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  1. #121
    Rekōdo City within the Prince's Bedchamber


    Attachment 2252


    Prince Eri, Acting Ruler of Rekōdo and his guards Ganard of House Fallandor and Merelin of House Diorna


    Despite his protests beforehand, he'd been brought to his bedchamber to recover. The mystical, golden eye he'd been endowed with was unlike anything the royal healers had ever seen. Many had trained at the White Towers, and no such organ replica totems had ever existed to their knowledge. They'd asked Ganard to relay their curiosity to the Prince to see if they'd let him run some magikal tests. Politely, Ganard said he would relay the message when the Prince was well enough to consider such a request. Instead, while the Prince slept, he had tried to speak to Merelin.

    "What did you expect would happen?"

    "That he'd see some sense into how he's acting." Merelin tried to keep her voice down, but it was difficult given how angry she still was, and how angry Ganard's passiveness continued to make her. She continually paced from the window just past Eri's bed and back.

    "We took him from his duty Merelin-"

    "Under the Princess's orders."

    "- and he will not accept that. The Oaths he took bind him more deeply to the Princess than we can ever hope to understand, even more so because of his own convictions."

    "He's smothering himself, Ganard, and her."

    Ganard watched her pace, try to seek solace by pulling aside the edge of a thick curtain with her fingertip to peer outside. Whatever was outside only held her captivation for a moment. It was snowing still. The grounds were covered in white. The city beyond looked like something of an ancient fairytale.

    "Why does this upset you so?" he asked with a curious, knowing lilt to his voice. The tone made Merelin stop pacing.

    "Pasce has to prove herself. She has something to prove to the world. With King Heron passed, her being so young, the world being so old..."

    She trailed off. Ganard picked up from where her thought ended.

    "And you can relate to that, can't you?" He watched Merelin carefully by the window. Something in her eyes changed, looked distant. He continued "Just as you had to prove yourself as a woman seeking to guard the Prince, you know that the Princess has to prove herself in turbulent times?"

    Merelin cleared her throat and looked down from the sight of the snow.

    "In a sense" she said quietly. "but the Princess has so much more at stake than I."

    She was a little girl when she'd asked her parents to submit her as a candidate to the of the Honored Guard of the Prince of Rekōdo. She was born in the City. Her family had lived there for generations, which mediated their allegiance to whatever ancestral ties to a specific province they might have had. She was of a noble house, one of the oldest: House Diorna. There were other houses of elder name: Fallandor, Hebron, Xcalta, but she was the only child of her parents, and the only one eligible of her house to go and receive training. She was the only girl to desire this position and she had to fight for it harder than the others who had come. She was bullied, teased, told to leave, but she had remained steadfast. Ganard had watched her determination explode, but more closely, he watched how well she and the Prince meshed. He'd taken to her and when the sparred together or in a pair against others, they were formidable, like one. The other children had been sent home after a year. His decision had been made.

    Eri awoke with a groan. Ganard was sitting closest to his bedside, but it was for his second Guard that he looked. She was here- even though they had fought he knew she would be- and she stood at one of the large, high windows of his large room. She looked out from behind a laced curtain and did not turn when he stirred. She looked distant, sad. Immediately Eri sat up, but Ganard put a hand on his arm to slow him.

    "Are you well, Eri?"

    The Prince nodded his head and then closed his eye. The replacement he'd received was wrapped delicately in fresh bandage.

    "The Healers said you would need time before the eye can be used. Your body needs to get used to the Totem as a new organ."

    Eri's brow furrowed. What he did not have was time.

    "I will need a proper patch for this." He wasn't going to walk around bandaged as if he were injured. His people needed to see him strong. "What has passed while I was out?"

    Ganard looked solemn.

    "Enchantry was attacked by Darmon of Maginus. The man is not who he once was. He was brought back by the High Priests of Maginus- they do not deny the rumor, but wear it proudly. He somehow has gained control of the Nightmares of Nalia al'Vatar. He attacks the island of Capios now. Alain LeCavalier has arrived at the Ailes to distract Darmon fo Maginus from the siege of Enchantry. He brought his fortress with him to combat the Nightmares. In the last report I was given, the dome around Capios was holding."

    Eri bowed his head. His brow was knit in deep thought.

    "What of Pasce? Is there any news of her?"

    Ganard hesitated and shook his head.

    "As far as I am aware, she remains in the East installing Jazhim ibn Jazeem as Regeant of Da'Jinn."

    Eri collected his deep thoughts and then looked up at Ganard.

    "I will need to make an announcement to all of Rekōdo" he said. Pasce had given him words she wished him to speak. He would honor the last order she'd given him. One of the last orders. The other was safe within the dungeons far below the palace. Eri glanced up at Merelin. She had not moved. "See to it that everything is prepared, Ganard."

    Ganard snapped a fist over his broad chest as he rose. Merelin finally removed her sight from the window and repeated Ganard's gesture, but her eyes were not upon the Prince. She made to follow Ganard and leave.

    "I would have you stay" he requested of Merelin, using an old phrase of asking "but I will not order you to do so."

    Merelin froze. She glanced up at Ganard and the elder guard nodded. He could make the necessary arrangements happen for the Prince. Merelin could remain. There was mending that needed to happen.
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  2. #122
    The Great Orange One Qwaring's clone#1 is offline Qwaring's clone#1's Avatar
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    Commander Colina Weir



    The Ailes Bones... To the Southwest: Dragon Scale Island


    Colina has heard the stories about the priests of Maginus. Back during the great War, captured Taroc soldiers and civilians were loaded into boxcars, like cattle, and shipped off to the priests in Maginus. None of the captives were ever seen again. Occasionally, oracles would have visions of what was done to some of those captives. Visions of inhuman torture and mutilation. Of vile rituals performed by robed monsters. Of the most disgusting acts of blasphemy imaginable.

