[center ***This is an original Plot, please do not steal, copy, or use anything from this rp for personal use or your own roleplay.***]
Land of Azera. Four Provinces at war fighting the Rule of one evil man...
Four wandering travelers find themselves in The Central City. It is a bustling and busy place, centered in the middle of the four provinces. It is also where The Self Proclaimed "King" Malik lives. It was once the Holy Land for the Four Provinces, where the fabled Priests and Priestesses of the Old Gods of Azeroth held sanctuary for all. That was… until King Malik. He ran the Holy Ones from their Holy Palace and took over not only the Central City, but the four provinces as well.
Legend has it that the Four Provinces once housed their own spirit guardians. These Guardians were kept in elaborate temples, with their own contingent of temple masters and maids to attend to them. During Malik’s rise to power, he attacked the temples and slaughtered the Temple Hands. It was by the brave sacrifices of Temple Masters and Maidens that they were able to send the Spirits away. For Centuries the Spirits had not claimed a host… but with the rise of Malik, the Guardians searched out their perfect Human Host, marking them and imbuing them with awesome powers to defeat evil and restore the balance.
The Province to the North was guarded by the Spirit of the Forest, and often seen in the shape of a Caribou. Filled with thick dense forests and beautiful mountain passes to the Northern most parts, and gently sloping hills further south where farming is aplenty. Winter, however, is never kind in the North. The summers are kind and fair and allow for the Northmen to travel south and barter their furs and goods for food stuffs they will need in the winter months. This is the Province known as Caledon. The people there are hearty and Strong. Known to produce fine warriors, and are often seen as warmongering, as the Caledon clans tend to fight against Malik’s border agents on a regular basis, and guard the Dark Forest’s creatures from venturing south. Caledon is considered the bread basket of Azera. It is reminiscent to what we would have considered Ancient Germania and Scandinavia.
The Province in the South is guarded by the Fire Spirit often seen as a massive snake. Mostly Desert lands with the occasional watery oasis. Farming takes great engineering feats involving sophisticated irrigation, and travel is usually done on Camel. Most people live nomadic lives, but there are cities where water can be found, usually along the River Nine, named so for the way the main river forks out at nine different locations and leads to nine large grandiose cities of terracotta. All of it built on the back of a lucrative Slave Trade. Most of the people in what is referred to as [i The Wastelands] are considered barbaric by many, with their nomadic lifestyle and their staunch traditions to the Old Gods –namely their patron deity the Fire-Breathing Serpent (Ouk'nu), and ritual sacrifice. Snakes are considered holy and sacred to the Nomadic people of Abdhu’Jai. The Southernmost part is unpassable as the desert goes on for hundreds of miles with no water in sight. It is also rumored that Sand Wyrms live there and those who have tried to trek across it in hopes of exploring have never been heard from again. The Jai's are reminiscent of The Egyptians, & The Byzantine Era.
To the East is where the Mountains climb higher than even those of Caledon. Here it is said the people of Volshiv live among the clouds and are protected by the Flying spirit of Wind often seen in the form of a Dove. On a still quiet day, if you stand on the Eastern border you can hear the whistling winds careen through the highest peaks in all of Azera. Very little is known about the Volshi. They are very reclusive and rarely travel West to the Central City. They are known to be fair of face and hair, willowy and spry and some of the last humans to retain some semblance of magical power. The Volshi were the only ones to escape the mad grip of Malik in the beginning –but it did not stop them from sending their Guardian to find a host as well.
To the West is the Province of Fenlyk. Guarded by the Water Spirit, known to take the form of a massive Koi Fish. The Region is mostly littered with waterways and wet lands, it is the fishing capital of all Azera. More fish is produced in Fenlyk than anywhere else in the Four Provinces. They trade frequently with Caledon and Abdhu’Jai. Aside from fish and watersports Fenlyk is known for its textile and fashion. It is the most modernized Province of the four, the wealthiest and one of the most influential. Their Navy is without rival, as it should be to protect the city from the Ocean's monsters that tend to capture vessels that wander too far from the mainland. They would be reminiscent of Ancient Greeks or Atlantis.
One woman is tasked to find the guardians, teach them and guide them to their glorious destiny. To find them she pulls from the ancient Prophecy, one that even involves her. Her name is Aria, a native of Volshiv who was taken from her home when she was no older than three. She doesn’t remember her home, or her birth parents. Only that she was marked by the Spirit Guardians –slated by the Gods to be their High Priestess. She was destined to be the most holy and powerful figure of her time, but Malik’s invasion from across the open sea and his march across the border lands of Abdhu’Jai and Fenlyk brought him to Central City and the beginning of his reign of terror. Of course when Malik invaded she was but a small child of six, training to be become The High Priestess. She escaped with the help of an Elder Priest who raised her in hiding, and continued her training so she could ensure the Guardians would find their way. A bounty is out for Aria’s head – though Malik has no real idea of who she is, he is aware of the markings that would and do adorn her body. She realizes he will discover her soon enough, and finding the Guardians has become imperative to free the city and provinces of the would-be Tyrant. Destroying Malik and returning peace to the four Provinces is also the only way to restore the Spirit Guardians back to their pantheons and peace to the land.
A traveler from each province finds themselves in Central City. Compelled to travel and see the world, or to simply get away from their old life. For any number of reasons, Fate brings them to the Central City. What they don’t realize is: they are chosen and marked as the host of their region’s Spirit Guardian. It lives within them and gives them power. It is a comforting, and yet frightening source for the four individuals -it just needs to be awakened in them, and that is where Aria comes in.
Aria feels it in her bones that the time has come. She’s been gifted visions of the travelers to come. She only sees them as their spirit so their faces remain shrouded in mystery. The Gods guide her to come out of hiding after hiding away for nearly twenty years. The raids took place when she was only six, and now she is twenty-seven. Time has passed and the people grow deeper into oppression. Most of the Tyranny is evident in the Central City. The outlying villages and townships of the Provinces are routinely raided, and it seems Malik is constantly fighting with the Caledons. The Fennish bow down to his reign their pacifism making them complacent and easy to dominate. The Nomads –Jais of the south are raided frequently and without mercy. The Volshi remain for the most part safe, but rumor has it they have amassed a huge army and are prepared to come down from their cities in the clouds to set Malik straight. Aria knows it will be too little too late. Malik has to be cut down at the source… from his False throne: The Holy Alter that should be hers.
Aria must find the Guardians, help them discover their own powers and talents, and if need be –sacrifice herself to help them cleanse the world and usher in a new peaceful Era. She must help the Guardians restore balance, but first… she has to find them and convince them.
Personality:guardian soft hearted, peaceful, adapts to surroundings and situations quickly, reserved
Bio & History:before being chosen, Saraya was a beautiful soul that loved children of her providence. she was married to a knight that protected the temple, and they were expecting their first born... Until the ambush. her husband was taken from her, and after that, her baby didn't surviv. With the passion she felt, she thought she would never survive... Until the spirit chose her.
Personality: quiet, shy, honest.
Bio & History: She was chosen as a guardian from birth, but neither her parents nor herself knew that at all. Her parents were simple fishers, her dad going out to sea for the daily haul and her mom selling whatever fish had been caught in the markets. Everything was pretty peaceful, until Malik took the ruling of everything under his hand. Since the region she lived bowed down peacefully, nothing really bad happened there. But something was up, which came in the form of her house being raided by Malik's forces. She managed to run off, while her parents were nailed to the door of what used to be her house. Now just walks around the provinces, hiding herself from Malik's grasp.
Weakness and limitations to your powers: Manipulating water requires some concentration. No concentration, no hydrokinesis.
Bio & History: Adimar hails from the high peaks of Volshiv. He has traveled the Sky Cities, and down in the Volishi Valleys where most Volshi tend to avoid due to the dense foliage and wild animals that haunt the forest beneath them. He is considered one of the best warriors of Volshi -bested only by the High Lord of Volshi. Having been marked a guardian since the day of his birth, at 32 Adimar is well versed in the landscape of politics and battle. He's had his skirmishes with King Malik's invading soldiers over the years. Adimar has spent his life preparing for battle against Malik -knowing his destiny from the very beginning and in order to save his people, he must go fight.
Adimar travels to the central city in hopes of finding his fellow Volshi, Aria, who was spirited away as a baby to be the next High Priestess. All in Volshiv know the name of Aria, and an army is amassed waiting to help her at the call to battle. Adimar intends to lead that army and reclaim the Holy Throne... but don't confuse his motives as one of honor -Adimar has plans of his own... to be free.
Weapon of Choice: Archer by trade, but also carries a sword of Volshi Steel passed down in his family for generations
Primary Special Power: Weather Manipulation, allows him to create any number of storms for up to eight hours. Lightning, tornado, rain etc...
1. Flight Assist: Allows him to use the wind to propel him upwards into the air for short bursts of time, or to surge him forward quickly.
2. Lashing Tailwind: The name of his attack where he kicks out a devastating blast of cold air to temporarily immobilize opponents.
3. Eagle Eye: Allows him to possess the body of any bird and see through it's eyes. He uses this skill a great deal for scouting.
Weakness and limitations to your powers: As with any magic user Adimar will eventually run out of Mana: or his magical stamina. He is very powerful, but the more power he uses, the more mana he uses. His powers are limited he can only make one storm a day, but can use his three minor attack powers intermittently as long as he has the mana to do so. Also, his other great weakness is a pretty woman. He does not hide his playboy like nature.
Bio & History: Rhuarc is an extremely large man, standing tall at 6ft 10’ and weighing around 19st 12lbs he is an imposing physical specimen. Rhuarc is a muscled figure and very much represents the typical stereotype of a wasteland barbarian. His body is adorned with various, tattoos, brands and scars.
Born into the traditional nomadic life of the Abdhu’Jai people. At ten years old Rhuarc departed on the traditional journey to the sacred temple of Ouk'nu in the deep southern deserts, as all young men do in an effort to prove himself to his tribe and the great fire deity. It wasn't long before Rhuarc and his people grew used to the merciless raids of Malik and his forces, causing a deep distrust of anyone not from within the nomadic Jai. Rhuarc's father and brother were killed in one so called raid while his sister was taken presumably as a slave.
Weapon of Choice: A large, brutal looking great sword with a wicked looking serrated edge
Guardian: Not a Guardian, but the High Priestess of the Guardians. She is their guide and mentor. She is marked with the symbols of every Guardian in a straight line down her spine -each marked in their prospective color.
Personality: Passionate devotion, motherly, calm gentle -but a tempest of fury if invoked. A Natural Born Ruler
Bio & History: Born in Volshiv, Aria was marked from the day of her Birth as the next High Priestess wielding the marks of all four Guardians. Then they were tiny dots of color, now a woman they have taken full shape down her spine weaving one another together. Her arrival was kept as secret as possible but her coming was foreseen by the Holy Ones who came and collected her. They took her still suckling at her mother's breast, taking her into Central City before she ever knew her mother's name.
When she was six the raids of Malik's wrath arrived. He had laid claim to the throne for many years, but upon word that the new High Priestess had been born he ordered the temples and monasteries burned and destroyed. He decreed that the Old Gods, or Guardians, were no more and that he was God. He lived an unnaturally long life -one none of the Holy Scholars could figure out. It was by the handiwork of Elder Rigby that Aria was smuggled out. Since then she was raised in seclusion with nothing but Elder Rigby to teach her, and her many tombs and scrolls from which she studied preparing for the day to take her birth right. The Holy Alter. It would make her more powerful than any king or Lord of the Four Provinces, but it is not for Power she wishes to take the Alter Throne back... it is for the people. She too has suffered by Malik's hand, she wishes it to end.
Weapon of Choice: She is often seen walking with a Staff, this is her bow staff, her weapon of choice. Meant to disarm and injure but not kill
Primary Special Power: Absolute Intuition -she has a knowing about her. It is unexplainable.
1. Ability to enter the spirit realm either while sleeping or through meditation
2. Can whisper thoughts into the minds of men - Persuasion
Weakness/limitations: Aria is not a fighter, that alone makes her weak physically. Mentally she is strong. Her powers of absolute intuition are more like a strong 6th sense -but not always available. When she enters the spirit realm, awake or asleep she is vulnerable to attack and needs to be guarded by someone she trusts. Her powers of persuasion can be ignored by a person with an iron will.
[center *** Side characters who travel with the Guardians are more than welcome to help make up the caravan***]
1. All Standard ES rules apply
2. Have Fun
3. No insta-romance
4. This is a literate RP. I ask for a post on average of 800 words
5. Basic Grammar and Spelling please
6. PM Me with the title of the Rp: Rise of the Guardians, and a basic Character Skeleton.
7. You have ten (10) days to post. Failure to post within ten days forfeits your turn.
Please note: You may play more than one character, but you may only play one Guardian.
Your powers should not be so much that combined you are incredibly powerful and basically unstoppable. Please have ONE main power that does only a small handful of acceptable things, and up to three minor skills. All your power and all your skill -your character is still mortal and MUST HAVE A WEAKNESS. I don't want characters with god-like powers. Our group will face tasks where they are defeated, injured, or captured. No one should be capable of having fail-safes to constantly win.
Water Manipulation: can take water from the ground, the air, or even from a direct water source and create water funnels that attack, or a massive wave, or even turn that water to ice and create a spear with which to throw at enemies.
Healing: you can heal but not raise the dead -that is necromancy and would be considered a Primary power
Air Manipulation: Would be more like controlling the weather. Or maybe you can rush the air at an opponent flinging them back, take the air from them and let them choke.
Earth Manipulation: Use of the ground, make it shake, split open into chasms to swallow whole platoons, or maybe use the plant life around you, grow your own and use it to attack.
If you still have questions regarding your powers, please don't hesitate to PM me. I want these characters to be humble -not all powerful.
You don't have permission to post in this thread.
[#da3c18 [I "ARIA!"]]
Saraya saw everyone were stuck. Rhuarc, Max, Rupert, Carrick... Even Luther. This situation wasn't going well.
Saraya tried moving, but the pain quickly reminded her of what she was in. She didn't let it stop her. With all the pain she could bear, she grabbed onto a barrel and hoisted herself until she could find her bearings. Once at her feet, she could see Corbin in the darkness. He looked to her in worry, but she could only think of Aria. The Mage was playing a foul game.
Corbin had launched from the darkness, quickly distracting him as Carrick and Luther could get to their feet. The Mage flung him off with some effort, leaving Saraya with an open opportunity.
She breathed deeply, the Mage waiting to hear her plead and agree to his terms, but instead, everyone could feel a tingling sensation in the air. The Mage looked to Saraya, growling at her refusal. Just when he was about to squeeze the still beating heart, something froze him. He was unable to move!
He forced himself to look to Saraya, who was standing erect now, but what he saw was a darkness with no end. Out of fear, he called his avaliable wraiths to take her, but as they tried, her gaze and a silent screech from them halted and made them retreat. Saraya's eyes were darker than the darkest black. Her face, though was expressionless, shown disdain and hatred. The Mage looked to Aria, before noticing that he was returning her heart against his will. Once returned, and his hand retreated slowly empty, he felt a force throw him across the ship. The wraiths looked towards their master, squealing and screeching to see their master being bested. Around that time, she could hear Rhuarc and the guards below gain advantage.
The wind began picking up. The power that sat on the air frightened the last of them until they disappeared, giving everyone below deck their opportunity to run to Aria's aid. Saraya began walking towards The Mage as he was trying to recollect his bearings. By the time he could clearly see her, he saw a beast as she was walking towards him, with a evil look upon her face, with no regard for his life. Rhuarc, Max, and Thad ran onto the deck, seeing Aria holding her chest, breathing deeply, then looked to Saraya... Who, as she began moving towards her target, didn't look like herself at all. He tried to use his power again, and each blow hit this time, but with little effect. It may have connected to her, but though it had momentarily slowed her down, she still kept advancing, her eyes fixed on her prey. The next blow of magic was deflected, The Mage shocked that his powers were waning around her. He tried to use the last and retreat, but all she did was dodge the blow, evaporating and reappearing behind him just before he could escape and raised a hand, as if gripping his throat. He gasped as he felt he couldn't breathe and slowly began to gravitate as her hand lifted him from solid ground!
