The Catalyst


anna_icon.gif clint_icon.gif delia2_icon.gif

Scene Title The Catalyst
Synopsis For every change there needs to be a cause, a catalyst. Sometimes, they're not as pretty or as nice as one would hope.
Date December 7, 2010

The Outskirts of Havisham

How long has the sun been gone? No one knows, not really. There hasn't been a cycle to count the days by either celestial being. The sun never rises, the moon never sets and it's always full, always looming, always overhead. Here in the Kingdom of All, hope has left and it doesn't seem to be coming back.

A few of the hamlets, villages, and towns, the ones where the Havenots reign over the Haves, the ones that are largely untouched by the great war between them, have been rounding witches up for the gallows. The extinction of the Haves seems imminent in these places, the unholy lords who encourage this are always pleased. The King is absent from his throne, they say, The King would not abide by this, they also say.

But the King is also rumored to be one of the Haves and their reign is about to be thrown.

In one such village a mob has been gathering, the whisperings that a young woman just on the other side of the craggy wood is a witch. She might even be the one who stole the sun. The overseer has put a price on her head and the one who brings it to him will be paid handsomely. Very handsomely. So with the promise of gold, the promise of a feast, and the promise of seeing the sun shining down on them once again, the villagers have gathered, torches and pitchforks in hand, to find the young woman and be rid of her, once and for all.

Witches. If there's one thing that Clint hates, it's witches, no matter what they may be called. Waking, sleeping, it doesn't matter. The hate infuses every pore of his being. So it's no surprise that he's part of the mob that's gathering. It's also no surprise that he's at the head of it.

He has a torch in hand, and he lifts it up as he climbs up on a box to be better heard and seen. "That witch has stolen our sun! Without the sun, we can't grow crops! Our children grow ill and listless! Without the sun, we may die as a people! Do we want that?" A chorus of NO rings out, some of the mob lifting their pitchforks and torches, or whatever weapon they've found to use. "Do we want the witch dead?" he asks next, and an even louder cry of YES!! is heard, nearly making the ground vibrate with the force of the reply.

Still young, Anna's looking like not much more than a beggar tonight. But she's here, with a lack of weaponry to hunt the witch… fists shall have to do. In fact, she's taking a positively overactive role in hunt. She might not be the one whipping the crowd into its rage, but she didn't need to be whipped on either. "Death to all witches!" She calls out.

And soon, the crowd joins those words, "Death to all witches!" They call out along with her. "Burn the sins from their bones!" Anna calls out.

And the crowd follows, "Burn the sins from their bones!"

Leader, or not, beggar, or not, the crowd is riled beyond mere parade standards and they're out for blood. Leading the march with a bold wave of his hand, Clint's torch burns brighter and larger than any other. Into the wood, the fearsome wood, to find the young maiden, or witch, who hides herself within.

The gnarled web of wooden fingers that reach out and claw at the peasants, seem fearsome and alive, instead of just dusted in moonlight. Though it's only a few miles, quite a number of the mob has lost its aggressive edge and become fearful whiners, wondering when they will reach their destination. Not far now. So says Papa Smurf. No far now.

How dare they begin to lose their nerve when there's a witch nearly in their grasp? "Soon! Soon we'll have the witch, and we'll free us all from her evil grasp! Don't lose faith, friends! The witch must be killed! It's the only way to return the sun to our sky!" Clint calls out, trying, perhaps vainly, to keep the people motivated. Mentioning her evils is the best way to do it! Except, "We must kill her for our children!" he shouts, pointing the torch forward as he continues moving purposefully.

"Kill her!" Anna calls out, still filled with anger of fury. She grabs the blade of one of the men who lost aggression, "If you're too cowardly to do the job, I'll do it myself!" She continues her outrage, and as she said, she gos to follow, to hunt the bloody damn witch. "All who are too cowardly to bring righteous justice may burn in Hell like the sinners they are!"

Inside the hut the young woman/girl can hear the mob, but she's too afraid to run. If she did, where would she run to? So she hides, as best she can, under her bed of straw.

Once the mob reaches the hut, it doesn't take them long to batter the barred door from its rickety hinges and for Clint to plow through with a contingent of a few other men. Being a small house, it doesn't take him long to surmise where she might be hiding and drag her out screaming. Out to the crowd to face her justice.

And this…

This is where it all changes for the little beggar girl in the back of the mob. A girl without weapons of her own. A girl with no protection. A girl… well let's face it… with no hope in hell.

In a dizzying swirl, Anna finds herself held by the scruff of her neck by Clint's strong hand. Screaming for mercy as the mob presses closer, all vying for her life. All of them, vying for the prize of gold offered for her head.

