The Reckoning: Arx Day 4 - Blackrose Theater
Jan. 30, 2024, 7 p.m.
Arx - Ward of the Compact - Blackrose Theater - Auditorium
Comments and Log
Azazel is not a music lover. He is more than happy to devour any and all musicians (and music), and actors, and really just any entertainment in general. He wants to devour the Compact metaphorically and literally, and will settle for one or the other here, which is why he's trying to devour the Theater and anyone in it on his way to the thinnest point. The Blackrose Theater being a host of plays that revealed his secrets have long been a sore point to him, and so he's here, trying to devour anyone and everyone as scores of floating maws appear chasing people, though the appearance of the one called The Dirge performing on stage was likely unexpected.
OOC: Azazel is trying to eat his way through the room partly on his way to devouring a path down to the thinnest point. There will just be two offensive rounds, and no defensive rounds, checked at hard. However, he is incredibly aggravated by anyone playing up to the nature of the Blackrose Theater. Anyone making a performance check does so at easy, and successes there particularly infuriate him and help drive him off. Failed rolls still get dangerous bites.
The dirge himself is singing a beautiful melody of heartrending sorrow while staring pointedly at the different maws trying to eat patrons.
Aleksei checks dexterity and performance at easy. Aleksei is successful.
Tikva checks charm and performance at easy. Tikva is successful.
Vashtalyn checks dexterity and performance at easy. Vashtalyn is successful.
Fortunato checks wits and artwork at hard. Fortunato marginally fails.
Apollo checks dexterity and performance at easy. Apollo is successful.
Mirari checks dexterity and small wpn at hard. Mirari is successful.
Lianne checks intellect and artwork at normal. Botch! Lianne fails completely.
Duarte checks intellect and manipulation at hard. Duarte is successful.
Samira checks dexterity and performance at easy. Samira is successful.
Neviah checks perception and artwork at normal. Neviah is successful.
A great many mouths try to swarm over Lianne, and really are just biting at Onyx and disintegrating in the attempt. They did ruin his robe though. He's likely very sad about it.
[MAGIC - Attack, you bet] Tikva strides down the wing of the auditorium toward the stage where the Dirge sings, playing her balalaika on a theme that riffs directly from the powerful song on the stage. She doesn't bother with words; she's singing backup vocals to the tune of "nanana, oh, nanana," and grinning viciously as she does so. Occasionally, she keeps the beat with a knock of her boot against one of the auditorium seats, like a comic singer on a vaudeville tour except that none of that exists. "And get fucked," she sings at one of the flying mouths, slamming down on the instrument's body as she sends sonic force at it like the boom of a thunderclap.
[MAGIC! - UTILITY - Multiple Me] Where better - and it what better context - could one call on /all the roles/ he's ever played. A youth, scared; an apprentice; a tanner, a tailor, a diplomat, a Whisper, an Oathlander, Islander, commoner, lord, Lycene Duke - Apollo has been so many things, and finds it so easy to fall into his many roles. There are, of course, several of them that are quite good at stabbing, artfully or effectively or both; he's known how to do that for quite a long time, as it turns out. The more innocent-seeming of the Apollos that appear probably look tasty, tempting. They all pack knives.
[Magic - The Darkest Blade] A shadow slips into the room, drawing a blade and the moment she's arrives, ready to attack anything in her way. Mirari fights all the while keeping a very close watch over Duarte, she stands near him and his companion. Looking at the man she says, "come on Duarte, let's cause some shit."
[MAGIC - Illusion] Okay, in truth, Fortunato just wanted to hang out in a nice theater for the sake of nostalgia. For remembered strange, elliptical conversations in a remembered setting. And the Dirge does have such a voice, doesn't he? Unfortunately, he himself cannot: sing, dance, or act. When the mouths appear, he swears, honestly, we are all so worn out and would like a /moment/. He flitters around illusions, trying to cover for people being pursued, but it's mostly just visual noise.
