| Why They Wander into the Woods |

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  1. [Allowed] Tweedy

[center [size19 [font "Edwardian" Sure it's the end of the world, but don't blame yourself.]]]


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[center [pic https://imgur.com/fNfD7lE.png]]
[center [size15 [font "Edwardian" The doctor had questions- and they were welcomed graciously, even if he had little answer. They were a distraction- no, a focus, something to bring him back to the task at hand and make his mind stop wandering where it shouldn't be, if only briefly. His signs, however? Nathan didn't think Christopher had it, did he? He listened to Nathaniel's theory as he mulled on the answer, hand staying in his hair as he thought. [b [#483D8B "There's Father Thymeus...he was one of the first, if not the first...I don't know much regarding him, though... A few of the nuns, those closest to him so far, though Nancy never seemed...particulary fond of him. Some of the priesthood- other than those, it's just been random villagers- Or, it seems like it- I mean, surely they have to have some sort of commonality- it has to have some sort of [i chain] linking the individal cases together, does it not? The public is panicking yes, but surely there has to be more common ground between the victims than just living here..."]] He was mostly thinking outloud, at this point. [b [#483D8B "I'm just not sure what- but the people here are so [i quiet] in their lives that even as their priest I know so little about them that I can't draw any linking familiarities-"]]

He stopped and looked up when he saw movement from Nathan, hand lowering now with seeing Nathan's out toward him, before Nathan pulled it into himself and fixed his jacket. The doctor almost looked like he could pass out, and it brought Christopher out of the focus he longed to stay inbedded in. He looked unbalanced- more than that he looked anxious, and Christopher felt guilt grow around him like vines, growing inward with thorns and pricking at his skin. He wanted so badly to tell Nathaniel that he had nothing to fear- that Merlot wouldn't tell anyone what he saw today, that it would be their secret-

But it would be foolish...he knew better. There were no secrets between men...especially not men who had something to use. He listened to Nathan's explanation and his eyes were soft and sorrowful. [b [#483D8B "I-I'm sorry to hear that- I'm sure the work of today did not help much, with that-"]] He tried not to show the full extent of his worry, instead focusing on the objects, on their removal-

No? His eyes snapped fully over to Nathan, eyes snapping to the hand touching him. His heart sped up, anxiety filling him. He didn't even shake the husbands hands, in sacrament- the touch of another man made him anxious. Doubly so, here with Nathan, lit up by moonlight, looking like a beacon in a dark world. He was stunned as he made eye contact, as he lost his train of thought, as all he could do was stare wholeheatedly at a man telling him to take care of himself. Nathan released him and Christopher swallowed silently, closing his hand and lightly digging his fingers into his palm to steady himself. Months of lonlieness lingered in his mind and he wanted just a night where he didn't feel so alone-

But he could not allow himself that. [b [#483D8B "You're...you're right, this close to the forest I should...I should clean this up-"]] It would get him away from Nathan...but God, Nathan did not look well. He looked like he was about to be sick. [b [#483D8B "You should...get some rest, Doctor Crane."]] Don't use his name for now, it was too personal. Not now. These were his rules. And yet, he could not be as cold as he was telling himself to be. Nathan needed to be here, needed to help him in this...needed to be close... [b [#483D8B "I'm sure your letters are important, but...it will be hard to write them if you pass out, first... Just...rest a bit, please... And perhaps I will see you back here, when you have the chance? For the patients..."]]

He needed out of here. Needed to focus. Needed to pray. He needed the image of Nathan bathed in moonlight out of his head. Were Father Reynard here, he would be telling Christopher that it was witchcraft, that Nathan should be burned because [i he] was causing the thoughts... Christopher saw it differently- even if it was witchcraft, it was still him that allowed them so much power. He took the few objects he'd already grabbed, the risky items, and stopped by the hall closet to store them away, to be retrieved when...[i if] Nancy ever recovered. From there it was down to the basement, as Patrice was always willing to bandage Christopher's wounds.]]]
  Merlot / indulgence- / 9d 5h 38m 51s
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[font "Times" [size15 He could feel himself, with the mount of the moon in the sky, breathe. Natha could scent the death of the day and how it swelled him with capability. Even more than he could do in the day, now he was at full tilt. And that, dangerously, was a hungry, uncontrollable power.

Nathan's eyes met Christopher's, hesitantly, and he could see the hunger in them. He could [i taste] the want in him on the air as if a perfume. It brought a bit of a flush rising as if a flame over his chest and up to lick at his face. His eyes dropped, feeling it bat against him like the temperamental heat of a flame, he could almost reach out and touch it. But he resisted- on a moral standing, and trusting that it was some preternatural thing that was tempting the Father now, nothing else. And that was dangerous. Brittle.

He nodded to Father Merlot, wondering if he knew- if [i this] man knew, who Nathan had not hours ago lectured about inaction and danger and responsibility- if he knew what Nathan meant when he said this. Perhaps he should stay and ensure this happened.

Nathan's eyes searched the floor as if they would see the answer there, slowly bringing themselves up and towards the man. And when they landed on Father Merlot, a fell intensity was in their depths. Not glowing like embers as they had before, but there was a fervence, a concealed moment that hesitated on eureka. But he had to question more.

"[#00CCFF What do you know of the victims of this plague before these individuals?]" Nathan said, voice soft, but quick, gesturing to the priest with a black lace roll of his wrist. "[#00CCFF What were your signs again? Emotional signs? Before fleeing into the woods.]" He came closer, hands coming out as if to clasp Christopher's, but he held back, folding his own instead against his chest. "[#00CCFF It may be a spiritual plague that is magnetized to a disposition, and that has now embroiled itself in public panic. Just like-]" he stopped himself from mentioning his previous experience with such a thing. He didn't even want to think it. A witch hunt.

His eyes went immediately to where Christopher's hand delivered itself. The nearness was enough to bring the iron tang of blood back into his nose, the physician drawing back. His hands pressed to himself.

The doctor's breath huffed out, seeing the blood smeared through Christopher's hair. His pupils widened, the man's throat bobbing. He shifted a step closer without realizing until his eyes returned to Christopher's, hand opening toward him as if to stop him. But then he pressed his hand back against himself, glancing down, and made to smooth his jabot, shifting the collar on his throat.

A breath escaped the doctor, a brittle, wry cough of a laugh as he almost smiled. But it was a raw, uncertain baring of the line of his mouth. Ah, such a simple thing.

"[#00CCFF I apologize,]" he murmured, eyes still avoiding Christopher even as he turned towards him, twisting his fingers together.

