Description: Having been rescued by Lyraelle, Crock brings the demoness incognito to his priest. Yes, Crock goes to church. No, his priest isn't a nice man either. Because Crock brings Lyraelle to a very important and dangerous man, as strife builds between himself and his moral compass....
Crock promised a lot to Lyraelle, when she liberated him.
The kind of darkness that he embraced. The darkness that Lyraelle tasted. The anarchist was going to be freed, yes, in the most humilating way possible. But the mohawked punk with a scar in the shape of an L on his forehead had to take her places. There was a lot to expect on where and what Crock was associated with.
But Lyraelle probably didn't expect it to be a church service.
Crock wasn't dressed well. He was never dressed well, garbed in his nasty jean jacket and, uh, jeans. He didn't even have his guitar. But as he slips into the back, he takes the pamphlet shoved in his face, as he goes to take a seat in a pew in the back. The sermon was well on its way, with the blonde haired priest preaching to the flock. It was inspirational stuff. Real calling of the scripture. Crock didn't care. He wouldn't care. But he was polite. Very, very polite, by his standards. He kept quiet. He didn't start a scene. And he kept his head down. "Come on." He says in a low voice. "Take a seat, and keep quiet."
"He doesn't like scenes when he is working."
Standing on the threshold of the building housing the service, Lyraelle hesitates.
She's not dressed as her usual self - being a scantily-clad succubus with hot pink hair isn't the best way to avoid attention, after all, and while there's not much that the Demon Queen loves more than attention, neither the situation she's walking into nor the company she's keeping are things that she's sure about associating herself with.
Instead, she's currently wearing the form of a rather ordinary-looking young American woman, with mousy brown hair that's neither short nor long, eyes that are brown but not very, a nose that's tall but otherwise unexceptional. She's the sort of person one could easily miss in a crowd, herself wearing a jean jacket with a wool hood, skinny grey corduroys and a horizontally striped black and white long-sleeved shirt.
She's hesitating, though, as previously mentioned - staring at the scuff marks on the floor where the doors she's about to pass between normally rest when closed. Chewing her pink lower lip. She looks like any ordinary young woman, just this side of a teenager, first time on the front step of a church and unsure about what she's getting herself into. Finally, she takes in a deep breath and steps over the threshold with her right foot, then brings her left up to match it.
When nothing happens, other than perhaps a few strange looks from the other service-goers, the young woman breathes a relieved sigh, takes a pamphlet and moves a bit faster to catch up with Crock, plopping down on the pew next to him.
"Thought I might catch fire stepping in here or something. That would've been hella awkward," she chirps conversationally to Crock as she wiggles into her seat to try and get comfortable. "I almost gave you enough credit to think that was your plan."
"Brothers and sisters, remember," the priest speaks, his tone practically fatherly. Comforting, even. "We are all children of God. No matter what obstacles assail us, be they monsters," his voice rises like a flame starting in from a small spark. "Or wicked men, we must endure. No matter the trial. No matter the temptation. We must endure!"
His hair is blond along the top and almost spiky, then a darker brownish along both sides. Despite the hairstyle, his wardrobe is purely traditional. He's clad in a priest's robes, blue and white with a dark, purple-blue cloak held over his shoulders with brass buttons. He grips the pulpit tightly, his muscles tensing beneath his long sleeves. He clears his throat and the flame in his rhetoric, once rising, returns to a dull simmer.
"And what a time we must endure. What monstrosities lurk at the threshold, waiting to ravage the earth. Waiting to tear, to steal, to devour. How long before they are in our homes, in our businesses? How long before they threaten to take our livelihoods, our children, our very lives?" He goes quiet, a pregnant pause as the congregation stays hushed, dead silent save for a scarce murmur.
"But I ask you, my children, does any of this surprise God? Does any of this catch Him unawares?"
Crock almost lost himself, by the time Lyraelle takes her seat beside him.
There were no eyes on them. There was never any judgement amongst the church goers. Not even with the normal service. The punk was never was a spiritual man. He first came to these services to mock it. To ruin it. He was the kind of guy to heckle during communion. But something happened. Something happened then, just like how something happened with Lyraelle. Crock lowers his head, as the voice comes cycling through him. Turbulent waters, surging and ebbing and tumbling straight to his unhallowed cores. He deserved nothing, and earned nothing. These weren't his thoughts yet he was born with from the original sin, rotting and festering with him as he with those before him.
He draws in his breath, as he stares beyond the back of the seats before him.
"We are normal." He says out loud, stilted and trembling words. Crock's hackles were up. He was afraid of something that was not afraid. "We are normal, and he is speaking the truth." The punk's shell has been hollowed out. The spiritual awe was boiling out of him, across the floor around him. His hand was coming to his forehead, as he rocks in his pew. "I- I didn't know if you would burst into flame." He grits his teeth, as his nastiness tries to force out. A flicker of it. He can't help it. He leans over, whispering, breaking out of his terror.
"You know, cause you're a demoness and all."
"In your bases, killing your dudes," the mousy brunette mutters along to the sermon beneath her breath, leaning forward and propping herself up with her elbow on her knee and her jaw in her palm. Despite the words, though, she's definitely focused on the man in the pulpit - her posture as attentive as it is casual. Her eyes are fixed, until something from the punk on the pew beside her causes her to turn her head around sharply and shoot a sour look at him.
"Rude," she says as she jabs the point of her elbow into Crock's ribs. It's just the aggravated response of an ordinary young woman, not the wrath of a supernaturally strong demoness. She turns her eyes back to face forward, drawing in a breath through her nostrils before letting it out in a surly huff.
"Don't call me normal. That's just offensive."
The lingering pause continues, but the congregation does not answer. Instead the wait, hanging on every word and desperate for the next. The priest draws back slightly. His eyes search through the crowd, lingering briefly on Crock, then moving to Lyraelle. A small smirk passes his face for an instant, but then it is gone again.
"It does not! Nothing catches God unawares. All is part of his divine plan." The priest makes a sweeping gesture across the congregation. "But in truth, His plan requires His followers. He does not simply act, but instead empowers His faithful to enact His will. He empowers YOU to serve. He bestows His gifts upon those who are truly devoted.
