06.12.3013: Little Drake
Summary: Devon and Nitrim meet for the first time. Unaware that she is a noble about to visit his house, Nitrim falls prey to intrigue.
Date: 08 June 2013
Related: Takes place twelve hours before Khournas Welcomes the Granthams
Devon Nitrim 

The Warehouse — Volkan, Imperius
The two and a half-story interior of this factory is open from slab floor to metal-sheathed roof cathedral ceiling. A stage stands opposite the entrance, ready to host either live music or a DJ, and the space between door and stage is empty of any impediment to creating a writhing sea of humanity from the stage to halfway down the length of the warehouse. At that point, chest-high tables with stools around them begin, gathered in little clusters. On busy nights, a knot of people collect in front of the bar along one side of the giant room.

The music is loud, aggressive, and distinctly Khourni, matching the aesthetic. Machinery has been mounted on the walls, some parts still working, pulsing to the beat of the music. Light flash and play across the machinery and ceiling, occasionally spotlighting or silhouetting the catwalks that still encircle the open area three meters off the ground. Those catwalks are reserved for people of importance or particularly comely men or women that the bouncers at the stairs believe might attract appropriate gazes with their dancing.

June 12, 3013

Nighttime has fallen and the lights and sounds of the warehouse have gone into full swing. A line stretched outside of the door into the rainy night, creating an exclusive atmosphere for those lucky(or rich) enough to make their way inside. The stage was filled with a large DJ booth framed by watery tanks of bioluminescent color that contained exotic dancers in skimpy swimwear that writhed to the pusling bass-beats of the music. The dancers were in ecstasy with breather masks over their painted faces and glowing tattoos that changed with their moods. The crowd below was jam-packed with Khourni in various states of dress, sweating through the Volkan heat like a sea of clenching bodies in the afterlife under the view of the Devil himself. It was…exactly what Nitrim needed.

With a light sheen of sweat, Nitrim had cast aside his shirt and reclined on some cushions laid down in an old-Earth middle eastern style. His jacket was still over his shoulders, and as he moved the hint of his tattoos that snaked over his shoulder and onto his breast could be seen. His seating area was on a slightly raised platform where he could overlook the dancers below. He'd been in the pit and for all view has taken his break to drink a glass of hard, brown liquor and enjoy the cooling of the overhead fans. With one knee propped and a cigarette dangling from his fingertips, he watched and everyone in the house knew that a Lord of Khournas was present, as witnessed by the extra attention and security that framed his favorite perch…

The Volkan heat is not all that different from that of Ignis. It wraps around, seeps into, and bubbles out of everything. There is no escaping it, and when there is no escape, all you can do is embrace it. Eventually, life is not life without the searing, terrible heat. While Volkan will never replace the Pit, it is a suitable replacement, and thus explains the entrance of one Lady Devon Grantham. Bypassing the line, the Ash-Witch steps through the enormous doors in that blackest black body sleeve and hardened bodice, her long vest long ago rolled from her shoulders and now laying gently folded over one arm. Her vibrant violet hair is drawn up into an intricate assembly of braids that keeps her angelic features unobscured, and they are almost luminous in the careful lighting. A fresh black cigarette is drawn to her lips, and she turns her head aside a bit just as all the color drains from her eyes and a simple snap of her fingers brings a raw flame to life. She ignites the cigarette, breathing heavily on the filter before she adjusts her strides toward the bar. The flame continues to dance in her palm for another heartbeat before she closes her fist, snuffing it out.

A small flurry of activity forms near the bar as a House Servant of Khournas wearing red and gold steps past Devon's view carrying a case of some kind. The mousey, almost backwater-looking female steps just into the right light to reveal the blue scales of a serpent within, coiled and resting in place. With a polite excuse me, she steps past Devon on her way over to Nitrim's sitting area, and delivers the case to rest by his side while his attention is flared over the crowd in the pit.

