WRITING Pieces of Tiana Koul

Discussion in 'SHOWCASING' started by SlamifiedBuddafied, May 21, 2014.

  1. Edit (10/31/14) Changed from showcase to seeking feedback, in hopes to better my writing style. My vocabulary can lack at times when attempting to describe certain images or scenes. (possibly personal bias) I am looking to regather what I've put here and attempt to apply to a future project. Thanks!

    Tiana Koul is a character I dreamed up over a decade ago. She has been the greatest achievement I've ever had in what roleplays I've hosted and had the fortune to be apart of. Though much, if not the entire roleplay is no longer with us and but fragments remain littered around the net from my previous affiliations. Some of which were failed attempts, others I simply didn't have time for between schooling and work. Now-a-days I've some free time on my hands and over the past seven plus years since I've done any real RP work, I've daydreamed many scenes from the epic tale I and two others had created over the course of nearly three years total.
    Here I just wish to share some of the excerpts from the story.
    Otherwise, I am searching around the net to sites I've not been to in some time and am working on editing some work, considering my grammar skills have improved and style of typing has changed since that time.
    I hope, for anyone who may read, enjoys and I will make it around to others works and read or view what others are doing as well.
    Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy these various excerpts I've dug up or recently created.

    This first one was a scene I for some reason remember quite clearly, after a battle with a demon spawned from a deal her father had made long ago with death, Tiana awakes from death after a good friend had found her lifeless body next to the husk of a fading decapitated demon corpse. This friend, an Elf named Garvin, had been turned into a vampire at a whim by Tiana near twenty years beforehand. Though she saw it as saving his life at the time, the two realized further down the road the effects and repercussions of not only becoming a half breed vampire, but the fact he was an Elf who were already discriminated against, making him essentially a double-pariah.

    Death will wait again for you (open)
    The forest stunk of midnight air. Tiana heaved through her heavy lungs and gazed through the dirt, with her dense brown eyes. "What" she attempted to mouth but air was stolen and replaced by the earth above her swollen face. With a muffled cry she willed her arms to move yet again, finding her grave was to shallow, to close from the edge of death. Her arms frantically tore from the soil, the rest of her dirt strewn body followed; her wings fluttered chaotically as mud was batted from the damp feathers.
    Her lungs filled with air again, feeling the tissue stretch in relief deep within her chest, nostrils stinging and tears welling up in the puffy corners of her eyes.
    "I'm alive!" She panted, falling to her side, feeling the thorns of the rose vines prickling at her wing and skin. "I'm alive?" She thought, as her eyes turned to the darkened night sky, little dots welting it in seemingly random places. An image of Garvin flashed through her mind, wondering if it was he who buried her body or some passerby who was kind enough to throw some dirt on a helpless soul who died from a...
    She gasped and sprung to her feet, her nerves crying out in pain, "WHERE!? WHERE IS..."
    There was no one. The signs of the battle seemed to have waned, as if days had passed since... Tiana fell to her knees and clasped the center of her chest, feeling a great and deep scar pass between her breasts. The battle in her mind fogged from her deathly sleep, but she remembered the pain of being ran through with that terrible steel, as she did the same with her blades. She sensed them nearby, as if they were waiting for her, her steel sisters...


    This next was near the very end of the three RP's, or should I say trilogy? Hmmm... well, this was after a grave confrontation with a sadistic warlord who dubbed himself "King Errant", who believed that by harnessing magical energies in the Eastern firearms he could rule the known world. The two had there paths cross for the first and last time, after King Errant crushed Tiana's sister into dust with a dark spell and burnt half his ships crew alive with a near fatal blast of powerful magic, beyond any mortals control. In the end, Tiana may have struck the final blow in removing the King's head, but his own need for power had drained his life away much to quickly, leaving him the vulnerable coward he revealed himself to be.

    The Fall of Warship Nadal (open)
    Streams from the entire spectrum of color streamed about over head, through the ground and some narrowly missing her already damaged wings. The tips charred from the fire spell which had destroyed half the airships aft section. Now she burned in the sky, plumes of smoke delving deep within the sky above. Around her, volleys of enchanted warheads burst from the mounted cannons of small frigates, one could be seen smashing into the riverbed but a hundred yards from where the dazed Tiana stood.
    Her ears still rung and bones still quivered from the sheer trauma induced on her body and mind in the past few hours. Yet, despite the raging battle of spell, sword and sweat which constantly erupted around her, her eyes only saw it. The field of her birth, childhood and his death. Daddy. The word rang through her mind in a child's voice from so long ago. Oh that magical place, enchanted to blossom with the finest roses from the most tedious of vines.
    TIana!
    Her ears quivered.
    Tiana!
    The sound and sight of the battlefield crashed back into her senses, gripping her steel sisters; Redemption and Reconciliation, those two fine blades had become tarnished over these past seventy years. They'd seen a young woman a pariah and alone in the world become a hero, a mother, a lover and now... a martyr. She sensed the air around her tingling, as did those who sensed a powerful magic ready to be cast. She made her way forward toward the delta in long strides, her swords naturally found those who deserved the old steel and were cut down in single swift blows. It was as if she watched a dream, a surreal place that couldn't be, actions she could not stop despite the inevitability of what was to happen.
    Tiana!
    She could hear Garvin, he was still here at the river delta. Though hundreds of yards remained she saw him, Qardo and Njanju huddled together. Njanju unconscious and the other two bloodied from prolonged fighting, time was short. It was but mere moments before she arrived and without word knelt down, wrapping her wide wings around the four of them, embracing Qardo to her chest and Garvin to her shoulder, Njanju held tightly between the three.
    Then the sound came to a halt. Only the hum of something tremendous was left to resonate through the air. It was deep inside the airship, the impact cannon systems had finally failed and the core was finished. Blue flame erupted from the cabins and ripped apart the remaining aft section, raining down chunks of steel, fuel and other debris onto the battlefield. A flash then consumed everything in sight, many blinded by is awesome presence as the blue fire ceased and a shock wave tore across the battlefield, everything it passed became still as time just seemed to cease to exist. The blast hit Tiana's back and devoured her wings and the only sound which echoed was the scream of a woman desperately trying to save what little she had left in this world.
     
    #1 SlamifiedBuddafied, May 21, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2014
  2. This scene was from early on in Tiana's journey, only hours after meeting the pariah Elf, Garvin and but a few days after befriending a mercenary, Qardo; skilled in the arts of fire magics and bar-tending. After receiving a job offer from an unknown source, to investigate the deaths of numerous high ranked mercenaries who were last seen alive in the technological marvel of Midgar. It was after arriving and meeting with Qardo's informant, who had changed loyalties toward the Midgaran Chancellor, used a rare drug known as "Sleepers Star", a dust which can put just about any living creature into a short but deep sleep. It was after Tiana awoke, she found her and her friends being taken to a remote area of the city under the beneath the Great Hall at the city center only to find the men who had taken them captive planned to execute Tiana and imprison the other two.

    Execute the Demon (open)
    It was a firing squad.
    The thought had never crossed Tiana's mind that this could be the end. She was forced to her knees, her fore-arms clasped together in a steel brace behind her back and her eyes vision hidden by a dark blindfold. She could hear them dragging Garvin and Qardo away, the little Elf shrieked as the audible sound of fist hitting flesh came to her ear in the otherwise stillness of the dystopian hall which was made of all that which made Midgar the terrible place it had become. Qardo didn't seem to put up a fight, either biding his time or knowing the futility of his situation.
    The air around her grew tense as she waited for the firing squads order. Beads of sweat rolled down her pale skin, black matted hair clung to her neck and forehead and her body quivered in both fear and the want to escape. Her arms wrapped around her wings and locked in place, she began attempting to move the wings with all her effort, feeling her shoulders scream in pain as she forced both her arms back, stretching the muscle and skin to near breaking point. She let out a frightening scream as he wings broke free from under her arms and spread out wide.
    "Fire!" The one who led these med shouted in reaction to her wings breaking free. Without hesitation she wrapped the pair of dirty white wings around her and felt them sting in agony as a barrage of bullets peppered the flesh and muscle beneath the feathered layers. A few bullets impacted her chest but she barely noticed them. The blindfold rubbed lose from her face and fell below her eyes, revealing two furious orbs filled with anger and pain.
    She flapped her wings back and leapt forward toward the firing squad in an instant and clamped her jaw down around the throat of one of the men. She stared into the eyes of the man to the left, seeing him piss his trousers and make an attempt to flee. She gave her wings a flap and flung herself toward him, wrapping her legs around his neck and in the same motion, tearing the bone apart within the fragile skin. The others had begun to run while there commanding officer show not a sign of fear. She settled her feet to the ground and strained to free her arms, but the large shackle around her forearms was to much to break.
    "You will not leave this place!" The commandant shouted, drawing his sword and taking his stance. He was brave, Tiana credited him that, but she suspected he'd never fought a vampire before.
    She leaped forward, aiming to grab hold of his neck with her teeth only to meet the end of his sword which slit across her chest, leaving a deep gash in her upper breasts. With no hesitation she turned back toward him in an attempt to collide her heel with his head, only to meet a firm wrist. He winced in pain, realizing the scuffle he was in was going to be over quickly, with the death of either one. He retaliated with a spell of fire from his free hand, narrowly singing a bit of hair on the right side of her head, the intense heat nearly enough to dry away the sweat.
    She then saw a burst of flame pound the side of his head, caving his skull in as fire spit from his eyes and nostrils. With surprise she turned to see Qardo with an outstretched hand and Garvin slung over his shoulders.
    "Tiana, are you..." He panted, as if he'd just finished his own encounter, "...are you going to survive?"
    She looked down to see her blouse was soaked in blood and realized how weak she'd become from the bullets and sword blow she'd taken. "Qardo, I'm sorry, but I have to do this." She said this as she dropped to her knees and clasped her jaw around the neck of one of the men she'd just killed, drawing what life force was left in the body. Qardo flinched and averted his eyes, still uncomfortable with Tiana's affliction, the fact that he even was travelling or even helping a vampire was not something he'd have imagined many years ago. Tiana finished her deed and stood back to her feet. "I could use some help with this shackle over my arms." She turned to Qardo, revealing the steel shackle.
    He fiddled with the lock for a moment before a loud click and the shackle fell to the floor. "Tiana, I'm sorry, I didn't know that...."
    She turned to him and pressed her finger against his lips, "There was nothing we could do, your informant changed his loyalties and drugged us. You, Garvin 'nor I could've known." She peered down the hall in response to the sound of frantic footsteps heading there way, followed by a mechanical whirring above. "But I believe this isn't over and we need to get out of..." Her last word cut off by an explosion but half a dozen yards from the trio, knocking the two conscious ones off their feet for but a moment
    Qardo pointed above to see a strange vehicle with a series of cannons mounted on its hull, descending from an elevator above them.
    "Qardo!" Tiana jumped to her feet and pulled him up with her, "RUN!"
     
    #2 SlamifiedBuddafied, May 22, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2014
  3. After digging through an old notebook of mine, I'd found a very particular scene that to this day, rips a part of me apart. How it is that Tiana had ever reached such an extreme came as no surprise, but when I'd finished writing this piece for the first time... I felt like I'd committed abuse of my own child, one whom I'd written out of my own soul; her lies reflected mine, as did her own experience. This, was not the original opening for the roleplay Tiana was involved in; as no 'backstory' had ever been given until much later. But as her story formed, it took shape and I knew that in some way... I'd created both a monster and a victim of the modern age.

    For any faint of heart, weak stomach or constitution; the following scene does contain sexual abuse and harrowing, if not taboo subjects.


    Life must end (open)
    Spring had come with its sun, its timid humid air and endless blossoms of rose which crawled across the valley of her home. But this day did not reflect any day of its history. Smoke rose from town of but a few hundred, nestled at the throat of the valley; bodies littered the dirt roads, bloodied mud had begun to stain the once plain dirt roads of the calm town. It did not have a true name, but was only known as home to those who once would dwell its streets, living peaceful lives away from the ever expanding world so far away. Now, the same people would rest in death upon its streets and in their homes. Even the cries of children had been silenced by sharp steel and burned away. Only the sounds of rape and clinking armor emanated from the once wholesome doorways, now riddled with blood, scorch marks and splintered wood.

    It was just outside this small village, a solitary cabin had been built but a few hundred yards away from the town, nearly centered in the beautiful valley. Outside, a loose cobblestone path led to the broken door, blood had been spilled here to. A grown man lie waiting for death as he stared into the sun, blood had once poured from his chest but was nothing more than a faint trickle now, as was the threads of his life. One arm trapped beneath his own body and the other broken and flung to the side, his legs spread out and beaten, it was but moments of torture in a fruitful life. His thoughts were no longer with the world, for he'd begun to pass away, no longer caring for the troubles of the world, despite them being so close. Then death took him swiftly, as a babe in full arms, to the next world.

    But it was only a few yards from his broken body the home he'd built many years ago, the home in which he'd married, had a daughter and lost his wife; it had been desecrated. Brigands had come and attacked the defenseless town, seeking the smell of blood, loot and young women to take their sinister urges upon. Behind the broken door the sounds of skin smacking away and faint whimpers barely escaped, but what cries for help would only fall upon deaf ears. Again and again the daughter of the dead man felt terrible men force their way inside, one after another until she could do nothing as her body had expended every last ounce of will to fight. They finally left her, bruised, gagged and raped; she cursed their faces for she did not know their names, but even her curse fell short of the busted bed she'd been bound too. Though she did not need to leave the seclusion of that room to know there was nothing left for her to return to. The people she knew were gone, she'd seen her father stabbed repeatedly and she'd been given a sour taste of the evil of men.

    Hours had gone by before she managed to free herself. She rushed outside, finally escaping the musk that had filled her home, only to be met with a corpse and embers of a village. She wailed into the twilight as night approached, uncontrollable fits took her as she shook back and forth, clutching her fathers body and praying all the while that it was a terrible dream, a nightmare she'd lost all control of. But the truth stood at the forefront of her mind, denying her the absurdity of madness, only so she could be trapped in reality with what had been done.

    It was the next morning her home was now aflame, her father wrapped in old blankets and placed in the middle of the home. Fire consumed it, as a funeral for her father.
    May it go into dust so it may serve you in death. She mouthed, pulling a pack over her shoulders, filled with what food that hadn't been ransacked and what little clothes she had to her name. One day, I will find them. I will...

    Seven years later....

    ...but I know not now what I will do, now that I have seen their faces again. Fate has stayed my hand, but has only left a heavy stone called agony in my heat.
     
    #3 SlamifiedBuddafied, Jul 6, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2014
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  4. I've spent the last couple hours piecing together my memory and what little written words I have left. This isn't a particularly notable scene involving Tiana, but rather a counterpart of hers who she traveled with for quite some time. An Elf named Garvin, an outcast of sorts who had been waiting at the territorial borders of Midgar; for he had been told that he would meet a piece of his destiny and a timely death. Though he did not believe what soothsayers or those with "foresight" spoke, he had been intrigued enough to seek who or what it was that would approach him beyond the great behemoth Midgar.


