[Jim+Nightshade [size30 I don't imagine there will be much time left, everything is growing dark so quickly. Every ritual, every spell so far has failed; the three of them can only hold off our impending doom for so long.]]
[Jim+Nightshade [size30 The fight has certainly taken its toll on our most powerful, even the mage isn't as strong as he used to be. It won't be long now...until I see all those that have passed before me.]]
[Jim+Nightshade [size30 Godspeed to all of you, may the Goddess take mercy on your souls.]]
After looking through a box of her deceased father's things, ____ came across an old, nearly falling apart journal. The date of its creation was unknown, but obviously a few centuries old at the very least, leaving ___ curious as to what it contents pertain. Cracking the old book open and looking over is yellowed pages, she discovered the existence and possible destruction of an ancient, magical kingdom with vague directions to it written in the back of the old book. Wanting to see it for herself, ___ sets out to discover Evermore and learn of the dark secrets within its walls. Of course, unbeknownst to her, some of the spirits from that time and battle are still around, waiting for someone to come and help them and ultimately lift the curse that binds them to this world.
(X) The Girl with the Journal - I would prefer to be adventurous, obviously, with a bit of personality. Please keep in mind when designing your character that she is a modern day person. I would prefer this to be a girl but if you're hell-bent on making it a dude and can convince me of such, then it could happen.
(x)The Handler / The Guardsman - Was the person in charge of caring for the princess and making sure no harm came to her. Also is aware of every room in the castle as well as secret passages. Can perform basic/light magic.
(X) The Adviser - The most intellectual person of the kingdom. Can perform intermediate magic.
(x) The Mage - Has more magical skills than the rest but less hand to hand combat skills. Can perform advanced magic.
[b Personality:] Quirky and Adventurous, She is well mannered and has a tiny complex, he hugest flaw, when she starts talking, she doesn't pick up on the social cue for "Shut Up".
[b Short Bio:] Being born to the Cross family was a blessing she was loved by aunts and uncles, grandparents and family friends. She grew like any other girl, fast. To fast her mom would say. She had learned the flute, violin, and piano by the age of 9. She was doing concerts at 10 and 11 before middle school. Then her life turned upside down at 14... Her mother, her teacher was pregnant and this pregnancy was very troublesome. She fought hard. The doctor told her 1 week before the due date that the baby had no heart beat... crushed and heartbroken Amelia had to deliver anyway. The labor was 27 hours long and the heartbreak was to much for her... Amelia... Evelynn's mother had died moments later with her baby in her arms. This tragedy left only Evelynn and her father. The first few months were quiet as John. Her father worked up the strength mentally to clean the nursery out. It slowly became a spare room. 8th grade came up faster than expected and she was in band and of coarse first chair for the flute. She was humble about it though. Always nice and a bit nerdy thanks to her dad's love for all things Sci-fi and Fantasy. She went to her first dance and was happy a boy had asked her though she wasnt sure if it was meant as a romantic gesture. She dated him and then she was forced by self hate to leave him. Life was hard and she found out the hard way. No one knew not even her father, who's health declined slowly through depression and working to hard... She was raped by a "friend" and so her 2 year relationship with the boy she went to that dance with was ruined. She was the stupid damsels for a time and then throughout high school she spent more time at home with friends occasionally she tried to stay in band but flunked out for lack of trying. She handed her day the flute and never touched the piano or her mom's violin again. Her senior uear came around and her father had gotten so I'll that she had to switch to home school for the last semester to help care for him. She promised him all A's and that's what he got. Roughly one year later he declined so very rapidly and his final wishes were that everything was hers, and that she play him the lullaby... The same lullaby her mother had taught her that they hummed to her as a baby, and the baby in her mother's belly. Her eyes full of tears she asked home one question, "Which instrument Papa" he pointed to the flute near the window at the far side of his room. She smiled through tears and only nodded to him. She began to play...
A few days later she was looking through his things...
[b Preferred Weapon:] Due to drastic changes in her body structure, Annabelle possesses powerful front legs and sharp appendages on her back for crushing and mutilating respectively.
[b Personality:] Annabelle is irresponsible in the extreme. Annabelle shows very little initiative to do anything outside of what others will tell her to do, and will follow orders unquestioningly. However, once she begins she often pays little attention to the welfare of others and will single-mindedly pursue a goal that she is given. This generally entails her reading up on every single available piece of literature on the subject and thus has built up a sizable body of knowledge. Finds that obeying orders for every aspect of her life relieves her of any personal responsibility, something she almost compulsively seeks out. Extremely pliable personality hidden beneath easy-going and rather cheeky exterior. Extremely loyal.
[b Short Bio:] Annabelle never enjoyed her intelligence. She was born with an eidetic memory and a remarkable ability to accomplish anything put before her. Unfortunately, she was spoiled for it, and raised to be remarkably irresponsible and lazy. So when she dropped out of Evermore's most prestigious academy, it should have shocked no one. Unsurprisingly however, this baffled all of her instructors who found her to be affable, serious, and most of all, competent in every field. Unbeknownst to them, it was during her years at the Academy that she found that if she simply acceded to her classmate’s every whim - whether it be taking their chores, doing their homework, or writing their entire research paper for them - it was much less exhausting than constantly living up to the expectations that had been set upon her. So when a frustrated classmate told her to drop out, she did. However, directionless, she found herself soon in the king’s own employ, a measure both to save her family’s face and one that was highly recommended by the instructors at the academy, and she was glad to serve mindlessly once again. However, under the king, she found herself free of suffocating expectations for the first time, and began to develop a personality. However, above all, she developed a loyalty for what few friends she could find. Then the Evil blighted the land. The kingdom needed her multitude of talents to rally to her defense, and Annabelle was all too eager to oblige. Working in capacity as a mage, strategist, librarian, diplomat, adviser, and even as an occasional assassin, she was devoted to the cause. But alas, the kingdom’s defenses proved inadequate against the encroaching Evil. In a desperate measure, she underwent a ritual she had researched from an ancient cult that worshiped spiders in order to gain the power of their god, the Spider Mother. In an act of sacrilege before the Goddess, she sacrificed a numberless amount of children and elderly before the Spider Mother’s altar, and she was transformed. However, she greatly underestimated the effect that the Spider’s Blessing would have upon her. Horribly disfigured and transformed into a half-human, half-spider being, her sanity was nearly shattered and she could do no more than writhe in pain as the kingdom collapsed around her. With sheer will, she managed to wrest control and gain the curse's power, but awoke only to the ruins of her kingdom and the corruption of her humanity. An abomination, she now seeks to topple the Evil by any means, as a final act of fealty to her dead King.
[b Personality:] Owl is quiet and shy, though imposing stature and helmet make it seem more menacing than he really is. In reality he is more of a 'mother hen' figure and will do anything to protect those dear to him. When aggravated he becomes bossy and stubborn, often going on tirades about the rules being broken. While he has a love for rules and order, he does have a more playful side that can be brought out by giving him someone to care for in a non-dire situation.
[b Short Bio:] Tyreel wanted to be in the royal guard since he was a child. Being born into a noble family allowed him to fulfill this role, begging at a young age to begin sword fighting lessons. He was nowhere near a natural at it, but through hard work and determination became one of the best guards for his age. He settled comfortably once he became on of the guards in the castle. That is, until he saw the princess. He was instantly drawn to protect her, feeling like the magic in his body thrummed to life whenever he thought of being close to her. It wasn't love, he told himself, merely a desire to defend something so precious and important, to be not just some guard but the guardsman of the princess herself. So he continued to work.
Seasons passed and he trained his magic and physical prowess, determined to prove himself worthy to defend the royal court. He even earned himself the nickname of "The Morning Owl" due to his preference for light magic and his frequent midnight training. During this time, he took every chance he could to guard the royal chambers. Anything to be near one of the most important people in all the kingdom. Eventually he got his wish; he was to defend to Princess, to be at her every beck and call to protect her from any that wished her harm.
When the fighting started, he stayed by her side for as long as he could, determined to protect her. But the darkness was growing too quickly, and he was forced to abandon his post to fight alongside others, certain he would return to the princess when they were victorious. He fought until his very last breath was cut short with a massive head trauma. The next he awoke, his world was in ruins, and his purpose failed.
[b Preferred Weapon:] Carries a staff, infused with magic from the Goddess.
[b Personality:] Seth is a very shy individual at first, but warms up greatly once one gets to know him. He is always putting others needs ahead of his own and very intuitive about others feelings. He is not afraid to speak his mind, however can be quiet about it, and is always willing to help. Still, he is a fun-loving child and tends to be insecure around older officials about his young age. Seth carries around a worn, stuffed dog with him wherever he goes, a security measure from his early days in the kingdom that he never got rid of.
[b Short Bio:] Granted an unusual talent to peek briefly into the past and the future, Seth found himself entering the kingdom of Evermore at the early age of 6. He began to study magic and gain a better handle on his gifts and quickly became the youngest person to hold such a position in the history of the kingdom. Seth tried hard to keep the castle and village peaceful, going out of his way to keep the kingdom harmonious and fair. It went well until the Evil Force began to destroy the kingdom and everyone in it. He and the two other powerful staff of the castle did everything in their power to stave off the darkness but, ultimately, failed. He still hopes that the help that they so desperately needed will come again, this time to lift the darkness from Evermore and restore its light.
+ The Roleplay will start with _____ discovering the actual castle. I imagine this to be the best starting point so everyone can be involved.
