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    Slowly fading into nihility...
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  1. At the sudden sound of gunshots and the Mystic's command, Locke's eyes snapped open as he instinctively rolled low across the narrow entryway into a side room with a single door. Sliding his way to cover, he glanced back out the doorway to the smaller room as he watched the surprise ambush on Ji and the others shatter the calm stillness of the morning. After watching the clash of Mystics for a few moments, Locke gathered his bearings before glancing over to his left towards the doors leading outside the hospital. It made him pause for a moment: he could leave now, and no one would notice. This wasn't his fight- it was never his fight to begin with, nor did he really want it to be. Locke had nothing to gain from an overthrown government and the murder of some assassin with a cryptic name. None of that mattered to him. But something inside him wouldn't let him leave. Not like this... Locke already knew what he had to do. Frowning as he looked back to the center of the hideout with a soft growl of frustration, Locke kept his eyes towards the fight in the middle of the chaotic room as he carefully began slipping his way along the edge of the wall, moving with the controlled speed and precision of someone who had been in a situation like this more than once. Using the pillars in the room as cover and angling his positioning behind them to mask his approach from the attacking Corhic's and undead, he slowly made his way to the far end of the room behind where the two Mystics stood, waiting for an opening. It was only a matter of seconds before Locke saw his opening. Elya--who's name Locke had almost missed in the middle of the fray--broke free of the swarming undead and began to rush the Corhic Mystics in a bold rushing attack. The female Mystic who was controlling the undead seemed preoccupied with the counterattack, her assault to take down Ji, and retrieving her brother all at the same time. Now. Dashing around the pillar towards the Mystics without a second thought, Locke rushed forward at a full sprint. Then, when he was only a few paces from the female Corhic that hadn't slowed, Locke jumped forward as he threw his legs toward the Deathbringer and kicked hard into her ribs with both feet. Locke wasn't entirely sure if it had been enough to break any ribs, but it was enough to heavily stagger the Mystic and hopefully provide an opening for Elya if she could dodge between the undead corpses the Corhic Mystic had thrown in her way. "Come on..." Locke grunted under his breath as he pushed off the female Deathbringer and hit the floor with a thud, rolling back onto his feet as he landed and dodging out of the way of a possible kick from the teetering Mystic.
  2. Sitting just inside the entryway to the hideout, Locke sat quietly with his back against the wall, his legs tucked towards him and his arms folded limply on his knees. At some point last night, Locke had moved to sit back inside the building when the temperature had begun to drop and the cold air became uncomfortable. He wasn't exactly sure when that had been though, nor did he remember seeing Ji or the other individuals step inside last night either- Locke guessed he had probably dozed off at some point while he had been waiting for Ji to return. The previous evening had been a blur in more ways than one, and the same restless sleep he had gotten last night, like every other night, left him feeling hollow and empty this morning. That devoid feeling continued to linger with him as the other Mystics in the building began to wake. Much of the idle conversation that morning had gone in one ear and out the other, but fragments regarding this Angel of Death and Ji's past it left Locke with only more things to think about, with something about Ji's story that poked at the back of his mind like a pulsing headache after a bad hangover. Leaning his head back against the wall with a gentle thump, Locke calmly closed his eyes and exhaled as he continued to listen.
  3. Giving a wry smile, Locke shrugged his shoulders as he put his hands in his pockets. "Very well," he responded calmly, "I can be patient." Spinning nimbly off of the pillar he was leaning against, Locke turned and began walking towards the front exit in compliance. Pulling the small pack of cigarettes from his jacket, he removed one from the box with his teeth before placing the rest back into his pocket. Locke also pulled his lighter out of his pocket, but waited until he had stepped outside the building before he started smoking. Returning his lighter to his jacket once the cigarette in his mouth began to burn, Locke let out a long, cloudy exhale as he stood on the stairs outside. "It was worth a shot..." he mumbled to himself with a hint of amusement. Then moving over to where he had been sitting on the steps earlier that day, Locke resumed his position of sitting cross-legged outside the hospital as he quietly looking up at the sky, his mind slowly turning to idle thoughts of empires and revolutions.
  4. "That's why I'm here," Locke replied calmly, "By all means, explain away."