[MAGIC] Duarte's new red-headed friend seems to mildly enjoy The Dirge's song. "It's not /bad/ he comments."
Duarte bounds to his feet when the maws start devouring things and then he starts for real when Mirari suddenly appears from a shado, "Gah!" He grips his chest. But is at once relieved when it is Mirari. He doesn't seem to really do anything when he looks back to the numerous attacking little maws, except note that a few of them start trying to bite each other instead.
[MAGIC] - Lianne /does/ draw attention with that broad swath of terrible black fire which she does not simply shoot at the mouths, but tries to /paint/ the room with. She is not a perform, but moved by the music, by the grace of her companions, perhaps she thinks to provided setting, the world all aflame, mouths screaming in horror? No. It doesn't quite work. Blessedly, she's a quick learner and likely won't try that again. She's also a quick step, and while she doesn't /mean/ to send the many mouths at her former mentor as she evades them, she still recognizes cause and effect, murmuring a quiet, "Sorry," as she goes.
[MAGIC] Aleksei may not generally be a performer on stage, but he Champions are always performers in their own right. And so he /leaps/ to the stage, sword drawn in a flourish that gleams and twirls in his hand, a performer of this if nothing else. "Don't--" he says, starting to slash at the mouths, "--you have -- anything -- /better/ -- to do!!!"
There's a growling sound from outside before a hulking man without a shirt bursts into the hall. It looks like Trevor Helianthus but if so... he's changed. Black veins weave up half of his body and he's grown at least a few inches taller with an intense amount of muscle mass. And he's roaring. Why he's here of all places? Unclear. He holds a greatsword in one hand and charges toward one of the maws.
[MAGIC - Mood Manipulation Cantrip] Samira once participated in a play entitled Eternal Love (Despair). How fitting for her, really. She channels that experience now, projecting her voice and filling it with deep emotion. "We fight for all those lost and all those left behind. With our love and grief and desires!" She speaks loudly, theatrically even, an attempt to send a blast of utter demoralizing despair and hopelessness toward those maws.
Neviah hasn't been in Arx long enough to figure out its machinations. It may be why her journal heavily features reminders of how to get by. So when everyone decides it's a good time to sing, play instruments, and dance around the clear and present danger, she takes out a quill and her blank book and starts scribbling down a new entry to her survival guide - in what some might call verse.
[MAGIC - CANTRIP - INSPIRATION] The chewing maw is like trying to eat a building. Okay! Vashtalyn happens to be here, maybe for some bard-related thing. Still, she doesn't seem super surprised. She dances out of the way of some of the mouths, and noticing that they seem particularly annoyed by her dexterity, she suddenly smiles. "Jayus, Inspiration, I hope you're with me!" She draws upon her inspiring aura, which might inspire others around her to start performing, who knows? She still runs around with no weapons and no armor, and so she just slides into a graceful dance, skirts swirling, hair tendrils flying as she reaches into her pouch to grab a needle she uses for her focus. "Today you won't eat me, no no no. Tomorrow you die, to the Abyss you will go," she sings. She's probably not a spellsinger, but she still has a Bard-trained voice.
A chorus of maws are screaming, "STOP FUCKING SINGING! STOP SINGING YOU INSECTS! IT'S JUST FUCKING BUZZING, IT'S ALL IT IS!" And then shudder and pop out of what seems to be pure outraged annoyance. Others are flying around trying to eat performers, and a number are so perturbed they just float still while vibrating in outrage at the performances. A few are seeping into the floor, which is probably not great.
((These are preeeeettty fast events. Another round of checks, and based on that will be how much of Azazel is getting to the thinnest point for tomorrow.))
Fortunato checks wits and artwork at hard. Fortunato is successful.
Duarte checks intellect and manipulation at hard. Duarte is successful.
Apollo checks dexterity and performance at easy. Apollo is successful.