+ I am looking for literacy! I will start the character count at 1000, I believe this to be very reasonable for our kind of RP. Grammar skills are a must, nothing angers me more when I find the whole post "typd lik ths." This being said, I would also ask that you give me a small sample of your writing , preferably something rather recent in order for me to get a handle on your writing style.
+ I would prefer a post from each person at least once a week. I understand that everyone has lives and I am, in no way, any exception. If you're having problems coming up with something, please let me know. I don't want to have thought that you ditched or fell off the planet or something.
+ Do not join, post one entry or post for a week, then disappear. This drives me insane and, if you do it, you'll be booted out and your character up for grabs.
[h3 Eve ]
The mage walked over and placed his hand over her ankle. The coolness of the magic Seth used to heal her ankle stung a bit. Not like the cut itself, but like the feeling you get when holding a piece of ice in your hand a tad too long. It was nice after the first moments. Like a relieving wave from a cool ocean on a clear night. [+grey “Hmmm…”] She didn’t think it necessary to comment on his work, but she saw a smile and knew he must be happy to help. He looked like he was such a sweet boy. Far too young to have all of the problems he did… too young to be dead. She smiled to him and spoke up softly [+grey “Thank you Seth”]. She examined her ankle and it was as if she’d never even been injured. [+blues ‘I gotta learn that trick’] she noted in her mind as she looked at the sword more carefully.
Seth spoke about the travelers who carried them as hidden weapons, [+blues ‘so cool’] she remarked only to herself. The awe on her face was unfaltering though. She couldn’t hide it if she tried. Where had Grampa really gotten it? It had never looked like a sword before. It also was always one piece, but here it changed. Here it was a magnificent blade that made her feel like a secret hero in one of her favorite Comic Movies from home. She felt the spur of the moment start to sweep her up as these thoughts ran through her head faster than the words coming from Seth, but she found herself listening to him again as he mentioned another who would carry this kind of weapon. [+blue ‘The Divine’] …
[+grey “Who are the Divine?”] She asked after a long moment of slightly selfish pondering and awe. She asked the question but recoiled noticing something amiss about the young mage. He was sad… Dead as he may be, he still felt everything. He looked so lost even in a place he had known so well. She couldn’t imagine how someone so young must feel. She walked over and placed her hand on his shoulder which was up to her hip. As she meant to place her hand is phased through and she nearly fell over. The cold biting burns of the ice inside make her recoil quickly. [+blue ‘Ow… Well… Never mind that…’] She ignored the pain and smiled a bit awkwardly. She spoke up, [+grey “Seth... I know the words may not do you much good…”] She said sifting through the quotes in her head [+grey “They may not mean anything since they’re from my home…”]. She thought choosing one she expected may give him back a bit of happiness. [+grey “But, darkness is not a force - it is merely the absence of light.”] She started trying to remember the quote fully. [+grey “If you put Light in a dark room, then the room fills with it and the darkness goes away.”] She tapped her chin obviously thinking too hard, [+grey “Sadness is similar, because when joy is brought to someone who is despairing, then the sadness goes away too...”] She finished and smiled a goofy grin with a blush because she couldn’t help but think she made no sense at all. She stood there quietly thereafter, waiting for some kind of response to her likely senseless rambling. She started to twiddle her thumbs she felt more and more like she may have offended him and started to sway a bit woozily. [+blue ‘Oh goodness…’].
The two walked quietly through the dingy halls, Seth leading her expertly through the castle. Many times in his young life had he traversed these very halls and not once thought much about it other than to where he was headed. At that time they were full of life and color, telling many different stories about Evermore and those that lived in it. Portraits of the royal family and those of high rankings hung on the many walls, beautiful silk tapestries of majestic red and gold accented the entryways, and the smells of freshly baked bread and treats always filled the first level. Now...it was grey. There was no life, no color...nothing. The walls of Evermore weren't in one piece as they used to be, holes from decaying stone and mortar were everywhere. The portraits and tapestries had long been destroyed, mostly from the final battle, and their beautiful colors faded. Seth didn't know what smells hung in the air around them but, if he had to guess, it was of an earthy and musky variety.
This certainly wasn't a place for visitors.
But despite that, they had one...a descendant of Kano's, no doubt. The acceptance from the sun stone proved that. Kano was the only one who could use that particular piece, it had chosen him and those like him to wield it. This girl, this Evelynn, she must have a spirit in her that resembled Kano's. That wasn't a bad thing, the soldier was quite useful when he wished to be. Since he was rather new he hadn't built up as much mass as the other soldiers had, despite his hard work. To make up for that, he met with Seth on a weekly basis in order to learn a few tricks that would give him a fiercer edge....that's when the sun stone came in. Now, it belonged to this girl. Hopefully she could figure out how to use it as Kano could and, if not, Seth would be more than able to help with that.
A sharp, metallic sound pulled him out of his thoughts and caused him to stop immediately. Turning around to face Evelynn, he noticed the flute in two pieces and, more importantly, blood. Amethyst eyes quickly flickered over her form in order to discover its origin, noticing the cut to her heel. It wasn't very big but she seemed to be losing blood fast. Good thing Seth could talk and work at the same time as it seemed she had a question she wished to be answered.
[+purple "It's not uncommon, no,"] The boy answered gently as he moved closer to her, kneeling down behind her to get a better look at the injury. If he was living he'd have an easier time at this; just because he was a ghost didn't mean he didn't lose his touch or all of his power. A small hand reached out, covering the cut with his palm, and held it there for a few moments. He hoped the girl could remain rather still despite this sudden and frigid touch. Seth continued to keep his eyes on the area, concentrating a little as his magic began to heal her wound, and pulled his hand away once it was finished. A smile then appeared on the pale face, the young mage rather proud of his work. There. Not even a scar was left; it appeared as if it never happened. Seth then rose to his feet, looking over at the sword Evelynn now held in her hand. It was a stunning piece of weaponry, still in pristine condition, with ancient symbols etched into its smooth surface. It was from the same alphabet as what was on the box that held Kano's bracelet....an old, lost language that only three...no, four....still knew.
[+purple "Weapons like those were typically carried by travelers in order not to draw unwanted attention to themselves,"] Seth continued on softly, while watching her. She seemed amazed by this, admiring the sword from every angle imaginable. [+purple "I've also been told that the Divine used to carry concealed weapons. I guess it made their duties much easier."]
Seth turned again and looked down the hallway after taking notice of Annabelle's string, and absently rested his hand over the life-threatening injury he had once sustained. The evidence of it was still on his robes, large blood stains around the hole in his abdomen with a matching one on his back. His own words reminded him of a time long ago when he would sit with Her Majesty and listen to her speak. Sometimes she talked about the happenings of Evermore life but other times she told him stories...
[i Seth stood beside the Princess, holding onto Kimchi by a paw, as the two looked over a large painting hanging above the thrones in the throne room. It was beautiful, nothing like the boy had ever seen, and he couldn't pull his eyes away from it. A woman, too stunning for words, floated in the top center of the picture in a night sky setting. Below her was a castle, a little village around it, then grass and hills encasing them. People could be seen in the village while a Queen-type figure stood on the battlements of the castle and, finally, a small group of people with fire-red hair in the woods that appeared at the bottom of the painting.]
[i [+fuchsia "Has anyone ever told you this story?"] she asked in her gentle tone, looking down at the small mage. Seth hadn't, not even knowing who would tell him stories in the first place, and shook his head. She smiled softly at him, delicately picking him up and held him on her hip as she began to tell the decades old story.]
[i [+fuchsia "Calamity used to own the world and everyone in it, wreaking havoc on everything it touched. That was all that was known. Evita, a wondrous and kind Goddess, didn't think the world should be this way and wished to prove that she was more capable and powerful than the darkness. Claiming a piece of the world for herself, this part of the world we live in, she cleared out the calamity and darkness in favor of light and peace. She named this place Evermore and graced it with people. She gave them the knowledge of good and evil as well as the knowledge to build shelter and grow food. Once she was finished and was pleased with her work, she gave Evermore a ruler...some argue the incarnate of herself. Others argue only a piece of herself entered the ruler. I suppose we'll never know."]]
[i [+fuchsia "Evermore was completed. The rulers ruled and the people lived."]]
[i [+fuchsia "After a time, she noticed that calamity was once again invading her land and threatening all she had done. In order to protect it, she created a group of magical warriors called the Divine. To set them apart from the rest of her people, she gave them a distinct characteristic: they had stunning, crimson hair...just like yours."]]
[i She gently bounced the small mage on her hip, causing him to smile and let out a gentle giggle at the same time. After allowing him to settle for a moment, she continued.]
[i [+fuchsia "Their duty was to protect Evermore and the royal family, which they did with pride. Magic was their main weapon but, in special cases, they made items with hidden weapons inside...like walking sticks and such. Sometimes, magic isn't always the answer and they learned that early on. They built themselves a small village nearby in order to keep a better eye on Evermore and its inhabitants."]]
[i [+fuchsia "The rules ruled, the protectors protected, and the people thrived."]]
[i [+fuchsia "Life continued this way for a long while but the evil once again began to seep in. The Divine began to dwindle, leaving only a handful left. Some were rumored to have stayed in that little village where they met the same fate as those who came before them while others traveled to other villages. Either way, the protectors of the royal family and their people were no more. The rulers were left to protect themselves. Some of them still exist though most don't even know it...like you. You are a descendant of the Divine, it's why you have so much power."]]
[i She paused a moment, looking down at the small mage she held on her hip. [+fuchsia "I think that's why she brought you to me, to help us. I don't know what's going to happen, but I know you can help stop it...You and the others."]]
