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    ** Interlude 6 - Not youth itself thy clemency can gain; vigorous and strong, by thee untimely slain.

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    Fabien

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    Re: ** Interlude 6 - Not youth itself thy clemency can gain; vigorous and strong, by thee untimely slain.

    Post  Fabien on Thu Nov 08, 2018 2:30 pm

    Daima's pointed chin lifted, and her eyes almost seemed to widen in surprise at the girl's swift response. It was clear she had expected more panic, more complaint from the stranger in their midst. Her eyes moved in a serpentine shift between Fabien and his companion, and once again she shifted her weight between her feet.


    The darkly attired girl lower her eyes to palms that were presented so readily to her. When her gaze rose, it lingered on Colombe for just a little too long.

    She raised her knife to the light, the metal glinting as she angled it towards the tender flesh. The lethal point scored her palms in a single, steady motion. This time, the press of the girl's blade held no true malice. The gesture instead seemed somewhat ceremonial, like old magic.

    Nous ne coupons pas les mains ici, madame. We are not that lowly.”

    Daima's other hand flicked out in Fabien's direction, her palm aggressively stilling his movements and silencing the sharp protest which had begun to rise in his throat. The boy swallowed stiffly, his movements still restless in the dark.

    Ç'est un jeton excessif.” He breathed unhappily.

    “She is fresh eyes here, and I could ask for so much higher. I do this on your behalf. So don't fret. It will not be bad.”

    She sped a threatening glance in his direction, before turning her attention back to the girl. This time her knife tapped at Colombe's collar.

    “Can you loosen here, to the shoulder? If it cannot be done with ease, I will cut it.”
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    Tariq
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    Re: ** Interlude 6 - Not youth itself thy clemency can gain; vigorous and strong, by thee untimely slain.

    Post  Tariq on Fri Nov 09, 2018 12:35 pm

    Colombe’s eyes fixed on the gleam of the knife held in the girl’s hand. She did not flinch when the sharp point of the blade met her palm, but continued to watch with a silent, grim fascination, the muscles of her back tense with the expectation of pain.

    When it did not come, she clasped her hands together to smooth her thumb over the unbroken plane of her palm. Her soot-dark fingers smeared bands of black over her skin.

    She turned at Fabien’s protest. His evident unhappiness at the penalty she faced brightened her features. Her eyes gleamed in the dark. However, she returned to face Daima without breaking her silence when she rebuked him, clearly intent on the task at hand.

    At the girl’s request, Colome hesitated for the first time. She dropped her eyes. It was only a heartbeat later before she nodded once, and, with effort, tucked her arm into its sleeve. The motion was familiar to any woman who had attempted to remove a chemise without taking off her outer garment and after a moment her arm returned and she pulled down the loosened fabric of her collar, baring her smooth neck.

    The unveiling of the cream skin of her throat and the gentle slope of her clavicle to the ball of her shoulder felt intimate in this half-lit space. She remained still, dutifully exposing the flesh as she had been asked. But her eyes had left Daima - she looked up to the rotted ceiling, gaze skyward as though there was something unscrupulous in this particular demand that grated uncomfortably at her ability to bear it.
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    Fabien

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    Re: ** Interlude 6 - Not youth itself thy clemency can gain; vigorous and strong, by thee untimely slain.

    Post  Fabien on Fri Nov 09, 2018 1:40 pm

    A hush had fallen over the assembled group, the low chatter that had filled the dark corners had softened into a pointed silence. The dull rustle of fabric and drag of bottles across wood fell still as gang's attention sharpened upon the broken-voiced girl, and the boy who had seemingly returned from the dead.

    The close proximity of the Daima to Colombe obscured most of the grim details from the feral-eyed urchins view. But their ears were sharp to any sounds of pain, or any sudden panicked regret from the stranger. No doubt it had happened before, as the blade had come close, and they were hungry for a death.

