Reign of Discord - Silence Falls IC

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Malkuthe Highwind, Aug 8, 2014.

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  1. Discord is the ultimate end of all impurity

    Men and women were crossing the streets of the grand city of Cataline that rose straight from the heart of the kingdom of Dovry. They were comfortable, well-fed, and marginally more wealthy than the rest of the cities in the kingdom, and, in truth, most of the ones outside it as well. Nearby, the countless songbirds of the forest surrounding Cataline were still singing, tittering, and trilling as they always did. The Crownsong still held his court, the doors of the Cataline Palace open to the common man and their grievances. The banners of Dovry and House Skynne that ruled it snapped in the wind. The inns rang with the raucous laughter of patrons. In every measure of the word, the day was quite ordinary to the sight of those that did not know better, but to those that did, there was nothing mundane about that day. Beneath the bowels of the great Cataline Palace of Dovry, her War Generals gathered, setting out plans not against Renala, but to seize all the power that they could for the Crownsong.

    In the outskirts of the city, thankfully kept from the eyes of most prying citizens of the place, camps were being struck up for soldiers that were preparing for the coming march. There were whispers in the taverns and amongst the livery. There were rumours in the marketplaces, hushed conversations between the commonfolk. There was one common thread: for the first time in 300 years, Dovry was about to enter a massive conflict. The fertile soils of the kingdom, guarded by the nigh-impassable Edge of the World to the north, were about to be sowed with the seeds of battle, and watered with the sweat and blood of men. It was certain beyond a reasonable doubt that before the war was over, the strains of the Song would be heard far and wide from both sides. Before the war was over, there would be much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

    As the sun fell from its high seat in the sky, and the silence of evenfall draped itself across the land, there was an unmistakable sinister chord that began to manifest in the Song. It was one of such magnitude that even those who did not know where to look, who did not possess the spark of power needed to mold the Song to their whims, could feel it. Yet their lack of ability merely made them incapable of fathoming it. The once-carefree citizens of the land's mightiest kingdom quivered in an inexplicable fear as they began to prepare their suppers and finished what remained to be done that day.

    In the palace, there was an unmistakable stench of… wrongness that hung in the still air, just like the ghastly pale bars of the twilight sun's light. The unnaturally pale white beams that were supposed to be much like liquid brass were caught by the icy claymore that hung behind the golden throne. It danced across the blade, casting an eerily mesmerizing dance of lights and shadows across the entire throne room.

    The gilded doors swung open, and decked in royal robes with the sky-blue of house Skynne and the gold trim of Dovry, Feltaniel Skynne, Crownsong of Dovry, Great Lord of House Skynne, Lord of Cataline, Hand of Gold, and the Great Conductor's Voice, strode into the throne room. It was the only deserted part of the palace at this time of day, long after the king's Court had ceased, three hours after the morning zenithstime. Behind him entered the flustered Lord Courier and the Crownsong's newest, and oddly most influential adviser, Agnor.

    "Your Grace, the Swordsingers refuse to fight for Dovry…" said the Lord Courier, panting. When he had received word of a response from the choirmaster, he had ridden all the way back to Cataline, driving his poor horse very nearly to its untimely death. Many a day on that long journey from the Edge of the World, he cursed his lack of an airship. All available airships were being conscripted into the Dovryn army, and even his tiny, minimal-crew courier ship was in one of the large fields near the southern border, awaiting whatever commands may come from Cataline.

    "Your Majesty, if I may--" said Agnor, his voice carrying the thick drawl characteristic of the more rural Soranin. "--the swordsingers entered into a treaty with you. They have been signed into your service in exchange for the stipend that you provide them for the maintenance of their order every year. Now, in your hour of greatest need against the Wolfsong, they refuse to aid you. This is a crime against the Crown, and against Dovry. This is treason!"

    The Crownsong hesitated for a moment, eyes clouding over in confusion, but the look was as fleeting as the memory of a hazy dream. "Yes. Treason. For this they must be gathered and executred. Gather the Sentinels" he yelled in a seemingly unenthusiastic manner at the Lord Courier. "I want every Swordsinger within the Cataline walls to be rounded up before the evening zenithstime" he continued, the apathy plain in his voice. It was almost as though the Crownsong was not entirely present in the room.

    The Lord Courier rushed out the room, face red from the exertion of running around all day. When he was gone, Agnor strode to the Crownsong and leaned in to whisper in his ear. "Your majesty, we must not execute them. I have a plan…" The blank apathy in the Crownsong's eyes was wiped away by blazing anger, and then, something far more sinister. Behind him, black flames lapped at the sword made of ice.

    There were two kinds of people that were streaming in through the gates of the Citadel, one kind far more numerous, unfortunately, than the other. Needless to say, the Citadel, old as it was, was abuzz with activity and hushed whispers. No one was entirely sure what was going on, but the speculation was becoming more and more alarmist. The Choirmaster could do nothing but allow the Citadel to fester in the guesswork until he confirmed his suspicions. It was quickly becoming clear that what the first folk to arrive had said was indeed coming to pass. Just the previous day, one of the Order's only airships, an old rickety thing in such a state of disrepair for lack of funds to do anything substantial to help its problems, arrived from the Order's Southern Hold in Dovry.

    The Choirmaster had sent word to all the Holds the moment he turned away the Lord Courier, for he feared that there was Discord on the horizon, and misfortune for them all. "My Knights Swordsinger, and entrants to our noble Order, I fear the time has come for us to come together once more in the halls where we were all taught the ways of those that came before us. Renala has declared war on Dovry, and the Crownsong has demanded our aid in the war so that Dovry may win and wipe out House Lupendren once and for all. We are the defenders of Harmony. Our oaths bar us from partaking in the conflicts of nations. We are meant not as warriors to bring swift end to war. Our sworn duty is to act as emissaries, and, if need be, enforcers, of peace."

    There was but one messenger aboard the airship, one man to whom all the care that the vehicle's passengers could afford was given. He had but one duty, as soon as they landed and anchored, he ran for the Eyrie, denying all food, water, and board along the way. He bore dire news, not only for the Choirmaster, but for the Citadel, and their order as a whole. He ran like a man who was being chased by the black fires of Discord, terror quick upon his heels. The others he came with went directly to the infirmaries of the Citadel instead. In their wake, the smell of charred flesh lingered for days. "I fear that my refusal to participate in this bloodshed will bring terrible times for our noble cause. If Feltaniel Skynne is the man that I once knew, then we have nothing to fear. However, I am afraid that the Crownsong of Dovry has become the man I feared he would. We may need all our strength once more, and to this end, we need each and every one of you to return home. He will surely strike here, at the heart of our Order, and we cannot allow the Citadel, and with it, the Swordsingers, to fall. For who, then, shall defend the land from the tyranny of Discord?"

    When they were done talking, the Choirmaster dismissed the courier to the infirmary. He himself carried the stench of singed flesh, though his injury was less than apparent. As soon as he was gone, the Choirmaster called for the Band Conductors in a meeting of utmost urgency. It was one sealed to the Theatre of the Eyrie, well away from prying ears and eyes. Grim-faced and with a grave voice he faced the Band Conductors gathered before him, and said, "It has begun. Dunfe'er1 Silvaere has fallen.”"

    1 - Dunfe'er, "The Fort of" in the old tongue, an honorary title given to all Holds of the Order other than the Citadel itself.
    #1 Malkuthe Highwind, Aug 8, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2014

    Being back at the Citadel was something that he'd never imagined would be so… relieving. He didn't exactly resent being in the place, but he knew well enough that no one there was his partner. Nevertheless, training had been difficult, and, at times, mind-numbingly boring, what without a partner to practice most of his education as an Instrument with. It was the life of a partner-dependent band. He was the last of the group that had joined at the same time with him that still had yet to find a partner. All of the other Instruments were kind enough, knowing the feeling of waiting for that Maestro to come along and make everything right, but Gwyne, unfortunately, until all the events at Cataline, had not found one. Maestro. The last thing he expected to find for himself, after the order had gone out for the Swordsingers to be rounded up, was to find a partner. A Maestro. A Discordant one nonetheless.

    The brunet Instrument looked sideways at the other young man that his Lifesong had, for some strange, unfathomable reason, decided to Resonate with. They were both seated in the antechamber to the Choirmaster's Eyrie, as the Instrument had dragged his potential partner up there as soon as they got to the Citadel. Looking at Tomas, however, reminded him of the harrowing experience that had brought the two together in the first place.


    He'd been running for a good two hours, non-stop, from the baying hounds that had been following him, edging inexorably closer, or so his ears told him. It was with great chagrin that he finally stopped. In a manner that, had the situation been anything but dire, would've been quite humorous. He tripped over an exposed root and fell face-first into the dirt right into a clearing where a bounty hunter had been setting up camp. He had not known at the time that the man was a bounty hunter, but it very quickly became apparent. In any case, the man had not said anything about taking him back to Cataline, so he decided to use his being a Swordsinger as leverage to make the man help him. He'd learned later on that the bounty hunter's name was Tomas, but not until after they'd just barely escaped an attack with their lives.

