This log follows my other recently posted one here: https://forums.aetolia.com/discussion/3554/a-different-sort-of-lesson
An earthen alcove. (Bahir'an Estate)
The floor of this small, yet spacious alcove is comprised completely of loosely packed dirt. Small markers have been affixed to each wall at regular intervals to provide some means of measuring distance, and a simple path of flat, solid stones weaves through the room, clearly marking the appropriate steps to take so as not to disturb those resting beneath the soil. A sigil in the shape of a small, rectangular monolith is on the ground. Resting on the ground is a cube-shaped silver sigil.
There are no obvious exits.
She is an adaptive Human Earthen vampire rising well above the height of an average human. Her form is reminiscent of an animated statue, with stone flesh that appears to be made of a pale, polished marble that could easily rival the luscious quality of carvings found in the grandest of palaces and temples. Veins of an equally pale silver wend their way throughout her body, in some places curving to form voluptuous swirls over the otherwise androgynous figure. The pale stone occasionally pulses with an amber glow that seems to emanate from within her chest, strong enough to fill her entire body with its light. Her other features are markedly more feminine than those of other Earthen, and another sharp difference is made by two blue crystal inclusions in the stone that take the place of eyes. Seeming to glow almost on their own, they offer an enticing hint of the true power of the Earthen race. Translucent strands of spiderweb periodically weave around her form, empowering her with Iosyne's blessing.
(on her right ring finger) : a snarling, panther's head ring
(around the neck) : a golden locket of the earth
(drifting in any errant breeze) : a light and airy sapphire dress
(worn on the feet) : a pair of silken jewel-accented slippers
(nestled in her curls) : an exquisite sapphire circlet
(on her left wrist) : a helical bracelet of silver and gold
You feel the ground trembling beneath your feet.
(Bloodloch): You say, "Did one of you just try to travel to me underground?"
The trembling ceases as a tinge of amusement plays across your senses.
"If that was not someone trying to pass through the earth, what is it?"
A sense of motion catches your eye, something gathering in the shadows of the ceiling corner.
You have emoted: Sarita's fingers tighten a bit around her flail as her eyes move almost instinctively to follow the motion. At a silent command, her golem draws a bit closer as she looks upward.
As you look, glowing, gouged white eyes meet your gaze.
Shadows intertwine against the earthen stones, darkening the area before blending within.
You have emoted: Still seeming to moving almost reflexively, Sarita narrows her eyes, keeping them trained on the eyes even as her golem takes a rumbling step forward, clearly ready to step in front of her if needed. After a moment, she says, "We don't normally allow visitors here without an escort."
Hanging upside down by a thread of spidersilk Iosyne, rapidly descends from the ceiling, held afloat by the weaving from Her arachnid spinneret. The Malevolent Goddess alights upon the golem's head, presenting a terrifying silhouette of a statuesque, misshapen amalgamation as She studies you. "I am here for your offer."
You have emoted: Sarita lowers the flail enough to watch Iosyne unencumbered, but doesn't relax the grip on it at all. Her stony face shows very little hints of emotion, but there is some uncertainty that makes its way into her voice. "I don't recall anything about an offer."
You feel a steady vibration spreading from your heart.
Beneath the mask though, she is clearly desperately to find some hint, some memory, of what the Goddess might mean.
Bracing against the golem's head Iosyne, launches off from Her perch, a whirlwind of spindly legs flashing through the air before She lands a few feet away from you. "You offered Bloodloch dance lessons, did you not?"
You have emoted: Sarita seems to be very briefly lit from within by a pulse of amber light that spreads from her chest and through the rest of her body before fading away again. "Dance lessons," she repeats softly, as she lets her arms relax completely. "You would like me to teach You how to dance?"
She is an Immortal of massive proportions, a half-woman, half-spider monstrosity of terrifying shape. The sharp, angular features of Her face are hardened into a cruel countenance, Her sightless gaze naught but narrowed white orbs lacking their pupil. A haze of creeping shadows partially swathes Her form, surrounding Her like a heavy fog, and partially melding with the wild mane of crimson-streaked black hair cascading from Her shoulders. Whipcord muscles beneath sleek ebony skin suit Her monstrous form well; where Her humanoid waist ends, an arachnid thorax begins and continues into a bulbous black abdomen splattered with red blots. Eight segmented, spindly legs carry this body aptly and swiftly, dexterous appendages capable of moving in any direction with frightening speed. A pronounced gap is above Her left breast, where Her heart would be - instead, there is a black diamond-shaped hole, out of which emerges smoky tendrils of shadow.
