Empire of Solaris

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Michelle the Editor, Mar 31, 2016.

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  1. It was dawn when Therion left the city. He rose in the dark, quietly prepared whatever needed to be done at the last minute, and left the garrison silently a few hours later. He preferred traveling in the dark when he could; the dark meant secrecy, and no Solaris to blaze down on him. Solaris sees everything the light touches, went the beginning of the noon hymn to the sun god. And whatever Solaris saw, it seemed his followers could find out.

    Therion had ridden out of the city by the time the morning prayers began, but for appearance's sake he dismounted and knelt facing the east. He didn't mind prayer; it offered him a little time to his own thoughts. In this case, what he planned to do on his leave. His superiors had insisted that he take at least a little bit of time off from his work. Finally he'd given in, but not to visit family or explore. Therion had finally found a real lead to someone he hoped could help him.

    That was enough. Rising, Therion took to horseback again, moving at a slow trot. He was in no hurry; the Solarians had long forgotten about this target. They'd conquered the land and held it in thrall for decades now, there was no reason to hunt down witches who may or may not even exist. Therion didn't know what he would find, but he held a quiet hope that this time, he'd finally reach someone with the power to help him rid the land of the sun-worshiping cult. After all, this witch had helped to build their towers; she'd probably like to see them topple.
  2. It was something of a miracle that the shack stood at all- there were a surprising amount of holes in the walls. The sheets of wood that served as a roof seemed to lean more on the surrounding trees than on the structure itself. To the average observer, it was just a bit of luck that the wrong breeze hadn't blown by that was holding the shack together. The truth was that there was magic here.


    It was a wonderful thing, the witch thought to herself. Hard to trace. Or detect. It was magic that had kept her hidden from the only other magic users in the country. Xalia had yet to hear of any others that had survived using it. Not that that was particularly shocking, though- she didn't exactly leave her hut much. Or get much in the way of visitors. No, it was just the three of them. Xalia herself sat on a hovering lump of hey that had been shoved into a cloth to serve as a bed. There was another blanket, and a similarly made pillow, that lay atop it. Not much else was in the hut; a chest that served as a table, two limp figures in the corner, and a pot. It sat in another corner now, currently unused, but sometimes it would spring to life.

    At the moment, Xalia had been sleeping. She woke at the first knock- but whoever this guest was had at least the manners to stay outside of her home. She woman sat up, and groped the air for her dress. In these warm summer months, she slept without it, but slipped it on for the sake of company. One of the figures in the corner, the smaller one, stirred, roused itself, and silently made its way to the door. It was stiff in walking, but seemed to have the hand of movements by the time it reached the door.

    Xalia looked at it, before it continued. The door opened towards Xalia, which offered her enough protection in the likely scenario that this was a follower of Solaris. The thing at the door resembled a young girl, no older than 8 or 9 years. It had vacant brown eyes, straight blonde hair that reached where breasts would have formed in coming years, and clear skin. Despite wearing just a simple white dress, there wasn't so much as a speck of dirt on the girl, which gave her an eerie look.

    "Junedith, would you see what our guest wants?" Xalia murmured. The mockery of a girl complied, and opened the door. While it didn't speak, it looked up at Therion, awaiting explanation. Had its eyes not been so dead, there might have been a look of expectancy, but as it were, the man was only met with unblinking eyes and lifeless pupils pointed towards him.
  3. It had taken some time, but Therion had found the shack. He wasn't exactly magical himself, but the place had the right look for what he'd heard. Damaged, but still standing, and had been for some time. No apparent reason for why it hadn't collapsed, except for perhaps magic--but not suspicious enough to attract official attention.

    He found himself gazing down at a pale young girl, oddly clean for the place she lived in, with staring eyes that made him feel a cold shiver down the back of his neck. But that meant he was in the right place.

    "I've heard rumors about someone with magical gifts around here. Someone who isn't in the pocket of the Solarians," he said. He suspected that the mistress of this corpselike girl was near enough to hear him. "I've come to see if the rumors have any truth to them."
  4. At least the visitor was straightforward. Even if it was something of a ploy to get Xalia exposed, it meant that he knew that she was magical, and if anything, it gave her a better idea of what to expect. Junedith only swiveled her head to the side and pointed her lifeless eyes at Xalia, who nodded. The girl looked back at the stranger, and stepped to the side of the open door.

    Xalia stepped around the chest in the middle of the room to be in sight of her guest. Her hair was a matted mess, and hadn't been cleaned in years; the texture hardly even resembled that of hair any more, but was more akin to the netting that one might used to catch fit, tangled over in itself, again and again.

