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  1. #141
    Count / Countess Tigers is offline Tigers's Avatar
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    Branwen


    Branwen watched Sacha intensely. Good, they could agree on this and move on to their individual tasks, the sooner the better. There was no offence taken as Sacha refused Branwen’s offer for healing. It was a logical decision, considering the battle ahead.

    “May Liar'Adon guide you in the task at hand, Shepherd of Souls.”

    The gravity of the situation was not lost on any present and there was no need to state the obvious seriousness of the challenges before them. She inclined her head in acknowledgement to Aramil as he bowed and followed Sacha. Her gaze remained heavy upon their retreating forms and did not falter until Zarena spoke.

    Surprised the moment of levity, she smiled back and laughed in reply.

    “I’m not so sure Zarena, I have heard the people of Da’Jinn are too gristly, not enough meat!”

    Her eyes returned to place where Sacha and Aramil stood and she observed Sacha leave his body. The vessel stood on the beach shore where he left it. The blue ghostly outline of his spirit glanced their way before leaving. Quietly, Branwen prayed that he had enough knowledge to protect his spirit from the beasts. Turning back to Zarena, Brawnen added more seriously.

    “Lead the way.” She spoke softly.

    “It is time for our people to aide our sisters.”

    She turned toward Commander Weir.

    “Thank you again Commander.”

    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

  2. #142
    Count / Countess Tigers is offline Tigers's Avatar
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    KALI &
    Vucan


    Horns slashed as a sword cut through the swath of darkness, slicing the beings in bits and pieces. Like the outgoing tide, the Nightmares latched on to where they could, trying to drag Kali off balance. Many dared to grasp for the emerald coated horns to rip and tear, only to be torn away or cut asunder. Her mind was battle honed, but it had not lived in a situation where she needed to communicate while her energies were concentrated on keeping the Nightmares at bay.

    Her mind told her that Evalynn had said the way was open, and that the merfolk had answered their call. Fateema and Merriam were quiet, too quiet for Kali’s liking. She gazed out with her eyes to the pillars beyond. It was a haze, a fog of darkness that covered anything of light. But she could still see them, as Dyani entered her peripheral and her voice rang out in the chaos.


    “Dyani!” Kali replied in turn, her voice full of a mixture of joviality and a predatory nature.

    The lights were growing dim, they needed out to get the rest of their sisters out. They could replace the structures, but Capios, she was the women that embodied her and if they lost all of them, the island would have no meaning.

    She locked eyes with Dyani and their blades and bodies sang with battle. Gone where the golden orbs, replaced by the blood red lust of battle in Kali’s eyes. The predator had come out to play and so had her playmate. Kali gave Dyani a deadly toothy grin as she glanced over the condition of her friend and sister.


    “Together.”
    She agreed.

    “About time.” She excitedly added under her breath.

    As Kali and Dyani closed ranks and stood at each other’s backs, Kali reached out to her fellow sisters.

    “Fateema, Merriam, Laelis! Are you still with us? The call has been made, we need to fall back. Dyani and I will keep the pillars standing for as long as we can. I need you to get to safety, the civilians will need you. Our sisters will need you.”

    It was a challenge to remain in battle and in contact with her sisters. The more predatory form pushed for dominance and she had no desire to “talk,” at all. The hoards were too great and any strategy she could come up with would ultimately end with their deaths, so she focused on saving as many lives as she could.

    “They’ll start picking off the pillars soon, what if we let the outer pillars go and combine our strengths to a few main pillars?” Kali replied, making brief eye contact with Dyani and waiting for her sisters to reply.

    Her sword continued to slice through the air as she and Dyani performed their own battle dance around each other. Dragonlings fell from the sky and fewer and fewer remained. The air was thick with magick and bursts of dragon fire would alight the area from time to time. What she wouldn’t give to have Branwen here, her sister was like a living battery, plugged into the endless energy of the earth. She and Dyani would be able to carry on for hours without the drain of energy, a thrill that filled her to no end.


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


    Vucan had not dealt with these frail beings before, he was not aware that they were so quick to exhaustion. He would need to remember that as he felt Laelis’ energy waned dangerously low. He had been wondering about these creatures they fought, annoying little knats as they are, when Laelis’ tired voice had matched the depleted feeling emanating off her body.

    “Then it is time for you to head to the caverns young shepherdess.”

    He turned, waiting for the rebuttal that he knew was likely going to touch the young female’s lips when a wave of the Nightmare creatures burst through the barrier and spilled over. Vucan growled in annoyance as the creatures pushed to separate the two of them and gain access to Laelis. But his body was deceiving, it was not frail and easily knocked over and he stood against it like the pounding tide.

    Dragon speech flew from his mouth and dragon flame erupted around them, clearing out a large circle of Nightmares. It was just enough for Vucan to scoop up the injured Laelis and check her wounds. He staunched the bleeding and placed them into a protective barrier so that he could get Laelis to safety. The pounding of the barrier by the darkness only made him pass a smug look to the Nightmares. He held Laelis carefully in his arms as he smiled down at her.

    “So anticlimactic, don’t you think? Perhaps I should have ripped his little arms off for touching you.”
    Vucan tsked.

    “Hold still my young shepherdess, we shall see you to safety.”

    Strange words came forth and in a blink of an eye, Laelis would find herself in the cave where Shalla and Evalynn were sending their people to safety. It was then that Kali’s words filled his mind as she spoke to her sister. Vucan laid Laelis down and inspected her wounds allowing her sisters to fuss over her.

    “Laelis is in the cavern, I will be returning to the post outside to keep the way clear. I suggest you consider sending the last of your people this direction. The entrance will need to be sealed soon to keep these little nuisances out.”

    Vucan turned to Laelis and gave her a nod of his head.

    “Young shepherdess. I will not be far if you need me.”

    Vucan returned to entrance where he and Laelis had been merely moments ago. Without the worry of his young companion, the dragon could focus on keeping the path clear for the others, or going to where he was needed most.

  3. #143
    Beyond Emporium: On the Journey to Death



    Pasce, Princess of Rekōdo and Many Spirits


    Pasce's pale eyes watched the glow in their conjoined hands diminish. The light of it went out in her eyes and as the cold tendrils crept into the deepest depths of her Soul, Pasce looked up at Olivia. She would seem so terribly young, too young for this monumental effort to ever succeed. There was a moment of fear before the coldness finally took her too far for her eyes to see. The light of Olivia's face faded from view, becoming paled and runny and then-

    She was standing in the darkness alone.

    It is quiet, terribly so and still. She feels as if any sound she makes will be swallowed unmercifully by the dark and in the dark she feels so terribly bright. There is a glow to her presence she saw as she looked down at her body. She feels nothing. No fatigue, no longing, the beat of her heart- she touched her chest to be sure and felt nothing- not a rise or fall of her chest. She simply was. She was in the stillness and the darkness. As she looked around and came to terms with what had been done, a small ripple fluttered her long, strawberry blonde hair. It grew stronger, but it was not a wind that pulled her and toyed with her gown and hair, but something else. Something inside. An urge. Pasce turned, tucked renegade strands of her hair behind her ear and looked in the direction the current flowed.

    A bead of light and dark pulsed into existence at what seemed to be a very, very long distance away from her. It seemed to contemplate its opening and then ripple outward. Or was it inward? She felt the pull, stronger now, centered at the very core of her being. The world around her remained largely darkness, but there were ripples in the dark and light traces of color where the opening so far away touched the darkness with a just amount of light. It was like the last light of the sun had revealed itself to her, but never reached her. She was in the darkness of the evening beyond its reach. The distance to where she felt called, excruciatingly far as it seemed, she felt could be crossed with rapidness if she only accepted her fate and let go-

    ~No.~

    The voice of the Forgotten Spirit startled her. She turned around, expecting him to be right behind her at her ear, but he was a little distance off. Sound was swallowed. He seemed close but was far, or was he far? It was almost hard to measure. He was buffeted by the same winds as she. He looked to the light and dark beyond her.

