Logs:Dust and Shadows
Dust and Shadows
|Characters:||Muse and Seth|
|Summary:||A glimpse into the past almost goes disastrously wrong|
OST: Dark Instrumental
The complex of buildings that the Band of Savages refers to as 'Swamp House' is unexpectedly a large amount of civilization dropped among the cypress trees and calm waters of the swamps outside of New Orleans. The waning moon in the night sky above is partially concealed by high, drifting clouds, and the air is balmy and still smells of rain. The swamp manages to mitigate most of the wind that comes in from off of the Gulf, but the occasional breeze rustles the treetops and makes it to a small balcony on the third story of Swamp House's central mansion structure.
Some madman has tied a hammock between two of the French-styled support pillars in the center of the balcony, and it sways gently as the wind passes over it. From the opened glass door at the far side of the balcony, warm amber light and the faint noises of some movie or TV show bounce onto the balcony, but their immediacy is muted by the call of cicadas and the hush of the Bayou.
Seth is laying in the hammock tonight, staring upwards and watching the passing clouds. He's bare-foot, wearing dark jean shorts and a dark red tanktop, his fingers knit behind his head. His hair isn't kept and is instead an unruly mess between his fingers. He might have drifted off to sleep, or he's just immersed in his thoughts, it's difficult to say. It's a rare moment of peace, over the chaos of the last few weeks for the coterie.
The tv, just barely audible through the door, throws it's moving illumination across the interior of a room that's otherwise entirely dark. And even so, draped along the cushions of the couch, one arm dangling lifelessly over the side, Muse watches the screen through her sunglasses. Or she had been. They now sit slightly askew in their precarious perch upon her dainty nose, her cheek pressed into the plush fabric of the couch's arm. It's rare that she would feel secure enough to sleep in such an 'open' space. Nigh unheard of, in fact. Perhaps it's the comforting presence of Seth's own Beast, palpable despite his not being in her direct line of sight, that has lulled her into this sense of security.. because she is, most definitely, asleep; lips parted just a fraction despite the need for breath. Perfectly still. Sweet oblivion.
A pity that peace, for her, is such a dangerous thing.
Finding itself unfettered, the Mekhet's predatory subconscious drifts through suddenly incorporeal bars and out into the world, a sensation of being carried aimlessly upon that balmy night air. And yet that's not entirely accurate. Muse reaches out, unbidden at first, to brush the periphery of Seth's drowsing thoughts; stirring a caress upon the surface of whatever dreams occupy his mind, what instincts and urges might arise when he lacks the control to keep them hidden. It's a gentle appraisal at first, a passing critique of a work of art. Then awareness floods the Alucinor's tranquil state, dropping her with that faintly unsettling hollow sensation in the pit of her stomach, into the subconscious of the other presence nearby. She didn't mean to.. she considers her coterie-mates off limits when it comes to such intimately invasive ventures through the layers of psyche. But.. well, now that she's here..
Steadying herself takes a moment or two. Even in Seth's mind's eye she's initially little more than an ethereal swirl. But gradually, the eddies and energy will coalesce enough for the brunette to shimmer into recognisable form. Under other circumstances, she might take on some innocuous guise, go overlooked while she examined the inner workings of an enemy. A black cat with green gold eyes, perhaps. But not here. Not with him. She hasn't the right.
So.. what does a man like Seth dream about?
A younger and very alive Seth is panting, back against an old sandstone pillar and dressed in a tattered tan military uniform. He racks the slide of the bolt action rifle with bayonet that he is holding with shaking hands: distantly, something explodes. Gunfire pops afterwards like celebratory fireworks. The Great War, they called this. World War 1. A strong wind carries desert sand with it, and Seth raises the rifle up, pulling the trigger to fire at a hazy silhouette, before rushing forwards into a wave of engulfing, burning sand...
...and ends up elsewhere. Still a desert, still Egypt, but this time the night sky is wide and fathomless overhead with a full, bright moon. A massive river that must be the Nile winds through a landscape as smooth as dark glass, with only the cluster of hills that Seth is sitting upon breaking up the monotony of the flatlands. Around the dreamer is a small village, blockish adobe structures with thatched roofs, long since abandoned. Seth is no longer in the military uniform, instead in some dark desert robes. At this point, he begins to become aware that he is not alone in the dream... a fleeting thought, perhaps, driven by the whispers of his attentive Beast. "Ma cherie?" He calls into the evening breeze, looking around among the abandoned houses and getting up to his feet. He had been watching the river go by, silent and serpentine, under the hot white glow of the Moon.
He drifts among houses, eventually coming to an ancient Egyptian temple that has partly sunk into the hillside. Dusty sandstone steps descend into the ground and into darkness near one side of the structure, and he begins walking down them without a torch.
