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Two sides of the same coin [Acheron & Cadmus] [REDO] EmptyIgår kl. 1:52 pm af Acheron

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» Who Is This Stranger? [Cassius, Eleanor & Idés]
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Two sides of the same coin [Acheron & Cadmus] [REDO]

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Indlæg af Cadmus Lør Mar 09, 2024 10:03 pm

Tuesday night, after dark,
chilly and wet
Deserted alleyway of Erast

By now, he really should have expected it. Still, he had stared at the familiar handwriting, feeling a slight annoyance aimed only at himself for having failed to anticipate the arrival of this summoning. Three weeks of radio silence, the tumultuous aftermath of the crown prince’s death, and he had somehow allowed this whole ordeal to retract to the back of his mind. Already there seemed to be enough going on; the accusations thrown at the EFA, the arrival of Gwyn and the chaos she had brought, the sudden appearance of a woman offering an interview, and them accepting it, despite all of this, he had realised, it was possible for everything to get worse.

Because Cadmus had offered to help Linus with the preparations for the service of the week, he had been at the Temple when the letterbox slid open. Pure luck, really, that he had been able to get hold of the note before anyone else saw it. It didn’t matter how he had known where to find him. He somehow always did. Besides, word spread and it was more than likely that someone should know about the services at the Temple, and that he should know of Cadmus being there. It was not the first time he had been contacted like this; it had been – what? almost four years now? – since their first run-in. While it had never surprised him, and it didn't now either, he was unprepared. And he felt an urge to blame this unpreparedness on something. His mind had been occupied with how to help Gwyn, with work, with temple service stuff, with, well, everything else.

The note had been nothing more than a time. It was all he needed to know. And the rest of the day, until said time came around, felt hazy. Where he usually enjoyed both the music and the philosophical debates, as well as the socialness of it all, he now had a hard time focusing. Where had he been? Was Lucy alright? Did this have something to do with the murder? Although he did not want to believe it, he could not deny that the possibility was there. So, when the designated time finally came around, he had gone through every possible scenario. Whatever the reason behind this meeting might be, he supposed he was soon to find out.

He had gone straight from the Temple to a narrow, unlit alleyway that looked so comically sketchy that no one in their right mind would pass that way. They had no reason to either, for the alleyway was empty, save for some old empty barrels, the usual Erast trash, an old door yet to be broken through, and now him. Leaning against the cold brick wall, painfully overdressed in what he himself would describe as business casual, or the Erast definition of someone worth robbing should they be found alone in a dark alley at ten past nine, he did not dare to light a smoke to calm his nerves. Sure, he might not be carrying anything of worth, and sure, he was confident he would somehow avoid getting mugged, but with how these past weeks had gone, he preferred not to take any chances. He had begun to feel both stiff and cold when he finally heard the echo of footsteps nearing.
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Indlæg af Acheron Lør Mar 09, 2024 11:26 pm

Puddles on the dirty concrete reflected the sickly yellow hues from the sparsely placed streetlights, the water seeping through Acheron’s worn down sneakers as headed down the disgusting Erast street. The night was cold and wet. The hood of his jacket was pulled up, shielding him from the occasional rain showers, hands buried in his pockets to keep them warm. Considering the last month, the lack of sleep, losing his home, everything, one would think Acheron would be as miserable as the weather. But he wasn’t. In fact, he only really found himself thinking of Ikaros. That, and his offer. The chance of belonging somewhere, with a man like that. How could he say no? Acheron had nothing to lose. And the thought of living there, with Ikaros, made his stomach flutter.  And it had been so long since he had had any hope for the future to turn out better than reality was today.

But hope was a very dangerous thing indeed. Acheron thought he had learned better by now, that that naive part of him was dead and gone. Yet Ikaros had ignited that spark somehow – and who knew? Maybe things would be different this time. He only needed to earn his place. Then he would  finally belong somewhere, by Ikaros’ side and maybe, just maybe, he could be safe there. And he was so close. He only needed to earn it.

Determined, he headed for the familiar dark alley that had come to serve as his and Cadmus’ meeting spot.  Out of all Acheron’s solutions to make ends meet, Cadmus was probably among the more questionable sources of income. Even if he could rationalize it somewhat with Lucy – that she hated him and that Cadmus had hurt her in some way – he couldn’t really deny that even doing this would probably hurt her too if she knew. But Acheron had plenty other things to feel guilty about in that regard. He did what he needed to to survive. Desperation didn’t leave much room for things like morality. Demons weren’t made to care about that stuff anyways. Surely, Cadmus deserved to be blackmailed. Cadmus had never done much to fight off Acheron’s attempt to extort him anyways and after all those years, it was hard not to think of Cadmus as someone he could rely on, somewhat. Even if he couldn’t stand him.

