Amongst the Sin Eaters

The Darkness of Shadow
by Shadow Orchid aka BatCat

In a constant struggle for balance, mistakes are made, lessons are learned, and measures are taken to restore equilibrium. What happens when your puzzle is missing pieces? You don’t flip the table in frustration, you find those pieces, whatever it takes. I’ll tell you one thing, when you’re forced to not play with a full deck, you lose your edge, and those mistakes seem easier to make & those lessons harder to learn. Balance is almost out of the question when the odds are so stacked against you that all you can focus on is surviving to the next night without someone else trying to pull you under yet again. So we keep moving, allies and enemies, regrets and delights, wins and losses, all strung along with us, just waiting to find their place in your puzzle, assuming you’ll ever find time enough to focus on that. And that’s something you must make time for, or all those pieces are going to go flying off, out of your control. I’m not about to lose my shit like that. I gotta get these guys out of here. They’re victims in this, just like me. We gotta get safe, and we gotta find out why this happened. Then we gotta make it right, cause we weren’t the only victims this night. This city is full of dark perversions, and I am one of them. All who make their home here, mortal and malaphant alike, cannot go untainted by its darkness, no matter how just our intentions may be. As I drive away from this cemetary, haunted with the ghosts of everyone’s mistakes, I can’t help but feel this city’s sinister grip on my dead heart tighten, tugging at my humanity, trying harder than ever to tip my balance to the dark side. There are times, like tonight, that I feel like it wins. That’s why I do what I do for this city. Someone has to work to keep the balance. Maybe this was a wake-up call. Maybe I need to let the city work on its own balance while I work on my own problems. It’s not like this place will get better on its own. There will be plenty of justice to dispense when I get through with all this.

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An end to everything, and a disgraceful beginning

Adamine 1

I somehow woke up after that terrible ordeal, in total darkness, and thought at first that Thule had granted me the mercy of taking my sight from me. Pitch darkness in a confined place, with the hunger gnawing and raging inside me…Then I broke out of the coffin I had been shoved into, and the scenery was the same as ever. Fighting back the familiar revulsion, I took in my surroundings; there were more coffins around the one where I had been forced to my slumber. As I watched a glistening, slimy, veiny blue arm punched it’s way out of one of them…. I was.. so hungry.. and I instinctively bit into it, drinking of it’s blood. Aaahh, I had forgotten! I hadn’t drank of a malaphant since Shaeni, and over the years the rushing, white hot pleasure of it had been driven from my mind. All else faded to insignificance, even the grotesqueness of having this /thing/ in my mouth, in the ecstasy of the moment. I think I would have lost myself in it if it were not for hearing a noise behind me. I released the malaphant’s arm, turned, and pounced on the elf I found there. Thule help me, it was only a child, but in my mindless hunger the small, monstrous form soon stopped struggling as I drained her. I kept drinking and drinking until there was nothing left, then I started eating… When the haze of hunger lifted, I scrambled back, a few red tears falling to join the blood smeared around my mouth.

The malaphant had freed himself from his coffin while I had been feeding, and stood, looking at me. Shame welled up inside me, and I was nearly sick. I stood and he introduced himself as Rastan Taranul. I asked him the year, expecting five or, at worst, ten years to have passed… his response was nearly unintelligible over his strange accent, but it contained an era’s name I had never heard of, and so I told him the last date I remembered… and he fell to his knees before me. Rastan told me deferentially that I was the oldest malaphant he had ever heard of, and that it had been three millennia… three millennia! I felt myself go numb, and sat down heavily.

