RP:A Beginning And An End
Part of the What You Leave Behind Arc
Summary: After the most stressful pregnancy in the history of forever, Dominic Connor is finally born. Bearing the likeness--and now the name--of Brand's former other half who faded away into Brand's subconscious over nearly a year ago, this reveals to Khitti and Brand that the dream-visions of another realm the couple shared were just as much of a prophecy as Emeritus' own scrolls of fate: they were both destined for one another. Khitti, Brand, Meri, and Lionel are barely given any time to celebrate the new arrival before Facilier makes himself known for the last time. Amarrah's father believes he'll finally get what he wants, but little did he know that Onyx has had the high ground this entire time. The undead makes their triumphant return to slay the villain that's been a plague on Khitti's family, both Dhavislaavian and Lithrydelian, but also meets their own fate. KhittiBrand and Co are left heartbroken, tired, and in much need of a few rounds of drinks as the rest of the ship rejoices in the arrival of their captain's firstborn.
The Tranquility, Cenril Wharf
Khitti || Late into the night while the entire Tranquility was asleep, Khitti had a dream. In this dream, she was laying on this nice, squishy marshmallow. It was rather reminiscent of that dream Dominic had had while she was stuck in the dragon’s cave, where he crash landed into a massive carrot cake. Except, for Khitti, this marshmallow seemed rather… wet? Maybe it was freshly made, Khitti thought. Yeah, it was a nice meringue-like consistency. It’d be great for smores. With her eyes still closed, she reached down below her and squeezed the seemingly-marshmallow surface. Hm. No. That’s -too- wet to freshly-made marshmallow. Too wet… Hmm. And then Khitti woke up. Because a wave of pain suddenly washed over her. Wait. That was not a marshmallow. Oh god. OH GOD. How long had it been since her water broke? A few minutes? A few hours? “Brand. Brand, -wake up-.” She shoved him hard enough that it could potentially push him off the bed if he wasn’t careful. “It’s starting. No, it’s already started.” It’s safe to say that Khitti was definitely panicking. She was definitely not ready for this. “S-someone has to go get Meri… and try to find Lionel.” Where even -was- Lionel right now? She didn’t know. She’d left him to his own devices again after he’d recovered from that trip to the Shadow Plane; she knew far too well about how one gets after they’re cooped up for awhile and she wasn’t about to subject her brother to that. “And get the necklace!”
Khitti || By the time Meri arrived some time later, Khitti’d already be in that bathtub, half naked and in the washroom of the bedroom they’d taken up temporary residence in on the second deck of the ship, the one that used to be solely Khitti’s. There was lots of crying and screaming and pain. Maybe she wasn’t actually pregnant? Maybe she just had a cyst like Kreekitaka assumed and she was dying. Again. No, no. It was definitely a kid and this kid wanted to come out finally. Khitti did not like the things that was happening to her body right now. That fiery death she’d had -might- actually have been less painful. No amount of comforting seemed to help right now as the contractions continued to grow closer and closer together as time progressed. “We’re never doing this again. Ever. Why did I even want to get pregnant in the first place? I’m stupid. So so stupid.” Much to Khitti’s dismay--and also if those visions her and Brand had shared were true--this would not be the last time this happened to her. But don’t tell her that.
Brand || What was starting? Oh gods, -that- was starting. With a yelp, Brand scrambled out of the bed and out the bedroom door--and rushed back in to actually put on pants--and then off he went to send word to Meri and to Lionel, and to fetch Lennier. Soon enough Brand returned with the elven healer; when Meri arrived, she would find Brand hanging back towards the door and Lennier coaching Khitti through her contractions.
Meri || Poor Kadence. Meri was usually mindful of how long and hard she ran the horse, usually their sprints were just enough to ensure that the horse was in decent shape and getting enough of the exercise needed. Kadence was pushed today, not to the extent that the horse would collapse from a heart attack from too much cardio, but Meri was determined to make it to Cenril in decent time. With the help of the crew, she would end up in the right area of the ship. From the bedroom portion of Khiiti’s former room, Meri would call out to the couple. “I am here! I am here!” She tried to keep her tone calm but that was not so easy to accomplish, as she was both excited and nervous. She could hear Khitti crying! By the time Meri arrived, Khitti was in the bathroom, but the blonde would not just barge in to the room. There were certain moments that some couples preferred to experience to themselves — Meri would not enter the bathroom area without clear invitation from Khitti and Brand. Meri, for now, would impatiently wait and occasionally pace from the restlessness of it all. Honestly Meri could not blame Brand for hanging back. This sounds...intense. What did you do to your woman, Brand? What the heck even?
Khitti definitely needed her Meri. She needed her Brand too, but she wasn’t going to force him to come in there if he didn’t want to. Lennier left Khitti’s side briefly after instructing Khitti on how to properly breathe through the contractions and would soon approach Brand and Meri, “You two can come in, if you wish. We all know she’s been through worse than this, so I’m quite sure she’ll get through this as well. Things seem to be progressing rather quickly. Either good luck is on her side for once or perhaps it’s another side effect of that gem contraption she was shot with. Regardless, I don’t think the hours will progress into the double digits as some pregnancies tend to.” The bald elf peered over his shoulder briefly, eyeing Khitti as she sniffled and tried to do as she was told, “Keep an eye on her and I will be back. She need something to calm her and for the pain.” With that said, he’d slip past the two blondes and head to the infirmary to gather some things.