    The darkly attired leader raised her knife, and the blade drew in close to Colombe's exposed throat. There was no tremble in her hands, but a look in her hurt eyes that suggested some dark thought passed through her mind. That in that moment, the vindictive girl  was considering how easy it would be to slice the stranger's life away from her, and in doing so punish Fabien by inflicting a pain that was half equal to what losing them had been.

    When the blade finally touched the girl's skin, it made three thin lines from the curve of her shoulder, to above the rise of her collarbone. The urchin leader was practised, and the wounds would no doubt leave a distinct, but not inelegant mark. Each line was no bigger than a pauper's match, and spaced together they were not unlike what prisoners might use to record the passing of days upon a rotted cell wall.

    As soon as Daima was satisfied, she began to back slowly away, the tip of her blade darkened with blood, and Fabien advanced in her place. He came with the sound of tearing fabric as he tore a strip of his shirt to press against his friend's shoulder, and soak up the blood that threatened to pour angrily from her cuts. From that point on, the grey-eyed youth would not leave her side.

    The group's leader continued to back away, swiping her weapon on her thigh. Her hard, scrutinising gaze was still on Colombe as she gave her final demands.

    “Give writing to the fruit-seller girl he was with today. She works for me. One of many.” She paused, and her eyes moved toward Fabien.

    “Any news... about Jehan, it is invaluable to me.” Her voice cracked softly with emotion, and the girl shook back the short crop of her hair to regain her composure.  

    “He said I was a fool for rescuing you. He said you would bring only sadness to us. But it was my mistake to make, and-”

    Daima continued to back away into the shadows until she had found the edge of a rotted chair, and folded into it. Victoire came and settled at her side, resting her head upon her leader's knee.

    “I am glad you are not dead, Fabien.”

    It was impossible to see whether she smiled, but some slow movement of her hand suggested she blew a departing kiss in his direction.

    “Leave. Now. I will expect your writing.”

    Fabien sought Colombe's hand in the dark, and tugged it gently to encourage their hasty retreat from the squalid rookery.  But as he turned to depart, a small hand was upon the hem of his ripped shirt. The pale haired boy turned, his storm cloud eyes pinched with sadness. The boy other hand was outstretched, and a filthy pack of playing cards was held fiercely in his grasp.

    “I kept these safe for you, like you asked.” He rasped, his tears cutting rivers through the grime of his cheeks.

    “Ah, but they look comfortable in your hands. They fit perfectly.” Fabien whispered, and his hands moved briefly from Colombe. “And if these do not now, they will in time.”

    He shrugged out of his finely tailored coat, and removed the soft leather boots that encased his feet. Both items were hastily bundled them into the arms of the thin little boy, whose face suddenly illuminated like a lit match. He nodded through his tears, and held his prizes close to his chest.


    “Merci, Daima. Come, ma chérie.” Fabien murmured anxiously.

    The pale haired boy once again urged them towards the ragged cloth that served as a door And then beyond that, out into the cold night, and toward what they might have called a home.
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    Tariq
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    Re: ** Interlude 6 - Not youth itself thy clemency can gain; vigorous and strong, by thee untimely slain.

    Post  Tariq on Sun Nov 11, 2018 1:37 pm

    Colombe did not cry out. She did not turn away, did not so much as flinch when the blade’s sharp point touched her collar. She remained unmoving, dark eyes fixed on the ceiling as though in prayer. Her breath hissed shakily through her nose as the knife scored measured lines in the canvas of her skin. Had Daima chosen to slit her throat, she would have found it a simple undertaking.

    When Daima withdrew, some of the tension in the girl’s body bled away. She lowered her head and half-bowed, the beginning of a curtsy, as though in thanks. Her fingers crept up as though to inspect the cuts but shied away from the torn skin.

    She meekly accepted the torn cloth from Fabien’s hands and absently pressed it to the wound. The thin fabric quickly darkened with blood. When she righted her collar, a small black spot swelled at the shoulder of her dress.