    ~Not yet.~

    His voice sounded like a whisper now, a plea.

    ~You can feel it, can't you?~ Clow asked of her, looking beyond her as well. He stood before the Forgotten man, as if he'd walked right past him, but she hadn't seen him do so. ~The pull beyond. I have felt it with each passing Guild Master as I transitioned to the next, but there were way stations. It was never this strong.~

    J'Adonai looked to Clow, whom he stood beside.

    ~It is like the Paths that my people traveled to get to Rekōdo, but less maddening. I feel the purpose of this place. It beckons us beyond.~

    ~It smells great, doesn't it?~

    They collectively turned to look back at Arxus, who walked up beside them with his thumbs up upon the lapel of his robes. He grinned widely, like a man surveying a field of gold.

    ~Your spy does nice work, Clow, though as a Spirit of Maginus, I must take credit for her prowess in the Arts, even if she is a woman.~

    ~She has sent us far beyond the realms where your Spirits wait, Arxus. You know this is beyond most people of your land, even your men.~

    Capria placed a hand upon her lover's chest and looked at Arxus with a shake of her head. Arxus puffed himself up, but she turned back to the Forgotten Spirit as he clasped her hand on his chest within his own.

    ~And what would you know of it, Capria of Enchantry?~

    Capria took her eyes from her lover, but only for a moment to regard Arxus with contempt.

    ~This is not quite where we were banished after the world Quieted us away. On the thin lip of darkness between the Spirit Realm and this place that leads beyond. We could feel its pull and the pull of life on our Souls. Never quite dead, never quite alive, but absolutely never remembered.~

    Pasce's eyes drifted away from the Spirits, back to the light and dark. She remembered what Olivia said: resist the afterlife's call. She felt it pulling at her more strongly now and it was like a river trying to hard to drag her downstream to its inevitable meet with the ocean. Olivia's eyes looked to the distant glow, the cloud-like ripples in the dark expanse where she stood that faded to color and then to light and dark both. Her mouth opened as if she actually were beginning to reconsider.

    ~It is difficult, isn't it?~ he said and watched her with great consideration. ~It must be with all those Souls under your command and yet you housed them all. It speaks of your strength.~

    And there he was before her, just as she remembered him. Heron, the Protector. Heron the King. Her father. There was gray at his temples and in his hair. His eyes, they were so much like her brother's. So stern, so intelligent. Se could always see behind those eyes, just as she could Eri's.

    ~Papa.~

    Pasce took several, disbelieving steps forward and smiled.

    ~Hello daughter.~ he said fondly.

    ~Hello Father King.~ she whispered back. There were tears in her eyes. ~Father, I've missed you so.~

    ~Don't, Pasce~ Clow said gently, grieved. He offered the past King a bow of his head, but then looked at Pasce who had not turned from the sight of her father to face him. Clow looked to J'Adonai for help, but the calm Spirit was gone. Clow's mouth opened. He looked to Arxus instead, but Arxus was standing terribly still. He watched the Princess and the King. There was a look on his face. He pointed a finger at them. Clow turned around.

    ~We have both missed you~ came a gentle voice. ~And loved you. More than you know.~

    Clow turned in time to see Pasce take another step forward, a small one. The Spirit's mouth opened and he sank to a knee. Behind him, he waited for the sound of Arxus to do the same. Pasce half-looked as if she would turn back to face Clow, to show him, but she could not take her eyes from the fair-haired woman who stood beside her father. I'yana the fair, I'yana the Queen, stood beside her husband and King, forever frozen in her beautiful youth, when as she'd given life to the world, it had taken the life from her body. Heron looked down at his wife and smiled. In the eclipse of the light behind him, his grayed hair looked brown and, for a moment, tuning to look at her brought out the youth in him that Pasce had never known.

    The Spirit of Taroc rose from his taken knee.

    ~Highness~ he said gently. The King and Queen looked past their daughter at Clow. ~Princess~ he clarified. ~You must go back.~

    Pasce turned slightly, but the her eyes yearned to soak in the sight of her mother. Of her father. Of them together. His death was still a fresh wound in her heart. Now he stood with the mother she had never known, only in pictures and stories. Eri had said she looked so much like their mother.

    ~I can't~ she whispered. ~I can't, Clow. Not yet. I just need- I need more- ~

    ~There is never enough time~ he offered remorsefully.

    ~But... But this is my mother.~

    Pasce could not break her eyes from the woman at her father's side. If she could, Clow could call her back. He and Arxus and the lover Spirits could-

    Clow turned for Arxus's support only to find the unending blackness where he once stood. The two lovers seemed terribly distant from him now, as if he and the princess had both moved too dangerously forward. Clow looked at the other Spirits, at the Princess, and then took a step back. He looked back to Capria and the Forgotten again, and Arxus and J'Adonai were with them. Confused, the Spirit of Taroc turned back to call for the Princess again, but she was gone. They were in darkness. Whatever welcoming light that had been offered was gone. Clow looked around.

    ~No~ he said in a deathly whisper. ~No, no, no, no!~

    He whipped around. She couldn't be gone. No. She'd made a promise to his Vessel. She would keep Taroc from falling apart from his foolishness with another Guild Mistress. She was supposed to come back and fix what he could not. Without her, everything would fall apart. All of Rekōdo would be ruined.

    ~Princess!~ he yelled into the dark around them all. ~ Princess! Pasce!~

    Pasce turned her head, vaguely aware that someone was calling her name. But her mother had looped an arm with her father and placed her hand atop his. Her father had called her name, just how she remembered it sounding when he was alive. She turned away from the sounds that called to her and looked at him. He lifted a hand to her. It was an offering to come with them and he united with them again like he knew she wanted.
    Last edited by SilntAngl5; 01-11-2018 at 01:06 PM.
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  4. #144
    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 gives no reaction to Aramil's outrage. At this moment the Taroc soldier considers the word of anyone from Maginus, Da'Jinn, or Astral to be worthless. Da'Jinn and Astral have proven that they can't be trusted in these dark times. Maginus has always been a den of lying serpents. Right now, Colina will only trust Taroc, Shamaa, and Enchantry.

    Despite the priests being truthful during their talk with Branwen, Colina still keeps watching them as they depart. It's always best to keep an eye on someone from Maginus, there's no telling when they'll inevitably stab others in the back.

    Eventually, the priests are a safe distance away, and Colina turns her attention towards Capios. The city is covered in darkness. Colina feels a chill run up her spine as she observes the undulating shadow-like mass. These creatures don't belong in this world.

    Colina closes her eyes and takes in a deep breath. She utilizes meditation techniques to calm herself, and push any fears aside. Such emotions will only get her and her allies killed. Colina knows the only way to fight these Nightmares is to face them without fear.

    She thinks back to the last time she was in Capios. The last time she followed a Guild Master into a dangerous battle. It was the Enchantry Rebellion. Colina was just a private fresh out of boot camp back then. Alain had gathered together a force made primarily of female soldiers. He lead them into Capios, and tried to help pacify the rebelling men of Enchantry. Those were dark days.

    She looks upon the Nightmare shrouded city of Capios. These will be darker days. Their enemies aren't men driven mad by wild magic. Tonight the enemies are monsters made of fear and suffering, born from some hellish place hiding outside of reality. These Nightmares aren't simply out to kill. These beasts thrive on torment and misery.

    Colina double checks her weapon before eventually turning her attention towards her Shamaa allies. She's only the security escort in this mission, it's the Shamaa that are primary force here. Where they lead, she'll follow.

  5. #145
    The Great Orange One Qwaring's clone#1 is offline Qwaring's clone#1's Avatar
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    Alain LeCavalier




    Alain looks up at Darmon and his legion of Nightmare beasts. Alain feels like throwing up again when he hears them. Seeing these monsters only reinforces his resolve to endure for a little while longer. He has to last long enough to end this.