Brand || Alright, Brand, buckle yourself in for a bumpy ride. He’d shoot Meri a look of unbridled fear (is it too late to undo this whole ‘conception’ thing?) before creeping into the bathroom and kneeling at Khitti’s side. “Hey, I’m right here. And Meri is, too. Just keep doing what Lennier told you. He said it won’t be long now.” He’d try to keep his voice from quavering, but make no mistake--he’d much rather be fighting some terrifying beast of Kahran’s than facing down prospective parenthood.
Meri ‘s eyes goes wide with horror. Lennier would be right back? BE RIGHT BACK?! Lennier himself did not seem concerned that something could happen in those few moments that he is gone but Meri is not so confident. What if...! Khitti makes a noise! What does that noise mean! What is happening! What do they do! Panic. That internal panic would continue until the time that Lennier returned to the room and when he did Meri would probably pin a look of ‘DON’T LEAVE US AGAIN’ on the healer. Brand enters the room, Meri follows shortly behind him. He assumes a position on one side of the tub, Meri finds her way to the opposite side. Brand tries to offer consoling words to Khitti. Meri on the other hand? Has some sage advice to offer to Brand right now. She whispers (to what point? Khitti is right there? Maybe comic effect? Something to help combat the nerves? Anyway...), “I think we are supposed to be holding her hand right now.” And then she would promptly try and take hold of one of Khitti’s hands, so the redhead can do her best to try and break it (okay not really) when she has to do that pushing thing.
Khitti || Despite all of that trying, there were still tears, although Khitti was a lot quieter about it now. Lennier left her, and the two blondes took his place, and none of it really seemed to register until Meri took her hand. The contractions had subsided for the moment thankfully, and Khitti was allowed to remove that deathgrip she’d placed on the tub and offer her other shaky hand towards the ship’s captain. “I know this isn’t something either of you want to hear, but… I’m really afraid of dying again.” Wide, olive-green eyes just stared at the water that half of her form was submerged in. “I don’t know if I can do this. Everything seemed fine until things finally started. I was perfectly content with this. To do this whole childbirth thing and to be a mother. It especially helped when even Brand seemed to be content with the idea of being a parent too. But now? Now, I don’t know.” The contractions would start again, and the two rather unlucky blondes would get their hands squeezed briefly with that deathgrip--it’s almost as if she were a vampire again with that newfound strength. Lennier eventually returned, and would get that pointed look from Meri, and returned it with one of his own that wasn’t so pointed and was definitely apologetic. He kept quiet, however, as Khitti went on, making his way into the room with a vial--a potion made of various herbs meant to soothe her. She didn’t have the luxury of sipping tea today, unfortunately. “Now I’m afraid of all the things that might happen if something goes wrong and it’s all I can think about.”
Brand eyed that necklace Onyx had left for Khitti, the unbroken lapis sparkling in reflection of the water Khitti was submerged in. “Nothing’s gonna go wrong, peach. You’ve got all of us here. We’ve come too far for it to go badly now.” It was a lot easier to confidently reassure Khitti than to reassure himself. But luckily, they no longer had that psychic bloodlink. Khitti couldn’t see the panic going on in his head--so long as he could confine it there.
Meri did not have the words in response to this. She did not know what Khitti was feeling at present. It could be normal pains of childbirth, but what if it was not. Another look toward Lennier, this one is not nearly as pointed. It was a studious glance, trying to read the healer for any signs of concern. Meri did not understand the significance of the necklace, it is an overlooked detail with the assumption that it’s presence is just happenstance. Brand is left to do the verbal reassuring. Meri on the other hand would give Khitti’s hand a gentle and reassuring squeeze, once the redhead eases up on that vicelike grip long enough for Meri to do so. No complaints come from Meri any time Khitti squeezes down on her hand, though there may be moments were Meri’s blue eyes find the ceiling. Suck it up, Meri.
Khitti || The verbal and physical reassurances were offered and Khitti could only sit there sadly, doing her best not to think about all of the bad things. “Here, drink this. It’ll work much quicker than those teas I’ve been giving you lately for the false contractions.” With Lennier’s help, Khitti would down the potion quickly and silently thanked the gods that it didn’t taste awful. Another contraction came quickly after the last and while Lennier was close, he made those quick, but rather uncomfortable checks of Khitti’s insides to see how far along she was. “Khitti.” The elf actually used her name for once, as opposed to the usual ‘ma’am’ he politely called her any time they crossed paths. The potion had already started to do its job, temporarily dulling Khitti’s senses enough to help her ignore the pain. That uncharacteristic use of her name was just the trick to get her attention as wide, uncertain eyes would settle on the elf that called to her. “The next time you feel that pain--and it will be soon--I want you to push. Then stop when the pain stops. Then push again when it starts.” Ohhhhh no. Khitti started to panic again, but did her best to shove it away to the back of her mind. She nodded slowly to Lennier, as he moved to kneel on the floor next to Brand, the hands of both blondes getting a squeeze--this time a bit more gentle and as if to say ‘I’m okay’.
