The Ruins of Ayal



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The bloody remains of a one sided battle had turned the serene coastal city of Ayal into macabre wasteland. The city streets were still covered with the decomposing corpses of it's inhabitants. Indiscriminate were the victims, as the bloodied remains of men, women, children and animals were scattered about the place. No one knew what happened here, as the details of how the city fell remain a mystery. Only one man escaped, but he had been entranced by an Augur's gaze, so he remembered nothing.

The strangest part of it all is that there is no evidence of battle, other than the remains. No arrow's were fired, and from the location of the bodies, it seemed that the town was caught unaware. It seemed a surprise attack, which makes it even stranger as it was first night of a new month, meaning that the worshipers of Kine, the Goddess of Purity, were conducting their festivities. That meant that the towns defenses were up, as the worshipers of Kine were often protested against by worshipers of Gaylus, the God of Purity for their immoral conduct. As dangerous as it all seemed, Amethyst Khaul was determined to enter the city. She was determined to find the remains of her fiance, Daahle, and the cause of his demise.

The city of Ayal had four major districts: The Lower Residential District, The Upper Residential District, The Market, and the Docks. Daahle would be in the Upper Residential District, due to a private business meeting taking place there. However, it was the area farthest from the gate, being the Northern most point of the town. Were he home, in the lower residential area, it would take but a few minutes to find him. He was not however, and with the size of Ayal, it could take upwards of an hour just to make it to the area, let alone find the house of the transaction.

Amethyst entered through the gate. The air became noticeably colder as she entered, causing Amethyst to shudder. Her pale Caucasian became littered with goosebumps, and her breath released a steady mist. It was a midsummer's night, so she had not come prepared for the cold. Instead, she wore thin trousers and a short sleeved garment. Nothing covered her head, save for her shoulder length blonde hair.

As she paced through the town, she couldn't shake the feeling she was being watched. If she really concentrated, she could hear faint sounds of music and merriment. The spirits of the dead were known to be thought to be bound to their place of death, though it has never been proven. The thought of the eyes of a whole town watching her sent an even colder chill down her spine than the temperature did. She placed her hand on the hilt of her sword and persevered. Finding and avenging a fallen loved one was much more important than her discomfort.

Amethyst did not think it necessary to bring a companion with her on this quest of hers, as it was a personal matter she thought she must deal with alone. Despite her small stature, she was well trained with a short sword, able to make short work of a regular criminal. Now however, she wished for some kind of company. Something to take her mind off the gruesome spectacle, or to block out the judgement of the deceased. Anything to keep her mind at ease, and more importantly, keep her sane.

As she moved from the Lower Residential District to the markets, she could swear she heard footsteps, as if someone was following her. She turned to face this stalker, but saw nothing. Now even more nervous than before, she pressed on, looking over her shoulder at every turn...
Agerak had been hiding for a week, with nowhere else to go. It wasn't supposed to have been this way. He'd been looking for a place to stay, and had traveled for days to find this city, only to see all of the inhabitants were slain. Whatever had caused this atrocity, though, he could only guess at. There was some food to be scrounged from the ruins, but not much, and he always worried that whatever killed these villagers would destroy him as well... but he didn't have the option of trying to leave. He'd starve to death out in the wilderness, as he'd barely even reached this place alive and had been running from his own village, while it burned and the majority of the rest of the citizens died. He hadn't had any choice, but to flee along with those few other survivors.

Of course, he'd been the only one to make it all the way. The only reason he'd lived through the journey was because his dead companions had been carrying some rations of their own, and since they wouldn't be needing those where they were, Agerak saw no shame in taking them away. It was his only chance, so how could it be such a terrible thing?

Then there was the newcomer. Somebody was in his city, somebody alive. There was nothing else living when he'd entered, only the corpses of all of the inhabitants lying scattered about the area. But somebody was there, and he had to investigate. Perhaps this was one of the killers, returning to the scene of the crime. He had to know. If the villagers had still been alive then by now Agerak would be creating a new life for himself, making a new, permanent home here. But now he was merely surviving, trying to get enough food gathered together to set off towards the next nearest city. Of course, he would need a map to do that, and other than the location of this place he didn't know much about the area's geography.

Agerak emerged from his hiding place, an old shack which had a surprisingly plentiful supply of food (low-quality, but that didn't matter) and began to follow this intruder. Every time she glanced over her shoulder, he moved hastily to the side, attempting to avoid being spotted. The way that her face looked every time she looked back, Agerak knew that if she saw him she would most likely try to kill him... and she'd probably succeed.
Amethyst knew she was being followed. She could sense it. Whatever it was following her, she wished it would just make its presence known so she could deal with it, whether it be benevolent or otherwise. She thought she could lure whatever it was out with careful thinking, so she continued onward. The scene was a lot bloodier in the market place, the deaths seemingly more drawn out. 'Perhaps it was the worshipers of Gaylus?' she thought. But then at once she knew it couldn't be. As warped as their moral compass was, murdering an entire town was simply out of the question for them. She put such questions aside for after she found Daahle. She turned around to check and see whether she was still being followed, but she saw nothing. Perhaps her follower had given up? Or could it be setting up a trap? Regardless, she needed to rest, so she turned a corner and sat on a bench. This way if her stalker passed, she could see what it was, and she'd have the advantage of surprise.
Loomine Luke had been in the city for some days now, sending good spirits off to a restful existence and feeding off the evil spirits that haunted the ruined city of Ayal. Spirits had never harmed him but he had learned to control spiritual energy at a young age and had befriended some powerful spirits. Loomine had been given a prophecy by one of these powerful spirits that this city would seen be attacked and utterly destroyed. No more information was revealed so he had set off to find said city. By the time he arrived the town was unrecognizable but the spirits told him he needed to purify all that he could and that is and shall be his duty until he dies.

