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  1. #571
    The Great Orange One Qwaring's clone#1 is offline Qwaring's clone#1's Avatar
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    Alain LeCavalier

    Capios of Enchantry, The Ailes Bones: A Hillside of White Ruins...

    Alain's interest almost immediately focuses on the restoration of the ruins. He hasn't visited the island for a while. Not since the mass exodus from Maginus, Darmon's arrival, and the attempted assassination.

    As they walk by the large blocks of pale stone he runs his fingers over them. They're the fingers of his stone hand, and don't offer a true sense of touch, but do relay some information in their own way. Alain's expression is one of wonderment. He's always had a passion for exploring, though his multitude of obligations have often left him with no time to indulge in such desires.

    Alain wonders why Maginus never sought to delve into the lost history of this place. Sure, they would claim it's the wild magic of the area, but surely they could have worked out a way to overcome such things.

    He thinks back to those early years after the War ended, when he and his province finally had time to dig themselves out of the horrors of war and try to reclaim so much of what they lost. While picking through the fresh ruins they discovered so many older structures and relics hidden only inches below that which the war had destroyed. Even on Faraking island, which many would have thought already fully explored, an ancient LeCavalier fortress was discovered. No one knows why they would have built such a place so far north and well beyond their own territories.

    Alain envies Nalia for having this lost, forgotten city to dig up and explore. So many mysteries to solve, and lost histories to bring to the present. Who were the people of this island? Why is there no record of them? Could they be the creatures of myth that abandoned the human world so many ages ago? An elven kingdom? Or maybe something far more fantastical, like angels or vampires?

    Gradually, he can sense Nalia's nervousness. It draws his attention away from the partly restored ruins. He wonders what kind of gift could break Nalia's usual cool and controlled mood. Is it Darmon's head on a pike? Some amazing totem that will solve all of the world's problems?

    He listens as she begins to explain the work being done. When she tells him this is the beginnings of the school they once discussed, Alain takes his gaze off of Nalia and looks at the surrounding stonework with a new fascination. This information changes how he sees this place. As Nalia continues to speak, Alain walks around, his gaze isn't truly seeing the ruins or the restoration as they are, but as they could be.

    He pauses the tour of what will soon be, and offers Nalia's small joke a smile.

    When Nalia presents the velvet cloth holding crystals, Alain stops walking and looks down upon the gleaming gems. He holds his right hand over the crystals, feeling the energy they contain. After a moment to sample the arcane potency of the crystals, he lowers his hand over the bundle, while bringing up his other hand beneath it. He holds both Nalia's hands and the bundle of crystals within his warm, gentle grasp.

    Alain finally looks into Nalia's eyes. There's a light in the dark depths of his gaze.

    "Thank you," he finally breaths out his heartfelt words. There was half an instant of struggle, as Alain LeCavalier tried to find the right words to express the gratitude he feels.

    "This is all perfect. The school, your research, and these crystals. You're saving many of my people from torment and terrible sacrifices. These crystals will bring the first shining rays of hope for those that have none."

    He looks down at the hands he holds in his own, and enjoys a soft laugh.

    "I want to go and give these out right now, but I doubt breaking into peoples homes while wielding a handful of crystals would help my image. I'll task Doraen with organizing the initiative- No, wait. I don't think he's in Taroc. Hmm. I'll find someone."

    Alain returns his full attention to Nalia's eyes.

    "Thank you," he whispers to her.

  2. #572
    Capios of Enchantry, The Ailes Bones: A Hillside of White Ruins

    Nalia al'Vatar of Enchantry

    She wished there was more time. She had seen him touch the ruins as they walked, how his eyes lit up at the sight of the stone with an origin of mystery. She had felt- still felt, really- the same way bout this place. Her sight of the white stone was colored. She knew its origin. She knew its history and she would replace every single stone exactly as it had been. She would do her part to right a wrong, an unjust, horrible wrong. She had suffered too much, seen to much to be able to sit idly and do nothing.

    Now Enchantry had a name. Soon it would have a presence again.

    Perhaps... Perhaps, if they were ever given an ounce of time, they could explore these ruins here.

    Both of them, together.

    And when he took her hand and the part of her gift to Taroc that she could give him now, she smiled. His gentle whisper causes her to look down for a moment before looking back up at him.

    "You're welcome" she said just as quietly, if not, moreso. She looked up at Alain and dipped low before him. One ankle slid behind the other as she offered Alain a curtsy deep and formal, just as she had mentally given such an image to Clow. Except here she did it before him with her own flesh and the way her wind toyed with her hair that was clasped to spill over one shoulder of her formal wear as she fell and rose made it seem all the more timeless. Her hand and the offered crystals remained in his hand as she paid tribute to him. When she rose, her other hand came up to rest gently upon him as it sat atop hers.

    "There is one more thing I wish to give tonight, but" she said gently and carefully to him "This gift is for you."

    Her thumb smoothed the top of his hand gently. They were alone here, on the hills of his gifted ruins and future. Nalia suddenly found her breath getting caught in her throat and when the wind blew it raised bumps upon her flesh and caused her cheeks to pink slightly. Yes, it was the wind.

    "Come with me" she managed to ask of him.

    If he was willing, they and the wooden box floating on her wrapped shawl, would disappear from this tiny hill on the island.


    They re-appeared within Nalia's personal tent, father north on the island, toward where the island arced into a bay. She was the only one who could teleport in and out of her tent Farther down the hill, closer to the hillside ruins where they'd taken shelter from a Maginus man who, by now, had been Quieted for his attempted assassination of a, now, Guild Mistress, were smatterings of more tents. Many more than had been there when Nalia first called her people to Capios on that fateful night not so long ago. All the tents on Capios were Enchanted to give the permanent residents comforts while more permanent structures were being built.

    A breeze blew through Nalia's tent, fresh from the sea, and smell Alain would know. There was a small, canopied bed by an open window that faced the hillside as it rolled on emerald grasses down to the shore below. There bedroom portion of the enchanted tent was raised up a step higher than the rest of the surrounding room. The bedroom area stepped down into a formal sitting area. There was a lowered pit with Astral-syle couches around it. A small, enchanted fire crackled silently at the center of the raised pit. They teleported in between the bedroom and the hearth. Gently, she took her hands from Alain's and re-wrapped the crystals for him. She lifted a hand and the floated scarf unraveled itself and coiled itself into her hand. The other reached up and collected the box Alain had given her. The scarf was deposited on one of the couches. Lovingly, she held the box in one arm and reached for his hand again with the other.