    Tomas had
    just agreed to helping Gwyne out with getting back to the Citadel when all of a sudden, tongue-less men with strange hellish hounds in the place of blood-hounds appeared as though from thin air. As if that was not disturbing enough, they were able to Sing without using their voices, as without making a single sound, they summoned a circle of what seemed to be dead gray flames around the clearing, barring their escape. It was at that moment that the Resonance hit Gwyne and Tomas both. The latter had the brilliant idea of Singing a blizzard up. The Song did nothing to the flames, merely freezing their creators. Following the instincts hammered into him by his training, Gwyne used himself as a conduit to magnify the song's effects, and something strange happened. A bright light, brighter than all words could describe sprang from the Song and when it cleared, both flames and tongue-less men were gone.


    Gwyne took a deep breath after relaying everything that had happened to the Choirmaster, who had an unreadable expression on his face. "My Lord, would you happen to know what that blinding light was?" asked Gwyne slowly, wanting to know the nature of what he and Tomas had wrought during that moment of extreme duress. The older man shook his head slightly from side to side, and Gwyne's face fell. "I understand, my lord." He glanced at Tomas and cleared his throat. "My Lord, there is one more matter you must know of." The Instrument gestured towards his partner. "As I've told you, Tomas is a… bounty hunter, my Lord Choirmaster. He says that there was a bounty on Swordsingers right before the conflict with Renala began. I suspect there is more to the situation than it may seem."

    The Choirmaster nodded and leaned forward, regarding Gwyne with a level glance. "We suspect the same. For now, we must prepare the Citadel for war." The older man stood and strode over to one of the nearby stained-glass windows. "I need you to do something for me, young Gwyne." The Instrument was all too eager to comply. He stood and saluted the Choirmaster, ready to do whatever it was that was needed of him. "Do find the Band Conductors and tell them that I am calling for all the Swordsingers that survived Cataline. Tell them that They are all to be at the Theatre in an hour and a half." Gwyne nodded. "Thank you, Knight Swordsinger Gwyne. We shall have your ceremony on the morrow."

    The Instrument's jaw dropped to the floor, but before he could say anything, the Choirmaster waved him away, dismissing him. "Tomas, please stay" said the older man, addressing the bounty hunter.

    When Gwyne had left, the Choirmaster turned to the young man seated before him, across from his desk. “As I am sure the young Gwyne has already told you…” The Choirmaster’s voice lost its firm confidence and instead took on a more tired, wizened tone. “…the partner of a Knight Swordsinger automatically gains the same title. However, they must be educated in the ways of the Song. As I am sure you are thinking, you are not Swordsinger material. I agree. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make a good partner for the young Gwyne.” The Choirmaster smiled, walking over to a nondescript portion of the wall nearby. He reached in, the image of the wall shimmering as he thrust his hands in and withdrew two strange vessels. They were exactly the same save for one thing: one of them looked like the other, except upside down. “I shall take you under my wing” said the Choirmaster, the second bombshell he dropped that day.

    The Choirmaster set the vessels on his desk. One of them contained a beautiful blue liquid that seemed completely placid despite being jostled around as it was moved. The other vessel, upside down, contained a similarly beautiful black crystal, but it seemed to want to get out of the vessel, and was rattling in its glass prison in what almost seemed to be desperation. Locking eyes with Tomas, the Choirmaster carefully raised the vessel containing the black crystal and placed it over the vessel containing the blue liquid. The two vessels were exactly the same for a reason: they were symmetrical halves of a single, greater container. In one swift motion, the Choirmaster turned the whole thing so that the blue liquid slid towards the crystal, and the crystal rose towards the blue liquid. They met in the middle, and Tomas felt a surge of energy fill the study.

    He had to shield his eyes as the brightest light filled the room. The same thing that he and Gwyne had made when they fought those strange creatures. When the light cleared, settled on the bottom vessel was a small amount of purest white, and floating in the top vessel was a thick gray mist that seemed suspiciously to be exactly the same colour as the flames that the two young men had been trapped with.
  3. It had been a very long time, to Tomas' reckoning at least, since he had last seen Swordsingers. He had never laid eyes on the Citadel before, nor wanted to, and it left him tense and agitated; these people, with their rigid, unyielding precepts, and their hard, judgemental gazes--they were everything Tomas had been fleeing from for most of his life--since before he had gone on the road as a reckless child with nothing to lose and everything to gain. Being inside the massive stone walls, he felt trapped, something deep inside him already aching for the feel of sun against his skin and wind whipping at his hair; that light which came through stained glass windows wasn't enough by far. It made him fidget in his chair, foot tapping silently at air without touching the floor, fingers grasping at the wooden arms for something to occupy themselves with.

    He could not get out of here soon enough, he had thought. But then, after Gwyne had been dismissed, the Choirmaster had turned to him--and brought those thoughts of relief and freedom to a screeching halt.

    When at last the light faded, and Tomas could lower his hands and blink, staring at what remained in the vessels... He did not immediately know how to react. He was stunned, dumbfounded even. This was not remotely what he had expected--not even what he had feared. Him captured and locked away for execution, perhaps, had Gwyne gone back on his word and told of him, but this...

    ...this was far, far worse.

    "You can't be serious!" Tomas shouted, jolting to his feet, before pacing swiftly before the Choirmaster's desk, gesticulating wildly to emphasize his words. "I haven't the foggiest what the light show with the eldritch water and stone is supposed to be, but you can't educate me! You're the Choirmaster, you don't train anyone, and I'm a man well past days of being small and pliant enough to be crammed in with your students and whipped into a Swordsinger! I don't want the title, I don't want to be anyone's partner, I want my horse and pack so I can make for Soranin before the bloody war closes off the roads!"
  4. Adrienne Alvier

    All she could hear was the echo of steel-on-steel, and the jumble of half a dozen Songs bursting forth in the yard. To most others, such a reckless cacophony of hectic activity would be a terrible distraction; here in the training yard, however, was where Adrienne often did her best thinking... And right now, she needed to be at her best. The events of the past couple of days had left her utterly perplexed. Just the sound of blades clashing soothed her ravaged nerves. True, just the sound did the trick...

    But she needed to be at her best. And for that, she needed to be in the thick of it; and so she was. Dyrnwyn drawn, she had engaged two of the younger Skylark Dansers in a fast-paced spar. Normally, such a thing would be frowned upon by her superiors. In the current mess of things, however, no one seemed to pay any mind so long as the younglings were kept busy training. The two Skylarks were getting the workout of their life, and Adrienne was managing to keep her hands busy while she dwelled upon what she'd experienced attempting to escape Cataline.

    She hadn't been sought out by the strange pursuers she'd been hearing stories about, but perhaps that was because of a difference in motives. She had not been sent to Cataline on business, unlike others from the Citadel.

    Unlike some of her compatriots, Adrienne had been taking a short break from her training. Her constant efforts and the lack of any promising candidates for partnership had left her feeling both drained and discouraged; for the first time in her four years at the Citadel, she had been feeling hopeless. All of her training, all of the strength she'd gained, none of it would mean anything if she didn't find a partner. She'd be stuck as Nightingale, relegated to the unexciting, the less dangerous tasks. Would all of it be for naught? Would none of this matter, would she continue to be defined by her time as that man's...

    With a very out-of-character yelp, Adrienne ducked beneath one Skylark's swing and cursed inwardly. She'd let herself be distracted by those... memories. The young Nightingale gritted her teeth and, with renewed vigor and fervor, resumed her assault. Her blade clashed with the two others.

    No time for introspection, she chided herself mentally. For now, focus on the training. Allow your mind to empty.

    The Danser began a mental exercise, one of the many concentration techniques utilized by her Band. She envisioned a single flame, smaller than the size of a candle's light. Into this flame, she fed her doubts, her concerns, her exhaustion, her insecurities... Into this flame, she fed the fleeting glimpse of her memories she'd just experienced. The flame grew, and grew, and grew... And then, with a singularly enormous mental effort... was extinguished.

    Adrienne felt her battlefield awareness expand. She was no longer a Nightingale, fighting two Skylarks, in the training yard of the Citadel. She was the yard. She was her sword, her boots on the earth, the two Skylarks, the collective sweat on their brows. She was their breath panting into the cool afternoon air.

    Her troubles gone for the time being, Adrienne exhaled slowly and dove into the fray once more.

    There had been only a moment’s warning. A moment of frantic flashing of green. Then. Red. No longer from the stone in his preceptor’s amulet. The red was from blood, and he’d been very nearly paralyzed by the sight.

