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The woods hadn't changed in the span of their conversation, and yet Evike sensed that something was desperately off. Her silent footfalls took her further away from the pool as her faerie lights again gathered in her coat, beading in her fur and feathers like pale stars. Though she'd retained her cool for the most part, and no blood had been drawn, weariness settled in her bones like lead. She wondered, as she wandered, where she might nest for the night, not particularly fond of the idea that she'd be within his realm. The woods were vast and likely full of many inconspicuous spots for her to bed down, but the trick would be in finding them.


Pushing through a thicker wall of brush, she found herself crossing another silvery clearing where one of the ancient evergreens had fallen. She leaped upon the fallen trunk and used it as a bridge to navigate over a deep rut in the earth, pausing halfway to squint at the shadows, almost positive she'd seen them move. Slowly she drew herself up, her head raised and wings pushed out from her body as she gripped the log with her claws. Was this another of his misguided pack come to see who had called their alpha? Evike bristled slightly, not having wanted to meet his companions so soon.

Such was obvious as she dismounted the log with a short glide to solid ground, turning to walk away into the woods again, away from the perceived movement - she stank of Odysseus and yet walked these lands, so perhaps that would be evidence enough that she belonged in the capacity of having a right to lurk here. Perhaps it would be enough to put off any unwanted interactions for the night and allow her a nice, mind-clearing rest.  
<div align="center"><div style="width: 498px; border: 1px solid #ffffff; background-image: url('http://i.imgur.com/YanzEdr.png'); background-position: bottom center; background-color: #273c48; background-repeat: no-repeat;"><div style="padding-left: 30px; padding-right: 30px; padding-bottom: 525px; padding-top: 30px;"><div style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 11px; line-height: 14px; color: #dedcdc; letter-spacing: .5px; text-align: justify;"> the soprano that beckoned her protege <b>{</b> and in tones so <b><i>authoritative</i> }</b> had not eluded the tenacious ghoul’s attentions <b>;;</b> and yet, her looming entity had been <s>uncharacteristically</s> autonomous from the fledgling sovereign’s. the spindly fingers of <i>impatience</i> mercilessly grappling with her poisoned psyche as she awaits the presence of the unnamed perpetrator with rigid poise and prying intent -- <b>keen</b>. serrated nails kneading foreign soil as she ponders the prospective association between odysseus and his herald <b>;;</b> she so oblivious to their budding <s>romance</s>, so oblivious to the UNRULY demeanor of her son’s supposed <i>slave</i>. but the queen is not as malleable as her <b>KING<i>!</i></b> and her manner much more <i>callous</i>. the susceptibility of potential manipulation quite marginal in her reigning cynicism and impassivity -- virtually <u>unbreakable</u>.

and it is as the silence fragments that the elysius withdraws from contemplation, nostrils quivering to indulge in the alluring <b>{</b> and <i>unfamiliar</i> <b>}</b> fragrance that invades her surroundings and arouses her curiosity. rugged appendages duly impelling the ghoul in the direction of the object of her pursuit with silent footfalls and fractional stealth. she so furtive in her approach despite the radiant halo emanating from her amazonian physique -- and in a fashion that only <u>enhances</u> her spectral exterior. confidence <b><i>bleeding</i></b> from every pore embellishing her pale flesh as her frigid stare fixates upon the nubile form of an acolyte. her brindled beauty enough to stunt lascivious men in their saunters <b>;;</b> and yet, the phantom merely seeks to <i>devour</i> the distance lingering between them with elegant strides. her countenance the reflection of complete indifference as diligent pupils seek to interlock with that of the winged nymph’s -- <b>stagnant</b>. 

