Description: The Vignettes of Wandering Squardsmen: To be, or not to be, that is the question; Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them?
Domonkos just needed to take a break.
He didn't know how long he had been wandering the back halls of Castle Alucard. He was with his squard for a while, the Gamma Squard. See, the Patriarch, after his run in with that- that horrible man in the tacky raincoat, he was acting weird. He was acting weird even before it, but they were all going to go to Castle Alucard, and just start pillaging and robbing the place. ANd it started out okay, especially when the music started to play. But the music stopped a long time ago. And you know, that's when he started losing people. For a while, it was just him, with Zoe, and Lili. And he ended up making a turn around a blind passage too early- he was going too fast again, and he turned too early. It's the same mistake, every time. And when he looked back, when he walked back, he saw his mistake.
And they were gone.
He didn't know how long they were gone, but the hallway has been going for a very long time. There had been no windows. No doorways. Just banner after banner, art piece after art piece where the glowering gaze of Alucards look down upon him with contempt. He didn't feel hungry, he didn't even feel all that tired, I mean he felt tired, but he didn't feel sleepy. Just exhausted. But not hungry. Not thirsty. And even now- even now as he sat beside the suit of armor, he could hear them up the hall. Just up the ways a bit. He could hear Zoe, and Lili. They had been out of sight for so long, how long? How long have they been just out of sight? He leans against the wall, his dark crimson body suit wrapped around his narrow frame, as he stops to catch his breath, to stop and think.
To stop and close his eyes.
Where had they go? Where had anyone gone in this awful place, so cavernous and dark, the only light those ever-present torches giving an imitation of life and occupation. It was if the portraits gazed down on, contemptuously. Judgmentally.
What awful company to keep.
Zoe and Lili conspired back and forth, their voices whispers even though there was no one to hear them but those awful portraits. As Domonkos approached the conversation dropped like a Reverie romance. The two women looked at each, then at Domonkos. Lili with her high cheekbones, her thin face, her straw-colored hair.
And Zoe, lovely Zoe, raven-haired, shorter, fuller faced, but not unattractive. The mole beneath her lip gave her character.
The two stood silently, glancing at each other, then at Domonkos, like there was something being said in the silence between each glance. Was it always so hot in here, so oppressively humid?
And then, Lili giggled
Suddenly, it feels hot.
Domonkos didn't understand why it was so hot. He felt his knees turn to jelly. He tries to push off against the wall, but he can't. He breathes hard, struggling under his mask. But he found them, he finally found them, and they were- they were coming upon him. Domonkos couldn't stand up, his body felt weak. He wanted to say something. 'Thank the Patriarch you found me!' or something. But he felt so smothered, like something was on his chest. He claws absent-mindedly at his suit.
But when the giggling comes, his heart sinks.
"Oh, no, they are probably calling me 'squirt' again." Domonkos sighs, his voice finally finding sound, as he starts taking off his mask and unzipping his jumpsuit a bit. It was so hot, so humid. He wasn't supposed to take his mask off, but he felt like he could breath. And yet, he felt so strange. Tingly. He takes long heavy breaths, as he tries not to cry. Maybe it was all just a prank on him. They only waited until he was too exhausted to chase after. He tries to raise his voice, but he can't. It's so hard to raise his voice all of a sudden, as he feebly calls out to the girls.
"Zoe… Lili... Please stop laughing and come help me up..."
"What is it, Domonkos?" Zoe spoke up first, almost skipping over to wrap her arms around his. Lili flanked from the other side, quietly, wringing her hands in front of her, wiggling a little in place. Zoe squeezed his arm tighter.
"I think Lili has something she wants to tell you, Domonkos. Something about that mean ol' nickname people call you." Zoe grinned a little too widely, a Cheshire cat in the dark hallway.
"Go on, tell him, LIli. He's listening, aren't you, Domonkos?"
"Ugh, I can't -bear- this anymore!"
Nadia had a lot of troublemakers as a corporal; she always seemed to get the worst working under her. The short-haired raven-haired commander hadn't seen any of her soldiers in a while. She got seperated, but whatever, they would find her. Like this one. She found this one slacking off in a bedroom, taking a nap on a poster bed. Right when they were supposed to be looting a pillaging. At least that's what she thought- She didn't remember how this one came to her.
Or did Nadia come to her?
