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My name is Sarah
I am but three,
my eyes are swollen
I cannot see.

I must be stupid,
I must be bad,
what else could have made
my daddy so mad?

I wish I were better,
I wish I weren't ugly,
then maybe my Mommy
would still want to hug me.

I can't speak at all,
I can't do a wrong
or else I'm locked up
all the day long.

When I awake I'm all alone
the house is dark
my folks aren't home.

When my Mommy does come
I'll try and be nice,
so maybe I'll get just
one whipping tonight.

Don't make a sound!
I just heard a car
my daddy is back
from Charlie's Bar.

I hear him curse
my name he calls
I press myself
against the wall.

I try and hide
from his evil eyes
I'm so afraid now
I'm starting to cry.

He finds me weeping
he shouts ugly words,
he says its my fault
that he suffers at work.

He slaps me and hits me
and yells at me more,
I finally get free
and I run for the door.

He's already locked it
and I start to bawl,
he takes me and throws me
against the hard wall.

I fall to the floor
with my bones nearly broken,
and my daddy continues
with more bad words spoken.

'I'm sorry!' I scream
but its now much too late
his face has been twisted
into unimaginable hate.

The hurt and the pain
again and again
oh please God, have mercy!
oh please let it end!

And he finally stops
and heads for the door,
while I lay there motionless
sprawled on the floor.

My name is Sarah
and I am but three,
tonight my daddy
murdered me.

(Courtesy from Blue Ribbon Against Child Abuse)


CONFUCIUS’ WORDS

If there be righteousness in the heart,
There will be beauty in the character.
If there is beauty in the character,
There will be harmony in the home.
If there is harmony in the home,
There will be order in the nation.
If there is order in each nation,
There will be peace in the world.


PRAYERS TO THE LORD

The Lord is my pilot
I shall not drift.
He lighteth me across dark waters,
He steereth in deep channels;
He keepeth my log;
He guideth me by the star of holiness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I sail amid the thunders and tempest of life
I shall dread no danger, for thou art with me,
Thy love and thy care they shelter me.
Thou preparest a harbour before me in the homeland of eternity.
Thou anoinest the waves with oil, my ship rideth calmly.
Surely sunlight and starlight shall favour me on the voyage I take;
And I will rest in the port of my God forever.


ENIGMA

The beginning of Eternity
The end of time and space
The beginning of every end
And the end of every place


COUPLETS

For sapphires we are held in here,
Only you can end our fear.

Until dawn comes we cannot speak,
No words can come from this sad beak.

The first thing you read contains the clue:
An initial way to speak to you.

Inside these letters, the eye will see
Nearby are your friends, and V.F.D.


FRIENDSHIP POEM

If a kiss was a raindrop
I send you showers,

If a hug was a second
I send you hours,

If smiles were water
I send you the sea,

And if love is a person
I send you ME!


A RED, RED ROSE

My love is like a red, red rose
That’s newly growing in June;
My love is like the melody
That’s sweetly played in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in love am I;
And I will love thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry.

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun;
And I will love thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only love,
And fare thee weel a while!
And I will come again, my love,
Thou it were ten thousand mile.


Ku sangkakan
Kita akan bahagia
Selama-lamanya
Ku sangkakan
Apa yang telah ku buat
Dapat berjalan dengan lancarnya

Tetapi
Tak ku sangkakan
Rupanya dirimu sudah dimiliki
Rupanya dalam hatimu bukannya aku sendiri
Ah!
Tak ku sangkakan
Selama ini
Kamu membohongi diriku!

Alangkah sedihnya
Alangkah lukanya
Bahkan panah menghancurkan jantungku
Darahnya menitis seperti hujan
Yang membanjiri rohku

Namun
Segalanya dah terlewat
Ku hanya terdaya
Mengucapkan
Semoga dirimu bahagia selamanya…


Sahabatku
Seperti kakakku sendiri
Yang menjadi pendorongku
Yang tidak pernah jemu
Untuk mengharungi cabaran hidupku

Sahabatku
Kaulah tulang belakangku
Apabila ku tak dapat bangun
Dari kesilapanku
Kaulah semangatku
Apabila ku rasa buntu

Sahabatku
Senyumanmu dan air matamu
Telah ku lihat dan capai
Suka dan dukamu
Telah pun ku rasai
Tapi kenapa?
Kenapa tidak diizinkan
Kita bersama-sama
Ketika ini
Ketika itu
Ketika untuk selama-lamanya

Sahabatku
Akanku hargai sumbanganmu
Akanku terima
Untuk selama-lamanya…


Hidupku
Seperti anak kehilangan ibu
Seperti anak termasuk jalan buntu
Bahkan bumi yang tidak berpenghuni
Betapa seksa diriku ini

Selama ini
Tiada sesiapa pun memahamiku
Tiada sesiapa pun yang memperdulikanku
Ah! Bencinya
Hatiku tak puas!
Hatiku tak bebas!
Hatiku cuma selama ini dibalut
Penderitaan

Tolonglah, bantulah
Berikanlah aku secebis kasih saying
Berikanlah aku kegembiraan
Berikanlah aku keindahan
Belaian kasih

Agar
Redalah api kesunyian
Yang membara di dalam hidupku
Agar aku dapat hidup dalam kedamaian


Today I will delete from my diary two days: yesterday and tomorrow


Yesterday was to learn and tomorrow will be the consequence of what I can do today.


Today I will face life with the conviction that this day will not ever return.


Today is the last opportunity I have to live intensely, as no one can assure me that I will see tomorrow's sunrise.


Today I will be brave enough not to let any opportunity pass me by, my only alternative is to succeed.


Today I will invest my most valuable resource: my time, in the most transcendental work: my life; I will spend each minute passionately to make of today a different and unique day in my life.


Today I will defy every obstacle that appears on my way trusting I will succeed.


Today I will resist pessimism and will conquer the world with a smile, with the positive attitude of expecting always the best.


Today I will make of every ordinary task a sublime expression,


Today I will have my feet on the ground understanding reality and the stars' gaze to invent my future.


Today I will take the time to be happy and will leave my footprints and my presence in the hearts of others.


Today, I invite you to begin a new season where we can dream that everything we undertake is possible and we fulfill it, with joy and dignity.



All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in is time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with
His satchel, and shining morning face
Creeping like snail unwillingly to school.
And then the lover sighing
Like fumace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow.
Then the soldier, full of strange oaths,
and bearded like a pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and
quick in quarrel. Seeking the
bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth.
And then the justice, in fair round belly
with good capon lin’d, with eyes severe,
and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part,
The sixth age
Shifts into the lean and slipper’d
pantaloon, with spectacles on
nose and pouch on side,
His youthful
hose well sav’d, a world too wide For his
shrunk shank; and his manly voice
Turning again towards childish treble, pipes & whistles in his sound.
Last scene of all
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.


