Bad Company and the Days going to Die

Rebels Soul

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He sat in that inn with his wallet out in front of him looking at the picture with his good left eye like it would change something. The damn near drunken stupor he was in causing him to wobble slightly though he steadied himself with a hand on the bottle. It was brought to his lips for a long pull emptying it before he slammed it back down onto the table shattering the glass everywhere. He wanted more already something that hit harder. Too far gone and his now free hand went to his pants pocket. Peruvian marching powder. Yeah that would fix it.

He heard the steps long before he saw the man. That lone eye snapping up looking around the inn for a moment before the bloodshot orb locked onto the devil. And devil it was with horns its skin rigid and sharp. Already his anger was getting the better of him as he closed the wallet. A voice low and rumbling like hot gravel poured down a steel pipe. "Ya gunna wana keep fuckin walkin boy, for ya do somethin tha migh piss me off."

That demon smirked, All he saw was a mortal, one in grief and filed with pain and no magic about the man. Prime time to make a deal. "I can..."

That did it. His hands had already dropped into his gloves, The fit perfect as he had made them himself from the flesh of a goat he birthed and raised on The Spire. That chair kicked back as he rose and the table went scooting away as his thigh slammed into it. "I fuckin tol ya." Right hand snapping out like a vipers strike to the devils wrist his fingers wrapping around it like a chain clamp. There was no getting away as Dave jerked the arm straight and shifted his stance and twisted his waist closer to the devil. Left elbow striking even as he moved to the back side of the devils arm. His body finishing the twist forcing both him and the devil off balance. He heard the snap like a dry twig that told him the bone gave way and the tear of flesh as splintered bone tore itself through the skin. The shriek of the devil matched by the feral snarl that ripped from the mans mouth and over to the side a dirty priest yelling that it was the will of the gods.

"Fuck ya devil, ya killed her too."

"Your dead mortal."

"The gods will it."

Splintered bone struck and drug across the stone floor chipping it causing the devil to scream once again. Daves hand shifting up the arm to grab the ruined splinters as he pushed off his right foot forcing himself across the devils back. Free hand grasping, groping the devils face till he found soft eye and promptly drove two fingers deep into the socket, hooking behind the bridge of the nose and jerking up. It gave him a moment. He knew it wasn't dead yet so the left handed punches started never letting the beasts face go until it stopped moving and there wasn't much more than a red stain where the back of the creatures head and its face were. Again he heard it.

"The GODS WILL IT. The devils dead."

He staggered to his knees then his feet. The priest quickly over there trying to help the redneck up. Dave pushed the man back slightly as he gained his footing. "Le me guess, yer god all ya gotta do is believe in em an die, to go ta yer sparklin heavin?" Dave watched the man.

The Priest nodded. "Yes sir by gods wi..."

He never got the chance to finish. Dave had heard all he needed too. Right hand snapping up with the index finger curled over a thumb that was jutting out pushing the knuckle quite a bit further forward from the rest to strike the man in the throat and collapsing his wind pipe. "Gods didn will it. I fucking did." Knife pulled and he scraped a bit of the demons horn flat before spilling the marching powder onto it and snorting it off. "Gods be damned. I need a drink."
 

The Redneck

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His truck wasn't all that many steps above a beater, not any more. The man who'd once taken such good care of his tools, just couldn't be bothered to care these days. Not about something as low as a vehicle. Or himself for that matter.

The 'beater he wore was clean enough, though splattered with blood and gore from his last, discussion. His jeans hung off hips going sharp through neglect and abuse, and were starting to take on a shade of grey-brown most often found caking the windows of abandoned buildings. His hands were as splattered as his shirt, and though he made a token effort to rub the mess off between his palms, it was half-assed and half-hearted at best.

Dave just couldn't be bothered to care any more. His beard was heavily salted, his face had aged in the last few years. He'd given his right eye in a deal with a daemon for information, then put the damn thing down like the rabid dog it was.

When he parked in front of the Wench, his lips had settled into the snarl that'd become his default expression, even as approval kindled in his eyes. It'd do.

Pouring himself out the cab of the truck after kicking the door open, Dave moved across for the door, then in, with little preamble and less wasted movement. He wanted a damn drink.

