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[tab ] Etroian could feel herself about to hit the doorframe again as she backed away slowly from-- whoever this was-- as they approached her looking displeased with having been knocked by the door when she had opened it a brief moment ago. It was very clear, at the same time, that her mind had been kicked into 'figure it out' mode- her pale, tired eyes studying the way that he approached and making certain to carefully match each step, trying to piece together who this was supposed to be, how she was supposed to negotiate her way out of this dangerous situation.
[tab ] Her eyes widened briefly with a flash of fear at the mention of this being his home, but her expression quickly turned to confusion and curiosity as her eyes squinted once more, tilting her head to the side slightly as she re-examined him once again. [b [#144661 “I-- how?"]] She found herself asking aloud; throwing any remnant of caution she had been holding out the very window that seemed to be the only way out of the room she was backing herself into.
[tab ] [b [#144661 “From what I can tell no one living has stepped foot here in a very long time- though perhaps a re-evaluation of what I consider to be 'living' is best rethought--"]] This was the exact type of speech that had gotten her into trouble countless times before- she knew that her home was a strange one in the way that her father encouraged and actively engaged in her speaking her mind; she could even remember the warnings her mother had given her not to speak out of turn. [i 'I know you want to speak and learn the truth Etrioan, but it is unbecoming of a young lady in our society- you must learn to hold your tongue before you say something you deeply regret. Words have a strange power, as well as the intentions placed behind them.'] [b [#144661 “I know I should not still linger here-- that's quite rude of me, I apologize-- and for the door as well-- but please, you must understand that things are terribly uncertain-- I don't know what to do next or where to go and that scares me, more so than the thought of what happened last night-"]] she absentmindedly lifted a hand to gently touch her neck at the site of her wound.
[tab ] [b [#144661 “I don't know why I'm still breathing, between everything the past day and night has brought-"]] Troi closed her eyes, trying to calm herself down, to keep some very small bit of dignity; she forced herself to lower her shoulders from their tensed position, and very slowly lower the shovel , before she opened her eyes and slowly glanced up to meet his stare. [b [#144661 “-I am Etroian Tara Charming. And I'm sorry we've met in this manner."]]
[font "Times" [size15 He heard the clank of the fire tool stand as she pulled something from it, the door opening again. The creature's head snapped up- face human, a man's angular visage looking to her- eyes alight with a bright, golden glow behind his pupils as they went immediately to the woman holding the ash shovel. His lips were still pulled back in that frustrated, angered snarl, twisting in the pale face that held it like a shining slash across it.
He tried to stifle it, pulling his lips closed as his tongue flicked over the cut he had given it, feeling it closing, staunching the drop of blood he had tasted earlier. She was the one that had begged for sanctuary the night prior, that had led him to her pursuers, and who had somehow made it through the forest to here without so much as scratches to her hands and legs and face from foliage and the ground only.
But she was in the study. She had made it down to his crypt in the base of the house. Something about that, knowing the papers and things he had there- his corpse lying there during a portion of the day- made him feel violated, angry, that she had the audacity to try and threaten him as if he were trespassing on [i her]. He had expected her to leave. If she even lived, after his rather uncontrolled approach. He was going to give her the day, since he had stayed out too late and the morning was making him sick. He would then see if it were a corpse he would find in the entrance hall. It was mercy, in his eyes. Something strange, human. Brief. Gone now.
The creature straightened, glaring at her as his mouth twisted to the side with displeasure.
"[B I should be asking [i you] that,]" he said, voice cold. "[B This is still my home.]" She smelled like the other townsfolk. Her scent came forth again, even as she backed away. His brow quirked as she backed through the doorway again, into a closed room on the second floor with no exit except through him. The same woman who had negotiated with him.
[font "Georgia" [size14 [tab ] For a very, very brief moment Troi had managed to convince herself there was nothing to be afraid of in the hall- but the brief flash of the door smacking directly into someone and the door being shoved closed on her once more had made that fear rise up once again.