    Gwyne had gone around and visited all of the other Band Conductors, as they were all relatively easier to talk to, compared to his own. It was not for lack of affection between the two of them. His own Conductor was quite fond of him, truth be told, and one of the few people he could talk to whenever he was frustrated with his stubborn lack of a partner, the other had been his preceptor who was likely executed by now. That day had been one of the few times the Instrument and Maestro Conductors were apart, both attending to entirely separate aspects of the preparations of the Citadel for war. They were partners, and it was very rare that Gwyne ever saw them apart. Nevertheless, he took a deep breath as he walked into the office where the Conductor had retired for lunch.

    Almost as soon as he had stepped in through the door, he heard a clatter of china on a table and found himself swept up in a warm, sympathetic embrace. He’d had a month to deal with whatever had happened back at Cataline, and the fact that he had found a partner stabilized him more than he’d expected, but it was still good to feel like someone cared. The Choirmaster, in a departure from his normal approachability had been quite dismissive, much to Gwyne’s disappointment, but his Conductor seemed to want nothing more than offer him affection and to share in the grief that was still dwelling within him. Timidly, he broke the hug. “Sit, sit” insisted the Conductor, his Adryn tinkling softly as he moved. “I heard the news… I was hoping Caolan would be with you” continued the older man as he took his place behind his desk. Gwyne followed suit, sinking into one of the comfortable chairs in the study. “I presume he was… captured, then?”

    Gwyne and Caolan had been on the way to visit one of the more scholarly members of the Order, someone that had retired to Cataline instead of remaining in the Citadel, when the order had gone out. All the warning they got was the flashing of the green stone set in golden wiring that was Caolan’s protective amulet. It warned him whenever danger approached. Almost instantly, they were surrounded by the Sentinels, swords drawn and ready for blood. Gwyne really had no weapons to speak of, having poured his heart and soul into the more eldritch side of his training. He was beginning to regret that decision. His preceptor pushed a large, heavy, and, in his hands, unwieldy hunting knife on the young Nightingale. “Don’t bother with protesting to me that our Band is barred from using weapons. Edict or not, they can be broken in matters of life and death. Use it” said his preceptor, humming a six-note tune immediately afterwards.

    The two heavy, solid wooden sticks that his preceptor carried came to life with blue flames flickering down their lengths. And so the dance began. There was a flurry of activity, and the Sentinels rushed in to fight. Gwyne barely managed to raise the hunting knife in time to shield himself from the one that rushed at him. His preceptor was the exact polar opposite. Parry. Block. Strike. He flowed effortlessly from form to form, spinning in circles creating rings of bluish fire that fanned out and washed over the Sentinels as he did. He moved in a graceful but deadly dance, swinging both sticks through the air in arcs of such beauty and precision that only served to cement his title as a master of the combat style. Nevertheless, the assault was relentless. Gwyne stabbed blindly in the air, almost hitting his preceptor a few times. Only, the older man was far more deft than he and dodged with ease. The Nightingale’s attacks found quite a few targets, and soon enough, the smell of blood filled the air. It was not only the blood of the Sentinels, though. Caolan had been nicked every so often.

    “Run” his preceptor had told him, and, for a moment, inspired by terror at the approaching troop of Sentinels coming down from the other side of the road, he ran. Never before had such guilt as had ridden him at that moment filled his heart. He looked back once, and, in truth, it had been an almost-fatal mistake. Sentinels came at him as though from thin air, but he managed to block the worst of the attack with his hunting knife. That was, until he got cut on the shoulder, the pain, and the feeling and smell of blood that flooded him was enough to make him drop the knife. He scrambled away, and managed to outrun the sentinels and managed to slip through the closing gates. He didn’t stop running. Not for two hours. Not until an exposed root ended his sprint and brought him face to face with the man he then Resonated with.

    “You know, I told you, you could refer to me as Llugh in private” said the Conductor, smiling sympathetically at the nightingale before him, as yet unaware that the man he’d been helping train for all these years was to be raised to join the ranks of the Knights Swordsinger the next day. “In any case, thank you for bringing me this news. I shall find the others that arrived from Cataline. Then we shall see the Choirmaster.” As Gwyne left, the Conductor puzzled over what the old man could possibly want. Such a meeting was unprecedented, though in truth, so was this coming battle. Llugh considered for a moment that it was possibly just a matter of time before the Choirmaster called for a Grand Opera. Possibly. He went back to his ruminations and finished his tea before leaving the same way Gwyne did, a list in his hands of the refugees from Cataline in his Band.


    After the meeting with his Conductor, Gwyne made his way to one of the balconies overlooking the training grounds. He wanted some time alone to think. Some time alone to pore over what had happened since Cataline. Over what had happened in the Citadel so far. He still couldn’t quite believe he was getting his Adryn so soon, and without so much as a test. Truth was, however, that the Choirmaster had the final say in the matter, and Gwyne had wanted the feeling of being a full member of the Order for so long he was not about to complain about the lack of due process. He wondered what the Choirmaster wanted to do with Tomas, probably talk to him about what it meant to be a Swordsinger, tell him what he had to do, that he had to be educated in the ways of Harmony. He didn’t know how well his partner-to-be -- he’d taken to calling Tomas that -- would take the whole Harmony thing. It was pretty clear that the young man quite liked his Discord, his freedom.

    Gwyne wanted nothing more at this point than to eavesdrop, but it was not only rude, it would also imply a certain clinginess about him that he didn’t want to make clear. Tomas was an interesting character, and if he wanted the two of them to make it through the tough times ahead, well, he had to be considerate. He looked down at what was happening in the courtyards. He spotted a familiar figure. A familiar face. One of the delegation. His heart skipped a beat and he soon found himself rushing down the stairs and calling at the woman from the side of the courtyard. “Adrienne! Adrienne! Great Conductor, you’re alive!”
  6. B l a i n k o s D o r w a n i n

    "Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!" He yelled, smashing his glass against wall. Water was the icing in the mess what was now his room. It wasn't normally like this. Then again, nothing was how it tended to be. The swordsingers were making preparations for an attack from the land he came from. Even with that on the horizon, it was his best friend and partner Tailat that was on his mind. It was what was on his mind and the floor of the now nearly destroyed room. Tailat was not suffering if not dead already. All because he just happened to be better at attracting attention. That double dillweed. And his father, the war council member. What would happen to him? He wasn't captured but surely they know of his son's affiliation. And...his sweet mother must be so sorrowful with all this going on. Everything he knows is going up in smoke. Blainkos had been helping with moving boxes and such but in his off time it was thinking about what happened and that shot under his skin and this was the reaction. Destruction. As much as a non-maestro could do anyways.

    He sighed heavily, realizing that there wasn't much else he could destroy that was actually his. Except for Baibell. He would NEVER even want to damage his weapon. It was a gift from his mother, whom was probably sobbing right about now. The singer stepped over his toppled warerobe and made his way to the courtyard. It was time to put a little work in...or at least beat on someone. Baibell yearned to be swung in the tango of battle. Normally singing would calm him down...but this was a special case.

    Reaching the courtyard was easy enough, considering the trip. When he arrived it was very busy. People were training and doing other things. Blain tapped Baibell on the ground a few times before proceeding to head towards an open space and began to preform kata.
  7. Lothyriel
    Months had passed since Arien last had a good day.

    Much like the Swordsingers, they appeared to be only dwindling in number - dying out. Violently. The Skylark grit his teeth together.
    Did the world see no better use for time than as a measure to spill blood?
    A cry of frustration spilled from his chest, and he slammed his fists into the air before him- again, again, over and over until his arms eventually refused to lift. He hissed. Fidgeted, grumbled.

    Then he sat there, trembling. On the bed of a stranger. Some damn Danser or other, it would seem. Arien eyed the bronze hooks to his right knowingly. Before he'd stormed in, a couple Danser - typical weapons had been dangling there...
    But now the sword was lodged in the opposite wall, and the daggers were scattered across the floor. One hook itself was dangling, half-way torn from its shabby base, cracks splintering and spidering out from behind.

    He'd done that.

    Arien blinked.

    Done...all of this, actually.

    But it doesn't seem like it...

    Like a disgruntled cat, he wrinkled his nose.
    The scent of singed wood, close as it was, seemed to come from impossibly far away. The faint roar and clash of blades from below appeared otherworldly. Not even his body felt real.
    With a grunt of effort, Arien hauled his fists up before his eyes - spread his hands wide and then clenched them together again, twirled his fingers around like a two year old.

    They shone in the sunlight, seemingly more glass and wood splinters than flesh and bone, and more blood than all of those things put together. It was as if somebody had shoved a fistful of shards into his hands and poured red all over. The flesh was rent between the knuckles, and layers of skin hung off muscle like worn flaps of tape. But he felt no pain. Only blood flowing steadily down his wrists.
    No - his hands didn't hurt at all.
    He didn't even feel weak.
    Hell...he hardly felt angry anymore.
    Neat. Creepy, but neat. As long as he didn't feel angry anymore. He was damn tired of feeling angry.

