through the clouds.
There is nothing more frustrating than an obstinate man, and none more perplexing than the hunkering mass before her. Alice can barely keep up with his strides, considering he beat her by over a foot of height, but she is thankful in the least he has the sense to grab her so that even if her uneven steps were to give out beneath her, she won’t fall flat on the scorched earth. How he thinks he hasn’t done anything to her—up-ending her from her quiet little life—is beyond her abilities to comprehend. His words are pressing and so despite her reservation to follow him any further, being captured and tortured is much less appealing than running.
Alice manages to spare half a glance over a shoulder, trying to calculate the distance between them and captors, and sees [i nothing]. No neighing horses snorting fire and certainly no advancing guards. Something indeed was off about this very strange land. Even still, something told her that him going through the trouble of kidnapping her certainly couldn’t be from some mental instability. How had she not seen him before ducking into the alleyway? The narrow space could only comfortably let one individual pass through. Had he been waiting on the wall at the end, looking for any hapless victim to saddle through into his arms?
[i You have to trust me! You have to run!] She is rationalizing the impossibility to faking fear of his caliber. The tension required to raise the voice above certain octaves and pressure it to crack. The swift way he stretches through the wind and sprints through the thick brambles of forest. Surely this must be some jest orchestrated by her colleagues, made in good fun to distract her from finals—after all, she had top marks in class, and presented quite a threat. And this world! Clearly nothing was as it should! Water trickled in streams towards the skies, and the leaves barely swayed in the wind but moved in its absence. Alice attempted to recall, whether there was the sticky residue of some kind of hallucinogenic on his hands.
Hands reach out to keep branches from rebounding and swatting her in the face. The further she is trekking through after [i him] was frustrating, difficult, and coiled her chest in tight fits of anxiety. Her thoughts are whirling a mile a minute when she collides into the strong muscles of his back. [b “You could pay a bit more attention,”] the self-admonishing was soft, but no less audible. [b “Listen, I’m sure you’ve heard of multi-tasking. I’m not going [i any] further until you tell me what is going on. Did Charles and his minions put you up to this?”]
Alice rubs her nose, glares up at her companion, and stumbles off after him despite her threat at the soft growl that meets her ears.
The woman grabbed him by the arm. Eitomir stopped short and blinked at the woman, taken aback. She was crying, for some reason. Why was she crying? He hadn't hurt her.
"You threw her into a new world and ran away. I wonder why she's crying," the cat muttered. Distractedly, he half-turned towards her, but she was still invisible. Leech was her name, Leech was what he had always called her. He couldn't remember how long ago she had appeared beside him, as though she had always been there, but it seemed like it had been forever.
"I haven't done anything to you," Eitomir said confusedly, ignoring Leech.
"You haven't?" Leech mocked, laughing. "You [i haven't?]"
"I--this world, we--we need you. You're our only hope," he said. He couldn't help glancing over her shoulder. The army, the Queen's men, they were advancing, the dark blob on the horizon getting steadily closer, nearly close enough now for him to make out individual soldiers. "But there's no time to explain, not now. If I, if I--we would get caught. They're coming, they're after me. After us. I'll explain, but--later. You have to trust me! You have to run!"
He grabbed her arm back and started to run again, pulling her after him. The forest was just up ahead. There was a town within the forest, not too deep within it. With a little luck, they would be able to shelter there from the Queen's forces.
As they ran, he let go of her arm and sped for the trees, glancing back every now and again to make sure she was with him. The forest loomed over him, dark and ominous, and then they plunged into it. Even though the trees were nearly bare, the forest still seemed darker than the plains. Branches whipped at his face and thorns and roots caught his legs and feet. There was no path; the forest was still untamed and wild here. Maybe the Queen's soldiers would pause before they entered it; the forest was still considered dangerous, and few ventured to brave it. The monsters that had once roamed it had been all but wiped out, only to be replaced by the Queen's monsters. And they were more terrible and terrifying than the natural monsters had ever been.
