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Lara followed Luther just a bit farther, before stopping and turning right back around. What Luther had just said as a response, extremely interesting. Lara pondered his response, before figuring out that she had somehow forgot most of what Luther had said. For Lara that was a bummer, for how could she ponder the meaning behind Luther's response if she had no clear memory of what he had said?
[i [+purple "Fenlyck, you still here?"]] [i [+blue "Yes I am"]] The voice was how it had been as before, calm as the waters on a clear sunny day. Lara hesitated, no reason at all, before asking a question, [i [+purple "Could you repeat what Luther said back to me?]] [i [+blue No problem at all."]] After a short pause, [i [+blue "Ready?"]] Lara responded with a hesitant mental yes, having no clue why she was being hesitating with the spirit of Fenlyck.
[center [i [+blue "“Thanks for the advice,” he said careful not to comment on her youth or small stature. “But it matters not to me if he trusts me or not. I intend to be at the Priestess’s side whether she wants me there or not. For now I shall bid my time. I have faith the Priestess will see I am valuable and welcome me with open arms.”]]]
She was not being hesitant with asking the spirit for repeating Luther's response, something was bugging her about Luther's response. Specifically, his intent on being by Aria's side. And the way in which he had said it, it was as if it was guaranteed that he'd end up by Aria's side. On the one hand, he was a Watcher who had guarded this place for who knew how long. On the other hand, Rhuarc distrusted him. Usually the people Rhuarc distrusted were either foolish or extremely capable, and Luther was not a fool.
[i [+blue "Wondering as to what Luther's true intentions are?"]] Lara stopped in surprise, she still was not used to Fenlyck being able to hear all her thoughs. [i [+purple "Yes, I do wonder as to what he really wants. Does he want to be by Aria's side because he wants to be by her side, or is it because he's being influenced?"]] [i [+blue "What makes you think that there is something more to than what he said?"]] [i [+purple "Malik has already shown that he can influence people, and get past the defenses of this city with ease.]] [i [+blue "But those he has turned, none of them have ever been Watchers."]] [i [+purple "That does not mean there is a first time for everything."]]
The spirit began to say something, but Lara blocked whatever Fenlyck had to say. Maybe talking about her concerns of Luther to Rhuarc would be a good idea.
But upon arriving back at the door to Aria's room, Rhuarc was not there. Opening the door into the room, Aria was not in there. Probably Aria had woken up, and had wished to go somewhere, and Rhuarc had accompanied Aria for safety. Lara ran a hand through her hair, standing their and thinking about what to do. If both Rhuarc and Aria were together, then that was even better. Then she could have opinions from both Rhuarc, who obviously had his own reservations about Luther, and Aria, who seemed to know things that no one else knew.
Lara walked out of the room. But would it be a good idea to talk to Rhuarc about her concerns? The problem with talking to Rhuarc, was that he had some preconceived ideas - biased thoughts - about Luther. These preconceived ideas would make it harder for her to formulate her own thoughts on Luther. Aria on the other hand, she could speak about Luther in an objective way. Presenting both bad and good aspects without any preconceived ideas.
But maybe it was still useful to talk to Rhuarc. Learn why he distrusted Luther, and maybe do some investigative work on Luther.
Walking past a room, she heard a voice which sounded like Rhuarc asking a question, something about weapons. Peeking into the room, it was indeed Rhuarc there, asking a question to Aria. Since both of them were there, no time like now to voice her own concerns.
Lara walked in towards where Rhuarc and Aria were standing. [+purple "I hope I am not interrupting anything, but I am concerned Luther. He's acting strangely."]
[center [I [size30 ❇❇♥❇❇]]]
As she walked in, Adimar followed, inquiring about Giji and his fate. [I "No doubt, The Mage still has some hold on him. But, he will not be able to do his evil through him. He will remain prisoner until the time comes his connection is not needed anymore"] she said, feeling surprised that her very words came without emotion for his human life.
She nodded to him and sighed. [I "I apologize for the sudden work. The Mage would not have answered your questions... He would have tried to put a spell on you, or spread doubt into your ear as he had done Carrick when we first found Aria. I had fought him before... Which... "] she remembered the vial she tried to give Aria... She had to have it somewhere... Maybe that could be of assistance to their cause.
Adimar had began speaking with her about a number of things... There was some excited speaking about her child, that he wanted to protect her and the babe. But, what stood out in her mind was his serious desire to help her hone her Arcane skills. She couldn't answer at the moment, but her mind did agree to the notion. There was limited time and it was on both the darkness and her child. She hadn't a moment to falter.
Adimar had departed to find information on Egos. Saraya took the time to breathe in the air... There had to be some things answered for her. Her father had to have seen the very things that history could have easily distorted... But as she tried to think, her mind couldn't concentrate fully.
Saraya sighed as she walked along the halls, and as she trailed slowly back to the room, her mind began hearing and seeing Carrick's very thoughts. A type of sensation draped over her, and it wracked her with a slight buckle of her knees... Carrick's desire for her was growing... And she knew it... His thoughts were too vivid to ignore... And it started with three heart-melting words:
[center [I [b "I Love You"]]]
She knew Carrick was Apexing, but she never knew how intense it would feel. His thoughts were powerful all on their own. It was though his very thoughts were just showing her how much of a prisoner he was to his desire to her. Images... Images of his need of her flashed past her mind. Her Apexing body was reaching for him... Aching with each image shared between them to touch and be touched. It was so intense, she couldn't do anything but lean into an available window to get air.
As she attempted to clear her mind, her father had gently entered her subconscious. [i [b Well done, my child.]]
She wanted to speak, but desire shivered down her spine. She shivered it away and looked ahead. [I "Father, you need to tell me something... "]
[I [b [center Yes, I know... You want to know about the abomination I've created...]]]
She was slightly shocked, but nodded. [I "Was there something that links you to Malik's change? "]
[I [b [center I changed him... But, I didn't make him what he is now... He had gotten greedy and turned against me for his own selfish gain...]]]
[I "His own selfish gain? You turned him to help you bring together fallen soldiers for your armies, it does leave room for failure"]
[I [b [center I chose him because he was strong... Because he wanted what I wanted... But, he made me a fool in thinking I could claim it that way...]]]
[I "What was it that you wanted? "]
[I [b [center I wanted freedom... I wanted a purpose... I wanted to protect the council... The Holy Council was being attacked by Shadow, my brother created from the depths of The River Nine-]]]
[I "- Your Brother? "]
She was confused. [I "You've a brother? "]
There was a harsh silence. [I [b [center He was attacking my council. I only sought to create the army to protect them... But, he fooled everyone into thinking I wanted this]]]
She stared at the distance. [I "This doesn't make any sense, father. If Shadow is my uncle... "]
[I [b [center Yes, but he is the reason]]]
Saraya sat up, ignoring the feeling of desire from Carrick's mind [I "Show me"]
There was an uneasy silence. [I [b [center Alright...]]]
[I [b [center ❇❇♥❇❇]]]
Through the darkness, was the sound of rain. She saw a graveyard, housing the honored dead. She looked down to see a male face... The youthful Sayan was what she saw. She saw his rising souls, but there was this determination of the threat coming. She turned to see the darkening sky.
He growled through his canines before looking to his risen dead. [b [I "I apologize, knights. I am not an evil. I beg your assistance. The Holy council is under attack. My only wish is to protect their walls. Knights of Fenlyk, I beg you. Protect the heavens"]]
Saraya watched as each bowed in submission. He wasn't lying. This threat was among the heavens. She could feel the determination emanating from him. She blinked away from the memory... And just in time, too... A pair of hands wrapped around her waist and closed the gap between the two... She could tell who it was, and she relaxed a moment. [I " Carrick... "] she smiled as she turned her head to him.
He spoke of his worry and that he had came to collect her. She smiled in relief as that desire she felt began to escalate. She wanted to stop it before it would show on her face... His scent, though, made it hard for her to even keep a solid thought. She let him escort her back to the room. They needed to be alone. Aria would call for them soon, so they needed as much rest as they could get.
Going into the room, the mess had been cleaned and she could only feel both desire from Carrick and the fatigue from the whole ordeal. But, when she tried to get straight to the matter at hand, Carrick wanted her attention, and against her will, she took the invitation. The scent of Apexing male, HER Apexing male was impossible to ignore, and evidently, her Apexing scent was impossible for him to ignore too. Her father had a lot of explaining to do about this... But, for now...
[center [I [b ❇❇♥❇❇]]]
Saraya watched Carrick sleep beside her in the late afternoon sun, her hand gently stroking his bare chest. Filaments of light added flecks of gold and red to his blond hair and coated his damp skin in warm hues. Carrick was a good man... a Guardian like she was, who hadn't judged her, hadn't lied to her, but who had become her friend and lover over time, and now couldn't bear to part with her for a moment too long.
But he'd also been honest about that. They both knew the reason why. The baby. Oddly, she owed Carrick for loving her, when it would have been so easy for them to be just to be partners in a common battle, but because of him she had more reason to fight. Yet Carrick had shown honor, to where he would kill anything and anyone that posed harm to her and now their baby. Saraya let out a quiet sigh. The complexity of it all was profound.
Life as she once knew it was peeling away from her; Caledon was gone, her once glorious home and her establishments were now shambles and mud hovels. Hundreds of people had died, graves were overturned, and the spirits were restless.
It was time. The time to meet with Aria and the Guardians have come. It may be time to prepare and move for The Fenlyk temple. Another trial to ascend from. Saraya brushed a stray lock of mussed hair away from Carrick's forehead and kissed him there softly so not to wake him. He looked so peaceful when his haunted eyes were closed and his breaths came deep and slow. But she also enjoyed his ribald humor; a slight smile tugged at her mouth. Yes, she loved her Carrick, her Guardian and King.
Ever so gently, she nestled her head in the crook of his shoulder and felt him stir to protectively pull her in beside him, and wondered what her life might have been like had she met him before she had met Felliope. As she listened to him breathe and his heart quietly thud within his chest, she knew the answer. There would have been no despair, no death, Hell, and destruction in her life. She could stay within the safety of this semi-jaded Guardian's arms and never let him go.
Her father was silent throughout their time together. As she slowly stood out of his hold and wrapped a sheet around her, she slowly paced to the wide windows. [I "Father, did the Guardians meet you in Fenlyk? "]
She was kind of curious since the vision looked like Fenlyk territory. A rumbling laughter sounded in her head before he spoke.
[b [center [I My, my... You should be resting, love.]]]
She sighed. [I "I can't stay still"]
[b [center [I You go to your love... Your business is there for now... I will explain later...]]]
Saraya stared ahead and nodded. Maybe he was right. The treading that was ahead will need all the energy instead of tying the story together. As she turned, she walked back to the bed, sitting down next to him, watching him sleep before leaning into him again.
She leaned up and brushed Carrick's lips with a soft kiss to wake him, watching his eyes slowly open. [I "Wake, my love. I want to see your eyes,"] she said quietly.
He smiled and cupped her face with his palm and glimpsed the bright sunlight. His words were soft, husky, and the scent of his Apex was intoxicating.
She formed a smile and allowed her finger to trail along the edge of Carrick's jaw. [I "Never have I seen a sight as you,"] she whispered. [I "But, we'll have to get ready soon"]
For a moment he didn't move, his smile fading into a sober expression. Worry was ridden on his face, but she reassured him with a smile that there was nothing wrong.
She sat up slowly in bed; he followed suit, staring at her. The room felt like it was closing in on her.
[I "I am fine, Carrick, "] she said quietly, [I "I just know that our Priestess is awake"]
Too many thoughts crowded into her mind at once, and it took her a moment to sort them out before she could reply. Both of their power was realigning, and he was near a lightning rod--her. If the surge she'd felt was accurate, without knowing, the apex would refuse her from much thought except him... But, then he also needed to go and meet the Guardian fellowship to plan their next move. The group were in need to move before they would get distracted during this fragile space and time.
Saraya gazed at Carrick for a moment without speaking. She could sense that there was uncertainty with Lara, that there was a change in Aria... And even the others were on edge because of her run-ins with The Mage. Even though she knew the inevitable would come, in her mind, she couldn't let her family fall apart this soon into the long haul of hardships. Their decisions needed to be clear--go toward the Light. She knew that she had to focus on the light, they all did. And she had to make sure that all were ready when the ultimate test was set upon them.