    Somewhat absently, Arien shifted focus to the mess he'd made of the room - ash and blood and glass on the floor, destroyed furniture, a headless training doll next to a broken window. Fuck, he'd be in trouble.
    His lips fell into a frown.
    The room he could close and clean later, but surely some unlucky dueler would notice it before long. The head lying in the grass, both bloodied and burned. He couldn't exactly remember punching it out of the window, but...
    If somebody did find it - and then saw the window - and decided to come up before he'd cleaned -

    In a flash the Skylark had leapt up from the bed, gripping its sides to steady himself as a wave of dizziness came over him. The yard. Something popped out of the flesh of his knuckles and clattered to the ground, but without pain. He ignored it, rolled his shoulders,
    jammed his glass torn hands into the pockets of his outerwear and began the impromptu journey down to the training yard.


    Arien screwed up his eyes as he stepped into the sunlight. From the unidentified Danser's room, outside certainly hadn't seemed this bright, nor the roar of sparring so loud. Nor...legs so...tired.
    Suddenly, he felt the world was about to toss him like a leaf. But he wouldn't turn back now. He had come all this way for a reason, after all. The world could go fuck itself.
    With renewed vigor, Arien forced himself down a couple steps, and - with face set into as casual and expression as he could manage - strode towards where the head ought to have fallen.

    Thankfully, the search didn't take too long. The head had rolled up under a shrub, but shimmering shards of window quickly betrayed its location. The young Skylark might have smirked if he weren't so anxious to get rid of it. Despite efforts to keep calm, he could feel a thin layer of sweat rising from his skin, and strange warmth lapping at his hands. Shivers, nausea, the beginnings of a headache.
    Arien lowered himself to his knees and snatched the training doll's head up with his hands, trying not to drip much blood and, of course, failing.
    But at least the head was out of the open.
    A flash of annoyance shot through his eyes.
    How was he to slink a gored head past...?
    Fuck all, the thought hadn't crossed his mind...

    Maybe he could - if he could just - thrust the damn thing into his pocket -
    But it seemed to almost resist him, and wrapping it up in his coat meant he had nowhere to hide his hands.

    Damn it all, please tell me I don't look ridiculous....

    Just a couple more shoves, and he could probably fit it into his pocket...what kind of dolt would even think of having a training doll in their room...
    #7 Vinyl, Aug 14, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2014
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  8. "Well it appears the orchestra is being called." There was a the sound of popping creaking bones as the Singer Band leader pushed himself up and onto his old feet. For a moment it seemed he might not make it up fully until a hand appeared at his elbow guiding the aging Singer to his feet. "Ah to think that they day has finally come where I need help from a blind child."

    "Careful Master Kailro, an old man like you might cut your tongue on such words." Eric said a small smile flickering at the corner of his mouth as he shifted his staff back to his leading hand once he was sure that his old Preceptor was stable. The old man made a sharp clicking sound with his tongue and shook his head as he searched around the sitting room for his cane. However where he had last left his cane was not on the forefront of the old Singer's mind as he looked about. Since those that had escaped Cataline had returned Kailro had been visited many times by Eric and with exception of one visit their conversations were nothing but small talk. It had been a month since the groups return and despite a freshly healed injury the young man had been keeping himself busy, anywhere there was slack to be taken up he was there training with initiates, skylarks, and nightingales alike, checking the inventory and cataloging items that came through the gate, stretching his sight further than even some of his friends had believed possible to check that the tunnels within the mountain were clear of rubble. He was spreading himself far to thin thought Kailro, and that was not even mentioning the fact that Eric spent most of his free moments standing by the front gate. If left alone he would stand for hours until something finally called him away and when asked what he was doing he would simply say "I'm listening."

    "You should check behind your chair." Eric said calmly snapping Band Master Kailro from his thoughts. A bit disgruntled the man snatched up his cane and led the way out of his compartment heading towards the Theatre. However the brisk march that the old man started the walk with soon petered off to a calm stroll. Had he not seen it many times he would have marveled at Eric's ability to navigate the hold without the use of his eyes, then again there were more than a few who felt that they to could loose their eyes and still navigate their home perfectly well. There was a lengthy silence between the two, each content with their own thoughts for the time being until Conductor Kailro broke the silence.

    "Eric...Might it be time to compose a lament?" Kailro said casting a sidelong glance at the man walking next to him, observing the sudden stiffening in his spine and lip with apprehension.

    "I have not seen a need to." Eric's voice was tense, emotions pitching wildly at what his old preceptor was hinting at.

    "You must know by now that there is only a slim-"

    "SHE IS NOT DEAD!" The sudden roar of sound caught the elder man off guard. Never had he heard Eric use such a tone as that and the harmonious energy that usually surrounded the man was briefly broken by something much darker and more chaotic. The silence stretched between them, this one much colder than the easy contemplative silence that they had adopted before. Sensing that he had over stepped Eric straightened up, running a hand through his hair as he turned away. "It makes no sense for them to kill those who were captured. Alive they are hostages, dead they are martyrs, greater reasons to invoke a Grand Opera."

    Kailro nodded a few times but he made no attempt to fill the silence that threatened to create a gulf between them and so in the end it was Eric who had to break the awkwardness.

    "There is still some time before the meeting. I am going to take a walk around the courtyard." He said before giving Kailro a respectful nod then turning to head towards the courtyard. He was given pause only for a moment when he felt a surprisingly strong hand grip his shoulder for a moment before he was released and the two Swordsingers went their separate ways.

    The path to the courtyard was one that he had traveled many times and his feet carried him there with little thought. He passed many peoples within the old halls and yet he felt so separate from them, he might as well have been a ghost. There was a coldness in his heart that he had not felt for a long long time, not since he was a child still recovering from the accident, staring up at the night sky wondering where the stars had gone. Even enhanced hearing only gave things an echoing quality, nothing was firm, nothing was quite real. Until he heard the sound of shattering glass coming from an upper floor. The sound was crisp and clean and it was just loud enough to break through some of Eric's haze. Pausing he leaned against he staff with his head cocked to one side as he heard rushed footsteps coming from the same origin as the crash. His own unsettled emotions kept him from springing forward but the instincts that had made him a Preceptor for the years he had stayed at the Citadel made him press forward when he heard cautious steps make their way towards where the solid object that had broken through the window lay. Silent steps let him walk close behind the child without being noticed until he finally spoke.

    "Are you alright?" he asked, brows drawn in concern.
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  9. The soft right hand of Adelia of Nurnberg rests upon a desk of wood, waiting for someone other than herself to hold it tight, and comfort its owner. But Adelia, in this period of silent grieving, has chosen the recourse of solitude; she is the only one within this lecture-room in the Hall of Learning.

    Her face is shadowed in pale red, a contribution of the crimson-stained windows to her east; in this light, the stillness of her expression, which is flat and empty, manifests itself as something sinister.

    She leans into the source of the light, and her right hand is forced to give up its rest to support a more relaxed position; it now lies beneath her round chin. And though her whole form has transformed from a straight yet rather pretentious nobility to a much more relaxed and appropriate posture, still, her countenance does not reflect grief: her lips lie straight, and her eyes stare blankly.

    Flecks of the color of the red light's source, the natural, golden shine of the sun, sparkle in the crest of her hair.

    It is evening in the house of Belune. The blood red vestibule of the manse is empty, excluding the lonely soul waiting patiently by its main door for her guardian to come. From the windows, she can see bright yellow torchlight cut through the darkness of the outside - glimmers of hope that never satisfy. She remains there, even unto the morning, even after the protestations of her hosts, even unto the next evening, even after the first call to escape is sounded; but Jochanaan never returns.

    Up and down the string of pearls flowing from her mouth go, straining to achieve a sense of harmony from the sharp dissonance of her current Song. She Sings "Le Grand Macabre", the first Song she learned as a Skylark; it is a Dirge, a lamentation meant, in Swordsinger terms, to cripple the living, and return life to the dead.

    She is perched upon a windowsill, Singing her Song to a planter of wilted roses. The window, the same one which had suppressed her countenance under the heaviness of red, is open, and she bathes in the fairer light of the sun, and breathes the freer air of the wind.

    The Dirge is the first song she learned as a Skylark; it was taught her by her first and most beloved instructor, an old Swordsinger named Jochanaan. Her impassive expression gives way to a brief smile, as she remembers the time Jochanaan taught her the Song.

    As the wails and screeches of her Song cut through the cool morning air, the fallow petals of the rose-flowers slowly regain their true color.

    Adelia is awoken by the hard light of a torch. It is Jochanaan. He restates his earlier affirmation that the Belunes are to be trusted, then he announces his intent to leave the house for the evening, to discreetly meet with his fellow Preceptors concerning the Crownsong. He then tells her that if he does not return by the next evening, Adelia must leave as quickly as she can. She does not know how to answer.

    The time for grief is over, for now. Adelia returns to her duties. She takes the long climb from the Hall of Learning to the Citadel's armory, having been assigned, for her noontime tasks, the job of aiding the smiths; her father was a blacksmith, and before her time with the Swordsingers, she apprenticed in his art.

