Tales of the Loerom Guardians

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by azure_night, Apr 1, 2013.

  1. “Are you all right little one?” There was no rain, no sign of any clouds in the sky but yet she was soaked to the bone, and freezing. Coming to realization she started shaking, gathering herself up in a small ball trying to catch warmth from whatever heat was left in her body, and saw that there were arms wrapped under her, carrying her like the child she was. Dazed, she couldn't remember how she got here and who this person was but she felt safe, almost as if this person was her mother that was carrying her. All life rushed into her as her eyes went wide with shock and sorrow, tears welling up in the corners ready to burst. She yammered a few words, “Ma, ma,..” but couldn't bring herself to say it. A surge of heartache went through her body as she remembered the flames, the scorching heat she could feel flash across her cheeks as she tried to run into the rubble, to wherever her dead mothers' body lie. Before she could think of it anymore, the arms soon released from under her in place of hands, cupping under her arms raising her up into the light of the sun. Surprised, the thoughts washed away and in place of her flashback, was a man.

    Kisku awoke suddenly, her heartbeat racing in her chest as the remnants of the dream were fading away. Her vision blurred a bit from her eyes opening so quickly and the bright sun shining through the windows of the guardians conservatory made it even harder to keep her eyes open. She moved her head away from the stone pillar that had held her head up when she had fallen asleep and stood up, stretching out all her tight muscles in her body that was stiff from the uncomfortable position she was in when waiting on the hard metal bench. Sighing after, she squinted her eyes, the sun still too bright and put a hand up on her head blocking it a bit as she looked up, trying to see how far the sun was down and calculating how long she had slept. It was past early morning and it looked to be almost noon, Kisku couldn't help but feel worried. It's been years since she had last had that dream, and every single time she couldn't remember a single thing about it. When she brought it up to her most cherished Guardian, Alistaire, one day, he would only tell her that it was best not to remember it at all. It would only cause her unwanted distress. With that, she did as he told her, thinking nothing of it because if a Guardian believed it was not good for her, then there is no point in arguing. Lowering her hand from her head she looked over her shoulder to the glass doors, expecting for it to open at any moment now. Getting antsy, she bit her lip and her face scrunched up in uneasiness, she couldn't help feeling this way. Despite that she usually arrives at the training meeting earlier than usual, it was now well past the meeting time and neither of the Guardians were here or even Nabi. Without another second thought or thinking the worst had happened to all three, she ran towards the doors and threw them open, trying hard not to be too aggressive with them and took a step outside. She felt the warmth and cool breeze flow through her light blue dress. The city of Loerom was already bustling about with merchants on every alleyway of the clustered stone city, yelling out special deals and advertising their items to the potential customers. Looking around as she started walking down the steps into the market square, she searched for a familiar face in hopes that her assumptions would be proven wrong.
  2. Nabi stretched, feeling his slightly pointed incisors curl his lip upwards as he yawned widely, then looked from side to side, mildly disoriented. Shelves of books extended in every direction, and he felt his memory slowly returning. <i>That's right. Nicodemus told me to study and sealed the door.</i> He'd spent the rest of the night trying to undo the seal on the door, but his knowledge of thaumaturgy had proved insufficient against his mentor's innate magic, as evidenced by the elaborate circles and runes surrounding him, which had trailed off into frustrated scribbles around midnight, when he'd finally fallen asleep. But the sun had risen some hours ago, and the seal should have popped at dawn. Armed with this knowledge, he jogged the window latch, and was delighted when it slid open easily. <i>And like hell I'm passing Nicodemus's study. He told me there was a meeting this morning, anyway, so I'll just go there.</i> He was usually late for the training, especially when his mentor didn't put in the effort to drag him there, so he felt no need to hurry. Slowly, wincing at the soreness that came from sleeping on the floor, he swung first one leg and then the other out of the window, dropping down onto the ledge beneath it and swinging the window shut, careful not to crack the expensive glass.

    He stood, thankful for his mother's heritage as he instinctively balanced himself, and stepped gingerly onto the next roof over, attempting to make as little noise as possible. In Loerom, most of the buildings had clay, slate, or simple stone roofs, and most roofs were flat or only slightly slanted, so hopping the rooftops was child's play. He'd grown up in Lorienne and Daedalus in turns, the first dizzyingly high and the second dizzyingly disorienting, where one slip of the foot could lead to permanent disability; he'd like to think that he could handle the simple courses of a mundane city. No, the main hazard in Loerom was the horde of merchants willing to assume that any roof-hopper was a thief.

    Eyes narrowing slightly, counting his steps, Nabi marked the Guardians' Conservatory, one of the only high buildings in the city and notable for the unstolen glass that covered its exterior, then began to move quickly, sketching an illusion of a visor to shield his eyes from the glaring sun. Within a minute, he'd reached the market square. He started back in surprise, though, upon seeing the doors open and Kisku walking out. <b>"No way they're done yet,"</b> he muttered, dropping into the square and shoving past a spice merchant, fixing an irritated look on his face. Either way, he might be able to escape punishment by pretending the seal had just now expired. King willing- though sometimes the King of Cats was more trouble than he was worth to call on- Nicodemus hadn't been tracking it.
  3. Kisku finally reached the end of the stairs and before she could move any further, a burly merchant called out to her, "Kisku, dearest! Oh, my favorite customer!" Instinctively turning towards the voice, she saw Szar, her armor and weapons shopkeeper coming to her left waving a sword in the air, possibly the most recent one he just forged. There were a few yelps from the civilians who unluckily happened to be passing him and merchants at their posts had started yelling angrily at him, his sword close to hitting their goods. Kisku could only look on at him with uncomfortableness, knowing that Szar sure does like to make a big show of himself and she didn't feel that now was the right time to cross paths. She turned away from him and started heading deeper into the crowd as Szar bellowed out, "No! Don't run away! I must have you try my latest weapon! Kisku!" Excusing herself consistently as she pushed her way through the crowd, she said under her breath, "Oh Szar, I'm sorry. Just not now. I have to find-" She bumped into another merchant and fell to the ground. Going through the marketplace with such quickness was not the best idea, and Kisku was too small to push her way through.

