[Prelude] Death on Holiday

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Mr. Blackbird Lore
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[Prelude] Death on Holiday

Post by Mr. Blackbird Lore » Fri Mar 04, 2011 4:06 am

I need a vacation. We've all thought it at one point or another. Whether or not we were deserving is another matter entirely, but if anyone ever deserved a vacation it was this grim and brooding woman. Some people were workaholics, spending all their free hours making their way up a corporate ladder or some such advancement. For this femme fatale a lifelong (see: ETERNITY) workload had been hefted upon her shoulders practically at birth. It was a business that was kept in the family, and could only be managed by members of the family even if someone else wanted in- which was never the case.

At the moment thoughts of a brief respite crossed her mind, she sat in a large throne constructed of bones. Before you think too much of it, it wasn't her idea- some arrogant jerk that had come before her some two or three hundred years ago thought it would add to the "atmosphere," and this moody lady wasn't one to care much about anything one way or another. She wasn't exactly sitting, either. Her legs curled over one armrest and her back was slumped against the other- and both armrests were constructed from intertwined forearm bones, humorously enough.

The chamber which housed this throne of death was vast and arched and also held a skeletal appearance, like the ribcage of a giant. The columns that rose periodically to uphold the stone weight looked the part of strained and stretching tendons. All of this was a dim gray-yellow hue along the struts, and everything in-between tended toward a dark-red that was almost black in its deepest recesses.The lighting was dim, mostly because she preferred it that way, but partly because being able to see this room fully lit up reminded her how much she disliked the architecture. Again, it was something she could easily change in a day, but she didn't bother herself with such a thing.

Her head was lazily laid back over the throne's curvature, eyes raised upward on the slip of paper which was gripped in one hand. Her free hand hung limply over the chair. She was the epitome of boredom. Clearly distressed with this state of being, she heaved a sigh and swung her legs to the floor so that she might rise to her feet. The paper in her hand was released and disappeared in a plume of black fire. Yes, black fire.

She was nothing like what one would expect or imagine the Grim Reaper to look. Sure, her flowing hair (it fell a couple inches past her shoulders) was midnight incarnate, her eyes were simmering coals, and she had an eternally stern (and bored) expression, but that was about as far as it went. Her knee-high black boots had modest inch-and-a-half heels, and a single silver buckle on the outside of either leg. White leggings covered everything (a measly 3 inches) that were not already hidden by the boots or black skirt. This latter item was adorned with a silver chain belt which served as a place to hang any valuables she carried while away from home. That, as you can imagine, was a rarity. A dressy black long-sleeve was covered by a white corset stylized with black trimming. The corset was honestly unnecessary and existed more in name than purpose as this was a woman that could have any body that she wanted (something she regularly noted as ironic). A silk black choker held a lone pearl to her neck, and a slim white tie settled between her breasts. It was worn only to irritate those she worked with; a slap in the face to every cohort and underling and arrogant prick that went about their business with an officious aura and stick up their ass. It said, "I would play your game, but I've already won."

In the time it had taken this Grim Reaper to rise from the throne, she had decided she would take her vacation and she would take it now. Forget everyone and everything else, she needed a solid twenty-four hours to herself; The living still measure by twenty-four hours, right? She shrugged, deciding it didn't really matter. It would be a full day, in any case. She stepped onto the seat of the throne with one foot and pulled her Death Cloak down from the bone-chair's high back. With a single flourish of her right arm she'd wrapped it about herself. Enrobed as such she was much easier to recognize as a harbinger of death (which is actually a fallacy... sort of). The cloak wrapped about her shoulders in several layers, a hood overshadowed her solemn features, and the ragged hem flowed all around her form in mostly unpredictable patterns, and flapped in an exaggerated fashion when she walked as though she were always striding through a hurricane. Beyond the heavy, arched, and heavily inscribed oak doors was the Great chasm. A mere twenty feet from the door was a ledge overlooking a great number of souls huddled in confusion and awaiting their judgment. The term souls is used literally in this case, they all being orbs of varying colors and shades. She took a brief glance down before looking up- today, down had no interest to her. Her desires and yearnings were beyond that seemingly infinite ceiling. No, no time to dally. She shook her head to clear it and strode to her right, toward her own personal Soul Gate.