Something screamed within the forest. Eitomir's heart lurched, and he jerked away from it reflexively. He fumbled in his belt and pulled out a small box; a triangular arrow popped up atop it and spun, then pointed in the direction of the town. It would point in the direction of anything he marked, and right now, that thing was the town.
"This way!" he called, glancing back at the girl and gesturing her on. "We're almost to safety!"
The sensation of falling – much faster than closing a short five foot gap to the earth—is sickening. Alice rocks and writhes and twist her way out of the certain grip of arms, resorting to drive her elbow towards his core but…the mud slides from under her feet, and she thinks, that her foot must have come out of the shoe. There is no star twinkling in the sky above and no smell of pine tree or exhaust to give her grounding. Alice couldn’t catch her breath. Wind comes and burrows its fat fingers against the side of her ribcage. Had she known the night would bring such a rattle of chill to chest, rattle her lungs about like the jerk of fish, she might have grabbed her wool jacket from home.
But there is suddenly a storm of ashes, twisting in the pale pastel light of the sky. The sudden landing jolts the base of her rigid spine and jars her senses. She grits her teeth and propels herself away the second arms come undone. The symphony of apologies creates her ear in a fashion that roars of desperation and sincerity. Floundering, Alice tries to find decorum within her, to find the breath that might set this entire debacle straight but falters at the sight before her.
The figure stands at and great height, easily dwarfing her. She is greeted by unclear gold eyes and hair as pale as slants of moonlight. The muscle that bound down his arms in thick chords give her nervous pause. Whatever beast of a man this was, is not something that exists within the comfort of her world. There are things which have been proven and things that remain hidden beneath the veil of what is discernable. But he, has risen from the cloud of ashes at imposing stature and looking towards the horizon with what can only be considered trepidation. But what is there to fear?
There is barren earth beneath their feet, and she is missing a shoe. There is a volatile hum that sounds beneath her feet as it turns and becomes warmth. The branches of trees stretched to the endless sky, devoid of leaves but a few still clutching on. The shades were wrong. No festival colors of autumn decorate its branches. Instead, there is some horror at realizing the vibrant colors of violet, indigo, and jade were indicative that she was not [i home].
[i This is impossible.] Struggling to make sense of her surroundings, she finds keener differences than the city she has known and loved. For as much information as she can ascertain from her land she’s now standing it, her greater resource stood in front of her. Was it her that he feared? Surely not by the savage way he has grappled her, drug her down into—no, she musn’t think such nonsense. There was too little at her disposal to determine the best method of approaching the situation: never before had she laid eyes upon him, so she could not have done wrong to him in some way. What was it that caused him to seek her out?
[b “Tell me what you want from me.”] She might have squandered her first question on something more diplomatic instead of bluntly addressing the reason for her abduction. Had he drugged her beforehand? Is that why she felt so groggily, as though her limbs were trying to acclimatize to the gravity here. Rather, she wanted to meet her uncertainty and fear head on.
The foreboding male decides otherwise when he belts out a panicked [b NO] and begins to run. Uncertain of what to do, she bounds after him, chest heavy and full and just—[b “Wait! Where are you going?”] Again, he is resistant and combative against her questions. His response this time is a snarling Shut Up that quietens her. Attacking him would only aggravate the situation and jeopardize her well-being, but some strange rationalize tries to assemble that he would not hurt her given his previously apologies. She just wants [i answers]. [b “Please—”] she blubbers, stretching a hand out to grasp him by the forearm. [b “I won’t report you. Just tell me [i what you’ve done to me].”]
The world he stumbled into was far from anything he'd ever seen before. Buildings rose all around him, tall enough to pierce the sky, taller than even the Queen's gravity-defying spire. He stared up, awestruck, at the pure-black sky beyond the buildings; there wasn't a single star in the sky. The sky was empty, void. What a strange world.
A monster wailed, and Eitomir jumped, curling defensively--but it was only a heavy hunk of metal atop wheels, a futuristic version of one of those automobiles only the richest could afford. He wandered back, out of its path and onto the white sidewalk the other passerby were staying on. And he remembered--he wasn't here to sightsee. He had a girl to find.