(at the back of the neck) : a black-inked tattoo of a pair of crossed fists
"Where would I even begin?" she wonders to herself, imagining different ways eight legs might move rather than her two.
Iosyne rises upon Her eight arachnid legs, previously bent to absorb the impact of Her landing, to stand at Her full height. She clicks two of Her hind legs against the alcove ground to a steady beat. "Only one has indulged Me such before. How could I turn down such a...twice-in-a-lifetime offer?" The Goddess' ruined eyes abruptly narrow, a flash of fury distorting Her features - as quickly as the expression appeared, it fades, replaced by a creeping smile. "This lifetime."
"Is She talking about Ezalor? He told me how that ended..."
You have emoted: "If You would like to either tell me or show me what You learned from those lessons, I think I may have a better idea of where to start." Sarita keeps her tone neutral, her eyes now studying Iosyne's entire form contemplatively.
"Most of the typical steps would be out of the question with four pairs of legs, and that's assuming they all move in the same direction as two bipedal....Assuming Her partner would only have one pair. Is She going to want a partner? If She does - who?"
Shadows roll off Iosyne, pooling before Her to depict two figures - one whose features you recognize as the Goddess before you, though Her form is different, more humanoid, with four arms. One hand clasps Her partner, the others settled in various positions around the shoulder and waist. The other figure, vaguely familiar, leads a simple series of steps.
As the simple steps come to a lull, the depiction of Iosyne leans forward, almost romantically, before abruptly sinking Her teeth into Her partner's lower lip. Droplets of hazy blood spurt through the air and dissipate as the humanoid Malevolent tears away Her partner's lower jar. The models fade as the Goddess returns Her attention to you, baring those same fangs in a sweet smile.
You have emoted: Sarita watches carefully, her crystal eyes glittering as the shadows move downward. She seems mostly focused on the footwork - at least until the end when she tries, and fails, to hide a grimace. She does manage to keep her voice relatively neutral as she says, "I think we may need a bit more space. Would You care to go to our ballroom?"
"More space and easier to clean." Those unspoken words linger very clearly in her mind.
Iosyne, the Malevolent says, "Lead on."
An opulent ballroom.
Sandstone granite encloses this great, circular ballroom interspersed with tall, arching windows set in contrived gilded frames. A concentric marble colonnade rises a mere few feet off the wall, each column sculpted from a base of geometrical design to spiral high into the dome above, that arches in clean lines streaked with gold. At the center of the chamber hangs a great, golden chandelier, its multiple tiers stretching sinuously outward and down, with dozens of branches heavy with a myriad of brilliant crystal drops that cast dazzling reflections onto the polished hardwood floor. A sigil in the shape of a small, rectangular monolith is on the ground. Resting on the ground is a cube-shaped silver sigil. An enormous onyx golem with inlaid sanguinite is here. The monstrous half-woman, half-spider form of Iosyne, the Malevolent is here.
You see exits leading north (open pine door), east (open pine door), and south (open pine door).
You have emoted: "I suppose the next question to ask is whether You want to continue with that other lesson, or if you would like to learn something different?" Sarita asks as she sets her flail and shield down and off to the side of the dance floor. "I am familiar with the one I saw, and there are certainly ways to expand on it, but I know others as well."
You cease wielding a menacing flail in your right hand.
You cease wielding a jewel-encrusted buckler in your left hand.
Iosyne takes in Her surroundings. She lays a hand on the smoking hole in Her chest, returning Her sightless eyes to you. "Such opulence. You are the teacher," She replies to your question, "I will leave that to you."
You have emoted: Sarita nods slowly to that. "In that case, would You also leave the choice of Your form to me as well?" She looks to Iosyne for an answer, then almost blurts out, "If that is something You still do change, and if You don't my asking."
A knowing smile splits Iosyne's face as She considers the request, flexing Her arachnid legs out to the side in turn. "I had heard dancing was mostly footwork. Is this form not well equipped for such?"