    "There you are my dear!" Jumping at the voice, she slowly looked behind her and found Szar, his gigantic height towering over her and casting a shadow around where she sat. She smiled a bit to him and said sweetly, "Szar, this is not a good time. I need to find the Guardians and Nabi. I'm sorry, I have no time time to test your sword." She waited for his response, he was very intimidating at first glance, his long beard reaching past his stomach which was ripped with muscles as well with the rest of his body. "Nabi?" He said as he sheathed the sword into a brown scabbard, tightly tied onto his belt. He then raised his large hand, reaching up to rub the side of his sharp and chiseled cheek before exclaiming, "Ah! I found him for you!"
    "Wait, where?" Kisku said eagerly and in her surprise, Szar reached down and lifted her up and placed her on his broad shoulders. Kisku happily started giggling as she made herself comfortable. Szar pointed out at the far end of the market, and Kisku could only see a figure with black hair moving through the crowd pushing away the merchants that got in his way.
    "He's quite a hostile one, that Nabi. I shall take you to him!" Szar gripped Kisku's waist slightly so she would have enough stability and started to go through the marketplace with ease as everyone made room for him. Kisku gleamed at the sight of Nabi and happily waved her arm in the air shouting to him, "Nabi! I'm so happy to see you right now!"
  4. Nabi was almost knocked down by a fruit merchant bellowing out the prices for his wares. Cursing, he regained his balance, glaring at the man. Damn it, I should wrap an illusion around his head. See how he likes falling over himself. Shaking his head curtly- no time for idiots these days, he had a scolding to avoid- he turned and began to shove his way through the crowd again. He had barely made it two meters in the bustling mess when a path cleared up in front of him, much to his surprise. He looked up, eyes slightly widening at the sheer size of the man in front of him, before he recognized the merchant. "Oh. King's blood, Szar, you gave me a start." He shook his head. The man was lucky enough to be able to make the crowd move with little effort; all told, the feeling of being snuck up on by a giant was incredibly unsettling.

    He looked up at Kisku, waving down at him from her perch atop the man's shoulders. "What's up?" he asked, elevating his voice slightly to be heard. Kisku was one of the few people that he didn't really dislike talking to, perhaps owing to her easygoing nature. The older Guardians were too restrictive and treated him like some damn kid, and most of the other people he had to deal with were the same way. Though Nicodemus had just responded that he should treat it as an advantage when he'd complained. Oh, right. Nicodemus. Flinching slightly, he looked behind Kisku for any sign of the grim man, but was surprised to realize that both he and Alistaire were missing. Maybe they hadn't shown up? He shook his head, the corner of his mouth quirking upwards-- no way.

    "I just woke up-- did those two old men not show up to the meeting either?" he queried, glancing back at the Conservatory. "And after I spent my precious energy getting here, too." Though he had to admit it was a little worrying. They were both usually incredibly punctual, perhaps a trait derived from years of meeting with royals and nobles. For them to be late, what circumstances would be required? The fall of an empire? The elves declaring war? The angel's flying city crashing?

    "Without wild expostulation, what could have happened?" he mused.
  5. Kisku's smile faded when Nabi asked about the two missing Guardians. Szar noticing her gloomy look, patted her small leg with his hand before reaching up and picking her off from his shoulder and letting her down onto the cobblestone. She thanked Szar quietly and turned her attention toward Nabi, asking, "They aren't with you? I've been waiting since sunrise and I haven't seen either of them." Her words fell away from her mouth as a stabbing sensation went through her body, her worries starting to eat away at her thoughts. The Guardians were always at the side of their pupils, Kisku or Nabi, it didn't matter, they were never left alone even if for a short period of time. Kisku knew then, something was wrong, awfully wrong and she couldn't bear to think what would have happened to her dear mentors.

    She stared at Nabi longingly, and hoped he could comfort her from her uneasiness. In some strange way, Nabi's comments and opinions have always calmed her down, especially when she was on a verge of losing her emotions. She remembered the first time he arrived in Loerom and when Nicodemus had introduced him to Kisku and Alistaire. Nabi at first didn't speak to anyone. Every so often, Kisku had started conversations with Nabi, inviting him to join her during meals or accompany her on her errands. She knew he was lonely, being far away from his home and among strangers would be hard on anyone, and took it upon herself to make him feel welcomed. The mentors let the two be, letting them both clearly know it would be best to get along now since they would be future Guardians together in the many long years. Kisku believed they both made a good pair, as Guardians, they balanced each other well. Though sometimes, she couldn't help but feel like a burden to Nabi with her emotions, and wished she could be as stable as Nabi."Nabi.." There were tears starting to form in her eyes as she asked him, "Alistaire and Nicodemus, they are okay? Right?"