  5. "I find that hard to believe- actions always speak louder than words. You, Ji, and your company of friends who follow have been cutting down Pacis in the streets like a pack of hyenas on some ravenous hunt. I've seen the bodies in the streets, the walkways that are stained red with their blood, and you and your 'rebellion' standing over it all. Those explosives that were set to detonate within the Pacis outpost? Do you not see a problem with that? It doesn't matter if the building didn't go up in flames- the message you sent was a bomb in itself. You've made yourselves a threat. Terrorists, a riot- call it what you may. How many other people do you think will 'rise up' like this is some sort of revolution? How many more Pacis do you think will rally against this cause before the whole nation is fighting against you? By your actions, how can anyone not see this as an attempt to tear down an established order, only for a new one to take its place?" Locke paused for a moment, shaking his head softly as he set his jaw. "I'm not a Pacis hunting you down. I'm not an undercover cop prying for information, and I'm not some Dovish Monk preaching nearsighted repentance," Locke sighed, "These days I'm just a man in the slums- maybe an idealist yes, but still just a man. Yet where I have come from, I've seen enough to already know how this story can end. Which is why I intend to do something about it. I have learned from history- my history- and I will not allow it to be repeated. Not while someone else still has time to rewrite their history. "So I ask again, who is the Angel of Death?"
  6. "I'm just a man that would rather not see this city fall into complete anarchy by the hands of a couple of Mystics," Locke said, underhand tossing the woman's throwing knife safely to the side when she didn't reach for it. "So, I intend to do something about it," he continued, folding his arms across his chest, "Who's the Angel of Death?"
  7. "Don't let me keep you from your beauty rest," Locke retorted to the first man before glancing back over at the Mystic who had thrown the knife, "but yes, I am. If I hadn't left your hideout here when I did though it would have been overrun by Pacis within the next hour- that, I can promise you. Consider the fact that I'm back here me simply upholding that promise." Leaning his shoulder against the stone pillar with the new cut in it, Locke met the eyes of the green haired Mystic. "Besides, Ji said I was more than welcome if I ever found myself back here again though, didn't he?" Shrugging his shoulders as though responding to his own question, Locke looked around the open room from where he stood, a troubled look drawn across his face. After a brief moment of hesitation, he sighed quietly. "I don't get it..." he mumbled as he shook his head, tapping the knife's handle against his leg idly, "But... maybe I just won't get it. Why you do all of this? Why you have to fight the Pacis? Why you brand yourselves as terrorists? Why your first instinct is violence?" Looking back at the woman with the large sword at her side, Locke extended his arm out to her, the handle of the knife in his fingers pointed towards the Mystic. "Why of all the paths you could take, you chose this one?" Locke finished softly, a look of genuine honesty in his eyes.
  8. Lowering his hand from his face and focusing his eyes on the knife next to his head, Locke reached up and pulled the blade from the pillar with two fingers on his other hand. "Give it another day or two," Locke mumbled to the first man, "and I'm sure you'll be on your own poster." "I guess wanting to know why he thought to attack a Pacis outpost was a good idea would be a place to start," he continued with slight exasperation. Glancing over at the third Mystic, Locke seemed to pause for a moment. Noticing the abnormal amount of bandages discarded around the other Mystic, something in Locke's eyes almost seemed to change. "You don't look so well..." Locke said with a calculating eye. @DramaQueen
  9. Running up the last few steps to the old hospital, Locke carefully slipped his way inside the building at a swift pace. Making his way into the structure, he paused only for a moment before stepping into the large room at its center, his eyes scanning the shadowed corners and dark side rooms briefly for any immediate signs of danger. At no immediate sign of threat, Locke continued his way into the open space at the center of the hideout. As he began making his way deeper into the larger room, Locke caught eye of a few of the Mystics he had seen earlier that day behind some of the pillars nearby. Stopping a safe distance away from them, Locke intensely turned his attention towards them. "Where's Ji?" he demanded, a much harder tone resonating in his voice than earlier that day. It was only as Locke said those words though that he noticed the state of the Mystics, each one clearly not at their full strength as evident by their tired expressions and bloodstained attire- Locke hardly even had to guess what had caused those injuries. With deflated look, Locke exhaled loudly as he rubbed his eyes with one hand. "Where's Ji?" he repeated softly, the hardness in his tone fading slightly.
