[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.
After Carrick left to find Adimar, Saraya was in the care if Corbin and the nurses, all of which, continued to pick and prod at her belly. Saraya was wincing, tears hot on her cheeks as she felt the pain. Corbin had knelt to her and cradled her head as he wiped the sweat from her brow.
Saraya's head was reeling. Her breaths were narrow, her sight was blurring... [i This can't be it... I can't be out now]
Saraya shivered before looking into the battle.
To see Rhuarc fighting for his fallen friend was one thing, but to see Aria... Balden... Lara, she couldn't even help then. Balden had become the traitor, but she saw a small dark aura perched on the back of his neck. She hadn't noticed it before
She then saw the cabin boy. [i Father...]
[b [i He is controling Balden. Let them handle this, Saraya. You're not in good condition. You're in need of extreme care. Your baby is clinging to you and you need to choose your baby now. They will come]]
Saraya saw Carrick and as he locked eyes with hers, she reached, Corbin keeping himself where she could relax. Aria had saw her on the ship. She looked like she was hanging on by a thread before her consciousness was taken away.
Corbin had managed to patch up her arm and leg from the arrows, and looked out to the Guardians. He saw everyone finally board a ship. Balden and the cabin boy were knocked out and tied up. After they were secured below deck, everyone, except Rhuarc had ran to see about Saraya, who was passed out, with Corbin cradling her head. He replaced himself with Carrick before getting orders to get those ships off the docks.
After awhile, though, the ships docked outside the kingdom. The people of Fenlyk had declared victory as they helped everyone onto the sandy shore. Everyone was reunited, elated and in tears. The Priestess and the Guardians were last. Saraya was cradled down to Carrick by Corbin. He set her down on the sand and helped with getting their prisoners. Tied down to their feet, removed from all weapons, including rings, and gagged, they were set near Lady Stanos, who was speaking with Aria.
They were setting up camp. Tonight everyone rests... Tomorrow, the people reclaim Fenlyk.
Night had fallen. Corbin had grabbed some rations, after having his fill and made his way where Saraya was in hopes that she was awake.
Well... She was awake.
She was standing at the bank, watching the moon rise slowly. The air was soft, as if the land had finally taken a freeing breath. She suddenly turned to Corbin, sighing as she stared speaking slowly
[i "War has many ways of scarring even the strongest of warriors"] She said, looking out to the sea before letting out a chuckle. [i "But... Who i was compared to what i am now... Through my years of using my sword, coming home unscathed..."] she sighed hopelessly... [i "I never thought on how much it has scarred me"]
Corbin noticed that Carrick was approaching behind her, but motioned him to remain silent as she spoke. [i "I put myself in the way of threats because... Because, if i don't, they would be only a pile, where only the memory of their name exists. I intend to save and give retribution to those who live to see tomorrow... I dedicate my life to that image. I dedicate my life for THAT tomorrow. It is the only place that we truly belong... Where we all..."] she winced as she felt her belly... And as she did, she felt suddenly ready to pass out. [i "... Belong"]
Standing up at the side of the tree, as an attempt to gain some fresh air became a fight to breathe. She doubled over, holding her belly. She struggled through the wave, clenching thetrunk of the tree.
She found a way to sit down without causing anything from getting worse. She caught her wind and srarted breathing through her nose. Carrick and Corbin had aided, but Carrick assured Corbin that she would be alright and cinvinced him to go rest. Corbin agreed, leaving Carrick and Saraya on that bank. There, Carrick would make sure Saraya was tended to.
There, Carrick kept checking on her every moment throughout the night. Saraya's unconscious state had been looking worse and worse. The violent bruise on her belly was raging as her patched arm and leg twitched from time to time. When she awakens, he thought, he'd bathe her. For now, he was grateful she was still alive. Only problem is... He needed to speak with Caledon on knowing what to do. He should know, right?
Rhuarc couldn't believe what he was seeing, Ayab was dead, his closest friend in the world was lying on the ground with his throat torn out and it was that abomination that had done it. With all thoughts of Adimar's plan to stop the reinforcements on the ship he took off after the Fade with a bestial squall, rage surging through his body. In this moment if Malik's reinforcements killed everyone in Fenlyk but Rhuarc managed to take his revenge and kill the Fade he would consider that a worthy trade. As Rhuarc charged towards the monster that had killed his friend he felt an aura surround him, it was unfamiliar and if he was being honest not entirely comforting but it seemed to strengthen and protect him, so he didn't really care where the power was coming from. With a mighty swing of his sword he aimed to take the Fade's head off but the evil entity disappeared in front of him and emerged from another shadow to his right reaching out with a hand and trying to slice his throat with the razor sharp nails on his hand, thankfully whatever this aura was forced the monstrosity's attack to bounce off, and a strange look flittered over the monstrous, eyeless face before it was once again replaced by the usual horrible visage. The Fade picked up a flail from a fallen soldier and Rhuarc resumed his onslaught of attacks against the abomination that had taken his friend away from him.
The Fade didn't seem to care if Rhuarc hit with his attacks or not as when Rhuarc cut that unnaturally pale skin with his sword the cuts seemed to snap back into place immediately, only serving to increase Rhuarc's rage. What made matters worse was that while The Fade's touch couldn't penetrate the dark aura surrounding him, the blows with his flail could. Rhuarc had taken a nasty blow on his chest moments ago and he was sure he felt at least a few ribs break. If this battle continued there could only be one winner, it was inevitable. Luckily the whole battlefield was about to change in a number of ways. The first surprise was the arrival of Balden and the cabin boy, Rhuarc thought they were to fight with them but in a startling revelation it turned out that the cabin boy had been the Necromancer all along, and that Balden was a traitor. Rhuarc felt ashamed that it was his former student that was the familiar face that Vega warned them about, he was hurt and enraged by Balden's betrayal and if he hadn't already been engaged in a battle to the death with the Fade Rhuarc would have made Balden his enemy of choice but that task would need to be handled by someone else. With some evil arcane spell the Necromancer cast his spell and the soldiers that Rhuarc and the resistance fighters had worked so hard to slay took up arms against them once more. Including to Rhuarc's horror Ayab. The Fade took advantage of the Jai's distraction and hit him across the head with the flail, the world seemed to spin and only by sheer force of will, or perhaps rage, Rhuarc managed to remain conscious although he was knocked prone. As he lay in the ground, he felt rain start to fall as Adimar summoned a mighty storm to destroy those ships, thunder rumbled above as lightning split the sky and incinerated a ship, keeping Malik's forces from overrunning the docks. Rhuarc rolled over dodging a flail attack that was an attempt to finish him off and managed to scramble to his feet, his head throbbing in pain and blood freely pouring from the wound in his head, he must have looked terrible but that didn't matter, all that mattered was destroying the Fade.
The Jai Guardian lashed out wildly with his sword without any real expectation that it would hit the Fade, he just needed to put some distance between himself and the moster and catch his breath but the legions of undead were making it harder with every second. Rhuarc couldn't let Ayab's corpse suffer this disgraceful fate, it was inhuman. Rhuarc focused and called upon his arcane abilities, he had listen to Adimar speak of the arcane many times in Kil'heed, how he allowed the power of Volshi to flow through him, how he surrendered to the power but the fires of Jai'hash were not like that at all. It was a raging torrent of power, like holding a rapidly flowing river with his bare hands. He couldn't submit tot hat power, it would burn the flesh from his skin and turn his bones to dust, he had to seize it and direct its fury. He did that now against the undead ayab. Flames sprung forth from Rhuarc's palm as he blasted Ayab and reduced his one time best friend to ash, it was what Ayab would have wanted, he wouldn't have been able to stand the thought of being this reanimated shell. As Ayab's body was reduced to dust Rhuarc heard a thud as Ayab's belt knife fell to the floor, Rhuarc quickly scooped it up and tucked it into his own belt in a fluid motion before resuming his attacks on the Fade, his sword now coated in flame. Hopefully that would have some impact upon the dark creature before him. As the rain pounded down and Rhuarc slashed his sword of flame across the Fade but unfortunately it didn't seem to be doing any more damage than anything else. The Fade was toying with him. Rhuarc could hear the thunder taking longer between each crash, each bolt of lightning seemingly less powerful, destroying these ships was taking a huge toll on Adimar and even Rhuarc knew that large scale displays of arcane ability like this couldn't last long.
