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Vermillion Gekko

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A Darkness Creeps
WIP Joint with Trivii`

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Eftemie's avatar

Vermillion Gekko

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Or the Horn of War
07.13.08 Solo

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His thoughts were scattered between what he already knew and what he suspected. His pace reflected such as he began to straggle behind Saljin. The shifter stopped once, waiting on him. Then ten minutes later, he sat down again. The third time he turned around not hearing the sound of Jaster's feet, he growled in annoyance. Jaster was nowhere to be seen. He'd have to backtrack and see what trail he could find.

Jaster wandered off the road down by a path which once had been well-used as indicated by the few ruts made by wheels. It had long since overgrown, tangled with plants that now were little more than dry skeletons rasping and rattling in the faint breeze that slid by. They crunched beneath his feet as if warning him to turn back. But this habitual distraction was becoming a way of life to him and he simply continued on.

Following the trail around, he walked beneath the trees that stood like ancient guardians, bones rasping dryly as they were caught by death in the midst of whatever they were doing. As much as he studied them, his feet were never still. He continued walking, drawn until he reached the end of the road. Then he stopped to gaze around the scene before him slowly.

The remains of two buildings pulled his focus. The house was crumbled in upon itself, decaying and rotting, with little left but the foundation. He barely glanced at it but imagined for a second a tremendous fist dropping down, smashing and scattering it. The stable was of fairly large size and would have once housed a dozen horses or more. The fences were broken, their boards splintered and rotting. The field behind was dry and barren except for a few lifeless stalks of weeds scattered about.

For a long moment he gazed at it, thinking that it might have once been glorious with green fields, white fences, and equines running wild, their manes and tails tossed into the air as they ran by. The large door was broken in half and one portion lay on the ground, but that did not stop him from going inside to see what was there. It seemed but an instant that he stood there staring, imagining the safety of stalls and warmth of polished saddles still hanging on the walls of the tackroom.

But as he stepped further inside, the creaking eerie tones of chimes clicking together caught his ears. Above each stall doorway hung several strange things. As he examined them, Jaster decided that some were made of bones. They clicked and clacked unsteadily as if they were being tapped by the hand of someone unseen in amusement. He briefly wondered what animal the crafter had deigned to use for them.

Walking from one stall to the next imagining that it once had some warmth, Jaster could almost see the building come to life. Stablehands would lead the horses out, saddling them in the finest blankets and leather before riding them about the fields for exercise. The best hay and straw for their food and beds. He could almost see it as his eyes took in all that was within.

A large stall stood in front of him while a stale breeze rushed though quickly, swinging everything in its path. A sudden loud knock upon the wood startled him, drawing his eyes upwards.

A horn hung from the rusted nail just over the door leading into the stall. Reaching up, his fingers caressed the smoothness of the bone. Had it been dyed or soaked in something more? A creamy burnished bloodred that he had never seen before caught his eyes and held them. His touch glided over the dark metal wrapping placed over the smaller tip. A section wrapped the largest opening of the horn though there were two layers encrusted with some odd reddish and black gems. Strange symbols created the design embossed down the side, but their meaning was lost on him, though intricate in design. A leather lacing was looped between both portions of metal as if needed for hanging upon a saddle or belt. He knew little of such things wondering how it had come to be hanging there.

Taj nudged him faintly causing Jaster to hesitate a moment. Their connection seemed to be getting stronger. The god's interaction with him was filled with tickles and small nudges, and both were amused by it. Jaster was truly beginning to like the personality of the god that was appearing. He knew what it was that Tajnevaki wanted from him, and though his choice was unmade, it was very clear. Did he want to become a part of Taj and yet someone entirely new?

The horn moved again, knocking against the wood, jarring the boy's thoughts back to it. Did he take it? Or should he leave it? He wondered brieftly what it sounded like. After a moment more, Jaster pulled the horn from off the hook. He studied it carefully turning it over and over in his hands.

"Well, Taj, shall I blow it or not?"
His voice was amused though not really expecting a reply.

Amusement appeared between them and he laughed suddenly. The sound rippled through the air somewhat out of place. The bone chimes began rattling as if trying to imitate the sound. Then Jaster pressed the horn to his lips. He expected dust and muted sound to come from it, but surprisingly nothing happened.

For a long moment, he hesitated, turning it upwards so he could peek inside. Nothing plugged it, so he raised it once more. Air filled his lungs and then burst outwards into the horn.

Again silence. But it was then Jaster noted that even the bones were rattling no more. The breeze seemed to have stilled and the air became cloistering and he scowled at the absence.

A neigh split the air calling for attention. Jaster whirled to see a winged horse standing before him. For an instant all he could do was blink in surprise as she pawed the earth of the stable nearly 20 paces from him.

Jet rose up her legs as if inky depths were rising upwards to reach the bloodred color that stained most of her body. A glistening black mane and tail were tossed about while she watched as if in study of him. A spiral horn, blood red at the bottom and black at the tip rose from her forehead, but she was no unicorn. At least none he'd ever seen. For an instant Jaster saw an expression in her eyes held deep within, but it was truly warlike and wild.

For a long moment they simply stared at one another. Suddenly she pranced backwards as a dry rattling wind began to blow gusting through the stable. Jaster's hair was tossed forwards into his eyes as he tried to keep his eyes on her. The rotten straw was whirled into the air as the bone chimes clacked louder and louder.

Taj nudged him faintly, teasingly. Jaster blinked, his voice soft. "A trial comes this way?" That was the impression he had gotten.

"Who dares to summon MY horse?" a voice asked. Dry rasping and caked with age, it demanded rather than pleaded to have attention paid to it. The ownership was clear as Jaster turned back to the stall door.

The creature was made of bones, the skeleton once of a man. Ragged bits of cloth covered knobby knees as it stumbled forwards. Dust dropped as it straightened its jaw, eyes beginning to glow.

"If 'tis a challenge you seek,
Then prepare yourself well.
The life will slip easily from
Those who show themselves meek.

Only a master can ride an Erras
But all must prove
Fate stands at their side.
We now have nothing to discuss."

Jaster blinked staring from the horse to the skeleton now standing in front of him. It was approaching with anger in its eyes. He glanced at the horse, easily able to see that the creature was going to give him no ground. It was pawing the earth at the doorway, eyes watching each move.

Pulling his dagger out, Jaster warily braced himself. Then he tossed the dagger as straight as he could. The blade flew through the air lodging between two ribs.

Laughter echoed as it glanced down, yanking the weapon free. For a moment it watched Jaster gleefully smirking. Then it dropped the blade to the ground and began moving again.

"If only I were more as flesh,
Then twould have had me on the ground.
Bleeding and leaking in pain
The dagger would have been enmeshed."

Reaching out the creature swung its fist as the last word was spoken hitting Jaster squarely in the jaw. Staggered backwards, he braced himself against the wood of the stall beside him. Wiping his lip off, he frowned to see blood. Whatever this thing was it could hurt him, but how did he injure it? Could he stall it by talking to it?

"Who are you? I only blew the horn. I did not know it was yours."
His voice was curious despite his nervousness and he watched closely.

"Old Medger am I
Vengeful and possessive
Challenge has been given
Many only wimper and sigh.

Their fingers hang from the beams
Their eyes long sightless
Flesh is gone and my old ears
Are deaf to their pleas."

Jaster glanced around quickly, trying to figure a way around or through this thing. The stalls would block him in and the horse would not let him pass. His dagger did nothing and lay upon the ground behind the animated skeleton now and was unreachable.

Standing straight, Jaster lashed out at Medger with his booted foot. It had worked on one of the hexes, breaking the kneecap. The heel smacked bone and the leg dropped free. For a instant the creature tottered, unbalanced as he stared at Jaster in glee. The bone rose upwards into the air, fitting back where it was jointed.

The boy growled in sudden frustration, wondering where Saljin was at that moment. It was his fault for wandering away, but usually the shifter caught up to him after only a few minutes. Moving a few steps closer to the horse who neighed in irritation, tossing dirt into the air, Jaster tried to figure out what to do next.

Daggers did not work because it had no flesh. Separating a bone from him did nothing because Medger could pull himself back together.

"Challenge tossed out
My horse and horn to win
Bloodred suns long past
Are waiting for thou.

A little of this
A little of that
Daggers, bones, and branches
To win what is his.

In loneliness and need
An Erras awaits
One who comes in curiosity
Rather than greed.

So notch your bow
And keep it true
And she will be yours
With a deathblow."

Jaster blinked, trying to listen to the riddle as the creature got closer and closer to him. He understood now that the bones in the chimes were the finger-bones of those who had dared to blow the horn before him. He shivered lightly, but shoved his focus back to the riddle. He did not plan to end up like they were.

Notch his bow? He didn't have a bow. Why would the thing say that unless there was something he needed to know within. All he could do at the moment was try to keep his distance. And that would end as soon as he got to the horse which he certain would attack if he tried to slip past it.

Distance? Jaster blinked in surprise. That was what he was doing already. A bow was a distance weapon. His dagger had been too close he suddenly understood. He had to hurry and solve this. Branches were wood. Was it wood that would work on it? He couldn't be more than seven paces from the horse and it was waiting for him to get too close to its hooves. His thoughts grew slightly frantic as he quickly went over each word while keeping out of the way of both horse and owner.

He stumbled backwards nearly sprawling, as his boot kicked a broken portion of the stall. It was sticking out and was of a length to keep him out of Medger's reach. If he could rip it free, it would work or so he hoped. It was only two paces away. He'd have to be quick.

With all his strength, Jaster pulled and tugged. At first the nails did not want to let loose and he kicked it twice hoping to splinter it. The creature reached out, sharp bony fingers grabbing hold of Jaster's arm and shoving him backwards. The boy stumbled, sprawling in surprise. Just as it reached for him, he kicked out with both feet hitting both skeleton knees. They popped lose dropping the creature down as Jaster rolled away.

"Not today, old fiend."
he muttered, moving towards the board. If he could just get it free, then he could break that thing to pieces. He hoped. Maybe if it were shattered enough, Medger would simply stop. The horse neighed scraping the dry earth with a sharp hoof but whether encouragement, the boy did not know. He'd deal with the horse afterwards.

He nearly fell when it came free, but as he turned, Old Ledger came at him again. The legs were back in place and he was moving, reaching. Jaster avoided and a hiss came free of the skeleton as it entirely missed the boy.

He swung as hard as he could breaking armbones. But instead of watching them drop, Jaster swung again and again. He broke the ribs and the shoulders. Then he went for the neck. When the head rolled free, Jaster began to bash it into the ground, cracking the skull into many pieces. The light in the eyes dimmed as Jaster kicked the legs apart.

"At last we are free
The horn and horse
dressed for knights
And myself to oversee.

An Erras is a rare gift
Magical and fiery
Some say godly descent
To other worlds it may lift.

Only you know our tale
Our secret is over
Old Medger can now rest.
Her name is your own to wail."

