[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.
[Center [b [I Saraya]]]
After the heated words with Rhuarc, and after feeling as though everyone was beginning to stand against her, she couldn't even bring herself to speak to them. She had accepted defeat for the last time. She'd have to become the Saraya none would understand. She had to be dangerous her own way.
Saraya had a careful plan. She set her hands on her face as she began to scan the area with her father's eyes. [I "He has a plan, doesn't he?"]
[I [b "Aye. He plans to use a spell to claim his ring back"]]
Saraya smirked. [I "I don't want his ring. He can have it back... I want a taint in his communications with Malik"]
[I [b "Are you sure that is wise?"]]
[I "Not with my imprint, father. He can detect that. What he can't detect is yours. You created him"]
[I [b "It is a smart move, Saraya "]] he nodded. Saraya thought a moment. She needed armour. And she needed to be where her eyes could see the enemy.
She leaned a back a moment. She could feel the distress from Carrick, the tear between his duty and to his heart. She told him not to worry about her. Aria needed him at this moment, not her. She was a woman, and a warrior at that, she could handle herself. She had her father and her great grandfather to protect her. He should be relieved in that at least.
[I [b You shouldn't be so upset, Saraya. His concern reminds me of when your mother was carrying you. I was worried sick about her when she went to market and was not back in time. ]]
[I "I'm not upset... I'm more worried"]
[I [b You shouldn't be]]
[I "Father, he is a Holy Guard to Aria. He is an Ancient. His duty is etched in his bloodline. I can't let him be any more than what he needs to be on this voyage"]
[I [b Oh, but he is more than that... And he is of more use on this voyage than Aria realizes. Rhuarc is a hot head, but he failed to see exactly what Carrick's strength is, even when it happened just moments ago. ]]
Saraya looked to her father before looking ahead. [I "Taint the ring, father... I'll set it where he can find it with his spell"]
Sayan sighed a bit. [I [b You must be careful when fighting this crusade. If you overextend yourself, this may put you in pain]]
[I "I accept the consequences, father. This battle is far from over"]
[I [b Don't let the consequences be too costly. If you lose Aramis, it will be the death of you]]
[I "I can't let that happen"]
[I [b Then think smarter, Saraya. You need to fight smarter. You're pregnant, but you're both Hïgásçà and Guardian. Use that to your advantage ]]
She looked to her. [I "If I use your power-"]
[I [b if you use it as a physical ability, it will harm you. You have to use it as a spiritual ability. Just as you did for your great grandfather's power. ]]
[I "I don't remember how I achieved that"]
[I [b You do... Just relax, and look for the center]]
Saraya looked up to him. [I "Battle is nye... I must get to my post"]
[I [b Saraya?]]
She looked down as he spoke. [I [b Don't let their words hurt you. You've done all you could to make sure she was safe. Everyone has]]
Saraya looked up to him. [I "I don't feel like it, father. Rhuarc has proven himself to be more powerful, and perhaps, my wit has failed me again. The only way I'm to prove to any of them that I am worthy, is if I sacrifice or charge into war. My place in this voyage was to be a shield. I have not been doing my duty. I'm fact, it has been my fault since The Central City... "]
[I [b Saraya-]]
[I "It is true, father. My dim ideas and hardheaded belief in saving everyone had slowed us down... If it wasn't for me, we'd be strong enough, and halfway to Caledon, building a defense. "]
Sayan looked at his daughter, feeling a growing pain in her heart. [I [b Being selfless is not a curse or a liability, Saraya. You should understand that it's what makes you human, and a Guardian. You were never wrong for trying to do the right thing, daughter. Even someone like Rhuarc would admit it when he sits alone]]
Saraya still felt the pain inside. She felt as though she let her emotions get the better of her, especially now that she's pregnant. It only made the others isolate her... So why not take that charge and do so herself? She turned away, hiding the tears in her eyes as she departed. [I "I will be where I'm needed. On the defense... "]
Carrick had finally found her, but when he tried to speak to her, something stopped him in his tracks. [I "No... Protect the Priestess... I'm not important"] The growing pain in her heart and a need for solitude had clouded her being, and Carrick found it hard that now his Saraya was shattering because of the pain and anguish so far. He could feel her guilt, her sadness. She could never shut herself out from him... And seeing that she blamed herself for it all, it hurt him even more.
He saw the other guardians step out, noticing her armored belly and torn expression on her face. Aria even tore her gaze from Rhuarc when feeling her pain and sorrow. When she called out to Saraya, she only halted a moment. [I "Stay where it's safe, Priestess. "]
Adimar had tried to reason, but her hand stopped his speech. [I "I was selfish... And there is no excuse. I will be at my post. That is all I will say"]
Corbin had ran up, accompanying her as she walked away, despite words and hurtful glares.
When she made it to her post, just yards from the armory, she ripped the ring now tainted from her neck and threw it down below, before leaning against stone walls.
Corbin looked to her. [b "Lady Saraya... "]
[I "Don't. Don't bother, Corbin. This is what they want... And I will do that. "]
[b "But, my lady-"]
[I "Corbin, just watch the horizon. My sole duty is to be a shield... A shield I will be"]
Corbin fell silent as she watched the sun rise, and with it, she saw the first scout ship approaching. With her bow and arrow, she tagged that ship as it departed, and stayed in place. Corbin had ran down to get bread to eat for the two of them. Saraya stayed back, staring into the distance, remaining away from the others. She had no more to say. She had no more to prove. All she could do now was follow orders. And that, she will do with her head held high. That was all they wanted from her, right?
To say that tensions were running high in the infirmary was an understatement and as Rhuarc held Carrick up against the wall in a tight grip until Saraya intervened. A powerful aura surrounded Saraya and as intimidating as it was Rhuarc did not back down, he looked her in the eye and held his ground. [b "I wish you no ill will Saraya of Caledon but you speak without proper thought. I was not with the Priestess because that is not my place. I am he General, not her Guard. I was preparing the men for the upcoming battle. I was doing my duty."] Rhuarc would not have Saraya slander his honour in front of anyone, especially not the Priestess. Rhuarc was doing as he should and if she could not see that then that was her mistake. These people of the other Provinces had a strange notion of what honour and duty meant, they knew what they should do but rarely followed through. It made Rhuarc sad. [b "You would find me a dour foe Saraya. If I were to fight you then you would lose."] Rhuarc simply stated fact, there could be no other outcome if they came to blows. He was a Jai from the Wastelands, born and bred to be a weapon and had been fighting his whole life, he was stronger and quicker than Saraya especially while she was with child. Saraya may have some mystical power but so did Rhuarc, he had the fire of Jai'hash running through him and if Saraya thought that her arcane skill would be enough to carry her through a battle with Rhuarc alone then she was gravely mistaken. Aria's explenation of what happened did little to soothe the temper of the large Jai. [b "Priestess that is no excuse. His duty as Captain is to guard you from danger, even from yourself at times. Carrick is no fool, he knows the enemy has spies everywhere and many of his forces lie in wait for a moment to take you. He should have anticipated this."]
Adimar soon arrived carrying a bedroll? That was unusual but it all became clear as the Volshi Guardian produced a magnificent bow and a quiver of arrows that were tipped by the same midnight black steel as the greatsword on Rhuarc's back. That certainly piqued his interest greatly as he had always been fascinated by the mysterious metal. Rhuarc and Carrick took positions outside of the tent that Lara, Adimar and Aria were in, the silence between the two men was deafening. The Jai stood with a hand resting on the hilt of his belt knife, ready to draw it in an instant if anything seemed amiss. Thankfully the watch was uneventful and soon enough whatever needed discussed in private was over with and Aria emerged looking furious. It was amazing how one as small as her could seem so large when she was angered. It almost made Rhuarc wilt under her gaze. Rhuarc was pleased to see the steel in Aria as she informed Carrick of her new guarding decision and that he would be retaining his position for now at least. With a simple nod of acquiescence he followed her into the tent where she was pacing back and forth, obviously uneasy about something...and soon enough it became clear what that was. [b "Aye, I knew about the Seer. He told me to keep it secret, that the Seer told him that you would be in danger if you knew. I suspect he was right. I also have another reason for keeping silent on this matter. You told me in Kil'heed of your connection to the False King. We do not understand that connection but we know he can see into your mind...if I told you he may have discovered that his own Seer was working against him. I was keeping secrets from Malik, not from you Priestess. I swear I know nothing about Lara or a ring."] The next part of her rant was far more worrying. [b "What! Shade-stealer is on his way to Fenlyk? If he is bringing his forces to counter us then our plan will be difficult. It is too late to change it now, while Malik may know our plan I believe it is still the best chance we have. If we change our plan now, our troops will be confused, they have had no time to train for a new assault. You are right, there will be a great cost tomorrow but it must be paid. Priestess, if you are scared I will have courage for both of us."]
Rhuarc escorted Aria back to her tent where he saw Max and another guard already waiting for her to return, he gave them a nod as she entered her tent before returning to his own. He cleared his mind and meditated, clearing his mind, discarding all thoughts of doubt. He needed to believe that they would win, without faith nothing else would matter. The Jai had a word for this belief; [i Alar]. [i Alar] was a way of thinking, the iron clad belief that something was what you thought. Rhuarc remmbered when hi father had taught him about [i Alar] when he was a child, when the two still laughed together. He took a handful of sand from the ground and told him about the [i Alar] and how if he believed that the sand would rise up when he let it out of his hand then it would be so. It took hours that first time to properly reach that frame of mind, to truly believe that the sand would reach the sky when his father let it out of his hand...it had been very confusing when it did not...but that was exactly the point. [i Alar] did not change the facts of the world but it changed how a man could view them and in battle how one viewed the field, examined the situation and was able to draw conclusions was everything. Rhuarc would be in the heaviest fighting at the docks in the morning, it would be dangerous but he needed to believe that the forces of the Priestess would win, if not then there was no point even going onto the field of battle. After finishing his meditation and grabbinga few hours of sleep he soon awoke knowing that the sun would be rising soon and he would be in the first true battle of the War against Malik. After today the world would never be the same.
No one felt worse about the loss of the Harbinger than Aria. Carrick could only frown back, feeling the weight of her words. He hung his head in shame and guilt.
[#000080 “I should have been with you,”] he stated just as Rhuarc hurried into the room. Aria was about to reply, but stopped at seeing rhuarc. He looked wildly irate, barking orders without a moments hesitation. Clerics scurried out of his way and flocked closer around Aria, while guards rushed off to follow his command. The entire compound had become a buzzing hornets nest in the wake of Aria’s assault. That was twice now today, and she hated how helpless and weak she was. She’d only been alone for a brief moment!