The redneck hadn't been paying that much attention when she started across the street for the Wench. Well, she'd been paying enough attention to catch sight of a certain thief, and to wince at the shape that poor truck over there was in. But it wasn't until the energetic scissoring of her legs brought her closer to the man in the 'beater that she noticed certain things. Sights, smells, the icky things splattered here and there.

Then again, this was Rhy'din, there was no telling what a person would find, or make, fashionable; and more power to those that were so bold as all that.

Flashing a smile Val's way when he reached the door ahead of her and held it open, dimples pressed deep. With an unconscious swing in denim licked hips, the woman slipped in through the gap and took a look or three around. Amethyst eyes skimmed glances here and there to see who, if anyone, happened to be about.

Val's greeting drew her attention back, with another skim across the man with the truck.

He'd headed straight for the bar, slapped a palm to the top to draw the dwarf's attention, and settled in. A feverish glance over a shoulder at the sound of bells had that snarl taking on something altogether, worse. She was still alive, still around. And with barely controlled rage and hate, he glared at Orlak and ordered his booze. Even the stupendously endowed woman with a tail didn't, couldn't, hold his attention when she moved off to settle in with a minotaur at a table.

Though he was very much aware of the looks and glances cut his way, they didn't phase him. Didn't slow the rise and fall of his bottle, didn't make a dent in him in the least.

With his back to the door, and the thin material of his 'beater pressing against his skin, a patchwork pattern of scarring climbing down his spine was visible. Distinctive. Unique even.

Wait for it. She'd been in the middle, literally, or telling Val about her day, at his request mind, when the tick-tock tracking of her amethyst eyes snapped back to that scarring. And she fell quiet, excused herself as politely as possible when she had no intention of waiting for permission.

As accustomed to change as she was, again, Rhy'din, the sheer depth of the changes he'd undergone were striking, and painful to see.

Concerned for him and more than a little confused, she'd changed her line of travel to approach the welder she'd once known. The man she'd once fought beside in a bloody war that'd left all of those who'd survived scarred in more ways than one.

"Dave?" While the scarring made it a definite that this was indeed Dave, there was something there, something that kept her from being certain and sure. And not just mistrust in her memory either.

He'd just settled into a seat at a table when she'd said his name. Just settled his wallet, open and facing up, on the scarred, much abused wood between his forearms. Just started staring at the pictures there.

Some part of him knew, had known, she'd acknowledge him as soon as she figured it out. Some part of him had hoped he'd be wrong, that she'd let it slide, ignore him. That part was small and quiet, and largely ignored. The majority of him had anticipated, even hoped, she'd bring herself close enough, hoped she'd try to act like nothing had changed.

Like he was the same.

Made it easier to do what had to be done that way. When they weren't paying attention, when they made stupid mistakes because of what they were under the skin.

And still, a niggling sense of fair-play forced him to speak. "Je- Jus' keep walkin' Thorn. Go on by." To give even her, the same warning he gave the other things.

Not that he expected her to take it. No, under the clear warning growl was the glee of a child preparing to cut a still wriggling slug to see if it had a beating heart.

"When'd you come back? Why're you back?" He'd been, last she knew, settled in California. Married with plans for children. She'd been careful, so very careful, when sliding back in to make sure he was all right. Careful to keep from being seen. And obviously, she'd missed a fucking-lot.

Within arm's reach in that energetic way of moving she had. Thoughtlessly at her ease, even with the warning bells sounding in the back of her head, and the cold knot of dread in her belly; both things she wasn't capable of applying to the current situation.

At least not until his right hand had snapped out, viper quick, to latch its fingertips at the hinge of her jaw, his thumb pressing just to the side of her chin. Amethyst eyes widened in surprise and pain when she felt the bone give under the pressure of his grip.

Smiling, dark and wrong he reeled her in. Brought her head down and forward so she'd have to bend that stiff neck of hers and slack her spine. "I tol'ya, keep walkin' didn' I?!" A snarl, barely recognizable as even slightly human, bullied the words forward.

The cold fire of hate and disgust in his eyes, tightening the sharp curl of his sneering upper lip caught her. And he knew it. "On'y reason I have'n gutted y' like a fish is 'cause we meant som'thin' once. 'S y'r las' warnin'. Got it ginch?"