    Along the way, she notices one of the elder Singers, Eric, addressing one of her contemporaries, Arien. The odd Meranin seems to be in the middle of something; what that something is isn't obvious to her, though she finds the suggestions of what he's trying to do rather amusing. Beaming a pure, yet somehow subdued, smile, she approaches the Preceptor. "Umm, Master, what exactly is Arien doing?"
    #9 RiverNotch, Aug 16, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2014
  10. "Uhm, Master, why are women so nosy?" Arien quipped, a slightly irritated twitch flickering into the corners of his eyes.

    Normally he would have at least tried to be cordial before mocking a fellow Swordswinger, but the seafarer had never taken kindly to interrogation. Even though they were brief, his years as a pirate - and some of his ways - followed him closely still.
    When it came to asking questions, the Skylark preferred to be the one demanding answers - not the poor lad mumbling feverishly down the length of blade.
    It...sitting on the other side of the table just...rubbed him the wrong way.

    That and he didn't care much for Adelia. Her constantly ripened cheeks reminded him of a certain female he'd chanced by while ship hopping once, as did Delia's eyes, and the way she moved her hands. The woman's name was Marietta. She'd been both beautiful and stupid.
    He liked to think that Adelia was much the same, if slightly more of the latter.

    All of this combined with the swirling nausea in his gut made Arien a very unhappy young Meranin. If he hadn't had to hide a gored head behind his back and his hands in his coat, he might have just leapt up, nodded curtly, and loped away. Instead, he'd have to make small talk. Appease Master Eric. Stand within a couple feet of Adelia.

    Relativley still.

    A look of pain came across his face. This was going to make him incredibly anxious. At first glance, Master Eric seemed only to be genuinely concerned, but the nagging feeling that the older Singer could somehow hear his guilt brought nervous flutters into Arien's chest.

    "I'm quite alright. Eric. Sir.".

    With each word, waves of dizziness swirled through his head.

    "I was just..."

    His fingertips were tingling with a sickening amount of heat.

    "...I'm just clumsy".

    Arien shrugged, glanced at Eric out of the corner of his eye and then glanced at Adelia. He did wish she'd go. He wished both of them would go, but Adelia moreso. As heartless as the thought probably was, Eric couldn't see, and he'd much rather have a blind old man catch him in the middle of something than some vexatious woman.
    Again, he shrugged, though it was more to roll his shoulders and unhinge the trembling muscles in his back than anything else.

    'Problem?' he nearly hissed, only miraculously strangling the urge.

    "If it's alright with you, I think I'll just sit here a while more".
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  11. The Choirmaster sighed, fixing Tomas with a level stare. He had other duties to attend to, but standing before him was a kind of person that the Maestrate would take great interest in. He made sure not to let on that he knew the boy was Discordant, but nonetheless, that was the quality he, and the Maestrate, in truth, were looking for. He chuckled and shook his head. "I do not mean to make you a Swordsinger, young man. I have been in this Order long enough that I can tell when someone doesn't want to become one." The older man smiled and stretched out his hand, gesturing at the study around them. "I can teach you many things. I don't need to force you to become one of us. You are, however, Resonant with one of our number, and by the edicts of the Order, you become a Knight Swordsinger yourself come the morrow" There was a long stretch of silence between the two men. A cool wind passed through the study from the open windows. The light of the sun filtered into the room, casting coloured shapes all across the walls. "You will be a Swordsinger in nothing but name."

    "The Swordsingers are not exactly what the world thinks of us" said the Choirmaster, a genuine sympathetic smile gracing his face — wizened by the years. "We may be the protectors of Harmony, an Order dedicated to the protection of all creation by the Great Conductor, but we are not paragons of the law, and we know well enough that following the spirit of the law is enough. Needless to say, we also know that Harmony cannot exist without Discord, and many have confused and at times conflated our purpose with that of the Seers of Eranus. We do not mean to eradicate Discord. We merely mean to control it." The older man sighed. "There is one reason we wish to control the Discordant" he continued, shooting a pointed look at Tomas. "Discord becomes stronger as time goes on. The Canticler of Soleri. He was once a normal man. Sure, he had more of a temper. He had a less-than-Harmonious song. But his Discord grew so quickly and grew to a magnitude so great that he lost his sanity. Discord grows, and with it, madness."

    "So. Young Tomas, bounty-hunter though you may be… Would you have me as your mentor?" The Choirmaster rose from his desk and began to walk towards the door of the study, leaving the substances he'd created on the desk. "Acceptance will not mean bondage. You may be free. And yet, for that, we must first survive this war." The Choirmaster paused just outside the door. "Oh, and do show yourself out. The study will lock itself up. I hope to see you at the Theatre."
  12. "Uhm, Master, why are women so nosy?"

    Adelia was offended by Arien's comment, though she dared not make a verbal response. She knew that it would be quite irresponsible of her to make such a retort, and she'd probably earn the ire of master Eric as much as Arien was about to.

    Instead, she went for the more sensible response: a response in actions. She'd noticed earlier on that Arien was hiding something - the anxiety on his face, coupled with him having pulled his hands behind his back, made it all too obvious. Finding out exactly what he was hiding would have played with him perfectly. With a twitch of her nose and a smug smirk on her lips, she subtly shifted her position.

    "A head? Of a training doll?" She would have laughed, if she hadn't known that keeping it secret for those few moments would've given her the initiative.

    Thus came her time to make a decision.

    The thought of ratting out Arien did not please her. Though telling a master about what seemed to be a transgression would've been the responsible thing to do, fostering that kind of animosity between her and Arien would not have been very noble, especially with something as....humorous as their current situation. Of course, outight helping him out would most certainly have been a direct disobedience of the precepts - one had to respect the wisdom and authority of the Preceptors, and Arien had to take responsibility for his own actions.

    But Adelia felt like she couldn't just stand there and observe the goings on; no, she needed to interfere, and she wouldn't have been fated to be there if she didn't. She was torn.

    "I'm quite alright. Eric. Sir." Rivulets of crimson streamed down the crown of the detached head.

    She noticed the gruesome condition of Arien's hands. The flesh was gored in an all too irregular pattern, as if they had been torn apart by a beast. She wondered how Arien could still move them.

    Specks of bloody red began staining the grass behind Arien's feet. A few inches away, the distinct, particolored sparkle of glass shone from within a shrub. Adelia looked up - she saw a large hole in what she presumed to be a window of Arien's room. Sticking out from it was the neck of Arien's dummy-victim. The memories of Cataline suddenly flashed within her mind.

    Adelia curled her brow; ruddy vibrancy rushed into her cheeks; a sense of determination filled her countenance. She felt that she understood everything.

    "If it's alright with you, I think I'll just sit here a while more".

    Adelia makes up her mind. The softest of smiles takes over her expression as she winks at Arien and draws a long, deep breath. Out of her mouth flies a hail of arrows, a grand but mundane aria she learned from her mother, 'Nurnberg's Greatest Soprano'. Even though she's performing it at a whim, she sings it perfectly, with enough strength and clarity to match, or even surpass, her mother's skill....and perhaps distract any curious Swordsingers nearby. "Oh, I'm sorry, Master Eric - the, er, urge suddenly, er, came to me as I saw this, er, weird....thing."
    #12 RiverNotch, Aug 16, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2014
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  13. LYRAEL

    Lyrael’s eyelids fluttered against the white blindfold. A large part of her rebelled against blindly shooting at the practice target, yet it was a part of her continuous training regimen. Since returning from Cataline, she had been afraid to shut her eyes for too long. Even a month later, behind closed eyes, memories of her escape from the Dovryn capital struck her consciousness at unpredictable intervals.

    Oralee’s violet eyes, wide in fear. Sentinels were coming. “Go!” She shouted to Lyrael, before beginning a Song to summon a storm. Lyrael had left her weapons back in their accommodation as a sign of respect towards the Crownsong. She was helpless. She fled.


    Stop it. Breathe, Lyrael thought sternly, dragging her thoughts back to the Citadel’s practice yard. Inhaling deeply, she pulled a birch from her quiver and knocked it against her maple bow.

    You left her to die, you selfish cunt.

    Discord rules the man who cannot himself control, Lyrael silently chanted the Swordsinger words. She raised the belly of the bow to eye level, painting a mental image of the archery training pit and her place in it. In two years since Lyrael had visited this training pit, not much had changed. The practice targets hung in even spaces against the opposing wall to the archers. Some of the Mockingjays and Skylarks had brought their targets closer, since their aim was still poor. She could hear the sounds of the younger Knights throwing knives and javelins. Sometimes the smooth thump of them hitting the target reached her ears, but just as often she heard the clatter of a weapon hitting the ground or the wall.

    She let these sounds float through her mind, giving them little notice as she focused on her target. She pulled the bow’s sinewy string to her chin.
    Discord rules the man who cannot himself control, she intoned.