Seth looked down at the tattered runner beneath his feet, littered with rips and stains. It was a shame, he really wished he could have done more. Apparently she put her faith in the wrong person.
Evelynn listened to Seth while studding the bracelet, she saw a still faint glow coming from the center stone. She also felt warmth, like a blanket draped over her. Was it keeping her comfortable. What an amazing thing ... Seth went on about the stone and Kano, but Eve couldn't avert her gaze just yet. She felt like she could stare at it forever like it was staring back to her. Then she caught a smell in the air and it had her caught of guard, she snapped her attention upward. What was it...? She looked around for a moment and then her eyes began to fill again with tears. She must seem like such a baby to the three she had met so recently. Always crying, about something. The smell was familiar though and she couldn't help but cry. She held the bracelet up to her cheek and took a deep and thankful breath. [+blue "Granpa."] she thought recognizing it with a smile as she heard Seth speak again.
"Before that, though, let's go check on the other two and see how they're doing." Seth said as he set his robes comfortably around the stuffed pup. She nodded to him a yes and took a step forward staying close as she followed. Seth lead the way as they looked for the others. His appearance started to seem a bit normal to her as she followed along, he and owl were both ...ghostly and she was afraid at first, but now it seemed to be normal. Only a little bit of time and she was already adjusting.
She was turning around every few moments to look around the castle and take every bit she could in. Evelynn focused though, on everything that Seth told her while she followed him. He said it accepted her, [+blue “So, perhaps it is alive. It certainly felt alive”] she thought to herself her mind wandering but her eyes staying fixed on Seth’s back as they walked along. [+blue “It also knew granpa was ‘part of me’… maybe it could read DNA? Either way, that’s so cool”] she looked around her and behind herself once again and then down to the bracelet. [+blue “using it for defense, and offence”], her musing was interrupted my the loud clang of her flute dropping to the ground, and a sharp pain on her heel.
She ignored the pain for the moment dismissing it. Her flute lay in two pieces, mostly together and the separated area gleaming. [+grey “Oh no…” ] she spoke sadly under her breath and knelt down to grab the flute. It was held together by something inside which had Evelynn looking around like a confused buffoon. [+grey “Wha-?”] she grabbed the small end piece and tried to pick it up; as she did, she revealed a small short sword that made a 'shwing' sound as it left the flute's holdings for what Eve could only assume was the first time. It seemed so strange. She thought to herself, [+blue “All this time it’s been a special flute, for sure, but not some magical swords hiding spot.] She held it up and looked at it. The blade had carvings she couldn’t read along the tang of its steel. They were similar to the ones on the box she had gotten the bracelet from, which had her looking at the bracelet again. She only looked for a moment though. [+grey “Umm….”] she started and looked up her eyes finding Seth. [+grey “Please tell me magical hidden swords are normal here.”] she said trying to make light of the fact a sword was part of her flute. She stood up and only then did she feel the twinge of pain again. She looked down and sure enough she was bleeding. The wound was small but the blood coming from it was an alarming amount. Of course her being anemic would make for something hard to explain if they asked. She knelt back down and started applying pressure. [+grey "Shit". ]
[tab] [b "It will take a bit longer, but we'll make it to the room. Be on the lookout for more beasts, where there is one beast there are likely others to follow."]
[tab] Annabelle waved dismissively. “No need to worry about another one of those creatures, Hero. The thing was solo. I figured that out while I was making my way through the horse leech’s migraine.” Owl noticeably sagged at the mention of his friendly fire incident. A blush, or at least, the equivalent of one, appeared on Annabelle’s face. She hadn’t meant to be so accusatory.
[tab] The Advisor walked in silence. She wished that she could simply teleport to where Seth and Evelyn were, but there was the issue of taking Mr. Hero along. Though, with how she had just berated the undead Guardsman, she would have been fine teleporting alone. Regardless, the prospect of taking Owl through the Webway sat poorly with the half-spider.
[tab] Annabelle shivered. Odd. She should have been used to the ambient temperature by now. She did have a thousand years. Her thoughts strayed to the Webway again. It came to her attention that she was not in as much pain as she ought to have been, nor was there as much damage to her exoskeleton as there should have been. She really hated when her mind wandered like this. It happened a lot more now that she had nobody to tell her what to do or think, much less a king.
[tab] Thinking back, why wasn’t the body of the horse leech there when she came to?
[tab] [size20 [b …]]
[tab] What would the king have her do? Owl was basically dragging his knuckles, he was slouching so much. His head was hung so low, it was surprising that his helmet didn’t just tumble off.
[tab] Then again, with the crater in the back of it, it wasn’t so surprising after all.
[tab] Annabelle had relived two creature’s last moments in the past ten minutes. It was disconcerting. The leech’s were about as coherent as to be expected of a creature its size and intelligence; [i “gurgle gurgle, bleh bleh, dead.”] Unpleasant, but not particularly memorable. Mister Hero was a different story altogether.
[tab] In Annabelle’s experience with dying moments, there was some clear patterns. Even the most devout cultist’s dying thoughts would invariably be a muddled thought on unfinished business or the classic [i “I don’t want to die.”] In both cases, they were rather disjointed. Owl was an exception to this. His final moments were crisp and vivid, yet there was a throbbing pain that made the memory disturbingly... [i intimate.]
[tab] Another difference was subject matter. Even with the horrors he faced, his last thoughts were of his duty to the princess and the crushing guilt at his perceived failure. With how Mister Hero faced his death, Annabelle wanted dearly to do something to reassure him that he hadn’t shirked his duty.
[tab] But nobody gave her any such order. And perhaps it was a breach of privacy to live another man’s death. So the Advisor walked, eyes affixed to the blackened dent at the back of Owl’s head.
[tab] Annabelle found herself reaching out to the Guardsman. She gingerly brushed the back of one of his pauldrons. He took no notice and she withdrew.
[tab] [i I guess comforting isn’t my strong suit.]
[tab] She let her mind wander as she followed Owl. Watching him was… [i something.] After a while though, his automatic turns and trudging gait got a tad disinteresting. The Advisor’s thoughts returned to the nature of the divine.
[tab] [sup ]
[tab] “The Goddess hasn’t answered a single Oracle that me or Seth have put out since the fall,” she murmured, “and this might not mean anything. After all, I am an abomination and Seth is undead. Further, the royal bloodline is, for all intents and purposes, extinguished, à la mass regicide. But even before the kingdom fell, her guidance became much more infrequent. Why is that, I wonder?”
[tab] To say it was infrequent was an understatement. The goddess went from displaying fantastic light shows in the stars and miraculously healing the wounds of an entire army to occasionally shining a light on a soldier and issuing vague prophecies.
[tab] “But then you look at the activities of Maztlichaknä in the time leading up to the Fall you have the complete opposite. She went from existing solely in the archives of some dusty, goddess-forsaken library to a sprawling doomsday cult.” She cast a meaningful glance at Owl’s inattentive helmet. “All signs would point to her being a contributor to the Darkness, wouldn’t it?”
[tab] Owl didn’t respond, save for muttering, [b “I have failed you, princess,”] under his breath.
[tab] Annabelle continued, rather enjoying talking to herself. “But, if that were the case, why would the ritual that I found [i specifically] mention combatting the ‘Great Dark’ and emphasize the Spider-Goddess’ crusade against the said Darkness. Now I’m no priestess - though I most certainly could be - but a reference like that is loaded with prophetic connotation. So I went through with the ritual. It was a gamble to be sure,”the half-spider paused, frowning as if she had eaten something bitter, “but I took it. And certainly, perhaps the ritual was a lie, that is a possibility. However, I have found no other inconsistencies or falsehoods in Maztlichaknä’s canon texts, so unless the goddess specifically aimed this ritual at a single person who was unlikely to even be able to help at the cusp of the Fall, then I see no connection between the Spider-Goddess and the Darkness.”
[tab] “And before you ask, Owl,” she glanced back at him. He didn’t. “-I have thought this over. Thinking keeps me sane and I’ve had a lot time for it.”
[tab] “To summarize, the Spider-Goddess who gave me this form has her own agenda. The shift in power between the original goddess and Maztlichaknä appears too coincidental, though I cannot rule out the possibility of the Darkness interfering in the power balance somehow. In any case, she appears to want this Darkness gone, though for whatever reasons, I can only guess. Though, perhaps…” Annabelle tapped her chin, trailing off. Perhaps she wants to become the new goddess. But how did she plan to -
[tab] [b “Huh? I’m sorry, did you say something?”]
[tab] Annabelle looked at Owl, his twin orbs glowing softly behind his helmet. Then she looked around. They weren’t any closer to the inner sanctum than before. Quite the opposite.
[tab] The two of them were standing on the battlements of the castle’s once impregnable walls.
[tab] Annabelle glanced over the hundred foot drop and thought she could make out a large, crumpled body amid a strewn pile of rusted plates and bone. Oddly enough, despite the two of them walking about, Seth and Owl’s bodies were as they fell. Understandably, they didn’t like to talk about it.
[tab] The Advisor looked back at Owl, the Guard’s head apologetically tipped to the side. She felt her stomach drop. The guilt he carried must have been immense.
[tab] She couldn’t stand to wait for somebody to tell her to comfort him anymore. Annabelle clasped all four of her hands onto Owl’s pauldrons and looked him in the eye.
