MAIN STORY The Seed of Life

Discussion in 'THE ASCENDER CHRONICLES' started by Effervescent, Aug 13, 2016.

  1. The Awakening It's been two hundred years since the kingdoms last saw peace between those with magic and those without. With the following death of the land's peacekeepers, known in legend as Dragon Wardens, humans allied with orcs and drove those with magic from their lands in fear of the power they could possess against them. As time passed, animosity grew between the two societies. Not but three years ago rumors passed through the lands of a Dark Army rising, a society of Shadow forming within the Twisted Woods once again. The rumor grew to reality as they slowly crept out from the woods, kidnapping innocents for nefarious purposes and slaughtering those who resist. Magical beings began to feel a threat upon their magic as it grows weaker. And then, as the Dark Army grew in number, the threat became too grand to ignore. Humans, orcs, and all manner of magical beings must now set aside their differences to combat the Shadow before it consumes the Four Kingdoms.

    Hal Midigan

    There was no time to waste as fire and ash rained down from the sky. The embrace barely registered before he departed from Wynleth and Charlie, his mind focused on the driving point that led him to the very decision to rush down the slope of the mountain. His family was just beyond the treeline. Hal ran like he never had before, his lungs catching fire with each breath that seemed to become more and more labored. It had to be the ash fall that coated the land in a grey film. He felt it rush past his cheeks and tasted it on his tongue. And just as he exited into the clearing he called out in rasps.

    “Amah!” Hal yelled as he ran towards the cottage. His home was still in tact, and as if to answer his call his mother walked out onto the porch with an expression of shock.

    “Hal?” she called back to him in bewilderment. He didn't slow his pace and nearly crashed right into her on his way in.

    “Where is everyone?” he asked as he rushed inside. There, his two sisters hurriedly stuffed heirlooms into satchels, their eyes glancing towards Hal only to double take and rush towards him in an embrace.

    “We don't have much-“ Hal’s voice cut off in a coughing fit.

    “Damn idiot,” his mother mumbled as she approached him calmly and held out a handkerchief. Kathan was always a prepared and knowledgeable woman, and Hal took the large embroidered cloth without question. “You can't be breathing in the ash, boy.”

    "Do you know what's happening?” he asked. “Where's Bael and Lathen? Is father home?”

    “One at a time,” Kathan said as she rolled up a loaf of bread. “I know little of what's going on through an old story my grandfather told me. Sometimes mountains explode in fire, but not all mountains can. And when it does, it coats the land in liquid fire that will cool into black rock. But before that time, the air will be toxic. Help me with the meats, Hal.”

    He did as he was told obediently, his hands reaching up to rush through packing them into the bag. “And the boys? Dad?”

    "Your father went looking for them last night,” she responded in a terse tone. “Another freedom raid, I'm sure.” She reached up and pulled his head to kiss Hal’s forehead gently. “Let's get going. We set the animals loose already. Everyone, cover your faces!” She slung the bag over her shoulder and pushed her scarf over her nose before heading out. The girls followed suit with Hal rushing to take point.

    “We are headed for Keep Brandau,” he explained. Adal had one of their goats in tow, her little fingers grasping the rope tightly as it followed behind her diligently. “The ash doesn't flow there, see?” He pointed up to the thick cloud that plumed from the Mouth of the Mountain to note it's direction. The sun was blotted out so much that it looked to nearly be dusk.

    The earth continued to rumble, the occasional ball of molten rock spewing out of the mountain to crash in the surrounding valley. His sisters flinched anytime they heard a distant boom, and his mother assured them it would be alright. Hal wanted to move at a faster pace often finding himself paces ahead of his family as they followed behind him. His mother walked with a slight limp.

    “Amah,” he said, “are you hurt?”

    "No, no," she responded in dismissal. “Nothing to concern yourself with anyway.”

    He was going to insist and pry into what happened, but before he could even utter a syllable his sister’s screaming pierced through the air. Just above them falling right into their vicinity was a giant ball of flame.

    Keep Brandau
    It was an old keep built hundreds of years ago as a means to protect Baladuri borders. It sat mid way on the mountain face in a grey stone façade that jutted out in towers built for beacons and archers. The main portion of the keep was carved into the mountain that would have supported a small army. After peace was declared between Baladur and Thallas, the keep eventually lost its need to be active. And so its halls had been left abandoned by the kingdom and empty for the small band of villagers.

    They were on the other side of the chaos, yet they could still feel the trembling earth. Families cried for their lost and murmured to each other assurances they would have a home to return to. Some had brought a few animals from their farms that congregated by a troff in the open courtyard of the modest keep. Chickens scattered about with each newcomer that walked through the open gates.

    The Midigans marched up the slope of the road, weary from the trek as they removed their coverings. Ash fell from their clothes onto the unscathed landscape greening with Spring life. Their cheeks were stained with tears, the youngest sister still attempting to calm her crying as she gently pat the goat by her side. The other sister had Hal’s coat draped over her shoulders. They eyed Wynleth and Charlie as they passed, their expressions contorted in curiosity and confusion at the sight of their pointed ears.

    “Go on inside,” Kathan said to the girls. “Find Martha and tell her I'm on my way.” As the daughters obeyed, the mother walked over to the two and knelt down to eye level with the Sur. “You two must be Charlie and Wynleth. And by the looks of it, you're favoring that wrist of yours. Is it broken?”

    Not long after her, Hal emerged from around the bend of the road. He looked almost lost, his eyes staring out in a state of shock as he approached with lethargic footsteps. Kathan’s gaze glanced over to her son, her eyes brimming with tears before looking back to Wynleth. She held out her hand in a quiet request to observe the elf’s injury. Hal took in a labored breath and coughed into the tattered sleeve of his shirt, and then gave Charlie a pat on the shoulder.

    “Did everyone make it?” he asked looking between the three. Kathan looked from Wynleth to Charlie in hopes of good news. “Are you both alright?”

    The Bitter Lands
    The man followed Azzara’s pointing, his eyes casting down the path of what he could see of the valley. Mountains jutted up into the partly cloudy skies so high they reach past the white wisps with snowy caps. There was no sign of the volcanic eruption this far out, but word of it piqued the interest of one of the chained, his dirtied face jolting over to look at the trio as the lines trudged past.

    “An eruption?” the man called out. “Up the valley? Was it near the Mouth of the Mountain?”

    “Shut him up, Godae!” the man shouted to his cohort. Godae nodded to his leader as he nudged the flanks of his horse to ride up next to the man in chains. His choice of weapon to beat the man was just a simple thick stick the length of his forearm. In two quick successions, Godae brought the stick down on the man, once to his shoulder and another blow to the back of the head. It wasn't enough to knock him out, but enough to cut through the skin.

    “Shut your mouth or I'll beat you ‘til the wolves come to feed,” he threatened. “Keep moving!”

    The leader watched the ragtag travelers as his orders were exacted behind him, curious as to their reaction. He waited until it was all settled and quiet before speaking again. “Not much out here,” he said. “Just mines and mountains until Thallas.” His eyes trailed over each member, a sneer flickering at the sight of the Orc. Azzara carried a rather large bag that merited his gaze to linger far longer than it should have.

    “Best be on your way if you want to get to shelter,” he continued. “I think…eh… Lauderdine is your best bet. Gonna be a while though. May have to fight off some unsavories tonight. Best of luck to you.”

    Lauderdine was a town laid out fairly simply. All wider roads led to the Town Center, where atop the central open spaced building was a stalwart bell. Guardsmen were stationed outside the building staring out at the line of businesses before them. During the day, there didn't seem to be too much action within the walls to the point where laughter could even be heard by distant meanderers.

    In the corner of the town’s center nestled next to a tavern was a red vardo. It was closed and locked tight, the window upon the door small and veiled by a thick cloth. A letter rested upon the nail embedded within the door that read, “I am in the tavern if you need me.”

    The tavern had a rowdy bunch of patrons that could be heard out in the square. A long window displayed its interior clearly to outsiders to show a full business bustling with people drinking the day away. With their curfew in place, those within Lauderdine could only really partake in such social endeavors during the day. No one seemed to really mind, though it did mean several children were left unattended to roam the streets while their parents were away.

    There was a woman among the patrons that drew most of the crowd. She could be seen clearly through the window as she danced upon the tops of tables to the beat of the bard’s lively tune. Her dance involved tricks both in step and of the eye, and everyone enjoyed it all immensely. Her raven hair flowed about her flame to mimic her movements her garments glittering with metallic adornments and jewelry. Perhaps this was the woman known as Theresia Ashenbury.
    #1 Effervescent, Aug 13, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2016
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  2. Trynten Lothorsen
    Location: Lauderdine Tavern
    Tags: @Effervescent @fyrelily

    Crowds. Lovely.

    Trynten had stepped carefully down the dirt roads, not lifting his eyes to appreciate the life about him. For life there was, as they'd approached the town center: vendors were negotiating with patrons over prices, a blacksmithy's furnance smoked and roared happily, and children ran about, clashing sticks together at play war. It was...disconcerting, honestly, and the woodsman felt incredibly uncomfortable. He'd not been this far into a town since-

    And the woman wasn't even at the expected location. Because of course she wasn't. No, she was in a place of even thicker throngs, in a place of high emotion and alcohol and foreign travelers. He glanced at Inara uncertainly. It seemed she'd had to cover his timidity several times thus far, but she'd never once held it against him, carrying on instead with high spirits and encouraging words. It irked him that he'd placed so much weight on his elven friend. Well no more. One fist clenched in determination, Tryn gave her a smile of forced confidence.

    "Come. We have a woman to find."

    The tavern itself was reasonably easy to locate, given the notice. It was an odd thing, that such a place would be the home to such activity as characteristically would be happening more toward the nighttime hours. But at the center of it was a figure spinning and and dancing with great heart to a lively beat. She...Tryn felt his chest tighten and his eyes narrow involuntarily. Something was... He leaned toward Inara as he glanced in from the tavern front.