    Szar bent down and whispered to Kisku, breaking her attention away from Nabi for a few seconds, "The King's guards are approaching us." Blinking away her tears, she glanced beyond Nabi's shoulder and saw two knights on their horses hurriedly making their way to where they were standing. Kisku narrowed her eyes and straightened up her posture, gritting her teeth in disdain. These were the Knights of the Scarlet Helm, notorious for their merciless killings whenever someone would go against the King. Kisku disliked the Scarlet Helm, and found no reason for why they were the King's most valued pawns, when all their duty lies in murders of people who are unable to have an opinion of the one that rules over them. Fortunately, she is one of the very few people who can show her distaste for them, her ties within the king's circle were highly regarded, making her one of the respected persons adding in the recognition of one of the Guardians pupils. The Guardians hardly approached the Scarlet Helm and they did the same, unless the King ordered so. Their appearance made the situation turn grim, and Kisku bitterly came to understanding that Alistaire and Nicodemus were not going to show up any time soon.
  6. Nabi frowned. As much as he hated the old coot, he was a little concerned. Nicodemus was never late, and from what he'd seen, Alistaire was much the same way. This was highly odd, he had to admit. Since the day when he'd arrived in the city, Nicodemus' irritating manner and incessant presence had been one of the few constants in his life. Though in all probability they were overreacting, and the two Guardians had simply gotten tied up in diplomatic business, he didn't like to think of the alternative. No, it was impossible, he was sure. And if he was worrying, he was sure Kisku was feeling sick. Putting on his best reassuring smile, he reached out and clapped her on the shoulder. "Don't worry," he said simply. "Do you know how hard I've been trying to kill that old man? They're tougher than we think." He conjured up a grin.

    His smile faded, though, as he turned to the side, eyeing the knights. Scarlets, huh? He despised the Scarlets. They'd made him miserable in his first few weeks; unused to the rooftops being off-limits, he hadn't expected to be shot with a crossbow bolt upon approaching the palace. That was the one time he could remember that Nicodemus had given someone else a hard time on his behalf; something about Sidhe being unused to the idea of property, didn't they know he was a child of the Valois family, and how dare they attack a child under the protection of the Guardians... Of course, who cares if they shoot a few street rats. No one will miss them anyway, after all. Masking the sour curl of his mouth, he did his best to sculpt his face into a pleasant mask. No use making enemies among the patricians, and more importantly, he might have need of that composure soon if there did turn out to be a serious problem.

    Without waiting for the Scarlets to speak, when they were close enough to be heard, Nabi drew himself up to his full, moderately unimpressive height, lifting his chin, and spoke, pitching his voice to be heard as he'd been taught. If he waited longer, Kisku might say something instead, and he'd always been better at the cold, formal, and untouchably courteous disdain trick. "Greetings, respected Knights of the Scarlet Helm." The polished sentences had been drilled into him over hours of forced practice, curse Nicodemus and his damn seals. His face was expressionless, or at least as empty of emotion as he could keep it. "We currently have the honor of representing the Guardians and stand with the full authority of that station. I trust that you carry a message for us? Please convey it." Eyes narrowed, he met the gaze of the knight in the lead. Though most of his interactions with the Scarlets had been unpleasant, they couldn't exactly accuse him of anything during this crisis, perhaps the one upturn of the day. And given that they had essentially been demoted to errand boys, they were bound to be irritable; perhaps he could prod them into giving something away.
  7. The Knights towered over the two when they reached them, their horses fashioned with glittering silver armor similar to the knights own. The King dressed them in such fashion, letting others know how much power the Scarlets held. The jauntiness these knights had in their own personal demeanor apparently didn't faze the King to have any other reason to add more to their esteem. Kisku huffed in irritation when noticing their armory and was so very close to give them a snide remark about the taxpayers money going towards the wasteful efforts of scum like them. Nabi, fortunately, who was raised more civil than she, commenced the conversation in a courteous manner.

    The leading of the two curtly acknowledged him and spoke, his voice echoing in the headgear that covered the entirety of his face, "Come to the castle at once. The King requests an immediate audience with the both of you. I expect you to be there." Without waiting for a reply from either, both of the knights yanked their horses, in return the animal yelped, and swung around, starting to gallop towards the direction of the castle on the opposite side of the city. "Wait a second-" Kisku started to yell to them, but they were far away now, the civilians trying their best to leap out of the way from being harmed in their midst. Szar shook his head, he looked at the two fading figures questioningly before speaking, "I don't have a very good feeling of this, but my dear Kisku, be safe dear. Scarlets only kill, not deliver messages. There's something of stink in the air today." Almost as if he could actually smell it, he scrunched up his face in disgust, spat on the ground and started muttering to himself as he turned around and making his way back to his shop keep. Kisku turned back around, watching Szar's hunkering figure disappear in the crowd and sighed loudly as she put her fingertips on the side of her forehead rubbing away the irritating emotions as best as she can. Alistaire, she thought to herself, Nicodemus, just where are you two?

    Kisku glanced at Nabi, lowering her arms downs, and nodded towards him. "Nabi, let's get going. We can't let the King wait all day for us." She looked away from him, her feelings of despair creeping up again.
  8. Nabi tensed, keeping his face rigidly calm until they had left. "Tch..." After a moment of infuriated reflection, he spat on the ground vindictively, then checked to make sure he had all of his knives on him. He had a bad feeling about this whole situation, and his instincts were rarely off. In any case, he had better be prepared. For all he knew, this was a trap. It was just too bad that he didn't have proper magic; if he were like his brothers and sisters, he could just waltz into any situation and walk out without a scratch. He couldn't even raise a damn shield properly or pull out claws. Instead, he had to rely on weapons.