[tab] “It wasn’t your fault, Owl. The Darkness was more than any one of us could’ve handled, and you knew that. For the sake of the Spider-Mother, look, [i it wasn’t your fault.] A thousand years and you still hold maintain that you failed and could have done something. Honestly!” Annabelle sunk down onto the cobbles, dragging Owl’s bulk with her and wrapping him in a tight, four-armed embrace.
[tab] “I-I...” She stuttered, unable to find words. If only there actually was someone to tell her what to say. Annabelle sighed and broke eye contact. Reassuring people was hard. Especially with this topic and person. Would telling him he was helpless really alleviate him of his guilt? Well what else could she say?
[tab] “The people who fell to the Darkness, all of them: Amari, Seth, you, the king, and the princess. You couldn’t stop it, no matter how much you wish you could have.” The Advisor met Owl’s eyes again and shook her head. “It wasn’t your fault. It wasn’t your fault. It wasn’t your fault, it wasn’t your fault, it wasn’t your fault it wasn’t your fault.” She conjured a picture of the king in her head and suddenly, she didn’t know for whose benefit she was repeating herself for.
[tab] She continued, “It’s a new day, Mister Hero. Kano’s granddaughter is here, and Seth has something planned. There’s hope. There was nothing we could do then, Owl. They were simply too strong. But they’re long gone now. We have a shot now to put things right.”
[tab] Annabelle caught a whiff of something moving within the castle. Seth and the girl. Looking for them no doubt - they must have been out a ridiculous amount of time. She conjured an ethereal string that shot through the walls to Seth’s location. The Advisor was sure he could figure out how to follow a glistening purple string.
[tab] She turned her attention back to her armored friend. “I understand your guilt, and I know it won’t just disappear like that. But we’ll make it through. And if you ever need someone to back you up, just remember; you bared your memories to me. I felt the back of my skull cave in and I flew off that wall with you. I understand.” Her eyes flashed a shade of green before changing back.
Carrying the box back to the shelf once the bracelet was removed, Seth carefully set it back in its place on the shelf and replaced the books that stood in front of it. It had sat dormant in his sanctuary for many, many years now, he was glad it could finally be used again. He remembered when it came to be in his possession; he was given it the same day Kano was given the book and told to find them help. They both stood in this very room as the heavy piece of jewelry was set into his small hand, Kano giving him a sad smile and stating that he wouldn't need it..that possibly Seth could use it more than he could. Perhaps the opposite was true; if Kano had taken it with him maybe they could have had some kind of aid sooner and the Kingdom wouldn't have fallen.
Seth picked up Kimchi as he returned to Evelynn's side, watching as the dormant stone finally started to gain life again. Bright, pulsing light emitted from its shining surface, encasing its new owner in a warm glow for a few moments before dying out. Even though the stone stopped emitting light, it was still evident that it held life. It was finally alive again, something that caused Seth to smile a bit. There was no doubt about it now, she really was Kano's kin.
[+purple "The stone has accepted you,"] Seth explained softly, holding Kimchi to his chest as he looked up at her. It had done the same thing when Kano picked it, the small mage remembering this well. He held the same bewildered look that this girl did. [+purple "It recognizes you as its new master and will let you control it. It senses that Kano is part of you."] He couldn't help but wonder just how quickly she could pick up on how to use it. He imagined that, since she was of Kano's lineage, she'd learn at the same pace that he did. Seth hoped so, once the darkness learned of this girl's presence it would certainly try to be rid of her.
This caused Seth to shift his train of thought to Annabelle and Owl, wondering how they were fairing with the vermin invading their decaying home. Owl was certainly safe, there wasn't much more that could be done to him. Annabelle was more than likely also safe as she was resilient. Hardly anything could take her down. Still, he wanted to go check things out to make sure things really were okay. Now that Evelynne could protect herself (barely) they could leave the safety of the room and venture out into the halls.
[+purple "Now that you have the stone, you can learn how to use it for both defense and offense,"] Seth told her while tucking Kimchi into his robe before grabbing his staff. [+purple "Before that, though, let's go check on the other two and see how they're doing."]
[+purple "Kano would come visit me sometimes, when his tasks of the day were completed," ]Seth told Eve as He started to look for something [+purple "He wanted me to teach him a bit of magic to help with his combat skills. He was new....I think he felt intimidated around the more experienced soldiers, like Owl. He was a good student...studied hard. Though he wasn't very good at it."] He smiled pausing almost in a daze Evelynn thought as she watching him still looking through a shelf. [+purple "When I taught him how to project energy into an object with force, he almost blew a wall out."] Eve chuckled lightly trying to imagine a younger version of her grandpa blowing up things and failing at a magic class.
Evelynn watched curiously as Seth looked through a shelf and pulled down two books from a higher shelf, a box sitting behind where they once were. Seth turned to face Evelynn. The chestnut box in his hands was beautiful and could have been mistaken as new. Carved onto its smooth lid were lines almost looking like some text Evelynn couldn't even begin to read. A crest was carved underneath the old words, different than the one on the rug at their feet. She looked at it for a moment and thought of how familiar it looked. She shook the thought and reached to it; Evelynn opened the box to see the bracelet. The bracelet itself was a bit bulky, obviously, it was meant for a man. However, it was still beyond gorgeous. A rose gold, thick bangle sat in the blue velvet case of the box. It had a shape to it that swirled into the center framing something. In the middle were stones. Arranged to make a flower with six points; each petal a diamond and a reddish orange stone in the center. It almost had a glow to it.
[+purple "Since Kano wasn't gifted with much magic, he used this bracelet to help him channel it. He was pretty talented with light magic, so that's what he focused on. The gemstone he used is a sunstone...it was perfect for his type of magic. You've been given his gift; I want you to have it."]
She looked up to him, her eyes brimming with tears. She nodded a thank you and blinked to release the tears. [+grey "Thank you so very much!" ] she said with all the gratitude of the world and a wide smile, her eyes closed tight as if she were trying to close the flood gates. She stood there for a moment then removed the bracelet and slipped it onto her wrist. It fit, loosely, but fit. As she stared at it on her wrist the center stone began to glow slowly.
It was getting brighter and brighter until the light forced her eyes shut and filled half of the room. It engulfed her. Wrapped her almost in a hug. The light was a white and orange, with small touches of red and pink. It faded slightly and Evelynn could open her eyes once again. She could see it calmly surrounding her. Her heart skipped a beat and she looked to Seth; she wasn't afraid, but she was beyond intrigued. [+grey "What... what's happening?"] she asked curiously as she waved her hand through the light as it danced around her. [+grey "It's warm"] she said smiling as she watched the light flow like the air. She looked at the bracelet and as she did she saw something. It looked like a heartbeat the light pulsing from the stone. She reached out carefully to touch the center stone and as she did the light vanished. The wonder faded and she was standing sill in the same spot. In a castle, a room persevered by magic where outside there were ruins and one only knows what kind of beasts around. She felt a since of familiarity with the bracelet as it did, whatever that was, and she was sad it was gone. [+grey "What was that Seth?"] She asked stepping up to him, and quietly awaiting his answers. Hoping he had them.
Owl listened to her be upset with him, trying to help her up and stammering apologies under his breath while she was scolding him. It had been so long since he'd fought a psychic opponent, he hadn't even thought to check if she was in there. He'd thought she'd been harmed much worse than she really had been and had acted out to protect her. It was a lucky shot that he got, but he realized he could have hurt her and was hanging his helm in something like shame. He'd never meant to harm her, at least she seemed somewhat alright. Until she passed out for a brief moment, that it.
Owl jolted and was prepared to catch her when her body slumped, but her spider half kept her upright. Owl had a few moments to be confused before a sudden cold chill ripped up his spine. Compared to this, the presence of the leech horse had been little more than a tickle. This was akin to the feeling of being plunged into ice water unexpectedly while in full armor; cold and suffocating, too heavy to try and pull yourself up, feeling the chill rushing in through every crack and seam. It was the feeling of a dark goddess, one that was unlike the one he had worshiped in life and fought for before the darkness.
He couldn't move while she was there, focusing on breathing and not acting on an instinct to attack the source of his discomfort. "The mage has a plan? Truly? And you were not informed for a thousand years? He denies you hope." Fists clenched as she dared to speak against Seth. Owl trusted the boy, he was like a little brother to the guard, Owl would put his life in Seth's hands if he still even had one to offer. He pushed the words of this dark goddess out of his head. This was the one that Annabelle had gone to in their time of need? True, her form of darkness was more natural, a purposeful balance for the dark and the light in this world, but how was giving a power of darkness even more control to help their own world as it fell into shadow? Seth was and always would be his friend.
The spider goddess rounded him and disposed of the body, Owl trying not to move too much and risk lashing out at the goddess who still had the body of his friend.
When Annabelle was back, at first Owl didn't speak. He had just encountered a more powerful presence than he'd felt since the darkness had settled over the land. Deep breath in, deep breath out, his eyes dimming to almost be off for a moment as he collected himself. That was unnerving to say the least, but this was still Annabelle. The guard's eyes came back on and his chest rose under the armor with a deep breath. He had to focus on the present, he would talk with Annabelle at a later date.
He came to just in time to see and hear her tell him to lead the way back to the girl. [b "Uh, right. Right."] He looked around to get his bearings before turning and leading her in the opposite direction. Their fastest route was now blocked off, but he still knew his way around the castle. Even if he hadn't had the grounds memorized by heart in life, the time spent roaming after death had given him even more knowledge of the castle's hallways and rooms. [b "It will take a bit longer, but we'll make it to the room. Be on the lookout for more beasts, where there is one beast there are likely others to follow."]