The eyes dimmed further then went out entirely. Jaster stared for a moment, then he heard hooves slowly walking his way. Gingerly she stepped his way, watching him. The expression she had carried was still deep within her eyes, but she stopped just short of him, pawing the earth with some trepidation.

"I'm guessing I need to give you a name."
His voice was soft gentle as he tied the horn to his belt. He reached out to touch her nose gently, featherlight his touch. She moved closer breathing in his scent as if marking it for her own. "I don't know whether it was truly vindication or vindictiveness I saw within your eyes, but it matters little either way to me. I've understood both in my life. So... Truvin. Yes. That will suit you. Truvin you are to me."

As if giving her approval, she nudged up closer to him, nibbling his hair for a moment. Then she pranced as if she wanted to run. Jaster laughed, shaking his head, but patted her, sending her on.

His teeth tugged his lip as she quickly vanished bringing out a wince. The horn had summoned her and he suspected it would again. For now she was on her own. He gingerly touched the cut knowing that Saljin would be worried.

Walking from the barn, he turned to stare back at it a moment. Nothing else called to him there. But he suddenly heard the flutter of wings behind him and flinched.

"Jaster, you have got to stop doing that." the shifter stated the instant he had regained his human form. "You are going to get into trouble and I won't be there."

"I know."
he said tiredly turning around.

Saljin raised an eyebrow at the disheveled condition and the bruised jaw and cut. He reached out to touch it.

"Ow! That hurts!"
Jaster jerked his head away, scowling at his friend.

"I hope it does. What happened?" He folded his arms and waited.

Jaster stared at him. It was his secret to keep. "Just some trouble with a pile of bones in the stable. Let's go."

"Tripped, huh? One day you will have to tell me." Saljin was suddenly quite certain that Jaster had indeed been in trouble. He fell into pace with the younger whom he noticed was staying ahead of the shifter rather than falling behind. The shifter smiled knowing that perhaps the younger had learned a valuable lesson.

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Vermillion Gekko

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Stone Trouble
The Trouble With Trell
07.30.08 Solo

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Both were tired from walking the entire day. It had not occurred to Jaster to sumon Truvin. Instead they had covered several miles taking their time, but at a constant pace they could handle. Jaster was looking forwards to resting for hte night. Twice they had to fight off some errant creature who thought to make a meal of one of them. His body was simply worn out and he wanted to sleep.

Noticing some large rocks, Saljin pointed towards them. It was getting close to sunset and he wanted them camped before they could not see. The rocks would protect them and hide their fire more than simply stopping in the open where they were. Unless someone came right up to them, they'd remain unseen.

"I think here, Jaster." Moving forwards he quickly gathered what wood he could to help them make a fire. It would keep it warm as well as keep other things away or even give them an option to fight something off. Many things feared flames. "See what wood you can get quickly, but don't go far."

He nodded, moving tiredly outwards after dumping his pack. Circling to just outside the rocks, he picked up what he could find. Dropping it on his return, Jaster sat down heavily on the ground. Pulling his bedroll out, he spread it out next to the fire that was beginning to burn brightly. Munching on a bit of cheese, he frowned. "Food is getting low, Saljin. We'll have to try to find an abandoned store or something soon."

"I know, Jaster. We aren't far, I don't think." His own bed was as easily made. All he wanted to do was sleep.

"You know what he wants, don't you?"
Jaster asked, as he lay back on the thin mattress. His hands behind his head, he stared upwards for a moment. "I've suspected awhile now."

"Who?" Saljin turned in surprise to watch Jaster a moment. Only one thing could be on his mind. Tajnevaki. The god in the stone he carried. "Taj?"

"Yes. It's me. I think I have to change to let him live. Or maybe..."
he hesitated, remembering some of the things that he'd been shown. "...maybe we need to change together. That's my choice. Whether I accept him and let him have this life or whether I become part of him and we become someone else. Someone... who is both. Someone new."

Saljin stared for an instant, his mouth open to speak but then he didn't know what to say. Then he found his voice. "Are you sure about this, Jaster? You'd have to give up all that you are. I mean if he's a dead god, then is there not a reason for it? Does he deserve to take your life from you?" He ran a hand through his hair, smoothing it as he tried to grasp the magnitude of what Jaster had stated.

"He needs me or he'd not be in my possession, Saljin. I don't think he wants to hurt me or anyone, but I do believe from the dreams and thoughts I've picked up from him that he needs me with him. Not just to grow but something in what I am."
Jaster frowned as he lay back on his bedroll. "Whatever happened before he failed in some way. Was lacking, but together there is a chance we would not. He wants me as part of him. Evadne said the gods could be cruel and just act taking from me and shunting me aside. The god in the cavern said as much also. He has not. He's giving the choice to me. I simply have to make it."

"Think long and hard on this, Jaster. Make sure it is what you want because I have the impression that there is no going back after it is done." The shifter warned still somewhat stunned by the thought of Jaster actually going through with it.

Jaster glanced upwards simply staring as he tried to think. Taj lay strangely silent even though the boy had patted the pocket to ensure he was there for the night. It was not long before he was asleep, but there were no dreams this time. Mystery was letting him rest because both knew it was up to Jaster now.

It was during the wee hours of the morning when the fire burned low. The coals still glowed casting a reddish luminescence over the area, but the flames of before were gone. Enough warmth was still cast out to prevent either Jaster or Saljin from waking.

He had been keeping a watch over them as they continued on their way. His teeth gnashed as he thought about the stone in the boy's pocket. Trell wanted it. He was not certain what it was contained there, but it had power and he'd seen it glow in the boy's fingers. It was definitely something he should have and he'd been sitting there all night just watching and waiting for his opportunity.

His wings moved steadily as he thought about how to do this. He calculated creeping in and getting the stone from the pocket without anyone waking or knowing. There was a chance with him sleeping so soundly that he could manage it. It was not his way to wait nor to hesitate but there were two of them and the shifter would eat him without a thought if he were that great cat. So stealthily he crept across the ground until he stood over Jaster. Folding his wings back so they'd make no noice, he leaned over, just watching to ensure the boy was truly asleep.

He wanted to jump up and down in glee and cackle as he normally did, but he needed to be sneaky. Gloating could be done afterwards when he had the stone and they were none the wiser. Slowly and carefully, he reached his hand down into Jaster's pocket. A frown appeared in understanding that the place was deeper than he thought. He'd have to reach fully down inside to get the stone though he could almost feel it at his fingertips.

Jaster had not moved yet, and Trell pushed on into the pocket. He could feel the stone fully now and slid his fingers around it. But just as he would have pulled his hand out, the boy moved, rolling over in his sleept. Trell's eyes went wide as his hand was trapped though he lost his grip on the stone.

Wake up, Jaster! A thief is about! Taj shoved hard causing Jaster to blink in surprise as he stared directly into Trell's face.

It was then the boy understood that the creature's hand was in his pocket after the stone. "Oh no you don't!" he growled, clamping down on the imp's arm. "Saljin!" he yelled, trying to wake the shifter as the imp struggled to free himself.

Trell reacted, trying to pull his arm free as he knew that he'd never get the stone now. "Stupid human. Bah! Had to wake up!" His wings whipped at Jaster as he tried to get off the ground. The stone was lost to him but he still had a chance to get away. He cackled, laughing at them as he flew off into the darkness. There were others to torment.

Saljin bolted upwards, startled awake by the yelling. "Trell!" he growled, on his feet and moving to where the two struggled. But as he reached them, the imp's wings lashed out at Jaster again causing him to lose his grip. The imp was free and soared upwards out of reach. The shifter growled tempted to shift to crow form and drive him from the air.

"Jaster, are you alright?" he asked instead. He touched the boy's jaw where a small scratch was bleeding.

"Yes, I'm fine. He was after the stone."
Jaster growled in anger. His hand patted the spot where Tajnevaki still lay. "Taj woke me up. Stupid imp. We'll have to watch out for him now."

"I imagine we will. He's probably been following and waiting for a chance since we let him go. I'm beginning to think we should have just left him tied up somewhere." The shifter pulled the salve out of the pack, quickly taking care of the injury on Jaster's jaw. "Don't want this to get infected. He's such a filthy little creature."

"It's close to dawn. Let's get some breakfast and then see about moving on." the shifter said, glancing towards the fire. He kicked it out after a few moments. "I want to put some distance between us and him. The closer to the town we get the less he will want to follow us. I hope."

The boy munched absently on the apple as he listened to the shifter. "Good idea." Jaster nodded, but the thought that he'd have to make his choice soon occurred to him. Others might want the stone too. And if someone got it, then where would he and Taj be? "Let's go." he said getting to his feet. He'd have to decide soon.

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Vermillion Gekko

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Sights Unseen
Or The Tree Lady Troll
07.04.08 Solo

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Jaster and Saljin both moved down the road at a leisurely pace. Cracked and broken, the pavement was overgrown with plants finding even the most tenuous hold to grow. It was obvious that it had been a long time since they'd begun and all were dry, brittle, crumbling at hte least brush against them. Neither were certain where they were going. And they were even less sure if they were being followed. They simply did not know, and kept moving, thinking that was best.

He spoke softly as they walked, his eyes gazing at the various things around him, but his comments were short and about what he saw. The shifter frowned as he watched Jaster. It was almost as if he were driven in some way. Dreams continued to haunt Jaster, but they were never clear enough that he understood entirely what was happening. Yet the boy accepted it as he studied the world and events in front of him.

The occasional abandoned vehicle would draw their attention as they inspected it for anything useful. Finding nothing, they would merely move on, leaving it to rust away. It was obvious that the surface world had changed and was still changing. After speaking with Evadne, both had begun to understand that the rumors that had even reached into the Labryinth were true. And while Jareth might hold power there, others were stronger still. Gods were, in fact, returning to claim what had once been theirs.

Several times a day, Jaster would reach into his pocket to retrieve the stone. A beautiful coral shapped piece with deep rich violets that were nearly black. A blue gleamed brilliantly across the top in various places with a very faint corner that was lighter and nearly white. Each time he turned it over in his hands, Jaster noticed something further about it. It was as if an entire hidden world resided within the twisting pathways of its branches and he appreciated it, though he was still making his decision. A part of him wanted it more than he'd wanted anything other than Saljin and his mother. And he knew the name that lay within the stone already.

he murmurred caressing the stone.

Saljin glanced over at him, frowning as he watched him intently. "What did you say, Jaster?"

"His name is Tajnevaki."

The shifter blinked in surprise. "He said that?"

"Yes. Well, not exactly. A dream. He doesn't say much. He just... you are going to think this strange."
Jaster sighed.


"He just smiles most of the time when I ask things or he shows me something."
Jaster shrugged. "I don't know how or why but I understand what he wants. Well, most of the time." The latter he grinned widely after stating. Placing the stone back inside his vest pocket, he smiled faintly. "I just can't explain it."

