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This page conserves the character fiction forum of the Agora forums. The posts have been left unformatted to make it easier for users to copy them here and paste them into the new forums.

Oren Itanooren12/10/08 18:25View
Missy12/10/08 22:22View
The backstory of Vulpes.Vulpes12/11/08 01:46View
Erica KesselErica Kessel12/11/08 07:52View
Missy's Story.. a Do-over and another ChapterMissy12/11/08 22:38View
UsrBinPerl12/11/08 23:48View
oren12/11/08 23:57View
Kwekwe's BackstoryKwekwe Karu12/12/08 01:02View
UsrBinPerl12/13/08 00:35View
Eternal SunsetMissy12/13/08 12:19View
Kit Ristow12/14/08 00:01View
ShyMathys12/14/08 00:27View
MasksAlissa12/14/08 00:58View
Lorae12/14/08 01:24View
UsrBinPerl12/14/08 22:07View
Missy's Story Continued..Part 3Missy12/16/08 08:43View
Missy's Story Part 4: Innocence ShatteredMissy12/16/08 18:34View
Missy's Story Part 5: Innocence AnnihilatedMissy12/18/08 17:16View
Small DangersVox12/18/08 21:36View
Saint of The Abyss: Part 1Luciferiel12/19/08 05:21View
Zero....-1Justa Zero12/19/08 17:38View
Zero....1Justa Zero12/19/08 18:26View
Óðr’s Daughter. Chapter I: A Guiding DreamAsil Karu12/20/08 02:39View
Omega To Alphaerinnic12/23/08 16:49View
Her Bloody Tears [-Past Event-]Methias12/23/08 18:09View
Lost Kitsune - A Shattered MindKiera12/25/08 18:51View
Usr's story Part IVUsrBinPerl12/27/08 20:34View
The EssexHeir Maelstrom12/29/08 04:23View
Kwekwe's shameKwekwe Karu12/30/08 18:11View
Joint Round Robin Fic Anyone...?erinnic12/30/08 19:07View
God Was On Her Lips As She Diederinnic01/02/09 23:31View
Love and Betrayal - A New Beginningkessjuliesse01/03/09 13:46View
The Diary of Cody Woodhencodywoodhen01/05/09 21:35View
Missy's Story Part 6: Innocence AbductedMissy01/07/09 06:23View
Cursed BladeYannis_Martynov01/08/09 21:27View
Story Thread: Community Round Robin Ficerinnic01/09/09 23:25View
The demon withinCanly Fargis01/11/09 16:14View
Ziau- CoLA's Very Own CasanovaZiau01/13/09 02:09View
Twisted Attentionserinnic01/21/09 20:34View
Inspiration- music and roleplayZiau01/26/09 08:01View
Compilation! Where were you when it all happened?Ziau01/28/09 09:12View
The Clock Struck MidnightMalice Ashdene01/28/09 22:31View
With Precision- a poem by Kelly Welch A.k.A Ziau Jua.Ziau01/29/09 04:36View
Alisa's dicovery of a new world (character sheet + story)Alisa Draconia01/30/09 19:17View
The Shadow Stepper- Ziau the Enshadowed.Ziau02/01/09 07:26View
Krista Lemon arrives to the streets of Lost AngelsKrista02/03/09 00:09View
Back Story Upto the Excile of Rune.RuneCrimson02/03/09 21:59View
War with the Brood, war with the Coven, and the Pack.Ziau02/07/09 04:11View
-- Halcyon's Backstory --Halcyon Nacht02/08/09 00:22View
Planer/Exonar family (aka, Erinyse, Khalan, Viridian, Cummere, Selena)Cummere Mayo02/08/09 03:53View
Kit's BackstoryKit Ristow02/10/09 18:40View
Eyes in the DarkKeyla02/11/09 09:47View
Surfacing Part ILlyr02/13/09 22:21View
Surfacing Part IILlyr02/13/09 22:35View
Tama-Chan: A Cat's Story (Tamara's background)Tamara02/17/09 07:35View
Project: A map of Post Apocalypse North AmericaTamara02/17/09 19:21View
Dreamtime RevelationsWinter02/19/09 18:08View
Reaver-the echo of the BlackwindAntiZero02/23/09 00:43View
On the Origin of SpeciesTamara02/25/09 22:38View
ConfessionKit Ristow02/26/09 01:39View
Personnel File: Pointe, Zsuzsanna C. (Inactive, Deceased)Su Pointe02/26/09 03:32View
Malice, in a Different Kind of WonderlandMalice Ashdene02/27/09 18:07View
The Dark of InspirationKit Ristow03/01/09 21:42View
Jheric: CrucifiedKayle Ashdene03/03/09 10:53View
It's my lifearsene_Braveheart03/05/09 18:18View
The Tradgedy of the HybridDigital Enigma03/29/09 07:09View
The Sin of Wrathmolly switchblade04/02/09 21:28View
Golden BoyEphran Ehrler04/15/09 06:12View
Story About A GirlAesendria04/24/09 15:34View
Climaxe by Smith and WessonSloan04/28/09 06:19View
My new project ATTENTION Russian Characters!Ziau05/01/09 06:42View
**NSFW** A Typical Tuesday Night for MissyMissy05/06/09 20:48View
Post your profile links!Cortero Landar05/07/09 10:25View
Making Logan SufferAesendria05/12/09 07:09View
Jeanne VarunJeanne Varun05/14/09 08:24View
The Vanguard's True PurposeLogan05/16/09 01:03View
Cortero's Infernal ArmorCortero Landar05/16/09 06:52View
Bookstore SurpriseAesendria05/16/09 23:16View
Post your profile links if you have in-story info in them!Cortero Landar05/18/09 10:33View
PromisesAesendria05/24/09 02:44View
Cyber Evolution Bios, Anur Seda, Cyber Reaper, and Commander of CETheassassin06/08/09 11:28View
Was any of it real?Youko_Giha06/12/09 15:28View
A shift in prioritiesLogan06/17/09 04:21View
Going homeLudvig06/17/09 19:10View
'Ren in Japanoren06/18/09 23:11View
Thelma across the boardThelemaJuliesse06/26/09 15:09View
Pre-fiction: How Kayteear got here.Kayteear07/15/09 16:43View
Story TimeCharissa07/17/09 19:03View
Pack Airship RP.Tai07/27/09 02:49View
My CharacterLilith1308/05/09 22:34View
LilithLilith1308/06/09 09:30View
The Haunter in the DarkShadow08/14/09 21:50View
The Flying HeadsKwekwe Karu08/16/09 16:52View
Why selling coffins is impossible in CoLAZiau08/23/09 04:14View
Paint it red!Ziau08/23/09 07:51View
Young Cowards.Ziau08/23/09 08:28View
Great video for RPers and people passionate about writing.Ziau09/05/09 08:55View
Dux - 264 BCDux09/10/09 18:41View
The Thing at South Gate SanitariumShadow09/15/09 22:09View
♪♫ Do you wanna RP my avatar ♪♫Kayteear09/17/09 14:45View
Jessica's MotherJessica Susser09/21/09 04:19View
Ziau Challenged me to. NSFWChasityDawes09/21/09 07:17View
The Divine Machine.................Theassassin09/21/09 22:29View
I Bleed my Blood for Myself.Ziau09/22/09 22:28View
Cronicle of a deathKayteear09/24/09 01:34View
"Please Allow Me to Introduce Myself"DavidJoshua Artful09/26/09 17:07View
Old Versus NewDigital Enigma09/27/09 20:28View
The Shadowed Order, The Eternal Order, Ordo MachinaTheassassin10/06/09 06:55View
Elamyrath's HistoryElamyrath10/10/09 00:52View
The here, the now, the dead. The Minus.TheMinus Ziskey10/10/09 12:41View
Before bed ritual.Amy Guisse10/17/09 04:13View
Alone?Ike10/18/09 15:34View
IS this High School again?Theassassin10/24/09 12:49View
Sidhe vs DrowOrlok Lectar10/29/09 04:08View
Daddy bluesarsene_Braveheart11/17/09 19:01View
Chronicles of SIEagentlyseria11/22/09 12:27View
The Lady In Black(A Drokan Exile Twisted Love Story)AntiZero11/29/09 06:36View
The growing Darkness.Leirain Koray12/01/09 11:04View
The lycanKayteear12/01/09 16:00View
City of Lost Jackman: The Untold Hollywood BlockbusterAntiZero12/02/09 07:11View
Coming home for christmas ..Kes12/10/09 22:17View
Bunneh Vs. Lich, DBZ styleKarsha Yutani12/14/09 11:59View
A FarewellRoland12/16/09 20:50View
Of Death and RebirthDigital Enigma12/21/09 20:14View
The Story of ReocoReoko Farspire02/06/10 20:47View
Homecoming......... The Story of Orpheus DarkfoldOrpheusDarkfold03/11/10 02:27View
The Story of Orpheus Part 2OrpheusDarkfold03/13/10 23:15View
Who owns who?Kayteear03/22/10 22:03View
Missing the Oceanricercar03/23/10 22:27View
Letter to the editor: Manners in LATink03/25/10 16:58View
Chasity BackstoryChasityDawes06/14/10 19:43View
Something Black and Violent...DavidJoshua Artful06/19/10 22:23View
Doctor Visiterinnic07/12/10 04:26View
Gabby Perdidevacantghost07/19/10 04:42View
PosterMessageDate
Kit RistowNote--this takes parts of works I originally posted in other threads, some of which were more than partially inspired by Llyr's backstory--as well as some newer stuff, and attempts to stitch it into something resembling a coherent backstory. It is LONG. It is, however, not so long when you realize that I've got well over a hundred pages of fiction based around Kit. Yeah. I am kind of lame.

