Description: When nightmares from Alexis' past resurface, she turns to the Warwolf for guidance - and receives a message from an old acquaintance.
Alexis sat bolt-upright in bed, sweating profusely. Her heart thundered in her chest as she gasped for air, oxygen failing her for the shock of nightmare still fresh in her system. Her hand pressed into the fabric of her tank top, fingers pushing into her abdomen, before frantically clawing at the hem of her tank, pulling it up to expose her stomach. Her hands probed at her midriff, trying to staunch bleeding that was only happening in her mind, only finding clammy skin. The cat curled up on top of her legs stirred and leapt from the bed with a yowl of derision as Alexis flung off the sheets and staggered to her dressing table, tilting the vanity mirror to face her navel.
There were no weeping perforations in her flesh or lungs; only the scars of such are reflected in the glass, star-shaped reminders still prominent amongst the minor wear and tear of a career in combat that blemishes her still-youthful skin. In the middle was a dangling skull in a pentagram, hanging from a scarlet garnet belly button piercing. The brunette slowly traced the rim around the red jewel with her middle finger and swallowed as her breathing steadied from hyperventilation to slow, shuddering breaths.
The sweat-stained shirt shed, Alexis wandered down the stairs to her kitchen and started a K-cup of Tim Horton's brewing into a sealable plastic mug. It wasn't as comforting as a bowl of poutine, but it was a lot more convenient. As the machine rumbled quietly, Lexi sighed. There was a sound at the edge of her hearing - not tinnitus, as one might expect, given her career in punk rock - but it was one she hadn't heard in a long time, like distant wailing on the wind. There was no wind; it was a still summer night in the Toronto residential neighbourhood where Alexis lived these days.
Alexis started, whirling around as her heart started pounding in her chest again. The fluffy face of her cat stared up at her.
"Hey, Murderface. I gotcha."
With Murderface's bowl filled, Alexis tried to relax again. She couldn't. That sound was still pricking at her ears. She went back up the stairs. The sound grew louder. Her heart started pounding again as she realised that it wasn't her mind playing tricks on her. She went into her room, opened a drawer in her dresser from which the muffled sound was leaking.
The wailing was unleashed as a scarlet glow washed over the bedroom's ceiling. The blood in Alexis' veins was deafening as she slammed the drawer shut again - then, slowly, eased it back open. She reached inside and pulled out the choker she wore whenever she went on stage - and the crying garnet pendant dangling from it, white wisps swirling inside the crystal. Souls dormant ever since they'd been brought to Earthrealm, now awake once more.
Alexis slid the drawer shut, then got dressed.
Some time later, Alexis' bicycle pulls to a stop on the edge of Coronation Park. She chains it to a rack and walks down to the waterfront, right up to the railing separating the grassy park from Lake Ontario. Her hand slips into the pocket of her white 'Canadian Girls Kick Ass' hoodie and pulls out the choker. It feels like the garnet is pulsing in her hand, but the insomniac punk rocker doesn't trust her own mental faculties at this point. She looks out over the black and silent surface of the lake, bites her lip, and winds her arm back to throw.
Her shoulders sink with a shuddering exhalation as her resolve falters.
Sitting weakly down on a bench by the lakeside path, she pulls out her smartphone and opens her contacts, scrolls most of the way down, and hits the call button.
"Sorry for calling - I know what time it is. I just... need you to come here. Now."
"Hey, you get off her, Ja?!"
Sven Maesters roars as he stomps through the room. He was wearing a wolf man mask, as he strides past the bed. Pointing in the air, he snarls across at the mirror, glaring back himself. "You think you a little rabbit can defeat the wolf?" He starts ripping at the air, miming pulling apart a roast chicken. "I will skin you with my bare hands, and turn you into a muffler! Or maybe a fur trimmed cape. What you think, Alexis, is it too tacky?" He stares at himself a moment.
Sven groans, as he walks back to the motel bathroom.
He pauses a moment. He had time before the event, at least 24 hours. But he didn't like how he was presenting himself on the entrance. Dialogue was hard, he needed to sound tough and punchy, but the more he talked it- the more he got tongue tied. He wanted to get the entrance right, but it had to feel right. After a moment, he begins again, muttering to himself. "I run down the way, announcer calls out. I go into the ring." He makes a slow, acted out superman punch. "I leap in with the punch or kick, knock the Moon Rabbit off of Alexis, and then I stomp in-" And he gives a growl. "Hey! Get the hell off her-"
And the Nokia begins to buzz.
