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Monsters & Traitors

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1Monsters & Traitors Empty Monsters & Traitors on Thu Mar 07, 2019 11:14 pm

Dead.

It hadn't taken very long to find Elyse's home after leaking Sylviane for the evening. Her blood had fueled my new companion long enough that I could feel her the closer I got. Standing here now, though, watching the woman's modest home being roped off by the local authorities, I understand why it had even taken me this long.

Elyse is dead. And with Sylviane being with me this entire time, it leaves me with only one conclusion to draw. Someone got to her. Someone careful enough to know the risk they'd made in turning the woman on her friend of two decades, and malicious enough to get rid of the only person who might be able to point their finger at them.

Unfortunately, they hadn't counted on me.

I stand in the shadows of a building the block over as I watch the authorities buzzing around the house. I pull my hood up over my face before pressing my back against the brick behind me and sinking down to the ground behind an empty barrel. Inhaling deeply, I ground myself there, and let my consciousness leave my body and slip down the road.

The energies of the investigators is vibrant and varied in this state, and I'm careful to avoid the ones with a magical signature as I slip past them and into the house in search of the stones' energy. Elyse's body is stripped nearly naked in the hallway, her living room destroyed. Blood and claw marks paint the walls, their ferocity taking me aback as I take in the scene in shock.

If Elyse had managed to fight back, there is no evidence of it here. The investigators are gathering samples of the blood, but in my disembodied state, I can see that not a drop of it belongs to anyone other than Elyse. Whoever did this was vicious, quick, and efficient. Even the destruction in her living room appears less like the result of a struggle, and more like a demonstration of pure violence meant to terrify the woman now lying dead and maimed in the hallway.

A cold fear stabs through me then, snapping me back to my body. The stones aren't there. And whoever did this knows what Sylviane is.

I have to find them.

****

Three days have passed before I've closed in on my prey. The stones Sylviane had given me have made the task much easier than it would have been; partly because of the familiarity of the magic I've been tracking, but also, I think, because there is a natural hunting instinct that comes with Sylviane's unique... condition.

I feel strangely hungry as I close in on the woman. It was a challenge finding her, but I'm grateful when I get close enough to pick up on her individual energy signature - and even more grateful that she isn't in a city. Particularly once I've gotten close enough to realize the difficulty of the fight ahead of me.

She's a colossus. And while I know she must have had a more human disguise in the city, I'm still stunned the first time I catch a glimpse of her. There is nothing human about my prey, and she moves with a speed and agility that's more animal than any other colossus I've met.

Chaos colossus, then. Of fucking course.

I keep a careful distance as I try to work out a way to approach this beast-like creature, every moment that passes imparting more fear and doubt than certainty. Even keeping up with her is proving challenging, her long, spindly legs carrying her farther in one step than I can safely cover without drawing attention to myself.

I don't have a lot of options here. Sighing, I pull out the last two stones I had brought with me before gritting my teeth as I close my fist around them. The surge of energy and magic that rushes into my veins brings a resolve I was sorely lacking, and as the inky mark of magic practically bursts up my arms and beyond my shoulders, I know how this is going to go down.

Once I'm close enough, I leap out from behind the enormous tree trunks I had been using to stay hidden. I can already feel the magic crackling under my skin as I hold out my hands and begin drawing on the life in the trees around me.

"Ulunn!" I shout, sneering at the insult as the creature whips around and lets out an enraged and startled shriek. Grinning, I rip the life out of the trees, the wood becoming brittle and sponge-like as everything around us for a hundred feet begins to crack and groan under its own weight. "You took something, and I'll be taking it back!"

My magic explodes outward with such force that it knocks me back, nearly ripping me apart with it as everything around us is shattered by the force of the blast. I scramble to get my feet back under me, my fingers digging into the earth and already sucking up the energy I'd released as I take in the devastation and try to assess what damage I'd done to the colossus, if any.

Magic crackles across the ground and up through my body as I pull it in, the energy telling me where my opponent is before I can see the glow of her magic and fury closing in on me through the haze of dust and smoke clouding the new clearing. My eyes widen as the gap between us is closed, and a clawed hand the size of my body hits my square in the chest in spite of the energy giving me an early warning.