    Colina has her rifle aimed at the hooded men the entire time her Shamaa comrades talk with these two Maginus priests. The Taroc soldier wonders how many children these two men have personally skinned alive for their dark rituals. She also wonders if gunning these two Maginus priests down will ultimately be an act of war or cosmic justice. Slaying them would save untold numbers of innocents from their sacrificial knives and unholy magic.

    When Sacha mentions the reason he has trekked out to this scene of horror and carnage, Colina looks into the man's eyes. She doesn't see a priest in his gaze. A warrior? A leader of some sort? Is he Maginus military hiding in the robes of a priest? No. Colina can spot Maginus soldiers from a mile away. They have a glow of something behind their eyes. Something that reminds Colina of a burnt out church tower she would sit atop, and the feel of a rifle in her eight year-old hands, as she would look out over the ruins of her village and wait to see that glow. That was her daily chore during the Great War. Her father had been crippled during an early conflict, and so it fell to this child to keep watch over her family's corner of the world. Colina doesn't even remember how many times she and her rifle snuffed out that glow in so many eyes.

    Sacha does not have that glow. Nor does he truly have priesthood in his eyes either. Honestly, Colina doesn't care what this man is. If he's not a threat, he's a nonentity to her. It's not her job to keep track of anyone that wanders out of Maginus. Her mission is to aid the Shamaa.


    "I don't believe they're lying," Colina reports to Branwen. The Taroc soldier can sense that much from these men of Maginus.

    The news about Arxus going missing sends a nervous shiver up Colina's spine. Ancestral Spirits don't simply vanish. Sacha is right, what happens to one spirit can effect the others. It could harm Clow. If anything should happen to Clow, Alain might not be able to stop Darmon and these Nightmares. Colina doesn't want to imagine how truly doomed they would be if Alain had to face this threat without his combat sense.

    It would be just like Maginus to endanger all of their ancestral spirits while the world is on the verge of Armageddon. Whether it's by design or through their own blundering, Maginus is almost always a source of senseless loss and destruction.

    Despite her better judgement, Colina lowers her rifle. She's not here to shoot Maginus... Not unless they decide they want to get themselves shot, then she'll happily oblige them. Until they do something deserving of getting shot, Colina will focus on protecting the dream speakers from the horrors they are here to fight.

  3. #123
    The Great Orange One Qwaring's clone#1 is offline Qwaring's clone#1's Avatar
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    Alain LeCavalier




    Alain already said goodbye to Nalia. He has nothing to say to this vile imitation. Instead, a projection from Alain's memories replies to this false Nalia and the beasts that burn away in Alain's mind and body.

    "Let's see what you've got," Harbin used to say. Every time he would spar with his grandson. Every time he would try to teach the boy the ancient fighting skills of the LeCavaier clan.

    Now this is what the Nightmare's in Alain's mind hears. They see an aging man standing on a makeshift campsite out in the wilds of southern Taroc. It's Harbin, decades ago, teaching Alain the art of sword fighting. Harbin holds his sword in casual readiness. Whatever clumsy attacks the boy might bring will be easily dealt with.

    The Nightmares aren't sure what has happened. Where are the thoughts and memories they were feasting upon? Where's the fear and anguish? There are no emotions in this memory. There's no Alain here. Only this old man.

    If Clow were around he would have told these Nightmares they picked the wrong mind to inhabit.

    The beasts attack the remembered Harbin. They tear him to pieces and feast upon him. They lash out at the countryside, and make the memory-world bleed. However, it's an empty meal. They hurt no one. They get no fear or misery from this.


    "Let's see what you've got," Harbin tells the Nightmares. The old man is restored. The campsite and countryside are as they were before the Nightmares attacked.

    They attack again. This time they pull the old man apart in newer, more terrible ways. They burn this memory-world.


    "Let's see- " Harbin once more begins to say, but this time the beasts don't give him a chance to finish. They cut him to pieces and immediately fly away from this place, seeking some end to this place of memory. They search for a way out, so they can once again-

    "Let's see what you've got," Harbin tells the Nightmares as they find themselves returned to the beginning of this place.


    Outside of his mind, Alain flies into a world of pale mists and swirling wild magic. Both sight and mystical senses are taken from all in this frigid place. Darmon and his Nightmares will also lose the sense of fear from their prey. It's as if terror was a lamplight that had been snuffed out.

    The warriors of the LeCavalier clan had to learn of ways to control themselves. They had to turn themselves into perfect instruments of battle. This meant controlling things such as pain, anguish, anger, and fear. It meant they had to be masters of these internal forces, so that they could never be used against them. Alain is the last of the LeCavaliers, and he uses all he was taught to show enough fear to lure in his enemies, and now he cuts them off from any sign of fear, so that their senses have no emotions to track him with.

    The false Nalia would have normally been enough to derail Alain's efforts to control his psyche and emotions, but right now his dedication to saving the real Nalia and their child is protecting him. He knows Nalia and their child are out there right now. Not here, tormenting him. If he can endure this torment, and maintain control, he can end this and keep his love and child safe. He'll do what needs to be done to protect his family. It's what Harbin did. It's what every LeCavalier has done. It's in their blood. Burning in their souls. It's what will keep Alain going until the end.

    For those tracking Alain, here is in this pale, cold realm of mist and snow there is only the scent of blood. Alain is out there, bleeding a trail that they can follow through this place. Occasionally large rocks and hints of islands slip forth from the mists and snow. These rocks have slain many ships that were foolish enough to sail these cruel waters. Now they are obstacles to be flown around.