Carrick was rushed in the next moment by an enraged Rhuarc, who hoisted the man up and pinned him against a wall. Aria gasped to see Rhuarc react that way, but at hearing his words, she realized they had a previous conversation already about this very thing, and Aria feared she’d be forced to make some sort of choice in the near future. She could see it clear on Carrick’s face as he looked to her. Guilt penetrated is face, but there was also anger and hurt. Before he could speak, Saraya had put herself between them, reminding them who the real enemy was. She then claimed she would find the culprit and bring him to justice before she stormed out of the room. It would be seen if Saraya would manage to bring the attacker to Aria for justice, but Aria had a feeling that no matter what Saraya did -it would matter little. The person who attacked her would be back, of that Aria was certain.
Carrick adjusted his armor and looked to Rhuarc, still offended, but once again before he could speak the calmer voice of Aria’s spoke.
[#db7093 “Rhuarc, please don’t be angry with Carrick. He wanted to attend me, but... I asked him to trust me, and I failed. I was with Lara and only parted from her for a brief moment when I was attacked. Whoever it was, has been waiting and watching for the moment they could strike.”]
[#000080 “Just what was it that you were doing?”] Carrick finally asked. Aria frowned, hesitating to tell them, but despite Fenlyk’s best wishes, Aria could not keep what she had done secret. She explained she had gone with Lara to have a moment of peace and silence. Malik had affected her during the war conference earlier that day, and she simply wanted a moment to reclaim her mind. She explained that while Lara and her meditated, the purity pools had showed themselves to them and they were able to cleans the Harbinger, but on the way back Aria was attacked. [#db8973 “I believe no matter what, even if I did have a guard, they would have attacked. Let’s return to our camp and see if we can’t find more clues...”] She suggested and slid down from the table, feeling and looking exhausted. Tomorrow was only going to be worse with the impending battle.
They returned to camp and entered Adimar’s tent where they were greeted by Lara who wanted to speak privately with Aria and Adimar. This confused Aria, but she waited as Adimar left to do as requested and returned carrying the sleeping mat. Carrick and Rhuarc reluctantly left the tent as well, but they were no doubt curious as to what Lara was up to. Aria looked on curiously as Adimar opened the sleeping mat and there laid Volshi’s bow and arrow. Adimar gasped in shock to see it, he too recognized it in the blink of an eye.
[#20b2aa “This is... this... oh my... How?”] Adimar rambled in awe. [#20b2aa “This is incredible! The arrows... the tips match the same material as Rhuarc’s blade! Gods they’re beautiful. What craftsmanship!”] He murmured lifting the bow and pulling back on the string and aiming. He was all smiles and admiration before he remembered... archery was not his forte. [#20b2aa “I should have practiced archery more in my youth...”]
[#db7093 “You will have to seek out Ayab and request his help. For the moment, it’s best we keep them secret. One of Malik’s spies has already managed to reclaim the Harbinger... I do not want them to get their hands on the Guardian’s weapons.”] Aria suggested, to which Adimar gave a nod in the affirmative and stowed it safely away.
Aria and Adimar turned to look then at Lara and ask what it was she had wanted to speak with them privately about. She wanted to discuss the purity pools, and the weapons, but most of all Fenlyk and Volshi. Aria saw then, she wasn’t wanted in the conversation, but merely to help clarify anything that might come up. They discussed Fenlyk and Volshi’s love affair, no longer a myth, but truth. They even discussed the murder they both faced. Adimar was stunned to learn the truth. Volshi had not died in a grand battle, but rather failed in his revenge against his fallen lover. It was sobering, but for Adimar, it helped clean up some of his confusion surrounding Lara, and why he was so oddly overprotective of her. Aria would have clarified her opinion on the matter, but unbeknownst to them, Lara had the ring she’d stolen from Luther on her person. Due to its close proximity to the enchanted pensive in Adimar’s tent, it had called and summoned a most unexpected guest.
[#db7093 “What is that?”] Aria dared to ask, and Adimar hurried over to the pensive to look into it and was shocked to see the image of Vega pushing up from out of the bowl. Her face was made of the liquid, but her voice echoed in the space.
[#2e8b57 “fledgling mage… you called me again? Did I not warn you of the dangers?”] Aria looked to Adimar and approached the table.
[#20b2aa “I did not call for you.”]
[#2e8b57 “Something called to this place… to this very pensive… Why make such a risk?”]
[#20b2aa “I’ll repeat you old hag, I did not call you.”]
[#db7093 “Adimar? Who is it you speak with?”] Aria dared to ask. Adimar looked up from the pensive to Aria and frowned, but she could see the betrayal and hurt in her eyes. She already knew who he spoke with, but his confirmation would solidify her thoughts.
[#2e8b57 “It matters little, I wanted to send you a warning… Malik knows of your plans, not all of them, but he knows you are planning something. On the morning tide a fleet of undead will flood the city to counter whatever you have planned. He has learned the location of the resistance cell in Fenlyk, and plans to exterminate any and all he finds.”]
Adimar paled and glanced to Aria, who continued to advance his table. [#20b2aa “You’re certain? Is Malik coming himself?”]
[#2e8b57 “He is already on his way to reclaim her himself! Or else it would have been him who answered this pensive. You daft stupid fool! You must have something that called to [i him!] Find what it is and lock it away! ”] She warned in harsh whispers. Aria tensed at the words she heard. Malik… on his way [i here]?! She shuddered at the thought. [#2e8b57 “Now do not call here again! I shall call upon you when able! You play a dangerous game little mage!”] The liquid in the pensive dropped, sloshing back in the bowl and Aria glared at Adimar, and then to Lara as it was revealed she had Luther’s ring.
Secrets… her guardians had been keeping secrets from her. She felt hurt, betrayed, and angry. She stormed from the tent then and came face to face with Carrick and Rhuarc.
Carrick had stood outside the tent awkwardly in silence with Rhuarc. He was so frustrated and angry with himself, the situation, and the truth that Rhuarc was right. Carrick had been distracted, but he had been distracted by prepping for the battle… and instead of searching out Aria to ensure her safety… he had gone to Saraya. It wasn’t that one was more important than the other… Carrick was well aware of how important they all were -all the guardians. Aria was his Priestess, the one who had trusted and given him command of her protection. He had not only failed Rhuarc’s expectations, but Aria’s as well. Aria was clearly more forgiving than Rhuarc though. Yet, Saraya was the love of his life, the mother of his unborn child, and the woman he felt stronger to protect than Aria. It was wrong he knew… his devotion to his duty, or to his heart. There had been a time Carrick believed all he had wanted was to be Captain of the Holy Guard, even during his trial in Volshi he had what he wanted… or so he thought. He looked over to Rhuarc wanting to apologize to him, but knowing it would be futile. Carrick had seen something in Rhuarc’s fierce gaze earlier. Carrick had seen fear in the man’s eyes. Was it possible the Jai cared more for Aria than he let on?
It was then Aria stepped out of the tent looking enraged, but she still managed to keep her composure. She looked directly to Carrick first and barked an order. [#db7093 “From here on out Max will be my primary guard, and at night I will have two guards watching me and this camp. You may keep your position as Captain of my guard… for now. Do not force me, or you, to make a choice in the near future, Carrick. General, a word with you in your tent please?”] she marched away from them both and towards Rhuarc’s tent where she entered first, pacing at first until she turned on him with an accusing finger, her words a harsh whisper so to hide their conversation as best as possible. [#db7093 “You have secrets, Rhuarc. I know you do. All of you have been keeping things from me. Did you know Adimar has been in contact with the enemy?! With Malik’s seer! Lara has a stolen ring that belongs to Luther… did you know about that as well? Then I suppose you also know that Malik is on his way here, with a counter effort? He knows we plan to battle for Fenlyk tomorrow. I feel betrayed, lied to, and I feel completely incapable. We go to war in the morning, and there’s no going back from this… I don’t know if there’s still a chance for us to succeed, and if we do… at what cost? Rhuarc, I’m scared.”] Her words had melted from harsh and hurt, to a quiet whisper full of fear and uncertainty.
When she had set out to bring the Guardian’s together, she had believed this was her only task, but with time came to realize the entire revolution was hinged on her. Everyone had looked to her as their leader, and it was something Aria was wholly unprepared for, but she was here and trying to do the best could. However, she knew could do anything if secrets were being kept from her. It didn’t matter… the sun would soon rise and the battle would begin.
Rhys watched Saraya spirit away his ring and frowned. It meant nothing to him… he’d get it back with a simple spell. He knew who had it, where it was, and how to get it back. It was already enchanted to return to its creator in time after theft or loss. Malik had claimed to lost one ring in the past, he refused to loose more… Rhys had found the lost ring… or at least he had an idea of where it might be. Luther had been foolish enough to lose it, Rhys would return it. He knew he could not return to camp, or risk exposure and capture. The Fade would no doubt be beyond pissed with him for having stolen the harbinger, but something that could destroy Malik, would be useful to his master, and therefore Rhys had seen no other option than to take it.
As it was, the early hours of morning were still dark and twinkling with stars. The air was humid and muggy, feeling heavy when he spotted the Fade appear and they both waited for the Fade’s puppet. The young Balden approached in a trance-like-state, and relayed all the information he had gathered that day. He told them team configurations, who would be going where, what order of events were expected to happen, and the Priestess’ secret whereabouts during battle. He also knew where the Volshi airship was intended to meet its passengers if they managed to escape. All of the information was too delicious and too good for them not to feel they had the upper hand. Things were coming together, and Rhys believed they would destroy the Rebellion before it would ever rise. Then he knew himself and the Fade would go after Egos and destroy him for his treasonous acts against King Malik. All in all… Rhys was confident tomorrow was going to be a massacre.
While her body had been controlled by Fenlyck, Lara's mind was forced to witness a shocking spectacle. Three deaths in a row, the first one being coldblooded murder while the last two had been death by enraged and power hungry person.
A person, eerily similiar to Luther had stuck a knife in the back of somebody else; this somebody else was Malik, even though Lara did not know it. And even though this somebody else had slumped lifelessly against the ground with a final dying breath, after the Luther apparition had left this somebody rose back up as if there had been no knife in the back.
And just as this somebody was rising, filled with anger and a dark evel within him, another person had walked in. The revived person turned his gaze to eye up this newcomer, before flinging himself at the newcomer.
The newcomer had been no other than Fenlyck, who now alone fended off this vicious and dark attacks that the somebody threw at her. And Lara could only be an audience member to this ghastly spectacle as Fenlyck, bit by bit, lost.
And even with the roaring entrance of Volshi, Lara only now began to understand the close relationship between Fenlyck and Volshi, it was too late for Fenlyck.
If both Fenlyck and Volshi had been able to fight this mysterious person, then maybe their combined effort would have destroyed him. But with Fenlyck stuck with breathing out her last breathes, this 'somebody' cut down Volshi before plunging a sword into the defenseless Fenlyck.
Lara shook her head, she'd think over what she had seen later. Right now, they had to get back with the cleansed sword before anything happened.
But Aria did not have the sword. Lara was puzzled as to where the sword had gone, until the water below light up brightly as the sword bobbed back up into existence.
And the sword was not the only item to bob back up into existence. A magnificent bow along with a masterly crafted quiver filled with black coloured arrows, most likely being steel, which brought out the sapphire colour of the quiver.