But what the spirits did not know is Loomine's fate would soon take a little detour with the arrival of live people. Although Agerak had been here for a while Loomine was only now led by his spirit friends to the market place and would soon run into the woman being followed. As he walked down the streets full of bodies he looked onto their spirits to deem them good or evil and dealt with them accordingly.
It had been near 20 minutes, yet Amethyst had not seen any sign of her follower. Perhaps it was waiting, biding it's time until she moved, or slipped up. It could be watching her right now. Her imagination went into overdrive, imagining everything that could possibly go wrong. Could it be what caused this? If so, she didn't see much chance of survival, as if it could take out an entire town, it could surely end her. Then again, it could be a looter. If so, she'd at least have a chance.

Amethyst sensed another life-force. However, this one did not seem to be evading her. She decided to take a chance on this one, drawing her sword and emerging from shadows. She saw a strange man, appearing to be conversing with himself. Sneaking behind him, she pushed the point of her sword into his back just enough to threaten him and make him feel pain, but not enough to draw blood.

"Speak!" She said, trying to sound intimidating despite her nervousness. "What is your business here?"
The spirits he was freeing and feeding from had preoccupied Loomine and he was unable to intercept Amethyst from getting behind him. Being as close as she was the features of Loomine came into focus, he was 5ft 10in with short black hair and a rather large black coat that went down to his knees. Although it was from behind you could still see his sandals and blue pants, but until he turned around would Amethyst completely see his features. He moved forward a bit not wanting the sword causing him discomfort.

The spirits told him it was a woman and nothing more, "Greetings and salutations. My name is Loomine and I've come here to purge this town of it's untimely accumulation of spirits, or ghosts if you will. Might I ask you the question as to why you are here?"

He slowly turned around and smiled at her revealing the face of a 25 year old man with soft, glowing yellow eyes and a simple gold earring in his left ear that must signify something if he were to wear it by itself. His coat was buttoned up but you could see a black shirt that poked out of the top of the black coat. The smile stood genuin and firm as he waited for her answer and to see if she was a friend.
Amethyst looked at Loomine with concern. She lowered her sword slowly and cautiously. "Ok Loomine. I'll let you live. Fair warning, however: If you cross me, I will slit your throat. And I don't take to kindly to your kind. I come from a family of druids, and we distrust your kind. We believe the dead should be left alone. To answer your question, I am looking for answers, and possibly revenge. If my distrust and quest don't turn you away, I would enjoy some company. The dead aren't the most jovial bunch."

After saying those words, Amethyst wondered whether letting her guard down was wise. How could she know he was telling the truth? For all she knew, he could be the reason for all this bloodshed. And even if he wasn't, opening herself up to a man in her state of grievance was unwise. The heart of the young is fragile, and prone to misguide. And Amethyst was but a babe, barely nineteen years of age. So even if undeserved, she would keep this man distant, and treat him coldly, if only for her own protection.

She thought of Daahle. She hadn't shed a single tear since she heard of his passing. She had just felt constantly numb, not an ounce of emotion had passed through her. Now that she was here, in the place she would have soon called her home, her despair was starting to get the best of her. Tears welled in her eyes, but she tried to hold them back. She had to stay strong, she couldn't show weakness in front of this stranger. Taking the time to breathe, she looked back up at him. "So," she said, "Are you with me, or am I going on alone?
"Thank you for letting me live but you don't decide my fate. Even if you tried to kill me I wouldn't die yet. On a happier note I will join you for the spirits say something good will come of it. Plus I would not want a pretty girl like yourself to be alone in such a dreary place as this." He still smiles and notices the sudden tears that are pushed back, he doesn't say anything however. He stands waiting for her to go soomewhere while the spirits tell him random things to diistract him from other matters.
Amethyst glared at Loomine. "You think I'm weak, do you? That I'm some helpless girl who can't look after myself?" She exclaimed aggressively. She took deep breaths to calm herself, then apologized . "Forgive me. I know you meant no disrespect. However, I do wish that do not flatter me." She noticed that he was distracted, as if listening to someone.

"These spirits you talk to. Who are they? What do they tell you?" she asked, her curiosity overpowering her manners.
"So you ask of the dead yet you wish them to be left alone? Forgive me it is hard to act politely with these spirits YELLING in my ear." When he yelled it was towards the spirits themselves because they had gotten into quite a clamor and he could barely hear anything she said.