[#da3c18 [I "Die, Mage"]] she growled. Just before she could squeeze, The Mage had evaporated and reappeared just before her. He tried grabbing her, but she used a pulse of her power to deflect him. She turned to him and advanced, making him back up before giving a battle cry. She materialized her sword, and was about to strike when he disappeared into the darkness.
That wasn't his last. He reappeared behind her, grabbing her dress and hauled her over the side of the ship, but Saraya managed to grab his cloak, taking him down with her. She fought on free fall, until he managed to grab her and hold her hostage with her hands behind her. She felt a sharp pain where the wooden shard was lodged in her lower back, letting out a scream before hearing him laugh. [#6e1291 "Don't fight this, Saraya... You belong with me... "] he growled, Saraya feeling the pain as he stabbed her deeper with the shard. Saraya used her sword and stabbed him in his side and he bellowed in pain. [I [#da3c18 "NEVER!"]] she growled, digging the blade deeper into him before he released and disappeared. Saraya's Arcane power had slingshot her back onto the ship, and her feet collided with wooden planks and barrels, waiting for The Mage to come back, but he didn't.
Suddenly, she felt a strange sensation that fluttered in her womb. She pressed her hand against her swollen belly. What was that? But, as she tried to shake off the weird feeling, she noticed she felt wetness that she knew was her blood trickling down her legs. She tried to ignore it at first. Too many issues competed for her attention and the most immediate was Aria.
That was just the adrenaline talking. Her beast like pants, her sword at the ready, crouched over with lethal intention slowly began to fade. She wanted to make sure they were safe. At that moment, she looked around to see Aria and sighed in relief as Carrick appeared beside her, and Rhuarc wasn't far behind, though he did scout the area for any more threat, and found none.
By the Gods, she managed to save her. The Light had returned her, and now it seemed as though she didn't know what happened to her. Beyond all that, this was was perhaps the most frightening experience for her.
The state of Saraya was in question- the wound, the baby, and as soon as her arcane powers had subsided it turned into tears, screaming, fighting against the hold of friendly hands.
A head on a silver platter would be her price. Yes. She and The Mage had unfinished business.
Her fighting against helping hands had halted abruptly before her body became limp and collapsed. Those helping hands had caught her and helped her lay straight before her body began to shiver uncontrollably. When Carrick and Aria finally made it to her laying form, Carrick started talking, just to see if she would respond.
He reached out his hand to touch Saraya's face, and her shivering form jerked away from him, unsure if he were a mirage, something vile and demonic that would intensify her pain more than it was already. Her pain rippled through him and rattled his bones. It sent a chill through him so thick it couldn't be cut with a knife. It drew his mouth into a tight line as he fought not to scream.
He finally saw Saraya's enemy... And he saw what he had done.
The head of the bastard who'd done this was the only acceptable answer to levy The Mage's debt... Paid in full.
In The Central City, they had a phrase: Fair exchange was no robbery. And for what he had done to her, this was no exception.
Saraya's shivering had began to subside as she closed her eyes. She could feel Carrick's cool hand stroke her brow, wiping away the sweat as Aria's felt along her back to find what other places hurt.
Confusion tore at her brain. The pain that was racing from her spine to her belly was so excruciating, that it left a chilling tingle as it circled back. Saraya opened her eyes, her breathing labored as she tried to form words. She searched Carrick's face as he continued to search her form for any damages as Aria yanked out the protruding plank shard in her lower back, making her jerk and gritted a scream. [I [#da3c18 "... Where... "]] was all she could manage to get out through gritted teeth.
Aria came into view, taking her hand with her bloodied one in reassurance that she was alive and real. She told Saraya that she was alright with tears shining in her eyes.
None of what she was saying could be heard clearly. She searched Carrick and Aria's face for confirmation that The Mage had gotten away, and found it.
Corbin had came into view with a nurse before everyone saw Saraya's eyes roll to the back of her head before her body began convulsing and jerking about, blood rushing from her lips as she fought to breathe!
Carrick was quick as he lifted her chin and when it only made it worse, he turned her to her side and cleared her airways before looking to the horizon. [#9bacf8 "How much further until we get to Caledon?"]
[#125654 "Not far, Captain. We should pass into Caledonian territory come midday and dock near Caledon come dawn the day after"] said a shipmate.
Carrick watched Saraya reduce to the uncontrolled shivering and close her eyes again. For the first time since the battle of Astoria had began to unfold, he saw it- her condition, the entire troupe's condition.
The awareness of how big of a threat The Mage was to his woman slammed into his brain. She'd survived the unthinkable. Tears of heartbreak stung his eyes and nose, and though he refused to let them fall, some emotional anguish forced his tears. The Mage must pay.
Carrick tightened his fists and hung his head for a moment. The sight of Saraya's blood- caked, tattered dress stole his breath and shredded his soul.
He lowered his head until their foreheads touched as he fought a losing battle against his tears. [#9bacf8 "Oh, my love, I am so sorry... "] Carrick said quietly, ashamed that he'd been so blind that the obvious never occurred to him. Each member of the Guardian troupe was dirty, bloodied, gashed and seemed to be hanging onto fatigue like it were a life jacket. But Saraya's condition made him weep. He kept his eyes on her bloodied face and allowed his gaze to travel down her disheveled dress, stop at her blood streaked back, and he was forced to look away, fighting the urge to jump the side of the ship to find him.
He watched tears well in her eyes as Corbin and Max tried to lift her as gently as they could. His abdomen clenched, and somewhere within the recesses of his mind he knew that her bruised and beaten body was riddled with a pain he could only imagine.
As Rhuarc returned with the plump nurse, he saw the face of pure pain lingering on Saraya's face as the nurse demanded with the quickness to get her to the infirmary. Though the nurse was demanding, Carrick didn't hear a thing, his mind was running all over the place, and it all stemmed from Saraya's worn down state.
The Dark side tried to claw life from her womb a second time, and now her body was doing everything it can to heal from it. His beautiful Saraya was hurting so bad from his assaults. Each male lowered his eyes and let out a slow quiet breath, almost as though they could feel the pain as Corbin and Max, lead by Aria, made their way down the narrow staircase to the infirmary.
A new level of respect and awe entered Carrick as he watched how Saraya bore the burden like a true warrior, only a grimace giving any indication of how badly she hurt. And he also knew that the pain went beyond the physical. It was a deep gash within her psyche that might never heal. It wasn't supposed to happen this way.
He could barely stare behind her as the nurse escorted Corbin and Max down to the infirmary. The Mage attempted to kill her, to murder his baby and had tried to take Aria's heart in the process... Yes... It was all coming to him full swing. There wasn't a place on the planet The Mage would be able to hide. Not for this.
Steadier now, Carrick breathed in slowly and let his breath out with effort. Carrick wanted to retch when he saw the pool of blood Saraya left behind on the deck. Defeat claimed him as he saw Rupert and Thad gather to clean the trail of blood leading below. He couldn't look at it. He couldn't. The remains of the Dark Side's damage had been reduced to Gore.
Carrick stared out into the night before Aria went to him, asking him if he was alright. [#9bacf8 "I'm going to kill him... "] he growled in his throat, fury stealing the words forming in his head. [#9bacf8 "I want to take his head, Aria... There will be hell to pay for what he's done to Saraya alone!"]
He held Aria's gaze as Rhuarc and Luther approached. [#9bacf8 "I swear it... I want to take The Mage's head!]
Saraya kept herself still once she and the nurse was alone. She could deal with this. She must. It was a miracle she and Aramis made it this far, through many attempts.
That's what she told herself as a wave of pain washed over her before she grabbed her abdomen as the nurse began to stitch the gaping wound in her lower back. Saraya briefly shut her eyes as everyone made their way to the infirmary. Carrick hadn't said a word as Aria came into her sight. She didn't know Adimar was up and conscious, but at the sight of the wound the nurse was tending to, Carrick could see a unsettling look on his face, like he was enraged.
She wanted to cry so badly, but no tears came; a crippling wave of pain almost doubled her over.
Silent tears coursed down Saraya's cheeks. She sucked in a deep breath, bearing the pain as another wave ran through her. Aria had stood aside, allowing Carrick to come forward to her. As soon as he had the chance, he kissed Saraya's temple then her hands before sniffling, unable to fight back his tears at the sight of her. [#9bacf8 "I'm here... "] he whispered. Saraya saw Aria's head nodding, confirming she was there for her, too, wiping away the wetness on her cheeks. [I [#da3c18 "Thank you"]] she said quietly, Carrick beginning to stroke her hair.
Rhuarc waited on bent knee wondering what Saraya's response would be. He was fairly certain that she would accept his request to take on Ayab's debt, she was a good and kind person and doing this simple thing for Rhuarc would mean a great deal for him, that alone should have been enough for Saraya to accept. Saraya confirmed his thoughts with her next words [i "I care about you, therefore I will accept in one condition... You've said it to Father Penzone, these are the days where rules and social order have been scratched from these lands. Take care of Aria for me."] That request was unexpected...but not entirely unwelcome. In a selfish way Rhuarc was glad for the excuse that Saraya's request gave him to spend more time with Aria although he was concerned that the Caledon Guardian had seen the depth of the feelings between the Priestess and the Jai. Rhuarc raised himself onto his feet, with only a slight protest of pain from his battered body, and the Jai deliberately kept his gaze on Saraya, lest a flicker of his eyes toward Aria give Saraya anymore clues as to their true relationship.
It was the look of fear in Saraya's eyes that warned Rhuarc that something was not right a fraction of a second before the icy voice of the Mage announced his presence. Rhuarc spun quicker than the blink of an eye unsheathing the heavy blade of midnight black steel readying himself for battle, as one sided as a bout between them would be. If Rhuarc fought the Mage there was only going to be one outcome. The Jai guardian took a half step to his left, positioning himself between the Mage and Aria. Saraya had charged him with protecting the Priestess, he was honour bound to keep her safe now, and he would do his duty. The Mage continued to taunt Saraya about Carrick and some other gift that Rhuarc did not understand. In an instant the tense situation on the deck of the ship erupted as Saraya pushed a shield towards the Mage and Luther sprung out from nowhere into action. Rhuarc hadn't even realised that the Watcher was on the deck of the ship and for all his distrust of the man he was supremely glad for his presence now! With one hand he grabbed Aria by the wrist and practically dragged her towards the hatch that led below decks but some sort of magic kept the door firmly shut. The Jai let out a harsh curse as the door refused to open, turning and raising his sword incase anything came for Aria. He could hear Carrick trying to batter the door down from his side and thankfully the two men were able to get Aria and the Jai below decks and the Captain of the Holy Guard towards Saraya and the danger of the Mage.
What Rhuarc didn't expect was to run into five of the Mage's wraith's, with Aria in danger he had no choice but to attack. He swung out with his sword but the positioning of his foes and the narrow confines below the deck of the ship. They were in an incredibly bad position, Rhuarc's swings were sluggish and did not carry his normal power behind the blows which the wraiths easily blocked or dodged. The Guardian also could not risk using any magic as one errant blast of flame would be all it would take to cause catastrophic damage to this ship. In addition to his other problems he also needed to keep Aria out of danger. Thankfully the other members of the Holy Guard came to their aid with weapons drawn but in the confines of the arena the battle was taking place in the wraiths had all the advantage. Rhuarc found himself too focused on one wraith and that ended up being his undoing, his sight was still compromised in his left eye and a second wraith slipped by his guard and into his blindspot before striking him three times in quick succession dropping him to his knees and knocking the blade of Jai'hash from his grasp. His head ringing from the blows Rhuarc and the other guards were stripped of their weapons and locked in the infirmary.
Aria's words were repeating in his mind constantly but as far as he could see there was no way for him to do everything. It was clear from what she said that Aria was not expecting to survive, she was giving Rhuarc a rallying cry to reunite the Guardians and finish Malik...but Rhuarc was not ready to accept Aria's loss just yet. Rhuarc would not abandon Aria and Saraya to torment and death, not while he had strength left. A blood chilling scream split the air and put everyone on edge. Adimar awoke violently and Rhuarc was glad that his friend was awake but right now that wasn't entirely useful. The man was still too weak, either to fight with steel or with magic, he was for all intents and purposes a burden right now. Thankfully when they had taken his black steel blade they had assumed that was the only threat that Rhuarc possessed, leaving him with his belt knife, it wasn't much but it was better than nothing. Rhuarc sat on the floor and closed his eyes, trying to meditate and clear his mind but the state of awareness that he usually achieved when he did this eluded him. Perhaps the grief over losing Ayab was clouding his thoughts, maybe it was his guilt over Balden's betrayal, maybe it was fear over Aria's safety or even his feelings of responsibility for stealing Adimar's magic the last time he entered this state...whatever the reason meditation and the benefits related to that were out of his grasp for the time being. Max, Thad and Rupert all caught his eye and gave slight nods of their head indicating that they were ready to follow his lead and do whatever it took in order to get out of this situation and help Saraya and the Priestess.
As much as he hated to admit it the fate of everyone in the room was not in their own hand, the truth was that they would need to exploit a mistake by the Mage rather than make it through on their own merits. Fortunately the Mage seemed to be the foe that could be goaded into a mistake because of his unstable temperament. Rhuarc and the others could do little but wait and bide their time, regardless of how desperate they all were. Seconds and minutes stretched for an eternity and felt like days while the Jai waited for his opportunity for them to act, he could not outfight the wraiths right now so he needed to outsmart them. Thankfully, eventually he got his chance. Something must have occured above deck with the Mage and Saraya because in unison the five wraiths turned as one to look to the roof of the cabin, as though they could see what was transpiring above. Rhuarc pounced and gave Max and Thad a look that very clearly said "follow my lead" while Rupert stayed by Adimar's side ready to defend the weakened guardian. Even as injured as he was Rhuarc's reactions were still incredible, he moved to the side and danced around the cabin in the tight space, watching to see the other members of the Holy Guard do the same, a little puzzled by his tactic but Rhuarc had confidence in what he was doing. The wraiths might be strong but they were mindless creatures and the one Rhuarc was dancing around lashed out with a clawed hand wildly. Rhuarc dodged the strikes by a hairs breadth two, three, four times before he pivoted and the wraith's claws struck one of its own and killed the monster. Rhuarc saw Max and Thad smile as they understood. It was a remarkable feat of teamwork between the three men, moving in sync, in perfect unity working the tight space of the cabin to their advantage and using the wraiths against themselves until there was only one left. The tactic was exhausting and clearly would not work with a single remaining foe as there was no other wraith that they could use to strike out at this last adversary. Thankfully Rhuarc still had his allies. Max and Thad distracted the wraith while Rhuarc dived towards one of the fallen creatures and with a great heave, using much of his remaining strength, ripped the wraith's arm from it's body and using the claw at the end of the limb as a weapon and the distraction that Max and Thad gave him managed to land a killing blow on the wraith. Rhuarc panted his slow heavy breaths, sweat glistening on his forehead, the other Guards were in similar physical states none of them even suggested resting for a moment. They all knew what they had to do. Without any hesitation they rushed out of their make shift prison cell and rushed up towards the deck of the ship and whatever situation was unfolding there.
Aria could see she had surprised Saraya with her appearance. The Caledon guardian must have been deep in thought, but it seemed that she did have a plan and Aria could see the resolve in her eyes. A fierce determination burned brightly behind her irises, and true to Saraya’s words, Aria had a feeling she wasn’t going to like this plan. Before she could learn of it, Rhuarc came upon the deck with a greeting of his own for Saraya. He spoke of her prowess in battle, and his gratitude towards what she did for Ayab, and how she had his respect. Aria watched closely as he knelt before Saraya and offered to uphold Ayab’s Toh.
