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Unread 15th of September, 2007, 10:50
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Erendiox
Bodak [GM]

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Chapter 3 - The Advance

The journey has been long and tiring, the memory of all that has passed brewing in everyone's mind, but finally you've arrived. Tiden leads you all to his home in the east, home of the bear-men, and of Tiden's teacher, Shea'To. The culture and climate is very different here. The rain is heavy, the leaves are thick and the trees tall. The people are strange to you, but nevertheless they are welcoming. Tiden has spoken well of you all, of all your deeds, and for that they respect you.

Shea'To, known by her title "The Maw", takes to everyone's arrival kindly for the most part. She obviously never expected her pupil to bring back such a wide array of allies. To the Solars she seems cautious but reasonable. To the dragonblood she is very wary, but seems to take the Solar's word as far as her trustworthiness. Shea'To is thrilled to see that Tiden has, in addition to finding a powerful group of new friends, saved a casteless in the process, and she is adamant in her decision to be the one to put Kami through the trials. Gorthas is welcomed immediately, even by the beastmen tribe, as a Silver Pact lunar deserving the utmost respect.

And here you all are. Shea'To leaves the tribe under Tiden care while Kami's trials are being undertaken. The rest of you have quite a bit of time to kill. Shea'To, before departing, tells you of the lunars and spirits in the surrounding area, many of which would be happy to meet you and perhaps teach you a thing or two.

Last edited by Erendiox; 15th of September, 2007 at 13:25.
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Unread 26th of September, 2007, 19:00
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red_dr4g0n94
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Silver Wind's Downtime

Silver Wind sat off in the forest, near where the bearmen were having another feast, the light of their fire casting and eerie glow into the nighttime forest. Kheervis lay beside her, sleeping, but Silver Wind found herself unable to sleep. She was getting used to staying up at night, when Tiden and the Lunars with him liked being awake. But it was not habit that kept her awake, but memories. Memories that were now over a season old but still reigned in her mind as clearly as the previous day.

Kheervis had all but flown that day. His hooves had barely touched the ground as she chased after Tiden, but the Lunar was moving too fast even for the legendary speed of a Finest. She had almost gotten there too late. It was a scene burned into her mind, one full of blood and rage and confusion. Icarus, or what had been the doomed Lunar, was off the one side. To another side was Tiden and Shaedra, locked in mortal combat, the Lunar having the Solar pinned and about to kill her. But Shaedra did something, something that was either too fast for Silver Wind to see, or hidden from her view, and the Lunar was forced to remove his grip enough for the Solar woman to escape his grip.

Tiden was far from done though, and he charged Shaedra, claws ready to kill her without hesitation. Silver Wind didn't even recall moving, but she knew she had. She couldn't let the Lunar kill Shaedra. That was the only thought going through her mind... Silver Wind reached down and touched her torso, just above her stomach and to her right. It didn't hurt anymore, but the memory of Tiden's claws running through her body was more than enough.

A staccato buzzing, the blazingly fast flapping of a quartet of insectoid wings, suddenly filled the air faintly around Silver Wind. The sound began to draw closer and closer, sounding more menacing by the moment. A shadow moved through the forest canopy... it was heading for her. More accurately, it was heading in her general direction, for suspended from magnificent rust-colored wings was a beautiful man flying by, seeming to simply be moving through or just languidly buzzing along. As it was, he was merely travelling, long arms and legs hanging languidly beneath him much like a wasp carries their limbs in flight. It should have been shocking, awe-inspiring, and more than a little frightening. As it was, she simply admired the man as he drifted by on his wings, welcoming the distraction his beauty caused her.

He seemed to notice Silver Wind, her silvery hair apparently flashing into his field of view. Surprised out of his reverie, he paused in midair, hovering for a moment, before slowly touching down. He looked at the woman carefully, head slightly tilted. "...You don't seem shocked by my wings." They vibrated slightly at this declaration.

Silver Wind looked at the man, staring at his face for a moment and the odd single braid of hair that fell past the left part of his face, then staring at his wings with idle curiosity.

"I've been among Lunars too much lately,” she declared. “If you had met me two or three seasons ago, I would have been very shocked and frightened. As it is now..." Silver Wind simply shrugged and stroked Kheervis' sleeping form.

The man nodded. "I see. You traffick often with the Exalted?" He appeared puzzled, as if it was a very strange thing to be doing, projecting the feeling that he was merely a mutant.

Silver Wind looked back up at the winged, beautiful man. She simply stared up at him, her eyes showing some sadness but intense as if they were examining him, soul and body. Finally she spoke. "It is not as strange as you may think. After all, it is only natural for a stallion to travel with other horses, is it not?" With that her caste mark appeared, blazing with the light of the sun and the cover of the moon, twinkling with brilliant light that provided another source of light besides the bonfire in the forest night.

The man's eyes widened and he grasped for words for a few moments... a moment later tattoos like those Tiden possessed came into plain view and his own crescent moon Caste mark shone brightly. "And I, noble sun queen, am no mere insect, as you can see."

Silver Wind stared at the Lunar, surprise in her eyes, then she closed them and leaned her head back against the tree, letting out a sigh. "I'm no more a queen than you are a simple insect," she said, her eyes closed.

"Then I'm just a pest." The man bowed gently to her. "Because you are destined to rule this world again. I digress. What finds you in the middle of this forest?"

"...You're wrong."

The man looked up at her. "The Sun children are destined to rule again. Your place in things will reveal itself, I'm certain, and you will see how important it is that this happen. But it is not my place to instruct you on things that I have no right to... Now please, what---"

"SHUT UP!! You're wrong." She was glaring at him now, the full force of her anger, bottled up and contained within her unleashed against this newcomer.

The man flinched, lifting off the ground as his wings buzz in fear. "I apologize! It's not my place!" He shrinks from her anger, suddenly looking smaller than his height would suggest.

Silver Wind felt on the brink of overflowing, her rage seeming to wake up Kheervis as her Caste Mark glowed, paradoxically, more brilliant. But suddenly the anger in her eyes dissipated and was replaced only with an overwhelming sadness, her eyes welling up with tears as she drops her head in between her knees.

"P-p-please, milady, stay your.... anger..." He looked out from between his voluminous sleeves at Silver Wind, who had sunk to the ground. "..Hmn?" He slowly approached the beautiful woman, crouching slightly. "Milady? ...I'm very sorry for what I've said; please tell me of your pain?"

Silver Wind wasn't crying. She forced herself not to cry, but her eyes were still watery. She didn't look up at the Lunar, her voice soft and almost unhearable.

"Why?"

The man looked confused for a moment. "Wh-why? Well, sharing your pain with others lightens the load on your shoulders. And I am offering to help you bear it, that is all."

A moment of silence, and then a small huff came from Silver Wind. "Idiot." She looked up at him now, her eyes still watery but with their intensity back. "I meant why are you so sure I am destined to rule again?"

He looked taken aback again. "By virtue of what you have been chosen to be. You wouldn't have been chosen by the sun if you could not be a leader."

Silver Wind looked up at this Lunar, his surprise at her question evident. "So I am destined to be a queen because I was Chosen by the Sun because I was destined to become a queen?"

He scratched his chin. "...Well... The way I have been taught, and from what I remember, you were Chosen because you have the qualities of excellence and leadership. This has given you a divine right to become a ruler and restore the world to its former glory."

Silver Wind sat there for a few moments, contemplating what she had just been told. Finally she asked the question that had been burning inside her. "What is your name?"

"O-oh. My name is now Stran of the Elegant Rust as granted me by mother Luna." He bowed. "May I know milady's name?"

Silver Wind smiled, the first she had given to Stran, finding his name to perfectly suit his mannerisms and handsome features.

"I'll tell you on one condition"

"What condition might that be?"

"You kiss me."

Stran blinks rapidly, looking simultaneously extremely tempted and very trepidatious. "M-milady, kiss you? I'm not sure that would be proper..." He kneels next to her. "But if it is what milady desires I must oblige." He leaned forward to press their lips together in a chaste and unassuming way.

Silver Wind returned the kiss in kind, and then suddenly her hand was on the back of Stran's head, pushing him into her. Stran's breath hitched and his eyes drifted shut as he allowed Silver Wind to control the direction their kiss was taking.

Silver Wind held their mouths together for a few more seconds, then pulled away from Stran, her eyes back to their normal intensity. "You're pretty good Stran of the Elegant Rust. Any girl would be pleased to have you as their husband." Stran blushed modestly, and fetchingly. "Unfortunately for you, I am not any girl. I am Silver Wind and already quite happily married. You are cute though."

