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  #126  
Unread 15th of March, 2013, 18:56
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At the sight of the desk Ellana smiled to herself. It might not be a way out, but the book represented something even better: knowledge. With luck it would be a journal or memoir, something that would tell her about this place, or about a way out. It might even be a book of spells or a magical artifact of some sort. She looked around and her shoulders sagged a little; she wasn't sure what the book was, but she wished either Selen or Mira was here to discover it with her. Pella was still around, but the spirit wasn't on quite the same level as her other friends. She hoped Selen wasn't too worried. She hoped Mira was safe. She hoped Indigo would be okay. She-

She cleared her head and straightened her shoulders. Ellana wouldn't help anyone stuck here underground, and her only lead out was the desk and book in front of her. That meant getting to it and she'd read enough stories to know that walking right in would be a terrible idea. Looking at the runes surrounding the desk she furrowed her brow and crossed her arms. They meant something, clearly. They seemed to almost be a version of Old Realm, but the meaning seemed to slip from her mind as she tried to decipher them, like half remembered nightmare.

After a few moments Ellana harumphed in annoyance and slumped her shoulders again, she'd have to study some more before she properly read the runes. She GUESSED they were a ward of some sort but the exact nature eluded her. Instead she focused her energies on the the spell they were creating. This was much easier, the runes may have been an off dialect, but the ward they created was a basic repellent barrier. The fact that both the book and the desk were free of dust made that obvious. A simple charge of essence at the opposing frequency would shut it down, and essence was something she recently learned she had an abundance of, she just had to figure out how to channel it properly.

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  #127  
Unread 19th of March, 2013, 15:16
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Ellana peered at the runes etched into the ground around the desk. With no visible aura being created by them, and unable to understand the specifics of their terminology, the young Twilight was unsure of what would happen if she attempted to cross them. Perhaps they were simply a barrier and would repel her, or perhaps some sort of enchantment would befuddle her somehow. Perhaps they would simply seek to kill her. Nor did the girl know if they were a one use effect, or self-renewing enchantments.

Still, the fact that she knew it was there and did something to prevent intrusion was enough for Ellana to get started. Slowly walking around the edge of the ring, Ellana began to scrutinize each symbol, looking for a weak spot or perhaps a magical keylock built into the ring. Simply flooding the entire network of runes with an overload of essence was--probably--possible, though the outcome was debatable and most likely dangerous.

Eventually she finds a rune that seems to function as the lynchpin of the whole set-up. Carefully studying it for another moment, she thinks that, if she can be quick and careful enough, she can disrupt it enough to cancel whatever effects the runes were doing.



************************************

16th of Descending Fire, afternoon

It had been a long four days of travel atop horseback, but at long last Herald was where he had been told to go. Well, almost where he had been told to go. Golden Plains was actually still a good half hour walk or so further, if the boys eye upon spotting the town on the horizon had been correct, but this was where Wind had dropped him off before galloping away.

Readjusting his equipment after getting his bearings for a second, Herald set off towards the town. He paused for a moment upon seeing billowing black smoke rising up into the air, but took comfort in the fact that it wasn't the town proper and set off again. As he got closer however something bout the smoke seemed...off. It wasn't enough for more than a bonfire really and yet it was a thick and heavy smoke more like that of a great inferno. As he crested a small rise he noticed five horses nearby, their riders armored and bearing large lances as they looked on towards where the fire was raging over another gentle slope. Even from this distance, Herald's newly empowered senses could still pick out a bit of conversation from the figures below.

"...said to stay here."
"But wha....eds help?"
"She's got...."


"Hey!," suddenly a female voice rises up above the others and one of the riders points their lance towards Herald and begins galloping towards him. "You there, hold it!" After only a few seconds Herald can see that it's a woman clad in lamellar armor, a sword sheathed at her hip and an angry expression on her face. Pulling up near him she holds her lance tightly but hasn't pointed it at Herald...yet. The other riders begin to arrive as the woman speaks to Herald. "Alright stranger, what brings you here? You reinforcements or something?"
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  #128  
Unread 19th of March, 2013, 15:32
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The young Dawn was slightly taken aback by the presence of the lancers. He wasn't concerned for his safety - at least for the immediate moment - though he knew he'd have trouble escaping them if relations took a sudden turn for the worst. Unsure of how to handle things beyond what seemed obvious, he stood his ground, his arms at his sides in wide, non-threatening stance.

