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Carrick wasn’t the only one who sensed a dark presence. Aria felt it, and could sense Saraya cry out in fear. This presence was not as powerful as Malik, but it was familiar and dark, and she knew it well. She had spent her entire day topside, basking in the warmth of the sunlight, and learning how to fly the ship. With the Captain’s permission, of course. For once she had been left to her own devices, to do as she pleased, and by the end of the day she was all smiles. Her smile seemed to be contagious as the crew members she met and spent her time with that day couldn’t help but smile with her. The dark presence was the only thing that was able to wipe her smile clean off.
Aria didn’t hesitate to drop everything she was doing and hurried down below deck to see to Saraya, but she was cut off by an equally rushing Carrick. He charged into the room, with sword drawing, having heard Saraya call to him, having felt her fear and repulsion.
“Saraya!” He called quickly seeing she was alone, he sheathed the Harbinger and wrapped the shaken guardian up in his arms. Carrick did his best to calm Saraya. She showed him what had happened and Carrick felt his blood boil.
“No more hiding this, it’s time to tell the others,” he demanded of her, but she was desperate not to let that happen, claiming the Mage was her problem. Carrick wouldn’t budge from his decision.
“It’s not your problem, it’s ours... it’s everyone’s. A Guardian in danger, means all of us are in danger. I will not hide this any longer,” he told her, but he could see she was still shaken, unsure, and in a need to calm her he wrapped her in his arms. “Come here,” he had whispered to her, and tucked her safely against his chest.
Aria politely remained in the hall, but she reached out for any lingering powers of the Mage, sensing none she knew he had truly left... for now. She made a mental note to be better prepared to when the Mage was foolish enough to make himself known. From Saraya and Carrick’s room she could hear the soft murmurings of Carrick as he calmed Saraya, and though she knew she shouldn’t she peeked into the room and saw the tender scene. Carrick had dipped his head to claim Saraya’s lips, and he held her with a ferocity that dared anyone to take her from him. Aria wondered what it would be like to have that... in all honesty... she’d never so much as been kissed, or had a man hold her hand that she wasn’t sure she would even know what to do with that sort of affection. Seeing she wasn’t needed she stepped away from the room giving Carrick and Saraya their privacy, not to mention that her joy for the two of them was only marred by her own impervious loneliness.
Inside, Carrick scooped Saraya up into his arms and carried her back to the bed where he laid her back down. He drew the sheets up to her shoulders and kissed her brow, look of supreme love in his gaze, but a seriousness that implored her to understand.
“I love you, and our unborn child, and that’s why I’m going to tell The Priestess what’s been happening, the full extent of it all. They need to know... I’m sorry,” he whispered. Moving to stand up he promised he would have food sent to her, and that while he wished to stay by her side, he had duties to preform and if she desired he would see if the Priestess would be willing to sit at her side. Personally, he couldn’t be more anxious for Adimar to cast his protection spell over Saraya. Without the protection of Kil’heed, the Mage was getting dangerously brave in his assaults.
He made sure to close the door softly behind him but he wasn’t anticipating the Priestess to be standing at the end of the hall looking guilty.
“Priestess?” She lifted her head to look at him.
“I’m sorry, I felt the Mage’s presence, and nearly walked in on you two kissing...” Carrick actually grinned, a slight blush painting his own cheeks.
“Ahh well... the Mage was here, you weren’t wrong-“
“I know, I heard.” She frowned. “I had wondered how sever it was, now I know. She’s not alone, Malik torments my thoughts, my dreams... not even my prayers are safe from him.” Carrick frowned at that, wondering how it was possible that these monsters were able to get so close to the most vulnerable of their group.
“Would you mind sitting with her? I know I have no place to ask such a thing of you.”
“She’s a guardian, and she is my friend. I will keep her company until your return. Oh and Captain, perhaps it would be wise to appoint a personal guard to Saraya. A member of the Holy Guard will be fine. See to it that it is done.” Carrick had no room to argue, not that he would, as he agreed entirely with her.
“I will see it done.” Aria gave a nod of her head and watched as Carrick left to return back to the group meeting.
Aria slipped into the room and found Saraya back in her bed. There was a short stool sitting against the wall, and Aria dragged it over to be beside the bed and sat down. Aria knew she didn’t need to say anything, and so she reached out and took Saraya’s hand and held it tightly. There was a long moment of silence between them before she finally spoke, her words soft and understanding.
“You’re not alone, Saraya. We’re all here for you. Trust that we are stronger together than alone. I sensed the Mage’s presence, and Adimar is closer to finding out what it is the Mage plans to do. I’ve also told Carrick to appoint a guard to you. I will not hear argument either, it is my command, and my decision is final.” She frowned, hating that it had to come to this, all these extra precautions, and the developing Paranoia. The major difference that was while Malik could contact her through whatever bond they seemed to share... The Mage had the ability like the Fade to actually be where his enemies were. “The next time the Mage arrives, I want you to use your powers against him, call for us, and we will help you fight him off. For now...” Aria smiled and brushed stray strands of hair from Saraya’s face in a motherly way, “Try and get some rest. I’ll be here, I promise. Let me try protecting you for once.”
Carrick had been topside going over proper etiquette in regards to The Priestess and her safety when Ayab had called on him to meet with Rhuarc. Carrick nodded in understanding and turned to dismiss his men, when he was approached by Max, who was quickly becoming Carrick’s most trusted man. Now he understood why Adimar had been slightly letdown that Max had decided to serve in the Holy Guard. He had said he was suffering a great loss, but Aria would be gaining a tried and true soldier.
“I’ll stay topside and keep an eye on her.”
“Good, and if you see him, remind Master Luther that fraternization with the Priestess is strictly forbidden. He should know better,” Max nodded his head in understanding and Carrick’s last view of the top deck before going under was Max sitting on a barrel and sharpening his blade, his eyes solid on Aria as she looked up at the masts and rigging with childlike curiosity.
He made only one stop to collect Adimar and take him with him to the meeting with Rhuarc, and he might have gone for Saraya but she was in dire need of rest. She had to sleep and eat for two now, and he wanted her to take care of herself. Healthy mother meant healthy baby, and Carrick would be remiss to admit that he was excited, when in truth he was over the moon about the prospect of becoming a father.
Rhuarc seemed highly pleased when Carrick entered to hear what he had to say. The maps had been delivered as Carrick requested and he was glad Rhuarc had found some time to go over them. He spoke about Lara being able to help them since it was her homeland. They would need help to navigate Fenlyk, as it was mostly wetlands with large streams of water, and lakes leading to its coastline where past it were more islands. Rhuarc had an idea though, and Carrick awaited as the man took a steady breath.
[b “We overthrow Malik!”] he proclaimed before going into further detail that they would take his hold on Fenlyk away from him. Rhuarc suggest implementing a coup and Carrick’s eyes lit up with excited agreement.
“Brilliant,” he muttered under his breath. “What do you suggest?”
[b “If the people like us, want to help us then Malik and his men will never be able to find us, win the hearts of the people and you will never be betrayed. How to do that is a mystery but that is my plan.”] Carrick stroked his chin in thought, but had a quick answer for that.
“I don’t think getting the people to like us will be difficult. That task can be left to The Priestess. We saw how Volshi rallied behind her with little to no effort on her part. Lara can help in that endeavor as well, being one of them. The Priestess also made a comment that Balden is in Fenlyk, hoping to bolster the resistance.”
He listened to the remainder of Rhuarc’s words, gathering his thoughts to make his suggestions. [b “Stay with me and figure out how best to achieve this and we will both do our duty, you to protect the Priestess and me to winning the War. Unless you have a better idea?”] The door opened behind them and Lara rushed into the room. Carrick was stunned for a moment, but Lara wore a look that had him on edge.
[i"I am done, but we are not done.”] Carrick glanced over to Rhuarc, but before he could say another word, Adimar finally arrived to the room and smiled at everyone completely unawares.
“Fancy seeing you all here,” he joked. “I hear we’re plotting and scheming some shenanigans.” Adimar glanced over at Lara, giving her a look, and his grin slowly vanished. “You look like you just finished some shenanigans.”
“What’s happened Lara?” Carrick dared to ask, and was regaled with how Lara, per Rhuarc’s request, had gone snooping in Luther’s room. Carrick clearly didn’t approve, but Adimar chuckled with no comment, leaving his stance on the snooping to himself. He wandered over to the maps, picked up a pencil and began to mark known locations of Malik’s camps, per Volshi intelligence. Old forts and towers had been turned into barracks for Malik’s men across the four provinces, but the largest was in Fenlyk.
Whatever Lara had found though would have to wait until they had finished making their plan, and Carrick called the attention back to the map. “You’ll have to let me know what comes out of this. I don’t condone spying on a man, let alone a member of the Holy Guard, but if you both have qualms about him, then I will hold judgement until I know of your findings. But first…” he tapped the map. Adimar seemed to agree and finally pointed to an island off the coast of Fenlyk.
“I read in one of the tombs from the Archives that this is supposedly where the Medici resides… but this whole trip is for nothing if we can’t get to the Fenlyk Temple. It’s in the heart of Fenlyk’s Capital.” he tapped a city on the coast not too terribly far away from the Medici’s island. Astoria City was the home of the Fenlyk Temple, its Capital, heavily fortified with Malik’s men.
“There’s another way in,” Carrick suddenly said. “If I recall correctly, there is a Burrow, somewhere in these marshlands, just outside of Fenlyk’s capital, Astoria.” He circled an area with his finger. “That should have the entryway. We can’t go through the original temple in the city. Malik destroyed most of it and sealed it off when he came across the land to claim Central City. Hopefully, Malik hasn’t sealed it entirely, or time hasn’t crumbled the underground passageways. I suggest staying in one of these outcropping villages around the city, or making camp in the swamplands. The threat of animals will be high, but there won’t be any people there.”
“Just night creatures and bad spirits...” Adimar murmured warily. “I don’t like this, we’re outnumbered a hundred to one right now. What do you think Lara? This is your homeland.”
Carrick suddenly tensed, sensing Saraya’s fear, and quickly excused himself from the table, leaving Adimar, Lara, and Rhuarc to finish their planning if there was anything left to plan. “When we get closer, I will use my gift and send my hawk down to scout the area,” Adimar offered Rhuarc. “We can see the land without having to take the ship too low. The crew will drop us off at the coast to see the Medici, and we’ll have to send the ship North to safety until we can meet up with it in Caledon.” Adimar still couldn’t shake a dreadful feeling that this was bound to be the most dangerous leg of their trip. “So what did you find in Luther’s room?” Adimar asked mischievously.
Rhys crept along the dark halls of the ship until he reached The Priestess’ room. His Master would have a better chance of getting to her if he had something that was of value to her, or belonged to her. The only problem was as he reached the room, he saw the door was already open and sitting in it was the Volshi Guardian. Rhys could sense the power leaking off of him in waves, and he knew that this man was his only rival in the arcane arts. He had to tread lightly.
