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Breathe Me

Breathe Me


When Mother Nature begins to wither away, she calls upon the descendants of ancient clans to fight against the Cruzzola; an age old rival against Humanity.

1,771 readers have visited Breathe Me since Lovely VonSchultz created it.


Breathe Me OST

Official Theme Song for the Descendants of the Ancient Clans of Mother Nature. Don't Carry it All.

In a hidden place beneath the world, there is a woman. She is blind, deaf, mute.

She is Mother Nature.

And she is dying.

The Earth is becoming a shell of hatred and violence. It is a sanctuary for anger, envy, and pride. What was once a peaceful and prosperous land is now a dungeon created by the Cruzzola Family. Mother Nature, the mother of Humanity, the representation of the gentility of Man. She upholds all of Humanity's hopes and dreams. The Father of the Cruzzola is her rival in all things and has been since the beginning of time. The two will always fight and bicker, even though Mother Nature has grown tired of the rivalry.

But enough is enough and she has allowed his reign to continue for far too long. Mother Nature is going to use the last bit of her strength to fight back one last time. However, she cannot do it alone. With the help of her most loyal subject and adopted son, Mother Nature searches and finds the four descendants of the Earthly tribes:

The Avian Clan

The Shark Clan

The Dragon Clan

The Serpent Clan

These four tribes were thought to have become extinct when the Cruzzola crashed upon them in a fiery rage centuries ago. Mother Nature knew tragedy was inevitable and so she had the heirs to the clans taken and spread across the new world in hopes they would survive and prosper until the day their descendants were needed to fight once more.

Now that time has come.

Sending out her most trustworthy man, Mother Nature is calling upon the clans to aide her in the fight against the Cruzzola. What these four descendants do not realize, is that they have a strong power deep within their hearts to carry forth this war and to crush the Cruzzola beneath their feet.

But the Cruzzola are ruthless and know the weaknesses of all men. How else would they have gained such power and have nearly conquered Mother Nature herself?

In order for Humanity to continue on, these four descendants, with the help of Mother Nature and her son, must defeat the Cruzzola Family and allow Man one more chance at their dreams of life.

Mother Nature and her son will both be played by myself. Mother Nature's role is not big since she is a background character more than an active part of the story.

***All character spots have been filled! This RP is closed until further notice!

I would prefer everyone to use the profile skeletons given by However, under Equipment (only for the descendants of the clans), please add the following:

Code: Select all
[b]Primary Talent:[/b]

[b]Secondary Talent:[/b]

These will define your character's abilities as their birthright from their respective clans.

These 'talents' I speak of are any 'super powers' (for lack of a better word) that your character may have. They are supernatural and can range from teleportation to transmutation. I would prefer them to coincide with the clan you are a apart of, though. If you are the descendant of the Shark Clan, for example, you may be able to control water, create fog, or even adjust the tides.

The Primary talent is the one that will be the most powerful, while the Secondary talent is less harmful but still useful in fighting.

If you choose to be a member of the Cruzzola family, you can choose whatever power you want, just please, no Godmodding. (I hate that I even have to say that... -le sigh-) Keep your powers within reason and remember, the Descendants do have to win the fight. Don't get me wrong though! You can certainly lay down a pretty good beating on them, just don't kill them!

Any other questions or concerns, just talk to me on the OOC! I may not be able to reply right away, but I will get to it as soon as I am capable!!

Toggle Rules

  1. Please be respectful of the English language. Punctuate your sentences, capitalize the correct words, and please don't use text speech.
  2. OOC is absolutely forbidden in IC. If you, as a writer, have something to say, we have a nifty little OOC forum specifically for that. It's messy and disrupts the flow of the writers if you have a little something to add that is not your character speaking.
  3. Wait for a good bit of posting from other characters before you post again, unless you and another writer are alone in your conversation. If you are alone, or in a group setting, wait for everyone to post before you post again. (If that doesn't make sense, let me know, I'll try and re-word it. :P)
  4. If there are any issues with other players, plots, subplots, history, etc; just PM me or hit me up on the OOC. I may not be posting a ton, but I do check up every day!
  5. Post at least twice a week. I do most of my posting on the weekends. My weekdays are endless and when I finally get home, I just want to sleep. I am very understanding that others may go through the same thing. But please, once or twice a week is preferable.
  6. If any of these rules are broken, I will follow the "Three Strikes You're Out" policy. I will give a writer two chances, but by the third broken rule, I will have to remove you from the roleplay.
  7. As bossy as all these may sound, the one thing I want is for everyone to have fun!
  8. Last but not least, I do hold the right to change or add to these rules as I please. :D


Characterization: Advanced Plot: Advanced Depth: Advanced Style: Advanced Mechanics: Advanced Overall: Advanced
Tiko wrote:This RP hasn't progressed nearly enough to give it a truly in depth review, and so while I ranked it very highly, this ranking is based more on potential and good-faith than actuality at the moment. It has a good start with strongly drawn characters, an intriguing and clear plot, and a solid line-up of skilled writers. This RP has the potential to grow into something more, with time and dedication from its players. At the moment though, until it unfolds more, its future remains uncertain.

The Story So Far... Write a Post » as written by 7 authors

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Machai lifted his head when he heard Katarina stirring. His heart skipped a beat and all his hairs stood on end. When he saw that she was only waking up, he let out a silent sigh of relief and walked over to her bedside.

How long have I been out? Where’s Nike? Is she okay?” Machai lifted his hands up, a gesture to try and calm her and shook his head. She’d just had a very intense moment of recognition, of memories; not to mention all that had made her pass out. He was certain she wasn’t very strong at the moment. When she tried to stand, that was made evident by the instant paleness that came over her. She fell back against the bed, looking down at her hands. Something (he knew knew very well what) began to tremble around her. Machai could feel it in the air. Heat filling up the room. His skin grew a thin film of sweat and he shoved his fists into his pockets. He had to know it was coming, especially now that she’d seen him.

When she asked the question, not lifting her eyes to his, he felt like a sack of guilt. His joints were shame and his muscles deceit. Machai was well aware that he’d made the decision to allow her to follow, to expose her. His selfish need to protect her, the same he felt for the others and Nike, had wanted her to just go away. But he knew that she had to know… Why hadn’t he just said something? Why hadn’t Nike? Perhaps she wanted Kat to find out that way? There was no way of knowing.

The absent thought of her caused him to look over his shoulder as he made his way to sit on the bed beside Katarina. He could feel nothing from his Mother. Was she really alright?

Machai removed his hands and mimicked the same posture as Kat, feeling much the way she did, he thought. “Nike knew from the beginning. She told me when I was old enough to understand.” He drew in a deep breath, feeling scrutinized. Not by Kat, but by some other being he could not see in the room. It wasn’t normal for the Wolf Clan Chief to feel vulnerable but telling a young woman that he’d known the cause of her… angst, of her terrible reunion, wasn’t something Machai was really used to. Sitting there beside her, he realized he still had much to learn of what it took to be a man.

He stood up, moving toward a drawer within her chest of drawers. In one was a few first aid supplies. The air was so thick and hot, or was that just him? Returning to her side, he grabbed one of her hands and started to wipe the blood off.

“It’s gonna sting.” He spoke low. All they had were alcohol pads and he brushed them gently across her scrapes and sores. He still had more he wanted to say to her, but he was praying for a way to avoid the entire idea that he was their enemy. Machai didn’t want to drive that point home, it had made itself quite clear. He took out some gauze, as band aids wouldn’t stay on her knuckles anyway. Finally, he found the words he needed as he slowly wrapped the terribly thin, white fabric around her hand.

“I think Nike has tried to help him, to show him this way, but she cannot force him. He is not a Descendant the way you are. You may be twins, but you carry the weight of the Ancient Clans.” This time he tried to find her eyes. He just wanted to make sure that she would be okay. If he saw regret there… Machai wasn’t sure what he would do. How could you make someone fight the only flesh and blood they had left in the world?

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Another time, my love…

The words rang in her ears with all the attractiveness and melody of a symphony orchestra. The meaning of the words, for her ears alone, was not lost on the blonde mistress, and she reveled in them: envisioning that promised future moment in time when she and her lover would be standing over the mangled corpses of the pathetic descendants, their broken mother huddled in a corner somewhere. Defenseless. It would be then that the really unsavory bits would begin, as Sofia would be allowed to unleash her own venomous brand of torture on the self-proclaimed “Mother” until she was so utterly broken --mind, body, and soul-- that she could never again pose even the smallest threat to the Cruzzola and all they stood for.

The thought alone was enough to make Sofia’s body tingle with anticipation. That, coupled with the renewed attention of the father put Sofia in a much better mood.

Her flesh still burned with the heat of his lips, and her fingertips had been coaxed away from sharp objects. Sofia slid her injured hand down the Father’s arm as he walked away from her, turning his attention to other matters, but the touch was enough to intensify the ferocity in her demeanor almost instantly. On her own, she was a force to be reckoned with: as unpredictable as a hurricane and almost as deadly, but, joined with the Father, this highly evident quality was taken to a whole new level. Any trace of doubt or insecurity she may have felt in Nike’s presence had disappeared like ash in the wind. It was a thing of the past, not even worth remembering it have ever existed. She was the Father’s again, and everything was as it should be.

This phenomenon wasn’t surprising, for Sofia was the first to admit that the Father was her only hope for any semblance of meaning in her life. Who was she --who were any of them without him? After what he’d done to make them that way? They had to be beaten; to be broken, like a prized stallion, until the only voice they heard or command they followed was his. This was more true of Sofia than the rest. Some had given him their mind, blindly following his every command. Others gave their bodies as vehicles for the carrying out of his will. Still others gave both, but none of them had given their soul --the very fire that lit their being to him the way Sofia had. No one, not even the other’s who’d worn her shoes and filled his bed before her had been so molded to him. It was only natural that Sofia would find a special sort of power in him.

She looked back at Nike for the last time before leaving with a renewed sense of wonder. How could such a pathetically fragile woman hold so much power over her lover? It was astounding. How could she deserve to be his nemesis? Or even a blip in the back of his mind?

Sofia shrugged. It was of little consequence now, and Nike didn’t merit another thought on her part. She turned her back to her and followed the rest of the Cruzzola as they headed out. This meeting was finally over, and she could not help but feel a sense of relief that things which had been momentarily turned topsy-turvy were falling back into place. As she walked, her body moved with a renewed magnetism, and her eyes glimmered with sultry allure. She felt like herself again.

But one thing still puzzled her, namely, who that girl was, or, more accurately, who she was to Vincent. “I’m sure I would not know,” was his reply to her question. An unsurprising answer, considering the source, but still unsatisfying. Sofia could not help but watch the shaded eyes of her co-conspirator, looking for the truth behind his words or his demeanor, if indeed the words he spoke were not already the truth. It was not exactly that she cared, but her curiosity had been piqued. Something inside her wanted to know the answer to the interesting turn of events that had transpired when the girl, apparently called Katarina, had unceremoniously entered the room.

But, it seemed that she would have to let it go, for now. Perhaps all would be explained, and if not: well, Sofia had been known to amuse herself by pestering Vincent, from time to time.

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Lalita tapped her foot against the tile of her comrades floor, but she was suddenly tired of waiting. She wasn't an impatient person, but she was so curious that she simply turned silently and slipped away. She walked down the hallway, not hearing anything. It seemed everyone had settled.

She walked into Nike's chambers without knocking. She heard the closing of the elevator doors, but decided to dismiss it. Though she felt quite rude, she decided she must see what's going on. The only people in the room where Nike, a servant, and herself. Her high heels clanked against the floor, but instead of being comforted, she was disturbed. The sound was loud and broke the silence.

She looked at the servant who looked so panicked and then at Nike who looked like she was about to break down. It was a look that Lalita had seen reflected in the mirror many times throughout her childhood. She knows the creases that are simply in place to keep tears inside. The tears that would only come from feeling utterly alone. "Nike, are you okay?" Lalita, asked.

Lalita herself hated that question, but just barging in with advice for Mother Nature was stupid. Mother Nature knew everything and Lalita knew barely anything at all. She was only human. She wanted to help because she didn't want anyone to feel the way she had felt after her parents death.

"Can I help?" She asked, more to the room then to Nike. The silence was disturbing and she felt like her heart was going to break again. She suddenly wished that she had waited for the other two descendants to join her before she had made her way to Nike.