Before, she strode through, however, there were some menial things to address. She knew before he had arrived that a satyr stood to her left, looking almost half as solemn as she. In comparison, he almost seemed happy, but the Reaper knew he was not- and she quite liked it that way. He was a lustful and licentious creature, but he was forbidden to speak to anyone but she. In this way he was doomed forever to be denied all his pleasure-seeking and frolicking. The satyr- Smith she had nominated him, offering the most generic namesake she knew- was aware of why she'd chosen him to be her aide, and despised her for it, but had neither the strength nor courage to do anything about it.

Absentmindedly Smith groped at the air in front of him and surrounding his hands began to pulse a black-purple orb- a summoning hole. From it he drew the Reaper's scythe. Well, he started to until she raised a hand to dismiss even the thought. Now Smith was befuddled. The Grim Reaper always took her Soul Scythe with her when she left the Underworld. "My apologies, Milady Reaper." He tucked it away and the summoning hole closed up. "Will you be departing for business or pleasure, then?" Naturally he assumed it was business, and so his shock was only worsened when the answer was, "Pleasure."

"I... Very well. Where shall you be going and for what duration will be your absence?" This was so odd, the words were hardly even registering in satyr's mind.

"I'm not sure... Where did your folken call home in yore days?" The pun did not slip past Smith's sharp mind, and he couldn't repress cocking a strange smile. It was carried by one who was pleasantly surprised.

"Italy. Why?"

"I'm going to Italy. Any suggestions?"

It was only getting stranger! She had asked him a question of opinion for the first time in... well, ever! "I, um... Well, they say Corsica is pleasant."

She almost winced at that. "Napoleon was such a dreadful creature. I'd rather not spend a vacation with his filthy visage filling my mind."

Again, he gave a pleasantly surprised smile. "Ah, well, Rome is nice."

She shook her head and finally turned to face the satyr- again, not a common occurrence. The Reaper even held his gaze. "No beaches there, though."

"You'd be correct. Ah... Venice. Venice is quite a splendid place. A beach, the canals, and quite the carting of history and art."

The Reaper's firmly set thin lips did not curve into a smile- it's likely that was impossible- but they seemed to soften from their rigid blankness in such a fashion that one would be willing to call the expression by such a name. "Quite. Venice, Italy, then, and for a day."

"Twenty-fours, then?" He had to verify for record keeping.

So I was right: still twenty-four hours. "Yes."

"Enjoy your trip then, Milady Reaper." Smith the satyr found himself saying those words genuinely. Her brighter mood was strangely infectious.

"I will, Smith. You ought to do likewise sometime."

Now Smith knitted his brows inquisitively. "Excuse me? I... You've granted me no such time... e-... ever."

That seemed to strike her as strange, even though she knew it full well. "Why Smith, I sure have. Just this moment, as a matter of fact. Twenty-four hours wherever you please."

The satyr was smiling and bowed as he backed away to go make plans. "I'll see you in a day then, Milady Reaper."

The door groaned as it opened. It did so as soon as the Grim Reaper thought of passing through and from it poured a great light. Her destination was experiencing a wonderfully sunny day. For a brief moment she remarked mentally that it was quite the stroke of luck as she hadn't even consulted a calendar in her planning. "A day, Smith," was her simple response. Then she stepped through the Soul Gate without looking back. The door would shut behind her and not leave a sign that it had ever existed. By the time the room had darkened, Smith was long gone.

On the beach of Venice, Italy stood a very different woman than had only seconds earlier stood in a dim and corporate-esque dungeon of a room. Unremarkable sunglasses shielded her silently simmering orbs. A black transparent gown covered a black bikini top and shorts. Her feet were bare, and though she wasn't smiling in the traditional sense, this Grim Reaper was quite happy and her lips curved a single iota upward. The birds called for play, the water begged for her companionship, and the sand tantalized the soles of her feet so as to keep her from ever leaving that spot. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Hm. This isn't so bad," she muttered to herself.

