Towering over the abyssal forest, the dark mass of House Dragana is no less eerie than the vegetation, or lack thereof, in which it stands. The mansion's outer perimeters are flanked by the twisting trees and there are no gates to prevent the seemingly less desirable denizens of the forest from trespassing upon the property. A sleek, obsidian walkway runs from the house's entry to the path. The only source of light without comes form wrought-iron lanterns that are placed on either side of the walkway, spaced perfectly from one another. Within them, an eldritch glow of a deep, verdant hue flickers. Those brave enough to approach House Dragana's doors will be greeted with iron knockers bearing blackened skulls, their eyes set with emeralds that glow with the same light from the lanterns. Within the house's walls, there is no shortage of decadence. Only the most elegant of furniture is placed throughout its rooms. A grand staircase of blackened wood leads to the upper levels, where rooms for those that reside within the house can be found. Midway up, the stairs split to the left and right, spiraling upward. Here, there is a landing with a set of double doors that leads to a large ballroom. The lower level of the house plays host to a dining area and kitchen, though rarely used, a grandiose library filled with grimoires and tomes, and a small museum of artifacts collected by the house's residents. Though there appear to be no candles to light the way, an ethereal glow floods the innards of the house, providing ample reading light - undoubtedly arcane in origin. Dark magic is weaved into the house's existence as a measure of protection.
Khitti hadn't talked much since the incident with the mindflayer. Her mind was even closed off from Daer nor was there any emotion present on her features as she wandered languidly from their bedroom to the library. Not a book was chosen to read, whether it be to study or recreational purposess, the vampiress finding a seat in one of the small, but cozy armchairs of the room. The usually happy woman seemed like nothing more than a wraith, lost in her own thoughts.
Pilar 's head lifted upon noticing another person in the large, mostly empty library. It was a woman she had never seen before, and it made her nervous. She reminded herself that the Lady of the house had magic protecting the property, and that this woman was thus not likely to be an intruder, but still she was antsy. As Pilar watched her, however, the anxiety ebbed. This woman did not seem to mean any harm; rather, she looked quite vulnerable. Pilar hesitated to leave her seat and descend to the lower level of the library, as she had no idea what to say or if her presence would even be welcome.
Daermon had not slept. He had not tried to talk to Khitti. Dark thoughts and purpose swirled within the former assassin. As Khitti padded from the room, he watched her go, sad at her own broken state, ashamed of his, but not knowing how to fix both. Not knowing any way but one. He rose and dressed fully, everything but his cloak. He picked up his scabbarded sword and followed Khitti to the library. As he entered his icy gaze sought out Khitti and happened upon Pilar. Nodding to Pilar, even managing a small smile, he moved to stand before Khitti. "I need your help with something." he says quietly.
Khitti had smelled the other female on her way in, but didn't seem to care at all. There was a faint twinge of guilt deep in the recesses of her mind for being so rude to Pilar and one day she would definitely like to meet her with her usual cheerful self, but today was not that day. Instead, for now, she's given a vague glance, the look in her eyes somber and withdrawn, before she fixates on Daermon. His words are heard, crimson brows furrowing slightly as she sighs, "With what?"
Pilar gave Daermon a small wave, but stops when the strange woman looks at her. When Daermon approached the stranger, Pilar noticed with surprise that she can hear their words despite the distance. She was glad that her assessment had been correct, seeing as Daermon at least seemed to know the woman, and wondered at the nature of their relationship.
Daermon met Khitti's verdant gaze with his own icy one. He needed help for what he was to retrieve but he needed to try to break her out of her stupor more. "I need to go up to the frozen palace in the Xalious mountains. There is something I left there. I need to retrieve it. I require your aid." his eyes shift up to Pilar. "Yours too, if you'd like to offer it." he added. He went about buckling the sword to his back with practiced ease, though any who knew him might find it odd that he wore no cloak or coat, just a light, have open black tunic.
Khitti stared up at him for quite some time before finally looking away, a frown finding its way across her lips, "Okay.." She didn't feel like she'd be much help at all, but she could at least be a quiet companion for him along the way. She had noticed that he didn't have his cloak, asking as she planted bare feet on the floor, intending to return to their bedroom for her travelling boots, "Do you vish for your cloak?...I shall be ready in a moment."
Pilar was surprised when Daermon addressed her. "Erm, okay, I will help, yes." She wasn't sure /how/ she could be of any help, but she wished to make herself useful. She closed the spellbook she was reading and stood up. "I will get my bag and we will meet by door, yes?"
Daermon nodded to both women. "Agreed. I'll see you both there." Addressing just Khitti he shook his head. "No. I will not be needing it for a time. I'll meet you at the door my love." He kisses her forehead, forcing the contact, though she might not want it. He simply would keep trying to break thru to her. "I will tell you both what we are doing on the way."
Khitti frowns a bit more as he oddly enough doesn't want his cloak. It only seemed to make her more sad when she's kissed, but she doesn't allude to it in any way, accepting it quietly before turning and heading back to their room. The boots are placed on her feet finally and laced up, the woman hesitating for a few minutes. The vampiress resolves in her mind that she will indeed go, despite her doubts and meets them at the door, in silence once again.
Pilar smiled slightly at the kiss. Ah, so she must be the "Khitti" woman Daermon had spoken so fondly of. She couldn't help but wonder at Khitti's lack of reciprocation, though, and chalked it up to her not feeling well. Though... could vampires even become ill? Another question for the list. She returned to her room and grabbed her bag, placing her dictionary and a couple novice spellbooks inside before heading for the door.
Daermon :: Once they were all assembled at the door, Daer would wave it open, the large doors splitting apart as the started the trek. It would not take long for the tireless vampires. "We are going to the frozen palace in the Xalious Mountains as I said. I left some gear there...many years ago. It is irretrievable for one person, even a vampire. I need at least three of us to lift the block that it is hidden under." He had intended it to be so, so that he could not retrieve it on his own. "Pilar, you are not aware of this, but something dark has stirred against us, and perhaps the rest of the house. This is Khitti, by the way," he says, making a hurried introduction as he set off at a fast pace. They would have to work to keep up with him. "She is my love and my fledgling. Normally much more chipper. Khitti this is Pilar, the master less fledgling." Introductions done he went quiet, his determined stride devouring ground. He was sure they had questions, and he would answer them if they asked.