He cast his eyes about. She would be nearby. His portal had been aimed at her, rooted on her. It shouldn't be difficult to find her. He didn't know what she looked like, but he knew what she would [i feel] like. Now that he was empty, he would be even more sensitive to it, to the weak, gentle pull that those who had the potential to be adepts like him had, the only hint that they held within them incredible power.
Eitomir found himself staggering into traffic again and retreated into the alley he'd cast the portal to. Why did he feel pulled in that direction? Or--was she over there, across the wide road full of roaring monstrous vehicles? Eitomir looked at it and shivered. He'd never make it across alive. It was impossible. She would have to cross to him.
That was when he saw her.
She was crossing the road nonchalantly, no different from any other pedestrian. But there was an air about her, a deep-rooted pull he could feel in his bones, even from this distance. There was no question--it was her. She was the one.
He pressed a panel on his clothes and the old magic he'd weaved into them years ago activated. It wouldn't make him invisible, but it would make him harder to perceive. As long as no one looked directly at him or pointed him out, as long as he didn't make any sudden movement or noise, people's eyes would just slide past him as though he were part of the background. And the girl's eyes did just that. He was almost disappointed, for half a moment, before he remembered she was untrained; regardless of ability, someone who was unaware of their magic would be just as easily fooled by such cheap parlor tricks as the weakest mundane.
He let her pass him. His heart beat a hundred times, loud enough that she would surely hear it, fast enough that it seemed ready to burst. His hands were shaking. What did he say? What did he do?
She was passing. She was going to disappear. He'd never find her again. He glanced around, left, right. He had to, he had to do something!
Suddenly, she stopped. Her shoe had been caught on something, and she was trying to yank it free. This was his chance! Eitomir jumped away from the wall and grabbed her, slapping a hand over her mouth before she could scream. She struggled and nearly came free; he was weak without his magic, pathetically so. His gut lurched, and he yanked her backwards maybe a little too hard, calling his portal to him at the same moment. The two of them stumbled back and fell into his portal.
And landed in the ash of the plains. It flew into the air as they landed, a little cloud of gray sprouting up from a huge expanse of gray. The portal flickered and went out, popping like a soap bubble on the breeze. Eitomir released her and scooted back. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he said, and then his back hit something huge and solid. Slowly, he looked up, knowing what he would see, dreading it anyways.
A huge three-eyed cat loomed over him. Two of its eyes were where they ought to be; the third roamed its body randomly. It stared out at him from the cat's chest, then squelched over its shoulder and disappeared around the cat's back.
The cat cackled. "What do you think you're doing, Eitomir?" it asked, grinning wide to show all its razor-sharp teeth. "The Queen's men are coming, you know."
Eitomir scrambled up and looked around. Already there was a dark patch of motion on the horizon; the Queen's men, come for him! No, no, no! He was late, he'd been too late, he'd spent too long in the other world. They would never get away!
"Or maybe I'll just eat you first," the cat considered, lowering its head to his level.
"No!" Eitomir shouted, and ran away, floundering in the loose ash. He didn't want to be captured! They'd torture him, rip him apart, go through him piece by piece and put him back together again. He'd seen, he knew, he knew. And the cat was no better. The cat was worse. It would only take control of him. And who knew what would happen then.
The cat cackled and ran alongside him, easily matching his harried pace with long, easy strides. "Going to abandon her already?" it asked.
Eitomir froze and looked back. She was, she was the key to everything. But if they found her...they might be merciful. If they found him with her, they would not be. If she could run, if she could keep up, if neither of them would be found--that would be best. "Come on!" he shouted back at her. He couldn't help her. He had no magic. She would have to run on her own.
"Why should she? You just kidnapped her. Are you going to expect her to just jump to and come after you? You're an idiot. What part of this plan was supposed to go well? What part of this plan made you think it was going to succeed?" The cat shook its head. "Eitomir, you've truly got nothing left. Not even your brain. And now you're all out of magic. Why are you here? What do you think you can do? You're nothing."