Eventually, he arrives in a wide, high-ceilinged antechamber whose walls are covered in ancient symbols and hieroglyphs, faded into the dusty stone. But Seth is not interested in those: instead, he walks towards a small sitting area by a bubbling spring, intimately lit only with a single hooded lantern. After he sits down on a couch scrounged up from... somewhere in a British style, Seth looks around the sitting area and smiles briefly. "You can come out, museling. I'm not upset that you're here."
Dreams are fascinating creatures all their own. The way the mind shifts on mere whim, ferrying one between times and places, real and imagined.. and yet with no real control on the part of the dreamer, despite these things all belonging to them, in some way. Muse's presence changes that sensation, that feeling of not really being present.. and that's frankly perhaps a little unsettling. The safety in dreams is, of course, the recollection that one can simply wake up, and the images will fade. That one's 'dream form', if you like, cannot be harmed, cannot be touched. But Seth would discover, even as he sinks down on that comically misplaced couch in the temple, that things are.. tangible. He can truly feel the fabric of the furnishing. The grit of sand upon aged stone. The lonely buffeting of the desert breeze through the doorway and the warmth of that single lantern. He doesn't merely remember or conjure.. he's here. And that disjointed presence is anchoring him in place, for the moment.
Muse doesn't belong, anymore than that choice of seating. And, as she emerges from the shadows of the temple at his behest, it's not only the darkness that must adjust to focus her presence, but the dreamscape itself. "I had no intention of hiding." Indeed, she strolls gracefully into the aura of illumination surrounding her coterie-mate, regal and unabashed.
In the 'real world', the little Savage is undeniably striking. But she remains content in being easily overlooked, unobtrusive, as one expects of an elder Shadow. She's pretty.. but innocuous. Here? There's a confidence and power that emanates from the brunette, a seductive and barely leashed predator no longer bound by the constraints of reality. This is her domain and that's.. just the way it is. 'Attired' in a swathe of gauzy fabrics that serve well enough as the semblance of a gown, though it may well be woven from the same shadows she emerges from, she approaches the couch unhurriedly, slender legs and bare feet, poised on dancer's tiptoes, perfectly visible with every stride. She eases down to a seat on the far end, curling her legs beneath herself and folding her hands primly, deliberately passive, in her lap.
The intensity of her gaze moves then, mercifully, from the Mekhet to roam over their surroundings. Muse herself has, obviously, never seen Egypt. Likely never been inside a temple. This is a delightful mystery. "..where are we, Seth..?" Her voice is vaguely distorted, somehow plucking at the strings of every sense.. though it's not unpleasant, once he can get used to it.
"I grew up in Egypt, son of a soldier," Seth narrates quietly with a fleeting smile as he watches Muse emerge from the darkness and move to seat herself. "I died a few years after the Great War ended. My creator... my master, was looking for soldiers to fight in his much longer war in the shadows." His green eyes somewhat melancholy as he abruptly finds himself 'in' this temple again, not merely imagining it, Seth's voice has a note of nostalgia that gradually waxes towards a peak as he speaks.
"This was the place that I died," Seth recollects, more softly. His right hand raises, fingers idly flicking towards a distant sandstone altar, stained with dark streaks. Probably blood. "There," he points with two fingers, which then fall back to the arm rest of the couch.
"Mmm. This memory, this dream..." He settles against the back of the couch, his habit of looping an arm over the back of his seating still present. His left arm, which has none of its waking tattoos, strangely enough, loops over the back of the furnishing as he reclines. "It would be afterwards. For the rest of my bloodline, this place was only a rest point, a way station, a place to be passing through."
Shaking his head, the curly-haired man offers up a smile briefly as he looks aside towards Muse. "But ah, mon reve, I died here. How could I leave so easily? So when they finally left to on their hunt, their long and doomed hunt that would claim their lives..." Seth laughs shortly, "I stayed here, for a time. Not entirely here, of course, I spent most of my nights in Cairo, but sometimes I would take a barge down the river, to this empty place, and sleep here. And think. And train."
He looks up at the ceiling, and it's obvious from just how textured the sandstone bricks are that Seth spent many nights counting them, knowing their exact appearances. "They never came back, my sire and brothers and sister. And as the years turned into decades, I stopped waiting for them. But I stayed here. This place used to be a temple, I think, to something ancient, something that lives within the old and dusty darkness of previous millenia. But I never cared for that. This place was home, to me, in a way that my old mortal home couldn't be any longer."
