Edge of Seventeen

Title: Edge of Seventeen
Time Period: June 23, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Constance waves goodbye to her innocence forever as Beisdean, Jorn, and Hossfeld help her save a colony of children from terror and the life of a prostitute.

The moon is full, brother.

Darklight's voice comes through to Beisdean's once silent mind. It's a rare occasion that there aren't any ghosts to visit the mage, but tonight things seem strangely quiet. It's ironic, he's never wanted them around before but tonight he could use the distraction. Luna's been gone for more than a day, Jorn and Hossfeld had missed her by mere hours when they finally came. It was up to Beisdean to relay the news.

They'd been moving near constantly ever since. Stopping only to rest when the medium was close to collapse and even then only staying long enough for him to get his wind back. Muscles aching but hunger and thirst satiated, he hasn't complained. "Darklight says the moon is full."

Jorn's profile swings into focus, his straight bridge making him seem all the more dangerous. A gentle giant, for the most part, he's shown quite a different side since freeing Beisdean. The mage is studied from the corner of the warrior's eye, his thought process nearly visible. It's true, they haven't been able to catch the 'mole people,' as the familiar has named them, they seem to have a sort of expertise in eluding predators. As Jorn shifts to face both of his compatriots fully, his eyes lock on Hossfeld's and then drop after a moment.

"We go above ground."

It should make the German happy. Tunnels aren't a place for men and they've already met a monster the likes that Hossfeld has never seen. Who knows what else is down here. Nodding to Jorn, he pushes himself to a stand and slings his rifle over his shoulder. "Sehr gut," knowing what it means, it doesn't fill him with the relief that it should. What is means is, she's that much closer to being sacrificed to their god.

Without another word to each other, the three companions and the familiar make their way to the surface.


Moon full

The hand signs are slow and deliberate for the young Rowntree's benefit. Her escort is a small girl, younger than Celia but so much older and world weary. All of them that live here are, so much older than what they seem at first glance. It takes Constance a few seconds to decipher just what the motions mean but it's clear when they do. Her lips set into a thin line and she glances toward the pile of effects that were brought to her just a few hours earlier.

A dirty satin dress, a coin on a chain that was once worn as a necklace, a wooden piercing of somekind, lacy underthings, and fine pair of shoes that have been ruined beyond repair.

She reaches for the coin and pulls it's chain over her head. "Father if you were here with me now," she whispers as something of a prayer. The little girl stares at her, wide eyed, and breathes in a long gasp. Constance doesn't correct her misconception, letting the children think that she might be actually talking to the holy father, won't hurt them. Placing a hand over the coin, she closes her eyes and gathers herself for the task ahead. They'll be bringing her to the surface soon and there's much work to be done then.

She has a whole colony to save. And one prostitute.


"It's time."

Shadowy figures cross over the ruined horizon. It might have been beautiful once and it might be beautiful again but today the skeletons of the city are nothing but frightening. Twiggy remnants of metal buildings stretch up to the silvery moon. It's warm enough that bare skin doesn't grow goose pimples. Thankfully because the bare prostitute needs to retain a little dignity.

The chain attached to her wrist weighs heavily on her arm, pulling her shoulder down and causing her posture to suffer. But she can't afford to carry it, her hands are occupied with shielding her assets from the eyes of strangers. Head bowed, Luna stares at the ground as she takes her final steps up to the platform where she'll greet death. There are no tears, she's too numb. It wasn't supposed to get this far. They were supposed to rescue her.

She's left alone as soon as the end of her shackle is secured to the crumbling concrete. They don't wish her a farewell, or good luck. There is none of that in the belly of a god.

Luna's chin tilts upward toward the sky, scanning the darkness for her executioner. It takes a while before she finds the leathery wings growing larger as he comes toward her. The rapid beats must mean he's hungry. His shriek pierces her brain and causes a pain that she hasn't felt since her last night of excess. An ache forms behind her eyes and she closes them, her lips moving as silent words beg for mercy or rescue.

She doesn't open them when it lands preferring not to see the long fangs shine a brilliant white as they are bared.

Leaning against a ruin of a wall, Beisdean looks ahead at the same time Darklight's voice speaks in his head again. Do you see her?

