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Cats and Canaries
(2013-04-13 - 2013-05-05)
A long conversation after a hard evening's carousing. About shoes and ships and sealing wax.
Rena Laradyne Rena returns to the Palamecian castle estate in the extremely late hours of the morning, handing some food from the festivities to the gate guards that check her identity before she passes by.

It is with extremely good spirits that she makes her way through the gloomy silent halls of stone, her footsteps ringing hollowly across the floor as she makes her way to her appointed guest chamber.

She enters it, looks around quickly to survey the slightly opulent surroundings and walks to the window, her footsteps muffled by the thick plush of the intermittant rugs over the cold stone. She takes a pair of climbing gloves off a dresser, slipping them over her fingers as she examines the window and opens them, looking upwards and around for any sign of movement or at the sill for strange markings of runes.

She does the same check on the doors and around the walls, curious to see any runes or symbols that may be hidden by furniture and artful drape. Afterwards she leaves the room, timing her movements as to always ben in an unoccupied alcove when a patrol moves through and she picks her way towards the commander's chambers.

This kingdom was one of masks. That was something she had become increasingly sure of listening and watching the interplay between Matthew and his slave commander.

Now, in the afterglow of a well spent evening did she entertain the notion, the curiosity of seeing whether she was simply misunderstanding a local custom.. or whether an answer was given in the presence of the master that must be given.

Souji's words come back to her. Hope.

Well. She supposed that was so. She hoped the answer would be different this time. Otherwise.. this conversation was going to be dreadfully boring.
Interestingly Rena will find his door was not locked. The room itself was actually rather dark. Beyond the single candle that flickered with flame on the desk that was along side the door. The chamber was a rather nice size. There was the desk with the candle, then in the corner was a writing table with its own candle that was currently not lit.

There was then a wall in closest, over on the other corner was an armory dummy, though no armor was laying on it, along side that was a long rug on the ground for whatever reason it may serve. Yet there was no windows here. Just the darkness in this large size room. Then the bed itself which head was against the opposite side to the closet and easy to see from the door way. Yet the darkness of the room hid most of its details.

There the Dark Knight was laying there with his back to the door. His body seemed like it was sweating. As if perhaps he was running a fever as he slept. The only piece of clothing over his body was a pair of loose pants.

One thing that did stand out against his backside however, was the fact on the back was an 'X' that was etched right into his very skin.
Rena Laradyne Rena reached the chamber without actually knowing what to expect. There had been several methods she could use, even if the commander had been asleep. A cheerful and harmless drunkard returning from a frivolous party had been the one she had chosen. Her hand on the knob, Rena looked down at that hand and considered taking a step back and going back to the rooms. Their ways are not her ways. There were no ways that were hers anymore, the place was distant now. The memories of someone else, of a dream that she had awoken from.

Rena looked into the darkness and saw the commander laying there with the unnatural brand burned into their skin and felt the cheerful drunken demeanor that she was going to affect slip away from her like melting snow. The muscles in her face relaxed in stages until she stared with simple and uncomplicated blankness at the desk with it's single candle.

In the darkness, the dream murmured something from far away. The shadows were filled with huddling shapes in the shadow of a great crystal dome. A boy lay on his bed, sweating with terrible fever. His mouth opened for the terrible scream and then was silenced as the memories lost their grip on her and faded back into the shadows which they had all retreated to, no longer strong enough to pierce the veil except for that single muddled moment of remembered pain. The way she held their fingers. The gleaming sweat of the fever. The faces all turned away from the already 'dead' while they still lived.

Rena blinked several times. In the past she had stumbled away from the sharp edges of these memories, shoving them as far away from her as possible. She realized now that she didn't feel anything. The pain was absent as well as the sound. It was just pictures written over her eyes as surely as afterimages when she moved her sight away from the fire.

Rena strode into the chamber. She did not think about what she was doing. Although the memory did not guide her fingers, they informed them as she knelt down. Gently, she fetches a cloth and wipes the sweat away, eyes boring into that brand with a crackling intensity.
By sheer pressure of an old castle, the gentle wind that moves through the old place, slowly shuts the door behind Rena once she moves in. As she approaches the Dark Knight, he does not move. His breathing was light and it was steady; at least what seemed like it.