    "I don't guess you have any description of our Ms. Theresia, do you? Because, short of generally asking the crowd, I have no thought as to how to make contact with her."
    #2 Red Thunder, Aug 14, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2016
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  3. [​IMG]

    Charlie had arrived not long after her, wearing an intriguing expression, one that belied their circumstances. But that seemed to be Charlie’s disposition… A warmth, a vibrancy that brought a measure of lightness to a moment that otherwise would have felt entirely dire. And normally, it would have carried Wyn, lifted her spirits… but in her mind she couldn’t shake the vision of that woman, lying dead beneath the tree, her child sobbing into her chest.

    Charlie embraced her and with a grimace, Wyn looped an arm around him, managed a small, weary smile as she tried, desperately to meet his excitement with anything but misery. He’d had such success, such victory, and she was proud of him, happy for him… genuinely. He had saved lives, they both had, and that was something to celebrate.

    “...I… I lost someone.” She murmured quietly, when he asked, “A tree fell… There was nothing I could do. She… she um... “ Breathing out, Wyn’s lip twitched, the smile flickering away, “...She had a son. He survived, but… but I couldn’t… I couldn’t save her.”

    Looking up, she shook her head, “...And Hal’s not back, yet.”

    They were harder to say than she’d expected them to be, those words and as she spoke them, she felt tears sting her eyes, blinking swiftly, “It sounds as though you fared much better. I’m glad they’re all made it. You’re a hero, Charlie… and you should be proud of yourself.”

    Movement caught her eye and she straightened upright as a small group came around the bend. Rising to her feet, Wyn approached, but as the woman addressed them, she paused. She couldn’t know who they were, unless…

    Her eyes searched, but found only the empty path and heart throbbing, she looked to the woman, looked faintly down at her wrist, “I… I’m not sure. It’s not so bad…” She’d almost forgotten about it, but where the crack had originated was beginning to swell, a stippling bruise dotting the pale skin. “There… there was a tree, and... “

    Movement, a second time and her eyes flew from the woman towards the path again, hope springing like a fountain with in her. Heart hammering she watched as he rounded the bend, “Hal…” She breathed and without a thought she brushed gently past the woman, ran… flew to the Balduri and threw her arms around his neck.

    TAGS: @Effervescent, @Cloudily
    #3 Elle Joyner, Aug 14, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2016
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    Location: Keep Brandau
    Tags: @Elle Joyner @Effervescent
    [BCOLOR=transparent]Wyn looked miserable. Only when Charlie finally calmed a bit and got a clear look into her eyes, it finally dawned on him that she may not have had such a perfectly heroic experience as he had. Her smile was weary and tired, and Charlie’s own smile disappeared as he searched her face for clues as to what might have happened.

    “...I… I lost someone.” Wyn mumbled, and instantly Charlie stiffened. A mother. “Wyn.. I’m.. I’m so sorry.” He breathed, his thoughts traveling to the child now left motherless. Not once in his life had Charlie forgotten the dream of having a family, a mother and father like most everyone was supposed too. It wasn’t like he’d been alone all his life -- not really, not with Elder Lannya to care for him, but it never felt quite like the safe home like he’d always dreamed of.

    The boy had lost his mom, and lost that peace and safety that Charlie immediately assumed he had to have had. The village was a wreck, people were losing their homes, their belongings, their loved ones. Why had he been so gleeful?

    “...And Hal’s not back, yet.” Another pang of realization. Hal was not back yet. Charlie jumped from his spot where he’d stood frozen, glancing around for Hal as if he would magically appear before them. Charlie would have bolted away to look for their companion right there if Wyn had not spoken again.

    “It sounds as though you fared much better. I’m glad they’re all made it. You’re a hero, Charlie… and you should be proud of yourself.” Now realization turned to confusion, and Charlie turned back to Wyn with a confused look on his face, as well as reddened cheeks. No, no.. He wasn’t.. It was just a couple of people. All he’d done was guide them away.

    Charlie’s happy demeanor had already dissipated as he fought his own glee, for whatever reason he’d condemned himself too. Charlie brought the crook of his arm to his mouth as he broke into a coughing fit, the ash finally settling in and the adrenaline wearing off.

    Wyn rose to meet a new group of people who had come around the bend, and somehow knew their names. Charlie meant to ask how, but once he opened his mouth again the coughing started once more. His throat and lungs burned awfully and it felt like forever until the hacking finally died down. Just in time to see Hal trudge up the path, sadder than Charlie had ever seen the man look.

    Hal patted Charlie on the shoulder, to which Charlie responded with a quick gasp of pain, because, ouch, right on the burns. He moved away from Hal subconsciously, grimacing at the sight of the aggravated skin, and then watching Wyn tackle Hal in a tight embrace. Charlie swallowed, and looked away hastily.

    “Everyone in the house I entered made it out safely,” Charlie said, voice raspy now. “..but they said that their parents had been out. I don’t know if they’re alright or not. I hope they made it out okay.” He said with a small sigh before glancing back up at the man. “We’re glad you’re alright, Hal.” Charlie said with a small grin towards the man, worry twisted into the smile, but it was genuine nonetheless. From the looks of it, Hal had lost someone too. Loss was a foreign concept to Charlie. He knew it hurt, but he surely didn’t know what that hurt felt like. He could only look at Hal with a quiet sorrow in his eyes.

    He turned around to face Kathan, studying her features with a curious look. "Your Hal’s mom, right?” He said, putting out his hand but then turning his palm upright. The burns weren’t awfully bad, the skin was clearly aggravated and blistered, but nothing that wouldn’t heal too soon.“Maybe we’ll shake hands later, if that’s alright.” He said with an awkward laugh which broke into yet another fit of coughs.[/BCOLOR]
  5. Azzara Omari
    The Bitter Lands

    Azzara realized that the signs of such a destructive event wouldn't have been discovered by those on the other side of the range, but she hoped that they were familiar enough with the land to know the threat. In any case, the first of them to buy into her story was one of the enslaved. She moved her mouth to respond but shut it at the sight of the man being beaten down by another driver by the name of Godae. She winced slightly at the sounds of wood against skin and bone and clutched the straps of the seed's bag tightly.

    Azzara's eyes lingered on the wounded man until she realized that the leader was still looking at her and Tza'Hal. Her brow furrowed at the look he shot the Orc and hardly did much to reveal the concern for his lingering gaze on her bag. His last words felt like a threat more than a warning to her. Maybe it was the fact that he was a slave driver, but the Maldviri could not bring herself to trust him. Sure, there would be trouble along the way. Both countries were plagued by a string of highwaymen. It was curious, then, that Azzara only saw two men leading the group of slaves into the mountains. It stank of suspicion to her, but they did still have their destination. She was hardpressed to take the bit of information and leave, but her curiosity ended up getting the better of her.

    "I think you for your assistance. But before I go, I have a question about these slaves of yours. Might I ask how you procured them?" She looked down the line of slaves and ahead to where they were going. "And if you're selling?"
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  6. Tza'Hal

    The orc was no fool. As soon as she'd laid eyes on the slavers, she knew that their troubles were nowhere near far enough behind them. Even she despised those who sold flesh, but they were free men -- and in a way, they did the world a service, taking the refuse of the world and putting it to work. She herself had no problem with slavery, but the treatment of the slaves were another story. She could tell they'd been mistreated, beaten, half-starved -- if they were the halfwits most thought, then these men had an obligation to make sure the slaves were at least half-way cared for, enough that it didn't look like sticks were poking through their skin. Of course, she shouldn't have thought any different from the likes of Man. He was a cruel, brute creature, uncouth and largely uncultured, without the benefit of even the basic cleverness the magic-users could at least boast.

    And so, she looked down her ridged nose at these slavers, and they looked right back off the tops of their horses. Her grip on the haft of her spear did not budge or tighten. She refused to be goaded into violence.

    They asked their destination, and Azzara answered in kind. The orc caught her look as she glanced over, and Tza'Hal kept her gaze steady. If they meant to give them trouble, they had best be prepared. Tza'Hal had taken an oath of pacifism -- with a caveat, of course, that should her life be in danger, she could use force if necessary. And these men did not seem to have their best interests at heart. Alongside the fact that their particular charge was an incredibly rare, very important piece of magic, Tza'Hal was sure she could bend the rules of her oath just enough to allow her to draw blood and scare them off. After all, one dead man and a couple of frightened slavers was better than a lot of dead slavers because she hadn't been preemptive, was that not so?

    As she realized that she was fantasizing about lopping off the nearest man's head with the bladed end of her spear, she reeled herself in and took a deep breath. This is not the way of the Lynx. The Lynx sees and understands all, but is not a part. Remove yourself from the world and be apart from it. She glanced around at the slaves as one of them was beat, the one who'd spoken up about the eruption. Her eyebrows narrowed.

    Azzara asked about the price of a slave, and the orc quickly caught on.

    "Indeed. I'm old, and we need an extra pair of hands to get through these mountains. Another strong back can help us along, given all our gear," Tza'Hal said gruffly, gesturing to the heavy pack she'd taken on when they'd left so abruptly. The spear -- used as a walking stick -- spoke even more towards Tza'Hal's "infirm" condition, as well as the blanket draped over her shoulders, which mostly hid her robes.

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  7. Inara Belanor
    Location: Lauderdine
    Tags: @Effervescent @Red Thunder

    "Come. We have a woman to find."

    With a shrug, Inara turned from the unattended red vardo and followed Trynten across the town's center. Theresia's note gave way to their destination and the woodsman beside her had no trouble locating the tavern. Its front was slashed wide with a window that ran the length of the building and inside the townsfolk of Lauderdine seemed to be enjoying the show. The woman, who in Inara’s mind could only be Theresia, danced across the tables with her raven hair, flames and bits of metal flashing this way and that as her body moved to the rhythm of the bards tune.