It alighted gentle as a butterfly
Onto the tip of my life
A possibility of something
A promise, a lighthouse
A button, a bow
A hello and a goodbye
A glimpse, a trickle
A safety pin, a prick of conscience
A reminder, a forget-me-not
A touch, a scent
A tap, steel, numbered
On my shoes that ricocheted

Down the hallway
It fluttered
Looking for me
To hide it
I couldn’t though
And it was found
By someone else
That’s the thing about hide and seek…

You say not yet but still there is someone who
Finds your hiding place
Whatever it was
It changed me
Thank you, thank you
Thank you

You hugged me from within
And now I am different
Whether it makes sense or not
I know it will one day

Off you fly…
I am flying too
I’ll see you when you get there


Day is a chore.
That is something both you and i know.
A strain, yet a must,
dragging you down?
Me also
For daytime is dull.
daytime blocks the imagination.
But nighttime is clear, transparent and black
Like a window image that goes on forever
forever
and
ever.

For one night when my mind wandered in the other realm,
the one of a certain miss Rowling,
where I could smell the dew on the stony walls
and taste the musky air of the dark hallway.

I could hear a heart beat, I could feel a stinging warmth inside me
I ran higher and higher, through the ceilings and through walls
searching, knowing what would be at the end.

I find myself in the fake outside, printed and plain, imaged only with my brain,
There you stood, your long cloak flapping in the wind that i could not feel
and your eyes closed against the cold harsh rain that i could not hear.
I could only see you. You look at me, expressionless
all except for one
single tear.

You are dark,
you are pained
you are different.
you are not trusted

but I trust you.

To everyone you are fake.

But not to me

not to me...

...Severus...


You are real.

(Courtesy from Snapesnogger)


I know a funny little man,
As quiet as a mouse.
He does the mischief that is done
In everybody’s house.
Though no one ever sees his face,
Yet one and all agree
That every plate we break was cracked
By Mr. Nobody

‘Tis he who always tears our books,
Who leaves the door ajar.
He picks the buttons from our shirts,
And scatters pins from afar.
That squeaking door will always squeak,
For, Prithee, don’t you see?
We leave the oiling to be done
By Mr. Nobody.

He puts damp wood upon the fire,
That kettles will not boil;
His are the feet that bring in the mud
And all the carpets soil.
The papers that so often are lost-
Who had them last but he?
There’s no one tossing them about
But Mr. Nobody.

The fingermarks upon the door
By none of us were made.
We never leave the blinds unclosed
To let the curtains fade.
The ink we never spill! The boots
That lying around you see
Are not our boots - they all belong
To Mr. Nobody


After a while you learn the difference
Between holding a hand
And chaining a soul

You learn that love isn’t leaning
But lending support
You begin to accept your defeats
With the grace of an adult
Not the grief of a child

You decide to build your roads today
For tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain
You help someone plant a garden
Instead of waiting for someone
To bring you flowers

You learn that God has given you
The strength to endure
And that you really do have worth


143 - I Love You

Love is...a cure
Love is...to lose yourself
Love is...patience
Love is...1437 (I Love You Forever)
Love is...greed
Love is...the most beautiful
Love changes your attitude
Love is...Ai Shi Teru
Love is...to lose your way
Love is...a need for space
Love is...an illusion
Love is...accordance with the seasons
Love needs love

Colours

To the one I love
Ever since I've known you till today, there are so many words I want to say to you
Yet...I couldn't find a place to start
My feelings...would hopefully reach to you...
Through the blowing of the wind...

Your soul is always uncertain:
Sometimes bright and soft...sometimes disturbing and sad
Until everything returns to the beginning in the end
Every single one of your expression, makes me fall deeper in love with you...

You often watch the sky
As if thinking about something...
Leaving me so far behind
I never once understood your feelings...

I always make guesses about your heart to know
Do you love me more today than yesterday?

At the moment when I thought about me being incompatible to you
You appear and say that you love me...

Yet when I wanted to hold your heart
You would keep it deep inside and move away...

Why is it that you come to rescue me
Whenever I'm in danger yet not admit it when I ask about it?

You made yourself the only need for me
When you're not by my side, what is the meaning of me?

As I fall in love with you, I became a coward...
As I fall in love with you, I became me...

Why is it that when you're gone, then I realize
That I actually am in love with you?

You made me love you entirely,
Including myself...

Even though we often fight,
Yet this is the only connection factor between us...

Humans usually do things that never coincide with their own hopes...
Yet why do I not want to accept this fact when I'm filled with sadness?

To love and be loved;
Could it be that both have the same burden of suffering?
Only you are the one that still suffers for me who had already been shrouded by happiness...

I hope that you are
At some corner of the world...
Receiving my feelings that are drifting in the sky...

I Love You Forever...
From me who loves you...

(Translated from her original Malay poems)


A drunk man in an Oldsmobile

They said had run the light

That caused the six-car pileup

On 109 that night.


When broken bodies lay about

And blood was everywhere,

sirens screamed out eulogies,

For death was in the air.


A mother, trapped inside her car,

Was heard above the noise;

Her plaintive plea near split the air:

Oh, God, please spare my boys!"


She fought to loose her pinned hands;

She struggled to get free,

But mangled metal held her fast

In grim captivity.


Her frightened eyes then focused

On where the back seat once had been,

But all she saw was broken glass and

Two children's seats crushed in.


Her twins were nowhere to be seen;

She did not hear them cry,

And then she prayed they'd been thrown free,

Oh, God, don't let them die!"


Then firemen came and cut her loose,

But when they searched the back,

They found therein no little boys,

But the seat belts were intact.


They thought the woman had gone mad

And was travelling alone,

But when they turned to question her,

They discovered she was gone.


Policemen saw her running wild

And screaming above the noise

In beseeching supplication,

Please help me find my boys!


They're four years old and wear blue shirts;

Their jeans are blue to match."

One cop spoke up, "They're in my car,

And they don't have a scratch.


They said their daddy put them there

And gave them each a cone,

Then told them both to wait for Mom

To come and take them home.


I've searched the area high and low,

But I can't find their dad.

He must have fled the scene,

I guess, and that is very bad."


The mother hugged the twins and said,

While wiping at a tear,

"He could not flee the scene, you see,

For he's been dead a year."


The cop just looked confused and asked,

"Now, how can that be true?"

The boys said, "Mommy, Daddy came

And left a kiss for you."


He told us not to worry

And that you would be all right,

And then he put us in this car with

The pretty, flashing light.


We wanted him to stay with us,

Because we miss him so,

But Mommy, he just hugged us tight

And said he had to go.


He said someday we'd understand

And told us not to fuss,

And he said to tell you, Mommy,

He's watching over us."


The mother knew without a doubt

That what they spoke was true,

For she recalled their dad's last words,

"I will watch over you."


The firemen's notes could not explain

The twisted, mangled car,

And how the three of them escaped

Without a single scar.


But on the cop's report was scribed,

In print so very fine

An angel walked the beat tonight

On Highway 109.


They call me The Wild Rose
But my name was Elisa Day
Why they call me it I do not know
For my name was Elisa Day

From the first day I saw her I knew she was the one
As she stared at my eyes and smiled
For her lips were the colour of the roses
That grew down the river, all bloody and wild

When he knocked on my door and entered the room
My trembling subsided in his sure embrace
He would be my first man, and with a careful hand
He wiped at the tears that ran down my face

On the second day I brought her a flower
She was more beautiful than any woman I'd seen
I said, "Do you know where the wild roses grow
So sweet and scarlet and free?"

On the second day he came with a single red rose
He said: "Will you give me your loss and your sorrow?"
I nodded my head, as I lay on the bed
"If I show you the roses will you follow?"