She passionately kissed Carrick before stating something important [I "My love, we must be ready for her call"] but, he made her giggle and as he pinned her down, planting an array of kisses along her face and neckline, she felt that the importance of the situation had been forgotten, of only for a moment. Her father hadn't told her how hard it was to ignore the scent.. But, then again... Why ignore him? If he didn't want to ignore her or her apex, why not she?
Rhuarc watched Luther leave and had just finished asking Lara her opinion on the Watcher but she ran off after him for some reason, the Jai was not concerned though, Lara was smart, strong and extremely capable of looking after herself and Rhuarc was sure that the Fenlyk guardian had her reasons for going after Rhuarc. The Jai just couldn't shake a feeling that he had about the Watcher, there was just something about him that didn't sit right. He didn't like Luther and he wasn't sure if he trusted the man either, but he couldn't be sure why, it wasn't that he was a Watcher after all he trusted Ursula far more than Luther despite him having little contact with both. No, it was definitely Luther that he didn't trust and not the Watchers as a whole. After another few hours had passed the Jai guardian once again decided to check on the High Priestess and as he opened the door to peer in he noticed that this time was different from the other times that he had checked on Aria while she had been resting, instead of the sleeping figure of the blonde priestess he saw Aria sitting by the edge of the platform, a light breeze stirring her hair and her feet dangling off the edge. [b "Priestess, it seems that you have finally wakened. I trust that you have sufficiently rested, unfortunately there are matters that I must bring to your attention."] Rhuarc had to suppress a wry smile as he spoke, the surprise of finding anyone else in the room alongside her startling the High Priestess of Azera momentarily. [b "It seems that Kil'heed is not as safe as we were led to believe. The Mage attempted to strike at Saraya again like he did at Tanaka. A wound was taken but has subsequently been dealt with, Saraya herself, Adimar and his men are interrogating the culprit as we speak. Given the Mage's ability to slip by Kil'heed's defences I suggest we move on to Fenlyk as soon as possible, the sooner we get there the closer we are to defeating Malik. There is also the matter of Ayab's wound, I fear if we do not get him to the Medici soon then he will not survive, he puts on a brave face but I can feel pain in him."]
The attack on Saraya was not the only notable event to occur while the Priestess was resting, after all Rhuarc still had to keep his word an attempt to persuade Aria to meet with Lord Aethon in exchange for the use of an airship. [b "There is another matter to deal with, an emissary from the Volshi Crown has arrived and wishes to meet with you. I believe it would be wise to do so,for one they are willing to part with a Volshi airship and the second reason is that the emissary sent was Adimar's father."] This should not be an emotional decision, the truth of the matter was that in all honesty they needed that airship otherwise travelling around the Four Provinces would take too long and the risk of them being tracked, captured or killed by Malik's forces was much higher, Aria needed to take this meeting with Lord Aethon regardless of anything else. She may be kin to the Aethon family but Rhuarc doubted whether that would make any difference to the Volshi ambassador. The Jai had relayed the two most important pieces of information; Saraya's attack and the waiting Volshi emissary but there was still thing he wished to ask the High Priestess about, something personal as opposed to official. [b "If I may Priestess, I wish to ask you a question. What do you think of the Watcher Luther?"] Rhuarc wished to know Aria's opinion of the man and see how it lined up with his own views. Rhuarc didn't trust Luther but so far he seemed to be the only one with reservations. Aria had a way of knowing certain things, like who they all were back the first time they me in Central City and if she too had reservations about the Watcher then Rhuarc would keep an even closer eye on the man. Even if the Priestess didn't have any concerns that did not mean that Rhuarc's unease was unwarranted. [b "If this meeting is to take place soon and we are to gain this airship then I wish to be prepared. I must go to the armoury and fetch my blade, it has been kept there since I entered Kil'heed, you are welcome to come with me if you wish..."] The Jai expected the Priestess to say no, to insist upon seeing Saraya first or thinking of what to say to Adimar's father but to his surprise she accepted his offer without much hesitation, Rhuarc did not want Aria unprotected inside Kil'heed but he would not have thought her eager for a trip to the armoury. In this instance he was glad that he was mistaken.
The walk to the armoury was a quiet one, with neither Rhuarc nor Aria saying much, their footsteps echoing throught he corridors of the fortress. Rhuarc wondered what Lara was up to, she had disappeared after Luther and who knows what mischief the spirited Fenlyk guardian would get herself into, Rhuarc was just thankful that Saraya had seemingly recovered from her attack and that Aria was safe. It didn't take long to reach the armoury which was flanked by two Watchers who admitted them to the space when they realised who it was that approached them. The Jai guardian looked around the room that was full of weapons, every kind of weapon imaginable was there; spears, swords, axes, bows, flails, maces, morning stars, lances and a dozen other weapons that Rhaurc didn't even know were available but even now he only had eyes for one instrument. He knew where the blade of heavy black steel was without even having to look, it was strange, he had a kinship with the weapon and did not realised how much he had missed the weapon while he had been parted from it. Rhuarc drew a long strip of cloth that he had brought with him and carefully wrapped the blade in the fabric, being meticulous enough not to let himself touch the sword itself. Jai custom prevented him from touching a weapon while on Sacred ground but if he only held the cloth...it was a tenuous skirting of the rules and while it might stick to the strictest letter of the law he was under no doubt that there would be Elders that frowned on such actions. The truth was that while the Mage after Saraya Rhuarc did not want to be too far from his weapon should he need it, it was a comfort to have the sword on his person again. As Rhuarc finished his task and the sword was wrapped in cloth he looked up to see Aria looking around the armoury, seemingly with purpose. [b "You never struck me as one with much interest in weapons Priestess, are you looking for anything in particular?"]
It was supposed to be a dreamless sleep, and for the most part it was. Before Aria could awake physically, she found herself awakening in the Astral Plane. She hadn’t been here since her fight with the Mage on the way to Tanaka, and she quickly sat up and looked around. The Astral World was different and strange, the veil of life between awake and sleep, and also one where the Spirits traveled. Above her was the swirling twinkling neon masses of the cosmos, and below her was a dark cloud that cradled her body from floating away. She looked around, curious as to what would bring her here, but found nothing that explained this unexpected trip. Pushing herself up to stand she felt the fluffy cloud harden into the smooth scattering of scales. The cloud had transformed around her, until a long thick black tail coiled around her waist and held her aloft. Aria gasped in shock, those same magenta eyes burned and gleamed. They Formed from two swirling galaxies until the darkness formed around it and Aria came face to face with a Dragon. It was covered in inky black scales, and bone white horns decorated its head and down along its spine.
“Azera…” Aria breathed in knowing. The Dragon only looked back, confirming Aria’s thoughts and spoke in a shallow echo to her inside her own mind.
[i “It is I,”] Azera whispered, her voice accented and deep.
“What can I do for you?” Aria asked uncertain if she could even help the famous first Priestess. Sensing that Azera would only reveal herself to Aria if the moment required it.
[i “There is nothing you can do for me. I am here for you. I have been here since the beginning. I am The Knowing.”]
Aria blinked in shock, but she understood it. “You were there when I was little, you told me to run when Malik attacked. You helped me get into Central City, find the Guardians, showed me the path to Tanaka… you helped me defeat the Mage…” Azera nodded her large scaly head. “So It’s true… I am you.”
[i “Yes. You are my reincarnation. You are me as I am you, but we are not the same. I am here to give you one of my memories, so that you will better understand the past…”] Azera lowered her face until it was nearly touching Aria’s. She looked deep into Azera’s magenta eyes and became hypnotized as they swirled and pulled her in. Before Aria could realize it, her surroundings had melted into a different scene.
It was the Holy Septum, decorated in soft pastel fabrics, the colorful marble floor swirled, flecked with glittering minerals and encased in large towering and arching pillars with massive open windows. Standing before her was Caledon, Fenlyk, Volshi, and Jai’hash. To her one side stood several Watchers. All of them sporting different Armor depending on what Guardian they served. On her other side stood the familiar visage of the Watcher Luther, but it was the unfamiliar handsome face that stood closest to her that captured her attention.
“Word has reached us, that the Horseman has been breaking Holy Law and traveling to our land,” Volshi said. He was tall, donned in rich robes of sapphire and silver grey, with plaited silver hair, and the golden eyes of a hawk.
“Do we know why he has come here?” Aria asked from within Azera’s body, as she tossed back white dreadlocks over a dark mocha shoulder.
“We are not sure,” Fenlyk said, the coral haired beauty stood tall and lithe, endowed with gentle curves, and dressed in a gown of glimmering turquoise that made her look more like a Fair Princess than the Demi-Goddess of the Seas that she was. Her head was draped in a crown of pearls and glittering shells.
“My spies tell me he is searching for a partner, but for what? We do not know.” Caledon replied gruffly from where he stood. He was as large as Jai’Hash, and his head sprouted a crown of antlers, his skin tawny and at his side stood his counterpart, the woman he shared his power and life with, his beautiful wife. She turned to him, pressing a hand to his bicep which instantly wiped his scowl away from his rugged face, causing a tight lipped smile to peek out from under his full beard.
“Where was he last seen?” Azera asked rising to her feet and crossing the dais to gaze into a reflective panel of the wall. Looking back Aria saw Azera in all her glory. She was tall, amazonian with strong arms, and flawless ebony skin. Her eyes burned a bright neon magenta and her hair trailed down her back in thick white dreads with two pointed ears poking out from between the dreads. Her face was even painted with shimmering silver paint, and her pointed ears were cuffed in silver jewelry. Her full lips pursed together in thought as she tried to figure out what one of the Horsemen was doing in her world.
“He was spotted above my temple, but he was heading west before we could confront him,” Volshi answered with disgust.
“Then he is heading for Fenlyk’s Temple,” Caledon’s wife gasped at the statement.
“Will Fenlyk be safe to return?” She asked
Azera did not have an answer for the Caledonian Mate, and instead turned suddenly to come face to face with the handsome form of her Captain and her General: Malik. He stood tall, streamlined but strong, with an aristocratic nose, and shiny black hair, pale skin, bright green eyes, and a persistent 5’oclock shadow that decorated his face and jaw. Even in this memory, Aria could feel a hesitation in Azera. “Malik, I want you to travel with Fenlyk to her temple, cut the Horseman off there.”
“I wish to go as well,” Volshi cut in looking towards Fenlyk. It caused the Siren to smile warmly at him and he reached out towards her, taking her hand in his and the two stared at the other with love and longing. Azera didn’t argue, and instead gave her blessing. Malik however looked less pleased.
“My Priestess, I do not wish to be parted from you,” he began. “What if this Horseman attempts to attack you while I am gone?”
“Then he will have to get through me.” They all turned to see Jai’hash scowling from where he stood, hands on a heavy black blade and his shoulders draped with a heavy looking cape made from a large beast he had killed years ago. It was the sword he carried that caught her attention, and Aria instantly recognized as the one Rhuarc carried with him. Malik actually grinned, looking relieved and nodded.
“I thank you, friend. I will travel easy knowing my Priestess is safe.”
“Don’t trust me?” Luther asked. Malik grinned again and reached out to clasp a hand to the Ancient’s shoulder.
“I do brother, but Jai’hash is my oldest friend, and I trust him explicitly. You are still just a fledgeling, so come with me and learn all you can.” Luther didn’t look pleased, but nodded his head in understanding.
“It is settled then,” Azera stated, her mind made up. Azera clasped her hands together, but when she pulled them apart a long thin sword of black steel to match Jai’hash’s appeared. “You four will travel to Fenlyk’s Temple. Malik, take my blade with you,” Azera offered. Malik looked humbled and shocked, glancing towards Jai’hash who had originally gifted it to Azera, before the Guardian gave a nod of his head. Malik saw it as permission and reached forward, taking the sword in his hands.
“This is a beautiful gift… thank you.”