He could feel the presence of another spirit long before he actually arrived in the alley. It didn’t tug at his powers, though, as other spirits would, but remained unreadable. Which was how he knew Cadmus was already there, as he always was. As Acheron had come to expect. Their arrangement was predictable like that.

He turned the corner and he finally entered the alley, a rat ran into the sewers, screeching. He eyed the other man and his fancy get-up, cracking a slight mocking smile. “Don’t you look nice tonight.”

He stepped further into the alley, stopping by the wall opposite Cadmus. Getting out a cigarette from the carton in his pocket along with a lighter. It took a few clicks but when the cigarette was finally lit he leaned back against the wall, taking a drag. Then he looked up, eyeing the other man. He exhaled, putting his lighter back in his pocket and wrapping his free arm around himself. “Or well. I'm lying. You actually look like shit.”


Sidst rettet af Acheron Søn Mar 10, 2024 10:03 am, rettet i alt 2 gange
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Indlæg af Cadmus Søn Mar 10, 2024 12:45 am

As Cadmus recognised the sound of the steps drawing nearer, so did he recognise the spirit. Granted, it didn’t tell him much; there was nothing to read – not unusual for a nachon who knew how to control their powers – but it was nevertheless familiar. Acheron. Cadmus didn’t turn to look. He dug his hands deeper into his pockets and kept staring at the darkness that made up the other side of the alley. It would have been too dark anyways, for him to see the mockery in Acheron’s smile, but he heard it just fine. Don’t you look nice tonight. Cadmus let it slide. No need to engage him. Just here to learn what he wants. Is Lucy alright? Don’t show signs of panic – he could keep calm. Beneath the spot he had been staring at, the darkness was blocked by a person. Letting his gaze slide down, he observed instead how Acheron pulled out a cigarette and lit it, and he felt after his own carton, almost full.

There was no greeting. The mock-compliment was followed up with a confession: I'm lying. You actually look like shit. Cadmus fished out a cigarette of his own. Having to do something to keep his irritation from showing. Just more bait. He wouldn’t take this either. But the fingers with which he held the cigarette were frozen and he had had a whole day to worry. He hadn’t come to be ridiculed. Reminding himself that Acheron was everything he was not – thankfully – he fished out his lighter, and gave himself light. Standing as he was, face to face with what he himself could have been, he had to cling to a notion of being somehow better, or at least different. Above these jabs, for sure.

Taking a drag of the cigarette he turned his gaze from the faint orange glow to the man in front of him. If Cadmus was overdressed, it was balanced out by the sloppy look of the hooded figure. Even if Cadmus looked shitty after weeks of bad sleep, he still refused to dress the part. He also had not wanted to go home and change before their meeting. If this, or anything else really, amused Acheron, Cadmus couldn't bring himself to care.

"I appreciate your concern," Cadmus said coolly, "To what do I owe the pleasure?"

Every show of emotion was a weakness. He was not weak. And yet, there was something sinister about the good mood of the other. Good humour in someone like Acheron was an ominous thing.
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Indlæg af Acheron Søn Mar 10, 2024 1:27 pm

The most infuriating thing about Cadmus had to be his ability to maintain that facade of cold indifference. It had been like that since the day they had first met, Cadmus apathetic and unbothered despite however much Acheron attempted to provoke him. The nonchalance had especially bothered him in the beginning. The feeling that Cadmus was undermining him was still there, but with time Acheron had also come to learn that the aloof front he put forward was just that – a front. Because at the end of the day, Cadmus was more facade than he was anything else. A mask to hide behind didn’t make him less of a monster. That was the real difference between Acheron and Cadmus. At least Acheron wasn’t a liar. Perhaps some day he would get a real rise out of Cadmus.

After Cadmus had asked his question, Acheron took a drag off his cigarette and let the question linger in the air for a few moments. He didn’t owe Cadmus the politeness of hurrying his answer. He didn’t owe the man anything, in fact. Exhaling, tilting his head, he watched the overdressed silhouette in front of him. He didn’t need to be able to read his spirit to know that he was tired, the stress was visible, even in the dark, the traces of dark circles under the man's eyes were noticeable. Times were hard, even in the EFA it seemed. Which was good. They deserved that.

He exhaled smoke, mischievous glint in his eyes.