On the third day he took me to the river
He showed me the roses and we kissed
And the last thing I heard was a muttered word
As he knelt above me with a rock in his fist

On the last day I took her where the wild roses grow
And she lay on the bank, the wind lied as a thief
As I kissed her goodbye, I said, "All beauty must die"
And lent down and planted a rose between her teeth

(Poem courtesy from a member from dA)


Tiger Tiger burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand one eye could frame thy fearful summary?
In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?
And what shoulder, and what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? and what dread feet?
What the hammer?
What the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain.
What the anval? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors grasp,
When the stars threw down their spears
And water’d heaven with their tears
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the lamb make thee?
Tiger Tiger burning bright


If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it.
If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it.
He sends you flowers every spring.
He sends you a sunrise every morning.
Whenever you want to talk, he listens.
He can live anywhere in the universe, but he chose... your heart.
Face it friend, He is crazy about you!

God didn't promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, sun without rain, but He did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears, and light for the way.

No More Nightmares

Zaigar woke up screaming. She had another one of those nightmares again where she was chased by a bleeding Ormack and being yelled at of her past sins. And the ending was always the same: falling off a cliff. It had haunted her for years and still she couldn't make it go away.

She felt helpless. Tortured. And that was the worst feeling ever.

She had to stop them. She had to get rid of them. She tried committing suicide by letting a hungry vampire suck her blood from her wrist, but she only ended up in a faint and woke up with a bandage and in the middle of nowhere, with the vampire out of sight. She almost fell into a rage because she didn't want to be saved, but she couldn't find the vampire to exact her revenge on him.

Then she stared at the river she was lying beside. It was moving at a rather fast current and seemed deadly enough to not be that close to it. Maybe that should do it. Maybe she could end her life here and now in this god forsaken river and never return to the living again.

Maybe...Just maybe...she could reunite with Ormack her love again.

She removed the black ribbons around her wrist and took out her dagger. She removed every covering that protected her scars and slashed at them all with that dagger. Fresh dark red blood gushed out like a fountain. She then walked into the river and lay down, letting the water current take in all her crimson red and drift all the way into the abyss.

For the first time in her life since her damned fate, she smiled in bliss...

Andrew looked out across the bleak river, lost in thought. His sword supported his hands, upon which his chin was resting while his mind wandered.

So long...

So long since he was here last, back in the city. So long since he had breathed in oddly familiar stench of Darken Weste, since he had looked out across the city, since he had climbed the heights to sit and thnik and train. The memory of his last return haunted him still. He'd lost his mind... tried to kill his friends... succumbed to madness. So long ago, it seemed...

Idly he wondered what had become of the others, of Ayrania and Iyxia, Lumiere and everybody else. He realised he didn't truly know anybody here, not any more. Not since Jetel.

He flinched away from the subject, unwilling to revisit old pains. He was here, and this was now. The past was just that: the past. Dwelling induced self-pity, and he knew where that trap led.

He made to stand, looking for the last time into the cold waters. A face flashed by... a face so familiar he forgot all about forgetting. It was her! He was moving before he realised, sprinting to keep up with the flow, sweeping the waters with his eyes. There! It was her! It had to be! Death be damned, it was her!

He found himself dragging her from the water, laying her down, taking in the wounds. It was her! But... different. The skin... far too blue... the face, too rounded. And... he spied wings beneath her. Fairly collapsing with disappointment, he stared shellshocked down at the bleeding half-breed before him, memory slipping back to that last night. He never noticed himself speaking healing words, or the tears rolling down his cheeks.

Zaigar felt herself slowly gain consciousness. Everything was a blur and she couldn't see very well with water still in her eyes. She could hear someone mumbling something at her ear but she couldn't tell what they were.

Slowly she felt the sting on her slashed parts slowly subsided. She realized what that 'someone' was doing: he/she was trying to heal her! No! She doesn't want to be healed! She doesn't want to be saved! She wants to die! She wants to leave this god forsaken place and join her father and Ormack in the afterlife. She wants to be released of the dreams and not be haunted by them any longer. She wants to die! She wants to DIE!!!

With whatever strength she could muster after such massive blood loss, she reached up and grabbed the stranger by the collar, hissing, her eyes glowing bright yellow like all gargoyles do when they're angry or in battle mode.

"Begone...Whoever you are...I wish...for death...!"

Again, she slipped back into unconsciousness...

Disconnected, Andrew ignored the hand grasping his collar, the hissing or the luminous gaze directed his way. He was remembering... remembering memories long forgotten. No... not forgotten. Just pushed aisde, hidden for so long. Too long. He remembered her, sheathed in light like one of his demi-celestial kin, laughing and looking back at him with those beautiful eyes. Such eyes! And such intelligence behind them. A challenge and a delight to converse with. So easy to love...

Something seeped through to him in his reverie. Something the gargoyle had said... with aching slowness, he stretched towards the present...

"I wish...for death...!"

Something within him reacted to the words instinctively. No. That wasn't right... nothing should wish such. The words echoed within him, an odd resonance with another conversation, an age ago it seemed, so achingly familar, etched into his memory. He'd pondered over such words for hours, only to realise something. For once, she was wrong. He'd privately promised her never to utter such words, to desire such an end.

"No."

He said it with finality, with decisiveness. He became firm of purpose. It couldn't be allowed to happen again. Never again...

"You don't know what you want."

Standing, he picked up her limp form and began walking away from the cold waters.

She was at the same cliff, but it was not because she was chased by Ormack. The cliff didn't seem so treacherous now. In fact, it was rather soothing, with the soft wind blowing at her face and the chirping of birds as they pass her by. She realized that she was not wearing her usual hunting attire and loincloth or holding any weapons of destruction anymore. In their place was a silky white gown embroidered with beads and pearls and she had a crown of roses on her head. She had never felt so peaceful before in her life. Is this what the afterlife was?

No. Not yet. This wasn't the afterlife yet. There's still yet one more step to go. She stared at the cliff and knew what beckoned her below. Slowly, step by step, she walked towards the edge. She outstretched her arms like a pair of wings and was ready to set foot into the abyss when suddenly a stranger came from behind her and grabbed her by the waist, stopping her at her tracks.

For once, she didn't go into her fight mode. She calmly replied the stranger whom she couldn't see his face and said, "Leave me. I wish for death."

"You don't know what you want."

*

Zaigar awoke with a start. She found herself lying on grass covered with mildew and she was blanketed with what looked like bearskin. She shifted herself a little and saw that she was being bandaged with clean white sheets. As sleep left her, she began to remember what she was doing here. She was supposed to die. She was supposed to cut herself blind, jump off into the river and let it take her to the afterlife. Why was she not dead? Why was she still alive? Who the fuck interfered with her plans again??

She shifted her gaze to see a dark figure building up a fire. She couldn't see his face clearly because of the smoke, but she could tell by the smell that he was the one who had muttered the healing spell on her.

Almost immediately, with years of agility, she grabbed her dagger, jumped across the fire and leapt onto the stranger, brandishing the dagger at his throat. Her eyes glowed again as she hissed venomously, "Who are you?! What do you think you're doing saving my life?! I thought I told you I wish for death!! Why can't you just leave me alone?!"