What's posted here tries to explain Kit/Lhiannon/Liadan and Avris, as well as some of the stuff regarding her father. It ends at the point where Kit came to CoLA. I've color-coded past and present sections because. . .frankly, it allows me to stay sane.

Post to follow, in case I need to edit it.
02/10/09 18:40
Kit RistowThere were precious few things that Kit could count on. Her mother had always said that only death and taxes were certain—and the taxes had long since stopped. There were a few things, though, that she could count on. The sun always set, the grass was always green in summer. . .and Damon would always be late.

And so she was left sitting along on the playground, staring idly at the interstate that ran next to the elementary school. There were hardly any cars that traveled it, now—most of the traffic didn’t make it through the barricades at Champaign and Peoria—just some of the trucking runs, and a few stragglers from out East that the guards took pity on.

She sat like that as the sun inched towards the horizon, until she was startled by the sound of gravel and snapping twigs, of footsteps approaching behind her.

[i]Finally[/i], she thought, looking up to see Damon walking across the brush-covered asphalt, towards the playground equipment she was sitting on. His auburn hair looked blood-red in the sunset, and the angle of the light made his eyes appear dark, almost cavernous.

“Whatcha doing in there?” Kit looked up at him, head tilted and feet swinging above the woodchips.

Damon met her eyes, his face intense. “Come with me.”

A tremor of unease ran through Kit’s body, but she quashed it, discounted it as stupid and unnecessary. “Um…okay…hey!” She yelped as he grabbed her wrist and pulled her off the equipment; his hand was hot and dry against her skin. He ran, and she followed; they went into the center of the stand of trees, the only thing that could pass as woods in the midst of the fields and plains. Even though Kit knew there were only a few dozen yards of trees separating her from the fields and the road, she felt isolated, alone.

“Day? Um, dude?” Her voice shook slightly as they stopped. “Why did you just, like—“

“Stop pretending that you don’t know me.” His voice was low, and the start of a smile spread across his face. “I know that it’s you, after all.”

“Of course you know me, we—“ Kit stopped, blood running cold. She remembered the news stories—the possessions, the chaos, the announcers reading lists of symptoms. “Oh, God, Damon…”

He laughed, a rich sound that set Kit’s hair on end. “You really don’t remember. Just like that time in St. Malo’s.” He reached out to touch her cheek, smirked as she tried to move away, only to find her back against a tree. “I found you first.”

“You’re—you’re [i]sick[/i] Day, we need—we need to get, like, a priest or something, we—” She stopped as Damon’s hand made contact with her, took her chin in an iron grip, and forced her to meet his eyes.

“Remember.”

The touch of his hand against the line of her jaw terrified her, and she tensed, was about to kick him when a flood of images and feelings hit her. Kit felt as though her head was full to bursting, as though something was flooding in, putting pressure on her skull as a dimly aware part of her suddenly sprung to life, raged the past through her mind and overwhelmed her.

[hr]


[color=blue]She’d been born Liadan, life times and thousands of years ago. And she had loved Midsummer. She loved dancing with ribbons and around poles, loved watching her friends play on the slopes of Emain Macha, loved the sun in her hair and the magic that ran through everything and the mud that stained her feet as she ran about in circles.

But that day, she wasn’t playing with the other children, was somewhat subdued, lost in thought and quiet. The night before, she'd dreamt of a dragon, fierce and red and tall. He burned the mounds to cinders and stole away the treasure. But when she'd told her uncle about it, he'd laughed and told her to stop being scared of stories.

Her Da would listen. She'd see him that evening, and he'd take her on his knee and tell her a story about the dragon that she'd seen. Her Da was good at stories; he'd told her about the Fomóraig, about the Fir Bolg, about the Asharim and the angels that fought them. He'd tell a story about the dragon, and then the dragon'd be slain, because she'd believe it was so.

She'd spent the entire morning picking flowers instead of playing, arranged them in three piles according to color. She figured she'd give one to her Da, one to her aunt, and keep the third to give to whoever caught her fancy. Maybe to one of her uncles—though she'd rather give it to Llyr than to Cellach—or maybe to her cousin Donagh if he let her play with his fidchell set.

Or leave it to be eaten by the dragon, so it would go away.

"Aren't y'goin' t'dance wi' us?"

Liadan looked up from her neat little piles and saw Donagh standing in front of her. He was older than her—nine to her seven (almost eight! eight in three days!)—and her Da'd once told her he and his family were her mother's kin. She couldn't remember her mother, but she liked Donagh. He treated her like a sister when she was here.

The older boy sighed, then grinned and grabbed her arm, dragging her to her feet and towards the pole. "C'mon, girl!"

She frowned as she followed, nodded and took a ribbon from him. She wasn't in the mood for dancing with a crowd, but her Da had always told her to be nice to the other children, to play with them even when she'd rather be doing something else.

So she’d grasped the ribbon in her small hand and skipped around in circles. With a florish, she swung about, and it came loose, trailing after her. She continued to dance, feet bare, moving in curious patterns, twisting the ribbon around in the air surrounding her body, ducking back and forth away from it. Donagh looked at her and laughed.

"You've done it again, Lia."

His words flew past her ears and she ignored him, spun the whirling trail of color around her as he and some of the other children continued to dance, kept stepping frantically until she spotted something dark and fluttering out of the corner of her eye. She followed it with her gaze and stopped, ribbon falling limp at her side as she met the eyes of a black bird that had landed on the top of the pole.

