The Dreaming City III

The Dreaming City III

Upon the Catwalks Outside the Waterlily

High above the city streets of Shadowport, where only the foolish, desperate, or adventurous go, a lone figure stands upon the the highest, most precarious of the catwalks in the City. The dim glow of the lanterns barely outline her silhouette at this height, she leans precariously against the railing, as if she cares little for her 'safety.' She seems oblivious to the swaying catwalks, and to the howling underwind that has reached almost deafening tones.
Below the walks, the underwind surges, howling through windows of the residences snug beneath, nearly throwing off the singular candleflame of a candle upon a desk. As the flame wavers, the sea-elf working at his desk glances up, tilting his head towards the open window of his study room. Uttering a soft oath or curse to himself, he gets up to close the window. And as always, he glances out at the soft dim lights of the upper catwalks, lifting his head to stare at the darkness that is Shadowport, and even more curiously at a familiar figure high above there.

Sliding her hands along the thick rope of the railing, almost as if she is testing their strength. Talaria gazes down upon the city, appearing completely lost in thought. She thinks to herself, Why would they come to me now? What possible motive do they have?

Raising one hand to grasp her talisman, she stumbles a bit as a curious strong gust of wind rocks the catwalk. This must be why. There could be no other reason. Muttering a soft curse to herself, "affanculo." Her mind set. I simply cannot stay here any longer, she continues thinking to herself. Considering her options, one name comes to mind. Falennt.

Falennt leans out slightly, the wind buffeting his face and sending his loose strands of silvery hair into a wild dance. He'd wondered why she is up there, his eyes narrowing to catch a better observation of what she is doing. Of course, deciding against calling out - it is not in his nature to do so, the sea-elf sets his hand upon the sill and gracefully flips himself upon the ledge, pulling his lithe body up to the tiled rof of his residence, the darkness outlining his body in soft shadow.

Cursing the infernal howling of the underwinds, Talaria moves to descend the narrow stairwell to the lower level. Each step now carefully measured, her hand grasping the railing out of neccessity now, she carefully makes her way down the stairwell. Her attention now focused on her surroundings, she catches the shadowy outline of a figure. What /is/ he, she thinks, telepathic? Prepared to finally seek him out, and he appears. Perhaps I was more right than I thought.

Rather smiling to himself, Falennt crouches down upon the tiles of his residence's rof - more of necessity to fend against the screaming underwinds at this high a level. The shadows cascade around him giving the sea-elf almost a feathery outline of darkness, like a raven poised. He watches her movements with amusement, his silver-chased eyes caught onto every nuance and motion she does.

Now on the relative stability of the lower catwalk, Talaria looks at Falennt's outline, knowing that he is watching her now. Shaking her head slightly, she wonders if everything has to be cat and mouse with him. Smirking at this thought, she hastens her pace to approach his residence. Softly, she says to herself, "You can do this, you already made up your mind." Deliberately, she keeps her gaze focused on where she is walking, and not on Falennt.

Falennt tilts his head again, letting the wind play and tease his hair into a rage of silver rivers before he sits down, knees upturned and arms placed lax upon them, his gaze still trrained upon the moving figure. An odd little whimsical thought passes through his mind as he continues to watch her walk, slipping in and out of the halved shadows and dim lights of the catwalks' lamps.

Continuing her deliberate pace, Talaria nears Falennt's residence and stops. Her cloaked figure now exposed by the nearby lamp, she draws back her hood and looks up at Falennt, her eyes attempting to take in each nuiance of his expression. Watching. Judging perhaps. Deciding enough is enough, she states with a slight hint of humour. "Isn't a bit cold to be upon one's rof, Falennt?"

'Only if you come unto here and experience it for yourself.' Falennt replies, faintly enigmatic as always, his head lowering down to speak to her. The wind blows against his back, making the silk of his clothes ripple. Falennt leans back, setting one hand upon a tile, and tips his head sideways, 'You can, of course, come up here if you wish.' His lips drift upwards into a smile, offering invitation again to her, the second time.

Talaria considers this offer for a moment, her eyes regarding Falennt intensely. Shaking her head at the thought, she asks "I was actually wondering if your invitation to come in was still open."

