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The Western Cold — 2

May 20th, 2015 by Alyxandra

The storm had picked up as she crossed Church Square, eyes drawn northwards to the snow-covered Cathedral. If they cannot even protect themselves, a voice in her mind whispered, how can they ever protect—. She had to force such thoughts away, and she felt her eyes grow colder through the effort. She almost walked into an Acolyte; the older girl—why is she in those browns? A convert, surely—muttered an oath and glared her way. Yes, Alyxandra knew that she was an oddity, but what could she have done to fix that? Fine fashion didn’t help alleviate the stares, and strangers still looked at her as if they did not know what to make of her.

 

She knew what they mumbled behind her back. ‘Bastard,’ they would say, looking at her pale skin and hearing the accent she had not yet mastered hiding away. It had been months, now, and at times she felt she had made no progress in fitting in at this most interesting city. At times she wants to scream; at times she did. She knew that she was the talk of circles that were not profitable circles to be the talk of— being banished from a bathhouse would do that, and then whatever had happened … after. She sucked in a breath, the cold of this troublesome winter giving a frigid clarity to her mind. She had thought she had been in control of her fits, but her fragmented memories of sniping at, and then flat-out-shouting at, a Baron and Reeve were a commentary to her capabilities.

 

And in the aftermath? She should have been more wise. She had let slide insults towards the Prime Medicus and the Lord Baron. She should have been more wise, more thoughtful. Lies that they were, lies that she knew them to be, lies of memories that still scared her, she should have known to keep them quiet. Confess that they had passed her over, rather than offering that horrible Priest the truth. There were shadows in this city, shadows deeper than those which held the Farin Quarter in an earthy embrace.

 

She passed the Courtland Atelier, with its fanciful fashions that she wore almost exclusively. Shadows were deep there, too; she was a frequent customer. Today she ducked her head, facing the snow and carrying on to the west. There were signs, that way, of something wicked, of something horrible— why she felt so compelled to hunt these gateways was a mystery to herself. True, what she had said before: she was tired of being a victim, tired of taking what she was given without any reach to take something else. But it was also something more, something darker and stranger to her.

 

In the clutch of this magic, she felt something familiar.

 

It wasn’t the magic—Lord above knew it wasn’t that— but it was… something. Something sinister and primal. A sense of purpose, a sense of power. She glanced over her shoulder— there were shadows fallowing her, too. Her eyes widened, and a booted foot slipped on a loose cobblestone. She swore, drawing another look from another passerby, and fled down Church Road to the west.

The Western Cold – 1

May 18th, 2015 by Alyxandra
I feel it deep within,
 It's just beneath the skin
 I must confess that I feel like a monster
 I hate what I've become
 The nightmare's just begun
 I must confess that I feel like a monster
— — Skrillet; "Monster"

Alyxandra spit and the urchin scrambled backwards, something like a mix between fear and loathing in his eyes. The man was more poor than she understood: motley attire, and who knew how he had survived this cold? Snowbanks covered Lithmore City, heavy and ominous. The wind was ever-blowing, the flurries ever-constant. She had a cloak made of fine thread lined with silk; the cotton kept her warm, and the hat atop her hair gathered snow gently but fit snugly over her ears. The man? He had a “cloak” in the sense that it covered him, but it was just a threadbare blanket with several holes in it.

 

She hated seeing people like this in the city. If it were her decision they would be swept away, taken off to mines to earn their keep to society. It might not be kind, it might not be called for, but it was a truth that was far too plain for many to see: people like that man, shambling forwards and invoking the Spring’s and a bleat for charity, they were a poison on people as much as Praxis and his Demons were. Maybe worse, she thought, as they are a poison of the Soul—

 

Alyxandra cut those thoughts off abruptly. The footing was not certain, this early in the day. The sun glowed in the east but did little to shove through the heavy clouds. Lunare herself knew that sunlight was a fading memory— She clutched at her skirts, pausing suddenly. Just thinking that word brought them back, uninvited and afraid. Shaylei carving words into her skin, the Lord Baron dissolving into smoke.

 

There wasn’t a cloak so thick that she could warm her heart. She had learned to deal with the cold. Dropping her hands, setting her chin, she moved on.

 


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