The words were a bit distracted as he lead her down the hall. His damaged mind had already moved on to a different topic than the piercing eyes of the spider goddess peering into his soul. He was thinking back on the fight, once again in his defender mode, trying to pick out everything that had happened so he could better fight one of those creatures again if the need arose.
He got to the end of the fight and his mind faltered and replayed the last few moments. Specifically his death. He hadn't spent time thinking about it in what felt like decades; remembering it made his anxious and hurt his head.
[i [b "Fall back! Fall back!"] Owl shouted to the other guards next to him. He had lead a final wave of guards to try and delay the darkness from reaching a group of citizens as they tried to make their way to one of the safe rooms Seth had put up. They were up high on one of the walls with the winged creatures bearing down on them. It had looked like they stood a chance for a short time, actually gaining some ground, but then the spells had started coming at them. Dark magic had quickly ripped through their own forces, despite trying to hold them off with their own magic and attacks. They were being pushed back, some of the creatures and magic pushing them off the top of the wall, screams fading into nothing as the din of the fight drowned out all other noise.
Owl tried to call them back, praying to the Goddess that there had been enough time for the princess and others to get to the warded rooms and that Seth had come up with some way to stop this dark plague from killing their world. As he retreated with the others, he heard a shout from behind him accompanied by the sound of leathery wings beating and armor slamming against stone. Owl had looked back to see one of his closest friends on the ground wrestling with one of the beasts that had managed to swoop down upon her as she tried to get away. [b "Amari!"] he yelled in panic. He didn't even think before lunging at the beast with his sword swinging. His shield had been ripped from his grasp long ago, but he could still defend her with his sword.
The beast flapped away from his sword, toothless, crushing maw opening up to shriek and dive for him. Amari scrambled upright and ran to where the rest of the guardsmen had fallen back to defend the escaping civilians, leaving Owl with the thing.
Owl was panting for breath, every piece of his body hurting either from an attack or exhaustion. But he would not give up. He would fight these things until his dying breath.
All sound faded out of his memory at that point, leaving only sight and feeling. Claws shredding at his armor as his sword connected slightly. The hard flat expanse of the thing's jaws on his shoulder armor, caving and bending as it tried to tear it off. The knowledge that somebody was screaming behind him and jerking his head to see what it was. Watching in horror as creatures and darkly armored people came out of the doorway his comrades had gone through only minutes prior, all these beasts and people covered in fresh blood as they stormed out.
The realization struck him with such horror that he couldn't react in time when one of the people raised their hand and shot a ball of dark magic at his head. The arm that went to protect himself was too slow as the ball connected with his face behind the helmet. From there, sight too was blocked out.
He remembered the burning agony in his eyes and face, could feel his mouth open in a wail of pain as he dropped his sword to claw at his helmet. The monster behind him latched onto his head, the force of its dull mouth crushing the weaker back of his helmet in. Blood flooded his helmet and he went limp, but he was not yet dead.
The last moments of his memory were of being flung off the top of the wall and falling. He could make no more noise, could only feel everything as wind whipped around him, his entire body going cold from the shock and the pain. Owl had just enough strength to clench his fist, feeling the ring around his finger. [b I have failed you, my princess... forgive me...]
He was dead before he hit the ground..]
Owl didn't realize how quiet he had fallen, not listening to anything that Annabelle may have said as his death played over in his head, one hand reaching back to ghost fingers over the still crushed back of the helmet. He nearly stumbled over a rock, which knocked him out of his daze. [b "Huh?"] he asked dumbly, looking around. His eyelights flickered and he looked back at his companion as if just remembering that she was there. [b "I'm sorry, did you say something...?"] His tone was truly apologetic, head tipping to the side slightly.
Even though she tried hard to hide the sadness in her voice and face, Seth could still see it. It was obvious that Kano meant the world to her and she was taking his affliction rather hard. Seth felt bad for even asking now as his question brought Evelynn to the verge of tears, it wasn't something he wanted. He watched as she turned her head away, locking her eyes with something in the room to avoid releasing the tears she was trying so hard to hold in; perhaps it was best to talk about something else. Even though Kano wasn't in the conscious world anymore, he was still breathing. Still living. He could count that as a small victory.
The mage bit his lip faintly as he brought his eyes down the area rug below them, staring at the Evermore crest blankly as his mind flooded with hundreds of thoughts. He was able to shove most of them out of the way for now, planning to deal with them later, and focused on the most important thing right now: Evelynn. How could he make her a little more happy in this perpetual Hell she had stepped into? She seemed rather excited and happy by seeing what the kingdom had looked like before the darkness took hold of it, jumping around the protected room like a child in a candy store. This may be something he could work with. Amethyst eyes lifted again and looked at his guest for a moment before quietly moving over to her and stopping in front of her. A small hand reached out and placed Kimchi into her arms again, giving her a light smile before heading to the book case. He hoped Kimchi, his most treasured possession, could make her feel a little better and if it didn't, maybe this surprise would.
[+purple "Kano would come visit me sometimes, when his tasks of the day were completed,"] Seth told her softly. His eyes scanned carefully over the many thick volumes lining the shelves, looking for just the right one. [+purple "He wanted me to teach him a bit of magic to help with his combat skills. He was new....I think he felt intimidated around the more experienced soldiers, like Owl. He was a good student...studied hard. Though he wasn't very good at it."] The boy's smile grew a little bigger as he remembered those days, sitting in this very room with the male and guiding him through basic maneuvers only to watch him fail time and time again. Even though those memories brought him some happiness, the eternal sadness was still there. He wished he could live those days again. [+purple "When I taught him how to project energy into an object with force, he almost blew a wall out."]
After a few more moments of searching, Seth pulled down two books from a higher shelf, a box sitting behind where they once were. Once it was pulled down and balanced carefully in his arm, the books returned to their previous spot and Seth turned to face Evelynn. He hoped this would bring up her mood a little. He brought it to her and held it up, waiting for her to take it. The box retained its vivid color like everything else contained in the room, the finished chestnut gleaming as certain hues touched its surface. Carved onto its smooth lid were a line of two or three symbols, an ancient language lost to the world outside. A crest was carved underneath the old words, different than the Evermore crest, but beautiful and intricate nonetheless. Seth waited patiently for Evelynn to open the box and find the exquisite piece inside once she finished examining it to continue.
[+purple "Since Kano wasn't gifted with much magic, he used this bracelet to help him channel it. He was pretty talented with light magic, so that's what he focused on. The gemstone he used is a sunstone...it was perfect for his type of magic. You've been given his gift; I want you to have it."]
[tab] Annabelle realized she was just being melodramatic. Her wounds were not serious. Mostly extensive damage to her exoskeleton and agony. Some internal bleeding and organ rupture. Nothing fatal of course - her organ systems were all protected by at least a triple redundancy.
[tab] What was injured was her pride. Rushing in headlong and dying to something scarcely more intelligent than a dire cockroach was certainly not a fate befitting someone of her qualifications. She had sacrificed too many innocent people to an ancient god to get where she was, and by the Spider Mother she wasn’t going to simply keel over and die.
[tab] However,it was thanks to Mr. Hero that the leech was off her back, giving her clarity of mind. She would almost prefer to be eaten.
[tab] This, of course, was immature. The half-spider had a plan.
[tab] The leech felt pretty good about itself. After following the particularly pungent scent of some girl to this castle, it had found two morsels who seemed more than willing to be eaten. Hadn’t their mothers ever told them to maintain their mental wards?
[tab] In any case, the eight-legged one seemed to be out of commission. Reading minds was a neat skill to have. Now for a meal.
[tab] The knight interrupted the good leech’s thoughts. He appeared to be breaking out of his incoherent rage. The leech would have to deal with that.
[tab] The beast whipped around, focusing its will onto the knight. Offhandedly, it spared a passing moment of its attention back towards the spider. It wouldn’t do if she counterattacked him now.
[tab] [i Predict what these are, you overgrown river vermin.]
[tab] Baffling. Then the creature realized it was falling victim to a blinding migraine. And searing light magic. And rather unsavory memories.
[tab] In its final moments - besides pain - the leech registered a frantic thought emanating from the half-spider.
[tab] [i Wait, Owl, I’m still in he-]
[tab] Annabelle was good at infiltrating an enemy's mind. Long hours of study and practice had enabled her to skim through even the core thoughts of someone completely undetected. The ability to bypass wards and the like made her a shrewd diplomat and a shrewder spymaster.
[tab] True enough, beasts were unlike the mental structure of what she had usually dealt with, but she was able to navigate it passably. It helped that Owl had taken off the mental pressure. Perhaps she would practice later on cockroaches. Establish her own stable of cockroach cavalry. Kano would love that.
[tab] However, while Owl had succeeded in giving the Adviser an opening, her master plan of calculating the trajectory needed to slam into the leech and teleport it several thousand feet in the air fell through because the half-spider was curious. It was unusual for something like this to approach the castle. Living things, or what remained of them, tended to avoid the structure. That likely had something to do with the three figures that resided within, but that was beside the point.
[tab] What Annabelle came up with was mostly mundane. A strong scent from the teenager, that was all. No overriding directive to stop whatever zany plan Seth had come up with. How disappointing. What was interesting was Owl’s fractured memories.
[tab] The half-spider knew about Owl’s memory problems. But she could not begin to imagine the pain. Death. Amnesia. It was tormenting her and she was already in as much pain as her body could handle. She vaguely registered the knight’s footsteps as she writhed on the ground.