Tikva checks charm and performance at easy. Critical Success! Tikva is inhumanly successful in a way that defies expectations.
Vashtalyn checks charm and performance at easy. Vashtalyn is successful.
Mirari checks dexterity and small wpn at hard. Mirari marginally fails.
Neviah checks perception and artwork at normal. Neviah marginally fails.
Samira checks dexterity and performance at easy. Samira is successful.
Lianne checks intellect and occult at easy. Lianne is successful.
Aleksei checks dexterity and performance at easy. Aleksei is successful.
Tikva reaches the stage and leaps up onto it. She strides to stand beside the Dirge and looks up at him with a particularly stupid, reckless grin on her face between strums of the strings. Then she turns outward and ratchets up her voice to the kind of high C that vibrates furniture and shatters glass. She holds for a ridiculously long time, powered by defiance, by triumph, by certainty, by a soul in harmony with herself. Just: "NO." But for a long time, so really noooooooooooooooooooooo. Either way: buzz buzz, motherfucker.
[Magic 2 - The Darkest Blade] "Surprise!," Mirari says to Duarte with a wink. There's a smirk on her face, the blade she holds becomes an extension of her and she jumps into the fight without reservation. Keeping close to her friend-for-life, she's no stranger to violence and she welcomes it and whatever fight comes her way. Sometimes it's effective, other time's it's not, but she never gives up or in.
As the mouths get annoyed about the singing, Vashtalyn smiles at them, and sings louder. "We shall not run, we shall not hide. Your gruesome maws shall not abide! She doesn't use any more magic. She's just singing, and dancing, and twirling, embracing the joy that is her life, and her performance. "Take your grotesque maws and flee. Our hearts are strong, and so are we." She twirls again, swaying and dancing to the rhythm of her soul, skirts flaring, dark hair whipping around, as her dark eyes stare the maws down.
[MAGIC (cantrip), possibly with a second burn to continue previous - Follow My Lead] The many Apollos - who have decided to /dance/ - have also decided to /partner up/. With the usual performers and the people who showed up just to hear the Dirge's ONE NIGHT ONLY PERFORMANCE, both. He whirls performers out of the way of hungry mouths to the lovely songs, some keeping time with entirely different singers. They're not a hive mind, that would be weird. Lianne, Samira, Neviah, anyone who wants a dance partner can have an Apollo. Gosh, if only he'd discovered magic earlier, he could have managed that packed social calendar with way fewer headaches. They twirl and spin, taunting. "Pity he doesn't know how to dance, isn't it?" comment several, near mouths. "He doesn't know how to be anything but an ugly mouth."
[MAGIC - Lash of Light] "Who -- is that?" Fortunato self-distracts as he watches a massive black-veined man wade in after demon mouths. (He can't judge on a weird vein situation, in truth.) This gives him a second to draw back attention from ineffective illusions, and just start striking maws with his illuminated murder-line. Especially at maws trying to gnaw through! His aim might be off, though, what with Onyx's robe tatters and all these dancing Apollos, sorry, Apollo, he has two left feet, aaah.
"Oh, does this /bother you/?" There's a viciousness to Aleksei's smile; it's desperate and reckless as he twists and twirls with his sword, slicing through maw after maw with flourishes of his blade. He peers over at the sudden appearance of /Trevor/ when Fortunato wonders about him. "Uhhhhh," he says. And then: "Don't know!"
[MAGIC] Duarte is clearly doing something at this point. It's just not flashy, and he's just not built for this sort of confrontation. He's doing his best to stay out of the bite path, hiding behind Mirari, and seeing that some of those maws bite the wrong things.
The reverberating high C asserts itself as a scrrrrriiiitch of the quill across the page in Neviah's book. Before there's time to assess the damage and bring the poem home, an Apollo is grabbing her and swinging her away from a mouth and into a merry, but bewildering, dance.