As for Delaney, she silently followed the other Cruzzola's as the walked out of the elevator and back into the New York air.

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“Nike knew from the beginning. She told me when I was old enough to understand.” Well, that made sense. Katarina doubted that much of anything escaped Mother Nature's knowledge, and she could also only imagine how terrible it must be to bear the burden of all that knowing, and yet be so unable to fix what you felt in your heart should be righted. That last bit was a pain that Kat suspected she would be coming to know very intimately in the near future. The young woman's eyes slid closed; she tried to focus on her breathing. The room was... warm. She had not noticed that before. She was not in the least uncomfortable, being extremely resilient to temperatures in both directions, but she wished it would cool down for Machai's sake.

For some reason, it did, and Katarina was puzzled enough that she almost did not feel the weight lift beside her as he moved. She did, though, and slightly-deadened eyes tracked his progress forwards, and then back again, though her mind was still elsewhere. She knew she had recognized Vincent, but had he known her? If so, he must have known for a while, to be so unaffected in the moment. Or maybe he was just stronger than she was. Heaven knew she was next to useless just then, and she was feeling guilty about that. What if they had decided to attack Nike? She would have been able to do nothing. Well, unless getting herself killed amounted to something.

"This is going to sting," Machai informed her kindly, and though she knew he was talking about the medical supplies he was carrying, she couldn't help but apply it to a larger set of circumstances anyway.

"Yes... I think it will," she replied underneath her breath, almost flinching when he took one of her hands. His were made of ice! Or was it just that hers were burning up? Actually, the latter was more likely. This had happened to Kat on more than one occasion in the past, usually when she was under stress. Her internal body temperature would spike horrendously; though it would never do her any harm, it tended to scare the wits out of doctors. She'd stopped seeing them a while ago because of such issues.

She sucked a breath in between her teeth as the antiseptic made contact with her skin, but overall it was nothing too horrible for someone who had suffered much worse inside a dojo. Machai was almost absurdly gentle about it, and Kat couldn't help but smile at the exaggerated care he took with her hands. She might not have been doing such a great job of showing it lately, but she really wasn't fragile in the slightest, no matter what she seemed. The gauze bandages secured into place, he seemed to search her for something. “I think Nike has tried to help him, to show him this way, but she cannot force him. He is not a Descendant the way you are. You may be twins, but you carry the weight of the Ancient Clans.”

"It's okay," she murmured. I know. I understand. I forgive you. If indeed there was ever anything that needed forgiving. Her brother was a Cruzzola. She had seen that plain as daylight on the water, and she could not deny the truth of it. It was true, that she saw something of herself mirrored in his face, and she knew she could never hate him. But at the same time, he had made a choice: to aid that man, the Father, in bringing Nike to her knees, in bringing humanity itself to ruin. And she... she could not allow that to happen, no matter what.

She knew, somewhere deep in her soul, that her brother was still inside that cold man somewhere. Kat resolved to herself right then and there that she would do whatever it took to find him, to bring him back. She knew she would not be able to kill him, but if she had to fight him to wake him up, she would do it with her head held high and everything she had to give. Half-measures and reservations had never made any sense to Katarina- all she had lacked was a purpose, a goal to drive towards with all her will. Now that she had one, there was no turning back. She touched her bandaged knuckles carefully, feeling that the pain there was already reduced. "Thank you," she said simply, and just like that, her cheeriness was back. If it was tinged with just a little more painful knowledge, nobody would have to know.

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The Father turned his back on the suffocating light, fell back into his staccato rhythm that dispersed around him like a gloomy veil. His cadence resounded with the baritone clicks of his heels slapping against linoleum floors; click clack click clack. Crocodile skin—but oh, how he'd like to replace them with that Shark's skin, decorated with the Snake's scales—they shimmered and shined just as brightly as Nike's sickening aura. Her voice still created a racket in his head, colliding with his subconscious with such force he had to shake his head. It did nothing to free his thoughts. Nike was the festering thorn in his side, reminding him that he was just a powerless lion at the mercy of the snickering mouse. Sure, it might have been him who'd started the war. It might've been him that raked his metaphorical fingers across the Earth, sweeping pain and agony across the seas, skies and lands; all for humanity, wasn't it? The God's had asked for equality and balance, an equilibrium that he couldn't quite grasp. His former best friend, confidant, and companion had left him empty-handed. She offered no comfort. She rose above him in all of her righteousness and claimed to be a charitable woman; devoted to bringing the greater good to humanity, and in doing so, leaving him gasping like a blundering child. Back when he might've welcomed her soothing touches, he felt like he was clinging to her skirt tails, chasing after a future that he could no possible attain. God had chosen him for another role. God had dealt him the rawest cards, and they hadn't even asked him.

No, they hadn't even asked.

His slender fingers tightened on Vincent's strong shoulder, giving one final squeeze before releasing him. The Father's eyes did not meet his ardent servants'. “She deceives you with her whispers,” He rasped quietly, staring distantly ahead of them. What truths had Nike planted in the boy? He couldn't be sure. Sometimes, as much as they were connected, their whispers were only hushed undertones. Hardly discernible, and wholly important. He felt no need to question Vincent. For now, there were no threats of betrayal. Those colourful annotations would soon disappear; the longer one lingered in his company, the sooner they were prone to forgetting anything that once mattered to them. It was an unfortunate gift that had been handed to him, a certain ability he wasn't afraid of abusing. The Father frowned, his mouth numb with unease, swallowing his own past with every breath. Vincent was a lost sheep, wadding through empty fields—he would make sure that's where he remained. If it meant severing his ties with Katrina, the Father would target the young girl. Though he might've argued otherwise, the indifferent man was in-disposable. “Katrina. We will discuss that later, if you wish.”

Whether or not they discussed it was entirely up to Vincent, and even that was unlikely. Vincent never seemed interested in conversation. He followed orders as obediently as a well-trained hound, asking for nothing in return and only giving what was asked. The Father couldn't have asked for a better vessel, but felt nothing for the blonde. Whereas mortal men might've felt a benevolent pride, the Father only saw an empty cup, filled with his own desires and goals. He could fill it with whatever he wished, and empty it whenever it served it's purpose. Nothing more, nothing less. Vincent seemed to understand this concept, and took it in apathetic strides. To build such a supercilious figure would normally take years of harsh conditions and reprogramming, but with his adulterate abilities he was able to shorten that time considerably and mould him into the perfect neophyte. No questions were asked, and no tears were shed—at least, not anymore. Any amount of curiosity died along with Vincent's ten-year-old self; any danger the Father might've felt, died along with it.

Sofia paraded ahead of them, matching his own electric cadence with her own. The Father watched her with modest interest, watched as her hips swayed with each step, and her bleeding fingers linger steadily near the hilt of her gleaming blade. It was always kept sharp, he'd often awoken to see her sharpening the blade against whet stones. He would have argued if anyone had told him it was as sharp as her tongue—she was always sharper, and more clever, than the blade she wielded. He wanted to devour her rekindled energy, and infect her mind with catastrophic songs. Nothing like the lustrous righteousness poisoning his mind. He resisted the urge to clasp his head, to push that feeble woman out. It was all for naught. Even if Nike was huddled at her beside, blind and fatigued and dying, he would still be hounded with her wilful thoughts. Her steely determination was something he couldn't simply ignore, because he'd tried it before. To sever their ties, he'd have to end his own life. The Father was far too selfish and greedy to turn to such drastic measures, but he'd threaten the Descendants with such threats if it came down to that. With two long strides, the Father was sweeping beside Sofia. His fingers wrapped around her bleeding hand, covering the gash across her palm.

“You—I promise—will receive the honour of bringing Mother Nature to her knees.” The Father whispered, bringing her palm to his face. He guided her warm fingers against the underside of his jaw, smearing crimson blood beneath his chin and across his jawline. It was a ghastly gesture, but he seemed to make it so alluring, so captivating. Anyone witnessing the action might have dismissed it was affectionate, even if their subconscious was screaming: something's wrong, something's wrong. The Father made even the most horrific gestures, actions, or decisions plausible—he made them acceptable.

The Cruzzola group entered the elevator, which seemed far more cramped than it was before. The Father's silence hung heavy in the air, providing little room to breathe and little room for small talk. Thankfully, no one seemed particularly interested in speaking. Even Delaney seemed unusually quiet. A small smile played across his feminine features, and his high dimples stapled his cheeks. He could smell Sofia's metallic blood; sweet and sultry, a perfect concoction. With a lazy wheeze, the elevator doors hissed open and he lead them out. However, he paused near the doorway and allowed the elevator to close behind them. “A gift, my old friend,” The Father finally spoke, a hint of bitterness underlying his normally tranquil words.

His deft fingers slipped across Sofia's hip, catching hold of the hilt of her dagger, and throwing it skillfully in the air. The Father caught it between two fingers, with a solemn frown playing on his features. “Wesley awaits near the curb,” He added, never taking his eyes off of the elevator door. Without another word, the Father sliced a fine stroke across both of his palms. He dipped two fingers across his left palm, marking his forehead with balletic motions. An artist at work; creating something far more sinister than a fanciful painting. From my rotting body, flowers shall grow and I am in them and that is eternity. He placed his hands flat against the chilled metal, forming two smeared hand prints and began writing Hebrew letters above and below them, stopping every now and again to dip his fingers. His mismatched eyes closed tightly, and he seemed to be whispering something under his breath. When he was finished, the Father kissed his fingers and swiped them across the middle of his depiction.

“I have nothing I can give... I remember you saying that once.” The Father lilted, hacking and coughing against his bleeding fist. His throat was beginning to irritate him. He turned away from the elevator and stalked past them, heading directly towards the parked black Sedan lingering beneath the lamp lights. He'd placed a moderate curse on the building; something more like an allocated blasphemy; without the plague, sky raining frogs and locusts devouring the land. With the Descendants doubting and curious, it was the perfect thing to afflict them—deep sorrows, and past lives. It would resurface their greatest fears, nightmares, and failures and integrate them with the present situation. It would make their subconscious doubt Nike, veil them with dark clouds and fill their dreams with agony. If only for awhile.

It would make them hurt.

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It was quite the endeavor trying to avenge something so minor as the Mother played mentalist to his senses. Watching the ocean farer draw herself upright in response was a surreal experience, like seeing a ravaged ship mend itself with gauze; she had stirred moments before, as disoriented as he, and recovered just as quickly, but he could not deny how Yani wavered. He knew that she, too, could not deny it, even if she would rather whistle idly through the spaces in her teeth than shun her pride for him. Her strut--no, it was not a strut, neither was it a waddle, but something akin to a panther's stride if said panther was unafraid to dampen its coat. Sleep was no longer an option—and neither were verbal replies, apparently. He stood tensed and braced, fingers gripped round a knife that wasn't on hand. And still Her call reverberated through him, top priority. Quite the endeavor indeed.

"I'll..." Eloquence at its finest. Weary eyes observed her, searched her, lacking the light of malicious intent. It was the Eleanor Rigby all over again, this, with her lonely people no longer in the brood of carnival horses, and dire lyrics coaxed out into the open, swirling about to consume them like shadows to light. Nike sang, her song an elegy. Could he sing alongside her--like a bird? No, but he could spout profanities like a geyser with bad timing. He could also lose this bout of wallet polo to a shark (though playing with such an animal was no small feat). To her repeated inquiry, he said, "I'll hang ya from yer bandana," and immediately regretted it, finding it daft beyond all measure. Still, he persisted: "I'll waltz you round the cashew bush. What d'ya expect? Just give me my goddamn--"

Cut short, hung to dry, he snatched the leather, seething, as it came within reach, and the resolve did little to lessen the burn. Two to nothing in the span of hours. Was he some kind of ponce? He seethed, brows furrowed, and was quite ready to do a bit of shanking as she slipped past him, but he decided against it at her invitation. So the feeling, all sharp calls and pangs, was mutual. How disconcerting and reassuring at once. To believe? No use in doubting it now.