    The bloodied girl leaned wearily against her friend’s side as the urchin leader listed her demands. She nodded to show she’d understood, yes, she would do as asked. Strands of chestnut-dark hair had slipped free of her disheveled bonnet and clung to her flushed cheeks.

    She watched, listened to Daima’s words, but did not speak or move until Fabien gently tugged at her hand. Then she turned, led as easily as a lamb through the shadows, until their passage was halted by the boy. She scrutinized him, but her eyes were empty of recognition.

    She did not protest as her friend shrugged off his coat and boots. One would be forgiven for thinking she did not quite grasp the transaction taking place before her.

    The air beyond the meager cloth door chilled her cheeks, but was sweet and refreshing after the stifling press of so many bodies in the gloom. Darkness doused the street. Lights bobbed across the city like playful will-o-wisps. Colombe moved quickly on these unfamiliar streets, silently, one hand pressed against her shoulder and the other clasped tightly in Fabien’s.
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    Fabien

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    Re: ** Interlude 6 - Not youth itself thy clemency can gain; vigorous and strong, by thee untimely slain.

    Post  Fabien on Sun Nov 11, 2018 3:51 pm

    Fabien kept his friend's hand clasped firmly, and walked hastily out into the night. His pace soon slowed to a half limp, as his feet which grown accustomed to warm, wooden floors began to protest their treatment.

    The urchin did not speak, his eyes remained fixed on the far distance as he continued to stumble on, retracing their steps. Every so often one hand shot out aggressively, and swept away the path of tears which streamed over the sharp curve of his cheeks.

    Their return journey was a miserable one. The darkened streets had transformed from living and inviting into a place of a myriad of dangers. That golden, soft afternoon light had been chased away, replaced with such thick fog, the streets were barely discernible. Shapes moved in that gloom, filling the air as they passed with drunken threats, and ill humoured jeers.

    The pale haired youth pressed on, his hold on the girl growing ever tighter. Soon his conjurer's fingers would grow too firm, crushing the hand he held to like a sailor clinging to a fallen comrade.

    When the street grew quieter, the youth broke the silence between them, and spoke without turning his head or removing his eyes from the curve of the street.

    “Do you remember the night I first came to that house, Colombe?, I had only just left the-” The youth flinched for a moment at the recollection, like a dog remembering the sting of a whip. “-the whorehouse. And I asked Monsieur why the rooms were so empty, why the staff so few, a big house like that.

    And he told me about your family, that there was a boy who lived there once, and he had died with his father. He told me that the house fell into his hands after, and-”

    Fabien's voice faltered, and he exhaled a shuddering breath.

    “-I did not ask much more, not after that night.”

    Their path drew them back over the arch of the bridge, their steps disturbing the ghostly blanket of river mist which clung to the wet stones. But here at last the youth seemed to relax a little, to not search each corner for potential threats.

    “I know that these clothes are his, I know that.” He murmured, and tugged unhappily at his ripped and bloodied shirt with his other hand. “As is that room.”

    The boy stopped suddenly and turned to face Colombe, his eyes reddened by tears and half obscured by the tangle of his blood encrusted hair.

    “What you said back there, we would be dead were it not for you. But what you said about... that you talk in that way, your voice-”

    The boy lowered his chin, his head close to hers, his feline-sharp eyes searching her expression desperately in the half-light.

    “He... did that to you, Colombe? Made it so you cannot speak? Was that truth?”
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    Tariq
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    Re: ** Interlude 6 - Not youth itself thy clemency can gain; vigorous and strong, by thee untimely slain.

    Post  Tariq on Sun Nov 18, 2018 8:17 pm

    At the pricking point of Daima’s knife, the pair had moved outside the circumference of the map that Colombe carried in her head. Even had these unfamiliar streets not been doused in the thick fog that muddled form and cast confused shadows, it was doubtful she could have easily navigated her way back home. She accepted Fabien’s lead without complaint or question, matching his pace when he began to hobble on bare feet.