“Well. It’s been a strange month, hasn’t it?” He finally spoke. “Who’s to say I didn’t just miss you? It’s been a while. How have you been, Cad?”
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Indlæg af Cadmus Søn Mar 10, 2024 5:06 pm

They stood there in silence for a few moments, shrouded in the cool night air. A darkness only broken by the ominous glow of the cigarettes that lit up their faces. Had someone passed by, they might have noticed these lights. Like a set of eyes lurking in the shadows, giving their position away, warning against entering.
But they remained undisturbed; the streets deserted, windows closed tight, city life sounding faintly, far off, somewhere else.

Cadmus waited. Patience. How many hours now? The cold had crept through his clothes a long time ago. He hadn’t forgotten it. A few more minutes wouldn’t make much of a difference. Gleaming eyes watching him. He looked away. Acheron held the cards, made the rules. Cadmus could remind himself that he wasn’t truly powerless. That he was in control of his own actions, of his own response. It wasn’t easy. Only thing that matters is the present. A present consisting of measured breaths, cigarette smoke; in; out; and waiting for Acheron to speak.

When he did, it was to acknowledge how strange of a month it had been. “Yeah,” he said, hiding his impatience behind indifference, “it has.” He was unsure what to make of this; Was it just the murder of the crown prince he referred to? Did he know something? Probably not, but his good mood didn’t really fit with how Cadmus had experienced the aftermath. Something had happened. Something good? Who’s to say I didn’t just miss you? Cadmus couldn’t quite suppress a snort, but he kept his eyes on the darkness somewhere to Acheron’s right. Well, wasn’t there a sense of truth in that statement, he thought, taking a drag on his cigarette; Missed his company? No? Missing any company? Perhaps. Likely. Probably the sense of control too. It had been a while. Two weeks, six days and around 22 hours. He wasn’t sure how he knew. Exhaling. Looking back at Acheron to answer.

“Great,” he lied. It wasn’t as if Acheron cared for an answer. The politeness he managed was undermined by sarcasm. “Just the usual–you know; Dealing with the grief of a murdered royal. May Iosta bless his spirit.” Cadmus shrugged, but continued in a more serious tone; “I’ve been busy.” He cocked his head, anticipating some sort of reaction; “and so have you. Speaking of – Where have you been? I don’t assume you have been running around decapitating people.”
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Indlæg af Acheron Søn Mar 10, 2024 10:52 pm

Cadmus snorted and Acheron’s eyes narrowed slightly. He took a drag off his cigarette, letting the smoke linger in his lungs as Cadmus answered. Great, he said. Definitely a lie. They were nachons, things were never great. There was survival and not much else. Acheron didn’t comment on it. And Cadmus went on, speaking of the death of the prince.

Acheron squirmed, eyeing the entrance to the alley. He didn’t know for sure, but he had his suspicions – it wasn’t far-fetched, given most things Ikaros had told him. What he wanted him to do. What Acheron was ready to do for him. He wasn’t bothered by the notion of some dead elite pricks. Still, he’d rather not linger on it for too long. Contrary to popular belief, he didn’t exactly enjoy imagining the details of that sort of brutality. He exhaled slowly, smoke surrounding him in the dark. It was best not to think about it too much.

Where have you been? I don’t assume you have been running around decapitating people. He scoffed, looking at Cadmus. It was a good question. A lot had happened in a month. Still, Cadmus gave him too much credit if he thought him capable of such a feat. Ikaros too, probably. Acheron was short, skinny and weak, the only things playing to his advantage was an ability to touch spirits and a knack for pissing people off – that  didn’t make him much of a murderer. Out of the two of them, Cadmus was the one with the most experience in that department. Yet he seemed to forget why he even was in this alley.

“Said the murderer,” he spoke, amusement in his raspy voice. “Funny, isn’t it?”

He brought the cigarette to his lips again, exhaling smoke as he spoke. “But no, I don’t make a habit of that. Perhaps I should ask you the same question? Isn’t you and the gang getting blamed anyways?”
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Indlæg af Cadmus Man Mar 11, 2024 12:41 am

At the mention of the late crown prince Acheron actually squirmed. Cadmus wasn’t quite sure that he hadn’t just imagined it. The orange light reflecting off eyes, darting towards the alleyway entrance. It didn’t have to mean anything. But it wasn’t impossible that he had heard rumours. Acheron had to be doing something when they weren’t meeting. Wherever he spent his time, he had to pick up some information. Or perhaps he was just a nachon fearing for the wrath of the public. When outright asked about the murder, he scoffed. Hmm, he hadn’t really believed Acheron to be involved anyways. But the timing was odd.

A drag on his cigarette; letting Acheron speak.

Letting Acheron accuse him.