He poked his head around the door and looked in, the Guardian had his back to him, and was cross referencing between three different books, and jotting down notes on a scroll of parchment.
“Can I help you?” The Guardian suddenly asked, meaning he was perceptive of his surroundings. Rhys straightened and stepped into the door way.
“Oh, I was just walking by, I’ve never seen so many books before.” The Guardian looked up from his research and over to Rhys and looked him over. “Why do you need all those books?”
“It is for my research. I am Adimar, who are you?”
“Oh, I’m just the cabin boy. My name is Aerik.” Adimar looked Rhys up and down, perhaps slightly confused.
“You do not look Volshi. How did you come to serve on this ship?” Adimar asked. Rhys maintained his composure and simply grinned.
“I was just a kid when I was found on the border. I must have wandered away from my tribe.”
“Jai?” Adimar asked looking him over once again. Rhys nodded his head and for the first time, answered a question truthfully.
“That’s what they keep telling me. Two spinsters took me in and raised me. Then I managed to find employment here.”
“Huh... Small for a Jai, you must be from a northern tribe. Do you know what tribe you hail from?”
“Not a clue.” Rhys answered. “This is the Priestess’ room isn’t it? What are you doing in here?” He asked changing the topic quickly.
“It’s where all the books are.” Adimar stated simply.
They were suddenly interrupted by Carrick who poked his head inside the room. Rhys studied the Captain of the Holy Guard, there was an aura around him that was oddly familiar to Malik’s. It was intriguing. What was this man? Was he also an ancient? He sure did resemble one.
“Pardon me lad,” Carrick addressed Rhys, and looked to Adimar. “Rhuarc and I are going to go over maps. We want to get a base plan put together for Fenlyk. Join us?”
“Certainly,” Adimar said. “Are you going now?” Carrick gave a nod of his head, and Adimar assured the captain he would be there in a moment.
“See you there,” the Captain said before taking his leave.
“Duty calls, my friend,” he said and placed a marker in his book before he got up and shimmied out of the room. “Nice to meet you Aerik,” he tugged the door close as he stepped away.
‘You too,” Rhys said, sure to make himself sound start struck and watched as Adimar walked away leaving the room unattended. He too walked away, but only enough to make it seem he had gone off to do his duty before he circled back around and slipped into the Priestess’ room.
He closed the door behind him and looked around. Careful to step over the books and not disturb anything as he made his way to the bed. Out of curiosity he took the pillow and sniffed it. Lavender and Lemongrass reached his nose, which led him towards a knapsack. Opening it he found nothing but a pair of rolled up stockings, a hair brush, a folded Volshi shawl, and a small coin purse with no more than ten gold coins. Rhys frowned, how was it that a woman of her caliber owned nothing? Not even a nightgown, ribbons, or change of clothes. She had nothing he could take to send to Malik. There was nothing of value here. Defeated he stuffed her worthless things back into her pitiful patchwork bag and put it away exactly as he had found it. He searched other places, such as under her pillow, and under her bed. He even checked the drawers beside her bed, but found nothing. Hearing a noise in the hall he quickly snapped to attention, stilling in nervousness. It was time to leave. He’d spent enough time in her room already, and could not linger any longer. He made haste to leave the room, checking that the coast was clear before he grabbed his mop and bucket and started up the steps to mop the deck. He’d send word to his master that The Priestess owned nothing of true value to her, and then wait for his next orders...
Adimar hiding behind the pages of books? Wait, hiding was the incorrect word for this situation. If Adimar had been hiding, then Rhuarc and the others would have been concerned by Adimar's absence. But since none of them were concerned, that left only one other option: Adimar was attempting to glean some piece of crucial information out of the books that would help all of them fight the menace of Malik.
But Lara felt concerned for Adimar. Yes it was important to find any useful tidbit that would help them defeat Malik, but one still needed to rest. Doing anything for extended time periods was not good for one's body. Lack of sleep and sustenance would tire the body and have a bigger impact as time went on. She'd ask about that before asking what she wanted.
So that was who Rhuarc had been fighting. It all made sense now. Rhuarc was still breathing somewhat hard, adding the fact that there was a small cut with some blood as well as the somewhat shine off the skin from the sweat. Luther being a Watcher and with many years of experience under him, Lara knew that Luther was one of those who could have fought Rhuarc like that. She even smirked.
She had not know that Luther would be coming, but she had seen Luther come on board as a last minute change. She distrusted Luther, but she had no way of getting him off the ship.
And it seemed Rhuarc distrusted Luther so badly that he, Rhuarc was asking her to be a sneaky little cheeki breeki and stick her nose into Luther's personal stuff and sniff out anything fishy or any other bad smells. It did feel morally wrong to go through someone else's stuff without asking their permission, but they needed information on Luther and knowing who he was working for without telling him.
Rhuarc did tell her about somethings to look for, but it was not anything specific. But that made the hunt that much more interesting. It felt as if she was the bird swooping down and plucking the unexpected fish out of the water.
Lara waited for Rhuarc to walk away. She felt extremely happy that Rhuarc had said to her that he trusted her. Those words had not been first, somewhere in the middle, or somewhere behind the last words. Those words had been the last words, the very last words, that Rhuarc had said to her.
She looked around, as if enjoying the beautiful view of the sky and ground, before slinking of below decks.
Lara quietly walked through the hallways, she had never any trouble walking with naught a sound to be heard. Her breaths were light and quick, and she was on alert for any sound that happened nearby. So far, she had into nothing and no one. It seemed so deserted down here.
She had crept up to Luther's door, and stopped. Leaning against the wall with her back, she grapevined with her feet up to the door and put her ear to the door. She heard no sound coming from the other side. Looking around once again, she opened the door slowly. Peeking through the ever expanding hole, Luther was not in his room. Slipping in quickly, she closed the door.
She was alone, without permission, and maybe there were possible traps. If Luther was truly hiding something, then there had to be traps. Lara could only hope to be not caught by no such trap.
First thing was the trunk at the end of the bed. It had no special design to it, it was simple wooden trunk with inlaid metal around the edges. Opening it, Lara knelt down on one knee and began carefully shifting through the contents. She took everything out and carefully stacked the items around her. Honestly, everything that she found was completely boring. Clothes, money, some weird looking stone, books, some weird piece of clothe, and a few other items. Out of those, there was only one item of interest, a piece of strong paper that was written in a weird language. Lara looked at it from every possible angle, but not a single clue popped out. It would have been useful to take it to Adimar or maybe even Aria, but she would have needed to explain what she had done. And the other negative side to it was Luther would quickly see that someone had been through his things.
[i [+purple Fenlyck?]]
[i [+blue Up to no good as usual?]]
[i [+purple Ignoring that fact for now, can you see what I see?]]
[i [+blue In a way, I can. But why do you ask now?]]
[i [+purple I only need for you to commit this to memory, so I don't have to take it.]]
[i [+blue Hmm..... I see... You can put it away now.]]
[i [+purple Thank you very much]]
Lara mentally bowed to Fenlyck, and began to carefully put everything back away in the trunk so it looked like before. Closing it, she stood up. Where was another place to hide something?
Lara looked suspiciously at the bed. The next best place to hide something would be under the mattress. Lifting up the mattress, Lara found herself breathing somewhat hard and sweating lightly; the mattress was somewhat heavy. But, what was that small dark thing lodged between the wooden planks supporting the mattress?
Leaning down with an outstretched hand, Lara swooped with her hand and picked up the unsuspecting fish: a dark pouch with something in it. Lara lowered the mattress, and stood as she untied the strings of the pouch.
The first item was a book, opening it up it was revealed to be written in the same hand and in the same weird language as that piece of paper. Along with the language, there were maps and pictures. The pictures were of a little girl, who suspiciously looked like the young version of Aria. In one of the pages, there was lodged some old cloth that looked as if it had been white.
Flipping the book, journal, back to the beginning, Lara again asked the spirit of Fenlyck to memorize it. After flipping through one page at a time, Lara put the journal back into the pouch and took out the second item.
It was a ring. But the moment she pulled it out, she knew it was no ordinary ring. It felt warm to the touch, a very pleasant warm. It also shined, and showed off something engraved into the stone. But something else was off about this ring.
She could hear a voice in her head, a metallic and screeching voice. It was attempting to convince her and put it on her, promising to stop this screeching. Lara was tempted, but the spirit of Fenlyck butted in.
[i [+blue DO NOT PUT THAT ON!! That ring is made of a fallen star, and is not for you to wear!]]
Lara listened to the spirit of Fenlyck. After that one talk with Fenlyck, Lara trusted the spirit and was more inclined to listen. Taking out a very small satchel, Lara stuffed the ring into it before putting away the satchel into her pocket.
As to the pouch, Lara put that back from whence it came. And was hoping for an easy escape.
But footsteps coming from the hallway and coming closer to this door. She could not be caught by anyone. Lara slid under the bed, and crawled to the very back corner of the bed. Turning on her side so her front was facing the wall, Lara covered herself as much as possible with her black cloak.
The door opened, footsteps, door closing, and more footsteps. Lara could only impassively stare at the wall, and hope that whoever was in the room would not search under the bed. Lara closed her eyes and prayed to whoever to help her hide.
She knew nought how long passed, but eventually whoever was in the room left.
With her heart beating hard within her chest, Lara breathed one heavy breath after another. Long, hard, and slow breaths, for a total of 300 breaths. Lara counted each and every one of those breaths. She needed to get out of this room, and back to Rhuarc.
She slid out from under the bed, quietly scrambled out of the room, closed the door, and walked out quietly. She felt somewhat scared, glazed, and a whole mix of emotions.
Making it back out onto the deck, Lara walked to the edge and leaned on the wooden railings. She let the fresh air circulate in and out, calming herself down. She still felt somewhat shaken, she needed to talk to someone; she needed to talk to Rhuarc.
She went to Rhuarc's room to wait for him. But there was no need to wait. Lara heard the loud outspoken voice of Rhuarc talking to someone. She only heard, [b "protect the Priestess and me to winning the War. Unless you have a better idea?"]
Right after Rhuarc finished, Lara walked into the door and slammed it closed with a jerk of her hand. Looking around, there was Rhuarc, Ayab, and Carrick.
Lara looked Rhuarc in his eyes. She felt as if she had eaten some bad fish, but she looked with a steely gaze. [+purple "I am done, but we are not done."]
And it was as if events repeated itself. As soon as a person ended talking, someone else walked in. This time, Lara stopped talking and Adimar walked in.
[center [I [size30 ❇❇♥❇❇]]]
[center [I In a dream...]]
Saraya tumbled onto the sand, clutching her double edge sword, her body so sore that she could barely get up. Her ripped garments were back on, her smokey bow and arrows were on the ground, but somewhere along the chaotic tumble, she couldn't find anyone. She looked up at the hills, the group ready to fight, Carrick standing at the ready with a sword in hand.