It plays a chirpy lo-fi instrumental of In Pursuit of Vikings, Sven's theme song for when he does his wrestling events. Pulling off his mask, he looks at the phone, and sees who it is on the caller id. Flipping it open, he brings it to his ear. "Ja?" Is what he responds. "Ja. Okay." He states, no hesitation. He holds up a picture of Alexis; it's Ristar 2021. La Huesuda versus Alexis. Alexis was throwing back her head in a howl. "Where are you now?" He stomps to the closet, grabbing a bomber jacket for the night.
"Are you in danger?"
With that, the phone hangs up. A couple of seconds later, the Nokia buzzes again - this time with the location of Alexis' phone being shared by direct message. Coronation Park, Toronto - right on the edge of the lake, and open all day and all night. She wouldn't be too hard to find; the park doesn't see much foot traffic at this time of night.
Sven looks at the address.
"... I need to get a smart phone." He growls, as he heads over to his old Dell laptop, loading up the Windows XP.
After some time, Sven is out in Coronation Park. He was in the same bomber jacket, and while it wasn't -cold- it was cool. He was alert, looking around, a bit tense. Maybe danger. And she hung up. Sven wasn't -planning- on getting into a fight per say. But Sven was seriously worried Alexis had earned herself a stalker or something. She could definitely handle herself, but you know, sometimes there are circumstances. Hands in his pocket, he looks around, heading up to the waterfront as he finally spies her. "Ja! Hey!" He grunts, picking up speed into a run to Alexis. "You okay?" He looks around, eyes narrowed.
"You got a creep or something on your back?"
Alexis turns her head when Sven calls out to her. The hood of her sweatshirt is down, leaving her ash brown hair in a total mess that spills to her shoulders - she hasn't done anything with it since she woke up. Her eyes are red around the rims, and the lack of sleep shows. Sven will know the look, but it's been some time since she's had it. She's been through a time of convalescence in her life since she began training with Sven Maesters.
Tonight, though, old wounds have reopened, and it's visible in her paler-than-usual facial features.
"Not... exactly. It's worse than that."
The thing in her hand is being turned over, rolling between her palm and fingers as a nervous habit. Her mind focused on the feeling of pulsating pressure coming from the awakened gem.
She stays seated, but holds up the choker. Sven has also seen Alexis wearing the choker before - in fact, most days that he's seen her - but she's never talked about it, and it's definitely never been glowing. It's silent, now, seemingly at least partially appeased by the fact that it's held in her hand, like an infant that was seeking attention, but it still gleams unnaturally in the dark.
Was it drugs, thinks Sven to himself as he looks at Alexis's eyes.
The thought lingers as she holds up the choker. He squints at it, trying to make sense of what was going on. It was a gem of some kind, he knows the choker. But now it was... glowing? "What is it?" Sven asks, focused on it. It wasn't drugs, but... something was very uncomfortable. "Is it magic?" Sven looks out at the lake, and then at the crystal. "I do not understand any of this." The wrestler wasn't angry, his voice was strong and calm. But he looks at Alexis with those steel blue eyes, and tries to find a meaningful question.
"Where did it come from?"
It would be unfair to expect Sven to know what to say to the revelation. He's dealt with Alexis and her damage, and even helped her to repair it by regaining her purpose and focus, but she's never been open about what it was. Why she'd disappeared for months. Why she'd come back broken. Why she'd been ripped from her place in her web of friends - her family, as an orphan child - the ties of which had taken years to mend fully.
Because she'd still carried that damage, under the surface, but she'd been laying ground over it, day after day, tilling the earth and replanting old roots until she had something that felt alive again. Until the damage was buried deep enough to become archaeological, a relic of a past that was truly past. That was when the nightmares had stopped.
"It's from a place called Outworld."
Alexis scoots her backside over on the bench to indicate that Sven can - and probably ought to - sit. That she'd like him to sit... because of what she's about to say.
"The place where I died."
