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Guts. // Royal Blood Read 3138 times

VenomousEve

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Guts. // Royal Blood
« on: February 06, 2017, 03:57:46 am »
“Ivena?” the voice was thin down the hall. Azmila touched her arm lightly; don’t look back. She hesitated at the doors. An elderly gentleman and his wife stepped gingerly around them, a gust of air curling at the couple’s backs and setting her pale strands blustering. She almost turned. Soft breath. Az was eager to go.

“The car is waiting.” She said. Ivena set her jaw. “Let’s go, Ivka.” Az persisted, a little impatient. It was better not to upset her. Rather, it wasn’t worth upsetting her here. Ivena nodded and followed her out into the late afternoon. It was balmy and bright. The days were getting longer. Az was leisurely for her insistence, shuffling off toward a large black SUV. It wasn’t unlike the vehicles Ilya preferred for work and Ivena reached the car first. A man inside reached across to open the passenger door for her and she was quick to get inside. It was Az who stopped to look behind before climbing into the back. A girl at the hospital doors, long dark hair and a serious expression, stared after them. Azmila buckled herself in. “Hurry up, get moving.” She said. The car pulled away.

-

Mei stood outside the doors long after the car left. She’d cut her hair, but it had certainly been Ivena. She recognized the other girl too; a Demon that had appeared before their last semester. Mei hadn’t seen much of her; she’d skipped a lot of school toward the end. She sighed and tucked her hair behind her ear, stepping back inside. She took out her phone and pulled up Aitawa’s number. He was probably still upstairs. It rang twice. “Is he up?” she asked. He must have been, because she took a seat in the atrium when she ended the call. He was doing better every time she saw him, which was less now that he was awake most of the day and moving around. They’d probably release him by the end of the week by the sound of it. That was good. It had been a long six months.

She leaned back against the wall, hands shoved into the pockets of her coat, and closed her eyes. Teddy kept saying she should talk to him; that she was being ridiculous for dodging around like this. And if Teddy was saying it, repeatedly too, it was probably true. Still, she couldn’t stand the thought of facing him. She was angry with him and disgusted with herself and miserably guilty all at once. She had dreamt of Ouran’s phone call nightly. Woke with panicked sobs. Called Belou to drown herself in more guilt. It was nonsensical, really, to feel responsible. As if hating him then had any bearing on what had happened. But Mei had never denied her self-centeredness, for better or worse.

Mei sat forward and pressed her palms against her eyelids. “So tired…” she breathed softly. It was time to go anyway. Daddy had left Trace an address. She stood, stretching, and headed for the door. She should get in touch with Ilya later. He’d not been in the best mood since Ivena moved out. The girl had all but disappeared after graduation. Mei hadn’t spoken to her at all, though Ilya said she still came home for dinner most nights. Ivena hadn’t been particularly revealing with her plans from what he’d told her, though he did mention she had enrolled in the dance program at the local university. Mei hadn’t asked him whether Ivena had told him that much on her own or he’d gone to find out himself.

Really, she didn’t have any room to question Ilya’s behavior anyway. He’d at least spoken to her brother since the attack. Mei had been stubborn on that front, despite spending most nights by Kou’s hospital bed. She’d been there nearly full time while he’d been unconscious, waking from intermittent sleep to clutch urgently at his hand. Like he might disappear. It had been over a month since he woke up though, and she’d all but disappeared from his room. She gave a different reason for avoiding him every time someone asked. Today, it was because she didn’t want to tell him about work. Yesterday it had been something similar. Mei answered that way because she didn’t know how to explain her own shame to herself. She stood and went back out into the spring afternoon. The sky was turning red.

Mei was slow going to her bike, a clone of Trace’s preferred transport, and tugged a half-crushed pack of cigarettes from her back pocket as she went. Kou’s brand; it was the pack he’d opened up at her apartment when he’d first come to visit. That day seemed like distant history now. Her lighter sparked. Kou would be annoyed if he saw, but she hadn’t really made it a habit. His smell was comforting and, in truth, that had always been an addiction. She preferred to think of happier times alongside her brother, wrapped in his thin haze, a nostalgic phantom. Mei leaned against her bike to enjoy her smoke before leaving. She wondered if he’d asked for her at all, and what Teddy and Ouran had told him. She’d been clear they were not to inform him of her new role in the syndicate. Daddy had won the fight while Kou hadn’t been there to argue. Not that Kou would have changed her decision in the end, anyway.

Mei’s hair whipped behind her, spilling like a dark cape from beneath her helmet, as she pulled out onto the street and raced off toward the meeting spot.

-

Az was lounging on the couch, watching Ivena pace between the kitchen and her room. “You’re still upset. You get upset every time we go, so why do you insist—“ she trailed off, silenced by Ivena’s sharp stare. Azmila shrugged and settled deeper into the pillows. She didn’t mind the way Ivka’s temper simmered. It had a nice ambiance the Demon could appreciate. Still, it was some curious irony that Az was the tranquil one in the apartment. “I wonder if you’re not cut out for this work.” Az said finally.

Ivena stopped her pacing. “Watch your mouth, Demon. I have stood with you all this far, despite the blatant breach of our initial agreements.” She snapped. Azmila rolled her eyes and hung her head over the arm of the couch to stare up at Ivena upside down.

“Initial agreements. Honestly, it was naïve, wasn’t it? The game is bigger than all of that. You want your brother to come out on top when the war comes, right? The other sacrifices should be fine.” She said, waving her hand in nebulous gestures. As if Kou and Mei were abstractions. Barriers without consequence. “Tzeng needs to be uprooted. They hold the Organ trade too tightly and Wei is complacent these days.” Azmila yawned and sat upright. “A few years ago they might have been worth allying with under Strada. Now it’d just be best for the kingdom to topple.” Ivena didn’t need the lecture.

“You’re underestimating Kou, for one, and the rest of the syndicate for another. Strada is being complacent if we think the only way, or the best way, is to kill the heir.” Ivena muttered. “Tzeng’s group must fall, but not this way. When Suri—“ Azmila was on her feet at the name and her shadow grew long on the floor. A flicker of violence in the blue eyes.

“Snakes are unreliable weapons, Ivka. Do not undermine your own credibility here. Suri might have a past marked with Strada but she took the Tzeng name. We haven’t the slightest clue where her loyalties lie.” She said, a curl of smoke from the corner of her lips ghosted along her round cheeks. “You are, yourself, only tediously an ally of Strada. Don’t forget that. I’m not here to be your friend.” The Demon stalked off toward her room. “Kou does not have to die. We would not have agreed to your terms if they were impossible to keep. However, if Kou were to die it would be convenient. That is all. Strada has many arms. You made your deals with the head, not the hand.” Az glanced back at Ivena from the doorway. “In the end that was just a formality for your conscience, right? You would have come to us anyway.” Ivena looked away. She wanted to disagree, but the festering guilt that had taken her to the hospital so many times whispered otherwise.

When she was left alone by the couch, Ivena dialed her brother. She asked him what time he was planning to have supper and if she ought to bring anything. Soft expression with tired eyes. She felt badly about this too. Her reasons for leaving home had been false and hurtful. She needed space. She needed privacy. Ilya was busy anyway. He was still happy when she came to see him though. Ivena would have preferred a little more bitter from the brother that adored her. It would have, at least, satisfied the pouting character she’d grown up with. The way he was now felt like he was trying too hard to convince her back home. It made her heart ache.



-

Syren dusted a film of white powder from the smooth span of her stomach, a meticulous gesture in the orchestrated mess of the room. Shattered bottles here and there, glasses tipped empty on their sides, a slumbering tangle of customers and their evening escorts splayed across the large pillow-laden bed. She yawned and smiled. They’d had a nice evening, this lot. The Succubus slipped into a silk robe and out of the room, padding down the plush hall carpet toward the back maze that was Belou’s collection of pleasure suites.

She found him without too much trouble and he was alone, fortunately. “It’s about that time of year to be settling our accounts with our patrons. There are a few unpaid bills. Sad little ducks.” She said as she sidled up to him, arms around his waist and her chin perched on his shoulder. Syren’s breath was hot on his earlobe. “I think most of them will pay up if we ask nicely, but there are one or two that will need more convincing. You know, the usual.” She pressed her lips against the soft skin of his neck. “Anyone in mind to send out for the dirty work?” she asked. Syren slid her palms up to rake her fingernails lightly against his chest, sighing pleasantly. She would have happily spent the rest of the day in his care if he would allow it. But there was, in fact, real business to attend to. 

Syren removed herself from him. “I was thinking we ought to ask for someone who could do a little extra this year. There’s a new delight being peddled about and it’s the sort of thing our regulars might be into.” She inclined her head. “A little information gathering while we settle the books would sweeten things.” It was a significant understatement. They’d had to remove two customers in the last four months for violent, psychotic episodes. The men had been raving about devils, trembling, and one had tried scratching open Syren’s forehead where her third eye was sealed shut. Most humans couldn’t see that closed lid. “I hear some people call it Vision,” Syren said. Her tone had turned a bit less languid despite her lounging; she’d gone to lay herself on an impossible looking piece of furniture to watch Belou while she spoke.

“The implication isn’t exactly friendly. This business won’t have the same appeal if the illusion is broken.” Syren murmured. “We’d have to resort to keeping each other warm at night, Belou. Wouldn’t that be a shame?” she laughed then. It was difficult to be all too worried in the end, but so it went with beings committed to eternities of pleasure. The Demons lived so many lives, by measure of the human world. This inconvenience, if it were true, would still pass. Syren was fond of the Tzeng group, but they were not her forever.

-

Mei was ducked low on the rooftop assembling her rifle with practiced efficiency. It was a little foreign still, watching her own hands move effortlessly through these motions. Daddy had been hesitant in turning the entirety of her training over to Trace, but she’d made good progress to that point and it had been difficult to turn her down. Besides, Trace had looked ready to spill blood when another mentor was suggested. The Demon was meticulous and Mei was its newest work of art. Or something like that. Mei had learned a lot since she’d been working with their resident reaper fulltime. Would Kou be proud or angry? Mei pushed the thought quickly from her mind. That brother of hers was a plague on her thoughts even when he was confined in a hospital bed. How ridiculous.

She didn’t hear Trace approach until it would have been too late, if the wraith’s intentions had been unsavory. The expression on Trace’s face said it was disappointing, but expected. “You’re not going in there without a gun, are you?” Mei asked, glancing over Trace’s slim fitting ensemble. There wasn’t anywhere she could have hidden away a firearm in that getup. Trace scoffed.

“Why would I need a gun?” she asked. Mei sighed and slotted the last piece of her weapon with a definitive snap.

“If I make a mistake, or if there are more people inside than you’re expecting, or—“ Mei stopped and scowled when Trace sighed loudly.

“I’ve trained you well, so you won’t make a mistake.” Trace said. She did not bother addressing the rest, because it was an absurd concern. She pushed a fall of milky white strands from her face. Mei shook her head but said no more. It wasn’t a worthwhile argument to have. Trace did not believe in over preparation. Trace was always exactly prepared. Nothing would go wrong, because Trace wouldn’t let it. The only thing that ever happened was that Trace occasionally changed her current plans to better plans. Mei would never have forgiven Kou for a similar level of cockiness, but Trace had yet to be wrong and wouldn’t have listened to her anyway. So went Pride.

Mei set up at the edge of the rooftop, scanning through her sight. “Well, whatever. Go do your thing. I’m ready.” She said. Trace was already on her way. Mei cursed softly. She could appreciate the vote of confidence but it was still aggravating. Mei lined up her first shot, exhaled slowly, and pulled the trigger.     




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Re: Guts. // Royal Blood
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2017, 07:53:06 pm »
Dreaming had been complicated.



Waking up had been rude, as the saying went. In the way that it was sudden, because it was, quite so, but in a familiar, almost pleasant way, not just all the aches breaking him out of slumber. In the way that it would have hurt his sensibilities too, if he had any. Her name was Yuri, nurse, and she was something else despite her mousy smile and downcast eyes. She’d worn neither for him when she was there, in his lap, playing up and down. She’d found pockets for her newest private hobby, her newest favorite unmoving patient, in the schedule of guards and friends and family, where she could molest at first, and then later, well, molest more, the way a mother molests a father.

Her expression, that desperate, hungry abandon in the tosses of her black hair and the rumple of her scrubs, had been painfully stark and then confusing. Where did her pleasure come from, and why did she practice it so close to him? She yelped when she discovered her prop had become her audience, and it was muffled in the thumb she was already biting for secrecy of her own noises. Despite the congregation of their eyes, she went on her limping way toward her goal, neverminding him as she had for months. It was frustrating to see her quiver, a humming pain rising when she lifted herself off him. No finale for him. At least she’d given him his own cigarette, from one of many packages left at the table beside the bed. Really it was more of an altar, with all kinds of vices. The man he was.

Kou was stuck with Yuri for the courting of his old strength. She was sufficient in that, at least. So good he endured her whispers of rewards when he was well enough to take them himself. He would not be choosing Yuri when that kind of thing became acute. Today he shoved her away upon her teasing, and he was happy to see her stumble and vault to the floor when her shoe caught on the mat of the exercise room. She pouted with tears in her eyes, sitting up and the liquid blazed in the fading winter, birthing spring, that came in generously through the glass wall overlooking the courtyard on the patio outside. No expense spared for the Tzeng son, when Tzeng donated so much.

“That was kind of rude, Kou.” Ouran said and helped her up. He’d come rushing in, of course. Kou squeezed his own wrist and tested his arm by rolling his shoulder. He felt formidable again.

“She’s kind of rude, too, Aitawa.” The prince replied. Ouran came to hug his friend and the friend hugged him back. A lot of this, lately, but Kou wasn’t afraid of this kind of contact. Not with Ouran, because it was pure. No pity.

“I guess it’s good you got your strength back.”

“Yah.” It was good. “You’re not looking bad yourself.” If he’d seen Ouran in Limbo he couldn’t remember. “Mei?” Always that question. Ouran shrugged. “Bratty girl.” Kou added with a huff. She had her own thing now but it was no excuse to ignore her brother. Being self-centered ran in the family. “Think it’s time I made it back into the world. Fuck up some people, have some fun.” His wrist felt naked without the cuff of his shirts.

“You’re not well enough yet!” Yuri, an octave higher than she should afford any patient. Ouran turned around to look at her, surprised at the feeling sung. Finally the little restaurateur was catching on. He turned back to Kou to confirm but Kou wouldn’t.

“Well enough to send you across the room, nursie.” He reminded and reached into Aitawa’s jacket. There was smoke in the room soon, when Kou left. Teddy who waited outside followed without a word. “Got my suit?” he asked. There was always a lush palette of choices in his room, neither friend thought they had to answer. He started tying back his hair while inhaling the flavor. Some strands were left over his eyes and his cheekbones, and some licked at the back of his neck. A prince reborn.

-

Bel had even more of his hair in his eyes, shirtless but legs in a pair of slacks, at least. He was a demon of moods, and was expected to slip into the next one well. He’d not say it was an ability he’d lost, but somber was a suit that stayed longer every time he wore it these days, with his patron heart so weighted. He smiled at his Syren and sighed pleasantly at her breath he could hear. Mei’s mark glowered when she ran her fingers over its details. They were both here for other things than money, but they would not be able to practice their sin very well if they did not enforce what Tzeng said they ought. So she was right. “Dreadful time, really.” He replied with a smile. Very few things were dreadful to Bel, but what kind of conversation would this be if he did not engage so he could have the pleasure of her words? They were both of similar sentiments.

He did have someone in mind. When he did not have his own thoughts, and the other ones were not of a brother and the guilt he felt over indulging when the brother was tumbling in a car and then barreling onto a metal stake, he thought of a jackal. “I’ll put someone on this. Reliable fellow.” He said and drew two fingers along his throat. They knew Libertine well. He was always welcome on merit of having retrieved the daughter of this syndicate, and now being her foremost lover. It helped that he behaved well and would pay sooner rather than later. He was as close to a fallen angel of lust as any man could be. Perhaps more on gluttony’s side in a deeper examination. Still of good, painted material.

“Perhaps he could look at Vision too, if he isn’t an expert already.” Bel added as he watched her dress her body onto something that was both a couch and a table. Skillful demon, Syren. He was suddenly deeply in love with her, and crawled over to her on his hands and knees, scaling onto the surface she laid with charming effort. He nuzzled her stomach and to his delight he found some residue there. Not his favorite, but he liked the pretend jealousy that flared out of practice. He started licking her clean casually.

“We could be plenty warm together.” And it was not unheard of, two like them. Could be a forever machine, a pair of reciprocating succubae. But they loved their humans too much. He bit the edge of her navel. He was being a cat after all. As though they had all time, he reached for the sipper of his pants. “But drugs need to be known, as you say.” The slacks flitted off. “You’re such a good worker, Syren. I think it is time we negotiate a new salary for you.” He forehead nudged her further off the surface. Cat. He wanted to tip her over so he could follow. Or perhaps her legs could still be up here. That’d be a good position.

“Make her face.” He asked. “And smile and laugh like she used to.” He missed his patron heart so.

-

Lib was not as active as he used to be in his field of work. The life style he wanted was well supported by the syndicate, now. He guessed his proficiency in kidnapping their princess had something to do with their continued reliance on him, but more than that he assumed they overpayed for his favors because of his new connection to her. He didn’t protest, especially not with the pleasure houses being owned by Tzeng, too. Gift horse, all that. And yet, he did enough to keep his skills sharp. Tzeng had plenty of work to throw at him to make it look like he was loyal to them. Today was for leisure, though.

She had a good rifle, from what he could see from his own vantage point. Garbage view of the targets she was trained on, and no real tactical value at this height, since there was no advisable escape route, but damn it if he wouldn’t be able to look down her blouse or get a long peer at her behind from above, depending on what position she chose. His own rifle was a little gaudy, compared. He liked all the trimmings on his recreational weapons. The scope was powerful, but it was the pointer that he liked the most in his equipment today.

Following her was easy. He knew how she liked to approach things, and really, the importance of a shooter like this was that you could prep and minimize reprisals through that. Snipers too often believed they were the biggest bird of prey, so the never looked up. In all fairness, he wasn’t a danger, even if he had the choice of exploding her pretty little skull. At first he planted the laser heart on her scalp, just after her first shot. Her body jerked beautifully with the kick-back. Then he caressed her black flow until the red heart pointed out her shoulder and then her arm. He’d run it all over her rifle and scope and trigger-hand to get her attention, if needed. From what he’d learned of their pillow talk, and there was a lot of it, Trace was good enough that she didn’t need all of Mei’s attention.

He called her as he still had her in his cross. “Yo. How come you never work topless, babe?” he asked, and she knew he’d have half a toothy grin. He always tried to cheer her up, these days. “Lay on your back, take a load off. Get some sun.” Didn’t really matter if she sent him straight to voice. The painted Jackal reached inside the backpack at his side, and pulled out a black can with yellow pills. He popped the attached lid and plucked one of the little sunflower bright lovers. Vision. Gorgeous, really. “Kck’krm!” he said to himself, lightly tapping the trigger while the safety was on. She really would make the prettiest puddle of brains.

A text prevented him from eating his illusionary breakfast, and he put the pill behind his ear, where his hair was shaved. Bel needed something. Hah. That meant in-house credit. Yes and yes, sir. Lib typed back quickly before returning his eye to Mei in the scope.


-


Ilya sat outside. The bistro he’d visited with Ivena the day Kou danced with her. It was their last meal outside the doors of their home to this day. His home. He was sentimental, but not now. Suit and silver tie because Kou had said to meet him. Stupid Wing. Like the head of the Vladenko family could just up and leave his duties because the infant Wing needed to learn how to walk again. He’d visited Kou often, and placed many bottles at his table. It had been a nasty accident. Ramming the car had worked out better than Strada could have hoped. Ilya had been ordered to stand down by Wei himself when he wanted to burn the other crime complex. Ivena had been strangely quiet on the matter. He’d been too sympathetic to be jealous then, but now, as some kind of extension, she was distant. It hurt him more than a career of violence, but he tried not to let it show, and kept from falling into despair by the time she did afford him at the dinner table. If Ilya was something, he was a family man.

He took some white wine as he waited, rolling the stem and playing with prisms the sun drew on his sleeve through the glass. Perhaps Ilya had looked forward to seeing Kou out, and have a breath of the old life, again. He’d take a rusty spear through his own chest before admitting it, though.

VenomousEve

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Re: Guts. // Royal Blood
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2017, 02:12:47 am »
Trace paused briefly when Mei’s third shot came a full two seconds later than she had anticipated. She would bring it up with her later. The Demon was otherwise unfazed. While she would have maintained that there was no harm in bringing Mei along to any of her jobs, she had yet to invite the Tzeng girl along on anything overly serious. Trace didn’t much like changing her plans when she could avoid it, and Mei was a fine student but nothing compared to her own prowess. Trace twirled a large blade in her hand, arcing the blade back to catch solidly in the depth of a trained pectoral. Fine conditioning did nothing, unfortunately, to prepare human muscle for sharpened steel.

Mei’s fourth shot came faster, only one second later than it ought to have been, and her fifth was on time. She sighed, as if she were irritated, but her current hitman had earned a small smile. “Trace wouldn’t mind it,” She answered without moving from her position. “But I wasn’t expecting you.” She added. Mei was not possessive of the roaming creature lurking above her, though she’d been curiously monogamous in the wake of Kou’s accident. She had told Lib she’d feel guilty for having too much fun while her brother’s life hung in limbo, but it did little to explain her preferred exception.

Mei took out the last two targets on her roster in quick succession and then rolled onto her back to look up at him. The blushing sky was still bright enough that he was a shade outlined in red. She smiled at him. “I don’t hate the surprise.” Mei said. He was like this, more or less. Had a key to her place, wandered in and out like a stray cat, there more often than not until he wasn’t. She didn’t ask where he went any more than he asked if she had friends to take his place in her bed, but she liked his stories when he offered them. She touched her chest then, a small ache that was Bel faded as quickly as he must have felt Libertine near her.

The smile wilted just so. She missed that Demon, but she’d been afraid of the face he would wear for her if she showed up at his door. She hauled her rifle up overhead, aiming it toward him. A silly game they’d played more than once, but the rifle was heavy and Mei was small despite her training. She let it splay to her side and exhaled faint laughter. “Come here.” She said as the sunlight caught the brilliant blue ring in Bel’s eye.

--

Syren was amenable to Belou’s whims; cooperative pair they made. She was nodding and sighing. Libertine had been her first choice too. He was a familiar face around here now, a vice house to satisfy most sins. Lust, Gluttony, Pride. Belou and his harem had fallen to a rather nondiscriminatory sin. “You and he get along well, it seems.” She said. Mutual interests on all sides, Belou, Lib, and their girl. “Do you wear her face for him ever?” she asked. How scandalous that might be, and the princess of Tzeng was like to find it flattering. Which was not to say she’d been to visit in some time.

His request did not surprise her. She slipped off the cushion, toes flipping heavenward before they bowed, pretty swan legs hooked over still as he crawled toward her. When he peered past the furniture at her where she was half splayed, she smiled back with his heart’s lips. There was something akin to sympathy in her expression, albeit briefly. Unlike Bel, Syren had let her parts wander far and wide. Their call was faint and their desire fainter still. She was an independent husk, which had its benefits. “I’ve missed you so much.” She told him with the voice he wanted. The Demons could only worry about Vision and the coming storm for so long. Any love of humans could not be strong enough to usurp their eternal nature.

--

Azmila peered out from her room when she felt Ivena had been silent for too long. She found the girl sleeping. “Strange things, exhausting themselves so.” She murmured, crossing to sit on the couch beside the napping blonde. Az sighed. She was a creature of emotional efficiency. Ivena’s constant state of unease was reasonable fodder for the Demon’s sin, but she couldn’t empathize with the expenditure. When Az was angry, she was Armageddon. When she was not, she was recuperating. Before some of the Strada humans had located Rev, it was common practice to let her spend herself like a wildfire and then send her off to bed. Sometimes for years. She had been Strada’s violent pet since its backstabbing, bloody infancy.

Az studied Ivena’s expression, softer in sleep. Humans were so very, very strange. She did not hate them, of course, as Demons still carried Angelic birth. But she could not understand them. Ivena stirred and woke. “Oh. I must have dosed.” She said, blinking up at Azmila, confused at first and then curious. “Did you need something?” she asked. Az shook her head.

“No, I was wondering why your species was so odd.” Azmila explained. Ivena sat up, rubbing her cheek, and made a quizzical sound.

“Odd because?” she asked. Az leaned into the couch.

“What is the point of expending effort on one another. It takes an undue amount of energy. It’s like you’re constantly… leaking…” Az inclined her head. “You chose to come to Strada, yet you harbor so much bitter. Toward yourself and toward your friends, your brother, and Strada. Me. I have done nothing, though it is flattering, of course.” Ivena sighed. Temperamental Demon.

“I am not the odd one.” Ivena said. Azmila frowned.

“You have chosen Strada and Strada has accepted you. Your friends and brother are not aware. I am simply doing my job. You have done all of the things that you, yourself, have decided.” Az explained. “From where does the bitterness—“ Ivena stood abruptly.

“I should really go. I wanted to get some groceries to help my brother with dinner. Do svedaniya.” She said.

When she had left the apartment and made it some blocks away, Ivena took pause against a botique’s brick façade. Azmila was, under most circumstances, agreeable enough. There were any number of more difficult babysitters, Demon or otherwise, that Strada could have sent to her. Still, she would prefer Az’s stiff business to her friendlier inquiries any day. The latter required more introspection than her heart could presently afford. But then, perhaps Azmila knew that as well. Instigator.

--

Suri Tzeng sat quietly at the table, hands folded on the dark wood. Her expression was unreadable, despite his probing red stare. “Soo ray,” he sang, which finally elicited a tiny frown at the mispronunciation. “You’re still quite pretty, despite your age, aren’t you?” he smiled wide and toothy. Suri sighed. He’d been a peculiar child. Maturity had done little to fix that.

“What do you want, Reverend?” she asked. A name he’d adopted shortly before she’d left the fold.

“Just to see you. It’s been a really long time. I heard you’d just come back into the country.” Rev said. He was jittery in his seat, excited.

“That’s hardly the case and we both know it.” Suri said. She looked annoyed then. She didn’t have time for this sort of thing. It made her uncomfortable, meeting like this at all. Rev had been very insistent, though. Rev was only insistent when things were important. Rev’s smile faded.

“Soo ray you make me sad when you use that tone,” he said, placing his palms flat on the table. “I really just wanted to see you.” And judge your worth.     
 

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Re: Guts. // Royal Blood
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2017, 06:40:20 pm »
What could he do but run the little, luminescent heart over her sight to hope to distract her as she ushered more bullets into more targets so they could be delivered from Trace's path. Little marksman, doing her schooling. The caricature laser shape of course laid on her cleavage when she rolled. Pretty Mei. She always went around so well; in bed, getting dressed, even turning around when he didn't want her to leave for training. It was important to pad her thoughts. He knew about that. She did the same for him, when their schedules allowed for him to cry in her apartment. Distractions, forever.

He gasped when she pointed the warmed-up barrel at him, so she could hear the horror he performed in her ear. Would be a feat, shooting like that. Maybe it'd be worth dying for, to know she was secretly so skillful. One day. He stood and listened to her laugh. Her wish was reasonable. "Don't tell me what to do, Child." he said with no rebellion at all. And then he whorled down the stairs, holding the long weapon as though it was of assault design. He didn't spoil his tools much.

It was a risk to exit, leaping from a window when this placed him in the clear view of the enemy's vengeance for Mei, but he would be surprised if they had been prepared with snipers, or if Trace didn't have them otherwise occupied. So there was a shadow, painted in other shadows, running through the day over a rooftop to get to another building, upon which his preferred lay laid. He dropped the rifle a few paces from her, and fell over in his speed, rolling violently, silently, until the last spin took his body ontop of hers, caging her in between his limbs, head covering her sky.

