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It was nearly impossible, knowing you were going to die, not to have at least some periods of melancholy. Even though it had been a conscious choice on her part, Alice was no exception. She couldn't help but wonder if this was such a good idea after all, if it was really worth it, even if it was far too late. She didn't regret it, per se, she just couldn't turn off that speculative part of her mind. 'What if,' 'what, if,' over and over again, and it was frustrating because it was completely pointless and she knew it, but she couldn't help it.

What if none of this - none of it - had ever happened? What if the world hadn't gone all to pieces, and she was still in the Castle? With her friends, haunted by the past, but at least never alone with it. If he was there with her...

Alice shook her head, as though that would cast out the thought, and brought herself back to the garden around her. Anything that could have been was long gone, and she needed to leave it behind.

Like that was possible.
Tsunake's avatar

Bloodsucker

His long legs easily carried him through the gardens, navigating half on instinct at this point. He'd grown both familiar and fond of the Pantheon and the hope and peace it seemed to radiate. This was a place that nourished one's soul. Day by day, it was growing easier to accept what had happened in the past, and live for the future in hopes of serving as a strong vessel for Shuo Huang Zhe. He was already sacrificing both his body and his soul. There would be no Heaven for him. To beat himself up over it was senseless, but still easier said than done.

The young woman caught his gaze--or, the tie around her eyes did. Blind, then? Compulsion had him altering his gait, and he slowly began to approach her, not wanting to give her any reason for alarm. "Ma'am? Are you alright?"

I do not believe her to be as nearly as delicate as you might think. The dragon sounded very amused.

It's called courtesy, a*****e. A grimace crossed his face unconsciously as he offered the retort, but he focused quickly enough on her once more.
Hm? She started slightly when addressed, a flush of color rushing to her cheeks. Was her inner conflict that obvious? It wasn't like she was crying. Oh, wait. Right. Blindfold. Awkward. She was going to have to get used to people not being used to it.

"Huh? Oh." Alice touched the cloth, chuckling. "Yeah, I'm fine." Mostly unoffended, she studied him for a moment. He was tall, and...dressed like a priest? She couldn't quite decide whether that fit with the setting or not.

"I, uh..." The woman rose to her feet and offered a hand in greeting. "I'm Alice."
Tsunake's avatar

Bloodsucker

The slight tinge of color on her face was enough to catch him off guard, and Laurence studied her a little longer before reluctantly allowing himself to be more at ease. The way she'd touched the cloth made it clear that she'd been asked that kind of question before, and he couldn't help but inwardly cringe to know he was just another person on that list.

"Laurence." His grip was firm, but by no means crushing. Callouses on her palm, he noticed. He refused to even acknowledge it, less he give Shuo even more of a reason to gloat.

"You new around here?" He ventured after a moment. God, he hoped not. He didn't want to have to explain anything.
Alice grasped his hand for a moment longer than necessary, taken aback by the odd feeling to him. It was like touching two people at once. One was clearly at the forefront - and there was guilt there, but that was normal enough - but there was someone else there somewhere. Huh.

"Not brand new," she answered finally, "But new enough, I guess." Not enough to need an explanation, though - she'd gotten that courtesy of Glaucon taking over his host right in front of her. She really hoped Kyrjadis didn't have wings like that. Actually, any wings would probably hurt.

Alice hesitated, then asked, "You a host?"
Tsunake's avatar

Bloodsucker

He was just trying to figure out what new enough meant when she popped the question, and though he shook his head with surprise, the man nodded after a pause. "Yeah. Host to a Dragon King. Mang." The man felt awkward trying to look her over to see if she had a gem on her person, so he kept his eyes fixed on the blindfold wrapped around her face.

....That was awkward, too.

Or you could simply look at her like a normal person. Smile! The dragon advised merrily.

Laurence's scowl deepened.
Even if Laurence had looked, he wouldn't have found a gem, unless he was very perceptive; she'd set it over her hip, where it was covered by her clothes. Putting it somewhere exposed just hadn't seemed right. Happily, she didn't have to worry about him seeing her look him over - there were benefits to this crazy blindfolded thing.

Including watching his awkward stare and serious scowl. She should probably make some indication, sooner or later, that she could see him. It was a little unfair.

