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RE: =EC 2018= Cellar Arena

 
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7/27/2018 22:13:06   
Riprose123
Member

Finthick pauses slightly at the new development. Calmly ignoring the commotion of the brawl at the far end of the arena, Finthick studied his opponent, taking in Voric’s reaction to their most recent clash. He was favoring his shocked leg, which was odd. His other foot was held at an angle, and small streams of crimson had begun to pour out. Finthick wasn’t sure what had struck him, and a small amount of concern for his opponent began to leak into his mind, and he almost had expressed the feeling into words, before Voric growled, and Finthick was engulfed in white. He was completely blind within a moment, but it didn’t matter, as second later, his hearing picked up the heavy, powerful footsteps of a giant. Finthick lept to the side, expecting another charge, and blindedly kept moving until he had covered the length of the mini blizzard, his vision suddenly cleared of the powdering puffs and persistent precipitation. He eyed the blizzard curiously, but opted to let it pass, instead keeping his ears open for anymore indication of an attack.
DF MQ  Post #: 26
7/28/2018 23:59:13   
Dragonknight315
Member


Autumn’s chest tightened as the magic burned in her open palm, the light flaring wildly in its pure, unsettled form. Her eyes were fixed on the reptile and his emerald blade. Although Autumn did not want to shed blood, to cut down her opponents’ dreams, she knew there was a price for her salvation. Her guilt gave way to resolve as she stood firm with her sword held forward. If the two were to clash blades, then Autumn would do so without regrets.

The reptile did not advance, however, much to Autumn’s surprise. Instead, the swordsman spun with precision and faced the pillar’s edge. Her eyes swept right as his sword met the paladin’s flesh, but Autumn could not make out the depth of the wound; all she knew was that the knight was fortunate to have not lost a limb, especially so given the Cellar’s enchantment.

Autumn’s concern for the paladin ceased as a blur of motion sprinted in her view. The bard was now away from the pillar, his own sword stained with blood spots, and he was moving fast. Autumn scowled, furious at her own lack of awareness. This was the second time that she had let someone slip closer. She couldn’t fight with her focus divided; she needed to cripple one of them now.

As the bard reached with his right arm, Autumn pulled her blade flat against her chest and ducked low. As she did so, the light in her hand had coalesced, not into a sphere, but into a thin, diamond-like spike. Autumn quickly moved her fingers against the blade’s center, the spike jutting out from underneath. Her nerves were on fire as Autumn snapped on the side of her tongue before pushing the blade up against the bard’s waist. As the spike met his armor, it slipped through without harm, disappearing into his body.

Feel my pain, my will to live!

Autumn’s wrists ached as she braced against her blade, the bard’s advance pushing her back and on her heels. Although Autumn was in no way capable of toppling the bard, she sought to disrupt his balance as their pain, every ounce of it, awoke in each other. This was the opening she needed to end this game.



The streets of Brazscov were empty as the snow fell. Months ago, the town was full of life — the laughter of children, hammers thudding against wood, merchants shouting as they lined each and every corner. But the harvest was over, and Winter came. Few dared to leave their homes unless absolutely necessary ‘lest the cold claim them.

On this particular night, the cold sheer was at its cruelest. The wind howled as the breeze cut through the clothed figure like a sword. With every step, her heels sunk into the snow with a guttering crunch. She continued forward, seemingly unphased, one step at a time until she came upon the cathedral doors.

As the figure stepped into the cathedral, she was greeted by half a dozen of the clergy and staff. Truthful be told, the grand building was more akin to a healer’s guild than anything else. No god was worshiped here; all that the townsfolk would find between the stained-glass windows were healers and their tools. That was not to say the place was devoid of spirit. Instead of worshipping a god, the clerics worshipped life itself. Farmers, artisans, nobles — anyone was encouraged to join the church, even those without magic. As the church flourished, so did Brazscov.

Autumn took off her heavy coat and cap. She handed them to the nearest member, the servant bearing it like a child. As she made her way forward, Autumn’s took note of the newer members. all of their gazes fixated on her hair. She was the youngest of the inner clergy, just barely of age. So it’s true, they whispered, Brazscov’s finest. To many of the townsfolk, her hair was some kind of divine sign. Long and bright like a ray of light during Autumn. It was her namesake, and to everyone else, it would be her legacy. She hated the stares and the praise; she was simply performing her destiny, nothing more. But at the same time, the story of an orphaned girl turned miracle worker was an inspiration to many. She found comfort in this thought, knowing that many had flocked to the town due to her presence.

“Autumn!” One of the inner clergy was frantically waving next to the staircase. The elder was dressed in nightclothes, sweat rolling down his flushed cheeks. As Autumn approached the foot of the steps, she bowed low. “High-priest Zora, you summoned me?”

“Cut the formalities for now, Autumn. Where where you?!” One of the recruits spilled his drink, fearing not only the sharp voice but the person it was intended for. Autumn pulled herself up and stared into the man’s eyes, much to the priest’s discomfort. “. . . I was on a walk.”

The elder moved to say something but instead sighed, not willing to continue. “Regardless-” The main beckoned her forward, and the two descended. Wooden walls gave way to dark stone and metal as they moved down. “Earlier today, one of the recruits found a girl unconscious near the edge of town. Young, red-redhead. Coated in blood, but still breathing. Brought her in to try and treat her wounds.”

“At first, everything was a success. She was patched up and walking just fine,” he stopped and turned to look Autumn in the eye before continuing. “Not too long after, she started to move uncontrollably, curses flying with every breath. It was unmistakable—”

“A possession,” Autumn interrupted. “From one of the cultists?”

The priest nodded. “Nothing we’ve done has worked. If anything, it’s made the whole situation worse, the girl growing more furious with every failed attempt. She nearly killed-”

The spirit nearly killed one of the priests.” She corrected the elder. “I will deal with this.”