"Hello, Murderous Mei." With his hair tied back, there was nothing obscuring them from each other. The green in his eyes was as indecisive as ever, but there was a definite sentiment of affection there, under his cocky brow and his half grin. “Do you have time to skip school, or are you going to be teacher’s pet today, too?” he challenged in his best imitation of puberty. He leaned in to transfer the heat from his forehead, from his run, to hers. His lips parted to try her taste, today, but the windows she’d been punching in with high caliber knuckles caught his attention. He reached to the side, where her rifle was, and lowered his hips onto hers as he lifted and positioned her long weapon.

He whistled as he stared through her scope, chin above her face, still, rolling his heat on her legs, as he watched Trace slice and lance the tactical pawns in her pool of targets. “Lady should be in the 4 o’clock fish market with those skills.” He mused before looking down at Mei again, rifles still in position. “You think I could squeeze one of them for her?” he asked, always ready to enjoy the next thing. His finger was already lending pressure to the trigger she’d kept warm. It might be absurd though, since these things were usually so meticulously planned. “Maybe it would get us in trouble.”

-

Belou nodded. Lib liked to have everything he could think of. Strange man, since he could have the real thing on any given day. It was an odd kind of therapy for the demon to wear Mei’s expressions, he knew them well, but not so odd he wouldn’t comply when a customer and friend of the house asked. “Sometimes when he asks for it. Sometimes he even asks for my real face.” Which was a lewd contortion of outrageous cheekbones and soft skin, blushing in purple and reds, a large mouth with unnaturally slick lips with folded corners on each side, made to eat and suckle pleasurably, and an invasive, endless tongue. Thirsty, begging complexion, and bone horns with ridges that suggested they were handles. “Isn’t he sweet?” Lib enjoyed that mouth and those handles.

He smiled, a little sad, but was fast to enjoy when Syren took on the guise. Sympathy did not taste bad. People came here for that, too. All kinds of hurts could spice the act. He kissed Mei’s cheek and stroked down her neck. “I always miss you.” He replied and drummed feather light on her collarbone. Syren’s clothes. He smiled. “Look at your outfit, Meimei.” He said, carefully scolding. “You’re becoming such a harlot, aren’t you?” Jest, for Syren, for being kind enough to give this ruse.

He made love carefully, but was also a little more selfish than he would have. He and Syren knew what for. Always the vessels. He kissed her deeply, the way he would indeed kiss a dear friend, when she gave him Mei’s finishing sounds. “If ever you need someone from me.” He offered. But Syren didn’t have that kind of heart for anyone that he knew. She loved furiously and then moved on, as their kind of angel should. He caught on to her example, and went with it with a bright smile. Mei seemed to be alright, right now. He recognized the tourniquet. Good Lib. Always dependable for anything but chastity.

“Now, Syren.” Not Mei. “You have to tell me about our patrons. Anything interesting?” Nothing could be new after so much time in this game, but that didn’t mean they couldn’t delight over something out of the ordinary. “Can you believe someone asked me to be a speck of dust, the other day? I thought it was so creative, but it was nothing intimate at all.” He sighed and rolled until his head and hair spilled over the edge of their sweaty kingdom. “Sometimes artists fool themselves, I think. What a way to live. I only understand them when they’re ravishing me, or have me  violate them.”

-

“Look at this fucking guy here.” Kou said, stepping out himself. He would usually expect his door to be opened when driving in the city, but such help would taste bad until he could easily convince people he didn’t need it. He wasn’t really known for his heft, the son of Tzeng, but his suit tailored to his pre-coma condition was a bit looser, despite still affording him a quite dapper figure. This with his longer hair seemed almost Ilya’s aesthetic, even if the Russian had his clothes even farther cut from himself, for a good picture while in motion. Kou hurried over to where his friend sat, and took the glass from him.

“Well, if it isn’t Strada’s bitch.” Ilya said, feigning boredom as he watched Kou down the wine with one barbaric gulp. “Up and about. You look like a fucking wreck, weapon cousin.” He continued and then stood, sighing as he held out his arms, as though Kou had demanded the embrace. Kou rolled his eyes and the two held each other for a short moment. They patted the other’s shoulder at the same time, enough is enough, before letting go. In truth, they were brothers by most stretches of the definition. “Ah, thorn in my side is back, eh?” Ilya laughed out as he reached around to tug at the small tail Kou had on the back of his head. He inclined down just a little to touch his forehead to Kou’s. “What do you want? My bathhouse is steaming, my butchers have fresh things. I even have a club opening soon. You can see the interior. I did it myself.”

Kou looked at the dotted eyes from the null distance. Ilya was a good comrade, and a generous friend. They both knew Kou would find it alarming to learn Ivena had not designed the lay-out of the club for her brother. It wasn’t as if Kou hadn’t seen a discrepancy during visits to his sickbed. Ilya must be hurting more than the scar in his chest. Kou hadn’t taken angel parts to heal - someone must have spoken up for him while he couldn’t, knowing he would never want to be augmented like that unless he chose to – but he was sure Ilya might if it stopped the heartbreak of being distant from Ivena.

Out of the choices Ilya provided, Kou disliked the bathhouse the most. Usually he was for it, but with the current condition of the body he was usually proud of, it felt like an invitation to a pity party. He hated the thought of having other’s seeing him like this, and that’s why he had to go. He couldn’t be some vain chicken shit now. “Let’s try the waters. Invite the others.” He said. Ilya nodded without flinching. Both Teddy and Ouran looked at each other. Kou frowned. Like they didn’t know this was consistent with his personality. “Any chance Ivena will come? Add a flower to that sausage soup?” Kou said to fan Ilya’s fire.

Ilya did fold his nose in a way Kou loved, but then the pretty cold features smoothed. “Ah, you want to meet my sestre, Kou? I bet she would like it.” She said and wrapped his arms around the intact breadth of Kou’s shoulders. All the three that had come in Kou’s car were quite surprised, Kou himself almost insulted, as though this was a new kind of verbal warfare. Ilya wasn’t above a ludicrous show like this. The lengthy, pale Vladenko started walking toward two cars. Tzeng affiliates now armored their vehicles.

Ilya plucked up his phone and called the one named Beloved in contacts. “Hello flower.” He said. “I’m with this gentlemen named Kou Wing. He looks a little ragged and like he has a handsome friend. He’d like to meet you at my favorite bathhouse. Would you come?” If Ilya was honest, he might be doing this simply because it was a reason to speak to her. She would know that by the sound of his voice. There were very few things tying them together, these days, with her room vacant in their house. He didn’t even know if he wanted her to accept or not. However much he hated her ties with Kou, he’d want to meet her, and his excuses were running out. “You can bring friends.” He added before holding the phone at a distance and whispering loudly to the three other men. “Right? The more the merrier?” his pried open eyes were exaggerated in their interested, and the others were frozen by this display. “Yeah, but you’re most important.” He said into the phone, returned to his ear. Lastly, he held the device and prop up to Kou. “say Hi.”

Kou was very disconcerted by all this, mostly because it seemed Ilya was winning this exchange between them. Still. He wouldn’t insult Ivena if she really was on the other side. He leaned forward into the flat screen, awkwardly. “Hi, Ivena, I…” and then Ilya brought back the phone, slapping Kou over his head. The linger hair danced prettily.

“Don’t flirt with my sister.” He warned, wearing a joking scowl.

The four of them were in the car soon, where Kou tried to recover some kind of social advantage with loud quips. They arrived at the bathhouse too soon for any of it to have real impact. I Kou was also to be honest, it’d be good to see Ivena.

VenomousEve

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Re: Guts. // Royal Blood
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2017, 05:28:54 am »
Syren sighed. Humans were wonderfully diverse, but they would an insult to their Sin if they weren’t a better pleasure. “Oh, Bel, just you.” Mei’s voice said. “Can’t you feel how good you are?” she asked, energy thrumming. A curious imitation of that heart bond. Forever machine indeed. If only the real Mei were such a succubus. But the girl was human and that was the only reason this game was believable. At that, it was thin and Syren knew, so she laughed. “Maybe my brother once in a while.” Mei’s voice said. Syren inclined her head, nipping at her lip the way the Tzeng daughter was wont to. “Maybe that fantastic glutton is more her fire, these days?” she asked of her character.

“Speck of dust? How curious.” Syren said with her own voice, though she kept Mei’s face to make expressions Bel might like. “There has been a group of school girls sneaking in as of late. They came looking for a girl that looks like someone they tease, so I wore that face before I went to welcome them. They’re always very shy until I take them into a room.” Syren said, raking her nails down his back. Her eyes sparkled. “They’re so cruel and they like it so very much. So much passion in sharing a victim. Young humans are incredible.”

--

Ivena answered the phone on the third ring though she’d heard it on the first. “Kou does?” she asked, and touched her chest to still the flutter. Cruel that she’d get this sort of call now. “I didn’t know he’d been discharged from the hospital,” she began, and then frowned when she realized she’d begun to smile. She was quiet for a long moment. “I don’t think I can—“ she was cut off by Ilya’s persisting antics. He was like that these days, more than before. She wondered if Kou would find it strange.

When she heard Kou’s voice she was certain her resolve was crumbling. “Kou…” she breathed. Ivena thought she might cry. The phone was taken back before either could say more. Perhaps things hadn’t changed so much, then. Though her brow was furrowed, she did smile. Protective Ilya and the Tzeng prince just out of reach. If she was willing to narrow her world, she could pretend for a fleeting moment that there had been no Strada attack and that she’d never left home. That she could call Mei and tell her to come down to the bathhouse and that Kou might look at her like she was special. That she could have all of that and lose her conscience in some parallel world. “Uhm, I guess I could try to stop by. I was really just planning to go to the house to see you for dinner though.” Ivena said weakly, her brother back on the line. Her world was her world and it was full and accusing, heavy as that was.

She turned awkwardly and went back down the street toward her apartment. Azmila would surely complain. The Demon had not moved from the couch when she opened the door. “That was efficient.” Az said. “You don’t seem to be in better spirits.” Ivena groaned.

“I won’t give anything up so just leave me be for a bit. I’m going to meet my brother. And Kou.” She said. Azmila’s eyes narrowed.

“You’re going to meet whom?” she asked, though she’d clearly heard. Ivena rubbed her temples.

“It would be strange for me to say no. You don’t want Ilya poking around too much, do you?” she demanded. Az pressed her thumb to her chin.

“No, I suppose not.” She paused to think for a short while, holding up a hand to still Ivena when the girl moved to head for her bedroom. “Alright. I’ll go with you. It’s high time your brother met your new roommate anyhow, is it not?” she said. Ivena was shaking her head before Az could finish.

“Absolutely—“

“I said I would go with you. It was not a question.” Az said, languid tone drawn taught like a bowstring. Ivena forced a smile.

“Like I said. Absolutely.” She muttered.

They arrived at the bathhouse several minutes after the Ilya and his guest, having taken the time to collect changes of clothes and other necessary personal effects. Az trailed behind Ivena, lethargic to those unaccustomed to her nature. Ivena stopped short when she spotted Kou. His hair had gotten long. She touched her own chopped strands. They were nearly the same length. It would have made her blush some months ago, fanciful heart that she’d cultured. “K-Kou!” she blurted. “I’m so happy to see you’re well.” She took a step forward, as if she thought to go to embrace him, but Az caught her wrist lightly. “Oh. Right. Ilya, Kou, this is Azmila. I don’t think you’ve met before.” She murmured. Az stepped up and waved. A tiny bird beside Ivena, but her presence was otherwise. She blinked, sleepy gaze between the two men.

“How nice to finally meet you both. Ivka has told me so much about you.” She said.

--

She watched him come toward her with the sort of cocky disregard for caution that she had come to find endearing. She hated the same from her brother and had scolded him for it. “Hey there, Tiger.” Mei said when he had stopped himself above her. She’d not moved an inch in his orchestrated flurry, but this sort of entrance was not unusual for him. She reached to take the little yellow pill from behind his ear and rolled it between her fingers. A new one. She arched a brow but said nothing, tucking it back from where she’d plucked it. Vision. Not in the inventory of her father’s pushers, she was sure, but of recent interest.

Mei nipped at his neck. “I’m already going to get into trouble. No need to make it worse.” She said, comfortable beneath him. “You should get into trouble too, you know,” she suggested. “It’s not nice to distract a girl on the job.” Mei stared up at him. Wildling. “How’s my Bel?” she asked, because he’d not been through her bed yet that week. If she’d phrased it with the intention of sounding bored, it was not well executed. In that matter and her brother, she showed cracks.

She teased upward with her hips, somewhat regretting the question and hoping to divert him. “Never mind that I asked, actually. What brings you this way? Here to kidnap me today?” she asked. That scenario had played out more than once now, cheeky indulgence that it had become. Mei felt her phone vibrate and frowned. It wasn’t Trace, she was sure, but the present options were still work or the hospital. Neither seemed prudent to ignore. Mei wriggled a hand down between them and into her pocket, though her fingertips had shown no modesty on their way. She tugged the phone out and slipped it up in front of her face.

A message from Teddy. Kou was out and with Ilya. They were on their way to see Ivena. Mei felt her heart squeeze and exhaled sharply. Asshole. He could have called her himself, at least, if he was good enough to be out. No matter her own wall of silence. She laughed then. “Fuck.” She breathed and tossed her phone to the side. Let the damn thing break. Mei grinned up at Libertine. “Let me finish up with Trace and then take me somewhere. I don’t care. A job, dinner, my place, I don’t care.”

--

Suri wasn’t buying Rev’s insistence, which was fine, because Rev wasn’t moved by Suri’s mood. “You wanted to size me up for something, then?” Suri asked. Rev shrugged in an exaggerated fashion and rolled his eyes heavenward.

“You’re so testy, Soo ray. I just wanted to see you. Chat. Ask about the kids. The husband. How is that husband of yours? Are you two doing well? I heard your stepson got into a nasty… car accident, was it?” Rev massaged his fingertips against the heavy wooden tabletop. He didn’t try too hard at acting like he was sympathetic. It wouldn’t have worked well, anyway, self-satisfied cat. Suri sighed and stood.

“That’s what the report said. Car accident. A hit and run that landed him an absurd distance from the vehicle and skewered. I can’t say it all matches up very well.” Suri bit out. Rev shrugged again. “He’s doing well now, though. I’ve heard only promising things. He’s a strong boy.” She said. It was best not to lose her temper. Rev didn’t deserve that sort of satisfaction.

“Oh, Soo ray, don’t get on your high horse now. That was… how many months ago? And you got back into the country, what, last week? Have you even seen him yet?” Rev sighed. Suri clenched her fists. It was true that she’d not rushed back. She’d considered it until she’d heard he was stable. Suri was fond of Kou, but she lacked any maternal instinct, in the end. She’d not seen the use of attending while he’d been unconscious. He’d not have been able to appreciate her visits anyway. If anyone in the syndicate had found that behavior cold, they’d been mum. But so had Wei.

“Of course I’ve seen him. I visited just yesterday, again.” She said absently. “Wei and I are doing just fine as well. I suppose I should thank you for asking?” She mused. Rev shook his head.

“No, no, of course not. I’m so very happy to hear your boy is doing fine, of course.” Rev said. He was not. “I’ll admit it’s a little disappointing you’ve kept on with Mister Tzeng for so long, though. We miss you here at home, you know?” he said. That damnable smile of his seemed to be crawling wider still. “There’s so much going on these days. So many things I’d love to share. Ideas. But you’ve become so honest, haven’t you?”

Suri stared at Rev quietly. “Strada is weak. Your ideas don’t interest me.” Rev laughed.

“Yes, of course. That’s why we have such a nice foothold in your city. That’s why your boy ended up in such a nasty… car accident.” Rev said. “Because Strada is weaker than Tzeng’s empire. Or so I’ve been told.” He pressed his hands together, elbows on the table in some imitation of what he must have thought looked like a business man. “Empires have a tendency to fall when they become unwieldy. The little people like to rise up.” He cupped his hands to his lips and made soft cheering sounds. “Rah, rah, power to the people.” He laughed again. “I like you Soo ray. I just don’t want you on the wrong side of a war.” 

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Re: Guts. // Royal Blood
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2017, 09:13:18 pm »
Syren was a fantastical actor. There was no gain in not honing your skills, but not all the fallen had such a talent. It was good medicine, or perhaps a well applied band aid, the way she channeled his human. No judgment between them, it would have been impossible, anyway. So he basked in the Tzeng daughter as she radiated off Syren’s performance. And now, suddenly, he was speaking to his friend again, with Mei’s face. He had to chuckle and nod about the school girls. They were such cauldrons of possibility, and it seemed their senses knew it, even if they didn’t in the forefront of their minds. Youth was much the same in heaven.

“Oh, I think I’ve heard it, walking by your chambers.” He said and imagined the abuse on his skin until she gave him a sample along his spine. He lifted his head for it and turned back to look for her, his hair growing a little bit and his features softening to a plumber configuration. Youthful beauty. He didn’t know what form the girls had Syren take, but he was willing to bet he wasn’t far off. “Oh, you scoundrel. You take all the good ones.” He said, fast to run with an emotion if he could fit it into their sin. “Maybe I shouldn’t give you a higher salary, after all.” He said and turned on his back, toes poking her side teasingly, tickling, before his entire foot shoved her off the edge to have her on the floor.

He sat up and hurried to where he’d sent her off. “Maybe I should punish you instead.” He declared and his blue eyes were darker, and his new hair started to fall off at the sides. With a stronger jaw, he lifted his hand, committed to a new role, and hoping it was to her taste, but before he could strike her and bend her legs in every direction, the door sounded. “What!” he demanded, furious because this character would be.

Olun came in, always playing his own games, pretending to be staff outside the menu but using it mostly to bolster the taboo of straying patrons. He did good work sometimes, too. Today he was a guard, it seemed. “Belou! And oh, hello Syren. There is a man. H-his veins are yellow and—he spotted me. He said something about wings and my green crown.” He shook his head. “I’ve not worn that for decades.”

Vision, by the symptoms. Belou looked down at Syren and helped her up. Curious. “Let’s go, my love. More of this later.”

-

Kou went in Ilya’s car. His fairly recent brush with a spear had both Teddy and Ouran on their toes, so they insisted on sitting in the back with him and Ilya. Kou’s protests were enough to at least place Aitawa in front. Ilya was relishing in the situation, arms crossed over his jacket and tie. Kou tried not to notice when he looked from the giant to his warden. “Is this your life now, Kou?” Part of Ilya’s happiness right now must have come from the fortunate outcome of the phone call, but Kou’s embarrassment was usually enough to lighten up Ilya’s mood on any day. “Do they bring you milk at night too?”

“Of course we do, if he tells us to…” Ouran started from the front seat, ready with some gastronomical point, surely.

“Shut the fuck up!” Kou shouted and kicked the back of the leather just as Ilya cracked the air with laughter, slapping his knee, his deep voice shaking the car. Ouran did silence and Teddy didn’t move even if his air suggested he was amused. “They’re on order from dad. It’s not like anything would happen. The Strada people they sent to do me in are dead, anyway. Probably butthurt when their rouge cell fucked up taking Mei.” He went on, sighing before slumping back. He reached into his pocket. “How are things, anyway? You seen some action on your turf?” Packet out, lid open.

“Just the drugs. Like rats.” Ilya muttered. “Seems like pretty bad stuff, too. People trip all day, seeing monsters and thinks like that.” Ilya had a good net on the street, so he would know. “Everytime we send someone home in a box, they get some of our illoyals to sell it.” He produced a stormlighter, which seemed like a good idea to anyone who doesn’t smoke. Probably why he was trying to get rid of it. “Here. Use it outside the car, da?” he said and tossed it in Kou’s lap.

“Tsk.” Kou clucked and took it up out of courtesy. “Seems like they need a what’s-for. I don’t have my mind in it all yet, but I could poke one of my chemists about it.” They were efficient at their work. Ilya nodded and took out a small etui of pills he’d gathered. “Fancy as always.” Kou challenged. Ilya didn’t respond as he handed Kou the wares.

The boys had some time standing by the entrance, Kou billowing as always, while they waited for Ivena. The other princes were a few paces away, always there when invited. Kou found himself looking for his reflection in make-shift mirrors. It had been a while since he’d seen her. He was almost so busy preparing that he missed her when she came. He smiled in a way that Ilya almost punched him for. “Ivena!” he was not so subtle with his intention of hugging her, lifting his arms to envelop her. Her new hair was a fresh look and he wondered if Ilya would kill him on the spot if he made a joke of smelling it. “How pretty you are.” But she was not available to be embraced, a girl reminding of Belou’s shorter characters making herself known, albeit in a subtle way. “Ah. Nice to meet you too, Azmila.” He held his hand out for her, and was sure she would take it. Something in her gaze made her interesting, soft and sleepy, almost. “You’re pretty too, of course. Kou.” He added, and Ilya huffed. Kou had to be true to his own character, too.

Ilya hurried to lean down and squeeze his sister tightly. A big affection to anyone else, but Ilya would usually like to kiss her and pick her up too. Kou made note but didn’t say. “Sestre moy.” He said into her ear with some longing and some sadness. Ilya was always honest. “It is good to see you.” He took the time to look at her for a moment, holding her shoulders, before finally addressing Azmila. “And you, of course. All Ivena’s friends. I am Ilya, the fascist brother, as her stories go.” He had to bow quite a bit to make the handshake reasonable, and placed the other hand on his back for posture.

Kou took it upon himself to entertain Az when Ilya completely monopolized Ivena’s attention, going in. “So. You’re a giant. Were your parents basketball players or is this all you?” he asked with a smile to accompany the joke. He was already playing with the thought of lifting her and tossing her in the air merrily. On a more serious note, but barely “What do you do for fun, Azmila?”

The bathhouse was not owned by anyone but Ilya himself, no middle man, and it was spotless. There were flowers captured in glass blocks everywhere. Some of the tile was excusive to the point where the establishment couldn’t possibly make a profit, on Kou's guess. On their way in a young man, dapper, and someone that looked to be his twin sister, equally dapper, came to greet them. Kou looked to Ilya to compliment him on the detail, and Ilya winked over Ivena's head. Everyone half expected him to follow her into the lush changing rooms, him being so close to her. In the middle of the far wall, between the two openings dividing by gender, was a third option for co-ed. Ilya had meant for it to be enlightened, but some of the associates, crowding behind them now, had made it a sordid choice. Keuk-Soon and Bor were especially good examples. Ilya always kept his sister far from Bor, so there’d be as little conflict as possible.

“Ok, onii-san.” Kou said and finally grabbed Ilya’s arm, his turn to wink at Ivena. “Let’s look at eachother naked, instead. Let your sestre dress in peace, yeah?” Ilya jerked his other arm as if to repay Kou's interruption with a backhand.

"Ah, look at me, being inappropriate.." Ilya said, shoving Kou back and correcting his jacket. "See you soon, Sestre." He reached to grace her arm. Every touch felt like good bye to him, these days. He let go with half a good smile. "Azmila, you have to excuse me. Ivena spellbinds me completely. I'll be better company in the bath."

Kou winked as he locked his arm around Ilya to keep him on the right course. He tried to dispel some of the tension provided by the lovesick brother by grimacing at the two girls. "This fucking guy, amirite?" They disappeared in to their passage soon, mostly from Kou's pulling.

-

Lib opened his big mouth and curled his tongue when she discovered the pill. She put it back behind his ear, however, and he knew it was for the best. For now. He might need his wits if Trace didn't finish her job and the wrath of this unfortunate group fanned outward. Unheard of, but technically a possibility. Besides, he already had a little powder burning his blood. "Then let there be trouble, Meimei." he agreed.

Asking about Belou was progress, but that big mouth couldn't answer with all the jokes he could think of before she took that forward step back. He shook his head with crocked lips. You're not fooling me, little girl. But if he didn't say anything, she could pretend. A Jackal is not a confidant. A Jacka is an animal that reminds of other dogs. "Yeah. I'll kidnap you." he agreed. That was fun too. She got a raised brow when she vibrated and willing mischievousness when she reached for the phone.

As her head was turned to read, he kissed her cheek and drank in as much of her scent as he could. He sighed as he sat up, more weight on her, and touched the shaved side of his scalp. She smelt so beautiful when she was upset. A nasopharyngeal fixation. All the addictions, in this man.

"Sure." he said when the phone was abused and then dropped back down to lick her cheek and neck enthusiastically. His totem was canine, after all. "I'll think of something." he promised and rolled off toward his own rifle. "You're buying though. I blew mine on bad stuff and a candy bar." he went to edge of the roof, one corner off from the possible shooting angles of the windows she'd ruined. "Helluva candy bar. Worth it." He hung the rifle across himself and went over the edge, holding on. Soon, if she listened, she would hear her motorcycle rev below, and then she wouldn't need to wonder where her keys had gone.

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Re: Guts. // Royal Blood
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2017, 09:12:51 pm »
Azmila watched Ivena and her brother with passing interest. This was the brother Ivka was willing to sell her soul for, then. The blue eyes slid toward Kou. And that was the man making it difficult. Az, of course, knew Kou to be difficult for other reasons. A bright young star for Tzeng. The syndicate had outgrown itself and the branches were ripe for pruning. This prince, so close to the great roots of that empire, was obnoxiously ambitious. Az wrinkled her nose for a brief moment. Difficult. Like a weed. It was almost offensive; the way he’d survived without any Angelic intervention.

Az glanced back at Ilya, who was speaking to her. This man had potential she could appreciate. Ivena was wise to preserve him. Gentle brother now, eager family man, but the Demon had heard enough of him to understand that his familial heart was much of the reason to fear him. She smiled absently. “Charmed, Ilya.” Az said. “You share your sister’s aesthetically pleasing genes, it seems.” Azmila paused. “She wears them a bit better or course, if you’ll forgive me for saying.” A joke, which made Ivena look back at her in surprise. Az was not generally so engaged. There was good reason to make this encounter agreeable, of course. Ivena hugged her brother back tightly.

“I saw you just yesterday, don’t mope like this,” Ivena said against his ear, though it sounded more apologetic than she’d wanted it to. She was inclined to believe this distance between them was equally difficult on them, but that might have been a selfish thought. In the end, her intentions were for him only, but she was forced to question the means daily. She liked Ilya better when he was optimistic.

Azmila took her time diverting her attention toward Kou, blinking at his joke. “Parents?” she asked. Both Kou and Ilya were well acquainted with the existence of Demons and held little of the usual human prejudices that might concern Az with pretenses. “I am quite large, actually.” She corrected him. Serious expression. If she thought it were an admission of her species, it was quite likely it was missed. Another small girl with a height complex, instead. “Ivka is my fun, more or less.” She answered honestly. The younger Vladenko was a wealth of roiling emotions these days. All were curious and some were edible. “Also, I eat candy or sleep.” Small voice and the face of a tiny woodland animal.

She drifted back toward Ivena when it seemed appropriate. Ivka smiled at her, but the look in her eyes was guarded. Az smiled back. “Shall we go?” she asked, hooking arms with the taller girl. Ivena nodded.

“I suppose we ought.” She agreed. They were reclining in a sauna area, wrapped in plush robes, by the time the boys emerged from the changing rooms. The girls had been efficient in showering one another off, largely because Az did not excel at small talk and Ivena was in a hurry to be out of the place altogether. In principle, she understood Azmila was not likely to cause any trouble. In fact, it was quite the opposite. However, Ivka would have liked more than anything to keep her two lives apart for as long as possible. At this proximity, she felt like a snake. Had the circumstances been otherwise, she’d not have moved out of the house at all.

The waiting girls made a curious pair, tall and svelte Ivena beside her tiny companion who was, by comparison, swallowed by the fabric of the robe.

