The Elemental Shards (CLOSED Signups)

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  1. It was raining the morning that Queen Orina Alexandra addressed the capital city of Alexandria.

    The citizens were gathering in droves to the central courtyard of the royal palace. The palace was built of white stone, and surrounding the crescent-shaped plaza with towering walls. A balcony overlooked the gardens.

    Despite the dreary weather, the majority of the capital’s populace had turned out, sporting water-resistant cloaks and umbrellas – a recently developed commodity.

    The murmurs in the crowd faded suddenly as a figure appeared on the balcony, clad in full silver armor, shining in the rain. Queen Orina, a battle-hardened woman with a heart of gold, looked down over her loyal citizens. She smiled to herself, pleased with the turnout, cleared her throat and addressed her beloved people.

    “My children,” she hailed them in her customary manner, “I bring tidings of ill fortune. Recently, a plague has been discovered among those of our kingdom. It drives the afflicted to madness, and eventually results in their untimely deaths. I warn thee to be diligent to your health and that of your loved ones. If you notice symptoms of increased anger or confusion, please seek out a doctor immediately. We will continue to work diligently towards discovering a remedy.” She paused and looked over the crowd, once more admiring the strength of her kingdom. “I wish you all the best of health.”

    As she departed from sight, she heard the people cheer her name. But she could not overcome the feeling of dread and helplessness that had overtaken her since the discovery of the mysterious malady. Until her physicians could develop a cure, she would not rest easy.

    As the Queen disappeared from your sight, the crowds immediately began to disperse, all discussing among themselves the troubling news.

    #1 MistyAnna, Sep 18, 2015
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2015
  2. Captain logan gawain of the queens imperial guard sat at the base of the stairs to the balcony. He listened to her speech and then the chants of the citizens. He waited for his queen to appear as he bowed to show respect to the queen he admired. "Your speech was impeccable your majesty, your are truly a queen to be loved." He stood back up followed his queen.
  3. Reelexis's brain buzzed as she trudged through the silent forest surrounding her home. She knew of the impending madness that was overtaking the kingdom nearby as it was also flooding through her own elven city. On the outskirts of the city she climbed a tree and looked out over the neighboring kingdom and watched as their queen gave some sort of public announcement and the crowd's reaction. Pricking her ears Reelexis's climbed down the tree and drew her bow, easily landing a doe and internally thanking her ancestors for the food, praying that her mother and father would be taken by the madness.
  4. Rebel couldn't have cared less about the speech.
    In fact, the only reason he had come was because he had figured that it would be an opportune time to stock up on his diminishing supplies. He had donned a black rain jacket, stolen, of course, just for the occasion. The rain drops cascaded over his jacket, and he enjoyed the fact that no matter how much they struggled, the rain simply could not penetrate it. It was a luxury that he hadn't had in the past, and a nice one at that. As he sneakily broke into another house, he heard the speech a few blocks away. Although the sound was dulled because of the distance and the rain. He went through his raiding routine, first checking the cubbards for dry food that would not spoil over the next few days. He did a silent cheer in his head as he found a freshly baked loaf of bred stashed in the back of the pantry. As he stuffed the loaf into his satchel, something caught his eye. He turned to the counter, quickly striding over and plucking a small case of wine off of the table. It had been set out with some cheese, and he had no doubt the owner of the house had been just about to indulge himself before the town meeting was called. He carefully stashed the bottle in his satchel, the cheese he chose to gobble down on the spot. Searching around a bit more, he also found some salted meat, a few apples, and a pair. All of which he placed inside his bag for later. The meeting must have been brief, as he could no longer hear the speech, which meant he needed to get on his way soon.
    On his way out, he set his satchel down and turned to the door, pulling a small pocket knife from his boot. He quickly carved two sloppy letters deep into the woods.