The man vibrated with an anxious energy, given to twisting his fingers in his others. He turned and paced for a moment across the room, eyes darting to Nancy on occasion.

"[#00CCFF I have low blood pressure. Not enough reaches my extremities. Rather permanent, I'm afraid.]" It was a common lie he gave. Rather it had been true once upon a time, and so it fell from his lips with ease. But his body had changed since then. Something else plagued him now.

His eyes snapped to Merlot again, hand following, sharp, grip tight but not painful. "[#00CCFF No.]" the doctor said, eyes pleading with him. "[#00CCFF Get it taken care of now. I beg of you. There are things in the night that can smell it on you.]" His fingers tightened a bit, unwilling to relinquish the arm now that he had it. Nathan swallowed again. "[#00CCFF Best- best be safe about it.]" he said, releasing him when he realized how hard he was holding him.

A pale hand tucked into a pocket on his coat and he pressed a handkerchief to his mouth.
  Tweedy / 13d 35m 29s
[center [pic https://imgur.com/fNfD7lE.png]]
[center [size15 [font "Edwardian" In that moment nothing else was so mystifying as Nathaniel Crane, drenched in moonlight. Christopher's chest felt tight with feeling, as his body kept in everything that he was denying, everything he wanted so badly to partake in- that was forbidden to him. Forbidden by himself, no less, for truly on he was denying himself what he wanted. And what was it that he wanted?

He took in the sight of Nathan, eyes denying his own orders to keep them away. They stared longingly, hungrily, as if it was the last time he'd get to. And then he couldn't look any longer. The tightness felt bubbling now, and he couldn't afford for his body to get shaky with the panic. He didn't look at Nathan, though he did feel comfort in Nathan saying there was work to be done- there was always work to be done...and with that, maybe he'd stay...just a little longer. Christopher only dared beg for a little bit longer...

[b [#483D8B "That's a fair point, I'd almost forgotten-"]] The God himself Nathan was here for the reminder, [b [#483D8B "Luckily with them all asleep, we should have times to make rounds to remove anything dangerous before they wake up...I'll make sure it gets done."]] He looked down briefly at the nun in his arms...who knows what she'd have done, with a little more time. And with Mrs. Cannes in that room...if she'd awoken, would it have been a scene like the boys in the woods?

And what was the purpose of any of this? This didn't [i feel] like a regular sickness...yet he couldn't find a similar connecting string to justify it as anything else- he wondered if Nathan had any theories on it, yet- Nathan was a doctor, he'd likely seen much more sicknesses-

He walked into the next room and carefully settled Nancy into the bed. This room wasn't really empty...rather, it was her own... But tomorrow, the infirmary built...he supposed it would be. The doctor approached to look at the patient and Merlot's first instinct was to give him a little space, to attempt to move out of the way, but froze briefly in his motion when Nathaniel's hand touched his.

So cold to the touch, and yet Merlot felt like he was heating up. This was...his mind was wandering into soft corners, and he suddenly felt so...alone. He forced the corners sharp and tried to push it away but...

His hands were so cold- He opened his mouth to speak, to ask if Nathan needed something to warm himself with- but closed it tight. Would the concern be unwelcome? He stayed silent until Nathan spoke.

Emotional? He thought about it for a second... [b [#483D8B "I've heard the other nuns say she was a bit...moody, yes-"]] His mind was elsewhere- he had to focus on the now, on this, on helping the [i doctor] in this. [b [#483D8B "I've never seen her be emotional myself, though, not much, at least. Though the day I got here I did hear her get into a rather...[i heated] argument with the late Father..."]] He hadn't asked her what it was about...she didn't seem like she wanted to share much of anything with Christopher, just do her work and avoid him as much as possible...

Part of him wondered if she'd somehow heard what happened, before he transferred here...so he never pushed it...

Though looking at her now, he wondered if that had been the right choice. How many mistakes had he made today alone?

A sigh fell from Merlot's lips, thoughts overwhelming...far too many. The archdiocese would be cursing his name, saying he'd been given a chance to repent and seek peace and instead he was off hunting some plague with a witch- He ran a bloody hand through his hair, streaking the blonde with blood and telling himself he'd wash it later, he just...needed a second. He moved lightly to lean against a dresser in the room, into the ray of moonlight dancing against the wall and interrupting it's path. There was something about the night that poured melancholy into Christopher, filling him up like the wine glasses that called to him at this time. His eyes wandered back to Nathan, dull green again and heavy with thought.

He could worry about whether or not he needed to repent for his feelings in the morning...for now, Nathaniel was cold to the touch and... [b [#483D8B "There's a fire place, down the hall...if you're planning to head out for the night, you should at least warm up, first."]] He hoped he wasn't pushing it...but it was all eating at him. [b [#483D8B "I'll start removing things from the rooms, then get these bandaged..."]] He pushed himself up from the dresser, apologizing to Nancy mentally for getting blood on the stained wood. He could wash it off later. For now, the picture frames with photos of her family, the needles for sewing, anything that looked remotely sharp, Christopher picked up and planned to put in the storage closet for safe-keeping.]]]
  Merlot / indulgence- / 14d 8h 58m 56s
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[font "Times" [size15 He laid the boy down and pressed a hand, gentle, to his forehead, feeling that thrum of a pulse in the boy’s body. Alive. Still alive. Perhaps salvageable. Soft, blond hair underneath his fingers. And blood underneath his fingernails, in his teeth. Anxiety pushed against the backs of his eyes, fear. What of the conscience in this body? Suppressed or vanished?

Something occurred to Nathan then. He hesitated doing this in front of the Father but perhaps he would take it as prayer. With that thought Nathaniel bent his head toward the boy, inhaling softly, and testing his scent.

He stood slowly, taking his time turned away from Christopher to gather himself again.

The moon’s presence was a comfort to him when he looked out and saw its face in the sky. Darkness was safe for a man like him. Usually. Now, he held a bit of trepidation in it. He knew his nature came out a bit more during. And with how long and dangerous his day had been, he was beginning to struggle holding himself in check. He hadn’t eaten.

Nathaniel Crane stood facing Christopher, the moon slanted across his face and shining along his black hair. It had at one point been tied back but had in their panic come loose in soft locks about his ears and brow. His skin practically glowed in the moonlight. Compared to that darkness, the man was pale and his eyes so blue- bright, and had a limpidity to them during the day that now was guarded, cautious as he looked to the priest now.

