1 november, or: the cavalry [attn: kiara, margot, ned, will]
#11
As often as she was called upon to repair the damage done to the human body, it was not, in fact, the Verbena's sole sphere of interest. Kiara was also a Disciple of Spirit and as such, it was not unusual to see the brunette's attention seem split between two places at once. It often, as a matter of fact, was. There was always the sense with the pagan that she was looking as much through you as at you.

An attribute often associated with those who, like the man whose head rested on her lap at present, were receptive to the other side. They did say, after all, that any Mage who wandered too long in the Umbral realms, might just forget to return at all. That or their corporeal body would perish and trap them within the spiritual realm forever.

While Ned is asking about reasons why Andrés might (or should) fear for his life, the pagan is looking into the distance with a slightly unfocused expression. Her mouth has rearranged itself from its oft supple smile into a frown and her fingers have fallen away from William's fair locks to grip at the arm of the sofa. "Has it occurred to you his being secretive is likely why he's still alive?," she asks softly, after a pause. Her focus seems to pull back from wherever it was, and she seemed, for the first time, genuinely weary.

"You say it's the worst kind but it's not." There's a loaded beat of silence. Kiara's eyes return to his face. Her expression, beneath the apparent exhaustion seeping in, is difficult to decipher. "I've never been one for Cabals. I was in a Coven, once. A long time ago." Her fingers relax against the sofa, she smooths over the grooves her nails had been driving into the fabric. "It didn't agree with me. Here's what I can promise you, Ned. I'll always do what I believe is right by your Doc. At some point, you might start to trust that's the most important promise any of us can make."

Kiara's eyes lower to Will's face and she regards the rise and fall of his chest as he breathes.

It's notable she does not answer as to threats, past and present she brings to the table. "We found somebody to help Will. I called in a favor with a friend. He's on his way." She glances at Ned. "His name is Michael."
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#12
"It had, alongside any number of other possibilities. The nature of secrets is in not knowing what they are, nevermind why they exist. Or so some big thinker in some big book on a university shelf once told me in way too many words." Ned pauses. He is squinting at the book in his lap for a long moment before snapping it shut. Weariness was making him re-read sentences. Or maybe he's just not very good at multi-tasking.

"That said..." Ned's head swivels around on his neck and he looks up at Kiara for the first time. His features are slack, a shared mirror of exhaustion that is perhaps the most common element among their kind. "When we want to tell him we're concerned, that just gets us yelled at a lot. It's comforting to know there's someone else out there looking out for him." Ned turns back toward the study, looking over the destruction caused by Halloween.

"This Michael another one of you?" A pause. He snaps his fingers at the ground, trying to recall something that just isn't connecting in his head "Witch...pagan...incense....sage...Verbena!" A final, confirming snap. "That was it, god..." Ned's scrubbing at his eyes with a thumb and an index.
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#13
Elsewhere.
There is a very distinct feeling when a gun is pressed to the back of your head, and it is one William Holmes had never experienced before. The only real times he’d experienced much of anything with firearms were in the past few years and the times he’d been a teenager and someone had decided that it made no goddamned sense that a young man from the south had no clue how to do something with a weapon. His father had given up after some time, but at least taught him the basics of gun safety.
 
Then again, he didn’t cover what to do when there was a gun to your head and there was literally nothing you could do about it.
 
His hysterical panic over being trapped- the thing that had impeded him from being able to continue with rational anything- had led to this moment. His mind raced, flooded thought after thought with the overwhelming knowledge that, like most things, he’d brought this on himself. Like most things, he deserved this and the matter had to be taken out of William’s hands with-
 
It’s hard to breathe when someone has a knee in your back, when your arm is wrenched up your spine and the pain was enough to make you malleable. It’s hard to breathe when the fear of knowing you’re about to die sets in and he isn’t afraid of the result and he isn’t afraid of the fact that it will hurt but he is afraid.

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Earthbound. (Kiara & Ned)
His breathing had been easy, and the fact that it became less easy during the conversation between Ned and Kiara had nothing to do with the nature of said conversation. It grew shallow in the way breath becomes when something is keeping your lungs from expanding by its presence. Forced. Desperate.
 
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Elsewhere.
It was expected that William would thrash, but Mike did his job and did it damned well. The Hermetic isn’t strong- not physically anyway. Nobody’s ever accused him of being particularly muscled and the man with the gun to his head was bigger in both height and weight. All his studying, all his magickal knowledge and his practice and the ways he’d grown didn’t matter. He had no control here. (Did you ever?)
 
William still had no idea that he didn’t write the rules here, that the rules of the game aren’t written in a way where he can break even- all he’d done was hasten the inevitable. The part of him that bleeds defiance and shadows and secrets wails, screams for him to Get. Up.
 
“I-I-I’m sorry-” eyes clenched tight, please don’t do this.
 
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Earthbound (Kiara & Ned)
There is no change in his facial expression, but his eyelashes are damp and soon enough Kiara’s lap may be, too. His breathing stops.
 