    "Come with me" she asked softly of him.

    Nalia lead him the opposite direction of the hearth and the bed. They go to the end of the tent that is a singular, bare wall. There was a small writing desk beside a purposely blank patch on the bare tent wall. The desk was littered with texts and scrolls, but only a single book was opened. Nalia studied the penmanship in the worn pages. Alain would recognize the elegant scrawl of her own hand and, what appeared to be a list of runes and dates. Nalia studied them a moment before reaching up with two fingertips. They glowed green and upon the care canvas she left a trail of green as she wrote. When the rune was completed, Alain would realize it was not a rune at all, but a constellation. A simple set of lines designed to convey a single constellation from Liar'Adon's starry sky. The Wooded Rose, said to be a depiction of the Tiarnan Rose from the Woods in Shamaa. It was the image Nalia used in her calming techniques. She had told him stories of how her mother had gone into the Tiarna Woods and brought back the seeds to grow herself. Upon its completion, the green lines of the rose scrawled outward to create the outline of a door. Nalia looked back at Alain with a hint of adventure in the brights of her eyes, and lead him through the rosen door.

    The room they entered was round and full of Totems and artifacts. Alain would know the telltale hum of magikal energy emitted by the stored items. There were ancient tomes he would recognize as hundreds of years old, star charts and dragon scales the size of a small shield. There were potions and bottles and, from somewhere, the sound of running water. As they moved further into the round room, there were shelves that lined the walls and the walls themselves went way up to a single opening that let in a single shaft of moonlight. The moonlight came down and illumined a single, small tree. It was a foot taller than Nalia and the entirety of it's weeping branches were covered in balls of dew. The tree was set in a pot that was within a hole made in the floor. The running water that they heard flowed through a small channel on the floor and down into the hole where the potted tree stood. Nalia released Alain's hand so that he might look around.

    "Be careful of the waters" she warned him gently as she looked at him through the branches of the dewdrop tree. "There is a portal that lets water flow in from the Tiarna Wood. Mindoka fashioned it for me so that the tree might live here outside the forest in the Unsettled Lands. it is not what it is sustained on, but it is a close"

    Alain would begin to smell the sweet-scented water as he approached the center of the room. A few,white rose petals floated by and dipped down into the well for the tree. There were stone tablets written in ancient runes, bones as large as they were, the dried tail-fins of a mermaid, a collection of artifacts and Totems that any anthropologist or runeologist or historian in any province would melt at seeing. She had brought him here. The possibilities of what lay in this room were endless. Nalia stepped carefully over the small channel of enchanted water. She peered carefully around the tree. The dewdrops did not distort her person and reverse her image to stand on its head as normal dew would. Instead, many beautiful Nalia's looked at Alain. She watched him curiously to see how he would react to this place.

    "This room is the beginning" she said to him. "These are the artifacts I have collected, all the Totems I have unearthed that were safe enough to keep. Or small enough to fit."

    He might recognize a trunk with a handprint carved into it and linework and scrollwork. It was the trunk for which she and Oliver had gone back to Maginus. Oliver had died that night and Olivia had been born. There were countless treasures within this place. All hidden behind an illusionary door.

    "What is something you need, Alain LeCavalier?"
    *The Golden Goddess|The Goddess of All Motherless Secundae*
    *Dexter to the Core|Council of Guidance|Matriarch of Poetry*
    -Official #2 fan of Greg Land|#1 fan of Reesha Teramu & Nevole|#3 fan of Gareth|#4 fan of Arwyn
    1656OF56**Beeber Heads Unite!**4270

    \"You know me: everything detailed and long, blah blah blah.\" (Brath OOC)

  3. #573
    The Great Orange One Qwaring's clone#1 is offline Qwaring's clone#1's Avatar
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    Alain LeCavalier

    Capios of Enchantry, The Ailes Bones: A Hillside of White Ruins...

    The bundle of crystals are carefully slipped into Alain's coat pocket.

    Alain follows as Nalia guides him deeper into her many sanctuaries. First her tent, then into a hidden chamber of salvaged totems. The magic of this secret place hums like a chorus to his arcane senses. Alain may lack Nalia's sensitivity to totems, but with this much magic kept in one place it would be impossible not to feel it.

    He looks at the many artifacts of this place. There's so much more to explore. Alain wonders if this is how it has always felt for Nalia whenever she's around Totems. To hear them calling out, and seducing her with their many mysteries and miracles. It's a lot like Alain's passion for the stars. A desire to seek them out, study them, and discover every secret they sing out to the depths of the cosmos.

    Even Clow is fascinated by the treasures he can see through Alain's eyes. The ancient spirit can link a few of them to stories that were even legends in Clow's time. The rest of the collection is as much a mystery to him as it is his host. He wonders if any of the other Guild Spirits could offer other tales for some of the other artifacts. Though, he doubts most of them would offer such knowledge any time soon. Some probably never will share their wisdom and support for Nalia's work here in Enchantry.

    There are places like this in Taroc. Chambers housing relics and items of importance or power. During the War Maginus raided as many of these chambers as they could breach. Hundreds of Taroc artifacts of mystical, artistic, and cultural importance are still missing to this day. Although, Taroc did take back quite a bit of what was taken during the War, and also claimed a great deal of Maginus relics as well. Though, unlike Maginus, Alain showed no interest in items that were of strictly monetary value, and only focused on the artifacts that would bring power or a strategic advantage. These days, Taroc's relic archives are an assortment of Taroc and Maginus items, with a few Shamaa, Astral, and Da'Jinn items mixed in.

    The items in this room, however, are unlike the things Alain has studied in the Taroc archives. These are exotic items that defy what historical tomes or cultural sensibilities can teach him about their nature. They're well beyond his expertise, and out of his range to research. There's so many unknowns contained in this one place. Alain can't help but feel a thrill at the many possibilities this treasure trove contains.