    Garvin the Half Elf (open)
    Small framed, small enough to blend in where he needed to; it helped to be as lean as he was, always running from something, seeking adventure or finding trouble before it found him. The long faced and tall Garvin sat upon a ruined stone wall which served as the marker of Midgaran Territory. Beyond it were nothing but flat fields of wheat, grass and the occasional farm for many miles; until you came to Dunfall's Hilltop and gazed upon the magnificent city of Midgar. It was truly a sight and Garvin had seen it many times, but had yet to be within its walls where he was sure many treasures awaited him.

    His clothes were lightly tattered, but respectable as an adventurer. Most of it covered in padding and leather, followed by a layer of small tools in many pockets, arrows upon his back and a pair of hidden daggers, neatly tucked above his thighs to the sides of his buttocks. Green eyes prodded the landscape, waiting for this figure he'd heard about, the one that would bring him destiny and death; as he waited, swinging his legs and twiddling with a piece of flint, Garvin wondered if it were man or woman. Would they even be a human? Maybe an Elf? He chuckled for he'd not seen an Elf for quite some time, many of them stayed within the forests and deep within their burrows. Staying where nature had yet to be touched by man, Orc or even the new "machines" that tilled the earth in great quantity just outside the walls of Midgar. Maybe a demon? He'd no idea how close his thoughts were until a figure appeared deep over the horizon, gliding but a a dozen yards in the air. Wings upon seemed to be a bipedal body, was it a woman? Despite his incredible sight, the setting sun made it hard to read the distant figure until it drew closer and began to slow, as if spotting him upon the stone wall.

    He waved his hands in the air, hoping the figure would see; without a doubt the figure turned toward him and glided softly to the ground. It was a woman, quite a bit shorter than he, barely standing over five feet tall. Yet a pair of remarkable angelic white-brown wings contrasted against fine brown hair, textured between that of dirt and grace. She wore a red cloak padded beneath some strips of leather and white wrappings. What caught his eye however, were the pair of glistening hilts of the swords sheathed upon her sides. Even in the red glow of the setting sun, they gleamed with utmost radiance. He then set his eyes upon hers, a feeling of uncertainty gripped him.

    "I am following the road to Midgar?" She asked as Garvin stared intently. "Are... are you an Elf?" She stuttered, "I'd never seen one so far from the Alvion forests, 'nor have I seen one who did not bear the mark of his Queen." Her eyes pryed at him, hoping to harvest some kind of information to no avail.

    "Names Garvin!" He snapped out of his little trance, "I don' really, well, fit in with the bunch at home. But... yes! Yes! This is the road to the Midgaran Territories, you'll find the city but another ten or so kilometers down tha' way 'til you get to Dunfall." He turned, obviously pointing down the road toward the darkening sky. "What's 'yer name missy?"

    Missy? She thought to herself, "I am Tiana Koul of the Redlands, I've come here to find..." She paused, knowing her task was to remain secret, but she knew nothing of the land she was entering and saw no harm in asking her new acquaintance about her destination, "...to find a person. I hoped you may tell me of Midgar."

    "Sorry missy, but I know nothin' about the city itself, just the lands surroundin' 'et. But if you'd be so kind, could I accompany one so lovely as 'yerself into the city? I've got a good feelin' about followin' 'yeh." He pushed the soothsayers words to the back of his mind, feeling a bit of wonder and adventure take upon him yet again.

    "Sure, I could use some company. It's been a long flight and my legs will better suit the last trek of this journey." She uncomfortably smiled, not used to having decent company, more so not used to meeting a friendly Elf. "Well, if you don't mind Garvin, I must be going." Speaking as she began walking past the stone walls as Garvin flung himself off, landing as a cat, silently allowing his feet to embrace the ground.

    It'd been over an hour by then and the light from the sun had begun to fade, ushering in a warm summer night and star welted skies. They'd begun conversing like two old friends, learning much about the other, finding the same old fears, loves and adventures. Tiana learned Garvin had been a pariah for some time, dabbling in any magic he could understand well enough to conjure, in some cases he'd gone far enough to nearly be cast out from his brethren; but in time he'd left of his own will. She learned he was a half Elf, his human father had been killed during his mothers pregnancy, but this didn't seem to have much of an effect on his Elvish lifespan and abilities, but some physical facial attributes more similar to man than Elf. Garvin learned of Tiana, though she was hesitant to give him too much detail; he learned she had demon blood forced into her veins, her vampiric nature and her affiliation with the current king of Alvion, Lord Alvion XI, who was but a young man who'd gained the throne after his fathers untimely sickness.

    Little did Garvin know that the entirety of his life, having already lived for over six-hundred human years, he would become not only closer to death, but closer to his calling and fate than he could have ever known.
     
  5. This is a piece that doesn't entirely involve Tiana, but rather a character who briefly took place in the initial role play. His name Tierran, a gunslinger from the Kurast Eastland who at one point began following Tiana after witnessing not only her skill in battle, but after seeing a God for the first time upon the side of a mountain where he met her. It was one of the God elemental's which governed over darkness...

    The Dragon and the Titan (open)
    The mountain shook with ferocity as the behemoth dragon slammed into it, swung into the trees by the Dark God otherwise known as Mephistopheles. Its form stood for a thousand feet, equal in size to the gold dragon which had haunted the skies over the Eastland ever since its slumber had been disturbed with the discovery of the bomb. The great war which had consumed much of Kurast for the past forty years had grown so great, it began to shake the earth with the weapons used to continue the self destruction of the continent and its countries. Soon the greater creatures which had been forgotten began to stir from deep within the abysmal realms beneath the surface. But here, at the base of this great mountain a dumbfounded Tierran watched in awe, paralyzed in fear and nearly frozen to death.

    The sky was absent of its great moon and void of the speckles of stars, covered by dark clouds and threatening snow storms. The wind blew fierce to match the colossal beings in their struggle, seared by the white flames spewing forth from the dragons angered mouth as its neck had been taken hold of. The flames shot in the sky and gave light for miles as it split the clouds and screamed across the sky. Tierran buckled to his knees in horror as the dragons scream shook the snow and air around him. Though he gave no thought to the danger he was in for a moment, for his eyes played no tricks on his damaged mind as the great beings fought with all their might.

    It as above a faint glimmer caught his eye, the glimmer of... steel? Deep in the dark sky a tattered looking woman flew in circles above the titans, occasionally diving down in attempts to strike the dragons head. Though Tierran could not see it, she dove yet again toward the dragon and plunged one of her swords into its snout and it let out a roar, its massive black eyes fixed on the insect upon its snout. She slid down, slicing the flesh toward its eyes and plunged both swords into its right eye. The shriek was incomprehensible, the woman passed out and plummeted from the beast toward the mountains base like a bag of lead. Tierran felt his head pulse and his vision blurred, but he did not break his sight from the scene.

    The dragon struggled in immense pain, its body shaking and limbs scratching for anything to stop its pain as the Dark titan gripped the dragons neck by both its hands and wrung its massive neck, tearing the flesh and snapping its massive bones. Its body now quivered violently as the life jetted from it, leaving nothing but a massive corpse. The beaten Titan dropped off the side of the mountain, exhausted from the now finished battle. Both bodies shook the earth as they came crashing down. The snow covered land was now stained in immense amounts of blood blood, charred land and new valleys and bends; the earth deformed after the battle raged on for miles.

    Up on the mountain the woman had regained consciousness and had made her way to the dragons head. She used the last of her strength to free he swords from the dragons eye and fell to the freshly thrashed soil below. Tierran shook from shock as he scrambled to his feet and ran toward where he spotted the woman. The trek up the bit of mountain felt like hours of hiking, but Tierran felt compelled to see the flying figure which he'd spied land at the dead dragons head. He crawled over the massive neck and slid down, finding himself but a few meters from the person he'd seen. It was a woman, her clothing tattered and patched with small animal hides, her hair black and graying, appearing no older than forty as he reckoned. She herself appeared beaten and bruised from the battle, but she still breathed.

    He knew not what else to do. He'd lost his campsite and his goods and only had himself. So he sat near the woman, but just out of her reach if she were to wake with a start. He managed a small fire and slowly fell into sleep, unaware of what fate had in store for him from this point on.
     
    #5 SlamifiedBuddafied, Jul 14, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2014
  6. This was where it all started. Though I've done some editing, as both my grammar and writing style have changed and improved since way back when. But this, this is the first post which brought me into the first role play I'd been fortunate enough to start with a friend of mine and eventually led to a group of five (occasionally some would come in and out for brief periods) which spanned across numerous stories, resulting in numerous role plays set in the same persistent world. I managed to locate part of the story online, though it was written and posted about seven years ago and depicted an alternate opening to the role play. Its the only original piece copied from the now deleted forum we'd used. As stated, I've had to do some edits due to some oddities involving punctuated characters in the print. You may find the original in the spoiler button at the bottom of this post.

    First Pieces (open)
    The country of Alvion, such an interesting place of wonders. It may be one of the last countries to hold onto the dying age of magic.


    On the edge of the Eastern forests sat the town of Cotswold, always busy during the day with the citizens hard at work living their day to day lives. Secure in the small town of dirt roads and wooden buildings, their town enclosed by a ten foot tall wooden wall. The town from above circled outwards, resembling the bulls-eyes at the local archery and firing range. The Eastern edge of the town was securely against the vale of the forest, the trees its own natural walls to shield it from anything which would threaten its peoples. The sun had set over the Western flint hills, only a haunting glow crept over the mounds as a violet ghost. As the day aged into night the lamps on the corners flared on by their magical timers, each one begging an applause for its seemingly mysterious lighting, but none came so it sat in silence, its yellow glow filling the shade of the night.

    Beyond the town, less than half a days travel to the North, the Albion castle presided. The wall surrounding the small town inside stood two stories tall, the wall itself was well finished and well kept. The wall itself a giant triangle, on each wall a gate. One gate open for the forest, another open for the main road, and the third led out to the farms for the local marketplace.
    The town itself was formed of cobblestone roads, both wooden and stone mason buildings. The outer most part of the town was homes, each one supporting some kind of small family. Farther into the town the market district where both farmers and merchants could be found selling off their supplies daily. And at the center of the town the Albion castle itself, standing tall and proud, a symbol of the not only the towns prosperity, but also the country as a whole.
    The castle, the same shape as the walls, had three towers at each point, each one standing high with a great bell in each top. Each morning after the sun rises the Eastern bell would ring. Once noon came the South-Western bell would ring. Soon at the end of the day, once the sun drags down to the horizon, the North-Western bell would ring. Each and every day, each bell a symbol for the countries prosperity.

    The castle was only known as Albion Stone. The king, Lord Christopher Lament II, was a favored man, a pacifist and philanthropist who gave so much to the country, more than most would even dream of giving. He was not the richest lord nor did he possess physical prowess, but his will was that of mythril and his words swayed many. Having brought the kingdom along, achieving his late fathers dream of a stable and beautiful kingdom.
    The late king, Lord Christopher Lament I, died of his old age and sickness, his final wish was for his oldest son to rule the kingdom and his second son, Leviel Lament, to become the first Protector of the country. Leviel Lament, a body and mind of a warrior, became the supreme Protector of the country a year later, striding along the country borders, keeping peace wherever it may be needed. Both the songs of Lament were highly respected in all aspects.

    Leviel grew up fascinated by weaponry and armors, tactics and stratagems. He learned to wield his first sword at the age of thirteen, when Lord Lament I, saw it fit to begin the training that Leviel desired. After seven years of his own personal training in both sparring acts he was sent on a mission of goodwill to a far off country outside the continental reach of the Seasons Continent. He traveled overseas to a civil war called Myrita, one of the factions was supported due to its more capitalistic ideals. A year later after their civil war ended Leviel returned, his experience now expanded to the field of battle.
    Christopher II, was almost the opposite to his brother. Much more frail of a body, but his mind was in perfect shape. He took well after his father as both a diplomat and a leader, which assured him of his fathers succession. Years of study in both library and the people themselves Christopher gained a new ideal of peace, one that would work and keep the people happy without any underhanded means.

    It wasn't long after his brother Leviel returned that their father fell ill, three months later, in the season of Spring, their father died.
    For a year now, Christopher II has taken his fathers place and has changed the country for the best, keeping his fathers last wishes of peace.
    Outside the country of Albion, to her East, the more technologically ran country of Midgar, the greater superpower upon the Seasons continent, it kept Albion as a close ally due to their strong knowledge of the old magic, since Midgar had gone further in learning of machines and science. Both strong allies, even though their basic ideals were far apart when it came to the sciences and magics. It was in the recent years the countries relationship had diminished at an astonishing rate.


    "...and then this big fat arsed ninny came flyin' into Jacks medi' cart! BAM! We ran on over to grab that pig and when he saw us running towards him, he snarfed down all the food he stole just like that!" One of the customers was getting red in the face as he loudly told about his day. The same story every day when he came in and washed down a few pints.
    Behind the counter stood the caretaker and owner of the pub known as Old Tavern. His brother, sister and he had owned the tavern & inn for four years and have kept their heads well above water. Always getting a fine amount customers and guests to stay in the inn rooms. Most of the customers were visitors to the castle town North of Cotswold, family visiting family or a traveling merchant who needed a well kept but cheap room. The Tavern was the place and always the center of that kind of attention.
    The owner, Qardo Solo, stood tall, his broad shoulders and large figure kept the message clear that he was in charge, to let others know who was boss when a fight between two drunks erupted. His brown hair kept short above his small blue eyes, kept back and tied into a knot. He kept himself neat and his skills as a mild entertainer well tuned. Even though he was the caretaker and owner, he didn't bother speaking much unless he had to speak, which negated all idea of senseless conversation to him, which is why when he heard the drunkards talk, he didn't bother attempting to understand. Then again, it�s the talk of drunkards.
    The younger brother, who kept supplies fresh in the tavern, his name is Bejay Solo. Shorter and skinnier than Qardo, he was less of the one who broke up the fights and more of the one who enforced the rules. Having his own personal training in using a quarter staff, he hopes to keep the use only in defense, or to ward off any sticky fingered burglars. His hair and eyes were the same as Qardo's, but Bejay's was longer and kept all around his head, rather than put into a knot. He kept his own look, wanting to look different than his older brother, but still keeping the same attitude.
    Out of the trio was Soliesh, the youngest of the family. Her hair was similar to the color of the maple tree's in autumn but her eyes kept the grace of spring waters. Unlike her brothers, she kept a beauty about her, being not only the barmaid, but the barmaid some of the more suggestive customers wouldn't mind copping a feel on. Although there was a time somebody made that mistake and found their wrist snapped back by Qardo's bear like hands. She stood small, only five feet and four inches. She was the second caretaker for the inn itself, keeping the rooms clean and smug for new customers.