    "I don't guess you have any description of our Ms. Theresia, do you? Because, short of generally asking the crowd, I have no thought as to how to make contact with her."

    Inara smiled at her traveling companion, wondering how they'd come this far and not for the first time, how the others were faring - but the rhythmic beat was intoxicating and Inara tried little to slow the swaying of her body. The only thing on her mind was the name Hal. Hal Midigan. And what he had told her.

    "We ask, woodsman."

    Opening the tavern door wide, Inara gave herself to the beat and let the rhythm overtake her. On light feet, she weaved her way through the throng of rowdy men until she was half dancing and standing just below the woman.

    “Theresia...” She breathed out.
    #7 rissa, Aug 22, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2016
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  8. Keep Brandau

    Kathan’s lips pursed as Wynleth rushed past her, though the hurt she was expressing did not seem to originate with the Sur’s complete disregard towards her. The Baladuri follows Wynleth’s steps towards her son and fought back tears. The mother within her instinctively began to slap Charlie’s back heartily. She carried a force beneath her layers of clothing denoting strength in hard labor.

    "Get it out of your lungs," she said to Charlie. “I think my eldest daughter has some aloe leaves. Maybe the whole plant. It was a gift to her and so she has been quite fond of it. It will soothe the burns on your arms.” She nodded her head a bit more solemnly in a brief pause. “I am Hal’s mother, yes. Kathan Midigan. You didn't happen to see three men come through here, one about as tall and stocky as a tree with blond hair down to his shoulders? They would likely be a mess.”

    Beside them a little off to the side, Hal and Wynleth shared an embrace. He barely had time to wave to Charlie or his mother before the Sur wrapped her arms around him. He brought his hands around her to complete the embrace, his touch hesitant before closing completely. His body shook in brief trembles, shaken by something unspoken. He took in a calming breath, the scent of the Sur sweetly lingering even after the exhale.

    “I'm glad to see you are both alright,” he said. “I think everyone should be safe. Their homes should-“

    His words halted as he looked up in the sky. There was nothing to be seen on this side of the mountain. The volcanic eruption was just Northwest of the keep around the bend of the road. A distant rumble persisted distantly, but no birds sang. There was nothing in the blue skies above, yet Hal looked through the canopy of the trees in search.

    “Do you…” Hal began to speak again, but his words once again trailed off. And then in a sudden flash, the sunlight was blotted out by a massive form flying quickly through the air towards the Mouth of the Mountain. Hal grabbed Wynleth’s hand to brings her with him down the road in a rush. There was a clearing around the bend that looked out to the valley where the village rested. Strange rocks jutted from the base of the volcano as the beast flew past their view. Even without ever having seen one in his lifetime, there was no mistaking the creature in the skies. It was a dragon.
    @Elle Joyner @Cloudily @Red Thunder

    The Bitter Lands

    There was a quiet pause that lingered between them as the head slave driver studied the two before him. The clanking chains and labored breaths of the march behind him filled the silence along with the occasional distant shout. Another driver on horseback walked into view and stared as he passed. The leader leaned over in his saddle as he brought himself closer to the pair.

    “You're a bit nosy,” he said to Azzara, and then began a fit of chuckles at his own coming racist joke. “Guess you needed to compensate for the Orc!” He motioned to his rather large nose and covered it as he continued to laugh. It took him a moment to calm down before he could continue with a response.

    “How I acquired them is Baladuri business,” he stated plainly. “And if you truly want a slave, you'd know where to get one. What is it you really want, hmm? You think we’re not prepared for a little band of Freedom Fighters? If you're here to liberate, you'd best get out of sight before we add you to the lot.”

    @SpaceCowboyEin @Doctor Jax


    As the woman in the tavern flourished her dance across the table tops with a kick and a catch of someone's mug of ale, her eyes fixated to the pair out the window loitering near the vardo. She gave the two an obvious stare before continuing among the crowd that had gathered. Conversations brewed with a cheery demeanor as though their world was not falling to darkness. Another round of drinks was ordered by a man that looked more Baladuri than Thall. A man smelling of piss and ale, completely smashed and barely able to walk, rounded the corner from where he had relieved himself, his pants still in the process of being buttoned up.

    "Theresia?" he repeated with efforts, and then pointed towards the window. "She's t'only woman in there worth y'time. The Fallenite with the big jugs." He motioned towards his chest, his hands cupping around air for emphasis. A hearty giggle escaped him as the two traveled into the large tavern spaces.

    A smirk broadened the woman’s lips as she paused to hear the airy tone of her voice from a lovely looking elf. Theresia’s fingers caressed Inara’s cheek playfully before winking and swung around a post near the bard for the tune’s finale. She raised a foot high into the air using just her upper body to keep her to the post and dipped backwards in the applause. She definitely did not look like anyone from the Allied Kingdoms. Her skin was of an olive tone and of several shades darker. Her thin lips were curled into a smirk as she stepped down the small set of stairs as she neared the pair with interest. Black hair as dark as a moonless midnight flowed waist length thickly and straight. This was a woman that had to have come from the Western Lands beyond their charted borders. What she was doing freely within the Allied Kingdoms would be a mystery to unfold, but it was hardly as important as saving the world from darkness.

    Laughter filled the air, and she thanked everyone for their enthusiasm by ordering another round of drinks. Theresia approached the pair with a wide and friendly smile. “You're more than welcome to a drink as well,” she said. “Or are you here for business?”

    @Red Thunder @fyrelily
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  9. [​IMG]

    It was a silent exchange, a brief embrace, no more than but a few seconds before Wyn relinquished her hold on him, but whatever meaning there was or was not in that moment, Wyn could not deny the absolute relief that he was there, alive and well. Heart worn on her sleeve, she stepped back and reaching up to dry her eyes with the back of her hand, she shook her head solemnly... Not everyone was safe, but saying it aloud had been difficult enough with Charlie. These people, they were Hal's family... his kin, and having lost any on of them would be devastating.

    Remembering Charlie's reaction, how it had seemed to drain the excitement, the fortitude from him, there was a part of her that wanted to say nothing, to let it go and hope that in the circumstances it was forgotten... But no death was trivial or unimportant. And no desire to save him from pain made it fair or just to brush something like that aside. She'd done her best, but she had failed, and he needed to know that.

    "...Hal, I..."

    But whatever she was going to say, she wasn't given the chance. His fingers clasped tightly around her hand and giving her a tug that nearly set her off her feet, he dragged her after him, his eyes leveled on the sky overhead. Only when he stopped did she glance up, and what she saw was enough to steal the air from her lungs.

    She had never seen one, but back home there were stories... Until the monastery, though, she hadn't dared to think the stories true. But the Wardens, they had been real enough, and even without them, without the revelation of their presence, there was just simply no denying what she saw now.

    "...My God... Hal. That... Is that?" Turning to the Balduri, her eyes opened wide, bright, her voice a breathless whisper, "...That's a dragon..."

    TAGS: @Effervescent, @Cloudily
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    Location: Keep Brandau
    Tags: @Elle Joyner @Effervescent
    He certainly had not expected Kathan's sudden smacks on the back. He was a little bit too busy coughing up what felt like his insides to reply to her comment of aloe leaves. His throat and lungs were burning as if someone had set them aflame, and when the hacking finally died down the sensation didn't quite change. "That would be appreciated," Charlie finally croaked, rubbing his throat as if it would help. He paused, trying to recall the faces of the men Kathan had described, furiously replaying his memory, because he knew these people meant much to Hal and his mother. "No," He rasped, shaking his head solemnly. "I didn't see them. I'm sorry."

    Charlie watched quietly as Hal and Wyn shared a passionate embrace, lowering his eyes until they broke apart. “I'm glad to see you are both alright,” Charlie only gave a slight nod in acknowledgement, accompanied by a tiny smile. “I think everyone should be safe. Their homes should-“ Hal stopped himself, glancing towards the sky. Charlie followed his gaze, squinting, searching for something abnormal, besides the volcanic eruption. Hal started to speak again, but now was cut off by something huge blocking out the sun. Oh no, was Charlie's first thought, because it could really only get worse from here, or so he assumed. But the pounding of his heart slowly turned from fear to excitement.

    "...My God... Hal. That... Is that?" "A DRAGON!" Charlie shouted, drowning out Wynleth's whisper without a care. He coughed into the crook of his elbow before straightening his posture again and beaming. "It's a dragon! Oh, my god! A dragon!" Charlie was beyond himself with excitement, any somberness he held moments ago was now replaced with an awed look, one a child got when they entered a candy store. To see a dragon was something Charlie had forever dreamed of. He had furiously read any book that promised the quietest mention of one, begged Elder Lannya to tell him any story she could possibly recall. Dragons were a childhood fantasy Charlie had refused to outgrow, but Charlie hadn't really outgrown any piece of his childishness anyway.

    "Do you think it -- it caused the eruption? Or maybe -- maybe it's just fleeing, or --do you think it was in the Mouth of the Mountain somewhere? With us? Wow! Wow. A dragon. Oh my god. A dragon. A dragon!" He couldn't think straight, and continued to babble in wonderment, eyes not once leaving the figure of the dragon in the distance.

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  11. Azzara Omari
    The Bitter Lands

    Azzara's features darkened as the slave driver leaned in towards them to respond. Naturally, he would avoid giving her a straight answer, which always meant there was something to hide after all. His chiding remarks towards Tza'Hal caused her brow to furrow. Oh how'd she seen men like this over and over through the years. He stank of evils unknown to the average person. It was in the way he spoke, how he carried himself, how he looked down on the pair. Even his threats came off so nonchalant that Azzara knew he wasn't bluffing. Her ploy was dead in the water, and she couldn't help but feel that the man would not let them go so easily at this point. A shame, really.