Andrew heard the halfbreed wake, but didn't react immediately. He knew the way people were who'd just been saved against their will. Best she was left to wail and gnash her teeth without someone else building their furor. He threw another branch on the fire and was turning to pick up another just as she landed on him, slamming him to the ground. He looked up impassively into her vivid amber eyes with his own grey, studying her expression, just how she felt painted on her face.

He was weaponless, his sword beside the fire, but that was insignificant. Such action would make his situation a farce. Instead, he examined the musculature of her face. So like her! Yet subtley different. Could there be some common ancestry there? No matter. She wasn't her.

In an odd way, carrying her here, bandaging her and keeping her alive had cleansed something from him. He'd stopped hiding, and in those few short minutes between leaving the river and laying here on his back with a dagger to his throat, he'd changed. He no longer feared her memory. He wondered how that might apply here.

He looked closer and revelation dawned.

"You're afraid," he said.

Zaigar widened her eyes in surprise, then in anger. She hissed at him and said, "I am not afraid! There is nothing for me to fear!"

Afraid? Why would he say that she was afraid? She was never afraid. She was never afraid of anything in her life. As long as she could remember, she had fought people and hunted animals twice, maybe thrice bigger than her own size and she never backed away from a battle. She didn't even shed a tear when she was tortured by Ormack for the crime she was framed of. She held no remorse and didn't even shudder when she swished the blade and cut off Ormack's head. She didn't cower away when one of the hunt killed her father. No. She was never afraid.

"I'm never afraid..." Zaigar repeated herself again as she pressed the blade of the dagger deeper onto the stranger's throat, making it bleed a little. Another look at his grey eyes and she began to waver. Was she afraid? Was she really afraid? Is that why she wanted to die? Because she was afraid that the dreams alone could tear out her soul and break her sanity?

Her glowing eyes dimmed, replaced by welling of tears. She tried to blink them away. She would never yield to tears. She had promised to herself that no matter what happens, she would never cry. Tears were overrated, a sign of weakness, a sign of emotion. She would never show herself to be weak. Never.

Yet his words...Those heart-piercing words that came out of his mouth...The truth hurts...

She released her dagger and hastily got off him. She just stood there staring at the fire, her tears finally flow freely out of her golden eyes. Quietly, she asked, "What do you know about my fear? Would you have stopped me from leaving this god forsaken world into the afterlife if you had known what I have truly been through?"

She's quicker than most.

Andrew got to his feet slowly, adjusted his coat and sat down again to tend to the fire. He remained silent as he stoked it with his sword, began to place stones over the largest logs and placed a couple of slabs of meat over them, rendered from some indistinct large animal he'd found wounded not far away. Bit of luck, that. Meant he didn't need to hunt, which meant he hadn't needed to leave the fire for long. He stared into the fire a while longer.

"You fear the unknown," he said at last. "You fear the future, because you are stuck in the past. You're terrified of facing yourself alone." He pondered her reaction, the way her face had moved, each muscle examined. "Whatever happened to you, you've told yourself you need to forget it. But you torture yourself still. You torture yourself so that you will remember."

He placed his sword back into its scabbard, looked once more into the flames, lost in thought.

"You yearn to forget, but you won't let yourself," He made a judgement, "Everyday you remind yourself. Everyday you refuse to forget. You think dying will make you forget," He shook his head. "But death is an unknown too. You've convinced yourself it isn't, that you know what awaits you, that it would be bliss, but you still secretly know what it is. It's unknown, and you're terrified of that too. Not enough."

And he turned to look at her then, to watch her eyes and to try to convey some meaning in his words.

"You're afraid."

Zaigar slumped onto the ground and buried her face in her knees. She knew what he spoke was true. She knew that she reminds herself of the past every friggin wake of her moment when she told herself to forget all that. She couldn't forgive herself for killing Ormack and she couldn't forget the things Ormack had done in betraying her love. Or for that matter anything else that was connected to her and Ormack.

The truth hurts. Badly.

"My father told me he had a bad feeling about me pursuing Ormack," Zaigar began opening up her secrets. Secrets that even her friend Ayriana never knew. "He said that he knew through experience that he would most certainly be a dent in my life, but he still respected my decision, in case he was wrong. He said I should at least choose someone from his human side of the kind, since the gargoyle clan didn't accept me due to my half-breed nature, but I refuse to listen to him. I chose Ormack the Eldritch Elf and no other.

"I told Ormack about my feelings for him, but he was already promised to another. But he agreed to be my best friend, and I was contented to that. Though I was met with objections by one of his members, he continued to treasure our friendship day by day. Then the day came when there was a civil war between his family and another at Silverdale. An assassin broke in and killed Ormack's brother. His member took that opportunity to frame me, saying that I was in allegiance with the enemy and killed his brother for them.

"I tried to prove my innocence but wasn't given the chance. Ormack kept me locked up in the basement and tortured me, forcing me to confess my crime. I couldn't blame him; he loved his brother very much, but I was bitter because he would rather believe someone else than his best friend. He should know I would never do anything to betray him but he was blinded by rage over the death of his brother. He even ra..."

Zaigar tried to blink away the horrible memory, reducing it to only Ormack tearing off her clothes, stripping her bare and his forceful entry into her...

"Let's just say our supposedly love-making was not the way I wanted it to be. When he couldn't get it out of me, he used his eldritch-enhanced sword and stabbed me, before throwing me into that river where you've just saved me, leaving me for dead. It was a thief who rescued me, and he nursed me back to health. I have to admit I wasn't giving him and his seven sons an easy time, but I recovered, as you can see."

She caught a whiff of meat and looked up. The stranger was offering her a piece of meat he had just cooked in the fire. He was giving her the "Take care, it's hot" look with his gray eyes. Tentatively, she took it and munch it down. Between mouthfuls, she continued pouring out her secrets. She didn't know why but she suddenly had the urge to get everything out of her chest. Since the stranger didn't seem to stop her, she took the chance.

"I manage to gather enough strength and heal from my wounds, but not the ones in my heart. The theif who saved me was sentenced to death for stealing royalty treasure and I paid my debts for his help by killing the person who sentenced him and gave his head to his sons. Then I travel long to find Ormack sleeping peacefully with his promised other. Rage overcame. I swung the sword and chopped both their heads at the same time. They never felt a thing and none of them stirred. I even killed his entire family and the friends who framed me for my uncommited crime. I left no loose ends."

By the time she ended her story, she already wolfed down the entire meat. She sighed and propped her chin on her knees with her arms, saying, "Not a day went by when nightmares of me being pushed off the cliff by Ormack haunted me. I couldn't make them go away. They kept coming back. No matter how much I tell myself that Ormack was the fault of all this and that I should forget the past and move on, he still comes back to haunt. He still comes back every night to push me off that cliff. I began to wonder maybe that's the uncertain future that is in store for me, like you said. That's why I took the plunge and end all my sufferings.

"You see now why I wish death? You see now what tormented me to the brink of my existence? You see now why I wished that you'll leave me alone? There's nothing for me here. My father's dead. Ormack's dead. I have no one else to live for. I wish I could move on, find my true love and build a family with him that I couldn't with Ormack, but this is not the place for such wishful thinking, so what is there for me to live for?"

Again, she cried. Again, she buried her face in her knees, not wanting the stranger to see anymore of her weakness.

