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Realistic or Modern The Undying Hunt | IC

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  2. Horror
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listener

mama and the mothman
The Undying Hunt

Into this wild abyss,
The womb of Nature, and perhaps her grave,
Of neither sea, nor shore, nor air, nor fire,
But all these in their pregnant causes mixed
Confusedly, and which thus must ever fight,
Unless the Almighty Maker them ordain
His dark materials to create more worlds;
Into this wild abyss the wary Fiend
Stood on the brink of Hell, and looked a while,
Pondering his voyage; for no narrow frith
He had to cross.

― John Milton, Paradise Lost

Interstice 0 & Chapter 1: The Horn Sounds


 

listener

mama and the mothman

Interstice 0



Elsewhere


The waters were unusually still in the moon’s grove. Even the cascade of rushing water was absent, as if it could feel the coalescing beneath the motionless white-blue surface. Only one of those gathered could feel the melding of energies, surging deeper and stronger with every moment that passed.

The twinkling laughter of sprites and fairies became hushed as the moon made it’s crescendo in the sky, and without warning, She emerged.

From the reflection of the moon in the water she rose, beauty so striking it sent those gathered to their knees, blinded by her presence. Only one was able to keep their eyes on her shimmering starlight skin and moonlit hair, and she beckoned him forward, into the sacred waters of the grove.

“You’ve heeded my call,” the goddess said softly, though her lips did not part. “You, above anyone else, always do…”

The man stepped forward, his feet bare against the soft dewy grass. He bowed before entering the grove’s waters, her waters, his heart ablaze with the recognition she had given him.

“And I always will,” the hunter replied, lips unmoving behind his cervus mask, his antler crown.

The water was cool to the touch, soft as it caressed him, beckoning him forward. The sensation was just as he remembered. From behind his cervine mask, his left eye seared, a pain so sudden and sharp the hunter fell to his knees. The ones who had gathered at his behest cried out in pain, though they did not understand.

“Stand, Cernunnos, and take my blessing into the next world.” A shimmering starlight hand reached out, imbuing Cernunnos with more divine essence than ever before. “Claim the souls you need, and defeat the aberration attempting to make landfall in the Material.

"Go, Cernunnos... Go sound the horn of your Undying Hunt.”

The man bowed, tears threatening to spill from his eyes as the two shards of divinity within him touched, coalesced into something more. The goddess before him spared only another well-wish before thrusting her hand to the side— ripping apart realities, shredding time and space, tearing through the many planes so the Lord of the Undying Hunt could crossover.


Chapter 1: The Horn Sounds



Pirn, Oregon
August, 2021


Rain fell in sheets; great forks of lightning illuminated the angry storm clouds in the night sky above and thunder roiled and toiled, growling and beating in tune to an ancient song long forgotten. As the witching hour approached, so too did a surge of energy, washing across the Material like a biblical flood.

At three thirty four in the morning, the ground beneath Pirn began to shake. It solidified into a violent tremble, the forest surrounding Mount Pirn became an undulating wave as trees unrooted themselves and boulders long in slumber shifted. The very air held its breath for what was to come.

And it did not come for another three hours and thirteen minutes.

☽ꕥ☾​

At six forty seven in the morning, the horn sounded.

One prolonged guttural note rented through the twilight before sunrise. It was a primal sound, one that tugged at the deepest recesses of one's mind, reminding their very essence of time immemorial.

Only those whose eyes could see beyond the veil could hear it, the primordial chord of the Undying Hunt.

☽ꕥ☾
Miri Rozel

Miri woke with a start, heart beating against her ribcage with such intensity that she was worried something more was wrong with her than just the nightmare she’d woken up from. With one hand pressed against her chest and the other fumbling for her glasses, Miri reminded herself sternly that what she saw was in fact a dream; feyhounds didn’t exist, nor did seven foot tall humans with antlers for ears whose voice was nothing more than a warhorn.

Finally finding her glasses, Miri shoved them on her face and got out of bed for her morning stretches. Mr. Twilight, her silvery mainecoon familiar, gave quite the stink eye when she moved him to make her bed, and something about the mundaneness of it settled her frantic heart. She gave him a scratch behind the ear and threw on her robe before sitting down in front of her vanity.