There's a gleam of victory in Clint's eyes, and a smirk of triumph. Oh yes, he's pleased to have found the witch, and he hisses in her ear. "You won't be allowed to corrupt anyone else, ever again, witch. Shortly you will join your master in hell." He practically lifts the accused witch right off her feet by that hold on her neck. "We have her!" he bellows to the crowd. "We have the bitch from hell! Soon, soon we'll all be safe! We'll have the sun back!"

Shock and horror streak across Anna's face, "You're wrong!" She calls out, "You got the wrong person!" She screams with as much energy as she can muster, "The real witch is still out there!" Still, she knows it's all in vain, that her cries will not bring her to safety.

Not because she's the witch, surely not. But because she knows the fury of this mob, she was part of it herself. "Please!" She tries, "I know where to find the real witch." She doesn't, but she has to buy time, somehow, someway.

From up in a tree a pair of blue pinlights glow in the darkness, forbidden blue, the eyes of a true witch. A swath love curly red hair blows to the side, highlighted by the moon, and yet she remains unseen from her perch. Watching, as she has been since the mob was formed. Waiting, as they came upon the hut. Smiling, as they pulled the young woman from the depths of her own oblivion and into reality.

As the young woman is raised into the air by the neck, the woman in white leaps from her tree and down to the ground. She lands in a silent pad of footsteps and sprints through the dried leaves as she draws her sword. The sword of the King of All.

Coming up to the mob from the rear, she spins in a well practiced whirl and strikes out with her blade, bisecting four men. Instantly, they turn to shadow and disperse into the breeze.

Wrong? Clint shakes his head and sneers at Anna. "Of course we have the wrong person," he says, voice dripping with sarcasm and disdain. He's about to call for a rope to hang the witch when the four men disappear and his eyes narrow. He tightens his hold on Anna, lowering her, and extends his torch towards the woman. "Who do you think you are? I demand that you relinquish your weapon!" he orders the unknown. But even if the stranger made men disappear, he's still not releasing Anna. Sorry!

Desperately clinging to what she hopes to be her chance, Anna points at the woman in white. "She's the witch!" She calls out, clinging to a glimmer of hope. Better someone else's life than her own… or so she hopes. "You're the one you want, not me, not mine!" Her voice rings out, panic with an undertone of hope, this time, there's hope.

Another whirl of woman and weapon and the glade is left with but six occupants. Clint, Anna, the 'witch' (as the beggar has dubbed her apparent savior), and three men who are too quick to cower and scurry to the edge to watch what happens next.

Turning slowly, the redheaded woman raises her head and gives the girl a catlike grin. "Oh, make no mistake… You are a witch, the same as I. You know it in your heart, but you are too afraid of the unknown. You do not deserve to be what you are, much like myself when I was your age."

The smile fades as she turns her blue eyes to Clint and raises her broken blade. "Unhand the wench, you may kill her once you've taken my head." The words are spoken with an assured grace, an invitation of sorts, before she lowers the singing blade with a sweet noted swipe down to her side.

The tall man studies the witch with the same hate he looked at Anna with. He jerks a head towards one of the cowering men, shoving Anna towards him. "Hold her while I deal with this satan spawn," he growls, drawing a sword of his own to approach the redhead, confident, it seems, that Anna will be held as he ordered.

And so he approaches, holding the sword slightly up, ready to be brought up to deal with the witch. "Death such as this is too quick for one such as you. You deserve a slow, painful death for the things you've done."

The teen's eyes widen as she is addressed by the redheaded woman, and all she calls out in fear, "No!" She starts, "I am no witch, you lie! I can't be a witch! I am faithful!" Her words have the clear undertone of doubt and … fear. Fear of the truth, of who she truly is. Still, when she is handed over to the cowering men… Anna attempts for her escape, trying to land a knee or foot in his groin.

Prepared for such a show of bravery (stupidity), the man she's handed off to wrenches his leg inward to protect himself and with one smooth motion, strikes the young girl up the side of her head with the lit end of his torch. A shower of sparks flies as the young girl is set aflame with a scream. Pain rushes up the side of her face before the fire is smacked out by one of the other witnesses.

In the center of the glade, the redhead circles the man, her sword held down by her side. Ready. "Death will not come to me, I have survived battles with those much more powerful than the likes of you. I hold in my hand the protection of your king, blessed with the eye of the harbinger herself. You have a blade forged by a lowly serf, unfit for cutting vegetables let alone a fight with a proper warrior." She continues to slowly pad around the man, her bare feet making almost no noise in the collection of parched leaves.