By the time Beisdean's eyes fall upon where Luna stands, the creature is flying in. He mutters something in native Scots, his voice low and awestricken as he turns with wide eyes to the other men with him. "You see that thing?" he murmurs, unconsciously shrinking back against the wall, as if to duck out of its view just in case it decides he's right and Luna's not a suitable tribute after all, and that the medium would be a tastier morsel.

I'm above, Darklight says in his head, and Beisdean peers up to see perched upon a roof the large frame of a sea eagle.

"Odinskjegg." The word lacks the bite of a curse, yet lacks the awe of an invocation; it is an exclamation, of frustration, which leaves Jorn's mouth with a hiss of air from behind his closed teeth. Jorn does not need to be told to keep out of line of sight. Not today, though his managing to keep it such for long, is suspect. His gaze flickers across to Beisdean, icy blue eyes resting on the younger man, before they turn back to Hossfeld, followed by the deep bend of his browline, and the slash of his mouth creasing a hard, downturned line across his jaw.

"Figure something out. I can give us time, however foolish it will look…" The northman needn't inform them that they're a far more logical choice, when it comes to the slick business. Jorn is here because Luna needed a tank, and now she needs him, however delayed he may be.

The berserker does not wait; he lopes away from the shadows, curtailing the moment of respite and bathing himself in moonlight, instead. He drinks it in, baring his own teeth and letting out a beastly snarl that echoes across concrete and metal remnants. The long sword at his side flashes a silvery line as he draws it from the scabbard.

Hossfeld doesn't speak to acknowledge Beisdean's question. Maybe it's demonstrated enough that he does, indeed, 'see that thing' when he reflexively grips at the broken watch in his pocket, as if it has some power to keep nightmares away. Of course, it didn't work below the streets, but….

And then, Jorn is moving, and that just might be a problem. "Jorn!" he hisses lowly, so as not to draw attention from the thing. Maybe too lowly, because it seems he's not heard. "Scheiße." But despite the prospects of safety in numbers, the German stays put and instead frantically searches their surrounds from the safety of the shadows. The thing flies, so being in the open is a death sentence. But it's also big, and will need room to maneuver. Far from working out a plan of attack, Hossfeld instead focuses on devising a route of escape. Preferably one that goes through narrow alleyways.

The white nightgown borrowed from Luna doesn't protect much against giant creatures of the night. When Constance sees the giant thing, she freezes, literally. The bumps of chill become visible as they crawl up her forearms and under the thin fabric. Her face plays host to no fear, she's a better actress than that. Filling her lungs with the fresh air denied them for days, she lets it loose in a long calming breath. She is hero.

The youngest Rowntree hefts her spear from left hand to right and then peeks up from the boulders where she and the children were hiding. "Ready Luna's things," she instructs in a strong voice, "she's going to need them." And she's off. She doesn't look to the side where Hossfeld and Beisdean are hiding, nor does she pay attention to the roar of the norseman.

Pain.

The thing Luna fears and hates the most is the catalyst for her eyes opening to the full moon. The bite of the creature into her neck and shoulder spills what essence it doesn't drink, warm and thick, down her arm and chest. It grabs at her wrist, its leathery paw curling easily around the metal cuff as its teeth move downward, to her bicep, for another bite this time not to taste but to tear.

She moves but there's nowhere to run. Not in the grip of such a thing. Rather than letting it have her as a meal, she twists, hearing the crack of her shoulder as it's wrenched out of socket but saving herself for at least another minute. There are things moving in the street and as though hearing through water, she makes out a familiar battle cry.

The beast is surprised enough to not take the second bite and stops, paralyzed on the broken concrete as it turns near blind eyes to its surroundings. A series of short cries burst from its lungs as it turns its head to follow Jorn in his run. Still holding onto Luna's chained wrist, it begins flapping its wings, lifting itself and her off the ground.

From above, the sea eagle suddenly takes off of the ruined roof he'd been perched on. There is no battle cry from the familiar. Instead, Darklight lets silence serve him, letting his wide wingspan carry him closer to the other winged creature. Once he's close, yet high above, he suddenly plummets, eagle talons outstretched in order to rake at the beast's eyes in an effort to maim and blind.

His master steps out of the shadows, away from the wall, but his movements are too fast for his weakened body and Beisdean stumbles to his knees.

"Kom til meg, uhyrlighet!" The bellow is louder than his snarls. Jorn drops the tip of his blade, touching it upon the cracked asphalt as he moves. The screech of noise that it makes is as bad as nails on a chalkboard- it chimes up the length of the sword, ringing through the air. His other hand ducks under his half cloak, ruffling the white fur and pulling free his pistol.