Rhuarc took a chance and glanced around the battlefield, Lara was battling Balden and...was that Aria fighting the Necromancer with a word? When did she learn to use one of those? Rhuarc shifted his focus back onto the Fade, and the battle to survive. Rhuarc tried blasting the abomination with white hot flame and while it seemed to slow the monster it didn't harm it, even when combined with heavy swings from the midnight black blade. Rhuarc needed to do something, anything, or Ayab was not going to be the only one to fall to the Fade this day. The torrent of raging fire inside of him threatened to turn him to ash and as he cast his mind out for serpents, more in desperation than anything else, he felt a new sensation. He could sense a huge well of power coming from up in the sky, from where Adimar was directing his storm. Rhuarc wasn't entirely sure what happened next, he wasn't even sure that what he did was possible yet somehow he did it. Reaching out to the well of power that was in Adimar he seized it, like he would to channel his own powers of Jai'hash and somehow wrestled control of Adimar's magic away from the Volshi Guardian. Adimar was still expending all of the energy to maintain his spells but what he did with them was no longer up to him, that was Rhuarc's choice. Fury still burning within him Rhuarc lashed out with another blast of fire but this time it was coupled with a bolt of lightning that seemed to combine and strike the Fade in the chest. A horrible, inhuman shriek of pain sounded in the air as the Fade was finally wounded and it looked a bad one. The Fade clutched its chest, viscous black blood dripped from the monster and its body seemed to smoke from the impact. If Rhuarc could ever think that the Fade could feel panic he saw that now in its eyeless face. Taken aback by the wounding the Fade dived into a nearby shadow and fled the battlefield which was a lucky as Rhuarc simply could not hold onto Adimar's power for a second longer and released his grasp on the arcane power. It seemed that for now Rhuarc had won his battle against the Fade but things were not over yet. Aria, Lara, Balden and the Necromancer were still on the battlefield, he couldn't leave until they were safe. Bloodied, battered, bruised and exhausted Rhuarc took a few seconds to catch his breath, his left eye was swollen over thanks to the blow from the flail he had taken earlier, restricting his vision but even in his terrible state he knew he could not abandon his friends. Until everyone was on one of the ships he would stay out and fight to protect them. That was his duty.
The temple of Fenlyk’s Challenge would not be like Volshi’s. Aria found herself walking down a hallway of stone blue marble and gold inlay. Sconces made of coral decorated the walls creating a gentle glow of light by use of bioluminescent algae. Around her feet hermit crabs, other crawling crustaceans, and turtles wandered the floor. There must have been a path to the ocean from here. How that was possible, she didn’t know. Azera’s memories were fading, and Aria could feel the weight of the sword in her hand, as well as her muscles twitching from the use they were unaccustomed to. It meant figuring out Fenlyk’s test would mean no help from Azera. Volshi had wanted Aria to confront her fear, refuse her desire, and take a leap of faith.
Fenlyk would be different, she would test Aria in her own way. Aria came to the end of the hallway to see a door. The door had power, and Aria took a steady breath, uncertain of what she would find beyond the door. Slowly she opened the door and was blinded by a bright light. When it faded and died down Aria found herself in the center of an ancient Fenlyk Judicial Court. Of course, the Fenlyk people had created political procedures that were commonly accepted across the four provinces, if not used in their own ways and interpreted differently. By the looks of it Aria was on Trial. Seated ahead of her at the pulpit were several masked figures. The masks had no discernible markings or colors. Everyone in the room wore a bone white mask, there was no face, and no eyes, but Aria still felt eyes on her. They were watching her, judging her… weighing her soul.
[i “You come before this tribunal to answer for your crimes. What say you?”] The faceless judge in his dreary grey robes asked. To her side an entire section of benches were filled with a faceless jury, and they watched her with curiosity, even if Aria couldn’t see their expressions.
[+pink “My… crimes?”] She asked the pulpit and its seven judges.
[i “Oh yes, you are not so good as the world sees you… Priestess… if that’s what you are. So do you claim to be guilty?”]
[+pink “I claim nothing until I know the charges against me. I also know I am entitled to representation during a trial.”]
[i “Who do you choose for your defense?”] Aria had to ponder that. She tried to think of who best to use… but the only name she had came from an elder before the raids. He was long dead and no help- [i “The defense has chosen!”] The tribunal suddenly exclaimed slamming a gavel to create a sharp tone in the room. Aria was about to argue that she had not, but from behind her came a set of footsteps and Aria turned to see none other than the elder she had thought of.
He was a wide portly man, with a long white beard and long white hair. He stood rather tall, with an almost waddle as he walked. He was dressed in the clean white robes of an Elder Priest. On his chest was emblazoned the seal of Azera in gold embroidery. Aria was stunned to see such a ghost look so alive. He had been plucked right from her childhood and he smiled at her warmly, hands tucked in the sleeves of his robes.
[+gold “My little bird… How good it is to see you. I see you are in the thick of a Tribunal. What did you do little dove?”] Aria smiled at the sweet old man, who’s name was Elder Barringer, and shrugged. He stepped up to join her on the stand she was placed on. Surprisingly there was enough room for Aria and the portly old man. He turned to ask for the charges and the Tribunal offered them.
[i “Aria of House Tolshiv, has been charged with negligence of duty, failure to adhere to protocol, and willfully endangering a Guardian. This Tribunal will hear your defense, but we will not guarantee a pardon.”]
Aria looked to Barringer with nervousness and mostly confusion. She could swear she had done nothing wrong! Barringer’s ghost was understanding, and he placed a hand to her shoulder as if he were still living flesh and blood. Barringer asked for an explanation of the previous grievances, and as they broke them down, Aria felt a heavyweight begin to grow in her chest. She quickly realized this trial was against her own insecurities.
To the charge of Negligence, they cited that during the attack on the Holy Temple, Aria fled instead of fighting. They called her a coward for fleeing. That she should have died honorably defending the temple as that would have avoided all present charges. Now tombs and artifacts were lost forever. They blamed her for a loss of cultural wealth. It was a minor insecurity that often nagged at Aria, and she wasn’t about to let it get to her now.
When they explained the charges of failure to adhere to protocol, they cited that since she was no longer being tended to in a temple their logic made her the blame for the fall of belief in the guardians -who's power was derived by faith. She didn’t study enough and wasn’t properly equipped to guide and lead -so they called her an imposter. As to willfully endangering a guardian, they meant all of them. She had sent them into battle, and though it was War, they seemed to think she shouldn’t let them fight. Aria had to laugh at that and roll her eyes. Knowing that all of the Guardians were warriors at heart. Her, tell them to run and not fight? What was the point then? She was being blamed for being a child, unable to do anything, or stop what was happening. It was harsh to hear a tribunal of faceless judges telling her she should have died by Malik’s hands. They questioned her motives for now rebelling against Malik -why not sooner?
[+gold “I think we have heard enough of the charges-“] Barringer tried, but was stopped suddenly by the slamming of the gavel.
[i “That is not all this Tribunal wishes to levy against Aria of House Tolshiv. Your Captain has had relations with a Guardian, resulting in a dangerous pregnancy. You have done nothing about this severe infraction of protocol, short of allowing it. To further inappropriate relations, you have fraternized with a Guardian. A severe offense! You are to mentor, to guide them to their purpose, not befriend, not romanticize, not join them! You are not Azera, stop thinking you can be.”]
Those words hurt, and at her sides, Aria’s hands fisted tightly together. They asked her again what she had to say for herself. How could she explain such things? Those blank faces stared back expectantly, and while her insecurities did eat at her… they wouldn’t stop her. She glared back at the tribunal, fire in her eyes and spoke with passion and confidence.
[+pink “What you see of me is different than what others see. I may never understand why they look to me to lead them, but they do. I know who I am, I know what I have to do, and I know I’m a longs ways off from being the perfect traditional Priestess. This is not the same world it once was, and a traditional priestess won’t get this job done. Perhaps its time for a new kind of Priestess. I could not protect the world before. Hundreds of men sacrificed their lives so that I could live so that one day I could fight… that fight is now, and the guardians you covet so dearly, I covet just as much -if not more. They are the closest thing to a family I have ever had, and I desperately need to return to them before it’s too late. You are only a reflection of my insecurities, and I won’t let you hold me back. I will do whatever it takes to restore The Four Provinces. I no longer fear death, I no longer doubt what it is I have to do, and after today I refuse to doubt myself-“]
The courtroom trembled and shook ominously. The battle was taking a turn above her, and Aria felt an anxious need to return to it… she couldn’t leave the temple now though, not after everything it took to get here. The judges looked up to the cracking ceiling and then back to Aria. The Judge raised their gavel and slammed it three times. The tones resonated in the chamber that began to quake and groan. Slowly one by one they faded away along with Barringer, and the room began to shake harder. Rubble began to fall down from above Aria, and suddenly she was the only figure in a broken room. The rushing noise was growing louder and louder under the walls burst in and Aria was swept into a rushing current of water.
The water was icy cold and was rushing every which way. Aria who had never gone swimming a day in her life, began to choke on the water, her body sinking to the bottom and into a calm center of the rushing waters. Before her vision began to dim she saw the sight of a glowing fish. A massive golden koi speckled in vibrant reds and yellow swam around her, weaving under her arms, up and down until finally stopping to face off with her. Aria felt the last bubble of air leave her body, and her eyes slid closed. The Koi shimmered brightly and placed its lips against Aria’s forehead encasing her in the same golden glow. On Aria’s back, the Fenlyk totem glowed and faded away. She had unlocked Fenlyk’s temple!
Upside Lady Stanos paced nervously, now hearing the rush of water from under her feet. The Priestess had yet to return, and she could not follow. She was beginning to feel the temple shake, what was left of it seemed ready to crumble down into dust. Outside the roars of battle raged on, and now the sounds of cannon fire could be heard coming from the docks. Frightened and anxious she rushed back out to find Carrick and Max still in the thick of battle, holding off the dark soldiers from getting near the temple with other resistance fighters.
[+purple “Captain! I’m afraid something is wrong! The Priestess has yet to return and the temple is shaking. I think it’s going to collapse!”] Carrick swung his head around, drawing his bloody sword out of a man’s body, while Max did similarly, but instead drove his ax down, splitting a man’s helmet and skull.