When the cloth started to move the sweat away, the Dark Knight's body twitched almost. His muscles tensed up. Yet he did not move right away, but his eyes did open with an orange tint in them. He glanced down at his hands without moving his body, watching the dark mist wanting to roam out from his hands. The Darkness wanting out. Wanting control. Yet to give in completely, was not an option. The armor protected him from himself. Protected him from the darkness of his heart. There was no armor, thus the danger was far greater.

His hand clenched tightly as he closed his eyes and forced it back. Forced it back within him, which was like swallowing something rather hard down his throat. His body shuddered before he hand suddenly reached over to take Rena's arm The dark mist that was there vanishing in that very moment as his eyes, though red, had a gold hue to the edges of them. "You should not be in this chamber."

He holds her arm for a moment, he then slowly lets go of her arm. "Your presence here has brought you in possible danger." His voice lacked the emotion, yet there was a hint, a very small hint of possible concern for her. He stares at her then eye to eye. Those red eyes almost trying to go gold in color. He then slowly rolls himself to face her. Almost to the point of sitting up as he stares at her still. A predator looking at a possible hunt. " why do you come here..?"

The candle light flickered a bit as if threatening to go out. His eyes continue to stare at her, before they slightly roam over her figure. Yet the Predator look remains and he seem to be slowly, silently, searching for something on her, or perhaps, in her.
Rena Laradyne Rena goes absolutely still. Her features close down, not even the muscles in her arm twitching as the commander stills her hand. It is like staring down any other predator that she has ever known, and almost a comfort to face something she understood.

There is the recrimination and the calculation frustration then in the back of her mind. But berating herself for what was ultimately a dangerous and foolish endeavor did not gain her anything but one more wind to an already taut spring.

So she lets go. She lets the memories and the resentment and the fearm the anxiety and the self-directed anger all go. She didn't need them. She needed to be still and silence and to think clearly through this encounter now that she was within melee range.

Rena pressed her lips together in a dry mouth and throat into a firm, grim line. The candle light flickered but she did not so much as move, staring at the predator with neither challenge or submission. "I want you to answer me one question." her lips move but the rest of her face is rigid, her lips barely even open though the voice that comes out is the consistency of iron. "And no possible danger will deter me from getting that answer."

Her hands move and she smoothly reaches up to clasp the arm of the commander, taking the cloth from where she dropped it from frozen fingers and transferring it to her knee as she lay kneeling before him. "Answer me this, and I promise I will leave should you ask me to leave and never trouble you again."

The light inside her, for those in the viewing audience with the ability to see such things, is a calm and vibrant smear like winter sunshine. The darkness enfolds this light like a shroud, not sealing it but keeping the light shuttered away like a dirtied lantern whose light can only be spied through tainted and mottled glass. "Did you give your name away willingly as you said? For the honor of Palamecia? .. or did he take it by force like he branded you like market street cattle?"
The man does not move, he only observes. Watches. Listens. His red eyes with their gold edges attempting to seek and they find. What they find is not what the darkness hungered for. This one would not do. This one would not make a decent meal to sedate the craving.

Pity. It could be.. No.

The Dark Knight closes his eyes, his brows furrow for only a moment as he slams it all back. That locked heart, attempting to keep all the darkness within in check. He can feel her hand take his arm. A sensation he was not use too. A very alien sensation. It was enough that he almost moved his hand away. A hiss escaping his lips for a moment as his eyes opened.

He then inhaled deeply before letting out a soft exhale. Calming his nerves once more, settling his mind to answer the question she presented to him. This one simple question, or what should be. For a normal man. "My emperor gave me purpose when their was nothing. In nothing he gave me meaning. He gave me life. This is my title. This is my name." He tilts his head slightly. "Now I answer your question, now perhaps you may answer mine?"

He stays quiet for a moment, his red eyes glancing at her hand. Such a curious thing. Such a curious woman. Would she be so willing to show such openness if he was in his armor? If his dark powers were in check? Hardly, yet perhaps.

He then moves forward once more, almost getting closer to her. His eyes looking into her's, scanning them, peering deeply into them. "Why are you so curious?"
Rena Laradyne Rena continues to levelly stare back at him, watching. Taking in the small movements as her chest barely moved and the breath barely trickled in and out through her lungs. She knew the fear and the anger was there but she simply chose not to acknowledge them. It's really uncomfortable to kneel on a stone floor as her knees were beginning to protest but she would sit, motionless until she had the luxury of movement again.