  10. Drowning out the nearby cries of shock and calls to order that echoed from multiple streets over, Locke purposefully drove himself onward as he quickly walked back towards the city slums. After having retrieved his letter of leverage and misguiding hope elsewhere, Locke had taken time to think over his conversation with Ji as he began to wander through the walkways once more. To his surprise though, there had been another flagrant attack on the Pacis; it was under similar circumstances as the attack from the previous day, with a group of mystics attacking a nearby Pacis outpost; only this time it had been much worse. Locke had seen the lifeless corpses in the streets. He had seen the frustration in the Pacis as they sought to retain order among the sudden chaos. He had seen the onlookers and civilians being driven back by the officers in an attempt to obtain such order. He had seen the rioters and thrill-seekers begin to push back against the Pacis. Now, the Pacis were beginning to sweep the nearby streets, attempting to subdue any further revolts or outcries of injustice within the section of the city. The attack on the outpost wasn’t big enough to incite total anarchy among the people of Zvso, but it felt as though all of the wrong strings were being pulled, and a haunting tension was drawn tight in the air. Pressing onward, Locke’s eyes were set straight ahead. His gaze was not that of a chaotic inferno, but a single flame. One flame, which had long been hidden within ash and ember, now alight once more and condensed into its purest form: controlled fury- passion. Turning the final corner, Locke looked up at the abandoned hospital as he began making his way towards it.
  11. Nodding his head once, Locke returned his lighter back to its concealed pocket before placing his hands into his jacket once more. Stepping past Ji and back into the large central room, Locke paused for a moment as he glanced over at the nearby Mystic with dark green hair. He stopped for a couple of seconds, looking at the Mystic's gleaming sword then back at her. It almost looked as if Locke was about to speak, but instead he gave a shallow nod before turning away and continuing towards the exit. Crossing his way through the room towards the old doorway, Locke said nothing more as he left the hospital and stepped outside.
  12. "No one," Locke said with a soft smile, "Like I said, I'm just a random bum you'll probably forget you ever met." Reaching his free hand inside his jacket, Locke pulled out the lighter that he kept in his chest pocket. Striking the wheel to spark a quivering flame, he carefully held the corner of the folded paper in his other hand just above the dancing light, watching as the edge of the paper caught fire. "You may recall that I have a letter that needs to be reclaimed before nightfall," Locke stated as he eyed the burning paper in his fingers, "With your permission, I would like to leave now to ensure that I have plenty of time to take care of that." Just before its flame singed his fingers, Locke dropped the charcoaled scraps to the floor in front of him, after which he scrapped his boot across the ashen debris to snuff out the lingering embers and destroy what else remained.
  13. "You're right Ji. Nothing can fix what they've done to you," sighed Locke calmly, gesturing towards Ji and the surging power in his veins with an open hand, "Not like this..." Locke stepped away from the window to stand directly in front of Ji, his brow furrowing as he searched for something in the eyes of the younger Mystic, any look of laziness now gone from his stare. "Justice is an eye for an eye. If this Angel of Death took your life away, and if it means anything coming from a stranger you've only just met, you have my full support in your demands of a life for a life," Locke said coolly as he retrieved the folded piece of paper from his jacket, "But the Pacis will come and go; and if not them, someone is going to be out for your neck. So don't gouge out the eyes of everyone else who gets in your way simply because they inconvenience the goal you seek- that is what changes you from a murderer looking for some vague form of satisfaction, to a man seeking retribution for a wrong he never deserved." Leaning forward slightly, Locke lowered his voice so only Ji could hear. "I said that you reminded me of someone," Locke whispered, "I guess, I just don't want to see anyone make the same mistake that they did."
  14. Locke met Ji's eyes, feeling the burning fury behind every word that was spoken. Expressionless yet still holding an air of solemnity, Locke finally broke away from Ji's gaze after nearly a full minute of silence. "You know, I once knew someone like you..." Locke said softly. Placing the folded piece of paper still held in his fingers back into his jacket pocket, he pushed himself upright from the window sill. Then, brushing the loose dirt from his sleeve and straightening his jacket, Locke placed his hands into his pockets. "The Pacis can't stop you, and neither can I. But from one person trapped in these slums to another..." Locke paused for a moment, as though he were struggling to find the words to say, "... It never goes away Ji... After all is said and done, when this Angel you're looking for is nothing more than a lifeless corpse, and every walkway in Odhek is stained red with the blood of the Pacis who stood in your way..." Locke looked into Ji's eyes one more time, nodding pointedly towards him. "That feeling... it never goes away."
  15. Locke said nothing as his gaze fell to an empty corner of the room. "Revenge..." he whispered softly, almost as if to himself. Seconds passed as a distant look veiled Locke's eyes, before finally giving a few shallow nods as he turned back to Ji. "If that is why you fight, then I only have one final question... Where does your fight end?"
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