Amongst the Sin Eaters

Shadows Touch Us All
by Shadow Orchid aka BatCat

Anything can be made contagious if you go about it the right way. Now, weather or not that’s the right thing to do is a mater of personal judgment. I’ve already experienced the diseased sting of societal rejection. Those that don’t even know me spurn me without qualms, simply because they have been infected with the rumors that somehow cause others to persecute me as they do. I’m now coming to know how infectious camaraderie can be, as well. The bonds don’t form as fast, but it is apparent that the foundations that companionship forms are exponentially more solid than those of petty rivalry. Still, this ‘party’ has brought together some interesting Malaphants. Sofy, though her mentally addled shenanigans failed to amuse me, has given me pause to consider an option that could be a possible, yet horrible, explanation for the ‘zombie’ infestation. I need to discuss my theories with Ady & Rast before telling Donizetti because of the nature of what it could mean. Hopefully we can speak before the evening is over.

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Thoughts, on the approach to exposition

Adamine 5

I turn away from the Morgana, having gotten the answer we were hoping for, and finding myself foolish for having hoped it. They are not the ones responsible for the undead horde gathering in the undercity… but they also have no idea who is responsible for it, and Hatabis has stopped answering their prayers. Whether or nor this means they have lost the ability to control the undead is uncertain at this stage, but if that is indeed the case, we have no way of stopping the zombies other than straight forward violence.

Even more disturbing than that is contemplating who is raising the dead, if not clan Morgana. This person or organization may be responsible for the other recent evils facing Amal, and may even be responsible for blocking Hatabis’ power from reaching the Morgana; a frightfully worrisome prospect, to say the least.

It almost makes one rethink their stance on a certain fledgling-tale character’s existence.

I chuckle to myself and mutter; “ Almost ” , before my eyes drift to the area I have been avoiding since I came back to the party.

There she is, smiling and laughing with a few others, tossing the vile moistened tendrils her long green hair. Though it makes me sick to my stomach even glancing at such repulsiveness, I can tell by how those around her are treating her, by their body language, that they are all held captive by what they consider great beauty. A fellow malaphant touches her arm flirtatiously, she glances coyly. Another laugh is shared by group.

This Selena Hoften, claiming to have once been involved with Shaeni, claims also to have seen me in those days. If this is true, she could only have approached me out of mockery. Out of some cruel drive to humiliate me.

If it is not true, which is what I am inclined to believe, then how did she know my sire’s name? And how did she know that at the mention of him I would come undone?

I disappoint myself, that I have lived this many centuries of unlife, and still the slightest whisper of his name affects me so.

Memories flood into my mind which I have tried so diligently and dutifully to forget, or at least to block out. Everything I felt during my time with Shaeni comes in to sharp focus, making me feel as if it would be no surprise to turn around and see him standing in the doorway, running a hand through his mane with his hard grin on his face.

I disappoint myself again by giving in to the dread and glancing quickly around the room.

I shake my head to clear it as I approach Donizetti and Shadow; these personal issues will have to wait until we have dealt with the zombies, and the children kidnappers, and the person claiming to be Mavarek, and after we find out who forced my companions and I to our slumbers. Though I may have Eyes discretely follow Miss.Hoften regardless.

I pause in my approach; ‘my companions’ and I? When did I start to consider these malaphants ‘my companions’? Rastan, yes, I have always gotten on well with him.. And Shadow has her moral code and passion for justice, which I have always respected… And since reading Donizetti’s diary and coming to understand him better…

I continue my approach. I cannot let myself get too familiar with these malaphant, and I swear to myself and to Thule that I will not.

But my companions and I will make Amal safe for the innocent.

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A relieving revelation

Adamine 4

I sit on the couch in Norihide’s office as he does paperwork for his employment, Mr.Donizetti’s diary weighing heavily in my hands. I have been completely still for half of an hour as I contemplate my next choice; do I read it, or no?

When he thought that Rastan and I knew of his projects, his power flared alarmingly, reminding me that, whilst I may be quite a bit older of blood than him, he has been conscious, active, and learning much longer than I have had the chance to. I have no way of knowing what powers he may possess… unless I read his diary… but if I do so, I will likely learn much which will cause Mr.Donizetti’s anger.

Then I must contemplate the sobering fact that Mr.Donizetti, Rastan, and Shadow are the only allies I have in this era; should I risk alienating the lot of them, only to sooth or confirm my doubts? Mr.Donizetti has been nothing but kind to me since my awakening; can I not trust him, without needing proof that he is trustworthy?