<font color=a16f6f>“you are the <b><i>TOY</i></b>,”</font> the ghoul insists as she identifies the stench of her protege laden heavily upon the woman. her skull canting in slight as a smirk threatens to encumber frayed lips <b>;;</b> but it is ultimately <i>denied</i> leeway as she <b>{</b> temporarily <b>}</b> suppresses the adamant urge. <font color=a16f6f>“-- are you not?”</font>




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So it appeared she wouldn't be allowed the peace she sought, a pale shadow breaking from the trees to meet her, wrought in shining silver and heavy, muscle-packed limbs. Briefly, her eyes narrowed as she sized the spectre up, her head drawn up to mirror the pride with which the silvered bitch carried herself, her wings smoothed about her as if a stately mantel, for she would not easily fall into the cliche of a broken spirit, cowering from any and all that she met, not when she was so much <I>better</I> than them. Perhaps she was larger, her body devoted quite obviously to a life of war and violence, but Eve could not find it in her to bow and submit.

A wary sort of acknowledgement lived in her eyes, but there was no fear as she maintained a level gaze with the bitter Lady, her lips twisting with a patient sort of amusement as the accusation of being little more than a bauble of amusement for the blood king lanced through the air. Perhaps such words were meant to carry deadly barbs, or perhaps they instead were asked in sincere curiosity, but there was little Evike could muster in reaction save to put on an outward face of grace and allow the insult to drop, disarmed and unaccounted for, at her paws. "Is it toys that bid their master? Forgive me - I was an only child so perhaps such familiarities are lost on me, but I always assumed it was <I>I</I> that dictated the behavior of my entertainment. I don't recall being called to fetch by fallen leaves or shining beetles." Her head would incline gently toward the pale Avelorn, her brow lifted in such a way that suggested her response was simply innocent banter, despite the unruly weight to her words. Evike blatantly had denied her rank (or the lack there of) and fully intended to maintain the charade of freedom until it became reality.

"Certainly," she continued, her chin lifting again, her voice gentle and amicable though with almost absolute certainty she would just as soon see this woman dead. "Certainly we can pretend that the call of such amusements were inexorable, but in truth we made a conscious decision to obey such desires."
<div align="center"><div style="width: 498px; border: 1px solid #ffffff; background-image: url('http://i.imgur.com/YanzEdr.png'); background-position: bottom center; background-color: #273c48; background-repeat: no-repeat;"><div style="padding-left: 30px; padding-right: 30px; padding-bottom: 525px; padding-top: 30px;"><div style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 11px; line-height: 14px; color: #dedcdc; letter-spacing: .5px; text-align: justify;"> <b>OBSTINATE<i>!</i></b> and it is portrayed in her regal poise. she who reluctantly adorns the <u>collar</u> and skews its representation into that of a <i>golden diadem</i> in a manner so characteristic of the delusional. impudently refusing the tether that binds her to her subservient status as she perpetuates the unison of their gazes and assumes the carriage of a <b><i>Q U E E N</i></b> in the presence of her phantasmic superior. and artemis diligently conceals the ignition of her own temper beneath an impassive guise as she anticipates wayward tact and mannerisms from the oppressed with a withering ounce of <s>tolerance</s>. sardonic amusement the favored facade that contorts her pallid visage with the hint of a crooked <b>grin ;;</b> and yet, it ultimately <i>fails</i> to meet her mismatched gaze in inharmonious fashion. her stare the arctic gale that endeavors to <i>strip</i> the brindled beauty of her supercilious pretense and leave her with naught but a harsh reality of inferiority and vulnerability. <b>{</b> for she is the one in <b>shackles<i>!</i></b> and the elysius will avidly fulfill her duties as a <i>WARDEN</i> to ensure obedience persists. <b>}</b>