[MAGIC - ...a very pointed use of Songlessness] - Lianne is readily swept up by an Apollo. It doesn't matter which Apollo it is. She loves them all and knows well how to follow their lead. Hands busy, one in his, one upon his shoulder, the magic which moves through her is entirely different, channeled through the heavy crown she's scarcely removed since Azazel's assault began. Between its weight and the gravity of the song filling the theatre, tears flow freely down her cheeks and yet she smiles. Oh, it's an aching, sad smile--colored briefly by a grimace at that scritch of the quill--but there is joy tucked within its edges. And as she dances, the mouths snap ineffectively, many of their attacks utterly futile, falling short, empty. Pointless. Oh, yes, that's better. Much more in her element now.
With ease, grace, she calls, "Duke Trevor! So glad to see you're faring well!" Yes, friends. This is well. For Trevor. These days.
[MAGIC - mood manipulation cantrip] Watching those maws pop bring such satisfaction that it prompts Samira to add more theatrics to her performance, continuing her monologue about the maws and how they should just give up, attempting to fuel as much despair into them as she can muster. When one of the Apollos catches her hand and sweeps her into a dance, she steps nimbly in time with him, managing a graceful spin across the room in his arms. It's movement fueled by eagerness to rid them of the maws, yes, but also simply a moment to be caught up in the dance, the music, the beauty and ache of all their combined efforts.
Magical Trevor doesn't exactly seem to recognise the people around him. He /remembers/ Lianne well enough because he grunts in response to her greeting, before he continues his cleaving.
It's really Tikva's song, as it merges in perfect harmony with the singer on the stage, side by side as they play a triumphant song that has a lot of the maws shrieking in outrage and then promptly bursting. Many others are run down, and the artwork displays particularly annoys many of the maws to death, as Azazel shrieks unconvincingly that mortals don't REALLY understand art at the artists here. A handful of the maws burrow into the floor en route to the thinnest point, but the majority don't survive. They are victorious.
As they sing the finale, a few shining tears escape Tikva's eyes, but her smile is wide with a fierce joy - a temporary respite, maybe, from the darkness and the threat, as the maws flee. She looks back up at the Dirge beside her and then she reaches her hand out to him. Breathlessly, she says: "Curtain call."
"Azazel, you wouldn't know a piece of art if it depicted an endless hall of mouths," Fortunato says, apparently offended, as the light withdraws to the tips of his fingers. He looks up to Tikva, to Dirge. And he claps.
Well, Tikva's the boss. Too bad they're all deaf, now. Just kidding! Apollos - plural - offer kind words to their partners, before going back to what they were doing before, which is being memory burned deep into muscle. Bet Azazel hates that, too! A couple get cheek-kisses; one gets one on the mouth. You know, once there's just one of them. And he turns toward Tikva and Dirge and /bows/, like any good performer ought. He might regret not spending more time in theater, now. Well. This life or another.
The wraithlike form of Onyx is partially in tatters after a particularly nasty bite, and yet he still finds time to give a long look at The Dirge behind his mirrormask in what is almost certainly a glare. Then he shakes it off and continues to assist Lianne with disintegrating bits of Azazel.
Vashtalyn dances with Apollo.
Aurora shouts loudly from the Out <O>, "Make the mouth's pay! Literally. Don't let them hear a performance without paying!"
The Dirge says, "Fair's fair, the performance costs 17 silver to those that survived it."
Watching as the mouths burrow into the floor, the Corsetina cleans and slips her blade into a hilt. Then Mirari is turning to check Duarte is still standing, he's behind her and she gives him a smile. Reaching to pat the man on the shoulder she says in a sincere and serious whisper, "you did well." Then she looks around the theatre and shrugs her shoulders a little, "everyone's a critic."
Neviah exhales a laugh as her Apollo slips from her, leaving her grasping at nothing.
Aleksei's blade cuts down maw after maw with such artistry until, finally, they're gone, and he's left breathing a bit heavier in the aftermath. He /does/ look mildly baffled at the long, hostile look from Onyx to the Dirge, but seems to decide that's very much /not/ his issue. Instead, he says, "Don't like the look of the ones that went into the floor."