Her still face clouds over slightly as he asks her a question in return and her eyes become slightly distant. The light in that flickering shuttered lantern trembled for a moment as if disturbed by the motion of something moving around in that shrouding darkness before Rena took in a small breath and let it out through her teeth with all the weariness and regret of a sigh, far far removed. "I see." she murmurs. "So you are forever bound to his service because he is the one who gave you your name. Even though it is not a name."

She nods slowly and a moment of sadness crystallizes across her eyes as her mouth becomes another grim line. "..I have seen many people enslaved. By money. By power. By foolish pride. They all bear the marks of their chains. Some inflict them on themselves. Others.. are branded. Property. Chattel. Worth only the reflection attention of others. Waiting for notice. Waiting for meaning. Waiting.. even for death to notice them."

Rena gives him a small sliver of a sad smile as she continues to meet his eyes. Not pitying. Just.. sad. Perhaps regretful. "I wanted a closer look at yours." she passes it off lightly, her voice melodious but her tone still like iron. "After all. You cannot break what you do not first closely examine."
The red eyes continue to stare into her own. Perhaps they both searching to see what they other had. Perhaps trying to determine who was the stronger. Leon rumbled lowly at her explanation as to why. Then the want to see his own eyes closer, which as she would find, the eyes were very much a predator and very little, to perhaps no light remained in them at all. Depending on how preceptive she was and how much was just reflection of the warm candle light.

The Dark Knight then pulled away from her as he then sat himself up to sit on the bed. He grunted and clenched his jaw. He could tell her to leave. He could continue to ask her questions. If she /was/ to remain, he would need to know much about her. Yet she would probably return the same.

He then motions for her to sit on the bed to get off the stone floor. "You have been drinking. The sent of wine is on your breath." He raises a brow. "..several soldiers also partake in such acts. You learn to locate the ones who have and who have not."

"The knights of Palamecia join under his Emperor by their choice. They are here, because they wish to be here. They serve, because they wish to serve. You will find no chains or shackles here, beyond the ones we create ourselves."

The man then crosses his legs before he closes his eyes. Perhaps in half, trying to ignore her presence. At least from some side of himself. "Why did you attempt to see to my body and what other question do you have for me?"
Rena Laradyne "Well. The very next time I break into the room of a strange man, I will be sure to bring the wine with me." Rena tells him with flat amusement, slowly leaning her body just enough so that her splayed legs could release their tension and ache a little less fiercely. "It was a very good vintage. My friends enjoyed it immensely. And I am able to enjoy it as well because of Palamecia. I won't fault that. But you contradicted yourself, commander." she raises a few fingers to loosely tug through the slightly askew braids in her hair and twist free a small tangle of it as she returns it to laying across her hip.

"You said you were made, that you were given life by the emperor giving you a name but you said the knights of Palamecia join Matthew out of choice. They serve of their own will. If this is so.. then tell me the name you cast aside to be the commander. But.. you can't, can you? It is the name you sold to this shaman of the world of ruin."

Rena's demeanor flips again, the smile warming her face as she responded. "In the cities, you live on money alone. You cannot hunt. You may raid, but you risk the enforcers. There is no grass, or tree, or water that is not already claimed. So should you fever, you need help. If you do not get help. You sicken and you die. I am not a healer, but I have seen many fevers."
The Dark Knight narrows his eyes as he listens to her. He is a man who lacks emotions, but yet sometimes some emotions surface, if only just slight. He hasn't fully recovered and this is why, so for the lady guest of the castle, she gets the rare treat of seeing the military commander when he isn't at his fittest.

"I am with no name because I have no name." The Dark Knight states simply. "The Knights are born with names. I was not." He cants his head to the side. "My being is different from theirs." He then closes his eyes. "..and I have no memory before my creation."

He pauses as he says this, a mild grit of his teeth. That was something that slipped and perhaps he knows it. To honest. To open. She did not need to be lured. She did not need to be /close/. There was nothing to /gain/ from her. She was the Emperor's.