    The trail of blood winds its way through the chaos. Alain's path is as maddening as the swirls of wild magic that flows through this ancient place. It's almost as if he moves in harmony with the insane magics of these islands. He flies this way, then that way. North, then east, then west, north again, south, up, down, around and around.


    Eventually, Alain lands on the island Nalia had once shown him in a vision. Thankfully, Alain had one of the bracelets Nalia had given to Olivia and the captains of her merchant ships, the power of these bracelets allowed Alain to navigate his way through this area of wild magic.

    The Nightmares inside of Alain have been trapped. They're bottled up inside of a psychic construct inside of Alain's mental defenses. It's a trick that Harbin once taught Alain, and something Alain perfected when he and Clow had to deal with warlocks seeking to attack Alain's mind. It's a temporary measure. Eventually, the Nightmares will summon up enough brute force to break their way free. Their merciless efforts to escape will hurt. A lot. Until then, Alain has his mind all to himself.

    Until Darmon inevitably arrives, it's just Alain... and the statue. The statue is just as it was in Nalia's vision. A cold titan standing over the world it knowingly gazes upon. A scepter held in its hand, as if lording the forgotten meaning of the object over the countless souls of this snow covered world of mist and rumbling of distant conflicts.

    Alain approaches the statue. He rests a hand on the titan's stone leg in order to brace himself as Alain suddenly doubles over and vomits. He forces out a sickening, burning mixture of tar-like Nightmare matter and blood. Alain's bloodied eyes gaze up at the statue. If this scepter doesn't kill Alain the Nightmares eventually will.

    There isn't much time for suffering, Alain only has a few minutes head start. As he flew through the mists, Alain had teleported some of his own blood to various random spots in the water or on the rocks. If Darmon and his Nightmares are tracking by blood they will have a few wrong turns to navigate their way around before they can find the correct trail to follow.

    Alain takes his coat off and throws it over the statue. The coat lands on the ground where the statue once stood. The statue and scepter now inhabits the armory realm of the coat, where Alain will recall it when the trap is ready to be sprung.

    He removes a single elemental bullet from his belt. With a bit of concentration he uses up the alchemical charge inside of the bullet and manipulates the elements around him. The snow on the ground swirls and covers up the coat, concealing it.

    Alain falls down onto his knees. He's atop the coat. As long as he's in contact with it he can summon the statue and scepter. Alain can feel something stabbing away deep in his mind. The Nightmares will soon cut their way free.

    He draws his pistol and retches up more blood and tar.

    Alain gazes skyward and waits for Darmon to catch up.

    His bloodied eyes drift closed. He recalls stars reflected in emerald eyes. Music, and dancing among the heavens as a world of wonder takes shape around he and Nalia. It seems like forever ago.

  4. #124
    The Great Orange One Qwaring's clone#1 is offline Qwaring's clone#1's Avatar
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    Olivia Kuhrson & Verona Aliester



    Above Faraking Island: The Heli'Dom...


    When Arion begins communing with Pasce and the spirits, Olivia picks up the dark, soul containing, bottle. She rolls it around between her hands as she watches Arion and Pasce's minds connect. There is one task to perform before the ritual can truly begin.

    The task of unravelling a high priest's dark soul and weaving it into a tether.

    Until then, Arion can learn painful truths, and Pasce can bathe in the magics infused into the chair, triangle, and circle. These things will make the girl ready for the journey ahead. As ready as Olivia can make her in the short time they have.

    Olivia walks away from the Second and Princess, and approaches Nalia. She places a hand on Nalia's shoulder.


    "Stay strong," she whispers to Nalia. "I'll be right back."

    Olivia's hand soon slips away from Nalia. The necromancer continues walking. She pauses at Verona, and whispers something to the silver haired woman. Verona nods, and Olivia continues walking. She is soon out of the chamber and in the dimly lit halls.

    The depths of the Heli'Dom will muffle the unholy things that must be done. If they're lucky, none in the main observatory won't be able to feel Olivia performing the darkest of her arts upon a soul. Even Arion's senses, now surrounded by the sound of the souls of Pasce and the collected spirits, won't be able to detect it.

    Arxus might sense something. A scratching behind the tapestry of the dark realms. A profane unravelling of something that had once been a pillar in the secret and loathsome underworld of Maginus. Then all too swiftly the soul of a thing that had once may have been a man is undone. Then Arxus senses no more of what is being done.

    After a few minutes the lights in the room begin to dim slightly, then blink. The room rattles. A chilled wind slithers through the chamber. The flame in the fireplace trembles in odd ways and pales to a sickly blue.

    Then as suddenly as it occurred, the room returns to normal. The lights, fire, and air is restored to the same states they had held only minutes ago. The vile task is completed, and the world lets out a nervous breath it had been holding.

    Some time later, Olivia returns. There is a burn on her left cheek, and blood on her hands. Her skin is an ashen grey color. Her clothes have smudges of soot staining them. She smells of ozone and decay. Olivia limps her way across the chamber, trying her best not to look at the others.

    Within her gasp she holds a small coil of blue light. The light is dim, but looking at it burns like staring at the sun for too long. Whenever Arion is able to listen for it, the coil of light will sound like a single cello playing one, deep note. It's a note without change and without an end.

    What was just done is something that is forbidden everywhere except the darkest of places in Maginus. Even then, only the high priests or Guild Master of Maginus have to approve the usage of such ancient and terrible magic.