Deep down inside, she wished someone, anyone, was there right now to embrace her and make her bitterness go away...

Andrew regarded the cringing half-breed before him with impassive eyes, chewing slowly on his steak as he observed her tell her tale. He'd always found it odd, the way a near-death experience loosened the jaw, when you'd think it would do the opposite. Some small part of him wanted to comfort her, to make her forget as she so wished. Another part despised her for her weakness and hypocrisy. But Andrew had long ago learnt to live with himself and ignored such parts.

"I see," he said in a way that defied the visual, "I know why you wish." He turned away and kicked the stone from the fire, huddled closer to it for warmth as the day faded and cold, bitter night settled in. He seemed to still then, just looking into the flames with glazed eyes while his mind walked the avenues of the past. "Your tale is more tragic than most," he said at length. But still one of many. "But you've forgotten something. Forgotten something amid all your memories as you wallow in your self-pity." The words came not unkindly, but not softly either. He denounced nobody now. "You have a future. A future as yet undetermined. In death... in death you deny yourself that future."

He turned to look at her then.

"In death, you deny yourself the remotest chance at happiness, at relief, at comfort. In death, you deny the whole world of your presence. Who knows what your future may hold? It is uncertain. But death is absolute. Absolute so far as this world is concerned. In death, you deny yourself a chance at anything." The smile that touched his lips was superficial. "Even escape. You never know."

Throwing her a blanket, he looked up at the stars half occluded by the lights of the nearby metropolis, thought of the number of times he'd sat and watched them. They reminded him that only the heavens were constant in this world. Everything else... everything else was ephemeral as summer mist.

"You don't need to forget Ormack. You need to accept him."

Zaigar eyed at the blanket that was given to her. Accept? How could she accept the man that had betrayed her love and left her for dead? How could she accept the man who had tortured her beyond compare and killed her with his own two hands?

But deep inside, she knew he spoke the truth. And it ached badly. She knew she had to accept the fact that Ormack was dead and there's nothing else she could do about it. She knew she had to accept the fact that what Ormack had did to her was done and nothing can change that. She knew she had been denying herself of a possibility of a beautiful future with someone worthy of each other's love and that she was foolish enough to pursue an absolute end to her fate. She knew that the future is uncertain, that it could be beautiful or cruel, whichever way it might end, and her life may worth a significance in this god forsaken world, if only she'd embrace it, but she was too afraid to face it.

She knew the future was uncertain, and all she had to do was try and live through it. May it be death in the end or a life spent with her true love, who knows?

She wanted a life of her own. She wanted to meet someone who truly loved her for her and have a family with him, a family her father never had the chance to have and grow old with them. She wanted to accept Ormack as a good memory and learn from that mistake. She wanted all that. But she saw what was going on with this world and was reminded again and again of what Ormack had done to her and was afraid the same thing might happen to her. Everyone in this world was brought up with much darkness and deceit, and she wasn't sure she would want to face another Ormack-driven life again.

The truth...hurts...real bad...

Zaigar hastily threw her blanket away, not caring where it landed and lunged towards the man. This time, though, she didn't plant a dagger at his throat. She wrapped her arms around him and sobbed like a little girl she used to be. She could feel the man resisting but she held on.

"Just let me be like this for a while..." she sobbed. "Just for a little while...Please..."

Andrew caught her gently as she fell on him, holding her lightly as she sobbed into his shoulder. His eyes sought the blanket, but it was out of the way. She had to do this, to let it out. So much tension, over so many years... he knew how it felt. He knew it had to go somewhere. This was when that little part of somebody where they shoved all their doubts, all their worries, all their nightmares during the day opened up and poured itself out. It wasn't the real the, but Andrew had learnt you could never see the real person all at once. What was true was that it was real, which was all that mattered.

He let her cry for a long time, let herself pour it all out and get rid of the tension. At length he gently straightened her, lifted her chin, held her gaze. He looked into her eyes, reached for that point where he could touch her with a look, the point where understanding came from the slightest flicker or change of expression. He might say he touched her soul, if he was still that sentimental. He watched her eyes, staring hard back into them. So much could be conveyed in one look.

"Look at you!" His voice was full of sudden venom. "Look at what you have become!" He provoked her, goaded her into rising from the depression, shoving her arm. "Is this what you want to do with your life? You're a wreck! A hollow shell of a person. You're worth nothing!" His eyes urged her to defy him, to defend herself. Pride would pull her from the pit of self-pity she had dug herself. Let her defy him! Let her fight tooth and nail to prove him wrong. "Ormack was right for what he did to you. Ormack was justified. You deserved it! Look at this snivelling shell of a person! You deserve no pity."

He knew the patterns, had read the thoughts expressed so finely in faces. Her self-loathing drained, defiance and anger would remain. She had strength, great strength, and she would see it.

Zaigar stared at him in disbelief, her yellow eyes still tear-filled. 'What was he saying?' she thought. 'That I deserve what Ormack had did to me? That everything Ormack done to me was a justified act? That I deserved to be tortured, raped and killed by the man who betrayed my love and friendship? Is that what he meant?'

Anger boiled inside Zaigar. It was a feeling Zaigar could not put in words. All she wanted was just a little comfort. All she wanted was just a little care and reassurance that everything was alright and that she didn't have to worry about anymore nightmares. Yet what she got was words filled with venom and incompassion, filled with blame and accusation. She almost thought that this man who opened up her mind would be able to open up her heart as well. He was no different than those sorry insolant people who were raised by this evil, tormented world.

"Then everything you've told me before was a LIE!!!"

Without warning and within a split second, she brandished her dagger and swiped the blade across the man's arm. Blood squirted and fell everywhere, some got on her face.

"To think that you understood me, of my pain and of my grief. You're nothing but another extension of this goddamn place. You're just like everybody else!"

Another slash. More blood.

"You're just like Ormack! You're just like everyone else in this world! Worthless! Indifferent! Heartless! Mouth full of shit, accusation and blame! I never deserved what Ormack did to me! Never! He betrayed me! He tortured me! He raped me! He KILLED me, dammit, he KILLED me!!! He knew I loved him dearly regardless of his betrothed situation and he knew I treasure our friendship above everything else, yet he disposed me like a piece of garbage all the same!!!"

Another slash. Even more blood.

"I just want you to reassure me everything would be fine, that I don't need to die to prove my low-life situation. All I want is for you to comfort me! Is that so much to ask?!"

Zaigar felt as if she couldn't stop.

"You lied to me! You lied to me! Everything you said to me before was a LIE!!!"

By the time she realized what she was doing, she found herself staring at the man lying on the ground breathing heavily, both their bodies a scarlet red.

"Is it?" His voice came slowly, drifting up from where he lay prone on the ground. With burning skin, he raised his arms, pushed himself up. He let the pain wash over him, wash through. He didn't resist. It was now. It had happened. There was precious little he could do. The Litany Against Fear rolled through his mind.

I shall not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I shall face my fear and allow it to pass over me. And when it is gone I shall turn to face where my fear has gone and there shall be nothing left. Only me.

He stood up, stumbled over to his pack, retrieved the medkit. Laying himself down, he began to treat his wounds one by one.

"Do you really think I did? Reassurance is a thing of mood, like music or lovemaking. Mood is not a thing for the Wilds. You need face certain truths sooner or later. Perspectives change... you shouldn't be surprised his did, just as mine seemed to before."