In the distance, she was aware of the approach of soldiers; they seemed friendly. Her stomach clenched with dread even as the other children stopped dancing, ran forward to greet them. Donagh looked at her expectantly before shrugging and sprinting to the head of the group.

Something wasn't right…

Soldiers usually had gifts, sweet cakes and dolls. She should follow, she should run to them…

…but she couldn't part her eyes from the bird's. She was held fast where she stood, unable to move, to do anything but stare. [/color]

[hr]

Her struggles stopped. She looked at him, brow furrowed, before she felt her lips curve in a wicked smile. While she could still see Damon’s form—the dyed red hair and slanted eyes and young shoulders that she knew better than her own shape—she could also see, superimposed over it, a mass of darkness, horns and ghostly, phantom green eyes. She felt her body clench and realized with a feeling of both excitement and disgust that she [i]wanted[/i] him like this.

Damon looked at her, his face suddenly lightening slightly, his hands moving to caress her cheek, lips moving, whispering softly, “Lhiannon?”

Part of her was confused, but another part of her, the part currently moving her body and controlling its responses, felt a rush of relief and pleasure and pride at hearing the name—the name she’d chosen, the name she’d earned—and responded.

“Avris…”

And then they closed the scant distance between them, started kissing, pulling at each other’s skin and clothing. Kit railed inside her mind; this wasn’t Avris or whoever her body thought it was, it was Damon, and she liked Damon—he’d been her first crush, her first kiss, her first break-up—but this wasn’t him, wasn’t. . .

Her body rested its head against Damon’s forehead, listened to him as he started speaking quietly, his tone one of triumph and relief, the language one that she couldn’t understand. The strangeness of the words highlighted how wrong the situation was; Kit’s mind cleared, the strange memories slipping away with a sudden rush of will. It was just her. And Damon was…what was he [i]doing[/i]?

“Day, come on…” She tried to pull away, to duck down against the tree, bark scraping her back through her shirt, which had been raised so the bottom was somewhere around her shoulder blades. “St—”

Her words were cut off as he grabbed her by the arms and threw both of them to the ground. With a quick tumble, he was able to pin her, a look of cruel fascination spreading across his face, alien and sending chills through Kit even in the lingering summer heat.

“Stop thinking like a human, [i]mo chailín chroí[/i]. You are [i]lhiannan shee[/i].” He paused, smiled slowly. “You belong to me.”

Kit could feel something in her rising to meet him again, but she pushed it down, out of sight, blocking it so completely that it was as though it wasn’t there to begin with, replacing it with prayers recited by her brain as though by rote. She tried to push him away with her legs, then tried to stand. “Let me up!”

He grabbed her by the wrists, kept her pinned, started chanting as she fought and cursed and prayed…


…and then she was walking away. She looked behind her. He was hurt. Was the demon gone? She didn’t know. She couldn’t have hurt him badly.

She had to run. She knew she had to run.

She ran.

[hr]

[color=blue]The first warning the children had was the flash of metal as one of the soldiers drew his sword. His horse didn't stop even as he swung, even as the broad, deadly length of metal plowed into Donagh 's shoulder, sent him collapsing to the ground.

The bird flew from the top of the pole, fluttered out of sight. Her concentration broken, Liadan tore her eyes from the now-abandoned sky and looked towards the soldiers. Some of them were climbing off their horses, were chasing down the other children.

She looked around frantically, though a part of her was cold and calm. Assessing. It saw that there wasn't enough cover, that there was nowhere she could hide where they couldn't find her.

Something else was needed.

What was in their hearts?

What did they want to see? What was their beauty?

She stared at them, eyes gone wide and dark and uncanny. And she knew.

Whimpering, she closed her eyes, focused on herself, on the flowers she'd picked during the day, humming the tune that was in her head. She felt the flowers wilt and fade, watched as her skin grew grey and pale, and her nails turned long and jagged claws. Liadan knew it wasn't real, but for now—and until they were gone—she had to believe it was.

As they passed her, she tried to give them a grin like an angry dog, knowing it would bare row upon row of teeth.

[i]I'm a redcap, I'm a redcap, see a redcap, I'm a redcap…[/i]

One of them teased her with the end of their sword as she passed, just hard enough to break the skin; it was a gesture that would almost be playful if not for the gash it left on her arm. She made a sound like a growling bark, tried to skitter backwards on her feet.

She could stay away. They paid her no mind. But the rest of the field…the other children…her friends…

Liadan tried not to look, but she couldn't act cowardly. A redcap would never leave something like this. A redcap wouldn't turn away.

The men—they weren't men, they couldn't be men—were devouring the bodies, eating them, hands slick with blood, crimson rivulets going down their cheeks and their necks and—

One of them threw a leg at her, and she scurried backwards. She couldn't go that far, she couldn't do that, couldn't pretend…

…their attention was gone within moments. And for hours she watched, wanted to cry, to scream, to rip her own hair from her head and flesh from her bones to make it stop. She felt her eyes growing heavy, gone to lead under the weight of expended magic. She tried to hum louder, but she just felt sleepier and sleepier.

Stifling a yawn, she walked over to a bush, imitating the gait of a bloated predator, and curled up inside the branches, trying desperately to keep up the illusion. As her eyes drifted shut, she caught a glimpse of something on the horizon, something light and shining and burning, something that blazed bright and familiar, that made her already feel less scared.

Maybe she could come out now…

She couldn't move, though, couldn't ignore the sounds of horrible feasting around her. She increased her volume, let the rhythm and the music and the rhyme flow through her, carry her off into concealed sleep, her form fading into the branches of the brush as everything went bright around her.[/color]

[hr]

Kit took 74 west from Carlock, met up with 80 across the Mississippi, and followed it towards the coast. It had been easy until she got to Salt Lake; that's where she was when the shit hit the fan, and that was a hell of a lucky stroke. Her ride had kicked her out somewhere in the 'burbs and had taken off, screeching tires across pavement and disappearing into the smoke of the city. A guy had pulled her off the road—right off the goddamn [i]interstate[/i]—and got her to his family's place before the worst of the raids started.

The husband had seen her crouching behind an abandoned car, ducking her head and praying as the Host streamed overhead. His name was Jason, and he'd run out of the house upon seeing her, had grabbed her by the arm and ran, dragging her off the roadway, climbing over the barricades and guardrail, getting her inside. Kit hadn't even had time to register what was happening, had just found herself flying across bare ground and brown grass, and then coming to rest inside a smallish living room. Her eyes took a few moments to adjust to the light…and there they'd been. A tired-looking woman with limp, dishwater blonde hair. A toddler in pink corduroy pants and a Minnie Mouse t-shirt curled up and resting in her lap. And a man breathing hard, brown hair hanging in his face, bracing on his knees.

Chris. Amanda. Jason.

They were Mormons, observant; they'd had over a year's worth of food stored and, as he explained, had no problem sharing what they had. When she asked if they took everyone they saw in, Jason had just laughed, looked at her, and shook his head; Chris had just looked at her with her flat grey eyes and said nothing.

The worst of the fight—the worst of it there, anyway, though there had been skirmishes and battles for as long as Kit could remember—came after sunset that night. She'd huddled with them in the blacked-out living room, had eaten macaroni and canned beets and green beans and drank shelf-stable milk. The sky roared above them, the house shook and heaved, and held. The battle screeched into the next day, and the next, stretching to weeks; there were whispered conversations between the couple, harsh ones that were loud enough to carry across the room as Kit slept—or tried to sleep—curled next to Amanda, shielding her from the window lest it shatter.