The priest folds his hands behind his back, pacing away from the pulpit. He speaks without the aid of a microphone, it would seem. "He needs His faithful acting out in the world, pushing back the darkness, and paving the way for His glorious return." The priest raises his head, looking out at something unseen in the distance. "But until that day, you must stay vigilant! You must stay faithful! And, of course," the priest smiles. "You must share the good news of His glorious coming."
That was the short grunt in pain, as Crock rubs his ribs. It -did- hurt. But the punk wasn't really offended. He -liked- the mischief, and when the demoness isn't in the role of a dominating queen... it felt more natural. Maybe he was more natural too, when he wasn't an anarchist punk burning down society. "But you're so vanilla." Crock sticks his pierced tongue out at Lyraelle... before slurping it back in, as the gaze passes over him. He puts a hand to his chest.
He could feel it.
"You're listening to the sermon, right?" He whispers very quietly to Lyraelle. "I mean, it's not melting your ears out, right? It's important." He meekly glances his eyes up towards Goenitz. "It's very important. You'll want to repeat some of it back to him. It'll help." Help with what? He averts his gaze down again. "He knows. He is going to talk to you. Don't be afraid. Just... just be yourself." He says, as something -releases- around him. He relaxes, as a smile forces on his lips. "You can be yourself, no matter what you think he wants to hear." But the smile fades just as fast, as he rises up to a stand. He opens his arms, standing tall, looking up as he spreads himself open. "Instincts." That low, low drone rattles deep within him, that forbidden chi, so silent. He felt it. He felt the divinity. And he says it out loud, as no eyes cast upon him.
"I will share the good news." Crock says quietly, standing before the pew.
The brunette /is/ listening to the sermon, her eyes remaining locked on the speaker as he addresses the congregation. More than the words, she's focused on the person delivering them, the manner of the delivery - like an actor studying the part for a biopic. She doesn't even look back at Crock when he fires back at her, though she does lean back in the pew, crossing her legs and getting a bit cozier with the punk, encroaching on his space.
"You mean 'cause I'm so universally appreciated, or 'cause all it takes is a teaspoon to make the whole dish taste like me?"
She gives a sarcastic wink and smile to the punk rocker before settling her head back, leaning it a little toward her acquaintance - playing the part of a guest girlfriend or some such to any onlookers. She stays quiet throughout most of Crock's private speech to her, though she does have one question before he stands up:
"Which me should I be, exactly?"
She doesn't stand up when Crock does, instead shrinking away from the potential attentions of others - brown eyes turning to Crock, then scanning the crowd, then finally settling forward toward the preacher once again.
"It's so weird when musicians get religion," she quips quietly.
"Will the share the good news? Will you tell your friends, your family, your neighbors? Will you help to be prepared for God and His judgment?" The priest looks over the crowd again, almost pleading with his words now. "If you will not, who will?" He gestures, spreading his arms and holding his empty palms upward.
"Let us pray to God in silent reverence before the service is dismissed."
It may seem like an eternity as the congregation goes deathly silent, lost in prayer and mediation. The priest himself lowers his head in consternation, raising a hand to stroke his chin. When the time has passed, he lifts his head once more.
"May God's blessing be upon you. You are dismissed."
The priest makes his way down to a crowd, taking a book from the pulpit. People are already gathering to speak to him before he even gets away, but he meets them readily. Each is greeted with the sort of quiet dignity one might expect from a priest. Some seem to be asking him to pray for them. Others seem to have questions.
Crock doesn't respond, until Goenitz dismisses them.
Lowering his hands, he sticks his hands in his jeans pockets. Immediately, he sulks and scowls a bit. He doesn't snarl at the others for the meet and greet. But he doesn't get friendly, as he turns back over to Lyraelle. "Shut u-" He cuts himself short into a grunt. "Okay, we need to get in line. Be subtle when you talk to him. Like, you be- you be-" Crock squints, trying to figure out which you -did- he want. "Don't like... make a scene -now- in front of people. You can do whatever you want when he talks in private. He's going to ask -me- questions, but I will introduce you so he knows what's going on." Crock swallows hard, as he reaches his hand up unconsciously to let help Lyraelle stand up. He didn't even notice what was happening.
He wouldn't even notice until they got at the back of the crowd, what he was doing.
When the time comes for silent prayer, the brown-haired girl shifts a little, pushing up with her hips and straightening to elevate her eye level - the better to sweep her eyes over the congregation, studying faces, quietly gauging the crowd. It's not hard to tell that she's not playing the part of an active participant in the silent celestial exchange, but she's at least keeping her lips sealed out of what one might assume is respect for those who are.
The congregation rises, someone squeezes past Lyraelle's legs in their hurry to the front, causing her to press back into the pew and crinkle her nose in distaste at the view. She turns to Crock when he addresses her, taking in his instruction with a steady stare.
"Alright. I'll leave the introduction to you, then. You gonna make an identity up for me?"
She almost sounds hopeful of the idea. When he gives the inch of offering her a hand up, she takes a metaphorical mile - linking her arm with the punk's and walking in step with him, putting on a display of meekness, smiling shyly at any who are walking past - the occasional 'Hi!' or 'Hey!' offered to anyone who pays her attention.
The priest smiles at one of the congregants. "Of course," he says, "Her contributions are always welcome. I will pray for her swift recovery." As the man leaves, he turns to face Crock and his guest, folding his hands in front of him as he does.
"So good to see you, Richard. I hope you are well." He tilts his head, looking past Crock to Lyraelle. This close, the man has a sort of presence to him. A magnetism, almost, that seems just a bit unnatural.
"I see you've brought a guest. I hope that the service was enriching for you, miss."
Crock was Richard. He had corrected Goenitz. Once. He never corrected him again on it. He never would. Goenitz showed him how proper conduct around a priest was so important, especially when you cornered him alone after all the parishioners left and were gone. How he knew the name, well. It was part of the mysticism. So when Crock ignores the hi and hellos, his grouchy exterior bristling as he got closer and closer, Goenitz is finally there, and he introduces. "Yes! This is my friend. This is .. this is..."
