*Rise of the Guardians* The Chronicles

/ By darien [+Watch]

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Roleplay Responses

It took Balden and Aria nearly two weeks of hard riding and hiding out in the forests, avoiding Malik's patrols and even the border patrols of some of the less friendly Caledon Clans, before they even found the main road leading from Fenlyk to the Central City. Aria was exhausted as was Balden -both of them craving a warm meal and a hot bath. They stopped only for a short while at the top of the hill outside Central City. From their place they could see the tall spires waving their banners, but where the Fortress once gleamed white stone and marble, it was now blackened by ash and soot. The banners black and blood red. Aria frowned from the top of the horse, her heart aching at the sight. She remembered being a little girl, growing up in those sacred and hallow halls. Seeing it now as it was, stirred something within her. A raging spirit hungry for vengeance. She would take back her home, she would sit on the holy alter and restore it. She took one look at the blackened keep and vowed she would destroy Malik.

Balden's feet hit the ground, making a clean dismount from the weary horse. He tenderly stroked his hand down the neck of the beast and studied Aria. Her eyes were intense, nearly glowing with the promise of retribution, and she sat back stiffened and her hands fist in angry knots.
"mi'lady, can I ask what you are thinking?" Balden asked. Two weeks on the road with his ultimate crush had helped to stem his nervousness around her. He never would have imagined being on this sort of adventure. He rather liked to imagine himself as Aria's Steward. He would serve her loyally and faithfully, he would protect her at all costs, and Gods be good -he would succeed at it. Balden was no squire, and certainly no knight or warrior. He was a Blacksmith's apprentice, or he had been. He was well aware of what Malik's men would have done to the villagers and Elder Rigby.

Aria looked at him, as if his voice was unfamiliar. To be fair he hadn't spoken much, they were running for their lives. "I was thinking about how we have been running from Malik's hounds... and now we are about to walk into the Wolf's Den..." Balden couldn't help but grin at her words. He'd been thinking the same exact thing.
"They say the best place to hide, is to hide in plain sight, and this is Central City -it's supposedly very diverse. There are people from the furthest reaches of Caledon, down to the deserts of The Wastelands... Of course, there's a load of Fenlyks," he said the last word with a hint of disgust. Why shouldn't he? The Fenlyks could have helped put Malik in his place, instead they bowed to him -refused to fight for their freedom. His mother had been from Fenlyk -not that he knew his mother.
"I am Volshi," She reminded him. No matter how diverse the City was... Volshi were still a rarity, they never came down from the clouds. Some people harked them to Angels, or Lords of the Sky. Balden was more inclined to believe the first -knowing Aria first hand.
"I know," He mumbled. He had been to the City before, traveling with his Master to trade their wares to the more rich of the city.
"The moment I reach those gates, the guards will spot me and I will be captured on the simple facts I am a female Volshi. Malik could care less if another Volshiv woman entered the city. He's probably ordered all of them to be captured, tortured and killed." Balden swallowed past the lump in his throat. She had a point. He hadn't thought of that before. Faced with a conundrum he was ill prepared for he turned and looked to Aria for leadership.
"What are you thinking?" Aria studied the walls, the Caravan making their way down the main road towards to City Gates, and finally a slow smile spread on her face.
"I have a plan," she finally said looking to him.

Balden hung off of every word Aria said to him. She was familiar with the cities hidden passages, she would sneak in under the cover of darkness entering the city by a hidden door beside a sewage drain that led out of the city and towards the rivers of Fenlyk. He would meet her down in the catacombs where the sewage drained out of the city from. He was not looking forward to the smell, but Aria told him it was the only surefire way for her to get in the city unseen. He was tasked with riding into the city with the Caravan, and finding an Inn for them to sleep. With no coin that was going to be difficult. He left Aria at the forests edge, hidden safely while he rode the horse towards the gates. The guards didn't pass him a second glance, but their eyes did scan those entering the city with great scrutiny. Even Balden could see they were looking for something particular. As he snuck in on the tails of a Caravan, he was for the most part overlooked, and once inside he made quick work breaking away from the group he'd entered with and went in search of a place to stay.