    Some of what Darmon says is meaningless to Alain. He decides it's either the priests cooked Darmon's brain too long, or the Nightmares have driven Darmon well beyond madness. In the end, Alain knows he doesn't care about why Darmon is babbling. None of that really matters at this point.

    Alain shows no fear to Darmon's threats. He knows he'll die. He'll die seeing this beast and his Nightmares sent away from this reality. Even if he fails, and Darmon can follow through with his desires to destroy this world, Alain left Olivia with instructions. O.K. will make sure Nalia and Harbin escape this doomed world. One way or another, his greatest loves will be protected, and that is all Alain needs to know in his final moments.

    When Darmon offers Alain a choice of what kind of death he should be given, Alain looks down at the pistol in his own hand. He laughs at the weapon. In his grasp the weapon is little more than show. At best it would only slay a few of this army of horrors. Darmon would easily replace any Nightmares Alain could destroy. It's doubtful the gun would cause any lasting damage to Darmon's undead body.

    Alain tosses the weapon away. It clatters and tumbles onto the rocks beneath where Darmon hovers.


    "Was there ever a time you wanted what they have?" Alain's voice scrapes out of a throat that should be in too much pain for speech. He raises a weakened arm out towards the horizon to the south-east, towards the people of their continent. "A wife, children, a house? A life beyond this fighting? Beyond the endless stuggle for power? Was there ever a time when you were a human being?"

    Alain's arm drops back towards his side. He's tired. In too much pain. He can feel the Nightmares cutting their way out of the chamber within his mind. They'll be free soon.

    "That's all I ever wanted... In fact, if you didn't invade Taroc, it's what I would have had... All you had to do was stay on your side of the border, and you never would have known I existed... You could have avoided all of these decades of frustration."

    Alain hunches over and begins coughing and hacking. His lungs burn and are refusing his bodies need for air. Blood dribbles out passed his lips. He places his hands on the snow in front of him to keep himself from falling over.

    "Isn't that funny?"

    Alain closes his eyes. It's the end. He's here, on his hands and knees. At the mercy of Darmon and these beasts. His gun, full of mentally controlled elemental bullets, lies beneath Darmon. Alain LeCavalier, the man that could never lose a fight has at last been defeated.

    That was the plan. Alain knew he couldn't win this fight, so he lost it. He threw useless forces at Darmon. He blundered into traps. Allowed himself to be poisoned. Let his mightiest weapons fail him. Panicked. Ran away. Bleeding and scared. Now his defeat is the bait to lure Darmon in so close that he won't be able to escape the trap.

    Alain grins, and with a thought the six bullets in his gun all explode into tendrils of lightning that shoots out towards the sky.The electrical energy doesn't touch anyone. Instead the power of these bolts fills the air between all of them. All any can see is the blinding light. All they can hear is the boom of thunder. A distraction to buy Alain a few moments.

    Another thought, and the coat hidden beneath Alain launches dozens of spears and swords up towards the air above and around the Guild Master. The blades of these weapons will slice and stab into the Nightmares closest to Alain. The metal of their blades are coated with a Da'Jinn toxin that is meant to inflict maximum agony. For the dark forms of the Nightmares this will give them something quite intoxicating to absorb, and leave them in a numbed, euphoric state for a few minutes. Immobilized and quite content to hover and get in the way of other Nightmares that might advance. A barrier to hold off the hordes for just a few seconds.

    A third thought picks Alain up off of the snow, as a large statue rises up from the coat. He's summoned the mysterious statue he had hidden within the coat only minutes ago. Alain is on the shoulders of this herculean statue. He immediately uses every ounce of strength and speed his limbs still have in them, and he scrambles over the statue's shoulders, over its arms, and approaches the rod it holds. A final effort to bring this strategy to its conclusion, and end this conflict.

    Alain's hands of stone and flesh takes hold of the statue's scepter, and he pulls on either side of the metal object. He pulls with every bit of superhuman strength his mystical arm grants him.

    He pulls and hopes he's leaving this world better off than he found it. He hopes Harbin or Olivia gets to grow up to be whatever he or she wants to be, and isn't roped into the Guild Master nonsense like Alain was. He hopes there is an afterlife where he will wait to rejoin his emerald eyed angel.

    He hopes opening this void won't hurt too much.

  6. #146
    Faraking Island of Taroc in Far Western Rekōdo: The Floating Heli'Dom

    Attachment 2307

    Arion, Acting Guild Master of Taroc and Nalia of Enchantry


    Arion turned away from the Princess as all signs of life left her body. He rose as the subtle shift in the Heli'Dom's trajectory is felt with the sudden sinking of his center of gravity to his feet. He widened his stance and glanced at Nalia. She gripped the chair nearest to her and held on tightly. The darkening of the Heli'Dom's lights give Arion a moment to hang his head. He almost wished to command the Heli'Dom to leave the lights off. At least the lamps remained out. He wanted the dark and to be alone. He could have neither, not could he have time to continue to process everything he'd learned.

    The flickering lights drew Nalia's attention and Arion saw her face change and her eyes tear. He turned away again. Arion's eyes looked out around the room for something, anything to get his mind off of his grief and his anger. Arion's crimson eyes found Verona, attending dutifully to her tasks. Silent. Behind the scenes but so very important to everything working and moving and flowing. Arion was across the room before he knew it. He stopped too close to Verona and found he did not know what to say to her. She didn't know. She could not understand. None of them could. He barely did. Arion breathed heavily and his hands balled into fists. Everything he felt threatened to overwhelm him. He needed an escape. He needed to be calm. He needed-

    Arion took Verona's hand softly and, with an infinite amount of gentleness, pulled her to him. Again, so softly, he held her and closed his eyes. He swam in the sound of her Soul Song. Methodical. Predictable, almost. Stable. Calming. Verona would feel a vast amount of tension leave Arion in a rush as he exhaled a shuddering breath. There was still a tightness to him that was not there before, a resistance, something. Arion let his head fall back and he focused on her, just her.

    "Nu'Alu?" Nalia asked in a voice that belayed her fatigue. She offered Olivia a small smile. "There would need to be an exchange, yes."

    Nalia stopped suddenly and turned toward the darkness surrounding Capios. Had enough of them survived to reach the Caverns? Did they remember her protocols in case of an invasion such as this? Did they remember the debt, how to call the O'aris to their aid? Nalia's looked down from Capios and back to Olivia. She smiled again, softly, trying so hard to hide her worry.

    "They are not a fan of guina, but they will allow you. You have been marked as my friend."

    They would not be Olivia's sort of fun, not the kind Nalia knew she would like after they survive all of this and have a moment of peace. They would survive this, wouldn't they? That's what she had to make herself believe? Olivia's next suggestion made Nalia's smile deepen, but it was tainted by sadness.

    "I am afraid I left my beach body elsewhere" she said and, for a moment, looked like she might laugh. The laughter never came. Nalia thought distantly of Astral. She had been to Lake Doras as a child. She remembered Siadharri was crowded with tourists, always busy as a hot spot for vacations. They had a lake by her house just outside Dayena-

    "Do you think they would let me in?"

    Her voice had changed to something quiet. She had not been to Astral since Alain had taken her away from there. She does not have long to swell on it. The flash of light and a sudden absence of a portion of the darkness caught her attention. Her thoughts, like Olivia's, instantly went to those she knew who were supposed to be there. Nalia feels her heart pounding within her chest. It is echoed by the kicks and movements of Alain's child within her. Nalia's hand tightened on the chair she held. She turned away from Olivia, from the others and looked out at Capios again.

    Arion had put his head down on Verona's shoulder for just a moment. He lifted it and stepped back from Verona only when Olivia spoke to him. His hands lingered on Verona's upper arms for a moment before giving her a gentle squeeze and releasing her. He walked forward toward Olivia's end of the room. He paused a moment to look at Nalia. His brow furrowed and his lips pursed into a line at the sight of how hard she gripped her chair.