Khitti spared another glance for Pilar as they were introduced, dipping her head slightly in a nod. The female brought nothing with her as she was accustomed to. Not her father's axe and not her mother's hat. She didn't care. The vampiress kept up with his pace as best as she can, but she was distracted, her line of sight focused on the ground. She wondered about this equipment he had left, but kept her thoughts to herself.
Pilar smiled at Khitti upon introduction. "Hello, it is nice to meet you." The assertion that Khitti was unusually dour almost made Pilar ask what was wrong, but she decided against it, at least for the time. It wasn't her place, as a stranger, to be asking potentially personal questions. They walked in silence for some time before she bent down and picked up a stone. As they walked, she focused her energies on the rock. It took the form of a flower briefly, before Pilar tripped and fell flat on her face, shattering her concentration, and the illusion.
Daermon stopped as he heard Pilar fall, bending to gently help her to her feet. "I felt the magic that time. I see you've been practicing." he offered, eyes on hers as he helped her to her feet. "Good. You might need your magic yet. And a weapon if you have it." Once she was settled, he picked the pace back up, though they were making good time. He spared a worried glance at Khitti, though said nothing.
Khitti heard Pilar fall, but didn't try to help. What was the point? She does stop when Daer does, but still remains fixated on the ground. It didn't matter who or what she looked at. There was only one face she saw: Lydia's. Pilar's magic was felt as well, like Daer had, but thought nothing of it. She had wondered briefly what had become of her darkness, but she knew the answer before it was asked. It had receded away much as she did, not even the comfort of Daer's own shadow helping it.
Pilar dusted herself off, embarrassed at her clumsiness. "Not enough, I... wait, what are we doing?" It hadn't occurred to her that they would be needing weapons. Not that she was going to bow out after she agreed to help, but now she was a little nervous.
Daermon turned his head, calling over his shoulder. "Not for this. That's why I brought mine. But the evil I spoke of. A mind flayer is intent on Khitti. I have sworn its death. It will be no small thing though, it is ancient and powerful. It knows where we live, and flayers have no compunction about killing those the intended target knows...or worse." he whispered the last part as the neared the pass thru the mountain. "I never hoped to see these items again..." he muttered more to himself than anything else. It was then that Barnabus made his appearance, flapping in from the way they were going, landing on the tall mans shoulder, chittering and chattering. "Good. Keep a watchful eye, but stay close. I might have need of you my friend." the elder replies to the bird.
Khitti 's pace lessened as he spoke of the mind flayer, giving the other two a bit of distance between them and herself, though she was still able to keep up. A ghost of a smile crosses her lips at the sound of that familiar crow and it's 'conversation' with Daer. It had tried so hard to make her feel better, but she just couldn't push past and climb out of the hole she'd fallen into. It was much too deep and too terrifying.
You said to Daermon, "A... mind... flayer?" She had no idea what a 'flayer' was, but it didn't sound too pleasant. And it wanted Khitti? No wonder the poor girl was so down. She stared at the crow as it landed on Daermon's shoulder. As it chattered, she reached out and stroked its feathers. That's when she discovered its undead state. She surreptitiously wiped her hand on her cloak. "What a... nice friend you have."
Daermon laughed lightly as Barnabus chattered at Pilar then took flight to do as he was asked. "He is much like us, not everything he seems. But yes, nice." He ignored the fact that she wiped her hand on her cloak. "Khitti, tell Pilar what a mind flayer is..." he says, hoping to draw the woman out of her shell a bit.
Khitti sighed at his attempt to get her to talk, but did so regardless. "A mind flayer is a terrible, ancient evil vith zhe body of a man and zhe head something along zhe lines of a squid or octopus." She pauses, dwelling on the thought of it, the being that had haunted her mind for so long. Knew every bit of her. Every thought. Every emotion. Much moreso than Daermon. Shaking her head, she continues, her voice low, though they would still be able to hear it as she trailed behind them a few feet, "Zhey are telepathic in nature and use zhese abilities to prey upon zhe minds of zhe veak..." The weak. That's what she was. That's what she'd always be. She knew it. She'd always known it. Her words trailed off and no more was said, the woman distracted still.
Pilar hadn't understood a thing Khitti had said. Though it had been improving, her Common was still mediocre at best, and Khitti's accent didn't help. Pilar didn't know what 'squid' or 'octopus' or 'veak' was, and some turns of phrase still flew over her head. She felt so foolish, all she could do was just nod her head in an attempt to save face.
Daermon , though he didn't seem like it, was paying attention not only to where he was leading them, but to everything around them and the women behind him. He stopped, first turning to Pilar. Placing a hand on either side of her face, and not as gently as he could, he locked eyes with her. Basically he was doing a mental dump of mind flayers into her brain directly with his telepathy. He was as out of character as Khitti. After the dump he left Pilar to sort thru the new thoughts and images of the mind flayer race, the danger the house was truly in. He moved to Khitti next, forcing her to look him in the eye. "Dammit Khitti, I need you here, now. I need you to be present. It is my fault this thing is free to do as he wishes." He tried to get thru to her with his love...if that did not work, then there were...other options.
Khitti really wasn't in the mood to be told that this situation was his fault. It wasn't. He may have turned her, but she was the only that chose. She was the one that didn't realize the mind flayer's presense sooner. It was ~her~ fault. The vampiress narrows her eyes at him, her words unkind from the madness that had begun to grip her once again, "I ~am~ here. I'm here because you asked me to be despite zhe fact zhat I am completely useless. You could've brought along Margret and had been better off." She sidesteps away from the vampire, attempting to continue on along the path.
Pilar was greatly shocked and not just a little upset by Daermon's invasion of her mind. She stumbled away from him as he turned his attention to Khitti and sat down on a rock, trying not to burst into tears. Such horrible visions danced in her mind, and she felt fear of a magnitude she had only felt on one other occasion. She didn't want to be here anymore. She just wanted to run away.