The pain is awful and I'm breathless, but the surge of power that goes through me when she touches me is enough. The broken bones are already knitting themselves back together before I even hit the ground several yards away, and the colossus screeches in pain - her own blow backfiring as her touch speeds up the leech-like effect of my magic.

Still, this is not a fight that I can survive if it goes on much longer. The stones and the magic of the beast are almost too much for me, and I can feel my skin cracking and bleeding as my flesh struggles to contain it all.

No matter, though. The colossus is enraged, and any sense she may have had seems to be lost as she continues her assault. Knowing what to expect now, I'm quick to disappear the moment she's close enough to strike me, and our battle becomes a long game of cat and mouse as she struggles to pin me down. Every time she gets close, my magic explodes and I'm left gritting my teeth in pain as I gate-step all over the forest to avoid her deadly attacks.

If she were even a little bit slower, the onslaught of magic I'm sucking in from her would surely kill me. But every time I'm forced to step out of the way, just enough magic is burned off to allow me to continue leeching it from her. I just have to survive long enough to sap her dry.

The ring of dead trees becomes the least of the destruction as the minutes eke by, all of the colossus's savagery unleashing on her surroundings every time I'm ripped away from her grasp with another explosion of energy that harms her and burns off more of the critical mass scorching my veins and bleeding through my cracked skin. Her assaults become fewer and farther between as I skirt around her, a dozen or more yards between us at all times as I watch her grow more and more weary.

"What are you doing to me?!" she finally screams as she sways on her feet, her chest heaving for breath. Her presence becomes less and less fearsome as her entire being seems to shrivel away around her.

"What's the matter?" I ask, my lip curling back over my teeth - teeth that I would swear are more fang-like with Sylviane's magic coursing through my veins, the colossus's energy only heightening the subtle mutations that have taken hold of me. "You can't kill me?? But you did such a fine job murdering an unarmed woman!"

"She should have known better than to feed an abomination!" the colossus snarls as she starts meandering toward me.

I grit my teeth at that, my nails digging into my palm furiously as I stand my ground. She's too weak to charge, too weak to win this fight. Still, she's quick, and she nearly takes my face off when she strikes me to the ground. An expression of glee crosses her face, but it quickly twists into one of horror when she realizes the killing blow isn't hers take. Not this time.

The magic burning through me sizzles her flesh as I plunge a clawed, black hand up and under her rib cage. I can't see through the haze of blood clouding my vision, but I don't need to. My hand finds her heart the same way a fox finds its prey buried in snow, with excitement and eagerness for the coming feast, pouncing right where my meal hides - its fluttering, skittering heartbeat drawing me in.

"She's not the only abomination," I hiss into her twisted face. "Unfortunately for you, I'm a lot more monstrous and hungry than she is - and my favorite meal is Colossus."

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2Monsters & Traitors Empty Re: Monsters & Traitors on Fri Mar 08, 2019 12:14 am

Returning home from Aoifa’s cabin in the woods felt surreal, returning to the muck and grime of the city after being in such an idyllic environment. By the time I’ve gotten back to my apartment, I’ve convinced myself to be grateful for his remarks. It was best what I was be kept a secret, and it was silly and naive of me to get swept up in the possibility of a fairytale romance. Romance had always been a weakness of mine, and the handsome stranger turning into something more so soon fit perfectly into that. No, it was best those thoughts were set aside, I told myself. I never could think straight when the mixing of magic, blood and physicality came into play.

But those thoughts fell to the wayside as I fell back into my stunted routine, only to be dealt the blow of learning about my former escort’s fate from the evening news. Sat in my shop, radio going, I nearly dropped the bits of mask in my hand as the newscaster’s monotone voice told of the alleged-prostitute found dead in her home, squarely in Elyse’s neighborhood. My heart nearly leapt when the voice alluded to a violent and unhinged perpetrator, the presence of ‘vampiric markings’ leaving authorities concerned.