An opening at the bar between a long, black haired man in a sweaty white tank top and a blonde girl in a scandalously short mini-skirt and a cigarette reveals a bald-headed bartender. He looks up as Devon approaches, and his skull-tattoos that reach around from his brow to his cheeks flare the same color violet as her hair. Confident and businesslike, he nods his head upwards to her and leans in so that he can hear her. "What are you havin'?"

Glass-colored eyes slide over toward the blue serpent in passing, though her attention is drawn back toward the bar as she sends a scatter of ash over her shoulder with a flick of her fingertip. She admires the flare of violet that sparks color through the tattoos, and she takes another noxious drag from her cigarette before she casts him a smoky smile. "Ice wine," she replies simply. It is perhaps a bit of an unusual drink for the club atmosphere, but there is always a bottle of a Niveus finest tucked away.

The tender's fat fingertips slap the bar with a dull thud as she makes her order. It's an expensive item, but a sign that they do in fact have some on hand. With a careful glance over his shoulder to ensure one of the other bartenders isn't rushing by with a tray of drinks, he turns his back to her and crouches in front of a low-hanging freezer. He pulls out one of the bottles of Niveus and rises, pouring it into a long-necked wine glass. The body of the glass frosts over with the cool, almost ethereal drink, and he quickly puts the bottle back onto ice.

As he brings the glass of wine back around, one of the bartenders leans in to murmur something into his ear. He looks to the swanky female bartender in a crimson wrap-around top that bares her athletic shoulders, looks over to Nitrim's seating area, and his eyes focus in understanding. He slides the glass over to Devon, nodding in the direction of Lord Nitrim. "It's been paid for. Compliments of the attending nobility. Lucky you, right?"

Immaculate fingers slide around the crystalline glass, and for a moment, the chill is so blistering in comparison to the sweltering atmosphere. Devon lifts her gaze up at the bartender as he speaks, and a single narrow brow perks with interest. "Luck," she repeats with a simple salute of her glass to the bartender as she slips away from the clustered bar toward where the Khournas Lord lounges. She does not wait to be invited, casually tossing her long vest over the arrangement of cushions before she brings the wine to her lips. "My Lord," she says in a smooth voice that somehow carries despite the din. And she slips down into a seat.

Somewhere, somehow, Nitrim had noticed her while she was ordering her drink, and was perhaps a mere moments glance that directed him to call the bartenders with the earbud that he is pulling off of his ear. Nevertheless, his entourage appears to be ready for her presence, and doesn't make a single move to stop her from joining him. The "VIP" room experience is in full effect, and the younger Lord's rather practiced demeanor is a sign that this is his preferred nightclub. He's extended his hand, allowing her into his lair.

He turns at the waist to face her, bracing his elbow over the back of his cushion to watch her lower herself down near him. His eyes tilt to her glass, then to her hair, and his lips part in a quiet smile. The snake in the case beside him lifts its head to watch her as well, the two moving in a strange sort of unison.

"Niveus. Expensive taste." He replies, lowering his head in a scant nod to receive her etiquette. "Please, make yourself comfortable, the view's rather amazing from up here, which is what made it easy for me to spot your little trick." As if on queue, his eyes wash over in white and his fingertips produce a flame, which he touches to the end of a cigarette. His eyes return to normal as the flame extinguishes and he takes the first drag. The smoke is exhaled away from her face. "So why this place tonight?"

"Khournas. Expensive pocketbook," Devon chimes back once she is comfortable. She casts him her profile as she takes another swallow of the icy wine; the liquid is so chilled that her breath vapors within the narrow glass, but easily dissipates in the heat of the Warehouse. She does smile a bit around the crystal edge of the glass at the sight of the flame at his fingertips. She quirks both her brows in silent appreciation before she turns her gaze once more back at the writhing wonders. "Because the Gods told me that if I came here at this very hour, I would be given a marvelous gift." And she raises her wine glass to him with a wry smile before she takes another drink.

It's never been much of a secret that the Khourni are not, as a whole, deeply devout worshippers of the gods, which makes the almost amused look in Nitrim's eyes an unsurprising gesture. Still, he's careful to keep the look on his face within the realm of curiosity, rather than a look of disapproval. The many rings, some of them clawed gauntlets over his fingertips, slide of the front of his neck to rub over his chin, and his muscular abdomen revealed by his open coat rises and falls in one quick gesture to match the one-shot chuckle from within.

