06:25PMHe comes under the guise of slowly drawn moonlight, a breeze that skitters over the drawn path that leads to the Blue Moon Inn, a distinct impression of black that fills the world around it with a sense of dread so deep that animals suddenly freak out, a murder of crows and ravens streaking from their rook in the forest near the tavern itself, a few dogs who suddenly yelp and dart down the path toward the city streets, mice traveling in thick herds toward the gutters where they nest at night. The worst of it are the occasional magical creatures who feel his arrival but don’t know how to react. The thickest part of his passage is a rip in reality itself that slowly congeals upon itself before bursting, revealing him in its midst as it slowly fades and leaves him standing there. Augustus is a man of striking visage that stands nearly 6’3″ with piercing blue eyes, pale, marble flesh and a stoic expression. When he walks, the world seems to drawl a breath, waiting for him to act, the ground occasionally quaking for but a moment as he finally enters the tavern and things return to normal. It takes only a moment for this striking man to peer through the room before he is moving in the direction of a booth in the room. He is dressed impeccably in a suit of darkness, just the briefest glimpse of muted whites in the form of his undershirt that goes without the standard tie. Beneath one hem of the impeccable suit, at his right hip, he carries a blade that seems to glow blue in color, a blade that when one catches glance, they immediately forget when they look the other way. At the other side, what appears to be a standard handgun with magazine and clip and all.
The ageless abomination does not seem to show very much in the way of emotion. It’s easier to hide that in the outside world and his is one filled with meaning and possible corruption. When he opens his mouth, it’s not to speak but to yawn, revealing a perfectly human set of canines that are soon drawn from sight as an imp brings him a drink he hasn’t ordered yet, one that’s placed before him on the booth’s table and regarded with as much enthusiasm as one could guess would come from him. He shifts in his seat, reaching out with one hand to grab hold of the glass, a tentative shake and stir of its contents given with a straw nearby before he sips willingly from it.
The shadows glimmer around him, occasional movement signalling the watchful eye of a magician or some sort of shadow bound creature who is supposed to be there to protect their ‘king’ or ‘god’. It’s hard to tell which. The world seems distorted, one of those situations where you feel a sense of dejavu only not quite, like the whole world is some dream and you can’t tell whether you’re awake or if anything around you is real.
It’s that sort of energy that rolls off of him in thick waves, bombarding the minds of those around him. At the bar, there’s a few creatures (Humanoid, obviously) who start to shake their heads, as if their vision has started to fade. They’re joined by someone who seems to forget where he is, his head slamming abruptly to the wooden top of the table he is sitting at.
Even that, after a while, comes to a dull end as Augustus peers throughout the room, his arms folding over his chest after he does his best to secure his wrist cuffs with their small pins and then runs them down the length of his coat. He tugs it from his shoulders, rolling his arms to free himself of it before it’s tossed into a portal that opens randomly from the middle of no where.
The corners of his lips seem to perk at that instant, a wayward thought crossing his mind, and he shrugs his shoulders, rolling each one as if freeing himself of a painful stiff shoulder situation and then both his hands fall to the table. It’s like the sound of glass cracking and shattering before him as the seat in the other part of the booth splits open, opening a brief insight to what’s actually going on. Before him, as if summoned by his very presence, three shadowy figures emerge dressed in robes and carrying staffs of pewter, wood so old that it seems to rot within their very hands but also seem to give off a power of their own reminiscent of what Augustus’ used to be before he had become an abomination. “I knew you would come,” he speaks plainly, his hands’ fingers curling before him. “You know why I asked you here, don’t you?”
Each figure dressed in black, respondent robes seems older than the dirt beneath the tavern itself, older than life or death, with skin reminiscent of leathery paper, with eyes that are so drawn into the sockets that one has to question whether they can actually see or not. Their lips? Well, they’re sewn, each and every one of them, with what seems to be metal chord. When they speak, it’s not only with their minds but with a sense of authority that reaches ever beyond that.
One reaches out a hand that ghosts one of those thin, frail looking leathery fingers over his own hand and as Augustus tugs that hand back and away from the creature, it speaks with a voice containing a thousand of raspy tones, similar to that of a bee’s, or hummingbird’s, wings.