Under normal circumstances, a man would not be averse to standing in the company of two young, charismatic women. Noah, however, was such a man, and his instincts as bird were quick to direct him away from the snake and the sea dog. Such predators always cramped his style, or lack thereof. He had prepared to take the Shark's heed when Lalita arrived, heels announcing her arrival, and he took meek steps away from them, acknowledging the latter with his politest grunt. As she spoke, it nearly came as a welcomed surprise that the matter at hand was not of cawfee, but of the Mother, her distress, her frantic, textured strokes across unsanded canvases. It was enough to both tether him, to ground him, and to bring about the urge to propel himself forward, never hesitating as he went. Surely they must have felt the ebb and flow as Nike grew despondent, the presences that drew her to heights equally great and small, invigorated her, tainted her. He basked in this for a while, this... consideration of other selves. Some folks called this empathy; whether this would become a burden in the end, he wasn't quite sure.

Before he knew it, the Snake Descendant answered the call. And he followed. He was not as begrudging this time, sans vehement glares at Yani, nor was he as suspect.

Noah stood beside his fellow clan heir in the ancient chambers, and where the otherworldly woman had once been raised up, she was fallen once again. The horror of deep concern did not reveal itself on his countenance but thundered within him, a near-fatal blow that threatened to drag him from his impassive perch. How sobering was such a display that turned strength into weakness. From this point onward, it was a sight he would never forget--an impulse telling him to reach out, yet keeping him steady in the fear of what a mere touch would do to her fragile bones.

"What's happened to her?" His voice was level. He had the faintest hope in them all; if she could once beam so brightly in their gathering, then she had another chance at achieving her celestial state. Machai's absence struck him as unusual, but, knowing the passion of the man, he was certain to have an excuse.

An inkling redirected his attention. It was uncertainty come about to feed on her sorrow, to feed on them, and in the midst of things, the colors of the world faded to gray.

She had a nice smile, a warm smile. Her cheeks flushed red, but he knew better than to blame this on wintry affairs. His music moved her, she said, sent troubles and woes amiss, made her high as a kite with no evidence of acidic side effects. Fancy her youthful, redheaded self finding him here on the curb, turning wilted solitude into a flower in bloom. That was swell.

Nights like these made him feel very, very old.

The reflection in the car window had seen better days. It had seen days when that curve of the mouth wasn't so forced, them eyes so dull, and that single strand of hair so out of place. Nights like these made him cringe at the whispering commands and the scarred throat from whence they came, at the very hand that guided souls down cursed paths. Truly, he was not so old--a little worn, bent, and bruised for certain--but one was hard pressed to say otherwise on nights like these. If the patriarch would rather present a child to the adversary, well, damn, at least he had this here cigarette.

On second thought, Delaney was more than capable of fueling nightmares than he could ever hope to do. All hail the Father, bastard of bastards, king of kings.

And Wesley was not as envious or bitter as he was content. Without the apprehensive air from their passage, he stood languidly against the sedan, smoke unfurling from his lips. Her laughter was hi-hat, his heartbeat bass. When breezes furled about them, he took careful steps toward her, quiet steps that guided him round the sleek metal between them, closed the negative space and invited her to share his peacoat. But he drew back then, as if her fingers were the fangs of a cobra's maw. Sentiment caused him to tremble. It was a sense he never failed to answer, one there was little use in guessing who emanated the source. They broke apart, he glanced back, and he accepted truth.

"You should get along now," he said, and he couldn't hide the maudlin tone.

By now, she understood. She had no business in not understanding. She resumed the role of a passerby, vanishing into the moonlit crowd as if she were never there at all. Wes would not see her again.

He idled there momentarily, and it took inward breaths to convince himself to face the gang of ravaged souls. All formed up so neat, so perfect and yellow-haired. He took a harsh drag on his cigarette, and he swore he saw poison in the smoke trails. Pure evil, that was, and yet he still bowed deeply before it.

"Made a kind statement, did you, Boss?"

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Like the sea, Yani seemed to retreat into herself and sighed, long and hard. Breathless with her whale-sized rashness, even she couldn't help but feel like the ocean was claiming her, dragging her towards the only gravitating force that held them all. Within Mother Nature's gentile, guiding palms, she felt like she should grab Lalita and Noah's wrists and pull them inside of Nike's chambers, if only to hear her enchanting concerto. Her mouth formed a tight, indecisive line that suddenly twisted into a sharp scowl; who had hurt her so? No—who could hurt her, with all of her kindness and hopes and dreams filling them up like that, who could possibly hurt her? Nike felt like home. She was vast, seemingly endless, with a beauty so wild and intoxicating that she couldn't possibly believe her to be frail; even if her skeletal fingers and shallow cheekbones told otherwise, even if she admitted that her powers were withering. Teeming with life, it was all Yani could do to cling onto shore and reach some kind of conclusion; and yet, she stood along side her fellow descendants with dubious hesitation. She had to continuously remind herself that she couldn't feel the grating, warm sand squishing between her toes, and the hooting gulls weren't crying in her ears—but even then, Nike's hold on her was true and genuine and so complete, it made her feel like she was beside the ocean.

Noah's drawling voice caught her by the ears, dragged her back to the ornately decorated hallway with all of those historic paintings and vases displayed only for them. Her eyes locked with his and she'd suddenly forgotten what they'd been taking about, what the previous small confrontation had been. The small bird fluttered before her, puffing out his chest as if searching for a means of looking bigger and more intimidating than he could possibly become. Halfway between a proud sea hawk and a preened bluejay, the Avian descendant didn't shy away from her diligent gaze. Hadn't he just threatened to hang her from her bandana two seconds ago? Her eyebrows knit, agonized by the magnetic pull that begged her to carry herself into the next room—though, she didn't want to admit to this urgency. Nike's berating melody sounded like the most beautiful, lamenting wolf howling of it's sadness. It was hypnotizing. Whatever slight Noah felt was melting as quickly as her resolve, and she found herself wanting to apologize; for what? Stealing his wallet was never initially a malicious act. It was just how she was—once a thief, always a thief, wasn't that how it went? A jest of sorts. Her mouth hung open for a moment, searching for words that made little sense above the loud, clamorous music thrumming in her mind. “Sorry. Let's go,” Yani spluttered, less conviction and wholly forced; a pinch of genuineness, if you squinted hard enough.

Heels slapping against the linoleum floor announced the Snake's entrance, and Yani had to look in her direction. All charisma and mystery, the Shark Descendant had already decided that she liked the alluring woman. Perhaps it was because she constantly surrounded herself around burly men, and was unused to seeing other females. Sometimes, she hardly considered herself a woman; strip herself of those curves, long eyelashes and purring accent, and she was little more than a brash young man striking out to port. “Yer' right, Lali,” The Shark Descendant finally lilted, her voice suddenly drained. She exchanged a knowing look, nodded her head in agreement. Her bottled ship-heart sang when Lalita suggested that they seek out Nike, and make sure that the commotion was nothing but simple commotion. She knew better than that, she knew that it wasn't simple. Nothing was going to be simple anymore. Frantic emotions hurtled forward, though she controlled her swaggering steps and allowed Lalita to take the lead, lingering a few paces behind the fluttering bird. Waves hungry and full-belied slapped against the rocks, she couldn't even muster to return any seething glares back in Noah's direction. She stared straight ahead, her expression as solemn as a sharks. Nike's blow felt like all the strength had been sapped from her, as if the sun had somehow dipped beneath the clouds and they were left with an ugly darkness.

Yani followed without another word, trying her best not to clamber ahead of them. Where had the sudden happiness gone—it was as if all the beauty in the world had gone—, disappeared and drained. Her bright eyes dissolved in the pulse of the ocean, pressing into monotone, blind shells and all that was left of the fire was smouldering ash. Her fierceness was soft; weak but strong enough to penetrate rock and more importantly, their hearts. Now, Yani's heart sang for her, reached out and wrapped itself around Nike's feet, if only to comfort her. As Lalita and Noah lingered near the doorway, Yani couldn't help but fumble forward, legs suddenly weak from a hammering grief she was sure everyone could feel. A quiet whoosh of elevator doors, and the solemn emptiness followed it; it wasn't important.

Anxious servants surrounded Nike, anguishing and coddling and whispering words in hushed undertones. In spite of all of her strength and reckless endeavors, her lip quivered. Foolish she may be, but she believed in displaying her emotions openly. Nike's creased eyes bellied her concern, and Yani found herself kneeling next to her, calloused hand lingering softly on her forearm. She wanted to repeat Lalita's question; what could they do to comfort this woman, whose sadness weighed the world down? She understood what true loneliness felt like. She understood what it meant to grow up without a family, and what it felt like to build your own reason for living; she understood that so much that it hurt. She couldn't possibly understand what this felt like, though. A responsibility so great, it was devastating.

Machai was nowhere to be found, and that in itself was confusing. The Shark Descendant's expression soured, bared back protectively against a force she could not understand. How could she protect this woman, and better yet, how could any of them? Her light was what decided their fates, and she'd be damned to believe that any of them doubted the story. Even she, asking her questions about Humanity, had already placed her fealty in the frail woman, because she believed. She believed in something. “They came here, didn't they?” Her voice wasn't as calm as the sea anymore, it rose and fell like a tsunami, threatening to destroy whatever threatened Mother Nature.

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What had they become? Who was she seeing at these tense meetings? The atmosphere would fill up with histories best forgotten. But how did one forget the best times? Times when she could look at him and see happiness. All she could see in him now was darkness and it was beginning to bleed into her soul. They had been like one soul. Friends until the end of time, forever linked by their love. Now the only thing that linked them together was the fate of those who chose him to be her opposite in all things worldly. His greed and envy were swallowing her children whole. She was twisting and falling down a crevice where she could grab no hold.

Until there voices. Their presences filled her up and she squeezed the hand of her loyal friend, Laura. The woman was strong and had been in Nike’s service for a very long time, but the power the Descendants had over her was insurmountable. They tugged at her heartstrings, causing her a peace she could drift away in. They gave her dreams of hope just by standing there in the doorway. Their voices, dripping with concern and confusion, filled her up and she lifted her head, the tears still rolling down her cheeks. Three of them, standing beautifully in the doorway. Standing unsure and still filled with questions. How magnificent. How truly wise they all were, without even knowing it. The dark crevice she’d been tumbling down suddenly produced something to grip onto and she was stopped in the fall. Above her shone the sun and she smiled through her tears.

Yani, in all her thundering waves and roiling seas, knelt before Nike and left her hand to fall upon Nike’s skin. She was so warm and Nike had to return the touch with her own. Her tiny fingers fished over Yani’s cheek and she smiled sadly down at the young Shark. Her eyes, white, unseeing and yet all-seeing, searched out for the others and waved them to come. Laura had already removed herself, smiling quietly. This is what they’d all been waiting for. The rise of the Clans at Mother Nature’s side. Humanity had a chance. The dreams of all Mankind were reachable. Love was still a possibility and happiness was just beyond the horizon.

Yes, she answered the question softly through their minds. She was still weak and so the voice was quiet, barely brushing over their psyches. Machai and Katarina were speaking softly in her room. She would leave them be for now. Machai had more than just the Mother to take care of now. His responsibility had grown with the presence of four very great people. Nike would not have him worrying over her. She had her children with her now and that was comfort enough.

They have made it very clear, to us all, that this battle will continue. The Father’s power-hungry grip is closing in on the world. He will not let it go without force. Her hand was resting gently on Yani’s shoulder and she wished desperately that she could feel the fabric that lay their against her skin.

Something deep, dark, rendering filled her up with a sudden force that it knocked the breath from her lungs. A hurricane of hatred, blood, and one’s worst nightmares filled her up from toe to tip and she was frozen up in her chair. Her eyes remained wide in their sockets, her muscles unmoving and pale. It was almost as if she were suspended in a time where she could relive her worst memories. How many of them she had… Her worst memory… Losing him. Her greatest fear… Losing to him.

As he was putting the bandages away, the room suddenly became cooler and the wolf felt like he could take deeper breaths. The sweat on his skin began to dry up with the cool breeze and Machai was suddenly reminded of her heritage. She’d become the Descendant of the Dragon Clan. How could he have looked that over? Machai laughed inwardly at himself and shook his head. Of course. She was emotionally distressed and the room grew hot with the sadness and the realization that she’d been kept from a very important bit of information.

He walked back over to Katarina and stood in front of her, unable to make out if that smile was all unreal happiness? Or would the tinge of sadness he saw behind her eyes ever go away? It was obvious she didn’t want to talk anymore of it and so Machai nodded and stepped back from her.

