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  1. #101
    The Ailes Bones... To the Southwest: Dragon Scale Island





    Sacha, The Shepherd of Souls and Aramil of Sahil, his Advisor



    The small, crescent-shaped island was quiet when they arrived in a most violent manner. It was not peaceful there. They landed upon a driftwood-strewn shore of rocks that had been battered and abused by the ocean into the smooth, egg-shaped cobble they were. The island trembled. All of the Ailes did. There was an odd darkness that had overtaken this island, so close to what had once been the bright, green jewel of the Ailes. Capios was smothered and dying and the surrounding islands, connected by something older than space or time, knew what would come next. It was as close to afraid as the Ailes could get, being only old islands. The tearing between realities was an odd sound amid the waves that crashed on the eastern side of the island. The waves were harsher than the usual low tide brought. A battle raged on Capios, and it was felt in the water and transcribed on the beach in natural morse code. Their bodies hit the sand, first the arrowed-end of a staff carried by a scratched, pale hand and a ripped sleeve of the deepest, dark blue. Then, like an animal at birth, the rest of the hand's body rolled forth and spilled unmoving into the wet sand and tide pools. It dragged a twin with it, another body by a tether of white light that roped from one hand to another. The second came and dropped to the sand. Driftwood pieces rolled and scattered. Some were as large as small trees and were not quite so easily disturbed. Both men were battered, scratched and bleeding as if they has swam through an ocean of mountain bramble and dragonclaw briar to get here. There was an echo behind them, a rush of ethereal wind and wailing and unearthly screaming that made the land shiver. Then the tear between realms sealed itself, having no such business being open, and the only unnatural sound on the island was the thudding of a blue, twisted Shepherd's Crook as it left the hand of the much paler man and thudded to the sand.

    The pale man sighed as if in relief and then went still. His hand twitched in one last effort to grab for the blue hooked instrument nearby and then too went limp. In the tide pool, the blood rune that bound Sacha and Aramil together was washed away. The Soul energy used to tether them together dissipated and then disappeared altogether when the marking was broken.

    For a moment, all was still. Then the man clearly not from the West stirred and coughed and pushed himself up from the sand that was wetter than any sand he was used to. Instinctively, he ran a hand across his beard and face to clear it from his hair and skin. He had claw marks across his arms, his neck and face. There was a gash-wound at his temple. His brown eyes looked around, disoriented.

    "Shepherd."

    His dark, brown eyes went wide at the sight of the Shepherd of Souls lying unmoving in the went sand and water. He was beside, falling to his knees as much as he was dropping to them, within seconds. His damaged hands grabbed the white-haired man by the shoulders and rolled him over onto his back.

    "Sacha" Aramil shook Sacha's shoulder roughly. The man was scored with claw marks all over his body. A large gash ran lengthwise across his chest. It stained the dark shirt he wore beneath his robes. It ran lengthwise across his back, an exact mimic of the front. It was a slash to his Soul rendered visible once they returned to the living world. A consequence of his abilities in a Realm that was extremely troubled. Aramil took a moment to check Sacha's body for further grievous injury. The man had done his best to protect the Shepherd, but it was the Shepherd who ended up protecting him. Him, a loyal Advisor. He had seen Sacha move, when he practiced with staffs and his Hook, but not like that. What he saw of him in the Realm of Spirits made him think back to when he would see boys or men being trained to fight in the arenas for sport. The ruthlessness, the sole desire to survive placed perfectly into every move. Another time, he might have asked the Shepherd of Souls about it. Another time.

    Aramil closed his eyes and placed his fingertips on Sacha's face. He splayed them open, thumb on one cheek, pinky on the other. The man from Da'Jinn closed his eyes.

    With a gasp, Sacha's blue eyes flung open and he jolted upright. Aramil swiftly removed his hand and exchanged it for a hand to steady the Shepherd at his back. Sacha's eyes were wide. His hand had come up to fight whatever ghoulish entities tried to keep him from crossing the Spirit World to get to the Ailes. His other hand had dug into the wet sand and grabbed the hilt of his Crook. Aramil's hand on his back steadied him. He knew a hand of the living versus one of the dead. He breathed heavily and brought a hand to his chest. He drew it away and looked at the blood on his palm. Then Sacha closed his eyes and breathed in relief. Aramil waited a moment and kept his hand at Sacha's back.

    "Advise your Advisor" he pleaded gently in his low, accented voice. "What can be done?"

    But the Shepherd of Souls shook his head. He took another moment to catch his breath.

    "How close did we get?"

    Aramil pursed his lips and then bobbed his head from side to side. He lifted one hand, palm up, in Eastern fashion and then gestured toward Capios to the north.

    "Oh" he said as if truly contemplating the distance. "I would say you got us close enough."

