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No mind to think,
No will to break,
No voice to cry suffering-
Born of God and Void.

Most Recent Posts

Location: Mystic Prophecy Chapterhouse -- Thorinn, Aetheria

It was strange. Even as Shev entered, addressing Graves directly, he never turned to face her. No word of acknowledgement, or even a tilt of the head- he just stared straight ahead, like the curtains were the most interesting thing in the world. None of what she said was lost on him, however. Memories of his fight with Kazuki came in bursts, like gunfire, interspliced with moments from the dungeon. Too quick to process any of it except for how it felt, and that was so intense it nearly overwhelmed him. That bubbling magma in his gullet, threatening to erupt at any moment. Its rapid coming was followed swiftly by a wave of shame. He oughtta be able to control it; other people could. But every time he tried it felt like Graves was wrestling a hurricane.

It would pass through, after a time. It would leave a wreckage behind but it would pass through nonetheless.

"Little shit just doesn't know when to quit." He sucked in air through his teeth, looking- finally- to Rael. Their conversation played through his mind much slower, like a tape at half speed. It felt more meaningful now than when they'd actually talked. He hung on every word, every movement of body language. Strange. He could never recall details so minute in his other life.

Without any other option he went to his feet. Couldn't ignore him. Couldn't tell Shev or Pris to turn him away. Had to face it. Better that way. Better to confront it now than bury it and let it spread like a rot. Knowing what he should do didn't make it any fucking easier, though. He looked to Pris. "Thanks. Sorry for...bringin' all this to your doorstep."

Then he was off.

It was a short walk back to the front entrance where they'd first encountered Shev, and the common area was just to the left. Shield on the wall, just like she said. Graves slowed to a near halt as he came up to it. 'Take a moment, gather your thoughts. Don't let him piss you off- don't piss him off. He's probably just here to apologize. N' you can do that too.'

He must've looked like a complete moron standing there, psyching himself up to talk to that little twinkish bastard. This was dumb. Just get in there and bury the hatchet like two, fully functional adults.

Two steps inside and he caught sight of Seele and Kazuki. Take a deep breath. Be casual. You're taking too long to speak. Just- say something! "...Hey."

Location: Mystic Prophecy Chapterhouse -- Thorinn, Aetheria

"Yeah, yeah. We can handle that, no problem." That was exactly the kind of request he'd been expecting. Pris wasn't going to be sitting on some major dilemma or epic quest or some shit like that. It was the dirty dishes left out over night. It was the garbage bag that needed to be taken to the curb. It was just the kind of mind-numbing, monotonous task that he needed to distract restless hands.

"Get us a write-up of everything you'll need for the next couple'a months n' we'll get it done. Think it'll be better to do now before everybody figures out how long we're gonna be stuck here n' the shelves get bare." Food and basic provisions were the first things to disappear from stores during natural disasters. People rushed to hoard as much as they could, and everybody that was too slow on the uptick was left in the dust. Andrew had never been a prepper or anything like that, but it just made sense. How was their situation any different from waitin' out a storm?

"And..." He paused, leaning forward against the desk. He was hesitant to get himself involved. It was why he was here, obviously, but it still felt intrusive- wrong. Like it wasn't really his problem. Graves watched Pris's face for some indication that he was overstepping his bounds. "If...there's anything you can think of to help, y'know, the others- if there's anything they might want, or, I'unno, anybody they might wanna contact..."

Location: Mystic Prophecy Chapterhouse - Thorinn, Aetheria

The concern was plain on his face. Luci being torn up was to be expected, but she'd fully isolated herself? That was dangerous. A mind alone with its grief was a terrible thing. She had nothing to anchor her. Nothing to stop her from sinking further underneath. Routine, human contact- these weren't just helpful in overcoming what Luci was going through, they were necessary. Andrew wasn't a therapist. He didn't know the Latin name for the exact phenomena she was experiencing.

But he'd been there.

He knew what it took to drag yourself out of the dark.