“You are truly the Dragon Clan's heir,” he murmured and then looked over his shoulder. He felt like he should go back and check on his Mother… No; on their Mother. Katarina was okay now and so his duty was completed. Not that he’d felt like it had been a job. Katarina was important and he had to protect them all. If he could comfort them, he would. Something about them, though, begged that they really didn’t need his comfort. At least Katarina accepted his need to try.

“I will return to Nike now.” He announced and bowed at the waist to her. Machai couldn’t help but smile awkwardly at the red head. She was certainly a different kind of person, one he’d never encountered before. He couldn’t help but really like that about her. “If you need anything, just call for me, or I’m sure someone will be around to help. We are not short on help.” With that, he turned and began to head out of her room.

The smell was unforgettable and very, very well known the Wolf Clan Chief. Blood. Inhuman blood. It was faint, which meant it was at a distance, but he could only imagine who it belonged to. His hair bristled and his muscles tensed under his jacket. Deft fingers reached for the bowie at his back and he unsheathed it with dexterity and intent. His boots carried him down a hallway that was familiar to him. Machai knew the place like the back of his hand. Katarina’s room was just behind him on the left; his own room back a bit farther than her own and on the right. He’d grown up in that room. Practiced there, drew there, prayed there, cried there… All his life was in that room, in this building. Owned by a mysterious company that held Nike’s cause in a very high regard and provided them with all hey needed. No one knew their names, affiliations or even if they were humans. Nike knew. That was all they needed.

But something about this hallway irked the Wolf. His nose could smell the blood. It would never go away now that he smelled it. Machai would track it, find it, destroy it. He would protect them all. His calloused fingers tightened around the worn hilt of his father’s knife. The air wasn’t right? No, it was the way the carpet felt under the soles of his boots. Machai looked down and saw normal carpets. Everything was the same, so he continued on walking. Walking until he came to her room. He would walk for all time if he had to, to get to Nike. She was his world, his sun, the force that kept him going.

She seemed so far away, though.

The blood smell was still thick in his nose. Nike was still just out of reach. He was still walking. How long would it take to get to her? Machai didn’t care. He would keep walking until he died or reached her. Something, though, was still very wrong. There was a missing piece. He couldn’t put his finger on it. And where in the hell was the end of this god forsaken hallway?

There was a snap in his mind and he stopped, stuck at the T-shaped intersection of their hallway. Had he just been standing there?

Machai… Nike! He wanted to move to her, but he couldn’t.

Burn it down… Machai smelled the blood still and closed his eyes, hoping to find its origin. ‘Burn it down‘? A seal? What was it? The Father’s doing? He couldn’t find where it was coming from. He growled and opened his eyes, trying to look everywhere.

“Katarina!” He yelled down the hall, trying desperately to moved his feet but feeling nothing budge. The hallucination hadn’t lasted long enough, but there was always a back up plan with these blasted curses. If Katarina was still unfazed by whatever was gripping them, he had to depend on her to help them. But how could she help if he couldn’t find the damned thing! Her power was already apparent to him. Machai just had to get her to concentrate all that heat in one place.

Burn it down. The smell was too thick in his nostrils and he had to shake his head, trying to refocus. The smell was like a little broken thread and he had to follow the pieces of it through the hallways. He could smell the ocean on Yani’s skin and the Bush on Noah’s jacket. Lalita’s distinct perfume was like flowers in spring and Nike’s natural scent like innocence and warm sunlight. Beyond them, though, lay the death. The blood upon the door. The curse upon the house.

Found it, you bastard.

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Though he offered to provide her with further assistance, or to send someone else to do the same, Kat knew it was not an offer she would be taking advantage of in any capacity. She was not the sort to wish a burden upon anyone else, least of all if she constituted that burden herself. Machai had Nike to tend to, and dutiful as he was, it would be hard for him to do anything else simultaneously. The others were in just the same position as she was, and she had no right to lean on any of them, nor the staff that knew nothing of her save perhaps more of her identity than she ever had.

This was not so bad. Katarina had been alone for most of her recollected life. She stood solitary as the lighthouse on the shore, and maybe someday soon she would be able to say that she lived up to the purpose of one: perhaps, perhaps she would be able to guide just one lost soul to safer harbors.

The flawless guardian, the exemplar of a sentinel at the gates, departed with a smile which she returned, turning his back to her and returning to the side of the Mother of them all, just as it should be. His footsteps echoed down the hallway, and Kat, never one to laze about when there was thinking to be done, made to stand again, pleasantly surprised when she proved to be capable of just that this time. It was as though she had never felt weak at all, and she circled her room a few times, trying to decide what exactly she should do.

She thought to visit Nike, as something about the encounter played ill chords on her mind even now. Perhaps the the woman who was at once a pillar of strength constructed of naught but paper needed to understand that she had done no wrong in Katarina's eyes? It was almost impossible to imagine that such a one could need what humble validation she could provide; maybe it was simply that Kat needed to know that she knew it, just in case. She had reached the door frame, hovering in it for a second, when she recoiled as if struck.

Her fingers tightened on the wooden frame, and Kat's breath left her in a near-silent gust. This feeling... it was so much like earlier, as though she were being destroyed from the inside. This time, though, the foreign presence was on the offensive, and it left her reeling. It felt as though something were clawing it's way through her mind with wicked talons, and she cringed with pain not physical but no less real for it. Old memories, old demons, were dragged to the surface, and she wondered at the fact that her thoughts were not her own.

She saw the meeting room at her orphanage, where she sat, small and unimportant, across from one or two people, faceless, always faceless, because the faces always changed and never wore the one expression she always wanted to see. Plain faces, beautiful ones, harsh of angle or round of slope. At first, all of them were beautiful to her, because all of them gave her hope that even if her parents were gone, there was still someone out there in the world that wanted her. Eventually, though, she came to see nothing in them at all.

At first, she had blamed herself, assumed that there must be something very wrong with her, that nobody wished to bring her home with them. Then, she had thought that maybe the fault lay with them, but that had never really stuck. She thought she had laid all of it to rest when she emancipated herself, but apparently, this was not so, not if the pain she felt now was anything to go by. Whatever was digging through her mind right now seemed to find perverse delight in this, and she shook her head harshly. No. It was purposeless to allow these thoughts to consume her. What was past was past. she had promised herself that she would not dwell upon it. Looking back only makes you slower when you try to move forward.

"Katarina!" the voice chased away the vestiges of her reverie, and her head snapped to the source. Though she still felt horrid and useless and miserable, as she had so many times before, she ignored it and moved towards the speaker- Machai, she realized belatedly. He was standing at the end of the hall, unmoving, though she knew not why.

"Machai? What's wrong? Why does it feel like something-" she cut herself off, deciding it was unimportant. He did not look well, and she laid a cautious hand on his shoulder. Beyond where the two of them were standing, she could see the others assembled before Nike through the open doorway. The feeling of wrongness had only increased as she got closer, and now she was positive it wasn't only her. She wanted to do something, but she didn't know what. "You have to tell me what to do, otherwise I can't help." The realization was a bit disconcerting, and her entire body thrummed with the need to act, but to do so without thought risked more harm than good.

Vincent ignored the Father, choosing instead to focus on nothing in particular, to allow the sharp, trained mind to drift amongst half-remembered recollections and inconsequential emotions so diluted they might as well have belonged to a dead man. In a sense, they did. The man they ought to have belonged to was gone and buried long before he'd had the chance to me a man at all. In his place stood the ghastly spectre of Death, not horrid for all the sharp angles or gaunt visages in the world, but because he looked so much like Life. Sun-gold locks, eyes the color of a thunderous dawn with the promise of warm, invigorating rain, tall to be noticed and built to be appreciated at the very least.

Death should not look so alive.

The same in a sense was true of each of them. Each invoked in some measure a quality of vibrancy, of activity, of miraculousness. It was a sick and twisted irony that it should be so, while the Descendants muddled and wallowed in uncertainty, confusion, and despair. But the Father had always been fond of irony, the more dramatic, the better. It was a tendency not entirely lost on Vincent.

His mind was disquiet. The words he did not mind whispered balmed platitudes and salved assurances, as a dog licking its wounds, but such things the son heeded no more than he would anything else. He knew the Father was wounded, too, though he could not yet discern why. His eyes did not miss much, his ears less. There were layers of meaning underlying the words the two had spoken to each other, and there was no mistaking that.

Perhaps if Vincent had been more inclined to gain an advantage over his patriarch or his brethren, he would have been more dangerous than any of them in more ways than one. But he did not indulge in their fickle, petty games, and he did not attempt to gain knowledge of them that he did not need. He was a blank slate, a tabula rasa, fit to be manipulated as his master saw fit and of a disposition to allow everything else to fall away. The thing that none of them understood was that he knew this, and consciously chose to accept it. He could be otherwise, he supposed, he just felt no inclination to be.

And that was where each and every one had misconstrued him. It would seem he was no less fond of irony than the man who had brought him up, that all of those who thought they knew better than he just what he was knew so little at all. But so it went.

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Actually, this was turning out to be a perfectly lovely evening. With the feeble woman who somehow, inexplicably plagued the mind of her lover, and her sad little band of misfits behind them, for now, Sofia felt that she could breathe easier. Thank goodness. She was never one to be plagued with unrest or self-doubt like so many of the countless, pathetic humans that Nike was so intent on saving. No, confidence and control had always come naturally to the blonde beauty. But, in that room, in that bar-less prison so hot with Nike’s stifling presence, she had felt herself flounder. It was a foreign feeling, and one she’d taken an intense and immediate disliking to. If there was one thing she could take away from this encounter, it would be the promise that she’d never again allow herself to be caught so wholly off-guard. No; never again.

As they reached the elevator, the Father stopped to take her hand and run it across the length of his own face. He made a promise to her, in that moment, and it seemed as if he sealed it with blood; her own blood, and Sofia did not doubt him. Each word he spoke seemed like its own promise--a truth within itself. She had his words, his promise that she would be the one to bring Nike to her knees. She imagined standing over the frail figure as she begged for her life to be spared. What a delicious contradiction that would be: the mother and protector of the human race begging for her own life. Sofia relished the thought.

She found herself wondering if her need, her hunger to spill Nike’s blood had anything to do with the fear that she owned a part of the Father which Sofia could never hope to know. If he could be possessed by anyone, she wanted it to be her and her alone who had that privilege. She could not stomach sharing him with anyone else, though the knowledge that he’d had countless lovers before her was always at the back of her mind. It had never mattered before because when he was with her, he was with her and no one else. That belief was now threatened. She knew now that even in their most intimate moments, Sofia would be wondering whether the look in his eyes was truly for her, or if he had the other woman on his mind. Sofia would see blood seeping from Nike’s fragile body for the small inkling of doubt which she had managed to put in her head. She would teach her to feel pain in ways she’d never dreamed she could; even in her darkest nightmares.

…at least she had that to look forward to.

Even the night seemed to echo her newfound good humor. The stars sparkled like silver ribbons in the rapidly darkening sky, and a sultry smell hung in the chill of the air. Of course, Sofia had never been one to care about such things. “Wesley awaits near the curb,” said the Father, and he hung back at the elevator. It was a dismissal, she knew. He had something to do which didn’t require their presence. Sofia walked away, as she was bid, but she walked slowly, and she didn’t go far. Every step she took further from the Father was a physical ache to her body. If she couldn’t be near him, if her hands couldn’t be on him, she would always stay close at the very least. She watched him place the curse on the elevator doors, and she smiled. That would send them reeling into darkness, and the darkness was just where they needed to be.

When the Father was finished, he walked determinedly away from the building, and with every step he took, he seemed to become more himself again. To Sofia, it was as if the building which Nike called her home cast a spell over him; a curse, and the further away from it he strode, the more its grip slackened. The thought that anything or anyone could have such power over her lover still made her mind reel, and she hated Nike all the more for it.

As the Father walked passed her, she hurried to match his stride, slipping her hand into his, their now matching wounds meeting and their crimson blood combining. It hadn’t been the first time their blood had flown together in this way, but the thought, the feeling lit a fire of desire in Sofia all the same. She wanted him so profoundly that words were difficult to find. Now was neither the time nor the place, however. Even Sofia knew her limits, and there would be time for such things later. For now, she walked with him to the curb, the two of them leading their sick little family to the waiting car. The sight would surely have been endearing to onlookers who knew no better.