    Sacha opened his eyes and they went wide. Before him, past the hills of the southern side of the great island, he saw the protective dome of Capios begin to crack and then fall. All this travel through the tempestuous Spirit Realm was done to avoid the complications of passing through the dome. A dome, he was told by other Priests, could not fall. It was one reason Maginus did not invade Enchantry to gain back the wild Ailes. One, though he suspected that was just preening and talk. Now shards of it began to fall, and the only reason he could see it was because the ichor parted and watched the destruction before savagely descending down to reek their own.
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  2. #102
    Southern Rekōdo in the Shamaa Province: Siochana... The Capital City



    Zarena, a Dream Speaker and the Maloto Tribe


    True to her word, for the word of a Shamaa was a powerful promise, Zarena and her tribe were ready within the hour and approached the clearing as Branwen came forth. There were many of the Maloto, but not enough to destroy the Nightmare beasts that attacked the Enchantry Guild. They would be garbed akin to all their Shamaa brothers and sisters with skins and war paints and weaponry. The Maloto all carried Dream Staffs, carved of lacquered branches from the Tiarna Woods and inscribed with runes Feathers and beats were wrapped around them, the same as they wore somewhere on their person. They were not warriors as the other Shamaa were, and were much more lithe in comparison and said to be descendants of fabled nymphs from the Tiarna Wood itself. The paint they wore was their typical light blue that marked them for who they are. Now, they also wore paint that white and mixed blues of every hue. The white paint was for the Dreamspeakers. Those who could walk in the World of Dreams and use Dream energy to heal or cure, to foresee and predict.

    But, today, they were warriors. They came with their staffs and their bows and arrows, things tipped with Dream runes that were capable of helping them channel Dream energy. There was a hum to their presence, faint, but felt as one would feel the grass beneath their feet. Zarena stood at their front, paints across her face and arms and down her legs. A satchel of arrows was at her back and a bow that faded from white to an earthen brown. Her staff was in her hand. The look in her eyes was fierce. They were the tribe to combat nightmares, dark energy that poisoned the mind, the spirit, the soul. They were not afraid. Zarena brought a fist to her heart. Her tribe did the same to Branwen, their Acting Guild Mistress.

    Zarena stepped forward. She had a small amount of paint upon two of her fingertips. She observed the markings upon Branwen's body and studied them with careful memory. Each color stood for something. Each mark held meaning. Zarena meant to add to that meaning. With infinite gentleness, she took Branwen's hand. First one, then the other and made two lines with her two fingers, from her wrist and down her two middle fingers. On one hand, then the other. Those were the markings upon her, but they ran from her shoulders down to her fingertips. The lines connected and went all over her body. She had given Branwen Dream Paint, a little bit of Dream energy for her to use as needed. Each of the Maloto carried a tiny pot and already had their two fingers dipped within. They endowed each warrior on one hand with Dream Paint and with it a small amount of Dream Energy.

    And, if the Taroc Commander were willing, the same gift would be given to her. They would walk through the portal, to wherever the Acting Master of Taroc had asked of them, and they would defend as they had done for hundreds of years.

    "For Rekōdo" Zarena whispered strongly. Then she went back to her tribe and bowed her head to Branwen. It was time.

  3. #103
    Count / Countess Tigers is offline Tigers's Avatar
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    KALI &
    Vucan

    The multiple copies of Vukan that surrounded the young females moved as they moved, almost as if it were an extension of themselves and not the dragon. Hearts thrummed within chests, fear permeated the air and although an ass through the perception of others, the dragon almost pitied these creatures. But like his brethren, Vukan was reptilian, what others would consider cold in all ways by nature. But wasn’t that just it, he was a predator, reptilian, where in nature did they ever need nurturing?

    Reptiles were born without the need for nurturing, from the very moment they hatch. It is survival of the fittest. These warm mammalians, they need nurturing from the beginning to survive. Somewhere, some of these creatures are lied too, deluded about their true selves. Too much knowledge, knowledge they do not know how to deal with. The fear left a tang in his mouth, a primal urge that drove predator to prey. Vucan’s scales itched uncomfortably at the thought of being tied to this fear that all these creatures felt. What an unpleasant feeling it had to be.

    The ground began to rumble and the nightmares while causing fear in the others only raised the predatory nature of Vucan. These were his charges, they belonged to him and an uninvited guest had dared to enter his domain and take what was his? The shaking of the ground did not affect him, but it did signal that these poor creatures fight for survival was upon them.

    He listened to the one that wielded the white light, Laelis. She, he could smell was preparing for her death. She should be proud, not many of her kind would bravely go out to their deaths. She was loyal, and she had compassion, but females were too emotional. It was that emotion that many times caused needless pain and in some cases death.


    “As you wish young shepherdess. But do not despair what may or may not happen, an ending only brings about a new beginning. This would not be an end to you, only a new beginning.”

    “Stay as close to me as you can, dragons do not fear, I will extend that feeling to you and the others as we lead them to safety.” Vucan replied with a matter of fact tone.

