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>> ability: medium
Perception: The only way that Knox can perceive ghosts without his totem is visually. He can see them move their lips but he can’t hear them or touch them. Since ghosts can’t interact with the physical world, he oftentimes has no idea what they’re trying to tell him. With his totem, however, Knox can hear ghosts. He’s not particularly happy about this development but he understands that it has to get worse before it gets better. If it does. As his magic progresses, Knox will be able to interact with other ghosts using all of his senses. This also means that he cannot perceive the physical world to the same extent at the same time.
Communication: Though he is unable to properly perceive what they try to communicate, he can communicate with them just fine as they can properly perceive the physical world. Ghosts can communicate with him in two ways: by regular means and telepathically. The former is the most usual means of communication as it takes little effort. However, thought projection requires massive amounts of power on both the ghost’s and Knox’s sides. Currently, he is unable to initiate telepathic communication but he can be overpowered by a ghost that forces their thoughts on his mind if they are stronger than he is.
Possession: Highly unpleasant and at this point, completely involuntary. Knox is unable to control whether he is possessed by a ghost or not. He does not know how to induce or prevent possession - strong ghosts can have their way while weak ghosts are simply unable to interact at all. The totem makes it more difficult for him to be possessed unwillingly. At this point, Knox has no memories of any time that he is possessed but in the future, he will be able to restrict the extent of possession over his body. Ghosts cannot possess his body for an infinite length of time.
Manifestation: In a way, this is close to possession. Rather than possessing his body, the ghost instead uses his magic to allow them to interact with the world. This will last for as long as his magic can accommodate the ghost. Once his magic is exhausted, the manifestation stops - exactly like possession. This is currently the only way to stop a ghost manifestation without killing him or otherwise taking his magic away. However, unless the ghost inflicts physical damage on his body, the only adverse effect is the magic drain.
Totem: Essentially, Knox’s totem is a placebo. It was installed by a witch who was trying to help him to get over his hysteria and fear of his own power. Whenever he has his totem, Knox is able to subconsciously reign his magic in, allowing his magic to stabilize at the point that ghosts can communicate effectively with him, but unless they are exceptionally powerful, they are unable to forcefully possess him. Without his totem, Knox’s psychological block shuts all of his defenses down and his unfortunate predisposition towards possession makes him particularly vulnerable to strong spirits.
>> ability: hunter
Weapon: The darak genes may have skipped him but he’s no less useful than his brothers - when put behind a gun. A big gun. Knox isn’t particularly gifted as a marksman but years and years of tough drills have made him into what he is now: a very skilled, very reluctant marksman.
Close-combat: Not only does Knox not have a natural fighter’s instinct and the accelerated healing, he tends to hesitate at bad moments. He can defend himself and others but he doesn't have the creativity to think outside the box and go on the offense with any real measure of success. There's a reason people don't let him onto the front lines.
i have a duty.Wham.
Knox was so disoriented that he didn’t even know which way gravity pulled. His head spun and his body was numb. A moment later, his nerves caught up with his mind causing pain and lack of oxygen blossomed throughout his body. He gasped and coughed, straining pitifully to regain his breath. It was about then that he also realized that he was lying prone on the ground, having failed to protect himself properly and thus getting knocked down by his instructor. He couldn’t stop here.
Though his body was screaming out in protest from the full day of practice and hadn’t yet recovered from being thrown one more time, he made weak motions to try to get back on his feet before the older man stopped him. The rueful expression on his face made Knox burn with shame and break eye contact. Clearly he thought that this additional practice wasn’t helping.
Sawyer and Kieran were doing fine in the drills. Everyone else was doing fine. Why wasn’t he? Tears of humiliation pricked at the corners of his eyes, an iron will preventing them from falling. Was he just more sensitive to pain? Was something wrong with him? He wasn’t as fast, strong or good as anyone else. That was why he asked the training master for supplementary lessons but it was clear that it wasn’t helping. If he couldn’t do what his family was born to do, what good was he? It was clear: he wasn’t any good. What made it worse was that neither of his brothers would let him think that.