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Mr. Blackbird Lore
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Re: [Prelude] Death on Holiday

Post by Mr. Blackbird Lore » Mon Apr 04, 2011 6:21 pm

It is impossible to stress just how strongly Lady Death was impacted by the change of environment. She had seen practically every nook and cranny of the Earth through the memory-eyes of many dead, but to thrust herself into this world was something altogether different. Knowledge and experience, she proved, were two vastly different things when it came to living (if you couldn't guess). For an unknown time she simply stood where and as she was, taking everything in. There was no obsidian ceiling to shut out celestial bodies above, no stalactites clawing at the hard-packed stone she tread every day. The dead did not bore her to stupefaction with their confusion, ignorance, disbelief, and all those other emotional responses that were so common when one met Death. There were no souls huddled in confusion, no gods passing judgment, and no minions shuffling along, brushing about her ankles and knees like a river stream mottled black, brown, gray, and every shade in between.

Not a trace of the Underworld was here. There was a clear blue sky, a bright and lovingly warm sun, and the ever-flowing sea. In short, there was
life. Living things going about their daily routines- people, gulls, crabs, and countless others. She could feel them all, and it sent a tingle down her spine. It was a strange sensation, leading to an even more unusual shiver. Dead energy, the power of the Necromancers, was a thrumming purring thing, something that reverberated gently, like small ripples upon water in a wooden box. This living energy on the other hand was a bouncing and vibrant thing, constantly flowing to and fro- much like the waves, she realized. It only took another moment or two for her to realize how everything synced up, how the world was simply comprised of microcosms and macrocosms, all perfect reflections of the same cyclical system. The revelation made the edge of her mouth twitch upward in the slightest for a moment.

She could only imagine it being a wonderful place to live, but it was all the more fantastic by the limitation of time. Something this fleeting became unique and desirable. Yet humans had all their lives and they still chose to squander it so pitifully. Well, not all, but a great deal of them. It was a shame, but it held no bearing on her vacation Lady Death reminded herself. This was to be a time to relax. As if in agreement, the breeze kicked up and tugged gently at her gown and hair. If it was trying to coax her into action, it had succeeded. The Grim Reaper began a casual stride along the foreshore where the water could play against her feet. The sand was a pleasant texture beneath her plodding soles. When the water first rushed up the sands and smothered her feet, Death paused and gripped the hem of her top with both hands. The surge had sent another thrill throughout her body, and the receding waters did so slowly as if tempting her to join them.

These reminiscences were interrupted by the satyr known as Smith- Lady Death's personal assistant in all matters of the Underworld. He lacked any involvement with her actual job of collecting and sorting souls, and knew no more than any other being of the Underworld. The satyr had quickly learned questions weren't worth the answers earned, so when he entered what he dubbed "Death's Throne Room," he skipped any pretense of courtesy and got straight to business- the Grim Reaper much preferred things that way.

"Fate made a summon for you."

"Why?" Lady Death stared down from her throne of bones, slumped against one arm at an unusual angle. All but her head and arms were smothered in that cloak which trailed off to the whimsies of a wind that did not exist. Her cheek was laid against her left fist, and that age-old look of boredom had been quick to return.

"Something pertaining to your vacation. She wouldn't say more."

"Fine. I'll see her soon." The satyr retreated from the room to leave his master brooding. Lady Death already knew what this was about, and didn't much care for the sorts of things she imagined Fate had to say.