The days following the broadcast passed in a daze. I hadn’t seen or heard from Aoifa since his cabin, a realization that ate at me with each passing minute. It took whatever energy I had to make it into the shop every day to work, though progress was slow and the front stayed closed. I couldn’t shake the paranoia that an investigation would lead to me. Why wouldn’t it? Unless it wasn’t Elyse, of course, but that wasn’t even a thought I humored anymore. I doubt there’s an abundance of prostitutes mixing it up with vampires in the city. It was only a matter of time, and what moments weren’t spend scared were spent figuring out how to get my affairs in order. Sixty years was a reasonable amount of time for one place, after all.

On top of it all, it seems that Aoifa’s quickened metabolism had infected me. I could usually go a week or more between feeds, but it’d only been three days and a gnawing hunger plagued my every thought. This morning had been so bad, I hadn’t even bothered trying to make it into the shop. Instead, today was being spent in the safety of my bed. Blankets pulled up past my shoulders, the only sound was the din of the building’s other tenants moving about outside and the soft crackle of my fireplace.

That is, until Aoifa showed up.

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3Monsters & Traitors Empty Re: Monsters & Traitors on Fri Mar 08, 2019 12:30 am

It hadn't even crossed my mind that perhaps I should have stopped at home first to clean up. In all honesty, I didn't even really think about the fact that it might be more prudent to maybe not just appear in Sylviane's living room without warning. But that's precisely what I've done, and I nearly fall over the coffee table before it occurs to me that this isn't my house.

I'm hot and sweaty, covered in dirt and blood, and my skin is still cracked and crackling with magic as I get my bearings in the unfamiliar room. It feels like a lifetime since I was last here, and I feel a little delirious as I wipe the blood from my eyes and start taking off my tattered furs. My magic has ruined another good cloak, and the sleeves and bracers I had put on before setting out have all but burned away.

"Sylviane?" I call uncertainly as I grimace at the mess of my cloak before stuffing it down into her trash can. "I got your stuff; are you home?"

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4Monsters & Traitors Empty Re: Monsters & Traitors on Fri Mar 08, 2019 12:54 am

The crackle of magic is just as unsettling as the unease in Aoifa’s voice as it carries through the door into my bedroom, pulling me from the haven of covers. There’s a glow coming from the living room, along a smell that’s pungently appetizing and un, all at once.

Aoifa?” I breathe the name as I step around the doorframe, inhaling sharply at the man standing in my living room. Disheveled and filthy, I wouldn’t have recognized him for the man I know if it weren’t for his calling my own name. There’s something about him that doesn’t sit well with me, and I keep my distance as I skirt the room to cut on a lamp. 

In the light, his appearance is all the more frightening. His skin is pulsing and broken, with wounds both mortal and magical. The creeping black of his magic has nearly overcome his entire body, bleeding uncomfortably into his eyes as he looks at me. 

“What have you done..?

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5Monsters & Traitors Empty Re: Monsters & Traitors on Fri Mar 08, 2019 1:04 am

"I wanted to get your stones back so no one could stumble across them and trace them back to you," I respond as I pull my bag off over my head, my hand going back to wipe at my eyes again. It hasn't quite registered that my face is bleeding, and the pain is more of a mild annoyance in the wake of the buzzing, lightheaded high the magic has left me with. I dig through the bag with shaky hands, pausing occasionally to wipe my eyes as I search for the box of stones.

"But Elyse was dead and the stones were gone," I scowl as I find the box and go to hand it to her. "So I tracked them down. A chaos colossus had them. I'm not sure why she wanted them, she was a little bigger and more dangerous than I expected, so I didn't get a chance to question her until she was almost dead. But by then... I was a little swept up in the heat of the moment, so..." I trail off as I take in the wide, fearful expression on Sylviane's face, my hand still held out with the box as she makes no move to take it from me. "I'm sorry. I should have showed more restraint, and figured out why she wanted them."

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6Monsters & Traitors Empty Re: Monsters & Traitors on Fri Mar 08, 2019 1:18 am

“You killed a chaos colossus..?” I ask weakly, trying to make sense of everything he’s said as I finally take the offered box only to drop it on the desk beside me. Just standing this near to him, I can feel the electricity of magic radiating off of him, the air around him abuzz with energy.