    The letters stood for The Bandit. That's what he called himself, anyway. Carving the letters in the door had become a traditional thing, and he enjoyed leaving a little anonymous tip. Sometimes he took the time to carve The Bandit, but more often than not it was simply TB. He liked the little nickname, it was simple, it suited him. He had first been called it when he overheard a merchant talking about him, and he had used the phrase "Filthy little bandit."
    Ever since then, that's who he had been. The name had made its way around the capital, as he had stolen goods from all over the city. It was his little game, he liked to see how many people knew about him and his antics.
    With his task completed, he turned from the doorstep and walked off to get lost in the streets, all the while shaking his head and laughing.
    "Foolish city folk, they never do learn."
  5. [​IMG]
    Evelyn Ternys stood by the tower window which overlooked the palace courtyard. Far above the crowds and out or the rain, she listened with rapt attention to the announcement she had known would come.
    For two weeks, every alchemist, healer and apothecary had been working together in order to develop a cure to the mysterious illness spreading around the kingdom and killing its citizens. So far, they had no luck and many were beginning to lose faith. The strength of Queen Orina as she visited each day was what kept them going strong.
    Evelyn herself was a talented apothecary, using her Life Shard to communicate with the plants and animals throughout the kingdom. She knew the spirit and properties of each herb and how to mix them in order to develop poultices and salves.
    Evelyn preferred the company of nature over people, but had put aside her negative sentiments when the Queen's messenger had requested her assistance. The imminent threat was worth overcoming her social phobia.

