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Thread: [M] In Excelsis Deo [Ashen & Hannelorian]

  1. #61
    The Ashen One
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    Sam followed Genevieve out of her house to meet with the neighbors, and when they reached their destination, he drew a small breath and tried to straighten his clothes. He had seen Genevieve’s neighbors before, but this felt different. He wanted to make a good impression, wanted to show them that he could be trusted, and he needed to look the part. Sam didn’t have much time to think about what he would say or do before the door was swinging open and an exhausted-looking woman was greeting them.

    Elizabeth Parker. Sam filed the name into his memory and greeted her with a warm smile a handshake, and a polite, “Nice to meet you, Mrs. Parker.” He took note of the way Genevieve acted around her, as if the two had known each other their whole lives. Maybe they had. Sam was quick to correct Genevieve when she tried to give him full credit for the soup. “She grew the vegetables,” he cut in, “and helped me harvest them, and even taught me how to cook.” He followed the women inside the house.

    It was weird in here. Even beyond the smell, gross and rancid and far from healthy, there was a strangeness in the air that felt thicker the further into the house Sam got. He shifted his weight, palms growing itchy with sweat, before shaking his head and letting out a steady breath. If he really wanted to do this, help people, help the sick, then he needed to not let himself get queasy. Reminding himself of why he was here, Sam nodded and thanked Mrs. Parker before cautiously following Genevieve to the owners of the home.

    He could tell which room the couple was in long before the door was opened. The air was bad in here, to say nothing of the wretched smell or the sounds of painful, gasping breaths. Sam tensed again, but he sucked in a breath and tried on a new smile. When he walked inside and got a proper look at the people in the bed, he felt acid clamor up his throat, and he swallowed it down forcefully.

    Sam barely heard Genevieve’s blasphemous exclamation; he was so focused on these people, or perhaps corpses, tucked miserably into their bed. They were so fragile, so thin and decayed, and Sam too cursed the god who could do this to anyone before instinctively mentally apologizing. He glanced over at Genevieve to share a look of horror, but she didn’t seem the least bit perturbed by this scene. Was it possible she was so used to this already? Or was there something else muting her response? Sam felt awful for thinking so, but he continued to watch her, trying to guess at her motivations for being here. He had thought they had had the same selfless idea, but now… Sam wasn’t so sure.

    When Genevieve called to him, Sam snapped out of his stupor and walked to the woman lying in bed. “Hi,” he said, his voice clear but gentle. He wasn’t even sure if the woman could hear him, but he thought it important to speak to her anyway. “My name is Sam, and I’ll be staying with Genevieve for a little while, so that makes us neighbors. It’s nice to meet you.” He smiled, even though the woman’s eyes were pinched shut and she couldn’t see him. Sam peeled the sheets off of her and hesitantly looked around the room. “Is there a clean blanket we can give them,” he mumbled, uncomfortable at the thought of digging through a stranger’s things. He turned back to the woman and shifted. What exactly was he supposed to do?

    Sam guessed that caring for the sick was probably a lot easier for people who knew what it was like to be sick. He flitted by her bedside, cursing himself for his sudden paralysis. Sam shook his head. He took in his surroundings, the woman’s condition, and tried to go from there. She was shaking, and when he put a hand to her face, she too was burning up. Sam noticed the window, and he walked over to open it. With any luck, that would get the stale air circulating, help relieve the rancid smell of the place, and maybe even help the couple breathe just a bit easier.

    When he got back to her bedside, he noticed a half-empty bottle of lotion on the nightstand. “Do you mind if I put this on you?” he asked, grabbing for it. The woman didn’t respond, of course, but Sam opened the bottle anyway. The lotion smelt vaguely floral, and as he massaged it into her hands, he tried not to wince at how deep the cracks in her fingers were. To Genevieve, he asked in a light voice, “How long have they been like this? What’s causing it?”
    Thanks to Craze for the beautiful Bravely set!