----
Elsewhere.
There is no bang, but his body takes the force anyway. He feels the impact, the splatter, everything he expected it to be, but he is still alive. William forced a harsh breath, cheeks still damp and body trembling. There is still a cot underneath his body- uncomfortable but better than being strapped to a chair (No, not better. Different.). He doesn’t want to open his eyes yet, but he does anyway.
 
The scenery is different now. It was no longer that beautiful house with the immovable windows and doors. No, it was a much more familiar house. One with a dagger on the cold floor (curved blade, half “rusted”, a metal eye where the handle met the blade). One with poor lighting and offerings left in front of a wall. There were a couple wooden chairs in the room.
 
The wall had something scrawled on it in big, bold, bright rusted redness but its meaning (like all written things) was completely lost on William.
 
“Oh, shit,” he whispered. He climbed off the cot and proceeded to wedge himself into the corner where the bed did not occupy. He pulled his knees up and waited for his faculties to come back to him before he could decide what to do next and how to process what did- or did not- happen.
 
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Earthbound (Kiara & Ned)
He exhales after several beats of not breathing, though it reverts to something shallow and uncomfortable. His body is tense. 
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#14
There weren't any obstacles for the Doc to have to tiptoe carefully around, for Margot kept her floor clear and clean (save for the reasonable sprinkle of ash and salt around the desk that made up her workspace).  The caution while sitting on her bed was reasonable, though-- it was not large, and the frame used to creak questionably when she merely shifted at night until she 'fixed' it (read: applied WD-40 and re-tightened the fastenings best she could were they hadn't stripped or rusted over).  He settled on the bed and Margot watched from behind fingers with chipped black polish (halloween).

They lowered when he got to 'bring Will out of his Mindscape' and then listened intently, though the aura being thrown about her like a miniature hurricane in the bedroom had her casting shadows of wariness at friendliest, predatory airs at worst.

The apology had her face flinch with emotion-- something sad, something apologetic, something uncomfortable.  She paused, trying to kick her brain into finding words.  Turns out she had none, so she just sat under the weight of her aching head and exhausted body and mind until a patted knee and shifting of mattress support had passed.  She was not slow to follow him off the bed, though, as bare feet had found hardwood beside his shoes, and would pat quietly along after him to follow out of her room and down the stairs once more.  They were halfway down the staircase when her voice finally rose between them, quiet and tired.

"I'm sorry I walked out...  I'm not unaccustomed to household fighting--" she swallowed, frowning at her own uncomfortable cast into the less happy (not that she was having a particular blast now) times before her Awakening and fleeing West.  "It's just that... whole thing was very hard to do, and I don't think I was me anymore."  If he glanced back, he'd find her frowning distantly.  She wasn't particularly certain she was 100% alone in being herself just yet still.
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#15
Given that she and her strange aura had lain watching him, part through her once-festive nails and part dead on, Andrés had committed to her maintaining her silence throughout the journey downstairs. That she resurfaces partway down takes the forward momentum out of him. He stops dead on the step, turns around to face her, and shuts the hell up while she speaks.

Stairs: one of the few times in a short person's life when she can stand at eye level with a slightly-less-short person.

Her former mentor lets out a heavy breath, clearing the cobwebs before he answers her.

"Well, whoever you were... are... you don't, ah..." He keeps his hands secured on his hips. On any other night he would have forced her into an awkward hug. He's too distracted to do so tonight. Plus he smells like dead leaves and sex and fresh air, so Margot isn't the only one feeling out of sorts tonight. He clears his throat, tries again. "My people, when we yell, it's because we... you know..."

Excellent time to rub your beard and cough, Dr. Sepúlveda, thank you for mumbling.

"Anyway," he says, putting the opposite hand on her shoulder, "no sorry, alright? You didn't do anything wrong. I'll be down in a minute, I forgot something upstairs."

In order to allow her passage, Andrés presses up against the stairwell wall and continues in an upward direction. He waits until she is out of sight but not entirely through the kitchen before he ducks around the landing corner and removes from his pocket a foldable device that looks like an old garage door opener melded with an infrared thermometer. He punches a couple of buttons, aims it at the wall, and opens a portal between the upstairs corridor and the library.

It hovers there for a moment, the icy blue rift barely noticeable beneath the static wildness of the resonance in the library, and then Andrés punches in another set of instructions that allows it to remain while he has his hands free.

Before Margot arrives, Andrés removes his right loafer with his left hand, winds up, and chucks it through the portal. The loafer connects with the back of Ned's head, and the portal vanishes.

God damn, he should have been a baseball pitcher.

---

Doc @ 8:41AM
[corr2, entropy/life 1: it's not a chancla but it'll have to do. WAP, target ned.]
Roll: 3 d10 TN6 (2, 10, 10) ( success x 2 )

Doc @ 8:42AM
[that was just the wind-up.]
Roll: 3 d10 TN7 (3, 7, 8) ( success x 3 ) [WP]

Denver @ 10:19AM
One does not simply walk into Dedicated Dicing Den, the devil.

the devil @ 10:20AM
ALL SHINY AND CHROME
Look. I have school. And RP. And all my other time is taken up by sheer, unreasoning panic. I don't have time for Reddit.
-- ixphaelaeon
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#16
This Michael another one of you?