"This is Christ-ine Shiro Sherman"
%Crock states with stilted pronunciation. "She is a friend. She's been..." Crock's eye dart to Lyraelle, and then to others around. "She's interested in the Holy Spirit, and she hasn't been baptized yet." Crock was not very good at being subtle. In fact, he was the opposite of it. And he was getting nervous, the crowd was making him antsy.
"Is this a proper place to talk about it though father?"
"It was! Especially the part about the monsters at the threshold, waiting to ravage and tear and devour. That part really spoke to me."
Christine's smile breaks through an otherwise-shy-looking front as she holds her hand out to the priest, a sense of barely-contained excitement exuding from her. The sort of thing one would expect from a socially awkward but secretly sweet-hearted young woman.
"You can call me Christie for short, like the Corpus, if you want, but I'm guessing that you prefer to be more formal, since you call Dick Richard and all."
Christine pats a hand against Crock's arm and gives the linked limb a squeeze with her own. She leans a bit more against the punk, as if trying to assuage the misanthrope's nerves.
"It's okay, Dickie. You don't have to be so nervous. We should just come right out with it."
Christine's eyes flick up to the clergyman's face, and she bites her lip for a moment before she finally speaks up:
"See, the truth is, Richard and I are going to have a baby, and we were really hoping is that we could get some counselling about it. It would mean a lot to him."
"Ah, yes," the priest says. "If Miss Sherman is shy, then--" His eyes follow "Christine" as she speaks up. Her hand goes out, but he raises one of his instead. "Oh, forgive me," the priest says. "I recently dealt with a cold, so perhaps it is best if I don't shake your hand. It wouldn't do to give you a cold as a gift on your first visit, would it?"
The priest chuckles to himself, but the woman's enthusiasm is unbridled. He doesn't interrupt as she speaks, and he manages a subdued smirk as she explains the nature of their visit a bit further. His smile remains pleasant, welcome. Free of judgment.
"Ah, of course. Pastoral counseling should, of course, be conducted in private. If you would follow me?"
He steps away from the crowd, moving toward the rear of the church to a doorway tucked toward the back. It seems to lead toward offices and small classrooms, but right through the door is a narrow, warmly lit hallway.
For a brief moment, Crock's face goes flush.
He was caught between three expectations. If he would just out and about, he would actually cackle at Lyraelle's quip. It was such a shitty play. The shittiest! The most shit that he would handle. Everything in Crock's instincts was pulling him to snarl and gnash his teeth. Roar with laughter, shove her around. Spit on the people staring at him who over heard. It was a lie, and a mean lie. And Dickie. He hated to be called Dicky. He didn't like it when people made fun of him, and he was going to pour out everything right back at Lyraelle. But that would embarrass the priest.
He did not want to embarrass the priest.
So instead, there is light giggling and -stares- as Crock is forced to just go along with 'Christine' admitting that she and him were going to have a baby. And to that, trapped and forced to stay quiet, the punk puffs up so much, he nearly pops his piercings out. Neck tight, he could barely breath as he follows, gagging as his stares bugged eyed back at Lyraelle. Yes, they were where they needed to be. And yes, Crock was embarassed. And yes, she had a talent towards social navigation. But once they were out of public?
He was very strongly considering to let his real self pour out straight at her, priest be damned.
"Oh, no problem! I totally agree. I'd feel really bad if I gave someone something the first time I met them," Christine says with a narrow-beam smile that turns briefly toward Crock before returning to the priest. "And, I mean, I'd rather not be any more sick than I already have been, lately."
The brunette falls a bit quieter as she walks along with Richard, leaning into his side a little as the two follow along after the priest. She runs one hand lightly along his arm, playing the part of the caring partner sensing her significant other's distress. "It's okay, Dickie. Just take deep breaths. There's nothing to be afraid of, right?"
The priest tilts his head slightly toward Crock, his eyebrow raising minutely. Subtly. Ever so little. He makes no comment, no quip. He doesn't rub further salt in the wound, but he seems to understand. Perhaps he knows more than he lets on.
Or perhaps he knows nothing. It is unclear. He remains facing away as he leads them through the hall, his back to them.
"Believers have nothing to fear. There is always hope. Always peace. If not in this world, then in the world to come. He reaches for a door, opens it, and sweeps his arm in welcome.
"Please," the priest says. "Go ahead and have a seat. We have much to discuss." The office space is small. Humble. There are two comfortable chairs facing a solid, oaken desk with a high-back chair behind it. High bookshelves frame much of the room.
'Dickie' breathes ragged, until finally, he comes into the office.
He would take his seat. He would just -barely- rip himself away from Christine's touch. Everything was so rigid. He was exhausting himself simply by walking. Stewing in that anger, that rage. He would wait until the door would -close-. Close tight. Before finally, he grabs his mohawk with both hands, and snarls as quietly as he can. His expression brings out the gnashing of his teeth. "I can't keep doing this." He admits, exhaling hard as he pulls strands of his matted hair out. "It's tearing me apart. I can't keep putting on a face in front of them. You know how hard it is not to start a riot out there? You know how much I suffer?" He lifts his head to the priest, and then Christine. "You were the worst, twisting my rib out there. I ought to smash your face in! You know what she did to me?" Dickie looks back to the priest, sticking a finger to the L in the middle of his forehead. "She did that to me! I'm going to start burning things down, and I don't know when I would-"
He suddenly stops, mid-sentence.
By the time that Crock interrupts his own rant, Christine is perched in the chair beside his, both her jacket and the striped long-sleeved shirt having been shed and converted to extra padding for the chair she's sitting in, leaving her in her corduroys and a bright green tank top. Her hands are crossed at the wrists over one knee, and her tone is full of pity, equal parts sympathetic and patronizing - and indistinct as to which half might be false.
"I thought we were all good now, what with me using that little reminder to save you and all."
The brunette's lower lip puffs out in a pout, her expression taking on the sort of playfully dramatic air that normally comes with confidence in looks more striking than hers or a strong sense of the theatrical. There's certainly no sense of the shyness or hesitation from the sanctuary to be found now as she turns in her seat to face Crock.