Zaigar almost felt relieved she hadn't kill the man. She never felt so angry before in her life. She didn't mean to do that to the man. Venomous as his words were, he still saved her life.

Changed perspectives...Moods...

True. The Wilds is not a place where you rely on only gut feeling and emotions. There's things to consider mentally and brash decision-makings of the heart was not the way to live in this place. Such was the lessons she had learnt from her father. Her perspective of the Wilds before she met Ormack was a world filled with danger and uncertainty, of death and chances. She changed when she met Ormack, believing that in this god forsaken world, something beautiful is meant to exist and that love can still survive. After the incident, she began to think that love was all but the truth, that love was nothing but a fleeting thought of wonting that is lethal and cruel. The man was right. Perspectives change. They always have been that way. She should have known better.

"I'm...I'm sorry...for hurting you like that...I was just..." Zaigar whispered apologetically at first, then steeled her face back to whom she used to be: cold, distant and indifferent. "You're right. Emotion is a weakness we must not give in at these trying times. I should've seen that coming."

She cleaned the dagger and walked away towards the river. She heard a shuffle behind her. Without looking behind her, she said, "I'm not going to kill myself again. I'm just going to clean myself off this blood and my dagger. I shall return soon and see what I can do to heal those wounds of yours. Those slashes don't look too light to be healed with just your medkit."

With that, she threaded through the field towards the river that almost claimed her life.

Andrew laughed. It hurt, hurt badly, but he laughed anyway.

"A weakness?" He said. "Emotion's a strength. Emotion's what separates us from the beasts and the demons," He spat at the still slowly roasting animal above the fire. Blood sizzled on stone. "Not many people you'll find strong enough to feel properly. No. Emotion's not a weakness. But there're times for it, just as there are times for the cold, calculating bastard. You just have to remember that in each and every place, each and every moment you are a different person than before. You can't apply a blanket filter to life and say 'This is how I am'. That's how you get killed. Or end up killing yourself."

He turned to follow the half-breed, but stopped at her reassurance. No grudge burdened him after her outlash. It was a thing that had happened. Anyone in the circumstances would have done the same. No burdens.

He turned and started seemingly talking to himself now that she was going. "No. Emotion's what makes you, you and me, me. But not out here. Not out here."

And he stared out into the darkness, listening to the sound of the night-time forest by the banks of the river.

Zaigar slipped off her clothes and shivered at the cold wind of the night. She cautiously dipped herself into the cold water of the river and exhaled as she relaxed herself in it. The wounds healed by the stranger stung a little coz it was still fresh, but pain was no stranger to her anymore. Not since Ormack.

True. Emotion is a strength as well as a weakness. You become strong with the hardship you go through and it can help you guide your decision through trying times. And it does separate us from the beasts and the demons that have feelings colder than the coldest ice. But emotions also lead to brash thoughts and foolish decisions. It was definitely something you have to balance thoroughly with.

As she continued to clean herself and her dagger off the blood, she didn't realize that something was swimming towards her, creeping as silent as the night itself. She didn't realize the creature with its pale, scaly skin and serpentine eyes that eyed her with malice and venegeance. She didn't realized it baring its fangs and licking its lips as it slowly surfaced up the water.

When the creature jumped up high with its mouth wide open to sink its teeth into Zaigar's gut, the only thing she could catch was the family symbol of Ormack's elf bloodline on its forehead...

.renaissancE –

He could feel his skin melting, sloughing off in wet chunks and into the knee-deep sewage of his would-be grave. The stench of burning hair and rawness and natural and toxic wastes battered him down like some seige engine. The entire fucking world would not stop until he was gone - a dead pile of flesh to add to what Darken Weste had to offer.

Sizzling, hissing, splashing, plopping. Drake was an upright embodiment of grotesque itself. His clothes were gone - somehow they were stolen from him before this atrocity had happened. Through the misshapen orbs that were his eyes, the male could see what was becoming of him. Where there was once pale, ghoulish skin was now the graying redness of muscle and bone beneath. He could see his once powerful legs buckle beneath him, ready to plunge the entirety of his form into the watery, smelly, disease-ridden tomb at his feet.

"Fuck this...fuck this!" The roar of frustration that emanated from the man's mouth would've surprised anyone that could have been watching - although his body was deteriorating like a candlewick, he still could muster up a vocal chord that shook the stone half-pipe he was in. He may have been rotting away, melting, completely bare of clothes and doomed outright, but the man still bore that deep, commanding voice that he was known for.

Staggering only several inches forward, Drake teetered to the side and into the stonework barrier beside him, letting what fresh blood that was left within him to splash from his festering side and onto the wall. The red fluid sizzled as well, like acid, and began to eat into the rock, simulating what was happening to the barely living heap alongside.

What a nasty trick... He mused bitterly, letting his mind run while his body failed. Guess this city's got some problems after all...

Zaigar walked around the foul-stenched sewers trying to find a way out. She had just chased after a hunt and got led straight into this god forsaken place where nothing survives and everything rots. She could feel herself slowly dematerializing and getting more and more in tune with the filth that is Stygia. Another hour in this place and she would soon become one of the rotting corpse she just passed by. She had taken a closer look at it and realized it was the same hunt she had chased after before.

"Great. Just great," she muttered to herself. "What a perfect way to die here. Being lost and rot slowly inch by inch. That's just peachy!"

"Fuck this...FUCK THIS!"

Zaigar heard someone swear at a distance. Who could be still alive in this place? Definitely not someone as fortunate as she was. As she tried to walk through the icky sewage, she tried to sniff in the air to find any smell of the stranger that just cussed. No luck. The horrible smell of the sewage dump blocked her nose. She was lucky she had applied some ancient counter toxic ointment from a very rare species of oak before entering or she would've melted almost immediately.

She never goes on a hunt unprepared, that's for sure.

Few feet away from her, she saw blood splash out from a weird-looking walking, melting zombie onto the wall. She cringed as the blood ate through the rock. 'Man,' she thought. 'Is that what might happen to me?'

She moved as fast as she could to reach the zombie before his body failed, taking out the ointment she used before on herself to try help him. Not that it's gonna do him any good, what with the rate of his decay, but there's no harm trying.

'God damn this place. It's making me a softie every fucking minute of the day,' Zaigar thought as she slowly reached her hand out towards him.

"Don't touch me!" The man snapped. His back was turned to the stranger that was approcahing him, and yet he could sense her trying to reach out. His reaction to her forced him stumbling down again, and he hit the water with a disgusting thud, trying feebly to remain on his hands and knees at least.

His breathing still remained, yet it was forced and random, riddled with rhrasps and wheezing and a deep rumbling that was frighteningly congruous to some huge animal. Drake stared down at the liquid at his feet, totally oblivious to the sour, acrid smell of it and more intent upon his reflection than anything. Something was happening to him that nothing in this literal shithole could do. He could see half of his face sinking into the shape of his skull beneath, the other half following suit by revealing muscle. The long black hair that he once had was no more, with but a balding skullcap that was diminishing as well.

