digging dreams out of the fire

Description: TAG: viviana/aster

Ziauddin Shirazi

    Sapphire to Broken Gray
  • Warlord Prince
  • Played By: Fal

    Heartbound to Queen Sofia
    Shalador Terreille
    15 Posts    0 marks
digging dreams out of the fire
« on: April 29, 2019, 09:03:00 PM »
It would not be the first time Ziauddin had to replace the hinges on Viviana's front door, nor would it be the last.


Darkness knew the Black Widow had set up enough traps and perimeter alarms with her Birthright to make the use of her Gray ghoulish overkill - especially when she'd have far more fun with the fuckers who dared enter her home uninvited, after they gave her a reason to pick them apart, piece by piece.

There was, too, the fact that Viviana indulged her best friend's near every predilection, and that this might as well include the satisfaction he got from breaking down her door in a whimsical fit of melodrama. That was to say nothing of the fact that fixing her door afterwards would give him something to do with his hands other than flail them in gesture while he rambled about the news that brought him to her in such a mania.

But the real truth - the whole truth, and nothing but - was that Prince Ziauddin fucking hated that door, and it simply had to go.

With the strength of his Sapphire pulsing from toe to heel, Zia sent the wood and metal folding and splintering with one sharp stretch of his leg.

"Is the lady of the house available?" The elevation of his voice, projected to be certain Viviana would hear, smothered some of its shakiness, the pleased grin on his face crinkling the lines of stress around his eyes into laugh wrinkles.

(He'd reached out to Viviana a few moments before to make sure she'd be home when he arrived, of course. No use in wasted theatrics, and never a good idea to actually surprise the Black Widow, unless you preferred to be dead.

Hm.

Zia banked that idea for later.)

One slender-fingered hand flicked outwards and upwards as Ziauddin divided his attentions between scanning the vicinity for his Dhemlanese comrade and using his mind to push the door's remnants out of the line of fire of his feet. As an afterthought, he tossed up something of a shield in the doorway. It wouldn't do to have someone else interrupt.

Swift and automatic, his steps took him around the corner, to where a cabinet sat in a simple sitting room. There, as predicted, the Hayllian's glinting eyes found a bottle of the swill Viviana kept in stock. Thumbing the cork out of the neck, Ziauddin poured himself two fingers' worth into a slightly dusty glass. Then he poured a little more.

(Was noon too early for so stiff a drink? It did not occur to the Warlord Prince to care).

After a large gulp and thick hiss between his teeth, Ziauddin collapsed onto the nearest loveseat, kicked off one of his shoes, then the other, took another generous swig of his drink, and waited.

Viviana Mori

    Green to Gray
  • Black Widow
  • Played By: Aster

    Coven Member
    Shalador Terreille
    14 Posts    26 marks
Re: digging dreams out of the fire
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2019, 11:38:16 AM »

Though Viviana Mori usually carried with her what she needed, each of her various residences had a small closet-like room she kept Gray-locked - a small space to store the supplies of her Craft, as well as to practice it. Her private cabin, the home she shared only with the most trusted in her life, had the largest of these such rooms and it was here she retreated when she needed to sink into to Twisted Kingdom.

Seated on the floor of her workshop, legs folded and tucked beneath herself, Viviana had cast the spells that allowed her to reach so far into herself and madness. In a tight circle around her body, the Black Widow had traced the shapes in her blood that would sing to the dead (and the not-so-dead) in the Twisted Kingdom; inside that, the charmed bones that would protect her body from any of the more violent dead. Dangling against her bare torso, the blood-smeared Gray jewel pulsed.

Usually, Viviana left such practices to her cousin; of course, she was fully-trained and capable of communing with the dead. As a long-lived woman raised almost exclusively by the short-lived Shaladorians, she had made sure of it. Still, her own skills were - well, frankly, those that tended to make people mistrust her Sisters. Which, truth be told, was why she was sinking into the Twisted Kingdom, into the shifting ground and nauseating landscape of madness.

*Where are you hiding from me?*

She left the soft croon ripple through the air, knowing that he was here somewhere; blood sang to blood, and even after all these years she had enough of his left to hone in on his whereabouts. Viviana set out in the proper direction, deliberate steps sinking into sand and scattering small stones as she walked. It was the whimpering that caught her attention first, and as she rounded an outcropping of soft rock, she found the man she had sought. All things considered, he was holding up well for a man who'd been trapped here for over a hundred years. On the other hand, she had left him some small wedges of sanity on her many visits - after all, the point was to leave him here to suffer for as long as she could, to extract the rest of the debt he owed.

"There you are," her voice was soft, but cold and indifferent, as she crouched beside him. She never used his name - not out loud, or to himself - and it had given her such pleasure to take it from him. The man curled tighter into a ball, whimpering more loudly. "Are you still enjoying your stay here? All you have to do is tell me who sent you, and I can make all of this end."

Viviana wasn't sure he could tell her; whoever it was had managed to block the memory from her repeated invasions of the man's mind to rip that information out herself. She didn't think Witch herself had ordered the hit on Ziauddin, though she wouldn't be surprised to learn that at this point. A Gray-Jeweled Warlord Prince could be quite the pain in the ass even to people he loved, let alone to those he didn't.

She reached out to touch the man's shoulder, let him scream in agony as she rolled him onto his back. It wasn't a physical pain, of course, none of this was.