“You... you drained it-“ My breathing stops entirely as the realization hits. The pulsing, the glow, the stain of magic creeping through his veins. I’m afraid to touch him as I take a hesitant step closer, looking up at him in disbelief.

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7Monsters & Traitors Empty Re: Monsters & Traitors on Fri Mar 08, 2019 1:23 am

"I had planned to kill her with more conventional means," I breathe as I reel back a small step, her proximity setting my blood alight with an intoxicating mixture of hunger and lust. "But she was too fast to get more than one spell off before I just had to focus on staying out of her reach and sapping her down."

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8Monsters & Traitors Empty Re: Monsters & Traitors on Fri Mar 08, 2019 1:27 am

“You know how the chaos operate..? Right?” I ask, “The tenuous hold on their magic, the constantly-edging-out how far they can take it...? Aoifa, what I possess is drops in the bucket compared. You-“ I stop, clamping my mouth shut as I look him over.

“You’re a bomb waiting to go off.”

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9Monsters & Traitors Empty Re: Monsters & Traitors on Fri Mar 08, 2019 1:37 am

I pause for a moment, searching her features as I try to decipher her concern through the haze clouding my head. Looking down at my hands, I frown at the state of them, the blood oozing from the cracks in my skin sparking with magic every time my heart beats - and it's pounding, I realize.

"Yes," I finally agree. Using a gate to get here had been a calculated choice specifically meant to burn off the excess magic. But there's still so much, and despite my metabolism, it feels like it's continuing to grow and throb inside my veins. I'd killed a colossus that had threatened to fall into the realm of chaos, but it was nothing like this.

"What should I do..?" I ask a little fearfully, the situation finally starting to catch up with me. The realization causes my pulse to rise further, and I can feel the tremble in my hands growing worse as the magic sparks stronger.

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10Monsters & Traitors Empty Re: Monsters & Traitors on Fri Mar 08, 2019 1:47 am

“No, no, no...” I try to calm him, shaking my head at him, my hands raised though not daring too close as I urge him to take a step back. “This is, um... this is what I do!” I try to reassure him, though I sound uncertain myself as I look him over again. I regret the words I’d used earlier as I notice the look of fear and doubt in his eyes.

“Let’s step into the bathroom, yeah? Clean up a bit, and we can go from there.”

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11Monsters & Traitors Empty Re: Monsters & Traitors on Fri Mar 08, 2019 1:55 am

"Yeah," I respond a little breathlessly before nodding as I force myself to relax. "Yeah, okay. That sounds nice, actually. I just need a bath, that's all."

I've already started stripping out of my clothes as I follow her to the bathroom, the crackle of energy following me as we go.

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12Monsters & Traitors Empty Re: Monsters & Traitors on Fri Mar 08, 2019 2:06 am

I step in and cut on the light, moving to start the tub running as I try to work out for myself how to approach this. In his state, Aoifa could take the whole building with him if it became too much - if not the block.

No. That simply wasn’t going to happen. I remember watching my father take care of my mother when her own energies grew too erratic. I remember how often he was able to keep her steady, just long enough, to get into a better place. I remember how many baths were drawn, just like this one.

I drop a few salts in as the water fills the tub, stepping back towards the door as I move out of his way. I try not to let my gaze linger on his bruised and battered body, keeping my eyes low instead. I was still having trouble making sense of what was happening, exactly, and the burning ache of hunger wasn’t helping.

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13Monsters & Traitors Empty Re: Monsters & Traitors on Fri Mar 08, 2019 2:14 am

I hadn't quite appreciated the poor state of my clothing until now, and I can't even see the point in trying to salvage them at this point. Frowning, I tuck them away on the sink before stepping into the bath. The water stings my bruised and tender flesh, and I draw in a hiss of breath between my teeth as I sink into it.

I don't really begin to relax until after I've used the running faucet to wash away some of the grime caked to my skin, the heat and the salts soaking into my aching muscles as the tub fills further. The water turns murky quickly, and the pink hue to it brings me closer to the present.

"Are you okay?" I ask as I glance up at Sylviane with a frown. "I hadn't even thought about the fact that I'm all covered in blood."