    As the Queen disappeared from sight, Evelyn turned her attention back to the alchemist tables and her colleagues busy at work. The Queen would visit them soon and they still had nothing to show for their efforts.​
  6. Rebel trudged his way through muddy alleyways and slippery cobblestone paths, the rain unrelenting and unyielding. He was really starting to get sick of it. Rain. Dreary, wet, cold. It sucks. Period. All it does is prevent me from sneaking through this stupid city faster than normal. He glances up at the sky, the sun was already in the west, which meant he had an hour, maybe two, to get home. Maybe I shouldn't have stolen that watermelon, it's really weighing me down. He thinks bitterly as he practically drags his satchel along with him.
    After a good fifteen minutes, he reaches his destination. An opening in the woods between two wooden houses. He stomps his way through a hidden path that he had created himself by walking through it so many times. He comes to a stop at the river that he had to cross to get to his cabin, and then stops. His face contorts into a I can't believe this is happening to me expression, and he allows his satchel to fall to the muddy ground. The rain! The stupid torrent of rain! I can't believe this! Of all the things to forget! He angrily berates himself for forgetting that the water level would rise much higher than normal because of the rain. Stupid, stupid, stupid! If you hadn't spent so much time mucking around in the houses, you might have gotten here before the river rose! Now what are you going to do? That thought froze him in his place. What was he going to do? It's not like he had any friends in the city, and sleeping out here in the rain wasn't an option. The lowest point in the river was miles away, it would take him hours to get back if he walked there, and he had to get back before nightfall. He had seen some pretty nasty beasts roaming the woods in the dark, and he did not want any of that to deal with. The only option he had left was to sneak into someone's home, or perhaps their stables, and hope they didn't notice him. That way he could sneak out as soon as dawn broke the night. It wasn't the best plan, but it was a plan all the same. It's not like he had many more options, anyway.
    Coming to that conclusion, he heaved his satchel off the ground and began making his way towards the city once more. Hoping that he would get lucky and find a place to rest for the night, somewhere no one would catch him. If he was caught, oh, there would be no telling of what would happen if he was caught.
    He just had to hope that that wouldn't be the case.
  7. A masculine figure drenched with a cloak stood in the back of the crowd listening to the speech of the queen. His silhouette drawn out by the rain giving an eerie appearance for those who would glance back in his direction. The figure was tall, broad, and dark sitting there motionless despite all the rain. People would move around him trying to avoid touching or looking. The speech was powerful and full of concern for the people.
    Once the queen was done and left everyone leaving would once again avoid contact with the figure. After some time the area would be pretty empty and the figure would finally move. With a lower of the cloak's hood the figure would reveal silver hair and tanned skin on a strong looking man. His name is Sid and he had a bit of a reputation for causing serious problems although he and his partner in crime had seemed to be pretty absent around the city. It was a bit of a surprise for someone like him to be attending a gathering like this.
    Sid took the entire speech. Curiosity had filled his eyes and a grin had taken his face.
    Suddenly with a few quick steps he'd make his way into the rain and the city walking north of the area in hopes of finding some information he could use. People would move out of his way in an angry, but also, scared hustle.
  8. Reelexis's green eyes darted to her left and she caught sight of the man, skinny in a sort of athletic build, hunched over examining the river she had just come upon. The way he was shaking his head back and forth and murmuring to himself about something taking hours to do. Silent as the wind she slipped up a nearby tree and decided to investigate this one further, maybe he had the madness. Maybe I can study him and try to find the cure myself. Then the elders well let me speak once more. Careful not to make any sound at all she slipped back down the trunk and followed him at a distance, the grey rain creating a misty haze over her sight but her Elven instincts allowed her to keep him in sight. She crouched behind a tree and peeked around as she watched him quietly and carefully, obviously not wanting to be seen, slip into a large wooden barn hidden in the woods, not too far from a well-lit house. Reelexis padded softly through the mud and slipped inside after him, sticking to the shadows, climbing swiftly up a side ladder and was now seated on a rafter, watching the man intensely from above. This one definitely has something strange about him, he clearly isn't wanting to be followed... maybe he stole something of value from the city... her eyes flashed in the dark as she pondered his purpose.
  9. Rebel had thought that his luck had just about run out.
    That is, until he found the large barn in the woods. He could see the house about one hundred meters in the distance, it was obvious that the occupants were home, as the house was lit up like a Christmas tree. Nonetheless, the barn was large and firmly built, and as he walked in, he took into account that it was rather warm. Much like his coat, the outer casing of the barn seemed to prevent rain from seeping in. He frowns for a moment as he glances around, it was rather dark... He pondered whether or not it would be safe to use his electricity here. He could control his power most of the time, but occasionally it would get out of hand, too hard for him to control. Well, I would only need a small sum of it, nothing large scale. It's the easiest trick in the book. He nodded as he convinced himself to use his power. His right hand snapped up in front of him, and for a moment the air around him seemed to buzz, but then it went back to normal. All except for a small ball of electric energy providing him with a faint source of light.
    He searched around for a bed of hay, or something of the like, completely oblivious to the person in the rafters. He had had no idea that anyone had been following him, it had never happened before, so why should he worry about it? Besides, his face was pretty well-known around the city. If anyone who knew who he was had seen him, they would have been on him like a cat on tuna.
    After using his light to search around, careful not to let it spark near dry wood or hay, he located a bed of what seemed to be fresh hay, and a rather scratchy blanket. It would have to do tonight, though. He had to make the most of a bad situation. He snapped his fingers once, and the electricity disappeared. As he settled down against his make-shift bed, he thought he heard a small creak. He dismissed it, turning on his side to rest his eyes in the hopes of falling asleep.
  10. A young woman twirled around in the rain behind the crowd as the booming, motherly voice of the queen surrounded the area. Long strands of blonde hair dancing and spreading irregular raindrops onto people who passed by. A large fan tightly gripped between slender fingers as the doll twirled in place, all the woman's weight on the tip of her toe.
    "My children.. Yada yada. I'm like super concerned blah blah blah" She muttered on to herself, those around her too preoccupied to even hear her, let alone respond. Finally, the woman quit her yapping and the crowd cheered her name. What was so special about her anyway'? The spinning slowly came to a stop and she stood in place, deep crimson eyes glaring toward the Queen's exit. "Hm... illness, huh...?"
    Suddenly, the drops of water seized to touch her delicate skin and began to slide away from her.. as if hitting a small orb shield around her. There she stood, Hecate, a notorious trouble maker, a Zephyr shard wielder. Full red lips began to spread into a grin. Dark thoughts began to cloud Hecate, an aura growing from within. The ones around her quickly moving away, a sense of.. illness and fear over taking them when they looked at her, before suddenly...
    "SID!" A shriek of joy echoed through the buzzing crowd. Hecate seemingly floating upwards and toward her partner, "Oh! my handsome partner~! I've missed you so~!" The aura vanished, now a glow of an innocent young child. There was a ring to her voice no one would have thought possible a second ago. Slender, half covered arms opened and tightly closed around Sid's waist from behind, the fabric of her garment dancing against her body. "My love, where have you been?" Her eyes grew wide and began to glisten as her mouth opened up in seeming realization. "Oh my GODS! Where you fetching my engagement ring!? Oh I knew IT!" She giggled and hugged tighter. This was all in good fun, Hecate always found marriage to be an amusing and interesting thing, and to tease Sid about it? Well, why not? Though a wide innocent smile was plastered on Hecate's doll-like face, her true intentions, and what struck her curiosity, was screaming inside her mind.
  11. Tyval Port.png
    The PalaceTyval was just on his way to work within the palace walls when the announcement took place, and brought him to pause, and listen. The madness was indeed a troubling matter, and a matter than was troubling him without him being afflicted. Normally he was in the forges, crafting weapons, lately, however, he had been working with the apothecaries and such, providing them with the shapes they needed. It was, however, a trouble he was happy to tolerate.