"You shouldn't be so hard on yourself, you know. I mean, putting on a face doesn't come naturally to everybody."
As she says so, Christine's lips curve just in the slightest toward the smiling side of neutral. She leans sidelong against the back of her chair, using her elbow to prop herself up. As she does, a ripple runs through her body - starting at the feet, travelling up her calves and through her legs and beyond. As it passes through her, the shape of her body shifts slowly, legs stretching, thighs becoming more sculpted, hips and bust growing as her body rapidly takes on a more defined hourglass shape. When the effect hits her sternum it seems to split, travelling along both arms and up her neck. Her skin appears paler and smoother, any imperfections disappearing, her shoulders broadening slightly to match her hips and arms taking on a more powerful appearance. A more dramatic change comes in the face - symmetry asserts itself, features shift, lashes elongate, lips become fuller, and finally, her eyes grow and her brown irises become a brilliant emerald green as her brown hair grows and shifts into a flowing pink mane.
And then, abruptly, two large, purple bat-wings sprout from her shoulderblades - luckily with enough room to take on their full span without knocking anything over before they fold inward again, since she's sat sideways on her chair. A moment later, a similarly purple spaded tail slithers out from between her clothes to flick in the air, and when she reaches up to brush the newly grown pink bangs from her face, a pair of black demonic horns are revealed to now be attached to the sides of her head, and her ears are shown to have taken on a pointed, elf-like look.
In total, the transformation from ordinary girl to Demon Barbie takes about eight seconds, and when it's finished Lyraelle has a smug-as-saccharine look turned toward Crock. She holds it for a few seconds before looking back and forth between the priest and the punk.
"Oh, that /was/ the cue to drop the pretenses, right?"
The priest steps slowly, sliding into the seat before leaning back and folding his hands and resting them almost lackadaisically on his lap. When Crock's tone changes, the facade goes away, the priest raises a hand, gesturing with a slight sweep. The lock on the door, heavy as it must be, snaps into place and, for a brief moment, there's a change in the air temperature as it a breeze just blew in. The window is not open.
"Enough." He raises a hand to calm Crock down. It is not threatening, and yet, at the same time, there is a sort of dread to it. "If you must let it out, do it here. The congregants are still useful here. There are certainly still some true faithful among them. They are becoming more desperate, and with desperation comes...zeal." There is something in the way he says it, the way he looks for the euphemism for a moment.
The priest tilts his head slightly, raising an eyebrow as Lyraelle changes form. He does not seem terribly surprised, or terrified. His expression is mostly curious.
"It seems that you two had an unusual first meeting. I must say, however, you have some talent at deception. Bravo." The priest smirks at Lyraelle. "Likewise, it seems you did us a favor by liberating -- Crock now, is it not -- from the hands of the NOL. As such, I will cut to the chase."
"I am Goenitz. Crock saw fit to bring you here after you helped him. Considering you are a Darkstalker, I have my doubts that you came here seeking to confess your sins to a priest." Goenitz smirks again, turning his hand in the air slightly as he speaks.
Crock doesn't waste any time watching the transformation.
It was an unavoidable darkness that the punk wanted to enjoy, even in front of the priest. By the time Lyraelle was done, that slimy sneer was wide across his face. But when the proper introductions begin?
that smile fades fast.
"I could have gotten myself out." Crock blurts out defensively. "I'm not some punk ass- sorry." He corrects himself swiftly, instinctively flinching. "She's interested in you and... And the Holy Spirit, father." Crock knew the spirit. It was shown to him "She's been... She's been like what happened to me." Strange words. "I did what I was supposed to, I didn't think she would get so... strong." Crock wanted to remain useful.
It was a promise of life and death, after all.
Crock didn't fully understand his words. He could only Intuit vaguely the new connection. "The holy spirit runs through her now as it runs through me. I didn't baptized her or anything, I just... Did what you told me." Crock trails off, his eyes still instinctively lowered. "She tasted the holy spirit from me." Crock swallows hard. Was it a euphemism? He lifts his head up, giving an arrogant sneer.
"She wants more."
A visible shiver runs through the pale demonette as she lounges in her chair in the moments after the door shuts itself, though the corners of Lyraelle's lips remain upturned in spite of her reaction.
"Oooh. Talk about having your timbers shivered," she says, seeming delighted. Her eyes turn to the punk rocker. "Do you ever throw a tantrum just to get him to do that? I know I would. Which is probably why I'd make a terrible minion."
The she-devil's attention returns to the priest, her green eyes focused - something covetous lying behind the smile on her lips.
"I don't normally go to confession, but I could see myself making an exception in your case. You've got just the right combination of superficially gracious and subtly domineering that gets my penitence riled up."
The pink-haired hell-maiden stretches her arms behind her head, not seeming especially penitent at all. "I'm sure that Crock has already told you, but I'm Lyraelle. He probably would've said 'that demon bitch' or something, but I'm sure that the conversation piece on his forehead probably brought up my actual name, whether he liked it or not."
She flashes a tight smile at Crock before looking back at Goenitz, her expression becoming a bit less smug.
"Crock agreed to introduce me to you on condition of me getting him out of the Librarian Lock-Up. He said you could explain more about this... -thing- he gave me."
Her eyes narrow a little toward the mohawked punk. "I didn't know the 'holy spirit' tasted like ozone and lightning. Unlike my usual flavour of sunshine and brimstone."
The priest, Goenitz, raises a hand when Crock corrects himself. "So I understand." His eyes narrow, shifting from Crock to Lyraelle.
"You have considerable potential," he says. "It's rather impressive to draw so readily and so deeply from that power." A confident smirk crosses his face. "But it's even more interesting that you came here seeking more." The priest folds his hands in front of him, narrowing his eyes at Lyraelle. He looks at her carefully, almost as if he's starring through her as he appraises her.
"Tell me, what is it that you think you've found?"
Lyraelle taps her lips with one glossy fingernail as she sinks back in her chair, her eyes turning off to the empty space to one side as she appears to weigh her response to the question.