Muse's elfin features come more sharply into focus with proximity, though the lengths of her shadow gown continue to drift and flow about her as though stirred by some imperceptible force. She's listening attentively, sorrowful empathy assailing her expression as her companion explains the 'choice' of dreamscape. She offers no sympathy or apology aloud, of course.. she merely follows his gesture toward that distant altar, her eyes darkening for a fleeting moment, pupils dilating at the sight of those ensanguined reminders of his Embrace. One might suggest, given the evident elongation of her formidably long fangs, that it'd be best not to linger overlong on that aspect of his retelling...
Returning her gaze to the man opposite, the brunette tilts her head in that curious mannerism she has. He still holds her attention, undeniably. But those heavy-lidded eyes note something being amiss, wandering to the unadorned skin of his arm. Her 'voice', when the inevitable question comes, doesn't pass her lips at all. It resounds softly inside his head, in keeping with the flit of her eyes to meet his; as if the message were conveyed by thought alone. "Your tattoos.." A hand rises, extended toward him as though to trace the lack of ink.. but she doesn't touch him. Her fingertips hover just a fraction shy of contact, unhurriedly sweeping his forearm, up to the elbow, then drifting back, following the contour of his wrist and knuckles before they're withdrawn.
"You were all alone." This much is not intended as a question at all, uttered in that same manner. Muse's eyes have lowered, trailing the motion of her hand, and they remain downcast now. Loneliness is hardly unusual for their kind. But clearly the notion of her coterie-mate having lingered so long in isolation rouses at least a flicker of something within this aloof creature.. and that draws her still further into 'existence'.
The mention of something old - something ancient - residing in this place of forgotten worship, distracts the brunette, though it likely won't last long. Her attention once more takes to wandering the stones and pillars of the temple, as if there might be some clue upon a cursory glance. Surely, given the decades spent here, Seth himself would already be aware of such things. But.. well, curiosity is in her nature. There's no help for it. "I don't remember my home.." The words are little more than a whisper in his mind.. it's possible he might mistake them for his imagination.
When Muse points out the state of his arm, Seth tilts his head and looks down with a brief flicker of surprise at the bare skin. As he focuses upon it, ink pours like small fountains from a few central points on his arm, spreading out over the bare skin... and then his familiar sleeve tattoos are there again. A faint, sardonic smile passes Seth's face. "Ah, yes... given to me before they left. A mark of our bloodline, of this place. I know I have them, rationally, you know. But most nights I forget that they're there. I guess I don't see myself as having them, underneath. They're just an outfit I collected along the way."
Seth lightly moves his arm upwards towards Muse's hovering touch, perhaps in part to confirm that they are here in this moment, that they are real. It doesn't linger, overlong, and he withdraws back to the hover-safe distance a moment after. "You don't need to remember your home, Muse. All you need to do is wake up, and there we are." Seth tilts his head as he regards the seated creature of fantasies and shadow sitting on the couch with him, a half-smile hanging from one side of his mouth as he considers.
"I'm here, yes, but I don't... relish it, mm? It's just a vast empty place, and I spent so much time here that I became it, with the dust and the shadows. Mmm, what did Horace say? Pulvis et umbra sumus." Seth pauses, before translating slowly, "We are made of dust and shadows."
He laughs again, the sound muffled in the hush of the heavy atmosphere underground. "I used to get poetry from the merchants in Cairo, sometimes, and bring it here. I never had to worry about being followed, about some murderer or bastard sneaking up on me when I was in this place. The solitude was armor as much as prison. I came to enjoy it. If you have no one else to rely upon..." he sweeps his left hand, palm up and fingers splayed, to encompass the room. "Then you have no choice to rely upon yourself."
Muse's examination of the dusty stone carvings yields a great deal of information. There is recurring images of a large creature made of shadows, vaguely canine, and many people in an Egyptian style prostrate to it, or feeding it, or otherwise tending it. The canine creature devours the sun, in one of the murals whose paint is fading with the passing of long centuries. In other places, there are... instructions? Different types of supernatural creatures are detailed in images and hieroglyphs. From what Muse would know of Seth's past, it's not difficult to deduce that the goal of these instructions is to hunt and slay the detailed creatures. The shadows on the wall seem to shift, in the gently flickering light of the hooded lantern that illuminates the temple.
"This place is just the past," Seth murmurs, reaching a hand up slowly to tuck one of Muse's shadowy locks of brown hair behind her ear with a fond gesture as he meets her eyes for a moment with his own. "Perhaps memories seem valuable to you, as you don't have them. I won't say they aren't valuable. But I will say that this place is gone. I only carry it with me, like last year's wardrobe, and I put it on when I feel the need for solitude, for protection. You still have the future, ma cherie, and that will become the past quickly enough if you let it. Don't forget to savor it on the way."