He could feel it, feel the curve of the bone under muscle and sinew and skin. His eyes rolled back and his breathing went choppy, like a man on the edge of an orgasm, at the thought of popping the joint, ripping the bone loose. The blood in the air, on her skin, across his face, he could almost taste it. But, once upon a time they'd meant something to each other. Today she got a pass.

He'd moved her head in a tense parody of understanding nods while he spoke. Let that unhinged as fuck gaze bore itself into the prideful, stubborn (and damn, she didn't have the sense to be afraid of him) set of amethyst before shoving her back by the grip he'd had.

Caught and held, the redneck damn well lifted her chin, shifted her lower jaw forward as stubborn pride kicked in. Every ounce of tension bled out of her then, near boneless grace in every, even the slightest, movements. Even the involuntary trio of steps she'd taken when he shoved her back and away.

Shuffled movements, more of a flow than anything else.

And she kept her voice low and muted when she replied. "Don' know what the fuck y'r issue is, but you damn well better 'member 'm harder t' kill'n that. An' y'r ass better 'member 'm a fuck-ton better'n 'tever ginch letcha roll off'a 'em last."

From time to time she had more balls than brains, and this was one of those times. "But 's fine, I'll leave y' be, I'll walk on by nex' time I see y'r ass. Mind, 'm here a lot, s' y' migh' wanna work that in."

The wariness, confusion, concern, and faintest stirrings of hurt were there, plain as day in her, when she made the conscious, and deliberate move to turn her back on him. Dismissed him from her sight and presence, no matter who'd actually come out on top of the unexpected confrontation.

From Orlak, at the bar, she ordered a Pepsi.

The laughter that grated loose was rusted shut and all razor-blade angles. "Y'r kin started this girl. Tell 'em I'm comin' for 'em."

Even when she cut a seething look over a shoulder she missed the anticipation in him. She came here often, good. She'd slip up soon enough, they always did. Her blood, her Family started his, by fucking hells he'd finish it. And take down every one of them in the process.
More satisfied than he'd expected to be, Dave pushed out of his chair, and continuing to ignore the presence of the others in the room, even the drow, moved to, then through the door.

There were hours left to fill. And plenty of beasts to choose from. Plenty to cull from the herds before he finally slept.
 

The Redneck

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While Dave's hunt was beginning, the redneck left the Wench. Politely declining an offer of help, she headed out the door. There were, a lot of people she had to warn and a lot of places she had to go.

It wasn't until she was pacing along the base of what used to be a wall in the ruins where Keroc made his home that a very chilling truth shoved itself in her face. Dave scared her.

Not just the changes in him, though those were bad enough. No, the welder himself scared her. She was afraid of a man she'd fought beside in a bloody, draining war. Afraid of a man who'd once shared her home and her bed. And mixed in, in nearly equal levels, was a fear for him as well.

The unpredictable, nearly rabid y about him now could make him nearly as much a target as those he hunted. And she wasn't foolish enough to think, to believe, he'd keep his vendetta between himself and whichever member of her family had put him on this path to begin with.

"Please, until I can get this figured out, 'til I can find out what the hells is going on, just watch out for him. Don't get in his way, hells avoid him if y' can. He's dangerous." When the youth opened his mouth to speak, she rolled right over him.

"I know you're dangerous too, but this is different. Please?" She'd calmed herself, taken a moment or three to slow herself down. Stilled mind and body until that one word request came out as calm as possible, and utterly sincere. "There's somethin' wrong in him, somethin' broken an' he doesn' wanna be fixed I don' think. Not now. This is," sighing she shook her head and shrugged. "This, I think 's between him an' my blood, my kin, but I don' think it's gonna stay there, don't think it's gonna stay that way. An' I don' want an'one t' get hurt if it c'n be helped."

"That's not fighting fair Thorn." But in his voice she heard what she needed to hear. Under the annoyance was acceptance. "I'll stay away from him as much as I can. But you really can't expect me to stay totally out of it."

There was always a hook, always a catch. And, much as it put a bug in her ear, he was right. "Jus', as much as y' can an' I'd be thankful." A little smile tugged, half-hearted at best, at the edges of her lips and she reached out to snag him in for a hug. "I've gotta go though. Need to give folks at home a heads up, an' hit the bricks t' see what, if an'thin', I c'n find out."

