[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 answering Lady Stanos' question, Lara continued to eat for some time. The food was delicious, and she was feeling somewhat ravenous.
Meanwhile, Lara listened to the conversation that Aria was having with others at the table. The conversation mostly consisted of Aria asking questions about Malik and the state of Fenlyck, and various people answering the questions.
The answers that Aria recieved led Aria to the conclusion that Malik would invade Caledon and the River Nine. This was a bad piece of news, for with this move Malik was looking to end the uprising once and for all.
And then someone else spoke up. This other was an old looking guy, everyone higher ranked in the resistance was old, and he was sitting in a wheelchair. That commanded a lot of respect, the guy not letting his useless legs stop him from his quest of freeing Fenlyck from Malik's grasp.
And then there was a short banter between him and Adimar. Adimar had warned the guy that the Volshi cities were hard to find, but the guy remarked back about how would Adimar would know.
Lara turned all of her attention on the evolving conversation. She could feel that this conversation was merely a buildup to some decision that would be made. First starting with Aria's questions, then the answers which led to Aria's conclusion, which had then led to the old guy speaking up, Adimar bursting in before being parried by the old guy, and what was next.
It was as if the water pressure was building up against a dam, and at some point there would be enough pressure for the damn to burst.
The first cracks in the dam appeared with Adimar's suggestion of testing out Malik's strenght. The first cracks expanded and new cracks began to form once Aria asked her question. Then the cracks began to interconnect with each other, the water beginning to slowly beat the dam.
And then the dam burst open with Aria's words of, [+pink "That we're coming for him..."] Lara noticed the slowly creeping smile on Aria's face. Now here was something to be proud of. They were not thinking defensively, they were now thinking offensively.
There was a flurry of activity as maps were brought and spread out, conversations started here and there, and Aria sent Carrick to retrieve Saraya.
Lara sat quiet, not offering a single word. She understood the general gist of what was being planned, but she had no idea how to help because thinking about such grand schemes was not one of her strenghts. Once all the schemes had been laid out into a final plan, then she'd be able to evaluate which part of the plan she would be able to do.
But until then, Lara would observe closely.
After Saraya had come, Saraya had also stayed silent. At first it had been to be caught up what had been discussed in her absence, but afterwards it was because Saraya was thinking. Lara noticed the glance that passed between Saraya and Rhuarc, but did not know what to make of it.
Saraya began to talk, and Lara's interest lapsed again. Once again it was about theoretical courses of action that could be used to disprupt Malik.
But then Saraya began to talk about something which perked Lara's interest very fast. Sneaking, stealing, disguising, and pick pocketing. Lara knew how to do the first three very well, and she felt confident enough to know how to pick pocket.
Saraya stepped by sitting down and eating, allowing anyone to comment on her plan.
The first person to comment was Rhuarc. He was of the opinion that Saraya's plan had merit, but it wasn't as strong a message as Rhuarc wanted to send to Malik.
Rhuarcs idea of a stronger message was two-fold.
First part would consist of an arsenal raid, taking away the weapons Malik was storing by either taking them for the Resistance or destroying them in the case it was ipossible to bring the captured weapons back to the Resistance. This part of the plan was extremely acceptable.
But what Lara heard next, she liked not a single thing about the next part. Part two of Rhuarc's plan was burning the ships in the harbor. This part of the plan Lara condoned to the watery depths. Fenlyck's livelihood depended on ships, and Rhuarc wanted to rip that livelihood out from under the Fenlyck's feet.
As soon as Rhuarc had finishes talking with a confident statement, Lara shot up. [+purple "Burn the ships, burn the ships you say? You say this as if you were strolling through a city and enjoying the views."] Lara had said this with complete venom, pouring all her built up hatred into these words.
Then for a few seconds Lara was silent, eyes closed as she tuned her angerness down several notches.
Opening her eyes, she looked at Rhuarc and did not take her eyes off him. [+purple "Fenlyck's livelihood depends on ships. Ships cannot simply be rebuilt, it takes time to build up a fleet of ships.What you propose is to screw this country, my country over by wrecking its economy."]
Then turning slightly away from Rhuarc, [+purple "And even if you did only plan on burning the warships, that is also unacceptable."]
Lara turned to face Rhuarc once more, looking him up and down before staring him into the eyes again. [+purple "For one, what ships will protect all our merchant shipping? Our merchant fleet will be left wide open to be ravaged by all sorts of things. Secondly, we can utilize the fleet against Malik. Think about it, we would have ships patrolling the River Nine, which will limit what Malik can do. Not only that, it enables fast communication between Fenlyck, Caledon, and the Jai, meaning we can quickly get information over fast enough to act on it."]
Lara sat down, letting out a huff. [+purple "THAT, is what I have to say concerning this plan of yours."]
Ayab was confused at what Saraya was doing, she took a vial that she called "The Sea's tears" and then let a single drop fall into the horrible, mutilated, rotting wound before it was quickly followed by a drop of Saraya's own blood. Pain flared in Ayab's leg, burning, glorious pain that felt as if his leg was on fire. It was a searing pain as if the sun itself was searing the wound in his leg, purging the dark rot from the limb and then it was all over in an instant. Ayab's breathing was heavy even though no time had passed the searing pain felt like it had going on for hours but thankfully it had passed. Ayab looked down at his leg an while he could tell that some of the corruption had been removed it was still there. Just seeing the corruption lessened seemed like a miracle to the simple Jai but he could see that whatever Saraya had done was merely a temporary measure. Even now the corruption was once again starting to spread through his leg, trying to reclaim the flesh that it had just been expelled from, although the process had slowed considerably it had not been stopped. Whatever Saraya had done had bought him time, he might now weeks, perhaps even months left to live instead of the days or hours that he thought was likely to survive at the start of the day. He had received a temporary stay of execution and he would not waste it. The headsman had his axe raised in the air above him instead of already being partway through his neck. It was a rare gift that he had been given. [+red "Saraya, thank you for this. I will not forget it. I have [i Toh] to you."] As Carrick arrived Ayab assured Carrick that he had everything here that he needed and that he and Saraya should got to the Priestess. Father Penzone gave him some food and water before helping Ayab with the request that he made next. With the aid of the staff that he had brought with him to Fenlyck and his bow and a quiver slung over his back Father Penzone took him to where the few proper military personnel the resistance had slept and trained. Ayab would spend his new energy teaching and training them how to be better soldiers and efficient killers. He might not be able to fight against Malik in the time to come but he would be sure that at least some small part of him was represented and if it was only his training to these men then that would be enough.
The planning for how to reclaim Fenlyk had begun and as they were joined by Lady Stanos' second, Jeremiah, they could truly begin. Aria remarked that Malik would likely use the River Nine to invade the Jai Lands and wipe Caledon out before moving on to Volshi. It was an obvious tactic but that did not mean that it was any less effective. Adimar's remark about Malik having to find the hidden cities first was not exactly true. Jeremiah raised a valid point; the False King was an Ancient he may already know where those hidden cities were located but to Rhuarc an even more obvious problem could be seen. [b "Adimar you underestimate Shade-stealer's cruelty. He won't care if you hide in your cities. He will invade your country burn your land and then salt the earth so that no crop can grow and no game can survive. Sooner or later the food in your cities will run out and all of Volshi will starve while Malik watches. The man with a noose around his neck may die slower than the man with a sword in his gut but they are both dead men. Whether you hide or not is irrelevant if Volshi stands alone."] The Jai was relieved to hear Adimar and Aria agree that they needed to send a message, to make a stand and finally stop being passive in this conflict. The world needed to know that the Priestess and the Guardians were ready to make a stand.
[b "I appreciate the thought you have given your plan Saraya, although I fear it is too small a measure. Disrupting trade and supplying misinformation will not be enough to win this war. We must take bold action if Fenlyk is to escape Shade-stealer's clutches."] The maps that the Resistance had already were detailed and relatively up to date, the information that Balden and the scouts brought back would enhance their knowledge but what they had now was more than enough to start planning an assault. The Jai in his homeland had fought successful battles against Malik with far less information at their disposal. [b "I agree with Adimar, we must send a message and it must be one that makes him take note. I believe that there is little point in hiding that it was us that was behind these attacks by replacing messages. We want to inspire the people, not hide in the shadows."] Rhuarc studied the maps quickly again, he had a plan in mind and if it was pulled off, it would be a devestating blow against the False King. Military matters were Rhuarc's greatest strength, he had lived war all his life and it was he who Aria had named General precisely because of that. He pointed to a large cluster of buildings on the map. [b "If these maps are to be believed then these warehouses here are where the False King is storing the weapons for the bulk of his army in Fenlyk, I suggest we attack it, seize the weapons for the resistance if we can, destroy them if we cannot. While at the same time..."] Rhuarc moved his finger to another area on the other side of the city, [b "...A second group moves here against the slaves that Shade-stealer's army in Fenlyk has taken. Free the slaves, depriving of men to use in his army, and labour to build up fortifications. Both of these on their own would be admiral endeavours and while they would weaken him greatly they are merely diversions from our true goal."]