    Azzara glanced left and right and counted two other slavers on horseback. It was too little for what she assumed had to have been at least a hundred slaves. Even going two by two from left to right she couldn't see either end of them. There would be more drivers, but if they were spread thin, it would be good for them. Azzara just hoped that Tza'Hal would be as quick to react as she'd been early.

    "That'd be a shame." Azzara murmured as she tightened the straps to the seed's bag around her shoulders. Once she was confident that it wouldn't impair her movement, Azzara cast out a hand towards the man and assaulted his soul with a burst of her light. The result was a blinding flash, with man and horse sharing a wail. The driver fell the ground, assisted by his bucking horse who proceeded to bolt down the line of slaves. Not wanting to waste time, Azzara drew her blade and lunged forward to drive it into the neck of the downed driver. She knew that her actions would cause a commotion among the slaves and knew that now, they were on a very short timeline. With any luck, Tza'Hal would be dealing with at least one of the other drivers.

    Azzara busied herself with retrieving the drivers key ring that she hoped would go to the slaves' bindings and threw it to the nearest pair in the line. "Free yourselves, free the others, and run!" She yelled, throwing the man's sword towards them. She picked up his whip and weighed the uncoiled weapon in her offhand. It would have to do for whoever would come for them next.


    @Doctor Jax
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  12. Kraeg'zerech





    It'd been long, so long, since he'd had to speed along at such a rate. It was tiring, far tiring than it ought to be. Nigh on three hundred years did that, even to such a creature as himself. He'd have never let him get so old, so weak. He'd have encouraged him to remain involved, to stick with it despite the opposition.

    Leathery wings, crusted in brown moss and yellowing grass, beat heavily in the air, propelling him onward almost against his will. It was hard, so hard, to come back here. Here, the place of Death. He resented it, in a way, that whatever puppeted his very being like this brought him thither. He resented that need. For when he'd felt empty, that Need had deserted him. Along with Him.

    Yet he flew, leaving his eyrie behind him, leaving his mate behind him inexplicably. Hopefully she would be there when he returned. It was a mercy that she hadn't been called to - whatever this was. Below him the scenery changed from woods to hills to steeper still inclines, but all he felt in him was the Call, pulling him inexorably toward the place. The grave. The Mouth.

    Movement below him caught his eye. Small things, several Two Legs, were standing or running about, near one of their strongholds. Or maybe a town. It was hard to keep their places straight without Him. One caught his eye; the Two Legs seemed to have noticed him before any of the others. Hm. There was- Wait.

    He circled around, catching a draft of hot wind rushing down from the mountain, in order to look again at the group of Two Legs below. There was one... No Warden, by any means, but it reminded him of Him somehow... The ears perhaps? Maybe its age? Yes, it was both. And there was a feeling he got, being this near to them. It felt like Him again.

    The great Earth Wyrm, having come about at a descent, touched down upon the ground, careful to not crush those about him with his girth. For girth he had: the dragon was nigh on sixty feet long, and towered above their heads. His nose was beaked and like slate, and two remarkably tree like horns grew from his sloped forehead. On the branches of the trees hung desperately an array of fall colored leaves. His scales were a faded brown, and he bore in several places the scars of old wounds healed. Two faded emerald eyes peered curiously at everyone there, and each pupil was the size of a fat man's belly.

    Finally those eyes stopped roving and came to rest on Charlie. The dragon tilted his head as would a dog, considering. He then lowered his head beside the boy, looked at him significantly, and sighed. The rumble echoed into the earth, and the ground itself may have shaken slightly. When Charlie didn't move immediately, the dragon blinked twice, looked toward the erupting mountain, and back toward the boy. Now was no time for measured consideration; either the boy would mount the dragon's neck, or the dragon would simply leave. For he still felt Called, and even this gesture strained him.

    @Cloudily @Effervescent @Elle Joyner

    Trynten Lothersen


    Inara had moved from him with an abandon he might never understand, swinging and twirling into the crowd gracefully. Arms crossed, he watched her with his peripherals, keeping his main focus instead on the retreating drunkard. It never sat well, the way some people just approached whomever they pleased-

    He shook his head. He needed to follow Inara. Keep her safe, though it was true that she had herself been more looking after his wellbeing than the reverse. All the more reason to keep after; he had a debt to pay. Shouldering his way through the crowd, Tryn pursued his friend toward the dancer.

    It was odd, he thought offhandedly as he stepped carefully past the carousing and the caroused, that such as she should be this far north. Theresia, if that was indeed who this was, remnded him of Azzara; she didn't belong, and yet she was utterly at ease with her circumstance. It was...inspiring, her spirit, and the woodsman found himself in awe of her.

    Finally he joined Inara just as Theresia extended her invitation to them. Shaking his head in refusal, he confirmed her guess.

    "None for me, I think, though I wish I had the- the time. No, we were sent by Hal Midigen for council." Tryn looked to his left, uncertainty in his eyes. "Is there some place that we might speak privately? We two have much to relate to provide context."

    @fyrelily @Effervescent
    #12 Red Thunder, Sep 2, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2016
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  13. Tza'Hal had seen in Azzara the tension of an attack bound to happen. She was of strong character, one with a vicious sense of right, and that, the Orc could respect. Her grip around the haft of her spear tightened. She had taken a vow never again to engage in a physical encounter unless her very life was threatened, or that the lives of others be threatened as well. Perhaps this counted, seeing as Azzara was about to put them all in danger in a moment.

    And with a sick sense of glee, Tza'Hal realized that she yearned for the clamor and chaos of a fight. Oh, how she'd run from the deaths she'd caused. She had thought that hiding behind a veil of pacifism, even those ten years in sackcloth, could make up for the guilt she felt in killing others. Yet, there was nothing like the blood rush of taking another's life, even from a distance. Her stomach churned as her moral center seemed to quail, and she resolved within herself to justify whatever came next.

    Should Azzara forego bloodshed, so would she. But should Azzara take the path of the sword --

    Quicker than Tza'Hal could follow, a burst of light shattered against man and horse, and that was the cue she had been waiting on. Swiftly, Tza'Hal hefted the spear and turned on a foot, took quick aim of the driver with his back to the commotion, and threw the spear with all her strength. The other driver turned around to see what the fuss was about, and in that moment, the spear stuck into his throat, blood shooting from the wound. He gasped and tried to pull it out, but he had fallen off his horse by that point.

    Tza'Hal shed the blanket-turned cloak, cracking it against the nearest slave, and bellowed, "Run, if you've strength and will!"

    Despite Azzara's passing of the keys, they were taking their sweet time, and finally, they ran in a stampede towards the other end with the remaining slave driver and his horse. Tza'Hal yanked Azzara's arm and pointed to the unharmed horse of the driver she'd slain.

    "That horse can carry us faster than our feet!"

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  14. Keep Brandau
    Hal felt his heart race with excitement at the sight before him. The dragon towered mightily before the trio, his body imposing and structured like a mountain of its own. He leaned towards Charlie, and for some reason Hal didn't feel like this was a threat. There was something about the dragon that gave off a sense of both longing and urgency, yet it looked upon Charlie and paused.

    “I think…” Hal halted in his words. He had never seen a dragon before in his life, yet here he was about to interpret its actions as if he were an aficionado. There was a strong, overwhelming sensation within him that made him feel confident and understanding. Perhaps it was the rush through his veins after running for his life and his family’s still present as his nerves calmed.

    “He is offering you a chance to fly with him,” Hal explained. As amazing and thrilling the scene was, his excitement for Charlie was dampened by why the dragon was there. Somehow Hal knew the dragon was summoned here to save them from the exploding mountain using its magic. He looked over at Wynleth with wide eyes, his mouth hanging slightly agape as his brows pushed together and creased with emotions.

    “I think the Seed did something to me,” he whispered to her.

    @Elle Joyner @Cloudily @Red Thunder

    The Bitter Lands
    The leader’s horse spooked with the sudden movement from the Maldviri coupled with the blinding flash of light. A few of the chained slaves gasped and covered their eyes as the horse reared and bucked its hind legs into the slaves behind it before fleeing the scene. With the force of the horse’s hooves, two innocent bystanders took unfortunate blows to their heads falling instantly in a heap. The slave driver fell to the stony earth with a thud, the wind knocked from his lungs as he gasped for air and froze in his pain. There was no time or ability for the man to defend himself as Azzara thrusted her blade into his neck. Blood gurgled in his throat as the blow did not instantly kill the man. In his final moments he watched his assailant produce his keys before he drowned in his own blood. Lifeless eyes stared up to the sky as a horn blew through the air to the left. There were shouts and calls from distant men, and the slaves had halted to either watch the display in horror or to look down the lines for the other drivers.

    The nearest slave to Azzara grasped the given key and immediately began to unlock the shackles from his own wrists, and then to the others. There were so many of them in chains, and there were tugs and pulls down and up the line that jostled them about in their sequence. Those near the fallen slaves either forced themselves to ignore the bodies completely or stared in horror at the bloodied mess. A woman started crying inconsolably, and once freed she rushed to one of the bodies to hold him in her arms. She rhythmically rocked in her anguish, and the other slaves remained quiet out of respect as they passed the key down the line.

    Tza’Hal’s spear whistled lowly through the air as it struck Godae’s throat. The tip lodged itself into his windpipe and brought him off his horse. A pained, gurgled grunt followed as the spear tore through his flesh on impact, and he found himself unable to move as he, too, began to drown in his own blood. A rumbling upon the earth drew near by the gallop of horses’ hooves. There were more enemies appearing from either direction. They were archers, and it was known throughout the lands that mounted Baladuri archers were among the fiercest fighters able to hit their marks with what some would describe as inhuman accuracy. It was an art form passed down generations and highly praised, and unfortunately for Tza’Hal and Azzara, they now faced three. Their arrows were already knocked, and as their horses galloped past they let loose their arrows at their targets and quickly retrieved another from their quiver as they turned about.