It took Balden the better part of the day to find an Inn where to stay, but with no coin, and being a mixed race individual, he was turned from every inn he came upon. They wouldn't even allow him to work for a stall in the barn. With sunset coming upon him, and knowing that with the moon Aria would slip beneath the streets of the City and would need a place to sleep, he grew nervous. He needed to find a place to garner shelter and food. That was when he heard the heavy fall of a hammer striking out and shaping red hot metal. Balden smirked, maybe he couldn't find an Inn, but perhaps he could work for the Blacksmith and earn his keep. Balden hurried over towards the burly man as he worked. He was large and bald, his head tattooed with intricate northern designs, by his lighter color skin, he could tell the man came from the Northern Reaches of Caledon. Balden took the gamble.
"Excuse me, Sir? I'm new to the city,"
"What do you want?" The man gruffed, hammering out the shape of a sword, his brow glittering with soot and sweat, and his shaggy red beard singed from the fires. He didn't bother to look up from his work.
"I am looking for a job. In my last village I was a Blacksmith Apprentice, but my Master... has recently passed away, I'm searching for new tutelage," The Blacksmith, smirked, taking the sword and sifting it back through the hot coals and hammered it some more.
"Where do you hail from?"
"Ada Village, it's on the boarder of Fenlyk and -
"Caledon, I know the place. No wonder I couldn't place your accent," when he looked up however, he frowned at Balden -looking him over, "Mixed aren't yeh?" Balden did blush at that. His mother had been a whore in Fenlyk when his father had fucked her and gotten her pregnant. Unable to care for Balden, and not knowing who or where his father was; his mother had given him up. It was because of his mother he had tawny tan olive skin like many Fenlyks, and the large eyes and reddened hair of Caledons.
"I apologize, Sir. If my mixed breeding offends you," He forced from his mouth.
"If it offended me I would have cut you with hot iron the moment you opened your mouth," The Smith warned. Balden backed up slightly. The Smith stood and studied Balden for a moment and finally walked over and forced him to hold up his arm and let him feel out his biceps, then he checked his hands -calloused and forever blackened like a Smith's. "Good to see you're not a liar." Balden stood with baited breath as he waited, but he could also see the smith still need a nudge of encouragement.
"Please sir, I promise I won't let you down. I want to earn my keep. I'll be a good worker, and I'm a fast learner. I only ask for a stall for my horse. I can sleep with the horse for now. At least give me a chance? Work me, see if I'm worth keeping?" The Smith knew he'd been had, and Balden had to count his good graces he was led to a man of heart and honor. One who's mind was not clouded by greed for coin and hatred for the different.
"Bah!" He barked, giving into his conscious. "Go put your horse in the back stable, bring me wood from the far wall outside the stable." Balden nodded and quickly took off to obey. He had secured a place for Aria and himself, and he had a good feeling about this Blacksmith. Perhaps he could trust him.

[center ~*~*~*~*~]

The Moon was at its highest peak in the night sky when Aria slipped from her place hidden in the trees and followed closely to the cover of the stream that washed away gods only knew what from the city. Water was a sacred element, the fact that Malik was tainting the waters of Azera with sewage, angered Aria deeply, even the smoke and ash he let his fires send into the sky was frustrating for her. Air, the water, the Earth and even fire -all elements were inherently important to the Gods and the Guardians. Aria hated to see the damage, but it was truly a reflection of Malik's corruption. The entire city was under his rule. She could only imagine how far it had fallen into a deep depression since his conquest. She was about to find out once she was done wadding through sewage to get inside the fortress of a city. She had to get inside the city though, her Guardians were in there and in need of her guidance.

[i -Go now, do not tarry, the watch makes its rounds...-]

The omnipotent voice whispered into her mind. Elder Rigby had called it The Knowing. He said it was like a sixth sense -one gifted by the Gods to guide and help her stay safe and find her way. With the absence of the mental voice, Aria heard the sounds of clinking armor as guards walked the outside of the wall on patrol. Aria felt her heart begin to race. There was no more time, she had to plunge into the blackened water of Central City. The smell alone was enough to make Aria gag, having to ruin a perfectly good set of clothes to swim through... it was enough to make her taste the vomit in her mouth. It had to be done. The balance of the world rested on her -and she knew she'd have to do a lot she didn't want to in order to save the Four Provinces and reclaim Azera...
  *Aria Tolshiv / darien / 340d 7h 31m 58s
The merchant caravan was approaching the city from where Malik rule with an iron fist, approximately a one day journey before actually entering the city itself. They probably wouldn't be looking for her there if they still were trying to find her. From their point of view, why would she come closer to the place from where the guy who wanted her captured, to them it wouldn't make any sense. But that didn't mean she could do anything stupid, as would still have to be on her guard and not attract attention to herself. The last thing she wanted was to be captured by those gits.