Taking a deep breath, Talaria hesitates noticably. Frowning slightly, she continues, "We need to talk Falennt."

'Oh?' Falennt peers down at Talaria, and he draws himself to his feet, balancing and rather feline in his movements. He seems to consider and then a nod follows, before he slips back in through the window. A moment follows before the front door of the residence is opened to admit her.

Taking a moment to stop and pause, she gives the city below her one last look over the railing. Caught in its beauty for a moment, she tears her gaze from it and turns to the door. Sighing softly, she slowly steps over the threshold. She thinks to herself, with some regret, There's no going back now.

Falennt closes the door behind them - the single light of the tallow candle upon his desk providing dim illumination to a rather large study room. Two large windows are to the end, while cabinets and shelves of books run against one side of the wall next to the windows. A comfortable couch covered in black silk is tucked to the right, perpendicular to the ancient oak table on which tomes and writing materials are placed.

Talaria's eyes narrow a bit to adjust to the light. Taking in the full nature of his residence, she smiles as she watches the flickering shadows on the walls, contrasting sharply with the light provided by the candle upon his desk. Walking carefully, not wanting to disturb anything. She gently runs her hand over the smooth surface of the ancient table. A look of fondness crosses her eyes.

Turning to regarding Falennt now, his every movement and expression highlighted
by the candle's flame, she smiles, her voice soft. "It is exactly how I pictured it Falennt."

Falennt leans against the door, folding his arms above his chest, and crossing one ankle over another, 'Exactly how you pictured it?' His words hold quaint interest in why she would had thought so. 'It is a strange comment.' He says, moving away from the door to pass by her side, his sleeve brushing hers before heading to the window and pulling it slightly ajar.

Falennt turns, placing one hand on the sill and watches Talaria, his eyes blinking in a slow deliberate motion.

Talaria's smile fading, she cannot help but to wonder on the curious stance he has taken with her. Why is he so intent on keeping his distance? Ignoring this, she moves over the the couch, and without invitation, seats herself. Looking over to Falennt now, she replies. "It is simple, yet elegant. Why is that so strange of a comment to make, Falennt?"

'Perhaps just how direct it sounded.' The sea-elf shrugs lightly, walking away from the sill to seat himself into the large chair behind the ancient desk, placing his fingertips together and letting light glint off the Eye and the aquamarine he wears. 'What is that we have to talk about?' He asks very promptly, his obsidian irises dilating and contracting a little. 'You have worries, or requests?'

Silently cursing his directness, though she did have it coming, Talaria leans forward a bit, one hand sliding along the silk, feeling its softness. Her eyes darkening a bit, she simply states, "Both." Considering a moment, she moves her hand from the delicate silk to grasp her talisman. Regarding Falennt's every reaction now. She asks firmly, "Do you know what this is?"

'It is recognizable.' The sea-elf smiles at her, separating his hands and placing them upon the arms of the chair as he leans back against the worn, plush velvet backing. 'It is something most….precious to you, for you touch it many times before speaking, is it not?' He marks his words lightly, his tone non-committal. 'Now you hold it out to this, am I to be concerned of it too?'

All meaning leaves Talaria's eyes, her skin pales, reflecting apathy, or perhaps resignment. Shaking her head, she replies. "Precious indeed, it is why I am alive. However, it is of no threat to you." Hesitating, indecision now overwhelming her. She keeps her gaze fixed on Falennt. Softly, she ask, "Have you not noticed anything slightly…" she stops for a moment. "different about me?" All or nothing at all, she thinks.

Falennt gets up from his chair in one single languid movement, the wooden legs scratching the floorboards it is placed upon, 'No, but would you care to tell me or show me then?' He clasps his hands behind his back and walks away from his chair, pacing to be just a few footseps away from the couch, and her, his chin lowering slightly to level his obsidian eyes with her face.

Locked in Falennt's eyes, Talaria wonders if perhaps she's made a horrible mistake in her selection of Falennt. Shaking off this thought, she continues on, determined now. Showing no outward expression, she coldly asks, "Tell me Falennt, how old do you think I am?"