Said the murderer.

The real insult was the amusement. And the question. Funny, isn’t it? No. He did not think so.

With slow control he exhaled, letting the smoke whisk away the memories. He could deal with those later. But it had reminded him – which had probably been the intention – that this person knew. And this knowledge was the reason why he was here. That didn’t make it any easier to keep his feelings in check. The anger at someone knowing and taking it so lightly. Finding it funny. But hadn’t he spent the morning warning Gwyn about letting her guard down among nachons? Acheron already knew too much. There was no way Cadmus would allow himself to slip.

A few drops of water hit him. The first signs of another rain shower.

Reject your sense of injury, and the injury itself disappears. Aurelius, probably. Or something he had made him read. It wasn’t completely true. But that injury wasn’t his to feel; he had caused it. He didn’t deserve to feel sorry for himself.

“I know what I did.” He said, surprised by the steadiness of his own voice. Far calmer than he had expected. “Do you think I would be here if I thought it was funny?”

He was there because this arrangement had worked so well. This way he could keep an eye on Lucy, he had somewhere to stay, something to do; as long as Acheron kept his part of their deal. But how could he expect Dominic to let him stay if he knew? He had not spoken about his past, so no one could call him a liar. Still. Was not both he and his reasons for staying corrupt? That didn’t keep him from caring.

Isn’t you and the gang getting blamed anyways?

Cadmus ashed his cigarette. “We are,” he said, “But you and I both know they are just looking for a scapegoat.” He shook his head. “What do you want, Acheron?”


Sidst rettet af Cadmus Man Mar 11, 2024 7:34 pm, rettet 1 gang
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Indlæg af Acheron Man Mar 11, 2024 12:32 pm

Heavy droplets started falling from above and a smile spread on Acheron’s face at the tone in Cadmus’ voice. Do you think I would be here if I thought it was funny? Always the self-righteous one, that Cadmus. Acheron doubted he found anything funny at all. At least Acheron was amused.

A scapegoat. An easy target to pin the blame on. It was true, anyone who had come close to the EFA would know that they weren’t much of a threat to anyone at all. The useless bastards could hardly even keep themselves above water. Yet Acheron had a hard time feeling sorry for them. The struggle felt well-deserved. Society was failing them and so was the EFA failing society. Acheron wouldn’t be here blackmailing people if the EFA had been good at their job. They had had their chance. It was too late for him to be on their side. They too played a part in Acheron’s current situation. And they probably actually hated nachons anyways, because there wasn’t one goddamn spirit in Ilomar who didn’t hate nachons. The nachons themselves included. Which was probably why they hadn’t helped him, even back then. That thought left a bitter taste on his tongue. But he didn't care about them. He'd found a group actually willing to help him. That was more than they had ever done. Fuck them.

Cadmus asked him what he wanted. Impatient, it seemed. Defensive too. A crack in the facade. Acheron took a drag off his cigarette, satisfaction gleaming in his dark eyes as he exhaled. The man wasn’t untouchable, after all. Served him right.

“Are you in a hurry, Cad?” He asked, cocking his head. “Aren’t you happy to see your old friend?”

For a moment, he simply looked at the other man, head tilted, smirk on his lips as it started raining in earnest. He certainly wasn’t in a hurry. He ashed his cigarette before taking another drag. “I need you to run some errands for me,” he then finally spoke while breathing out smoke. “You don’t mind, do you? You’re such a kind person, after all.”
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Indlæg af Cadmus Tirs Mar 12, 2024 7:37 pm

Acheron was smiling. Ratbag bastard. Giving the world the Nachon stereotype they expected; a heartless monster. So what? Cadmus could live with Acheron finding him funny; he did, after all, deserve to feel bad. It was only fair he was reminded. Nothing more than blows to a sense of honour he did not possess. He let it go, or pretended to do so. Keeping a straight face was hard. Resisting the temptation to look away harder. But he did it.

Justice, he thought.

This unimposing executioner had to do. He reminded himself of that, as the cold drops of water became more frequent, the eaves of the building providing little protection, the rain flattening his hair, tickling down his collar; it wasn’t supposed to be pleasant.

Was he in a hurry?

“I’m not,” he said, resigned, bringing the cigarette to his lips. It was fighting the rain, and he did his best to shield it. Damn it. If he was meant to suffer, so be it. He was there to make sure that Lucy was alright – he owed her that much. It was all that mattered. Not Acheron, with his ‘Aren’t you happy to see your old friend?; toying with him. His own voice was cold; “No less than you are to see me.”