It didn't matter though. Nadia knew this guard was nothing but trouble. She had all the telltale signs: White hair, that ever present arrogance. "I can't -stand- girls like you!" Nadia seeths, as she shoves the woman back. "Wipe that smirk off your fee- face!" She snarls as she starts taking off his mask and unzipping his jumpsuit a bit. Why was it so hot and humid?
"You better drop the bratty 'but actually' act, before I start getting real rough with you!"
"I'm just saying," the younger woman brushed back her silvery hair with a flourish. "That I'm tired of walking, so I took my boots off. See?" The mature teenager lifted one leg up high, extending a barefoot to make it clearly visible to Nadia. The girl wiggled her toes slightly.
"Can't we take a break for just a little while?" She spoke with maturity, wisdom, even, despite her age. Nadia might have her beaten in rank, but the white-haired, barefoot woman clearly knew the limits of her unit's stamina. If they kept walking, they'd no doubt be underprepared for an ambush.
"Why don't we sit down a while? Once we recoup," she stretched her leg high with a bounce of her well-developed features. "We can start again, yeah?"
Nadia sneers, as she drops the mask to the ground. "What a -lazy- little brat you are!" She starts to stride up, pushing the girl down. Driving a boot down, she pins down those little toes, giving a deep snort as she gives a disgusted sniff. "The only thing you should be doing is cleaning yourself! Haven't you ever heard of basic hygiene?! You disgusting piglet! You can't cook, you can't clean, and you whine at the first sign of work! I've had it!"
"It's time to teach you a lesson!"
"You nasty little brat!" She growls as stands assertively over the white-haired lady. "You are going to sit down, you are going to have to work for it!" She growls suggestively, as she grabs the younger woman by her hair. "You are going to agree right now, that you are going to do everything I tell you from now on." She pulls up, sneering sadistically at her latest toy.
The white-haired teen whimpers, as she foot is stepped on, pinned, and then she's grabbed by the hair and almost pulled off the ground by the tug. She wiggles and whines, reaching up desperately to take hold of Nadia's hands and try to get her to let go.
"Let me go! I don't want to!" she protests weakly, in an imitation of resistance. A pitiful mockery of a fight to make the conquest feel like an actual battle.
She looks up at Nadia, her eyes welling up with tears, her bosom straining her shirt, her feet exposed and bare.
"But it's so hot!"
"I can't believe my luck!"
Sanyi wheezes, his buck teeth stretching over his smile. "First Chun Li, then Aussie Spangles, and finally Mai Shiranui all were just hanging out at Castle Alucard all this time? All my favorite fighters are here in Castle Alucard?" Sanyu dabs his brow as he stares. He hadn't seen anyone in, what was it, months? Weeks? Days? Time seemed so arbitrary since he got separated. And then, when he reached what looked like... was it a boudoir? Or was it a fighting ring? The glitz and glamor of trophies and golden gloves around the silk-sheeted ring, filled with pillows and with a full mirror over it. And in there?
Some of his most favorite fighters of all time.
"And they all are so -hot- and interested in not only me, but my knowledge in fighter trivia?" Sanyi states out loud, scratching his oily hair. "I... this... this is too good to be true. This -is- too good. I can't believe this. Maybe- maybe this is a trap-" He sputters, as he takes a step back. He starts taking off his mask and unzipping his jumpsuit a bit.
Why was it getting so humid?
"Oh, Sanyi, baby, forget that Andy Bogard loser! Let's spend more time together. Tell me a bit more about the origins of the tessen fan!" Mai Shiranui looped her arm around the man's, pushing her bust against his shoulder.
"Oh no, he's going to tell me all he knows about Tai Chi," Chun-Li said, sliding up next to him and taking the other arm with a cute little tilt of her head.
"Hoi, not before he tells me about his favorite episode of Fight Hunter! Blimey!" Hayley Bretherton inserted herself, trying to wedge Mai out of the way with her bottom, an act that quickly turned into a hip-based shoving match between the two ladies.
Was it always this easy?
Sanyi can barely resist, as not only Mai abandons her lifelong and well documented obsession with Andy Bogard, but Chun Li was practically -begging- to learn more about her martial art of choice? Even Hayley was so thirsty for Sanyi's encyclopedic knowledge about Fight Hunter. As they begin fighting over his attention, he could feel his body becoming weak. He almost wanted to get his camera out, and start taking pictures. And they would let him. He almost has his mask off all the way, his mind becoming utterly absorbed in the beautiful reality around him.
