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  1. #151
    Anakita Snakecharm



    Anakita's emotional reverie was interrupted by Miles squirming in her arms. Thinking she had made him uncomfortable, she changed her hold, but his movements became even more insistent.

    "You must be getting tired. Let's get you back to Cavalon for a nap," she told him, forcing a smile. "It's past your... OW!"

    Miles had grabbed a handful of her braids in each of his tiny fists, and was yanking hard on the hair framing her face.

    "That hurts, little one." She pried his hands loose. "Alright, back to... OW!!!"

    Once again the baby was tugging on her braids. His movements seemed purposeful, almost urgent. He was pulling in a specific direction now, as though trying to direct Anakita to go behind the large rock that loomed on the other side of the path.

    Anakita laughed nervously, and turned away, back to the gate.

    Miles bit her.

    He was just a newborn, and had no teeth. It didn't hurt, not like the hair pulling. When his gums clamped down on the side of her hand, though, it got Anakita's attention.

    "Alright, alright. Where do you want to go? Behind the rock?"

    The pressure on her hand released.

    Anakita chuckled anxiously again. This was crazy. Miles was only days old. He couldn't possibly understand what she was saying. Still, she went behind the rock. What else could she do?

    There were two Creeping Carps, an Irukandji, and a Scuttlefish lurking nearby. Anakita moved noiselessly, slowly, not getting in their way. She wasn't inclined to fight all four of them, particularly with the baby in her arms and Azh left behind in the city with Stefan and the girls.

    The creatures didn't react to her presence. She was safe, it seemed.

    When she saw what was hidden in the crevice of the rock, Anakita swore in a long burst of rather shocking profanity. "Sorry, Miles," she added absently as she reached into the rock and lifted the cloth-wrapped bundle.

    Anakita knew this kind of thing happened, though it had never occured with her around. She would have stopped it. The Luxons had a long history of abandoning their disabled children to die. That had almost been Kayla's husband Aeson's fate in infancy. Knowing didn't make it any easier.

    To Anakita's surprise, the little one was still alive. She shifted Miles to one hip, and carrying both children, she returned to Cavalon to find someone to yell at and some heads to break.

    Miles was quiet and still now, and seemed strangely satisfied.
    "Sleep to dream, and we dream to live..." -Great Big Sea
    ...to the topTop



  2. #152
    Paladin Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Constance Terpein

    It hadn’t been her intention to sequester herself in order to mope. Nor did she intend to. It was just that the noise and the hustle and the people made it difficult to get one’s priorities straight. Constance was sorely in need of getting her priorities straight. Many things were important, but what things were the most important? How did she define herself now? Did it matter if others didn’t agree with her definition? It did if it kept her from being there when they needed her.

    ‘They’, of course, were her guildmates. A family you were born into – the guild chose her, and she them – it was time to shift her mentality to match. To achieve that would take some conditioning, and Cavalon seemed like a good place to do that. She returned to the room set aside for her and Sabrine at Kayla and Aeson’s, but quickly changed her mind should the sister return. A garden presented itself and it was there she retired. Prayer. Meditation. Peace.

    All were disturbed by the arrival of a messenger some time later. They were further disturbed by the contents of the letter he carried. Sabrine was setting out on her own in a strange country? What was she thinking? That girl didn’t know a thing about life on the road, despite the time she’d spent with them doing that very thing, nor about finding a suitable party. She was going to get taken advantage of by some gang of fools – or worse – slaughtered by the same!

    Constance fairly flew out of the dwelling, intent on finding Sabrine and stopping her from being rash. The girl’s things were already gone from their room. She wasn’t wasting time. The Warrior headed out into the streets, searching for her sister. She soon found herself lost in the crowd , which made Constance re-evaluate her strategy. At some point, Sabrine would have to leave, and she would have to leave through the gate. She moved as quick as she could through the human syrup before it spat her out in an opening.

    It took a moment to collect herself in the relative quiet of the dead-space between gate arrivals and the party within, but only a the space of a second to recognize Anakita walking in – with two infants. Constance had not heard much of Luxon tradition. In fact, at this point, that information wasn’t so important. The look on the Ranger’s face – was.

