This one began with an exchange of letters between Mordain and @Soramizu
where the latter mentioned she was being watched by a Horkvali woman and holed up in an asylum. Naturally, Mordain went to go get her.
A sterile hallway.
A sigil in the shape of a small, rectangular monolith is on the ground. Resting on the ground is a cube-shaped silver sigil. Flecks of shale fling from a colossal earthen guard with each ambling motion he makes. Scanning the surroundings with a cool expression, a domineering Carnifex knight stands on watch here. Soramizu is curled against the door, feathers in disarray.
You see exits leading north (open pine door), east, west, and down (closed pine door).
On hearing your entrance, Soramizu barely moves, gathering the minimal energy required to peek at you from beneath the curve of her wing.
You say, "Soramizu!"
Mordain runs to you and kneels down.
You say, "What happened? Why are you here?"
Soramizu withdraws, just slightly, enough to keep you out of reach. She looks worse for wear, not visibly injured, but with a few broken feathers here and there. "Hiding. I think I am being followed."
You say, "Followed?"
Mordain appears incredibly concerned, but keeps his distance so as not to provoke or startle you. "Followed by the Horkvali?"
Soramizu refuses to answer, shrinking into a smaller and smaller mass of feathers until she is just a pair of eyes amidst a cloud of red and white. "Something like that. I don't think she's Bloodlochian, and so I am hiding here. It's safe."
Mordain reaches out gently with his claws in a slow, careful movement to brush away a few broken feathers on your arms. "You are being hunted, then? Stalked?" He lapses into thought for a moment, considering all options, before speaking again. "I can get you out of here, if you want me to. Take you somewhere else. Do you want me to help you escape? Or anything else? Please... just tell me how I can help."
Mordain reaches out again in supplication, the ring you dropped prior shimmering on his index finger in the faint light.
Soramizu's gut reaction is to hiss, ally though you might be. She scuffles off to the side, sinuous, and in the blink of an eye has put a foot of distance between you. "No touching," she warns, peering at you with equal parts hostility and fear.
Mordain seems... hurt by that, very much so, but withdraws his hand close to his chest and lowers his head, saying nothing. "...Alright," he musters at last, "that's fine. Look. You need help, right? Then let me help you. If you want out, I can get you out. If you need safety, I can help protect you. But I can only do what you'll let me do. What do you want?"
Soramizu takes some time to thaw. She's all bristle and snarls for the duration of your speech; but seeing no retaliation, Soramizu pauses. Her belligerence wanes, dying down to its last embers, and she stretches her neck to view you more closely. Nothing is spoken, but the expression you're given implies tentative trust.
Mordain smiles gently at the indication and reaches out his hand again, this time stopping before coming close. "Soramizu. I just want to help you. I'm not going to hurt you, or mock you, or cast you aside. I know all of that all too well. Please... let me help you. What do you need?" His expression is intent, filled with worry and a desire to do something, -anything- to give succor or aid.
Soramizu sniffs at you, your hand, as if your scent would convey to her risk of harm. She sits up, very gradually, her arms at her side, wings bent to cover her back. "I'll go," she says, not without hesitance. Her wandering eyes flit to you, the door of the asylum, everywhere, assessing any changes in environment. "If we go quickly."
Soramizu begins to follow you.
You say, "Deal."
You say, "I'll take you to Spinesreach."
--At the bath atrium outside Spinesreach--
You say, "Here, it's outside the city, since I don't know how you feel about Spinesreach."
You say to Soramizu, "I can see your particular tendencies. This place is warmer, and more concealed."
Soramizu's hard gaze softens. She's too preoccupied to acknowledge the attendant's comings and goings, circling about the atrium to subsume its various scents, to brush against the many plants that hang as adornments, or occupy space upon the floor. "I remember this," she murmurs. "Yes. I used to come here."
Mordain smiles softly, showing a few teeth in the process. "These are the baths. They are property of the city but can be used by any allies who wish to. It's one of the most relaxed, safe places here."
