Amongst the Sin Eaters

Strings of Shadows
by Shadow Orchid aka Eliza

Life, undeath, sanity, reality…it all unravels when you let that ball of yarn fall free from your grasp. Who we have control over, as well as who controls us, is never simple or apparent as it may seem. Sometimes that ball of yarn is knocked away, and you can either watch helplessly or clumsily scramble after it to stop the unraveling. Witnessing this happen to someone, or the aftermath, is hard to turn away from. You may or may not have wished it on them, but you thank the Gods it wasn’t you, and pray to them you’re not next. Then you go about your business, whatever crazy shit that may be. You use your skills to help you and yours survive. And if things go your way, you’ll still be holding the ball at the end of the night. Just don’t forget, tomorrow might be worse, so hold tight.

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A Violent Shadow
by Shadow Orchid aka Eliza

Everyone has their own personal problems they must resolve. Men & Beasts, Malaphants & Gods. Many here in Amal respond with violence; it’s all they know. Regrets over a primitive and simple use of violence can be crushing. Even sophisticated plans that incorporate violence will inevitably lead to the damage of one part or another. That’s the point of violence anyway, right?

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Whose Afraid of Sofy Annabella?

So after trying to find some answers, it took a turn that we weren’t expecting. Somehow it all lead back to Miss Sofy Annabella. It seems that she has a whole other side to her. And that her retainer Adam Atreall was the man from the night we woke up in the crypt. I’m not sure what she spoke of with Shadow, but I was able to talk with Adam during that time. I got some answers, but not nearly as many as I wanted. Adam seems deathly afraid of Sofy’s other personality, to the point that he believes even saying the name of the other will make her awake. Perhaps we will discover the truth of the matter very soon. But for now we just need to push forward.

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

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Eliza's Shadow
by Shadow Orchid aka Eliza

The whims of the powerful are fickle and nonsensical. That’s because they can afford to be. The silencing of negative reactions to them can be swift & merciless. They could also choose to make an example of the nay-sayer, torturing them as a cat does a mouse, until they become bored and finally end it. It can be difficult to gage the power of a Malaphant. It is required in our very nature that we pretend to be what we are not. The longer we are around, the easier it becomes to mask other things about ourselves. This can become a necessity to survival, especially if we develop particularly nasty habits. In this town, ‘nasty habits’ are a way of life. Those of us interested in a more righteous path, fight not an uphill battle, but straight up a wall. Falls are more treacherous, blows from above heavier, and sometimes just hanging on without progress is your only option. And sometimes, to avoid an impossible battle, you must show humility, and call for a truce. Living or undead, we are all selfish creatures, and tend to take things too personal. Setting your selfish pride aside and owning up to a mistake is an option many in power never consider, and a recourse the powerless are loathe to undertake. Who wants to publicize their failure to others, whether en masse or one-on-one? To admit their defeat? That they’ve lost ground in the vertical wars we fight with each other, with the world? Nobody. In fact, it can embarrass the ones you beg forgiveness of because the occurrence is so uncommon that it catches them off guard. You’ve put them on the spot to come up with a task of some kind for you to undertake to gain their forgiveness, so be prepared to follow through. If you’re lucky, the act of showing submission and requesting to be forgiven is enough. It’s possible that it will be a more demeaning show of submission such as a public flogging. Or it could be something completely random and harmless, such as what I encountered. Even though I trust I am forgiven, I know my trespasses will never be forgotten, by neither Sofy nor myself. There is much work to be done, a swath of mysteries to unravel, and not having the dagger of an unstable elder at my back is preferred.

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Like Pulling Teeth

Donizetti had us meeting with an informant of his, a ryuube named Spot. For every straight answer we got from him, I swear the damn mutt looped the conversation around at least twice. I don’t know if it were intentional, or just how ryuube are. Lucky nothing in the sewer got the poor fellow, but the whole conversation almost made my brain hurt. Hopefully we will have more answers soon, as I’m getting tired of feeling like we’re running in circles.

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

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Where Shadows May Lead
by Shadow Orchid aka BatCat

Theories come and go like sand through your fingers. You think you have something solid, but scrutiny exposes the frailty of the chunk you hold, and it dissolves away into nothing. Yet you move on to the next one, hoping that, as the sand slips away, a gem of knowledge will be left behind. As anything in life, sorting through theories can be interrupted. This mewling pup, though I suppose he has his uses, presents his finding sprinkled with his own petty concerns. I can’t help but feel annoyed by the Ryuube. I have heard tales of the ancient feud between our cat and dog ancestors, before we even came to this planet. Though his personal concerns have validity, I feel minimal sympathy for our stuttering, little informant. Still, I’m curious to see where this all leads…

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Socializing

So in an attempt to find more answer, Donizetti held quite the party. Most of the people I was familiar with from past gathers showed up. I must be honest, I was a bit surprised that the Morgana showed up. Perhaps there is information to be gained from them. There were a few bigger surprised that the night held.

For the first time since I’ve known her, I saw others for the first time treat Shadow Orchid as though she’s got some stigma attached to her. Sofy was harmless enough, if enraptured by Shadow’s strange appearance. It was later when some howdy-towdy malaphants I was not familiar with started in on her that I saw for the first time the truth of her claims of being an outcast. I nearly drew my rapier to run the scurvy mongrels through, when Donizetti stepped in and politely told those pretentious assholes off. They said they would make him pay for what he did. Maybe if we are successful in doing something about the zombies, the bullies will get their chance. If they push the matter though, I’m sure the city and our not-always-polite society will not miss them one bit.

Adamine ran into quite a surprise. Apparently another of her clan nearly as old as she showed up. This Nellim claimed to be a lover of Adamine’s sire. Adamine seemed shocked and disgusted. Despite my efforts to determine whether the lady was lying, I was unable to do so. If the woman had indeed been a lover to Adamine’s sire, perhaps he showed a different side to her than he had shown Adamine. He must have been quiet evil to Adamine, because I heard the contempt in her voice when we discussed the topic. Hopefully she will be alright.

Much to my surprise, Donizetti and I, well and also Ezenna wherever she is, are not the only Sorae in the city. Perhaps my sire has intentionally stayed out of touch with his clan after the betrayal surrounding Ezenna. A most aureate Sorae came to our home, acting as those we owed him something. What an ass! For some reason, he had sewer mud on his shoes when I had the displeasure of making his acquaintance. He said that he had just stepped in, and judging by the way he was acting with the other elders, I left it at that, though I told Donizetti about the warlock. Making such an accusation would not go unpunished, even were it true. Hopefully, I shall never have this bastard cross my path again. Nearly every fiber of my being wanted to pounce upon this asinine creature and drain him of his existence, but Donizetti had taught me better than to resist those dark urges. Still, I hope something appropriately foul befalls the man.

Despite the party seeming like it might just be the place to find some answers, it proved lacking. If any were found, it was not by me. It was a nice little reminder of just what my place in our society is. Hopefully something beneficial will be gained, otherwise I’m not sure what the point of the whole evening was other than to pretend everything was business as usual. There is more going on in this city than these parties would suggest, and I will not rest until I learn more. Perhaps in time I will come to regret that decision.

It seems that Shadow has something she wants to talk to me about. Perhaps she will want me to help her get in touch with those Gairenons she was chatting up. At least, there were some good things about this party as well then. Maybe it wasn’t such a waste of time after all.

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

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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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