"Shit." Graves let out a sigh from the depths of his breast. What was he supposed to do, here? He wasn't just a stranger- he was the target of her loathing. She'd never let him in. It had to be one of her friends, but...none of them were up to it. Leaves sounded damn near catatonic. Pris was trying to hold it all together but, really, she was only human. The support beams had been knocked out and the structure was groaning under the stress. Something was going to break-- and soon-- if the situation didn't change.

The conversation shifted away from Mystic Prophecy and toward Graves' and Rael's team. 'Team.' They could barely stand each other. Just going over the bar argument again made his hand tense up- it took a moment's concentration to keep his choler from rising again.

"Uh, could be better, I guess." He gave a humorless chuckle, propping his head up with an open palm. "Alja drunk herself to sleep yesterday n' got up n' started drinking again. Been alternatin' between yellin' at people n' passin' out, which is...great. Kalie's a mess. The archer, Alex? He's weirdly okay, even more talkative now than when we started. And Seele?"

He shook his head in disbelief. "She's either a god damn superhero or a psychopath. Nothin' slows her down."

The rest went unspoken of.

Location: Mystic Prophecy Chapterhouse - Thorinn, Aetheria

He had no idea how nervous he'd been until seeing Priscilica's smile. Through their half-hour walk over there'd been this pressure in his chest growing methodically; slow, muted, but ever present. Like someone had turned up the heat so gradually he didn't even notice until he stepped into the cold.

Graves never could've known how she or anyone else at MP would react to seeing them again. Rael, Kazu- they feared the worst. Thought Prophecy would hate all of 'em, like Luci did. If he was a bettin' man, Graves would put money on Seele thinkin' they'd all be besties in a week's time. But what did he think? He'd told Rael it wasn't s'posed to matter: they had a responsibility to come by whether they'd get the cold shoulder, a quick hug or a punch in the teeth.

Yet he allowed himself to feel relieved nonetheless.

He took a moment by the door to get composed, passing it off as a meandering walk around the study. It wasn't a huge room, but they certainly made use of the space. It was packed with books from ceiling to floor: dusty old tomes, ancient spell scrolls and all manner of other texts filled its shelves. A collection this impressive would've driven some of his party members mad with envy. All he saw was a waste of time.

"We 'preciate your hospitality, uh, Priscil- Pris. You're too kind." Graves cleared his throat, making for the desk. He'd stalled long enough. After a beat of waiting for Rael to choose a seat Graves lowered his weigh into the other.

After a few too many seconds of staring at her and waiting for her to speak up, he realized she wanted him to lead. 'Course. This whole thing was his idea, she was only here to make sure he didn't do anything stupid.

He turned to look at Pris. "How're you holdin' up?"

Location: City Streets - City of Thorinn, Aetheria

Rael's shouting brought him to a halt. Before he'd turned around he knew she wanted to catch up to him. Couldn't say why- she'd shown a remarkable ability to not care about other people. "Don't follow me!" Graves yelled back as he spun around. He wasn't in the mood. Wasn't in the mood to talk, or be talked at, or chewed out for his lack of manners. Anger still flowed through his veins, burning and raging like a wildfire. If he'd thought removing himself from the situation would cool him down, he'd been wrong.

But Rael didn't listen- typical- and came trapezing out of the tavern's second floor to run after him. Graves had half a mind to just keep walking. He didn't. He stood there, letting his choler rise with the volume of his voice.

"Are you deaf or do you just enjoy pissin' me off?"

"What's your frickin' problem, tank-for-brains?"

He'd spun back around before she had two words out and kept walking. Walking with long, purposeful strides in the vague direction he knew his destination to be. It was a place he'd walked by a handful of times, maybe, but Graves rarely got lost. Tracking people down was how he'd made a name for himself, after all.

"I leave you for five minutes and Benkei starts shit with you? What the hell?"