His chest ached with fear as he realized how little Christopher actually saw of him during a service. His scar prickled as he thought on this fear, as if warning him like a new, hateful set of hackles. Sensitive in their torn, nerveless numb, reminding him. How the priest was looking now, [i seeing] Nathan had to wonder what the man was guessing at. He didn’t know what he had revealed so he had little idea how to play it off, being seen like this.

Quiet talks between them on the sidelines during a memorial or ceilidh were rare as Christopher was often engaged by the bereaved and sought guidance from. A pillar of the community. Constant to them. And Nathan ever present, quiet in the background.

His job generally made him relatively nocturnal. Caring for the deceased he usually took to as soon as he had them in his care, that is after he took care of the living. Most of his job was handling grief among his duties laying to rest a loved one gently in their shrouds and coffins and powdering them softly to take away the jaundiced glisten of decay. He didn’t use chemicals. They were expensive and hard to come by this far out of the cities.

Nathan looked back up to Christopher, eyes finally pulling away from his fixation on the blood on the man’s hands. His palms pressed together, swallowing, and nodded. Good. The man was taken care of.

His relief showed in the sigh that escaped him, the slight slump of his shoulders. He still had comatose patients to look after, and Sister Nancy who has chosen to rest as Nathan had bid her. In hindsight he cursed himself for acting as he had. But he had felt panic, rushing and hot and seizing, at the cry for him. He wouldn’t be immobile when there was need of him. But he had done something dangerously obvious in how he subdued the nun.

What he wasn't expecting after the observation from the priest was to be thanked. His eyes snapped back to Father Merlot, brows pushing together. Shock fluttered in his eyes, and a startling, raw bloom of hope that ached deep in him at being wanted, laced in confusion, shifted across his features. He was wanted. He was- wanted? Perhaps the Father had seen less than he thought. Had assumed little, or had assumed something divinely offered of him in how he had acted- aided by the god Christopher Merlot believed in. He tried to keep these things from his face and swallowed, nodding.

Nathaniel Crane was wordless at the sentiments shown, feeling something tighten in his chest. Fear was making him feel delicate, confused at what he had hope was an invitation to continue helping.

“[#00CCFF I’m glad to be of help,]” he rasped with a nod, eyes dodging away. The doctor then licked his lips with a pale tongue. “[#00CCFF There’s still work to be done,]” he adds, taking a step toward the man. He gestured with a tame hand, fingers thin, pale and kept them close to himself, hiding their tremble. “[#00CCFF We need to make sure the rooms don’t have anything the patients can harm themselves with.]”

With that said, he followed Chris into the room he was settling Sister Nancy into. Her breathing had evened out a bit, and she was malleable for him, making a soft mewl in her sleep as she settled onto the bed that she was delivered unto.

The doctor leaned around Father Merlot, his hands still pressed together in front of himself, and watched with curious animation. And when she was set down, the man stepped around the priest, a hand out to give the two men space, and his eyes avidly on the woman.

As he passed, Nathaniel's fingertips brushed against Christopher's hand before he pulled the hand away in an apologetic motion, curling it to himself. The man's fingers were cold.

He leaned down to one knee at Nancy's bedside and she made another soft, wincing sound as he drew nearer. Nathan hushed her softly and drew closer, but kept his distance at the farthest he could scent her properly without making it obvious he was smelling her.

Sister Nancy's scent was near normal. Her incubation period so slight, so early, and so sudden. "[#00CCFF Such a strong response in such a short time...]" he wondered aloud, "[#00CCFF Is Sister Nancy known to be particularly- emotional?]"

It suddenly occurred to him. A child, a known tantrum thrower, where every emotion was a full body experience and the comparatively worst thing that could ever happen. And a woman in a cloister. Devout, aescetic, or repentant, or driven to the nunnery. Strong, emotional people. A mother, stressed day to day with the weight of three tiny worlds, and a husband and a household. Poor farmers in a small town...
  Tweedy / 15d 1h 33m 52s
[center [pic https://imgur.com/fNfD7lE.png]]
[center [size15 [font "Edwardian" The emergency was dealt with and yet still a tension hung high in the air. Not hot, racing, stabbing tension- rather something cold, slicing into his chest and burning far more than the kerosene in his wounds. He never considered himself [i close] to Doctor Crane...he knew their relationship was entirely professional, minus his...lingering eyes. Yet this feeling in the room could only be described to him as cold distance, possibly distrust. It wasn't too unfamiliar...

But his heart ached the same as if it was new. He bathed in the silence from the doorway as Nathan put the boy down and settled him, bathed in the moonlight coming through the window, and inside he stirred. He had something of a stability with Nathan- he was there at funerals, a steady face... Any other priest would likely be shouting the accusations of witch at the man already...

The church would want him to do the same... But Christopher couldn't. He'd never been the witch hunt type, anyway...

Besides, this...plague, curse, possession- [i whatever it was]...he couldn't do this alone...

He eyed his hands, bloody and covered in oil, his robes, tattered and torn and covered in dried and new blood...and then Nathan as the silence broke, gleaming in the small amount of moonlight shining in. He smiled, but sadness reached his eyes first. [b [#483D8B "Yes, she...she'll be able to bandage it just fine."]] He didn't want Nathan to leave. He feared if he did he'd never come back...he'd run, avoid being acccused...

Nathaniel asked if he needed assistance and he didn't answer the question. [b [#483D8B "Thank you...for everything today, Doctor Crane..."]] The title was probably far more appropriate than yelling his name had been earlier... [b [#483D8B "The members of the clergy...the other doctors in this town...they've done nothing to help in this, no matter how much I preach in front of them for action... You may be the only person in this town willing to do anything for these people..."]] His eyes landed on Nathan, nervous by his words, yet gentle as they looked at Nathan. [b [#483D8B "And I don't think there's anyone else I'd rather be helping in this..."]]

It was the only affection he'd allow himself. He needed to get things focused back onto work. They weren't friends...they couldn't be. ...there wasn't time, for that...and it was too risky, anyway... The doctor surely had no interest in being anything more than partners in stopping this, as should Merlot...

He turned, took in a deep breath, and glanced over his shoulder back at Nathan, heart racing and body hiding it. [b [#483D8B "You should come back when you get a chance...check on the patients. I have minimal knowledge in medical but...I'll keep notes, for when you come back."]] If he did.

For now, he rested Nancy in bed, made sure she was settled, and rounded up the remaining members to start on the infirmary. In the meantime, he grabbed his journal, leather-bound and dyed with berries, and took notes of the conditions of the four they'd saved from the woods.]]]
  Merlot / indulgence- / 15d 9h 41m 24s
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[font "Times" [size15 As things calmed, the great pressure in the room lessened. A breath was let go,the static snap of [i something] in the air relaxed as Nathan stood, useless for a few moments, his lips twitching with how he felt he shouldn't be touching this woman who was now for all intents and purposes passed out in his arms.