But who was she and who were the they who either were actively after her or not anymore? She was an 19 year old female with the name of Lara who had run away from home three years ago, but she hadn't run away from home because she wanted to. They wanted to capture her alive and bring her back, but she managed to escape them when her parents distracted long enough for her to run away. Her parents died and she never went back to the kingdom where she was born to visit their graves because she still feared them. They would still be actively hunting her down, definitely not a safe place to be if one wanted freedom.

The people referred to as 'they' were the people who served Malik, or King Malik as that self-centered totalitarian idiot wanted everyone else to call him. She still did not understand why he had sent armed men to raid for the kingdom she had lived in hadn't revolted at all when Malik took the seat in his throne. The other three kingdoms had revolted sometime after that event passed, but still the kingdom she lived in did not. The raid didn't make any sense to her at all, but it had happened, meaning that in this confusing thing, there was some reason behind it all.

What was she doing with a merchant caravan? Simple, she was one of the people helping to guard it, that was how desperate the boss of this caravan had been. To be fair she did know how to fight with the staff that her parents had given her before she ran away. It wasn't what she wanted to do at all but one had to earn a living somehow. She always was on the lookout for the odd job which would help her survive. Like helping shop owners with something, hunting animals or fish and then bringing them in to sell for coin or keeping it for herself to cook alone. In those three years of living alone, she had so many jobs, traveled a great distance, and endured many hardships.

Currently she was riding the horse that had been given to her at a plodding place along with the rest of the caravan. She was also trying to sort out the dream from last night and what she had felt in the morning after the dream. Just like with the raid, this also didn't make any sense whatsoever, but it felt very eery. Why would she have this dream, she wasn't the type who had dreams that often nor were they clear as that one. The dream started off with two people on horses, one definitely was a boy and the other one was wearing white robes and carrying a stick not unlike her own. Something was happening in the background and theses two it seemed were galloping hard to get away from it. Then the view centered on the white robed person and dimmed out everything else. There appeared four symbols shining brightly around it, as if either revealing what was on the mind of the person robed in white or something else. The four symbols turned out to be animals, there was a dove, a fish, a snake, and an animal which she hadn't seen before. That was the end of the dream.

Upon waking up, something else in the strange department was experienced. The back of her neck prickled slightly and it was warm to the touch. Lara knew what was on the back of her neck, it was a tattoo of a fish. That was nothing new to her as her parents had told her that. Well she didn't believe that at first as a kid, but when her parents showed it to her in a mirror, that was evidence one couldn't refute. But what Lara couldn't figure out was how her tattoo on the back of her neck relate in any way to the fish in the dreams. Or how did it relate to the dream in general? It was just something that demanded answers, but from where?

As usual the boss of the caravan rode up and down it to ensure everything was in good condition. As usual he talked with everyone, it wasn't bothersome at all because he just wanted to make sure his caravan reached the city without something happening to it. In short he was trying to do his job.

It came her turn as he was plodding his was down the caravan. He pulled his horse parallel to hers and started asking the same questions as he did everyday. She answered with either a simple nod of the head for yes and a slight side-to-side shake of the head for a no. The first two days of her answering questions in this manner had somewhat surprised the boss but he eventually got used to it. Probably figured out that not everyone was a loud talker. After the list of questions had been gone through, he asked a new one. It was about her feeling tense, well she was always on the lookout for any surprises, especially the ones which would result in the caravan being attacked. That was what she explained to him.

He fell silent for awhile before he made a proposal of sorts. At first Lara didn't know what he meant by it, but then the realization dawned on her. What he proposed was, [+green "You know, after we get to the city, the two of us... could, have some fun together."] This wasn't the first time something like this had happened, nor would it be the last. Over the three years of running, these types of questions started popping up. She always answered a no with a different explanation each time. When she said no this time, the explanation was that she was already promised to someone and was going to meet them in the city. It was all lies, but nothing else could be done.

