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The Strong and the Weak
#21
The fight was impressive. There was a sense of near passion radiating from the serpentine woman. Her desire to slay the Dreyken radiated. The intensity was not lost to Armande.

He remained apart and well clear of their fighting radius, but he was not completely transfixed. While the spectacle continued any number of vermin might crawl out of the shadows and attack from behind.

His senses splayed apart, tentacles that searched the diameter of the tunnel. Nothing tipped the scales of his instinct, and he resumed to study the fighting techniques of the two creatures.

Dreyken were far better known to him. They haunted the cities like rapists, although to his knowledge they had no interest in carnal desire, but they lurked, waiting and watching. They might toy with their prey's emotions for weeks before they struck so well they could imitate human men. Many Atharim were familiar- or crossed paths with- a Dreyken.

Giovanni was hurt. He nursed the five puncture-wounds with far greater control than Armande expected of a university student. Perhaps his studies carried him into the dark trenches of the world that served to harden him, or perhaps it was something else. With all Armande had seen in his life, he entertained all possibilities.

The five puncture wounds inspired emergence of an image he'd obsessed upon for weeks now. That of the Apollyon holding aloft an arm marred by five horrendous scars that shredded the ouroboros tattoo. In seeing Giovanni's wound, Armande knew now that the Ascendancy must have once faced a Dreyken. At the time the creature could not have known it tasted Apollyon's blood upon its claws. If only the beast had finished the job.

The fight intensified. Her head covering fell and with it, confirmation of her race. No other beast in heaven or hell was human in shape and yet covered with such golden scales. The woman was thrown to the wall, but she rebounded quickly. She fought with edged weapons, and Armande studied her speed, agility, and tactics. No Atharim as he was aware had bore witness to the style by which a naga engaged another combatant. Their logs said the creatures were forged by the gods to be assassins and spies, but they were too independent of mind to fall beneath blind obedience. The way she moved, quiet even in her fighting, the way those golden eyes must see in the dark, and the pitiless way she engaged the Dreyken spoke well to this history.

Instinct brought her arm up in the same manner which Armande himself might have done. It plunged the blade beneath the Dreyken's jaw, and the scrunch of bone, gurgle of blood, and hiss of a scream swallowed came immediately after.

The body fell away limp and the naga turned to face them with the head of her victim dripping from her hand.

He approached carefully. While he was aware of the race's natural gifts of speed and agility, he did not think they also possessed supernatural levels of energy. He watched the pace of her breathing.

"Thank you," he spoke with a false smile moments before attacking.
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#22
Giovanni watched the battle unfold, feeling somewhat dizzy and weakened. The fight went fast and Giovanni gasped as the creature tore the mask off of the mysterious stranger, revealing serpentine features. Golden scales covered her face and Giovanni noticed her slitted eyes for the first time.

As the snake-woman continued to fight the creature, Giovanni thought, A monster? No...A monster wouldn't risk itself to save me.


Guilt mixed with Giovanni's doubt as the creature's head separated from its body. The snake-woman held the creatures head in her hand and Giovanni turned to see Armande.

"Thank you," Armande said and moved to attack the snake-woman.

"Armande, don't...please,"
Giovanni spoke loudly, slumping to the floor. Unaware if Armande was hearing him, Giovanni continued, "The first thing you said to me was something about wondering if I had a dark purpose. I don't know what you are, Armande, but you have to be some sort of soldier of the light that seeks to keep evil from the world. You know she isn't evil. If she was a monster she wouldn't have risked herself to save me. She may look different than us, but she's not a monster. Please Armande, please let her go."


Since he had met Armande, Giovanni had spoken half-truths - lies covered in enough truth to hide the deceit. These words rang with a pure sincerity that struck a chord within Giovanni's soul - one that hadn't been struck since before he killed his brother.

"Remember before your brother, Giovanni,"
an ethereal voice spoke to him. "You were a good man once. Remember when you wanted to protect those from powers they couldn't comprehend. Remember when you helped Jensen and Connor. You've done bad things Giovanni, but you aren't so far gone that you can't be redeemed."


Giovanni remembered a desire to help - a time before he was selfish as the world around him seemed to disappear, his eyes unfocusing. He remembered Michael's words "We may not be born abominations, but we can become ones if we choose."
He remembered Armande asking him if he was affiliated with the church and his response that he used to attend Mass.

Can one God forgive another?
he thought as another voice interrupted, harsher than the other.

"No! Remember when they tried to kill you. Remember how they hunted you and still do. They will kill you...


"Aria didn't...
the calmer voice interjected.

The other voice hissed and continued, "You are a god, Giovanni, weakened yes, but still a god. You can get stronger and conquer what is yours. It's the right of the strong."