Rhuarc moved his hand one last time and pointed to the docksin Astoria, where Malik's fleet was anchored and which would normally be far too heavily guarded to even consider attacking. [b "We move against his ships. By causing two distraction on opposite ends of the city we draw out his forces from the docks and split them into smaller groups seeking to retrieve what we are taking. That leaves a skeleton guard upon the docks which we can wipe out and burn as many ships as we can, depriving him not only of a quick way to move his forces around the Land but also stopping his planned invasion of the River Nine and forcing him to rethink his entire strategy for conquering the remaining Provinces. There is also one more advantage to this plan. If everything goes well and the three attacks on the targets go well the city will be in chaos, Malik's forces will be scrambling around confused which will provide the Priestess with a perfect opportunity to sneak into the Fenlyk temple and to the purity pools unhindered."] Rhuarc knew that this was a bold plan, it was dangerous and would require perfect timing and coordination to pull off effectively but if it worked Malik would be struck a crushing blow. Seeing the False King deprived of weapons, slaves and his ships at the hands of the Priestess, Guardians and the resistance of Fenlyk might be enough to cause the people to rise up and claim Fenlyk for themselves. Rhuarc firmly believed that the Guardians, but more importantly the Priestess, needed to inspire the people. He respected Saraya and her plan had many strengths to it but it was not inspiring, it would not do what needed to be done. The truth of the matter was that Fenlyk was full of enemies and they simply didn't have time to play the long game, Aria needed to get to the Fenlyk temple quickly, after that she still had the temples in Caledon and Adbhu'Jai to reach.
[b "I say we begin this war in earnest. It's time to fight back."]
[center [b Saraya]]
When she felt a hand touch her, she knew instantly who is was. She turned her head to greet Carrick, but concern had riddled his face. She sighed. [I "I've done no serious harm, love. I just needed to help... "]
Carrick looked past her to the shaken Midwife, and sighed before chastising her. Saraya sighed. [I "I did... Just Ayab needed some help... "] after a moment, Carrick had let it go before requesting that she joined everyone for a meeting. As soon as she heard those words, her determination peaked before Carrick and she made haste, but not before he asked if Ayab would be alright.
Once she and Carrick had gotten there, everyone paused to greet her. She smiled before Aria asked if she was feeling better. [I "Yes. "] was all she could say before the meeting presumed.
Aria caught her up, but the method they were leaning towards was to attack the trading routes of the enemies. Saraya then further understood that the enemy's plan would be to attack the Jai territories before settling in Caledonia, as a way to thwart them before they could get to their destinations. Rhuarc and Saraya shared a glance a moment, and for a second... Saraya could've sworn she saw a glint of fear in his eyes... His people were still unattended, and Ayab is laying prostrate and helpless in his company. They would fight a glorious battle till the last Jai was defeated. Saraya also thought of Caledon. She knew her White Marble City was in ruins, but the people still lived there, attempting to pick up the pieces ever since that fateful day. They would be easy pickings if he grows that powerful.
Saraya looked to Aria. [I "Intercept the caravans would be a good idea... But, we also have to think like him, unfortunately... And I think I know a few ways to get Intel on him. "]
As she felt the Caledonian confidence blanket her, she felt an all too familiar feeling... Her Warrior side began to kick in. She looked at the map. She remembered seeing the same map before, and it was marked on which location the enemies were most likely inhabiting. The trading road for them was east of where they hid, and there was another line. [I "Any of you can tell me what this other line is for?"]
That line was a messenger path, and that made her plan even more complicated.
[I "To cut them off in the trading market holds two options: Either eliminate the Trader, and sabotage from the inside, or eliminate the trade altogether and watch them eliminate themselves. It's an easy task for anyone that got timing and discretion on their list of skills. We can either buy them off or subdue them in the night with our first option, the other, early evening with detouring the trader to our hideout without ever being seen. Either way, both had exceptions of discretion. "] she looked to everyone had conversed and weighed their opinions into the mix. After an understanding was made, Aria allowed her to continue.
[I "Now, that's the easy part... The harder part is through the messenger. "] she pointed to the discreet line, before sitting up and walking in a circle, a habit she picked up from voyages and battle. [I "The messenger will always create new routes if they find that the current one isn't safe, so I'm thinking an expert thief should follow specific rules. They only steal the papers, and replace them with falsified ones so not to raise alarm. We do this for incoming, and outgoing messages. If there are bird messengers, we will need the likeness, which would mean, each time they release the fowl, we capture them, and replace they're messages again with falsified ones. So, we will need experts in all departments. "]
She stopped again, and everyone had began conversing once more. This time, everyone was astonished that Saraya thought of possibilities immediately and with so much detail.
She turned to everyone and nodded. [I "So, what's the verdict? Are we scouting for an expert?"]
Aria and Adimar spokr amongst each other as Lady Stanos asked a question about her first option. Saraya looked to her and nodded. [I "We need a master of disguise, a thief, not a pickpocket. He should be capable of getting close without being detected, can get messages and locations and even eliminate them off this land without causing a battle. That way, we can put our guards up there, and can easily intercept messages because they would be delivering them to us on a silver platter, not knowing its us"] Rhuarc had spoken about it a moment, and Carrick even expressed his concerns about it.
From this, the only thing she could say was [I "I have understood that this is risky business. We all did the day we took on this mission. It's up to Aria"]
Saraya found a chair and sat, and idle conversations began when a young child delivered food for Saraya to eat. As the boy ran away, Saraya looked to everyone as she ate.
Breakfast was filled with lively conversation and eventually the people began to mill out to their daily tasks. Lady Stanos was smitten with Adimar’s flirtations, Rhuarc’s devotion to his culture and honor, and Lara’s candid nature. She also had an idea of where Lara might have come from, but she kept that to herself. She had yet to meet Saraya, but she hoped to remedy that by the end of the day. Aria commanded the bulk of the conversation with Lady Stanos’ people, all of them leaders of the resistance and answering all of her questions about Malik’s current movements, intelligence, and Fenlyk’s current occupied state, and resources. Aria was not a strategist, but her studies with Adimar had helped her learn a bit.
She had learned that Malik’s forces occupied the three major cities of Fenlyk. There was of course the port city of Astoria, which was the home of Fenlyk’s Temple and capital. It was also where the largest collection of Malik’s men were kept, as well as supplies, armaments, ships and slaves. They also had occupied two smaller cities, both further inland and closer to Central City. They had men patrolling all the major roads and trade routes, with several bastions located on the borders; and they were constantly in motion, flexing their power upon small villages, raiding, pillaging and kidnapping people for servitude. It was just as bad as Aria feared it was. Clearly they had been spending the past decade preparing, and now it seemed they were ready to move.
[#DB7093 “He plans to invade both Caledon and The River Nine.... He wants to put an end to the uprising once and for all.”] Aria muttered as the mess hall had cleared out leaving only Aria with her guardians, Lady Stanos, and the resistance leaders. Aria would have liked to simply converse about happier things, but she knew time was of the essence and she needed to know everything that was going on if she wanted to restore balance in Azeroth.
At her comment the Resistance Commander nodded his head. He was an aged man like Lady Stanos. He was pushing his sixties. His hair was all grey, and as Aria learned, also constrained to a wheel chair. His name was Jeremiah, Lady Stanos’ right hand.
“You picked that up quickly,” he commented and looked about the table. “That’s what we think he plans to do. Use the ships to invade the Jai Cities on the River Nine, and march his armies north into Caledon. All that would be left for him to dispose of would be the Volshi.”
[#20b2aa “He’d have to find our cities first…”] Adimar warned darkly from his seat. He’d joined in on the conversation some time ago. Jeremiah just smirked back, rather smug and asked:
“How do you know he doesn’t already know where they are? The man is an Ancient. Legend has it, Azera only managed to lock him in a void at the expense of her own life. I believe he’s more powerful now than he was before, and ten years is a long time for a man to build an army. He’s ready to move…. Because you are on the move.” He warned pointing a finger right at Aria. She steadied her breathing, to mask the heavy weight that felt was added to her by Jeremiah’s comment. “He’s been preparing for this for a long time now,” Jeremiah warned. Aria did her best to mask her true emotions, but truth was… the information frightened her. Would she have the power to dismantle Malik? He’d had years to prepare… Aria was just scrambling to gather followers.
Adimar could sense Aria’s stress and could see it on her features. The others might have seen masked indifference, but Adimar saw the flicker of her eyes when Jeremiah pointed to her just then.
[#20b2aa “Then let’s test him,”] Adimar suggested looking to Aria. She looked over towards him and attempted to read his expression. Cool and coy, with a rouge grin. She was frowning at him.
[#DB7093 “What are you suggesting?”] she asked, clearly unknowing of what Adimar was thinking.
[#20b2aa “We see how prepared he really is. In doing so we’ll be sending him a message-“]
[#DB7093 “That we’re coming for him...”] Aria whispered a slow grin gracing her face. She suddenly sat a little taller and suddenly the table became a congress of battle strategy. Maps were brought to them by kids that were used to run messages and errands through the tunnels all day, but before they went too far, Aria sent Carrick to bring Saraya to the table. She felt Saraya should be present as a Guardian and a member of their team.
Carrick had been in agreement with Aria’s thoughts on including Saraya. He wasn’t worried about leaving Aria behind, she was with Adimar, Lara, and Rhuarc, as well as the Resistance leaders and several other guards. He expected to find Saraya laying down in the infirmary, Corbin keeping a close eye on her. Alas, he was confronted by the very man informing him that Saraya was on a war path, and something to do with tears of the sea. Carrick frowned, but hurried towards the infirmary where Corbin said he last saw her going. Carrick was more concerned than anything else. He worried she might be hurt.
What he found was not at all what he thought he might find. Saraya was over Ayab’s wound and dropping just a single ruby droplet of blood. Carrick watched curiously from the doorway with Corbin and entered to hear her telling Ayab that the decay of his wound should slow down. Saraya had bought them time, but how she knew to do it… not even she knew. He reached for her shoulder, and held her steady, a look of love and concern painted his features. He looked past her towards the Midwife who was hesitant to approach Saraya again.