You have emoted: "I meant only that building on what You learned in one body might be easier in that same body." Sarita says, glancing again at Iosyne's legs. "I have some experience in that, switching in and out of my Earthen form as I do."
Iosyne's smile peels back wider, far beyond any sense of normalcy as it nearly splits Her face in two in amusement. "Very well," She accepts. The Malevolent's legs begin retracting grotesquely into Her arachnid thorax. That itself begins to warp, obscured partially by the haze wreathing Her form, twisting unnaturally as Her body reforms itself, leaving the Goddess standing shorter than before.
She is an Immortal and is nearly seven feet in height, shaped like a strongly-built athletic woman. Her heart-shaped face is angular, with Her eyes replaced by glowing white orbs, often narrowed into a stern glare. Glistening with a sheen of moisture upon it, Her radiant, ebony skin is barely clad in an ornamental covering of crimson silks and gold-plated armaments and bangles. She walks barefoot, and possesses four lean arms, with the second pair emerging just beneath the first. A haze of creeping shadows partially swathes Her form, surrounding Her like a heavy fog, and partially melding with the wild, voluminous mane of crimson-streaked black hair cascading from Her shoulders and down Her bare back. A pronounced gap is above Her left breast, where Her heart would be - instead, there is a black diamond-shaped hole, out of which emerges smoky tendrils of shadow.
(at the back of the neck) : a black-inked tattoo of a pair of crossed fists
(covering Her body) : a crimson silk top with gold adornments
You have emoted: Sarita summons the golem closer during the changes and positions herself and it together the same way shown in Iosyne's memory, albeit with one less set of arms. She waits politely for Iosyne to finish before saying, "I believe this should be quite familiar to You." With those words, she allows the golem to lead her in the same basic steps while counting a soft, repetitive, "One two three."
Iosyne's smile remains throughout the entire transformation, an eerie constant against the otherwise amorphous shifting of Her body. Complete, She watches the demonstration playing out with raised eyebrows. "Should I have brought a partner?"
Sarita in her Earthen form and the golem are far from being the most graceful pair on the dance floor, but in her mind, she conjures a few snippets of different twirls and spins that she remembers learning. In her own memory, her hands are arms are quite human, and she moves far more elegantly.
You have emoted: "Oh, you can use this one," Sarita says quickly. She releases the golem and it ambles over to Iosyne, stopping at a respectful distance. "I'm not entirely certain my own Lord would really approve of this kind of training for a golem, but it works well enough."
Iosyne pads across the remaining distance between Her and the golem on bare feet, clasping the rocky form. "I allowed Him to toss Me. I think He will indulge Me this," She replies, re-enacting the demonstrated steps - though unencumbered by stone, the Malevolent's movements lack their own grace, Her unpracticed re-enactment slow and careful.
As Iosyne works through the steps, familiarity settles across Her steps, smoothly transitioning from one phase to the next. She masters the basic steps, before releasing the golem to appraise you once more. "Let's make this easier."
You have emoted: Sarita is speechless for a moment and simply lets her golem lead a few practice steps until they stop. She tilts her chin in a slightly questioning gesture towards Iosyne. "How so?"
At a wave of Iosyne's hands, the shadows cast by the golden chandelier slither together, coalescing before you into a blank, featureless white mask. After a moment of stillness, shadows erupt from the mask, flowing downwards to assume a distantly familiar humanoid form.
Wordlessly, a shadow double hovers before you.
The tall form of this eerie shadow double hovers here weightlessly, appearing as a white mask with a billowing cloak of pure shadow as its body. The stark, featureless mask is pure white and empty of eye, molded into the exact shape of the likeness it was created from. Below the mask, a shifting blanket of shadow dangles near the ground, like an amorphous cloak whose shape is in constant flux. The thing makes no sound, and moves from place to place in a weightless glide.
A shadow double looks weak and feeble.
You have emoted: Sarita blinks once as she watches. It is only after the shadows take form that she asks, "Will that be Your partner?"
"Am I imagining, or does She really mean Ezalor?" Sarita's mind whirls with possibilities, but they seems to land there more often than not.
"Simpler than exchanging the golem," Iosyne states, renewing Her grasp upon Her stony partner. "It will be yours."