"Shut up!" he snapped.
The cat chuckled and vanished, but he could still feel it right behind him, breathing down his neck. It was always there, waiting for him when he least expected it. And it would be there until the end of his life.
Most would certainly not speculate her to be the shrinking violet sort, prone to sorting through the male storm of chaos to find the silver lining of these storms; not used to muttering her disappointments of when her time should come in comparison to what reality was. She dealt in hard facts and few hurts. The sudden passing of her parents would easily be counted amongst those few, and as with every twenty three year old, her definition of mourning consisted of burrowing her nose further into an engineering book, and self-diagnosing. The past-time was less of a hobby than the destructive notions of a woman well-aware she was living on borrowed time. Alice would have precisely enough time to finish her biomedical internship, sort the rest of the Deveraux estate into worthy charities, and waste to nothingness by the rise of her twenty fourth birthday.
Yet, she couldn't quite help the sudden cringe at the thought. “I'm sorry,” the young reporter offered with a smile that didn't quite reflect in the eyes. Of many things, Alice was precocious and an overly accurate bullshit meter that's served her well in the years leading to her inheritance. She might have elicited more respect had she been as straight-forward and piercing as her personal digs had been: [i As the last of your family, do you have any significant others you will be leaving behind? Will you be funding a carpe diem salute to life, or using your last year for give courage to those suffering too?] Alice kept her cool, gray gaze level, and just as honestly as she answered those, did she respond.
[b “No, you're not,”] and promptly closed the door in her face. Amanda Winters succeeded in getting the most scandalized human-interests stories of the year and felt little more than pride at the thought. Alice Deveraux would not equate her name as synonymous to the condition haunting her family, but her colleagues would sensationalize her coldness with some acceptance of mortality. In all this time, the heiress maintained an air of regalia, stubborn pride refusing to allow her to compromise even an iota of her independence, but quite suddenly faced once more with her ultimate fate, she felt more exhausted than she could recall in the previous months.
It certainly must be the medications, psychotropic with intentions to alleviate the uncertainty, the paranoia. There was no cure to her torment but advanced medicine would find a way to curtail it until death would come to collect. As much as she wanted to live, she wondered and hoped, she would find relief from all the aches and gasps of breaths.
This hospital room served as site of her inoculation, prod and nutrition of intravenous fluids, the miscalculated measurements of veins to draw blood from. All efforts were made to accumulate a larger debt mired than she intended, and were she to die, she much rather in the goose-down comfort of her Queen bed, than the tiny twin mattress of here. Alice emerged from the room, intent on making a graceful exit, but drew short at the violent coughs assaulting her lungs.
Every inhale was a struggle, oxygen attempting to stay its course amongst blood and phlegm. Her eyes were pitiful hollows, searching for some solace to ease the labors of respiration and found mechanical bleeps, mint colored scrubs and antisepsis hands. The world moved in slowed motions, the sounds a muted cacophony bleeding one syllable inseparably into another.
The night air edges something other than a city scent; tired eyes drag from the sidewalk to the resuming flow of traffic. It is wet and damp, the wind palpable and thick with the smell of the wharf three miles to the East of downtown. Conversation radio comes in patches of white static to which fingers grip the knob absent-mindedly, scanning through available station in search of something mood-inducing. It is barely after eleven and a tiredness has burrowed into the marrow of her bones, dragging heavy eyelids to a near-promised close. A horn jolt her senses awake, flooding a spike of adrenaline that, with no correct stimulation to re-direct, make her lurching stomach flip rapidly in nausea. All in all, she raises her hand in thanks and bounds across the street.
The commute to the dormitory is normally half-hour from the hospital, only if she does not duck down the stone pathway between two buildings and a forest. Most nights, the woman wouldn’t even consider such a thought, but the hour was late and there was much to be accomplished still. A wary eye cast around her surroundings – where no strange men lurk in shadows – before she disappears into the dark mouth of the gated entry. There is silence, aside from her footfalls, and a charged quality to the air that she attributes to the storm. It is heavy and invasive, a suffocating curtain like an insect moving through amber.
