The Second Warning

Description:

Walker Saint

    Opal to Sapphire
  • Black Widow Prince
  • Played By: dergon

    The Walker
    Tigrelan Kaeleer
    10 Posts    1001 marks
The Second Warning
« on: October 31, 2020, 07:02:33 AM »

Walker looked to the sky. Shadows splitting his face into islands of darkness, separated by channels of light. The sunlight wavered, and the islands look new shapes, the rivers swelled. Bearing his teeth, Walker's lip curled upward, exposing the sensitive flesh inside, the tip of his tongue sliding between sharp teeth to taste the wind that shook the trees.

His eyes were closed. Dozens of necklaces rising and falling on his chest. Charms hiding the deep blue warmth of his Sapphire. But power was like a pool at his feet. The tattoos that snaked up his mostly exposed flesh all the warning any should need.

Here stood the Walker.

In a dry riverbed.

A leaf fell. Its green glory gone to orange fire. Edges crisping from lack of nutrients. The tree shed it to save fuel through the winter. It landed on his shoulder, a serrated point catching in his wild fur. Ear twitching, Walker reached up and plucked it free, holding it before him, as if it would whisper secrets to him, alone in the vast crevice of land that had once been full of torrents.

"You are dead." He informed the leaf, releasing it back to the air. It continued down, landing at his feet with a thousand others just like it. The leaves had been falling all season. The world stained with color. Yellow. Red. Orange. Like fire. There had been one of those too. Sweeping through a stretch of forest thanks to the untended fire of a young group of hunters.

Foolish boys. But it was a spark that should have never set a flame. Not when the rains should have already begun. The ground should have been moist. Loamy. The leaves should not crackle, even in death. They should have sagged. They should have smothered.

Walker's foot swept the ground before him, kicking away leaves and exposing the stones beneath. Smooth rocks polished by eons of water passing over them. Never in his lifetime had the bottom of this river been glimpsed. Never had it run dry. And it was not the only one. Just the biggest.

Snarling, Walker raced up its bank. Claws flashing against the ground as he rushed upward almost on all fours. The men came to him, worried and whispering. His cave as dry as the souls of those above. He lunged up a tumble of stones, stepping onto a fallen tree. Its long body had once been a diving ledge. But now it lead to a leg breaking fall.

"Can you not see?! He shouted to the tower in the distance. "So high, you must surely see! Do you ever look out?" Walker doubted it. He ran sure footed down the tree. One foot in front of the other. Leaves leaping around him as he jogged toward the distance. The tower growing until it blended in with the trees. Too close to see above the canopy until he was at its door.

A field of barren land surrounding it. A killing field. Flattened and furrowed by the feet of men. Crushing it as they gathered, seeking entrance to save them from a flooding world.

"Dreamer! No one will come knocking at your door this winter, you filthy bitch!" His craft crackled around the tower, like a beast knocking at the door. But it was the Walker, knocking at the base of her existence. "Dreamer!" He summoned. He was the Walker!

Dreamer Pakhet

    Sapphire to Ebon-gray
  • Blackwidow Queen
  • Played By:

    The Dreamer
    Tigrelan Kaeleer
    6 Posts    0 marks
Re: The Second Warning
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2020, 06:17:36 PM »
Pakhet's dreams had always been labyrinthine. Clouded. She stumbled where Myrrine ran, tripped where her right hand strode with confidence.

But it didn't mean she didn't dream. It didn't mean that she didn't agonize over every sleeping moment, every image, every whisper the Darkness sent her, blurred by eyes she strained to open.

The land ached; her people ached; her heart ached. She'd torn a dozen pillows to shreds of stuffing and down, stayed up until all hours of the morning reading reports, making plans. It had taken intervention from Myrrine and the Coven, and a heavy handed application of sleeping brews, to push her away from her work.

Still, her sinister dreams plagued her. Still, answers did not appear.

The Coven had let out for a break, to eat and rest and see to other things, and Kheti found herself drifting along the halls outside the council chambers, seeking something. The discordant buzzing in her skin only heightened the closer she got to the land, but she'd urged the Coven downward in the hopes that proximity might resolve her visions.

Behind her innermost barriers, Pakhet could admit to a double edged fear: that if she descended fully she would find her answers, and that the Cloud City would never be able to satisfy again - that her power lay locked in the earth she dreamt of. On the other side, equally paralyzing, that there would be no change, and she would be revealed for what she was; a fraud, a pretender. It would take a miracle from the Darkness to spare Myrrine if that were to come to pass.

I would not be where I am if the Darkness did not will it, she thought. There was no greater power than the love for ones people, and Pakhet would never allow the accusation that she had given anything less than her all for her Territory. A rocky path was still a path. Thorns could be removed.

Well, most thorns.