"Reinforcements for what?" Herald curiously eyed the woman and the other lancers, making eye contact with each one. Conjuring the best smile he could manage, he attempted to diffuse the situation by answering the angry woman by avoiding hiding his intentions. "I'm headed to Golden Plains for a bed and a good meal, and - if I'm lucky - an audience with the Lady of the manor. Who might you be?" Looking beyond the riders towards the fire, his expression grows concerned. "What's happening over there?"

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  #129  
Unread 2nd of April, 2013, 20:23
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At the sight of lynch pin rune Ellana smirked, these types of wards always had a weak point, the trick was finding them. Fortunately, whoever built this ward had left the lynch pin rune out in the open. She'd have to remember this set-up, and avoid it in the future. Now, how to disarm the rune?

Ellana was pretty sure she could simply overpower the rune with her essence, but she wasn't quite sure about any after effects. Like opening a locked cabinet with a battle-ax, flooding the runes with her essence would open the lock, but it might risk the contents inside.

But power didn't have to be used for brute force, Selen had taught her that ages ago. Of course, now her power was much more literal, but Selen's lesson still held truth. Closing her eyes, she concentrated on funneling her essence into her mind, she wasn't sure how or why it worked, but it did. The glyphs made sense to her in a way that never did before, she could see how easy it was to turn off the barrier, like turning a key to unlock a door. Moments later the book was in her hands and she began reading.

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  #130  
Unread 14th of April, 2013, 10:02
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As Ellana wrapped her fingers around the book, she half expected some mystical trap to activate and punish her for so greedily grasping onto the leather bound tome. Forturnately, no such event took place, but there was still a surprise when she hefted it off the writing desk. While it was only as wide as her own face, barely longer, and it's thickness suggested only a few dozen pages, it's heft was more suited to a vast tome of knowledge.

Cracking open the leather-bound cover she was surprised at the lack of dust and the telltale sound of creaking leather, as if the book was only a well worn storybook. Written upon that first page was neither title nor description, information nor anecdotes, prose nor poem. Instead unintelligible symbols adorned the entire page, following neither well ordered lines or even a discernible pattern that could be followed.

"It's not in Old Realm" Pella speaks up after several moments of silence. "It doesn't look like anything I've ever seen before. Maybe it's code?"



************************************

The woman glances at her companions, whom Herald notices are all female as well, before turning back to the boy with a look of worried confusion. "Well if that's true you've picked a bad time to show up stranger. There's a Dragon-Blood over that hill doing who-knows-what. Lady Vilirith went over with the Arrows but--"

"Blossom!" A shout came from towards the hill and a man with a bow in his hands let loose an arrow back towards the black smoke. "Sakura says gets your gals over here and help!" The woman's face turns to one of shock as she hears this man's words. "But we got told--" "There ain't no time! That damn Dragon grabbed the Lady! She's gonna burn her alive if we don't DO something now!"

There was no hesitation upon hearing those words. Without even a glance towards Herald the 5 women instantly bring their horses about and begin galloping towards the hill, their weapons at the ready and the dust of their passage billowing around Herald for an instant before being carried off in the breeze.

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  #131  
Unread 15th of April, 2013, 17:56
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Dragon?!

Herald stood confused in the dust-strewn wake of the galloping riders, attempting to put two and two together.

Wait... Dragon-Blood? Aren't they supposed to be heroes? And she's grabbed the Lady of the Manor, who's in trouble?

Suddenly, it clicked. This was Herald's moment to shine - his moment to prove all those stories about Anathema as soulless monsters who eat children and raze villages false. Without a moment to spare, he took off in pursuit of the riders in a full sprint, bounding across the grasslands and over the hill.

Cresting the hill, Herald paused to catch his breath, catching the scene below in full view as a bead of sweat rolled down his brow. The Lady of the Manor Eye of the Herd spoke of was a veritable damsel in distress. Gripped tightly by the flame-wreathed Dragon-Blood, the Lady seemed helpless. Herald was taken aback. The Lady was supposed to be an Anathema, but the Dragon-Blood had her beat. None of the people around seemed to be doing anything. Were they all that helpless?

Regardless, Herald wasn't about to stand around watching with them. His hands flashing across his shoulders, the young Dawn drew Morninglight as he conveniently forgot the advice Eye gave him on subtlety. Subtlety be damned. The ancient blade's Orichalcum edge glistened in the afternoon sun, and the edge of its hilt-wrapping fluttered in the gentle breeze.