She feathered a kiss across the youth's cheek while stealing one more squeeze.

"Follow your own advice for as long as you can Thorn. Don't get in his way if you can help it." He hadn't known her all that long really, a month at the outside longest. He had however, come to realize through bits and pieces she'd said here and there, that the redneck tended to do the harder thing, especially when it was something that absolutely needed to be done. More so when she felt she was the only one who could, or would, get it done.

She smiled, a soft barely there thing that could've meant damn near anything and released the youth into the wilds of the ruins once more. "Have a good one Keroc. Sorry t' wake y' up an' drop all'a this on y', but y' needed t' know." The apology was as sincere as the truth that he did indeed need to know. Without lingering she started off toward home.

Once out of sight, in a pool of night-shadows, she Gated away.
 

The Redneck

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On her porch, she took a moment to breathe. Took a moment to absorb the calming, soothing atmosphere she'd worked so damn hard to create and nurture here. And realized it wasn't going to do a damn thing to ease her. There'd be no soothing yet, no comforting for a while still.

Inside she hunted down Dae, who really wasn't that hard to find. In the kitchen ladling up another bowl of Albondigas soup, the thief's merry gaze settled on the woman who'd, unknowingly at first, given him the one place in the multiverse he could hide. And narrowed abruptly when he saw the bruising around her jaw; finger marks, dug in hard enough to bruise the woman's skin. "What happened?"

She watched, with no small amount of fascination as the cheer died out in his eyes and was replaced with cold anger. And since he was staring at her face, rubbed a hand across her cheek, and jaw to find what ever it was. Finding the bruising, she hissed in reaction, but didn't worry. Not then at least. "Remember Dave? The welder guy that stayed here a while a few years back?"

Some part of her was stalling, even she knew it. Taking a few minutes longer than she should have before filling Roan in. Before bringing him in and adding another worry to his already full plate. Dae however, was having nothing of stalling.

"Yeah I remember him. He left after, well after. He did this to you?" There was mild disbelief there; the parting between redneck and welder had been smooth enough. No yelling or fighting, just finality and a lot of hurt. And definitely not enough anger to fester up into abuse.

As she was opening her mouth to answer the question, her stalling time ended. Roan came into the kitchen, his smile of welcome died as that amber eyed gaze latched onto the marks on her face. With the arch of a black brow in silent query he closed the distance, tipped her chin up and to the side for a better look. Pressed a kiss to her brow after the inspection, and waited.

Self-conscious, and feeling more than a little guilty, Thorn hunched her shoulders, and let go of all pretense. "Dave's back, he fought the Cult War with me. Lived here for a while." Roan had been incapacitated for quite a lot of that time, dying in bits and drips.
 

The Redneck

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She sighed and ran an arm around the man's waist, tucked herself under his arm and burrowed in to hold on. "It was bad enough for me, worse for him. Got taken, turned int' a Juju zombie, but well he got better. Fixed it. Then after it was all said an' done, he left. Went back t' his home world." His home world, not hers any more. "Convinced himself it was all a coma dream, all'a this. 's why he had the scars on his back where they opened him up. I'd go back now an' then t' see 'bout checkin' on him. Didn't let him see me though, didn't want him t' freak the hells out y'know?"

A shoulder moved in a shrug that was just, there really. "Anyway, he was with a woman, married her. They were expectin' a little one. Then, I didn' see him for a long while. Thought mebbe I'd just been missin' him. He left 'fore I got where ever, or got there after I did." There was guilt climbing up in her, even though she knew it was misplaced and useless, it was there nonetheless.

"An' t'night, he's at the Wench. Lookin' a week dead, splattered with blood an' gore an' icky bits'a som'thin'. Talkin' 'bout how I needed t' keep on walkin' an' the only reason he didn' gut me was 'cause'a that once upon a time. Said m' kin started this an' I needed t' let 'em know he was comin'." The words tumbled over one another in her rush to get them out before she started tempering them. Before she tried to find a way to make the encounter sound like it'd been less distressing than it was. "'S where he grabbed m' jaw an' squeezed." The bruising.