The boss was quiet for sometime before pulling away and heading towards the back of the caravan. That left her in her usual place of quietness and solitude. She didn't know whether she wanted to continue thinking about what she had been thinking about before she had been interrupted, but there was something in there that was just too much to just leave lying there. She went back to thinking.
  Lara / Arya / 342d 18h 20m 18s
[pic https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/74/4e/6b/744e6b77dcc4207da24d9d6b0b118469.jpg]

Saraya, a beautiful martyr and humble servant of her sacred city, had a smile bigger than the River Nine could fathom. After teaching the youth the history of their fair homeland, she felt enough strength in her legs to stand firm and walk home. Her basket was full of generosity and good wishes of her fellow neighbors, almost as full as the bundle within the belly of the beauty the townsmen swore Caledon had created to feast their eyes upon. Humble was she of the compliments given, for they knew her love protected the city, and due to the timing, he should be home now, doing what he loved... cooking for his loving wife.

On the way, though, she spotted a Fawn, but it seemed to be running away. Saraya looked ahead... something was amiss. The mighty Caledon could see it plainly. She huffed and walked home, safely, yet hastily, to her shop, but it was closed... very strange.

The gracious wind seemed to blow oddly now. Saraya caught it as quickly as the doves above. The pleasent little creatures seemed to be fleeing from something. Knowing her natural ability of precise guesses, some sort of storm was approaching. If that was the case, she should hasten to her cottage, and be sure to close the windows... but, as she turned the corner of old Mr.Hopkins' garden, she noticed horsemen racing in the other direction while carriages took haste past her. This worried her.why we're they in such a hurry?

Finally, she reached her sanctuary. She figured that she would see the blinds open and fresh bread sitting on the stoop...but the blinds were shut. This puzzled her even more. Stepping in, she saw her husband putting on his armour. "Felliope? Why do you put your armour on?"she asked in their language. They spoke some English, but we're more used to their native tongue, which was used to honour their temple and their rituals and practices. Her husband turned to his wife with a face as serious as the statue of their Protector. "We must protect our walls. There is a threat that is breaching, and they called upon me to lead the troupes. "

A threat? Saraya stared back, very worried. She knew it was her husband's duty to protect the city, but she never wanted him to fight anything he couldn't come home from. Felliope read her face like a book and kissed her. "Please do not be stubborn with me, love. Stay away from the fight. Get as far away from the city as you can"

"But, Felliope-"

"Saraya, please... protect yourself. Protect our child... do whatever you can to stay alive... I will find you when the battle is over"

Saraya's face screwed up with fear, and her husband couldn't stand the look. He kissed her, hoping it would help. "Go... Please" he said before hurrying out the door and to his steed. He took off, other knights joining to make haste to the wall. Saraya, despite her loving husband's pleas and her mind saying to find ground to hide, she gave in to her stubbornness and started after the knights, grabbing onto her white steed and making haste towards the threat amongst them.

The crackling sounds of cannons, the songs of swords, the dark clouds hovering about the temple... Saraya couldn't stay away. Her need for doing her part kicked in, and she rode into the tarnished ruins of part of her once beautiful home. She spotted the troupes. The battle looked like the turn for the worst. They we're breaking into the temple! She rode past the troupes to look for her husband, and found him... He was pinned against the pillars, and the enemy was going to strike. Saraya had to think fast. She grabbed two sickle swords, flinging them into the back of the enemy. Success.

Felliope looked to her in shock. "Saraya!!" He yelled. Before he could even get to her, a cannon sounded and collided to where the both of them were.. then, there was nothing.

Burning buildings, ash as white as the Temple's stones... Death hung in the air. Saraya was on the ground, her steed on the ground dead from impact. Her body instantly began to escalate the pain she never thought she could experience. It hurt so terrible that she couldn't even move. Suddenly, a pair of armour shoes stopped just feet from her. It then slowly knelt... Felliope... Tears fell when she realized what her stubbornness had gotten her... She was losing their child...

Felliope lifted her head and rested her head on his legs as he leaned against a pillar... "Saraya..." he said before kissing her forehead. "I love you"

Her sobs we're carried along with the smoke."I am so sorry..." she started. Felliope shook his head. All he could do was kiss her forehead. With that, all he could do was lay next to her... and soon enough, darkness took them.

[i Saraya... Saraya]

All she could see was light... She thought she was in Paradise, but everything was a blur. She looked up, and she saw a dove... Caledon? Was the mighty spirit there to carry the three of them to Paradise?

[i I saw your act of bravery... and it has warmed my heart. I have chosen my host..]