As promised, Wesley waited faithfully--or perhaps spitefully--by the car parked on the curb. “Made a kind statement, did you, Boss?” he asked. Sofia winked at him before slipping fluidly into the sedan. She had never minded the oldest member of the Father’s recruits, but, then again, she’d never given him much thought of any kind. She had never puzzled over him like she had Vincent, and there was no bitter rivalry between them as there was between her and Delaney. He was just another faceless cog in the machine; a ghost of a man whose chance to be anyone of greater substance had passed him by, it seemed. He was there, nonetheless, and Sofia might as well amuse herself with him. Times like these could get very dull if one didn’t find ways to amuse oneself.

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The Father's expression seemed pleased. He was the entirety of human error, collecting everyone's sins and displaying them behind polished glass and brass pedestals. He would force them to look down onto their own works of terrible, terrible art and watch from above, inherently aware that he was shepherding them to their own demise. It was a pitiful game he played, pitting humans against their brethren and slinking back into the darkness so he could pose as an innocent bystander. His existence was merely circumstantial, hardly perceived, and largely ignored. A puppet master toying beneath hidden agendas, concealed with imponderable strings, and never recognized for any of his execrable efforts. There would be no billboards or wanted posters displaying his feminine features; there would be no tales of the most revolting, spiteful creature infecting Humanity with its' poison; there would be no truth among the irreparable war stories that would be told. As far as they knew, the tragedy would be wholly blamed on Humanity's weakness, and its' inhabitants greed. They were evil. They'd have sunk so far down that they'd cling and grab, claw and bite, tear and rip, to reach the tops again—all for what? Family, friends, or the tendrils of humanity that they'd desperately adhere to – it didn't matter. Whatever happened, it would end their existences and he would carry on as if nothing had happened.

Mortal fools could only nurse their cuts so much, and lick the salt from their wounds. The Father understood how far weakness seeded itself, digging it's cold fingers and maintaining itself in the bellies of exhausted men. This place of war and destruction where the selfish thrive, and do-gooders die under the weight of responsibility and ignorance, the Father would continue his tyrannical reign. Greedy men were quick and eager to throw away their morals for superior supremacy. They wanted nothing more than the power that was at hand, only a few inches from their grasps. It was a beautiful sight watching the exhausted try to fight such evils, and watch them drag their bedraggled bodies across the hands; hope was fading, and his crooked fingers buried holes into their hearts. He would watch their pathetic hands raise towards the sky, cloudy eyes searching for false hopes and assistance that would never come, as he drowned their world with blood and death and agony. The immense ball of light hanging ripe in the sky would fade and die, offering nature nothing but drought. The Father would tear the entire world down to its' knees in search of his own personal reprieve. It would bend and break, it would bring him his own happiness.

Darkness. It was an old friend, always there, and always waiting. Wesley was very unlike the darkness, yet he bowed without hesitation, relishing in the comforts the Father offered. The time-weary man was the only likelihood to a friend the Father might've had – he'd been there for ages, and years, staying by his side when he'd performed his most atrocious deeds. He'd also been there when he suffered his life-threatening injury to his throat, and tended to his needs when he was bedridden. In all accords, the Father wasn't invincible, neither was he immortal. He was an essence of sublime, exponential evil. Whenever he breathed, it stunk of poison and noxious immorality. Yes—the Father had seen the morose woman tailing away into the darkness, pretending as if she'd gone on a nightly stroll. His eyes were as keen as a hawks, and his intelligence and wits even more so. The fashionable dressed man regarded his old companion between lidded eyes, slowly drawing his sleeve up so that he could wipe the slathered blood from his face. It stained his sleeves, though he took no notice. Sofia's blood mingled with his. It was nearly poetic.

The Father's shoulders strengthened considerable the further he ventured from the building, as if his entire being vibrated with rekindled energy; thrumming incandescently behind his ribcage. The further way from her, the more powerful he felt. Her gentile fingers wouldn't touch the scar marring his throat any longer, and the puckered flesh discontinued its' uncomfortable burning. Nike's complexities were uncontrollable, and her complexion elevated his rage. He couldn't stand her empathetic affection, so pathetic, so intolerable. In leaving the looming building, it was as if the cloudy veil was pulled away from his face, leaving him with a shiny, new judiciousness. A wickedness that couldn't be sated with a mere blood curse, although it would do for now. Even if they'd snuffled his gift out, it wouldn't and couldn't be wiped away as simply as a carpet stain. Already, he guessed, it might've begun burrowing doubts in their minds and filling their hearts with darkness.

Sofia's fingers snaked into his, intermingling their wounds and sending jolts of electricity down his forearm. It was nearly exhilarating, but he couldn't help believe that it was wasteful. Such strange formalities women had; curious customs and even more mystifying sentiments. Sofia was no parasitic being – the Father believed she would've made a wonderful Queen if the era called for it. She would've been strict and resolutely cruel; the true makings of a successful ruler. An indecorous rose amid the bush of jagged barbs and rotting leaves, drooping with poisonous liquors. Her dizzying petals are tinged from the lips of a devil, a core nearly ginger, continuously luring you closer, and closer, until she's captured you. She is too wild to be contained, too fierce, too stubborn, too fervent to curse all those mesmerized by her labyrinth-like petals. And she'd laugh at your arrogance. The Father had chosen her well, he complimented him more than he'd like to admit.

“A statement nonetheless,” The Father rasped, tilting his head slightly. His half-slit eyes wandered towards Vincent and lingered there, watching for the slightest movements and counting his eyelid clicks – the man could discern intentions from the most minuscule movements; the roll of the eyes, the flick of their wrists, the taut pull of their lips. He'd lived longer than any in his sick little Cruzzola family, and understood far more than he'd care to. People were simple, fickle creatures that were effortlessly manipulated, and just as conveniently discarded. Sacks of flesh, nothing more. A empty slate moulded into his own likelihood was dangerous, and so he watched the blonde-haired young man with the caution an unbothered man exuded.

Untangling his fingers from Sofia's, the Father motioned towards the black sedan. They would seek refuge back at their quarters and properly plan how to dispose of the Descendants. No doubts, Nike had placed some means of protecting on the building so that they could cultivate their abilities. They wouldn't wait to strike. They would circle like hungry sharks and savage beasts, ripping them apart so that nothing remains. The Father's eyes closed for a moment, and then opened as he meandered towards the vehicle. Nothing else needed to be said on his part. Wesley knew where they were going, and the others could discuss things as they pleased.

Mercy, however, would not come. Not for the Descendants. Not for Katrina. And not for her.

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Delaney walked with the rest of the crowd, lost below the others. They were all so big and she so little. A small stab of jealousy hit her when Sophia intertwined her fingers with the Father's. Sure, the Father had two hands and Sophia was his lover. But nevertheless, Delaney was increasingly jealous that the Father was not paying any attention to her.

So jealous, in fact, that she completely stopped paying attention to what was going on around her. The thoughts in her head spun around simply to find a way to irk Sophia or perhaps more then that. Twisted thought floated through her mind. Thoughts are darkness, death and blood.

How demented were Delaney's thoughts. Like a child, she had a sickening sweet smile on her face, but she didn't think of sugar, spice and everything nice. Finally, when Father spoke, Delaney jumped to attention. She saw Wesley and Sophia annoying smirk and then Vincent's bored expression.

Finally, the Cruzzolas moved into their car. They headed towards their home where they would plot the final demise of the Descendants and Nike. A smile stretched onto Delaney's face as she thought of this. How wonderful death would be if Nike was not in the world.


Lalita was surprised to hear other voices and then was even more surprised to see Yoni fall near Nike's feet. But, most of all, she was surprised that the Cruzzola dared to set foot in their sanctuary and threaten Nike. A small amount of pure anger filled her. How could anyone do that? She wasn't perfectly good, but she certainly wasn't pure evil.

Pure evil was something she suddenly felt all around her. It wafted through the air like the smell of fresh coffee in the morning. She winced expecting the worst to happen. She tried to close off her mind and focus on Nike. "So, let's go kick some bitches' asses. Fuhgetabout. I'll go do it right now! Oh lemme tell you," she said, turning on her heels and walking toward the elevator.

She didn't get far though because the pure evil she felt before finally hit her. It hit her like a ton of bricks. Suddenly, she felt her mind being ripped apart, tissue by tissue. Everything that was painful and scary and sad were brought up to the front of her mind.

The most prevalent memory was the sound of wheels screeching against the road. The sound of her own small screams. Then the sound of glass crunching and then suddenly the outside view of a crumpled car instead of the inside. The only thing she saw was glass around the street and her parents fragile bodies crushed.She felt like a breath had been knocked out of her. All she felt was the feeling of overwhelming guilt that she saved herself but not her parents. She winced again and stumbled backwards

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It is in this place where you find that balance is necessary. It is among these whisperings, these memories, these shadows and these lights, that you remember the signs, symbols, and poems that require our attention to the details.

Without light there is no darkness. Without mistake there is no lesson. Without evil there is no good. All things must come to an end, but Yin and Yang must stay constant. Immortal. They cannot exist without the other. Balance must be kept or all will perish.

In the mind of the good, there is always despair. For good cannot exist without some evil. In the mind of evil, there is always love. For evil cannot exist without some good. These truths will always be. They cannot be unsaid, argued over, or rewritten. This is the way of things and the universe. How can we find happiness without first knowing what sadness is? How can we know to be humble without first falling from our pride? These are questions you should ask yourself, Mother. They are your guidelines and your stability. They are what will keep you balanced and alive. They will maintain those you seek to protect and nurture in this world we have created.

They will heal you when your heart can no longer stay broken. The decision we made, the decision He made, was for the greater good of this Earth and your people. You must admire Him. You must love Him still, the way you did before, as a companion in all things. In order to create balance, you must be the examples of such. Mankind cannot live without knowing the things we have told you. If you introduce them to darkness without introducing them to good as well, they will fall forever. As the Mother, you must nurture and love and care. As the Father, he must punish and discipline and seek out their wrongs. It is the best way that we can see Man surviving on this harmonious world.

Nike watched Him as He walked into their shadows. Watched as He became her other half. She wept as He chose to leave her alone and live in the darkness where she could not follow. What had become of them? Why had they chosen Him? Why did her heart feel thus?

Because she was what her people needed. Because she cared with every fiber of her being and when she loved, she loved with all her heart. Sitting in her winged back chair, frozen from the curse He’d set against them all, Nike cried. It was like seeing a statue, weeping from stone eyes. She could not hear the descendants or her faithful servants. She could not see their faces, falling into despair and doubt and deceit. Nike, Mother Nature to all Mankind, could do nothing to save them. She screamed out from her heart for Machai to hear her, but this curse caused her to lose the hope that he would.

No! She could not go where He was leading her. It didn’t matter that all she wanted was to feel his warm, soft hand in hers one last time, she had to keep them near her. She had to be positive that their hearts remained hopeful in the way of danger. She screamed louder, forcing her way through the past, through the pain and heartbreak. Nike found the baby, heir to the Wolf Clan, lying in the arms of a mother who would die soon after. She watched him grow into a boy who witnessed the death of his father at the hands of the man who was Father. The Father who disciplined, who punished; He had kill in cold blood that night and Machai had seen every second.

She could not remain in that place. She could not stay where Machai had already moved from. She watched him grow into the man he was now, knowing his future and his purpose. Knowing that the fleeting thoughts of revenge were just that; fleeting. Machai would train and train and pray and pray for Nike’s sake. For Mankind’s sake. It was easier for him to imagine Nike as the only one who needed saving, but deep down inside he knew what he was protecting.

Machai… She screamed. It would come through as a whisper, but she knew he would hear it. She instructed him, let him feel her words through his motionless body. The curse was more than a way to put doubts in one’s mind; it was causing Machai to remain in one spot. His strength would pull him through.

He could hear her and he could tell the others. Now she needed to instruct them, to provide them with the light to guide them through their own hearts. Through their ancestry and into their magical potential. She reached out to them, like a ray of light. Nike would split open their darknesses and drown them in warmth.

Do not despair for that is His purpose. She took in a deep breath, though her statue body remained still. Inside yourselves is a hope, a string leading into a great cavern of strength that you can manifest into reality. In order to call upon that strength and swim in it’s goodness, you must first face that which hinders you. You must stop the doubt. You must end the despair and the loneliness and find peace with who you are. She paused, realizing this was much to ask of someone in short notice. But if they could, for just a moment, believe in themselves, they could find enough power to stop this hateful seal.