[tab ] She had a temporary moment of [i 'what just happened?'] followed promptly by [i 'I'm screwed'] and finally [i 'what do I do now?'] as she took an almost involuntary step back, pulling her hand back in closer to her body, glancing back around the room and trying to determine if there was even any use in trying to find something to defend herself with. Making a mad dash over to the fireplace she grabbed the closest tool on the small rack and went back, opening the door once more and stepping out into the hallway, catching sight of the person she had unintentionally hit with the door.
[tab ] [b [#144661 “Who are you?!"]] She demanded, trying her best to look menacing and holding the tool-- which she now realized was the shovel- not ideal-- raised and potentially prepared to go down swinging.
[right [pic https://i.pinimg.com/564x/5f/82/36/5f82364665b10db0ee4b027f60a2a6c7.jpg]] [font "Times" [size15 It was so quick.
It was as soon as he had felt the door move he had let go quick. He had intended to step back, thinking it would open slowly. Foolishly. The next thing he knew, the edge of the door had hit him in the side of the face.
Now, the taste of blood he had imagining was his lip that had caught the edge of a sharp tooth. He pushed his hand over it, the other shoving the door closed again.
A hiss flew from behind his teeth, immediately pulling back in a whisper of movement to the other side of the hall, hands over his face. A white hot line traced up his face from the collision. His teeth bared with the rush of insult and outrage. Insulted by his corporeality. Should have been faster... stronger...
He had been curious earlier. Now...
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[tab ] Etroian could practically feel her heart beating into her throat as she listened apprehensively, ears straining for any other creak of floorboard or single footstep in the hall in order to confirm to herself that she had not slowly been driven to some form of insanity. Desperately trying to calm herself down, to steady her breathing she crept slowly towards the door hoping that she was simply imagining things.
[tab ] She knew that if it was the same creature she had met the night prior-- if they took her to them again, hurt her again- she wasn't going to survive this time around. Even now she was uncertain as to how she had managed to survive for so long. Slowly, carefully, she reached for the doorknob gently, placing her hand around it and leaned her ear as close as she dared to the door, her neck giving a deep pang of aching as she stretched it. She still heard nothing.
[tab ] In a brief moment of desperation to reassure herself, Troi let the door be thrown open- much swifter than she had intended- and to her horror she felt it make connection to something-- or someone-- on the other side.
[right [pic https://i.pinimg.com/564x/5f/82/36/5f82364665b10db0ee4b027f60a2a6c7.jpg]] [font "Times" [size15 Thomas felt himself take pause in the hallway, a wave of doubt passing over himself. Had he- made that noise? He looked down. Dusty, black leather shoes. He blinked, pressing a hand to his chest again, listening- to himself. So very solid... how strange. He extended a hand again, looking at it. To his eyes he still was thin, graven. But rosier. How strange. It was almost as if he could [i feel] the mirror in the hall that he avoided specifically as he shifted into motion, stepping up onto the hallway proper now from the stairs. He didn't want to see that facsimile- positive he was still only a breath away from the face of that thing.
The creature took a soft breath... warm. Wood smoke. Adrenaline suddenly flooded his senses, not his. Hers. As if connecting a circuit, it threaded through him, and drew him on.
His mouth opened, sighing softly as he felt its sway in a roll of hunger, thinking back on what it felt like to sink in, to meld as he had with someone like that. But the hunger wasn't as strong as it had been before... almost distant.
The silence felt heavy, full. He knew she was in there, but he couldn't hear her. His mind's eye provided a picture of her huddled on the couch in front of the fire that he [i could] hear, staring at the door trusting she had heard the stair.
On silent feet, he drew nearer on light, undead feet. There he paused again, an ear bent towards the portal. He could hear the heartbeat... He could practically taste it.