    Olivia limps up to her bag, and pulls a golden nail out of it. She ties one end of the coil around the nail. With a pained grimace Olivia then pushes the nail through the back of her left hand. Her voice trembles in agony as she whispers dark incantations to bind the nail and coil to her own soul.

    Olivia has made herself into the anchor that will hopefully hold Pasce and prevent her from drifting too far from the living world.

    The necromancer holds out her now bleeding left hand to Pasce. The coil of blue light unrolls itself and stretches out to Pasce, as if it were a serpent. The line of light fades to near invisibility as it reaches out to the princess. It binds itself to the girl's soul. To her it will feel like a contradiction. Hot and cold. Soft and sharp. Wrapping around her, and tangled up inside of her. It feels wrong, and it's also a part of her like a forgotten limb she has just remembered.

    Arxus will recognize the soul anchoring method. He will also know that a necromancer performing such a ritual almost always uses another as an anchor, and never themselves. Most necromancers would not subject themselves to such pain or the dangers of binding their souls to another. It's customary to employ disposable servants for such tasks. It can also be a strain on the necromancers power. However, Olivia shows no signs of losing her dark power. She's in pain, but is in no way weakened by the binding. Once more this mystery woman shows she is a master of the dark arts, but not confined by the rules that most warlocks have been burdened by.

    Olivia approaches Pasce. It is by this time that Arion wakes from his encounter with the spirits. The acting guild master offers his services.


    "Thank you, Arion," Olivia says with a small smile. "I only need you to watch over all of us in this room. Nalia is without power and much of my abilities will be tied up in this ritual. You are our only protector if danger should find its way to us."

    Olivia crouches in front of Pasce. She gazes deeply into the girl's eyes, as if trying to look at her very soul.

    "When I send you away, you will feel a current, like the flow of a river that feeds into an ocean," Olivia calmly explains to Pasce. "Ignore it. Resist it. That is the afterlife calling out to all departed souls. No matter who you see out there, or what they say, fight against that force with all of your might.

    "When it is time to return, I will pull on the tether that links us together. You will know this pull for what it is. Follow it. Use this tether to climb back to your body.

    "Remember your brother, your friends, the love you feel for them, and the love they feel for you. Let that light your way home. Allow the oaths you've made in life to strengthen your resolve. Hold them close, and don't let them slip away.

    "The specters on the border worlds have been somewhat savage since the ancestral spirits were taken, but this ritual will bypass their domain. You don't need to fear attacks by those beasts. However, there might be spirits from the inner domains that seek you out. These ghosts from beyond will try to persuade you to give up. They'll try to lure you away. Don't let them."

    Olivia smears some of the blood from her left hand onto the palm of her other hand. She whispers hoarse incantations to the blood stained palm, and the ruby liquid turns black. Olivia raises that palm up and closes her eyes. She utters more arcane words. The blood on her palm bursts into dark violet fire, which hisses like an angered serpent. She snaps her raised hand into a tight fist, snuffing out this occult fire. Olivia lowers her hand and opens her fingers, revealing a violet rune glowing in her palm.

    Olivia holds out her rune-marked hand to Pasce.


    "Are you ready?"

  5. #125
    The Island of Capios: In the Heart of the City, by the White Pillars



    Dyani of the Border Forests



    Dyani looked back at her sisters behind her. Her hawk-like, blue eyes were fierce with adrenaline the Shamaa commanded before a fight. The blue of her eyes seemed to glow amid the darkness all around. She looked to find her hawk in the sky.

    "Animal Spirit, to me!"

    The bird arched high over head in a swooping loop. It let out a long, echoing cry that made their protective dome shiver with familiarity. Dyani looked back at her sister's again. This time, her eyes were glowing. She breathed rapidly as if fighting back a rising tide. When she could hold it back no more, she yelled with fierceness and pride.

    "For Enchantry!" she screamed and leapt through the shield just as her Spirit Animal came swooping down. Dyani hit the ground at a dead run. Her large hawk swooped in behind her and ran behind her, adding to her speed. The blades of her long, fighting knives glowed with infused dream energy at the unshielded presence of the Nightmares. It was with a coarse yell that she leapt at the Nightmares. They turned to meet her head on. Her knives cut through them and caused them to burst with shrieks and howls into smoke and ash. She moved with precision and deadly accuracy. her blades hummed as they sliced through the air and through the dark ichor of the blights on the island. She could feel the island beneath her. It hummed in tandem with her blades, breathed and pulsed with the glow of the paint upon her face and the beat of her own heart. There was an inkling of joy in the earth, or relief, of an ability to inhale just so with the destruction of each Nightmare presence on Capios. But there were still so many, too many. Dyani was so focused on slaying as many of the hoard as possible, that she missed the rip tide of hopelessness than seemed to such all strength form the air around her.

    A resonating boom was the only thing that shook her from her reverie of battle. She paused and looked wildly around her then to the skies. Kali was soaring overhead moments ago, before she broke through the shield to fight-

    "Kali" Dyani half whispered. There was a growl to her voice as she took a knee and plunged her two knives backwards behind her. There was a rush of ashen air as something burst behind her and exited the world with a fading shriek. Dyani's blue eyes searched the darkness for her friend and acting Guild Mistress

    "Does anyone have eyes on Kali!?" she yelled to her other Sisters.



    -+-



    The Island of Capios: Heading Toward The Caverns




    The Dire Wolves of the Ailes



    They continued their ferrying of people. There were many along their way that had fallen prey to the darkness. Some writhed on the ground with darkness pouring from every open orifice. it choked the sounds of their agony and strangled them from the inside out. Some of the Light Wielders stopped to blight the darkness from the distraught bodies and souls. Those who were too weak to walk after were thrown upon the Dire Wolves' backs. It slowed their progress, but delivery after delivery was made to the edge of the forest, or close enough to it that they could reach it as safely as was possible.

