care. One meaty hand caught him under his chin and turned his head to face Cadhan's glowering smirk.

"Ya wanna quit?"

Destin wanted to defy him. Destin couldn't breathe to speak, so Cadhan's other wide, splayed hand crashed across his mouth. The paladin's head whipped with the blow, his blood bursting from his mouth and dousing the luckless with his vitality.

Cadhan leered, Cadhan sneered as he grasped Destin's face with the expanse of his hand.

"Ya wanna quit?"

"Mighty coward," Destin croaked into the man's palm, "we've barely-"

The brutal carom of Cadhan's sturdy palm kept Destin brief. The larger man pushed the smaller's head into the earth and used him as a brace to stand. He clapped his hands and swept them clear of grime, and he paced the ring with a crooked smile.

"He don't wanna quit yet!"

The crowd came as one, spontaneous, unanimous in love for their champion.

"Cadhan! Cadhan! Cadhan!"

"Whew, kid," the vast man chuckled as Destin sat up. "Hell of a pop. They don't like you."

Destin's eyes rolled to his right as his tongue rolled through his teeth. He felt them all, and he gathered and spat another dose of his blood into the battlefield. He picked up his mask and set it against his face, and he stood.

Cadhan's laughter boomed over the din. "Ha! It's a good gimmick, kid, but come on. Ain't gonna help you out here. Don't make me chase ya and I'll do it quick."

"Celes Arledge," came the poet's muffled voice beyond the mask. Cadhan stopped laughing.

"What'd you say to me?" Cadhan stalked nearer the masked man, and the feverish crowd screamed in anticipation as the fighters came face to face.

"Devin Arledge," came the poet's voice again. His head tilted up as the Vast drew close.

"You know somethin' about that?" Cadhan's exhale spilled rancid into the poet's nose, and his hulking shoulders labored with hostile breath.

"You are accused. Yield and you may speak to it. Do not, and I will kill you here."

Cadhan's thick lips twisted into the derisive smile of arrogance. At once his eyes bulged with manic rage, and he shoved one sausage-like finger into the poet's face.

"Make it look good," he hissed. He stalked backward from the masked man, his boots gouging broad swathes through the earthen pit. "We're done now, pretty boy!" The crowd erupted for Cadhan the Vast as he charged through the ring, bearing down on the masked poet with all of a champion's prideful vigor.

Destin swept one foot behind the other and sprung toward the surging champion, and his right leg snapped into a side kick that took the Vast square in his gut. Cadhan the Vast seized and sunk to his knees, vomited and fell into his supper. The frenzied crowd fell silent, stunned.

"Whoo! Pretty boy, yeah!" One man tried, his errant applause fading to nothing after five hapless beats.

Destin walked out of the ring.

Hours later, Destin and Cadhan the Vast sat across from each other in a darkened, near-empty tavern. A faltering man sat there, too, his eyes downcast and tracing a gash in the table's surface.

"Don't blame ya, Garn," Cadhan wheezed over his stein. "Everybody knew Devin an' I didn't mix an', well, Celes an' I did. But it wuddn't me."

Destin showed no signs of war as he took the new talisman from his neck and passed it back to Garn, the faltering man.

"I don't know what's next," Garn whispered. Destin squeezed the man's shoulder as he stood from his own seat.

"Have comfort in that this black heart was not slain for sins that were not his . . . and ware, Cadhan." Destin leveled his gold-flecked gaze over the Vast. "It was not your name today, wherefore you persist."

Destin turned from them and left the place, stepped out into the black.

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Re: Begin - Destin

Unread post by RedLancer » Tue Feb 05, 2019 5:06 pm

The man strode aside his ambling white stallion, kept to his own breast a nest of medallions, his armor and affects astride the noble horse. Empty wind carried winter's frigid passion with gentle appeal, barely stirring the earned crimson of the scarf winding about the man's throat and hanging behind a shoulder. They walked in grass in belying green, their passage sometimes marked with the steam of their breaths.

"The way is made, Aubade, dark, not desperate, but disparate from oppressive prescience, the presence in indomitable light revealing folly and fortune."

The horse grunted its honest retort, a snort of patient exasperation. They carried on.

"Wherefore the moon is so lovely, Aubade, silvered scintillant with benign appeal, intent, intimate, to reveal of us our most true selves; its shine casts only the bravest shadows."

They climbed a small rise and found the road as they approached a bridge. They walked until their feet found the wooden floor of the passage over the river, and they walked farther still. The horse's reins swung with indolent indifference; the man's hands were busied with nothing.

"Where are they, Aubade, the broken and bittersweet? The vengeful, regretful . . . the wrathful lovers bound in chains of their own craft, the blade's business wreathed in righteous conviction and flung forth from umbral hearth?"

They came to land again, the man and the horse, and moved from the road. Man took the load from the beast and bore his own burden on his back but for a sword hung from his belt and a spear leaned to his shoulder. His black-gloved hand stroked the stallion's powerful neck, and the tolerant creature snorted its content and faded from substance. The man sauntered onward, northward, and the empty wind breathed out the sounds and smells of the lively as he found the farmlands neighboring the humming city of Baldur's Gate. Tent and edifice lined the way, simple and grand folk among those that suited them best. Through gaze and gesture he walked on, beyond the edge of kindness, beckoned by wintry breeze toward the darkened halls he would kindle with idyllic vigor.

Winter gasped, and the man's scarlet stole snapped with audacious impulse, flared as a pennant before razing, resting again behind one shoulder.

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