The door was pulled shut behind her, and Autumn could hear the bolt locking her in. Autumn turned to observe the possessed woman. In the far back, the crimson-haired girl was shackled by her arms to the wall, her wrists bloodied from her previous furies. At first, the girl was silent, pressed against the wall like a corpse. As Autumn drew close, she could hear her breathing, sickly like a child with plague. Autumn figured they were close in age, much to her dismay. The youth suffered the worse when it came to possessions; where older figures were likely to recover, the others were not so fortunate.

When Autumn was a few feet from her, however, the figure opened her green eyes and leaped towards her, only to be jerked back by the chains. Blood dripped from her teeth as she screamed like a wild animal. “THE LIGHT! THE LIGHT!” She spat the blood in Autumn’s face before pulling on the chains, attempting to break them with all her might. Autumn remained unflinching, however, wiping away the tainted blood. Autumn reached out towards the girl and touched her face, and a bright light suddenly flared from her hands.

“I want to live. . I want to live!”

It that moment, it was as if the world faded away until nothing remained but Autumn and the girl. Light clashed with dark, and Autumn could feel the beast’s unholy thoughts as they pushed into her. She felt the overwhelming darkness push against her, a deep void, the deepest she had ever felt. The spirit clawed at her soul, attempting to fight back.

“I will take her life! I will take her place!”

Autumn held firm, however, the light glowing around her body. “You who seek life by claiming it. . . unforgivable! Through my light, find peace in annihilation!” All at once, the light erupted from her body, enveloping the room an a blinding luminescence. By the time the elder had unbolted the door and stepped in, Autumn was holding the weeping girl in her arms.

“It’s okay. . . I’m here. You’re here now—”
AQ DF AQW  Post #: 27
7/29/2018 21:36:26   
deathlord45
Member

Grunting in pain, Voric, barely followed Finthick’s movements within the blizzard. It was a useful power but it had its downsides with how much it limited his vision. Pushing through the lancing searing pain that ran up his right leg and the numbing cramping feeling in his left, Voric walked after his opponent readying his axe to make a swing at Finthick.

I need to take things slowly against this one. Might give me some small edge against such a nimble man.

Seeing the vague form of Finthick within the blizzard he braced himself leading with his left leg Voric made a mighty thrust with the blade facing to slash one of Finthick’s legs.
AQ DF MQ AQW  Post #: 28
7/29/2018 23:20:06   
Kellehendros
Eternal Wanderer


Leikata met its target and Aurinko pulled the cut, torquing his wrists to keep the blade steady against the resistance of his foe’s opposing movement. Blood flowed down the phosphorescent emerald blade as the Kaarme Phry shifted his weight to rock back to his feet. He was uncertain how deep the strike had gone, but the herald was a large specimen; it would take more than one blow to lay him low.

Aurinko began to rise, fully intending to address that particular matter, when a line of fire raced up his spine. Biting down on a curse, the swordsman spun as he staggered upright and darted a glance over his shoulder. There was a spike sticking out of his tail, about a third of the way down its length. There was an inch or so of bloodied metal visible, crimson fluid welling from the gash where the flechette had cracked through scale and bitten into the flesh below. Grimacing, the Kaarme turned his attention back to his opponent. The weapon had not come from the herald, and both the aged warrior and hooded woman were occupied with their own affairs. Which meant one of the others was taking a hand; the most likely culprit was the little one, who had thus far evaded widespread notice.

The swordsman had observed the small creature when the competitors had first filtered into the foyer, making a connection between it and the stories of the Lightsplitter he had heard bruited about the markets and taverns of Bren. Aurinko had given the minute entrant little thought though, and as was the way of things, now he was paying for it. Of course, there was not a great deal that the Kaarme Phry could do about the marksman at range, and the greater part of his attention was currently occupied with his horned antagonist. As satisfying as returning the little one's attentions might be, for now all he could do was keep the creature in mind and try not to focus too intently on the foe before him.

Reptilian eyes narrowed as he squared up his stance, watching the large man ready himself for another assault. The herald held his blade was held in one hand, out and back. Another sweeping blow. There was no bellowing declaration from the strongman this time as he closed, but there was blood seeping from the wound on the big man’s leg. Not enough to indicate serious damage to the limb, but enough had found its way onto the Kaarme’s blade to suit his needs.

The bruiser came in with a rising slash, and Aurinko swayed gracefully aside, avoiding the strike without giving ground, angling his head as the blade hissed by. His teeth ground together at the flash of pain from his wounded tail the movement evoked, but it was better than losing his head. Liquid sizzled on stone, flung from the apparently enchanted blade, but the Kaarme was spared a second set of boiling splashes this time. The leg wound didn’t appear to be slowing his opponent much, because the sword strike was fluidly followed up by the horned foe planting his weight on the limb and kicking out with his left leg. This time the Kaarme Phry surrendered his position, sliding back out of the range of the kick, which left him very little room to maneuver. The pillar was but a pair of paces from the swordsman’s back, and his adversary’s free hand was rising to catch the hilt of the lofted blade in preparation for a devastating overhead strike.

But Aurinko had no intention of standing to receive the attack. Quick-stepping to the right, the Kaarme angled Leikata’s curved blade to shed the blow as he turned side-on to the herald.

And then, to the crowd’s perspective, the unthinkable happened.

His foe’s sword swept down, meeting the verdant light of the Kaarme Phry’s blade. There was a moment of resistance, and then the heavier man’s sword bit into Leikata. But Aurinko was not watching, even as several drops of boiling something splashed his scales. His head was turning, looking away, eyelids screwing shut as the magically-bound photons comprising the weapon came apart in a soundless burst of dazzling prismatic light. To those watching, it probably seemed like a star had suddenly burst apart.

Aurinko’s voice rose on the heels of the light surge, a ringing crescendo that would mark his position to any who had been blinded by the flash. “Though sword be shattered, and shield be shivered, still Dawn’s Vengeance falls upon the night!”