Saljin watched him a moment closely. He knew that if the god in the stone was pushing and patronizing, that it would have pushed several of Jaster's buttons and not in a good way. But the feeling of not knowing had enthralled the younger. The shifter didn't see it all but he had understood without being told that not everyone got a stone. Those that did suited that particular god in some fashion. His family would have considered it an honor as they had been tied to rules of etiquette and social obligations. He himself abided by some of those stipulations, but since being with Jaster and Puck, his attitude had gotten lax.

Jaster shivered slightly as the feeling of not knowing slipped down his spine, curling his toes. At least that is how he would have described it if asked. For most people, the unknown sent them scurrying in the opposite direction and for cover to hide within even if their feet tangled and sent them sprawling. Jaster, however, sat up and took notice as he was dared to find whatever it was that was creating the haunting sensation within him.

It was this attitude that Saljin saw and though irritated at times, he loved within the boy. Jaster had a need to see it whether he ever explained it or not. The challenge of doing so pushed him the way only a rare few ever were. He wondered if this was what the god in the stone felt. It could have been very different for Jaster because of his father's actions. Instead he had grown up strong.

As they reached the edge of the town, both Jaster and Saljin glanced warily about them. The buildings were in extreme disrepair with many burned out, their roofs having collapsed inward. Others had simply decayed with time and fallen to the ground beneath them. Still others remained intact but appeared to be abandoned, their doorways open wide. Barracades were against some doors, but the windows had been broken out long ago, scattering glass around their yards and walkways.

"We need to look for a few shops, Jaster, and see if we can find something usable." he commented moving to the building nearest them.

"Alright. I'll stay out here."

"Don't go far." Saljin reminded, watching him a moment. "Jaster." he called again when the younger did not reply.

the boy stated turning to watch Saljin a moment. "Worse than a mother hen." he grumbled in both amusement and slight irritation.

"You need one. When you don't, I'll stop." he smirked, moving forwards into the building. It appeared to have been a place to get general goods at one time. Scavenging is what he would call it, but this place was not the Labyrinth and until they found a true city, it was the best they could do.

Jaster followed his whims as he gazed around them. He came to the conclusion that this place had once been thriving for a medium sized city. Flowers and large trees graced the streets for shade and beauty though they were now broken, rotting, and crumbling from lack of care and water.

A faint gleam caught his eye as he turned, but whether it was a trick of light or something more, Jaster could not have explained. His eyes scanned the area slowly as he noted a patch of dead brown grass around an extremely old and large tree. A flicker crossed his face, but then he sighed.

"Seeing things again."
he sighed. "I think I should just sit down and wait. A few moments couldn't hurt."

Moving towards the large tree, he studied it a moment. The tree was dying and the lack of leaves was a good indication of that. He frowned sadly. It was a shame as he was quite certain it had once sheltered this entire area with its spreading branches. People had picnics and children played beneath happily on sunny afternoons.

It was then he saw her, his jaw dropping open in surprise. His gaze slid over her, simply watching closely as a sudden spinetingling sensation he was beginning to become familiar with caressed him gently. She had not been there the instant before, but now it was almost as if he could reach out and touch her. His hand moved of its own volition before he even realized it. A gentle touch down the length of bark and across her cheek. He frowned noting that she looked asleep as well as understanding he'd not really touched her but the tree.

Saljin had found several sealed cans that he placed within his pack. A few other items found their way into the bag also. Then he stepped towards the doorway. At first he didn't see Jaster and nearly paniced. Then he frowned when he did see him standing as if mesmerized in front of the trunk of the old tree.

"What's wrong, Jaster?" he asked. "I found a few cans I think will do." When he received no reply, the shifter glanced up at Jaster again. "Jaster?" Moving to his side, Saljin reached out, touching Jaster's shoulder. "What's wrong?"

"I... She's asleep."
he said simply as he turned to gaze at the shifter.

"Who is asleep?" the shifter asked in confusion. He saw noone there.

"She is."
Jaster replied indicating the tree Only the treebark met his eyes and he scowled, reaching out to touch it again.

"See who? There's noone there, Jaster. It's a tree."

"I thought I saw someone there and she was sleeping."
he insisted in slight exasperation, his hand still on the trunk of the tree. "I was so sure..."

"I don't see anyone. But it's getting late and we need to keep moving. We have to find safety for the night." Saljin replied, glancing at the tree again. If someone were there, then only Jaster could see them. For he saw nothing. He wondered if it was the god in the stone again. Jaster was always pulling it out to look at it.

A sudden smile crossed his face as a shiver slid down his backbone causing him to suddenly laugh. Maybe she would be waking soon. Maybe they'd even meet. Perhaps that was what this was about. Taj knew the one there or perhaps they were to receive a stone also. Either way he understood that it had only been important that he'd seen her. Not that he'd done anything else.

"Alright, Saljin. Let's go. This isn't for me to do."
he shrugged, turning back to the street. Glancing over his shoulder one more time, he smiled faintly. Someone would be able to waken her even if he couldn't. If she were really there.
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Vermillion Gekko

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Jaster & Duncan
07.04.08 Joint with Uta

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More and more buildings appeared as they moved along the decaying streets. Twice they'd been attacked by strange creatures in the previous nights, but a few had followed boldly during the days. More often than not, Saljin shifted to his panther form, driving them away. It was all they could do to keep from becoming food for the creatures. With it early morning, they would be safe enough, but he thought they could never be too cautious with the things they were seeing as they traveled. The rumors into the Labyrinth were right and the top world had changed a great deal since they had last been there.

Jaster stopped to stare at a house a moment. A frown crossed his face as he studied it. The large building was an old victorian mansion. Its once vibrant and well-cared for facades were not sagging in paint chipped disrepair. The stone wall around it had fallen and the rocks lay scattered as if breached by a greater force than it was prepared for. None of the lower windows had glass in them and they looked like the hollow eyes of some vast beast waiting and watching.

Saljin sighed. "I don't understand what it is you see, Jaster."

He shrugged, smiling as he turned to watch his friend. "Reality and dreams both, Saljin."

With a last glance at the house, he began moving down the street again. There was always more to see, but strangely they'd not seen a person in the area. Not even the quick closing of a curtain or swift shutting of a door. And the few animals seen were slipping away in fear or trying to eat them.

"Don't you think it's strange we've seen no people here? Where have they all gone?"
Jaster finally asked. "You'd think there would be someone still here. If the gods are returning, wouldn't there be activity?"

The world was going to hell in a hand basket and no body seemed to care. Worse, Duncan found himself worrying about the months bills; he was already late on the telephone bill, and he'd cut cable out of his life three months previous. Now, the land lady was raising her rates another hundred a month and he couldn't move or break his lease for another six months~!

His thoughts were heavy that day, as they often were, and D kicked at an abandoned aluminum can. He missed, of course, and only offered the thing a small glare as he passed. Today was not a good day for the pink haired man. The mundane worries of his world, followed swiftly by the aches and pains and misery of the rest of the world were very close to unbearable. It was overwhelming and one easily might have fallen prey to angst and depression. Thankfully for D, he was already there.

Passing down the street, the quiet of the morning didn't alarm him. Building were gated, windows smashed, and trash was littered everywhere. Proof that people just didn't care, proof that nobody wanted to try anymore, and maybe that was just the way of things. Saving the world from its own decay wasn't his job even if a small sliver of him wished it to be. . . .

Where had humanity gone wrong?

His hands were shoved deep in his pockets as he turned from an ally to the open street. His sky blue eyes glanced up but they noticed very little; the crowds were scarce today but that was probably for the best. Blood shed was an every day occurrence according to the local new station - no where was truly safe. But Duncan had no choice . . . . he had to be out and about. Not only did he need to the credit union, the small bank the only one in the entire town, but it got him away from the apartment.

His next door neighbor, some bulky, white-winged man with flowing blond air and a stereotypical jock smile had not just one lady friend over but two! And with paper thin walls, no matter how loud he blared his ipod it seemed only to make their giddy laughter and games so much louder.

He'd risk a bullet or a mugging any day over that.

Loping down the sidewalk, motion ahead of him and on the other side of the street caused him some relief. At least he wasn't the only one out and about this day. . . . though with the way they were studying some decrepit building he had to wonder if they might be thieves or looters. Well, with luck they wouldn't bother a man with glasses. . . . and screamingly pink hair. Hopefully they weren't mages or shape shifters or chalk full of telepathy. . . . So long as they left him alone he'd be happy. And a helluvalot less nervous.


(Just some info for you.. Jaster is 17, Saljin about 118 or so... Both are dressed much as someone from a Castlevania game. I guess it would be considered aristocratic and old fashioned, but Saljin is fully evolved and walking around as a human now. Jaster Saljin)

Upon first hearing the sound of movement nearby, Jaster turned, eyes tracked across the area as he looked for the first sign of motion. For a long moment, he studied the man. A faint smile crossed his face. The fellow was far too uptight and he looked nothing like the hexes they were trying to avoid.

"Maybe he knows where the Pantheon is, Saljin?"
he finally stated, shoving a stray strand of bright coppery hair from his face. His jade gaze had not moved from the fellow since noting him. "It might save us some time." His smile became a wide grin flashing white teeth. "Not that I'm not having fun just looking around." The stone with Taj in it would direct them, but they couldn't always make a straight line in the direction he pointed. And Jaster didn't like taking him out all the time to check. Too many things unknown about this place and he didn't plan on having it stolen from him. Again.

Saljin sighed. "I suppose we should." His hand moved upwards, shading his eyes as he glanced over at the fellow. "If he will talk to us. I doubt very few people are friendly nowadays."

Moving towards him, they walked slowly. The last thing they wanted to do was frighten the fellow and put him on the defensive.

"Excuse me, but do you know where the Pantheon of the Gods is?"
Jaster stood about three paces from the fellow. He did not want him to think they planned anything other than talking to him.

((Ooooh - wonderful to know~! n.n Also - I'm assuming that the Pantheon of the Gods is just like a local building? Where everyday folks would knwo about it even if they were oblivious to what took place/lived there? ))

If Duncan had feared that the two souls walking down the street were looters, as they crossed and headed his way he really couldn't help but panic. Their garbs weren't something he typically saw out in the open, much less in the decrepit streets of late. They looked oddly classy and their apparel reminded him of something straight out of a horror novel or video game. In fact, for once in his life Duncan wasn't the one feeling out of place. . . . .

Well, not really.

Such retro looking attire wasn't exactly UNcommon either. There were various parts of town that held a classier breed; where the houses seemed to forget of the neighborhoods wars and violence, where politics and money ruled. Maybe such attire as the two before him wore would be much more fitting, but D couldn't help but feel a little under dressed. Sure, he wore a good pair of slacks (it wasn't often he felt free enough to whip out his old beloved bondage gear) and a white dress shirt that was partially ducked in on the right side. His black tie was crooked and loose and he had lost a button near the top. . . . Add it his almost constantly disheveled pink mop of hair, compared to the pair that approached he felt very under dressed indeed.