[#000080 “Did you even let the poor woman tend to you?”] Carrick chastised and looked down at Ayab, placing a hand to his shoulder and eyed the wound. [#000080 “You slowed down the decay… The Priestess will want to know about this. We can’t stay here, she requests you join her and the others in the Main Hall with the Resistance leaders. I think they’re planning an attack on Malik’s forces. She wants all the Guardian’s present. Ayab, friend let me know if there is anything we can bring you to make you more comfortable.”] Carrick told him, but at his comment Father Penzone walked forward holding a tray of food for Ayab, and assured them that Ayab was in good hands. Carrick had no doubt about that, but at Saraya’s understanding, he escorted her from the infirmary and back to the main hall to join the others.
The table continued to discuss Malik’s movements and what he had stationed where. Aria made a call to send scouts out to begin reconnaissance when Carrick and Saraya arrived with Corbin trailing behind and taking up his place with the other Guardsmen at the entrance of the main hall.
[#DB7093 “I want to know how many men he has in Astoria, their watch schedule, I want to know when they eat, when they sleep, when they train, what they say and what they do in their free time. I want everything. I want to know what they have stored here and plan to move or receive. I want intercepted messages. I want it all.”] Aria said firmly. Jeremiah, had a small hidden grin on his face, nodding his head to Aria’s commands.
“We have scouts out in Astoria today, your friend Balden is with them. They should be back by the evening.” Lady Stanos informed them. “Master Volshi and Master Jai’hash mentioned you would need to visit the temple, they are scouting to find the best and safest way to smuggle you and Master Fenlyk into the city.”
“We’ll send in another wave to collect the information you want, and coordinate an attack. For now, there’s plenty of trade routes we could sabotage to cut his supplies off to Central City.” Jeremiah suggested. Aria nodded, and glanced back to the chair moving beside her. Carrick had brought Saraya finally. She smiled and reached over to take her hand.
“Oh This must be Lady Saraya, Master Caledon. What an honor to meet you, Lady,” Lady Stanos greeted warmly. Aria looked to Saraya with a look of concern, but certainty that Saraya was strong enough to tackle anything.
[#DB7093 “Felling better? Good, We’re about to begin planning a series of attacks on Malik’s supply routes. I wanted all of the Guardians here to help. It’s time to start liberating the people of Fenlyk, it will also show the other provinces the time to fight back is coming. Failure in these missions is not an option. If we can’t win here… I don’t see how we can win anywhere.”]
[center [I [size25 ⛓⛓⛓⛓⛓⛓⛓⛓⛓⛓⛓⛓⛓]]]
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Corbin was assigned to guard Saraya while she rested in the infirmary... Corbin... He was getting used to the name. Though, he knew what his true name was... But, the only way that he could remember was at night. For what it was worth, Corbin was elated that he could protect Saraya... Because all he could think about since his mysterious beginning merely a few months back before The Guardians had decided to venture to Fenlyk, was a woman that basked in love, but also in tragedy... In his mind, he called himself... Felliope.
There was an odd feeling every time he was around her... He wanted her all to himself, but not for the reasons one would believe... He wanted to snatch her away, for some reason... He wanted to take her, claim her, control her... Feelings so profound that in his mind it became an obsession. He had only seen her a few times on the ship, and only twice in Kil'heed, but he felt an urge to take her from the Captain. Despite him being merely human, he sought the desire to ravage her, and make her forget him... He was human... Right?
Corbin always kept his face hidden from the nose down, to prevent anyone from recognizing him, even her. He will continue that. For now, he'll just bask in the thought that he was hers...
Saraya looked to Ayab, feeling the saxness and hearing the revelation that he may not even make it. It broke her heart. She looked to him before looking to the decay of his leg, and slowly began to sit up. [I "Don't say that, Ayab... Please... "] she begged as she turned, so to push herself to her knees. Ayab began to protest against her stubbornness, but she wouldn't hear it. [I "Don't you dare give in, Ayab... You are Jai. You are brothers to all of us. I may be important, but that doesn't mean your not"] she struggled to stand, but managed to plant her feet. She slowly walked to him and grabbed his hand. [I "Don't give in, Ayab. You have a purpose, just like the rest of us... I'll see to it that you find it"] she gripped his hand, and closed her eyes. [I Father... What is the source of this decay?] She asked him. Sayan was silent a moment, but came with [b His life hangs in the balance between Lara's victory and defeat. Her enemy gave him this decay... Only his demise will save him before the Medici can get to him]
Saraya opened her eyes and looked to Ayab. [I "You'll make it... I'm sure of it... I'll make sure of it... "] she said, the midwife walking in to see her standing.
She rushed to her, pleading to her to lay, and Saraya shrugged he from her hands. [I "Away from me"] she whispered, looking back to Ayab. The midwife demanded that she lay down, and Saraya turned and shoved her away, a bit harder than she thought she did. [I "I said away from me, Midwife. I need not your services"]
The midwife still persisted. Saraya growled, looking ahead with dilated eyes before turning to her. [I "Away from me!] This time, wind picked up and carried the midwife through the sheets of the infirmary to outside. Saraya gasped before looking over to Ayab. [I "I will return... "]
With that, as the nurses tended to the midwife, Saraya hurried through the sheets and to their tent. She rummaged through the trunk until she found a vial, before turning to find Corbin towering her. [B "My lady, Saraya... "] She stood before walking past. [I "I am up to no good, Corbin"] she insisted as she hurried away. Corbin hurried to find Carrick as she went back to the tent.
When asked what it was, she looked up to him. [I "The sea's tears... This should help slow the process down some"] she said before letting one drop splash onto his wound. It hurt, just a little, but after a few moments, his expression of agoby had slowly faded, and she sighed as she nicked her finger and let a drop of her blood drop into the wound, too. Another expression of agony, but the decay had stopped. She stared up to him. [I "This should slow it down"]
When asked how she had known to do it, Saraya shook her head. [I "I didn't. "]
If Rhuarc had said no, then it would not have been a surprise at all. But the length of silence began to feel awkward and a nit unbearable as it continued to drag on. At least to Lara it had felt as if each second of time had slowed down immensely to a slow crawl.
She kept looing up at Rhuarc, waiting for him to say at least something.
Lara was not surprised nor did she feel angriness at his answer, instead she accepted it calmly. Even though she had wanted to hear a yes, realistically she knew it would not be so.
But Rhuarc had some something curious, something about that he could not personally forgive the "Toh" of her people. This was some concept of the Jai culture which she knew she had no ken of, as with many other aspects of the Jai culture, and Rhuarc had been brought up in the Jai culture while she had not.
Lara sighed as Rhuarc looked around, it looked like he wasn't finished. This kneeling pose was getting to be a bit uncomfortable, and she hoped that whatever Rhuarc had to say would not be too long lest her leg fall asleep.
Lara smiled as Rhuarc spoke once more. At least the actions he had seen of her people had given him hope that her people could fight against Malik. And even though he had not forgiven her people, this had gone better than expected.
After managing to sit down with the rest, Lara could finally eat. The food tasted delicious, and it also felt as if some part of her remembered eating this food before. But Lara focused on the here and the now, for that was what mattered.
A short while later, Aria walked in. She appeared magnificent, and with Luther, Carrick, and a third guard made her appear even more magnificent. And as soon as Aria had entered, many of the people had begun to crowd around her, either asking a question or tried to touch her; Luther, Adimar, and the third guard had their work cut off for them as they tried to keep Aria from being overrun en masse. Aria meant something to the people, Aria meant the big pillar of hope upon which everyone's hopes, wishes, and dreams rested on. In a way, Aria was a vessel for all the wishes, dreams, and hopes, converting those into actions which freed the land of Malik's rule bit by bit.
Lady Stanos was the one who had managed to clear the way for Aria, by asking everyone to let Aria through. And just like that, there was a path for Aria and the others to walk to where everyone else sat.
After that, it quieted down to a question-and-answer session between Lady Stanos and Aria, Aria being the one who asked and Lady Stanos the one answering.
Now here was something of interest. Lady Stanos had wanted to fight Malik's forces from day one, but the rulers of Fenlyck had overruled her opinion just like that. It troubled Lara that the rulers of her land had simply let go of their country without a fight, especially since Malik was not one for keeping promises.
Lara kind of went into her own head after hearing that. It just felt wrong and awful that the rulers of her country had meekly submitted to someone who was not going to keep their promise. Only to understand this so many years after it happened, it just made her stomach twist into all sorts of knots.
[i [+purple How could they have done such a thing?]]
[i [+blue The answer to that question is not so straightforward.]]
[i [+purple What do you mean?"]]
[i [+blue As you heard Lady Stanos say, our people are not fighters. Well, at least not on land. Fighting on the sea would have been no problem. But the land is no sea, and Fenlyck never really needed an army. They could have called upon either the Caledons or the Jai, but they also felt afraid of the people. They really hoped they could escape the destruction and ravage of war by meekly bowing down by surrendering. But there was no such escape, for the ravage of war still swept through the land of Fenlyck. Rape, burning, plundering, torturing, and so many other horrible acts.]]
Lara sat in silence. On one hand, fighting Malik would have prevented him from ruling Fenlyck. On the other hand, a hope that the people would not have to suffer war and its effects. Or had there been something else affecting the decisions of the rulers?