--

Mei laughed and shivered against his mouth. Ridiculous creature. Bel must be fond of him too. Occasionally, she wondered to who’s heart it was that Libertine appealed most. It would have been difficult to argue that he was not well suited to her interests, though. “Ah, you didn’t bring me one, did you? How awful.” She clucked. The candy bar, not the bad stuff. Her vices were not chemical and she’d been on good behavior, besides the smoking. It was probably, at least in part, because she was tired. Mei rolled to her stomach and waved after him, grinning as she watched him go.

This time, she saw Trace coming. But Trace was not trying to hide. “You made a mistake.” Trace announced as she approached, looking no worse for wear than when she’d left. There were some new stains if Mei took the time to examine the Demon’s jacket, but she did not and the leather was suitably dark. Trace cocked her head, lips parted as if to taste the air. “Your friend was here, I take it.” Mei nodded and shrugged, upright now as she disassembled her rifle.

“He’s not one for plans, you know.” She suggested. Or schedules, really. Trace scowled.

“That’s his own issue. When you are participating in my plans, things should go as I’ve set. It’s insulting that you’d let a distraction deviate—“ Mei started to laugh.

“How about you just chose to be pleased with yourself for covering for my mistake without any issue.” Mei suggested. “You can be mad at me next time.” She stared up at the dark wine eyes. Trace sighed.

“Because Mister Wing was released from the hospital today, I will be lenient.” She said. It was difficult to tell if that decision was a show of sympathy or celebration, but Mei was willing to accept it. She did note that she’d been placed at Trace’s level in the information chain, or lower, regarding Kou’s discharge. It annoyed her.

“I’m going out.” Mei said, and held the bag with her rifle out to Trace. Trace took it with a small sneer.

“It’s convenient that you’re Mister Tzeng’s daughter.” Trace said, offended. Mei laughed then.

“I’m sorry, Trace. Thank you. I’ll be better next time, I promise. Besides, now that Kou’s back out in force I suppose I should make a good show of myself.” She said. She wanted the upper hand, at least, when they inevitably crossed paths for work. Trace smirked.

“That’s acceptable.”

Mei left her on the rooftop to wait down in the back alley. Lib would find her, because he was good at that. It was more fun when she didn't know precisely how to expect him and, at the moment, he'd not left her with a better option. She touched her pocket where her keys ought to be and rolled her eyes, but she was eager for that painted Jackal's distraction. They were good for each other, that way.

--

Syren pretended to be upset over the threat of withheld pay, but it was a thin ruse. She could have cared less for the monetary value of her work, basking in the energies of the Pleasure House as her primary reward. She wore a look of horror. “Ghastly fiend, you wouldn’t dare treat a sweet girl like me roughly, would you?” she breathed, taking the face of the bullied school girl as she was sent to the ground. Bel’s guess had been close. Bright eyes, eager to find him contrary.

She sighed loudly when Olun interrupted.

Talk of Vision drew a mode somber mood. She’d been on the poor end of the last few encounters, popular entertainer that she was. “As you like.” She said, frowning, and took Bel’s hand. The three Demons were quiet down the hall. “Has the customer been settled in with a human escort?” Syren asked. Caution seemed the best course, at the moment. “Perhaps we should call for some support from the syndicate. A little extra human muscle wouldn’t hurt.”     

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Re: Guts. // Royal Blood
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2017, 11:56:04 pm »
Ilya enjoyed Az. He'd heard of her briefly from his sister's lips but Ivena never spoke much of her. Here she was then, the little thing that got to live with sestre when he did not. He supposed it was only natural. What point would it be if he became Ivena's roommate? Az didn't hurt him."She wears everything better than me." he assured the ears behind the blue hair. "She has everything I lack." and then he got to hold his baby sister. Her hair used to be more present when they held each other, now he could only have that contact by touching his cheek to it. It was a good cut, though, but he always wanted more of Ivena, wherever he could get it.

"She is quite fun, isn't she?" Kou agreed and made a point out of looking Ivena over with Az. He filed the mention of Az's sweettooth for if he ever needed to be on her good side, if only ever to fall into Ivena's good graces. He waved at both the girls when they parted, lugging Ilya along.

Keuk-Soon and Bor were fixed on Kou when he disrobed by the lockers. His sternum was more pronounced. He didn't really eat unless the food was good, and since his friends preferred to bring poisoned leafs and burning water, he'd not eaten a lot in the hospital. Not even doctors could tell the crime prince what do. The two who were not Ilya and Kou ran to the mostly healed Tzeng son.

"It looks like a sun!" Bor said and reached to touch the circular exit of the pipe. Starlight legs radiated from its edges. Kou hardened his eyes and Bor retracted his hand.

"Fuck, right through your heart, man." Keuk-Soon muttered. He was brutal, and good for that, but he was about as smart as he needed to be. Not even Bor bothered to remind him of very basic anatomy.

It was easier than Kou had expected, wearing the scar, back and front. He smiled to himself and sighed with some pride. Perhaps it was fitting for the son of the king to be weathered. A lean athlete in all his glory, well groomed and well fed, but a scrappy someone with badges was also a suitable character for Kou's position. As Ilya shrugged into the robe reserved for him, wine red, and the two others wrapped themselves in white, Kou tied the belt on his robe, but let the rest hang from his waist, leaving his torso exposed.

The four came out, hair wet from the preparing shower, and Kou's hairband was around his wrist when they came out to meet the girls. It was hard not to run to Ilya's sister and pick her up. He wondered if he still knew any of the maneuvers he'd learned, and if she would be surprised enough that her body would answer without her say-so. Playing here was prohibited according to a few signs, and surely Ilya himself. Kou supposed he'd not be alright with Ilya lifting Mei dressed like that, either.

Ilya was very comfortable here. With Ivena this invested, he knew she couldn't just run away. Really, the girl had been over enough for any other relationship, but Ilya was dramatic when it came to his most beloved. He gestured for passing staff and they ran to fetch. "Azmila." he started, but brushed Ivena's shoulder as he passed behind her. "Where were you from, again? Do you like our city? We can show you around. I know many good places." he said. Another way to involved himself in sestre's life. He'd made the offer enough times to Ivena to know she wasn't passing it on. Like she thought, he was family oriented, and a good host, which would be such a contrast if he ever knew Azmila's real intentions.

Kou sat on the chair next to Ivena's without reclining, feet on her side. This establishment was flourishing, even though it was too expensive to turn a profit, and the rows of chairs was a consequence. "He misses you. I'm sure you know." he said low enough that it could be their secret, as though it wasn't obvious. Ilya loves Ivena. "I miss you." he added and watched Bor and Keuk-Soon be served by the returning staff. They liked their drinks amber. "Sorry I couldn't be there for your graduation, but I'll be there at your next performance."

It was strange, seeing her again. The time apart had dulled some of the familiarity but none of her loveliness. Which of course made his infatuation with her more acute in this setting. He remembered their secret, just a few steps in the warehouse, and thought Ilya might have pummeled him for the color of that memory. "So, what are your plans now? What do you do?" he asked, trying to be the Kou she knew, but really using his old tricks to get closer. He was a man of habits, and would probably catch himself soon.

-

Lib had a sense for Mei. Creature like him operated on much instinct, and he found himself turn the bike and meeting her at just the right exit. He'd climbed down along the wall, if climbing you'd call it, since he'd found the fire latter. It was ridiculous to have the engine roar for her, since it was her ride, but he was nothing if not a joker. The machine turned it's tail so she could hop on. He tossed her the helmet. What a pair they'd be, darting through the streets, rifles up like antennae, even if hers was packed down.

"You hold on tight now, little woman." he warned. No helmet, but at least he'd tucked his hair into his jacket. "We're going some place kinda hardcore, so I hope you brought your glock." Their long deaths weren't ideal close-quarter lovers.

A few back streets later, they emerged into the back on an alley, the fence pried open. He'd either been here before, vandalizing, or the world itself was conspiring to make his life easier. With the same kind of reckless that made him likely to agree to the jobs he was offered, he slid his weapon underneath a blue dumpster. "There's a joint with good drinks here. Hope you have money." he said and offered her his arm as he knocked on the metal door behind him. The implication was gambling.

It was his refuge. He'd come across it in a stupor, and woken up behind the bar. The games were custom arcade, and classical. A millionaire's daughter ran it, mostly for people to lay low or relax, but it had been an unprecedented hit. A playground for the wicked that weren't being wicked, today. A wonderland that usually put him in the mood for psychedelics. Bel's place, but more whimsy and less sweat. He pulled out his wallet and handed it to her once they were inside. It was heavy with change. "If you're good, I'll win you something." he said and winked, swiping his ear and throwing the yellow pill into his mouth.

Nobody suspected this neon and shadow oasis in the inconspicuous building opposite a posh bathhouse.

-

Belou held up her hand and kissed it to promise later play as they were lead by Olun, as though they wouldn't know the ruckus already. "You're right." he agreed. Though they had guards to go around, he preferred to have a designated fighter deal with medicated patrons. A few substances out there pushed human potential, and he was sure they were still discovering the effects of Vision. Seeing through the veil and discovering Olun's fallen form was no small feat. This substance needed to be treated with respect, at the very least.

By the time they reached the room, he'd already sent a message out to some people he knew, to see if they were interested. To no one's surprise, they were connected to Mei in some way or the other. He even sent one to the girl herself, what with her new training. It would be good if she thought this a fair enough reason to come. This much connected Ilya and Bel, now.

Quite an ordeal, with another succubus in the room, and held there by the man in question. The patron was disheveled, shirt off, hand holding a broken bottle to keep the succubus from escaping. It was Lesha, who most likely was in character still. Succubae weren't a warring class of fallen, usually, but with their ability to change forms, a single human man was rarely an issue. Knowing Lesha, who liked to veer toward Madonna over Whore, this was probably an act to hold his attention to keep others safe.

"Please, Damien." Lesha tried, curly blonde hair a storm on her head now, blue eyes large. The lips that spoke were plumb. Seemed Damien had ordered a classic. Belou had to admit Lesha begged expertly. Damien rewarded the plea with a swing that painted a crimson line on her cheek.

"Now sir, listen here." Belou tried, coming closer.

"She has wings for hands and feet!" Damien persisted. "She's wearing my sins around her mouth!" he was hysteric and lifted his make-shift weapon again.

"Well, did you ask for that, or was it complimentary?" Belou pressed. Lesha did not appreciate the joke, but it had lowered Damien's guard.

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Re: Guts. // Royal Blood
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2017, 06:16:13 am »
Azmila nodded along with Ilya’s questions. “I’ve been living in New Fenn until recently.” She said of the city that housed Strada’s heart. “This place is nice too. I like cities in general. There are more people around.” Where it is most claustrophobic, tempers run hottest. Az had been nestled in metropolises since they emerged in human civilization. Of course, to say she had a preference to any one city over another would have been much to charitable toward her involvement with human specifics. She knew names that were relevant, and that was a feat in and of itself. It had taken her quite some time to remember Ivena’s name, and she had adopted Ivka for its brevity.

“I would be very pleased if you’d show me some nice spots,” she said politely, which earned a brief and panicked glance from Ivena. Az paid it very little mind. It must have seemed like it bordered on malicious to that girl, who believed her new double life was so very tragic. This was the fundamental misunderstanding between them. Azmila thought Ivena would be a good deal happier if she simply accepted that human life was an inclusive thing. Az saw no issue with befriending Ilya. If anything, she thought it was quite considerate of her.

Ivena did not have the luxury of dissuading Ilya from further conversation with Az, caught suddenly by the very familiar trap of Kou Wing’s endearing earnest. She smiled at him, shy and flattered as was her custom. “Ah, well, I’ll look forward to you attending then.” She mumbled. It was not entirely in her character. It was possible Kou would miss it, that meekness suiting her pretty pink lips, but he ought to have recalled her usually poorly restrained delight when these offers came. More so because he had endured some bodily harm from Ilya at such times, as if Ivena’s own starry eyes were exclusively Kou’s own fault.

But then, there was that new distance. Ivena was certain she must feel it much greater than he. In the months since his hospitalization she’d been forced to take a firmer stance. In that, she’d betrayed him deeply. It was strange to be in this position, aware of the web into which Kou had been pushed and without any intention of warning him.

Azmila broke the rapid spiral Ivena was teetering on with a long sigh and a slow turn of her little round face in the Tzeng boy’s direction. “I apologize for interrupting but, would you keep your simpering to a minimum?” she asked very sweetly and very sincerely. Az felt some obligation to preserving Ivena’s mental health, as it was at least somewhat tied to the future success of her current business. The way this man so casually flustered the girl, completely unaware of the grief she had hefted onto herself, was irritating. “If we are to be totally honest, regardless of what dreams hospitalized you might have been feeling, it’s cheap to say you’ve missed her, isn’t it?” she asked. “You’ve hardly been up long enough to have missed anyone, I would think. Meanwhile, this child, dragging me to the hospital over and over.” Az sighed again. “Honestly, it’s almost offensive.”

Ivena was shocked and wore it plainly. “Az you can’t say things like that,” she hissed, as if everyone couldn’t hear her. She flushed, and whatever embarrassment she was feeling was prettier than she would have liked. Azmila stared at her.

“It’s true though.” She said, frowning. Still, she did turn back to Kou. “It seems I’ve said something incorrect. Forgive me, please. Do go on then.” She offered and turned back to smile that peculiar, sleepy smile at Ilya. “I’m sorry if I was rude.” She said. Ivena pressed her hands to her cheeks, eyes closed, and took a deep breath. She wanted desperately to share some very choice words with Az, but it was clear the Demon was already annoyed. She knew very well that it was a fire she most certainly did not wish to flame. If Az could be controlled about it, so could she.

“Would you please pretend that didn’t happen?” she asked, conjuring the placid face she’d worn for so many years. A new effort, to hold it in front of Kou. She went on with the questions he’d asked, stalwart though she still wore pink. “I’m taking dance courses here. I decided to stay in town. I’m, uhm, pretty close with Azmila so we decided to move in together. I thought it would be good have some kind of change of pace, graduating High School and all.” She sighed. “I know Ilya isn’t too fond of the decision. I—I miss him too, honestly.” She glanced at her brother then. “I’m very happy with Az, though, so I’m hoping this whole thing works out… okay…” she blinked. Perhaps that had all left an impression she’d not intended. “Ah, oh, how is Mei? I haven’t been in touch with her since graduation. My fault, really, I even saw her at the hospital a few times.” She smiled apologetically then. In truth, she felt like a stranger then.

--

Mei did not look particularly impressed by the purr of her own bike, but that disinterest failed to hold an edge with half curl of her lips. “Look at you and your sexy ride,” she said, hopping astride the bike and setting her chin over his shoulder to nip at his earlobe before putting on the helmet. She wrapped her arms around him loosely. They looked good together, she was well aware. Had she been a more reasonable girl and he a more conventional man, it was reasonable to expect they were going steady. Which was not to say they were not, at that particular moment.

She was happy to live that, for the moment, because it left her free from caring about Teddy’s message. That brother who had not called her himself, that friend who had dropped a wall between them without explanation. She would, at least, complain to Ilya about it later. He was also receiving the honor of that asshole’s presence before her. And she’d bothered worrying over him, too. She settled against Lib’s back as they raced off. As if the last months had evaporated. That was fine.

“Oh my, how intimidating,” she hummed, laughing because it was hard not to at that speed. “Don’t worry though, I’ll protect you.” And it would have been a better joke if they’d not been sobbing wrecks in each other’s arms more times than was expressly healthy. Mei had not been in the mood to be healthy, though, and she was fairly certain the thought had never crossed Libertine’s mind.

When they stopped, she was curious. There was very little about Mei that would have suggested she ought to know about this place, and she didn’t. The general location, however, was familiar. “Ilya has a new hangout around here, you know.” She told him, which was good information to have. Lib was on reasonable terms with the Vladenko group, being that he was currently playing on an acceptable team. Mei had also taken the time to introduce the two in a non-kidnapping scenario. She stuck her tongue out at him then. “Of course I have money, you harlot.” She teased. “That was the agreement, to acquire you for the night, was it not?” she tossed her long hair over her shoulder in appropriately aristocratic fashion.

She followed him inside and kissed his cheek. “I’m always good,” she reminded him, innocent face that fooled most. Mei was ready to lose herself to the evening, what with liquor on the menu and no remarkable tolerance for the stuff, when her phone buzzed. She pulled it from her pocket; the screen was cracked from her earlier abuse. A quick scan of the message had her holding the device out to Lib.

“Should we go?” she asked. Regardless of her conscience or her ego, she’d not leave Bel and his Pleasure House to fall to any trouble if she could help it.

--

Syren stayed well behind Bel and out of sight of the strung out man. She’d seen enough of Vision for a while. Belou was skilled as always. If the Succubus had to bet on it, she thought he’d be able to seduce this man, Vision and all, if he really wanted. There was no reason to find the particular situation overly threatening. But Vision was growing to be a reasonable problem and this was, perhaps, a stroke of luck more than anything else. She pulled out her own phone and sent a message to Teddy. Syren had not heard Mr. Wing had been released from the hospital, and Ouran and Teddy were good mind and muscle to have, if this encounter was to prove useful.   

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Re: Guts. // Royal Blood
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2017, 07:56:27 pm »
Ilya thought Azmila sounded worldly, with her tidbit on why larger cities were better for her. Surely that suggested she’d moved around a bit, or had the option to. She was Ivena’s age, so that was a feat. The Vladenko siblings went home on occasion, and he tried to treat his sister to as many getaways as she’d allow, but even with their heavy coffers they’d not trotted the world as much as they’d wanted. When she agreed Ilya almost did not hear, from seeing Ivena’s reaction. He wasn’t a teasing brother, it was curious more than it was worrisome to him. He looked from the two girls a few times and decided he could not retract his offer.

Kou saw the reaction in Ivena, also, but wondered instead about her comparably luke warm interest in his promise to attend her next recital. He supposed it was narcissistic to think she’d be any happier than she was. He wanted to add something. He did enjoy her enthusiasm. But the blue hair turned from Ilya. Kou, who’d set his mouth open to speak, stayed like that looking at Az as she spoke. Kou deducted that Azmila was a frank girl as his lips were parted. “Cheap?” he asked, and it was a bit defensive – he’d never be coy in that way with Ivena, at least not intentionally.

So he was about to move closer to his friend, so he could speak closer to Azmila on her other side. I’ll simper all I want, I’m sleezy by nature, but this woman is also my friend, so it won’t do me any good. I have all the right to express myself here, and you have all the right to make your own conversation elsewhere. He reserved such comparably benign retort for friends of friends. But he was silenced before he could say any of it by Az chronicling of her own misery, brought along with Ivena to see his sleeping form. It was not offensive to him.

Behind Az, Ilya’s towering face was grinning widely. He was extremely pleased by how his new acquaintance berated an old friend. So he did nothing to stop any of it. Ivena, however, was not as delighted, so Ilya was happy he’d not enforced the littlest member of their party. Kou’s attention fell back on Ilya’s sister, and Ilya, who was also drawn by Ivena’s lovely, wished if Azmila had not taken back her good points too soon. Cheap and offensive, what a perfect description of the Tzeng barbarian.

What choice had Kou than let it be when Ivena asked in the way she did? He knew of the rambunctious friend in a gathering, when it was not himself. So he smiled and shook his head at Azmila’s apology, and even added a waving hand to it all. What he really wanted to do, though, was rap that hand across Ilya’s shit eating grin.

Kou, who was again tamed by the blonde in her robe, listened to Ivena’s answers instead. He pretended well, for now. He was happy she’d stayed with dance when her life had changed so much. Selfish of him, perhaps, but it had always been her interest, but the break of graduation sometimes casts things in new light, as she agreed. Perhaps he could throw her to music again, if he was alert to the opportunity. He wondered why it was so horrifying to realize her connection to Az might run deeper than that of friend and roommate. Kou knew himself to be jealous, though he would argue otherwise, but this was not entirely the same. Could be that it was more profound, since Ivena was famously untethered, romantically.

“Well, despite what Ilya will have you believe, he is not dying without you.” He said. “I have seen him out and about and breathing fine.” Nobody expected the head of the Russian group in the city to take a sick day due to a broken heart, even if Ilya himself would gladly do it for effect. “And I regret to tell you Mei is much the same, from what I hear. Ouran and Teddy swears to it, but I don’t know first hand. She’s not visited me since my eyes opened.” He sighed through a smirk and leaned back. “Seems our siblings are all to capable of living without us. What should we do, the two of us, for consolation?” And that, even to Mr. Wing, was a bit much. It wasn’t even the way he preferred to court her. The distance between them had taken him out of old tracks, and he was finding his way back through this cerebral persona.

Bor had made his way to Ilya’s chair, but was turned toward Azmila. Kou recognize the blustering and forgot his plans to redeem himself verbally. Bor was not known for his agile tongue or liberal - even twenty-first century - views. Somehow this would include both, Kou guessed. Ilya saw Bor and his stocky frame, rounding the belly of the robe, in his peripheral, but didn’t deem it valid to divert his attention from Az quite yet.

“Hey, Milla.” Bor said, kicking her chair for her audience rather than a threat, but Bor always did look a bit threatening. “What did you say to weapon cousin?” he asked nodding to Kou. Bor’s face had the appropriate blush of intoxication already. It seemed he dove deeply into the lavations Ilya had ordered. Ilya finally twisted to look up at Bor. “You think you can talk to men like that, little girl?” Bor went on.

Kou tried to diffuse the situation, mostly for Azmila’s sake since he knew nothing of her arsenal of wrath and vengeance, by waving dismissively. “Hey, Bor. She has a point.” Did she? Kou thought being wrong was better than whatever Bor might do to Azmila.

“You’re being rude.” Ilya spoke in their mother tongue and kicked Bor in the leg lightly. “Leave.” She was Ivena’s friend, after all. And he also happened to like the way she spoke to Kou.

“What are you gonna say to me, Milla, ah? You need a lesson?” Bor went on and pushed her chair again, this time moving it enough to make a loud sound against the floor. The accent wasn’t as charming on him as when it came from Ilya’s lips.

-

Lib had seen the bathhouse and been tempted to enter when this place had been too chaotic to cure some of his hangovers, but never really made the trip. A guess on where Ilya’s hangout might be. “Elegant dude, I’m sure.” He answered. Ilya was alright. He remembered him to be a good shot in the chaos of extracting Mei. Leaders who could also back their underlings up always sat higher in Lib’s hierarchy. He wondered if he was going soft on all the people in this syndicate because of their connection to Mei.

Lib took kindly to being referred to as a whore. If the money had been the same and the business as come-and-go, he would have rather made people happy than making them dead. “You already saw my rifle.” He reminded and pulled at the groin of his black jeans. “You know I’m worth it.”

He looked at the broken glass and the message it distorted. It was an invitation, not really something they desired, either of them. It would not be as fun as drinking and beating his old Terminator 2 high-score. “Of course” not, he meant to say, but he saw her face, innocent, but also with a clear preference. “we’ll go.” He added. Come to think of it, Mei was at odds with her demon. He’d seen the symbol on her chest often enough. “But I’m still on the clock.” He reminded as he took her hand, shoes a little slow to walk them out now that Vision was talking to his senses.

Recklessly he lifted her up and put her on the bike again, getting on behind her. “Comon. You drive.” He suggested, wrapping his arms around her tight and leaning back too far for her to reach the bar. “If you rev it you might get laid.” He said in a chuckle, obviously in deeper communion with the yellow pill now. It was a pleasant drug before it wasn’t. “Oh, and that’s not my rifle.”

-

Bel had a pleasant angelic form, with that wanton expression and the usable mouth. Damien was not so intimidated as he had been with Lesha. The blue succubus moved fluently but slowed down when the glass stood out to greet him. “Oh, this is no problem, Olun.” He assured, even though everyone here knew it to be false. “Damien here is just playing.” He explained and ran his hand over his own chest. “I know this game.” He said with realization and excitement in his voice. With a deft flick, a defenseless motion, really, he’d locked his fingers around Damien’s wrist. With disappearing grace, Belou was on his knees soon. His form, hidden for human eyes but not to Damien’s, had long hair, thin tentacles dancing in water. Azure, always.

“What happens next, sir?” he asked as he held the glass to his own throat. He licked the folds on the corners of his mouth, tongue pumping once, upward toward the crazed male. “Do you want to kill me and have your way with my remains, or do you want to feel my heat shivering around yourself when I’m still warm? The former will be very expensive.” A coy smile on Bel of this world, as the real angel form sent its long hair to encircle Damien’s arm.

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Re: Guts. // Royal Blood
« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2017, 12:53:28 am »
Ivena was not entirely sure whether she ought to find Kou’s thoughts on her brother comforting. “Of course he is not dying. I would never let such a thing happen. I’m not that selfish.” She said, and it was a sharper tone than she’d ever dreamt of using with her darling Kou. But there had been that break, still, the painful one, and she was more determined for it. She realized a moment too late that her implication had been that Kou was, in fact, so selfish and was quick to fret over it. “That is, I mean, I’m sure you’re not either. You’re very kind. I have no doubt you’d not let Mei suffer.” She said it like it was an apology, confident in the things she’d not discussed with Mei herself.

Azmila sighed heavily and leaned against Ivena. “Ivka, really, control yourself.” She muttered. There wasn’t time for Kou to further develop this new character on account of Ilya’s Bor. That was quite fine to Az, though, as this attempt was equally unimpressive to the Demon’s ear. But then, the intricacies of human courtship had always been exceptionally grating to her. She thought to be polite at first, sitting up straight when she was called by a nickname she’d not sanctioned. The man was angry, she understood, and it left a pleasant taste in the air. It wasn’t a good thing though, she knew. Angry humans were fine when they weren’t angry with her. Ivena would not like her to cause a scene. She glanced at the blonde and shrugged. “Weapon cousin?” she asked.

Ivena gave her a taut smile. “He means Kou, it is an endearment.” She explained. “Azmila, please…” Ivena started. Az was about to nod to reassure Ivena; it had been her intention to forge some closer connections to Ivena’s circles anyhow, but Bor did not seem to have any intention of giving up. Azmila stood up, diminutive in front of him. As if he knew what it was to taste wrath.

“You are angry, Mister, but I’ll admit I can’t see why.” She said. There was a flicker of something strange in her blue eyes. Ivena reached for her shoulder, uneasy. Azmila’s shadow crept across the floor. “I don’t really understand your concept of men, either.” She said. She’d been a genderless Angel, before her Sin had bloomed. Her stare snapped back toward Kou, and the edge in that expression was enough that Ivena pulled back her hand like she’d been burnt. She smiled at him, and it was not soft and languid. Her teeth were sharp. “How very right of you, Kou Wing Tzeng. I do have a point.” She said. Smoke curled from between her lips, slow and thick. “It is Bor that is being rude.”

“Azmila, please!” Ivena yelped. Azmila turned back to Bor, and she was a good deal taller than him then, edges flickering in something dark and miasmic. She reached to wrap a large clawed hand around Bor’s throat and began to squeeze, claws clicking. Her eyes were hollow dark. Her face was bone. Her voice was like a roll of thunder, concussive and thick.



“Do tell me, Bor, what this little girl should not say to a big man like you.” She rumbled. Squeezed tighter. His feet left the ground. “It tastes good. Feed me more, if you like.” Laughter like lighting. Her shadow wore hooves and horns. And then she set him down lightly and took her seat, tiny girl with the big blue eyes. “I’m sorry, Ivka,” she said, and then looked to Ilya with a very sincere sort of distraught on her face. “I’m sorry Ilya. I’m not extraordinarily adept with human niceties. I did not devour him because he works for you and I would not wish to make Ivka sad, though.” She explained. She glanced at Bor, and for a brief moment her eyes were swallowing pits again. “Delicious, though, I’m sure.” She murmured. All the color had drained from Ivena’s face. And Az had been restrained, for the most part.