Daermon :: The fact alone that Daermon was so not himself conveyed the amount of fear and worry he placed on this subject. His eyes narrowed dangerously as Khitti tried to sidestep him. The flayer and the memories it had brought back as his time as a slave had touched that madness buried within him. "Fine." he snarled. "Go. Crawl back to the house. Be as useless and pathetic as you think you are. Wallow in self pity. I'll do what needs to be done without you." He turned and walked away, leaving both women to do as they would. He almost apologized to Pilar...almost. But the madness seed was blooming and just then, with anger as it's fuel, he didn't care that he had violated her mind. His steps led him the last few hundred yards to the large mansion, covered in ice and it's door. Kicking the frozen mass, the ice encased hinges snapped and the door fell to the floor with a loud boom, ice cracking and breaking. If they followed him inside, this is what they would see.
This refuge is purely remarkable. All is iced over, including the floor, yet you are able to walk normally. There is a mantle and a large crystalline fireplace to your right. As you look inside it, ice crystals stick up as fire would, and heat radiates from within the transparent flames. The walls here are so thick that little of the suns light reaches through, for if it could the result would probably be blindness. It does allow for the reflection of some of the light though, making candles during the daytime unnecessary. You suddenly notice the effect of the fireplace as the cold of the north has left your bones and body, you are warm in this enclosure of ice. To your north there is a stairway that leads to the second floor of this place. To the south appears to be leading to an exit.
Khitti is shaken somewhat by the vampire's harsh words and anger. A deep frown finds her lips and a glance spared for Pilar in a vague, apologetic way as she passes by the other as she tried to make sense of the memories that was forced upon her. She fought the tears that stung at her eyes, but ultimately failed as she kept her head down, her verdant line of sight on the ground. Still she stayed with him regardless, following along as they approached the mansion. As the door is kicked down, she wipes the streaks from her face and attempts to compose herself enough to seem somewhat interested in the icy building.
Pilar stayed where she was, unwilling to follow one who betrayed her. In between the terrible thoughts implanted in her mind, she berated herself for letting her guard down. This is what comes of trusting outsiders. Only family could be relied upon, and her family was dead. She had to keep others at arm's length, for her own safety. She would have gone home, if she remembered the way. So instead, she remained outside on her little rock.
Daermon felt genuinely sorry for what he had done to Pilar...in the back of his mind that was still the friendly, caring Daermon. Something else, something more primal, more dangerous, more vicious was in charge now. A madness. Fear fueled a fire of rage and the oath he had sworn to kill the mind flayer. He moved before the strange hearth, examining a large stone square. Pilar had not entered, Khitti had said she didn't want to help. So he would do it alone, well, more or less. "Barnabus!" he roared. The crow streaking in thru the open door, the shape dissolving into the shadow man that Khitti had seen before. His dark passenger, the source of his magic. "We have work to be about my friend." Daermon locked arms with the shadow version of himself and it flowed over him, thick and viscous. The shadows stretched and bent as he pushed his hands into the frozen stone floor, slowly at first, then farther and farther. Past his wrists, past his elbows, bending farther and farther as he was shrouded in that seething darkness.
Khitti stopped in her path behind Daermon, watching as he summoned the crow and the change that came soon after. She frowns, opening the link between them finally, her sadness flowing through it. ~Daer...please...~ The vampiress was quickly realizing that this was the dark side he had always spoken of. She had helped to bring it back and she was in no way proud of it. The fact that Pilar had not followed was finally noticed, the necromancer pivoting about on booted feet to take her back to the other female. She comes to a halt in front of her, looking down at her with sad eyes, guilt in her words, "Pilar..'tis not always zhis vay. Please...he needs our help." The elder woman holds out her hand, hoping Pilar would take it. Hopefully, there would be more time to apologize later.
Pilar made no move to take her hand. "He hurt me." Her mother had always said that the person you are on your worst day is the person you really are. She had forgotten that kindness could be faked, but cruelty was always real. She wiped her eyes. "He gave to me help, then he hurt me. How do I know this is not the real Don Daermon? Because you say? How do I know you are not the same? You are cold to me and him all the way here."
Daermon or the part that was really him, felt a sharp pang in his heart, his enhanced hearing picking their words up easily. Ignoring the opened link, the sadness that tore his heart, he didn't respond to Khitti. He had thought the information dump was more important, Pilar deserved to know the danger and they didn't have time to explain it properly. The part that was in control though snorted, his arms buried in the stone almost up to his shoulders. This feat would not have been possible without the shadow magic and he hadn't wanted to try because he knew, knew that it would use up his reserves of energy and he'd have to feed, If he didn't hurt himself in the attempt. He began to lift, fingers having found the bottom of the enormous stone. The sounds it made was reminiscent of the kind a frozen lake make when it cracks, the strange ping and echos. A growl turned to a roar in his throat as he screamed out his rage, his anger, his frustration and the strain of trying to move something far to heavy even for he. The ground beneath his floor cracked as the stone groaned and began to rise, slowly, inch by inch. The sound was truly the voice of madness, a sound no mortal man could have made without destroying their throat.
Khitti shook her head at Pilar, sighing softly, "You..are not zhe only one who has been hurt. You know nothing of vhat is going on now. He tried to show you..to make you understand, but it vas not zhe right way. He's...He's just trying to protect me. Zhe one he loves..." Upon hearing Daer, she looked towards the mansion and darts off to assist him finally, a faint apology muttered for the girl. If she truly wished to stay at House Dragana, she'd have to realize that things were not always going to be easy. That everyone had a dark side. Like a blur, the vampiress rushed to his side, her own darkness summoned out of it's void. Dark tendrils spiral out of her fingertips and embed itself into the rock, branching out, strangling it like a vine in order to get a better hold to help bear the weight.
Pilar whipped her head around at the scream. She watched Khitti run off and into the mansion, but didn't move at first. Finally, curiosity, or something else, compelled her into the building. She gasped at the dark energies swirling around the couple. She was afraid to get near them, but Daermon's screaming was a sound of agony, and she wanted it to stop. She made her way forward, unsure of how to help. She had no magic, only her muscle. She knelt down and lifted, and finally her vampire strength manifested.