Her questions went unanswered for more than a minute. They just went on walking together through the crowded city streets, with Graves barreling his way through anyone stupid enough to not move aside. He still wasn't calming down. His blood pressure was through the roof. "I started the shit. S'what I do." Graves snarled. "His arrogant, self-righteous, hypocrite-of-a-brother was talkin' out one side of his mouth about teamwork n' unity n' all this other shit, and outta the other he was talkin' about abandoning Kalie 'cause she's- she's normal."

Just verbalizing everything that was banging around inside his skull was enough to reheat the fire. He wasn't even trying to keep it under control at this point; he didn't care who heard him yelling. He didn't care that people were looking at him like some kinda freak. It'd all been too much. Everything. All of it was just building and building on top of each other like a tower of misery up to the heavens and Graves couldn't take it anymore.

"'Cause all this scares her. 'Cause everything that's goin' on is too much. 'Cause unlike most'a our gang of losers, fuck-ups and loners, she actually has somethin' to lose." He turned his head to look at Rael over his shoulder. "Same reason you yelled at her, really."

"I yelled at her because..." She paused, looking at the ground for a moment. "...because she was being annoying. Don't even know why. I snapped."

"Can't stand her either. That RP shit's for kids and dorks."

She sighed audibly as she rose her hand to her face as if she had a migraine.

"It was... I dunno. Maybe Alja is right about me. Whatever. Not like I'd abandon anyone because they are annoying. Does Kazuki really want to ditch the weak members like that?"

He echoed Rael's sigh and slowed in his walk. "I dunno. I dunno what he wants, and I didn't give him time to explain. Said a lot of shit I shouldn't have and now the group's...done. Ain't something you come back from. Better off on my own, anyway."

"How lame. Giving up that easily."

"Didn't take you for the kumbaya type."

She rolled her eyes as she moved her hand from her face, "Never took you for the coward type."

That hit a nerve.

"What's going to happen to those morons without us?"

And that drove it home.

"God, you sound just like-" He threw up his hands and gave a frustrated groan. "-They're probably gonna charge off the nearest cliff like a pack of lemmings."

She smiled, "People like us aren't supposed to be the likeable ones. If you weren't busy being so upset you'd see that. We've got a different job."

They stopped walking. "You're a pain in my ass, I hope you know that."

"Yeah." She moved closer looking up at him as she did so, forcing absolute eye contact. "So what're you gonna do about it?"

Not one to back down from a challenge, Graves held his ground, bending his knees to get down to her level. After a beat of glaring at her he stood back up. "Still not over the ale thing- Imma get you back for it later. For now, there's work to be done."

Location: Laughing Worg Tavern - City of Thorinn, Aetheria

Regret came knocking on Andrew's door like an old friend the moment Kazuki spoke up again. He knew what he was doing. He knew exactly what he was doing, he just didn't care. He didn't care until he saw the other man's face twitching- holding to a remarkable calm, given the circumstances- and he agreed. That was the worst part. Graves could've handled being hit. Could've handled Kazu getting loud back, trying to dig in some needles of his own: that was all business as usual. It was another thing entirely to find the dagger had gone a little too deep.

But you couldn't take words back. They were as permanent as a punch to the face.

There was the apology Graves had asked for, freely given and plain as could be. It would've satisfied, probably. It might've even been enough for Graves to stick around even after this shitshow. He still believed in what he'd said, after all; he still cared about these fucking insufferable dipshits and didn't want anything to happen to them because he had too much of an ego to stick around.

Then Benkei opened his giant God damn mouth.

”You killed them.”

"Don't you throw that in my face!" Graves all but roared, lowering his face down until there was less than an inch between them. He never touched Benkei. He felt the rage boil the center of his gullet. That burning, ugly hate he'd felt every second since they left that accursed hall. "You think I wanted to be standing here instead of him? He's the one who deserved a second chance, not-"

You can't fix everything, Andy.

And for the second time in that argument he was interrupted by someone who didn't belong in it. One of the women who worked the bar had apparently had enough of their shit flinging, and threatened to have them removed if they didn't put a stop to it. He had half a mind to keep going anyway. Half a mind to let her try. Right now he felt like he could tear an elephant in half. But he didn't want to kill anyone. He didn't want to hurt them.