And yet, it couldn't be real.
As Hayley unleashes a hip bump playing out just like one of his RP sessions in the discord for r/wombooty, Sanyi struggles, forcing his mask back on. He stops unzipping, as he pulls away, slipping away from the ladies as they fight. "I- I think I better go actually." He sputters. "I'm not all that interested in- in all of this, you all seem so busy-" The lies come out unconvincingly and freely. He just had to go back the way he came, he just had to start running. And yet, he couldn't look away from them. He keeps backing up until- until he walks into something. Or someone.
Slowly, Sanyi turns around, looking behind him.
"Heyyyy," a blonde woman in an orange tanktop suddenly wrapped her arms around Sanyi, getting him in her grip. Too tight of a grip. Why was it so tight, so hard to breath suddenly? She shoved him forward, right into the arms of a wrestler with blonde pigtails, who likewise grabbed him in a tight grip and suddenly and violently lifted him him up into a bear hug.
It was so tight, and so heavy. Why was it all getting so heavy?
"So you see, you, a circuit's completely optional."
Gyuri chatters hastily. He didn't talk much, well, he never found anyone comfortable to talk with. Most of the girls didn't like his, well, monstrous features, to say the least of his interests. But at the top of the tower of Castle Alucard, he found someone different. Someone he felt comfortable sharing his deepest, most intimate interests. And once he opened up, he couldn't stop. He runs his hands on the laminate board, finishing up his soldering. "Once you get a Transceiver installed, you just need an Antenna setup, and that's how you get a working radio. Even a tuner is completely optional. But you know, if you want to go all the way." He chokes, dropping his voice once again in a whisper.
"We could get the complete kit all together and go all the way."
"If that's something you'd like."
"Oh, I'd like that, Gyuri," the dark-haired Guardswoman said, leaning in toward the board and smiling pleasantly. "I'd like to go all the way."
"Can you show me the solder again, please? Here?" She stuck her hand forward, taking his for guidance. She slide closer for a better angle, pushing closely to the other Podiebrad.
"Thank you again for showing me. You're so smart about these things. I'm super excited!"
"Gosh" Groans Lujza, as she finishes her cooldown stretches in her workout shorts and shirt.
"I can't believe it after working out for so long at the academy gym," She begins, rubbing her calf gingerly. "That I would go and pull a muscle. And I'm so sweaty too." She was having trouble focusing through the pain; she normally worked out with her other squardmates, even Teca, but it seemed it was just her today. She limps over to a nearby private office, where even through the frosted glass, a shapely silhouette stood by holding a large syringe.
"I hope the school nurse is free to see me"
Through the door, the school nurse was indeed waiting, her classic uniform like a time capsule from somewhere else. Perhaps a movie, somewhere. In the back room.
"Oh, hello dear," the woman shook her blonde hair away from her face before running a hand through it. What looked like an oversized syringe through the window seemed to be an unusual lamp off to the side, if Lujza could focus on such a thing. The nurse's bosom pressed against the barely stable confines of her top.
"What seems to be bothering you?" she looked at the athlete over round spectacles sitting low on her nose. "Or should I just take a look and find out for myself?"
Lili was blushing bright red under her gas mask, as she looks up at Tsinghua.
The moonlight cast heavily upon the gazebo upon the castle courtyard, the hedgerows winding and winding into the maze. Lili was lost for so long in the hedge maze, so alone, and she just needed to take a rest. She was awakened by a familiar voice, a familiar person, a familiar presence. Dressed in her raven guard uniform, she breathes heavily under her gas mask, as she wearily wakes up.
How did he even find her here?
"Wh- where did you come from?" Lili stammers, instinctively flattening out her bodysuit as she tries to sit up. "Were- were you invited to the Rosalia too?" The young Podiebrad babbles. Adjusting her mask, she keeps breathing hard, the sleep and weariness still clinging tight to her head. "I- I'm sorry, Tsinghua, I'm so sorry." She just lets out instinctively, without thinking clearly. She lowers her head suddenly, folding her hands in her lap.
"Are you still mad at me?"
The Shadow of the maze's foliage was casting down upon the boy's small figure, but the moonlight was bright enough to illuminate most, if not all of his finer features. He was standing still, a few feet away- Looking down with a serene smile fitting perfectly with the beauty of his silken garbs. The moonglow was shining through the soft white cloth, as they rippled gently with the breeze.
"Did you rest well, ms. Lili?"