[tab] "Annabelle," Owl said, reaching out to place a hand against her face in concern. "We must get you to Seth, he will be able to heal you better than me. Can you walk at all? Do you need me to go get him for you?"
[tab] Her face was on fire. Honestly, a gauntlet to an injured person’s face. Were the guards taught first aid? Or were those memories erased too? Stupid light magic practitioners - “lay on hands” does not mean you physically need to do it.
[tab] “Another thing,” Annabelle began, the pain driving her into delirium, “I’m not entirely sure if your instructors went over this with you, but when you are attempting to pressure a mind into submission, ensure that the space is clear to do so.” She haltingly rose to her feet and gestured wildly. “If there is another enemy witnessing, the two of them can easily overwhelm you. If your ally is present, you are needlessly causing pain.” She was now inches from Owl’s helmet.
[tab] “I’m going to pass out now.”
[tab] Annabelle’s body collapsed. However, her spider half remained on all eight of it’s feet. Then her body shot up again, making gestures as if she had never stopped talking. The mother’s eyes were a piercing greenish yellow.
[tab][b “This vessel is injured. I will fix it myself.”] The words were undoubtedly coming from Annabelle, yet they didn't match up with her mouth.
[tab] The spider gripped its plates, shattered in some places, in other’s merely painfully bent. With prompt efficiency, her four arms gripped and bent her chitin back into place. Where the chitin had fallen, she picked shards from off the ground and crudely slotted them in. The sound of metal bending grated through the hallway. The shattered scythes sloughed out of her back, still crumbling. Then, the repaired edges of the chitin and the scythes began to bubble and smoke, fusing together and regrowing. The process looked extremely painful, yet Annabelle’s face remained stoic.
[tab][b “The mage will not look at me. You would do well not to trust him either."] The spider circled the knight, almost predatorily. [b “The mage has a plan? Truly? And you were not informed for a thousand years? He denies you hope. More.”] Annabelle’s arms gestured around more agitatedly. Clearly, the Advisor was lecturing Owl on the basics of inter-psychic warfare very, very passionately.
[tab] The voice issued from the spider again. [b “Suffering. He claims to be able to turn back the Darkness. He cannot restore your shattered memory. Your loss. Your death.”] The spider goddess glanced at the oozing corpse of the leech. Suddenly, a black swarm of spiders erupted from its body, devouring the creature. The sound of skittering legs and tearing flesh filled the air.
[tab] Her gaze fixed onto Owl once more. [b “Trust in this one. She has little will left to her. The mage may have been your friend. No longer. Time changes mortals."] The tiny spiders had virtually evaporated the hulking beast and began winking themselves out of existence. The mother blinked, the piercing green in her eyes fading rapidly, [b “She stirs.”]
[tab] “-and so, if you’re facing a truly fearsome opponent, a dual-pronged offense and defense is necessary. Hunker down in your core thoughts and personality, but from those ramparts, impart your pain and anguish.” Annabelle sniffed, nodding at Owl. “Now, if you’ve gotten all that, let’s go back towards the inner sanctum. I would enjoy not being on the receiving end of that again.”
[tab] She glanced back towards the rubble blocking the entrance, completely ignoring the horse-leech’s disappearance. “Though we may need to find another way there.” She glanced back at Owl, her eyes returning to her usual blue, “Lead the way. I want to see the quarterling again.”
Evelynn heard Seth’s words as she knelt to feel the rug. She was in awe of the room and world around her. It must have been as beautiful as her Grandfather told her. Though you could hardly tell by stepping outside. [+purple "There are only two more like this; I had planned to do more but I ran out of time. You'll be safe in here, this room is protected by magic."] Seth said and she sprouted up her eyes wide and her movements excited. [+grey “Two more, I would love to see them!”] She thought all too eagerly just as he asked a question she wasn’t sure how to answer. She feared she would cry if she even tried. [+purple "Where is Kano now?"] He asked and she knew he was trying to be gentle with it. He had asked so quietly after all. [+purple "You mentioned that he knew us. The past tense of that word makes me fear the worst."] She thought for a moment. How should she explain it to him? In a world like this with magic and other things she knew nothing about. What if her grandpa could be fine?
Evelynn always referred to her grandfather as if he had passed away, but in all honestly he was simply in a coma. One the doctors thought was safer than the attempts on his life. By Himself. She thought of those ‘last days’ he was violent towards everyone but her. She would visit and only then would he seem like himself. The nurses and doctors said it was just his mind coming and going. They told her she was just lucky, but Evelynn knew.
[i Her mind trailed off to the time she lost Kano. “Come in dear” he said to her from behind the curtain in the cool air of a hospital. “Granpa” she said shyly as she pulled the curtain over to see him. Weaker than she ever though he could be, but giving her the smile she loved more than anything else. “My little light” he said and no sooner had she started to feel the burn of water in her eyes did he outstretch his shaking arms towards her. “Evelynn” she ran to him and hugged him tight “Grandpa don’t say it. Don’t you tell me goodbye” she said her voice cracking with sobs. Even at 15 she barely understood what it meant. She just knew it hurt too much for her to bear. She spent the next two hours holding him and letting him tell her stories. Her father never took her back to see him … he simply made sure they kept him, alive and asleep. He was still that way and she didn’t know what to do… All of the doctors insisted that physically he was fine. That the pain he felt was all in his mind. All they could do, was keep him comfortable. She hadn’t seen him in nearly four years. ]
She mentally shook herself and looked Seth in the eyes, [+grey “That depends on what you consider the worst.”] her words almost sounded harsh, but she immediately tried to remedy that. [+grey “ I am sorry Seth … “] she looked down at her hands and reached around to her flute. [+grey “He is not dead. He is just asleep. He is in a coma.”] She said hoping she didn’t have to explain a coma to him as tears heated the back of her eyes. She looked around the room some more in an attempt to avoid eye contact. To hide the sadness in her face.
Owl watched everything going on, but he didn't seem to be moving. If one looked closely however, they would be able to see the faint trembling of his hands as they gripped at his sword and shield as hard as they could. Were he a being that needed to breath, the breaths would be coming out in shaky, heavy pants.
You see, Owl was pissed off.
How [b dare] this disgusting vermin foul the halls of this place with its vile presence?! How dare it rip at the ancient walls that had once housed multitudes of contented subjects, had housed him, his fellow guards, his [i Princess]?! It seemed to be all that he could focus on. He could only think of his rage, completely immobilized. But a part of his mind unaffected by this anger was confused. Why was he so upset? He should be moving to attack this thing if he was still angry, not frozen in place with fury. What was going on? He tried to move, but only became more angry. He could see Annabelle fighting the monster, could tell that she was doing something about this creature. But she seemed terrified as well, her spider legs shaking in an almost imperceptible way. There was something wrong here. He felt sick, he felt angry, he felt confused. He'd fought things here before since he'd died. There had been creatures left over from the darkness for quite some time after the fall, and he'd helped rid their home of them. It was too little too late to save the kingdom, but at least he knew he shouldn't be this upset.
Owl wracked his mind as he was frozen in overwhelming anger, the part of his mind he was in control of searching for something about this beast. He heard the crunching of the wall Annabelle was on, followed soon by the sound of chitin shattering right after Annabelle tried to tell him something. "Owl! It can read-"
It clicked into place at the same time Annabelle's body broke.
He couldn't recall the name of the beast, but a memory flashed painlessly in front of his eyes.
[i "-bigger threat to the kingdom of Evermore than Magic." The guard captain Ultis spoke to his troops from the front of the training grounds, addressing the armored men and women lined in front of him. "There are beasts that control magic, but always remember; controlling magic is a two-way connection, always. The caster has more control over the spell, but if the one who is being controlled by the spell realizes what is happening, they may be able to break free." Ultis turned to Owl, the memory warping and going into hissed static for a moment in place of what Owl assumed was Ultis calling for him by name. "Step forwards."
Owl did as he was told, the man who towered over everyone else in the guard coming forwards in a few long stride. [b "Yes, my captain?"] he said while standing at attention. Ultis looked the taller man up and down before asking "If you come across a creature capable of emotional manipulation, how do you defeat it?"]
Owl took a deep breath and focused on the anger, trying to search out the source. It took him only a moment for his training to return, and he located the icy emotional feeling that wasn't his own. The foreign presence seemed to gurgle in his head the more he focused on it. He gathered his own magic, and he pushed. The wall of the creature's hold gave just a bit, but then the horse-legged thing snapped its head towards him. It turned slowly towards the paralyzed man, mouth unfurling and jagged teeth clicking together as it stalked towards him. He pushed more, but he couldn't seem to make the thing let go. It was close now, he could feel its breath pass across him, the stench of decaying flesh and putrefied magic wafting over him. One more push, his eyes glowing a near blinding light and limbs tensing, and he let out a shout as he managed to rip the thing out of his head most of the way. The being recoiled from the bright light of his eyes for a moment, stunning for the briefest second.
Owl felt the thing try to grip him more with its magic, but he kept pushing back as he swung. The monster avoided it effortlessly still, along with his other swings. Owl used his shield and managed to block when the creature tried to smash him with its front legs, but he couldn't gain any ground.
[i "Very good. You may return." Owl stepped back into line, feeling a hint of pride at answering the question correctly. Ultis paced in from of them, eyeing the troops. "Now, with any spell that controls a person's emotions, it is necessary for the caster to have some opening in their own emotional state to use as a catalyst. A caster will never be able to force an emotion onto a person that the caster has never felt themselves. Once you have pushed back on the caster enough to regain control, you must take control of that channel and turn it around on them. Any number of things may work; forcing a memory through the opening that may throw them off guard, staying completely spontaneous so as not to give away what you are about to do as you don't know yourself, any suggestions on what may work?]