And then she heard Lany Stanos speaking, asking her a few questions. Lara turned to face Lady Stanos, looking up and meeting eye-to-eye.
[+purple "I do not remember from what village I am."] Sighing, she continued, [+purple I met Aria in the sewers of the Central City after a voice, which revealed itself to be Fenlyck much later on, told me to go down to the sewers. And I've spoken with Fenlyck a few times after years of silence."]
The arrival of Lara changed the whole dynamic of the hall, meals stopped, conversations ended and eyes shifted until they rested on the Fenlyk Guardian. It was a natural reaction, the people were desperate to see the embodiment of their nation, the one person of their kind who could truly stand against Malik. It was a position of immense responsibility and Rhuarc wondered how one as young as Lara would bear such a burden and soon enough he got an insight into how her mind worked. She strode up to him and took a knee, Rhuarc raised an eyebrow curiously before he heard Lara's request. As she asked for his forgiveness for his people Rhuarc fought to keep his face unreadable, he remembered what Lara had been like when they had first met in Central City, her request showed wisdom beyond her years but her request was more complicated than she realised and as much as he wanted to, Rhuarc could not do as Lara asked. [b "Lara what you ask is not within my power. The dishonour of Fenlyk was not against me as a person, so I can not remove the [i Toh] of Fenlyk. I am sorry Lara, I know that is not what you wanted to hear."] Rhuarc paused for a moment and looked around the room, taking in the faces of the Fenlyk natives, all looking at Lara and himself. [b "Lara, I look around these caverns and I see people who are willing to risk everything to help our cause, who give shelter and supplies to us, who are doing what they should to stand against the False King. That is honourable. When we make our move for the Temple and the people finally rise up and strike against Shade-stealer then they will have paid the debt that they owe. I believe that they can do it."] Rhuarc could not force the people of Fenlyk to do the right thing and regain their honour, that was for them and them alone to do but Rhuarc had changed his opinion of them since meeting the resistance. He had always thought of the wetlanders of Fenlyk as weak and subservient for how they bowed to Malik while the other Provinces fought against his rule. The resistance showed him that not all of the people of this land were like that. There were some people that still knew what was right and were prepared to do what they must in order to change how their land governed.
Once Rhuarc had finished his conversation with Lara the room was once again subjected to another figure of great interest, in this case the High Priestess. She was flanked by her guards and it was a good job that she was as Aria was swarmed by refugees mostly wanting to get a word with the Holy figure or gain some sort of blessing. Aria was never in any real danger here, these people were friendly and her guards were more than capable in protecting her and moving the crowd along after a few words here and there. All the people really wanted was hope and that was exactly what Aria's presence gave them. Eventually once she had worked her way through most of the crowd Aria finally gained a chance to have some food and talk with Lady Stanos, the conversation ranged from the refugees and how Fenlyk fell to the temple and purity pools. While the Temple was sealed off at least the pools were intact, so that at least gave them a chance to achieve their goals. Lady Stanos was an excellent host taking an interest in all of the Guardians and speaking to each of them. [i "Master Jai’hash, it is so rare to see Jai North of the River Nine. What inspired you to leave your home? Fate must have determined you were to cross paths with her Holiness."] It was a simple answer really and one the Jai had no difficulty in answering. [b "Honour. I left the Wastelands because if we kept fighting the False King the way we were then we would fail. It is simple, our people bleed and die fighting against his armies but eventually we will fail. A respected Elder convinced Ayab and me to leave for Central City. It was there we found the Priestess. It was not fate that made me leave and it was not fate that made me follow the High Priestess. It was Honour."]
The cool air of the infirmary felt good against Ayab's skin, so often now he felt like he was burning up, he likely had a fever but it had probably broken since arriving in Fenlyk...even so he felt terribly weak. [+red "I am glad to hear that you are feeling better. I fear I am not so lucky."] Saraya's confidence in his strength was pleasant to hear even if Ayab himself did not believe it, maybe once he was strong enough to hold on and fight this disease until he could receive healing but not now. [+red "I don not think that I can. This injury will be the death of it, I can feel it in my bones, in my very soul. The Medici can not save me...not from this."] The Medici would be better served working on Saraya and easing her pregnancy, she was more valuable than him.
Lara’s water bending by the pools, left a magical impression on the space. When she left the area the water rippled towards her departure as if saddened she had gone. A quiet whisper shuttered the space and caused a part of the seal to come apart in a glow of clear blue light...
Back at the mess hall, Adimar could have laughed at how quickly he became ‘invisible’ the moment Lara arrived. Everyone wanted to see the Master of Fenlyk. Lady Stanos and the other Fenlyk Leaders eagerly watched and greeted Lara as she took a straight path to Rhuarc and of all things knelt before him. Adimar felt a sense of pride at seeing how far she’d grown as a person, but to see forgiveness for her people? That was a level of maturity he had not expected from her. He watched her exchange with Rhuarc curiously as did the entire hall, all straining to hear what Rhuarc would say. Once it was all said and done, her meal was brought to her quickly, and while the rest of the cave’s patrons resumed their meals, many stayed just to catch a glimpse of their Guardian -their Champion. It allowed him to finish his meal, but before he had a chance to partake in Max’s distractions, another joined the Main Hall.
A collective hush fell over the room when Aria entered the space. Carrick flanked her right, while another kept the left, followed by Luther. Their need became apparent as several people closest to them quickly stood up to crowd Aria. Adimar even stood up prepared to step in if needed, but most of them simply wanted to pay their respects. They reached out to touch her, pleading for blessings. Carrick and the guards made good work to keep Aria shielded and moving towards the main table. She reached out when she could get past Carrick to hold hands, offer a kind smile, and give her thanks for their gracious welcome. At her side Carrick requested the other refugees to kindly step aside so she could get something to eat.
Before she could though, people reached out to get her attention, and another, all of them full of questions.
“Priestess! Have you come to restore our temple?”
“Will you wage war on King Malik?”
“Is Fenlyk truly returned to us?”
“Is Central City, truly fallen?”
“Does King Malik have an army of the dead?”
“Why have you remained hidden for so long?”
“When will you destroy Malik?”
“Why haven’t you gone after Malik yet?!”
They were all good questions, but they came so rapidly at her, she had no time to respond. Thankfully Lady Stanos jumped to her feet and called attention to the people.
“Her Holiness will be available for a public forum to be held at a later time, please… let us not boggle her down with so much at once. She has traveled a long way to return Fenlyk back to her temple -back to us. We must welcome them, and offer them rest and respite from their quest. Please, High Priestess, join us for breakfast.” Lady Stanos offered. Aria looked up at her, but was confused by the notion of a public meeting. With a glance to Adimar she knew he’d made some sort of agreement on her behalf. She walked up to the table and took her seat at the center of the table. Lady Stanos sat to the left of her, positioning herself between Aria and Lara. The woman couldn’t possibly have looked happier. Carrick took the seat beside her across from Rhuarc and Adimar.
Aria’s eyes were still on the people eating their meals, and talking, with their gazes focused entirely on Lara and the other Guardians. The gossip was already at work as to the characters of the Guardians and the High Priestess.
[#DB7093 “Are all of the people here refugees?”] Aria asked moving to look the table over. Lady Stanos sighed and nodded her head.
“Most of them, yes. Some are family members of our Freedom Fighters, others help with the cause, the people in grey robes are former Temple Servants and Masters. It is most dangerous above ground. No one is safe, Priestess.” Aria perked at the opportunity to seek council and tutoring from a Temple Master. Since Elder Rigby, she’d had no one to help guide her. Had she never been expelled from the Main Temple in Central City, she would have traveled the provinces seeking tutelage from various other Temple Masters, and assorted Guru’s to the South, but she was on her own. Aria made a note to seek out a Temple Master and request their guidance when she had a moment.
Aria didn’t like the sound of danger either and gave Lady Stanos a serious look. [#DB7093 “Why did Fenlyk fall so easy? You were an elected official. Why didn’t you stop it?”] Aria demanded to know, but she held no ounce of an accusatory tone. Lady Stanos sighed heavily, a look of remorse filing her features.
“It was out of my control. I was overruled, and only an Ambassador. Malik’s forces came by boat from across the seas. We had no army to defend ourselves with. We are a society of scholars and artisans, not warriors. We have been forced to learn how to fight, because our leaders decided to bow down in hopes of sparing themselves. I publicly spoke out against it in the Senate. I begged the Senate to call on Caledon or Abdhu’Jai to come to our aid… but they would not. I was stripped of my position as Ambassador, and told if I would not comply I would be sent into exile… so I fled to the temple in Astoria with a group of followers. Malik and his men followed soon after, destroyed Astoria regardless of whatever deal they made with The Senate, and then burned down the Fenlyk Temple, and the Senate House. My people, and the Temple Masters escaped through the underground tunnels when the fires came… They opened up for us, as if Fenlyk herself was helping the first of the resistance get away. We’ve been down here ever since recruiting, building an armory, preserving what heritage and customs we have left, and waiting for you to lead us. Our leaders betrayed us. You were only a child and incapable of protecting us, and we lay no blame at your feet. Just our hope.”
Aria appreciated Lady Stanos’ honesty, and believed the woman had tried to voice her opposition. The cowardice of the ruling class had brought down Fenlyk, but its people seemed hearty and ready to fight back. It was a good thing to see. So she asked her next question. If the Purity Pools were still intact. Much to her delight, Lady Stanos informed her they were. It was how they had escaped, but as soon as they passed through the cavern, the pools sealed themselves up and hadn’t opened since. Aria felt confident that herself or Lara would be able to open it again. When asked why she wanted to know, Aria was honest in her answer.