In silence both men had listened, Dae eating soup he no longer tasted, no longer actually wanted and Roan holding the woman who meant damn near everything to him. Listened while she shared a run down of an encounter with someone who'd once been a friend, and now, apparently, was a mortal enemy.

When she stopped, or paused because Roan could see she still had more tumbling about in her head, he squeezed her shoulder and rested his cheek against her head for a moment. "Your kin he said? That means Cellin's side, and there's no telling which of them it is." More, it meant she'd be going to speak with Orin by the end of the night.

When she remained quiet and still, he nudged her both with a finger against her shoulder and words. "What else is there?" He knew her, very damn well.

Too well really. For a moment longer she hesitated. "He scared me. Still scares me. There's somethin', very damn wrong with him, in him. He's, broken somehow an' I dunno how. He's, dangerous." Teeth caught hold of the inside of her lower lip to worry it briefly. "An' he knows how t' keep me down if I go down." Wasn't that hard, but there weren't many people at all who knew the trick of it.

Tipping her head back amethyst locked onto amber. "An' he said 'them' not jus' 'him.' Them. He's gonna go after all'a m' family through Cellin." Cold fear flashed through her, showing clearly in her eyes. "An', I don' think he's jus' gonna work on takin' down us." If they had a drop of Divine in them, it was possible, probable, he'd see them as fair game.
 

The Redneck

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"I already warned Keroc, mos'ly 'cause, y'know, he's a monk an' likes t' help folk. Dave, he doesn't wanna be helped." She was rambling, damn near babbling honestly, and at the moment there was absolutely nothing she could do about it.

"Any idea which member of your family set this in motion?" Dae, for once making the supreme effort to keep at least a few of his snide remarks to himself, finally asked. His bowl was half empty and wouldn't keep him occupied all that much longer really.

Roan snickered and rolled his eyes in an expressive bid for patience. "If she doesn't, I have one or two thoughts and possibilities. It's entirely possible that this wasn't started by one of her line, but one who's been watching long enough to see and know. One who has no problem lying about who they are to get the job done." Spreading fear, lighting a pantheon ablaze with it, some beings found that little more than a hobby. And yet. "It is just as likely that this was done from within though."

And he had a sinking feeling that he knew who it was, and why. "You know where you need to go from here. Might as well get it done and find the answers you need." Another kiss pressed to her temple, he ran a hand up and down her arm before loosing her. Reluctantly so.

As reluctant as he was to let her go, she was more so about being let go. Just tonight, just now, she wanted to burrow in and hide her head a while longer. The redneck wasn't ready to face this, not yet. Not tonight. Then again, most people weren't ready to face knowing a former lover had been driven 'round the bend and had every intention of trying to kill your entire family.

Stretching up she pressed her lips to his, poured herself into a kiss designed to offer as much comfort as it did heat and promise. And take as well. "I'll be back. Don' think he's gonna be comin' here, not t'night at least, but y'all be careful." The warning given before she rolled her eyes and gave herself a mental slap on the forehead. "My borders are closed, Dave is no longer welcome here. Permission to enter and pass has been, will be, and is revoked. He is not welcome here. He cannot be here." The words took on a soft ring, a chiming echo of Power that signaled the activation of the wards surrounding her home, and property. The welder's right to enter had been revoked. His presence would not be accepted, or allowed.

"I'll be back." Crooning promise offered for her love, and reassurance to the thief who shared the kitchen with them.
 

The Redneck

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Because it was her home, and because both men had seen the opening and traveling through a Gate before, she simply dropped through her own shadow and traveled to Orin's realm.

Strode through the arches that led to his private suites and moved straight for her Grandfather's Grandfather. "You saw." Not a question, she'd finally adjusted to certain of her line seeing what she saw as soon as she saw it. "You heard." Again, not a question. "The hells is goin' on?"

Orin, like most of the members of this aspect of her family, had chosen to hold onto the appearance he'd worn before Rising. Thick, coppery red hair hung to the middle of his back, metallic sheened with health. His eyes were mismatched, green on the left slitted like a cat's, hazel on the right the eye of a serpent. His face was sculpted, molded to set the hearts of woman sighing. His body had been forged through hardships and battle. And just then there were shadows of sorrow and regret, tired anger and irritation. "I know yes."