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  2. #62
    The Grey Lady
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    Genevieve heard the request for a clean blanket and quietly left the room only to appear a few moments later with a clean blanket in hand. Carefully and with Sam's assistance the two would discard the soiled one and replace it with the one she had just brought into the room. As Sam had noted Genevieve did not seem particularly distressed or indeed affected at all by the condition the couple were in, nor by the smell of things. She was entirely indifferent, as though either hardened, or simply she was a brave soul. In reality, neither scenario was particularly true.

    "It's been some weeks now. Three about." She answered the question rather calmly as she watched him massage the lotion into the deeply cracked hands, the skin too had grown thin, almost like paper. It was clear that these individuals were simply wasting away. "As for the cause... well, that too has been a controversial topic about town." Genevieve sighed and moved slowly to sit on the chest that lay at the end of the bed. She watched the dying couple without any particular sense of sympathy or compassion. Rather she viewed them as though this was inevitable.

    "Some say it's the sleeping sickness. Many years ago it swept through the town, putting the infected to sleep where they wasted away until their deaths. Never waking again. And indeed it does appear that this what has happened." Another sigh escaped her lips as she shifted her gaze toward the open window and the light that was flooding through it. The fresh air was a relief, the morning breezes were cool and carried on them the scent of freshly cut grass and flowers from the assorted gardens of the neighborhood.

    "Sort of like a plague, but it seems odd we only have two cases... and therein rises the more popular theory." Genevieve seemed to purse her lips for a few moments. "That the devil did it. A demon, something foul from the fires of hell." Seele ensured that Genevieve had no discernible reaction to this statement, it was simply as though she were relaying the facts as she knew them, pieces of idle gossip from around town.

    "Can you imagine?" Genevieve shook her head and rose to a standing position. "I think the people are looking for something, anything to blame, and this gentleman here wasn't exactly well loved... but the devil? Demons? Even I think that's a step too far." She could have brought herself to giggle, and she almost did. But then again appearances were everything and for the moment it was in her best interest to simply exist. "What do you think? I suppose that surely if your kind exists... so do the others."
    Thanks to Hayabusa/Ryoku for the set.

  3. #63
    The Ashen One
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    Sam listened intently to Genevieve as she answered his questions and shared her theories. He was still unnerved by the level way she spoke, or the nonchalant way she glided about the room, like she didn’t even notice the death and suffering around her. Sam glanced between her and the dying couple, his teeth sinking into his lip. His gut had often led him astray in the past, but still. Something definitely felt off, and it was starting to make Sam uncomfortable.

    The idea of a plague doing this kind of damage didn’t make much sense to Sam. Genevieve wouldn’t have willingly led him into a room of contagious people, and if they had gotten sick from the water, or food, or local animals, then surely other cases would have cropped up by now. He looked over the couple again. Their breaths were imperceptible, their bodies so frail, and their expressions were already of another world. Even if it was a natural sickness, what sort of god would let this happen to his beloved people? The blasphemous thought poked at the back of Sam’s head, angry and insistent and impossible to ignore.

    Genevieve’s next theory caught her attention, and he startled, turning to her with arched brows. “Demons?” he repeated, trying to imagine it. What business would demons have in a place like this? Maybe that was a silly thought; Sam knew demons didn’t always follow his sort of logic. They got a kick out of torturing and harassing innocent people. He’d been told it was akin to the satisfied feeling angels got when they protected someone. Or, the feeling other angels got, Sam thought bitterly, since he had never quite fit in with his brethren. Could a demon really be using this sickness for their own selfish satisfaction?

    He nodded solemnly. “Demons are real,” Sam asserted. “We’ve—that is, angels have been at war with them for a long, long time. Sure, it’s possible—“ And it would explain the suddenness of these conditions, or the unique, directed ways they manifested, or the suffering they caused. “—but I struggle to see why a demon would want to settle here. I don’t know what use a friendly town like this would be to them.” It was an unsettling thought, that one of his new neighbors could be someone other than who they seemed. Sam shivered. “Though,” he thought aloud, “maybe that’s why they’re here. Since this town is so unassuming, and peaceful, it could be an ideal place for a demon to corrupt.”