“Use it well,” Azera told him. “We will be waiting for you to return.” Malik quickly fell to his knees before Azera in her gossamer white gown. He remained that way as the Guardians slowly filtered out. Volshi and Fenlyk to prepare for their journey. Caledon and is wife to seek out their young son, and Jai’hash to find his own room. Their watchers following behind him. Aria saw through Azera’s eyes one Watcher following behind Caledon and his wife, and when he glanced back -Aria swore she was looking at Carrick before his transformation. They had the same build, the same blue eyes, and the same red beard. How strange…
One by one they all filtered out until they were alone. Malik finally rose back to his feet and stared into Azera’s eyes, and in Azera’s chest, Aria could feel a flutter. Was it nervousness? Fear? Anticipation?
“I will return for you, My Priestess.” it was a promise. Azera smiled finally, but it faded as she spoke in a hushed whisper to him.
“I know. Do not engage the Horseman. We only want to know what he is doing here, nothing more. Do not put your life in danger to be a hero. Come back to me.” She demanded, pressing a hand to his chest. Malik, nodded and covered her hand with his own, and offered up his other sword with the other.
“I will. Hold onto the Harbinger for me while I am gone.” Azera looked to the blade and took it in her hand. She held it effortlessly, despite its weight and looked from it to him, a look of uncertainty painted her usually confident face. Malik saw this and smiled at her, lifting her chin with a finger to ensure she saw the sincerity in his eyes. “This Horseman does not scare me. I will return, and Jai’Hash will protect you. Not that you need it,” Malik grinned and leaned in closer towards her stealing a kiss from her cheek. “Then when I get back, we’re going to take some time to figure out what this is between us,” Azera finally gave him a coy grin, and a slight push away. He chuckled warmly at her even as she bid him to leave and make haste, a rare happy smile on her face.
From there the memory faded and Aria blinked back to the Astral Plane where she was face to face with Azera once more. [i “Malik was my most trusted Guard, but when he left on that mission, he did not return as he was… He returned different. He was dark and corrupted. Volshi was killed on that trek protecting Fenlyk, and the only one to return was Luther who gave me the news that after Volshi’s death, Fenlyk retreated into the Ocean where she was never seen or heard from again until the day she died, and Malik… Malik only returned years later when it was to kill me. To Destroy the remaining goodness in him. I managed to push him back with the help of Jai’Hash and exiled him to the Nether World. He’s obviously found a way back but he does not want to kill you. He wants to absorb your powers, and use you to make the remaining rebellions heel to his rule by making you as he is. Dark.”] Aria frowned, she didn’t think she had any powers that would be useful to a creature like Malik.
There was one thing pressing on her mind though…
“But Malik… he was once so kind, and so clearly devoted to you. How did that change?” Aria asked needing to know. Unfortunately Azera did not have the answer to that. Only that she knew the Horseman had changed him, and Malik had to want to be changed. “You want me to find out what caused Malik to turn against you, don’t you?”
[i “Yes, and I want you to save him if you can. I believe the Malik I knew and loved is still in there.”]
“And if he is not?” Aria dared to ask.
[i “Then in this Fortress there is a sword. It is known as The Harbinger of Justice, and once belonged to Malik when he served as my Captain and my General. Find the sword, take it to the Temple of Fenlyk and cleanse it in the Purity Pool. Have each Guardian offer a blood Sacrifice upon the blade. Then the blade will be enchanted with enough power to defeat Malik. For when the time comes, pierce Malik’s heart with it. He will become trapped in the sword and easy to destroy. Take it to The Temple of Ouk’nu where it was forged and carry it into the fires of Jai’hash. Only then will Malik be destroyed and incapable of returning ever again.”]
From there the image of Azera in her Dragon form began to slip away. Aria gasped. She had so many more questions! She wasn’t ready to be parted from Azera! She called out to her nervously, but she could also feel herself being tugged away from the Astral Plane as she began to wake up.
“No! Azera! There’s so much I wish to know! please don’t leave me!”
[i “I am always with you…”] Azera replied, and then the darkness moved in, and with a blink of her eyes Aria was looking at the ceiling of the bedroom she was given.
It was no doubt the early hours of morning, as her room was dark, and her eyes needed a moment to adjust. She felt the wind blow into the room from the open platform, and could smell the beginning of a chilly autumn creeping in. Sitting up her covers pooled in her lap, looking out she could see the Sun just barely making its way to the horizon. Below her were the twinkling lights of fires and lanterns being lit for the coming Dawn. The city was stirring and Aria was as well. She dressed in a provided gown of silver and grey, which would keep her warm as the temperature continued to drop. It would only get colder the further North they went towards Caledon, and she knew the thin flats she wore would not be sufficient in the cold terrain. She would need boots, but first she had a sword to find. However, more pressing thoughts invaded her mind, so she took a seat at the edge of the platform, letting her feet dangle and looked out at the mountains. Malik, was not always evil. Azera had trusted him, she believed in him… she had loved him… in a way. A heavy frown marred her face as she realized that what Luther had told her about the original Guardians might not be true. Had he lied? He had told her Malik had been jealous of Jai’hash, that Azera had loved him and not Malik. It didn’t make sense, but she decided to keep it to herself, and do her own digging to find out what the truth was, and that meant she would have to let Luther get close to her. It was the only way she could learn what he had meant, what he knew, and what he was up to. Besides, he had been in her vision and would no doubt have information about Malik and what she was dealing with.
“Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer…” Aria whispered looking out at the landscape with a determined look.
Luther had been patient in his wait to visit again with the Priestess, so patient he offered to go with Carrick in search of new recruits for the Priestess’ Holy Guard. He was well aware the only way he would be able to get close to the Priestess was to prove himself to her companions, so he started with her personal Guard. They visited the barracks and Luther showed him where the Volshi Soldiers were staying, and together they met with the Commander of the platoon who offered to have a group of selected soldiers available to show their prowess in the morning. It was already well into the evening and most of the men were winding down for the evening. Carrick seemed content with this, but he also seemed preoccupied, and made a mention that he could sense Saraya’s emotions and thoughts. The anomaly sounded familiar to Luther, Caledon had once shared his powers and gifts with his wife, bonding with her so they could remain connected across vast distances. Had Saraya learned a similar skill? He didn’t doubt it, she was powerful.
With his work finished and Carrick ready to retire and find Saraya, they parted ways at the entrance to the temple. Carrick started towards the dungeons where he met up with Saraya soon after her departure from Adimar, and Luther made his way upwards to the Priestess’s chambers. He was expecting for there to be a new compliment at her door, with Watchers, but instead he found Rhuarc and Lara still keeping watch since their departure from Saraya’s room. Luther tried, without luck, to gain access to The priestess’s room. He had hoped to see her, perhaps wake her and talk with her. Ursula was the first to warn him about his mild obsession, but it was his business and no one else. As it was, he planned to be part of those that would try their skill for Carrick and earn his place back within the Holy Guard.
Which was going to make it all the more satisfying for him when he made it, no doubt against the massive Jai’s wishes. A little competition was always healthy, and Luther was most certainly the competitive type.
It was much to his shock when he heard the patter of feet following him from the Priestess’s chambers, even more shocking that it came from the young Fenlyk Guardian. According to her, that was just the way Rhuarc was, and that he didn’t even trust her -a fellow Guardian. That was certainly interesting. He listened to all she had to say and offered her a content grin. This little spitfire was nothing like the docile and beautiful Siren of the Sea. She was full of spunk and determination, something Luther could admire.
“Thanks for the advice,” he said careful not to comment on her youth or small stature. “But it matters not to me if he trusts me or not. I intend to be at the Priestess’s side wether he wants me there or not. For now I shall bid my time. I have faith the Priestess will see I am valuable and welcome me with open arms.” He gave her one final grin before dipping his head into a respectful nod and turned making his way to prepare for his own Watch back at the tower.
Pregnant… Saraya was pregnant. Well, Adimar had to give it to Carrick, the man certainly didn’t wait. Adimar would be the first to admit, he’d found Saraya an incredible beauty when he first laid eyes on her. He had even mistaken that she might be the Priestess due to her beauty at first, and yet she had surprised him by being the Guardian for Caledon. He simply hadn’t pictured one so delicate and lovely looking to be such a force to reckon with, and that was his foolishness to correct. Because of Saraya, Adimar had been making it a point not to judge a person by their appearances alone. Even little Lara had proven she was tougher than she looked. Sassy too.
Adimar was very aware by the subtle movements and breaths done by Saraya, that she was conversing with her spirit. It made for a quiet walk, but that all ended when they reached the dungeons. He held the door open for her but they both tensed at the suffocating dark aura that clung to the walls of the Fortress. It threatened to climb like a vine up the many stairs and winding halls towards an unsuspecting Priestess. He shared a look with Saraya, knowing she either sensed it the way he did, or she could actually see it; but they both silently agreed they couldn’t let it reach Aria. Adimar’s men and Ayab were there to greet them at the door, confessing they had not been particularly fortunate in getting information out of Gigi, so Adimar bid them take their leave. Saraya then bid him to remove the Watchers to get fresh air or fall victim to the Mage’s creeping powers, he acted quickly an removed them as well. He’d made a promise to Carrick though and hurried back in to ensure her safety and that this Gigi didn’t do something he’d soon regret losing his head over.
He found her knelt before Gigi, a finger to his forehead as he seemed to experience a seizure. Soon the spasms stopped and the man raised his head, but it was not Gigi anymore. Gigi was just a puppet, this was the Mage. Whatever the Mage saw in Saraya, it didn’t like it very much and spat at her for her use of illusions. Adimar frowned, for all he saw was the lovely Raven Haired Caledonian before him. Careful not to let this puppet reach Saraya, he wielded his sword of volshi steel with a threatening look towards the man.
“Watch yourself, or you’ll learn how cold Volshi steel can feel.”
Saraya had a message for him, and she leaned in to whisper in his ear. It created a face of horror and shock to fill his features, leaving Adimar dumbfounded at what she’d said. Before Adimar could ask his own questions though, she knocked Gigi out and preformed magic over him.
[i “Let us leave... “] she said, getting up and walking right past him. Adimar blinked, stunned by what just happened and so terribly confused. He chased after her quickly grabbing her arm and gently pulled her to a stop.
“What did you do? Adimar asked curiously.
[i “I set Giji free from him... “] she said with a simple smile .Adimar frowned.
“Freed him? So I can’t ask any questions huh?” He pouted at her and her lovely smile. “Tricky gal… Alright, so what did you say to him? Whatever it was about made him piss himself,” Adimar said picking up stride to match her. She wasn’t going to slink off that easily from him, and she was clearly aware of it as she finally turned and decided to trust him. What she said was frightening. Undead, minions burning in Hell. He only grinned at her. “Sounds like a good time,” he stated in sarcasm, and while he was shocked she would say such a thing, he was… amused by it too.
She started back towards the Keep, no doubt to return to Carrick, when something came over Adimar and he reached out for her once more. “Hey, hey now, I’ve got more questions for you Lady Saraya. You can’t get rid of me that easily.” He flashed a brilliant and handsome smile her way as he walked beside her. “For starters, What’s going to happen to that guy? Is he going to be alright now that you’ve exorcised him from the Mage? What’s the Mage planning? He keeps coming after you. It’s almost like he doesn’t work for Malik anymore…” Suddenly it dawned on him and he couldn’t help but look Saraya over. He quickly hushed himself and whispered to Saraya pulling her away from the light of sunset that illuminated the hall, and concealed them in the shadows from prying eyes.