Another figure came into the room; a nephasil, judging how wet, matted fur stuck out at odd angles between her shining, bloody exterior.. I barely registered the oddity of the fact that she had wings, I was in such shock. She challenged me, saying I could have not been from the era I remember, and could have simply had my memories altered.. but no, no application of Domination is this complete, and, regardless, time had rotted my clothing away to.. immodest scraps. She had killed another of the children, as had Rastan, so I suggested feeding their.. remains to the remaining malaphant trapped in slumber. I thought that, if I could just save this individual, it would.. start making up for what I did to the child… Elain was her name… I musn’t forget. Elain, my first victim and transgression in this new age. ……We tried to feed one of the boys, Jak, to the slumbering malaphant; ..we hadn’t realized how much time had passed with us talking.. so the malaphant died when it tried to drink from the boy. My second victim, nameless.

The three of us left, Rastan promising to be my guide in this new era, and Shadow (as the nephasil is named) going to fetch a cart. Only, when Shadow led us to the cart, it was metallic, and was unhorsed. We got inside regardless, and Shadow inserted a small key into a part of the interior, causing the cart to start growling and thundering! I nearly jumped out of my skin, expecting an attack, but Rastan and Shadow acted as if this was an everyday occurrence. Shadow did something with her feet, and the cart started moving of it’s own accord! She also had a brick earlier, which sang and told her where we were; she must be a magic item artificer, and by the way Rastan reacted, this must be common in this era. In fact, we passed hundreds of the carts on our way to Rastan’s sire. I stared out the window of the cart in fear and wonder; the buildings of the the city went into the sky, windows and streetlamps were ablaze, the other carts whizzed by, and I was deeply grateful that I would have Rastan to teach me how to interact and navigate this strange new landscape.

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Confessions of an Occult Scholar

When I woke up, all was darkness and confinement. Disoriented, I struck against my confinement, and much to my surprise, I broke through something solid. The next thing I know, I feel the sense of someone biting onto my arm. And then the familiar sense of pleasure bleed in. As intoxicating as the feeling is, I was able to break free of the bite of this person who would feed upon me. And then I freed myself from my confines.

Turns out I was in a coffin, which would make sense given my abduction last night. When I find the guilty party, I will make them greatly suffer for what they have done to me. They should have realized I would not willing enter the Sleep of Kings. And they did nothing to properly bind me either. Amateurs! When you do this, you better make sure you do it right, or you best not be around to suffer the consequences of your incompetence.

While I took in my surrounding, apparently the person who tried to feed on me as well as a couple of young adults. The stranger pounced on the girl, and took to draining her dry and then consuming her. The boy that was with her decided to bolt. I watched this fellow malaphant for a moment, and then ran down the boy. I leapt upon him, and over the sounds of flesh being consumed, I barely noticed the sound of the boy’s neck snapping. Having been properly taught by my sire, I did not let my kill go to waste, though I didn’t consume much more than I need to rise for the night and regain my senses.

The next thing I know, the woman who made a mess of the girl came to her senses as well. It was around this time that I noticed noises in another part of the mausoleum we were in. Another being had been put down here as well. This time it was a female nephasil. She had pounced upon another teenager. I followed my way to the sounds, and watched her feed upon the lad. It was then that I noticed she had bat wings. Most pecular! I wonder where she got them from.

I started to converse with this human woman that had made such a mess of that girl. She appeared to have woken up from a rather long torpor, because all she was wearing was strips of old clothing that had long since gone to rot. I introduced myself to this mysterious woman. She told me her name, and then asked the year. I told her, and she was in shock. I asked Adamine Sorice, this is the name she gave me, what the year was when she was bound and forced to slumber. I was then in for a shock myself. I had not expected her to be as old as she is, if her memories are indeed true.

Lady Adamine had been put into torpor IE 1823, which made it over three milennia since she had last been active. I didn’t bother to find out how long she had been active before then. I just dropped to my knees in awe. Lady Adamine is the oldest malaphant I have ever heard of. She is more than thrice the age of any currently active in our city. At least as far as I am aware. I must bring her to Donizetti Divatikol, my sire. He will have questions for her. Perhaps he will have an interest in the nephasil as well. I made Lady Adamine a promise to be her guide for our modern city. Much better to keep an eye on her this way, and what a powerful ally she shall make!

