When Worlds Fall

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Date Night

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151 Re: Date Night on Sat Jan 21, 2017 11:31 pm

"Sounds about like a cult," I nod with a laugh, glancing at Marnin in amusement as we wander in the direction of his phantom smell. 

"So, what do you think it is you're smelling?" I ask, "I'm kind of starving, so I'm dying to know what's at the end of this little journey."

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152 Re: Date Night on Sat Jan 21, 2017 11:33 pm

"I don't know, honestly," I admit with a laugh. "I smell something crustacean-y, but spicy? And maybe corn and potatoes. That sounds like I'm making it up, doesn't it?"

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153 Re: Date Night on Sat Jan 21, 2017 11:33 pm

"Maybe," I laugh, "But delicious either way."

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154 Re: Date Night on Sun Jan 22, 2017 12:10 am

"I'm excited, either way," I laugh as I squeeze her arm. "I finally get to treat you to dinner - and I'm pretty sure I hear live music there, too! I love live musicians. You get to hear their fingers on the guitar, listen to them hold their breath when the music moves them. It's just so much more alive."

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155 Re: Date Night on Sun Jan 22, 2017 12:14 am

"I'd love to experience the world the way you do," I say fondly as he squeezes my arm, my head resting against his shoulder as we stroll contently. I hardly notice the group of men loitering just ahead near the mouth of an alleyway, my attention solely on the promise of food and music bustling a few blocks further.

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156 Re: Date Night on Mon Jan 23, 2017 12:32 am

"I don't see why you couldn't," I comment lightly, completely oblivious to the eyes that follow us as we turn down a wide alley, following the smell of the food and the distant cacophony of sounds that become clearer and clearer with each step we take toward the restaurant. "All you have to do is listen. Just - I don't know, pick your favorite song! Something really emotional, and just lie there in the dark for a bit and really listen.

"You'll be able to hear the sharp little inhales, fingers catching on the strings - or the intent behind the keys of the piano - anguish presses so much harder than something soft like longing. Sometimes you can even hear the knot in their throat straining on their voice, the crack in their voice when their chest tightens and squeezes the air from their lungs." I can't help the wistful grin as I shake my head and shrug sheepishly. "I don't know, maybe it's just me... I just really like listening to those things. Music is so vulnerable, you know? To lay bare all those little hurts that make you human, and to be able to elicit it in others, make them feel, make them relate.

"I always feel so alone when I feel like that," I admit a little hesitantly. "It's just so isolating, who do you talk to who might understand? Who do you confide in that isn't going to tell you to buck up, it's not so bad, and then just write it off, you know? But when you listen to music like that... I don't know. Someone, somewhere, gets it; I'm not the only one who feels this way. I don't feel so hopeless."

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157 Re: Date Night on Mon Jan 23, 2017 12:53 am

I can only smile as I bring my other hand over to grasp his in both of mine, squeezing tightly as I lift my head to look over at him. 

"There's a lot going on in that head of yours, isn't there?" I ask warmly, laughing quietly.

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158 Re: Date Night on Mon Jan 23, 2017 1:05 am

"You make it sound like I'm some kind of deep thinker," I laugh as I squeeze her hand in return. "Really, I'm just too self-conscious to ask for help when I need it. I know there are pills and potions and all sorts of things to try, but... well, that requires talking about it, doesn't it?"

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159 Re: Date Night on Mon Jan 23, 2017 1:06 am

"Do you think you need all that stuff?" I ask lightly, trying not to bring too much attention to the idea as my grip on his arm lightens as I fall into a more comfortable pace at his side.

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160 Re: Date Night on Mon Jan 23, 2017 1:26 am

"I don't know," I mumble, shrugging half-heartedly as I feel an uncomfortable warmth creeping up my cheeks. The question feels like ice in the pit of my stomach, the cold radiating out through my veins as I feel those mental gates slamming shut around the subject.

"It's just a thought," I say dismissively - we don't talk about that. Silence falls for a moment as I let out a soft sigh, the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end as my footsteps slow and an odd echo bounces back from the alley walls. I'd swear it was almost as though there was a delay before the sound of our footsteps reflected the slowing of our pace.

"Lju," I whisper, my hand tightening on her arm in some small warning not to move too quickly. "Are we being followed..?"