Host... the dove restedvon her forehead, then disappeared into mist... She sat up with a start, screaming from was thought to be a dream.But, when she looked to a body laying next to her, and a blanket with a bundle inside... she knew... she began to cry, but a voice in her head shook her from it. [i I have chosen you to carry my power. There is a threat among us, and you must find her]

Saraya sniffled. Find who? She sighed as she slowly stood, and looked to the two. Her hands reached for them when she noticed her once tanned skin had paled to a porcelain white. Her once red hair had faded to snow white, and the Mark of the dove had appeared over her heart. Scared, she shut her eyes, and focused on the task at hand... burying her family.

With the new strength she never knew she had, she lifted him over her shoulder, then grabbed the bundle before walking uphill, to the highest peak, and began digging. There, she buried her husband and child together, and made a tombstone: in loving memory of Felliope Scalfon, Saraya Scalfon and son... Rest in Paradise.

With that, she turned and walked to their cottage, and grabbed a weapon he had gotten her when they were newlyweds; a double ended sword. She changed her rags to her white attire, and pinned her hair up. She stepped outside afterward, breathing in air before looking to her sword. "Where must i go?" She sighed. The spirit spoke [i You must search for the city... she will be there, and so will the other spirits]

Other spirits... Saraya took a deep breath, said her goodbyes to her loves, and started walking, silent, with each day the spirit within speaking to her of what was waiting for her... but all she could think of... was revenge.
  Saraya air spirit / Bloody_Eve / 343d 8h 59m 45s
The relentless heat of the shining sun overhead beat down furiously causing a heavy sweat to sting Rhuarc's eyes as he made his way through the desert. He had left the caravan with his people behind three days ago in order to scout ahead making sure there were no hidden dangers in the shifting sands that he and his people called home. They were far enough from the border that raids by the false king Malik should not trouble them, but life for the Adbhu'Jai was a tough life especially given how much infighting was done between the Jai people. Luckily enough Rhuarc was not involved in a blood-feud with any of the other Jai tribes although given the fiery nature of the Adbhu'Jai that peace may not last for long. The tall nomad pulled out his water skin and drank deeply, the cool liquid inside quenching his thirst for the moment. Despite the refreshment that the water gave he knew that he should not drink too much, in the desert wastelands water was often a far more precious commodity than gold.

As Rhuarc continued on his journey his attention was caught by two figures ahead of him, one dressed entirely in white while the other donned the traditional nomadic garb of the Jai. Checking to see that the sword on his back was not caught and would be easy to draw if needed Rhuarc crept up on the two figures, keeping his distance until he was sure that he could strike first if he needed to. It was a lesson that all Adbhu'Jai children learned; The wastelands were a dangerous place and a lack of caution meant a dead child. Calling out in the harsh, guttural tongue of the Jai Rhuarc called out a warning announcing his presence to the figures in front, although he only addressed the figure that was not wearing white, to speak to one wearing white would be a great insult. As Rhuarc glanced at the tattooed and scarred body that was so common amongst all Adbhu'Jai a grin broke over his face as he recognised the man in front of him. [b "Ayab!"]

Ayab reytuned his smile before closing the distance to his old friend and firmly punching Rhuarc across his jaw, the force of the blow enough to knock the larger Jai man to the ground. An even larger grin broke out on Rhuarc's face. [b "You honour me, friend."] Rhuarc returned the punch across the jaw in kind with slightly less force than he himself had received. This was one reason why the other Provinces looked down upon the Adbhu'Jai as barbarians. To an outsider this greeting looked like the Jai were constantly violent and uncivilised where as in reality the traditional greeting of a closed fist punch across the jaw for men and an open palmed slap across the cheek for females was a tradition that dated back to the very first Adbhu'Jai people and was meant to symbolise a respect for the others strength. The harder the hit the more respect you had for a person. The figure in white was also an old Jai tradition. An adversary could be forced into submissiveness if in battle an opponent was able to place bare hands on an opponant if they still carried a weapon and were still able to fight. The captive or [i Akh] would serve the one who placed hands upon them for one year and one day, unable to touch a weapon or disobey the one who had made the [i Akh] unless it would cause further dishonour. This tradition was so easily mistaken for slavery but if anyone so much as openly spoke of [i Akh] being slaves to an Adbhu'Jai they would soon find themselves in a battle to the death.