    "I' is. I've seen i' " he said and looked back at Olivia. "Th' sunrise is beautiful on th' water. I' pain's the sky in pastel colors an oranges of every hue. I' reflec's on the water like diamonds."

    Arion chanced a glance at Nalia again, but she was not looking at any of them. Her grip n the chair had relaxed, but he could tell she was taking deep breaths to self-calm.

    "Were you any good a' i'?" he asked Olivia while still looking at Nalia. he turned back to face the Necromancer. "Th' piano, I mean."

  7. #147
    The World of Dreams





    Zarena, a Dream Speaker


    Zarena nodded to Branwen.

    "We will do what we can."

    The sister of Mindoka's last Second, Zareb, bowed her head. The smirk that had reignited on her face from Branwen's comment faded. She took a knee where she and the Maloto Tribe of Dream Speakers had formed a line in the damp, rocky sand. The others of her tribe followed suit. Zarena put her fist to the wet earth and then opened her palm to feel it become a second skin along the lines of her hand. Then her eyes closed. She inhaled deeply and the soft, long breath she let out seemed to echo and drift away on the wind.

    The snow swirled around her and then upward as if stunned. For a moment, the flakes that had fallen through the air hung in suspension, twirling on their pinprick axes. The darkness of the cloudy sky was relieved by a tiny wellspring of light. The Dream Paint on the Dream Speakers' bodies began to glow softly and illumine their features with an abundance of light and shadow. The paint on Branwen and all the warriors here to guard them glowed as well. If they so chose, they could accompany them into the Dream World or stay present on the island and vigilant with a connection to those who now walked in Dreams.

    They did not need to sleep. These warriors could open a door to the Dream World with a thought. The Nightmare door was opened to their world and now they opened the peace of Dreams. Nightmares were supposed to creep into the world through gateways at night while people slept. Dreams had the pleasure of being able to slip in to the world at anytime, while the world slept or moved.

    When Zarena opened her eyes, the world around them was pale and white. Distant haze covered the horizon where Capios lay. The dim brightness of the moon alit the eastern sky. There was a dimness to the pastel sky, but the world around them maintained a sort of brightness that self-illuminated. The tides did not move. the oceans were stationary, static on the edges where the water lapped into the sand in the waking world. Such constant movement could not be kept up with here. The permanent objects: trees, rocks, natural landscapes and building remained, but the ghosts of things that moved flickered in and out of existence here: animals once sleeping now on the move, buildings once standing now fallen, a jacket place one place at night, now moved during the day. This world was a Second home to the Maloto Tribe. When Zarena and the rest of the Dream Speakers opened her eyes they confirmed each others' presence and the presence of any on the Dragon Scale Island who chose to come with them. Then they stood.

    Zarena looked toward Capios. the island seemed impeccably untouched here. Every building, every tree seemed perfect. Zarena knew, if they were closer, they would see certain buildings beginning to become static, flickering in and touch of the reality here as their permanence int he waking world became threatened. There was a darkness to the haze of Capios, something not in this realm, but so overpowering that it's presence seeped into vision, like an ink stain on a watercolor painting.

    "We are not here for direct combat" Zarena clarified to her tribe, though it was entirely unnecessary. Everyone where knew exactly what the plan was, but the strength of her voice provided reassurance. "The Sisters of the Enchantry Guild will be fighting the Nightmares as their Guild Mistress has taught them. We will be a counterbalance and help them turn the tide of fear that has infected the land."

    Zarena's dark eyes looked to each person present and then she motioned them forward. They took a step, each of them, and disappeared. Within an eye-blink, they were upon the sandy beaches of Capios. There was no time for words. Zarena knelt quickly and plunged her hand to the ground. Immediately she closed her eyes and lifted her face. Her mouth parted lightly and exhaled a breath that echoed among the silence of this realm. From her palm sprung forth light. It seemed to seep into the ground and spread forward from her hand. It trickled up the slopes of the island's many hills.

    "Courage" she whispered. "Strength. To this I offer the infected lands of the waking world."

    There were echoes behind her, other offerings from other members of the tribe. Fearlessness, hope, bravery, fortitude. All their dream energy melted into the island of Capios.

    "I call upon the Spirits of the Land. I call upon the Spirits of the Sea and Air. Hear me, O Ancestors. Come forth brethren of nature and heal the dying land. Join with our Shamaa Sisters on this island and send back the blight that obliterates this land of all its life and hope. Hear me, O Spirits. Hear my call."

    The words were repeated by her tribe in echo and sent forth into the Dream World. As the people of Capios ran through the snow in terror toward the Caverns, their footprints in the snow would glow with Dream Light. The fear inflicted upon them by the darkness all around was stymied with the light of the Dream World. Sparks of Dream energy twinkled in the air as the azure light of Animal Spirits began to swirl into existence. Spirits that have walked and watched this island for hundreds of years came forth to help expel the darkness all around. An Army of light had awakened on Capios.

    The Animal Spirits manifested on the Dragon Scale Island. They appeared and bounded by he warriors and Branwen and report to her what happened on Capios. The Spirits of the air told her of the fight taking place from their great height advantage. The Spirits of the land spoke of the Dire Wolves carrying people to safety.
    They spoke of the caverns being opened up, but did not explain further what the Caverns were. The Spirits of the Sea swam by and told her of the O'aris and the people they ferried to safety beneath the waters.

    The light of the Shamaa Dream Speakers was taking effect. Hope was returning despite the unlikely victory of the situation. The Spirits whispered of this and they also whispered of a different kind of magik being used.
    The Dark Arts. They whispered of undead spirits on Capios. Ancestral Spirits following those who are marked,
    protecting them.

    An army has come to Capios. An army as diverse as the Sisters who wear its emerald colors.

  8. #148
    The Island of Capios: In the Heart of the City, by the Seven White Pillars



    Dyani of the Border Forests



    Dyani instantly put her back to Kali's and surveyed the hoard around them with her blue, hawkish glare. She bore her teeth in the Shamaa way of challenge during a sparring match or battle. She did not fear these beasts. She abhorred them from the deepest part of her Soul. Dyani moved in tandem with Kali, like they were one warrior fighting in singularity. They had developed a fighting rapport together when Dyani held her training sessions. When such fighting tactics needed to be modeled, she often called on Kali to help her demonstrate. She had always stressed the importance of going into battle with those you could trust with your life. If you could sense and feel their thoughts and actions amid the chaos of war, even better. Dyani's blue eyes counterbalanced Kali's red. Her skin shone with sweat and signs of battle, but no major wounds had been scored. For this, Dyani was put on Emporium. Her hawk Spirit Animal soared and called forth its cries, echoing Dyani's voice as it was raised high in the adrenaline rush of battle.

    "The pillars are stone!" she shouted over the sounds of her fighting knives and the howls of Nightmares as they perished by them. "With no hope of the shield's return, they are nothing to us now."

    Dyani's muscles shone with perspiration and when she was able to pause in her swordplay and recenter her stance, she breathed rapidly and deeply.

    "The Nightmares will go for the people, not the stone. They remain here only for us, nothing more." She advanced, aprting her back from Kali's only for a moment before back-stepping in return to her post. "We must abandon the pillars altogether and save the Sisters that protect them."

    Dyani was not so consumed by battle that she failed to hear Kali's call to their Sisters. She hesitated in her next blade sling, recovered and struck the blow, then glanced over her shoulder at Kali.

    "Why do they not answer?" Dyani shouted with a note of panic rising in her voice. "Where are they!?"

