Seeing Red – a Blood Moon character study | SSS 2018 **_When the Blood Moon calls, it sings for death, Skies flooded with ravens and white whispers of breath._** **_When the Blood Moon calls, it yearns for red, A lost horizon dawns timeless dread._** ______________ A soft drizzle has begun to fall. Its rhythmic crescendo lends a gentle beat, a morbid backdrop to the screams echoing through the forest. From his perch in the treetops, Talon sits steadfast, letting the harmony sweep over him. A spark stirs from within, like a fire on the cusp of igniting. Like he needs to resist the urge to lick his teeth. Finally, it's here. Over the years, his elusiveness has become something of myth. Sometimes, a wisp of shadow, he's a sense of foreboding in the depths of the mind. Other times, entirely material, a burst of woven capes, glinting steel and imminent death. Until it's the night of the Blood Moon. On this night, Talon is ever-present; hunger unfathomable. His unpredictability may have deemed him terrifying, but the lack thereof makes him a nightmare. He fervently awaits this night, when the warlock commands the lunar cycle to his bidding, the glowing orb above lights the sky and ground awash with a sheen of red - conjoining the two into a single, bloody canvas. When the otherworldly sight sears itself into the corner of his vision and he can barely contain the erratic pulsing in his veins. When the cult devours the land in unison, leaving only shattered cobblestone and macabre calligraphy in their wake. He awaits this, because it’s the only thing he knows to do. The only chance he has to see. The only time he feels _alive._ The rain grows heavier still, raising an ominous fog that complements the chill in the air. His gaze trails to the cool drops bouncing off his polished arm blade; each a miniscule, crystalline mirror tainted by his shadowy reflection. And in the distance, as if he's somehow detected Talon’s brief lapse of attention, Zilean raises both arms to bring forth a surge of crackling, raw magic. The hellish face of his mask grins sinisterly as though alive. Searing heat flares, the force of it almost knocking Talon off the branch. His eyes shut to steel himself, to will any resolve he might have to take hold, while gloved fingers instinctively curl around the trio of circular daggers in their sheath. The incessant pounding in his ears amplifies and he begins shaking with the effort to be patient, to refrain from casting them out, raking them in, hearing the blood sing on his blade, inhaling the scent of fear and oh, watching as the life slowly seeps from – a vision of a different kind of knife abruptly cuts in and overtakes his rampant mind. _Two blades, lethally curved, twirling in a graceful dance. Intricate carvings suggest untold tales of their own, silver on the daggers mirroring the black on her skin._ The memory flashes out as fast as it came, leaving behind only a plunging emptiness in the pit of his stomach. When he reaches for it desperately, it weaves tantalizingly at his fingertips, just out of grasp, before drifting away into the dark recesses. All of a sudden the mask on his face, one of the few things he’s come to rely upon for a sense of meaning, feels unbearably tight. _A gaze just as sharp as her weapons, unhindered by the dark slash marring one eye down the middle. A determined set of the mouth. Ruby lips move but make no sound._ He needs more. He needs – _The slate is cold and unforgiving, but he doesn’t dare to move. He acutely locates the target from under the veil of a hood. He's using both eyes._ Talon numbly realises he’s been gripping the daggers too tightly, the sharp edges now digging lacerations that drip dark fluid to the ground below. The pain astounds him, for he’d forgotten what pain was. _The starless sky is a rich shade of midnight, accenting the livid cerulean of her irises. Her hair whips furiously around her face, each crimson strand bolder than the blood in his past and the moon in his present._ The injuries on his hand have already stitched themselves back together but the heaviness in his chest grows agonising. He bites down the laughter bubbling in the back of his throat, dumbfounded by his earlier ignorance. _She’s swift, with feline litheness, and unforgivingly ruthless. Her vicious strength and deadly precision leave no room for mistakes. Once she begins, there is no stopping._ The demon Thresh roars in triumph, a noise that grates like splintering glass and snaps his attention back to the present. It appears in view, towing a horde of shrieking victims in its chains. The sight makes Talon's hackles rise. He doesn't have much time left. _The corner of her mouth quirks ever so slightly, but it doesn’t reach the rest of her face. Her eyes hold an underlying current of sadness, only ever noticeable if she allows you close enough. Somehow, he always is._ The pain intensifies until he’s no longer sure he’s breathing. Until he remembers he _doesn’t_ remember the last time he _needed_ to breathe. It screams of promises broken. It torments like one of her daggers is twisting in his chest. He misses her deeply, but he does not recall who she is or why. A deceptively pleasant melody of a bamboo flute resonates through the trees. Talon doesn’t need to see the malicious smirk hidden behind Jhin’s mask to know it’s there. He will never admit how much he envies the Master of Ceremonies - the way he savours each kill or delights over petty tasks like candle-lighting for his rituals, all with such purpose. The Ink-mage saunters into view and mounts Whisper on his shoulder while the tune smoothly alters to a string accompaniment. He fires with relish. _One._ The shot cracks like thunder, zipping directly for the prey enslaved in Thresh’s wall of spectral fire. With it, Talon is gone. _Two._ His cloak is a swirl of steeped reds and violets, catching in the wind as he leaps off the trees. His sole seeing eye shines like a lonely, blue beacon in the mist. In that instant, he’s thankful for the mask again. Perhaps, in some inexplicable way, it's the shield that keeps his other half hidden, unaware of the horrors done by his hand, allowing it to be somewhat less demon and more... _Three._ And then the blue dissipates, and in bleeds the colour of the night. _Four._ Talon strikes like a silent storm, a perfect circle of whirling double-edged blades that spin out silver and convene red, just in time with Jhin’s final, explosive shot. The effect is utterly devastating. “Curtain Call.” Jhin’s gravelly voice slurs as he flourishes a practised bow. Talon doesn't spare a glance at him or the aftermath, instead making a running leap for the nearest tree. Two ascending steps has him deftly vaulting back to the shadows. Without the Blood Moon, his days are all but lost to weary meandering, to mindlessly traversing the bounds of both realms, to seeking answers and never finding them. Only on this night - as he wavers on the edge of an insatiable, all-consuming rage - do fragments of his past visit him. He hopes, maybe one day, he might remember her name. Maybe one day, he’ll remember why he is what he is. _Curtain call indeed_, he thinks, to another act of the desolately meaningless charade that is his existence. Leaving him with nothing, but to await the next time he sees red. __________________ **_When the Blood Moon calls, a sovereign deign, Through ravenous demons shall hellfire rain. _** **_When the Blood Moon calls, its watchful eye, Sees all hope cease beneath a crimson sky._**

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