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[center [I [size30 ❇❇♥❇❇]]]
Saraya's giggles were quickly halted by his sudden turn of duty. Saraya chuckled as she sat up, watching him put on his armor as he asked her to accompany him and Aria. Before she could answer, though, there were feverish knocks on the doors to their nest. Carrick grunted in frustration, but Saraya had another reaction in mind. She, before he could react, had collected and covered herself in a blanket before he proceeded in answering the door. After a few words of the Watcher, Carrick had closed the door, giving her time to dress in privacy.
Saraya smiled as she hurried to dress. [I "I'll come, Carrick. The matter is as important to me as it is to Aria and you"] Carrick smiled as he once again closed the gap between then and planted a love- filled kiss on her forehead before kneeling. He rubbed her belly and said his I love you's to their son, all the while looking up to her. He whispered one more to her before hurrying to meet the Priestess.
It didn't take her long to dress after he had left to collect Aria. She found a flowing gown suitable for audiences, and she dressed it with a elegant robe to hide her shoulders. She left her feet bare, and turned to the door, and was greeted by Watchers, who all agreed to escort The Lady Saraya to the Sanctum.
Saraya could only guess, but she didn't want to alarm anyone. Considering what had happened, Rhuarc no doubt had relayed that detail to her when she had awakened. Since those wee hours, she's been using Arcane powers... Only a little. Just interrogating Giji was but an experimental attempt, to see if they were controllable in uncontrollable circumstances. So far, there was a controlled balance with her, her Spirit powers and her father's Arcane ability of darkness. But, there was a matter of a surge of power that she felt from Aria. With possibility that Aria had met her ancestor, it could be detail on her father's behalf. That was for another time, for this one came with a series of questions that was in need of answering.
Saraya had met with Carrick before entering into the Sanctum. She saw Aria, who spotted her... She could tell the Priestess had questions and wanted to hug her. But, duty called, and it wasn't trying to be rude, but Saraya nodded to her and looked forward. She waited along with everyone for the doors to open... And they entered, surrounding the Priestess as they all were swallowed by the darkness.
The quiet Sanctum was pregnant with few bodies... One was The tired Adimar. He saw Saraya, and smiled. Adjacent to him was two men... One of which Ursula announced was Lord Aethon and Karrot. There was an odd presence around the two, but, she settled her thoughts and took her place beside Carrick, who stood to the right of Aria.
Rhuarc stood to the Left, with Lara standing next to him. Saraya could see Aria's nervousness. She sighed as she looked to the Guardians, and then to their visitors. Lord Aethon... What was interesting was Adimar seemed on edge about him being there. She could sense uncertainty and nervousness throughout the Sanctum, and as the visitor spoke, it made her uneasy.
The silent Saraya heard The Lord's nonchalant greeting. She knew he was a skeptic, and as she watched, she could tell that he wasn't going to be fair. Aria had something else in mind.
[b “You will understand I am under a very tight time frame. The Defeat of Malik is my top priority and I can not waste precious time or resources to appease your King. My word should be enough, but if it is a demonstration of power you wish…”] Saraya began to feel a sort of charge in the room. The Lord began to express a feature of shock, as did some of the Watchers that had the pleasure of seeing her authenticity.
[center The two seemed to stare one another down]
Saraya felt a twinge... A silent voice of Caledon had surfaced, telling her to breathe. Saraya felt the power of Aria and it was making her slightly lightheaded. But, she did what she was told, breathing slowly and deeply. As the room began to fill with a static charge, it made it harder for her to even breathe. From where she stood, everything began to spark into colors before she felt a sort of relief, leaving her in a certain state of nausea. By that time, Aria had began wiping something from her face, and Saraya began trying to catch her breath.
[b “Are you satisfied?”] Saraya heard from Aria. It seemed strained, and Saraya could only try to breathe as deeply as possible so her knees wouldn't buckle, but to herself, she felt she was losing that battle. From where she stood, she saw bewildered and confused looks. She could only keep her composure for as long as possible, so not to worry the others.
[b [i “My apologizes High Priestess. Anything you require to help you succeed, the Volshi Empire will offer it to you.”]] Saraya could see that his man, Karrot was his name, had other matters.
[i [u “What was the meaning of that?”]] He began. Saraya's nausea was cut through with her concern for what he was about to say. [i [u "You assaulted a member of the Volshi Royal Family. Priestess or not, the act is punishable-“]] Swords sang as quickly as he spoke. As Carrick drew his sword, Saraya, without thinking raised her hand as if clutching a bow and arrow, and in her hands, black smoke dispersed from them, forming a bow and arrow, and she held it, not knowing her nausea was returning.
[u “Choose your next words carefully little man,”] Carrick's voice rang in her ear, and Saraya's words came like the wind, but her soft words began to impregnate the room, and it shook even Rhuarc and Adimar.
[I "You will not touch her... Nor threaten her, lowly guard... "]
Saraya heard Aria speak [b “No need for threats, Captain. Mr. Karrot simply had an error of judgement.”] and heard Carrick sheathe his sword. She sighed as she opened her hands, and the smokey bow and arrow had disappeared, but as soon as she did, the fatigue she felt caught up to her, and it made her dizzy.
Rhuarc spoke, and it helped her fight to stand. [b [u "Calm yourself, I remind you of the conditions that that meeting is taking place under. You WILL show the High Priestess the respect that she deserves."]]
[b [u "Has this meeting not run its course? Your purpose was to ascertain that The High Priestess is who she claims to be, I think we can all agree that there can be no doubt of that. The time has come for you to stand up to Shade-stealer. My people have been fighting and dying since he first took the throne for himself while you hid away in your mountains. Stand up to him and join the fight, I believe that The High Priestess in front of you now can do what no one else could. I believe that she can bring down the false king and restore peace to the land. Will you fight with us? What say you?"]]
[u “Now that you have your verification, you will understand the severity of our need for cooperation and help from the Four Provinces,”] she heard Adimar begin... But, that's all she could hear. She felt the room begin to spin on her. She slowly began to lift her hand to her head. There were voices, then distortion... She shivered as she felt her knees buckle. By then, Carrick had noticed her change in atmosphere. He turned to her, asking if she was alright. She breathed in before looking to him. [I "Y... Yes, I'm fine... I-i... "]
A quick exhale and a faint came. Adimar gasped out of his list of requirements to hurry to her. Carrick yelled to a Watcher to get water and ordered another to get a seat for her. She tried to wake up, but all it did was make her body seem heavier. She could see Carrick as she breathed in deeply. [I "I- I haven't eaten yet... I'm sorry, I... "]
Carrick hushed her, telling her that she should just relax and breathe. A watcher came and put down a seat and he set her down on it. Adimar poured water and gave it to Carrick while hurrying to get some fruit. Aria, Rhuarc and Lara looked to her, in some concern. Saraya tried breathing in some so to tell them to continue with the conversation, but she was too breathless to speak at the moment. Karrot's voice broke through the mess, and it started some trouble.
[I [u "This is suppose to be your Guardian? A wench that makes a scene will not be beneficial to anything to this woman... "]] Saraya's gaze darted to Karrot through the crowd. Carrick turned to Karrot, with a threatening look on his face. [I [u "Who is this woman everyone is protecting so closely, isn't this woman a Priestess? "]] he asked, pointing to Aria. Saraya, though she felt nauseated, felt a surge of power in her arm, and reached out, trapping the guard in a shadowy grip, lifting him off the ground. Carrick gasped at the push of power, and Adimar only watched in amazement.
[I "I am the very thing that will hurt you if you speak further, guard. I am The Caledon Spirit... And if you want to save your skin, I would suggest you bite your tongue"] she growled.
She dropped him before being hugged by Carrick. He looked to Aria, in a silent plea to remove their visitor for a moment before Saraya could get any more upset. Adimar gave her some fruit as she finished her cup of water. She ate some, then sighed as she breathed in.
Aria had asked for them to wait outside, and once they were gone, everyone looked to Saraya. Carrick was the first to try to explain, then Adimar, but both were beating around the bush of the truth. Saraya tried breathing in some through Carrick's protective arms and said a simple sentence. [I "I carry Carrick's child... "]
She felt his arms hug around her as she stayed within them. [I "The Mage had used Giji as a host for his deception. After the attack, I've claimed my arcane power of my father, Hïgàsçá... At that time, my father explained that The Mage was trying to get to me... Use me as a vice to carry his child... But, my father told me that I am carrying Carrick's son... Our son Aramis, from my vision in the Trials... "]
Adimar and Carrick exchanged looks to each other before Saraya looked to the group. [i "It is so much to explain in so little time, Aria... Just know this, Hïgàsçá, my father, was not a villain... "]
She felt the nausea return and hid her face into Carrick's chest plate, trying to keep the room from spinning. [I "The time has come... We must leave for Fenlyk... My father says that there isn't much time before Malik overpowers the people left there. Send in the Lord Aethon. We must finish this meeting... Forget about me right now"] she urged, putting on a brave face, trying to quickly regain her composure
Aria might have expected Rhuarc to shut Aria away in her quarters and only let her out for the necessary events as he had tried in Tanaka but that had failed to have the desired effect, it had only served as the start of the wedge that had developed between Aria and Rhuarc. If she wanted to see the city then see Kil'heed she would, and as far as Rhuarc could tell she was safer with him than locked in a room when there were watchers that he did not trust. [b "I too have seen my blade's counterpart...I saw it during my trials. Shade-stealer was wielding it with an impressive amount of skill."] This was the first time that Rhuarc had told anyone what he had seen in his trials, he of course had not told Aria the whole story or even what trial his vision had been a part of but he remembered the casual ease at which Malik had used his own blade of midnight black steel, it was not surprising to hear that what he had seen was true. It was, however, interesting to hear that the sword had once belonged to Azera...there was much to ponder in that. The Jai could see that the Priestess was uneasy about the blood sacrifice but it did not matter much to the Jai, in his view his eyes his own blood was of little importance. [b "Priestess, if you require my blood you should have it. It has already been spilled in defiance of the false king and it will spill again before all of this has ended. Worry not, we will bring him down."]
As it became apparent that the blade that Aria was looking for had been removed the two figures left the armoury and immediately met with Lara, who again warned Aria of Luther. That was pleasing to Rhuarc, Lara always spoke her mind and did not let what anyone else thought impose on her own views. If Lara had misgivings about Luther then it was not simply because Rhuarc distrusted the watcher but for her own reasons. Rhuarc could not help but think that he was not being hasty to distrust, after all it was not all Watchers that he distrusted, just Luther. As the Jai was thinking over the issue with Luther he was approached by the man himself, thankfully the Watcher was accompanied by Ursula and her other officers who relayed a message that had been sent to them by Balden. So the boy had not simply abandoned them, he was working on preparing the Four Provinces for Aria's eventual arrival and the over throw of Malik. It was a bold and dangerous move and while the Jai could appreciate the risk the kid was taking it didn't change the fact that he left them. He could have done just as much good staying with the group, Rhuarc knew that it was petty but he was still bitter at the boy for abandoning them all.
Aria and Lara departed to prepare for the meeting with the Volshi emissary and Rhuarc decided that he should also play his part in the meeting, after all he had given his word that he would broker the meeting and he felt that it was right if he escorted Lord Aethon to meet the High Priestess, of course he also had to find the blade that Aria claimed to be so important, and if she truly felt that way then he was sure that it was. It wasn't long before the Jai and the Shield Maiden were escorting Adimar's father and Karrot to finally meet the High Priestess of Azera. [i “Lord Aethon, it is my great pleasure to introduce to you The Guardians of Azera and her Holiness, The High Priestess of Azeroth.”] Rhuarc moved and took his place beside Aria and his fellow Guardians, Adimar looked terrible almost as if he hadn't slept in weeks, whatever he had been doing through the night had certainly taken his toll on the Prince. Carrick on the other hand looked resplendent in his new armour, he was the archetypal image of a Captain of the Holy Guard and Rhuarc was confident that he would do his duty magnificently. The room was unmistakably set against the two Volshi men, you had the High Priestess, her Guardians and the Watchers of Kil'heed...it struck an impressive image. The meeting started just as Rhuarc would have imagined, with Lord Aethon demanding verification that Aria was indeed the High Priestess that she claimed to be and just then Aria displayed her power to Lord Aethon. Rhuarc had never seen this particular display of Aria's abilities and it fascinated the Jai to see that she was also growing in her strength. It seemed that the Trials that she faced had also done more than solidify her determination and strengthen her resolve, it seemed that her powers had also developed. That was when Karrot objected to the...methods that Aria chose to use in order to provide verification. As one the ring of swords from scabbards echoed around the room as the Watchers and Carrick unsheathed their swords and held them out towards Karrot, the Volshi now looking decidedly nervous. Rhiuarc didn't move an inch, his steely gaze just grew colder as it bored into Karrot. The Jai made no move towards his weapon as he was more than capable of ripping the man apart with his bare hands, in fact at that moment a weapon might have just slowed him down. [b "Calm yourself, I remind you of the conditions that that meeting is taking place under. You WILL show the High Priestess the respect that she deserves."]