    Outside the town a young woman dressed in a monks garb made her way down the dirt road toward Cotswold with a fast pace. Across her back was a staff which bore various foreign inscriptions and an old leather bag, faded from years of use, a black blotch of faded ink shown in the moonlight. She stood somewhat short, small for her age. Her hood hung loosely over her face, hiding the smooth pale skin underneath. Her name, Tiana Koul.
    She stopped at the town entrance, the large wooden gate propped open only a few feet and two guards watched her, waiting for her to approach.

    " 'Ello there miss, 'ow may I 'elp 'ye?" The plump guard asked her in a strong accent.

    "Is the town open?" She quickly asked, her voice smooth with a touch of feminine bass.

    "Oy it is, if ya lookin' for an inn, ed down that there street to a larger like building. The sign 'otside should read Ye Old Tavern." He happily said, motioning down the walkway behind him and his companion guard. The woman suspected he had been drinking, but cared not, less of a chance she'd be remembered in this town.

    "Thank you sir." She said, hurrying past the guard, the smell of strong liquor seeped into her nose as she passed. The town itself was quiet, only the soft wind sweeping past the town walls and through the alleys could be heard. The lamplighter had just finished his rounds making sure the spells hadn't worn off and was heading back home, his enchanted light torch propped over his shoulder, the end gleaming with a small fire powered by a mild magic.

    Tiana made her way down the cobblestone road, her concealed eyes observing the simplicity of the town. No real technology was here, just the strong embrace of the older magic, which felt comforting. Unlike the metal clad cities of the East in Midgar, this small town still had some kind of innocence, its soul not yet sold to the iron life the Eastern peoples live.
    She approached the Tavern, its large bold printed sign hung outside above the door, the building itself was of older architecture. Still a beautiful design, the front windows stained glass, filled with random designs, above in the inn rooms, eight small windows, one for each room.

    She opened the front door, heavy with oak and large brass hinges. The warmth of the tavern drifted onto her skin, immediately giving Tiana the sense of a comforting place. As the closed the door, she saw the tavern was well kept, each round table washed off and dried, the seats all in place. It wasn�t just some seedy bar. Three drunk men sat at the counter, passing back and fourth stories which were either unreal or made up; or maybe just stranger than fiction. Either way, the oblong smiles on their faces still kept the atmosphere refreshing.

    "Ello there miss, how can I help 'ya?" Bejay jumped over the counter and approached Tiana. "Lookin' for a drink, a room?"

    "I'd like a room for the night, would you have one which looks upon the street?" She responded, eyeing the teen in suspicion, as she'd made a habit of doing.

    "Alrighty, we've got one just upstairs though a bit small. That'll be thirteen coins, if 'ya would like, we've got an extra pint in the back before we close up the bar, would 'ya care to wet your whistle?"

    "No thank you, I'd be better off without a drink." She replied, dropping thirteen coins into Bejay's waiting hand.

    "Alright miss, we've got a vacant, room seven the one 'yer gonna want. If 'ya would like an extra pillow, just ask, but it'll cost 'yeh another coin. Thank 'ya and g'night." He tossed the coins in the air and caught them swiftly as he made his way back to the bar to have the drunken men leave for the night.

    Sitting in her room, lit by two candles on both sides of the bed, Tiana looked over a small map. She checked her instructions to the mountain range South of Cotswold.
    "It would be at least a days walk until she reaches the mountains. I need all the rest I can muster." She folded the map up in a crisp square and tucked it in her belongings as she blew out the candles so only the faint light of the waning moon could pass through the window.


    Original copy (open)
     
  7. Thoughts of... (open)
    God damn this world! I never wanted to see such disgrace come to my sisters, but here they must cleave through flesh and bone. So far away from my home is where I dance in slaughter, with the wish to bring peace but with the incomprehensible knowledge I must too die by the sword. Do I seek death after so long or do I seek answers to unrelated to the life flowing through my twisted frame of a body. Blood tainted and soul torn and sewn, scars from what I used to be bleed through into the mind. Oh those pieces of what I used to be seem so foreign now, so long ago, so old and lacking of the intrepid quality which haunts my battlefield grace. Yet, when was it that I became a fighter? A soldier? A mercenary? A tool?

    I lack the mental fortitude and expansive knowledge to grasp the concepts which flow over this world, but I know what it is to become a mother, what means to be a lover, how it is to be a killer. I've been spread out too much, a bucket of water to sparsely glisten over a large basin, soaking me up like a sponge and leaving the cracked parts unfilled, unable to sate the appetite to become more than a scar. My ears are haunted by shocks of yesteryear, yet they ring deeply, humming into the night, haunting my dreams with a mix of love and fear, causing shutters in my chest at night; my heart jumps and so do my hands, gripping the swords which bound my life to this aging world. Yet, even in this moment, caught in battle, dragged into the net of warfare, I find myself breathing a sigh of relief, as if the precipice of this world has come to a climax and all that which has become will begin to unfold. But why is it that I have this feeling trapped, embedded in my gut?

    My thoughts are not with those whom I have slain this day, for they gave their lives in great fervor so they may fall with glory on these expansive moors. Even as the sun sets with its ominous glow beyond the treeline of distant hills, a fog beckons and takes the air as once warm bodies fluids seep into the soil. The glow of torch and light alike are like drumming rhythms through the fog now, ghostly shadows of corpses are burned to ash and I can think no more. Oh dreams, how you devour me, take me into the night so that I may sleep once more; so then I may awake anew, to walk this world under the sun once more.


    -Tiana's thoughts during and after the Battle of Lievs Moor
     
  8. Planet Death (open)

    I once saw a planet die.

    I was there, at the center of it all. White hot fire suspended in time and all that which was collapsed in frozen repose. The stinging rain did not fall, trapped in time and forever lingering. Around me, inevitable death crept about, patience in its bated breath, waiting for my stroke to fall so that it may to release its blade. I thought for a fleeting moment I'd spoken with death in all my madness; my ears thrummed with ringing and drowned out screams. Before me the precipice of destruction lay in wait, ready to be cracked as the shell of a fragile egg only so that it may release the planet death. My skin shuddered and mind frayed as I drew closer. My aged body felt time catch up, nipping at the tendrils of my long matted hair, unkempt and brittle from years of disservice to my own body.

    I knew not of my friends and foes, for my thoughts were no longer with them. Only the wonderfully abysmal death which I'd reached for, for so long was upon my thoughts and the tip of my tongue. I did not call out, 'nor did I whimper; but in grace and silence did I strike the distorted space with Godly weapons. I was then consumed. Time had returned, slowly at first, allowing the hot flame to bathe my skin and bones, cleansing my blood and turning me to ash. Each prick, searing burn and agonizing thought blanketed my soul with tenacity as they were all picked away. Below me the timeless battle came to, only to be annihilated in the flame of disused magic and misunderstood technology.

    Then, time had returned to this place and in but an instant it was beyond charred. Down to the smallest particle destruction was wrought, cleansing this world. Though not all deserved this, the cancer had grown to great in the breast of this world and the only option which remained was to destroy all the flesh, remove the fuel of the cancer and the cancer would die. A shock wave screamed around the world, deafening and awesome, its presence was known for moments before extinguishing the buildings and kingdoms of the many races; but it was the fire which resounded behind it that destroyed the rest. It was indiscriminate, seeking stone, flesh, glass and metal, all would fall before it. The fire then delved into the flesh of planet, carving through it as a madman would carve through a victim. The world was disemboweled and it split.

    Two great halves separated, the core and its mantle were no longer separate as their derbies mingled. The moon fell toward the world and consumed the upper half, sending an armada of giant rock hurtling into space. What was left of the core erupted as the hot flows that were once beneath the surface flowed freely into the dead of space, cooling rapidly creating deadly sculptures of spike and jagged rock. Even the Gods wept at such a sight, knowing that it was the work of mortal. For even the destruction of a God had order, but this was chaos in its purest form.

    It was then I hoped to rest.
    But even the same who would weep, would not let me rest.
     
    • Love Love x 1
  9. This was during a darker time in the later portions of the third RP. No matter how far Tiana would go in this world, no matter where she would seek shelter from the tenacious demons which lingered in her shadow, there always seemed to be some blackness rising in her wake, despite the horrors which she traveled into. It had become apparent to Tiana by this point that her presence seemed to only bring a tide of darkness; so she left what she knew of civilization and wandered deep into the unexplored places of the world. Even then, images of yesteryear still haunted her dreams, as did it.

    The following text has been cleaned up a bit from its original and has had some detail involving gore and other subjects removed to not conflict with Iwaku rules.
    NSFW.

    It and the Dream (open)

    Who are you?

    I am me.

    Who. Are. You?

    It beckoned again from the darkness of her dreams. It had once been frequent and full of fear, but had become less redundant and more an old friend; a visitor in the dead of night when the minds eyes sets adrift upon the myriad sea of dreams. A faint star among the black breach of space with more a destiny than the ones which had come so long before. It's light a curse, but its warmth a blessing. Bringing life to those around it, but becoming devoid of life as time marched on. Tiana had felt it deep in her chest, growing as the years steadily grew; seasons seemed to come and go in flashes, each one beckoned old memories to stir like putrid dust filled with odorless poison. Yet, among all this, it remained clear as it always had.

    She could never comprehend its form, for it did not appear in any form the mortal eye could comprehend. But the minds eye saw it, for what it was not how it appeared. It was a darkness, drifting in the mind and body, of the blood and fabric of the soul. It had no name, yet she knew it as water to the lungs, the heavy coating of sulfur on a cursed blade which need not cut any longer; it had done so for many years and had become either bored or maybe it saw things in a different scheme. Why cause immediate pain when one could torture a being for eons? Tiana saw this, but understood it no more and no less.

    It whispered in the night.
    Morbid things.
    Tainted words.
    Faint rhymes from her childhood.
    Images of a torn ravaged body, her body.
    Sometimes the bells of Midgar would ring in her ears.
    Other nights she'd hear the faint cry of Jeziline.

    Jeziline.
    Jeziline.
    Jeziline?
    Jeziline!?
    Jeziline!!
    JEZILINE!

    It was there.
    She was back there again.

    The streets of Ramsterdom were littered with debris. Fragments of concrete barriers and twisted steels of shields. Blood and flesh and bone collide in a contrast upon hot
    asphalt and vehicles sat as coffins to bake the dead under the blistering sun. Bodies lay flung around, many torn to shreds, some impaled upon streetlights and heads lined the roofing gutters. Blood had once trickled down the sewer drains, only now it was day old coagulation and rot. The town itself unrecognizable. Walls caved in from massive blows and craters lay in patterns up and down the streets. He'd been here, the man with the warhammer had been here. Just one fucking step ahead. He had become a force that was beyond facing under normal circumstance, but these days, Tiana's life had been anything but normal circumstances.

    She stood at an intersection, silhouetted against the orange setting sun. Her red robes had a particular glow as the suns final rays loomed over her. Covered head to toe, her face concealed by tight wraps, her eyes piercing like a banshees howl and presence ominous; her wings gave a flutter before stretching them wide. She sensed there were some still somehow alive, but they were beyond saving now. She strode down the street, sticking her blade into the chest of various impalement victims, ending their prolonged suffering. She hoped their souls would understand as her sword Redemption pierced their hearts. Yet, to all this, she only felt a sense of longing. It was not sadness 'nor anger 'nor hatred which consumed her, but a deep depression longing to seek death. But she knew, death waited patiently until the day the lines of her fate drew to a close. For these people, the end had not come fast enough.

    But then, she felt another piece of her break.

    She'd roamed the streets for nearly an hour and the sun had finally come to a rest beyond the horizon, only the twilight remaining; there at the center of a pond a large spike had been planted and a single body had been impaled through the mouth. It was Jeziline. Tiana fell to her knees and screamed in rage upon the sight of Jezilines dried bloodied corpse. She planted Redemption into the ground and threw Reconciliation to her side as she began slamming her fist into the pavement.

    "NO GOD DAMNIT! FUCKING NOOOO! JEZILINE!" Tiana cried out in vain as tears streamed down her cheeks into the red linen wrap. "...he can't have killed you..." She began to whimper, "...he just...cant... please Jezi. ple-e-eease..." Laying out on the ground face down she wailed into the night. It had been years since she'd felt such agony drift through her soul. She had attempted to keep it at bay. But this, no, she just couldn't keep it out any longer.

    Your friend, she screamed like a little bitch.

    FUCK YOU!

    He even had his way with her. Made her moan.

    FUCK YOU!

    He smiled when he thrust he upon that spike.

    FUCK YOU!

    The dream twisted into something more nightmarish than the body strewn town of Ramsterdom. The streets morphed into pulsating muscle and the buildings faded into geometric shapes, each twitching in the air, each containing its own nightmare. The sky above grew a deep hue of blue, reflecting down on the now fleshy ground; protruding veins and infected pores bled all around. In front of her it appeared to her. It taunted her. It mocked her.

    You've always wondered where I came from.

    Its voice was shrill, like the smell of wet ash in your mouth and the stale eaten up corpse of a faun, moist from a morning dew. It made her sick to the bone when it spoke. Speaking only of dark things, forbidden things, like a ringing bell deep in the night which foretold of terrible things that would come into this lucid dream.

    But I. Well. I think you know exactly...

    Her childhood home flashed before her eyes, first pristine then bloodied and fallen.

    ...where...

    The den. Its contents strewn about, a vicious bloodstain on the floors center.

    ...I started.

    Fuck you.

    They did; fuck you.


    Tiana jumped to life from her disturbing dreams, she clutched Redemption close to her breast as her widened eyes surveyed her campsite. Nothing. It was just... that place again. Only the fauna and dying embers kept her company under the night sky. To the East the cold glow of day had begun to surface far away, stretching over the forests and cascading through distant places she would not know. Her head spun for a few more moments as she pulled herself toward the embers and placed a new log and tinder upon it, hoping to find some warmth before the day. Even the fire had trouble reaching her tainted flesh, its warmth seeming to glance off her shell.

    "Whatever happens..." She spoke to the nothingness or possibly herself, "...the only way out is through."
     
  10. I would've added this segment last night, but I was quite tired and had lost all track of time in the wee morning hours.

    This is the ending to a piece involving a handful of particular characters where Tiana was tracking a man demon for roughly seven years, deep into the Kurast south lands. Qardo had accompanied her for a ways, but after over a year he decided it best to travel back to his home and look after his siblings and he and Tiana's daughter who'd been left in the care of the Elf-Vampire Garvin at the time. Tiana continued her journey for some time, rarely finding any information until the least couple weeks of her search when his path of destruction become apparent and rapidly growing to extreme proportions. He'd killed before, but it was was seemed to be random people. It was that last fortnight where he killed nearly every man, woman and child in his path. Though it wasn't until later she discovered his mission. For now, she had finally found him.

    During her seven year journey, she'd befriended a middle aged master hunter named Jezeline, who too had been tracking the Man with the Steel Warhammer for killing her late husband, though it had grown into more a sense of duty as she too discovered his many victims. They'd become very close to each other, like lost sisters who'd found each other after half a lifetime; only to be separated by the harshest of demises.