Glancing over at Aria, Lara knew that Aria understood what the meaning of this weapon was.
But then Lara glanced downwards as she felt something bobbing against her legs. Lifting it out of the water, this object revealed itself to be a staff. It was made out of wood, but it had a coating of a rose-gold coloured metal over the wood which helped it to be more sturdy.
Lara turned to look at Aria once more as Aria explained. So where the two of them stood, that was where the horrible act had been perpatrated againsst both Fenlyck and Volshi, and one of Fenlyck's final acts had been to seal off the weapons until the right person came here.
After that, merely retracing their steps from whence they had come from. It was sad to leave the Purity Pools, but they had to come back before their disappearance was noted with suspicion.
Before completely coming out, Aria turned to face Lara. Lara felt gladdened by Aria's compliment, and was completely fine with being a delivery boy, girl in this case, taking the weapons to Adimar.
Lara, instead of going to find Adimar, walked back to her tent. She did not want to risk someone noticing the weapons she carried, attention would bring up questions and questions brought up even more attention. In short, a cycle which would, with a high probability, allow Malick to know what had happened down at the Purity Pools.
She managed to slide into her tent without being noticed by anyone. Looking around, Lara found a black cloak neatly folded lying on an impromptu table. Grabbing it, she rolled it open and carefully put to rest the quiver with arrows, the bow, and the staff onto the rolled open cloak. Then Lara carefully folded the cloak up, so there was no sign of the weapons. And just for a good measure, she hid them inside her sleeping bag.
Now, she had to go and find Adimar.
But as she stepped out of her tent, Lara spotted Carrick, Saraya, and someone else running with worried looks on all their faces. Lara paused midstep, her mind asking the question of what had happened.
Since it appeared that those three knew what happened, it was only logical to follow them to learn what had happened.
Lara was the last to walk in. Carrick, Saraya, and Rhuarc had all come in before her. Glancing around, including all the others not named, Lara understood where they were gazing; at Aria.
Worming her way through the crowd, Lara could not spot the sword. She knew that Aria had been the last one to be carrying it, that meant someone had attacked Aria for the purpose of stealing the sword.
Lara cursed herself, she should've gone with Aria to make sure that no one could do such a thing as what had been done. But she had been preoccupied with Aria's request of delivering the bow and quiver of arrows to Adimar. How had she not realized that by separating from Aria she would be leaving her unguarded?
A distraction appeared in the form of Rhuarc literally dragging Carrick off into an empty corner. And then a torrent of fury was unleashed as Rhuarc let out his fiery anger on Carrick.
With Carrick under fire from Rhuarc, Saraya stepped in to break them up. So far it seemed only Saraya had the skill to blunt Rhuarc's rage, and also reprimand him.
After the ashes of the flare up had settled, Saraya turned to Aria asking for her hand. Lara had no idea what Saraya was up to, but as long as it made sense to Saraya there wasn't any reason to complain.
And after that, Saraya left.
Now, now was the time to act on an impromptu plan that Lara had only now formed.
Walking up to Carrick, she looked him in the eyes with a kind and pleading look. [+purple "Carrick, could you please have everyone except me, Aria, and Adimar get out of the tent while also posting a guard around this tent. You will let no one in except Adimar."]
Turning to Rhuarc, she made a deep bow before starring into his eyes with an iron willed determination. [+purple "I respect the insight that you give, but I need to discuss an extremely delicate matter with Aria and Adimar. If it makes you feel any better, you can be a part of the guard."]
And now the final part of the plan.
Walking up to Adimar, she made him lean down so she could whisper the following into his ear: [+purple "I need you to go to my tent. After entering it, you will grab my sleeping bag and bring it here. As a warning, the sleeping bag will be heavy. And please, try to act as if nothing has happened."]
With those parts of the plan put into action, Lara sat down on the edge of Aria's bed and waited for Adimar to come back.
[Center [b [I Saraya]]]
As soon as he spoke, Saraya felt a tremble... Aria... Was found unconscious?! Saraya attempted to make haste to the infirmary, but even she couldn't move. She was paralyzed, and felt the strength of Malik's attempt to shroud her. But, with her strength and her father's she managed to break free. [I "You are afraid, Malik... And I want you to be"] she whispered.
With effort, she stood and hurried to the infirmary, where Aria was. As soon as they were spotted, Rhuarc had began lashing in anger, discouraging Carrick for not being there to protect her. He then pointed at her, asking if she was more important than his duty to Aria. At that moment, she snapped, and a dark aura surrounded her as she screamed [I "ENOUGH!"]
Rhuarc, astonished by the feat of strength, backed away. [I "Carrick was not with me until mere seconds before the news was heard. He was doing his part to prepare for battle! Where were you, Rhuarc? If you were not there, either, you have no room to pass judgement!"] The aura stayed as she stepped forward. [I "Now is not the time! The Harbinger was stolen, but thank the Gods it was purified. Malik cannot use it. It is no longer his weapon. What of the spy, I will seek and arrest"]
Carrick and Aria were quick to protest. Saraya let out a sigh before looking to the both of them. [I "You wish for me to find and take back the armory, put myself in harm's way, but I can't search for the one who had done this to you?"]
Aria and Carrick had slowly silenced and stared at her as she looked back to Rhuarc. [I "If you want to fight, then do so... But Carrick is off your roster. If you pick a fight with him again, pregnant or not, I will fight you in his stead. Our enemy is out there, not in here. I will find the culprit, and I will find the armory. You just be sure to be where you are needed. "]
She dared him with her eyes to test her. When Rhuarc backed down was when her dark aura had subsided. She felt a serious twinge, but held it in, looking back to Aria. [I "Give me your hand"]
When Aria gave her her hand, she could see memories in the fog that she couldn't. Her last recollection of her fogged memories was of a purple ring before she looked to the sky and fell. She released her hand and looked to everyone. [I "I will find him. Man your positions. It's time to fight and show him that he should be very afraid"] she turned away, and hurried off to their tent, where she vomited. After which, after using the sand beneath to cover it, she looked around. [I "Come out, come out, wherever you are"] she whispered.
There were only two others with a purple ring... Luther... And the cabin boy... Aerick, wasn't it? She knew Luther was inside the walls... But she had her suspicions about the cabin boy since the ship. She growled as a affirmative feeling washed over her. He'd been waiting, watching... And there had to be something else... She growled as she finally found the strength to stand again. She had to prepare... The Cabin Boy was gonna search for her... Because she knew exactly what he'll be looking for. Her father had shown her that he was resting in the nearby brush. He took off his ring. He'll come looking for it when he finds that it is missing.
She let her father guide her to the same plains she trained in. The air carried his scent, and she knew where he was. Saraya then used her ability to summon her bow and arrow. She prepared, aimed and fired, swiping away the ring and hitting the wall nearby with little to no disruption from the boy. She then hurried to that wall, and plucked it from her bow before turning and making her way to her tent again. She went into Carrick's trunk, pulling out armor and sliding them around her swollen belly. She put the ring on a chain and around her neck, hiding it within the armor, so he can't detect it on her.
The watchers with news of threat had been called. She readied herself as Corbin had came forth. [I "Are you ready, lady Saraya?"] he has asked. Saraya looked up to him and nodded as she walked past. [I "Let us take back the armory"]
Rhuarc stood facing his one time student, his blade held at the ready, waiting for Balden to make the first move. He knew that the boy would never be able to beat him, Rhuarc was stronger, faster, more experienced and more skilled but that was not why Rhuarc wanted to cross swords with the boy. He had sparred with Balden countless times since leaving Central City and that was what was important. It was incredibly difficult to change styles or temperament once you had trained a certain way, much longer than the time that Balden had left. If Balden was the friendly face that the Guardians could not trust then Rhuarc was hoping to find a clue in his fighting style. Balden made his move and lunged forward, his footwork was passable if not perfect, but he was focussing so much on that he had forgotten his other lessons. Almost effortlessly Rhuarc moved Balden around the sparring ring and countered with a powerful blow to Balden's own blade forcing it from his hand. [b "Your grip is too loose. Again."] Balden's next attack went much the same, his footwork was passable and he even sorted out his grip but within a few moves Balden had lost his sword again, the growing irritation was clear to see on the young man's face. Balden's next foray was different though, and it was almost as if someone else was fighting Rhuarc. The set of his face shifted and his strikes were quick, powerful dangerous and reckless. Rhuarc's skill meant that he was in little real danger but the intention behind the forms that Balden used were clear and Rhuarc ended the confrontation before someone got hurt. With the same flourish that Rhuarc used in his fight against Luther he ended the bout with his sword barely toughing Balden's throat, a clear and obvious killing blow and a victory for the Jai. As Balden moved towards the weapon racks and out of the ring Rhuarc followed. [b "When I first started teaching you I said that I would expect the same from you that I would of any other Jai student. That was wrong of me. It is foolish to expect a boar to fly as the eagle does, or a horse to swim the oceans like a fish. A Jai student who abandoned his training like you did would forfeit their life, but you are not Jai and that is not your fate. You are right, I do not like that you left, I feel that it was selfish and the wrong path to take but I am not you. You followed your heart and it would be wrong to punish you for trying to help the Priestess in whatever way you could. I am still disappointed in your actions but those actions are in the past. Lets pay them no heed and move past them."]
Rhuarc spent most of the rest of the day dealing with the preparations for the imminent attack on Astoria, he spent some time with Jeremiah looking over last minute reports, maps and intelligence plans making sure that they were as prepared as possible for what was to come. He found Ayab training some men as archers, he was doing an adequate job with what he had, few of the men were trained soldiers and those that were had already been promoted to officers. Thankfully the Resistance actually had a decent enough supply of weapons and good supply of crossbows which Rhuarc was delighted with. A longbow would give you more distance in an attack but it took far more training to use effectively, outfitting the men with the comparatively simple crossbows would mean that they could still pose a ranged threat without the need for skilled soldiers. In what time they had the men had trained hard and were preparing as best the could. Fenlyk had good, honest people in the Resistance who just wanted their home back and they would do everything that they could to make that happen. The hours flew by before he was approached by a nervous looking messenger and was given the message that the High Priestess had been found unconscious and was currently in the infirmary. Rhuarc wasted no time and practically sprinted through the underground tunnels and through the camp to the infirmary and Aria. Thankfully it didn't look as if she had been hurt but Rhuarc was furious. Why had she been left unprotected? Rhuarc had not been this angry since Tanaka and everyone was well aware of how that had ended up, he had practically avoided being in the same room as Aria until Kil'heed! The Jai Guardian arrived just in time to hear Aria tell Carrick that she had lost the Harbinger...that was very bad news. They needed that sword in order to defeat Malik. As much as Rhuarc wanted to comfort Aria, wrap his arms around her and be there for her, they had both agreed to keep their feelings secret and Rhuarc's rage at what had happened was still too fresh for any of that right now. He ordered that the entire camp be searched thoroughly for the Harbinger or anyone with any information on what had happened to the Priestess to be brought to him immediately. While that was happening he had a much closer object for his fury to find; Carrick.