“It makes sense,” he began. “The Mage wants to create an heir of power with you from what we’ve figured out. The only question is why? Perhaps he wants to overthrow Malik and allow himself to have that power. Otherwise his focus would be on getting to The Priestess. So correct me if I’m wrong or way out of the field with this, but I’m trying to think what I would do if I were Egos.” Adimar’s brows furrowed in thought and he crooked a finger under his chin and thought deeply about all the arcane knowledge he had…even the darker magic he knew of… “If I was Egos, and thank Volshi I’m not, I know the only thing more powerful than the combined forces of the Guardians is something born of true love, or something born of pure rage. You being Prya explains why you are so much stronger in the Arcane than the others naturally. You have Caledon’s blood in your veins. Your mana must be strong,” He said in awe as he looked at her. “Let me help you!!” He whispered excitedly. “First thing I think we need to do is find a protection spell for our newest traveling companion,” He motioned towards her belly. “Once he finds out that little guy is in there… he won’t be very happy. He could, in theory, birth a child of great evil and great power with what you would have combined, and it could potentially not only destroy and dethrone Malik, but it would destroy all of us too… Egos is a powerful Mage,” Adimar sighed and reached towards Saraya and placed a hand on her slender shoulder. “I’ll help you keep your baby safe. None of us will allow any harm to befall you or the babe.” Suddenly he was grinning. “The Priestess is going to be all aflutter when she hears this news. I’ll let you go now, I’m going to find a library and see if I can’t find some information on what Egos might be planning, and if there’s a way to protect your unborn child from any of his dark magic. Perhaps if I’m lucky I can find something to help Ayab as well. I’ll let you know if I find anything.” With that he gave Saraya a final grin, pleased to have a task to do and hurried off to find the Archives of Kil’heed, though he knew it would be best if he could visit the libraries of Aero City where the worlds’ knowledge of Arcane and magic was kept.
Lara did not expect Rhuarc to say anything, his voice jolted her out of her wondering. It took her a few seconds to realize that she had to have spoken a thought out loud, something which she did often and should propbably stop thinking such dark thoughts out loud; not probably, but she should definitely stop with saying these things without thinking.
Lara completely missed the first half of what Rhuarc had said. She had not intentionally missed what Rhuarc had said, for she had mostly been dealing with her own internal workings of the mind. Although to the second half of Rhuarc's speech, she paid very close attention to, to make up for not listening to the first speech. Even though it comforted her to hear Rhuarc say that they'd "one for all, all for one", Lara still worried. Yes she knew that she had grown stronger on the journey and through trials, but she knew, or at least she thought so, that she was weaker than Rhuarc, Saraya, and propbably the Priestess. If Saraya had had trouble with dealing with whatever had been attempted murder on her, then how would she be able to at first deal with whatever strong and evil things that would be thrown her way? There was already a very fresh incident of Saraya on death's door, blood painting most of the room.
Lara kept standing and keeping watch besides Rhuarc. People came, some merely walked in and out of the hallway. The others, were the Watchers. They took up their own watch besides Lara and Rhuarc, before leaving and being replaced by another Watcher. Thus the time passed by, the only way to know of its passing was by the change of the Watcher. Lara felt herself slowly grow tired, but she didn't let that distract her from her watch.
Rhuarc opened the door and looked inwards, and while he was peeking in another Watcher approached. A very familiar one.
Rhuarc closed the door and turned around, and completely face-to-face with the Watcher who had approached - Luther. Luther, being a Watcher, requested to check upon Aria before starting to walk. Luther stopped when he saw that Rhuarc was not going to move out of the way. Lara could feel some sort of tension beginning to build within these two men. One was adamant about entering through the doorway to check upon Aria, and the other was just as adamant to not let anyone else in. And then both Luther and Rhuarc had their hands on their weapons, Lara quietly gasped. If there was bloodshed because of this, she wouldn't know what to do. She only wanted this to resolve without any bloodshed.
This high tension lasted for what seemed like an eternity, before Luther warned Rhuarc. Rhuarc responded, but Lara could here the derisive tone in his voice. Luther stepped off.
Rhuarc asked a question, but Lara had already boarded her own train of thought. [+purple "Wait here"], she said to Rhuarc in a quiet and serious tone, before running off after Luther.
Catching up to Luther, Lara slowed down and walked besides him in silence. After what had just happened, it felt awkward to start a conversation with Luther, but Lara felt that this tension still needed to be released. [+purple "The Jai..... they can be extremely stubborn and pigheaded.. Just don't tell Rhuarc I said that to you, he still doesn't completely trust me. Even after going through a long journey, and going through the same trials, he still distrusts me."] Now this was the crucial part, she could not mock Luther, instead she had to have an understanding sort of voice. [+purple "I've been with Rhuarc for what is it now..... a few months?? A few months, give or take a few weeks. And after all this time, he still distrusts me. Now you, you are a complete stranger. Yes you did help out at the fight outside the gate, for which I am extremely grateful that you and the others came to our aid, but he hasn't been with you and see how you act for a long period of time. I know you were only trying to do what your job is, but... um.... that's all I can say.."] Lara shrugged her shoulders, she did not know what else to say in this case.
[center [I [size30 ❇❇♥❇❇]]]
Saraya was relieved by Carrick's reaction to the news. Her emotional side of her relaxed a bit. But, the situation had escalated quickly when Adimar spoke quickly about her confronting Giji. She looked to Carrick [I "Its alright. And Aramis will be fine. I have to see Giji about the hold on him. The Mage will not stop there. His aura is along the halls. I have to cut it off before it gets to Aria"] she stared at him before looking to Adimar. [I "Rhuarc's light will prevent her from being touched. If I can get to Giji, I can stop the flow before he can turn him. I promise..."] her eyes tethered to Carrick. [i "Me and our child will be alright. You haven't failed at all. You are the Guardian. You will be able to fulfill your duties... To me and to Aria... "]
With that, she took to Adimar and walked down the halls to the dungeon.
During her walk, Saraya's senses had both intrigued her and surprised her beyond her mind's comprehension.
[I "Spirit, I've no idea..."]
Saraya surprised herself. She had no fear to speak aloud... And what answered her wasn't evil, but it wasn't her Spirit... [b [I Saraya?]]
Saraya's breath hitched at the voice. She never heard this voice before... But, it seemed familiar. After a moment, she relaxed and concentrated. [I "Who is speaking with me? This is not my spirit..."]. She began to slow her pace at the windows and watched the horizon and then allowed her gaze to soak in the profusion of subtle colors that carpeted the slope. Carrick's natural scent wafted over his shoulders and flowed over her. Even through his magnificent armor, she could smell the stench of him, and it always played with her senses until it practically made the hair on the back of her neck stand. Soon she could pick out the various wildflower fragrances, discerning grasses from flowers, soil from animal musk, better than she ever could before. So, was this how her father felt when he fell in love with her mother?
[center [b [I Saraya...]]]
The awareness was startling. It was as though something had wiped her mental slate clean, taking away not only the best of her old warrior skills, but all her newly acquired Hïgâsçä gifts with it. For months she'd felt like he was living a half-life, where everything was muted, sensations were dulled, her true emotions were contained. Aria had told her many of the things the Spirit said, but for some reason those truths didn't resonate before. She'd heard them, could intellectually process them, but could never translate them into innate understanding. She'd wondered why that was, what had kept her so separated from what was clearly logical? Now, in the pristine air and sitting quietly, bits of her old self began to slide back into place.
[center [I [b Saraya...]]]
Initially, she felt no connection with anything, but now she began feeling a deep connection with her surroundings, so much, she began to feel Carrick's slow, calm breathing. In her mind, she could feel him, as if his back was against hers, and they were yards from eachother and counting. In her thoughts, she felt her back expanded against his, warming it as she breathed in. She could feel Carrick's warmth from across the room. She felt the armor on her shoulder blades, but she wore none. Her spine nestled against the fabric she wore and there was heat in different places she hadn't thought she could feel. Slowly she became aware that if she listened hard enough, she could feel his heartbeat and she was across the room from him.
[center [I [b Saraya...]]]
She kept her eyes closed, remembering his heartbeat, how it sounded when she'd plant her head against her chest as she threw her head against the air... remembered what Carrick's hair felt like beneath her palm. She remembered his breaths, the gentle expulsion of air when he laughed, or sighed, or his hot breaths of sudden rage... or passion. The heat of the dawn felt good against her neck and face, it was moist heat, similar to, but unlike the sun's. But there was also a breeze, a shifting of air and air pressure, of air temperature. His breaths made her feel light, and as the wind caressed the mountainside, she imagined the wind to be his whispers. She made a game of listening to it, imagining it as his laughter, or fussing, or sighing. Was she telling him a secret or was he calling out her name? She chuckled as she thought about it.
[center [I [b Saraya...]]]
She looked ahead to the dawn. [I "I hear you, but I don't know you"]
[center [I [b Sayan is my name... As I have given yours]]]
Saraya's eyes snapped open in both shock and surprise. [i "Father? "]
[center [I [b Yes, my beautiful creation]] the voice gently rumbled [I [b It is I]]]
She opened her eyes using the sense of sight, and stared at the awe-inspiring landscape. There was so much about Carrick that was more spectacular than the mountains and contained just as much mystery. She'd known that her senses were being acute because her father found some way into her, had healed her some; The Holy Council had given her their tears. Her father crept in her mind, but never invaded. The wind still seemed to be her voice. The colors now added a new level of awareness, and she definitely wondered how she'd been so blind? For all the ugliness in the world, the world was still going on. Here, sitting at the edge of heaven, nevertheless did she dream that both she and Carrick would be alive in the same time and space, sharing a yak blanket on the cliffs of nowhere, with powers beyond their reckoning, being at peace if they could ever reach it.
[I "Are you here to watch?"] she murmured.
[center [I [b Watch what?]]]
She laughed softly. [i "I am only a newborn to your power, father. I would fail on the first try, so i don't know how to use them at all"]
[center [i [b I supposed there's not much else to do up here, other than that and to aid you, Saraya,]] he said with a deep chuckle.]
She somehow liked the way his laughter rumbled through her mind, into the newfound peace she found. [I "I suppose not, otherwise you wouldn't be talking,"] she said laughing.
[center [I [b A Guardian is with you, yes,]] he said quietly, [I [b With Adimar, you will be able to cut off ties of The Mage, but not entirely. If you hurry, you may be able to use Giji to find out his plans]]]
Adimar felt her body shake with giggles and knew she'd covered her mouth with her hand. He could see it without even seeing it, just like he could mentally envision her megawatt smile. Here he was supposed to be a Guardian, and all his attention had been on his family and the Priestess. But, Saraya has been a very interesting character since he met her.
[center [i [b Love, you must also learn to sync with your Carrick]] he said softly as her giggles abated. [I [b Being in Sync with Carrick is a very powerful power to have. With it, you are able to share thoughts, be able to move as fluently as he will, be able to know his movements before he does them... Your power with the wind is very fortunate power. Along with mine, it will reveal the secrets to your abilities tenfold]]]
[i "Alright, father"] she murmured, a giggle in her voice, but with a deep tone of appreciation threaded through it. [I "Although, I can't figure out how I can do that... "]
[center [I [b My child... You've already done it...]]]
She stared ahead as they made it to the stairs.
[center [I [b You can feel him breathing... You are even starting to hear his thoughts... My child, your apexing...]]]
[i "Apexing. "] she said quietly.
[center [i [b Yes, my child... Apexing]] he murmured. [i [b Your life as a warrior, including Caledon and my power are finally aligning. Carrick is also apexing... But, he has his own ties to align...]] he said in the barest of whispers.]
[i "i didn't know there was such a thing"] she said, and then laughed softly, [I "What am I to look out for while we are having this Apex? "]
[center [I [b Well, for one thing... You will experience desire that you've never fathomed. Because you and he will share the same mind, all thoughts are shared, including sexual, intelligent, or even irrational. This will also help you picture enemies around you, or even avoid attacks sooner. Reaction will be heightened, and it will benefit when you and he is on the battle field]]]
[I "And what about feeling? How does that work? "]
[center [I [b That is another matter...]] he said, his tone becoming mellow. [I [b Feelings, as far as emotional is felt between the two of you. Physical can't be felt, but it is possible]]]
[i "alright... "] she murmured. [I "So, its a deep connection between the two of us, yes?"]
[center [I [b Yes...]]]
[I "Father? "]
He didn't answer for a while, but allowed her to use her ability to connect with Carrick.
[center [I [b I must go for now...]] he finally said in a gentle murmur. [I [b I will return when you leave Giji]]]
Again he felt her nod, but she said nothing. Adimar, however, he did notice that her breathing hitched slightly and was no longer deep and even.