You have emoted: Sarita gives the shadowy figure a careful look before kneeling down and pressing one palm against the floor.
You kneel down and release your hold upon your earthen form. Within moments the earth begins to separate from you.
Within moments the last of the earth has separated from your body, leaving you in your normal form.
She is an adaptive, Human vampire whose posture is regal and erect, lending height to her otherwise slight frame. Her lean build might be that of a young boy if not for the beginnings of feminine curves. Well-toned muscles in her arms and legs keep her from looking overly skinny. Perhaps her most easily noticed feature is her hair, which is a bright coppery gold hue. Left free of any restraint but a circlet, they are long enough to brush past her elbows. Eyebrows of the same shade as her hair arc over eyes of periwinkle blue. The brightness of her hair contrasts sharply with the paleness of her skin, a uniform porcelain shade broken only by a faint smattering of freckles across her nose and cheeks.
You have emoted: Having returned to a much more manageable size, Sarita takes up the dance position again with the new partner. "The easiest spin is one that goes under the leader's arm in three regular beats," she says, doing a quick demonstration before slowing down and explaining, "The leader generally starts it by releasing the hand on the partner's back. The first beat is normal, but on the second, the leader lifts the left arm over the partner's head." She walks more slowly through the rest of the explanation, using exaggerated movements to show how both the leader and partner work through the turn and end up in the starting position.
A shadow double glides effortlessly through your lead, all the while emitting that consistent, barely audible wheezing, amusement conveyed through the tone.
You have emoted: As she finishes the movement, Sarita shifts back to look at Iosyne and her golem. "Would You like to try now?"
Iosyne mimics the movements, steps considered and careful. On the third pass, however, She collides with the golem's raised left arm, knocking it clear off its socket -.
At the crash, a shadow double exhales a distracting sound - you can just make out your name, escaping amidst the wheezes.
- Iosyne picks up the loose appendage stealthily (as much as possible, considering the racket) reattaching it to its owner. The golem glows momentarily with Divine essence as it is repaired.
Iosyne beams at you. "Easy," She declares, Her words belied by Her motions as She brushes onyx debris off Her shoulders.
You have emoted: Sarita doesn't have any visible reactions, aside from her eyebrows rising a bit at the destruction of the arm, and higher still at the sound of her own name. She doesn't contradict Iosyne's assessment. Instead, she simply says, "There is another similar spin that ends with the two partners side by side and holding each others' hands. It's good for moving across the floor, or it can just be a fun way to mix things up." As before, she does a quick demonstration, followed by a more detailed breakdown with slow and more obvious steps.
As a shadow double of a humanoid Azudim moves with you, its features become just a bit more distinct.
Although most of her concentration is on the lesson at hand, the back of her mind is still wrestling with the question of who or what her partner is.
To Her credit, Iosyne is more measured and careful this time, following your demonstration with appropriately slow and obvious steps. The Goddess carries through the routine several times, repeating until She moves through the sequence naturally, settling in the same end pose as you.
You have emoted: "To get back into the main position, you can either reverse the steps in, or..." Sarita pauses, stepping back out and then back in, "You can do a full turn outwards, and end like this." The second spin out brings the two side by side again, but instead of being close with both hands held together, they end up apart, joined only by one hand.
You say, "I think that way is more fun, and people wearing skirts can get them to flare out when they go fast enough."
Your first pass brings you face-to-face with a shadow double of a humanoid Azudim. Just before you send the shadow simulacrum whirling away again, you begin to make out distinct features carved into the mask...
Eschewing the first movement, Iosyne emulates you across the second movement. The flaring of Her loincloth is rather less impressive than that of a skirt, but She nevertheless ends facing you, joined with the golem by one hand.
You have emoted: "When you're like that, the partner just needs to do a half spin back, the leader takes one step to the side, and then you're right back here." Sarita says, finishing the move before the verbal explanation. The last of her words are spoken face-to-face with her shadow partner, and to an outside eye, may seem to be directed to it rather than Iosyne.
A shadow double of a humanoid Azudim's mask cracks, mouth hole curving into a wooden smile as the eyehole winks at you.
Iosyne releases the golem, studying the scene before Her curiously. She does not follow your steps this time, motionless instead.