Brand || “Not much longer now, right?” Brand was half asking Lennier, half asking Khitti herself. He wasn’t sure how much longer he’d be able to take the periodic death grip on his hand. Every time she had another wave of contractions, she’d do it again. Lennier might have to treat him for broken fingers by the time this was all said and done.
Meri was panicking. Khitti was panicking. Brand was panicking. The blondes were doing a good job of hiding it though, for Khitti’s sake. Brand was doing a better job at it than Meri, no question. Maybe the only one not panicking right now is Lennier, he seemed very business as normal. Which Meri took as a reassuring sign, but even if things were not normal, he probably would do everything in his power to stay calm, right? Sort of what the healing sort did? Command is given to push during the contractions and Meri assumes that it means it is time. Baby will be here soon! Meri looks first to Khitti, and then to Brand, and then to Lennier. Her blue eyes are basically going to bounce excitedly between the faces present until Khitti does the damn thing and they have a baby in their presence, one that is hopefully squawking and screaming at them. It’s a good sign when they make noises like that, or so Meri has heard. This is admittedly a first time thing for her, she has never been present. She usually sees them well after the fact and stares at them like they are some alien looking being that she might break if she sneezes wrong.
Khitti || No, Brand. It wasn’t long now. Lennier would nod in the affirmative to his employer and soon the end would come. There was lots of that pushing, and surprisingly not a lot of crying and screaming anymore on Khitti’s part (which Brand, Meri, and Lennier are likely thankful for), and then… that kid finally decided to show up. Something was… off… though. As Lennier lifted it out of the water and Khitti all but collapsed against the back of the tub once her part was done, it was clear that something was wrong? No, perhaps not. Lennier would blink several times at the baby’s predicament before finally tending to it. Meri would not be wrong in staring at that baby like it was an alien for he---yes he!--had some sort of odd bubble-like -thing- covering his entire body and it caused him to look very much like an alien in a pod. “Well that is entirely unexpected,” the elf stated in that calm way of his, as the bubble was popped and ever so carefully removed to reveal a perfectly normal and not at all alien child with quite a bit of raven-colored hair and green eyes, much like his father’s. “It seems like this run of bad luck you two are always have has finally run out. I’ve not actually seen it before, as it’s rather rare, but being born en-caul is considered rather lucky amongst the seafaring sort,” Lennier explained as the child was quickly cleaned up and wrapped in a towel before being gently handed towards Brand. This was all well and fine to Khitti and she’d probably process it a lot better later on and be really excited about it, but when that caul was the removed and that black hair was allowed to show, all she managed was, “Oh my god. I’m going to have twins someday.” All the color drained from her face suddenly and she almost looked like she was going to faint.
Brand took the newborn into his arms like a piece of fine china that might break if he so much looked at it funny. The kid screeched just to make sure his lungs were working, but soon enough was drooling contentedly on Brand’s shoulder. “What, why would you say--” Oh. *Ohhhhhh.* The black hair. The visions. Brand blanched quite a bit, and hurriedly passed the kid off to Khitti. “Well, frak our lives, I guess.”
Meri was definitely staring at the kid like it were some sort of alien. She was expecting some sort of screaming and crying, naked little thing to come out of Khitti...not....something in a pod. People in pod-like-things, she was not super keen on them, so there was also a hint of suspicion in Meri’s gaze. Meri herself was not sure how much she bought into superstition, so this tidbit about luck is lost upon her. Instead there is relief, for Lennier frees the kid and reveals a black-haired baby. Meri was definitely still staring, but she did not have that same look of horror that she did when it was pod-baby. Meri would release her hold on Khitti’s hand at this point, but not so that she could crowd after baby. Brand and Khitti got first rights to that. “Twins?! Why are you even thinking about twins right now?!” Meri did not understand. “I want to know if you guys have a little boy! Or girl! And a name!” Focus Khitti, focus. Give your lady-bits a chance to recover before trying for twins. Holy heck. Brand seemed to have some understanding of what this all meant — you focus too Brand.
Khitti || “Those visions Brand and I had… a long time ago...we had a little boy… and later on, twin girls,” Khitti said as she composed herself enough to take the child and hold him close. “They were just as much of a prophecy as those scrolls Emeritus had, apparently.” Careful fingertips gently played with that black hair. “-His- name is Dominic Connor, after his father and uncle.” She paused and took a deep breath, finally accepting things for what they were: fate. “And his sisters, when it’s their time, will be Merilyn and Maxine, after their aunt and their grandfather.” Khitti was strangely calm now as she held the child and almost didn’t want to part with it, but she soon would or else Aunt Meri would likely lose her mind. After that initial screech, Dominic seemed the quiet type and contented himself to looking around sleepily with those big green eyes. As Khitti handed the child off reluctantly to his aunt, Lennier went to work dealing with the afterbirth process, leaving Khitti to rest afterwards before she’d attempt to leave that tub.