He cleared the the ship's side in one fluid jump. Swords lowered. The sky was lit with thunder and lightning in a display that rivaled any display she had ever seen. She was crying harder than it was raining by the time he reached her. A torrential downpour and hurricane-level winds made waves slam against the beach in an ominous warning. Carrick hugged her hard and she groaned, and then nearly passed out from the pain.
Carrick half-dragged, half-carried her into the ship with one arm, both of their blades cutting into the sand as they walked. The team parted as Carrick looked at her jaw in disbelief. He dropped his blade where he stood once he truly saw the bodily damage she'd sustained, and he took her sword and angrily cast it away with a loud clatter.
Water streamed onto the floor from their drenched bodies, placing them in a huge, spreading puddle. Their garments clung like second skin and his eyes searched hers as he studied the large, purple, angry bruise that had begun to make her cheek swell. Blood still ran from her nose, and she sniffed it back. Carrick's eyes darted downward to look at the deep talon gouges in her arms, and then he saw her blade arm and finally freaked. Saraya shivered, going into mild shock.
[center [b Oh, Gods... get a towel, some ice, somebody move!"]]
He swept her up into his arms and hustled her over to the bedding. The bewildered group moved like the wind, bringing the supplies Carrick had bellowed for them to bring while Aria ransacked her bag with shaking hands.
[center [b " Adimar, seers, healers, medic! Get over here!"]]
Carrick was on his knees on the floor beside Saraya, his palm hovering over Saraya's swollen belly, silver tears of rage in his eyes. [b "My love, it's gonna be all right. I'll take the pain, Aria will clean out the gashes. Adimar is gonna do his magic and help you. It's all right."]
But, it wasn't alright... As she tried to look down, Carrick refused it. She needed to see if she was completely alright. Her body was too numb to know physically. [b "Saraya-"]
[I "Let me look, Carrick"]
[b "I can't, Saraya... You'll pan-"]
Saraya let out a disembodied growl that signified her disdain for the effort. [I "I CAN'T FEEL ANYTHING! "]
Saraya finally forced herself to look down, and the sight even stopped her breath. Because of the fall, her body numbed, but as water trickled into a puddle, she saw droplets of blood fall into it. She started to panic. Everyone that had arms used all the strength in them to keep her laying down. But, even the grip of her father couldn't keep her down. Carrick was beside Aria, and they were begging her through her still ringing ears to calm down, but panic escalated to pain, and she threw her head back in a scream.
[center [I ☀☀☀☀☀☀☀☀☀☀☀]]
Saraya woke up with cold sweat. She turned her head to see the time outside... It was sunset. She sighed as she tried to move. She carefully moved to the side, looking at the dying sun as the ship slowly glided across the open skies. Carrick was still top side, along with everyone else. She supposed she should be the only one down there, considering she needed the rest out of everyone there... Well, everyone needed rest, she was just in need of rest.
She sighed to herself as she tried to wait on her Carrick, but something eerie came over her... Like something was watching her. Her ears rung in alarm as she slowly sat up. She looked left and right, seeing an alarming amount of shadow in the room. Against her better judgement, she called out. [I "Carri-"]
A hand smothered her lips as a scream threatened to escape her throat. A tremendous amount of force crushed her to the bedding, and Saraya cried out from the impact. Sulfur and burning wood filled her nostrils. The Mage!
Out of the shadows he appeared, a deadly stare in his eyes as he stared at Saraya from above. [I "You must think you're so clever, using my magic trick against me"] he growled. His tongue licked a line from her jugular vein to brow, and Saraya, for the first time, felt helpless. She watched as an evil smirk twisted upon his lips as one of his hands began to touch her naked limb. She squealed in fear, knowing his intention.
[b "what say we play a game"]
[I C... Carr...]
She needed to call to him... She needed to call to him now!
[I Carr... Carri...]
[b "Your precious Carrick can't save you, whore... I will get what I want..."]
Saraya was crying now. Aria has to have felt this during her trials... How she feels as Malik visits her... She began to panic and started trying to fight against his strength. His free hand was dangerously close to what belonged to Carrick, and something made her panic overflow. She materialized her bow and arrow and in tears of fear and of anger, forced it between them, and The Mage backed away quickly.
[I "I FORBID YOU TO TAKE AWAY MY CARRICK'S MARK! "]
She cried out to Carrick in her mind, praying to the Gods that he came... The Mage's face twisted in anger before disappearing. When she was sure he was gone, the bow and arrow disappeared and as it did, Carrick ran in, and saw Saraya acting as though profane and evil things had touched her. Try as he might, she couldn't be calmed about it. [I "He tried to... "]
He hugged her and calmed her some, only to ask her what it was... She thought a moment... She didn't want to worry him, but she never lied to Carrick... And she wasn't starting today to. [I "I... Had a nightmare... I had awakened and... The Mage... He was here... "] she looked to him with bloodshot eyes. [I "he... He..."] She dropped her head as she revealed it to him in his mind from her memories, and felt the clammy hand of his trail up her thigh to his territory. Angry as he was, he couldn't let his Saraya be in a panicked state. Saraya was shaking, clearly terrified. When was going to call the others, she grabbed onto him. [I "N-no, Carrick... I can't tell them! "] but, Carrick wanted to let them know of the danger she was in. [I "I can't, I can't alarm them any more than I've already have. The Mage is my problem"]
Carrick stopped her, explaining her problem was THEIR problem, and she looked away. She could smell his apex over tge sulfur and burning wood, but she was still too shaken. Carrick saw this, and with a sigh sought to relieve her pain... By writing over The evil touch with his, and by taking away the memory with a new one. He would do anything for her, but he had to tell the others. For now, Saraya needed a moment's peace
The sparring session became a little more public than Rhuarc had anticipated but it seemed to impress upon the new recruits the standards that they would be held to if nothing else and it served far more importance to Rhuarc, assuming that Luther had been performing at his peak during their bout. It gave Rhuarc an insight into the Watcher's ability as a fighter, his strengths, his weaknesses and his temperament. He was skilled, of that there was no doubt but as they had fought a chilling comparison dawned on the Jai Guardian. Luther's fighting style had been eerily similar to Malik's during his Trial of Desire. In truth there might be nothing to that as Rhuarc had not actually fought the mad king, it had all been in his mind so maybe the False King fought differently, or maybe it was simply the training that all Ancients received, there was any number of explanations but it still made the Jai nervous. Luther was better than Rhuarc had hoped and no worse than expected, Rhuarc still did not like nor trust Luther but he was too good a swordsman to turn away from the Holy Guard, Rhuarc would simply need to trust in Carrick and his other men and keep an eye on the Watcher. Rhuarc barely saw Aria peek her head out from belowdecks and rather irritatingly Luther was over far faster than Rhuarc would have thought possible. The Jai made a conscious decision to ignore the situation and let Aria do as she pleased. He knew that she wanted nothing more than freedom and to do as she wished instead of being guarded at every moment and while Rhuarc feared for her safety, even he could see that no harm could come to her on the airship. She was surrounded by allied, high in the skies away from any of Malik's eyes or ears he could allow her a modicum of more freedom. It would be his small gift to her. The Priestess knew of his misgivings towards Luther and when he caught her eye as the Watcher and the Priestess passed him he gave her a slight nod of greeting but nothing more, his subtle symbol that he was trying to give her what she wanted, what she needed. It wasn't much but it was all that could be managed for now.
As Rhaurc stood by the rail of the airship he was joined by a figure, and a welcome figure that it was. Rhuarc enjoyed young Lara's company. [b "Greetings Lara, Adimar? I've not seen him since last night, he must still be belowdecks in his cabin, no doubt pouring over books. That's all he seems to have done for the last few days."] Rhuarc gave a brief chuckle at her comment of his fighting, she obviously had not seen the sparring session otherwise she would have known that it was Luther but she was still able to piece together everything. Was it the small cut on his arm and the trickle of fresh blood? Was it his sill slightly heavy breathing? Was it the sheen of sweat that covered his body? [b "I was practicing my swordsmanship and Luther appears. We had a sparring session. Did you know the Watcher was coming aboard? You seem to know just about everything that goes on."] Lara had a habit of sneaking around and that habit could come in very useful, all her sneaking would mean that she could learn things that others could not. She could listen in and uncover details. [b "How would you like to do a job for me? While Luther is distracted with the Priestess I want you to sneak into his cabin and look around. Look for anything that he might want to keep hidden, orders from Ursula, documents, any secret books or notes...or anything more nefarious. I don't know what to expect, he might have nothing hidden but if he is I want to know about it. You know I don't trust him but I trust you Lara."] Rhuarc doubted that the Watcher would be stupid enough to leave anything lying around but if his orders were important enough...who knows what might be hiding away. If anyone could find out it was Lara. Rhuarc's physical exercise had been completed for the day but he still had a few mental acrobatics to complete, mainly planning strategies for Fenlyk, he would follow his own advice to Carrick and do his duty; he would find out how to rally Fenlyk to Aria's cause and help Aria win the war.
Rhuarc returned to his cabin, Ayab was sitting there fletching more arrows to pass the time, evidently he did not seem to care for the view atop the ship as much as the others did. Did he look a little pale? [b "Are you alright friend?"] Ayab gave Rhuarc a pitiful look before answering, [+red "I always preferred my own feet to anything else. Caravans were fine, but I hated the boats on the Nine... but this, this is worse than it all."] Claearly travel by ship of any kind did not agree with Ayab. Rhuarc saw that there was a stack of maps, and other papers sitting on a table in his room, clearly Carrick had someone drop them off for Rhuarc to study. The maps were easy enough to interpret although Rhuarc still could not believe just how much water there was in Fenlyk, it boggled the mind. The River Nine was the only great source of water in the Wastelands and no Jai Tribe had claim over it, so the Jai had to be inventive with their agriculture, and get any water from deep under the desert sands for their crops, it was hard work. Tribe Wars had been fought over small pools of water, blood feuds had started over puddles and shallow streams. Knowing that the sea and all the water of Fenlyk was out there was one thing, seeing it on a map was quite another and Rhuarc was sure that seeing it in person would be greater than it all. Rhuarc thought about the problem of Fenlyk, the biggest issue was that the people were submissive, the fight had been beaten out of them by Malik. No matter how well they planned or how careful they were if the people were against them then it was all for naught, without the help of the people Malik's forces would find them the day they set foot in Fenlyk. Rhuarc thought back to all he had heard of Lara's homeland, it had bent the knee to Malik first it was one reason they had so much [i Toh] to the rest of the Land but Ursula had said that since the Guardians had revealed themselves that resistances were springing up everywhere, even in Fenlyk. Rhuarc grinned, that was it, that was the key. [b "Ayab go get Carrick now!"] Ayab looked surprised at the sudden outburst from his friend but Ayab limped away above deck with an...unpleasant look upon his face but returned moments later with Carrick. [b "Carrick, excellent. I've been looking over the maps and i've had an idea. The specifics will need worked out, Lara could help with that she know her homeland better than us all of course and the two of us will still need to come up with how to actually achieve my idea...if it turns out that it's not utter madness."] Rhuarc took a breath. [b "We overthrow Malik! Obviously not the false king himself but his grip on Fenlyk. A coup, revolution, revolt call it what you will but we get the people onside and from there we strengthn our hand. If the people like us, want to help us then Malik and his men will never be able to find us, win the hearts of the people and you will never be betrayed. How to do that is a mystery but that is my plan. We get the people onside and overthrow Malik's grip on Fenlyk. That will weaken his hand and bring another Province to the Priestess' cause. Stay with me and figure out how best to achieve this and we will both do our duty, you to protect the Priestess and me to winning the War. Unless you have a better idea?"]