[b "Has this meeting not run its course? Your purpose was to ascertain that The High Priestess is who she claims to be, I think we can all agree that there can be no doubt of that. The time has come for you to stand up to Shade-stealer. My people have been fighting and dying since he first took the throne for himself while you hid away in your mountains. Stand up to him and join the fight, I believe that The High Priestess in front of you now can do what no one else could. I believe that she can bring down the false king and restore peace to the land. Will you fight with us? What say you?"] The question hung in the air as it was asked, how would these proud Volshi men respond to his challenge? That was up to them, Rhuarc did have one other matter to attend to later in the day, and as he watched Carrick sheath his new sword Rhuarc glanced towards Aria also looking at the sword, was that the blade she was looking for? Carrick would need to put together Aria's Holy Guard and Rhuarc wanted to be there for that, he wanted to keep an eye on who the former blacksmith chose to surround the Priestess with and he wanted to stay close to that sword if possible.
Carrick had found Saraya with no problem, in fact it had been all too easy. He could feel her, hear her, it was as if she was one with him. She was heavy with desire and need, which in turn made him the same way. He knew he had to focus on a specific task, but the moment he caught her scent he had run like a lovesick puppy to her. He found her deep in thought and feeling her sensation of disquiet. It compelled him to simply walk up to her and hold her, where he wrapped his arms about her waist and whispered his concern into her ear. He had sought her out to ease the sensation in his body that made it ache with want and need. It was enough to coax Saraya away from the halls and back to their room, where they entertained one another for the rest of the night and even into morning.
Saraya woke him up with a gentle caress and soft words. It was nice, waking up in a bed beside her. She bid him to wake up and he did so with a smile.
“Good morning, my love…” he greeted, his voice was harsh from sleep and he cupped her soft cheek in his rough hewn hand, content to simply watch her bathed in morning sunlight. It warmed his heart to see her, but he felt an unease from her and it gave him cause for worry, despite how she tried to tell him she was fine. Apparently the Priestess was awake. That was enough to get him from their bed where he quickly set to dress and ready himself for his day. He had donned his clothes, when he began to shove his feet into his boots that he became aware that Saraya had been watching him. She was overwhelmed with emotions and sensations, and he was glad to bare some of that burden for her. It was an interesting sensation, being so connected. Before he could ask her what the matter was, her lips were upon his in a fierce kiss. It stunned him for only a moment, until she broke it and whispered in his ear to be ready for the call. He only grinned back and picked her up before tumbling back into the bed with her. “That is easier said than done when you kiss me like that,” he teased, and in turn peppered her face and neck with kisses. It should have been playful, but the heady mix of their scents and their desires threatened to take him away from his duty and his plans.
He had to force himself away from her, and stepped back to grab his armor, which he began to put on. “I will be ready. I intend to build the beginnings of the Priestess’ Holy Guard today. Care to join and help with the selection process?” He asked, but before she could answer a knock came upon their door. Carrick answered to see a Watcher who informed them that the Priestess had called upon her Guardians and Council to meet with the Volshi Emissary right away. Carrick assured them, they would be there and then closed the door to allow Saraya privacy to get dressed. He hurried over towards her, planting a kiss to her cheek. “I suppose we have a change of plans for the morning. Hurry, dress my love. We both know the Priestess will want you at her side. She plans to meet with the Volshi Envoy that is here, as well as relay some important information to us. I will see you in the Sanctum, and stay out of trouble. I don’t think my heart can bare another attack,” he warned with love, kissing her temple and then cupping her stomach where he whispered ‘I love you’s’ to his love and unborn child before he grabbed his cloak and sword, hurrying from the room.
Carrick made his way up the many steps towards Aria’s room where he found Varis and Luther keeping watch. Being captain of Aria’s Guard, Carrick had rank over the Watchers, and he walked right up to the door, knocked and waited for the door to open. Luckily, Carrick did not have to wait long as the door finally opened and Aria exited dressed in robes befitting a High Priestess of Azera. Her hair was brushed, her face washed, and her feet bare. Carrick could have sworn she looked nervous, but he made no comment, instead he smiled at her. “You look lovely,” He told her, which allowed Aria to smile softly and relax. “Priestess, I am here to escort you,” He bowed slightly and waited for her to pass and followed her down.
They arrived at the Sanctum where they met everyone there for the meeting. Adimar was there looking like he hadn’t slept since interrogating Gigi with Saraya, but he was presentable and came posed with a warning. His father was cunning, and though he would try to help, Adimar couldn’t make any promises that his father would listen. This was disheartening for Carrick to hear, the airship would be valuable, and he could only hope this Lord Aethon was a reasonable man. He glanced at Saraya giving her a gentle smile before they all began to filter inside the Sanctum.
It was the same cavernous space as when they first entered and seemed to swallow them whole. Waiting for them all was Lord Aethon and his man, along with several Watchers. Ursula was there and made the introductions.
“Lord Aethon, it is my great pleasure,” though she sounded as if she’d rather have her teeth pulled, “to introduce to you The Guardians of Azera and her Holiness, The High Priestess of Azeroth.” Lord Aethon, and Karrot bowed to Aria as she made her way in and took the only seat in the room.
From where he stood Adimar watched with a tired expression. He had been up all night researching what Egos could be up to. Buried neck deep in books and scrolls, Adimar hadn’t managed to sleep, but he was close to finding out what it was that Egos wanted, and he was sure if he’d had more time he would have found a protection spell for Saraya and Carrick’s child. At the same time, it was almost surreal to be standing in the Sanctum of Kil’heed with the High Priestess, playing politics. Adimar didn’t even have time to truly advise her on Volshi ettiequte or what sort of man his father really was.
“High Priestess, you honor us with your presence,” Lord Aethon stated with a deep bow. Aria stared him down looking rather regal and confident -though the Guardians knew better. There was a nervousness in her gaze, and a tension in her bare shoulders. Adimar knew his father would see it, and try to use it to his advantage.
“The Honor is mine Lord Aethon. I apologize for making you wait so long to meet. I was informed by my council that you are here on behalf of your King.” Lord Aethon gave another respectful bow to Aria, confirming that it was true and proceeding to claim he wished for her to visit with the King in Aero City where they could verify she was truly who she said she was. Aria did not look amused. “You will understand I am under a very tight time frame. The Defeat of Malik is my top priority and I can not waste precious time or resources to appease your King. My word should be enough, but if it is a demonstration of power you wish…” Aria’s voice faded and her eyes flashed a violent magenta and from his place Lord Aethon tensed, eyes going wide and bugging out of his head.
The two seemed to stare one another down, Aria with a look of extreme concentration and intimidation. While Lord Aethon seemed frozen in horror, unable to breathe or move. The room filled with a static charge, the power leaking off of Aria in waves, reaching a tipping point until it finally seemed to snap and Lord Aethon gasped, falling to his hands and knees. From her seat, Aria’s head tipped forward, and she reached up to wipe a trail of blood that had begun to trickle from her nose and her eyes were bloodshot.
“Are you satisfied?” Aria rasped. Lord Aethon, nodded his head rapidly and managed back to his feet with the help of Karrot. Confused looks decorated the faces of those in the room. Adimar certainly wondered what Aria had done or said to Lord Aethon within his own mind.
“My apologizes High Priestess. Anything you require to help you succeed, the Volshi Empire will offer it to you.” From his position Karrot glared.
“What was the meaning of that?” He demanded darkly. “You assaulted a member of the Volshi Royal Family. Priestess or not, the act is punishable-“ Suddenly Karrot silenced his own words as the Watchers of the room turned their weapons on him, including Carrick who had unsheathed his sword from where he stood at Aria’s side.
“Choose your next words carefully little man,” Carrick warned and held the sword out. Aria could hear the sword song and her eyes went right to it. She reached out and touched Carrick’s hand to lower his weapon.
“No need for threats, Captain. Mr. Karrot simply had an error of judgement.” Carrick resheathed his new blade, and it had not gone unnoticed by Aria. Adimar knew then it was his time to speak to his father, and ensure they got all that they would need.
“Now that you have your verification, you will understand the severity of our need for cooperation and help from the Four Provinces,” Adimar told his father. The man was shaken, clearly having not expected Aria to enter his mind as she had, making it clear to all of them in the room, she would not allow herself to be trifled with, and she did not have time for games. She was here to get down to business and Lord Aethon realized, as he looked at the other Guardians, he would not be able to play his usual games….
The morning was quiet, a gentle breeze came down from the mountains and over the city. The sun was beginning to paint the horizon in corals, and burning orange that pushed the darkness of night away. She was content to sit there and just watch the world wake up, but she was startled from her quiet contemplation when she heard a voice call her title. She gasped, and spun her head around to see Rhuarc standing in her room. She giggled to herself as he spoke, and allowed herself to relax. She gave Rhuarc her undivided attention. She had to lean back on one hand to see his face. He told her, much to her shock, about Saraya’s latest attack. This was concerning for Aria to hear, she couldn’t let one of The Guardians be taken or killed before they had a chance to face Malik. There was the matter of needing to travel soon as Kil’heed was not as safe as they believed it to be and Aria could only nod her head in agreement, letting him continue to give her the disheartening news, including Ayab’s wound. She frowned to hear that and looked to Rhuarc with a determined look.
[+purple “The path to Fenlyk won’t be the safest from here… but we will go. Ayab is one of us, and I think he is just as much a Guardian as Carrick. I won’t let him fall victim to this wound, and I will do what I can to learn what I can from this Medici as well… so I can be of better help in the future,”] She murmured looking away and feeling lacking. Ursula had said she could do healing, but without the knowledge, it was a power that lay unused, like so much of her untapped powers.
According to Rhuarc, that wasn’t all. He relayed the exact message Ursula had about the Volshi emissary. However, Ursula had not mentioned the use of a Volshi Airship or that the emissary was Adimar’s father. It was per Rhuarc’s suggestion that she meet with them that Aria finally decided to give it thought. From the ledge she sat on, she could see the two Air ships floating off the Battlements.
[+purple “If you think me meeting with the Volshi Emissary is the right idea… I will go, but I think I want Adimar to advise me in all things political. He’s grown up in the court, and seems to know his way around such things, and his silver tongue should come in handy. Besides, if this is his father, then who better to help me get what we need out of this man, than his son?”] She asked finally feeling hopeful. [+purple “Perhaps we can make them part with an Airship and we can use it to carry Ayab to the Medici.”] Rhuarc seemed to approve of her decision, and then surprisingly seemed to hesitate. [+purple “What is it?”] She asked, and Rhuarc posed a question she was not expecting.
[b “What do you think of the Watcher Luther?”] Aria’s brows lifted in surprise. She stared at Rhuarc uncertainly for a moment, wondering why he might ask her such a thing. Slowly her own face twisted into one of uncertainty, but she would answer Rhuarc honestly. It caused a small smile to grace her face, a sort of pleasure to know she wasn’t the only one with reservations about Luther. [+purple “I feel there is more to Master Luther than meets the eye. He’s hard to read… but I sense he’s already lied to me at least once…”] She pursed her lips in thought and irritation at the notion he would so easily do such a thing to her. She wasn’t ready to divulge what it was she suspected Luther lying about, and instead focused on the most important task. Meeting with the Volshi Emissary. [+purple “Let’s deal with that as it comes, and keep it between us. For now what we need to focus on is getting Malik off our trail and getting Ayab to the Medici. They’re the only one who can help him.”]
Rhuarc agreed, and stated that if the meeting would take place he wanted his coveted blade, which was kept in the armory. He invited her to tag along, which was strange as Aria was almost certain Rhuarc would have preferred she stay locked up in this room. Thankfully she was wrong, and the armory was the perfect place for her to go. Perhaps she could find the Harbinger there. She grinned, jumping to her feet and brushing out her skirt quickly and leading the way to the door almost excitedly. She swung the door open bouncing on her feet and made her envy known. [+purple “I’ve been so jealous that you all got to explore already, I want to see Kil’heed for myself.”] So they walked side by side down to the Armory.