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[tab ] For the most of it, Etroian had been successful in forcing herself to decide on a place she seemed at least partially safe here, within this house, and to allow herself to rest. A part of her remained cautiously guarded as she had organized herself and her thoughts, and she was certain that under other circumstances of not feeling exhausted to her very bones, she would've spent much longer contemplating and putting off the actual process of resting, getting comfortable enough with her surroundings to actually sleep.
[tab ] Even back home in recent years she had found herself struggling to let her mind come to rest in the evening hours, leading her to become more accustomed to learning to perform the tasks required to upkeep her farm and home in the dark, and allowing herself to remain awake longer into the nights than she should've become accustomed to. Even now, she could just imagine the sort of things her mother would've told her should she have still been alive and learnt of her 'improper sleep routine for a young lady'.
[tab ] Too often in the night if she let her fire die down would she find herself imagining sounds filling the darkness, reaching into her mind to plant the seeds of fright which were too well tended by her mind's eye. Perhaps that was why here, as the night had begun to fall, Troi found herself awake once more, despite almost certainly needing more rest given the previous few day's events- trying her best not to listen to closely to the feigned noises of the forest outside, and instead trying to stay close to the fire in the fireplace, focusing her imagination instead upon the dancing flames, trying to create images from those as a pass time.
[tab ] She felt herself jump against her own volition at the creak of a floorboard in the hall-- she was uncertain if she had imagined the sound or not-- rising to her feet carefully, trying to prepare herself-- how she wasn't sure-- for if her imagination wasn't playing tricks on her.
[right [pic https://i.pinimg.com/564x/5f/82/36/5f82364665b10db0ee4b027f60a2a6c7.jpg]] [font "Times" [size15 He never slept long. Something woke him, somehow, in the silence of the crypt.
The crypt lay in silence about him, that is until the stone lid of the coffin was moved, scraping against the casket below, but he kept it from hitting the floor, instead setting it on its side leaned against the side of the chamber he laid in. There, he sat a moment, feeling his limbs, gathering his wits. It was always a rough wake from sleep.
His knees gathered a bit, hand running over his leg as a crease pressed between his brows. His hand went to his temple, hesitant, and then up, fingers curling into his hair, and there his brows arched. He curled his fingers in it, running through before releasing and pressing that hand with the other to his face. Soft. He closed his eyes, frowning. Human? It had been so long. Those eyes opened again, wandering up to the light above the stairs he could see, listening to the clock. Constant.
He hadn't fed like that in ages. He supposed he was still learning about what this body could do, even now. There was a peculiar throb to him. A hand went to his chest, sliding beneath his shirt a moment to press. To feel a feigned life. He could feel it in his cheeks, in his fingertips when he pressed them together, hear it in his ears.
A hand rubbed over his face now, a sigh escaping him before he paused. The thing that had awoken him. He could scent something, some[i one]. A slow inhale brought the taste of blood back to his mouth. Was that woman still here? He would have thought she had fled by now.
Thomas rose, now, dusting himself off, and quickly replaced the lid to his casket, quietly setting it nicely on top as if undisturbed. There he ventured nearer the light, pausing partway up the stairs, there the light cut across the stonework and he looked to it, the light making his sight strain a bit.
A hand reached forward, into the light. Pale. Long-fingered. Dirty. The cuff of his coat was beginning to wear, he noted, taking it in his fingers. Ascending again, the creature paused again. Her scent was everywhere. She had touched- everything. Something felt distinctly intrusive about that. There hadn't been a living soul in this house aside from every spider he could feel about himself in... he didn't recall how long.
He followed the scent as it moved throughout the house, tracing it upstairs once more. Stronger here. Wood smoke.
His step creaked on a floorboard in the upper hall.
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[tab ] Troi could almost feel herself about to hum softly to herself, in the same sort of calming way that she used to when closing off windows for a thunderstorm. Gently feeling the words that were the last remnant memories of this woman's life, she tried to determine what piece of it she was missing here. She glanced back in the direction of the light, almost as though to reassure herself that it was still there.