Daermon :: Between the three the square of stone began to shift quicker, the elder vampire straightening as the stone came free, his scream dying off as each woman added her strength to his. A final shove and the large block tumbles to the side, revealing a chest buried in the soft dirt. Daermon reached down and grabbed the handle, pulling the large chest from the hole. He looked to each of them, nodding his silent thanks a touch of sadness in his eyes at his actions. There was no lock on the black chest, firstly because no one knew it was there but him, secondly because even if they did, only a few creatures could have moved that block. Undoing the clasps, he opened the chest, revealing an assortment of gear, the lid oddly enough on the inside held a single item. It was a katana style sword, as long as the chest, six feet including the hilt. It was black, blacker than black, almost an absence of color at all. The women, both magically attuned, would feel the blaze of magic with the chest open, these items were all heavily enchanted.
Khitti 's magic recedes for now, the woman feeling weak physically in addition to the emotional that had been plaguing her mind. Knealing beside Daer, the rush of magic from the opening of the chest causes her to shiver a little, a worried sigh escaping her lips. Regardless, she eyes the random contents on the container before looking to the sword. Tilting her head, she reaches a hand out to touch the odd weapon, a frown forming as she wonders about who he may have had to use it on.
Pilar hugged herself and looked away from Daermon. She didn't want his thanks. She didn't care about the contents of the chest. She'd done what she had agreed to do, and now she wanted to go home. She turned and walked toward the entrance to the mansion, where she was going to wait for them to lead her home.
Daermon turned his eyes slightly, watching Pilar go. You must try to make things right, the small voice whispered, the one he knew was Barnabus in the back of his mind. The madness faded for a moment as he pulled a small curved dagger from the trunk. It was about a foot and a half long, dark leather wrapped hilt and a dark green on the scabbard with a slight curve to the blade. "Give us a moment, will you?" he asks Khitti, more for her to stay there while he rose, moving to talk to Pilar. Quiet steps brought him before the woman, the dagger offered up. Icy gaze finds hers. "I'm sorry Pilar. I could say many things to try to justify my actions, but I do regret them. If you wish to not speak again with me after we get to the house, I understand. We will lead you home. It will only be a little longer here. But please, take this with my apology. It might save your life one day." The blade was heavily enchanted, though he didn't remember with what. Perhaps it was something she could use with her magic, perhaps not. He hoped to mend the rift he had made, but only Pilar could decide that.
Khitti almost touched the blade of Daer's sword, but ultimately decided not to let her curiosity get the better of her. She'd done enough touching of enchanted objects lately, resulting in that burn on her hand, and certainly wasn't going to do it again until she was told it was alright. The vampiress does her best to not eavesdrop on the two, her hand retracting to her body and lacing it's fingers together with that of it's sibling. She lays her hands in her lap as she sits back onto her feet, eyeing the chest briefly and then shifting her sight elsewhere in silence.
Pilar turned away from Daermon. She was not ready to forgive him, nor take anything he offered. She wasn't sure she could even stay at House Dragana, anymore. His betrayal had cut deep, made her doubt her other friendships. If someone who had been so kind could have hurt her so, what was stopping Lady Larewen from doing the same? This whole debacle was a painful reminder that she had to learn to stand on her own, because she couldn't depend on anyone else.
Daermon sighed, laying the weapon at her feet. "Take it or don't. I'm still sorry. The danger that we all face...it's better to be armed, but I will not force anything else on you..." He turned away then, having tried, but like he had said, he couldn't force her forgiveness. She either would or wouldn't. She is young, the voice says, what does she know of ancient evils and war? You were too harsh with her. The world is harsh, Daer replies, she must learn or she will die. I had no malice in my actions, only her safety. She will learn the hard way if she does not take heed. The whole conversation with his dark passenger happened in the time it took for him to reach Khitti and the chest. He unbuckled the straps to his sword, laying the object, one of his most prized possessions off to the side. He slowly moves things from the chest. A set of bracers that were sheaths of throwing daggers were strapped to each wrist. Some items went on the floor, others on his person. A wolf's head medallion went around his neck, a black onyx ring that sucked at the eyes when stared at too long went to his hand, the opposite one where he wore the ring from Khitti.
Khitti had still overheard the lack of a response from Pilar and the words that Daermon offered to her. She shakes her head and sighs, placing a hand on his arm in an attempt to comfort him. Despite his harshness, she would always forgive him, always love him. She knew of his dark nature, just as he knew of her own and that's what made their bond stronger. Quietly, she watches as he adorned himself with his belongings of the past, curiosity taking hold once more as she turns her attention to the things that were set on the floor.
Pilar was not the only one who had things to learn. Daermon was old enough that he should have known that his actions had consequences. No matter how noble he thought he was, he had made an error in judgment, and a simple 'sorry' was not enough to set it right. It was Daermon himself who had started to convince her that she deserved better. If he valued their friendship, he would have to offer her more than a dagger and some nice words. Still, she supposed, a weapon to defend herself was a better start than nothing. She knelt down and picked up the knife.
Daermon had become lost in the box, the mechanical nature of pulling things out and setting them aside. Dark mithril chainmail went over his shirt, a bow was pulled from the box but set aside. He did not need that piece. He had his normal bow which was quite enough. Only two items remained when he was done, the sword and it's sheath in the lid and a folded garment. His hands shook as he reached into the chest, gently grasping the black leather garment and rising with it, unfolding it carefully, eyes only for the black material. Are you sure? says the voice, you know what this will do. I am sure, he replies, there is no other way. The flayer is too strong. I will be with you my friend, but even I cannot stop it, the voice reminds. I know...comes the whispered reply, I will find my way back again.