Eh, but who knew what the two men before him wanted? So long as they weren't a rogue band of steam-punk thieving pirates or something crazy like that. Duncan couldn't help wondering - the world was made up of crazy sorts and he'd seen it all. . . . Especially with the world crumbling to pieces around them, anything, and absolutely EVERYTHING was possible.

Thankfully Duncan's worries and concerns were short lived. Though he was a bit defensive in stance, the relief he felt at Jaster's question was apparent. Directions. They were tourists, or . . new to town or . . . god only knew what and all they wanted were directions. Thank goodness.

A smile, much easier and laced with relief crossed his features. "The Pantheon?" He repeated, more to give him a minute to think about location. He'd walked past the building multiple times but had never bothered much about inside. Hell, he hardly even knew what one might find there, some tourist thing or a religious sect. . . who knew. "Um. . . yeah~!" Reaching up to rub the back of his neck, a bit of a nervous habit, he pushed up his glasses and turned to squint at the road behind them. "It's across town yet. . . but uh. . . . It's not too bad a trip." Well, with the neighborhood 'not too bad' was a bit of an understatement. . . . .

"You familiar with the city routes or . . .?" He glanced back over to the pair. He wasn't exactly heading that way but Duncan wasn't exactly a jaded or bitter man. In fact, he was actually quite a softy when it came down to it; a bit of a pushover, he did what he could.

"We've not been to the city in.." Hesitation slipped free and Jaster frowned. "It's been about seven years or so. I was ten when we went through the portal."

Saljin nodded. "Indeed. It has been that long since we left this place. Only the rumors of the gods brought us back here now." He didn't mention those chasing them had increased their pace. It was strange but there was something he liked about this man. Jaster was definitely amused by him. He was speaking more than he usually did and not quite so cryptic.

"That is what the Pantheon is. A place where the throne is said to be. I need to speak to him again. And an apology to make for my disbelief."
Jaster sighed. "Too much has changed. I'm not even certain where the place I once lived is. It was a park at one time, but the landscape has been altered and I've not seen any familiar landmarks yet."

A portal?

. . . so he was one of them then, wasn't he? 'Them' being every other gaian in existance around him. Duncan wasn't surprised by the knowledge of one traveling through a portal or some other magical device. It was just another way of transportation; something that could be found practically in every office, every building, and practically every persons ability.

'Oh, let's just teleport to the store - it's faster~!'

'Oh, don't bother with driving, I just have to summon you~!'

Sure, it cut down on pollution or so he liked to believe, but it was a great inconvenience all the same. Sometimes people were surprised you didn't make a habit of using fun little machines that turned your body in to particles and pieces and sent you from one space to another without ever setting foot in between. Buses were 'retro' and 'vintage'. . . Subways were nothing but a thing of fairy tails, or so Duncan imagined would be their fate soon.

Ah, but this world didn't cater to the likes of him. Who was he but a spectator to the world gifted with everything. . .spirits and creatures were sold from shop to shop while others crept in shadows and chose their victims. Either way, Duncan had little involved in the life of magic. He didn't often believe in gods, at least not their power, considering many could be bought and sold on the street for a price.

True gods, true religion. . . No, he was a skeptic. Though with the way the world was crumbling part of Duncan didn't object to the idea of visiting some Pantheon. Maybe there were some gods that could be clung to. . . . ah, but who knew? "Well," Duncan gave a little nod, not wanting to see inhospitable to the pair of strangers. Standing mute before them wasn't a very good way to get to know ones neighbors. "Welcome back then." He glanced around at the streets, giving a little shake of his head. "Not much of a welcoming committee, I fear." A small smile crossed his features, though the humor didn't reach his eyes.

Now . . . what were they talking about? The throne is said to be? Speak to him? Apologies for disbelief? Duncan had no idea what the pair were talking about, but what was it to him? All they needed was to get to this Pantheon place. Though part of D did feel a bit of alarm. . . Gone for so long and he hadn't seen any place familiar. "Times have been changing," he added lightly, heaving a small sigh. He pushed his glasses back on his face for the umpteenth time before adding, "And I can't say for the better. Maybe you're just on the wrong side of town." He added hopefully, trying to find some optimism for their sake.

Whoever they were.

"Come on, I'm . . . heading that way." He lied, but wasn't too distraught. He wasn't going to leave a pair stranded to the city, especially in this day and age. "S'not that far," he assured, in case they were weirded out by him. And, to further prove his good will, good manners he added. "I'm D." Like hell if he was gonna fess up to his real name. . . .

No, even strangers from portals didn't deserve that punishment.

"I think if one knew the things I'd done here, it would not be the polite welcoming committee that would be waiting for me anyhow." Jaster smirked. "It's some of the reason we have been away from here. I'm Jaster and he's Saljin."

He started to say more but stared uncertainly in the across town direction he suspected the Pantheon lay. An odd feeling slipped over him and the phrase "Don't be late" whirled into his head again. It was strange as an almost surreal feeling slipped over him. Shrugging it away, he turned his attention back to D and Saljin.

"Sorry, just an odd feeling. We should hurry."
Jaster stated. "And we will accept your offer of showing us the way."

His hand slipped into his pocket, patting the stone gently. A need to know it was safe slid through him. Taj had alluded to many things in his dreams. Not the least of which was that his life was about to change. For long hours as they walked and looked around Jaster's thoughts had continually returned to the strange yet slightly humorous dreams he'd seen. It was as if Taj knew things he did not and was simply leaving him clues to the mysterious things he held close to him.

Some were dark and forbidding while others were clearly representing what they simply were. The more complex ones were the ones he chose to dig into. Deeper meanings were hidden there and the secrets they contained he had yet to unravel. First and foremost, who was Tajnevaki? And what was he god of?

Turning to D, he asked softly, "D, what do you think of when you hear the phrase "a box of secrets and moonlight?" He grinned a wide toothy grin, filled with amusement at himself for asking.

D wasn't too alarmed by Jaster's comment alluding to possible trouble; the young man understood that everyone had their secrets, and though his imagination seemed to be on over drive this day (maybe the pair he brought to the Pantheon were serial-killers that devoured ones souls and turned their flesh in to blankets in their down time) the young man had already resigned himself to fate.

He wasn't often a paranoid man, but there was something on the air that was electric, something in the doomful state of the city that made one a bit edgy. Long gone were the days of shining hope, of sparkling futures. It seemed nowadays everything was barred, chained, infused with uncertainty and mistrust and served on a heaping plate of selfishness. Part of the pink haired businessman regretted spending some of the golden years of his teens on drugs and partying; ah, but then again with the world falling to pieces maybe such a party was necessary. Sometimes looking at the state of the world around them it was hard to see any good. . . .

But for all his paranoia, Duncan was also, cliche as it sounded, good of heart. Without drugs and alcohol to skew his perception, mind and temper, some might call him a bit of a good Samaritan. He always paid 20% tips when dining out, regardless of service; he was miserable around the homeless asking for money, and heaven forbid a stray walk up to him in the streets. There was good foundation in him, despite a level of mistrust the media told him to have and such an addictive personality.

Without saying much, especially since there had been a sense of urgency stated, D looked both ways before crossing the street back to the other side. He made sure the pair kept up, but walked with a steady pace. "I'd say we cold taxi but such a thing seems obsolete this day." The streets were empty, dead, and it was oddly unnerving.

Maybe there'd be more activity as they headed deeper in to town. Honestly, he could only hope. He took the next right, but did glance over to the two walking with him, quirking a brow as he was asked about 'a box of secrets and moonlight." Blinking, surprise, he rubbed at the back of his neck before offering a chuckle himself and a rueful grin. "First thing that comes to mind is wondering if that's some lyrics from some sappy song. . . . But I guess passing that it. . . it makes me think of exactly what you mentioned. Moonlight, over an ocean view mind you, stars, shadow. . . and of course, a literal box. Resting pleasantly on the beach, fragile written on the side. A place where all those secrets, forgotten and untold, are stashed." The man shrugged, blowing a few strands of pink hair out of his face and catching the next right as they walked. "Not the most creative of answers," he added with a lop-sided grin, "but it reminds me of some unspoken mystery . . . . . that happens to be in a literal box."

It probably sounded stupid but a box of secrets and moonlight wasn't an easy thing to interpret. Sides, some where, somehow, some shop had to sell secrets in boxes. Such was the way the world worked.

"I think of the things hidden. Not necessarily a box in the physical sense." he mused as much to himself and Taj as D and Saljin. "Mystery. That's who he is. The god in the coral stone. I see labyrinthian pathways strewn in shadows with things just out of sight. I think that's what he wanted me to see and find. And if the other were here 86 ages, who is he? I want to know that more than anything and to give him a true apology. Not the indolent one I did."

Jaster shrugged, grinning a cheshire cat smile. "Hopefully he will understand I'm young and impetuous. Still learning."

As he was reaching for his pocket, his choice made something slammed out hitting everything in its path. He gasped staggering his thoughts twisted and spun. "What...?" He blinked several times finally dropping to the ground to sit down. Glancing over at Saljin, he frowned.

The shifter was curled in upon himself and he was changing. A flash of pain had slammed into him and the need to protect himself ran rampant through his mind. It stung as legs and arms became furred, clawed feet, nails digging into the earth as he tried to get his footing. His tail lashed from side to side rapidly as the feline formed.

A snarl rent the air as he turned facing Jaster and D. Claws extended as he moved forwards angrily thoughts in a total turmoil. Confusion at who his enemy was made him snarl at Jaster who was staring at him in surprise.

The younger blinked for a long moment as the feline approached both he and D.

Taj even as a stone had felt the pain, and curled in upon himself as a sense of urgency slammed into him. Something was very wrong. Until now he'd been teasing Jaster bringing out the things in his host that he needed. But now he felt there was no time. Panic slid over him but his thoughts were still partially unformed and he whirled in confusion as much as Jaster and those with him did.

Saljin snarled again, approaching Jaster as one would prey or an owner that had tormented. The feline's teeth gleamed as Jaster simply watched him. For an instant both simply stared at one another, then the boy's thoughts cleared more and he reached out, slapping the feline across the nose.

"Stop that, Saljin. We don't have time for this. I've made my choice. Something needs me to make it now. I know enough. Taj and I.. we are needed I think. I don't know what that was, but.."
he shivered as a bit of fear slipped down over him. "I won't be the same. Neither will he. But it must be done."

The feline faltered, taking a step backwards at the stinging slap on his nose. His hind legs plopped down on the ground as he sprawled in confusion. Shaking his head several times, he simply stared at Jaster. The green eyes watching him, startled him as much as the palm of Jaster's hand had and his thoughts began to clear more.

