Do you have a Muse?

 

I know when I am writing, I love to listen to music to help me get inspired with a scene or a character.  Be it a combat scene with something dark and ominous, or say a romantic ballad for one of my lovey dovey scenes.  In the movie Xanadu, the muses were the daughters of Zeus and this song in a way is inspiring.  One of my writer groups asked if anyone was alive (due to a few not posting.)  I posted up this song and announced proudly that I was definitely alive.

~RB~

A curse is broken – SS

 

 

[KINGDOM] Greed : Main Hall.

Razorbackwriter:  The bloody remains of what was Raul’s latest conquest was strewn all about the room. The satin sheets awash with the dark crimson stain that dripped upon the floor leaving small puddles. In the middle of the room however, Lydia was admiring her new face. She kept touching her cheek bones and turning this way and that in front of the mirror. She no longer even looked like Lydia, but had taken on the face of the girl that unknowingly sacrificed her life. Raul sighed as he stood in behind her, almost bored with it all. The things he had to do, in order to keep Lydia amused was tiresome. He was using her as much as she was using him. It was a partnership with similar goals. Lydia was the Demon of Ambition and Raul had many ambitions himself, that could be fulfilled if he played his cards right. The girl whose family would probably never know just what horrors befell her as she took her final breaths. Her skin was more or less ripped from her body leaving behind bloody entrails and bone. Lydia harvested the girl like a fine surgeon would if helping a burns victim. Now with a renewed sense of energy, she felt she could face those that remained downstairs. Little did she know that the ballroom had emptied out into the neighboring streets of Hell.

Taking up a fan, she waved it gently almost as she plotted her next scheme. But she would be interrupted as Raul let out a roar of anger. He could feel it. Something…something had broken one of his most prized possessions. The anger swelled and flowed through him as he started for the balcony. He threw open the shutter doors and marched out onto the platform that overlooked the Maze of Greed. His red eyes scanned the winding hedge walls and he sniffed the air. Turning on his heel he barked at Lydia.

“WHO IS IN THE MAZE?”

Lydia blinked, as she was too busy enjoying her new face. “What? Why? Just Scar and that….silly young witch.” Lydia was playing dumb for now. She had never seen Raul this enraged before. If his blood could boil this strongly over a trifle matter, she started to wonder if he was more of a threat than first thought.

“Someone…broke Bandit’s collar.”

“Whose Bandit?” Lydia again was clearly not up to speed on Raul’s list of lovers and toys. She edged out onto the balcony and gave a shrug of the shoulders. “Why are you worrying over some…girl when you have me?’

 

The flowers that bloomed in the small garden that lined the castle wall all started to wither and die as Raul’s face was now distorting to a very ugly version of himself. It was now no longer a matter to joke about. Raul didn’t love Lydia at all, and he threw his head back and started laughing. “Just cause you have a new face, doesn’t mean I don’t fancy others.”Truth was he hated losing what he believed belonged to him. To him, Bandit was a possession and one he intended on keeping. He had left her in the maze on purpose, but had not expected that anyone, let alone a young witch would have the power to remove the collar. It was the work of a greater power. It had to be. Lydia stomped her foot indignantly, when she heard Raul say that he fancied others. “I don’t share men.” But before she could get another word in….Raul vanished from sight. He was headed to the maze….to find Bandit and the one that removed the collar.

Lydia let out a loud scream as she threw her fan at the wall.

“I DON’T SHARE!”

 

 

~RB~

The Maze of Greed – Part Seven : SS.

 

In order to help the human called Bandit, a curse would need to be broken.  Mariela has the strength to do it, but at what price?

Scene setting : The Maze of Greed – Seven Sins series.

Co-written with Dessy and Artie.

 

Dessy:  “My bad. Lydia is the cause of everything.” Mariela mumbled under her breath. She looked down at Bandit again, nodding her head in agreement. “Hm. I think “manipulative” fits him well.” she said, but looked up at Scar when she asked the questions. She kept silent, watching Scar as she let him answer the question about why they couldn’t use the hat. She still didn’t say anything, instead just frowning at Scar’s words. “You would think that every maze would have an exit. But, being how Lydia is pure evil, it wouldn’t surprise me if she didn’t make an exit.” she said, but gave the girl a small smile. “But don’t worry. We’ll find a way out of this maze.” she spoke determinedly.