His voice was soft, gentle. He plucked a lock of forest green hair from in front of his eyes, to put it behind his ear. "I took the liberty of bringing us some tea, I hope you don't mind.." In his hand, he was holding a white pottery teapot decorated with swirling leaves, leaning forward to pour down a stream of tea to a matching cup that was sitting in the grass, in front of Lili.
"I was also invited, yes.. It was hard. It has been hard for both of us, I think.." In a perfectly smooth motion, he crouched into a cross-legged sit on the grass across from Lili, pouring himself a cup. "But it's safe here, I made sure."
He paused- It was lengthy, looking inquisitively up toward the moon-lit sky. "I was mad at you for a long time, yes.. But I just couldn't stay mad. I realized it was everything else there that made me so terribly upset.."
As Lili wraps her hands around the teacup, she begins to feel her heart soar.
"I slept- I slept-" Why did she sleep? She never wanted to sleep. It was getting so hard to breathe. She mindlessly begins to pull away at her mask, unzipping her bodysuit slightly. But not too much, just enough to get the mask off. Putting the mask to the side, she looks back at Tsinghua, her cherub cheeks covered with freckles. Her normally narrow brown eyes are wide, and reveal themselves around a crimson face, that was blushing faintly. Mouth agape, she feels her chest pounding as Tsinghua gently tells her what she wants to hear.
What she needed to hear.
"I'm sorry." She begins to apologize, the apology briefly getting caught in her throat. She looks down at the swirling tea, still blushing, her legs bent under the bench of the gazebo. "I'm sorry my family treated you so horribly. No, it's been all my fault, you should be mad. I should have been stronger. I should have stopped it, and not let the arena become so- acting like apes! Like monsters. You are so sweet and gentle, and treating you like that was the greatest mistake I've made. You are a good guy, Tsinghua. And..." Her voice gets caught in her throat. And she pauses.
"C-could you sit next to me, pl-please?"
Tsinghua's twinkling light brown eyes peer into Lili's, as the mask comes off. "Ah, it is good to see your face, ms Lili." He comments, cupping his cup with both hands as he brings it to his mouth, taking a short sip of the hot liquid. "The warmth on your hands is nice, no? It is one of the little things I enjoy about tea.." His soft, reassuring voice was an attempt to comfort the uneasy Podiebrad.
And he listened intently to her heartfelt apology, nodding softly as the honest, yet not overbearing, smile was maintained.
"Y-you flatter me, ms. Lili." He chuckled, resting his hand against his chin and glancing away. The air of embarrassment that he exuded made it seem so genuine. "Perhaps there is truth in your view of the events, yet, whatever the truth may be.."
"I forgive you, ms. Lili."
It was said with such conviction, such reassurance. "Your family indeed did awful things to me, but I don't think you are like that- at all. I hope you can believe that yourself, and even if you can't, just know that I think so.."
With the Raven Guard's request, the boy looked surprised for a moment- But he nodded, and stood up. A faint blush spread on his smooth cheeks as he took the few steps necessary to cozy up beside her- Looking down into his cup. "Will that suffice?" He asked, his hands cupped over his own hot drink.
Lili felt hot. Tsinghua was giving her everything she wanted, and so much more. She felt so light now, so free. The shame, the guilt, the pain was all washing away. Everything was more perfect here right now, in the garden, in the hedge maze, at the gazebo. She could just stay here forever with Tsinghua. "The warmth is- the warmth on my hands is so good. My hands feel so cold, and- and I would like to warm them. It's almost... it almost will suffice."
And she averts her eyes, as she releases one hand from the cup.
"You could... if it isn't too much. " She babbles out, as she reaches the hand over. "If I would have your permission, I- I would very much like to- like to hold your..." Her finger tips come just short of touching Tsinghua's fingers. So close to very lightly to hold his hand. It was perfect. IT was a perfect life, it was a perfect dream-
And she draws back her fingers.
"No, this isn't right." Lili gasps, struggling to breathe still. She puts the teacup down next to her. "This isn't right at all. This doesn't make sense. I need to get moving. I need to find my Squard." She palms around for her gas mask. She needed to put it back on. She turns her back to Tsinghua, as she straps in her mask. "I'm sorry, but thank you for the tea, but something is wrong here Tsinghua. We've been separated from each other, I need to find my family. No matter what they did, I still need to help them, I need to-." She sways, weak and dizzy as she stands up. She felt like she was falling now. But why? She could breathe again, but why was the strangest thought passing her lips.
