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William Fraser

Location: DttS Fade Between
Skills: N/A

Considering recent events, William hadn't been expecting any kind of concise answer, and he wasn't wrong. The two women responded to his question first, but the only thing he really learnt was their names. Or at least what they claimed their names to be. The woman in the pink dress introduced herself as 'Faye Masterson' also introduced the skull-faced man as 'the Baron'. For a moment the rest of her sentence threw him off, until he realised that she had changed who she was addressing, and it was this 'Baron' who she was asking to release 'Miss Clarke', presumably the woman that the Baron had his arm around. And as if on cue, 'Miss Clarke' introduced herself as Josephine Clarke. For the second time in as many moments, the Baron was introduced. William frowned slightly. More noble titles, and in the Baron, someone who looked even more ill-suited to the title than the Duchess. That was not the only thing about this unusual trio that stood in contradiction. Faye had been calling for the Baron to release Josephine, and yet the latter seemed more than comfortable in the mans clutches. Both women had felt the need to introduce the Baron before he had a chance to himself, and yet neither introduced the other. And perhaps most disturbingly for William, both had ignored his second question as if he had never even asked it. His mind was racing with the possibilities. Either they were as clueless about their situation as he was, or they were keeping the information to themselves. Before he could start to put the pieces together, the Baron spoke.

The skull-faced man had been the first to notice William and the Duchess arriving, and if he was at all phased by them, he didn't show it. He confirmed his title, but gave no other name, but he at least answered William's question, claiming to not have had a hand in bringing them to this shadowed realm. William didn't trust him for a moment, but at the moment, he seemed to be the only one with any real sense of what was going on. The insinuation in his tone as he leered over Josephine suggested he wasn't going to be playing the role of a knightly savior, although the skull drawn across his face might have already been a clue in that regard. The snake that slithered down his arm as he spoke, entwining itself around Josephine's body, put William even more on edge. He had glimpsed snakes before, of course, but in his experience they kept to themselves. This snake was different, it almost seemed to be acting like an extension of the Baron's will. He watched it warily, until the Duchess spoke again.

The Russian seemed to have regained her composure, introducing herself to the two women, although it was the first time William had heard her say her name. Elizaveta Romanova. William turned the name over in his head for a moment, before settling for the Duchess. Despite her being the closest thing William had to a companion in this strange starless world, he still barely knew the woman. And anyone who was that many rungs above William deserved the respect of her title, even if it was only in William's thoughts. Realising that he was now the only member in their unusual party without a name, William moved to remedy that, opening his mouth to speak. But before he could get any words out, the Baron spoke again.

The Duchess had been slowly moving towards the Baron, never taking her hand off the hilt of her sword, but the Baron's apparent warning seemed to fall on deaf ears. Whatever the Duchess could see, or sense, about the man, she clearly didn't like as she quickly stepped back. But if the Baron was phased, he hardly showed it, quickly turning his attention back the woman in his clutches, gesturing to lead her away. For William, the scene all seemed surreal. Not only were his surroundings otherworldly, these strangers hardly seemed any more grounded. All three of them had greeted William and the Duchess almost without batting an eyelid, and yet they must have both just appeared out of thin air. The music at the back of William's mind was a slow, eerie staccato that was doing nothing to settle his nerves. He didn't know if the three strangers were human, Soulless, or something worse. The only figure that he had even a glimmer of trust in was the Duchess, so it was to her that he would stay close to. At least until he had some idea of what was going on. Moving forward himself until he was just a pace or two away from the Duchess, still facing the three figures, William didn't release the hilt of his dirk. The Duchess had apparently reached the same conclusion as he had, turning towards him and asking the same question that William had been about to ask himself. To follow this 'Baron', or to set off into the fog. Much to William's distaste, there was only one real option. He shrugged slightly as he turned back to William, keeping his voice low.

"Whatever this 'Baron' is, he seems to know this place. For now, I fear he is our only chance of finding our way back to the others."

Turning back to the Baron and the two women, William tried to put on a charming smile as he spoke again. For now, he would wait and see how the other's would act, rather than risk doing something he would regret.