Stran bowed low in thanks for the praise. He licked his lips, wondering if he had paid anything at all. "The eye of the beholder is wise and discerning, then." He knew he was good looking, after all. "And your husband is a lucky man. Now about my original question. What finds you in the middle of this forest?"

"I was one of the Solars who came here with the Lunar Tiden. He brought a girl named Kami, someone he called a 'casteless', here to his mentor. To save her he said."

Stran nods. "I see, you aided one of the unblooded before she could become a chimera, then. Very noble, milady.” The wasp lunar grins. "Where is your ultimate destination, then?"

Silver Wind was quiet at Stran's question, and she seemed to drift back into the state of remembering she was in when Stran had first seen her. Stran tilted his head, inquirous. He looked hesitant to ask.

"I see. If you don't wish to speak on it, you don't have to. I was merely curious..." Stran stood fluidly, looking up at the sky through the canopy of the forest. "I really should be going now, then, if there is nothing I can do for you. It has been a true pleasure to meet you, but I must continue on my own quest as well."

Silver Wind stayed quiet, seeming as if she hadn't heard Stran. When it looked like she would never answer though, she finally focused her eyes on him and spoke. "Can you stay and talk a while before you leave?"

Stran blinked rapidly, then sank back to his knees gracefully. "I have the time and would hear what you have to say." Silver gave a small smile, and then her face became one of distant loss as she asked Stran a question. "Do you have a family Stran? Or have you ever had one?"

"I did." He ran long fingers down the long braid at the left side of his face. "They were devoured by the Raksha. I was sold to the Guild." He stayed silent for a moment, obviously remembering something. "...Now there is only me."

Silver Wind reached out and rested her hand on Stran's knee. "I'm sorry to hear that Stran. I didn't mean to dredge up any painful memories from you," she said, her own look of pain still on her face. Stran blinked at her. "There is no need for concern. That was a long time ago. I have survived since then and will survive more than that. I keep their memories close, that is what is important."

"I...I only ask because I have a family. A son along with my husband. I left them because I feared the Wyld Hunt would kill them to get to me. I...I want to protect them Stran, but I can barely protect myself from others, much less protect those I love and care for."

He seemed to ponder on that a moment. "There is an ancient proverb that says 'one becomes strong enough to protect what is important to them.' Perhaps what you need is more strength, so that you can get your family back and fear none harming them while they are with you?"

She shook her head. "Where could I find such strength though Stran? I was never trained to be a warrior; I have only basic skills in the way of the sword and bow. My greatest strength lies not in my muscles and swiftness but in my voice."

"That's strength enough. You are an Exalt. With magic there is little that cannot be done, and I know of a martial art that may suit you... It uses the voice as its weapon and music as its shield. Would that, perhaps, be appropriate for you?"

"I don't know Stran." Silver Wind didn't look anywhere near convinced. If she hadn't just responded, she might have seemed like she hadn't even heard the Lunar. "That just doesn't seem possible."

Stran blinked twice and lifted off of the ground with his giant rust colored gossamer wings. "... Impossible no longer applies to our kind. I've learned this already. I've convinced people that blue is red and that a leaf on the wind is the key to understanding the vagaries of immortality. Singing away your foes is certainly no stranger than that."

She was silent a moment. "...Can you promise me something then?" Stran drifted back to the ground. "What would that be?"

"If you tell me where to get this strength of voice you tell me of, I will go. But only if you stay here until I return. If you are right, then I want to be able to thank you." She looked up at him and gave a small, if mischievous, grin. "And if you're wrong I want to be able to slug you for wasting my time."

Stran returned Silver Wind's grin equally. "Very well, I will honor this deal. I don't think you will be disappointed." She held out her hand to the Lunar. "You swear by it?"

Stran seemed unsure all of the sudden... was he unsure of the information, or had he had heard of the sanctifying powers of the Eclipse caste?

"Very well. I do." Stran took the woman's hand and clasped it gently, laying a kiss across her knuckles politely. Essence suddenly exploded around the Lunar and the Solar as runes made of silver wisps flowed around the two Exalts, the deal sanctified by Heaven itself. After the runes had disappeared, their power shown, Silver Wind withdrew her hand. "Thank you Stran," Sylvia whispered.

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

And so it came to pass, Silver Wind journeys alone, making her way farther east toward the great lake Shamash. Tales have been told of a No Moon that settles there with knowledge of a nearly lost art. This champion of song spurs her interest, and she travels to expand her horizons. After many days of passing tall pines, she finds herself at a small stream and stops to drink.

A small turtle rests on a stone in the center, and calls out to her as she drinks."Harken, young lass. My name is Ut-Naya, guardian of this stream and all ground it touches. Tell me, what brings you this far into the forest?"

Silver Wind gazed with only mild surprise on her face when the turtle spoke up. With all the Lunars around, she had become slightly accustomed to animals doing strange things. She was garbed in her vest and riding clothes still, as she saw no need to change here. But she had traveled in her armor and with her weapons, for Tiden had told her that Lunars would look favorably on her being prepared to fight at a moment’s notice. She pulled her braided hair out of the river where it had fallen in to soak, and bowed respectfully to the spirit.

"My name is Silver Wind, Chosen of the Unconquered Sun, and a member of the Eclipse Caste. I come seeking someone with knowledge I too seek to know."

The turtle seemed pleased at her manner and jumped idly into a small whirlpool next to the rock, fading into the bubbles and wash. He spoke again, as if the very stream had a mouth and tongue. "Chosen of the Sun? Only in legend does your title mean to me, but a great legend it is, then might you be great. Allow me to welcome you, for I receive few visitors from the outside. May I ask of whom you seek?"

"I seek another Chosen, one of Luna's children. They are supposed to be a champion of song, and I hope that they might teach me."

"Champion of song you say? I know of a great song, one that echoes far, filling my domain on the last day of the hidden moon, when the night is ever so still. Allow me, Ut-Naya, to point you in the right way. Simply follow the water upstream and you will come to a mighty lake where the opposite shore cannot be seen. Round this lake and you will find your cantors."

Silver Wind looks up the river as it winds, then turns back to the turtle-turned-stream and bows her head once more. "Thank you Ut-Naya. If I should succeed in being taught, I will come back here and sing a song for you in repayment for your help."

"I have heard the song from beyond the lake only in whispers, as my domain stretches only as long as the stream. A cantor beside my domain would make me ever so jovial... a safe journey to you, chosen of the sun." Silver Wind rose from her kneeling position by the stream, gave the spirit a full bow this time, and then turned to follow the water upstream, as the spirit had instructed.

She followed the stream for 3 days and nights. The water she drinks from it is cool and crisp, and she moves with great speed and renewed spirit. At the end of 3 days, a great lake spreads out before her. It takes another week to round the edge. At the end of the 7th day she heard them in the not far distance.

The moon is gone from the sky, and the lake lay as still as a shard of glass. Both beautiful and eerie is the song across the waters and through the trees. At the morn of the 8th day, she heard a young girl's voice. Following it, she found a girl of 11 years perched on a branch overlooking the lake. She sings an idle song to the sunrise.

The girl turned as she approached, and looked her straight in the eye. Neither fear nor alarm marks her face, but she doesn’t smile. She shouts something, in a language Silver Wind can’t understand, then leaps from branch to branch down the coast. Ears of a rabbit she has, and the grace of one too.

"Wait!" Silver Wind shouts, too late to stop the girl from bolting. Amazed at how fast and agile the girl was in the trees, there seems no way on the ground to reliably follow the girl. She realises that if she wanted to catch her, she would need to use the Chosen abilities she had been granted with. Silver Wind vaulted herself up onto a nearby branch and followed as best she could. She journeys after her, and a voice in Riverspeak comes from nowhere and everywhere.

"This is a sacred place. Those who tread here without due passage are cast into the lake for the likes of Toska'Bo. Explain yourself or leave.”


Silver Wind stopped in her tracks at the sound of the voice. She looked around but could see no one, and it sounded like the voice had come from everywhere, outside, even inside her. She gulped back the fear that suddenly griped her throat, and let words flow out like she had so many times "My name is Silver Wind, Eclipse Caste and Chosen of the Unconquered Sun. I have been granted writ of passage by the Heavens themselves, and are thus immune to attack unless provoked." Silver Wind hoped that was all true. She wasn't exactly sure of HOW her passage abilities worked exactly, or who was speaking, so she could just be bluffing. Hopefully Toska'Bo didn't know that though.

