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  1. #51
    Paladin Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Before Alexis could say anything about it, Oreina had definitely picked up on the unsettled feeling moving through the trees. Her skin pricked as if a cool breeze had just blown over them - but the day was dead calm. All of creation had seemed to sense that something was wrong with their creator and suddenly the whole Planet was in turmoil. In a way, Oreina could understand - concern was only natural - but another part of her was surprised at the depth of the reaction. Asha ran herself pretty well, with a little help from friends on the surface, so she wasn't sure why the Planet seemed so nervous. Maybe...maybe she was taking Alexis' "restart" a little too casually. Maybe... Oreina shook her head. It was too easy to get wrapped up in the "what ifs" - she had to take her own advice and just move one step at a time.

    And right now, Asha needed them to take a step in her direction. Children often need reassurance from their parents and really, that was exactly what Asha was...Alexis' child. And so, when Alexis declared her intention to look after the balance and took her arm, she turned her wrist to grasp her sister's forearm in what she hoped was a reassuring manner.

    "Of course. You're right. It would be wrong to leave Asha and everyone feeling this way. We can certainly meet up with Tiergia, Tristan, Lyria and Mouse before we chase down Shrike. If I had to guess, they'll probably be moving toward where the big explosions happened - back at the lake. It's been a favourite spot with the centaurs, so they should be nearby."

    She turned to Mortin and Scion, "Just a brief course correction - we're going to touch base with Asha's guardians before we go."
    Winner of the dubious Vaarsuvius Award for Verbousness!

    I support altruism.

  2. #52
    Count / Countess Tigers is offline Tigers's Avatar
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    Serena

    Thundering hooves tore across the surface of Asha as Serena rushed to every location she could think of to find Mouse. The entire planet had been in an uproar from the moment of the resounding impact on the planet’s surface. There wasn’t a single living creature or being on this planet’s surface that was not in tune to their senses and right now that sense was something was off.

    It wasn’t just Asha, it was something more personal. Serena could only surmise that it had something to do with Alexis. But with anything out of the ordinary, Serena would help but wonder if it had something to do with the Suicide Squad, and that crazy werewolf.

    Serena searched Mouse’s home, one more time before heading out to find Tristan and Lyria. Maybe they would know where he’d gone off too, or maybe he was already there. It was difficult to tell with Mouse sometimes, he was prone to his walk-a-bouts.


    “Mouse?”

    Serena sighed.

    “Oh Mouse, where have you gone?”

    Well, there was no more time to waste, so Serena galloped off toward the direction of the lake. Alexis had warned them that unsettling events were taking place in the Bright Universe. So, the whole of the planet was on alert, in case these events started hitting closer to home. Reaching the edge of the lake near the forest, Serena called out for her friends, hoping that they were nearby. Her wither’s shook from the workout of trying to cover so much ground in as little time as possible.

    Her coat was soaked from the journey and her muscles quivered. If they were not here, she could only head out toward Alexis’ cabin and see if they’d all gathered there. Her hoof struck the ground in an anxious manner as she called out to them.


    “Tristan…...Lyria are you here. I cannot find Mouse.”
    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

  3. #53
    Paladin Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    "Mum and Dad are on the other side of Asha."

    The voice was young and not quite as lyrical as her mother's, but Leigh's relation to Lyria was unmistakable nonetheless. The girl was nearly full-grown now, not nearly so leggy as she had been just a few short years before. She was fitted with a leather jerkin over her usual light blue cotton shirt, a quiver of arrows on her back, the bow in her hand and a short sword at her side.

    "I came as quickly as I could. Callum's gone off to fetch our parents, but I am sure they are already on their way. Everyone knows that something is wrong."

    Leigh's tone was matter of fact, but her eyes belied the fear she held. She looked up Serena, but she wasn't sure if the older centaur would accept her in the stead of either Tristan or Lyria. Despite her parentage and all her war practicing, she was bit uncertain as to where she stood as a member and future protector of the Planet. She was about to ask Serena what they should do, when a familiar sound caused her to simultaneously roll her eyes and scowl furiously behind her.

    "I TOLD you to stay put!" the command came out through gritted teeth as though that alone would keep Serena from hearing what she was saying to her little sister. Jemima paid Leigh no mind, but walked up next to her and addressed Serena.