"William Fraser. A pleasure to meet you all, I am sure."

William Fraser

Location: Soulless Fade Between <~SNAP~> DttS Fade Between
Skills: Gislid

The Duchess acknowledged William's introduction, but she gave no introduction of her own. To William, she would remain simply 'the Duchess' for now. Although 'The Great Bazhooli' had addressed her as a 'grand' Duchess, William struggled to connect the woman that he saw before him with an even more regal title than the one she already had in his head. Although she was clearly powerful, and her knowledge seemed to dwarf William's own, at least in matters of the strange and surreal, to William, she certainly didn't look like the heights of nobility. But there was something about her, a presence that she had maintained since she had first emerged from the flock of birds in front of the carriage what seemed like an eternity ago. William didn't know what it was, but he had brushed shoulders with nobility before, and this Duchess was something very different.

For all her presence however, to William she still seemed to be speaking in riddles. Something caught his eye though. A symbol, carved onto one of the crumbling stone walls. It had half-faded, but William could make out enough of it to recognise it as the same symbol that the Duchess had etched out on the floor of the church just moments before. Perhaps the Duchess really did have control over their journey to... wherever they are. That, or something really had drawn them here. William turned towards the Duchess, opening his mouth to question her about the symbol. He half-heard the less flamboyant of the two Russians introduce himself, but before William could speak, the world turned inside out. Again.


For a moment, there was nothing but shades of black and grey. The same nausea from before struck William again, but he had braced himself for it this time. There seemed to be thick fog in every direction, but then details started to emerge from the darkness. He might have been prepared for the nausea, but he was far from ready for the phantom that loomed out from the shadows. If he had been in the unknown before, he was surely now in hell, for it must be Death himself that stood above him. William's blood ran cold, but after an instant, he realised two things. The first was that the phantom wasn't swooping forwards to claim William's soul. And the second was that he wasn't alone.

The presence of a face he knew, even slightly, did plenty to reassure William, even if the uncertainty in her usually assured voice unnerved him. But it was the others that unnerved him even more. Two women, a man and a... snake, all in the shadow of the phantom. That, however, was as far as William's understanding went. The three figures were all dressed in a manner totally alien to William, and the man's face was painted to resemble a skull. At least, William hoped that his face was painted to resemble a skull. The thought of the alternative sent a shiver down William's spine. It took him a moment to process that the man had just spoken, and that William must be one of the 'new guests', although their surroundings certainly didn't seem like a party. The Duchess seemed to recognise the figure, and the edge to her voice did nothing to settle William's nerve. Instinctively, he moved his hand to grip the hilt of his dirk. Although he felt he already knew the answer, he glanced towards the sky for a moment, or at least where the sky should be, behind the rolling fog. Just as before, there were no stars. But wile before he could have passed their absence off as his mind still recovering from his sudden transportation, now there seemed to be a choking emptiness where the stars should have been. They weren't shrouded, they simply weren't there.

Trying to push the thoughts of the emptiness from his mind, William turned back to look at the three figures. Keeping his hand on the hilt of his dirk, careful to not take his eyes off of the figures, William spoke, trying to ignore how his voice seemed to echo in the void.

"Who are you? Did you bring us here?"

William Fraser

Location: Soulless Fade Between
Skills: History (Scotland), History (England)

Had everyone gone mad? William was still fighting back the urge to be sick, trying to ignore the implications of a starless sky, but the pale woman seemed more interested in the beauty of their surroundings. Even her saying that they were 'elsewhere' did nothing to help William's understanding of what had just happened. She even seemed to be crying as she took in the ruins that surrounded them. As the Duchess seemed to recover from their surreal journey, William hoped that she would be able to shed some light, or at least share his disbelief at the pale woman's apparent delight at their surroundings, but he couldn't have been more wrong. She seemed as unsure about what had just happened as William was, and agreed that their new surroundings were beautiful, albeit in a unique way.