    Alain is baffled by Nalia's question. What does he want? Peace and prosperity for Taroc. Justice for those that Darmon slayed and tortured during the Great War. A house in the country, a wife to hold, and children to raise. Of those desires, Alain knows only peace has any hope of coming true, and only then through eternal sacrifices and titanic efforts. The others, even for the most powerful man in Taroc, are simply fantasies.

    He shrugs his broad shoulders and offers Nalia a helpless smile, as he can't decide which of these ancient treasures he would desire.

    "You know us Taroc men, we're simple creatures," Alain lightly tells Nalia. "All we need is the ground beneath our feet and the stars above our heads. Some of us don't even need the ground."

    He tilts his head slightly and gazes upon Nalia with a daring glimmer in his dark gaze.

    "What do you think I need?"

  4. #574
    Capios of Enchantry, The Ailes Bones: A Hillside of White Ruins

    Nalia al'Vatar of Enchantry

    The shrug of his shoulders is met with a smile and a shake of her head. Nalia came out from behind the dewdrop tree. Carefully and with grace, her fingertips run along one of the bent, weeping branches of the tree. It caused the drops to shiver and tremble. The clear, small image of Nalia in the drops faded and swirled into soft sparkling clouds within the drops. Nalia plucked one of the dewdrops carefully from the tree. She held it delicately within both her palms as she walked toward Alain.

    "You Taroc men" she said as she watched the dewdrop in her hands. "Are more complicated than this tree."

    Nalia stepped with infinite grace toward him.

    "These trees can only grow in one part of Rekōdo. Their dewdrops can only appear with just the right amount of moisture. If it rains, they run down the tree and are gone. If it is too dry, the trees are barren. But in just the right valleys in the Unsettled Lands, these trees grow and they produce these beautiful orbs."

    Nalia carefully cupped the orange-sized droplet in one hand and held it aloft for him to see. The swirling opal color began to settle and take shape. They formed a small girl in a small nightgown, toga-like cottons fit for cool summer nights in Astral. A man played a set of hand pipes. His green eyes watched her between trails of his dark black hair. Beside him a woman in white healer robes and a long golden braid that hung over her shoulder hummed in a lilting voice. The mother hummed a tune to which the little girl danced. Her movements even for one so young, were elegant and graceful. Her freckled features were calm, tied unbreakably into what she was practicing.

    Alain would hear the woman's voice like an echo and the lifting of the pipes as if someone played them on hills far away.

    "They hold a memory. Just a single one. It could be something you want to see, or something you have long ago forgotten. Your happiest memory or the worst day of your life. The day you had your first kiss or the last moments of a dead relative."

    Nalia watched the memory of herself dancing for her father and mother with a veil of no emotion across her face. There was just a hint of something, for a brief moment. Sadness. Longing.

    "How treasured these trees would be for us all, if they could remain permanent."

    Nalia tilted her hand slightly and the drop began to roll.

    "When the rains come or the air and earth becomes too dry-" the drop rolled and fell to the stone floor. It burst like a balloon full of water and the memory it held burst with it.

    Nalia's hand remained upward, empty of the dewdrop. He had asked her a second question, one she pondered now.

    "Freedom" she said gently, a bit sadly. She amended her response. "More time. There is never enough."

    Nalia's eyes finally tore away from him as she looked around the room full of unexplained treasures.

    "Nothing here can stop or stall time. I wish that it could. It would be yours."

    She offered such a fictional treasure to him without hesitation. Instead she turned from him and went to something behind her at the end of the small, towering room. Something was nestled among the dragon scales and things that hummed with old magik. Something tantalizing, natural and yet foreign. It was wrapped and when she carried it to him, it was as larger than a shield, perfectly round and slightly bowed. Slowly she took the cloth from it. The circular disk was clear, but held a pearlescent hint to it. What part of it was held in front of Nalia seemed clearer, more defined as if seen through the eyes of something otherworldly. There was a hint of something around the clear definitions of her body. Something of an aura.

    "This is the lens of a dragon's eye" she said and held it out for him to observe if he so wished. "It is without flaw or defect. You will need it to view your stars through the mist of the Ailes."

    There were horizon-hugging constellations, ones that could only be seen at certain times of year and if the mist of the Ailes was thick enough, they went without detection or observation.

    "Dragons are old, older than we can hope to know or understand. Their eyes have seen so much of our world that we cannot, in ways that we cannot. They are attuned to the Old Magik of the Ailes. Their lenses can pierce the mist so that you can see your stars."

    The lens provided hints of auras, of colors around everything in the room. She could use this to define and catalogue everything in this room, for new discoveries. And she gave it to him so that he could study his stars more succinctly.

    "It is not so beautiful a gift as the stars in the sky..." Nalia stopped and something changed in her face. She tried to sort through something, some words or some thoughts.

    "I wish I could give you-" she started quietly. She stopped and shook her head softly. "Will this do, Alain? if there is anything else in this room that you desire more, speak of it and it is yours."

  5. #575
    The Great Orange One Qwaring's clone#1 is offline Qwaring's clone#1's Avatar
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    Alain LeCavalier

    Capios of Enchantry, The Ailes Bones: A Hillside of White Ruins...

    Alain studies the droplets of water. A single memory stored in the palm of a hand. He ponders the collection of memories that makes up his life. So much that hurts to recall. So much more that would bring joy to relive. However, Harbin didn't raise Alain to look backward. To learn from the past, yes, but not to dwell on it. For Harbin, the pursuit of new cherished memories was better than looking back at the old. Alain guesses it was because the past offered the old man too much pain. Harbin had lost too much, and so his memories felt like a curse to him.

    When Nalia guesses what a perfect gift would be, Alain nods in amused approval. The passage of time is an enemy that none can escape or vanquish. If Alain had access to an eternity he might actually accomplish every item on those schedules Verona is always crafting for him. As it is, Alain is lucky to make it halfway through Verona's perfectly calculated schedule before some emergency derails the entire thing.

    Alain winces when Nalia shows him her gift for him. He had not expected Clow to suddenly cry out with so much excitement. True, Clow has been struggling to solve the problem of the mists for as long as he's existed, but the volume of his childlike glee still takes Alain by surprise.