It could be risky, but he had to try it. Owl jumped back, the thing knowing what he was about to do and trying to rush him to stop it. Thankfully though, light magic was nearly instantaneous, if a bit weak. The bars of light shot up around the creature at the gesture of Owl's hand. It tried to get as far away from the burning light as it possibly could, the tainted magic in it wanting to shy away from the holy energy. It wouldn't hold long though, he was out of practice with his magic, and this spell was designed to hold someone still while an immediate blow was dealt to them. The thing bashed against them a moment, causing the brightness to flicker, its magic trying to claw back into Owl's mind. The guard suspected that since he was dead, it was harder for this thing to read his mind, judging from the fact he was even able to pull anything off before it landed a blow.
The moment Owl felt the fingers invading his mind again, he grasped them and pulled with his own mind. He forced the creature into a place he knew would harm it; his memories of the princess.
His head lit up with agonizing pain, it taking all his focus to hold the creature there and keep the cage up. As the distorted memories flashed and he grasped wildly for details he knew weren't there, the creature shrieked and began shaking its head. Owl had 'lived' with the psychological pain ever since he'd woken up, he could barely feel it most times now. But the agony was fresh to this creature, as fresh as it had been when he'd first waken up and had started convulsing upon trying to remember all that had happened. He dragged the creature deeper into his mind, the pain almost unbearable for him by this point. He tried to remember the color of her hair, her eyes, he tried to remember days spent with her, tried to remember specific events. He tried to remember her calling him by his name.
The creature and him both let out loud screams at the same time, the thing falling on the ground and flailing wildly as it tried to pull itself out of Owl's mind to no avail. Owl didn't let go, he knew he had to send one last blow before the combination of the now failing cage and his psychological counter attack gave him a shot at killing the beast.
He turned all his focus away from the cage and to throwing the beast headlong into the most painful memory that he could remember clearly; his death.
The thing let out a blood-curdling howl as it was forced into the memory of Owl's last moments. Now was his chance.
Owl let go of the thing in his mind, the creature immediately recoiling back into itself and retreating from his mind as a whole. It tried to scramble up, but it was slow going when it was in mental pain, disoriented from the light, and had horses legs. Owl took the opportunity, ignoring the stabbing, crushing pain in his head to raise his sword. The creature looked at his and shrieked with a wide open mouth, almost prepared to try and defend itself, so Owl used one more spell to keep the flow of the battle on his side.
Wings of light seemed to burst from his back, a white light filling the hallway entirely with a hushed brightness. The thing shrieked again in pain as it tried to turn away from the light. It made a mistake, and one error was all that Owl needed for this fight.
He brought down his sword, cleaving it into the side of where the things neck would be. It didn't cut all the way through, but a third of the way was more than enough for the thing to fall again, flailing on the ground as it gurgled on its own blood, legs kicking out. Its movements slowed in a few moments until it was only twitching, the flow of blood stemming to only seep out of the wide gash. The wings of light dissipated, the room turning dark once again. Owl stood there shaking, head screaming in pain. He wanted to fall down, but he had another matter to take care of.
Owl stumbled to where his companion had fallen, looking at where the monster's attack had connected. If he still had a face showing, he would have grimaced. Her exoskeleton had done a good job of protecting her, but it was still cracked, shattered in some places, soft tissue visible from where chitin had been thrown from her body. He put his hands over the wound and used a basic healing spell that would help with any pain. [b "Annabelle"] he said in worry, reaching out to place a hand against her face in concern. [b "We must get you to Seth, he will be able to heal you better than me. Can you walk at all? Do you need me to go get him for you?"] His eyes glowed in his form of worry, his own pain slowly dissipating as the fight wound down.
[i [+purple "I can't do it!"] the frustrated mage shouted, eyes shutting tightly in part anger, part self hatred while his fists clenched tightly at his sides. He was supposed to be powerful...according to the Princess the most powerful of them all...but couldn't even figure out this basic protection charm. A lot of the other things he had done seemed easy compared to this, mere child's play. He was told they were difficult, especially to many others in the castle, but after only a couple of tries he could perform them with ease. What was so difficult about this charm that he couldn't get it to work?]
[i [+fuchsia "It's alright, Seth. Nothing to get worked up over."] Amethyst eyes opened quickly as he felt a gentle brush though his hair by a caring hand. There beside him knelt the princess with a kind and reassuring smile on her beautiful face, doing her best to soothe the boy's sudden rage. Normally another mage would be aiding Seth in his lessons but a sudden need of his abilities in the neighboring kingdom called him away from that. A free schedule and the willingness to help her subjects found Her Majesty volunteering to tutor the small child; unlike many teachers her manner and voice remained calm and collected. [+fuchsia "The most powerful spells require sacrifice, sometimes you have to give a part of yourself away in order to protect someone else."] Bright eyes watched as her hand fell back to her side before rising to her feet again and keeping her usual smile. [+fuchsia "Keep that in mind and try it again. I know you can do it, you're a descendant of the Divine. It's why I chose you."]]
Seth quietly stepped in behind Evelynn, watching as the girl looked wondrously around the room. It differed greatly compared to most rooms in Evermore castle, mostly because much of it was still intact. One would even dare to say that it appeared as if time hadn't touched it, looking as it did all those years ago. The stained glass windows that lined the outer walls were still in one piece, the vibrant shards relaying Evermore's creation story. The crimson draperies that hung from the ceiling varied greatly from the tapestries and other fabrics around the rest of the castle, still holding their magnificent hues with no rips or tears. Sturdy oak bookshelves stood tall against the walls, filled with many kinds of ancient knowledge that had been long lost since the darkness. Spells of all types, history, languages...all this information housed within the protected walls. A large cherry table sat upon tiered platforms along the east wall, a matching red runner with stunning gold tassels covering part of its surface while two unlit white candles stood on either side of its ends. Between them lay a book, its cover ancient even back then, with a few spots of dark red splotched on the bottom right corner. The red stains seemed contained to the platforms and table mostly, appearing on the front legs of the cherry and while a large circular stain was apparent on the top platform. Those weren't the only peculiar things in the room, however: four oval mirrors hung high on the walls in each cardinal point, each having a couple symbols drawn on the reflective surface with the same dark red.
[+purple "Very few rooms still remain in this condition,"] Seth told her quietly, stepping into the room further as she continued to look around; her footsteps were muted by the stunning area rug containing Evermore's crest. Her curiosity didn't bother him and he didn't mind her touching things as long as she was careful. After all, she was one of them now. The small boy moved over to the table, carefully resting his staff against the nearby wall. [+purple "There are only two more like this; I had planned to do more but I ran out of time. You'll be safe in here, this room is protected by magic."]
Seth went quiet for a few moments as he allowed Evelynn to explore the room a little more, pulling Kimchi out of his hiding spot in his robe and holding him loosely in his arms. A question called out to him, causing him to break the silence once the girl finally stood still. [+purple "Where is Kano now?"] he asked her quietly. [+purple "You mentioned that he knew us. The past tense of that word makes me fear the worst."]
[tab] Annabelle felt bad. She liked being lazy - or at least, her own peculiar brand of laziness - and not having to take initiative. And here she was, swinging in on a web like some comic book super hero. Perhaps her disgruntlement was poetic; the inner turmoil from acting on her own ran against the grain her character. The whole “character development” thing.
[tab] Another reason for her feeling-bad-ness might have been Owl totally upstaging her. Granted, she was fawning like a schoolgirl to Evelyn about someone the girl had only ever known as a geezer, but still - light magic is cheating. Annabelle wanted to grandstand to Kano’s granddaughter too. The quickest way into a man’s heart is through his grandchildren or however that saying went.
[tab] Besides, if the two of those folk met the princess’ grandkid, they’d go gaga too.
[tab] Annabelle pondered her condition.
[tab] Nope. The real reason she was upset was because of the oversized leech rampaging through the castle.
[tab] Annabelle hesitated, examining the creature. The thing was eating a wall. It hadn’t noticed the two comparatively diminutive figures, but judging from the snuffling as it tasted the air, that wouldn’t last. Most unusual for the fallen Advisor, Annabelle felt nauseous just in the presence of it.
[tab] Annabelle enhanced sense of smell could pick out the musky barnyard scent from the quadruped’s legs or the caked blood odor wafting from apparently everywhere on it. There was also the sickly sweet smell of the mucus or the soft gurgling sound of the creature’s movements, all of which were certainly unpalatable. But her discomfort ran deeper than simply her enhanced senses feeding her unpleasant stimuli.
[tab] For one, her heart was hammering in her chest. She was sweating. Annabelle felt like she was on the verge of hurling up whatever remained of her cockroach dinner. Sparing a quick glance at her hands, she realized she was trembling. Panic.
[tab] And the feeling wasn’t her own.
[tab] “A horse leech,” Annabelle breathed. That probably wasn’t the scientific name for whatever the thing happened to be, but now wasn’t the time to be an entomologist.
[tab] The thing was something magical.
[tab] [i Some genius.]
[tab] However, that was all the coherent information that she could call up at this point. As she could tell firsthand, the horse leech had some form of emotional aura.
[tab] Annabelle was suddenly glad that she didn’t bring Seth in on this one. Bringing an all-powerful emotionally unstable eleven year old to fight something that could capitalize on that instability sounded like a recipe for having the neighboring six miles leveled.