Apparently there was another malaphant who had failed to awaken in another coffin. A cellphone the nephasil (I need to learn her name soon) rang. Lady Adamine mentioned that the “brick sung” and that drew my attention to the fact that the we should get going. The nephasil then proceeded to loot the other corpses and then place the corpses into coffins, to help clean up some of the mess. Though the cat woman made the point that we should hurry, Lady Adamine refused to leave the slumbering malaphant though he was really not our concern.

After a while of trying to argue the point, I finally gave in. She refused to see reason, and I was not about to lose such a valuable asset. I brought forth the corpse of the boy I had put down, who’s name turned out to be Jak I believe. Not caring how long it had been since I made the kill, I put the wrist of the elven lad to the mouth of this malachite who had not awakened on his own. Instinctively, he bite down to take in this boy’s essence. And then he vomited the blood, convulsed, and turned to ash. Apparently, the corpse was no longer fresh. Lady Adamine kicked the coffin in frustration. Personally, I was relieved. Not only did it not mean another to potentially hinder us, but also if he were too weak to sustain himself unassisted that poor bastard didn’t deserve to continue his unlife.

When we finally exited the mausoleum, there were two cars out by the gates of the cemetery we were inside. The nephasil went to check the cars. Lady Adamine had disappeard momentarily, and I decided to use this moment to contact my sire, Donizetti , and let him know what had happened to me, as well as that I would be accompanied by Lady Adamine and the nephasil. Apparently while I was communing with Donizetti, the nephasil had gone back into the mausoleum with someone. So focused on communing was I that I barely noticed the noises which escaped the crypt before the nephasil did again.

Shortly there after, we all headed to the cars. I gave the nephasil, who’s name I found was Shadow Orchid, the directions to get to Donizetti’s estate. Lady Adamine rematerialized from the shadows at this time. Now as we make haste from the grizzly butchery at the mausoleum and head to my sire’s haven, I can’t help but wonder what awaits us once we arrive there. Will I be able to track down those who did this to not just me, but Shadow as well? And why was Lady Adamine’s coffin in that same mausoleum? So many questions to be answered. I just hope that the answers will be forthcoming.

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

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Elapsed time, and establishing shots

Adamine 2

Four months have passed since that fateful night Rastan, Shadow and I awoke from our slumbers, and I must say, I pity Rastan as much now as I did the night I first met his sire. Mr.Donizetti is a flighty, debauched aristocrat, the exact kind of man this city of depravity was built on, whereas Rastan seems much more the serious, scholarly type. Perhaps Mr.Donizetti only plays the fool so that others will underestimate him, though if this is so, he is a better actor than I have seen in my many years. Rastan does not seem to mind his sire’s antics, however, as long as his liege still has knowledge to pass on to him.

Then there is the mortal woman, Elona.. Mr.Donizetti insists he has not bound or enthralled her, and that the way she acts is by her own free will.. If this is indeed true, and if it is also true that he has not used any of his clan’s powers on her, then this young woman is of a severely damaged psyche, seeming to delight in servitude. She acts almost exactly like a ryuube to it’s master, in fact; a trait that is disturbing, to say the least, in a fully realized and sentient mortal being.

Shadow is a little more difficult to pin down. Her sire was apparently very unpopular with the local malaphants, and was consumed in the amaranth. Shadow, by association of her sire’s blood, is also looked down upon by most of the others. She seems bitter, and no wonder, with some of the whispers and jeers I have heard about her in my short time in this era. Shadow also says that she is an avenger of innocents, and punisher of the wicked, and if that is so, we may indeed have more in common than I originally thought.. Though, the night we awoke, Mr.Donizetti had a mortal who was attending the party on his estate brought to us to feed upon, and when I refused and sent the man on his way.. Shadow seemed very much like she would have eaten the innocent drunk without a second thought.