    It was close enough to fear that Nightmares capitalized on it. All around Kali, the mauled corpses of Fateema and Merriam rained down upon the stone road. Each body was grotesquely undone in a different way that the others. Dyani knew it for what it was and let out a savage scream of anger. The sure of rage reinvigorated her exhausting limbs and filled her with energy that would not be matched by the blights that invaded her guild-home. She lunged away from Kali and took on the massive hoard that advanced in anger. Her blades swung unmercifully and ruined everything that came before her. She would kill every last dark thing on this island with her knives and her rage.



    -+-



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




    Evalynn Agravaine of Maginus, Shalla of Tuah and Laelis of Lymes


    There were flames that danced all around them and in the flames, the demons of the dark screeched and howled. For a moment, as they were consumed by the draconic fires, they appeared as one with them, flickering like dark, licking tongues of shadow before they became more like ash and deteriorated into the frigid wintry winds. Such was what she saw in her pain-filled sight.

    Then she was lifted from the ground, but all she heard was her own labored breathing. Her eyes closed, fought against their own heaviness and snapped open when Vucan checked on her. The gash ran from her right hip to her left shoulder. She was bleeding heavily, but not fatally. Not yet. It was a grievous wound that would turn if not treated and then treated again against Nightmare infection. The staunching hurt and she did her best to not cry out from it. She knew she did. She felt herself tense and arch at the lightning strikes of pain that radiated outward from his touch. Everything grew fuzzy as he worked and her when she closed her eyes, they were not where they once were when they opened again. They were moving, she realized. He was running. There was a dull sound of slamming and pounding as the Nightmares lunged and attacked the two, but the protective shield stopped them with the heavy sound. Her eyes closed again and when they opened he looked down at her and smiled.

    She heard his words, but her mind was moving at annoyingly slow speed. There seemed to be two voices there. Maybe three. Something about tipping arms off and something being open and pillars standing. She could not make sense of it all. The noise she made in reply to Vucan was one of pain. Her head lulled into the rough armor and scales he wore.

    "It hurts" she managed in a small voice that could easily be missed among the constant, erratic pounding against his shield. She closed her eyes-

    -and suddenly the air changed. She half-opened her gray irises and the white of the city and black of the sky was replaced by lush greens and dark blues of the Caverns. She could hear the sounds of distant, rushing water. She knew this place. Nalia had brought them here to teach them and prepare them. Her eyes closed again and she exhaled a soft, relieved breath. She was not aware of the shock and start Vucan's sudden appearance gave to the people huddled on the shores of the great lake beneath the Palace. They started with gasps and cries loud enough to cause Evalynn to turn sharply with her light-tipped spear in hand and at the ready. When she saw it was Vucan and that he held someone with the white cloak of the White Towers in his arms, Evalynn immediately ran to them. Any in her way were moved to the side and she fell to her knees across from where Vucan knelt to check her wounds. Evalynn could not speak and no noise left her lips, but it was clear on her face that the sight of Laelis and the length and gravity of her wound upset her. Evalynn's elegant fingers came to Laelis's face and touched her cheeks lightly. Lelis's head fell from one side to the other under her touch. Evalynn's breathing grew distressed, everything about her did as she touched Laelis face to try wake her. Laelis's eyes opened, saw Evalynn, and gave her cause to smile lightly, but her lids were heavy and too soon fell back to being closed again.

    Something about her smile or the fact that she opened her eyes instantly calmed Evalynn. Vucan would see her take in a deep, calming breath of the cool cave air and released it. Her blond brow furrowed and set as she sent forth a mental call for healers to come to her. As she did so, Laelis opened her eyes and looked around again. At Vucan's voice, Laelis managed to bring her glance upward to his. She closed and opened her eyes very slowly and the fingers of her right hand twitched as if she meant to reach for him, but nothing more came of the gesture. Her eyes fell closed again as two Sisters and a Novice who wore the white hoods and cloaks of the Towers arrived and knelt at Laelis's side.

    ~Laelis is injured~ Evalynn sent out to Fateema, Merriam, Kali and Dyani. Shalla heard her and whipped around so rapidly in the frigid cave waters that the O'aris there startled. They followed her line of sight, holding their weapons at the rady, but saw it was the One-who-shared-her-space on the hillside that captivated her eyes. Their weapons relaxed. The others would hear the worry in her mental voice. She could not keep that from them. Laelis listened to the Sisters of the White Towers speak to each other as they worked to cut away the fabric of Laelis' blood-stained white shirt and emerald vestment and check the severity of her wounds. They were careful of modesty, but worked in rapid fashion. There were so many injured, but Laelis was the representative of Astral and the White Towers on the Council. She was, by rank, the highest in command here and took priority.

    ~She is here with me in the Caverns. Vucan brought her here.~ Evalynn paused a moment. The Sisters in her mental connection would feel her still present, but waiting for something. ~Her wound is grave. I cannot wake her, but... I think she can be healed. There are Sisters of the White Towers with her now.~

    Another pause. They would feel Evalynn's distress welling up again and then being forced back down. The edge of it clung to her voice.

    ~Come to the Caverns, all of you. The O'aris are ferrying our people to safety. We must go with them.~

    Evalynn's hand left Laelis's shoulder. Her last message was as much for the healers whose white light began to glow as it was for her Sisters.

    ~Please hurry~ she whispered in a way that shared all her fears silently and privately with her fellow S.



    -+-



    The Island of Capios: Heading Toward The Caverns




    The Dire Wolves of the Ailes and The Soul of Sacha of Windf'rte



    He followed the living wherever they were on the island and saw no more of the Dire Wolves, though he now knew they were here. Why he could not see them remained a mystery, but as much as he wanted to ponder and solve that puzzle, his mind was very much elsewhere on his task. He had come to protect the Souls of the living from the dark beasts that sought to destroy them. The living seemed to be driven in one direction. Those that were moving faster than humans could travel, he assumed, were traveling with the Wolves. There were many of them that he could discern from this and they all headed west. So it was west he went and followed them.

    But the dark things were catching up. He knew this. He could feel the dark tidal wave encroaching behind him as he ran without needing to turn around to witness it with his eyes. The feel of it made the hair on the back of his neck raise and his flesh prickle with goosebumps. The cluster of shining runes billowed in the air behind him like a bunch of balloons. Their meager light held the dark things at bay for the moment. It would not forever.

    He was trying to formulate a plan to return undetected to the island where his body, his Advisor, and the Shamaa gathered to aid this doomed land in what ways they could offer when he came upon the edge of the forest. He slid to a halt before the sudden appearance of trees aside the stone streets and well before the large, stone cliff rose up. Atop it was the White Palace with emerald green domes. He looked way up at the vastness of the cliff and the greatness of the forest. There were trees just a ways down from where he'd spilled unceremoniously from the winding roads onto the main streets. The trees seemed to be made of light. They glowed like the large bulbs of the lighthouses in Windf'rte and Al'Rora beside it. They too kept the dark things at bay. He could see, not that they caught his attention, that several more like them, a dozen possibly more, dotted the canopy of the thick forest like runway lights for the magiked trains, limos, flying ships and other floats of merriment and travel to the southeast in Rekōdo City. He saw that they led straight to the cliff face.

    He could not go there to continue to protect the living, though. The Nightmares had arrived.

    Their massive presence echoed and whispered and it sent his body into high alert. His free hand twitched at his side where his arms were splayed in a ready stance. He turned slowly to face the wall of darkness that had risen to massive heights before him. His blue eyes, even with the transparency that came with being nothing but a wandering Soul, held a grace note of danger to them. The skills he picked up during his time as a homeless orphan on the streets of Windf'rte and then when he was caught and sold into the Blood Sport kicked into high gear. His breathing back on the island where his body was became terribly slow. The Shepherd's Crook he planted lightly with its half-arrowhead tip on the stone ground. He faced the wall of darkness that loomed and bent at the top like a tsunami about to crest and break down upon a doomed land with an unforgiving amount of strength and death. Things within the dark wall moved. Eyes opened, claws stretched out, maws opened. Things hissed and jeered and cajoled and frothed with sounds of anger and rage at their meals being stricken from them. At the top, dark creatures leered over, loomed and waited with anticipation that seemed to shiver down the entirety of the tide, down to the very last beast at the bottom of the pile.