Saraya sighed deeply as she thought. She knew that she was Apexing, but the feeling she had was more than just tangible desire. Carrick's mind was flying between two of his promises. He wanted to fulfill his duty to Aria, but his duty was torn in three... He had to protect the Priestess, he had to protect the Guardians... And he had to be Saraya's other half... And now that she is carrying his child, it was apparent that his duty to her was more urgent... But in her eyes, it wasn't as important as their Priestess.
She slowly shook her head no, then took in a deep breath and held it for a second; Adimar could hear her release it through her nose. Then she leaned her head back, slowly, carefully, as though she were falling, and inhaled deeply again as the task at hand reached its peak.
[I [center [b ❇❇♥❇❇]]]
Walking through the threshold, she was overwhelmed by the dark fog that only she could see. The Watchers stood, according to their duties, but Saraya knew they were being sucked in, and turned to Adimar. [I "Get The Watchers out... They need air before they, too, become corrupt"]
Adimar quickly sprung to action, getting the four Watchers out and into open air. While he escorted them out, Saraya proceeded to the cell where Giji was held. There, she saw the man chained to stone, and on his wrists, burned her name across them. She would normally be shaken of it, but she was unmoved. She saw that his head was dropped, as if passed out under the fog. [I "Giji"] she let her voice cut through to him, and in response, his head jerked.
Saraya stared at Giji before his head slowly risen. Already, his firm was becoming grotesque. One of his eyes was sunken into his head. He looked weak, but the power of the Mage still surrounded him. She stepped forward, and it seemed to scare him. [b "No! The Mage will sense you! "] he yelled. Saraya ignored his pleas, coming forth as Adimar returned.
She knelt to him and put her index finger on his forehead, and it sent a sort of jolt through Giji. His head threw back against the stone, as if in pain from her touch. Her eyes blinked twice maybe before Giji's head slowly lowered to face her.... An entirely different face shown, and it smirked before laying its eyes on her... But what those eyes saw was an image just as dark, but twice as powerful as he, and growled.
[b "You've seemed to be using illusions against me... No way are you that powerful! "] The Mage's voice sounded from the shadows. Saraya calmly stated at him, her eyes as crimson as the dying horizon. [I "Perhaps, Mage... Perhaps... "] she said slowly, her stare piercing through the Mage's absent form.
[b "How can you do that?!"] He growled. She smirked her fanged smile again. It shook The Mage, to where he began to lose some control of his puppet. What sort of power exactly did she possess?! [I "I want to relay a message to you, Mage... "] she began. Adimar watched as she leaned in to the paralyzed prisoner's ear. Her lips were moving, but he didn't hear a sound... What was significant to him was that Giji's eyes grew wider with each word she spoke. She then calmly stood, took Giji's head in her hands and smashed his head against the stone wall, knocking Giji out.
She then pulled his head up by his scalp, and used her ability of air to drain his senses and blocked his mind to where The Mage couldn't return. After which, she turned and walked past Adimar. [I "Let us leave... "] she said. Adimar grabbed her arm gently, asked her what she had said and done to the host. Saraya looked calm and she smirked. [I "I set Giji free from him... "]
Adimar wasn't satisfied. He asked again what she had said to the virus in Giji... Saraya hesitated a moment, but turned to him and said plainly... [I "I said... 'Even if you succeed in taking me... You will meet your demise... And your king will fall into shadow, where my undead dwell, and his minions will burn in hell... I promise that"]
Adimar was shocked. Saraya? Sending the monster off in a threat that powerful? He thought he would have never hear it... He watched as Saraya walked back into the palace, nonchalant as if nothing had happened...
Rhuarc was glad to see that Aria's door had not been left unattended, Ursula the Shield Maiden stood vigilant and she would make a formidable foe, he was glad that it was she who was guarding Aria. The Jai took up a position on the other side of the door so that they booth flanked the wooden entranceway and while they stood in silence, Rhuarc's eyes never stopped searching the hallway for any other sign of movement, a hand resting on his belt knife ready to be drawn at a moment's notice, willing to do anything to protect the High Priestess. An echo of footsteps sounded from the way that Rhuarc had just come from and the Jai guardian tensed but he relaxed as he saw that it was only Lara, clearly she had decided to do neither of his suggested courses of actions and chosen the unspoken third option. In Lara's defence it was Rhuarc's own mistake, he should have given her every option available to her and let Lara make her own choice. She was headstrong and more than capable of making the correct choice in any situation. Rhuarc simply did not think that Lara would want to stand by a door, he thought that Lara would find it boring and would rather be doing something else.
As Ursula creaked the door open and displayed the resting Priestess to the two Guardians Rhuarc was not calmed. He agreed that Aria needed her rest and the powder that the Shield Maiden had put int he soup was necessary, it also meant that Aria would be completely defenceless which made Lara, Rhuarc and Ursula all the more important. [b "Send all the guards you wish Shield Maiden, I shall not be relieved. I will stay until the Priestess wakes."] Ursula obviously had other matters to attend to, she was the leader of the Watchers and must rally her forces and ensure that this Gigi was the only threat to them. If the Mage could influence someone in Kil'heed maybe there was more that the abomonation could do. No chances could be taken. [i "I'm next, he's going to target me next....."] The words from Lara's mouth caught Rhuarc's attention as the youngest Guardian voiced her concern. [b "Lara why do you say such things? I do not know if what you say is true. I won't lie by saying that you are not a target, you very well might be. What I will say is this; If the Mage is coming for you we will be there to stand beside you Lara. Let him come I say and let The Mage face the full power of the Guardians and the High Priestess against him!"] Lara was a Guardian and as such Rhuarc would stand beside her no matter what, if the Mage sent an army after her then Rhuarc would be with her on the Battlefield, if the Mage captured her Rhuarc would hunt day and night to find her again, if The Mage brought the Fade, the Necromancer and Malik himself after Lara then Rhuarc would face them all in order to help Lara. [b "Worry not Lara, if he comes for you then we will be ready. Myself, Adimar, Saraya, the priestess and Carrick will all be by your side. You have my word."]
Hour after hour passed uneventfully, occasionally a watcher or messenger ran past them on their way to do one thing o another but no one tried to gain access to Aria's chambers, periodically Rhuarc opened the door a fraction, only enough to see that Aria rested still and was alone and unscathed. One one occasion a few guards came just as Ursula had said they would and true to his word Rhuarc still refused to leave his post by the High Priestess's door and soon enough the soldiers departed again seeing that there was no point in staying seeing as the door was already guarded by those far more capable than themselves. Rhuarc tried to let his mind search for any serpents within the city to aid them in their search, to learn if they had seen anything that the Watchers had missed but unfortunately the city of Kil'heed had no snakes within it's walls and those in the mountainside could tell him nothing of what was going on with the Mage's plots. There was no use pursuing the matter, they did not understand names the way that humans did so asking about Gigi would be fruitless. After his meditations he once again looked in on Aria, thankfully she was still asleep and unharmed and as he closed the door once more and turned around he came face to face with one of the Watchers...Luther.
The Jai Guardian studied the Watcher and stared into the other man's eyes, he cut an impressive figure, tall, muscular and incredibly handsome, something Rhuarc would never be. Strong, rugged and dependable but with the number of tattoo and scars covering his body he could never be described as handsome. There was something in the Watcher's eyes that he distrusted but he could not place what it could be, Rhuarc had taken a disliking to Luther since they had met in the platform after they had completed their trials. [#1473b7 "Greetings Guardian. I wish to check the Priestess' chambers and ensure that no harm has befallen her."] Luther made to step forward, assuming Rhuarc would simply acquiesce to the request from the Watcher without thought but the Jai did not move an inch and his gaze became harder if that was even possible. [b "I think not. Lara and myself have been watching closely and can assure you that the High Priestess is in no danger at least not while we still stand guard."] A look of mild irritation flashed across Luther's flawless features for an instant but was gone so quickly that Rhuarc questioned whether it had ever been there in the first place. [#1473b7 "I mean no disrespect, I only wish to be of aid."] [b "Then be of aid elsewhere, you are not needed here."] Rhuarc's hand rested on his belt knife just as Luther's hand rested upon his longsword belted at his hip, every second seemed an eternity before Luther flashed a brilliantly white smile and relaxed, removing his hand acting as if nothing were amiss. [#1473b7 "A word of warning Guardian of Jai'hash...I would be careful of what enemies you make."] [b "Be on your way [i Lieutenant]"] Rhuarc's voice never wavered but he put as much derision in that last word as he could, he knew that he had no control over the Watchers but he was Aria's General after all and even if it was petty it felt good to outrank the man. Rhuarc watched the Luther depart and turned to Lara. [b "Tell me, what do you make of him?"]
Adimar was pleased to hear Rhuarc and the rest of the group agree to a meal together. They made their way back into the Sanctum where they were escorted to a dinning hall to eat. Food had been prepared and was waiting for them. There were plates of poultry, other game, and plenty of colorful vegetables. None of them hesitated to dig into their food and begin eating. Adimar couldn’t speak for the others, but he knew the moment he smelled food, he was starving. He was taking a bite of his poultry when a Watcher came in and informed them that Saraya had been attacked. This concerned Adimar as it was the second time she’d been attacked, and confusing as well. From the looks of it… the Mage was more concerned with getting Saraya than he was Aria. What was this Mage up to?
He, like the others, jumped to their feet to follow the Watcher. Already the warmth and laughter that had echoed in the hall was now gone. Fading away as quickly as it had come. Adimar wanted to see the prisoner, but he wanted to make sure his fellow Guardian was alright as well. Thad, Rupert, Max, and Ayab all made their way to the prisoner to ensure nothing more happened until either Adimar or Rhuarc could go down and deal with it personally.
When they came to Saraya and Carrick’s room they were shocked by the site of what they saw. Carrick watched over Saraya’s sleeping figure when they entered. Rhuarc asked exactly what Adimar was thinking: What had happened here? Carrick unfortunately did not have a readily available answer. Only that he knew Saraya had been attacked. Thankfully, she would live and was healing no thanks to Luther’s limited healing abilities. Rhuarc stayed the least amount, once Carrick assured him that Saraya was well, he made haste to take up watch at the Priestess’ door.
Carrick felt a twinge of guilt, knowing that it was his place to keep watch and guard the Priestess not Rhuarc’s, and yet he had been doing as The Priestess asked. Keep watch of the Guardians. He was failing at it, or maybe he was underestimating their enemy. Whatever it was, it made him feel guilt for failure to do what was expected of him. Carrick thanked Rhuarc for his kind compliment and it made the weight of his new sword seem heavier than it really was.
Adimar saw this and reached out to comfort the man as Rhuarc made his exit, but was stopped when Lara decided to depart following after Rhuarc. Adimar had watched her go long enough to ensure she had gone to either their companions in the dungeons or up with Rhuarc. He was pleased she chose the latter as he didn’t foresee her enjoying any time with the prisoner.
[i “I have a headache…”] He heard Saraya say, but Carrick was there to hold the raven haired beauty and help her sit up in her bed and mentioned he would get her some water. She then asked where Gigi was and Adimar frowned, he’d never heard that name before, but it must have been someone who knew Saraya. Perhaps it wasn’t the Mage who had attacked her. Whatever the attack had done though, it had changed Saraya. What that change was, Adimar could not put his finger on it, and instead the room remained silent as Saraya warned that Gigi could not stay and that the Mage’s power had found its way in with Gigi as a host.
“Why does the Mage want you so badly?” Adimar asked breaking the tense silence.
“I have been wondering the same,” Carrick added his voice dark and upset by the turn of events. However, none of them were prepared for the words that tumbled from Saraya’s lips. The Mage wanted to use her to carry his seed. It would no doubt create a creature of great power and possibly evil. It was a sobering thought, and added a heightened liability to their mission. Thankfully, and shockingly -that would never come to pass, for Saraya revealed she was already carrying a child. Carrick’s child. The look on the man’s face was priceless, and Adimar chuckled to himself. Carrick stammered with confusion as to how this was possible when they’d been sleeping for the past six months. Saraya’s explanation was a difficult one to swallow, but with the revelation of her powerful father, it made sense.
That wasn’t all Saraya had to say or do. She wanted to see this ‘Gigi’.