Reaching in he pulled the stone from his pocket and simply held it. His fingers traced the shape and then he pulled his shirt open. Holding the stone, he pressed it against the right side where his arm was joined to his chest. In the small hollow just below the collarbone on that side. The cool and yet somehow warm surface of the stone lay there for a moment. Then it began to sink slightly, the skin changing, shaping to its edges.

Jaster winced slightly, then shuddered as several sensations began to slide over him. Tiredness, excitement, pain, and even fear all had their moment of glory before giving way to the next. He gasped when he felt the other mind so much more clearly for an instant.

Not instant, Jaster.
Taj spoke softly. With time we become the same fish. A gentle touch of amusement followed by the thought of a flashing white grin made Jaster suddenly smile faintly.

He glanced over at Saljin who was sitting in confusion. Then he looked to D. "Are you alright, D? I'm not sure what that was. Something is... off kilter." His voice was seemingly tired. He was and shivered again as he forced himself to his feet. For a moment he stood, lightheaded, weak at the knees and ready to sit back down. Instead he pushed himself to take a step in the direction he knew they needed to go. The Pantheon. But was it entirely Jaster's voice that spoke? Or was it a simple crack from strain?

"We need to get there. Something ha
s happened."

Something happened.

One moment he had been guiding a few misplaced almost-locals to their designation and the next moment the world transformed to hell. A wave smacked in to him, the floor dropping out beneath his feet and causing the pink haired man to collapse. Nausea swirled within his stomach, and the taste of bile stained his tongue as Duncan tried desperately to gather his thoughts. For a moment he felt as if he might be sick, but gritting his teeth and digging his nails in his palms helped ease the tension.

Pain and paranoia mixed; it felt as if all the uncertainty the news castors told him to feel suddenly was unleashed; all the wars he heard about, all the murders, the death, the chaos admist the borders; the paranoia of someone watching you from the shadows and a sudden belief that the world was indeed on the highway to hell over came the human.

Sweat dripped from his brow, his tongue turned to cotton and blue eyes stared up at the world as if the skyline was made of jagged teeth, threatening to swallow him in to doom. Dear gods what the hell happened!?

Why were they out here? Why were they so damn vulnerable!? The shadows held darkness, he was positive, and very soon the worms would be out to get them. The dogs would come with teeth bared, the scum of society would now reign. Hope. . . he tried to hope, it was the only thing that kept him away from the drugs, away from collapsing in to ruin and yet the light seemed to be snuffed. Dear gods what was this world coming to!?

His head was in a fog, and the snarling form of the once-human Saljin caused the hair to stand on the back of his neck. Holy hell what was going on!? Gasping as fear threatened him, he backed up and away, flailing to make sense of the hurt and see through the pain. But it was hard, so damn hard and he felt ever so alone in the world. . . .

But a smack, the cool, collected stance of the other human, Jaster, helped him break through the haze and paranoia. Even the cat creature seemed stunned by such a response. Hope. . . it was all he had and all he needed to hang on to. Hope. Even if it came from a stranger in a portal whom spoke in riddles. For just a moment Jaster was the most important thing D could think of, could fathom, could imagine - he was real and he looked . . . Ok. As if he wasn't troubled by the events, as if he were stronger than the chaos that seemed to explode around the world without changing a damn thing.

One moment passed, two and like an idiot he watched as his hope took out some sort of trinket from his pocket. A trinket that was soon shoved in to his flesh, absorbing in to his skin like crystallized lotion. D gaped, but somewhere wasn't surprised. . . . Shops around town sold everything from Satan's Hellhounds to Flowers that turned in to fairy sort. . . . Stones that were to be absorbed were nothing new. Sides, who knew, maybe it was some alien form of vitamin for all D could imagine. . . .

A voice broke through. Another breath, another heart beat and his mind finally grasped at the spoken words. Was he okay? D almost chuckled, hoping to swallow a new sense of hysteria. Why did his words sound so loud? Why did he feel as if everyone in the street, present or not could hear him? "Yeah," his voice shook and the blue eyed man wasn't sure if his fake attempt at confidence worked. Somehow he doubted it. Pushing himself to his feet, half-panting and heart racing, D looked dumbly at the pair.

Obviously something had happened. . . . and deep in his heart, a little sliver of D feared this Pantheon even more. The gods and Duncan had never gotten along. The beings were a mockery to him, nothing but false hope to people who could 'buy them' on Third and Vine. How could such power reign when such a thing was commercialized for a price in every other shop in town? No . . . magic he believed in, most certainly. But beings with power that could stop the world was something else entirely. . . . Real gods, true gods.

s**t, they abandoned Gaia ages ago if every truly a thing existed. And somehow, somehow Duncan just couldn't blame them. But maybe. . . just maybe if such a place like the Pantheon could ease the mind in to accepting fate and the overwhelming darkness surrounding them . . . well. . . . so be it. Let the believers worship. . . Duncan wasn't going to stop such a form of hope. "Yeah . . . . yeah come on. Let's get out of here."

Duncan didn't notice the crack in his voice or the possible difference of inflection and tone. If he heard anything at all he chalked it up to fear and pain and confusion. Something was wrong and Duncan just couldn't place it or figure it out. . . but in his heart of hearts he knew it wasn't good. "We're not too far. . just a few more blocks."


"Saljin is cursed, D. He's a shape
shifter." Jaster explained as he nearly smiled. His voice seemed to be changing. He closed his eyes several times blinking tiredly as they began walking again. "The wave caused a need in him to stay in that form though he could change out of it whenever he wants. He's stronger like that. But he will protect us both."

"I should explain about the stone and why I asked you that question. It finally helped me figure him out. The stone is a god. They all died except for one. I spoke to him when I was chosen for the stone. I want to know... things. He can show me."

The feeling of dread and fear was still with them. Taj was paniced and constantly shoving at him, causing his mind to whirl in confusion. He was talking so much trying to focus on getting them there.

But as they moved through the streets, Jaster stopped several times to rest.

"He is Mystery. The God of Mystery. I think we are much alike.
And I need to help him. He cannot live without me and I think he needs to return."

They made their way through the streets. Several more times the younger stopped as the stone began taking its toll on him. Both he and Taj were pushing his body to move when all they really wanted to do was rest. Exhaustion was there consuming them both, but the need to press onwards was stronger and neither were going to stop until they collapsed. He suddenly sighed, flinching when he saw the person lying on the ground.

The shifter padded alongside, still somewhat confused by what was happening. He felt a need to remain in feline form as they moved. His tail twitched in irritation as they moved through the streets and he snarled when he noted the person lying before them. A wary eye on their surroundings, the feline sniffed the body, a deep growl rumbling in his throat.

Moving closer, he kneeled down checking for a pulse. There was none. Shaking his head, he got to his feet. There was nothing to do and he noted the others nearby.

Only the
first. Taj stated whispering softly to Jaster.

When they finally reached the building, he stared for an instant. Uncertain. Fearful. Tired. It rose like a huge dark monolith waiting to devour but the great colored windows were the beauty waiting to distract and lure prey within. There obviously had once been gardens, shattered, scalded, and turned to dust by the molten red flows scattered within its boundaries.

He stopped to stare at it silently. A frown settling on his face.


Jaster frowned more as Taj tried to push again. "Give me some damned breathing space! You said not instant." he growled at the god in sudden irritation.

Saljin tilted his head, staring as Jaster suddenly sighed, noting the expression on the feline's face. Turning to D, he asked, "Are you coming in with us? I do not know what lies within, D. It is most likely the source of what hit us earlier. It is most likely dangerous. You've helped more than you know. And you have no obligations to us." His voice had finally stopped crackling and begun to even out. He wondered briefly if it would remain that way.

The gods all died but one. . . . Wait. Wait. Wait. Hold the phones, call the operator and dial 911. Was this guy for serious? Duncan wasn't going to start an argument even if cynicism and disbelief caused him to cant his head in curiosity. He knew religions ran rampant in the world and some would use force to get others to believe in their gods. . . . But the simplistic belief in this stone being a god, in the idle banter of Jaster's experience in meeting some living god. . . .

It was almost too simple to argue with. Sides which, Duncan, even in his frazzled state, never liked to pick a fight and had too much respect and proper manners to think about being disrespectful. To each their own. . . .

But the world grew just a little more depressing now that the cat was out of the bag, at least when it came to Jaster's religion and belief. If gods were now stones a whole lot of good that would do the world. "So the God of Mystery is now . . . in you?" This was a lot of information to grasp on to, especially while he was still reeling in pain and paranoia. Licking his lips, Duncan tried to grasp hold of this concept in all its beautiful simplicity. . . . but it wasn't easy.

So his friend had now a piece of Mystery within him. . . .a gemstone that was made of God. Or a god at any rate. Somehow the thought was pleasant to know as well as intimidating; to have such a thing inside a person couldn't exactly be pleasant. What would it do to him? Did it make him holior or was it similar to a seed; was Jaster's form a human vessel for it or was it going to sit within him until a proper time and place? Could he summon the stone at will or . . . oh, details, details, details!

And there just wasn't time to ask.

The wheels of his head churned, the cogs trying to piece together the day. Oh, what a day it had been. . . . But honestly Duncan couldn't help but be relieved he had offered to take the pair to the Pantheon. Imagine what would have happened if he'd been at the bank when it hit. . . Somehow the thoughts 'chaos' appeared and he could only imagine what the less isolated parts of town were like.

A corpse on the road only confirmed his fear. . . . .

While Jaster reached down to investigate, Duncan could only stare. The body reflected off his glasses and his blue gaze shrouded with a bit of inner darkness. This wasn't pleasant, and this wasn't the norm. Well, lately such a scene was often shown on the news stations but such things weren't what Duncan was used to or comfortable with. Blood sometimes made him woozy and to see a corpse, a body dead and so close. . . oh no. His stomach churned and his body chilled.

If evil could be felt D could say he experienced a taste of what was to come. Instinct wanted him to run and yet . . . he couldn't. He wouldn't. He'd been a coward all his life; it was easy ot hide behind a pill, an injection, a high; it was easy to excuse ones actions by being weak. But today wasn't going ot be that day. Something big was brewing and the pink haired man felt as if he were drowning in it. . . .

But regardless what happened he wasn't going to just give in to it. Not without a bit of a struggle at least. He might be a bit of a coward, but he also was stubborn. Step by step the panic in her chest grew tighter and more misreable. Sometimes he reminded himself he was walking by a god, or someone that had met a god and someone who seemed to harbor the resting place for a god. That was good, wasn't it?

And on top of it all he was with a feline shape-shifter. Also good. If anything bad happened he was at an advantage so long as they stuck together. Were together. If they all went to this Pantheon place, perhaps even D might find some solace in its gates. If they want in together, then maybe. . .

