Those Below (fireJoan)

firejay1

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Fantasy, Modern, Historical Romance.
The world of Ceria, the setting of Those Below can be further explored in this Plotist, a collaboration between @Joan and @firejay1.

The port city of Leifred could always be accurately described with the word, "loud." Even at night, the whir and hum of hoverbike garages could be heard throughout the whole city. The huge ships at the dock creaked softly, straining against the ropes that kept them from floating away across the seas and buzzing with the lines of power drawn in their Crystal-Powered Navigation-Programmed Sails (aka Cryssails). Daytime brought greater horrors. People flooded in and out with the tide, bringing with them the horrid din of life. Passengers being sick overboard, people calling out to each other so as not to get lost, a couple of small slave auctions being held not far from the docks, and the merchants peddling their wares with enthusiasm. The hoverbike races conducted among the mechanics in the lower edge of the city trembled not only with the rumble of the engines, but with the shouts of the gamblers, cheering their favored racer, throwing out bets, or jeering at the losers. Leifred was alive and liked to make a point about it. It was also perpetually smelly, but this at least was perfectly constant. The city reeked of fecal matter and either rotting fish or Crystal lubricant depending on how far from the docks one was. While gambling on the hoverbike races tiptoed the line of legality, the city itself was also known for its crime rate, no surprise in a place where drifters were common and thievery unnoticed until the owner was already miles away.

For all its faults, however, the port city was good at what port cities were meant to do. It was a center of movement, leading people to the places they really wanted to go, and giving its few true residents a way of supporting their daily lives. Its ever-shifting mass of people also provided perfect cover for a safe meeting, or for passing on a message to someone you'd been searching for, as the seer was here to do today. She was here. He could feel it. The time was right, even if that meant his was almost up.

His eyes were closed, and a rough wooden staff tapped against the ground, but despite this, he navigated the thick crowds skillfully, using something other than his sight. He reached out his hand….

The woman he grabbed feels a hand on her shoulder and sees a man. Although he does not look terribly old, his hands are gnarled and frame frail, skin weather-worn and dry. His cloak is poor and rough, but from beneath it she sees robes of flowing silk, thin strips of pale blue thread making strange, but elegant patterns across the white cloth. A locket hangs around his neck, the pendant large and distinctive. The symbol emblazoned in the metal is simple: a crystal divided into four smaller crystals of identical shape and size, black lines swirling around this form in an elaborate, almost smoky manner. But most strikingly, his eyes are white and sightless, yet seem to glow with power. Although most would shrink away from such a man grabbing them, she is held captive as he rasps a message at her.

"Child of two races, unite them again at last.
Together alone may we stand strong.
Too, also, will you need the strength once shunned.
And permit the signs to lead you where they be.

"Within your doubt shall I give you clarity.

"The poison that has begun will make itself known in the tremble of the earth.
For the darkest of the world must be born in the darkest of places.

"The first of yours will reveal itself away from which she runs.
And she will know better the power in her blood than you know yours.

"Follow, then, your will to what has been abandoned.
And there lose it to regain what has been forgotten.

"Darkness will be met with not courage but fear.
And far will the lofty fall.

"In the Field of Dragons you shall find the friend that is sincere in word.
And they shall lead the way through the fire.

"But the single-horned will fall by the hand of the one who wishes most to save.
'less you watch with wary eyes for those of good intentions.

"The number that wander in search of great evil shall be unmatched by the number that escape it.
And they will find it at the Edge of the World, hiding in the Broken Mother's bosom.

"Take not the narrow roads,
For only eyes that have seen all of the world can also save all of it.
Waver not from the roads you have chosen.
For the paths not traveled will lead only to ruin.

"A heart for a heart so it was told,
Thus does the corruptor of all hearts seek the incorruptible heart.
But take heart, Torn Child,
Only those that take their hearts may also keep them.

"What I have spoken of is but a glimmer of the trials that will unfold.
In the end you will fight within, what is born of Those Below."


As he gasped out his last words, the blind seer, Sacred One of the Allies of the Crystal, for that was who he was, fell forward against the red-haired woman and coughed. His frail frame shuddered once and fell still, leaving the large pendant dangling in her lap. As he died, a hiss seemed to run through the crowd, whispers that came from no one. A black mist seeped forward slowly, probing, searching for something. A man close to them turned to look, his eyes suddenly completely black, skin gaining an ashy pallor. The ground shook. Earthquakes were not common in this area and at first this was met with confusion, but it turned to panic as the quaking grew stronger. "The tremble of the earth…" The whisper hung in the air.
 
