FateGuard

Wolfsin

Norindul Lore Master
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  2. Female
  3. Primarily Prefer Male
Genres
FANTASY! I need strong plot points to strive. I need open world sand box. I need things that keep me challenged and indulge me as a writer.
"Oh well should that be the case good sir I think Ill find you a worthy reoccurring opponent. Arias had already begun to move the board upon the table and place pieces but he stopped short when the doors burst open, and just like that the entire chapter house fell to panic. he didn't move, not as Gordon rose from his seat, or Corben moved to help the traitor, Alyss would be upon them soon but the fear of this night rest behind them rather than int he eyes of a broken man. The raids of people, the call of Legionaires, and the Bishop himself that stood before Corben only a few short minutes after the orders had been issued. Arias had already begun moving, he was trying to get as high as he could manage, he had to come up with some semblance of a plan to get them all out alive, this was the task he had, even if he was not entirely settled within it; it was his job.

The cries of a great many people could be heard as Arias rose up the ladders and ropes to find a Higher vantage point but with each step he come closer he found himself with much more of a pounding head ache, a woman's voice; that same woman's voice continued to taint his mind, but this time rather than simply speaking it was a soothing hum, a song that held on highest wind for him. His body started to feel limp but it was not int he sense that he would lose strength, more so that his vision became imparted for a moment that it was almost as if he was moving now without a thought, and before long he could see from the top of the chapter house to see the advancing soldiers, and those that would have Malwin and the Fateguard upon their spikes this sad night.

Arias gazed deeply over the whole of the city, looking for the point, the vantage they needed so that they could escpae and figure things out more, but it was almost as though his vision had halved. The brilliant blue in his eyes had become glazed over and the voice rung louder within his soul as the vision of the woman entirely of the nude passed in his mind and beckoned him, He lost his body to that call as he found himself looking in one specific direction, the idea of a wall of a single wall that Arias knew continued to play in his mind and aside from the song that would not stop, all the rest had fallen silent for the young boy looking over the city.

Elsewhere~

~The children the play under the moon, The day fades away as darkness ensues. come little children innocent of heart. From this great city we must depart. the walls will crumble, the way will prove safe. Come little children Beyond I'll await~

The majority city had fallen into absolute chaos, the soldiers had directed their time towards the chapter house of the Fateguard and so the time was right, a woman with raven black hair and a beautiful gown wandered the the outer couricle and whimsically she danced upon the grass as she sung. it was a song that was selectively heard but her voice was a trance to never be broken.

To the side a small blonde boys head popped out from the front door of his house, but he didn't seem the normal aptitude of a child, there was no happiness genuinely upon his face. No the child held a deadened expression as he simply walked from his house and the essence of sound within the area fell entirely silent. It was not long that more children's heads peeked out from their doors all with that same expression and the woman sun louder. The Children moved to encircle her and before each and every house within the area began to release another child and the parents were none the wiser due to the enchantments that'd been cast. The Children gathered in hundreds as they began to skip around the raven haired temptress. and they all began to sing that same song she sand in a messy choir of children's voices.

Finally when all that could had gathered she sunk down to kiss the first boy upon the forehead, and smoke connected her lips and the child's forehead when her lips parted. She whispered something and the Children began to move towards the target vanishing one by one in single file beneath a crevice in the dirt, the products of their long toiling and days of labor shown as the smallest exotic flower not to be seen within the city could be seen. The children danced to her song but not as one might expect, and when the time was right the path would be clear, things had finally fallen into place this was the night.

Arias~

The song continued to haunt him as things escalated below him, more had come to the aid of this and now he found that he had lost a significant amount of time. The song had finally faded and Arias turned to see the stand point the rest of the Guard had made to face the Bishop head on, What would Corben do faced with all of this? What was about to happen, and furthermore; what HAD happened? Arias moved to get down from his perch finding now opportune way to escape this, it would come down to the next words from their commander, that or the steel of the Fateguard to face the steel of Death itself. It would all be decided in the next few words spoken.
 
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Hydronine

The Murrstress
LURKER MEMBER
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  1. No Preferences
Genres
Scifi, Fantasy, Modern, Magical, Horror, Noir, apocalyptic, Grimdark, yaoi, yuri, anything really.
Malwin's arrival was barely registered by Alyss. Her ears and ears caught bits and pieces until the tone of his voice struck her. The power of his frailness was enough to draw her close enough that she was able to truly glimpse him and her eyes diverted themselves, her voice caught in her throat and she was thankful that they seemed to be on the move.