"Forgive me I did not mean to shout they need to be reminded sometimes of manners. As to your question these three spirits are of those who possesed powers that were much stronger than even the people today, but sadly the only way for them to use these powers are if they possess me and they know I am too strong to do that unwillingly. They mainly relay useless information they recieve from the spirit world. I don't know why they do it but at least I am never alone." He looks over to his left as one of the spirits asks him something and also tells him something else.

One spirit makes itself known by appearing as a green fireball and Loomine looks at it, "Now Harmor you should not reveal yourself to those that do not want to be shown a spirit of someone dead." The fireball pulses as if it were talking and continued to do so from quite some time.
Amethyst stood in awe at the flickering spirit. She had never seen something so morbidly beautiful in her life. It made her feel tranquil, and yet terrified at the same time. She felt the urge to talk to it, to see if she could communicate with the spirit, but she hadn't the courage too. The fear did not feel like it was hers in origin, however. It felt more like someone had cast a spell on her, forcing her to feel fear.

The feeling took her back to her days as a child, when one of the mages of the town showed her magic for the first time. Jaehiara was his name, and he showed her the many different uses of magic, from self defense such as creating an energy field to protect from harm, and offensive spells like the fireball, or acid arrow. He then showed her that you could manipulate memories. He cast a spell on her, altering her memories of the day. She believed that this Mage, was in actual fact, her father. She believed it so strongly, in fact that it caused her to hate her own father. It took many, many years for the spell to wear off, however, there are still some traces of it. Whenever she sees him, she still refers to him as father sometimes. And whenever she see's magic, she is both petrified of its power, but in awe of it, feeling like it's familiar, like it was from her own blood.

She pulled herself away from her ponderings, and turned to face Loomine. "Loomine, we cannot stay here. We have lingered long enough. I must go and find the remains of Daahle. If you wish to assist me, you are free to do so. However, if you cannot be of assistance, I ask you to take your leave. What say you?"
Not being acknowledged more than a look from Amethyst. the green fire faded and disappeared, "it's ok Harmor eventually she'll accept us."

He looks at her, "I shall go with you."

Instead of waiting for her to lead he heads off in the direction of Daahle, guided by the spirits. He asks a question assuming Amethyst was behind him, "So who is Daahle? A close friend?"
Following Loomine, intrigued as to how he knew where she was headed, followed as well. She shrugged it off to the spirits guiding him, and if that were the case, he could be more help than she initially thought.

"He was my Husband-to-be, and best friend. I had known him since childhood. We were schooled together, and used to play in the fields. My parents frowned upon our relationship due to him not being human. My parents were always quite prejudiced towards the elves. He was a wonderful man though, he spoke words of honey'd poetry, and he played the loot like a noble. What he lacked in wealth he made up for in spirit, and a fire burned in him, always driving him to be better than he was. He-" She stopped. "Forgive me, I do not wish to bore you with details. All you need to know is that I love him, and I always will."

She continued walking and soon found herself in the upper residential district. It made for a strange site, however. The streets and walls were covered in blood, but there were no bodies. There was not a soul on the streets. "This is... troubling," she spoke to Loomine, "what do you make of this?"
Loomine looks to her while she spoke and listened to her carefully not to the spirits that yammered on. When she stopped he replied, "Oh it's quite alright, hearing of love is something I never tire of. It is much more interesting than what these spirits spout. I however cannot fall in love with anyone since these spirits would drive that person away for my duty to put spirits to rest is more important than love. Unless they accept of the one I love, which has not happened, I shall not know true love."

He observes the scene now in front of them, curious as well as to why the bodies are not on the streets, "I make of it to be the attackers way of getting information from this city, but the spirits tell me otherwise. They say the attackers took the still live but mangled bodies off somewhere, that would explain why spirits of the dead are not to be found in this part of the city. Interesting at how much blood is everywhere yet the people are still alive. I digress, the spirits no not where they took the bodies since it is out of the city. Shall we go searching for them?"

The spirits become flames, one green, one red, one yellow and fly off to search around the upper residential district for any clues. They can be seen lighting up windows of buildings and shooting in and out of the walls of buildings.
Agerak watched the whole exchange while still in hiding, wondering how he hadn't noticed this newcomer before he'd arrived. It came as a bit of a shock, but not enough that he revealed himself. Taking the opportunity, Agerak crept away from there, casting a glance over his shoulder every few moments to make sure that he wasn't being followed by those whom he'd been following himself only a few moments before. The voices grew quieter and quieter until they were completely gone, for Agerak was out of earshot. He couldn't believe what was happening. Whatever those things the newcomer was summoning up were, Agerak was sure he didn't want to attract their ire, and as he didn't know if they would be hostile to him on sight or not, he didn't want to allow them to locate him at all. Assuming, of course, that they hadn't done that already. The way they appeared, perhaps they would be able to turn invisible, and perhaps there was one right behind him even at that moment, about to strike.

The thought brought Agerak's pace to a run as he headed back to his home, the only thing blocking out the dead silence of most of Ayal his footfalls, heartbeat, and breathing. It became a maddening rhythm, for other than that all was silence.