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Joan

"You'll never be alone."
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Posting Speed
  1. 1-3 posts per week
  2. One post per week
  3. Slow As Molasses
Online Availability
Anytime I have internet access, honestly.
Writing Levels
  1. Adept
  2. Advanced
  3. Adaptable
Preferred Character Gender
  1. Male
  2. Female
  3. No Preferences
Genres
Science fiction
Modern
Fantasy
Horror
Survival
Naturally developed romance
OC Fandom (ask about my fandoms!)
Mirria navigated the crowd skillfully, weaving around people and seeing paths where others would see only walls. It helped, of course, that she was armed. Her trusty magitech sword was half-concealed under her cloak, but still visible to those nearest to her, while her bow and arrows were slung over her back in plain sight. Leifred had never been a place where one had to hide their weapons, and she was grateful for it. Less work for her.

Speaking of work, she had finally found some. Granted, it had only taken the whole day, and it could be worse. One time, she had been stuck in the city for a whole week before finding somebody who would pay her. However, she usually found work within the first few hours, so it could have been much better as well.

Just be glad you don't have to find an inn, Mirria. Always gotta watch your back in those, especially here.

She was going over the details of the job in her mind--it was a simple escort mission, just make her way to the eastern gate and accompany the cart she would find there--when something gripped her shoulder. Normally, she would have immediately drawn her sword, but something held her in place. Slowly, she turned her head to the side, almost as if compelled to do so, and saw the man. He was tall, dark-skinned, looked to be in about his prime if not for the various signs of overwork. She noted his clothes and pendant before her gaze was drawn up to his eyes. They glowed, shining with a light that looked very similar to crystal energy.

Normally, she would have expected somebody holding her in place to threaten her or just attack her. However, he caught her by surprise with his words. Her eyes stayed locked with his as he spoke--in fact, she was completely unable to look away until he had finished. Though the words were strange, something in her knew she would be unable to forget them. Though...

Child of two races? The hell does he mean? I'm human...aren't I?

Despite the length of the prophecy, it all seemed to flash by in a moment, and suddenly, he had released her and fallen forward against her. Instinctively, she grabbed onto him to steady him, but even as she moved, he stilled. As she stared down as him in shock, she felt eyes on her back. Slowly raising her head, she noted the dark-eyed man and his intent stare in her direction.

Shit. She spared the seer one last glance before lifting him to the side of the road and lowering him down against a building. She straightened again, hesitated, and gently lifted the locket from around his neck and shoved it beneath her cloak. She glanced about, saw the dark-eyed man moving slowly towards her through the panicking crowd, and took off running for an alleyway. She knew this city well enough. Hopefully, she could outrun this guy long enough to figure out what the hell she had just seen and heard.
 

firejay1

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Genres
Fantasy, Modern, Historical Romance.
The shaking ground grew stronger and it seemed to follow the man as he plunged through the crowd clumsily, moving somehow as if he was being controlled by something else. The man collapsed to the ground as someone tripped him over on accident, and a woman who was clutching a post screaming suddenly went still. Her eyes grew black and she went for the alleyway just as clumsily as the previous man. It didn't take long for the woman to lose Mirria, though. A gargled sound of frustration left her as Mirria disappeared from view, and at the same time black smoke came billowing out of her nose and mouth.

The smoke or mist or whatever it was went curling through the streets faster than ever, spreading wide and thin through the anxious crowd, pausing here and there by especially distressed people. Unable to find Mirria, however, it zipped all the way back to a woman. The woman was wearing a white tunic of some sort and had white hair. Out of everyone, she seemed utterly undisturbed by the earthquake, and it lessened and subsided as the shadows all returned to her. She was crouching in front of the seer, expression cold and displeased. Could not be found... The child. Escaped. The whispers swirled around her along with the smoke, spoken by no one, and yet clearly there.

"And he has completed his message. The Allies are moving." The woman's voice was even colder than her expression. "Stick with me, my children." She said, before closing her eyes and muttering to herself. "Mother be with us." The shadows draped themselves over her shoulders and joined in with the whispers. Mother be with us. Mother be with us. Mother be with us. A hint of laughter wound its way around the words. Mother be with us.