    When the Queen finished her little speech, and the crowd cheered her name, Tyval continued on his way. Inside the servants entrance, there was a maid with a kindle gem waiting patiently for any who entered, and as soon as he did she hustled over and began drying him off with a warm aura that she formed around him. He closed his eyes, feeling too awkward to just look around the corridor while she did her job. Upon completion, he thanked her, to which she blushed. Servants seldom got treated like people while doing their jobs, which though he detested it, there was not a whole lot he could do about it.

    The staircase to his destination was not far down the corridor, and it wound upwards. There were other access points to them above, on various floors of the castle. As he ascended, he could feel a headache, and wooziness building up, as it always did when he went up winding staircases. He had no idea why it happened, but he had learned to cope with it as working for the Crown meant a lot of the damned things. He head talking as he passed one of the other entrance points, probably the queen on her way to check the apothecaries, and healers. He attempted to hurry a bit, not wanting to be caught being tardy.

    He was mildly short of breath when he reached the top, and the shaper that was just getting off patted him on the back as she made her leave. He quickly composes himself, going to his station of glass, clay, and stone, all waiting to be formed into something or other, sitting on a simple, three-legged wooden stool.
  12. Reelexis's eyes brightened as she watched his hands illuminate with blue electric force. He's in possession of power... he cannot have the madness then...hmmm I must befriend this creature and use his power to my advantage. Maybe with his hand I can finally prove to the elders I am worthy to speak once more.... Her mind spun wild as she tried to comprehend why he was hiding if he didn't have the madness and was clearly a being of power in one way or another. With one swift movement she swung down beside him in the bed of hay and carefully laid her blade against his throat, daring him to scream. When he got the message she smiled and removed her blade from his throat sticking out a hand for him to shake. From her side pouch she pulled out a scroll and quickly scribbled down,

    "I am mute but I mean no harm. I followed you because I thought you had the madness."

    She shoved it into his hands and smiled at him dumbly, attempting to let on she was more stupid than she truly was.
  13. Dravus stood at the back of the crowd as the queen gave her speech, listening as she addressed her people of the plague attacking her kingdom. She was successful of keeping their spirits high, and keeping the hope of a cure in sight. It was strange, though, that her kingdom seemed to be the only one being effected by it, which made one wonder about its origins. As the croud dispersed they kept shooting glances at him as they left, it was understandable, not many of his kind lived in Alexandria. Once very few people remained in the plaza, he took a seat on one of the benches, somehow managing to sit in view of some of the towers.

    He thought about what he should do, he came to this kingdom in the first place to see if he could receive a shard of his own, but it wasn't until he got to the capital that he started thinking about how to go about requesting such a thing. Those with enough knowledge that seen him would guess he was someone of good or high standing, as his cloak, while not waterproof like those around, was too well made to just belong to anhone.
  14. The rain poured down heavily in to the waiting arms of the forest trees, with enough volume to soak each tree from the highest leaves to the deepest roots. The sentry's' mucked about on the forest floor, patrolling the woods in search of lost travelers, to direct them to the nearest border check, or for any hoping to cross the border illegally.

    Sitting in a tree, Aralantia observed the movements of the troops, seeing better in the dark than others would. It was something new, the increased night vision, which she attributed to the dusk crystal around her neck. She heard that they are more powerful when implanted into a person, but only the clergy in Alexandria knew the proper rituals, and Tia wasn't ready to find a unqualified binder yet. The guards all had dusk crystals, which were almost required for a position into night watch, thus they could see better than her. Luckily she had found a level in the trees tops where she could safely make her way past without alerting them, she just needed to wait for them to move past as well.

    After an hours in the trees, and stop and go travel, Tia finally made it across the border, and found a abandoned cave to sleep in for the night. As Tia lay down and drifted off to sleep, she recalled some of the conversation she overheard while in the trees. Something about a illness spreading through the land.
  15. Sunderia was really a wonderful place, Andrew thought as he roamed around the main sector of his creation, which was right below The kingdom of Alexandria. He and his allies came a long way from building a small hangout spot under their own city to making a complete kingdom, this kingdom most likely having the lowest crime rate possible due to all of the law enforcers being in their zone element's main area, as well as being completely loyal. There have been a few rotten eggs in the system, but none of them have been able to hide from king Peterson long enough to truly put others in danger, as he always found out about what went down in Sunderia. With this grand amount of loyalty, the forces of Sunderia have been able to put most of their efforts on stopping all four kingdoms above ground as well as independent organizations from raiding any of the sectors of Sunderia. Even if everyone knew that this underground continent was just a few dozens of meters below Alexandria, they still couldn't get through the traps as well as guardians, and even if they could, law enforcers from each sector were able to move as fast as they could to corner the enemies. Also, most of the civilians took combat lessons for extra safety.