"Mmm... if I guess right, do I get a prize?"
She lowers her arm back to rest beside her as her eyes turn back to the priest.
"Let's say I'm your typical home appliance. People are like batteries. Most are shitty little triple As or something. Some are like nine volts. Feeding on Crock was like getting plugged into a live socket, but, obviously, some loser eating garbage in a gutter isn't the power plant in the metaphor. He's probably more like a rusty fusebox."
The demoness offers a faux-apologetic smile and shrug to Crock briefly before she looks back toward the preacher. Her eyes narrow slightly.
"So, my guess is, you're at least a transformer. I know that there're other people out there who've been exposed to what I've been exposed to. I want to know what the hell the power source is - and why it's making my mojo fritz out."
A loser in the gutter.
A piece of Crock revealed in the insult. He was a loser eating garbage in the gutter. But he remembered that moment like it was, well. He touches the scar that was burned on to his mind. Shaped like an L. He looks over at the priest. He didn't really know about the power in detail. Just that the priest gave it to him, and if he didn't let his energy out with his instrument? It would blow out his marrow from his bones. He had touch with his earth chi before; but the sonic chi was what was new, what was granted. Lyraelle put it like electricity, but for Crock? It was totally different. It might have been different from person to person.
He didn't know what he was going to her.
The priest was so unpredictable. Even Crock, who liked to imagine he was a real agent of chaos, couldn't see himself comparing to the man. Crock remembered his original encounter with him. Well, parts of it. Some of the details were gone now. He didn't know why they were gone. He never worried about why, because worrying about blackouts was a thing his music career shook out of him. He looks back to Lyraelle, however, when she describes the whole transformer thing. And then, Crock finally realizes he can make an input on this.
"Because it's part of you now."
Crock quickly looks back to the priest. "You told me about that, with me. She has the same thing I have now. I didn't- I didn't baptize her though, or anything. She just started having it like me, like the others." He doesn't mention -who- the others were. But he felt like he needed to make it clear. "I was doing what I was told, I promise. I just fought her, and she latched on me, and drew it out of me. I- I thought it made her special." He lowers his head. And then, it slithers out. The bitterness, the venom. The rebellion.
"I mean, you don't tell me why I have to do this."
"You have a talent from metaphor," Goenitz says with an amused snort. "But perhaps you're not too far from the truth." Her reaches up and smoothes out his hair with one hand before adjusting his collar. There's no tension there. No trembling or sweating. It seems to be habit or routine. Perhaps it is the movements of a man from whom appearance is everything.
But appearances are deceiving, as the saying goes.
When Crock speaks up, Goenitz's eyes follow his voice, sliding half-lidded.
"Drawn out," the priest repeats, slowly. "Heh. Very interesting. So you took some power from Richard," the priest continues, "as I'm certain you've taken from others. This was different. Mysterious." He pauses with a smile. "Desirable. Is that right?"
The pink-haired succubus stands up with a deliberate languor, stretching her arms over her head as she rises up to her feet. She's still not as tall or imposing as the priest at his full height, even counting the tips of her horns, but it's a shift from coy repose to a more assertive stance. She approaches the desk, her tail swaying behind her with the sashay of her hips until she swings them sideways and plops them down on the corner of the desk, lounging more aggressively now on the verge of the priest's own domain as though she were a militant nation intent on staging a border incident.
"I did, it's true. I mean, everyone gets a junk food craving now and then, don't they?"
One of her hands rests on the desk's surface as the demonette's spaded tail slithers over closer to the priest.
"Part of me found it /very/ desirable. I could barely restrain myself, but then I reminded myself that I shouldn't be eating too much of something when I don't know where it's been."
The other hand sweeps the succubus' bangs away from her face as she leans closer to the priest, only for them to spill back into place again.
"Not to mention he was begging for it. Literally. I could show you how it works, if you like."
Show him how it works.
Crock doesn't stand up. But the look on his face as he glances between the priest and the devil, well, he felt a pressure on his soul. He snarls a bit, as the priest doesn't -bite back- when he jabs him. Weakness, did he smell weakness? "It really hurts, like, it's -attacking- you. She's a predator, father." He growls, eyeing Lyraelle cautiously. "But she's addicted, father. She's not gonna stop unless she's cut off cold turkey. You could probably deny her. She deserves a little denial!" And something shifts a bit. A distant, almost spiritual guise comes over Crock. "I mean, it's not going to be a problem very long... right?"
He leans forward, almost in reverence, at the suggestion of such vices and suffering ending soon.
"It's fascinating, isn't it?" the priest continues. "I am certain someone like you has many ... dishes, available, and yet here you are because you have found something more tempting." The priest smiles. "Even if you don't know where it's been."
Goenitz does not flinch as Lyraelle moves closer, but his eyes follow her with muted interest.
"Perhaps some other time," he says, leaning back in his chair. His eyes move to Crock.
"Denial of the flesh is key to enlightenment, some would say," Goenitz chuckles. "And no, I doubt it will be a problem very long." He pauses. "Tell me," his eyes move back to Lyraelle. "Do you know the story of the Garden of Eden?"
A vague sense of hostility rises up in the succubus' eyes as she turns a withering gaze toward Crock. A flash of brilliance lights up in the green irises, the same as many have witnessed moments before the demoness' eyes attempted to literally turn them to cinders - and then, just when they seem set to ignite, the green heat dissipates, and instead the predator's pink tongue pokes out petulantly at the pernicious punk. The expression is fleeting, disappearing by the time she can turn her head to smile at the priest.
"Of course. I went to Sunday school, pastor. I was a good little girl, until I fell in with the wrong crowd."
She raises an arm to gesture with wan invitation.
"I'll let you tell it again, though. After all, there are sooo many ways to spin it, and I wouldn't want to ruin your context."
With a smarmy smile and wink, Lyraelle takes a metaphorical step back, shifting her hands to her lap demurely.
It was getting harder for Crock to sit put.