Shortly after I awoke, I captured and spoke with a crow, and enthralled it, to aid me in keeping a watch on the mausoleum and anything that I might need. I named it ‘Eyes’, which it seems to have taken to with humor. A while later, realizing my vulnerability, I found myself a stray dog, a bull mastiff. Already a very large creature, my blood made him grow to my own height! He follows he nearly everywhere, an intimidating canine who keeps most threats from thinking of bothering me. I named him Guardian, and he fulfills that roll perfectly, as well as the roll of mount due to his massive size.

Finding wicked people in this city is no harder now than it was before my slumber, but hiding the evidence of their disposal has become much more difficult. I realized this quickly, and so investigated how the mortals of this city deal with those even they deem too wicked and unlawful to be allowed; my search led me to Talmund Penitentiary, the place where the worst sort of criminals are shut away. I was hoping I could use my stealth to feed upon it’s wicked populace, but that proved impossible, as the warden of this prison, a oni by the name of Norihide, was much more in control and hands on than is usual. I am….. terribly ashamed of myself for what I did next; I approached him one night as he was leaving work, and pretended to lust for him. When Norihide lifted me into his arms and kissed me (he is such a large man that there are several feet between our heights) I bit into my tongue, and fed him my blood. When I asked him to put my down, he was disappointed, but complied. I promised him I would be back the next night, and so it progressed that I enthralled and bound him to me. I know that without Norihide, I would never have gained access to the prisoners of Talmund, and thus access to food, and the ability to punish the most wicked of this sin soaked city, but still.. I regret it profoundly. Enthralling sentient creatures is the worst sort of slavery; slavery of the mind, and heart. Norihide loves me completely.. the hopeless, cruel love of a thrall. The way I went about it.. it is so terribly familiar that it makes me sick.

I lay here now, paying my penance for what I did to him; I lay on my side as sunrise approaches, Norihide’s warm body pressed up behind me, so large that, when standing, my forehead is level with his bellybutton. One of his arms is around me, larger than my torso, the hand of that arm around one of mine, and he is using his free hand to gently stroke my hair, inhaling the scent of me. I spend most my days so, now; I had originally planned to only grant him this once a week, following the night I let him imbibe me, but I know he values these moments with me more even than his own life, and so when he asks me to stay the day.. How could I deny him such a simple and easily granted pleasure, after what I did to him?

Norihide runs the tip of one of his fingers over the place my pinky and ring finger should be, and opens his mouth to ask me about it, but I cut him off, saying; “I would rather not speak on it.”

“A’course” He wraps his hand completely around mine protectively, then chuckles; “Never woulda thought I’d be in bed with a Devotee.”

I say his name in a warning tone, and he says; “I know, I’m sorry. I was only kidding around, Dee.Sorice, I’m sorry if I offended ya.”

I smile slightly at being addressed by my churchly title, and my voice softens as I say; “Do not worry, Norihide, no offense was taken; it is hardly your fault that you have such thoughts.”

Norihide’s arms tighten around me, and he is silent for a moment, before saying lowly; “I would love ya even without yer blood, ya know.”

I do not answer him, knowing he believes what he is saying, and knowing equally that it is as untrue said by him as it is when any thrall says it.

…Though, if I close my eyes, it feels comforting, natural and safe, enveloped in the strong arms of a man who loves me…. and so I keep my eyes open, focusing on the grotesque sight of my surroundings, and his wet, bloody, throbbing arm, until the very second the day sleep takes me.
.
.
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(NOTE: Devotee is the title for people of the church of Thule who take vows of chastity and poverty, and who are trained to bring down the wicked. Originally, ‘D.’ was used as a short-form in written text, but the whole word was still said, much like ‘Mister Shaw’ is written ‘Mr.Shaw’, it would be ‘Devotee Shaw’, written ‘D.Shaw’. Over time people took to shortening the word when speaking as well, so now ‘D.Shaw’ would be said ‘Dee.Shaw’)