He practically dragged the Captain away from Aria to a corner of the infirmary that was unoccupied before rounding on the former blacksmith. [b "How could you let this happen, you are the Captain of her Guard! We have spoken about your duty before and it seems that you did not listen. Why did she not have one of your men with her, why were you not there yourself? Was it because of Saraya? Is she more important to you than the Priestess?"] Rhuarc knew that what he was saying was unfair, Carrick was likely as upset at what had happened to Aria as Rhuarc was but the Jai didn't care, he just wanted to lash out in anger right now. Azera help whoever had attacked Aria if Rhuarc got his hands on them...In any case Aria seemed to be unharmed and that was the only small mercy in the situation. If she had been harmed then Carrick would have a lot more to answer for.
[right [pic http://i64.tinypic.com/s6kvnm.jpg]]
The Fade watched from the shadows under his hood at the carnage that had unfolded after The Necromancer had made his move and had stolen the sword, it was a bold move and if the Fade could have felt enjoyment he would have at seeing the Priestess being hit in the face. As it stood he had more important matters to intend to. He had sent out a summoning of his puppet within their group to hear the latest plans for their attack on the city. The Fade knew the basics but he wanted to be prepared, and when the Guardians and this pathetic Resistance made their move they would be met with an organised defence ready to repeal their efforts. It would be a massacre. Perhaps the Fade would pay a visit to the Necromancer to discuss what his plans were for that sword, or rather what Malik's plans were for it. The Mage might be plotting on his own and the Fade itself was no mindless slave but he did not think that the Necromancer had the spine to stand up to the King. The Fade had possibly thought about snatching the priestess away fro Malik while she was here, her protection had been lax but after that little stunt, she was unlikely to ever be alone again, at least not for a while. It was irritating but it mattered not, The Fade was a hunter and it would continue to watch its prey until a weakness showed itself. It was the dead of night before his puppet appeared before him. [#06b9ea "Report,tell me everything and leave out no detail."]
Carrick and his men saw to the training of the Resistance fighters for the better part of the day. He wished they would have had more time, these were not trained soldiers like the Volshi or Caledons, but they were full of heart. This was their home, and it was clear they wanted it back. They were rough around the edges, and their techniques were sloppy, but with the help of the Holy Guardsmen and Guardians, things were looking up.
Carrick was beginning to feel more confident about tomorrow, and he would have been willing to stay and train all day, but he felt a disquiet come over him and he knew it to be Saraya. He called to Max to take over the Guardsmen duties, clean up and return to camp and the Priestess. She’d been alone long enough, by his opinion.
He didn’t find Saraya at Camp, but just outside in the marshy fields that surrounded the coastal region. Corbin was leaning against a tree doing as ordered by himself and Aria -guarding Saraya. The battle was approaching, and she needed rest. They all did, once the sun rose Aria’s plan would be put into motion. He could sense she had seen something, she must have been in congress with her father’s spirit. He never had anticipated that the balance between his love for Saraya and his devotion to duty would be so difficult. Should he have gone to check on the Priestess and then come find Saraya? He could never tell if he was making the right decision, but when he finally found her, he sensed her words and spoke with her. War was coming, and after today there would be no going back. He helped her stand up and kissed her, a hand on her belly feeling for his child.
[#000080 “Let’s head back to camp. The first wave is about to move out and plant the explosives-“]
[b “Captain!”] He heard a shout from a figure rushing towards them. Carrick stood tall and turned to see the young teen approaching. [b “The High Priestess… she was found unconscious in the middle of camp.”] Carrick tensed beside Saraya, his hand held hers tighter. He felt a tremor of fear.
[#000080 “Is she injured? Where is she now? Who found her!”] Carrick demanded to know answers as he hurried back to base with the messenger and Saraya.
According the the teen, Aria had been found by one of the Guardsmen returning to check camp on Max’s orders. She was unharmed from what they could tell, but she couldn’t remember who attacked her and what happened, and they had moved her to the Infirmary. Max was with her, as was Father Penzone and several other clerics. They were all around her when Carrick arrived, and the door was barred entirely by her retune of guards. Carrick knew the moment he walked in that Aria had been crying. Were they certain she was unharmed? Saraya reached her first, and Aria dropped her head in shame whimpering: [#db7093 “I’m sorry, I don’t know what happened…”] Carrick walked forward, and waved the clerics from her. Some of them uttering whispered prayers, or talking amongst themselves as to what would have caused her to collapse.
[#000080 “Were you attacked?”] he asked her, making her meet his eyes, but she looked painfully confused. She didn’t know. She didn’t know who attacked her, or for how long she’d been out. She just knew one thing.
[#Db7093 “I lost the Harbinger… it’s gone.”]
Aria was stunned speechless when they entered the next cave system. It was a massive chamber, hand carved in intricate designs, but the natural pools rose up and sank into the ground permeating light through the entire space. It made the white calcite stalactites glitter with purity. The water was still as glass and reflective making the space seem even larger and brighter. She waited for Lara to inspect the space, and watched curiously as she moved into the water, and not a ripple tainted the surface.
Lara had stopped moving, and Aria felt a shift in the atmosphere of the room. There was a presence with them... Aria called out to Lara, but was greeted by a set of glowing blue eyes, and a tingling sensation on her fish tattoo. It took Aria only a moment to realize what was happening. Fenlyk had taken over Lara’s body to speak with her, and she knew about the sword. Aria gasped, realizing she didn’t have it. She heeded, Fenlyk’s warning and request, hurrying from the chamber and swimming as fast as she could to exit the space. From there she ran quickly through the winding tunnels of the resistance. She was soaking wet and running, which garnered her many a strange look. No doubt they all thought her mad. Perhaps, but she was determined to get that sword. She wondered where Carrick might be, and she guessed correctly at finding him with the fighters training. Adimar was there with Luther and even Rhuarc and Balden. She stopped short seeing them and nearly hesitated. Adimar gave her a one over with brows raised, but before he could tease her and ask if she had gone swimming she called to Carrick and crossed the space towards him. Her soaked appearance had the space looking on again in interest. Having the Guardians around had been the most interesting thing to happen in a while.
Carrick was over in an instant, a look of concern on his face. She knew he wanted to ask what happened, but Aria simply held her hand out. [#Db7093 “It’s time. I need the sword.”] Carrick’s brows furrowed and he unclipped the sword from his hip and handed it to Aria. She gripped it by its sheath, still unable to actually touch it without seeing nightmares and turned to leave.
[#000080 “Care to tell us where you’ve been? What you’re doing? Why are you all wet?”] Carrick asked moving to try and block her from leaving. His role was to protect her... even if it meant protecting her from herself. She looked squarely at all of them with an emotionless facade, and finally returned her gaze back to Carrick.
[#db7093 “No. I can’t explain it. Not now at least. Please trust me.”] Carrick glanced to see Adimar walking over with Luther to see what was going on and slowly back to her pleading eyes and sighed. He stepped back and let her pass him. Before Luther and Adimar, or even Rhuarc could reach her and Carrick she ran from the space hugging the sword against her.
Aria returned to the Purity Pools as fast as she could and hopefully with no followers. She wasn’t exactly subtle when she got excited about something. Finding the Purity Pools and getting the Harbinger cleansed was certainly something for her to get excited about. She came to a sudden stop at the edge of the chamber and looked towards Lara, Fenlyk’s ghost was still inhabiting her and she was summoned over. Aria walked closer bringing the sword with her and eventually placed it in Lara’s hands. She held it up and confessed it was the blade that had ended her life. Aria frowned. She thought the Horseman had felled Fenlyk... so it was Malik, but why? How could he have gone from good to evil so quickly?
Together they dipped the sword into the water and it began to burn brightly under the water. It even grew hot and caused the water around it to bubble off with steam. Aria was entranced by it and if she looked closely enough she could see the horrific scene of Fenlyk’s death playing out in the blade. It was not just Fenlyk’s either... but Volshi’s as well...
The truth was known now. Aria witnessed the moments that led up to Fenlyk’s death, starting with their meeting of Sayan the Horseman. She saw Luther... and she saw his betrayal. She watched Malik die by Luther’s hand, only to be brought back by the Horseman. She pitied him, for he became something dark after that. What powered him would become his downfall, and Aria saw how he turned on Fenlyk, murdering her in the very room they occupied. She had put up a valiant fight, but she died moments after Volshi’s attempt to save her. Malik had been drunk off power, making himself vulnerable to an even darker power, and with little remorse ended the lovers.
When the cleansing ended, and the truth revealed, Aria was released from the vision and back to reality with Fenlyk. She could finally rest in peace, and perhaps now Lara would be able to better communicate with Fenlyk. She didn’t have the heart to tell Fenlyk that she had died just moment’s before Volshi could make it to save her, and subsequently meet his own fate.
[#db7093 “Thank you. I promise to keep this place safe.”] She watched the light fade from Lara’s eyes and her body slump. Aria dropped the sword into the pool and reached for Lara. Water splashed about the two of them, but she managed to catch the girl before she could fall under water or hit her head. Lara was unsurprisingly groggy, but Aria only offered her a warm smile.
[#db7093 “You did it. You cleansed the sword. Fenlyk helped us-“] The water around them suddenly illuminated once more and the harbinger popped up to the surface as if a force was pushing it out of the water. It wasn’t the only thing that came to float on the surface. A sleek and ancient bow floated towards Aria, but she recognized it instantly as Volshi’s missing Bow. She had seen illustrations of it as a child, and with a quick glance she found a sapphire colored quiver made of leather and containing a full stock of arrows... all tipped with black steel much like Rhuarc’s blade. She removed one of the arrows, but a moment later it vanished from her hand and rematerialized in the quiver. She knew she had to give this to Adimar. More impressive was the staff of rose gold and sturdy wood that rose from the water right before Lara and presented itself. Fenlyk’s staff... was now Lara’s. [#db7093 “Fenlyk and Volshi died down here... it only makes sense Fenlyk’s ghost protected their weapons... they’re special in the hands of their Guardian.”] Aria said knowingly.
Kil’heed had been a labyrinth of self discovery and trails, for Volshi had been known to be quite the trickster and cunning. Fenlyk had always been known for her steadfast honesty and straightforward approach. It made her wonder how Caledon and Jai’hash’s temples would present themselves.
Aria and Lara were careful to leave the Purity Pools as they found them, and Aria even said a small blessing and prayer before departing. When the returned to the chamber Balden had showed Lara originally they watched the hidden door slip back into place, sealing the tunnels into the temple once more. Aria knew then that using them as an escape passage was not feasible. Fenlyk was right. It had to stay protected from Malik. Aria looked to Lara and smiled. [#db7093 “Thank you for finding me. For leading us right to the Purity Pools, and for trusting to follow me. I should take the sword somewhere safe. Could you deliver this bow and quiver to Adimar?”] she was sure Lara wanted to test out her new staff too. So she bid Lara to enjoy the rest of her day since tomorrow was going to be intense with the attack.