    No Marksman is ever alone, an evil little chant whispered.

    The hand holding the horn belly of her bow shook as she let her arrow fly.

    She ripped off the blindfold in time to see her arrow clack off the wall, a foot away from the edge of her target.

    She swore loudly, s
    tartling the Knights around her. In the time it took for their heads to swivel toward her, Lyrael had already flung a knife at the practice target. They watched as it buried itself up to the hilt in the target, a thumb’s length from dead center.

    By Harmony’s grace, Oralee, please be alive.


    Lyrael left the training pit soon after, tears stinging her eyes. She brushed her damp eyes with the back of her hand, sniffed, and looked around. Nearby, she saw a young man, one of the Nightingales from the delegation to Cateline, running towards another practice pit, shouting to a Danser who was in the middle of a challenge.

    She quickly strode over to him. Too short to try to cuff him on the back of the head, she instead tried to give him a quick rap on the back of his hand with her bow.
    “Be quiet, for Harmony’s sake!” She hissed. “Do you want to distract the poor girl and get her injured?”
    #13 Betelgeuse, Aug 16, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 16, 2014
  14. "I believe the word is perceptive." Eric corrected smoothly one eyebrow cocked in disapproval although he managed to keep the rest of his expression pleasant with the continuing under tones of concern. Blind he might be but sending several years as a teacher had made him wise to when students were trying to put wool in his ears. Behind him he heard Adelia shift and while he listened to Arien to try and form some kind of excuse he also listened to see whether Adelia would tell him what her fellow student was hiding behind his back.

    "Clumsy." He repeated slowly rubbing his chin as though in thought. "Well, there are worse things to be." He said more to himself than Arien. A small smile was offered to the boy and he opened his mouth as though about to say something else when Adelia spoke, or rather sang, first. The sudden sound surprised him and he started shifting so that he was standing a step further from the pair. For someone like him loud noises tended to be best heard at a distance, least he damage his ears. The sudden movement jarred his shoulder and a grimace of pain briefly crossed his face as he placed his free hand over the spot.

    "Keep moving! If we can reach the crossroads we can loose them in a fog." Delphene called one hand pointing the group ahead the other firmly clamped over her shoulder where Eric's hand was resting. The other two swordsingers gave nods of agreement and increased their pace ignoring how their breaths whistled in and out of their lungs and how their legs longed for a rest. They had been nearly in the heart of the city when the orders had been given and the guards had closed in. For close to an hour they had been dodging between alleys and side streets, rooftops and trees, all to avoid the swarms of guards that hunted them and all while trying to make their way back to where their horses waited.

    Eric's sight had helped in keeping them a step ahead of the soldiers but even he could only hear so far and there was little he could do if they became surrounded.

    "Here!" Delphene said and the small group halted. Only sparing a few short breaths Eric inflated his lungs are began the slower shanty that would call forth the dense fog that would be their cover. The air around them grew hazy and denser as Eric sang, the fog appearing to rise up from between the cobblestones. The group drew close together ready to run with the completion of the spell, the sound of footsteps drawing there attention towards the surrounding alleys. No one saw where the arrow came from and it flew unhindered until it slammed into Eric's chest. With a cry the song was ended abruptly and Eric collapsed with a black shafted arrow protruding from his right shoulder.

    He could hear people talking but his ears rang and it was not until he felt a pair of strong hands dragging him away did his hearing clear.

    "Mathew and I will by some time, get going. We will catch up." Delphene seemed to be speaking from a long distance away and it took a second for Eric's sense to catch up.

    "No!" He protested weakly. He felt a warm hand on his cheek as he was dragged away, and away, and away...

    As the swirl of memories of flying arrows and unspoken goodbyes past they left Eric pale, with his brow drawn much more harshly than before. The blind stare that Adelia found herself facing was far more piercing than one would have expected from someone who couldn't see.

    "Ah, yes, well you should be careful with such a voice, you might sing someone's heart away." He said kindly as he ran a hand through his hair to try and calm himself before slowly turning his attention back to Arien.

    "I would not sit for to long, all those who went to Cataline have been called to the theatre for a meeting." For a second it looked like he was done speaking and even turned away looking like he was about to walk away. But he paused and waving a finger as though having just remembered something he spoke again.

    "Oh and it would probably be best to return that head before you go to the meeting, never know when the owner might return." A sly wink accompanied the words before he turned away and took a few steps towards the outer wall.
    #14 E.T., Aug 17, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2014
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  15. Alexander woke with a start and clutched his head. Surprisingly, it hurt less than he had expected it to, not that that was saying much. The wound still felt like it was on fire and that he had a hole in the back of his skull. Groaning, he inwardly reminded himself that that was impossible and that his body was just making it seem worse than what it was. His mind was all to quick to remind him, though, that while his condition wasn't that bad all things considered, their situation probably was still that bad. He reached a hand up and touched the wound, feeling a thick layer of bandages around his head. His body was probably covered with them and for good reason.

    "I guess I live after all," he said to no one in particular as though to reassure himself that he was actually there as his mind began to reboot and remind him of the circumstances leading up to this. It hurt to send his thoughts that way but his heart told him it was important and that it was best to endure so he did. He had been in the capital of Dovry on some pretty normal, simple business. It was just supplementing the escort of a caravan on his way to the capital, then it was going to be another on his way back to the Citadel. Floriane had been with him too though he had jokingly ditched her in town before as he went shopping for some supplies for their trip back. It had been a harmless, good natured joke too till the soldiers had begun rounding up the swordsingers. When they had come, he had assumed it to be a villain trying to cause trouble in the city and had defended himself with ease but as he went from street to street, it became more and more apparent that it was not a small scale revolt but rather the entire Dovry army. They were organized and unopposed by any but the other swordsingers. It had been then that a strange beast had come upon him, one that he didn't recognize. The memory was clouded but he did remember too well the fear he felt when it had attacked. In his haste to defend himself, he had pushed it off somehow and sung the words of the Imperial March. Screams rang out around him as nearly everyone on the street fell, unable to fight. That was, everything except the beast before him. Letting out a cowardly cry of fear, he ran, right past Floriane too. He had wanted to stop but his feet wouldn't allow him to till he was out of the city gates. What ensued was a chase that he barely escaped from, passing out near the Citadel. His thoughts were interrupted by the feeling of his arm being shaken.

    "Yes?" he stammered, turning over to look at the instrument that had probably tended to him along with the others in the medical ward. There was no shortage of patients, something he knew but confirmed as he looked around.

    "Your mind wanders excessively. You've been out for so long. Perhaps some exercise would do you some good," the instrument suggested. It took Alexander an extra look around to realize just how full the ward was. It was overflowing.

    "It seems I have things to attend to," he replied, forcing a smile as best he could and stumbled out of bed. His body ached but nothing worse than what he had gotten in his earlier training. As always, some good old movement would make things better. Taking a deep breath, he took his leave and started down the hall only to see the line of injured, probably the reason for his gentle removal from the bed. He could finish recovering in his own, giving the space to someone who needed it much more. With every step, his body started to get more accustomed to moving again though it felt odd to have no stave at his side but with each step also came an ever increasing degree of guilt for being able to take those steps at all. Many swordsingers hadn't made it out of the capital and quite a few hadn't made it out because of his complete bungling of the Imperial March, the song that he was supposed to know the best, a song that he had composed this version of himself. His footsteps echoed in his mind as he wondered what he would do. A budding pain took root in his chest and it continued to tighten as he thought. Being directioned and proud as he was, he often found it difficult to admit any problem his own, preferring to work it out with his own power but something told him that that was far beyond him as he was. His ability to solve problems was derived from his confidence and his confidence was derived from his training with the Song. But it weighed heavily on his heart the failure back in the capital. The bright and optimistic determination just wasn't there. Before he knew it, his feet had taken him where he needed to go, to the doors of the Eyrie.
  16. The Choirmaster's words weren't exactly persuasive. Having been on the run as long as he had, trust did not come easily to him, and anything said against his main weapon of choice put him on the defensive, regardless of what doubts and fears might lie hidden in the dark corners of his memories. Yet the old man didn't push beyond stating his case--he merely left him alone in the study, confused and frustrated.

    "...crazy old bastard," Tomas muttered rebelliously, well after the man had disappeared from view and he felt secure in the knowledge that none would hear him. His gaze returned to the man's desk, and the strange substances that still lay there, almost innocently. In spite of himself, Tomas approached to see them better--eyeing first the painfully-white... stuff that still rippled and moved ceaselessly, then, just as warily, the still, grey gunk that appeared utterly inert.

    "...crazy," he repeated, backing away from the desk and shaking his head, before turning to gaze out those stained-glass windows with longing.

    What caught his eye stole his breath. Airships on the horizon--and below them, a forest that was not half so still as it should have been. It seemed that he and that bastard Swordsinger Gwyne had scarcely made it ahead of Dovry's army--as close as they appeared, surely they would reach the citadel by nightfall. Tomas was not so confidant in his abilities that he thought he could skirt that force and escape as he had intended.