A water bottle appeared in his field of vision. Muscles screamed as he forced himself to feebly grasp the object that the training master offered him. In his dejection, he simply stared at the unopened bottle, too dejected to quench his thirst. “Go home. We’ll continue tomorrow, Knox.” The older man eventually told him. It was only because he was taught to always be polite did he manage a nod at the man. At least they weren’t giving up yet.
As instructed, he was back at the training center with his brothers come morning. His muscles were sore from the extra practice, but he felt so much heavier than his brothers looked. Was he really that weak? Before he could take even a step into the close-combat training room, Knox spotted something out of the corner of his eye and immediately reacted, turning to catch and juggle the object being thrown at him before he finally got a good grasp on it and figured out what it was: a rifle. Confused, he looked up at the person that had thrown it at him. A woman. He didn’t know her but he recognized the expression on her face: doubt. It was very well hidden but not well enough that he wasn’t able to spot it. That was fine, he was already used to it.
“You’re training with me today, Hatch.”
He couldn’t argue. He was hopeless at hand-to-hand combat. Maybe he could at least be of some use as long range support.
It was different compared to what he was expecting. He was the youngest marksman and still the least gifted. What he didn’t have in terms of talent, Knox made up with long hours of practice. By the time that he was ready to “graduate”, Knox had easily climbed the ranks and became one of the best marksmen within his peers.
Finally he had his place.
i… who am i?Something was wrong. Something didn’t feel right. He didn’t know what it was. It felt like only a moment had passed in his mind but that wasn’t what his surroundings were telling him. It felt kind of like a daydream - the kind where you lost track of time and… felt like you had run a marathon? Confused, he looked at his watch: 5:14. His heart started beating in his throat. The last time he’d looked at it couldn’t have been more than fifteen minutes ago - and it had only been 2:30 then. Something was definitely wrong.
Knox took one more look at his surroundings - that was when he realized that he wasn’t in the same location that he had first scouted out. He was at a much lower elevation than he was before. His rifle was all set up… no it wasn’t. He would never have set it up like that. What was going on? Knox pulled himself up from his crouch and promptly stopped. Was that blood? It wasn’t his - he wasn’t hurt. Where was the blood coming from? More importantly, where were his comms?
There was a trail. He had to follow it. Knox packed his equipment up - darak trusted their instincts. His instincts were telling him to follow the trail. If his watch was right, their hunt was over, so it hardly mattered. He was fully trained - he could take care of himself. Knox stole through the forest, tracking the bloody footprints and messy smears on tree bark. He remained cautious, determined not to let anything rattle him. It lasted only until he stumbled upon the figure. His tactical vest was ripped open and numerous, vicious stab wounds littered his crumpled corpse. It looked almost like he had been ripped apart by a wild animal - except there was a bloody knife.
His bloody knife.
He knew it anywhere. He had intentionally chosen a smaller and lighter blade since he wasn’t as strong as his comrades - and it wasn’t sheathed in his belt. Before he knew it, he had sunk to his knees, devastated and confused. What--?
“He snapped. Rollins and MacGuire are dead because of him and the rest of my team are in the hospital.” The anger in the man’s voice was tangible. “He was screaming about them being murderers - that they’d killed his family. That they needed to die.”
“His mother’s death must have affected him more than we thought. We shouldn’t have let him hunt this early.”
“It’s been years since she died! What kind of darak can’t get past death? It’s an occupational hazard!” The first man nearly screamed. “What are you going to do about him? He’s gone crazy. We can’t use him.”
After a long, heavy silence, the second man gave his answer. “Send him away.”
what… am i?“Wh-why am I here?” Knox gasped. “What-? Where-?” He couldn’t move. He was lying down on a bed, restrained. It smelled like a hospital - what would he be doing here? His instincts were telling him that something was wrong. “Help me!” His cry was more of a thought than an actual plea. He wasn’t strong enough to break his restraints and he had absolutely no idea what he was doing here. Time to do some recon.