saccharine tones so <i>beguiling</i> infiltrate the momentary silence of their surroundings <b>;;</b> a blatant denial of <u>inferiority</u> to their king coloring her enchanting croon quite <b>dangerously</b> -- as if to indicate odysseus’ susceptibility to womanly persuasion. <b>{</b> that it is <i>he</i> who is <u>her</u> toy<i><b>!</i> }</b> and a monotonous chuckle reverberates from the phantom’s larynx as critical pupils briefly trace each curvature of the nymph’s physique -- she the calculating <b><i>predator</i></b> who acknowledges <s>dangerous</s> and intelligent prey. and thoroughly ENGROSSED with the thrill of <u>challenge</u>. <font color=a16f6f>“ah…”</font> the ghoul tuts as her chortles subside. <font color=a16f6f>“but i did not specify <i>whose</i> toy, my sweet,”</font> she chides as her chin inclines smugly. delight discernible in the depths of her gaze yet vacant in her expression as apathy wholly <i>consumes</i> her countenance once more. she so cultivated in the mechanisms of hierarchy and her authority as nekros’ lady -- authority she would sooner assert over the less <s>informed</s>. <font color=a16f6f>“perhaps odysseus polishes his possessions, but you will find that it is not a mistake made twice,”</font> the ghoul apprises, the severity of her cadence unmistakeable -- factual. the urge to enlighten her <i><u>king</u></i> of his grievous error steadily increasing as the encounter between lady and unruly slave progresses. <b>AND YET</b>, the opportunity presented before her too <i>tempting</i> to surpass <b>;;</b> that which keeps the elysius anchored in the presence of this snake in wolf’s clothing and with an aura of palpable intrigue.

<font color=a16f6f>“no ----- the toys <b><i>i</i></b> keep are discarded when they fail to amuse me. perhaps, in this sense, i am quite the <b>B R A T ;;</b> and unashamed, i must admit,”</font> is the drawl that cascades from <s>unslaked</s> jaws, carefully laced with the threatening promise of <b>tyranny</b> and <u>abuse</u>. a nonchalant shrug lifting broad shoulders as if she were debating the menial. weight shifting forward abruptly as the ghoul attempts to lay waste to the remaining distance looming between them with languid and methodical strides -- sluggish and brooding. celestial lenses smoldering with fervency as if she were attempting to submerge herself into the nymph’s very <b><s>soul</s></b>, unabashed and unyielding. <font color=a16f6f>“i admire your retained pride despite your withered status, little trinket,”</font> is the double-edged praise that smoothly drifts from her <i><s>forked</s></i> tongue as she gazes down upon the harpy. <font color=a16f6f>“i would never expect the delicate flower -- <i>so easily plucked<b>!</b></i> -- to be this… willful.”</font>




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Threats and backhanded compliments fell like rain, and yet she'd yet to give a rise, merely allowing her expression to mirror the same numb disconnect that she'd noted in the ghost's own mismatched gaze. She became as ice, or perhaps more rightly steel, an unyielding front to the prospect of real danger. With an almost feline grace, the Lady of Nekros approached her, closing the distance with soft, thick paws. Evike made note of her claws, vicious scythes that peeked from her digits with each down press of her paws, just as she made note of her immense stature. Her mind had already begun work battening down for the coming storm, though her body remained lax and at ease. "I would hardly call what he does <I>polishing</I>." Such an act was not meant to leave scratches upon the object of fancy, but rather remedy faults and flaw. Odysseus had only worsened her condition since their meeting, though it would soon be rectified. "Unfortunately for the both of us, <I>your</I> king is as stubborn as the day is long. Unfortunately for him, he strikes me as the sort to revisit his blunders which leaves you hopelessly... <I>jealous</I>, is it? ... when he blurs the line you believe divides us?" All pretense had left her voice by now as her tone and cadence mirrored that of the woman before her - cold and factual. She could play this game, if her Lady wanted.

If it was her soul that Artemis sought, she'd have to dig a little deeper. While Eve wore her spirit plainly upon her sleeve, much of her personality and being was a figment that depended on present circumstances to exist. Her whims and tendencies could be as mercurial as spring storms. But her soul? The very core of her being? In that capacity she was a different creature altogether. It was quite possible even she had no real clue as to what such a mysterious means of identification meant, as it was undeniably true that thus far she'd failed to express a capacity for self reflection. Such realizations struck too close for comfort as she realized she'd drawn a parallel between herself and the blood king quite unintentionally.