Soramizu shakes the settling dew of humidity from her feathers, looking pleased as punch. You've chosen correctly. She's livelier now -- excited, almost, with danger all but forgotten. "My... my mate used to live in the North. I would visit. Many a century ago."
Mordain is quiet after the statement. He's happy he's done something to make things easier and more relaxed, but the words still linger. Did she lose someone precious to her? He reaches out to her back... but falters as his arm drops back to his side. "Mate? What happened?"
Soramizu's still fearful of touch, but now tenses only, managing to curb the impulse to skitter away. "He stayed Consanguine, and slowly, as time passed, he lost the will to awake from his coffin. It's a difficult existence." The last few words hang poignantly; she looks to you.
Mordain nods slowly. "I see. It must be - the ennui of ages must be a hard thing to bear. I am sorry to hear that. I did not mean to bring up old, painful memories. Sincerest apologies." He inclines his head to you, then begins to look around the atrium curiously, rubbing his right arm.
Soramizu shrugs off your apology, either because the matter means little to her, or because -- and this seems more likely -- it means too much. She departs deeper into the recesses of the bathhouse, loping in her strange, bounding hop as she is wont to do.
Soramizu swims off to the northeast.
A Heart of Darkness ring comes speeding in from the northeast and strikes you!
You pick up a Heart of Darkness ring.
You begin to steadily swim northeast.
--In the sauna--
Mordain holds out a Heart of Darkness ring. "Here, you threw this at me."
Soramizu's going to give you whiplash. She waxes hot and cold from one moment to the next, chipper now, morose later. At the moment, she's coy, playful, and her excess energy has her jumping to the highest tier of benches. "You can have it. A gift. For your kindness." She pats the spot beside her, suggesting that you climb to her perch. "Which I still do not understand."
Mordain is absolutely astounded by the sheer spectrum of emotion and energy you're displaying, but seems almost terribly pleased from the familiarity being shown. He slips the ring on his finger and admires it for only a second before clambering up to join you, hands and feet being used in a fashion that reminds you of a great lizard climbing to reach prey. He sits down next to you and rubs his claws against his cheek, smiling faintly. "It is only right. I need no gift - I only wish to help. You... seem to need it. And I understand that. It feels strange. But nice. Like a bond, almost. I'll treasure the ring."
Mordain leans back, luxuriating in the warmth the sauna provides. He's a Xoran, and so vulnerable to the cold. He seems to physically relax a little, muscles loosening.
Soramizu scoots toward you after a long, long pause for deliberation -- it's just a centimeter or two, but this molehill seems to be her Vashnar mountain. She looks for your reaction, squinting through the steam, and then shyly drops her gaze to observe her wiggling, taloned toes. "Are you going to die?" she asks suddenly, somber, pensive, concerned. "What will you do about...?" Her chin lifts, and with this little gesture she points out your flawed arm.
Mordain looks over at you and smiles gently, allowing you to approach at your own time, your own pace. His expression suddenly turns into a mixture of thoughtful and concerned, but he can't answer right away. At last he does however, shrugging slowly - something that seems difficult for him. "Maybe? I know it's spreading. It'll get to my shoulder soon, and my whole arm will become like this. I don't know what will happen when it reaches something vital. As for what I'm going to do about it... well... I can't really do -anything-, honestly. Even the Archivists can't seem to figure out a solution."
Soramizu's legs swing. She just sits there, staring at her kneecaps, unsure of what to say, how to console you. And then, here it comes again: "Join me. We'll take the Blood together. Maybe... it'll stop the spread. Or fix you entirely." Now it's her turn to reach for you and reconsider, coming just short of your tainted arm. Absent of the ability for true, physical contact, she extends a hand -- as she did once before -- so that she palms the air by your face. There's tenderness there. Compassion.