“Why have you summoned us, little one?”
Somewhere in the room, someone seems to bleed from their ears. Someone else suddenly gets a nosebleed so intense that they pass out from blood loss. Another person loses their mind, suddenly rising from their chair, running out of the tavern and into the streets where they are downtrodden by cars, horses, boars in the middle of the street itself.
“I need.. your protection. Not for me but for… them,” he answers, his voice raspy and thick with what could be his rich Italian accent but mixed with something else, something far older.
“Protection?” one of the old creatures repeats. “You summoned us for such a menial task?” speaks another before the last lifts his hand, pointing a spindly finger toward him without even a pause to consider his actions. “You know the cost.”
It wasn’t that Zaire had been called, exactly, but she felt something pull her to Consequence. She didn’t bother hiding the scars on her cheek, wearing them almost proudly this time around. Her yellow eyes were tinged with red, her arms bare as she stepped into the tavern. The usual jumpsuit she used to wear was back, only missing the sleeves now. A pair of flat, black boots reached her knees, and her tail flicked about. For anyone that knew her, she seemed different, colder. She saw Augustus there, and she stepped quickly behind him. There was a warmth that radiated off of her, as if one were standing in the sun. And, for anyone who could read auras, her normally golden energy was tinged through with streaks of blue.
As one of his own in a completely platonic, business sort of manner, Zaire, too, was among one of his priestesses, a figure of strength since she took care of the cult’s safety from a place of leadership. He notices her right away due to the fact that she bares his energy just the same as the rest, alongside her own of course. She is given a brief glance from those naturally striking blue eyes of his as she steps closer and finds her place behind him. Typically, he isn’t one to let others get behind him. He has been stabbed in the back so many times by his own family that it has become something of a trigger for anxieties. Of course, he doesn’t seem to act or respond to the fact that she’s there other than to peer at the stranger creatures who bore upon Zaire with their own minds, a mindless stab of razor sharp, knife like thoughts that attempt to strip her of her barriers since she is an outsider in the midst of Augustus’ meeting with them. “Enough,” he orders, a small wave of blue energy emerging from him like a beacon and barrier to battle theirs away. “Your cost is blood and life, not from just myself but from the union of blood, mine and hers. Am I correct?”
A hand sneaks beneath the shadows at Zaire’s feet, notice to remain calm written on its palm as a priestess of her own branch retreats. As always, even without her initial orders, there are those who would follow Augustus to the ends of the world.
The three creatures, old and withered, peer incredulously at Augustus, cringing back as if struck along their faces with the strange Abomination’s request. “You are correct,” they answer all at once.
The three beings decided a smirk. Zaire had already dealt with people forcing their way into her head already, and this was nothing compared to The migraines and nightmares. She did raise a brow, but remained silent as they spoke. No, she wasn’t the type to stab someone in the back, unless her life was at stake. But, these days that no longer mattered. Yellow eyes flick down to the message, a simple blink given in response. She may have seemed calm outwardly, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t alert.
His eyes crinkle as he lifts a hand, just one hand, that is merged with the darkness that has been coating and slicking along the rooms walls this entire time. He knows that Zaire’s presence means that something about the situation isn’t altogether right. Augustus knows what he’s doing, though, and he wastes no time in giving the three an offering of flesh and blood, though it isn’t quite what they’re looking for right away. That darkness around his hand twists his own bone structure, sharpening his hand’s tip to a fine razor edge while the flesh recedes. The effect is that he has a bone blade for a hand now, one that does not need to be sharpened for what comes next. His action is quick and not without some pain borne from its tenacity. He strikes like a snake, shearing and cutting his hand away. At the same time, his control over flames and fire itself cauterizes the wound so that it cannot bleed more than necessary. That’s when their eyes become apparent, these creatures with shells and carapace that make them look oh so human. Red. Their faces contort and they are upon the hand before another word can be said, fighting with the clattering sound of sharpened shark teeth, each one a snap and click that resounds through the room as they eat both the flesh and bone of his hand, cleaving through as if there were no boundaries protecting it.