It was, she realized, pointless to keep coming here. The man would suffer for - oh, at least another fifty years - before his mind deteriorated enough to defeat the purpose and she released him to the Darkness. He'd never be able to give her what she wanted, though, and until she knew where the knife in the dark had come from, she'd never be easy.

Damn.

Frustrated, she stood and turned to make her way back to the place where she'd entered the Twisted Kingdom, careful to skirt the many natural traps that existed for the unwary. Viviana had walked these roads for nearly eight-hundred years, she wasn't interested in letting her guard down enough to trap herself here out of sheer stupidity. Taking the small hill that would crest just where she could step out of the landscape, Viviana was startled by a loud crack! She looked up in time to see large wooden splinters sail through the air of the Twisted Kingdom, high above, and then hurried her pace.

Ziauddin had arrived.

Coming back into herself, Viviana cursed herself for losing track of time; she had meant to be done with this before her friend had arrived. She wasn't sure if he knew she held his former lover in a hellish landscape, but she didn't like to throw it in his face, either. She groaned as she straightened her legs, knees and hips stiffly protesting the sudden change in position after so long locked in place. Groping for the spelled bones with one hand, her other came to rest against her dark trousers, pressing hard against the leg to slow the trickle of blood from the cut on her palm. Mother Night, he was going to complain about that, but at least it would give him something other than what she'd been doing to focus on.

Viviana slowly pushed to her feet, and sent a wordless acknowledgement to her friend, buying enough time to put the bones back in their box, wipe the blood off her Jewel, and slide into the sheer black shirt she'd discarded for the ritual. She cradled the cut hand against her chest while she unlocked the door that opened onto her small hallway, and then closed it behind her.

She joined him in her sitting room moments later, calling in a small bag of healing supplies as she stepped into the room. "Someday, you're going to have to tell me what you have against my door."

(Probably he just liked the drama, and her bitching, though there was perhaps a deeper reason somewhere.)

Viviana dropped into the chair opposite the love seat and set the bag on her lap so that she could open it.


Ziauddin Shirazi

    Sapphire to Broken Gray
  • Warlord Prince
  • Played By: Fal

    Heartbound to Queen Sofia
    Shalador Terreille
    15 Posts    0 marks
Re: digging dreams out of the fire
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2019, 04:56:06 PM »
"Ugh."

The moment the Black Widow entered the room, Ziauddin keyed into the injury softly cradled to her chest. She beat him to calling in the necessary supplies, but certainly not to making use of them; eyes forming slits, he dragged the loveseat forward until their knees were firmly latticed between one another and snatched the bag with one hand, the other bringing her palm face-up against his thigh with the carefulness of one handling broken glass.

"Despite all my efforts, you always replace it with one even worse than the last." Ziauddin muttered into his drink as he lifted it to his lips and drained it, the healing kit settled pointedly next to his hip.

(Never mind the fact that Zia was always the one to craft a new door for Viviana by hand, as a gift, the moment he noticed some infinitesimal flaw in the design of the one before, which only he ever noticed, perhaps because it wasn't actually a flaw.)

"It's alright, though, gives me something else to distract myself with after…oh, damn it, Viv. You're covered in blood. Would you look at that stain? And don't feed me that line about dark materials hiding blood, it's obvious to anyone who gives a shit." Eyes still trained on Viviana's hand, Ziauddin brought the bottle of alcohol dancing through the air in their direction, settling it onto the table without looking up. He had no intention of allowing Viviana a glass until the cut had congealed properly, but he wasn't above drinking alone until then, and certainly not when his friend was so intent on driving him to do so.

"This seems deep. Hope you weren't having too much fun before I barged in?" Zia frowned at Viviana's hand as he dabbed at the cut, gentle and deft despite the ever-present tremor in his hands. Too deep, is what he meant to say - and effectively had, if the disapproving low note in his tone was read as intended - but there was, too, the comfort of the pattern, and the begrudging understanding that came with being friends with a Black Widow for over three centuries.

Once the cut was sanitized and most of the blood stopped up - an easy enough job with this precise a cut - he lay a salve-slicked pad atop it, and began to wrap carefully. She was lucky it didn't need stitches; Zia wasn't certain he'd be able to manage that, right now, which would have left him in even more of a state. As he turned her wrist to pull the gauze back around, he lifted his gaze to meet hers. There was a strange look in his eyes, something not unlike fear, despite the measured amusement in his words.

"I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours."

Viviana Mori

    Green to Gray
  • Black Widow
  • Played By: Aster

    Coven Member
    Shalador Terreille
    14 Posts    26 marks
Re: digging dreams out of the fire
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2019, 06:21:34 PM »

She watched him drag the entire love seat with a steady, gold, gaze. It wasn't really a surprise - after three hundred years of dancing around that Warlord Prince temper of his, Viviana knew well enough that calmly having an open wound in the same room as one tended to reduce them to hysterics. At least he was also staying calm - possibly that same education in reverse. So she didn't protest when he snatched the bag off her lap, and tugged her hand down to rest against his legs (though she tilted it so the blood pooled in her palm rather than running over her hand to stain his trousers.)

"Ah, yes." Her gaze narrowed now, the Black Widow absorbing the dozens of meanings wrapped around the words. "Someday we'll find one to suit your taste, I suppose, and you'll start blowing out my windows instead."