[#000080 “You mean she’s still inside?!”] Carrick demanded over the sounds of battle. A nervous Lady Stanos nodded her head, but the ground suddenly lurched up and out. It split open in a spiderweb of cracks, creating a large hole, and people quickly rushed away from the caving Temple that began to fall into the ground. Lady Stanos screamed at the sight knowing the Priestess was still inside. A split second later it all came shooting straight up on a tower of water. It sprang forth like a geyser showering the crowd in water, and sending rubble flying. The water surged with power for a great long moment before it sputtered out and receded back underground, leaving a gaping hole where the Temple once stood and revealing the inner sanctum. The original Temple. There soaking wet and laying in the center of the hole and the exhumed temple laid Aria.
[+purple “Priestess!”] Lady Stanos shouted. Max and Carrick had rushed over to look, the resistance doing their best to hold off the enemy. They were all relieved to find Aria lift her head up and wave a tired hand.
[+pink “I’m alright!”] she called, and they were further relieved to find a smile on her face. [+pink “I learned a new trick!”] They watched in amazement as she pooled the water under her and used it to lift her up from the floor of the temple and out of the hole. The moment her feet touched the ground, both Max and Carrick whisked her away from it.
[#000080 “You have got to stop scaring us like that,”] Carrick chided. Max said nothing, just grinned and handed her a new weapon.
[b “I think she’s a natural. You ready to get out of here?”] Max asked her. Aria gave a resolute nod of her head.
[+pink “Yes, the rendezvous is compromised… we can’t go that way. We’ll have to meet at the docks. Hopefully, we can sneak away from there. Let’s go!”] She rushed forward into the fray, eyes burning magenta, and wielding her sword with the skill of a veteran warrior.
Adimar was pleased to hear them all agree that something needed to be done and soon, and they were willing to use their Arcane abilities to do it. Lara was ready, and so was Rhuarc. They were spared enough of a lull in the battle to speak quickly, while fighters protected them.
[#20b2aa “Just to warn you both, this is going to take all I have. One of you might have to carry me, but I promise it will be worth it! Alright, I’m going to create a storm to sink their ships. Lara use your powers to guide the waves and tear their ships apart. Rhuarc, you’re going to feed fire into the cyclone that will burn their ships down. We’re going to throw everything we have at them.”]
Adimar was about to start his magic when he heard Saraya scream out. They all turned to see Ayab fall to his knees and finally the ground. Staring back at them was the dark visage from outside the gates of Kil’heed, the one that was hunting for Aria. He had nearly gotten her too. Adimar had never seen this dark creature, but Rhuarc and Saraya both clearly had. Adimar knew his plan was put on hold for now. Behind The Fade, both The Necromancer and Balden came walking forward. It was a shock to see that the Cabin boy was the Necromancer and that Balden had betrayed them all.
[b[+purple “I think it’s time for a proper introduction. I believe you all know The Fade, and his puppet, Balden. As for me? I am Rhys… I am the Necromancer, servant of Malik, and your doom!”]] He raised his hands, glowing like purple fire and the fallen corpses all over Astoria began to reanimate, coming to life in the same hellish purple gleam, raising their blades to fight again. Fallen dark soldier, or resistance fighter, it didn’t matter. They all rose up and turned on the resistance. Adimar was torn, but the ships still needed sinking, and now their cannons were breaking away as Saraya’s shield had failed.
[#20b2aa “Rhuarc! Don’t let The Fade get away! We don’t know if Aria made it yet or not, and that bastard killed Ayab!”] He suddenly forced his hands out from his chest, pushing a strong gust of wind the knocked dead and living back, and giving Rhuarc a clear path to The Fade. Lara wasn’t far behind him, moving to fight as well. Once that was done he turned on his toe and made a b-line for Saraya.
With Corbin’s help, they carried her to the docks and put her on one of the refugee ships that still remained. Saraya wasn’t having it, but he fathomed she was delirious with pain, and overextension of her energy. He ordered Corbin to stay with her and jumped from the railing of the ship and down to the docks and over to a set of rocks to the north of them. He had to sink those ships, any closer and his idea would risk the refugee ships. He tried to get as far from the battle as he could, finding a place that wasn’t swarming yet and turned towards the ocean and the fleet of dark ships approaching. His eyes fogged over into a milky white and the clouds thundered and gathered, growing dark while the waters began to suddenly toss from the change in pressure of the air. The storm gathered and grew, making lightning streak across the sky, and torrents of rain to fall in heavy sheets. He was building a cyclone, and he could feel the air beginning to spin around him, and eventually lifting him up into the air. Lightning struck one of the ships and it instantly caught aflame, while the others fought to stay level as waves began to rock them dangerously side to side.
It was in this moment that Aria, Carrick, and Max arrived at the docks, having fought their way to this point and being attacked by resurrected fallen in the process. Rhuarc was at blows with The Fade, and Lara was fighting, of all people, Balden. Adimar was nowhere to be seen but the sudden crack of thunder and darkening clouds told her Adimar was busy at work. Rain began to fall in heavy sheets and the wind picked up in strong gusts that arrows simply flew off to the side, or were sucked into the clouds. She couldn’t see Saraya either, and that worried her.
[+pink “Carrick, find Saraya and Adimar. Secure them! Max, you’re with me!”]
[b “AYE!”] they both shouted and Carrick ran into the fight alone, while Aria and Max made their way to the Necromancer and the circle of the dead that now surrounded Rhuarc and Lara as they fought The Fade and Balden.
Carrick came across Corbin first, The man was ashen-faced and on edge, and Saraya was out of sight. Carrick who was covered in mud and blood looked menacing as he grabbed the front of Corbin’s mail and jerked him forward. [#00080 “Boy, why the Hell aren’t you with Saraya?”] Corbin told him where she was and he hurried towards the ship, refugees were still getting loaded, and he found Saraya in what had become a makeshift infirmary, and nurses were swarming her, checking her belly and Carrick quickly made his way to her side. He hardly managed to breathe her name when he saw her, and simply reached out to grab her face and kissed her. She was alive and that was all that mattered. For now, she was secured and safe on this ship. Half of his task was done. He relished in Saraya’s kiss before breaking it and catching his breath. He felt bad being covered in people’s blood, and a healthy dose of mud and wet from the rain caused by Adimar’s storm. He, of course, got Saraya dirty, but at the same time, it didn’t seem to matter. [#000080 “Good, you’re safe. I have to go, I have to find Adimar. Rhuarc and Lara are facing the Fade and Balden. The Necromancer has to be stopped, but if I don’t find Adimar, he might get killed. This sort of magic will drain him just like you are. He’ll need someone. Aria is safe, I promise you, Max is with her. She sent me here. You won’t believe it, my love… but there’s no time. I must go. Corbin! Keep her safe, and don’t leave her side.”] he turned back to Saraya, stole a final kiss with the uttering of love and hurried off the ship to find Adimar.
Corbin had cradled Saraya for a few moments now. Saraya had been struggling to keep consciousness, but the shield was still up. It held far longer than he thought. Saraya had spent way past her limit of energy... He began to worry.
Suddenly, Saraya, arched out hus hold, gasping for air before doubling over next to him snd vomiting a lot of blood. Saraya, finally catching her breath, looked up as another cannon hit the shield, and she grunted to the collision, but it was quickly numbing. [i "Where..."]
"We're near the rendezvous. You need to get there-"
[i "They're not here"]
[i "I don't sense them. If they were dead, the smell would be spread out.... So they're not here..."]
Corbin looked around as Saraya began to catch her wind. Corbin... How can he be her son? Her Felliope hadn't lied in her dream... But, if what he said was true so far....
[i "Aria must've made it to the temple..."]
"Then you should be at the rendevous, My lady"
Careful to keep her safe, he lifted her and ran for the rendezvous. But, as he saw the opening, it seemed something was not right. "The rendezvous is compromised "
[i "They're at the docks! And..."]
Saraya could feel a dark energy, and it was approaching the docks with reinforcements.
[i "No... We have to hurry"]
"What's up there?"
[i "I shouldn't have to tell you... You can feel it, too, can't you?"]
After a few moments, Corbin began running, mindful of the Guardian that he carried in his arms. She was right. He COULD feel the dark energy and see it. How did she know this? Corbin kept his eye fixed on the dark aura that seemed to move rather quickly towards the threshold. Corbin made quick work on climbing the steap hill towards the docks' brudge towards the threshold. It seemed that this dark aura had claim his first victim of the battle. Corbin had made it, he had darted right to run towards the threshold to the docks. He saw Rhuarc... Adimar... Was that... The other Jai? Ayab? It caught him off guard a second before finding the dark aura targeting his second victim. Ayab wasn't going to make it... And, by him feeling her hand tighten it's grip on his armor, he could tell she saw the unavoidable. Ayab was about to be the break of the course.
They were at the threshold... The aura launched... Saraya was in tears already, and trying to reach her hand forward as it swallowed Ayab into its darkness, and the sound of flesh being torn apart, Saraya's body twitched as if something snapped in her... Silence... Ayab's body becomes limp... Falls... A face that shown his shock in defeat, a gaping wound was leaking blood from where he needed to breathe.
Saraya's scream in both shock and despair as the life in his eyes faded away had pierced the hearts of many, and Rhuarc's horror filled eyes in seeing his friend fall was destroying in itself. Corbin had stifled a gasp in shock from the horrid sight.
With her hand stretched, she dug her nails into the earth, grabbing an handful of earth when Corbin set her down. Tears were in her eyes, falling along her cheeks, down to her scarf. She felt rage, pain, guilt... No... Nothing... Fury... She looked up to the Necromancer as Corbin saw it's true face... He recognized him... But, that wasn't right. How can he recognize... The Fade was sneering at Rhuarc, who was still paralyzed from the horror. He was going to try to attack him! Ayab's blood was dripping from his maw, the crimson vivid by the eyes of darkness.