She reached for her silver handled brush just as a knock came from outside her door. “Come in,” Miri said without thinking, as there were only two people who frequented the Rozel Manor, and she trusted them both explicitly. The heavy maple door creaked open and her Guide let himself in.

Per usual, there was barely a hint of pleasantries before he got to the point.

“Unsettled?” Noah asked between bites of a chocolate chip muffin. “This early in the morning? Unusual for you, Miri.”

She shrugged off his morning greeting with a laugh, brushing out her bangs and the knots that formed at the base of her neck. “Just some bad dreams. You know how it is. Do anything spectacular yet on this fine morning?”

“Mm,” Noah replied, finishing off the muffin with a satisfied expression. “I was having a pleasant discussion with your father about the insurgence of demonic energy and the theoretical explanation of—”

“Hm?” Miri said softly, running a brush through her messy hair, only half-paying attention, mind still focused on the nightmares. “Theoretical explanation of what?”

When no response came, Miri glanced over, hairbrush falling from her grasp.

Miri had never seen Noah Parker look afraid. Not once in her decade of knowing him. Since her seventeenth birthday he’d been a steady figure in her life, a constant one. He was perhaps a little too blunt and a tad too judgemental, but Noah was exactly what she needed to improve, to help her better understand the power she wielded. So when he stared at her with fear emanating from his eyes, Miri was rooted to the spot.

Her breath caught in her throat and slowly, she turned to look behind her, fully expecting the worst; the antlers-for-ears man from her dream towering behind her, ready to snatch away her soul. But there was no one behind her, no one except her mirrored reflection.

And the unfamiliar golden eye staring back at her.

With a strangled gasp, Miri leaned forward, nearly crashing into her vanity mirror. Her heart, which had just recently settled it’s frantic beating, once again revved, thundering between her ears.

No! No it was just a dream! Just a dream my subconscious whipped up!

“I… I don’t understand,” Miri said softly, barely above a whisper. “The man in my dream, he—he had a golden eye that glowed behind his mask. I don’t—I don’t understand how this is possible. My eyes are brown, not gold!”

She turned to look at her Guide, eyes frantic and pricking with tears.

“I’m not sure either,” Noah said immediately, and she could see his mind already whirling with possibilities. “Perhaps it was a vision, you’ve had them before.” He placed a comforting and reassuring hand atop her shoulder, and for a moment, all was right with the world. “I’m going to ask the Elders. For now just go about your day as normal; I’m sure a council meeting will be held shortly.

“In the meantime, try and reach out to everyone else, see if anything… weird ...has happened to others.”

Miri swallowed back her fear and nodded, standing and walking over to her closet in order to get dressed for the day. She watched Noah leave, dematerializing with a rush of what sounded like wings and an afterimage of his quintessential spear of light.

She grabbed her cell phone and spent nearly five minutes adding every unveiled phone number she had to one mass text.

It read as follows:

S.O.S.
If anything weird has happened, meet me at the Hall of Knowledge A.S.A.P.



Senor_Fluffy Senor_Fluffy eyyliner eyyliner erzulie erzulie Wandering Owl Wandering Owl Lekiel Lekiel hesper hesper



 
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hesper

here and there is where she who exists wanders


POLA WICHT

.. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . ..​


Pola inhaled sharply, awakening very suddenly to the sound of the horn. Of all the things she hated, disturbed sleep was at the top of the list. Anyone who knew her well enough was aware of that, and so the first thing Pola did was grab her phone and a knife from under her pillow before getting up and quietly padding through her dark house.

The house was always darkened— the curtains were drawn, aside from the dining room. She hated the thought of people peering into her windows, and of course, the darkness just felt a little more welcoming than the alternative.