    The Steel Hammer (open)


    They called him the "Man with the Steel Warhammer". He'd appeared during the great curse Kurast in the Southland. In his path, only a trail of destruction remained; no creature, no building 'nor any natural formation was left untouched and unscathed by his presence. Tiana had seen him twice; first from a distance, only to have horror strike her heart and the second time her body nearly broken under mounds of corpses. Yet she wandered in his wake to find him once again and end his existence, for she'd witnessed firsthand this mans... this beasts appetite for utter annihilation. What she saw was deeper than his outer being form, a monster in the guise of man flesh, a beast from some forgotten abyss.

    It was the second time she'd seen him that she recognized his face. It was the man from Tiaz' underground. He was there when the Midgar tower fell as well. But when she saw him after Ramsterdom, she knew this was not quite the same man she'd seen before. This was a being on a set path, a chosen path to become a man demon, an abomination like her. The only difference, was one would seek to become a monster, the other a monster that would seek cursed happiness. These were not conflicting desires however, for the Man with the Warhammer had become a monster in his journey and now he to looked to fulfill his own desires, whatever they may be. Through this, he endlessly bathed in blood, stole the virginity of man and woman, disused their corpses and decimated earthly structures. Tiana cringed as she thought of him, hoping she too would not become this monster.


    Here she was though, face to face with him.
    His body was irregular, an overgrowth of muscle and scar tissue made up his appearance. He wore little clothing, as he did not require such modesty, for a monster did not seek such matters. It was only concerned with its own want and desire. His eyes a listless green, deep and sunken in where no life remained. His skin had become a series of lacerations, old and fresh scars, infected wounds and pussy gashes. He stood tall, well above Tiana's height, just short of being a giant amount men. There he stood, short of being nude and holding his demon weapon in his heavily callused hands. She'd found him, after all this time, she'd found him.

    "What are you?" She'd finally spoken after a silent stare of many long moments, her lips quivered in anticipation, her heart had washed away its fear with massive bursts of adrenaline.

    I am he.

    "He? Who is he?"

    He is the scratching at a child's door at night. He. Under an old tavern roof.

    Her hairs raised on end and her body tensed up. She knew of where he spoke, where it all had started not but ten years ago. "No, not my child's door."
    He smiled an otherworldly look, his teeth jagged and lips dis-proportioned.

    You too are upon my path, but you will not succeed me. Once you are dead. I will be the one scratching at her door.

    His voice crept along the skin like unnaturally cold ice, his words shot through her ears and left her will shaken. This was no longer a man, but a being given in to some darker version of oneself, hence creating a demon.

    "I ask you again monster! What are you!?" She drew her blades and took her stance, ready to strike at his heart, ready to wind past his blows and dismember his tainted form.

    I? I am a warning.

    With that the great man stepped forward, his feet caused the ground to tremble as he jolted forward. His warhammer arched through the air and came down towards Tiana who barely evaded the shattering blow. She felt like being blasted back as she regained her footing, amazed by his speed. The ground beneath his hammer smoked, the force had effectively glassed the sand beneath their feet. Waves were sent out into the bay and any remaining wildlife had fallen silent. He moved again, his force redoubled as he swung toward her again. She barely managed to evade again, the tip of the hammer ripped across the flesh of her left bicep, tearing the flesh, causing her arm to drop useless in the face of her enemy.

    I know your scent, vampire. We have met before, heaven't we?

    Shit.
    He recognized her somehow, from their previous meeting which she'd thought was unknown to him.

    I will end you and feast on your entrails vampire!

    He lunged forward again in his madness and for a moment, the world came to a halt. Her right hand braced Reconciliation with all her might as her eyes fixed themselves upon the hammers end, behind it his arms outstretched, his nude body exposed. Her sword skidded along the sand and flung toward his right breast as her weakened left arm flung up toward the hammers point. She ducked down and felt the hammer blow against her arm, her bone splintered and her skin tore like paper. She pierced where his heart once should have been. The hammer came down and took bits of her arm with it. Her pain was inconsequential, this man, this demon had to be exterminated. Her sword had impaled through his right breast, protruding from his upper back, yet his expression remained the same as he leaned in, the blade working its way in deeper.

    I read your friends dying thoughts. I saw you there. He smiled something sinister, I saw those memories scream through her mind as I defiled her holes. Even as I planted her upon a spike fashioned from the trunk of a dead tree, I continued the way of the flesh. As I did with all those others.

    "You must... you will die here!" Tiana roared, bracing herself for what would come next.

    I have done my part in this world. My task is finished, vampire. Now strike me down as you wish, your path is as set as mine. His smile faded as he dropped his hammer and placed both hands around her entire head. End me. End me so that I may rejoice in my personal oblivion! Destroy my flesh! DESTROY MY FLESH! DESTROY MY FLESH!

    She screamed through his palms as he squeezed her skull, mustering the strength to continue as her cranium began to crack.

    Then she found herself elsewhere. Complete again. But this, this was nowhere. A certain stillness, a nothingness.
    "Tiana?"

    She spun around recognizing the voice, only to meet the dead Jezeline she'd witnessed at Ramsterdom. Her hair still coated in dried blood, her mouth disfigured and a clear hole led from there through her lower stomach. This was a tattered version of the woman she'd grown to know, one of her few friends who shared her plight in this world, but this... this was a ghost.

    "Do not fear my friend. You have so much strength, despite where your soul has fallen over these years. So much life shrouded by a darkened past; as a hallway with charred walls with a single well lit lantern at its end. Damaged, yet functional. Tiana?" Jezelines twisted face turned to the side, her outline rigid and torn. "Do not seek vengeance. You are already a monster by form, do not let your mind stray away from your humanity as well. Yet I will say, kill him. Not for vengeance, but to reveal a path hidden by a great obstacle."

    "Jezeline, I'm... so sorry. I couldn't save you... I..." Tears welled up in her eyes, ready to stream forth.

    "Tiana, don't cry. You were as much a sister to me as I to you. I do not wish to see you mourn. Press forward, for there is something far greater than my death which you will face. Now go!" The nothingness faded back to the beach where Tiana and the Man with the Warhammer struggled in mortal coil. "Overcome this obstacle!"

    She managed to grip her sword with all her strength cut upward, through bone and flesh did Reconciliation slice. From his breast to the left, a clean cut. His grip loosened and she fell to the ground, the crunch of her broken arm overshadowed by the giant mans body falling as well. His top half hung to his body by ribs and bits of flesh, otherwise it had been removed. Yet, he still lived.

    Little woman. You have known this life for a short time. I pity you. I have walked for centuries and killed for an equal time. I was told my death would come soon once my task had matured and no longer required my assistance. His mouth did not move, but his words resounded in Tiana's ears clearly, You are not the same monster I have become. It has been so long since I could speak without the pain of thought threatening to destroy my mind. Yet, my time is done and all I can tell you, is death may wait for us, but it does not approach so easily.

    With that his voice silenced, his body dead. His right hands fingers twitched ever so slightly before his body visibly began to crumble. Tiana sat up, watching and waiting until he was no more and she too fell back. But she knew death wasn't coming for her, not this day. Freya... she mouthed to the sky, hoping her heavenly guardian would respond and tend to her wounds. ...I call your healing hands, to your earthly servant...

    "Call again have we?" A deep womanly voice enveloped Tiana, "Hmmph, for such a young thing I know not how you find such grievous misfortune. But there are powers in this world which call out and those who seek them. You are bound to cross their paths as it is destined." The kindly voice seemed to sooth Tiana's wounds, her arm became full again, leaving scar tissue up and down her pale skin, "I'll leave a human mark to remind you, Koul. It adds a certain beauty to you mortal creatures."
     
    #10 SlamifiedBuddafied, Jul 29, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2014
  11. Revenge falls upon death (open)

    Once was a girl of flora rose red
    whom emerged from a town of dead,
    young and scarred and full of rage
    she would soon rattle her mortal cage.
    Revenge falls upon death (open)


    Tiana had heard this in a dream as a younger woman, but her mind as fragile as ever. She'd set out after her village burned, her father murdered and her body raped; her quest was to find those responsible, through this she allowed a vindictive nature to begin consuming her soul. So much potential squandered as the next three years turned her into a darker soul, no longer the once bright eyed girl but one who has shut their heart from the world. She had found how easy it was to kill a man when she'd found the first one. A deserter of his uniform, but she knew him after she tore his clothing from his chest to find the scar and tattoo she'd seen so clearly before. With that, she planted a dagger in his heart and for measure, slit his throat and watched the life fade from his body.

    The second and third were no challenge to find either. They're lifestyles were consistent and habitual. She lured them in with promises of lust, the pigs, they would be stuck with her blade and penetrated. She laughed menacingly as she did so, twisting the knife and jutting every which way through the flesh. She didn't see it, but she'd become no better than those she would seek to kill. However, there was still one more, a fourth who deserved to die. She knew his face as she knew her skill to find him. Following rumors through forgotten paths, into forgotten places of the world. It was to the North. It took a year of travel on his scent, only finding faint clues of his presence; until the day her fate would twist further down the spiral she'd begun to fall upon.

    Tundra beneath their feet, the man appeared to her in a thick black cloak, his face revealed. It was the same eyes, left one scarred, a high arch nose, the edges of his lips curled with some sick thought. She felt nothing but hate for this man, more so after searching for him for so long and over such a vast distance. He knew she'd been tracking him for some time, Tiana was aware of this. But her revenge was so close, she could smell his dried sweat beneath the cold wind.

    "I know you, girl." His voice gruff, harsh like the bitter cold around him. Flat and full of fatigue. "Why do you seek me, hmmm? Do you look to find solace in my death? Stupid bitch. Your kind was put on this world for the pleasure of others. Lie cattle." He smiled, knowing his words infuriated the already mad woman in front of him.

    "Three years. Three dead, your the last one." She pierced his eyes with her stare, "But you. You're the one I wanted all along. I watched you kill my father and you had your way with..." She paused, cringing at the memories she relived so often, "You wanted to fuck me so much back then? I'm here now, in this cold place." She groped her groin, "You still want to fuck me? I want to do you the same way." She pulled a long fine dagger from her side and charged at him in all her fury, waiting to finally be unleashed.

    It didn't take much, a simple struggle between the two before she managed to plant the dagger in his gut. Yet, he didn't look surprised in the least, instead he continued that charade of a smile.

    "Stupid... girl." He sputtered as she ripped the knife from his gut, "I'm happy you found me... in this solemn place." With that Tiana felt a sharp pain jolt from her right side, pushing into her lower lung. He'd planted his own dagger in her side, "Looks like... I got to fuck you... once mo..." He didn't have time to finish his sentence. Tiana jammed one dagger into his throat and repeatedly stabbed his groin into a bloodied mess.

    You fuck! You! How dare you! This was my revenge! This... this was...

    She fell to her knees next to his corpse and felt a cold chill within her body, ...my revenge? She fell to her side as blood rushed from her side and filled her lung. But... this was... I was supposed to... this can't be the way I...

    With a scare she awoke to warm weather, the air humid and the sun shining through the cracks of a small wooden shack. She pressed her hands against her face, attempting to alleviate the ache in her head and eyes. Her body felt worn, as if she'd slept for way to long. It suddenly struck her as odd, she couldn't recall where she had just been. Had she just been somewhere? A uneasy feeling washed through her as a fright began to settle in. She couldn't recall... anything.

    "Hello my dear." An old woman entered the shack and Tiana jumped from her bedding and backed into the wall opposite of her, "My child, you were frightfully injured when you were brought here. You should keep off your feet, you've been asleep for nearly a month."

    Tiana attempted to speak only to find her vocal chords strained and her lungs heavy, "I..." She coughed deeply, the kind of cough which resembled the sound of an ax chopping through blocks of wood, "..please, I can't... remember..." She became frantic as she struggled about in both mind and body. It was as if everything were in a deep haze, beyond recollection. Two men came rushing in as the old woman waved toward the hut. "...no, I, I... I..." The world around her went black as Tiana passed out, narrowly caught in one of the men's arms.

    I can't find my name.
     
  12. This was a piece I'd decided to lightly revise.
    A seer had once seen Tiana, roughly thirty years after she'd become something other than human. This seer had the power to look into the souls and mind of most beings; though he was unprepared for what he'd find in this seemingly random stranger he'd spied upon for but a day. Transfixed by her haunting beauty which had been laced with scar after scar, he could not help but peer in, only to find something far beyond what he'd expected in his mundane life of fortune telling and watching the distant stars.

    To be honest.
    This was one of the pieces I couldn't help but shed a few tears when I initially wrote it. Though there was no mention again of this nameless seer, he brought a certain perspective of a foreign mind in a familiar world.

    The Seer and the Destroyer (open)


    The stars are being blotted out in the darkness of space. I've watched the night sky for nearly three millennium now; I have seen stars die but never have I seen so many unnaturally destroyed. It is a force I do not comprehend, nor is it one that I wish to understand. There are some things better left beyond mortal understanding, even when you see a being of such massive proportion pass through the night of space which dwarfs your entire existence. I spied upon it once. It is no beast, not the way we would see it here. It does not seek death 'nor is it seeking to bring suffering. It simply hungers for the great lights in the sky.

    Once a star died. As any other, or so I thought.

    It took every ounce of will.

    I saw it then. I screamed. Horrified by the sheer magnitude of this being. Every follicle on my body shivered, my veins pumped adrenal acid and my head quaked. The strange thing is, I met her after that terrifying experience. She seemed so young, yet her mind weighed by a burden no mortal should ever have to bear. Scars littered her body and mind alike as I looked into her. I saw something beautiful however, yet it left me doubting the heavens and the great things beyond even my reckoning, much less the Gods. I saw fire, more than anything. Its fuel a deep hatred buried under layer upon layer upon layer of suffering and love fused into an enigmatic monstrosity which took the form of a valley filled to the brim of roses. Then I realized, she was watching me from there as well.

    "You are at a place, I hold sacred." She spoke in a manner I couldn't quite understand. A depression echoed in her words, yet love flaked throughout it, a sense of tender passion lost in a thicket of beautiful roses and harmful vines. "This, is where my life truly began. It didn't have a name. It was simply called home by those who once dwell here. Home." Closing her eyes, even in her mind, she shuddered. The land around me slowly began to change. Rose petals flaking and turning into white hot ash, invisible lips of seductive flames kissed the petals one by one. The ash rose into the air and did not stop until the sky had become clouded and darkened. The ground became charred and only patches remained of the rose thickets. A village burned, as did a solitary cottage on its outskirts. A young version of this woman kneel in front of the burning cottage, her hands clasped together, as were her eyelids.

    "I prayed for destruction. The destruction of the souls who deemed my land worth ripe for pillage, rape, murder and burning." The younger version stood and turned to me and spoke, "I prayed that I may one day find the power to simply end it all." The young version stepped seamlessly behind the one I knew and disappeared. "I found a place. Where I could become... a killer. A sell-sword. A mercenary. Though I justified my actions with petty reason; that it was just, that is was for the good, but the reality came to late and I went to far seeking what became vengeance."