    "And what brings someone like you looking for a witch?" Xalia asked. "Not many that go looking to stray that far from society, these days."
  5. Therion stayed where he was; advancing now might be seen as an aggressive move. If this woman was still alive after this long she had a healthy sense of suspicion. Even without the uniform he knew he wasn't exactly a comforting presence.

    "Personally, I wish I could stray from society more often; there are eyes and ears everywhere within the Solarian domain. Not like here, where I could freely say how much those bastards have made me hate sunlight." It was mild blasphemy, though spoken with a cold, curt tone. While that kind of thing might be forgivable in a sting operation, someone who talked that way about the cult would be regarded with suspicion for a long time. Hopefully the witch knew that.
  6. The stranger didn't move inside, but rather stayed at the door. Xalia walked around the table, still standing well within the dark hut, but within view of the door. She could see him, and she lifted her hand and faced it walm up. Three small flames spluttered into existence, and started to float around, to allow him to see her, as well.

    She nodded curtly at his words. They were dangerous things to say at any time, and they weren't words that Xalia would have uttered herself, even in the seclusion of her own home. She didn't say much here, though. It was only herself and the dolls, and no reason to speak to them. "Backbone. I admire it. Come in." It was no longer an offer as much as an instruction, now. The witch turned towards the chest. It opened of its own accord, and out came a kettle, two old, rusted cups, and a small pouch. The chest closed and the items sat themselves down atop it, and one of the flames flew to the pot in the corner, and under it, lighting a fire.

    ((Man, I'm REALLY sorry for how long this has taken me. School has been pretty draining, and really, time just got away from me. I'm super sorry, man!))
  7. Therion entered, ducking slightly to get through the doorway. The witch was younger than he'd thought she would be; then again, the Solarians tended to paint their enemies as negatively as possible, that included portraying enemy witches as withered, bitter old crones. The two silent figures rubbed him the wrong way, though; they looked human, but definitely weren't.

    "Thank you. My name is Therion."

    ((Don't worry about it, I know what it's like to get overwhelmed by other stuff.))
  8. As Therion walked in, Xalia cupped her hands together, and looked into them. A larger flame curled up, and floated up along the wall. Three more followed, each taking a different spot around the perimeter of the hut, finally allowing real light into the dark hovel. It was dinged and dirty, and small. The lump in the corner was revealed to be something that looked like a young woman, too limp to be alive, too fresh to be dead.

    Two stools pulled away from a dark corner and to the table. Xalia sat in one, and stared with hard eyes at Therion. "Xalia." The pot in the corner sat, the water within not yet boiling, but Xalia reached and took a pinch of leaves from the pouch and dropped it in the kettle. Her arm was stiff and awkward in its movement; the magic wasn't simply a show of her power, expending effort on casual things, but also a natural aspect of how she functioned. It was more natural to her than her own limbs, at this point. "Junedith, rest." She hadn't moved her eyes from Therion's face. "You still haven't told me why you are looking for a witch." The doll moved again now, her walking too precise, over to the corner where the other doll lay, and collapsed next to he other one, practically in its lap.
  9. Therion sat on the other stool; it creaked under his weight. He watched the casual, apparently automatic magic use in silence, but privately he felt hopeful. She wasn't so afraid she'd stifled her abilities.

    "From what I have heard, you actually managed to escape from building the towers. I want to take them back down."
  10. The witch only narrowed her eyes. Who could have known about that? Xalia hadn't exactly been one to keep friends, after all. Sure, there were the years after her escape where she was more vocal, more active... But all of the people from that life had surely died, as had the slaves that she'd once known. Surely.

    "I don't know where you've received such information, but I would like to know who would tell my life story." She was quiet, for a moment. The water was simmering, but not yet at a boil. "How would you take them?"
  11. "I had to piece it together from rumors. Mostly drunk soldiers trying to scare raw recruits, or slaves sharing legends," Therion said. "I followed through on some of the stories and found a gap in the records from towers around this area. As if someone had been removed. The Solarians have never been shy about punishing troublemakers publicly, so this couldn't have been an ordinary rebel. They like to brag about how no one has ever escaped them, so the only way to maintain that record would be to pretend that escapee was never there in the first place."

    He leaned forward, hands folded and resting on the table. "That will take time to explain, and I will need to know the full extent of your abilities."
  12. Well, that knowledge was something of a comfort. Xalia nodded again, once, curtly. "It wouldn't have been hard to write me off as a death, crushed under a rock. They were new, they were sloppy." Finally, the water was boiling. The kettle floated over and dipped itself in, coming out with water before coming to rest of the table. It was only a short matter now until they had their tea.