His eyes moved and watched Father Merlot come up to him. And he [i stared]. Nathaniel was still, his face paling, eyes dropping down. Fear poured down into him. He didn't feel the taste of a prayer on his skin, he only felt how dry his mouth had become, how tight his throat. He swallowed the tremble in his hands, he knew Christopher Merlot was staring at him very closely now.

He took a quick step back from the clergyman as he was released of his charge, eyes down. He pushed his hair behind his ear and looked at the pile of clothes on the floor, now stained and stinking with fuel. It cut through the air and distracted him, but eventually Nathan's eyes, startling blue, turned to Christopher.

He glanced at him, and then away again, shifting back and feeling his skin twitch a bit with the smile. It wasn't one that reached the man's eyes. It was, perhaps, the first smile he had seen on the man's face and after such an event he wasn't sure it boded well for him. And so soon. So early into an investigation.

Their attention was taken when the door opened, the doctor staying where he was with a glance at the resting body of the boy he had put, leaned against the wall, by the portal. Nathan's eyes glanced to the woman and then away again, down at his hands, the bag the boy was slumped against. He hummed absently in acknowledgment of what was said. He kept himself busied elsewhere as the two spoke.

Nathan moved without a word to pick up the young boy, the one he was forgetting the name of. It was either William or John... The Cannes family had the three children, and the boys were William and John. He couldn't recall which, but one was now in his arms, and the other was deceased in the woods.

He followed after Father Merlot as bidden, keenly aware that he had left his bag in Mrs. Cannes' room. But he didn't fear her, he feared the sisterhood and their priest. He stepped around the Father and laid the youngest Cannes down, settling his head, and brought a bit of sheet over him to at least capture a bit of warmth for the bloodied child. Heart still beating.

He turned, staying where he was and laced his fingers together, making to calm himself. Nathan's eyes moved back to the narrow window in the room and at how low the sun had become. The sky was pregnant with night. And he needed it.

He shook his head, eyes inevitably moving to Christopher's hands. Cut, bleeding, old blood and new. His pupils widened a bit.

"[#00CCFF We need to-]" his voice trailed off as he shifted, turning towards the man with kerosene and blood on his hands. It must sting. He swallowed, unlacing his fingers and stepping towards Merlot. They stopped in the air and tucked back against himself, the man also stopping. "[#00CCFF Treat the wounds.]" He cleared his throat. "[#00CCFF But I'm sure Sister Patrice can look after you. I need to write a letter.]"

He felt his throat tighten as he said it, face creasing a bit. Everything about before their rush to the woods came back. Armand, Zachary... he needed to summon one or both back. Who knew how many people had come to his door needing him this day. He couldn't know, he didn't want to turn them away. Not knowingly.

The man's thin lips pursed and he shifted a bit, glancing at Merlot as he sagged a bit under Nancy's weight. "[#00CCFF Do you need assistance?]"

[#00CCFF #00CCFF]
  Tweedy / 17d 52m 41s
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[center [size15 [font "Edwardian" Everything happened so fast that Merlot, well-versed in responding to things in a rush, practiced in demons turning on him in half of a second in sudden movements, required a moment to process what was going on. Only a second ago he was on the floor calling to Nathan in true panic and fear- and now she was dangling against the wall- held by a man Christopher held in- what kind of regard... He felt himself pause longer than he wanted even as Nathan [i ordered] him to put out the lamp. His chest rose in a deep breath and as his eyes lingered on Nathan and his mind fully processed that something about this man- [i this man] whom his eyes were constantly stuck too- was not...[i right]. He moved his hand to sit up and get into work, gaining a minor cut in the motion but- his few seconds of processing were over and the church was soon to be on fire if he were to do nothing-

In this, he could not choose to do nothing. He heard the sounds of the nun behind him cry of fear and frustration and his heart raced, but he focused at the fire. His eyes lingered in the oil as he grabbed clothes from the dresser to carefully wipe up the oil, contain it away from the fire long enough for him to place the lamp up and start turning out the fire itself. Going through the motions, avoiding getting lost in them. Douse the fire, remove the oil, remove anything that posed risk of starting it again. All while listening to Nathaniel behind him, the light shining through the window bearing witness to Merlot's pause as Nathan told the nun to [i Listen].

Was this proof of Christopher's own unholiness? To be so drawn to- if this was the way he feared it was. He heard no more arguing from the nun, the fire was not a threat now. He turned toward Nathan, breaths long and low, mind wandering in the silence. Nathaniel looked back and Merlot's eyes went where they always did- but those weren't the same eyes looking back. God what had he-

But Nathan was the only person [i helping] instead of [i running]. Even Chris had wanted to run and yet-

Nathaniel Crane, doctor and mortician, possible witch, did not run. He helped the people- he [i helped] when Merlot cried for help, both this morning when he called for the doctor and now. If this man, this- [i whatever he was], was more willing to help than the members of the clergy then-

He needed more time to think, than this. He stepped forward to take the nun from Nathaniel, a simple [b [#483D8B "Here."]] Falling from his lips. Once in his arms he took a second to just...[i stare] at the nun. [b [#483D8B "We'll need to find an empty room to place her...and the boy...and his sister."]] Don't think about it- He looked at Nathan, pausing for a moment and letting his eyes settle.

Nathan was still a comfort, and it was still a relief to see him okay. Witch or not, he had helped in this.

...more than anyone else...

He managed a smile at the doctor.

[b [#483D8B "Grab her brother- I think there's some empty room this way-"]] He paused, the door creaking open behind him, and then the sound of heels clicking against the floorboards. [b [#483D8B "Patrice?"]] The young Matilda rested in the nuns arms, held like a toddler on the hip. [b [#1e90ff "I see you got everything under control-"]] Merlot let out a breath like a laugh, [b [#483D8B "We have Nathan to thank more for that than I-"]] She eyed Nathan, a smile on her lips- likely the first Nathaniel had really seen from the woman. [b [#1e90ff "The girl will be fine, you'll be free to check her over when she wakes, Doctor. For now, where do you plan to keep them all, Merlot? If this keeps spreading and we're able to...restrain more, we'll eventually run out of empty rooms-"]]

Christopher paused for only a second before deciding an answer. [b [#483D8B "For now, the empty rooms. After everyone is placed you and the remaining nuns can build an infirmary down in the basement."]] Patrice paused. [b [#1e90ff "What of Father Thymeus' things?"]] [b [#483D8B "You can place them in my room for now- I'll figure out what to do with them later-"]] The nun nodded, and moved past the men to find Matilda a non-occupied room. Merlot motioned for Nathaniel to follow him down the hall to do the same for her brother and Sister Nancy.