Leikata, fed by the horned man’s blood, blazed into argent radiance. Rising in a perfect vertical slash, the weapon found a seam between two rays of light and cut, vanishing into empty space inch by inch as it sank deeper into the null-space between the rays. The shock of it reverberated up the Kaarme’s arms, a sensation like taut canvas peeling away to either side of the blade. Wasting nary a second on hesitation, the swordsman hurled himself through the void even as his opponent was hopping backwards to recover from his final strike.

There was a moment of wrenching dislocation, the feeling of cold pressure and distant nausea, the costs of violating the normal rules governing space and time. And then Aurinko was back, having leapt to the other side of his foe. Leikata’s katana-length blade sang through the air as the Kaarme Phry whirled, angling a turning cut down at the back of the herald’s injured right leg.

Wind blown,
cloud screen scudding away
unveiling sun
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 29
7/30/2018 9:31:43   
Caststarter

Ether-knight of DF Q&A/EDBalance


As the groomed man waited, the dark mist grew ever darker, potency growing as time goes on. The final recollections he was concerned about began to make their theatrical return. The next one, the living man standing off against the ever so familiar faceless figure. Two armies faced each other as well, paralyzed by the dark mist. “Varn, I know what Michel is up to. However, I still must face you in person, even after all this time.” There, he donned the armor he used when he was a paladin. Cracked, but it kept its resolve through a rebellion of blood and tears.

As the faceless figure moved forward, his morningstar and spiked shield dripped with misty blood. He simply stared at the living man, with no malice nor benevolence, but content with how things turned out.

“So I see you understand. Let us do one more duel, as friends.” The living man raised his blade and shield. The blade shined with a golden light, undeterred by what it faced. Practically leaping off of his feet, the faceless figure dashed forward with tremendous speed. The living man then began to sing in response, a story of lost turning into gain.

When Tyrfing’s land was obtained,

The faceless figure then drew close, swinging his blood drooling morningstar with vigor towards the living man’s skull. The living man however shifted where his shield clashed against the weapon, cracking at the blow.

Three demons plagued the country,

As the living man shifted around the faceless figure, he slashed with the clean edge of his blade to the faceless figure’s less than ideally armored waist, but his opponent then knocked it aside with his shield.

Sapping the land dry and decayed,

Weapon raised, the faceless figure’s shield began to shed mist, as if in this world it actually rusted. He slammed forward, knocking against the living man’s chest, blood tinged the living man’s garbs. The shield then formed a ring of misty blood, but the living man in turn pushed through the pain as he sang.

He too was weaken by the darkness,
But his tactical wit prevailed,


Determined to put a stop to the duel, the faceless figure channeled holy energy into his weapon. He swung once more, divine devotion guiding him as he attacked. Yet the living man gave no quarter, as he rushed forward with his shield, where the morningstar once more smashed against it. This time, this was the shield’s final blow, as it shattered where the morningstar kept its momentum as the spikes scrapes the living man at the eye. Yet he pushed on, where the living man then tackled the faceless figure to the ground.

For he used the demons’ power against them

Upon the final note of his verse, the living man’s blade shifted to a disturbing black, where it now dimmed the area. The faceless figure hurried himself up, where allowing a moment to past, the living man began to sing once more, undaunted still.

The demons destroyed the castle walls,
In one final stand, his spirit dimmed slightly,
For fate caught up to him,


The faceless figure merely stood there a bit, dumbfounded, but the urge for violence welled up within him. He rushed forward with one last attempt to end the confrontation as well as the rebellion itself. The living man darted to the side, as he wrapped his arm around the faceless figure’s shield-bearing arm. The faceless figure struggled to get free, but the living man would not budge.

The god could live no more,
But he pushed on, destroying the demons,
The curse lifts, but his soul destroyed.


Before the verse could end, the living man raised his blade for all to see. It began to glow bright, as searing holy light burst from the blade. The faceless figure reared his head back, blinded. Taking the opportunity, the living man let go and swung his clean blade true at the waist once more. It dug, where no blood spilled down on the ground.

The faceless figure, still alive, collapsed to one knee, panting on the ground. The living man in turn knelt down, blood covering where the now gone eye used to be. Pain seared, as his face warped and grimaced. Hand as a talon, he grasped at the wound, wobbling as he began to stand up once more.

Was the pain done? Was it finally all over? No, when the distinct huffs of horses drew near. As the living man turned, his sole eye bore witness to the dark man himself. “Michel, you knew this would be the result of this battle, haven’t you?”

The dark man, garbed in a coat, trousers, and hat, stroked his triangular beard as he mockingly glared at the living man. “Of course. I knew you couldn’t pass this opportunity up, for friendship with the enemy is one of the easiest things to abuse. I am sorry to say, but your rebellion shall now crumble. While you were busy with your duel, I surrounded your crippled army with no hope for escape.”

The living man however merely let go of his face, standing defiantly, simply only taking in the sound of voices and wind around him.. “You say that, but I am afraid that a statement has still been made.”

The dark man merely chuckled at the retort, very much amused. “Hence why you are now deferred to as a bandit by the people themselves! Your message of hope and justice? Snuffed out like the candle flame it was meant to be. The only result you made was death and the soon to be made forbiddance of the worship of Tyrfing! His followers truly are going to be seen as fanatical, as a follower of him was the one to make this rebellion a reality. Wonderful job, Michalis. You doomed your god to become yet another obscure mark in history.”

“I standby that the people won’t believe you.”

“Fool! You are deluded by your sense of ideals and justice! People died under your cause! Vascole brought prosperity to the countries surrounding it! People are better off than ever, as many of the other rulers were corrupt themselves!”

The living man however still stood, unwilling to submit. The dark mist around him grew darker as they made a push, almost reaching him. “And yet despite all that, why did military officials and more despite their own god joined under me? You think I am the only one that mattered? Michel, you forgot one detail, and it is that we were in this together. Bring me down, another will rise up. The chance to stop this madness will be recorded in history, where many more will follow. Maybe even someone quite deep in the Vascole social hierarchy. I may have failed this rebellion, but I have succeeded in showing my faith to the world. You think you will be able to outlaw Tyrfing? I am sorry, but you forget that it is near impossible to do such a thing without even more revolt. Do it, and the other faiths will turn against you.”