The wrestler repeats out loud, trying to find meaning of the words. Outworld. What was an Outworld? He tries to dig through his memories, but the reality was, well. OUtside of his small wrestling world, he was awfully limited. At best he could imagine it was somewhere out... there? But then she drops the other, more intense fact.
Sven takes his seat next to her, stunned. He becomes quiet. "Like a real... death? I don't understand. Alexis..." The burly wrestler places a hand on her shoulder. "Alexis, you need to explain like I am idiot, I am an idiot. How did you die there?"
"And what does it do with this crystal?"
Alexis flinches at the hand on her shoulder, but only for a moment before it becomes a reassuring thing. She draws in a deep breath through her nostrils, then exhales.
"I know this is gonna be hard to believe, but... it's another place. Some of us were taken there, to fight - for the future of Earth. I had to fight one of my best friends. People died. I died. Twice. Came close more times than that."
She turns her left palm over, showing the scar tissue in the middle of it.
"It was a tournament. My first fight, I got sliced up all over by a chick with a sword. Second one, I had to fight this creep. I don't remember much about him. The next fight, I got a screwdriver stuck through this hand. Punched out a defenseless kid so he wouldn't be killed by somebody worse than me. Then, I had to fight a real monster."
She sucks in another breath and releases it. "The crystal here, the one that's dangling and doing the voodoo shit - it was like that the whole time in Outworld. It holds power... from souls, I think. I thought they were gone after I'd died. I guess..."
Her lips curl tighter.
"...they were just sleeping. And now they're awake, again."
Sven tries his best to comprehend what was being described to him.
This wasn't kayfabe. THis wasn't wrestling. THis was real life. It would have been real easy to walk away. His instincts was to get away. Let her deal with the problems. Sven Maesters didn't even know -how- he could help. And yet, as she describes how she died, he feels sick. Sick and angry. Brow furrowing, his breathing gets deeper. "The Outworld... must be a bad place then. And if it work up."
"You should get rid of it."
Sven states directly, looking at the crystal. He would not run away. "We can throw it away into the lake right now, but... it might not work. And then it cannot be gotten back. I can help get rid of it. Maybe get it away from you, maybe find something. A kid like you shouldn't be burdened with this." He reaches for the crystal, barely thinking about what it would mean. "If it can't be broken, then-"
"There has to be someone who understands this magic to stop it from hurting you."
"I wanted to get rid of it."
Alexis' aquamarine eyes glisten in the darkness as she looks out to the lake, the sky above almost an empty void for the light pollution from the city below. She turns the gem over between her fingers.
"I was going to throw it into the lake. This was in the past, for me. Finally. What they made me do."
She clasps it more tightly, her fist shaking.
"I died, alone, with my lungs full of blood. Then some sick fuck brought me back as his goddamn zombie slave. I had to literally explode my own heart to break free. I have literally been to hell and back. I feel like I sound crazy for even saying it. But the weirdest part is... I was over it. As much as you can be."
She turns her eyes back to Sven.
"I have a life. A god-son. Friends. A mentor."
Her grip tightens.
"Getting there... getting by."
She sighs and lowers her head, hair spilling over her face.
"But if this is awake again... that means that it isn't over."
She lets those words hang in the air for a moment as she gathers herself.
"And this was the only thing that made me strong enough to go as far as I did."
Her jaw clenches.
"I came to you to train... because last time I was tested, I wasn't strong enough. I failed. So... you're right."
"If those people are planning something - another tournament - then throwing this away would mean throwing away my shot at making a difference. At protecting my family. So, you're right."
She wipes her sleeve across her eyes.
"I need to find someone who knows what I'm talking about. And I think I know who. And... and I'm scared, eh?"
"Don't let your fear, ah, don't let your fear break you."
He wipes his face, flashes of anxiety breaking his stoicism. He tried to think. "What is it. Just characters we play. The worst thing about wrestling, is you can't be your real people. You live in fantasy and pretend. But this is real life, real murder." Sven was not a hero, he was never a hero. But everything Alexis had, she deserved to keep. So he would make her keep it. This was not fake stuff. This was real, and he would need to treat it as it was real.
"I stop wrestling until this is done."