Clint shakes his head, circling as well, careful to not show the witch his back. "It doesn't matter who forged my weapon, or who forged yours. My faith is pure, and you're evil. You will die by hand, and it'll happen soon." And then he's done talking. Hatred like his can't be silenced for long, and his first attack is a powerful one, a downward swing, one he clearly intends to cleave her in two, from the shoulder down to the opposite hip. Violent, isn't he?

Gah, fire. Burning… luckily, it's soon put out. It's enough to make Anna grow quiet, to make her watch in fear and disgust to the unfolding scene of battle. But those aren't the only emotions that can be read on her face… far from. A third one is there, as present as the other two… fascination.

Anna, for the moment, is forgotten. Perhaps it's thankfully so, as her rescuer and her would be murderer begin their dance of swords in the clearing.

Pausing, the redheaded warrior raises her sword with one strong arm to deflect the man's swing. With a resounding clang and an arc of blue sparks, their blades meet and hum a beautiful note as she closes in on him to peer at him through narrowed eyes. "Your faith means little more than a few words on the parchment it was scribbled on."

She spins, her white dress furling out at the hip, and lands a few feet from his position. When he closes again, she leaps high up into the air, over his head to land a few paces from Anna and her escort. "You would do well to learn, young miss," she seethes to the waif. "You will die to a mob sooner or later. Until you learn to accept who you are, you will be alone. Without protection. Without anyone to care about who you are…"

There's a roar of anger when Clint's prey not only blocks his swing, but escapes him, momentarily. He turns, rushing towards the redhead, no longer concerned with Anna, or her current captors, not right now anyway. After the redheaded witch is dealt with, maybe. But now? Now he has just one goal in mind. Kill the beast! Err, witch.

As he nears the group he thrusts out with the sword, uncaring if it will go through the witch and into someone else, anyone else. Reason is lost, replaced by a bloodlust stemming from pure loathing.

"How can I accept to be what I'm not?!" Anna counters, but she hardly sounds convinced. She sounds like she's parroting someone else… perhaps a past self. "What do you mean, can you change my loneliness…?" She continues, already seeing a glimmer of hope, even if she just denied it.

"Deny your true self and you will only wish death when the inevitable makes its appearance," is the answer given to the girl. "You should trust me, I have been exactly where you are now." The warrior's focus changes to the man charging toward her and with another clang of blades, she leaps out of his way again. Like a cat toying with a poor mouse.

The smile she gives her opponent is precisely that, as though she has him, as though all of this is simply a game. Maybe it is. To her. "And you," she addresses him now, "You will be finished quite soon, I think." It's almost like she can't stop chattering to give him a proper fight. With every push in her direction, she either defends with a clash of swords or simply dodges his assault. "You grow weary," she commands, her voice booming out over the clearing. Already Anna can feel her captor's grip faltering as he wobbles to the words of the witch.

The witch may want to chatter, but not Clint. There's killin' to be done! His sword swings and thrusts towards the redhead again and again with more speed than strength, but given his size, that's likely expected. If he feels tired from the battle thus far, he hides it well, showing no hesitation between attacks, his teeth gritted at his inability to kill the witch thus far.

"You don't know anything!" Anna's words ring through the woods… weak and unconvinced of their truth, "You can't… you can't understand what it's like.." A flashback to getting the news of her parents' deaths flashes through Anna's mind. "Right…?"

The flashback doesn't stop there. Anna is treated to a vision of a different time, a different girl, the witch in the wood. The flash across a blue sky, a young redheaded girl shaken to her knees in a classroom full of students. The same girl running to an empty home. Once again, huddled in the blankets of a pink room as the room grows dark and she is alone. Her tear stained innocent eyes turning to hatred. That young woman joining the mobs to kill… In that one fraction of a second, she catches the blue eyed gaze of the warrior in the clearing. They are the same.

That fraction of a second is enough to catch the woman off guard to the next swipe of Clint's sword. Avoiding the swipe of his sword by a narrow margin, her dress is torn and the blossom of blood discoloring the stark white of the dress rewards the man. Now, she is angry. Leaping up toward a tree, she lets out a fierce cry as she ricochet's off its trunk and shoots like an arrow toward him. Her broken sword plays the part of the file while her fluttering dress becomes the fletching.

First blood. It brings a smug smirk to Clint's lips. Oh yes, he's sure he has her now. Oops, but she's pissed now. Oh well, anger against anger, now it's fair, right? He tries to bring his sword up in time to deflect the sword, and his other hand comes up as well. It's empty, but his intention is to try and grab the witch. It worked well enough with Anna, right?

And then, Anna realizes that the witch is speaking the truth. She knew it all along, but… now she realizes. In stunned silence, Anna watches the battle unfold.. silently rooting for the other witch to win. She doesn't speak those words, but her expression makes them clear, quite so.