    Andrew knew the two main reasons that Sunderia was always targeted. One was simply because it was hospitable land that had as many useful materials as any land above ground did, and the second was because of all of the stealing that the Thievery Squad had been doing in order to ensure that the Sunderians wouldn't starve to death. Nothing could grow underground after all, so Andrew got together with the council one day to suggest this. It didn't matter to him either way, since he meant for everyone in the world to one day be apart of Sunderia, so that him and his men could truly create a Utopia. War was always occuring above ground, but what if everyone could be watched and over-powered by Sunder Users? No one would even think of fighting, and everyone would be united as one big happy family.

    Society underground almost completely mirrored society above ground. Sunderians could get their hands on the exact same materials used on the surface, and a lot of the creators of locations and objects are crystal users just like those in Alexandria. Most of the buildings were made entirely of stone however, for convenience. There were holes in various places to ensure that oxygen cycled into the caves too. Each sector was probably as large as a city in Alexandria. The sectors were shaped like very large domes, with tunnels leading to the others. The roof was hundreds of meters away, from the civilizations, so it was like a black sky. There were light crystals everywhere on the floor level, but they only went so far up the walls before there were none left to place. Each sector was numbered based on it’s importance, so Sector 1 was of course the sector that housed the castle, with a design half-mirroring Alexandria’s but also having some qualities unique in it’s own way, one being that it was almost entirely made of stone, as again, most buildings in Sunderia were. Numerous amounts of pillars circled the castle, as they were used by guardians as scouting points, being able to see the entirety of the sector from the top of one.

    As Andrew looked at the castle from the Sector's square, a town square basically. It was round regardless of the name however, and had a functioning water fountain in the middle of it, which was very odd. Merchants gathered around this large space to sell items, while dozens of people walked through it to get to places, which meant very good business. It was only a few minutes away from the castle by walking. Andrew was as entranced as the civilians around him at the view. Unlike most kings, this old man actually went around his land talking with the people, as he thought of every one of them as his family. Two men in armor ran towards Andrew, coming from the castle just now, so it seemed like something urgent just came up. He pardoned himself from the friendly conversation with the others and walked forward.

    "Lord Peterson, Queen Orina is about to make a speech from above. I believe you should be there in case something important pops up," alerted the man on the left after him and the other soldier bowed down to their king. His name is Romulus, and he is Andrew's second-hand man. He was almost as old as him, since they were best friends throughout childhood. He was also a gifted Sunder Crystal User, so why not give someone like that such a high position? Romulus was bald unlike Andrew, with not even a beard, as he didn't want the reminder that he was getting old. He was pale and buff, and wore his Sunderian Armor with pride. The most loyal soldier a king could ask for, he was.

    "Hmmm, I suppose I can take a peak above ground, since there isn't anything else for me to do at the moment," Andrew replied with a smile. The two soldiers maintained a serious face. "And cheer up. No need to be in business mode every second," the king added as the three of them moved towards the castle. Andrew threw on the hooded cloak he was given by Romulus quickly, an outfit that was needed to get past enemy lines without being attacked. The two guards also began to wear some. They were all blue.

    The trio went threw the courtyard and a few rooms before reaching the Throne Room that was in the center. In the middle of the room there was a spiraling staircase that led them above ground. In every sector there was a main building with such a staircase in order for the squads to do their business on the surface. Of course, there were a ton of other exits, but those were mainly used for emergencies only. This staircase led to an average-looking cave that no one has ever been able to get through due to all of the crazy traps. It led to Sector 1 after all, so it had to be the hardest to get through. Once out of there, the three of them were in a forest that was near the Kingdom of Alexandria. They moved through the tree branches in order to not get caught by anyone walking through it.