    Another horn blew, and the slaves were still freeing themselves. It was either fight or flight.

    SpaceCowboyEin @Doctor Jax

    Theresia’s demeanor completely shifted at the mention of Hal’s name. Her lips lost its lopsided smirk as her features softened to a more serious tone. She motioned towards the door with a slow roll of her hand and guided the two out of the tavern. The rowdy conversations and blinded, drunken merriment became muffled as the door shut behind them.

    “Hal Midigan, hmm?” she said in a melodic tone. Her footsteps were soft and quiet as she walked to the door of her red painted vardo. “Let's step into my office, then, shall we?”

    Unlocking the door opened the way into a rather quaint and small dwelling. The vardo was suited for perhaps one, maybe two individuals of common stature, but the three of them definitely made it all seem smaller. Hanging from the curved ceiling were what looked to be a hundred glowing crystals wrapped in silver filigree and fastened to thread secured at various points along the length of the singular room. A small iron stove occupied the nearest corner to their left whose chimney ran up the wall. There was only one window, to which was covered by thick, golden colored curtains. Theresia pulled them back to let in a little sunlight revealing a layer of thin gossamer in cream and the stonework of the building next to them. A plush chair sat in the far corner next to the window. On the right side presided a dresser, shelves, and a desk inlaid directly across from the window.

    Theresia pulled out the stool from under the desk, of which was upholstered with a plush golden cushion. She motioned to the chair and the stool as she walked the span of the vardo to its other side, her hands sliding a door to reveal her bed. She took her seat upon the bed and smiled at Inara and Trynten.

    “Close the door behind you,” she said. “Now, I can assume based on Hal’s endorsement you two are here for information. Or…council as this lovely gentleman so put it. I will require, from both of you separately, a memory before we proceed. It must be of equal importance in relation to the information you seek. Any questions? Who would like to go first?”

    @Red Thunder @fyrelily
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  15. Fire and Ash
    Kraeg and Charlie
    A collab between @Red Thunder and @Cloudily

    ~A Decade Prior~

    “Elder Lannya!”

    He was about eight or nine, front teeth missing, but excitement all the same as it was now. He stumbled his own feet just to catch her skirt, begging and tugging with one free hand, and the other tightly clutching a very worn, yet well loved book. “Elder Lannya, before you go, please, please, will you read to me? Please?”

    Elder Lannya chuckled, taking a moment to pretend to consider. “Alright. If you so insist.” She said, pulling up a chair and patting her lap for Charlie to sit. The half-elf boy’s eyes widened further in glee as he clambered up onto her lap, handing her the book and then waiting eagerly. Elder Lannya cleared her throat and opened the book. It wasn’t the first time Charlie had begged to be read this book; in fact, every child knew that every time Elder Lannya came around, Charlie would make sure she read it.

    The first few times other children crowded around to enjoy the story, but they began to grow sick of the book and rather, had the elder half-elves read them other stories. The book rightfully became Charlie's and since no one was interested in listening to it in anymore, he delightedly took possession of it.

    It was a book of dragons, and filled with more illustration than words, which made it all the better. Every time Elder Lannya began to move to the next page, he'd wail and ask her to stay on it just a bit longer so he could marvel at the drawing of a long, poised, majestic arcane dragon.

    He held those memories close.

    When his attunement began to show through, Charlie had ended up burning a large chunk out of the book. It was (one of) the most devastating things he had accidentally destroyed, and even though many of the illustrations were no longer whole, and pieces of the words missing, he of course kept the battered old thing and read it to himself, or what he could of it, rather often. Pages were falling out and everything beginning to fade, but it hardly mattered to him.

    While this book had surely been the cause of the half-elf boy’s immense love of dragons, it was likely tied to the fact that the memories of being held in the lap of Elder Lannya, being read too, were some of the kindest moments of his life, especially so in the recent days.

    When Elder Lannya had finished, she would close the book and Charlie would jump off of her lap. She patted him on the head and handed him back the book and he scampered away back to the other children.

    ~Present Day, on the Slopes of the Mouth~

    Not only did Charlie get the chance to marvel at the magnificent sight of a dragon flying overhead, it came closer, closer. At first, Charlie was frozen with awe, but as it neared, he started to panic a little more. Charlie stumbled back as it seemed to be heading right towards them, oh my god, right towards them -- the dragon landed it's massive body, making the earth tremble and Charlie fall, putting his hands behind him to lessen the damage and scraping his already blistered palms. Charlie winced, but hardly spared a moment on what parts of him were already aching.

    The dragon was like a ginormous piece of land. A mountain. Trees for horns, scales that looked like patches of moss and grass, eyes that looked like jewels. And yet, the dragon was old, perhaps decayed. But beautiful nonetheless.

    And then it tilted its head to look him right in the eyes. Charlie stared, mouth agape, bewildered, excited, enthralled. I'm staring right into the eyes of a dragon, Charlie thought to himself. I'm staring right into the eyes of a dragon. His head lowered, as if inviting Charlie aboard, but the boy was too enamored to move.

    "He is offering you a chance to fly with him,” Hal said from aside, and Charlie moved to look at him, still aghast, before nodding quietly. If he didn't get on now, the dragon would leave. When you're old and gray, do you want to tell your grandchildren you saw a dragon and rode it, or saw a dragon and let it fly away?

    Charlie leaned forward, standing back up and putting his scratched up palm out, aiming to touch the snout of the dragon.

    His bravado, for it could be nothing else, was met with the Earth Wyrm’s hesitation. It made sense; the Two Legs could not sense the urgency the dragon felt. Though it made no sense that he might display no tension about the disaster occurring within such close proximity. But the emotions and thoughts of such creatures had become foreign to him, since…

    Kraeg exhaled deeply, his moist breath kicking up the looser dirt about Charlie with a vengeance. It's warmth surrounded the boy, enveloping him much like a blanket, then he turned his head, bypassing his own nose to force Charlie’s hand onto the base of his head. He rumbled anxiously; the dragon had a duty to fulfill, and though he was willing (and indeed desirous) to bring the boy along, he'd not let he Two Legs’s hesitation hold him up.

    Charlie let out a fearful noise when the dragon pushed his snout into his palm, perhaps expecting it to be more of an attack then an affectionate nuzzle. Why this dragon had come out of the blue to act so kindly to him, Charlie did not know, but he wasn’t sure he wanted to question it quite yet. The dragon rumbled; perhaps a purr? Or maybe something else. Charlie didn’t speak dragon. All he knew was that he was supposed to climb on.

    Charlie gave a look to Wynleth and Hal, his eyes filled with uncertainty, but that childish excitement that never left Charlie was mixed in as well. He hauled himself on top of the dragon and took a deep breath. Here we go.

    Light as a feather. Like He was, so long ago. Now that the boy was astride his neck, and as secure as he was going to be without a saddle, Kraeg had a better bead on that feeling of familiarity he'd had upon his arrival. The young one, the half-elf, wasn't it's source. His great emerald eye peered down at the remaining Two Legs, passing by each after a brief look until he beheld again Hal. After the briefest moment, he turned, unfurled his wings, and took into the sky.

    The first thing Charlie did was yell. It was terrifying, gut-wrenchingly terrifying, not like the hot air balloon, not at all. The hot air balloon felt much, much safer than this. He clung on to the dragon tightly, and it took time before the fear finally began to simmer and he could actually enjoy the wind in his face, the feeling of riding upon something living, breathing, quaking. After the initial shout, Charlie let out a happy cry.

    It was...good, to have a rider again. There was no Bond, of course, but for all the joy and outright pleasure the half-elf was taking, there might as well have been one. It was easy to forget, after so many decades and a century or two, what joy was found in flight. Kraeg found himself feeling happy, in spite of himself, and he chuckled a great vibrating laugh.

    But the great Wyrm had flown thus far for a more important purpose than to simply give some stranger a ride upon his back. He looked forward. The mountain was angry and in pain, and its throes was causing such distress to them what lived within its shadow. And, too, a great sadness seemed to be coming from the Mouth, and a great need. And so toward the Mouth he flew, heedless of the odd fiery chunk of rock that came pelting toward them. He flew in a circling path, coming toward it at a wide angle. As he did, the very ground itself lifted up behind him in a line that followed his motion, effectively forming a wall that slanted across the path from the Mouth to the village. It would not hold the red semi-liquid indefinitely, but it might aid in preventing overflow from harming those that lingered or moved slowly.

    It was a surreal scene for a little while - in the air, on the back of dragon, chaos below but it felt different from up here. At first, he thought it to be some sort of joyride. That was Charlie after all, never quite expecting a worse outcome. The grin turned into a horrified expression as a hunk of flaming rock came hurtling towards them, and he ducked even though it wasn’t quite aiming straight at him. This whole adventure had been a heart-pounding mess, more fear than Charlie had ever experienced in his life. The poor boy’s heart might jump out of his chest at some point.

    They were going right towards the volcano. Charlie realized that after what felt like much too long. He would have begged the dragon to turn around if he could force his mouth to move other than to make a shout or cry. The dragon went in circles, and up rose a wall of earth where he flew. A barrier between the molten lava and the village. Amazing. Just what they needed, even if it wouldn’t last forever.

    On and up he flew, aged sinuous wings beating heavily against the thickening air. For thick it was growing: apart from the increasing amount of flying stones thrown out from the earth, the ash was in a far denser amount than on the ground, where it had time to disperse. Even Kraeg, for all his earth affinity, found his breath labored. And if he himself felt that…

    He looked back to his rider, concerned. He was responsible for him, for the child, as he'd once been for- for Hale. He'd managed to be worthless in keeping the latter safe; he'd call himself a wyvern before he let the former come to harm as well.