The brunette doesn't recoil from his fleeting touch. Here, as in the real world, he's one of the few permitted.. to the point that her acceptance of such is unthinking. She trusts him. God knows why. He's more dangerous than she, far more used to the violence of the modern nights. But.. perhaps that's of less import here. Regardless, the offered reassurance of 'home' is met with a slow-burning smile, Muse's gold-flecked eyes rising to hold the gaze of the Mekhet opposite. There's a thrum of pressure within the chamber, a surge of something powerful in the atmosphere, just for a second or two; clearly some reflexive response on her part that she swiftly quells. Exactly how far can she manipulate things, in this place? That's.. probably best left unanswered, honestly. "Is that my home? Or is it merely where you found me..?" She forms the words fully this time, speaking more clearly than before as she searches her companion's expression. "Waking up is not always so easy.." she continues, that sweet voice softening again into idle contemplation. Beyond her, visible to Seth for a mere flicker of impression, a silhouette is momentarily visible atop 'his' altar; clad in tattered white, dark tresses spread about her across the dusty stone.. a stake protruding obscenely from her slender ribcage. Muse doesn't so much as glance that way, perhaps unaware of the bleeding of recollection into this surreal little world of two. "What did I become..?" she counters, in the wake of his translation; a fleeting glimpse of the genuine ingenue in those big dark eyes.
There's a fractional shift. To anyone but him it may have proven imperceptible. But the formidable Alucinor wrests control back in a mere instant from this futile and dangerous introspection; slamming the illusory door on her own weakness. When she is this, in the shadows and dust of dreams and nightmares, one can perhaps begin to understand... she is more real here than in the waking world. More alert. More powerful. Aware and formidable and perfectly in control. A stark contrast to the persona, the disguise she dons on the so-called mortal plane.. but they remain one and the same, do they not?
Returning her thoughts to the ponderings of the man seated with her on the comfortable couch, Muse permits the ghost of a frown to darken her brow. "And now? Do you still rely solely upon yourself..?" It's a reasonable assumption. He doesn't need the coterie, really.. does he? She lingers where she is long enough to hold his gaze, to allow the affectionate righting of her wayward tresses, remaining perfectly still save a fractional lean of her cool cheek to his palm.. and then she's over by that far wall, exploring those carvings, tracing them, with wandering fingertips as well as her ravenous gaze.
Omens. They are of great importance to creatures like her, as is the divination of their meanings. Dreams are vague, filled with riddles and often devoid of logic.. that's precisely why she knows better than to dismiss details others may deem inconsequential. The shifting movement of the shadows flow and dance around her, as though welcoming her into the vicinity eagerly, reaching out to tug and toy at the lengths of her ethereal gown.
As Muse goes to inspect the murals, the creatures dance in their painted skins beneath her touch, briefly coming alive. Flashes of memories are buried within them as well, smoldering cinders somewhere within Seth's mind. First is a winged owl made of shadows, whose burning purple eyes shift the face of the world around them. A busy bazaar, a night market, silk sheets and burning incense. Spices and jangling jewelry. Distant music from the hot gold lights of a tavern in the distance.
Seth is still sitting on that British couch and turns his head around himself to watch, with some surprised bemusement, as the world whirls and morphs under Muse's touch. Still, beneath her fingers, is that piece of illustrated sandstone wall. But the rest of the memory continues to play out.
The projected memory is in the first person, as one of Seth's tattoos forearms reaches up to brush away a curtain of strung-together seashells as he enters a building. The abrupt smell of blood is strong on the nostrils, and the distant music fades into a hostile silence as he walks into a pawnshop full of knick-knacks and clutter. That same arm reaches out to grab a knife from the shelf, testing the edge against one of his fingernails casually as he walks through the room. A door, locked and opened with a violent kick. The smells of blood and incense both get stronger. First-Person Seth cuts the knife against his left palm, slathering it with his blood... but his blood is an inky black substance, entirely devoid of its usual red. He mutters something in another tongue, the old and dead notes of ancient Egyptian, but the memory interprets it automatically. "Where are you..."
The kitchen of the pawnshop. A young street urchin with messy black hair is flipping through a heavy book that rests on a central table here, leaving handprints of blood on the pages. His eyes, sunken with hunger, glow purple.
The perspective shifts. Seth is standing next to the creature in a flash of movement. The blade, driven into the boy's forehead. Something inside of the boy shrieks, shrill and skull-piercing. A rush of wings as something made of shadows flees out from the urchin's body. Then Seth is striking that as well, with the dagger.
The feathered shadow silhouette shrieks again as the dagger slices through it, split into two halves that are set afire with purple flame and burn up into a beautiful firework of nothingness over the course of perhaps thirty seconds.