The Armory was guarded by two devoted Watchers, who stopped them from entering, but once Aria introduced herself and Rhuarc, they quickly stepped aside and allowed them entrance. Aria’s jaw slackened at the sight of dusty weapons. They were everywhere, from spears and halberds, to axes and a spiked club that looked quite horrifying to Aria. She wasn’t looking for anything like that though, what she wanted was a sword. She stared by parting from Rhuarc’s side to cross the armory where a table full of swords laid out was sitting. She looked over every sword, even picking a couple up and looking them over. None were the Harbinger from her vision. Rhuarc must have found his blade, because he seemed wrapped up in his own task on the other side of the armory. Aria had waded herself into a cluttered corner and was looking under tarps, and saddle blankets. She crouched down low and looked under tables and moved piles, all with no luck. She knew it could take her all day just to search the massive armory for a single sword. Rhuarc’s task took no time at all for him, and before she could even really begin to tear the armory apart, he was behind her.
[b “You never struck me as one with much interest in weapons Priestess, are you looking for anything in particular?”] She blushed and smiled, caught red handed in her task before abandoning the pile she was digging through, already she’d managed a smudge of dust to stain her pale cheek. She looked around, distracted with her task, but she stopped as she checked the door to make certain it was shut. She looked to Rhuarc and stood back up, brushing the dust on her hands off on her skirt without a care.
[+purple “I… I had a vision. While I was sleeping, Azera came to me she showed me a memory from her life, and in it was a tool, a sword I can use to capture Malik and destroy him.”]
She saw Rhuarc’s blade wrapped up in cloth and safe in his hands. [+purple “I saw your blade in my vision too,”] She confessed. [+purple “It has a sibling. I saw it. It was Azera’s, but she gave it to Malik, and in turn Malik gave her his sword to carry, and that’s the one I need. It was called the Harbinger of Justice. Azera told me I have to take it to Fenlyk and cleanse it…”] She hesitated with the next bit, and decided in that moment to withhold the last of the steps in destroying Malik. [+purple “Then I’ll need each of the Guardians to offer a blood sacrifice over the blade before it can be used to pierce Malik’s heart and trap him within the blade. I just need to find it. Azera said it was here, in Kil’heed. I was hoping I would find it here, but I don’t see it anywhere,”] she sighed looking around once more in the hopes it would show itself, but with no luck.
[i -close your eyes, and feel for it. Reach out for what it is you seek and it will show you the way…-]
Aria could hear the voice in her mind. The knowing. That whispering power that had kept Aria on her path. She stepped away from Rhuarc and the pile she was digging through to stand in the center of the armory. Taking a steady breath, she closed her eyes and stood in the silence, she reached out to feel the magic in the fortress, and there was a lot of it. How would she ever sift through all of this to find a sword? The most overwhelming force was that within the walls of Kil’heed, she even felt Rhuarc’s presence in the room with her, then she felt the other Guardians, The Watchers, but it wasn’t what she was looking for. She tried picturing the blade in her mind and sure enough, she felt its echo in the room.
[+purple “It was here…”] Her feet carried her to where it had been hiding, her eyes still closed but her powers still reaching out to find it. She stopped just shy of a weapon stand, and opened her eyes. She attempted to push the weapons out of her way, struggling with the weight of it until Rhuarc came over and helped her move it with nearly no effort. Sure enough, behind the weapons rack was the outline of a sword on the floor. Dust had fallen around it, but the blade was now missing. [+purple “It’s been moved…”] She murmured and reached out to the floor to touch the space it had once inhabited. How had a blade such as that been so carelessly thrown away, and who had it now? She stood up with a defeated sigh, but she wasn’t going to give up. She would find it in time.
She knew the weapon was not in the armory, and so it was pointless to continue searching. Defeated for now, but not ready to give up, Aria left the Armory with Rhuarc in tow, and walked right into Lara who was entering at the same moment. She wanted desperately to go outside and into the city, she wanted to see one of those Airships as well. Sadly there was so much she wished to do, but no time to do it, and after what happened in Tanaka and again with Saraya, Aria knew she couldn’t leave the Holy Temple alone. Perhaps Lara would like to go! She and Rhuarc were finally back on speaking terms, and she didn’t want to ruin that -nor betray his trust again. She greeted Lara, pleased to see her down in the Armory with them, and was further shocked by her question concerning Luther’s strange behavior.
Aria shared a glance with Rhuarc and frowned. This was concerning. Lara was the second person to warn of Luther. It left a sour taste in Aria’s mouth.
[+purple “Well… perhaps you think he is acting strange, but we do not know him well enough to know what his normal behavior is like. Perhaps he is acting completely normal by the standards of those who know him best. I…”] Aria chose her next words closely just in case the walls could listen. Knowing Malik’s Mage could breech these walls and that two of the Guardians had suspicions of a Watcher made Aria cautious. [+purple “Would suggest we all be cautious of those we meet until Malik is destroyed, but we also need to make sure we are open to the opportunity to build bridges and create friendships. Malik’s forces outnumbered us a 1000 to 1 when we entered these gates. That was six months ago, and I’m sure his forces have grown. We need all the friends and allies we can get. Let’s not be hasty to distrust.”] Aria smiled to Lara and reached out to grip her shoulder when they were greeted by the sounds of armor coming to meet them.
They were greeted by Ursula, her second Varis, a group of five watchers, including the one who had informed Rhuarc about Saraya’s attack, and Luther.
“High Priestess,” Ursula greeted and all of them quickly bowed to her. “We have news. A Message has just arrived from Central City.” Ursula held out a rolled bit of parchment and Aria took it curiously to read.
[center [i Resistance is moving. C.C. is fallen. Civilians have been evacuated from C.C. Malik raising army of Dragur. Currently in the ten thousands. Southern boarder still holding. Five Thousand Dragur march from C.C. to Volshi. Fenlyk Overrun. Leaving C.C. for Fenlyk. Will attempt to bolster underground resistance. Stay Safe.]]
[right [i -Balden]]
Aria gasped, a hand covering her mouth as she realized the note came from Balden. She turned from the Watchers to Rhuarc and Lara, informing them that Balden had left to do more for them than they could do from Kil’heed. He hadn’t abandoned them, he was helping to prepare for their coming. There was just something off about it, as if this was not the first message to come through… were there others? She eyed Luther for a moment, unsure, but looked back to the message and Lara. She couldn’t let her own bias and assumptions cloud her judgement -not until she had evidence. Balden was heading towards Fenlyk, which meant they might be able to catch up to him. [+purple “Time is more precious than ever before. Ursula, find me the Volshi Emissary, and notify Adimar and Saraya. We must prepare for the coming scourge.”]
“You cannot be here when they strike,” Ursula warned. Aria, swallowed her nervousness down but maintained a look of bravery.
[+purple “I know, but what about the people here?”] They had followed her from Tanaka to rebuild their lives here.
“Kil’heed will protect them, but only if you leave,” Varis told her in his gruff voice. Aria knew he was right. She could not stay if she wanted the people to stay safe.
[+purple “Have we sent out scouts?”]Aria asked, her mind racing.
“No, but we can and we will at your request,” Varis mentioned. Aria nodded and instructed they do so immediately to better gauge how much time in Kil’heed she had left to find the sword, and move to the next temple. Ursula instructed her men to move, two raced off to find the other guardians, another rushed outside to find the Emissary, and the other two to send out scouts. Ursula left to see to the preparations for Aria’s meeting with Lord Aethon, while Varis and Luther remained to stand watch over her.
Aria remained in the hall, clutching the message in her hand and looked to the window and out at the people. So much of the city had changed, and the world was changing too. She looked down at Balden’s writing and felt a glimmer of hope. He was out there working to help her succeed. He was spreading the word that Aria was coming to reclaim the Holy Septum and the city.
“Priestess, we should hurry you to prepare for your meeting with the Volshi Emissary,” Luther suggested from where he stood. Aria knew she had to get presentable, and she knew she couldn’t make another move until she had that airship and the Harbinger. There was one other matter concerning her… Malik… once she left the safety of Kil’heed he would be able to see her again, and would be able to whisper in her mind. She decided not to let that hold her back, and perhaps with time she might find a way to use that to her advantage.
[+purple “Alright, time to play dress up. General, keep your eyes open for what I seek. You will know it when you see it… go, I’ll be fine,”] she promised him and offered a small smile to assuage any worry he had, and she turned to Lara with a smile. [+purple “Why don’t you come with me, so these two can go back to their task.”]
“You are our task,” Luther stated. Aria let out a breath.
[+purple “Of course, shall we?”] She asked and turned leaving with Varis and Luther hot on her heels.
Lara followed Luther just a bit farther, before stopping and turning right back around. What Luther had just said as a response, extremely interesting. Lara pondered his response, before figuring out that she had somehow forgot most of what Luther had said. For Lara that was a bummer, for how could she ponder the meaning behind Luther's response if she had no clear memory of what he had said?
[i [+purple "Fenlyck, you still here?"]] [i [+blue "Yes I am"]] The voice was how it had been as before, calm as the waters on a clear sunny day. Lara hesitated, no reason at all, before asking a question, [i [+purple "Could you repeat what Luther said back to me?]] [i [+blue No problem at all."]] After a short pause, [i [+blue "Ready?"]] Lara responded with a hesitant mental yes, having no clue why she was being hesitating with the spirit of Fenlyck.
[center [i [+blue "“Thanks for the advice,” he said careful not to comment on her youth or small stature. “But it matters not to me if he trusts me or not. I intend to be at the Priestess’s side whether she wants me there or not. For now I shall bid my time. I have faith the Priestess will see I am valuable and welcome me with open arms.”]]]
She was not being hesitant with asking the spirit for repeating Luther's response, something was bugging her about Luther's response. Specifically, his intent on being by Aria's side. And the way in which he had said it, it was as if it was guaranteed that he'd end up by Aria's side. On the one hand, he was a Watcher who had guarded this place for who knew how long. On the other hand, Rhuarc distrusted him. Usually the people Rhuarc distrusted were either foolish or extremely capable, and Luther was not a fool.
[i [+blue "Wondering as to what Luther's true intentions are?"]] Lara stopped in surprise, she still was not used to Fenlyck being able to hear all her thoughs. [i [+purple "Yes, I do wonder as to what he really wants. Does he want to be by Aria's side because he wants to be by her side, or is it because he's being influenced?"]] [i [+blue "What makes you think that there is something more to than what he said?"]] [i [+purple "Malik has already shown that he can influence people, and get past the defenses of this city with ease.]] [i [+blue "But those he has turned, none of them have ever been Watchers."]] [i [+purple "That does not mean there is a first time for everything."]]
The spirit began to say something, but Lara blocked whatever Fenlyck had to say. Maybe talking about her concerns of Luther to Rhuarc would be a good idea.
But upon arriving back at the door to Aria's room, Rhuarc was not there. Opening the door into the room, Aria was not in there. Probably Aria had woken up, and had wished to go somewhere, and Rhuarc had accompanied Aria for safety. Lara ran a hand through her hair, standing their and thinking about what to do. If both Rhuarc and Aria were together, then that was even better. Then she could have opinions from both Rhuarc, who obviously had his own reservations about Luther, and Aria, who seemed to know things that no one else knew.
Lara walked out of the room. But would it be a good idea to talk to Rhuarc about her concerns? The problem with talking to Rhuarc, was that he had some preconceived ideas - biased thoughts - about Luther. These preconceived ideas would make it harder for her to formulate her own thoughts on Luther. Aria on the other hand, she could speak about Luther in an objective way. Presenting both bad and good aspects without any preconceived ideas.
But maybe it was still useful to talk to Rhuarc. Learn why he distrusted Luther, and maybe do some investigative work on Luther.
Walking past a room, she heard a voice which sounded like Rhuarc asking a question, something about weapons. Peeking into the room, it was indeed Rhuarc there, asking a question to Aria. Since both of them were there, no time like now to voice her own concerns.
Lara walked in towards where Rhuarc and Aria were standing. [+purple "I hope I am not interrupting anything, but I am concerned Luther. He's acting strangely."]
[center [I [size30 ❇❇♥❇❇]]]
As she walked in, Adimar followed, inquiring about Giji and his fate. [I "No doubt, The Mage still has some hold on him. But, he will not be able to do his evil through him. He will remain prisoner until the time comes his connection is not needed anymore"] she said, feeling surprised that her very words came without emotion for his human life.
She nodded to him and sighed. [I "I apologize for the sudden work. The Mage would not have answered your questions... He would have tried to put a spell on you, or spread doubt into your ear as he had done Carrick when we first found Aria. I had fought him before... Which... "] she remembered the vial she tried to give Aria... She had to have it somewhere... Maybe that could be of assistance to their cause.
Adimar had began speaking with her about a number of things... There was some excited speaking about her child, that he wanted to protect her and the babe. But, what stood out in her mind was his serious desire to help her hone her Arcane skills. She couldn't answer at the moment, but her mind did agree to the notion. There was limited time and it was on both the darkness and her child. She hadn't a moment to falter.