“Who’s there? Noah? James? I swear to god if you’re messing with me just to get me out of bed early, I’m gonna do something about it!” She called out, holding her knife up and ready. But quickly, Pola discovered that her house was empty. Weird. It was just her and Jingleshanks, an oddly small orange tabby cat with a particularly round face, who had also been following Pola’s cautious steps through the house. He was her favorite of all the Pirn strays, and he often found his way into her house via the dining room window, which she’d been unable to fully shut since she moved in. She hadn’t bothered to ask the landlady to fix it.

Pola sighed, petting Jingleshanks with her bare foot just as her phone vibrated, eternally put on silent mode. Ringtones just weren’t Pola’s style. She tapped her passcode into her phone, reading the message she’d received from Miri. However, before she could fully comprehend the text, she saw something different on her wrist. It was a golden band, wrapped fully around her wrist. She went into the kitchen and hurriedly set her phone and knife down, picking at the marking on her wrist with a fingernail to see if it would Come off.

It didn’t.

“What the fuck.” She muttered to herself, jingleshanks meowing desperately for food, “Hold on, boy, I’m dealing with something—” Pola nearly screamed when she saw something cross through her peripheral vision. It was tall, and unexpected, and it was uninvited.

Grabbing her knife again, Pola shouted, “I dare you to lay one finger on me, I dare you!” she hissed, brandishing her knife.

She saw the thing again in her peripheral, and her heart raced. It took Pola a few long minutes to calm herself down, but she ran around her house a couple of times just to make sure there really wasn’t anyone there but herself. When she was satisfied, she opened the text from Miri again, and replied:

|| Are you seeing things? On the fringes of your vision? Because I am. Not to mention the thing on my damn wrist.

It wasn’t until Pola hit send that she realized it was a group text, and now most of the unveiled community in Pirn would likely have just one more reason to find her unsavory.

“Great. Shit. Cool. Dammit!” She huffed, walking loudly to her bedroom to put on a quick outfit and her trusty combat boots, “Why do I never check who the damn recipients are! Not only am I painful to be around, but I’m seeing things. Gods. Maybe I ought to go see a shrink after all, huh, Jingleshanks?” She huffed, putting on a jacket and shoving her phone into the pocket, ready to go to the Hall of Knowledge, despite her desire to crawl back into bed and sleep until two.

Jingleshanks meowed at her in a raspy high pitch, swishing his crooked tail.

“You weren’t supposed to agree with that, butthole.” She frowned, but leaned down to pet the cat with her hand this time. As Pola stood up, she finally decided to look at herself in the mirror to assess herself, but once again, something was off.

One eye was now golden, when it had been blue the last time she’d checked.

How the hell did this happen?

Pola only hoped that Miri’s sos had something to do with what was happening to herself. She rubbed her golden eye while still looking in the mirror, anxiety creeping into her skin like a cold prickly snake.

Jingleshanks meowed again, prompting Pola for food, and she groaned loudly, going outside after grabbing a large scoop of cat food and pouring it into 5 separate bowls. A small horde of cats swarmed Pola’s porch seemingly out of nowhere, and they all began feeding on the feast that Pola provided.

“I’m not even sure I want to go to Miri’s meeting, folks,” She said to the cats, “I’m not sure who else would wake up to the sound of a horn and discover they’ve got a weird new skin bracelet and a golden frickin' eye.” she rubbed her face, still a little groggy. Pola reached for a pack of cigarettes she’d left on the porch rail by accident the night before, and she lit one, taking a long drag. The cats were quietly eating, and Pola stood on her porch.

“Where the hell is my guide when I actually have questions? Or do they only show up when I’m about to make a dumb decision?” She remarked, exhaling smoke. Pola then huffed anxiously, taking a few minutes to finish the cigarette before putting it out in an ashtray situated on a little table beside her porch chair.

“Well. Guess I’ll go anyway.” She turned around and locked her front door, and then made her way on foot to the Hall of Knowledge to hopefully figure out what the hell was going on.



.. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . ..​
 

Senor_Fluffy

What happens when you don't clean your hair brush
MOOD: On edge

OUTFIT: A well-loved pair of jeans and a white long sleeved shirt under a puffy vest jacket.