Almost on cue, misty arrows flew forward. Before a stray arrow could strike the dark man, one of his own subordinates darted inbetween, shielding him from almost certain death. Before he could focus and regain his composure, the dark man held up a book in response before noticing that the living man was far ahead of him now on horseback. “After him, do not allow him to break through the line!”

Yet the living man, along with the remnants of his men, rushed forward. The mist collapsed, just to show the next moments where the living man and his men charged through a weakly defended line of spears. The opposition was peppered by arrow fire in order to help clear the path, now bygone soldiers disappearing within the mist. The living man did not look back as he rode forward, clearing the dark mist that was in front of him.

The mist then dissipated into the chaotic swirls once more, where the groomed man was alone. “Indeed, I was not outlawed. Of course, it would not have mattered in the slightest. It is quite strange that I am worshipped as something that I am not. However, if it gives others the aspiration they need to forge a rightful path in life, then so be it. I am content with that fact. Well Michalis. The end of this chapter is coming to a close. What will the chapter’s epilogue bear? Well, I know of course. However, it is nice to revisit all of this once more. Impress me once more with your light. Please do.”




Soldiering onwards, he came up to the woman. As he reached out with his arm, she ducked, where in turn he accidentally slammed into her as he came to a full stop. He cocked an eyebrow at the sheer recklessness and trepidation his opponent consistently done. Now she brought herself to her heels, an event that can truly be devastating if she wasn’t able to hurry herself up.

Even in youth, what could drive her to be so reckless? Could it be the wish; where in turn she was hiding something? A fear so great she wished to erase it? Even if he did not know the circumstances behind it, as a paladin of Tyrfing, he had the remedy, dreadful it could be. She would be able to face her fears and find not only justice, but peace as well.

As the light of his blade shed into mere orbs that swiftly vanished, the golden shine now in view once more, he lifted up his weapon in cue of a bright flash of light from the corner of his eye. There, he spoke a new verse, one with a powerful meaning, one that he wish not to be used outside of necessary circumstances.

Revived, the demons sought-

He grimaced and reeled back. Pain within him swelled up. Aches and a truly painful sensation on his tongue. The pain, the pain that he thought was now gone when he lost his eye. As he clenched his fist, he simply stared at the still-reeling woman for a brief moment. He swung his blade to the side harmlessly, as he closed his remaining eye, pushing through it all.

“If you were the cause of all that pain, it certainly brought back memories. However, unbeknownst to you, I have pushed through pain in pursuit of my ideals and goals. Pain that no mere mortal should’ve been spared by. I shall push on, in order to soar once more where the people of Vascole can find the hope to combat despair. Perhaps even you.”

Within him, the desire to sail the rightful course gave him the inspiration to ride through the painful sea. His voice carried a hint of hope, an audible light for all to hear.

Revived, the demons sought revenge,
Killing his wife and children but one,
The demon army twisted the land,


It took longer than normal, but despite it all, he kept going. The pain however would make attempts at an offensive difficult as he went to complete his verse. He leaned forward, keeping to a defensive stance with the blade raised above him, pointing diagonally down. It shall be the woman’s move now, where he shall send his message to the world once more.
DF  Post #: 30
7/30/2018 21:02:09   
Ronin Of Dreams
Still Watching...


Another shot, another strike. Yet this one had been poorly placed, having insufficiently accounted for the accidental protections of a thick, swaying tail. In the best case scenario, he imagined it would be a source of painful irritation for the warrior - not the ideal strike he needed given his limited ammunition. Lodesh-Tinphair grit his teeth and mentally admonished himself; he would have to do better. His upbringing demanded that much.

”But where is the fun in that?” Again, that voice, achingly familiar in his head but unrecognizable, its tone still gently chastising the young construct as Lodesh-Tinphair continued to observe Aurinko. The fur along his hackles rose with his annoyance at the interruption. ”You fight by training and instinct, but where are you in this? I see a Thane with no experience, not a free-spirited youth of blended blood.” His frustration spiked, heart beating faster as anger loomed just around the corner even while memory scrolls twisted and electricity raced along neuron nets.

Thing was, the echo in his head was right.

In the distance, what little it actually was, Aurinko’s blade flashed with ever greater prominence. Filling the Arena with so much light that it overwhelmed his eyes, rays bouncing along every mirror and striking at every angle. He was blinded! And would be so for quite a while, his eyes screwing shut as he shifted to relying as much as possible on sound...but it wasn’t for the first time. Nor for the last, should he manage to return to play with the kits of the Menagerie and tell them tall tales indeed. His whiskers twitched in mirth, and if Lodesh-Tinphair could laugh aloud like a human, he would have filled the arena with a rich, deep belly laugh. Far from being a grand threat, Aurinko’s latest flair was quite the opposite - by blinding the construct, he had brought back playful memories and the welcome sensation of home.

He had grown up with Lightsplitters and mix-breeds. Playful, childlike, and mischievous as only ferrets can truly be, and with the total lack of restraint bourne of childlike innocence. This? A kit trick, and nothing more, to Lodesh-Tinphair’s utter delight! But he wasn’t a kit anymore, and that meant he wasn’t going to be dominated and bullied by such a silly little thing like being momentarily blinded.

It was time to be himself. He didn’t need to see to move, and so the little critter scurried with a speed far greater than paws should have been able to provide alone. Lodesh-Tinphair could fly, and though he kept to the ground, the eddies and whorls of air tickling at his belly fur felt magnificent! The construct bolted and braced, blinking hard and concentrating as much as possible upon the sounds around him. Shouts and taunts, the grunts and the chants. He took them all in, felt where they were along his fur as Hush inverted their phase and cancelled them out.