Hopefully they could do something, anything...

**********

Another one.

She could see death's grip, there was nothing to be done more to help... the way the body hung- the neck..... his neck... The stillness...

She stifled the emotions inside her, and they retreated. She had no need for them right now... too much had happened- she merely needed to follow the orders she was given. Follow Corben, of all of them, his path was the brightest... His word led them through so much, it would be inane to look away from his decisions.

She had never truly gotten too many moments alone with Leonardo, but she knew his convictions, his heart was better than most, his judgement and thoughts were purer than most folk... And what was done to him in this time of frustration, was undeserved.

Alyss breathed slowly, trying to focus, but her eyes were drawn back, again and again to that swaying rope, that lifeless body... those beautiful robes... She couldn't see his face at this distance, and she was thankful for that...

Why him? Sure his brother... but... he was... and...

So many disjointed questions swirled in her head and it was stopped by the approach of the monks. Her hands twitched.

Still, she fought to keep herself as still as possible. Don't move... Don't give anyone a reason to fear... Wait for Corben... wait for Corben...

Her eyes stung. What was repressed, was trying to fight it's way through. They weren't the enemy! They were never the enemy! This was all wrong... this wasn't... their fault... they had always fought for the people... they always sought to protect everyone... It had started to become a thankless job, but she had never thought that....

Who could have even thought to... who would have ever...

She quelled the thoughts and strained to stop the water pricking at her eyes.

And then she heard The Bishop. Her grief and anger raged inside her- W-why the FateGuard... it wasn't ruined! This was all wrong, this was wrong, and why the hell wasn't anyone saying anything?! Why... was this all happening?! Everything was wrong... everything after the dragons had gone wrong, No... before that.... before that... How long had this been going on? No, it wasn't their fault, it couldn't be their fault. This wasn't their goddamned fault!

They were wrong... they were all wrong...

Corben would know what to do, Corben had to know what to do. Please, may the gods old and new grant him a swift tongue... someone stop this...

And then Tahan was beckoned to. She couldn't move... she wouldn't dare move, but anger pricked at her. The thorns of betrayal dug in, and she looked to the peasants that were watching everything so closely. Their stares stole the anger from her heart, but replaced it with a quiet despair.

"We have always fought for the people. If they so fear us, let them see that we are willing... and have always been, to drop down our weaponry, to be shuttered away, to accept their scorn without fear of violence. We have never harmed them, we would never harm them. There will always be a few that turn their eyes from the right path, but Corben has always guided us well. I trust his decision and will follow it faithfully." Alyss spoke softly, though her words were spoken fervently, like a prayer, and slowly moved to remove the bow and quiver, tossing them away from herself. Her skin shone with a small amount of frost. At least she felt human...

Her eyes glanced over the peasants and then the monks, finally Corben. She kept her hands where they could be seen... Not attempting to prove her innocence as much as trying to alleviate the fear and frustration that had so riled everyone. Clearer heads would prevail.

Please, lords help them, this wasn't their fault, they would never... they had never... no... they had... Some of their band had hurt these people, but... what more could they do to seek their placation? Their sacrificial lamb had already been slaughtered... what more did they want?

Leonardo....

Gods, she hoped that his death had been painless, though she knew better... death by hanging was in no means painless...

She kept her eyes on Corben. All this treachery was not of their doing, all of this was falling on them, but their hands were not the ones who wrought these pains upon their people... what could be done to seek their trust? Simply shuttering themselves away would not do this time, and they had... hadn't this always been her fear? The people she protected, being driven to such fear of her as to... wish to harm...

She needed to clear her head. Focus on Corben. Corben was always on the right path... Worry about everything else later, look to Corben.
 
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Delnoir

A Relic of a Bygone Era
LURKER MEMBER
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"I knew it was only a matter of time before this son of a bitch would make his move..."

Derek wasn't sure what exactly it was he was feeling. Was it fury at the death of another FateGuard? Relief that his helmet covered his rage contorted face? The desire to simply march up impale the bishop with alondite? Despair that once again Gothenheim proved they cared little for the FateGuard? All that would have to wait. For the time being Derek had one goal. He turned his back to the bishop and knelt down so he could speak to the boy he called out to. Over the roar of the crowd he doubted the ability for anyone but the FateGuard around him to hear.