'You gotta learn to accept that sometimes- sometimes things just are a certain way.'

Everyone was trying to stop them. Alja, Alex, even Seele was on the move. Nobody wanted this to go there, but if Graves stayed in that tavern for another thirty seconds he was sure that was how it'd all end.


His hands were up in the air. He was shaking his head, taking a step back. It wasn't worth it. No matter how angry he was, no matter how much he wanted to let it all out on this bastard right in front of him, he knew it wouldn't be worth it. So he turned away, grabbed his belongings and threw them back over his shoulder. His whole life was in the bag. It'd been with him since he started playing and it'd be with him at the end. He took it, and he started for the door.

"I knew this wasn't gonna work." Graves kept his face low, walking slow. Had to keep up appearances, right? Even now. "Good luck with the whole together thing. This group was always a fucking time bomb anyway."

He shoved his way outta the door and into the street, and he was off. He was off to try to fix the mistakes that'd been haunting him since this whole thing began. Or maybe he'd die trying. Either way worked.

That's how you survive.

Location: Laughing Worg Tavern - City of Thorinn, Aetheria

'Even if Luci's been insufferable 'bout blaming us for somethin' outside our control.'

Graves knew he didn't believe it. He knew he was only thinking it because Kazuki was being a massive asshole and Graves knew just where to stick the knife to hurt him- that was somethin' he'd learned at home too. He knew just how to hurt somebody bad enough for it to last. He'd been watching Kazu. He watched him during the fight, watched him afterwards. Watched him at the graveside. He'd been watching the man and he knew just how much the guilt weighed him down. It was a terrible burden he'd put on himself and it was one he didn't even deserve.

But that didn't matter. What mattered was Kazu had pissed him off and he needed to be hurt.

Graves got close. Close enough he could whisper it. Make it dig deep. "You could'a saved-"

Somebody else cut in, interrupting him. Benkei, the boy who thought he'd be king. All it took was a glance- he looked as heated as Graves felt. Everything about how he was standing, how he was speaking, how his hands trembled just a little told him their auspicious leader was ready to explode the moment he had an excuse.

He turned, facing the bigger of the two. "Civil." He practically spat the word. "I'on't know what you are to Kazuki, Kazum-something, but I'd step the fuck back n' let him take responsibility for the shit he says for once in his God damn life. He's gonna apologize, or yeah, we're gonna have a problem."

Location: Laughing Worg Tavern - City of Thorinn, Aetheria

"...Clearly she's the reason behind both altercations that had just happened; she'll bring nothing but problems going forward."

"What is your damage, exactly?" Graves's hand hit the table hard enough to knock over the rest of Alex's ale. He did his best to keep from yelling. Just breathe. Big, deep breaths. Yelling was easy. He did it all the God damn time growing up. It was easy to yell- to get physical. It was a whole lot harder to keep the peace. And that was what they were arguing about, wasn't it? Keeping the peace. Building something better so nobody else had to die.

"Its Kalie's fault she cried, did I get that right?" He pushed out his chair before he'd realized it, but he didn't get up. Not yet. Keep the peace. "Its her fault she watched people die and lost her shit? 'Cause I don't know if this'll come as a shock to you, Kazzy, but not everybody's been through the ringer. Not everybody's seen what I assume you n' me have. It takes normal people time to adjust."

"-And you wanna talk about 'minimal contributions?" And now he was up, and a handful of words he didn't really mean were on the tip of his tongue.

Location: Laughing Worg Tavern - City of Thorinn, Aetheria

Graves didn't make a point of hiding his stares. He'd never been good at that- hiding how he felt. It'd gotten him in a hell of a lot of trouble throughout his life. Gotten more than one black eye for an off-hand comment at the wrong person. Still, he never learned. Refused to, he supposed. It wasn't like he had some idealistic attachment to naked honesty, or some high-minded reason for his stubbornness. Truth is, Andrew was just kind of a lazy asshole who could get away with showing his heart on his sleeve.