    He could feel their dread sinking over him, washing upon him like a tidewater of tar. It came upon him and went through him. There was no substance to latch onto and their attempt to drag him down into a pit of fear failed. The tide of Nightmares twitched and the instability of their unity grew until the wall waved from the bottom upward. Those that hung over at the top of the wall swayed so violently that the wall crested forward and broke. From above, the Nightmares came raining down upon him and their claws and maws were ready to receive him and devour him.

    Lifted the butt of his rune-carved crook from the ground. He levied it behind him, the hook extended behind him, as the cascade of darkness came raining down upon him. His piercing, blue eyes narrowed as the dark falls blotted out all else before him as if he were closing the eyes of his life for the last time.

    ~I'm ready.~

    His Soul was a whisper of deathly quiet. He did not hear them, their triumphant screams and howls as they descended upon him in a massive tidal wave. He faced the oncoming darkness unblinking. He only heard his own distant breathing on an island not far from here. The ocean's waves upon the shore where he stood even farther away. Sacha's blue eyes looked up unblinking at the talons and maws that opened wide to devour him. He waited, painfully patient, as if he had all the time int eh world to decide his fate. He inhaled an echo of what a living breath was. Then slid his left foot back. The runes carved up and along the entirety of his Shepherd's Crook began to glow until the space where he stood was illumined like a star of violet-blue light. It reflected in his eyes and in the horrified, pitch blackness of the first few Nightmares to realize their error. Sacha was not afraid, not even as the face of darkness came to swallow him whole.

    As the Nightmare screams turned violent with outrage at his defiance, Sacha moved. Without mercy, the darkness enveloped his light. The last that could be seen of the Shepherd of Souls was his blue crook as it was spun upward to lash out at the first of too many dark beasts that wanted nothing more than to consume the light of his Soul and remove him from this world with more suffering than he could ever imagine.



    -+-



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



    Fateema of Ordh'u, Merriam of Clow



    Fateema fell to her knees hard upon the marbled white stone floor of the balcony of the rotunda room. Strands of long, beautiful dark hair fell from the sanctity of her shawl as she opened her mouth wide and heaved up a mixture of saliva and dark, tarry substance onto the floor. She gagged and her back arched against the desire to purge her insides of the darkness that was eating at her Soul, but she continued to retch up she shook so badly that her arms threatened to give way. Saliva continued to run from her mouth as she closed her eyes against the tide of nausea and dizziness that overcame her. She felt a hand slide around her waist and the other across her chest as she was pulled back against Merriam's body. The plump Taroc woman was breathing heavily and sweating, but she held the Acting Second of Enchantry to her body with all the strength she could muster. The back of Fateema's head rested limply on her right shoulder. Merriam reached her hand from around Fateema's stomach to tuck one of her long, renegade locks back behind her ear and beneath her shawl. Outside the white palace with the beloved emerald domes, the Efreet of Water and Jinn of Earth dissipated in a showed of leaves and rain as their Summoner succumbed to the constant lashing to her Soul. Outwardly, there was no sign of injury to her person. The damage and infection was all inward.

    Merriam's eyes were closed as she breathed heavily and tried to regain her composure. In her arms, Fateema shivered and shook. She made strained noises, as if she were fighting a terrible amount of pain. Merriam turned her head and adjusted the Head Architect so she could see her eyes. They were opened, wide and distant. Tendrils of darkness, like veins in bloodshot eyes, snaked through her whites to her irises. Merriam sat back, pulled Fateema protectively closer to her, and closed her eyes. In her calmer state, she was able to hear both Kali's call and Evalynn's message. She placed one hand on Fateema's forehead and held her head back. The other fumbled with the collar of her blouse and emerald vest.

    ~Kali, Dyani, Shalla, Evalynn... It's Merriam.~

    They would know her for who she was, but with all the fear and darkness, she inwardly felt that saying her name might bring them all some comfort.

    ~I am with Fateema. We are still in the palace. She- ~Merriam's mental voice broke and regained itself within the span of seconds. She managed to unbutton the collar of her blouse and grabbed for a necklace beneath on a simple thread of thick string. ~She's been infected.~

    A thick silence hung in the mental air between them, each busy attending to their own perils. Merriam pulled up from her bodice a pale crystal that hung on a cord of crimson. She pulled it up and over her head and then placed it around Fateema's neck. She tucked the crystal gently beneath her friend's pristine, white collar so that the cold stone laid on her skin. Fateema's body jerked, but Merriam modestly adjusted her blouse over the gem and then held it there against her skin.

    "Don't fight it" she whispered into Fateema's ear as she held her Sister close. "Don't fight it, Fateema. Control the visions they show you. They are only false."

    The Clearing Crystals, as they had been named, were a gift from Enchantry to Taroc upon its conception. Enchantry gave a gift to each province and this was given to Alain of Taroc to heal his people of the Burning Clarity that ravaged and inflicted pain upon so many Seers of their land. Merriam had been given hers and, in her own time, had come to Enchantry to repay that kindness. She now represented Taroc on the Council of Enchantry. The crystals were of the Caverns below and in endless supply. They hum with the Old Magik that clashed the Burning Clarity had to clash again modern magik and, with small exposures to it through the crystal against the skin over time, the tug-of-war over their Souls would lessen until they could control their visions. It takes training to learn how to manipulate the Old Magik so it does not manifest as chaos upon the Soul, something that every woman on Enchantry would have mastered before being given their Emerald Cloak. it does not cure the ailment, but it helps the afflicted control it.

    Merriam hoped that Fateema's infection would be similar enough to the Burning Clarity that the presence of her crystal could help recenter Fateema's mind and allow her some control over her visions. Merriam was not a healer. She could offer Fateema nothing else in the form of healing. Merriam dragged Fateema over to the nearest round pillar within the rotunda room. She leaned against it and pulled her friend to her there. Merriam's mind began to work quickly. She looked out the rotunda at the darkness and the snow. Darkness began to pool in curious hunger outside the upper tiers of the palace. Their search was ravenous, as if starving. In her arms, Fateema jerked occasionally and trembled. Merriam kept her hand on her blouse over the crystal and her other hand grasped her friends' and held it tightly.

    ~I do not think there is escape for us from this place. I used too much to aide Fateema~ she told her Sisters sadly. She was beginning to breath faster as the darkness outside began to blot out the falling snow. ~They search for us. They know we are here.~

    ~Do you have enough left to teleport?~

    Evalynn's voice was calmer now, but Merriam knew her girls well enough to know the sound of worry in their voices. Merriam shook her head as if her Sisters could see it.

    ~No. Not yet~ she said evenly. She breathed in and exhaled calm."I just need a moment."

    A moment she did not have. Dark, exploratory tendrils were beginning to creep along the balcony rails. They threaded to the ceiling and floors and snailed their ways in. Merriam scooted herself and Fateema farther back.

    ~Do it blind.~

    Shalla's voice joined in quickly. Something about her voice sounded strained, distant. Within the Cavern's frigid water, Shalla was getting terribly cold. Again, Merriam shook her head. She was moving slowly, cautiously as she tried to pull Fateema farther back into the rotunda's large room.

    ~It is too risky~ she hurried in a hushed mental voice. ~I don't know where we wound end up, if we'd even reappear together- ~

    ~You just need to get far enough away that they won't detect you.~

    ~We can send a squad to get you~ Evalynn offered desperately. ~If you can hold out a little longer, I can organize it and- ~

    ~No.~

    Merriam's voice was direct.

    ~No~ she said more softly to them. ~We can't risk it. Kali, get the others to the Cavern. Evalynn, continue to aid Shalla with the evacuation.~

    Merriam fumbled again, this time at her belt, with a small, velvet pouch she had tied there.