As quickly as it started, the many attacks around the city were defeated, with little bits of Azazel being quite literally bored to death in many cases, or more traditionally dealt with by being cut or crushed into tiny pieces. Unfortunately, a number did burrow down through the floor, as the Archfiend gathers himself up and prepares for one final battle.
When the song comes to a close, but a few mouths left to fry--and, oh, Lianne does very literally fry them with utterly unnatural fire--she murmurs something sweet to Apollo, scarcely befitting the tears yet staining her cheeks. She applauds Tikva and Dirge, her smile fuller for the former, glad to see her again, a hint of knowing in her eyes. How strange, then, to look around the theatre and find those left are mostly dear friends. Tears well anew at the reminder of so much of what matters, but she doesn't let that dim her smile as she looks to Onyx and offers, "Perhaps we might have the next dance." Oh, she'll fish out her silver--and then some--in a moment. Admission will be paid. Only fair.
Duarte comes back from a sort of daze of "what the actual fuck..." when Mirari touches him. He manages a smile and pats her hand in return. "Thank you, love." He sucks in a breath and drifts forward. Duarte steps around a pile of maws, steps on a couple of mouths and crunches many teeth underfoot on his way over to Lianne. He hasn't seen her since before the armies started attacking. Much has been lost since then, though it was just a little bit ago. Without preamble he falls forward and wraps her a hug.
Tikva lowers the balalaika and blows out her breath after a distinctly performative stage bow, before pulling up her instrument case against her thigh so that she can slide the long-necked instrument into its home. "No," she says. She was clearly part of the stage show so it does not even occur to her to pay. "Unfortunately. There's just too many of the slobbering great cretin for this to be the end, end."
"Pitiful take for a packed house," Apollo observes. His eyes turn toward the floor, and then up at Lianne as she goes to pay. "Do the performers pay?" he wonders. Oh well: if so, he'll offer up his 17 silver. Duarte coming to hug Lianne? Gets a look. "Don't worry about me, I'm fine," he says, having not quite lost all the theatrical inclinations in him. Then he grins crookedly, and goes to find the folks he abandoned returning to a single him.
Samira clearly takes offense to Azazel's remark about mortals not understanding art, but she decides their victory is answer enough. "Well worth the price of admission," she notes to the Dirge with a respectful bow of her head as she pays what's due. As the dance comes to an end, she bows with a fond flourish to her Apollo-partner and turns her gaze upon all those gathered, watching the aftermath of the attack, pleased by the outcome of their their artistic response.
Lianne makes a sound remarkably like a *squeak* when suddenly there's a Duarte upon her, arms around her. But those whispered words orient her quickly, and that hug is promptly reciprocated with all the strength her skinny arms can muster. Softly, she tells him, "We either succeed or we fail, darling. All we can do is what we're doing." Something softer follows, murmured against his cheek.
The wraith bows low to Lianne, offering a cold hand to her. "I would be honored, my former apprentice. Azazel is seeking the Thinnest Point. We must treasure the next of anything, for it is likely to also be last."
Neviah pays her admission fee before retracing her steps, a clumpy wave of hair held tucked behind one ear, in search of something.
A messenger arrives, delivering a message to Fortunato before departing.
Fortunato receives a rather -- substantial package from a messenger. His bright eyes widen, there is a hint of a smile? Rueful smile? And then he looks over at Lianne, Onyx past her. "Suppose we've all got to get darting down there."
Duarte peels himself off Lianne and nods to her quieter words. "I'll come along in a bit." He steps away so she can go dance with Onyx. He exhales and looks at Apollo. "So you are...." and it drifts straight faced long enough to come across the way it sounds before he smiles to the man and dips his head. "/Good/."
Duarte then wades through demon mouth corian back to Mirari, engaging her in a more muted discussion.