    It was when the Nightmares began attacking the Light wielders themselves that the convoys started to derail. The Wolves could not continue on safely without them and were all but powerless to help them. If they became infected, all their charges would be slowed and lost. The wolves sent their charges pictures of them running at full speeds with them on their backs. They would have to climb aboard with the recovering, but it was would increase their chances of survival, if only by a little bit. One by one, they began to climb aboard. The light wielders were at the head and if there were two, they were at the tail of the wolves. The wolves flew through Capios occasionally, one would send out an echoing howl, but they were otherwise silent. Howling gave away their location. They were nearly invisible among the darkness, a simple blur of darkness within the dark. They passed by and then they were gone.



    -+-



    The Island of Capios: Below the White Palace, The Edge of the Forest





    Laelis of Lymes


    She was not a fighter.

    Not in the sense that Dyani was or Kali or any other Sisters of Shamaa. Astralians were not warriors. They were anything but, but Nalia had insisted that, before obtaining the green cloak of an Enchantress, the women must go through combat training. Nalia knew that, at sometime, one's magik could be useless against a foe, against the Nightmares. They would swallow it like a blackhole. She insisted that everyone who claimed permanent residence on the island undergo training of some kind. Laelis had tried to learn from Dyani, who was intense and hard with her trainees. She drew upon what she learned now. Her body knew the motions, the fluid motions that caused her spears to thrust before and behind her, the stance she would need to blance herself as she swung or spun her double-tipped weapons of light around her. In her periphery, she could see Vucan's illusionary circle of light and fire surrounding them and protecting them from a large bulk of the attacks that came. Without him, she knew she would have been lost to the darkness far, far sooner.

    They were back-to-back in the fight. Where he lead, she followed in a sort of dance. He would not have to tell her twice to stay close. the closer to him she remained, the more she felt fearless of the dark things that came at them. She was a challenge for their maws and claws to reach. As a wielder of the Light, she was a prime target for them and so lesser beings were ignored and able to escape in the background to the forests and subsequent entrance to The Caverns beyond. Occasionally, one of her wrists touched Vucan, somewhere on his arm or his person as they passed each other in their battle dance. If he had any injuries or wearies, and he allowed it, he would feel a jolt of energy rush through him and minor wounds would be healed. But Laelis was beginning to tire. There were slashes where red stained her green and white robes where Nightmares had scored a mark before meeting their end.

    Sweat matted Laelis's body. Her pleasant cheeks were flushed with the constant movement battle required, but all around them, Nightmares began to fall. Still, more waited. An unending sea of darkness threatened to wash out Vucan's protective devices and drown out the light of the island. So long as there was light, there was hope.



    -+-



    The Guild of Enchantry: The Island of Capios, The White Palace



    Fateema of Ordh'u, Merriam of Clow



    They needed a new tactic. The dome had fallen. The shards that managed to slip past their defenses had done their damage. Smoke rose in giant plumes of black amongst the city. The fires needed to be put out before they spread. The Jinn of water opened its hands and poured water on the arson that threatened the white city. The Jinn of earth bowed its massive, horned head, and thrashed gaping holes in the Nightmare hoard. They began to glow, as if they pulled light from the stars down from the sky itself. It was like a small, white lighthouse that pierced the dark gloom of a gale. With each sweep of its antlered head, the darkness was ripped open, like cloth being torn or plastic being melted.

    "I am here" Merriam whispered into Fateema's shawl-covered ear. "Keep going."

    Fateema leaned into Merriam now. Sweat dotted her temples and matted her robes to her back. She cried out when Evalynn sent a quiet whisper out to the people of Enchantry. It was a cry of anguish and a cry of relief. She and Shalla had done it. The Caverns could receive their people and the Merfolk would help to get them out of Capios.

    "We have to get our people to the Caverns" she managed with evidence of strained strength in her voice. "We have to get them out."

    The Jinn of earth continued to spear and strike at the darkness hovering above the planet with abandon and rage. The Jinn of water turned and peered down at the island below from its great height. Where eyes would be suddenly swirled to life with crimson light. Merriam's eyes glowed with a distant, far-away look behind Fateema's head. Her lips began to move, but no sounds came forth.

    "There" she whispered suddenly. "To the east. They are being pursued."

    One of the Dire wolves, who had piled masses of people upon its large back, ran like a black streak through the trees and the white bricked roads. Behind it a wave of darkness threatened to break down upon it like a tidal wave. The Jinn of water swept a watery hand down and swatted at the Dire Wolf. A rush of tidal water rushed forward and swept the wolf up in its current. It ran like rapids through the winding streets, dashing Nightmares against trees and buildings. The Wolf paddled and stayed afloat until the waters rushed out near the forests and its ultimate destination. The waters receded like a tide being called back to the ocean and left the watered-down wolf and the many riders upon its back on the stone ground. The wolf hunkered down so that tis drenched passengers could disembark, shook itself dry and then ran back to find others who would need it.



    -+-



    The Island of Capios, Below the White Palace: The Caverns



    Evalynn Agravaine of Maginus, Shalla of Tuah


    The people began coming into the Caverns. Evalynn came near its entrance and mentally called them to come within. her voice sounded like a whisper right within their ears, but it echoed quietly within their minds. The stone stairs that fed down into the caves were carved with intricate detail, much of it worn away with the passage of time and use however long ago, before Enchantry made its home here. It was one of the many secrets of this island that Nalia worked painfully to unlock. Everyone who entered was in various states of distress, shock, injury and fear. Evalynn grabbed any who wore the white within their green cloaks to heal and comfort those who passed into the Caverns and help ferry everyone down into the green, grassy hills within the caves.