    Alain begins chuckling at Clow's reaction. He tries to explain his reaction to Nalia,
    "On behalf of Clow and myself, thank you."

    Alain laughs again, as the spirit rushes off to some corner of Alain's mind to begin planning out how to best implement the new lens. Alain whispers to Nalia, as if that will prevent the spirit from hearing him, "You should hear how excited he is. I don't think I've ever felt him this happy before."

    Clow doesn't seem to have heard Alain, as the spirit vanishes into Alain's telepathy power. There he communes with the Heli'Dom, and begins setting everything up to have the tower and telescope ready for workmen to arrive in the morning. It might take the rest of the night, but Clow will do everything he can to ensure this new lens is put to use as soon as possible. Now that Clow's presence is away in some deeper part of Alain's psyche, the Guild Master is able to focus his full attention on the lens and the woman giving it to him.

    "This is beautiful. Truly. I don't know what to say. You've given me a new corner of the sky to explore."

    Alain looks up from the lens when Nalia asks him if there's anything else in this hidden chamber that he might desire. His dark gaze meets with her green eyes. He immediately knows exactly what he wants. He forgets to hide that desire in his heated gaze.

    "I can't ask for any more," Alain whispers. "There's only so much we can give to each other. There are rules. Laws."

    There are indeed rules against large transfers of magical gifts. Anything beyond a certain limit would require council or the king's approval. Although, they have not yet reached such limits, and Alain is not truly speaking of those laws. There is one law that forbids what he desires right now.

    Alain steps closer to Nalia. Only the offered lens is between them. Some part of him is tempted to cast aside the infinitely valuable lens and cross that final distance.

    "I should go," Alain says with a quiet voice that would give anything not to leave.

  6. #576
    Capios of Enchantry, The Ailes Bones: A Hillside of White Ruins

    Nalia al'Vatar of Enchantry

    Nalia's brow furrowed at the wince, but at its explanation, she smiled. It was a soft thing, a light dapple of joy across her lovely features. Alain rarely ever used Clow's name in conjunction with happiness. His compliment of her gift brings a small amount of color to accompany the small smile. Nalia looked down at the lens as if to study it and be sure it was truly a flawless piece for the Master of Taroc. She would give no less to his Heli'Dom. To him.

    "What is a telescope lens when compared to giving a chance at life to a young child? It is a small star in the vast sky in comparison."

    She looked back up to find him staring at her. The way he looked at her made her go very still. Her lips parted as she felt the answer to her question fill her with a warmth she forgot she so wanted. Nalia felt her heart hammering the need for his warmth into her chest. Her hands tighten on the lens as he approached. She knows the law of which he speaks and she hates it. If this wasn't a gift for him, she would let it fall so that there was nothing between them. Nothing but a law she knows is wrong.

    His whispers cut like sharp glass, because he's right. He should go before this becomes a regret that would mar the creation of Enchantry forever. Nalia looked away from Alain. Down and then around behind her at the dew tree. She does not want to remember. She turned away and was faced with him again. Nalia tried to hide the breaks she felt in her heart- something for which she was entirely unprepared.

    "As you wish" she said quietly and then quieter still after swallowing the desire to ask him to stay. "I will lead you out."

    The room was warded against teleporting in or out to protect the precious cargo within the hold. She lifted the lens and passed beside him to lead him out. She hesitated a moment and reached back with one of her hands. Slowly, as if afraid of what could happen, she slid her cool fingers into his flesh and blood hand. Her emerald eyes looked up at him and then she guided him forward. When she got to the doorway of the tower, she carefully placed the lens down and touched her hand within an imprint in the stone. It was perfectly her size. emerald scrollwork lines scrawled outward in a circle from where her palm connected with the tower. Alain would feel a slight tingling, of Old Magik being used. When the lines completed their fingerprint pattern, they pulsed softly and then disappeared.

    "I've never brought anyone here. I did not want the wards to lock you in."

    She did not let his hand go as they left the room. They reappeared on the other side of the tent wall where they'd entered. She looked back as he came with her as if to make sure her wards truly did not trap him there. She had been extra cautious in keeping her collection safe. She looked back at him the entire time he re-emerged from the hold. As he came safely forth, emerald light would flare in the hand that held the lens. The pearlescent disc melted away into droplets of emerald starlight. She tried to imagine look he'd given her disappearing in much the same fashion.

    She couldn't.

    "I am sure Clow has already called in the cavalry to get the lens installed" she said as she looked back at him. "I sent the lens ahead. It will be waiting for you at the Heli'Dom along with notes on its uses and properties."

    A cool breeze came in through the bay style window by her canopied bed. Nalia looked up to the window, to the bed and stopped. She did not want to remember, but the look he'd shown her in his eyes made her. She remembered the sound of buttons raining down upon the floor of the Heli'Dom, his lips upon her skin, the way he touched her delicately, the way he moved above her. His sounds. Every scar upon his flesh that she'd touched, discovered. The noise he made when she- Nalia suddenly felt a piece of her resolve crumble. Her head bowed before turning to look back at him. She was still holding his hand. The same look he'd given her moments ago was returned, but it was laced with restraint that hurt her to bear.

    "You should go" she said. Her voice was painfully quiet. He would see it in her eyes that it was the farthest thing from what she wanted.
    Last edited by SilntAngl5; 11-21-2017 at 07:03 PM.

  7. #577
    The Great Orange One Qwaring's clone#1 is offline Qwaring's clone#1's Avatar
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    Alain LeCavalier

    Capios of Enchantry, The Ailes Bones: A Hillside of White Ruins...

    A younger Alain would have damned the laws and ended this charade. That Alain had the luxury of leading in a lawless war. He could let his instincts and passions rule him. During the War he had almost nothing to lose.

    With peace came the shackles of rules and laws that he couldn't ignore, because now he has a world to lose. With age has come the wisdom to understand that the rules and laws exist for a reason. It's only on nights like tonight that this reason evades Alain's very frustrated awareness.

    Where Nalia leads him, Alain follows. This is Nalia's domain. He trusts his hand into her grasp. Her chilled touch excites a tingle up his arm. Soon she has guided him out of the hold and into her tent. The hum of ancient magic is replaced with the sound of the night air gently pressing against the canvas dwelling.