    "As Leigh said, our parents are away, so we have come in their stead of offer what aid we can." At this, she patted the medical bag fastened around her waist. Like her mother, Jemima was a natural healer and was studying the arts as quickly as Lyria could teach her. As her sister huffed and stamped her feet, Jemima smiled and looked down at Asha's surface, as though with that single affectionate glance she could quell the Planet's turmoil.

  4. #54
    Count / Countess Tigers is offline Tigers's Avatar
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    Serena

    Serena was startled when Leigh answered for her parents. It may not have shown outwardly, but Serena chastised herself for the inward reaction. Her nerves where far more on edge than she had thought. She tucked a lose strand of her damp hair behind her ear as she gave Leigh her full attention. It was not surprising to hear that the two were probably already there. Alexis had quite the attentive group when it came to the protection of the planet.

    Asha as well as their goddess had become very dear to them all, and not for just the usual reasons. They were all aware of the types of beings that dwelt within the Bright Universe and how unforgiving and destructive many of them could be.

    Serena did not want to startle Leigh, they were already on edge from the reports from Alexis concerning the affairs of the Bright Universe. They would all be protected, if nothing happened to Alexis. What concerned Serena was Asha’s current state, she was just as much Alexis’ child as the rest of those that inhabited Asha.

    And Alexis’ naturally born children were already missing, if Asha lost her connection to Alexis…


    Serena didn’t want to think about it, but she was confident that the connection still existed just for the fact that they had felt Asha’s emotions. What they needed to do, was get to the bottom of her churning emotions. It could be anything and that was concerning enough. She took a breath and relaxed some. She needed a minute to compose herself as she gave Leigh a reassuring smile.

    “Then we’ll meet them all there.”

    It had not escaped her notice how Tristan and Lyria’s middle child was dressed. It threatened to broaden the smile on her face, despite Leigh’s fearful and insecure eyes. Her thoughts were interrupted by the scene that began to unfold between the two sisters. Serena had never had siblings, she was an only child, but it still made her secretly smile at the interaction.

    “I’m sure Asha will appreciate all the help Jemima.”

    “Your show of concern, both of you, is very admirable and very much like your parents. Let’s travel there together and give Asha our support.”


    Serena began to walk in the direction of the lake and Alexis’ cabin. Jemima was still young enough to not fully understand what was happening and Serena was grateful that the little one would be spared the anxiety and fear. Leigh on the other hand, she was aware enough that the fear shown in her eyes, but she was doing a wonderful job of keeping it in control.

    “You’re almost of age to begin training Leigh. Have you spoken to your parents about coming North for training in the mountains?”

    Perhaps the small talk would soothe Leigh’s worries and spark some excitement. There was no need for her to dwell on insecurities, so long as Tristan and Lyria agreed for her to leave home, she would be training as a guardian of Asha. Serena was not so sure that Leigh would be one of her charges, but she would be keeping a close eye on her, as she had Callum. Not that the older boy would ever know.

  5. #55
    Paladin Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Leigh and Jemima flashed matching grins at Serena's praise. They hadn't looked very much alike up until that point. The sisters quickly melted back into their own persons - Leigh with a tight-lipped determination and Jemima with a dainty lowering of her eyes and a soft smile. The older girl gathered her feet and practically ran to get up to where she could walk alongside Serena. It was almost as if the other centaur could read her mind. She looked up at Serena in surprise, clutching her bow to her chest.

    "I have not. I...I was not sure if it was my place to say as much. I mean, of course I want to go, I just didn't think it was up to me about the time."

    Truthfully, it was Leigh who was unsure. She felt the call to battle, but also felt like she wasn't quite ready to give up...what? Her home? All of Asha was home. Her family? They'd still be her family. What was it that held her back from running to the mountains on her own when her destiny was so clear?

    "When the time is right, you'll know." came Jemima's soothing voice from somewhere behind them. She got a snort from Leigh in return. All she needed was her little sister ruining her chances of studying with a great archer like Serena by suggesting it was her who wasn't ready to leave. Ridiculous.

    "Serena, how many students do you have?"