    He shook his head firmly. He'd been wallowing in self-pity far too much lately. "Right," he said. "But, Kisku, be on your guard. This sounds like trouble to me." He accented that statement by loosening his belt knife in its sheath. "If there's something bothersome enough that even Nicodemus and Alistaire couldn't easily deal with it, we need to be even more careful. After all-" he gritted his teeth, reluctant to say it- "After all, we're still just trainees, whatever I told the Scarlets." It was the truth, much as he hated to admit it. Neither he nor Kisku could take on an army, while he knew for sure that Nicodemus could and, when necessary, had. In all probability, Alistaire was even stronger.

    With those words, he began to head towards the castle. He'd rather run or take the rooftops, but the Scarlets would shoot him as like as not, and Kisku probably hadn't practiced taking the roofs before. No, this was better. The longer it took them to reach the castle, the longer he'd have to formulate all of the questions he needed answered, and the longer he'd have to think up fancy shells to couch those questions in to avoid looking ignorant. And he might as well enjoy any leisure that he could. Soon, he anticipated, he wouldn't have enough time to rest.
  9. Kisku murmured to Nabi in agreement, taking his advice wisely and followed right behind him. Going through the city of Loerom on a busy afternoon wasn't a pleasant idea during a serious predicament they were in as they rushed through. Merchants, civilians, and fellow adventurers, waved hello to both Nabi and Kisku sometimes stopping them, trying to gain the future Guardians favor by handing them free goods, conversation, or random information. Kisku politely waved happily, smiling and saying hello, stopping every now and again to talk to the adventurers who began telling her stories of their recent journey. This was of course in Kisku's nature, she could never ignore anyone and had to stop almost everything no matter how severe the situation was, to acknowledge whoever spoke to her. She gleamed to the merchant who waved goodbye, and had also gifted her a few healing herbs. She handed the herbs to Nabi, and she could feel his patience wearing thin, giving him a sheepish smile, being this was now the tenth time they had been stopped again. She felt bad that she was making this trip over to the castle a little unbearable for him and was happy to see they had finally made it to the castle. "Look, Nabi," Kisku said still smiling as she started walking away from him, "the King's wonderful palace."

    She looked up in awe, no matter how many times she has seen the castle. It had always been a grandeur sight, leaving her breathless in its' wake. There were no fancy courtyards or pleasant greenery welcoming them before entering, the castle alone didn't need such trivialities. It's two towers rose on the side stretching itself up into the sky, made of the finest white stone, making the entirety of the dwelling reaching ten stories high. Filled to the brim with many rooms and deep dungeons, it would often be compared to the glass conservatory of the Guardians which was large itself, but could never reach the height of the castle. Upon the ascending stairs, the Loerom flags were present, shining their royal blue and white colors in symbol of two branching wings betwixt the shape of a rhombus, representing the exact replica of the castle. A little too giddy, Kisku started to run up the stairs, ready to enter the castle, whether or not Nabi was willing.
  10. Nabi's brows slowly tightened with irritation as a variety of people accosted them, one after another, attempting to curry favor or glean information. Kisku was far too nice to such gnats, in his opinion; there was really nothing to be gained from humoring fools. Far better to get them out of the way with a little mild impoliteness. After all, it saved time for all parties in the long run. Time after time, he came close to snapping at the people. How could Kisku stand to deal with such inanities?

    He frowned as she handed him the herbs, tucking them into a pocket. Maybe those, at least, would come in handy later. <b>"Certainly took long enough to get here,"</b> he muttered, working off his irritability. Visiting the palace was almost always a struggle. Seeing the enormous, gilded, and undoubtedly-expensive-as-the-King's-Crown castle was invariably a day-ruiner. <b>"Let's hurry,"</b> he said, feeling a little impatient. It seemed that Kisku shared the sentiment, as she ran upwards quickly. Nabi followed a little more sedately, glancing from side to side at the ever-present guards. Perhaps it was just paranoia, but this didn't seem right.

    The guards had evidently been expecting them, as the doors to the King's hall opened without his having to say a word. The King himself was sitting on a bejeweled throne at the end of a red carpet; though he was getting on in years, he was still one of the most feared men in the region. Loerom's own tyrant, those safely out of his reach liked to say. And-- Nabi stopped in his tracks, shocked-- his own brother, the Valois heir, was standing by the throne, along with a few influential people from the other cities. <i>If Alexandre is here-- not to mention those others-- it means that this situation affects the Sidhe. Otherwise, why would he bother?</i> His mind working slowly, he dropped into the proper bow. Did that mean the older Guardians had found a major, realm-wide threat? The Guardians were on good enough terms with the Sidhe that a trap simply didn't seem feasible. Unless, after all, it was meant to kill more than one bird with one stone.
  11. Entering the castle, and seeing the king upon his throne, Kisku felt her smile fade as she saw the crowd that gathered around his throne. Oh no, Kisku thought with dread, this is the worst possible situation. She started to uncontrollably shake, her tears welling up again. Kisku gritted her teeth hard, looked away from the eyes of the Royals as she tried her best to control her emotions. It was an unusual sight, to see all Royal advisers of the main cities gathered in the presence of the Loerom King. The king was not known to be a social butterfly, and their grim looks made it apparent that this was not a happy gathering.