Believe in what you are. Believe that I am real and that I will never fail you. Believe in the waves, the wind, the fire, and the stone in your hearts and bring forth that which can turn this blasphemy upon us into a ray of hope for your people. We cannot be stopped if we believe… She took another mental breath and found that she could no longer maintain her connection with her children. It was left in their hands for she could do no more for them.

When you were first created, her memories crept back like lizards to a warm rock, we were certain that Man would only prosper. But with only good in the world, they took what they had for granted. Those who had created them were left forgotten. The love they used to bare us was left aside and we were lonely. Perhaps it was a selfish act, creating evil, but it was for our own good. Our very existence was at stake with your existence. We love you too much, Mother, to be rid of you. We love you because no matter what Man forgot of us, you were always there, giving us hope.

We are sorry that you must weep so. We are sorry that it was He we saw as the only one. We love you, Mother. But we love him, too. For it was He that saved us.

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There was a childish need to aid Nike swelling in Yani's sodden chest. She wanted to fix her right up with her most colourful band-aids – the ones that the old man used to plaster on her cheeks whenever she fell down in the mud, crying into her fists – and tell her that she's got the most loveliest eyes she's ever ever seen, and even if she isn't seeing as well as she used to, that it was alright. She wanted to envelop the entire room with the softest tides and sweep their worries away with its' medicinal salt. Instead, she felt like the atmosphere was the frothy, unforgiving waves licking and tearing you back into the sea so that you could slumber in its' murky depths, for eternity. That wasn't what she wanted. Small, skeletal fingers feathered over her cheek and all Yani could do was look up at her, and wish so badly that she wasn't being hurt. The Shark was floundering ashore without the comforts of the sea, but with Nike's warmth everything seemed to be alright. Perhaps Humanity did have a chance, and maybe there was something else that she couldn't quite see. The Descendants were as unseeing as Nike; pallid eyes so full of wisdom and bereaved tenderness.

Her fingers closed around Nike's small, dainty hand before she finally retreated. Yani understood that something important was to be said and would devote her attentions solely on Her. She rocked back on her heels, pushed against the checkered floor with the heel of her palm and squatted beside Nike's gnarled chair; still as pond water and reflective as a cool, breezeless day. One hand remained plastered against the floor to keep herself from falling over. Nike's comforting fingers remained on her shoulder, reminding her of everything they needed to do. Every obstacle they'd need to overcome for the greater good of the world. It almost seemed ridiculous. The Shark's visage was bent forward, shoulders hunched and exuding an expression of pained thought. Yani was anything but ponderous; she was the pulsing shore, scattered glass, sticks from a bonfire, seaweed limbs; fragmented sand and pieces of smooth rocks strewn across the beaches. The Shark had no recollection of her family. She had no father or mother who'd once been apart of something more, passing generations upon generations of secrets to their offspring.

When Lalita spoke up, Yani's mouth twisted and she grinned wickedly, nodding her head with vicarious enthusiasm. “Bastard's won't know what's coming,” accompanied by a rather masculine snarl. Coral spined and moss fingered, the Shark clasped Nike's fingers from her shoulder, kissed her knuckles gently, and drew herself up like a thundering storm. She swaggered away from Nike, intending to shoulder Noah back into the hallway so that they could tail the Cruzzola when her footfalls suddenly fell short and her mouth felt like she was working sandy grit between her gums. A swollen object felt as if it lodged itself in her throat, clawing its' way across her oesophagus. The floor beneath her feet shifted and she felt weightless, as if it'd fallen away and melted into the seas' she loved so much. She wasn't even sure whether or not she was moving until she reached the chambers' threshold and leaned heavily against the door frame, fingers poised against the wall to keep her from falling. Where'd the sudden weakness come from, anyway? Her legs felt like jelly, swaying and sucking like the tide. Her arms felt leaden and she couldn't smell anything but the staunchly scent of salt. She couldn't seem to identify whether or not she was alone, either – the chamber looked completely different, fluctuating into stringy tendrils and filling with barmy water.

A death befit a sailor.

And then, with no rhyme or reason, Yani could vividly remember drowning. Spastic motions kicking and flailing, pushing towards a surface that reflects an exceedingly bright day – so ironic, how such a beautiful day could mock a child's drowning. She could undoubtedly feel her lungs burn and wrench in agony, sweltering with the need of oxygen and bumbling on panicked shrieks that none could hear. Sunlight drifting over sea foam and reaching for the sky; for salvation, for redemption, for life. Diaphragm and throat pulsing and thrumming. Mossy eyes wide as saucers, screaming. The sharp pain of icy water had dulled her limbs and spread like a heart beat through his body; thumping loudly through her skull. And still, she kicked towards the surface in one last act of defiance. Two strong arms – she could remember – plucked under her armpits.

I want to die.

And Yani slipped slowly to the ground, bowing her head between her knees, teeth chattering.

I just want to die.

And still, the strong arms lifted her from the treacherous waters and she could breathe again; spluttering and coughing and chortling water from her lungs. But, whose arms had they been? She could hear Nike's voice clambering through the darkness, soft as a whisper, soft as the sails billowing in the wind, and asking her to live because she had a right. At least, it was a breath of fresh air.

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Though she had managed to fight off the initial wave of whatever had assaulted her, it only grew more difficult to resist as she approached the others. Machai was unresponsive, and inside her own mind, Katarina's dreams were burning in effigy. The flames licked at her bound wrists and ankles, threatening to devour her. They burned bright scarlet, the sky above her a crimson swath, painted in blood and ambition. The stake she was bound to plunged into the ground at an odd angle, causing the wood to bite uncomfortably into her skin while she dangled, so helplessly, over the ravenous flames.

All of a sudden all the things that should have burned her, that should have crushed her beneath the weight of years of loneliness and rejection, did burn and so crushed, and she couldn't breathe. Smoke and ash filled her lungs, her skin turned red and then black before her eyes and she could not even scream. She could see her own bones being blackened and burnt, and it would not be long before she was nothing but ashes and dust. She didn't want to see, didn't want to know, as though watching herself fall apart would reveal her to be made of worse stuff than she had thought, weaker materials, inferior workmanship. She was nothing, and she would be cinders.

She could hear Nike's voice in her mind, just barely over the fire, but Katarina didn't know what to do. Not really. She'd spent her whole life trying to convince herself that she did not deserve this, that even if she was some strange abomination, even if she couldn't seem to keep a friend, even if the only person who had shown her lasting kindness was an old man in a small building in a city slum, even if she played with an empty heart, that she would still be worth the space she took up if only she kept grasping at a different fire which should have guttered out long ago. If she pretended long enough, tried hard enough, gave enough, she would spare herself this crucifixion.

She had given more than she truly had, and the risk of that was always in being defeated utterly, with nothing more to relinquish. She'd reached the end of her rope; there was no more. The frail human heart could only take so much before it withered and died, and Kat felt that she had been putting this off for longer than she should have. The fact that a boy she had thought long dead was one of them just placed the final weight upon her shoulder, and her knees buckled beneath it. The brave resolve, the bravado, could not resist its own end- the exhaustion of a mind that could only take so much solitude.

She would die alone, too. She was certain of it.

Hmph. How pathetic. I'd never figured you for a quitter. The man, salt-and-pepper hair and sharp black eyes, surveyed her funeral pyre with distaste. Striking a match, he lit the tobacco in a lacquered black pipe with a tiger embedded with mother-of-pearl. He looked right at her with a flinty stare, and the disappointment she read there was more than she could bear. Hanging her head, Katarina attempted to ignore him. She was going to pretend he'd never seen her like this.

Even that sniveling little kid in my dojo with the bloody knuckles and the legs that scarcely held her up had more guts than you. She swallowed thickly, biting down on her bottom lip hard enough to draw blood.

Please, just... go away. I don't want... I don't want you to see this.

The man sneered. She didn't see it; she just knew he would. It was what he did every time one of his students said something cowardly. And right now, she was a coward. She knew it. But some things just can't be faced down, as the flames chewing through her were reminding her. Of course. Go away. You always have to be alone, don't you? Makes feeling sorry for yourself easier, I suppose. Gods forbid you should ever ask for help; someone might actually be willing to give it, and then you'd be outta reasons to pity yourself, wouldn't you?

Let me tell you something, girl. The only reason you're alone anymore is because you're afraid to be otherwise. You don't want to risk what it takes to form relationships with other people. You're afraid they'll leave you too. Well lemme ask you something. In all the years you've known me, have I ever once left?

Kat lifted her head and glanced over. There was something in his tone she'd never heard before, and she gasped sharply. The usually-stoic face had lost its severity, and he was looking at her with an expression she had only ever seen parents give their children. I... But words failed her, and she didn't know what to do. No. You haven't. But you... I...

It's okay to be scared, girl. Bravery isn't the absence of fear. It's being scared witless and refusing to let it beat you. It's feeling hopeless and continuing to hope anyway. Strength is not the opposite of weakness; it's learning to adapt in the face of weakness. That's all. There's no great secret to victory. You just have to be more stubborn than the other guy. Haven't I always told you that? He smiled, and she echoed it.

I've been meaning to ask, girl... when's fire ever hurt you? Katarina blinked, and looked down at herself. No longer was the skin blackened like charcoal, nor could she see the stark bone beneath. She was simply whole, her restraints burned away, standing in the middle of the fire, next to the stake she had been tied to. She frowned, then looked back to the old man, only to find that he was gone. This didn't stop the smile from lingering on the redhead's face. She'd finally seen it, that expression she'd always wanted to see. Someone out there knew her for what she was, and accepted it without reproach. How long had she been seeking it, only to be blind to the fact that she'd had it all along!

The fire disappeared, and she was back in the hallway. A tingling warmth shot down her spine, causing her skin to prickle with gooseflesh. It was not the burning heat of a wildfire, but soothing warmth of a different kind. Kat took her hand from Machai's shoulder and grasped his wrist. She had a feeling that all of them needed to be together right now, and she tugged him the rest of the way after her, finding her way into the room with Nike and the others. They appeared to be trapped the same way she had been, but she knew it was up to each of them to fight their way out of it. Nike, though, Nike she could help.

Still leading Machai, she placed his hand into one of Nike's, and took the other in both her own. "Mother..." she murmured softly, then focused on that warmth she felt, peaceable acceptance and love. That was the crux of it all, wasn't it? They had to accept themselves, accept each other, and accept their task. She was ready to do all three. It wouldn't be an instant process, and it wouldn't be without pitfalls and bumps in the road, but they could do it. They had to. The healing energy passed from Descendant to Mother, and Katarina stood a silent vigil, waiting for the others to come around.

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This great evil… Where’s it come from?
How’d it steal into the world?

The seal was old. Things were whispering from the blood that Machai couldn’t dream of ever understanding. The words bled into his soul, down his spine, seeping into every orifice and filling his spirit with lies and deceit that he couldn’t help but believe. Things were wrong. The world was not right and he could never fix it. He couldn’t help her. She would die. His Mother would be lost into this place that he was finding himself and he would never get her out.

He would watch the world end. Machai would sit, limp, forlorn, lost in some kind of shadow as the world around him fell apart. He was no match for his enemy. His father had proven that the Wolf Clan could not succeed in its task as protector of Mother Nature. This young man with a secret power not even he knew about, would never manage what his ancestors had done for hundreds of years. They were hiding away, like cowards. But they had been found. Nike knew they would be. That is why she was so much greater than he. She knew the Father would find her and yet she was not frightened by it.

But Machai… he was content with staying underground. He was content with not facing what was really happening in the world. Never seeing the murder, the neglect, the hatred and the pain. He could stay here, a lost little pup in a tiny little den, feeding off the superficial courage of the one he secretly called “Mother” in his heart.

What seed, what root, did it grow from?

Something was tearing him apart. A grief he couldn’t describe. His legs, still, wouldn’t budge from the carpet in the hallway. The walls seemed so far away from him and Katarina was a dream lost in his nightmare. Why was he feeling this way? Why was his heart decaying with this sadness? Everything was so unreachable to him and he didn’t want to fight it anymore. This internal battle was wearing him thin and the smell of the blood seal placed carefully, mindfully, on the door to their sanctuary, racked his soul.