As her companion went on, Viviana shrugged, not bothering to argue his point. It was true, that anyone who cared paid attention, but she'd always been able to count that number on one hand without even using all of her fingers. She used her uninjured hand to slowly work on fastening the buttons of her blouse, eyes not quite meeting Ziauddin's. "You're the only one who does notice," she muttered, and tucked her gray under the half-buttoned shirt. "But I like you, so I'll let you get away with it."

She let him dab at the cut, not bothering to hide the slight wince as he gently cleaned the deeper parts of the cut. It was a ritual wound, but that didn't mean that the aftermath didn't sting like a bitch. "Well, I had fun anyway, but you can't always be so sure about the other guy."

And that, was all she intended to say about her work in the Twisted Kingdom today.

"I needed to talk to someone from the war," she said in a neat side-step of addressing what she'd actually been working with. Neither of them liked to talk much about the actual war part of what they'd done in the effort against Witch. Some days, it had been impossible to wash the blood out from under her nails, and he'd been in more of the direct fighting than she had. Still, they both knew there were many souls still wandering in that place between life and death that she had personally put there. "It took more power than I anticipated - more blood. I meant to have it cleaned up before you got here."

Viviana gestured in the direction of her door with the free hand. "Want to tell me what was so upsetting you blew up my house to come tell me about it?"



Ziauddin Shirazi

    Sapphire to Broken Gray
  • Warlord Prince
  • Played By: Fal

    Heartbound to Queen Sofia
    Shalador Terreille
    15 Posts    0 marks
Re: digging dreams out of the fire
« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2019, 12:34:40 AM »
"Yeah, yeah."

Having expertly deflected Viviana's knowing glower and the double meaning of her joke about the windows with a violent roll of his eyes, Ziauddin huffed and internally muttered a slew of jumbled words as he kept at it - something along the lines of "'Get-away-with, my ass,' Darkness knows I 'get away with it,' every time." He made a point of communicating the sentiment to his dear friend, too, and checking her expression for any reaction thereafter. As such, the Black Widow's discomfort as he worked didn't escape his notice; Zia frowned deeply in apology, not trusting himself to speak his regret aloud without loosing the many, many other things he regretted into existence, too.

Instead, he sighed quietly, only half-listening to her explanation of her work, despite his avid interest (and legitimate concerns). That was the trouble with having newfound anxieties rattling around in one's mind: Bad enough when they were old, and familiar, and somehow no less affecting  - at least they were predictable. It was worse, he decided, when they were new, and frightening, and upended any hope of bracing for the worst, or planning for the inevitable. He had questions about the inevitability of things, now - questions that puffed their chests proudly, making room for even more nerves to rattle around, as they swanned around his mind.

"Someone from the war." The Warlord Prince repeated the words mechanically, only then seeming to register what was being said. Brows furrowing, then slanting in a dip and raise of each, Ziauddin bit his tongue. Part of him wanted to know who, precisely, Viviana was talking about; the rest of him needed not to.

"While I'm glad you had fun, I did warn you I was coming. Well ahead of time, too." In fact, he'd paced the markets for hours before making his way to Viviana's home.

(What was the worst that could happen in the markets, now? Now that the worst had already happened?)

"But," Ziauddin's tone was suddenly soft, rounded by the faint smile forming on his lips, "Since I like you, I'll let you get away with it."


Then came the question - the one the Warlord Prince himself had courted, as much as he was practically petrified to stone by the possibility of providing a proper response. Forgoing all semblance of composure, the Hayllian snatched the bottle from the table and brought it to his lips, chugging not one, not two, not even three, but four full gulps down his throat before he gently, methodically, placed it in the precise place on the table from which he had procured it.

Suddenly feeling very tired, and very much like he could never sleep again - and that that would be fine, because he somehow also held within him enough vibrant, radical energy to fuel the sun for at least a few decades - Ziauddin weakly cradled Viviana's hand between both of his own, staring intently at the white gauze against bronze skin, wondering whether it was something specific that he'd done to bring Mother Night's wrath down upon him, or if it were more a cumulative punishment, and what either scenario meant in relation to what would come next.

"I think I found her, today, in the marketplace, by accident. No, I know. I know I have." The words were breathy, barely spoken with timbre; he didn't think to specify who she was. "I don't know what to do. This wasn't the plan." Ziauddin's hold on Viviana's hand, loose as it was, tightened incrementally - a fraction of the rigid tension currently holding his body in place.

"This was never the plan."

Viviana Mori

    Green to Gray
  • Black Widow
  • Played By: Aster

    Coven Member
    Shalador Terreille
    14 Posts    26 marks
Re: digging dreams out of the fire
« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2019, 01:14:24 AM »

Amused affection warred with concern; it was unusual to roll a full mystery out in front Ziauddin and not at least catch some of his attention, even about a subject he wouldn't want to dive into. The warlord prince couldn't help it - that curiosity, the drive to know how things worked, was built into the very fiber of who he was. Which meant, her teasing aside, whatever had brought her friend here today was more than serious, it was downright unsettling.

"You did," she agreed, bumping her knee lightly into his; the fastest way to soothe a Warlord Prince, she'd learned, was affectionate contact. "I don't lose myself often, but when I do I have spectacular timing."

Viviana hated the strained silence that followed, as Ziauddin chewed on whatever it was he wanted to say. Still, she waited it out. They'd been friends for too long, through too much, not to allow one another whatever space they needed; she simply pressed her knee against his once more. When the words finally did come, she wished - desperately - that they had not. It was impossible to hide the flinch, given the way he still held her injured hand in his and the way their knees pressed together, and she suspected the dismay didn't stay completely out of her expression either.