"Well, then the Gods haven't done you wrong, have they?" His smile is dark and feral, matching the seedy undertones that match the chest-rumbling bass tones that echo in physical force from the walls around them. He matches her toast, and then brings his glass to his lips, eyes dipping over her form from above the rim as he drinks. "But do you really think the Gods consider Niveus a gift? You were coming in to order in anyway, which means the Gods still have plans for you tonight, don't they?"

Another noxious exhale sends spirals of lacy white smoke about her pale features, casting cool shadow against her glass-colored eyes. Devon offers him a slow growing smile that is calm, almost serene. With another sip of her wine, she relaxes back a bit in the mass of cushions that surround his little dias above the writhing madness of the club. "The Gods have ever done me wrong, my Lord… they have always guided my path, even if it is through the thorns." Her chin lifts, and her smile remains soft and curved. "And does my Lord believe he may play a part in those divine plans?"

Nitrim fixes a heavy eye on the girl before him, head tilting to the side just enough so that he can scratch the side of his neck in two long, grating scrapes of his claw-like pinky ring. "I'd be a fool to be so arrogant as to think that the Gods had any interest in me aside from fueling me and setting me loose on an unsuspecting Haven. No…" He shakes his head bitterly, sliding his cigarette back between his lips. After a short drag, his eyes curl back to hers and he lifts his scruff-laden chin to her. "…I'm just another creature in the zoo."

Devon laughs. It has a rare warmth to it, stoked like a fire. She sips her wine once more as she gracefully murders her cigarette butt in the appropriate dish. That last sweet-fragranced breath it sent into the rafters of the tall warehouse where it dissipates quickly into the shadows. The dancing bodies below become merely backdrop to her based on how intense that clear gaze remains locked on him. She sees him, there is no doubt. "Yes, but you are a golden drake… a magnificent creature compared to the rest of us, us who are merely sad and pitiful sops."

Ah. That. The matter-of-factly crook of his brow he casts towards her is matched by a playful twist of his head as he reaches out to the dish. Right next to her cigarette, he extinguishes his own, leaving the two of them dead and lying in the ceramic open grave. He turns back to her, resting an elbow on his knee so that he can face her better. The golden-drake pendant of his house sways from around his neck as he slowly parts his lips. "Am I now?" He challenges, baring his teeth to her. His ego isn't stoked. Something raw lies beneath. "Do you get the dreams? The killing of men from your hard-to-fathom cybernetic hand? The songs? If those are the Gods, then even a magnificent drake dreams the same dreams as the sad and pitiful."

"We cannot deny who we are, my Lord," Devon murmurs against the rim of her wine glass before she finishes off the sweet, crystalline liquid. She sets the glass down between them, and it is only then that, that terribly soul-piercing gaze averts just a moment. Her fingertip slowly circles the edge of the glass, though it is not crystal, and thus does not make a soft hum. "I have seen them, I have felt them…" She lifts her gaze to his once more, those windows reflecting calm skies that just hint with storms in the far horizon of her eyes. "But… I did not find the hand all that hard-to-fathom."

"Neither did I." His eyes sharpen, lids parting just a little more to take in more of what he's seeing before him. His attention and interest drawn in, he inches a little closer to her so that he doesn't have to speak so loudly. The serpent at his side flecks its tongue out as he moves, turning its head to watch them on the cushions. "I haven't felt them since that night at the Feast at Landing, everything was much clearer then. I've been trying to find a link, something to reach and feel more of what's coming. They're not…" He bares his teeth again, almost growling his words. "…too alien to me. Ever since this has drawn closer there's something turning inside of me I can't look away from, and the more I look to it the more it hides from me. Nomatter how I deep I go…it eludes."