    As the dome cracked, and shards began to rain down on the city, Vucan ran beside Laelis. He uttered a few unintelligible sounds and several of the shards changed into flying dragons. As much as he wished to vanquish the drama and call it a day, he could not interfere with the gods of this realm. He could only aide Kali, and through Kali her people. Arrogant as he was, he would not step into the roles of a god or goddess to change the outcome if this was a punishment. Instead, he would do as he could within the limits.

    Dragonlings of all shapes and sizes began to swarm around the djinn. They would help deter and slow down the nightmares until they themselves were overwhelmed. Until then, as glass shards fell, they transformed into dragonlings, even the shattered shards from the djinn striking the bigger pieces formed into dragons. As long as the dome continued to fall, new dragonlings would form.

    “They will feast upon the nightmares, it will buy your people a little more time to reach safety. And while they yet fly in numbers in the sky, they will help to keep terror from the hearts of your people. It will not last forever, the nightmare numbers far outweigh our own.” Vucan replied through telepathy to Kali and her sisters.


    *********************


    The earth trembled and a few of the women wailed, they could not help it. The crack of the dome sent Kali toward the sky, and words poured forth from her mouth even as her sword struck at the shards of the dome.

    “De tutela draconis!” She yelled.

    A giant dragon formed over the pillars under her protection as shards of glass struck the dragon, bouncing off its scales into smaller dragons from Vucan’s spell. Wings came up and shielded the pillars, the dragon dissipating as the smoke and debris from the collapse cleared and opened to the chill of the night air.

    “KAI! BLAS!” Kali yelled out at the two dragons as they each sought to protect the other pillars with their dragon magic.

    As the last of the dome collapsed, Kali was caught off guard at the sudden silence. All around her, women and civilians were fleeing, following the route to the caverns, sisters that were organized to protect the bearers of light all stopped and looked towards the sky. It was a macabre scene, already bodies lay on the ground, taken by the few Nightmare’s that had gotten in just before the collapse of the dome. Their beautiful home was alight with destruction, death and fire.

    A growing rage filled her heart as she slowly turned to face the horde. Blood trickled in small streams down her face and body that was not covered in dragon scale. A roar not unlike a dragon’s tore through her throat.

    “SHOW NO FEAR!”

    A burst of her anger and fearlessness burst out of her like an exploding star in all directions. Whether it affected anyone else, it was not known, and if so how long the affect would last was uncertain. The only thing for sure was the onslaught of the Nightmare horde that Kali would meet head on.
    Last edited by Tigers; 12-11-2017 at 09:45 AM.
    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

  4. #104
    The Great Orange One Qwaring's clone#1 is online now Qwaring's clone#1's Avatar
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    Commander Colina Weir



    Southern Rekōdo in the Shamaa Province: Siochana... The Capital City


    Conila had originally arrived at the meeting ready for combat. She had not been given time to change out of the armor she wore while helping to keep Shamaa borders safe from bandits. Without any need to further prepare her armor and weapons, she spends her time making calls.

    She makes her report to her superiors in Taroc. However, when it comes time to request permission to join the Shamaa on their mission, as protocol requires her to do, Colina simply informs her superiors that she will be accompanying them. Her tone lets them know there are no orders or protocol that will keep her from lending aid to their Shamaa allies.

    Once her report is made, Colina contacts her cousin, who is a mystic with the Taroc military. Colina calls with a specific request in mind. At first there is some resistance to Colina's request, but eventually her cousin is persuaded. Her cousin portals over the wooden box that Colina asks for. The box contains dozens of mystically charged necklaces. The necklace is a thin ring of silver hanging on a silk thread.

    Once she has the box in her possession, Colina rushes off to the clearing Branwen had spoken of.

    As Branwen and Zarena arrive at the clearing, they will see Colina is already there, with her box of necklaces. She is handing these necklaces out to everyone that enters the clearing. Each ring resonates with the song of the stars. Taroc mystics believe such an energy frequency will make it harder for Nightmare beasts to detect the fear and pain they crave so very much. It's a belief that has never been tested, as Alain never allowed his mystics to test Nalia like a laboratory animal. Even if such a necklace does work, there's no telling how effective they will be. Colina only hopes these necklaces will give her allies any kind of advantage in these dark times.

    Some of the brave Shamaa warriors insist that they have no fear for those dark beasts to smell. Colina informs them that there will be civilians that are not so fearless, and will need these necklaces given to them. After considering that idea, these proud warriors usually take the offered trinket without any further objections.

    When the Maloto offer to paint their marking on her hands, Colina removes her gloves and allows them to perform their task. After waiting for the paint to dry, Colina puts her gloves back on. The glow of the dream paint shines faintly through the gloves.

    Once the last of the necklaces have been handed out, Colina takes her place by Zarena and other members of the Maloto tribe. There weren't enough necklaces for everyone, Colina's cousin only had access to so many of these charms. Colina gave them all away and didn't keep any for herself. She'll happily rely on her pistol, the rifle slung over her back, and the plates of enchanted armor she wears.