Letting loose a warcry, Herald took off in a full sprint to save his damsel. As he bounded down the hill, he began to take on a glorious and fearsome visage. With each bound he became more ferocious, growing two heads taller, a grasp that could tear iron-wrought bars, and a burning gaze beset with eyes wreathed in white-hot flames. His slightly-deepened voice booming, Herald called out his enemy.

"Dragon-Blood! I won't let you kill her!"



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  #132  
Unread 19th of April, 2013, 14:40
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Ellana leafed through the book, Pella was right, the writing looked like some sort of code, though still based in Old Realm. She was sure she could figure it out, given enough time. She glanced back at the darkness, Indigo was still injured and Lady Vilirith was still under attack by the Realm. Ellana looked back at the book. It might help, but not in time.

"Come on," Ellana told Pella as she pocketed the book, "We can decipher it later. Right now we need to find a way back above ground." Using her aura as a light source she began exploring the cave again.

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  #133  
Unread 8th of May, 2013, 16:11
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Moving away from the desk, Ellana continued her search of the cavern. After a few minutes however she found herself back near Indigo, the woman's body still rising and falling slightly as she lay unconscious. More important than that however was the strange symbols that appeared on the ground near where she lay.

Moving over to look at them, Ellana could not even begin to guess what they represented. They were in no language she recognized, if indeed they even were a language. Still they glowed faintly with Essence, not seeming to have any sort of physical component in the ground itself.

Ellana was certain that they had not been there when she started looking.

************************************

Tick 0

Arrows ping off of the Dragon-bloods armor as Silver Wind's archers try to distract her in some fashion, but the fire is sporadic at best, none of her people wanting to risk shooting their Lady by accident. As Silver Wind tries to gasp for breath through the flames and the constriction on her throat the Fire aspect only squeezes the unknown Solar harder. She whispers into Silver Winds ear, a sneering tone that pierces the crackling of the flames around her.

"You see what it means to be a Prince of the Earth farmer? All you and your mortal ilk have done is inconvenience me. We rule Creation, thanks to the Dragon's bless--"

"Dragon-Blood! I won't let you kill her!"

Feeling the woman glance at the voice interrupting her monologue, Silver Wind hears a gasp from the Dragon-blood.

Tick 3

Running down the hill for all he was worth, Herald was nearly on the Dragon-blooded before she even had a chance to look at him. The look of shock on her face however, was plain to see even from the 30 or so feet he was at, her eyes widening with shock and maybe, perhaps, a little bit of fear to see this boy who exuded terror and wielded a weapon of the Anathema in his hand.

Maybe that's why she seemed frozen in place.



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  #134  
Unread 8th of May, 2013, 17:33
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Herald watched as the Dragon-Blooded squeezed the life out of his maiden and meal ticket once more. With boiling blood, he continued his dead sprint towards her, a sonorous thump echoing with each footstep as the Essence pressure of his anima splintered the ground around his boots. Through gritted teeth, he unleashed a guttural battle-cry - or as much of one a fourteen year-old could muster. Though at first his arm wobbled slightly as he thrust his blade forward, he allowed the flows of Essence to surge forward with it. Immediately his arm steadied, encased a bubble of invisible Solar power that urged Morninglight onwards, ever seeking the dragon's heart.

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  #135  
Unread 15th of May, 2013, 04:54
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Morninglight sung forth like a scalpel, seeking to cut the tumorous growth of the Realm one Dragon at a time, beginning with this one. While her thick armor of Jade saved the blow from being a fatal one, Herald could feel his weapon cut deep into her torso. Slicing flesh and bone as it slipped in between the gap between breastplate and arm, the woman howled in pain as blood spurted from her side. Using his momentum to quickly escape the wrath of her banner, Herald continue to put distance between them before skidding to a halt and twisting around to face his opponent again.

Tick 6

Hissing at the pain, the Dragon-blooded released Silver Wind only to shove her harshly and send her sprawling to the ground. With their Lady safe the archers began to open up again but the Fire aspect ignored them as they shattered harmlessly against her armor. Clutching her bleeding side for a second, she quickly assumed a defensive stance and focused on the young boy who had so grievously injured her.

"What in the Dragon's names are you," she spat out along with some blood, glaring with injured pride and renewed anger at Herald.