"Very well then... diplomat of the heavens. You are a long way from your home no doubt, and my children grow wary of your presence. Why is it you've come?"

"I mean you and your children no harm. I only seek another, a Child of Luna. If you know where they might be, kindly point me to them so that I may bother you and yours no further."

"You surely mean the likes of Nanaku and his brethren, the pests they are, all of them. Late into the night, they sing. My children, they get no sleep. Tell me chosen, is it not a vice to sing when those around you do not want it?"

The situation had just gone from dangerous, to somewhat calm, to extremely dangerous in the span of a few sentences. It was the kind of situation that Silver Wind didn't exactly appreciate being caught in. Of course the spirit seemed to know who it was she was looking for. "When those around do not appreciate the song, you are correct, it is the duty of the singer to stop… but if there are others who do enjoy it, while some do not, it falls to the singer to ensure the enjoyment of those who do appreciate the music. If you can lead me to Nanaku, I will be certain to relay your message and attempt to get him to be considerate of your situation when he sings, but I will make no guarantees that he will stop entirely."

There's a moment of silence. Then the voice speaks again. "You, chosen of the sun, sounds very much like a diplomat. Nanaku does not have use for such constitutions. Such correctness and stiffness is not the stuff of the gale of night. Nanaku cannot teach through such a veil of opacity..."

Silver Wind stood in silence, her brain piecing things together into a puzzle whose picture she wasn't liking the looks of. She stood in the tree in silence, realizing what had just happened, and realizing just how badly she had failed Nanaku's test. For the first time in her life, she could not think of words to say.

"Do not be troubled child. You came here for teaching yes? And unknowingly you have shown your true form to me. Be thankful, for a pretense would not save you here, nor would it allow you the freedom of spirit that a disciple of the gale needs to thrive."

Silver Wind continued to simply stand in the tree for several more seconds before she found her voice again. "I...You...Who are you? Are Tosk'Bo and Nanaku just names? Why do you speak to me when I cannot even see you?"

"My face means nothing, my body nothing. If not my soul from my voice you see, then hope, for you, there is none. You are lost. Your soul is lost. I can hear it in you. Your voice is shy, diffident, your resolve distant. What purpose do you hold? What songs would you sing if such a voice you were granted?"

Silver Wind felt confused, afraid of this being. She proclaimed to know so much about her, things that couldn’t be true, or that she couldn't admit. And she couldn't say the voice was wrong, which terrified her all the more.

"I...I...My purpose is..."

Suddenly there's a rush of wind, a great sound from in the distance comes bowling towards her. A sound like a million girls shrieking the most dissonant, diminished note. The sound knocks Silver Wind off her branch, so powerful she ops to hold her hands to your ears instead of try to cushion her fall. A soft bush, thankfully, intercedes on the solar’s behalf. The voice bellows out, leaves falling around her from being blown off the trees.

"That is voice! That is purpose! That is harmony or disharmony, as we see fit. Our collective voice is focused. There can be no hesitation, no doubt. You must be free of your worries, free of your concerns. And above all, you must be free to cast your voice to the wind, letting nothing and no one stand in your path."

Silver Wind screamed at the sound, the pain it caused her making her ignore the fall, but the bone-jarring landing overrode that. Bush or not, that still hurt. She crawls up to her knees, unable to do anything but listen to the words this voice spouts at her, filled with passion and anger and conviction. Something inside of her is set off by what the voice says, her words touching something deep inside Silver Wind, but she cannot tell if it is her own soul, or the shard within her that is touched. She begins humming, trying to keep the tears of pain, resentment, and anger from welling up at the words and the feelings they invoke. Eventually, unconsciously, she sings a song she knows by heart, that she sings whenever she is sad or lonely, that she hardly realizes she is singing.

"The winds blew across the plains
lifting up the graceful bird.
And so it was I took great pains
to be quite silent, without a word.

For in my sight, before my eyes
there stood a sight never told.
I do not deceive, I cannot lie.
There was a horse with a coat of gold.

Its size was massive, too great for words.
It stood much higher than the woods.
Its mane became the clouds up high
rising up into the sky.

I could not speak.
Only stare in awe.
My knees beneath grew so weak.
I knew I stood before a God."

Her voice was small as she sang, probably not even breaking the canopy of the forest, but she sang anyways, her voice growing steadier and her body ceasing its fear-induced shaking There is silence for a while. Then the voice speaks again, this time from right behind her.

"Your heart is in that song." She says.

Silver Wind spins around to see a woman, not tall, not shapely, but the ring in her voice makes up for any part of the way she looks. She wears a simple garb, similar to what a farmer would wear. Baggy cloth pants and shirt, tied back brown hair, and sandals. Judging from the voice, Silver Wind never imagined what she see before her. She opens her mouth, and again, has the solar’s complete attention.

"I can hear your story. You care deeply... you have spirit and power for those in need. You lack direction and confidence, but you are young. These things will come with time. I think perhaps I was wrong, Silver Wind. Perhaps you can learn."

Silver Wind continued to rest on her legs, her hands fiddling with the tip of her braid. She listens in silence though, showing only rapt attention and slight confusion, and maybe, just maybe, a bit of resentment. Finally, as she finishes speaking, she nods.

"Yes Nanaku. I want to."

Nanaku smiles, her hazel eyes not leaving Silver Wind’s. "So tell me so that I might know how best to teach you. What manner of song would you sing upon the face of creation?" Silver Wind was having a hard time with some of these song and voice references. She was having to think even more sideways than she usually did to understand this...woman.

"I...I would sing the voice of the oppressed and of the free. I would sing with the voice used to bring down tyrants and raise up kingdoms. I would sing to bring harmony back to creation where only dissonance rings out… and I would sing to prove that sometimes it is not a sword or a spell that is needed, but a voice. A voice to ring out and bring forth the plight of the oppressed and give them the light of hope once more."

The girl smiles an even bigger smile, almost chuckling to herself, and crosses her arms. "I can see this possibly working out for you, chosen of the sun." She walks up to Silver Wind, clasps her hands within her own, and gives a soft kiss on the cheek, whispering in the solar’s ear, her freckled cheek next to hers. "May Luna’s blessing be with you sister, for your training begins tonight, with the setting of the sun."

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


Nanaku takes Silver Wind deeper into the forest, rounding the coast of the great lake. Her steps are easy, her breath never more than subtle. Soon the solar finds herself at a clearing surrounded by trees and vines on all sides. A stream runs through the center of it. The ground is soft dirt and grass, the stones mellow and the trees bear fruit and vines and great big leaves. All around this clearing are shelters, most made of wood draped with animal skins and furs. Two small fires burn in stone pits, a thin line of smoke rising to the sky.

Then suddenly she notices them. Their eyes glow eerie, like felines in the dark. From in the shadows of the shelters, and some hidden in the treetops. Nanaku cuts through the silence like a sword, her sweet voice chanting a short phrase into the camp, one in a language Silver Wind cannot understand. The hidden eyes reveal themselves to be young women, much like the one she ran into before. All have the blood of beasts or wyld taints within them, most subtly so, but others wear the very claws, tails, and stripes of cats or wolves.

Nanaku speaks. "These are my children. Those tribes that have children with a voice send them to me, where their talents can be developed. These are not warriors. They are shephards and survivors, and they sing songs of creation's rebirth."

Silver Wind looks around at all the...variety around her. Some look as human as herself, while others were almost blatantly inhuman. She looks over at Nanaku, wondering how many of these girls were her own children, or indeed if any or all of them were. "Will I be training beside them?" she asks, her voice showing only idle curiosity and not worry or hate.

"You will spend your days among them, learning their language and their ways. They will teach you to think like they do. Like a tribe does. Your nights you will spend alone. I will have tasks prepared for you. But first, there is one thing I require of you, as I require of all my disciples… an oath, one that my children have sworn by blood, but that you will swear by heaven, for I know the ways of your caste. You are not part of Lunar society, so you know not of our values, but I will instruct you."

"We are a proud people, and would see Creation reborn, not under a corrupt or self centered ruling power, but with a people that are self sufficient. The people must be individuals and control their own destinies. We ourselves are Stewards of Luna and of Creation. We fight to protect, preserve, and reunite, not to destroy. This is our way, and it must be yours as well. You must swear to me that my teachings will be used only for that purpose. It cannot be used for self gain."