She hummed in acknowledgement to the woman's words, listening closely as she watched, searching for the moment when the bitch would strike as she so promised. "Such words strike me as a touch out of line, don't you think?" As the anticipated moment of violence drew closer, she tutted and chided, her expression and tone witheringly disinterested. "If Odysseus is your king, and I am the king's prize, it stands to reason that to damage his possessions is direct insubordination, is it not? He doesn't seem the sort to share, though I suspect you'd know that better than me. Wouldn't you, Figment?"
<b>[ ooc</b> TLDR: art continues to play the role of a playground bully. accurate. ALSO. cutting this thread short for the purpose of furthering the plot + to start the other thread! <b>]</b>
<div align="center"><div style="width: 498px; border: 1px solid #ffffff; background-image: url('http://i.imgur.com/YanzEdr.png'); background-position: bottom center; background-color: #273c48; background-repeat: no-repeat;"><div style="padding-left: 30px; padding-right: 30px; padding-bottom: 525px; padding-top: 30px;"><div style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 11px; line-height: 14px; color: #dedcdc; letter-spacing: .5px; text-align: justify;">the phantom is marginally <i>enraptured</i> with the winged harpy’s tenaciously gelid pretense <b>{</b> for it is an <s>imperfect</s> reflection of the refined guise laden upon her own countenance<b><i>!</i> } ;;</b> and yet, she is aware that it is only <u>just</u> that. an intrepid <b><i>FACADE</i></b> adorned with the intent to beguile and infuriate. that of which the tyrant queen can <i>pry</i> apart with a sadistic fusion of practiced brutality and inherent savagery -- battle finesse cherished, and harbored, and wholly <u>available</u> if only her temper would so callously <i>flare</i> beyond constraint. tepid curiosity accentuated in the ascending curvature of a singular brow as the serf refutes her theory with contemptuous sentiment, indicating prospective trouble in <s>paradise</s> with the dark titan. and yet, the ghoul is quick to disregard such assertions while the nymphet’s physique remains unsullied of abrasions <b>;;</b> a slave <b>UNBROKEN</b> if but ephemerally, and thus <i>polished</i> from the warped perspective of the elysius ghoul. 

bemusement manifests upon her visage <b>{</b> fleeting emotion distinguishable only with the slight cant of her thorned <b><u>CROWN</u></b> and narrowing of frigid gaze <b>}</b> as the harpy stresses ‘<i>their</i>’ misfortunes beneath the newfound reign of odysseus -- as if lady and <i>slave</i> possessed identical status in the tiered chain of command. a ludicrous presumption that extricates an incredulous scoff from the phantom. <font color=a16f6f>“unfortunate for <i><u>us</u></i>, my sweet?”</font> is the domineering interjection presented with practiced monotony. <font color=a16f6f>“i’m afraid odysseus’ acclaimed ‘stubbornness’ negatively impacts only one of us, dear girl. and, quite <b><i>fortunately</i></b>, it means you and i will become quite acquainted, does it not?”</font> she inquires with bewitching croons so <i>saccharine</i>. the promise of prolonged detainment a heavy shroud upon her vocals meant to asphyxiate the imprisoned with stern and inescapable truths <b>;;</b> truths that merely serve to <i>appease</i> the abusive tyrant who neglects the morals and remorse typically reserved for the common. velveteen nostrils thus flaring to expel an amused snort as the brindled beauty accuses her of envy -- unwarranted emotion artemis would sooner deny with silken rebuttal. <font color=a16f6f>“if i were <i>JEALOUS</i>, you would not be here, little trinket. the toy that displeases its master is broken, <u>discarded</u><b><i>!</i></b> don’t you recall?”</font> tut given in condescending fashion as feigned disappointment swarms the pale margins of her facial features. <font color=a16f6f>“and here i had you pinned as <i>intelligent<b>!</b></i>”</font> she exclaims with exasperation, vocals saturated with heavy sarcasm.

and the elysius’ amusement only <b>intensifies</b> as the harpy dare threaten her with the prospect of odysseus’ displeasure -- as if anticipating beneficial results. and while she may hold her protege in high regard, she does not <i>fear</i> his WRATH<b><i>!</i></b> and thus remains wholly unperturbed as the beauty attempts to admonish her for the lawful treatment of a petty slave. weight abruptly shifting forward in an attempt to lean into the girl’s personal proximities, intending to tease brindled flesh with heated breath. <font color=a16f6f>“oh my sweet, sweet girl…”</font> she begins upon a whimsical murmur as her right forepaw elevates with the hopes of hooking about the serf’s left forelimb -- and just beneath the elbow. ambitious in her attempt to wrench the beauty into her <b><s>murderous</s></b> embrace with nails partially unsheathed<b><i>!</i></b> aspiring to embed their jagged points into frail skin ----- a restrained prologue to subsequent violence should unruly conduct persist. <font color=a16f6f>“if you think <b>MY SON</b> cares for your well-being, you will find yourself highly <i>battered</i> and disappointed,”</font> she coos with finality before her pupils scour the beauty’s face in hopes of implanting its nubile features to memory. ascended forepaw returning to its perch upon the earth and an incline given with her skull. 