Inside Saraya, The panicked Sayan began to feel something ignite in her. Caledon had noticed his paused expression. [b [i Sayan?]]
[b You feel that?]
Caledon felt a slow draining on her energy... The shield was depleting rapidly. But, what Sayan was feeling was the exact opposite... Her rage... Her despair.. That fury. It was boosting her power again... Her arcane side was about to hurt her as soon as she stopped... If she could stop.
He could see that this fury was building. He began calling out to her, trying to divert her. [b Calm down! Your going to put yourself in danger!]
Caledon had picked up on his fears, and could feel the distress. Pain ripped through Saraya like a knife as she began to feel the heat of her anger. She was enraged, and judging by the look on Rhuarc's face, he was fighting within himself to shake out of horror and get back... Only, this was Ayab, not any other knight. And knowing him, his rage will know no bounds. Saraya's power was matching his, and Sayan knew the price for this.
Saraya's rage was overheating her body. She was shaking, but fury continued to burn in her eyes. Corbin began hearing her struggle to breathe.The shield was giving and she was burning up. Her eyes were fixated on The Fade. He suddenly had the realization... He had to stop her or else none of them would make it out!
He hugged her tightly as he tried to wake her up. "My Lady! My Lady Saraya!"
Saraya saw Rhuarc as he charged at The Fade! She extended her hand, coating his form in her dark aura, protecting him from the attack. She could try to harm The Fade herself, but she used that fury to strengthen her shield. She added a liitle more time as she tried to heave in.
Corbin saw the reinforcements and stood guard. He needed to keep her safe, or else Carrick would kill him. She is carrying his child after all. He saw Adimar stand guard with Corbin, taking down any enemy coming close. Saraya was losing momentum, and as she was losing consciousness, she could hear Sayan yell to calm. Saraya nodded as she gasped for more air. She could feel the growing distress in her belly as her anger slowly subsided. With the dark aura around Rhuarc, Sayan could control it while she recuperated. She felt Caledon hold her down as she allowed the last of her arcane power to calm. As soon as she breathed in, the most unfathomable pain she had ever felt took over. She gritted a scream, blood being coughed up all the same. Blood had covered her bottom lip and chin as she cried. The reinforcements had been held back by the knights as Adimar and Corbin tended to her. She had overextended her abilities, and stretched it too far. Her fragile body writhed around as the pain intensified.
Adimar cursed and yelled at Corbin to help him lift her and get her to the ships. She denied it, trying to get out of their hold, but neither men allowed her. She had overextended her abilities and it effected her to where she needed to stay still. She did what she could, and still put herself aside, even for the inevitable. Ayab... for someone like her, she probably knew the pain oh, too well. Ayab had given her his [i Toh], she wanted to keep them all safe... all the efforts she had done to save him... Just, this time... She was too late to save him. She had no choice but to save the others...
Adimar, once they had secured her onto the ship, handed her over to the nurses before he took off to aid Rhuarc.
All the while, as the nurses gathered supplies for her, Corbin cradled her, making sure she could breathe as the nurses felt around her belly to be sure she and the baby was ok. As soon as the nurses rubbed her belly, Saraya's pained shrieks sounded, and Corbin protectively drew his sword. "She's in serious condition! Do not hurt her!"
The nurses had helped her to her feet and led her away from the crowd as Corbin took off. They sat her up against the wood, and all while they tended to her, she was in tears... Crying, not from the pain, but from losing Ayab... Over and over again, she begged his forgiveness for not making it in time. She could only imagine Rhuarc's pain.
He had to find them! He had to get to Carrick and Aria! They had to stop The Fade!
Corbin used Saraya's energy line to find Carrick. Hopefully Aria was alright, and they could stop The Fade. Rhuarc, Luther, Lara and Adimar wasn't going to be able to stop it alone, and Saraya's shield was over Rhuarc, but even that won't last long in her condition. He had to do something before it had gotten any worse
The battle at the docks was intense and with the ships closing in with every moment it was only going to get worse, thankfully it seemed that Adimar and Saraya had done their jobs as people started to flood the docks and making their way onto the ships that Rhuarc, Lara, Luther and Ayab had managed to capture. A blast of ice cold wind knocked a few soldiers off balance and announced the Volshi Guardian's arrival to aid them in their fight. With Adimar watching Rhuarc's back the battle was immeasurably easier, it was practically child's play now that Rhuarc did not have to watch every soldier, he trusted Adimar to keep any threats from behind him just as he would do for Adimar. The rhythm of the battle was changing and going in the guardian's favour and despite Malik's men having the numerical advantage the skill and fervour of the Resistance and the Guardians was making up for that particular deficit. A loud blast exploded in the air as the canons on those encroaching ships fired and while Saraya was expending her energy on a shield that Rhuarc was incredibly grateful for, there was no way that she could possibly last against the sheer power of the canons for long. No one could.
Adimar echoed Rhuarc's thoughts and stated that he had an idea but he needed all of the arcane energy that they could muster. Rhuarc didn't have any better ideas and if Adimar thought that it could work then Rhuarc trusted his judgement, he was far more experienced with the Arcane than the Jai. [b "Whatever you need, I will give if I can. Do what you must Adimar, time is against us."] Rhuarc made a mental not e to try and increase the time he spend honing his arcane skills in the future, if he was stronger then he could rain fire down upon those ships and sink them before they could even come close to docking and unleash the soldiers that they were carrying upon the refugees.As it was he wouldn't be able to hit any of them with a fireball, they were simply too far away and it would take more energy that he could spare. Rhuarc would let Adimar take the lead with his arcane dealings and assist him if needed, until then he would kill as many soldiers as he could with the sword and hope that it would at least give Adimar more time to do whatever it was that he was planning. Rhuarc moved his sword in as many different forms that he could think of, he removed, heads, arms and legs from any enemy that came within range of the heavy black blade, he disemboweled and eviscerated his enemies with fury and it seemed that he was not the only one fighting with renewed vigour. Everyone from the trained soldiers of teh Resistance, to the peasants and ordinary folk who had joined the fight for their home seemed to have found a second wind. Rhuarc grabbed one man, a fisherman by the look of him, by the arm to ask what had happened, why was everyone in a frenzy all of a sudden?
[i "It's the High Priestess! She has come to save us from the King, she is here on the battlefield fighting with us! She..."] That was all Rhuarc could make out before the cacophony of the battle overtook what the man was saying and he went off in another direction to continue his fight. Rhuarc would be surprised if the man survived an hour. He was still trying to comprehend Aria on the battlefield, it was dangerous and he wanted to take off and seek her out to make sure she survived this fight but he had his duty to do first. he needed to hold this dock to let the refugees on the ships and stay near Adimar to help him with his arcane way of taking out Malik's reinforcements on those ships. Carrick had better stay by her side and keep her safe, if he didn't...there would be no power in all of creation that would save him from Rhuarc's wrath.
[right [pic http://i64.tinypic.com/s6kvnm.jpg]]
The Fade emerged from one of the many shadows in Astoria to find exactly as it had expected, the city was in chaos with pathetic peasants trying to fight against the forces of the King. It was laughable that they really thought that they could succeed. Balden had told them everything that they needed to know, being the Fade's pawn he had divulged their entire plan including where everyone would be and why. The Necromancer had made it clear that he was going after the Priestess which was fine with the Fade, it was going to the docks to finish what it had started at Kil'heed. Striding through the city the abomination killed any that got in its way but most fled at the mere sight of the horrifying visage that greeted them when they looked at what was meant to be a face. The Fade could see Malik's reinforcements approaching the docks, they would land soon enough and the extra soldiers that had been waiting to overwhelm the Guardians and the Resistance would be unleashed, crushing their enemies. One poor bastard actually mustered up the courage to attack the fade and thrust a sword through the monster's chest, right where the heart would be in a normal man. The Fade merely let out a cold, cruel laugh before taking a hand and snapping the man's neck without any effort.
Arriving at the docks the Fade could immediately see its targets. The Guardians were all here and that was dangerous, they all seemed focused on destroying the reinforcements, except for the Calddonian, she was maintaining a barrier to stop Malik's canons from ripping them to pieces. That left the Jai he had already wounded as a good target. The Fade could see that he was still fighting, an impressive feat given that he had been poisoned by the Fade's touch. It seemed that this brute had run out of arrows some time ago and was now fighting with axes in the thick of the battle. It was perfect. The Fade practically slithered through the battle towards Ayab and the abomination could practically taste his demise, it was delicious, this moment of anticipation before a kill was the closest thing the Fade could feel to joy and it was not about to waste this moment. Before Ayab could know the danger he was in, the Fade was upon him, a horrifying, jagged grin spread upon the eyeless pale face with rot oozing from the black spiderwebs that surrounded the toothy maw. Ayab did the only thing he could and brought both of his hand axes against this new foe although he know it would do no good. The pain in the Jai's legs was unbearable as the poison inside him felt the presence of the Fade and surged throughout the Jai's body. The axes struck the Fade but seemed to do no damage to the abomination. [#06b9ea "Your time has come, now you die."] Ayab tried again to attack the Fade, arms struggling with all the strength they could muster to fight off this foe but there was nothing to be done. The Fade used that fanged, horrifying mouth to rip out Ayab's throat and leave the man drowning in his own blood. He would die in seconds and there was nothing to be done about it. To the barbarian's credit even in these final moments before he was lost to the cold embrace of death he never let go off his weapon. With that Ayab was dead and the first true blow to the Priestess' inner circle had been dealt. The Fade looked up to see the Jai Guardian looking in horror at the murder of his dearest friend while the Fade merely laughed. Ayab's blood still dripping from its maw.