LOCATION: Was on his way to a local school, is in the upper plains
two
INTERACTIONS: Noah, Colette

MENTIONS: Noah, Colette and the Elders
two
two
TL;DR: James is out and about when the call sounds, he checks on his inner circle but upon noticing his own marking, decides it is best to consult the Elders.
two
James Smith

James was an early bird. He had been even when he was alive in the traditional sense. The serenity of the world before people went about continuing their lives was something he enjoyed. That and sunrises took his breath away no matter how many times he saw them. A cup of coffee simply completed it all. He dressed up for the brisk morning in some jeans, a grey long sleeved t-shirt and a puffy vest jacket zipped up almost to the top. Before the sun had even peaked over the horizon, James had started on his way to do some finishing touches to the decorative gardens of Greenpoint High School before the students were to start their new school year.

Yet, the world had a way of keeping one on their toes. One moment, the world is as it had been. People are as they were. His inner circle showed no signs of being unwell. And the next moment... Well, the next moment a hollowing sound seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere. It reminded him of the cries of the Wandering Soul. A sound he hadn't heard in 50 years. He could have happily gone another 50 without hearing such a thing. It left him in his tracks, searching the ends of the streets that ended too shortly due to the hills cutting his field of view. He turned smoothly as he tried to find any sort of source in the quiet neighborhood he was walking though.

Not that he would find any explanation before he was left in the silence of a foggy Pirn morning. Left with a sinking dread that made him itch to do anything but wait. A calm but alert expression across his face as he stood there waiting for something to follow. Watching for any sign of injury from anyone in his closest connections. Nothing. Yet he couldn't help but feel that wouldn't be the case for long. He'd never heard any emergency signal like that.

He went to check his flip phone for messages when he noticed something peaking from beneath his sleeve. Pausing in confusion, he pulled down the sleeve to reveal the mark of a golden scribbles gleaming up at him. Were they eyes? Utter confusion wracked his mind as checked on his surroundings before looking back to his newly acquired mark. Scratching at it only confirmed that it wasn't going anywhere. What sort of magic? Had he been marked by someone? But who? He took one more look around. No real panic in his eyes even as he searched for answers.

His attention skittered across the windows of the nearby houses when he saw a beast in the corner of his eye. Snapping his head to look at the center of the street still lit by streetlights his gut twisted as nothing was there. He couldn't tell if he had just been spied on or if his mind hadn't fully woken up yet.

There was still no real signs of distress yet. Not that he could discern. He had half the mind to go to Colette. But what more could he do about this marking? Or that thing? Surely, Noah would know? Maybe not. Even still, he took a breath and reached out to both Noah and Colette. Something is wrong. I have been marked strangely. He didn't know how much of it would reach Noah but he hoped Colette would get it. He only hoped this feeling of dread would leave.

The Elders would surely know what to do. Crouching down, he put down his travel coffee mug beside him. Calloused palms pressed into the concrete at his feet as he closed his eyes and focused. He really hoped this would get easier with time. His broad form dematerialized into faintly glowing dust that drifted to the ground lazily. His hand and boot prints beside a half drunken travel mug of coffee was all that remained as James went to the Upper Plains to seek the guidance of the Elders. Maybe whatever that thing was it would appreciate his brew. He didn't care to wait and find out.

"I wonder if I'll live long enough to forget where I began."
code by valen t.
 
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eyyliner

ミ✭
mood ; -
annoyed to be woken up.

location ; -
In her apartment, tending to cats and herself.
outfit ; -
mentions ; -
listener listener , open.

interactions ; -
open.
CHO.
-- seulgi
If there was a reason to be awake before the sun had fled past the horizon, Seulgi Cho always found a way to avoid it. It helped that despite the amount of people that lived in Pirn, Oregon, most knew to keep to themselves.

Curious neighbors, too-friendly patrons at the library, a random stranger—none of them tended to bother the woman due to her open disdain for any form of kindness.

Despite her incessant need to avoid people, that didn't stop her from having people in her life. She had friends, acquaintances, people she could have a civil conversation with despite her carefully-crafted frown that she kept ever present on her face.

Although, as her phone let out a loud chirp from where it rested on her bedside table, she found that perhaps she considered any form of friendship to be overrated.