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  #136  
Unread 20th of May, 2013, 16:05
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Ellana frowned at the runes. Indigo was a sorceress, so these might be some kind of contingency plan in case she was incapacitated...might be. Though even if they were, there was no telling what Indigo had planned. If that's even what these runes were, without knowing the language of the runes she couldn't tell. For all she knew they could be a defensive mechanism of the ruins. "Pella? Do you recognize these runes?" Ellana edged closer to the runes, carefully, and tired to find any hints as to what their intent.

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Unread 30th of May, 2013, 04:09
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When Herald's blade sank into the Dragon-Blooded with a sickening shkt, the sound echoed forth in his mind. As he twisted about in the midst of his landing, dust swirled conveniently to mask the look of shock that momentarily overcame him.

Blood. I hurt someone. How could I... Am I really a hero? Killing... is it right?

Without warning, the doubt was suddenly replaced. A thousand picture-less memories flashed before his mind's eye, illustrating scenes of shared experiences between his kind and that of his enemy. Strife, triumph, despair, sacrifice, honor - all echoed in a past unseen, unknown, and impossible, culminating with the bitterness of ultimate betrayal. He felt a presence deep within, majestic and true, and the haze of memory faded into clarity of focus.

"I am that which you once betrayed," he spoke with a deepened voice that felt storied with a past impossible for a child. Standing tall as the dust settled around him with his sword at his side, the young Dawn continued. "I'm the hero you could never be. I'm your worst nightmare, and I'll be the end of you. Face me, Dragon-Blood."

Herald charged the Dragon-Blood, drawing Morninglight across the earth in his path and upwards as his footsteps plodded in the dry ground. A dust cloud followed as the ancient blade's edge scattered the dirt, quickly filling the space surrounding Herald with an obscuring, choking haze. In the blink of an eye, Herald leaped from the dust cloud, Morninglight singing as it thrust forward towards the heart of the Dragon once more.


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  #138  
Unread 5th of June, 2013, 14:00
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Ellana peered at the runes as they glowed softly on the ground. It was a trio of distinctly separate shapes, each overlayed one atop the other. Each rune had these shapes in a different order, the order seeming to shift one layer between each set. They did not move or indeed show any sort of mystical might other than their glow, but Ellana was sure they were important.

Suddenly Ellana remembered seeing runes similar, if not exactly like, these runes. She remembered reaching out to touch them, gently caressing them with long, graceful fingers as she mummered a few words she couldn't recall hearing before. A rumbling filled the room as the runes winked out so suddenly it was as if the ground had swallowed them whole.

"What did you do?!" Pella's voice exclaimed as Ellana's fingers returned to her own, the rumbling sound growing louder with each passing second. Looking up Ellana could see a massive column of rock an dirt sliding down from the ceiling. Following its path she realized that, if it didn't stop on its own, it would crush Indigo's still unconscious form.



************************************

Not only caught off-guard by the boy's dust cloud tactic, but visibly unnerved by his words, the Dragon-blood only manages to barely place her smashfists in Morninglight's way. Catching the hilt with her wrists she manages to turn the blow away from her heart, but the daiklave still pierces through her armor and deep into her arm. Herald can feel it slice through flesh and bone, cutting muscle and snapping tendons as blood flies from the wound with the tip of his weapon.

The woman screams. She pushes Herald back with her good arm, just enough force behind it to make Morninglight slide freely thanks to the blood lubricating it. She takes a step back, a whimper escaping her lips before she cuts it off as her now useless arm dangles beside her, the blood flowing freely down it before dripping to the ground.

"Dragon's damn you," she curses, her eyes taking on a desperate hue as she glances around, arrows still falling around her within the golden grass. "Damn you, you can't be human. You can't!"

Tick 7

Before anyone can react, a massive rumbling filled the area. The ground beneath everyone's feet began to shake and rumble, as if a massive hand was struggling to remove the battlefield from Creation itself. Horses whinnied in fright and riders tumbled from their mounts as the world seemed to shake itself apart.



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  #139  
Unread 7th of June, 2013, 19:39
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"I...I just...I thought...don't know!" Ellana stammered, "The runes they..." Ellana trailed off as she looked up at the slowly descending rock. Whatever she had done, it had done something. She looked down and Indigo's prone form. Oh phooey..." she wished she'd learned more curse words.