    The archways hummed as the masses began to come through. The sound of rushing water from the various falls was soothing, the sight of sailboats docked at intervals along the farther side of the shores a welcoming sight, but many knew boats were useless here. the Nightmares would plunder the boats as easily as a rogue wave would a boat in a storm. A tingle of fear was in the atmosphere. None of them could see what happened outside as Shalla could. She stood silently at the edge of the water.

    "Our ferry waits beneath the water" she said calmly to the group of refugees nearest her. She stared out over the water. "Come. We haven't much time."

    But the people were afraid. They did not want to go into the water.

    "The O'aris have come" Shalla said, inwardly dreading the thought of having to go back into the frigid water. She turned and gestured. "Follow me."

    She led them down into the water, to where the shelf of the stone dropped off into nothingness below. They shivered in the water, but paused when they saw the shapes swimming around beneath. The sentinel breeched the water's surface, armed with a trident that appeared to be made of glass seaweed. Others surfaced behind her, females with their males or alone. Each carried a spear or trident and was armed with a shell-carved breastplate. The people in the water and along the hillside stopped and stared. Some went so far as to bow in respect and awe of the things of myth and legend. They were aid to be the Second Creation of Liar'Adon. Shalla nodded to the Sentinel.

    "There are those who hail from Maginus here, but their loyalty and hearts lie with Enchantry."

    "They are expected, Shalla of Tuah. We will ferry all of the Life Giver's people."

    The sentinel looked to those in the water and to those on the hillside.

    "We will take you beneath the water to the Ailes beyond where the darkness gathers" her nostril holes flared and her dark, black eyes regarded those here. She could smell their fear.

    "You must harden your hearts for this journey. They will smell your fear and come for you. Our debt to the one you call Nalia al'Vatar will be repaid this night with your passage to safety. Come-"

    -she gestured to the water-

    "- We must not waste time."

    Shalla helped the first wave of people into the water. They each took the webbed hand of a waiting sentinel and then disappeared beneath the surface of the water. More and more came to the water and disappeared beneath. They came willingly. Those who were not brave enough hung back and watched From their heights on the hill, they could see dark shapes swimming off beneath the water at fast speeds. They swam toward the rock face farthest from the hilly islands and then their shadows disappeared.
    Last edited by SilntAngl5; 12-31-2017 at 03:02 PM.

  6. #126
    Count / Countess Tigers is offline Tigers's Avatar
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    Branwen

    The tension hung in the air all around them, but it wasn’t just from this moment’s encounter with the two men. The Nightmares laid a heaviness to the surrounding area that was nearly suffocating. Gods, what must it be like there in Capios? They did not have time for this, time was of the essence.

    Branwen listened to Sacha, weighing the truth within his words and the actions of his face and the emotions that poured off him in waves. Aura’s could tell so much of a person and when Commander Weir spoke her piece, the acting Mistress of Shamaa wondered if the Taroc soldier could perceive auras? It was a discussion left for another time, and hopefully better circumstances.

    Her eyes had not missed the wounds, nor had she not noticed that despite the spirit animals around them being alert and on guard, they did not seem to be overly concerned about the two men. Branwen signaled for her people to lower their weapons.


    “As a gesture of good faith.”
    She replied to the action.

    “I will not apologize for the skepticism of my people, but we do not have time to argue if our goals are entwined. The loss of an ancestral spirit of great concern and the Nightmares doubly so. Let us part ways to complete our tasks and save as many souls as we can.”


    “I would offer you healing before departure if you would take it.” Branwen began.

    “With a word of warning. Do not break the trust we are giving you.”
    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

  7. #127
    Count / Countess Tigers is offline Tigers's Avatar
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    KALI &
    Vucan


    The young woman wrapped in Kali’s arms was slightly older, a few years perhaps? But that didn’t stop the terrified screams coming from her mouth as Kali protected her from the Nightmares . They hammered at her body like a piece of metal set to the anvil and it wasn’t the most pleasant of feelings. Truth be told, for mere spirit type beings, these Nightmares slamming into her hurt like hell. And if Kali wasn’t utterly annoyed and angered at the moment, she would have likely felt just how much it hurt.

    “Shut up! Your fear is driving them into a frenzy!” Kali screamed back.

    It was perhaps not the most prudent of things to do, but the woman needed to be shocked out of her fear and since Kali couldn’t slap her across the face, a verbal tongue lashing would have to do. It at least caused the other woman to open her eyes. Wide-eyed with fear, she looked at Kali and recognition and a flood of relief covered her face.

    “Better?” Kali asked.

    The young woman nodded as Kali focused on getting her out of this predicament and back into the fight. Nightmares, pushed and tried to ooze their way through every crack and crevice they could find. There was no time to guess, wonder or talk about anything, Kali needed her there at the other pillar.

    “Porta.”

    As Kali spoke the words, the very ground underneath them flared with light and the girl faded from view. She didn’t have time to make sure that the girl would calm enough to tell her what she was doing. She would fade into the safety magick around the pillar.

    Not a second later and Kali curled tighter into a ball, her anger personified by the pounding, clawing, biting and gnawing of the Nightmares upon her person. With a growl and cry of rage, Kali yelled.

    “GET OFF ME!”

    “ADOLEBITQUE!”