Ivena grabbed her wrist and stood. “Oh, my, that’s certainly enough for today isn’t it?” she asked, and the placid expression was cracking. “I’m sorry to rush off but Az and I were supposed to have supper with a friend tonight. We really must be going.” She said very matter-of-factly, though she’d quite clearly asked Ilya about supper just hours before. A nervous laugh, which was not at all like her, and she yanked Azmila after her.

Az seemed unfazed by their sudden departure, waving at the others as Ivena towed her out. “It was nice to meet you all,” she said, before she was pulled into the ladies’ changing rooms.   

--

Mei laughed, but did rev the engine twice. “Bargain price, Handsome,” she said before they bolted around the corner. If anyone had thought she had been avoiding Belou out of some malice, it was apparent then that it was not the case. Rather, it was simply Mei’s character to inflict suffering on herself. In that way, she was not so very different from her Russian friend these days. But Mei had punished herself without fully considering Bel’s thoughts on the matter. Ivena would have argued this separated them, that her intentions were purer than Mei’s. It was fortunate, perhaps, that Mei had never much considered her purity.

Still, she shared the purity of Ivena’s heart in one particular matter and it was for that reason that the bike screeched to a halt before they’d made it a full block. It had been Kou’s car parked by the bathhouse, she was certain. “God, I can’t fucking stand him.” She announced. “Fucking pathetic.” She said, and it was unclear whether she was referring to her brother or herself then. She’d be difficult tonight, probably. But self-loathing made her a delightful lover in the proper hands. Libertine had not yet seemed to mind.

She revved the bike again and they flew off the stop, racing toward Belou’s domain like she could outrun her own stubbornness. As if Kou wouldn’t pick up the phone if she called him. But she supposed she still wouldn’t know what to do if he did. She didn’t say another word for the full ride to the Please House, but it wasn’t as if conversation would have been reasonable at that speed. When they arrived, Syren met them at the door.

“Mei, Libertine, how perfect the two of you were together.” Syren said. If Libertine had ever been on Vision in her presence before, she’d not have realized it. He was one of the few patrons that understood what they were and asked for their real faces, on occasion. It was no less flattering to Syren than it was to Bel, and it was well known Bel was fond of the jackal. “Belou is working his magic with that customer of ours, so please don’t look so concerned.” She smiled reassuringly, and Mei realized she must have looked unsettled. She did not bother telling Syren that Bel’s message had only been half the reason, distracted as she’d been from her purpose in coming.

Mei reached for Lib’s hand and smiled back, squeezing tightly. A curiously vulnerable girl, at times. “He’s okay then, good.” She breathed. Syren nodded.

“It’s good you came, though. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?” she asked lightly. Mei gave her a vague smile but no response, and the Succubus was quick to let the query evaporate. She ushered them inside. “He’ll be happy to see you, though. I’m sure he’ll perform better, knowing you’re here.” Syren offered quietly. Mei sighed softly.

“I guess I should have come sooner.” She said, as if being in that place had reminded her of the lonely her Demon might have endured. As if their heart hadn’t told her. She’d missed him too.

Syren glanced at Lib. There was one man in the syndicate everyone knew was not fond of the tattooed man. “Perhaps I should tell Teddy not to worry about coming, if the two of you can help us navigate things?” she suggested. Mei startled.

“You called for Teddy?” she hissed, and clutched Lib’s hand tighter still. “Tell them no! We can handle this, you don’t need Kou.” She blurted. Syren blinked, confused.

“Mister Wing? Oh, he’s been discharged already? Shouldn’t he be resting?” she asked, but pulled her phone out nonetheless. Mei let go of Libertine’s hand and stood up a bit straighter.

“Let’s go. This is work now, after all.” She said, glancing at the green eyed vagrant. It was almost hard to take her seriously. Syren sent Mei’s message to Teddy.

They were quiet when the slipped into the room. “You’ve taken it, so tell me. It’s just the fear that makes them violent, right?” she asked Lib softly, eyes trained on the man Belou was plying. “Lucky he’s so pretty, huh,” she murmured.   

 

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Re: Guts. // Royal Blood
« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2017, 07:15:51 pm »
Ivena was innocent, and Kou enjoyed the little bit of stress his question put on her. Until it was applied on his own situation. He had made peace with the thought of being a bad brother, or perhaps negotiated a pause in that war. Inward reprimand tastes well whenever you feel like having some. His mouth came out in the shortest pout, almost a once pulsing kiss, to assure her she didn’t need to explain herself. The things she said about his relationship to Mei, she was wrong categorically. He had no kindness and Mei did suffer. He didn’t have to dwell on it, or explain himself, earnest. It was all swallowed up by Bor and little blue. Kou saw that Ivena was more distressed than it seemed to call for. Ilya wouldn’t let a guest be berated.

Bor was always ready to have his legend written. He persisted on mainly testosterone and whatever concept would mine the most of that chemical out of any situation. If he had been a stronger presence, a better leader, he might have been the kind of warlord that kept Tzeng’s predecessors from gaining control, despite being prolific. He enjoyed Ilya’s insistence he stand down, and how Ivena did something of the same with Azmila.

He was very amused when Azmila first replied. There was no reason why he should not be able to lecture her. If Ilya decided to pummel him afterward, pulling him back from whatever punishment he decided to lay upon the minuscule woman, it would also be to Bor’s liking. A lot of his posturing ended with other men restraining him from doing what he threatened to do. He thought it was a flattering look. Bor also assumed Ivena was so insistent so she could protect her friend. A sound thought. He could very well break this petite person in half.

Az did not have the appropriate response for him. It took a moment for Bor to realize he had to fold the skin on the back of his neck to look up at her. When he did, he took a step back. Bor was not usually put up against demons. He was often Keuk-Soon’s partner in crime. Ilya stood when Azmila lifted Bor, but said nothing yet. Sometimes attack is not the best course of action. His hands were balled into fists, though. A family man. And Bor had bled more for him than most. Bor could only gargle in fear and swing his feet.

Kou was behind Ivena, hand on her shoulder but did not let go when she did Az. He was by far the most traveled in interactions with demons, and he had a small smile on while Ilya was very grave. He found it all interesting, but wouldn’t risk Ivena’s safety on it. It was a good shape this creature had. Eventually Bor got his footing back, so his legs could falter so he could be on his knees, coughing, nursing his neck. Ilya was serious, but no longer ready to throw himself at Azmila. Over all, if this was retaliation for verbal slights, it wasn’t unfair. Eating Bor though, would have been too much. “Thank you for that.” He said and dropped his head shortly. “still. I apologize for his behavior. He won’t be so stupid next time. Likely he won’t be with us at all.” Bor whimpered and turned away when she addressed him again.

Kou had to let go when Ivena hurried off. The excuse hadn’t been necessary, but he supposed the sweet girl wouldn’t be herself without that kind of reflex. “And you Azmila!” he shouted after them with laughter in his voice. He waved broadly if Ivena looked back. Ilya was about to follow his sister, and Kou grabbed his arm. Ilya looked as his friend, offended. “Demons are dangerous, especially whatever Azmila is, but so is everyone else you have Ivena hang with. How about you give her some space?” he suggested. “I can ask Belou about it.”

“But Ivena is unsafe with…” Ily tried.

“Then go see her later. You liked Az enough. Ivena isn’t going to be very responsive now anyway.” Kou said and let go. “How about we teach Bor her some manners, instead?”

And the two decided to put more violence on the overzealous enforcer of Kou’s rights than Azmila ever planned to. Keuk-Soon was laughing in his chair, spilling his whiskey.

Teddy and Ouran were quite surprised to see Bor exhausted, and also naked on the floor, cussing and threatening to kill the two who were standing, holding their own drinks, quite content. Kou got to read the hail from Belou’s pleasure house before Syren recalled the request in front of his eyes.

“Vision again.” Ilya muttered when he was told. “How about we put a rush order on you chemists, Kou.”

-

Lib put a kiss on her head when she stopped at a black vehicle. By what he heard he could guess the reason. Better not say anything. He held on for the rest of the ride. It was her bike, and she rode it well. Syren was a creature that signified good fun for him, so he smiled accordingly when she met them. “Oh, it’s nitce to be here, Syren. You’re looking delicious as always…” he started, his energetic greeting dying off slightly as though he’d had another thought. The hand that Mei didn’t take covered on eye as he blinked with the other. He didn’t say any more on the subject as they were lead in. His eyes moved over the walls as though he was seeing them for the first time. Now and then he’d throw a glance at Syren during her conversation with Mei.

“Every now and then you’ll get someone who doesn’t pair up well with any random party favor.” Lib answered, once in the room. “Vision is pretty new, so there’s that.” He said as he squatted down to enjoy the show at a distance. He saw Bel’s horns and long blue hair, and could understand why those things could be frightening, especially if chemicals amplified the experience. Knuckles to his lips as he continued to take in Bel’s method.

Nothing new in the Pleasure House, Damien was holding on well to one of Bel’s convenient horn, other hand still wielding the jagged bottle. The demon and madam made struggling sounds, because men are always a little malicious, and sensitive about their sizes. Lib chuckled to himself and nudged Mei’s leg. “Take note, there.” He said with a grin.

It was not so amusing, though, when Damien was clearly done with Bel and left him coughing dramatically on the floor. Bel was a benevolent lover, and good performer. It also helped him much that he could adjust his own pain tolerance. But as the blue demon was incapacitated by his own choice, Damien seemed to fret, unfettered by the succubus spell for a moment.

Damien saw the scales on his own body, the lingering sin that the pill let him view. He saw black tar of wrath and little mouths in his pores for gluttony. Humans are fallen too, from many disciplines. Lib saw the craze and shot off toward the man, but Damien had already started cutting the scales out on his forearms, and that vessel of blood was shooting brightly into the room. “Fuck.” Lib muttered, locking the hysteric man to sit down. Lib held his arm high and wrapped his hands around them, his own legs around Damien’s waist to keep him in place. Bel’s enchantment was thick in the air still, and Lib felt affected by it, seeing the effects amplify his own rush. “hurry!” he beckoned Mei and Syren, while wondering to himself what was wrong with Vision.

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Re: Guts. // Royal Blood
« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2017, 06:36:45 am »
“They were not upset.” Az informed her, when they were within the relative privacy of the changing rooms. “We did not have to leave.” She said. Ivena groaned, frustrated.

“I can’t trust you around them.” She said, arms folded. Azmila shrugged. That much was a fair assessment. Ivena’s leeriness was better than blind faith, though Az supposed it might be easier to deal with. She did not have intentions of harming Ilya Vladenko or the Vladenko group. It was telling, perhaps, that she held no such inclinations about Kou, though the safety of both the Tzeng family and Ilya had been in Ivena’s terms of cooperation. Az yawned. Even a partial flare of her Demonic presence was tiresome.

“Well, that’s your prerogative. Shall we go? If you buy me dinner I won’t bother you about it further.” Az suggested. Ivena sighed. Azmila was a terrible foil. To be the dramatic of a pair when the other half was a Demon bound by the sin of Wrath was absurd. Ivena had always been the reasonable one. She sighed again. It was best to be sure of herself. She was still the reasonable one. Azmila just didn’t understand Ivena’s position. Azmila blinked at the taller girl. “You’re thinking ridiculous things now, aren’t you,” she mused. Ivena zipped her dress smartly.

“Let’s go already.” She said.

--

Rev was wearing his feline grin, waving enthusiastically as Suri pulled away in her little red sports car. Suri had always been such a reasonable lady at heart, despite all the foreplay. She had her ego and that was fine. Suri’s greatest strength was her acute dedication to self-preservation, even if it flew in the face of love, motherhood, or anything else. Which was not to say that Suri did not love. It was simply that Suri had never loved anyone more than she loved herself. Rev liked her for that very much.

He continued to wave several seconds after the car had disappeared around a corner. Impish immaturity sloughing from him like a second skin the moment his hand dropped. The blood bright eyes were predatory. “Contact Azmila and tell her to take Ivena Vladenko to meet the Cerberus group. It is time to put her at the head of something.” He said as he stepped back into the building. A woman, waiting to shut the door behind him, nodded and was quick to take her leave. Rev paused. “And tell her that Suri Tzeng will be in contact.” He called after her. It was best to keep things at least somewhat transparent with the Vladenko girl. It would make it easier to gauge her own loyalties.

--

Mei pinched his arm lightly. It might have been something like a reprimand if she’d had any real sense to mean it. “Later,” she muttered, because she had not had that sense. Mei was generally good with keeping her chin up and playing appropriately into the situations at hand, but her professional decorum was addled by Libertine’s own laissez faire attitude. Nobody in the Syndicate much minded it on him. His work was good and his desires were cheap for an organization that distributed many of his favored vices. There were plenty to choose from. Mei thought about the little yellow pill. Vision was not one of the Syndicate’s candies to reward him with; he really was an incredible sort of insatiable.

If anyone took issue with Mei’s behavior with that alley fox around, they had not expressed it either. In truth, it was a happy distraction many thought she ought to have. Princess under fire while the crown prince slumbered. She’d been a good addition to the Tzeng active ranks, too. If she wanted to play while she worked, that was fine. Trace might have been the only one to hold a contrary opinion. And Trace was difficult.

In the end, there was nobody in that room then that would have paid any attention to Lib’s cheeky smirking or Mei’s duet with his mood. Not with Damien, their specimen, at the hands of the most skilled of the Pleasure House’s Incubi. Tzeng’s patron saint of whores. It was almost as if they’d all been called in to play voyeur to Belou’s lovely lips. Some investigation. Mei wasn’t sure whether she was relieved or disappointed when the mood in the room shifted. Lib was fast, catching the first whispers of a mania he must have been fluent in reading. Veins gasped faster.

Mei was moving before Libertine urged her, rushing toward them. She pulled a blade from a thigh holster that had been hidden beneath the length of her thin sweater and started a tear in that very fabric. She ripped it quickly, a band of dark cloth she shoved between Lib’s fingers to press against the wound. “Syren, get bandages,” she said to the Succubus, who’d come to offer her aid. “He’s bleeding a lot, it’ll soak this.” Mei said. She was already tearing another strip from her frayed sweater. She looped it loosely below the wound to wait and tourniquet if Lib’s direct pressure could not stem the flow.

“Lib, you took that stuff, right?” She asked softly. She’d seen him pop the sunny capsule. “Tell me what’s going on. Is it a hallucinogen? What’s he seeing?” she asked. Damien was gasping, but he was not struggling in Lib’s hold. His face was pale and sweaty. Mei glanced back at the wounded arm. The amount of blood was enough that he might be going into shock, what with the compounding of his frantic Vision high. But then, it might also simply have been fear painting him white. Damien was blinking.

“Are you and Angel?” he whimpered. She was swallowed in a blue aura at this proximity to Belou; it was not something she could see and nothing exceptionally notable to a Demon’s eyes beyond recognizing the signature energy. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” Damien wailed then. Guilt in the Pleasure House, but only for fear of retribution. Mei frowned.

“Belou,” she said, and it was the most frank tone she could muster, calling for him after all her silence. “Can you get me an empty needle and syringe?” They might not distribute Vision, but they had other magic brews. He was certain to have instruments available. “We should take a sample.” She glanced back at Lib. “Do you have more?” she asked. A private question. She was disinclined to volunteer him for testing, but she was certain he’d be willing to trip in the comfort of one of Bel’s rooms and report on the effects. It was only right that they get a handle on this new stuff, particularly if it was interfering with business.     


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Re: Guts. // Royal Blood
« Reply #13 on: February 16, 2017, 06:52:28 pm »
Lib’s task was an easy one, as far as he could do it, but he was failing. Because Damien’s body, its broken hull, was failing. Even those with limber fingers only have two arms. Concentrated, but not distressed, Lib sat there, grateful for Mei’s help. His grip would not do, but letting go was not so stellar, either, until she wrapped the wound as well as anyone could hope. He blinked to look around. Olun with the emerald crown grown out of his head, Belou, lovely with a purposeful mouth, Lib had learned so much about the angel organ trade since the start of this tumult with Mei.

“He sees the other world.” He explained, being her connection into Vision. Syren had gone to fetch, but he already knew her form. “Sees the angels as they were when the fell.” Then he paid his green attention onto his own arm, with Damien’s melt running down Agatha’s face. The script pulsed and lifted off his skin, to ask why he’d been such a lousy lover, asked as blood curled in her tongue. But he’d already cried today. She’d have no power over him until tomorrow morning. “Sees bad things, private.” Libertine narrated. If Mei was attentive, she would see Lib’s fingers shove deeper into the arm he was holding together. Not that Damien was in a state of mind to feel it.

When Damien asked for absolution, Lib grinned. “And apparently he’s sorry.” It wasn’t that he didn’t understand the dire in his arms, he just didn’t see the value of being serious about it. His tongue massaged a molar, phantom flavor of Vision still there. Good thing he was such a cluster fuck of different things. Suddenly Selma sang their song, and he squeezed Damien even harder. “Ah. I get it now.” He mumbled as they waited for Syren to return. “I think this city is going to have problems.” He looked through the ghosts to see Mei. “All his weaknesses are saying hello. I think it is trigger and amplified by demons practicing their sin.”

Belou was by them soon, ever Mei’s willing servant. To her, he had no other face than she was used to. He was no doctor, but the human body was his friend. A needle for the black blood in Damien’s hip, and then one in his throat, for bright red. The vials were delicate and adorned with silver vines. He sat on his knees, worried for Damien, his shoulder touching Mei’s, because he had to have it now when she couldn’t flee. “A harmless group of fetishists, really. Want to play vampires on Sunday nights.” He said rolled the secure glass cylinders in each hand. He smiled in the softest way, honeyed, hoping to give strength to Mei and Lib.

Damien struggled suddenly, and Lib squeezed him harder with his legs, and tugged harder around his neck with his arm. “More? Ah, you junkie.” Lib said at her question. He had two more pills. Seemed Vision was readily available to almost anyone, but not at great quantities. Thinking of it, the people he’d met that had gotten into the habit weren’t too compelled to return for anything but the experience, not an induced addiction. A benevolent thing that hid well in the myriad of other choices. “Minimal stash, but I can give you a supplier if you promise it won’t get back to me.” He tied his grip tighter around Damien’s throat when their patient started to fight them again. “I don’t want saving people getting in the way of my playtime, you know.” Always with the jokes.

“You’re incorrigible.” Belou said with a blush. Always working. “But you should most definitely stop with the pills, Libertine.” He looked at Mei for agreement. “He’s allowed to have a handful of our other, happier treats if he wants, but I think restraining a trained gunman will prove harder than poor Damien here.” It was a bit like speaking to a mother about her son. Belou’s motive wasn’t hard to discover. He saw Lib all the time. He’d not seen Mei at all, lately. “Thank you for coming.” He said, touching his chest. A blue glow reached up the neck of his shirt.

-

“I don’t think it is a good idea to leave her alone.” Ilya muttered as he buttoned his shirt. His private chambers in the changing room corridor was more of a studio than a place for lockers and mirrors. Kou was still completely naked, looking at the etui. He’d read the message from both Bel and Syren again.

“You can blame me if something happens.” Kou said, absent minded. Because of his history with the otherworldly, his attitude was consistently casual toward most such dangers. Any danger, really. Hypocritical then, how he usually reacted on matters concerning Mei. Ilya had not pointed that out yet.

“I must be crazy, listening to a recently comatose idiot about my sister’s continued well-being.” Ilya sneer, fixing his collar and then the cuffs. Kou had already caught up. A slut must always get dressed swiftly. They were properly dapper, striding out when Kou was informed Mei was the one who had rendered them unneeded at the Pleasure House. He frowned and put the phone back with some agitation.

It wasn’t long until Bristol opened his door for them. He was not far behind, sartorially. Always clean, Bristol kept his hair combed to the side and flat. Emaciated fellow, but it went well with his use for the syndicate. Double breasted suit that lifted Kou’s brow. “Yes?” Bristol asked, obviously a bit surprised to see the sleeping son vertical. “Something ‘with a boom and then a slow sizzle’?” he quoted. Kou had a tendency to push the fact that he owned Bristol, and have him mix tailored batches. Kou shrugged at Ilya who seemed to get the reference quickly.

“If you have it. But I’d rather you take a look at this.” He said and thumbed the etui open, flicking it so Bristol had to catch as the two taller gentlemen strode in.

“Water, if you have it.” Ilya said and looked around, taking out his phone to check on Ivena.

“This is Vision. I am already running this.” Bristol said, going over to a table where a pitcher and glasses were already gleaming. A chemist of the Tzeng Syndicate lived well. This apartment was grand.

“and?” Kou asked, pulling at a drape. Bristol had good taste, but liked to spend more than he had, which kept him desperate for bonuses. Still, his home was well designed and decorated. A textbook snob.

“The usual compounds, nothing special with the filler, either.” He said, serving Ilya the glass, and even provided a coaster. Ilya looked at the second trinket and then let it fall to the floor. He was polite, but that had to go both ways. Bristol was obviously offended but knew his place enough to simply pick it up. “There’s one ingredient I haven’t identified. It’s almost biological.”

Kou pushed his lower lip under his upper one. “You have an idea, Kou?” Bristol asked, correcting his lapel.

“Sometimes that’s how doctors describes angel organs when they don’t know what’s inside the patient’s body.”

-

Akade was a runner. Strada liked to place him wherever he was needed, and he’d fill the position masterfully. It was no great challenge to him to govern over Cerberus. His mouth was scarred, the smallest cut on his upper lip, leaving him in a subtle scowl even when he smiled. Brown hair curling behind his ears, dark eyes, shadowed jaw. There was plenty of menace in his core design, which was why he’d been advised to dress a little more prim. For practicality’s sake, that usually meant vests over his shirts. Today it was pinstriped, over an eggshell shirt. Quite a handsome sheath for such an obvious weapon.

He was waiting in the small apartment. A smaller safehouse that Strada owned under Tzeng’s nose. They said it wasn’t baby-sitting, but he suspected it would be a lot like it, meeting with the Vladenko sister. He reached into the camouflaged wealth of knives around his chest pocket to take out a phone and held it to his broken lip.

“In the house over at seventh. Come in for report.” Sometimes Azmila’s briefings were a it short if she wasn’t into it. He took a look at the screen to make sure the message was adequately written. “Send to asset five.” Her picture came up. Pretty girl, blonde. Akade shrugged. Sometimes pretty girls were unwieldy.

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Re: Guts. // Royal Blood
« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2017, 06:45:53 pm »
Mei would have made a pretty nurse if she'd bothered with the schooling or if Libertine asked for that kind of play. She wore a neat and serious expression, closely examining the wound that still ran and darkened the cloth bandage she'd fashioned. She tightened down the tourniquet as she listened to Lib and his reasonable translations of the world seen through Vision. Mei nodded. Damien's eyes rolled, weak and dizzy. He still thrashed here and there. It was good Lib had a strong hold on him. "Well, Mister, you don't come to a place like this with the expectation of receiving emergency medical care. That's your own liability." She said. Glowing figure, practical and frank sort of Angel then. "So you'll have to deal with this. It'd be inconvenient if you died."
 
She glanced at Lib, catching the way his fingers pressed a bit more aggressively than she'd otherwise expect. "Belou, a lighter please. Heat the blade." She said, pulling her knife back out and pointing it toward him. She'd yet to fully acknowledge him beyond the usefulness of his syringe pulling, but she'd not moved away from the contact of his shoulder either. "Are you alright?" She asked, and it was for Libertine, not Damien. To Damien she said, "This is going to be unpleasant."
 
It would not be good for this man to die or end up in a hospital. Mei had heard there was a young detective giving her father trouble. A woman around Kou's age that traveled with a Demon. It was rather lewd for someone serving the law, Mei thought. But Demons called to Demons and that partner of hers meant places like Belou's were inherently vulnerable. They maintained appropriate facades of legitimacy and legality that would keep any detective digging for a while, but those pretenses were on paper and not in appearance. They didn't hide their truth, so it was just a matter of time to pin it down. Between the officers and this new drug, she supposed a good deal of drama had begun to swirl in their city.
 
When the blade was sufficiently heated she pried back Lib's hands gently and let the bandage fall. Her tourniquet had not stemmed the bleeding as much as she'd have liked and Damien's arteries had already been overly generous with their bounty. A jagged wound, but not an overly large one. She pressed the hot blade to his skin as a cautery and wrinkled her nose when he shrieked and the scent of heated human flesh rose from the angry red arm. She was fairly exacting with the procedure, crude and painful as it was, and removed the blade before she'd burnt the healthy flesh badly. Trace had taught her this sort of care on the people Wei sent her to frighten. It had not been a pleasant learning experience, but here she was. She wondered if Trace would be pleased.
 
"Syren, restraints please. Let's tie this man up and sent him to Daddy for a talking to. It would be best dig into this network, would it not?" She asked.  Olun and Syren were agreeable in this regard. Damien was gasping and struggling, saliva and snot on his paper white face. Syren provided the requested restraints and Olun helped her with the tying, freeing up Libertine from his hold.
 
"I'd like to hear about your supplier, yes." She smiled at Lib. "It won't get back to you. Even if it did, it wouldn't matter, of course." She said. The Princess's favored hound could afford to carry a few bad habits. Mei finally turned to face Bel. "I don't know. He does equally well with restraining and being restrained, does he not?" She asked, and it was the perfect sort of perversion with that naïve look in her eyes and wicked lips.
 
She did not respond to his thanks. Open sentimentality threatened her these days. But she laid her fingers over her own heart and the glow was there too. "Have you been getting into trouble? I thought Lib would be keeping an eye on you." She said. She had missed her Demon too. 
 
--
 
Ivena tugged at the collar of her jacket, leather and tailored, and shifted in the back seat. She wasn't nervous, exactly, but she was anxious. Az was well aware of the other girl's mental state and sigh heavily. "Please keep your spine, Ivka." She reminded the blonde. Ivena rubbed her eyes with the heels of her hands.
 
"I know. I'm fine. It's just been a long day." She muttered. And it had. Kou had looked worn from his recovery, though the slimness and longer mane had suited him. It had been difficult, being near him as he fell naturally into his charming ways. It was odd to notice it now. Before, she'd have simply swooned over his perfect and princely nature. She saw it more clearly for the flirtation it was now, and she wasn't sure whether that ought to concern her or not. Perhaps his mystique had been broken by the harsh reality of his mortality, but it only made her heart ache more. If she was dear to him, special, and perhaps she could have boldly given him her heart, she wondered if she would have taken this path. Ivena shook her head. That was a terrible thought. In the end, this was more pure, putting her family first.
 
Azmila folded her arms across her chest. "It's not an appropriate time to become moody. Stop thinking about other things right now. You've got a job to do." She said. Ivena nodded. It was not intended to be comforting, but it was. Perhaps Ivena was growing desperate for some form of relief.
 
She was the picture of serenity when they arrived, stepping out of the car to follow Azmila with a polished stride. She kept her chin up; aloof, but not elite. It had always been her appeal. Az knocked on the door and waited for Akade to answer. He was someone Rev was fond of, and Rev often had his way within the Strada group. It was not because he was in any great position of power, but because he was petulant and spoiled and generally unstable. A devious and unsympathetic mind with his Wrath Demon, he was best kept satisfied when possible. And so, Akade's talents had not gone unnoticed. Certainly, Akade had achieved his place at Cerberus's head by his own merit, but he would also not be easily rid of Rev and Az.
 
When he did answer the door, Ivena would be standing behind Azmila, a full head and a half talled than her. She would be polite, waiting to be invited in, when Azmila would not. "Hello, my name is Ivena Vladenko. It's nice to meet you," she said. 
 