There was a quiet moment and Aria looked to Saraya to see her reaction. she was pleased to find that Saraya offered a tearful smile and took his hand. Her words were kind and thoughtful, but with a look towards Aria, she felt herself tense unknowing of Saraya’s condition to acceptance. [+red "You've said it to Father Penzone, these are the days where rules and social order have been scratched from these lands. Take care of Aria for me. This part of the voyage will need you to do so. The Mage will use anything against you as far as love is concerned. He may not have his eye on Aria, but claiming her would be a bonus, so keep with her... "] Aria frowned at Saraya’s words. Did she know? If so, how? Was it that obvious?
Aria looked to Rhuarc nervous that their secret wasn’t as hidden as they thought. It seemed they were not as hidden from the Mage either. ARia felt the slightest change in the air around her when she heard his voice. He greeted Saraya, still desperate to use her bloodline to his advantage. Aria gasped in shock and fear. How had he found his way onto their ship?! She wasn’t paying attention to their conversation. Rhuarc was ahead of them prepared to fight, though he was certainly in no condition to, and Saraya had conjured her bow of shadows, Aria’s eyes fell to another... Luther.
He’d been on the deck this whole time, observing, watching, guarding. She couldn’t believe that for once she was glad for his presence. She watched him take cover behind a barrel of supplies, his own dagger in hand and preparing himself for an opportunity to attack. The Mage spoke crassly to Saraya, his words an attempt to whittle her down and make her pliable to his wants. He mocked her and Saraya let loose an arrow as a warning not to come closer, but he wasn’t listening and began his own approach towards them.
[+purple “Why do you resist? Carrick is weak. He will never be able to save you. You deserve a strong partner, my Lady. Your blood proves it!"] Wit that comment, Saraya sent the shield towards him in an attempt to cut him off, and called to Rhuarc to go. Aria would have fought him to let go if she could. She did not want to leave Saraya on deck alone. Thankfully, she could see Saraya moving to follow, but they weren’t fast enough to reach the hatch before the Mage thew it shut with his powers, locking it and them on the deck.
Luther was still topside, and slowly making his way around to attack the Mage from behind. Every bit of magic he threw at Saraya was rebounded off her sword. Luther was impressed to see the woman so heavy with child and yet so fierce of a warrior. Aria used the time to hide behind Rhuarc and tried to unlock the seal around the hatch. They watched as Saraya confronted the Mage, turning the tables and calling him weak. Something he did not appreciate.
They launched for the other, Saraya grabbing The Mage and pinning him to the deck. [+red "Get Carrick! Go!"] Aria tried again to break the Mage’s seal on the door, and from below could hear banging, no doubt it was Carrick, having heard Saraya’s thoughts and felt her emotions. Between Aria’s attempts to disenchant the door, and Carrick’s harsh beatings against it, they broke it open. Aria was quickly grabbed and dragged below, just in time to hear Saraya scream out in pain.
Carrick rushed Aria down below deck and helped Rhuarc down as well, before he vaulted topside just in time to see Luther charging across the deck in an attempt to protect Saraya. He could see her covered in blood and wounded. THe Mage and his magic had brought him to their ship... which also meant... wraiths.
Carrick remembered their last brush on the path to Kil’heed, and again outside its gates. The Mage was a wicked and cruel opponent.
[+blue “Saraya!”] Carrick called to her, and it was just the distraction needed for Luther. Hearing Carrick’s voice had clearly upset the Mage, who turned to snarl at him and throw a flaming ball of fire at him. The last thing they needed was a fire, a fire meant the ship would fall from the sky and burn. Carrick braced himself and caught the attack, throwing him clear across the deck and scorching his robes and heating his armor. He rolled in an attempt to put the flames out, and Luther was able to jump the Mage.
Luther sprang forward, moving quickly and tackled the Mage to the ground, managing to burry his dagger into the man’s chest. The Mage howled with pain, but the attack wasn’t fatal. Luther was thrown off and over Saraya’s head towards the main mast where he crashed into the wood and there was a resounding snap of his spine. Luther attempted to get up, but a blackened boot dripping oily blood stomped on his back and pushed him down into the deck. Even Carrick found himself in the same situation. The MAge’s wraiths had materialized on the ship and were moving through it collecting the others, taking advantage of their lowered guards and exhausted selves after their battle in Astoria.
[#87cefa “You won’t win!”] Luther attempted to intimidate, but the Mage only laughed, and that laughter grew when two wraiths came up from below deck with an angry Aria. [#87cefa “No... priestess!”] Luther called, and even Carrick tried to get up, but his burns kept him down.
After retreating below deck with Rhuarc, Aria and the Guardian of Jai’hash were face to face with five decrepit wraiths waiting for them. Aria’s fear was on Adimar who was unconscious and alone, and Rhuarc who was in no position to fight at the moment. Max, and two other Holy Guards had rushed to try and fight with them, but the wraiths were too powerful. They fought back until they were all disarmed and confined to the infirmary, hostages of the Mage. Aria, was dragged away and up to the mage, her final order echoing off the wooden planks of the ship.
[+pink “No matter what, protect Adimar, find Lara, get Saraya and finish this!”] she shrieked before the infirmary door slammed shut and the Wraiths kept guard over Rhuarc, Max, Thad, Rupert, and the other guards. If they wanted them dead, they would be... but at the moment they were to be kept alive.
Aria was hauled back to the deck and dropped at the Mage’s feet. [+pink “Egos... and here we thought you had run off like a coward...”]
[+purple “Sorry to disappoint you,”] he snarled and grabbed her face with his hand and twisted her face over to look at Saraya. [+purple “You love her, you’re like sisters, one happy little [i family]]” he sneered and his eyes turned on Saraya. [+purple “You’re either coming with me, or I rip her heart out.”] To prove his point his hand glowed and he thrust it right into Aria’s chest and held firm to her heart. Aria’s knees buckled and she gasped in pain, but no sound came from her throat. It was obvious she was in great pain, her eyes watered, and she was paralyzed with Ego’s hand wrapped around one of her more vital organs. [+purple “If you behave I will let her live. she might prove useful for us... would make a decent slave.”] He eyed Aria’s frightened and painful expression as she looked to him, his hand buried inside her chest. Somehow Aria managed to turn her head and look at Saraya.
[+pink “Don’t give him what he wants. Fight him...”] Aria managed to speak, her voice strained and filled with pain. Egos tightened his grip which made Aria scream out in her own pain. However with one easy yank, Egos removed his hand and in it he held a brightly glowing heart of gold. Aria stared at it, still alive, but feeling empty, her life was literally in Ego’s hand.
[+purple “I could crush it. It would be all too easy. You have a choice to make my dear Saraya...”] he crooned. Luther watched dismayed and unable to help her from where he was pinned to the floor, and Carrick was just as helpless but to watch.
Below deck Max sat eyeing their captors, forming a plan was impossible as they could not speak with the other, but when they heard a shriek from above, Max knew he could not sit idle and neither could Rhuarc. He shared a look with the Jai and though they were outnumbered, and unarmed with nothing more than Rhuarc’s belt knife, they had to attack and reclaim the ship. The scream seemed to awaken Adimar as well, who suddenly sucked in a shaky breath. Thad and Rupert were there to help him get his bearings, but it was evident he was in no condition to fight. It was bedlam, what were they going to do and how could they reclaim their ship and defeat the mage?
It was taking her longer to calm down. They were a few days on this airship from Caledon. It wouldn't be suffice to allow herself to be in such a panicked state.
It didn't stop her from jumping when she felt a hand on her shoulder. She sighed in great relief that it was Aria. [I [#da3c18 "Aria... "]]
[b [#f684da "Are you and the baby alright?"]] she started with. Saraya furrowed her brow as she looked around for some place to sit or lean on. [b [#f684da "You preformed an impressive feat during the battle, we wouldn’t have been able to hold off the forces without yours or Adimar’s skills."]]
Saraya chuckled a moment, looking to her. [I [#da3c18 "I have had some stern talking to that put me in perspective. I can feel some relief... Knowing I have saved... "]] she sighed as the fresh wound of losing Balden and Ayab in her sight throbbed at her remembrance. [I [#da3c18 "Though... I wished my efforts were better succeeding... "]] she looked to her. [I [#da3c18 "I know why Rhuarc hurts so. Ayab... Was a warrior, a true brother of the noble Jai. The Masters of the Fire Lands would grant him a warrior's burial. He deserves more... But I would bless his eternal slumber for being a friend, and honor his friendship he bestowed on me. "]] she sniffled a bit before letting the air that carried her prayer die away.
Aria had looked up to her as they looked out from the side of the ship. [b [#f684da "I sensed something dark earlier... it was the Mage wasn’t it?”]] Saraya's eyes expressed a certain fear as she saw Aria's frown. Just before she could quiver, Aria placed a hand to Saraya’s shoulder in worry and in comfort, and it calmed her down.
[b [#f684da “I think we should prepare to face him soon... he seems determined to reach you in much the same way Malik is determined to reach me. Do you have a plan to confront him before he does you?” ]]
Saraya looked at her, before looking out to the crescent moon, [I [#da3c18 "I have a plan..."]] she looked to her again, but now her face was serious, and her eyes shown a sort of resolve, and it carried all she was carrying on her chest. [I [#da3c18 "But, you will not like it... Not until I tell you... "]]
Before she could reveal her truth, Rhuarc's frame had caught her eye. He stepped into the light with a saddened look on his face, but he carried it with understanding and fortitude. Apparently, Aria was not the only important person she had to speak to. At the sight of Rhuarc, Saraya only wanted to comfort and bring the fire back into his strong features.
[b [#f60415 "Greetings, Saraya, how goes it?"]] She couldn't help but give him a welcoming smile. [I [#da3c18 "Rhuarc, this is sudden. Aria and I were just talking about a plan to rid me of The Mage"]]
Rhuarc had approached the two of them. She spotted him looking to Aria before looking back to her. [b [#f60415 "I wish to thank you for the part you played during the battle in Astoria. I do not think we would have escaped without you. You have my gratitude and my respect. You gained much honour... "]] Rhuarc was trailing away. There was a sad weight before he took a breath to speak again. [b [#f60415 "Saraya... "]]
Saraya looked to him. He never said her name before. Perhaps it was the biggest surprise to have heard it from him. [b [#f60415 "... Before he died, Ayab told me what you did for him, how you helped slow the Fade's poison... He told me of the [I Toh] he owed you... "]]
Saraya felt a weight on her heart as he took a knee. [b [#f60415 "... I will take on his debt so his honour may remain intact. I shall bear his [I Toh]. Do you accept my offer?"]]
Saraya could see his dedication to have his friend rest in peace. She grabbed his hand and when he looked up to her to see tears and a smile. [I [#da3c18 "My dear friend Jai, you don't need to bow to me. Your bravery to even say such things is gratifying enough. You have been my friend, and quite fun to butt heads with. I care about you, therefore I will accept in one condition... "]] she took his hand and looked to Aria. [I [#da3c18 "You've said it to Father Penzone, these are the days where rules and social order have been scratched from these lands. "]]
She looked to Rhuarc. [I [#da3c18 "Take care of Aria for me. This part of the voyage will need you to do so. The Mage will use anything against you as far as love is concerned. He may not have his eye on Aria, but claiming her would be a bonus, so keep with her... "]]
She saw something from behind him that had her eyes wide in shock and fear.
[size20 [b [#6e1291 "Hello, My Lady Saraya"]]]
That eerie voice sounded from behind Rhuarc. Aria looked to Saraya's panicked face, before seeing her swallow her fear that burned in her chest. Rhuarc had stood with a start, arming himself.
Saraya spotted the gleaming of his twisted maw, but she refused to bow down to the twisting pain of fear. She had to think quickly.
[size20 [b [#6e1291 Not happy to see me, my Lady? I've gone to many lengths to find you again. Did you not like my gift?"]]]
Gift? Corbin! She looked to Rhuarc before standing before him and he stood before Aria. She shredded her fear with battle tactic, growling in disgust.
[size20 [b [#6e1291 "I hope he is to your liking"]]]
Her bow and arrow had appeared in her hands now. [I [#da3c18 " Mage, you reanimated my son, but you still disgust me! How dare you!"]] The Mage smirked.
[size20 [b [#6e1292 "My dear, you look all the more ravishing the longer you hate me. You'll make for a merciless Queen, Saraya. Only wish you had the right cock in you"]]]
Saraya felt violated when he said her name and even more disgusted by what he said after. [I [#da3c18 "Leave Carrick out of this, you filth!"]] she growled aiming now. Her posture was perfect, and her gaze was ravenous. She could see that The Mage was being mangled by his own sick desires towards her. She wasn't thinking about herself now, she needed to get Aria to someplace safe. And, judging by Rhuarc's face, he was thinking the same thing.
Saraya quickly sent a message to Carrick. Though she was doing well to stall him, she was panicking.
[size20 [b [#6e1291 "Aw, my love, you needn't be so afraid to show your fear"]]]
Saraya let off an arrow nearly scratching him. He began to walk towards her, and instinct took over. She formed a shield around the three of them, halting The Mage.
[size20 [b [#6e1291 "Why do you resist? Carrick is weak. He will never be able to save you. You deserve a strong partner, my Lady. Your blood proves it!"]]]
Saraya swiped her hand upward, the wind slicing the deck as her target retreated. She saw an opportunity and looked to Rhuarc. [I [#da3c18 "Quickly, go... "]] she said quickly. Rhuarc took no time in grabbing Aria and running to the opening that led below deck. She hugged her belly and made an attempt to make it to safety.
She wasn't fast enough.
The Mage was blocking her only one way to Sanctuary.
[size20 [b [#6e1291 "I WILL CUT HIS UNWORTHY SEED FROM YOUR WOMB AND MAKE YOU MINE!"]]] He bellowed in declaration.
Saraya had grabbed her double edge sword, backing away slowly from him.
The Mage tried using his spells on her, but her blade deflected every one. He was surprised by this. She used her wind abilities to crack against the deck's surface where he stood. He backed away, becoming thoroughly annoyed. She just wouldn't stop fighting! Still, he pushed.
[size20 [b [#6e1291 "Do you not see? Your power well exceeds them. They can not defeat you now, no matter how hard they try! You can end this voyage now! Come to me!"]]]
Saraya growled. He thought her [I THAT] naive? She almost found it insulting. She couldn't help it. Sayan and Caledon couldn't have dreamed of what they saw next.
Agitated, Saraya lowered her weapon and began rubbing the bridge of her nose. The Mage was confused as she instantly switched up the weight in the air. He heard her sigh in frustration. [I [#da3c18 "Let us have an understanding, Mage"]] she began as she opened her eyes half mast. He could see an abysmal darkness in place of her eyes. It was an emptiness he hadn't seen or felt before. [I [#da3c18 "... You're weak"]]
The Mage growled.
[size20 [b [#6e1291 "Watch your tongue "]]]
[I [#da3c18 "You wish to overthrow your own master, and want to use me as that weapon, ushering in a darkness that will span all eternity... But, why can't you do it yourself?"]]
The Mage flinched. [I [#da3c18 "Malik will meet his end. I will make sure of that. But, I will never be so naive as to side with a low down, traitorous snake like you"]]
The Mage launched at her. Saraya was quick. She grabbed onto his wrist, and slammed him down onto the deck, the wooden planks giving to her strength. [I [#da3c18 "Whoo... Struck a nerve, have I?"]]
She quickly looked to Aria and Rhuarc before saying [I [#da3c18 "I was not finished"]]
She backed away quickly and turned to them. [I [#da3c18 "Get Carrick! Go!"]]