[b "May you find shade and may your feet carry you far. What news do you bear?"] The traditional greetings exchanged Rhuarc got down to the practical, the wastelands were large and communication was often difficult unless one was near the River Nine where one could travel quicker than on foot. [+red "You honour me with your shade, friend. Perrik and Unkor have declared a blood feud with The Tardaad Jai and Shade-stealer is launching more raids at the border. The Antior Jai have lost many good men in the last three weeks or so. On more joyous news Delphus is to become an Elder."] The naming of a new Elder was far more significant than it would first appear. The nature of the Adbhu'Jai people and their love for challenges meant that they were constantly competing with one another to show honour and strength in any way possible. This meant that many men died young and as a result there is often a lack of experience and wisdom coming from the Elder Jai people to pass on. A new Elder was significant and joyous occasion especially it was the father of one of Rhuarc's childhood friends. The news regarding the increased raids by Malik was to be expected, Shade-stealer was the title that the Jai often referred to the false king as given how he was trying to take their home from them.

[+red "Shade-stealer grows bolder with every victory he gains, soon enough we will fall if nothing is done. Ouk'nu punish me if it is not true."] [b "Ayab we do what we can, we are nomads, if we have our feet the Jai will live. Come friend, accompany me to the River Nine and Kerabdras. That is where our caravans are heading. The journey will be more pleasant wit you friend."]
  Rhuarc / Kastanstyrax / 343d 12h 25m 1s
“The Holy Ones, rose from the earth, the oceans, the desert, and came down from the heavens. They united their lands and for a thousand years fought off the scourges of evil that plagued the world – a thousand years they battled?” Aria asked halting her lessons and looked up Elder Rigby. He was once a Temple Master, still was in Aria’s eyes. Aria was skeptical of her night history lesson and gave her elder an incredulous look.
“Yes, it is known,” Rigby grumbled, shuffling his weary feet to sit down on a stool across the table from Aria. She looked at him under the flicker of candlelight. He was frail, old, and bald but save for the wisps of white hairs that stemmed from his temples, but his robes were always in perfect order. Aria felt it within her… Rigby was dying, soon her guardian would pass from this world… which meant Aria would have to move on and go in search of the Guardians meant to save the Four Provinces.
“Says the scroll,” Aria challenged. The entire table was littered with scrolls saved and salvaged from ravaged temples across the land. “How did the Guardians even manage to keep a mortal host alive for a thousand years?”
“How do you know they didn’t?” Rigby challenged back. “The Holy Ones are still a mystery to this day –they are Gods, they do not need to explain themselves, or have reasons for why they do what they do.”
“But the Guardians have found new hosts,” Aria tried.
“Yes, and when the time comes, you will have to depart to find them. Now finish reading the scroll on the creation of the Wastelands,” He commanded of her. Aria gave him a last look before looking down at the scroll and reading the flourishing script.

“Caledon the Mighty carried his war hammer swinging with lethal grace. With one strike to the ground, the Earth opened into a chasm and swallowed the Demon Hoards whole. Fenlyk the Siren, filled the chasm with her water drowning them, creating the River Nine. Jaihash the Quick and Volshiv the Tempest claimed those that did not fall or drown. Jaihash created a poisonous cloud that Volshiv sent on the wind to choke and decimate the hoards. Thus the Wastelands were created. Jaihash seeing what the work of his poison had accomplished, claimed the southern battlefields as his own. He claimed victory of the land and vowed his people would be filled with fire in their veins to propel them in life in a barren landscape. With the great battle over, and a thousand years of War finally ended the Guardians set up council in their own City. Azeroth, the High God-“

Aria had to stop her reading, the sudden sound of a loud bang came upon the front door. Rigby frowned, and both of them wondered who on Earth would be banging on their door this late in the night.
“Stay seated, Aria,” Rigby ordered. Aria stayed as instructed but watched as Rigby answered the door. They Smith’s boy rushed in quickly, looking flushed and sweaty. He must have rode from the town to their small cottage right on the Fenlyk and Caledon boarder.
“Elder Rigby,” The Smith’s boy bowed quickly. “Priestess,” He bowed again as Aria finally rose to her feet and walked over. A Sense of dread was filling in her chest. Whatever news he brought could not be good.
“What is it Balden?” Rigby demanded.
“Malik’s men. They’re in the Village. It’s a raid. If they find Lady Aria they will kill her, or worse. I rode from the Smithy, stole a horse from the stables and tried to get to you as quickly as possible.” He said breathlessly. Aria tensed. Malik’s men were here. “And there’s more. It’s not just soldiers. Malik has sent something darker,”
“What is it boy, spit it out!” Rigby shouted.
“Malik has a Mage.”