  6. #56
    Count / Countess Tigers is offline Tigers's Avatar
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    Whether Alexis was aware or not, her pace had picked up. She was no longer walking casual and the urgency that built within her had her practically running toward the lake. She was headed back to where her physical body had impacted upon Asha. Empathy was a powerful thing and Alexis had long ago learned how to tell the difference between her own feelings and those of others, but at this moment it was a jumbled mess of herself, Asha and the beings that had gathered near the lake.

    Her breathing came hard and it wasn’t until she became aware in her periphery that Oreina was matching her stride for stride. There was a sense of calm emanating from the other goddess that slowed Alexis down. Her neck breaking speed came to a near halt and realization dawned on her face.

    “I’m sorry. I’m okay.”

    Feeling the other’s anxiety had sparked it within herself and she was exacerbating the cycle. She nearly laughed out loud and the corner of her mouth quirked up into a small grin as she looked at her sister with understanding. Calm was needed in this situation and Oreina had been wise enough to communicate that without a word.

    Alexis turned toward the form that Asha would sometimes assume. The scared look within those almost ethereal eyes touched Alexis to the core of her being and she touched the side of Asha’s face lovingly.

    “I’m sorry. This has been trying on all of us and I have not helped the situation, but I’ll change that.”

    Asha was suddenly caught off guard by the embrace of her mother. And a loving feeling of calm and security emanated from the goddess to one of her first born. The reaction was instantaneous as the older looking of the two embraced her mother back, tears of many kinds flowing from her face. Alexis felt the fear, the uncertainty, and the shame pour of her child in waves. Determined not to continue to be a contributor and perpetuating the situation, she continued to send love and reassurance to her daughter.

    The whole planet began to permeate with a sense of relief that would be felt from the others on the planet, no matter where they were. To outside eyes, the whole scene would likely have looked utterly insane with this younger woman, all but a teenager in appearance comforting the much older looking figure that Asha had assumed.

    “I’m home now.” She said as she wiped the tears from Asha’s eyes.

    “I don’t know much about my past, my memory is so very short, but instinct is still very strong and I can feel with every ounce of me the fear coming from my first born.”

    It was not Alexis’ intentions, but along with the empathy, she would get flashes or snippets of memory from the others. And there was a momentary grip to her chest, as if someone had taken and squeezed her heart within her. Asha’s fear, bled through their touch and she could see the marked grave of William out along one of their favorite places to walk, overlooking the cabin and lake from a distance. William, a begin she could not remember, but felt a rush of emotions. William, the father of 4 of her 6 beautiful children. Her throat constricted, tight with the feelings of memories not known but felt.

    “I’m sorry you’ve had to carry this burden. This change in me has been hard on all of you. The frustration the emotions have been more a source from all of you. Someone you knew and loved has changed and I have no memory of it. It has not affected me, but it has affected all of you.”

    Alexis held Asha a quiet moment settling between them before Alexis spoke again.

    “It doesn’t matter if I regain my memories or not. Instinct alone draws me to all of you, it is a love I feel but do not remember. You are all safe for the moment, and I swear with every breath that I draw I will make sure that it remains that way. There will be time for me to deal with this feeling of William, but I must concentrate on the living. Let’s finish this journey, meet with the others and then we’ll find out together what must be done to repair what feels so wrong.”

    Alexis kissed the temple of the form that her first born had taken and turned to Oriena. There was a bemused look on her face as she looked at this being who she felt such a strong connection too. This female who had been her friend and family through thick and thin. She didn’t need the memories to tell her alone what her instinct already had.

    “And just so you know, I could feel that smile creeping up inside you long before it touched your lips.” Alexis teased with a mock glare.

    They crested the hill and came upon the site of those gathered by the large indention that Alexi had made when she had struck the surface of Asha. Quietly, she battled the feeling assaulting her as they walked toward the group. It was time to ease as many as she could, there was so much work to be done and they couldn’t afford to waste any more time.

  7. #57
    Count / Countess Tigers is offline Tigers's Avatar
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    Serena

    Serena studied the girls, their mannerisms, and how very different and yet how very much alike they were. She was sure that the smile she had on the inside every time she regarded the two younger centaurs would give her away outwardly. They were too precious in her eyes, but how could they not be. Despite the earlier turbulence between her father and Tristan, Lyria and Tristan had been in her life from the day of her own birth.