A shadow double of a humanoid Azudim tightens its grasp upon you. A vision flashes across your eyes - a pair, submerged beneath a colossal fountain of blood.
You have emoted: Apparently not noticing Iosyne's stop, Sarita freezes and then almost tries to pull away from the shadow double. Remaining motionless instead, she simply stares at it, lips pressed firmly shut and face almost as expressionless as it could have been in her Earthen form.
Iosyne silently crosses the room, taking the mask in Her hands. She turns it towards Her, head canting to one side as She studies it, before releasing it once more. "Curious. Did you wish to speak with him?"
"I'd almost forgotten about that." A new rush of thoughts fills her head along with countless other images.
Slowly, you ask, "To him, or just something that has his face and maybe a bit of his personality mixed in?"
Iosyne, the Malevolent says, "That is up to you."
Once again - "Do I?"
The same wheezing laughter emanates from a shadow double of a humanoid Azudim once more - more pronounced now, ringing across the ballroom.
You have emoted: "I wouldn't mind giving him a good slap," Sarita says suddenly. "I think I owed him one for something at one point and never got to do it."
The laughter abruptly fades at your words, along with the smile previously adorning the mask. A shadow double of a humanoid Azudim turns its eyeholes first to Iosyne, then back to you, before abruptly crumpling - the mask drops to the floor, unsupported now, before that too melts into a puddle.
The world seems to contract, your sense of scale distorted as your heart beats. The phenomenon is gone as quickly as it came.
You have emoted: Sarita may have been on the verge of doing or saying something, but falls silent as she watches the puddle. The amber light from before, much less visible within the human body, passes through her again, looking more like a pale flush as it reaches her face and recedes.
He is an athletic Azudim vampire and stands tall, with broad shoulders and a well-defined frame. His arms are tempered and hard, hands large and calloused, and a pair of mighty legs lends his stance an aura of firmness and power. His short, immaculately groomed hair is slicked back: the locks above his forehead arrange upwards in waves leaning right while the hair surrounding his ears carefully clears them before drifting on to end at the nape of his neck. This neat, understated style draws attention to the pair of brilliant blue eyes glowing from the vampire's face, his unblinking stare mesmerizing. An ordinarily shaped nose sits above a pair of pale red lips; though his lips lack the vibrant colour one can see in his eyes, the crimson still paints a stark contrast to the whiteness of his clean-shaven skin. Twin arcs of midnight black erupt from his back, skeletal wings of massive proportions hanging down in jagged stages towards the ground; their massive structure of sinew and bone belie the strength contained within them. Streaks of crimson blood spatter his face.
(pressed and smooth) : a crisp white dress shirt
(forming a crisp knot around his neck) : an elegant purple tie
(perfectly accentuating his form) : a luxurious grey formal suit jacket
(straight down the leg) : pleated grey dress pants
(meticulously shined) : polished black dress shoes
(branded into his neck) : a black-inked tattoo of a pair of crossed fists
"It's rough out there," Ezalor greets Iosyne, rubbing his temples as his blue eyes close for a moment. An uncharacteristic shudder wracks the man's body before he shakes his head, sending errant stands of hair swaying. "Not at all what I expected." He turns now to you, running a hand back through his slicked-back hair to bring each strand back in order. "Oh, hi."
You have emoted: Instead of a polite or even friendly greeting, Sarita aims a harsh slap in the direction of Ezalor's cheek. "Just....Hi?"
The slap connects with a resounding smack, sending Ezalor's head twisting sharply with the force of the blow. He winces once again, raising a hand to rub sheepishly at his cheek. "Was that necessary? I've been off - " the Azudim cuts off abruptly; though no direct movement arises from Iosyne, he seems to think better of it. "So how have you been? It all seems so very different now. I cannot feel our Sire anymore."
You have emoted: Apparently choosing to ignore most of what was said before Ezalor brought up Abhorash, Sarita say quietly, "You can't feel him because he severed every bloodline there was. You didn't know that because you weren't -there-. You didn't have to watch and see him smile while it happened."
"Wow, you all really screwed up huh," Ezalor notes - he begins to wince a third time before catching himself, fixing you with a smile instead. "A few decades away and the Dominion managed -that-. Still, you look nice as ever." Though Ezalor's own physical features remain unchanged, there is a constant harrowed narrowing of the corners of his eyes.