    She unslings her rifle from her back and holds the weapon ready. It's a modified heavy rifle. At one point it may have been manufactured to fire heavy caliber bullets to take down large animals, but Colina has had it altered to accept Taroc elemental bullets. Once properly armed, Colina stands ready to charge off and follow the Shamaa into the fight against the dark horrors that threaten the peace and safety of her world.

  5. #105
    The Great Orange One Qwaring's clone#1 is online now Qwaring's clone#1's Avatar
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    Alain LeCavalier




    Once, while a sick and dying Harbin and a teenaged Alain lived in Clow city, Alain stood over his grandfather's bed, watching the old warrior sleep. What had once been one of the mightiest champions of Taroc had been reduced to a feeble shell of a man. His illness had hollowed him out. Only trembling and wheezing remained.

    A pistol is placed into Alain's hand. He looks to the one that has gifted him with this weapon.


    "Put the fool out of his misery," Darmon tells teenaged Alain. "Do it and I will help you to become Guild Master."

    Teenage Alain raises the gun and aims at Harbin. The sick, old man is awake and sobbing as he looks pitifully at his grandson. His weak, miserable eyes plead for mercy. Alain pulls the trigger and-

    "NO!" Alain shouts, and his instincts activates his flight harness and sends him sailing back away from the real Darmon and his Nightmares. That wasn't real. Didn't happen. Couldn't.

    Alain's bloodied eyes struggle to focus on the vision of Nalia. She's telling him that he's being such a fool. He feels foolish. Feels terrible. They're inside of him now. In his body and mind. Twisting at his memories. Soon, only trembling and wheezing will remain.


    ~She's not real,~ Clow tells his host. There's some comfort in having the old spirit's voice in his mind. Alain feels like it's been ages since they've spoken. ~The Nightmares are inside of your mind, Alain. But don't worry, I have a plan. Take that gun of yours and shoot them out.~

    ~What?~ Alain asks. He backs away even further from the vision of Nalia. What is Clow talking about? Shoot Nightmares in his head?

    ~Point the gun at your head and shoot. Don't worry, I'll take care of the rest. Trust me, Alain.~

    Not Clow! It's the Nightmares. Turning his mind and body against him. Attacking him with illness and hallucinations. Robbing him of every shred of reality that they can sink their teeth into. If Clow was here, really here, he could use his power to burn out the infection. He's not here. Now Alain is in the middle of a fight he can't predict or even trust himself to properly see.

    The Nightmares will smell it first. Fear. The one thing no iteration of this enemy has ever shown them. Alain is not afraid of dying. He's not even terrified of the torment these beasts will inflict upon him. He's afraid of losing this fight and failing to protect his loved ones. Nalia's right- no,this isn't the real Nalia- he can't do the right thing here. His only hope is doing the wrong thing.

    He turns and Alain flies from his enemy. His flight is unsteady and slowed. Either his flight harness is suffering from the infection, or Alain's fevered mind can't conjure the focus needed to make his escape a graceful one. He flees north. Towards the mists blanketing the many small islands in the area. Mists and wild magic that, if he can reach them, he hopes can make him harder to detect. Unfortunately, his blood and fear will be a beacon to Darmon and the beasts he commands.

  6. #106
    The Great Orange One Qwaring's clone#1 is online now Qwaring's clone#1's Avatar
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    Lieutenant Lydmila Pavlich, Eliona, Commander Filip Ryth & Doctor Doraen



    Alain's Secret Fortress, The Seas South of Capios...


    Oily horrors pour and slither in through the break of mystical barriers. They race towards the gathering of would-be champions. A trio of storm pistols are aimed and open fire. Elemental power is shot into the oncoming mass of unspeakable horrors. Light explodes into the approaching darkness. Fluidic horrors are evaporated. Other dark things are revealed in the bursts of light and destruction.

    There's too many.

    The Taroc soldiers fall back deeper into the tangle of architecture in the center of the roof. More symbols of mystical protection light up as the Nightmares pour themselves deeper into the orchard of gothic stonework. These glyphs repel and slow the beasts.

    More gunfire is directed at the cloud of beasts that now seem to surround them. More explosions of light. Their attacks of lightning, fire, and starlight fails to reveal an end to these beasts. They are everywhere, and without end.

    The darkness reaches out through a gap in the glyphs and tries to slice through Ryth. Eliona steps forward and swings her silver sword at the tendril of terror. The blade of her weapon glows with pure white light. The tendril boils and disintegrates into the memory of ash. The beasts all around them shriek in pain and outrage. Their world is a chorus of shrieking, hissing monsters. They hate that light. Hate it more than the lightning, or fire, or starlight. These four souls will suffer untold agonies for inflicting this wretched light upon them.

    The three Taroc warriors are firing in every direction. Eliona is swinging her sword out into the screaming darkness. All of them are huddled together, facing the ocean of horror that presses down upon them. There seems to be no end to this. Every beast that gets destroyed only reveals the form of a dozen others flowing through the endless night.


    "Eliona!" a voice cries out from the darkness. "Help! Please! Save me!"