    It seemed so long ago, when she had found her mother alive and since her return, things had gone back to the way they were when she was younger. Thinking about it, they were much better now that Lyria and Tristan had their children. There was more happiness to spread around and to share. Her mother’s return had helped to mend bridges and her father to swallow his pride and let go of blaming others for his pain. He was lucky that Tristan and Lyria were so forgiving, his actions those many years ago had been horrible.

    They were more than friends, they were family and the girls even with their age differences seemed more like nieces than cousins. It had been odd, because Lyria had been more like a surrogate mother to her than a sister, and her children seemed closer in her heart than just cousins.

    She watched the exchange between the two with amusement. Jemima was wise for her age and she had her mother’s softness. Callum was definitely his father’s son and Leigh, she was a wonderful mixture of both her parents. Serena wondered if that was why she was so unsure of herself sometimes. It was possible that because she was such a mix of the two, that she didn’t see it because she was too focused on being more like one or the other. Maybe this was a result of having siblings, as an only child herself, that was something that Serena would never understand.

    Despite herself, she turned her head at Jemima’s wise comment to her sister and smiled, giving the younger girl a wink before turning her head back to their path. Her mind was on boosting Leigh’s confidence by allaying her uncertainties when she asked her a question.


    “There are 40, 4 squads consisting of 9 archers and a leader for each squad."

    Serena regarded Leigh’s dress again, looking upon her quiver of arrows her bow and the short sword at her side.

    “You know Leigh, it wasn’t until I had been returned here with my mother that I finally knew what I wanted to be. For so long, I had only cared about trying to wish my mother back alive when we thought she was dead. It was all I could think of, outside of our families being whole again. We’re all different, don’t develop the habit of comparing yourself to others. There’s only one you.”

    She clasped a gentle hand on Leigh’s shoulder and smiled.

    “Besides, you never know where your journey will lead you. Sometimes we think we know and the hesitation might be that our gut is telling us to wait because something more important is around the corner.”

    She regarded both girls again.

    “You know your mother could easily lead this platoon, she is very talented with the bow herself, but if she had gone another path, we would never have had the valuable healer we do. And I don’t think my mother would have healed as well as she had if it hadn’t been for your mother.”

    They were not far from their destination, Lyria and Tristan did not live far from the lake or Alexis’ cabin. Back in the day, they had often been to Alexis’ house to visit, there was not a being alive that Serena was aware of that the goddess would not welcome with open arms. Asha was here because of Alexis and the rest of them were here because of Asha. It was not something that Serena had thought about until she had joined the planet’s defensive force.

    Her mind had wandered back to the last gathering of the clans. All four regions coming together to share their goods, their stories and their lives with their kin. She remembered her first encounter with those Centaurs of the sea, her distant brethren that could be on both land and in the water. She had been so amazed. Just as amazed at the versatility of her platoon. She had members from each of the clans there, representing not only their kin and kinsman, but Asha and their goddess.

    Wouldn’t Leigh be surprised at what she would see when she finally came to train. But those thoughts were interrupted by the wave of emotions coming from the planet, and it reminded Serena of why her body still ached from her dash across the planet looking for Mouse. She pivoted on her haunches and scooped Jemima up and nodded to Leigh.

    “Sorry kiddo, we don’t leave anyone behind and we need to pick up the speed.” She said giving the youngest a reassuring smile and nodding to Leigh.

    Instinct, they all had it naturally, but here on Asha, they were all taught to hone that instinct to a fine point. Asha herself would be one of the first warning signs that there was trouble, so you learned to feel and to listen. And for the younger girls, and the uncertainty of so many things lately, Serena wanted to head off the fear as much as possible.

    The duo galloped ahead with Jemima tucked safely in Serena’s arms, past the trees, along the creek bed and up the path that lead to the lake. It wasn’t until they crested the hill that Serena sat on her haunches and came to a halt within feet of who they would quickly come to realize was Alexis herself. Jemima was set down next to Serena in one smooth motion as if they had practiced this move thousands of times. Serena quickly found her legs and bowed with one knee to the ground.

    When she looked up, she quickly noticed that the rest gathered had followed suit. What she felt and what she saw contradicted themselves, but thankfully, instinct was natural and she always followed her instinct. Oreina’s presence helped to ease the strange situation, for she knew that the other goddess was as close as a sister and she would never allow an imposture to parade around as Alexis.

    “Goddess?” Serena finally managed to say.



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