There was no hesitation in Silver Wind. Nanaku's words echoed inside of her own beliefs on the nature of Creation, and she was answering almost before Nanaku was finished. "Agreed." She put out her hand to the woman, no amount of fear or doubt registering in her movements of her eyes.

Nanaku meets her confidence with a small pause, looking straight into her, as if looking for dishonesty or deceit. Seeing none, she reaches out with her hand and they shake on the oath, magic leaping into the air as the words are sealed in heaven. Smiling, she guides Silver Wind into the camp, and the girls seem at ease. Something in what Nanaku said must have told them just who you are. There are roughly two dozen of them, and you embrace each one, receiving a very sudden amount of names and faces and various interesting features. Still, each has a smile human enough to see, and you can tell these people are far from what one would think of as "barbarian". You spend the day with them, communicating as best you can with the language barrier. Then the night comes, and your first task is at hand.

Nanaku instructs you to sit by the edge of the lake and hold long notes into the distance. She places a stick in the ground, and atop the stick, she balances a rock. "Sing..." She says, "... Until you can knock this rock off its base. You may not rest until the sun rises. You may not sing until the sun sets.” The day ends, the night begins, and Silver Wind stares down the rock placed on the stick in the sand.

Okay Sylvia. Nanaku doesn't seem to appreciate thinking things through too much or trying to find a compromise point. But...how am I supposed to make the rock tip over with just my voice? I can't exactly talk it into falling over. NO! Stop thinking, just do it.

Silver Wind sang, trying to concentrate her voice at the rock, forcing it to fall over through the sheer force of her voice and willpower. And Silver Wind sang with all her might, all night. The rock nary moving an inch. She returns at daybreak, exhausted and her voice nearly gone. She sleeps readily. When Silver Wind wakes in midday she is greeted by one of the children. Bringing forth a tea that tastes like honey and dew, her voice feels better. The day eventually passes, and the nightlong trial begins again.

This time, two of the children sneak up from the village. They come bringing smiles, and seem to want to help Silver Wind in her difficulty. Remembering her orders from Nanaku to not stop singing, Silver Wind replied in verse.

"Leave me here and get ye home,
this task is mine and mine alone."


The girls, though getting the message, insist on staying. The pair of them start to sing, their voices covering over yours. The rock trembles as they do. They turn to you, grinning. Silver Wind saw the rock rumble, and she thought she could even make out how the girls sang as they did. If she tried hard enough, she might be able to mimic it.

NO! Remember what father taught you. Take a man on your horse, and he will only reach his destination. Teach a man to ride a horse, and he will travel as far as he wants.

Silver Wind strained her face, closing her eyes, but continued to sing as she always had, seeming to ignore the two girls. The girls seem disappointed, but they reluctantly leave Silver Wind to her work. The night goes on much like the first, as does the following morning as she falls asleep in a heap of exhaustion. When the solar wake the following afternoon, Nanaku is standing over her. "Can you speak?" she says, smiling. "Your voice must be worn, but it will pass."

"You'll have a new task this night." She says. "You've already succeeded at the first."

Silver Wind looked up at Nanaku, confused. "Succ...I...already?"

Nanaku smiles even wider. "Did you really think I expected you to knock over things with your voice as your first task?"

Silver Wind stared up, exhausted at Nanaku. Finally, she simply nodded. The day passes. She spend lots of time with the children, and they begin to start teaching her words and phrases. They are truly an enjoyable bunch. With the night, Nanaku takes her to a secluded part of the forest. The grass is soft and the land flat. It is there that she begins to drill Silver Wind in the martial arts, stances, breathing, movement and technique. With her total absence of formal martial arts training, she ends the night exhausted, her head exploding with new ideas and concepts. This continues onward, her days spent singing and learning the language, her nights spent doing grueling martial arts exercises.

After 3 weeks, Silver Wind have a strong grasp of what Nanaku is teaching and she can spar with some difficulty. The focus, she notices, has been on breathing and stance, and one night Nanaku has Silver Wind do something completely different.

"Stand straight, breath in down to your diaphragm, like I taught you." She says. "Don't tense up. Relax but stay firm. Release slowly... that's it. Now I want you to dig into your essence. I know you can do that."

"Dig into my Essence?"

"It should be intuitive to you by now. It's the same reflex that powers all the charms you know. The difference here is I want you to attach it to your breathing. Let your energy flow through your exhale. You must stay relaxed, no matter what. Pouring too much could burn you from the inside."

Silver Wind nodded, confident in her abilities at this point. She closed her eyes and started her breathing exercises like normal, but this time attached essence to her breath, willing the two together. "ACK!" she screamed as her voice carried nothing but pain and more pain up her throat and out her mouth, the essence gladly taking the escape it had been given.

"Not bad for a start, but you want to project it, not choke on it. You're alienating the spiritual side... I can see you trying too hard. Don't think like you're attaching something foreign to your breathing. Think more that you're breathing with your entire being. Learning to expand and contract your shard, your entire being, is central to being able to fight beyond that of a mortal scope. It's the only way you'll grow to rival other exalts that know what they're doing."

"Now try again."

Still rubbing her throat, Silver Wind nodded and closed her eyes, once again going into the breathing exercises. She tried to follow the instructions, breathing with what she considered her entire being. She felt the way her toned muscles flexed with each other, felt how the air around her was softly blowing her hair around, all of them the physical aspects of what she had learned. Then she grasped for the supernatural aspects of herself. She felt the essence around her, felt how it intermingled and entangled with her invisible anima. Felt the power contained within her, contained within that warmth nestled deep inside of her, giving her power, and a trickle of energy only she could touch. She intermingled it with her breath, stewing it together with the power of her shard, combining the physical and the supernatural, and then she let it flow out from her.

A cry rang out; one that started out quietly, but soon grew in power. And kept growing. She felt the power from her shard leaking out of her through her mouth, her voice. And she didn't know how to stop it. She tried to scream, but was already screaming. Soon, golden solar essence came out from her mouth, and finally, through force of will, she shut it, the pain too incredible to bear. She collapsed to the ground, coughing, gagging, clutching her throat in pain.

Nanaku kneels down beside her, taking one strong hand and lifting her chin up so that Silver Wind's eyes were but inches from Nanaku's iron gaze. Where the Solar had hoped to find a glint of praise or satisfaction, there was none. She spoke, and her words were as course as sand. "Listen to me, Silver Wind. If you want to continue speaking for the remainder of your days, you WILL NOT do that again. Go to the others, they will fix you something. For right now, the lesson is over. Don't even try to talk, you can't."

Fear filled Silver Wind's eyes at Nanaku's words. She could do nothing but stare into those eyes and nod weakly, enthralled and terrified. She spends the next 3 days recovering, not speaking a word. During that time, Nanaku displays thoroughly that you don't need to speak to learn martial arts. On the morning of the 4th day, exhausted as you are, you can finally speak. A few more days and you can sing, amazingly. After 8 days, Nanaku takes you back to the same terrifying lesson. Again, with a harsh tone.

"I trust you'll be more careful this time. This is a dangerous skill but the entire style is based upon it as a fundamental principle. You MUST learn to be comfortable with this."


"I...I want to Nanaku... But...I'm...I'm not sure I can...I tried it. Just like you said and...my voice..."


With those words Nanaku grabs Silver Wind's throat, holding her in place and caressing her cheek with suddenly clawed fingers, Nanaku's eyes go bestial, her pupils exploding in size, her caste mark glowing, as if moonlight was blinding the solar. Her voice is like terror, like death, as if she was half a beast. "Let me tell you again about us Lunars, exalted of the sun. We CRUSH our fears. Fear makes you weak. The weak do not survive. Do YOU want to survive!?" She screams at you. “WHAT SAY YOU SUN CHILD!?!"

Silver Wind clawed at her throat in surprise, shock, and fear. She wanted to speak, wanted to say something, anything to appease her tormentor, but no sounds came forth. She wasn't being choked, and yet no air could pass through her lungs, no words could form in her mind. Only sheer, mindless, terror. Like a prey animal caught in the sight of a predator. She felt herself on the verge of death.

She'll kill me! I need to answer!

She searched down somewhere deep for something, anything, to appease this beast in front of her. She felt her essence again, the shard within her, but she knew that would do her no good. It would only sear her voice into nothingness. And if that happened, she might as well be better off dead. She looked still deeper, down into herself, where the shard and her own wants and dreams intermingled with the essence she had been granted. And old memory came to the surface. A childhood memory, when her parents still lived and she no more than 10 winters of age. She told her parents, the horses, everyone, of a dream. She wanted to ride with Hiparkes. Wanted to traverse the plains of the Marukani on his back, the stampede of his followers behind her as the wind blew through her hair and the scent of the god filled her nostrils. It had never happened though, and she had buried it deep within herself, forgotten and forlorn. But now it returned, and it gave her strength.