Nike had told him earlier what to do. Burn it down… And he’d called to Katarina soon after. But now, even as she spoke to him, looked into his eyes, he couldn’t speak. All he could do was despair.

Who’s doing this?
Who’s killing us? Robbing us of life and light. Mocking us with the sight of what we mighta known?

The day his father died was a day he tried to remember as a lesson. It was not a day he wanted to look back on and grieve or feel vengeance or anger. But as much as Machai was Chief of the Wolf Clan, he was also human. His emotions, carefully hidden and fought, were still there and no manner of hiding or of pretending their existence was false, could keep them from rearing their ugly heads. It was now that they struck at him, aided by this evil that planned to rule the world, end the Human Race and stop all the good things.

Why? Why us? Machai ran the question through his mind over and over. He tasted the question, smelled it, felt it in his heart and then tossed it aside. It was not a matter of why any longer. These feelings, Machai could no longer fight them. He could no longer hide the forbidden image of his father, dying on the ground, looking up at the Father with wide, fearful eyes. That fear, the one that haunted Machai. Not the fear of death, not even the fear of the man who embodied evil. The fear that Nike would fall under his hand. It was the fear that she would have no one to watch over her.

The blood. The tears. The words. Machai had to hear them all again, feel that day once more and grow from the emotion, the hate, the pain. The young Chief did not have to walk a path of vengeance. No. He would make sure that when he died, that Nike was taken care of. Machai would do what was right for her. He would train them, the Descendants of his sibling clans. They would know his responsibility and they would all share it.

Does our ruin benefit the earth? Does it help the grass to grow or the sun to shine?

Nike whispered again. Fighting through their curse and urging them to fight back, to trust in themselves and to save what was rightfully their’s. They were allowed to be happy. Machai was allowed to grieve, to feel loss, to be happy again. Going through ups and downs was what living meant. No one deserved to live in the darkness He promised.

Something in his chest pounded at his ribs. His entire body began to hum with something he’d never felt before. Machai knew that his blood, the blood of the Wolf, was different from normal humans, but he had never felt this before. Nike’s words sent some beast within him to wake. It stirred, sending his muscles into spasms that he though for a moment he could see. A growl, coupled with the high-pitched howl of his body echoed through his mind and through the walls of their home. Then it was silent and he felt stronger in some ways.

Is this darkness in you, too?

Katarina’s hand was light, small, barely making its way around his wrist. He looked down at it as she pulled him from the place where he’d been trapped. So easily. It was like she was plucking a fresh strawberry from its vine. He followed behind her, watching her hair flow with the wind, feeling the warmth of her palm, and feeding off the strength that she sent through the atmosphere. Her fire was bright.

Machai did everything Katarina silently directed him to do. He couldn’t seem to stop looking at her. Something about her was making fighting this curse so much easier. Machai didn’t feel trapped in the darkness. He was being lead toward the light at the end of the tunnel. Katarina was not the light there. No, that role was taken by the woman who’s hand now lay limp in his calloused fingers. Machai feather his fingertips over her linen skin.

Katarina was the fire that guided him through the shadows. She lead him from his despair and into the sunshine. He smiled, closing his eyes and resting his head upon the hand of his mother. They would fight back. They would do it for her, for her people, and most of all, they would do it for themselves. What was a world without belief? What kind of a place would exist if no one believed in themselves or in the beautiful world around them? Machai could smile, really smile, and feel the beast inside him quake with his determination and passion to end the evil.

Have you passed through this night?

Yes, he answered. And I have felt the sunshine of the new dawn.

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Would the Maker have opened your eyes if he preferred them closed?

If they echoed their Mother's fruitless philosophies, then so be it. They would all suffer the same excruciating fate. The Father would squash them like squalling insects, send them running off cliffs with naught but the air to hear their frantic pleas. Everyone feared death, did they not? Slate grey buildings with circular, rectangle and square windows for glistening eyes glowered each time they passed, reflecting the black Sedan's beaming headlights. The gutters were swollen with the rain's tears, flowing in fat streams down into the sewer drains and spilling out across the abysmal asphalt. A dreary scene for a dreary situation, it seemed. And somehow, it was fitting. His mouth formed a tight, gloomy line and revealed nothing of the plenitude of thoughts plaguing his mind. Even now, the blood curse was weighing harshly on his body. Occasionally, he'd lean forward and cough harshly into his fists, then straighten himself out and brush his fingers casually across his knees. Distinct childhood memories cast it's thick brush across his mind's canvas, painting pleasant pictures that made him nauseous. His stomach roiled uncomfortably as he regarded the thunder clapping across the skies, brightening the interior of the vehicle and leaving him feeling depleted, rather than ecstatic. The electricity died into a low, blunt thrumming that hardly motivated him.

In truth, the Father was the embodiment of the booming city with all it's splendour, and pollution and corruption and insipid creatures performing dismal crimes; destroying itself from the inside, and releasing it's toxins throughout the world. It's dark fingers would always dig through other soils, ushering them quietly into earthy graves with the promise of a quick, painless death. Earthworms and beetles held no prejudice, and judged no one's sins. The Father could offer this, or something much more desirable—a chance to change yourself, a chance to redeem yourself in His eyes. What could Nike offer to them, besides a wasted life for a fruitless cause? She was the little, melancholic town filled with plucky vigilantes and simple farmers with pitchforks, determined to make a difference in the world. How galling! The windows and neon city signs were a clash of sunlight and moonlight, collision of morning and evening; reminding the Father that he had better things to do then dwell on his shortcomings, and their exiguous pasts. But still, he couldn't escape them.

“Hey! Look at this, Connie—look! No, here!” The excited voice jolted him from his thoughts. Her voice was a song, throwing verses and choruses and string instruments through his mind. It was pleasant whenever she spoke, and so he obliged, teetering back from the bleached sands. He felt slender fingers curl around his small wrist, leading him towards a large shrub, so he scrambled alongside her; all knobby knees and scrapped elbows. She was the only place where he could escape from all of the desolate, morbid lands and confusing expectations. A hidden garden in an ugly world, never whispering about fate or balance or peace. Her eyes were Northern lights, or lighthouses beckoning him away from the sea's dangerous tides.

“Okay, okay, no pushing,” The blond boy whispered exasperatedly, though he knew that there wasn't any other place he'd rather be. The little girl knelt into the ruddy dirt, pulling on his wrists with both hands until he did the same. He peered incredulously at the thick shrub, eyeing it's drooping leaves and autumn colours—they were dying, as far as he could see. His fingers dug into the earth, dragging into minuscule trenches whilst his companion pressed her nose into the foliage. From the corners of his unusual eyes, the boy watched the little girl's fingers carefully push aside the bushy limbs, careful not to break a single branch, and then purse her lips with the effort. The breeze lightly kissed her hair, shuffling it across her forehead. In front of his own eyes, she transformed into a fabled treasure hunter who'd discovered a new, beautiful race in an exotic jungle; wide eyes dancing with wonderment.

Hushing softly, the little girl's fingers found the boy's wrist and drew him closer, never missing a beat or shying away when his cheek pressed against hers. The little boy felt guileless, even if so much more was expected from them. She was a salubrious sterling, and he was a ruffled raven. They were from different worlds, brought together by some wicked Creator. He must've had a bad sense of humour. Children didn't understand complex concepts that drove people apart; children didn't understand when they were forced into positions that caused them to turn their backs on the ones' that understood them the most. It was cruel. But, moments like these... moments like these...

“There's a little bird. A robin, I think,” As gentle as a coddling mother, the little girl swept her hands out wide to reveal the small creature she'd mentioned. The branches fell away like a curtain, and there, right there, was a small, pitiful looking nest made from lint, branches and soft mud pressed tightly in the foliage. A tufted fledgeling shook it's naked wings, squalling and extending it's long corded neck for a regurgitated meal it would not receive. It was smaller than an apricot, with a yellow crested chest. And more than that, it was alone. It's siblings were strewn across the ground in a gooey mess, revealing that the mother had probably abandoned it... or was eaten by something larger. "It's all alone,” She observed quietly, frowning. The expression didn't suit her, at all.

That was the day he discovered sin.

The little boy's fingers scraped away from the packed earth and shot past his friend's solemn face, groping for the screeching bird until his dirty fingers wound it's way around it's frail body. Without so much as another word, an explanation or an indication of his actions—he crushed the baby bird in his fist and discarded it amongst his brothers and sisters. His hands felt disgusting; the crunch of cartilage tingled through his fingers and upset his stomach. He refused to retch, but he couldn't stomach looking at her. He didn't want to see those eyes. Instead, the boy looked towards the sky, his fingers opening, closing, then opening again. They weren't allowed to have any pets, he reasoned.

"A quick death is a mercy, right?”

The robin's lifeless body was pressed tightly to her chest, clutched between shaking fingers.

This wasn't his world. He didn't belong here, and she would, after all, have to walk away from him.

And they hadn't even asked him.

The Father's mismatched eyes fluttered open. His fingers clutched into feeble fists; weak from the effort of casting his nightmarish ailments on the Descendants, weak from confronting his old companion. Now, he wondered who the fledgeling was. Were Nike's skeletal, paper-thin fingers squeezing across his cording neck, or was it the other way around? He doubted that either would be so easily cast away. It was never easy. Death courted in each abysmal corner: seeking their kidneys, or other delicious morsels with snapping jaws and slick tongues. It wouldn't have surprised him if he found himself deteriorating as steadily as Nike. They were one in the same, after all. A united phenomenon that needed the other to survive, and without one, the world's balance would collapse in disequilibrium. Instability was a fickle monster, rearing it's ugly head whenever you so much as teased those metaphorical lines. He'd already crossed them, and threatened to unhinge the world's preordained equivalence. Someday, he knew it would cost him his life.

“Please... tell me, you'll fight this fight.”

Did that even matter, any more? How much did he value his own life—how much... Lightly running his tongue over his lips, the Father leaned his head against the soft headrest. It was too much; an ugly thunder cracked overheard, filling his head with a staccato of unpleasant beats. Thankfully, they were nearing the underground parking lots. Sweltering rains pelted the car, and rivulets ran down the windows. A methodical tuk tuk tuk tuk; it might've been calming, but it only reminded him of disconsolate days sitting by sombre windows. His roots were deep. His roots would strangle all of their hopes and dreams and fickle goals; gurgle the last sliver of hopeless ambitions out of their throats. It would be a mercy. They weren't allowed to keep pets, after all.

The Father settled his rekindled convictions. Once Wesley found a suitable parking space, he lead the Cruzzola's through the parking compound. It didn't really matter where they parked, because they owned the entire lot; brick building, basement and offices included. An appropriate base of operations that had business plastered all over it. For the most part, he kept quiet. His mind, however, was alive with future dispositions, complex thoughts regarding disposing of the Descendants and dogged intrepidity. It wasn't until he reached the large expanse of the meeting area that his steps faltered. There were hardly any decorations in the board room, besides alabaster chairs and a long wooden table. Nothing fancy, nothing to gawk at. Fortunately, the Father catered to all of his assembly's needs. They could do as they wished with their chambers, so long as they kept everything to themselves.

Finally, with a soft sigh, the Father settled himself into one of the chairs. A thin sheen of sweat trickled down his neck, and exhaustion begged him to retire to his chambers. His work was never done, and so he resisted his mortal desires. "Human beings are a cancer to this planet. A disease that can't be cleansed by conventional means. They thrive on greed, and like cockroaches, crawl out of hiding to spread their ilk,” The Father rasped sourly, pressing his fingers against his throat. Shadows silhouetted his feminine features as he bowed his head. And then, a wicked smile curled across his soft lips, showing a small peek of teeth. "And we, the Cruzzola, offer the world an indefinite cure. Ha! We are doing them a favour, at the very least. A quick death is a mercy, and an easy one.

"They are perverse creatures that are never satisfied, and we will grant them everything they'd ever wish for. And in that, they'll destroy themselves. The human race is a race of cowards; and without Nike and her merry troupe, they'll surely fall.” The Father continued, rubbing his throat gingerly. It still pained him to speak. "The more humanity advances, the more it degrades... doesn't she realize that?” Now, he was speaking more to himself than anyone else. He heaved another sigh through his nostrils and planted his fingers in front of him, eyeing the Cruzzola; one at a time. His eyes were always unsettling, and roused a feeling of discomfort. At least, he still had that.