    ~We will make it~ she assured Evalynn more than the others. Merriam pulled a small, round orb of clear dragon glass from her small pouch. It was heavy and small enough to be enclosed within the palm of her hand, like a small, rubber ball. The dark tendrils moved faster now and coalesced into a massive, blob of darkness before the trapped Sisters. She rolled the clear sphere of glass in her hand. Her brown eyes looked up at the darkness before her. They could smell Merriam's fear, their kin within the other beside her.

    ~We will make it~ she swore again to her Sisters as the great darkness developed eight slits of eyes and a wide, gaping mouth of jagged, razor teeth. Merriam's voice dropped to a whisper. ~I promise.~
    Last edited by SilntAngl5; 01-15-2018 at 07:46 AM.

  9. #149
    The Ailes Bones: The Cross-Shaped Island


    Attachment 2304

    Darmon, The Returned




    He'd waited far beyond his limit of patience. The Master of Maginus considered leaving the well on the Hydrus Island. Perhaps the girl had drowned after all. The others before her had all perished from what lurked beneath the island. He did not think drowning in Enchanted waters was possible, though he'd not fully explored that possibility. Such magik-stripping water was foreign to Maginus, or at least it had been until he'd discovered this well. The problem was finding someone he could send down it that didn't die. He would not dare think about entering it and exiting wherever it led with no power. If his suspicions were correct, it lead to a Dragon's cave. He had been studying this island for some time. If the girl died here, it would cause consequences with Taroc. Darmon sighed audibly. He could care less about how Taroc would cry over a lost problem child, but the thought of how it would distress LeCavalier brought a dark smile to his face. If the girl did not survive the trip down the well, then he would find someone who would. Or he would find a way to counteract the Old Magik that tore all modern magik away from the wielder. That would take many worthless off the streets of Maginus. There was always a need for warm bodies.

    From across the island, there was a distant splashing sound and then shouts and cries. Darmon whipped around and then abandoned the well altogether. He ran through the snow and over the steep terrain until it suddenly leveled out and the trees began to thin out. Then there was sand and hit boots hit the edge of the beach. His icy blue eyes stared out at the freezing water. Thick mist shrouded everything. It was almost impossible to see.

    If it was not for her red cloak and the boiling sea ice around her, he might not have seen her clutching a piece of the melting, frozen sea. She called out, but her voice was a weak whisper and a plume of white lost among the mist. Darmon walked out onto the water and beneath each step he took, the water froze. He had one hand out and his fingertips glowed with dark blue light. He walked right up to the child as she shivered uncontrollably in the freezing cold water. All around her steam rose up from the melted ice. It spiraled upward from her with a soft hiss as if she were on fire. The only hole in the frozen ice was where she had surfaced from beneath the lake. To his knowledge, the girl did not possess any magik specific to pyrotechnics. Since she had gone through the well, she should be completely magik-less, unless something in the Sea of Serpens reversed the effects. And if she was magik-less, then the dark things inside her-

    The girl's emerald eyes looked up at him and she managed to free a badly shaking hand to reach out to him. He stared down at her with cold, uncaring eyes as his brain began to piece a few things together. Then he straightened.


    "Thank you" he told her. "I know exactly what we need to do now."

    There was a cave beneath the island accessed via the well. He had suspected that, but now he knew. What he had not known was of there was a second way in to the cave. He would not enter it through the tainted well. Now that he had a confirmed an exit from the cave- how else would the girl have ended back up in the sea if there wasn't one?- he knew he there was a second way to access it. One that didn't involve powerlessness and vulnerability. Already, his mind was formulating a plan.

    The girl's eyes grew desperate and distant from the cold. Darmon watched her and then grimaced in annoyance. He reached down with his non-glowing hand and grabbed her by the soaking wet hood of her cloak. He pulled the sopping wet girl form the water and set her down on the cold ice. Her body wracked itself continuously with shivering. She pulled her soaked cloak around her body and huddled close to Darmon without touching him. He looked at the pathetic sight beside him and sighed.


    "You are not entirely useless to me after all, Nalia."

    The raven-haired girl looked up at him. She continued to shiver. Her face had grown pale with cold. As he looked upon her, he realized that she might actually expire if he did not tend to her. Darmon's blue eyes flared with blue-black light. From the thick mists and fog, a clap of thunder ruptured the still silence of the snowfall. A second, sharp sound of it echoed the first and a bolt of lightning came down and struck the ice where they stood. Steam boiled up from the sudden collision of heat and cold, but the two were gone.

    Nalia had been dumped back into Taroc's space shortly thereafter. Wherever Alain LeCavalier was, if teleportation was permitted, the girl was dumped there, shivering wet and cold in her red Taroc cloak and gown. Darmon would later tell LeCavalier that the girl was reckless, foolish and had fallen into the icy water by her own clumsiness. She had only been a ward of Taroc and Maginus for a short while, but it was clear the careful, quiet and watchful child from Astral was anything but. After that, she had refused to go to Maginus. She never did speak as to why or what happened, but she would quietly ask the Alain to let her stay in Taroc. She never begged aloud, but it was in her eyes. It was the beginning of a relationship between Nalia al'Vatar and Darmon of Maginus that would be the catalyst to the downfall of Rekōdo.




    -+-



    "No."

    The word came without hesitation to answer Alain's questions. All of them. He seemed to ponder Alain's attempt at swaying some sort of mercy or humanity out of him, but such weaknesses were long gone from him now, if they had ever been there to begin with. He hovered there, cloak battering the air above the snow-covered ground, and listened to Alain speak. The entirety of the time his mortal and now immortal enemy spoke, a sour look of disgust remained upon his face.

    "I have done all I have wanted in you, LeCavalier" he said, speaking to Alain's misery at being denied everything he'd hoped and dreamed for. A home, a family, freedom from the burden of power that they bore. "These decades of battle between you and I have been like a puzzle for me, one I have yearned and craved to solve."

    Oddly enough, this was the most decent conversation had between the two Guild Masters. It was honest.

    "All you had to do was put yourself out of your misery with that pistol-" He nodded to the one tossed below him. "- the second Clow came into your mind and you could have saved yourself all this torment. You provided me with a challenge, LeCavalier, a thing to conquer and destroy. I have pleasured in torturing you slowly these decades since you and I became Kings of our chessboard. The war, your allies, your arm, High Council meetings, the girl-" He'd gotten hung up on that old memory of her, when his great plans first started to take shape. "- Nalia. If only I could have broken her before we came to this. It could have ruined you and brought me great joy, but you've done that for yourself... Haven't you?"

    LeCavalier bent and began to heave in weakness and pitiful mortality. Darmon looked with disdain down at him, the same way he'd looked upon a huddled, freezing child in a red cloak two decades ago on a night just like this.

    "Without Clow" he said finally. "As you are now... You are not worth knowing."

    Darmon raised a hand. It shifted and distorted horribly where Nalia's hand had imprinted Nightmare decay onto his wrist. From his own body came a sword of bone that pierced and impale through his skin to point down at the fallen Alain LeCavalier. Darmon lifted it back to strike him. When the Master of Taroc looked up at him, he had only a fraction of time to register his smile before everything around him exploded.

    The Nightmares around him let out a horrible sound as a toxic brightness filled the air around them and between them. There was a sickening sizzle as their tarry pitch boiled and burnt off their shapeless bodies. Darmon, too is blinded by the light and raised his bone-sword hand to shield his undead eyes. He heard the sound of blades being drawn and then the piercing shriek of Nightmares as they are impaled. Then the ones nearest go suddenly silent. I the spotted remnants of light that clogged his vision, the Nightmares closest to Alain hovered lifelessly in the air. They clouded together like a black fog and shrouded the Master of Taroc in a haze of darkness.