Blue eyes stared at the building ahead of them and his thoughts roared to a screeching halt. Pantheon. Building. Terror. Inside. Any hope for finding hope within its walls quickly abandoned ship. Duncan wasn't exactly strong of will, not yet at least, and he'd been struggling enough to keep guiding Jaster and Saljin towards the heart of their destination. But to gaze at the building, to know that perhaps gods did dwell there, Duncan found he could hardly breathe. Something screamed at him to stay back, demanded he did, and the pink haired man couldn't be bothered again with it. . . no matter how much a small part of him pressed.

Stick together. . . .

or die? Or as it and die?

"Um. . . " Duncan found his voice, swallowing hard. "Look, I just . . . It was nice meeting you both, truly, but I . . ." Gods was this hard to admit but he would do it, and freely so. "Look I'm really a nobody here, and I'll admit a bit of a coward." He rubbed the back of his neck, still feeling incredibly on edge and completely out of place. "I don't have much to offer and if something. . . something bad's there I think. . . I think I'd be better safe out here than in their. Sorry." Oh how he meant it. . . .

Where was his strength? Failing, that's what. "But I'll wait!" Ah-ha. A moment of glory, or at least a night-light worth of it. He wasn't going to run back home, as even the thought of home didn't bring him comfort. "If you two go in, I'll wait. . . ya know, just to make sure its all right out here." Or something. He couldn't go in but he could shiver and quake in uncertainty outside?


Wasn't he impressive, the sarcastic thought oozed.

Jaster nodded, watching him a moment, answered the question D had asked. And a few he had not though he suspected he was curious. Jaster himself would have been.

"Not exactly inside me. Gods died-faded. All but one. He lived 86 ages alone before he began to pull them back, reshaping their essences I guess. The stones choose their hosts in some fashion. Some taking what they want forcing the host to their wishes. Others asking. Taj and I- we have agreed and will merge into someone... new. He needs it as much as I do."
It was the only way he could put it. He'd not be himself. Not entirely, but Taj would not be Taj either. "This new Tajnevaki will have both our memories and yet be himself I believe. Stronger for the both of us. I do not know how long it will take as the changes take place, but I-he-we will remember you, D."

A wry grin broke out upon his face, white teeth gleaming. A feeling of certainty that it was as confusing for D as it was for him dropped over his thoughts and he found some amusement in that. "Perhaps whatever is in there that has caused the trouble may kill me. But hopefully there are those stronger than I who can solve whatever has created this atmosphere of misery and fear. Hopelessness. And they may put this world to right."

He held his hand out to the man, noting it was shaking slightly. His lips curled upwards in amusement at all the sensations he was feeling.. "IF.. I will look for you afterwards. Death is only Death and the final mystery begun."

Jaster moved towards the door of the Pantheon. It was time to find out what was happening. And though bone tired, he quickened his pace disappearing inside.

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The Grigori
07.27.08 Joint Group

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Lazy Thoughts
07.30.08 Solo

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Saljin pulled Jaster to the side after Kishara had been taken care of. Someone had said that was her name, and she had needed to be moved upstairs to a bed for comfort and healing. "I didn't want to tell you this, Jaster, but I think you should look up there. I think.. it's him."

A scowl appeared as he gazed at the shifter in some confusion. "Who?"

"Yes. The one you spoke to. I... something happened to him I think." Saljin grabbed Jaster's arm, holding onto it tightly for a moment. "It's not good."

Violet and jade eyes met briefly before one turned away. He walked to the top of the stairs, wincing as he reached the top. His face paled several shades whiter and he simply stared at what had been done. Images of what he'd seen that day and said burst downwards on him. Regret. Remorse. Anger. All slipped through Jaster as he clenched his fists tightly, staring at the shape of the god he had been seeking. He blinked hard, several times, simply staring as the tears in his eyes fuzzed his vision.

"Cheeky." He whispered leaning closer. "That's what he called me, Saljin. I am still I suppose, but I've learned since last we met. There's still more to know. From him. That creature did this to him. It's why she was in such a hurry to get away."

He touched the stone in his flesh again reminded of that day. Several tears slipped down his face as he continued to silently gaze at what had become of Destruction. Then he turned back to Saljin, eyes furious though still hurt.

"I need to find information, Saljin. On how to undo this. He's not just a god, but the ...
Father? of gods. This is his throne. That thing should not have done this to him." There was some hesitation in him on the word, but he'd had a great deal of time to think on his way to this day. Only a parent would spend 86 ages alone and then bring their children to life as he has. Each had a chosen place and time. He and Taj were no exception. "We need him back."

Tajnevaki shifted uncomfortably, feeling the intense emotions from his host. All this while Jaster had been looking forward to seeing Destruction again. And now when he did, disappointment and pain slipped through them both. But this determination was enticing and it was what Taj believed he needed most from him. Time would tell whether it served them well or not.

He did not even think about it, but as tired as he was, Jaster simply crashed on one of the couches near the window that thing Samyaza had gone through. The wall was still out there and he was quite certain there was no way to cross it and to touch it most likely would cause a great deal of trouble. He was tired more than anything after a day such as he'd had. The only bright spot had been what he learned from Betha and the stone fused to her. From where he was, he could see Destruction. It only made him more determined to find the solution once he could get out of here.

For an entire day the wall remained. It vanished as suddenly as it had appeared and Jaster jumped thinking they were going to be under attack again. But when nothing appeared, he walked to the shattered window to glance outwards. His jaw dropped open in surprise as he stared into the great chasm that was there. What did they do now? How were they supposed to get across that? She'd trapped them to give herself time to do whatever it was she was up to. Hopefully those that were stronger, older, would not give her that time.

Wait. Taj stated, whispering caution as much as solution.

Jaster sighed as he moved away. There was little else to do but wait for it to vanish. He was not going anywhere until it did. IF it did. But in the meantime there were things to be done. Cleaning up the glass. Finding information. And figuring out where he and Taj were needed.

Three times he'd started to sweep the glass from the floor in front of the window that Samyaza had gone through. And three times he simply stood staring at it. He really was not in the mood to work. Jaster just wanted to sit down and do nothing. They'd been pushing for weeks, trying to get to the Pantheon. And when they had, there was a mess and he still was nearly clueless on what was happening. Except with Destruction. Even when he tried to focus on what he was doing, he was drawn back to watch him. Well, not him. The chrysalis of what he would become.

Could this be stopped? Did they even have a chance to do so without knowing what had been done and how to counter it?

He sat down, still holding the broom as a piece of glass caught his eye. It was a deep violet with swirls of various lighter purples. The light shimmered across the top making it glitter brightly. For a long instant he was caught, mesmerized by it. Reaching down he picked it up thinking how beautiful it was. Tilting it he played with the bit of light splaying across the surface, a faint smile crossing his lips. For several long moments, he amused himself with the shard of glass, forgetting what he was doing and having no energy to do it. But then he caught sight of the ruined window and the events of the previous day or so came crashing back down on him and he glanced back towards Destruction.

His eyes traveled over the form several times causing him to sigh suddenly. There was work to do and somehow he would help find a way to restore the god to his throne. He owed him that much for his rudeness and more. Not the least of which was an apology.

Getting to his feet, Jaster began to sweep. The small violet shard went into his pack nearby. It would serve as a reminder of what needed fixed.

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Let's Go To The Stars...
07.17.08 Joint with Cinderfae & Xanil

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Let's Go To Space!
Note to self. May need adjusted for when Grigori ends as to whether it is Envy or Lust., but needed to get started. Double check...

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A Leap Into The Unknown
08.09.08 Joint with Uta & Talencia

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Slate Sky : Week of Lust
07.18.08 Solo

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After Cinder showed them the room, Jaster dropped his pack on the floor. Then he kicked his boots off tiredly only to stand in his socks to tug his jacket off. It took several tries to get his arm from the sleeve with what little strength he had left. Sighing he tossed the jacket to the pack.

"Nice room. I'm so tired, Saljin." he stated, closing his eyes. "I really wanted to see what's going on, but I just can't." His voice was barely above a murmurr and Saljin strained to hear it.

"Get some sleep, Jaster. You will feel better when you waken." he said softly, kicking his own boots off. He blinked in sudden surprise at the light snore. Jaster was already out. Sighing he got to his feet, taking a blanket to cover him up. His own bone weariness made him sigh again as he walked over to his own bed. Jaster would not be up for at least a day.

Jaster never noticed when the ship took off. Saljin blinked getting up and looking out for a moment or two and then lay back down. There was not much to see and he drifted off again. He'd see that Jaster had food and everything he needed when he woke.

When Saljin finally woke and remained awake, he watched Jaster for a time. He still looked exhausted, but fusing that stone was taking its toll on him. His voice had begun changing from the start but now it more the same tone. A deeper richer sound and he wondered if that was what Taj sounded like. Or if that was the beginning of their blending together.

He was standing at the mirror when the strangest sensation hit him. Startled at the intensity, the shifter scowled as he suddenly shivered. For several moments he tried to fight it, then he headed for a cold shower. What was wrong with him? Was space doing this to him? She'd said nothing of side-effects related to space travel. Standing beneath the icy water, Saljin got a bit of relief but shivered not just from the coldness. It was not entirely under control when he got out, but he could deal once more.

By the time Jaster woke, Saljin had been in the shower twice more trying to get his body under his own management. Finally it faded away leaving him sighing in relief. He'd even gone to get food after watching Jaster stirring more and more as time went by.

Jaster stared at him oddly for a moment. "What's wrong, Saljin?"

"Not sure. Just... some odd sensations. Let me know if anything affects you. We might have to talk to Cinder about space travel and figure out if this is because of that." the shifter replied, avoiding telling exactly what it was. It really was not something he wanted to discuss with Jaster or anyone and hopefully it had stopped now.

He raised an eyebrow in some amusement, yawning. "If you say so, Saljin." he shrugged moving towards the showers. Halfway to the shower, he stopped, hesitating and shivered lightly. Amusement was felt from Taj and Jaster nearly growled at him. "Oh give me a break..."

Saljin lifted an eyebrow, lips twitching upwards. "Problem?" he asked in a great deal of amusement.

"Don't worry about it. I just hope there's some cold water." he replied, moving stiffly into the bathroom. This must have been what Saljin was talking about. Of all the problems to have.

The shifter broke into laughter. So it was not just him. Jaster was feeling it too. They'd have to speak to the pilot and find out if this was supposed to affect them as it had. Something was very odd otherwise.

When Jaster finally left the bathroom, Saljin headed in again. He was just sitting there with the cold water pouring down over him when it suddenly stopped. Staring upwards in surprise, he frowned, turning the knob. Nothing he did helped so he toweled off and stepped out.

"No more water, Jaster." he stated, brushing through his hair as he glanced towards the other.

"None at all or no cold?" he asked, turning to stare at Saljin intently.

"None at all. That can't be good with what we are feeling. If it's not the space travel, then what is it? I think we will have to ask." He pulled his hair back tying it out of the way.

Jaster sighed as Taj again flickered in amusement.

Lusty is this passionate time.