Aria watched and listened to Saraya’s story as it played out before her. The shadows danced, depicting Saraya’s words, and Aria couldn’t help but look back at the tomb and its illustration from before. Saraya claimed her father, the Horseman, was good. She also claimed that Malik was tricked into his position, which made Azera’s pleas to save Malik instead of destroying him all the more clear. Aria was hungry for more knowledge, to see more and know more, but sometimes the mysteries of the past, remained in the past. She could see all she wished from Azera’s point of view, but that wouldn’t help Aria learn Malik’s. Hearing that Malik was tricked by another made Aria feel remorse and sympathy for him… for only a moment. He might have been tricked into his position, but he hadn’t been forced or tricked to uproot and destroy everything Aria and the people of Azeroth had ever known. He had made the choice to slaughter innocent people, raid villages, steal younglings, and rule with an iron fist. He had made those choices, not some darkness, as far as Aria was concerned.
[i The only thing I fear is that you and I may have probable cause to any of Malik's henchmen of being taken... I won't let it happen so long as I breathe. And knowing I hold value to you, I find it best if I warn you before another threat comes. Azera will show you more on her side... By then, you will see Malik's beginning of his treachery... All I ask for you to do... Is watch and stay away from anyone and everyone that isn't the Guardians... “]
That was an uncomfortable request. Aria knew she was at risk of being taken, and Saraya for her bloodline, but Aria did not like the idea of staying away from other people. She craved human interaction from the time she was a knobby kneed teenager, looking out at the world from within her personal prison, and Elder Rigby had been her warden. So much of life had been stolen and withheld from her because of fear… Aria was tired of living in fear, and she was tired of being kept from the world. She remained silent mulling over all Saraya had said, and watched as she stood up to leave the room. Was it really already dawn peaking through the porthole? Aria sighed, she was bound to get grief for looking so tired. From the door, Saraya looked back and warned her that Malik only knew as much as Vera. That caused Aria to tense and she looked to Saraya.
“What did you say?” She asked, and when Saraya verified the name, she continued on her warning that if he learned more he’d be able to stop them. How had Saraya known this? Vera had been the old woman in Tanaka, and Aria had not seen her since that fateful day.
[i “If he can see our plans... I'm most certain that you can see his”] Aria followed Saraya with her eyes as she left the room and closed the door. For a moment she feared Malik would return to taunt her, but silence permeated the room and he was absent. Aria sat back and thought on Saraya’s words. She said much, including that there was another involved, her mind instantly went to Luther. She recalled from the vision that Luther had gone with Malik, per his command. It left a bitter taste in her mouth and left her to wonder more abut his intentions and why he had told her the things he had. Why had he lied? Were his intentions malicious, or was he trying to shield her from the truth?
The one thing that kept popping up in Aria’s mind was Saraya’s comment that Aria could be a mother… if they succeeded. Aria had tried very hard not to laugh at that. Succeed or fail, Aria could not do those things. Failing meant she was dead. Success was less easy to interpret, and she was beginning to wonder if the Rites of Azeroth shouldn’t end…. The people were getting caught in the middle of a hundreds year old power struggle, and it wasn’t right. She wondered if she should free the people and let the temples fall. Let the people lead themselves instead of following the Gods who had left them in the middle of this mess. It was a cynical and dishonorable thought, but Aria had begun to wonder if maybe, just maybe, all of it should end with her and Malik’s life.
With the sun rising, there was no hope of getting any sleep but that did not stop Aria from taking a nearby pillow she’d been sitting on and moved it so she could lay down on the floor. Surrounded by open books, Aria stared lazily at the ceiling of her room. Stay away, stay hidden, don’t interact with the people, keep inside, don’t wander off alone, stay out of the shadows, never accept food or drink from an unreliable source… all Aria heard from that was: You are a prisoner of your own fate. You are a slave to the will of Azera. It struck Aria that perhaps she was not her own person, they had said she was a reincarnation of Azera, they had said she was powerful; but Aria didn’t feel very powerful. She felt more like a pitiful child than a woman. She was constantly being coddled and held back from doing anything to truly help the Guardians, but as she looked at the books she realized she could at least help uncover more of the truth, and maybe… maybe she could learn some arcane tricks to help keep her safe, so to relieve some of that burden from the others.
Adimar knocked on the door before poking his head in and carrying a tray of biscuits, butter and salted ham for her to eat.
“Good morning, cousin,” he greeted warmly and came to sit down on the floor beside her. Aria only turned her head to look at him and tsk’d her. “You didn’t sleep,” he observed, setting the platter of food to the side.
“Saraya and I spent the majority of the night speaking about the origins of this whole mess. One we have been tasked with to clean up.”
Adimar studied the defeated look and tone of Aria and gave her a wan smile. “Sounds like you’re bitter about it.”
“Am I not allowed to bitter about this?” she challenged, receiving a chuckle from Adimar and a resounding show of support. It was Adimar’s turn to smile and he pulled on her arm to make her sit up, until she was nestled into his side so he could hold her. He knew what it meant to be like Aria, in a position of power… untouchable to others, and always hungry for human compassion and touch. As her only kin, he felt obliged to give Aria the familial touch and love she had lacked her entire life. It was just enough to help bring a smile back to her face, and he convinced her to eat a couple biscuits before she asked to go topside and see the view. Adimar stayed behind to pick up the research, and Aria ascended the stairs on her own to the top of the ship.
Carrick had woken up early with the rest of his men, missing Saraya as she had spent most of the night speaking with Aria. Which was fine, Carrick needed time to think over Rhuarc’s words, and his expressed advice he stick to his duty. His duty was to the Priestess, and many months ago she had tasked him with the job of protecting the other Guardians. That was fine, he’d do that, but he’d make sure Aria was heavily protected as well. They spent the better part of the morning watching the impromptu spar between Luther and Rhuarc, which had left his two new guards staring mouths agape. Even Max wore a wary expression as he watched them fight.
“Rhuarc is impressive, but Luther moves so quickly,” Max observed as the men fought. Carrick nodded in agreement.
“Rhuarc is methodical, but I think Luther is overly confident.” Max offered to make a wager with Carrick, but he wasn’t about to gamble over such an evenly matched fight. The men, Oohed, and hollered at all the right moments in the fight, and when it ended in a stalemate, Max laughed and Carrick only shook his head. If he had fought Luther, the way he had the others…he was sure Luther would have wiped the floor with him. The few times Carrick and Rhuarc had trained together, Carrick had barely managed to hold his own against the muscled Jai.
[b "You fight well, Watcher.”] They heard Rhuarc tell Luther, who only remained in place, unwilling to be the first to move.
“As do you, Guardian,” he said. Luther didn’t move until the other guards came to congratulate them on their fight and asked if Luther would train with them.
“Until next time,” He had said before walking away with the other guards. Carrick remained watching them take off, before he spotted Saraya, and heard her whisper into his mind about Malik and a potential spy on the ship, then she spotted Luther and he could feel her rage spike.
[i “Carrick, what is he doing here?”] she demanded. Carrick walked away from his place towards Saraya and began to explain to her the reasons.
“His commander allowed him to join us to help us, and he offered his services to serve on the Holy Guard. he’s quite skilled-“ Saraya didn’t care, and begged him to keep Luther away from Aria and the other Guardians. Did she distrust him that much? And if so why? “I don’t understand…” he tried, but she kissed him and his train of thought was derailed. “Mmm, that doesn’t answer my question,” He teased her under his breath, holding her wrist to keep her close. She finally told him that Luther was not meant to be with them, but Carrick had a hard time believing that. He was too skilled to turn away. In Carrick’s eyes, Luther was innocent until proven guilty.
He watched Saraya walk away, and couldn’t help but follow the sashay of her hips as she left him. “Damn woman… what you do to me…” he murmured and turned away to see that Aria was peeking her head up from the stairway that went below deck. Before he could reach her, Luther was there in a flash of light to greet her. Carrick watched the man for a moment, but saw nothing worthy of suspicion and let it go. He wanted to find Rhuarc and collaborate on the plan they discussed earlier. Maybe they’d round up Adimar and Ayab, along with Lara and Saraya to help formulate a plan. Lara would know Fenlyk best, and would know the best routes to sneak in and out from, while Saraya would be able to pinpoint a good place to meet up within Caledon and out of Malik’s reach it things went sour.
Rhuarc fought better than he anticipated. Luther could still feel the smack of steel on his back when Rhuarc got in his good hit. So in turn, Luther made the Jai bleed. Luther was not accustomed to being bested, and certainly not by a mortal like the Jai. He had relinquished his blade first, as he was sought out by the other Guards to ask for his help in training, but Luther saw something better show its face. He spotted her from across the ship and excused himself to greet the lovely creature who had finally come topside.
“Priestess,” He greeted warmly with a courteous bow. Aria turned to look at him and he could see the exhaustion heavy in her eyes.
“Master Luther, this is surprising. What are you doing on this ship?” Luther explained to her that he had been sent by Ursula, but welcomed into the Holy Guard by Carrick. He was certainly not expecting Aria to cite his previous employment. “So you have returned to the Holy Guard. I should consider myself lucky,” she said. Luther gave her a flawless smile and nodded.
“I thought my skills could be put to good use,” He held his hand out for her and Aria looked down at it and then to him. He smiled, hoping she would take it, even as he saw the hesitation in her lavender eyes. “Would you mind my company?” He then asked, and was delighted when Aria offered him a smile, albeit tired, and placed her small hand into his own. He quickly tucked it into the crook of his arm and began to walk with her around the ship. He asked if she had eaten, but Prince Adimar had seen to that. He asked if she slept well, but she confessed to staying up all night with Saraya and pouring over her research.
He kept her engaged in conversation as they walked laps around the ship, until she finally stopped on the starboard side of the ship and looked out at the world below.
“Where are we?” She asked. Luther looked over the edge with her and from the looks of it gave her his best guess.