And then they are back in the underground temple, sandstone and shadows. "Strix," Seth murmurs quietly by way of explanation to Muse at the memory. He gets up from the couch slowly, walking with languid steps to her side. "It is your home because that is where we are. We have chosen to make it our homes, haven't we? Even if it wasn't... before. Even if it was just your prison, we're there now." A faint smile passes the hunter's lips as his dark green eyes regard the familiar illustrations on the sandstone wall, memories of violence. "Mmm, I can rely on myself, but a life of only loneliness and solitude isn't worth living. Sharing it with others, mmm. It makes the nights easier."
There's an intensity of concentration about Muse that's rarely witnessed, her fingertips and palms continuing to weave and explore the surface of the mural, as if she were truly finding intangible threads by touch alone and drawing them into a tapestry, revealing to her the secrets and memories that have been fragmented and forgotten.. perhaps deliberately so. Would that it were so easy with her own. As the images begin to merge in some semblance of order, the absorbed recollections forming a storyline that she can follow, the Mekhet indulges, taking the lack of protest from her companion as permission apparently.
Seeing this world of long ago through his eyes is.. momentarily jarring. Oh, she's done so before.. other vampires, other memories. Some are a balm to her own deviant nature. Others are abhorrent. But, once the current begins to flow through her, there's no stemming it's flow. To the eyes of her companion in the dreamscape, Muse ebbs and fades against the backdrop of the moving images, as if she were standing in the light of projection and yet not quite material enough herself to impede it. He knows what she sees. But the brunette herself is, for a moment, somewhere else entirely; meandering through the channels of his thoughts as his own recollections dictate. He's the tourguide of his own mind.
The impressions of glowing purple eyes, the sweep of horrific wings, the shriek of the Strix as it's dealt with so.. expertly.. Muse's eyes have drifted closed, the better to focus her vision through the haze of Seth's own. But it's only gradually that she withdraws her splayed hands from the ancient sandstone, only over the passage of several would-be heartbeats that she actually materialises fully once more 'in' the temple. By the time her coterie-mate arrives by her side, she's aware once more; turning her gaze up and aside to regard him, expression sombre and unreadable. There's a stirring of.. something. It's too swift for him to properly discern.. perhaps it wasn't there at all. But whatever it was, or may have been.. it brings with it an icy sluicing of dread down the spine, the metallic tang of disquiet at the back of one's throat.
It's not meant for him. But if it were.. if she were the source of it.. that would be a decided concern.
"When was the last time you encountered one..?" The question is far from urgent. But aren't dreams the domain of seemingly pointless discussion, devoid of repercussion? At any moment, such is the insanity of all this, she might ask him for the time, or about the weather, or if he, too, can sense the impression that something lurks, waiting to devour them both from below the false 'earth' they stand upon? "..and why did you choose to free me?"
That is a question she would only venture here. She's never asked him before, in the waking world. Not once. But now she studies Seth in profile, calmly awaiting his response. Regal beauty with naught but time.. and the unshakeable sense that she could rend this peaceful tableau to shreds in an instant, if the notion struck her. It's that sense of gathering silence before the first thunderclap.
<OOC> Seth says, "Breaking Point. Humanity 6, 3 dice, + 2 for having a touchstone." Seth rolls 5 Dice Roll: 3 + 2 Result: Success (2) -- (9 4 2 3 10 5)
"Maybe five years ago?" Seth answers the question about the last time he encountered a Strix, first. "I haven't gone out hunting the way that I used to. I haven't needed to. My blood weakened, after my last stint in torpor, and I lost many of my powers from before. After that... Wealth and comfort have made me slow," the Egyptian Vampire quips with a smirk, the hint of a New Orleans drawl having crept into his mostly neutral accent. When Muse asks of Seth, 'why did you choose to free me,' his dark green eyes drift towards the altar on the far side of the room again, gradually frosting over with a subtle disquiet. Seth grits his teeth and lightly places a hand on Muse's shoulder, murmuring, "Come with me, I want to show you something."
Though Muse could certainly just... flit over to the altar, in the uncanny way that she does, Seth nonetheless makes a point of walking with her, his hand on her shoulder a gentle touch. He speaks as they walk across the carved sandstone flooring of the old Egyptian temple. "I think I've figured out the trick you use, sorting through my memories, but still. I'll need you to help me with this next part." He certainly couldn't do it in others' dreams, of course, but this is hardly the first time that Muse has been inside of his dreams... and his nightmares. He's gotten the hang of it, to an extent. "You want to know why I chose to free you? Mmm." He reaches over to clasp one of Muse's hands lightly, before placing both of their hands on the altar.