"Shut up, Taj." Jaster muttered but shook his head when Saljin questioned him. "I want to learn to use a gun too. I need to see Cinder about that."

By the time both had eaten and moved out into the hallway, they were more under control and the feelings they had been having were sliding away more. Both were relieved but if their feelings surged upwards again, they'd have no choice but to hit the showers again. If there was water.

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Shooting Range: Week of Lust
Give me ice water already!
07.19.08 Joint with Cinderfae

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Anonymous Stars
07.19.08 Solo

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User ImageIt had taken all his willpower to pull himself away from Cinder after she had woken him. He wanted to stay with her but it was nearly time to land. Several times he had gone towards the door only to return and pull her against him for a kiss. He just did not want to let go. Bettina had been fun, but she had nothing on Cinder. His feelings for the redhead were much stronger than he had ever felt for any girl he had been involved with. Taj had remained oddly silent though Jaster knew he was there enjoying the closeness after so long of being alone. He seemed intrigued by Karaskis also. That could only be a good thing, right?

During the night and the time spent together after a few shooting matches with Saljin, Jaster had told Cinder all that had occurred in the Pantheon in detail. Naming the names and actions of all those there so that she knew all that he did. And so that Karaskis did also. He had even talked of growing up on his own except for Saljin and how useful a library was to someone like him. Saljin had taught him much of the world the shifter knew in the Labyrinth. Everything from clothing and food to manners and dancing, but he was finding out that it was not entirely suited to the upper worlds but considered old fashioned. Antiquated.

But she had shared her information with him also. They talked of Panacea, Illumin, and others who she had to track down to get what was needed. Aristogeiton was necessary to pull Creation/Destruction back to himself. He remembered the phrase that the names were unwriting. Had the Big D been trying to tell he and Taj something? And was that why Taj felt such a need to tell him not to be late? Was Mystery needed to help with this? Of course he was. He was already involved and he nearly laughed. Jaster realized that his life had gotten so much more complicated than he had ever expected. But it was in a good way and he was enjoying it.

He had thought about that word and decided perhaps it was time to do something about it. If he could learn to use a gun, he could change his clothing. And more. When he had returned, Saljin and Jaster had discussed their clothing, what they expected and what they should do. Both liked the leather pants they wore and their boots were comfortable having been well broken in and neither felt that knee high leather boots were always in style. However their jackets and cloaks were out of place and would draw attention to them. That was not what they wanted. Especially if they would have to take what they needed from the pirates.

As he worked on his jacket, having cut it so that it fit perfectly at his waist rather than long, Jaster reflected back on the evening before. It was not just what was going on that drew his attention to Cinder. She had from the very beginning with that fiery hair of hers and calling them over. That's why he had agreed to help her. As much for her as Destruction. He'd more than liked what he had seen in those first few moments. The cybernetic thing at the back of her neck had not even phased him. It was simply a part of who she was.

As he held her, his hand had brushed the stone in her hip. It was beautiful, fiery and not unlike she was with her hair down. A flame that would warm one for a long time to come. A thought crossed his mind that she would be gone one day, just as he would. But he was used to living from moment to moment and he pushed the thought aside. For now. It was all he could do with her in his arms.. For now that was all their options were.

A quick shower a few moments later- even sonic, led him to thinking about her again and remembering the night before once more with a great deal of fondness. And heat. Taj became amused again and Jaster growled.

"Stop smirking."
Then he noted Saljin's amused gaze. "Not you."

Shaking his head, Saljin glanced over in amusement. "There are things that need done, Jaster." he reminded. But as Jaster dressed he suddenly stopped, the blue silk shirt in his hand. He did not feel the same as he once had and the silk shirt was not quite appropriate. It was time for another change. Walking into the bedroom again, he glanced over at Saljin.

"Is there other clothing here? I've not really looked."
he asked moving towards the closet.

"Yes. I found a few shirts. T-shirts Mycroft called them. A variety of colors but mostly white." Saljin replied still working on his jacket. He was removing some of the embellishments for a simpler look.

Picking out one that was brighter blue than the rest, he slipped it on. It fit snuggly against his chest and he nodded his approval. " Not bad."

"About ready?"
Jaster asked tugging on his jacket, and only taking what he felt was necessary. "We will have to ask Cinder what to take with us. I can't imagine we would need alot since we are looking for information."

"I'm ready." he stated, pulling his own jacket on. "We need guns too. I'm sure we can get them from her, though keep the dagger just in case on your belt."

"Let's head for the cabin where she flies. I want to see what the planet looks like."
He did not wait on Saljin, but was out the door, more interested in seeing Cinder again.
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Space Bar ::Week of Lust
07.24.08 Joint with Cinder & Xanil

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Space Bar
Quest for information on Panacea, the Althenia, and the Diswies. It begins with Xanil's post after the spam post on page 3. This includes learning about the Athenia, the Squalldancer, and slaves as well as Delta Centra as the place to find the pirates to trade.

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07.24.08 Solo
Intro to Excentrique, an aoide
Gathering info on the pirates

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User ImageHaving split up from the others while looking for information in Delta Centra, Saljin and Jaster began wandering through the town. Glancing around at a leisurely pace, they tried not to gawk too much at the happenings everywhere. This was a new city to both of them and exciting. There were so many different races and languages and just so much going on.

Jaster was finding it thrilling and his face showed it. The food here smelled wonderful, but unsure what some of it was, both he and Saljin refrained from trying it. They simply continued at a leisurely pace.

She had been sitting to the side, feet propped up watching people. Why she was here? She honestly had no idea. Excentrique had simply wakened to find everything changed from what she had once known. Where was her lord? And who were all these people? She wore little clothing, and all the men seemed to stare. Several had tried grabbing her until she'd left bruises on their heads with her staff. The wood might be twisted and decorated strangely, but it was good and sturdy to hit someone with.

"Oh why am I even here?"
she grumbled, putting her chin on her hands as she leaned forwards with her elbows on the table.

"Because you don't know any better."
a voice smirked drawing her attention to it.

"Oh shut up! I've a good mind to put you in a corner and leave you there."

"I helped you earlier."

"Bah! I did that using you as a stick."

"I am a stick."

"Oh shut up!"

A man walking by stopped to get a good look at her. She might be crazy- talking to herself and all, but to him she looked rather sexy for a goatgirl. Triq glared at him, readying the staff she carried. "Go for it, buster, and I'll put a lump on that head of yours you will never get rid of. I'm picky."

He blinked, but leered at her a few more times before moving on. There was nothing she could do about his watching her. Shortly afterwards, she got to her feet as two men passed her by. His jade green eyes met hers and for a long moment they stared at one another as he continued walking onward. His friend glanced at her, violet eyes shining and she drew her breath in sharply, but turned to watch them walk on down the walkway. Both had such pretty eyes.

Jaster turned back to watch her silently for a moment but he never stopped. He was staring at her in confusion. As if drawn there. Taj stirred as he met her eyes which caused a frown to furrow across his brow. He studied her staff for an instant, eyes traveling the length. At the top floating above the twisted portion was a deformed demonic presence. A mishapen mass. The eyes in the creature's sockets were red hot coals and flames burned around its twisted head. He could make out a horn or two, but little else. The young man frowned as Taj stirred further. He blinked at the staff again, and then the girl.

"Something wrong, Jaster?" Saljin asked, watching her himself for a long moment.

"No. I... I don't know."
he replied glancing at her again, then he turned around the corner in front of them.

She gripped the wood tightly for a moment, shivering and causing the flask to move and the liquid inside to wiggle slightly where she had attached it to her waist. Who was he? There was something so familiar there but she couldn't quite see it.

"Mystery shrouds himself in jade eyes."
the staff smirked.

"What are you talking about?"

The spirit there snickered again. "Stupid goat. How much clearer can I be? There goes your lord."

"My master? Are you sure? You better not be lying to me again!"
she asked, shaking it up and down violently. Watching in surprise as they turned the corner, she wondered what to do but then she was moving. Hurrying to the spot, she carefully glanced around the side of the building. Both were walking further down the street. Her teeth tugged her lower lip for an instant. Slowly she began following them. Was this cretin in the staff right? Was that her lord? Her god? Mystery himself? It had been a long time and he looked so different. Why?

the staff smirked, flames in his eyes dancing.

"Shut up, you jerk!"
she growled, causing several to stare at her. "I'm not crazy." She replied, her chin rising up in defiance of what they thought. "The staff is.. is.. haunted."

"Right, babe." the guy to the right of her smirked. "Pretty but crazy, but hey, I don't have any problem with it."

Her eyes narrowed as if she were going to hit him. She held her staff as if her next movement would be at him.

"Your lord gets away, moron. Poor stupid craaaaazy goat!"
the creature snorted in some glee. Only she and Mystery had ever seen him hidden within the staff, but there was a reason for it and he growled in annoyance at the thought.

she wailed, bolting forwards at a run. He had vanished around the next corner again. Without thinking she bolted, lurching past several people and without halting, she whipped around the building he'd vanished behind only to come face to face with him.

Jaster and Excentrique stared at one another for a long moment. Saljin had slipped around and come in behind her when he understood she was following them.

"I told you she was following us." Saljin smirked.

Excentrique reacted at the sound of his voice. Swinging around, she brought the staff upwards. Saljin blinked gasping in extreme pain as the wooden staff slammed hard into his crotch. Sudden tears in his eyes, he sucked in his breath sharply.

Her mouth dropped open in surprise as she realized what she'd done. Teeth tugged her lower lip as she stared at him. She'd hit him directly and she was sure they were going to kill her now.

Jaster called his eyes wide, stepping forwards as the shifter paled and dropped to his knees.

"Oh! You've done it now, goat! Hurt your master's friend!"
He nearly danced in glee at the trouble she was in.

"Oh shut up!" both she and Jaster growled at the same time. They glanced at one another in surprise and then back to the shifter sitting in pain.

Saljin blinked staring at them both, then shaking his head as he tried to refocus. "I guess... that's one way to take care... of my problem..." he gasped out, trying to get to his feet.

Helping him up, Jaster sighed. "Why did you do that?" He held onto Saljin as he watched her.

"He startled me. I've been attacked several times and had to fight them off. I didn't mean to... I mean.. not THERE anyhow."
Excentrique replied. "I just... I'm sorry..." Her voice was contrite and it showed she really had not meant to hit him in such a way.

"Just what?" Saljin asked, the pain subsiding a bit more. He winced when he tried to straighten up. It was going to take awhile for the pain to go away, so he just leaned on Jaster a bit.

"I'm sorry. I was just trying to figure it out. I'm Excentrique or sometimes called Triq."
she stated, holding the staff to the side. "I wouldn't have hit him there.. you know.. I mean. There are better uses than.... that." She shrugged, smiling faintly as her voice trailed off. "Not there. But he shouldn't have startled me like that. What sort of person sneaks up like that?"

Excentrique... the lusty wench serves us. Taj finally spoke up, and it was with amusement.