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Re: Guts. // Royal Blood
« Reply #15 on: February 18, 2017, 09:05:25 pm »
They waited for the natural magic of her feild medicine. Mei dispatched it well. Lib was fixed at the little wings, color of Bel's blush, sprouting around the glow that went through the chest of her shirt. He felt the claws of Vision unhook from his mind. It must be an effect of the pill fading in his blood, and Belou's leaving spell. There was no need to seduce, anymore. The scent of flesh hissing on Damien's arm, the blood cooking, was enough to clean the rest of the high out.

Belou had been with her at every turn. The blade that became burning red was also ornamental, now that the box for the would-be blood-suckers was provided. He would make sure to have the trinkets cleaned before sunday, but he wasn't sure they would apprechiate being robbed of the remains. At least he'd have some of it saved, towels and such. Libertine had just winked when she asked about his well-being. It had sent lightning thorugh Bel's stomach, and he didn't know if Lib's cavalier was so attractive because of his own tastes, or Mei's.

Lib remained seated when the two others took Damien away. He gave a salute and then locked his arms around his legs, watching the interaction between the remaining Madam Demon and Mei. To entertain himself, because he always would, he rummaged through his pocket to produce another pill - ineffective storage, just jostling around - and his phone. As he crunched the pill and it made loud sounds inside his head, he backtracked a few messages to find Mei the dealer she was due. Honestly, he had a few, he could have burnt this one for her, even if he might have demanded payment, then.

Bel was all too eager to get even closer, but like a masterless dog might to a potential new owner, rather than the lover he was to many people. "I have been busy." he agreed. "Mr. Tzeng has been quiet, so he leaves me to it, but it seems debauchery has gone up lately. I don't know what it is." he shrugged and stroked her leg, a bit of nostalgia in his eyes, and some sadness to accompany those memories. "It's not just the bodies we offer, either." he said to pull him out of that hole. Mei didn't want to see the gyre between them. She wanted to traverse their distance freely, and pretend it wasn't there. He could provide such illusions because he loved her. The only bitter he felt was the bitter she tasted on herself, be had no intention of punishing her for it. "All kinds of libations! I have children buying from our liquer stash, and my braver costumers are combining everything they can. I'm happy and I'm worried." he said.

He would have wanted to tell her more about himself, something personal, but some of the struggles he'd been through rung so clearly of loneliness, and that would be a weight he should carry when she wasn't looking. They shouldn't lift together. He nuzzled her cheek and licked it quickly. "Hah. It is good to see you, as always. I'm glad you're eating right." he said and reached to fondle her breast swiftly, without even pretending it was for his mark on her. "And you, beloved, heart-betrothed. How have you been?" he sat back, chaste again, somehow.

He knew some of it. That was why they made love in tandem, at different locations, both of them tasting Libertine. He also felt something about Kou, and didn't know if he'd gotten into the habit of waving the scoundrel of a brother away from inner sight as soon as he showed up, or if it was Mei's habit that taught him.

Libertine stood up, bloodied and glorious, and started undressing right there, looking around for something that wasn't drenched in darkness. He placed his phone in Mei's lap before Bel could decide to sit there. "Here, Mei. Those are his places. I can set up a meet, too." he said without looking at her when he discovered a door that could be a closet. He jogged toward the possibility. Somehow he already had a cigarette in his mouth, and his limbs danced a little slower for the medicine he'd ingested. Always such a beautiful jester. "Let's have a shindig, yeah?" he said, shrugging around in a black shirt, and decided to leave it unbuttoned over the art on his skin, much to Bel's delight. Lib still had to think of her mood, after all, and a pleasure house is a good start for a smile.

-

Az would see an unusual tilt to Akade's head when he laid dark eyes on Ivena. The Vladenko girl wouldn't know, but Az, unless she was as uncaring as her sleepiness suggested, would see a little air of approval on the Strada puppy. It was for no other reason than that Ivena was pleasant to look at, but even that kind of thing was usually hard to get out of him. Nodded, as though she'd said her name right, and let them in. "Akade."

The apartment wasn't much, but no one would be wanting, either. There were spoiled people in need of hiding within their organization, too. The tv was larger than it needed to be, but he'd not turned it on once. He remained standing, even if his posture did not say it was a clue of respect to those that had come. "You're a good asset to us, Ms. Vladenko." she'd been courteous. If she liked that kind of thing he would supply it, if it made her easier to deal with. "But you're proving to be a little slow as far as we would like." it wasn't true. She was accommodating. Nothing to gain from procrastinating. But it was important to move things along with the progressing infection of Vision in this city. If she could move faster, all the better. A technique the boss usually pushed for Akade.

"It's not a threat. We will keep our promise and you will keep yours, but it's better that things have as little friction as possible." He locked his arms behind his back and looked her over. "Ah. My manners. Please sit. I have water and sweets." It was terribly unlikely she would indulge. She didn't enjoy this as some did. They were on her turf, after all, she didn't feel unsafe. Usually meetings in these places meant they were in enemy territory, all participating sides. He sat down, having to make atleast a little effort toward her comfort.

"With Kou Wing Tzeng resurrected and out and about, we have another potential problem, yes? Initially we moved to remove this wildcard. So, now that someone went fishing, is he going to be bad for us?" he posed. And what can you do about it, said his eyes. He needed to know her a little first, before she met with Cerberus.

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Re: Guts. // Royal Blood
« Reply #16 on: February 21, 2017, 06:17:01 am »
Mei’s breath hitched beneath Bel’s touch. It was a bit like returning to her own skin; as if she’d been outside of it these months. If the girl had been capable of a less guilt-ridden introspection, she might have realized her original sin in this place had come from a similar need to find herself. It was almost as if she had forgotten the weight Kou had pressed between them in the dark of his apartment. She had not felt wrong for seeking comfort before. Time and sentiment were cruel when she’d built a palace out of pride and a poorly expressed heart to keep herself, and her brother, safe.

Belou had always been good to her, tender with her confused adolescence and deeply human soul. It was not so uncommon, humanity be shamed, that the Demons who chose to exist alongside them could have greater empathy for their poor mortal charges than mankind. Libertine’s deft handling of her moods had been uniquely perceptive; it had been a good deal of what had endeared him to both Mei Wing Tzeng and her Incubus, beyond his evening prowess. Mei was not blind to it now, when Bel stayed light where she needed it.

He was still a creature of his own sin, of course, and knew comfort predominantly of one form. She was surprised when he stopped himself. “Me? I’m okay. I’ve been working.” She said, because lying was useless and she didn’t know what else to tell him. She laughed lightly, reassurance, and then shrugged. “Trace has been surprisingly accommodating.” Mei said. She ran a hand through her hair, tucking her knees up to her chest then. “Kou is out of the hospital, apparently. Mom’s been back in town.” She inclined her head. They weren’t bad things, certainly, but they were unnecessarily complications to her mood.

Mei plucked up the phone Lib had left cradled in her lap. “This name… this is what he told you?” she asked after Libertine, which was at least partially an excuse to direct her attention toward him as his clothes fell away. “Trace had a chat with his boss not more than a few weeks ago and they were independent.” She said. Which simply meant they were sourcing from a group that was happy to share. “It’s a weird pill to want to encourage in circulation,” she murmured. “A meeting would be helpful.” She decided.

Lib and Bel were a dangerous duo when there was not a hysterical customer bleeding in the room. Mei looked uncharacteristically leery, though. “I need a drink. Can we go to your back rooms, Belou?” she asked. There was still reservation in her, then, to fall to the delights she seemed to believe she had been punished for. But she wasn’t refusing or asking to leave. It was far more than she’d offered to her neglected Demon in far too long. She seemed to realize it half way to his familiar back rooms. “I’m sorry, Bel. I’ve been cruel.”

--

“Akade,” Ivena repeated, and it came out slightly accented despite her effort. It wasn’t a poor form of the name, though. Azmila was content to settle in a corner of the room and it was apparent she had come to chaperone more than participate. Az was useful for getting things done but was rarely part of the planning. Her nature did not appeal to that sort of work. Today, she was the necessary in-between for Ivka and her newest Strada connection. “I am a necessary asset, not particularly a good one.” Ivena said to him. She wore the expression she’d practiced for Ilya for so many years. Serene, unflappable, honest girl.

She clasped her hands behind her back. “Which is not to say I believe I am indispensable, either.” She added. She did not want him to think she was some spoiled standby princess, bargaining for her brother with no mind to get her hands dirty. Ivena would be diligent with her commitments. If she was to turn her back on her dear friends and risk alienating her beloved family, it was best she thrust herself into this in full. To lose those things over a lackluster effort would be an insult. “Slow on what front, Akade?” she asked him. “If there is an area in which I can be more proactive, I would be happy to.” She was earnest. “I was not told much about what my role was to be here with you and Cerberus. However, I can offer significant connections within the affluent community…” she suggested. In truth, she’d been moving between unconnected jobs, thus far. Az had been kind enough to ensure her it was simply on account of establishing rapport, given her questionable ties. She hoped to become an asset to this Akade and to Cerberus if it would move Strada to being taking her needs more seriously. She was keenly aware that the window for safely securing protection for Ilya was closed fast.

Azmila spoke up then. “Ivka, you’ll be operating on level with Akade here. He has more practical experience than you, but your inside information will be valuable. Both in high society and the Tzeng syndicate.” Az said. She was staring at Akade though. She did not know if he’d been told he’d be sharing his Cerberus group with this inexperienced blonde. She certainly had not provided the news. Ivena looked startled, which was good. A surprise to her would make her less of a threat to Akade; Az had no intention of forging poor bonds between them so early.

Akade might not have been aware of Ivena’s place with him, but he knew enough about the connections Az mentioned to have had that question prepared. Ivena tipped her chin up. She, too, had been prepared for this sort of conversation. She’d perform better now than she had when she’d first stumbled in to plead for a place with Strada. Now she’d steeled herself with months of watching Kou’s battered body heal, skulking to the hospital and keeping her one dear friend, Mei, cut off. She’d braced herself against the superficial wounds she was bound to inflict on Ilya, too.

“Yes, he will be.” She said. “He’s a determined man and I am sure he has as much pride in his work as my brother does in his.” Pride there that she didn’t bother disguising. Pride in that man that she’d loved from a weakly held distance. “However, I believe I have both my brother and his confidence. They do not hesitate to speak with one another about their shared work interests while I am around. Another blatant attack on his person will only cause the Tzeng Syndicate to begin gearing up for heavy retaliation. I believe our time would be better spent frustrating their plans of uncovering the sources of Vision and the pattern of its spread first.”

Ivena did not like listening to herself say those things, because they were not poor suggestions. But attempting to undermine Strada’s workings would be stupid now. It was paramount she gain Akade’s trust and make herself useful. “It was part of my request from the beginning that Mei and Kou Wing Tzeng remained unharmed in exchange for my assistance. I still believe it is quite possible to achieve the necessary goals without hurting either of them.” Her blue eyes grew remarkably cold then. She would not have recognized her own expression had she seen it. “However, I understand that compromises may need to be made. I say that only to impress that my suggestions are not an attempt to buy the Tzengs safety.”

Ivena paused and then stood a bit straighter. “Also, that I will not compromise on preserving the safety of my brother and his group, regardless of what working relationship I am to have with you and yours.” She was still, tall and lithe, without a breath of conflict in her then. Az was grinning widely.

“Akade, I am looking forward to you working with Ivka here. I think your group will temper her well.”   


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Re: Guts. // Royal Blood
« Reply #17 on: February 21, 2017, 07:35:18 pm »
She was as forthcoming as she could be, and Bel was grateful his prodding hadn’t elicited flight in her. At least the information about Suri here was new to him. Little conversation to get them started. He didn’t know who wanted what between them, sometimes, and so it was hard to make decisions solely for her, but he ached for her happiness, so he would press more for her company. Quietly first, though, he hung his head over the phone, and nodded. He was going to help any way he could, but it was all a ruse to be closer to her. Vision connected them now, and he was grateful to it for at least that much.

Libertine watched the two, already moving something aged and dark around in a big glass that had been spared from the havoc of Damien. He sat on the floor, against the wall, behavior which wasn’t far from the character they attached to him. He wasn’t being some carefree adventurer now, he was just trying to give the two some space. In an earlier life he’d been known as a good young man, adept in caring for the feelings of others. He kissed the rim and leaned back and looked up into the ceiling, pretending to be off on some astral business while Bel tried to participate in Mei’s thaw. The girl’s mood was a perfect third bedmate between them, lately, but he’d rather she be happy.

Bel nodded and squealed when she asked. He stood quickly and took the phone from her, throwing it like a card over to Lib, who expertly did not catch it. It still landed on his lap without being scratched. Rascal. Bel followed his beloved Mei when he wasn’t leading. Lib took some time to come along, lazy now that his work was done. Or perhaps he trailed behind them to watch their dynamic. “I have new spirits.” Bel promised her as they made their way. Lib’s ears listened closer. He was this kind of animal, after all.

Mei knew her route well, but Bel stayed close so she wouldn’t change her mind inside a treacherous heartbeat, and decide Lib’s offerings were better than Bel’s house. Or worse, that she thought she could become better on her own. Stubborn girl, indeed. The room was larger than it seemed with the intimate colors and big furniture. It was easy to guess Belou’s taste in decor. Anything that would hold more than one person, whether it was intended to or not, could be added. He made sure she was at least half way in before running to make the drink he’d made her on their last tryst. He had a craving for it, and he assumed it was her tongue that had inspired it. Libertine had not caught up yet. Little painted saint.

“Not in any way that can’t be forgotten.” Bel answered, at last, when he gave her glass, still swirling. Maybe the flavor could bring them full circle, and they could forget the interruption in their friendship. A sip to forget. “I am sorry. I am immortal, and it seems I somehow slayed your mood for all these months.” He added and stroked her arm. “I was there when you graduated, you know.” He revealed and popped his hip to the right, dipping his finger in the liquid and tasting it for himself. “I applauded with your father, but he doesn’t know.” Bel had cried for many reason, then, but he wanted her to know she would never be lonely if she wanted his company. “Now, tell me. You’re helping Trace.” Statement. “Isn’t that too dangerous? You should stay safe or someone might worry.” Meaning Kou. Bel shouldn’t have, but he had part of her heart, too. The brat brother was never far from his thoughts, either.

And then he was up to his old tricks. To him it was the essence of a host’s duties. A quick skip to the right, when they stood close, and then he spun widely until he was behind her, touching gently and then more assertive on her shoulders, pushing her forward toward a cluster of furniture. A little, padded oasis. He would have her sit. “I’m sure Trace protects you, takes care of you.” He said with a tone she would recognize and perhaps had missed. Playful, lilting Bel. “But you bound your heart with mine, you know.” He said and would sit in front of her. Within a wink there was a flash of green, terribly misrepresentative but the point would get across. “Don’t make me into a demon of envy, Mei. I’ve had enough grudge dalliance that I wouldn’t want to make you sore.” He said as his eyes burned from green all the way back to their usual azure.

“No, you’re a handsome devil!” Lib called from the door at someone who may or may not be in the corridor. He was finally with them, in a good mood. If Mei was being fair, or just attentive through Bel spoiling her, she would notice the elevation of his glee was asymmetric to what he’d shown with her for a while. It wasn’t entirely natural for a beast like him to foot around a single pretty maiden and her sorrow’s shrine for too long. Here was his natural habitat.

-

Ivena Vladenko was fast to pluck out the inconsistency of his critique on her performance thus far. And he did what he could about that, which was to wave his hand at the question she gave. Their spy, then, and with a certain weight to her opinion. Az seemed to enforce it all. Good. He would not have wanted to test this girl. Those things tended to get unpleasant, and definitely strain a working relationship. According to the blue asset he was equal to Ivena, which meant he only had an advantage in what he already knew about his organization. Sometimes the bureaucracy was tiring. And asking questions was sometimes frowned upon. He found himself missing his formative years here, when orders were clear.

If Ivena was a flower sprung out of pearly ground, she did not seem it here. The reports suggested she’d grown up soft, but here was someone with a goal. Emotional, but so had the hit on Kou been. Akade stood up as well, but it wasn’t rushed. Not dancing around the problem of the awakened son earned Ivena some stock, especially when she offered a solution. “I did not know they were looking into Vision.” He said. It was almost close to gratitude. Better pay a few distributors some attention.

Half a smile for the ruthless way she build Ilya’s importance with the possibility of Tzeng corpses. This was her stance then. “Understood. You want your brother safe.” It wasn’t really his job to guard Ilya, there have better be someone else on that, primarily, but Akade’s function would probably gear toward some kind of protection, now that Ivena’s paygrade had been revealed. He looked to Az for her injection and nodded. “Rest assured then, Ms. Vladenko, that Strada has extended a courtesy to you, at least in part.”

His tongue rolled inside his cheek. He’d not often spoken of Cerberus so openly. “We are a group of enforcers. One of Strada’s hammers.” He revealed and walked slowly toward the woman. If his dark eyes suggested anything unpleasant, he did nothing to put her at ease when he reached inside his vest. When the hand came out, ivory shirt rolled to reveal ready tendons under svelte skin, it held a paper thin screen between two fingers. “We are at your disposal, and you can look for skill sets here. You’ll see that several of the individuals are adept at espionage and surveillance, though. So I suppose Strada wants you to know not only Az has eyes on you.” There was a white arrow on the screen already, and the simple font stated his name, and listed “Recon” and “Demon neutralization”. “I suggest you use us to do what you suggested, which was keep your brother and Kou from learning too much about Vision.” He was going to be her voice then, since Strada must not trust her posture to be enough to reign in Cerberus, even with orders from above.

-

“AHUGKTCHOO!” Kou sniffled and rubbed the tip of his nose. “The fuck, Bristol. You house is dusty.” Bristol’s back straightened severely.

“I run lab equipment here, Mr. Wing. I assure you if dust made you sneeze you brought it in yourself.” Bold from someone of the brain to someone of constant battle. Kou frowned and Ilya put his glass down to laugh.

“Maybe someone is talking about you, Weapon Cous… AHUGKTCHOO!” Ilya was cut short. The two brothers looked at each other with shared suspicion as Bristol handed Kou a map.

“This is the other stuff in Vision that isn’t your magic fairy dust.” He said. “And where to find them in the city or close by. Some dealers too, or some who might know.” Bristol believed in excellent work. Kou shook his hand and had replaced the file with a roll of currency. Bristol’s mouth tightened with disapproval at the state of the bills in his palm. Kou knew the snob had an issue with untidy thing, and Kou liked to mix his money.

“Ok, Kou. Working on your first day. Being dead changed you. Where to now?” Ilya asked, sliding his finger over a surface to inspect its cleanliness. Bristol almost threw him out, then.

Kou opened the file. “The docks.”

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Re: Guts. // Royal Blood
« Reply #18 on: February 23, 2017, 03:58:10 am »
Mei shook her head. “It wasn’t you.” She said. It was her, she was fairly certain. Not that the line between them was particularly clear. “I was worried, I guess.” She said. Mei recalled the few times her Demon had worn her brother’s face. The very first time had been that way, when she had realized her feelings for what they were and become a woman for it in the process. “You never have to ask and I don’t know what I might have wanted.” She said. He had not played Kou for her in a long time, not in that way, but she’d missed that brother while he’d vacationed in purgatory. She hadn’t trusted her heart or Bel’s.
 
She smiled, a softer expression than her usual keen, when he told her he’d been at her graduation. “Thank you. I wish I’d known.” Mei said. She laughed then, suddenly, a release like a gasp after holding her breath. She’d not realized that had been the case, but the realization wasn’t surprising either. She rubbed her temples. “I’m an idiot sometimes, I’m sorry.” Now that she was thawing to the familiarity of this space she was struggling to recall why she’d anticipated it was better to stay away. Her fear felt disgustingly petty and it was deeply ironic that her Demon should strike her as so very pure.
 
Mei soured a bit when his talk swayed back to the man on both their minds. “Have I ever really cared if he worried?” she asked him tartly. “He couldn’t have while he was in the hospital and I don’t mind if he does now.” She said. Mei watched him begin to weave his usual habits when they reached his chambers. Belou was comforting in his consistency, when Mei’s other attachments shifted like storm wind. She was agreeable enough to taking the seat he offered her. It was good to see her prickle, really. Mei was less concerning when she was quick to ruffle and barb. “Either way, I really am sorry. I was away for too long, probably.” She said, insisting upon making her point. It wasn’t as if any of it ought to surprise Belou. He had known her as long as she’d known herself, practically, and Mei was nothing if not stubborn when it came to guarding her childishly tender heart. It had made her single minded more than once.
 
But he was teasing already, unwilling to ruminate on unnecessary unpleasant things. It wasn’t worth anything if there wasn’t a grudge and neither of them had any bitter toward the other. Mei had to consent to that much. She had her arms folded across her chest in an instant, chin up in a familiarly imperious fashion. “Belou, you can hardly speak. I’ve had time to reflect, you know.” She warned. “You tricked me into giving you my heart,” she said. “Drama queen.” Under her breath. But her smirk said she’d have done it a million times over if it made up for his being made into a decoy.
 
She was distracted by Libertine’s arrival and she looked troubled for a short moment. “I hope you’ve been taking care of him, Bel. I’m quite aware he’s been taking care of you.” She said. It wasn’t as if she hadn’t realized she was some weight on the nimble scoundrel. But she’d needed that from him, and didn’t fancy herself a big enough person to forego it when he was willing. She wondered if she might be like him some day, purging her melancholy in brief and treading light the rest of her time. It might not have been the right sort of thing to envy, but she did. For the moment, what mattered was that she thank him for being her crutch. For bringing her here, too. 
 
It was probably time to make a point of growing up a little more. She glanced at Lib again, before turning back toward Bel. She was a willful girl and these two might stand by her if she began to inch forward. It was a curious and comforting thought. In some sense, Kou’s discharge seemed like a kind of rebirth; there was no reason it couldn’t be for her also. She’d already started to move. 
 
“I’m sure I’ve not been the easiest for him.” Mei shrugged. “He and you both spoil me a bit.” She did not seem to think they oughtn’t have, though. Then, a bit louder so that Lib would hear. “Either way, that glutton for variety there must be putting you all through your paces. Has it been fun?” she hummed. “Does he have a favorite I should be competing with?” a brighter laugh from her and then faux somber for a moment. “Belou, before you answer, you do not count in that race. You’re everyone’s favorite.”
 
Mei stretched and took a sip from the glass Bel had given her. “Is this my special now?” she asked, and she didn’t sound particularly disappointed by the idea. “This,” she held the glass up to peer through its dark, “you, and that whore over there?” she mused. It was a triumvirate that had defeated the ghost of her brother before. There was potential for it again; Mei supposed she’d done more than her due diligence, worrying about Kou. She tipped her head back. “When he’s with you I feel all sorts of interesting things,” Mei said lightly. “Now that I’m here, I’m curious about what I’ve missed.” Bel would feel a swell. A small change, blossoming under his catalyst. 
 
“Libertine, you’ve been so well-behaved for me,” she was unfurling, finding a more comfortable recline in Belou’s pillow shrine. “I’m sure you’re being paid off well enough, but I was supposed to treat you tonight.” To Bel, “Bring whatever or whomever he wants, Sweet Bel. We can charge Daddy directly today. It’s for my mental health, shall we say.” It was her kingdom here too, sharing the heart of its master.
 
--
 
Ivena nodded. He had not put up a fight about Ilya, which should not have surprised her but did. “Oh.” She said. A slight deflate in that well-constructed professionalism she’d worn. “That’s good. Thank you.” She said. Ivena cleared her throat and listened carefully when he went on. She didn’t have time to be relieved and, in truth, should not have been anyway. Protection now was for now only. Ivena would have to become an indispensable asset. She knew that.
 
“I see.” She said, listening to Akade explain in simple terms what his group provided. She exhaled slowly. There was no reason to hesitate. “My brother had a sample of Vision. I don’t know where he got it from. He passed it on to Kou.” She chewed on her lower lip. “I don’t think Ilya will let him investigate independently so they will go to places that they are willing to share with one another.” Ivena shook her head. “I don’t know where they will go first.” That was not enough, she was certain.
 
"My brother does not commonly deal with Demons, and Kou is a considerate friend. They will not go to a Demon for information together. Kou will likely wish to use someone he trusts from the syndicate." Her accent had rolled into something thicker as she invested in her thoughts. It was a nice sound from her lips, but made the relatively benign information sound a bit more conspiratorial. She stared at Akade. "Perhaps I am jumping to conclusions, but I would guess that information from within the syndicate will point most readily to the areas of the city the Tzeng group controls. However, simply moving every dealer that might point to Strada from Tzeng controlled sectors seems a bit overt, nyiet?" She asked.
 
If only Ilya could see her then. His darling sister sparkled, sinking her teeth into this new role. Like Mei, perhaps it was time for new growth, new blossoms. These two criminal princesses and the brothers that owned their hearts. Ivena frowned. "I admit that I make these guesses based on my familiarity with my brother as family and Kou as a friend. I must turn to your expertise to point us in the right direction. I do not know everywhere Tzeng runs this city; I only know where my brother has his feet planted."
 
Azmila smiled languidly. She was pleased. While the Demon had expected this outcome, there had still been uncertainty. More so after seeing the way Kou had reeled her in so quickly at the bath house. She was satisfied now that Ivka would at least attempt to be as committed as she'd been promising. "It's good to see you're worth something when it starts to matter, Ivka." Az chirped. She rubbed her cheek.
 
"Akade, do you think we should watch the docks? Kou likes to gather information there, because of the traffic. I could be there. Situationally, it might work to our benefit." She tugged a fall of her blue hair. "Perhaps I should feed them what we'd like them to follow?" A vague motion of her tiny hands. Az was not one for cloak and dagger, but it was a reasonable suggestion. "Ivka can stay with you and direct me. She is good at being appealing to both of those men." Az said with a short giggle.
 
 

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Re: Guts. // Royal Blood
« Reply #19 on: February 23, 2017, 07:03:38 pm »
Nothing could have been better to Belou than that laughter. More than reacquainted dearness, he was also in tune enough with her that he physically felt lighter when she did. In a way it could be so selfish for a demon to lock hearts with a person. “An idiot who graduated top of her classes.” He reminded gingerly. His step was full of life, now. He frowned along with her mood when she replied about Kou. Ah, that welling reminder he was a bastard. And he was, Bel was so convinced. He would remain certain as long as Mei was.

When she sat and apologized once more, he leaned in close to her ear and pinched when he should be massaging. Rather firm and deep. “Then don’t ever leave me again.” He said with a well performed dark voice. He was a demon, after all, he had such sounds in his voicebox, but it was all to entertain, and underline the affection he’d made clear again and again. It went well with the little attitude he then presented jealousy with, concerning Trace. Where he sat, legs crossed and without a thread on his upper body, he clapped his hands once, laughing soundlessly at her sudden tartness in response. What a delightful girl when poked. It’s not as if he’d ever get in the way of her love, if Trace gave her such a thing.

“I would never trick you.” He said and touched the light on his heart that wanted to argue differently. “It really did help me heal.” He continued, but it was a losing conversation for him. If anyone had tricked either of them, it would be the absent brother, but it was better not to speak the name of that demon-in-ways rather than birth. Bel looked at the other person as he gave himself to a stupor that shouldn’t be at such full bloom yet. Enthusiast, always, Lib. Bel nodded and reached to touch her knee. “We always take care of everyone here.” He promised. “Did you know he was down several thousands in debt? It was blatant carelessness on his part,” No one knew lib to be cheap. “but I covered him with my own money.” It didn’t sound like much, but Bel made a point out of never encouraging a tally too deep. Wei had warned, knowing their vice was not greed. But how could Belou not spoil the Jackal who didn’t have a malicious bone in his body toward the pleasure house. Mei had been speaking of another kind of care, though. “And sometimes, when he wakes up, blind in tears, I wrap him in whatever clothes surround him and rock him.” They were friends by some definitions of the term. Really, Belou wanted to please Mei. He was left wondering what danced in her mind and moved in her eyes then, when she looked at Libertine but didn’t quite see him. some sullen inward reprimand, if she was true to form. He felt some of that melancholy.