The calm voice spoke again, "No, Giovanni. You are strong and you can choose to use that...


The other voice hissed again and both voices began arguing with one another, battling for dominance of his sanity.

What am I? A good man fighting a dark demon, or a dark god attempting to shred away my humanity.


Giovanni's head tilted back to stare at the ceiling, completely unaware of whether or not Armande had heeded his plea or not, as his sanity balanced on the edge of a knife. Just one push, and Giovanni would fall to be forever consumed by the darkness in him.

Edited by Giovanni Cavelli, Jun 27 2014, 09:34 AM.
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#23
A life for a life.

Armane halted in his tracks. Giovanni pleaded with him to spare the animal. Armande stood upon the edge of a cliff, balanced there by his own intellect. Would a loving father allow a rattlesnake to escape when his children played in the yard nearby? Would a wise man set loose the captured cobra so that it might strike him in his sleep?

An eye for an eye.

The need for balance pressed upon him. The overwhelming sensation for equilibrium pulled him away from the cliff. Steps from the female creature upon whom his gaze was pierced, he stopped himself from striking her down.

A tooth for a tooth.

Behind him, Giovanni fell to his knees, but Armande did not turn to see if the young man had fallen dead. His gaze was fixed upon the creature.

"Go then. You took one life and I shall spare yours for now. Go then, creature, but know that I will not be so harmonious twice. 'Oculum pro oculo, et dentem pro dente.' Be gone, foul worm of Lucifer." A cold smile touched his lips. Armande may care not of the battle of heaven and hell, but he could wield the scriptures like spears.

He waited until he was convinced of her retreat and their safety.
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#24
Though she had won, her muscles remained tense. Slit eyes narrowed as the older of the two men smiled and addressed her. To Akantha, it looked as if the smile never reached the human’s eyes. The calculated gesture didn’t fool her in the slightest. On the contrary, it seemed to reassure her previous suspicions.

The grip on dreyken’s head tightened, and she thought of tossing it in the old man’s direction when the strained voice of the younger man called for their attention. His injury needed tending to, yet, instead of asking for help he pleaded for her life. That surprised her. He surprised her.

When Armande, as the younger man had called him, spoke again, it was to concede to the request. Her face remained calm, though her eyes weighed him with equal measures of distrust and dislike as the man did her. He was obviously reluctant to let her go, but an ounce of justice seemed to weigh in his conscience. Him, she understood. He was familiar.

She let go of the head, letting it fall at her feet with a thud, then watched it roll in the old man’s direction. Let the lifeless orb serve as reminder of what could await him if he chose to engage her in the future. She cared little for his insults, but Akantha let the words slide off her scales. A life was being spared, but she thought it unwise for him to think that it was hers.

The Naga walked to the lifeless body and pulled her knives free, wiping them clean on the beast’s coat before slipping them back where they belonged. Then, keeping an eye on the old man, she reached for her hood while stepping up to the injured man. How was she to trust that the one that had at first been willing to let him die would see to this man’s injuries?

“He needss help. You musst hurry.”
Akantha had crouched down to inspect the gift left behind by the dreyken. She had nothing to make it any better. As it was, she would have a fun time dealing with her own stinging wound. Before standing, the Naga studied the man’s eyes and silently nodded her thanks. She’d remember his face.

To Armande, she gave a cold look. A thin forked tongue slipped past her lips while her eyes focused on his. “Do not try to feed him to other beasstss, old man.”
She hoped the meaning of her words would sink in. She’d seen him, and she had understood his intent. Her tone also implied her disapproval.

Having said her peace, Akanthan slipped her head covering on once more, and hurried back the way she’d come. She still needed to find those that had ventured from the clan. One thought was troubling, however, if the dreyken were venturing this far up in the tunnels, what else was lurking out there?
Edited by Akantha, Jun 28 2014, 02:03 AM.
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#25
Giovanni snapped back to reality, the voices continuing to argue with one another. Armande stood farther forward and the snake woman was walking away. She had retrieved her weapons from the corpse of the...thing...and had replaced her head covering. Apparently, Armande had listened to him.

The voices argued, but Giovanni couldn't make out any words. Both voices were there though. He could pick out the unmistakable, somewhat feminine voice of the one that sought order and the hissing harshness of the one that sought chaos.

Huh...Order and Chaos. Perhaps they would be good names for them - Ordine and Caos.
Giovanni thought, translating the names to his native Italian.

"Ordine..."


"Caos..."


Giovanni assumed Ordine and Caos were satisfied with their name choices since they both decided to stop arguing with each other. They had only been there for a few minutes, but Giovanni felt relieved at their absence. It was difficult enough to think straight without the added distraction of the voices.