“I would image we have passed into the Caledon Province by now.” She gasped from beside him, causing him to chuckle at her sweet naivety.
“So quickly?” She asked in awe. “Oh this is wonderful,”
“Ayab is grievously wounded. He needs to see the Medici in Fenlyk in order to be healed.” Luther frowned, as he didn’t quite understand the importance of someone like Ayab… or Carrick for that matter.
“Ayab is General Rhuarc’s companion, yes?” Aria confirmed it, but her eyes never left the scenery. “He is not a Guardian, he’s just a man-“
“But he is my friend,” Aria said turning on him with a look that did not allow argument. It was a look that was purely Azera’s, and it made Luther smile at her. “Friends are not something I have in abundance, and those that I do have, I intend to take care of.”
“Of course,” He stated simply.
“So why did you lie to me?” She suddenly asked. Luther steeled himself and glanced at her, from where they both hung over the edge of the ship and looked down below.
“I don’t know what you mean…” Luther lied, but Aria giggled softly, however there was nothing sweet about it.
“There you go again.. lying to me. What are you hiding Luther?” She asked turning to face him. “You told me Azera loved Jai’Hash… I know that’s not true.” Luther sighed heavily. He hadn’t anticipated her finding that out so soon.
“I wanted to protect you,”
“From what?” she demanded coldly.
“The truth. I was afraid if you knew Azera and Malik were… lovers… you would be under worse stress than you already are.”
“What is stressful, it having the truth withheld from me.” She warned him. “Malik was not also your friend… I know he was your brother,”
“You know nothing,” Luther suddenly whispered to her. He gave her a dark look, but Aria met his expression with one of uncaring. “Malik is no brother of mine. We might have been born from the same star, but that creature is no brother to me.”
“Still… the fact remains… that you lied to me, and you were stupid enough to think you could get away with it.” Suddenly Luther was chuckling, and he turned to lean against the railing of the ship and looked at Aria.
“You truly are Azera’s reincarnation. Not many could lie to her and get away with it either.”
“I can’t have guards who I can not trust, guards who lie to me. Do it again, and I will see to it, that you be disavowed.” Luther couldn’t argue with her there, and instead gave her a placating smile and bowed his head.
“Now get out of my sight, and don’t return to it, until I am ready to forgive you.” He observed her a moment longer, before he took her hand and kissed her knuckles.
“As you wish, my Priestess. Please just remember, I only did what I thought was best. Should you need anything, you have but to call my name and I will be there,” he whispered against her hand. She damn near ripped her hand away from him and his lips, but the look on her flustered face made him only grin that much more. She was going to forgive him, and for now that gave Luther something to smile about as he made his way back to the other guards
The sounds of climbing had stopped. She heard as two feet landed on the wooden floor of the crow's nest, one after another in quick succession.
And then all sounds of movement stopped. Except for the flow of air as the ship cut through the sky, there was silence. Lara could feel the eyes overlooking her back. She guessed that one of the ship's crew came up here as part of their job and had not expected anyone else to be up here. And how could anyone of the crew know about her up here. No one had seen her climb up, nor had she told anyone else of her plan of visiting the crow's nest.
She turned around, hoping to get a glance of the crew member who had come up here. But there was one problem. The moon was in front of her and behind the crew members back, which meant the moon shined on her in entirety and only the crew member's back was illuminated. The front of the crew member was left the same dark black as the night surrounding the whole world.
Lara shifted from one foot to the other, still waiting for the crew member to speak up. This silence between the two of them made for an uncomfortable feeling. She couldn't just leave the place, or else the crew member might think that she was an intruder. Lara had already dealt once with the consequences of intruding, she did not want to deal with that again; especially with Volshi, and Adimar had told her about how the Volshi dealt with intrusion.
This uncomfortable feeling had worked up enough that Lara was about to say something. But as she drew in a deep breath to talk, the other crew member beat her to it. A deep and calm voice floated through the night to her ears. Lara wished she could see his facial expression so she did not have to go off voice alone. It made her feel uncomfortable, but definitely not as much as when the two of them had been looking at each other in silence.
Another short moment of silence.
So she was right, he had not been expecting her. Lara emitted a small smile, it made her feel good from being correct.
And was that supposed be flattery? So someone had been eyeing her unawares, which reminded her of someone; Balden. But this person was not Balden, Balden was in Fenlyck and not on the ship.
Ah yes, they had not introduced each other's names. Aerik, an interesting and a very unique name. Lara beamed as she replied with her name, and accepted Aerik's offer for a handshake.
He had to be flirting with her. It made her blush a deep red colour in the face and close her eyes in embarrassment. She hadn't felt like this for awhile, she hadn't felt like this after Balden had left. It made her feel joyful, but it did make her question something.
Was she ready for another possible relationship? She had not realized it right away, because of her three years away from society, but a relationship had began to bloom between her and Balden. Yes it had not gone anywhere far, but Lara had wanted to continue it.
But here was someone, here and now, and who wanted to have a relationship of sorts with her. Personally, she felt that it was wrong to have a relationship with someone else when you were already in one with someone else. Sure, she had not been with Balden for more than six months. But still, maybe Balden still wanted to see her and catch back up.
In a nervous manner, [+purple "Yes, it is beautiful. It is a nice change to be farther away from the grounds and closer to the heavens. Anyways, I am probably distracting you from your job. Good night, it was nice meeting you Aerik."] Lara stepped onto the rigging, and went down with the same skill she had come down.
Lara went to her own room, and laid down on her bed. She fell asleep right away. She slept without troubles, without nightmares.
She woke up. Stretching slowly, and long, monotonous yawns. Swinging her legs over the bed and standing up, Lara had the idea of visiting Adimar and ask about the lessons.
Walking up to the deck, the sun beamed its light everywhere. People moved from one part of the ship to the next, busy with one thing or the other. Seeing everything revealed by the sun that had been hidden by the darkness brought its own sort of joy. She could see Rhuarc standing on the deck, and happily enjoying the breeze.
Lara walked up to Rhuarc, and leaned against the rail. [+purple "Um Rhuarc, have you seen Adimar anywhere?"] Looking at Rhuarc, was that sweat? [+purple "And who have you been fighting?"]
[center [I [size30 ❇❇♥❇❇]]]
Saraya had slowly walked into the room. The foul, bittersweet stench of Malik was what she spotted. He visited her... She had to learn to study on barriers. Volshi's barriers were strong.
She saw Aria fight to slip away her experience, but Saraya knew better. She was visited by the enemy. She, instead of ask of it, concealed it as a personal fuel, to help her sense traitors... Perhaps another one of her father's gifts... Enhanced third eye. With the scent of the enemy, she could spot them like wolves to prey times ten. And could be beneficial if used with foresight.
Saraya noticed that she was eager to rub her belly. [I "You honor me, Aria... "] she whispered, and allowed Aria to freely speak upon her ears. She spoke softly of her concerns. [I "It has been awhile since we sat together... Perhaps I was worried about you. Just as I worry about Balden and Ayab... "] she let Aria speak to her about Hïgàsçá and switched it over to her concerns for her father... she looked down at her belly, then to her. [I "Don't envy me or feel jealousy, Aria... You will be able to lead this life as a mother... Only if we succeed. And I have hope that we will, despite all of our run-ins"] Saraya was slightly surprised she was asking so soon... Sooner than she could get answers from him.
[I "My father was a good man... Still is... He didn't come here to destroy our lands... He was protecting the foundation that kept it together... The Holy Council. In the Mountains, safely hidden... "] the atmosphere seemed to lighten some as she began.
[I "Hïgàsçà, the Dark Knight, had went to the council, in search for mercy from his fellow Council Kings for a threat had presented itself from the shadows... "] she extended her hand, and with little wind, and some of her father's magic, she created the scenario underneath her fingers, a vision as she had seen it in her mind. [I "...The Council feared no darkness, and denied his pleas. He, torn between his sole duty and the only place he knew as his home, he broke his vow and descended to our lands, rallying fallen knghts to defend The Holy Council, and he started in Fenlyk"]
She shown her father, kneeling on the grave place of Fenlyk, and asked for their assistance and loyalty to defend his home. [I "Being that he was born adorning the Darkness, he hadn't counted on being detected by Azera. Azera, as you well know by now, had been governing all lands from Volshi, and was about to move towards The Central Kingdom, in search for a blacksmith to help refine the sword Rhuarc's kin had given her. She rallied the Guardians... "] she looked up to Aria, knowing the story from there. [I "Azera didn't count on what would happen... Malik, being an Ancient that he is, was determined to prove his affection to Azera by defeating my father. There's was one in that caravan, one who we have seen before, that was determined for the same thing... "]
She drew in a shaggy breath as she looked to the other Knight... A Watcher. [I "This, too, is what you already know... But, this was Azera's first and most vital mistake. She trusted him with The Caravan's best interest at heart. "]
She stared at Aria for a moment. [I "My father ran into them, explaining his case, and The Watcher was chosen to help... He was going to endow him... But, he tricked my father, and put Malik in his place, hoping that he could get closer to Azera. Being tricked by a Watcher upset him, but he had Malik help fight against his brother, the threat that was targeted at The Holy Council... They did not succeed... Malik abandoned him, and my father, after watching the corruption take over his home, went into hiding in earth, with a plan. Because of Malik, the Guardians were killed, and my father was thought to be the evil entity when in fact... "] she sighed. She looked up to Aria as the vision disappeared. [I "... he'd only shown me snippets... But, it wasn't hard to put the pieces together. Malik found my father living in Caledon... With my mother, heavy with life... Me. The day my mother gave me my life, Malik took hers... My father took me to the Phyanti, the Priests and disappeared, waiting for his own revenge... "] she looked into her eyes, knowing she wanted to cry, but her beautiful eyes wouldn't drop a tear. She started at her, serious intention flowing through the atmosphere.
[I "This is not all the information. All I know is that Malik's beginning means more than what meets the eye. He is trying to claim you because in his past, he couldn't have Azera. "] she stared at the rising sun as she continued.
[I "She denied him, and will stop at nothing to have you and damn the world that dammed him. This is not something to be taken lightly... So watch everyone and everything you see and come across. Not everything is what it seems, so long as Malik has power. "] she nodded in respect before standing. [I "Carrick and I may have or own vendetta, but your destiny comingles with ours. My son will be safe, I know it... The only thing I fear is that you and I may have probable cause to any of Malik's henchmen of being taken... I won't let it happen so long as I breathe. And knowing I hold value to you, I find it best if I warn you before another threat comes. Azera will show you more on her side... By then, you will see Malik's beginning of his treachery... All I ask for you to do... Is watch and stay away from anyone and everyone that isn't the Guardians... "]
She knew her ordering the priestess to stay away from others was a stretch, but she told her for her own protection. She walked to the door, looking back at her. [I "If Malik knows any more than what Vera is telling him... He'll find a way to stop us, and all will fall. Use your connection to Malik as a vice. If he can see our plans... I'm most certain that you can see his"] with that, Saraya had left the room, closing the door behind her.