[#DB7093 “Azera visited me in a dream. She told me of a way to defeat Malik. I have his old sword, but it needs cleansed. The Purity Pools are also one of the most important sites of the Provinces. They have healing properties and can act as a medium between this world and the spirit world. If there is a way to break the seal into that Chamber, We’ll find it.”] Lady Stanos was pleased to hear that, and promised to see to it that Aria met with the Temple Masters, that Adimar had access to their small library of saved literature, and prepared a ceremony for Aria to enter the pools.
From there Aria turned her attention back to her meal. Happy to finally eat a full meal, and allowed Lady Stanos to direct her questions to the others. She asked Adimar where exactly in Volshi he was from. While Adimar was sworn to his own secrecy, he was able to tell her of Aero City, but he didn’t mention if it was actually in the clouds the way Lady Stanos begged to know. Then she turned to Rhuarc, “Master Jai’hash, it is so rare to see Jai North of the River Nine. What inspired you to leave your home? Fate must have determined you were to cross paths with her Holiness,” Lady Stanos mused. From across the table Aria finally looked up and stole the glance she’d been trying not to take. She was fearful of looking starry eyed, and thankfully she managed to hide her twinkle and just smirked at Lady Stanos.
[#DB7093 “I believe fate only sets the wheel in motion, Lady Stanos. It is the will of the person that makes a destiny reality.”] And Aria was willing to get all she wanted in this life. Lady Stanos smiled, as if smitten with everything all of them said, and finally turned to Lara.
“What about you Master Fenlyk? What village are you from? How did you end up in her holiness’ company? Have you ever spoken with Fenlyk?” Lady Stanos was determined to know all she could about the Guardians she had waited so long to meet.
Walking back up, she heard running footsteps behind her. Those running footsteps were faster than her own footsteps, but Lara did not feel afraid. She knew, by the sound, to whom those pair of feet belonged to - Balden.
Balden caught up to her, but not out of breath. It would appear these six months had given him more endurance. Just another change that had occurred within this time period away from each other. But that was not really important. What was important was that their feelings for each other had not been snuffed out by time, the flames constantly being fueled by the desire to see the other once more.
Upon reaching the entrance of her tent, Lara turned around to face Balden. She looked him up and down, blushing once again as flashes of happiness, love, peacefulness, and warmthness popped in and out of her mind and body. She leaned in towards Balden and Balden leaned in towards her, the two of them sharing a goodnight kiss.
Setting aside the staff, Lara tucked herself into the knapsack. Laying on her back, she stared up into the darkness of her tent. She layed her hands on her stomach, locking them together as she ran through what had just happened in her head. It was a happy memory, and a first for her. Lara smiled with closed eyes completely relaxing.
And that was how she fell asleep, replaying the memory of her with Balden down in the caves.
Lara awoke with a start, her eyes flicking open. She had managed to flip over onto her side, her arms cradling her head. She felt someone lightly shaking her, someone was trying to wake her up.
Uttering a light groan, Lara flipped onto her back. So it was Adimar who had woken her up.
Lara nodded her head noncommittally, letting Adimar know that she had heard where everybody else would be.
She tried to fall back asleep, but Lara found herself to be slowly waking up.
Letting untucked herself, rotating herself so she was perpindicularto her knapsack. Carefully moving her legs into a crisscross position, Lara stood up. Maybe she should have stretched first, as her muscles quietly protested against this action.
To quiet her muscles down, Lara stretched. She went from the head, all the way down to her toes. Now the muscles weren't complaining.
Picking up her staff, her stomach now complained by giving off a slight rumble. But it was proper to wash up before eating, and thanks to Balden Lara knew where she could find a pool of water.
Kneeling on both her knees, Lara scooped some water into her hands. The water felt cold, but Lara was used to cold water. It wasn't as if she hadn't lived 16 years in Fenlyck on the edge of the ocean.
Lara splashed her face with the water in her hands. The cold water did cause Lara to jerk a bit as the cold water hit her face. Leaning forward, Lara rubbed her eyes as the rest of the water flowed down her face, before falling down back into the pool. Lara repeated this two more times, and felt much more awake by the end of it.
Looking back down at the water, an idea popped into her mind. She closed her eyes, and concentrated on the water in front of her. Once again, she could feel the water as if she were touching it with her own hands. But she felt something else, a new feeling. It felt like a connection...
[i [+purple Is that you I am feeling?]]
[i [+blue Yes]]
[i [+purple It feels very familiar...]]
[i [+blue Remember the one time you used your powers in a panic?]]
[i [+purple When I was confronted by the knife wielder?]]
[i [+blue Yes]]
Lara thought back to that moment, trying to remember what had happened.
And then it hit her. This was not a new feeling she had felt just now, for she had felt it then.
[i [+purple If I understand this correctly, the reason I did not feel it before was because I was not concentrating?]]
[i [+blue You understand correctly.]]
[i [+purple But it's better to always concentrate then to lash out in panick?]]
[i [+blue Yes. That is where practice comes in. There's a reason for not lashing out; you can't control the outcome. That one time you were lucky, but might not be so the next time. These powers you must always use consiouscly. At first it will be tiring, both physically and mentally as you think through your every action. But after awhile, it will feel much more natural.]]
Lara mentally nodded, without actually nodding her head.
She once again focused on the water. She thought of some of the water rising and forming into a sphere. She could feel that tug in her mind as some of the water rose, and formed into a sphere.
Lara opened her eyes, and there was a sphere of floating water, calmly floating without any disturbances playing across the surface.
[i [+blue That's it]]
The spirit had startled her, and the sphere of water fell with a splash. Lara chuckled, somehow finding it funny.
[i [+purple Once again?]]
Lara felt the reassuring nod in her head.
Closing her eyes once again, Lara projected the image of a sphere of floating water in her head. Once again she felt the tug in her mind as water rose up and formed a sphere.
Keeping her concentration, Lara stood up. The sphere of water kept floating right above the surface of the water. Extending her hand, Lara moved the sphere of water onto her hand without letting the water deform into a puddle.
It felt weird, knowing that she was touching water which was forcefully shaped into an unnatural for water shape. But she had done it, causing Lara to smile.
And now she decided to have a bit of more fun. Lara decided she'd walk up, trying to keep the water in its sphere shape as long as possible.
[i [+purple I'm doing it!!]]
[i [+blue Just keep concentrating. And remember, just do this everyday. You don't have to do much, it's just remembering to do it everyday.]]
But the spirit's voice did not fade away as it usually had done, it ended abruptly.
Lara looked around, wondering at this change. This abrupt change in concentration caused the sphere of water to fall out of her hand and land with a splash against the floor.
And then the smell came along. It smelled pleasant, as if there was food. Well, there was food, and she had walked into where everyone was having breakfast.
But no one at the table was eating, they were instead standing in complete silence. They were all looking at something. Lara looked behind her, thinking that maybe it was someone behind her. But there was no one there. If there was no one behind her, then that left only one person at whom all these people were looking at.
That realization came as a slightly unpleasant jolt. Everyone's eyes were on her. Lara did not feel comfortable, she was used to hide in the shadows, not to be out in the open for everyone to see.
She turned her head downwards, and walked forwards. She could feel as if everyone's eyes were scrutinizing her. Lara breathed in and out, trying not to let the building up panic feeling take hold of her.
Lara dared to glance up. Out of everyone to look out, she spotted Rhuarc first. Seeing Rhuarc gave her an idea.
She walked up, coming to a stop in front of Rhuarc. She kneeled on one knee, looking up at Rhuarc. [+purple "Will you forgive my people?"]
[center [I [size25 ⛓⛓⛓⛓⛓⛓⛓⛓⛓⛓⛓⛓⛓]]]
Every time the nurse touched her, it felt as if knives were being stuck into her skin... She was growing more and more comforted by the darkness, and the light would slightly irritate her eyes. She would grip Carrick's hand tightly, to bear the pain until she found some relief. She could breathe better, and the twinge was gone. She lain there, falling asleep once more for a few moments before awakening again. This time, Aria had come
By the time she was approached, Saraya was sitting up, leaning against stone and taking deep breaths. Aria asked what had happened, and Saraya, trying to speak let out a grunt... But no words came. Carrick placed a hand on her belly before speaking. [b [I "She used up her energy sheilding us back there... She used up so much, she had to used arcane powers to keep it going when the enemy was close "]] he explained, looking up to her. [b [I "This is the first time I saw her upchuck blood. Morning sickness is one thing... But blood? "]]
Saraya tried to protest, but Carrick shook his head. [B [I "Saraya is fighting... Harder than anyone I've ever known. She is hurting, because she doesn't want to admit she needs help... It might be because she sees herself as a burden because she's carrying our child, but... "]]
Saraya didn't have a chance to speak. Father Penzone, a Priest of Fenlyk, had came in, but he had most certainly started chastising Carrick for conceiving a child with her. Before she could speak, Aria had spoken for them, defending them and demanded that he stuck to his duty he was called for. After checking her vitals and taking some of her blood, he moved way, allowing the Midewife of Fenlyk to arrive.