It was all William could do to stop his mouth from falling open in disbelief. He knew next to nothing about his current companions, in fact the only member of their group that he had had any sort of real interaction with had just faded away with the rest of the church. He didn't know any of their names, and yet he had been flung to this starless 'Elsewhere' with no-one but them for company. For all he knew, they all were used to these spiritual transportation, but for William, this was diving into the unknown and finding there was no bottom. His head was spinning and it took all of his effort just to listen to what his strange companions were saying. The pale woman spoke again, mentioning her father, and suggesting that wherever they were had some connection to him, and to the name she had said just before their journey, 'Belladonna'. None of it meant anything to William, but as he braced himself, he started to feel a little bit more in control.

By the time 'The Great Bazhooli' addressed him, although not by name, William had managed to stop the world from swimming. The urge to be sick had faded, and in the back of his mind, a low tune had sprung into life, giving William a sense of order even amongst the chaos of the last few moments. If nothing else, the sheer cheerfulness of the flamboyant Russian was contagious, and William managed a slight smile as he straightened up. 'The Great Bazhooli' had done something to help William know his new companions a little more, and if he was to be stranded here, then he may as well introduce himself, as he subconsciously put faces to the names that the Russian had just said. The man that had saved William earlier was 'Constantin Firewalker', which meant the pale woman must be 'Lady Crypt'. He had heard of the family name in England, but only enough to know that they were Peers. When he spoke, he didn't address anyone in particular, instead looking from one face to the next.

"Forgive me. I think in all the excitement, I never introduced myself, and if we are indeed all here for a reason, then I should remedy that. William Fraser, at your service."

He resisted the urge to bow, deciding to leave the theatrics to 'The Great Bazhooli'. Speaking of the Russian, William glanced around at their surroundings as he pondered the other man's suggestions. As tempting as any fire trick sounded, William was only just getting over his first mystical leap, and he wasn't keen on repeating the experience so soon. He continued to look around as he spoke again, offering his own humble opinion on what they should do.

"If someone, or something, brought us here, then they have hardly laid out a welcoming party. So if we are here for a purpose, then it seems as if it is up to us to go and find what that purpose is."

William Fraser

Location: Soulless Fade Between
Skills: Gislid, Perception

William could hear the other's asking for an explanation, but they were little more than white noise now. To William, the air seemed to be roaring. His shortswords were whispering to themselves, refusing to sit still and silent when the air still burned of danger. But it was the violin, still strung across William's back, that was making the greatest noise. To William's ear, the instrument was singing. Even before anything happened, the instrument seemed to know that it was going to, like it was yearning to be played, to echo the ebbs and flows of what was to come. William could hardly remember the first time he had heard the violin singing, to him, it had been singing since the day his father handed it to him. A part of him knew that the violin lay silent, that it only played when he played it, and for a while, he thought himself mad. It took years for him to recognise the singing for what it was. William's life had revolved around music for so long, that the lack of it left him cold and on edge, so in those moments of silence, or chaotic noise, William's mind filled those moments with music, even when there was none.

'The Great Bazhooli' joined the pale woman in saying an impromptu farewell as he approached the Duchess. Whatever the three of them were about to do, whatever this 'Gologramma' was, none of them were expecting to be coming back. William could only stand and watch, because there was nothing else he could think to do. The things that were happening were beyond his grasp, and far beyond his control, the music seeming to stream from his violin building to a frantic crescendo. The haze still clung to everything, so it took William a moment to realise that his surroundings were beginning to fade away. He turned towards Millicent, opening his mouth to say something, but she was already gone. He was no longer standing in the church, and he could only watch in disbelief as the world around him fell away. He saw a desolate landscape, nothing but dust in every direction as far as he could see, then rivers of darkness snaked across the ground like veins, and finally, a building, seeming to rise from the dust as he hurtled towards it, and then suddenly, he was still again.

William's head was spinning, his stomach felt like it had turned inside out, and he was desperately fighting the urge to throw up. Whatever had just happened, he certainly hadn't enjoyed it. Looking around, William noticed two things almost simultaneously. Firstly, he wasn't alone, several other's from the church were also standing around him, and secondly, it wasn't everyone from the church. He glanced from one figure to the next, making a mental check in his head as he did. The pale woman, the Duchess and 'The Great Bazhooli' were still holding hands, and the other Russian man was standing over them still. But of Millicent, the Irish woman, the blonde and the bearded scholar, there was no sign. It took William a moment to find his voice, his mind still struggling to keep up with everything that had happened. A hundred questions tried to pour out of his mouth at once, but he managed to restrain himself to the most burning one.