Then he hit the far wall in the corner, but rather than a shock of pain and anguish, he bounced. Bounced! With a force equal to the same precise amount he’d impacted with, he was knocked away from the corner. Lodesh-Tinphair scrambled to regain composure, not out of pain, but simply to stop himself from moving back the way he had come. Claws scuffed at the ground as he slid to a stop and reoriented himself. His vision was still exceptionally blurry, and aiming would be a very strong word for what he chose to do next…

...but it was with a ferretine grin that Lodesh-Tinphair rose high into the air, flipped over nose to tail, and shot his third flechette at head-height roughly towards Aurinko and Cadmooz. A little bit of painful payback from a former kit.
AQ  Post #: 31
7/31/2018 22:41:52   
joeyof98
Member

The light. That blinding light, like a miniature star exploding. So startled.was Cadmooz that he jumped a little farther than intended, seven feet away to be exact.

Luckily, Cadmooz had not been looking directly at the source, and his sword had been in the way. Still, it took a moment for him to see again. As he shook his head, he heard a tink against the side of his helm. Looking down, he was a small part-time object, presumably thrown by the little doesn't he had seen earlier.

A sudden appearance to his right startled him, siding him to jump to the left. At least, he would have jumped, if the blade had not come down on his boot, presumably aimed at his thigh before he had moved. He tripped instead, landing on his left side. He kicked out with his right boot at the fighter, having dropped his blade as he fell. Pushing himself up with his left hand, he reached for the attacker. He didn't like being forced into the defensive, and intended to regain rooting we going by throwing the warrior at their mutual ranger attacker.
Post #: 32
8/1/2018 0:07:38   
Dragonknight315
Member

As the bard regained his balance, Autumn wasted no time; instead of rising to her feet, she stepped back with her left foot and twisted her body, both hands on her sword’s grip. She sought to use this breathing room to cut into the bard’s knees. Autumn braced her mind as she readied her blade, fully aware of the consequences. If her plan worked, then the pain would return to Autumn, but it was the fastest way to humanely stop her opponent.

Before she could swing, however, the reptile shouted as a blinding light erupted around the arena, the thunderous clash of metal soon following. Autumn shut her eyes and stumbled back and to the right, managing a few steps before she tumbled to the ground.

Autumn clutched her face. At that moment, the flash’s source was irrelevant, missing from her thoughts; all Autumn could focus on was the pain. It pulsed like a fire. She opened her eyes, white flashes obscuring her vision as the bard began to sing.

“Revived, the demons sought-”

Suddenly, the bard stuttered and hissed. Even in her sore state, Autumn couldn’t help but sigh as her plan unfolded. Her pain was now his, and any harm dealt to him would echo to her. Granted, she hadn’t expected the blinding light, but she took cold comfort in knowing that neither she nor the bard were going anywhere for the moment.

“If you were the cause of all that pain, it certainly brought back memories. . .”

Autumn snapped her head towards the voice from above. She was speechless; how could the bard still be standing? The white was now fading away, restoring her vision and thus the world as the bard continued.

“However, unbeknownst to you, I have pushed through pain in pursuit of my ideals and goals. Pain that no mere mortal should’ve been spared by. I shall push on, in order to soar once more where the people of Vascole can find the hope to combat despair. Perhaps even you.”

Autumn pulled herself to her knees, her fingers tracing the blade’s edge until she found its hilt. As she clutched the weapon, Autumn mulled over the swordsman’s words. Pain? Hope? Despair?! Here Autumn was, desperately seeking to end her tragedy without creating another, and yet this stranger wanted to lecture her on ideals? What did he know of her? The bard spoke like a prophet, as if he held certain truth. Autumn had once embraced that same zeal in all of its splendor, but she knew that it was a cruel lie, all of it. All at once, it fell upon Autumn; the pain, the unceasing nightmares, the thought that not only death but nonexistence awaited her — all because she wanted to live. How could he possibly understand her despair?!

Oathbreaker!

Autumn trembled with rage as she rose, her eyes fixed to the floor as she spoke. “If you really want to save me—” Years of dormant regret swelled as her hate burned away any compassion or clarity with an unholy fury. It was simply to much. Now on her feet, Autumn pulled her gaze up to the bard, his song falling on now deaf ears, “—then lay down your blade and die.

Without hesitation, Autumn leaned to the left as she moved the jagged edge of her blade over her left forearm, tearing through the leather and into her own flesh. She carried the momentum around her in one motion, twisting the bloodied blade overhead as she clasped it with both hands. Autumn charged forward, ready to sweep the blade down into a horizontal slash to butcher the bard’s sides. The demon was free now, and there would be no stopping it.
AQ DF AQW  Post #: 33
8/1/2018 23:25:20   
Kellehendros
Eternal Wanderer


The herald, as it turned out, had rather strong legs. It was an impressive leap backwards given his size, and the height of the arc threw off Aurinko’s aim. Leikata’s silver blade connected solidly just above the big man’s ankle; it grated off the armored plates encasing the limb with a metallic scring, as though the sword were steel rather than hardened light. That was followed by the clattering and clashing of plate against stone as the Kaarme’s horned adversary crashed to the stone floor, liquid-throwing blade ringing as it fell free of his hand.

Advancing on the strongman, Aurinko noted the fallen weapon in the periphery of his vision and shifted slightly to settle one taloned foot on its hilt. A swift flick of his foot was enough to send his opponent’s weapon skittering away, though pain flashed up his spine as the motion jarred his injured tail. The sword slid vaguely in the direction of the battered veteran; the old man was singing again, but the swordsman had enough to handle without taking notice of the other entrant’s words. Besides, the blade’s path was more a matter of convenience than any hope one of the others nearby would step on its edge and injure themselves. Disarm secured. Close for-

Aurinko sidled left as he brought Leikata back up to Sentry’s Watch; skirting the reach of the herald’s wounded leg as the prone man kicked out, he reminded himself that “disarmed” did not mean the same thing as “not dangerous”. His adversary followed up by levering his bulk off the floor with one hand and reaching out with the other. An odd tactic, given that the kick had the effect of driving the Kaarme Phry back - though he would not complain of the opportunity afforded by the over-extension.