"Tahan, you can't go back with him. If you do you know exactly what will happen. They'll remake those marks and stick you back inside of one of those unholy abominations that tried to murder us all yesterday. I realize you're a child of the church but does this look remotely holy? One of our own, a pious man like none I ever knew, one that you knew, lies dead before us by a crowd of people that are being egged on by your so-called bishop! Every other legionnaire sent to us before you has died almost immediately, but not you. You've survived longer than any other one I've seen and all without that armor they seem to think you need. You've worn that armor twice that I've seen and it the second time proves the idea behind it doesn't work. The God-Prince took it. It is vulnerable to the darkness and evils beyond the wall, and more importantly you've proven you do not need it to fight alongside us. The bishop on the other hand seems to think so highly of you and would make you the very thing you're trying to help us destroy once again," Derek stood and turned back to Corben.

"That is something we cannot afford with the Wounded Hand lurking in the shadows..."

Derek turned his gaze to Corben and continues to speak with his voice hushed, "Your orders, Corben?

The one thought that Derek couldn't get out of his head was that the crowd might turn if this wasn't handled well. That's why he held his tongue towards the bishop. It took all his willpower to not rise up and yell to the crowd how it was one of these fabled church legionnaires that tried to kill the FateGuard the previous day. It was a half truth that he couldn't prove but the bishop couldn't prove otherwise either. They had to cast doubt onto the so called bishop somehow. What Derek wouldn't let even his allies know was that if the crowd did turn on them that Derek would not hesitate to ignite alondite and draw upon it's strength enhancing magicks to fight them off. The same magicks that allowed him to destroy a massive stone pillar the previous day in one swing.
 

unanun

Child is born, with a heart of gold
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I'm wary of magic with lots of rules.
~​

The din rang around Tahan as he sat at the table. Although it was slightly annoying at first, the sounds of eating, Corben and Derek arguing, and various other distractions eventually faded away into a dull roar. He stared at the food on his plate. The meals he had been fed at the church were bland and boring to the point that the .. stuff didn't even register as food to him. Nevertheless, he picked up a fork and knife and neatly, indiscriminately, sliced a piece of slop from the plate and brought it to his mouth.

The flavours exploded in his mouth, savoury and foul. The fat from the boar meat tickled his gut in a deep, primal way as it slid down to his stomach, mixed with the stench of fermentation and soft, goopy pieces of insect innards. The food filled him with a kind of life he had not known before - a wild sort of vigor that made him feel reckless. So different from the calm, clean meals he had eaten with the Father: bread, milk, honey, that filled his stomach but left something unfilled. Now he knew what he had wanted all along. A small smile tugged at the edges of his lips as he kept eating, slicing, carving into the meat.

Like most things that had happened to him in the recent past, all came to pass too quickly as Malwin burst through the doors. In the ensuing commotion, Tahan did what he normally did - quietly exit while no one noticed him. This time, a breathless acolyte pressed a small book in his hands before running back in the direction of the church. The break in normalcy gave him pause, and he glanced down at small journal, crumpled and damp from the acolyte's sweat. He stared at its facade for the longest time before deciding, for the first time in his life, to trod off the beaten path. He walked down a back street, clutching the journal tightly to his chest. He still did not know of Father's death.

~​
Tahan was present at the next commotion, having followed the shouting and thunder of footsteps as many people converged on the church. He dragged his feet as he entered the clearing, the sight of Leonardo hanging from the gallows only thinly layering upon the weight of the day. In his mind spun what little of the journal he had managed to read ...​
The pages fluttered in his mind. The first page was a sketch of the day and night sky, two halves of a circle. The second was a romanticized drawing of the sun, but its serene expression was almost completely obscured by smooth lines criss-crossing its surface, the paths traced so dense as to almost completely obscure. He looked around him, seeing but not hearing; the crowd's mouths moved, froth spitting at the corner of their mouths. Corben looked at him, the Bishop beckoned, Derek thundered. Suddenly, he recognize the origins of the second drawing. The sketch was of an extremely rare event; a transit of a celestial object across the sun.​
He blinked and gasped, his senses flooding back to him, losing his footing for but a moment before he steadied himself by grasping Corben's arm. Tahan looked at him for a moment, eye-to-eye, and smiled, pulling the hood - the Fateguard's cloak - over his head. He mouthed a few words to his now former mentor, and releasing his grip, moved to join the Bishop.​
I see the blinding darkness ... at the center of all light.
 