Grasping under Indigo's arms, Ellana began pulling the woman out of the way of the pillar, thankful that Selen had insisted that she go through basic training. Though right now, as she struggled to pull Indigo to safety, she wished she's actually completed the training. As the pillar drew closer Ellana heaved and redoubled her efforts.

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  #140  
Unread 13th of June, 2013, 03:47
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As the earth stirred and quaked, Herald's sense of balance took on a similar characteristic of instability. For a moment, the young Dawn's arms flail about in attempt to grasp a stable body of terrain that isn't there. His balance failing, muscle memory instinctively took over as Herald began to fall backward.

The Whispering Hills was well-known for its cultivation of rice and root vegetables, and Herald was no stranger to farm work. With the call of the Earth Dragon pulling him down towards the dusty ground, his knees spread and rear jutted outwards, naturally falling into the squatting position best suited for long hours in the paddy. Gripping Morninglight at the hilt with two hands, Herald thrust the gleaming Orichalcum blade into the dry earth, the chnk sound of metal-on-stone reverberating as he settled into the squat. As Pasiap continued to tremble, the young Dawn gripped Morninglight's hilt as if Creation itself were ending, issuing a sneering response to the Dragon-Blooded through gritted teeth.

"What's wrong, Dragon-Blood? You can't believe that a lowly mortal could best you? Face the truth, Princess of the Earth."


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  #141  
Unread 19th of June, 2013, 08:03
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Ellana's participation in exercises with her fellow trainees, moving conscious and unconscious people around, had always been difficult, It had made sense, given her slight frame and chosen areas of study. But now, moving a full-grown woman under a high-pressure situation, it seems almost trivially easy.

Indigo slides across the floor steadily, and Ellana manages to get her out of the pillar's path before it comes crashing down into the ground. The floor shook beneath her feet, the broken tiles skittering about and rattling as the pillar burrowed deeper and deeper into the ground. Suddenly, Ellana realized that part of the rumbling was the spirit speaking again.

"Spider...found. Must give burial. Must."

With those words the rumbling increased and rocks from the ceiling began to dislodge, tumbling down to the cracked floor. Through the increasing amount of debris Ellana noticed that the pillar was actually a staircase that winded up towards the surface, like the one she and Indigo had fallen from.

"Hurry," Pella yelled, almost screaming in Ellana's head. "We have to get out of here before that crazy spirit buries us too!"



************************************

The Fire-aspect fought to keep her balance with only one arm functioning and her armor obviously impairing her movements. After a brief battle with gravity she somehow managed to stay up on her feet, and she returned to her somewhat panicked state as she tried to process his words through a haze of rage and pain.

Finally her eyes fell on the sword embedded in the ground before him. Her eyes, impossibly, widened even further before narrowing into smaller slits. She glared at Herald balefully, pulling herself up straighter so she stood tall and proud, ever the image of a Dynast despite her injuries.

Tick 9

"Anathema."

She almost spat out the word, but the vitriol in her voice and the heat of her gaze was more than enough to convey the meaning, no matter the language. Even as a massive hole opened up in the ground next to the battle, where the dirt was charred and the grass burned off, she didn't break her gaze on the young Dawn.

Taking one shaky step forward, the Dragon-blood suddenly charged Herald, a trail of fire igniting the ground behind her briefly. A chilling howl left her lips as she raised her one good hand, bringing the smashfist up to strike him. Using her bad arm as a sort of shield she interposed it between her blow and Morninglight, ignoring as it scraped across her armor and brought her massive fist down at onto Herald.

A massive shockwave rippled out from the two as her blow connected into Herald's sternum. Herald felt his ribs bruise as the sheer force of the woman's attacked knocked him flat into the ground, a small crater appearing beneath him. The woman's eyes twinkled somewhat madly down at Herald, the fire behind them flaring with an unnerving intensity as the blood from her arm dripped down onto the boy's cloak.


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  #142  
Unread 24th of July, 2013, 18:48
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As the stairwell finished landing Ellana sucked in her breath and heaved Indigo over her shoulders in what Selen called a fireman's carry. She immediately began scampering up the stairs, dodging the crumbling rocks as they fell. A particularly large boulder crushed the stairwell behind her, and she let out an eep before redoubling her efforts, silently thanking Selen once again for forcing to participate in the drills with the rest of the soldiers.

"Pella," she gasped, " no offense, but spirits are crazy." Ellana could only hope that Lady Villirith wasn't having too much trouble with the Realmians.
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