He was happily brought along when she was being playful, and Libertine, also. They both turned to her, Bel much closer. He grinned at Lib as he caught up, glass in hand. “He says he’s this detached soul, swimming on the sea of his whims, Meimei.” Belou said with his hand on the corner of his mouth, but not whispering at all. Lib performed a frown for the scene. “But he does anchor himself to some individuals.” He gossiped. Lib was visually aghast. Bel laughed lightly when she transferred a bit of happiness to him, and there was glitter at the ends of his eyes. He’d not been so well in some time. Libertine too, who was never really down, except for his morning fits, was elevated on her mood. Bel, who had been given a mission from his mistress now, stood, ready.

“Ah, nothing for me.” Libertine insisted like a pious servant of others. Bel looked at Mei with laughter in his bloated cheeks. And then Lib took another sip and shrugged. “Oh, well, if you really want to, I’ll take whatever is ready.” Bel grinned with challenge in his showing teeth.

“Ah yes, Olun, then, with his curly hair?” he teased. He’d never known Lib to ever ask for Olun by name. Lib so Mei would know the punchline of Bel’s joke.

“I of course mean Syren, Belou.” But Bel was already at the phone, putting it down after the order.

“Of course.” He said, coy and bored. Aristocrat character. He danced prettily over to the Jackal. Mei might know the pivots from something she’d seen Ivena do. A demon does not need too much training to do the superficial part of art, even if he lacked Ivena’s soul in the moves. He placed himself against Lib, who readily embraced him. “But first we give Mei a show. She is your benefactor and my house is all about manners.” He said as he kissed Libertine deeply, shrinking in size to bend Lib’s back.

With some sways and preppy steps, they were in the oasis together. Lib was into it, it seemed. She’d not been wrong about who was everyone’s favorite. “Do you feel violent, sir?” Bel asked as he pushed Lib’s face into the crook of his neck. Bel looked at Mei, then. “Would you like to ravish something?” he offered. Only muffled agreement could come from the tattooed, pretty jester. “Oh?” Bel affirmed. And then, for Mei, his face twisted into cruel playfulness as he kicked Lib’s leg to have him on his knees. Like a spear Bel came forward, mouth colliding with Mei’s while holding the back of Libs head, pushing it between her thighs to keep him there. “You clean your mistress now, and then you can have your buffet.” Bel whispered against her mouth, and moved Libs head until his breath was coiling on her apex.

At this moment, Lib was of course out numbered. Bel’s favorite was always Mei. Libertine didn’t mind the taste of her or how his oxygen seemed to be held captive by the demon unless he heard a good grade from Mei’s sounds.

-

He thought she’d have more hesitation. Something he had shared must have pleased her, or so a pretty round of her lips revealed. So far everything was in accordance with anything one could expect from a good business partner, adherence to set price, and little to no hitch concerning her end of the bargain. It was also a bit of a treat to see her lull over the pieces of the puzzle that she had for them, and in that pretty accent. It was unusual for Akade to take make such observations about missions he wasn’t bored of. He noted this about himself and would make sure to be weary of whatever effect might follow. His watchful eyes continued to examine the light creature.

Most of all he liked when she admitted where her information ended. Assumptions had killed people in the past. Wasn’t lack of knowledge of their limits exactly what had gone wrong with the kidnapping? Rouge arms. “Nyiet indeed.” Being so cautious as to retreat all their dealers, and there was a few, would threaten their endeavor at its core. “Intel on weaknesses in Tzeng’s armor would go a long way to secure your brother’s territory.” Since they all knew her pressure point. “If you were to ask the right questions, and play the right role, would Ilya know where Tzeng lacks defenses? I mean economical, strained allies, and firepower, of course.” He smiled to himself. This would not be entirely unlike his role in taking down neighboring places, then. He understood his mission better now. “And if they investigate, you should stay privy to their progress. We’d like to know when you do. All they’re looking for is information, they won’t know what’s wrong information, yet.” He agreed with Az. He nodded to the little blue woman, too.

“If you don’t have objections.” To Az’s plan. He held out a hand, not to shake, but to give Ivena the word. What a fantastical risk she was, but now he comprehended her worth, at least. As far as advantages went against an enemy like Tzeng’s syndicate, Ivena was to prefer. “With some practice, you could make good use of Cerberus while you do your work.” If nothing else, then for guidance. There were expert betrayers in their ranks. The stoic professional with a shadowed jaw was also excited to have Ivena stay. Despite his efforts, he failed to notice that about himself as something bad.

“Perhaps we start soon then. Admittedly, we weren’t anticipating Kou to be so eager to get back to work, given his frivolous past, and from some sources they are moving at some speed in their investigation.” He turned to Azmila. “The docks, you say? I trust minimal back-up is enough for you.” And with his other hand, that made a perfect blade, he directed Ivena further in the apartment. A maestro, always.

-

And they would be right. Kou was already bored in the backseat of the car they’d taken, kicking at Teddy from behind his seat. Teddy was quiet as ever. “Childish, isn’t he?” Ilya muttered without turning from the window. Teddy shrugged. It was good to have their prince back, and to know he was enough of his old self to retain these idiosyncrasies. Kou wasn’t amused by the criticism, though.

“Hey, is Ivena dating these days?” he tried, and at once he had Ilya’s attention. “Yeah, I feel like I’ve been in prison for a while.” Even jesting, he didn’t like the way it sounded. It might have been worth it as Ilya reached inside his pockets to take out a narrow blade to inconspicuously play with the rose in his lapel.

“Da, Kou? Where are you going with this except over the line?” Ilya pushed. Ouran was about to defuse the situation to the best of his ability when Kou found the next few words.

“I’m just saying that she is that age.” True enough. A petal fell on Ilya’s lap. He knew it was so, and he didn’t like it. He’d not seen anything wrong with spending his life with her in that way, but he also knew she was against it. In fact, Kou’s subject hurt him a little.

“Mei too.” Ilya replied. Kou shrugged. Ilya’s relationship with Mei was plain, and Ilya was famously fullhearted, anyway. To Kou, this was as weak as anything Ilya might have thought of. But Ilya wasn’t going where Kou assumed. “Heard she does things with Belou…” again no news to Kou who was getting bored, and a bit disappointed at Ilya’s wit. “…and Libertine.” It took the Tzeng brother a few blinks to remember who Libertine was. Ouran’s eyes shot open wide. He’d been trying to avoid this fact with Kou since he woke up, in part because it was sore to him, too.

“What the fuck are you saying, Ilya?” Kou demanded, scooting closer. Now Ilya shrugged and put the knife back. He was already cutting his friend to pieces.

“The guy who kidnapped her. They’re nice together.”

An argument that might as well have been a firefight shook the coupe. By the time they reached the docks, even Teddy was in a foul mood. Kou and Ilya corrected their suits, stepping out, and Kou had to tie his hair back again. Kou looked over pictures on his phone that Ouran had been forced to send. It was evidence enough. They’d not been secretive.

“You’re welcome for the information. I expect flowers.” Ilya spat as he looked into the file from Bristol. “Think we can start with our man in distribution. He usually has eyes on everything.” In a way, it was an offer of ceasefire. Ilya felt a bit bad for having rocked Kou about this. It certainly wasn’t his place, but Ivena was a sore spot, these days.

“Whatever.” Kou muttered and strode toward the appropriate building. “Fuck. I should just have stayed in rehab all my life.”

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Re: Guts. // Royal Blood
« Reply #20 on: February 25, 2017, 05:51:54 am »
Saints were made by the ones that worshipped their myths. Dark people in dark times, looking for hope in human faces and praying for Angels. Self-built saints were godless idols, then, and two were digging their boots into the earth. Shake a defiant fist to the past and raise an ego for the future. Mei and Ivena were young womanhood in glossy hues; the two girls who had been good friends found themselves tied on opposite ends of a peculiar thread.

Ivena touched her lips and closed her eyes. “Zaichik moy knows a good deal and would make a point of knowing more if I were to ask.” She said, and it seemed like the might have regretted the truth of it. There was no doubt in her mind that Ilya would be happy to speak of almost anything she wanted to listen to. More so if it were both a demonstration of his aptitude for his job and a manner of placing Kou in a less favorable light. He’d always been sensitive about her preference for Kou, and she’d never been terribly subtle about her heart. Azmila hummed.

“There are more than enough ways for Ivka to loosen Ilya’s tongue.” She said, and when Ivena looked Az was giving her a rather pointed look. Ivena’s expression remained placid, but that hardly hid the way it made her stomach turn from the Demon. Az shrugged and turned away. How far would you go, her small back seemed to ask.

--

Mei’s spine arched like a curving bow, thin grey shirt riding high as Lib was directed low. Belou’s lips were a familiar sweet she’d been missing and she sighed between his syllables. “I’ve been gone for a while, so this is a bit unfair.” She mumbled. “Libertine, if this Demon listens to me, shouldn’t you listen to me too?” she asked, as if she had any intention of protesting. Belou was an artist and neither human in the room really could hope to compete with the way he tugged and twirled in their preferences and his. Mei squirmed and whimpered against Belou’s mouth.

She could feel Bel’s delight, reverberating with her own pleasure in blue and heart. It crawled up her chest and his, like her fingers on his skin, and they might have been as painted as Libertine. Mei sighed. “Lib—“ she started, the ring in Bel’s eye was bright. The Demon would understand her without the rest. They, who could share in their hungry friend like two halves of a ravenous spirit; Mei would have shared that intertwine with Libertine if she could. But then, perhaps it would have encroached on his perpetual free fall. Her hips rolled up, thighs against his jaw.

--

“The docks would be a reasonable guess. If we are wrong, they will go their eventually and Tzeng’s people will remember seeing me there. It’s not unlikely that they will come to me one way or another, if only for Ivena’s sake.” Azmila said, tucking a coil of tidal hair behind her ear. “I’ll be going.” She plucked a small device from her pocket and held it up for Akade to see. An earpiece. Azmila was generally good about being prepared. Ivena followed Akade into the back rooms of the apartment.

--

Syren came, because she had been called. She came as herself, three eyes and rising horns, a twisting garden of rose tresses sprouting and skin loved by a century of warm sun. She smiled at Mei, sharp teeth, as she drifted toward the trio. The girl was gasping, her fingers entwined with Bel’s on the back of Lib’s head. “Your mood seems improved.” She said. To Belou and to Mei. She morphed then, a haze in the edge of Mei’s vision. Long hair in Bel’s color and Mei’s cut, with blue ringed eyes and a doll face. Mei’s soft chest and Belou’s manhood, curious creation draped in white.

“Damien has been delivered. I’m glad you came, Mei, Libertine. A great help.” She said, finding a place for herself among the pillows and kissing Belou’s cheek before moving to run her fingers across Libertine’s ribs.

--

Azmila arrived at the docks a short while after Kou’s car, her drop off placing her a block away so that she sidled up to the briny sea wall as if from a contemplative walk. The breeze teased her hair, a nice picture for her round face, and she took a moment to stand and take in the grey view before wandering toward the building Kou had entered. “I will tell them I am investigating Vision on behalf of a Demon coven.” Az murmured.

Ivena was quiet, listening to Azmila’s voice cut the faint static on the line. She glanced at Akade. “You will need to play the victim in this, Az, or my brother will dislike what you’re implying. He will think of my safety before the usefulness of your Demon connections.” She said.

Azmila stretched. “I understand. My Demon coven fears the spread of Vision, that is why I am investigating.” She responded. “I will share with your brother what I know.” Ivena closed her eyes.

“I do not like lying to him, but it is the safest way.” She said, to herself more than Akade. She did not turn her mic back on.

Az placed herself near an independent information dealer with an itchy habit, reasonably in view of Kou and Ilya. “The police are coming soon, mister, I’d clear out if I were you.” She said to the dealer softly. The man frowned at her, unconvinced, but then her eyes were abyssal pits and her teeth were sharp and he thought she seemed very believable then. He collected his bag, hasty, and nodded at her several times.

“Thank you for the warning, Miss!” rushed, as he turned to bustle from the place. A quiet ruckus, but enough that the two men would surely have noticed her presence if they had not immediately recognized her blue bob. 

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Re: Guts. // Royal Blood
« Reply #21 on: February 25, 2017, 10:03:44 pm »
Akade thought it was a bit unfortunate for Ivena to be locked in so deeply with her brother. She had so much potential from what he was seing. It wasn't a solid sympathy, but it was a little like seeing a particularly wild body of water and its dam. Such things should be allowed freedom, to practice their power. Instead Ilya Vladenko was enjoying his sister's protection. Ah, and the lengths of it. Maybe he should have doubted her more for this motive - how convenient that she be let into their ranks with only an emotional bond as proof, that no body could really challenge - but Akade was convinced, for now.

Azmila was cold. She'd not offered him anything that would have made him think she was anything else. It was hard to argue the demon's logic, though. Ilya's affections were plain and public. It would take little reciprocation from Ivena to extract a lot of information. If Ilya saw this, would he be happy? All her work for his victory. His sister loved him back, very much. The blue girl let go of the implications once they were tossed into the air of the modest room, so that she could go on and give a mission to herself. It was a fair course, so Akade had no objections for her. Az wasn't likely to falter. If she was caught, then she could get out, especially if the adversaries were only humans with iron and gunpowder.

The earpiece in her palm and more quiet determination, then Azmila was gone. He lead the way for Ivena, and opened the door to a few tables, comfortable working chairs, and an assortment of computers, all of them in open ceramic cases. They didn't send doves for communication, anymore, but the enemy also had more than good shooters to intercept. He sat down to type in a location that had three screens flicker before they presented a fragmented picture of the reality as it played out in the docks. In front of the chair beside him, he placed headphones. It was better to listen that way, no speakers were clear enough, and they'd have to wear the mics, anyway. He waited for her to come sit with him.

Akade quickly wrote down Azmila's story on a document. Small details, but he didn't have an immortal mind. He had to make sure there was a record. "I suppose they know of her demonic part already." he said so himself. Or she could have been anything else looking for answers, instead. Better the lie ran next to the truth. Akade glanced at Ivena when the figures that were obviously Kou and Ilya turned at the little scene Azmila directed. Soon the two were in the same frame as their blue demon.

-

"What are you doing here? Where is my sestre?" Ilya demanded, shadows under speckled eyes. He was some of the stories they told about him, then. It was not a good thing to see his beloved's roommate be a demon and - if he'd heard right - talk about the police in the same day. There was an underlying threat in the harshness of the hisses that chased his questions. He'd be polite to Ivena's cohorts until he was blue in the face, but if he thought she was in danger he'd gladly burn them for being involved.

Kou had his hands in his pockets. He wasn't so worried. There was likely more to this than splitting rent with a sometimes monster, sometimes loli, but he doubted it had landed Ivena in lethal danger. At least not directly. "He means 'hello', and then all that stuff." he said and looked around. Alone, it seemed. He didn't know why he then looked up at a camera. It had all the answers a black lense in a gray box can give anyone. He put a black cigarette, not his favorite, in his lips and took out a lighter as he tilted his head, setting fire to his thinner features before looking back at the quietly livid Ilya, and the blue demon.

-

Unfair wasn't really an critique in Bel's house of chains and gags. Bel did not listen to her. He knew what she wanted, and he knew what she might like too. Libertine's arms held her closer. He kissed and breathed into the fabric of her clothing, where Bel had left his lips. It was always a certain thing that Lib would be along to play. Her knew her well, similar to Bel, and liked her tastes so much. Bel thought she was lovely, and with their hearts so close they could warm each other with the glow that was their magic, now, he felt at home. Some soft main course, only pecks, and then he had at her deeply, both men, with their tongues.

Lib was allowed to see their fourth companion when she arrived in her honest form. He smiled as he started to peel Mei's pants off. It shouldn't be such an unusual combination, all his playmates and his dearest girl alive. He didn't stay amazed for too long. Surprise sometimes borrows from enjoyment. "You too, Bel." he tried, but Bel held Mei's hand back, and put Lib's mouth to work without his voice, now without guarding denim between breath and Mei's sensitivity.

It was clear who should be doted on. Unfair, like she'd said. But it was to her advantage if Bel decided. He held the corner of his lips to the depth of Mei's mouth so the kiss could continue when he turned to Syren and held out the hand that had been on Libertine. The jackal didn't need that pressure, anymore. Bel pulled the other demon in and took her little greeting before she went on to taste the ink on Lib's body. Bel pulled at the shirt Lib had so recently acquired, and threw it before returning onto Mei's face.

They tangled soon. Lib liked Syren, and they played well now. When Bel realized he herded them so that the human male and the succubus could make a little show. Bel tended to Mei, always.

Lib felt lost in the secrets of Syren's full form. He'd seen so much of it, but it all felt more relevant through this pill. He was unusually cruel to her, and bit her several times. His gasps were a bit desperate, out of control. "He is wild today, for you." Bel whispered in Mei's ear when Lib twisted Syren around, locking her arms behind her, a cruel way he'd never danced with her before, and certainly never wearing that greedy face. Even when their games were the worst, he'd always have his grin. With her hands useless, Lib stroked her hair, scraped her scalp, until he could slide them over her forehead. His finger circled that eye dangerously before the nail tried to dig in between the orb and the socket, as though his length in her would keep her in place.

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Re: Guts. // Royal Blood
« Reply #22 on: February 28, 2017, 06:45:37 am »
Azmila was not poor at navigating human emotions, but she was generally too tired to do so. In the presence of a spark, some bubbling upset, her willingness to be personable leapt. Strange, in a way, but useful to the present. She turned to look at Ilya and widened her blue eyes to convey an appropriate level of surprise. “Why on earth would I bring Ivka with me to a place like this?” she asked the fair brother. Her small, plump lips puckered on some sour thought. “You wouldn’t, would you?” she asked. He did look a bit more dangerous here, away from the soft heat of his bathhouse. Kou, surprisingly, seemed willing to be an advocate though.

She smiled at him, small. “Hello to you both. I wasn’t expecting to see you so soon. Ivka rushed us off so hastily and all.” Az said, pushing a finger to dimple her chin. “Ivka doesn’t speak too much about your line of work, gentlemen, but she and the city itself give a reasonable picture.” Azmila admitted. “I understand why you might find it odd for me to be here.”

--

Ivena realized she was holding her breath and let it out slow. Her brother could be quick to judge when family was on the line. There was a great irony in Kou providing a safety in this exchange, but Ivena was willing to be grateful for it. Naively, she realized, she found herself hoping that this might bode well for his future existence in Strada’s game. The reality was that Ilya would suffer if he wore thin on Azmila’s nerves. Kou was help only for his friend, not himself, in this matter.

“My protection,” Ivena murmured into the mic. It was best to communicate sparingly. Every word was a possible alert to Ilya or Kou. The ear piece was made for subtlety, but that did not make it perfect. She glanced at Akade. He seemed calm. Az was not struggling either. Ivena ran her palms against her thighs. She would need to get used to this. It was apparent to her now that every previous job they’d given her had been little more than show. There was nothing to have truly prepared her for this, beyond working through her own internal turmoil. She had never heard Kou or Ilya’s voice from the other side.

--

Azmila coiled a strand of her hair around one finger. “I am a Demon though, so I’m safe enough.” She said, though it was apparent that Ilya’s initial concerns had dealt nothing on her behalf. “Truthfully, I’m here doing a bit of investigating before I pick up ingredients for dinner. Ivka doesn’t know, if you’d be so kind as not to concern her.” She said. “It’s safer for her that way and its just a trivial personal matter, for myself and a few friends.” Az said. It was a thought both men must have had more than once, conducting their own quiet business. “If it makes you feel better, I wasn’t up to anything bad. Certainly nothing as illicit as you two deal with regularly.” Az said with a breathy laugh. “I enjoy my arrangement with Ivka. I’m not of the mind to put it in danger.” Azmila said, and she sounded sincerer than Ivena would have suspected was possible, listening from the other side of town.

--

Ivena checked that the mic was off. “Azmila doesn’t regularly do this sort of work, does she? She’s very calm though. I suppose Demons have stronger nerves than most humans.” Ivena suggested. It was, in part, an attempt at small talk when she knew they could do very little to help Azmila navigate this conversation. Beyond that, she supposed she was looking to place her own inexperience in appropriate context. Her expression said she intended to take note, regardless of his response, not offense. It was admirable in its own way.

--

Syren mewled, shivering beneath the aggression of Libertine’s teeth. He was in a new sort of mood today, and the Succubus was eager to participate. She was happy to play the victim when it was wanted, and paid mind to throw conflicted glances in Bel and Mei’s direction. She was lovely, folding beneath Lib’s hands. Syren was always a favorite to watch in the pleasure house and it was a treat to watch their tattooed scoundrel play her music.

Mei’s breath was warm and quick on Belou’s jaw. “He does wild well,” she agreed, tasting the soft of his throat and the edge of his collarbone. She crawled onto Belou’s lap, kissing his cheeks and the bridge of his nose. “Have you been teaching him tricks, or is he always this good to watch?” she asked. She hadn’t been Lib’s observer in too long, she thought, sighing as she wrapped herself around her Demon haphazardly such that they tumbled together.

Syren was making delightful sounds, encouraged by Belou and Mei. Libertine was easily one of her favorite visitors and she was readily losing herself to the atmosphere of their tangle. The other pair was distracting too, teasing her appetite the way only Bel could. He and his human princess. They had made her reconsider her distance from her own parts, on occasion. Belou and Mei were an enviable essence of self-pleasure as they basked in the performance of the succubus and her devilish human lover. They could have perpetuated one another’s delight for some time if Syren did not cry out suddenly, noticing a moment too late that Lib was being overly attentive to her third eye.

He should not have been able to see it at all, when Syren had crafted such a pretty amalgam of his preferred partners to violate. The façade, which Mei had been watching, dissipated suddenly. Syren was left squirming in her natural hues, curving horns bobbing as she attempted to shake herself free of Libertine’s invasive fingertips.

Mei was quick to realize he’d not been fully relieved of Vision’s haze. “Lib! You’ll hurt her for real.” She chastised, holding fast to Belou. “And not in the good way.” Light tone, because she trusted him still.   

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Re: Guts. // Royal Blood
« Reply #23 on: February 28, 2017, 07:39:54 pm »
Ilya’s tension, thrown out like a net on Azmila, hitched a little when she made a point that he could fullheartedly agree with. It wasn’t that he’d never take Ivena here, but he’d make sure she was essentially untouchable if things went sour. The line of work he was in was inclined to become tart at any moment, after all. He wouldn’t admit with his expression that no, no he probably would not have brought her for this investigation. He stepped closer to Az. They were having a conversation now.

Kou was willing enough to continue his light take on her presence and shrugged when she hinted at their choice of business. Tzeng owned this city. It wasn’t out of place that she know a little more about them than she let on. He blew smoke and lifted the side of one lip. “Odd, but not unpleasant. At least, I didn’t say that.” He gave. Sometimes a mangy wolf doesn’t attack head on, and Kou was mangier these days than he was used to. Despite his boorish ways, the Tzeng son knew the value of facades. Ivena that saw and heard them, would recognize the false lilt to his applied charm from the bathhouse. It could be to see the other side of Azmila’s skirt, or something further nefarious.
 
Ilya was comforted by the concept of dinner. The thought clouded his mind and brought Azmila closer. He’d been looking forward to eating with Ivena today, but the bathhouse and Bor had changed that. “If you find anything about demons here, you can tell us.” Of course, he was secretly hoping the information would find him through Ivena. “And if I have anything I can share with you, I’ll share too.” This much rope was allowed. He was still doing his job. If Az was from a coven and they were spreading to this city, he’d better be in the know. Demons weren’t that uncommon, nor was their migration, but some of them had volatile sins, or volatile ways of practicing them.

“That’s a cute image, arrangement, you and Ivena.” Kou injected, picking up another cigarette and playing with it between his fingers. “Pillows, dinner, female companionship.” He continued. If he was being belligerent and sordid, he was being unusually focused about it, since those kind of comments were usually for the benefit of Ilya’s anger. Now he was directed at Az. It was thinly veiled as inappropriate teasing to establish playfulness between them. Ilya didn’t recognize it as a similar manner Kou would use for men accused of stealing from the syndicate. Those men were usually tied to chairs and eager to please and profess their loyalty.

“Fuck’s sake, Kou.” Ilya said under his breath, reflexively lifting his backhand to half its needed height to strike him. “She’s a friend, it seems.” Ilya was forced to see the logic in her story. “Demons manage demons.” Somewhere in his heart he was doing it to help Ivena’s friend, and somewhere deeper it was a plot to have a bigger place in her new life.

Kou winked at Ilya and held up the cigarette as though it was the finest gift there was. “Do you smoke, Az?” he asked and would directly light it on his own moving ember if she did. The kind of demon she was, her lungs wouldn’t fare ill, but maybe that would take the joy out of it, also. Ilya was much less suspicious now, reeling over Kou’s shamelessness. “I shouldn’t, but I always will, I think.” Kou continued. “When they burry me I’ll be ashes anyway, I figure.” One of Ilya’s eyes shrunk. It was more of drunken, stargazing Kou he saw, now. “All these illicit dealings you speak of will be the same as the ends of my cigarettes, then.”

“I won’t worry Ivena unless it’s necessary.” Ilya put in. “But will you come for dinner too, sometime?” he offered, threading himself closer to his sister. “Bor is a poor cohost, I should have known, so there is a debt of hospitality. You will let me right it? We can talk of whatever business you had here.” Predictable Ilya. The scent of his sestre and he was useless. “Quietly, if you don’t want Ivena to know.”

“We like meetings. You don’t seem out of place here. Maybe you would like to see where we are going next? It’s on the way to a butcher. Ivena is spoiled with good cuts. She’d probably appreciate it.” Kou continued. Ilya hissed a few childhood cusses and flicked the cigarette from Kou’s mouth with annoyance. The place they were going wasn’t for little girls, not for groceries. Ilya was not thinking of Az as a demon, now. “It’s for your arrangement with Ivena, Azmila, so as to endanger it as little as possible.” A beard of smoke.

-
 
It was a bit reassuring to Akade to see Ivena a bit frazzled. The energy this put into the room was enjoyable, and he tried not to soak in it. The scar on his lip lifted slightly. “Azmila doesn’t scare.” He admitted. “But that has its downfalls too.” You had to pick your demons carefully. They were only loyal to their sins. He guessed it was close to a farmer interacting with cattle when Azmila looked at you. He’d not intended to say any more, but her eyes were on him in a way that prompted him. “But we’re all goal oriented.” He added. “It is easier to do something if you justify it with your reward.” A bit of his own philosophy, which sounded a bit more like instant gratification than was his real position. “Mine is loyalty.” It was personal, but it was also important that she knew. He’d not be available to her in any other way than to build Strada.

“And yours looks like loyalty too.” He said, inviting her to tell him, if she would. He knew it wasn’t the same. He’d grown up in a well-funded program inside Strada. He’d been taught rules and he’d seen real generosity from his organization. They never betrayed him because he’d die for them. Ivena, if she was honest about her motive, did not have rules to rely on for her actions, and Ilya did not expect anything from her. She was driven by herself in protecting her brother and his arm of Tzeng. “Which is why you also have your downfalls to us.”

-

Bel noticed there was a different note in Lib’s games, but the demon was always open to that. If he was being honest, he was quite occupied with having his heart back, close. With their bond, reuniting was inevitable, but it would always feel as lovely. Bel even closed his eyes to answer her, as he drank in her affection. “Oh, he’s creative. Good at following his own whims.” He said. It didn’t mean much, but they were in the heat of it now, building. No need for real sense. “Sometimes Syren wears smudges of his tattoos, as though they’ve bled onto her like a wet painting.” He gossiped. Yes. Syren and Lib had a good friendship.

