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No title.
(2014-03-11 - 2014-03-11)
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Leida Darkness.

An endless sea of shadow that lurks at the corner of the eye and in the back of the mind, a force both primal and chaotic that has drawn those who seek power to the precipice of doom since time immemorial. The souls of those once great heroes and saints who were swallowed by pride and misguided fervor rest eternally in the voids between worlds alongside the murderers and tyrants that lived only for themselves.

However, there are other things besides the foolish and the fallen that lurk in the blackness here. Things spawned from that very essence of deceit and power, things much older than most men would dare believe.

One such creature emerges from the inky stain of swirling darkness that comprises the walls of the Corridor. It is not a horrible thing to behold, as many might believe, not a eldritch creature of terror and nightmare like Garland. No, its form is far less honest about its true nature.

A small girl steps into the pathway before the hulking monstrosity of metal and living darkness. Unlike the shadowy child that the Ironclad Nightmare thrust into the chest of the foolish young man only moments ago, the girl seems completely aware of his presence. She stands to the side of the tunnel taking great care not to impede the path of the man, if he can be called that any more, who could easily destroy her should it suit his whim.

Dressed in a kimono of the finest silks and carrying a large ornate paper parasol at her shoulder, Leida gives a deep bow of respect to the knight as he draws near. Unlike Kaydin, she pointedly avoids his gaze, either out of respect or wisdom. Perhaps both.

"My Lord Garland," she says with a cheerful lilt to her soft voice that is matched by a pleasant smile on her youthful features. "It has been quite some time."
Garland Garland is such a creature. When another approaches, he is naturally aware of them, perhaps even before they are of him. It is hard to hide Darkness from Darkness - it calls to itself, like to like, casting ripples through a still pond. However...if there was any place where his awareness of such things was dimmed, it was the Corridors. It was hard to distinguish what was what, here. Darkness was all around them. It was like being blind, some days, despite his majestic power - at least for those who knew how to use them.

They might respond to Garland better. But he has never been one for stealth.

Garland stops in front of the small girl, his terrible red gaze sweeping down upon her. She is not entirely mortal, and thus she is not nearly so susceptible to the terrors of the Abyss under Garland's helmet. Extended eye contact may be...unpleasant...but it is, after all, not possible to drive an already mad person even madder. Only the mad are safe from insanity, Garland reflects ironically. Still, Leida averts his gaze, and that is likely wise. Few trifle with it. Few are so foolish.

"So it has," Garland reflects slowly, glacially. "Walk with me. It is rare that I have such lovely company in the Corridors."

There is no appreciation for her physical beauty. Garland does not appreciate beauty. The idea of beauty is as dead to him as the idea of love. At the best, it is some semblance of knightly manners. At the worst...well, it is mocking those very virtues he once held so dear. Who knows?

"To what do I owe your visit?"
Leida Despite being quite aware of the all-consuming wrath that could come down upon her should she waste such a mighty being's time, the little shadow puppet cannot help but give in to her nature. Flirting with destruction is, after all, part of the game.

"Are you so above the needs of men that you do not desire company from time to time?"

The girl chuckles quietly behind her coy smile while casting a sideways glance up at the much larger figure. She falls into step at his side as she speaks, resting her umbrella upon a shoulder so that it does not obstruct the space between them.

"Ah, but you have been busy this day already. You must forgive my bad manners. Old habits, you know."
Garland "Yes," Is all Garland says to the first question. It is simple, blunt, and direct, much like his combat style. He has not thought of companionship for millenia. Women hold no interest to the Conquering Chaos. Only power and the games that come with it, and the Great Game itself, have his attention. He cannot afford to be distracted by such things, and it is almost impossible to distract him even if one sought to do so. Once Garland desires something...well. "Do you think yourself capable of providing me with such companionship that I might change my mnd, then? Is that the nature of your visit? I cannot imagine so. You would find yourself most disappointed."

He casts a red glance at the umbrella, noting it carefully. He did not fear the girl. He did not fear *anything* but that purest, burning Light. Still, it was an old habit - always be aware of one's surroundings. Just because he was nigh-invulnerable was no reason to allow millenia of experience to slack.