    As if on cue, a stone the size of a house hurtled toward them. Kraeg whipped about his head, and fear filled his eyes. It was too close to evade without throwing the boy off, and too large to simply muscle his way through. Anger quickly replaced the fear: anger at himself for not being observant, angry at himself for inviting the child into danger, and angry at himself for his lack of ability to help. To change anything. In a final note of fury, he opened his maw and roared.

    The deep cry, bass notes almost to low for the human ear to hear, blasted forth from his mouth. And the boulder shattered into a million pieces. Kraeg snapped his mouth closed, surprised; the earth wall behind him had gone unnoticed. Earth dragons had no control over their particular element. What was going on, that a mere shout, violent though it was, should break stone?

    But such thoughts would need to wait. He could do, without needing to know why, so he would. With another roar, this one of empowerment and drive, Kraeg rushed toward the spewing lava. As before the ground have way, channeled now by conscious thought. And on he worked, determined to continue until the threat to the village was gone or the boy’s safety could no longer to some degree be ensured.

    As they moved higher and closer, Charlie could feel the smog in the air collect within him. He already hadn’t been in great shape before, but now, this wasn’t good. Keeping one hand tightly gripping the scales of the dragon, Charlie raised one hand to his mouth to cough, and viciously at that. He didn’t notice the enormous stone flying right towards them until Kraeg whipped his head around, and let out a roar.

    Charlie jolted to look as the boulder shattered like glass. Like fragile glass. The young half-elf’s mouth was wide open, in shock, in awe. That would have killed them. Or, at least, killed him. But all the dragon had done was open it’s mouth and shout -- and -- and it had just.. Exploded into nothing.

    Charlie hollered, a victory cry, before breaking into another coughing fit. As much as he was enjoying this, his throat was burning and eyes watering. It was hard to breathe, and getting harder and harder.. And they were heading even further into the mountain of spewing lava. No, Charlie didn’t regret getting on the dragon, not for one second. But now he was feeling a bit ready to get off.
    #15 Red Thunder, Sep 16, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2016
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  16. [​IMG]

    "I think the Seed did something to me."

    How odd that he should say entirely what Wyn had been thinking at that very moment. Whether or not it was true for either one of them, Wyn couldn't ignore that something had shifted. Infinitesimal, at least in her case, but impossible to ignore. With the adrenaline coursing through her, it had been easier to chalk everything up to the intensity of the last few days but standing there in the relatively calm aftermath of the eruption, out of harm's way, the sense was unmistakable. It was as if she were seeing the world through unfamiliar eyes. Eyes suddenly and truly aware of how fragile life really was, how quick. Somehow, the appearance of the great beast in the sky only served to magnify that realization and as Hal turned her way and murmured those words, Wyn's eyes dropped instead to find her hand had, almost of it's own volition, sought his again, willowy fingers weaving through his.

    "I might know what you mean. Everything is changing..." Her response was softly spoken, with a quiver and as she looked up again, her eyes glistened with dampness, "The whole world seems upside down. I... I'll be honest. I shouldn't have come. I know that, now. I... I've never done anything like this in my life. I'm not a very good fighter, and I'm worse where magic is concerned. I just felt... I felt so useless, sitting there, watching everything fall to pieces. Losing my brother, it was like a part of me was gone as well, and I thought maybe if... if I could do something, anything, I might be able to regain whatever that was. So I went to Rosenfall, and I signed up. But then the Elssar betrayed us. I got separated from the others." Her gaze drifted for a moment to the dragon and shaking her head, she frowned thoughtfully, "I was put in a room with three other women. They were... well, I still can't understand it, but I think were Dragon Wardens. They were being kept for breeding. I never found out, but I think that was my purpose for being put there as well. So we planned an escape. Only something went wrong. The Wardens and the others... the ones I was traveling with, they didn't make it out of the monastery. My brother's dearest friend, he was one of them. I'm not sure I knew it even then, but I realized it shortly after how dear he was to me, too. That hole... the one that came with Remi's death, it only got bigger, like my soul had been ripped away. Then we found the Seed, and I felt something I never expected to feel again. I felt hope... like maybe there wasn't peace yet, but it was attainable. But coming here, trying to save all those people, it's made it so clear how much there still is to lose. And I can't help but think how inadequate I am."

    Lowering her gaze, she shook her head as a tear rolled down her cheek, landing with a silent splash to the ground, "I lost someone, Hal... On the way to the Keep. I tried... I... I tried, but... but I couldn't save her. I couldn't save any of them, not my family, not those at the Monastery. I'm so afraid I'm not meant to. That I'm meant to lose everyone. And that thought terrifies me. That I'll wake up one day, completely alone. And when you didn't come back... when I saw your mother and your sisters on their own..."

    He turned to her as she spoke, her demeanor slowly registering as her emotional state became more and more evident. Hal had been so wrapped up in his own train of thought that her interpretation of what he meant derailed him. But the magnitude of her words and all she had been through eventually caught up to him, and without another word he gently brought her into a warm embrace. He didn't immediately say anything, merely just settling in the moment of comfort. A hug was never a simple gesture, and without such human contact he might have felt so unloved and alone in his darkest times. Wynleth looked like she needed that very comfort he was privileged to have known even now from his family and his friends.

    "Life is an ever constant turn of events we have no control over," he said softly, and then looked out to the sky. "All we can do is learn to hold on to now and to the people among us. Treasure each moment as if it were the last."

    His arms wound around her and Wyn sank into that embrace with a quiet sigh, a shudder that stilled the tears. Her family had never been terribly affectionate, but her heart had always been different, warmer... She was always quick to comfort, and being given that in return was greatly appreciated and gravely needed. After a moment, she tipped her head up, tracking the dragon across the sky. It would an experience that would live with Charlie forever... and experience that he would never let go of. And in a moment, it was joy... and it was perfect. Turning her eyes up to Hal, she managed a small, shaky smile, "...Even now, I don't regret it. Coming along. I thought I might, especially after everything that happened. Everything I've lost... But I suppose there's something to say for what we've done... What we're doing. Treasure each moment... Hal. We... we found it. The Seed. I never thought... I never dared to hope... but we've found it. It's going to change all our lives..."

    To him, it already had. Hal was still unnerved by the recent happenings and didn't know how to explain what happened before he caught up with everyone at the keep. His mother saw it. She saw everything before she rushed the remainder of the family to safety. There was something in her eyes that haunted Hal and twisted his gut, and he peeled his gaze from the dragon to the road's bend towards Keep Brandau. But now wasn't the time to share what he endured. Giving Wynleth a little squeeze, Hal pulled back from the embrace to look at her with a warm smile. "We did," he said. "We're going to save the world. Azzara and Tza'Hal will make it to Lauderdine and we will meet up with them and head into the West. Charlie and I will be here with you every step of the way."

    Her smile brightening, Wynleth shook her head, "...There was point in time when I was the optimistic one. I'd like to get back there, someday. Back to the point where hope seemed less like a faraway dream. But we've come this far, and no one expected that." The smile fading a little, she bit down on her lip, her eyes moving to his, "I hope you know I mean to hold you to that. You... you're important to me." Blinking, she shifted her gaze, lowered it, her skin flushed pink, "Both of you, of course."

    "Of course," Hal assured. "Every step of the way. Well, that is, if Charlie ever comes down. He may very well leave us to be one with the dragons. Not everyday you get to even see one, much less be chosen by one to ride on its back. Can't say that I'd blame him." He then gave Wynleth a playful wink as he turned out to look in the direction of the volcano. The dragon's distant, guttural bellow echoed through the valley. He was doing some magnificent and strange feats of Earth Magic that manipulated rock into walls to protect the village.

    "...I was amazed just to meet the Wardens when I did. To see an actual dragon...? It hardly feels real. I'm happy for Charlie. He... he deserves this, after what he went through in the mountains. He's not likely to forget, but maybe with this, he'll be able to put it behind him." Reaching out, she brushed the back of Hal's hand with her fingers, "...Your family... I couldn't help but notice how they looked when they arrived. I'm sorry, I should have asked... Are they alright?"

    "My father and my brothers are missing," Hal explained. It wasn't a lie, but it wasn't the whole truth either. He wasn't sure if he was ready to talk about it. What happened on the road being played back in his mind made him feel a bit mad in the head. He looked back down towards the keep and grabbed Wynleth's hand for a reassuring squeeze. "My mother is pretty worried about them. Apparently, I've been a bad influence on my brothers. They likely ran off the other day to do some Freedom Raids. My father went looking for them. But they'll turn up."

    "Oh..." Frowning, she glanced back towards the path. If they had gotten caught up in the eruption... if they hadn't been able to find shelter. Swallowing the pit in her throat, she shook her head and looked back to Hal, "Your poor mother. Is... is there something we can do? Should we go look for them? I can just have my wrist bandaged and we can head out..."

    He shook his head somewhat in the thought. Yet another conflict to deviate him from the course. But it was possible to do both without much sacrifice. "My mother does plan to ask the neighbors to help look. The issue is, in these parts at least, if multiple people go missing, most shy away from a search party and it is left up to the missing to return on their own. It's just the Baladuri way, and it is also a way to prove one's worth and knowledge. But it would not dishonor them to look. We can search ourselves on the path to Lauderdine. There's a slave trade route that goes through those valleys into the Bitter Lands. It's the closest place for a Freedom Raid."

    "The world isn't at all what I imagined it to be. Before I left home, I used to dream of what it would be like to travel, to meet other types of people. Maybe I'm naive, I guess. But I just never expected things to be so grim, even without the Shadow." Reaching up, she brushed the tip of her ears, before pushing her hair to cover them, "The woman I lost... She didn't want my help because of what I am. I... I came across it, now and then, on the road to Rosenfall. The prejudice, but never so directly. And this? Slave trade routes and people too afraid to help each other. Even with the Seed, it seems like there's so much to overcome."