    "Thank you for setting me free," Alain lightly comments when Nalia tells him about the wards she needed to move him beyond. "I've been told I make a terrible captive."

    Alain attention drifts towards the cool breeze. A hint of the seas lingers in the wind. He finds his eyes looking upon the bed. He quickly tears his eyes away from the bed and returns his attention to his host. He reminds himself that Nalia is a fellow Guild Master. It's his duty to try to treat her as such, and not give in to whatever desires he might have.

    For the sake of Taroc, the laws of their lands, and both of their futures, he should just leave. End this quickly. Not give himself the chance to do something foolish.

    "Farewell, Councilor Nalia of Enchantry," he softly tells her. Alain can't help but smile as he uses the title Nalia has struggled so hard to achieve. "May the stars look favorably on you, your people, and your reincarnated city."

    He gives her a slight bow and evaporates into a burst of crimson fire that burns itself out within moments. The flames are no warmer than the man's own body temperature, and do nothing to harm the surrounding tent or the hand that held Alain's hand.

  8. #578
    The Grand Palace in Rekōdo City: The Gardens

    King Heron Younger.jpg Young Prince Eri.jpg

    Heron, King of Rekōdo, Pasce, Princess of Rekōdo and Prince Eri, Protector to the Heir of Rekōdo

    The Gardens was a natural wonder of Rekōdo and one of the few natural things left in the large cityscape that was tribute to its original state. The Grand Palace was as it was named: grand and beautiful in it architectural feat. With its spires of dedication to each province, there was little else like it in all of the City except The Gardens.

    Built atop a sharp uprising in the earth, the slopes of the palace were steep. Over time, the city was built up around it with walls marking occasional needs for protection and walls farther out from the palace as a need for expansion. The Palace itself was the highest point in Rekōdo City. The city built itself around that hill. Within the walls that surrounded the hill where the palace had grown was a garden. From the beginning, it had been a place of tranquility, where those of the palace could come to escape the harsh stresses that came with the power of rule. From its conception, the garden was tricky in nature, because of nature, to design. The slopes of the hill upon which the palace was built were of a steeper grade than traditional garden work would allow, and so when design upon design failed to take root, the most natural thing to do was mold it to nature itself. Nothing brought in, planted, constructed obscured the natural elements of the forested hillside. Pathways were built around trees, moon bridges in high, arching coils over lakes. Paths were hewn of the stones of the earth. Rounded stones collected from beaches around Rekōdo made for a pleasant sounds as one walked along the trees and fauna. All over the secluded hillside of the gardens were things from the provinces that could survive naturally and not interfere with the natural order already in place. There were symbols pf the provinces hidden, old runes and sayings, things that would only catch the eye of the careful observer. Some would only shine or glimmer faintly at the presence of one who wielded powers of that province. All were to the delight of the wanderer.

    By far, the Princess's favorite things of the garden were the Taroc Maples that flourished in the low light of the much larger and taller Rekōdo oaken trees. They were not large trees, but the boughs spread out at wide, even angles along the ground. Their leaves remained at a range of sunset orange to deep crimson red all year long, even in winter. They were native to their namesake along the border with Maginus in the northeastern regions of the province. Some even grew along the cliffs between Clow and Al'Rora. It was said by Taroc sailors that a man knew he was home from the emerald seas when the bright red beacons of Taroc lined the cliff-shores of the land.

    It was within one of these trees that the remnants of the Princess's present hung. Ribbons of the palest pink hung like party streamers from one of the lower hanging branches of the crimson maples. They had tied back the long, strawberry blond hair of the future ruler of their lands, but had been un-entwined from her fancy braided coils and hung carefully there. There were books balanced carefully atop one of the twists the trunk of the tree where it branched out horizontally from it's base. Three, all of her magikal studies for the week. They too, like the ribbons, had been abandoned carefully in search of greater things.

    There was a bridge and a pathway that branched off from the small glade with the maple of her favor and just off this path, nearly hidden by the natural world around it, was a stone gazebo.

    It was the end of summer and even with the bloom of wildflowers that thrived in all kinds of weather, the rest of the world was slowly beginning to unwind into the coolness and color of fall. The Princess walked on the beaten path amongst the tall lavendars and purples that lead up to the gazebo. She seemed to belong here, amongst the flowers, with her pastel pink dress, her long, pale wavy hair and her pale green eyes. She was a quiet girl, observant, and she came unto the stone gazebo with that same quiet observance that marked her as an intelligent child. She'd had a birthday this past summer. She was six now, almost a lady.

    The sounds of swords, of her father and her brother in one of their rare moments to be able to train together when neither were entrapped by their royal tasks. The Princess turned and watched what she could see of them with her watchful eyes. They stopped sparring, her father lowering his sword to step forward and adjust the setting of Eri's shoulders and how wide he held his arms as he moved. Her father was patient with Eri and she could tell by how attentively her brother, five years older than her, stared that he was listening avidly and retaining everything he said.

    That was the beautiful thing about Eri: Everything said was important and given all of his devotion and attention. Every detail was memorized and stored. Pasce watched her brother and father and then turned and entered the gazebo.

    It was an old thing, carved of the same stone of the castle. At least that's what she thought. It appeared to be the same. She ran her fingers over the smoothed stone, over the veins of marbles ores within its surface. She looked upward into the dome of the gazebo. It was pitch black with what appeared to be tiny holes. Light filtered in from the world around and mapped out the night sky of their world. Each time of day lit up a new set of stars and moved them across the night sky. The pillars that held up the sky dome were the five, now six provinces of Rekōdo. Each one had the marks of their province upon the stone. Pasce stopped curiously at the one that held the horizon of Enchantry. How did it get here? It was only six months old. the Princess reached her fingers up to touch it, but hesitated before doing so. Something caught her eye. Another pillar, a seventh beside the pillar of Liar'Adon, Deanna and the two creations before man. It was smooth except for a single place. It looked as if something had been scratched off. It was like the High Council Chamber. The empty chair. And the unlit tower above the palace. A reminder of war and what consequence it wrought. The Princess's brow furrowed.