[i]“Why did you grab her?”

“I had to do it, sweetie.”

“She could be one of [b]them[/b]. And you brought her here, into our home, to our daughter…”

“She prays every night, every morning. She was praying—she's not a demon.”

“That's not what I meant.” [/i]A harsh laugh. [i]“It doesn't matter.”

“What do you mean?”

“Half the ones tearing up the town are the ones praying, the ones overhead, the—”

“Don't.” [/i]His voice was pleading

[i]“How can I not? They don't [b]care[/b], Jason—we could be ants, something they play with under a magnifying glass, something to watch burn and writhe and die and…”[/i]

There was the sound of rustling, the faint pucker of a kiss. [i]“Shh. It's not that. I love you. It can't be that.”[/i]

[i]“I don't feel safe.”[/i] This a gasping phrase, mingled with a sob. [i]“I can't feel safe. Why did you…?”[/i]

His voice shook with uncertainty. [i]“I don't know. I had to. I'm sorry.”[/i]

More sounds, more rustling; the soft slide of blankets and bodies shifting, and quiet sighs obscured by the ongoing clamor of distant battle outside. The girl slept on in front of her, a small hand tucked under her head. Kit curled closer, pulled the blanket over her own head, sucked in her breath to pop her eardrums, to muffle the noise of them coming together in the dark, and fell asleep crying.

[hr]

[color=blue]And then they’d found her, three days later. It was her eighth birthday, and she'd woken up to see a scorched field and herself dressed in rags and covered in blood. Her father had wept with joy, then spirited her away, beyond the veil, into the realm of the dreaming, and he'd kept her there as long as he could. There, she was away from the demons, away from the war and the dangers, the mortal beasts and hearts that could rend her to pieces or break her. She grew there, strange and pale, uncanny and sheltered. The care she'd known for the lives of humans grew distant and faint as the memories of their faces and scents faded.

And she dreamt, even in the Dreaming. Her nights were filled sometimes with darkness, sometimes a sense of foreboding, or sometimes the cries of children and the sounds of limb tearing from limb, of flesh being ripped by teeth. At first, they frightened her, but as the months and years passed, they became part of her, as natural as living and breathing.

She was sixteen before her father let her breathe mortal air again, before he let her out into the world she'd left. The world was much the same, and much changed; the demons were gone; her mother's family had died; the grass grew again on the hill.

While she'd been away, her father had explained things to her as best he could. He told her that he was a poet, and sometimes a musician, and that he could create things that were beautiful and remembered; but in order to create these things, most people—especially mortals—needed inspiration. They needed something to inspire their words and notes, something to sing and write about.

And that was where her talent was. While her father could play upon a harp or tell a story, Liadan could play the hearts and minds of men, could live upon the waves of creativity that resulted. It was a gift, he said, equal to his own; the gift of inspiration.

That was where her beauty lie. And that was how she’d found [i]him[/i].[/color]

[hr]

The next morning, they told her that she had to leave. The couple used their short-wave to find someone going west, someone willing to brave the roads and the threat of soon-coming winter. They stuffed her backpack with food, waved as she climbed into the truck. The last she saw of them was Amanda, running down the broken sidewalk, smiling and waving, utterly unaware of the ash in the sky, of the scorch marks on the ground.

The driver was named Alice, was about the same age as Kit's mom, and didn't talk. She just watched the road, carefully steering around the wreckage. They were outside the city limits before Kit worked up the nerve to speak.

“We're back on 80, aren't we?” Her voice was shaking, and she tried to force it neutral, unafraid. “Where are we going?”

“'Frisco.”

And that's all she said, the entire way there, before leaving her downtown, standing by the ocean, looking out across the dark water. Night seemed to keep getting earlier and earlier; it was just after five, and already pitch dark, though that might have had more to do with the crap in the sky than the angle of the sun or the fact that it was mid-November.

The first days were hard. The food in her sack quickly ran low; she'd gotten to the last of the jerky she'd grabbed in Cheyenne, and beyond that was the prospect of hunger or theft. The theft didn't bother her, but the prospect of getting caught…she'd seen a man get caught with a box of Fruity Pebbles her second day in. The Marines dragged him into the street, put a gun to his head, and blew his brains over the payment.

Brutal, and effective; she wouldn't steal here. Not if she could help it. But things were getting desperate, and she had to do something.

And so she decided to look for a mark.

It wasn't as bad as it sounded, not as scheming or unfair. It wasn't that she was looking to screw the guy—and it was almost always a guy—over, or take what he had, or anything horrible like that. But she needed someone with a certain amount of compassion; something to play on, something to get him to give her the time of day instead of just telling her—like he should—to go fuck herself.

The whole thing was opportunistic, and she knew it…but the other options were worse.

So she told herself.

It took three days, but there he was; she talked to him. He was a marine—she could tell from his clothes—but he didn't seem to have the dead-eyes look of most of them. Kit walked up to him, bold as brass, and just started talking.

“Do you know where the police station is?”

Nothing but a harsh laugh, like, how stupid is this chick?

“Right…you're not a cop? You look like a cop.”

“I'm a Marine.”

“Awesome. My dad was a Marine” She gave him a wide, hundred-watt smile, forced her eyes to look tired and desperate behind it. “I'm Kit. I'm sorry for asking…but maybe you could help me…”

Three hours later, she’d learned that the Marine was named Rusty. He bought her pizza—which she ate—and beer—which she didn't drink—and set her up with a cot and blankets for the night, promising better accommodations in the morning, after he'd spoken to his “other employer.”

He said the last bit with a smirk, and it had confused her. When he came back the next morning. She'd been confused at that, even when he came back to get her the next day, took her to a hotel on the other side of town. It took them two hours to walk there, and when she'd seen it, she'd nearly run. The outside of the place was seedy, and the woman who walked out was wearing a skirt that stopped a quarter of the way down her thigh, a shirt that was held together by a zipper and a prayer, and boots that went past her knee.

It wasn't just the profession, either; Kit wasn't going to do it, but there were plenty of perfectly legitimate parts of the operation. Scheduling. Cleaning. Makeup. It was the hair, the cat ears tucked behind it, the tail that snaked out from under the hem of the skirt and swished playfully in the air.

A lot of people underestimated the cat-people—or the Children of Bast, or the nekos, or the man-lions, depending on who you asked—because they looked cute. Almost cuddly. Those people had never been through Lincoln, which had become a city of cat-people, a fierce metal and concrete jungle rising from the flats of the Great Plains. They'd never been stalked by a starving man with claws and feline grace, never seen the lean and hungry backshine in those eyes.

Kit had opened her mouth, was about to tell Rusty and his girl to go fuck themselves, when the woman suddenly smiled. The expression took up her entire face, eyes crinkling, her ears relaxing, and in it…Kit saw something. Something familiar, almost comforting. Something she recognized.

“Kit,” Rusty's voice was richly amused. “Meet Sarabi. Sarabi, Kit.”

Both the women were silent, looking at each other; Sarabi was the first to break it.

“We need a secretary.” Her voice was even, smooth. “But I want to talk to you first. Come inside.” And, with that, she turned on her heel—on a stiletto, no less—and strode into the hotel. Kit followed, and Rusty behind her, though he stopped at the entrance, turned and faced the street, stood guard.

The inside of the hotel was nicer than Kit expected. The furnishings were, at the least, well-kept and clean, and the walls were covered with murals. Crouched in one corner was a tall, blonde girl, finishing up what seemed to be a rendering of the ocean—blue and grey, with rich brown docks. The girl looked up and glared as the two women passed.