Unfaltering is her gaze as he draws closer to her, though there is the faintest hint of a predatory smile on her lips before it softens into something more serene. "My Lord… do some of the stories not suggest that they Hostiles were once human? That their physology is not that much different from our own? Do we not replace our own limbs with cybernetics when they fail us? I hear their blood is as red as ours." She draws her hand up to brace her chin, fingertips resting on the fullness of her lower lip. "Have you ever noticed that you cannot see your own reflection in a window? You can see the lights, you can see the color of your clothes, the shape of your body, but your face is a dark, terrible abyss… you are looking for your own reflection, when you should be looking at what is beyond the glass."

Whatever is predatory on Nitrim's own face is slowed down by her words. He tilts his ear towards her, pausing to listen while his eyes trace the painted fingertip she presses to her lips. As he straightens, the opening in his coat pulls to reveal the serpent tattoo on his chest. "I've noticed." He replies, his knee resting softly against hers as he finds her eyes once again. "I won't fear to admit that I ask more questions. I get distracted. Though…there's a view from my balcony at the Blackspyre. I spend hours a day sitting atop it, staring out over Obsidia. All of these good souls below," His hand motions to the crowd. "…and something told me tonight that I needed to be down here."

His eyes narrow, too often on the defensive. He challenges her in return. "What about you? Have you ever gone so deep within yourself that you nearly lost the will to breathe? It's like scraping a layer off of your soul."

The Ash-Witch taps a fingertip against her lip — a thoughtful gesture. The pressure of his knee to hers is equalized, pushing back against him easily enough. "You needed to look beyond the glass, my Lord… to see why you dream what you do. To see why the warnings are given… be them by Gods or the sheer energy of the galaxy itself… we do not see through the Hostile's gaze because it suits them. It suits us." Though his question does draw her into silence for a moment, and she looks out across the glory of the dancing bodies below. "No," she replies, quite simply at first. "But I have gone so deep as to find it, instead of lost it."

"My brother is concerned that they may be using us as unwitting spies. I know enough to know that this isn't true, though I don't know how." Nitrim's voice trails off, following her eyes to the crowd. The bass beat comes back into the forefront as skin and sweat mix on the dancefloor, they are his people, even if he is not the first to lead them. For the briefest of moments, something of sadness translates through his eyes before he washes it over with his grim resolve. His brows lower and he looks back to her, eyes as serious as the tone of his voice. "You're right. There's another angle of this I haven't allowed myself to see yet." His hand comes to a stop on her knee, squeezing softly. "What do the Gods show you now?"

"Not even an Awakened can look into the dreams of another," Devon says dismissively to the suggestion that those such as herself and Nitrim are being used as spies. "The Hostiles perhaps have no idea we have seen through their eyes. After all, has anything they shown us not come to pass?" There is a moment of silence from the Ash-Witch as she watches the writhing bodies for another heartbeat, and only then alighting her gaze on his once more. It breaks from his eyes only once, and that is to look down at the hand that touches her silken-covered knee. "They show me a lost man… looking, searching for something, but not even he knows what he seeks." She lowers her hand to his, brushing her fingertips across the back of his hand. She leans in close, bare pink lips just gently touching the apple of his cheek as she whispers. "You could see what I see, little drake…"

A series of images memories drift through Nitrim's mind as his eyes unfocus on the empty cushion over Devon's shoulder. Dreams he's sworn to never remember, the images of his hand thrusting a spear through a human during the first Hostile attack, and the cold halls and relationship with his parents. They don't understand him. They never will. Her words are a drop of Red Eye, directly down his throat and into his subconscious, and somewhere deep within the drake stirs. His head turns, but just a little to feel her skin against his cheek as his fingertips tighten over her knee. "Show me."

It is hard not to allow that smile to curve her pale lips, sending her brows slightly arched. She turns her lips into his cheek a bit, almost pursing them against his skin. There is a soft pressure as her mind connects with his. Her eyes have paled to almost white oculars, and a soft fiery glow seems to illuminate her skin. Through the unobstructed mental connection, she sends him a wave of warmth that is accompanied by a brilliant, blinding light. There is a dreamlike vision that is shared with that telepathic link.