    "I have plenty of time. As for my abilities..." The witch hadn't had to quantify that in a long time. She lifted her shoulders, shut her eyes, tilted her head, and dropped the shoulders again. "I have practiced magic since before that cursed religion was widely accepted. I have learned my whole life. There is likely little that I cannot do," she explained, opening her eyes and straightening her head again.
  13. "It does seem like a strange decision," Therion agreed. "I don't know if any other factors might have convinced them to pretend you never existed."

    He watched the tea arrive, and even gave a trace of a smile at Xalia's words. "I was hoping to hear that. I have a few friends here and there, who'd be willing to help--the Solarians haven't exactly made themselves popular around here, but it will take something big to rouse people into action."
  14. "They were young then." The witch's voice was not bitter, but cold. It may have been a fact that she accepted, but she certainly didn't like it, even if a youthful religion's folly had resulted in her current freedom.

    She stayed silent after that, but nodded. One of the most appealing things to Xalia about the area was that there was no more than an obligatory love for the Solarians. It made things easier on her. But it sounded like this Therion had a plan to change the situation, and she started at him intently, waiting to hear more.
  15. Therion heard the iciness in the witch's voice. She'd clearly experienced much at the hands of the cult. Therion could sympathize; although his own life had been relatively easy, he'd seen what the Solarians did with their prisoners. Occasionally he'd even had to help. Telling himself it was necessary for the time being didn't ease his conscience much.

    But back to the point. "In sixty-two days, a solar eclipse will take place, when the Solarians claim the sun is going to war with the darkness. As always they'll be burning fires all over the land to 'feed' the sun to ensure its return. On that day we will destroy the temple of Dar Vallan." Dar Vallan was the former capital of the nation, and still one of its largest cities. "At that signal all of our supporters will extinguish their fires and attack under shadow of darkness. We can strike a powerful blow to the Solarians on that day."
  16. It was difficult to hold back a snort, so the witch didn't. It was a plan, certainly, but the holes were easy for anyone to see. "Sixty two days doesn't leave us much time. The holiday will put everyone in a frenzy; supporters, and even neutral minded people, are more likely to be violent." Talking this much was unusual. Her mouth hurt, and Xalia took a sip of tea.

    "How do you propose to destroy the temple? Surely there will be a bonfire there, as well. And what supporters?" The witch paused, now, and looked at one of the fires floating about the room. "Violence will show that they are weaker, but not that they are wrong. How would you persuade the people but with fear like that?"
  17. "We aren't just going to attack and try to frighten everyone into following us," Therion said, trying to conceal his exasperation. Did he have to lay out everything to this stranger before he could convince her? He'd thought that of all people, she'd be just as eager as he was to see the Solarians fall. "Violence is sadly inevitable in any revolution, but all of our people live and work within the city, they won't go out of their way to destroy or harm it. As I'm sure you're aware, the Solarians are going to offer sacrifices in those bonfires, particularly people they have arrested for heresy or refusal to convert. In the confusion it will not be difficult to rescue them. We will break the stranglehold the Solarians have on the people."
  18. With a slow nod, the witch sipped her tea again. So this man in front of her wasn't just some strong arm, trying to muscle his way to the top: he had some brain to go along with his evident brawn, as well. Good. He was something of an ideal partner, it would seem. Her jaw hurt from all of this talking, but there was a feeling, clawing its way up her chest. The witch had some trouble recognizing this excitement for what it was, but restrained her show of it. "Do you have a following already, or shall we be crusading them to join our cause, as well?" She paused to sip her tea. People alone would be hard pressed to destroy a temple so quickly, without weapons, and surely they didn't have time to build anything.

    There was, of course, magic... Xalia was no teacher, but finesse was hardly called for when one was out to destroy a temple.
  19. Therion relaxed slightly. She was still asking questions, but now she seemed less skeptical. "Yes, I have connections within the city, but they are...rather skeptical about my current plans. I didn't mention you to them in the even that this didn't work out."

    Now there was the matter of just what this witch knew about the temple that could help them. He guessed she wouldn't have any exact memories, but hoped he could provide her with enough reminders to figure out a good weak point.
  20. Again the witch nodded. She was unsatisfied with what she had to work with- but magic hummed in her veins. No, wait, that was blood; that was her body, wanting to move, and her heart aching to do something. Had she not wanted this very opportunity, just a decade ago? What held her back now?

    Certainty? Nothing would be achieved if she waited for it. In a decisive motion, the witch downed the last of her tea, and looked at her guest. "I'll help you. What do you need me to do?"
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