Sarabi led her into a small office, motioned for her to sit down in one of the uncomfortable plastic chairs, then sat at her own desk, folding her hands on the top and regarding Kit with a long, lingering stare. Finally, after what felt like several minutes, she spoke.

“You're fae.” Her voice was clear, pleasant, and held no room for disagreement.

Kit furrowed her brow. “What?”

“Your hair isn't red.”

At that, Kit blinked, pulled a lock that was framing the side of her face into her field of view. The strands stood out against the pale skin of her fingers, the dark crimson color of blood pools; it had been that way since she left Illinois. She frowned. “Yeah, it is.”

“No, it's not. It's black. You're using glamour.” She gave Kit the same warm smile from outside. “Are you Irish, hon?”

Kit shook her head.

“Scotch?”

Another shake.

“…Welsh?”

“My dad was English and French. My mom's German.”

Sarabi frowned, leaned forward over the desk. “You don't have to cover, hon. My dad's…well, he left when he met my mum, but he was part of the Hunt; I'm not—” And then she fell silent, staring at Kit.

The girl had taken a sharp intake of breath at the word Hunt, and her eyes had locked on Sarabi's face, flashing from deep blue to a green the color of new grass, and a slight, smoldering red that hid around the pupil.

“Kit?”

No response. The girl's eyes moved from Sarabi's face, down her body, and her lip curled in an expression of arrogant disgust. Sarabi's ears moved back, flat against her head, and her eyes narrowed.

[i]Kit![/i]

The voice echoed in Kit's head; she heard it, even though Sarabi's lips hadn't moved, were still pressed together in narrow line of tension. She fell back to herself, felt as though she'd crashed back into her body, and looked around. She was in the office; she hadn't moved; she'd done something, though, hadn't she, because Sarabi had moved back, seemed to almost be vibrating with energy, seemed to be waiting to strike. And, at the door, the girl from outside was standing, the paintbrush in her hand wielded as though it were a weapon, brandished out at her side in an iron fist-grip.

“God, I'm sorry, I'm sorry.” The words came tumbling out as Kit pitched forward in her chair, braced her arms against the desk, and covered her face. Sarabi's face instantly softened, and her posture relaxed. She looked towards the door with a soft smile.

“I'm all right, Jenn. False alarm.”

The girl's eyes narrowed, but she lowered her brush, and turned, gave Sarabi one last look over her shoulder before closing the door behind her. “That just happens, and I don't—I don't know why, or how, or [i]who[/i], but…God, I'm sorry, it's not me, I'm sorry…I'm sorry…” Her shoulders began to shake, and her words dissolved into sobs; she doubled over in the chair.

Sarabi stood and rounded the desk, reached out to put a hand on Kit's shoulder; the girl flinched at the touch, but didn't move away. She drew a few ragged breaths, tried to bring herself back to calm, to a regular rhythm,

“It's okay, hon. It's okay. I know you weren't…hon, I can help you. It'll be okay.”

Kit looked up from between strands of red hair, met Sarabi's eyes. “H-how?”

“I know things. And I know people who know things. You…don't know what you are, do you? I know that's a horrible choice of words, but…”

“I don't.” Kit bit her lip, then looked up, eyes wide. “I…”

Sarabi reached out, tried to brush the hair from Kit's face. “What is it, hon?”

“He said I was [i]lhiannan shee[/i]. . .”

[hr]

[color=blue]He’d called himself Avery, and he was just passing through, was sure to be gone before the sun even rose the next day. He said the last to Sadb with a broad grin, one that brought a blush to the older woman's cheeks and made her look nearly a girl again.

But it was Liadan who stared. Liadan who saw the eyes that she'd seen only once before; they were bright green, nearly shimmered in the light of the sunset.

The last she'd seen of those eyes—ten years ago, fifteen almost, had it been that long?—was an expectant and reproachful look set in a child's face as he turned away, ran towards a group of oncoming soldiers. She felt the wind rake through her hair again, felt the grass under her feet, felt the pain where the sword had sliced her upper arm…

Her breath caught. Years later, grown, but it had to be Donagh standing in front of her. Donagh who'd died by the sword. She couldn't quite finger it, nor comprehend it, but she could feel vibrations of the thing rattling through her bones and her spirit and the tips of her toes. So, after the mortals had drifted off to sleep and dreams, Liadan rose, and visited him where he slept.

"You're dead," she said, braced against the beams that formed the entry to the stable.

The man laughed without opening his eyes. "I'm not very dead at all, am I, to be standing in front of you?" His voice carried an accent, one that marked him as being from far away. It was a stranger's voice in a familiar throat. . .

The timbre of the voice was Donagh's—or, at least, was how Liadan would have imagined it if he’d grown to manhood. The inflection, though, the tone…it was different, somehow foreign and familiar and frightening. It bewildered Liadan long enough to allow Avery to stand and step towards her, to take her hand.

"A pleasure to meet you, [i]lhiannan shee[/i]." He raised Liadan's hand to his mouth for a light, dry kiss, then released it gently. "And a pleasure to see you gone."

Liadan stared at her hand; it felt as though she'd brushed something burning hot and alive, stung faintly as she lowered it to her side, the fire still ringing through her body, making it quicken and sing. Then she registered Avery's words and frowned, eyes narrowing. "So yeh've already taken the measure of me?"

He laughed. "Give it up, girl. I don't sing, nor dance, nor tell your stories. You're welcome to waste your time, if that's what you've got your heart set on—but, frankly, I could do without the company."


Liadan smiled to herself and said nothing. She knew she would see this one dance. And sing. And burn for [i]her[/i]. She could already feel him blazing within—the touch still echoed in her hand, and in her head.

He left Sadb's home before dawn the next morning, and she followed.[/color]

[hr]

[i]Do you hear me?

Yes.[/i] Kit tried to still her mind, tried to focus on sending the words to Sarabi. She didn't think she'd ever get the hang of it; the act of it made her head throb, exhausted her, left her arms and legs as heavy lead weights. And that was just to Sarabi. To anyone else…focus all she wanted, but she'd never feel it.

The rest of the training was more helpful; she'd learned how to focus herself, learned how to control the changes in her appearance, learned how to focus her mind, her will, her sense of self. It had helped her a lot. She hadn't had a bad episode in a while. After a couple of weeks, Sarabi had even been able to get her to do more than booking the rest of her girls' appointments.

Like right now; three of her workers had washed up bloodless and dead underneath the piers in the bay. The first time, Sarabi had chalked it up to bad luck. [i]One of the risks of the job[/i], she'd said, sipping a glass filled with a fruity, powerful drink. [i]They knew what they were getting into.[/i]

But then another had turned up, and a third; now Sarabi wasn't talking about risks; she was talking about safety, about revenge and taking back the streets. That night. Christmas night. She'd asked Kit to act as a look out, to climb to the third floor of Shore Rise Apartment complex and watch the streets below. And so she crouched on the balcony, watching. Waiting.

[i]What do you see?[/i]

Kit shivered as she peered down; the rain was threatening to turn to snow, and she was drenched. [i]Two leeches near the corner. Another in the shadows under the wreath.

Are they following Micki?[/i]

Kit squinted into the darkness, tried to view the street below her perch. She could just make out the form of a girl dressed in tight jeans and a hooded sweater. [i]Yes[/i]. The response left her reeling, exhausted; the world tilted around her, swam in a sea of grey dots.

[i]Kit? You okay, hon?

Yeah.[/i] Her head ached, and her limbs shook. [i]I'm fine.