[tab ] She moved carefully to similarly reach for the other casket, trying to blindly guide herself to some sort of plaque in the same fashion she had for Mrs. Fletcher. It took her longer than she anticipated to reach, and to her slight disappointment she found no similar plaque along the more smooth and featureless casket. Uncertain that she was prepared or even able to move further into the darkness, she decided that it would probably be best to take her searching outside, to in the very least begin to attempt to orient herself here.
[tab ] Carefully and slowly shuffling along she reached the stairs once more, and began her slow descent up, though finding it much more difficult than the journey down had been, causing her to pause for a moment about halfway back to the tower, closing her eyes as she tried to keep the world from spinning. [i Well, that rules out any hope of travel this day...] She thought to herself, grimacing as she continued her ascent.
[tab ] Her mind knew that it would be wiser to try to leave this place, and get away from whatever monstrous being she had encountered the night before, away from what seemeed to be their home- but her heart still feared what would happen to her should she faint in the woods or else come upon some other monster- be it beast or somehow man. Reaching the top of the stairs once more, she decided to look for some small, safe area she could curl up within, and hopefully regain some form of strength before night fell once more.
There were two that the woman could see, lingering in the edge of complete darkness. Large, similar. She made her slow, step-drag way over to them, careful to feel for unfathomable obstacles in her way.
Making her way in between them, her right hand slid over the rough stone of one, and the smooth, dusty marble of the other, opposite. The sound of her palm whispering over the lid was the only sound, other than the hint of a clock in the background, only picked up because of the silence, barely audible over the sound of her blood in her ears.
Her foot hit the pedestal the casket was set on, and her hand nudged what seemed a plaque on top of the left casket. On it were words... Thomasine Fletcher... Beloved Mother... Died... and then something she couldn't quite make out.
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[tab ] Etroian found herself shivering slightly, as she descended into the room that she guessed must be a crypt, based off the vague memories held within her mind of descriptions from books she had read with her father many years ago. Before they lost her mother, before they found themselves having to sell large parts of their library to support a particularly lean year or harsh spring. She felt like she could hear her own heart beat, her own lungs fill with air, a harsh noise against the chilling silence here.
[tab ] Her fear had returned, though in a more comforting way than before. The type of fear that one carried with them at all times, and that understanding of disliking the places that made the hair on the back of your neck rise as this one did. Slowly, she moved forward, towards the caskets, searching for some form of of markings meant to denote the owners perhaps, inching further towards that darkness. The very life of her reaching out to touch it.
The tick of the clock echoed further, further behind Etroian as she ventured away from the raised study, down into the laboratory and library, and beyond into the dark. And the dark echoed back at her, even as it ate and swallowed all of the sound that went into it. The echo was soft, distant. And the stairs sloped downwards into deeper.
Passing into the shadow, the chill of sunless stone came upon her, washing over her skin almost immediately. It reached inside as she descended, settling within her as she made it to the bottom of the stairs and found the vague shapes of what seemed like immense, stone caskets in varying degree of decoration. There was no light except what punctured the gloom from the high, ground-level windows behind her, one level up. And behind her as she scuffed a toe across the dusty stonework she could hear more... echo beyond the stairs. It wasn't a wall. It was a series of arches that were blanked out with inkiness.
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[tab ] Did this room hold the answers that Etroian sought, without reason and against her better judgement? She moved closer to the large clock that had drawn her into this strange room, unable to help but wonder why any creature would hold such a human interest in tracking the passage of time, something that humans themselves had created in an attempt to organize themselves, to give more meaning to the travel of the sun and stars across the sky, the changing of the seasons, the cycles of the moon. From all that she could gather, no normal human had lived here for a very long time.
[tab ] A monstrous human, or one who was clinging to their human nature, however... that seemed to be a different story entirely.