Brand ’s sigh of acceptance mirrored Khitti’s, long and slow. There were worse things fate could have had in store for them, he supposed. And they should have plenty of time to get used to the one kid before twins got involved. Hopefully. He ruffled Dominic’s hair as he rested in Meri’s arms. “How do they come out havin’ that much hair already?” Or maybe they normally don’t, and this Dominic was going to be as much of an oddball as the last one from the get-go. Still, ‘oddball’ could be both good and bad. Because normally a newborn would bawl more than this, right? Maybe they’d be the only new parents around to get a decent night’s sleep the first year. That would be some luck well deserved after everything they’d been through to get this far.
Meri’s blue eyes transfer from Khitti to Brand was the tired woman explains the visions to Meri for the first time. It takes the blonde a second to pick up on the name ‘Merilyn’, this whole scene was overwhelming in a good way after all, but when she catches on to the name the corners of her lips are tugged up into a warm and wide smile. The child is taken into Meri’s arms and the poor blonde is basically done for. She stands no chance, slain by a bundle of adorable. “Dominic Connor,” Meri repeats, not too loud but loud enough that his parents can still hear the blonde. “That’s a good name. Maxine and Merilyn are adorable too. I am going to spoil them all rotten.” Aunt Meri proclaims. Brand barely finishes ruffling Dominic’s hair before Meri is passing the newborn off to dad. It is not because she is eager to give the baby up, but because Brand should -probably- have a chance to hold his own kid too. The tone of her voice for this next statement is a light-hearted one. Meri is joking. “Aunt Meri is going to be way cooler than Uncle Lionel. It will be fact. I will be the favorite. Just saying.” She smirks.
Lionel || The way out is through, and for Lionel O’Connor, the only way to make haste for the Tranquility is to deal with no fewer than five different unforeseen events first. The witches have an update on Cenril’s magical barrier and it’s bleaker than the last. The pattern is undeniable: it will soon burst and Kahran will invade in full. Mafiosos thinly disguised as politicians try to wrangle Lionel like a goat at every street turn along his inadvertently circuitous route, all of them asking what will be done in the increasing likelihood of that harrowing endgame. Alliance soldiers, patrolling Cenril with express permission from the mayor, attempt to brief Lionel on any number of reports. Some have seen dracoliches near Xalious and file a request to investigate probable enemy ties. Some bring word of red-eyed folk, peculiar and elusive, over the rocky crags and canyons by Venturil. There’s talk of the rescue of numerous Schezeradian citizens in a daring recent operation; one soldier formally asks Lionel to sign off on a promotion for Sylvia Tilly, wounded in active combat displaying remarkable bravery, and even with frenzied feet trying desperately to reach the Tranquility, Lionel knows he’d hate himself later if he doesn’t stop to sign off on that one.
Lionel || Through the crowded, grim-whispering streets, past the fish merchants and tinkerers and long voyage recruiters, underneath the faintly-glimmering sky of a magically-enshrouded city, Lionel is finally out of earshot of the din, and at last, as the Tranquility comes into sight at the wharf, he can mentally acknowledge the gravity of his summons: new life. All the more reason to save the world or die trying. His right arm, still too pallid by half and slung over his chest in a cast, aches with remembrance of the threat they face. Yet still, the world turns, and children are born with no knowledge of the darkness around every bend, helpless against the tide. That alone would fuel him to carry on. The fact that this one’s family is only further kindling. By the time he reaches the room his friends are gathered, steely resolve is in his gaze. But it shatters into soft and understated passion upon seeing the child for the first time. He arrives in time to hear Meri’s quip, but he’s too frozen, too stunned, to acknowledge it directly. Whatever he’d planned to say, it’s lost, but his face says more than mere words ever could: he’s glad to be here.
Brand || Lionel has arrived only just in the nick of time, as Lionel tends to do. He’s hardly had time to lay eyes on the newborn before there’s a shout from the deck above. Brand’s blood freezes at the sound of it: the crew’s sighted Facilier’s telltale portals off the bow. A soprano screech hails return of the undead Khitti clones -- and hadn’t they destroyed the lot of those at the temple of Cyris? But no, it seems Facilier still has more. The room they’re in is a small one, with one door to leave or enter by; Brand bars it in a hurry. The crew has their orders. And Brand has faith in them, faith without reservations, but the noise of combat and death in the halls above and below no less chilling. What a thing for their son to witness in his first moments of life.
Brand || Facilier, for his part, isn’t going to be stopped by a pesky little thing like a barricaded entryway. No, he’ll intrude via a portal cheekily set right into the doorframe, thankyouverymuch -- and he waltzes in, looking pleased as punch and as business formal as any preacher about to give his magnum opus sermon. He looks at each of his audience in turn, seemingly in no rush and with no fear of bodily harm. His gaze lands last on Brand, who grips the child a little closer. “You can’t honestly have thought we would come to any other end but this, could you?” asks Facilier through a smirk. “We can do this the easy way or the hard way. Accept your fate and give up the child and the mother now. You and your crew will suffer less for it.”