    A burst of flame engulfed Kali as she burned the Nightmares clinging to her, giving her a moment of reprieve. But even that did not last long as her sword ignited, to join the burning creature surrounded by Nightmares, just before they attacked unrelentingly. Her sword set the area alight as she fought off Nightmares, her head swinging to avoid the biting and clawing, hoping her horns would impale a few along the way.



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


    When one was a being of pure instinct, you could pick up the subtle nuances of emotion in the air. Laelis’ fear had been bolstered by his presence, but there was a layer of uncertainty in her skills to protect herself. Vucan did not know the history of Laelis’ lessons, who had taught her, or how her training had gone, but he could reassure her.

    “Do not doubt yourself young shepherdess, your skills are quite adequate.”

    A touch of her skin to his reptilian/human form sent a pleasant jolt of magick through him. She should not be worried about healing him, but maintaining herself, but Vucan did not rebuke her, for it was who she was. But it did not mean that he could not make sure that most of that healing bounced back toward the healer herself.

    “Your healing touch is not unappreciated, but perhaps it would be wise to save your strength.”

    His eyes pierced the darkness of the Nightmares, looking beyond what mortal eyes could see and he hissed his annoyance at the situation. The light of so many lives were snuffed out in a blink. Humans fell, writhing on the ground as they were consumed by darkness, dragonlings and Nightmare alike by the hundreds fell from the sky and the djinn, they were barely visible in thick black blanket of Nightmares.

    “How many more do you wait for? It is time to pull in the last of your stragglers before you are lost. What is a flock without its shepherdess?”

    He would not argue with the human, he would speak truth and honesty and allow her to decide. He only hoped that pride or willfulness was not a factor in her decision making. Sacrifice was wasteful if it did not serve a purpose and from where he stood, there was no need for her to give her life today.

    “Laelis, draw strength from me, as much as your body can handle. I feel you tiring, and if I do, you know they do as well.”

    He continued their dance, fortifying barriers, building flame around them and trying to keep the Nightmares at bay, but even he knew that the masses were greater than the two could handle for much longer alone. If he couldn’t sway the stubborn human, he would at least offer comfort and reassurance.

    “I am by your side until it is ended, no matter the outcome.”


  8. #128
    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


    The moment Dyani left their presence, Eilwen stepped into her place. It was difficult not put aside the rush to run into battle, but Eilwen’s place was here. Protecting the pillars was of the utmost important and her energy needed to be saved for the inevitable break of their shield around the pillar. Everyone there knew it was not if, but when it happened.

    Two twin fiery blurs zipped by them as Blas and Kai raced from pillar to pillar. As energetic as they were, Eilwen could swear they were not zipping by as fast and as often as they had been. Was Kali tiring already, surely not? But the massive horde made her think otherwise, how could one being fight against such odds? Angry at where her thoughts had turned she refocused on their task at hand.

    Sari’s brow began to sweat, and although her fear of the situation of the Nightmares had passed, it was now teetering on a new issue, fatigue.

    “Ráichéal, I’m getting tired.”

    “I know Sari. Don’t give up, just focus on me.”

    As if sensing the needs of the girls, Blas and Kai suddenly buzzed through the shield and wrapped around the girls to help renew their strength and focus, before zipping back out again.

    Nicolette and Dominika exchanged glances. They were never ones to leave anything undone or said and they were grateful for it. How many of their sisters had gone to their deaths today full of regrets of things left undone, or unsaid. They exchanged knowing looks and turned to their sisters before going back to the massive horde that had begun targeting on each pillar and white light user.

    Kiyoko whipped her head around at the sound of Dyani’s voice. Kali was missing? This would not bode well for moral if they lost their acting guild mistress so soon. Kiyoko’s eyes rapidly scanned their surroundings, looking for any sign of their guild mistress.

    “Dyani! There!”
    Kiyoko exclaimed, just as a burst of flame erupted from Kali’s direction.

    Unlike some of her sisters, Kiyoko was calm and serene in the face of battle. She had never been seen coming unhinged in any situation. Even if Kali had been lost, she would do her duty to the last breath and she did not feel the need to rush head long into battle, it would come to her. And as if on cue, the Nightmares began hammering on the protective barrier of the pillar, and not just theirs, but each one of the pillars. The battle would be within their reach all too soon.

  9. #129
    The Great Orange One Qwaring's clone#1 is offline Qwaring's clone#1's Avatar
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    Lieutenant Lydmila Pavlich




    Long ago there had been a man named Luca Nolus Chekhov. In many ways he was a man without a province. Descended from a family with members from almost every province. His mixed heritage left him with no real home, and condemned him to a nomadic existence. It was not a terrible life for Luca, he became a collector and trader of strange items found in the oddest corners of Rekōdo.

    When the Great War broke out he found himself trapped within the borders of Da'Jinn. Not being true Da'Jinn soon made him an enemy of the warring province. He was arrested and imprisoned. He spent months in an unforgiving dungeon. His worldly possessions were taken and his life was reduced to a tiny stone prison cell.

    Then came the day that Taroc attacked the prison. Some Da'Jinn slavers had abducted many people from the war ravaged Taroc. Alain Lecavalier led a small force to free these people from the prison that held them. During the attack, Alain decided to free the criminals contained in the prison. He thought these people were locked up for causing trouble for Da'Jinn, so he freed them so they could continue to cause trouble for the enemy province.

    When Lydmila Pavlich shot open Luca's cell door, the man thought he was witnessing a miracle. He was certain this was an angel freeing him from certain doom. In truth, Lydmila was simply assigned to open the doors of Luca's cell block only because she was the closest soldier to that part of the prison.