    Eliona looks towards the screaming voice. It's Gustella! She's alive! Eliona can see her sister floating in the darkness!

    Eliona steps away from the others. She has to save her sister. The Grimal beasts left no body. No one saw Gustella die. She could have been captured by the monsters. Maybe the Grimal and these Nightmares are-

    Dorean reaches out and takes hold of Eliona's forearm, and tries to pull her back towards the group. She turns towards the doctor, wanting to plead with him, and beg him to help her save Gustella. She looks at Doraen as a pack of shapeless Nightmares pounce upon him. His hand slips off of her arm as the beasts knock him to the ground.

    More Nightmares pour onto the fallen doctor. Soon he is gone, lost to the darkness.

    Eliona screams and charges at the darkness. Her sword blazes with the light of life. She swings her brilliant sword at the pack of monsters, burning and destroying them. No matter how far she digs into the beasts she doesn't see Doraen. He's gone. They've lost him.

    Eliona is pulled away from the mass of beasts, this time it's Ryth. He wraps and arm around her and lifts her away from the pack of beasts, removing her from the path of another group of Nightmares that were going to tear into the Astral woman. Ryth moved Eliona out of harms way, but now there's at least a dozen Nightmares between Lydmila and her comrades.

    Ryth looks to Lydmila. The woman is absolutely calm. Surrounded by Nightmares screaming, hissing, and rushing towards her on all sides. She drops her pistol and unslings her rifle from her back. She takes hold of her sniper rifle and aims it towards Ryth. She fires and hits the floor beneath Ryth.

    The roof of the fortress parts open beneath Ryth and Eliona. The two of them drop into the fortress. The ocean of Nightmares pour in towards them, seeking to tear them apart, but the dark fiends slam into another set of defensive runes. These glowing symbols of mystical might defend the interior of the fortress, and provide the Nightmares one more layer of protection to bash their way through in their efforts to kill every protector this world has to offer.

    Ryth and Eliona fall into a hall within the fortress. It's only them. Alain is off battling the source of this horror. Doraen is lost to the darkness. And Lydmila is alone with those terrifying monsters on the roof.

  7. #107
    Faraking Island of Taroc in Far Western Rekōdo: The Floating Heli'Dom

    Nalia.jpg

    Arion, Acting Guild Master of Taroc, Pasce, Princess of Rekōdo and Nalia of Enchantry


    He hears her move before he can react. The sound of her Soul Song shifted just slightly, but how unnaturally fast she moved only gave him time to flinch backward as if preparing to be dealt a blow. He blinked and she'd stroked his cheek with her thumb. She'd left behind something warm. Arion inhaled as he blinked and his eyes went wide. Blood.

    Arion stepped back and lifted his hand to feel his cheek, but stopped. He heard voices, echoes of Soul Songs he knew, some he did not. But they got louder and before his eyes a curtain parted with a vast symphony. It played effortlessly, fluidly moving from one Soul Song to the next. The music became a backdrop for the life story that played out before his eyes. Tragedy. Her life was tragedy. Even as the LeCavalier Clan came and- oh Gods, Harbin. Alain's Harbin- he knew the fate of those men. Alain had told him tales of Harbin and, solemnly and sometimes after they'd had too much to drink or on lonely nights when something unspoken bothered the Guild Master, he talked of the latter years of Harbin's life.

    How old was this memory? How old was she truly? Arion's mind tried to complete the math, but the story unfolding would not allow him to deviate. He could not even if he had wanted to. She'd saved them. She'd saved the LeCavaliers. She'd saved Harbin.

    Her life was tragedy. The Ailes were tragedy. He did not know how he knew that, but something about those lonely, misty islands always banged against Arion's heart with w battering-ram of sadness. Even after Nalia had made Enchantry, he'd spent very little time there. The Ailes were tragedy. He could feel it, and now he saw it claim another tally to that score.

    There were more of Maginus hiding in Taroc than she might know. Arion could hear them. Their Songs were scared, hiding, afraid of being discovered for who they truly were. He hears happiness, sees her love, feels it beating within his own breast, but amongst the orchestra is a dark backdrop of sound that encroaches upon the joy. The Great War. He knows what is coming. He knows the horrors, the stories, the pieces of Soul Song he's had to extract from those who could not cope with the memories and the nightmares. But he was not prepared for the sight of the man he loved- no the man Olivia loved- staring lifelessly at him. His own death was coming. Too slowly. Why wouldn't it come faster? There was no more light in his eyes. He couldn't move. He was forced to stare at the corpse of his- her- husband. He cannot take it. His heart is going to break-

    She's a clever one.

    She's disguised herself in the most ingenius way and she's found Alain. She is Taroc's greatest spy. She is exacting vengeance upon Maginus for the tragedy they inflicted upon her. She is a weapon. Harbin- no, not Harbin- Alain. They both change. they both survive. There is a streak blood on Alain's cheek.