    TAGS: @Effervescent, @Cloudily
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  17. Azzara Omari
    The Bitter Lands

    That horse can carry us faster than our feet!

    Tza'Hal was right, but their actions did not come without consequence. A horn was blown, their actions were not unknown. And now they had a choice. Fight or flight. Baladuri horse archers were bearing down on them from both sides and no doubt more were on the way. If the pair took the horse now, they could likely evade the slavers with more assistance from Azzara's light, but surely the slaves would be slaughtered. This was not something that Azzara could abide and instead of bolting for the horse, she would elect to fight. The slaves were in disarray and would have to be organized, and Azzara could all but hope they had some structure among them. With archers bearing down, the best she could do was keep herself alive.

    "Get cover!" She ordered Tza as she wrenched her arm from the orc.

    As the archers prepared to fire, there would be no time to dodge. And so Azzara did the next questionable thing and hefted the corpse of the slaver she'd just killed in front of like as a shield. Two arrows impacted into the man's back with thuds while a third sliced her left side and impacted the corpse in the chest. With a grunt of pain Azzara dropped the man and tossed her sword towards Tza'Hal, opting to use the whip herself. Their window for a counter attack would be small, already their opponents were turning for another shot. And Azzara wouldn't be so lucky next time. "You take the one! I'll handle these two!"

    Azzara would be ready this time for the two horse archers as they came for their second pass. Once they were nearly within range to shoot, she let out a blast of light towards them. As she had expected, neither were prepared and she heard one arrow whistle past her head and another stick into the ground at her feet. Even while blinded their accuracy was frightening. But Azzara couldn't dwell on the fact and miss her opportunity to take down at least one of them. With a forward twist, she pivoted her body and wound up the whip, aiming to crack it at the face of the nearest archer as they rode past. She wouldn't have time to strike the second rider, but if Tza'Hal was successful in taking down her opponent, they'd be two on one. And she liked those chances.


    @Doctor Jax
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  18. Tza'Hal
    The battle-hardened orc grumbled under her breath as she realized they'd wasted too much time. There was no time to get to the fleeing horse. Instead, there were now Baladuri archers (and why did it have to be archers?) on top of them, a far less easy set of opponents as they could attack from a distance. However, it seemed that Azzara had the right idea, using the body of her victim as a shield from the arrows. Tza'Hal, slightly less scrupulous, turned her body so it was in profile towards the archers, thus a smaller target, and hid behind the rampaging waves of slaves. After all, they were not going to get very far as they were, and her tasks was far more important. She would mourn their sacrifice at a later date.

    However, it seemed she needn't do so. She was lucky enough to get hit with arrows, though she was shoved and tussled by quite a few slaves as they passed her and her crouched figure. Her eyes ever on Azzara, and the burden she carried, she was ready for the sword that was hefted her way. Their time was very short, and Tza'Hal knew that the longer they stayed, the more they ran the risk of being overrun by the slavers to be taken back themselves as trophies -- or worse off. She could think of a few things more unpleasant than forced servitude, and most of them had to do with heated pokers and fingernails.

    Tza'Hal was briefly blinded by Azzara's blast of light, and she twisted away from the flash. Suddenly, arrows were whistling past as horses neighed in fright. A stinging sensation filled Tza'Hal's left leg, and she hissed as she realized that an arrow had lodge its tip into the meat of her thigh, but no further -- a glancing blow, but one that would have been fatal a few fingerlengths to the left. Fear coursed into her veins like liquid lightning, and she had just enough sight left to see the rider that was trying to get a hold of his horse.

    In the confusion, she slashed at his leg, cutting it down to the bone, and the archer shouted in pain as he tried to wind around with his bow. Tza'Hal, betting on his reaction, brought the sword back up to slice at his hand, effectively de-stringing his hand and turning the archer into little more than a quiver.

    "We should get out of here. We'll be pincushions the longer we stand here," Tza'Hal said, blinking her eyes rapidly to clear the stars from her vision. "And warn me next time before you unleash the sun. I'm a mere mortal, no need to bake my eyes out of my head."

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  19. Memories
    Part I

    A collab between @Effervescent, @fyrelily, and @Red Thunder

    Trynten frowned. A...memory? And of equal importance to the information they sought. His brief interest in the decor and strange accoutrements of the room in which they now found themselves had been swiftly pushed aside by their hostess' odd request. The problem was, the woodsman didn't really know what information they needed. Hal had suggested that speaking to Theresia would be beneficial to their cause, so the man had come on that alone. It was, in retrospect, foolhardy to have parted ways from him with so little to go on. Perhaps his and Inara's journey was pointless.

    He glanced at her, characteristic uncertainty in his tired eyes. The she-elf would have her own thoughts on the matter. Perhaps she was awaiting his own action. Very well. But what, then, should he proffer as a memory to exchange for what they needed? It would need to be a memory of major import to himself. He had one, to be sure; it was more nightmare than memory, and even the thought of the thought of it caused a panic within his mind. So instead Tryn grasped hold of a different memory. It was full of sadness, to be sure, but it was also one of the last instances of joy he could remember ever feeling. So he'd held onto it, as tightly as a drowning man to a lifeline. From his seat upon the stool, he straightened up from his habitual slouch.

    "I shall go first. What-" He paused, uncertain. "How shall we go about this? Should I simply speak it?"

    An airy huff of a laugh escaped Theresia's lips as she smoothed and resituated the fabric of her skirts. "Oh, Hal," she said fondly, and then gently pat Trynten's knee. "He has a good mind for planning but he can be awful about giving details to others sometimes. I apologize for that. We will join hands and I will make you relive the memory."

    She turns her striking gaze over to the elf. "You must join too, lovely. Even if it's not your memory." Her smile brightens, and she extends her hands out to the two. "I have an inkling as to why Hal sent you here. So choose your memories well or we will be here all day!"

    Caught between Theresia's penetrating gaze and a whirlwind of memories, Inara took a seat in the plush chair that was offered and tried to stifle the sudden thrum of her heart. Mind ablaze with memories, both good and bad, Inara took a moment to steady herself. Her eyes drifted upwards and studied the glowing crystals that hung from the arched roof. A lovely sight for sure, but they did nothing to ebb her fear. She stole a glance at Trynten and wondered if he too was afraid. He didn't seem to be, so Inara followed suit, and focused on finding a memory worthy of saving the world. There were a handful that pulled at her heartstrings and threatened to betray her with tears, but only one stood out among them. She swallowed hard, found an ounce of courage and scooted the chair forward an inch.

    Inara wiped her sweaty palms against her supple leathers and hesitantly extended her arms.

    "Will it hurt?" Inara asked softly, "Reliving our memories I mean..."

    Theresia curled her fingers around each of their hands. "It will be like a dream," she explained. "Well, a rather vivid dream. You will think you can feel everything you felt as though you were reliving the memory exactly, but it is important to remember it is all just that: a memory. Whether or not it hurts? That's relative."

    Without allowing the final thought to process, her grip tightened around their hands instantly initiating the process. Darkness consumed the tiny spaces, and a gut wrenching pull sucked them downward into nothingness. It felt like free falling as their consciousnesses could no longer recollect each other in the void. They were slipping into Trynten's memory as it manifested before Inara and Theresia like watercolor to a canvas.

    It was at first a swirl of color: formless and patternless. Nothing seemed tangible, and save for the slowly coalescing environment the others found themselves in, all their senses were robbed. But as the world about them took form, those senses gradually returned; the smell of slowly simmering stew filled their nostrils, the soft warmth of a winter's-banishing hearth fire touched them, and excited conversation echoed off the wooden walls of the room in which they now found themselves. At last their vision cleared; the ladies were in a close dining hall of ample but old decor. A few quilts hung upon the wall, each hand stitched to commemorate some event in the house's familial history. The table, a long, narrow, well crafted thing of agéd oak, was covered in a feast: three roast chickens, bowls of roasted vegetables, and even boards of bread and cheese lay about an enormous pot of dark brown venison stew. Along each side, sitting in a row on benches, was what seemed to be a family. There were many children of all ages, each younger than the last, and interspersed throughout the adolescent crowd were what might have been tired but smiling parents. All were sharing the meal, speaking happily with one another over some common subject.

    A sun-darkened man seated near the head of the table stood, clay mug in hand, and even the toddlers went quiet. His sharp eyes of brown peered out from behind hanging strings of dark hair at each of those gathered. Suddenly he laughed, the sound off putting against the lines of care he wore around his eyes.

    "The Maker's blessing upon you, for coming here to celebrate! Neither I nor Amara expected some many of our brothers and sisters to come share in our joy! But you make it greater for your presence. For we are of course here to celebrate Trynten's return! Our son has returned to us!"

    The Lothorsen patriarch turned to the head of the table. There, seated upon a crudely carved chair in the place of honor, sat a young man looking distinctly uncomfortable. His clothes looked a touch too small for him, his hair was freshly cut, and his face was drawn and haggard. Eyes downcast, he stood to mumble thanks before sitting once more.

    Theresia roved through the scene displayed by Trynten's mind, her form unseen by those involved in the memory, even to its owner. She looked over at Inara as she walked over to young Trynten with a quiet strides. Her hands curled around the back of the boy's seat as he stood in thanks and sat back down.

    "Family gatherings," she said thoughtfully, her gaze peeling from the elf, who existed in her plane of consciousness, to those within the memory. Her posture slowly straightened with a thought as she looked between the gathered family and Trynten. Her eyes fell back upon Inara, now accompanied with a more serious tone as her smile vanished.