They ran below deck before she turned to The Mage. [I [#da3c18 "I will never follow you, Mage... You say I'm stronger without them, I'm stronger with them. They've become my family-"]]
[size20 [b [#6e1291 "It wasn't sisterly to leave the Jai for dead, or the Lad"]]]
Saraya felt a throbbing pain of Ayab's and Balden's death.
Before she could react, The Mage slammed her down onto the deck on her side. Saraya's scream was loud and clear. She grabbed and hugged her belly as a splitting crack of pain erupted from her spine to her belly. The Mage laughed as he grabbed her arm and lifted her. He punched her belly, making the air escape her lungs. He tossed her aside, Saraya hitting her back against the passageway door, knocking the air back into her lungs, and she vomited blood before letting out a screeching cry. A wood shard pierced her right side, lodged in her lower back. She couldn't move!
She saw The Mage coming. She tried to scoot away, but the wooden shard wouldn't let her. The Mage grabbed her and yanked her from the shard before slamming her against the deck again. Saraya spat up blood. She set up her shield again, stopping him. She could see his angry expression as she started scooting again, holding onto her belly blood seeping onto her dress from the wound in her back. She could hear Caledon and Sayan hollering to keep her shield up until help had arrived.
Saraya winced in pain as she spat up blood. Help had better come now!
She watched as the Mage bellowed.
[size20 [b [#6e1291 "IF I CANNOT HAVE YOU, I WILL KILL YOU AND RESURRECT YOU AS MY WHORE!"]]]
Aria tried to convince him that he bore no guilt over Adimar and that he would be finre given time and rest but the Jai didn't feel any better at her words. Rhuarc would need to wait until Adimar awoke...if he awoke, and see for himself and voice his own apologies to the Volshi Guardian. Aria didn't seem to realise just how serious a situation that Rhuarc had created, not only had he used the power and magic of another but had he not released Adiamr's power when he did the Volshi man could be dead. That fact was terrifying, Rhuarc could have just ended their entire crusade against Malik in an instant, they could not win without all of the Guardians. Was hurting the Fade worth risking the lives of his friends and the hope of the common people for a life without Malik? Rhuarc was not sure but it was something that he would need to figure out quickly before the Fade attacked them again and the Jai was sure that soon enough that abomination would be hunting them again.
Holding Aria in his arms was comforting despite the pained protests of his body, she understood his loss and her admission that she felt at fault hurt him more than the cuts, bruises or broken bones paining him right now, he never wanted to see her in pain but knowing the loss that this war caused was important for her as a leader, as Priestess she needed to understand what the cost of this battle would be but that didn't make it any easier to take on a personal level. As they separated Aria continued to work on bandaging and patching him up to the best of her abilities. When she was finished for the time being she gave him a stern look, the sort of look that always seemed so amusing to Rhuarc, how one so small could be so fierce. It was one of the things that he loved about her. [b "I will try Priestess."] Rhuarc was certain that sleep would evade him for the time being, he simply had too much on his mind...Ayab's death, Adimar's condition and Balden's betrayal.
Balden's betrayal had cut Rhuarc deeply and it was one of the things that he was most ashamed of. He had been the boy's teacher and had spent a lot of time with the former blacksmith's apprentice. He had liked the boy and thought that he knew him but obviously he didn't have a clue. How could he not see the betrayal coming...how could he not see the darkness in the boy's heart? The boy had changed since leaving Kil'heed and running to Fenlyk and Rhuarc wondered that if he had seen the change in Balden that Lady Stanos might still be alive and that Lara would be with them now heading to Caledon with the rest of the Guardians. Rhuarc thought about everything through the night, and sleep did not come for the Jai. Soon enough the first rays of morning sun could be seen outside and for the first time since getting on the ship Rhuarc decided to leave his cabin. Instead of heading outside onto the deck of the ship Rhuarc headed to the Infirmary, as Aria had instructed him to and he supposed that sh was right, he probably should see a healer but he had other motives for going to the infirmary.
As he entered the room his eyes were first drawn to Adimar's sleeping form, he looked weak, weaker than Rhuarc had ever sen him before and he could not help but feel responsible for the state of his friend. A healer came over as he entered the room, a small, plump woman who eyed him over quickly before firmly sitting him down in a chair and stitching up some of his wore cuts, she redid the bandages around his ribs in an efficient, if not entirely comfortable manner. She was a good healer, efficient if a little bit rough but Rhuarc welcomed that. She applied a salve and gave him a foul tasting tincture to drink but afterwards she was satisfied that his wounds would heal in time and there was nothing more that could be done for now. She instructed the Jai to come back in a few days to have his bandaged checked, cleaned and replaced. The plump woman made it clear in no uncertain terms that she would be displeased if she did not see the Jai then...and Rhuarc had no wish to displease Healer Meena, she was fierce enough to match the False King for ferocity. When Rhuarc was done he had intended to wait for Adimar to awaken but instead he made his way over to Saraya, she was awake and would make for better company. [b "Greetings Saraya, how goes it? I wish to thank you for the part you played during the battle in Astoria. I do not think that we would have escaped without you. You have my gratitude, and my respect. You gained much honour."] As he mentioned the honour that Saraya gained another thought came to the mind of the Jai. Ayab. Rhuarc remembered his friend telling him how it was Saraya that had kept the Fade's corruption at bay and allowed him the time to fight in the battle and how he had [i Toh] towards Saraya. He would never be able to repay that debt to her now. Not being able to repay a debt of [i Toh] would normally be a source of great dishonour but the manner of his death meant that he was not at fault for not being able to pay it. Despite Ayab acting in the correct manner he knew that his friend would want his debt paid so Rhuarc would do what he could. It would be one way that he could remember his friend. [b "Saraya before he died Ayab told me what you did for him, how you helped slow the Fade's poison. he told me of the [i Toh] he owed you."] Rhuarc dropped to a nee in front of her. [b "I will take on his debt so his honour may remain intact. I shall bear his [i Toh]. Do you accept my offer?"]
Aria was mindful to be careful and gentle with Rhuarc’s wounds. The conversation helped to distract him from the sting of the witch hazel that cleaned his wounds, but it didn’t help with the stinging loss of Ayab. She felt it too, but with Rhuarc’s words she knew she did not feel it in the same capacity as Rhuarc -who had lost a life long friend. He also carried a fear that he had harmed Adimar in damaging the Fade. Aria disagreed, but didn’t voice it at the moment, she needed to do more research. She was worried for Adimar who was still unconscious, but she didn’t fear him dying. She reached out to hold his shoulder and frowned.
[+pink “Adimar will be alright, he just needs time to heal, don’t blame yourself. He knew what he was doing and risks involved.”] She tried to tell him, but Rhuarc was still unconvinced. She supposed it would take Adimar waking up for Rhuarc to be at peace with it.
Rhuarc continued to explain to her how Ayab died. She frowned, picturing it in her mind as she applied a healing salve to Rhuarc’s wounds. It would stave off any infection, without robbing him of a well earned scar. She agreed the loss of Ayab was damaging to their group, so was the loss of Balden. She was focused on her task, when she felt his hand on her face and her own subsequent sting on her cheek. He praised her for her first scar, and tried to boost her confidence with a claim that she may be a warrior yet, but the burden of Ayab and Balden’s deaths were weighing heavily on her. She’d never lost a friend before -her mentor and guardian, yes... but never a friend. He asked how she was doing and she sighed, dropping her hands to her lap and frowned.
[+pink “I feel I am at fault, and I fear for the others traveling with us, and the lives we lost today. I’m not entirely certain how to feel, or how I should mourn the loss, but I know I feel guilt, and I know I’m going to miss his council.”] Rhuarc shared her sentiment, voicing he missed him, and then collected her into his arms.
She held him for as long as he needed, or rather they held each other. She could feel the swollen bruises on his body, and intended to see to his other wounds. Infection was something they could not afford, and she resigned to have her own cheek seen to by a healer later. For now, she knew her proud warrior would not go to a healer, and his greatest wound could not be healed by gifted hands, but only by time and patience. Aria couldn’t deny how nice it felt to be held either, she clung to him as tightly as he clung to her, and at his kiss she was made light and airy. She wished they could be free to express themselves, but the risk was too great, and while Aria cared for the other Guardians, Rhuarc was her weakness. When that had begun she wasn’t certain, perhaps it had been that first night, hidden in a false bottom of a wagon with no one to keep her company but the large Jai, or perhaps it had happened while on the road and their long conversations regarding their differing cultures. Regardless, she had grown fond of him, and had come to love him... even if she hadn’t admitted it. Neither of them had, but it seemed they didn’t need to -they could express enough between them by the way they looked at the other alone. That too, could be dangerous.
She parted from him with a sad little sniffle, but returned to her task of cleaning and wrapping the wounds that needed covered, but when it came to his bruises and more internal injuries she gave him a stern look and told him to find the Healer come morning. [+pink “Get some rest, I’ll be by to check on you later in the night. I expect to see you bright and early in the infirmary to have those ribs looked at. I’m going to sit with Adimar until he wakes. Soon I’ll know when we should be arriving in Caledon, and we can plan our next steps. Seriously though, please try and get some sleep,”] she parted from him with a final kiss and left the room to sit by Adimar’s side.
Saraya was still asleep with Carrick at her side when Aria returned to the Infirmary. All was quiet on the ship and it felt odd without Lara’s presence. Somewhere in the night Aria fell asleep with her own head on Adimar’s cot, in much the same way Carrick had fallen asleep in his chair next to Saraya. Still Aria found herself startled awake when she felt the dark and familiar presence of the Mage. She looked around the dark infirmary and found everyone deep in sleep, but she spied Saraya moving from the washroom and stealing away to the upper deck. Curious and uncertain if the Mage had in fact resurfaced, Aria rose from her seat and made to follow.
Quietly she followed Saraya, unaware another was watching her and following. Luther kept his distance, but never revealed himself. He had been watching Aria closely, and was relieved to see her return to the ship unscathed. He was also glad that he had been on the docks with Rhuarc, as he didn’t think they would have held it without the help of the Watcher, but that was probably the man’s ego talking. He made no move to hide himself and instead took up a seat on a barrel across the deck to allow the woman some privacy and watched as she approached a pensive looking Saraya.
[+pink “Saraya, are you and baby alright? You preformed an impressive feat during the battle, we wouldn’t have been able to hold off the forces without yours or Adimar’s skills. I sensed something dark earlier... it was the Mage wasn’t it?”] Aria frowned and placed a hand to Saraya’s shoulder in worry and in comfort. [+pink “I think we should prepare to face him soon... he seems determined to reach you in much the same way Malik is determined to reach me. Do you have a plan to confront him before he does you?”] Aria asked, ready to stand by Saraya’s side and fight with her, for her, and help her plan the Mage’s destruction.
[b [u Fenlyk Wetlands outside of Astoria]]
The Hoard marched behind him, his face shrouded by a tattered black hooded cloak and a face plate made to look like a raven’s skull. It cut a formidable visage of terror, allowing her black eyes to glitter behind his mask with rage. He could see from his vantage that his naval fleet had been sunk, and his Necromancer was dead -for half of his hoard fell upon the man’s death. It infuriated him. He gripped the reins of his horse, a decrepit creature that seemed to be made of night, with oily black hair, and seeming to drip oil and blood. It’s hooves were even misshapen and its eyes a deep blood red. Steam puffed from its nose with a chuff, a mirror of Malik’s own ire. She had been within reach, but with a look to the sky he caught the faint image of a Volshi Airship taking to the sky and heading North. He glared behind his mask, knowing she had moved on, and he had lost Astoria.
Ahead of him stood the crumbling city and he saw on the top battlements was a group of people all being led by a red headed pistol who seemed to aim her bowstaff at him. He grit his teeth.
The Guardian of Fenlyk had returned, and without the Necromancer or his full hoard he knew he could not take back the city. Not this day at least. It was a crushing defeat, and so he made plans to return to Central City and begin to dig into more darker magics. He turned to his hoard and shouted at them.
[+red “Go! Head north and begin raiding the villages of Caledon. Draw the Guardians back out! And if you find Egos... kill him for his betrayal.”] Malik hissed behind his mask, he then turned his horse and made his way back to Central City alone, while his hoard marched North to begin their campaign of destruction. To himself Malik cursed under his breath, [+red “If she wants a fight, then I’ll give her one...”]
Saraya has drowned out the sounds of Sayan and Caledon panicking about a solution. She had spent the break of dawn watching the sun rise, and silently pondered on the next trial that would await them. This one costed them the life of Ayab, a faithful man of Jai'hash. It may have costed them more significant lives just trying to get everyone out and safe.
The water beating against the shore kept her thoughts calm. She could feel the pain slowly subsiding, but it left a violent mark along her chest, and it stretched along her right side that became a violent color. Though she couldn't feel the pain anymore, she still felt an irritating twing. There was a thought as the sun began to appear from behind the ocean. Aria... Carrick can't be divided between the two of them. Aria and she are in need of each other, perhaps. Saraya may be facing something that may need Aria's help to pull her through. No doubt, their next destination was Caledon. She didn't feel ready to see what had became of her once shimmering homeland. She hadn't forgotten the vision she had, the dream that was violent, and could mean dire circumstances for her and Aramis. She was thinking... That if she blacks out and use up all her energy while fighting, she may not be able to channel her arcane powers next time, and could damage her to where there is no coming back. And that, was not a very pleasant thought.
Saraya's sombering thought was this... Saraya would have to defeat The Mage... Carrick is her only way of staying the way she needed to be. Her biggest problem... Was how serious it was getting. She had to think as a Guardian now... Warrior,
[center In all.]
Saraya's silent thoughts were cut short when the annoying nagging of Sayan and Caledon erupted again.
[b [i She channeled her energy, Caledon, if she hadn't she'd be in far worse condition than this]]
[b That still doesn't excuse the fact that she let her anger get the better of her]
[i [#da3c18 You do realize that i can hear everything you're saying right now, right?]]
Caledon and Sayan halted a moment when she spoke. [#da3c18 [i "I did let my anger get the best of me, but i am not being idiotic about this. I managed to help some... So it counts"]]
She felt Sayan and Caledon somber down a moment. [#da3c18 [i "After taking back Fenlyk... We will be making it to the next mission... I think we're going to Caledon... "]]
[b [i Saraya, are you okay?]]
[i [#da3c18 "No... The Mage waits for me there... And bringing Corbin along will make it worse. Aramis and i are going to be in danger... And i don't know what Carrick will do... But..."]] she sighed as she felt the sting in her unconsciousness. [#da3c18 [i "I don't suppose i can't figure this out"]]
[b You should tell Carrick who Corbin is... What he is] Caledon said.
[i [b You think so?]] Sayan seemed both amused and concerned.
[b I feel that it will benefit, even though it'll shock him a bit. Corbin knows little of the damage it will cost Saraya. Carrick needs to know so he can protect her]
[b [i Even if it means killing him?]]
Saraya's brow furrowed. She wished that wasn't a scenario... But it was. If he grew too out of control when around The Mage... They may not have a choice...
[I [#da3c18 "Caledon's right. It holds no benefit to keep the secret from him... I only found out moments ago. So..."]]
[b i shall tell him]
Saraya was sort of shocked of the news. But, in the condition she's in, she would be incapable of talking in clear sentences, let alone stay awake long enough to tell him.
But, she didn't let it stop her. She'd wake, but never long. She would fall back to sleep before she could utter a word... Until she tried again.
She had awakened hours later. Everything looked familiar. Were they already on a ship to Caledon?
She was fully awake. Carrick felt her move a bit and woke up with a start. The both of them exchanged looks before Carrick hurried to her face and kissed her.
It was harsh at first, desperate, but it softened. Carrick had been worried sick the entire time. She grunted, trying sit up before Carrick assisted. Once upright, Saraya could see the room. She could breathe again. And just when she could sigh in relief, she saw Corbin guarding the door.
