Enter the Spider
The smell of harsh chemicals would be the first thing to greet any who may’ve stepped foot over the warped threshold. The shadows that seemed to permeate the acrid air took the average person a few moments to adjust to. What they were able to discern afterwards, however, was hardly impressive.
The small apartment was dimly lit, and spartanly furnished, at best - and even that was being generous. Nothing was set about that didn’t have a purpose, or perhaps extreme sentimental value. There were haphazard bits and pieces of twisted metal, wire and various other ‘junk’ piled in a corner beside a worn, wooden workbench. A few candles, all unlit at present, were strategically placed in corners, or on stands. There were no real decorations on the walls, per se...but sketches, maps and other various lists - all written in code, of course - littered the wall above the workbench. Even the notes scrawled over trap schematics were written in a very cryptic cypher.
Maneuvering through the darkened apartment was like breathing for Faye, though - each piece of furniture was mapped out in her mind’s eye. Without so much as the slightest hesitation, she let her boots carry her across the worn floorboards with the soft scrape of metal over wood. A cursory glance toward her workspace was all she bothered to spare as she made her way toward her bedroom.
It was as basic as it gets. She had chosen the room with no windows for this purpose - less entries meant less surprises. Besides, it wasn’t like she didn’t have security measures of her own as a custom early-warning system...but one can never be too careful.
Faye Pyresworn - or simply ‘Spider’ as she was known in certain circles - was not your average Sin’dorei woman. Her crimson hair was pulled back into a high ponytail, out of her face, where it couldn’t fall into her eyes, or obscure her vision. Her body was on the thin side - yet she was anything but frail - with lean cords of muscle that she worked daily to maintain. She was hardly curvaceous - with her narrow hips, and small breasts. Of course she knew how to play her features up if needed...but she preferred a more direct approach.
Her tongue was as sharp as her eyes - and both had withered a man or two in their time. Almond-shaped eyes with prominent lids burned the brightest color of a fel flame, casting sickly green flickers of light to dance amidst the lingering darkness of her room. High, angular cheekbones were set in an oval face - though her pointed, plump lips served as a stark contrast to the rest, seeming completely out of place on her otherwise hard features.
With a quick flick of her wrists, she wrestles open the clasp of her belt - tossing it to bounce on her bed. Charcoal-grey sheets and a matching comforter blended into the darkness, just as she desired. The full length mirror perched on the wall gave her a perfect view of the hallway when she was lying in bed, should the door be left open to allow it. Now, however, she stood beside it - glancing at it sidelong as she unfastened buckles and straps before tossing her armor on the bed.
A hand marred by a few gunpowder burns trailed across her side, lifting the plain tunic she wore beneath her armor. Tossing it aside to the floor, her face set in grim lines, the creases etching themselves between her brows and along the corners of her mouth. Gingerly, she slipped the pads of her calloused fingers over the gunshot wound that nestled itself cozily along the right side of her ribs. It was healing, but she never seemed to stay still long enough to let it close completely. It was weeping again, a clear viscous liquid leaving a fine trail down her side.
Weeks had passed since the contract had gone bad, and she’d been lucky to escape with her life. Still, it was a reminder of the error in judgement she’d made...and what it had cost her.
A sidestep toward the mirror, and another sweep of her hand across the wound revealed a protrusion, and she growled low in her throat - irritation welling up. She stalked across to the crates that lined the far wall, forming makeshift shelves of a sort, to retrieve a small set of tweezers, and a match.
The red-head muttered to herself as she lit a nearby candle - unscented and plain - setting it on another small crate that served as an end table beside the mirror. The tweezers rested there as well - next to what appeared to be a rounded and dull knife. A piece of wood, wrapped in tightly bound leather that she’d treated herself, was also settled on the small makeshift table.
Turning back to the mirror she suddenly regretted not bothering to replace it, even after the long crack had appeared down its length. She had to adjust her body carefully, positioning herself to ensure a clear view of the wound.
Candlelight flickered over the wound, catching the sheen of the clear puss that leaked from it. With tweezers gripped in a steady hand, she reached down in one, slow movement to pinch the bit of shrapnel that was being rejected from the wounded and broken skin. As the weeks had passed she’d had this happen a dozen times, easily - a bit of shrapnel here, and there, would slowly be pushed out of her skin. It had to be promptly removed and cleaned, lest she risk infection.