A rough groan left her mouth before she was sitting up, a displeased feline meowing into her ear before moving to lounge at the end of her bed. With her eyes still tightly scrunched shut, she was reaching out for her phone and pressing it on.

It took the woman several long moments to clear her vision well enough to read the text. The words confused her, making her re-read the cryptic message in an attempt to understand what it possibly meant.

With a scoff, she moved her hand to set the phone down—before she froze, eyes locked on the glittering runes that wrapped around her thin wrist.

Licking her lips, she blew out a breath.

"F^ck me," She huffed to herself before she was tossing her blankets aside and smoothly climbing to her feet. Another frustrated noise left her lips as she made towards her amoire, grumbling, "As if it wasn't enough to spend two hundred years as a vampire. Now I got some crazy bastard carving me up in hieroglyphics and—"

Seulgi caught sight of her reflection as she swung the door open, wavering as she focused on herself in silence.

The usual features were there: dark rings and old mascara lines beneath her eyes, limp red hair falling in her face, the pale flesh of her cheeks looked hollowed and gaunt. But, there was a new feature; a iris of shimmering gold that was an exact replica of the patterns along her wrist.

Slumping her shoulders, Seulgi gave herself a few moments to lament her freedom.

For if this sort of development was happening to other unveiled, it meant there was a whole other set of challenges they would be left to deal with.

Dressing quickly, she didn't bother to fix her face before she was moving towards the side of the room.

She extended her nails, the tips growing long as she pried underneath the floorboards to lift them.

After a moment, a box appeared. It was gray and the metal was warped, showing signs of age.

Breathing hard to clear the dust, she hovered for a long moment before continuing.

With a flick of her nails, the lid opened to reveal several pieces of paper and an envelope. Carefully pulling the seal back, she let the familiar band of gold fall into her waiting palm.

"Damn it all," She groused. "I never wanted to have to wear this damn thing again if I could help it..."

Slipping it on her left ring finger, she ran a finger along the band with a pensive frown before getting to her feet. Carefully creeping her way towards the window, she wrapped her still-extended nails into the fabric before shifting it to stick her hand into the sunlight.

When nothing immediately happened, she ever so cautiously crept forward as soft sunlight shifted onto her pale skin.

Despite her cautiousness, she let her shoulders slump as she carefully glanced about the neighborhood. Noting some people walking about the street, Seulgi frowned to herself before she steeled her nerves.

After a brief few minutes of feeding the strays staying in her apartment and drinking a blood pack from her fridge, she laced up her boots before heading out in the daylight for the first time in a hundred years.
coded by reveriee.
 

erzulie

𝗌𝗁𝖾 𝗐𝖺𝗂𝗍𝗌, 𝗌𝖾𝖾𝗍𝗁𝗂𝗇𝗀, 𝖻𝗅𝗈𝗈𝗆𝗂𝗇𝗀…








babette




MOOD: shook
LOCATION: heading to the library
OUTFIT: here
TAGS:
MENTIONS:
open

She had been taught that dreams were an important part of life, for they could hold visions of the future and cryptic messages from loved ones who had passed one. There was always something hidden within her dreamscape and it was up to her to find them. The answers weren’t always easily attained and the messages were never simple but she had learned to piece things together over the years. If something proved too difficult to interpret, there was always an elder who could take apart the message for her.

There were times where Babettè was aware that she was dreaming, those moments were easy to control. Lucid dreaming some would call it. She was able to control it as she saw fit. And in her mind, her dreamscape took the form of her home. The large gothic styled building came with many rooms, rooms where she tucked away memories, information, and things that she could use for a later date. Within the giant library in her home held her family’s history, novels dedicated to her ancestors, tapestries with the names of those who came before her decorated the room, immortalizing those on it forever.

It had all happened in a blink of an eye. She brushed her fingers against the material, gazing at it in wonder at the history etched onto the fabric. Suddenly the room around her went dark and when the light returned, she was in the foyer. Babettè watched as monsters invaded her home. It felt as if time were moving in slow motion, she could only stare as her home was destroyed, her great library was soiled right before her eyes.