The anger and anarchy in his blood was crawling over him like ten thousand writhing screaming worms burrowing in and out and out and in. Fresh fangs bared underneath the surface, like a million specters oozing the shadow of the valley of the death and dolls, a howling abyss of sanity and sanctity. The rage of a demonness and a priest in stark contrast as they pull not at the soul of the punk, but at his soles. Crock got what he wanted. He annoyed them both. He could feast on annoyance.
But he'd need another fix soon.
"Sunday school." Crock scoffs bitterly. "What's special about the Garden of Eden. Man gets a bite of the apple of knowledge, gets thrown out by God, and the world we know now is the punishment away from paradise. If we cast it down, brick by brick, we'd be a step closer to paradise again." Mutters Crock darkly. He was interrupting Goenitz. Stepping on his toes. Crock did this before. But the flicker of aggression, or temperament was rising. He'd picked at Lyraelle, and got a closer, a stare of fire. Now wanted to pick at the priest.
He wanted to try that bad idea again.
Goenitz makes no moves to interrupt the developing hostility between Lyraelle and Crock. Perhaps this too is the will of God. Iron sharpens iron, as they say.
A throaty chuckle comes in response to Lyraelle's answer. "Then I won't waste your time with it. The key is that there are many paths to power. Some are welcome, some encouraged. Perhaps," Goenitz smiles, "what you are after here is the forbidden fruit."
Goenitz's eyes shift to Crock. It's a subtle movement. The cold wind that rips through the small office is without reasonable origin or source, blowing the curtains in its wake, but not carrying quite enough force to push him backwards in his chair. Still, it sends a message.
"Richard is right, however. The world is wicked, corrupted by many things. Men play with powers beyond their comprehension and twist nature to their ends. They complain of monsters in the shadows," his eyes fall on Lyraelle. "And ignore the ones in the daylight. Tell me," Goenitz says. "What would you do with that power, if you had it?"
Perhaps the demonette is becoming increasingly comfortable in the presence of the punk and priest pairing, or perhaps she's simply seeing how far she can push her luck. In either case, her response to the question is to slink down into a lounge across the desk, propping herself up with an elbow against the desktop and hand against her neck as if posing for a centerfold. Her eyes drift askance for a moment as a thoughtful expression tugs her lips into a pucker. Eventually, her eyes fall on Goenitz.
"Well, I suppose that depends on what kind of power we're talking about, but if I'm writing a letter to Santa here, then the top thing on my list would definitely be my own kingdom. Or queendom, as it were. A place where I could bring the order of things back to where they should be. If we're feeling especially liberal, I might even go so far as to say a new Eden, with me as its Eve."
Lyraelle rolls over onto her front, now propping her chin up with a fist as she eyes Goenitz sidelong.
"Or do you think that that's unfair?"
Crock didn't like the talk about power anymore.
As Crock knew, there was a specific end. Even as he finds himself shocked into the seat, into his chair, it was something he felt the need to resist. He felt that chill. He knew what Goenitz could, and would do. "The only Eden is where every queendom and kingdom is scoured from the planet!" Objects Crock, the punk losing his deference. The punk leans forward, staring into nothingness, as he tells Lyraelle, maybe everyone around, what the real end was going to be. "No more rulers. No more kings. No more masters." A tone of resolve comes, as he declares what it means with that power. At least, to Crock. There was no masters that Crock followed.
Lyraelle probably has seen what was making Crock squirm. She did it to him before. And now, under the presence of Goenitz, the punk was doing it again. A subtle writhing, like a maggot in his soul. He declared what he thought in his heart. He revealed it totally. And yet, between Lyraelle and Goenitz, in this very privacy of the room, that invisible chain coils around him. Because he knows what Lyraelle, what Goenitz would and could do. And what that meant for a little worm like Crock. "But maybe." He spits out like rancid fat from behind the gums. "But maybe there is other ways for power. Maybe there isn't just one way. Maybe there should be a proper kingdom." Crock doesn't lift his eyes. He keeps them down, goosebumps chilling his spine. "OR queendom. Whatever." He was squirming again, his raw discomfort absolutely palatable.
"Isn't that right, father?"
"Where they should be," Goenitz repeats. "And what, would that be? What laws govern the," He pauses, "queendom of Lyraelle?" He tilts his head. "Or Eve, if you prefer. Who is to say what is fair or unfair, other than God?"
His attention turns to Crock. "Richard isn't wrong. Perhaps there is no more room for rulers. When the current order falls, perhaps a new one will take its place, or maybe things will return to a purer, simpler time."
"But Richard speaks truth," the priest threads his fingers in front of his chin, resting his elbows on the desk. "There are many paths of power."
When Crock starts to speak up again, Lyraelle's gaze shifts from the priest to the punk, her head remaining at a perpendicular angle to either of them as she adorns the desk like a discount clothing store ad. A faint smirk tugs at the corners of her lips.
"You okay there, Dickie? I'm not sure if it's all the flip-flopping or the sense that someone's turned the heat up on you, but you're starting to remind me of a half-grilled pancake."
She winks at the musician before diverting her attention back to the priest's inquiry. As she does, she picks up a pen and taps it against her lips, as if thinking about what laws she should write down.
"Well, I like to keep it simple, sir. The first law would be, 'Be excellent to each other.' The second law would be 'Party on, dudes.'"
She smiles lightly as she scoots up to a sitting position, dangling her legs over the back corner of the desk. She dangles the writing utensil between her thumb and forefinger off to one side.
"Oh, and the third one is... Lyraelle is in charge of the Queendom of Lyraelle."
The pen starts to rapidly blacken and melt into slag before she lets it drop into the wastebasket, where it briefly ignites the contents in a flare of green light. A faint smell of brimstone wafts through the room.
"So, why don't you tell me more about what you're looking for in a global reorganisation, then we can both decide which direction we're going to swipe?"
The demonette gives the priest a showy flutter of her eyelashes.
Crock gives a mock laugh at Lyraelle in response.
Crock was absolutely more stew than pancake right now. When Goenitz encourages the exchange of ideas, and Lyraelle gives her demands to the flash of emerald fire, the anarchist just huffs. "This is bullshit." Crock finally lets out, his profane profanity boiling out. He didn't have the vision of the priest; no one could ever have his vision probably. All Crock could see was what was promised to him, and with Lyraelle there, he didn't see how he was gonna get it. He kind of, well, assumes that the priest was lying to Lyraelle. Or was he lying to Crock? ROr maybe it was the smell.