    The Warrior’s boots paused slightly in their upward movement, though she already knew what she was going to do. Anakita needed her. Her sister may need her, but that wasn’t who she was to be concerned with at the moment. The conditioning had begun, and this was her first action regards to her decision. Constance reached Anakita’s side and immediately swung to fall into step on the Ranger’s right, looking over the woman’s shoulder to see the face of the new infant.

    “It seems you could use a spare arm.” A strange observation, but apt. If Anakita wanted to pass the infant to Constance, she’d accept willingly. If she wished for a right hand of justice, the Warrior would be just as happy to mete it out. In either case, what Anakita received for certain was a arm around her back. A gesture of intent, interest and solidarity.
    Winner of the dubious Vaarsuvius Award for Verbousness!

    I support altruism.
    ...to the topTop



  3. #153
    Anakita Snakecharm



    Anakita gave Constance a tight smile. The message was clearly, I'm happy to see you but I'm upset for other reasons, so don't interpret my anger as directed at you.

    "Thanks," she said simply, and passed Miles to the Warrior, figuring that he already knew her and wouldn't mind. He didn't seem to. "We need to go yell at some Luxons."

    She didn't further explain, not trusting herself to do so without exploding. That wouldn't be fair. It wasn't Constance who deserved the outburst. Constance would catch on to what was going on when Anakita was railing at someone.

    That 'someone' turned out to be Elder Rhea. Anakita saw her standing near the market, recognized her, and stormed up, getting right in her face. The Ranger was interrupting a conversation, but she ignored the scout who was talking with the elder. She assumed that her own mission-- being life and death-- was currently more important.

    "DO YOU KNOW WHAT ONE OF YOUR PEOPLE--?"

    Elder Rhea nodded, cutting her off. "Yes. No doubt it was... difficult... for you to witness. You are accepted here, Anakita Snakecharm, but you are not one of us. You don't understand our ways."

    "Damn straight I don't! Surely you're not going to let them murder this poor kid!"

    Rhea shook her head. "It isn't murder. It is... survival. Life here on the Jade Sea is difficult."

    "You don't just kill kids because life gets tough. That's insane."

    Rhea was showing the first sign of faint irritation. "The Luxon Armada requires all the resources we can muster. We cannot devote supplies and time to those who would weaken us. A crippled child provides no benefit to a family or a nation."

    "You can't know that. This kid could grow up to be a great leader or a powerful healer or..."

    "Or she may never amount to anything at all," Rhea said bluntly. "Life here is too hard to justify that risk."

    "Because you throw everything into your damn war."

    "Yes," Rhea replied, as though to a slow-witted school child. "A war we cannot afford to lose."

    "And that you'll never win, either!"

    "Perhaps not. But the Luxon Armada will not yield before those foul tree worshippers do."

    Anakita's face was turning bright red, not with shame but with rage. "So that's it then? This little girl dies for that?"

    Rhea nodded. "I'm afraid so. It's a difficult truth, but an important one. You needn't concern yourself with this."

    "Oh really?"

    "Yes. I'll assign someone to look after her."

    "And by 'look after' you mean leave her out on the jade again the moment my back is turned?"

    In spite of their current argument, Rhea respected Anakita too much to lie. Her lack of an answer said it all; the Ranger was right.

    Anakita hadn't really thought about what would happen to the baby. Her only concern for the future had been preventing immediate death. It hadn't even crossed her mind to think another step ahead. Now, abruptly, she had to do just that.

    "I'll take her, then."

    Rhea smiled indulgently. "That's a sweet gesture, but not possible. We can't allow a Luxon child to be raised by an outsider."

    "Better for her to die?" Anakita asked, voice dripping with sarcasm.

    "Yes, we believe it is," Rhea replied as though to a serious inquiry.

    "You let Master Togo take Aeson. I may not be the head of the Shing Jea Monastery or sibling to the emperor, but I've spent time amongst your people and learned of your ways. Stefan and I would raise her well. You know that. What obstacle is there besides your pride?"

    Rhea shrugged indifferently, but Anakita suspected she had actually scored a point against the elder. "Take her if you wish. To us she is dead anyway."