“I don’t think that is wise. You were just attacked,” Carrick tried to warn, now knowing that his lover was with child he seemed to take on a more protective stance.
“Luther Healed her though,” Adimar said, playing the advocate. “I’m on my way to interrogate the prisoner. Lady Saraya, you are more than welcomed to join me.” Adimar’s invite caused Carrick to toss a frustrated look his way, but Adimar was undeterred.
“She’s pregnant, she does not need to be down in those dungeons.”
“You’re right, she is pregnant, but not an invalid,” Adimar teased. “She knows the man we have in custody, and if she has a way to sever this bond the Mage has made with Gigi, then we should let her.”
“I know,” Carrick frowned.
“Lady Saraya clearly posses some Arcane power, we should see what she’s capable of,” Adimar suggested. Carrick looked to Saraya with deep concern for her well being and reached out to take her hands in his. It was a tender scene.
Carrick held Saraya’s hands in his own and kissed the knuckles before he looked her in the eye. “Since I have meet you I’ve been given blessing after blessing, and now you bless me with a child? I do not feel I am worthy, of you, a child, or your love. I will strive everyday to be worthy of you, and I can not wait to meet our child,” He finished with a happy smile before he claimed her lips with his own and held her in a tight embrace. He didn’t want to let her go, but Adimar was right, Saraya had powers that needed to be explored and trained. Currently there was no better person to help teach Saraya than Adimar.
Carrick bid Saraya to follow Adimar, but made the man promise to keep her safe, which Adimar easily agreed to. The Volshi Guardian offered Saraya his arm and escorted her from the room to the Dungeons. Carrick turned to Luther and expressed his need to build a platoon of guards to protect not only the Priestess, but the Guardians as well. It was official: Nowhere and no-one was safe from the reaches of Malik and his goons.
[right [pic http://i68.tinypic.com/wioj5u.jpg]]
Ursula had been keeping guard outside The Priestess’ room for the past few hours. She had eaten her fill and fallen asleep quickly. Ursula had kept watch knowing that just because she was safe inside Kil’heed did not mean she was immune to any possible dangers able to sneak in. Rare, but not impossible. Not a sound emerged from the Priestess’ room as Ursula kept watch, but after many hours she did hear the coming of footsteps. She spied the Guardian of Jai’Hash making his way towards her. Ursula had heard of the attack against Saraya, she was privy to all things happening in this fortress, but it did not pull her away from Aria’s door. If anything it made her stand watch more vigilantly.
She said nothing as Rhuarc came to stand on the other side of Aria’s door silently. He stood much like she did, arms crossed and waiting -no, daring someone or something to even try getting through this door. To try getting through them. She took the time to look at him again. Back in the Sanctum he had reminded her of Jai’Hash himself, and now she was more certain of it than before -that Rhuarc was much like the man Jai’Hash had once been. Jai’Hash, Ursula was certain, had been slightly taller, with darker skin, and a more persistent scowl. Despite all those minor differences, it didn’t take away from how Rhuarc was just as imposing and impressive as Jai’Hash had been.
They stood in silence for several long moments before Ursula heard another set of steps and spied Lara coming their way. Ursula pushed away from the wall and gently pushed the door open to peer inside and show Rhuarc and Lara that Aria had not been compromised. Sure enough Aria was face first in her pillows sleeping soundly. “She still sleeps, and I assume she will remain that way through the night. I fed her some soup laced with a sleeping powder. It should ensure she has a dreamless and restful sleep.” Ursula informed them both. “I will send another round of guards to relieve you when the regular guards change shifts,” Ursula took one last look at Lara who moved to stand on the opposite of Rhurac at the door and she grinned. She was pleased to see the Guardians were devoted to their Priestess, and that the youngest Guardian was stepping up eager to prove herself and to learn. She finally bid them good evening as she closed The Priestess’ door and left the hall to attend to other duties.
Lara felt extremely at ease when Rhuarc and Adimar came back. She had felt the urge to sneak off and listen in on the conversation, but with Adimar and Rhuarc present she knew she wouldn't be able to do it; she wasn't upset about it. On the contrary, Lara knew that someone had to counteract her 'sneak where she wasn't supposed to' impulse, so she wouldn't get into the trouble.
At the mention of the deal offered by Adimar's father, that was quite a shocker. So someone didn't believe that Aria was the Priestess? If she had had her way in dealing with this impudent disbeliever, Lara would have taken him by the scruff of his shirt, and dragged him all the way to where Aria was. And it was a good thing that Lara wouldn't have her way, as doing that would cause some severe problems between her and Adimar, and she had promised Adimar not to do anything stupid.
But at the same time, Lara had a big urge to go around the airship, preferably by herself. But Adimar, knowing her habits, expressed told her not to go snooping in or around the airship. Lara paid careful attention, as Adimar was of Volshi and that meant he knew what he was talking about anything Volshi related. She even heard Rhuarc chuckling about it, although Lara felt somewhat unsettled by this chuckling as she wasn't sure how Rhuarc was thinking about her 'sneaking off's'.
Food. That would be an extremely smart idea, seeing as she, Rhuarc, and Adimar hadn't had anything solid to eat or drink for six or seven months. Heck, even Lara's stomach rumbled at the suggestion of food and drink.
Lara followed Rhuarc and Adimar back to the fortress, where their group entered into a room with one huge table. Various foodstuffs were presented, as well some drinks. Lara sniffed some of the drinks gingerly, looking at all of them suspiciously until she came upon one which smelled like something she would have drunk at home. She poured it cautiously into a cup, and then drank a small drop from the cup. It had a bittersweet taste, but it felt alright and didn't seem, at least to her, like she would be immediately dying. As to the food, there was so much to choose from. Being from Fenlyck, Lara first noticed the fish and took some of them for herself. She ate slowly, for she didn't want to overwhelm her stomach which hadn't eaten such rich food for a few months.
The mini-feast was all fine and well until a Watcher approached, and informed them of a grave development. She couldn't believe what the Watcher had said, hell she didn't even want to believe what the Watcher was saying. This place was supposed to be a safe heaven from the evil creatures under Malik's control, but this gave proof that it wasn't the case. The shock of the realization almost caused Lara to vomit the food she had just eaten.
They all rushed down to where Carrick and Saraya were, worried and anxious as to the current state that the two of them were in. She, Rhuarc, and Adimar entered Saraya's room, and there stood Carrick in a fine suit of armor with a fine sword accompanying the armor. There was a blood trail, what in the deep seas had even happened in here?
Lara scanned the room, sweeping left to right, up and down. All there was a trail of blood, a thick trail of it. Lara just couldn't imagine it, she felt confused and disoriented.
Rhuarc took charge, suggesting to Adimar to go look at the prisoner while he himself would guard the priestess. To her, Rhuarc offered a choice which she didn't act upon. Lara had thought that this place had been safe. But if it was safe, then how had Malik's evil minions had gotten into this fortress in the first place?
Lara left the room, she didn't want to think about it anymore. It was all a garble of confusion. Blood, no safety, attempted killings, panic bordering on anarchy. From one crazy world into another, from the frying pan and into the fire.
Lara found herself in front of Rhuarc, and walking closer to him. She stepped to his right, and decided to stand vigil with him, since she did not now what else to do at such a time.
And then, then a thought came to her head, and one which she spoke aloud. [+purple "I'm next, he's going to target me next....."]
[center [I [size30 ❇❇♥❇❇]]]
Dawn came, and Giji was being nursed and watched closely. The dungeon that was the infirmary was making him feel claustrophobic, but he would rather this than to do The enemy's bidding. He hadn't made eye contact with any of the Watchers, knowing that it would be met with murderous eyes. He hadn't counted on this much, but it was this, or wonder when the next time he had awakened he would see blood on his hands, the blood of Saraya, The Caledonian.
In his mind, he cursed. He deserved this for ever agreeing to him, a contract that could not be broken... The Mage tricked him... But, he was going to find some way to release himself from that fate... Even the Watchers wouldn't give him information on Saraya's wellbeing. Oh, Gods... He hoped he hadn't killed her. He hoped that she could wake and beat him to death... That would be a better repentance for his deceit.
[I [center [size30 ❇❇♥❇❇]]]
Saraya was confused by this Spirit. Why would her temper be a obstacle in honing her skills?
[I [center Because you or more than just a chosen Guardian, Saraya... So much more...]]
[I "What do you mean? "]
[I [center Do you know what 'Prya' means?]]
Saraya stared at the Spirit as he stared back. It was though he was peering into the very depths of her soul, and it slightly frightened her.
[I [center What The Priestess spoke was true, you have a direct connection to me as a Spirit carrier, which is a far deeper connection than any other... But, there has to be blood ties for a Guardian to fully sync to The Spirit... It is rules to The Holy Council...]]
This confused her even more. What was he saying?
[I [center My love... I will finally reveal your truth...]]
He stepped away from her line of vision, and the vast whiteness of her subconscious began to haze into a throne room. It housed six seats, and a podium sitting in the center. The seats were filled with beams of light, while a shadow engulfed figure standing at the podium. Conversation was hard to make out at first, it was in an unfamiliar language, one she knew was ancient... As she listened, though, she began to hear the words clearly, and to her surprise... She understood them.
[center [pic https://i.pinimg.com/736x/08/eb/af/08ebaf412e74a77749389b9858f751cd--demons-gay.jpg]]
[b My lord Council...] A deep, earth bound voice spoke. [b I propose a wager of war is upon us. I plead to the Council that we use the Fallen soldiers to protect our walls...]
Saraya looked to The Spirit [I "Caledon, is he... "]
[center [I Hïgäsçá... The Dark Horseman... The reason why the darkness within you was so strong...]]
Saraya looked at his puzzled look before looking back. The Horseman was looking to the beams of light, who spoke so deep, it shook the throne room.
[b [I We appreciate you bringing this matter to our attention, Hïgäsçá... However, no enemy has breached our walls. The heavens are to bring peace to the humans. Only the guardians are allowed on Earth]]
[b [I There will be no more negotiation. We let the warriors sleep in peace]]
Saraya looked to the Horseman as defeat was written on his face... She walked behind, watching as the horseman has turned away from The Heavens.
[i [center He turned away from The Council, turned away from The Light that night... If he had no home, he'd used his abilities to mold his own army and kingdom on earth...]]
The scene in her head had changed to see the Horseman trailing the skies. Be was standing above Kil'heed, watching something... Or perhaps someone.
[I [center After we left Kil'heed, going to Fenlyk territory to help them with the temple, he sought out Malik. As a Watcher, he was powerful, always sought justice. Until The Horseman took him, looking for a general to manage the souls. It was The Horseman's greatest mistake...]]
Saraya understood then. Malik was given the power to summon the dead from the Horseman. As a way for him to help manage the army while the Horseman sought out able bodied men... Fallen men...
[I [center But...]]
Saraya looked to the Spirit as he started...
[I [center After we all died, The Horseman forbade our souls be taken. Even then, he knew that there could be good use for us watching our temples, despite his desire to be leader of our lands... My son grew to have a daughter... Her name was Ari, headstrong, stubborn, and perfect. She bowed to no man after my son had died. He had grown ill after his wife had passed giving birth to her. So, like you, she was alone... Cared for by the priests... And then, Hïgäsçá found her... And along with it, he fell in love.]]
[center [pic https://i.pinimg.com/736x/ca/0d/36/ca0d367a918025f78481514709038775--bohaterowie-anime-anime-art.jpg]]
[I [center Ari knew what he was, but she fell for him, too... He had even sealed his powers in human form to be with her. When she found out she was carrying his child, she forced him to make a choice. Either build his armies, or live in peace with his family... He chose his family... And Malik was outraged. When your mother gave birth to you, Malik attacked while The Horseman could not defend his family completely, and when he tried to stop him, it was too late... Malik killed Ari.]]
The scene started in the night. A pained sound came from a small home they had built in the hills... In fact... It was the same place her home was. She saw the Horseman in his human form, pacing, anxious.... She looked to the door as a cry called, and the midwife opened the door moments later. The horseman hurried in and disappeared. Saraya hurried behind, sliding in to see him knelt to her mother's side, both smiling as hard as they could. Ari was holding her newborn in his arms and hugged the both of them with tears if joy staining his lashes.