Then she took a deep breath, and descended into her Gray.

Once upon a time, there would have been no shielding her friend from the stabbing pain in her heart, but if there was a horrible blessing from his being broken it was this: he could no longer feel her along the Gray. Letting her pain rest here was a risk, if a certain ruling Warlord Prince could feel her vulnerability from across the Territory, but for once it was one she was willing to take. Honestly, she could do with a good fight about now. Certain now that she was enough under control, Viv opened her eyes and lightly squeezed Zia's hand. "I know, I know it wasn't."

Mother Night, she did know. Ziauddin had his childhood traumas around Queens, paired with his grown-up ones; he was the only man she'd ever known who had run hard from that kind of formal service, content instead to fight in a war far from home and to stand as an unofficial escort to a woman who terrified half her Territory. Viv squeezed his hand again, letting the sharp pain across her palm steady her, before she stood slowly, tugging her hand away from his.

"It's okay, Zia. I'm not going to toss you out on your ass." The words were necessary, no matter how much she wished they weren't. After all, she had her own trauma over the men in her life bonding to queens and they both knew that too. She awkwardly slid out from between the two pieces of furniture on mercifully steady legs, and made her way over to the sidebar, sliding open a concealed panel on the side. Everything ached suddenly, the weight of nearly eight-hundred years sagging her shoulders.

More than three of a short-lived Shaladoran's lifespans had been spent with this man, a person who mattered more in her life than anyone else, save the baby sister she'd helped raise. Over those years Viviana had trusted Zia in ways she'd never trusted anyone before, and the sudden loss of that unquestioning loyalty was a gaping hole in her chest. She reached into the panel for a dusty bottle, and then closed it back up. It wasn't often she pulled out the only drink that had ever knocked her on her ass.

But damnit, she needed it now.

Viv popped the top off the bottle, wiping the mouth on a relatively clean part of her trousers, before she turned to face her friend again. "Tell me about her."

Ziauddin Shirazi

    Sapphire to Broken Gray
  • Warlord Prince
  • Played By: Fal

    Heartbound to Queen Sofia
    Shalador Terreille
    15 Posts    0 marks
Re: digging dreams out of the fire
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2019, 01:57:18 AM »
The physical contact was a single bandage on a stab wound: It was placed with care, and that in itself comforted a great deal. 

It was not enough in isolation, however, to stem the flow of blood from the wound he'd made of the pair of them.

Centuries of witnessing Viviana's silent struggles and secret pains through the windows of their own intimacy told Ziauddin everything he needed to know about the artery he'd just blown open. The moment he had done it, the very instant the words finished forming on his tongue, devoid of unnecessary specificity in the wake of so much experience, so much suffering - for that fraction of an instant, he wished for nothing in all the world so much as to rewind time one hundred years, back to that moment his Gray was drained to dust, so that he might vanish into the Abyss along with it.

Ziauddin made a point to ignore the flinch, even though he felt it on some level, attuned as he was to every shift of muscle and joint that rippled beneath the Black Widow's skin. Despite her best efforts - because of them, more like - he knew the exact moment she robbed him of a sense of her true emotions. That steadying breath, the descent to a place to which he could never again follow - Viviana deserved every moment she spent there, on her own, devoid of him. He couldn't refuse her what distance she needed, now; not when she had earned her space away from Queens and their torments through suffering she did not deserve, over the course of centuries.

History was keen on repeating itself regardless, even within the lifespans of Blood such as he - Viviana squeezed his hand far too tightly with her still-injured hand, derailing his thoughts; it was Ziauddin's turn to flinch, head tilting to the side, as far away as he could get without actually moving, as she spoke words he had positively no right to hear. Not from her lips, not now. Two hundred years from now? Maybe.

A sigh shuddered out of the Warlord Prince's chest as he all but vanished into the back of the couch, wilting against it the moment Viviana broke contact. The combination of dismay and uncontrollable exhilaration continued to beat against his ribs as he leaned back, watching Viviana grab a bottle they once would have shared, before his neck collapsed along the top of the sofa and his eyes fixed on the ceiling above. 

(Well, she hadn't sent him packing immediately. That…was something? More than he'd dared hope for, to say the least. Still.

It would be remiss of him to deny her every opportunity.)

With that in mind, Ziauddin spoke of his Queen, vocal chords straining - in part from the angle of his head, in part from the sting of the liquor that continued to find its way down his throat, but most of all from the effort to keep tears from his voice.

"She's…well. Her name is Sofia. Lives here, in the city. From here." Ziauddin didn't have to tell Viviana what that meant - if anything, being a long-lived Shaladorian would only serve to put that reality into further relief. "She's not…not a Queen in her own right, just yet." Just in the ways that mattered. "Doesn't even have a Court. Just a - father? Uncle? Ready and willing to cut me down, I think, as soon as I do something stupid. Which, we both know - well, I should've come to say my goodbyes, really, now that I think about it." Despite his best intentions, Zia couldn't bring himself to smile in the name of selling the joke. Instead, his expression sat somewhere between dazed and utterly comatose, the irregular edges of one particular speck on the ceiling seeming to consume his entire attention, even as his nerves still frayed along every inch of the Sapphire that tethered him to sanity.