The return of a first-person view is much more abrupt this time for both of them. The room is black as pitch, almost suffocating, alive. It seems to creep down First-Person Seth's throat like a fluid, like he was drowning under a lake of shadows. It crushes his lungs, chokes his breath in his throat. His muscles flex helplessly as they try to pull in a gasp of air that isn't there. His arm reaches up into it, more of a sensation than a sight: black on black.
Some kind of chanting begins, sound leaking through the oppressive sea of dark, words in an ancient language. Egyptian, but this time Seth's memories don't translate them. He hasn't learned the language yet. Something hot and sharp bites into Seth, sending lightning bolts of pain down his outstretched arm. First-Person Seth's mouth arcs into a scream, but no sound escapes the dark, and instead more liquid shadow flows down his throat.
The memory breaks abruptly as Seth staggers back and away from the altar, dead chest heaving with unnecessary breath. He bends over slightly, hands on his knees, as he gasps at the memory. Then he's straightening up a moment later, running both hands through his mess of brown curls.
"My last..." he begins, pausing and taking a breath. "Moments of life." He walks back to the altar, sitting upon it with his feet dangling off it casually and with decades of familiarity. His eyes, however, are very distant and dark as he looks towards Muse. "No one should be left alone to drown in the dark. Well. Unless you fucking hate them." He reaches a hand out towards Muse, but his arm stops half-way and his brows furrow slightly, lips compressing together. "I couldn't leave you like that," he concludes the thought, much more softly than before.
<spend> Seth spends 1 point of his Willpower pool, for holy shit spooky. Muse rolls 4 Dice Roll: 2 + 4 + 1 + 2 - 3 - 2 Result: Success (2) -- (9 6 1 8)
The brunette allows not only the light guidance of that hand, but also the implication it holds in regard to staying beside her companion. The explanation of his awakening, the subsequent lack of formerly held power? This comes as no surprise. It's common enough.. and she herself has the constant, nagging sensation that she once wielded something far more potent than merely wandering the dreams of her fellows. But, attempts to recall such things have proven both futile, exhausting.. and downright painful, at times.
Drifting across the floor, not so much as a whisper of motion in her light footsteps - isn't that always the way in dreams, even ones so tangible as this? - Muse's upper lip curls momentarily in a sardonic manner. "A 'trick', is it? Indeed.." Probably not wise to bait her.. but she correctly surmises that was not his intent. Fortunately. The distance is crossed, thereafter, in silence. There's time only for a vaguely wary glance sidelong as Seth clasps her hand.. and then her palm is pressed down upon the ancient stone of the bloodstained altar.
She doesn't fight against the hold.. not exactly. But there's a sudden spasm of tension through the Mekhet's waifish form as the sensation within the memory overcomes her, unexpectedly. She doesn't merely witness. She feels. All of it. All of the nothingness, and the pain and terror within it. It's not only the memory who opens his mouth to scream.. she does, too. And it's equally wordless. That fathomless dark is everything Muse fears.. and it doesn't depart her so swiftly, even when Seth himself breaks the contact and staggers back.
She remains where she is for a long moment, palm braced and head bowed over the altar. And, at first, it seems as though nothing will change. She's just taking a second. Right?
Wrong. Oh, all kinds of wrong.
It's subtle to begin with, particularly when the svelte Mekhet doesn't move. But there's a ripple of sensation, the sort that raises the hairs at one's nape. Admittedly, in this instance, she is almost literally walking over Seth's grave, isn't she. But the sensation gathers momentum and power; a looming, ominous dread that, frankly, suggests one back off.. back off fast. Flee, even. Because something wicked this way comes. Straightening slowly, Muse raises her head, eyes still closed, even as her companion settles in his perch. what had been seductively eddying swirls of ethereal shadow-fabric about her silhouette now begin to whip and whirl in agitation about her; lent the impression of frenzied tentacles more than an elegant gown, and her fangs elongate reflexively, this time reaching fearsomely below the curve of her plump lower lip.
Those dark-lashed eyes, usually so heavy-lidded and prone to distraction, spring wide, revealing hollowed out sockets, ablaze with glowing red, as her jaw distends far beyond the natural, porcelain skin straining over the delicate bone structure beneath, threatening to tear. But it's that howl that escapes her that's truly stomach-churning; gut-wrenching, soul rending horror and pain and.. undeniable bloodlust.
She doesn't want to hurt him. But she could. She could without meaning to.
The unexpected tumult of emotion, usually overlaid by the protective numbing of amnesia, is simply unbearable. The dream collapses around them both, catapulting Seth back and away from the monstrous, nightmarish vision with dizzying ferocity; his last glimpse that of the howling, screaming entity tearing the very shreads of reality around itself, fighting desperately against the encroaching black.