"What the hell just happened?"

Almost on instinct, William found himself looking upwards. The building they were standing in might have been grand once, but it was half-ruined now, and a clouded sky opened up above them. During his training, he had spent countless nights looking up at the stars, and he had grown so familiar with them that he could see their lights even when they hidden to others. But something was wrong. They weren't there. He strained his eyes, trying to find the pinpricks of light that he had seen a hundred times before, but still nothing. There was a chance that whatever ritual had just been performed could have thrown him off, but it was the other possibility that sent a chill down William's spine. The possibility that he couldn't see the stars because they weren't there. Tearing his eyes away from the eerily empty sky, William looked back at the others.

"And where are we?"

William Fraser

Location: Gretna Green - Church
Skills: Perception, Wisdom, Cnut, Kadlin

Despite William's best intentions, no-one rushed to take up his offer of first aid. The Russian man that had saved William earlier didn't even acknowledge him, despite the wound from where the creature had struck his arm, instead turning his attention towards the blonde woman's requests for a weapon, and searching for some animal, a 'Dieter', whatever that was. It was the other Russian man who was the first to respond to William's offer, and William couldn't help but smile slightly at the theatricality of the response. 'The Great Bazhooli' certainly suited the flamboyance of his outfit, and something told William that the Russian was a valuable ally to have, and no doubt an excellent drinking partner as well.

The Duchess was still taking sips from William's flask as she recovered from the ordeal, and amongst all of those gathered around the alter, she did seem to be the one with the best grasp on just what was going on. The white haired man with the notebook gave off the air of understanding, but his thoughts never seemed to linger long enough for him to fully grasp them. At least the Duchess seemed to be all there. But even as the group continued the endeavor of understanding where the creature had come from, or even what the creature was, most of the ideas went over William's head. He was not one for sweeping theories or spiritual planes. In truth, he was already thinking about whether the encounter could make a good song. He'd take some creative licence of course, mainly leaving out his own ineptitude, but the story of the women descending upon the creature of shadow, light streaming through a stained glass window and framing the scene with mottled reds and yellows... Now that could be something.

Something broke William's train of thought, even as he subconsciously tapped a beat against his leg with his finger. It took a moment for him to realise what it was that had interrupted him. It was the sound of movement, faint and almost lost beneath the conversation, but as he turned towards the alter, he saw that he was not alone in noticing it. Although he wasn't entirely sure what 'it' was. It looked like a flower, sprouting from the ash, light seeming to spill from within the petals. Instinctively, William's hand moved to grip the hilt of his dirk. He'd never fought a flower before, but then he'd never fought a shadow until a few moments ago, so he wasn't taking any chances. The words that seemed to come from nowhere and everywhere all at once did nothing to calm William's nerves. Three times the voice repeated the same phrase, but it didn't mean anything to William. He found himself looking around at the other members of the group, wondering if it was any clearer to the others.

The pale woman murmured a name, 'Belladonna', but that didn't mean anything more to William than the haunting phrase did. Most of the other's looked just as lost as he was. But not the Duchess. She looked almost like a woman possessed, her lips moving seemingly with a will of their own. It took William a moment to realise what it was that she was saying. 'Three'. The same word, over and over again as her hands moved through the air. William wasn't sure whether he should take a step forward to try and help her, or a step back to put some distance between himself and the Duchess. As it was, he settled for holding his ground, and not releasing his grip on the hilt of his dirk. It was clear that what she was saying had some meaning to the Duchess, but that meaning was lost on William. The haunting voice had repeated it's phrase three times, the flower that had emerged from the ash had three petals, but was that anything more than a coincidence?