She sniffed the air. The stench of Malik still lingered. She knew it... There's someone here as a spy... She had to alert Carrick...
She walked up the stairs and into the deck to see the men talking. Carrick was deep in conversation with she moved calmly around the workers. She used her Arcane ability to connect to Carrick, mentally calling to him. His Apex was strong, but she held her ground. She had turned to him when he finally came to her. She looked at him straight in the eyes. [I "There's something amiss here, Carrick... Malik visited Aria before I intervened... He has a spy on this rig... "]
She looked past him when she saw Luther... Fury painted her face when she saw him. [I "Carrick, what is he doing here? "] Carrick explained the situation, but Saraya could feel something deeper. [I "Keep him away from Aria and the Guardians, even you... Only Rhuarc can communicate with him"]
When asked why, she kissed him and walked past him feeling her knees buckle because if his intoxicating scent. She had to lay down, but as she passed, her lusty eyes looked to him and she said [I "Because he is not supposed to be here... "]
The Jai Guardian saw a tall blonde figure out of the corner of his eye and his mood soured, he did not know that Luther would be joining them, in fact he had been under the impression that all of the Watchers would be staying within Kil'heed. Luther's presence on the airship would be an inconvenience but nothing more and certainly nothing that could not wait until the morning. Putting the Watcher out of his mind he once again returned to the wonder of sailing through the sky and despite the darkness he continued staring out into the sky. He was joined by Carrick and Adimar and the Jai chuckled along with their teasing about his normally serious demeanor. [b "Indeed Adimar, get some rest. Your books will still be there in the morning."] The departure of the Volshi Guardian left the Captain of the Holy Guard and the General of the High Priestess alone at the bow of the ship. [b "Aye, much has changed since then. Who would have thought that one chance encounter would turn out so important...but we both know that us finding ourselves in your shop was not mere chance. Whether it was the Priestess or the Gods themselves, we found ourselves together because the world needed it to happen."] Carrick was right, he had been tasked to win this war but with no army to speak of and very little allies there was no way for him to do that just yet. He knew that he would likely find the warriors he needed in his own homeland or within the clans of Caledon but Malik had more than men at his disposal, he had foul magic. To combat that he would need arcane powers of his own and he would hopefully find that in Fenlyk, after all if the Medici could heal Ayab, what else could be done? Rhuarc listened to Carrick's concerns before giving his answer in no uncertain terms; [b "You do your duty. Always. It is what we all should do, if everyone did their duty then the world would be a better place. 'Duty is heavier than a mountain, death lighter than a feather.' The Jai are taught that as children and it would do well to remember it Carrick."] Rhuarc trusted Carrick and he liked the man but while the man's indecision was understandable it worried the Jai. What would Carrick do when both of their lives were on the line? Rhuarc could only hope that he would do his duty and let Saraya take care of herself, she was more than capable enough, and the other Guardians would watch out for her regardless. [b "It matters not how many men he has at his command if we can kill him, he is still just a man, he can be killed and when he is all this will be over. Of course I will study the maps and come up with a few strategies for when we land in Fenlyk, but for now I think I shall retire."] The hour was late and like Adimar Rhuarc could do with some rest of his own.
The Jai awoke to a normally crisp morning but the hulking warrior felt no cold, he hadn't been cold since before his journey to the Central City, since before he awoken the spirit of Jai'hash inside himself. He picked up his blade of heavy black steel, he had missed it's touch inside Kil'heed and it was comforting having it back, it felt like a long lost friend had come back to him. It was still early when he stepped out onto the deck of the skyship and with the sun bright in the sky he slipped into the familiar sword forms that he had not practiced in so long, he was sightly rusty but after an hour or so he quickly fell back into the familiar slickness and precision that befit a swordsman of his caliber. Soon enough Rhuarc noticed that he was no longer alone and only a few paces away he saw Luther watching him work the blade. [i "Impressive Guardian, but why don't you try your hand against a proper opponent."] As the Watcher unsheathed his own blade Rhuarc eyed it warily before he whipped his sword around quickly in a wide arc catching Luther off guard but the Watcher still managed to raise his sword to block the strike. Twice more Rhuarc moved his sword and tried to catch Luther off guard but the Watcher was ready for him this time and parried his blows well, waiting for the perfect moment to counter...and he found it. After he had blocked another of Rhuarc's blow he shifted his stance and pushed forward with his own assault. It apparent quickly that Luther was good. Very good. He used two forms that Rhuarc had never seen before and only just managed to deflect with his midnight black steel sword before he was forced into a frantic defence, lucklily Luther misjudged one of his blows allowing Rhuarc to pivot round behind the Watcher and hit him on the back with the flat of his blade. A flash of anger appeared in the Watcher's eyes before it was gone, replaced with a grin in a fraction of a section, the Watcher raising his sword again and taking a defensive stance. Rhuarc tried to move around Luther but the watcher's footwork was impeccable, never allowing the Jai to gain advantage through position. Rhuarc made two attacks forward which were countered spectacularly and resulted in Luther giving Rhuarc a minor cut on his left arm. The Jai's muscles were now aching in protest at the strain that they were being put under, most single combat battles didn't last nearly this long and soon enough as both men tired and their previously precise blows grew sloppy they both went for an attack which ended with Rhuarc's bade an inch from Luther's neck, a certain killing blow, and the Watcher's own sword touching Rhuarc's chest where his heart lay, another killing blow leaving the bout a stalemate. [b "You fight well, Watcher."] Rhuarrc had no doubts that Luther was qualified to serve in the Holy Guard, this fight alone had more than proved that but he still had reservations about the watcher's personality. He had no real basis for the dislike but Rhuarc had learned to trust his instincts, in the harsh landscape of the Jai Wastelands instincts kept you alive.
As the morning went on, he saw the other guardians fleetingly as they all had other business to attend to, he was sure Adimar was still engrossed in the tomes that he had brought with him. The cabin boy of the ship went about his duties, the Jai barely paying the slight figure any heed. Rhaurc once again went over to the edge of the ship and stared out seeing the full glory of the Land from high in the clouds, it was a magnificent sight. Later in the day he would pour over maps and plan for their journey in Fenlyk with Carrick but for now he simply enjoyed the sight and the breeze of the wind as the ship sailed through the sky.
Egos had called him mad for laying in wait. They all called him mad, all except Malik who had given him a rare grin and encouraged him. Rhys liked to think of it as being patient. Afterall, when you were nearly as dead inside as the corpses you could raise, you had all the time in the world. So imagine his delight when he saw the airships touchdown in Kil’heed. Unlike the Mage or the Fade who couldn’t step foot inside the temple or run the risk of serious injury to their person if discovered... Rhys didn’t have that problem. At his core, he was still a man. He found a way to get inside Kil’heed, and not only that, he managed to infiltrate the crew of the gifted airship. He remained inconspicuous, working as a simple cabin boy, scrubbing the decks, folding rigging, cleaning rooms, anything that needed done. They were all menial tasks, but if it got him closer to the Guardians, he would do it, and he would prove his worth to Malik as more than just an on call death riser. Rhys would prove he could do so much more, that simply because he was younger, didn’t mean he was incapable. He would prove his loyalty and his love for the man who had practically raised him and taught him everything he knew.
Since news of the Guardians awakening, and word spreading through the city, Rhys had been watching them, keeping his eyes on them, and on one in particular. The youngest of their group was the Fenlyk Guardian. She wasn’t hard to miss with her bright red hair and piercing eyes. She was also a teenager, which meant gaining her trust would be all too easy, or needlessly difficult. He was hoping for the former as she was generally left to her own devices and seemed the most impulsive. Which became all the more apparent by her adventurous nature as she scaled her way up to the Crow’s Nest. He’d been watching them all from where he was in a corner, on his knees with a brush in his hands, scrubbing down a section of the deck. No one noticed him, no one paid attention to him. Which was just how he liked it. He waited for the Mage Guardian to go down the stairs as he had seemed the most protective of the little Fenlyk Guardian; and watched as the hulking Jai and Holy Guardsmen went to a section of the ship to have what seemed like a private conversation. Now was the chance he could make his move. He should have gone right below deck and grabbed the Priestess. Malik wanted her above all things. He could have even moved closer to the Jai and Guardsman to hear their plans, but he was motivated by the Fenlyk Guardian. He dropped his scrub brush and started across the deck and began to climb upward. He took his time, until he finally reached the top and jumped into the nest. Sure enough, there she was. It pulled at his chest, she was young and beautiful... and he decided he wanted her. Water was a powerful force of nature, and he had no doubt that this young woman was no different. He was also hopeful that Malik would approve, and would certainly welcome an impressionable Guardian to his fold.
His first goal was to befriend her. With the Fade’s help, they had managed to make the boy who traveled with them leave, allowing Rhys to replace Balden and complete the mission. Rhys was nearly the same age as the Priestess, at 26 putting him in a good position to not only befriend the Fenlyk Guardian, but hopefully win her over. He had to be careful, and work covertly. He couldn’t risk any of them discovering who he truly was.
The wind was cutting and cold in the crow’s nest, but it didn’t seem to bother the young Guardian. He stopped short, he’d never been this close to one of the Guardians before. If he wanted he could have reached out and touched her. He had to remind himself, to pace himself. This was a long con. He had to learn their plans, relay them back to Malik, and find a way to isolate the Priestess so the Fade could finally grab her. Unlike Egos, Rhys was willing to do the team work required to take down the Guardians. He didn’t mind working with the Fade. The Fade was efficient and calculating. He had learned much from the dark extension of Malik.
There was obviously no sneaking up on the Fenlyk Guardian, as she spotted him instantly. He could only smile at her. “Hi there,” he greeted. He had a handsome face, with dark curly brown hair that haloed his dark tan face. He did not look Volshi, but he did look like he came from a northern Jai clan. His skin was a dark tan, and his eyes a warm brown. He looked the part of a cabin boy perfectly with his dingy tunic, dark pants, and scuffed up leather boots. His smile showed straight white teeth, and was perfectly warm and inviting. “I wasn’t expecting to find anyone up here. You must be one of the Guardians. Gotta be, I ain’t ever seen a girl as pretty as you who wasn’t special.” A budding master of his craft, he grinned and looked embarrassed. “S-sorry, I’m Aerik. It’s nice to meet you,” He held his hand out to shake with her, and smiled when she gave her name. “Well Lara, you look pretty young to be a Guardian, although, I got to admit... I wasn’t expecting any of you guys to look so normal... Usually imagine hero’s to be bigger than they are.” He finally looked up at the sky where she had been looking before he interrupted her and he leaned against the railing to look up with her. “This sight never gets old... I love flying at night.” He’d never been on a flying Airship before, but she didn’t need to know that. “You can see every star, and all that makes up the heavens. It’s beautiful, don’t you think?”