Quite suddenly, strange things happened simultaneously: her heel caught in the damp mud, and in the midst of her yanking, there is a hand that comes creeping across her mouth. She taste ash on the skin, which prompts a hellish scream to rip from vocal cords. Her eyes find the hole that her heel has embedded into the earth – and when she digs it in further, squirming all the while in hopes the ground won’t give while she makes her stand. Alice’s tiny fingers are tearing at larger digits that resemble talons, and all her mind can think of is escape, how the crucial moment of ripping her foot from the ground and tumbling away must occur precisely. Instead, there is a pitched hum that assaults the air and her ears, a poignant sound that must drive dogs crazy if they ache her ears so. And then, instead of writhing against a male form she is flowing within and out of herself, down and down, and up and up into nothingness.
Light filtered bleakly through the thick clouds, casting everything in a grayish twilight. It was midday; exactly 12:07. He'd checked a hundred times, a thousand times. But looking around, it was impossible to tell. Far from the forest, where too many things had eyes, far from the town, where the Queen's agents were everywhere--the plains were the only place he could possibly conduct his magic. And they were lifeless and empty, nothing but endless expanses of ash that the trains occasionally rattled through and monsters lurked in.
Something yowled, neither far away nor nearby, and Eitomir looked up sharply. A dark shadow ran through the dusty air, four-legged and huge; he could hear its heavy footsteps crash down on the ash. He froze. Had it seen him? He couldn't waste any magic right now. If he did, everything might be ruined.
The huge creature stopped. It looked at him, it saw him. They locked eyes, somehow, impossibly, despite the immense distance between them. Eitomir shivered, down to his bones, fear washing over him, acid in his stomach, a heavy weight on his chest.
The creature yowled again and turned away, leaping into the distant darkness, and Eitomir breathed again. Thank goodness. Thank goodness.
He turned back to the ground, where he'd drawn a triangle in the ash in preparation. That would be his focus, the shape through which he sent his power. He had only one chance. They'd sense him when he used his power and send men after him, even if this spell wasn't already using up all the power he had available to him. It would take a month--no, several months--to gather enough magic to try again. And he would be captured by then, captured by the very men he was trying to destroy.
Eitomir closed his eyes.
Magic rose up in his chest, swirling as it came, burning through his veins and in his lungs, acid in his throat. After lying dormant for so many months while he gathered it for this moment, it was raging to be free from his fragile cage of a body. But he held it in for just one moment longer. First he had to shape it, focus it into his shape, his focus--the triangle. The magic fought back; as usual, it didn't want to leave its natural shapeless shape. It was stronger than usual, after being pent up for months. Eitomir fought back with all his will. Edges formed and smoothed, becoming twelve, eight, four, and finally three edges. The magic slowed in its rushing, calming from a tameless river to a smooth, tame, useful triangle.
Then he opened his eyes and his mouth. Magic came streaming out from his throat, hot and orange, glowing behind his eyes and through his skin. It rushed from him all at once and jumped to the points of the triangle he'd drawn in the ash, running like molten lava through the shallow furrows before arcing over the triangle, a translucent, shining bubble.
Exhausted and empty, Eitomir wobbled where he stood. Without his magic, he felt like a burned-out shell; he barely had the strength to keep standing. But he had to do better than that. He had to jump through the portal and find her, the one who would bring peace to this restless land.
With a deep breath, he jumped through.
//OOC: Since Alice follows the rabbit into Wonderland, I figure we'll meet in the real world and run back to this one. If you don't bring us back through the portal, I plan to end my next post back in Eitomir's world; I'm flexible, but I don't want to waste too much time in the real world. We can chat if you have a different idea.
All posts are either in parody or to be taken as literature. This is a roleplay site. Sexual content is forbidden.