It was probably true. Acheron got his money. Cadmus his piece of mind: Even if Lucy did not want to talk to him, it did not mean that she didn’t need him. If dealing with Acheron was the price to pay, to make sure she was alive and well, he could do so. There was another who had every right to despise him. Did she know about these meetings? He wasn’t sure he wanted to know.

And of course, there it was: Despite what Acheron’s provoking smirk might indicate, they were there for business. Which was something he understood. And it caught his attention. “No, I don’t mind.” He said. Lie of course. Hadn’t much of a choice anyway. He ignored the dig. Still above that. But he was sceptical. “Errands, you say?” Giving up on the cigarette and putting it out on the wall; “Plural?” Someone before them had used the top of a crate as an ashtray, and he followed this example. Trash alley. Trash city. Trash life. “What exactly are we talking about?”


Sidst rettet af Cadmus Tirs Apr 16, 2024 7:13 pm, rettet i alt 2 gange
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Indlæg af Acheron Søn Apr 14, 2024 6:45 pm

The rain pattered hard against the pavement now, almost as loudly as the gurgling of a clogged pipe somewhere along the building. The water was cold, quickly threatening to soak through the fabric of Acheron’s jacket – it wasn’t waterproof, he had quickly come to find shortly after purchasing it. Despite the fact that he was freezing and wet, he wasn’t too bothered. This wouldn’t be a problem for that long yet. He’d have a home again soon. Or, he hoped he would. At least this was some sort of promise of redemption, all this darkness wouldn’t be for nothing. It made it easier to endure. Now there was Ikaros and soon his worries would be over and thus, the rain didn’t bring his spirit down.

Cadmus, on the other hand, looked miserable as ever. His hair, flat and wet as he fought the rain to keep his cigarette lit. There was a slight satisfaction at the bitterness of Cadmus’ predicament. He was stuck where he would always be, resigned, gladly paying to sustain his lies. There was no redemption for people like him. Only more hopelessness and deceit. He was sure Cadmus knew this as well. It seemed fair, in a way – Acheron had never pretended to be anything but what he was and now things were finally looking up. Cadmus lived a dishonest life and this was the result. There was coldness in Cadmus’ voice when he spoke.  No less than you are to see me. Acheron pouted in feigned disappointment.

Letting his cigarette fall to the ground, the water carried it along towards a sewer drain. Cadmus said he didn’t mind, and Acheron smiled condescendingly. “Good boy.”

He dug through his pocket, producing a crumpled up piece of paper detailing his demands. A large sum of money, a suit and the layout to the Borcelle Hotel.  The handwriting within it was crooked, probably ripe with misspellings – Acheron knew he should probably be embarrassed, yet he kept his chin up and his shoulders squared. He held it out for Cadmus to take.

“Here,” he said. “Get these items and meet me here, same time on friday.”
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Indlæg af Cadmus Tirs Apr 16, 2024 7:55 pm

Two shadows in the darkness; voices drowned out by the percussive symphony of the rain – they could have been anyone. How alluring it had once seemed to him – this sense of anonymity brought to him by the city. Even now, drawing tighter his too thin coat, in a fruitless attempt to keep out the chill, he appreciated this element. At least no one would recognise him here. His humiliation was safe with Acheron, and if it was any consolation, the rainfall did not seem to do him any good either. It was a bit worrying, that a man who looked like an unwringed kitchen towel could keep up his mood. But somehow Acheron managed. Cadmus could only attribute that happiness to his only misery. Or to whatever errand he was about to be sent out on.

When Acheron let his cigarette fall, the darkness was complete. It took a moment for Cadmus to let his eyes adjust, but he heard the smile in Acheron’s voice and he was suddenly glad that the dark hid his embarrassment.

He was handed something – a piece of paper – which he assumed was a list of sorts. It was too dark to see, but he turned a bit to flatten the paper against the dry spot on the wall where he had been standing, before producing his lighter. Acheron’s handwriting was awful, but Cadmus could make out the items just fine. He scanned it with a frown, and decided that he would not think too much about why exactly Acheron would be in need of these things.

“That is” He hesitated, still looking at the paper, “a lot of money on such short notice.”  He sighed, pocketing list and lighter, and turned to face Acheron. ”Don’t worry, I’ll get it.”  For every sentence he sounded more certain – he was worried, yes, but it wasn’t an altogether impossible task. The hotel layout would be the hardest, but he had an idea. Not one that he liked very much, but he wasn’t foolish enough to imagine himself in a position to protest. And the suit? He looked Acheron over, but it didn’t tell him much more than that the guy was quite a bit smaller than him. “Though, I believe I will need your size.”
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