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Coiled in the Darkness

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Tendrils of mist pooled around the coiled and slinking form of Lord Shikari, first predator among all who were prey before Him. His form was wound tightly, ever muscle readied and still, prepared for the fight at a moment's notice.

Which is why He is utterly frustrated with His travelling companion's utter silence and stillness before Him.

Poised. Collected. As silent as the moment right after prey is dead, but before the scavengers moved in. Dread, the sound of nothingness.

And Shikari hated it. He wanted to hear the blood pumping through veins. The rush of the hunt. At the very least, the sound of footsteps that They were still going in the right direction.

“What, pray tell, is the hold-up?” Shikari said, voice radiating with heat and warmth, mingling with the air that hung humid and thick with the moisture of plants of animals alike. “Nocht?” Shikari said before stilling as He turned towards Him. The look on Nocht's face was one of annoyance, and likely not with the pun Shikari had managed to let slip out.

Sweat pooled across Nocht's torso, visible beneath the sheer cloak the flowed from His back, barely covering His form. Shikari's lips twitched briefly, admiring that Nocht had thought to dress lightly. He was dressed in typical hunting garb, wickedly tipped spear in hand. And sweating because of it. Leather mingled with sweat and hair, sticking to inked skin, the faint aroma of tanned hide tickling Shikari's nose.

“Are we lost, Nocht? Oh great diviner of paths?” Shikari said, voice rumbling in dissatisfaction, gripping His spear hard, divinely imbued wood creaking from the strain.

Nocht finally drew Himself up taller, cloak failing to billow ominously, instead sticking to slick sweat-drenched skin, outlining the curvature of muscles along His arms and abdomen. “We are an impasse. We must take a moment.” Nocht's voice was cool and quiet, the sound of cold water against the heat and scent of decaying and rotting trees. Shikari closed His eyes briefly, drinking in the sound. The closest to a respite from the misery. The moment was broken in the time it took a single bead of sweat to curve down Shikari's spine, jolting Him back to the present with a frustrated bark.

“An impasse? How exactly?” The rumbling intensified, sending nearby vermin scattering away from the trees nearby, terrified of that which they had no way of understanding.

Nocht turned away briefly. “Something has started to obfuscate that We are after.”

How delightfully detailed. “How exciting. So You cut through it, and hear it despite that, do You not? Or have Your times away from the hunt dulled Your senses like all of Your circle?” Shikari said, voice filled with venom.

He did not falter when Nocht spun around, darkness looming above Him, sky creaking in barely restrained fury.

“Do not speak to Me of the hunt, Brother. You who hunted into the void and back. You who left Us for Your own satisfaction,” Nocht said, voice that had once been a cool pond now colder than the void itself, shivering shards of icicles sending daggers down Shikari's back, muscles twitching once in response to the venom offered back at Him.

“I do not think You remember who You speak to, Nocht,” Shikari said, silent refusal to speak of siblings deep on His tongue, causing something to shiver across Nocht's features reminiscent of a stone across a smooth pond, disappearing in ripples. “You spoke of promises. Of finding what was taken of Me and Mine while I hunted. And when I brought back what I promised. And You will find where it is hidden, or-”

“Or what?” Nocht said, voice nearly as quiet as the jungle was loud.

Shikari narrowed His eyes. A single step to the left, as He realized He was pointing His spear directly at Nocht's heart. “Or-”

“You would not win that fight,” Nocht said, eyes half-lidded, unmoving. His cloak rustled once, hands doing something unseen.

“We have fought. And I prevailed. Unless You've learned some new trick?” Shikari said before leaping to the side as something extremely large and heavy crashed into the tree next to Him, splintering it down the middle.

All instinct turned towards dodging whatever it was that kept darting out from the darkness surrounding Nocht, darkness and sound mingling with the shrill cries of beasts fleeing the sudden carnage, all senses focused, but unable to hear them approaching, supernaturally silenced. Spear lancing out, Shikari managed to pierce one of the coils of darkness just as it hit a tree but before it disappeared, earning a hiss from the now invisible crechemate of His.

Black ichor coated the spear tip, reminiscent of a forbidden elixir, yet far sweeter scented. “Dabbling in the profane, while I was gone, have You?” Shikari said, sliding under yet another tendril of ink void blackness.

Even the best predator could be moved into an unwinnable situation as He realized His back had been turned to Nocht at some point in the fight, heat and coldness suddenly mingling. “The very fact You think I would touch the stuff is morally repugnant to Me, and shows that You remember Me not at All,” Nocht hissed into Shikari's ears, icy-cold breath sending shivers down Shikari's spine.

The inky darkness that had speared at Him from the darkness was now wrapped around His arms and legs, pressing Him against His crechemate tightly, unable to move.

“What is that's been said? Keep fighting and you will just die tired?” Nocht said, voice almost humorous, but still colder than a grave.

“We both know I can not stop fighting. That would be like asking Eventru to shut up,” Shikari said, breath ragged and strained as a tendril coiled around His neck, all His muscles straining against the bindings, heat and cold raging across His skin.

“Then We will fight until You're tired, and I have the silence to find Your precious temple,” Nocht said, vines tightening around Shikari, causing stars to appear in the predator's vision. It had been so long since He had felt genuine pain, even out in the void. Darkness seeped into His vision even as He struggled, tearing at the vines, sweet scent mingling with it, the only thing visible at the end was the darkness of night, or perhaps of Lord Nocht.