Khitti || This was probably the worst time for Khitti to be stuck in that tub still. She was quite tired, of course, but that mother bear instinct kicked in rather quickly. “Lennier. Help me.” Everything was awful and pain and bloody, but it didn’t seem to matter much--she’d been through worse, hadn’t she? The elf does as asked, and quickly, but the energy spent putting on clothing that wasn’t going to cause her much pain left Khitti to cling to the ship’s healer. She barely got things covered before Facilier made his entrance, the redhead managing a tired “You’re not taking him -or- me. I will die before that happens.” The sound of pounding on the door came to punctuate her words, the warm familiar red aura of a very unhappy Seika/Tenbatsu Kaji spilling through around the frame and under the door itself. Now was definitely the time where she wished she was more attuned with that sword. She knew she shouldn’t even be exerting herself -this much-, but what choice did she when they were up against Facilier?
Meri || Given Lionel’s timing, Meri would have punctuated her teasing with a wink to the battered Catalian. It did not seem like he was reading too much into the statement anyway, as he should not. It did not matter anyway. The group would not be allowed to bask in this happy moment, they were probably lucky to even have gotten as long as they did. The crew gives their warnings, Brand reacts accordingly by doing the one thing he can think to do — barricade them in. From what Meri has seen of Facilier, she did not believe that a simple barricade would stop him. She was right. A portal opens, perfectly placed, and there is Facilier. Meri is quick to turn and face the being that has caused them so much trouble, and even quicker to react. The blonde will leave the charging in with blazing sword in hand to Lionel this time around. Any furniture in the room that is not securely attached to the walls or the floor of the ship itself would take into motion and speed through the room in unison right toward Facilier. Sorry Brand, if Meri breaks it, she’ll buy it. Figure out the details later. This will include the very tub that Khitti just occupied, provided it won’t break anything that will cause flooding. A tub has some weight to it though. Needless to say that the psion does try and be as mindful as she can, she is not trying to take out one of her comrades with a piece of furniture. It was meant to be an annoying distraction so that someone like Lionel can do the thing with the sword and the stabbing, you know, like he is so good at doing. Do the thing, Lionel. For now Meri tries to keep herself positioned somewhere between Facilier and KhittiBrandDom.
Lionel spins around to face Facilier in an odd blend of stoic ever-vigilance and burning protective anger. Hellfire’s tip is horizontally flush across the room toward the man’s head before Lionel is even aware he’s drawn it. From just above the sword’s guard, a bright blue fire billows, first at the invisible seams at its sharpest edge and then quickly in a circle to coat the circumference. In a blazing instant, the connection of sapphire flame with sapphire flame sparks a chain reaction, covering the entire blade in a layer of death-dealing dicyanoacetylene. The heat is so intense that a nearby wax candle cakes and stiffens and then pops, but before it can start a chain reaction and catch fire across the room, Lionel flicks his azure eyes to behold the mess and it subsides, thinning and dissipating like ash. A flurry of motion overwhelms the small room. Meri’s psionic maelstrom spreads furniture far and wide, and although she’s done a fine job connecting its trail in waves that do not cross Lionel’s path, he nevertheless seizes the opportunity to sow further discord by quickly and quietly crouching, diving between chair and tub and assorted trinkets to mask his movement. All-the-while, Hellfire blazes, a beacon of hostile light in a dimly-lit environment, blurring into too-bright cacophony thanks to all his roguelike zigzags and bewildering full-bodied rolls. Then, quite suddenly, Catal’s Last Prince is leaping out of the fray, hopping through the chaos and into a spry lunge, feinting a long swing for Facilier’s neck before stopping his deception midway to his target and thrusting forth to impale the bastard through his chest with hell’s hottest fury.
Brand || Facilier heaves a theatrical sigh as the whirlwind of furniture batters him. One foot of the tub kicks him in the head, knocking his top hat away as it tumbles over him, and yet Facilier is unperturbed. He’s inspecting his nails for dirt as a chair knocks against his leg. Tenbatsu Kaji knocks, and Facilier is polite enough to unbar and open the door for the sentient sword, even greeting it with a little bow before closing the lot of them in again. The Umbrawisp replaces the barricade as Brand sends a gale of ice-storm daggers to pierce his flesh. The daggers succeed, but the flesh heals around them and they melt almost instantly, leaving no sign of the attack but thin cuts in the villain’s suit. Lionel’s thrust results in little but an exaggerated eye roll. With a flick of Facilier’s wrist, the furniture pieces fly back to their proper homes -- without smacking anyone on the way, it might be noted. “We’ll proceed whenever you’ve finished making a mess of my outfit then, I suppose. I had it tailored special for the occasion, you know.” So inconsiderate of them. So rude. And it looks like he’s going to miss his appointment for afternoon tea, too, at the rate this is going. Shadow Plane domination has a tight schedule to stick to, people, hurry it up with the shows of bravado already.