    Then the ground behind the haze ruptured and a statue taller than any man living on Emporium bursts into presence before them. The air begins to hum wildly with the charged elements, the conflict and clash of modern magik against the sudden surplus of Old. The iris-less statue of a man stared down at Darmon, tilted at an odd angle from where it had gone uncared for for Liar'Adon knew how long on this spit of hills and pines. Darmon's violet, glowing eyes behold the titan-statue before him.

    "What is this!?" he yelled to LeCavalier. When Alain grasped the rod in the statue's hand, Darmon realized it was metal. An object. Then Alain pulled the rod apart from where the giant half obelisk, half man held it out in his left hand. It was only in a moment, just a breath in time that Darmon realized the magikal signatures of the arm and the rod were the same.

    Cracks of light appear in the rod and brighten the darkness around them. When the rod finally give in to Alain's titanic strength, a lightning bolt of crimson and yellow light pierce downward into the ground at Alain's feet and upward into the clouded sky. The air all around them became charged and both the land and the sky trembled with the outpouring of universal energy stored within the rod. Anything touching or around it would feel its ancient power. The clouds swirled above the island's great cliff where the statue had been concealed by time and nature and flickered with the promise of a great storm. The ground at their feat tingled with paralyzing energy as the energy released by the broken rod grew until the statue itself seemed to be overwhelmed by it. It began to crack in half, but unlike the earth being torn apart in its own natural quakes, the line of rupture was vertical and perfectly straight. The line of light split the statue perfectly in half and then, with a great rumbling of the earth as the stone moved, cleaved itself open. Within the statue was a field of starlight. It stretched onward and had no ending. The void within the star field began to pull at this world, full of so much life and chaos and energies.

    Having touched the rod and activated its power, Alain opened a gateway to the void. Any who fell within would never be able to escape. Their powers would be sapped from them and the more they tried to flee and cross the starry rift in space, the more weakened they would become. The massive amount of energy in the sky and in the land began to rain lightning down upon Emporium. It is an ancient weapon that was used to create this powerless rift in space where place and time had no meaning. Its energies made it capable of destroying any army Rekōdo could muster. Alain was the one who broke the rod and the rod listened to the one who activated its chasm of power and powerlessness.

    It struck out at the Nightmares and anything that housed them.

    Bolts of lightning energy stabbed downward from the sky and impaled the Nightmare members with jagged bolts of energy. The air was filled with the sounds of their demise. Nightmares shrieked and wailed as they were burnt into ash and sucked into the massive, starry expanse. Darmon was run through. He threw his head back as the sky unleashed a bolt of pure energy large enough to divide him in half. The light of it filled his gaping mouth, and overcame the violet, undead glow of his eyes. Dark, pitch and ichor burnt and boiled within him, making blistering welts across his skin. It ran from his eyes and his mouth and nose outward to the damning pull of the rift. He housed them now. They were his to command and control and they held onto him with their claws and teeth as the void consumed them. Darmon felt himself being ripped apart from the inside. the fragile spells and blood symbols that held his Spirit to this earth were being burnt away.

    He was becoming lost. He felt his hold on this plane waning. Somehow, despite everything, Alain LeCavalier had just enough strength to continue their decades long feud. He was a fool for thinking him bested. Darmon clenched his fists and threw back his head in rage. He let loose a cry so volatile and deafening that the entire island shook with his insatiable wrath.

  10. #150
    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...


    "Ah, Nalia, you know very well that when you travel with me it doesn't matter if we're allowed to go," Olivia tells her friend, as Nalia wonders if she would be allowed to enter Astral.

    "They'll let you back," Verona comments. "Astral has more blood on its hands than you do. After what Herotus and Adaya did, Astral no longer has the moral high ground to exile you."

    When Arion asks if Olivia was good at playing the piano the necromancer stares out of the window and into the darkness. Maginus noble families often have their daughters tutored in some non-academic area of study, such as art or music. It's a way to show off how mentally fit the girl is, and show potential husbands that she will give him intelligent sons. A daughter well trained in music is quite the boon for a noble family looking to sell or trade her as a wife to the son of another noble family.

    Olivia still remembers hours of every day spent at the piano. Practicing. Practicing. Practicing. Every mistake being corrected with a sharp strike from her tutor's cane. No amount of progress ever seemed to satisfy her parents. She had to be the perfect bride to fetch them the payment the Kuhrson family deserved. No amount of painful hits could prevent every mistake.

    The undead necromancer realizes that the old music instructor is probably long dead by now. That thought allows Olivia to find a smile. She then recalls the piano Volkov, her husband, had owned. It was an old beast of a thing that barely fit into their modest house, but it had been in his family for generations. There were winter days where Olivia and Volkov would play together. She never missed a note.


    "I don't like to brag, but I can play the classics quite well," Olivia replies to Arion. "My rendition of 'Deanna Under Moonlight' has been known to make grown men weep."

    Then the storm of red and gold lightning erupts over the island where the fate of their world is being decided in a fight between Alain and Darmon. The Heli'Dom trembles as it witnesses the display of primordial power. Olivia rises from the wall and gazes out of the windows. The sight and sound of that otherworldly lightning is like something out of forgotten myths. Olivia's body feels afraid, and in this moment the necromancer has to agree with it.


    Eliona & Commander Filip Ryth




    "What the hells is going on?" Ryth bellows out as he limps his way into the main observatory. The old soldier holds a hand over his side. His middle is neatly wrapped in bandages, and the tatters of his shirt is stained with fresh blood. He leans against a cart from the infirmary, to aid him in his purposeful limping. He storms into the room and begins to limp his way towards Pasce.

    Following immediately behind Ryth is Eliona. She's a brown haired Astral beauty in a white gown that is torn and dirtied from the very recent battle and chase. Her dress also has splatters of Ryth's blood on it. She has a silver sword sheathed on her hip and a Taroc guild badge clipped to her belt. She appears to be a mixture of exhausted concern for Ryth's injury, which she was barely able to bandage up before he stormed out of the infirmary they arrived in, and curiosity about the others occupying this large chamber.

    Eliona doesn't recognize some of these people. Verona is a stranger to her. Arion looks familiar, maybe she read about him in the news. He's an important someone in Taroc, or maybe Shamaa. Eliona's gaze eventually falls upon Nalia, and she pauses. Eliona experiences something of a haunted flinch upon seeing the other Astral woman. It's a reaction Nalia may have gotten from many Astral people who grew up hearing the horror stories of the child that slayed the great Silvyan al'Vatar. This immediate reaction is quickly followed by an expression Nalia may not see in many Astral people she encounters, Eliona looks at her with sympathy and quiet apology. Eliona is guilty for reacting as she did.

    Eliona looks away and soon discovers where Ryth has gone.


    "What do you think you're doing?" Ryth demands of Olivia, as he glares at the necromancer. Olivia stands tall and stares right back at the man.

    "Liar'Adon's mercy!" Eliona cries out as she sees Ryth standing beside the dead Princess Pasce. Her healers instincts take over and she rushes towards Pasce. She is soon halted when Olivia draws her pistol from her side holster and points it at Eliona's head. Olivia cocks back the hammer of her gun, the bullets inside of the weapon hiss with etheric energy.

    Ryth soon has a pistol in his hand and aims it at Olivia.


    "Ryth, lower that gun, and tell your date to stay away from Pasce," Olivia tells her old friend. "It's not what it looks like."

    "She's not my date," Ryth corrects Olivia. He makes no effort to lower his gun. "Somebody better explain what's going on here!"

    "We have to help her," Eliona implores the others in the room. She looks towards the dead girl. Eliona's hands begin to tremble. She has to do something. There has to be something that can be done to save their princess.

    Eliona then looks down at the triangle of ash and circle of blood that surrounds the chair Pasce is tied to. She also sees the trio of skulls on the corners of the triangle, and the ancient Maginus runes carved onto the chair. Her eyes widen as she recognizes the signs of necromancy. To the healer it seems as though she and Ryth have escaped one den of horrors only to stumble across another.

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