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The Chalice 1

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A Long Shadow Cast
by Shadow Orchid aka BatCat

The months since the incident at the tomb have been bittersweet, as licking the blood of the innocent off my fingers; it sustains me, but at what price? And the taste, THAT taste, will never leave my lips. These hands, stained a deeper purple than the rest of me, burn and glow with a despair that only I can see, only I can feel. They reach out, grasping for a string of thought, a way to make things right, only to have retribution snatched from me. The lone mother, her only family slaughtered by us Malaphants, in her depression over her lost loved ones, died from an overdose before I could take any efforts to bring stability back to her life. I realize nothing I would have done over an entire lifetime could have been sufficient, but attempting to do so would at least assisted with helping maintain my humanity, assisted with preventing me from becoming such a monster again. I keep their photos with me still, as their spirits may yet linger and cause me grief, so shall I be reminded that I must fight for what is right, and not give in to the darkness. I am focusing on my goals of avenging the innocent in this city, beginning with honing the skill my sire taught me was the signature power of our clan. I slake my thirst for flesh and blood on criminals, but this is a warning for them, a lesson they are allowed to live through, so they may learn from their mistakes, and seek to right the wrongs they have done. With the use of my fleshcrafting, I remove a few strands of muscles from the arms of the wrong-doers I catch. This leaves them largely ineffective at gripping and wielding weapons, yet still allows them to do simple tasks that don’t require a strong grip, so they can attempt to make a living without perpetrating violent crimes. Another way I have kept my hunger for flesh in check is by offering my services as a Holistic Weight Loss Massage Therapist. With the help of Rastan and his sire, I have been introduced to quite a number of wealthy clients who pay generously for me to relieve them of their excess flesh. In return, Mr. Donizetti asks that I prepare him some ‘hors d’oeuvres’ from certain types of clients that he is fond of. Of course, I occasionally volunteer my services to those I know would be in need. The people I’ve gotten to know around the city, all of them have mortal needs, needs that I overlook sometimes, being a Malaphant. For example, I noticed Manny, the butcher that owns a little shop on 33rd street had his hand in a cast because it had gotten caught in the grinder. With the power of my blood, an injury such as that would be completely healed in just a short amount of time, but this cripples him, as well as his productivity in his business, for months on end. Knowing my talents could heal him, I could not walk away without offering my services. Although he was skeptical of my Holistic Massage Therapy skills at first, I convinced him to let me try to help speed the recovery of his mangled hand. After working with his hand for a few minutes, it was nearly as good as new, needing only a few more short weeks for the bones to readjust. I feel I may soon be ready to start working with boneshaping as I hone my skill in vicissitude. He now honors me with free ‘fresh’ meat whenever I stop by. I humbly accept, of course, then anonymously gift it to one of a few needy families a few blocks over. I really feel like I am starting to make a difference in this town, but there are still those that would want me gone, try to stifle my progress, or destroy the contacts I’ve made. Indeed, there are days I wonder if I will turn the corner and see Manny’s place on fire, his family cursing me, the vandal claiming he did it because I was Manny’s friend. It is because I fear this that I ask those I befriend to keep their knowledge of ‘The BatCat’ a mere rumor, and their acquaintance with me strictly confidential. Still, I know people talk, so I don’t expect complete silence or anonymity. This, I suspect, as well as thugs that are unhappy with my brand of justice, is what got me kidnapped in the first place. Yet, this is the life of a vigilante, I know the risks, and I accepts them. I’ve taken the fall for dispensing my justice, and I pay for it, every day. Yet I rise again, each night, and carry on, because that is what must be done. There is a faceless evil in this city, and also in every one of us, and I shall fight it to regain and keep the balance until I am a pile of smoldering ash. Even then, I am confident that others will carry on in my stead.

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The Chalice 2

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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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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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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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