Khitti just blinked as Facilier ever so politely let… Tenbatsu Kaji in the room? Is he stupid? No, probably not. Just cocky. The sword flew to Khitti’s nearest hand and gifted her with a small boost of holy magic. A tug was given to that silver lapis-lazuli necklace that Onyx had given them, the identical twin of the one Khitti found in Raiez’s cave, albeit with an uncracked stone. If that ‘kid’ was going to do something, they needed to do it soon. She parted from Lennier, giving him a small wave of ‘I’m okay’--even though she wasn’t--and stepped ever so carefully towards the fray. “I’m sick of you. I’m sick of you blaming me for everything. I didn’t do that to Amarrah. I didn’t choose to be a part of some prophecy. I’m sick of you hurting my family. I’m sick of not being able to -live- because of you.” Furniture and flames and ice was flying around her head and yet Khitti didn’t seem to mind--this was just another normal day for them after all. If Facilier was just going to stand there, well, she was going to take that opportunity. She didn’t have the strength for fancy frakking footwork like Lionel’s or even much to muster that rose gold armor. So what did she do? Khitti von Schreier walked right up to a powerful priest of Vakmathras as if it were a casual stroll in the park and attempted to plunge that katana of hers--holy flames and all--right through his goddamned chest. Just die and drink your tea in hell, Facilier.
Meri is not about to give up the show of bravado so easily, much like everyone else in the room. The furniture is flicked back into place but the psion is fully prepared to do it all over again. Though this time Meri is sorely tempted to send that tub barreling through one of the ship’s walls to give them some sort of escape route should fighting not go as hoped - which it almost never seems to do with Facilier. Khitti’s sword is let into the room and Meri tries to find some amount of hope that perhaps it will give them the advantage that they need. The tattooed woman is hard pressed to cling to any amount of hope for long these days, though. Khitti’s sword finds its way into the woman’s grasp and there she goes, straight for Facilier. Meri is not surprised but she it’s against sending the furntiture flying around the room now that Khitti has entered the battle. She was tired, she did not have the footwork that Lionel did. Meri is still not going to stand around listlessly while Khitti solos it with Facilier. Her own blade is drawn, her own advance is made, and her own attempt to hack away at the priest is made. Her blade does not have any fancy hellfire, nor some snazzy spirit, or any holy magic. Realistically, this was nothing. It sure felt good to do though, even just to prove that none of them would give in without a fight.
Lionel || There’s nothing more Lionel can do in an enclosed space. To be sure, he could torch it all and stand a far greater chance of being rid of Facilier once and for all, calling forth Ishaarite powers capable of feats the Catalian never wants to remember. But even killing Facilier isn’t worth killing the rest of them. Anticlimactically, he sheaths his sword, in a fluid motion that simultaneously douses the blue-hot flames coating its steel as if they were never there to begin with. He watches Facilier coldly, more calmly than sullenly, akin to a warrior studying a predator, aiming to learn and adapt and be victorious. He listens to Khitti’s words, never taking his eyes off of their foe, poised and prepared to step between them if Facilier should seem to move with the same deceptive tactics that Lionel himself employs ably. But he does not intervene. It is possible that Tenbatsu Kaji’s unique breed of magical essence, the very holiness of its framework, will inflict damage like Hellfire never could. It is possible, in Lionel’s estimation of Facilier’s personage, that it must be Khitti who cuts a path to his end. More than ethereal arithmetic, it -feels- correct, too. At precisely the moment that Khitti comes within two meters of the Umbrawisp, her brother vaults ahead perpendicular to Facilier, his goal being to confound the man into blinking. Lionel hasn’t rushed headlong into danger, but rather, sideways of it, letting himself fall to the floorboards with a thud that sends fresh springs of agony coursing through his bad arm. The painful cry he makes will only further mystify, but by then it will be too late. He’s already tossed the dagger, lifted from its hidden holster beneath the low edge of his scarlet silk shirt, long before his tumble. It whirls, covered completely in a rare and immodest illusionary potion, concealed from view entirely, and bursts into existence so close to Facilier’s cheek that even he will be hard-pressed to see it coming. Perhaps this, in tandem with Meri’s heroic advance, will be enough to ensure Khitti’s vengeance.
Brand || Facilier is positively tickled by this new development. Khitti can plunge however many holy swords in him as she desires -- the sensation does naught but tickle him in a more literal manner. Meri’s blade feels as a mosquito’s sting, further shredding his suit to expensive tatters but barely felt otherwise. Lionel’s dagger sticks in the cavity of one eye socket, missing the gelatinous orb itself by millimeters. The move has hurt Lionel more than his target. How pitiable. Do they not see how powerful he has become? He plucks the dagger from his face and runs the tip of it down Khitti’s cheek, tender as a lover’s embrace. The move draws no blood. “Ma chérie. Miss von Schreier. What a pretty little fool you are. ‘Choice’ has no part to play in prophecy. Everything you see today is as it was foretold. Accept it and come willingly to my side, and you will be rewarded.”