Is that hammock comfortable? It's certainly less peaceful, thanks to the tangible presence of Muse's Beast inside the house, throwing itself against the bars of it's metaphysical enclosure. The brunette herself is.. in some sort of trance state. Flat on her back on the couch, but staring, wide-eyed, jaw agape.
<OOC> Seth says, "Lash Out! and stuff." Seth rolls 4 Dice Roll: Presence + Blood Potency Result: Success (1) -- (7 10 6 4 6)
<OOC> Muse says, "likewise.." Muse rolls 4 Dice Roll: Presence + Blood Potency Result: Success (2) -- (8 9 1 1)
<OOC> Muse says, "booyah" <OOC> Seth says, "Welp, I've got the Wanton condition now."
"Merde!" The hammock is not comfortable, in fact, as Seth's instinctive reaction bounces him out of it and onto the solid wooden planks of the balcony flooring. He takes a moment to pick himself up slowly, drawing in a shuddering breath of the balmy New Orleans air as he uses an elbow to push himself up. Once he's regained his feet, Seth makes no effort to correct his mess of disorganized brown hair, instead stumbling back into the comfortable third-story sitting room of the mansion. The TV is no longer playing, having switched to an idle screen that bounces with pop-culture images, and the lighting here is dim: only a deep red lamp with a golden shade provides some small illumination in one corner of the room.
Seth's feet are still somewhat unsteady as he staggers over to where Muse is still locked in a trance. "Museling? Muse? Hey?" He begins reaching out a hand towards her... stops, instinctively, with a compress of his lips. Biting down on his teeth, he stands indecisive for a moment, before forcing himself to sit down on the couch next to her and lightly place one hand's palm against her cheek. "Hey, it's time to wake up now," he murmurs towards her, an undertone of desperation to his normally collected words.
An instinctive shiver still runs through him as he recollects the final moments of their shared dream, his Beast screaming and recoiling within his eyes. He clamps down on it, hard, but the moment isn't over yet. He's trying to wake her up first, much more calmly than the expression in his eyes would indicate. Muse isn't the only one with a rampaging Beast, now that things have gotten out of control. He's trying to bring her back before he loses himself entirely to the upcoming confrontation with the bestial force inside of him... with limited success so far.
<spend> Seth spends 1 point of his Willpower pool, for Resisting That Frenzy..
The touch of a cool palm to her cheek at first rouses no response from the Mekhet. She just continues to stare, unseeingly, as her Beast fights to free both itself and her, all at once. Eventually, however, there's a movement. A full-bodied shudder that wracks through her prone form, gently coaxing it back to corporeal awareness. A splitsecond later and there's an instinctive, entirely unnecessary gasp for air, a blink of those big green eyes. She's.. in a room. A room with moving light. Not underground. Not suffocated by the dark, alone and forgotten. Someone else is here. Someone familiar. A vision of green eyes and tousled light brown curls comes to her, even before her gaze shifts, bewildered, to meet that of the Mekhet looming over her. Seth. The name is conjured somewhere in the depths of her mind, and it seems to match. There's the fleeting twitch of a smile at the corner of her lips, recognition dawning.. but then the memory of what she's done.. what she almost did..
Conflicting with her Beast, which while quieting in the presence of a familiar companion is far from pacified, Muse's features are suddenly assailed with horror and abundant regret. "..I'm sorry." The words are hoarse, little above a whisper, even when she tries again, reaching to curl the fingers of one hand in the fabric of the Mekhet's shirt. "I'm so sorry.. I didn't.."
Even before she herself is aware of it, her feline Beast knows how to react to protect its mistress; a surge of powerful manipulation unleashed in response to that of her coterie-mate. It's instinctive, unbidden.. and formidably overpowering. Until now, she's been considered, no doubt, the wide-eyed kitten of the group. It's time she flexed her claws.
Sobering, Muse falls quiet, merely searching her companion's wild-eyed features; slowly reining in her reactions with a practice born of centuries. She doesn't bother with words any longer. She holds his gaze.. and slowly shakes her head. The dual meaning is clear enough. Wordless apology, certainly. But a resolute warning, too, against giving in.
Once Muse opens her eyes, she's greeted with the sight of a disheveled Seth, hair everywhere and partially obscuring his face, looking at her with one freezing green eye and a cold expression that seems at odds with the hand still resting on her cheek. The hand falls away and he gets up from the couch, not so much walking towards the balcony as stuttering - his silhouette bounces from place to place with no in-between motion, until he's standing at the railing and grasping it.
A loud shout, not quite capable of a roar from a human's throat, pierces the mostly still evening on the bayou, swallowed up by the tall trees and the vast emptiness. Seth gives vent to the roiling violence and frustration that are welling up within him. The metal railing bends slightly under his fingers with a high-pitched whine... and then he's under control again.