She walked down the dimly lit tunnels alone back to their tents and carried the sword to Adimar’s tent. Camp was empty and quiet. Not even Saraya was laying down to rest. She would give it back to Carrick later, for now she would sit with it and do some research. She was stopped before she could enter by the unfamiliar yet friendly face of the cabin boy who rushed up to meet her. She recognized him, but had not quite met him yet. He hurried up to approach her calling her title and quickly bowing once he reached her. She stood tall, holding the sword tightly in her hand, blade in the dirt, and eyes on him. Before he could ask his question she asked her’s.
[#Db7093 “Where is everyone?”] Mainly her guards. She’d grown accustomed to having them near.
[#8b008b “They are all at training before the big battle tomorrow. You requested solitary, and we all assumed you were with the Guardian of Fenlyk since breakfast.”] But he had been here? What for? What did this boy do during his free time? She confirmed his conclusion, but remained outside Adimar’s tent, waiting for the chance to enter and asked if there was something she could do for him. [#8b008b “I just wanted to ask you something. The sword, it’s special isn’t it? Will it help you defeat Malik?”] Aria frowned and felt a chill. How would the Cabin Boy know that? Why was she just now noticing how much more man than boy he was? Her silence and expression must have been enough of a tell, because he smiled and suddenly reached out for her. She caught the glimmer of his ring before his hand glowed a dark sickly purple and connected over her face.
She fell back, the sound and the floor seemingly going out from under her and everything went black. She could have sworn she heard a whisper coming from the Cabin Boy with the words: [#8b008b “You’re next…”]
Adimar took Rhuarc’s words to heart. The man trusted his arcane abilities, and Adimar was glad he could at least be helpful in this department. Contacting Vega again would not be easy, and it left Adimar a little anxious -albeit determined. He bid Rhuarc farewell, and turned back to his studies, packing them back up and putting them away. He would focus on his arcane work later in the evening, he had other items to tend to today.
Adimar was accustomed to having a full and busy schedule. He had grown up a high-born noble, where every moment of everyday was planned out for him. He liked finally having the freedom to fill those days how he desired. On his route towards the training ring, he caught up with Luther who had been speaking with the cabin boy. He recalled Lara’s sneak into his room on the ship, and Rhuarc’s distrust of the man. Adimar, while also curious, had been more sided with Carrick -he had seen no reason to distrust the Watcher, though it seemed they could trust no one. Even Luther could pass as the ‘friendly face’.
[#20B2aa “Off to train are you? Allow me to join you. Rhuarc had the chance to face you, I would like the same.”] Luther actually looked Adimar’s way and seemed amused.
[#00ffff “I will not fight you Mage, it would be a mismatched fight.”] Adimar arched a brow. Did the man not know that Adimar too was a trained warrior? Very well, let the man think what he wanted.
[#20b2aa “Perhaps you are right. You must be without equal to have lived so long, even to claim yourself as an original guardsman of Azera. It must have been rather humiliating to be bested by Rhuarc.”] This comment gave Luther pause who turned to eye the Volshi suspiciously.
[#00ffff “That was a draw-”]
[#20b2aa “But a loss for someone like you. Tell me, how did you manage to be the only remaining member of Azera’s Holy Guard to live this long? Legend has it they were all destroyed in the reckoning of Malik.”]
Luther glared at Adimar, not liking the conversation one bit, and as of late he was finding it harder and harder to remain calm and collected against the Guardian’s suspicions. Aria had spurned all of his attempts at conversation, flattery did not work with her, tough love did not work with her, nor did any of his attempts at manipulation. He had an end goal to this madness as well as she did, and his own means to try and take down Malik.
[#00ffff “Perhaps you can explain to me, everyone’s animosity towards me -including yours.”] Luther eyed Adimar as they walked, and saw the man’s grin.
[#20b2aa “Oh, I have nothing against you. You made the assumption a fight between us would be unevenly matched, that I can not compete. As to the others? I can not speak for them. However, if I had to guess why, it would be because you have openly confessed to watching Aria. Yet you never stepped in until it became convenient for you to do so. Second more, we have seen you try time and again to insert yourself into her privy council. You long to have her ear, but when you are denied we see your irritation. We also know you’re Malik’s kin... that alone causes us to be cautious. Would you rather the Guardians were lax on protecting the Priestess and just allowed any person near her, or would you rather we do our jobs and protect the literal living embodiment of Azera? The others have kept her alive as long as they have by trusting no one... so don’t take it personal.”] Luther could not debate Adimar’s logic, and instead conceded with a simple.
[#00ffff “I see your point. Perhaps I have tried too hard to earn your trust.”] He felt Adimar’s hand on his shoulder and heard his words of ‘less is more’, and decided he needed to change his tactics of earning not only Aria’s trust, but the others too. Carrick was not enough. Perhaps his mission with Rhuarc would prove to be a fruitful endeavor.
They came upon the sparing ring to find Balden face to face with Rhuarc in the ring.
Balden should have anticipated this happening at some point. He had sworn to follow Rhuarc’s teachings, and instead he had left Kil’heed to travel across the provinces and help in a different way. He had felt guilty for leaving, and as a result he practiced all that Rhuarc had taught him, and tried his best to learn from those above him now. They weren’t Rhuarc though, and as Balden took his stance, he knew he was facing a loosing fight. No way on heaven or earth would he last more than a few measly seconds against the man before him.
[#A52a2a “I have practiced what you taught me. I hope you... can forgive me.”] Balden said, a sincere look on his face, and gave a nod of his head to show he was ready.
They squared off, and Balden did well to remember his footwork, and circled the space with Rhuarc. He knew Rhuarc would not strike first, and so Balden gathered himself and lunged forward. Sure enough Rhuarc worked him around and the sword from his hand. Instead of laughter on Balden’s behalf, there was hushed interest to see the Guardian of Abdhu’jai fight. To be fair, all of them wanted to see the Guardians in action. Balden’s cheeks burned with humiliation, but he hurried back to his sword and took up his stance again, this time, he faired better. He made an attack, several in fact, all of which Rhuarc blocked with ease before dealing his own. Balden barely managed to parry the attack, and even so his sword was knocked again from his hands. Growing irritated with himself and Rhuarc’s stern teachings, Balden once again grabbed his sword.
This time he gave into his anger, his own self loathing, and lust for glory. Something dark writhed deep within him, and guided his next set of attacks. Quick, powerful, and hungry. Balden’s teeth gnashed with forced concentration and frustration. He felt an urge to do harm, but before he could he was bested a third and final time, this time with Rhuarc’s blade aimed at his throat. Balden heaved angrily, but at least this time he still held his sword. Knowing he was a disappointment to Rhuarc, no matter what, Balden dropped his sword and walked from the ring.
[i -You weren’t good enough before, did you really think you would be now? You blew it out there, made a fool of yourself, and proved Kil’heed’s point... you’re unworthy. They’ll never accept you -not truly. Not even Lara...-]
He stood by the weapons rack, busying himself with re-wrapping his hands as others moved to take over the circle and practice. Against his better wishes, he caught Rhuarc’s eye and his frown. Seeing the man approach him, he stood tall and still. It was time to fess up, he supposed. He had promised to be a student of Rhuarc’s but instead he had abandoned it and gone off... on a pure whim no less. Regardless, Balden felt no remorse, and that alone caused him guilt for betraying Rhuarc.
[#A52a2a “I know you don’t like I left. I know Ayab tried to warn me... but I did what I felt needed to be done. I wanted to help. Not sit around.”]
[center [b Saraya]]
Completely, engulfed with the news, she remained quiet... From Aria, from Corbin... From even Carrick. She just had gotten news that her son, one that supposedly died in Caledon alongside Felliope, was reanimated, at what age, she didn't know. She could only hope that she could find him before something happened... And those spies... Spies, they're in such a spot where they were barely noticeable... And when it came to the battle... If she was to fight this fight, she had to make sure that the ambush never succeeded. But... That would mean...
Careful with her choices she was presented with, she was confronted by Corbin with a question of if she was alright. She looked to him with tired eyes, and slowly shook her head. [I "I don't think I'll be alright right now"] she said. She then looked down to her quarter eaten plate. She forced herself to take more bites, so to keep her from explaining. Corbin stared at Saraya a moment, worried about whether or not he should press the issue. But, his rebuttal to her silence was [b "The battle will make or break the aim... I don't want you to fall into that pit of despair"] he said softly. Saraya sighed. [I "It is not despair I'm afraid of, Corbin... It's the people fighting it... And the secrets within these walls"] she said slowly, with a touch of lethal intention.
Corbin became confused as she looked away again, this time, looking around the area. Of course, she had her doubts about her possible concerns. But, this felt completely strong on the truth that the battle was coming. She finished her food, and though everyone protested against her departing in such a manner, she stubbornly left, taking in air, and took to the fields, where, though night still blanketed the refuge, still held value to her powers.
In the fields on vast sway of breeze, she effortlessly summoned her bow and arrow, and took aim. The trees were a target, though she never harmed them. She started channeling, using her speed and keen sight to brace and release. This had went on for awhile, not knowing Carrick had been looking for her.
After good practice with her powers her great grandfather bestowed upon her, she managed to sit down as a breeze gently swept the blades of grass to and fro, and she could only admire its gentle touch.
Soon enough, she was visited by a soft shadow as it sat next to her. [b "Saraya? Are you alright?"]
She closed her eyes a moment. Sayan's presence blanketed her so, and kept her calm. [I "Father, I fear that Malik's strength is beyond them... "] she looked to him, but her eyes weren't soft, but hard and wet. [I "... That my sons are at risk. "]
Sayan stared down to her softly as she spoke. [I "There's only so much I can take. Having to return Felliope to the afterlife is one obstacle... But to find that my murdered son is alive is-"]
[b "-Ludicrous... But, it is true, nevertheless... "] he admitted. Saraya looked to him. [I "Father... "]
[b "Ive... Been keeping an eye on our enemy. He's sent a fleet by ship to attack Fenlyk. Just as Felliope spoke of in your dream. He's attempting to distract everyone, even slow you all down, give him enough time to invade our home and ambush The Jai. He hopes to get Aria through the fleet, and possibly completely bring Azera to its knees. "] he looked ashamed as Saraya watched. If anyone felt any more responsible for the pain, it was Sayan. Besides, this was where...
Saraya looked back ahead. [I "What happened here, father? Why had Luther back out of aiding you? And what happened at the temple?"]