In his preferred chair he shifted, settled an elbow atop the table and propped the side of his head against the knuckles of that hand. Mismatched eyes watched her, unblinking.

Something in the way he said that, the simplicity of the statement mingled with the emotions playing across his face gave her a moment's pause. "How long have you known?" The rest would wait, would have to wait, until she had an answer to that. And even then, she unconsciously shifted her weight and balance to the balls of her feet. Changed the alignment of her feet just a touch, just enough to present a smaller target. Without thought she set herself for a fight.

For the first time in hours his lips twitched toward a smile. The change in her stance was obvious to him. Brows the same copper as his hair lifted slightly. "Known that someone'd been whispering in Dave's ear so to speak? Since it started. Known how far this whispering's driven him? All things considered, almost that long. Tonight though, tonight gave me solid proof." Before the confrontation in the Wench, he'd had only suspicions.

"Tell me Thorn, why are you here? You know as well as I do that the warning passed into me, and your Grandfather as soon as you heard it. We saw his face, and what's behind it, as soon as you did." He couldn't, flat out wouldn't, volunteer the information he knew she wanted. The information he knew she needed would stay his until she asked for it. That was the way of things, family or not.

So he settled, watching the emotions play across her face, the way she twitched and fidgeted in small movements. The way she ordered her thoughts into a line she could follow, even if no one else would be able to.

"Who did this to him an' why? I know it was one'a us." Another time he might have indulged in a small celebration at the inclusion of herself in their group so readily. "Jus' dunno who or why. Or hells how. This, this is not Dave. Not the Dave I knew, know. Not the man I thought was livin' a solid, happy life with a woman he loved an' a Little comin'."

And it tore her apart, shredded parts of her to bleeding confetti knowing she'd missed something this huge. This horrific. Again.

Her shoulders slumped, her stance dissolved into weary resignation. "How, why'd anyone do this t' someone? I jus' don' get it."

As much as she'd learned, as much as she'd seen, the woman still couldn't wrap her mind around intentional cruelty and the torments some put others through as entertainment. In some ways, he hoped she never lost that faith. In others, he knew it would be tarnished further before this was through.

"How, I promise you Thorn you do not want to know." Because he did, and the pain it caused him showed plainly. "Who, your cousin obviously." He let the significance hang in the air, knowing she'd work it through for herself before too much longer. "And the why? That has to do with who, and what he is. And the fact that he hates all of us. All of us that he cannot influence, manipulate, or outright control. We have more power than he does, you may one day, and he cannot own us. Add in the fact that you're Cellin's Favored, and that's all he needs." Orin tipped his head slightly, a sardonic twist of his lips coming when being told she held her Grandfather's favor jolted the woman. "Through the ages he's done his best to break one or another of us, this time it was just your turn."
 

The Redneck

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For more than a few moments she stared at him. Stared incredulously at her great grandfather because that was all she could think to do. And felt her back go up and her temper spool, actually felt the tightening muscle by muscle.

"My turn? My turn? Fuck that! And fuck this Favored shit, 'cause I'm not anyone's Favored anything." Sharp and thick, her voice rose in volume, belled rings chimed when she slashed a hand through the air in firm finality and denial. "So, he gets t' fuck with someone I know, someone I care about, an' what? Y' jus' gonna let him? He weaponized Dave, y' understand that? T'hells ever he's done, Dave's a friggin' weapon an' he's pointed at ever'one'a us."

Finally, which of her cousins had slithered in and destroyed a damn good man snapped into place. "Surgot shredded this man, this human man that fought beside me. Turned him inside out, this man that helped more than a few of us figure out the best way to fight that gods damn Cult. An' what's gonna happen to him for it? Is he gonna be made t' pay?" The stance she'd taken up had long since been abandoned. The easy readiness and smaller target it presented dropped in favor of openness and head-on directness.

Her anger faltered, stuttered a step or three when she read some of the truth on Orin's face. "Y' fuckin' shittin' me right? Nothin'? Y're not gonna slap him down?" Derision dripped, and for a change didn't buckle at the rising anger in her elder.