"What was it you were trying to figure out, Triq?"
Jaster suddenly asked her. "Taj says that..."

She blinked, eyes widening, and began smiling widely. "Taj?! Lord Tajnevaki! Then it is he! I mean you! I mean... I'm confused. How...?" Her expression ran the gambit from joy and happiness to confusion and scowls. "Oh nevermind! It doesn't matter!" She jumped at Jaster nearly knocking Saljin down in the process wrapping her arms around him and squeezing tightly. "I found you!"

"Moronic goat!"
the spirit smirked again. "Assaulting a god! Horsewhip her!"

"Shut up!" Jaster replied, but Taj pushed forwards. "Behave yourself, Pretzel. Changes can be made. Then who and where will you be?"

Excentrique hit her knees immediately understanding, but she so loved hearing his voice again. "My Lord! I have finally found you!"

Jaster blinked as Taj receded. "Get up, Triq. There's no reason for that." He flushed red as he watched her. Noone needed to kneel to them.

Saljin sighed moving to the side. "She hits me for no reason and kneels to you. And I'm guessing there is someone here I cannot see?"

"Yes. He's sealed in the staff. Taj says his name is Pretzel and he's an evil little thing."

Pretzel replied in annoyance.

Jaster could almost see him crossing his arms and scrunching up his face. "Triq, Taj says you serve him. I'm guessing you are to me what Kalfyra is to Karaskis. You might as well come along. We are searching for information, but let's step to the side so I can explain."

The shifter blinked in surprise. "You aren't really.." he asked, the pain finally easing off.

"I trust Taj, Saljin. She comes along."
Jaster smirked faintly thinking of what she had said of other uses. She was already staring at Saljin. He suspected the shifter's trouble would soon be taken care of. But he watched Pretzel a moment, frowning. Taj had done something to the creature. There was a reason he was sealed to the staff, but he did not like the way the creature whatever he was treated Triq. He'd have to reinforce that himself.

"So what are we doing?"
She asked watching Jaster and Saljin, but her attention was on the shifter's violet eyes.

Jaster's lips twitched upwards. "Looking for information on some items we need." His voice soft, he told her what they they had already found out as well as what they needed and why. "So keep up, Triq. We aren't waiting for anyone." He and Saljin began to walk in their original direction only to find she wasn't with them. Both turned to stare at her.

"Triq, come on. We don't have time to waste." Saljin growled.

"Moronic goat."
Pretzel smirked.

Her teeth tugged her lip. "But I already know the answers to that."

"What do you mean you know?"
Jaster asked, watching her closely.

"Well, the Diswies are the pirate group you are looking for, right? If anything of value is taken by them, it would be on the command ship. Let's see.. what was the name of it? It's something to do with a dancer and a storm. Cloud..no... LIghtning... no... What's that other word that is for a storm?"

Both Saljin and Jaster stared at one another. "Squalldancer?" We know that.

"Well, the captain.. he's been wearing the necklace around. He likes it alot and several women have been trying to get him to give it to them but so far nothing they've done has tempted him. Anyhow, they attacked a big ship. Lost alot of their own too. Eight ships I think I heard. But..what's his name?"
Triq scowled faintly as she tried to remember.

"Don't hurt yourself."
Pretzel had found a reason to smirk again. Annoyed Jaster growled, causing him to shrug, folding his arms.

"The captain's name, silly."
she replied and then gasped realizing what she'd done. "I mean.. my lord. It's... it's Tie something. Sounds like.. bald"

Saljin repeated. "Tie bald.. Tybalt? It reminds me of Tibald a name of renown in some places."

"That's it!" she smirked. "He's the captain of the ship. And I know where they do business. Well, where there ship is."

"Alright." Saljin nodded as did Jaster. "Let's head back to the ship and see if any of the others have returned yet. Then we can go talk to the pirates."

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Rat Or Cat
07.24.08 Solo
Saljin gains rat and small cat forms

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User ImageJaster watched him a moment as they sat down to talk. They were waiting to see if anyone returned, so both men and Excentrique had returned to the ship. They were still fighting the sensations bothering them, but there was an idea that he had been working on. Of course it concerned Saljin and his shifting ability. He had been thinking that he only had ever seen the shifter in three forms. The goatgirl Jaster had sent to the galley to fix them a cup of tea.

"Saljin, have you ever tried any other shapes besides the three you use?"
He asked watching the shifter's face closely.

Saljin shook his head. "Not that I can ever remember. Why?" What was Jaster leading up to? Had he thought of something that needed a different form?

"Well, the more you can control, the better for us, right? The more advantages we have. Out here we might need them and with so many different types of life, it opens things up a great deal for you. It could help hold Zrath off you too. If that curse allows you to shift to anything, then with enough practice, you'd have a larger selection to deal with than just the panther or birds."
He continued to frown thoughtfully watching the shifter as the idea shaped more.

His eyes unfocused as if in thought and the shifter smiled after a moment. "It's not a bad idea. I'm just not sure that I'd be able to do it. I guess I could try and see what happens. If it won't let me change, I'll be shoved back to myself anyhow. What first? Any suggestions?"

"Yes. Try something small. A rat?"
Jaster replied. "They can get into places we cannot and people seldom notice them other than running away."

Nodding, he got to his feet. "A rat. Let me think a moment." Closing his eyes, he thought about what a rat really looked like. Trying to see its image clearly in his mind, he drew in a deep breath. Whiskers. Beady little eyes. A pointed nose. A long tail usually hairless. Black. For an instant he simply stood still. Nothing appeared to be happening. Then his nose began to twitch and wiggle and itch making him want to scratch it.

Jaster watched closely. "Something is changing, Saljin. Keep it up." The last thing he wanted to do was distract him by telling him his head was still human but he had rat ears.

For an instant he held it. Then it slipped away from him, leaving him gasping and knees weak.

"Well, it was a thought."
Jaster replied, somewhat disappointed.

"No. I had to let it go. I lost focus. I think I can do it, Jaster. It's just going to take a couple tries." Saljin replied. He had honestly not thought of trying for other shapes. The bird forms and panther had always served them well. Maybe there were more options now.

It took him four tries to entirely shift into a rat. The black creature stared with beady eyes at Jaster. Amused both he and Taj chuckled. He was sitting in the middle of the floor just testing the body when Excentrique returned. She squealed, nearly dropping the tray of teacups, pot, and hot tea but managed to get it to the table nearby. Grabbing her staff, she squeaked again.

"Oh! I hate rats! I hate them!"
she growled. The next instant she was trying to hit the creature. Jaster blinked in surprise as Saljin ran for the furniture. But that didn't stop her. She followed, trying to pound him with the end of the weapon. Three times she nearly hit him until he slipped behind the furniture where Jaster was sitting.

As she rounded one side of the chair, Jaster burst out into laughter. "Better run, Saljin!" he smirked. "She's after you again!"

Love is found in unlikely places.

Breaking into even more amusement as she stopped at the the name. Turning she stared in surprise at her god. "You mean that... he's... oh my! I didn't meant to....I mean... I meant to, but not to him..."

"Moronic goat.
Pretzel smirked, but then caught a glance from Jaster and stopped before he said anything further. This one was going to spoil all his fun just as the god had and a grumble slipped out.

Saljin had run out the other side when Jaster had stopped her. A moment later he had slipped free of rat form and stared at her. "Bah! What is it with you? You going to try to kill me no matter what I do? You nearly took my head off!"

"I'm sorry!"
she growled out. Then she stared at him defiantly, chin in the air. "You should have told me that you could do that! It's as much your fault as mine!"

"My fault! It's not my fault you think you have to hit everything in sight!" Saljin growled back, moving towards her. "I should take that staff and toss it in the trash!"

Pretzel blinked, his jaw dropping open. "Don't let him do that, stupid! Then what will you do?"

"You just try it!"
she dared, brandishing it at him again. Her eyes were angry at the thought that her protection would be so casually tossed aside.

That was all Saljin could handle. In two steps he was beside her, taking the staff from her before she even understood he was there. But by the time he had gotten a step nearer the waste bin, she had growled and swung her fist at him. He stepped back, dropping the staff to the floor and grabbed her instead. Then he was suddenly kissing her as she blinked in stunned surprise.

"Ow! Hey!.... You... dropped... "
Pretzel stated tilting his head to watch. "He likes goats?"

Jaster snorted in amusement, but coughed loudly to get their attention before it went further. Especially with an audience. But before he could say anything another shoved him aside. "Saljin. Triq. Another time and place." Taj demanded firmly. He stared at them both, folding Jaster's arms.

Saljin shook his head, stepping backwards in such a hurry he nearly sprawled. It was obviously the god that had put a stop to it. "Grrr.. this is really driving me nuts."

Triq pursed her lips watching him a moment. He'd caught her off-guard, but with him she'd have been amenable to it. But upon hearing Taj's voice, she had stopped, shaking herself free of it. A faint shiver ran through her. With a sudden smirk, her eyes sparkling in amusement, she stated, "I guess it will have to wait until later. Consider it a reward, Saljin."

"Some reward. She'll have to try to kill me first again." he muttered, moving away. "I don't think a rat, Jaster. Maybe a small feline instead. Just keep her away from me."

Taj receded as Jaster laughed. "I'll do what I can. But sometimes sparks are hard to put out."

"Brat," he muttered, focusing his attention away from Excentrique. Gods, how he hoped this sensation stopped soon. Thinking about what he knew of a small cat, he began to pull and shape himself into a feline. But the one he ended up with was too large by half again, though it was smaller than the panther by a great deal. He unshifted stretching for a moment or two. Carefully he kept his attention off the aoide as she served some tea to Jaster.

Pretzel said nothing. He was simply watching to see what Saljin was doing. It was interesting seeing him change from what he was to something else. He almost wished that he could. Several evil thoughts slipped down to him of all the things he could to with that ability. He suddenly smirked loudly and then began to laugh wickedly.

Triq turned growling at him. "Stop your cackling, you ugly little lump. It gives me the shudders."

The creatured continued to laugh until Jaster glanced his way, eyes narrowed. The laugh died in a cough as if to clear its throat. Tajnevaki would have no mercy on him and he knew it all too well and the one changing to him would be the same. But the god couldn't always be around and he'd still have her to torment.

Saljin sighed, trying three more times before he got a feline form that was smaller than normal. The small black cat had violet eyes, but it was everything a cat should be. Tiredly he jumped up on the couch where Jaster sat. For a moment he stared at him, but then let the shape go. "I'm tired, but I think I can hold either the rat or the small feline for a length of time. I need to see some other shapes or find some information and study the structure of them, Jaster. It could work. Maybe... that priman that Cinder showed us. Mycroft might have something I can use."

"Good idea. The more the better."
Jaster replied. The more shapes, the more surprises and the more advantages for them. They certainly did not know what was going to happen and anything that helped them survive until they returned to the Pantheon was only a good thing.

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