"I am sorry that our customs though confuse you, my lady." He hrms. Words coming to mind to speak, but those words swallowed away. They were not words he needed to say. His eyes seeming to loose focus for a moment as the red tries to become gold before they move back to red.

The man then shakes his head. "..but I thank you for attempting to see to the fever." More words swallowed. More mental checks noticing of things starting to slip. This conversation may be going on for to long. Yet he was Intrigued by her. The strength of will. The gestures. He wanted to know more. He wanted to... test her in his own way. To see where she truly was on the spectrum of light and dark. Though the heart told him what he wishes to see, now it was her solid actions that would speak the loudest. Yet.. how do you test a woman like this.. when fear was no longer your tool.
Rena Laradyne "They do not confuse me." Rena says softly with that closed lipped smile of grim amusement. "Any child out on Shiva's great blizzard plains hears of the tales of those who steal the names of the unwary. Of the desperate who sell their names away for power or station.. or for the sake of their family." her voice catches for just a moment.

She then recollects herself, fingers now playing across the cloth draped in a heap on her leg. "And I very well can't continue the attempt if you do not let me." she raises the cloth very slowly again, easy to catch at any time as she raises it towards his face. "Though I must admit.. as a hollow man, you do a passable imitation of life." Rena continues to give that grim smile. There is a sparkle of fascination in her eyes, a faint wonder as he explains the situation and his circumstances. She surripitously stretches her feet, a ripple of muscles to chase away a cramp in her legs that goes up to her hip.

She continues never looking away from him, watching the color and the expression shift ever so minutely and her fingers gently curve to bite into the stone. "Not perfect. But very passable."
The man cants his head to the side at her comment of how he mimics being alive. Those red eyes study her as she moves in with the cloth. He slightly moves back, like an animal unsure of what to make of the strange human gesture. Yet he then remains if she tries to come in closer again.

"You are the first for me to interact with on such a level and tomorrow I will be re-attuned with my armor if, my Emperor deems me fit again for duty." His red eyes glance over her form for a moment, studying all her gestures and movements. He then looks into her own eyes. "Under normal circumstances, I only speak to see hear the reply, as all words carry meaning. All words will either support the action or will show the lies of the action. Many of those of light fail at words."

"..The darkness tends to be more honest." the military commander adds with a bit of brow furrow and then looking away.
Rena Laradyne "Well, then not to disparage Matthew, but he has done you a disservice." she clucks her tongue deep in her throat but the shimmering blades of her gloves catch the light of the candle in their retracted and dulled positions.

Rena twists her lips to the side and continues to regard him. She says this without judgement, as easily as a statement about the weather. Her eyes continue to search him out whenever he chooses to look back in her direction.

"Mm. Well. I do know the truth hurts more than a lie, even if it takes longer to ferret it out. It goes unexamined and unknown because it simply hurts too much to acknowledge."

Rena then gives him a teasing and almost brilliant smile, but her eyes do not match it and it is a calculated expression for a moment before the expression fills even her eyes.

"I say a disservice because there will be times when very drunk shivans ask you very awkward questions whether you are in your armor or not commander. And there are very.. useful parts of life he seems to have neglected in your crafting." Otherwise, she is calm and businesslike and soon she rocks back onto her legs, putting the cloth aside.
The Dark Knight looks back at her as she explains the disservice. Mostly until then he has been quiet and not really moving away. He just sits there like a good boy. He listens to every word she has said to the point and continues to do so.

He tilts his head a bit to the side. Unsure of how to take a bit of the statement made. It was a curious wording to him. How did his Emperor Mateus do him a disservice by negating something? Negating what? He creates fear. He can cause men to have nightmares. He was walking darkness. What was that could be missing.

'..passable imitation of life..'

"How is the nature of my passable imitation of life effecting my ability to serve? To be of a disservice of?" Yes, now he was curious and the tone was there. Like a child seeking an answer from a parent. He then moves forward. Those eyes narrowing slightly. Searching. Waiting. Brows furrowing. "Explain."
Rena Laradyne Rena presses herself up from the ground and rocks, sweeping her feet around so that she will rest on the other hip for awhile. She glances down for only a moment to gather her thoughts, letting her hair slide down in a cascade as she takes a slightly lecturing tone. "Alright. Let me tell a story, though. It will illustrate my point..."