    There was but one option left for him; hope that the Swordsingers were as good as the old legends claimed, and could withstand the army of Dovry. Grimacing, he rushed from the study, slamming the door behind him.

    "Where in bloody Silence is the damn theater!?"
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    Gwyne very nearly jumped out of his skin when he felt the slight rap on his hand. He looked timidly at the person that had berated him and was surprised to see someone quite familiar. One of the delegation sent to Cataline as well. He could see the tears staining her cheeks with their wet tracks, but nevertheless, he could not help the happy half-smile that graced his face then and there. He couldn’t stop himself from throwing his arms around her in what he hoped would be a comforting hug. “Lyrael!” he said in disbelief. “You’re alive too!” He took a look around, trying to see if the other girl that was almost attached at the hip with Lyrael was around. “Where’s Oralee?” he asked, pausing for a somber moment as he realized that perhaps all of them that had been at Cataline that day had lost people important to them…

    He stopped talking. Gwyne didn’t want to push the matter of where the Singer was, if she was indeed lost. He still grieved for the preceptor he’d lost, and he was sure that others would appreciate their grief not being wrenched to the surface for questioning. Nonetheless, he looked at the woman before him and sighed. He’d been looking for a partner for so long and found it in a man he didn’t think he’d ever be able to love. Tomas was abrasive and above all, Discordant. How could he ever have a partner that was a Discordant? He shuddered, hoping that the Choirmaster would find someone that could teach the bounty hunter how to let go of Discord and embrace the peace of Harmony. Even so, there was a small part of Gwyne that knew that if any harm befell the partner he’d only just found, he would be torn apart. He couldn’t imagine the pain of losing someone you have been with for years, like Lyrael with Oralee.

    The Instrument could only hope that he had been wrong and that the Singer was elsewhere in the Citadel, though judging by the tear-streaked face of the Marskwoman in front of her, well, he didn’t want to think on it any longer. “Lyrael, have you heard from your Conductor? The Choirmaster wants to see everyone that was at Cataline that day to convene at the Eyrie Thea…tre…” Gwyne trailed off as he raised his eyes to the distant horizon. From their vantage point in the courtyard, the forest a little ways away from the Citadel was invisible, but in the distance, just barely discernible, there definitely were airships heading their way. If the situation at Cataline was anything to go by, he sincerely doubted that the vehicles were friendly. The airships were still faraway, but rapidly approaching. They would probably pass over the edge of the forest in a couple of hours. It was at that moment that everyone in the Courtyard heard a soft but still intelligible high-pitched whistle as identical streams of smoke and fire erupted from the airships.

    “Fire!” yelled Gwyne, pointing at the sky. He hoped that the towers were manned. The projectiles were much faster than the airships and would likely take no more than a few minutes before reaching the Citadel. Another volley was fired. And another. One of the projectiles plunged directly down before exploding in mid-air. Behind the fire and smoke, the airships continued firing salvo after salvo. Gwyne had never seen the like, but he was sure it was all deadly. The airships were now veiled by smoke. The attack was beginning.”
  18. Lyrael momentarily stiffened as the younger man wrapped his arms around her, before gingerly patting him on the back in what she hoped was an appropriate reaction. Suddenly she felt guilty for smacking him.

    "Hi Gwyne," she murmured, pulling away from him and slipping her arm into the bow to let it hang from her shoulder. "Good to see that my favourite Instrument made it back." She tried to give him a dry smirk, wiping away the last of the tears from cheeks.

    "Where's Oralee?" He asked.

    She took a deep breath before answering, a vision of Oralee flashing before her. Tall and straight-backed with small wrists and black hair that curled down her back. She moved like water eddying at the edge of a brook.
    "I don't know. The Sentinels got her," Lyrael replied clearly, looking at him in the eye. Trying to seem as though she'd come to terms with what had happened.

    I can't stop seeing her, Lyrael wanted to add, but refrained. Seven year's Gwyne's elder, she was something of a mentor to him, and sharing the remark seemed inappropriate and awkward.

    Before the silence between them grew too long, Gwyne started speaking. She opened her mouth to respond and then gasped slightly as she followed his gaze.
    "What….?" She trailed off. A trickle of cold fear slipped down her back. Airships. "I thought that the Crownsong had sent almost every airship in the Kingdom to the South…"

    The Citadel's high walls would mean nothing to those flying monstrosities.
    The Crownsong intends to capture or kill us all, she thought.

    At the first stream of smoke and fire, Lyrael grabbed Gwyne's hand.
    "Come on. We're of no use to anyone if we stand here."

    She sprinted as fast as her legs would carry her to the Citadel's second wall, up the flights of switchbacked stairs, to the walkway at base of the wall, and through the tunnel which let to the interior protected by the second wall. At this point, Lyarel looked back at Gwyne, unsure of what to do. Should she lead the Nightingale to safety? Should she stand and fight against the airships of Cataline? Giving a small helpless noise, she made for the stairs which led to the second wall's battlements, but before the she could reach the first step a Maestro grabbed her thin shoulder.

    "Lyrael, where is your Singer? Your arrows will not hit their marks from here without her!" Then he ran past her and up to the battlements, leaving Lyrael to wallow in rage and sorrow. It wasn't just Lyrael who needed Oralee, it was the whole Citadel. Oralee was a powerful Singer with an immense vocal range and a creative bent, capable of harnessing the Lifestream through Songs that she had just improvised. She was probably the closest thing to a genius that Lyrael had ever witnessed. Oralee's natural talent had motivated Lyrael to work day and night to become the best Marksmen she could possibly be, fearful that Oralee would leave her if she wasn't good enough. The Singers' Conductor had noticed Oralee's ability too, acknowledging that if she ever stopped travelling across Fynia, Oralee would immediately receive an invitation to become a Preceptor.

    But, for now, the Singers of the Citadel would have to carry on without her. Lyrael would have to try her best, too, no matter how hard it was.

    She looked around for Gwyne.
    "Are you still going to meet the Choirmaster? I don't really remember the fastest way to get to the Theatre-- it's been years since I've explored the Eyrie."
    #18 Betelgeuse, Aug 23, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 23, 2014
  19. A gentle rhythm rocks the wooden carriage wherein Jochanaan and his charge, Adelia, sit. Jochanaan is at the front of the cart, driving his old mule into pulling the cart down the way to Cataline; Adelia, meanwhile, reclines at the back, wholly enjoying the landscape.

    Surrounding the road the two Swordsingers journey through is a vast, deciduous forest. With the season nearing the peak of autumn, the forest floor is covered in the rich, ruddy gold of dried-out leaves, and streaming from this fallow earth is the heady aroma of fertile decay, of fulfilled love. The brilliance of the sun breathes sweet vigor into all the colors of the woods, as it passes into a mild spectrum through the bared branches of the trees. Birds flutter by, following silently the southward course of the carriage; they enliven the skies both high and low, strengthening the sylvan chaos of the morning light.

    A playful question from Adelia joins the chorus of beating wings. "Master, can birds sing like we Singers can?"

    Jochanaan, ever the deep thinker, furrows his brow. " know, child, I've never really thought about that...."

    Adelia, who reclines against the back of Jochanaan seat, turns and faces him. Her voice and countenance is more serious, though her lips are still arced into an especially wide grin. "Well-", a bump in the road interrupts her for a brief moment, "-birds can sing, right? And they seem to, er, act like us when talking to each other, right?"

    "And so?" The carriage has slowed down. Jochanaan watches his student intently.

    "So it stands to reason that they could, er, feel, they could embrace the song, seize it, Si-" Adelia sneezes; Jochanaan promptly evades.

    He continues her musing. "-ng it? Perhaps. Though if they could, certainly their art is different to that of our own; birds don't seem to be able to speak, nor even understand, our speech, and our modes of melody. And I'm sure their Songs don't have as powerful an effect on Fynia as our own."

    "Why so?"

    With a discreet chuckle, Jochanaan answers, "Because those Ortolans we enjoyed yesterday didn't seem to give our hosts any trouble."

    Above Adelia, Arien, and Eric roost a host of songbirds. The springtime season has brought them north, to the Edge of the World and beyond, to breed and rest. Their songs fill the cool mountain air of the Citadel, though in a subtle manner, without intruding upon the Swordsingers' exercises.

    "Oh, look over there, Master", Adelia points to a stone pillar by a bend on the road. Though the pillar is cracked and covered in green, the line of letters engraved upon its round face remain clear. "Cataline", she notes, "Twelve miles away."

    A satisfied smile fills Jochanaan. "Then we're making good time. We'll definitely reach Cataline before nightfall."

    Starlight hits the corner of Adelia's sight. As the carriage follows the bend, she finds its source: above the woody brown of the trees, a lonely nugget of gold hangs among the clouds, shining brighter than the sun. Forward they go, along the now straightened path; the star rises.