Brand || Onyx, the first to turn coat, makes their entrance. From the shadows they appear, and the shadows stretch across the room to swallow what’s left of the light. Dark tendrils grasp Brand’s arms, prying the baby Dominic out of his clutches and carrying him to the undead’s waiting arms. Brand is clamoring after them, trying to regain his grip, when his eyes lock with Onyx’s and he freezes. Onyx looks back, blinks once, and stares pointedly at Facilier. The Umbrawisp has trailed Lionel’s dagger down to Khitti’s neck and is lifting up the lapis lazuli charm with the blade of the knife. The shadows have spread to the villain’s face; though he tries to hide it, something has disturbed his confidence. “You shouldn’t -- where did you get this…?”
Brand || As if waiting for Facilier to notice it, the gem of the necklace shatters and the chain falls off Khitti and onto the floor. A howling whirlpool of wind bursts from the gem and sucks Facilier closer, face first. His golden teeth fly out of their sockets and are funneled within. His earrings, too. The rings on his fingers are pulled by the force, taking the digits with them. And this time, the wounds do not heal. The power keeping Facilier invulnerable has been lost in this gravity well. It only thirsts for him, and the man can barely resist the pull, much less defend himself in this state.
Khitti glared up at Facilier as her sword failed her--as everyone’s attacks failed--and he ran that dagger along her cheek. He’d found that necklace and his confusion was clear as the shadows in the room made themselves known. Khitti may not be as acquainted with the darkness like she once was, but she knew what they meant--Onyx. Khitti took a few steps back from the necklace and its ever-growing whirlwind; it might not be meant for her, but she wasn’t taking any chances. She made sure to grab Meri’s arm as well. There was no way she was getting sent off elsewhere again. And if something happened and she did? Well, they’d go together. She had faith that Brand and Lionel would find them again. “I always have a choice and right now, I’m choosing to watch you die.” Feeling something off behind her, Khitti peered over her shoulder at Onyx and the fact that they had Dominic. And yet… Khitti did nothing. Despite all of Onyx’s betrayals, she somehow still trusted them.
Meri || Onyx has appeared and snatched the baby. Despite any conversations Meri might have had with the undead in the Shadow Planes, there is this anxiousness that Meri can’t help but feel. That was not the only thing that had Meri nervous. Facilier has plucked Lionel’s dagger out from the very socket of his own skull and is now dragging the tip of the blade oh so lightly down Khitti’s face, until it comes to the blue-stoned charm around the woman’s neck. Facilier seems unnerved by the sight of it, and when it shatters, and evidently behinds to consume him piece by piece. Meri has the sense that the thing to do is step back. Khitti takes hold of Meri’s arm, grabbing it just in case the blonde has the misfortune of being sucked off to another plane again. Another step back taken, just in case. Meri is feeling anything but calm or overjoyed, even though it seems they finally have a victory. Both eyes are fixed hard Onyx, watching their every move like a hawk. She is anxious, but she hopes that when Facilier falls, that Onyx will cooly hand Dominic back to Khitti or Brand. It’s not until she comes to the realization that Khitti herself does not seem to be in a panic over Onyx having Dominic that Meri finally relaxes.
Lionel rises less nimbly than he let himself fall, sliding up with a frustrated creak to pivot on his legs and rejoin the fight. Pulling Hellfire from its sheath once more, he flicks his wrist and wills the flames to return, hoping Ishaarite power will illuminate the room where all other light cannot so that his allies can see the conflict as it continues to brew. All the better for Khitti to see Facilier’s death in its every facet, to serve as coda to her rightful hatred, to give her what Lionel believes she needs the most when he hears her proclaim it so. His eyes flicker to Meri for the span of one half of a single second, calculating that her own eyes are locked on Onyx. Their arrival has long been noted in the back of Lionel’s mind as it works diligently to process all the disparate information of the battle in the keen and careful way that Lionel -- contrary to his swift speed and impulsive antics -- always possesses. Lionel steps forth in open defiance of the force that is pulling at Facilier, close enough to slam the tip of Hellfire into the floor, piercing it three inches where he lets it rest, and he hangs his forearm over its hilt for support so that he can grasp Khitti’s shoulder to further safeguard she and Meri against what lies on the other side of that well.
Brand || Facilier’s own bravado is gone, replaced by true fear. He knows what gift he’s lost to the maelstrom within the necklace. He knows he is already as good as dead, even if Khitti does not use any further holy magic on him. His eyes plead mercy -- please, he’s sorry, he totally didn’t mean it -- but the only mercy he’ll get is a quicker death than he would have given any of them, were their roles reversed.
Brand rushes to Meri’s side. All four of them stand arm-in-arm now, braced against a riptide that, so far, doesn’t seem to want to claim them. If the necklace affects -anyone- besides Facilier, it is Onyx, whose movements forward are as slow and calculated as one trying to wade against a current. Bits and pieces of Facilier are falling into the well, and yet Onyx seems to almost be repelled by the same force. It seems an eternity before Onyx plants their feet in front of the falling necromancer. The whole while, the newborn seems unaware of the danger, giggling at the wind, waving his arms, and booping Facilier on the nose once they’re close enough. (It thereafter tumbles from his face and into the necklace’s depths. He looks kinda like another famous villain now.)