    Alain's words make Arion smile. He almost laughs. They laughed. Laughter heals the Soul.

    Arion understands why there are so many bodies. He understands the Soul not being attached to any one body outside that of her late husband. They have uses. He understands that much. He has so many more questions now, but he understands that much.

    He blinked and she'd put a smear of her own blood upon his cheek. He blinked and he saw a lifetime of her memories, had lived a part of her life beside her, with her, as her. He blinked and she was speaking to him again, of plans for the dying Princess of Rekōdo. His mind is swimming frantically, being pulled forward by the current of reality but lagging behind in the sounds and feeling of her life that she'd shared with him.

    Dutifully, the Princess had finished her tea and set the cup and saucer down gently on a nearby table. Arion is breathing rapidly, like someone who'd recently come up from nearly drowning. His crimson eyes swim through the tangles of memories- not his- and reality to find the woman speaking to him. Verona would feel Arion seek her out mentally and try to grab onto to something stable, something he knew and loved and could trust. He wrapped his mind around what Olivia told him of her plan.

    He looked out beyond the Heli'Dom at where the faint, green brightness of Enchantry should be, but wasn't. Olivia's words resonated within Arion's core. Those Spirits need to be set free.

    "What can I do?" he asked gently. His eyes were on Capios. So he was startled slightly when he looked back and the Princess was standing. She held before her two onyx lamps. Scratched through the onyx surface were two golden symbols, ones which he recognized instantly. The Princess's sea green eyes were on him and whatever he had prepared to say about the lamps crumbled under her gaze.

    "I will leave the complications of the ritual to Olivia" the Princess said quietly as she reflected on what would be done. Her eyes moved down to the preparations already made, and then moved back to Arion, where they remained. She breathed in deeply, as if mentally preparing herself for this, while reconciling what needed to be done before she would go into a Realm where she might not return.

    "Acting Master of Taroc" she said in a voice that was both quiet and commanding.
    "These lamps contained the Masters of Shamaa and Astral. Within the Masters are their Ancestral Spirits. All are bound to the servitude of the lamp and all that entails. J'Adonai of Da'Jinn and Arxus of Maginus have helped me in finding a way to free them of their bonds."

    Pasce dropped her hands and the lamps remained hovering before her. The sash she had used to tie them to her waist was removed and held before her with an uplifted hand. Her other came to her face. Two fingertips touched her face between her eyebrows. Her eyes closed but tinted her face with the glow of Da'Jinn power from beneath her eyelashes. She opened her eyes and drew back her head as orange light was pulled from her glowing eyes and her mouth. The orange sphere of shifting and moving Da'Jin runes came with the hand that pulled it away and floated obediently with it. The Princess inhaled deeply as if breathing life air for the very first time. Then, gently she blew on the ball of script. It spiraled and un-spun itself like a rolling ball of yarn onto the shawl before her. The script from the Da'Jinn text floated onto the shawl draped in her other hand and became as thread stitched onto the cloth. She used it to tie the lamps together and then sent it off to Arion.

    "Mindoka is to be delivered to Branwen of Shamaa, Herotus to Alain of Taroc. If neither survive this, then they are in your care, Master Arion. I place you in charge of their safety and eventual freedom. Guard them until the time comes when they can be delivered to their wards or released from their servitude."

    Arion's hands lifted and gently accepted the valuable souls within the lamps. He looked from the lamps to the Princess and bowed his head.

    "As you asked, i' shall be done, 'ighness."

    Pasce exhaled and her shoulders sagged slightly. She nodded tiredly to the tall Second of Taroc. Then, she slowly sat back down in her chair. She tried her best to sit up straight, but she seemed to have wilted slightly. Her breathing came slowly and so, so tiredly. Arion tied the lamps to his waist. The Princess looked to Olivia. Arion, too, looked to Olivia but with a far different look than the Princess's waning strength. He repeated his question.

    "Wha' do you ask of me, Agen' of Taroc?"

    Beside Verona, Nalia had begun to tremble as if cold. She'd sipped her Siadharri tea, but her cup rattled as she tried to bring it to her lips. Eventually, she put it down. She felt a knot of cold growing inside her, something not even the tea could warm. It chilled her from within her core. Nalia placed a hand on her forehead. She felt as if her head were splitting apart.

    Then, from afar, came the sound of cracking. It would be a rare sound made if icebergs detached and floated down from the far north: The sound of massive mounds of ice colliding and cracking and breaking apart. But it was not ice. The sound was far lighter, like glass. Nalia used one hand to pull her cloak tighter about herself. Her lips shivered lightly.

    "I'm cold" she whispered to Verona.

    Nalia turned to look in the direction of Capios. Her emerald eyes were wide and stricken with unvoiced horror. Her shivering grew worse as she tried to remain still and listen.

    "No" she begged the dome she'd woven over her island home. "Not yet."