THAT was why she was a Marukani, why she had spent her life devoted to the horses that Hiparkes so loved. That was why she sang the songs of not only men, but of brave horses as well Reaching into that memory, where herself and HIM intermingled, she summoned forth power beyond her understanding. She screamed into Nanaku's face, her voice the sound of a thousand horses stampeding and trampling her, essence giving the sound power but heart giving it purpose.

Nanaku takes a step back, squinting slightly at the force of Silver Wind's voice. When her breath runs out, and the Solar panted in both relief and exasperation, Nanaku grinned, the smile of someone who is pleasantly surprised. "... All right then..." She says plainly. "... Let’s see that again."

Weeks pass. Silver Wind learns. Another four weeks, and she can speak with relative ease among the children. Her days are spent happily with them. They teach her songs, how to harmonize and intonate, and all about their culture and customs. The nights are filled with more martial arts, more rigorous than ever. Nanaku doesn't let up, but Silver Wind is learning faster now. Every day is a trial, but most days are a success. The task given to her on the first day is now child’s play. Months more pass, yet too soon her time is at an end. Promising Nanaku that she’ll return to finish what she’s started, Silver Wind sets off back in the way she came.

A changed woman, a changed person, she strides. A turtle sunbathes on a stone amiss the stream you follow.

Silver Wind crept up near the stream. She was no longer clad in armor, and her weapons were showing signs of disuse, but all the same she gently sat down next to the stream. "Hello again Ut-Naya."

The turtle looks up, gathering in this new face. "Ah... I remember you... or perhaps someone related to you? Have we met?"

Silver Wind smiled gently, it was a knowing smile, and she nodded slowly. "Yes Ut-Naya. I am Silver Wind, Eclipse Caste and Chosen of the Unconquered Sun. We met some months ago, when you directed me towards the sounds you hear from the lake. Back then, I promised to repay your kindness with a song. I have come back to make good on that promise."

The turtle seems thrilled, and in his excitement slips into the water and dissolves, the stream yet speaking to her. "Yes yes I remember! Oh this is wonderful, chosen of the sun. You brighten my day yet again."

Silver Wind smiled and bowed politely to the spirit, then decided to make this a bit more memorable for him. The spirit seemed to have a slight memory problem after all... She tugged oh so slightly at the essence around her, causing a filmy sheen of gold around her and small silver wisps to appear. She began humming to start her song, and she again pulled at the strands of essence around her, activating a charm to make her tone more graceful and her words more poignant.

Time passed, and finally she began to sing. She sang an ancient legend from her home, one of the few that did not concern horses. It spoke of a turtle, one who swam the vasts oceans of creation. During its travels, it met many strange and wondrous beings, and saw many indescribable sights, but still the turtle swam on, always looking for something new, never content with what it had. Finally, it swan everywhere, and it had no new places to explore... The turtle simply smiled though, for it would always have the memories of what it had seen to keep it entertained for the rest of its life. It would never be without wonder or excitement. With the last verse on how content the turtle was, Silver Wind went back to humming, slowly bringing the tune to a bare whisper, until finally she was done.

The spirit is stunned. Awed. Finally he speaks. "Oh what a wonder! I will pass your name to my master, and he to his masters. Surely you are fit to entertain the gods themselves. Silver Wind, your name, I shall not forget."

Silver Wind smiled gratefully, realizing it was probably best she didn't ask the little spirit on his 'Masters. "I thank you Ut-Naya. I hope we may meet again someday." Then Silver Wind rose herself off the ground, bowed gratefully, and headed back towards where she remembered the Silver Pact being held.

Last edited by Erendiox; 23rd of October, 2007 at 02:51.
  #3  
Unread 10th of October, 2007, 02:28
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Xaden
Spawn of Kyuss

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Gorthas's Time

It's been one year since Icarus's death. I can still remember it. The sight of Icarus, Kami being injured... I still haven't forrgiven myself. I had promised to protect her so soon just before that incident, and then as soon as I turn my back she is attacked. I had seen and known to many battle wounds to know that the injuries were from a large blunt weapon. I did not trust Shaedra then, even as she lay on the ground. I had taken Kami's wounds and told her to run if Shaedra got up again, I yelled at Lacuna to get the others.

Time seemed somewhat distroted around then. Everyone seemed to take too long, yet arrived almost instantly. We saw to it that Icarus's body was given sufficient final rights, then we went off to Tiden's tribe and see his mentor to get Kami tattooed. I was glad to see that Kami finally trusted us enough to do such, I'm just sad that Icarus had to die for that. I'm sorry that our last words spoken were in anger, but also because I thought Kami might trust us more if she saw us arguing about her well-being. I did not really mean to yell at Icarus, I just wanted to make sure Kami knew we were just looking our for her. I still don't think she trusts me fully now, but that's okay, I'm sure she will one day.

The journey took a while, but seemed really long to me. I was still only so well respected by everyone, I'm not sure I had anyone's trust just then, and I certainly didn't trust Shaedra. I knew too many battles... the injuries were obviously from a weapon that was either her's or something just like her's (there probably are other weapons like hers in Creation, but what are the chances of running into two such wepaons in such a short period of time). And all the while I tried to walk so that I was inbetween Kami and Shaedra, I wouldn't be surprised if both noticed, but I didn't care, if Shaedra attacked again, I wanted to be sure she went for me before she went for Kami again. But no attack came, the trip was relatively peaceful, and Tiden's tribe was welcoming.

That woman, Silver Wind, disappeared shortly thereafter and I focused my attention on forgetting about her. Yet somehow I just couln't quite... grrr, stop it, she is gone!

The warriors of the tribe were more than willing to "test themselves against the Lunars". Little did they know, I knew very little about fighting. But they seemed to like the idea that they knew more about fighting than I, a "mighty Lunar", did and were even willing to give me several pointers. I even tried fighting in my warform, which was fairly new to me, and I think I learned something with that as well.

The others seemed to eventually start talking to Sheadra as well, some even to be concerned for her, so eventually I decided to hear her side of the story. She didn't have much of one, said she blacked out and was completely unaware of her actions. And then we continued to talk. It turns out we had at least some things in common, if nothing else we were both fairly newly Exalted and that makes for a fairly big thing in common, and somehow one of our conversations turned to sorcery and how she even knew some. I was curious, since my Second Breath I've been wanting to know about my powers and their limits, so I asked her if she could teach me some. She agreed.

It wasn't long before a Lunar noticed our practice and came to me. He said he was from the Crossroads Society, said he would also be willing to teach me sorcery and "Bring me into the fold". I asked him about the Crossroads Society and we talked for many hours, but he made me uncomfortable, as did what I heard about the Society. It sounded cultish, and more about gaining power than anything else. I told him, thank you, but I'm not interested, I'm still not really sure if he took it well. He came to me again once I actually cast Emerald Circle Countermagic and asked once more if I would join the Crossroads Society and once again I said no, I was still a young Lunar and not yet ready to throw my lot in with any faction. The fact of the matter is, I asked about the other factions and none of them seemed quite right to me.

Though before training began with Shaedra, she told me of 5 trials that must be overcome before one could become a sorcerer. As she told me of these Ordeals I mentioned that I had already had experiences, before my Second Breath, that covered these 5 Ordeals, and she told me of this one school of Sorceric thought, the Salinan school, which believes that the teachings of Sorcery are actually written into the very fabric of Creation and one can actually be self-taught through events, experiences and the very materials of Creation. There might be some validity to that thinking too, since I was able to learn Sorcery without her guiding me through the 5 Ordeals, which is normally how things occur.

Though there were some rough times emotionally for me. Twice, once around my wife's birthday, and then once again around my daughter's. It's been over a year now and I still don't like talking about it, and I still haven't. I just hope everyone understands that sometimes I just need some time and space to myself while I work through things. Though what bothered me the most is that whenever I think about my wife Makayla, that woman Silver Wind always pops into my... stop it!

Also during this time I helped the tribe to stay healthy, taking on others injuries, illnesses and occasionally venoms (from snake bites and worse). My new Lunar body is much more resiliant and hearty than any mortal's, I can see that now, and I feel like my Essence infused body is only getting stronger and more resilient, both to injury and illness.