At that time, Aria had sadly told her that she couldn't stay to see her well... That she had to take Carrick so to fulfill his duties as her Holy Guard. She smiled and nodded, squeezing her hand in recognition and understanding before Aria placed a kiss on her brow. After she turned to leave, Carrick promised the same before kissing her and she had done the same, squeezing his hand. The Midwife quickly brushed Carrick to leave with reassurance after her quick chastising, and Saraya grew nervous. [I "Be careful... Both of you... For me... "] she said between deep breaths. Carrick looked to Aria before nodding, and the both of them had departed, leaving her in the hands of the Midwife.
The midwife had smiled kindly to her before kneeling next to her. [B "The Guardian of Caledon, laying upon the cot, heavy with life... I never thought I'd see the like"] she began. Saraya stared at the woman as she started rubbing her belly. Saraya winced, taking deep breaths as she watched. The Midwife looked to her, seeing that Saraya wasn't really into talking at the moment. [B "Not a big talker? "]
Saraya looked to her. [I "I've... Nothing to speak about"] she said. The Midwife had propped her legs up and checked the baby. Saraya felt very uncomfortable during that time, and The Midwife knew it. [B "It would go a little better if you talked... It'll ease your distress. "] she encouraged. Saraya gasped and panted, looking up. [I "What? "] she asked.
The Midwife began talking, but Saraya could only think, with the peak of her mind, about her son. A thought of ravenous beasts that resembled the man and the child she lost haunted her, but she always kept it inside, knowing that her heart was finally reconciling about that tragedy. Her year of Mourn had long since been done, but... Her year had been with someone who took his place, and not by force. So as she gripped the sheets, bearing down the pain as she could only submit a word to her lips [I "Carrick"]
The words of the Midwife stopped when she noticed Saraya had relaxed... But, she was a bit too relaxed. She hurried to her side, and noticed that she was sweating beads, and her breathing was short, labored, and she took a damp towel and dabbed her face. Saraya's eyes opened slowly before they trailed to the Midwife.
With a smile, The midwife had cleaned her brow as Saraya stilled to the relief. She could breathe, and her discomfort had slowly began to fade. [B "There you are, Guardian... "] she said sweetly, patting her head as she finally came around. The Midwife then stood, stating that she would return with food suitable for her. There, Saraya lain, recoving in patience.
Soon enough, she heard her name... She looked to her left hand side to see a familiar face... [I "Ayab? "]
It was a challenge, but she lofted her heavy body to see him, and was relieved to see him still going strong. She looked St the wound, and fought back any words to say. The Medici must be found!
[U "Are you alright? "]
Saraya looked up to him and nodded. [I "Yes... Just... "] she looked down. She couldn't bring herself to tell him that she had coughed up blood since the hideout, and as if reading her face, Ayab knew something was wrong.
[U "What's going on? "]
Saraya looked up to him. [I "I don't know... "]
Confused with her answer, he began trying to reach her. [U "Why are you here? "]
Saraya stared at Ayab, grabbing his hand. [I "I had coughed up blood... Carrick was worried... "] she said quickly. Saraya grunted some as she sat up, holding her belly. She sighed as she rubbed her swelling belly, and looked to Ayab. [I "I feel much better, however. And I'm sure the nurses won't let me leave the infirmary until Aria returns, and perhaps Carrick had appointed Corbin to watch me again."]
So far, Corbin had been long silent on the voyage. Mainly, because he had to be her eyes, as a request from Saraya. So, only she could trust Corbin.
Saraya looked to Ayab. [I "Enough about me... How are you faring? I know your strong enough to hold on until the Medici arrives"]
Rhuarc waited to see how his words would be received by Aria, he had done all that he could, he had told her how he felt and there was nothing else for it. He could see her cheeks flush with colour, what could that mean...was it from embarrassment or from similar feelings? The Jai Guardian had expected Aria to go away and take some time to contemplate and think on what Rhuarc had said but to his delight she responded to her words. Rhuarc had not truly expected Aria to reciprocate his feelings, she was the High Priestess after all and he knew her position and responsibility meant to her. He also knew that romance was frowned upon if not outright forbidden by the Holy Sanctum. Rhuarc knew that he would always believe and trust in Aria, and he wanted to let her know that what she was feeling was natural. [b "I would stand alone against a thousand of Malik's men and feel nothing but telling you what I feel just a moment ago...that was terrifying. Fear is good, it lets you know that care, that the outcome matters."] Rhuarc listened as the High Priestess told Rhuarc about her trial in Kil'heed, he had never told anyone else about his own trials, they seemed far too personal, they cut to the deepest parts of his soul, they exposed his wants, his fears, everything that made Rhuarc who he was. He assumed it was the same with Aria so her telling him this...he could understand what telling him must mean to her.
Rhuarc took a finger and wiped away the tear from Aria's face. [b "If knowing you is what leads to my death then it will have been worth it. If Mlik even thinks about using me against you then he regret it."] It was then that Aria spoke words that although they hurt to admit Rhuarc knew that they were true; It was simply too dangerous for the world to know how they felt about one another. There was a part of Rhurac that wanted to argue that they were already targets and that nothing would change that but the added risk was unnecessary. Aria took one of Rhaurc's hands, rough and calloused from years of working with the sword and planted a light kiss across his knuckles. In that moment Rhuarc knew that the slight, delicate woman in front of him could ask anything of him and he would go tho the ends of the earth to make it happen. Her parting gift was a kiss so wonderful it flooded his body with warmth. Rhuarc had felt fire inside of himself ever since he discovered that he was a Guardian in Central City but this was different, and if anything it made the fires of Jai'hash seem like a mere ember. She was everything and yet for the safety of them both Rhuarc would show the world nothing. That was simply the way things had to be. As the two broke apart, Rhuarc's eyes lingered on the vision of beauty in front of him before allowing her to leave his tent and get some rest. [b "Goodnight Priestess."]
Rhuarc awoke to find himself extremely well rested despite the early hour and as he left his tent he was greeted by Adimar and the rather worrying sight of Saraya cradled in Carrick's arms as he sprinted towards the infirmary, Rhuarc was just about to follow when he saw Aria and heard her comments about the need for greater control. Rhuarc knew that he was almost entirely ignorant about matters of the arcane, his own experiences were limited and he trusted both Adimar and Aria's judgments about such things. Rhuarc had to fight to keep himself from smiling as he saw the Priestess and remembered the time he had spent with her the night before. The Jai Guardian did see a possible upside about Saraya's condition, one that he left unspoken...if the Medici was summoned by dire need the plight of a Guardian was far more likely to bring the mysterious healer to them than the need of a common soldier like Ayab. Saraya's need might just save Ayab's life but Aria was right, without Saraya they could not defeat Malik and restore balance and peace to the land. Rhuarc graciously accepted Adimar's offer of breakfast and while he did not join in the womanising of the Volshi men, it raised a smile to his face, the men deserved some fun, they wouldn't have much to laugh about in the future. The war would be well and truly upon them sooner rather than later.
[b "Lady Stanos, you honour us with your presence. Where I come from any sleep that you awake from can be counted as good."] Rhuarc gave a quizzical look at Adimar's statement that he hadn't slept with a hand on his blade, Rhuarc had and he likely always would. One could never be too careful, in the Wastes such behaviour was likely to get you killed. As the conversation moved onwards Rhaurc stayed silent for the most part and let Adimar do the talking, it was far more his strength than Rhuarc's. Admiar was royalty, he was eloquent and far better at conversing with and charming Lady Stanos than Rhuarc would ever be. The news about the Medici was not entirely unexpected so while it was disappointing it was not completely disheartening. It was the news that Rhuarc and Adimar would not be able to accompany her to the Temple in Astoria that Rhuarc truly resented, that would be the perfect time for an ambush with the Guardians divided but there was no point in resenting that which could not be changed. While Aria was at the Temple Rhuarc and Adimar would have to stoke the flames of rebellion in Fenlyk and weaken Malik's power in the Province. Lady Stanos' request for Aria to perform some kind of ceremony seemed innocent enough although Rhuarc did wonder what this could be, however, he was sure that Lady Stanos was a friend and would not willingly put the High Priestess in compromising position and he knew that Aria would love meeting the refugees. Any interaction with the common people would please her to no end. It would make her happy so Rhuarc was powerless to refuse.
Visions of darkness and evil raced through Ayab's mind, each one more vile and horrific than the last until he awoke in a cold sweat in the infirmary. He wished that he could say that this was the first time that he had seen these visions but that was not true, he had spent many nights in Kil'heed sleepless because he feared to go to bed and see what new horrors awaited him in these nightmares. The Fade really was a monstrous creature, killing him was one thing but to force him to waste away slowly, poisoning his body and his mind was torture. In the beginning the pain had been unbearable but the slow numbing of his leg and the spreading rot was far worse than any amount of pain, Ayab knew he was dying and didn't have long to live, and he knew that if the Fade could do this to him then he could do it to the other Guardians as well. He looked around the infirmary, he thought that he had been alone when they first brought him in but there was some sort of commotion happening nearby, bodies were bustling about and the Temple Masters were obviously working hard as well. Ayab understood immediately once he saw who they were caring for. Saraya. They worked for a good few hours before the Temple Master seemed satisfied, Carrick and Aria stayed as long as they could but the nature of their lives meant that they had places to be and matters to see to, soon enough it was just Ayab and Saraya alone in the infirmary. [+red "Saraya, are you alright? What is going on? Why are you here?"]
Carrick hovered over Saraya, holding her hand, and smoothing her hair back with the other. Anything to keep her comfortable while a healer hurried forward to help. He had called out for a healer the moment he’d found the infirmary. The healer worked to find the cause of Saraya’s illness, and what could possibly be causing the blood in her morning sickness. The woman was clearly uncertain, though determined to find the cause.