    The cracking grew louder, though it was oddly muffled under the canopy of Nightmares around it. Then a heavy stillness overtook the air, where not even the cold, snowy winds blew. Everything grew still. Even the blanket of darkness could not fully dilute the sounds of the dome of Enchantry as it began to shatter and fail.

  8. #108
    Count / Countess Tigers is offline Tigers's Avatar
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    Branwen


    When Branwen had come to the clearing, Commander Weir was already waiting, and Zarena and the Maloto Tribe approached at the same time she did. Scattered pieces coming to form a whole, her mind thought as they all came together again in one spot. As Commander Weir handed out the necklaces, Branwen wasted no time in opening the watery portal. The refreshing energy washed over them all as they quickly gathered one final time before battle. The portal began to glow and hum in sync with the spiritual vibrations coming from the Maloto as Zarena came toward Branwen.

    With such a gentle touch, how could anyone refuse to offer their hand? The acting Guild Mistress watched in fascination as the spiritual paint was applied from wrist to middle finger on each hand. It hummed just like the entire gathered group of Dream Speakers. And like a final piece of a puzzle, the stones on her gorget, bracers and the paint on her arms flared with brightness. Her whole body was buzzing with supernatural energy.

    Branwen returned the bow with thanks to Zarena and then turned and thanked Commander Weir for the gifts of the necklaces for the civilians and people of Enchantry.


    “I am honored to go to battle with such brave and noble people. Each of you not only honors Shamaa and Taroc, but all the people of Rekōdo.”

    “Fight bravely, and with honor. May the gods bless us this day.”


    Branwen took up her staff, her blade secured within its scabbard on her back as she walked through the portal to the Dragon Scale Island. They were walking into the unknown, they would only have a vague idea on what awaited them on the other side.

  9. #109
    Count / Countess Tigers is offline Tigers's Avatar
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    Sari & Ráichéal of Haven, Nicolette of Palios, Kiyoko of Rekōdo, Eilwen of Eloruh, Dominika of Krig


    When the dome cracked, and began to fall, the sounds of fear were drowned out by the sudden burst of magic. Ráichéal’s voice broke above the noise like a whisper and drew the wide-eyed Sari’s face toward her. She just nodded at her older sister and poured her concentration into the pillar. They were better protected than those not around the pillars, at least for the moment.

    Eilwen quickly added to Dyani’s strength of protection around the pillar as her animal spirit’s roar reverberated in a blue shock wave into the pillar and straight up into the existing barrier. Like little soldier’s each animal spirit present built upon the strength of another to fortify each of the pillars. Eilewen’s eyes took on an almost glacial color as they swept around the area, searching for weaknesses that needed strengthened.

    Sari & Ráichéal kept their eyes on the pillar and each other as they poured white light in a constant stream. Fiery blurs of color were seen out the corners of their eyes as Blas and Kai bounced around to where they were needed most. Each pass of the dragon’s giving the women a touch of the fearlessness of the dragon.

    Nicolette, Kiyoko, and Dominika took up watchful posts around the pillar ready to move at a moment’s notice. When the dome finally come down and the noise and debris cleared the air, silence permeated the area. Many women of Enchantry would feel the prickles of the hairs on the back of the neck and arms begin to rise as the sight of the horde just above them.

    The only activity came from the dragons and dragonlings as they circled the area protectively, waiting for their prey to enter their domain. Almost in unison, the women’s weapons flared brighter with the spells and enchantments. It was the breath between life and death and they were waiting for the exhale.

  10. #110
    Between Windf'rte and Capios... Waiting


    Darmon_Returned.jpg

    Darmon, The Returned



    The island was covered in fog. It was very difficult to see and the skinny, dark-skinned trees that sparsely dotted the island seemed more like fine hairs of a troll's neck than a forest. The island inclined steeply after they left the beach, and was covered with fresh, wet snow that crunched beneath their boots as they hiked in silence to the island's center. Normally, such a long silence would be awkward for a traveling pair, but for Darmon- and for his young protege it seemed- the silence was a perfect fit for the both of them. He occasionally looked to the girl behind him, but she walked with her head down. Only occasionally did he catch her looking to the side to stare long at the seemingly endless fog and jagged, bare trees. She seemed to have little interest in sparking up a relation with him through annoying banter and that suited him just fine.

    Where she was going, she would not need words.

    After a short, brisk march through the snow, the roughly, barely visible path began to take a more defined shape. Dirt paths became mixed with stone that then became stairs that guided them upward into the branches of of pine and naked deciduous. The path became more tightly wound, as if they were traveling the outside of a castle spire. The trees suddenly disappeared and they came from the mist onto a circular pool with pillars carved out of the remaining rock. The stairs ended at the dais of stone that were the highest point of the island. From its vantage point, the tops of the Great Swells that met the Sea of Serpens could be seen in the distance. In the summer, with full foliage, this place would be entirely invisible, but here, in the heart of winter, it could be seen on a day when the mists were burnt away by the rising sun. In winter, the mists rarely ever released the Hydrus from their hold. Even then, the rising pillars would appear as dead trees, a dragon-toothed crown atop an island that was said to be haunted with the sounds of wild things at night. Thankfully, it was day and no such sounds were heard, though he got the feeling that the presence of those terrible things was here and had suddenly stopped at their appearance through the mist.