Take the opening. The swordsman lifted his blade as the herald reached for him, eyes narrowing. Aurinko let his right leg slide back, turning slightly into Falcon Descends. Gritting his teeth against another flare of pain from his wounded tail, he leaned his weight forward and struck. Leikata hissed down in an argent streak accompanied by Aurinko’s focused kiai of effort.

Armor was always a compromise, a careful balance of vital protection offset by the need to move freely. The Kaarme had seen all manner of armors in his time: magnificent plates of steel, crudely tanned hides, carefully tooled leather, cunningly joined lames, natural scales and chitin. He had seen them pristine and new, well-oiled and maintained, and scarred with the tell-tale marks of battle. But no matter the substance and condition, each had shown the same unfortunate tradeoff - they were thinner at the joints, a limitation that neither nature's hand nor armorer's skill could remedy entirely. So Aurinko did not aim his blow at the grasping hand, but at the joint behind it, where two carefully articulated pieces of metal grew slimmer so that the herald would be able to move his hand to wield his own blade.

Leaves fall.
Trees stretch out, bereft, clawing
handless at the skies.
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 34
8/1/2018 23:45:57   
Riprose123
Member

Finthick growled lowly as the blizzard moved, presumably with Boric’s own movement, and engulfed him yet again. He Looked about alertly, glad that the blizzard had blinded the giant just as much as it did him. Finthick stood near still as Voric approached him, and moved deftly when he made a low slash at Finthick’s legs. His body moving with whipcord speed, his nearest leg lifted, moving away like small animals from a heavy storm. For a split second, time seemed to move slowlwe as Finthick’s speed let his foot come down, meeting the cold axe blade in mid swing. He drive upward with it, launching himself off the ground. The swing continued, however, slipping underneath his guard and running a shallow but immensely painful cut on the underside of his other foot. His momentum carried him upwards, so far that he was just over the giant’s head, and he used his time and height advantage to deliver three swift, strong blows to the giant’s face, each one carrying a relatively weak, but annoying shock. He landed heavily on his cut foot, wincing at the immense cold of the wound, noting, however, that he could ignore the pain somewhat if he kept most of his weight off that foot.

< Message edited by Riprose123 -- 8/2/2018 8:59:44 >
DF MQ  Post #: 35
8/2/2018 0:07:48   
Caststarter

Ether-knight of DF Q&A/EDBalance


There, Michalis stood and braced for what would come next. An assault? More magic? “If you really want to save me-”, his opponent spoke up for the first time. As the woman rose, he gripped his blade all the harder, unwilling to commit to an offensive. “-then lay down your blade and die.” This is not a right state of mind. Was this poor soul’s past so wretched, that they abandoned the idea that anything can be done outside of a wish? He, in turn, shall not commit to any degree of personal hostility. “Why should I force someone to try and see my viewpoint? I personally believe that leads nowhere but broken bones.” He said that once, he shall commit to that statement. His next actions are to not force what he thinks; merely to provide a possible light for the soul before him.

Before he could ruminate on the matter further, his opponent swiftly dug into her own arm and raised her blade overhead. At which point, she charged forward furiously, swinging aiming to truly settle the matter. As pain then jolted into his own arm, he levied his blade and blocked with the serrated edge, nudging it forward to reduce the shock. The pain then grew worse as the two blades collided, causing Michalis to step back a bit to alleviate the opposing force.

Forcing it to become one of shadow,

The cut into her forearm, where it was in the same spot his own pain grew. Whatever what she did earlier, her pain was to be his now. Yet, in his mind, her pain to her had no meaning if it was simply to inflict it onto him. The pain for him however suggested a tortured soul who had a terrible fate, a soul unable to find inner rest. Despite the aggressive nature and suggestion to merely die, he shall keep to his goal from before. He shall provide the aspiration one must need to tackle such a seemingly insurmountable goal.

Spiritless, the land was a pertinent dusk,

As the woman’s blade pushed against his, he planted his feet like stone. Like the boisterous wind of his homeland, a wind filled with vigor and force, he pushed back suddenly, shifting his weight around to provide leverage. He moved forward, pushing his opponent back, as he slid his blade to hopefully have his opponent’s to continually knock against the serrated edge. With a wide swerve overhead, he attempted to force his opponent’s arm to become unstable and leave her completely open as he went for a bash to the chest with his pommel. Through this entire ordeal, the pain still came. Yet he still pushed forward, unwilling to kneel or submit.

The cursed god however, was more than that!

The final line of his verse sang throughout, filled with an ominous mystery to it all. In contrast, his blade shined brightly, shine seemingly elongated. His cloak, attire, and armor all visually renewed, almost as if they were never damaged. His lost eye now flickered into existence, albeit disappearing and reappearing from one moment to the next.

The arena was still there including the ever so familiar hypnotic lights, but images of broken weaponry, skeletons in fractured armor, all the worst images of warfare flooded his surroundings. The arena lights themselves mimicked the light of the blood moon to his eyes. To him, in the distance, sat a man on top of a throne with a decorative and gaudy military cap and clothes, leaning his head against his knuckle as he sat pompously. To his side stood a man in a double button coat and fancy trousers, all dark in appearance. In front of him was his best friend, in the Order of the Just Cavalry’s regal armor, consisting of teal garbs and a top of the line brigandine.

The Vascole emperor Nicholas, Vascole astrologist, diviner, and advisor Michel, leader of the Order of the Just Cavalry Varn. The emperor laughed triumphantly, Michel mockingly glared, his friend merely looked down to the ground in shame. Behind him was a desperate and tearful voice, one long gone. “You failed… I am gone. Why didn’t you stop? Why did you commit to the rebellion, father?” Arrows from beyond then rained down, passing through him harmlessly.