All at once, the Duchess had fallen to her knees, etching a strange symbol in the ash and the dust, before reaching out for the pale woman and 'The Great Bazhooli', her eyes seeming to plead with them, begging them to understand. And apparently, the pale woman did. She spoke with some hesitation, but there was a determination to her words as she said what sounded like an impromptu farewell to Millicent, before moving to take the extended hand of the Duchess. William gritted his teeth slightly. The haze still hung over them, but it felt like something else was there now too. He didn't know if it was merely tension, or something more spiritual, but something was about to happen it, he could feel it.

William Fraser

Location: Gretna Green - Church
Skills: N/A

The Duchess took the offered flask gratefully, and took several long drinks from it. He smiled slightly in response to her thanks, glad that he was finally able to contribute to this group, following his failure at landing a blow against the creature. Those who had had more luck had already turned their thoughts to the source of the creature, and William listened quietly as the conversation flowed around him. Despite the undoubtedly formidable experience of the assorted members of the unusual group, no-one seemed to have encountered anything like the creature before. The Irish woman suggested that it might have been linked to the corpse still sprawled across the alter, perhaps even an embodiment of his soul. The very thought sent a shiver up William's spine. He had never known "Ludwig" in life, but could such a creature be born from anyone's soul? It might have just been speculation, but the idea seemed to cling to William's thoughts.

He had faced the creatures that lurked in the shadows, he had learnt first hand that the things that go bump in the night were sometimes all too real. Ryne, Hraew and even Cargast, those he understood, or at least as much as anyone could. But the creature they had just faced? That was something different, and all at once, the hushed stories of the monsters that lurked in the far-flung corners of the known world started to seem a little more believable. Realising that the conversation had moved on, William glanced around at the Duchess as she spoke again. The white-haired man had also come closer to the alter, and was seemingly fascinated by the whole affair, scribbling in a notebook as he talked, seemingly to himself. The promise from the Duchess that whatever they had just faced was unrelated to the corpse upon the alter did little to reassure William. She was right that the haze still clung to everything, although by now William barely noticed it, and whatever Rutherford was, he was still out there somewhere as well.

For now though, the group didn't seem to be in any rush to leave the supposed sanctuary of the church, and while they lingered, he may be able to be of some help. Satisfied that the battle was over, for now, he slid his kopis home in the sheath across his back, and then turned to glance between the various members of the party. Although Millicent seemed only slightly phased by her brush with the creature, and the two Russian men seemed to be remaining stoic, William could not know if any of them were simply hiding their pain, or in fact if any other member of the group had been injured in the chaotic fight. There was only one way to find out...

"If anyone is in need of any medical attention, I believe I could be of some assistance."

William Fraser

Location: Gretna Green - Church

Before William could strike at the shifting form of the creature, his window of opportunity seemed to slam shut. It seemed as if the group seemed to smell blood, and nearly every member of the unusual party had descended upon the alter, and the creature that was upon it. William gritted his teeth slightly as a figure moved in front of him, forcing him to pull his sword-stroke short. He didn't have time to see who it was that had moved into his path, the haze was still thick, and the smoke that seemed to make up the form of the creature was stinging William's eyes. He refused to simply stand back and let other's risk their lives against this hell-spawn. Not while he still drew breath.

Eyes narrowed as he strained to see, trying to ignore the overwhelming scent of burning that was assailing his senses, William saw half of an opening. Quickly moving around the alter, grateful that he was able to keep his footing, William arrived at the back of the alter, the creature spread out before him. He could feel the heat in his blades like a burning now, radiating through the hilts and heating his very blood. They yearned to be used, and William was hardly about to deny them. He pulled his kopis back, and swung it down towards the alter. Somehow, for the third time, William's mark was untrue. The blade bit deep into the surface of the alter, but of the creature itself, it didn't even graze. The shadows seemed to writhe and morph wherever William tried to strike. Before William could attempt another blow, someone stole his chance.