He declares. "I break contract tomorrow, declare health reasons. You do same. There is enough money, we figure something out. We need to ask people about crystal. I keep watch over you, make sure nothing bad happen." His English was getting worse and worse as he spoke more from the heart. "You get your good life back, you keep your old life. This Outworld, this death stuff, this crystal- it's- it's- It's horsehockey. Sorry, I want to use stronger words, I don't have them. It is gross and I spit on it." He pat pat pats on Alexis's shoulder; not much of a display of affection, but Sven never was. He made his vow, he made his stance. He looked out into the lake, trying to think -where- he could even. Alma? Maybe? Who was magical and mystical he had fought in so many fights. The wind begins to blow over the lake, whistling softly. Strangely. Carried around the, both, almost wrapping around them.
Almost like the sound of a carved wooden instrument, blowing gently like a flute.
With Sven's words, Alexis seems to steady. She sits up straighter, and with the pat on her shoulder she draws in a softer breath through her nostrils and lets it back out slowly. She nods her head in agreement.
"It is. It sucks giant dick."
Anyone hoping for a more eloquent phrasing from Alexis Lovell probably doesn't know her that well.
"But I'll do what I've gotta, because no one should have to..."
The sound coming over the lake reaches Alexis' ears, and she trails off, her head canting slightly to one side as she gets up and walks down toward the water.
"Do you hear that...?"
She listens for a moment as the wind blows her hair about, before slowly raising the choker up to her neck, wrapping it around and clasping it at her nape, her eyes lingering over the water. When she finishes, the glow in the crystal goes slowly dim - for one reason or another.
"I might have to go on my own for a little while. But... there are two people who might be able to help. Howard Rust Junior, and Aranha - Keith. They were there, too."
Her feet are still moving, slowly, subconsciously, carrying her toward that sound. Her heart is beating heavily in her chest again.
Sven stands up.
His eyes dart around. Anger. Hot anger, and an intuition drives him. It was reckless. BUt that flicker of fear that came over Alexis, the fresh fear, drove him. He heard it too. "Aranha, Keith, and Howard. Ja." He grunts, as he walks towards the sound, the bushes. Rage overcomes him as he throws into the bushes. The music stops, and there is a tussling, a wrassling as it were. Sven re-emerges, holding someone- something with filthy grey flesh.
And he throws out the man from behind the bush.
The man was big, but not Sven big as he comes into a grunting heap between Sven and Alexis. He is a homeless man in rags, unshaven and ragged, with a stare that was much too far away. He was bound in vaguely familiar burlap and cloth, dyed deep with woad amongst the mildew and mold.
In his hand is the carved flute that was once Alexis.
The man rises to his knees, body trembling. He could fight back. He might still. But those staring, empty eyes look up at Alexis, as Sven brings back his boot to kick him again. "Who the hell are you?!" Sven snarls in fury, ready to start attacking the man over the thought he might have something- anything to do with Alexis's trouble. The homeless man begins to weep, as he brings the flute to his mouth.
And he begins to play it again.
Alexis' own sleeves are rolled up by the time that Sven pulls the filthy flautist from the bushes. She grabs the man by his ragged clothing and hoists him up to his feet, then reaches out with her other hand - clasping it around the pipe and wrenching it away from him forcefully. She turns the wooden instrument over in her hand, the other still clenching at the man's disheveled garb. Her examination supports her suspicions; the knotted pipe, carved from the unnatural wood of the forest of trees with faces on the island where Shang Tsung's tournament had been held. The lingering stains of blood - Alexis' blood - that had drenched the instrument, from the time she'd cut herself carving it, to the blood spilt in battle with the swordswoman, to the lifeblood raining from the deadly ceiling in the Kombat Tomb. Even the holes carved to produce notes had taken on the appearance of wailing mouths, though she couldn't recall if she'd made them that way or if they'd transmogrified somehow.
As soon as it was in her hand, a chill ran through her, and she felt that it was cursed.
"W-where did you get this?"
It's a meek and mystified question, contradicting the rough handling she'd given the sickly transient and the familiar flute.
Suddenly, she remembers where she last saw it, and her mind answers her own question.
"Where is she?!"
Alexis is suddenly filled with fire and ice as she winds back the pipe, wielding the mouth-end as if it were a stiletto, as if she would thrust it into the man's eye if he made a wrong move.