Suddenly, a dark force appeared behind her. The young Malik, fresh blood of the power had appeared into her sight, and her father, out of shock, shielded his family from the menace
[b You betray me... For love? For this abomination?! How could you!]
His creator tried to reason, but Malik used his power and sent him flying. Ari was holding the baby in her arms in fear. Malik stared at her before forcing a shackle on her neck, arms, and legs. Without a word, her baby was snatched, and tossed into a dark corner. [b You will pay, wench] rung in Saraya's ears as he forced the building to crumble. She escaped the house... But her mother and her infant self didn't seem to make it. From where she stood, she turned and watched as the home crumble, and as she watched, her heart crumbled with it.
The Horseman had stopped running, and was standing next to her, his eyes expressing shock. Tears ran like waterfalls as he begged The Gods that she wasn't dead.... He ran to the ruins and Saraya followed. He frantically threw stone and debris around until he got to a body... Her mother... She heard a sob escape him, pulling out her deceased body and hugged her tight. Tears threatened to fall on Saraya's account. The Horseman begged the Gods, but no answer... Except a infant cry. He turned and rummaged through the rubble to find an orb... Saraya was alive. He picked her up, calming his precious daughter down in tears as he picked up his wife.
Saraya watched as he buried her. And he said something. [b You've given me a name... Sayan... I wish to name our daughter... Saraya... In honor of your love and bravery, and my courage to do the same...]
Saraya felt her heart tighten as his human form had began to break apart and his true form appeared. He picked up his baby in tears.
[b I'm sorry, my beautiful creation. But, I must keep you safe. I will be sure to keep my eyes on you, my daughter... For no amount of power can withstand your ability to love]
Saraya felt her heart warm as he began walking. Saraya looked to the spirit as she tried to wipe away tears. [I "He... He wasn't evil. Was he? "]
[i [center He never was evil. My love, he needed love, as you do. He then took you to the priests of Caledon, before shamefully retreating into the shadows... Malik had taken over... To this you are facing now... Egos, The Mage, Even your Felliope are lost to his power. Your father and mother dwell, waiting on your rise to defeating Malik, and I hope you will too...]]
The spirit noticed that Saraya was in tears. She watched the scene and felt guilt, anger, sorrow, despair... She now knew who her parents were... What her bloodline was... She was a force of nature than none could tame but her... And that both gave her relief and added fear to her chest.
[i "Oh, Gods... The Horseman is my father... And my mother was your granddaughter... Oh, Gods"] Caledon closed his eyes, gathered up her hands and pressed them to his mouth. [I "Oh, Spirit, forgive me... I am so sorry, I will never, ever, lash out blame on you like that again. Just do not give up on me."]
She slid her hands away from his grasp to wrap her arms around him and pull him in close to her. The Spirit found himself stroking her back and beginning to gently sway her in a comforting hug. This was not Saraya. This didn't even sound like her. The warrior in her was just not bot able to save her heart . Her ragged breaths were thick like she was trying not to sob. [center [i Saraya? Tell me what is wrong?]]
She shook her head no, and swallowed hard.
[I "How am I supposed to feel with this news? It still baffles me, so! I am a Dark Horseman and Guardian?"] she said, trying to reach whatever was torturing her own mind.
[center [I Saraya, my love...]]
Now he was worried. She tried not to stiffen, but every male instinct in him whispered, a woman breaking down like this just because she got read for going out alone and persistent need to know why, meant...
This time, he shook his head no. [I It is not your burden, but your bloodline, Saraya. It is not a curse]
She sighed and rubbed his back harder. [i "I did not think that I was a Prya and a Banshee. I am a half blood. This is not but scary all together."]
He nodded quickly with his head buried against her shoulder. [i It was only a taste... some of it may have been the trouble now. It was meant to realize why I asked for you to manage your temper. It was not meant to scare you. I swear to you, I do not want you to make the same mistakes your father has done because your temper resembles his character clearly]
[i I know, I know,] he whispered as she began to sob. [I It will be alright. Carrick has come with a healer. Wait a moment more, then you can wake, okay?]
[I "You think... I mean, i will remember this, right?"]
He held her away from him, summoning an inner strength that came from his very bones in his grave. [i You have choices. You will remember, and you will slip, but you will not fall.] He wiped the dampness away from her face. [i Unless it becomes a problem, I will keep this promise between me and you; you have to have someone you can trust. Especially now, with every Guardian's concern for only Aria, The Priestess. It is me and you, one unit.]
He covered her hand with his and stared at her through wet lashes. [i Carrick will know...]
For a moment, she didn't know what to say to him. True terror filled her eyes, and it was the first time in her life that she'd fear the enemy.
[i I've got your back, as I always have] he said firmly. [i No more wandering alone, no more easy targets, you feel shaky, you come to me and Carrick and we'll fight through this together. Yes?]
Again, she nodded quickly, and blew out a long breath. [I "I was afraid that I might not even be able to pray after..."] her voice trailed off and she sighed again. [i "After how things happened."]
[i How bad did this make you feel, exactly?] he asked, gently probing for critical information. When she looked away, he touched the side of her face. [I Saraya, look at me. Was it your father or your blood ties to me? Tell me, love?]
[I "It wasn't any of that, to be honest"] she said on a heavy exhale. [I "I am just afraid of how it would affect my son..."] She looked away from him after the admission. [i "Aria was right, so were the others. I must do what I must to make sure this world and our priestess is safe."]
The Spirit let his breath out hard and kept his voice firm but his gaze gentle. Her squad was still on-point, the upcoming threat notwithstanding. Clearly, so was she. But seeing this broke his heart. This had to be what she'd been visioning, feeling, dreading for months - not just the trial problem. It was time, also, to change the people, places, and things that could lead her to change into that demon, but he couldn't drop that responsibility at Aria's and even the Guardians' feet. In an odd way, they were also family.
[i Saraya, I'm not scaring you, but I want to tell you what I know. All right?]
[I "Yes, Spirit, anything you know that can help me kill this side of my nature."]
[i First of all, your father has been watching since your signature was realized. He watched as you became a lover to Carrick... Even that night when you and he mated, was he there. He put a spell on you, so your child wouldn't be in harm's way. He froze the development so to buy you and him time. Now that your power is realized, his spell had broke. Remember that always. It is alien to your God-spirit, and you must separate it from the true light within you.] he thrust his chin up, his eyes blazing with righteous determination. [i You were chosen to be a Guardian. A Guardian is not perfect; there is only One Supreme Being that owns perfection. However, a Guardian is the vanguard of justice.]
He placed his hand over her heart and slowly allowed to let fingers trail over her womb. [I "A Guardian must be strong, is not to be sequestered from the world at large, but has to have the inner strength to stay on the path and to walk through the hells and Heavens of Earth... has to be able to dig deep within to summon the courage to do the right thing always, to walk where angels fear to tread, and go down into Hell, if necessary to free the innocent, one's own life the last concern.]
Saraya stared at The Spirit before kissing her forehead. [I Your child and you will make it. I promise you, my child...]
Tears fell as she saw the loving side of him. He then slowly backed up. [I Now wake, my love... And be the Guardian Carrick and Aria, even The other Guardians need. I am proud of you]
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Saraya's eyes shot open suddenly. She hadn't moved yet, for her newborn eyes began adjusting to the light. Her senses were heightened tenfold, and unknown to her, her appearance remained the same, yet she felt completely different.
Her eyes flashed a crimson hue before returning hazel. The jewels embedded in her skin sent a shiver up her spine, as if a charge ran through her. She could hear everything... See everything... Smell everything... Her third eye had finally opened. Her gifts from the Dark Horseman had taken root.
She closed her eyes. His powers came so fast. Too much at once. So fast, nausea crept up. She sat up and looked to her belly. An ancient insignia of her handed down power. She was now full fledged Prya.
Her heightened senses picked up a conversation between two Watchers and Carrick. It was about Giji. She could smell The Mage's signature in the air. It smelled like burning wood and sulfur. Her eyes flashed crimson again. A slight tingle in her belly was a dead giveaway.
She saw one of The Watcher's eyes spot her before the other noticed. Carrick turned to see her sat up, covering her body as she rubbed the mark of the dove glowing silver over the middle of her chest. Saraya had noticed the armor... It was the old armor Malik once wore... When he was a vessel of justice... It fit him very well. She was impressed.
She could even smell that the others that were just there. Rhuarc must've went to protect Aria. It was a good move compared to what she could see. Lara was hidden off behind the doorway, and Adimar must've been here, but either went to accompany his kin or investigate the situation. She could tell, because the smell of ancient armor stained her nose.
She began rubbing her head. [I "I have a headache"] she muttered. Her instincts flared quickly after a few deep breaths.
Warning bells in her head urged Saraya to leave, her legs felt restless as she did, longing to find Giji. Her senses were acute, and she could smell the demon who marked him. It was his only way to be able to watch the activities of the Guardians.
She had to see Giji for herself. Such insanity had to be nipped in the bud.
She hadn't noticed, but she was smiling. It was a dangerous smile, and within them were fangs that just ached to be used.
It faded as quickly as it have came. She managed to slide off the bed and stand. Her naked form was blurred because of the sheets she dragged with her body. Carrick could see her back, and the way it tapered down to the lovely curve of her hips. He could see her strong arms and part of her legs. Her limbs were long, full and supple and nicely muscled. Her belly had just the right feminine curve, but it had a bump to it. Her hips was wide, perhaps from her first...
[I "Antulïé"] [I He comes] she said simply in Caledonian. She managed to scan the room before her third eye opened and she could see the dark energy trailing and spreading along the halls. [I "Where's Giji? "]
[b "He's... Under heavy guard... In the infirmary"] one of the Watchers said, slightly caught off guard by the way her voice sounded.
Saraya's voice was seductive as if a spell was laced within every word and if anyone within her area heard her voice, they would fall under her spell, but it was also stern. Her hair fell everywhere, and she stood as if a Queen. [i "That won't be enough, Watcher. I smell and see The Mage's magic. Its spreading along the halls. The Giji cannot stay here"]
She began walking to the wardrobe, finding new attire. She found a garment, and slid it on. Her hair was pulled through and lain just right. As she put her sword in the holster, she began to explain after that important question was asked.
[I "He looks for me. The Mage's purpose is to create an heir, possibly use my power to be greater than even Malik... But, I suppose you know this already... "] she looked to the Watchers. [I "He doesn't know anything about me finding my truth... And that his seed will never be"]
She looked back to Carrick to see a confused look on his face. She sighed before revealing the most vital of information. [I "He can't make me carry his child... Because I'm already carrying our child..."] His face shown shock. The math didn't add up so she explained further.
[I "My father was there when Felliope and the baby died. The horseman had put a spell on my womb making it barren until my true love came along to break the spell. The night when you came back from the battle of Tanaka... He was the one who gave us that fit of desire. That night he allowed our infant child to be conceived. He put a spell on me again when Egos and The Fade attacked us at the doorstep of Kil'heed, pausing his development through the trials... The baby hasn't been harmed, only preserved up until now with Giji. He allowed my father's power to awaken... "]
She stared at his shocked face and took his hand. [I "I want to confront Giji... The Mage is attached to him... And I want to make him weak"] she said, crimson eyes appearing with a dedicated and sinister look on her face.
Rhuarc's gaze never wavered from Lord Aethon for a moment as the Jai studied him, the noble considering his answer to the terms that had been laid before him although in truth it was more of an ultimatum than anything else. Either he accepted these terms or he would never meet the Priestess. Adimar seemed particularly delighted at how uncomfortable his father had been made to feel and then congratulation him on his recent appointment. Rhuarc was honoured to have been chosen but he couldn't help but feel that Adimar would also have made an excellent General and the Jai wondered if the Volshi Guardian was dissapointed not to have been chosen. [b "The War has already begun. That choice was made long ago by Shade-stealer."] The two men descended the battlements to rejoin the group of Thad, Max, Rupert, Lara, Ayab and the man who was with Lord Aethon to begin with but as soon as Adimar's father left the battlements he swept away with the other man in tow leaving the three guardians, Adimar's men and Ayab alone. Adimar delivered the good news about receiving an airship although he did give a particular warning to Lara for her not to try to sneak aboard and have a look around. That made Rhuarc chuckle, Lara's skill at stealth was great and it had served them incredibly well as they made made their way from Tanaka as it was her that was able to find suitable places for the company to camp and rest. Rhuarc was willing to bet that Lara could make it up to that airship, have a look around and make it back without anyone ever knowing. [b "Food sounds good friend."]