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Asmodeus

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"Tahan..."

The boy had passed from Corben's periphery to the space between FateGuard and Church. They looked to one another - the Marshall with silent pleading, the Legionnaire with strange acceptance. "Don't..."

Beneath his hood Tahan blinked once, looked away, then joined the clergy fold. They guided him by the shoulder, with bows and smiles to welcome, then at once the ranks closed up and it was if Tahan had never parted from them.

"We need him!" Corben could not mask his desperation.

"You have done enough damage," Wallstein answered.

"Leonardo was innocent. It was Kael! The Monolith w--"

"CORBEN! CORBEN!" A third voice pierced the crowd, and it was not the baying bloodthirst of the mob. It was a different tone, pained and urgent. From the press of bodies Amadea pushed through and fell to catch her husband by the arm. She was in her night-dress and her face lined with tears. Whatever troubled her was enough to break the tension, and both FateGuard and Clergy gave her space as Corben stooped to hold her.

"Clara's gone! It took her! The evil took her!"

Corben's thoughts swirled. He came to his knees to hold his trembling wife. "What? How?"

"I heard Victoria screaming. Malwin's daughter shook off the spell. When I reached their room she was thrashing in her bed. But Clara! Her eyes were like coal. She slipped through the window before I could grab her."

"She often sneaks out..." The Marshall's words were helplessly naive. Amadea gripped his shoulders.

"NO! I saw it! Victoria was clawing her ears. A song! She cried about a song!"

Then a new voice spoke up. "It's happening again..." Corben and his wife looked up at Jenra, who had come to stand over them. The girl was pale with recognition. "Dyne spoke of the same thing, just this morning. His siblings were sleepwalking...every night..."

"Shit," Atlas hissed, "There were reports in the west wards. The very same."

Corben came quickly to his feet and left Amadea clutching his legs. "A spell?"

"Could be," Derek answered. Around him the crowd continued roaring as Leonardo's body swung. "Not a damn one of them would notice their children vanishing now..."

"I know..." A voice echoed in every ear. It was Arias. The young recruit was standing off from the crowd, staring to the east like some lone sentinel. And the Shepard's voice was crystal clear amongst the panic. "I know where they've gone."

No time was left for explanation. Corben's heart was pounding. His wife's sobs filled his ears. He pushed forward to follow Arias as he set off into the streets.

"No, Marshall." The Bishop blocked his way. "You and I must go to the King. There are matters to discuss."

"Later!" Corben snarled. One of the monks reached out, gripping Corben's arm, and at once his temper flared. A strike to the jaw grounded the man in one blow, and he barely fell before swords flew from sheathes. The monks reeled back, staffs and daggers glinting, and the move was mirrored by the FateGuard. The space between the factions opened, and some of the crowd scattered. The air was tension-stretched to breaking point.

"No." Bishop Wallstein raised both arms, cruciform-like, to keep his followers back. "Let them pass." His eyes were fixed on Corben. "Let them pass."

Corben held the stare and stooped to kiss his wife upon the head. "I'll bring her back."

And then the FateGuard were running.



* * * * *



death__s_diary_by_vihola-d37w55j.png

Night had fallen in the space of tragedy. They were running against the sun, which plunged now suicidal towards horizon. Against them came the flow of townsfolk rushing for the sacred hill, where news of Leonardo's hanging echoed, and in this fervour they were as little noticed as the children who had drifted eastward from their homes. By the time they departed the inner wards the moon had pierced distempered clouds and the air grew cold with anticipation.

Like an audience before a song.

Arias led them, his outline cut with exquisite detail by the Shepard's magic. Yet with this brilliance came unnerving tangents. At times the boy would falter, clutch his head, take sudden turns through winding alleys. It was clear that poison filled his senses - a whispering chant that maddened and seduced him. Atlas felt it too and, lagging behind, made groans in time with Arias that kept the FateGuard in a gauntlet of urgency.

"Clara.... CLARA!" Corben soon joined the song. His shouts were inevitable. As they entered the long shadows of the eastern wall his head snapped left and right. He darted from window to alley, seizing passers-by and ringing alarm bells were they hung on street corners. But it was always Arias who urged him on and with his magic kept the sanity of simple shepherding.