    Kisku curtseyed deeply to the king, her head slightly bowed and straightened back up, her respect only withstanding for a few seconds. The king gave her an amused smile, finding her brashness comical. "Ah, Kisku. So nice to see you again, strange to see you not hiding behind Alistaire." He spoke softly to her, not using his stern voice that he often shouts commands to his guards and puppets. She narrowed her eyes, straining from making a bold remark. The king and her had history together, the only thing she can remember was when she was a child, her mother having an affair with him. It seemed he had a deep fondness to her mother, and treated Kisku like his own daughter ever since her disappearance. At least, that was what Kisku was told, her mother had vanished one day, but she always had the nagging feeling that was not the whole truth. Getting treated nicely by the king while others lived in fear of him, Kisku automatically held a bitterness toward him.

    Ignoring his comment, Kisku glanced over at Nabi, who stopped for a few seconds, reacting to one of the royal advisers and quickly bowed to the King. She followed his hasty gaze and saw another Sidhe, and she furrowed her brows. The Sidhe lifted his head up to Nabi, in some sort of acknowledgement, and turned his eyes to Kisku. She blushed from his stare, embarrassed from her gazing and felt like she intruded in something personal, and she hurriedly turned her attention back to the king. She tried hard not to stammer out, "My King, you have requested for us and we are here." She paused clearing her throat as she brushed her hand to her mouth, gathering up her posture from her sudden outburst. "What is the meaning of this? Where are the Guardians, Alistaire and Nicodemus?" The smile slowly faded, the king in deep thought now. He put his elbows up on the armrests of the throne, interlacing his fingers together and slightly turned his head in response of the question.

    "We were going to ask you that," He began to say as he scrunched his eyes trying to see through the two of them, "but it seems you do not know either."
    Kisku scoffed, crossing her arms she argued her adrenaline starting to rush now, "What is that suppose to mean? That you haven't an idea where they're at either? You're lying, I can see right through you! Tell me where they are now!" Her voice echoed, and Kisku drew back in surprise of her shout, she murmured an apology, looking away from the king, not being able to look at him in the eye with her shame and lack of dignity. The Royal advisers soon started whispering to one another, exchanging looks back and forth with one another to Nabi and Kisku. A few words were heard, liars, traitors, doubt, and so on in the same form. Kisku now hung her head low, not being able to talk anymore.

    The king raised his hand to silence the Royal advisers and abruptly they stopped, he brought his hand back down and relaxed into his throne before speaking. "There now, no need to get riled up, Kisku. Unfortunately, we're not lying. The Guardians have gone missing ever since we sent them on a mission last night to aid the Sidhes' in the hunt for a demon that was causing countless murders and disappearances. The both of them never showed up and the Sidhe alone, barely, defeated the demon. This is the first that the Guardians have not lived up to their responsibilities. Strange, that neither of you know where they have gone off to." His last sentence sounded accusatory, and Kisku raised her head back up, her rage building up inside of her. She couldn't even begin to start firing back, she was so angry all she could do was scowl at the tyrant before her.
  12. Nabi frowned slightly as Kisku and the king exchanged words. So he didn't know where the Guardians were. His mind acted quickly, following the logical possibilities. The King wasn't insane; for all he hated the man, he was efficient, which means that if he were responsible for the Guardians' disappearance, there would be no need to play with him and Kisku in this manner. So he could rule out that possibility. The Sidhe had nothing to gain as a group, so they couldn't be the main force behind this crisis, and besides, it would make no sense; since he was a Valois, the Sidhe would tend to aid the guardians, rather than harm them. There were simply too many variables to come to a conclusion--

    He winced visibly as Kisku shouted, jarring him out of his thoughts. Perhaps he should have said something earlier, but it was too late in any case. Damage control, then. Haughtily, he raised his head, gazing pointedly at the loudest speakers amongst the advisors with a controlled expression. A few had the decency to look contrite; the others simply sniffed or snorted or looked away.

    As the king continued to speak, his brows slowly drew together. A demon? It was the first he'd heard of any of this. But 'barely defeated'? Depending on which families had been involved, that could indicate that a severe threat had been present. But severe enough to remove both of the elder Guardians? Impossible. Before Kisku could say anything-- for she tended to be passionate and speak out of turn-- he broke into the conversation, carefully controlling every action and word so as to stem his irritation. This damn man, speaking down to us. I'm sorry for what I'm about to say, Kisku. Doubtless she'd take it the wrong way.

    He bent in a slight bow, hand over heart, before straightening to address the king. "Your Majesty, I assure you that this issue has developed through no fault of our own; both Kisku and I remain your loyal servants, and we were unaware that our mentors were even summoned." What I want to say is get the hell out of my sight for disrespecting my mentor. But that would be unacceptable, wouldn't it? He conjured up a slight smile and pulled magical lessons from memory, hoping that he would not blunder. "It's convenient that Nicodemus performed a magical working before he left last night, and that traces remain currently. His radius of ability permanence far exceeds the distance to the Sidhe forest, so if the working did not fall when the sun rose--" he swallowed slightly, hoping that Kisku would not take it too badly-- "If the working fell sometime during the night, that would coincide with a time of attack or defeat, as an innate ability requires consciousness to work or sustain. We cannot rule out the probability that the reason for the elder Guardians' absence is that they have been badly injured or killed." There. The elephant in the room was in plain sight now.