Have you been working with Jenn?[/i]

She didn't answer; she'd tried to work with the artist, like Sarabi had suggested. She'd tried to watch while the other woman was painting, or drawing, or even just thinking. Jenn, however, had made her feelings quite clear; she wouldn't allow Kit to touch her. Didn't want her to take. Kit got the distinct impression that Jenn was jealous of her, of her friendship with Sarabi. Which was completely idiotic, of course; Kit didn't have the same kind of relationship with her that Jenn did.

Jenn never believed it. And Kit couldn't take from someone who didn't like her; she didn't want to take at [i]all[/i], and certainly not not from Jenn…

[i]Kit?

…yeah.

No, you haven't. You're going to wear yourself out. I've [b]told[/b] you…

I'm fine. Really.[/i] Her hands gripped the iron bars that formed the railing around the apartment balcony. [i]Really, Sarabi.

All right.[/i] Kit could almost feel the sigh in her voice. [i]Get down from there and get back to the hotel. Rusty's team's in position; we'll get the three of them.

Micki'll be okay?

She's good at being bait. [b]Go[/b], Kit.

Okay.[/i] Kit hauled herself to her feet, carefully climbed over the railing, and jumped to the adjacent fire escape, landing on it with a clatter of metal, and climbing down to ground, walking the sidewalk alone and shaking, back to the hotel.

[hr]

[color=blue]The following months were spent moving from town to town, following in his footsteps. She looked as she wished, wore a hundred different guises; he seemed to see through them, though, as the days and weeks passed, he grew warm, almost friendly. And if he looked like Donagh…that had to be coincidence, because Liadan had seen him die.

He even tumbled her, would bid her come to the stables or a stranger's bed. They'd lie together, laughing, and then part without a kiss or a word. He would touch, and smile, and talk.

But he would not sing. He would not tell stories. Sometimes he'd catch Liadan looking at him—she knew he saw her—and give her a dark, triumphant smirk. Then he'd leave the town on the wave of some misfortune, and she'd follow. Sometimes—once or twice, really—she'd feel the pull that meant that Sadb had set out an offering.

She did not come. She had a quarry to track.

It had been three months since she'd heard so much as a stanza, a line, a single note, but she was not hungry. They'd made it halfway across the country by now, a pair of orbiting, casual companions. He'd gone into a stranger's home that night; Liadan watched, waited for a few hours until she was sure he was asleep, then crept towards the dwelling. She could feel Avery inside.

The moon spilled through the doorway and illuminated the scene. Avery was there, but it was not him; his skin was black as the night around him, his hair a red that matched the blood spattered walls. The owner of the home was hung there, pinned by sharp knives and struggling to breathe.

Liadan looked at this with something like detached fascination. Blood she remembered, and the expression of pain and fear on the man's face. She'd seen those before, and dreamed of them most nights. She inhaled sharply, and found that the fear lingered on her tongue, ran deep through her in the way that only passion had, in the way—

Her body staggered with the realization, stumbled lightly on the dirt floor; Avery turned to look at her, horns glinting in the moonlight, and smiled.[/color]

[hr]

Her room was empty when she got there, the door still unlocked, and Kit was grateful for it. Her entire body ached as she took the final steps into the room, nudged the door closed with her foot, and stripped off her soaked and half-frozen clothing, leaving it in a wet pile next to the bed.

The room tilted and spun around her, and her legs felt like noodles, like paper and glue, too frail to support her weight. They buckled underneath her as she stood next to the bed, sent her tumbling to the floor and into a crouched sitting position. She drew her knees up to her chest, shivered, sat there naked, trying to will herself to stand, to move, to at least get into the bed.

No dice. Even breathing felt like an effort.

Sarabi had warned her about this when they started working together, when she started trying to teach Kit how to use the mental speech, when she saw the two magic texts tucked into Kit's backpack. [i]“You don't have enough energy,”[/i] she'd said. [i]“You run too high, and you don't generate it yourself. You're not supposed to.”

“So what do I do?” [/i]Kit had asked, frustrated. [i]“I want to learn this.”

“You need to take it from others. There's nothing [b]wrong[/b] with that,”[/i] she'd added, catching Kit's look of disbelief. [i]“We all need something from others in order to survive. It's all about how you do it. If you do it right…you'll help them as much as you're helped.”[/i]

Something about the idea didn't sit, didn't feel right, though, so Kit hadn't. Hadn't touched Jenn, hadn't tried to inspire her, hadn't tried to watch her work. Nothing. And it would get bad, sometimes; she'd feel it rise in her, dark and cold, begging to be fed, and she'd just push it down deep, and it would be okay. She'd stay herself.

The room was freezing, and Kit's skin was turning to gooseflesh, puckered and chilled. In one corner, a small tree stood, lit with gold lights; it seemed like it should warm her, but it didn't. Her rosary hung next to it. It should warm her, too, but it didn—

Kit stopped the thought before it could complete itself, pushed the darkness back down, summoned the will to prepare to stand…

The door opened, and she started, looking up sharply. Jenn stood in the doorway, face perturbed, mouth turned down in a frustrated scowl.

“Do you have my red oil?”

Kit didn't answer, felt herself standing, the darkness pressing her on all sides.

“What the hell are you—” Jenn's voice caught in her throat. Kit felt her eyes move, saw the woman's form, the energy around her, swirling and sparkling, and, underneath it all, a thread of anger, of despair and jealousy and…

No. She wouldn't.

Her lips curved in a small, sly smile, and the goosebumps left her flesh, left her standing there bare, hair spilling around her shoulders, falling across her front. Jenn gasps, and Kit tilted her chin, met the other woman's gaze. The world started to go dim.

“I want…” A pause in the other girl's voice, light and breathless; Kit tried to yank herself away, tried to avoid the inevitable completion of that sentence, of what it [i]meant[/i], of what would [i]happen[/i]…

…of the feeling of [i]loamrey[/i] under her fingers, sheep's wool, thick and ready to be harvested; of the sighs of life. Of a man curved into a microphone screaming his last words, of a dancer falling to a pile on the ground, a woman hanging lifeless from a holly tree, a monk scribbling poetry on stones. A man who was more than a man, reading poetry to her as the first light of dawn rose over an endless forest. A club's curtains burning and angels watching and the clearing, and that voice, that [i]voice[/i]…

[i]“You belong to me…”[/i]

No…

[i]“…mo chailín chroí.”[/i]

His darling girl…his…

“I want to draw you.” Jenn's voice was overcome, heavy with something as she looked at Kit with, wide, shining eyes.

Kit's soul felt so empty…so tired…and the lights around her dimmed to star-pinpricks against an endless blackness. From that void, she heard her own voice, answering distantly, spilling unbidden from her lips.

“Yes.”

And the world went dark.

[hr]

[color=blue]"You've only just noticed?" Avery’s voice held a gentle laugh. "You've been living off my leavings for nearly three months. Honestly…I expected you to find me out much more quickly."

Liadan's hands clenched at her side, and she whispered something old, something she remembered from her father that would bring fire to her hands. She raised one arm and drew it back, only to have Avery dart forward with inhuman speed to grasp her wrist, steady her blow.

"Spare me the charade, lover. You're not upset at what I've done—that isn't righteous anger I see in those eyes." He leaned down and kissed her forehead; she flinched and struggled against his hand, but it held fast. "You're upset I've hidden this from you. But I don't need to hide from you anymore." Something lightning-like and warm flowed from his fingertips and through her. It quickened her body, shone in her eyes, stole the breath from her throat.

"There's no right and wrong—but you saw that on the field." His voice rang quiet through the room, seemed to echo in her ear. "You know where the power lies. You've felt it."