Harkles, an Andalashari tradesman have been dismissed.
Keme, an Andalashari musician have been dismissed.
Mistanya, an Andalashari apprentice seamstress have been dismissed.
Lianne, reunion concluded, dips into a sketch of a curtsey, leather pants not particularly well-suited for the gesture, and accepts Onyx's hand. "We do," she agrees to Fortunato, but she doesn't look his way just this moment or resort to anything which might qualify as darting. If it comes down to mere minutes between the Dream surviving or dying, there'll be no one left to place the blame upon her shoulders, but it would be a tragedy all the same. One she's willing to risk for one last dance.
Apollo watches Neviah go, then squeezes an arm around Samira's shoulders. The look that follows, at Duarte, might make one think the Count is going to find a fish in his desk drawer or something, for that. He takes a deep breath and sighs, eyes turning on Fortunato. "I'll be very glad to have all these mouths behind us." There's another alternative, but that's okay.
The wraith dances surprisingly elegantly with Lianne, though he does have the advantage of floating. "We must savor the moments before tragedy. Should Azazel allow any of us to continue to exist, there will be ample time for regret." Onyx has been accused, on occasion, of being something of a Debbie Downer. "You dance very well," he adds, in his kind voice.
Samira watches the approach of the messenger, the delivery brought to Fortunato. His words bring a shaky inhale followed by a quiet nod. "Suppose so." Her arm loops around Apollo's waist and she leans her weight toward his, expression softening as she catches sight of the dance between Lianne and Onyx. "Me, too. When all this is finally a thing of the past and we can get on with life." It's a wistful, hopeful remark, but she'll follow Apollo's lead and avoid mentioning the alternative.
About to saunter off, Mirari pauses when Duarte approaches her and whispers. One perfectly plucked eyebrows loft upwards and she gives him a single nod in response. Then Mirari looks over at everyone else, "well that was exciting!," a twisted smile offered and Mirari slips into the shadows.
"Mmm. I think--" Fortunato's attention keeps drifting, to the dance, to Apollo and Samira, to Aleksei and Tikva, to the mess around the stage and among the remaining audience. He shakes his head. "I think it's time for me to go. Down." He raises his hands, veined with light, over-bright. "I wish I could. Savor. Grasp these last moments with joy and wonder. I'm glad we're here. Alive. Too many echoes, though." He looks at the ground. His skin may look semi-transparent, but he is not permeable, able to slide into the dark. Well, perhaps that's not a pity.
When the battle was done Magical Trevor had simply ran out of the hall and bounded off.
Tikva's breath puffs out of her on a voiceless laugh. "Get on with life," she murmurs. As people begin to filter out, she sinks down into a perched seat at the edge of the stage, letting her boots swing free for a moment. "I'm just-- I'm just going to take a moment," she says. "I'm a bit... spent." Though there's still some alaricite in her pockets. "I know it's not over yet. I know this wasn't the true finale. But--." She falls quiet, rubbing at her forehead with the drag of her palm across it. The trouble with stopping is that you start to realize how far you've already gone.
Apollo studies Fortunato, there, for a moment. "Do you need company?" he wonders. "Someone that doesn't call anyone else to mind?" Look. He probably had some kinda ideas about how he was gonna spend his time, but he's not gonna let Fortunato just... float away.
"As do you, my friend." Lianne's smile is so steady thing as they move, sidestepping the unpleasant debris scattered about the theatre in the wake of the many maws' retreat. "Should we continue to exist, whether he means to allow it or not, and if the gallery still stands, or even if it does not, we'll fill it, fill whatever space we can find with grief, with ache and loss. Let everyone know that they are not alone in their hurt, in their desolation." She draws a breath as if she might go on, but she doesn't. She just smiles a warm, somber smile at Onyx and promises, "I'll see you down there. Whatever comes, we'll witness it together."