Aria, Carrick, and Max hurried through the city with Lady Stanos as their guide. Lady Stanos had met with them in the tunnels of camp after the Guardians had left, and showed the way to another path that led into the city. The Silo had gone off, shocking the city awake just in time for the Prison and the Armory. Everything was moving so quickly. Aria, with hood drawn up, watched as people came flooding out of their homes, soldiers came swarming the streets to maintain order. Not wanting to be caught, Lady Stanos led Aria, Carrick and Max through a series of alleyways and towards the city gate. It was open, and heavily guarded.
Aria crouched down to hide behind a building and took count of the guards with bows on the top battlements, and those on the ground armed with swords, axes, and maces.
[#000080 “Too many for us to take on. What was your plan to get by?”] Carrick asked looking to Aria. He wasn’t sure he liked that look in her eyes as she caught sight of a hooded and robed figure making his way through the portcullis.
[+pink “The Necromancer is here…”] She breathed. Beside her Carrick tensed, while Max just held his blade that much tighter, ready to fight.
[+purple “We should leave this place… if we are seen… you’ll never make the rendezvous, Priestess,”] Lady Stanos suggested. Aria gave her a look of understanding, but they could not simply turn around now. She sighed and looked back to the guards that came to greet the Necromancer, and she felt her stomach drop. They were fully prepared for their counter attack.
None of them were prepared for the next face they saw. Balden had walked into the space, removing his own tattered hood. While it’s form was not perfect, Aria could see the dark shadow that now hung over him -no longer hidden from her gaze. Balden had become tainted. HOW?! Shocked and confused Aria and the others watched in horror as Balden raised a hand and pointed a finger in their direction. The Necromancer turned to look and a grin formed on his face. He too revealed his face to be none other than the Cabin Boy from the airship.
[bold “We’ve been compromised. Move, NOW!”] Max ordered. He and Carrick both jumped up grabbing Aria by her arms and hoisting her to her feet. Lady Stanos was quick behind.
It was during this time, Aria was able to see how the battle had escalated across the city. Resistance fighters were still pouring in from the underground tunnels and fighting with civilians. Some weirded weapons, others had nothing more than the occasional pitchfork or hammer. She watched as the city began to catch fire, began to run blood through the streets, and the chaos of men fighting all around her. Max and Carrick kept her unscathed. Occasionally raising a blade to block and cut down an opponent before they would grab her once again and rush her to a hopeful hiding place.
Ahead, Lady Stanos shouted and pointed a head. There they saw Adimar’s men forging a path and moving Refugees along. They called for other civilians to follow and some began to. Before Aria could call to him, he was already off.
[bold “There has to be another way into the main temple,”] Max growled at Lady Stanos and held his blade tightly. [bold “If this is a ploy, I will end you.”] He warned, but a hand by Aria stayed him. For the moment they were hidden from the battle and hopefully the Necromancer.
[+purple “No ploy, I swear. I wasn’t anticipating the gate would be so heavily guarded, or that… Balden was a traitor.”] Aria’s face turned dark at that comment and she wondered if that was her fault.
There was no time to truly ponder on it, as an arrow from above came whizzing just past Aria’s face. It brushed against her slicing her cheek wide open to pour crimson blood down her cheek. Before another could hit, Max had raised his shield, and Carrick had done the same to shield Lady Stanos. Stunned Aria held her cheek and looked down at her blood covered hand. That was too close. Carrick and Max quickly moved Aria and Lady Stanos to cover. They were in the battle now, and seeing her own blood had triggered something in Aria. A switch had been turned inside her and the voice of Azera whispered in her mind.
-[i “You are me, and I am you… the warrior I was before… you can be as well… use my memories…”]-
Akin to a spell, Aria’s eyes slid closed, only to open the shade of a glowing and lethal Magenta. It burned like fire and she suddenly stood taller, prouder, more ferocious, and claimed Carrick’s spare sword for herself. She vaguely heard a shout of ‘NO’ behind her, but if they continued to run, they would all perish. Azera’s memories of combat and prowess took over. Guiding her with the muscle memory of a previous life. They were melded perfectly. Azera guiding Aria in a show of never seen battle strength, and Aria still aware of the battle, what she was doing, and still stunned by how natural it was coming to her.
A Group of soldiers came running around the corner, and Aria was there to greet them first. Her sword came up, gutting the first. She spun gracefully and blocked another hit before she struck another. Behind her Carrick and Max moved quickly to cover her, and help her charge through. Max swung his heavy axe up and down, while Carrick fought valiantly with his sword. Lady Stanos did her best with her staff following closely. They fought their way, until they reached the temple and there the gruesome thick of battle raged between Malik’s men and the resistance. Luckily for Aria she had unlocked one of the Temples, and therefore was able to use one ability from that Guardian. She came upon the courtyard to see the resistance outnumbered, but with a sweep of her hand, a gale burst of wind brushed them all off their feet and to the ground.
“The Priestess! She has come to fight with us!” Someone shouted, and a roar of shouts and cheers erupted from the people and the fought with more vigor -just as Max said they would. They took the moment to hurry right for the temple. Though it was a ruin now, Aria was able to get into the crumbling structure and marched right for a hallway and down a set of steps that groaned under her weight and left Carrick and Max to remain up top while Lady Stands followed her down.
[+purple “You restored the pools, that should mean the temple is healed yes?”] Lady Stanos asked following closely behind while the Azera posses Aria marched quickly through the halls.
[+pink “The pools revealed the truth, the pools allowed spirits to be at peace… Now I must prove to Fenlyk I am worthy of my title. When I have passed a test from every temple, I will be able to stand and fight alongside the Guardians. I will have the power to release a great beast upon Malik, and end this once and for all.”]
[+purple “What is this test you must pass?”] Lady Stanos was clearly concerned. They didn’t have much time. Aria did not answer her though and simply traveled into an inner sanctum of the temple that was still in tact. There on a dusty alter was a dead and dried coral pillow and atop it was note. Aria did not look around to take in the sights of the sanctum. It’s once white pristine walls, the ancient garlands of sweet grass and water lilies that once decorated or all the sea glass sculptures that once stood tall and proud.
Magenta eyes scanned the altar for a clue, when none was found Aria realized the altar was a decoy. She reached inside the altar until her hand vanished behind the pillow and gripped a handle. Giving it a firm tug, the altar gave way and she was able to enter. Aria walked into the darkness, and though Lady Stanos tried to follow, she was barred by an invisible barrier from following. Aria would face this test alone… while above her battle raged across Astoria.
After the initial blast, Adimar and his team rushed into the prisons. They had just cleared the first corridor when they heard the blast go off at the armory. Outside the city, bells had begun to go off ringing an alarm that the city was under attack. Around Adimar he heard the shouts and calls of battle, as he and his men pushed through the guards and finally broke towards the cells. Adimar evaluated his men before continuing on.
[#20b2aa “Alright, collect the guards' weapons, and keys. I want three men to take the east corridor, another three go west, and my team will go down the south corridor. Level by level people, and arm those that can wield a blade, begin to carry out the rest, and move to the docks!”]
They might have been a scrappy group of civilian fighters, but they had heart and determination. The teams split and moved through the prison like a plague. Adimar had yet to use his new bow or the arrows. Not quite trusting himself to use it in such a small space, besides he had his faithful sword of Volshi steel and it sliced through his enemies like a hot knife through butter. He crept along the halls with his three men and came to a stop when they heard the shouting of angry inmates who heard the explosion, and the replying shouts of angry guards telling them to silence. Adimar made his men hold, but he crept further forward. He moved around a doorway frame and peered further down the torchlit hall to see there were only three guards. Adimar would spare a life if he could, and they looked like men.
Sheathing his blade Adimar stepped out into the hall and caught the attention of the three guards. They called to him to drop his weapons and drew their own ready to charge at him. They never had the chance as Adimar moved his hands to collect and generate a large orb of wind, and fired it at them. It rushed down the hall at them, collecting and tossing them further down the hall until the sound of their armor smacking against the distant wall was heard. The fallen guards were left unconscious in a crumpled heap unable to stop Adimar or his men.
Of course with the wind, the lights were blown out, save for a lonely torch further behind him.
[#20b2aa “Grab that torch, let’s get these people out!”] He heard the jingle of keys and saw the growing light as the other man came to join him. Around him, inmates thanked him and gathered. Adimar almost couldn’t believe that so many people young and old had been imprisoned. [#20b2aa “Those of you that can carry a blade, do so and help us win back the city. The rest of you help those who can not get to the docks. Ships will be ready to take you south down the River Nine. GO!”] Adimar ordered. They scurried around him, collecting fallen guards weapons and armor. Others collecting the old, sick, or disabled and leading them outside to the docks.