"Dreamer," spoke an apprentice from behind her. Kheti had stopped, gaze lost out a window while the tried to tame her heart. "Dreamer, forgive me for intruding on your meditation. Lady Civilla wished to inform you that the Walker has returned." She could taste the little frisson of fear from the girl. The Walker made no effort to represent men as anything other than violence on legs, and Kheti regretted that so many of the Coven held... less than favorable views of their brothers, sons, and bed partners.

Still, it was only the product of repeated practice that neither ears nor tail broadcast exactly how unenthused Kheti was with the information. Lady Civilla took a particularly toothy delight in his visits. Pakhet would have to discuss with Myrrine if action could be taken against her. She didn't need dreams to know that the other 'widow fed the whispers of her shaking grip on the seat, encouraged by her lack of child.

"Thank you, Nekhen. I will handle it." she smiled beatifically as she turned. "Where is our guest?"


Outside, as ever. For all the times the Walker had screamed his anger at her - or, at least, the tower - the ridiculous man refused to come inside, even for the barest bones of hospitality. Kheti had stopped sending seneschals to great him.

She was thankful, then, for both the council meeting and the break. It never went well if he was left waiting too long, and she wouldn't allow the indignity of being caught by him softened by sleep.

He is a necessary part of the culture and nurturing of our people, she told herself as she descended a few more floors to a balcony that overlooked the door. One outside of jumping range for both of them, in case the temptation to back word with claw became too much. You cannot kill him. Finding a suitable replacement would take too long - and who knows how adept his apprentice is at anything besides bending over. She bit the inside of her cheek, stifling her amusement.

If he dies, Civilla wins. That was a sobering thought.

She allowed herself a moment to breathe, hands smoothing down the front of her dress in long, calming strokes. Darkness grant me fortitude and grace. We are a pair, we work in kind for our people. Another deep breath, another furious cry of 'Dreamer!' from below, and Kheti resolved herself.

"Walker!" She rejoined, stepping out to place her hands on the ornate railing. I'm sure your commentary on my bathing habits are many and nuanced. "What have you seen of our home that informs you of this?" Besides everything. He already thought all the greatest ills of her, and while it ate at her, she doubted she would be able to change his perception. Still... "We know of the lack of rains, and the illness," What more must be endured? "is there more you've seen?"

If he was just coming to bitch, showing her hand early might make him leave faster. Otherwise, at least they'd both be on the same page. As much as either of them would allow.

Walker Saint

    Opal to Sapphire
  • Black Widow Prince
  • Played By: dergon

    The Walker
    Tigrelan Kaeleer
    10 Posts    1001 marks
Re: The Second Warning
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2020, 08:42:20 AM »

There she was. A breeze plucked a leaf from the Walker's hair and tossed it away. Like something regal she leaned against the railing, staring down and down and down at him. Saint looked up, a sneer pulling at his lips. Never a smile. Not for these creatures. This one especially. Had she ever felt dirt beneath her toes? Grit beneath her nails?

She was as pristine as the tower she lived in. Untouched by trouble. His eyes darted toward movement, a Seneschal leaving by a side door. "Everything you have not, Dreamer." Walker answered, turning his full attention back to her. She could not see the trees for the forest. The land had to be a muted blur from so high.

He held up a hand, fingers spread, claws extended. He always brought his claws to such talks, for they were a battle. He must show her what she could not see. Blinded by height and walls. Stone so dead it couldn't even whisper anymore of the earth it had been dug from. Saint closed his fist.

"Does your belly ache with hunger? Your hunters cough up lungs and die in packs." Pockets of it. Saint had tried to track the sickness. But even his exhaustive webs could not find a center. As if a dozen spiders spun webs of ill across the land. Dry, brittle land. "Everything thirsts." He told her, grinding leaves beneath his feet. They crunched and crackled as no leaf had done before. Not here.

"What have you seen?" Saint questioned. He walked. She dreamed. What did she glimpse at night? "I taste no ending. Feel nothing but cracking land beneath my feet. I walked a dry riverbed today, Dreamer. A river that has drowned hundreds of coalitions." Next day he would trek to the sea. No more Winds to carry him swiftly. He would walk every mile and taste every breeze. Sea was the salt stars could tell him.

And Saint would wear his journey upon his skin. Dust and dirt and callouses. Never would he perch upon a balcony in fine clothes, clean and groomed. Did she bother with such things herself, or did a covey of little girls brush her tail and button her dress? There was no heart left in the women of his people. All of them spoiled by dry, lazy living. She owed them payment in dreams and power.