Adimar was glad he was able to help Saraya and Carrick. The way he saw it, the unborn child was just another member of the team. He turned around with a grin, holding his book as he and Carrick watched Saraya walk away when they spotted a familiar face coming towards them.
“I didn’t know he was coming with us.”
“Nor did I...” Carrick murmured and stepped away to confront the man. “Master Luther... how did you-“
“Get on board? Ursula sent me to aid you all. My mission is to help you all succeed.” Luther gave Carrick and Adimar and warm smile and the men didn’t sense anything off, so they both shrugged and welcomed him. “I did have one question for you Captain, I wanted to know if I could formally submit myself to becoming a member of the Holy Guard?” Carrick had no doubts or reservations about Luther and neither did Adimar. Carrick thought it would be a wonderful idea to have an Ancient with his kind of power as a member of the guard, and welcomed him readily. “Wonderful, I was once a member of the Guard, but that was a long time ago...”
“Perhaps a story for another time?” Adimar asked with a grin. Luther smiled flawlessly and agreed before leaving to make himself comfortable in the cabin reserved for guardsmen.
With Luther’s departure, Carrick and Adimar decided to cross the deck and take in the sights, and made their way towards Rhuarc who also seemed to be enjoying the gift of flight.
“There’s a rare sight if I ever saw it, brother,” Carrick teased catching sight of Rhuarc’s rare smile. Beside him, Adimar yawned loudly and nodded his head in agreement.
“Looks good on you.” He told Rhuarc.
“Know what looks good on you?” Carrick asked Adimar. “Sleep. Go, you’ve been up, researching nonstop since you learned of the pregnancy. I appreciate the help, but you need rest too.”
Adimar sighed and nodded his head, tucking the book under his arm. “You’re right. I should get some sleep.”
“Try and convince the Priestess to do the same?” Adimar nodded and waved to Rhuarc and Carrick before he left them to return below deck. Carrick watched Adimar slump away, yawning once more before he vanished, and finally looked to Rhuarc. He was feeling nostalgic and looked out at the clouds they sailed through.
“It feels like a lifetime ago, you all stumbled into my shop, and now here we are... sailing into the most occupied province of Malik’s rule. It worries me. If this ship is spotted he could come find us. I know you’ve been tasked to make sure we win this war as General, but I’m in charge of The Priestess’ safety. I know neither of us want any harm to come to her, but we don’t have the means to conceal her as we did when we left Central City... I don’t fear getting to the Medici... I fear having to fight our way out. I wanted to start a plan or strategy with you in regards to what we should all do if things fall apart in Fenlyk. Once we figure out a plan, we’ll run it by the others. I want to hope for the best, and prepare for the worst. Best being we sneak in and out unseen and can head to the next temple with no issue. However, even I know that’s wishful thinking. Worst case... we’re attacked and split up... so what do we do if that happens? What am I going to do? My duty is to The Priestess, but my heart belongs to Saraya...” Carrick frowned and looked out at the darkness as if ashamed he had to make such a choice. “It’s why I want to build the Holy Guard so badly. I need the reassurance of knowing, that if I’m not there to protect her, at least she has an entire contingent of guards protecting her. I found two in Kil’heed, they’re good sturdy men. Adimar‘s man, Max offered himself, I of course accepted him, and The Watcher Luther offered his blade as well. So I have four men... but I know it’s not enough. I was there the night Malik attacked the Temple. He only had an army of maybe three hundred that attacked the city, but it was only him and five wraiths that killed every guard in the temple. I still wonder how we managed to smuggle her out of there in the first place.” Carrick shook his head of the thoughts and looked back at Rhuarc, both of them were warriors. Men made and bred for battle. “He has a great deal more than three hundred men now. He has an entire army filled with some of the darkest, most twisted souls on this earth. Adimar brought maps with him as well as all those books. When you have the time, I’d like to sit down with you and go over them so we can map out our battle plan. Perhaps after we’ve all gotten some rest,” he advised looking tired himself.
Aria had been in the safety of her room since they had taken off. She figured she would see the world below come sunrise, for now it was too dark to even try and look. She resigned herself to her cabin, with the door open, and open books littered around her as she sat on the floor combing over tomb after tomb hoping to find anything that might shed light on the first guardians. So far she hadn’t found anything, just mostly theory on the Arcane, and considering the hour she might have gone to sleep, but was there really any time for that? Sighing out she flipped another page in her book and saw an illustration of a great dark power. Tendrils of shadow and darkness curled around it, but a beacon of light seemed to hold it at bay. Curiously she ran her fingertips over the dark figure when the candle beside her suddenly blew out and the room grew cold.
A ringing grew in her ears, until everything went dead silent and dark. It gave Aria a bad feeling, and made the hair on her neck stand up. She closed her eyes to try and block it out, but it was no use... she felt a presence behind her. A small breath left her and it clouded in the air as she slowly turned around to face the unknown. She saw nothing behind her but a dark corner. It was rather disconcerting to feel a presence and not see who was there.
“I know you’re there,” Aria breathed nervously.
“I knew you would,” A voice rasped from behind her. It caused her head to swing back around to her front and she gasped at the hooded figure seated before her. Cloaked in darkness, and face hidden, Aria didn’t need to see his face to know who it was. She remembered those skeletal hands, and the cowl of his hood. She quickly scooted across the floor until her back hit a wall. She never expected to actually [i see] him.
“You’re not really here,” she tried to rationalize. His hood cocked to the side as if amused with her, but she couldn’t make out his face.
“No, no I am not.”
“What do you want?” Aria demanded, heart racing.
“I wanted to see you,” he said as if it should have been obvious. “You’ve been away for so long... I missed you.” His words rasped and groaned, but there was a fluidity in his speech that cut through Aria like a rusted razor blade. Still, he made no move towards her, even if it was apparent he was toying with her. This had never happened before, where Aria could see him, either one of them was getting stronger... or the bond was.
“I’ve been watching you since you stepped foot in my city-“
“MY City,” She snapped coming off the wall to intimidate. Not that it worked in the slightest. Under the hood, a sick smile twisted on his face.
“It could be ours, you know. I wouldn’t mind sharing with you... you’ve grown into a fine woman.”
“And you’re the same hideous monster I remember from childhood,” Aria growled right back. For a while he was quiet, but he was staring her down. Aria could feel his gaze, even if she couldn’t see it beneath the shadows of his cowl.
“I am a monster, but I wasn’t always. Would you like to see?” He reached one spindly and knobby knuckled hand out towards her, black claw like nails curling grotesquely. Aria looked to his hand and then to the shadows of his hood, but she dared not reach out. At least... not at first... Rhuarc had said the bond might have an advantage for them if they could only find it. She began to consider it, but a sudden knocking on her door had her concentration shifting.
[i “Aria?”] her head snapped over, with wide eyes to see Saraya in the doorway, and when she looked back... Malik and his presence were gone, and the candle was still burning bright. She let out a breath she didn’t realize she’d been holding and waved her in.
“Please, come in Saraya,” She said, trying to regain her composure and, slowly peeled away from the wall she’d been cowering against and scooted back to her spot on the floor. She quickly forced a smile for Saraya and motioned towards to space in front of her for her friend to sit. “You look distressed,” Aria observed deflecting from herself. “Is it the baby? May I?” She asked hand extended to Saraya’s belly. When given permission, Aria smiled and placed her hand to Saraya’s stomach. There wasn’t much in way of feeling, as the babe was only a little peanut, but it was comforting to sense that new life inside the Caledonian Guardian. “I’m sorry for seeming so cold to you earlier, I was experiencing a great deal of conflicting emotions. Kil’heed revealed much, and it was a lot to process. Do you remember when we first met, how I admitted my envy of women such as you.. for this very thing?” She ask smoothing her hand over Saraya’s stomach with longing. She finally removed her hand, and tucked her head to hide the glimmer of emotion. “I was jealous, and I disgusted myself because of it. I have no reason to be jealous of you. I am inexplicably happy for you and Carrick. This is the reminder I needed. This is what we are fighting for. The people, the children of tomorrow... your child gives me hope. Hope that when he is born, the world will be full of peace, and not darkness or war. Can you forgive me for being so cold earlier and so obtuse as to not notice how close you and Carrick have grown? Or that you’ve been fighting your own demons... such as Higasca... can you tell me why he came to our world? Why he threatened the peace and balance the Guardians had made?”
The sound of a metal staff hitting the floor is not an extremely pleasant one, it is in fact the complete opposite. It is a cacophonous sound which makes one feel as if their bones were being jarred. Lara felt the vibrations going through the floor, into her feet, and from there into the rest of her body. She heard the annoying ear-splitting sound. She felt as if her bones were being jarred.
But unlike the others, her level of frustration at the time of and right after the impact outweighed her sensitivity to cacophonous sounds and bone jarring vibrations.
Lara let out a fast and forced breath out of her mouth, still feeling somewhat frustrated. Where there had been some sort of conversation before, now there was only silence. Her staff banging had probably abruptly killed any civilized conversation that had been happening, and everyone else's attention was on her most likely.
Lara could not believe what Adimar was saying, most of his words concerning her were blatant lies. She was not 'upset', not one of the many meanings of 'upset' could describe her right now. There was only one word, and that was frustrated!
Unlike the rest of them, Lara was not under a lot of pressure; at least at the moment. And neither was she exhausted. Lara did not feel exhaustion, sleepiness, or any other behavior assumed with exhaustion or tiredness. Her current feeling of frustration came from what she had just witnessed. TWICE!
As to Carrick's comment concerning Aria, Lara had never for once questioned Aria's choices. Lara had always trusted Aria, even when meeting her for the first time Everyone else, including herself and Balden, she had questioned their motives from the start, and had continued do that for a good part of the journey to this place.
At the 'suggestion' of "getting packed", Lara found herself escorted to her room by a Watcher. She definitely did not mind being sent to pack, for she had really nothing to pack and she needed time alone to have some alone time.
There was no talk between her and the Watcher all the way up to her room. After she had entered her room, Lara could hear the Watcher turn around and begin his watch over her room. The security measures had been increased, especially after the last incident involving Saraya.
Lara had nothing really to pack. She had come to this place with everything that had been on her person. Lara had never found the need to tote around a chest full of extra clothes and other things. Especially during her three years of living alone, the best way of living was to have everything one needed on them. Anything else was extra and was not needed.
Lara sat on the chair and did not keep track of the passage of time. It was the day, it was the day in which she finally headed back to the place where she had been born and lived for most of her years alive. Even though she knew that Fenlyck was now a dangerous place filled with Malik's dark forces, her heart and mind had always wanted to come back to Fenlyck. Now she could come back and free Fenlyck from Malik's grasp, heal Ayab, and meet up with Balden.