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161 Re: Date Night on Mon Jan 23, 2017 1:29 am

The question chills me to my core as my pace nearly halts, my posture stiffening as I try to listen without turning my head. I don't hear anything but my own unsteady breathing as I force myself not to stop entirely. 

"I don't know," I respond as softly as the vox will allow, holding a bit tighter to Marnin's side.

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162 Re: Date Night on Mon Jan 23, 2017 1:42 am

My grip tightens on my cane as we walk a little faster, the smell of a dumpster guiding me forward. Squeezing Ljuba's arm to warn her to my intentions, I wait until we're within range of the large can before subtly thwacking my cane against it - too sharply to be casual, but to the unsuspecting onlooker, it could be misinterpreted as clumsiness. The loud clatter of the mostly empty can, however, paints a the picture I need of the alley around us - and sure enough, three large men are tailing us.

"Go," I whisper a little more urgently as I break into a short jog. When our shadows do the same, their speed picking up as they realize we're onto them, I feel my heart leap into my chest as we hurry faster. It's only two or three more blocks to the main road, if we can just make it there... but the men behind us are gaining distance.

"Run!" I say loudly, shoving Ljuba away from me as I snap my cane, the quick motion folding it neatly into an improvised club. "I'll be fine, just get help!"

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163 Re: Date Night on Mon Jan 23, 2017 1:56 am

My heart races once Marnin has shoved me forward, and for a split second I want to stay with him, to face whoever is following us, but my feet do something else as they carry me quickly in the other direction. Skirt gathered in my fists, I run as quickly as I can down the damp and dark alley, the beams of lights from the cross streets my only guiding light with my limited vision. 

The world is a blur as I hear what can only sound like objects hitting one another, the sound so disheartening I nearly stumble as I twist back to try and see as I near the first cross road. I never see the first body loom out before me, but my stomach lurches as their shadows block the light. Before I can skid to a stop, something connects with my chest, knocking the breath out of me as I land abruptly on the asphalt behind me.

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164 Re: Date Night on Mon Jan 23, 2017 2:24 am

It's only moments before I realize that my claim of being fine may have been spoken too soon. Every blow I land shoots pain through my bruised and broken hands, and my blood pressure makes my head swim as I try to focus on the men before me. It strikes me as odd when they don't try to hit me back, instead circling around me, cutting me off from any exit behind them as they continue to advance forward - pushing me further down the alley, herding me.

My heart skips at the realization as I whip around toward where Ljuba had run. Toward the wall of burly men blocking our only escape. I can hear Ljuba hit the ground, the sound of feet connecting with her slight frame.

"Ljuba!" I shout, about to run in her direction when I'm shoved roughly from behind, my cane tangling in my feet and tripping me up as I bite the pavement - my brow cracking sharply on the very solid ground. "Get off!" I scream, dazed, as I feel hands rifling over my body as I swing my arms wildly to fend them off. A moment of panic surges through me for the split second that I'm unsure of their intentions before I feel them yanking things from my pockets, and my concern evaporates - take the fucking wallet, I don't care. "Ljuba!"

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165 Re: Date Night on Mon Jan 23, 2017 2:36 am

I can barely make a sound beyond pained grunts as the men over me kick me with every attempt to get up, and I fall to my side with a retching sound as I finally give up. My ears ring from the pain, but the sounds of Marnin's screaming pulls me back to reality before the feeling of hands on me brings my own screams forward. 

It's as unintelligible as it is loud, and it must disjoint them as I hear them barking orders before another kick connects with my side. I'm better prepared this time, my hand catching the fabric of their slacks with enough force to get a connection as I feel the burning rush of my magic engulf us both.

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166 Re: Date Night on Mon Jan 23, 2017 2:49 am

I can feel the heat from her magic, even at this distance it's uncomfortable. But it's a distraction that gives me a chance to twist my body as I sweep the legs out from under one of my attackers, my grip tightening on another's wrist as I use the momentum in my legs to bring one up and around as I jerk his body down and snap my legs around his neck. After that, it's a simple enough using his unbalanced weight to yank him down into the pavement, his face connecting with the ground where my own blood has pooled from the gash on my forehead.

I don't know if the dead weight of his body is from a loss of consciousness from hitting the pavement, or from the much more ominous snapping I had felt with my calves around his neck, but the momentum and lack of struggling makes it much easier to use that forward motion to roll upright as he lands and I come to a squat over him. My third "friend" is faster to recover than the other two, and even prepared for it, his boot still knocks me back and bursts the air from my lungs as he descends on me.