Her gaze turned to Scar when he spoke about there being an exit. She raised an eyebrow, before pushing herself to stand up. “And that exit is…?” she started, narrowing her eyes as an eerie smile played on his lips. Then, he spoke again.

“You’d have to defeat Lydia.”

Mariela flinched at those words. “Should’ve seen that coming…” she gave a nervous laughter. Sure, she was a bit pissed at Lydia, but Mariela honestly doubted that she’d be strong enough to defeat Lydia. Lydia was clever, and evil. Powerful, even. Mariela was not. “Of course. In order to get out of this Danger Zone, we have to destroy whatever created it.” she spoke. “Which is Lydia.” she said. “Yeah, uh, is there another way out?” she spoke. “I mean, I wanna get out of this place, and I’m not the happiest with Lydia right now, but…” she trailed off. “Fighting Lydia? The Queen of all evil? I doubt there’sany chance in defeating her.” she spoke, now biting the corner of her mouth. She should have expected that defeating Lydia would stop this mess. She looked down towards Bandit again, continuing to bit her lip. She seemed to do that when she was nervous or scared. Bandit still needed help… but they had to get out of the maze.

 

Artie:  “Lydia.. Lydia..” Bandit searched for the name to put to a face, but could find nothing. She hadn’t yet heard of the new management in Greed, and to be frank, she didn’t care much for any of the royals. “I’d help, but if she’s some ‘Queen of Evil,’ I don’t think even at full strength I’d be able to help you much. I mean, I can’t help at all, now. I can’t feel my legs.” Bandit seemed bitter at her lack of abilities in general. It figured that she was the most under-powered in this realm, and without legs, she was an ant to others. Though she couldn’t feel her legs, the slight dampness that continued to creep showed they were still bleeding. Maybe not gushing, but the wounds had yet to fully close. Her breathing had remained hard and rough as she remained calm, keeping herself from screaming. This, at least, showed her stubbornness and willpower. If she’d had some sort of powers, she’d be a worthy adversary, indeed.

Her eyes stared into Scar’s without break, matching his own seriousness. This only furthered her show of will. “I’m assuming that this is the only way, aside from that hat, because life has to always be difficult, doesn’t it? Things can’t just be simple in Hell?” Bandit perked a brow, slight sarcasm and more bitter feelings creeping into her tone. It was more how ridiculous this all felt – what, was she in some sort of novel or something? Of course there had to be an ultimatum, and neither choice favorable.. Though, she barely knew Scar, and she was one for her own survival. Bandit wouldn’t have hesitated to take the hat, as she felt nothing to Scar… nor Mariela.

 

Razorbackwriter:  The smell of blood was wafting up from the ground where Bandit lay. Mariela’s attempt to heal the girl fell short of actually closing her wounds. Not to mention that the girl was now paralyzed from the waist down. If she couldn’t move off the ground, then what chance did she have to escape the maze. Scar’s smile remained fixed as he tilted his head downward and looked at that jeweled collar once more. The girl claimed that it caused hallucinations, but at the moment, the girl was speaking perfectly normal and not showing a touch of madness. Maybe the charm had worn off, or the Master of the collar was pre-occupied. Perhaps he was up in the castle Greed right now, banging Lydia. Who was to say? It was no secret that she took lovers now and again. Scar though, wasn’t her cup of tea. But back to the girl on the ground. She was showing her sarcastic edge, when lamenting that the only way out, aside from the hat would be difficult.

“Life wasn’t meant to be a picnic, girly.” The Alp was already feeling that standing around in this part of the maze was using up valuable time. Scar reached up and straightened the hat on his head to a more fitted position. Rounding on Mariela, he went to take her hands, and then whispered.

“Try to remove the collar. Focus…on the jewels. It was made by a Warlock, and I think you are strong enough to break it.” Scar stared at Mariela without looking down at the girl again.

“Free her from the link with Raul. It may be her only chance out of here. After that, she’s on her own.”

~RB~

 

Dessy:  Mariela turned her head to look at Bandit and gave an apologetic smile. “Once again, I’m sorry for that…” she apologized for Bandit’s lack of feeling in her legs. “And Lydia is a powerful individual. I, myself, probably couldn’t beat her.” she said. Mariela couldn’t help but laugh at Bandit’s next words. “I’ll be the first to tell you that Hell is far from simple.” she said, before turning to look at Scar when he spoke. She simply nodded her head in agreement, before Scar walked towards her and took her hands in his. He then told her to try removing the collar. “What makes you so sure I’m strong enough to break it, Scar? What if I can’t?”