"You are forgiven," Garland intones as the Corridors go still and silent around them. The chittering little yellow Heartless begin to spawn in their wake, scrabbling to tug at their master's cape. He allows his power to wander, to drift, unfocused for the moment. It is easier in the Corridor. It is...more natural.

"You will grow out of them."
Leida If the veiled threat behind that statement has any impact on the inferior creature at Garland's side, she does not show it in her disposition, though her expression does grow a little more somber for a few moments.

"Ofcourse, ofcourse. I meant no offense."

Leida's head turns slightly to peer at the skittering Heartless in the wake but other than that casual glance, she pays them no mind. Such creatures are no threat to her any more than they are to Garland and, even if they were, his presence is something far more worrisome.

"Well then, perhaps I shall come straight to the point. I come before you for two reasons, my lord. Firstly, I wish to express my /heartfelt/ gratitude for your assistance those many months ago." The girl's voice turns slightly melodramatic as she continues, her free hand clutching at her chest. "Again, I wish to apologize /deeply/, for I meant no disrespect by the performance I put on. I merely required a plausible excuse to facilitate the illusion that I wished to create and I could not bear the risk of... hmm, wandering eyes or ears, shall we say? No, I needed them to believe - and you delivered /grandly/."
Garland "You do not need to apologize," Garland rebukes her with all the speed of a glacier, "If you intend to offend me, I will assume you intend to do so. You may speak your mind freely. We are all of the Shadows here, and I am not one to waste such valuable resources unless given exceptionally good reason. I do not expect you will give me such."

It's...gentle, for Garland. Maybe he feels some vague kinship? If Garland is even capable of such emotions towards people who are not Hades and Maleficent?

Who knows what goes on in that helmet?

"Nor need you thank me for my assistance. I do what I do for the sake of the Darkness, that I might once again achieve my goals. You have served me well. That is thanks enough."

Garland tilts his head at her. "Yes. You are a competent spy. I imagine some who draw breath find you very attractive, which makes them loathe to distrust you. Appearances are the most deceiving of all tools in the arsenal of the shadows."

They continue to walk. Once they pass out of a certain range - impossible to tell, since Distance means nothing in the Corridors - the shadows begin to roil again, untamed and wild as is their wont to do.

"And you are clearly an expert at such performances."
Leida Leida practically radiates her content at the compliments, a strange counterpart to the implacable metal mask that hides the Nightmare's visage. Ofcourse, this could all be part of an act too. How much of the creature that walks here is the girl and how much the monster?

"You are too kind, my lord. Though I find it was pity more than lust that drove doubt into the hands of the men who would have slain me in my weakness. The desire to save and to protect... and the illusion that there was anything to save... they set the stage for my grand performance."

The girl pauses for a moment to make a flourish with her hand. "However, the transition from what I once was to what I am now was... unexpected. I needed a mask to hide behind. This proved a... suitable a choice," she says with a smirk.

"The time for me to cast aside this mask draws near, however. Which brings me to the second reason for my visit." Leida takes in a soft breath, choosing her words as wisely as she can for such a capricious creature.

"There is one who lived within the realms of man in the world from whence I came. With his lust for power and the desire to rule over all, he raged forth from his castle to lay low all who would oppose him. A man in form but a demon in heart; much as myself, you could say. But this was no coincidence for this man was... my brother."
Garland Ah, here it was. The business. Garland much preferred the Business to the Flowers. Flowers wilted, died, and bred out of existence, or mingled and transformed. A field of flowers was transient. But business was always the same - a transaction between two parties desiring something the other possesses. Simple. Infinite. In a way, war was like business, too, Garland muses silently as he listens to Leida. It is merely a transaction. The price is merely human lives.

No wonder his new apprentice was so well-suited for it, he decides.

"I see," Garland observes slowly, his voice ringing out from within his silent helmet, "Continue your tale. You have intrigued me, if nothing else."
Leida Leida turns to look up at Garland properly for the first time. The emotion in her voice is very real, an all consuming desire evident bleeding from her like the shadows at her feet.