Khitti eyes the bow as it's set aside, her head tilted curiously as he appears to not need it. The sleek, black weapon seemed to call out to her and her darkness. She reaches out to touch it and inspect it, but before she could, her magic reacted to it. Those familiar tendrils reappeared, the dark purple wisps circling the bow, studying it for itself. The necromancer is taken off guard by such a reaction, crimson brows furrowing as she looks to Daer for some sort of an answer. She'd find him rising with that strange leather armor of his, a frown finding her visage again as she wondered what was going through his mind.
Pilar could feel... something in the dagger, though she didn't know what, and that frightened her. She almost put the blade back down, but figured she could ask Lady Larewen to look at it. She looked back up, wondering what was taking so long, and spotted the odd look on Daermon's face as he gazed on the garment. She was beginning to think that maybe these items belonged under that rock.
Daermon had completely forgotten the women existed. The leather garment unfolded into a black leather duster, but...different than his old one. This one was more like armor, and armored duster, though, the pieces seemed as though they had all been forged as a whole, not having to be sown on. The lining was a deep blood red as he slipped the long coat on, the bottom brushing the floor. The shoulders bore armor, as well as the chest and back. Even the long flaps down to the legs seemed to ripple like scales. Daermon shook from emotion at the thing on him once more as he reached for the hilt of the sword in the lid, the magical pressure increasing, doubling, tripling over and over as he drew the long blade free. Darkness oozed from him like smoke from a fire as he screamed again, the aura around the elder vampire so strong it could be seen by the naked eye, untouchable.
Khitti 's attention remained on her beloved, rising to fully look on him. The darkness that radiated from him was terrifying indeed, his scream causing her to cringe, but nevertheless she reached a hand out to him. Just as she always did, she tried to touch his face, the bow forgotten for now as the woman tried to get his attention, tried to draw out even just the tiniest amount of his light side, "Daer.."
Pilar knew as soon as she heard Daermon's scream that she had been right. Dropping the blade, she turned and ran out the doorway. She crouched down on the other side of the wall, hands over her ears as she tried to block out the sound and calm herself. She choked back a sob as she began to be overcome with panic. What... what was she supposed to do? She had only a basic knowledge of magic at best, and no knowledge of whatever it was that was going on inside. She was as powerless as she always was.
Daermon :: As quickly as it had all began, the scream stopped and Daer dropped to one knee, sword sliding point first into the stone floor as though it was butter. The oddest thing happened as Khitti stood before his kneeling form, Pilar after all was outside, but would see soon enough. Starting at the top of his head, his long, find black hair...streaked with blood red locks, the two colors mingling, alternating black and red, the same color as the lining of the duster. As he raised his head and opened his eyes, only one remained ice blue. His right was crimson as a bloody tear rolled down his face. He smiled then, the shark smile that was all fangs instead of teeth and rose to his full height before her. "Oh my yes...that feels so much better. We have been apart too long..." he seemed to be speaking...to the sword?!
Khitti took a step back from the elder vampire as his change continued, worry creeping into her mind. Pilar's fleeing went unnoticed for now, the vampiress much more concerned with her beloved. Her attempt to speak to him had gone unheard and his sword addressed before she was. That annoyed her quite a bit. The frown turns to a bitter smirk, verdant eyes fixed on him as she tries again, her words stern with just a touch of anger, "Daermon." The nickname was gone just like that. Was the sword really more important now? This was not her Daer and she realized that he likely wouldn't be for quite some time.
Pilar risked a peek into the room when the screaming stopped. She was quite taken aback at Daermon's physical change, as well as his demeanor. Slowly, she crept back into the room and retrieved the dagger. She hoped she wouldn't have to use it.
Daermon turned his eyes first to Khitti, then to the sound of Pilar's footfalls. Those new, mismatched eyes as he wiped away the bloody tear. Fixing Khitti with the new gaze, his grin widened at the notice of her irritation. "Yes, Khatherine?" he asks, as though nothing at all was the matter. Except...he never used her full name. His voice was...different now. It no longer held the slight accent he usually had, and seemed, deeper, more echo-y? Surely it was a trick of the mansion. He slide the blade free from the floor, then once more into its sheath, going about strapping it to his back. "Pilar, be a dear and put that other junk back in the chest, will you?" Something was very wrong...
Khitti :: Before Pilar would have a chance to comply, if she even did so in the first place, Khitti puts out her hand, "No. Stay zhere." There was a twinge of pain in her voice as she spoke to the girl. First the mind flayer, her sister...and now this? The use of her full first name and the lack of any sort of emotion from him besides the amusement at her anger tears at her very core, her rage boiling in the back of her mind. "Vhat have you done, Daermon?...Vhat have you done to yourself? Zhis vasn't needed."
Pilar gripped the dagger tightly and trembled. Afraid of retaliation from the person in the room who had actually hurt her, she ignored the order from Khitti and stepped forward to do as she was told. She knelt by the chest and hesitated for just a moment before putting the dagger in. She had no reason to believe in his apology now, so she had no need to keep his gift.
Daermon finished adjusting the straps so that the long katana hilt was behind his left shoulder, the long hilt sticking above him as he watched Pilar with an amused look in his eye as she placed the dagger back in. He didn't really care just then. He was not himself. She didn't want a weapon to fight the mind flayer or the minions it would send? Fine. He mentally shrugged. He kicked his old sword, he precious sword to her. "Here this as well. It's not needed anymore." before he finally turned that mismatched gaze back to Khitti, so much colder than his icy stare had ever been. "I have done what is necessary. I swore to kill that mind flayer, and all it sends to harm my home. I shall burn him from every trace of this world. Why? Do you not like the new look?" he asked, twirling a circle, madness on the edge of his mind creeping in. "This is how I looked over 100 years ago, when I served as the harbinger to the dark god Coreliant. I served faithfully and was rewarded, I ruled the Xalious mountains from this very hall, on a throne of shadow and bone. A king, or a count." he said, striding towards the hearth. "I did it for a woman, as I have done everything in my long life. For the fairer sex, for those I love. I was gifted this coat and sword by the god himself." His gaze turns back, taking in both women. "This is the sword Noctra, the devils blade, wielded by the dark mage Verdelet and my former prison. His former prison I mean. This coat is sewn from his flesh, ripped from him by the dark god for his failure. Combined they give me the old mage's strength, much of it anyway."