Oh Mariela, self-doubting herself and her strength. The girl was much stronger than she thought or claimed she was – and it was obvious Scar could see that while she couldn’t. Lydia clearly had saw it, as well. But Mariela didn’t believe it. “I’ll try…” she said, removing her hands from Scar’s grasp and walking towards Bandit. She sat on her knees to the girl’s right, narrowing her eyes and looking down at the collar. “I’m gonna try to get this off… Don’t move…” she said. She took her hand and ran it over the jewels on the collar, staring at them. Scar told her to focus on the jewels. That meant it was something with the jewels that could break the collar off.

 

Artie:  The blonde would furrow her brows as Mariela moved closer, placing her hand on the collar and the jewels inscribed within it. Almost instantly, Bandit had winced away from her hand, further opening the door for Mariela to see her hard background… but at the moment, more things were important. Bandit bit her bottom lip, waiting, pondering… Her eyes closed as Mariela thought and pondered, an almost impatient feeling spreading through Bandit if she had not been so anxious herself. And then… A crack, the collar beginning to break itself open — air. Cold air pressed against her neck where it’d once been covered by the collar, a laugh of relief coming from Bandit’s lips as excitement filled her despite her disabled form. “Hey… Hey! You.. You did it! Shit! That’s awesome!” Her hands would move as she gripped the collar, tossing it away and then raising her hands to rub her neck, feeling at the skin that could now breathe..

 

 

 

Ruby – SS.

 

A new chapter in the Seven Sins series, with Valmont – the Ambassador meeting a young woman known simply as Ruby.

Scene setting – Isolated Cliff – Seven Sins series.

This arc is co-written with Zu.

 

Zu:  

https://i2.wp.com/i.imgur.com/M2Maz2v.jpg
Nothing, absolute nothing.

The Path of Souls called to her as she made her way here, and now without their moans and groans, she was alone and things were dead quiet. The lonely ghost would be like this for a little while, she just wanted some peace and quiet. The girl’s name was Ruby, though nobody knew that nor knew this ghost was female. The only thing people know about her is the nickname associated with her, Bloody Hood. A drifter, lazily moving from one end to another without anyone noticing her. Was it for the better? Nobody could live this sad life, nobody except Ruby. Ghosts weren’t too common here, because they would either have their own bodies or take control of others, making it their own as time past. For Ruby, she was just… human looking. There was no body to possess, nobody would want her. Ruby would just be here, alone. That was just the way she wanted it to be, yet when that thought sprang to life, a tear fell off her cheek; was it what she truly wanted?

 

Razorbackwriter:  The black carriage drawn by two horses that matched perfectly came to a stop just off the pathway that lead to one of the quieter, more isolated parts of Hell. Resting on the window ledge was a gloved hand that drummed the sides as the carriage shunted to a stop. The driver knocked on the roof of the carriage to signal their arrival, and a loud sigh was heard from within. Valmont opened the carriage door slowly, and then descended the small foot holds till landing with both heeled shoes on the light gravel surface.

“Return the carriage to my abode. I need time to think.”

The Driver gave a curt nod, his face partially obscured by a black face mask – only his red eyes could be seen. He clicked his tongue and snapped on the reigns so the carriage would start to move and head back to town. Valmont stood solemnly, before slowly removing the ornate black mask that he was going to wear to the Greed Ball. Word was already spreading of how the festivities had turned into a blood bath. Scores of demons having fled the scene and running past Valmont’s carriage in the town square. So much for the ambassador’s plans that eve. What with the royalty scattering like cockroaches back into their own kingdoms, there would be no need for Valmont’s services.

Slowly, the well dressed Incubus strolled up the pathway to what would be a sheer cliff face with a look out. It was the perfect place to think…to contemplate. To regroup.

As he walked along, he kicked a few small stones – his face so pale, thanks to the makeup that he wore so often. He still liked to keep some traditions alive from his former life. Oh how easy it was then. Now, however there were changes coming once more. Perhaps not a war, like that of Wrath….but there was a feeling of uncertainty. If only Valmont had the clairvoyance to see that far ahead.