Liadan stopped pulling against his hand, tilted her head, silently considering. He continued.

"Show me what you've felt, and I will cease hiding from you."

Her eyes flickered away from him and towards the man hanging on the wall. The life within him was struggling, but his fear sang loud and clear. She found her legs moving towards him, felt Avery let go of her wrist. She closed the distance to the man, put a hand over his chest.

She looked him in the eyes as he drew breath to scream and found his voice gone. She made contact with his skin, felt the heart beating rapidly, as though it were trying to escape its doomed host. Distantly, she felt Avery come behind her and put his lips to her ear, whisper:

"That's a girl. Finish him."

The heart stopped, and the man's life spilled out into the world. It ran through her fingertips; it charged her. She rocked backwards into Avery; he held her as her knees threatened to give way, as her ragged breathing faded into peals of laughter. He stroked her hair, whispered again.

"My name is Avris. And I love you."[/color]

[hr]

Suddenly, she was kneeling on the hotel room floor, carpet under her knees, stark naked and oddly warm. The door was closed, and Jenn was crumpled in front of her, lying on the ground, charcoal smudged on her cheek, cut through with clear trails where tears had fallen and run down to her chin.

Kit's hand flew out, and she reached for the woman's neck, felt for a pulse. The flesh was chilled under her hands, utterly still, lifeless. Her hand stayed limp over a canvas; only a few lines had been drawn on it, the beginnings of an outline, of the shape of a body.

And her eyes were open, flat and muddy brown, staring at the ceiling. Kit flung herself forward without thinking, trying to shake the body, to wake her. A cry rose in her throat, low and quiet, then shouts, cries, wordless ones meant to shock Jenn into waking, to shock the body that moved in her arms as she shook it, flopped about. It took almost no effort to move her; Kit's arms felt strong, her mind clear, her voice steady and strong and…

Oh God.

She didn't think as she dressed, mechanically and quickly, grabbing what she could from the room. Her own clothes were still wet—still [i]icy[/i], she couldn't have lost much time—so she rooted through the closet that wasn't hers, grabbed as much as she could and shoved it into to her backpack. One short skirt, one tank top she kept aside; they were the most conservative things she could find, and she pulled them on hastily, feeling her hair get mussed. It didn't matter.

It would have been better to die. If the blackness had been final, if she hadn't come back, if she'd stayed on the freeway and let the apocalypse wash over, if she'd been dead and rotting and gone, if she hadn't come back…

With a frustrated growl, Kit forced the thoughts away. She had to get out of there. She couldn't look at Sarabi now, couldn't explain this, couldn't stand to look at her, couldn't stand against the vengeance, couldn't stay here, warm and safe. She had to run.

[i]It would have been better to die…[/i]

The light from the Christmas tree barely lit the room. Kit gave it one last quick look scanning the room, finding her rosary hanging from the dresser, dangling next to the branches. She grabbed it, threw it around her neck without thinking.

Noises came from the front of the hotel—the sound of a door opening, of footsteps and triumphant and relieved laughter. She heard Rusty's booming laugh and the warm, distant tones of Sarabi's voice. Kit ran to the door, turned the knob slowly and opened it, stuck her head out, looking back and forth quickly. No one was looking.

She had to run. Now. She flung the door all the way open, ran down the hall, turned the corner and headed to the exit in the back. As she approached the door, grabbed the handle, she heard a distant sound, a yowl of anger and despair that set the hair standing on the back of her neck.

One hand on the door handle, Kit paused. Her shoulders were shaking, and silent sobs wracked her body.

[i]It would have been better to die.[/i]

She opened the door, ducked through it, and ran into the cold San Francisco night.

[hr]

[color=blue]After a year, their travels together had taken her back to Sadb, back to inspire the weaver. And Liadan had left her lying on the ground, auburn hair splayed hap-hazardly over the weaving she'd been working on. Her fingers were bleeding, raw; she'd been weaving every night, all night, for days. Weeks. And as she tucked the final throws in, Liadan had put her hand over the woman's back, and ridden the wave as her essence passed from this world to the next. After a long, considering moment, she'd taken the body, set it in a sitting position, almost dignified.

The footsteps behind her startled her, though she knew after a moment that it wasn't a human. The husband, the children…they were still asleep. It was her own father that stood there in the corner of the room, that seemed somehow small and almost fragile as he looked at her, near to weeping.

"I'd heard what yeh were up t', daughter." He looked around the room. "Had t'see it for myself t'be sure."

"Hm." Liadan pulled herself to her feet gracefully. "And now that yeh know?" She laughed. "There's nothin' yeh can do. An' they're not worth i'. Not worth much more'n cattle." She nudged Sadb's body with a foot; it tumbled over, and Liadan chuckled. "They keep us goin', is all. 'Till they stop."

"That's not the measure of things, Liadan, an' well yeh know it." He look a deep breath. "I taught yeh better'n that."

She shrugged. "Yeh taught me wrong, then."

"No." His face and voice were suddenly clear. "I didn'. Daughter, please—"

"I'm not." The words fell from her lips like chips of ice. "I'm no kin t'the Tuatha, no daughter of Aoi, no child of any other. I am called Lhiannon, and I am my own."

Aoi looked up, steeled himself with a sort of resolve, the lines of his face taut with suppressed emotions before fading into a cool, pleasant look. "Aye." He turned, walked to the doorway and paused, back to her. "Yeh are."[/color]

[hr]

The way north was blocked by snow and ice, but south was still clear. Kit had managed to make her way to the outskirts of the city, where the urban wreckage began to give way to dry land. These were the Barrens, the wastes that covered most of the California coast, from 'Frisco down to Los Angeles.

The caravan she'd found passage with didn't speak English, just Spanish, and Kit was fine with that. She'd bartered her way on with a few stock phrases and gestures, and they'd nodded, pointed to the back of one of the wagons. She accepted, but spoke to no one.

She'd gotten to the coast, and that wasn't far enough. She thought it would never be far enough. During the nights, she dreamed, woke up screaming. It wasn't as though Kit was the only one to do it; plenty of people had since the sky had opened, since the angels and demons and nightmares had come. But, still, the others in the caravan were not without compassion; she would shout, and they would check on her, shake her, end the nightmare and ask in soft, concerned voices, [i]“Estás bien?”[/i]

And then her eyes would roll, and she'd wave them away roughly, ignoring the muttered, angry comments that Kit, while not knowing the words, could still clearly understand.

Los Angeles was a month away now, with slow travel through the wastes, avoiding the bandits and gangs. When she got there, things would be different.

She couldn't trust. Couldn't get comfortable. Couldn't allow others to trust her, to get close. And this time…it would be okay. No magic. No danger. For them. For anyone.

[i]“We all need something from others in order to survive…”[/i]

She wouldn't allow that to be true; it had to be that way. If it was feeling she would take, then she wouldn't feel. If it was the closeness that killed, then she'd stay distant.

Away. Alone. Hungry.

That was how it would be.

Always.

[i]“She could be one of [b]them[/b].”[/i]

Could be. How could you tell?

The caravan crossed the dessicated land, clattered in a regular rhythm, lulled Kit's mind, and pulled her back into the dreams.

[i]“…she's not a demon.”

“It doesn't matter.”[/i]

It didn't matter. She still screamed , still dreamed, and the road still stretched on across the plains, to the City of Lost Angels.