    The clanging of swords picked up again, but she did not turn around to watch this time. The clanging echoed in the beautiful serenity of the garden, terribly out of place and entirely right as her pale green eyes stared at the damaged pillar.

  9. #579
    The Great Orange One Qwaring's clone#1 is offline Qwaring's clone#1's Avatar
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    Jun 2004
    Walking around.
    Alain LeCavalier

    The Grand Palace in Rekōdo City: The Gardens...

    On the opposite side of the gazebo, Alain leans one shoulder on the trunk of an Astral tree. The tree is actually two trees with their trunks wrapping around one another like a braid. These trees can only grow and thrive when paired together. Alain is sure in Astral there is some poetry, or inappropriate innuendo, associated with these kind of trees, but right now he doesn't give it much thought.

    Instead, the Guild Master is observing the sparring match. Alain's combat sense sings the songs of potential. In Heron, potential lost due to injury and half a life ruling from a throne. In Eri, potential that has yet to be fully realized, yet shines bright like a new dawn waiting just over the horizon. Give or take twenty years and one of the sparring duo would pose a challenge to Alain in his prime.

    Right now, the match is an interesting study on Rekōdo dueling techniques. It's also an exercise in ignoring Clow, who is trying to remind Alain of proper protocol. Alain should have announced his arrival, or had one of the court servants announce his arrive, and he should have bowed and saluted the royal family. Alain shrugs off the spirits complaints. The Guild Master could sense the sparring match when he arrived, and avoided all of those protocols because he doesn't want to intrude upon this moment between father and son.

    Alain would give anything to have just one last sparring match with Harbin. To listen to whatever words of wisdom and experience tumble out of the old man as he sought to give his grandson a fighting chance in a dangerous world.

    To end this time between father and son feels like a crime to Alain. As if he has stolen something from them. Something that fate has taken from Alain.

    Alain isn't too worried about Clow's complaining. The guild master has been on his best behavior for six months. So far, Alain has only encountered Nalia a few times, and there's been no temptation to do anything inappropriate. Sure, Alain surrounded himself with administrators and functionaries during those meetings, and ensured both he and Nalia were flooded with an ice cold shower of paperwork, politics, and the unending bureaucracy of running a guild. In those meetings Alain was well prepared to resist any desires he might have.

    Unfortunately, it was all of those lonely nights, when the world was quiet and there were no distractions, that Alain felt an urge to seek out Nalia. To see her. Speak with her. To-

    Alain takes a deep calming breath. He's been a good guild master these past six months. His actions haven't brought about the doom of Taroc or the rest of the nation. He shouldn't spoil that now by letting his mind wander to things that can never be.

    It is by this time that Alain notices Pasce. He immediately recognizes the princess. There is too much of her mother in her features for Alain not to know who the girl is. The restrictions on guild masters interacting with the royal heir have been partially lifted. The guild masters will need to meet with Pasce now that she has reached an age where they will need to tutor her on the magic and culture of their provinces.

    He should have met her during his birthday celebration. Unfortunately, Alain could not attend the celebration. He had to be in Shamaa that day.

    Weeks before Pasce's birthday, Zareb died. The Second of Shamaa was taking part in an annual air race. Every guild participates in the race, sending their best pilots with their mystical flying vehicles or creatures. They try to outfly one another on a path that runs through every province. The race is something Zareb helped to create, in order to give the provinces a way to compete with one another. Or at least compete in a way that didn't involve pointless wars. Zareb often participated as the representative of Shamaa. He even won a few times.

    This year, Zareb seems to have taken a wrong turn and flew into a cloud that obstructed his vision for a few moments. In that brief period of time, the spirit bird he flew on struck an obstacle. Zareb was dazed and thrown off of the spirit. He fell to his death. A tragic and senseless end to a great and honorable warrior.

    Zareb's people have burial and mourning rituals that last weeks, especially for someone as famous and accomplished as Zareb was. Alain and Mindoka, as brothers to Zareb in every way except blood, were honor-bound to participate in these rituals. Some of Alain's critics in Taroc worried that spending weeks in Shamaa and missing the princess's birthday celebration would reflect poorly on Taroc. Alain didn't listen to such complaints. His place was by Mindoka's side. He had to honor Zareb in the ways of his people.

    Ryth and Verona were sent to the birthday celebration in Alain's place. They made sure Taroc was well represented. They even delivered Pasce's birthday present. Alain was too distraught over Zareb's death to personally choose a gift, so for once he listened to Clow. The spirit advised him to give the girl a deck of divining cards. The cards were exquisitely hand painted by some of the most talented card artists in Taroc, and tailored specially for Pasce. The princess has reached a point in her education where she will need to learn the various mystical arts of all provinces, so giving a deck of divining cards is the proper and traditional gift given by the guild master of Taroc.

    Before the celebration, Ryth snuck a peek at the gift. He disapproved. To the old soldier, giving a deck of cards felt too much like giving out homework to a kid. He quickly purchased a small book to hide away in the gift box along with the cards. The book is instructions that teach kids how to play games with a deck of divining cards. Ryth hoped his addition would help make Taroc's gift a little more useful to a kid that should enjoy being a kid before she grows up and everyone wants her to carry the weight of the whole world on her shoulders.

    Verona, to her credit, did not try to strangle Ryth for making an addition to Taroc's official gift, which may very well influence an entire generation of Taroc/Rekōdo relations.

    When he heard about Ryth's actions, Alain shrugged it off. Alain knows Heron well enough to know the king won't take the gesture as a slight against his daughter's potential with the divining arts.

    Alain turns his attention back towards the sparring match. It still sings to his combat sense.

    Life is much too short to interrupt such a tune, and so Alain simply listens and allows events to play out.