Near the strike of midnight they turned and skidded to a halt. The street before them was aflood. Apprentices from the smithies, squires of the court, novices of the chapter houses, urchins from the outer wards - children of all ages and inductions - filled the roadway. They moved as one without turning heads, walking deeper and deeper into the shadow of the east wall. Some adults were among them, trying to coax them back to houses with shouts and strikes. But there were as futile as rocks in a coursing river. The children parted around them and continued onwards.

"The song..." Atlas had slumped to his knees on the street corner.

"Tunnelling..." Arias spoke the word as if it were a dagger in his gut.

"CLARA!" Corben surged ahead and threw himself into the throng. Pushing children left and right, he aimed his body at the street's end and did not stop. And neither too did the children who rose, zombie-like, to continue after he had knocked them down. The FateGuard followed and cut their paths by whatever means they could.

And when the others caught up with the Marshall, it was to find him frozen in shock, the words My God! slipping from his lungs.




The tunnel had been cleared by hands and nails. Around and within it, like gore-splattered survivors, the largest of the children were mud-caked and mechanical. They carried out the larger rocks in pairs while others, like madmen, clawed at the walls to widen the space. Within was only darkness, where shapes of smaller infants writhed. The tunnel was directed straight towards the east wall, and had already surpassed it.

"GET THEM BACK!" Corben roared before plunging towards the tunnel. He seized children in full holds and swung or shoved them behind him. He knocked rocks from hands, pulled children from walls, grabbed collars and hair. Soon the rest of the FateGuard were swamped in keeping the children restrained or removed, and Corben alone crawled deeper into the tunnel.

"STOP THIS!" The most dextrous of the mesmeric horde were at the tunnel's end and working to slope it upwards. He pulled them aside by their ankles and crawled past them. The darkness was cloying and sweat made muddy grime upon his skin. His heart thumped and ached in rhythm.

Then light. Moonlight. One of the children had pierced the surface on the other side. A beam cut into the tunnel and cast in silhouette the child who had broken through. Her outline was unmistakeable.

"CLARA!"

Corben's daughter lunged up and through the hole, vanishing in a shower of dust, and the Marshall threw himself after her.

"Corben! No!" He could not tell which FateGuard shouted this warning behind him. Likely one who knew the greatest rule of Gothenheim. But a father's love had blinded him, and in moments, with cold air cutting to the bone and moonlight casting crypt-like silver on his skin, the Marshall of the FateGuard was on hands and knees outside the city.

The attack was sudden, as warned. His limbs were ensnared in vines and insects as the very ground devoured him. He pulled to his feet, and a force swept into him from the right. A banshee, howling and ravenous, stole the strength from his bones. He pushed ahead. The ground gaped and enclosed his foot in a skeletal maw. Roots and bones bit down and he twisted, losing his boot to the infernal soil. Another phantom ran claws up his back. He drew his sword in a wild swing and cleaved an ape-like creature as it pounced. Then his eyes stung. Something had stepped over him, its shadow long and ponderous, and from its mouth dripped corrosive spittle. He felt his shoulder guards melting. He ran, and drove his other boot into the rising face of a serpent, vaulting over it and crashing into trees. More roots ensnared him. He lost his sword. A dagger came from its sheath and he cut back and forth.

"Corben!" Other FateGuard had followed through the tunnel. The Marshall turned in his torment to see them. Derek stood for but a second on the other side before a hooded spectre slammed him off his feet. He was tossed like a ragdoll into darkness. Then Gordon followed and was set on fire by coal-black flames. He dropped and rolled as dire rats swarmed over him. Then Alyss, loosing off one arrow before a host of shadows snatched her into the air.

A cloven hoof came down near Corben's face. He rolled, felt an axe-head graze his spine, then drove his dagger to the ankle. A roar issued. He was plucked from his feet in a chokehold and his stinging eyes saw only crimson flesh. He smelled the breath of cancerous meat, then at once was knocked away. Another beast, half-man, half-wolf, had freed Corben from the demon. They battled and the Marshall crawled on.


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A girl's laughter... his girl's laughter... was all that pierced the madness.

His vision recovered. He saw Clara at the forest's edge, drawn ever closer to the figure of a woman, nightgowned and pearl-eyed. She was singing, silently and expressively, her words heard only by Clara. And around them the shadows weaved in sumptuous dance.