His men knew their orders but Adimar needed to check on the other teams. Releasing inmates from a prison wasn’t always going to be a good idea. There were bound to be legitimate criminals inside, thankfully Adimar had no issue other than to dispose of a cowardly guard who was running away until he met Adimar. The fool had thought to charge him, but Adimar disposed of him with a quick flick of his sword. Blood spurting out from his chest to paint the dirty stone wall. No moment sooner did he see one of the groups coming running with their own released inmates. Team by team, they cleared out the poorly staffed prison and made their way back outside into the city. The armed inmates were helpful, and the more of Malik’s men that fell in their journey to the armory and docks, the more weapons were available.
He spared a look around and saw the entire city was a battlefield. Civilians, young boys, women were all fighting for their homes. Rising up from their beds unawares, but knowing what was happening. The Resistance had come. Now was the time to fight. Adimar could only hope that Rhuarc and Lara were holding the docks.
Impressively the two of them were holding off their own army of soldiers. Luckily for them, Adimar and the freed prisoners were there to help thin the herd. Coming up from behind caught Malik’s men off guard, and they were now forced to fight on two fronts against three guardians.
[b “We’ve got the weapons!”] Adimar heard a man shout. Saraya’s group had arrived, and he turned to see she was staring at something with lethal seriousness. He turned to look as well, and there on the horizon was a five-ship fleet, filled with shoulders, their banging drums and screeching horns heralding their imminent arrival. They were armed to the teeth as well, and that could not bode well for them. The ships would be destroyed as well as half the city. Adimar knew Malik was the sort of man that would destroy an entire city if it meant getting what he wanted.
Adimar could already see Saraya beginning to form a shield to protect them and the city. He didn’t know how long it would last so he knew he must act quick. He pushed and cut his way to the front of the fighting, making his way towards Lara and Rhurac. Both of them were surrounded, and Adimar pulled forth his power and called out his attack. His leg lashed out sending an icy blast of cold wind that knocked several of Malk’s soldiers over and creating a path to Rhuarc and reaching him just before a sneak attack could fall him. Adimar rushed in, and pressed his back to Rhuarc’s, his sword holding off another’s and Adimar didn’t think twice to parry the hit and go for the kill, by bringing his sword back up in a fluid stroke to cut the soldier hip to shoulder.
The battle was growing bloody, but Adimar was happy to be reunited with his fellow guardians. Before he could say a word to them, brainstorm or the like, the crack of cannon fire ruptured the air. Safely surrounded by resistance fighters, Adimar was able to take a moment and look to the ships. The cannon was blocked by Saraya’s shield, but he didn’t imagine it would hold long.
[#20b2aa “Saraya’s shield won’t last long. It’s got to be taking a lot of energy for her to shield this city. We have to find a way to stop those ships! I have an idea if you’re interested, but it will require all the Arcane energy we can spare. What do you say? Interested?”] As if to warn them they had little time, another cannon clashed with Saraya's shield and they could hear her cry out in pain. The only good thing so far was the refugees were able to get to the docks and begin boarding the ships. Which were quickly becoming ready to disembark. They wouldn't make it, no one would if those ships of Malik's arrived.
[Center [b [I Saraya]]]
She hadn't time to marvel over her adorned Caledonian armour. In fact, after orders were given, Saraya's dark side prevented her from listening to anything more. War was afoot. And two objectives came to mind... The Armory, and The Ambush. Carrick's caring nature was directed to Aria, just as she asked. She needed to focus and though she was with child, she had no other alternative. She couldn't stand by idly and let it happen. Corbin, she and her troupe had their orders.
Then... It began.
Saraya had ordered her men to watch for an opening. The armory was guarded, and she definitely could smell it. Two archers, A small amount of swordsmen... She needed to wait on the signal... The first whiff of blood in the air. As soon as a hint of human blood carried in the breeze, Saraya's body reacted without warning. She stepped from hiding, advancing towards the guards. [b "Saraya!"] Corbin exclaimed, but Saraya wouldn't halt.
The archers yelled halt when glimpsing the beauty before the swordsmen stood at the ready. They let loose their bows, but neither pierced her shield. With an evil smirk and vacant consciousness, she lifted her hand, and with swift motion, decapitated one, and pierced the other in the heart.
The swordsmen exclaimed witch as they surrounded her. She stayed ready, her bloodthirsty nature returning as death stared her in the face. Corbin quickly began to realize that Saraya was not herself. The innocent, nervous, caring character that was once the Caledonian Guardian was no more. Whatever that had happened in the tent between Carrick, Rhuarc and she quickly altered her. This merciless, almost demonic demeanor that was standing at the ready was not her!
Saraya had sliced the doors to the Armory in half, turning to the party with her. [i "Gather the weapons"] she said simply before her troupe ran to do what was ordered of them. Corbin looked to Saraya as her attention diverted from the armory to the horizon. The ship had come, with three others, armed with cannons.
Corbin was second to the spot the ambushing ships. She didn't move, however. Corbin looked back to the troupe. "Hurry! The ambush approaches!"
From within herself, Saraya could hear Caledon and Sayan telling their ideas of their plans to avoid the ambush. Saraya didn't like either. She couldn't run and hide. She's a Guardian. It's her duty to interfere.
Suddenly, Sayan yelled her name.
[b "Saraya, you can't overextend herself"] he began in a panic
[i "I can't sit idle"]
[b "You've done what was needed, Saraya! You need to get to safety!"]
[i "Father, if I don't do this, Aria and Lara's people will be vulnerable!"]
[i [b "Saraya, please!"]] Caledon intervened. [i [b "Don't do this! You must get to safety!"]]
Saraya looked up. [i "I can't, great grandfather! I must do this!"]
With that, she reached out to her side, and her bow had materialized into her hand. Corbin saw that she aimed up, pulled the string back as an arrow formed at the ready. With that, she released the arrow into the clouds. After a few seconds, a flash of light twinkled before lining began to form and expand.
Corbin ran towards her. "What has been done?!"
Saraya looked to him before looking back to the clouds [i "A shield"] Corbin didn't seem too excited about it. He took her hands and stared at her. "You should not be doing this, my lady! You'll harm yourself!"
[i "And leave the people to the cannons? I would not to be a Guardian "] she growled. Corbin saw that dark glint again. He looked out to the ships. "How long will it hold?"
[i "Long enough"]
A loud crack impregnated the sky. They released a cannon. Its aim was towards the hideout. But, it slapped against her shield and rolled down against it until it disappeared behind the wall.
Saraya looked to the troupe as they scurried to alert. There were more soldiers running towards them. An arrow had connected to her left shoulder. She let out a short yell with a growl, before her shoulder began to leak blood onto he Caledonian armor. That was the mistake that would cost them their lives.
Before the troupe could run and guard her, she pulled out the arrow, put it at the ready in her bow and returned fire. After, she released an array of arrows without warning. The troupe led by Corbin handled the swordsmen as Saraya finished off the waves of archers.
As she finished it off, another cannon hit the shield, and it hit harder than the last one and, somehow, Saraya could feel it against her back. She growled as she looked to the horizon again. Corbin, hearing the simultaneous bellow of pain with the collision of the cannon against the shield, quickly ran over to her. "You need to pull down the shield"
Saraya looked to him in shock. [i "No"] she yelled before another cannon hit the shield, and she screamed against the pain in her back. Corbin grabbed onto the umbalanced guardian as he saw more cannons being released and a band of enemies cornered the troupe and them.
Saraya's strength was beginning to wane. As the cannons slammed against the shield, adding agony to her spine, the enemies within the shield were forming. She grunted as she tried to stand against the pain, and as she tried to collect herself, an arrow of the enemy was released. Corbin tried with all his might to shield Saraya, but it still connected to her left leg, and another sliced at her right cheek.
The pain from the strike dropped Saraya to her knee. She saw Corbin look up to the shield before feeling another bit of pain in her back, and let out a scream. Corbin hugged onto her before looking to the weapons. [i "Get the weapons to the warriors!"]
At that moment, another cannon hit the shield, and Saraya screamed loudly, before the shield ripped and the cannon fell through. Corbin gasped as the cannon fell, and it was aimed for them.
Corbin couldn't dodge it! The only way he could help her was to shield her. "Mother, hold on!"
Saraya gasped... Mother?! Corbin called her mother!
Before the cannon could fall on her, a dark energy surrounded her. A blast of that energy stopped the cannon before a warrior's cry sounded. A swarm of wind and energy surrounded her, and with the cannon she stopped, she faced the ships, and used a blast to return the cannon, and used that same blast to land on the other three behind it, sinking them. Almost as abrupt as that loud blast from her body, she became limp.
Corbin gasped as she collapsed suddenly, and caught her. "Mother! Mother, are you alright?!"
Saraya shivered before looking up to the blurred version of Corbin. [i "Mother? I'm your..."]
As Corbin tried to lift her, something made her arch, and scream. Saraya had never felt anything so painful. Caledon and Sayan were yelling from within her in a panic and Corbin was scared to move her. "Don't move! You need to bear with me! I will get you to Aria"
[i "The... Fight..."]
"You're safe, mother... Just stay still. I will protect you..."
Saraya nodded as she lain still, and the troupe had successfully given the armies the weapons. Saraya needed to be somewhere safe, and Corbin had to get her to Aria.
Corbin had hurried to the rendezvous. Saraya had lost consciousness as he ran on. He made sure to get her to Aria and Carrick. She completed her task! But, she needed to re cooperate... The battle wasn't over yet!