    The girl’s eyes were glassy and unfocused. They remained on the stones beneath her feet. She did not protest when the boy crushed her hand between his, although her fingers fell slack in his fierce grip like the head of a dove whose neck he had wrung. The voices that jeered at them elicited as little response from her as the murmur of the chill wind as it swept around the corners of shuttered buildings.

    It did not appear that Colombe had heard Fabien when he broke the miserable silence that clung to them like the fog. Her gaze remained blankly on the street ahead. The hand not in his hung limply at her side, occasionally sneaking to her shoulder to prod absently at the cuts from the blade, worrying it like a tongue jabbing at a rotted tooth to make it ache.

    Her expression did not change when he spoke of her family, of the dead brother whose torn clothes he wore. It was only when Fabien halted and turned to face her that she seemed to return to this dark street.

    Her gaze slowly trailed up to meet his eyes. Something in them caused her to look quickly back down at her feet.

    She could not ignore him when his tear-stained cheeks were so close to hers, but she turned her head sharply to avoid his desperate gaze. She shook her head, rolling her shoulders in a shrug as though to say what does it matter, what does it change but with his face so close to hers, he was bound to see the sharp scrabble of pain written in her features.

    She shook her head again and then again. Her shoulders began to shake. She lifted a hand to brush a stray curl of hair from her eyes, caught a glimpse of the raised wound on the boy’s throat and froze.

    Colombe stood silent and still, clenching and unclenching her fists.

    She met his gaze for the first time, her eyes wide and wet. She stabbed a finger at him, at the scarlet bite on his neck, and then spread her fingers wide in an inquisitorial gesture. Her arms were trembling.

    It did not require a voice to understand what it was she was asking - although there was no accusation in her eyes, only a childish frustration that seemed to say tell me what he did to you first.
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    Fabien

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    Re: ** Interlude 6 - Not youth itself thy clemency can gain; vigorous and strong, by thee untimely slain.

    Post  Fabien on Tue Nov 20, 2018 3:03 pm

    At his friend's distress, the boy's slender fingers instinctively reached out for her, desperate to offer some comfort.  But when Colombe gestured instead towards his throat, the youth's hand moved there, feeling over the wound that was still tender under his touch.

    Suddenly the boy's demeanour changed, his muscles grew tense and eyes wide like that of a startled hare.

    This time it was was the grey eyed urchin's turn to avert his eyes.

    Fabien inhaled a sharp, shuddering breath as his trembling fingers sifted through the bloodied, tangled golden clumps of his hair. The words did not come easily, and when they did, it it was like he extracted them from his throat with force. Several times his lips parted as if he meant to begin, and then with a sharp breath severed the thought on his tongue.  

    “He bit-” He began at last, and then shivered and pinched his eyes shut.

    The boy's head lowered so that his hair fell heavy across his sharp profile.

    Non. I asked him to bite me.” He continued slowly, still unable to meet his friend's eye. “He asked me if he could, and I said-  I offered and I-

    -And I wanted it, Colombe.”

    The youth continued to rake his fingertips across his scalp, the drag of his nails hard enough to brand angry lines upon his skin. An unhappy, mirthless laugh escaped his thin chest, and he dared to raise his eyes back to meet hers. But his unhappy gaze did not linger long, and he turned aside once more, his expression pinched with shame.

    “Jehan was- was my my best friend-” The boy's voice broke, and he moved a hand to his chest like one sealing a wound which has just reopened. “And I would have died a long, long time ago were it not for him, for what he taught me out here.”

    “And with what you said back there- you are the only friend I have left in this world and- if that is true, if he hurt you like that-”

    The boy drew a fresh breath, his throat tight with emotion.

    “I – I think maybe there is is s-something wrong with me, Colombe. Just... s'il te plaît... ne me déteste pas. I do not think I could stand it.”

    Afte the words had left his throat, the urchin clenched his teeth together so firmly they began to hurt. He was silent then, waiting for the deep ache of his misery to pass. But the tears still came heavy and unrelenting, and the boy could not tell her much else.
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    Tariq
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    Re: ** Interlude 6 - Not youth itself thy clemency can gain; vigorous and strong, by thee untimely slain.