A tentacle coiled around his throat from behind. Something had him. But again there was a wolf-like snarl and with a squeal the tentacle came away. His only thought was that the monsters were fighting over him. He heard Derek roaring as the sword of Alondite cut through bark and flesh. Somewhere else Atlas was throwing spells and the arrows of Ryste were whistling through the madness. Corben could not help them. The only way to spare the massacre was to save Clara and get back inside. In moments they would all be slaughtered.

Corben ducked another screeching shade and broke into a full sprint.

The Shadow Weaver saw him coming. She had smiled at Clara as she drew her in, but now there were only sneers - a hundred variations as she kept on singing. Her ethereal hand reached over Clara's shoulder and at once Corben felt the skin on his wrist slice open. A gash cut to the hand, then down to the elbow, then turned at right angles to carve his bicep and shoulder. Like a sadistic quill it drew across his flesh and bled him with geometric precision. He stumbled, and bones spines shot from the ground to receive him. Only his gauntlet stopped his palm from being skewered. He pushed up again. The witch's wound cut across his chest. He screamed.

He jumped.

His body fell between Clara and the Shadow Weaver. The knife plunged into the centre of her incorporeal mass. And somewhere in the swirl that blade found purchase. The witch screamed silently, and only Clara fell in deafened torment. To Corben it was a rushing, violent wind that shredded all his senses. The wound on his chest rushed out to arm and face, cutting dozen-fold scars, splitting fingernails, twisting teeth and eyelids. He roared and kept the blade buried as his pain grew exponential with the Weaver's fading. And when at last her shape gave out he crashed down onto rocks and thorns, his power spent.




Darkness, voices, screams and pinprick agonies. All these followed as time lost meaning. He felt Clara lain against him, clutching his sides and shivering. It was a mercy at least... to die with her...

"...Corben..."

His eyes opened. He was aware of something, vaguely, in the corner of his vision... a wolf-like shape, picking up Derek and Alyss... carrying them back to the tunnel...

And standing over him, amidst the dissolving light of the Shadow Weaver, another phantom, thin and pale. But a face... a face that he remembered.

"Eric!"

The image of the former Marshall pressed weakly on his senses. One hand was on Clara's sobbing head, the other on Corben's shoulder. The man's face was cut like weathered stone, and his voice was grave-whisper. "...Your time is not ended..."

"I can't..." Corben's own voice was weak, forced up through shredded lungs.

Eric's ghostly hand moved. "...your time is written... as was mine... and herein lies the answer... to how I survived beyond the wall..." His pale finger came to rest on the Marshall's Badge, the sigil of office hung around Corben's neck. "...your greatest blessing... the grace of years... No Marshall shall die till he has been replaced..."

The realization came slowly. Corben looked up at his mentor, and saw him smile. Eric's outline shivered. "...Lead them..." was all else he uttered before he faded from sight. The Marshall's eyes rolled closed and he clutched his daughter against his chest as the shadows fell.

His body bled... but he knew it was not the end.
 

Asmodeus

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[dash=brown][bg="#330000"]
"That was Ferrick, wasn't it? The
wolf-like creature? He was helping
them!" Helga jumped up and down
as she made the connection.

Her grandmother chuckled and
closed her storybook. "The Outside
was a terrible place in those days.
These words can hardly describe it."

Finn sagged against the old woman's
legs, his eyelids drooping. "It wasn't
fair what happened to Leonardo."

The grandmother stroked his head.
"None of the FateGuard deserved the
ends they came to. Heroes seldom do."

Helga bit her nails. "Did they die out there?"

Again, a chuckle. "No, dear. The story is far from over."

"TELL US!"

The woman put the book aside and shook her head. "No, Helga. It's
time for bed. Your brother can hardly keep his eyes open, and your
parents won't be happy if they find I've been giving you nightmares."

"The Shad... Weaver.. wasn't... scary.." Finn's head lolled as his grandmother
picked him up from beside the chair.

"It's time to get you tucked in," the old woman said while crossing the
room. "Your parents will be home from the Vigil at dawn, and you both
need to be fast asleep."

She took one step into the bedroom before something tugged her skirt.
Turning, she saw Helga peering up at her. The girl's eyes were large and
hopeful. "If we both get in our beds, will you tell us one more story.
Just one!"

The night wind whistled softly. Behind the windows a torched procession
could be glimpsed in the distance. Candles flickered. And the old woman
smiled.

"Alright, dears. Just one more..."
[/bg][/dash]
 
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