Babettè sensed a presence behind her, she turned and was met with the sight of two glowing eyes. She jerked awake, feeling as if her heart were about to beat out of her chest. She couldn’t shake the feeling of dread that washed over her. Her body was tense as she made her way to her shop. Oracle sat perched on her shoulder, sensing his mistress’s feelings. He was quieter than usual now.

Her morning went by in a blur almost, she dealt with customers but she couldn’t shake the worry that nagged at her. She had so many questions to ask and the need for answers was growing. With a buzz of her phone it seemed as though she was going to get those answers.

Babettè closed her shop early, she needed to get to that library.

code by low fidelity.
 

Wandering Owl

Be good, baby blue. Be good.




LOCATION || downtown, heading to the hall of knowledge

MOOD || tense, intrigued

OUTFIT || here

INTERACTIONS || miri, pola, anyone else in the gc

TAGS || listener listener hesper hesper






With a night's worth of music and conversation still ringing in their ears, Echo stepped out onto the street. Even at this time in the morning, there was still a fair share of people moving about, early risers heading out to work and their fellow night owls stumbling home. The changeling was heading for home too. They were in no rush, hands shoved into their pockets, giving a nod and a smile to familiar faces and strangers alike. Their feet fell into the route they’d walked a thousand times, letting their thoughts wander.

That was, until the horn sounded. The sound cut through the cool twilight air- and, just as easily, cut through Echo themselves. It resonated and ached within them, stirring up fragments of memory that dissipated before the changeling could begin to focus on them. They were no stranger to the supernatural happenings that often occurred here but this- this was different. Nothing had ever made them feel like this.

It wasn’t until a shoulder brushed sharply against theirs that Echo realised they’d frozen where they stood in the middle of the street, and that the horn had fallen silent as suddenly as it had begun. They ducked into an alleyway, pulling their arms tight against their chest as they tried to process what had just happened. They could swear they could see shapes at the corners of their vision, snouts and teeth that vanished the moment they turned their head. Were they just lightheaded, or was it somehow related to the sound of that horn?

Their phone buzzed in their pocket. That felt like the furthest thing from their mind right now, but muscle memory won out over numb confusion. By the time it was in their hand, they decided they may as well. It took them a couple of tries to unlock it with shaking fingers and read the message.

Miriam’s message shook a little laugh out of them. “Something weird” didn’t exactly narrow it down much, not in Pirn. They knew about Miri though, and she didn’t seem like the type to flip out over nothing. It was a little odd that she’d contact them directly - but, on a second look, it was a group text. That made more sense. The phone buzzed again, another message popping up on screen. Echo mouthed the words to themselves. Things on the edges of their vision, that tracked, but something on their wrist…? They pulled their sleeve back to rub their wrist, almost subconsciously, and gold flashed under the light of the streetlamp. A band wrapping around their wrist, etched into their skin like cracked pottery. That settled it, then. Other Unveiled were experiencing the same thing. Was that disappointment or anticipation they felt rise in their chest?

Pushing the tangle of emotions to one side, their thumbs flashed over the keyboard, tapping out three messages in quick succession.

|| same here
|| thats one hell of an alarm clock 😅
|| any idea what caused it?


Phone still in hand to catch any reply, Echo set out for the Hall of Knowledge. The concept of not showing up had crossed their mind, very briefly, but it had never really been an option. Whatever the others were experiencing, this whole thing was reopening an old, old void in their mind, and they knew they wouldn’t be able to settle until they’d got to the bottom of it. They counted themselves lucky that they hadn’t been too far away from the library. It had been a while since they’d been there - and even longer since they’d gone for actual knowledge - but they fell into the route as easily as if they were walking home.




code by ditto
 
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Lekiel

Two Thousand Club
Supporter
Colette Delafaux | Watcher | 25 | Mentions: Senor_Fluffy Senor_Fluffy

She awoke in a bout of cold sweat, gasping for a stolen breath as if she’d just been underwater. Beneath the surface of a lake perhaps, with an unblemished moon shimmering in the wake of reflective sheen and starlit pellucid skin.