The morning came in what seemed like no time at all and with it the battle against Malik would begin. The sun was still some time from rising yet there was still much do be done and final preparations to be made, the men had been split into their respective groups to go with Adimar and Saraya and fight in the streets of Astoria when it was time. Rhuarc oversaw what he could but it was almost time to be moving out of teh safe haven of the caves of the Resistance. Before they went Aria made a rousing speech, a call to purpose for every man and woman of the Resistance, to take back their home. Lara also spoke some words to her people, they were short as Rhuarc would expect, Lara had never been one for public speaking but it was exactly what the people of Fenlyk needed to hear. She was their Guardian and they took pride in her. Afterwards Aria made sure to come to the four Guardians and give them each a few final parting words and a hug before sending them on their way. Rhuarc was careful not to linger in his hug, he didn't want the other Guardians to know that there was anything more between Aria and himself than friendship but at her touch the fires of Jai'hash flooded his body giving him the strength and resolve to face what was coming for him. Rhuarc had the smallest team, consisting of only Lara, Rupert and Luther to help him fight in the docks, it would be bloody, dangerous work but if they took many more men then it would be much harder to reach the destination that they needed to. Waiting wit the rest of the Resistance men was Ayab and he approached Rhuarc. [+red "Saraya's magic is holding off the Fade's corruption for now but it will not last. Let me fight with you while I still have some strength."] The Jai Guardian considered his friend's request...it was exactly what he would ask had the positions be reversed. Ayab was no fool, he knew that with the Medici dead he had no chance and Saraya had given him the chance at a warrior's death. It would be cruel to deny him. The Friend in Rhuarc wanted to grant his request but he was also Aria's General and he needed to judge whether bringing Ayab would endanger their mission. Would one extra man make them more likely to be discovered? Perhaps. Would he be useful in the fighting? Certainly? In the end, Rhuarc knew what his answer was, what it was always going to be; [b "It would be an honour for you to join us."]
Time was against the group as they infiltrated Astoria, they only had a few hours to reach the docks before the first stage of the plan. Rhuarc was incredibly grateful that Lara was with them, if the group didn't have the Fenlyk Guardian then the plan might have fallen apart before it had even begun, her natural affinity for stealth and infiltration saved them on more than one occasion from being discovered and with ten minutes or so to spare they reached the docks. It was an intimidating sight. There were ships everywhere, and some of them were huge, it was a long way from the small boats that sometimes traversed the River Nine and to actually see the sea was magical. The five of them waited with baited breath for Adimar and Saraya to do their part. The loud boom announced to them that the plan had started and the reaction was instantaneous, guards all around the docks were looking around for the source of the explosion and it didn't take long from the smoke in the direction of the silo to figure out what was happening. A few men ran in the direction but not as many as Rhuarc needed, they were still terribly outnumbered but luckily fifteen minutes later the second explosion was set off and that was something the guards in the dock could not ignore. Saraya would be attacking the armoury and Adimar would be moving on the prisons, with more of the guards posted on the docks moving to help stop the attacks in the heart of the city it was time for the small group to make their move. [b "Ayab, target any bowmen they have on the ships first, if we will be exposed and if we don't deal with them we'll be pincushions."] The Jai replied with a nod before nocking an arrow and waiting for Rhuarc to give the order to attack. The Jai unsheathed his blade of heavy black midnight steel before running the blade along his arm, letting his bloodcoat the edges, an old Jai custom before a large battle. [b "Blade be true this day."] He muttered under his breath before he waded into battle.
Straight away Rhuarc knew that the group would do well to come out of this fight with their lives, and that it was a very good move to bring Ayab with them as it turned out that his arrows were invaluable at taking out other archers or threats that the melee fighters couldn't see while they were engaged with an enemy. Rhuarc barely had time to think, men were coming at them quickly and in numbers, it was all they could do to stop from being overwhelmed, he took one assailant's arm off with a upward swing before bringing his blade down and cleaving another's skull in twain. Luther covered him while he was exposed and Ruper covered Luther, the only way that they made it out of here alive was by working as a unit. Lara was incredible with her staff, breaking arms and legs with her strikes, dazing soldiers with blows to the head, either killing them or making them easy for one of the others to finish off. They were like a well oiled machine but even so it would not be enough. They needed to seize those ships and that would never happen if they focused on defence, they needed to move forward. [b "Split off, Lara with me! Luther, Ayab and Rupert, go right!"] He had fought Luther and so could personally vouch for the watcher's skill, sending the two mortal men seemed prudent, two Guardians should be equal to the task on the other side. Hopefully by splitting up they could seize more ships and divide Malik's forces coming from them. It was a gamble but a reasonable one to take.
The men coming for him and Lara seemed endless but still the two fought on, Rhuarc aimed a careful call of fire at a group of seven that thought to charge them and overwhelm the two guardians quickly. Rhuarc tried to limit his use of magic for a few reasons, chief among them was that he wanted to conserve his energy and using magic would tire him quickly, he also didn't want to risk accidentally setting any of the ships on fire. Both Aria and Lara had made it very clear that was not an option. He glanced over to one of the other ships where the three others were still fighting and making good progress to taking control of one of the smaller ships, a great success. Rhuarc stabbed one soldier through the chest, rending the armour he was wearing apart but didn't have enough time to retrieve the weapon before three more men were upon him, pouncing on his momentary position of weakness. With speed that could only have come from Jai'hash he drew his belt knife in a swift, fluid motion slit the throat of one man, stabbing another in the heart and snapping the third's neck with his bare hands. In the brief lull in the fight, he sheathed his knife and retrieved his precious sword. [b "They just keep coming, but it looks like we have managed to secure this ship, and Luther, Rupert and Ayab have another. This is going well. How are you holding up Lara?"] Rhuarc listened to hear what Lara said, to make sure that she was alright, she might be a Guardian and a capable fighter in her own right but the large Jai still felt responsible for her. The two ships they had would be useful but if the five of them could manage to seize a third then that should be more than enough to transport any number of people that were taken from the prison. [b "Let's take one more ship, we can do this!"] Taking a minute to catch his breath before heaving his sword once more and moving towards their last target ship, it seemed that Rupert, Ayab and Luther had been watching for they were assaulting it from the other side, Malik's soldiers would be caught between the two attacks but even so this ship was heavily guarded. Rhuarc fought desperately as a small group of men assaulted him, they didn't pose any real threat but they did distract him long enough for one of Malik's archers to put two arrows in him, one in his left shoulder and one in his gut. Rhuarc faltered for a moment as pain flooded his body, and likely that would have been the end of him if Lara hadn't been covering him, she took out the soldier about to pounce on Rhuarc by cracking his skull with her staff and Ayab stuck a few arrows in the soldier that initially shot him.
With a grunt of pain, Rhuarc pulled the two arrows out of his body, thanking Azera and all of the old Gods that the arrow heads weren't barbed before heating a few of his fingers and pressing them against the bleeding wounds, cauterising them. It was a makeshift solution but it would have to do for now. Rhuarc had no idea how long they had been fighting on the docks, capturing ships and slaying foes, his muscles were starting to tire due to the non stop nature of the fighting but it was always going to be this way...and there was still a long way to go. Taking the ships would mean nothing if they couldn't hold them long enough for the refugees to escape. Rhuarc was determined to see this through to the end, he would stand and fight until the last innocent refugee was on those ships and heading towards the River Nine...but he could see a problem. From his position on the ship he could see out on the water and what was making its way towards land. Soldiers, and entire fleet of reinforcements just waiting to take back the docks and with those numbers it wouldn't take them long. This must be the counter effort that Aria spoke of and the Jai Guardian could not help but wonder if the False King was on one of those ships himself. [b "Be ready everyone, it looks like this battle is a long way from over."]
Adimar felt rather bad about the way Aria had learned the truth of his communications with Vega. He and Lara decided to put the ring away in a safe place. He slipped it onto a chain and gave it to Lara to wear around her neck. She had discovered it in Luther’s possession, it was her task to keep it. Adimar knew they would be up early in the morning so he wasted no time and went to sleep. Not that it was easy to sleep. Adimar tossed and turned, too excited for the battle to truly fall asleep.
When the early hours of the morning came, Adimar was up and dressed in his fine Volshi armor, the leather strappings all a rich supple navy, and silver fastenings with opal inlay. He truly looked the part of the Prince he was, that many a woman swooned at the sight. He had even braided the top of his head into a mohawk with the woven black locks hanging like a cord of rope down his back and had shaved the sides, notching a luck rune into his shaved hair. It was a fierce look completed with dark blue face painting that streaked from ear to ear across his eyes. He stood surrounded with two of Aria’s guards sent to protect him, Thad and nearly ten resistance fighters that would be accompanying him. He sheathed his sword and equipped his new bow and arrows before checking for knives on his person and determined he was ready to head out. The others looked no different, even Rhuarc and Saraya were dressed for battle and respecting the traditions of their provinces. Saraya had Corbin and another guard to protect her as well as another ten resistance fighters to assist her in completing the mission. Rhuarc and Lara… had none but Rupert and Luther to help them, their mission requiring the most stealth. Fewer people meant easier to sneak in and hold the ships.
Adimar was ready to go, adrenaline was working its way through his system. He always got jitters before a battle. He felt he had an electric current running through his body, amplifying and electrifying his every cell. It left him overwrought with anticipation. He had heard Aria’s passionate speech and bid her a fond farewell and good fortune. He worried for her, but glancing to Saraya, he worried for her too. This could very well be her first and last mission for a while. He looked to Lara and Rhuarc and felt worried there as well. It was not a lack of faith in their abilities, but a knowledge in knowing how dangerous each of their tasks was. A Call was made by Jethro ordering everyone to start moving out and head to their positions.