    She cocks her head in curiosity, and another glint reveals itself. Her position she shifts; twins join the spectacle. She shifts again; and another, and another, and another. Soon, the sky seems afire in gilded glitter, and even Jochanaan starts to take notice. The light is blinding, and it forces him to squint to find their way. "Damned light!"

    Adelia's cheerful expression darkens into frustration, though she herself remains delicate: "Do you know where the light's coming from?"

    "I'm not sure", he answers, while slowing his mule down. "I'm sure, however, that it's related to Cataline somehow." The cart stops, and the two disembark.

    "I don't remember encountering anything like this the last time I went to Cataline", Adelia ponders openly.

    "Hmm...." Jochanaan moves forward and backward, down one end of the street to another, hoping to catch a fuller view of the lights. At a certain point, he climbs up one of the nearby oaks, and it is there that he discovers the truth behind the shine. Upon reaching the top of the tree, he notices an peculiar, shadowy outline enclosing the morning constellation. The specks of light, he realizes, are glued to a tall, stone structure, tinted a light blue so as to blend into the sky; they themselves come from the gold that lines the tower's windows, moldings, and grotesques.

    Adelia, who has joined him atop the same tree, sees the same thing. "It is - er, related to Cataline, that is." Her wide grin returns. "I think it was a rather cloudy day, the last time we went here; yes, now I remember. It was - er, a cloudy day, then, and, er, we came from the east, too, as the sun was setting. Those lights, that tower - that's the Cataline Palace. Or, er, at least its tip."

    "It's magnificent!"

    "Oh, it's rather garish, if you ask me", Adelia rather condescendingly remarks, as she makes her way down the oak. "Especially once you see it up close. All those linings, sculptures - it's all, er, sickeningly opulent."

    Clouded hazel-green eyes cut through Adelia's somber cheer. A sharp chill shivers down her spine, and her subtle smile is replaced by an embarrassed blush. She could not believe that a man of Master Eric's condition could look at someone like that. With her head bowed low, she retreats a few steps back, and she fails to catch the Singer's seemingly addled remark.

    Meanwhile, the avian chorus abruptly ends their music.

    A hint of smoke flows into Jochanaan's lungs. "Do you smell that?" he asks his charge, with one of his eyebrows raised inquisitively.

    "Smell what?"

    "Smoke." He draws a long, deep sniff. "And not the kind that fills taverns and homesteads; no, it smells raw, uncontrolled, as if its fuel weren't made merely of logs and kindling." Once again, he halts their progress. Before them stands another signpost: 'Cataline - Four miles away.'

    The cool air around them inches into warmth as a grey fog begins blanketing the road before them. Flecks of dust flow with this dry mist. "I still don't smell it", Adelia responds; she is facing the opposite direction.

    "Turn around, then." She obeys, and sees that the cloud has thickened into a black ooze. Her eyes widen in astonishment. "Do you smell it now?"

    "I still can't smell it." Her profile hardens, as she draws her head closer to the cloud, trying to catch even just the subtlest of whiffs.

    The wind suddenly changes direction, and the party of two is hit by this wall of soot. Jochanaan calmly yet quickly wraps a towel around his face; Adelia, meanwhile, is incapacitated by a vociferous bout of sneezing.

    Jochanaan tries to pull their carriage away from the mess, but their beast buckles under the fear of flame and, in a panic, breaks off from its reins. The cart collapses, and Adelia is thrown to the far side of the road. Her arms, around which two long, serpentine bracers of brazen gold are wrapped, protect her head from the fall. Her master, who managed to escape the collapse without accident, runs toward her, and helps her up. Adelia, at this point, is gasping for each breath, so he rushes her to the nearest clearing.

    He lays down his charge. Adelia is quick to recover. Jochanaan sighs in relief. "Oh, I thank the gods you are alright!"

    "I - I smell it now, master", Adelia beams weakly.

    Grimness fills Jochanaan's countenance, as he makes his observations on the fire. "A wildfire in the middle of autumn? This couldn't possibly be natural....An arsonist's work is what this is."

    Adelia turns to face the golden sun. She sees two grey orbs floating far above the forest; bright red streaks of light occasionally pour from one of their ends, and into the forest. "Ma - Jochanaan, look." Her voice is small and frail, as she points to the east.

    Jochanaan follows Adelia. "Yes. Arson...."

    The smoke slowly clears.

    "....those who went to Cataline have been called to the theatre for a meeting. Oh, never know when the owner might return." Heavy steps follow the Master's now lightened words.

    Suddenly, a great ball of flame flies toward the group. Adelia, quick at the draw, Sings a short yet powerful Warsong to control and deflect the projectile. She is only partly successful; the fireball flies toward the room Adelia believed to be Arien's, and the succeeding blast knocks her, and perhaps the rest of the party, to the ground.

    Adelia pushes herself up. She notices a thick stream of crimson flowing down her bare left arm. On seeing this, she is stunned twice: first, for the gravity of the wound, as the wound reaches from her wrist to her elbow; and second, for the fact that she had forgotten to wear her bracers that day. She cannot help but scream in terror, albeit briefly and, oddly enough, without much panic.

    Her ears capture the sound of another salvo of flame.
    #19 RiverNotch, Aug 24, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2014
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  20. Attack.
    The bloodshed was almost routine now. Screaming and shouting rang in Arien's ears, some from the yard, some from memory - a shot of pain hit his heart. Light dimmed around him. Nearby sounds of explosion registered far too late, and a slab of something hard shocked against his shoulder. The slightly stunned Meranin let out a yelp and dove to the ground.
    Before...he had been angry. But now? A thin line of sweat broke out along his forehead.
    Now he was terrified.
    Move, you idiot!
    With an inward grunt, the Skylark sprung over sideways, landed hard on his side. It hurt like hell, but pain would always remain that - a mirage, a scream of the senses. Pain couldn't kill. Staying out here?
    That would kill. A new sort of look came into his face and Arien scrambled to his feet. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed Adelia, standing there, staring at her scarlet arm like she didn't have another one.
    More explosion. The boy considered just leaving her there, but...
    "Did they train you to act like an initiate?!"

    Narrow-eyed, the sailor hissed and tried grabbing Adelia's arm, but his injured fingers refused to close around it. Arien cursed aloud. Fuck all. He improvised, hooking an arm through her garb in rude fashion and took off towards the open yard. Something crashed down beside him, he didn't think to see what it was.
    Get away from everything tall.
    The former pirate swerved to the left, past a smoking crater, stumbling. Each pump of the legs made his stomach ache worse, but - there was something in the noise - in the chaos - that made him forget the pain. Arien felt his lips twitch into a smile and quickly forced a scowl, eyes narrowing to bothered slits. Wasn't natural to grin during a seige. That was a habit he should really keep in check. One of these day, he'd-

    With an uncharacteristic squeal, the young man snapped back to the present moment. The ground gave out beneath him, and he winced, bones jarring on impact with the ground. Stairs. Stairs. Something warm and stupid fell against his back - probably Adelia - but he forced her up and was sprinting again before the crash had hardly registered.
    People were likewise sprinting about the courtyard. Or wherever they were now. All he knew was that in this direction, the smoke was thinner, and once they were safe enough to think they could come up with a rough plan of sorts. All of them - the Swordsingers - except-
    Out of the corner of his eye the sprinting Skylark noticed a completely, entirely bewildered man flailing about, perhaps searching for something. Theatre, he thought he'd heard. The other young man wasn't dressed as a Swordsinger. Lost? Odd.
    Arien slowed by him for a moment, as if he were about to stop, but inevitably sped up again, down another flight of steps, into a tunnel.
    He had enough lost sheep to herd without that one.
    Couldn't be bothered.


    Stone - that was the first thing Arien noticed about the corridor. Worn stone, pleasantly cool to the touch, and for the moment unsinged by the chaos of siege. The Meranin had finally come to a stop, and now leaned heavily against one of the tunnel walls, his lungs greedily inhaling the momentarily untainted air - but already he could smell traces of smoke and fire. A few people rushed by, snapping orders, but he didn't pay them any mind. Instead, his gaze turned to Adelia. For the past few minutes of running she'd been nothing more than a slight pain in the arm, but at least now he could make sure she was alright. His raucous eyes scanned her body once in full and then turned back to the hazy opening of the corridor. No missing limbs. They should get going soon. A counterattack would be either in demand or in progress. The landscape was an utter mess. Those fighting would need all the help they could get.
    Again, a small smirk teased at the corner of Arien's mouth, and he frowned it away. They should probably get to the Theatre too, if not directly into the fray.

    "Know where we are?"

    The Meranin shifted weight, legs moving impatiently despite throbbing with pain.
    Oh. Wait. Adelia.
    An exaspirated groan passed over his features.

    "Actually - nevermind. Nevermind. Can't believe I asked you a semi intelligent question".

    #20 Vinyl, Aug 26, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2014
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