So I come out of this time a little stronger, more knowledgeable in the wasy of war and Sorcery and I think a little more confident and sure of myself than I once was. Things are still rough (it seems like I must constantly deal with death in my life), but I will survive on through the losses, and do my best to minimize that sort of loss for others.
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Unread 13th of October, 2007, 09:48
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I stood up from the head of the feasting table and started back to the tents, ignoring Ignay’s request for me to stay. Ignay is the head hunter of the tribe and as much as they wanted my company, I don’t have the time to babysit them every waking moment. If there is an emergency they know where to find me. As I left the Bearmen, the memory of what had happened came back again. It reminded me why I needed to go out into the wilderness alone.

It had been months past but I still remember it as if it had happened only a moment ago. I had left Silver Wind embarrassed, probably with some conflicting emotions. Strangely I was pleased with what I had done. There was a great smash and a cry in the distance. I froze. Instinct told me there was a fight going on and it was back the way we came. Remembering Icarus, how injured he was, I raced back as fast as I could. Then I saw him. I had rushed over to him, simultaneously changing into my battle form to protect him. Looking down at what was left… I was too late. Picking herself up, bloody hammer in hand, was Sheadra. With a horrid realization, I had smelt the blood off her; Icarus’ blood. The only thought I had in my mind was revenge.

Enraged I jumped at her. With so much of her essence used up it was all she could do to defend herself against me. Nothing would deny me her blood, her life, revenge. Sheadra was saying something but I was deaf to her. She would get no mercy, not after such a betrayal. Slamming into her, I had pinned her down on the ground and grabbed her hair so I could sever her head cleanly. If the others hadn't stopped him from making that horrible mistake....

Still, it was a while before I spoke to Sheadra again, even after it was all explained.

I soon found myself at the top of a mountain. This is where I would train. Train my mind. Train my soul. I must be strong enough for what must be done. I sat, and my mind became clear...

Some four months later, the connection with my powers was redefined, the core of my being was exhilarating. I could manipulate my abilities in ways I never thought of before. But I knew it wasn't enough. If I was to have any chance of killing the abyssal scum I would need more. I found myself searching and sparring with any strong lunars I could find. I had even gone as far as fighting a large group of bear-men from the tribe all in an effort to perfect my skills. It wasn't enough.

I started trying my best to gather knowledge about the undead and the abyssals but in my race for power I was unable to learn much. Eventually I was able to start merging my new talents with my essence and my new fighting ability. The skills created were deadly. It wasn't enough.

I remember their mocking smiles as they avoided my attacks, maneuvering with a deadly grace. Their strange spells. There must be something I can do, some way to find them, to become more powerful. The image of Icarus just lying there flashed through my mind. Im not strong enough.
One day I lashed out in rage and frustration, disemboweling the unlucky tree next to me. The Bearmen looked up in alarm. The fear in their eyes was evident.

I knew what was wrong. They are too weak. How can I expect to get stronger if I train with these weaklings?

In disgust, I changed into my wolf form and ran into the woods. There had to be someone, something that could give me the strength I need. The abilities I desire. It doesn't matter how I must attain it. I could feel a pull on my mind… an answer to all I sought was just ahead. Just a little further. The forest around me changed, becoming more wild. It had a strange life of its own but I didn't care. All I wanted was the power that this place promised.

As I drew deeper I shifted into my war-from, a silvery symbol of power, unshifting in the wild around me. But there was a sheen of madness over my eyes. A small inner voice was screaming at me to get out of this place, to leave while I still could, but my inner thirst for power kept me there. I opened myself to the madness. The tatoos on my body achieved their purpose, but through the seams I willed the chaos towards me. In time I could feel myself shifting with the strange world and I welcomed it, for it was power. Visions of abstraction, illusions, plagued me. I struggled to find what was real and what wasn’t, only concluding that both were true in this place. After what felt like a lifetime of dreaming, my desires focused into something useful. Something that would let me hunt down the Abyssals and kill them. As I opened my right eye it was black… and I saw death.

After apologizing to the tribesmen for loosing my temper I returned to my training. Very soon I would rejoin the rest of the group and I will get my revenge.

Tiden Smiled.
  #5  
Unread 25th of October, 2007, 00:05
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Lacuna grimaced to herself through the steam off her morning tea, looking away, down into its liquid depths. Again the look, the same one she would get each day from passing tribesman. They didn't have to say anything. She knew what they were thinking. Dragonblooded. Realm. Enemy. It didn't seem to matter what she did or how she acted. The mistrust of the realm and, as a result, of terrestrials, seemed to be utterly engraved into their society.

There's no helping it... I'm little better than a prisoner here. With the others gone, there's not much I can do.

She had been passing her days meditating and practicing the Old Realm chants that composed her spells. She liked to go off into the forest alone and practice where nobody could hear her. She swore though, that sometimes she could feel someone watching her. Maybe they were keeping tabs on her whereabouts. After a while she stopped caring. Let them watch if they like. It makes no difference.

Tiden and Gorthas seemed to have their own agendas. She didn't see them too much. Besides, Tiden wasn't much of a comfort to have around, all big and quiet like he is. Gorthas, however, she enjoyed for his open mind and kind disposition. Lacuna treasured the time she could spend with him. He was often out training or working on something, so she only got to see the lunar sparsely. He was the closest person she had with Silver Wind gone, so it was important to her. Shaedra was close but, ever since... well I don't really want to think about that right now.

After 3 months of feeling locked up, Lacuna decided to journey somewhere on her own. She wasn't used to the wilderness, or of taking care of herself. A lake atop a mountain, silent and serene was what she found after days of travel. Atop that mountain she found herself. Hunting for her own food, bathing in a pool by a stream, exploring the mountain and climbing rocks and trees, all these things got her to relax and rethink her methods. Her upbringing was very ridged and she herself, though talented, was ridged as well. She never enjoyed it, but instead managed to conform to what was expected of her. That didn't matter anymore. She was free to change, and change she did. With the freedom of solitude and expansive months laid out before her, she took this time to reshape her being. She learned how to survive. She greatened her spirit and became rugged and independent.

Some 10 months later, Lacuna returns. She had spent the summer, the fall, the winter, and much of the spring atop the mountain. Things had not changed with the tribe. They still looked on her with distrust, but whenever she got the look, she stopped looking away. She met their eyes, and slowly, though they still saw her as a dragonblooded, there seemed to emerge what might seem like the slightest bit of acceptance. She still got their glances, but it started to become expected, more like a greeting, as in to say "Good morning fellow that I distrust. How are you, and how is your tea?". She would smile in the morning to that, taking in the aroma of her concoction. Maybe she did something right this time.


  #6  
Unread 16th of November, 2007, 19:08
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All she could see was red... all she could feel was lust... a lust for blood... a desire to kill. She swung her hammer again and again, feeling it connect, but not seeing what she hit. She was only interupted when she sensed a fresh target behind her. She turned as if some external force guided her, sending her after a fresh victim. She got no further than that when a mass collided with her from the side, knocking her to the ground. She tried to stand but a weight on her chest prevented it, she felt something grab her hair and pull her head back...

Shaedra sat up with a yell. It was night, the new moon was dark while the stars in the sky shone brightly, as if trying to do their best to make up for the moons absence. She sat forward leanning her arms on her knees and resting her head on her arms.

Vague dreams were all she had as memories of that horrible afternoon. Even now she could feel the horror of coming to, bloodied and battered with Tiden standing over her, ready to kill her. She remembered looking around, trying to figure out why Tiden was so enraged when she saw it, the broken, mangled form of what had once been one of their friends. She recognized the wounds on Icarus's body, they had come from a Goremaul. As if in disbelief she had raised her own and what she saw there shocked her even more. Blood and a few tattered strips of clothing clung to the end, testifying to her horrible deed.

After that they left the town, Shaedra had continued traveling with them for lack of anything better to do. But the attitude had changed, no one trusted her anymore, she barely trusted herself. They had repeatedly asked her what happened, but she knew her answers hadn't satsified them. She didn't know what had happened anymore than they did.

They traveled onward, entering the forrest, looking for the home of Tiden's mentor. During that time some of her friends had slowly started coming around, they began to talk to her, and soon they lost the shadow of fear from their eyes when they did so. But Shaedra still felt the fear; it had happened once, what was to stop her from losing control and killing them all.

