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Ari

While the Cat's Away (IC)

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3.25AM, January 27th, Wednesday, 2016

Matheston House, 428 Kurtzberg Rd., Freedom City, U.S.A., 

the border of life and Hell.

 

Her fingers shivering, Faye felt the knife slip through them, heard it clatter and clang on the tiled floor of the cavernous manor house. The steady beat of rain on the roof and the whistle of wind through the window that had shattered from his wild punch was all so much white noise. What had her frozen in place was the sight of her fianceé lying facedown in a slowly growing pool of blood gone black in the stark twilight.

 

Sinking down, clutching her knees to her chest, Faye ignored the bloody smears she was leaving on her party clothes. She couldn't seem to shut her eyes or look away, no matter how much she wanted to. She wanted to cry, scream, stab herself, call the police, run for help, hug 

Matthias' body and beg its forgiveness. Torn in so many different directions, Faye remained where she was, dry-eyed and silent.

 

How had this happened? Only last month they'd been so happy, Matty had come for Christmas and her parents had swallowed every hateful word they'd said about him. When had he started drinking, refusing to talk except to accuse her of things she couldn't have done, trying to control her every move and...

 

...why had he tried to kill her?

 

"Wasn't a reason" she mumbled, starting a little at the croak of her voice "guess this is just how he really was, all along. Should have seen this, god help me...this is all my fault..."

 

Self-recrimination had one benefit: it made crying easier.

 

Watching from the stairway above the sobbing woman and the dying man, the demon Chorus sighed in relief and opened the Way of her kin. Unfurling black wings that would have spanned universes if they were pinions and muscle, she darted across the shadowy physical plane to where a tattooed man was sleeping. She slid down through the roof like it was so much vapour, which to her higher form it might as well have been.

 

Kneeling beside the sleeping man she whispered into his ear "Ray, awaken. A sinner is in need."

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That his fleshy mortal prison needed sleep was just one of the many drawbacks of this form. Still, despite the fact that he needed sleep, Ray generally slept lightly, so when the whisper came in his ear, he rose swiftly from his bed. As he tossed the covers aside, it took the angel a few moments to reorient into the waking world but even as he was rose from the almost too small bed, the mystical tattoos on his body swirled and filled the room with ambient light. 

 

He blinked once, squinting at the demon invading his bed chambers. "You." The words were flat but Ray watched her like a snake and made no move for the jeans draped over the back of a chair. 

 

The angel's room, in contrast with the modern tattoo parlor downstairs, was downright spartan with only the basic needs - bed, chair, dresser - although messy with books that had overflown from the living room. Ray's tone was the utter opposite of welcoming. 

Edited by alderwitch

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GM

 

"Yes, brother Araeriel" Chorus smiled placidly up at the sullen angel "Me. With another chance to show the world the glory of the LORD."

 

She was different than last time. Heavier-set, with curly brown hair and pale skin freckled around the nose. The crucifix around her neck, shining silver over the slightly frumpy black clothes, was also new. What wasn't were her eyes, blue gimlets reflecting the otherworldly ice that trapped her true body.

 

In her gentle, kindly tone she went on "On Lantern Hill there is a woman named Faye Andrews, who has just stabbed her fianceé Matthias King Kenzie after years of long work on my part. She has called upon our Renewer for help, and as a trusty servant of the everlasting mercy I know you can give it her."

 

Rising until her feet left the floor, Chorus beckoned, the ceiling above their heads replaced by a vortex of darkness "Come with me, brother, let us do the LORD's work as we were intended." Reaching out her hand, the demon added earnestly "You will not just leave them to suffer, will you?"

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Ray made a low noise of aggravation in his throat, his blue gaze narrowed with acute dislike before he twisted away to grab his jeans and yank them on over the boxers he had worn to bed. Barefoot and shirtless, he stalked back over towards the demon. "Chorus, that's not the point, dammit. You don't need to manipulate humans into hysterical breakdowns to get them to find their faith. It's more than... Hell, never mind. Let's get there before the cops do then."

 

Arguing with the demon had yet to yield any deviation in her behavior and while Ray had nothing but time, the young woman probably couldn't say the same. 

 

Reluctantly, he took the offered hand as while he had angelic speed, Lantern Hill was a rather large area to go looking for a potential murderess. "You know full well I'm not going to leave them to suffer. Blast it."

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GM

 

Chorus didn't reply as she swept the pair of them into the black vortex. They'd already argued plenty about that, and she'd never budged from her stance that humans never, ever, learned from kindness.