Sif's dumbass brother with a name too stupid to remember was picking a fight with Rael, even after the denizen had broken up the last one and told 'em to buzz off. Was he bein' some sorta blowhard prick, defending Kalie's 'honor?' Or did he just like the look of a fight?

'Wanna knock his block off either way.'

Once that altercation was broken up- by another denizen acting out of character- he watched Seele go stumbling up the stairs after Rael. That put his mind at ease. She was better at talkin' people down; he knew from experience. Something about her demeanor disarmed people. To Graves it was as much weird voodoo magic as the shit she did in the dungeon.

Kazuki started talking again. Talking about being wary of certain kinds of people. About how reaching out to Mystic Prophecy would be a mistake. That made Graves' face twitch, but he didn't comment. He still hadn't shifted his gaze to look at the bard; he kept them locked on the stairs. It took him a little longer than he'd like to admit to realize who, exactly, Kazuki was talking about.

"Stop pussyfooting around it." Graves all-but-snarled, his eyes snapping up to Kazuki's. "Don't have time for that schoolyard shit. You don't trust Rael, what, 'cause she's an ass? Hate to break it to ya, buddy, but so are half of us. 'N she's better than the rest of 'em, too."

He paused, turning around in his seat to face Kazuki fully. A few seconds went by as he allowed himself time to gather his thoughts. "The girls from MP are good people, too. Even if Luci's been..." He sighed. It hurt to be a jerk about it, even if it was true. "Insufferable 'bout blaming us for somethin' outside our control. She's good. Not just-" Graves motioned swinging a sword. "-But, y'know, good."

"Rael, Pris, the...leaf...girl. All of 'em are. Just gotta give 'em a chance to prove it. If you don't, I'm out. S'that simple." It was sort of uncomfortable being this nice for so long. Maybe he should hit Alex to balance it out?

Location: Laughing Worg Tavern - City of Thorinn, Aetheria

"Well, sounds like you put a lotta thought into this." Graves sighed, settling into a chair beside Alex. Teamwork had never been one of Graves' strong suits. He had always excelled in Pariah by avoiding other people- avoiding mistakes he had no control over. When Graves failed, as rare as it was, he always knew he could fix it. There was always an adjustment to be made, a move to practice. But when a healer failed to do their job, or a tank couldn't hold the line, what was he supposed to do about it? And the stakes were even higher now. Those little mistakes could cost them everything.

Still, the proposal wasn't without its merits. There were things one man could never accomplish alone, especially now that the margin for error was razor thing. He couldn't afford to grind out a boss fight. Couldn't afford to get ambushed traveling a road by himself. Something rumbled in his chest at the thought. A deep, writhing feeling in his gut that he couldn't quite interpret.

It wasn't the first time he'd felt it that day.

'What if I say no and somethin' happens to 'em?' He asked himself. Another, much more familiar pressure built up in his chest. He knew it to be guilt. Guilt and regret. There was that attachment again, pesky thing that it was. It had brought him back to the Worg and now it rang so loudly he couldn't ignore it.

After several, long moments of silence, Graves eventually nodded. "Alright." He muttered, looking from Alex to Kazuki. "Alright, you got a point. I'm in."

And it seemed the fun didn't stop. He craned his neck to look across to the other side of the tavern, where Alja- Kelly?- was screaming at Rael from the top of her lungs. There was a drunken, indignant rage in her voice. It was the kind of yelling one only did when they'd been holding something back for far too long and let it build up to a boiling point until it all came bursting out. Kelly was pissed. Pissed that Rael couldn't empathize with what the others were going through. Pissed that she couldn't keep her mouth shut about it. And pissed- if Graves' intuitions were right- that Rael seemed so fine with it all.

Just like that, Rael shutdown. Didn't say more than one word to Alja, just walked away while the bartender dealt with it. What the hell had she been thinking that made her snap like that? It didn't make any sense.

"God damn it," Graves muttered. "And I thought I was bad with people."
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