It didn't take so long for all of them to make it back to the Fortress where there were now various servants in livery performing their duties and making the place as presentable as possible and one of them pointed the way to a large feasting hall and assured them that the cooks were on duty and able to provide them with whatever they required. It was only now that they sat down and he drank from a mug of al that Rhuarc realised that he hadn't eaten properly in six months...Adimar was right he was absolutely starving. Presented to them were various meats, they looked to be small birds as they were plentiful up in the mountains, a few platters of goat meat and various mountain river fish. It was an appetising feats that everyone devoured, it was reminiscent of his own homeland in a way, in the Wastelands honeyed and salted meats with bread were just about the only things that was ever eaten, on particular holy festivals fish from the River Nine were allowed to be caught but otherwise it was a fairly dull culinary experience. The food was delicious and with ale flowing freely it was a most lunch. The conversation was leisurely and pleasant...at least until one of the Watchers approached them, it was an unfamiliar watcher that they had not met before. [#1473b7 "Guardians, soldiers. I am Percival, The Lieutenant has instructed me to find you. It seems that the Lady Saraya has been attacked and is injured. We have the culprit in chains, it was curious as he confessed to the crime and handed himself in."] Rhuarc felt as if he had just been struck by a hammer, they were meant to be safe in Kil'heed how had they been targeted here and why had it once again been Saraya.
The news had completely changed the mood of the room and they all went to do their duty. Ayab, Max, Thad and Rupert went to where they were told the assailant was being held while Rhuarc, Lara and Adimar followed the Watcher towards where Carrick and Saraya's quarter's were and found the Caledon Guardian, and the one time blacksmith, now wearing ornate armour and a new blade at his hip, while Luther conversed with one other Watcher. Rhuarc's eyes took in the scene and tried to assess what had happened, clearly the wound was serious given the amount of blood present in the room, one towel was already stained crimson and there was a trail leading from the door to the bathtub, it looked like she had collapsed there after the burden of the stab wound had become too great. [b "What happened here? How is she Carrick?"] Rhuarc was led to believe that this place was a safe heaven, that the likes of the Fade and the Mage's vile touch could not reach them in this sacred city. The priority was obviously making sure Saraya lived and received the care she needed in order to heal from this threat. A cold dread filled the Jai as his mind went to Aria, asleep and resting unable to defend herself if there was another assailant...did the attacker they had in shackles only confess in order for the rest of them to lower their guard? It was a risk they could not take. [b "Adimar I think it would be wise if you went to see our prisoner and question them. Lara you can either stay with Saraya or go with Adimar the choice is yours. I am going to the Priestess."] As Rhuarc turned to leave he paused for a moment and spoke once again to Carrick. [b "The armour suits you Carrick. You wear it well."] With those passing words Rhuarc left to position himself outside Aria's door as a guard, protecting her from any other threats yet reticent to interrupt her rest despite the situation at hand.
Carrick hurried through the halls, but he soon realized that the Holy Septum did not house as many people as he thought it might. It had been left empty and abandoned with no staff, and a small collective of Watchers to keep its hidden treasures safe. Carrick stopped his aimless running after sprinting down several halls with no luck, and looked about the area defeated.
“Hello?!” He shouted into the quiet and lonely hall. It wasn’t entirely lonely, he could have sworn he felt some strange presence watching him. It wasn’t Caledon, or anything malicious, but it was observant. Looking around once more, Carrick saw nothing, until he turned around and shouted from shock. There standing before him was Luther. The Watcher looked him over in his new uniform and armor, but made no inflection of approval.
“Need something?” The Watcher asked. Carrick nodded his head and quickly informed him that Saraya had been injured somehow, that she was in need of a doctor, but he had no idea where to find one. Thankfully, Luther was willing to help him. As it turned out, there was only one known doctor in the entire fort, and he was in the city tending to the people. “However, I have some healing abilities. I might be able to help you,” Luther informed and Carrick quickly accepted the aid.
They found Saraya exactly as he’d left her, laid on the floor and wrapped in a towel. Already the blood had seeped through to stain the fabric. The wound was revealed to Luther who looked it over and removed a glove from his hand. “It looks clean… like a stab wound…” He observed. Carrick could only growl in response.
“This is the second time she has been targeted. I do not understand why. Can you help her?” Luther assured him he could and pressed his hand to her wound. His powers worked to mend the skin and bring the tissue back together, but his abilities were limited and the rest would be up to Saraya’s body to heal. However, that was not what shocked Luther, for when he touched her he sensed her powers. He could feel the strength of Caledon, her ties by blood to his ancient line, and something darker.
“What is it?” Carrick asked seeing the odd look on Luther’s face.
“She is Prya…” he said almost incredulously. Luther couldn’t quiet believe it himself.
“Prya?” Carrick asked.
“It means she is a direct descendant of Caledon himself… Caledon’s great grand daughter if you will. She has all that was once his.” Quickly Luther turned to Carrick and grabbed the man by the shoulder. “Tell me who else knows about her bloodline,” Luther demanded.
Carrick frowned, he’d never been asked such a thing before. “If anyone knows about it, the Priestess would know. Even I was not aware-“
“Well someone is, or they would not be so foolish as to try and kill her. I sense Caledon’s powers within her, and something… darker as well. You would be wise to stay close to her,” Luther informed.
“She must have wandered off alone. Damnit!” Carrick cursed looking down at Saraya, at least now her wound had healed leaving behind an angry red scar. “Always in pairs, we discussed this already,” He cursed under his breath. As if it hadn’t been made clear the first time she was attacked in Tanaka and Lara barely managed to save her. Not to mention what happened when The Priestess took her own little walk solo. Thankfully nothing had happened to the PRiestess, but it was obvious someone wanted Saraya dead, or worse… but why? Power? Or was it her close friendship with the Priestess that was perceived as a threat?
They were interrupted by the Watcher from earlier who had helped Carrick pick out his armor. “Lieutenant!” he called from the hall. Luther left the room, allowing Carrick to pick up Saraya and tuck her into their bed so she could rest, and listened to the conversation between the two Watchers outside the room. From what Carrick could gleam, they had the assailant in custody and he had confessed to the crimes, along with working with the Mage. Carrick’s hands fisted so tightly the leather of his gloves groaned in protest.
“I do not understand…” Carrick hissed under his breath, but both Watchers heard him and turned to look at him. “Why would the Mage want her?”
“Power,” Luther stated plainly as if that were obvious. “If he’s targeting Lady Saraya, it is for power. She can be a vessel of great good, or the vessel of great evil… it all depends on the seed planted inside her.” At that, Carrick’s head snapped up with rage and understanding. “I wonder if the Mage wants her for personal reasons not to do with Malik, but for himself… at lest now you know you have bait with which to catch him.”
“Over my dead body,” Carrick growled. He refused to allow that to happen to his precious Saraya. He’d gladly sacrifice his own life for hers -for any of the Guardians if he was being honest. He suddenly felt a greater sense of conflict inside him. Did he continue to carry the duties as Captain of the Holy Guard, or should he abandon them to care for and protect Saraya?
Lord Aethon could see the fresh ink imbedded in the Jai’s chest. The Sigil of the Holy Septum marked his skin, and he stood as proud as any warrior Lord Aethon had ever met. A Part of him knew that this man could definitely be a Guardian. He understood there was some Validity to the claims, he knew for a fact his son had been chosen by Volshi for something great. However, it left a jealous ire in him against his own son. Lord Aethon had once had plans for his child, but with the truth came acceptance that his son would probably never take the High Seat as King and Sky Lord of the Volshi Empire. The one thing he’d always wanted -belonged to his brother, and his son did not want it. With a glance to his son, he knew he had no leverage here. He didn’t show his displeasure and instead offered a curt nod of his head in understanding. For their sakes, he hoped this girl was the Priestess and that they truly were the Guardians.
Adimar wanted to grin from ear to ear at the look on his father’s face. He hid it well, but not so well from Adimar. Rhuarc had put his father in a hard spot. Rhuarc had done plenty of wonderful damage to the man’s ego to keep Adimar grinning for a long while.
“I thank you, General for offering to speak to her. I trust your belief in her, but I must make certain she is who she claims to be. As it stands… she is technically a Criminal of the Four Provinces under Malik’s rule.”
“Since when has Malik’s Rule affected how we make decisions?” Adimar asked incredulously. Was this a ploy?
“It doesn’t, but to house her in our lands makes her a liability and your Uncle will not back a False Prophet.” Lord Aethon warned. Adimar frowned and looked to Rhuarc, damnit all, but his father had a point. “You know as well as I do that the armories and bastions of the Volshi Empire are prepared and ready for war. Your Uncle has sworn he will not lend aid to anyone other than the Genuine Priestess. I believe you, but I need evidence and facts, not faith.” Lord Aethon looked between both of them and gave Rhuarc one last nod of respect before he made to leave. “Good day gentlemen, I look forward to a summons from her Holiness,” and with that the elder Aethon made his way down the battlements.
Adimar sighed, buzzing the air out from between his lips and wearing a comical pout. ”I did enjoy watching him squirm when you told him how it was going to be,” Adimar chuckled. “For that, Thank you a thousand times over, Friend.” He clapped a hand to Rhuarc’s shoulder and finally leaned over to examine the tattoo upon Rhuarc’s chest. “She really appointed you to General, huh?” Adimar asked and grinned slyly up at Rhuarc. “She must have finally realized we will have to go to war to win this fight.” It made him wonder what she’d seen in her trials. A General is only appointed by a priestess in times of war. He began to descend the battlements with Rhuarc and rejoin their group. “Now let’s tell the others the good news about our new mode of transport,” Adimar grinned back up at the Volshi Airship. Despite his father’s coming, Adimar was optimistic, and rather proud of himself for finally getting the upper hand on his father.
Thad, Max and Rupert were all ready to listen to Lara’s story while Karrot looked up at the battlements like a lost puppy. When Ayab spoke about his wound there was sympathy from Adimar’s men for they had never encountered such a persistent wound, and they had witnessed Ayab’s struggles with the wound. It was shrouded with dark magic, and caused true alarm in the others. If Malik’s henchmen were this powerful… how powerful was he? It was a daunting thought to contemplate. As brothers in arms waiting for their man to return from the Trials, the three of them had kept an eye on Ayab, certain to have his back should the need arise. They all greeted Adimar and Rhuarc when they returned to the group, shocked by the news about the Airship. Adimar’s men quick turned from excitement and shock, to trepidation. They wanted to know what Lord Aethon wanted for it, because nothing came for free with him. Adimar and Rhuarc explained to the group that they had received an Airship, and they hoped to convince Aria to speak with Lord Aethon.
It seemed things were looking up for them, and while they all wanted to tour the Airship, they knew they’d have to wait until it was officially given to them. Adimar even made a point to look at Lara directly and though he smiled and was proud of her abilities, he reminded her of her first time in Tanaka and how Volshi Soldiers didn’t take well to people snooping and spying. “I see the curiosity in your eyes Lara, and while I fully support refining your stealth skills, trying to get on one of those ships, is not. Please, do not attempt to sneak on board one of them. I cannot help you like I did last time, if you are caught,” Adimar warned, but it came from a place of genuine care and concern for their youngest member.
There was not much else for them to do except to enjoy the reconstructed fortress and its city. They had to wait for Aria to wake up before they could speak to her and commence with the meeting. Part of Adimar was anxious to being traveling as soon as possible. He didn’t want to sit and wait around, and he knew Malik wouldn’t either. “I don’t know about you guys, but I’m starving. Anyone care to join me in finding somewhere to eat in this place?” he asked opening the invitation to everyone.
Carrick, meanwhile… was less fortunate than his comrades to enjoy the afternoon…
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