In time they reached the village of the bear-men, where Tiden's mentor Shea'To lived. They stayed there for a while, trying their best to cope with what had happened. Gorthas had even asked for instruction in the ways of sorcery. She accepted, though she was a little hesitant. She knew her own skills in the Sorcerous arts were minimal at best, but she had agreed to teach him as much as she could.

Months passed, and soon Gorthas had learned everything he could from her. Shaedra again felt isolated, she still hadn't made peace with what she had done. So one night she had left, saying nothing to her companions, taking only her traveling gear and Kheervis. Silver Wind had trusted the Finest to her care, and Shaedra had no intention of betraying that trust. They began traveling through the forest, and Shaedra found she didn't really care where they went. Eventually their steps took her out of the forest, but she still felt no need to stop. She was searching for something, though she didn't know what. As she traveled she felt the days growing hotter and hotter, and now the position of the sun had told her they were traveling south, towards the lands of her birth.

They made their way into the desert, stopping only when they had to, and never in towns if they could avoid it. Further and further south they traveled, seeking answers, seeking forgiveness. Eventually they found themselves at the foot of some mountains. They had been traveling through the mountains for three days, and now she was leading Kheervis along the bottom of a narrow ravine. Suddenly the wind picked up, whipping through and around the mountains, blowing sand and dirt before it. Shaedra did her best to see through the blinding sand, but it was in vain, she heard Kheervis whicker behind her and Shaedra knew she needed to find shelter for them both, and fast.

Blindly she pushed onward, one hand on the ravine wall to guide her. It seemed like eternity but eventually her hand encountered emptyness. Luck was with her, they had found their way to a cave and it turned out to be big enough to hold both her and Kheervis. It was a few moments before she was able to look around. She could tell she was in a cave, but the angle for the light was all wrong to illuminate anything else. Outside she could hear the wind continuing to howl, so she decided to explore a bit. She reached inside and called forth a tiny spark of her essence, just enough to cause her Caste Mark to glow, giving her light to see by.

The cave was deeper than it had first appeared, and at the back Shaedra found rough hewn steps leading upwards. She followed them, leaving Kheervis tethered in the cave below with food and water. Eventually found herself in a larger cave, this one obviously man-made, and at one end was a single doorway. The door stood open, and the sand on the cave floor revealed that no one had walked here in a long time. Curious, Shaedra went through the door, there she found something she never expected. It looked as if at one time someone had once lived here, there were rooms with ancient beds and a kitchen, and a balcony that opened out to the outside world. Shaedra could see she was high, probably within one of the mountain peaks, though the steps leading up had been so gradual she hadn't realized exactly how far up she had been climbing. It looked as though someone had ransacked the entire place, leaving nothing of value behind. She continued exploring, traveling deeper into the mountain home. At one point she found her way out into a small grotto, with it's roof open to the sky. The floor was covered with grass, small trees gew along the walls, and at one end was a small, clear pool of water, all in all it was beautiful. Faintly she could feel something pulling her elsewhere, and she sensed a feeling of great power. Finally she found herself in an enormous room, the roof of the room was made of a clear, glass-like substance she didn't recognize. Braziers along the walls burned with fires that seemed not to need wood to fuel them. Shaedra could feel the source of the power emanating from the room, something within her soul tenativly responded.

She spent many of the coming months within that chamber, meditating, ignoring everything but the bloom of power she had felt. She had left Kheervis in the open grotto, and as he had explored it she realized it seemed almost perfectly designed for a horse. During her time meditating she saw many things, she felt herself kill Icarus, again and again. Until his memory no longer brought her fear and remorse, but instead a desire to avenge him. Inside her soul she felt the bloom of power, like a fragile golden rose. And as the months passed she nurtured that flower, until it began to blossom. Finally it opened fully, revealing the true wonder of it's beauty. She never could remember what happened after that. She came back to herself, feeling as though years had passed but something inside herself told her it had only been a few months. She opened her eyes and stood, wincing as muscles long unused protested the sudden movement. As she stretched to relieve the soreness she noticed a second door into the room, a door that had not been there when started her meditations. Curious, she went over to investigate it. The door slid silently open at her touch revealing nothing but darkness. This only served to peak her curiousity even more.

Shaedra entered the room feeling her way forward carefully along the wall. Suddenly lights bloomed in the corners of the room, magical lamps fed only by essence. The light fell on a single room, along two walls were large bookcases filled from top to bottom with books and scrolls. The back wall held a single ornate desk, seemingly untouched by time. On the desk was a single scroll and a clear glass case. Inside the case were a couple of weapons that Shaedra had never seen before. Each was a little over two and a half feet long made of fine, polished brass and elegantly carved wood. A bandolier of leather pouches sat beside the strange weapons. Shaedra unrolled the scroll and to her surprise found that it was infact two scrolls rolled together. The first one was clearly a letter while the second held illustrations and some sort of instructions. Acting on impulse, Shaedra read the letter:


Greetings Sun Child,

That you are reading this means one thing. My time has passed, my life has come to an end, as I knew it likely would. My name is not important, and has probably been lost to the mists of time. What is important is the knowledge contained in these scrolls and in this library. I am a student of the Righteous Master, one of the few he has taught the martial arts of the Righteous Devil to. He created this style to elevate the simple Firewand to a weapon of beauty and power. But he is a jealous and unforgiving master, even now he has summoned me to his Manse, I do not know why but I fear the worst. I sense that a dark time is approaching, one that may spell the doom of all the Sun Children.

I, however, refuse to let this style pass into obscurity. I am a Child of the Unconquered Sun, one of the Twilight Caste, and it is my duty to preserve what knowledge I can. So I have written what very well may be the only record of this style, though it is against my Masters wishes.

I know this library will only reveal itself to a worthy Sun Child. Therefore, I give you this duty. If you are able, I ask you to learn this style and take it back out into the world. If you are not able, but you know of one who is, please take these scrolls and the case to that person. Lastly, if you can do neither of these, please leave the case and the scrolls intact, so that the next person to happen upon this library might read my words.

The second scroll is my instructions on the Righteous Devil Style, and the case contains two Firewands as well as firedust and ammo for them both. Please guard them well.



She rolled the letter up again and spent a moment lost in thought at it's contents. Then she opened the glass case and picked up one of the two Firewands, it fit well into her hand, and a quick glance at the second scroll showed her the basic use of it. Intrigued she read the second scroll more thourougly, the simplest of the charms described how to use her essence to enhance her aim with the Firewand. Unconsciously she felt herself mimicing the form described, the forms felt awkward at first, but she was determined to honor the ancient Twilight's words. She spent the next few weeks practicing the new martial arts form and becoming accustomed to using the Firewands. She also spent time reading through books in the library. She found scrolls describing new and more powerful sorceries than she currently knew, and books covering the crafting of weapons, armor, and other items from Orichalcum. One small book, in particular, stood out for her. It described methods and theories for crafting Firewands out of Orichalcum. She absorbed as much of the knowledge as she could, and packed some of the books in her backpack for further study. She also took the scrolls that were next to the case, the Firewands, and the bandolier. As she left the room for the last time she heard the door slide shut behind her, and as she turned she was only barely able to distinguish it from the wall.

Shaedra took Kheervis and left the mountain Manse that had sheltered them for so long and began their long journey north and east. From the growth of the vegitation around the entrance to the Manse, Shaedra guessed almost a year had passed since she had found it, so it was high time she found her Circle again.


Shaedra shaded her eyes and checked the sun, making sure she was still traveling in the right direction. In the deep desert it could be hard to tell at times. She nodded once, to herself, and kicked Kheervis lightly to start him walking again. She still felt a thrill of honor that Silver Wind had left Kheervis in her care so long ago. The two of them had been traveling for a few weeks now since leaving the Manse, and Shaedra was getting anxious to see everyone again. Kheervis sides heaved as the Finest panted underneath the sweltering sunlight. His silver coat shined brightly as he followed his training and starting trotting carefully through the loose sand. His silvery sheen glittered brilliantly in the sunlight as he beared the greater weight of Shaedra on his back, but he did not seem perturbed by the extra weight. Nor by the golden arms and armor she wore.

Shaedra felt Kheervis panting and pulled his reins gently to stop him. She dismounted and got out her waterskin and a bowl for Kheervis. She filled the bowl and set it on the ground to let him drink his fill. When he was done she took the reins in her hand and led him on foot, so as not to tire him out any more than needed. Kheervis followed Shaedra willingly, offering no resistance to her pull, unlike when they had originally started on their journey. He seemed to be having trouble moving through the shifting sands with his hooves, but diligently pushed forward. Shaedra could tell that Kheervis was struggling through the sand, but she knew the only solution was to head further north, towards the cities where the sand was mixed with rock. So onward she led him, trying to take as good care of him as Silver Wind always had.