He's standing out on the balcony, a lonely silhouette cast in the moonlight, for a long minute before he finally turns back towards Muse, stepping around the fallen hammock that he doesn't bother to correct. His voice is much quieter, now, but there's still something feral in his eyes as he looks at Muse assessingly. "Are you alright?"
He leans on the partially opened door out to the balcony with one tattooed elbow, head canting to the side slightly as he regards the brunette seated on the couch. There's not that much distance in the room, but abruptly it seems like they are speaking to each other from very far away... or at least that Seth is somewhere incredibly distant. "It was my mistake, choosing that moment," he affirms quietly, voice flat and hoarse at the same time.
<OOC> Seth says, "Frenzy resist roll. +1 for willpower spend earlier, +2 for Provocation is Coterie-mate (using Provocation is Touchstone as precedent)." Seth rolls 8 Dice Roll: Resolve + Composure + 1 + 2 Result: Success (2) -- (4 2 9 3 4 8 4 6)
That near-roar, when it's hurled into the night sky of the bayou, elicits a jolt of motion from the brunette.. though she doesn't flee. The temptation is there, especially having witnessed that glacial cast to Seth's expression. But she doesn't. She simply sits up, drawing her bare feet around to settle on the cushion and hugging her knees to her chest, making herself as small as possible. The struggle within her coterie-mate, that tenuous hold on self-control, is perfectly apparent to her.. and while she doesn't cower in the face of it, she knows far better than to tempt it further. Strengthening her own hold, gently ushering her resentful Beast back into the confines of the cage of her own resolve, the brunette waits in silence, the flickering light of the scroll on the television screen illuminating her pale skin in stark contrast to the dark of her hair and eyes. While she lacks the ethereal, fierce quality of her mien within dreams, returned now to a more 'earthly' appearance, she still maintains that fae quality that so lends itself to the facade of seraphic innocence. That may well have been what saved her.. or, conversely, endangered her in the first place.
"I'm alright." The confirmation, as Seth's silhouette darkens the doorway to the balcony, is soft-spoken. But when he chooses to take the blame upon himself, the Mekhet shakes her head, frowning ever so slightly. A shift of weight hints at her impulse to approach him, to emphasise the denial of his words.. but common sense and instinct prevent her from doing so. Things remain much too dangerous, for the moment. "I.. appreciate your bein' willing to share such a thing with me.. as well as the explanation I asked for." Well, she did pose the question, that's true. "..I just.. you can't.. put me in the dark that way, Seth. I can't bear it. I can't bear it for my own sake. Combine it with the awareness of you suffering and.. well." All hell breaks loose. "..I'm sorry." She repeats it once more, resting her chin atop her denim-clad knees and, the protest clearing from her expression, eyeing him with the merest suggestion of petulance about her lips, dark-lashed eyes wide in abject apology. He can have his distance. That doesn't change her own guilt over being the reason for that need. "..you should go for a hunt." The suggestion is quiet. But the meaning is clear enough.. as is her despair at having to voice it.
Seth leans on the door in silence, not even breathing, as he listens to Muse's apologetic speech. He's motionless, considering, as he looks over her. And then abruptly he's on the couch next to her, elbow leaned against the back, palm propping up his head as he stares straight at her, maybe a foot between them. "I know you can't," he says softly, some of the frigid winter having lapsed from his eyes as the proximity to frenzy and his Beast fades from him. "That's why it's my fault," he points out, more gently. Some of his emotions have begun to reappear as the all-consuming chill of his Beast slinks back into the shadows. "I wanted you to understand, why we're the same. What we've both gone through."
A self-mocking smile curves on his lips as Seth stands up onto his bare feet, this time without the assistance of Celerity, in a languid gesture. "I can see that I failed." He laughs quietly to himself, though there isn't much humor in it. "Mmm, that's alright," he says, pinching the bridge of his nose. Then he opens up one eye and glances towards Muse, raising an eyebrow. "Do you really want me to go hunt?" He shrugs at this, eyes idly scanning the room for where he discarded his usually carried pistol and other nightly equipment. It's a passing thought, but if he is going hunting..."I could hunt you, museling, instead," some feral edge in Seth's countenance leads him to suggest with a smirk, still gradually lingering in Seth's eyes, as he looks aside to Muse. He walks over to where he'd discarded a pile of dark clothing and the gun, pulling off his red tanktop in a slow gesture and tossing it into some forgotten corner of the room. Then he's putting on a black t-shirt over his leanly athletic muscles. Surprisingly, there's no unexpected tattoos or scars on him: his skin is pale and unmarred, more athletically muscled than the outlines of his usual attire would indicate.