  10. #580
    The Grand Palace in Rekōdo City: The Gardens

    King Heron Younger.jpg Young Prince Eri.jpg

    Heron, King of Rekōdo, Pasce, Princess of Rekōdo and Prince Eri, Protector to the Heir of Rekōdo

    He was doing quite well, far better than the last time they'd had a chance to spar together. When was the last time? A month? Several? Surely not a full year? Their world had been churned many times over, like fine Astral butter, since the naming of Enchantry as the sixth Guild of Rekōdo. As expected, there was a rush to occupy that space by the curious, the desperate, the lonely, the ambitious. The new Guild Mistress would sort all of that out. It was also expected to produce some backlash somewhere, in each of the Provinces for their own reasons. Many of the Provinces had responded surprisingly well to the creation of a new Guild and had caused little issue. Taroc and Shamaa had handled it with much more grace than the others, he suspected, much due to their Guild Masters. Da'Jinn paid little attention to it, as it often did with many matters of the kingdom unless it direction involved or interfered with them. The only concern made was that the province feared a loss of their women to the radical ideas of the possibility of life outside the Province of Da'Jinn, but he knew it was merely protocol and that Jinai would handle such matters herself. It would be seen as shameful if their Guild Master, even a woman, was to let the west handle the affairs of the East. Such was the divide that remained and, he was suspecting, grew wider since the Treaty of Tradisi's signing. The World did not need another Great War, but his inklings were felt far from such an outcome. Signing a pact with the West for peace would have run against the grain of Da'Jinn's tough hide. An amount of damage control and reassertion that Da'Jinn was still Da'Jinn would need to be made. It was most likely that and nothing more.

    The real problem had been with Astral and Maginus, much more the latter as was expected, and more of the first than was expected at all. Astral's response as a province was much different than the general response of its Guild Master. Many of Astral, specifically of Dayena, as that was nearest to where the al'Vatar lands had been, had protested. They'd marched in the streets waving banners- terribly artistic ones- of the massacre of their Golden Healer with slogans denouncing the creation of the murderess's guild. The banners had been hung throughout Dayena and riveting speeches were given by Astral's best orators in their senatorium proclaiming that any Astralian who defected to Enchantry would join the Guild Mistress there in eternal exile. There had been marches in the Astral section of Rekōdo City, but a show of the City's soldiers minimized the show and it peetered out with little more uprising after. There were still the voices that cried out in their anger, but Astral was not radical enough to secede or attempt any sort of military acts or force. The Guild was made and Nalia was named as its mistress through Oath and blood. Their show of feelings did not amount to much more than that.

    Maginus, as predicted, was the most violent of the Provinces. Despite his participation in the Oath of Masters Ceremony- of which he'd had little choice since going against it would be an act of treason against the crown of Rekōdo- Darmon had done everything short of active military response against Enchantry itself in response to his former protege gaining her independence and creating her Island-guild. His raving, angry rhetoric of her personal betrayal to him and to all of Maginus was insulting. He slandered the new Guild Mistresses name in mud more filthy than the lowest hovel of Arx City itself. The most dark magik since the Great War itself had been called upon to stop as many of Maginus's citizens from embarking to Enchantry and the island of Capios as possible. People were being arrested for attempting to eave Maginus. Some had proof of their departure to Enchantry, but many did not. Dragon Knights were in heavy patrol in the cities, especially along the coasts. The Maginus Naval ships, cutting Drakkar and Tall Ships, flooded their coastline with their presence. They patrolled the cold waters of the Sea of Rekōdo between their portion of the mainland and Maginus. They made sure Taroc saw their banners as they sailed, but were careful to sail just within the sanctity of their borders. The violence that erupted in pockets of Maginus's greater and Eastern cities was given little thought by the Maginus leadership. Their Knights and soldiers had deserters and traitors amongst their own to find.

    And the notes. How Darmon of Maginus lead his Province was a mystery when he seemed to have time to write notes to the King, daily, to remind him of his protest of Enchantry's creation. He went on for pages in his enraged speeches and the self-orating scrolls bellowed his complaints with words that never quite reached something of treason or threats. he'd been sent note daily by Darmon himself for months. It was only with the approach his daughter's sixth birthday, and with no response to his favor in sight, that he finally desisted in his daily protests. Life in Maginus under suspicion and a blow to their own self-regard had done little in the way of improvement and along their border cities, more specifically with Taroc than Da'Jinn, a shift in the amount of soldiers had been noted. Windf'rte, Adlide, and Elve had seen a marked increase in military activity since the Oath of Masters last Spring. Relations and trade had dwindled slightly with Shamaa and Da'Jinn as well, while Astral seemed to get many more discounts on tariffs with their equivalent betrayal by the Mistress of Enchantry. Trade, if any with Enchantry and Maginus was either at a standstill or seeing outrageously high import taxes from the mainland Province. That was something he would need to discuss with Darmon soon on a more personal level.

    Right now, though, he needed to concentrate, or his son would easily best him as they sparred. His old injury on his upper leg pained him today, so much so that he did not think he could make the trek down the steep and sometimes winding paths of The Gardens to this spot that the Princess so-loved. It had the most Taroc Maples and the Prince had been more than inclined to indulge in his sister's wishes. At least the grounds leveled out slightly here. They had a small tract of land upon which to spar before the downward roll of the hill continued on toward the massive city below. Even without the landscape as a worry, his son was keeping him on his toes. He had neglected his own health and fitness these past months, but his country needed the steady reassurance of its leaders that a new Guild was just what they needed. He made a mental note to send commendation to Ganard for his work with his son. Eri's skill with a sword had grown drastically stronger indeed. He had been told that Eri had been matched to his last protector: a young girl from House Diorna named Merelin. She had exceeded all other children from the varying nobles houses of Rekōdo City and had bonded well with the young Prince. For a boy that was so much like his father, it had made the King smile to know he'd been able to find something and someone in which to form any kind of bond beside his role as Protector to the Heir. He hadn't and when his younger brother, Ehrin, had passed the loss had almost ruined him.

    The foliage was dense in the tail-end of summer, but not so-much so that beautiful rays of sunlight could not make their way through. Starlight from above the dome of the gazebo fell in tiny rays everywhere along the floor of the gazebo, and matched out the starry sky they could not yet see. Pinpoint rays of sunlight fell on the Princess's free, blond hair, as if Deanna herself were looking down from the stars to try and find her descendent's most beautiful features. The Princess's pale eyes looked away from the damaged pillar and toward the man standing against the twisted tree. She did not seem surprised or startled to see him. Her father had mentioned the Master of Taroc would be joining them today. The first of many visits by Guild Masters to come until she was, once again, separated from the world.