Sayan looked to her with a somber expression before looking ahead. [b "It was spring. The Council had denied me the right to protect the people... So, I took it into my own hands. Shadow had manifested, became an abomination, allowing himself to attach to a weak conduit, though it wouldn't last long. I needed to stop him before he found any of the Guardians, or the Council... "]
The silent Saraya nodded as she saw the scene begin, seeing the young Father gallop on his steed to Earth. [b "He was coming to Fenlyk. He had a seer's body after torturing the poor lad, and saw that I was coming to stop him. I begged the honorable dead to aid me in defeating my brother... Many had bowed in agreement. Before I could gather myself, a heard a voice... "]
[b [I "Hey! You are trespassing on Fenlyk Territory! State your business or perish!"]]
[b "It turned out that my presence went noticed. I bowed my head and introduced myself, afterwhich they proceeded to attempt to arrest me. I refused. "]
[b [I "I am sorry, Guardians... But there is a threat I must defeat. And, I would have to stop him. If you refuse me that right, I will be forced to retaliate"]]
[b "Fenlyk wouldn't back down. She and I fought, as well as the others, and all were formidable. But, your great grandfather Caledon had noticed that I hadn't attacked, only stayed in defense. So, he stopped us from waring"]
Saraya watched with an open mind. Caledon had shielded his massive form and uttered the word [I ENOUGH] to halt all. Afterwards, Her great grandfather turned to him with a simple statement. [I [u "Tell me... Of this threat that is in our midst"]]
[b "So, I explained. Caledon listened attentively, and I appreciated that he had. After explaining, Fenlyk had apologized and asked how any of them could be of aid... "]
[b [I "I couldn't ask any if you to lay down your lives for such a task, Guardians. My only wish is to keep my brother from harming this world i watched and cared for since before Azera came to be. "]
They pressed to help. I explained that i can only choose a human and that i must bestow upon him the power to aid me in defeating my brother. Caledon had offered Luther, who agreed oh, too quickly. Fenlyk had led us to the temple, where I could perform the ritual upon him. But... Something... ]
Saraya watched as the scene unfolded. Fenlyk could sense an odd presence and stepped forward. [b [I "Wait... Sir Sayan, I feel an evil vendetta from within... "]]
Sayan stared upon them as Fenlyk had pointed her staff towards Luther. [b [I "Why did you agree to this?"]]
Everyone stared to Luther, who went defensive. He spoke that he only wished to save Azera. But, Fenlyk knew the lie before it slipped past his lips. She grabbed him, and placed him on his knees. She ordered him to speak the truth. Malik was adjacent as Caledon approached and placed a hand on his head, and after a moment, spoke the words [I "Claim her"]
Everyone was on edge. Malik and Volshi growled. Sayan read it next.
[b [I "Your doing this to take Azera?!"]] Fenlyk exclaimed. Luther saw Malik come for him and drew his sword on his General. Malik and Luther battled, the guardians and Sayan watching until Malik was struck. Luther had stood and bellowed that Azera will finally be his to claim before disappearing. The Guardians chased him... All except Caledon and his Cantalia, who was in tears. As he watched, Sayan had knelt to Malik's body. Sayan pitied him, and granted him the power, afterwards, was resurrected. Malik thanked him, but Sayan shook his head. [b "Your love for Azera is your power. Once Shadow is defeated, I will relinquish this power and leave your life, so you can claim what is yours"]
Saraya stared before it faded away.
[b "Somehow, Luther had escaped. My guess is he had saw to it that the Guardians never returned to report his treachery, and blamed their deaths on me. Only Caledon and his wife survived that night, but I sworn him to secrecy, begging him only because I feared their safety if Luther had came back to finish the job he had started."]
Saraya nodded in understanding.
[b "Here, I pray they see the truth, and understand that i still hunt my brother... Who is inside Malik. "]
Saraya looked to him. He had the stare of anguish, and she couldn't do a thing hit hug him. [I "Needn't worry, father... They will see the truth, and we will stop him... "]
After a while, dawn was approaching. Carrick had finally found her sitting on the plains, watching the dawn break. Carrick had knelt to her, asking if she was alright and Saraya nodded. After a moment, she looked up to him. [I "The dawn calls. And all is nigh"] she looked ahead and Carrick had along with her, and they both said in unison:
[Center [size25 [I It is now the timber of war ]]]
The deeper she went, the more in tune Lara felt with the water. It was as if with her breath, the water moved towards and away from rocky 'shore' with this comfortable hum.
She had never felt this tranquil and in-tune with something, well in forever. Lara could still feel her surroundings, but the depth of that feeling through the water was something which she had never felt before.
And the humming, it added this vibration which felt so pleasant in the bones. Lara could feel her whole body pleasantly tingle from the vibration.
But she still concentrated on finding the source of whatever was calling. It was as if whatever it was wanted to be found, but had to be thoroughly searched for.
Lara had not expected the tremor. Her own eyes popped open as she looked on in curiosity at what had happened.
She was still confused as to what had happened when Lara heard the footsteps of Aria running over. If the tone had been accusatory, Lara would have hung her head in shame in having done something wrong. But instead Aria expressed wonder and amazement, which meant that she understood what had just happened.
Lara could not believe what Aria had just said. A passage to the temple? That had to be inconceivable! But looking over to Aria, Lara saw that look which expressed complete belief.
Even though she had grown, there were still somethings which Lara did not understand. Hopefully the trip to the temple would clear somethings up.
Lara went with the moment, following Aria into the water. Swimming in these clothes was difficult, but being able to control the water helped in keeping both of them afloat as well as propelling them forward.
It took a while to swim across for the pool was bigger than it looked. But it was eventually shallow enough to walk. Walking in water wasn't easy, but it was easier than walking up stairs in the dark.
Climbing up in the dark was not easy, especially up a surface made of rocks. The more they climbed, the closer something appeared.
That something, once walked up to, revealed itself to be a locked gate. The rattling gate gave a light scare to Lara unsure of what had caused it, before seeing that Aria had gone up to the gate and had taken her arm away.
The Heart of Fenlyck? Well, there was something she felt. It was this indescribable thing, but it felt like the spirit of Fenlyck. But at the same time, it felt a bit different.
Lara got to working on the lock. Just a little light would have helped, for this bumbling in the dark made it almost hard to see the lock. But maybe water would make it easier. She could use the water to feel how the inside of the lock felt and imprint that as an image. That imprint would allow to easily figure out what to press and make the lock unlock.
The introduction of water inside the lock caused the lock to pop off in a few seconds. This further show of progress had Aria hugging Lara. Lara smiled, giving off a quiet laugh as she also rejoiced.
They began to walk through the passageways. But after travelling a few minutes, Lara stopped and pulled over Aria. In a quiet and serious tone, [+purple "I understand what is happening. The Heart of Fenlyck, I can feel it. But it feels as if it is trapped, surrounded by some vile corruption deep in the temple. The only thing preventing this temple from being restored is that heavy corruption."] Lara had felt the Heart of Fenlyck moving around, but moving around in a tight space; that tight space felt vile, dark, pure evil.
Lara kept leading, expecting to fall into some trap or some trick. But there was none. Had the corruption also prevented the temple from being to protect itself?
And then there was this slight light ahead in the tunnel. The closer they got, the more the light filled the space and the brighter it became.
Walking through the exit, for a short period of time the light was blinding.
Lara blinked a few times, her eyes adjusting to the light. What she saw, what was she even seeing? The surface was still made of rock, but it felt so smooth and delicate. The light, it was as if magic. It illuminated the entire cavern, revealing every nook and cranny in the multi-coloured rocks. As to the water, from the surface it did not even move.
This was a place of purity, no corruption at all. They had found it, they had found the Purity Pools!
Lara gave a sign for Aria to wait before approaching the water. Looking down into the water, Lara could see a perfect reflection of herself. The image was not moving, not even a single ripple warping any part of the picture.
And then Lara stepped into the water. She gasped, for the water did not ripple as her foot plunged in and settle on the bottom.
Lara waded in, and stopped until the water was up to her knees. As she closed her eyes, Lara felt out for the water with her mind.
[i [center ...
When her eyes opened, it was not Lara's eyes. Instead, the eyes had changed into a pure blue colour, the same pure blue as of the Purity Pools. Lara's head moved around, as if looking at a complete new body?
[+blue "So this is my guardian."] The head nodded, as if understanding something.
Lara turned to face Aria. As she turned to face Aria, the fish tattoo on both Lara's and Aria's neck warmed up. Lara did not notice, for she wasn't on control of what was happening.
[+blue "After all this time, it is nice to see you Priestess. I do apologize for using Lara like this, but until the temple is restored I can only communicate through a body."]
Lara'd body assumed a dignified posture. [+blue "I'm quite surprised at how much she has grown. I need to thank you for looking out for her, she would have been lost without your guidance."]
After a few seconds of silence, Lara's hand extended at Aria. [+blue "I understand you need a sword in need of cleansing."] There was a slight awkward undertone to those words, since the sword which Fenlyck spoke of was the same sword which had killed Fenlyck. [+blue "Could I take a look?"]
It turned out the sword was not on Aria's body, but on someone else's. Fenlyck sighed, which caused Lara to sigh, and then looked back up at Aria. [+blue "You must retrieve the sword. But make no mention of this place, or how you found the entrance to this place to anyone else, even to those in your group. Malik has a far reach, and it would be ill advised for all of us to let him know."]
While Aria as gone in retrieving the sword, Fenlyck shifted through Lara's memories. The memory of running away while the parents were burned and the house slaughtered pained Fenlyck, for she had never wanted Lara to live through a moment like that.
What really peaked Fenlyck's thoughts was how Lara had gone on to survive. All those days and nights of working the odd jobs, travelling from one of the world to the other, all while under the stress of being found out.
Fenlyck would have continued to sift through the memories if it had not been for the patter of footsteps. Fenlyck looked up, and saw Aria who now came back with that blade.
Fenlyck waved Aria, beckoning her to come and join her.
After wading to where Lara was standing, Fenlyck, still in control of Lara, gently took the sword. Bringing it up higher, [+blue "Time has not taken its toll on this blade. If it wasn't for.... it killing me...."] Lara's head shook, the recollections were still too painful for remembering.
Fenlyck laid the sword into the water gently, kneeling besides and muttering words. After a few seconds, the sword shined brightly and briefly before returning to its previous look.
Standing up, [+blue "The deed is done, the sword is purged and clean. And I can finally rest. And do give my regards to Volshi, if he has not suffered the same fate as I."] It felt as if the weight of the world had finally disappeared. [+blue "And remember, I beg of you, say nothing of anything that has passed down here. Malik has a far reach, and it is better for him not to know of any of this."]
And then Fenlyck left Lara's body. Lara flopped into the water. After the splash, Lara stood up weakly, using Aria for support. [+purple "What... What have I seen...?"]