    Anakita looked frantically at Constance with a What did I just do? expression on her face. She desperately needed reassurance that she wasn't the crazy one in this situation.
    ...to the topTop



  4. #154
    Paladin Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Constance Terpein

    She had expected the rather brusque greeting simply by the Ranger’s complexion. Little Miles was passed to her and Constance immediately shifted him into comfortable carrying position in the crook of her right arm. A Warrior’s habit, to defend with the left, was evident even in this small action. Despite the woman’s obvious intentions toward being single and un-settled, a babe in her arms looked natural. In truth, she had held a good number of children over the years due to the Terpein curse of prolificacy.

    Constance was more than contented to follow Anakita with little more to go on than a strange babe in the Ranger’s arms. She was unaware of Luxon customs, so the significance of the matter had yet to impress itself – not that the latter was long in coming. The elder Luxon woman was so…patronizing. Constance’s blood rose simply to see the woman’s dismissal of Anakita’s stature. Doubly so when she found out that the baby had been given a death sentence - and the elder supported this!

    Miles had shifted in her arm hold; strange that he seemed to be interested in watching the proceedings. He had begun to fuss when the elder started speaking and had continued until the exact moment Anakita volunteered to take the child as her own. Constance herself was stunned. Certainly, the Ranger wasn’t the type to back down or allow the death of a child, but for some reason the offer had still taken Constance of guard.

    Obviously, Anakita hadn’t expected it either, considering the wild gaze she now cast her way. Constance washed the dumbfounded look off her face and merely offered a stern nod as if to say: “It’s okay. I’m with you on this.”. Miles was a bit more exuberant. The babe squealed joyfully and let loose an infant’s chuckle. Constance smiled a crooked grin – as she felt the chuckle was directed at the elder Luxon.

    She came up alongside Anakita now, having given the Ranger her space to vent. “You did the right thing. Don’t worry, I’ll give you a hand with the little ones. I’ve changed a few diapers in my day, you know.” Constance’s smile was hopefully reassuring, despite the surprise of having a second baby in their midst. There was no turning back, so she mightaswell be supportive.
    ...to the topTop



  5. #155
    Anakita Snakecharm



    Stefan Baruch




    Ryder Vespera




    Anakita smiled gratefully at the Warrior.

    "Thanks, Constance. It... means a lot."

    It wasn't just the practical help. The extra work was the least of Anakita's worries. What made the most difference was the support, the feeling of being backed up.

    "I should talk to Stefan about this. It's a pretty big deal for him, too, huh? I'm sure he'll agree-- but yeah, he should know. I'll check if the scholars have found anything on those books, too."

    Anakita took her leave with another heartfelt 'thank you,' then went to find Stefan. It wasn't hard; an Ascalonian fighter stood out amongst the Luxons, and Stefan had three girls and a large cat walking with him.

    When Stefan saw Anakita, his brow creased with concern. "How did you... um... did you have another baby?"

    Normally it wasn't a sensible question to ask a woman who hadn't been pregnant when he last saw her, but given the rapid acceleration of her last gestation, Anakita couldn't blame him for the thought.

    "No. She's a Luxon. They left her to die because she was born with deformities of the legs."

    Stefan looked suitably horrified. "She's coming with us, then." It didn't sound like a question.

    Anakita nodded. "Yes. I couldn't think of anything else to do."

    "Of course."

    "Miles seemed... this is going to sound insane, but he seemed worried about her. I never would have found her if he hadn't practically dragged me to where she was, and he fussed until I told Elder Rhea we'd care for her."

    Stefan smiled at Miles. "That's my boy. You're choosing her as your sister, aren't you?"

    Anakita knew it wasn't possible. Babies as young as Miles couldn't control the movements of their heads. And yet... she could have sworn Miles nodded.


    ***


    Anakita checked in with Ryder, and was pleased to learn that the ancient Luxon text had been sufficiently translated.

    "So, House zu Heltzer now, to ask about the Kurzick book?"

    Ryder shook her head. "We don't need to. This book says the other book is its twin. They're both a collection of the same rituals in the Luxon and Kurzick traditional scripts. If the books are destroyed, all the rituals created with them will be canceled out. The problem is, there's a certain procedure."

    "And that is?"