A gust of cold wind flitted through the eaves, or perhaps it was merely her imagination, the flimsy nighty she wore soaked through with perspiration only served to amplify the brazen chill across her curled back.

“Ah-!”

The shadows reared itself as the quiet of the old house was broken by a startled gasp. Ice cold fingers clutched at her face as a searing pain stabbed itself through her left eye. It did not last, but the shock of the memory lingered and the figure groaned, doubling over into her messy sheets. She let her cool clammy hands soothe her splitting headache.

Why were her ears ringing? Through the gaps of her fingers clutched across her eyes she stared into the oblivion that was the darkness of her blankets, and saw not nothing, but shifting images of a fevered dream. Of antlered beasts, soul wrenching horns and soft swirling forms whose breathtaking pulchritude she could barely grasp with the vestiges of her fleeting memory. Like fine sand sifting through desperate fingers, she squeezed her eyes and tried to remember. But the harder she tried, the faster it all slipped away.

It was one of those days again. She thought her dreams would go away when she arrived in Pirn all those years ago. But she’d been so wrong. The dream went away, but it was replaced by so many others she’d given up trying to etch them in ink and paper. Finally her breath steadied. Fingers groped about in the dark to the little nightstand, finding purchase on the smooth rectangle of glass and aluminium. She tapped it once and stared at the screen.

Six fifty-five, the clock read. Colette let out a breathless sigh. So much for sleeping in.

Now fully awake, she was once again reminded of the dull ache of her bruised ribs and the cut on her lip from her little run in with trouble the night prior. To top it off, whatever dream she had, had left her with a splitting headache that felt like someone had shoved a burning fork through her left eyeball.

“Fuck”. Cursing the house, the auburn haired woman extricated herself from the tangle of her sheets and padded over to the adjoining bathroom, grabbing onto her phone out of habit.

She flipped the switch hearing a low buzz as the darned lightbulb struggled to life. Placing her phone on the glass panel by the sink, Colette cupped her hands under the cool waters of her tap and doused her face. The shock of cold water was rousing, and she immediately felt much better. That is until she saw her weary expression staring back at her from the mirror, one eye blazing with golden irises.

No, no, no, no- She blinked and the girl in the mirror did the same.

Trembling hands frantically turned at the tap and doused more water on her face, as if the ice cold liquid could somehow cleanse the fevered mark from her eye. That was when she saw the aureate brand encircling her wrist, somehow she’d missed it earlier. It didn’t matter. To any other, such peculiarities might’ve been nothing more than an unexpected surprise. But to Colette, the markings might as well have been chains. She’d been living in denial, running away from burdens she’d never asked for. She’d been successful for the most part, but this. . .

The runes on her wrist almost seemed to dance before her eyes. Shifting in structure and form as if they were alive. It was a mockery of her efforts.

No. . . no. . . She scratched at her wrist now, frantically trying to scrub at it with a bar of soap she’d found on the sink. Then the last thing she wanted to hear, but perhaps the only thing that could’ve broken her from her fevered state echoed in her mind.

Something is wrong. I have been marked strangely.

“No shit.”

It took Colette a second longer than necessary to realize she’d spoken her reply aloud. But even then, she felt a tinge of relief flood her heart. She knew that disembodied voice had come from James. Little as it was, there was a certain sadistic sense of satisfaction to know that even her ‘guide’ appeared to be spooked by whatever had happened; and she wasn’t the only one going through this.

Then her phone screen lit up and the messages came flooding in.

She read the messages, but did not reply as was her norm. It was enough to know that whatever was happening, it clearly had gotten to quite a number of them and though she had calmed down somewhat, Colette couldn’t help but feel a certain sense of foreboding.

Part of her wanted to skip the train and just head back to sleep. Perhaps if she closed her eyes she’d wake up with everything back to normal. But she knew that would never work. With a long-suffering sigh, the Watcher resigned herself to her fate. But not before tapping out a quick snippy reply to the old man.

“Could’ve just msgd me ya know? I can’t do that mind thingy 🙄


 

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