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14Monsters & Traitors Empty Re: Monsters & Traitors on Fri Mar 08, 2019 5:34 am

“I’m fine.” I answer, too quickly, as I stand against the door. “Might make some tea, though, when you’re done in here. I could go for a cup of tea. What about you? Are you hungry?”

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15Monsters & Traitors Empty Re: Monsters & Traitors on Fri Mar 08, 2019 5:42 am

"Kind of," I respond as I continue to watch her, the feeling in the pit of my stomach a little too low to be qualified as hunger. "I can't really tell, to be honest," I admit as I peel my gaze away to stare at the water, waiting for it to rise to the bottom of the overflow drain so I can turn it off.

"Go make some tea," I smile lightly as I glance back at her. "I'll be fine; I'll join you in a minute."

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16Monsters & Traitors Empty Re: Monsters & Traitors on Fri Mar 08, 2019 5:48 am

I watch him a bit uncertainly before nodding, stepping out of the bathroom. I let out a breath I wasn’t aware I’d been holding as soon as the door’s shut behind me, busying myself to distract from the already distracting smell still clinging in my living room. I gather the tattered bits of clothing that had been left behind, adding them to the pile in the trash before tying the bag off in the vain hopes it would dampen it. It didn’t, and instead the task had just left the gnawing hunger more apparent as I anxiously set the kettle on.

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17Monsters & Traitors Empty Re: Monsters & Traitors on Fri Mar 08, 2019 6:03 am

I busy myself with washing up before I try to sink into the water to relax. Instead, I find myself shifting restlessly, the water only seeming to amplify the electrifying sensation of the magic dancing in my veins. The sound of the kettle whistling puts an end to my attempt at unwinding, and I sit up to pull the plug from the drain.

As I get out of the tub, I hesitate as I reach for a towel, my gaze falling to the cracked skin on my arms. It isn't actively bleeding anymore, but I don't trust toweling off not to start it up again. Instead, I let the magic evaporate the water as I wrap the towel around my waist, and wander out to the kitchen.

Sylviane is busy finishing the tea. Pausing just inside the kitchen, I watch her for a moment as I take in her disheveled appearance and the thin robe hanging from her shoulders. I hesitate for a moment before stepping forward to put a tentative hand on her shoulder, my touch light as I let my fingers fall down her arm gently - the tingle of magic under my skin concentrating at my fingertips as I let it pass through me and into her.

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18Monsters & Traitors Empty Re: Monsters & Traitors on Fri Mar 08, 2019 9:43 am

I slow to a halt, his touch nearly startling me as I feel the gentle rush of magic being exchanged. It’s not like the magic we’d shared days prior - filtered through Aoifa in small bursts, and dampened by his gift. This magic entered me with a stinging burn of chaotic energy, causing me to close my eyes against the sensation. It wasn’t entirely unpleasant, but the danger that accompanied it was.

His hand pulls from my arm just before I can tell him to stop, the energies twisting their way through me and mingling with the hunger that’d been building since yesterday.

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19Monsters & Traitors Empty Re: Monsters & Traitors on Sat Mar 09, 2019 5:14 am

"How are you doing?" I ask with a tight frown as I come to settle against the counter beside her. The proximity to her leaves me feeling tense with the desire to step closer, but there's another discomfort that urges me to step back. Instead, I stand rooted to the spot, unable to reconcile the two desires.

"With Elyse's passing..?" I add, clarifying the center of my concern. "I know this can't be easy for you, losing your friend like this..."

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20Monsters & Traitors Empty Re: Monsters & Traitors on Sat Mar 09, 2019 7:31 am

“I don’t think I’m ready to talk about her,” I respond quietly, finishing the second teaball and dropping it in the cup before grabbing the kettle. I fill each with the boiling water, handing one to Aoifa before slipping past him and heading back into the living room. It’s hard to articulate whatever it is I’m feeling with the heavy scent of blood mingling with magic in the apartment, along with Aoifa’s still-grotesque appearance.