Viviana Mori

    Green to Gray
  • Black Widow
  • Played By: Aster

    Coven Member
    Shalador Terreille
    14 Posts    26 marks
Re: digging dreams out of the fire
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2019, 08:50:06 PM »

Her hip leaned against the back of the chair she'd previously occupied, as Viviana listened to her best friend talk about his Queen. It was obvious that it hurt him to do - for more reasons than they had time to unpack, despite their long lifetimes. More of her weight shifted onto the furniture as she tipped the bottle back, ignoring the faint dust that clung to her lips, instead savoring the horrible burn as the liquor brewed specifically for the dark jeweled went down. She paused to wipe the back of her hand against her lips once the bottle lowered, catching dust and alcohol alike, and fully absorbed the description. "I'll kill the bastard if he lays a finger on you," the tone was caught somewhere between a growl and hiss; it scraped against the still-burning parts of her throat. "I mean that."

They both knew she did; Viviana didn't offer violence idly, but what she could do on a Killing Field was as known to Ziauddin as the reverse was to her.

Temper faded, as that empty feeling stretched back into place. How many more nights like this did they have? Viviana didn't know many Queens - almost none, personally - but she knew that if they pulled on a leash a man jumped more likely than not. Would this Sofia want to share the attention of her Dark Jeweled toy with a Black Widow? What if she disallowed Zia from spending any time with her at all? As the temper faded, Viv felt her shoulders sink a little more. There was only one person she knew well enough to direct her questions to, and he was quite literally the last person she wanted to see right now. The witch put the bottle to her lips, desperately craving the burning throat, the headache, and most importantly the ability to no longer care.

As the bottle lowered once more, she licked her lips, and then gestured towards him. "Does she know about you?" She paused, almost reluctant to ask, and then tapped her own Gray jewel with her free hand. "Did you tell her about this?"

Viviana wasn't sure whether it would be better if he had, or if he hadn't. There was too much she didn't know about the situation, too many variables, and she didn't know where to even begin solving this particular equation, so she didn't. Her elbows caught on the back of the chair as she bent at her waist, wrists crossing loosely over the cushion back. "What happens next?"

Usually she was the one with the answers, in fact she hated being the one who didn't, hated just about everything in this situation. Viv closed her eyes again, and tried to dredge up even a scrap of happiness for her dear friend.

"Maybe this will be good for you."

Ziauddin Shirazi

    Sapphire to Broken Gray
  • Warlord Prince
  • Played By: Fal

    Heartbound to Queen Sofia
    Shalador Terreille
    15 Posts    0 marks
Re: digging dreams out of the fire
« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2019, 01:40:09 AM »
"I know you do."

A feeble chuckle left the trace of a smile on Ziauddin's lips as he gazed down his nose at Viviana without lifting his head. It wasn't that the notion of the Black Widow taking a life was amusing, or that he didn't take it seriously. He deeply appreciated it, in fact, if the glimmer in his eyes was any indication. (Hope, maybe, that their relationship still held value.) Rather, it was the thought of how unsatisfying it would be, compared to all the deaths that came before, to snap the light-jeweled Eusebio in two (even if he was anything but a twig. From what the Warlord Prince had gathered in his very long and appreciative look, the Prince was solidly built. From all angles.)

While Viviana had always been the creative sort when it came to killing, and Ziauddin surely would find many ways to make a hellish mess of things, judging from the possessive satisfaction he'd found in watching the other man gape from the bottom of the stairs of his own home while he pressed their Queen to his side - it nevertheless seemed unfair to let some unwitting Shaladorian Prince suffer just because Ziauddin himself was a glutton for punishment.

"I'd rather that you didn’t, though. I still intend to see what sort of - ah, impressions, I can make on him." Ziauddin licked his lips absent-mindedly, tilting his chin somewhat to drain his glass for the third time as the questions began to spill from his beloved friend's lips. Viviana's gesture to her Gray jewel caught in his peripheral vision; his hand reached for his temples, digging in with index finger and thumb, before dragging that pressure backwards to tug at his scalp as he shook his head once.

"No." His tone was entirely too neutral for the implications held in that single word. "Not exactly something I lead with when introducing myself to other Blood. Not the sort of thing you want to surprise someone with, either, of course -" A different Queen's face surfaced in his mind's eye, then, a look of shock, confusion, and something like despair mingling in his wife's expression. He swallowed the memory with a swig straight from the bottle. There could be no such secrets between a Warlord Prince and his Queen, could there? "- but I can't say I've had any practice telling anyone, either." Ziauddin opted not to voice the fear that already turned his stomach; that telling the Queen might somehow result in her refusal of him altogether, and that he didn't know how he would survive it.

What happens next? Ignoring the question for a beat (primarily because he didn't have an easy or clever answer on hand), a muscle twitched in Ziauddin's jaw and throat. He had to stifle a laugh in response to what was clearly Viviana's earnest attempt at being congratulatory. He simply wasn't going to dignify that with a response.

With a heavy shrug of his shoulders, the Warlord Prince straightened, placed the half-finished bottle on the table, and eased himself to his feet, answering the question (at least, in an immediate sense). "I'm gonna fix your door, is what." A moment's focus was followed by a crash, sounding in the opposite direction of where he'd left the door's remnants - indicative of the scraps' relocation to his personal workroom, which his friend had saw fit to keep available to him, all these years. He wondered if he should take everything with him, once he was finished.