This didn’t seem like the clinic that his family often frequented when they got hurt. In fact, he was positive that he had never been here before. What happened? Knox tried to think back. The last thing he could remember was… Rollins’ body. His knife. A cold chill ran through him. No. It couldn’t be. Did he do that? Why couldn’t he remember what had happened in those three hours? What happened after that? Why was he here? Where was here?
Someone appeared. A man by the looks of it, but he couldn’t hear what he was saying. “I can’t hear you.” Knox told him tiredly. The man shook his head, apparently disappointed in him too.
“Hear who?” Knox jumped as he heard another voice, a woman this time. She moved into his line of sight, passing right through the man and causing his eyes to widen. That meant… the man wasn’t real? He wasn’t able to formulate an answer as he looked at her and back at the man, who seemed to deflate and shake his head sadly - like he, too, was giving up on Knox. That was fine. He was used to it. “Knox Hatch?” She asked him.
Returning his attention to the real woman, he nodded and noted her white coat. A doctor then. Something must be wrong with him. “Where’re my brothers?” He whispered, suddenly afraid. Had something bad happened? Bad enough that he had landed in the hospital and was seeing things? A concussion, maybe?
“They’re fine - and you will be too.” The woman reassured him. She must have seen the lost expression on his face because she elaborated. “You don’t remember what happened? At all?” He shook his head. “Your father was worried about you and told us about your troubles - that you see things. He says you talk to them.” Knox’s heart stopped. He looked back at the man but he was already gone. No. “He said you had a breakdown where you’d hurt others. No one pressed any charges against you - provided you came here to get some help.”
No. Was it him? Did he kill Rollins? A member of his own team? What had happened? The doctor was telling him to calm down and he could hear her voice but it sounded like a faded echo. Blackness crept at the edges of his vision and he allowed himself to succumb to it.
This couldn’t be happening.
help me. please help me.Not for the last time, his body stung. The medications weren’t helping. No. Instead, they were making it worse. He experienced more frequent blackouts. He was sedated most of the time. If it wasn’t his fear making him act oddly, it was the blackouts. The strange blackouts. Knox was sure that he’d lost most of his muscle mass, being restrained to stop him from hurting himself. They hadn’t got to him in time - apparently he’d started scratching at himself and screaming that he was trapped and that the body wasn’t his. The worst part of it all was that he didn’t remember any of it.
In a constant state of exhaustion, he watched as the door to his room opened, admitting an unfamiliar face. Another person to add to his entourage of imaginary friends. Wait. No. A real person - he’d touched the door after all. When their eyes met, the nurse nearly dropped the tray of medication, an expression of horror on his face. He was used to that too. Knox turned away out of respect. He didn’t mean to freak the nurse out.
“You don’t belong here.”
What? Morbidly hopeful, Knox turned back to the nurse, who walked closer.
“No. You… you’re a medium, aren’t you? I’ve never seen so many spirits in one place before. Who sent you here?” The nurse put the tray on the bedside platform and reached out a hand, presumably to touch him. Knox cringed back; his time here had taught him to fear touch. The nurse looked sad as he pulled back. “Can you tell me your name?” He prompted gently.
It took Knox a while to find his voice. “Knox.” He finally managed to whisper. Yes. That was his name - Knox.
The nurse smiled. “Knox? I’m Mitchell. It’s nice to meet you. I see you have a lot of friends. I see them too. You’re not crazy, you’re a witch. You must be a powerful one at that, if there are this many spirits attracted to you.” Knox wasn’t sure he liked the news - he’d rather be crazy than a witch. “I can help you.”