[b [#483D8B "I imagine after all this you need rest, Nathaniel..."]] Merlot said as they entered the first room to place the boy down, waiting by the door for the doctor. [b [#483D8B "I can make up a room away from the infected if you'd like to stay the night, rather than take the long walk home..."]] Nathan hadn't been looking great clear back in the forest- Merlot knew the man must need rest by now. [b [#483D8B "Patrice and I can take turns watching over the patients for the night."]] Patrice passed by the room and peaked in, smiling once more at the two on her way to the basement.]]]
  Merlot / indulgence- / 17d 6h 30s
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[font "Times" [size15 As soon as the syllable for Nathan was in his throat, as her weight settled on him, it was off of him. Nathan had moved in a blur of motion. One hand was delivered into the high collar of her vestment, the other fisted in the front of her, near her abdomen where he was supporting her weight. Sister Nancy was off of her feet, shoes dangling in the air and unseeing eyes blinking, confused, at the ceiling.

Nathan's head snapped back to Merlot, "[#00CCFF Put out the lamp!]" he ordered, voice rough. "[#00CCFF Put it up!]"

The kerosene lamp base itself was mercifully unbroken, but the fuel was leaking out of the upturned item with a terrifying proximity to the flame, out the tall chimney and onto the floor. The smell, uncontained by the base of the lamp now, was pungent and leaking over the fragile, broken chimney. It leaked, ruby red, all over the floor, glinting on the open flame and soaking around the broken glass.

Sister Nancy gave a thin, rising cry of fear that turned sharply into frustration at the end. She wriggled in Nathan's grasp and brought his attention back to her.

"[i Release me-!]" she cried, fingers gnarling on his sleeve, the other grasping his hand holding her, digging in her nails.

Nathan's throat tightened, fear making his teeth clench. He looked to her, "[#00CCFF Look at me.]" the physician ordered, voice low, serious. He carried warning in his tone. Her eyes moved to his, unclear, but focused, seeing. "[#00CCFF Relax.]"

She went limp against the wall, head lolling back, but eyes still on him, brows arched; confused, lip trembling. Her hands still held him, but were loose now.

"[i I need to go,]" she protested.

"[#00CCFF Listen,]" Nathan's voice took on a sultry spice to it, low. Fear was eating at him, the thrumming, adrenalized terror that he knew what he was doing right in front of Christopher. He could see this. But he had to focus. There were three infected on the premises and his job right now was to keep them from eating Merlot, or infecting him physically if this affliction moved like an infection and not the emotional way he feared it might. And, also, to make sure the church didn't burn down while he did so.

He kept telling himself he had no choice. He had no choice. He had done well thus far. The smell of kerosene was blocking out the blood staining the boy's clothes, Merlot's, and his own. His throat and nose burned with it. It was a cleansing, chemical smell.

He peeked back to Christopher to see if he had the lamp under control. And when he did, Nathan's pupils had disappeared, swirling open into nothing to the point that they were his whole iris, and inside was that crimson/gold light. Reflecting like an animal's.

Sister Nancy's head lolled forward with a moan and she pressed it against his forearm holding her up, the one at her collar.

"[i I want- let me rest now...]" Sister Nancy mewled, soft, hand flexing on his sleeve, the sound of tears in her voice.

He looked back to her, lowering Sister Nancy to her feet on the floor where her legs didn't support her, or she wouldn't. He hummed, lips pursing, letting her bodyweight fall against him rather than to the floorboards, and arched to support her with his own. It was all a bit awkward. He felt his face heat, glancing up and away from her as her hands slid up and closed in his upper sleeves of his coat, pressing her face into his shoulder, like a sleeping child, where she settled quite candidly. His face twisted in discomfort as he was left with her like that, arms around her middle to keep her from slipping to the floor.
  Tweedy / 27d 20m 27s
[center [pic https://imgur.com/fNfD7lE.png]]
[center [size15 [font "Edwardian" His eyes threatened to drown Father Merlot, merely at a glance. And that glance felt like it spanned minutes longer than it did. So deep- they weren't normally this- they didn't- and why did he know that? Why was he so intimately aware of the color of Nathan's eyes- or the color of his cheeks- or coats he usually donned versus this, that he had only seen today? Why was he- a holy man- a priest- an exorcist- so acutely aware of all these little things about this man? The glance [i felt] as though it spanned minutes, and these minutes left racing thoughts in Merlot's head; there was clearly something [i off] about Nathaniel Crane, something unnatural, something wrong, and yet Christopher's mind pulled toward him as a comfort- why? What test was this?

Were the late Father alive, would he tell Christopher to burn this man, if he described today? Was he consorting with a witch, a warlock? And if- if he was- why then, would Nathan be the only one to help? There [i were] other men in the clergy. Able, strong, would have been able to subdue the sick easily- and yet this doctor was the only one to-

The minutes were over, the quick, brief peace was gone, replaced with worry, stress, fear, anxiety- bubbling in him threatening to spill out his throat. Nathaniel looked away, at the girls, and Christopher stared at the back of his head in slow contemplation. He had many questions for the doctor...but what if he had no time to ask them? He looked not unlike a first time exorcist, absent, focusing too much, shaky. But this was doctor, he'd clearly seen blood before- this was no first time blood jitters. This was something else and- even with the questions racing in Merlot's head he worried. He worried for Nathaniel, for his health, mental and physical, and when Nathan's eyes turned to him again Christopher's were more gentle than he'd liked them to have been.

He said no and Christopher debated pressing it- he trusted the sister with her life- but...Nathan took it back and said fine, and the priest got ready to run back to the church as quickly as they could. He watched Nathan pick up the boy and-

No- he...he couldn't have caught it already, right? His eyes weren't cloudy, a brief check showed him that, but they- his hands weren't that thin- he'd seen them in the funerals they were never so thin-

He needed to handle this quickly. Nathan needed to rest. [b [#483D8B "We'll subdue this as quickly as possibly and be back- do what you need with Matilda to keep her alive."]] [b [#1e90ff "Good luck, you two. May the forces that be protect you."]] Christopher shot the nun a vague look of warning, suspicion, and the nun gave a friendly half-bow before picking up the child and taking her out of view of the road.