"We will begin preparations. Foals are easier to slaughter when they've just begun to walk.”

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He followed in the wake of his Father, and perhaps wake was the most appropriate designation for his place. Behind, but with the slightest implication of death and decay. Mourners hold a wake because they are left in one, he walks in a wake because he can be nowhere else. His footsteps are not poetry on pavement, unless silence is a poetry all its own. Ghasts flitting about after the lord of the damned should not strive to themselves command the attention of the unfortunates he stops to greet, the pained wailing souls whose cheeks he brushes with slickly-pale fingers. They should merely wait to be given command, and perhaps somewhere, in their secret little ghost-hearts, be glad that they are not treated so.

Looked at another way, he supposes that perhaps they are the really despicable ones. The harbinger does not choose the arrival he heralds, after all, but Vincent is unwilling to concede that the Father did not choose this in some sense. There is always a choice, even if it be just the one between doing your job well and doing it badly. Here, they have made the same choice, and the success of their endeavors makes it obvious which it is. The drive to excel, to succeed, exists independently of the morality of things, and some would rather be an exemplar of wickedness than a two-bit hero. He, he supposes, must be among them, else why would he insist on executing his tasks and targets with equal, exacting precision?

At least he does not pretend he does good. He does not pretend to know what good is, either. In the grand scheme of the universe, what gives one mortal being the right to decide such things? Naught but arrogance, and of this he possesses surprisingly little. One might expect that the striving, the position, the company would compel him to the very heights of foolish pride, but it does not. If Vincent falls, he will do it quietly, unobtrusively, and so very well, as he does everything else. He is not so self-centered as to believe he needs a stage or an audience to do it.

The Father is different, and it is easy to tell. The way he speaks alone is enough. The words are not from one man for his own reference, nor the knowledge of his followers. They are words the Cruzzola have heard before; there is nothing new about them save perhaps the exact formation in which they are passed from throat over lips to the space in which they subsist for a moment longer. And in this moment, Vincent comes to a realization: the Father is dependent. Upon them to listen and reaffirm, yes, but most of all upon Nike to stand in opposition to him. He is not a pillar but a parasite, and if that logic holds, then she off him as well.

It is troubling, in a way, to finally put to words that feeling. Even the Father needs something, needs someone, and thus perhaps it must be the case that Vincent is dependent also. But upon what, whom? He has never known the feeling of attachment; if everyone he had ever known were to drop dead this very moment, he knew quite well that he would not grieve, not in the truest sense of the word. A common feature of everything, of humanity and the Cruzzola and the Descendants alike, and yet he could not self-identify as having it. What did such a thing mean?

He meets that father's eyes through his shaded ones, and though the familiar unease of childhood torment bubbles to the surface of his mind, it is attached no longer to deep fears and resentments. Because the Father is dependent, the Father needs and requires and desires and feels, and Vincent does none of these things.

But what, what could that possibly imply?

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Character Portrait: Yani
0 sightings Yani played by Yonbibuns
"All things seem to drift down to the sea, and so did I."
Character Portrait: Vincent Cruzzola
0 sightings Vincent Cruzzola played by Kurokiku
"If only I had an enemy bigger then my apathy, I could have won."
Character Portrait: The Father
0 sightings The Father played by Yonbibuns
"Beautiful, isn't it?"
Character Portrait: Noah Hughes
0 sightings Noah Hughes played by Tæfarós
"What a god-awful small affair."
Character Portrait: Wesley Cruzzola
0 sightings Wesley Cruzzola played by Tæfarós
"Pray for Saturday blues."

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View All » Add Character » 14 Characters to follow in this universe

Character Portrait: Nike
Character Portrait: Lalita Lynn Helloes
Character Portrait: Machai
Character Portrait: Katarina Walsh
Character Portrait: Delaney Ann


Character Portrait: Delaney Ann
Delaney Ann

"Why whatever are you talking about?"

Character Portrait: Katarina Walsh
Katarina Walsh

"And all that remains is the arms of the angels."

Character Portrait: Machai

The Saints can't help me now, the ropes have been unbound...

Character Portrait: Lalita Lynn Helloes
Lalita Lynn Helloes

"My head is always in the clouds."

Character Portrait: Nike

I think that I might break...


Character Portrait: Nike

I think that I might break...

Character Portrait: Delaney Ann
Delaney Ann

"Why whatever are you talking about?"

Character Portrait: Lalita Lynn Helloes
Lalita Lynn Helloes

"My head is always in the clouds."

Character Portrait: Machai

The Saints can't help me now, the ropes have been unbound...

Character Portrait: Katarina Walsh
Katarina Walsh

"And all that remains is the arms of the angels."

Most Followed

Character Portrait: Machai

The Saints can't help me now, the ropes have been unbound...

Character Portrait: Nike

I think that I might break...

Character Portrait: Katarina Walsh
Katarina Walsh

"And all that remains is the arms of the angels."

Character Portrait: Lalita Lynn Helloes
Lalita Lynn Helloes

"My head is always in the clouds."

Character Portrait: Delaney Ann
Delaney Ann

"Why whatever are you talking about?"

Fullscreen Chat » Create Topic » Breathe Me: Out of Character


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Most recent OOC posts in Breathe Me

Re: [OOC] Breathe Me

Did I hear someone say my name? Sorry to drop off the face o' the planet, but I'm back! Oh Shizzzzzzz! Is there really gonna be a Breathe Me II?

Re: [OOC] Breathe Me

I am sticking around ^.^ I'm also uber excited so come on! We need to get started! Where is everyone? They need to come back and continue this and watch out amazing story unfold. So, yeah. I shall wait patiently and check back. But, if you need me asap, I has a tumblr that I go on everyday

You shall reach me there for sure (:

Re: [OOC] Breathe Me

Kee kee kee. Someone adopted Kat? Well, y'know. They were just placed there to have a big bonfire party in the OC shack. FRECKLEEEDDDDDD. I'm still excited for Breathe Me II. And waiting. Super impatiently. Like Taef's crazy sonic icon. Ya'll are beautiful. Now, now, now, let's get this party started. I'll end up completely rewriting both profiles, too, since I broke my laptop and all my information is ka-poot.

WELCOME BAACCCCCKKKKKK LYSSSSSS. We missed you! And that's alright, as long as you stick around, eh?

Re: [OOC] Breathe Me

I've come on everyday waiting for a message to start this again. I'm so sorry guys. I joined Color Guard, had competitions out the ass, got a job and school and a boyfriend and it was like, "Oh my gosh, where is my time?"

Re: [OOC] Breathe Me

Taef, I am totally joining that business. Give me a day or two, but damn.

Now that that's over... uh... I dunno? Someone adopted Kat? I had fully intended to just rewrite the sheet for the next chapter. :/

Re: [OOC] Breathe Me

Yessss, missed her so much! If only Freckled showed up, then our family would be so beautifully ghetto once more~

WORK FASTER. No no, Vons, take all the time you need. I'm so uber hyped and ready to fill that douchecanoe's boots. Maybe now he'll have less douche in his canoe. My icon expresses how much I look forward to hangin' with you wonderful folks again.

And someone please tell me why Kat has been adopted by not Kuku. s:

Oh, and you guys are probably booked as is, but Wudge and I created this. It's gon' be a grand battle.

Re: [OOC] Breathe Me


Got a hold of Lyssa and she's still in!!! YAY!!!

Also! It's taking me a lot longer (obviously) to work on that last post and the new RP tab. I PROMISE I AM WORKING ON IT! I had to start out with a skellie and when the right time hits me, I'm adding and subtracting and editing like CUHRAZEEEEE. Hopefully it turns out as epic as I'm wanting it to. Eh heh... ^-^;;;

Re: [OOC] Breathe Me

I also need to make sure that Lyssa is still with us. Any one heard from her? I will PM her if no one has. If she doesn't come back, than the Serpent's clan will be up for grabs... -cough-Wudgey-cough-

Oh, I hate to see Lalita go... but I looove to watch her leave. Kekekekeke

EDIT (SUPER EDIT) OMFG. BREATHE ME is still on the front page of the effing website. O_O WE ARE AWESOME.

Re: [OOC] Breathe Me

/ high-fives for all /

I've saved mine. I need to polish them; nice, shiny and new. Just realized how rubbish my profiles look. The Father would've killed me if he knew. Soooooo pumped for Chapter Two. Let us know when it's up. I'm putting my characters "up-for-adoption, but-not-really-no-touchey" so that my Character tab isn't messy with two different profiles.

ALWAYS RIGHT AND READY. Mmnum. Your coloring is fantastic, always. Someday, someday, maybe mine will look half as good.

Complete! Level up!

Re: [OOC] Breathe Me

I just realized how epic Kiku's last post was. It is a PERFECT ending to the first chapter!!

So, my idea is that it's been about a month, perhaps a couple days longer, since the meeting with the Father. Nike has been holed up for most of it, while the other are training with Machai.... That's about it. As far as your characters go, they are obviously dealing with a lot of changes in themselves physically and I would venture to guess emotionally, psychologically, etc etc etc.

Tae, I don't care what process you use, or whether its right or wrong. Your work is always right. ALWAYS! O_O

Edit: ALSO! Since I will be closing this tab for completion, make sure you guys get your character sheetsssssss...... Hiss.

Re: [OOC] Breathe Me

^I agree with Kuku. :) Either way we roll, my body is prepared.

Oh Yonbiiii, but we'd get into so much mischief (plus she wouldn't enjoy that). Just waiting for the final marks to come in to see if we really got mugged--by our loan payments, I mean. Hhhhhhhhhhhhha.

Process?! Hurg, lately it's been a matter of scribblewtfever and tweak it 'til your heart's content, which is... really bad practice that I wouldn't recommend at all. Color is trying to stick to basic theory with harmonious tones and such though, once again, I'm sort of slapdash with this, but hey! Glad you enjoy. :D

Re: [OOC] Breathe Me

My advice is, make the big pretty post, submit it for completion, and then start the next chapter in a new tab. Fresh start. Nice and clean and such. (^_^)

Re: [OOC] Breathe Me

Need help making a decision... Shall I start a new tab for Chapter Zwei? Or should I just make a big, pretty post on this one claiming the end of one chapter, into the next?

Re: [OOC] Breathe Me

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA--. I'd still date you, Taef. In the least creepy of ways. Unf, unf. That's way too many classes, unless yer' enjoying them, that is. Kudos for your abilities to juggle so many things at once. I'd probably die. Or start falling asleep while walking and stumble onto a busy street; dark alleyway, get mugged, y'know. You crazy cat, you.

OH KAY THAT'S IT. What programs do you use for all yer' beautiful drawings, Taef? How do you colour; I mean, what's your process? How do I start coloring all proper like?

P.S. I love you. Let's get this Breathe Me ball rolling.

Re: [OOC] Breathe Me

OH GOD, everyone here is like... holy shit, we need to form Captain Planet. I am elated and love you guys to bits, etc etc. Never take six classes at once. While lending someone a room. While taking odd jobs from suspiciously successful artists. During finals.

Whoops, looks like Wudge has spoiled my one alluring quality. Fudgepeppers.

Re: [OOC] Breathe Me


That leaves Cruzzola roles, yes? I can work with that. His alignment shall be Confused. >:| Or she will be Batshit, depending on my mood.
(But no, if there's anything lacking in either the good or the bad side, I can work with that if ye'll let me know.)

I have a lot of reading to do don't I, oh boy.

Re: [OOC] Breathe Me


I don't see why you have to be excluded WudgeyMcWudgerson. Start working on a character, good, bad, neutral... just remember all the clan roles are taken. LOVE YOU WUDGE

Re: [OOC] Breathe Me

Hey guess what! Taef's a WOMMIN, she is! Unless she was lying to you and I spoiled everything, in which case whoopsie. Hey guess what else! I want in on the second chapter. >:| You better keep in touch with me about it, Lovely unless it's exclusive to the old group, in which case I sort of twiddle my thumbs sadly

What am I doing here, you ask?

Stalking revenge. Image

Re: [OOC] Breathe Me

Heck yes; always. And when Taef WAS on, we actually talked about Breathe Me going into it's next chapter. Hopefully he's still kicking around.

Re: [OOC] Breathe Me

Wit'cha, sistah! (^_^)