Brand || It seems Onyx might say something of import, some final barb before Facilier falls. Certainly, a volume of meaning passes between the stares of the two shadow-wielders. But Facilier has little flesh or bone left to him now, and still the words are never spoken. Onyx blinks, and the last of Facilier is gone. The shadows are gone. The storm within the necklace is gone, leaving only a splinter down its middle. And Onyx… is gone. The baby Dominic is safely swaddled where they stood, gripping Onyx’s hat in his pudgy fingers and waving it about with oblivious glee.
Khitti continued to watch Amarrah’s father take his last looks around, begging, pleading for mercy that he’d never receive. Onyx’s movement towards Facilier and the necklace hadn’t gone unnoticed, however. Things started to piece together in Khitti’s head, tiny fractions of the giant puzzle that only Meri knew the whole of, but even as this happened, it was too late. The whirlwind was gone. Facilier was gone. -Onyx- was gone. Khitti released her hold on Meri and pulled away from Lionel to kneel beside Dominic, Onyx’s hat, and the necklace. “Onyx…?” There were tears almost immediately as the realization that the undead was gone and probably never coming back hit her, a hand finding that bit of jewelry and picking it up to inspect it. She never got to apologize to them for being so moody, so… human sometimes. She wanted to show them the hard candies in her shop. She wanted to practice archery with them and have them modify the runes and enchantments on her bow. She wanted to officially be friends with them and now…?
Khitti || Why did she feel like this? Why was there this immeasurable cloud of sadness just pouring over her like a rainstorm? Onyx had been nothing but a jerk to her for the majority of their duration in Brand’s employ and yet… It didn’t matter anymore. It was over. Finally. But, there was still a hole left in Khitti’s heart regardless; it’d join the rest left by the former Dominic, Lydia and her family, and even Amarrah. It was a lot for the redhead to deal with and once the fact that it was over now hit her, she only truly realized how tired she was… and promptly fell over onto the floor next to her son, who continued to wave around that hat triumphantly as if they were the hero that defeated a great evil, just like the rest of his family.
Meri || And just like that it was over, Dominic was left sitting swaddled before them. Brand and Khitti were left to swipe up their own child. A look is shared with each of the individuals. This was probably a time for celebration, but Khitti literally just gave birth. So Meri celebrates by giving her a hug. Brand will be given another one of those fistbumps that she seems fond of, and Lionel will get one too but she is a little more skeptical about how he’ll receive it. Meri might know something about something in regards to Onyx, the blonde has not fully pieced together what to say to Khitti about it yet. Admittedly she had been sworn to secrecy, and thus she has tried very hard to not even put to much thought into it. Not until this moment, Onyx was gone and Khitti was saddened by this revelation. Meri frowns. This was not the time though, Khitti needed to enjoy a moment of peace and rest. So Meri excuses herself. “Gonna go see if I can’t put myself to good use before I head out.” It sounded like there was a skirmish for the crew to deal with too. Meri would help where she can before departing.
Lionel || The only thing that matters to Lionel is that it’s over and his family is safe. Why, then, does he feel as if he’s lost another member of that family in Onyx? Familiarity, he supposes; he’d be sad if a long-serving member of the Alliance died, after all, and there’s no other tangible explanation for it. It feels like more than that, though, even so. He shakes his head, moaning a soft displeasure at the whole sensation. Meri’s fist taps into his knuckles in the time before he’s unfurled his fingers from the grip of his sword, and he does a double-take but his face is almost sheepishly serene. It’s the same look Meri will have seen in him multiple times of late, the look of a man who for once in his life is unequivocally dedicated to passion of his neverending battle and the warmth he harbors for those who fight alongside him. He surveys Khitti in her passed-out sprawl, surveys Dominic in his theatrics, surveys Brand beside them both, and speaks the first thing he’s said since he appeared. “Congratulations,” he says with a smile. Turning back to the psion, he’ll nod and keep his sword drawn. “I’ll join you, Meri.”
Brand || Meri and Lionel left the room, swords drawn… to nothing. There were no sounds of combat above or below, no signs of it to the left or the right. There was but one mate rolling a barrel down the hall, who stopped and gave them a curious look. “Everything all right in there? I was just rolling this to the crew quarters. Figured a party was in order once the kid was out, and the missus might want to partake in some spirits.” Not he nor anyone else they might inquire with could say anything about a fight happening recently -- not with Khitti copies and not with anything else, either. The sounds of battle, it seemed, had been limited to the birthing room, another illusion to make it seem that Facilier had the upper hand.
Brand picked up Dominic, and carefully pulled Khitti to her feet, too. She wasn’t the only one confused and hurt in the wake of Onyx’s disappearance -- that much was clear on his face. But the crewman outside was right. This was a time for celebration. Perhaps their answers would find them later, but it was unlikely they’d find them here and now.