    Finally, Andrew and his men made it to the central courtyard, just barely since some of the guards kept looking at them suspiciously. Training for years in the art of stealth allowed the trio to lose them, not even having to run to get away from them. All that was left to do now was to carefully listen to Orina as the three of them mixed themselves in with the crowd.


    "Hmm, that was a big let down Romulus. Just a Surface Plague, haha!" Andrew laughed as him and his two men walked through the central square, heading back to the cave.​
    #15 Axel Rover, Sep 22, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 22, 2015
  16. [​IMG]
    Evelyn noted Tyval's scheduled arrival as he relived the other Shaper from duty as she returned to her own station. Everyone within the tower worked grueling hours in shifts, building off each others' notes and experiments. They were all there by choice. Some had friends or family afflicted by the illness, some had lost loved ones to the madness that ensued, and some merely felt obligated to aid their beloved homeland and the citizens who resided there. Evelyn herself was motivated by her family, and a younger brother who had been recently afflicted by the madness -- based on recent cases, he would soon be lost entirely to them if Evelyn and the other apothecaries couldn't find a cure soon. He had recently received his Life Shard, the same kind as Evelyn bore in her chest, at his coming-of-age and now a time that should be filled with celebration was caused for strife. Evelyn had taken up a temporary residence within the tower, preferring to devote as much of her time as possible with her research, while receiving constant updates from her family.

    Evelyn had just sat down to her notes when the Queen entered the tower room without the typical flourish many were accustomed to hearing upon the Crown's appearance. Her visits often went unnoticed as the researchers were often fully absorbed in their work. Queen Orina paid a visit at the same time every afternoon to the tower, wanting updates in person and to support her loyal subjects. While she was utterly useless in the arts, she felt it was her responsibility to show her undivided support towards her people. The constant failures at finding a cure weighed heavily on her.

    "How has it progressed?" Orina asked to the entire room in general. She was accompanied at all times by at least two of her most trusted guards, and they followed her in respectful silence.

    "Not well, I'm afraid, m'lady," one of the Crux users spoke up. An elderly woman who had devoted her entire life to healing others, she led most of the present research team and was often the one to compile all notes and brief those coming onto duty. She filled in the Queen over the course of a few minutes, and both their somber expressions were plain on their faces.​
  17. Rebel had been about to turn and rummage through his bag to find a snack when he heard a dull thump sound next to him. He had a half a second to react, but he decided to waste it with hesitation. After all, the risk of using his power in such dry close quarters was still a big risk, especially if he had to use them against somebody. He flinched as he felt a cool, metal substance press against his throat, and he assumed it was some type of knife. He managed to refrain from swallowing until his assailant removed the blade. A few moments passed in silence before he felt a piece of parchment in his palms. He brought it up to his face, unfurling it as he did so, but try as he might, he couldn't make out the print in the dark. Biting his lip angrily, he set the parchment down and raised his hands. Once more, static rippled through the room for a split second until another small ball of electricity appeared on his upturned palm. Before picking up the paper, he glanced at his attacker, slightly surprised that it was a girl, and that the girl was proceeding to give him a large grin. He turned back to the paper, reading it over once over before turning back to the girl. He plucked a small writing utensil, stolen of course, from his back pocket. The tip of his tongue stuck out as he mulled over what to write. He didn't have to write back, he could simply speak, but he didn't want to break the silence in the room.
    "If you have already seen that I do not have the madness, then why do you continue to follow me? What exactly do you want?" He scribbled down on the paper before thrusting it back at her.

  18. Queen Orina Alenxandria sighed heavily, sinking into her study chair. She leaned back, turning away from the report she had been reading, feeling on the verge of tears. The death toll had risen again, mostly youth falling prey quicker to the strange illness. The team of apothecaries were working themselves to exhaustion and they still had very little to show for their study. Those who died were all of age, possessed a wide range of Shards, lived all over the kingdom in various areas, and had very little in common with each other. The apothecaries simply couldn't find a connection between all those afflicted, and the numbers were rising.

    A knock at the door aroused the Queen from her thoughts. She straightened up in her chair, dried her eyes quickly, and commanded: "Enter". A woman of about thirty entered the room and curtsied politely, but briskly. She was tall and almost too thin with sharp, gaunt features. Her long, red hair offset the vibrant hazel of her eyes, and her full lips appeared to always be drawn into a stern line. A scar running across the right side of her face marked her experience with combat. She possessed a Kindle Shard embedded into her chest. Miru Starr was one of the Queen's most trusted advisers, despite her young age -- she had been apart of the last war approximately ten years ago, just barely an adult at the time.