With everything going on, she was somewhat relieved they were on the ship. But, the news she knew Carrick had gotten would come up when he asked her if she was alright. She waited until she was feeling fully awake before wanting to go to the restroom... She slowly had gotten out of bed, carefully trying to hurry to the restroom.
After the restroom, she carefully tried to stand and felt three times tired than before. She really couldn't move as much. In all honesty, she didn't feel like talk about Corbin, either. Her being on the ship meant they were moving to Caledon. She needed to rest... And she really needed a bath.
She managed to stand, and shed away her clothes before sitting in the steamy bath. It relaxed her more after sitting down... Nothing was happening, but she knew she wasn't going to think so beautifully about the situation. She could tell Lara wasn't with them, Corbin was a problem for her because he may just flip and try to kill her if he is too close to The Mage... And The Mage was trying to get to her... And as she closed her eyes, she spoken too soon.
The Mage appeared almost instantly in her mind. As a panic washed over her, she attempted to escape him. She knew that there was something terribly wrong when she saw his twisted face in such a fashion. She didnt know what to do. She did know that she needed to wake up.
Sitting up with a start, she splashed water everywhere as she looked around for any evidence of the pervert, but there was none. The rest of her time in the bath was short as she climbed out. Corbin and Carrick were speaking amongst each other while standing around Adimar, so she slithered away and up to the deck.
She needed air. And, it was only a matter of time before Carrick would come to her about Corbin. She needed to stay calm.
Even with the Fade having fled the battlefield Rhuarc still had to cut his way through the necromancer's army of undead to reach the ships. he had initially thought of fighting his way over to Aria, Max and Lara but in his current state it simply wasn't an option, he was injured and losing strength rapidly, he needed to head to the ships. If he died then they would never be able to defeat Malik, they needed all four of the Guardians. With his muscled screaming in protest it took a while but eventually Rhuiarc managed to find his way onto one of the ships and away from the battle. It was hard to tell if this had been a success or not, they had certainly achieved what they had set out to but they had lost many lives in the attempt besides, Malik was about to land and who knew what he was capable of. He was leaning against the edge of the ship, catching his breath, pain coursing through his body, the Jai casually glanced around the ship looking for the others when a small white blur came and hit him in the chest with surprising force as Aria wrapped her arms around him. He let out a yelp of pain as she impacted his broken ribs, but the pain was worth it to know that Aria had survived the ordeal in Astoria. She reached up and touched his eye lightly with her hand causing him to wince in pain again. Rhuarc mainly kept to himself for the time they were on the boat before transferring onto the airship heading for Caledon.
Even though he was injured, and injured badly it was merely the hurt of a soldier that he was feeling, unlike Adimar and Saraya whos injuries were more severe and required the attentions of the healers more than he did. Rhuarc stayed to his cabin and barely ventured outside. Truth be told he mainly only did two things, he rested and he thought about Ayab. He missed his friend. He had known Ayab for his entire life and his friendship had menat a lot to Rhuarc, he had been a constant source of support, a reliable soldier in a battle and always willing to trust Rhuarc. The world would be a worse place without Ayab in it. He knew that they had to go to Caledon but part of him wished that they could go to the Wastelands, so that he could see Ayab's family and tell them that he died in battle and acted with honour. He took out Ayab's belt knife and stared at the steel blade for he didn't know how long, it could have been minutes or hours, his mind on his dead friend until he heard a knock at the door. He didn't particularly want to see anyone but this could be important, Aria entered with a cloth and a bowl of water and started cleaning his wound while he still sat on the bed staring at the belt knife, occasionally wincing in pain as she dabbed at his eye. [b "Thank you Priestess. He was a good friend and I will miss him. I always knew there was the possibility that he would fall in battle and I have had other friends who have fallen to Malik's armies back home but none have been as painful as losing Ayab."] Aria mentioned that there had been some positives to come out of the battle, like finding a way to harm the Fade but Rhuarc wasn't so sure about that either. [b "I may have found a way to harm the Fade but at what cost? I feel responsible for Adimar's condition. I don't know how I did it but I took his power for myself, I channeled his magic, I was directing the power but he was still supplying the energy for it. I could have killed him, what if he is in such a bad state because I drew too much energy through him. If he dies it will be my doing."] Rhuarc was deeply ashamed at what he had done to Adimar, even if it was the only way to harm the Fade, he had stolen Adimar's magic, it was tantamount to rape. Adimar was still unconscious from what he had heard and still had very little strength, Rhuarc would have great [i Toh] towards the Volshi Guardian. [b "There was nothing peaceful about his end Priestess, that abomination ripped out his throat and killed him. For the brief time that he was still alive he was drowning in his own blood. I may have burned his body to stop the Necromancer from desecrating it but that was not Ayab. The Fade had already taken his life."]
Rhuarc saw the cut on Aria's cheek, it seemed that she had not emerged from the battle entirely unscathed but considering how bad Rhuarc looked, Aria had gotten off lightly. He took a finger and gently touched the wound. [b "Your first battle scar...in Adbhu'Jai this would be a great occasion. It seems that we will make a warrior of you yet Priestess."] Rhuarc looked into Aria's eyes and he could see the sadness in them, Ayab had been her friend as well and she had not grown up like the Jai had; surrounded by battles and death. She had suffered her own losses to be sure but Rhuarc wasn't sure if she had ever lost a friend before. [b "I am not the only one to grieve, you lost a friend in Ayab as well. How are you holding up?"] In the very beginning the Ayab may have been a little gruff but soon enough he had settled into the group and become as much a part of it as any of the Guardians. This was the first time that they had personally lost someone close to them on their journey and Rhuarc was sure that it would not be the last. Who would be next? Carrick? Max? Thad? Corbin? It could be anyone or even one of the Guardians. What they were doing was dangerous and death was inevitable but it didn't make it any easier. [b "I miss him Aria."] Aria had just about finished tending to the cut by his eye by now, his ribs were still paining him as were the numerous smaller cuts caused by arrows and blades that had struck him during the course of the battle but he didn't care about those right now. He gritted his teeth through the pain as he wrapped his arms around Aria as tightly as his battered body would allow, embracing Aria as emotion over Ayab's loss threatened to overwhelm him. Rhuarc took comfort in the arms of Aria, he knew that they couldn't show his affections for her in public but here in the privacy of his cabin he could express those feelings. In many ways it was appropriate, Ayab had approved of Rhuarc's naming Aria his [i da'thei] and Rhuarc had sometimes wondered if Ayab had felt a similar way about him but he would never find out whether that was true. Rhuarc was grateful that Aria had come to him, whether he was too deep in his grief or too proud to seek her out himself he was not sure but he knew that he would not have gone to her, but her being here now meant a great deal to him. The Jai Guardian planted a kiss on the Priestess' lips and in that moment the love he felt for the woman in front of him was almost enough to break through the veil of grief that was hanging over him but for now Rhuarc's loss was too great to be beaten so easily. [b "Thank you Aria, for being here."]
Aria watched for a brief moment as Lara dodged a heavy swing from Balden’s blade. He moved with lethal precision, striking out at Lara without comment. His face blank and emotionless. No matter what Lara tried to say to him, it fell on deaf ears. Balden was long gone. The Fade had seen to that many months ago. Whatever little piece of him that had been left to retain his place among the resistance was snuffed out. Not even Lara’s pleas could penetrate the void inside Balden. He knew only one thing: Destroy the Guardians.
Lara was fast and spry, evading Balden and hesitating to actually strike back. Part of her hoped Balden could be saved, but with a single dark flash of his eyes at her final desperate plea -she knew Balden was gone. He charged at her sword in hand, and came ready to swing it up and across her body. It connected with her staff, when his attention was suddenly diverted to a new figure on the field.
[+pink “Lara! Fight back!”] she called, her own eyes gleaming that same bright magenta from before. Balden’s attention was on Aria, and he shoved Lara off and began to charge for Aria. Max was busy covering Aria’s other side, that he reacted to late to stop Balden’s strike. Aria managed it just in time, but the hit knocked her backwards and to the ground. Feet stomped around her head and she looked up to see Balden rising his sword up. Before he could bring it down, Lara’s staff came flying down from overhead. She had jumped the space and struck Balden so fiercely upon his head he spun on his foot.
Finally an expression permeated his face, one of shock. He was stunned. Blood and spittle went flying from his mouth and he fell face first into the dirt. Lara stood over him, heaving breath and helped Aria to her feet. Balden remained a lifeless lump, blood pooling from his head. Lara had struck him with terrible force Max was there the next moment covering them both.
[b “This is all bullocks if we can’t stop that Necromancer.”] he barked at them. Aria agreed and spotted him just out of reach, on the rocks surrounding the dock.
[+pink “Get me to him,”] Aria ordered and Lara, gave a quick nod of her head, drawing water up from the shores and vaulting Aria over the several yards to him.
The Necromancer looked up with a grin as Aria came upon him with a wave of water behind her, and the seas turning the ships over violently in the bay. Lightning was now spiderwebbing across the sky and rain was falling in torrents. Adimar’s storm was proving to be a powerful one. She just hoped it was powerful enough. He was ready with a sword of his own. The blade was curved and clearly made of Jai forged steel. At least that hadn’t been a lie about him.
[+purple “My Master is making an awful big fuss over you, but after watching you these past weeks… I can see why,”] His voice was snakelike, and while he held the sword in one hand, his other began to burn with purple fire. [+purple “I see you have magic too. He says you are Azera’s reincarnation. That you have all of her memories. Is that true? Is this how you’ve learned to fight? Facing me means you might end up part of my collection-“] he glared to see her suddenly grin.
[+pink “You can’t kill me…”]
He shouted at his dead to capture her. He was going to run and Aria wasn’t having it. She chased after him, Lara and Max making it to her position and helpless to watch as she engaged The Necromancer in combat. Their swords clashed in rapid hits. He attempted to burn her with his fire, but she trapped it with water from the rain, before forcing it upon his face. She kicked him back, and went to strike, but he countered and they were back to their back and forth. For a magical user -he was quite proficient with a blade, but like any Jai he fought with cunning ruthlessness. Aria was beginning to struggle keeping up, Azera’s power and knowledge beginning to fade as Aria ran out of her own Arcane powers.
Their fight was broken by the sudden wailing and scream of the Fade. Aria and Rhys both looked to see Rhuarc deal a devastating blow to the abomination. He staggered and Aria looked back to Lara. As much as Aria wanted to send Lara and Max to Rhuarc, she needed their help with The Necromancer. She had to trust that Rhuarc would be safe, and she couldn’t dwell on it because The Necromancer had turned on her again, and this time he got her. His purple fire struck her square in the chest, and did something wholly unexpected. Instead of burning it knocked her into the Astral Plane. Her body fell limp to the ground, but before any dead could grab her or Rhys, Lara came in with an upper swing of her staff, clocking Rhys in the face. His head jerked to the side, and he spit out blood from his mouth and glared at Lara. [+ “You stupid bitch”] he spat and raised his sword at her.
It was Lara’s turn to engage Rhys. Max moved in and lifted Aria up into his arms. [b “What the hell did he do to you?”] Max asked, unaware of Aria’s ability to travel between realms. Aria had never been forced into the Astral Plane before, and it was not a situation she was enjoying at the moment.
Everything was dark, shrouded in mists, and dimly illuminated by no particular light source. Aria felt dizzy, sitting on a cool nondescript ground and looking around. She could see the shadows of the battlefield around her, Max’s arms holding her, and she could sense she was not alone.
[+red “He’s coming for you… they think you are weak -wake up!”] The voices f Azera roared into her mind. Aria struggled to find a way back to her own body. When the thought struck her to simply close her eyes and relax. She was in command of her own mind, and her own body, and she willed herself back to the land of the living.
Outside Max had all he could do to protect Aria from the dead picking her up and carrying her away. Thankfully Lara was holding the Necromancer at bay, when Aria suddenly gasped and wheezed for air. Azera’s magenta gleam had died off though. The fire had burned out and all that was left was a disoriented Aria. She looked across to see Max fighting off the dead, and Lara getting thrown back by a vengeful and angry Necromancer, but another figure caught Aria by surprise. Running headlong was Lady Stanos. She was covered in blood and mud, soaking wet from the rain, like all of them and heading straight for the Necromancer who was heading for Lara.
[+pink “Max!”] Aria screamed for him, her hand pointing towards Lara who had been knocked back and was attempting to catch her bearings. Max turned instantly and tried to reach Lara in time as well. Max managed to tackle The Necromancer to the ground, but not before his sword found lodging in the gut of Lady Stanos. She stood over Lara protectively, and fell to her knees. Max who had the upper hand the briefest of moments, raised up his knife and plunged it down into Rhys’ chest. He fought to stay alive, snarling at Max, who simply twisted the blade and ended the Necromancer. Instantly the undead collapsed leaving over half the field empty. Seeing the dead fall, the battle swung heavily in favor of the Resistance who now came out into the field to clear a path for the Guardians and the Priestess to board a ship.
Max had dealt the final blow to the Necromancer and Adimar’s storm began to die down as well, as he’d managed to sink Malik’s fleet. He’d run them into the other, capsizing them, and letting lighting catch them ablaze. Carrick had fortunately found his way to Adimar’s hiding spot and caught him just before he fell unconscious to the ground. Getting Adimar back was another story. Between both their armor and their weapons, there was a lot of weight to carry. Carrick shouted for help, seeing a small lull in the battle with the defeat of the Necromancer. Several Resistance fighters rushed over at his call and took Adimar up into their arms. He was icy cold to the touch, paler than usual with blue lips and eyes lids, and his breathing was slow and labored. Even Carrick could tell there was not much a Healer could do. Adimar would have to recover the energy on his own with time. He had spent his powers to his own breaking point -nearly killing himself, but it had worked out. Debris and bodies now floated in the harbor and the winds had died down as did the rain and the surf. Carrick leaned against a pole on the dock and removed his helmet and looked around. Saraya and Adimar were now safe on the ship until they could escape to the rendezvous where they would meet up with the air ship. He would wait for the others to return before he boarded.
When they finally arrived to the ship, Max was carrying the body of Lady Stanos, and Aria was walking with Lara. Lara who would not board...
[+purple “I have to stay here... help rebuild and guard them from further attack...”] Aria frowned at Lara, they couldn’t break up now, and Malik was on his way. It hadn’t escaped Lara either, who knew what she was doing, risking, and what she could be saving by staying behind. As if to further reinforce her wish to stay, Malik’s war horn could be heard on the other side of the city.
[+pink “You can’t fight Malik alone.”]
[+purple “He’ll think I’m with you, besides, once he learns you’ve left he’ll go after you.”]
[+pink “You sound so confident.”]
[+purple “It doesn’t matter. You have to go. Now!”] Lara then all but pushed Aria towards Carrick who didn’t argue, simply grabbed a screaming Aria and took her aboard the ship.
[+pink “No! Lara! Please! Come with us!”]
[+Purple “I’ll find you! I promise, I’ll return before the final battle!”] Lara called, turning from them and collected with the remaining resistance fighters. There was nothing to be done, as Lara had quite suddenly used the water to push the ships out from their docks and the bulk of them began to head south for the River Nine access. A single ship carrying the Guardians moved north before it would make its trip south.
Aria finally pushed herself from Carrick, and looked to see that many were huddled around Lady Stanos, most of them in tears. Aria felt her own cheeks burning with the threat of tears, and finally demanded of Carrick and Max where the other guardians were.
[+blue “Saraya and Adimar are safe down below. I have not seen Rhuarc, yet”] She finally spotted him, looking about as well. Throwing caution to the wind, she shouted for Rhuarc. She ran across the deck and towards him before all but throwing herself upon him. She was beyond relieved to see he was still standing if not bruised and bloodied. Seeing his bludgeoned face she reached up, brow pinch with worry, and she carefully touched the edge of his swelling eye and could see the blood vessels in his eye had ruptured as well, making his eyes burn with a reddened glow. [+pink “You need a healer...”] There wasn’t much time as they were sailing quickly to the rendezvous, and there waiting on the northern shores was the Airship. They needed to help make preparations to transfer ships. So their reunion post battle would have to wait.