It worked quite well with Anna and it works quite well with the witch. Maybe. Catching her by the throat, she makes a sort of sickly choking sound. Her round blue eyes dart to look into his, the fear in them almost clear enough to smell and taste. But then, that fear turns to something else entirely. Something more wicked and dastardly and the witch smiles the same Cheshire grin that she gave the girl on her first approach.

Drawing a breath, she blows a breeze scented like mint and lavender into the face of her captor. The words whispered at the end are a simple command meant for his ears alone. "Wake up…." Inaudible to Anna, she's also blinded to what the witch is saying by the angle of the woman's head. "Wake up…" She urges one more time in the same soft tone. The man begins to phase from view in a fizzle of static. Though he tries to hang on, the witch's command is much too strong. Soon, he is gone and the redhead drops lightly to her feet.

Alone in the dark wood, Anna falls from the grip of a man that blows away as though he is nothing but dust.

And back in his bed. His warm, safe bed, free of mobs and witches, Clint's eyes open and he reaches automatically for the pistol kept beside his bed. Heart pounding, his mind struggles to catch up to his body. Slowly he relaxes, the pistol remaining on the nightstand as he sits up and runs a hand through his hair. "I knew I shouldn't have eaten that Mexican tonight. Spicy food always fucks up my dreams," he mutters.

Back in that bed, in that foreign bed she calls hers, Anna wakes up sweating and her heart pounding like crazy. This was not her normal nightmare, but still… she rationalizes it away as just being how dreams are. She gets up and looks out the window, sighing once.

With that man gone, Anna looks around. She is scared, but still… she glances around, "What happened?!" She asks, hoping for a response… but not expecting one. "What did you do to him?!" Somehow, she blames her rescue on the 'witch'. "Where did you take him?"

Sheathing the blade back in her pack, the redhead doesn't answer the girl right away, preferring to focus on herself. At the same time as the dress repairs itself, the blood melts off its surface, and the wound closes on its own. Opening her eyes, she glances over to Anna and gives her a swift once over.

"I sent him back where he belongs. He will wake up in his bed, as will you when I'm done." Using two fingers, she waves the beggar closer, taking one or two steps in the girl's direction herself. "Now… You have been a very horrible child. You will work your way toward redemption or else I will visit you again and this time, I won't rescue you. Do you understand?"

Anna heads over as she is called upon, "But.." She stammers, "but.. what are you talking about..?" Whether she's blind to the truth… or merely afraid to face it is unclear, though it's slightly more likely to be the latter. Anna's eyes are wide, filled with fear, with distress.

Suddenly, the crimson haired woman's nose is less than an inch from Anna's, her tall form stooped to measure the same height as the girl. "Don't toy with me, child." The words are spoken in a chorus of angry voices, larger than the woman herself. Her blue eyes are like a hot fire as she stares down the young woman with a sneer. "You've seen everything and you're still denying yourself and what you've done? To your own people? Would you wish to murder your parents? Is that what you want? You want to be the one to murder?"

Straightening to her full height, the woman towers over the girl by the span of more than a half a foot. One milk hued hand comes up and strikes her across the cheek in a sting. "Change. Or this will get worse, you hear me? Do you understand what I'm saying?"

Tough love. It's the lesson of Hokuto.

Fear, pain, distress, these things combine in Anna, the girl whimpering as it happens, "S.. sorry…" She brings out, her voice weak, and it is soon followed up by another spoken fragment, "I.. don't know what.. what I understand anymore…" It's - at least - a honest sentence, even if it's probably not what the woman wanted to hear.

"You understand. You're an intelligent little girl, aren't you?" A long slim finger juts out to a point and pokes the girl hard in the chest. There's still the sheen of anger and frustration in the redhead's eyes. A redhead that seems so familiar somehow. Like tumblers in a lock folding to a key, things begin to slowly click into place for the teen.

Turning her back to Anna, the warrior takes a few steps back into the middle of the clearing and then turns to look over her shoulder. "Stop doing what you're doing and change the course of your life or else I will haunt you until the day you finally end it all." She pivots to face the girl fully before leaping up into the air. The woman disappears from view, wherever she jumped to it's nowhere near here. Or is it?

A soft breeze blows past the nose of the beggar, smelling quite strongly of mint and lavender. "Wake up." The sharp command is nothing as sweet as the mob leader got. It's angry in its delivery.

Back in that bed, in that foreign bed she calls hers, Anna wakes up sweating and her heart pounding like crazy. This was not her normal nightmare, she just knows this. Looking out of the window, she sighs. "Fuck" is her comment, realizing how she's, well… in quite a sticky situation. Probably, anyway…

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