    He continued, not meeting Kisku's eyes. "In that case, Your Majesty, I would like to remind you that we are the acting Guardians and, as such, hold the full authority of their status. We will do our utmost to investigate the cause of Nicodemus' and Alistaire's absence."
  13. Like many situations before whenever Kisku had the urge to shout obscenities, Nabi stepped in, saving her from making a fool of herself even more. She huffed with obvious irritation but she knew this is where she should cease any interaction with anyone. She sensed Nabi's presence right beside her bowing, as would any noble would to someone of higher regard. Always the sophisticated one. She mused to herself as she listened to Nabi, Ah, loyal servants? She tried hard to not break her countenance, stifling in a laugh that could erupt any second. Taking in a breath, Kisku shifted her attention toward Nabi, intently concentrating on what he had to say.

    "It's convenient that Nicodemus performed a magical working before he left last night, and that traces remain currently. His radius of ability permanence far exceeds the distance to the Sidhe forest,--" Kisku frowned upon hearing this instantly. If so, then they should be fine. But why haven't they returned then? In response to her question Nabi continued, "If the working fell sometime during the night, that would coincide with a time of attack or defeat, as an innate ability requires consciousness to work or sustain. We cannot rule out the probability that the reason for the elder Guardians' absence is that they have been badly injured or killed."Alarmed, Kisku turned to Nabi, hoping what he said was just a ploy to stop the allegations. Looking at him now, she realized it was a serious possibility. Not those two. Never, they're the Guardians, protectors of everyone living on this world. We're not even close to strong as them. Her hands were clenched now, her face torn in sadness. We can't even live up to take their place even if- She stopped it right there, she could feel her whole body wracking now, in anger, disbelief, and horror. Scoffing, her teeth now grinding on each other, she stormed out of the palace, leaving Nabi behind.

    The king watched as Kisku almost ran, her shimmering black hair flowing in the sunlight and her small figure trying to rush, out of the palace. When Nabi had finished, he silently stared off into the distance in deep thought. He listened to the advisers mumble about the Guardians, whether they were deceased or still living and had abandoned their post and duty to the kingdoms. Fools. The king knew the Guardians were not invincible, the Great War proved that enough when all the kingdoms had to fight by their side in order to insure victory. Therefore, there was a possibility of death but what person, thing, could kill two powerful, so powerful almost-like gods, beings who were by each other sides at the same time? Of course, the thought of Guardians abandoning their duties was absurd. They have been protecting this land ever since themselves were successors of the previous Guardians. He stood up suddenly, the Royal advisers ceased their chattering and watched as the king went down from his throne and onto the red carpet. He was a very modest king, dressed in a regular fashion despite he wore a crown of pure gold. He walked towards Nabi, and stopped in front of him, a few feet away.

    "Étienne Valois," the king stared into the Sidhe's eyes as he spoke to him, "both you and Kisku have been granted the greatest honor of them all to be trained under the Guardians and one day take upon their commitment as many have done before you. That day will soon come if you do not find the Guardians. Go now, and find out what has happened to them both or have them returned. If you cannot fulfill either, your place here in the city of Loerom is no longer needed. Neither of you are strong enough to protect anyone, let alone yourselves. Leave my castle, immediately." He turned away from him while gesturing for the guards to escort Nabi out. He sat back down onto his throne, ignoring the advisers as they crowded around, agreeing to his decision. He sighed, knowing that for sure Kisku will hate him even more now, but what needed to be said had been done.
  14. Nabi winced as he felt Kisku turn and storm out; though he didn't dare turn around while in the presence of the king, he could almost feel the force of her emotion, like a hot breeze against the back of his head. Though sometimes he wished she didn't so easily lose control of her emotions, he was hardly one to point and stare. Doubtless she would be angry at him later, but presently, he had the entire court to worry about. Perhaps he should not have implied vulnerability to danger, as their doubt in his and Kisku's abilities was already palpable...

    He inclined his head, then straightened again, refusing to lower his eyes this time, as the king moved down from the throne and began to speak. The man began with his name. How he loathed the name. Valois, as if he hadn't been as good as banished. And Étienne, crown, as though he would ever wear one. It was a fine enough name for an heir; not so good a name for a boy with barely a spark of magic to his name. No matter how well he could wield that spark, it could never stand up to his brothers' bonfires.

    Ears roaring with blood and irritation, teeth extending slightly as his Cat blood responded to his emotion, Nabi could barely summon the composure to bow courteously, as though he had heard more than a few words of the king's instructions. After all, how many things would be said to students whose teachers had failed? He turned, walking out rigidly, only turning back to stop momentarily and glare coldly at the guards who had moved towards him in order to escort him out, his power flaring to life and pulling at the light around him, twisting shadows and colors into unnatural proportions. One fumbled and nearly dropped his spear-- served him right. Like any of this court of yay-sayers had any kind of knowledge or ability. In this world, status followed a bloodline, nothing more. He severed the flow of energy to his ability with a clench of his fist, and everything rushed back to normal with an abrupt snap as he slammed the palace doors behind him. Even a trainee Guardian such as himself had enough power for that, surely.