Both ships tied off to the other and laid across a heavy plank for the Guardians and company to cross. Aria was shuttled across first, followed by the others and a small group of healers that wished to stay with the Guardians and tend to both Saraya and Adimar as they were in the worst state compared to the others. With the transfer complete, the Fenlyk ship made its turn south and the airship lifted up from the water and towards Caledon. Aria couldn’t shake the fear she had for Lara back in Fenlyk, or those who remained to hold off Malik’s forces. Time would tell what happened after they left, and part of her felt guilty for leaving before the battle was officially won, but Lara was right... Aria could not be there when Malik arrived. If she was to face him now, they would surely all be lost.
The flight was quiet and somber, and Aria sat down in the infirmary with plenty of time and quiet to think about everything. Adimar laid in one bed, and Saraya in another, Carrick sleeping worriedly at her side, his head resting by his hand that held hers, and his large body slumped in the chair beside her bed. Aria sat by Adimar who was still unconscious and deathly pale, but he had begun to start shivering which was a good sign. Aria kept him covered in blankets to stay warm and in his fleeting moments of lucidity she fed him spoonfuls of broth. Corbin was keeping watch of the room with a nurse while Max gathered some rest. Aria simply sat, her mind drowning in thoughts of Balden’s betrayal, his loss, the loss of Ayab, how Rhuarc must have been handling it... and how she was handling the loss of her friends. Lady Stanos’ sacrifice to save Lara, and the realization they were going to Caledon without her. It just seemed strange, they had started this journey together, she had simply assumed they would always be together. If they did survive and defeat Malik she supposed she would have to accept that the Guardians would leave to return to their own lives. No doubt Lara was on the fast track to becoming the leader of the Fenlyk people. Saraya and Carrick would probably leave to raise their child and live a peaceful quiet life. Adimar might stay to continue his pursuit of Arcane knowledge, but one day he too would be called to return to Volshi. As for Rhuarc, Aria could only hope he would stay... she would miss him the most.
She rose up from her seat without a sound, finally finding the gumption to do more than sit and dwell on the loss from the battle, and collected several first aid items as well as a bowl of fresh cold water and carried it to Rhuarc’s room. Of course he wouldn’t come to the infirmary, so she would go to him. She knocked on his door and waited for permission to enter, and when allowed she entered closing the door softly behind her and set the kit on a table and dipped a clean rag in the water to clean his wounds. Sitting down across from him she reached up to clean the cut by his eye.
[+pink “I’m sorry, about Ayab,”] she whispered holding his face and dabbing at the dried blood.[+pink “We lost lost a lot today... I have to remind myself we had our victories though. You found a way to harm The Fade, The Necromancer was defeated, and we did take back the city...”] If Malik had won it back was another story. [+pink “Caledon’s temple is a couple days away at our current pace... but... are you going to be okay? I heard you... gave Ayab peace.”] her own voice wavered at that and she stopped her tending to simply stare at him, both of them clearly saddened by the loss -Rhuarc more so.
After Carrick left to find Adimar, Saraya was in the care if Corbin and the nurses, all of which, continued to pick and prod at her belly. Saraya was wincing, tears hot on her cheeks as she felt the pain. Corbin had knelt to her and cradled her head as he wiped the sweat from her brow.
Saraya's head was reeling. Her breaths were narrow, her sight was blurring... [i This can't be it... I can't be out now]
Saraya shivered before looking into the battle.
To see Rhuarc fighting for his fallen friend was one thing, but to see Aria... Balden... Lara, she couldn't even help then. Balden had become the traitor, but she saw a small dark aura perched on the back of his neck. She hadn't noticed it before
She then saw the cabin boy. [i Father...]
[b [i He is controling Balden. Let them handle this, Saraya. You're not in good condition. You're in need of extreme care. Your baby is clinging to you and you need to choose your baby now. They will come]]
Saraya saw Carrick and as he locked eyes with hers, she reached, Corbin keeping himself where she could relax. Aria had saw her on the ship. She looked like she was hanging on by a thread before her consciousness was taken away.
Corbin had managed to patch up her arm and leg from the arrows, and looked out to the Guardians. He saw everyone finally board a ship. Balden and the cabin boy were missing... After they were secured below deck, everyone, except Rhuarc had ran to see about Saraya, who was passed out, with Corbin cradling her head. He replaced himself with Carrick before getting orders to get those ships off the docks.
After awhile, though, the ships docked outside the kingdom. The people of Fenlyk had declared victory as they helped everyone onto the sandy shore. Everyone was reunited, elated and in tears. The Priestess and the Guardians were last. Saraya was cradled down to Carrick by Corbin. He set her down on the sand and helped with getting their prisoners. As Carrick looked around, he found Aria... Lara... Rhuarc was angry, and was making a fire away from company... He didn't see Lady Stanos. Balden, the traitor, the cabin boy... They were missing. After being sure she was perched against a tree, he went to check on Rhuarc.
They were setting up camp. Tonight everyone rests... Tomorrow, the people reclaim Fenlyk.
Night had fallen. Corbin had grabbed some rations, after having his fill and made his way where Saraya was in hopes that she was awake.
Well... She was awake.
She was standing at the bank, watching the moon rise slowly. The air was soft, as if the land had finally taken a freeing breath. She suddenly turned to Corbin, sighing as she turned her gaze away to the horizon as she began speaking slowly.
[i "War has many ways of scarring even the strongest of warriors"] She said, looking out to the sea before letting out a chuckle. [i "But... Who i was compared to what i am now... Through my years of using my sword, coming home unscathed..."] she sighed hopelessly... [i "I never thought on how much it has scarred me"]
Corbin noticed that Carrick was approaching behind her, but motioned him to remain silent as she spoke. [i "I put myself in the way of threats because... Because, if i don't, they would be only a pile, where only the memory of their name exists. I intend to save and give retribution to those who live to see tomorrow... I dedicate my life to that image. I dedicate my life for THAT tomorrow. It is the only place that we truly belong... Where we all..."] she winced as she felt her belly... And as she did, she felt suddenly ready to pass out. [i "... Belong"]
Leaning against the side of the tree, as an attempt to gain some fresh air became a fight to breathe. She doubled over, holding her belly. She struggled through the wave, clenching the trunk of the tree.
She found a way to sit down without causing anything from getting worse. She caught her wind and started breathing through her nose. Carrick and Corbin had aided, but Carrick assured Corbin that she would be alright and convinced him to go rest. Corbin agreed, leaving Carrick and Saraya on that bank. There, Carrick would make sure Saraya was tended to.
There, Carrick kept checking on her every moment throughout the night. Saraya's unconscious state had been looking worse and worse. The violent bruise on her belly was raging as her patched arm and leg twitched from time to time. When she awakens, he thought, he'd bathe her. For now, he was grateful she was still alive. Only problem is... He needed to speak with Caledon on knowing what to do. He should know, right?
Rhuarc couldn't believe what he was seeing, Ayab was dead, his closest friend in the world was lying on the ground with his throat torn out and it was that abomination that had done it. With all thoughts of Adimar's plan to stop the reinforcements on the ship he took off after the Fade with a bestial squall, rage surging through his body. In this moment if Malik's reinforcements killed everyone in Fenlyk but Rhuarc managed to take his revenge and kill the Fade he would consider that a worthy trade. As Rhuarc charged towards the monster that had killed his friend he felt an aura surround him, it was unfamiliar and if he was being honest not entirely comforting but it seemed to strengthen and protect him, so he didn't really care where the power was coming from. With a mighty swing of his sword he aimed to take the Fade's head off but the evil entity disappeared in front of him and emerged from another shadow to his right reaching out with a hand and trying to slice his throat with the razor sharp nails on his hand, thankfully whatever this aura was forced the monstrosity's attack to bounce off, and a strange look flittered over the monstrous, eyeless face before it was once again replaced by the usual horrible visage. The Fade picked up a flail from a fallen soldier and Rhuarc resumed his onslaught of attacks against the abomination that had taken his friend away from him.
The Fade didn't seem to care if Rhuarc hit with his attacks or not as when Rhuarc cut that unnaturally pale skin with his sword the cuts seemed to snap back into place immediately, only serving to increase Rhuarc's rage. What made matters worse was that while The Fade's touch couldn't penetrate the dark aura surrounding him, the blows with his flail could. Rhuarc had taken a nasty blow on his chest moments ago and he was sure he felt at least a few ribs break. If this battle continued there could only be one winner, it was inevitable. Luckily the whole battlefield was about to change in a number of ways. The first surprise was the arrival of Balden and the cabin boy, Rhuarc thought they were to fight with them but in a startling revelation it turned out that the cabin boy had been the Necromancer all along, and that Balden was a traitor. Rhuarc felt ashamed that it was his former student that was the familiar face that Vega warned them about, he was hurt and enraged by Balden's betrayal and if he hadn't already been engaged in a battle to the death with the Fade Rhuarc would have made Balden his enemy of choice but that task would need to be handled by someone else. With some evil arcane spell the Necromancer cast his spell and the soldiers that Rhuarc and the resistance fighters had worked so hard to slay took up arms against them once more. Including to Rhuarc's horror Ayab. The Fade took advantage of the Jai's distraction and hit him across the head with the flail, the world seemed to spin and only by sheer force of will, or perhaps rage, Rhuarc managed to remain conscious although he was knocked prone. As he lay in the ground, he felt rain start to fall as Adimar summoned a mighty storm to destroy those ships, thunder rumbled above as lightning split the sky and incinerated a ship, keeping Malik's forces from overrunning the docks. Rhuarc rolled over dodging a flail attack that was an attempt to finish him off and managed to scramble to his feet, his head throbbing in pain and blood freely pouring from the wound in his head, he must have looked terrible but that didn't matter, all that mattered was destroying the Fade.
The Jai Guardian lashed out wildly with his sword without any real expectation that it would hit the Fade, he just needed to put some distance between himself and the moster and catch his breath but the legions of undead were making it harder with every second. Rhuarc couldn't let Ayab's corpse suffer this disgraceful fate, it was inhuman. Rhuarc focused and called upon his arcane abilities, he had listen to Adimar speak of the arcane many times in Kil'heed, how he allowed the power of Volshi to flow through him, how he surrendered to the power but the fires of Jai'hash were not like that at all. It was a raging torrent of power, like holding a rapidly flowing river with his bare hands. He couldn't submit tot hat power, it would burn the flesh from his skin and turn his bones to dust, he had to seize it and direct its fury. He did that now against the undead ayab. Flames sprung forth from Rhuarc's palm as he blasted Ayab and reduced his one time best friend to ash, it was what Ayab would have wanted, he wouldn't have been able to stand the thought of being this reanimated shell. As Ayab's body was reduced to dust Rhuarc heard a thud as Ayab's belt knife fell to the floor, Rhuarc quickly scooped it up and tucked it into his own belt in a fluid motion before resuming his attacks on the Fade, his sword now coated in flame. Hopefully that would have some impact upon the dark creature before him. As the rain pounded down and Rhuarc slashed his sword of flame across the Fade but unfortunately it didn't seem to be doing any more damage than anything else. The Fade was toying with him. Rhuarc could hear the thunder taking longer between each crash, each bolt of lightning seemingly less powerful, destroying these ships was taking a huge toll on Adimar and even Rhuarc knew that large scale displays of arcane ability like this couldn't last long.
Rhuarc took a chance and glanced around the battlefield, Lara was battling Balden and...was that Aria fighting the Necromancer with a word? When did she learn to use one of those? Rhuarc shifted his focus back onto the Fade, and the battle to survive. Rhuarc tried blasting the abomination with white hot flame and while it seemed to slow the monster it didn't harm it, even when combined with heavy swings from the midnight black blade. Rhuarc needed to do something, anything, or Ayab was not going to be the only one to fall to the Fade this day. The torrent of raging fire inside of him threatened to turn him to ash and as he cast his mind out for serpents, more in desperation than anything else, he felt a new sensation. He could sense a huge well of power coming from up in the sky, from where Adimar was directing his storm. Rhuarc wasn't entirely sure what happened next, he wasn't even sure that what he did was possible yet somehow he did it. Reaching out to the well of power that was in Adimar he seized it, like he would to channel his own powers of Jai'hash and somehow wrestled control of Adimar's magic away from the Volshi Guardian. Adimar was still expending all of the energy to maintain his spells but what he did with them was no longer up to him, that was Rhuarc's choice. Fury still burning within him Rhuarc lashed out with another blast of fire but this time it was coupled with a bolt of lightning that seemed to combine and strike the Fade in the chest. A horrible, inhuman shriek of pain sounded in the air as the Fade was finally wounded and it looked a bad one. The Fade clutched its chest, viscous black blood dripped from the monster and its body seemed to smoke from the impact. If Rhuarc could ever think that the Fade could feel panic he saw that now in its eyeless face. Taken aback by the wounding the Fade dived into a nearby shadow and fled the battlefield which was a lucky as Rhuarc simply could not hold onto Adimar's power for a second longer and released his grasp on the arcane power. It seemed that for now Rhuarc had won his battle against the Fade but things were not over yet. Aria, Lara, Balden and the Necromancer were still on the battlefield, he couldn't leave until they were safe. Bloodied, battered, bruised and exhausted Rhuarc took a few seconds to catch his breath, his left eye was swollen over thanks to the blow from the flail he had taken earlier, restricting his vision but even in his terrible state he knew he could not abandon his friends. Until everyone was on one of the ships he would stay out and fight to protect them. That was his duty.
The temple of Fenlyk’s Challenge would not be like Volshi’s. Aria found herself walking down a hallway of stone blue marble and gold inlay. Sconces made of coral decorated the walls creating a gentle glow of light by use of bioluminescent algae. Around her feet hermit crabs, other crawling crustaceans, and turtles wandered the floor. There must have been a path to the ocean from here. How that was possible, she didn’t know. Azera’s memories were fading, and Aria could feel the weight of the sword in her hand, as well as her muscles twitching from the use they were unaccustomed to. It meant figuring out Fenlyk’s test would mean no help from Azera. Volshi had wanted Aria to confront her fear, refuse her desire, and take a leap of faith.
Fenlyk would be different, she would test Aria in her own way. Aria came to the end of the hallway to see a door. The door had power, and Aria took a steady breath, uncertain of what she would find beyond the door. Slowly she opened the door and was blinded by a bright light. When it faded and died down Aria found herself in the center of an ancient Fenlyk Judicial Court. Of course, the Fenlyk people had created political procedures that were commonly accepted across the four provinces, if not used in their own ways and interpreted differently. By the looks of it Aria was on Trial. Seated ahead of her at the pulpit were several masked figures. The masks had no discernible markings or colors. Everyone in the room wore a bone white mask, there was no face, and no eyes, but Aria still felt eyes on her. They were watching her, judging her… weighing her soul.
[i “You come before this tribunal to answer for your crimes. What say you?”] The faceless judge in his dreary grey robes asked. To her side an entire section of benches were filled with a faceless jury, and they watched her with curiosity, even if Aria couldn’t see their expressions.
[+pink “My… crimes?”] She asked the pulpit and its seven judges.
[i “Oh yes, you are not so good as the world sees you… Priestess… if that’s what you are. So do you claim to be guilty?”]
[+pink “I claim nothing until I know the charges against me. I also know I am entitled to representation during a trial.”]
[i “Who do you choose for your defense?”] Aria had to ponder that. She tried to think of who best to use… but the only name she had came from an elder before the raids. He was long dead and no help- [i “The defense has chosen!”] The tribunal suddenly exclaimed slamming a gavel to create a sharp tone in the room. Aria was about to argue that she had not, but from behind her came a set of footsteps and Aria turned to see none other than the elder she had thought of.