Adimar had departed to find information on Egos. Saraya took the time to breathe in the air... There had to be some things answered for her. Her father had to have seen the very things that history could have easily distorted... But as she tried to think, her mind couldn't concentrate fully.
Saraya sighed as she walked along the halls, and as she trailed slowly back to the room, her mind began hearing and seeing Carrick's very thoughts. A type of sensation draped over her, and it wracked her with a slight buckle of her knees... Carrick's desire for her was growing... And she knew it... His thoughts were too vivid to ignore... And it started with three heart-melting words:
[center [I [b "I Love You"]]]
She knew Carrick was Apexing, but she never knew how intense it would feel. His thoughts were powerful all on their own. It was though his very thoughts were just showing her how much of a prisoner he was to his desire to her. Images... Images of his need of her flashed past her mind. Her Apexing body was reaching for him... Aching with each image shared between them to touch and be touched. It was so intense, she couldn't do anything but lean into an available window to get air.
As she attempted to clear her mind, her father had gently entered her subconscious. [i [b Well done, my child.]]
She wanted to speak, but desire shivered down her spine. She shivered it away and looked ahead. [I "Father, you need to tell me something... "]
[I [b [center Yes, I know... You want to know about the abomination I've created...]]]
She was slightly shocked, but nodded. [I "Was there something that links you to Malik's change? "]
[I [b [center I changed him... But, I didn't make him what he is now... He had gotten greedy and turned against me for his own selfish gain...]]]
[I "His own selfish gain? You turned him to help you bring together fallen soldiers for your armies, it does leave room for failure"]
[I [b [center I chose him because he was strong... Because he wanted what I wanted... But, he made me a fool in thinking I could claim it that way...]]]
[I "What was it that you wanted? "]
[I [b [center I wanted freedom... I wanted a purpose... I wanted to protect the council... The Holy Council was being attacked by Shadow, my brother created from the depths of The River Nine-]]]
[I "- Your Brother? "]
She was confused. [I "You've a brother? "]
There was a harsh silence. [I [b [center He was attacking my council. I only sought to create the army to protect them... But, he fooled everyone into thinking I wanted this]]]
She stared at the distance. [I "This doesn't make any sense, father. If Shadow is my uncle... "]
[I [b [center Yes, but he is the reason]]]
Saraya sat up, ignoring the feeling of desire from Carrick's mind [I "Show me"]
There was an uneasy silence. [I [b [center Alright...]]]
[I [b [center ❇❇♥❇❇]]]
Through the darkness, was the sound of rain. She saw a graveyard, housing the honored dead. She looked down to see a male face... The youthful Sayan was what she saw. She saw his rising souls, but there was this determination of the threat coming. She turned to see the darkening sky.
He growled through his canines before looking to his risen dead. [b [I "I apologize, knights. I am not an evil. I beg your assistance. The Holy council is under attack. My only wish is to protect their walls. Knights of Fenlyk, I beg you. Protect the heavens"]]
Saraya watched as each bowed in submission. He wasn't lying. This threat was among the heavens. She could feel the determination emanating from him. She blinked away from the memory... And just in time, too... A pair of hands wrapped around her waist and closed the gap between the two... She could tell who it was, and she relaxed a moment. [I " Carrick... "] she smiled as she turned her head to him.
He spoke of his worry and that he had came to collect her. She smiled in relief as that desire she felt began to escalate. She wanted to stop it before it would show on her face... His scent, though, made it hard for her to even keep a solid thought. She let him escort her back to the room. They needed to be alone. Aria would call for them soon, so they needed as much rest as they could get.
Going into the room, the mess had been cleaned and she could only feel both desire from Carrick and the fatigue from the whole ordeal. But, when she tried to get straight to the matter at hand, Carrick wanted her attention, and against her will, she took the invitation. The scent of Apexing male, HER Apexing male was impossible to ignore, and evidently, her Apexing scent was impossible for him to ignore too. Her father had a lot of explaining to do about this... But, for now...
[center [I [b ❇❇♥❇❇]]]
Saraya watched Carrick sleep beside her in the late afternoon sun, her hand gently stroking his bare chest. Filaments of light added flecks of gold and red to his blond hair and coated his damp skin in warm hues. Carrick was a good man... a Guardian like she was, who hadn't judged her, hadn't lied to her, but who had become her friend and lover over time, and now couldn't bear to part with her for a moment too long.
But he'd also been honest about that. They both knew the reason why. The baby. Oddly, she owed Carrick for loving her, when it would have been so easy for them to be just to be partners in a common battle, but because of him she had more reason to fight. Yet Carrick had shown honor, to where he would kill anything and anyone that posed harm to her and now their baby. Saraya let out a quiet sigh. The complexity of it all was profound.
Life as she once knew it was peeling away from her; Caledon was gone, her once glorious home and her establishments were now shambles and mud hovels. Hundreds of people had died, graves were overturned, and the spirits were restless.
It was time. The time to meet with Aria and the Guardians have come. It may be time to prepare and move for The Fenlyk temple. Another trial to ascend from. Saraya brushed a stray lock of mussed hair away from Carrick's forehead and kissed him there softly so not to wake him. He looked so peaceful when his haunted eyes were closed and his breaths came deep and slow. But she also enjoyed his ribald humor; a slight smile tugged at her mouth. Yes, she loved her Carrick, her Guardian and King.
Ever so gently, she nestled her head in the crook of his shoulder and felt him stir to protectively pull her in beside him, and wondered what her life might have been like had she met him before she had met Felliope. As she listened to him breathe and his heart quietly thud within his chest, she knew the answer. There would have been no despair, no death, Hell, and destruction in her life. She could stay within the safety of this semi-jaded Guardian's arms and never let him go.
Her father was silent throughout their time together. As she slowly stood out of his hold and wrapped a sheet around her, she slowly paced to the wide windows. [I "Father, did the Guardians meet you in Fenlyk? "]
She was kind of curious since the vision looked like Fenlyk territory. A rumbling laughter sounded in her head before he spoke.
[b [center [I My, my... You should be resting, love.]]]
She sighed. [I "I can't stay still"]
[b [center [I You go to your love... Your business is there for now... I will explain later...]]]
Saraya stared ahead and nodded. Maybe he was right. The treading that was ahead will need all the energy instead of tying the story together. As she turned, she walked back to the bed, sitting down next to him, watching him sleep before leaning into him again.
She leaned up and brushed Carrick's lips with a soft kiss to wake him, watching his eyes slowly open. [I "Wake, my love. I want to see your eyes,"] she said quietly.
He smiled and cupped her face with his palm and glimpsed the bright sunlight. His words were soft, husky, and the scent of his Apex was intoxicating.
She formed a smile and allowed her finger to trail along the edge of Carrick's jaw. [I "Never have I seen a sight as you,"] she whispered. [I "But, we'll have to get ready soon"]
For a moment he didn't move, his smile fading into a sober expression. Worry was ridden on his face, but she reassured him with a smile that there was nothing wrong.
She sat up slowly in bed; he followed suit, staring at her. The room felt like it was closing in on her.
[I "I am fine, Carrick, "] she said quietly, [I "I just know that our Priestess is awake"]
Too many thoughts crowded into her mind at once, and it took her a moment to sort them out before she could reply. Both of their power was realigning, and he was near a lightning rod--her. If the surge she'd felt was accurate, without knowing, the apex would refuse her from much thought except him... But, then he also needed to go and meet the Guardian fellowship to plan their next move. The group were in need to move before they would get distracted during this fragile space and time.
Saraya gazed at Carrick for a moment without speaking. She could sense that there was uncertainty with Lara, that there was a change in Aria... And even the others were on edge because of her run-ins with The Mage. Even though she knew the inevitable would come, in her mind, she couldn't let her family fall apart this soon into the long haul of hardships. Their decisions needed to be clear--go toward the Light. She knew that she had to focus on the light, they all did. And she had to make sure that all were ready when the ultimate test was set upon them.
She passionately kissed Carrick before stating something important [I "My love, we must be ready for her call"] but, he made her giggle and as he pinned her down, planting an array of kisses along her face and neckline, she felt that the importance of the situation had been forgotten, of only for a moment. Her father hadn't told her how hard it was to ignore the scent.. But, then again... Why ignore him? If he didn't want to ignore her or her apex, why not she?
Rhuarc watched Luther leave and had just finished asking Lara her opinion on the Watcher but she ran off after him for some reason, the Jai was not concerned though, Lara was smart, strong and extremely capable of looking after herself and Rhuarc was sure that the Fenlyk guardian had her reasons for going after Rhuarc. The Jai just couldn't shake a feeling that he had about the Watcher, there was just something about him that didn't sit right. He didn't like Luther and he wasn't sure if he trusted the man either, but he couldn't be sure why, it wasn't that he was a Watcher after all he trusted Ursula far more than Luther despite him having little contact with both. No, it was definitely Luther that he didn't trust and not the Watchers as a whole. After another few hours had passed the Jai guardian once again decided to check on the High Priestess and as he opened the door to peer in he noticed that this time was different from the other times that he had checked on Aria while she had been resting, instead of the sleeping figure of the blonde priestess he saw Aria sitting by the edge of the platform, a light breeze stirring her hair and her feet dangling off the edge. [b "Priestess, it seems that you have finally wakened. I trust that you have sufficiently rested, unfortunately there are matters that I must bring to your attention."] Rhuarc had to suppress a wry smile as he spoke, the surprise of finding anyone else in the room alongside her startling the High Priestess of Azera momentarily. [b "It seems that Kil'heed is not as safe as we were led to believe. The Mage attempted to strike at Saraya again like he did at Tanaka. A wound was taken but has subsequently been dealt with, Saraya herself, Adimar and his men are interrogating the culprit as we speak. Given the Mage's ability to slip by Kil'heed's defences I suggest we move on to Fenlyk as soon as possible, the sooner we get there the closer we are to defeating Malik. There is also the matter of Ayab's wound, I fear if we do not get him to the Medici soon then he will not survive, he puts on a brave face but I can feel pain in him."]
The attack on Saraya was not the only notable event to occur while the Priestess was resting, after all Rhuarc still had to keep his word an attempt to persuade Aria to meet with Lord Aethon in exchange for the use of an airship. [b "There is another matter to deal with, an emissary from the Volshi Crown has arrived and wishes to meet with you. I believe it would be wise to do so,for one they are willing to part with a Volshi airship and the second reason is that the emissary sent was Adimar's father."] This should not be an emotional decision, the truth of the matter was that in all honesty they needed that airship otherwise travelling around the Four Provinces would take too long and the risk of them being tracked, captured or killed by Malik's forces was much higher, Aria needed to take this meeting with Lord Aethon regardless of anything else. She may be kin to the Aethon family but Rhuarc doubted whether that would make any difference to the Volshi ambassador. The Jai had relayed the two most important pieces of information; Saraya's attack and the waiting Volshi emissary but there was still thing he wished to ask the High Priestess about, something personal as opposed to official. [b "If I may Priestess, I wish to ask you a question. What do you think of the Watcher Luther?"] Rhuarc wished to know Aria's opinion of the man and see how it lined up with his own views. Rhuarc didn't trust Luther but so far he seemed to be the only one with reservations. Aria had a way of knowing certain things, like who they all were back the first time they me in Central City and if she too had reservations about the Watcher then Rhuarc would keep an even closer eye on the man. Even if the Priestess didn't have any concerns that did not mean that Rhuarc's unease was unwarranted. [b "If this meeting is to take place soon and we are to gain this airship then I wish to be prepared. I must go to the armoury and fetch my blade, it has been kept there since I entered Kil'heed, you are welcome to come with me if you wish..."] The Jai expected the Priestess to say no, to insist upon seeing Saraya first or thinking of what to say to Adimar's father but to his surprise she accepted his offer without much hesitation, Rhuarc did not want Aria unprotected inside Kil'heed but he would not have thought her eager for a trip to the armoury. In this instance he was glad that he was mistaken.