Eventually they came to the outskirts of a small village. Shaedra hesitated at the edge of the town, debating whether to go in or not, but a look at Kheervis's sweat covered flanks and the way he hung his head decided her. She took his reins a bit more firmly in her hands and headed into the village with her head held high. She saw the glances from the villagers, but she wasn't surprised by them. She knew it wasn't often a strange woman walked into the village carrying a massive golden hammer and leading a magnificent silver horse. She led Kheervis to the nearest watering trough and let him drink his fill, while nearby a small market bustled. Shaedra let Kheervis finish drinking as she negotiated for some bread from a nearby vendor. She could tell the towns people were nervous about her, and she only hoped that no one would tell the Dragonblooded she had been here. That would have caused serious problems for her. Shaedra finished buying supplies in the town and headed out, she didn't want to draw any more attention than she already had. Outside the town she and Kheervis resumed their trek northeast.

Shaedra and Kheervis traveled through the night, trying to cover as much distance as possible. As the sun rose she saw some hills in the diestance, and as she drew closer she could see a robed figure standing at the top of one, apparently waiting for something or someone. She reached the foot of the hill and started up it. Soon she was close enough to see the person clearly. It was a young man, he seemed vaguely familiar, but Shaedra couldn't figure out why. He wore loose robes and a straw hat over his wavy, shoulder length black hair. Shaedra decided to just keep walking, if the man at the top of the hill wanted to talk to her she wasn't going to stop him. But she saw no reason to stop and introduce herself incase she was misremembering him.

As the Shaedra passed alongside the strange man he reacted in the blink of an eye. His hand grasped his sword, and in one quicksilver motion, he positioned the blade, sheath and all, so as to block the her path. His eyes remained unseen under the straw hat while the small passing breeze caused his robes to flutter about and his demeanor remained tranquil all throughout.

Shaedra reacted almost instantly to the percieved threat. She dropped Kheervis's reins and raised her goremaul to rest on her shoulder in one smooth motion. She turned to face the man, unsure of what he wanted. "Can I help you?"

The man spoke, his voice mirroring his bodily posture. His words had a poetic feel to them, a strange sense of flow that one would not expect from a swordsman. "Near two years past this day, you slew a wounded man and injured a child. There was a woman in your presence."

Shaedra looked at the man in confusion. "Sorry, I'm not sure what you are talking about."

He raised an eyebrow at this statement, however the motion was unseen under the cover of the straw hat. He returned his sword to its former place at his side, and turned about to face away from Shaedra, his black hair swaying with the movement. He continued. "The man's body lay crushed and broken in a pool of his own blood. The child lay against a mound of dirt, battered and bruised, yet willful."

Shaedra's expression hardened, "You are talking about Icarus and Kami. Why? Who are you?"

"It is of no consequence," He replied. His words were void of emotion, and his posture remained still and unchanging like the flow of time. "The woman. Her skin was a shade of ivory and cream, her hair black as the night itself. An amulet hung from her neck with a mirror embedded in its core."

Shaedra fought hard to remain calm, "I have no idea who you are speaking of, I saw no woman. But I ask you again, who are you? And what interest do you have in me?"

"I see," The responded. His voice was icy. "I will tell you when your memory serves you better." A gale built up, washing over the top of the hill, and the man vanished in the blink of an eye.


Shaedra looked around, confused as realization suddenly dawned on her, memories of a soft voice, and mesmerising eyes. She looked around once more, hoping that strange man hadn't gone too far, "Wait!" She called, "This woman you speak of... I did see her... she spoke to me, but I don't remember what she said... do you know who she is?"

The robed man reappeared suddenly in the same spot he had vanished from, as if he had not moved whatsoever. He turned to face Shaedra, lifting his chin up to look directly at her. The guise of his straw hat gone and his features were now clearly visible. His face was like chiseled granite, his expression inexorable. His eyes were icy and jagged, and his voice mimiced this as he answered Shaedra. "She is my sister, and you will tell me all you know of her."

Shaedra turned to face the man, hiding her surprise at his sudden reapearence. "I'm sorry, I don't know that much. That was the first and last day I ever saw her. I remember I was meditating, I think everyone else had gone off to do their own things. Then suddenly she was infront of me. She was very beautiful as I recall," Shaedra looked down, blushing a little at the memory of the lust the woman had kindled in Shaedra's soul, "then everything went dark. The next thing I remember Tiden was standing over me, ready to kill me, and Silver Wind was shouting at him to stop."


"I see," He said as he tilted his hat back down. "And you have not seen her since?"

Shaedra shook her head, "No I haven't. But I've been a little out of the loop since then I guess. I didn't even remember her until you mentioned her." Shaedra looked Kirin over, "Forgive me, but you don't exactly seem to be related to her. You seem like complete polar opposites."

The man turned away and cast his gaze over the horizon. His voice grew quiet as he spoke. "She serves the dead. Her soul has been lost."

Shaedra noded, "I see, I am sorry both of your losses." Shaedra's tone grew cold and resolved. "It is her fault that Icarus is dead, perhaps the Unconquered Sun will grant her mercy, for the next time I see her I will make her pay for what she did to Icarus."

Still facing away, he closed his eyes. In the moment he reopened them, he drew his sword and turned to face Shaedra in one fluid motion, his hat propped up once more. He stared daggers at Shaedra, his sword mere inches from her throat. As he spoke, his tone was as dark and cold as the bowels of Oblivion itself. "My sister is my burden alone. Do not attempt to interfere, should you value your life."

Shaedra backed up a single step and brought her hammer off her shoulder, holding it two handed in front of her, ready to defend herself should the man before her try anything. Her voice was calm, but her posture showed every muscle tensed in readiness. "I have not interfered in anything. But I have promised myself that I would see Icarus avenged. Either by my hand or anothers, it matters not to me. All I wish is to see that woman dead, so that she may never again visit such pain on others. If you get to her first then you are welcome to her, I understand that your hunt has gone on much longer than my own. But know this, should I find her before you I will send her on to the Unconquered Suns judgement."

"I spared your life once before," He replied. He rotated his blade so that a small notch was visible, a testimonial left by the impact of Shaedra's weapon in their previous encounter. Essence exploded out of his forehead as his Caste mark flared to life, bathing the area in pearly light. "I will not do so once again. You tread upon waters you could not truly understand. Should you dare take from me this right bestowed on me by the Unconquered Sun himself, I will kill you."

Shaedra lowerd her hammer and bowed, "Very well, noble Night Caste. I accept your terms." As she rose from the bow she called her own Caste Mark into being, "If you are around next time I meet that woman I will allow you the honor of sending back to the great cycle. But if you are not and she does fall to my hand then my debt to Icarus will be paid. Should you still desire to fight me at that time I will accept, but I will not make your victory an easy one." She stopped speaking, momentarily lost in thought, "It seems that trouble follows myself and my Circle on a regular basis, if we have attracted the attention of your sister, perhaps she will be drawn to us again. If you wish, you may travel with me. I am heading back to meet up with my Circle, and I am sure they will welcome another blade against the forces that rally against us. I'm sure your other... talents... will be welcomed as well."

The man flicked his wrist, and his sword sliped upward, before curving about in an arc and was sheathed in one fluid motion. One of Shaedra's curls suddenly split. A single hair slowly floated to the ground, separated from the curl in one immaculate cut. "Do not forget what I have told you," he spoke as he turned away from her once more. "I do not work with others, nor do I need help. But our paths will cross again one day."

Shaedra lowered her goremaul further, till the head rested on the sand. She nodded curtly, seemingly unconcerned by the man's skill with his blade. "Very well, now if you will excuse me I must get back to my journey. I wish you luck in your Hunt."

The man did not respond as he walked off. His attention had clearly shifted elsewhere as he disappeared into the landscape.

Shaedra watched him leave then shrugged, she replaced her Goremaul on her shoulder and gathered Kheervis's reins and continued leading him back towards the forest. The stopped only once more, briefly, to watch a caravan holding a funeral for one of their own who had died.

Eventually they reached the edge of the forest and Shaedra knew their journey would soon be at an end, she led Kheervis under the trees, hoping she wouldn't get lost.
__________________


Last edited by Lyn Nalyr; 16th of November, 2007 at 19:33.
 

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