    It was sickening. Sam wanted to have faith in his gods, in the angels, and know that they would not let a demon poison people like this, but the longer he looked at the couple in their deathbeds, the more uncertain he got. It wasn’t like god and his angels could have eyes everywhere, Sam reminded himself. Or, it was entirely possible that his god knew, and didn’t care, and had even sent Sam here deliberately to succumb to the last angel who had fallen from grace.

    Sam glanced at Genevieve again. Her lack of reactions in this room, and the calm way she relayed gruesome, awful details… No, it was ridiculous. A demon wouldn’t have been as kind and generous to him as Genevieve had been. Sam scolded himself for suspecting her for even a moment. He turned back to the elderly woman in bed and wiped at the drool forming on her lip with a towel. He sighed. “I haven’t been here long enough to know for sure,” he said. “I used to be able to detect demon auras, but that was probably taken from me during my fall, so…” Sam hesitated. “I don’t know. But if it is a demon, I’d like to try to help banish it. I haven’t been here long, but even I can tell these people are too kind, and too good. They deserve better than…” His gaze found the couple again. “Than this.”
    Thanks to Craze for the beautiful Bravely set!

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  4. #64
    The Grey Lady
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    Genevieve moved almost silently to a chair in the corner of the room and sat herself upon it, pulling her legs up and adjusting them to rest beneath her. For a few moments, perhaps a long few moments, she seemed to stare blankly at the couple in the bed, no visible emotion registering on her face. She was perfectly calm and placid, as though none of this troubled her in the slightest. Perhaps it was worth it to be more considerate of her outward appearance. The conversation on Demons, now that was interesting. The first few breadcrumbs had been cast onto the ground by the Demon herself, and yet... she was somehow irked by all of it. Bothered, unsettled.

    "A town only looks unassuming." She finally lamented. "It's deceiving you know. Smiling faces." A deep and bemused sigh escaped her lips. "They lie." There was a shift in her tone, one of sadness perhaps. "Judgment, that is our gift from God. Everyone in this town has made a judgment on every other person. Decided who is worthy of help, who is not. Who do you say hello to? Who do you ignore? Violence needs not live out in the open, but rather behind the safety of closed doors. The friendly baker." Genevieve scoffed, in a very real way passing her own judgment. "He'll always ask after you, your family. He'll ask how the kids are doing in school. He remembers every name, every face." Genevieve adjusted herself in the chair a bit uncomfortably. "But did you know he cheats on his wife? Every Thursday."

    The true faces of the people of the unassuming town were just like those anywhere else. "No demonic corruption or influence is required for such a misdeed. Lust, a deadly sin, is enough of a temptation." Now she finally rose from the seat and moved to stare out the window as the clouds had gathered and small drops of rain began to fall. "Do they deserve better than this? How can you know? How can you be so sure?" Genevieve cast her glance back at the couple in bed. "In his youth he killed someone They said it was an accident, but is it truly when you've been drinking? The ugly truth." Genevieve made no attempt to look at them again. There was no anger in her voice, no sense of sorrow or grief. She simply remained matter of fact.

    "Is he worthy of survival? Or would the world be better off if he crept silently into the after life? What if the corruption is already here, and a Demon was simply drawn to it? Or what if there are no demons all, only people doing terrible things to other people. Where was God to protect any of them? To guide their consciences cleanly? Where was God when my husband died?" Genevieve sighed once again moved to the side of the bed, to stand above the woman with her shallow breathing. "Is death not a mercy?"

    Genevieve's head cocked to the side like a curious animal and slowly she reached down and stroked the woman's hair. "Would it not be a welcome liberation? Or is the thought that her soul could be condemned to hell too much to bare?"
    Thanks to Hayabusa/Ryoku for the set.

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