Leaving Seven Oaks on the Seven Oaks Mile
(OOC: Pioloss; from the Seven Oaks Inn)
As Pioloss travelled the well used road of the Seven Oaks Mile, a cool breeze drifted in from the south, carrying with it the faint, salty tang of the ocean. He allowed his eyes to close, losing himself slightly in the pleasing sensation as his tired mind attempted to come to terms with recent events as they played again and again across his mind's eye.
He had never much been one for the company of others. In fact Master Alcott, who was the one person he had actually spent any measure of time with since losing his family, and who was the closest thing he had ever really had to a friend, had more than once cheerfully described Pioloss as “As fun to be around as a Rock Dwarf with his britches full of gravel.” But choosing something and having it forced upon you were two very different things entirely, and after the trouble he had almost caused at the Seven Oaks Inn simply by trying to sit quietly with an ale… Well… It was fast becoming clear to Pioloss that he simply could not trust himself around other people any longer.
God’s alive! How had he let it come to this?!
Pioloss increased the already brisk pace he had set himself, as if he thought that by going fast enough, for far enough, he might actually be able to somehow outrun his troubles. But what use? To what end? Pioloss might as well try to outrun his own heartbeat! Whilst yet he still had one anyway!
It was a moonless night, yet Pioloss saw almost as well through the pitch dark as he would during broad daylight, and the myriad sounds of wildlife filled the night around him. The scurrying feet of dozens of smaller prey animals, the slower, heavier movements of larger, creeping predators, all were clear and alive to him in a way he never before could have even imagined. It was almost beautiful. Almost.
One time from just within the dense woodland to the north Pioloss even thought he caught the sounds of something much larger keeping pace with him as it kept just out of sight behind the foliage. He slowed to a casual walk, icy fingers warning of the danger as they danced along his spine, but he knew that to run or stop would only trigger whatever was out there’s instinct to either chase or attack.
A deep, rumbling growl permeated through the night, and for just a second the pungent tang of wet dog invaded his sensitive nostrils, for some reason making him suddenly want to gag and retch. But then as quickly as it had come, whatever had been stalking him was gone, leaving an almost tangible silence behind in its wake. It was funny though, because Pioloss had always quite liked dogs! Even with the wolves of the wild he had always seemed to share a kind of mutual, if sometimes grudging respect. Dogs were loyal to a fault to their pack, made faithful companions, and their simple motives had always been so much easier for Pioloss to discern and understand than those of the more complex sapient races. Of course, their unerring ability to sniff out the undead was also a big plus point. So how strange that now the mere smell of one should cause such a pronounced, adverse reaction within him...
Still on the Seven Oaks Mile
Twice more that night Pioloss’s escape from Seven Oaks was brought to an abrupt halt as he again caught the faint, gut wrenching aroma of something large and dog-like on the breeze. But both times the scent was gone again so quickly that he couldn’t be entirely sure if it hadn’t just been his imagination playing tricks on him. The rest of the time he kept himself to a punishing pace, being quietly amazed at how little effort his speed seemed to cost him. However by the time the first, far off glimpse of Seabreeze Road rolled into view ahead, a deep malaise had started to take root within him, gentle at first but growing rapidly more intense until it was practically bone deep. At first Pioloss thought nothing of it, simply putting the sudden weariness down to the adrenaline of his earlier, impromptu flight out of the Inn having finally left him.
But as the first glimmer of the morning twilight began to light upon the edge of the horizon ahead, heralding the coming of a new day, Pioloss realised his mistake.
Every instinct within him suddenly screamed for Pioloss to run. To find some dark, shadowy niche somewhere in which he could hide away until the safety of nighttime once more returned. But he determined then and there that he was not going to let his vampirism control him. Call it denial, stupidity, or even just sheer pigheadedness, but Pioloss gritted his teeth stubbornly and ignored his body's frantic pleas as he turned to face the coming dawn. He stood firm and tall as the sky above him turned from black to blue, through to red, and then finally to a golden yellow.
Searing pain the likes of which could never have imagined erupted across every square inch of skin as the first creeping, dagger rays of the sun began to wash over him. Every inch of exposed skin burned, growing tighter and tighter across his face and limbs until it seemed that surely they must either split apart from the pressure, or burst into flames. Pioloss raised his head to scream long and loud into the sky, and as the first silver of the sun rose into the sky was instantly blinded! A deep sense of panic welled up in him then, alongside the growing certainty that he had made a terrible mistake. His scream faded away into a pitiful gurgle as he stood there, blind, burning, and completely helpless on the Seven Oaks Road, and it seemed to him then that he could even hear the flames crackle as they began to dance across his flesh.
Then, as suddenly as if someone had plunged a lit brazier into a barrel full of icy water, it was over, leaving Pioloss gasping and wide eyed as cold sweat streamed down his face. His entire body trembled. He felt weak, wrung out, exhausted, and drained.
Yet he was alive!
Cracking one eye open Pioloss chanced a look above him to see the sun sitting whole and proud in the sky, and never had any sight ever looked so beautiful! Pioloss rejoiced! Throwing his fists in the air as he danced and capered about the open road like a madman! It was as if the fiery orb had somehow burned back some part of the evil within him, leaving him less of a monster and more of a man than he had been just moments before.
Absently he reached down towards his satchel to retrieve a few strips of the dried venison that he kept within as his stomach started to gurgle hungrily. Ah, but even that! Such a small thing: To feel hunger again. But normal, Uman hunger, and not the desperate, all consuming thirst of the Vampire!
“Eh?” He grunted as his hand brushed against the coarse fabric of his robe instead of his satchel.
His brows drew down low in confusion for a moment. Until in the next the image of a certain wooden stool by the bar in the Seven Oaks Inn flashed tauntingly across his mind’s eye. Pioloss’s brows shot back up the other way as if catapulted as he realised he had left the bag that contained his every worldly possession behind without so much as a second thought as he had fled into the night like a frightened child.
“God’s darn and curse it!” He yelled angrily as he turned around and began wearily trudging back the way he had just come, continuing to mutter curses and obscenities under his breath as he went.
But as Pioloss walked with the warm sun at his back, a strange thing began to happen. Try as he might, he couldn’t seem to stop the corners of his mouth from twitching upwards!
Maybe, just maybe, there was still hope for him after all...
OOC: To Seven Oaks Town Square