Witch or not, Knox was desperate enough that he’d take any help. He didn’t want to be in this place any longer. He didn’t want the jeering people or the wistful doctors anymore. He wanted his old life back - the one where all he had to worry about was training so that he could get revenge on the vampire that had taken their mother away from them. It all seemed so easy compared to this torture. “Please.”
those scars? i made them.There was blood on his hands again. This time, Knox knew how they got there. He’d done it to himself. He knew it was bad but he couldn’t stop it. He was predisposed towards possession, which was what had landed him in the institution. Possession was the most dangerous part of being a medium. He hadn’t had any blackouts since he was released and no one had said anything about him acting too strange. But Knox felt wrong. That was why he took the razor blade to his skin.
In a world that mixed physical reality with the spirit plane, he needed something to feel real. His pain reminded him that he wasn’t possessed. He was himself - Knox Bertrand Hatch. The pain was the most real thing - not the people, not the voices. It was his body, his nerves, his skin, his blood. All him. He was alive. Sometimes it helped to keep the memories away.
In time the scars would fade. Some would disappear completely and others would stay; permanent reminders of how he was at the mercy of others: the dead and living alike. Just like the ones on his back. Nurse Mitchell had probably saved his life - he probably wouldn’t have been able to survive for much longer in the institution. He told him that it took practice and a coven. He had neither. He told Knox to find a coven but that was the last thing he could do: he didn’t need dad to send him back to the institution or worse. He didn’t want to believe that he was a witch - what would dad do if he found out? It wouldn’t change anything. The possessions were what had got him in the institution in the first place. He couldn’t claim responsibility for that, but claiming that he was a medium? A witch with an unusual power born into a darak family? That wasn’t going to go over well.
it’s all my fault.Knox shivered, wrapping the necklace around his hand and pressing the pendant to his palm tightly. He could do this. He’d spent one and a half years learning from Nurse Mitchell in secret at the institution. It had taken him a long time to come to terms with the fact that he was a witch and that he had to learn how to control his magic. He couldn’t find himself a coven without drawing suspicion to himself - that was the last thing he wanted. He’d be sent back to the institution again and he couldn’t have that happening. He took a deep breath in and let it out slowly, finally addressing the spirit. “Show me.”
As soon as he’d been able to, he started to use his feebly controlled resources to find the vampire that had murdered his mother. His progress as a witch was understandably slow as there was only so much he could learn in secret and without a coven but it had finally led him to a spirit that had suffered under the same vampire’s hand - one that also wanted revenge and was willing to help Knox get his.
“You’re not darak, are you.”
“My family is. Don’t worry about me.” Knox was determined to do this.
The spirit sighed and shook his head. “I’d really feel more comfortable if you had backup. The only kind of person that hunts alone is a suicidal one.” He objected, folding his arms.
Knox narrowed his eyes. His fondness for life and aversion of death was starting to plummet. Was he suicidal? Not yet but he could be there in a heartbeat. “I don’t have a choice.” He insisted, scoping out the nest and finally finding a good perch. He wasn’t any good at close combat but hopefully he could draw the vampires out and shoot them all one by one. It would be much easier if he had someone to make a distraction for him but now wasn’t the time to be picky. It was do or die and he was okay with either. At least he’d finally be out of his misery.
“Then who are those guys?”
Following the spirit’s gesture, Knox’s jaw dropped as he saw two very familiar figures: Sawyer and Kieran. Then he looked away. They probably felt hurt - ever since he got out of the institution, he started to do more and more things on his own. He never talked about what he experienced there. It was for the best. Reluctantly allowing them to play a part in his quest for revenge, Knox watched as his brothers and the spirit descended onto the vampire nest through the scope of his rifle. It would all be over soon: he had the best hunter on his side after all.
i’ll make this right. i swear it.“Hi. What can I get started for you today, ma’am?” He asked for the upteenth time that day, a small smile directed at the woman in front of the register. It felt odd but at the same time amazing not to have to hunt at all. He’d been born into a darak family but like a coward, ran from the life. After the disaster that was trying to get revenge on his mother’s killer, he’d simply left. The weight of his mistake never left him for a minute but at least here, in Portland, he had a chance of fixing it.