“She needs a midwife,” The healer scorned Carrick. He frowned, but was caught off guard by Aria’s voice behind him.
[#DB7093 “Then I suggest we find the Guardian of Caledon a midwife.”] The healer gasped at the sight of Aria, but quickly bowed her head and hurried off, in the meantime another stepped forward. Father Penzone. He walked into the room and made a straight path to Saraya.
“The Guardian of Caledon you say?” He looked her over, taking her wrist and checking her pulse, while glancing at Carrick, knowingly. “You must be the father, I take it?” He asked. Carrick looked from Saraya to the Priest and nodded his head. Aria informed the priest he was her captain of The Holy Guard, and that seemed to displease him. “A member of the Holy Guard knows he or she shall bear no children, and take no spouse…” The Priest reminded Carrick. He shared a look with Aria, who had so far been turning a blind eye to that rule -just for him. Aria stepped forward to stand on the opposite side of Saraya’s gurney and looked Father Penzone in the eye.
[#DB7093 “In a pre-Malik world those rules would have applied, My Elder. This is not that world, and I am working with what I have and with those I trust. Now can you tell us what is wrong with The Caledon Guardian or not?”] Aria demanded, defending both Carrick and Saraya in that moment. Her eyes were challenging, and Carrick was proud of her in that moment for standing up for herself, and them.
Father Penzone was unable to find the cause of Saraya’s discomfort, but he had gathered her vitals, a sample of her blood, and as he wrapped up, the Midwife finally arrived. With the Midwife there Aria felt it was best that Carrick leave with her, and Carrick agreed. Father Penzone was watching him, and they knew he was not the only Cleric of Azeroth who was finding sanctuary here. If they banded together under the slightest inkling Carrick could not do his job, they would have the power to pressure Aria into relieving him of his post. He watched as Aria held Saraya’s hand close to her heart, her other hand soothing Saraya’s hair back.
[#DB7093 “I cannot stay, my friend,”] Aria whispered sadly. [#DB7093 “I must leave and tend to other matters, and I must take Carrick with me. You are in great care with the midwife, keep Ayab company? I will come and see you as soon as I can.”] Aria promised and leaned down to press a soothing kiss to Saraya’s brow. A trickle of her own energy and power seeping into Saraya to help alleviate some of her pain.
It was Carrick’s turn to say his goodbye, and it seemed the Midwife wanted him to leave anyway, as she was preparing a curtain around Saraya’s gurney to provide privacy. He looked down at her and could see her pain and fear. He was afraid too. Afraid for her, and their child. He reached out and placed his hand over her stomach feeling for his child, and looking in her eyes. [#000080 “I will be back as soon as I am done attending to The Priestess’ duties. Be strong, and let them help you,”] he leaned forward and kissed her, and looked back at the waiting Midwife.
“Go, men always hover, always worry too much! I’ve delivered hundreds of babes, Sir knight. You can’t make a pregnant woman travel as you all have. It’s not good, but not to worry, I’ll have her right as rain in no time.” The Midwife promised. Carrick was hesitant, but he nodded and eventually let go of Saraya’s hand to follow Aria into the dimly lit tunnels. In the infirmary, the midwife drew the curtain’s closed and smiled Kindly to Saraya. “Alright, dear. Let’s see how you’re babe is fairing. Just relax…” The midwife was gentle and far more knowledgeable about Saraya’s pregnancy conditions, and did everything she could to help Saraya relax, and to find the cause of her discomfort.
Carrick and Aria were greeted by one of the Guards who brought Carrick his gear. He was already dressed, so Aria helped him make quick work of getting ready so they would not be late to breakfast. She went to hand him the sword leaning against the stone wall, but the moment she touched it, she was captured by an rush of sights sounds and smells. A scream wailed in the distance amid the flashing visions of fire, darkness, and blood. She could feel Malik’s presence wrapping around her like a hungry desire. She instantly dropped it to the ground with a clatter.
[#000080 “Priestess? Aria, are you alright?”] Aria was clearly shaken and looked to Carrick as she caught her breath. She was fine, she assured him, and let him pick it up off the ground and attach it to his hip. There was nothing more he could say to try and understand what she’d seen or felt, so he let it go and followed her to the Main Cavern to meet with the Resistance Council and eat breakfast. Today was going to be a long day…
That morning after Adimar woke up, he was one of the first to rise along with Rhuarc and the other guards. The drama started earlier than usual as he watched Carrick suddenly rush Saraya away with concern, and frowned. It must have been her pregnancy. Looking over at Rhuarc he studied the man for a moment before speaking. [#20B2AA “No mortal cast can handle that much power without consequence,”] Adimar commented and glanced to the space between himself and Rhuarc to find Aria had risen from bed as well. She was dressed in common fenlyk robes, she might have blended in if it wasn’t for her frizzy silver white hair and odd lavender eyes. A look of concern painted her pale face as well, her eyes rapt on the retreating form of Carrick and Saraya.
[#DB7093 “She needs better control, or she may find the need to sacrifice one over the other. Too much power corrupts the soul.”]
Adimar nearly blanched at that statement and looked to Aria in disbelief. [#20B2AA “Are you honestly suggesting that if this power flux doesn’t kill her then she’ll turn on us?”] Aria frowned, but by the tense frame of her jaw, Adimar knew he’d struck some sort of nerve.
[#DB7093 “Malik once served as Captain of the Holy Guard. He was loyal to Azera, a man of honor and justice. He came into great power and in his pursuits became the very thing he had sought to destroy. That power he claimed? It came from Saraya’s father. I’m not sure on how the timelines work, but I assume he is like the Ancients… ageless. So yes, I do have that fear. I trust her, but I fear for her as well. I fear for her soul, her livelihood, and her child. I want Saraya to overcome it all, but you are right. Power like hers, like mine? It does not come without consequence. If Saraya gets much worse… Finding the Medici will be more important than ever before. We can’t defeat Malik incomplete.”] It was an ominous warning, and one no one had ever said out loud before, and it was the truth.
It was then Aria looked between the two of them and made her leave to follow Carrick and Saraya, Luther and another Guard quickly on her heels to follow and keep her safe. Adimar looked over at Rhuarc and suggested getting something to eat, because who knew what else might happen that day. First he wanted to check on Lara and see if she was awake. He found her curled up in her knapsack sleeping sweetly. He knelt beside her giving her a little shake, just enough to wake her and let her know where everyone would be.
[#20b2aa “We’re all going to breakfast, join us when you’re ready.”] He told her softly, and left her to go back to sleep if that was her desire. If she didn’t join them for breakfast he’d bring her a little something to eat. From there he turned from the camp and headed towards the Main Cave where the smells of food was coming from. On the way they ran into Max who accompanied them to the long tables and several eager young women. Adimar could only grin, he was rather in the mood for a nice distraction…
“Come, join me and breakfast, men. I see plenty of eager fillies curious to know more about us [i exotic] men,” Max rubbed an elbow in Adimar’s side and winked at Rhuarc. Adimar grinned at the sight of the collective of women who welcomed Max. He was more than eager to join his brother in arms, but he also noticed a collective of figures -the ones who had greeted them last night. Seeing Guardians had arrived to Breakfast, Lady Stanos stood up from her seat and waved a hand for Adimar and Rhuarc to sit with them. Not wishing to be rude, Adimar made his way to the top long table and made his greetings.
“Morning Master Volshi, Master Jai’Hash I hope you both slept well, we hope to move you to better quarters today if it’s any consolation?”
Adimar spared a quick glance back at Max, who didn’t seem to mind being left alone , and took one of the seats near Lady Stanos.
[#20B2AA “I may have been raised a Prince, but I am also a soldier. I can sleep anywhere,”]
Lady Stanos smirked at him, “You didn’t answer my question.”
[#20B2AA “I slept well, thank you. Knowing I didn’t have to sleep with my hands on a blade made for a much needed deep sleep. I drooled and everything, I’ll have you know.”] Lady Stanos chuckled warmly at that, and credited Adimar with being a flirt. He in turn informed her she was very perceptive. He liked Lady Stanos, and felt she was a much needed ally in the fight against Malik. She turned to Rhuarc then and inquired how he slept, pleased to know he also slept fine.
“I was hoping the Priestess would be joining us for breakfast,” Lady Stanos commented when a plate was provided to Adimar filled with native fenlyk foods, and Aria had yet to arrive. He was wondering when it would come to this, people like Aria were always highly sought after. Everyone wanted a moment of her time. Adimar supposed if he was to be traveling with Aria in a sense he would have to represent her. Adimar knew this was normally a task for Saraya who generally accompanied Aria or tended to matters that required her to speak on Aria’s behalf, but she was unwell and Adimar would have to do.
[#20B2AA “The Priestess will be late, one of our group is pregnant, and it has not been a kind pregnancy on her body. The Priestess went to ensure that Lady Saraya would be alright. Speaking of healers, we have heard of the Medici, do you know where we might find this renowned healer?”] Lady Stanos’ expression fell, and she set her fork down to lean in and informed Adimar of what she knew.