    The scene before me became that of snowy hills, rolling for miles into mountain and forest, frozen lakes and rivers, dead caverns and crypts hidden under the snow. Another version of this woman lay in the snow, wounded and dying. A man lay next to her, mangled and bled like a farm animal. He had been killed viciously, so much hatred released on him from some poor girl who'd lost sight of what was just and what was vendetta. This had cost her dearly as her lung filled slowly with blood, her hand clasped to her side and mind struggling to stay conscious in this cold place.

    "I wanted them dead so much. I wanted it so much... yet, I had forgotten myself and became a monster as they did. I wonder sometimes... had they been like me when they were young? So much wrong done to them, that they too would seek to destroy that which caused them turmoil and that which was once precious to them harm? In turn, becoming monsters of men?" She tilted her head back and stared deeply into the sky as it shifted from darkened clouds of snow to a soft blue looming over a humid forest. The sky become blocked, a canopy formed and the setting complete. A clustered village of shacks huddled near thick tree bases, each lit with waving candles, casting quivering shadows about; friendly ghosts to haunt the thick foliage.

    "Yet, I was handed another chance at the cost of memory. I'd forgotten my life and had only my name. It took nearly two years to nurse my body and mind back to health. I could barely speak, barely walk... I had to be fed my own food." I felt her eyes gaze upon me, again, I felt a sense of emotion which I can't describe, "Yet, it was not enough to evade my past. It was but a calm before the endless storm of my now eternal life. For after I'd been nursed to health, I promised those who healed me that I would bring them a gift fit for such benevolence and good. So I began searching until I heard about it." The scene morphed again and darkness consumed me and the woman. I felt walls form on my sides and a soft glimmer of light revealed coffins and skeletons of old. It was an ancient crypt.

    "I came here, looking for a relic said to bring good fortune to those of good heart and soul. Though I hadn't known after so long, it and the crypt in which it laid had become tainted, not by time but by a foul creature from the old days. It was an elder vampire. A demon from ages long before which had secluded itself from the world so that it may spend eternity in isolation. Until I stumbled upon its lair of course." Her sustained sentence came to a long pause as something approached.

    Torchlight quivered in the tomb and an young, yet mature version of the woman passed by me. The hatred had gone from her eyes, though a certain sadness that even the woman could not discern lingered there. She continued onward until the light faded and then I heard only her blood curdling screams until they too faded within the ageless crypt.

    "It did things to by body. I care not to remember, yet the memory remains all to clear. What was worse of all, I remembered a moment just like it, being defiled. Lashed. Beaten. Broken. Demon blood pushed into my flesh, bringing unnatural life to my being. Yet left alive so that I may continue my suffering. The memory of the life I was had slowly began revealing itself; as if a curtain upon a stage slowly lifted, allowing small sights at a time." She inhaled deeply and held her chest full, as if... well, to be honest, I'm not sure what. Was she embracing what had happened?

    "I must ask, if I may. Whom are you, oh creature of the night? One who I peer into, but only see fog and mirrored glass which play tricks upon thine eyes. Who are you?" I had to ask. She'd shown me so much yet had not given me a name. I wish now I didn't know, for a part of my mind would see her until the end of this worlds days. I would see things which went far beyond the travesties and madness this world had already suffered. But this... oh, woe is the world in the tide of such a creature. For in that moment as she spoke her name...

    "Tiana Koul."

    ...I saw a glimpse of the world on fire.
    How it pricked, like flame on skin.
    How it flow, like pollen upon the wind.
    How it trickled up mountains,
    how it boiled oceans,
    how it scorched my...

    The world came to again and she was at a distance as it was all before. I'd left the realm of her mind and fell to my knees. She stood opposite to me upon a lookout of the north hill. The sky in its glimmering magnificence behind her, the new moon blank and hidden above and the world unaware of its destroyer. I never knew if she saw what I had seen, somehow I doubt she did. Such is the curse of foresight.

    It is on this day now my sight does not fail me. I stand upon a mountaintop on the Midgaran Range, the clouds bellowed through the sky, pushed by immeasurable force. The wind shrieked up the mountain, singing past its stinging rocks and fallen boulders and through its hidden crevices. Animal life did not attempt to escape, it simple watched in awe as the horizon filled with white hot fire.

    I had never seen the sky burn before.
    I howled with a final cry before I was consumed.
    "Ode to you, destroyer Koul!
    I fade into your work!
    I find happiness in my end,
    knowing this world will spin no more!
    Grant me one last request!
    Oh fire, how I covet thee!
    Let me look upon your soul,
    one last time!"

    And in the fire, I saw her nude body, her curves and scars as lucid and vivid as I ever had imagined.
    "Bathe me, oh Queen of Sister Blades."

    Was my final whisper.
     
    #12 SlamifiedBuddafied, Aug 2, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2014
  13. Only way out is through (open)

    Irritating silence.

    Fire on the wind and only the white noise of the airships engines soiled the air. It hummed oh so proudly, as a titan of the sky; forged by mortal hands and enchanted upon by mortal hands. There is no work of the Gods here and yet they chant, "The Gods make our day possible upon this vessel!" Yet, here it is. The land below had been mangled. Craters of earth blown into smithereens, hunks of twisted metal lay strewn about, once machines of war now only fossils of the battlefield. Corpses littered the ground, as if they were ants to the slaughter of a big boot. Crushed, charred, baked, possible sauteed. Lines of trenches were dotted with collapsed sections or piles of the dead. Only a handful of survivors remained, either too afraid to move or still waiting for death. It was a shame to call this a battlefield; for no battle occurred here, only slaughter.

    Five hours beforehand, the sun had begun to crest over the horizon and daylight began to spill over the small province in Western Kurast. Another piece of the endless civil war was about to finish playing out. Tens of thousands of refugees had taken shelter in the tunnel systems built beneath the solid moors and a functioning city which had been free from the problems of the war had stayed rather quiet until its recent discovery. Two sects of rebellions had been fighting for the province in order to hold it from the now dwindling Kurastshin Empire. It had nearly consumed the place in a firestorm of conflict, but now the recently thought dying empire had struck back with unexpected weapons. Airships that had been kept a secret in the deepest reaches of the North Muntan Mountains, which lined the border of the Northern Empire State Province; where the capitol and seat of the empire had managed to sit unharmed. This day, the two rebellions sought each others aid to fight off the empire.

    Tiana had found herself caught in the middle of something terrible yet again. She awoke to the sounds of low rumbling and creaking supports of the underground structure. That was an explosion. Leaping from her cot and jolting down the tunnel, not before she'd grabbed her blades, Tiana found her way to the nearest exit. There were already a few dozen people huddled near with rebels from the South Peach-tree Alliance. The orange uniforms stood out among the tan, brown and white of the peoples garb. They even had automatic weapons, stolen from the empire. Tiana didn't like the guns. Not because of any personal preference or art of war, but the fact that she'd been shot numerous times before and removing bullets is always a process she doesn't look forward too. Her mind focused again as another rumble resonated through the tunnels and thus began more hectic clamoring from the growing crowd.

    "You should stay underground for your own protection!" One of the guards spoke up, "We believe empire forces are in the area, but do not threaten the underground as of yet. We are safely over twenty feet below ground and measures have been accounted for in case of cave ins." The crowd simply began to bicker more with thrown questions. Who are you to keep us down here? What if the exits cave in? What if they know we're here? What if... what if...

    Tiana felt pity for the people. Many of them couldn't defend themselves against weapons or magic. They'd simply have to run and hide or surrender. She suspected something was coming though, this place was no longer the big secret right under the empires long nose. Tiana pushed her way to the front and confronted the soldiers, "I am with Commander Redford. I request that I have access to the surface." The guards exchanged glances, almost eager to grant her wish.

    "Your the Winged Lady! I saw you fight at Roskar!" The man on her left exclaimed. He was equally as young as the other soldier, both couldn't have been older than twenty or so. "You could even take a bullet! I saw you take down the honor guard!" The other soldier shoved him and nudged behind him, as if silently telling him not to act like an amateur. They both turned and slid open the metal gate with a pair of hand cranks.

    Look at that woman. Who is she?
    Are those wings?
    Is she a magical being?
    What can she expect to do?
    Why are they letting her through?

    The crowd began to bicker up a storm behind her, though she knew not what to do. Other than what she knew how to do. Tiana prayed this place would not be consumed in war as well, but if it must come to that, she would fight for these good people who only wanted to find peace from the warring world. She stepped forward through the gate and worked her way up a thinning tunnel to a darkened latch. The wheel was tight and firm as she turned it to the clinking of metal prongs releasing. It groaned open to the light of dawn and the sound of some kind of mechanical whirring overhead. There was an airship above, dropping large metal pods from its sides. The ones which had touch down had hatched open and a dozen fully armed soldiers had emerged from them. Each one and the same super soldiers she'd fought before, one to each pod. They stood a head taller than most, thick armor wrapped and attached to their body. Thick arms and legs bulged from the shell with a head covered in firmly attached armor. Each one wield some kind of auto weapon and swords most men couldn't handle with two hands. They called them Trolldon.

    Shit.

    She turned immediately and shouted back down the hole, "The empire is here! Muster your men! Muster your men!" It seemed they'd already learned of this, other hatches broke soil across the fields, revealing themselves. Long stretches of land, five feet wide and stretching across fields had dirt and grass fall beneath to reveal hidden trenches, lined with armed rebels. Then the scene exploded. Gunfire shredded across the fields, small projectile missiles punctured the pods and turned them into shrapnel. From above cannons began sounding off and explosions began streaming along their targets. Rays of spells shot down from above and even the empire soldiers were casting basic earth bound spells. Creating waves of soil to block incoming fire, others conjured fire out of thin air. No, these weren't typical empire forces. This wasn't meant to be a battle. This was an extermination crew.

    Tiana jumped from her position and gave her wings a few bats and soared through the air toward the nearest squad and put down three men in one furious swipe. Her feet skidded along the ground as she spun around, giving her wings another good bat and dashed toward the Trolldon. It turned and opened fire, its weapon fired fast and viciously but swept through the air and missed its target as she plunged her swords into its neck and tore its head clear off. She took to the sky again and dashed back toward the entrance she'd left from. A large group of soldiers had begun to swarm toward it, meeting live rounds which flung from unseen guns within the tunnel. Tiana swept down through the air and sheathed Redemption; with her free hand she held it palm out and muttered a spell. Beneath the soldiers, spikes jutted from the ground. Impaling many of them, but leaving too many still breathing. She spun in the air for another dive and a boom echoed across the sky, then a second, then a third.

    Above three airships had suddenly appeared, their hulls white hot and steam coursed off each of them.

    Where did those come from!? She continued on her dive toward the huddle and landed in their midst, both blades drawn and began carving a path back toward the entrance. One. Two. Three. Four. Six. Eight. Eleven. She dove toward the entrance and felt the ground beneath her shift. A wall of soil jumped up behind her and caught the volley of bullets being fired at her wake. The rebel soldier from earlier held his hands in place, his expression strained as he held the earthly shield.

    "We have to get back below! They have..." Her words were cut off by a siren which drowned out the gunfire. The troops outside retreated momentarily and all was still. Above the three ships had revealed a series of cannons from their lower hulls, each one had an intense glow of green, the tips popped and fizzled with immense energy. That's when it was over. The cannons opened fire and a hail of explosions consumed the underground network. Piercing deep into the ground, sending blasts through tunnels which would break the body by their shock wave. The empire troops well out of harms way stood back and watched as the ground collapsed in sections at a time. Tiana grabbed the rebel and made a burst down the hole. The rest retreated down, but to no avail. They hit the bottom and Tiana managed to wrap her wings around three others only to feel an intense heat and searing pain burst along her back and wings. Darkness followed as her body went limp, unconscious from the blow.

    It was mid day, bits of light trickled down through cracks in the earth above. The tunnel entrance remained, amazingly, intact. As for everyone in it, there were only burnt remains of charcoal flesh and ash. The three she'd managed to attempt to protect were dead as well. Though not charred entirely, the shock wave had killed each of them. Tiana opened her eyes and saw this, but only the rattling of her skull and ringing of her ears caught her attention. She knew they were dead before the blast even hit; she just wanted them to have one last moment of hope before it was stolen away. Standing up and nearly collapsing against the wall, Tiana edged her way back up the tunnel toward the mid day glow. When she emerged, only tears met her eyes as she collapsed to her knees. The smell of burnt flesh and earth filled her nose as tears batted away at the ashy soil below her. Why do I even feel this way anymore? Why is there any of this even left in me? These thoughts haunted her mind again and again, as they did before and as they did now.

    "If life... is just a joke. Then why? Why are any of us here?" Through a sobbing scratchy voice Tiana spoke to whatever would listen, even the nothing. "Wherever I go. Whatever I do. I just can't escape it, can I? Am I meant to see everything die? Day by day? We all come from dust and go back to dust, whether it be time or the weapons of now. Its just fucking dust. Just... dust."

    Silence now.

    It was an irritating silence.
     
  14. Home (open)
    Great and terrible things have ravaged the lives of this world. The war does not end, but only comes to a grind which sends the shards of glass flesh pouring into the soil. Before me I gazed upon a wonderful battlefield, full of turmoil, anguish and the sincere desire to vanquish life. Tufts of green compliment the scorched earth, broken flesh and tattered remains of countless lives. Small patrols swept the field in search of the living only to burn to the dead in great burning burials. Mounds of swords and firearms lay as relics, monuments to death and an endless struggle of clashing ideology. Above the great sun beats down on the tired necks of the living and the baking corpses of friend and foe. But there is no such term here, for they all rest as brethren in death. The cloudless sky would wish to weep, but only illuminates the darkened eyes of the dead.

    I walked along the beaten path, but not to mourn the dead. Instead to greet the finite stench which would soon be replaced by char and ash. I savored it.
    The wind rushing through trees brought a familiar feeling of a long lost innocence, but reminded me of only the changing tides of war. War I never wished to be part of, but a war I cannot escape. So far from home, I have traveled in search of an identity that I cannot distinguish. Thoughts of family and friend seep in, but I keep them at bay so my detached mind may better accept the causalities and loss which inevitably fall upon my already burdened mind. Though I know it is not just I who wears this frail mask, the men and women who fight for their cause surely have these darkened thoughts racing through their minds as well. Though many were but green under their uniforms collars the day before, those left surviving have been hardened in the hell like fires of battle. To many have had their hearts hardened now and I fear for the future of those who one day would fight for freedom, but the next would fight for something they can no longer distinguish.

    Tiana... do you find love in the battlefield?

    No, I would reply to the voice of the mind.

    Tiana... do you seek absolution?

    No, I would again reply.

    Tiana... do you even fight for anything? Or have you too lost your way?