What was supposed to be the end of a painful chapter had turned into the start of another one. The raid had gone wrong and his brothers were overwhelmed. He’d tried to get to them but he hadn’t been quick enough - Kieran had sacrificed himself to save Sawyer and Sawyer hadn’t taken it well. Neither had Knox but he hadn’t had the luxury of grieving his twin’s sacrifice as he hauled Sawyer to safety. In the chaos following Kieran’s loss, Knox had every intention of taking his own life. He’d tried numerous times to summon Kieran’s spirit. He’d consulted Nurse Mitchell multiple times, even begged for information from a coven that turned him away. His family and extended family was starting to become suspicious.
When he was on the brink, he finally heard what he wanted to hear: Kieran wasn’t dead. Technically. The information came from yet another spirit, who pointed out to him the logic that he couldn’t find his brother because he wasn’t in the spirit plane. It was a slim lead but he had to chase it. It was what lead him to Portland. Finally away from the judging eyes of his darak family, he dared to ask a coven for help. They gave him more than that. He was still an outcast but he had a place to finally learn to control his rampant magic - magic that he could hopefully harness to find Kieran. He also had a normal, human job. After all, he wasn’t a darak anymore. There was going to be an adjustment period but he was finally on an upward trajectory. Whatever it took, he’d find his brother and bring him home.
After he got this woman her coffee.
i am alone.Alone. Finally. He walked into the room, hardly hearing anything. He didn’t even know if the doctor had said anything to him. Knox wasn’t listening. He didn’t want to listen. He didn’t want to tell them things. He didn’t want to let them do things to him for his own good. He didn’t want to take medicine that made him sick, or hate himself, or make it feel like he was in Mordor. He just wanted it all to stop. His vision tunneled and he didn’t even noticed the ghost that had appeared. Maisey. He was just so numb, and it was good. Knox didn’t want to feel.
Somehow, he climbed onto his bed and just sat there, knees tucked into his chest and arms wrapped around them protectively. He was safe where he was now. Knox missed the nurse leaving, and Maisey disappearing. He didn’t even notice her trying to get his attention. Eventually, the numbness passed. And then everything hit him.
Knox shivered. It wasn’t cold but he just couldn’t stop. Tears threatened to spill out of his eyes, but he bit his lip in an effort not to let them fall. His jaw was already quivering, but he didn’t want to cry. He felt nauseated. Whatever they had forced down his throat was now taking effect. He just felt so awful and wretched, and those numbers just wouldn’t keep out of his head. 06/11. His stomach churned as the numbers in his head just wouldn’t go away. He wanted the numbness back.
But it wasn’t here to stay. Like Maisey had done earlier, it just faded away. His back started throbbing, then stinging, from where he had pulled the skin taut in this position. Knox shut his eyes. No, no, no, no, no, no, no. No. He didn’t want to see it. But he heard it instead, the whistle of the cane before it hit his own skin. Whack. Knox lurched over the side of the bed and retched, his throat thick and dry. His voice hitched as he drew a breath in and the dam burst. He started sobbing as everything hit him at once - all his terror, agony, loneliness. His back stung, and he was so tired. He just wanted to go home.
The numbers flashed in his head again, which only made him sob harder. He wanted to be with Kieran. They weren’t always together, but he missed his twin so much right now. He missed his twin - and Sawyer. And mom. And right now? Even dad. The tears abated after a few minutes, slowing to occasional hiccups. Knox carefully laid himself down in the bed, mindful of his stinging back.
“Happy birthday, Knox,” he whispered to himself in the dark.
accepted welcome to MY SOUL TO KEEP
Another beautiful application and complex character from you <3 I can't wait to see how his magical abilities develop, and how he continues to deal with his totem and possession.
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