    Once safely out of the palace, Nabi sighed, letting out a breath, and closed his eyes. Kisku couldn't have gone far, but he had to find her before going to the Guardians' library; naturally, his first step would have to be checking the seal's time of failure. If something had taken out Alistaire and Nicodemus, no doubt they would be on the hit list, and while it might not do any good for them to be together, it would be better than being killed alone, after all. He climbed up the wall of the nearest barracks-- though it wasn't wise, at the moment he couldn't care less. He didn't see Kisku in the immediate area, and a higher vantage point meant a farther sight distance.
  15. Kisku panted heavily as she finally stopped in one of the alleyways in the city, while bending down holding her knees, trying to breathe from her long stride from the palace. I'm sorry Nabi. She stood straight back up, and used the sleeve of her dress to wipe the sweat off of her forehead. She looked behind her and realized she ran all the way back to the marketplace. She was so blinded by rage she didn't even realize she made it this far. Sighing, she started walking out of the alleyway, towards the clustered crowd and the mix of voices. She glanced towards her right when she saw the familiar marketplace, and then her gaze soon followed back to the castle. She wondered what the king had to say to Nabi concerning the Guardians. She narrowed her eyes, thinking of the probability this was the last time the both of them would be able to stay in Loerom. It made her a bit sad, this was basically her home, all the people were wonderful and so nice to her, treating her like family. Regardless of her status as being a Guardian pupil, the people of Loerom have come to enjoyed and fully accepted her. She looked at the crowd that gathered around in the marketplace, their smiling faces and carefree attitude. She smiled to herself, and realized this was the main reason she enthused about being a Guardian ever since Alistaire came into her life; to ensure their lives can continue on like this, without a care in the world.

    "Kisku!" Turning to the voice, she realized it was just another merchant, enthusiastically jumping up and down, a few feet away from her. "Where have you been? I've brought you a gift from the Guardian, Alistaire!" Shocked by the news and thrown off, she couldn't help but stare at the merchant dumbfounded. He continued on, making his way toward her. "He told me to give this to you on this exact day, I'm not sure why. Guardians are always strange and mysterious in their ways but he wanted me to hold onto it until now."Shaking her head, trying her hardest to make sense of it, she stammered, "Wha- I- When, how long ago was this?" The merchant was now in front of her, oblivious to her question, he grabbed her hand and pushed the object into her hand. "There you go! All right, I'm off!" He left in a hurry, he started gleefully laughing to himself. "Wait!" Her voice was lost as he scurried away deeper into the market, disappearing from her sight. She looked down and opened up her hand, examining the object the merchant gave her. It was a small bland golden locket, no inscriptions whatsoever and nothing inside it when she opened it. Alistaire wanted me to have this? She queried as she flipped it over trying to see what was so special and important about it that he had a third party give it to her rather than himself. Finding it strange, but still a valuable object, she unhinged the chain and put it around her neck.It's the only thing I have left, I might as well.

    Kisku assumed the meeting with the king would be ending soon, and it would be best to be by Nabi's side. After all, in this entire world, they only have each other to rely on especially with the circumstances. He's probably looking for me. She sighed heavily, and started to walk back to the castle as much as her entire being refused to, she needed to go back.
  16. Nabi scanned the immediate area, frowning as he saw only a few guards and merchants milling about. No sign of Kisku yet. Had she gone back to the Conservatory? It seemed unlikely-- such an impractical decision wouldn't be like her. But then again, this wasn't a day for predictable actions. There was no helping it; she couldn't have gone far, and right now, using thaumaturgy would only garner unwanted attention from the palace guard. Speaking of which, he needed to get out of sight. Illusions were nice in that they required hardly any power. He concentrated for a bare moment, casting a don't-look-here around himself and attaching it firmly to his clothing. It would be best to avoid an attack, or notice of any sort, after all. He didn't have time for that.

    Taking a deep breath, he began to head across the rooftops, not bothering to crouch down or hide. Anyone looking towards him would see just a shadowy blur, even with the sun glaring down, and only if they were actually looking, not just scanning the area. He glanced from side to side as he moved back in the direction of the Conservatory. Luckily, the library was also in that general direction, so he wouldn't have to spend too much extra time. Kisku had to have gone in this direction; where else would she have headed? However, his certainty was shaken by the time he'd traveled half the distance without a sign of her.

    He was about to give up and perform a tracking when he felt a soft pressure against his mind. He turned, eyes narrowing, to see a small blue butterfly hovering, midair, behind him. A message-bearer? Had Alexandre sent it? He flinched slightly as it approached, only to see it dissolve into Sidhe characters.

    Étienne-- we need to talk. I'll be waiting outside the library at sunset. --Alexandre

    Nabi frowned. What was that supposed to mean? In any case, he could worry about it after he found Kisku. He looked down across the streets, eyes narrowed. Just as he had nearly given up, he spotted Kisku's familiar black hair, moving slowly towards the castle. Ah, good. I was worried for a minute. He dropped down from the roof, some distance from the crowd, and moved towards her, dropping the don't-look-here as he approached. "Yo, Kisku," he called, unable to entirely mask his ill temper. "Found anything new? Old Gold-For-Britches up in the castle won't let us off the hook until we find out what happened, and all I've got so far is Nicodemus' working." Though that would give them some indication of what was going on, it still wasn't much of a lead. And he didn't want to mention his brother's message just yet, in case it turned out to only be internal Sidhe politicking. The last thing he wanted was to draw outsiders into that whole mess.
  17. Kisku gasped as Nabi appeared in front of her, coming out of the crowd, almost from nowhere. I hate it when he does that. She mumbled a bit to herself as he talked to her. She looked up, and gazed at her comrade before her, at a loss for words. How was she suppose to answer him? She was terrible at finding information and what was worse, she was too wrapped up in her own distress to worry about anything further than that. She merely shook her head, looking away from him. She bit her lip and quietly said, "I'm sorry.. I ran out. I should've stayed there with you." Finally being able to say it, she turned away quickly from him and started heading in the direction of the library with her fists clenched. Kisku was embarrassed, apologizing to Nabi like that and making a horrible impression especially in front of royals. I should have known better. Nabi is a noble despite if he's an illegitimate child or not. He's more noble blood than I have and storming out like a child as his partner, was the worst thing I have ever done! Trying her best to hide her annoyance, she yelled out, "We should see about that working!" Kisku started hurrying even faster through the crowd, to escape anymore awkwardness.
  18. Nabi was a little taken aback at Kisku's apology. <b>"Ah-"</b> He quickly shut his mouth again. <i>She'd probably just get more irritated and embarrassed if I said anything. It's good that she's learning to apologize, anyway, so I shouldn't stretch my luck.</i> After all, she hadn't caused too much trouble, and it might have been even worse if she'd stayed. At least the king and court had started to anticipate her outbursts, and didn't seem to mind too much. Smiling slightly, mildly amused, he followed her towards the library, lengthening his strides to move just behind her. No use in making her run even faster to prevent awkward conversation.