    As Taroc left the prison, and Da'Jinn territory, Luca accompanied them as a refugee. During their trek out of the land of Da'Jinn, Luca continuously called Lydmila his guardian angel as he constantly thanked and praised her. Eventually, she informed him that if she was anyone's guardian angel she was Alain's, as keeping the reckless Guild Master alive in their many battles against Maginus often required Lydmila to perform countless miracles.

    Before Luca parted ways with Lydmila and Alain's squad, he left his angel a gift. A medallion with a winged serpent on its face. He also left her with the name of the serpent.



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

    Now, on the roof of Alain's doomed fortress. Lydmila is alone. Doraen is gone. Ryth and the astral woman have fled into the fortress. It's only Lydmila and a flood of Nightmare beasts rushing at her from all sides. They roar and bear their fang-lined maws at her.

    No, she isn't alone. Never alone. She hugs her sniper rifle against her body. A rifle with a serpent medallion bolted onto the stock. Lydmila closes her eyes and whispers a name,
    "Xa'ohz..."

    The countless hordes of Nightmares swarm upon the woman, just as the medallion bolted onto her gun begins to glow.

  10. #130
    The Great Orange One Qwaring's clone#1 is offline Qwaring's clone#1's Avatar
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    Captain Jacob 'Gold-Eyes' Petrov




    The Raven's Triumph... Sailing the waters between Capios and Alain's Fortress...


    For the most part the Raven's Triumph has made it through this latest battle with little damage. The undead crew of the pirate vessel offers nothing for the Nightmare beasts to feed on. The dead do not dream, or at least they do not dream in ways mortals or Nightmare fiends can understand. This leaves the Nightmares with nothing to eat out of the unliving husks that crews the Raven's Triumph. With nothing to eat, and with the musket and cannon fire of the pirate ship doing very little real damage, the Nightmares have mostly ignored the pirates.

    This impotent role in the conflict offers Captain Gold-Eye little shame or disgrace. He, his ship, and his crew have performed their intended task. They helped Master LeCavalier shape this conflict into what was needed to divert Darmon and most of his Nightmares. They bought a few precious seconds for Capios.

    Now, the three flying Taroc warships have been destroyed. They had been tempting targets for the Nightmares. The three ships were crewed by living men and women, with fears the Nightmares could feed on. However, the crew abandoned ship and teleported away before the Nightmares could feed on them. The engine cores of the emptied ships were then detonated, creating an explosion of pure elemental fury, which destroyed or harmed many of the attacking Nightmares.

    The imposing fortress seems to be fairing the worst of Alain's three attack forces. It has been consumed by a sphere of pure darkness. This lightless globe is a mass of countless Nightmare beasts that have swarmed upon the structure like a screaming, hissing mountain of unspeakable terror.

    With his all-seeing, mystical gaze, Gold-Eyes can half see why these beasts hate this fortress so much. Partly it's because those within the fortress are people that are important to Alain, and making them suffer will hurt the Guild Master. Also because the Nightmares know this fortress. They've seen it through Nalia's senses. The many quiet moments Alain and Nalia would sneak away and surrender to their desires. This fortress is a place of love and happiness for their former host. The Nightmares will turn it into a factory of torture and murder, all to spite their former host. In this place they found anguish in every spark of joy her tragic life had granted her.

    The whole thing is a tragedy. Gold-Eye averts his all-seeing gaze. Taroc loses its heroes this night. They lose a monument to their victories in the Great War. There is nothing but loss...

    The howls and screeches of the Nightmare mountain gives way to a chorus of agonizing screams. The inhuman tormentors are in great pain. Gold-Eye looks up at the massive shadow globe, wanting to see what has hurt these fiends so very much.

    The pirate captain looks up to see a thirty foot long serpent tear its way through the mass of Nightmare beasts. The giant serpent is a creature of blue light. Its eyes burn white, as do the tips of its fangs as it hisses at the Nightmares it forces its way through. The serpent continues to emerge from the sphere, its glowing feathered wings spread wide, swatting away even more screaming Nightmares. With three of its four lion-like legs, the serpent creature slashes and shoves the Nightmares. In its fourth paw it holds the unconscious form of Lydmila.

    To Gold-Eye's amazement, the winged serpent-lion-eagle creature is harming and even slaying the Nightmares it touches. Any part of the Nightmares that is touched by this creature of blue and white light seems to crumble to dust.

    As the giant serpent begins to descend down towards the Raven's Triumph, Gold-Eye notices a medallion that is bolted onto the stock of Lydmila's sniper rifle, which the unconscious woman still holds in her arms, is glowing with the same light as the giant serpent. The pirate captain can see the medallion is the source of the beast. No, not the source, but a doorway that the serpent can enter this realm through. Gold-Eye can see that this beast originates from a realm the Raven's Triumph has never sailed. A realm that doesn't know the touch of Nightmares, as its light and fanciful matter burns such dark things away.

    Gold-Eye shouts and curses at his crew, making them clear the deck and give the descending serpent room to land on the Raven's Triumph. Within moments the giant beast lands on the haunted ship and carefully sets Lydmila down on the deck directly in front of Gold-Eye. The ghost captain respectfully removes his hat and bows to the creature of light. Eyes of white stare into an eye of gold. Some unspoken meaning passes between the two unnatural beings. The serpent then dissolves into points and ribbons of light and energy that slithers back through the medallion and off to the realm the serpent calls home. Moments later the medallion stops glowing.

    Gold-Eye looks back up at the globe of darkness. The hole the serpent's escape had made in the mountain of horrors is already sealing back up. None of the Nightmares are pursuing Lydmila, or seeking revenge for their destroyed brethren. They are more interested in destroying this place that had once been a refuge of love and joy for the woman and man the Nightmares hate so much.

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