"I need to wake up...?"
"Mine are too.."
Tsinghua commented shyly, fidgeting a little as he clamped his cup tighter. He looked nervous, like a high schooler on his very first date. His slender fingers tapping on the pottery rythmically.
And as she began to lead into her would-be-request, Tsinghua gazed into her eyes with his own. They were beautiful. Large, but narrow, and angled down slightly. A bright brown with a noticeable spark, a liveliness. "Take your time." In reference to her stumbling, he reassured her:
Everything was going to be alright, and there was no need to haste. No need to do anything except be here, with him.
The blush on his cheeks deepened, as he understood her request- "W-Well.. I couldn't refuse such an ardent-"
'No, this isn't right.'
His nervous expression froze.
And then, as if a switch was flipped, it twisted into that of sorrow, as he looked up toward her with a pleading look. "Y-You're not serious right, ms. Lili?" His fingers reached upward, attempting to take hold of Lili's hand in a swift, desperate motion. "You're not going to leave me again, are you? I felt so alone in that arena- So hopeless. Truly, utterly hopeless- Made into nothing more then a show and target for a jeering Audience.."
Sniffling loudly, he began to tear up.
"And you didn't help me, ms. Lili- And that broke my heart, it truly did. And now that I've forgiven you, you would leave me again? How could you be so cruel!?"
If his fingers had managed to take hold, his grip would tighten- To an almost uncomfortable degree. "Please, please reconsider- I don't want to be alone again.. please.. please.."
It was so much fun to hurt them, thought Alajos.
The darkstalkers, the prisoners. No, they weren't really prisoners, any more than any animal that you caught in a trap. They were prey. Beasts. Animals. But animals didn't have curves like that, oh no. They were human enough, for what counted. The New Patriarch always tried to suppress those old appetites. But Aurel, his grandfather always showed how deep and delicious satiating those appetites could be. How free and fulfilling it could be, when you were so reckless. Where you can choose which ones would live, which ones would die. And how they would live, and how they would die. That look in their eyes at the sheer helplessness, the raw fear as their life and their death truly depended on you. How sometimes they forced a smile. And he found it. Here in Castle Alucard. There is no hesitation as Alajos strips away his mask and armor. It was was time to eat.
It was time to dine upon the Buffet of Flesh.
"You know Amandine, if you keep pigging out like that, it's going to be impossible to fit you in a corset!"
Thus sneers Elek, as he watches the ladies, non-Podiebrads from rival families, filling their maw with plate after plate of carnal sweets. The Podiebrads goes from girl to girl, each one dressed in bib and floral jumpers, as he serves more cakes and puddings. One of them makes a vague, muffled sound, and Elek shrieks nastily at her. "You're one to talk too, Belladonna! You might think you are going to plump out, but you are nothing compared to the thickness of those hefty Karnstein ladies!" Elek snickers as he gets the little spoon ready.
"Now who is ready for more rice pudding?!"
"You'll never make me talk!"
Treven writhes in the dungeon of Castle Alucard: the last thing he remembered was a rush of gas in the room. It must have been a trap, maybe sleeping gas. But now, he was in some strange dungeon. But when he awoke, he was deep in the depths of a prison, a dungeon. He was stripped completely naked, and felt the cold rush of a water hose blasted all over him. Cruel mercenary women were all around him, sneering and leering threateningly at him. Utterly helpless, he could feel their taunting eyes, their cruel sneers, their mockery. He was powerless. But even in his most cowardly moments, he was fighting back. And yet, he can't help but let out a whimper.
"I mean, pl-please don't make me talk?"
Each image flashes faster and faster, a blur that spins and churn. Moments. Segments. Incidents. Each one ebbing and flowing across the vast and infinite web that connected each and every Podiebrad. Each one unique and personalized. Each one different.
But in each one, there was something lurking, like a shadow on a curtain. Like something that was seen briefly in the corner of the eye and gone when one turns to look.
It crept through the shadow of Alajos, through the eyes of his captive. It danced through the torches.
It shimmered in the light off a plate and off the sugary sweet surface of a candy.
It whispered in the vents of sleeping gas, in the hiss of the hose.
And in each, that sea green, briefly visible, and the faint beating of bats' wings.
Log created on 14:42:18 06/29/2022 by Bela, and last modified on 21:58:31 06/29/2022.