Dreamer Pakhet

    Sapphire to Ebon-gray
  • Blackwidow Queen
  • Played By:

    The Dreamer
    Tigrelan Kaeleer
    6 Posts    0 marks
Re: The Second Warning
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2020, 01:39:29 AM »
The railing was smooth beneath her palms. She leaned forward to pin her thumbs between her stomach and the ornamentation. There was no mistaking the buzz behind her, the Coven and all the apprentices, the drifting seneschals who lingered on the way to other things. She chose to ignore their gazes like kitten claws against her skin, the same way she ignored the Walker's own display. Maybe I'll see if I can pin you with a shield from here, she debated, assessing the distance with some little amusement. Although you might not appreciate the attempt.

"Yes," she said. She hoped he took something from it, that they were all affected, because there was nothing for her. She knew how furiously he wanted her to be brought to the dirt; maybe it would be something to tilt the scales more evenly in his mind. "Healers, seneschals. Children, too." The fur on her neck and shoulders prickled with unease. Her tail lashed. Containment was so difficult when the presentation of the illness took so long, until it was almost too late to save them. They cried out as the land did, and she could answer neither.

Her ears flicked forward as he ground his heel into the frail grass and leaf litter. Gaze sweeping over him, to the tree line, then up. Even at her descended balcony she could see for miles and miles, how all the colors of the trees were depleted, grayed. The clouds in the sky remained thin and pale, too high for rain, too sparse.

What could she say? What had they seen?

What does the council know? That was what he would know.

"It came from Witch's place," she said, claws flexing against the rail. Her ears flattened, and fur fluffing at the memory. That much of the shared dreams was clear. The dark spear that Witch's sight had looked out from. "From the far black tower. It doesn't feel of her power, but we see it above a sea of a grasses." She closed her eyes, drawing up the memory of her own webs.

The tower, imposing, intimidating, even though she only could catch it from the corner of her eye.

A sharp pain in her chest, like she was drawing a breath in, in, in, never releasing.

A shadow looming over her, dense, nameless, waiting.

And no matter how she turned, the tower never came into focus and she couldn't find what cast the shadow.

"We see no end, Walker." She admitted. There was a rush of hissing and whispers from behind her, something a cutting glance and the touch of her Sapphire silenced. This was important. This went beyond the machinations of the Covens' and the games to pick good mates. This went beyond the generations of carefully constructed separation that kept them only barely in balance. Balance that would shatter if they did nothing. "No clear end, no straight path. Only many threads tangled; stepping stones through dark water that stretches in all directions. We will endure," that, said as much for herself as for the crowd or her guest. "But the trials will be... grueling. For all of us."

She hoped he understood that she meant everyone; that the shadow that haunted her dreams would not fall on her alone.

"I want - " she stopped, wove her fingers together and smoothed the prickle of anxiety from her fur. It as an abrupt idea, but one that would not be smothered. "The season is not right. There will be seneschals moving among the coalitions. Please assist those you may encounter. They gather information on the land and the sickness." Her runners, the fastest, the most objective. What they found would determine other things as well. "You may choose to send messages with them as well." Even if it was only cursing, perhaps it would be the beginning of some kind of line of communication.

Walker Saint

    Opal to Sapphire
  • Black Widow Prince
  • Played By: dergon

    The Walker
    Tigrelan Kaeleer
    10 Posts    1001 marks
Re: The Second Warning
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2020, 06:10:15 AM »

He was glad, because he was petty. The women above meant less to him than the men below, or those that walked between them. At times he imagined they had been reversed, he and the Dreamer. Maybe all Walkers before him had felt the same. Living in the land made it more important than the people who lived above it. So high they might never touch it but once or twice in their lifetime.

It was good they suffered as his men suffered. But it was wrong any of them suffered at all. Something was broken and he did not have the power to fix it. He could Walk a thousand miles, but there was not craft him to right wrongs in the land. Just as he could not heal the sick. Only on occasion could he offer mercy. A swift death at knife point rather than the lingering slow death others spoke of. Coughing echoed in his ears even when there was only silence around him.

"Witch's place." Saint stroked the hoard at his throat. They whispered softly beneath his fingers. Charms tangling. Jewel humming. His palm spread down and across his chest, cradling the bundle of necklaces. He thought of the other Ebon-gray queen he had met. She had come to him from a snowy place. Held his hand and walked the land with him.

But she had not been from Witch's place. He shook her away, ears and shoulders twitching until his wild mane crackled around his head. Saint's ears flattened. Eyes on the base of the tower rather than the Dreamer. These women! They brought him nothing but trouble and proclamations of doom. "Then we will endure." He looked up, eyes like flint, his stare an accusation. This is your fault, he blamed in silence. This was her fault.

"I have ever stood beside my traveling brethren." He snarled. Never had he curtailed their duties, nor interfered. Just occasionally he took the willing to his bed. Waylaying them only for a little while. They smelled of soft things, but were calloused. Different from the men, but not women. "I do not need your permission to make any choice, Dreamer." His teeth snapped behind the flat line of his mouth. "Next day I will walk to the sea." He informed her spitefully. See, you cannot order me about!