It was only when Valmont lifted his gaze, did he notice the outline of what looked to be a hooded woman. The Incubus glanced about to see if she was truly alone, and all he saw was dark bushes and a stone bench. There was no one else there. Could she be admiring the view on such a night?

Valmont took out a small silver box of snuff, and tapped on the lid to open it. He brought a pinch of it up to his right nostril and inhaled sharply. Throwing his head back and letting out a loud gasp. That was the ticket. He snapped the silver box shut once more. The noise sure to be loud enough to let the woman know….she was not alone.

~RB~

 

Zu:  Though she rather have some company, for some strange reason, it was nice to be by yourself. Ruby knew that more than anyone else what it was like to be alone… but did anyone know what it was like to be afriad. She wasn’t so well known, but those who could see her red hood knew she was a killer, nothing more. That sort of thought really sent a chill down Ruby’s spine, her body shaking only for a moment. It had been what seemed like years, decades even, since she first arrived here. How was the question of the century; Ruby only had the most vague of dreams, if that’s what they even were, about her past but it never was clear. Her thoughts would come to a halt, because she suddenly heard a noise behind her. Her instincts kicked in, and she jumped off her seat and landed on her feet, blade ready when she was in her readied stance. Ruby had let her guard down, but it seemed like nothing because she didn’t see anyone… at first. Ruby wasn’t too sure, but she thought she could see someone a bit in the distance. Ruby didn’t call out to this outline.

 

Razorbackwriter:  The snap of the snuff box had done the trick. Though it might have startled the hooded girl, rather than just alerting her to the fact that there was someone else there on that windy cliff. Valmont drew his head back slightly at the way that the girl leapt up, sword at the ready. A feisty one indeed. The incubus carefully deposited his snuff box back into the breast pocket of his velvet jacket, before sweeping his gloved hand across the flap to ensure it was tucked away safely.

A shock of red fabric, that was the first thing that Valmont noticed about the lass. That…and the fact she was ready to attack, should he make a sudden move. This was the reason that Valmont moved with a fluid like motion, so as not to alarm the girl further.

“Ah ah.” Valmont waggled his finger to and fro, ,before speaking in an almost condescending way. “A gentleman can be killed with such a blade, and dearie, I am not looking for a fight.” With all the finesse of a poet he added. “I have died many small deaths, well before this night.”

Slowly, he started to stroll towards the girl, before stopping just out of blade range. He still held the mask in his hand and then as any gentleman would do on meeting a young lady for the first time, he stepped back with his right foot, his arms swanning out as he made a more formal introduction.

“Vicomte de Valmont…I am the Ambassador to the Seven kingdoms.”

Would the ruby hooded young lady attempt to slice him in two, as he rose from his bow?

~RB~

 

Zu:  Ruby just stood there, scythe at the ready. However did that, they should have snuck up on her if their intention was to kill. Ruby wasn’t a pushover when it came to taking care of herself. Finally, the man that alerted her to his presence stepped out of the dark to reveal that… he wasn’t the killer type. Ruby almost let down her blade, but realized it could have been a ploy and it only made her grip it more tightly. Ruby knew that if this man, who she would know as Valmont, would try to attack her, she wouldn’t be in a great position. Who knew just how far, if there was even an end, to this cliff. Ruby knew this, and because of this, didn’t turn around to find out. He spoke, and the way he spoke wasn’t to Ruby’s liking. It was almost like he was taunting her, was he confident in his abilities?

He came closer, without any regret, and it only made Ruby tense up even more. As of late, her opponents were nothing to her but she had never experianced someone like this before. Ruby took a step back, peddles signaling her to stop because she was indeed on the edge, figuratively and literally. Just as he was close to the blade, which got even closer to his throat, he just.. stepped back. This caused Ruby to once again lower her guard a bit. After introducing himself, he just stopped movement all together. This was her chance, if he was an enemy, to strike. Yet, no matter how much she wanted to, Ruby only spun her blade behind her to put it away. She just looked at Valmont, with not an expression or a response. Her entire face was still covered.

 

Razorbackwriter:  It was almost like playing Russian roulette. The bow made at a point where the girl had every chance to slice him through if she felt so inclined. Valmont had speed, oh yes – but, this was far more exhilarating to live on the edge. He had dealt with some of hell’s worst and then some. Stood at the foot of the dais of each and every throne in Hell and managed to come out alive, either by sheer luck or the magic of his silver tongue. Though whilst in the movement of the bow, his face was partially obscured from the hooded maiden’s view, he could only bare a grin as he felt the seconds tick by and he had not been attacked. Had his actions caused her to second guess what only came natural? Perhaps.