"Oh, I've met one of those, Xun Jiang." Alice paused again, then added, since it was only fair, "I have Justice, Kyrjadis."
Tsunake's avatar

Bloodsucker

"Ah, Xun Jiang, yeah..." But no Illisia? How long ago had she disappeared? His teeth sank into his lower lip as he mulled it over, thinking it was just as well that he'd requested his own place. He didn't know if he could handle seeing what used to be someone he considered a friend. "Justice..." There was definitely a sense of intrigue there, and he was snapped out of his own thoughts to focus on Alice again.

"Pleasure to meet you both, then. How long ago did it happen...?" He wasn't meaning to pry, not really. Call it a morbid curiosity.
"A few weeks," she answered, unbothered. She had her own tendency to pry, and it took something really personal to get her to balk at revealing if someone asked.

The 'pleasure to meet you both' thing was a little weird, but she could feel that Kyrjadis was pleased to be acknowledged, and to 'meet' a second dragon. Now, what was that about letting him know you can see him? she reminded the woman as the man continued to make faces he otherwise might not.

Alice frowned. Having a voice in her head was not easy to adjust to, but the goddess had a point. "So uh, how's a priest end up somewhere like this?"

A little more subtle than 'Hey, I can totally see you.'
Tsunake's avatar

Bloodsucker

How the hell did she know he was a--the realization hit him like a slap in the face, and though the man slowly smoothed out his features, his cheeks had definitely colored with shame. Clearing his throat slightly, Laurence adamantly shut out the sound of Shuo's laughter in his mind.

"I was seeking out God." He finally said, a little gruff. "...I pledged to help rebirth one of his servants, so that I could do some good for the world with my death."

His sins could not be so easily forgotten, but, slowly, they were being forgiven.
It was always sort of funny, watching someone figure it out, but she was very good and didn't 'notice' it, except for a tiny quirk of her lips. It was better, really, to just gloss over it and save a him some embarassment. Besides, it was completely understandable to assume someone wearing a blindfold was blind. It would be mean to call him on it.

Moving on, that was a very serious answer, like maybe he'd been dying anyway. That line of questioning, however, was a little too deep this soon after 'Nice to meet you,' so it stayed with her. The result was an awkward pause while she tried to extract a conversable subject out of that.

"This is all kind of an adjustment, isn't it? I've seen some weird stuff, but I definitely never expected to see God." Or that God would have rainbow hair, for that matter.
Tsunake's avatar

Bloodsucker

"It's not what I expected," Laurence had to admit, awkwardly rubbing the back of his head. Yeah. Rainbow hair... and really, really pale skin. But He had been just as kind, generous, and loving as He had always been, in Laurence's mind, so the priest couldn't really complain.

"At the same time, I don't really know what I'd been expecting. I'd never thought there were multiple gods, but it makes sense, thinking on it. Kind of a lot of work, all for one guy." There was a slight snort at that, and his lips feebly quirked up in a smile. Not to mention that Harmodius had nearly died only recently. It was a grim reminder of why his sacrifice was so desperately needed.

"How'd you end up here?" It was only fair that he got to pry in turn, right?
"True," she agreed with a tip of her head. She'd never given that much thought to what God would be like, but she'd had something...older in mind. White hair, beard, that sort of thing, the way he was usually pictured in art. As to demeanor, well, that had mostly seemed fitting. He had a very formal, sometimes obscure, way of speaking.

"Oh, well, I got a little lost, couldn't get back home." That was the very simple version, minus pocket dimension weirdness. "I wandered around for awhile. Illisia found me, not long ago, and brought me here."
Tsunake's avatar

Bloodsucker

The night elf's name had a pronounced impact on the man, and his face fell for a moment. "Ah. She's a sweetheart." Was a sweetheart. Hell, he was going to have to seek the newly born Dragon King out again in due time, just to see what damage had been done. The priest debated with himself a moment, eying the young woman. From the sounds of it, she was at least friendly acquaintances with the other host...

"...Illisia's gone now. Just so you know. She's a Dragon King, now."
Ah, so they'd been friends. It was obvious in Laurence's expression. Alice had been more disconcerted by the change than dismayed by it, having met the night elf only once. Not that it wasn't sad, but it wasn't a...personal loss. She also tended to detach herself a little, emotionally, though that had been a relatively recent development. Her time in the Castle had changed a lot of things.

"I know," she said calmly, "I saw him the other day. ...I'm sorry."

It made sense that they'd have been friends, as they were both hosts, and to the same type of god. Maybe all the hosts knew each other, assuming they did all gather here. How many hosts were there, anyway?

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