    "M'lady," Mira addressed formally, but Orina held up a hand to halt her.

    "Please, forgo with the formality. If you have a report, let me hear it," Orina said. Mira straightened, clearly appreciating the brisk nature of her Queen.

    "My lady, the apothecaries think they may have drawn a conclusion about the origins of this malady." Mira nearly jumped to her feet at the news. "I have taken the liberty of drawing up a course of action which would allow us to follow up on this report, but it requires those of great skill beyond what our simple militia would be able to manage -- with all due respect to them."

    "Please, what conclusions have they come to?" Orina asked hurriedly.

    "I believe it would be prudent to allow them to speak for themselves," Miru suggested and the Queen nodded. "Please, come in!" At her command, two individuals entered the room. Orina recognized them as Evelyn Ternys and Tyval Werchet, bearers of Life and Shaper Shards respectively. They both bowed briskly.

    "Your Highness, we believe we've drawn the commonality between each of the victims: Flux Shards," Evelyn explained confidently.

    "All those afflicted possessed a newly acquired Flux Shard," Tyval added. Orina was aghast.

    "You mean to say that my people are dying from them? How?" she asked.

    "We aren't yet certain. Something in the Shards appears to interact poorly with the physiology of certain individuals. We need time to run more tests, preferably working with some of the youth not yet afflicted and those who have been - to see if there's a difference somehow between them," Evelyn concluded. Orina didn't even hesitate.

    "I grant the permission to proceed with such testing," she commanded. Evelyn and Tyval bowed again and hurried from the room.

    "Was there anything else?" Orina asked Miru. She was conflicted internally: she was overjoyed that they may have discovered the cause, however it concerned her greatly what these findings could imply for her people. She needed to readdress the public again.

    "Yes." Miru cleared her throat. "I believe we should send a party to track down the origins of these Flux Shards, as we still don't know much of how they came to be. They would start by exploring deeper into the mines, however this would prove fairly dangerous. I don't believe our own troops are properly equipped for this task -- however, I believe I know who might be." That said, Miru procured a scroll from a satchel at her hip. She opened the document on the study desk for the Queen to read: it was a list of names, Shards and locations.

    "What is this?" Orina asked, perplexed.

    "Those I believe most suited in the kingdom to undergo this task," Miru replied.

    • Andrew Peterson, Sunder, Sunderia
    • Evelyn Ternys, Life, Capital
    • Rebel Fender, Drifter, Alexandria Wilderness
    • Tyal Werchet, Shaper, Capital
    "I'm certain we can find more volunteers, which would allow us to undergo multiple expeditions at once," Miru added. Orina nodded.

    "Make it so," she commanded.


    A bell rang out as a town crier announced a new declaration from the Queen. People began to gather into the courtyard and surrounding areas, hoping the Queen had returned with good news already. They waited with baited breath in anticipation, a respectful silence drawing over the crowd.

    The Queen appeared promptly on the balcony and four powerful Zephyr Shard bearers stood at the ready, prepared to cast their Queen's voice as far across the kingdom as they could manage with their combined strength.

    "My people," Queen Orina's voice carried through the Shard power across the entire kingdom, drawing all her people into rapt attention as they listened for news. "My apothecaries tell me that they have possibly discovered the cause of this terrible illness, and are in the process of running tests in order to cure it." The people in the crowd began to applaud and cheer, but Orina held up a hand to silence them. "That being said, my advisers want to follow a second course of action, and we need volunteers to aid in a potentially dangerous quest that the guards are unable to be spared for." It wasn't a lie, their militia was still weakened from the last conflict between kingdoms. Tension between the kingdoms required more sentries along the border and posted in the border towns -- they couldn't afford to remove those from their posts in cause of an unprovoked attack from Tanria forces, who could potentially overrun her people.

    In a war room, Miru Starr was drawing up official letters to send to those four she had named as potential aids. She would have them delivered immediately. She was also drawing up fliers looking for volunteers to have carrier birds bring across the kingdom, hoping to draw the attention of other adventuring types and offering a reward even to those from outside the kingdom.

    As soon as she and her aids were done drawing up a flier, a servant would rush it to the carrier bird tower, a few at a time.

    "I only pray this reaches them," Miru mumbled to herself as she finished the last of the official letters of request.
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