Giovanni stood up, slowly this time and the room stayed where it belonged. Giovanni realized he was still holding the iron bar he had acquired and instead of throwing it to the ground he used it to balance himself and hobbled his way over towards Armande.

"What was it?"
Giovanni asked bobbing his head towards the corpse and its discarded head.

The corpses blood brought back memories of its attack and Giovanni's stomach threatened to bring up his lunch. Giovanni heaved, but was able to keep himself from vomiting. The motion made the room spin a bit more until Giovanni was able to right the room with his makeshift staff.

"And I think...I need...a hospital."
Giovanni said quietly.

His thoughts finished his sentence, Preferably one with a priest.


With that, the arguing recommenced, but Ordine's voice was slightly louder than Caos. Amongst the babble, Giovanni heard one word.

"Forgiveness..."



Edited by Giovanni Cavelli, Jun 28 2014, 07:15 PM.
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#26
The Regus regarded the female naga indifferently. Within stirred a deep-seeded need to correct her appraisal of the situation. Armande had attempted to feed the Dreyken no such thing. By the whim of fortune alone did they even share the same passageway when the creature caught their scents.

Rather than correct her of her misguided conclusion, he relaxed his posture in light of their truce to add his own heavy assessment. "Had I desired to use the boy as bait, I would have tied him down and opened his skin to draw the scent of blood." The directness with which he described such a plan suggested a lack of humor in the statement. Farcity and whimsy were not among his temperaments. By the way he gazed down upon the weak sociology student, he was completely serious.

"I warned him of dangers and that the boy did not heed."

The female wrapped her face with cloth once more and slunk into the darkness. Giovanni hobbled toward Armande.

"It was a blood-drinker, Giovanni. Lucky for you, it was weak and tired. At their full strength they are notoriously difficult to kill." Many an Atharim were brought down by dreyken.

Lamp in hand, Armande knelt by the torso of the creature and went through its pockets. What money he found, he returned and offered it to Giovanni. By brief estimation the amount neared a thousand dollars. "Take this and heed my warning now, Giovanni. Return to the surface and do not venture here again. You have heart and would be a shame to see it ripped out needlessly." His command was cold as ice. "May fortune favor you, for I will not be the one to escort you back."
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#27
Giovanni took the money offered him and was uncertain by the strange good-bye Armande offered. The man granted him a warning as well to not return, but Armande man told him that he had heart, but refused to help him go to the surface. When the two had met, it seemed like Armande had some sort of purpose in the tunnels, and intended to stick by that.

Giovanni put the money in his pocket. It was quite a bit by his standards and should serve to pay the hospital assuming he could make it back. Giovanni felt the pain in his shoulder again, and debated asking Armande for help one more time. As he thought about it, he decided not to; Armande seemed to be the type that once he made up his mind, he didn't change it. Giovanni had convinced him to do so once, but Giovanni doubted he could do so again, and the energy would be better spent moving towards the surface.

Before moving, Giovanni turned towards Armande and said, "Thank you. I don't intend to return. Good luck to you Armande."


Giovanni turned and hobbled away, using his stick to stay balanced. It had appeared that tying the shirt over the wound had stopped the bleeding, but Giovanni still felt weakened. Giovanni thought of the creature - a blood drinker Armande called it - and shuddered. If the thing could drink blood, it probably had a good scent for it. He could be attracting lots of different creatures in these tunnels.

"Help...priest"


Yes, we are going to get help.
Giovanni thought towards Ordine.

The voice seemed pleased at that as if the thought of it gave him strength. He felt encouraged by it. At the same time, Giovanni had a sense of anger and hate. There was some anger towards Armande about his refusal to aid him. Giovanni tried to stop the thoughts, but regardless, they were there.

"Kill..."


It appeared as if dark emotions and actions fueled Caos, whereas Ordine was strengthened by positive thoughts and actions. Giovanni reminded himself to stay positive for the sake of his sanity.

"Help..."


Giovanni sighed. He had turned around the corner and felt a little stronger than before. The constant babble was a distraction and Giovanni tried to ignore it the best he could. He would need to be focused for threats. The power would help him remain alert. Giovanni drew in the source, and was glad to be able to feel it again. Apparently too tired to hold on to the power, the room spun again and Giovanni immediately let it go.

He was on his own then. Giovanni would have to tread through a dangerous area full of monsters that wanted to drink his blood while injured and tired. Giovanni continued to move up towards the surface wincing in pain every few steps. Giovanni wasn't strong. In fact, he was quite weak.

Continued in In the Heat of the...Tunnel?


Edited by Giovanni Cavelli, Jul 1 2014, 09:42 AM.
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