    She had spent hours studying the hand-painted cards she'd been given on her birthday. In the same, careful manner that she dedicated to studying the gazebo, perhaps even more so, she had poured over the cards first individually and then in sets spread before her in an arc on the floor. There was tradition in the gift, her father had told her, something to be respected and valued. The book, he'd said, was thoughtful. Something to be cherished and enjoyed. She'd read through the book within two days and had persuaded Eri to try a few of them with her. In the games, she saw patterns in the cards, how when paired together they seemed to do or say certain things. She did not quite understand them, but sometimes she dreamed about the cards. Sometimes their meaning brought her places in the World of Dreams.

    Did the Master of Taroc dream?

    The Princess's pale green eyes left the scrutiny of the gazebo's damaged pillar and afforded the Guild Master nearby a careful look. She studied him with the same, detail-oriented interest she had the gazebo when she'd stepped beneath its star-strewn ceiling. The symbol of Taroc glowed brightly at his presence. Could he see it too? Certain runes only glowed for certain wielders of power from certain provinces. A crimson and gold card entwined together. Pasce's eyes left him just for a moment to gaze across her father and brother as they continued their jaunt, to the Taroc Maples. A warm summer breeze was rustling the leaves of the many trees planted just beyond. The pale pink ribbons that matched her calf-length dress swayed gently and her books wobbled slightly. One of those books was the one given to her for her birthday. One from Taroc to compliment her cards and one a study on Shamaa Spiritualism: A Guide to Animal Spirits. The third was Old Runeology. A personal, handwritten text given to her by Nalia of Enchantry. She so loved deciphering old runes. The Princess's eyes came back to watch the Master of Taroc. His eyes were fixed on watching her father and brother.

    There were protocols she needed to follow when introducing herself to a Guild Master. Really, she had too many questions for the man who could divine cards and read stars. She took several steps closer to the Guild Master before she stopped and hesitated before speaking.

    "I enjoyed your stars at the ceremony" she said to him suddenly, but more quietly than loudly in the lack-of-manner that most six-year old children would have. So much for protocol. She had too many questions.
    "I am not supposed to speak of it, because it is unfair... but they were my favorite."

    She fell back into silence and looked down, then away, back to her father and brother. Her father had explained why he could not attend her birthday party. She had enjoyed the two that had been sent from Taroc, the woman and the man. Filip Ryth and Verona Aliester she'd made herself remember. Names were important, her father had said. Remember them.

    "I have much enjoyed the cards and the book. I have learned much from them both and hope you can teach me even more" she said quickly and caught herself. Too many questions. Pasce took a deep breath, the way she'd been taught. She turned from directly facing Alain to face her father and brother. She stood beside him now, a pace or two away and under the starlight of the gazebo. He had known her mother I'yana before her passing. She looked exactly like her. Pasce was silent a long moment. She had learned of the Guild Masters in her studies, so much so that she felt she knew enough about them to converse with Alain of Taroc. Pasce put much faith in her father's judgment of others. She knew her father thought Alain LeCavalier was a good man.

    Too many questions.

    "I am sorry about Master Zareb's passing. That must have been very difficult for you" she said genuinely and in a manner that was mature for her age. "Master Mindoka will not come see me yet until his mourning time is over."

    It seemed like something a child her age should and would pout about, but her sentence ended thoughtfully and she took a moment before speaking again.

    "Father said... He said that losing a Second would be like losing a brother or a son and that's... that's awful."

    Something about the swords between her father and brother grew louder. Pasce's eyes could not look away from them now. Both her father and brother were perspiring, her father noticeably more so. Eri had advanced on him and gained the advantage in his youth and seemingly endless tap of energy. Her father's heron-crested cane was laying against a bench of carved wood and stone set a few paces off the path that led from the main, gravel trail to the gazebo and Taroc Maples. Pasce's eyes went to it and then to her father. There was a note of concern in her voice as she finished the unvoiced though to the Master of Taroc.

    "Shamaa mourns" she said with words that sounded much like her father, but her voice grew distant as she watched the spar continue with growing concern. "I would like to do something to help heal their grief."

    There were roots that snakes above ground despite the area of even terrain. Maples were a hearty tree, but as deeply as their roots delved to drink from deep aquifers beneath the earth, so did some remain aloft to drink the richness of the rainwater when it fell onto the topsoil. It had not rained recently, though it would soon, judging by the smell of the summer wind. The King retreated back several steps, leading with his good leg. His boot caught one of those roots and he lost his footing. There was not enough strength in his left leg to sustain him. The King let out a sharp cry and took a knee upon the ground. At Alain's side, the Princess made a small, scared noise and brought her hands to her mouth. Heron held up a hand to stop his son's advance, but at the first sight of his father's stumble, the Prince had halted. Now his stern brown eyes were upon his father, who continued to hold up his hand while he managed he attempted to manage his pain and control his breathing. The Prince's chest rose and fell rapidly. He held his sword out, ready to drop it and let his father receive his aid, but the call for it never came. The graying King glanced up to where his daughter had been and did a double-take upon seeing the Master of Taroc standing at her side. He offered a smile up to Alain, one the Master might recognize as a guise to control how much pain he let others see in him.

    "Master Alain" the King said the Master of Taroc's name formally in greeting.
    " Be welcome. I can see it pleases Pasce that you've come. She has been looking forward to this visit since her birthdate."

    The Princess's cheeks flushed slightly, but her father's words were gentle and not chiding. The heron-crested cane wiggled and danced to a upright position from where it had been propped agains the bench. It bobbed back and forth along the grassy ground until it came to the King's hand. He gripped it firmly and tightly.

    "Do an old man a favor" the King called to Alain "and help the Prince bring me up before all of Rekōdo knows what a weak, old fool I've become."

    Immediately, Eri came to his father's side and looped an arm under Heron's right side. The hand of his left, he offered for Alain to take. Heron looked to his son and gave him a proud smile that could only come from a father to his son. His voice spoke to Alain, but the pride in his eyes spoke to his son.

    "Ganard had warned me that Eri had improved in form, strength and stamina. I should listen more to those around me so that their wisdom can become my own."

    There was always a lesson in everything Heron said and did. This was especially true concerning his children.

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