Khitti only became more irritated as he went on. That ego of his, the one that had always been joked about, was in full force and it grated on her nerves. She puts a foot on the bow's string, in an attempt to keep Pilar from putting it away as she seems to not want to listen to reason. The girl was lost for now. No longer would a thought be spared on her at this point in time. The arrogance of the male was addressed finally, a hand raised in an attempt to slap him across the face, "I am not zhese other vomen. You're so full of yourself. Zhinking zhat you can take on zhe world."
Pilar shrank back from Khitti, and grabbed at the sword as it was kicked toward her. Clumsily, she missed. Shaking hands picked up the sword and, seeing that Khitti was about to do something incredibly stupid, Pilar got up and backed away.
Daermon caught Khitti's moving hand, his eyes moving to hers. "Do not. Ever." he warned before releasing her hand and stepping around her. "I may not have the power to take on the world, but I can crush my own fledgling if she strikes her master. I did this for you!" he says, eyes blazing with anger and power. "I laid these items away a century ago, and now, for the life of me, I can't remember why." His booted feet took him to Pilar, eyes down on the cowering female. "Do not be afraid fledgling. I mean you no harm." his eyes move back to Khitti. "You either, as long as you don't try to stop me. War has come ladies, and I know ever so much about war..." He gently, far more gently than one would think took his former sword from Pilar and threw it in the box. "The rest of this can be sealed back up for all I care."
Khitti growled softly at Daer as he steps around her, dark eyes watching angrily as he moves to Pilar, "Don't say zhings zhat you vill regret vhen you are finally yourself again, Daermon. You made zhe choice to do zhis. It may not have been necessary." Removing her foot from the bow, she leans over to pick it up. Before the lid can be closed on the chest, the steps needed to get to it are taken and Khitti retrieves the sword. Gripping the weapon tightly, she frowns at it, then looks to Pilar, crimson brows knitted together, "Please. For once just listen to me. Take zhe dagger and leave zhese zhings. I vill tend to zhem later." Regardless of what the girl does or Daermon for that matter, she turns away and begins the path out of the building. The vampiress was tired and needed to feed as she had yet to do so that day. She'd give no quarrel to either of them in her present state. She was neither physically or emotionally strong at that point.
Pilar looked fearfully from Khitti to Daermon, unsure. She continued placing Daermon's things back into the chest. She hesitated before closing it up, however. She gave Daermon one last look to see if he was watching, and assuming his eyes were on Khitti, she took the dagger back out and placed it in her bag before scurrying off to join Khitti. If it would be allowed, she would have put a hand on the other fledgling's arm, not to stop her, but just to let her know Pilar was there.
Daermon had stared into Khitti's eyes with her proclamation. "That's the thing love, I have never been as much myself as I am now." He watches her take the bow and his sword, uncaring about either. His eyes were indeed on her as she left, so he missed Pilar taking the dagger. The coat and the sword were the only dangerous things to a users mind, the rest just heavily enchanted and dangerous in the way any weapon is dangerous. "Not necessary..." he whispered, mind moving along the memories of the mind flayers, beings who had caused him so much psychological pain and torment. "Only time will tell." He shrugged then, the shark smile finding his face again. He closed the chest with a bang, flipping the latches. The women might look back then or might not, but the sight would shock any who did. He moved around the side of the large block, and as easily as he had kicked the frozen door free earlier, kicked the heavy stone back into place, it dropping with an earth shuddering crash atop the boulder. Turning away with a satisfied grin, he began to follow behind the women, singing words for the first time to a haunting tune that Khitti had heard him hum before. Wolves all asleep amidst the trees, Bats all a-swaying in the breeze, But one soul lies anxious, wide awake fearing all manner of ghouls, hags and wraiths. Birds all silent for the night, Cows tumbling as daylight dies, But one soul lies anxious, wide awake. The vampire dining on blood like wine, moonlight and shadows, will you be fine? He'll bow and seduce, capture your heart, and eat you up whole, eat you whole..."
Khitti didn't look back as he dropped the boulder, but she heard it clear as day and felt it in the ground. Pilar would feel her jump with uneasiness at the sound as she held the elder female's arm, the song sung by the vampire sending a chill down her spine. She tried so hard to mask the fear and anger and worry she felt as she continued on out of the mansion, her face void of emotion. Her eyes spoke differently though. The windows to her soul had a metaphorical crack in it and a dark, sinister breeze threatened to put out that spark deep inside that had burned so brightly only days ago. There was no hiding it now and she so desperately wished she had brought her hat so it could at least be a temporary fix from either of them seeing how she felt.
Pilar jumped and looked over her shoulder as the boulder was replaced, but quickly looked away when her eyes wandered to Daermon. She unconsciously gripped Khitti's arm tighter and started to shake with fear. This was wrong, so so wrong. Daermon had been her friend, so kind and reassuring, and now he had turned on her. He may have said he meant no harm, but the unspoken threat of retaliation should she somehow displease him hung over her head. Hell, he had outright threatened the woman he professed to love. Pilar was but an amusement to him, at best, and she knew that. Trying not to cry, she said nothing as they walked down the mountains, through Kelay and Sage, and ventured back into the Dark Forest. Despite her apprehension, Pilar hoped Larewen would be back at the house. Maybe she would know what to do.
Daermon followed along behind the women, mismatched eyes wandering here and there as they passed thru Kelay and headed towards the house. He could smell it on them, smell their fear and that was what took away that mad smile. He still felt himself, but only as one thread now in a larger tapestry. The sword, the coat, both corrupted the mind. The longer he held them, wore them, the worse he would become as the dark mage Verdelet slowly replaced him. The other couldn't know that of course. He already lacked the capacity to tell them. But he was still Daermon enough to not enjoy the smell of their fear. He loved one and cared as a friend for the other. Their fear...bothered him. As they entered the house, the large doors swinging wide to admit them, he paused at one of the mirrors just inside, stopping to look at himself.