<font color=a16f6f>“until we meet again, little trinket,”</font> is the departing sentiment emitted before her robust form brushes past the other and into the direction of her <i>king</i>. vexation prominent beneath outward indifference and poise <b>;;</b> why hadn't he taken her insipid <i>TONGUE</i>?


<center><font color=a16f6f><b>[</b>   <i>EXEUNT</i> ARTEMIS   <b>]</b></font></center>


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Closer and closer still, the world grew smaller as her anticipation for violence tunneled her perception to naught but herself and Artemis. The ghoul seemed equally incapable of taking the other's words to heart, responding with insincere mirth to the mage's chiding... And yet the air seemed electrical between them, charged by their polarized points of view and misgivings, brought to life by the language of conflict. "I suppose it does." Evike's voice may have been soft, but as she had promised Odysseus, there was no need for violence when it came to her ire. She could communicate a razor's edge without so much raising her volume. Artemis meant to frighten her, Artemis meant to bully her, but alas all the mage could think was of how stubborn the pallid phantom was, and how small her toolbox must have been. "But I did not stutter, nor did I make a mistake." There were more ways to hurt than by tooth and claw alone.

Intonations dripping malevolence and insult flew in waves, washing over the dark woman, failing to unseat her unaffected countenance. It was the insult to her intelligence that brought about a lifted grin, in the end. Surely not the effect the matron had hoped to garner. Though the woman seemed coolly disinterested in discourse, the mage's responses came in where they fit. As the moment of anticipated pain came and passed, Eve's words came as a sardonic chuff. "Insults?" Insults were the crutch of the weak, and though she employed them at various points in time, she had never been so deeply married to them. Artemis, for all her pomp and the deadly circumstance, did not strike her as all powerful or even horrifically threatening. The white bitch, instead, may well have been grasping at straws, her aura of threat gradually diminishing. By a lack of follow up to her sickly sweet threats, Eve would caution the guess that her power was not what she believed it to be.

The Elysius matron was given no opportunity to yank her about - Evike could have easily stepped away from the grasping paw, trusting in her prenatural reflexes, but instead stepped into the embrace, expression vacating her feastreak It was now that she brought about Odysseus himself in contest to Evike's words of caution. The thought that the blood king did not care was not so devastating as Artemis might have wanted it to be - there was little doubt that, on a personal level, he had no interest in her, but alas the Lady had made another grievous error in running her words through whatever translator it was that she operated by. Odysseus did not have to care about her well-being - given his behavior she doubted he could - but he did have a horrifically possessive streak if he was anything like Rysc, anything like <I>herself</I>. Certainly she and Rysc had terrorized those they deemed as their own, but that was just it, rights to such atrocities were limited to them and them alone. Anyone that so much as breathed wrong found themselves swiftly reprimanded, or worse. Evike may have wanted to destroy her prince in the most complete fashion, but that would not stop her from tearing apart anyone that sought to beat her to the punch.

It was a moot point to clarify, in the end. The silver spectre was a stubborn old bitch, determined to defend her perceived authority to a bloody end. Evike had no doubts that her impression upon the woman had been less than flattering, but there was a minor success in it all that left her on a decidedly high note as her antagonist slipped away. She called after the woman and her farewell, bizarrely cheerful. "Until then, Figment." How strange that one could get beneath a ghost's skin! Stranger still that one could find warmth there, feeding like a tick on the agitation she'd caused. Another chuff of laughter crossed her lips as she returned to her task of finding a suitable nest - perhaps it would be a good night yet.

/fin