    I had no reply to give other than to fall to my knees and sob as foreign emotion sweeps over me. A tremor passed through me as it has done before, yet I cannot find familiarity with this haze passing over my tired bones. This always happens, each time it's different. I question whether or not madness takes me further into its mouth, ready to digest my soul and conform it into a slab of anger, hate and insanity. Yet, again I sit on the lip of forever, staring out into the uncertain future which awaits me. These fields of slaughter have become to much for me.
    I have to leave now.
    Redford is dead, the captain who I looked to as a fellow being who too seems to suffer a deep affliction that his mortal heart could not sustain. Such an ominous man, he reminded me so much of my father. He stood tall as he did. He spoke wise as he did. He even knew how to sooth the mind with a graceful tongue, speaking comfort with his unusual use of words. I could not describe this man as a good man, but he was far from evil. Yet... I knew something cold manifested in his heart in his final days, as if he knew death were prying at his chest, attempting to make a final blow to his mortal frame.

    Tiana... it's time to go home.

    So I did.
    I traveled to the west, sometimes I'd see a place I thought I'd seen many years ago, but time has a funny way of warping both the land and the mind. Weeks passed by until I found myself at a small coastal city, nestled in a valley at the edge of a bay. The first serene place I'd seen for some time, seemingly untouched by the war. The people told a different story however. The young men and women of this town seemed to be in a shortage, the elder faces left were full of loss; whether it be that of a song, a daughter, a friend or a spouse. The war had spread and I questioned if the war had reached across the ocean back to home. When I left war had become a thing of the past, peace had settled in, but I know now that peace is but a precursor to something much more terrible.

    A trade ship to the Albion shore.
    I found my ticket home.
    But is it still my home?
     
  15. Not the home you left... (open)
    I have found my intentions again. A ship sails through the sea and land is called ahead. Home again. Home. Home... home... home...
    Somewhere I hadn't thought to return for nearly forty years. I've seen much from the foreign lands; war, famine and death contrasted against the magnificence of a long standing culture struggling to retain it identity. Yet I return to a place I may now be unfamiliar with. Qardo, it has been far to long since I have seen you my love. My friends, it has been far to long since I could look upon you and know your mind. It is not my first home, but it is a place I know as one. It brings shudders to my body and mind as I await to step foot on the old docks of the Albion bay. Under a drifting morning sun, drowned out by fog and a strange unfamiliar sense, blanketing the world as I could see it.

    The lighthouse still stands. This surprises me for some ambiguous reason I cannot define, knowing such an old relic still stands to guide passing ships from the night into the cradle of the dock. Maybe much of that old city still stands as I remember. We grew closer and I could see the glow of city lights through the thickening mist, it had grown over the decades. It was no longer the little town, still being fed from the cradle of a young kingdom. Had Midgar never attempted to claim the land in my absence? Was the royal family still in power? What of those I'd left behind? I know Garvin and Qardo still breath. One having the vampire blood which flows in my veins and the other cursed with long life. What of Njanju? What of Scila? What of Roland?

    Roland...

    I remember waking next to the corpse of the great mountain dragon, Roland had waited patiently despite the fear pulsing through his heart. He had told me that I held his destiny, for he had witnessed powers which had once been beyond his imagination. I told him of my past life, where I had once been. But this was deep within Kurast, far into the mountains, yet he said those some years ago he'd travel to Albion and find those who I'd left behind. I hadn't thought about it for so long. I wonder now if he'd ever reached these shores, much less find those he searched for. Roland, you saved my life in the most strange of circumstances, rather than declaring me a demon and penetrating my heart while my body rest.

    The dock bells tolled as the ship came to a slow crawl alongside the dock. The ships crew slowed the boat and began tying the ship off, I had already made my way from the side and drifted onto the deck, as if taking steps upon the fog. I could clearly see the docking house, it was far from what I remembered. When I'd left, it'd been nothing but a shack like structure; now a stone monolith, set to hold against strong waves and potential storms of the sea. Beyond that, the city had changed too. I could see higher walls of worn stone, slits of light poured from the wall and it's top, yet there was no flicker. The electric light had finally replaced the old magic lanterns which had once lined the cobblestone roads and low verandas. It had grown into a mature city after all this time, to greet me now as an elder in my life. I felt a certain sense of contentment wash over me, almost happy to see this place again. If anything however, I still felt the pain which had captured my body in this same place.

    Shaking my head and holding my thoughts where they belong, I stepped from the dock and felt the cold damp earth beneath my bare feet. This is where I found my joy, knowing I stood on familiar land and for the first time feeling home soil embrace feet, toes sinking into its fine muck. Yet, it was short lived. A visitor approached me, he bore a striking resemblance to somebody I knew, but I couldn't seem to place their face.

    "You are, Tiana Koul are you not?" He was young a young Elf who bore unusual features of a human yet, he possessed something neither inherently had. "Miss? You are Tiana Koul, yes?"

    "I am. But you have the blood of a vampire in your veins. Who sends you to me?" Her words felt like they were meant for an old friend rather than a fresh acquaintance.

    "My name is Cirush, son of Garvin the Hunter." I should have seen it. He's almost the spitting image of Garvin, down to the curvature of his nose and eyes; even his hones seemed to be a copy. "He sensed you coming Miss Koul..."

    "Tiana." She hastily replied.

    "Apologies Tiana. But I have been sent to guide you, however..." He seemed to almost disappear, though Tiana's senses had only sharpened with time. "We must make sure you are the Tiana Koul remembered..."

    From a distance she felt something faint draw toward her with great velocity. With but a quick movement, a large caliber bullet raced by her head and she caught sight of the flash through the fog. In an instant she flew toward the source, managing to dodge two more rounds on the way as she drew her left sword, Reconciliation. Landing on her target, she pressed the hilt against an unfamiliar throat as he chin pressed into a cold wet forehead.

    "You have one chance to give me a reason not too..."

    "I'm Jay! JAY! Qardo's son!"

    Startled Tiana jumped back and stared with wide eyes as the boy. No older than his late teens, a tall lanky boy lay on his back and toward his front a large rifle sat, fixed to the soil.

    Qardo's... son?
     
  16. Another calm and another storm... (open)
    Roughly fifty years does quite the number on the mortal mind. This goes double for those aware that their lifespan will only be ended by a violent death or living long enough, ones mind falls into the abyss and finds a twisted insane form of happiness deep within the hollow recess' of their mind. Staying away so long, but was I ever really ever disconnected? I'd thought about them often enough, but something in me beckoned my soul to far away lands; it changed something deep within, yet I cannot differentiate what it is. Was it my memories of an old life? The ones which sent me down the cold murderous path those I pushed my revenge upon had taken beforehand? Or some deep seeded desire to bestow loss upon others where I had lost so much?

    Fifty years ago, after the fall of Midgar I left these lands. So much trauma and too little life seeped into my weary bones, I only wished to escape.
    Escape I did, only to another hell like plane across the ocean.

    Yet I return and stare into the eyes of change, in this case the eyes of a lost loves son. I felt my heart wish to erupt, instead I pushed it and held it back, keeping that flooding feeling deep within my now churning gut. I knew it had been long enough, yet... I felt I deserved an answer, though I know I didn't. We had moved on with out little lives, unaware of what was to soon come. Damnit! I curse myself again for returning, I should have spent the rest of my eternity deep within the mountains until I'd withered into dust. But what would that achieve other than a lonely existence? Instead, I tread on, my curse a terrible weight; like chains stretching into the deep ocean, tearing the skin they wrap around and leaving sores open to the void of the world.

    Yet I felt a longing to still see him again; to see all of them again.

    Leave now. You have nothing here, just leave.

    No! I must return! I must know! So much I have yet to learn, so much I want to know and experience! I want to find joy, happiness and love again! For I have only known the darker ways of life for so long, as if evading a light filled corridor which had remained omnipresent in my mind, yet secluded to but a small fraction. Yet, outside the mind my body cannot elude itself. I have become mired in scars, as if a walking field of slaughter, evidence of the war one inflicts not only upon an enemy, but upon themselves. Fighting for what? Life? Freedom? Beauty? I question if those I fought for once will become the very tyrannical masters they once sought to extinguish... am I but a fleshy tool of curse that has been wielded in plights that shouldn't have been my own? Wait, when did I last fight for myself?

    Fifteen years before...

    I was part of a small patrol at the time. We moved through the wilderness undetected, acting as a flank to quickly undermine heavily fortified cannons and machine gun emplacements. I still hate guns. They hurt to much, though they never kill me. Hot lead, it sears small bits of flesh while others stay in my fragmented bones which defy to break. I was yet known as a great warrior, or at least to my knowledge. Yet, at night I'd hear the faint conversations between greenhorns. They'd speak of the winged lady, blessed by the Valkyries. Though I would not presume, I knew they spoke of myself.

    "She'd glide through the air and strike them!"
    "She's invincible!"
    "Quiet, here she comes..."


    I never said a word of it, for I knew it gave some of them hope. In my eyes however, I only saw many deaths of others but only my own slow death which never came. Once again today, I would see more of it, more souls torn before their time. For today, I saw Captain Redford die. Consumed in a fiery explosion, only his revolver which he'd left in my care remained of his personal possessions upon the field of battle. I heard him scream in that bunker... I heard every last echo, between rushing fire, crackling skin and a pain stricken shriek from one of the greatest men I'd known. I'm unsure if he ever knew, but I saw him as a father. Stern yet soft, as if he saw within the minds of those around him and knew how to comfort with but a few soft spoken words; words which came from a solemn place in the heart that many reserve for a select few. But the captain...

    It was one of the last times I allowed my heart to give into the beautiful exquisite rage which had fueled my soul before and I knew nothing but destruction for but a moment. Within the hour, I'd done more than was necessary. Every nerve screamed in agony as I found myself pressing my chest against the cold stone of a deep bunker wall. My skin covered in mud and blood, my hair mangled and matted and my steel even seemed to tire for once. I counted that day. I counted every soul I took as I slew my way into that damned keep. Three-hundred and forty-seven in one hour. That wasn't counting how many may have died when I turned one of the cannons onto the keep and fired the loaded volley. All I could think about was my own selfish desires; I wanted Redford back more than anything, but no matter how many I killed, it would mean little. At the end of that day, I stayed in the keep in the back of the throne, upon the fallen commanders seat of now powerless reign. My path was easy enough to follow for the others to find me; they simply had to follow the decapitated, the eviscerated and the limbless.

    Yet, I was seen as a hero for these people.
    In my reflection, I saw only a butcher; yet I persisted on, giving these people hope where I had none...

    Back to the present...

    "So, I may presume you to be Jay Solo then?" She glared at Jay with vicious eyes, lost in thought but well aware of her surroundings. "Garvin, I know you're here as well. We're connected, you know this as well as I do."

    The lanky Elf seemed to pull himself out of thin air to Jay's right. He had hardly changed over the years, though he seemed to have built a bit of a muscle tone, he remained the lanky young Elf Tiana had met all those years ago, apart from being turned into a demon vampire by Tiana not but a few days after their meeting.

    "Tiana, I felt your presence draw near yet, you were keeping yourself hidden from me." It wasn't distrust in his voice, but more an odd bit of sarcasm between two old friends.

    "Well a woman must keep her secrets. You on the other hand don't leave yourself hidden very well at all." Before either one of them could reply, "We're going to Q's tavern, now. I haven't been here for fifty years and the first thing which happens is Qardo's son fires a high caliber bullet by my head, in which case..." She yanked the weapon off the ground, ripping it's bipod from the soil and stone, "I FUCKING HATE GUNS!"

    Jay recoiled in fear and covered his head, awaiting for her to strike him. Instead she dropped the rifle back onto the ground and turned toward the city gate from the docks, "The city has changed. Jay? Would you be a kind young gentleman and show an old woman the way?"

    Jay presented a confused look on his face, for Tiana didn't look a day over thirty, despite the scars. Garvin gave him a nudge, as if telling him to play along.

    "Yes! Yes ma'am! Right this way!" He scuffled to his feet, propping the rifle of his shoulder and paced ahead to lead the way, leaving Garvin and Tiana side by side.

    "So Tiana, it's been a long time, you've been so far away. Yet, I cannot read much off you." Garvin eyed the massive scar which drew from the top of her left ear down to the top of her cloak, it was rigid, like nothing he'd seen before.

    "That was from a dragon." Tiana abruptly stated.

    "I'm sorry?"

    "Garvin, I can still see in your head much easier than you can see mine. I'll tell you all about what I've done and seen, but first, we see Q at the tavern."
     
  17. It was never easy for any of us... (open)
    It had all changed. The once small town had grown a bit when I'd left, but now it'd become a bustling hub of trade upon the Albion shores. Yet there was an absence of ships in the main harbor, apart from where the ship of my arrival had landed. Well past dusk, the city had slowly become near silent. Only the faint muffled sounds thousands of souls echoed through thin alleys between tall tenement like structures. The smell of old dinner lingered in the air, a particular musk this city still held as it did in the old days. Now however, it had become cold stone and cemented pathways. It had once been gravel and dirt which led around the towns winding paths, comforting wooden hovels and warm looking business' and homes. Now the sky show a blue hue upon the city, complimented by soft orange glows behind egg dyed curtains. This unsettled Tiana, for it was to eerily similar to some of the Kurast cities. They become cold and full of something darker and rigid. Yet, out of the winding city streets she saw a familiar site. The curved Masque Entrance fountain which sat opposite to the still standing tavern; though the elements had age it's hull, it remained the trusted and comforting site Tiana had once gazed upon as a stranger all those years ago.

    "Cirush, Jay... you both are to stay outside." Turning to see the two young men she couldn't help to ask, "Exactly how old are you... boys?"

    Jay, insulted by the question shot back, "I'm twenty-three lady! And I'll have you know..." He was cut short as the tavern door shot open, Tiana's heart skipped a beat and Cirush quickly hushed Jay away.

    There he was, she couldn't forget him. It was as if he'd hardly aged, that Southern blood. Long life they said, she knew it to be true, but to witness it, to gaze upon it and bring one such a range of emotion. She only could step toward Qardo and slap him. No words, not even a flinch toward her after all this time, not even with a greeting in the form of a firm slap. Yet, his eyes spoke more than he could ever have; as if he'd seen a ghost, yet great relief seemed to envelope him. With a soft smile through an aged face he motioned her inside, escorting her toward the bar.

    "So, it's been nearly fifty years." His voice had become harder compared to Tiana's memory, "I'd always wondered exactly what trouble you'd be gettin' into out there. I hear the Kurast Civil War ended about a year or so ago. Though news travels slowly across the pond, however..." He pulled a pile of old bills, the foremost had large bold black print reading, "Savior! Winged Lady leads the 3rd March! Rebellion in Kurast overthrows regime!" She read on, surprised that any news of her would ever make it halfway around the world. She flipped to the next document and saw one of the few photographs she'd ever seen. It was... her. It was at the battle of Dom Plains in Western Kurast. She'd no idea there was anyone who'd captured her photo there, much less on the battlefield. Yet, there she was gliding in the air, swords drawn and wings spread wide. "You've been busy, fighting other peoples wars?"