He stood a silent brief moment, eyes closed once more just to take in the sounds around him as his head tilted up to the illusory sky. In his mind, the past is the past. While his son is gone, tortured in a horrible form no doubt, he shall make things right soon enough. If he sulked, then how would justice be done? His son will be put to rest. Just not now.

He also could feel his heart sank, a void that lost any hope. Yet, this was not by him. A true paladin of Tyrfing does not simply be overwhelmed by illusory fears. Considering the pain from before, he knew the true source. His opponent felt it all, this is what she exactly felt. It wasn’t anger. It wasn’t pain. Simply a void.

“Is this what you truly feel like? A void with seemingly no future outside of the wish? If so, merely look at me! I am your objective here! Forget what your surroundings indicate for they only mean something if you allow them to!” he cried out, as he looked at the woman and pointed his holy blade at her. She was distraught, unable to think from his view.

He walked forward calmly, as he stretched out a hand, like a torch filled with spirit and humanity. It is now time to offer her chance to move on from her past to fight with dignity, grace, and hope to forge her future.
DF  Post #: 36
8/2/2018 20:30:31   
Dragonknight315
Member

A screeching hiss filled the air as the twin blades clashed. The bard was ready for her assault, and he moved his blade to intercept her swing. Autumn gritted her teeth as she pressed down, hoping to overpower him, but it was no use; he had her blade snagged between the metallic teeth. She tried to step back and gain a better footing, but the bard shifted his weight in response, moving forward to seize even more leverage. Now, the bard was on the offense, and he was winning.. As Autumn struggled to find an opening, the bard simply continued his song.

“Forcing it to become one of shadow,
spiritless, the land was a pertinent dusk—“

At last, her strength faltered as the bard gave one final push. He heaved his blade against hers, sending her guard flying to the right. Her eyes went wide, gasping as the Bard proceed to strike her chest with the pommel, and she was sent to the ground. Her sword clinked off the ground, still firm in its master’s hands. Autumn could feel the swelling her neck and torso; her leather armor softened most of the blow and fall, but it could only provide so much defense. She gritted her teeth and looked up to find that her adversary had not advanced; instead, he held his blade forward, shouting one last verse.

“The cursed god however, was more than that!”

At once, an aura surged from his blade, glowing brighter and brighter until the light could no longer be contained, and it erupted forth like a wave, swallowing all in its shine.



When Autumn opened her eyes, everything was white. The ground, the horizon, everything — it was if she were sitting atop a cloud, all in her gaze bearing that edgeless and ethereal glow. There was lights swirling in the air, pulsing in and out of view.

Where am I?

As she pulled herself to her knees, a voice echoed through the glow, and she spun around to meet it. A figure stepped out of the glow, their figure silently coming into view. Clad in green plate and chainmail, it was a young woman with crimson hair and a familiar war-scythe.

“Maple?!” Autumn leapt to her feet at the sight of her old friend. “What?- How?!” Before she could continue, more figures stepped forward, their numbers growing uncountably until she was completely surrounded in all directions. All at once, they shouted and cheered, and Autumn spun in awe. Even after all these years, it was unmistakable; Autumn knew that these were the people of Brazscov.

“Our savior!” “The angel of Brazscov!” “High-priestess Autumn!!”

The crowd roared with praise, and Autumn could feel something returning to her. She looked down at herself; she was in her former clerical robes, the purest white with golden patterns. Her head felt heavy as her hair flowed down her back in a ponytail. But most of all, Autumn could feel the light humming once more. She could feel the magic seeping from her veins, the aura colored like the evening sun. She could feel it reaching out to her, begging for her to embrace it.

Surrounded by the praise of loved ones and the warmth of the light, Autumn pushed her face into her hands and wept. She wept not out of joy but of sorrow. Autumn knew it was a lie. They were dead; she had failed them.

The cheering was silenced, and screams, terrible screams of pain took their place. One of the people close to Autumn bursted into shadows, and she leaped back with her own scream, shutting her eyes as she clutched her ears. The shadow hung in the air like thick miasma, eating away at the surrounding light. Suddenly, another did the same, and then more and more. It was spreading, exponentially growing until at last Autumn opened her eyes and the phantasms were gone, the light was gone. Only absolute darkness remained.

“Oathbreaker. . .”

Out of the darkness came a chorus of a thousand overlapping voices, and Autumn trembled, her body shaking so much that it hurt. From the darkness, He stepped forth. A colossus with azure wings— His armor was like a knight's, the metal weaved from the sky and stars itself. He had no flesh nor bone, yet the armor moved with life, suspended in the air. His left hand was a massive blade akin to his armor; without warning, he swung it into down before Autumn, the blade sundering the ground just in front of her. She screamed, tears rolling down her eyes, and looked up towards the otherworldly being. “TACHYON!”

“Autumn,” He spoke, His words echoing like screeching metal. His presence glowed with that azure light, but the darkness did not break; if anything, it was strengthened. “Once, you were my champion. But look at you— weak, defenseless, vile.

You are the vile one!

“I pulled you from certain death and gave you new life, a purpose.”

I didn’t ask to be made; I didn’t ask to born into death.

“I offered peace, but you refused it. I offered justice, but you cursed it.”

What peace is there in death? What justice is there in letting innocent people die?! You could have stopped it, all of their deaths, but you refused, saying it was "their destiny."

“You have refused your new path; so be it! I shall return you to your old life, your old death.” At once, Autumn clutched her throat, an emptiness swelling throughout her body. It was as if Autumn was drowning, the cold seeping through her, robbing her of her senses until nothing remained. “Drown, Oathbreaker.” She fell to hear knees and gasped for air. There was no pain, no light; only darkness and silence.

“Is this what you truly feel like?!”

Suddenly, a voice broke through the darkness.

“A void with seemingly no future outside of the wish? If so, merely look at me! I am your objective here!”