You have emoted: Sarita's hand rises again at the word 'nice,' but she forces herself to lower it to instead ask, "What were you doing that so was much more important?"
Ezalor spreads his hands out to the side, shrugging his shoulders. "I'm not at liberty to say. I suppose I did leave rather abruptly, huh," he considers, tapping a finger against his chin. "Uh, sorry?"
Contriteness disappears almost instantly, however, as Ezalor winks at you. "I did it to give you a chance to miss me. Did it work?"
A short-lived chill, pervasive but not uncomfortable, rolls through your body, originating from your heart.
You have emoted: "Did you hope I would?" Sarita asks, with the slightest tilt of her head as she studies Ezalor in return.
"Deflecting question with question," Ezalor smirks, exhaling a stream of cold air to ruffle your hair. "Didn't realize you missed me that much. Well, She's granted me a bit of time here. Whatever unfinished business you want to discuss, whatever closure I owe you, now's the time." He rubs his cheek again, amending his offer. "As long as it doesn't involve another slap."
You have emoted: "I never said I missed you in the first place," Sarita says, reaching up almost unconsciously to brush her hair back into place. Her eyes drift briefly away from Ezalor and towards Iosyne, seeming to remember for the first time in the exchange that the goddess is still present as well. "Have you missed any of us?"
Def: You are surrounded by a faint bubble of Personal Space.
"Some of you," Ezalor nods, utterly disregarding your personal space as he reaches over to cup your cheek - or would, were it not for the protective bubble around you. "I don't remember that," he notes wryly, index finger flicking rudely at the imposing barrier. "Where I am now, what I do is...necessary. I will not be returning."
You have emoted: Sarita raises her hand again, this time not to slap Ezalor, but simply to wave the barrier away. "You might not believe this, but I actually managed to find someone who liked to bother me more than you," she says with the faintest of smiles. "He tried to kiss me and call me 'Mommy' in public, and not even losing his body a few times seemed to deter him."
'Mommy,' Ezalor mouths, disbelief plastered across his features before he breaks into laughter - full, booming laughter, with no hints of the double's previous wheeze. "When's the wedding?" he asks innocently.
Ezalor's eyes widen with mock realization, for the first time wiping away the harrowed cast to his gaze. "Is that what the dance lessons are for? To prepare for Mommy's wedding?"
You have emoted: "It was for a Dominion ball!" Sarita sounds and looks indignant at the very suggestion. "I still have absolutely no plans of ever marrying anyone, least of all him."
"Did I break your heart?" Ezalor asks flippantly, his hands already half-raised in defense of his abused cheek. "I was engaged once. For all of about two minutes." He tilts his head to the Goddess. "It ended with my face in Her stomach. All-in-all, a great success."
The world seems to contract, your sense of scale distorted as your heart beats. The phenomenon is gone as quickly as it came.
You have emoted: "I remember you telling me about that," Sarita says, glancing briefly towards Iosyne as well. She does lower her hands and voice a bit to add, "But no, you didn't break my heart. I think towards the end you felt more like a teasing brother than anything. You were..." She hesitates her, dropping her gaze briefly before bringing her eyes back to meet Ezalor's. "I think you were one of the few people I ever really thought of as a friend."
Ezalor exhales again - this time with his lower lip extended, pushing the air upwards to send an errant strand of his own hair flying backwards. "Brother. I need to work on my moves, clearly," he muses. With no barrier in the way, he does manage to cup your cheek this time. "I was - am - fond of you as well. The only other to match me in our Sire's eyes." His eyebrows lift now, the hold upon your cheek tightening involuntarily for a moment before relaxing. "And the last, I suppose. Shame. I would have brought him as many heads as it took to rectify whatever that situation was."
You have emoted: "I'm sure you would," Sarita says, a small smile forming on her face. She doesn't try to pull away from Ezalor's hand, but instead extends her own right one to the side. "Well, if you are as fond of me as you say, then you should be jumping at the opportunity to have one last dance with me. A real one."
Ezalor's eyebrows rise now in genuine surprise before soft laughter quickly replaces it. "I seem to recall, once upon a time, you spurning all such requests," he says, taking your hand. "And what a battle each time proved to be. You will have to bear with me. Not had much practice lately." The vampire starts slowly, settling into the forgotten rhythm.