Lib was part himself, tending to the manhood Syren wore, but also part of the creature Vision made him into. It was difficult to fight it, with both Belou and his partner succubus throwing their magic into the air. So he was thrusting furiously, and fondling with one hand, while the other also did what it wanted, ordered by impulses that were as insistent as his primal, native ones. Through a fired lining his pupils he couldn’t see anything but pleasure’s play, so his finger passed her forehead and petting the additional eye sought entrance into her. It was a bad thing that he was so skilled with his digits then, turning the palm and cocking the wrist just right to push in between the orb of her magical window, and the round bone it was set in.

Bel, who’d been alarmed by Syren’s real distress and quickened by Mei’s words, stood and hurried to grab Libertine’s arm, pulling it back deftly before the finger could hook to collect Syren’s sacred globe. Lib still wore an engaged smile, and didn’t think too much on having hurt the trust that existed between himself and Syren, and instead put his hand over Bel’s chest, where Mei’s mark was pulsating. Bel shoved Libertine back, rudely breaking the embrace’s he shared with Syren. Lib Seemed all too amused still, haunted by Vision, when Bel held him down, and again massaged the mark on his chest, other hand mischievously grabbing at Bel’s length.

Bel wanted to point out what was happening, and shake Lib until he woke, but immediately gasped and arched into Lib’s attention. This was his preferred indulgence, after all, and there was no immediate danger.

“Can you feel it too, Mei?” Lib asked, where he lie, two fingers pushing between the markings and petting Bel’s heart as though it was another erogenous secret. “Aren’t we all having a good time?” he asked as he started moving under Bel to lance him, and to his usual demise, Bel found himself helping.

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Re: Guts. // Royal Blood
« Reply #24 on: February 28, 2017, 10:46:25 pm »
Ivena was grateful that Akade had not left her speaking to the silence. She wouldn’t have known what to say next if he’d left her holding the stage. She nodded. “Loyalty,” she repeated, and she found that it was an empathetic fissure between them. He seemed like a good man for Strada, which made her think he had a personality Ilya would have liked for his own gun cult. She, who had been raised to value what Ilya valued, was equally pristine in her allegiance. It put them at odds in the future, it seemed certain, but bound them close for the moment. She chose to appreciate that while it was relevant. Considering its possible turns would do nothing to help her settle into this role.

“I am relying on Strada’s benevolence, I realize.” She said with a tone that said the irony wasn’t lost on her. “I would sell my soul if it would preserve my brother. He is my only heart, so yes, you could call it loyalty.” She agreed. There was some untruth in it, because there were others with fingerprints on her affections, but it was clear that Ilya was in some strange and untouchable place. It was possible that further exploration would have revealed that to be unhealthy. “I would presume that you and yours have very little to worry about, understanding why I am here. If the war places Ilya’s best interest at odds, you can assume that my intentions will be predictable.” She told him. In school, it had been that untouchable soul that had greatly enhanced her allure. Curious, then, to find it weaponized now.

She frowned then, catching the curls of Kou’s tone. It would be inconvenient if he became surly with Azmila. The thought gave her pause and she touched her chest, as if in wonder at her own reflex.

--

“Oh,” Az said, as if this were not the anticipated outcome. “Well, I wasn’t looking for Demons, really.” She laughed lightly. “Though you’re correct, the friends I was referring to are like me.” She said. “They get scared easily, with quieter Sins. I’ve just been checking on things so they don’t have to worry.” She said. Wrath was a king in war. Sloth, perhaps, not so much. Her gaze slid toward Kou, who seemed not to have quite gotten past his irritating bathhouse habits. She was working, though, and disinclined to play too heavily into human pettiness. As delicious as it would be.

“Kou Wing, I am not cute.” She said very seriously, and it was very cute. “And Envy is not terribly cute on you either.” She added with a faint smile. “It is a lesser Sin, I think.” Az waved her hand dismissively then. “Ivka is a grown girl, she can choose very well what arrangements she likes. Pillows, dinner, female companionship as you say. I’m not here to threaten your masculinity or anything else, though I suppose I could if you might enjoy it.” She offered, suddenly a good deal more lively. “I hope that, if nothing else, you both respect Ivka’s judgement, at least.” She glanced at Ilya. “Well, I’m sure you do.” Another smile, sleepy again.

She shook her head at Kou’s offered cigarette. “I do not require external sources of smoke,” she explained, touching her throat lightly. A fiery beast all her own, she meant. “Yes,” she agreed when he went on. “Humans and their legacies are transient. We Demon’s remember you though. We’re not such bad friends, I think.” She shrugged and inclined her head. “Tzeng is on kindly terms with many of my kind, are you not?” she asked Kou. She would force whatever civility was necessary.

“Perhaps you are just not fond of me personally, then. That is fair, though not my preference. Did I offend by referring to your business?” She asked. Azmila did not care if Kou liked her, but Kou did seem to care if Ivena liked him. “I did not think that was offensive; Ivka has never referred to it in an offensive light.” She suggested. “We Demons, of course, have no real trouble with it either.” 

Azmila scratched her cheek and blinked at Ilya as if she didn’t wholly understand. “I did not find your Bor friend inhospitable, so you’re certainly in no debt.” She hesitated, because Ivena was surely listening. “However, I would be happy to attend a dinner with you and Ivka. She always seems very happy to go.” Saying it ought to make that brother happy.

Az gave Kou an appropriately curious look. “I suppose it would not be bad to accompany you, if it is for Ivka’s sake.” She agreed. That girl’s name was a mandate for peace between them one way or another. Kou could be irritable about it, but he oughtn’t disrespect the sentiment if he had any real care for the girl. Az thought she might be a bit offended if it wasn’t the case, and mostly because Ivena would still be cross if Azmila ate him.

--

“Kou seems different now,” Ivena commented. Since he’d woken up, or she had. She wasn’t sure. “Maybe it’s just me that is. Az is doing well, regardless. My brother will like her for being on Kou’s nerves, one way or another.” She smiled then, small but honest.

--

Syren looked a bit stunned, staring after Libertine as Belou fell into her place. Mei, too, wasn’t sure how to react and reached to pull Syren close to her. The Succubus closed her third lid and rubbed the round of bone. “It’s okay, I think,” Mei murmured, smiling and kissing Syren lightly, like it was supposed to be an apology on Lib’s behalf. Syren nodded and laughed, quick to recover.

“Of course. That darling of yours is always a bit out of control, one way or another, isn’t he?” she said. Mei shrugged.

“I wouldn’t be surprised.” Mei agreed. She sighed and brushed Syren’s bare thigh lightly. “You were wearing such an interesting face, but it might be wasted tonight.” She suggested. Syren nodded and followed when Mei picked herself out of the pillows to go to Libertine. She reached to press her palms against his cheeks, a firm demand for attention without disrupting his business with Belou. “Of course I feel it.” She said. “He and I can have you twice at once, you know.” She kissed him lightly. “So I don’t want you to do anything too stupid.” A small chastisement. “Syren?” she asked
and the Succubus had become a much more imposing version of herself, horns curling a bit higher and an Amazonian stature to pair.

Syren was quick to take her place behind Libertine and lock his wrists there, as if she meant to restrain him seriously. Mei continued to steal small tastes of his warm mouth, sighing with all the pleasure sparking through Belou though Lib hadn’t given her an inch of himself. She pushed her knees against Belou’s shoulders to help press him in place for the long-haired jackal; considerate when Syren was busy keeping his hands pulled away. The Succubus was apologetic, it seemed. “We are having a good time,” she assured him from over his shoulder, as if Lib needed any assurance at all, and let her teeth return the favors he’d left on her own skin.

Mei kissed him a little harder. “Don’t get too lost in your fun. I’ll take them away from you.” She was smiling though and panting, heat coiling between her legs along with Bel’s own responses. “Just until your little trip has passed.”

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Re: Guts. // Royal Blood
« Reply #25 on: March 01, 2017, 08:34:03 pm »
When interrogating betrayers, Kou had a habit of indulging himself in whatever lie they’d wrapped their deceit in. It was a delicate game with his time and theirs. He found himself in that now, even though he wasn’t sure there was anything wrong with Azmila being here. Certainly her story was solid, as far he knew. He liked Envy. It was a perfect ingredient, sometimes. Mei especially wore it well. “But I am of lesser sins, Az.” He explained to her. “Heck. I’m human. I’m lesser all together.” Perhaps this slight distrust was simply a product of Ilay’s willingness to go along with a demon conducting her investigations in the middle of their trade way. Ilya coughed quietly about Kou’s masculinity, and on any other day that would have been a fight between them. Kou stayed calm. “And my masculinity was somewhat threatened already. A pole made my body it’s bitch and sent me sleeping for a while.” His almost smile couldn’t have been anything but asinine. She forced him to agree about Ivena making her own choices. Ilya was eager to.

The cigarette went back into his pocket. The notion of immortality in a demon’s memory spoke to him. He had his father’s vices. In a grander scope, it could have been lovely to flare so bright that fallen angels remembered your light. Pride. He thought of Trace and the girl she’d been. Had she been better off without the pride they’d infused her with? Another universe, another time. “Yeah. We’re buddies with a lot of demons. My sister too. Maybe we have common friends?” he tried. It would be an easy source to check, if there were names.

Ilya now tried to step in front of his business partner and friend. To Ilya, Kou was being exceptionally strange. It was as Ivena had said in Azmila’s ear. The Vladenko brother was not hard to control. “You don’t offend. Kou is just being his psychotic self. Can you imagine some find it endearing?” he asked and was then eager to nod to confirm that Az would be coming for dinner, one day. He was also agreeing to Ivena’s willingness to go, that Az mentioned, as though his acknowledgement would make it so to his doubting heart. “But, I assure you,” he continued. “Ivena won’t be upset if you don’t follow us.” For Kou’s invitation. “We will drop you with a car at a good store.” He said and was about to wear the kind of air that finalized a decision when Kou patted his shoulder, and then held it firm enough to move him out of the way, slightly.

“But you know Ivena. So subtle. How will you know she’s not upset? Just come. I’m curious about your internal sources of smoke.” He killed his own, burnt down provider with a swift drop and expert drag of his shoe. He didn’t touch her, didn’t put his hand on her back, but he intended to hook her with the momentum of his turn around her shoulder. “You know, sometimes our associates are angry.” When I pummel them and talk about their families in past tense. “Wouldn’t that be fun for you?”

Ilya was visibly annoyed, and not in the direct way any of Kou’s shenanigans would usually elicit. He was bothered. Kou was being a problem the way a friend’s autonomy can be a problem. He would follow if Az did, and he already said she would. With a lot of passive aggressive Ilya would make sure he sat between the two in the car. In all truth, a demon, and one of wrath at that, should have very little trouble stomaching the meeting they were going to. A simple matter of a weapon cousin having said too much to the police. Ilya did not know quite how Kou had found out, but he’d been explicitly intuitive in matters of law enforcement lately. Even before his untimely long sleep. Ilya’s distress was based almost entirely on not wanting the girl who was Ivean’s friend in a place where he might have to draw blood or worse. If Kou was sympathetic toward the sentiment he’d not shown any sign of it.

The svelte Russian wall between them would not stop the chatty Tzeng son. “About the smoke.” He pushed, and it would seem it was less for his hopes of endearing himself to Azmila, and increasingly about how she would react.

“Nobody smokes in my car but me.” Ilay said, accent heavy. “New rule.”

Kou wondered if he realized the implications of this, and then looked at the girl that was not a girl at all, to see if she’d oblige the meaning lift of his eyebrows and the nod toward Ilya. No matter Kou’s mission, he’d always take time to mess with his fleck-eyed brother. Either way, when Ilya caught on to Kou’s intentions, he’d be hilariously affected.

-

Ivena gave a haunting display. She wouldn’t know, of course - the faces he had worn, and how collected he could be when dotted in a galaxy of other’s life  – but he was more drawn into her than he’d expected. Ivena was with Ilya completely, lying to him to keep him, and the soldier saw her like that sister now. He drew a finger through the scruff on his jaw as he leaned back again, throwing a casual glance at the fragmented screen. “You’ve made it simple for us.” He admitted. “Your currency is plain.” Why wouldn’t Strada take advantage? “If you’re telling the truth.” It didn’t matter all too much, since she had not been trusted with details, not yet. “I suppose it could be self-serving too, if you’re inclined toward politics in our world. Some would rather believe that.” If the Vladenko group survived when Tzeng did not, that would benefit her, brother or not. It would be odd, though, having gone in under pretense of being an emotional sibling rather than a budding leader. The proposal would have made more sense to Strada. If she was playing a hidden game with them too, he couldn’t see the motive.

He focused on the screen as the loudmouth Wing continued on. Ivena was right. The feed they had covered enough of the docs to follow them back to the cars. “Why?” is Kou acting like this. They still had audio, so he started sifting through nearby traffic cameras for images, once the three left. If it were any other asset, Akade might have felt inclined to send anyone from Cerberus, but few things could kill a demon, let alone one of wrath. “He doesn’t strike me as overly intuitive. Do you think he’s suspecting something?” he asked as he settled on a few likely angles. It was a bit unfair, she didn't live inside Kou's head, but if she couldn't make qualified guesses, what good would she be?

“If you don’t mind me asking,” he started, because it had been on his mind, and the car ride was just that. “If Ilya had not been in this predicament without knowing it, and you weren’t in a position to help, what would you do?” He veiled it to himself as a way to know her better, so he could anticipate her better. The truth was probably just curiosity. There was no one like her in Strada. “It seems from what I’ve been given to read that you were set on a rather normal life, without violence. Isn’t that foolish?" He did not mean for his tone to be harsh, but she'd always be locked into this life. If she could somehow forget it, her brother would still have had to move mountains to keep his enemies away from her. The situation was only the reverse now because she knew things he didn't. And Akade also wondered if her hopes had really had been to exist away from the violence.

-

At first Libertine did not see or hear how saintly Syren was. With the things in his blood now, he most likely would have done worse if Bel hadn't leaped. But she carried on with her own craft, which was tied to his pleasure. Mei, also spoiling him, soothed Syren so that he did not have to. He was occupied with Bel, and Bel, who'd been a hero, was now a dragon, bein slain by this painted prince. Even when Mei came to speak with with Lib, and Lib stilled to listen, Belou carried on his own murder but appreciated Mei's knees for added haste.

"No stupid." he said and laughed in a silver way into her kisses. He leaned forward for more, had some, and then moaned into her mouth before tossing his head back, Bealou's hips urgent. With his face now up, he could look at the grander Syren and grin. He'd forgotten his slight. "Hello, friend." he said and placed his feet firmly on the floor. It made Belou giggle in despair.

"Ah, don't, Lib." he begged with all the false of a hungry lover. "Mei, help me!"

But Lib had no mercy for the blue demon when he raised his hips and made Belou arch and cry. Libertine's head came forward again, kissing Mei deeply as he painted Bel deeper. "So did you feel that?" he asked her, smug.

Belou, who was indulging in the feeling lifted himself as much as he had to so he could fall over to the side. For the theatrics of it, he quaked just a little upon dismount and then rolled to crawl and sit by Libertine. "You're a bastard." sweet voice, and then black lined the demon's eyes and his shoulders grew just a little. Lib's confidence halted and his eyelids flared when Bel held on to his soreness. Both demons were holding appendages now. He looked to Mei for help as Belou squeezed, and Belou looked at her for orders. "What should we do? He's out of tricks now." Bel said, amused.

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Re: Guts. // Royal Blood
« Reply #26 on: March 06, 2017, 07:16:48 pm »
Azmila shook her head. “I don’t keep the company of too many Demons, to begin with.” She told Kou. “Beyond that, I don’t keep company with the sort that would be useful or purposefully friendly to you.” She smiled vaguely. “There are a lot of very shy creatures that prefer someone like myself to go out into the wide world.” She paused and blinked at him, an expression like he’d forgotten the core principle behind her and the other Demons’ existence. “We were all Angels once, remember. There are some who aren’t so proud of the Sin that grips them. And others who are to languid to care,”

She pursed her lips and then held up a finger. “Well, now that I say that, I suppose you might know one I was familiar with. I met it before it came to this down and we had a good time of being problematic in a previous century or two.” She said. Az did not lie when she did not need to. “You call it Trace now, which was neither the Demon’s name nor the child’s.” Azmila said. “I could not tell you whether Trace would remember me or not, as I did not know it when it was Trace and the human psyche is tender with memories.” Az looked a bit regretful then. “It… rather, she, has found a deeply suitable life for herself in this new form though. Such measures of fulfillment are hard to come by for us.”

Az stayed near to Ilya, who was in a considerably more amenable mood. Ivena had this man wrapped so very tightly around her finger it made the Demon a bit sad. He had the potential to be a master of her Sin, pure and beautiful. She’d have offered him an organ if she thought he’d use the gift, even. Wrath did not have to be frantic and chaotic. Wrath could be cold, measured, and blossoming. Az sighed softly. It was good, though, that he was gripped so tightly by his sister. His trust might well have to be both her and Ivka’s sanctuary in the coming months. “I appreciate the offer,” Az told him but trailed along with them toward the car anyway. Kou’s comments seemed to confirm she’d be joining them whether she was overly inclined to or not, anyway.

She did take a moment to disagree with the darker haired man, though. “Ivka is not subtle at all.” Az said bluntly. “She is composed when it is for the benefit of those around her, but she is hardly subtle.” The Demon narrowed her eyes slightly. Kou Wing was a bastard and fool if he believed otherwise. Ivka had never been subtle about pining after him. He had played toward those feelings too. If he caught her stare he’d see those sentiments plainly enough. She was a sleepy calm again without much pause. “Maybe it is simply that all human emotions are deeply transparent to Demons.” Az giggled and looked at Ilya. “Kou does not fool me either.”

In the car, Azmila was willing enough to play along with Kou’s pestering. If he was hoping to bother her, and it seemed he fell somewhere within that spectrum, his efforts were severely lacking. She supposed he must know that on some level, himself, and she wondered if this was the typical male posturing humans were so fond of. It was bewildering to her that he’d feel the need, but she was not aware that Ivena had implied some inaccessible level of closeness between them. Her lips parted to oblige, thick curls of smoke licking outward and a smoldering pool of embers on her tongue, but she shut her mouth as quickly as she’d opened it. “Ah, well, if those are the rules.” She said, though she did smirk appreciatively at Kou’s redirected harassment.

“You are funny, Mr. Wing.” She said, and she did mean it genuinely then. “I can understand why Ivka would find it enjoyable to be around you both. Your interactions with one another are pleasing.” She said with an unusually bright smile. The men were quite close friends, after all, despite what either might have wished to imply with their squabbling. She tugged on her hair then, a darker tone clouding her blue eyes.

“Kou, Ilya, while I understand that I do not, perhaps, have your trust yet, or your friendship…” she glanced at Kou then, “I think perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad to ask for your help. At least, in the matter of why I was at the docks to begin with.” She said. “If it is not too presumptuous, may I ask you what you know of this new substance on the streets? People call it Vision and it is frightening my coven of Demon friends. I have been searching to alleviate their fears, but I have only found a little information.” She looked very troubled then. “If either of your groups is distributing it, perhaps you can quash some of the rumors I’ve heard. For me, I believe I can hold my own, but for some of the others, as I’ve mentioned…” she shrugged in a helpless manner.

--

Ivena rubbed her temples and would not looked Akade in the eye. She didn’t know why Kou would be acting that way. Not really. She had ideas, but they felt self-important and overly hopeful. The same way she’d felt self-important and overly hopeful every time she’d been around him.

She’d confessed to Kou when she was in her first year of High School and he was preparing to graduate. On the last day of school, before his graduation ceremony. She’d found him in the library and poured her heart out in a sweet and pitched voice. He’d been her first kiss then, and her last. Their relationship had been tinged with a peculiar sort of restrained longing since then. She’d spent no shortage of time blaming Ilya for standing between them, too. But slowly, she’d grown up a bit. There was something else, in her or in him, that would have prevented it. Ilya was an unfair victim of her bitterness. If Kou had wanted her the way she’d thought she wanted him, he’d have made it clear to her brother. Ilya would have been fuming and heartbroken, but he’d not have stood in the way of her happiness, Ivena thought. That might have been wrong, but she believed it anyway. 

But then there was her happiness. She wondered if Kou had understood it too, and her own heart had been their wall. Kou was a dream, not her happiness. She’d realized that watching him sleep in that hospital bed. She liked dreaming of him. But her family was her happiness. She’d have hated Kou if he’d gone to Ilya for her. “I don’t know. A selfish part of me thinks he is jealous of my apparent closeness with Az.” Her accent was thick; like her brother, it was an unavoidable tell of her emotional unrest. “For me, Kou is something like the one who got away and I sometimes think I am that to him also. But really, it would never have grown. Us, that is. Still, those fantasies are not rational.” She said, because Kou was clearly not badgering Az out of desire for rationality.

Ivena settled a bit heavier in her chair. “I think he is not suspicious, either way. Rather, I think he is probably wary as would be professional for him.” She said. “My brother would be also, were it not for my implied seal of approval.” Ivena added. She was smiling in a lonely way then, as if her brother’s malleable heart saddened her. She shrugged. “I do not know Kou as a man of his business, so I cannot speak for his intuitiveness. But he has no reason to believe Azmila is anything but my roommate.”

She’d been talkative until that point, offering what she could and speculating where it was helpful. Open in a way not common to most trained in this line of work, but it was not a bad thing. At least for now, it should have been good to see her willingness to participate. Eventually, curbing her honesty might be necessary, but it hurt no one here. At the very least, she was capable of keeping a secret. From her own family no less. When Akade veered toward her possible other futures, she did not seem so thrilled to share. “I do not know what I would do because it isn’t my reality. Just like I do not know how to speculate on Kou’s feelings or their connection to my own.” She looked stern, with herself more than him. “I suppose that is a point of fault for me, so far as Strada is concerned.” Her tone said he shouldn’t bother agreeing or otherwise; she’d overcome it and that was what mattered.

“I think I wanted to be outside of this world. Perhaps at any cost, I would have wanted that.” She said. It had never been simple for Ilya to keep her sheltered, despite his willingness to oblige her. It had never been possible to want a man like Kou without the violence. To say such a thing was deeply self-indulgent and she seemed to know it. “I don’t hate this life, but I don’t romanticize it either. I don’t know. I wanted things I was never prepared to have, perhaps.” This was always fate, she meant. Maybe not Strada, but something like this.

“Did you want to be here, with Strada? I think men like my brother and Kou don’t picture any other life. But I think they are not the norm, too.” She said.

--

Mei sighed, fake impatience, and shook her head. Lib could see it, even if it was meant for Bel, who could not. “Belou, I wouldn’t help you out of this if my soul depended on it,” she confessed, and took Lib’s lips when they came. She wailed against his mouth. Of course she’d felt it, the glowing ring in her eye and the crawling marks on her chest said. Belou’s traces over her heart were spinning like web, slithering across her collar bones and throat, teasing her shoulders. She let her head fall back. Painted like Libertine was, then. She and Bel, caught with that jackal’s affliction. Neither of that pair would have wanted rescue. Not really.

There was a small spark. The blue ring in Mei’s eye bled outward like licking fire until the dark corona had been purged with Bel’s sky. She seemed to freeze in the throes of Belou’s pleasure, blinking, and then laughed and continued. If Vision had not been chased fully from Libertine’s eyes, he would have seen the flare of something astral, like Bel’s horns curling up from beneath her fringe. There were many ways to draw out the depths of a Demon’s bond with their human. Trace had been tangled in hers by direction of a scalpel. Belou’s Sin warped around Mei; a more pleasurable experience, surely.

When Bel took the upper hand of their play, joining Syren in restraining the hired gun, Mei looked like one of them. Modern day Lilith, dancing with Demons in romances of flesh. She’d grown up, somewhere between the first time she and Lib met and now. “He’s a danger if he can get away, hopped up on his pills like that,” Mei suggested, which made Syren giggle. “Always causing trouble… you know, he got me in trouble with Trace earlier, too.” She remarked, like she’d minded at all.

“It’s best if he doesn’t walk out of here until morning. Rather, it’s best if he can’t.” She said. Syren, who’d readopted her imitation of Bel’s length, pressed closer, her hands still holding his wrist firmly. She smiled at him sweetly.

“The princess is paying; we’re obliged to agree.”   

Verse

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Re: Guts. // Royal Blood
« Reply #27 on: March 07, 2017, 02:01:01 pm »
Azmila was helpful enough with information on her kind. Kou thought that was to her credit. He'd dealt with demons that were impossible to invovle in the business. There had been a surveillance program once, to make sure they knew where and what the creatures were doing, but even Wei wasn't enthusiastic about a good turnout for that anymore. Mostly useless but benign members were put on that now, and weren't expected to come back with much in terms of results. Bel's fraction of succubae were a good exception, along with a few individuals working in the gambling dens.

The edges of his eyes sharpened at the mention of his father's additional daughter in terms of invested time. She was not entirely impossible, but he supposed getting a few murders out of her would prove simpler than having a giving conversation. Perhaps he could talk to Mei about it. Again, his eyes took on a grim sheen. "Trace is a good worker. It's a symbiosis we apprechiate. My father especially is a fan." he said. Kou always had a strenge relationship to that girl. He'd always thought she was adopted by some stretch of the term, but she needed and wanted very little from him, so there was no real reason to engage her. And the feeling was very mutual.

Ilya who'd not pressed to take her somewhere else with anything more than a Really drawn in one eyebrow, was very much inticed when Azmila thought aloud of Ivena. He'd always thought of his sister as a complete master of what she expressed, but thought Az' sureness had some validity. "I'm glad you two are close enough for you to see that." he settled, and then grinned at Kou. "What, this bull here?" he asked. "He couldn't be simpler if he was sleeping." he added, but his glee faded when her implications caught up to him. He wouldn't say more, though. Ilya was also invested in the comfort of believing his circumstantial brother and given sister were completely separate hearts.

Kou thought it might be worrisome that she saw through the loving and loathing notes of human interaction, but he guessed they were only animals to demons, the same way his group went to theirs for spare parts. He took a deep breath when she showed him the fire on her palled and the delicious tendrils of vapor rising. Ilya would spoil that fun. At her compliment to their usual spats, Ilya was able to contain his smile, but Kou shrugged as thought it was no big thing, his sudden nonchalance suggesting that it indeed was. Kou was aware of his clown ways, even when he had no intention of entertaining. He’d long since bought in to his own image of a well-dressed dapper, throwing boyish tantrums.

Ilya was clearly lulled into sympathy by her request. Again the ingredient Azmila had that completely swayed him gave her results. Ivena would not necessarily be endangered with Vision out on the street, causing whatever harm it could to those that took it, and Azmila was also a connection to his sister that he wanted to grow. Kou, who was holding the endeavor closer, bit his own teeth and looked out the window. He was opposed to sharing for the simple reason a toddler might harbor. “Azmila.” Ilya started and it was rich in his native tongue. “Kou is guessing there is a component of demons in the pill itself.” He said. They’d talked about it briefly on their way here and the obvious guess would be “bone powder, we think.” Ilya thought it was the kind of thing she and her friends would like to know. Surely it would be a clue in the right direction. “I guess your friends were right to be concerned. I am sorry if this is correct.”

Kou looked into his phone, having decided to make his peace with Ilya’s loose mouth. The message was from Abad, and he was asking if there was a reason his daughter was seeking out some of the Tzeng establishments. Kou requested a list of the places and asked for leniency for upcoming slights during his drug investigation, assuming Abad might be pleased to have at least one substance cleaned off his streets. It was a juvenile sentiment.