Khitti :: There was no pause in the woman's walk as she set foot in the house after the long travel from Xalious. She dared not go upstairs though. That room...that bedroom...didn't feel right to go into right now. It was...had...been their space and the vampire was barely her Daer now. In time, she would come and go as needed to get her few things, but now was not the time. Instead, she moves into the sitting room, the weapons dropped onto the floor carelessly as she lays down on the couch. His words and actions cut at her heart. It felt like she was being experimented on again, her heart mutilated...stripped apart and laid bare for all to see. Not only had her past come back to haunt her, but she felt as if she were losing her future. No move is made to sleep. She couldn't do it even if she wanted to in this room that also held precious memories of her beloved vampire. With her head on the cushion, her small frame curled up and booted feet hanging off the side, she stares at the objects of the room that lie across from her. Nothing is focused on fully. Nothing mattered. Nothing existed except for that void that threatened to swallow her up again.
Pilar let Khitti's arm go free as the vampire sank into the couch. She glanced back at Daermon as he examined himself in the mirror, then looked back at Khitti. She hardly knew this woman, who had been so cold to her, and yet... Pilar couldn't bear to see someone to be so lost and alone. She approached the other fledgling and knelt on the floor, by her side. "Khitti...?" It had occurred to her that, as Daermon's love, they likely shared a room. Pilar wouldn't stand for that to continue, however, so long as Daermon was in this state. But what to do? There was only one thing to offer. "Would you like to sleep in my room? I... do not know if I will stay in this house, but... if I do, you are welcome."
Daermon seemed as oblivious to the women as they were to him just then. Shaking hands touched his face, the same, but so different with the one red eye, then his streaked hair. "What have I done..." he whispered, the first true sign of the man he had been breaking thru. What was necessary, whispered a quiet voice, oily against the surface of his mind, one that was not Barnabus, you have always been so eager to do what was necessary. His eyes turn to the sitting room, to the woman he loved, to the one he had betrayed. A single tear slipped down his cheek. He had fought Khitti when she had become something more sinister...and here he had done it willingly to himself. No one had known enough to stop him. He turned towards the doors and waited for them to part. The house was not safe from the flayer while it lived. They weren't safe from him.
Khitti stared at Pilar blankly as the girl spoke, then shook her head, "No..and please don't leave...we need you just as much as you do us. Please...", her tone pleading and apologetic. As she felt her beloved begin to leave the house, the woman turned on her back to observe the ceiling in her grief-stricken daze. Her words then were spoken aloud, though the link that her and Daermon shared was opened as well in the off chance that he couldn't hear her, her torrent of emotions seeping through, "If zhere is any...tiny bit left of my Daer in zhat body, you von't leave. You von't give up so easily. You von't just give in and go away." Just as he had told her when she was so intent on leaving, now too she did with him, "If you leave here, I vill never forgive you Daermon Nae'baer. I vill not stop loving you for as long as I'm allowed to valk zhese lands, but I vill never...ever...forgive you." She may not have the ability to command him to stay as he did with her, her being his fledgling and all, but she hoped it would be enough.
Pilar didn't think she could stay in that house with Daermon. She didn't want to abandon the closest thing to a family that she had, but what could she do? She couldn't fight any man-faced monsters, be they mind flayers or former friends. As Khitti begged Daermon not to leave, Pilar just held her hand.
Daermon stopped in his tracks, hesitating at the door way. Conflict warred inside the vampire. The one wanting to go, find the flayer, end this. Another wanting to go to Khitti to comfort her. Another side...a small side that waited and watched, wanted control and to do dark, horrible things to the two women. For now, this time, Daermon won. He stepped away from the doors, letting them close and took a seat on one of the couches in the entry area. He didn't know what to say. Didn't know what to do. Lost, shattered and half mad.
Khitti breathed a grateful sigh when he decided to not leave, still feeling his presence in the house. She knew it wasn't going to be so easy next time. It might not even be Daermon then. She felt Pilar's uneasiness and as the girl had voiced her want to flee, the vampiress looked to her again, frowning sadly, "Zhere is nothing out zhere for you but pain and lonliness, little one. I know it. He knows it.", indicating the vampire in the other room. She pauses, trying to word things correctly for the female as she remembers that her explaination of the mind flayer was much too out of her grasp, "Ve are in zhe middle of an awful, terrible thunderstorm. Zhe thunder...it is a horrid zhing to here and zhe lightning it burns all zhat it touches...but..if you stick together vith the ones you know can protect you...zhen ve can all make it zhrough zhe storm. Zhen brighter days vill come." She reaches over to put her hand on the girl's head, in an older sister sort of way, "It can't rain all zhe time, Pilar."
Pilar didn't pull away. She could at least understand metaphors, despite the language gap. But... the truth was that while she knew there were plenty of people in the house that had the power to protect her, she was no longer sure they could be trusted. She was as afraid as she had been when she first stumbled into Hollow. Tears came to her eyes and she wiped them away. She hated feeling so fragile, like she could break at any minute, but that's who she was. A fragile, vulnerable child who needed protecting, but had no protectors. She rested her head on the sofa and sighed softly.
Daermon sat in his chair, trying not to listen to the voice inside that said to hell with the woman. Khitti's words broke thru the chill barrier around him and he stumbled to his feet, weaving like a drunk as he made his way to the sitting room. He found himself in the doorway, staring in at the women, both arms braced against the frame, more to hold himself up than anything else. His face a mask, emotionless, those mismatched eyes staring at Khitti, seeking her.
Khitti lightly stroked Pilar's hair, trying to console her without words and hoping it was helping. As Daer stops in the doorway, she props herself up enough to stare back at him from her spot on the couch. There was enough of him left to keep him from leaving, but how much and could she even stop it? She was no better emotionally than she had been when they left the mansion, but she had to try to be strong for the two of them, even if she was running on fumes. Tears threatened her dark eyes as she studied her beloved, wondering what he might do or say and would it be something she'd want to hear? Even though he stood before her she missed him, that longing in her heart making things even worse for her.
Pilar turned her head to glance at Daermon as he started to enter. She squeezed Khitti's hand, more to anchor herself than anything else. She couldn't run away and leave Khitti to face this thing alone, no matter how much she wanted to. She tried to watch Daermon in case he should make a move, but her eyes kept wandering away, the sight of him paining her.