He was a wide portly man, with a long white beard and long white hair. He stood rather tall, with an almost waddle as he walked. He was dressed in the clean white robes of an Elder Priest. On his chest was emblazoned the seal of Azera in gold embroidery. Aria was stunned to see such a ghost look so alive. He had been plucked right from her childhood and he smiled at her warmly, hands tucked in the sleeves of his robes.
[+gold “My little bird… How good it is to see you. I see you are in the thick of a Tribunal. What did you do little dove?”] Aria smiled at the sweet old man, who’s name was Elder Barringer, and shrugged. He stepped up to join her on the stand she was placed on. Surprisingly there was enough room for Aria and the portly old man. He turned to ask for the charges and the Tribunal offered them.
[i “Aria of House Tolshiv, has been charged with negligence of duty, failure to adhere to protocol, and willfully endangering a Guardian. This Tribunal will hear your defense, but we will not guarantee a pardon.”]
Aria looked to Barringer with nervousness and mostly confusion. She could swear she had done nothing wrong! Barringer’s ghost was understanding, and he placed a hand to her shoulder as if he were still living flesh and blood. Barringer asked for an explanation of the previous grievances, and as they broke them down, Aria felt a heavyweight begin to grow in her chest. She quickly realized this trial was against her own insecurities.
To the charge of Negligence, they cited that during the attack on the Holy Temple, Aria fled instead of fighting. They called her a coward for fleeing. That she should have died honorably defending the temple as that would have avoided all present charges. Now tombs and artifacts were lost forever. They blamed her for a loss of cultural wealth. It was a minor insecurity that often nagged at Aria, and she wasn’t about to let it get to her now.
When they explained the charges of failure to adhere to protocol, they cited that since she was no longer being tended to in a temple their logic made her the blame for the fall of belief in the guardians -who's power was derived by faith. She didn’t study enough and wasn’t properly equipped to guide and lead -so they called her an imposter. As to willfully endangering a guardian, they meant all of them. She had sent them into battle, and though it was War, they seemed to think she shouldn’t let them fight. Aria had to laugh at that and roll her eyes. Knowing that all of the Guardians were warriors at heart. Her, tell them to run and not fight? What was the point then? She was being blamed for being a child, unable to do anything, or stop what was happening. It was harsh to hear a tribunal of faceless judges telling her she should have died by Malik’s hands. They questioned her motives for now rebelling against Malik -why not sooner?
[+gold “I think we have heard enough of the charges-“] Barringer tried, but was stopped suddenly by the slamming of the gavel.
[i “That is not all this Tribunal wishes to levy against Aria of House Tolshiv. Your Captain has had relations with a Guardian, resulting in a dangerous pregnancy. You have done nothing about this severe infraction of protocol, short of allowing it. To further inappropriate relations, you have fraternized with a Guardian. A severe offense! You are to mentor, to guide them to their purpose, not befriend, not romanticize, not join them! You are not Azera, stop thinking you can be.”]
Those words hurt, and at her sides, Aria’s hands fisted tightly together. They asked her again what she had to say for herself. How could she explain such things? Those blank faces stared back expectantly, and while her insecurities did eat at her… they wouldn’t stop her. She glared back at the tribunal, fire in her eyes and spoke with passion and confidence.
[+pink “What you see of me is different than what others see. I may never understand why they look to me to lead them, but they do. I know who I am, I know what I have to do, and I know I’m a longs ways off from being the perfect traditional Priestess. This is not the same world it once was, and a traditional priestess won’t get this job done. Perhaps its time for a new kind of Priestess. I could not protect the world before. Hundreds of men sacrificed their lives so that I could live so that one day I could fight… that fight is now, and the guardians you covet so dearly, I covet just as much -if not more. They are the closest thing to a family I have ever had, and I desperately need to return to them before it’s too late. You are only a reflection of my insecurities, and I won’t let you hold me back. I will do whatever it takes to restore The Four Provinces. I no longer fear death, I no longer doubt what it is I have to do, and after today I refuse to doubt myself-“]
The courtroom trembled and shook ominously. The battle was taking a turn above her, and Aria felt an anxious need to return to it… she couldn’t leave the temple now though, not after everything it took to get here. The judges looked up to the cracking ceiling and then back to Aria. The Judge raised their gavel and slammed it three times. The tones resonated in the chamber that began to quake and groan. Slowly one by one they faded away along with Barringer, and the room began to shake harder. Rubble began to fall down from above Aria, and suddenly she was the only figure in a broken room. The rushing noise was growing louder and louder under the walls burst in and Aria was swept into a rushing current of water.
The water was icy cold and was rushing every which way. Aria who had never gone swimming a day in her life, began to choke on the water, her body sinking to the bottom and into a calm center of the rushing waters. Before her vision began to dim she saw the sight of a glowing fish. A massive golden koi speckled in vibrant reds and yellow swam around her, weaving under her arms, up and down until finally stopping to face off with her. Aria felt the last bubble of air leave her body, and her eyes slid closed. The Koi shimmered brightly and placed its lips against Aria’s forehead encasing her in the same golden glow. On Aria’s back, the Fenlyk totem glowed and faded away. She had unlocked Fenlyk’s temple!
Upside Lady Stanos paced nervously, now hearing the rush of water from under her feet. The Priestess had yet to return, and she could not follow. She was beginning to feel the temple shake, what was left of it seemed ready to crumble down into dust. Outside the roars of battle raged on, and now the sounds of cannon fire could be heard coming from the docks. Frightened and anxious she rushed back out to find Carrick and Max still in the thick of battle, holding off the dark soldiers from getting near the temple with other resistance fighters.
[+purple “Captain! I’m afraid something is wrong! The Priestess has yet to return and the temple is shaking. I think it’s going to collapse!”] Carrick swung his head around, drawing his bloody sword out of a man’s body, while Max did similarly, but instead drove his ax down, splitting a man’s helmet and skull.
[#000080 “You mean she’s still inside?!”] Carrick demanded over the sounds of battle. A nervous Lady Stanos nodded her head, but the ground suddenly lurched up and out. It split open in a spiderweb of cracks, creating a large hole, and people quickly rushed away from the caving Temple that began to fall into the ground. Lady Stanos screamed at the sight knowing the Priestess was still inside. A split second later it all came shooting straight up on a tower of water. It sprang forth like a geyser showering the crowd in water, and sending rubble flying. The water surged with power for a great long moment before it sputtered out and receded back underground, leaving a gaping hole where the Temple once stood and revealing the inner sanctum. The original Temple. There soaking wet and laying in the center of the hole and the exhumed temple laid Aria.
[+purple “Priestess!”] Lady Stanos shouted. Max and Carrick had rushed over to look, the resistance doing their best to hold off the enemy. They were all relieved to find Aria lift her head up and wave a tired hand.
[+pink “I’m alright!”] she called, and they were further relieved to find a smile on her face. [+pink “I learned a new trick!”] They watched in amazement as she pooled the water under her and used it to lift her up from the floor of the temple and out of the hole. The moment her feet touched the ground, both Max and Carrick whisked her away from it.
[#000080 “You have got to stop scaring us like that,”] Carrick chided. Max said nothing, just grinned and handed her a new weapon.
[b “I think she’s a natural. You ready to get out of here?”] Max asked her. Aria gave a resolute nod of her head.
[+pink “Yes, the rendezvous is compromised… we can’t go that way. We’ll have to meet at the docks. Hopefully, we can sneak away from there. Let’s go!”] She rushed forward into the fray, eyes burning magenta, and wielding her sword with the skill of a veteran warrior.
Adimar was pleased to hear them all agree that something needed to be done and soon, and they were willing to use their Arcane abilities to do it. Lara was ready, and so was Rhuarc. They were spared enough of a lull in the battle to speak quickly, while fighters protected them.
[#20b2aa “Just to warn you both, this is going to take all I have. One of you might have to carry me, but I promise it will be worth it! Alright, I’m going to create a storm to sink their ships. Lara use your powers to guide the waves and tear their ships apart. Rhuarc, you’re going to feed fire into the cyclone that will burn their ships down. We’re going to throw everything we have at them.”]
Adimar was about to start his magic when he heard Saraya scream out. They all turned to see Ayab fall to his knees and finally the ground. Staring back at them was the dark visage from outside the gates of Kil’heed, the one that was hunting for Aria. He had nearly gotten her too. Adimar had never seen this dark creature, but Rhuarc and Saraya both clearly had. Adimar knew his plan was put on hold for now. Behind The Fade, both The Necromancer and Balden came walking forward. It was a shock to see that the Cabin boy was the Necromancer and that Balden had betrayed them all.
[b[+purple “I think it’s time for a proper introduction. I believe you all know The Fade, and his puppet, Balden. As for me? I am Rhys… I am the Necromancer, servant of Malik, and your doom!”]] He raised his hands, glowing like purple fire and the fallen corpses all over Astoria began to reanimate, coming to life in the same hellish purple gleam, raising their blades to fight again. Fallen dark soldier, or resistance fighter, it didn’t matter. They all rose up and turned on the resistance. Adimar was torn, but the ships still needed sinking, and now their cannons were breaking away as Saraya’s shield had failed.
[#20b2aa “Rhuarc! Don’t let The Fade get away! We don’t know if Aria made it yet or not, and that bastard killed Ayab!”] He suddenly forced his hands out from his chest, pushing a strong gust of wind the knocked dead and living back, and giving Rhuarc a clear path to The Fade. Lara wasn’t far behind him, moving to fight as well. Once that was done he turned on his toe and made a b-line for Saraya.
With Corbin’s help, they carried her to the docks and put her on one of the refugee ships that still remained. Saraya wasn’t having it, but he fathomed she was delirious with pain, and overextension of her energy. He ordered Corbin to stay with her and jumped from the railing of the ship and down to the docks and over to a set of rocks to the north of them. He had to sink those ships, any closer and his idea would risk the refugee ships. He tried to get as far from the battle as he could, finding a place that wasn’t swarming yet and turned towards the ocean and the fleet of dark ships approaching. His eyes fogged over into a milky white and the clouds thundered and gathered, growing dark while the waters began to suddenly toss from the change in pressure of the air. The storm gathered and grew, making lightning streak across the sky, and torrents of rain to fall in heavy sheets. He was building a cyclone, and he could feel the air beginning to spin around him, and eventually lifting him up into the air. Lightning struck one of the ships and it instantly caught aflame, while the others fought to stay level as waves began to rock them dangerously side to side.
It was in this moment that Aria, Carrick, and Max arrived at the docks, having fought their way to this point and being attacked by resurrected fallen in the process. Rhuarc was at blows with The Fade, and Lara was fighting, of all people, Balden. Adimar was nowhere to be seen but the sudden crack of thunder and darkening clouds told her Adimar was busy at work. Rain began to fall in heavy sheets and the wind picked up in strong gusts that arrows simply flew off to the side, or were sucked into the clouds. She couldn’t see Saraya either, and that worried her.
[+pink “Carrick, find Saraya and Adimar. Secure them! Max, you’re with me!”]
[b “AYE!”] they both shouted and Carrick ran into the fight alone, while Aria and Max made their way to the Necromancer and the circle of the dead that now surrounded Rhuarc and Lara as they fought The Fade and Balden.
Carrick came across Corbin first, The man was ashen-faced and on edge, and Saraya was out of sight. Carrick who was covered in mud and blood looked menacing as he grabbed the front of Corbin’s mail and jerked him forward. [#00080 “Boy, why the Hell aren’t you with Saraya?”] Corbin told him where she was and he hurried towards the ship, refugees were still getting loaded, and he found Saraya in what had become a makeshift infirmary, and nurses were swarming her, checking her belly and Carrick quickly made his way to her side. He hardly managed to breathe her name when he saw her, and simply reached out to grab her face and kissed her. She was alive and that was all that mattered. For now, she was secured and safe on this ship. Half of his task was done. He relished in Saraya’s kiss before breaking it and catching his breath. He felt bad being covered in people’s blood, and a healthy dose of mud and wet from the rain caused by Adimar’s storm. He, of course, got Saraya dirty, but at the same time, it didn’t seem to matter. [#000080 “Good, you’re safe. I have to go, I have to find Adimar. Rhuarc and Lara are facing the Fade and Balden. The Necromancer has to be stopped, but if I don’t find Adimar, he might get killed. This sort of magic will drain him just like you are. He’ll need someone. Aria is safe, I promise you, Max is with her. She sent me here. You won’t believe it, my love… but there’s no time. I must go. Corbin! Keep her safe, and don’t leave her side.”] he turned back to Saraya, stole a final kiss with the uttering of love and hurried off the ship to find Adimar.
Corbin had cradled Saraya for a few moments now. Saraya had been struggling to keep consciousness, but the shield was still up. It held far longer than he thought. Saraya had spent way past her limit of energy... He began to worry.
Suddenly, Saraya, arched out hus hold, gasping for air before doubling over next to him snd vomiting a lot of blood. Saraya, finally catching her breath, looked up as another cannon hit the shield, and she grunted to the collision, but it was quickly numbing. [i "Where..."]
"We're near the rendezvous. You need to get there-"
[i "They're not here"]
[i "I don't sense them. If they were dead, the smell would be spread out.... So they're not here..."]
Corbin looked around as Saraya began to catch her wind. Corbin... How can he be her son? Her Felliope hadn't lied in her dream... But, if what he said was true so far....
[i "Aria must've made it to the temple..."]
"Then you should be at the rendevous, My lady"
Careful to keep her safe, he lifted her and ran for the rendezvous. But, as he saw the opening, it seemed something was not right. "The rendezvous is compromised "
[i "They're at the docks! And..."]
Saraya could feel a dark energy, and it was approaching the docks with reinforcements.
[i "No... We have to hurry"]
"What's up there?"
[i "I shouldn't have to tell you... You can feel it, too, can't you?"]
After a few moments, Corbin began running, mindful of the Guardian that he carried in his arms. She was right. He COULD feel the dark energy and see it. How did she know this? Corbin kept his eye fixed on the dark aura that seemed to move rather quickly towards the threshold. Corbin made quick work on climbing the steap hill towards the docks' brudge towards the threshold. It seemed that this dark aura had claim his first victim of the battle. Corbin had made it, he had darted right to run towards the threshold to the docks. He saw Rhuarc... Adimar... Was that... The other Jai? Ayab? It caught him off guard a second before finding the dark aura targeting his second victim. Ayab wasn't going to make it... And, by him feeling her hand tighten it's grip on his armor, he could tell she saw the unavoidable. Ayab was about to be the break of the course.
They were at the threshold... The aura launched... Saraya was in tears already, and trying to reach her hand forward as it swallowed Ayab into its darkness, and the sound of flesh being torn apart, Saraya's body twitched as if something snapped in her... Silence... Ayab's body becomes limp... Falls... A face that shown his shock in defeat, a gaping wound was leaking blood from where he needed to breathe.
Saraya's scream in both shock and despair as the life in his eyes faded away had pierced the hearts of many, and Rhuarc's horror filled eyes in seeing his friend fall was destroying in itself. Corbin had stifled a gasp in shock from the horrid sight.
With her hand stretched, she dug her nails into the earth, grabbing an handful of earth when Corbin set her down. Tears were in her eyes, falling along her cheeks, down to her scarf. She felt rage, pain, guilt... No... Nothing... Fury... She looked up to the Necromancer as Corbin saw it's true face... He recognized him... But, that wasn't right. How can he recognize... The Fade was sneering at Rhuarc, who was still paralyzed from the horror. He was going to try to attack him! Ayab's blood was dripping from his maw, the crimson vivid by the eyes of darkness.
Inside Saraya, The panicked Sayan began to feel something ignite in her. Caledon had noticed his paused expression. [b [i Sayan?]]