Rhuarc listened with complete focus as Adimar recalled everything that he could about Vega's message to him about Aria and the Medici. To Rhuarc's dismay he couldn't figure anything new from hearing the message a second time, the same thoughts that Rhuarc had when he first heard the message applied. Luckily he had Adimar with him to help, the man was a scholar and a bloody good one at that. The Volshi Guardian rummaged around, moving books, and scrolls, tomes and various ageing pieces of text until he found what he was looking for. It seemed that Adimar had been doing some research, how he found the time to do this and all of his other duties Rhuarc would never know but he was eternally grateful that he did. What Adimar showed Rhuarc sent a chill down the normally unflappable Jai's spine, it was simply horrific. If the Fade really was this "shadow" that Admiar's texts spoke of then they needed to be even more careful than any of them could have originally thought. They knew Malik was a powerful mage in his own right, that was evident by his ability to control the Necromancer and The Mage as well as the very existence of the Fade but if The Fade was so terrible that it required the splitting of souls to even create such an abomination what else was Malik capable of. [b "I find it hard to believe that the False King is anyone's puppet, even something as terrible as The Fade. As for a conduit...it does seem likely, if I had the magical powers that that bastard did then I would find a way to spy on or corrupt my enemies. You know far more about magics than I will ever know Adimar and I trust your judgement. If you believe that there is some sort of conduit close to the Priestess then I believe you."]
The next book that Adimar showed Rhuarc was written in a script that he did not understand, likely Volshi given that both Aria and Admiar could read it and thankfully Rhuarc's fellow Guardian realised the confusion on Rhuarc's face and moved on to another concerning development. [i “Every time I’ve sensed a dark presence around Aria… one of Malik’s goons hasn’t been far away… right?”] [b "I would agree with that."] Admiar listed off his list of possible suspects for who could be the friendly face that they needed to beware and two of them were definite contenders. Rhuarc discounted Lady Stanos almost immediately, his instincts told him that she was not the traitor and he had learned to trust his instincts long ago. She was not an obvious choice, yes she had helped them since reaching Volshi but soon they would leave this Province and then her usefulness would be expended, that was wasteful and whatever else Malik was, he was not one to waste as valuable resource as trusted face willing to betray them at a moments notice. The cabin boy was an anomaly, it was unusual to see any Jai outside of the Wastelands, how he came to be on a Volshi airship was a complete mystery and if Adimar thought he felt some sort of energy coming from the boy then Rhuarc was willing to take that seriously. Being the only unconcerned face in the meeting wasn't exactly comforting either. Then there was Balden. Rhuarc wished that it wasn't but his desires meant nothing next to fact. Adimar was right, he had been denied entry to the Volshi Temple, and he had left them. Was that enough for him to be a traitor? Rhuarc was unconvinced. [b "I do not think it is Stanos but it could be the cabin boy or even Balden. I propose that we each watch one of them. You watch the cabin boy, if he truly has hidden magic then you would be the best placed to detect it. I know Balden so it seems logical that out of the two of us I would be able to spot any unusual behaviour on his part. I would not worry about Lara, she is more than capable of looking after herself."] Rhuarc didn't quite know how to answer Adimar's last question, contacting Vega was risky and Rhuarc had no true idea of how that would be achieved but if she was a possible ally...it was worth a shot. [b "Yes, she was under attack, I believe that for a certainty. As for Vega, I will defer to your judgement on matters of the arcane although I believe she could be a useful ally. I trust you Adimar and if you feel the risk of contacting her outweighs her use as an ally I shall respect that...but I think you should try."]
After asking around a bit Rhuarc was eventually able to find Balden, he was hanging around with a few of the other scouts in the sparring area, it seemed that the young man had not forgotten everything that Rhuarc had taught him all those months ago and still seemed to practice the sword, but these resistance members made poor opposition. Rhuarc had the beginnings of a plan. In combat a man showed you who he truly was, there was no hiding, so he would spar with Balden, frustrate him, if there was anything the young man was hiding, Rhuarc wanted to see it. [b "I never finished training you when you left us Balden. Do you think that you are ready for that sword you carry at your hip?"] Rhuarc unsheathed the blade of heavy black steel and took up a defensive stance across from the one time blacksmith's apprentice. [b "Show me what you have learned. Hold nothing back."]
Aria was startled by Lara’s appearance. She had snuck up on her, and again Aria was impressed by Lara’s ability with stealth. She claimed to know a place where Aria could go to calm down, or at the very least collect her thoughts. She was hesitant for a moment, wanting to simply be alone, but at the same time she trusted Lara to respect her desire for peace and quiet. She managed a simple ‘thank you’ and accepted Lara’s hand to stand.
She followed Lara down several winding passageways until they finally found themselves in a sort of underground oasis. Aria’s eyes widened at the sight of it. Glittering rock walls greeted her with bioluminescent algae and mushrooms lighting the space. Stalactites clung to the chambers ceiling in an ominous way, but their brilliant white coloring gave them an almost etherial presence. The pools of water lapped at the sandy ground in waves of a crystal blue. Lara must have sensed Aria’s awe at the natural wonder, for she helped the Priestess to sit on the ground at the waters edge. Then proceeded to walk away and take up her own residence at the other end of the large pool of water. Aria watched her in silence, appreciating the gesture and followed Lara’s example. She closed her eyes and attempted to still her mind.
A recollection of memories from her trials in Kil’heed came back to her senses. The images of hate and violence Malik had implanted in her mind in an attempt to see her plans, were similar to the horrors she faced during her trials. She shouldn’t have let his attack affect her so much, she had already lived through it in a sense. She had overcome it, now was not the time to regress in her fears. Stress was a key factor in her most recent temper, and Aria had to reconcile with the truth that she was sending people into a dangerous situation, that lives could be lost…
She wiped her palms over her knees, the fabric wicking away the moisture she felt as if it was blood on her hands. She felt her heart hammer nervously, when she suddenly felt a presence in the chamber. It wasn’t anything malicious, and it wasn’t Lara… and then again… it was. Aria felt the water curl right up to her feet, and retreat. It was a caress of power, and a call to dive deeper. Aria finally opened her eyes, but again, it was only Lara in the chamber with her. That was when she noticed the ebb and flow of the water matched Lara’s breathing, and the longer Lara focused… the more the room filled with a hum of power. Aria could feel it wrapping around her, and as she turned her gaze from Lara to the water, she watched as light moved upwards from the water and into a wide arc along the far wall surrounded by water.
Not a moment later there was a tremor in the ground and the water rippled. Aria watched, mouth agape as the arc gave way and the wall slid gracefully down beneath the water. She jumped to her feet and rushed over to Lara, her previous concerns fading to the distance for now.
[#db7093 “Lara! What have you done!”] Aria asked, but there was no ounce of an accusatory tone. Instead it was wondered and impressed. The path ahead was pitch black, and the water barely allowed a glow to illuminate the tunnel. [#db7093 “I think you’ve found the passage to the temple!”] Aria breathed, as she came to understand what this place was. How had Lara found it? She looked to Lara and grabbed her hand. Giddy and excited, Aria couldn’t wait to begin exploring this new development. [#db7093 “Come on… let’s see where this goes…”] Aria dragged Lara towards the water. They waded as the water came up to their chests, and they began to swim to the opening and into the darkness.
They didn’t have to swim for long, and if there was any concern of wandering off on their own, neither voiced it. They both wanted to know where this tunnel led, especially since it was by Lara’s own water bending that it had opened up for them. The water eventually shallowed allowing them to find their footing and began a long climb up the dark tunnel until they reached a place where they could stand upright. A hundred yards in and they were blocked by an iron gate. It was locked and Aria shook the bars hoping they might give way, but they only rattled loudly creating a loud echo to travel down the tunnel.
[#Db7093 “Damn! It won’t budge… Lara, do you think you can pick this lock? We need to get past this, I sense it… don’t you? The Heart of Fenlyk…”] She smiled as she looked past the gate, her eyes having adjusted in the darkness to make out the faint shadows of stairs leading upwards to another passageway. Stone steps indicated architecture by human hands… it gave Aria the boost she needed.
She stepped back and watched as Lara attempted to pick the lock. When she heard a resounding click of the lock giving away, Aria couldn’t resist and flung her arms around Lara. [#db7093 “You did it!”] She giggled happily hugging Lara tightly. The iron gate gave way and they were able to enter the space. However, Lara was more familiar with the tricks and traps that could be found in any Guardian’s temple, and Aria allowed her to lead the way through the passages and into what would eventually reveal itself to be the Purity Pools…
Rhys sat with the other scouts who had returned from Astoria. He hadn’t been expecting to find all of the Guardians seated at a table discussing war plans. Per Malik’s demands, Rhys turned an enchanted ring on his finger. It connected him to Malik, and with the exception of the Fade, even Egos had one. It allowed them to extend Malik’s reach of power, becoming a sort of conduit for him. If he wanted, Malik could see what Rhys saw and vice versa. It was almost instant, the feeling of cold humidity that flooded his veins and covered his skin. Rhys kept his eyes rapt on the priestess and smirked as he saw how tense she suddenly went. She wasn’t the only one… the Fade’s puppet was susceptible to Malik’s invasions of the mind. He stood just as still, a drone ready to do as commanded. If Malik really wanted he could have had the fool jump across the table and choke the Priestess to death. He could have the man poison her food, literally anything, but Malik enjoyed playing with his prey. That was something Rhys couldn’t judge the man for.
His eyes traveled the concerned faces in the room as the priestess fought off Malik’s invasion. It was a short fight though, the Priestess was mentally stronger than they anticipated, she warded Mallik away. With good time too… the fledgling mage that was the Volshi Guardian was beginning to sniff out where Malik’s power was coming from. Rhys carefully twisted the ring the opposite direction on his finger and Aria was fully released. He’d done this before, while on the ship to Fenlyk. Getting her alone was difficult, and while this move had been bold… it had the desired effect Malik would have wanted. It put the guardians on edge as to what was happening, the priestess was shaken, and from there they all abandoned the table. Lara had gone after the priestess, but Rhys felt no need to follow. Instead he looked to Balden and the other boys and engaged in their conversation, earning their trust and being an overall friendly face in the crowd.
When he left the room and split from the other boys, he started towards the camp but was blocked by a body. He looked up and saw the piercing blue eyes and blonde hair of Luther. The man was glowering down at him, his ancient aura was powerful and familiar. This was the brother of Malik, and even Rhys knew that. Now the question that needed asking was if Luther knew who Rhys was. Rhys tensed when Luther suddenly reached out for his hand and held it up.
[#00FFFF “Where did you get this?”] Luther demanded to know. Rhys looked to his enchanted ring, made from a meteorite, and feared he’d been found. [#00FFFF “Are you the one who went through my room and stole my ring?”] Rhys blanched. That was impossible… how would Luther have a ring like Rhys’?
[#8B008B “No Sir. I didn’t steal anything. This was a gift from a friend…”] The Guard looked closer at Rhys’ ring and frowned, letting him go.
[#00ffff “My apologies… I lost a ring that looks similar to this… I just-“]
[#8B008B “Assumed the cabin boy stole it?”] Rhys asked. Luther frowned, but nodded his head, and apologized again. [#8B008B “It’s alright. I get it… the lone Jai on a Volshi ship? I would be suspicious of myself too.”]