People all over the city began blinking, their vision darkening, finding their heads turning to look all around against their will, just for the briefest of moments. The possessions lasted only for a moment, until a woman opened her eyes and spotted the red-haired target. "There." The white-haired woman hissed. She flung her hand forward and the cloud that had gathered around her shoulders sprang from her fingertips, disappearing into the shadows and appearing in the shadows closest to the woman who had found Mirria. Half split apart to swirl around Mirria in a confusing fashion, the other possessed a burly man with a sword strapped across his back. The man was an escaped convict - had murdered a family of 8 in cold blood, including the children and frail grandmother. There was enough darkness in his heart. More than enough. The man turned towards Mirria, raising his sword.

"COMING THROUGH." Roared a woman's voice.

Before anyone could react to it, a hoverbike, glowing with blue crystal, came flying off the closest roof and slammed into the back of the assailing man. The driver swore violently, not noticing the shadows springing up from the ground with angry whispers. Said driver was a short woman with brown hair tied up in a ponytail, dressed in a leather jacket and gloves, goggles hanging around her neck as if she'd been too busy to place them properly on her face. She squinted down at the man below her, the blow of her vehicle softened by the mechanism that prevented her from completely touching the ground. "Is he dead?"

She swished around to look behind her and saw men pouring from a side alley. One of their vehicles was smoking. Grabbing a wrench from her boot, she flung it point-black into a second vehicle, the wrench swinging into the crystal absorber mechanism. "SEE HOW YA LIKE THAT, BOYS." She laughed defiantly. "Good luck trying to stop me! There's a reason I win and you know it!" She barely noticed Mirria to her left, but as she turned away to kick her hoverbike back into gear, the armband on her left arm flashed brightly. It was made completely of gold except for the four crystal embedded in it - forming the exact same design as that emblazoned on the seer's pendant.
 
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Joan

"You'll never be alone."
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  1. 1-3 posts per week
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  3. Adaptable
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Genres
Science fiction
Modern
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Survival
Naturally developed romance
OC Fandom (ask about my fandoms!)
Mirria ducked out of the alleyway and wove her way through the crowd as only one with plenty of experience could. As before, her sword was just conspicuous enough to cause people to avoid her, thought the crowd closed quickly behind her. She moved with purpose despite the shaking ground, something the panicking people associated with danger in a situation like this, and that kept anybody from standing in her way too long. As she wove her way through, she kept glancing behind her, searching for the dark-eyed man. He appeared to be gone, but she didn't want to take any chances, so she kept moving and glancing over her shoulder.

I have to get out of here. Out of this city.

What she had seen...nobody should look like that, their eyes completely consumed by darkness and their skin tainted with the hue of death. It was wrong. At least the seer's glow had looked like crystal magic, something she was moderately familiar with. But the dark-eyed man...she had never seen anything like him, not in her many years of travel, and it terrified her.

She was nearing the docks and beginning to think she had truly lost the man when a screaming woman with long brown hair suddenly stopped in her tracks, grew silent, and turned to look at her. The woman's eyes were completely black, just for the briefest of moments, and Mirria froze in fear, not even able to take a step back.

That brief moment of terror nearly cost Mirria her life.

The shadows near the woman seemed to suddenly come to life, bursting forward and splitting in two. She suddenly found herself surrounded by swirling shadows, and she drew her sword on instinct, swiping at the shadows in the same swift moment. The shadows parted for but a moment, and through them, she could see the man turning to face her and drawing his own sword. His eyes were dark, his skin grew grey, he had the bearing of an experienced killer, and he was moving straight for her. The shadows tugged at her clothing as Mirria rose her sword to defend herself, and she realized with a chill she knew nothing at all about what she was up against. She had little doubt in her mind that she was about to die.

Then a woman's voice called out, and suddenly the man was gone, knocked to the ground by a flying hoverbike. Mirria dove reflexively to the side, away from the clinging shadows, and rolled on her shoulder, rising to her feet with her sword in front of her. Free from the shadows for a moment, she was able to see the young woman with brown hair pulled back, dressed like a racer, as she took down another vehicle with a simple wrench. Whether the woman knew it or not, she had saved Mirria's life, and for a moment, terror was replaced by gratitude.

Terror returned as Mirria saw the shadows stirring. She tensed, ready to run for it, but as she turned, her eyes caught the armband, and she found herself freezing in place again. The seer's words echoed in her mind, and she could feel the pendant's weight under her cloak.

“The first of yours will reveal itself away from which she runs.
And she will know better the power in her blood than you know yours.”


Away from which she runs...