"Who the /fuck/ are you?"
As it rips from his hand, the man doesn't fight back.
He doesn't fight back when Sven drives a kick into the back of the man's neck, bringing him down again.
The homeless man curls up, letting loose a sob and a moan, before unclenching himself. Looking up Alexis, he looks... pained. Pained and hollow. Tears build in his eyes, as he coughs. "Mother... is waiting for you... at the footsteps of the Tateyama." The man croaks, his own self-disgust apparent. "The souls are awakening... if you wish them to sleep... find her-"
%Sven begins to kick him again.
Sven was yelling now in Swedish, any attempt at English gone. Again and again he kicks the man, his rage overtaking him. Stomping his boot down, there is no night of the warwolf here. No theater. He saw ALexis's fear. And he would stomp it out here. Over and over he stomps, the homeless groans turning into grunts. Sven finally breaks from his rage to look at Alexis. "Give it to me, and I will break it and throw it in lake."
"There will be no nightmare here!"
The whole time that Sven is unleashing his anger on the ragged man, Alexis takes a step back and listens - and as she listens, she holds the sinister woodwind between her hands, turning it slowly over between her fingertips. Her suspicion - and fear - is confirmed. The thing that had haunted her nightmares is reaching out to her, for the first time since the fatal tournament. The fire in her veins goes out; the ice remains.
"No," she replies firmly to the Warwolf. When she addresses Sven, it's in Swedish - she's picked up a bit in her time training in the Wolf Den. Her tone is calm.
"This is mine," she says as she tucks the instrument away inside her hoodie. "Let him be, eh? He's just a lost boy. And he may just be an orphan soon."
She starts to stalk back up the bank of grass toward where she left her bicycle chained.
"We can do the next gig. I've gotta book a flight to Japan... and stop by Canadian Tire."
%Sven only stops because Alexis tells him.
Breathing had, he stares down at the whimpering man. A lost boy. The man was older than him, and a lost boy? He didn't like any of this. Magic. DAnger. And now a whistle flute. He looks down, scowling, stepping back. And as she goes to the bike she talks about... the wrestling gig. The job. Sven couldn't believe it. He refused to believe it. "Next gig? ALexis, this is-" It was very serious. Sven stares at her, his chest rising and falling, his rage flaring off him. He hated it.
But he wasn't going to be making Alexis do anything she wasn't going to do.
"You are grown up." Sven states furiously, sputtering and struggling with words. "You help yourself your way. I help you my way. Do not go to danger, do not go to magic. Go to good people, not bad. Alexis." And Sven does the finger. The Warwolf fingerpoint, shaking it. "Do not do stupid." He growls. "I do not like magic. I am not death fighter. I work for living. You work too. Do not do stupid." He draws his hand back. The homeless man was crawling away into a stand, walking away. He had delivered his message. He would be waiting again.
Waiting for mother again.
Alexis has already unchained her bike, though as she straddles it she pauses, her expression thoughtful.
"Nevermind about Canadian Tire... they wouldn't let me take a chainsaw on a plane, anyway. I'll just have to find something when I get there. Maybe a katana or something."
She kicks the stand on her bicycle, turning her eyes back to Sven, her expression somehow more relaxed. She smiles, even.
"Stupid is what I do best, Sven. Always has been. I'll see you at the gig - sorry again for calling so late. I guess I just needed to hear someone tell me what to do, so I could do the opposite. Still a punk, eh?"
She starts to pedal backward from her parking spot, adjusting her course before wheeling along toward the park's entrance.
"Stupid will get you killed."
Sven throws the parting shot after the Canadian. "Still a damn punk." Sven growls, staring after Alexis as she leaves. For a moment, Sven looks out in the park. He wasn't sure what tomorrow was going to be like. Tomorrow night was- how could it be the same after tonight? How could it be different. All he knew was that he wasn't going to let the Moon Rabbit know about this. Everything would have to go with the show. He digs his hands in his coat pockets. Now what. After a moment, he stands alone in the park, the two other folks long gone now.
"Hey, get the hell off her, you dumb bunny." Sven says to himself, as he begins the long walk back to the motel room.
Log created on 20:19:19 06/06/2022 by Alexis, and last modified on 13:28:51 06/10/2022.