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167 Re: Date Night on Mon Jan 23, 2017 3:00 am

The intoxicating expulsion of magic is short lived as hands descend on me, jerking me upright and away from the now cowering man as I'm brought face to face with one of the men calling the shots. He's cursing me angrily, but I don't understand a lick of what he's saying as he borders on screaming in my face.

I hate that it happens, but as his hand grips my throat my mind is brought immediately to Lavellan. The way his long fingers would pin me to something, the way he'd loom over me, daring me to get my wits about me. How he'd challenge me to keep my head about me despite being terrified of what could happen, and how impressed he seemed to be when it worked. 

"поразот," I hiss through the dislodged mask barely hanging to my face, my teeth gritting around the word. The pulse of energy that emanates from me knocks the men standing directly around me onto their backsides, and my chest puffs a bit proudly despite it's disheveled breathing.

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168 Re: Date Night on Mon Jan 23, 2017 3:15 am

As my own attacker descends on me, rather than brace myself or move, I fall back and throw my feet up. His momentum slams his gut and chest into my feet, throwing him over me as I grab onto his shirt front and use his momentum the same way I had his friend's so that his weight pulls me upright, and I'm immediately on my feet and perched on his chest as he hits the ground hard.

I don't wait for him to get his breath back as I twist around back toward Ljuba and use him as a spring board to sprint toward Ljuba. The men around her are still dazed and struggling back upright; the one nearest me barely has his feet back under him when I jump, throwing my own feet out to slam into his chest. It's the first attack that unfolds as intended for me in years as I land perfectly back on my feet before the man has slammed into the wall behind him with stunning force. And the one next to him isn't any luckier as he stares between Ljuba and I, wide-eyed and shocked, until I spin quickly, my boot connecting firmly with his jaw.

I'd feel cocky if the man I'd left behind me didn't suddenly have his arms around me, his weight taking me down to the ground with him as he lands on top of me and tightens his grip, clearly trying to squeeze the breath out of me.

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169 Re: Date Night on Mon Jan 23, 2017 3:22 am

"No!" I scream as Marn is taken down in front of me, my hands pulling at his jacket immediately, "Get off him, no!"

With what little magic I had in my arsenal already used up and exposed, it doesn't take them long to figure out I can't do much more than scream and beg this close to Marnin. I couldn't risk him getting caught in anything. My hands are just finding the man's throat when arms wrap around me, too, and jerk me back and away from them as I scream as violently as I can before a fist connected with the side of my skull, silencing me instantly as I'm tossed unceremoniously back against a wall. The alley wavers before me as I struggle to keep upright, the most peculiar smell washing over me before my eye lolls back and my body seizes.

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170 Re: Date Night on Mon Jan 23, 2017 3:41 am

"Ljuba!" I scream breathlessly, the sound of her seizure barely registering as I continue to struggle in the crushing grip of my captor. My throat becomes hoarse with screaming - the sound quickly wavering into silence as I wheeze on my attempts to inhale.

"Kill the witch," one of the men barks as I feel his boot kicking at the vice-like arms around my chest, my head beginning to lull with the lack of oxygen. "Let this one watch - or whatever the fuck sorcery he does to see - then kill him, too."

"No!" I manage to force out as a ragged breath is allowed back into my lungs as I'm dragged upright, my arms still pinned to my sides. My insult comes more from their threat to kill Ljuba than it does from my own impending death, the raspy sob that shakes out of me growing fearful as I hear them descend on her - still seizing and unable to fight back. "You fucking cowards! Beating a defenseless woman while she seizes?!?! Let me go! Face me like men!"

"We've nothing to prove to you," the voice I've singled out as the leader responds dismissively, unimpressed by my continued fighting against the iron bands of muscle wrapped tightly around my chest. "You're nothing more than a witch's pet." My screams are broken, failing into weak sobs as he turns away from me and nods toward his men who carry on beating Ljuba relentlessly. "Take her hands, too. For the bounty."

Before I can scream at them further, a crack of gunfire splits the air and I hit the ground in an unceremonious heap. There's a flurry of cursing and ducking as the men scatter, the echo of their footfalls echoing wildly on the alley walls. Scrambling forward, I barely spare so much as a glance toward the source of the gunfire, my only thought on reaching Ljuba's bloodied form sprawled on the pavement.

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