Ever an isolated individual, Lady Death had pursued solitary activities: swimming the ocean blue and napping beneath the sun's warm rays to name a couple. She had caught the eye of one local, however. His name was Salvatore Giordano, a 27-year old man that made up for his lack of a chiseled body with unparalleled wit and charm. With it he was able to coax discussion out of an otherwise unconversational Grim Reaper over a pair of gelato Italiano- his creme caramel, hers chocolate. Until that day, Lady Death had never so much as considered eating food of any sort; it was frivolous, it was unnecessary, it was unimportant. With her first spoonful she began to question all those decisions she had made.

Salvatore spoke first as they dug into the afternoon snacks. "So, you've yet to surrender your name."

The response was delayed by an influx of new sensations which she took a few seconds to contemplate and understand. "If it's surrender you seek, you'll find only disappointment; I don't fly the white flag. Ever." She didn't look at him, too focused on the dairy delicacy that was the older brother of American ice cream.

With a smile, the Italian retorted, "Then I suppose I will have to use force. I warn you that I'm as sharp-tongued as they come; even the serpent would be hard-pressed to best my wordplay."

"Aggression will only garner rebukes. Diplomacy, sir, is far more efficient- even moreso with the fairer folk." This time Lady Death did pass Salvatore a glance just to see how he took that blow- the full effect of which he would never understand: a woman who had spent less than a day among the living was telling a man of almost three decades how best to woo the womenfolk.

He was clearly undeterred. "Then please,
Signora di Nero, I humbly request you enlighten me; share your name, that I might be able to properly address my equal!" His sarcasm was unmistakable, but his plea was honest.

"My name is Grath Nevanda."

The Italian paused, both surprised and pensive. "It's a very unique name," he said at last.

"My father was a very unique man," was all Grath Nevanda had to say in return.

"I see you carry on the tradition formidably." Salvatore smirked.

Grath Nevanda could see then what led so many women to share a night with this man: he was all compliments, smiles, and fun. Though she was immune to all three, Lady Death still wished to know more, wanted to delve beneath this thin layer on top and into what really made Salvatore Giordano tick. She wouldn't search his soul- no, she had decided that if she was going to be among the living today, she would do her best to be just like them: she would claim her answer from his words and actions.

The walk to Fate's chambers was a brief one. A checkered marble hallway ended in a pair of simple and inelegant oak doors only six and a half feet in height. Like Lady Death, Fate had chosen to ignore the architecture of her predecessor for the most part. The hallway had been designed by the previous weaver of destinies, but Fate could not stand to live and work in the extravagant, bright, and gaudy environment that formerly were her chambers. As Grath stepped in through those doors the difference was apparent. The lights were dim and cast an orange glow over everything. The walls were a simple orange simply adding to the effect of the lighting. The floor was thinly carpeted and the carpet itself was detailed with an image of the Earth. Its landmasses teemed with thousands of bodies, like waves of flesh flooding the world. The whole spectrum of human emotion was displayed. Love and hate, of course, but also surprise, humiliation, humility, pride, indignation, confusion, embarrassment- even apathy and the dead spirit of the sociopath.

On the far wall was a great loom- THE Loom. Threads seemed to creep down the wall from nowhere to be woven into a fabric that spanned six feet of the wall's seven-foot length. The completed pattern dropped to the floor and followed the wall to the right. it encircled the room, passing over the door where it was slowly being spooled. The entire left wall of the room was a series of racks that held full spools, and not a single speck of the orange wall behind was visible. Half of the wall that was the entryway was also racked, Death noted as she looked above herself.

"Who is it?" The question came from a woman sitting hunched before the Loom, running the shuttlecock with the speed and precision few professionals could match. Her dark brown hair was a mess, many strands falling free of the ponytail she'd hastily tied up. Her form was thin and Lady Death could tell even from behind that she was gaunt and pale. Fate wore a simple black dress that clung to her upper body and moved freely from the waist down; it was devoid of frills, embroidery, or any other form of decoration.

"Death." Grath had desired to shout, "You ought to know- after all, you're the Lady of the Loom," but refrained. She knew how weary Fate was, how sporadic her memory could be, and how truly kind and considerate the woman was- she was a Saint by anyone's standards.

