[Plot] TEP: Oil and Water

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swaswj

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Continuation from "The Emperor's Pleasure: Hero Treatment" for Aelflead Kirastes, Keydis Lysistrata, and Red. Relevant posts quoted below:

The Geamhess cut gracefully through the sky, wispy clouds parting around the figurehead of Serpens before being drawn toward the humming engines under the protruding wings. Royal and beautiful from the outside, equally immaculate within. The forty-eight guests inside, renowned warriors and heroes from different battles and sponsors, were tended to night and day. The feast of that first night was the largest and most opulent, but none of the guest wanted for wine or spirits, and the tables were always filled with bread and fruit, cold cuts and cheeses, decadent and yet easily preserved. It could easily be mistaken for a pleasure cruise, despite the dire circumstances that had drawn them all together.




Everything is shrouded in thick white vapor, so thick that she can't even see her hand in front of her face. Wind rushes past, tugging at her hair, pulling her clothes. The metal beneath her feet hums, and that hum rushes through her entire body. The smell of the air, crisp and clear and with a hint of sea-salt, mingles with the tang of metal and oil. It's an indescribable rush, and she leans forward into the gale, holding her arms out to the side.

All at once, the mist breaks around her. She squints against the brilliant sunlight, a giddy grin spread across her face as the wide, blue sky opens up before her. Wisps and streams of cloud trail from the bow of the ship and the balloons on either side. She giggles, eyes bright and merry as she stands alone atop the airborne vessel. Even standing still, it feels like she's soaring ahead at a breakneck speed, basking in the warmth of the sun, reveling in the pull of the wind. Her dress whips and whirls wildly.

"What are you doing--?"


With a start, Keydis sat bolt upright, laboring to catch her breath, regain her bearings. Her skin glistened with sweat in the dim light. Her stomach lurched and Keydis clutched at her left arm, biting back a hiss of pain as her fingers tightened on the mangled flesh. Slowly, she pieced together where she was, aboard the Geamhess, heading to Pelagia. Aboard an airship, like the one… Keydis scowled and forced herself to her feet, stumbling in the dark. There was someone else laying down nearby, asleep, their breathing calm. Red. Slowly, Keydis fought down the panic, sitting back on the mattress. Now that her eyes were adjusting to the darkness, she could make out the shape of Red's body, turned away from her and facing the wall. However spacious the rest of the ship was, the sleeping quarters they had been given were tiny. Letting out a held breath, Keydis sat back on the mattress.

The specter of her dream memory gradually faded and Keydis loosened the grip on her arm. Most of the time, she could keep the panic down, but each time she woke up on the airship, it returned in full force. In the dim room, Keydis traced her fingers over her left arm, wincing even at the light touch.

The corruption of Caeancora had once only covered her elbows, coating them in a violet, metallic substance, a calling card of the vistra she had defeated. On her right arm, it had spread slowly, claiming a millimeter at a time, leaving the skin at the transition red and sore. Her left arm, though, had nearly been overtaken. Most of the limb, from wrist to bicep, was covered in Caeancora's plating, with deep veins of cracks exposing raw, red flesh. Keydis reached under the cot for gauze, pulling old dressings away before beginning the daily task of wrapping her arm tightly. Moving slowly, trying to avoid waking Red, she pulled her long red sleeve over her bandaged arm. After that, she slid into her smallclothes, put on the rest of her clothes, and finally donned her armor. Lastly, she pulled the leather straps tight over her right arm, flexing her arm once they were in place.

Keydis grabbed her sword and then stood, placing a hand against the wall to steady herself as nausea and dizziness washed over her. Pausing only to give her companion one more look over, Keydis slid open the door and stumbled out into the hallway. She carefully closed the door back and tried to regain her bearings. The main room of the ship would be loaded with food, every hour of the day, but eating would have to wait. Instead, the brunette wandered down the carpeted corridor, looking for somewhere with room to stretch, exercise, something that didn't require a lot of thought.





So early in the morning, much of the Geamhess' passengers were still asleep. The relaxed atmosphere of the ship made nights, for most at least, restful and fulfilling. And while there were clearly some unfortunates among the Geamhess' number who found themselves trapped at the, "uneasy," portion of "uneasy peacefulness" for one reason or another; they were few in number, so finding a place that required little thought was an easy task in the morning.

Surprisingly, on such ship designed with comfort in mind, there were very few places with significant room to move, save for the ship's deck. Because the vessel had been built for carrying passengers in massive number, much of it's space was dominated by passenger rooms save for a few, and one in particular that boasted especially ornate double doors.

Double doors that were cracked open enough to grant a purview of the room beyond, and bid the sounds of a woman's voice, heavy and somewhat breathy, counting to escape from it.