    They. He looked behind him to make sure the girl followed him. She did, like a red sore before his eyes. She looked up at him when they arrived and then away when she saw him frowning. Her emerald eyes- pretty really as most female Astralian eyes were- looked down to the pool. The girl grew still and was quite calm, but he could tell something was different as she stared at the water, almost as if she could hear something he could not. He regarded her for a moment as she stared at the water. Her lips were parted slightly and let out white plumes of air as she breathed. He looked down and snapped a twig beneath his heavy boot and she looked up sharply at him with her reverie broken.


    "Do you hear it?" he asked of her. Her mouth opened and then closed. She nodded her head in silence. "What does it say?"

    Her brow furrowed in concentration. Whatever she had heard had gone silent. He thought it might. It was confirmed when the girl looked back up at him and shook her head. He stared at her a long moment, just to make sure she was not being defiant and hiding something from him. Curiously, she didn't not shirk or falter under his intense, icy stare. Looked up at him and simply waited.

    "Hmm" he said and shoved her backwards into the pool. She was an avid swimmer, so he was told, from her time in Astral. The velvet cloak was heavy, thick for winter, and the weight of it in the water pulled her down. She floundered in the water, grabbing at it as she struggled under the weight of the cloak about her neck. There was panic in her eyes. Something about this water was wrong. It was thick and it clung to her and dragged her further away from the surface. Nalia al'Vatar looked to Darmon of Maginus. She sought help despite the betraying shove into the water, but found only apathy and impatience at all her struggling.

    "How about now?" he asked of her. The child he was half-ward of could not answer him. She was drowning and he simply watched. Even as she began to disappear beneath the surface, his impatience grew into a scowl.

    "You are a disappointment" he said. It was the last thing she heard as she sunk down beneath the surface of the water and was gone.



    -+-


    Cold, heartless laughter. If the Master of Taroc can hear it, that is what comes from the mouth of The Returned Man of Maginus. Several of the Nightmares that had begun to swarm on Capios paused and turned. The smell of fear so tantalizingly close after being locked up within Nalia al'Vatar for so long... it could not be helped. Alain would feel them festering within him like a diseased wound. He would feel the others coming. They were coming for him now. He bought Enchantry seconds with his fear. Seconds.

    Darmon floated after Alain, much more slowly. He wanted him to suffer. He wanted him to rot from the inside out. He could feel the Nightmares within him just as he could feel them within himself. He could see the images they used to torment him. The ruination of the Great Alain LeCavalier made him smile. And it had only just begun.

    "It's not yours" his pregnant lover told him as he fled. "It never was. There is no child. It was an illusion to keep you around. To keep you trapped."

    There was a lack of empathy in her voice. She was thin and lithe and everything his body and craved.

    "You're not a father. You never will be. You're going to die here. Just get it over with." Her voice was badgering, all around him no matter where he fled. "You have an arsenal in your jacket. Just do it. Get it over with."

    "You can't protect us. You never could." The young Nalia he knew from the sores of a colorless lake near Dayena in Astral said solemnly. She wore the slightly dingy military coat of the Guild Master of Taroc around her shoulders. She was scored with dust and ash of her fallen, blighted home. Her emerald eyes were beautiful but sad amid the grayness of her face and hair. There were streaks in the soot on her face, dried, having long ago been used up. Her emerald eyes brimmed with them, but her body looked exhausted, too much so to fulfill the promise of tears.

    "Why don't you just give us up? Everybody else did. It's only a matter of time before you do too."

    She played with the hem of the jacket, the faded gold embroidery. Her fingernails were dirty. Her white nightgown a dirty, tattered mess. He would remember this child, whom they said was a monster. Her monsters lived in him now.

    "If you give us to him, he'll stop all this." Her emerald eyes looked from the part of his jacket that she toyed with. "You are weak now. You can't protect us anymore. Just give us to him so this can go away."

    She was there, no matter which way he flew, no matter how high or how fast or how far.

    "Beside" she said matter-of-factly. "It's what he wants anyway. I'm what he wants."

    For a brief moment, it was the Nalia he saw the night idea of Enchantry was born. The battered, bruised and defiled young woman who'd come to him for sanctuary. He would see her then, knowing what he knew of it now. She appeared to be on the edge of broken, lost. the women he knew as so strong on the verge of weeping, begging.

    "He's already had me once. It won't hurt again."

    A tear did fall. She held the tattered, ripped fabric of her dress around her womanhood, which bled with his ruination of her.
    "Just let me go, Alain. You're hurting me worse than he ever could."

    Alain's fears and his torment followed him no matter where he fled. Behind him, as a witness to his torture, floated Darmon of Maginus.
    Last edited by SilntAngl5; 12-14-2017 at 06:22 PM.

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