Falennt tilts his head in a most amused way, 'Older than me?' He replies suddenly impish in his answer, an abrupt change from the stoic demeanour earlier. He unclasps his hands and closes the rest of the distance, settling himself down onto the couch to sink into the soft silk, 'I am not ignorant, nor do I say I know many things.'

Sighing slightly and turning her head to face him fully. She wonders if he is simply being coy, or if the implication was understood. A slight smirk briefly flashes across her lips. Releasing her talisman now, she allows it to fall between her breasts, stating simply, "Then you know. You always knew."

'I don't rather.' He leans back against the couch, feeling rather comfortable amidst the silk, and that sickly sweet scent of rose petals about him, 'Is that all you wanted to talk about?' Falennt tilts his head slightly, turning to face her now, and up close, the slit obsidian irises, touched with lines of silver that are his eyes are wretchingly alien in their scrutiny of her face.

Shifting position on the plush couch, she slides one of her legs under her and leans in closely to Falennt, raising a hand, she gently runs her fingers down the side of his face, being mindful of her nails. Slowly, she opens her mouth slightly, allowing the tips of her fangs to be visible, glinting slightly in the light of the candle. Watching intently for his reaction, she says nothing.

Falennt's irises contract, the obsidian slits thinning to shards of black upon her display of bright white fangs, cast in shadow and hues of gold from the candlelight. He does not draw away for the moment, allowing her fingers to touch his face just enough to please her perhaps before he lowers his head, breaking away from the link of that touch.

Putting a little distance between herself and Falennt, perhaps out of respect, perhaps out of uncertainty. Talaria's eyes soften as she stares deeply into his. Her expression warming slightly, yet remaining serious. Now he knows. Regarding him intently, she states, "Now you perhaps have a better idea of why I came to you tonight Falennt. I need your help, for there is no one else I could possibly turn to."

'What do you need?' The sea-elf replies, arching an eyebrow. He does not shift from his position upon the couch, though his stance is still relaxed as he sinks back against the silks again, settling his hand on the couch's arm.

Taking a deep breath, unsure of how wise it would be to reveal more than she already has, Talaria's eyes glaze slightly, as if deep in thought. Moving her hand to gently cradle her talisman, she replies, "I need to leave the City, I need to be where certain elements of my kind cannot find me. The reason for this should not be of importance to you."

Falennt leans his head against the back of the couch, eyes drifting to the shadow-clung ceiling of the study as he pauses to run fingers through his hair for a moment. 'Leave the City?' He responds in a tone, nonchalant at its best, 'Is it that hard to do that for you?'

A brief flash of anger fills her eyes, quickly to disappear. I should be used to this out of /him/ by now. Shaking her head at Falennt in disapproval, she responds in a tone that hints at desparation. "You do not understand. Of course I can leave the City. I simply have no where to go where /they/ cannot find me." Slowly, her voice softening, she adds. "I do not have those resources."

Falennt tilts his head back down. His hand, nearest to her, lifts up, fingers reaching for the talisman around her neck and they curl around it firmly, lifting it up and away from her. 'This is them?' He asks faintly, irises dilating again, the tips of his fingers slowly stroking the talisman, feeling it. 'You do not know what will stop them from hunting you down?'

Recoiling slightly in surprise, though allowing Falennt to continue to feel her talisman, she explains. "I said that it kept me alive, this has been true for many years now. I fear that time may have come to an end. For what reason, I do not know. From what I know of them, my death will stop them. I should like to avoid that end."

Pausing slightly, intently regarding Falennt's reactions, she continues her tale. "A few nights ago, they sent someone to me. This person requested that I meet with someone whom I have never heard of. The pretense for this meeting… was at best, absurd. I suspect that it is nothing more than a trap for me. I was warned not to flee the City. I don't care to take the chance."

A short, perhaps laced with impatience breath exhales from Falennt's lips. 'Is it not as easy as just this?' His fingers sweep up the talisman's chain, finding the catch or knot that is hidden behind her neck.