    "We have to destroy them at the foot of the pedestal that holds the Tome of the Fallen. But I don't know how we're going to figure out where that is..."

    "It's in Ascalon. Just south of the Nolani Academy, in the middle of the cemetery built in the shadow of the ruined wall."

    Ryder looked stunned. "Did you have a vision or a prophetic dream or something?"

    The Ranger shook her head. "Nothing mystical. I know where it is because I've been there before. Let's tell the others we're headed back to Ascalon."

    Trips to her ruined homeland filled Anakita with more trepidation than nostalgia, but to stop the Shiro'ken and their plan, it had to be done.
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 10-26-2011 at 01:04 AM.
    ...to the topTop



  6. #156
    Count / Countess Tigers is offline Tigers's Avatar
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    Nimue

    News of the trip back to Ascalon traveled fast through the remaining guild members. Tora and Anton would be returning to Kaineng City to finish up some guild business while Kiara would remain with Nimue and the rest to go to Ascalon. Nimue knew that the others had moved on with their lives and that returning to the burnt out husk of land held various emotions for them.


    But everything that the Mesmer had known and loved was there, no matter what the land looked like now. Her intentions, although never spoken were to die fighting Charr. If she was lucky, they’d drive them out of Ascalon for good, if not, she would spend her last breath trying to make that happen. She didn’t begrudge her guild sisters or brothers their happiness, or that most of them desired to leave Ascalon behind. She really did understand, but Marek was her hearts only desire. With him gone and her family and friends dead, she had no desire to leave.


    Ascalon was her home, and always would be. Even if they drove out the Charr, it would never be the same again. The Mesmer packed her things in silence, spent time with the rest as they finished out their visit with Kayla and Aeson before heading back to their ship. Going home for her was the same as leaving; there really were no feelings, just the numbness. On their trip, Nimue, as usual was quiet, perhaps more so than when they had first set out at the start of their journey. Marek was always on her mind, going home just seemed to remind her that she’d been away too long. By the gods how she missed him, why hadn’t she perished with him?
    Peace is a lie
    There is only passion
    Through passion I gain strength
    Through strength I gain power
    Through power I gain victory
    Through victory my chains are broken
    The Force shall set me free
    ...to the topTop



  7. #157
    Paladin Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Constance Terpein

    It wasn’t until they were on a ship heading for Ascalon that Constance had her first panic attack about leaving Sabrine behind. What was she thinking, letting her little sister take off like that in a strange country? Eventually, she’d calm down, reminding herself that she had left home for a strange country too. Not that she’d turned out fabulously well, nor was her sister made of the same stuff as she. In the end, Constance could only agonize over the decision while knowing she couldn’t change her mind. She’d accepted Sabrine’s choice the instant she’d made her decision about her guild.

    Her guild. Her family. Constance still didn’t quite understand how it all worked, though basically, she just maintained communication with the guild members in her party. She realized now that she was dedicated to them – more than just for a quest or mission – but for life. What that translated into for day-to-day purposes was her immediate concern. Should she take vested interest in their personal lives, or would that be considered nosey? Should she remain in the rear, watching and protecting, or would that mean she wasn’t giving enough of herself? What if they weren’t that interested in those details of her life either? Just how much of a ‘family’ were they supposed to be?

    They were enough of a family for Constance to see the level of hurt in Nimue only deepened the closer they got to Ascalon. Indeed, most of the party seemed to be suppressing a prevalent chill up their spines. It wasn’t that she herself was immune to the feelings Old Ascalon stirred up in her. She’d been there. She’d seen the devastation first hand. She’d fought the enemy only to be sent across the Shiverpeaks with the tails between their proverbial legs. But for her, Ascalon was as it was. It was the Shiverpeaks that were tainted – by the death of Prince Rurik and the deviousness of her blood relatives.

    So, while Ascalon didn’t hold a lot of good memories, she hadn’t had many memories from there to begin with. Constance simply hadn’t lost what the others born in Ascalon had. Did it mean she was looking forward to this particular mission? No, not really. It would be great to have the issue with the Shiro’ken solved – and equally great to be back in Kryta, hopefully without travelling through her family’s lands. And with any luck, somewhere along the line, some of her guild may find some of the peace they’d been lacking.
    ...to the topTop



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