“I’m sorry to hear about your companion’s difficult pregnancy, and the wound of your friend,” she said looking to Rhuarc, “but no one has seen the Medici in months. She was last seen leaving a southern fishing village that was being regularly pillaged by Malik’s men. We have heard no word from her, no news. We only hope she is still well and safe wherever she may be, and that when the time is necessary she will show herself. ”
Adimar felt a bit of his bubble burst, to learn that the Medici was missing. Great, Thad and Rupert were sure to return empty handed now. If the Medici was missing with no real clue to their whereabouts, how on earth would his men find her? Then again Rupert could find anything or anyone, the man had a way about those things, and it was entirely a mystery to Adimar how he completed his near impossible tasks. Maybe he could keep hoping his men returned with the Medici. Adimar dug into his food, starved from the traveling, and glad to be stationary for a while. There was one issue he knew needed addressing and he’d rather get it out of the way for Aria sooner than later.
[#20b2aa “We were hoping for better news than that, but thank you for your honesty. I do have one other thing I want to ask you. I like to get business out of the way first, and then enjoy good conversation. The Priestess will want to make a trip to the Temple in Astoria. She will want to see if for herself. Can you help arrange such a trip?”] Lady Stanos was a smart woman, and she knew already who Aria’s General was, and since her Captain was not present in the conversation, she looked to Rhuarc to see if he approved before giving her answer.
“There are tunnels that lead back to the temple and the pools. They are hidden, and have been impossible to locate since they sealed themselves. However, we might be able to smuggle a few of you in. We do have a method of getting into Astoria, however… neither of you will be able to go. The priestess will have to be disguised to look Fenlyk, and I would of course send her with my best agents. Exotic travelers will only draw attention, this would have to be a covert mission in broad daylight. It’s risky.”
[#20b2aa “The Priestess is aware of the risks, and it's not really a request. She must visit all the temples with her Guardians to restore them, and unlock her own powers. We will also need access to all of your intelligence information you have available, and our Captain will want to recruit new members to the Holy Guard. Only the best of your best will do.”] So far Adimar thought he was doing good in Saraya's place.
“Of course,” Lady Stanos conceded agreeing to provide them with any assistance they needed.
“I must request an exchange, however. I will of course provide you with assistance to anything you desire or need. All I ask, is that you convince the Priestess to preform a public Ceremony, and perhaps meet with some of our refugees?” Adimar smiled already knowing the answer as he shared a look with Rhuarc.
[#20b2aa “I can confidently say, the Priestess will easily agree to those terms.”] It was then Lady Stanos spotted another she'd been most anxious to meet. Lara had come to join for breakfast, and the entire hall grew quiet. Adimar watched in awe as the people gave Lara the respect and reverence a Guardian deserved. Showing that the Fenlyk still held true to the old ways. Many stood and bowed as Lara entered the hall and even Lady Stanos had stood up eager to finally get to speak with the incarnate of their deity. Lady Stanos fell into a deep bow.
"Lady Fenlyk, we are honored to have you. Please, come eat?"
Across the camp, a set of eyes watched the priestess closely as she left her General’s tent for her own. Must have been business as usual. Everyone had bedded down, but the Fenlyk Guardian had yet to return. She’d wandered off with the Fade’s puppet, and Rhys had a rather good idea what those two might be up to. Two teens with raging hormones alone? Rhys didn’t think there was much to read into that. He anticipated she would not be returning. So he waited until those around him were dreaming. It was incredibly late when he heard Lara returning, Balden had accompanied her back to the area, and he listened closely as Balden shared a goodnight kiss with Lara and promised to see her in the morning.
Rhys waited until he was sure Lara had fallen asleep, Balden's footsteps were long gone, and the guards now seeing that all the Guardians were returned relaxed themselves. Rhys slipped away from his knapsack on the edge of their camp, prepared to claim the need to relieve himself if questioned. He wasn't, even the guards exhausted from travel were asleep. Feeling confident, Rhys made his way through the tunnels. He moved silently in the shadows until he found his way back to the entrance they had arrived in. From there he slipped out unseen, and noted that they did not keep a guard at watch near this hidden entrance. They would come to regret that.
The insects were loud, and the wind a constant force pushing against him. The sound of surf could be heard in the distance, but it was to a dense collection of shadow under a gathering of trees. He stood in the thick of it and reached out with his own magic. He'd come face to face with one of the Fade's puppets, no doubt the Fade was nearby. Finally he felt the presence of his comrade. The Fade’s grotesque lack of a face rose from the blackness to greet him, after hearing his call. Rhys gave a respectful nod of his head in greeting to the Fade. Unlike Egos, Rhys knew enough about the magic that had born the Fade, he wasn't dumb enough to challenge or upset the Shadow. Besides, being on the Fade's good side, kept him on Malik's good side.
[#8B008B “The priestess has landed in Fenlyk, and she’s with the resistance. I will attempt to sabotage any attacks and will bring you information as it comes to me. By the way, I met your puppet today. It impressive, he doesn’t even realize he’s being manipulated by you…”] Rhys smirked to the Fade, and finally reached out, his hand glowing purple. He was feeling for any corpses in the wetlands. To his delight he sensed plenty, maybe a hundred? Definitely no more than that. [#8B008B “There’s enough dead here, I can create an attack, hopefully draw the priestess out. Or use it as a diversion for you to make your move. The attack in Kil’heed failed, but there are no watchers to foil our plans here. You let me know when you’re ready, but first I need to gain more information about the Resistance and let me break this group apart a little bit. They’re a tightly knit group… they’ll be easier to take down if we divide and conquer.”]
Aria was certain this was the first time she’d ever been rendered speechless. She stared at Rhuarc captivated by his impassioned words. She didn’t think she’d ever heard him speak with such emotion. It wasn’t what she was expecting to hear either. She anticipated Da’Thei to mean: Chosen, perhaps even prophet… but Rhuarc’s declaration of love was not at all what she expected. Though it was entirely welcomed, and delighted in. She wanted to hide her face, knowing she was blushing by the way her cheeks heated and felt mildly embarrassed over it. However, she managed to keep her eyes locked with his, and absorbed every word.
[b “The fact of the matter is that my heart is yours, and shall always be. Aria, you will help these people because you have to. You will help these people because that was what you were born to do.”]
She was certain no one would ever have that sort of faith in her the way Rhuarc did. She was also certain she shouldn’t like the sound of her name being said by him as much as she did. To her, it seemed the invisible wall between Priestess and Guardian was lowered when he said her name. The closest expression she could use to describe her feeling was hopefulness. He had told her to do whatever she chose in regards to his words, and no matter what he’d respect her choice. A small part of her urged her to put distance between them, to stay focused on the upcoming war, and not allow herself to let her guard down over an infatuation. Hearing him confess his own feelings had Aria reevaluating her own. It was easier to dismiss such emotions when you believed them to be one sided, and easier still when someone managed to make you second guess them. Now her own emotions were trickling out from the bottle she had trapped them in deep in her heart.
She knew she could not stay quiet for much longer or run the risk of wounding Rhuarc’s heart. She finally reached out and took his hand, but locked her eyes with his, knowing she would never lie to him either. She had to tell him.
[#DB7093 “I hope you always have that much faith in me. You are constantly full of surprises and wisdom, and I’ve already learned so much from you. I had no idea you felt this way, and I would be a liar if I said I did not have similar feelings for you.”] she couldn’t stop the blush even if she wanted to, but the expression was warm and pretty on her as she eyed Rhuarc. [#DB7093 "You have been a constant source of support, advice, and strength to me. I admire you greatly for the man you are, and I adore your soul. I’ve never had feelings like these before. They confuse me, and at times they frighten me. I…”] She looked down at his hands and frowned, recalling her violent trial in Kil’heed, and it brought all of the fear and guilt back to the forefront. A Rouge tear began to form in her eyes. She swallowed tensely before continuing to speak [#DB7093 “I must warn you. During my trials, I was trapped in a never ending loop of madness and horror by Malik. I thought it would never end…”] she shook her head, still haunted by it all, but carried on. [#DB7093 “At one time, he had you strung up on a post, and before he killed you, he -it made me listen to the sounds of you screaming in pain and calling for me. I had to watch you die…”] She sniffled, hating that memory above all others. The deaths of the guardians. [#DB7093 “Sitting with you now, I wonder if Kil’heed knew my own feelings before I did. The vision taunted me, it knew you were special to me… and I kept losing you, Rhuarc. I don’t want that to happen to you. I can’t let Malik use you against me- not like that. I want to protect you too, and I know my feelings for you could be dangerous, especially if anyone ever knew. I don’t know if it’s even wise to search our feelings deeper, let alone act on them. Though I want to.”] she smiled sadly at him. [#DB7093 “You and I both know how dangerous it could be for either of us, the group and all of Azeroth if it was known there was more than a friendly bond between us. These are dangerous times, and we do not have the power to protect ourselves. For your own safety I must ask that you take care to keep these feelings secret. No one must know. We have to be careful not to act on them… or be caught if we do.”] She gave his hand one final squeeze and a shy smile before she pressed a kiss to his knuckles. [#DB7093 “Know you are always in my thoughts, and if the world was different… I wouldn’t be leaving your tent this night. I’d spend all my nights with you, but I desire your safety more. So I will leave you with my own words of adoration, and your thoughts on them, as well as a token to our secret.”] she leaned in and in a show of boldness for her feelings; she pressed the softest of kisses to his lips. She lingered only a moment, feeling her heart hammer and the air grow heavy, while her cheeks burned with a blush. It was one sweet lingering kiss between two people who understood the consequences of what could happen if it was learned Aria had such a potent weakness. She broke the kiss, wanting more than ever before to kiss him further and feel his warmth; but she managed to find the will power and pulled away to make her exit. At the entrance, she made a show of opening it up and turning back towards him. [#DB7093 “Goodnight, General. Sleep well.”]
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