I know the answer before I even finish the question; no, of course I cannot lay my doubts asides and trust in this man. It would be irresponsible to do so, as he may have committed countless atrocities in his unlife. If he has, it is my duty to bring him to justice… or to die trying.

Finally, I open the cover of this weighty book, and begin reading. Within the first few pages I am overcome with pity and disgust. Is it of any wonder that we malaphant are such solitary creatures, when most all of us start so; robbed of every shred of dignity we may have once possessed? Is it of any wonder that so few of us crave the company of our peers when, first met, we were in such ignoble position?

After the first hour of my reading, Norihide finishes his paperwork and begins to watch me. I can feel his eyes upon me, but am too caught up in this unexpected tale to admonish him to mind where they stray. I read for hours, a picture of who Donizetti is beneath the airy demeanor forming from his words. Norihide eventually comes to sit beside me, and pulls me onto his lap; I reposition the diary so he will not be put in danger by the knowledge contained therein.

When I get to more recent times, I am filled with anxiety that Donizetti may have given in to himself with his estate full of young female thralls, and with Elona. I squirm nervously until the very end, when I close the diary with a laughing sigh of relief.

Norihide looks at me questioningly, the expression intensifying when I smile up at him. With a chagrined laugh I say; “I stood scornfully and mistrustfully over his man, who had offered me nothing but hospitality, and as it turns out, not only is this ally not wicked, he is the most moral man I have had the pleasure of meeting in this era!”

A look of doubt, then a fiery spark, come to Norihide’s eyes before he looks slightly away. I sigh, good mood swiftly dissipating in the reminder of my own moral failings. I get up from his lap, then look back at Norhide, saying; “I am tired.”

He smiles and stands quickly to join me as I head to his room.

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A Night I Would Just as Soon Forget, But Cannot

The night started off worrying. For some reason, Donizetti was not to be found when we all awoken. Searching the house didn’t seem to uncover his whereabouts either. It did not stay this way long however. When we started trying to figure out what had been going on, and more importantly, where he might be, my sire returned to us tattered and wounded. The servants rushed quickly to bring him inside and to safety. Perhaps I’m still too mortal for my own good, but the events of the night have some what blurred together in the rush of panic that swept over the mansion.

Somehow we managed to bring Donizetti up to his room. The servant girls proved to be damn-near useless as they clamored all over themselves to try to save their master. I try not use my ability to enthrall the hearts of others, but I did so anyways because the last thing we needed was the three fighting one another over who got to do what to save Donizetti. They became placent after that. I now see why Donizetti uses the power when he needs to persuade those who wouldn’t be so inclined to listen otherwise.

After debating on just what to do to save him, Shadow took the more Rubenesque girl away to become a flesh donor while the other two took turns feeding some of their blood to Donizetti. I was about to donate my own flesh and blood to my sire’s recovery when Adamine stopped me. I forget the exact wording of what she said, but the gist of it was that I would be enthralling him to my will. I wonder if that is what I did to her when she fed from me at the mausoleum. Perhaps this is why she has not yet left, and why she went with me later when I searched for Donizetti’s secret library to try to find some clues to his situation.

We managed to be able to find his library. Much to my frustration, when we finally got the damn thing open, there was another door inside. Normally, Donizetti’s playful humor would have been welcoming. This time is almost enraging. Quick thinking on my part lead to us going back and getting a key for the door, which Shadow, who had been looking over Donizetti while Adamine and I went to find the library had. In my rush to save my sire, I missed something so simple before hurrying off to complete my errand. Thankfully the key worked and let us inside.

There were a great many books and odds and ends once I entered the library proper. Adamine respectfully waited outside, whether this was due to some sort of respect or fear of what would be found inside, I do not know. There was a sarcophagus which I didn’t bother to look inside, and various other alchemical and mystical items scattered about the library. On the desk, I was able to find what I was looking for: Donizetti’s journal.

After reading the journal, I had Adamine join me to help me maybe make some sense of things. According to the journal, someone claiming to be Mavarek was Elona’s master. Donizetti decided to go looking through the sewers in the old city for answers. I might be considered foolish or crazy for such beliefs, but I believe that Mavarek is, or at least was real, as is a clan decended from him which is occassionally referred to as the Mavara in such decisions about the existance of Mavarek. For Donizetti to risk going into those sewers for answers is all the proof I need, because my sire is not the type of fool to go chasing after phantasms. Adamine seems to be another disbeliever unfortunately, though this may be due to the fact that she is human. As an elf, I know that there is much lost history, and it is foolish to think the old stories fantasy just because noone has definative “proof” from those times.