You have emoted: In a lower voice, Sarita leans closer and says, "If you'd rather go for another swim in the fountain, we could do that instead."
In response, Ezalor dips you in the motion of the dance, following smoothly to plant a light kiss upon your lips. As his unblinking blue stare finds your eyes, some massive internal struggle seems to overcome the Azudim, his face contorting.
The struggle finally seems to resolve as Ezalor's mouth opens. "Mommy," he chokes out, unable to contain it, as a mischievous - and decidedly childish- smile plasters his face.
You have emoted: Sarita seems so surprised by the sudden kiss that her other hand clutches Ezalor's shoulder in surprise. Her fingers are cold, so much so that they seem to burn even through his clothing. "You..." she manages to say as she regains her balance.
"You kissed me in a way no one ever has before. In a way I never thought anyone would. And now you're just going to leave again, forever?"
Ezalor continues the dance, finishing the motion as the pair of you end face-to-face; the same pose as your last move with the shadow partner. "Thank you," he says solemnly, mirth gone from his face. "It has been a welcome reprieve. But my time is waning."
"That's probably for the best. I can't afford to love anyone."
You have emoted: Sarita gives Ezalor a small nod. "I'll remember you," she says in a very soft voice.
Ezalor tilts his head down, bringing his nose to press against yours. "One for the road?"
You ask, "One what?"
Ezalor cuts off your question with a deeper kiss, stealing a long moment before he finally separates from you. No flippant remark follows this one as he releases you. The man reaches into his pocket, retrieving a small black scale - upon pressing it to his chest, the chitinous material melts, reforming into a full body suit of blackened armour. In his hands materializes a wicked scythe, swathed in crimson haze. "Back to it," he says, turning to Iosyne.
Suddenly, you say, "Wait."
Ezalor hefts the scythe upon his shoulder, facing you once more. "Hm?"
Iosyne has mercifully rearranged the golem back into its proper configuration. She steps towards Ezalor but halts momentarily at your request.
You have emoted: Brushing her hair to one side, Sarita reaches behind her neck to unclasp her locket which she offers to Ezalor. "Take this to remember me too?"
You remove a golden locket of the earth.
Molded from pure yellow gold, this locket is both eloquent and practical. It is shaped like a heavily embossed tome and is decorated with black etchings. When opened the locket resembles an open book, but with no pages. The cavity of the small book contains a lump of red clay nested in soft yellow sand. The underside of the locket contains the words: "Strength in Earth". A matching gold chain runs through a small ring at the top of the locket and fastens around the wearer's neck.
Before your eyes, the form of the Malevolent begins to change, Her lower body distorting and shifting into a different shape altogether. Obscured only partially by the haze wreathing Her form, Her lower body elongates and widens into an arachnid thorax, six longer legs growing to join Her existing two. The grotesque transformation is complete in the span of seconds, giving the Goddess a greater height than before.
It is now dusk on Closday, the 25th of Variach, year 488 of the Midnight Age.
Ezalor accepts the locket. He removes a glowing ring from his own finger, pairing the two - a tendril of shadow haze rises from the ring, settling into the locket before he hangs it around his neck. He flips the ring to you. "Take care of it. That is my dearest possession."
Intertwining bands of blackened metal meet along the center of this simply crafted ring. A raised insignia sits at this meeting point depicting a pair of crossed fists; blood coats the entirety of this insignia, seeping out from the knuckles of each fist. Wriggling lines of shadowy haze encircle the ring, emanating from the mark of the Bloodletter.
Ezalor melts into a crimson pool once more, before that too dissipates, leaving no trace.
You have emoted: Sarita nods without speaking as she tests its size on a few of her fingers and eventually settles on the left ring finger.
The ring burns hot upon touching your skin, the mark of the Bloodletter glowing red as you slide the ring down your finger. An insatiable bloodlust tingles on the edge of your senses, seeming to pulse from the artifact.
Iosyne, the Malevolent says, "Thank you for the lesson - though it took quite a turn."
Iosyne gives a token of the Malevolent's esteem to you.
Iosyne warps out of perception, Her monstrous form separating into inky threads of shadow which slither away in different directions.