Rena thought quickly and although a story about a young woman feeding a story to a great beast of the dark woods to keep her from becoming it's dinner flashed across her mind, she shoved that one away and took a few seconds to tailor a different story and to shorten the epic considerably. Her voice took on a rhymthic cadence as she began.

She began a story of a powerful shaman whose minions caused fear and terror across the unyielding glacier which was her home once upon a time. His name was Atal, a false shaman's name with a face kept hidden always behind a grisly mask of steel.

His servants were the Nameless. They were hollow men, men with only half a life, men of shadows and mist and metal that Atal called from distant lands beyond the barriers of ethereal fog that kept the lands beyond separate from eachother. They did not speak nor laugh nor sorrow. They felt no joy and no pain yet were as relentless as a chill in the blood creeping to freeze the heart.

Their master Atal was a man once. The chieftain of a small and failing tribe who traded his true name away to the prince of shadows, Diabolos, in one of his many guises. In return for the secret of the hollow men and immortality, he became a shaman but was stricken with a terrible hunger.

Go. he would tell his minions. Go and claim me the names of the living so I may feast. And the hollow men did as they were commanded. They raided the little towns and the proud peoples living in the ice. They wrought terror and pain and brought many souls to Atal.

But eternity is a long time to suffer under such a hunger as came with the shadow prince's gift, and with time Atal became more and more greedy. His influence grew vast and nearly all the tribes of Shiva bowed to his will and worshiped him. They worshipped him or they would die. And still.. he was not satisfied.

GO. he told his nameless. Go and claim me the names of the living so I may feast. And the half men did as they were commanded. They tore down his temples and their dark fury razed the Children of the First Frost down to a handful. They wrought terror and pain but could only make a meager offering to Atal's great hunger.

It was at such a day that the divines spoke to shamans and mettled in the affairs of men, evil and good alike. Siren, the Sly lady and the wife of Raiden the thunder god hatched a plan that would defeat the scourge of Shiva without raising a finger. She must do so because to allow her husband to strike down the shaman would surely cause a war between the gods for Diablos had claimed this shaman as his own and would brook no direct interference.

Siren is a lady of song and temptation. A lady of emotions and testing, for no weapon and no knight is sharpest without being tested. So she appeared to Atal in his beautiful palaces of Ice and spoke with him. In a beautiful song she whispered that she could solve Atal's problem. All he need do is bend knee to her. To pay homage in exchange for her secrets,

But Atal was a proud man. A man whose power had swelled so that he made no homage to the ice. He made no homage to any creature and certainly not to any god. So the shaman turned her away, and he did not change.

Do not turn me away said the Sly Lady. I will take any offering you so choose for me. Even a single pebble from the turf and I will whisper you the answer that you may be forever content and loved.

But Atal's heart could not be swayed for it had turned black and withered over the many centuries of his rule and again, he turned her away. He did not change because the great wisdom that the Black Prince imparted on him never extended to himself. He did not whisper when shouting would do. He did not promise, nor tempt, nor reward. He simply took as was his right to take, for his nameless were great and terrible and could tear apart the body of Shiva herself.
Rena Laradyne And it was true. They were strong and dread moved in their wake and yet the children of the First Frost are a people of stillness and strength. It became more and more difficult to draw the offerings fit for a ghoul, let alone one touched by the divine.

The few who survived the rampages of the Nameless taught their children the story of Atal and his shadowy half men and the knowledge passed from sight and sound into song and memory.

Ultimately the battle was lost, as it is often lost, on the stomach of one of the opposing forces. The shadowmen were not people. They were hollow. They could only do what Atal told them, and Atal was too proud and too vain to change. To bend his ear to the Sly Lady, even as that was what she intended all along.

So the great shaman Atal, whose will buckled the ice and whose touch withered the most powerful warriors sat in his vast and broken city of ice and starved. He starved and the city became his tomb, his nameless banished forever back to the mists that brought them.

For want of a single pebble, an empire was felled.

Rena lets the story and the images she had woven with her words come to a close, sitting in stillness with her eyes closed for a moment before opening them again to regard the commander.
The Dark Knight listens to the story. His red eyes watching any gestures she makes. His ears listen to every syllable and every word that hung in the air. He came to sit somewhere once more in this story. His head tilting to one way then to another. Silence though he remained. Silent and rather still. His breathing was a gentle, if sometimes almost a forgotten breath at times.