    Shortly, they had reached the library. Nabi pushed ahead impatiently, the door clicking open to his essence, and quickly navigated his way through the familiar hallways. <b>"Nicodemus put one of his irritating Seals on the doors and windows of the thaumaturgy room. I know it was gone when I woke up, but that was something like four hours past sunrise, so I didn't see anything wrong with the fact that it was gone."</b> But now that they knew something was wrong, it could be an important clue. <b>"I should be able to see how old it is, and determine the exact time with a circle. I've learned that spell; Nicodemus drilled me on it for hours until I could do it with my eyes closed."</b> Though he had to admit he was a little worried. As much as the old man irritated him, he didn't want to lose his mentor quite yet.

    He brushed the emotion-laden thoughts from his mind as he reached the door, kneeling down to examine the seal by the knob. After nearly a day of wear, including a sunrise, he had to squint to see the telltale white fire of Nicodemus's magic; though starting to dissipate into the wood, and no longer in a proper circle, he could see it. <b>"Still there,"</b> he muttered to himself. <b>"Not much I can tell by just looking, but..."</b> He raised his left hand, concentrating, and began to sketch a circle, then a triangle within that, his power bright blue to his eyes. As he completed the triangle, the working flashed, and he squinted, giving a short curse, before concentrating again. <b>"Looks like..."</b> His hopes fell. <b>"Damn. It fell around two hours after midnight."</b> He released the power, turning to look at Kisku. <b>"Well."</b>
  19. As Nabi was examining the knob, Kisku couldn't help but start pacing back and forth. A sinking feeling went through her, she knew that there was no trace left. This was just a waste of both of their time, but what else were they going to say to the king? They had no other leads otherwise. Her assumptions corrected as Nabi turned to her, waiting on her response. Sighing, she stopped pacing and crossed her arms, looking down at the ground in deep thought. Nicodemus,.. Alistaire. Instinctively she grabbed at her neck, where the locket lay. What did he want me to do with this? Is this a sign that they're still alive? She shook her head, and slammed her foot at a nearby wall, trying to break her frustrations out of her. "I don't get it!" She shouted out.

    Alistaire was always like this, giving her riddles, leaving her hidden messages that she had to figure out and telling her multiple times, "Strength isn't everything. If you only had the brain like Nabi, you'd be invincible like myself, but you'll never get to that point with how long it takes you to crack a small children's riddle." Then he would start laughing at her and continuing to mock her. Of course, it was natural for her to get frustrated and it often took her days or weeks to solve his puzzles but in the end, he would only pat her on the head and tell her to do better next time. She felt fortunate though, that it wasn't Nicodemus who challenged her mentality, comparing how he treated Nabi.

    Kisku realized then, that this was the reason why the working fell. She quickly fumbled around the back of her neck, and unhinged the necklace. "Nabi," She pushed the locket into his hands as a smiled spread across her face, "tell me, tell me please, that you can see Nicodemus' working on it!" This was the puzzle, and she excitedly gleamed as she realized it only took her mere minutes to solve it. Unfortunately, she didn't really understand what was the point of all this if Nabi did find something, but it was a sign.
  20. Nabi jumped, startled, as Kisku shouted. What is it now? She seemed to be thinking carefully-- maybe she'd thought of a clue. Feeling his interest piqued, he waited, a little impatiently. This could turn out to be the clue they needed to figure out this mess, if that was even what she was considering.

    He caught the locket on reflex, eyes widening. "What-" His eyes narrowed at her words. "I'll check." Expression taut, trying to avoid any excess of hope, he stared at the locket. No outer magical particulars, though who in the world would make their working obvious? He could see some traces of power, moving in quasi-familiar lines. Perhaps it was waiting for a key. Kisku had already been near it for long enough that her essence would have triggered its part of the lock. Catching his breath-- he had always hated doing this-- he flared his essence briefly, the blue light quickly intensifying around him, and almost dropped the locket in surprise as a working, appearing as white fire, kindled into life around the locket. "Ah, it worked!" he exclaimed, surprised. "Kisku, where did you get this?" The working was still active, and showed no signs of weakening.

    It did look like Nicodemus's work. But why such a convoluted and hidden clue? Something that would need both of our presences to work, and doesn't seem to tell us much on the outside. Perhaps this was some kind of test? He couldn't dismiss the possibility out of hand; as much as he didn't want to consider it, it was better than both of their mentors being dead. Maybe Alexandre would have more to tell him.