[#00ffff “Well if you see my ring it’s like yours, but its all ore, no silver. Bring it to me if you find it.”] Rhys promised he would as Aerick, but Rhys would do nothing of the sort. If he found that ring, he was going to keep it. The only other person with a solid meteorite ring was Malik. He watched Luther walk away and no longer wondered if he truly was related to Malik. They had almost the same face, but where Malik was basalt, shadowed and dark… Luther seemed like a golden beacon of light and sunshine. He supposed there really was a balance in the world. He decided to wait around until he got further information on the coming attack. He would give Malik what information he could, and if necessary lead a counter attack himself.
Adimar reached his hand out to feel at the magical presence around Aria, but his senses had him looking else where… towards the group of young men. The Scouts that had just returned, Balden as well as the Cabin Boy Aerick, who was watching the Priestess with a close eye, but seemed no less bothered by her current situation. It was quite suspicious, but before Adimar could look deeper into what he was sensing, the connection and the magic faded as Aria gasped for breath. None of them had a chance to get a word in as she suddenly snapped, her voice and expression stressed and upset. He watched with pity as she hurried from the room and Lara made to follow. Adimar gave a nod of his head, if anyone might be able to help Aria get through with her own temper, it would be Lara. Lara who had learned over the course of the past year to champion over her own temper and control it. Sure she still had her moments like just now at the war conference, but she had also improved at keeping the bulk of her more [i lashing] tendencies in check. Adimar admired how much she had grown in the short time he’d known her.
Carrick and Saraya left after, Carrick wearing a clear look of hurt that Aria would not be taking him with her into the temple, but if the docks were to be as dangerous as they feared they might, Rhuarc would need all the help he could get. Adimar just needed to make sure he got the prisoners to the ships in one piece. Aria’s plan wasn’t half bad in Adimar’s opinion. Complex and dependent on every other facet of the plan going perfectly, but still allowing room for improvisation. He watched as Balden approached the table and handed the reports off to Rhuarc as he requested, and the scouts were dismissed to a far table in the room to eat a meal. Jeremiah promised rhuarc he was begin recruiting and sending out his best spies. Adimar was anxious to depart the room as well, he wanted to return to his tent, to his books, and his notes. There had to be something there to explain what was happening to the Priestess, when a thought struck him. Perhaps he should be going through her notes, and her books… hopefully if he could see what she was researching, he could glean what was happening to her.
[b “Adimar, a word,”] he heard Rhuarc order. Adimar arched a brow, curious as to what the Jai Guardian could want from him. It all became clear once they were in the privacy of his tent. Adimar entered the space followed by Rhuarc and did his best to hurry forward and pick up some of his books and parchment, so Rhuarc wouldn’t have to step on them. Meanwhile he asked Adimar to recall his conversation with Vega. Adimar sighed, his arm full of scrolls and books, the other reached up to scratch at his scalp, dark strands of hair falling over his shoulder.
[#20b2aa “I told you everything she told me… our connection was broken before she could finish the warning…”] he closed his eyes thinking back to the words and began to utter them in verbatim of what he could remember. [#20b2aa “Vega said: Watch her closely, she will be vulnerable to attack. A force seeks to get close to her, if it’s left to dig its roots in her she will be taken by a darkness most foul. Uh… there was also a warning not to trust a friendly face… a friendly face…”] Adimar repeated as if realizing something. He dropped his scrolls and dove for a bag and pulled up a book on dark arts, his fingers turning the pages rapidly in search. [#20b2aa “So I cannot tell you more as to what Vega said to me, but I brought this book in the hopes that I might learn something about our enemies and perhaps counter their magic with my own. I remember briefly reading about something called “The Shadow”. I think this is what the Fade might be. From what I can gather, Malik would have had to split part of his soul, or sacrificed something in order to summon this demon for servitude. It’s incredibly powerful, if not more than Malik is, and as we’ve learned… Malik is a very powerful Mage. I think this is what he’s using to try and corrupt Aria, but there has to be something else… A conduit of some kind. It could be anything. A piece of jewelry, or even a person can act as a conduit. If they can see her, so can this shadow and in extension… possibly Malik.”] Adimar concluded. He frowned finding the page and opened it up to show Rhuarc the dark shadowed image, and it’s draw to a light source. The next image showed how the Shadow consumed the light and left everything a dark void. [#20b2aa “This is one of the books Aria is researching… and she has this page marked,”] He turned it to another page that showed Manipulation Magicks, and things the Shadow was capable of, as well as ways to destroy it and it’s connections to the living world. [#20b2aa “Aria thinks this, Fade isn’t a puppet of Malik, that it may have started that way, but Malik has become the puppet… Aria’s done a lot of research with me. She doesn’t always explain what she’s looking for, but I have had talks with her about her astral projections, and her connection to Azera and Malik, past life experiences as a reincarnation, and the sort… that’s in this book,”] He withdrew a second book and showed it to Rhuarc. It looked more like an old journal than it did a book, and it was… the journal of the last great Volshi Mage… Volshi himself.
Adimar suddenly frowned as he studied Rhuarc. He didn’t imagine the man could read Volshi text. [#20b2aa “Every time I’ve sensed a dark presence around Aria… one of Malik’s goons hasn’t been far away… right?”] he asked for verification, when he got the best he would be getting Adimar dared a peak outside his tent, and saw they were entirely alone. [#20b2aa “Vega’s warning about the friendly face… I think I know some possible culprits. The Cabin Boy, the small Jai? He was in the room when Aria suddenly went cold. It was strange. I sensed the power, but there was no true source, and yet I could have sworn I felt something coming from Aerick. He was watching her as if… amused by what was happening. I don’t know… maybe I’m reading too much into it. A Friendly face could also be Lady Stanos, but she’s been nothing but… a perfect hostess. I don’t see her as being the enemy. I just feel like ever since we have left Volshi… Aria’s been more tense than usual. More on edge… My last suggestion… is Balden. He wasn’t welcomed in Volshi’s temple though Carrick was, he’s been gone and abandoned the group these past six months. I don’t really care what his reasons were for leaving, or that he’s done all of this work with the resistance… I don’t know him, so I don’t trust him. I don’t even like for Lara to be with him. There’s something about those two boys that makes me… uncertain…”] Adimar wouldn’t admit most of his concern came from a sort of brotherly affection he had for Lara, an undefined protective emotion over her. The romance of Volshi and Fenlyk was one of the greatest love stories of Azeran Lore. He didn’t doubt some of his affection for Lara stemmed from his Guardian Spirit, but Adimar himself cared enough about her, he didn’t want to see her heart break from loss or betrayal. Adimar studied Rhurac closely for a moment and finally asked him; [#20b2aa “What do you think happened in there? Do you agree with me, that she was under attack? I suppose I should also ask... do you want me to attempt to make contact with Vega?”]
Rhuarc could see that not everyone in the room liked his plan, he knew that would be the case, it was not a conservative plan and people would die even if it worked perfectly. It was not that Rhuarc just wanted to fight for the sake of it, or even because he wanted to save his own kind, they were strong and used to the fight, the Jai could handle more war. He wanted to fight because he genuinely believed that in this moment that would help Fenlyk and the rest of the world best. As soon as Aria and Lara raised their objections and came up with a counter proposal Rhuarc simply nodded in acceptance, it was not his place to fight for a plan that noone else agreed in. The Priestess had made her choice and as her General it was his duty to make sure that that plan was successful. Everything seemed straightforward enough, Adimar and his men were more than capable at dealing with the armoury and even while pregnant Saraya was a capabale leader and formidable magical presence while Rhuarc would be in the fiercest fighting. He would not have it another way. It was also advantageous that Luther would be grouped with Rhuarc, the Jai wanted to keep a close watch on the Watcher, after all he still did not trust the man but he worried about Aria leaving Carrick behind. He had no doubts about Lara's ability or determination to protect Aria but Carrick was Captain of the Holy Guard, his place was with her. If Rhuarc had been in Carrick's position he would have felt dishonoured by not bringing him with her. He would raise the issue with the Priestess later. As it happened Jeremiah raised that exact same point with her and her steely gaze held a clear answer.
With a clear plan in mind, the logistics could be worked out and Rhuarc could see much of his time in the coming days and nights being consumed by military planning, but he was prepared for that, he was General after all. The meeting was interrupted by the returning of Thad and Rupert but
by the grim set to their faces Rhuarc knew the news would be bad before either of them opened their mouths. Unfortunately they proved him right; the Medici was dead...and so was Ayab. The Jai were not a sentimental people, what happened happened and once it had there was nothing that could change it. His friend would die but he had bigger problems, he had a war to fight and he knew that is exactly what Ayab would wish him to focus on, likely Ayab would want to be fighting if he was able. [b "I will take those reports Balden."] The information they detailed would dictate the timeframe of how to plan this battle, they could not wait but acting immediately would be a disaster, and likely worse for everyone if they acted too late. It was a fine line that they were treading right now. The mood in the room was tense with the recent news of the Medici's demise and Malik's actions against the women and children of Fenlyk but there was more the consternation on Aria's face than the simple actions of an abomination like the False King. [i "“I can sense powerful magic around her. It’s... not her’s...”] Adimar's words brought the memory of a conversation that Aria and Rhuarc had shared in Kil'heed...Malik must be invading her mind right now. The stress of the mental incursion was clearly taking it's toll as she snapped that they all had their orders and fled from the meeting room, quickly followed by Lara instructing them not to follow. It took all the willpower that Rhuarc had not to run after Aria, he knew what was going on but in her absence he had to take charge of planning the attack, that was his duty as General and he would do his duty above all else, even if it tore his heart apart to do so.
An unwelcome thought came into Rhuarc's mind, if Malik had gained access to Aria's mind, did he know their plan? If he did everything would fail, Fenlyk would have no chance of being free once again and many would die, possibly even a Guardian or Aria herself. Should they change the plan and not tell Aria? No. Rhuarc would trust her for now, he would need to speak with the Priestess and once he heard what had happened from her own lips then he would make that decision. [b "This meeting has run its course for now. We shall reconvene later tonight. Jeremiah I want your network of spies set up as quickly as possible."] The meeting had ended but Rharc was not done yet. [b "Adimar, a word."] Rhuarc took the Volshi Guardian back to his tent, where they could converse privately. After their last conversation about Vega Rhuarc had assumed that the evil that followed Aria would be the Fade but could it be Malik himself? [b "Tell me again what Vega the Seer told you. Think hard, I need to know exactly. It could be...important to the Priestess."] Rhuarc stopped himself from revealing that he knew Malik had a connection to Aria, that was not his secret to tell and she would reveal what she wanted to in due course. Until then he needed to know exactly what Vega had said, it might reveal a clue as to what Malik wanted or how he was able to pry into the Priestess' mind. Once Lara had hopefully calmed Aria down and came back from wherever it was that the two of them had gone, Rhuarc would have to find a moment with Aria and talk about what her connection to Malik meant.
All posts are either in parody or to be taken as literature. This is a roleplay site. Sexual content is forbidden.