The initial contact the tweezers made with the remnant of the bullet was sharp, and sent a biting pain shooting across her ribs that pushed the breath from her lungs in an abrupt hiss. Without further hesitation, she jerked her hand back in one rapid motion. The cry of pain tearing from her lips was synchronized with the removal of the bullet fragment, and her eyes squeezed tight as they fought off the sting of tears. This one had been deeper than the others - she hadn’t anticipated that.
Shuddering and breathing heavily, her skin became covered with a thick sheen of sweat from the pain that rippled through her, even as she fought to compose herself. The soft rush of her deep, controlled breathing was the only sound in the otherwise silent apartment. Impatient hands then reached over and set down the tweezers, only to pick up the leather bound piece of wood and the dulled knife.
She wedged the bite stick between her teeth - far in the back, so she couldn’t grind her molars together, or bite her own tongue off as she’d known others to do. The taste of her own dried saliva mingled with the unmistakable flavor of leather in her mouth. She was breathing through her nose now as she held out the rounded knife, letting the flame of the candle lick over it with the promise of heat, and pain.
Her torso - nude from the waist up - shuddered slightly, and she eyed the trail of blood that was running in crimson rivulets down her side...soaking into the hem of her pants, now. The anticipation was nearly worse than the pain, and as soon as the flattened knife was hot enough she made one determined move to bring it against the torn skin on her side.
A small wisp of smoke that reeked of burning flesh drifted toward the ceiling, and she could hear the hiss of her skin as it cauterized beneath the searing metal. Her cries were muffled by the self-induced gag she’d put into place as her teeth ground into the leather. Somewhere in her pain-riddled mind she half wondered if she’d end up snapping the damn thing in two.
Tears stung those fel-fire eyes and she lifted her now-bare foot to stomp it against the floor over and over in pure reaction to the pain. After the carefully-counted seconds had passed, she removed the hot knife - tossing it into a nearby water basin with vehemence. The string of curses kept flowing from her lips even after she removed the bite stick, tossing that back on the end table. Finally, she dropped to her knees - the cool wood of the floor soothing, in comparison to the heat that gripped her body. Muscles still twitching, and spasming from the onslaught of pain, she held herself up with her right palm splayed before her; her left arm clutched tightly around her torso, and the fingers of that hand spread on either side of her newly sealed wound as if itching to touch the newly red and black tinged flesh.
Her small breasts rose and fell in jerky movements - gradually evening out, along with her breathing. As always was the case after her self-treatment, she silently prayed that was the last time she’d have to endure it.
The silence stretched on as several minutes passed before she could slowly rise on stiff legs. She padded down the hall, turning down to the right, toward her humble bathroom. She kept several plants and the like around - salves, creams, and anything else that might come in handy. The hodge-podge of bottles of varying shapes and sizes was an organized clutter...and she could identify the contents of each by memory, alone.
The burn salve was closer to the front than most, and she unscrewed the cap with tired hands. The instant cooling sensation was pleasant, but it did little to help the deep-rooted ache of the wound along her ribs. That she simply had to suffer through.
The water of the larger wash basin was cool as well - shockingly so, compared to the heat of her pain-flushed skin. The smaller mirror she had here revealed skin that was blotchy, and red, with dirt and strain around her eyes. The streamlets of water cascaded off her face in tiny rivers, dropping back into the basin below as she scrutinized her appearance. Frankly, she looked like the southern end of a northbound horse. But...at least the wound was sealed back up, and she’d gotten another piece of shrapnel out. Hopefully, the last one.
She trudged back to her windowless room - her eyes giving off about as much light as the single candle she’d left burning beside the full-length mirror. Shoving all of her shed armor off the bed with an impatient sweep, she let it all clatter to the floor in a heap on the far side. Gripping the bottle of Darkmoon Reserve that rested on the nightstand as she sat, the bed dipped subtly under her diminutive weight. Lifting it to her lips, she drank greedily - hoping it would ease her transition into sleep - and dull the pain.
The room-temperature liquor tasted impossibly sweet compared to the bile that had risen into her mouth from the smell of her own burning flesh. The mingling taste that rested on her palette was hardly savory, but she was far too drained to give a fuck in that moment. Instead, she roughly set the bottle down and rolled onto her left side - stretching out across the bed.
With the pungent smell of melted skin hovering in the room like a taunting spectre of her pain, she scowled into the cool pillow - suddenly wishing that the dark room did have a window.