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21Monsters & Traitors Empty Re: Monsters & Traitors on Sun Mar 10, 2019 4:34 am

I linger in the kitchen for a moment, giving Sylviane some time to settle into the living room while I add a touch of sugar to my tea. I'm still trembling, and there isn't a lick of color to the skin on my arms. I try not to think about the knot of anxious energy twisting inside of me as I sip at my tea.

It tastes like ash and blood.

My nose crinkles in disgust as I peer into my cup offendedly. It's a small inconvenience, but the tangle of chaotic magic tightens inside of my chest as I feel a bubble of fury threatening my composure. With shaking hands, I force the last of the tea down, the scalding temperature doing nothing as it pours down my throat, and I put the cup in the sink as gently as I can.

I need to do something.

Sylviane is seated on the couch, staring off into space as she sips at her own tea. I frown slightly before coming to sit on the floor, my back resting against the couch a couple feet beside her.

"The stones that you make, " I start hesitantly. "Is that something you could teach me to do? Or perhaps you could channel it and make them with my magic..?"

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22Monsters & Traitors Empty Re: Monsters & Traitors on Sun Mar 10, 2019 9:04 am

His request doesn’t entirely register at first, my gaze still locked across the room before the energy radiating off of him draws my attention.

“That’s what I’ve been thinking about.” I frown, “Drawing it off of you to store... Just trying to figure out the safest way.”

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23Monsters & Traitors Empty Re: Monsters & Traitors on Sun Mar 17, 2019 2:35 am

"I don't understand, why is a chaos colossus's magic so much more dangerous?" I ask with a hesitant frown as I look down at my arms. I can see the magic pulsating as I flex my arm, the veins standing up lividly against the tight cord of muscle and sinew beneath my blackened skin. "I always thought their nature just came down to their personality, but this... it's like it's alive and filled with fury."

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24Monsters & Traitors Empty Re: Monsters & Traitors on Sun Mar 17, 2019 8:22 am

“At birth, they’re no different than other colossus,” I start, watching him warily. He’s looking vaguely better than before, but it’s such a slight improvement it’s hardly worth noting. “But their magic goes unchecked. It’s encouraged to grow and mutate their very body. They allow it to take over. They don’t mess with stones because they don’t want to draw it off and store it.

“And, honestly?” I frown, stretching my jaw in an attempt to ease the aching there, “Your blood isn’t lasting as long for me as I’d hoped. I’m having trouble focusing.”

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25Monsters & Traitors Empty Re: Monsters & Traitors on Mon May 06, 2019 10:49 am

"Oh," I frown a little at that as I glance at her. An edge of nervousness clashes with curiosity and no small amount of excitement, a memory reflex from our previous exchange that seems painfully amplified by my current state. I find myself shifting my weight to hide the reaction as I fixate my gaze on the sorry state of my flesh, my nostrils flaring as I try to pick up the scent of my own blood.

Whatever extrasensory abilities I'd borrowed from Svlviane, however, have been entirely eclipsed by the new magic in my veins, and instead I'm just left with this bizarre sensation that can only be described as a vibration under my skin.

"So, in theory," I frown as I hold a hand out in front of me, electricity crackling in fine arcs across my hand as I try to dampen the uncomfortable sensation. "I could just burn it all off?"

I've hardly given Sylviane time to respond before I've gotten to my feet and started toward the nearest doorway. Probably safest if I'm not in the city for this. I'm a little taken aback as the space between the doorway cracks the moment the thought of going home enters my thoughts; no magic or key or even intent - the door simply appeared.

I stare at it in blank shock. Unlike a proper door, this looks more like a gash; a wound ripped open in the middle of the frame that should lead to another room in the house, but instead falls open into the snowy fields around my house. Staring at it, its edges crackling unpredictably, I'm filled with a sense of dread as I notice the objects around it beginning to quiver and shake as they're dragged, slowly, toward the opening.

Stay away from it, a warning voice hisses in the back of my mind as I back away and will it to close - gently. Despite my willpower, though, it snaps shut violently and every shelf and table within a few feet is cleared off with the crashing of objects being ripped toward where the hole had been - the violence of it making me jump before the room goes still again.

"I didn't do that," I breathe weakly, looking back at Svlviane with wide, apologetic eyes. "I just thought I should go home and it just... happened."

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