Fate let go of the Loom and turned to face Death. Grath's suppositions were proven to be accurate; the Weaver of Fate's face was drawn, her dull brown eyes somber and dreary. Her hair was wispy, and now it was evident that more than a few locks were gray. "I'm not happy about your vacation." There was no change in her expression to indicate this, however.

"What of it?"

"You know that Immortals have no power with each other." She sounded like she was reminding a high-school student of the Pythagorean theorem.

"Perhaps you could be a bit more direct."

"Your social visit has created a number of... complications."

Grath already knew where this was going, but wanted to hear Fate say it. "Such as...?"

"Don't play stupid with me." She pointed to Lady Death's stomach. "You can see the beginnings of a soul as clearly as I can."

Despite all the claims she had made to herself, Grath Nevanda found herself attracted to the Italian. In the spirit of this new found exploration, she had told herself, why not accept it? She had less than half the day remaining, and they were burning daylight just sitting around talking. Lady Death even went so far as to instigate their first kiss, which of course was clumsy and hastened by her shyness concerning intimacy. (After all, no one had ever loved Lady Death; no one had ever taught her the intricacies of romance.) There on the beach, the sun still barely peeping over the horizon, Salvatore gave Grath her first lesson on kissing. It was patient and gentle and focused, a dire contrast to the Grim Reaper's first attempt.

She learned much more in the following hours, and Salvatore was a great teacher who never questioned why she was so ignorant of this topic. Grath was educated on embracing, sensitivity, timing, and all those other things Hollywood would have taught her if she were a normal American girl rather than the keeper of the dead.

As the night chill began to creep up on them, Salvatore recommended they relocate to his home, and Grath did not protest. It was a small but comfortable place, although the details were easily lost in their heated exchanges. In short time they were both free of their clothes and entangled in each other. Grath Nevanda's final lesson of the evening was all about humanity's deepest passions.

Sunrise awoke Lady Death who found herself curled up against Salvatore Giordano's side. She experienced a sense of relaxation that had never existed before, and perhaps a tinge of lethargy- she had no desire to slip away from the Italian's warmth. Despite her inclination, she rose from bed after planting a light kiss on Salvatore's cheek. Grath didn't know why she was compelled to do so, but saw no reason to deny it. She gathered her things, but made no attempts to dress, instead covering herself with that timeless midnight cloak which she summoned with a flourish of one arm. With a second swish of her arm, she summoned a small letter, already enveloped, in a burst of black fire. She laid it upon the lonely pillow before whispering her goodbye and giving one final goodbye kiss.

The door to the Underworld opened with its signature groan and Lady Death marched through without glancing back, an unusual mixture of emotions swirling in her mind. The doors swung shut of their own accord, booming as they sealed the threshold. As punctual as ever, the satyr Smith was there as well, clearly awaiting her arrival.

"How was your trip, milady?"

She couldn't seem to find the right words. "Well."

Lady Death nodded. "Yes I can."

"And you think this is okay? That no one will mind?"

"Why should anyone care how I spend my time provided my job is well done?" Grath folded her arms over her chest.

"Lady Death, this is a child! A living person! Or at the very least on its way. Yet it's yours. Do you not see how that complicates things?"

"Make them simple, then."

Fate sighed and tried again, her voice sounding even weaker. "Lady Death, that's not how this goes, and you know it." She rubbed her forehead.

"She will be the child of an Immortal, so treat her like an Immortal."

"So you're intent on keeping i-... her...? How can you tell?" Her gaze became fixed on Grath's belly, though she seemed to be staring straight through.

"Yes, I am, and yes, it's a she. Even now, I can see so much of her." The Grim Reaper's eyes dropped to her own stomach and her hands came to rest there. Her eyes rose to meet Fate's. "And neither you nor any of the Immortals can convince me otherwise, so don't waste your breath."

Fate smiled weakly, wanly. "Very well. She will be an Immortal, then. Have you decided a name?"

Grath offered a mild half-smile in return. "Yes. Emilia. Emilia Venezia."

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