He aims for the underarm, firing one shot- then a second, once he can regain his sights.

A breeze picks up, giving Constance the aesthetic value of the angel of might that she feels right now. Her hair blowing in long tendrils behind her, she begins to run toward the creature, holding the spear at her shoulder, mimicking the stance of javelin throwers at the summer games. One, two, three long strides carry her closer to the platform, closer than the bearman and within reach of Luna and the monster.

The young Rowntree isn't about to let Jorn or an eagle steal her moment of glory. Letting out a shriek, she hefts the spear upward, keeping a hold on it. She'll need it to knock the thing away from her after she shreds its wings.

The lost voice is finally found as Luna lets out a scream of her own, eclipsing the one let out by the god of the mole people. The chain tethering the two of them to the ground begins to crumble at its base, faster as the leaf nosed monster yanks at it, trying to pull itself free without letting go of its prey. She feels torn, literally, her already injured arm suffering horribly to each pull, the rest of her dangling at a sickly angle.

Her head lolls to the side, her vision becoming tunneled as the sudden lack of blood threatens to shoo away her consciousness. Her eyes fall to Beisdean on his knees and she gives him a weak grimace. She told him, she told him they would come.

The beast jerks back, its flight faltering from two holes tearing through his wing. His wounds, though, are more superficial and angering more than painful. He lets out another piercing shriek, or squeak, his leaf shaped ears twisting and pivoting as he tries to shake the eagle from his head. Darklight's distraction allows Constance's spear to find a place just under the shoulder and poke through. Flight now is nearly impossible.

As Constance comes running in her white gown, Beisdean shakes his head as if to clear it, then shouts, "Get out of the way, lass!" to the girl, imagining her being rent in two by the giant bat once its done with Luna. To his feet, he rises, but it's little use — his legs are leaden, stumbling on the rubble of ancient pavement, and he slams to the ground again. He'd tried to play hero with words and failed already.

His other half is stronger, however, and continues to rake at the bat-thing's face with talons, then shifts to something that can do more damage — sable and white feathers become tawny and white fur, talons turn to claws, beak gives way to a muzzle with fangs flashing and snapping in the light of the full moon. The wolf snarls as it goes for the creature's jugular, fur all hackles as he tries to kill the thing that would have killed his master, the thing that tries to kill Luna now.

"Constance." The gasp between dry words is all but entirely lost on the wind, though Jorn knows he has no time for shock. His bullets pain the thing, and that is all that he can ask of them, amidst its flapping and faltering. "The belly!" He calls out to her as he raises his gun again, casting a sharp look at the vicinity. Where did she come from? All he knows is that they left her on the ship. The norseman cuts off to the side, failing to get a clearer shot, though managing to get at the rear. There is no choice but to holster the pistol again. He refuses to risk shooting anyone else, now that there are three bodies.

But he also refuses to let Constance face it alone, and bears onward, blade glimmering at his side. If Jorn can get a chance, he will take it, and make a swing for its thigh. The hope here, is that between he and Darklight, it gives her an open canvas.

And that settles it: Things are now, officially, 'out of control.' And it is the very nature of things being out of control that spurs Hossfeld to do things that he normally would not do, under any circumstances. Chief among those things he would not do, under any circumstances, is relinquish control of his rifle to anyone that wasn't him. Which is exactly what he does when he shoves it into Beisdean's arms with little more than warning than, "Aim before you shoot." And he's off.

Not off to join the now swarming melee- where did all these people come from anyway??- and not even to draw his revolver or do anything to fight. The drawing of his knife is to do nothing more than sheer into the fabric of his shirt as he bolts from hiding, rending it in two and giving him a makeshift bandage. A bandage which is applied immediately to the most serious looking wounds when he comes sliding, like an old-time baseball player, alongside Luna. Far from joining the fight, he's looking for the fastest way to take her away from it without making things worse. And silently accepting that he might be playing surgeon right then and there, and risk getting trampled.

It's terrifying to be this close to the beast, but the young blonde isn't giving up. Adrenaline and something else are keeping her going and she's not going to let her moment to help go by. Constance is aware of Jorn's words as she hears the familiar voice call her, but she doesn't look in his direction as her hands grip the spear tightly, knuckles white. Her spear is pulled back, then thrust forward towards the beast's stomach with a vengeance.