Yeah, Crock was swiping the air, nostrils flared.
"Mmm," Goenitz reclines in his chair slightly, pressing the tips of his fingers together. "Simple rules, but yet so challenging for many men, despite so many opportunities to uphold them." A pause. "Save for the last one. That particular edict has not yet been tested, I suppose." The corner of the priest's mouth rises on that last one. Not quite a smile, but the faint trace of amusement bubbling to the surface.
"But yes. Ambiguity takes us nowhere." He looks down, his eyes closed as he rests his forehead against his hands. "Despite many opportunities to change," he raises up and back, almost into a recline, "the men of this world continue to take. From each other, and from the Earth. They should be stewards of what they have been given, and yet..."
The green flame is dropped into the wastebasket. Goenitz pays it no mind as smoke rises up slowly. As it drifts toward him, it turns, tossed as if the air itself refuses to let it sully his robes.
"They plunder the world's resources. Level her mountains. Raze her forests. All in the pursuit of wealth. Of power. Of many different things. And for what?"
Goenitz reclines in his seat, letting his hands full on his lap.
"Men only return to the dust from whence they came, no matter what life they live or how much they plunder or destroy. Even so, the scars they leave on the earth remain, a blemish on something greater than any one man."
"What will the kingdom of Lyraelle do differently?"
It's not immediately clear whether the passage of time during which Lyraelle taps her forefinger against her lips and makes questioning looks toward the ceiling is a play for drama or a sign of the demonette's arbitrary nature and lack of forethought. After several seconds, though, she does sit up straighter, cross-legged, and folds her hands in her lap as she delivers her answer.
"Well, see, that's where Rule Number Three comes in. I'm a firm believer that a shift to benevolent autocracy is the only way to achieve a better, sustainable society. I mean, right now, you've got governments that are being dictated to by wealth, forcing regressive policies that will screw over future generations by people who don't care as long as they get richer in this lifetime, right? And if you put somebody normal in charge of putting things back on track, you'll just end up with the same corrupting elements of power. Which is where I come in~"
Lyraelle flashes a winning smile as she slides off of the desk, pacing around it as she continues.
"See, I'm probably functionally immortal, violence notwithstanding. Or, at least, way more long-lived than any 'normal' human would be."
Whether or not her assertion is true, the demoness seems convinced of it.
"Which means that if I get what I want - which is to be in charge - my self-interest is perpetuating that ad infinitum. Or at least until I get bored. So depleting the world, destroying it with pollution, wrecking ecosystems, and all that crap - that would be directly against my self-interest, and I'm self-interested enough to actually do something about it, given the means and the opportunity."
Lyraelle slows her pacing as she sidles up to Crock, getting nearly as close as she was when she was posing as the punk rocker's girlfriend.
"Besides, if things are in a state of total anarchy, they can't stay that way forever. Sooner or later, someone like me will end up on top anyway."
She winks at the noise marine, just out of the priest's line of sight.
Crock didn't agree.
As Lyraelle makes her pitch to the electorate (which was Goenitz), the anarchist fumes deeper and deeper. He could hear what Lyraelle was pitching. The more primative form of jackboot tyranny. He knew what he was supposed to be part of. He knew that Lyraelle was supposed to be a part of it. But he didn't want anything of -hers- to be part of it either. When she finally gets to the end though? About what she implies she was going to do to -his- anarchy?
The antagonism reaches the head.
"So what, a goddess queen? You get to be Margaret Thatcher with the Iron Tits?" Hisses Crock. The punk stands up, a ringing sound running through him as he points that finger at the demoness. "I am not gonna let some brand, some favor change what I am going to make of the world, and if that means sending it so far down into rubble and Ash that there isn't worms for you to dominate over, so be it! It's wrong, and I won't do it!" But the raw anger was shifting now. Turning towards the trash haired man with the priest outfit. He unleashes that devil may care sneer, as he fully vents his rage.
"And let me guess, you think this all so damn intriguing father, huh?"
"Hmmmmm," the priest makes a curious noise, tilting his head at Lyraelle as he leans back in his chair. He almost snorts, a sort of amused sound in response to her proclamation.
But before he can speak, nay, perhaps before she can finish, Crock interjects, anarchy bubbling forth from his mouth in almost liquid form, as though the discontent simmering in him could no longer be contained. Goenitz sits passively, unfazed by the outburst. When the question comes, he smirks.
"You know me well, Richard. I do find it all intriguing. I don't think your goals are incompatible...yet." Goenitz rises from his seat. "After all, to build anything new," his eyes fall on Lyraelle.
"...one must first tear down the old," he looks to Crock. "What happens after the old is washed away, well," Goenitz smiles. "That rests in the hands of the strong."
"I like to think of myself more as a sexy Chairman Mao," Lyraelle asserts with a sardonic smile before sticking her tongue out at Crock, the gesture equal parts playfully petulant and venomous. "I mean, I never used the term goddess, but if that's how you think of me, I'm not gonna argue. It's flattering, really."
At this point, the green eyes of the succubus have locked on Crock, a new sense of focus in them - not the anger flashing on the verge of viridian violence from before, but more like a cat that's cornered a rodent and is playing with its next meal. She saunters across the office toward the punk, her attention peripherally on the priest as she addresses Goenitz.
"I'm down with all of that. It's Crockie here who thinks the sandbox won't be big enough and has to smash all the toys. I think he's just angry because of this," she says, raising a finger and jabbing it to within a centimeter of the 'L' branded on Crock's forehead. Her eyes are still focused on Crock's as she speaks. "I could get rid of it, you know. Let me in for my share, and I can let Crockie be his own man again."
The hell-vixen's voice is at once a seemingly impossible blend of taunting and cajoling, conciliatory and assertive, and yet somehow seemingly sincere in all of its facets.