[#b22222 “Remember. The grain silo detonates two hours from now, be in place before they detonate. A quarter hour later, the armory detonates. Lady Caledon’s team raids the armory. When the coast is clear, Voshi’s Squad, infiltrate the prison! Retrieve and escort prisoners to docks! Remaining squads take up positions as instructed by your commanders and attack upon militant movement. Do not allow the soldiers to send a raven!”] he hollered in the background reminding every one of their orders and of the plan. Adimar glanced back for a moment and then turned his attention back to his comrades.
[#20b2aa “Sounds like our cue to head out. You all be safe. See you at the rendezvous.”] he gave them a tip of his head, donned his dark sapphire cape and turned to leave with his team.
It took everyone well over an hour to get to their positions around the city. Lurking in shadows and some even hiding in plain sight, teams were dispatched and placed. Adimar and his men waited just outside the prison, across the way were the Armory which separated the Prison from the Barracks. The courtyard was deserted save for the few soldiers awake and keeping patrol. This concerned Adimar as his hawk flew circles over the city and the prison getting a feel of where everyone was. The Armory was heavily guarded with several stationed mindless soldiers and more patrolling in and out of the building. Saraya would certainly have her work cut out for her if nothing else she could blow the whole place sky high. His hawk soared over the docks and saw it wasn’t as guarded as the armory, but the tide was moving in and in the distance, Adimar could see a fleet of ships, blackened and crude moving out of a thick dark fog out in the sea. He cursed as there was no way to alert Rhuarc or Lara. He directed Hermes to seek refuge in a tree until Adimar could summon him later, but the prison was nearly empty and that concerned him because it meant things were laid out too easily. Vega’s warning had left him anticipating more, but gods willing they would move and be started before Malik’s men or his fleet of undead arrived.
Adimar looked to his two guards, and the fighters will him as they all waited in tense silence for the first detonation to go off.
It did so with a massive and thunderous BANG, that shook the city and sent many animals into a frenzy. People were rocked awake in their beds with fear, but the silo worked, many of Malik’s soldiers hurried over to try and stop the flames from destroying their food stores, and catch any rebel scum they could. That was Adimar’s cue, and his men crept forward to plant their own devices on a section of wall where the soldiers used as offices. They waited only a few minutes, and then set off their charges. The wall burst out in a hailstorm of brick and mortar, and Adimar drew his sword for battle….
Aria left Rhuarc’s tent in disquiet silence. His reasoning had been sound in keeping his secrets, but Aria felt more useless than ever. She was determined to do her part as well in the battle. The Harbinger may have been lost, but the battle was just beginning. Azera willing, Aria would have The Harbinger back by the end of the battle. Her greatest hope was they would rise victorious at the end, and relay a firm message to Malik that the people of Azeroth would not bow down to him. However, with the purification of The Harbinger completed that left Lara without a task. She made certain to inform Lara and Carrick that they would be trading places. Lara would now assist Rhuarc in liberating the ships and sending them south with the refugees. Carrick and Max would stay with Aria. She then proceeded to divide her guards up between Adimar and Saraya’s missions. With everyone aware of their orders, everyone retired to gather what few precious hours of sleep they could.
The camp was awake and frenzied before the sun ever rose. In the wee hours of the morning, resistance fighters were preparing with their teams to begin their missions. Several Fighters were going with Adimar to release prisoners, while more went with Saraya to plant the explosives and help her funnel weapons away to the underground. Many more would position themselves in the city, waiting to strike once the battle began. They would have Malik’s forces surrounded, and with the best hopes that they would complete the attack and flee before Malik’s forces arrived. That morning a messenger also rode north to notify the Volshi Airship to begin its return to the coast where the Guardians would reconvene and leave for Caledon. Aria was woken up by the hustle of the camp, and the noise of armored individuals running through the echoing tunnels. Aria, however, needed Max and Carrick for another reason…. One she had not told Rhuarc. She was to be bait.
Before they all moved out to their positions in the city, Aria caroused the Guardians and the fighters towards her in the main cavern where the teams were meeting and gearing up with their final preparations. Flanked by Carrick and Max as well as Lady Stanos and Jethro, if she was nervous Aria did not show it. She looked at them all, dressed in their battle garb and wearing fiercely determined expressions that she felt so small compared to them. She admired their strength and courage. She addressed her Guardians first. [#db7093 “We are about to lead these people into a dangerous situation. A situation I have ordered you all to carry out. This mission has to be a success, we have a very narrow margin for error, so we cannot afford mistakes. I am depending on the four of you, to ensure that we liberate as many people as we can. I want to make it very clear, my priority is to get as many refugees southbound on those ships as possible. If we can reclaim the city I will consider it an added bonus. I know you won’t let these people down.”] She gave them all a faint smile and then turned her attention towards the masses. She stepped forward to address them and the entire hall went silent with a whistle from Jethro.
Aria had to clear her throat, nervous as she had never spoken before a crowd before. Eyes peered back at her with curiosity and grasping for whatever hope she could give them. She knew she had to remind these people what they were fighting for, what would happen if they failed, and what could be accomplished if they were successful. She would rise with them and iron will and steadfast determination to face the enemy head-on.
[#db7093 “I will not lie to you… today is a momentous day, but it is also a day to remember one's own mortality. Some of you will die… Yet all of you will leave the world feeling a portentous sense of empowerment. Malik has forgotten he too bleeds as we do, and we shall remind him of it. That he and his regime are on borrowed time. This is your home! All of Azeroth will look to you after this day! Astoria is the pearl of the West and Malik has tainted this region long enough. He has invaded your homes, stolen your women, your children, your neighbors, and family. Fenlyk was once a Mecca of commerce, culture, and art. Those days can be yours again if we manage to drive out the scourge that has poisoned this land. Today we will create a wave that will ripple through the four provinces! It will shake the foundations in the mountains of Volshi, it will tremble the forests of Caledon, and it will herald a mighty roar from the cities along the River Nine. You will begin this war, and by the end of it, we will be united once more! Prosperous! AND FREE! We will drive Malik out, and he will rue the day he ever dared cross not just the people of Fenlyk, but of all Azeroth!”] A great cacophony of shouts echoed in the space, and Aria felt a tremble from the aura of confidence and determination coming from those before her. She let them holler and chant to their success and she bid them hush once more and motioned for Lara a chance to speak to her people.
The people hung to the words Lara spoke, and when finished Aria parted with a final comment. [#db7093 “You do not need us to inspire courage or bring you hope… You have given it to me, I will say. I see you all and the devotion to your province, to freedom. You bow to no one, today, and every day you are free men! Go, and herald the coming of the False King’s demise!”]
Another wave of shouting erupted in the room and Aria turned from the crowd to look at her guardians once more. She begged them all to be safe, worry in her eyes as she looked to each and every one of them. [#db7093 “Lara, stay close to Rhuarc and Rupert, I have all the confidence of the world in you. Adimar, be safe and protect the prisoners, do not exert yourself using magic. The same for you Saraya, please be careful. I know you will lead these men to victory. You are a tried and true shieldmaiden of Caledon. Rhuarc, I’ll be needing my General, so be sure to return to me, no hero business. I will be waiting for you all at the rendezvous point to make our way to Caledon.”] She informed them all, and she gifted them each a hug whispering ‘Good luck’ to the lot of them before she let Carrick and Max lead her away.
[#000080 “Are you sure this is a good idea?”] Carrick asked as they walked down the tunnels. Aria frowned after listening to him. [#000080 “It’s dangerous, you could get the three of us killed. If anything happens to you I have a feeling Rhuarc will raise me from the dead just to kill me himself.”]
[#db7093 “Then I suggest you don’t let anything happen to me… or rescue me if something does,”] she smirked. Max even smirked, and from his side, he handed Aria a knife, which she took and slipped into her pocket. Carrick blinked, shocked to see such a thing, but Aria held it confidently and even accepted a simple staff made of sturdy thick wood. Carrick frowned and stepped ahead to block their path.
[#000080 “No! I can’t let you do this. We are going to the rendezvous point and we are waiting for the others. That’s final.”] Aria glared at Carrick, angry he would try to stop her, but understanding why. He had to understand as well, why she couldn’t sit around and hide.
[#db7093 “I can’t ask these people to fight a war if I am not willing to fight in it myself.”] Carrick and Aria stared one another down until Max finally cleared his throat.
[b “If anyone cares to hear my opinion on this? Captain? Permission to speak plainly?”] Carrick gave a reluctant nod of his head, and Max reminded him that Aria was far more capable than her appearance let on. [b “If she wants to be a leader, she has to lead, not hide. If the people know she is fighting with them and for them… it will inspire them to fight with more vigor. Word will spread like wildfire and the False King will know, our Priestess is no pushover -that she’s coming for him. Not her army, not her guardians -Her. I support her to go I know it’s dangerous, she knows it too, but she has a warrior’s heart and I would not deny its thirst for justice.”] Carrick frowned, he couldn’t argue such an impassioned speech. He knew Aria would never forgive him either if he simply refused and took her to the rendezvous regardless of what she wanted.
[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."] Rhuarc had completely forgotten about what Lara had found in Luther's room when she had searched the ship. In truth so much had happened in the short space of time since they had been on the ship that finding the ring had been pushed out of his mind. 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.
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