The walk to the armoury was a quiet one, with neither Rhuarc nor Aria saying much, their footsteps echoing throught he corridors of the fortress. Rhuarc wondered what Lara was up to, she had disappeared after Luther and who knows what mischief the spirited Fenlyk guardian would get herself into, Rhuarc was just thankful that Saraya had seemingly recovered from her attack and that Aria was safe. It didn't take long to reach the armoury which was flanked by two Watchers who admitted them to the space when they realised who it was that approached them. The Jai guardian looked around the room that was full of weapons, every kind of weapon imaginable was there; spears, swords, axes, bows, flails, maces, morning stars, lances and a dozen other weapons that Rhaurc didn't even know were available but even now he only had eyes for one instrument. He knew where the blade of heavy black steel was without even having to look, it was strange, he had a kinship with the weapon and did not realised how much he had missed the weapon while he had been parted from it. Rhuarc drew a long strip of cloth that he had brought with him and carefully wrapped the blade in the fabric, being meticulous enough not to let himself touch the sword itself. Jai custom prevented him from touching a weapon while on Sacred ground but if he only held the cloth...it was a tenuous skirting of the rules and while it might stick to the strictest letter of the law he was under no doubt that there would be Elders that frowned on such actions. The truth was that while the Mage after Saraya Rhuarc did not want to be too far from his weapon should he need it, it was a comfort to have the sword on his person again. As Rhuarc finished his task and the sword was wrapped in cloth he looked up to see Aria looking around the armoury, seemingly with purpose. [b "You never struck me as one with much interest in weapons Priestess, are you looking for anything in particular?"]
It was supposed to be a dreamless sleep, and for the most part it was. Before Aria could awake physically, she found herself awakening in the Astral Plane. She hadn’t been here since her fight with the Mage on the way to Tanaka, and she quickly sat up and looked around. The Astral World was different and strange, the veil of life between awake and sleep, and also one where the Spirits traveled. Above her was the swirling twinkling neon masses of the cosmos, and below her was a dark cloud that cradled her body from floating away. She looked around, curious as to what would bring her here, but found nothing that explained this unexpected trip. Pushing herself up to stand she felt the fluffy cloud harden into the smooth scattering of scales. The cloud had transformed around her, until a long thick black tail coiled around her waist and held her aloft. Aria gasped in shock, those same magenta eyes burned and gleamed. They Formed from two swirling galaxies until the darkness formed around it and Aria came face to face with a Dragon. It was covered in inky black scales, and bone white horns decorated its head and down along its spine.
“Azera…” Aria breathed in knowing. The Dragon only looked back, confirming Aria’s thoughts and spoke in a shallow echo to her inside her own mind.
[i “It is I,”] Azera whispered, her voice accented and deep.
“What can I do for you?” Aria asked uncertain if she could even help the famous first Priestess. Sensing that Azera would only reveal herself to Aria if the moment required it.
[i “There is nothing you can do for me. I am here for you. I have been here since the beginning. I am The Knowing.”]
Aria blinked in shock, but she understood it. “You were there when I was little, you told me to run when Malik attacked. You helped me get into Central City, find the Guardians, showed me the path to Tanaka… you helped me defeat the Mage…” Azera nodded her large scaly head. “So It’s true… I am you.”
[i “Yes. You are my reincarnation. You are me as I am you, but we are not the same. I am here to give you one of my memories, so that you will better understand the past…”] Azera lowered her face until it was nearly touching Aria’s. She looked deep into Azera’s magenta eyes and became hypnotized as they swirled and pulled her in. Before Aria could realize it, her surroundings had melted into a different scene.
It was the Holy Septum, decorated in soft pastel fabrics, the colorful marble floor swirled, flecked with glittering minerals and encased in large towering and arching pillars with massive open windows. Standing before her was Caledon, Fenlyk, Volshi, and Jai’hash. To her one side stood several Watchers. All of them sporting different Armor depending on what Guardian they served. On her other side stood the familiar visage of the Watcher Luther, but it was the unfamiliar handsome face that stood closest to her that captured her attention.
“Word has reached us, that the Horseman has been breaking Holy Law and traveling to our land,” Volshi said. He was tall, donned in rich robes of sapphire and silver grey, with plaited silver hair, and the golden eyes of a hawk.
“Do we know why he has come here?” Aria asked from within Azera’s body, as she tossed back white dreadlocks over a dark mocha shoulder.
“We are not sure,” Fenlyk said, the coral haired beauty stood tall and lithe, endowed with gentle curves, and dressed in a gown of glimmering turquoise that made her look more like a Fair Princess than the Demi-Goddess of the Seas that she was. Her head was draped in a crown of pearls and glittering shells.
“My spies tell me he is searching for a partner, but for what? We do not know.” Caledon replied gruffly from where he stood. He was as large as Jai’Hash, and his head sprouted a crown of antlers, his skin tawny and at his side stood his counterpart, the woman he shared his power and life with, his beautiful wife. She turned to him, pressing a hand to his bicep which instantly wiped his scowl away from his rugged face, causing a tight lipped smile to peek out from under his full beard.
“Where was he last seen?” Azera asked rising to her feet and crossing the dais to gaze into a reflective panel of the wall. Looking back Aria saw Azera in all her glory. She was tall, amazonian with strong arms, and flawless ebony skin. Her eyes burned a bright neon magenta and her hair trailed down her back in thick white dreads with two pointed ears poking out from between the dreads. Her face was even painted with shimmering silver paint, and her pointed ears were cuffed in silver jewelry. Her full lips pursed together in thought as she tried to figure out what one of the Horsemen was doing in her world.
“He was spotted above my temple, but he was heading west before we could confront him,” Volshi answered with disgust.
“Then he is heading for Fenlyk’s Temple,” Caledon’s wife gasped at the statement.
“Will Fenlyk be safe to return?” She asked
Azera did not have an answer for the Caledonian Mate, and instead turned suddenly to come face to face with the handsome form of her Captain and her General: Malik. He stood tall, streamlined but strong, with an aristocratic nose, and shiny black hair, pale skin, bright green eyes, and a persistent 5’oclock shadow that decorated his face and jaw. Even in this memory, Aria could feel a hesitation in Azera. “Malik, I want you to travel with Fenlyk to her temple, cut the Horseman off there.”
“I wish to go as well,” Volshi cut in looking towards Fenlyk. It caused the Siren to smile warmly at him and he reached out towards her, taking her hand in his and the two stared at the other with love and longing. Azera didn’t argue, and instead gave her blessing. Malik however looked less pleased.
“My Priestess, I do not wish to be parted from you,” he began. “What if this Horseman attempts to attack you while I am gone?”
“Then he will have to get through me.” They all turned to see Jai’hash scowling from where he stood, hands on a heavy black blade and his shoulders draped with a heavy looking cape made from a large beast he had killed years ago. It was the sword he carried that caught her attention, and Aria instantly recognized as the one Rhuarc carried with him. Malik actually grinned, looking relieved and nodded.
“I thank you, friend. I will travel easy knowing my Priestess is safe.”
“Don’t trust me?” Luther asked. Malik grinned again and reached out to clasp a hand to the Ancient’s shoulder.
“I do brother, but Jai’hash is my oldest friend, and I trust him explicitly. You are still just a fledgeling, so come with me and learn all you can.” Luther didn’t look pleased, but nodded his head in understanding.
“It is settled then,” Azera stated, her mind made up. Azera clasped her hands together, but when she pulled them apart a long thin sword of black steel to match Jai’hash’s appeared. “You four will travel to Fenlyk’s Temple. Malik, take my blade with you,” Azera offered. Malik looked humbled and shocked, glancing towards Jai’hash who had originally gifted it to Azera, before the Guardian gave a nod of his head. Malik saw it as permission and reached forward, taking the sword in his hands.
“This is a beautiful gift… thank you.”
“Use it well,” Azera told him. “We will be waiting for you to return.” Malik quickly fell to his knees before Azera in her gossamer white gown. He remained that way as the Guardians slowly filtered out. Volshi and Fenlyk to prepare for their journey. Caledon and is wife to seek out their young son, and Jai’hash to find his own room. Their watchers following behind him. Aria saw through Azera’s eyes one Watcher following behind Caledon and his wife, and when he glanced back -Aria swore she was looking at Carrick before his transformation. They had the same build, the same blue eyes, and the same red beard. How strange…
One by one they all filtered out until they were alone. Malik finally rose back to his feet and stared into Azera’s eyes, and in Azera’s chest, Aria could feel a flutter. Was it nervousness? Fear? Anticipation?
“I will return for you, My Priestess.” it was a promise. Azera smiled finally, but it faded as she spoke in a hushed whisper to him.
“I know. Do not engage the Horseman. We only want to know what he is doing here, nothing more. Do not put your life in danger to be a hero. Come back to me.” She demanded, pressing a hand to his chest. Malik, nodded and covered her hand with his own, and offered up his other sword with the other.
“I will. Hold onto the Harbinger for me while I am gone.” Azera looked to the blade and took it in her hand. She held it effortlessly, despite its weight and looked from it to him, a look of uncertainty painted her usually confident face. Malik saw this and smiled at her, lifting her chin with a finger to ensure she saw the sincerity in his eyes. “This Horseman does not scare me. I will return, and Jai’Hash will protect you. Not that you need it,” Malik grinned and leaned in closer towards her stealing a kiss from her cheek. “Then when I get back, we’re going to take some time to figure out what this is between us,” Azera finally gave him a coy grin, and a slight push away. He chuckled warmly at her even as she bid him to leave and make haste, a rare happy smile on her face.
From there the memory faded and Aria blinked back to the Astral Plane where she was face to face with Azera once more. [i “Malik was my most trusted Guard, but when he left on that mission, he did not return as he was… He returned different. He was dark and corrupted. Volshi was killed on that trek protecting Fenlyk, and the only one to return was Luther who gave me the news that after Volshi’s death, Fenlyk retreated into the Ocean where she was never seen or heard from again until the day she died, and Malik… Malik only returned years later when it was to kill me. To Destroy the remaining goodness in him. I managed to push him back with the help of Jai’Hash and exiled him to the Nether World. He’s obviously found a way back but he does not want to kill you. He wants to absorb your powers, and use you to make the remaining rebellions heel to his rule by making you as he is. Dark.”] Aria frowned, she didn’t think she had any powers that would be useful to a creature like Malik.
There was one thing pressing on her mind though…
“But Malik… he was once so kind, and so clearly devoted to you. How did that change?” Aria asked needing to know. Unfortunately Azera did not have the answer to that. Only that she knew the Horseman had changed him, and Malik had to want to be changed. “You want me to find out what caused Malik to turn against you, don’t you?”
[i “Yes, and I want you to save him if you can. I believe the Malik I knew and loved is still in there.”]
“And if he is not?” Aria dared to ask.
[i “Then in this Fortress there is a sword. It is known as The Harbinger of Justice, and once belonged to Malik when he served as my Captain and my General. Find the sword, take it to the Temple of Fenlyk and cleanse it in the Purity Pool. Have each Guardian offer a blood Sacrifice upon the blade. Then the blade will be enchanted with enough power to defeat Malik. For when the time comes, pierce Malik’s heart with it. He will become trapped in the sword and easy to destroy. Take it to The Temple of Ouk’nu where it was forged and carry it into the fires of Jai’hash. Only then will Malik be destroyed and incapable of returning ever again.”]
From there the image of Azera in her Dragon form began to slip away. Aria gasped. She had so many more questions! She wasn’t ready to be parted from Azera! She called out to her nervously, but she could also feel herself being tugged away from the Astral Plane as she began to wake up.
“No! Azera! There’s so much I wish to know! please don’t leave me!”
[i “I am always with you…”] Azera replied, and then the darkness moved in, and with a blink of her eyes Aria was looking at the ceiling of the bedroom she was given.
It was no doubt the early hours of morning, as her room was dark, and her eyes needed a moment to adjust. She felt the wind blow into the room from the open platform, and could smell the beginning of a chilly autumn creeping in. Sitting up her covers pooled in her lap, looking out she could see the Sun just barely making its way to the horizon. Below her were the twinkling lights of fires and lanterns being lit for the coming Dawn. The city was stirring and Aria was as well. She dressed in a provided gown of silver and grey, which would keep her warm as the temperature continued to drop. It would only get colder the further North they went towards Caledon, and she knew the thin flats she wore would not be sufficient in the cold terrain. She would need boots, but first she had a sword to find. However, more pressing thoughts invaded her mind, so she took a seat at the edge of the platform, letting her feet dangle and looked out at the mountains. Malik, was not always evil. Azera had trusted him, she believed in him… she had loved him… in a way. A heavy frown marred her face as she realized that what Luther had told her about the original Guardians might not be true. Had he lied? He had told her Malik had been jealous of Jai’hash, that Azera had loved him and not Malik. It didn’t make sense, but she decided to keep it to herself, and do her own digging to find out what the truth was, and that meant she would have to let Luther get close to her. It was the only way she could learn what he had meant, what he knew, and what he was up to. Besides, he had been in her vision and would no doubt have information about Malik and what she was dealing with.
“Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer…” Aria whispered looking out at the landscape with a determined look.