    "Do you understand the importance here?" she asked rhetorically. "Do you feel that strange, indiscernible feeling within you? We're connected. Those feelings are his, though we may never fully understand the sensations as they are completely and wholly his." Her fingers brushed the length of the chair's back as she walks over to the elf.

    "It's time to let go," she said to Trynten, though her eyes remained on Inara. Her voice softened. "Let us see what you value in your past."

    Without warning, Theresia thrust her hands outward and pushed Inara with what would feel line inhuman force. Once again the trio was thrust into darkness, falling through the void until Inara's memory began to manifest.
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  20. Memories
    Part II
    A collab between @Effervescent, @fyrelily, and @Red Thunder

    The void was darker than dark, blacker than black, and the darkness consumed her. It took a moment for Inara to remember why she was here, why her memory was so important... and then with a swirl of green and gold her memory blossomed into fruition.

    She was back in Emalnahar, in the woodlands surrounding her family home. It was mid-autumn and the leaves were a myriad of colors: greens and golds and harvest reds. All around trees bowed before the wind as a breeze riffled through the canopy above them, scattering new and fallen leaves. They danced underfoot the small figures running down the well-worn path, though the two never noticed. The earthy tang of the surrounding woods was as intoxicating as summerwine and the summer heat still clung in the air.

    Inara was running barefoot with scraped knees, her little legs moving as fast as they would allow. Her face was flushed and her chest heaved from the endeavor, but a giggle burst from her lips as she glanced over her shoulder. Zaharin, her older brother by two winters, chased after her. He wore a smile that rivaled her own.

    “I’m gunna get you Nara!” He called out with a laugh.

    “Not uh!” Inara shouted back with a giggle.

    Yet as the small trail closed in around her, she could hear Zahar getting closer. If she didn’t make it to the orange tree in time, he would win. Again. Inara veered off the path, leaped into the nearest tree and made her ascent. She was small and quick and the branches were just as comfortable to her as the ground beneath her feet. Climbing to the top most branches, Inara leaped over to the next tree, a big oak with sturdy limbs.

    “That’s not fair Inara.” Her brother said from somewhere down below. “This is a race, I never said it was a tree climbing race!”

    “Well you never said I couldn’t climb!” Inara said while reaching down to a lower branch, getting ready for another leap. “You’re just mad cause you know I climb better and faster than you!”

    “That’s not true.” Zaharin called back. “Just you wait and see.”

    He started climbing and Inara giggled triumphantly, she knew she had won the moment her brother started climbing up after her. He was a good climber, but she was better. Inara swung down to a sturdier limb and braced herself for another leap, and as she did, her brother cried out in alarm. She glanced down in time to see what was happening. Zahar had climbed onto a limb too small for his stature and as he reached to pull himself up, the branch broke beneath his feet. His eyes met hers and for the first time in her life, Inara saw her brother afraid.

    “Zahar!” Inara screamed out in fear.

    Her hands reached out despite knowing that she couldn’t reach him. He was already falling. Branches snapped and leaves fell, though everything happened so slowly that it seemed the world had been drenched in honey. Yet as he neared the ground, something strange happened. The vines that snaked up the bottom of the giant oak, reached out and plucked her brother right out of the air. He hung there, caught by his ankle, dangling less than three feet from the ground. Inara climbed down as quick as she could and gazed up in wonder.

    “How’d you do that Zahar?” She asked with wet eyes, her hands shaking wildly.

    “I didn’t,” Zahar said with wide eyes. “You must have done it Nara…”

    “M-me?” Inara gasped.

    She looked down at her tiny hands and remembered the tiny tug at her psyche when she saw Zahar falling and wondered if she had found her attunement.

    “Umm… Can you let me down now?”

    Yet, as soon as the words came out of his mouth the vines dropped him and Zahar landed face first in the swarthy dirt. Inara helped her brother up, wiped the dirt from his back and fussed over the few cuts and scrapes he had gathered on his way back to the earth.

    “Come,” She said fiercely, “Let’s go back home and have maman clean you up.”

    For once her brother didn’t argue and the two elven children made their way back to the path, leaning heavily upon each other, and headed home.

    Tryn watched the interplay between the two from his position at the base of the tree the young Inara climbed, hand against the tree in relaxed observation. He glanced toward Theresia uncertainly. It had been an odd feeling, pulled from his own memory as he was into someone else's, and he was still finding his internal bearing.

    This was a new experience for him, seeing someone discover their magical affinity. It looked natural, instinctual. As if she'd always known what to do, but only just discovered she could. Which was in actuality what had happened. As he watched the events unfold, Trynten felt a small pang of jealousy. The fright Inara and Zahar shared and survived would end up binding them together in a far stronger manner than any relationship he'd yet had, save perhaps for Azzara. The consideration only reenforced the sense of desperate loneliness and despair that his own memory had resurrected. That night had been consciously suppressed and forgotten, and bringing it up for a complete stranger in order to obtain help he knew they desperately needed for reasons he was absolutely unclear on had been exceedingly difficult. Finally, as Zahar and Inara walked away in such trust as only siblings can have, as the deep sadness grabbed his heart after long years of absence, Trynten looked to Theresia.

    "Well," he muttered without feeling, "now what?"

    Theresia's smile was apparent and warm as she watched the siblings walk off together. She leaned against the tree and savored the sensations she was experiencing vicariously through Inara's memory. But upon hearing Trynten's voice, she looked over at him. "Now we release," she said. "Don't fight the feeling. It will feel like you're slipping, and it can be quite alarming."

    She took in a breath, eyes closing, and then halted a moment before exhaling. Her expression faded from her content merriment to that of concern. Looking back at Trynten, her expression was in silent question. Something wasn't going according to plan. "Trynten," she said sternly. "Is that you?"

    Inara's memory faded like melting wax, the colors of autumn mixing together and dripping into the nothingness they fell into. There was a churning torrent through their souls, their consciousnesses locked in the abyss that made it feel as though there were ropes tugging at their bodies in every direction until eventually they found themselves back within Trynten's memory. Theresia looked over at Inara with concern.

    "When I wake us up," she commanded softly, "you must hold him down, do you understand? Do not run."
    Inara nodded her head, confused and afraid. The memory of Zahar had brought back feelings long gone and she felt half a child again. She dried her damp eyes and nodded her head more fiercely.

    "I will not run." Inara repeated back to Theresia. "I will hold him down."

    It seemed as though they'd lost no time at all, as if they'd arrived within his memory just as they'd left. The small crowd about the table was still cheering, clapping, and toasting the young Trynten's good health. His head was bowed, though whether in embarrassment or shame, it was difficult to tell, and his bushy bangs hid the top half of his face. Haggard cheeks bore an awkward smile, however, and he was murmuring repeated thank yous. From beside him, his father clapped him sturdily on the back.

    "Well, my boy!" The middle aged man threw his head back in a hearty guffaw, his laughter drowning out the raucous laughter of the others. "Now that things have finally back to normal around here, you must tell us: where have you been? Practically all of Malkath was out looking; hell, I went into the Twisted Woods themselves and never saw hide nor hair of you!"

    Quickly the chatter died down, each on the edge of their seat in anticipation. The boy's shoulders lifted hesitantly, eyes averted to his left away from his father.

    "I...I don't..."

    Weight shifting, he rocked back and forth. Clearly something was bothering him. Equally as clearly, he was hesitant to share it. From his left side, a woman of about the same age as Tryn's father extended a slender arm. Her hand rested on his shoulder gently, and she looked at his father, concern in his blue eyes.

    "Weythorn, maybe we should give him more time to recover. 'Ten needs rest." The Lothorsen patriarch looked like he might have retorted, but Trynten lifted his hand to that of the woman's. "It's okay, mama. I think..." His voice grew a bit stronger. "I think I can share."

    His mother retracted her hand, face still filled with the lifelong motherly worry her gray-streaked hair reflected, but she was clearly resigned to allow her son this. Weythorn sat down slowly, as if sensing from his son a sudden somber spirit, and those about the table fell into a deeper silence than before. From the table's head, Tryn stood slowly, hands clasped anxiously in front of him. Cutting through the stillness, the voice of an old woman murmured to a neighbor how shy and unlike himself the boy seemed, but he apparently either didn't hear her or ignored her. He cleared his throat.

    "I...I honestly don't recall much. I do remember, if vaguely, the day I- left." Eyes still downcast, he stood straight; the boy had very obviously inherited his father's height. The words he spoke were slow and halting, as though his throat was unexercised in their execution. "T-the market had been open that morning, and I'd gone t-to old...Pired's. The apothecary?" His weight shifted from one foot to the other. "A-anyway, Pired had needed more...something. For something else. I...I don't remember. I said I'd get it for him. It was supposed to be on the edge of the- the Tw-" A hand lifted to point in the approximate direction of the Twisted Woods. "...of that place. I went. But I... I don't remember anything after that."

    Despite the claim, his body tensed at some memory of some nightmare, and he took an involuntary step back. His mother was at his side instantly, wrapping her arms about him in a comforting embrace.

    "There there, my dear 'Ten," she whispered, moving back enough to see his face. One worn hand clasped his chin and raised it, and she looked into his eyes. "You're home now. And nothing will go wrong for you here."
    "Trynten," Theresia said commandingly as the scene continued to unfold. "Listen to my voice. Let go of this memory."

    Immediately, Trynten collapsed on the ground. He began screaming thrashing, as if his body were being wracked by unimaginable pain, and his arms wrapped around his middle. Weythorn leapt to his feet, sprinting to his wife's side as she knelt beside him, muttering No no no in helpless fear.

    She'd be lying if she said she wasn't curious. She wanted the memory, but not this way. This way meant he was in control of their consciousness, and he did, after all, possess the capabilities. Theresia walked up to the writhing boy sternly, her voice louder.

    #20 rissa, Oct 3, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2016
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