[hr]

[color=blue]This dream didn't come from the ancient hills on the other side of the sea; it came from back home, from Illinois, from the days just after her thirteenth birthday. The day-old snow glowed a soft, almost lovely blue in the dawn light, but the sight of it gave Kit the chills. She kept her face stoic, ignored the cold metal pressed against her back that she could feel through her windbreaker, the barrel of a gun threatening to fire.

On the edge of her field of vision, she could see Damon, the barrel of an assault rifle against his spine, his right hand gripping the chain-link fence that ran beside him. She winced at the sight of him; this whole thing was because of her dad, because he resisted the militias that threatened the town, because he harbored nekos and witches and all kinds of creatures. The mercs had grabbed them outside the barn, and now they were certain to be looking for some kind of trade.

The demands didn’t matter; there would be a rescue scene, and she and Damon would go home. She could see him out of the corner of her eye, shaking as a reedy-looking merc held a rifle to the point between his shoulder blades.

It wasn't fair , the only reason they’d taken him was because they’d been hanging out together. It would be her fault if he got hurt. Her fault if he died. Because she was her father's daughter.

[i]Please let him come, please help, I’ll be good, we shouldn’t have run off, but let us be okay, please let him come and save me…[/i]

Suddenly, a solitary figure became visible, as though shimmering into existence in the near-twilight. He was following the line of the fence towards them, leaving footprints in the snow like pools of shadow in his wake. Her stomach clenched, and she felt as though the cold ground was lurching below her as she recognized the man’s build, his gait.

[i]Dad![/i]

He’d come alone, dressed in an orange hunting jacket that the still-blue light muted until it looked like a strange shade of brown. There wasn’t even a weapon in his hands. As he saw Kit standing there, eyes wide, his face broke into a mask of relief, tinged with acceptance.

Her initial relief faded as she recognized the look on his face. No weapons. Guards with rifles. He was going to—

Kit started forward the instant before she heard the gunshot, made it half a step before the man holding the rifle to her back grabbed her arm, wrenched her shoulder as her legs gave way and she fell half-kneeling into the snow. She tried push him away and forced herself to lift her head up, saw the splatter of blood and grey on the snow, and, slumped against the fence, the body—

A wave of something white hot blazed through her and she forced herself to her feet, tried to shrug the man off. When it didn’t work, she started kicking, could hear herself screaming, a long stream of profanity and threats and pleas that in a strange, detached way she knew were useless even as she raged. She could feel Damon’s hazel eyes on her, huge and terrified in his face. She could hear words being spoken around her, commands, threats, but she couldn’t think through her tears, couldn’t stay focused on them.

“Fuck it.” The one holding Kit took her in one arm, held her fast with some effort as she struggled. “This ain’t worth it. I’m gonna shoot her.”

“Orders were to let ‘em go once we got him.” The voice came from the group of men behind her.

“It’ll compromise—“

“We’re not getting paid to kill kids. We got paid to do a job, and it’s done. Let the brat go.”

Kit found herself violently pitching forward, hit the ground hard enough that even the fresh-fallen snow didn’t cushion her, knocking the breath from her lungs and cutting short her screams. At the same moment, the man holding Damon let him go; the boy went to her side, hugged her fiercely, tried to help her up. She shook him off, gasping, looked up at the soldiers , eyes blue and burning in her head as she started to mouth words that weren’t prayers, that swore revenge in a language that no one present recognized.

The soldier who had called her a brat cocked his rifle. Kit jerked, went silent, and then suddenly her face filled with fear and confusion, the anger fading as swiftly as it had come, leaving only despair. Gasping, she grabbed for Damon’s arm, a sob beginning to rise in her chest.

“Go home, kid.”

She looked up at the black visor covering the man’s face, trying to meet the eyes she couldn’t’ see, and whispered, “Thank you.” Then she and Damon stood and ran across the fields and back to her house, her tears freezing on her face in the morning air.[/color]

[hr]

She hadn't run far enough; she didn’t think it would ever be far enough. The caravan had taken her south, taken her to Lost Angeles. Any further south, and she'd be in the radioactive wastes; any further west, she'd be in the ocean.

But the words were still carried with her, the strange desires, the consciousness that slipped in and out of her mind, that wasn’t her own.

The more she thought about it, the more obvious the changes were. She could feel her steps, could ]see the music in them, as though each of her movements was part of a dance. Kit didn't believe in these things, didn't believe that someone could change into something else, not if they had faith. But as she walked along the streets, she couldn't deny the thoughts running through her head. The night's earlier fear had been tempered by desire; the urge to fight, the urge to…

…thinking about it made her turn red, even as she imagined what they would be like, what their lips would taste like, how they would move…

She heard a quiet whispering, was startled to find that it was her own voice, speaking softly, without her conscious control.

"…turn then, most gracious advocate, your eyes of mercy towards us…"

The prayer sprang unbidden from her lips, and she focused on it. It sharpened her mind, made the people around her less distracting. She had to find somewhere to spend the night. Had to get warm. Had to hide.

She looked up, suddenly, saw a row of high steps rising to elaborate wooden doors and a worn stone facade. A church. Kit climbed those steps, opened those doors tentatively, shouting a cautious "Hello?"

Kit sighed in relief as she realized there wasn't going to be any response. She went to one of the pews in the back, kneeling and making the sign of the cross before entering the row and curling up on the pew. It wasn't particularly warm, but it was infinitely better than outside. She breathed deep, inhaled the scent of fresh paper and incense that screamed "church."

As she drifted to sleep, exhausted and shaking, her consciousness filled with voices, her imagination shifting into overdrive. She felt as though she could hear the Mass around her, as though she was invisible, heard the priest and the congregation prepare for communion as her eyes slid shut.

[i]Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.[/i]

[hr]

[color=blue]“No!” The voice came to her in a dream, from the past. “I must write what God has shown me. I must…” He trailed off as Lhiannon raised her hand, as she brought a finger to his lips and traced them. The touch burned, though it was cold.

“God has not shown you, lover.” She moved her head to the side, faced him for a moment, met his eyes before closing the distance to kiss him. They met, and he sighed, the tension leaving his arms as they moved to her body, gripped it through the fabric of his cassock and felt the shape of flesh there, the way it gave under his fingers as he pressed her to him. She slid against his body, then pulled back abruptly, gasping, grinning, and spoke again.

“I have.”

Her arms were like fire as she reached under his robes and brought them up his bare sides.

[i]He’d heard about this before.[/i]

Her hair fell in waves about her shoulders as he lifted the fabric over her head.

[i]She would be the death of him…[/i]

She laughed as she mounted him, surrounded him, stroked his cheek and brought words and images
rushing into his head.

[i]…she would bring the life to him…[/i]

He screamed and moaned like a man damned.

[i]…the lhiannan shee.[/i][/color]
02/10/09 18:52
LlyrWow, Kit. Sheerly wow. That was a terrific read. Bits of it I've read before but it's great to have them connected like this, and Kit's most recent backstory is new to me so I'm delighted to discover it.

Will there be more?
02/10/09 19:35
Kit RistowProbably. I've considered fictionalizing some of Kit's early CoLA backstory into another piece. Mostly because it went through a lot of weird stuff in the beginning, when I was just really starting to get a handle on how to play her. And partially because, in this latest bit, some of the new stuff was (extremely heavily) fictionalized backstory from when I played Kit in Midian City (though it's been altered so much that, honestly, I doubt even the people I played with would recognize it).02/13/09 06:02
KeylaTerrific read, Kit. You have a great writing style. I hope there will be more. :)

As for the weird stuff in the beginning, why you think mine got so long? *chuckles*
Though I hope you will write it down. I'd love to read more from you, and get to know Kit better.
02/13/09 07:58
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