The chant of the Duchess seemed to rise to a crescendo, and the cream that the creature let out, that echoed around the church and seemed to split the very air, was one of pure agony. Even through the haze and the smoke, the light, which seemed to be emanating from the Duchess herself, was practically blinding. It took all of William's willpower to not reel back, trying to seek shelter from this assault on his senses, but all at once, it was over. The cry cut out, and the light faded as quickly as it had arrived. William could only look in bewilderment at the ashen remains, and the pale woman standing over them, sword in hand like an angel of death. The smell of sulfur filled the room, but as far as William could tell, the creature was dead. Or gone at least. He wasn't sure it could even be truly killed, but he would settle for gone.

Shaking himself out of his shock, trying to slow down his pounding heart, William glanced around at the rest of the group. He may have been all but useless during the fight itself, but now that it was finished, he might be able to be of more use now that it was over. He'd spent long enough travelling through the wilderness to have picked up a solid enough grasp of first aid, and although for all e knew one of their number was far better trained, he would still look to help where he could. Millicent had been his first concern, considering her close brush with the creature, but she seemed to have brushed it off, even finding the time to congratulate the pale woman. The Russians were his next concern, and although the more flamboyant of the two men had barely seem phased by being thrown across the church, William's unexpected savior had also been struck. But when he looked across, it was the Duchess that caught his attention, slumped as she was.

When he heard her croak for water, his decision was made for him. Not entirely dropping his guard, William pulled his kopis free from the alter, and kept it drawn, but with his other hand he sheathed his dirk and pulled the flask from within his jacket. As he moved around the alter, he saw the blonde woman approach it, seemingly recognizing the corpse beneath the ash. She called out for some explanation, but William had none to give. He had never faced a creature like that before, and he hoped he never would again. Approaching the Duchess, and all too aware of the armed man standing guard over her, William unscrewed the lid of his flask and held it towards the Russian woman, keeping his voice soft so as ot not startle her.

"Here, m'lady. Water."

I'd like to call tentative dibs on 'Puranti' please

William Fraser

Location: Gretna Green - Church
Skills: First Aid, Perception, Cnut, Dexterity

The arms of the creature moved quicker than William's eyes could follow, darting around even as the creature itself was pinned to the alter. In truth, William had lost count of the arms, and he was beginning to doubt they could even be called arms. They were more like the tentacles of some terrible leviathan, lashing out at any threat to it's shifting form, almost seeming to act independently of each other. Another time, William might have been fascinated by this creature, but he didn't have time to think about it, not while he was so close to it that the smell of burning still overwhelmed his senses. Even as he moved back from the creature, still cursing his failed attack against it, the creature retaliated.

A shifting tendril of darkness lashed out, and it was almost upon him before he could even register the threat. He flinched back, half-raising an arm in vain attempt to shield himself, bracing himself for the impact. But the impact never came. Half an instant before the tendril reached him, there was a flash of metal, and the shifting darkness recoiled backwards as quickly as it had surged forwards. William managed to tear his gaze away from the creature long enough to see that his unlikely savior was one of the Russians, who had clearly decided to move away from the Duchess for now, a long saber clutched in one hand, freshly blooded against the creature. Or it would have been, if this abomination bled, or reacted to any of the blows against it with more than a shift in the darkness.

Before William could thank the Russian, everything seemed to happen at once. Another tendril lashed out, and this time, it found it's mark, sending the Russian tumbling backwards, his saber unable to banish the darkness for a second time. The other male Russian seemed to have fully recovered from his own brush with the creature, and hurled a knife towards the writhing mass atop the alter. His aim was true, but whether it truly hurt the creature, William had no way of knowing. A blur of movement passed William's shoulder, and he barely needed to look to know that it would be the Irish woman. She was a fierce warrior, and as he watched her strike at the creature with her stout club, auburn hair flowing and fire burning in her eyes, William couldn't help but think of the valkyries of legend.

A gasp of air cut through the noise, and William turned to Millicent in time to see that the creature's grip on her throat was loosening. Although no-one had attacked the tendril that was latched to her, the damage being dealt to the creature seemed to be affecting it. Before William could rush forwards again, hoping to redeem himself and be the one to free Millicent, he was beaten to the punch. He was almost stunned by the image that he witnessed. The blonde woman, the one whose beauty could inspire a hundred heroes to hunt dragons for her favour, was charging the creature herself, clutching an ornate candlestick. Despite the improvised weapon, the woman's strike was good, and as she bludgeoned the creature, Millicent was finally released.