"Why don't you help, this time? Might last longer, with your input." Calling over his shoulder, Ziauddin weaved around where Viviana slumped against the chair and headed knowingly back the hall. He found things usually lasted longer in Viviana's care, himself included. He wondered what that meant for him, now that she would keep him at arm's length.

Maybe this would be good for one of them.

Viviana Mori

    Green to Gray
  • Black Widow
  • Played By: Aster

    Coven Member
    Shalador Terreille
    14 Posts    26 marks
Re: digging dreams out of the fire
« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2019, 10:44:12 PM »

"Mmm." The noise rumbled in the Black Widow's chest; she thought preemptively eliminating the competition might be more prudent, but then again, the young Queen would probably frown on it. No, not probably. Viviana would have eviscerated any man who murdered her father to get close to her, and Jun hadn't even raised her. "Just keep it in mind, then."

She let her head fall forward then, eyes shut as she listened to Zia's continued explanation that he had not, in fact shared the thing he seemed to carry with the most shame with his young Queen. It was just as well - would the (probable) short-lived darling even understand what Witch had been, or the courage it had taken anyone to stand against her? The courage, though he'd deny it, that Ziauddin had possessed? Probably not, it wasn't as though the girl could really, truly, understand what they'd lived through. Mother Night, she wasn't terribly old by the long-lived standards, but every century in Shalador left her feeling more and more like a crone.

"I'll be right there," she belatedly muttered as Zia circled her to step into the hallway. Viviana didn't really mind him wandering her home - the only place she didn't like him to go (at least alone) was her workshop and that was locked. For now, she'd savor the silence of the empty room. Viviana felt so tired - from the ritual, from the news, from the years of responsibility and self-denial stacked up on her shoulders. She realized in that moment that, despite having assured him she wouldn't kick him out, Viv did what Zia to leave. She needed space to get her head back on straight, to find her balance so she could take whatever scraps Zia would offer and never let him know it stung.

She didn't have the heart to do it, though, so she eventually stood up straight, still clutching the bottle, and ambled out into the hall. It wasn't hard to know where her friend had gone - the sounds of his workshop were the only noise in her home, and she followed them along to the still-open doorway, where she could just see pieces of her former door. "Can we do something in a different color, or would that offend your sense?"

Viv lifted the bottle to her lips, taking a heavy enough drink that she began to feel the effects of the potent brew. Good. Fucking finally. "Are you going to stay tonight?"

She hated herself for the soft question, slipping through her guards, but it was there now, her vulnerability exposed. It might be that she wanted him gone, that she wanted to flee herself, but what Viv really wanted was some kind of assurance that some things, at least, were still unchanged.

Ziauddin Shirazi

    Sapphire to Broken Gray
  • Warlord Prince
  • Played By: Fal

    Heartbound to Queen Sofia
    Shalador Terreille
    15 Posts    0 marks
Re: digging dreams out of the fire
« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2019, 02:35:21 PM »

By the time Viviana joined him in the workroom, Ziauddin was already hunched over his desk, smoothing a long roll of paper across the entire length of its matte metal surface, starting from the center. The Warlord Prince's reach from fingertip to fingertip overtook each edge by a fraction of an inch (by design, of course - there were plenty of other tables and surfaces in the room, and they were all contoured to the purposes they served). Once the paper was in place, he focused a small amount of power on holding it to the surface, the pressure erasing the wrinkles and flattening the corners.

Conjuring a perhaps excessive amount of light into the room (it didn't do to work in the dark, and he'd specifically chosen an interior space with no windows to avoid pesky things like day and night, or awareness of the passage of time), Ziauddin straightened and twisted halfway to look at Viviana, one hip biting into the lip of the desk where he leaned against it.

"A different color? Hmm." He looked incredulous at first, but his eyes narrowed thoughtfully soon after, one fist lifting to tug at his chin. "I don't see why not. Take a look. Give me three you like." With that, Ziauddin pulled a book from his cabinet - though it was less a book, and more of an overstuffed folder, filled with a mess of scraps of paper. Short tabs separated the bits into sections by color; all swatches of various types of paint in a myriad tones, experimented with by a certain artistic Priestess, at one point or another.

With that, Ziauddin swiveled on his heels, walking the few steps over to where the previous door's remains lay organized atop a thick tarp in the center of the room. One boot-covered toe nudged a larger piece from which the doorknob jutted, still in tact. He kneeled down next to it with a grunt, a handful of tools soaring in his direction before dropping softly to the floor alongside him. Carefully, he removed the components from the surrounding wood. The lock was still, in his approximation, his cleverest of that physical design, damaged though it was from his admittedly rough handling. Fortunately, he'd be able to recreate it with the materials he had on hand. The doorknob itself was nothing special, at least by sheer appearance; if it looked harmless, but had the capacity to feel unpleasantly barbed to anyone who hadn't done the proper thing and knocked first - well, that was a feature, not a bug. It encouraged visitors to use the knocker at the door's center, which sounded to the resident's owner in discrete musical tones, solemn and slow, divulging what it could glean of the visitor's nature along the probing thread woven into it. It was complicated, and required upkeep, sure. But wasn't that the nature of Ziauddin and Viviana's entire relationship?

(And wouldn't he need an excuse to visit now, anyway?)