Gods help me, I lent my sire’s journal to Adamine. She read it, and I never got it back from before the end of the night. After lending her the journal to read for herself, I went to look through the shelves for answers. There was a feeling of being watched. And then this eye creature was found amongst the books on the shelf. I did not have time to fully take this in when Donizetti awoke and let out a loud scream in his bedroom. I rushed to attend my sire. I revealed that i had been in his library searching for answers so I might aid in his recovery. Adamine pocketed the journal. I wonder if she has read it yet.

It turned out that Donizetti found hordes of shambling zombies in the sewers. Despite his best efforts, he was unable to detroy the foul monstrosities, even when he blasted them with fire. Apparently, something must be done or these things will escape the sewers and threaten to overrun the city. Something will be done or at least more decided upon when after Donizetti holds his party for the city’s malaphant. I hope they will heed what he has to say, but I fear that some of the more headstrong elders will try to insist this is just the delusion of an old Sorae whose mind has been corrupted by his experiments. Whatever the case, something must be done, and soon.

~ Rastan Taranul
– Haltiatar childe of Donizetti Divatikol, Svarkaname Sorae elder of the great city of Amal -

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What Lurks in Shadows
by Shadow Orchid aka BatCat

A word of caution to those who go digging too deep for secrets: those secrets may be digging to get out. And when you meet, it’s hell unleashed. Secrets have a way of connecting to other, deeper, darker secrets. Lift away the rock to reveal a cavernous catacomb of lies, deceit, and betrayal that leads ever deeper into a labyrinth of roots composed of far worse deviation, and the sinister foundation that feeds those roots: unfathomable to those that wish to remain sane. I typically fight my battles on the surface, but there’s no denying that I would like it to be possible to get down to the root of the problem and effectively eliminate it. Effectiveness is the key concept here, and it’s becoming evident to me that even the powers of an experienced elder are impotent against the vast evil that underlies this city. I used my abilities to patch up and protect the wounded veteran while the others scurried about, attempting to discover how and why this happened, as well as what could be done in the future. Although I felt like I accomplished much, it all still seems so futile. Frustrations mount, but I’m expecting far worse.

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The Chalice 3

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This City Never Sleeps

Where to start? To say that I overestimated Adamine and Donizetti being able to find a common ground may be an understatement. I’m not really sure how they did things in her time, but it is clearly at odds with Donizetti’s relaxed and playful nature. Something strange was going on which made the papers. This time it was missing children who were mysteriously vanishing as soon as the authorities would get close to touching them. I’m not quite sure what to make of this, but part of me suspects it may have malaphant influence behind it.

I’m not sure how it came to that, but Donizetti and Adamine got into quite the heated argument. They are both too headstrong for their own good. Maybe that is a clue to what happened to Adamine, or at least why. I have only seen Donizetti get that angry less than a handful of times. The first was the conversation he and I had in which we discussed Ezenna and her sire’s betrayal of Donizetti, and more importantly, why I am not allowed court her. The second when some stranger that I wasn’t familiar with, nor did Donizetti let me or the services speak freely of it afterward, show up and called upon my sire to repay a debt owned to her. The third when I told Donizetti of my feelings for Ezenna and intentions towards her, in spite of having been forbidden to interact with her. I suppose it’s because he doesn’t like being questioned or challenged, but perhaps there is more to it than that. That he finds great difficulty in trusting Adamine, or believing she is who she claims to be. There is clearly much I am not privy to about the whole thing.

After their little scuffel, we all went to this park where Shadow Orchid had remembered seeing a man who acted strangely and children had gone missing from. I thought it would all be pretty cut and dry. Indeed, we did find the mysterious man we were looking for. And then things took a turn for the unexpected. It seems a gang fight between the Jzari Corp and some other group whose name escapes me at the moment was about to go down. One of the JCs grabbed the man to use as a shield. I was going to join in, and maybe clear my debt, until more enforcers from the rival gang showed up. I had not been asked to assist, and the others did not seem interested in joining in, so I left it at that. They came back shortly after finding a building with sweet smelling smoke coming out of it. At that point, we left so we avoided the fight before we got dragged into it to protect ourselves.

So we came back to Donizetti’s mansion, not really any worse for ware, but no closer to answers than when we left. Maybe if we get a chance, we can go back and investigate further. I for one do not like having loose ends, or not having answers to my questions. It feels like things are coming to a head. I feel that something is going on in this city, something big. Maybe we will find out what that is soon. Hopefully, we will not be too late to stop it.

~ Rastan Taranul
– Haltiatar childe of Donizetti Divatikol, Svarkaname Sorae elder of the great city of Amal -

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Leads and Dead Ends

The passage of time can be a blur. Four months can go by rather quickly when you’re keeping yourself occupied with many things. Between trying to investigate leads on what happened to us, leads on what happened to Ezenna and why – and more importantly, where she is, leads on Elona’s past, and taking time with Lady Adamine to teach her about the city and modern affairs – a kindness she has repaid me by teach me more about malaphant society.