Mordain looks at you, eyes half-lidded, jaws slightly open, scarred forked tongue flicking out every so often. His head instinctively tries to come in contact with your hand, but he stops himself to prevent the contact, for fear of driving you off. "The Blood, huh? Undeath. I've... given it a lot of thought, when you suggested it. But, you said yourself as well. Why you? Why me?" His eyes seek understanding. There's pain behind them, a tint of fear, and maybe a tiny spark of hope. He wants to believe. He wants to know. But just like you... he's scared inside.
"The same reason, for both of us. A second chance," Soramizu says. She speaks with the uneasy, plodding speed of someone lacking full conviction. "The Mazhar tells me that it's possible for you to be cured. Perhaps not entirely. Or perhaps, yes, entirely. But there is *a chance*, and I think that is difficult to dismiss." The bird-woman drops her arm, then, but leaves it close to you -- accidentally or on purpose, this is difficult to discern.
The air crackles around you as the mighty roar of a Dragon reverberates across Sapience, announcing Tanixalthas has awoken.
Mordain suddenly jerks upright with a sudden motion, staring at the ceiling, towards the sky. "Tanixalthas..." he mutters before shaking his head and focusing back on the situation at hand. He brings his knees up slightly and looks intently at you, thinking. "I can understand myself. But why you? How is it a second chance for you? You came back to life. You seem hesitant at the thought. I would never want you to do something that would cause you any kind of weight or harm." He retrieves something off his finger and, with a dash of courage, uses his hand to grasp your own, placing it in it.
Soramizu, too, blinks at the ceiling, stressed when given any reason to be. She shifts so that she crouches on the bench, talons curled over the edge of the wood, feathers lifting like the hackles on a wolf. Nothing emerges, of course, so she eases up -- for the moment. "It's a second chance to make my family proud. I left to great disgrace. I was never..." She pauses, collecting the right word for description. "I was never the daughter my parents wanted. They may be gone, now, but I will honor their memory."
Soramizu is either too surprised by your gesture, or has warmed up to you over time, because she does not struggle. All she does is stare at you placidly -- perhaps you imagine it, but there is some warmth in how she regards you.
Mordain shakes his head subtly, the steam dispersing around him with the motion. "But is it what -you- want, Soramizu? Do you want to embrace undeath again?" He smiles at your expression, at the warmth containing within. Then it goes back to concern, however, at the thought. "It feels.... forced though, Soramizu. I would never desire you to choose something based on another's expectations." He lets go of your hand, leaving the multi-parted ring ensemble in your grasp, but leaving his claws close to your own. "Look. Think about it, alright? I will as well. You seem tired. Why not get some rest?"
"What I want has never mattered," Soramizu says. This is a profoundly sad statement, but she speaks plainly, matter-of-factly, the way that one might relate news of changing weather. "Some are destined to chart their own course. Others are destined to serve." She closes her hand around your ring -- her ring, now, with a possessiveness that you've seen before. She holds it, brings her clenched fists beneath her chin, and grants you a lingering look, as if committing your face to memory. "Yes, sleep. But please don't disappear." Her face and voice carry such somberness that this cannot be misconstrued as a joke.
Mordain reaches out a hand gently and settles it near your face, the same as you had done for him. "I serve too. I know. But we have our own wills. And what you want -does- matter. If it matters to no one else, it matters to me. I swear it on my name. I will do anything I can to help you, to take your burdens as my own. If you truly choose to go into undeath... then I will go with you. I won't let you carry it alone. But I need you to choose. I need you to embrace this decision. Because to do something with constant regret is to consign yourself to despair. I... I know that as well." He smiles then, wide, reassuring. "I will be here. I will not disappear. You can count on that."
To this grand declaration, Soramizu responds with her natural reticence. She tilts her head, coming closer still to your touch, but maintains just that slight, unbreakable distance that is always so frustratingly present. At a figure shrouded by steam's' arrival, Soramizu withdraws, languid, dazed; a step takes her, floating on outstretched wings, from the highest bench to the floor, She crouches at a figure shrouded by steam's' feet. "Mazhar."
Mordain vaults down as well, staring at the figure lost in the misty steam. "Who... are you?" He asks warily, voidstaff coming to his left hand.
To Be Continued...