Outwardly, Zaire had no reaction to watching him slice his own hand off. Inwardly, however, she was pretty much ready to cauterize and heal the wound herself. She couldn’t grow appendages back, yet, but she could do *something*. But that was before she saw him doing exactly what she had planned. Fine. She wouldn’t be calling on the Barghest this time.
As the beasts fight among themselves for the blood and flesh, given to them freely from his own hand, Augustus is busy wrapping the wound with a handkerchief he had stuffed in his pocket before. Seemingly, at some point between him cutting his own hand off and the creatures moving to eat it, his flesh had morphed back into what it was before, leaving him with only one hand and his mouth which he uses for his teeth to tighten the tourniquet. His blue eyes sweep over his shoulder to find Zaire’s and he grins innocently, revealing a surprisingly charming facade that easily hides whatever pain he may have been feeling at that point. “You have your blood, your pound of flesh. You have only need for life,” he reasserts, holding his hand above his heart and against his chest so that it is not a direct geyser right into his face since it’s still got a slow dribble of blood that seeps freely into the cloth he’d wrapped around it.
He uses his one free hand to point to them, the creatures suddenly relieving themselves of the leftovers of his sacrifice. “Yes, you have given your blood and flesh, but not life. You cannot willingly give up another’s life without their permission, at least not a life that has witnessed the world. Instead, we shall take what we see fit.”
The creatures, not to be trusted, each repeat the statement and sentiment before their attention finds its way back to Zaire. “SECRECY! ORDER YOUR DOG TO SECRECY!” The sound is so great that three of the NPCs in the room drop dead, their bodies bled from the inside out so that they are like withered prunes upon the floor.
Dog? Oooh, boy, that was probably *not* the best term to use. The Barghest slammed itself against the walls of her mind, meant to hold it back. But never enough that it didn’t seep into her just a little. She clenched her jaw, remaining silent for now. But one word, and she would *not* hold herself back. Each breath she took, she was holding back a growl, her ears pinned flat against her head. Even her tail was still, the thick fur on it standing on end.
His free hand is lifted, palm up, in the direction of the three magical creatures, twisted and warped by their desire for blood. Their faces are covered with it, flesh hanging loosely. “Swear it, Zaire. You’ll never speak of this to another being so long as you live unless you are freed from your oath.”
Zaire turned her head to look at Gus, a growl passing through her. “I swear it, my Lord.” Even though she could hear the snarling and howling of the Barghest. It wanted to rip flesh, to feast on meat. She silenced it, promising a hunt for the beast later.
Augustus can sense Zaire’s concern, can sense her distaste in having to be sworn to secrecy. It’s their bond, through her magic that is his own, that will enforce that silence upon her whenever she moves to bring up what has happened here. It’s through their bond that she would keep that to the ends of the earth if made to. The creatures pause to look at her and then back to Augustus before the world’s reality shatters once more and pieces together as if time has been rewound. The only thing that remains true is that Augustus’ hand is gone, at least for the moment. With them out of sight, with Zaire still behind him, far enough that he can’t exactly reach out and touch her, the burned flesh fades away and a new hand is grown in a matter of moments. “You and I should talk,” Augustus states in a ‘matter-of-fact’ manner. “Come with me, Zaire.” He stands, grabbing his jacket from deep within. He inches toward her then, folding his arms over his chest. “Do not move past your station again. Kage might have some semblance of warmth toward you but when it comes to my family and I, I’ll decimate you and all those connected to you.” His hand rises, just one, catching her chin. He drawls her face close, pressing a small kiss to her brow and then another to her cheek. “Protection. Shall we?”
Even if it weren’t for the bond between them, she would have kept her word. It wasn’t in her nature to blurt secrets out to anyone. Not even the imp she had made a contract with. Zaire relaxed slightly, though she still had to look up to meet his eyes. “I’m sorry,” she said softly. “I don’t like being called a “dog.” And…..” She trailed off as she felt his lips meet her forehead and her cheek. She nodded, though, unfolding her arms and relaxing further.