"No, I'm not. And neither is anyone else. You can't, literally can not attack each other directly, or through direct action of your own cause each other harm." When she opened her mouth to launch another verbal shaft he held up a hand and shook his head. "Direct action. This? Doesn't count as direct action. All he did was, play a bit, whisper and tease, shatter and shake. What Dave does, chooses to do, is still a matter of free will on his part. No one said he has to walk down this path. He could, leave it alone."

More for form than any need to wet his lips, Orin lifted, and sipped from a glass of wine, before continuing. "And if I hadn't forbidden any of you from direct action against each other, you at least, wouldn't be alive today. Then again, neither would most of your generation, including Surgot." The last added as an afterthought, with a contemplative lift of copper brows and a measuring tilt of his head.

"Free will? That's a fuckin' cop out, a bullshit cop out t' make it read better." She had her teeth sunk in and wasn't about to let go of it, not any time soon. "An' you know it, sure's squirrels like havin' nuts in their mouths, you know it." The warmth in her eyes was superheated, anger and insult sparking dangerously.

"Surgot gets t' do this thing, t'hells-ever it was, that endangers all of us, an' it's just fine an' damn dandy?" The question, while important in some ways, turned out to be rhetorical when she buried as much of her anger, hurt, and horror as she could, and barrelled on.

"Since I can't slap back at the bitch personally, an' I can't really tell, ask, hire, bribe, what-have-you, someone t' do it for me." The bad tempered jerk of a shoulder further tabled that, though it wasn't shelved and likely wasn't going to stay in the background all that long. "The hells has he been? Dave I mean. There's no way this is recent, an' no way he's goin' int' this thing blind. He's a planner, an' takin' down pantheons? He's damn sure gonna be as prepared for it was he can be."

Warily, Orin set aside his wine and turned the entirety of his attention to Thorn. While he understood, even approved of her reaction to the situation, she'd come entirely too close to crossing a line he'd have to slap her down for. "What I can, and will tell you I will. Some time back, about fourteen months ago, Dave made his way from Rhy'din to the Outlands. There, at the base of the Spire, he bought a breeding pair of goats, and enough supplies for about a year. He then climbed the Spire, to the top, and ten months later, climbed back down again. No supplies, no goats, and damn near dead." He saw the question in her eyes and cut her off without a qualm. "The Spire, especially at its apex, negates all magic, all forms of magic, even my Sight can't penetrate the currents there." With meaning he flicked a look at the marks on her jaw. "It is possible, probable, that something he had with him there, absorbed some of the properties of that place."

While watching her work through the implications, a small smile tugged at his lips. It was interesting to watch the woman sift through bread crumbs and whole slices enough to find the pattern she needed.

"Before that, hells. Before he came back to Rhy'din his marriage had fallen apart. There was a child, a bright little girl who was the light of their lives, and she died. No reason for it that could be found, just didn't wake up one morning before the end of her first year. His wife, shut down, closed him out, locked him out emotionally. The marriage fell apart. Dave prayed, and in the end only Surgot answered him." That was enough information he felt, enough freely given for this child of his blood to draw her own conclusions, and wind up in the right place anyway.

"He scares me Orin. You know that already, but it still needs t' be said. I'm afraid of him, and afraid for him. An' I dunno what I'm gonna wind up havin' t' do. An' that makes me sick t' m'stomach. I jus', dunno what 'm gonna do yet." Any other time, with nearly any other person, admitting a lack of direction would've galled. Would've choked her near to death before she got the words out. This however, was Orin, and he knew damn well how quickly that lack would change. "If I thought armin' an' armorin' him an' settin' him a couple miles from where I think Surgot is'd help, bet your nuts I'd do it. But, I dunno if Dave'd take what I offer him, if he'd turn his back on it, or if he'd be who he is now enough t' take what I offer, an' try killin' me as soon as we wound up where I sent him."

Simply giving up on the man, giving up on helping him, wasn't a consideration. Wasn't a possibility.
 

The Redneck

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Orin canted his head to the right, a somewhat amused smirk twisting his lips. "You need to figure it out. That man's bleeding to death, he's killing himself in bits and drabs and it's obvious to anyone who knows him." The curve of his lips deepened with significance once more. "And let's be honest with each other, the way he's going right now? There aren't many sane people who will take the time to get to know him. A lot of people, well within their rights and right minds, will avoid him, at best. At worst, well." He left that hanging, with an eloquently dismissive shrug lifting a shoulder.