Judging from Viviana's fragile question, it seemed that might be up for debate. Setting the doorknob and it's pieces side by side on the tarp, Ziauddin propped an elbow on his knee in a half crouch, and turned his gaze back to the Black Widow behind him. His expression gained the weariness of centuries at the thought of the rest that wouldn't come, no matter where he lay his head that night. The Warlord Prince stared for a long moment, frozen by uncertainty, before he sighed, and shrugged, and passed the buck.

"I told them I'd be back this evening, to introduce Aly. I don't know what to do, after that." Turning away again, Ziauddin began to busy his hands with deconstructing the puzzle of fine, intricate pieces of the lock before him, ignoring the way the liquor had begun to hum in his veins, and the flush of his cheeks.

"What would you prefer?"

Viviana Mori

    Green to Gray
  • Black Widow
  • Played By: Aster

    Coven Member
    Shalador Terreille
    14 Posts    26 marks
Re: digging dreams out of the fire
« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2019, 10:48:33 AM »

Viviana accepted the...book, and opened it up to slowly turn the heavy pages. Truth be told, she barely looked at the swatches of color as she flipped through the book; neither her heart nor mind was in it. She stepped back to lean against the frame of the door while she stared absently at the book. Ziauddin's sister was talented - she'd seen a rare few pieces of the Priestess' work over the centuries, and was constantly impressed that a woman as dedicated to her studies as it appeared Lady Kalyani was could also devote as much time and interest in a hobby. (Though it felt unfair to call the woman's art a hobby, and it was far from Viviana's intent to be dismissive about the way Kalyani passed her time.)

She'd just managed to focus on a page of various shades of gray (had Viv even known there were this many?) when her friend spoke again.

Looking up, this time Viviana managed to mask her expression with a speed even Bohai would be impressed by; and thinking about that particular Warlord Prince did nothing good for her mood. She bit down on the inside of her lip and considered the options. Much as she wanted Zia to stay (the plea in her thoughts reminded her of another one from centuries ago and that wasn't doing her any favors,) and as much as she wanted things to retain some normalcy, perhaps it would be better this way. She ran her fingers slowly over a particular swatch, and then offered an answer. "It wouldn't be fair to abandon your sister to strangers."

From what Viviana knew of the woman, Kalyani was stronger than she usually appeared, but she also knew the girl was uncommonly fragile just now. "I think she needs you more than I will - and I have business this evening, myself."

She'd find business, anyway, and the stray thought of Bohai was still dogging her steps.

Tapping the swatch under her finger, barely even paying attention to what it was, she said "I think I like this color, by the way."


Ziauddin Shirazi

    Sapphire to Broken Gray
  • Warlord Prince
  • Played By: Fal

    Heartbound to Queen Sofia
    Shalador Terreille
    15 Posts    0 marks
Re: digging dreams out of the fire
« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2019, 07:14:11 PM »

"Right."

At the last moment, Ziauddin resisted giving Viviana an incredulous look at the notion that she had business to attend to later on. Whether she did have matters of Craft or Caste to contend with, or if it was merely an excuse to get him gone, it didn't matter. The message was clear. The Warlord Prince couldn't decide if it would sting more, or less, if she'd just been blunt and told him to go.

Still focused on organizing metal across the tarp, Ziauddin chewed on his cheek. There was reason to be found in the Black Widow's encouragements, he conceded - there was no way in Hell Ziauddin was going to let his sister stay around strangers while he wasn't there to monitor their every move. Especially not after the looks he'd earned himself from his Queen's relatives. He supposed they could head over for dinner and leave after that, saving the inevitable arrangements for the following day, but the point was awfully moot; even if he wanted to stay, Viviana was already far from his reach. Lingering in her house for a few more hours wasn't going to change that.

As the Black Widow announced she'd chosen a color, Ziauddin swiveled and hoisted himself to his feet. Vanishing the remnants of wood that were no longer useable, he closed the distance between himself and the workroom doorway, settling in at Viviana's side. The cool gray swatch beneath her finger sent a pang into his core, and he blinked rapidly to stop his eyes from watering. With a silent nod, Ziauddin gently shifted the book into his own hands, setting it atop an end table next to his main desk.

"Good choice." Ziauddin cleared the thickness from his throat as he spoke. Whether it was the alcohol or the emotions swelling beneath his superficial panic and dismay, the Warlord Prince couldn't be sure, but he was feeling something, and he didn't like it.

In a desperate bid for distraction, Ziauddin shifted the topic of conversation slightly, grasping for straws - or olive branches. "Her mother is a Black Widow. Trained with the Coven, here in Shalador. Does the name Milagros Araya ring any bells for you?" He worked while he spoke, settling a straight edge against the surface of the paper, drawing hard lines of ink along its length and width, as ill-prepared for mistakes as he ever was.

Viviana Mori

    Green to Gray
  • Black Widow
  • Played By: Aster

    Coven Member
    Shalador Terreille
    14 Posts    26 marks
Re: digging dreams out of the fire
« Reply #13 on: May 14, 2019, 11:36:42 PM »

This sudden gulf between them hurt nearly as bad as the initial agony of knowing her friend's priorities had shifted so abruptly; Vivian wanted, desperately, to bridge it - but she had no idea how. Instead, she let Ziauddin take the book from her hands, and sagged against the frame of the doorway she still stood in. She glanced over the pieces on the tarp, and wondered how many times over the last hundred years they'd done this song and dance, and why the familiarity of it wasn't helping any. Would there be anymore days of crowding into one another's workrooms? Or was that all behind them now?