[tab] “Mr. Hero, you’re going to have to trust me on this one. Stay on your feet,” Annabelle called. She didn’t quite have a plan yet, but she had the trappings of one.
[tab] The advisor shot into the air, landing heavily right above the archway. Stone, presumably, but not quite as solid as the outward appearance would imply. Hollow, more likely, with some form of support beam inside of the wall.
[tab] The horse-leech heard her land. It reared its smooth, black head towards the pair. Slowly, painfully so, the featureless blob expanded, revealing rows upon rows of dripping, yellowed spines within.
[tab] Time to take a page from the horse-leech’s book. The half-spider smashed through the wall she was perched on and thrust her arm inside. Annabelle grasped a heavy, rotting beam that appeared to barely keep the archway standing and pulled. The entire wall groaned, the ancient stone suddenly finding itself rudely collapsing. Masonry and dust rained down as sizable portion of the roof and wall caved in, completely blocking the entrance. The indoor avalanche was cacophonous.
[tab] Now she had the thing’s attention. The monster turned on her, sounding rather agitated. Still holding the old wooden beam, she tensed, preparing to batter the abomination’s legs. Probably the left.
[tab] The horse-leech shifted and then lunged towards Annabelle, forcing her back. It protected its left flank in the same motion.
[tab] [i That’s odd] she thought. Annabelle felt a pang of worry. Perhaps she should regroup with Owl. This thing was obviously smarter than it looked.
[tab] [i But] there was a nagging feeling that she should at least finish what she started. That [i definitely] fell under the purview of the king’s orders. She spotted Owl on the ground. After bashing the stupid leech-thing with her beam, she’d regroup and figure out a plan. After all, she was much more mobile than some earthbound leech/horse abomination.
[tab] She turned to face the snarling beast and expertly twirled the log. Annabelle had lead at least one parade at the king’s behest, so she knew a thing or two about pep and batons. She shot a thread at the opposite wall, swinging low and twisted mid-air to smash her improvised club into the beast’s hind legs.
[tab] Except it had already turned around. In the second she had taken to think of a plan and swing over. Then she figured it out.
[tab] But it was too late. Already mid-swing, she saw a equine leg twitch just out of reach, the leech effortlessly predicting her comparatively clumsy movements. Then, its other leg reared back.
[tab] Annabelle stared at the featureless head of the leech. She could swear she saw a grin. The spider jerked to the left in an attempt to dodge, and saw Owl.
[tab] “Owl! It can read-”
[tab] Annabelle was interrupted rudely as a hoof kicked her. She barely had enough time to raise her back appendages to somewhat defend herself. The hoof shattered the blades and continued, showering the half spider in sharp chitin. It connected.
[tab] Annabelle felt nothing. Then the wall behind her and the air being ripped from her lungs. She hoped Owl would be able to figure out what she said. She saw the leech approach her again, mouth expanding.
[tab] The adviser really didn’t want to die.
Evelynn watched for reactions from everyone, her announcement could have been taken a few ways. Not all were good. She was in luck though. Annabelle spoke up first after hearing the news, [+red “Oh yes, your grandfather knew us,”] she stated and then continued on with her thought. Evelynn noticed Owl staring at her, and Seth for that matter as well. She watched trying to listen to Annabelle go on about how her grandfather didn't get the last laugh? Something like that. Though Annabelle continued, Evelynn was lost in thoughts again. A memory warming in her brain. Though it hadn't completely come to her yet.
She listened to the best of her ability, and then Evelynn's attention turned to Owl as, suddenly he moved, though rhythmically with motions his soul seemed to have memorized. Owl drew his sword and knelt on one knee in front of Eve. He really was amazingly tall. Even knelt down Owl was still her height. He kept one hand on his hilt with the tip of the large blade on the ground. He began quietly, [b “In light and dark, amongst the laughs and the cries ... ”] he was saying something from memory of his heart, Eve could tell it, [b “You are my brother, your blood is mine, and my life shall be spilled out for those in your line ... ”] He continued with his head low and not looking at her at all. Then, he raised his head, and through the dented helmet a strong light shown and he was looking her in the eyes. [b “Welcome home, blood of my kin. Evermore has held its breath for you.”] his free hand raised to clasp a fist over the center of his chest plate, she felt chills rush through her body. It was a beautiful welcome. She didn't know which feeling was strongest at this point. Happiness, relief, needing to pee. It was all kinds of mixed up for her.
Annabelle spoke up sharply with warning of something else nearby, something not as friendly as the four currently present for this conversation. Owl stood, and as he was readying to leave with Anna he stopped and held out his hand towards Evelynn. She watched in awe as light swirled around his fingertips, weaving itself into an orb of light, soft and comforting, and now she knew, familiar. He took her hand and placed the orb there, it was warm, and so beautiful she looked like she may cry. Then, in the same moment he nodded to Seth and left off with Annabelle. Evelynn was so engrossed in what Owl was doing 'for' her that she had hardly heard Seth say something to Annabelle.
[p "Granpa." her small voice rang over the garden. "Yes dear, what is it?" he called out from the wheelchair he was barred to unwillingly, but he was used to it. "I can do it, look, look!" she ran around the corner with a small light in her hands. It had no shape, it was still uncontrolled and weak, but this poor girl wasn't even trying really. "Sing me a song and focus on that light sweet girl" Kano said with pride in his eyes and voice to the then eight year old. She looked at him and began to sing "Light up the dark, oh, the love in your heart is the brightest light you will ever know" she sang and the light grew brighter and had a light pink and blue that blended to purple in the center "so light up the dark, with all your love" she smiled to her grandfather and Kano smiled back to her, and grabbed her hands. "Our secret, right darling?" he asked the usually question. She smiled and hugged him tight and then he gave her a freshly watered flower, and she walked off. ]
[+grey "We're moving too?"] she asked mostly to herself since as soon as Owl turned away, Seth was at her side ready to lead her away from the hallway they had been in for what felt like at least an hour. She nodded in agreement, not much choice, though she was more comfortable with that now. Seth led the way down the hallway and to a room, he shot her an inspiriting smile, [+purple "Annabelle and Owl can handle it, you have nothing to worry about,"] he quietly added for Evelynn's comfort.[+purple "I'm sure this place will be more comfortable for you than standing out there."], he said as they made their way down and entered a mostly untouched room.
It felt like a different place, though the air was still the same. The windows were almost completely intact and the intricately made stained glass were full of stories, though she knew not what they were about. The colors were lovely though. Red velvet-like draperies were around her, and this dead and quiet place almost seemed alive for a second, but sure enough as Eve glanced over her shoulder the Hallway was still as quiet as before. [+grey "This is beautiful"] she said under her breath.
Seth wasn't expecting the words Evelynn spoke, explaining to them how the book had come to be in her possession and, just as important, her lineage. In all honestly, he imagined the book had been lost in the world outside and that Kano didn't make the trip. He was new to his job and hadn't gained the muscle mass that most of the other guards had nor did he have their knowledge of combat. It was surprising to see that he had survived, had a family, and finally completed his mission. The boy's violet eyes continued to watch their guest as he thought and listened to his comrade's words, taking in the structure of her face and frame. She was of small build, just as Kano was, and had the same deep but sparkling eyes. Her jawline wasn't as prominent, most likely due to gender differences, and her hair was two or three shades lighter. The closer he looked, though, he could see it. She was from Kano's lineage. She was one of them.
This meant she may have powers she was never even aware of.
His gaze shifted down to Evelynn's hands as she held out the tattered but treasured toy, offering it back to the boy. A small smile appeared on his lips at this, slowly taking it back and placing the book where Kimchi had previously been. Since she was Kano's family, she would need that book in order to keep her safe. Did she know how to use it? Seth tucked the toy dog back into his robe and out of sight, a hand moving up afterwards to push his bangs back from his eyes. If she didn't, he might be able to teach her a thing or two. They all probably could.
The air around them grew dense, a chill creeping up the boy's spine. Something was coming, he could feel the shift in the atmosphere..see it even. When he was living, Seth's uncanny ability for foresight easily gained him the position of mage, even at a very young age. As his predictions came true and his magic became immense, it was clear to Evermore that he was meant for that position. In death he retained some of those abilities, though it seemed that his premonitions had lessened some. Such was the case with this.
Mere seconds later, Annabelle announced the danger that the boy had felt, instructing Owl to accompany her while Seth stayed with Evelynn. If there was anyone who could keep her safe, it was the boy. While Owl turned his attention to the blonde girl for a moment, Seth shifted his gaze to Annabelle while quietly picking up his staff from where it rested against the wall nearby. [+purple "I'll take her further down the hall to what remains of the sanctuary,"] he told her quietly. Even if he didn't tell her their future location, he knew she could find them with ease. [+purple "Since most of it's still intact, she'll be safe there."] Very few places in Evermore's castle weren't touched by the darkness in some way, be it falling apart or destroyed completely, but a select few still remained in the condition they were in the day that the kingdom had fell. Seth had taken a few precautions once he caught wind of the horror, placing protection spells over them. He had planned to put another spell in place, protecting those souls that entered them from being harmed, however he was murdered before he could get that far. How unfortunate for them. At least now they had some semblance of the life they had before.
Once Owl had given her a light, Seth moved beside her for a moment to make sure she was ready before leading her down the end of the hall to the protected room. To reassure her, he gave her a small smile. [+purple "Annabelle and Owl can handle it, you have nothing to worry about,"] he told her quietly but in a soft tone. [+purple "I'm sure this place will be more comfortable for you than standing out there."]
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