The man's fists clenched underneath the surface of the water, and, trembling, he adjusted the position of his legs. Then he sprang up, as if a burst of adrenaline had suddenly revived his old state. He suddenly brought his legs into a series of cat-like, diligent springs, aiming for what appeared to be a brighter rightbound tunnel but a few hundred yards away. In the spot that he had fallen, however, the water had turned milky and bubbly, now a soup of the creature's remains and oddly acidic blood plasma.

Zaigar almost shrank back at the stranger's yell. She couldn't blame him. In this world, everything is a threat and it pays to be cynical and defensive. She watched quietly as the stranger struggled to get up. She could see that he was melting real fast, and if he didn't get out of this dump sooner, the sewage would eat him alive.

Come to think of it, so would she.

Still, she wanted to help. Pity that she hadn't felt for many long years grew in her. As she reached out again for him, he suddenly sprang up and sped off like some cat who just got chased by a dog. She grimaced at the milky, bubbly water from where he had fallen. She dread to think that it would become her within the next hour if she doesn't find her way out into the open. She noticed he was moving swiftly towards a direction and saw that there was a brighter spot of the sewage at the rightbound tunnel. Could it be it? Could it be that leads to the open?

She'll have to take her chance.

Pocketing the ointment, she took to her heels and followed after the melting stranger.

Drake felt pain, felt weakness, felt the chill of his bare form, but most of all...he felt rage. He felt it for himself, and towards the bastards that brough him to this. He'd find those men, find each and every one of them, and eat them alive. If they had families, he'd slaughter them too - anything to sate his utterly revolting and newborn hatred. They had written their own death sentences, and woke up a beast to carry them out.

Still running through the thick sewage, Drake turned sharply towards the newfound tunnel he was heading for, pushing himself along the wall while holding a large slab of flesh to his chest that was threatening to fall off. He could hear the distant splashing of water behind him, and he knew that the stranger that had tried to help him was following. No matter - it was her choice. She was free to get herself dragged into Drake's mess like so many others had in the past.

The passageway sloped upwards, fashioned from concrete and with a thin line of water running down its base. Drake navigated the thing easily enough, but his hobbling actions were pathetic, to say the least. Eventually he made it out of the tunnel and into an open area. The place seemed like some series of backstreets in the slummier districts, with rotten garbage all around and a small pond of filthy water along the floor.

After Drake studied his surroundings for a second or two, he allowed his body to crumple to the ground with a horrifying grunt. Great effort was taken in his dissolving muscles as he rolled his body onto its back so he could gaze up at the yonder above - which consisted mainly of lofty catwalks and black air.

Naked body sprawled and motionless, the creature stared blankly upwards with his eyes.

Zaigar panted as she tried to chase after the stranger. She had to get out of this place quick and this could be a chance. She spun round into the newfound tunnel and followed after him. She could see him in a distance trying to hold pieces of him that were falling. She grimaced. 'Now that is definitely not a sight for sore eyes', she thought as she continued to give chase. As she continued to follow behind him, she soon found herself out in the open. Rotten garbage surrounded her and a filthy pond of water flowed under her feet, but at least the air outside is much better than the inside. She saw the stranger before her stop in his tracks, surveying the area. She kept her distance. She didn't want to arouse his anger by approaching him so suddenly.

When he crumpled to the ground, she could see the pieces that were threatening to melt and fall off his body. This was definitely not good. She need more than just the ointment to cure his body. She needed magic, and it was something she didn't have.

Unless...

She searched her belt pouch to look for something she remembered keeping back in her younger days. It was a scroll of spells her father bought from the slums of the black market near The Lotus just in case their hunt needed more than just basic survival and vigilance. She took out the scroll and scanned through it to find the spell for body reconstruction. As soon as she found she slowly made her way towards the lying stranger.

"Don't worry, I'm not going to hurt you," Zaigar said in her nonchalant tone. Years of coldness and indifference influenced her voice to become less compassionate than she should, even if she did feel that way.

The stranger did not reply, but continue to stare blankly upwards. Maybe he was tired, maybe he was just dying, she didn't care. She just wanted to help him.

"This is for helping me getting out of that horrible sewage back there," Zaigar said as she scanned through the body reconstruction spell. She knelt down beside the stranger's head and laid her hand on his forehead. The stranger winced a little but didn't attempt to fight her off.

"Just relax and everything will be over," Zaigar said as she slowly read the spell from the scroll.

"This is for helping me getting out of that horrible sewage back there,"

Drake heard those words and smiled bitterly, though the expression probably couldn't be seen on his grotesque visage. He hadn't thought of anything in the ranges of helping...much less a stranger. But this woman seemed thoughtful on it, and Drake didn't bother to protest...as if he would even be able to.

With cold regard, the man's eyes inched over to where the unknown character resided, observing her odd appearance and noticing the small presence of apathy in her vocals. It was obvious that she wasn't one for good things - her appearance alone hinted demon, or perhaps something else. Drake didn't care to think about it further. Rather, the pain spasms of his body were growing increasingly worse, and he wasn't so sure as to how much longer he had anyway.

How much longer...

CrapcrapCRAP! The thought of dying was something new to him, and he didn't want it to happen now. Or ever. It couldn't. It shouldn't. Not because some small group of self-righteous assholes decided to try and destroy him. No...this wouldn't be the way Drake would go - he owed it to Darken Weste to stay alive longer than it wanted him to. He lived off of defiance, but he wouldn't die of it.

Body lurching to the side, Drake couldn't hear the stranger's spellwoven chanting over the myriad of worry coursing through his own mind. Weak grunts were emitted from his mouth as he did so, trying to roll his body back onto its side so he could lift himself up. He brought his free arm over to the ground, intent upon piushing himself up if it was still possible for his muscles. It was, and like a reanimated corpse, Drake brought himself to his knees. He had his back to the stranger, but managed to turn his head her way, eyeing the scroll suddenly with caution.

"What the fuck is that...NO MORE MAGICI!" The dying man managed to shout frantically again, his mind recalling the event where he had started deteriorating in the first place. They had used a scrollbound magic of some sort too. Drake didn't want anymore.

But perhaps he was too late, since the woman already had been deep in the process of reading the parchment before he acted. Twitching with frustration and the thoughts of impending doom, Drake suddenly felt the surface of his unclothed body tingle, as if worms were crawling atop him all over. Looking down jerkily, the man noticed how the exposed portions of his insides weren't becoming so exposed anymore. It seemed like whatever spell the stranger was doing, was helping him recover. Perhaps this could enhance his...own special abilities now...

The stranger was moving. She didn't want him to move. If he moved, there might be a slight chance that the spell would not work. And he yelled at her that he didn't want anymore magic, she almost wanted to stop chanting.

But she was too far down the spell now. She couldn't stop even if she wanted to. To stop means to kill the man, and that was definitely not something she wanted to do. Not tonight anyway.

Luck was on her side. The magic did work after all. She stood up and held him down, stopping him from getting up any further. She could see the veins and muscles wriggled their way like worms up to the part that they have came off and reattaching themselves to their original positions. The stranger seemed to struggle a little but Zaigar's strong hand held him him firmly on the ground.

"Be still, man. Just a little bit longer."