    "That was one of many things I'd done whilst travelling. One thing led to another and as fate would have it." She pursed her lips together as Qardo slid a pair of shot glass' toward her. "Listen, it's been such a long time and..."

    "Don't worry, he's not actually my son. I picked the kid up on the side of the road, found him bound and gagged to the side of a tree. Seemed some slavers didn't want a runt kid, so they left him for dead." His attention toward the concoction of drinks didn't break in the least, "But I decided to raise him as my own." He let out a hearty laugh, "That boy, oh... that boy has given me some trouble." Pausing he looked Tiana dead in the eyes, "I made a vow quite a number of years ago to a beautiful young woman I'd fallen in love with. Though that same woman returns scarred and hardened, I can still see that same young soul trapped behind those lovely green eyes." He poured the shots without looking, overfilling them both.

    "Qardo, I..."

    "Shot! Shot first then we'll talk."

    A few hours later...

    The tavern had cleared out, only the tall gruff Qardo and the scarred angelic Tiana remained, reminiscing about years past. There was to much time to truly share in words, yet they seemed to communicate as if they'd seen each-other the day before. Passing stories of woe and wonder back and forth that many men would die to experience. Tales of armies and dragons passed from Tiana and songs of the city and old friends passed from Qardo. Red in the face and slurring her words, Tiana stood from the bar stool, knocking halfway across the room.

    "...then Roland, get this ma-madness... rolls under the vehicle and grips its *hic* underside while I... I... while I was flying overhead! *hic* If he'd not hid *hic* that guy woul' of been charcoal!" She stumbled around the bar in an obvious attempt to fall into Qardo who still seemed fairly sober. "Listen *hic* I'ma so... sorry." Wrapping her arms around his large chest, Tiana pressed her ear against his breast, "I had to... I had to leave..."

    "There there Tiana. I knew then what I still know now. There is something you've had to fight everyday of your life since the demon blood and..."

    "NO! No... it's not jus' that... *hic* ...I loved you, I... loved you so much but... Qardo... look at me. As I was... then, as I *hic* am now. I became a monster..." Her words became heavy with sleep as Qardo tucked his arm under her legs and back and cradled her as a babe in his arms.

    "Tiana. What happened to all of us..." He watched as light tears streamed down her oh so tired face, "...we all became monsters for what we've done." He sat, tears welling in his tight blue eyes as he studied Tiana's now sleeping state, "More than I think you'll ever know." He sniffled lightly, looking up to see Garvin peering over the bar counter with relieved look plastered on his face.

    "I think this may be a bit more draining than she thought." Garvin remarked, "Put the little lady to bed. We've got some unfinished business to take care of before... well, before we tell her about Tias." Qardo nodded and took her to one of the empty rooms upstairs, leaving her steel at the beds edge and a heavy wool over her bare skin. Sleep well.


    One month prior...

    The kings library, as any morning, Tias had found a use in this realm, despite age finally catching up with his once immortal bones. He climbed down from a high shelf, two large tomes under his arms only to meet a strangely familiar woman, cloaked in pearl white, contrasting against her strangely pale skin. Only a pair of full pink lips escaped the shadow of the hood. Tias looked upon her in confusion and then was struck by laughter, "Tiana! Is... is that really you?" He turned to place the tomes upon the lower case when a long thin blade pierced his body. Tias reached around and mustered what magic he could and broke the blade. He spun around and fired a full force of darkness in the woman's face, sending her flying across the library, toppling cases as she came to a crash.

    "WOMAN!" He bellowed, his voice filled the room with remarkable force, "Do not underestimate one such as myself! I may have aged in this world, but I have tread millennium of darkness in the underworld! Tiana, you dare strike me!?" He burst forward like a fog and wrapped his hand around her hidden throat and ripped her hood back, "Answer me! Tiana! ANSWER ME!"

    "I am not this person you speak of, fool sorcerer." In a flash she severed Tias' right hand and tossed it to the side, leaving Tias reeling in pain and confusion. "I do not know who you mistake me for, but I come for the Orb Relic, the Poseidon. You have it in your possession, for it is not in the grave of Tyronous."

    Tias' eyes widened, "You dare defile the grand master's resting place!? Who are you!? Why must you seek such an old relic!?"

    "It doesn't matter who I am." She stepped forward, brushing her hair back. She looked just like her, yet her eyes seemed to have a paler shade of green. "Nor does it matter to you why I seek the Poseidon, you are the one who shall tell me, even if I must extract it from your blood."

    A blood mage!? No, I sense no dark magics of her... then what is she? Tias' mind raced as he slowly mustered magical energies in his remaining hand. "Then tell me this, if I must divulge me secrets against my will; how is it a being of no magical energy could withstand such a blast of energy?"

    "I will answer your meaningless question." She dropped the cloak and revealed a magnificent set of the most peculiar white wings. Like no feather Tias had witnessed in any other realm, much less the mortal realm. There were two sets of wings, yet there not that of a demon or any angel he'd seen either. "I know what you think, Tias. I am no vampire, nor am I a blood mage. I have been given a gift which came with great pain. She stepped forward, clad in white leather armor over a transcendent like body, "I am a creation with but one purpose. Right now? That purpose... is finding the Poseidon." With that she moved with unnatural speed and sent her teeth deep within Tias' neck.

    I see it Tias. I see the Orb. I see...

    She screamed and jumped back from Tias' who now lay dying, blood hemorrhaged from his neck profusely. Her face marked with horror as Tias' blood now ran within her own.

    "Fool girl." He spat with weak lungs, "You know not what twelve thousand years looks like, do you? Or maybe... yes, you saw her. You saw..."

    There was a loud impact, she'd drawn a sword and cleaved Tias' skull in half, the look of pure horror had yet to retract from her face, with that Njanju and Qardo came rushing into the library only to go pale, seeing Tiana's double give a strong jolt to her wings and crash through the library windows. Tias' lay dead and this woman had escaped.

    "Q? That... that looked just like her." Njanju barely moved his lips, his face had gone white from shock. "But... she looked like she hadn't aged a day."

    "It wasn't her." Qardo firmly responded, "Not quite. But now we may never know what happened here. Those answer lay with him." He eyed Tias' corpse. Once a sorcerer who'd trapped himself for a short eternity in Hell and escaped with the promise of a new life, now lie dead and the answers with him.
     
  18. Doppelganger (open)
    The warmth of daylight crept across her pillow and upon her cheek. Enough to stir Tiana from a sound sleep, being awoken as she had so long ago. Propping herself up and staring through the window, Tiana watched as the city had already awoken. Vendors carts had set up around the fountain, the doors of shops and homes had opened to the day and the sound of joyful voices seemed to resound around the streets. It had been too long since Tiana had awoken to such a delicate scene, it was one which had brought her a bit of happiness. Contemplating now why she ever left in the first place, she knew her decisions were necessary, even as things seem to have gone. Stepping from bed she realized she'd been partially undressed; possibly Qardo acting out of some affection, looking to show his undying support in the simplest of acts. She left her leather draped over the beds edge and pulled her blouse on, fiddling with the leather straps under her wings.

    She made her way downstairs to a surprise, the tavern door remained closed and not a soul other than her was in the building. Was this normal operation these days for Q or was there something else going on? She stepped out and began on her way toward the castle. Despite the years, she knew there would be those who were aware of her past deeds in service to the kingdom. However, as she approached the castle things began to take a turn. Excessive guards on one man posts, the same went for the foyer of the castle where she was stopped.

    "Lords orders, no civilians are to be permitted beyond this point without the Viscount, Guard Captain or the Lords orders!" These words were barked in traditional fashion by a fully clad guard leading to the throne room, "However you... you... you!" He immediately dropped to one knee and spread his arms wide in recognition, "I, I... I am sorry my lady Koul! We'd been informed of your arrival... I just... I'd never..." He began stuttering as if he'd been on the job for one day, apparently Tiana's name carried more weight here than she knew.

    "Koul! Koul!" A rather heavy set man in green and black robes seemed to glide across the throne floor toward her and the guard, "I am Viscount Mandri, assistant to Count Flores and underling of Lord Nacht the Second. We met many years ago, but I was but a small lad. But you! I could never forget the Battlemaiden of Albion!" He smiled with the utmost respect, almost jubilant to be in her presence, "However, I must take you immediately to the king, your presence will be unexpected, though I imagine they shall greet you none-the-less." He motioned for her to follow as he continued to glide across the throne room. "Come come, the king is in the library."

    She followed to be met with construction and many sour faces. The room seemed to hold a certain sense about it, one that sunk into Tiana in a peculiar way. Stacks of ruined books lined the walls as various crews set up fresh shelves, across from her the king and Qardo sat with serious looks upon their faces, the expressions turned to concern as Tiana approached.

    "My lady Koul!" King Nacht stood and Qardo spun around surprised to see her here, "We were not expecting you so soon. Come, sit with us. There is much to discuss." The tone of his voice was shaken, despite the facade of a strong king. She knew something was amiss, something was missing.

    "Tiana, there have been some recent events you should be aware of." Qardo kept his eyes glued to hers, "You're arrival here is timely."

    "What happened here?" A confused Tiana questioned as she sat, "It looks like there was a scuffle in here." They both grew quiet and exchanged glances, "Qardo? What has happened?"

    "I am not sure how to tell you my lady, but there was a murder here nearly a month ago. Tias was..." The king trailed off for a moment, "...he was slain here by what we believe to be an assassin. Prior to this, the grave of Tyronous had been ravaged."

    She was in disbelief, her jaw almost dropped in horror to the news and she remained speechless.

    "I could not tell you last night," Qardo spoke up, "It seemed more than you could bear at the time."

    "And what makes you think this news comes as any less of a shock now!?" She spat back, "How could you not have told me such a travesty!?"

    "Because the killer was mistaken for you." Nacht responded, "You're arrival last night caused my highest guard to stir about quite a bit. We were unsure if the killer had returned or if it was truly you."

    She felt her heart rumble in her chest and her guts had a deep sinking feeling take place. Mistook the killer for me? She thought, But I have not stepped foot in Albion for decades...

    "I can see you're troubled by this information, however we've reason to believe a doppelganger may have been attempting to frame you. However, sources have told us that you were on a ship headed from a small port in Kurast nearly a month ago. I do apologize that we've kept an eye on your actions as of late." He cleared his throat, "But there is a matter of greater importance. An old relic called the Poseidon, it is an ancient orb given to this kingdom many centuries ago. It was stolen two days ago, we belief by the same perpetrator who murdered Tias and ravaged Tyronous' grave."

    "What must we do then?" Tiana spoke up, "Do we know anything else?"

    Qardo glanced back toward her. Always ready for something new. I should've known. "Yes Tiana. It is believed this person is hiding out at an old ruin in the Western forest, I think you know what place I speak of..."

    Tiana's eyes widened, for there were only a select few ruins left standing in the forests. She'd been only to two of them, one of which contained a series of catacombs, a place known as the 'Dracus Abyss' to locals, to others it was known as a death trap. "You speak of Dracus, don't you?"

    "Yes. Some of the woodsmen reported a pale winged woman clad in dyed white armor skulking about the ruins. However, there is something that was known only to the royal family about that place."

    "What, that there's a time gate deep within the catacombs pit?" She retorted with sarcasm, "We've been to that place once before. I know of it's secrets."

    "It is no time gate." A light elvish voice interrupted, "Not like the one we encountered. With the Poseidon orb, it opens up to a very specific place in time, held in place by a very powerful magic only the orb can locate."

    They turned and saw Garvin approaching, clad in green as any typical Elf, besides the vampire blood which ran through his veins, he still held his elvish sway about him. He continued, "I surveyed the ruin early this morning, the assassin is still there; however, I think she may be anticipating company and it's not us." He placed his hands on the table with force, "There is something stirring under that place, darker than it should be. Tiana, I thought we'd destroyed the magic seals in that place?"

    "No Garvin, we only hindered them. It was enough to keep the forest from rotting around the ruin, but we did not possess the power then to destroy the magic, only enough to wound it."

    Qardo stood and cracked his back, "Well then, I think we already know what we must do." He had a grimace across his aged gruff face, "You're hardly here a day and we go back to the usual little adventures."

    "Well Q, I wouldn't say any of our tales were little."

    Meanwhile, deep within the Western forest...

    The pale assassin steadily paced back and forth in the darkness, aided by only the faint velvet glow of little magic orbs floating around here for illumination. She grew impatient, as if waiting for something notable to occur. She eyed the slowly spiraling mass of energy contained between two spires, it seemed that something was stirring within the mass of magic. Just a little longer now and he'll be here... just a bit longer...

    "Monika?" A sturdy male voice came from the darkness and the pale assassin dropped to one knee, "Ah, good. You've retrieved the orb." A mans silhouette seemed to contrast against the darkness, as if the darkness around him emanated with such ferocity, the sheer absence of light gave him form, "They will be here soon. They know of this place, most importantly... she will be here soon."

    "Yes my master, but why is it she must be the one I must lure? Could she not best me in battle?"

    "Ah she easily could, but her mind will be against her. For you see, she knows both of us. Yet she is unaware of our continued existence. Though I would not want anything to terrible to come of such a fine being, she must be a tool in this scheme; and you shall be the craftsman who shall grip that tool to your will Monika." The figure stepped forward, his face chiseled and jaw like stone, he stood tall with a certain posture. "She will know my name. She mourned me twice now, now all that is left is to break her will for but a third time."
     
  19. Monsters and Men (open)
    The Western forest of Albion had become an ancient place, avoided by many save for the daring or possibly insane. Nearly seven hundred years beforehand an old Elvish empire had stretched across half the continent, now only littered fragments spot the countryside and the deep chasms of the boundless forests. More so are the creatures which have lurked in these places, spawned from old forgotten magic left by ancients. Even now, it is unknown as to why the Elvin empire had ever fallen and had retreated back to the Southern woods. History claims there had been a cataclysmic event which affected much of the populace; whether it had been disease, famine or some force beyond the control of even the immortal Elf kind. During this time, humankind had been secluded to the shores of today's war torn Kurast.

    Over the past century, explorers of various races have set out into the wilderness, in search of evidence to support why and what happened so long ago. Others searched for treasures and bounties, but many searched in vain, only to fall into an inevitable death. Seventy years ago, four had set out to a particular ruin known to the Albion kingdom, having been only a few dozen miles off the forest bounds. They had been seeking an elder demon which had been blighting the farmlands and water sources in hopes to raise an army of ruin; this plan had failed due to these heroes, though as before and as many other trials which followed, it scarred these would be heroes with sights that could never be forgotten. Now again, many years later, three of them return to the darkened forests in search of a new threat; though a different agenda followed as well, a thirst for vengeance for the death of an old friend Tias, a human demon who had been made frail upon his return to the mortal realm.