Luther had been patient in his wait to visit again with the Priestess, so patient he offered to go with Carrick in search of new recruits for the Priestess’ Holy Guard. He was well aware the only way he would be able to get close to the Priestess was to prove himself to her companions, so he started with her personal Guard. They visited the barracks and Luther showed him where the Volshi Soldiers were staying, and together they met with the Commander of the platoon who offered to have a group of selected soldiers available to show their prowess in the morning. It was already well into the evening and most of the men were winding down for the evening. Carrick seemed content with this, but he also seemed preoccupied, and made a mention that he could sense Saraya’s emotions and thoughts. The anomaly sounded familiar to Luther, Caledon had once shared his powers and gifts with his wife, bonding with her so they could remain connected across vast distances. Had Saraya learned a similar skill? He didn’t doubt it, she was powerful.
With his work finished and Carrick ready to retire and find Saraya, they parted ways at the entrance to the temple. Carrick started towards the dungeons where he met up with Saraya soon after her departure from Adimar, and Luther made his way upwards to the Priestess’s chambers. He was expecting for there to be a new compliment at her door, with Watchers, but instead he found Rhuarc and Lara still keeping watch since their departure from Saraya’s room. Luther tried, without luck, to gain access to The priestess’s room. He had hoped to see her, perhaps wake her and talk with her. Ursula was the first to warn him about his mild obsession, but it was his business and no one else. As it was, he planned to be part of those that would try their skill for Carrick and earn his place back within the Holy Guard.
Which was going to make it all the more satisfying for him when he made it, no doubt against the massive Jai’s wishes. A little competition was always healthy, and Luther was most certainly the competitive type.
It was much to his shock when he heard the patter of feet following him from the Priestess’s chambers, even more shocking that it came from the young Fenlyk Guardian. According to her, that was just the way Rhuarc was, and that he didn’t even trust her -a fellow Guardian. That was certainly interesting. He listened to all she had to say and offered her a content grin. This little spitfire was nothing like the docile and beautiful Siren of the Sea. She was full of spunk and determination, something Luther could admire.
“Thanks for the advice,” he said careful not to comment on her youth or small stature. “But it matters not to me if he trusts me or not. I intend to be at the Priestess’s side wether he wants me there or not. For now I shall bid my time. I have faith the Priestess will see I am valuable and welcome me with open arms.” He gave her one final grin before dipping his head into a respectful nod and turned making his way to prepare for his own Watch back at the tower.
Pregnant… Saraya was pregnant. Well, Adimar had to give it to Carrick, the man certainly didn’t wait. Adimar would be the first to admit, he’d found Saraya an incredible beauty when he first laid eyes on her. He had even mistaken that she might be the Priestess due to her beauty at first, and yet she had surprised him by being the Guardian for Caledon. He simply hadn’t pictured one so delicate and lovely looking to be such a force to reckon with, and that was his foolishness to correct. Because of Saraya, Adimar had been making it a point not to judge a person by their appearances alone. Even little Lara had proven she was tougher than she looked. Sassy too.
Adimar was very aware by the subtle movements and breaths done by Saraya, that she was conversing with her spirit. It made for a quiet walk, but that all ended when they reached the dungeons. He held the door open for her but they both tensed at the suffocating dark aura that clung to the walls of the Fortress. It threatened to climb like a vine up the many stairs and winding halls towards an unsuspecting Priestess. He shared a look with Saraya, knowing she either sensed it the way he did, or she could actually see it; but they both silently agreed they couldn’t let it reach Aria. Adimar’s men and Ayab were there to greet them at the door, confessing they had not been particularly fortunate in getting information out of Gigi, so Adimar bid them take their leave. Saraya then bid him to remove the Watchers to get fresh air or fall victim to the Mage’s creeping powers, he acted quickly an removed them as well. He’d made a promise to Carrick though and hurried back in to ensure her safety and that this Gigi didn’t do something he’d soon regret losing his head over.
He found her knelt before Gigi, a finger to his forehead as he seemed to experience a seizure. Soon the spasms stopped and the man raised his head, but it was not Gigi anymore. Gigi was just a puppet, this was the Mage. Whatever the Mage saw in Saraya, it didn’t like it very much and spat at her for her use of illusions. Adimar frowned, for all he saw was the lovely Raven Haired Caledonian before him. Careful not to let this puppet reach Saraya, he wielded his sword of volshi steel with a threatening look towards the man.
“Watch yourself, or you’ll learn how cold Volshi steel can feel.”
Saraya had a message for him, and she leaned in to whisper in his ear. It created a face of horror and shock to fill his features, leaving Adimar dumbfounded at what she’d said. Before Adimar could ask his own questions though, she knocked Gigi out and preformed magic over him.
[i “Let us leave... “] she said, getting up and walking right past him. Adimar blinked, stunned by what just happened and so terribly confused. He chased after her quickly grabbing her arm and gently pulled her to a stop.
“What did you do? Adimar asked curiously.
[i “I set Giji free from him... “] she said with a simple smile .Adimar frowned.
“Freed him? So I can’t ask any questions huh?” He pouted at her and her lovely smile. “Tricky gal… Alright, so what did you say to him? Whatever it was about made him piss himself,” Adimar said picking up stride to match her. She wasn’t going to slink off that easily from him, and she was clearly aware of it as she finally turned and decided to trust him. What she said was frightening. Undead, minions burning in Hell. He only grinned at her. “Sounds like a good time,” he stated in sarcasm, and while he was shocked she would say such a thing, he was… amused by it too.
She started back towards the Keep, no doubt to return to Carrick, when something came over Adimar and he reached out for her once more. “Hey, hey now, I’ve got more questions for you Lady Saraya. You can’t get rid of me that easily.” He flashed a brilliant and handsome smile her way as he walked beside her. “For starters, What’s going to happen to that guy? Is he going to be alright now that you’ve exorcised him from the Mage? What’s the Mage planning? He keeps coming after you. It’s almost like he doesn’t work for Malik anymore…” Suddenly it dawned on him and he couldn’t help but look Saraya over. He quickly hushed himself and whispered to Saraya pulling her away from the light of sunset that illuminated the hall, and concealed them in the shadows from prying eyes.
“It makes sense,” he began. “The Mage wants to create an heir of power with you from what we’ve figured out. The only question is why? Perhaps he wants to overthrow Malik and allow himself to have that power. Otherwise his focus would be on getting to The Priestess. So correct me if I’m wrong or way out of the field with this, but I’m trying to think what I would do if I were Egos.” Adimar’s brows furrowed in thought and he crooked a finger under his chin and thought deeply about all the arcane knowledge he had…even the darker magic he knew of… “If I was Egos, and thank Volshi I’m not, I know the only thing more powerful than the combined forces of the Guardians is something born of true love, or something born of pure rage. You being Prya explains why you are so much stronger in the Arcane than the others naturally. You have Caledon’s blood in your veins. Your mana must be strong,” He said in awe as he looked at her. “Let me help you!!” He whispered excitedly. “First thing I think we need to do is find a protection spell for our newest traveling companion,” He motioned towards her belly. “Once he finds out that little guy is in there… he won’t be very happy. He could, in theory, birth a child of great evil and great power with what you would have combined, and it could potentially not only destroy and dethrone Malik, but it would destroy all of us too… Egos is a powerful Mage,” Adimar sighed and reached towards Saraya and placed a hand on her slender shoulder. “I’ll help you keep your baby safe. None of us will allow any harm to befall you or the babe.” Suddenly he was grinning. “The Priestess is going to be all aflutter when she hears this news. I’ll let you go now, I’m going to find a library and see if I can’t find some information on what Egos might be planning, and if there’s a way to protect your unborn child from any of his dark magic. Perhaps if I’m lucky I can find something to help Ayab as well. I’ll let you know if I find anything.” With that he gave Saraya a final grin, pleased to have a task to do and hurried off to find the Archives of Kil’heed, though he knew it would be best if he could visit the libraries of Aero City where the worlds’ knowledge of Arcane and magic was kept.
Lara did not expect Rhuarc to say anything, his voice jolted her out of her wondering. It took her a few seconds to realize that she had to have spoken a thought out loud, something which she did often and should propbably stop thinking such dark thoughts out loud; not probably, but she should definitely stop with saying these things without thinking.
Lara completely missed the first half of what Rhuarc had said. She had not intentionally missed what Rhuarc had said, for she had mostly been dealing with her own internal workings of the mind. Although to the second half of Rhuarc's speech, she paid very close attention to, to make up for not listening to the first speech. Even though it comforted her to hear Rhuarc say that they'd "one for all, all for one", Lara still worried. Yes she knew that she had grown stronger on the journey and through trials, but she knew, or at least she thought so, that she was weaker than Rhuarc, Saraya, and propbably the Priestess. If Saraya had had trouble with dealing with whatever had been attempted murder on her, then how would she be able to at first deal with whatever strong and evil things that would be thrown her way? There was already a very fresh incident of Saraya on death's door, blood painting most of the room.
Lara kept standing and keeping watch besides Rhuarc. People came, some merely walked in and out of the hallway. The others, were the Watchers. They took up their own watch besides Lara and Rhuarc, before leaving and being replaced by another Watcher. Thus the time passed by, the only way to know of its passing was by the change of the Watcher. Lara felt herself slowly grow tired, but she didn't let that distract her from her watch.
Rhuarc opened the door and looked inwards, and while he was peeking in another Watcher approached. A very familiar one.
Rhuarc closed the door and turned around, and completely face-to-face with the Watcher who had approached - Luther. Luther, being a Watcher, requested to check upon Aria before starting to walk. Luther stopped when he saw that Rhuarc was not going to move out of the way. Lara could feel some sort of tension beginning to build within these two men. One was adamant about entering through the doorway to check upon Aria, and the other was just as adamant to not let anyone else in. And then both Luther and Rhuarc had their hands on their weapons, Lara quietly gasped. If there was bloodshed because of this, she wouldn't know what to do. She only wanted this to resolve without any bloodshed.
This high tension lasted for what seemed like an eternity, before Luther warned Rhuarc. Rhuarc responded, but Lara could here the derisive tone in his voice. Luther stepped off.
Rhuarc asked a question, but Lara had already boarded her own train of thought. [+purple "Wait here"], she said to Rhuarc in a quiet and serious tone, before running off after Luther.
Catching up to Luther, Lara slowed down and walked besides him in silence. After what had just happened, it felt awkward to start a conversation with Luther, but Lara felt that this tension still needed to be released. [+purple "The Jai..... they can be extremely stubborn and pigheaded.. Just don't tell Rhuarc I said that to you, he still doesn't completely trust me. Even after going through a long journey, and going through the same trials, he still distrusts me."] Now this was the crucial part, she could not mock Luther, instead she had to have an understanding sort of voice. [+purple "I've been with Rhuarc for what is it now..... a few months?? A few months, give or take a few weeks. And after all this time, he still distrusts me. Now you, you are a complete stranger. Yes you did help out at the fight outside the gate, for which I am extremely grateful that you and the others came to our aid, but he hasn't been with you and see how you act for a long period of time. I know you were only trying to do what your job is, but... um.... that's all I can say.."] Lara shrugged her shoulders, she did not know what else to say in this case.
[center [I [size30 ❇❇♥❇❇]]]
Saraya was relieved by Carrick's reaction to the news. Her emotional side of her relaxed a bit. But, the situation had escalated quickly when Adimar spoke quickly about her confronting Giji. She looked to Carrick [I "Its alright. And Aramis will be fine. I have to see Giji about the hold on him. The Mage will not stop there. His aura is along the halls. I have to cut it off before it gets to Aria"] she stared at him before looking to Adimar. [I "Rhuarc's light will prevent her from being touched. If I can get to Giji, I can stop the flow before he can turn him. I promise..."] her eyes tethered to Carrick. [i "Me and our child will be alright. You haven't failed at all. You are the Guardian. You will be able to fulfill your duties... To me and to Aria... "]
With that, she took to Adimar and walked down the halls to the dungeon.
During her walk, Saraya's senses had both intrigued her and surprised her beyond her mind's comprehension.
[I "Spirit, I've no idea..."]
Saraya surprised herself. She had no fear to speak aloud... And what answered her wasn't evil, but it wasn't her Spirit... [b [I Saraya?]]
Saraya's breath hitched at the voice. She never heard this voice before... But, it seemed familiar. After a moment, she relaxed and concentrated. [I "Who is speaking with me? This is not my spirit..."]. She began to slow her pace at the windows and watched the horizon and then allowed her gaze to soak in the profusion of subtle colors that carpeted the slope. Carrick's natural scent wafted over his shoulders and flowed over her. Even through his magnificent armor, she could smell the stench of him, and it always played with her senses until it practically made the hair on the back of her neck stand. Soon she could pick out the various wildflower fragrances, discerning grasses from flowers, soil from animal musk, better than she ever could before. So, was this how her father felt when he fell in love with her mother?