Aria felt the world shift. A Mage? She’d read about them, Rigby had told her stories of them. They were dark sorcerers and rare. The gift of magic was incredibly rare, but sometimes when one is desperate and greedy for power, they can sell their soul to the Demons of Olde and will be imbued with their dark magical gifts. From his place Rigby seemed to go into a panic.
“They must know she is here! We must be quick! Balden you will take Aria away from here. Balden gasped.
“Elder Rigby, Balden is only a boy of ten and four, you can’t expect him to come as my guard,” Aria protested. It gave Rigby pause as he hurriedly packed a sack with food.
“And he will be killed with the rest of us if he stays.” Aria and Balden shared a look. “Now quickly child, go gather your things. It is time for you to leave.”
“I can’t leave you behind!” Aria tried to protest.
“Mi’lady, we must hurry if we wish to get out of here before Malik’s men reach this place,” Balden attempted. Aria felt hesitant. She didn’t want to leave Rigby behind, but deep inside she had known Rigby would be dying soon. She just hoped it would be a peaceful death, turns out it was going to be bloody and violent.

Aria made quick work to pack her lonely little bag with a small set of clothes and other essentials. Grabbing her bow-staff she hurried from the small cottage and even in the night she saw the amber glow of fire coming from the village above the treetops. She was nearly stunned to stillness if not for Balden who quickly pushed her towards his horse. Aria straddled the saddle behind Balden and Rigby came forward tying the sack of food to the saddle and handed Balden an old sword.
"Use this well Balden, protect Aria -help her get to the Central City. It is time for her to fulfill her destiny. You are here for a reason, my boy." Balden sat straighter and took the Templar blade with a firm hand.
"I will do my best Father Rigby," Balden said and without further pretense kicked the sides of his horse to carry Aria far away from the burning village.

It was not long after Aria and the young Balden left did Malik's troops come upon the quaint little cottage. Elder Rigby was waiting for them. Sitting inside at the table when they smashed the door down with a hurdled ball of flame. Rigby did not move even as the men came and swarmed around him, blades and crossbows aimed for his frail old body. Others began to ransack the house, turning over tables, throwing open closet doors and ripping the insides out. They turned the cottage inside out, all in an attempt to find Aria. The scavenging didn't cease even as a three men entered, two large and terrifying soldiers flanked one man who slowly began to remove his black leather gloves. Rigby stared him down, taking in his appearance. Pale sickly skin, marked and pocked, even tattooed from his jaw down disappearing into his robes; his hair was as red and wild as the fire he wielded, and his teeth were filed to points aged yellow and decayed from lack of hygiene. Black leather and Red brocade made his robes, and as his black eyes settled on Rigby he grinned.
"Elder Rigby... so I've finally found the Temple Master of Azeroth," the Mage crooned, his voice like saccharine acid.
"You have found nothing but an old man," Rigby told him calmly. "And you will find nothing more here." The Mage walked around the table and sat down across from him. The soldiers that surrounded Rigby backed away allowing the men to talk without weapons in their way.
"So she is gone?" He asked. "The little Priestess you've tried so hard to keep hidden away?" Rigby remained silent. "You know I'll find her, and when I do I will present her to King Malik and he will cut out her still beating heart. You can't stop him you know?"
"I know I can not stop him. That is not my task," Rigby defended. He needed to stall for time, give Aria and Balden as much time as he could to let them make an escape. The Mage chuckled darkly.
"You are an old fool. You think she can?"
"By herself? No. With the help of the Guardians? Yes." The Mage's dark grin vanished into a sneer of absolute loathing disgust.
"She will die by Malik's hands before she ever finds the first,"
"Agree to disagree," Rigby glared. Under the table his hands balled into white knuckled fists.
"Where is she headed?" Rigby went silent. He would not reveal Aria and Balden's direction. "I'll ask again old man," the Mage growled his short ream of patience coming to an end. "Where is she?"

Rigby held his silence, even as the soldiers ripped him from his seat and dragged him outside towards a tree where a noose was already hanging. They tortured him, and yet he refused to answer. They beat him, they cut him, to took from him his ears, a finger, they even took an eye, and when their torture came to an end -as did Rigby's life, they hung him from the noose and left him to hang there and rot. Then they burned the cottage and the gardens around it.
  *Aria Tolshiv / darien / 345d 18h 6m 49s

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