[tab ] She briefly examined the tomes, and was moderately unsurprised to discover that they held much the same sort of information as the chalkboards around them, and she could not help but wonder if there had been a transformation or other form of experiment, --if that transformation had been the cause of why this house had been so beautifully abandoned in this way, creating a moment frozen in time of the way that the house and it's prior inhabitants had existed for so many years. For one of the first times in the past week or so, Etroian distinctly felt at peace- and not fearful. She understood strongly that she was living on borrowed time now, and there was a strange calm that came alongside it, and alongside following the story of this house, of the creature whom she had encountered the night before- and of the answers she felt she was slowly, very slowly, piecing together as she explored against her better sense.
[tab ] Gently, she returned the tome she had been looking through to its proper place among its brothers, and picked up her skirts gently, heading to the next place that she knew she shouldn't go, yet almost felt called to. Into the darkness.
[right [pic https://i.pinimg.com/564x/5f/82/36/5f82364665b10db0ee4b027f60a2a6c7.jpg]] [font "Times" [size15 The house had clear signs of being lived in, at least at one point. Dusty signs of being lived in, in the little things like the placement of a blanket, the books taken off of the shelves and placed around the study. And yet it was distinctly left, additionally. Dead, crisped flowers in vases bone dry for she couldn't guess how long. The long runner carpets disturbed, having been stepped over, worn, and nudged back into place by a foot.
Beyond that, there was this heavy, intrusive silence that would ring momentarily in the ears, as if they too were trying to make sure it really was this silent. But soon, in her travels, the deep, slow ticking of a clock drew her attention.
Following it, the woman found what seemed to be a back hallway. Opening a door with a rather gothic peak to it, she found it was the well of a tower. Windows dotted it, their feeble light through ill-cleaned, milky glass casting a tint on the stone steps that extended downward, and up. The sound of the clock, something that needed wound and kept, was sounding from the depths, muffled by the door and the descent. But crisp, regular.
Descending down, step by hesitant step- at first- before finding her stride as curiosity overtook her Etroian found yet another door. This one large, doubled. Girded with metal framing, at the base of the house. It was ajar. And upon entrance it opened into what looked to be a vast, filled chamber. It, too, seemed to have its own study, entirely on the floor level that she was standing on. Beneath, accessed by stairs was a lower floor with tables filled with odd devices, and delicate, peculiar glasswork. Others with little drains and sinks in them, a dry sink here, cabinets upon cabinets with all manner of things- device and literature alike. Chalkboards with all manner of horrible creatures, cabinets filled with dangerous looking implements. These books and papers were heavier, rougher tomes than the nobleman's business above. And not all were without stains.
It was here, too that the clock stood. A great, ebony thing that sat in what looked like the library/study.
The high windows, peaked as well, in the walls cast down weak and sometimes obscured shafts of light into the laboratory, from the overgrowth outside. And deeper, was a double archway. Carved, vaulted like the rest with hewn stonework. And beyond that, was darkness.
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[tab ] Etroian looked over the different letters, only just glancing through the most of them, trying to think back if she remembered any mention of Bounbrook or Fletcher as she was growing up, though based off the state of the place she somewhat doubted that either would've been of any particular note during the past several years when she had begun to become more sensitive to the kinds of gossip that traveled in her circle of the world.
[tab ] The letter regarding the dinner interested her the most, though she couldn't help but feel as though she were intruding on more private matters that she wasn't privy to. And that in itself was strange, wasn't it? To only feel a sense of intruding when reading personal letters, rather than going through with exploring the house itself- though maybe she felt a bit that she'd paid her entrance fee, so to speak, based off the scabs causing an awful tightness on her neck. Setting down the letter, she moved back towards the hallway, trying to remind herself of what, if anything, she was looking for her.
[tab ] What did she even expect to find? Some obvious answer to the mystery of the house here, a reason for the person, or creature, she had encountered the previous night?]]
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