And off they went. Christopher debated multiple times offering to take the boy from Nathan, but- he was scared to risk how his worry might sound. If it was taken wrong he could be cast out- he was pushing it as is with the archdiocese- if he got in more trouble-

His shuddered at the thought.

The church was not quiet, when they arrived, either, and that did not help ease his mind. Something crashed the second Merlot got the door opened, and the screaming could be heard from outside. [b [#483D8B "Find a place to put the boy down-"]] Was the first thing out of Merlot's mouth as he ran toward the room they were in. [b [#483D8B "Sister Nancy?!"]]

[b [#87CEFA "I had no part in it!"]] Confusion caused Merlot to stop, but only a moment before opening the door, by now Nathan likely behind him, he figured. He was greeted by the sight of Nancy, backed into a cabinet with a lamp on the floor, coughing with black...blood? Dripping from her mouth. Maybe he could do this peacefully? [b [#483D8B "Nancy I need you to sit down. You're going to be okay I need you to sit down so we can-"]] Her eyes snapped to him, hazy and glazed over, and it was like she didn't see [i him]. Not a friend, but some threat to her, surely- the way she lunged at him. [b [#87CEFA "I couldn't have! It was all you! You!"]] He couldn't dodge out of the way in time- and within a second of her touching him he was on the floor. He expected clawing but she froze- [b [#87CEFA "Forest...the forest...I...no, I shouldn't go but I- I should go-"]]

She seemed paused, for a moment- long enough at least for Christopher to shout for Nathan and try to kick the nun off of him.]]]
  Merlot / indulgence- / 52d 3h 56m 10s
[center [pic https://i.pinimg.com/564x/7d/4f/cc/7d4fcc935b1455e54f7ec0184a551fc7.jpg]]
[font "Times" [size14 Nathan was feeling too much. In that strange way your body kicked into overdrive when it was hungry, when it was low energy, so did his. Survival instinct, perhaps. And that was how his eyes, when they met Father Merlot's, were drowning deep. The blue had been swallowed beneath what they were now.

There was too much excitement and too many bleeding bodies around him now. He had to focus on what Christopher was saying, his hands hovering, absent. One held the stone away from him, the other just held in the air, flexing.

The doctor looked confused for a moment, glancing between the two sworn individuals in front of him. His eyes strayed on Sister Patrice with hesitance behind the confusion. He didn't know this woman. He had treated Matilda, and he felt even more now with the threat of him being overcome that he owed her more than just leaving her. Matilda was looking at him as well. She was confused, scared, and had just been attacked by her brother. Drying, recent tear tracks still stained her face. But. The more distance he could put between brother and sister in both their conditions might be a good idea. He could handle the child.

Nathan's eyes were on Christopher when he looked at him, holding the stone on the cord in his hand. His eyes moved to Patrice as he saw her rise, swallowing. Something about her bothered him. Something deep. But. That wasn't uncommon with the cloth. His eyes returned to Matilda, exhaling softly. Best to keep distance. Him included.

He didn't [i want] to leave her. Though he was still struggling to feel safe treating her himself. His breath pushed out heavier this time. He [i didn't] want to leave her. But the idea of leaving Merlot, the one he had precious little faith in combatively, in this pathology, in this unnaturalness, be the one to go and try and help the situation.

"[#00CCFF No,]" he said, eyes flickering back to Patrice. "[#00CCFF I-]" He hated these options. Why was the timing so sour with this? But. At least he bandaged Matilda. God's wounds.

"[#00CCFF Fine. We'll take him.]" he said, glancing at Patrice. "[#00CCFF You keep Matilda, and we will be back. We- need to go to Sister Nancy. Now.]"

"[#00CCFF I can- take her brother.]" he said, dropping the cord and the stone and bending to reach for the boy. His hands were pale, thinner looking than Christopher had seen before. Nails pronounced, left to grow, but short enough to not be in the way. Clean. Kept.

The man looked to Christopher as he rose again, the child in an arm, even with his size; easy to carry. Not even a bother of weight on him. He could have held him by the scruff if he so chose, but it was unsightly. Disrespectful. But he was still hesitant around the child he had to literally subdue chemically after he fought him.

"[#00CCFF Lead the way,]" Nathan rasped, nodding to the priest.

He swallowed, throat bobbing. Dry. He could do this. Control. Follow Merlot. Subdue Mrs. Cannes if needed.
  Tweedy / 72d 1h 12m 39s
[center [pic https://imgur.com/fNfD7lE.png]]
[center [size15 [font "Edwardian" Something wasn't right. Merlot could hear it in the air. Faint whispers, if he focused just so. As his eyes traced the forest line he came to a conclusion; the forest had seen this before, but this time, it was worse. His eyes narrowed and he tried to listen but- [b "Father."] His eyes turned to Nathan, full of worry and concern, and then focus. [b [#483D8B "Of course."]] He scanned the perimeter once more as he knelt in front of the girl, but barely got her legs up before catching something.

[#6B8E23 "...just a nun."]
[#2E8B57 "...maybe nothing, maybe it doesn't matter."]
[#9ACD32 "...ancy?"]

It was faint, he didn't catch all of it, and he certainly didn't know how Nathan knew- but he couldn't question it, either. In this, he didn't have time. Like the sign on the bag, what was in it- there was no time for thought, in this. He eyed the girl in his lap, then Nathan. He was at a loss. [b [#483D8B "They need medical attention. We can't just- but Sister Nancy was watching Mrs. Cannes."]]

Sister Patrice stood.

[b [#1e90ff "The boy can make it to the church. His injuries won't be fatal. The girl-"]] She glanced at the child resting in Merlot's lap. [b [#1e90ff "I can treat her wounds, but she wouldn't make it to the church. I can-"]] She paused. [b [#1e90ff "I have a gut feeling, take it as what you will. But I- I [i do] have medical knowledge."]] Her tone quieted as she told Nathaniel. [b [#1e90ff "If you leave her with me here, I will return her to the church in health."]]

Merlot eyed the sister he knew carefully, then Nathan. He wasn't the one that needed convincing, with this. But he had no idea if Nathaniel would believe her. [b [#483D8B "At least one of us needs to head to the church. If she caught it- as much as I hate to say it at least we'd see what it looked like in the beginning stages- maybe that's an answer to...something. I could head back, you could stay here to look at the boy- or"]] He gently moved the girl off his lap and rose. [b [#483D8B "We can take the boy back to the church, see what's wrong with Sister Nancy, and leave the girl with Patrice."]]]]]
  Merlot / indulgence- / 124d 4h 4m 48s
[center [pic https://i.pinimg.com/564x/7d/4f/cc/7d4fcc935b1455e54f7ec0184a551fc7.jpg]]
[size14 [font "Times" Nathan nodded as Christopher bent to pick the youngest Cannes child up, watching the man for any sign of being disingenuous about his health as he did so. The child was small, but a burden on a wounded body was just that. However he seemed fine for the time being.