Without thinking about what she was doing, Mirria reached out and grabbed onto the other woman's arm with her right hand, her left tightly gripping her sword hilt. "Please, we don't have much time. I need a ride, and I was told I could trust you." She didn't dare loosen her grip on either the brunette's arm or her sword long enough to pull the pendant out for proof. She would just have to hope the desperate look on her face and the shadows rising to attack would be enough.
 
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firejay1

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  5. One post per week
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My times are pretty erratic, but I try to avoid being on EST 11pm-9am.
Writing Levels
  1. Intermediate
  2. Adept
  3. Advanced
  4. Adaptable
Preferred Character Gender
  1. Male
  2. Female
Genres
Fantasy, Modern, Historical Romance.
Sir had just been about to rev the hoverbike up, when she felt a hand on latch on to her arm. She turned in annoyance to tell the grabber off, but saw that the woman had a hand to a sword latched onto her belt. "Woah!" She yelled, startling and trying to extricate her arm, but the woman's grip was pretty tight, and she was afraid that a more severe reaction would cause that sword to come out to play. "Please, we don't have much time. I need a ride, and I was told I could trust you." The madwoman told her desperately. None of which made any sense to Sir. Time for what? A ride where? Who told this redhead she could be trusted? Why did she need to be trusted? "Hey!" She grumbled. "Let go. What do you-"

Before she could kick the other lady off, two things happened at once. The heavy-set man below her stirred and got her attention. If he used his bulk to throw the hoverbike off him, he could potentially damage her prized vehicle. "Oh shit." She said, right as the people chasing her threw a knife at her, causing her to duck with a yelp. They were getting pretty dang close. "YOU AIM LIKE MY GRANDMOTHER." She yelled back, before turning to look at the redhead again. She didn't look about to let go any time soon, and Sir didn't really have any time to argue the case. "Alright, lady, get on, and do it quick." She practically dragged the mercenary onto her bike before revving it into gear and driving off, full speed, right over the body of the bulky man who had been below her. The shadows that had been floating about flew out of the way, clearly displeased by this new little nuisance. Rather than bothering to follow the two of them, the shadows hurried back to their master, ripe with the news of the two women meeting. Two people with symbols of the Allies of the Crystal. She would not be pleased.

Sir glanced back a couple times, which was probably not a good idea with the speed at which she was zipping between houses, and the two of them came perilously close to crashing into the wooden walls of a few houses. Several people had to dive out of the way as she passed, and even more had to high-tail it when the others chased her down the streets. They were falling behind for sure, though. Leaning down, she kissed the crystal set into the dash of the bike, blowing on it lightly. It responded by glowing a little brighter and the bike seemed to speed up a bit. Hey, there was a trick to handling crystals. She wasn't ashamed of knowing how to deal with crystals better than she knew how to deal with people.

Still hurtling down the street fast enough to kill a person... or five, Sir turned around and hollered at the top of her lungs to be heard against the screaming of the wind. "HEY SO. I'M HEADING TO THE DOCKS. WHERE DO YOU NEED TO BE DROPPED OFF OR WHATEVER? I GOTTA GET THE HELL OUT OF DODGE." Heaven knew if the psycholady heard her. Worst come to worse, she would have to just physically dump the lady off.
 
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Joan

"You'll never be alone."
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Posting Speed
  1. 1-3 posts per week
  2. One post per week
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Anytime I have internet access, honestly.
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  1. Adept
  2. Advanced
  3. Adaptable
Preferred Character Gender
  1. Male
  2. Female
  3. No Preferences
Genres
Science fiction
Modern
Fantasy
Horror
Survival
Naturally developed romance
OC Fandom (ask about my fandoms!)
The racer seemed confused, and for a moment, Mirria was worried that the racer would shake her off and leave without her. Desperate and unsure what to do, she tightened her grip, not willing to be left behind. If it came down to it, she would drop the sword and pull out the pendant, or grab with both hands. But if she stayed here, she was probably dead.

Suddenly, the man stirred again, and a knife came sailing through the air. Mirria flinched away as the knife sailed over the racer's head. That seemed to do it. The racer told her to get on, quickly, and she pulled herself up, nodding gratefully. "Thank you," she managed to get out before the bike took off.

Mirria kept glancing over her shoulder, remembering how the shadows had come out of nowhere. They didn't appear to be being followed, and the people around seemed normal enough. She barely even paid attention to the racer's pursuers, other than to verify that they looked normal. When she saw no signs of supernatural pursuit, she sighed gratefully, thankful for the hoverbike's speed.