Crock stares across from Goenitz, to Lyraelle. And between the two, he was beginning to feel a sizzling in his heart, in his bones. He had a vision for the world, back into nature. And Goenitz wasn't setting her straight on her line. No. Crock saw a fostering. Which served the priests purposes well. But for Crock? He didn't feel two allies in the room with him.
He felt two enemies now.
When that comes to the L, Crock stumbles backwards, his nerve snapping under the full focus upon him from Lyraelle. Shocked, he promptly falls over a chair. Collapsing to the ground unceramoniously, he claws backwards, dragging himself up. "Fu- I- this is sick! Sick! Sick!" It was oozing around him. He was grabbing his forehead, covering it now. And he was averting his eyes from -both- priest and tyrant. "Well I don't care what you do with her." He waves his hand, stumbling towards the door "Drink deep of the cup of sin, or whatever. I am going to bring down this world, brick by brick, because that's what this world deserves. And if she gets in my way?" He finally brings up a half gaze to both of them. "I am going to bring her down too, father. I don't care about what -her- plans are, what -plans- for her. I've done my part, and I am going to keep doing what I do." Crock keeps rubbing the L, trying to make it go away in his mind. He still felt hot, and in danger. He wasn't going to leave, he couldn't. He would either be let go.
Or put upon the meathooks.
Goenitz exhales out his nose. To call it a laugh would be charitable, but it isn't quite disdainful, either. As the tension increases, and Lyraelle puts the pressure on Crock, Goenitz watches with muted interest. His eyes move from one to the other, follow the movement, and zero in on the "L" branded there.
"Trying to stake one's claim, then? Obtaining a bargaining chip?" Goenitz glances toward Crock and there is magnetism in the air. It's as if something stoked an unseen flame. There is a moment like when a sharp breeze sweeps through, carrying a small spark to start that slow burn into a raging inferno.
And yet, there is no heat when Goenitz addresses Lyraelle. "This power is one that is given freely. It is bestowed by grace to the faithful." Goenitz tilts his head. "It is not something to be bartered for."
He tilts his head toward Crock. "I would expect nothing less. As iron sharpens iron, so they say. Perhaps the two of you will push each other to greater heights, given enough time."
The demoness tilts her head as Crock backs into the door, her wings folding up tight behind her back. She stalks the rocker around the office, finally cornering him as he threatens to leave. She addresses the priest even as her eyes remain on Crock, her tail flicking behind her in the air.
"I was thinking it more as a gesture of good will in exchange for a promise. I figured it's always a sweet deal, trading words for actions."
She thrusts one hand out to plant against the side of the doorframe next to Crock, effectively boxing him in like a high school bully at the lockers.
"Hold still, I'll get that for you."
The succubus holds her other thumb up and runs her tongue along it like a mother preparing to rub out a smudge or a lover readying to remove a lipstick stain. Then, she lifts her hand up and presses her thumb into the brand and rubs, somehow blotting the L from the punk's skin before blowing on it.
"You can thank me later," she says with a wink, before turning around and stepping back toward the desk.
"So... what does a girl have to do to get baptized around here?"
It was this close to break out into a fight.
Crock didn't have a guitar. He wouldn't need it, but Goenitz's reaction, and more so, Lyraelle's interception was about to set off the trigger of the maniac. Hatred, burning hatred. Crock wanted to fight everything and anything that kept him trapped. Society. Men. This woman. His body tenses up as she brings that thumb right on his head. And yet, his hands don't come up. It was one more humilation.
And she takes the brand off.
Crock doesn't -quite- notice it. He won't notice it for a while. But when she claws it in, to smudge it out, he might never notice it. The brand ran deeper now, and as she makes her insult, Crock's lips curl into a bitter snarl. Lyraelle had done something more than humilate him. More than dominate me. She made it clear that she would take his very ideals, his very tattered banner, and wear it around her like a strapless red dress. Hatred. Hatred, hatred, hatred. He thought that maybe, if she came to the priest, she would be turned into another anarchist like him.
But like every movement, it's clear it's being subverted it.
"I'll thank you later. Sure." It's the most witty thing he could vomit up. It was pathetic. But Crock felt kind of pathetic. He hated it. But Goenitz was almost right. From here on out, Crock was going to make sure he was going to temper her fire with his own fire. He might think that people like Lyraelle matter in bringing about the new world. But Crock didn't. And her little empire was going to be taken down, brick by brick. Didn't matter if she ended up on their side, or not. It might even be better if she did. He gives a parting shot of a single middle finger at the woman, as he falls out the door. Crock was going blind, grabbing his forehead of that woman's slime on his head. He was planning his revenge, as he stumbled down the hall. How he would break her apart. And Goenitz? The priest would see who was the real deal.
And the other who was just some nobody with no soul.
Goenitz remains silent as the two bicker once again, finally culminating in Crock's departure. When he leaves, a smile crosses the man's face and he turns to face Lyraelle.
"Perhaps I did underestimated you," Goenitz says with a smirk, slicking back his hair with a smooth motion of his hand. "You possess a dangerous sort of charm," the priest concludes. "I believe you could do a great deal of good work for our Lord."
"But I suppose, as a token of good will, I should grant you a boon as well. Perhaps I could add a bit of fuel to the fire?" Goenitz tilts his head. "The spark is already there from your ... meeting, with Crock. It need only the proper kindling."
"Do you desire the Power?"
Lyraelle makes no further attempt to impede Crock, for the moment - her cruel magnanimity is all but forgotten as she hones in on Goenitz. She smiles broadly at the priest's admission of underestimating her and further praise. She approaches the desk, leaning forward over it as her palms rest on the surface.
"I do," the demoness admits with a sultry candor. "I've never felt the need for religion so badly. What do I need to do for you to show me what this power's all about, father?"
"You have already done plenty," Goenitz says. "After all, you have already been touched by God, in a way. The key now is to simply fan the spark that is already there, and tend it." The priest rises, a smirk crossing his face.
"But you find the experience a bit ... enlightening. The gift takes many different forms. Richard had one experience. Others have differed."
"But what the touch of God means for you...well, we shall see."
Log created on 15:33:31 07/17/2020 by Crock, and last modified on 09:15:36 11/03/2020.