Despite the basic knowledge Donizetti taught me while molding me into being a proper childe, I understand why there was much he didn’t inform me about. Knowledge can be a double-edged sword, because once you have, you often want to act upon it, or wield it like the weapon it can be. To think that we are even more ancient than twice Lady Adamine’s age is a lot to wrap my mind around. So much more than I could have imagined. Such knowledge comes with a price, and I’m afraid it was my naivety. It is now hard to not imagine our kind turning the gears behind it all in one manner or another, directly or indirectly.

Things with Ezenna have reached a stopping point. Behind establishing that she was not destroyed, and thus must still be out there, I have not be able to find anything to put my heart at ease. In spite of being a continual thorn in my heart, I can’t just turn my feelings for Ezenna off like flipping a light switch. Some nights, a part of me wishes a could, though I realize what that would mean I will have lost if such a case were possible.

Investigating into Elona’s past has proven simpler. Maybe it is because I’m not as emotionally invested in the elven girl to the degree I am with Ezenna. That is most likely for the best though, because I have a good idea of what Donizetti would do to me if I gave Elona a broken heart. I found out where our young maiden had been living before Donizetti found her. I was also able to find out a bit about things from before she ended up at that Orphanage as well. Seems our cherished Elona has a history of being a run-away. Part of me is glad that I couldn’t delve further into her past. I don’t think I want to know what she was running from before Donizetti found her. Hopefully, what I have found will satisfy him.

Investigating what happened to myself, Shadow, and Adamine has also been rather frustating. It’s as if the leads have been obfuscated from me, and without the right connects, I doubt I shall find out more. Donizetti has cautioned me to not be overly trusting with my new companions, and as such, I have been unwilling to yet offer myself to find out more in the only means I have at my disposal. I will not owe the Jzari Corp more than I already do.

Right now, I seem to be at my limit. With my focus so divided, I had not been able to further my study of blood magic. Prior to the events that started my acquaintanceship with Miss Shadow and Lady Adamine, I would have used this time for learning another ritual, or furthering my own power over the magic within my blood. There is still plenty of time for this, but I fear that without the answers I seek, I may not be able to slow down enough to properly focus on the study and practice I will need to advance, at least not yet. Alas, the power to accurately predict the future is still beyond me at this point.

~ Rastan Taranul
– Haltiatar childe of Donizetti Divatikol, Svarkaname Sorae elder of the great city of Amal -

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Pledge of Devotion

Adamine 3

Pledge of Devotion

Thule has no mercy for the wicked
and so neither shall I;
I shall exact His wrath upon them
with everything that I am,
until everything that I am is extinguished in the darkness
or until we can stand proud upon Agrimon
and judge it cleansed.

I shall let no vice detract from my duty;
flesh nor coin will hold sway with me,
and neither shall I pollute the vessel of His will
with the vile pleasures of mortal kind.
I shall be a beacon of purity and righteousness,
and by my blessed blade
Agrimon will know Thule’s love.

(The Pledge of Devotion is the prayer of the Devotees)

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Blending with the Shadows
by Shadow Orchid aka BatCat

There have been slow nights when I sit and wonder why I’m so different from other Malaphants, why they don’t seem to like me, or why we don’t get along very well. We are all a bunch of awkward, moody creatures, struggling to react and interact with one another as we did when we were alive. There is something about undeath that removes us from the web of life, forever distancing us from each other in a way that seems to pain us when we both try to get close and keep our distance. This tragic dance, this…requiem…we sing ourselves to try to ease that pain, must be learned if we want to maintain our humanity, and yes, our sanity, too. Each Malaphant I meet has their own oddly rhythmic shuffle, a personal dirge they move and sway to through the nights. Getting together with Malaphants I might consider friends can prove to be engaging. I’ve met up to discuss a particularly heinous string of crime, and decided we would act on it as a group. Though I normally work alone, I feel the Northern Elf and Ancient Human would benefit greatly from my skills as we investigate. As we went to do some initial legwork of scoping out the scene of the crimes, we were reminded that life goes on for the rest of the city. Mortals still quarrel with each other over ‘turf’, and it’s normally my policy to let those cretins thin themselves out. Seems I’m not the only one. We’ll try investigating the area again soon. I did notice a bar in the immediate vicinity, and have an idea to possibly stumble upon some info about the missing children from the patrons there. Since I’m not the best at that, perhaps one of my more socially inclined comrades would do better.

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