    Post  Tariq on Sat Nov 24, 2018 8:35 pm

    Colombe’s chest heaved with her breath as she awaited a response to her silent question. Her pupils had dilated and her eyes were black. She did not interrupt his struggle to find the words to describe how teeth had come to score his throat.

    When the answer finally came, his voice halting and the words black with shame, they did not appear to sink in. She remained still and silent, her breath hissing out her nose. But at his confession of having wanted to be bitten, she recoiled, stepping away from him as though she had been stung.

    Her eyes had widened in perfect bewilderment. Her lips were parted and her mouth was a bruise in the dark. The shadows of evening that blanketed them both mottled her skin and cast dark hollows on the wrong parts of her clothes, her hair.

    When Fabien continued his desperate exposition, the girl shook her head, eyes liquid in the gloom. Her breath had quickened until it beat a frantic rabbit’s rhythm in her chest. She shook her head again and turned away from him, her hands flying to clap over her ears.

    The line of her silhouette wavered. It was quiet enough now, with the fog swirling in serpentine swirls at their feet, that one could hear the quick keen of her gasping exhales as they bordered on a sob.

    She stood in the street, unmoving as a pillar of salt save the seething of her fast breath. It was impossible to tell if she was still listening, if she could even hear him with her palms pressed flat over her ears.

    It did not take long, however, for the worst of the storm to pass. The boy whispered his final plea to the uncaring plane of her back, but soon after Colombe’s breath began to slow. Her hands fell away from the sides of her head to dig into the back of her neck. He could not see her face, but her shoulders had stopped shaking.

    A moment of silence passed between them on the street. A faceless voice called to a companion somewhere in the fog. In the distance, a dog’s bark was followed by a shout.

    Colombe wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. The air had grown cool enough that her shaky breath left her lips in a soft cloud.

    When she turned back to face him, she did not meet his tear-drenched eyes. The dark blood staining her dress was like a flower pinned to her chest.

    She did not speak when she stepped toward him, did not answer his question or make any demands. Instead, fumbling in the dim light, she found his elbow with fingers cold as stone and used it as a guide for her hand to slip down his forearm and into his hand. Her gaze remained averted but her grip was firm as she clasped his hand in hers.

    She had nothing left to say. With her teeth clenched and jaw fixed, she set off once more in the direction of home.
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    Fabien

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    Re: ** Interlude 6 - Not youth itself thy clemency can gain; vigorous and strong, by thee untimely slain.

    Post  Fabien on Sat Dec 01, 2018 2:56 pm


    Fabien was still and silent, his grey eyes transfixed on the trembling figure half obscured in the fog. The boy's breath was ragged in his chest, and his body half hunched forward as though something within it has become slack. At the girl's clear distress, the hand upon his chest tightened, pulling taut the thin fabric and bunching it into his fist.

    His other arm hung limply at his side, and when the girl first reached for it, it was as cold and lifeless as that of a corpse. But as her touched moved across his skin, the muscles softened, and the boy released a low, unhappy breath.

    The boy swept an affectionate thumb over his friend's hand, and kept it tightly encased within his conjurer's fingers as they walked.

    This time he allowed her to take the lead, their feet once again carving a path through the clotted trails of mist that clung to the crest of the bridge. The boy did not speak, and kept his head low so that his features were half obscured by the tangle of his hair. Soon they had began to navigate their way through s those streets more familiar to Colombe, until at last the dark shape of the house with its perpetually darkened windows crept into view. Here the urchin broke the silence which hung heavy like a curtain between them.

    “It will be good to get warm at least. I always forget now, how cold it is.” He murmured softly.

    He sped a glance over his shoulder, at the fog lined streets they had just moved through like ghosts returning to rest. The boy's pace slowed, and he attempted to slow their pace with a gentle tug on the girl's arm. His eyes were dark with concern.

    “Do you think we will be alone? We should look some more, at that wound Colombe, when we are inside.“

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