Zaigar continued to chant from the scroll. After what seemed like hours, the stranger's body began to emit a huge blinding flash, engulfing his entire body. Moments later, it subsided and what replaced him was a perfect body, nice and clean without a single scratch on him. It was as if his melting away had never happened. She replaced the scroll and regarded him a little. Long ebony hair, slightly built body, handsome yet deep, narrow eyes that told her that he was none other than a halfbreed like her. But of what species she wasn't sure. His handsome look seem to draw her in a little but she managed to keep her cool.

Love no longer serve any interest to her than she would want it to be.

"I suppose you're pretty much up and about," Zaigar said. "My services don't usually come cheap. A small offer of food may help. The name's Zaigar. What's yours?"

Well the hurting stopped. First there was a blinding flash, and then Drake felt nothing but chill. It was bitter, and all over. Then he realized what had happened. It seemed that the girl's spell had worked, and Drake's body was finally good as new. But he didn't want to take his chances. He moved a few black-nailed fingers first, letting them flex in sequence, test their ability. Nothing creaked, nothing stung, nothing ached. The man brought his hands into fists, and then swallowed and blinked his eyes several times.

Drake sat up, enjoying the chill of the dirty water around him rather than curse it. His flesh could feel things again, and not in a bad way. It was a relief. But then there was also the thoughts of what had done that to him - what had brought him to a state of near-destruction in the first place...

Shaking his head vigorously, the man forced his mane of jet black hair to wisp about his head in an unkempt dance. He had nothing to tie it back with, so it fell over his visage like a dark veil, making him appear much more sinister than before. He moved his body slowly, with a lazy groan following his movements quietly. He brough himself to a crouching position, back arched to the stranger. There was silence after this, and a stillness in Drake that was reminiscient of a gargoyle-like statue.

But at last Drake moved again, and it seemed like his action jolted the stillness of the entire place. He began to stand slowly, deathly white skin rippling with muscles beneath as his spine and shoulder-blades adjusted to the new position. He straightened himself sinuously, letting out a deep breath through his nostrils. He stood well over six and a half feet tall, and perhaps reached seven, but the darkness of the place made it hard to tell. Pointed ears twitched, and with a flick of his head, the man turned to stare at the female with strangely dull, yet alert satin eyes as he recounted what she said.

"Drake." His voice was different from the crazed roar previously. It was baritone and syrupy, like the heat of a carnivore's breath. Yet there was also a sentience within it that provided intelligence, and perhaps something far more provocative than one would expect from such an odd-looking, yet intriguing individual. Who was naked.

Naked.

Drake's eyes widened like a rodent's as his head darted downwards. It was then that he realized that everything...everything...was showing. In front of a woman. Not that Drake really cared about anything sexual whatsoever - this was still horrifying. They really did steal his fucking clothes.

Looking back at the stranger, trying to keep calm, the man kept his hands hanging low over his nether-regions.

"Uh...that food...thanks by the way...will have to wait. I need some uh...clothes..." Swallowing once, Drake turned on his bare feet and began stalking through the mess, intent upon reaching one of the surrounding walls for whatever reason.

Zaigar watched nonchalantly as the stranger who called himself Drake stagger around looking for something aimlessly. Hmm, male nudity. Haven't seen that for a long while. The last time she saw someone naked was when she was being raped by Ormack before she was being killed. A rare sight but not uncomforting.

She reached over to her pouch and fished out a cloak made of bearskin of sorts. She took it when she was being stalked by a Marauder wanting to kill her in revenge for killing his favourite prized pet. She had to admit the pet she killed was indeed rare, but of no use to her. For her, every animal is either edible or not, and that pet was one of the edible ones. After killing the Marauder, another habit of hers was to rummage through the body to see if she could get any worthy weapons to be used for her next hunt.

She walked over cautiously to Drake holding the cloak over him. Without warning, she draped the man with the cloak and held him still, regarding his looks. He was truly handsome and had that kind of aura that might draw you involunteeringly, despite the fact that he was an obvious half-breed. His deep eyes were the most alluring ones. She couldn't help but stare into those orbs and imagine what would it be like to be inside his mind and find out about his deepest, darkest secrets...

When she realized she was staring for too long, she let go abruptly and regained her cool composure. She cleared her throat and said, "Here's your clothes. This is all I can muster now. Don't worry, I've seen worse. Your nudity doesn't bother me much."

As she watched Drake pulling the cloak closer to himself, she asked, "So...What exactly happened back there? You crawled out from a grave or something?"

It made it even more uncomfortable for him when he realized that the stranger was staring. At what? Drake's eye twitched slightly at her, not thankful for the fact that her attention seemed to make the chill breeze around his loins even worse. She had stopped him - now what?

The man tried to refrain from ripping the offer of clothing out of the woman's hands. He wrapped the garment frantically about himself, and the scene was nothing short of awkward. Him being so large, and the cloak being...not so large, Drake looked pathetic, if not funny. It was the least of his concern though. He looked back at the woman, his angular face pointed downward and satin eyes boring into hers. She was trying to calculate him like he was her. Good luck.

Drake straightened himself, keeping one hand about the clothing so it wouldn't fall off. It wasn't exactly his fault that he was this way - not only had he been nearly fried to a crisp, but encounters with people who usually saw more to his appearance than he did never really ended properly. Drake's emotions were inarticulate, no doubt, but for some reason he bore a celibacy to his psyche that made him practically blind to prospects of love. He was a labyrinth inside, and only a few people in his lifetime had been able to navigate it.

And so here he was, being saved by some stranger, and suddenly feeling very obligated to pay her back. He never meant to put himself in this situation, but here he was...

"There were these people," Drake began to answer the stranger's query. "I never saw them before, but they confronted me as if we all had a loooong standing hatred for some reason. One of them had this piece of paper, began reading from it, and my skin started burning. That was when...they took my damn stuff. All of it. As if they were trying to degrade me or something. And I didn't even KNOW THEM!"

Drake's voice boomed through the enclosure, mirroring his roars in the sewer.

Zaigar didn't flinch at his sudden outburst. She had gotten accustomed to such things. Besides, her impassiveness and indifference saved her the humiliation of retreating like some cowardly rabbit. Her eyes shifted a little towards the direction of the sewer when she heard his echo, then looked back at him again like nothing had happened. She noticed the cloak not very fitting for his big visage but she couldn't help it if Drake was about half a size bigger than the Marauder who owned this cloak.

"I see," she replied, not literally speaking. "I suppose that what all half-breeds have to face. People can be very discriminating nowadays. My clan threatened to kill me if I ever set foot into their territory because I'm half of my human father, and my best friend's gang members framed me for a crime I didn't commit just because they didn't like my heriditary looks. It's human nature."

She scanned the scroll that was still in her hand and said, "I think your attackers got the same scroll I have, coz I see the spell that caused you to become a walking corpse in here," she held up the scroll to Drake and pointed at a section on the middle, "Here it is. The Mutilation Spell."

She noticed Drake's eyes glaring in hatred at the scroll. She quickly put it away into her pouch before he decides to tear it into pieces. She needed that scroll. Her hunt depended on it. She then shifted her gaze towards Drake's hair. Rather unkempt and messy, like it had seen better days. She took off one of her black bandages on her wrists and said, "Look, you don't seem like you're much in a mood to talk right now. I suggest you sit down and take a rest. You've just turned from a melting mutilated zombie to a full person. I'll do your hair if you allow me to."

The look Drake gave her was no more than shock and surprise at her sudden offer.

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