[center [b [I Saraya...]]]
The awareness was startling. It was as though something had wiped her mental slate clean, taking away not only the best of her old warrior skills, but all her newly acquired Hïgâsçä gifts with it. For months she'd felt like he was living a half-life, where everything was muted, sensations were dulled, her true emotions were contained. Aria had told her many of the things the Spirit said, but for some reason those truths didn't resonate before. She'd heard them, could intellectually process them, but could never translate them into innate understanding. She'd wondered why that was, what had kept her so separated from what was clearly logical? Now, in the pristine air and sitting quietly, bits of her old self began to slide back into place.
[center [I [b Saraya...]]]
Initially, she felt no connection with anything, but now she began feeling a deep connection with her surroundings, so much, she began to feel Carrick's slow, calm breathing. In her mind, she could feel him, as if his back was against hers, and they were yards from eachother and counting. In her thoughts, she felt her back expanded against his, warming it as she breathed in. She could feel Carrick's warmth from across the room. She felt the armor on her shoulder blades, but she wore none. Her spine nestled against the fabric she wore and there was heat in different places she hadn't thought she could feel. Slowly she became aware that if she listened hard enough, she could feel his heartbeat and she was across the room from him.
[center [I [b Saraya...]]]
She kept her eyes closed, remembering his heartbeat, how it sounded when she'd plant her head against her chest as she threw her head against the air... remembered what Carrick's hair felt like beneath her palm. She remembered his breaths, the gentle expulsion of air when he laughed, or sighed, or his hot breaths of sudden rage... or passion. The heat of the dawn felt good against her neck and face, it was moist heat, similar to, but unlike the sun's. But there was also a breeze, a shifting of air and air pressure, of air temperature. His breaths made her feel light, and as the wind caressed the mountainside, she imagined the wind to be his whispers. She made a game of listening to it, imagining it as his laughter, or fussing, or sighing. Was she telling him a secret or was he calling out her name? She chuckled as she thought about it.
[center [I [b Saraya...]]]
She looked ahead to the dawn. [I "I hear you, but I don't know you"]
[center [I [b Sayan is my name... As I have given yours]]]
Saraya's eyes snapped open in both shock and surprise. [i "Father? "]
[center [I [b Yes, my beautiful creation]] the voice gently rumbled [I [b It is I]]]
She opened her eyes using the sense of sight, and stared at the awe-inspiring landscape. There was so much about Carrick that was more spectacular than the mountains and contained just as much mystery. She'd known that her senses were being acute because her father found some way into her, had healed her some; The Holy Council had given her their tears. Her father crept in her mind, but never invaded. The wind still seemed to be her voice. The colors now added a new level of awareness, and she definitely wondered how she'd been so blind? For all the ugliness in the world, the world was still going on. Here, sitting at the edge of heaven, nevertheless did she dream that both she and Carrick would be alive in the same time and space, sharing a yak blanket on the cliffs of nowhere, with powers beyond their reckoning, being at peace if they could ever reach it.
[I "Are you here to watch?"] she murmured.
[center [I [b Watch what?]]]
She laughed softly. [i "I am only a newborn to your power, father. I would fail on the first try, so i don't know how to use them at all"]
[center [i [b I supposed there's not much else to do up here, other than that and to aid you, Saraya,]] he said with a deep chuckle.]
She somehow liked the way his laughter rumbled through her mind, into the newfound peace she found. [I "I suppose not, otherwise you wouldn't be talking,"] she said laughing.
[center [I [b A Guardian is with you, yes,]] he said quietly, [I [b With Adimar, you will be able to cut off ties of The Mage, but not entirely. If you hurry, you may be able to use Giji to find out his plans]]]
Adimar felt her body shake with giggles and knew she'd covered her mouth with her hand. He could see it without even seeing it, just like he could mentally envision her megawatt smile. Here he was supposed to be a Guardian, and all his attention had been on his family and the Priestess. But, Saraya has been a very interesting character since he met her.
[center [i [b Love, you must also learn to sync with your Carrick]] he said softly as her giggles abated. [I [b Being in Sync with Carrick is a very powerful power to have. With it, you are able to share thoughts, be able to move as fluently as he will, be able to know his movements before he does them... Your power with the wind is very fortunate power. Along with mine, it will reveal the secrets to your abilities tenfold]]]
[i "Alright, father"] she murmured, a giggle in her voice, but with a deep tone of appreciation threaded through it. [I "Although, I can't figure out how I can do that... "]
[center [I [b My child... You've already done it...]]]
She stared ahead as they made it to the stairs.
[center [I [b You can feel him breathing... You are even starting to hear his thoughts... My child, your apexing...]]]
[i "Apexing. "] she said quietly.
[center [i [b Yes, my child... Apexing]] he murmured. [i [b Your life as a warrior, including Caledon and my power are finally aligning. Carrick is also apexing... But, he has his own ties to align...]] he said in the barest of whispers.]
[i "i didn't know there was such a thing"] she said, and then laughed softly, [I "What am I to look out for while we are having this Apex? "]
[center [I [b Well, for one thing... You will experience desire that you've never fathomed. Because you and he will share the same mind, all thoughts are shared, including sexual, intelligent, or even irrational. This will also help you picture enemies around you, or even avoid attacks sooner. Reaction will be heightened, and it will benefit when you and he is on the battle field]]]
[I "And what about feeling? How does that work? "]
[center [I [b That is another matter...]] he said, his tone becoming mellow. [I [b Feelings, as far as emotional is felt between the two of you. Physical can't be felt, but it is possible]]]
[i "alright... "] she murmured. [I "So, its a deep connection between the two of us, yes?"]
[center [I [b Yes...]]]
[I "Father? "]
He didn't answer for a while, but allowed her to use her ability to connect with Carrick.
[center [I [b I must go for now...]] he finally said in a gentle murmur. [I [b I will return when you leave Giji]]]
Again he felt her nod, but she said nothing. Adimar, however, he did notice that her breathing hitched slightly and was no longer deep and even.
Saraya sighed deeply as she thought. She knew that she was Apexing, but the feeling she had was more than just tangible desire. Carrick's mind was flying between two of his promises. He wanted to fulfill his duty to Aria, but his duty was torn in three... He had to protect the Priestess, he had to protect the Guardians... And he had to be Saraya's other half... And now that she is carrying his child, it was apparent that his duty to her was more urgent... But in her eyes, it wasn't as important as their Priestess.
She slowly shook her head no, then took in a deep breath and held it for a second; Adimar could hear her release it through her nose. Then she leaned her head back, slowly, carefully, as though she were falling, and inhaled deeply again as the task at hand reached its peak.
[I [center [b ❇❇♥❇❇]]]
Walking through the threshold, she was overwhelmed by the dark fog that only she could see. The Watchers stood, according to their duties, but Saraya knew they were being sucked in, and turned to Adimar. [I "Get The Watchers out... They need air before they, too, become corrupt"]
Adimar quickly sprung to action, getting the four Watchers out and into open air. While he escorted them out, Saraya proceeded to the cell where Giji was held. There, she saw the man chained to stone, and on his wrists, burned her name across them. She would normally be shaken of it, but she was unmoved. She saw that his head was dropped, as if passed out under the fog. [I "Giji"] she let her voice cut through to him, and in response, his head jerked.
Saraya stared at Giji before his head slowly risen. Already, his firm was becoming grotesque. One of his eyes was sunken into his head. He looked weak, but the power of the Mage still surrounded him. She stepped forward, and it seemed to scare him. [b "No! The Mage will sense you! "] he yelled. Saraya ignored his pleas, coming forth as Adimar returned.
She knelt to him and put her index finger on his forehead, and it sent a sort of jolt through Giji. His head threw back against the stone, as if in pain from her touch. Her eyes blinked twice maybe before Giji's head slowly lowered to face her.... An entirely different face shown, and it smirked before laying its eyes on her... But what those eyes saw was an image just as dark, but twice as powerful as he, and growled.
[b "You've seemed to be using illusions against me... No way are you that powerful! "] The Mage's voice sounded from the shadows. Saraya calmly stated at him, her eyes as crimson as the dying horizon. [I "Perhaps, Mage... Perhaps... "] she said slowly, her stare piercing through the Mage's absent form.
[b "How can you do that?!"] He growled. She smirked her fanged smile again. It shook The Mage, to where he began to lose some control of his puppet. What sort of power exactly did she possess?! [I "I want to relay a message to you, Mage... "] she began. Adimar watched as she leaned in to the paralyzed prisoner's ear. Her lips were moving, but he didn't hear a sound... What was significant to him was that Giji's eyes grew wider with each word she spoke. She then calmly stood, took Giji's head in her hands and smashed his head against the stone wall, knocking Giji out.
She then pulled his head up by his scalp, and used her ability of air to drain his senses and blocked his mind to where The Mage couldn't return. After which, she turned and walked past Adimar. [I "Let us leave... "] she said. Adimar grabbed her arm gently, asked her what she had said and done to the host. Saraya looked calm and she smirked. [I "I set Giji free from him... "]
Adimar wasn't satisfied. He asked again what she had said to the virus in Giji... Saraya hesitated a moment, but turned to him and said plainly... [I "I said... 'Even if you succeed in taking me... You will meet your demise... And your king will fall into shadow, where my undead dwell, and his minions will burn in hell... I promise that"]
Adimar was shocked. Saraya? Sending the monster off in a threat that powerful? He thought he would have never hear it... He watched as Saraya walked back into the palace, nonchalant as if nothing had happened...
Rhuarc was glad to see that Aria's door had not been left unattended, Ursula the Shield Maiden stood vigilant and she would make a formidable foe, he was glad that it was she who was guarding Aria. The Jai took up a position on the other side of the door so that they booth flanked the wooden entranceway and while they stood in silence, Rhuarc's eyes never stopped searching the hallway for any other sign of movement, a hand resting on his belt knife ready to be drawn at a moment's notice, willing to do anything to protect the High Priestess. An echo of footsteps sounded from the way that Rhuarc had just come from and the Jai guardian tensed but he relaxed as he saw that it was only Lara, clearly she had decided to do neither of his suggested courses of actions and chosen the unspoken third option. In Lara's defence it was Rhuarc's own mistake, he should have given her every option available to her and let Lara make her own choice. She was headstrong and more than capable of making the correct choice in any situation. Rhuarc simply did not think that Lara would want to stand by a door, he thought that Lara would find it boring and would rather be doing something else.
As Ursula creaked the door open and displayed the resting Priestess to the two Guardians Rhuarc was not calmed. He agreed that Aria needed her rest and the powder that the Shield Maiden had put int he soup was necessary, it also meant that Aria would be completely defenceless which made Lara, Rhuarc and Ursula all the more important. [b "Send all the guards you wish Shield Maiden, I shall not be relieved. I will stay until the Priestess wakes."] Ursula obviously had other matters to attend to, she was the leader of the Watchers and must rally her forces and ensure that this Gigi was the only threat to them. If the Mage could influence someone in Kil'heed maybe there was more that the abomonation could do. No chances could be taken. [i "I'm next, he's going to target me next....."] The words from Lara's mouth caught Rhuarc's attention as the youngest Guardian voiced her concern. [b "Lara why do you say such things? I do not know if what you say is true. I won't lie by saying that you are not a target, you very well might be. What I will say is this; If the Mage is coming for you we will be there to stand beside you Lara. Let him come I say and let The Mage face the full power of the Guardians and the High Priestess against him!"] Lara was a Guardian and as such Rhuarc would stand beside her no matter what, if the Mage sent an army after her then Rhuarc would be with her on the Battlefield, if the Mage captured her Rhuarc would hunt day and night to find her again, if The Mage brought the Fade, the Necromancer and Malik himself after Lara then Rhuarc would face them all in order to help Lara. [b "Worry not Lara, if he comes for you then we will be ready. Myself, Adimar, Saraya, the priestess and Carrick will all be by your side. You have my word."]
Hour after hour passed uneventfully, occasionally a watcher or messenger ran past them on their way to do one thing o another but no one tried to gain access to Aria's chambers, periodically Rhuarc opened the door a fraction, only enough to see that Aria rested still and was alone and unscathed. One one occasion a few guards came just as Ursula had said they would and true to his word Rhuarc still refused to leave his post by the High Priestess's door and soon enough the soldiers departed again seeing that there was no point in staying seeing as the door was already guarded by those far more capable than themselves. Rhuarc tried to let his mind search for any serpents within the city to aid them in their search, to learn if they had seen anything that the Watchers had missed but unfortunately the city of Kil'heed had no snakes within it's walls and those in the mountainside could tell him nothing of what was going on with the Mage's plots. There was no use pursuing the matter, they did not understand names the way that humans did so asking about Gigi would be fruitless. After his meditations he once again looked in on Aria, thankfully she was still asleep and unharmed and as he closed the door once more and turned around he came face to face with one of the Watchers...Luther.