On rising he watched the girl spin the blade and re-sheath it neatly behind her. Valmont did his utmost to hide his look of satisfaction, and decided since the girl did not wish to speak, that it would be left for him to do so.

“Thank you.” Valmont gave a light head tilt with a nod to show appreciation for her actions. The incubus reached for his right frilly cuff and gave it a small tug, before walking towards the edge of the cliff. There was nothing to stop him from falling, and he simply stared outward as though something else now plagued his mind. It was hard to tell, except when he held up the mask that he was to wear at the party. He turned it over in his hand and then without word he simply released it and watched it flutter away. The wind taking it….to God knows where.

Valmont lowered his hand slowly and then brought both hands around to clasp behind his back. He should have been at that ball this eve. Had he not been made late. Now he was truly behind the game. The chess pieces had all moved without his hand and it annoyed him greatly. Finally, he spoke.

“What is a life…without purpose? Hmm?”

The incubus glanced sideways at the hooded girl, and wondered if she felt the same way.

~RB~

 

Zu:  Just because she had put away her weapon did not mean she wasn’t watching his every move, though she felt a bit more safe than she normally would, was this just a part of his presence? Ruby had never felt like this before, being so safe. This wouldn’t mean she would trust Valmont, he looked very shady and by that knowledge, wasn’t that different from the other beings in Hell that she had encountered. He had thanked her for sparing his life, and Ruby didn’t give so much as a nod of acknowledgement to his words of gratitude. He stepped beside her, his presence not arousing any sort of hostility toward her. Ruby wouldn’t quite capture his face, thanks to the mask, but she saw some features, though they were very vague, like his ears. However, when he let his mask come off, his face was clear.

Valmont wasn’t like the people she saw daily, he was more… noble. He must have been powerful if he looked like that, only those with such a figure would be powerful, financially. Ruby watched the mask fly away, something like that simply had no meaning for him. He spoke once again, this time asking something quite obscure, according to Ruby. She turned her head toward him, giving this blank stare that wasn’t revealed as the hood was the only thing he could see out of her face. Nothing came out of her mouth, as usual, but by her body language, she was confused.

 

Razorbackwriter:  

https://i1.wp.com/p5.storage.canalblog.com/51/08/289978/12602811.jpg

“No words?….Nothing? Not even a titter? I must be losing my touch.” Valmont lamented, as the hooded girl stared at him as though she was completely confused by not only Valmont’s words, but also his actions. He held a hand out to the wind as though to shake someone’s hand.

“The mask was for a society do this eve. Not that I got to see it.” He paused only briefly before adding. ” Not that it matters.” It was almost like the Ambassador was talking to himself. The incubus smiled weakly before turning to look out at the vast expanse of emptiness that was before them both. Hell for many was a prison of sorts, for others a playground to commit wicked deeds. There were those that took advantage of the less fortunate souls trapped within its confines. To be standing on the edge of the cliff was as far as you could get from the swollen belly of sin. This was the one place that Valmont would come to think, to regather his thoughts, and to plot his next move. Course, the Princes of Hell had kept him quite busy up till now. That was before the war…before the change of guard. Women. Ha, and one of them was actually a man cursed to be a woman. Mammon had a sense of humor at the last moments of his life. The daft git.

Women were to Valmont, what wine was to an alcoholic. He was addicted, drawn to savor the warm boldness of taste, though Valmont bawked at going anywhere near the likes of Lydia. The new Princess of Greed. Foul woman she was. He imagined that her juices tasted like vinegar….or worse. He even shuddered at the very thought. Ew.

But this once, as he stood along side the mute in the flowing red cape, he did not feel the usual urges to conquer. Strange. He really was off his game. Oh…hell.

“Did your enemy remove your tongue?” He started to wonder, if this creature was in fact, a lost soul.

~RB~

 

Never give up.

For 15 years, doctors told this then 47-year old war veteran, that he would never walk unassisted again. And for that long, he believed in them. That was until a courageous American retired pro wrestler, fitness instructor and actor Diamond Dallas Page came along, and decided to give him a helping hand.