A knock on her door awoke from her reverie. It was almost dark outside, but Lara did not mind the dark. It was the best time to view the stars and moon. That was if there were no clouds.
Being escorted outside, Lara met up with the rest of the company. Aria took up a position in the middle of all the Watchers and Guardians, while the people of Kil'heed cheered them on. It was a happy and hopeful sight to see people who believed in their cause. It felt warm, and Lara smiled brightly.
As they walked up to the airship, a collection of elderly people greeted them; the elders of Volshi. They offered custom weaved shawls to each of them. In the dark, Lara could not see how the other's shawls but hers she could see clearly. A dark marine blue, a similar color of the Fenlyck sea on a clear sunny day, with a masterly weaved coral fish on the shawl and pink tassels beautifully contrasting the dark marine blue. They even got flowers, and they smelled so pleasant.
But this moment, like any good moment, had to come to an end. All of them boarded, Lara noticed, with a happy feeling inside of her, as Aria lingered on the boardwalk before turning around and joining the rest of them.
The ship flew, but Lara did not feel any excitement. It was a ship, and she had already been on plenty of ships. But Lara missed the wooden creaking of the ship as it passed through the ocean waters, she missed the bobbing of the boat as it sliced through waves small to big. To her, this ship felt as a strange entity. But, it did have sails and rigging.
Lara knew that one could climb the rigging and get into the crow's nest at the top of the ship. In the dark, no one noticed as Lara swung onto the rigging and climbed it upwards. Just as she had thought, there was a crow's nest at the top of the mast.
Looking down, she could only see the weak, fluttering lights of the deck lights. But looking upwards, a very beautiful view of the moon and all presented itself. Leaning with her elbows on the firm and unyielding wood of the crow's nest, Lara craned her neck upwards and smiled. It had been such a long time since the last time she had been up in a crow's nest and gazes upwards at a clear sky. For the first time in three years, Lara could feel the ache of what she really missed from her old life. She knew her life after the final fight would never be the same as her old life, but that did not mean she could go and do the same things.
She heard a whistle in the form of a tune slowly approaching from below. It was a casual melody, as if the person climbing upwards did not know that someone was already in the crow's nest.
Even though Lara wanted to stay alone, she knew that there was no way in avoiding meeting the person coming up.
Lara continued leaning against the crow's nest, and looking upwards.
[center [I [size30 ❇❇♥❇❇]]]
Saraya had stayed silent as everyone spoke their piece. She could understand why Lara left, why everyone was itching to leave. She was itching to leave, too. Fenlyk was in need, and conversation was not going to appease the situation. Saraya raised her hand in a silent plea for them to calm their ails. She could feel the emotional strain from everyone, and even she was feeling the fatigue from it.
Saraya spotted a alarming expression on her Priestess face. She never heard Aria so distraught. She could read her face... If Hïgàsçá was her father, would it mean that she would be capable of turning her back on her and all she fought for?
Tears welled up when she saw hurtful expressions on Aria's face. She demanded to speak with Aethon alone. She wouldn't allow anyone but Rhuarc to stay with her. As Carrick had helped her stand and they began walking, Saraya raised her head to see her face, and it cut through her as if a sword. She tried to hold her tongue, but something in her told her to tell her what her heart was weeping. She reached out of Carrick's hold and grabbed Aria's hands.
[I "Aria... Please hear me... "] she said, struggling from within herself to speak through her tears. [I "By The Holy Council, You are not alone anymore..."] she looked at Aria, straight in her eyes. [I "I shall tell you the truth about Malik's creator, and how Malik came to be Azera's worst enemy. You will ask when you are ready... "]
With that, some strength returned and she straightened up before carefully walking away, a sick feeling of distress and anger took her features. She walked out, her face blank and eyes slowly became misty. As she stepped out the doors, though, she walked a few feet up before stopping. The Watchers waited for her command.
[I "Only Lord Aethon... Escort him in"]
[center [I ❇❇♥❇❇]]
[center [pic https://img00.deviantart.net/04f5/i/2012/239/1/9/man_2_by_heise-d5ckrs7.jpg]]
[center In the planes]
A mist of colors, the and a once hazy surrounding of darkness of the void became a Nod of sorts... A clever plane between the spirit world and the connection to it... Life. Sayan had looked about her subconscious, somewhat relieved that his daughter hadn't rejected him as he had thought. He took a seat in the grassy plains, looking into the defining sunrise of her memories. She had perfect memory, Sayan thought in his mind. It could only come when she valued life, moreso than he had or ever wish to experience. His wife, her mother would be proud of her... If she were alive...
[I Ari would've been worried, too...] Sayan's head twirled to a cleaned figure, a face far too familiar. The horseman smirked some before beginning to stand. [b Yes... She was always the one to worry... Even when there was so little to worry about] he chuckled. Caledon nodded and joined the chuckle before looking forward. [I You know that it will take awhile for the others to trust you, horseman...] Caledon started. Sayan nodded and did a acknowledging grunt. [b I have all the time to get them to trust me... It is my daughter, your great granddaughter that hasn't much time]
[I You mean the child?]
Sayan looked to Caledon. [b No... The balance is tipping between darkness and light. Saraya is the only one left now since the ancients that once sat on the throne of The Holy Council was corrupted by Shadow, my brother. She holds light and darkness in either hands, and must keep them balanced... Malik will find out and will not like that I still linger for my revenge... I feel torn that my baby girl must be the vessel]
[I Aye, as do i. But, what does it mean, Sayan? That she is darkness and light?]
Sayan sighed to himself before turning to him. [b She is the only one besides Carrick that can ascend and claim the throne of The Holy Council]
[I What of Carrick? She is bound to him and him to her now, and now she's siring his child.] Sayan stared at him with a smile. [b Caledon, Carrick IS the only ancient that can take her side as King. Malik is also an ancient, which is why my brother could easily claim him after my battle with him. Carrick holds the ability of extreme rule, because of his lineage. His destiny as well as hers is to forever stand where he belongs after eons of being shunned by the corrupted Council. One of which aided me in my battle against Shadow.]
Caledon looked up to Sayan as his eyes absentmindedly traced the horizon. [b Saraya being Prya is just the tip of the iceberg. She and Carrick as a united pair can bring order to these lands, and save Azera's reincarnation from Malik's hands]
[I But, why have her carry, Sayan? If their child...]
[b You forget... She was barren before... She lost her first husband which is now a puppet for The Mage and her first son as well... Only an Ancient could make her carry a child... And not any Ancient... An Ancient that can win the heart of the woman or man Guardian with pure love alone... His power is great, enough to match hers now that they both share your power, Caledon. It was the only choice I had to save her from The Mage's plans...]
[I So, how do we protect her and the child?]
Sayan sighed as he took a seat. [b To be honest... We can't protect her until she is in a panic. Well, I can't anyways. You can help put a barrier around her so that it gives her relief from the strain... She'll need all the help we can give. I already put my insignia on her so she is protected from shadows]
[b The one thing Malik is searching for... Shadows, demons created from my brother and dwells in Fenlyk.]
Caledon sat next to Sayan with a sigh. [b What can we do? We'll have to protect Carrick and Saraya... They must sync completely]
[I They will... There will be a time where they will see for themselves just how important it is... Once they do... They won't lose against Malik... We must hurry, Sayan... Malik has Vega... And she is forced to reveal their teachings... So we will have to teach them some other way...]
Sayan chuckled. [b Your right... Ari would've worried...]
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Saraya had been escorted to the room after they had taken Lara to hers. Once she was inside, she turned to Carrick. It seemed that his previous request to pick soldiers had been summed down to just him. She nodded to him in silent agreement before he made his way down the hall.
She looked around for a chest, and carefully pulled it open. She started gathering garments, pieces of his armor and even her new gown to replace her shredded garment. She trailed away in thought, thinking silently of new feats that they were now faced with. Fenlyk.
She then thought of The Mage. The vial she had with his blood within it was locked in her mind like a cobra's deadly coil. She could use it against him... But, she had to think of how. And as she followed her thoughts to her realization... The Mage may have had a chance on creating a beast with her barren womb, but she managed to survive a deadly situation thanks to her father. There was a sort of peace with that notion, but also a knowing... She was now in a danger alongside Aria... And she had to make sure she wasn't the target... Perhaps she wasn't a sacrifice... Maybe she could use herself as a decoy... Perhaps even learn to confuse Malik with his power. After all, her father gave him his power.
As she finished packing the clothes, Carrick came in. She looked up to him, and his expression was soft and concerned. Her swept her up and asked if she was alright. [I "Yes, my love... I am alright... I'm just a little concerned"] she replied. He hugged her some before saying [I [b "I can tell you’re upset, you’ve got a lot of emotions going on. Just remember, you always have me,”]], casting her the most comforting smile of all smiles and kissed her. She kissed him back and nuzzled him. [I "I know, Carrick... I know... "]
Carrick took it upon himself to grab the chest. He then took her and the both of them walked along to the airship, where they were greeted by the people of Volshi... The citizens had given each Guardian a shawl. Saraya bowed as the young lady gave her her sea dancing shawl and smiled, filling the young girl's hands with hers before walking onto the boat.
Saraya was slightly excited as she looked over there the bow. The ship was magnificent, a true marvel if she did see one. As she looked, though, Carrick pulled her to him and kissed her. With all the excitement, she almost forgot that he was still Apexing... And all the kiss had done was excite her.
Just then, Adimar had ran up to them, excited that he had finally found a spell to protect Saraya and Carrick's child, but the rest of the ingredients were in Fenlyk. Carrick and she heard Adimar's doubts and Carrick assured him otherwise. Saraya smiled and nodded. [I "You are a true brother, Adimar... "] was all she could muster before seeing Ayab. Relieved to see him, Saraya walked to Rhuarc and Ayab, looking to them both. [I "Hey... "] she blushed. She wanted to speak to them... But she couldn't form the words... She did try. [I "Thank you... For everything... I may not say much, or have much of your respect... But, I respect you both and your [b Toh]. Perhaps, when the day comes, you would advise me... And perhaps teach my son on the rules of battle... "] Saraya wasn't much for punching, as it was their custom, but she gave the both of them soft punches on their arms and bowed her head to them both.
There, afterward, she made her way below deck and found a room. She scaled the room, sitting down finally in a bed suitable for her rest. She sighed some, as she began exercising her power, and saw Carrick above ground, watching the plateaus, though in the dead of night, and began smelling the sweet scent of his apex again. The scent made her shiver, and she wanted him to come and rectify this desire she had been feeling, but now wasn't the time. Malik's eyes was going to be upon them. But, it was going to be hard to avoid that sweet smell.
She then decided to wander, and down the hall, she could smell it stronger than ever... As she walked, though, she passed a room, and The Priestess was within it... Saraya stared before knocking gently on the door. [I "Aria? "]
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