Viviana didn't respond to his compliment on the choice of color; she couldn't care less about that particular detail right now.  She was grasping for a subject of conversation, when Zia unexpectedly offered her one, painful though it also was.

"She's Millie's daughter?" The Black Widow pushed away from the doorway, wrapping her arms over her stomach. "Yes, that name rings a few bells."

The young Black Widow had been one of Viviana's more challenging, gifted, students in the last fifty years. It wasn't often she met someone with a drive that could compete with her own, and the two women had been a good balance for one another during the younger woman's studies. How did one explain Millie to someone who had never known her? Viv paced further into the space, perching on the edge of an unused surface.

"I trained Milagros," she started slowly, taking a deep breath. "She is an incredible woman, even after breaking herself oh....I don't know, twenty years ago now? It seems to have been a deliberate choice, though none of us has a concrete answer as to why."

A low laugh vibrated from her chest, and Viv rubbed her cheek ruefully. "Not that we really deal in straight answers over at the coven. Anyway, she stays with the coven proper now, and we take care of her while she...wanders....the inner landscape. Millie weaves some of the most complicated, beautiful, webs I've ever seen."

Ziauddin Shirazi

    Sapphire to Broken Gray
  • Warlord Prince
  • Played By: Fal

    Heartbound to Queen Sofia
    Shalador Terreille
    15 Posts    0 marks
Re: digging dreams out of the fire
« Reply #14 on: May 15, 2019, 12:15:12 AM »
Was it a good sign, or a bad one, that Viviana recognized the offered name? Ziauddin reserved judgment as he listened to the Black Widow elaborate, lifting his eyes from the paper to watch the shift of her posture, the way her arms wrapped around herself, before she slid a little further into the room.

"Oh." It was idiotic, bordering on braindead, to assume Viviana hadn't had a hand in training the Black Widow in question. Hadn't she trained everyone of her Caste in Shalador? It sure as fuck felt like it. To hear someone beloved speak the other woman's praises, however, did something to ease Ziauddin's nerves, however slightly. It was a surface-level relief, perhaps, gently releasing the tightness in his brow - before it knotted again with the reality that however incredible a woman his Queen's mother might be, she was still like him: Broken.

(Did that mean Sofia and her family would have more sympathy, or less? More understanding, or an unconquerable lack thereof? )

The laugh should have done something to ease his mind, as Viviana remind him of the difficult reality that was simply being a Black Widow. There was entirely too much guesswork involved for his taste or comfort, which might have been chief among the reasons he was so terrified of his own tangoes with the Darkness, and the Twisted Kingdom. Wherever their consciousness lingered, Black Widows could still create beautiful, incomprehensible things. Sofia's mother proved that.

"I see." Doubling down on his outlining efforts, Ziauddin let the silence separate himself and Viviana for a long moment after. Then he swallowed, hard, and simply said, "I think I'd like to meet her, one day. Maybe you could help arrange it."

It only took a heartbeat for the flimsy resolve he'd summoned to cave. Ziauddin dropped the pen a little too hard; ink splattered the paper, and he cursed, then promptly set the entire thing aflame with a (more or less) contained burst of witchfire. The scorch marks atop the metal table vanished moments after the paper did, the Warlord Prince's vice grip on the surface cooling it with Craft as a new sheet of paper crept off the roll on the floor and settled into place. The entire process of creation, destruction, and rebirth took a matter of seconds.

His head hung for a long moment after. There was nothing to be done about the not-so-slight scorch-mark on the cuff of his shirt. Fate smiled upon him, Ziauddin supposed: The shirt had been a gift from Abhilasha, and frankly, he'd hated it more than the door.

Ziauddin spoke, short words muffled amidst all but tearing the shirt off of his back. "What - d'ya think - is a good set of complementary gifts - for a man and a Queen - you didn't really want - in the first place?" As he finally freed himself from the fabric, he let out a sigh. Then he set fire to that, too.
 

Welcome to Witchlight

We are an AU Black Jewels RPG that is continuously expanding the world lore to truly make it our own. Come join us and play in our sandbox!

Open for over a year, we have 9 unique races, from birds to wolf-shifters. Feel free to drop into our Discord, lurk our wanted ads, and see if Witchlight is the fantasy site you should always have been looking for.

We have an RPG Rating of:

Timeline

WINTER - AW102

The seasons will change on 08/19.

Recent Topics

Contemplation by Iskra Graves
[Today at 04:26:24 AM]


Hazy Shade of Winter by Amets Moralez
[Yesterday at 05:23:09 AM]


Transactions by The Darkness
[May 20, 2019, 08:16:15 PM]


Asturias, Amor by The Darkness
[May 20, 2019, 06:06:06 AM]


New places, friendly faces by Sirin Vedis
[May 20, 2019, 06:04:38 AM]

Chat

Guest Friendly Discord
login & choose a name, no registration required!

Wanted Spotlight

The Second
Eunuch | Open Jewels | Paon
Second Hand to Mother Priestess

Rumor Mill

Credits

Witchlight is loosely based upon the Black Jewels Series by Anne Bishop though it has been adapted and expanded by our members. All lore, characters, and writing belongs to the members. Site graphics & custom codes were created by the staff. A special thanks to Wolf & Katarina for all their help with the planning of Witchlight and the writing of the base lore.

Community Awards Winner