It seemed with his ability to move as fast as he did, resupplying whatever barrier he had made, that Father Merlot was in good health for the time being. That was relieving. He looked to the man as he turned to him, and nodded once more, fighting a peculiar prickle of emotion at the look in Christopher's eyes. His eyes were torn from him when he heard the brush move again, seeing the figure that was on the other side of the barrier that looked as fragile as the air itself. He ushered Chris ahead of him, turning back to Mathilda and gathered her against him.

"[#00CCFF Time to go,]" he breathed, opening his hands for her. She leaned into him with a diseased moan, face wan, looping her arms around his shoulders. The doctor stood with her held against him. Internally he shuddered for the feeling of her frock, dampened with blood, pressed against his coat. He could smell it right next to him now, he was holding her warm little body to him now.

Nathan swallowed, "[#00CCFF Hold me tightly.]" And set off.

When they reached what seemed like the edge, finding Sister Patrice where they left her, or thereabouts, Nathan was only too keen to let Mathilda down on the ground, barely looking at her, and sat her against the tree stump. He gathered her legs out in front of her with hands that held a tremble in them, eyes on anything but her, save a quick glance to assess her condition as he did so.

He then backed up, almost stumbling on unseen underbrush, and brushed off with a shaky breath. Now he had to examine her further. His hands pressed against his coat, thoughts swimming for a moment as his eyes lingered on Mathilda. [i Gather yourself, Nathaniel,] he thought, swallowing thickly. It had taken too long, he had gone on too long without. He needed it soon, or he would deteriorate like this and everything would be over. All his carefulness, all his running, his hiding, his charms. Did he have a dose in his bag, perhaps?

Dr. Crane's eyes snapped to Sister Patricia when she spoke, brows twitching together in confusion.

"[#00CCFF Y-yes,]" he responded.

He watched the woman's attention turn to the younger brother immediately, nodding, and glanced to see Merlot looking over the perimeter. Good. Good. Things were under control.

He knelt in front of Mathilda again, hesitantly, before standing again, retreating, clenching his hands and keeping them close to himself.

"[#00CCFF Father,]" he rasped, catching Christopher's attention and nodding towards the girl. "[#00CCFF Would you please elevate her feet in your lap for me?]" Drawing her feet into his lap to elevate them would help with her circulation, whatever her blood loss, and promote it. It was all they had at the moment, but it would do as he tried to assess how in danger she was.

"[#00CCFF I- I need-]" [i a moment], he would have said. But he was taken with a sudden chill of heat rolling uncomfortably down his back. The blue of his eyes weakening against the ember-glow of the golden that was slowly leaking from its confines in his pupils to his iris. His eyes detached sharply from Christopher, taking a step back, hand closing on his coat over his chest.

Blood. Sickness. Mrs. Cannes. That was what was communicated to him. The man hissed and yanked the oil slick colored stone on a cord from in his collar like it burned him, lips pulled back from his teeth. He stared at it as if it suddenly materialized there on its own. His fingers slowly unclasped from the cord, letting it hang in the air rested on the curve of his palm.

"[#00CCFF Sister Nancy...]" His eyes shot back to Christopher.
  Tweedy / 196d 23h 40m 58s
[center [pic https://imgur.com/fNfD7lE.png]]
[center [size15 [font "Edwardian" The wall held. Merlot did not know for how long it would- but for now, in this second, despite the creeping feeling of dread across the priests spine- it held. The girl would make it, he was sure, though he dreaded it regardless. Just to the edge of the woods. Just make it to the edge of the woods. It kept repeating. She, the boy, [i Nathan] would be fine. Just make it to the edge of the woods. That was all. He nodded once, at the first question. [#483D8B [b "I can."]] Now, was he hurt? He did a brief glance at his arms, at Ms. Cannes nail marks, but for now? [#483D8B [b "I'm alright for now. I'm not hurt."]] His cassock, on the other hand- was another story entirely. It needed a wash- and mending.

His heart might also need mending, or at least cooling, as it warmed at Nathaniel's worry. Repentance- he thought, and then, [i no]. He wasn't acting on it. There was no need. Nathaniel was, perhaps, the only person truly worried about Merlot right now- and...and that was a comfort. An anxiety as well, given a worried doctor might actually [i check] for wounds but- still, a comfort, to actually be thought of- even in the heat of the moment.

Very rarely did members of the clergy think to worry about the man that was supposed to be leading them through this.

He turned and picked up the boy, her brother, bloody and dead weight, and placed the boy on his shoulder- the cassock would definitely need washing, now. But more than that, the barrier faltered for a moment and without thinking Merlot moved in front of the mortician as another, much more panicked, much louder, [#483D8B [b "Obice."]] exited his lips. He paused, waited to see if it would hold, and then turned. [#483D8B [b "Let's not waste anymore time- I...I don't want you-"]] He paused, his eyes on Nathaniel, [#483D8B [b "Or the girl to get hurt."]] Had he really almost forgot her, in Nathan's stead?

He didn't have time to think about it- to think about repentance or penance- he only had time to pick up the pace, and follow Nathan out of the woods, focusing hard to keep the barrier up- to keep them safe- as who- or what- was behind them, took a step out of the bushes.

Sister Patrice stood by the edge, arms behind her, dagger in hand, rocking on her heals until she saw Merlot and Nathaniel, two children in tow, approach the edge. She stopped, adjusted her footing, straightened her back, and turned to start approaching them. [#1e90ff [b "Living?"]] She asked. Merlot just nodded, and released the barrier behind them. [#483D8B [b "Perhaps just barely. The girl needs help, I'm not sure about the boy-"]] She eyed the young one on Merlot's shoulder, eyes searching, checking- something. The tilted her head in confusion. [#1e90ff [b "I can assist, doctor, in examining."]] She paused. [#1e90ff [b "I just ask you do not touch me, while I do."]]

Merlot set the boy down next to her, and she took no time turning to look him over for wounds. The young priest checked the woods over with his eyes. They seemed still, for now.

...Though there was an uncomfortable nostalgia with looking into a forest, like this. Looking for signs of life, for movement- for red, for...