The son of the syndicate became happier when they arrived into a dilapidated neighborhood close to the center of the city. Ilya owned the building under construction, but the waste of space and material was playing ground for any of the Tzeng groups. When they’d passed the bent fence and reached the entrance yet to be fitted with a door, Kou got out, merry. “I think I have a treat for, Azmila.” He said and went toward the hopeful steel and concrete project. Ilya sighed.

“It is going to be most unsavory. Kou is effective but a brute. Please don’t come in.” Ilya said as he reached over her to open her door. He made his way out on Kou’s side. “You won’t be missing any…”

“She’s a demon, Ilya. She was juggling severed heads long before she was bunking with your sasdre.” Kou called back. He was as familiar with demon kind, having been raised around them, as he was not with the Russian language. Ilya huffed, deeply frustrated. He wanted to believe Az was not like the demon’s he’d encountered. He needed it.

The room one floor up out of many had terrible acoustics, in that a voice could carry well in here. Most of it died before it reached the outside, though. It had not been an intentional architectural detail, Kou was sure, but it had been a main point for choosing this room out of those available. He had a new cigarette in when he approached the three bound. One of them was on the floor, gagged, and the other two had been afforded chairs. Plastic on the floor, but earlier, dark mishaps could been seen through the clear wrap. Mostly, the tarp was for easy tidying, later.

“This guy tipped off Strada of my schedule. A prelude to my stay at the hospital, as you know.” Kou said and pointed two fingers pinching his cigarette to the one on the floor. “He probably knows the most, but he’s kind of fucked, as far as I see it.” The black filter returned to his lips so he could squat down and look at him. The man was livid in his constraints. “He’s also unable to talk because of his wife’s sock.” He continued and leaned closer and took the vice out of his mouth again. “YOU DISAPPOINT ME, TAM!” he hollered, drowning the sweating, huffing face in smoke. He stood, clothes and hair still intact as he looked at the other two men. “These stooges usually help him with everything. Tam was kind of a big deal in on the street. Now, I was hoping these guys had lovers, because I’m so stand up, but turns out they’re stand up too, so their hands are tied with their children’s sweaters.” He turned back to Az and Ilya, if she’d come up, and shrugged again. “No virtue is left unpunished, right?” He took out a silver gun and a black knife with a red edge. Always fancy. If she’d come he would move to her.

“I’ve got great plans to see about Vision, Azmila.” He said and held up the weapons to her. “I was going be the conductor of this choir, raising the ceiling with their songs, but how about it, they’re all violent men that are quick to anger.” He waved the knife in his left hand. “They might know something about that disaster of a fuck farm that is distributing this crazy shit. It’ll be beneficial.” He nodded the gun now. “It’ll go a long way toward our trust and friendship, if you want it.”

Ilya shoved Kou back. “Let me do it…” he started but Kou shook his head, still staring at their little, blue guest.

-

Akade was kept completely in place as he watched her go over her inner self. He’d not expected this kind of transparence from her. It was mesmerizing to see. He supposed Azmila was right, that Ivena was an honest girl in the broader strokes. He also found himself wondering how Kou Wing Tzeng could possibly be worth this kind of sentiment. She did not seem like a girl who would throw her heart at any ruffian. It would be easy to apply jealousy to Kou, and sum up his sudden tone toward Az accordingly, as Iven theorized. Too easy, she continued. It was almost painful to suddenly  be invested in this woman’s expressions.

“Men like Kou have capricious moods.” Akade encouraged. Legacy leaders like the Tzeng boy were a special kind of psychological cesspool. They’d not fought for the thing men want the most, which is respect. Kou was also spoiled with riches and had mostly had things go his way by being a belligerent beast with only a few inspired moments afforded to him by his unique, pampered position. That was why he trusted his instincts, because he’d not had to explain himself to anyone but his father. The asinine character they were watching now could very well be a product of his upbringing. At this point, it should be a stretch for anyone to assume Az was placed in their midst to eventually thwart them, let alone someone as cerebral as the mangy wolf of the dynasty. “Perhaps like you, no one really knows what he’s thinking. Not even himself.”

He nodded along when she explained her other dreams, and struck them out, herself. Reasonable. But dreams, he figured, were subject to nuances. She said these things when she saw herself from above. When clad in a dream, consumed by it, the logic of it was worth as much as their deliberation of Kou’s seemingly intuitive game. He had inclined himself half way back into the support of his seat when she asked the question back at him. It was perhaps the most surprising thing about Ivena Vladenko so far.  He scratched himself again, and it was loud.

“I was taken as a child here. They were always frank about that. Strada is a family. It’s the world to me, and that isn’t as affectionate as it sounds.” He shrugged. “You know of the kind of bond in a biological family.” If she was pretending with her attachment to Ilya, then at least she would know well enough to see his point. “and I assume you can put your head in the head of a patriot, or a willing soldier. Love for country.” He continued. A few times he’d thought about this himself. “I am somewhere between all that. But my country is more intimate, I know it better than a soldier could. My country speaks to me directly. It’s not just, and it’s not particularly loving in return. But I don’t think it is as intimate as that of a biological family unit. Maybe a team likeness is more accurate. So that’s me, and all my purpose, I suppose.” He’d not go on like this with most of his colleagues. He found it was hard to stop with her. “Will you pursue any gentler life after…” he started, but Kou was conducting work rather close to their agenda, trying to involve Azmila.

A few buttons and a cut-through and grainy image was produced by a pin in Azmila’s shirt. He didn’t like this camera, it wasn’t always available, but it was all they had now. Akade frowned. “What are you up to, mr. Wing?” At this distance, in this tension, it might be dangerous to speak to Az, but he still whispered into the mic. “Careful, Azmila. He’s testing you.” He turned to Ivena. “Do you think there is a way to control him, or at least put him out of his pace in the future? I think that would be helpful.” He sounded annoyed, but it was not directed at her.

-

Lib was happy to eat Mei’s sounds and had reveled in the play, the details of her physical shape enhanced by whatever energy Bel provided her through their contract. It was enjoyable and very beautiful to the addled, green eyes. He was not such a big smirk when he was finally held down, restrained by the trio. He gave himself to this, also. “Hey, let me go.” He said, pulling at the arms. They had never heard his scolding voice and knew this was not it, either. “Hey, Mei, call off your cohorts.” He said and winked with the duality of hoping for her leniency, and hoping for the opposite.

Bel laughed softly and kissed Libertine on the cheek as he was gentler with his hot, solid flesh. “Fallen from grace, my painted menace?” he asked and bit into Libertine’s face carefully, hand bouncing mercifully in his lap, that thing that had hurt him and marked him with boiling signature before. “If it were up to me I’d just let you be, and make myself so little and taut you’d forget all about the world.” He mused. Then his forehead to Lib’s. “But the mistress has spoken.” Hand squeezing again and Libertine groaned.

“Syren.” Lib tried. He wanted all of them in on this. “How many nights have been just the two of us?” Not many, but not none. It would be sweeter if he sounded sincere. And what is more involving than history? “And that business with Trace. We joke. We play, it’s what we do. Let’s not be bad friends, here.” He said before Bel finally pushed his head to the floor, which perfectly elevated his hips. Lib flexed and drew at all the unimportant muscles, which of course wouldn’t alter his position. “Syren, my sweet favorite.” He said again, but there was laughter now.

Bel played with Libertine’s long tail, and started pulling the band off it to set the black swell free. “Syren. This coward won’t stop at anything to get away.” He said and slathered his fingers with his potent, demon tongue. With Lib like this, it was easy to pet him, moisten him, where Syren was aimed for. In itself, the aphrodisiac saliva was a mercy. “Go ahead and show him what we do to little villains here.”

VenomousEve

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Re: Guts. // Royal Blood
« Reply #28 on: March 10, 2017, 03:07:19 am »
Azmila wore the appropriate level of grim on her face when Ilya confirmed her supposed suspicions. They were right, somewhat, but not quite. Bones, indistinguishable from that of Demons, but not of the Demons. Vision was a thing of Angels, lured in as an affront to Lucifer herself. It was time to make humanity pick sides, after all. They, who’d benefitted so deeply from the sordid games of Demons, but played pious for their gods. As if Lucifer’s hands weren’t the dirtiest of all, sending gifts to Wei Tzeng in exchange for the prophets.

She wondered if Kou knew. It was possible he’d saved his sister once, with that accident of her eye. The prophets did not lead enviable lives. Ghosts upon which the prayers of man rested, currying favor with the Eternal City like fucking batteries. Really, it was debatable whether Mr. Tzeng would have stomached it, if he knew where the prophets went. Az shook her head, like she wasn’t willing to believe. “That is precisely what I was hoping not to hear. There were rumors that exorcists had found a new pot of gold, but I was hoping nothing so brutal was afoot.” She glanced at Kou. A cog in a machine, that one.

“Working relationships with you humans, or peaceful coexistence, has always been best for us. To be crass, we’re something like affective parasites. We feed on human sins but, for that very reason, it is in our interest to cohabit without too much ruckus. Parasites with lifespans like ours know better than to injure our hosts, I suppose.” She gave him a thin smile. “It is not my preference, working like your Demon associates do, but it is an exemplary relationship really.” She waved her hand broadly. “Things like this Vision… if you are correct, are quite hurtful. Frightening to those who would not defend themselves too.” A sigh, and she looked to Ilya. “I do appreciate you telling me though, despite the bad news. In exchange, perhaps the exorcists are a lead you might also find useful.”

 A dead end, of course, because Strada had paid for bones and teeth they’d not use. Returned them to the Demons who survived, even. A series of dummy companies and circuitous, false dealing networks that would take time to unravel. It was easy enough to suppose Az had been tricked too, if they ever reached the end of it.

There wasn’t much time to continue the discussion, as they seemed to have arrived at Kou’s destination. Az laughed softly when Ilya attempted to dissuade her from following and then looked a bit troubled when Kou drew light to an unavoidable history. Certainly, she’d done worse than anything here today. She had thrived on the losing side of many human wars, feeding into the wrath of desperate men. But then, the modern age and a more mature disposition had quelled those habits many years ago. Az supposed Rev would find that funny.

“If it is any consolation, I have never juggled heads.” She told Ilya.

--

Ivena was intrigued by Akade’s answers, because they were sentiments she’d never experienced herself. She had a fantastical heart in the end, as her present predicament was tragic evidence of, and she found herself thinking he might have been a very kind man in a different life. This was the sort of thing she had liked to apply to most of her acquaintances in the business. Whether it was to excuse her own path or comfort herself in the company of bladed people was difficult to discern. A faint smile. She was encouraged that he was sharing, regardless. In truth, she’d not had professional experience to teach her how to relate to a man like Akade. Had he been colder in response, she’d have worried unnecessarily for their working rapport. Perhaps a bit naively, it did not occur to her that this opposing situation did not necessarily say anything for his approval of her presence either.

She was about to formulate a reasonable answer to the question he began, but Kou was an abrupt and somewhat urgent distraction. A quick exhale when Akade said what was on both their minds. “Please remember that my brother is there. You must balance.” She added. It was an unfortunate spot to be in. Ivena glanced at Akade and swallowed hard. “These men may die, is that acceptable?” she asked, because she did not know if they were Strada’s informants or not. Her face paled after she spoke, realizing how terse that must have sounded. It was unlikely to phase Akade, but it was uncomfortable to herself.

She shook her head at his questions, which was not to deny him an answer so much as to express her distaste with the solution that came to mind. “I think he and my brother are, perhaps, more alike than either would be caught admitting.” She said. “Family first, and then syndicate loyalties. Perhaps lovers after that, but never if in conflict with the first two.” She said. “At least, I think so.” She recalled Mei’s kidnapping and hugged her arms. She felt responsible for that still, though she’d had no real involvement. It had also been an excellent move on Strada’s behalf, if executed poorly. She blinked.

“Mrs. Tzeng, maybe.” She suggested. A cruel proposal, but Mei had complained to her of Kou’s fascination with that woman often enough. It was likely a reasonable avenue. “Az should not be involved too deeply. She should leave as soon as possible, I think. She’s offered them the exorcists and made herself a potential pool of information.”

--

Az had come to the same conclusion even though she’d not heard Ivena’s thoughts on the matter. “Ah, you and your men would be delightful fuel, I admit,” she said to Kou. “But I am not a discriminant beast when I indulge in my downfall you know, that is why I am what I am.” She said as she politely refused the weapons he showed her. Azmila glanced at Ilya. “I will help your friend, as it might provide some information about Vision and I believe the sooner I am informed of the issue the sooner I can be done with it.” She paused for some emphasis. “I do not wish to risk involving Ivka in unnecessary company, so I should like to satisfy my friends. Even if it is unfortunate news.”

The little blue creature stared hard at Kou. “This is your man, but you wish a Demon on him. I trust you understand what you ask for.” She said. “I also trust you understand I have no desire to involve myself with Tzeng. I am a useful tool in only one manner, and it is exhausting.” She looked very small when she approached Tam, who was staring back at her warily. He seemed confused rather than frightened, which was best. She had not met this man personally, only heard his name. He’d been easy enough to pay off, from what she’d heard. Rev had requested the information, but the query had likely been brought to him by some used up pawn. Nobody with direct ties to Strada, just another easy buy.

She smiled at him sleepily and her shadow grew long across the ground, horns piercing upward from that silhouette. Tam started screaming when he saw something like a burning infinity in her eye, languid blue swallowed by deep and bottomless pits. Smoke curled from her lips as she brought her face close. She said nothing, but his eyes began to roll and his mouth began to froth. In his mind, he was consumed by fire. A voice of Hell clamored in his ears and drowned out the things he might say about Strada. She fed him lies that sounded like salvation to speak—anything to preserve him from the soulless depths of her stare. “I will eat you if you are not forthcoming,” she said out loud, her voice resonating in his chest. Her teeth looked convincing.

“Please be careful, Az, you mustn’t lose Ilya in this either. Kou will not be impressed by wanton violence when you’re uninvolved like this…” Ivka murmured into the mic, rushed. Azmilar reached a hand toward Tam’s face. It was dark and smoldering, ash floating from the great and reaching claws. She did not touch him. Superficially, it must look to the other two like recognizable posturing. She had played the same game with Bor.

“Tell us, why did you give up Mister Wing’s schedule?” she asked. Tam wailed behind the sock.

“M-money! I needed money!” he gasped when she plucked the wad from his mouth. Where her fingers brushed his lips, he was scalded. She inclined her head.

“For?” she asked.

“I won’t tell. I promised I wouldn’t tell and they’ll kill me if I do!” he howled, sputtering. Azmila licked her lips. He was frightened, but angry too, the way Kou had said. It was almost too tempting. If she spent the time frustrating him instead of frightening him, he might feed her for days.

“Perhaps Mister Wing will kill you if you don’t?” she asked, and glanced back at Kou with those large abyssal eyes. She was clearly waiting for him to come forward. Az knew well enough what Tam would say. The script had been branded into his mind. It was best if Kou pulled it from him, though, and she was not of the mind to make herself a killer in front of Ilya. It was as Ivka had said. She looked somewhat apologetically in the Russian brother’s direction then, a brief return to her lethargic blues. The Azmila of last century would not have had such composure.

“Kou, I will support you this once, as it seems to amuse you,” she said, her deep and twining voice rolling to fill the space. The air felt heavy. She gave him a dagger-toothed smile. “But I am not privy to your interrogations, nor your plans.” She gestured the large claw back toward the bound-up men. Your move, not mine.

If he asked, Tam would eventually confess to selling the schedule to a Strada fringe group. They’d not given names, seemingly acting without the blessing of the main head of the rival syndicate. The money had been for Vision, which he’d bought off a guy that had a chemist who was friends with an exorcist. He’d just wanted to help fix up the Tzeng group—these Demons were filth on their group’s name. With Vision to distribute himself, he could make others in the syndicate see that. In the end, most of it was true. Az had needed to feed very little into his story.

--

Syren moved, an aggressive lance with almost sterile precision. If she’d not been a Demon, she would have had to have been the most practiced whore to walk the earth. “Oh, Darling, don’t go telling lies like that.” Her laughter mingled with his as she withdrew to trace her course again. “Belou is everyone’s favorite.” She said. A common sentiment, it seemed, and even now she took him with Bel’s imitation. “He’s also my boss.” She said, and Belou had laid his verdict. Villain indeed. She smirked at Mei who was quivering in a fit of giggles, and then blinked in surprise and shot Bel a look Was he seeing his own Demonic features caress his human girl? His mark sprawling across her skin, his curving bones piercing her forehead. Syren pressed insistently with her hips, aggressive to keep up the pretext of punishment.

Mei had turned to occupy herself with Belou, unwilling to leave out her dear Incubus when every other member had found attention. Her hands were familiar, an eager and curious exploration with her grip. She’d always been like that, learning with him, and it was remarkably youthful when she already knew him well. “Bel, am I to believe you’ve missed Libertine more than me? I was quite certain you saw him just the other day. I swear I felt it.” She mewed, raking her teeth across his earlobe.

They would eventually collapse into a heap on the pillows, tangled like some strange and wonderful creature, and Mei and Lib would both be forced to confront their humanity. There was simply no way either of them would have been able to outlast their Demon company. In that aftermath, Syren would trace the spreading pulse of Belou’s signature on Mei’s skin and gaze curiously at the Incubus for an answer. “Your eye is blue,” she remarked, and it was. A curious and striking mismatch to Mei’s other dark now.

Mei would fiddle with her phone a bit. "Trace says I have to go in for day job work tomorrow. Money stuff." she muttered, casting Lib an accusatory glance and giving little thought to Syren's curiosity. She'd never questioned her bond with Bel or any of its effects. They were simply part of each other and always had been. If that exchange was greater now, she couldn't see why it would matter. "Let's hope that Kou doesn't get called in too, huh?" an annoyed laugh, but she didn't sound depressed. "If I have to deal with him, I'm blaming you, Lib." she said.

Verse

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Re: Guts. // Royal Blood
« Reply #29 on: March 10, 2017, 02:13:04 pm »
Ilya was mostly passive, if the gauntly shaped shadow with bird egg eyes could be such a thing. A nod for Azmila when she repaid him for the information he offered. He trusted her now, because he wasn’t thinking, and Kou’s games weren’t lacing their plots into his own family, whether it be his network of guns or his sister on her pedestal. Grave things were coming into focus with the pieces Az put into their frame, but it was work, wasn’t it? His empire connected to that of Kou’s father’s. His honor and ambitions, humming along to this opera in an unfinished hall with dried-up blood carpet. Worldly things. But quietly, as was opposed to his trademark of a crime direction based above all on love, he was starting to harbor something dark. Fingers lax, all of them but one, that was curled as though a member of a fist. He’d not noticed himself, but there was an aria of Az’s sin, if she’d hear it, and it was threading through the rest of the hymn that was the calm of Ilya Vladenko.

He huffed a quiet Typical when Kou insisted until Az agreed. The two boys, always loyal to each other, but eternally contradictory ways, were in disagreement here. A far buried dissonance, and it was dangerous because it was subtle, because there was no real cure, and they wouldn’t seek one out. Some of the greatest things find strength in their smallness. And so Ilya watched Az and Tam when she let him know in a way that was probably very muted that she was a demon. He wondered if she was a parasite, then. Are the great sea animals parasites when they drink the kelp? At least she wasn’t detaching these boy’s heads and tossing them, as she’d rejected.

Kou was not shaken when she wondered about his loyalty to this bound man. The Tzeng son did not have love for syndicate the way Ilya did for his group, but he respected the members. Until these kind of things were true. The slights of Kou’s life, though small, were always waiting, revolving and ready to be used. He could easily justify killing and maiming a man with his arsenal of minor grievances. And Tam had been a tattle tale for candy. Tam could be faulted for the same kind of sentiments as Ilya, but Tam had been foolish with it. He’d gone against the syndicate, and therefor Kou. And Tam was comparably insignificant. Something was unleashed, then, and allowed the prince to play freely. It didn’t help that Tam’s ambitions was based on a distrust toward the demons, whereas Kou’s latest moves had been all about them and their use. Even now.

“Much obliged, Azmila.” He said when she’d done her part to loosen Tam’s jaws. The Vietnamese had such annoying voice, Kou thought. He squatted down by the chrysalis that was Tam. Ilya sighed somewhere in the back. “I am too soft on you, Tam. I let you talk to a pretty lady before you die and I am even going to move your family out of here.” His arms came out where he sat, and it was the image of magnanimity, petitioning for divine audience. “All three of you don’t have to worry. I was just joking with the clothes.” He held the blade of the cutter and bounced the handle off Tam’s forehead. “Just tell me everything you know. You’re not going to live but you can send your wifey off with some cash, right?” other hand with the fancy gun pointed to the other two on the chairs. “Lead with good example.” He encouraged.

If Az could sample the sins of other demons there was a little malsound of a few coming from Kou then. Tam only barely started mentioning what he knew before he was gargling at the lethal horn he grew from the serrated steel. In the same breath, Kou shot through the other two without looking. Soft parts exploded from the one bullet and he didn’t take care to let them pass quickly after that, even though it was a hasty ordeal, anyway. There was a profound deficit of respect in the dual hand dealing of death. Those men that may, did die, and it was acceptable to Mr. Wing. Perhaps they were seeing reverberations of whatever was poisoning his mood.

“So sorry to trouble you for that, Azmila. I thought it could be bonding.” Kou said and placed the gun back into his fine jacket as he stood. He flicked his tongue at the meeting of his index finger and thumb, where the gunpowder had sprayed. Hair had snuck down from its tie and stuck across his cheek all the way to sleep on his lip. He didn’t correct it. “But I guess we’re friends now?” he asked himself as he walked passed Ilya, making sure their shoulders met on the way. Ilya snarled and waved that arm after him.

“You’re in a fucking mood today, Kou.” He bit out before he sighed and came to Az. “I think I apologize for him too much. Really, he’s just an asshole.”

“I think there’s a lesson somewhere in there, Ilya, about apologizing for me.” Kou said and then looked back at the men that had delivered the three late traitors. He didn’t stop walking. “Do what I said. Move their families and give them a bunch of money. I don’t know. Don’t be douches about it.”

Ilya shook his head, but it wasn’t at Kou’s methods, just the fact that Az had to see them. “I have a car for you, as I promised.” He said and stayed by her side, as though this kind of room would frighten her. It was hard for Ilya to let go of whatever air of Ivena he’d applied to the blue demon. “Not all our dealings are this roughly cut.” He promised and wouldn’t move even if Kou continued on his way. Maybe he wanted to be rid of the storm cloud his friend was becoming.

Kou, and all the confidence that quakes your arms when they’ve delivered souls from their bone cages in flesh sheds, was shaken in his turbulence when Teddy came in with a fast stride. The whisper was “There is something going on with one of the prayer pits. The gluttony prayers are… they’re eating.” But Teddy knew to be quiet about it. Kou turned, a broad smile on him now, a bit of the former boy, who’d make a joke of the weight on his shoulders.

“Ah. So much work already. Seems I have to run. Give Ivena my best.”

And he didn’t wait for a send-off.

-

Ivena continued to be helpful as ever. He was looking for hesitation in her directing Azmila, but she was fluent in bettering the situation in any way she could. Azmila was also seamless in following. The two of them could be quite an effective pair, Akade thought. It was good to hear her voice falter when she asked about the men’s life. Akade had nodded. He wished she could have given him more on the two men, but at least she kept up her transparency. Even though she was their precious voice from inside of the enemy, there were limits to what her angle could provide.

He gave a small smile of satisfaction when Suri was thrown into the choices of leashes for Kou. She was an alternative. Even Strada’s dog knew this much. If he was up to things, Reverend had a meeting with her recently. Suri’s arrangement with them was more traditional, which made it easier to negotiate with her. “I will see what she can do.”

Akade watched Kou thwart his own investigation a bit, and leave some of the leads he could have derived to only be reached at the end of some valid but unconfirmed guesswork. It was no surprise Kou would act like this, but Akade still found himself looking at Ivena in a small way, to see how she would be affected. Maybe this would make it easier for her to use the Tzeng son as fuel on the syndicate’s fire that would spark the flight of Ilya’s fraction. Cruelty, sometimes, is best spelled out to ginger eyes with shards of cranium and a pointed disregard for life and the peace in lasts moments.

“Perhaps he’ll just consume himself at this point.” But he didn’t say it in a hopeful way. There was no telling what recklessness with nothing to aim it at might do to their plans. Usually the blueprints of taking over something else were drawn with the opponent’s self-preservation in mind. Mei was not in their custody because of their rouge arm, but also because of how this syndicate lashed out when provoked.

“It would be good to keep us updated on him.” he said, and it was quite clear it was not a suggestion. “The more we know, the better. Personally I think he at least looks loud at this point, so seeing him coming might not be a feat, but I suspect he’ll do some damage before he’s done.” They should have killed him in his sickbed. A wounded animal’s mind with a well animal’s resources. It was just hubris from their side that he was walking around again.

-

Bel was glad for her attention, and leaned his ear into her teeth before he helped gather them all in a knot. Libertine had dropped the pretenses of fighting, on to the rest of the game now, with Syren playing him so insistently. If it is the way the dogs do, then it is the same for a jackal. He had time for sweet revenge when the group trusted him again. In the end, they quite actually fucked the Vision out of him, and he was free to partake in the carnal as he wanted. They all trusted Bel when he supported bodily initiatives.

And then, splayed, Libertine favored the back of Syren’s thighs, close to her delights, as she examined Mei. Bel shook his head at her soundless query. It was not a warning or unkind, but it was better told when perhaps Mei was not here. He’d not felt it any different, but it seemed they were melding deeper. Not only his eyes, but their hearts now. It created a bridge that was also strengthened by their real affection for each other. He’d loved his sin in Mei, the way she’d put it into the world, but he’d come to care for her as well. Best he could figure was that communing like this ushered more of his magic to her, which let her sprout in this way. It was what he could share in return, when she let him have all the vile and warmth there was for Kou. He was more a demon than he was a heart, and so Mei would inherit. Perhaps, from now on, when they were together, she’d be more and more of the demon she could be.

“I’m sure you’ll be fair.” Libertine answered and rolled onto the back of his head, on the back of Syren’s knees. He held Agatha up, the part of her that was scribbled on his backhand and then let that hand drop to the pillows. “Or you can hire me to be your brotherguard.” He said. It was only half a joke, because he was sure she wouldn’t want to handle the resurrected sibling on her own. In so many ways Lib could provide an escape.

“I can invite him here, if you want? If the bull sleeps for the winter, he’s not milked for the winter.” Bel said and shook his cylindrical hand with a lewd suggestion. He was well aware of Mei’s passed possessiveness, even if she’d not minded Kou’s bed-mates that much unless they stuck with him. “I’ll make sure I’m his only caretaker, even. At least then he’ll be out of your pretty hair.” He said and flipped one black strand. Lib stirred a little.

“Oh? For free? Then Maybe I should come along here and make sure he’s not having too much fun?” he said and laughed to himself. Clearly he was just thinking of the entertainment available if Kou was getting such treatment. Already the jackal was crawling away from them, obviously not as sore as they intended or he’d pretended, to rummage through his pants for more pills.

-

Amaryllis was a beautiful girl six months ago. Her predicament had not been that different from Diluna's, but there'd been no Ilya to save her. A father in debt, severely, and a mother, from whom her beauty hailed, involved intimately with one of Tzeng's mainstay powders, Beam. Mother sign for father, and the reverse was also true, and Amaryllis couldn't go to dance with Ivena or to history with Mei, anymore.

Amaryllis was humming a quiet chant, injected with Gluttony's liquid, Take, and was gnawing on mother's bones. Mother, who was of Bel's sin now, had her own hands in all the forbidden places. And father was likes Trace, rhythmically praying to himself, a few rooms away. They were morsels gathered in a hole among others who'd been swallowed by the shadow of the syndicate. Cells that weren't really cells. Amaryllis and all her mates had eaten the door and found the others.