"Euthanatoi." She corrects, her mouth unable to quite mask the amusement at his game of association. If she were another kind of Verbena (hell, if this conversation had been with her own Mentor) Ned's assumptions by this point might have landed him in far worse condition than the fleeting birth pains she'd thrown his way earlier. "Chakravanti," she uses the old name for the keepers of the Wheel, too, her eyes ticking over the Orphan's face for a moment. She seems on the brink of saying more, but: William's breathing becomes shallow.

She can feel his shoulders tightening where he lays and Kiara's response is instinctive, her hand slides down to rest over his heart; the other pushes the hair back from his brow. She bends forward. Listens.

William's heart stops. She furrows her brow. "Come on, kid." An undertone. A demand. "You can do better than that. Come on," she urges and after a beat: a breath. She glances at the man across from her. "He's with him now. All we can do is - " Thunk. "-wait."

Kiara's eyes shift to the stairs, she presses her fingers against the bridge of her nose.
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#17
“Ah. Suppose that makes sense.” In reference to the Euthanatos.

Ned’s attention alsp sharpens on William with the sudden irregularity of his breathing. He frowns but doesn’t say anything while Kiara does her best to comfort the comatose. It is probably this moment’s concern (in addition to the exhaustion) that has Ned miss the telltale sign of a faniliar reaonance plinking into existence behind him.

There is a wet plorp sound followed by an “Ow!” Audible throughout the study and the echo friendly house. A few beats later and Ned is plucking up a shoe from the ground while rubbing his head. Followed of course by a bellowing

“Your theories are archaic and your lab coat is...stupid!”
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#18
From upstairs:

"YOU'RE ARCHAIC AND STUPID."
Look. I have school. And RP. And all my other time is taken up by sheer, unreasoning panic. I don't have time for Reddit.
-- ixphaelaeon
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#19
Margot had carried on ahead of the Doc as suggested after their little talk in the stairway. She'd looked about as she had all night long, and as one would expect after the ordeal they'd gone through-- tired, residualy overwhelmed, and drained. It had taken everything she had to pull that barrier back together again, enough so that she was largely convinced her Avatar did all of the heavy lifting for her at the very end.

Near the foot of the stairs she heard a sound behind her, followed by shouting from both bottom and top floors of the house. Her eyes rolled up and eyelids fluttered closed, she took a steadying breath (patience said the girl / why? tempted the goddess), and finished the descent to return to the study.

She slipped through the door without a word, cast a look between Ned and Kiara both that was muted-- checking the status instead of conveying messages-- and then quick-scoped the rest of the room, like she was looking for someone to find them missing. Must be that Doc told her someone was coming over as well. Ned her eyes landed on Will, head in Kiara's lap, and her brow creased when she realized his state of paralyzed distress.

Quietly, scowling with worry, she simply stated: "He wasn't that way when I left...."

She glanced back out the doorway into the hall, checking not the stairway but the path toward the front door. "When is the guy supposed to be here?"
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#20
Elsewhere
There was a body, ravaged, on the tile floor. There was another hanging in her burlap coffin from the bannister on the stairs. There were casualties, yes, but there was also the sun in the sky. William let out an exhausted breath and felt himself drop. It wasn’t unpleasant.
 
Yes, the light was overwhelming, but it had been gone for so long you can almost forget what it feels like, save for in the parts of you that crave this. For all William Holmes stands at the edge of some great unknowable Nothingness, he is a creature of light things- his purpose is to stand at that edge and insist it come no further.
 
Eventually, things become too bright, he closes his eyes and something, again, slips-
 
Earthbound
He opens his eyes and it takes a moment for him to focus. The world around him is different- very different. There was still the smell of ozone and the feeling that something had happened here but that was a familiar feeling. He’d been gone forever (He’d been gone for hours, but it was an eternity elsewhere- even if it was just a day.)  And that’s when it comes back, in haze but in chunks.
 
His head is on Kiara’s lap and he’s smelling frosting and cake from across the room that has a texture so amazing it couldn’t possibly be from anything other than the gods or a German Chocolate thinktank and he can taste blood even though it isn’t quite there. It’s in his hair, though, possibly staining him strawberry blonde for a day or two-
 
(Then, of course, came sounds. Sounds of things that didn’t have the good sense to not follow him back. Sounds that he heard on the periphery, things that were either too defiant or too stupid to leave him be. Things that were waiting for him to slip up so they could take their moment and push back. It started, of course, with a scratching behind the walls, a scuttling. Laid atop the indistinct murmur of conversation that he could easily attribute to-)
 
The young man looked at Kiara’s face, his own gaze distant and exhausted but present none the less, “Auntie Em, Auntie Em!”
 
William closed his eyes again, if he didn’t have to deal with visual input he could parse through the sounds around him and focus on the ones he knew were from real, live, living people. He didn't have the energy for that. “Who’s here?”
 
 
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