He shuddered.

Meanwhile, Sister Nancy was falling asleep [i watching] Mrs. Cannes. She'd made a cup of tea, taken notes that only consisted of "Patient still asleep", and...now she was drifting off in her seat, the stone softly resting in her pocket. She only awoke to the sound of a soft cough- from Mrs. Cannes? No...the woman was still asleep. She only realized it was herself when she doubled over in a coughing fit, pulling back after it was over to see blood on her hand.]]]
  Merlot / indulgence- / 201d 5h 16m 25s
[center [pic https://i.pinimg.com/564x/7d/4f/cc/7d4fcc935b1455e54f7ec0184a551fc7.jpg]]
[size14 [font "Times" Nathan nodded to Father Merlot as he left him for just a moment, feeling himself praying for once in a long time, a long time. It was like a habit, going through the motion of "please god don't let him get hurt" because in a rapidly escalating epidemic like this, it was often himself and the clergy who were left to butt heads over the details of what was going on. But he would much, much, much prefer keeping that company than not having it at all whatsoever. So with one last glance, he pushed over to the girl as he had.

"[#00CCFF It's alright,]" Nathan responded, "[#00CCFF just let me take a look.]" With that he unbuttoned her collar, the two little buttons at the shoulder of her frock and peeled it from her skin. Underneath it, he could see the scratch marks that had begun to bleed. His face tightened, looking at the blood on her skin, and swallowed delicately as he looked for more wounds on her. There were tears, wide, open, that made his stomach turn. They weren't gutting, but they were gruesome to look at, and familiar. But not of a mouth as far as he could tell.

Nathan's attention turned back to Christopher standing above him, blinking and buttoning the girl's collar again. The clothing would keep more dirt and mess at least kind of at bay until they could take her somewhere safer. He glanced back up at the priest.

"[#00CCFF I know,]" he responded, feeling breathless as he was still struggling to ignore the salt scent of panic and sweat and blood around him, especially as Christopher came closer. His breath shuddered, "[#00CCFF She will,]" he looked at her, nodding seriously to her as he did. "[#00CCFF I'll carry her. Remind me of your name again?]"

"[i Matilda,]" she said in a small voice.

With that he stood next to Christopher, a hand on the girl's shoulder. His eyes alighted upon a shimmering, spherical film around them. As if being set in a bubble blown from soap, looking as fragile and immaterial as it would at its regular size. He could smell magic, like static hanging in the air. It made his skin crawl, cold, clear, like an icy night was the magic; likely holy. He shivered beneath it, looking at Christopher with an amount of wonder.

The boy was deposited by his side, Nathan reaching down and placing a hand on his forehead. The boy's head turned softly into his hand, breathing calmly now, and Nathan felt a hot jolt of emotion, of [i pain] at seeing this spread like this. It never changed, it was always awful. And plagues like this always followed him, even as he strove to keep them at bay with his pestilent body. Everything he did was to try and keep these things from happening. But the rapidly being forgotten Old World was seeping into these little pious societies with a terrific swiftness as the Christian church refused their existence.

Nathan looked back at Christopher, "[#00CCFF Can you carry her brother?]" he breathed, watching the hand almost caress the membrane of magic. "[#00CCFF Are you hurt?]" he breathed, looking at Christopher, glancing over his stance and the condition of his cassock. "[#00CCFF Are you?]"
  Tweedy / 233d 10h 24m 55s
[center [pic https://imgur.com/fNfD7lE.png]]
[center [size15 [font "Edwardian" The blood thirst of a child was too familiar for comfort. But in the heat of the moment Christopher Merlot could think of nothing else but the safety of those around him- perhaps especially the doctor next to him, as guilty as he felt for it not being the child in his priority. Chris shifted his body weight forward to keep the child down, having to avert his eyes just slightly, looking at the ground next to Nathaniel, only looking over at the needle, and then up at [i "Just a moment."] He nodded once and looked down at the child. [#483D8B [b "I've got him. You should check on the girl. Don't worry about me-"]] Perhaps Nathan wasn't- perhaps it was only Merlot that felt this worried about the doctor. Perhaps Christopher was merely projecting-

With an exorcists reserve Merlot turned his eyes back down to the child and kept him down through the struggle. But staring into the eyes of another bloodthirsty child gave Merlot's mind space to wander. Not only to thoughts of [i "What could cause something like this?"] but to those such as; [i "Is it my fault? Is his fate my punishment? And what of the girl, almost ripped to death by her brother? Why not me instead? Then again, I have never cared for my own safety- perhaps HE knew this would be a worse punishment-"]

His eyes shifted away from the child when he heard the girl croak doctor, eyes lingering on the back of Nathan's head, mind curling into corners before he snapped his gaze back toward the child.

...yet, he found his eyes turning back. Nathan...Nathan was his only solace, in all of this. And why would God, as all knowing as he is, make Nathan the only one that could help, in this- if- if he would punish Christopher for glancing? For his mind wandering? As a challenge?

But Merlot had not [i acted] on anything! Had not tried to make something of this, and so he was being punished merely for thought! What kind of God would allow these children to be hurt over-

His train of thought stopped at a sound from the bushes. The boy was suddenly limp now, though the timing of his struggling wearing down didn't match with the sudden limpness. He eyed the source of the sound and catiously stood, picking up the boy and turning to walk back to Nathan. Instinct told him to get the girl out of the woods. Instinct or...something else. [#483D8B [b "Would she last to get to the edge of the forest, Nathaniel?"]] He asked, shifting his weight to get a better grip of the child. [#483D8B [b "There are still animals and other infected here, and we're not prepared to fight any that may come through here. If one comes through here and harms any of us, then all of this could be in vain. We don't know how this infection spreads."]]

He paused, looking back at a noise, then back at Nathan and the girl. He eyed the boy in his arms, and then the bushes again, eye to eye with hazy, unclear eyes. [#483D8B [b "Alternatively-"]] Being that it was this close- he set the boy down next to Nathan, and stepped closer to it and rose his hand. [#483D8B [b "Obice."]]

After a sigh of relief at it [i working], Christopher peaked over his shoulder at Nathan, a relieved smile on his face at Nathan's safety. [b [#483D8B "I'm out of practice, I am unsure as to how long I'll be able to hold this. So while I don't mean to rush you, doctor..."]] He glanced back at the barrier, eyeing the eyes through the bushes as a hand reached through to slowly drag it's nails across the barrier Merlot was keeping up. [b [#483D8B "Please hurry."]]]
  Merlot / indulgence- / 255d 12h 36m 57s

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