The Jai Guardian studied the Watcher and stared into the other man's eyes, he cut an impressive figure, tall, muscular and incredibly handsome, something Rhuarc would never be. Strong, rugged and dependable but with the number of tattoo and scars covering his body he could never be described as handsome. There was something in the Watcher's eyes that he distrusted but he could not place what it could be, Rhuarc had taken a disliking to Luther since they had met in the platform after they had completed their trials. [#1473b7 "Greetings Guardian. I wish to check the Priestess' chambers and ensure that no harm has befallen her."] Luther made to step forward, assuming Rhuarc would simply acquiesce to the request from the Watcher without thought but the Jai did not move an inch and his gaze became harder if that was even possible. [b "I think not. Lara and myself have been watching closely and can assure you that the High Priestess is in no danger at least not while we still stand guard."] A look of mild irritation flashed across Luther's flawless features for an instant but was gone so quickly that Rhuarc questioned whether it had ever been there in the first place. [#1473b7 "I mean no disrespect, I only wish to be of aid."] [b "Then be of aid elsewhere, you are not needed here."] Rhuarc's hand rested on his belt knife just as Luther's hand rested upon his longsword belted at his hip, every second seemed an eternity before Luther flashed a brilliantly white smile and relaxed, removing his hand acting as if nothing were amiss. [#1473b7 "A word of warning Guardian of Jai'hash...I would be careful of what enemies you make."] [b "Be on your way [i Lieutenant]"] Rhuarc's voice never wavered but he put as much derision in that last word as he could, he knew that he had no control over the Watchers but he was Aria's General after all and even if it was petty it felt good to outrank the man. Rhuarc watched the Luther depart and turned to Lara. [b "Tell me, what do you make of him?"]
Adimar was pleased to hear Rhuarc and the rest of the group agree to a meal together. They made their way back into the Sanctum where they were escorted to a dinning hall to eat. Food had been prepared and was waiting for them. There were plates of poultry, other game, and plenty of colorful vegetables. None of them hesitated to dig into their food and begin eating. Adimar couldn’t speak for the others, but he knew the moment he smelled food, he was starving. He was taking a bite of his poultry when a Watcher came in and informed them that Saraya had been attacked. This concerned Adimar as it was the second time she’d been attacked, and confusing as well. From the looks of it… the Mage was more concerned with getting Saraya than he was Aria. What was this Mage up to?
He, like the others, jumped to their feet to follow the Watcher. Already the warmth and laughter that had echoed in the hall was now gone. Fading away as quickly as it had come. Adimar wanted to see the prisoner, but he wanted to make sure his fellow Guardian was alright as well. Thad, Rupert, Max, and Ayab all made their way to the prisoner to ensure nothing more happened until either Adimar or Rhuarc could go down and deal with it personally.
When they came to Saraya and Carrick’s room they were shocked by the site of what they saw. Carrick watched over Saraya’s sleeping figure when they entered. Rhuarc asked exactly what Adimar was thinking: What had happened here? Carrick unfortunately did not have a readily available answer. Only that he knew Saraya had been attacked. Thankfully, she would live and was healing no thanks to Luther’s limited healing abilities. Rhuarc stayed the least amount, once Carrick assured him that Saraya was well, he made haste to take up watch at the Priestess’ door.
Carrick felt a twinge of guilt, knowing that it was his place to keep watch and guard the Priestess not Rhuarc’s, and yet he had been doing as The Priestess asked. Keep watch of the Guardians. He was failing at it, or maybe he was underestimating their enemy. Whatever it was, it made him feel guilt for failure to do what was expected of him. Carrick thanked Rhuarc for his kind compliment and it made the weight of his new sword seem heavier than it really was.
Adimar saw this and reached out to comfort the man as Rhuarc made his exit, but was stopped when Lara decided to depart following after Rhuarc. Adimar had watched her go long enough to ensure she had gone to either their companions in the dungeons or up with Rhuarc. He was pleased she chose the latter as he didn’t foresee her enjoying any time with the prisoner.
[i “I have a headache…”] He heard Saraya say, but Carrick was there to hold the raven haired beauty and help her sit up in her bed and mentioned he would get her some water. She then asked where Gigi was and Adimar frowned, he’d never heard that name before, but it must have been someone who knew Saraya. Perhaps it wasn’t the Mage who had attacked her. Whatever the attack had done though, it had changed Saraya. What that change was, Adimar could not put his finger on it, and instead the room remained silent as Saraya warned that Gigi could not stay and that the Mage’s power had found its way in with Gigi as a host.
“Why does the Mage want you so badly?” Adimar asked breaking the tense silence.
“I have been wondering the same,” Carrick added his voice dark and upset by the turn of events. However, none of them were prepared for the words that tumbled from Saraya’s lips. The Mage wanted to use her to carry his seed. It would no doubt create a creature of great power and possibly evil. It was a sobering thought, and added a heightened liability to their mission. Thankfully, and shockingly -that would never come to pass, for Saraya revealed she was already carrying a child. Carrick’s child. The look on the man’s face was priceless, and Adimar chuckled to himself. Carrick stammered with confusion as to how this was possible when they’d been sleeping for the past six months. Saraya’s explanation was a difficult one to swallow, but with the revelation of her powerful father, it made sense.
That wasn’t all Saraya had to say or do. She wanted to see this ‘Gigi’.
“I don’t think that is wise. You were just attacked,” Carrick tried to warn, now knowing that his lover was with child he seemed to take on a more protective stance.
“Luther Healed her though,” Adimar said, playing the advocate. “I’m on my way to interrogate the prisoner. Lady Saraya, you are more than welcomed to join me.” Adimar’s invite caused Carrick to toss a frustrated look his way, but Adimar was undeterred.
“She’s pregnant, she does not need to be down in those dungeons.”
“You’re right, she is pregnant, but not an invalid,” Adimar teased. “She knows the man we have in custody, and if she has a way to sever this bond the Mage has made with Gigi, then we should let her.”
“I know,” Carrick frowned.
“Lady Saraya clearly posses some Arcane power, we should see what she’s capable of,” Adimar suggested. Carrick looked to Saraya with deep concern for her well being and reached out to take her hands in his. It was a tender scene.
Carrick held Saraya’s hands in his own and kissed the knuckles before he looked her in the eye. “Since I have meet you I’ve been given blessing after blessing, and now you bless me with a child? I do not feel I am worthy, of you, a child, or your love. I will strive everyday to be worthy of you, and I can not wait to meet our child,” He finished with a happy smile before he claimed her lips with his own and held her in a tight embrace. He didn’t want to let her go, but Adimar was right, Saraya had powers that needed to be explored and trained. Currently there was no better person to help teach Saraya than Adimar.
Carrick bid Saraya to follow Adimar, but made the man promise to keep her safe, which Adimar easily agreed to. The Volshi Guardian offered Saraya his arm and escorted her from the room to the Dungeons. Carrick turned to Luther and expressed his need to build a platoon of guards to protect not only the Priestess, but the Guardians as well. It was official: Nowhere and no-one was safe from the reaches of Malik and his goons.
[right [pic http://i68.tinypic.com/wioj5u.jpg]]
Ursula had been keeping guard outside The Priestess’ room for the past few hours. She had eaten her fill and fallen asleep quickly. Ursula had kept watch knowing that just because she was safe inside Kil’heed did not mean she was immune to any possible dangers able to sneak in. Rare, but not impossible. Not a sound emerged from the Priestess’ room as Ursula kept watch, but after many hours she did hear the coming of footsteps. She spied the Guardian of Jai’Hash making his way towards her. Ursula had heard of the attack against Saraya, she was privy to all things happening in this fortress, but it did not pull her away from Aria’s door. If anything it made her stand watch more vigilantly.
She said nothing as Rhuarc came to stand on the other side of Aria’s door silently. He stood much like she did, arms crossed and waiting -no, daring someone or something to even try getting through this door. To try getting through them. She took the time to look at him again. Back in the Sanctum he had reminded her of Jai’Hash himself, and now she was more certain of it than before -that Rhuarc was much like the man Jai’Hash had once been. Jai’Hash, Ursula was certain, had been slightly taller, with darker skin, and a more persistent scowl. Despite all those minor differences, it didn’t take away from how Rhuarc was just as imposing and impressive as Jai’Hash had been.
They stood in silence for several long moments before Ursula heard another set of steps and spied Lara coming their way. Ursula pushed away from the wall and gently pushed the door open to peer inside and show Rhuarc and Lara that Aria had not been compromised. Sure enough Aria was face first in her pillows sleeping soundly. “She still sleeps, and I assume she will remain that way through the night. I fed her some soup laced with a sleeping powder. It should ensure she has a dreamless and restful sleep.” Ursula informed them both. “I will send another round of guards to relieve you when the regular guards change shifts,” Ursula took one last look at Lara who moved to stand on the opposite of Rhurac at the door and she grinned. She was pleased to see the Guardians were devoted to their Priestess, and that the youngest Guardian was stepping up eager to prove herself and to learn. She finally bid them good evening as she closed The Priestess’ door and left the hall to attend to other duties.
Lara felt extremely at ease when Rhuarc and Adimar came back. She had felt the urge to sneak off and listen in on the conversation, but with Adimar and Rhuarc present she knew she wouldn't be able to do it; she wasn't upset about it. On the contrary, Lara knew that someone had to counteract her 'sneak where she wasn't supposed to' impulse, so she wouldn't get into the trouble.
At the mention of the deal offered by Adimar's father, that was quite a shocker. So someone didn't believe that Aria was the Priestess? If she had had her way in dealing with this impudent disbeliever, Lara would have taken him by the scruff of his shirt, and dragged him all the way to where Aria was. And it was a good thing that Lara wouldn't have her way, as doing that would cause some severe problems between her and Adimar, and she had promised Adimar not to do anything stupid.
But at the same time, Lara had a big urge to go around the airship, preferably by herself. But Adimar, knowing her habits, expressed told her not to go snooping in or around the airship. Lara paid careful attention, as Adimar was of Volshi and that meant he knew what he was talking about anything Volshi related. She even heard Rhuarc chuckling about it, although Lara felt somewhat unsettled by this chuckling as she wasn't sure how Rhuarc was thinking about her 'sneaking off's'.
Food. That would be an extremely smart idea, seeing as she, Rhuarc, and Adimar hadn't had anything solid to eat or drink for six or seven months. Heck, even Lara's stomach rumbled at the suggestion of food and drink.
Lara followed Rhuarc and Adimar back to the fortress, where their group entered into a room with one huge table. Various foodstuffs were presented, as well some drinks. Lara sniffed some of the drinks gingerly, looking at all of them suspiciously until she came upon one which smelled like something she would have drunk at home. She poured it cautiously into a cup, and then drank a small drop from the cup. It had a bittersweet taste, but it felt alright and didn't seem, at least to her, like she would be immediately dying. As to the food, there was so much to choose from. Being from Fenlyck, Lara first noticed the fish and took some of them for herself. She ate slowly, for she didn't want to overwhelm her stomach which hadn't eaten such rich food for a few months.
The mini-feast was all fine and well until a Watcher approached, and informed them of a grave development. She couldn't believe what the Watcher had said, hell she didn't even want to believe what the Watcher was saying. This place was supposed to be a safe heaven from the evil creatures under Malik's control, but this gave proof that it wasn't the case. The shock of the realization almost caused Lara to vomit the food she had just eaten.
They all rushed down to where Carrick and Saraya were, worried and anxious as to the current state that the two of them were in. She, Rhuarc, and Adimar entered Saraya's room, and there stood Carrick in a fine suit of armor with a fine sword accompanying the armor. There was a blood trail, what in the deep seas had even happened in here?
Lara scanned the room, sweeping left to right, up and down. All there was a trail of blood, a thick trail of it. Lara just couldn't imagine it, she felt confused and disoriented.
Rhuarc took charge, suggesting to Adimar to go look at the prisoner while he himself would guard the priestess. To her, Rhuarc offered a choice which she didn't act upon. Lara had thought that this place had been safe. But if it was safe, then how had Malik's evil minions had gotten into this fortress in the first place?
Lara left the room, she didn't want to think about it anymore. It was all a garble of confusion. Blood, no safety, attempted killings, panic bordering on anarchy. From one crazy world into another, from the frying pan and into the fire.
Lara found herself in front of Rhuarc, and walking closer to him. She stepped to his right, and decided to stand vigil with him, since she did not now what else to do at such a time.
And then, then a thought came to her head, and one which she spoke aloud. [+purple "I'm next, he's going to target me next....."]
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