It helps that she's not wearing a stitch of clothing. Hossfeld manages to pinpoint each of the wounds that's leaking the most and at least stave the flow, if a little. Luna blinks rapidly, trying to stay awake as her doctor wraps the strips of cloth around her neck and shoulder. Her eyes waver between crossing and seeing straight as she tries to focus on one of the Germans over her. If she could whisper, she might, but the movements of her lips don't give off any sounds except the screams of agony when he maneuvers her arm to get at the injuries underneath.

With his prize being a wee bit difficult to get off the ground, the beast changes his target. Constance has a lot of fight, the spear she holds has a lot of bite, but it also makes for a lovely perch. Which is what the beast attempts. One of his clawed feet manages to push on the wood of the weighty spear while the other slips off the end and feels the sting of steel in its thigh. It twists and as it writhes, it manages to throw the wolf into its reach. Darklight's teeth are sunk deep into the fur at the bat's collar, brown stained red and bleeding onto white and making the friendly brother more menacing.

Jorn's blade is evaded, at least the sharp bits. Not so fortunate to miss all of the punishment, the flat strikes him on his injured leg and causes the creature to fall from its short height. Between the three, Constance, Darklight, and Jorn, they manage to get it to touch down on the concrete.

Get off, Dubh, Beisdean's voice commands the familiar, even as he takes aim for the creature, tipping the barrel of Hossfeld's rifle at the creature's head at an angle that will ensure that if it misses, it will go up and away rather than to either woman or Jorn.

The wolf's teeth gripping the flesh hold tight even as the familiar does as Beisdean asks, seeking to tear the bat thing's skin on the way down.

Once his shot is as clear as he could hope for, Beisdean grits his teeth, anticipating the recoil against his very battered and bruised shoulder, and pulls the trigger. And again.

Jorn takes a leaf from the book of the brave- yet inexperienced- girl on the other side of the beast. As soon as it touches down, he pulls his sword back, attempting to drive itthrough the bat's leg, or hip. All he needs to do is make sure it stays within reach, long enough to be killed. Crippling it is the swiftest way, and has worked up until now. Stick with what works.

A hurried glance over his shoulder tells Hossfeld that now is not the time to practice medicine. The good news, at least, is that Luna is not quite as close to ground meat as she could be. Not nearly. With the flow of blood mostly controlled, the German snakes his arm around the woman's side- the one that isn't torn up- and, although not particularly concerned around where his hand ends up, starts to drag her back towards Beisdean, and relative safety. The trip probably won't do any favors with exposed skin dragging against the ground, but now is not the time to worry about that. If only they had a horse….

Constance seems to have just enough of a brave face to keep up her fight. That spear is all that she needs for glory, the stuff they tell legends of later. So with the beast's attempt to perch, once she's made her stab, she takes a half-step forward so she doesn't overextend her reach, tugging hard on the spear to take it back. She's not done fighting yet.

Beisdean's shot splits the bat's skull and shatters out the other side. Acting on nerve impulse alone, the wings twitch but are unable to keep up any semblance of flight. Brown eyes watching from the embankment of boulders the Constance crawled from glitter in the moonlight as they witness their spear weilding angel force the beast down with her weapon. It is pinned the concrete by the large man but too late, it's already dead. The wolf falls away, limping back to its other half's side.

Immediate danger out of the way, Hossfeld's struggle has become somewhat less and without having to rush, he's able to keep most of the gravel from embedding itself in Luna's wounds. Her eyelids are heavy and hands too weak to hide her pale form in shame. Her vision drops to her own lines and the trail that Hossfeld left for predators to follow. A long cloak of blood, but it's likely no one would notice that it's only human paint anyway.

Children creep from all over the ruins, gathering around Constance and by extension Jorn. Thin arms extend, each hand grasping at a bit of cloth to drink in the celestial wonder that's here among them. Jorn's fleece isn't safe from the caresses of the little ones, dressed in white, he might be another sent from the topple throned kingdom.

Back across the square, a pained cough sends a spray of blood up and all over her own face. Luna's eyes close and her lips curve up a little at the corners as she tries to suppress another. A split between them shows off cherry colored teeth, "Baizey… You're right, I wasn't worthy. He spit me right out."