"I may report what I find." His hand cut through the air, as if he slapped her importance from a table. He had heard rumors moons ago about a girl who had turned into a whale. His face turned toward the coast. He would begin his journey this night. When the sun was more gentle on the eyes. After he had eaten and rested.

Still. The Dreamer's words worried at him. The trials would be great. They were few already. And their children were dying. Gnashing his teeth, he bowed swiftly to the queen bitch above and turned away. "Do not die until I return." He ordered as he went. He had more to say to her.

Dreamer Pakhet

    Sapphire to Ebon-gray
  • Blackwidow Queen
  • Played By:

    The Dreamer
    Tigrelan Kaeleer
    6 Posts    0 marks
Re: The Second Warning
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2020, 04:11:44 PM »
Whatever the declaration had wrought in him, Pakhet could not read it. Only that his silence seemed to double in weight as he considered something inside, which only appeared to aggravate him further. Interesting. There was a not inconsiderable part of her that took a prickling, bitter pride in being so antithesis to another being. What great resolve lived in his hatred, that it could burn so consistently. The sun rose in the East and Walker Saint would hate her until his dying breath, and perhaps after, if he were bitter enough. It reminded her that her own love for the people had to be just as firm, just as impassioned. If nothing else could be gained from the particular intersection of their lives, it was that.

She fought not to roll her eyes at his assertion. Yes, but now when you see them you will think of me, and my request, and you will be more likely to look upon your surroundings and consider what they might be looking for as well. Men, honestly. As though his actions alone were most important. If it were anyone else she might consider voicing such a thing. Alas.

Her own gaze drifted toward the coast, something distant enough that it was invisible even in the upper floors of the tower. The trees became the ocean, the field around the tower the shoreline. Beyond that, the dream of water - what would that be like, to walk so far, to feel so much? How did the ocean feel, in comparison to their aching land? Did it respond the same? "Of course not, Walker. Your steps are your own." Let that prickle his thoughts too, she thought with a little flicker of satisfaction. Perhaps he might brush it off, but there was the chance that it would stick, like a bur in his mane, much like his own words did to her.

Injecting warmth into her voice that was only a touch affected, because it did so please her to be annoying, sometimes, she returned, "If you would be so kind, Walker."

It was difficult to rein in the laugh that threatened to bark out of her, because, what? If she passed into the Darkness while he was away a new Dreamer would be found. Myrrine would likely hold the position as de facto ruler until such a lady was selected to move forward - it could even be her. But his problems would remain the same, and so would the Coven's, and no one would get anywhere. Kheti, at least, was used to his yelling. He might bring a new lady to tears, and that would send him right over.

"Mother Night be willing," she said. Maybe it was a type of blessing. No dying, wench! You have to stay alive that I might vent my spleen at you about the return journey! "Go with the Darkness, Walker! We await your return."

Walker Saint

    Opal to Sapphire
  • Black Widow Prince
  • Played By: dergon

    The Walker
    Tigrelan Kaeleer
    10 Posts    1001 marks
Re: The Second Warning
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2020, 05:43:15 AM »

If you would be so kind. If you would be so kind. It was a chant that stalked Saint's steps between the tower and the sea. At times he spoke them to himself. Voice pitched high like a whiny woman's as he climbed over half fallen trees, or ducked beneath rocky overhangs.

If you would be so kind. He hoped she choked on her milk or morning tea. Whatever it was the fool woman drank to make her tongue so saccharine. Saint's claws left a trail behind him. Besieging bark and leaf as he passed. Beneath his feet, the ground crackled and held firm. The lack of spongy return made his stride feel awkward, but his outrage propelled him forward at a quick clip.

Saint was not kind. As the Walker he could not be so. He was pragmatic, and brutally straight forward. Kindness killed, and he had a people to protect, along with his own hide. So he would continue as he always did, until the next Walker defeated him. That one too would learn to leave kindness behind, whatever lofty ideals they might hold.

Swinging down from a branch, Saint sank into sand. Gritty it rose between his toes and stirred around his heels, sinking and sucking as he walked. And walked. What felt like leagues farther than he should be able to. The world discolored from lack of water. He felt the water line as he passed it and then left it behind. Eyes agog at the strange sights that greeted him. Twisted, dry coral, looking like the porous bones of some ragged beast left dead in the stony sand.

Plucking a broken star from a dried out kelp bed, Saint rubbed its rough body between his fingers and pulled his gaze away from the swath of open seabed around him, to the sea out before him. No where did the sea spewers rise. Water in the distance, stretching far away as it always did. But it should not have taken him so long to walk to its edge.

"This is no good." He told the dead creature in his hand, holding it before his face and squinting at the strange designs along its belly. Vanishing the evidence into his cabinet, the Walker turned back. This time it was fear that drove his feet swift and sure across the miles.

 

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