Daermon dropped to his knees in the doorway, exhausted, drained, ready to give up. His two toned hair fell around his bowed head, hiding his face. "Forgive me..." he whispered, the duster creaking as his shoulders shook, though with laughter or sobs one could not know without seeing his face. "I'm sorry. I...he's so strong...you have no idea how long I spent like this, under the influence of the mage's soul...in service to a dark god...I'm so, so sorry..." his voice was thick with emotion, though he could not bring his mismatched eyes to them, seemingly, himself for the moment.
Khitti was hesitant for a moment as she listened to him, but ultimately slid from the couch and stood. She squeezed Pilar's hand in return, whispering to her, "Stay here. It vill be alright." That was a lie of course. She didn't know that for sure. For all she knew, it could be a trap set by the dark mage. The vampiress really couldn't deal with his sadness though. It pained her to her core. This was never something she wanted. The woman's hand slides out of Pilar's as she moves away, over to the doorway. She kneels in front of Daer, lithe hands pressed to the sides of his face, attempting to get him to look at her, "And you must be stronger. We all must. You must zhink of zhe good times. I know you can. You and I must or ve'll lose each other forever." Regardless of whatever actions he might take, she takes the chance and presses a kiss to his forehead, "You must be so much stronger, Daer. I know that you are...and for zhe moments zhat you are not, I vill remind you. I von't let you forget who you are."
Pilar didn't want to let Khitti go. She didn't believe in Daermon's repentance for a second. But deep down, she wanted to, and that was why she released Khitti's hand as the woman moved away. Pilar stayed where she was, her hand dropping to her bag. She felt the dagger through the fabric and hoped to whatever gods might be listening that she was wrong about Daermon.
Daermon allows Khitti to lift his face to that mixed gaze now, tears had fallen from his eyes. He was fighting inside. But it was hard, so hard. "The madness pulls at me...the flayer brought back such a painful time, mad, delirious, only thought of survival...I can't go back to the pits of the underdark. I won't. I'll die first." he was rambling and incoherent, though he was still himself. He caught sight of Pilar past Khitti and cringed, dropping his eyes again. Even in his madness he knew what he had done to her had been so wrong. Words couldn't fix it. "I will try. But I cannot wear these for long." His gaze met hers, fierce and determined, no more tears. "Kill me if you have to. Do not let him take me." she wouldn't know if he meant the flayer or the mage. "The power is addictive..."
Khitti frowns deeply, pulling him into a warm hug (well as warm as it can be for a vampire anyways), trying to console him, "You know I vould never kill you. Never speak of zhat ever. You vill not be in zhis for long." She wasn't prepared for this mind flayer, not one bit. But, she decided right then and there that they couldn't wait for the mistress of the house. Larewen was still MIA and who knows if she was even capable of helping. "Tonight, Daer. Ve vill go tonight. You are not going to zhe Underdark. You're not going anywhere because you promised me you wouldn't. You've got far too many zhings in zhe future to do, remember? You said ve'd get our own house? Start a life together?" The vampiress pulls away from him, gazing into his mismatched eyes, wiping away any tears that might remain, "You're not going anywhere because you're ~mine~." Her tone is stern and possessive as she utters that last word. For only a few moments, she rises from her spot and moves to the kitchen quickly, returning with a few bottles of blood. One is gently tossed to the couch for Pilar should she want it, another set on the floor for herself for later as she kneels in front of him again, and the last uncorked for Daermon, offering it to him, "Here. Drink. Neither of us has slept or fed and you need your strength."
Pilar's nerves were shot. She couldn't bear the sight of blood, not now. Shaking, she got to her feet and walked over to a window and stared out into the woods. Her stomach was twisted into knots as she thought of this thing out there that had started all this, the thing that Khitti had now decided needed to be dealt with /now/. It made Pilar queasy and she wondered if a vampire could vomit. She couldn't do this, she just couldn't. A shadow moved and Pilar shrieked. Then she saw that it was just a giant spider. She put a hand over her mouth to stifle a sob. "Is nothing..." she muttered in response to the inevitable question.
Daermon listened to Khitti's words, a quiet nod is given as he composed himself. "Forgive me for anything I might say or do that is not...me. I will do what I can to fight, but we were together so many years...it is hard. I do not wish to be that man anymore. That man...I did such terrible things Khitti, such awful things. The sword and coat will not come easily, but I will help as much as I can." he gratefully took the blood, taking a few swallows before slowly pulling himself back together. Composure as he was stilled by her words. Poor Pilar, barely holding it together, and Daer knew most of that was his fault, if not all. "Pilar..." he whispers, eyes on her back.
Khitti jumps as Pilar shrieks, blinking a few times before focusing on Daermon again. She sighs, sensing his worry about the girl as he whispers her name, "Come here." She rises, offering him a hand to pull him up, thankful that the blood is helping. If he complies, she would help him to the couch before moving to Pilar. The more that Daermon pulled himself together, the stronger she felt. Without him, she was nothing. A hand is lightly placed on Pilar's shoulder, attempting to spin her around to look at her, "Pilar. I'm not going to let anything happen to you...and neither is Daer. I can help him fight zhis zhing and be done vith it. I'm not going to fail again..." While Pilar wouldn't understand what she meant by that, Daermon would. Lydia. "Zhe enchantments on zhis house is far too powerful for zhat zhing to get in. Margret and zhe others servants are quite capable of keeping you safe vhile ve are gone. Unless you vished to go vith us, but I am certainly not forcing you to do so.
Pilar allowed Khitti to turn her around, but couldn't meet her eyes. She placed a hand on Khitti's to show that she appreciated her words. She took a shaky breath. "No... You should not go. Not tonight. If we are safe here, then we should /stay/ here, and rest." She couldn't believe she was actually advocating staying in the same place as Daermon, but if it was a choice between him and the mind flayer... She suppressed a shudder when she thought of those terrible images. "One more night will not hurt. Go tomorrow, when it is light again."