 

Noiselessly, the descended and fallen angels appeared in the house, on the downright antique(though very modern to Ray's eyes) stairway landing. In the unlit house it took a moment for Ray to see where the faint sound of crying was coming from, but a spectral ray of moonlight lay across the floor in the kitchen, illuminating vaguely the people Chorus was using this time.

 

Looking down at her handiwork, the demon murmured sadly, with the tone of an experienced entomologist watching the sufferings of ant "Poor thing, and barely a stain on its soul, too." Shaking her head, she stepped back, motioning to Ray as she faded into invisibility "Best if they don't see me. Humans never are comfortable around my kind. Good luck, brother, may they see the Light in you." The smile was supposed to be encouraging and familial, but Chorus had never mastered the fine art of not showing too much teeth. 

 

Having seen death countless times over the course of his long life, it was obvious to Ray, just from a glance, that he only had a short time before the tortured and manipulated man died on the floor. It was also probable that the very badly confused and shaken woman might decide to follow him.

 

Even for Chorus this was blunt and obvious scripting.

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Ray grimaced, approaching the woman on bare feet although he didn't bother to try to keep quiet since he was already reaching for the swirling skin of his forearms. With a thought, the Enochian sigils light up and with a gesture he drew the holy light from his own flesh to bring light to the murky gloom. He wasn't generally prone to dramatics - certainly not like Chorus tended towards - but Ray recognized the value of not having to prove his nature especially when time was of the essence. 

 

Ray crouched down next to the weeping woman, reaching out one hand towards the man's wounds. "A little bird told me that you might need some help tonight," Ray said, rather at odds with the holy glow surrounding him and far more in line with the tattooed man crouching down in the growing pool of blood. Still, his voice was impossibly kind behind the rough words. "Wanna tell me how it all went wrong?"

 

It was not the sort of flaming appearance and promise of eternal love and succor, or castigation for wicked sins that Chorus might have hoped for. 

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GM

 

Startled out of her misery, Faye gaped at the man with glowing tattoos for a moment before his question registered. "H-he just...I don't know, he...everything just started going wrong, Matt started drinking real heavy, getting suspicious of everything I did, but..."

 

Shaking her head the disheveled woman lapsed into silence, staring at the bizarre tableau in front of her.

 

Under his hand Ray could feel the man's narrow yet deadly wound start to close. The blood flow had already fallen to a slow drip, even if he'd be unable to walk for weeks the man was no longer in danger of dying.

 

At last, meeting the angel's eyes, with an edge to her voice that hadn't been there before, Faye asked "Did God send you? Why didn't you come before this happened? Why didn't He stop this? Why wait 'till after I st...after I hurt him?"

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"Not so much," Ray said as he waited until the man's pulse beat steady, if slow, under his fingertips before he pulled his hand back. Casting about for something to wipe the blood off his fingers, Ray gave up that futile quest after a long second before he met the woman's gaze unflinchingly, his bare arm resting on one knee and the light of the tattoos starting to slowly fade. 

 

"Look, if you want to have a theological debate about where free will starts and where influence ends, we can have that chat. It's going to be long and not very satisfying for any involved." Ray's commentary was dry. "I can sum it up in the whole 'greatest gift given is the ability to choose your course of action' but that generally is unsatisfying to hear. You're not going to have a bolt of lightning come crashing from the sky at the last hour - present evidence to the contrary - but in all the whispers to turn away from this course of action in the moments leading up to this. Entities can influence, suggest, but in the end the choice is yours - and your boyfriend's - in how to react to those whispers."

 

Ray straightened then, rising to his full height as he wiped the blood on his hands off on his jeans. 

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GM

 

"Yeah, now's not a good time for that. But I'm going to have that talk, Mr. Angel." Edging over to Matthias, Faye looked at her recently-wounded, recently-murderous husband with a strange mix of fear and pity. After a moment she reached out nervously to him "'Sides, I can't just leave Matty lying here."

 

Wrestling the young man into a firefighter's hoist, Faye headed for the stairs, pausing at their foot as something struck her. Over her shoulder she said "Hey, you said "entities can influence", but, if you were interfering for me, then what got into Matty's head? Was it the Devil?"

 

A vaguely humanoid form of pure darkness began to slide noiselessly through the air, dropping into place behind Faye as she turned to look ironically at Ray. "Are you seriously implying that all this happened because "the Devil made me do it"?

 

Chorus, in her most common second form, silently signalled Ray to draw the mortal's attention to her. Presumably she had some pithy sound-bite ready to impress on the new wife the importance of communication in relationships, since otherwise demons from Hell might use undiscussed weaknesses or faults to eventually make your significant other try to kill you.

 

Probably not, but such self-awareness would have been a welcome novelty.

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