To her credit, Millicent landed on her feet, but she was still gasping for breath. For a brief moment, William tore his gaze away from the creature, and looked towards the injured woman. Where the creature had been holding her the skin looked almost burnt, but Millicent was still standing, and considering William would need a closer examination to determine what medical aid he could offer, he decided to wait until the creature wasn't likely to cause more damage. Turning away from Millicent, William gritted his teeth. The praying from the Duchess faltered as a tendril flung her back against the wall, but she barely seemed to notice, clambering back to her feet and launching into the chanting again, hardly missing a beat. Despite what little he knew about the Russians, William could tell they were hardy folk, if nothing else.

Determined to prove his worth, William moved towards the alter again. The prayer of the Duchess may be the only way to kill this creature, but it clearly couldn't ignore sharpened steel, and if William could distract it from the Duchess, then he would willingly do so. Pulling back his kopis, William brought the blade crashing down towards the shifting darkness.

William Fraser

Location: Gretna Green - Church
Skills: Dexterity, Cnut

William didn't slow his pace as he approached the alter. He heard the words of those around him, but they only reinforced his intent. Whatever the creature was, it would not rise from the alter, not while William stood. He had hesitated for too long, hanging back while others had whetted their blades, wary of committing himself too soon. But now, the whispers of the two blades he held had grown into a roar, and he could feel fire burning through his veins. Maybe he had been too long gone from the halls of the frozen north, but he was remembering it now, and he could have sworn the handles of his swords were becoming hotter and hotter in his hands as he approached the alter.

He had seen the two blades brought forth from the forge, and although he had been little more than a boy, the image of the glowing steel had been burned into his memory. Playing the fiddle, the notes and music becoming his voice and his passion, that had been William's nature. But the way in which the swords became an extension of his arms, that had been born from countless hours of difficult training. He still remembered the bitter cold, the inky darkness of the night, they were as much a part of him now as the music was. But it wasn't just the training that had shaped William as a boy, it was the song of the land itself. He had heard the legends of the frozen north, and in the seemingly never-ending darkness only held back by the defiant flickering of firelight, and the howls of wolves carrying on the air, they had not seemed so far-fetched.

Another scream tore past William, and again the creature recoiled. He was vaguely aware of the Duchess moving around the alter, before she began to chant in a foreign language for a second time. Almost as if it was roused by this, the creature lashed out, but it wasn't towards the Duchess. As William neared the alter, one shadowy hand caught Millicent around the throat, lifting her from the floor with seemingly little effort. Millicent struggled, but the wispy form of the creature barely seemed to notice. But it was material, William was sure of it. Despite the thickness of the haze, and the shifting form of the creature itself, it had felt some of the blows leveled against it. Whether it could be killed with mere steel, William didn't know, but for now, all he needed to do was hurt it.

Teeth gritted, William finally reached the alter. Barely slowing his pace, William swiveled on his heel slightly and brought the blade of his kopis down towards the creature's arm. Maybe he was simply off balance, or maybe the creature had moved at the last second, but William could only snarl as he watched the blade hiss through nothing but air. The creature still held Millicent, but William's momentum carried him forwards. Taking another step towards the alter, and the creature upon it, William's grip on the hilt of his dirk shifted. The bitter smell of burning was almost overpowering now, his eyes stinging, but he didn't slow. With all of his momentum, William drove the point of his dirk down towards the creature, meaning to pin it to the alter. As he did, a half-forgotten warcry escaped his lips.


At the last moment, William felt his footing slip, just an inch, but as he drove downwards, he could already see the creature writhing, it's form seeming to shift even as he tried to focus on it. The sharpened point of the dirk bit into the surface of the alter, but it did not strike the creature. Cursing, William wrenched the blade free, stepping quickly backwards to try and distance himself from the inevitable retaliation. He had failed to hurt the creature, but his blades were singing, and now that he had thrown himself forwards, he was not the type to retreat.
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