With cold fingertips laying light touches on her neck as he leans closer, intent to just break the chain and he snaps it, pulling his hand away and allowing the talisman to drop by itself onto her lap.

A look of pure fear crosses Talaria's eyes as she looks down at the talisman in her lap. Anger now mixing with her fear, she looks at Falennt with disdain. Coldly, almost insulted, she replies. "You fool! That protects me from those of my kind who do not know they hunt me. With or without it, those who seek me can sense me. Their blood is in me. Do you not understand?"

Falennt settles back against the couch again, rather immune to the coldness in her voice, 'If they want you, do you think that can protect you from them?' He closes his eyes briefly, perhaps tired of her tirade. 'Child..' He mutters almost inaudibly.

Her voice tainted with frustration at his apparent lack of understanding, she answers "Of course it can't! It can however protect me from those who do not know. Some protection is better than none. It also…" She stops.

Having difficulty now with her words, her tone changes to one of detatchment. "It was a gift to me of my sire, one whom was presumed killed by those who seek me. I have never seen her again. It is all that remains of her."

Falennt's eyes remain firmly closed, the only motion be the gentle flare of the gill-slits at his throat at every exclamation she makes. His eyes open slightly after she has finished, 'You are done now?

The sea-elf rises up from the couch, smoothing down a side of his shirt that has crumpled, 'You want to leave the City, do you not?' He stares down at her, eyes unblinking.

Looking down at her talisman, Talaria picks it up gently and slides it into a pocket in her cloak, its chain shattered. Oh, I fear I've made a great mistake in coming to him, she thinks. Standing abruptly, she nods at Falennt slightly. Her tone still reflecting her frustration, she replies "Want to? I do not. I do however have to. Thus remains the final question. Can you assist me?"

Falennt's gaze does soften slightly, but the inhuman obsidian edge still stays, 'The talisman you wear, chains you right to this place where old ghosts haunt.' He responds, 'I can assist you, provided you release the ghosts that follow you.'

Falennt continues, painfully aware of the sudden guilty pulsation of the crimson pentagram at his own throat, 'Leaving the City is no answer for you.'

'You can escape to a new place, but the old ghosts will follow, and them.' He says, voice touched with weariness, perhaps as well mocking at himself. 'I reckon you do not understand and rather think I am insulting you.'

Considering his words, Talaria cannot help but see the wisdom in them. I am as good as dead with or without it, she thinks with sadness. Reaching into her cloak she draws out the talisman. Gazing down upon it with sadness, she allows the broken chain to slip through her fingers, the talisman falling to the floor. Closing her eyes, she whispers, "Omnia mutantur; nihil interit (All things are changed; nothing dies.)"

Her eyes linger on her past, defined by the broken talisman resting on the floor, glinting slightly, yet flickering in shadows. She turns her back to Falennt. "So be it." she states.

Falennt draws in breath, inhaling as his gills flutter against the stiff collar of his shirt. He flicks his tongue against his lower lip in contemplation. 'Rest here tonight then.' He says quietly, 'There is a room, below you can use.'

The sea-elf turns, stepping to his desk and pulling out the first drawer to pick up a old copper key, greenish patina covering it. 'Down the spiral stairs, to your left.' He places the key onto the table.

Slowly, as if torn, Talaria walks to the table and picks up the key, feeling the cool metal her in hand. Turning to Falennt, she can think of little to say that is appropriate. Regarding him warmly, she nods slightly. "Thank you for this. I feared I was mistaken in coming to you. It is fortunate that I was not"

Turning towards the stairwell, she moves quickly to it, perhaps hoping to escape before Falennt can reply. She deftly slips the key into the lock and opens the door. Glancing over her shoulder at Falennt, she can only wonder why he would help her. Entering the room and closing the door behind her, she sighs in relief. It's over. For now.

Falennt waits until he catches the faint shutting of the door in the room below and his shoulders sag briefly in weariness, finally allowing his stoicism to break as he places a hand on the table's edge to steady himself.

Biting his lower lip, the sea-elf pushes away from the table to scoop up the broken talisman from the floor, slipping it into a fold of his cloak draped upon his chair before he turns to watch the shadows and starlight outside the window.

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