He almost became entranced in the story, almost forgetting his own hunger for a moment. His own pain from within of the need. His red eyes almost calming a bit, like a wild beast soothed by a song.

When the story was over, his eyes gained back their sharpness for a moment. His brows furrow as he starts to now process the words. Chewing on them as he thinks on what she has to say. What she was attempting to 'teach' him. To explain to him.

There was a long silence as his mind wonders over everything. A great deal of information to process and break down. "Your concern is that in my poor attempt of imitation that, unless my Emperor commands it, I can not act on my own?" He cants his head to one side, as if he was analyzing now his own question. Analyzing his own thoughts. Those red eyes look away, until he looks down at his hands. He narrows his eyes as he looks at them, at the dark mist radiating from his hands slightly. He gives a low rumble, before the dark mist seems to vanish away.

He moves his fingers a bit before he closes his eyes. "Perhaps there is some falla in the lack of ability to properly mimic emotion, yet it does not...." He looks over to the other side. He seems to continue to be heavily chewing on this. He then slides his legs out from under him, before he goes to scoot forward and then place his feet on the cold stone floor.

"In your story, this Atal is a monster. Cold and cruel." He then starts to stand up once more. "He is to represent his Emperor?" He asks looking at her. "..or is he to represent me?" He then goes to move up closer to her, with her only a inch higher, they easily met eye to eye. "Our Emperor is neither cold nor cruel. Yet I can be, but that is my job to be." He then turns away from her before walking over to writing desk, where it is in the shadows, he then looks over to his shoulders, his red eyes glowing in the darkness. "To have emotion would mean to feel for those I kill." He then looks away. "To show them anger or any sign of emotion, would be to grant them a weakness. Emotion hinders logic. Emotion..."

He then turns around extending out his hands into the light, soon then very dark mist that was seen earlier starts to cover his hands, they almost start to become black in color, the darkness seeming to move up his arms into the shadows. He clenches his hands tightly. Those red eyes almost taking on an orange color. Fighting with the darkness wanting to reign control. Fighting with a very dangerous thing that could consume him without the proper protection from himself. "..leads to lack of focus... which leads to being devoured." Soon the darkness puffs off like smoke as his hands return to normal and he almost goes down to his knee in that very moment.

His hand reaches into the stone floor, his finger tips attempting to claw the very stone. "You can not fake emotion. As either the heart knows of emotion. Or it does not." He then inhales deeply. "...though you will say that is not true. That faking the emotion can make one seem more alive. So, I ask you," He then looks up at her with those red eyes from where he kneels. "..can you fake emotion? Will your heart allow you too? Can you be the Siren?" He lowers his head. "..because if one can mimic emotions, without the heart displaying emotion.. then one can learn.. in order to spot when the heart lies." He closes his eyes then. "..and truly see an individual's true nature."
Rena Laradyne Rena watches the entire process from her partially splayed seat on the cold palamecian stone. Her eyes track and follow him as he stands and moves to the writing desck. Although her eyebrows raise and her face stiffens at the glowing red, it stills completely back down to crystallized waiting stillness as the streamers of darkness crawl over his hands.

She does not raise her voice in defense of the story, nor challenge his interpretation of it. Her eyes track and gather and reel in every word and gesture.

Finally he kneels and she begins to move.

The leather creaks and ripples as she languidly stretches out her feet, working them back and forth once or twice before she leans up on one hip and then twists so that she faces him with her knees pressing into the stone.

While she moves, that lantern of winter sunlight that is the light of her heart remains completely stilled. A reflection of an overcast sun on ice. The look on her face however starts with a small smile. It is a contrast of extremes with just the small smile quirking the edge of her lips while her eyes are filled.. with awe. Something innocent and compelling, a single beguiling note like a single crystal snowflake instead of a sledgehammer.

The eyes transform the entire face, making it shy and reserved. Her eyes flicker self consciously nad her hand moves to tease at her hair, then flicker back to him. There is a mercurial, lightning brief flash of smile that curls down into something smoky and comforting. A warm and compassionate regard like a single smear of vibrant red. A single flower in a snowfield.