    Garvin, Qardo and Tiana, the trio had set out a day prior after discussing what must be done. Tiana, having been away for nearly fifty years, seemed to sink right back into the same adventures she'd embarked on before with these same people. Those she knew she could rely on, those she knew would always trust her. Though in the light of recent happens, doubt had settled in Garvin's heart. The doppelganger, the look alike, the one who bore an uncanny resemblance to Tiana. He kept his thoughts deep and hidden, for the connection between he and Tiana had never diminished, though the two had learned well to not pry into each others minds. Not necessarily out of trust, but in fear of what the other may find hidden away in the furthest reaches of the mind. For they'd both seen horrors in this world they would gladly face so that the many men and women of this world would never have to face such endearing atrocities and madness.

    What was to come however, was further beyond what they could have ever imagined. Yet, she knew something. A tingle in the back of the throat and a heavy groan within her chest, there was something approaching in time which would forever change not only their world, but test the bonds of these friends to an unimaginable level.

    "Ahead Tiana..." Garvin relayed his thoughts, "Qardo should not follow. I don't think his body can sustain itself in this place as it once could."

    "He will follow, no matter the cost Garvin. We both are well aware of this." Keeping her eyes forward, focused on the objective at hand, "He knows magics as well as we do. If things go south however, well; we've faced terrible odds before, have we not?"

    Garvin felt his heart sink as the ruins came into view beyond the myriad sea of undergrowth and darkened skies. There they were, the unnamed ruins of the Western forest. The years had steadily worn away at this place. Though it'd not changed much since the last time they'd ventured here, the ages had continued to file away with the elements upon the ancient stones and pathways. The entrance remained as darkened as before, both an absence of light and the presence of dark magic continued to serve as a warning to those willing to brave its depths. Qardo stepped forward, being unusually silent for this trip and made a few gestures with his hands; three orbs of light lifted from his chest and began moving around like well lit fireflies.

    "We must make this quick," He started, "I don't want to remain here any longer than we have to." His expression had grown grim, discontented with his surroundings or maybe the darkness below. Either which way, this unsettled Garvin and Tiana as well as they exchanged glances of concern.

    The path was long and dark, winding deeper into the cold earth. The ambient sound of running water deeper within the labyrinth and small bursts of wind shown signs of this places slow decomposition. There were newer entrances made by nature, this meant other creatures may stir in the darkness as well. Yet, as their journey continued downward, not a single creature was to be seen or even sensed. The concern grew in Garvin, he knew it wasn't right. Something was keeping the beasts of the forest away, even trolls would normally settle in such a place, yet a troll was not easily swayed by the presence of magic.

    Tink. Tink. Tink.

    "What was that?" Qardo halted in the front of the group, "I hear metal on metal."

    Tink. Tink. Tink.

    "We grow closer, I sense an energy hiding itself down here." Garvin replied, "I think something knows we're coming." He fixed his eyes on Tiana's, "Be ready. You may not like what you see."

    "What will I see Garvin?" Tiana's thoughts focused on him, "Should I look for something in that Elvish mind?"

    He stopped and stared with a bit of anger at Tiana. "This is no time for that."

    Tink. Tink. Tink. Tink. Tink.

    "I grow impatient waiting." A male voice resonated through the underground tunnels. "Come, we've much to do in such a limited time, Tiana."

    Garvin and Qardo halted and gave Tiana a glare, "Who is that? Do you know this person?"

    In Tiana's mind, she knew the voice better than she could admit. But it was impossible... it was as if two memories jumped at her with lightning speed, threatening to tear through and reveal themselves. But that voice... it was him. But it was... impossible, it would have to be impossible. Why hadn't she seen it before? She rushed forward past the two, desperate to find the source of this mysterious voice. They followed, the light of Qardo's spell barely keeping up with their pace. Suddenly the darkness grew and even the spell of light could not stop it, the walls seemed to close in and then it was as if they'd spawned into a large chamber. It was like a massive sphere they stood in, across an old time gate sat silent. The three could remember destroying the gate nearly seventy years ago, yet it seemed to be rebuilt but lacked any energy.

    "Good, you've arrived." A shadowy man spoke from behind the gate, stepping out, leaving his body still hard to make out, "It has been awhile Tiana, as for your friends, I am glad to meet the fool pariah prince and castdown Elf. Ah and if it isn't one of the few fire mages left in all the world, Qardo. Well then, I think this is only between two of us. Monika, please show the two male companions here out."

    The doppelganger leaped from the shadows behind the trio and gripped Qardo and Garvin's shoulders tightly and they vanished. Even the link between Garvin and Tiana seemed to dissipate entirely.

    "So Tiana." The figure began stepping toward her, "You know me and I know you. Yet, you know me much better than you'd imagine. Ah, but it seems you finally see me for who I once was, not as you knew me in Kurast." His face seemed to draw out of the darkness and Tiana's heart seemed to give out for a moment. Redford.

    "But... I watched you die! I saw you die in fire!" She shouted in almost certain fear.

    "You have seen me in flames once before, have you not?" His reply seemed to unlock distant memories she'd not connected to for some time, "Think back to home. Not Albion, but your first home."

    No! No... no...

    She found herself in the field again, the field she'd known as a child. Covered in red rose petals, a small home nestled in the middle of the great valley, a village burning behind her and a dead man with roses place upon his bloodied and beaten corpse. The body began turning into cinder as the scene before her turned into an inferno. Home. She remembered it to clearly, as if it were a memory which had replayed and replayed for a century, becoming more vivid with each relapse. Sounds of scratching and screaming surrounded her, the voice of her father fighting unarmed against iron clad evil men. His voice... this voice... that voice...

    No.

    "I have bartered with something beyond death twice now, but only to achieve the same goal. As fate would have it, I would meet you two times before my mission would be complete. Though it was not so in my life far before death. I once had a loving daughter, innocent and beautiful in a fathers eyes. Only to be taken and raped before my bound and bloodied self, that was when death seeped into my very pores and soul. It was there, I made a deal with something. For in my last moments, I damned everything I once knew, for at the time I thought it had all been gone. I gave everything up to live again, yet many years had passed when I was given a new body and placed on a distant battlefield. I had been given the identity of a captain and an objective to complete, yet I still retained my memory. Whether it be the will of a divine god or sheer chance, I saw my daughter transformed. She'd grown into a strong vibrant woman, yet this same woman carried a weight far greater than any mortal. The blood of a demon flow within her veins, tormented by images every night she'd awake from slumber in cold sweat. Yes, I watched. I kept an eye on my only daughter, but soon enough the time came when I was to fall back into sleep again, only to be returned to this world for my final task. Yet again, I must embrace my past and see that my daughter comes to bear the full weight of her actions and the actions of others." He finished speaking, only to see Tiana filled with anger and sadness indivisible. She gripped her swords yet could not find the will to draw them.

    I don't understand... why? Why... why? "WHY!? Why would you become this!?" Her screaming questions filled the chamber, only to be snuffed out in echo.

    "And why must my daughter succumb to the madness of this world!? A monster! A killer! Yet a hero to many and a bringer of death to others!? You look to me and scream for poetic justice, unable to imagine innocence corrupted? Yet you cannot look at yourself and see your own mortal coil tainted by the blood of thousands!?" His words grew fierce, as if a foul magic carried them upon her ears, "I thought I lost everything and when I knew this not to be true, I accepted my fate and continued on with the task handed to me! But you! You deny fate! You fight it as every turn Tiana! Always poor Tiana, always so caught up in your own disjointed thoughts of the atrocities of war and how low you think you are!" He rose his hands and clenched them together, Tiana felt his grip and felt her flesh and bones resist only so much, "But it doesn't matter now. I am no longer the father you knew, 'nor are you the daughter I left in death. Come now, for your energy is the energy required."

    A small pink orb drifted from his sleeves and hovered between the two, it was then Tiana felt her very life seem to funnel from her body. She fought, yet this force... it was unlike anything she'd experienced. It robbed her of strength and magic as her vision blurred. Please... Her mind whimpered and struggled for her lips to move, Please... still nothing, "Please..." Her voice was nothing but a small crack of wind upon a gale like storm.

    Oh father, I beg of you, I must know; why do we all become monsters in the end...
     
  20. Isolation in Thought (open)
    The bond between family can be said to be unbreakable. In this case, the bond has gone past the realms of death, time and space. What does one do when the horrors of life catch up in the form of a previously loved one? When they bare the resemblance and memories of one, yet they willingly and subjectively forgo all that which had once been good in their life; does one still know the fine line in morality, or does on fall into the substantial pit we know as self loathing? Or maybe, something further from that; something no mortal mind should ever bare.

    Tiana awoke nude and alone, her skin seemed to burn against the cool air and eyes dried from strain. She felt around in the darkness, only tattered remains of her garments seemed to remain, until her hands met a soft clink, muffled by tough leather. Her steel sisters had yet to abandon her, as for everything else seemed to have been burned away by a foul magic. Hello!? She called out into the darkness, with no reply. She couldn't sense Garvin, 'nor could she sense the magical energies of the forest or the ruins. Had she been moved? She stood, shivering in the dark place. Hello!? Is anyone there!? She called again, still to no avail. She let out a whimper of pain, as if a fierce pressure pressed down on her chest. The last thing she remembered was him, Redford, the man she once knew as a father. But... how? How could this be? How could fate be so damned cruel to play such a deviant trick upon her soul and senses? HELLO!? HELLO!? She bellowed into the dark, not even an echo met her ears.

    Damnit, this cannot be real. This must be a nightmare I have fallen into... No, I know that not to be true. Yet...

    A sudden noise in the distance, rock grinding upon rock. The sound of earth shifting against itself. She remained still, unable to see she made use of her senses, yet this place seemed to deny this. The sound became drowned out and silence peeled back into place. She plopped back down onto the hard rock and pulled her swords close to her chest. She wished everything would just go away. It was becoming to difficult; this weight of life. Was it true? Did her own self pity send her down this very path she had taken so long ago? Isn't that how it all started? The desire to show others she was worth more than a burden? She wanted to be a savior to those who had helped her so she may no longer be in their debt; it wasn't until after she set out on this journey that her dissolved past began to reconstruct itself. Memories slowly poured in as to who and what she used to be. She had already become a killer, set out for revenge on those who killed her father, burned her village and raped her younger body. She sacrificed her innocence without ever giving a single thought to it. So why now? Why after an unnaturally long life, nearly ninety years after the fact did she finally encounter the physical remains of the past?Did the divine gods play tricks on her, had she been a pawn?

    She felt the divine instruments in her hands, pressed against her breast; they still seethed with beauty of the divine Freya, yet they had become a part of Tiana. She needed them, for they too had taken on part of her own weight. She thought about how many she killed with these blades. Hundreds? Possibly thousands? For what? What purpose did her journey ever truly have? She'd fought a war she wasn't part of, she'd seen and fought creatures of great power and had even summoned beasts to fight good good intentions. Was it all for naught? Did these actions have no meaning? Why would these things be for naught?

    The questions spiraled through her mind as time passed. Was it hours or had it been days now? Sitting in the darkness, wallowing in despair.

    Oh poor girl.

    "Not right now. Leave me be."

    Haha! You sit here in your helplessness. The fates deny you! They laugh and mock you! Such treachery...

    "No! I have done much for this world! My friends I have fought for! Those I have met in my travels; they fought for life and love and..."

    LIES! You jest yourself fool!

    "And what do you know of this? Hmm!?"

    Fool girl. What of those you fought? Did they not have a belief? Did they not sacrifice themselves to achieve something greater?

    "Of course! But--..."

    Murderer! Butcher!

    "I've done what must be done! I have fought and lived for what I believe!"

    What? Vengeance? Despair? That is what you have wrought.

    "If I hadn't, those who sinned against me would've never paid!"

    So it is a selfish desire?

    "No!"

    Denial. You forget yourself. You befriended those so called friends so long ago so that you could find the ones who ordered your home to be burned.

    "That was something that... that happened along the way. I could not let those who saved me fall!"

    So it was. You would not be in debt to them either?

    She attempted to close out the voice, but it was no longer that old whisper, it was growing into a malicious cancer in her mind. So many things were not right. No matter what, it never seemed to go the way it should. Or was it the way she wanted it? Was that it? The desire to take control? But how... how to take control of a life which has spiraled so far out of reach, one could hardly even dream of finding the means to achieve such an insane goal... She rocked back and forth in the darkness, unable now to find the will to escape. Thoughts of suicide crept in. Had it been beyond days now? Had it been weeks? Had they abandoned her? No... they wouldn't, the couldn't...

    She'd lost track of the time now. She felt her joints seize at times and her skin became pruned from the dampness of the strange cave. Her body was becoming thin and her mind weary. Sleep had not come for some time now, she hadn't dreamed for what seemed like an age. Though time didn't seem to matter anymore. She only wanted death now, yet even in this, no tears came; only an uninhibited rage growing deep within. It was a familiar rage, one which had consumed her in her younger years before her very memory had been stricken into a temporary nothingness. It was here she felt death creep upon her again, yet it seemed to keep distance, as if biding time. Then a thought of the tiniest light crept through.

    Qardo. Garvin. Njanju. Tias. Velna. Jezeline. Roland. Tyronous.

    She fought for these people, selflessly. What debt would she have toward them? For they too made sacrifices for her. It was imbalanced, there was no need for a payment in debt. They risked so much so continue, for themselves, for family and friend. Was she a good friend? Did she sacrifice enough to keep their lives midst her thoughts? Garvin had hardly even knew her, yet was willing to lose his life in place of hers. Qardo took unimaginable pain to keep her mind sane. Njanju fed and clothed her after she'd lost her humanity. Tias risked a mortal life to save them from a hell. Jezeline followed Tiana to the ends of the earth and her life to a horrific death. Roland nursed her back to health with great risk to his own. But Tyronous... he of them all risked everything to sustain her life, up to the great sacrifice of his life. The Grandmaster Tryonous, he was a man whom she fell in love with, but not as a lover, but as a father she'd so desperately needed.

    And now they'll all die.

    "FUCK YOU!" She screamed at the top of her lungs, feeling them grow even weaker with the bout of anger, "NO! They cannot! I will not allow this to happen! I- I cannot..." She fell from the position she'd sat in for so long, she wished to cry, she wished to let it all out, but she barely had the energy now to even continue breathing. "I... I just... I don't want to die like this." Her sniffled words fell on deaf ears and lifeless rock.

    Oh poor girl. Pitiful girl. Hope is for naught.

    There was a rumble deep beneath her as the cave above began to seamless split open. Light poured in and covered her frail body; her limbs seemed shriveled and wings disused. The rock she lay upon levitated upward into the open air and was hugged by the earth which closed back in. Was it the Western forest she could see? Blinded by the light, she felt the warmth of day pass over her; it'd been a long time since she'd felt the sun warm her bones in such a way. Then she felt something calling in her mind, a familiar voice which slowly became clear. Garvin? He was reaching out, attempting to find her still. She wanted to respond, but her mind had become weary from her isolation.

    Do not fret little girl. There is much more this world has that you must take from it.

    "Tiana..." Garvin's voice seemed to resonate louder, "...is that you?"