The racer yelled over her shoulder at Mirria, asking where she needed to be dropped off. She glanced over her shoulder one last time before shouting back over the rushing wind and quaking of the ground. "THAT MAKES TWO OF US!" She considered for a moment--where did she want to go? Out of the city, for certain. The job she had picked up less than an hour ago (though it felt like far, far longer) was no longer an option. The eastern gate was a ways across the city, back through the people and shadows, and it would be very much out of the racer's way. That, and she got the feeling they would need to stick together.

She made a decision. "DOCKS FOR ME AS WELL! I THINK WE NEED TO STICK TOGETHER FOR NOW! I'LL EXPLAIN FURTHER WHEN WE'RE SAFE, BUT THAT ARMBAND YOU'VE GOT? SOMEBODY GAVE ME A PENDANT WITH THE SAME SYMBOL, RIGHT BEFORE THIS EARTHQUAKE STARTED!" Hopefully, the brief explanation would suffice to keep the racer's interest.
 
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firejay1

The Phoenix
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  1. Look for groups
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Posting Speed
  1. Multiple posts per day
  2. 1-3 posts per day
  3. One post per day
  4. 1-3 posts per week
  5. One post per week
  6. Slow As Molasses
Online Availability
My times are pretty erratic, but I try to avoid being on EST 11pm-9am.
Writing Levels
  1. Intermediate
  2. Adept
  3. Advanced
  4. Adaptable
Preferred Character Gender
  1. Male
  2. Female
Genres
Fantasy, Modern, Historical Romance.
Sir looked back at the woman for a moment too long, almost sending them careening into a fruit stand. "YEAH, SHUT UP, OLD MAN." She yelled back at him as he hurtled expletives at her. Not that she could hear what he was saying over the roar of the wind, especially since they had been whisked away by the bike's sheer speed. Then, she focused back in on the strange lady hanging on to her. Her first impulse had been to tell her to "piss off, creeper," since it was odd to her that the woman wanted to stick with her, possibly follow her, but the armband....

Sir glanced down protectively at her armband. She didn't know whether the other woman was telling the truth, it was quite possible she was just stringing her along for what seemed like a wealthy target. Well, she wasn't going to be taken in by any thief. Her jaw clenched, and for a moment she considered simply bucking the lady off her bike, but her father had told her that that armband was the one memento of a former life of wealth her mother had kept. She had meant to give it to Sir when she was old enough, but had died before she could explain just why it was so important. If this woman could tell her anything about her mother's past....

She sighed roughly and finally said, "FINE, BUT YOUR EXPLANATION BETTER BE GOOD." They couldn't hold a conversation like this anyways. She set her goggles over her eyes and gave the hoverbike an extra rev, sending the vehicle even faster than it had been going before. Her newly acquired limpet had better hold on well.

She drove the bike all the way to the docks, zipping in a practiced fashion through the crowds to a single target: an old-looking ship moored in the harbor with the words "the Crystal Mistress" in faded black paint on the side. The deck of the ship hardly looked stable, splinters sticking out of the mast, a broken barrel leaking some suspicious liquid in the corner, a crash hole revealing the lower deck. Had the bike not hovered slightly above the ground, Sir's reckless driving straight up the plank and onto the ship would have most likely sent them crashing down to the level below. That didn't matter to Sir, though. There were only three things that mattered: they kept the bottom nicely tarred up at all times so that the ship wasn't about to sink anytime soon, the Cryssails were heavily modified to make the vessel exceptionally fast for its kind, and the ship's captain and cabin boy would give her somewhat illegal passage without any questions or paperwork, so long as she paid them right and gave their sails a check up.

"How many times have I told you not to drive onto the ship directly, Sir?" Hissed the captain, an old man with several teeth missing and an eye patch that was probably an expensive Crystal gadget and otherwise just for show (it kept changing eyes, so she knew both of his beady blue ones worked just fine). He ushered the two of them with her bike hastily belowdeck where Travelly, a squirrelly little boy with dark hair and skin, held out his hand expectantly for her payment, grinning in a way that let her know exactly how much they were overcharging her. She was one of their few passengers, another perk of traveling with them. "And here. Who's this?" The captain asked, scowling at Mirria. She didn't look like their sort, after all.

Sir paid and opened her mouth to answer, then realized, well... "Ah... I'm actually not sure. Who are you?" She turned to look at the woman so that all three of them were staring the stranger down.
 
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