Further inside of it, this room boated relatively high ceilings compared to the rest of the ship's rooms though not much more than a meter. Every wall inside of it painted with exquisite craftsmanship so that the artwork shimmered softly and seemed to move across the interior. Glossily finished tile made up the entirety of the hard floor inside; and atop it a figure clad in a black cloak, who's dark scarlet hair followed her fluid, spinning movements like a ribbon following a stick.

Aelflead it seemed, was having just as much trouble finding peace on the Geamhess as a certain brunette.
*This is mainly a character-development piece. Consider it a success if these characters don't kill each other.
 
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Keydis Lysistrata

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It was eerie, moving through the massive airship with empty hallways. What few people were awake didn't cross her path, and for several long moments, Keydis felt her mind drifting, recalling the biting chill on her skin as she wandered the similarly empty hallways of the derelict Promoveo, haunted by memories of its long-dead inhabitants.

Her feet came to a stop in front of the double doors, and Keydis stood there staring blankly into space before her mind finally caught up to her senses. Someone awake, and alive. Keydis pulled open one of the doors, smirking as she recognized the woman inside. The brunette strode in like she owned the place and roughly slid the door closed behind herself, watching Aelflead's movements curiously, seeing what she could glean from the movement and motion. Despite their foray into the mysterious temple not that long ago, Keydis still didn't have a good measure of the spurii's capabilities, except to say that Aelflead was frighteningly strong.

"Avé, Kirastes," Keydis called out, laying her sword by the door and her coat of blue-violet scaled armor next to it.


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Aelflead Kirastes

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Aelflead's head turned in response to Keydis' call and recognizing the other woman's silhouette, she dinner from last evening and the events of their second meeting came to mind.

Each time she’d proven herself capable, appreciatively task oriented -even if irresponsibly so-, loud, and that “extremely tactless” was a nice way of describing the brunette’s social ability.

Aelflead's dark lips turned slightly downward. Hm, I didn't peg the loud mouth an early bird. She thought, watching the woman draw near from her peripheral.

"So you can say my name," The spurii responded dryly, gracefully finishing her last movement in a complex stance that left her balancing on one foot. “Sgt. Hook." After a beat, she took a deep breath and released it with her stance, ending in a neutral position.

Now closer, Keydis' strides having cleared much of the circular room already, Aelflead's form came more clearly into focus. Her curly, scarlet hair had clearly grown longer since the last time they'd met, leaving little evidence of the hell flame that'd sheared it during the Black Portal, as it was hanging free of the thick braid she usually kept it in or the ornate ponytail she'd worn on the day they boarded the Geamhess.

Her clothes were more like normal though; save the absence of the dark, silver-trimmed cloak she always wore, her baggy grey pants and simple seaweed colored bandeau were part of her typical attire. Despite this normalcy, something seemed... Off.

"What'd you do, find the itinerary?" She asked pointedly, flipping her hair away from her eyes and tucking straggler strands neatly behind her left ear.


Occultus' Shoud is still active.
 
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Keydis Lysistrata

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"Too much of a celebrity to associate with common folk, demon-slayer?" Keydis could only sneer at the way Aelflead had been snubbing her since they arrived on the airship. The spurii was probably infuriating to most, but to Keydis it was a familiar kind of bluster, and while that was something that usually made her want to knock heads together, she had seen that Aelflead had bravery to go with the bravado. Skills, perhaps less so, but certainly valor.

The reference to the vistra within, to the hooked barbs of the inhuman arm blades, that immediately set her on edge, inner malice bubbling up and corroding away at the good will that had built up toward Aelflead. For the moment, Keydis maintained her composure, but…. "It's Keydis. You can pretend to have forgotten the name, if you want, but I'm only going to warn you once: if you bring up the 'hooks' or the monster inside again, you're going to get a real close look at both." The steely look in her eyes showed that she was dead serious. After staring Aelflead down for a suitable time, her muscles relaxed and she shrugged. "Even if that doesn't scare you, I figure you owe it to me after I saved your ass."

She had, after all, yanked Aelflead to safety before she was crushed by a falling meteor.

The brunette began to pace around the room, mentally mapping the number of steps. "Did you ever clean up that travesty of a sword?" she asked.


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Aelflead Kirastes

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So we have something in common then.

Aelflead met the other woman's gaze evenly as it turned harsh, then shrugged. "Hmph. Ensure your tongue is limber enough to pronounce my name proper when you address me, and I'll do my best to remember yours." She said, the closest to an apology the redhead would give.

Then after taking a deep breath, the redhead began to move again. Sliding the ball of one foot away from herself and across the ground, she shifted her center of gravity and began flowing into a new set of slow, deliberate movements. As she did, her breathing became almost melodically regular like the beat of a drum. In and out on a steady beat.

"You mean that hunk of ruined metal covered in hell flame?" The spurii asked, closing her eyes as she moved. "No. I'm an engineer, not a metal worker. Magic or otherwise, that thing is just a trophy right now."
 

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