"My lord Garland, my desire is very simple. I wish to see my brother again. I want to watch as his armies sweep the world in a tide of darkness and blood. I want to sit at his court and watch as he crushes the wills of those who would oppose him upon a throne of skulls."

Her expression grows darker with each word as the madness hiding behind her innocent face bubbles to the surface for a few fleeting moments. "I want to see the world dragged screaming and weeping into the depths of Hell once more."

And then the moment is gone, her sultry smile fluttering back into place as if it were never gone. "Unfortunately, my dear brother lies beyond my reach, trapped by the tides of darkness. I called to him, even as our world was consumed in fire and shadow, but the Heartless devoured him along with everything else. I lack the strength to find him and, more importantly, I lack the power to free him."
Garland Garland considers this for a very long moment as Leida begins to talk. He listens to her describe her desire, her brother, and everything else. He considers this for what must seem like an eternity - especially here, in a place without the light of the Stars to guide one's sense of time. He simply sits, thoughtful, turning the idea over in his mind as he watches the girl's mask slip further and further.

Finally, Garland comes to a decision.

"I refuse," Garland tells her flatly, his voice cold and distant.

"Make no mistake. Your brother might be a useful distraction. He might be an effective tool. He might even be capable of sinking the worlds into shadow, though I highly doubt that someone who was consumed by Heartless could succeed where Maleficent and I have failed. I have no desire to hold back your wish, and indeed, you have earned a reward for your service. I do not deny you out of a desire to see you stymied."

Garland's eyes flare with light. "But you lack control. You lack discipline. With every word, your fragile mask cracks a bit more. As it stands, you are little more than a wild, flailing shadow in the form of a girl. You must learn to temper your emotions."

"Once you have honed yourself, have control over yourself, I will grant you your request, or at least make it possible through the tools I have available to me. For now, however, you endanger yourself and all you have worked for."

Garland settles his hand on Leida's shoulder. "Your contributions to the Shadows have not gone ignored, Child. Rest assured. You need merely tame your wild impulses."
Leida Those two words drop like anvils upon the small demon's hopes. She always knew in seething darkness of her shrewd mind that it was a possibility for Garland to refuse, but hearing the words spoke aloud are like the banging of a judge's gavel.

The look on Leida's face is one of panic, frustration, and horror for the few fractions of a second before the towering nightmare before her speaks again, almost as if he expected her reaction to be such. She listens with rapt attention, hanging on every word as if he might have some hint of new hope to grant her with his explanation. She stares into the depthless chasms of his eyes, her own glossy pupils acting as mirrors to the boiling madness within.

It is the hand on her shoulder that finally snaps the shadow back into the present. She inhales sharply as if startled but merely lowers her head and nods once in reply.

"I... well," she says after a few long moments. Leida lifts her head again and once more the mask is in place, a faint but playful smile painted back onto her features. "It would be a lie to say that I am not disappointed, but I will respect my lord's wishes in this matter. If there is anything that I can do to be of assistance in the interim it would be my greatest pleasure to serve."

She bows to him again, managing to make the simple gesture into an elaborate drawn out affair the way only a practiced showman can.
Garland "I understand your disappointment. But all good things come in time, child. All good things must be awaited with patience, and patience requires great discipline. It is not easy. It is never easy." Garland stares down at her, and for just an instant, if she's paying *very* rapt attention, she might notice that Garland is not quite he ever appears. Inside his helmet, the shadows roil more violently than even the Corridor. He may have stilled the whole of the Corridor with his presence, but Garland cannot still the fire raging in his soul.

"I assure you that your time *will* come. You have the word of Garland on that. Your desire has been heard." He lowers his head as she leaves. "You may do as you will, child. I grant you that freedom, that you may learn greater ones in time."
Leida "As you wish... my lord Garland."

The girl sinks into the walls of the corridor once more, as if the darkness were absorbing a piece of itself back into the fold. There is no flashy tearing of space and time as she vanishes into the void, merely a flutter of shadow and then nothingness.

This scene contained 13 poses. The players who were present were: Garland, Leida