"Find someway to get through to him, and he stands a chance. If not, he's not going to survive. Already Surgot's priests on this world are dying, being killed off one by one. Your sons, William and Bar are safe, in a safe place." That was all he'd tell her, no matter how much she wheedled and pushed. Though the relief in the safety of her two youngest, kept her from putting much effort into the wheedling.

"I'll have to warn Dorian to keep his eyes open, Dave doesn't know where the boy's house is, but that doesn't mean he can't find out. An' it jus' makes this all worse that I have to worry about Dave usin' those boys t' get at me, t' hurt me. Even if it makes sense t' do it." Some part of her hated herself for thinking this way, for so easily falling into the role of shielding protector. The rest braced for the conflict to come, and the consequences that'd come after. Some times one simply had to do what had to be done and the luxury of feeling sorry for yourself didn't fit into the equation.

Sighing in quiet frustration, she chewed on the swell of her lower lip before voicing a fragment of the guilt that was choking her. "He's been shredded, he's been tormented, jus' 'cause he knows me. Jus' 'cause he's someone who matters t' me. An' now, I gotta try to figure out how to help him, keep m'self an' other folk safe, an' keep him from gettin' himself killed, pretty much all at once." She could feel it, felt the sulky-mouthed pout that took hold even as it formed. And indulged in something that looked like a flail combined with a thrash, all filled with temper. All of which were as close to an actual tantrum as she'd throw.

"An', on top'a all'a that? I dunno if I c'n even find 'im." Which was to say, as of yet, she hadn't tried. Wasn't sure she should, and really wasn't sure she could. "The more I think 'bout it, the more likely it is that he has som'thin' on him that'll make magics all wiggy an' shit. An', yeah."

Once more the Elder smirked and shook his head at the woman child's stubborn blindness. How someone could be as insightful as she was, as terrifylingly intelligent, so observant, and still be utterly blind was beyond him. Just as it had been beyond him with any of his other descendants, and as it had been when his father was wondering the same thing about Orin centuries past. "You'll never know until you try. Look for him, if you can find him, then good. If not, then you know." Patience was a virtue he didn't have much of on a normal day. This was rather nothing like a normal day in his world.

She pulled herself together, sucked it up. And reached, softly, through the shadows pooling at her feet just to see, just to find out if she could actually find the welder. The eyes she'd had more-than half closed in pessimistic (because she really didn't think she'd be able to touch his shadow) popped wide in surprise. Then immediately narrowed in worry.

She'd found him all right, and where he was added another layer of concern for her. But for the moment, it was put aside. Sort of aside, but not very far at all.

"One way or t'other, I'll help him 's much as I can." Chin lifted, determination colored everything about her then. " 'Less he goes after you or Cellin 'fore he goes after Surgot. That happens, an' I'll put him down m'self."

Sadness filtered unseen across his features when she made the announcement he'd known was lurking in there. Though he'd expected no less, he'd hoped she wouldn't be able to consider the possibility. "You do realize your grandfather and I both were, and are, accomplished adventurers, skilled warriors, before we Rose yes?" The question more of a jest than a slap, especially with the twitching of his lips.

"We're just as capable of watching our own asses, more capable actually, than you are."

Amethyst eyes rolled in their sockets with the first traces of humor she'd been able to let herself feel in hours. "Yeah, yeah. I know. Still, I'll put him down m'self if he even tries comin' after y'all two." The rest of this branch of her family, they could handle themselves. "Jus', don' go sharin' all'a this with ever'one yeah? Like, keep two outta the loop?" After his amused agreement, she kissed his cheek, stole a hug and a hint of comfort, and left for home.

Well, home with a side trip first. Another round of information gathering, from another couple of sources.

There wasn't all that much more she could do tonight, and she was heart-sick enough to be tired.

Admitting to herself she'd spoken nothing but the truth, driving that point home when she repeated her warning for Roan and Dae, didn't help much.

If Dave hurt any of those she loved before going after the one who'd caused this, she'd put the welder down personally.
 
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