[b You feel that?]
Caledon felt a slow draining on her energy... The shield was depleting rapidly. But, what Sayan was feeling was the exact opposite... Her rage... Her despair.. That fury. It was boosting her power again... Her arcane side was about to hurt her as soon as she stopped... If she could stop.
He could see that this fury was building. He began calling out to her, trying to divert her. [b Calm down! Your going to put yourself in danger!]
Caledon had picked up on his fears, and could feel the distress. Pain ripped through Saraya like a knife as she began to feel the heat of her anger. She was enraged, and judging by the look on Rhuarc's face, he was fighting within himself to shake out of horror and get back... Only, this was Ayab, not any other knight. And knowing him, his rage will know no bounds. Saraya's power was matching his, and Sayan knew the price for this.
Saraya's rage was overheating her body. She was shaking, but fury continued to burn in her eyes. Corbin began hearing her struggle to breathe.The shield was giving and she was burning up. Her eyes were fixated on The Fade. He suddenly had the realization... He had to stop her or else none of them would make it out!
He hugged her tightly as he tried to wake her up. "My Lady! My Lady Saraya!"
Saraya saw Rhuarc as he charged at The Fade! She extended her hand, coating his form in her dark aura, protecting him from the attack. She could try to harm The Fade herself, but she used that fury to strengthen her shield. She added a liitle more time as she tried to heave in.
Corbin saw the reinforcements and stood guard. He needed to keep her safe, or else Carrick would kill him. She is carrying his child after all. He saw Adimar stand guard with Corbin, taking down any enemy coming close. Saraya was losing momentum, and as she was losing consciousness, she could hear Sayan yell to calm. Saraya nodded as she gasped for more air. She could feel the growing distress in her belly as her anger slowly subsided. With the dark aura around Rhuarc, Sayan could control it while she recuperated. She felt Caledon hold her down as she allowed the last of her arcane power to calm. As soon as she breathed in, the most unfathomable pain she had ever felt took over. She gritted a scream, blood being coughed up all the same. Blood had covered her bottom lip and chin as she cried. The reinforcements had been held back by the knights as Adimar and Corbin tended to her. She had overextended her abilities, and stretched it too far. Her fragile body writhed around as the pain intensified.
Adimar cursed and yelled at Corbin to help him lift her and get her to the ships. She denied it, trying to get out of their hold, but neither men allowed her. She had overextended her abilities and it effected her to where she needed to stay still. She did what she could, and still put herself aside, even for the inevitable. Ayab... for someone like her, she probably knew the pain oh, too well. Ayab had given her his [i Toh], she wanted to keep them all safe... all the efforts she had done to save him... Just, this time... She was too late to save him. She had no choice but to save the others...
Adimar, once they had secured her onto the ship, handed her over to the nurses before he took off to aid Rhuarc.
All the while, as the nurses gathered supplies for her, Corbin cradled her, making sure she could breathe as the nurses felt around her belly to be sure she and the baby was ok. As soon as the nurses rubbed her belly, Saraya's pained shrieks sounded, and Corbin protectively drew his sword. "She's in serious condition! Do not hurt her!"
The nurses had helped her to her feet and led her away from the crowd as Corbin took off. They sat her up against the wood, and all while they tended to her, she was in tears... Crying, not from the pain, but from losing Ayab... Over and over again, she begged his forgiveness for not making it in time. She could only imagine Rhuarc's pain.
He had to find them! He had to get to Carrick and Aria! They had to stop The Fade!
Corbin used Saraya's energy line to find Carrick. Hopefully Aria was alright, and they could stop The Fade. Rhuarc, Luther, Lara and Adimar wasn't going to be able to stop it alone, and Saraya's shield was over Rhuarc, but even that won't last long in her condition. He had to do something before it had gotten any worse
The battle at the docks was intense and with the ships closing in with every moment it was only going to get worse, thankfully it seemed that Adimar and Saraya had done their jobs as people started to flood the docks and making their way onto the ships that Rhuarc, Lara, Luther and Ayab had managed to capture. A blast of ice cold wind knocked a few soldiers off balance and announced the Volshi Guardian's arrival to aid them in their fight. With Adimar watching Rhuarc's back the battle was immeasurably easier, it was practically child's play now that Rhuarc did not have to watch every soldier, he trusted Adimar to keep any threats from behind him just as he would do for Adimar. The rhythm of the battle was changing and going in the guardian's favour and despite Malik's men having the numerical advantage the skill and fervour of the Resistance and the Guardians was making up for that particular deficit. A loud blast exploded in the air as the canons on those encroaching ships fired and while Saraya was expending her energy on a shield that Rhuarc was incredibly grateful for, there was no way that she could possibly last against the sheer power of the canons for long. No one could.
Adimar echoed Rhuarc's thoughts and stated that he had an idea but he needed all of the arcane energy that they could muster. Rhuarc didn't have any better ideas and if Adimar thought that it could work then Rhuarc trusted his judgement, he was far more experienced with the Arcane than the Jai. [b "Whatever you need, I will give if I can. Do what you must Adimar, time is against us."] Rhuarc made a mental not e to try and increase the time he spend honing his arcane skills in the future, if he was stronger then he could rain fire down upon those ships and sink them before they could even come close to docking and unleash the soldiers that they were carrying upon the refugees.As it was he wouldn't be able to hit any of them with a fireball, they were simply too far away and it would take more energy that he could spare. Rhuarc would let Adimar take the lead with his arcane dealings and assist him if needed, until then he would kill as many soldiers as he could with the sword and hope that it would at least give Adimar more time to do whatever it was that he was planning. Rhuarc moved his sword in as many different forms that he could think of, he removed, heads, arms and legs from any enemy that came within range of the heavy black blade, he disemboweled and eviscerated his enemies with fury and it seemed that he was not the only one fighting with renewed vigour. Everyone from the trained soldiers of teh Resistance, to the peasants and ordinary folk who had joined the fight for their home seemed to have found a second wind. Rhuarc grabbed one man, a fisherman by the look of him, by the arm to ask what had happened, why was everyone in a frenzy all of a sudden?
[i "It's the High Priestess! She has come to save us from the King, she is here on the battlefield fighting with us! She..."] That was all Rhuarc could make out before the cacophony of the battle overtook what the man was saying and he went off in another direction to continue his fight. Rhuarc would be surprised if the man survived an hour. He was still trying to comprehend Aria on the battlefield, it was dangerous and he wanted to take off and seek her out to make sure she survived this fight but he had his duty to do first. he needed to hold this dock to let the refugees on the ships and stay near Adimar to help him with his arcane way of taking out Malik's reinforcements on those ships. Carrick had better stay by her side and keep her safe, if he didn't...there would be no power in all of creation that would save him from Rhuarc's wrath.
[right [pic http://i64.tinypic.com/s6kvnm.jpg]]
The Fade emerged from one of the many shadows in Astoria to find exactly as it had expected, the city was in chaos with pathetic peasants trying to fight against the forces of the King. It was laughable that they really thought that they could succeed. Balden had told them everything that they needed to know, being the Fade's pawn he had divulged their entire plan including where everyone would be and why. The Necromancer had made it clear that he was going after the Priestess which was fine with the Fade, it was going to the docks to finish what it had started at Kil'heed. Striding through the city the abomination killed any that got in its way but most fled at the mere sight of the horrifying visage that greeted them when they looked at what was meant to be a face. The Fade could see Malik's reinforcements approaching the docks, they would land soon enough and the extra soldiers that had been waiting to overwhelm the Guardians and the Resistance would be unleashed, crushing their enemies. One poor bastard actually mustered up the courage to attack the fade and thrust a sword through the monster's chest, right where the heart would be in a normal man. The Fade merely let out a cold, cruel laugh before taking a hand and snapping the man's neck without any effort.
Arriving at the docks the Fade could immediately see its targets. The Guardians were all here and that was dangerous, they all seemed focused on destroying the reinforcements, except for the Calddonian, she was maintaining a barrier to stop Malik's canons from ripping them to pieces. That left the Jai he had already wounded as a good target. The Fade could see that he was still fighting, an impressive feat given that he had been poisoned by the Fade's touch. It seemed that this brute had run out of arrows some time ago and was now fighting with axes in the thick of the battle. It was perfect. The Fade practically slithered through the battle towards Ayab and the abomination could practically taste his demise, it was delicious, this moment of anticipation before a kill was the closest thing the Fade could feel to joy and it was not about to waste this moment. Before Ayab could know the danger he was in, the Fade was upon him, a horrifying, jagged grin spread upon the eyeless pale face with rot oozing from the black spiderwebs that surrounded the toothy maw. Ayab did the only thing he could and brought both of his hand axes against this new foe although he know it would do no good. The pain in the Jai's legs was unbearable as the poison inside him felt the presence of the Fade and surged throughout the Jai's body. The axes struck the Fade but seemed to do no damage to the abomination. [#06b9ea "Your time has come, now you die."] Ayab tried again to attack the Fade, arms struggling with all the strength they could muster to fight off this foe but there was nothing to be done. The Fade used that fanged, horrifying mouth to rip out Ayab's throat and leave the man drowning in his own blood. He would die in seconds and there was nothing to be done about it. To the barbarian's credit even in these final moments before he was lost to the cold embrace of death he never let go off his weapon. With that Ayab was dead and the first true blow to the Priestess' inner circle had been dealt. The Fade looked up to see the Jai Guardian looking in horror at the murder of his dearest friend while the Fade merely laughed. Ayab's blood still dripping from its maw.
Aria, Carrick, and Max hurried through the city with Lady Stanos as their guide. Lady Stanos had met with them in the tunnels of camp after the Guardians had left, and showed the way to another path that led into the city. The Silo had gone off, shocking the city awake just in time for the Prison and the Armory. Everything was moving so quickly. Aria, with hood drawn up, watched as people came flooding out of their homes, soldiers came swarming the streets to maintain order. Not wanting to be caught, Lady Stanos led Aria, Carrick and Max through a series of alleyways and towards the city gate. It was open, and heavily guarded.
Aria crouched down to hide behind a building and took count of the guards with bows on the top battlements, and those on the ground armed with swords, axes, and maces.
[#000080 “Too many for us to take on. What was your plan to get by?”] Carrick asked looking to Aria. He wasn’t sure he liked that look in her eyes as she caught sight of a hooded and robed figure making his way through the portcullis.
[+pink “The Necromancer is here…”] She breathed. Beside her Carrick tensed, while Max just held his blade that much tighter, ready to fight.
[+purple “We should leave this place… if we are seen… you’ll never make the rendezvous, Priestess,”] Lady Stanos suggested. Aria gave her a look of understanding, but they could not simply turn around now. She sighed and looked back to the guards that came to greet the Necromancer, and she felt her stomach drop. They were fully prepared for their counter attack.
None of them were prepared for the next face they saw. Balden had walked into the space, removing his own tattered hood. While it’s form was not perfect, Aria could see the dark shadow that now hung over him -no longer hidden from her gaze. Balden had become tainted. HOW?! Shocked and confused Aria and the others watched in horror as Balden raised a hand and pointed a finger in their direction. The Necromancer turned to look and a grin formed on his face. He too revealed his face to be none other than the Cabin Boy from the airship.
[bold “We’ve been compromised. Move, NOW!”] Max ordered. He and Carrick both jumped up grabbing Aria by her arms and hoisting her to her feet. Lady Stanos was quick behind.
It was during this time, Aria was able to see how the battle had escalated across the city. Resistance fighters were still pouring in from the underground tunnels and fighting with civilians. Some weirded weapons, others had nothing more than the occasional pitchfork or hammer. She watched as the city began to catch fire, began to run blood through the streets, and the chaos of men fighting all around her. Max and Carrick kept her unscathed. Occasionally raising a blade to block and cut down an opponent before they would grab her once again and rush her to a hopeful hiding place.
Ahead, Lady Stanos shouted and pointed a head. There they saw Adimar’s men forging a path and moving Refugees along. They called for other civilians to follow and some began to. Before Aria could call to him, he was already off.
[bold “There has to be another way into the main temple,”] Max growled at Lady Stanos and held his blade tightly. [bold “If this is a ploy, I will end you.”] He warned, but a hand by Aria stayed him. For the moment they were hidden from the battle and hopefully the Necromancer.
[+purple “No ploy, I swear. I wasn’t anticipating the gate would be so heavily guarded, or that… Balden was a traitor.”] Aria’s face turned dark at that comment and she wondered if that was her fault.
There was no time to truly ponder on it, as an arrow from above came whizzing just past Aria’s face. It brushed against her slicing her cheek wide open to pour crimson blood down her cheek. Before another could hit, Max had raised his shield, and Carrick had done the same to shield Lady Stanos. Stunned Aria held her cheek and looked down at her blood covered hand. That was too close. Carrick and Max quickly moved Aria and Lady Stanos to cover. They were in the battle now, and seeing her own blood had triggered something in Aria. A switch had been turned inside her and the voice of Azera whispered in her mind.
-[i “You are me, and I am you… the warrior I was before… you can be as well… use my memories…”]-
Akin to a spell, Aria’s eyes slid closed, only to open the shade of a glowing and lethal Magenta. It burned like fire and she suddenly stood taller, prouder, more ferocious, and claimed Carrick’s spare sword for herself. She vaguely heard a shout of ‘NO’ behind her, but if they continued to run, they would all perish. Azera’s memories of combat and prowess took over. Guiding her with the muscle memory of a previous life. They were melded perfectly. Azera guiding Aria in a show of never seen battle strength, and Aria still aware of the battle, what she was doing, and still stunned by how natural it was coming to her.
A Group of soldiers came running around the corner, and Aria was there to greet them first. Her sword came up, gutting the first. She spun gracefully and blocked another hit before she struck another. Behind her Carrick and Max moved quickly to cover her, and help her charge through. Max swung his heavy axe up and down, while Carrick fought valiantly with his sword. Lady Stanos did her best with her staff following closely. They fought their way, until they reached the temple and there the gruesome thick of battle raged between Malik’s men and the resistance. Luckily for Aria she had unlocked one of the Temples, and therefore was able to use one ability from that Guardian. She came upon the courtyard to see the resistance outnumbered, but with a sweep of her hand, a gale burst of wind brushed them all off their feet and to the ground.
“The Priestess! She has come to fight with us!” Someone shouted, and a roar of shouts and cheers erupted from the people and the fought with more vigor -just as Max said they would. They took the moment to hurry right for the temple. Though it was a ruin now, Aria was able to get into the crumbling structure and marched right for a hallway and down a set of steps that groaned under her weight and left Carrick and Max to remain up top while Lady Stands followed her down.
[+purple “You restored the pools, that should mean the temple is healed yes?”] Lady Stanos asked following closely behind while the Azera posses Aria marched quickly through the halls.
[+pink “The pools revealed the truth, the pools allowed spirits to be at peace… Now I must prove to Fenlyk I am worthy of my title. When I have passed a test from every temple, I will be able to stand and fight alongside the Guardians. I will have the power to release a great beast upon Malik, and end this once and for all.”]
[+purple “What is this test you must pass?”] Lady Stanos was clearly concerned. They didn’t have much time. Aria did not answer her though and simply traveled into an inner sanctum of the temple that was still in tact. There on a dusty alter was a dead and dried coral pillow and atop it was note. Aria did not look around to take in the sights of the sanctum. It’s once white pristine walls, the ancient garlands of sweet grass and water lilies that once decorated or all the sea glass sculptures that once stood tall and proud.
Magenta eyes scanned the altar for a clue, when none was found Aria realized the altar was a decoy. She reached inside the altar until her hand vanished behind the pillow and gripped a handle. Giving it a firm tug, the altar gave way and she was able to enter. Aria walked into the darkness, and though Lady Stanos tried to follow, she was barred by an invisible barrier from following. Aria would face this test alone… while above her battle raged across Astoria.
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