A Priest wrapped in white robes standing over the black-dressed body of Devon's corpse, murmuring the funereal prayer.

Mourners crowded around her. The Priest anoints her brow with the mark of the Crone, finalizing the death rite.

And then her eyes flutter open, and she takes her first breath.

Devon leans back from him now, silencing the connection as easily as it was established.

Like a power cord being disconnected from a wall socket, a visible flutter of Nitrim's eyelids racks over his features as the connection is severed. His eyes blink, hard, and he turns to look to Devon once more. Hard questions mark his features. Has she died?, What was that? The vision still rather vivid in his memory, he reaches out to her face now. His palm brushes across her cheek and his rings graze her earlobe as he reaches for the back of her neck. With a twitch of his eyebrow, the greens of his eyes cloud over into white…

It is a dream

He stands alone, bare chested and ragged before a sea of shadowy figures with multicolored eyes. Rain falls from above and his body is laced in a thousand cuts that drain into the mud at his feet.

They rush in. A wall of mud and splintering rock rushes into them, sending numbers of them crushing back into the wave, their bodies broken. They raise their spears. He gnashes his teeth, unable to stop them. The feel of a dozen spears impaling his body, for the slightest of moments, is made tangible…

With a gasp, the vision disconnects and his fingertips tangle in the hair at the back of her neck, muscles twitching with the shared vision that comes from somewhere deep and forgotten. His eyes wash over to green again, glossed over with the bourbon that's on his breath, face close to hers.

"I'm not afraid to die." He admits, brows lowered in a way that only the angry wear them, though he's far from truly angry. He's a drake. He's in his core element.

In his own dream, Devon does not exist outside him, but intermingled with him. Each spear is felt, slicing through their skin and muscle, and she can feel the warmth of their blood. She is breathing raggedly once the connection is made, her forehead resting against his as she reconciles her own body, her own skin, her own blood. She lifts her gaze to his and immediately closes the gap. Her lips brush across his, and there is a threat of fire behind that soft exchange — a fire that, if he isn't careful, could blacken his lips. She curls her fingernails into his shoulder briefly before she releases him. The Ash-Witch speaks directly into his mind: But are you afraid to live?

Wrapping an arm around her slender hips, Nitrim leans into the kiss, pressing lips back to hers with a sudden, survivor's hunger that hurts just a little bit as she pulls away. He lets her retreat, but his fingers remain at the back of her neck. One copper-jacketed claw-ring presses against the side of her throat, scraping against her jugular. His lips part, upper lip baring his teeth, as he nearly speaks aloud. Instead, he responds the Awakened way: I'm afraid to have never lived at all. He admits darkly, releasing her neck. His hand trails down her arm until his fingers close around her wrist like a dragon's claw around a fallen tree. Stay with me tonight…at the Blackspyre.

He is afforded — if not perhaps rewarded — a gasp that curves her lips into a wide smile. Her throat turns away from the claw, but it only stretches her jugular wide to his ring. Then she turns her gaze back toward his, and the windows to her eyes churn with a hurricane. "My Lord," Devon murmurs as she reaches to gently touch his cheek with the back of her knuckles. "Tonight, I must refrain from such an invitation… but, ask me again tomorrow, and perhaps you will find I am more than eager to stay under your care at the Blackspyre." She brushes her lips against his nose before she gently starts to stand.

The mainline Lord of Khournas watches as she rises, tilting his chin towards her to follow her with his eyes. His eyes are far more alive than they were at their first meeting, and no longer dissatisfied with his own company so much. Moved by the experience, he gazes at her with an intensity that he normally hides from the others, daring them to always underestimate him. He nods his head to her and leans back against his cushions to watch her prepare her leave. "If the Gods will it, you'll find me." His tongue presses against his lip, tasting the memory of her presence.

The violet-haired woman inclines her head in graceful politeness to the Lord before she starts to step away. She gently gathers up her vest as she does, hooking it over her shoulder with her pointer and middle finger. She doesn't even look back at him as she departs, ghosting into the crowds and disappearing as if she had never been.

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