"Not my choice of words..." Duarte murmurs back at Mirari.
The red headed man with the red goatee that had come with Duarte taps him on the shoulder. "Are you done mating? You promised to show me the managerie." Duarte sighs and nods, then gestures the other man to follow him out.
Aleksei peers over at Fortunato when he receives such a...large...package. "/Who/ is sending you stuff?" he wonders, baffled. He drags an arm across his brow, looking about at the state of the stage. He might long a while longer at Lianne and Onyx dancing, because -- seriously, how often are you gonna see that. "You know, you were really polite to me that day," he says to Onyx, a spontaneous little few words. "And my father." A beat. "I was fucking terrified. But I appreciated that. You treated fairly." And then he wipes his blade off and sheathed it.
The dance draws to a close, and if Lianne's reflected smile is less steady than the one she wears, it still shows in the mirrormask. He bows over her hand in a pantomime of a kiss, then straightens. "Rooms are never truly empty. They are filled with absences and sorrows, regrets and woe. But if you were to pass and Azazel spared me, your absence would fill the world." Onyx then turns to Aleksei, nodding to him politely in acknowledgement. "I made a vow once, to be kind. To show that it was possible. A choice that could be made. Our writs may be broken, but our vows are not. Even if no one else remembers." He turns back to Lianne, another half-bow, "I will take my leave now, apprentice. I will be with you at the end." And the wraith begins to fade from view.
"I appreciate it, but it's really all right." Fortunato says to Apollo as he lowers his hands, clasping them both around the package. "Not gonna pretend that I'm not full of grief, for now, for then, that my mind isn't racing with connections and dread. But I think being in the last place, having nowhere else to rush to -- that will do for me." To Aleksei he asides, "Sapphire did some heroic looting. I'm just not going to question it." A beat. And, "The voice of Onyx is always kind." He nods after the wraith. "See you soon."
Apollo's eyes travel from Fortunato to Onyx, to Aleksei, back to Onyx, and then toward the doors. Oh, Onyx /is/ a Debbie Downer. Maybe he doesn't have any dancing left in him, tonight. He gives Samira one more squeeze, then an apologetic look. "I think it's time to go home." With a glance to Malachite, who is /extremely disappointed/ in every single one of those skins, he says: "Soon." And nods. But not now. Going home, this time empty-handed.
Fitting, really, that Lianne finds herself so remarkably steady so very near the end of everything. All there's left to do is what they're doing. With a soft smile of profound depth, she looks to her friends and loved ones still lingering here and promises, "We'll be there. I think I'd rather like to hold my children a moment more before we follow, mm?" And, with that, she moves to take Apollo's hand, ready for home. Ready, too, for what's to come.
Neviah finds it, eventually. The poetry book flung far by a twirl. Neviah leaves, her steps slowed by reading the words she started but did not finish tonight.
Samira's gaze settles upon Tikva, the artist's features twisting into a conflicted look that suggests she wants to have something helpful to offer but is unsure quite what to say. Words have never been her strength. "We're farther than we were before. That's something," she finally murmurs. Her attention shifts to Fortunato and yet again seems to find herself at a loss for words. What to say in times such as these? But the words she does find are earnest, offered in truth. "Whatever happens, I'm glad to have crossed paths with you. All of you." To Apollo and Lianne, she offers a nod of understanding. Moments to cherish, then time to face what comes.
Nomius, a deeply skeptical bloodhound, Siri, an attentive apprentice, Paris, a charming mercenary, Tagalong leave, following Apollo.
Aleksei looks thoughtful in the wake of Onyx's disappearance, but there's only that moment left before he's looking back at the others with a faint smile. "I guess it's time," he says quietly. And then he heads out.
Fortunato bows slightly to Samira. "I am glad, too." And one last time, general, "See you soon." Carrying his package, he departs.
Tikva tips her hand up by her head in salute, her smile rueful. "Good luck with what's to come," she says. "For us all, I hope."
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