Her approach is not slow, but not quick as well. The shivan reaches out to tenuously put her hands on his arms, trailing them up them as she leans further and further towards him until their foreheads are almost touching. Then. As gentle as someone not wanting to shatter a fragile crystal, she puts a hand behind his neck and pours all of that emotion like an uncorked bottle down into him, eyes closing in the moment before the kiss and in the moments afterwards (for it seems to take no time at all and forever) her lips brush next to his ear, her face still leaning on his and she whispers. "..and.. now.. a last question of the evening, Nameless."

And it all seems to happen at once. She slams a fist into his solar plexus, attempting to stun him long enough to force him backwards ans pin his arms to his sides, using her weight to attempt to knock him over. Somehow the claws are activated on her hands, the articated hooked steel next to his throat as she inquires, with hate in her voice and flashing eyes. "..Which mask is the lie?"
The Dark Knight reopens his eyes as she starts to move closer to him. He furrows his brow in a moment of being unsure what she is doing or even attempting. He watches as the emotion changes and as she brings herself down to her level. The gestures, then motions, they cause him to cant his head only slightly to the side.

It is when her hands touch his arms, does his body tense up and he moves back only a bit. His turning to the side slightly as those red eyes lock on her. Dark mist for just a moment move around his arms, before they simmer down again. The predator unsure what to make of what could be his prey. His prey perhaps becoming another Predator. Yet he was unsure. He did not know.

Then when her hand reached behind his neck. It caused him to almost stutter a breath. Like earlier when her hand touched his arm and even now. None of this was something he understand. None of it was something he could grasp on a full compensable level of emotion. It did not process in his mind as anything but a strange sensation. A strange feeling echoing through him to his very dark core.

Then as their lips met he froze in place. Those lifeless eyes widening slightly with the pupils narrowing to near pinpoints. This was not combat. This was not tactical knowledge. This was not fear. This was not authority. This was not anything he knew where to place. It did not belong in his world and yet, he found his hand shaking wanting to reach up. Perhaps to pull her away, perhaps to keep her there. He was a hunter. A predator. The dark mist moving along his arm once more, moving slightly out toward her. Like a curious child. His hand almost to her shoulder.

She whispers in his ear. The breath causing his hand to pause where it was. Was this-- fake? Was she--


The thought was suddenly interrupted by a quick change from confusion and what he did not comprehend, to something that he truly, understood. Pain. The fist slammed into him with his guard down. He coughed out air from the impact, before she suddenly slammed him down onto of his own arms. He grit his teeth as his body impacted the ground. The very dark mist seeming to suddenly attempt to move around his body. His eyes forcefully closed shut on the impact snap open to see the claws at his thought. Those red eyes almost taking on a gold color. The dark mist attempting to grow over his body further.

She asks her question. He grits his teeth, before he lays his head back and the mist seems to pull in before vanishing once more. She.. must not be harmed.. he could not harm her. She was a guest. He did not have his armor. It could consume him.

He lays there a bit longer in silence. Staring at her as the eyes slowly return to their red color. He stares at her, before closing his eyes and laying his head back. He doesn't even fight with her. "..Either could be a lie. Either could be true. You win." He states calmly before reopening his eyes. "I..." there was a pause in his voice. "..I surrender."
Rena Laradyne Rena sits back down and away from him with a relieved bump, the rage clearing from her face like the sun breaking through stormclouds. She laughs a trifle hysterically for a few notes, reaching over to automatically fold the claws back into their dulled positions back across the gloves.

"Well." she says with a trace of the drunken cheerfulness that may again be another mask. "Then there.. is a first time for everything." She continues to laugh quietly, her heart giving a shudder for a moment of.. something. Fear? Despair? Happiness? It's all mixed up and muddled behind the shroud of dark glass. "Next time, I think I /will/ bring the wine, commander." she chuckles with wicked bemusement. "I believe I am going to need it. Although I suppose I am going to need money for that. The world lives on it anyways."

Rena picks herself up, heading for the door. "..But that's a story for another day, yes? Good night commander." she lingers at the door for a moment looking at the candle on the desk still flickering in the darkness before she opens the door and slips outside.

This scene contained 20 poses. The players who were present were: Rena Laradyne, Leon