A spark of life filled her soul, and Autumn could feel the numbness fade from her chest. She looked past the angel’s sword and saw a young man in shining armor, his blade glowing in splendor. The bard?! She didn’t understand; she could tell by his face that it was indeed the bard, but the man she knew was aged and missing an eye. And yet, here he was, standing in his prime. But so was Autumn. Whatever was happening, they were here together.

“Forget what your surroundings indicate for they only mean something if you allow them to!”

The darkness writhed as the bard spoke again; the opaque shadows were beginning to lift. Through the haze, Autumn could see mirrors and pillars with lights. They were still in the arena! As he spoke, the bard walked towards her with his hand extended, his aura cutting through the remaining shadows. Autumn could sense the magic overflowing from the blade, its presence familiar. At first, it seemed divine in nature, but there was something else, something more. Suddenly, her own power swelled with a pale glow inside the dream, and at last, Autumn realized— the bard wielded not the divine but his own humanity, just like her.

Still on her knees, she reached out to the bard, her hand passing straight through the angel’s sword. The spirit bellowed, his voice like thunder as he faded away. “You cannot escape me, Autumn! You cannot fight destiny!” Autumn wasn’t listening, however; she simply took the man’s hand.
AQ DF AQW  Post #: 37
8/2/2018 22:22:59   
deathlord45
Member

Growling under his breath Voric kept his eyes trained on the monk as he jumped. A small smile found its way to his face as he noted the cut that landed. Three quick blows were landed on his face by Finthick. They were somewhat strong though the minor electrical surges played havoc with some of his facial muscles much to Voric’s discomfort.

Laughing mightily in his mind Voric adjusted his grip on his greataxe to midway up on the haft using his right hand while he spun around to his left to continue his battle with Finthick. As he spun Voric made a great arc with the back of his left hand while also making a far more controlled slash with is right hand.
AQ DF MQ AQW  Post #: 38
8/3/2018 20:29:18   
Ronin Of Dreams
Still Watching...


Lodesh-Tinphair lazily slid to his left in mid-air, rolling over and shedding a tear before coiling back around to his right, a gentle loop with a mobian twist. The tears were black and gritty, lubricant graphite mixing with natural mineral oils to clean his eyes and help restore his vision. He had heard the soft tink, but it felt positively incredulous for his aim to be that wide. Yet the proof was there, right by the golden warrior’s feet, as he continued to dance such a clumsy yet deadly waltz with the reptilian swordsman. Especially given the cacophonous boom of the behemoth hitting the ground and losing their weapon.

His fun, like his aim, was dashed. ”And what will you do now?” Whiskers twitched in serious thought as Lodesh-Tinphair considered his remaining options. Were his opponents mere kits, he’d close and pounce upon the lizardman. Kits didn’t hold back, they used everything they had until they learned better, but Aurinko showed none of those signs of such a novice mistake. The way the swordsman flowed from stance to strike, from recovery to rebuttal, there was none of the critical signs of fatigue. He was still far too dangerous to approach, and more importantly, the F.E.R.R.E.T. was fairly certain he’d been noticed. I am young, but not so foolish…

The voice in his mind was silent at that thought. Lodesh-Tinphair slid both his last flechette and his scalebreaker free of where he’d bound them within his fur. The dart was clean, and likely still his best option to maintain an offensive, whereas the wavy blade of the scalebreaker was coated in residue and dust. Plenty enough to ruin any organic’s day with subtle poisons. There was no doubt in his mind, as much as he wanted to swoop in and act like a heroic Warden against the gigantic foes that filled this arena, that this would prove a poor decision.

Lodesh-Tinphair caught the glitter of a reflection upon the fins of his flechette as it revolved in the space ahead of him. He glanced up and over, towards the other duel developing on his right. It was soft, like a sunbeam you could lounge in, simply grown massive. The light shone not only over that duel, but spread to wash over the lizardman and the behemoth with its gentle rays. Lodesh-Tinphair found it curious. Neither did it impede his vision through blinding him, nor did it spread as far as where he flew, but within that field, a most curious thing: naught a shadow remained. Curious, most curious, and that added emphasis towards checking the impulse to dive right in.

In the meantime, the golden behemoth had already managed to return to one knee, rising against the swordsman in an attempt to...to...Lodesh-Tinphair wasn’t entirely sure what. Some form of grasping motion, though the more threatening reptilian fighter already appeared to be countering the blow with a swift slash at the offending arm. Though...perhaps the horned warrior was playing the game of depth given how all shadow and contrast had been washed away? “An interesting development, to be sure. What will you do, little one?” Again the voice interrupting his thoughts, and again a spike of frustration ruffled along his hackles.

And yet, this was a clue, that repetition and the pattern of speech. This mental echo had overplayed itself, wrapping around like a broken record, and Lodesh-Tinphair flashed his teeth in a wide grin. Hummed softly to himself as he shifted midair, aligning to take one last shot at Aurinko’s throat, in hopes of dispatching the greatest threat he saw on the battlefield. Even from the side, there were high hopes that it would rip and tear, choke and bleed the lizardman dry. I know which echo you are, from whose memory you stem, and Saga you once told. Now Hush, and let me be.
AQ  Post #: 39
8/4/2018 17:54:40   
Caststarter

Ether-knight of DF Q&A/EDBalance


He could not help but ruminate on a couple of names. Maple. Tachyon. Names she called out, as she trembled from fear. The former he could at best guess was a friend she truly enjoyed having, akin to his friendship with Varn. Tachyon however, with the piercing scream, its association oozed despair. What was this Tachyon? A demon that took everything she cared for? Tyrfing’s stated end of life was due to revived demons, but at the same time, there are many truly horrific beings out there in the world.

As he paused in thought, the woman, down on the ground, reached out to him. In turn, he grabbed her hand and pulled her back up, where in turn he leaned down, taking her blade by the ricasso, and handed it back. “So, may I have the pleasure in knowing your name?” As he asked, he peered from beyond to check on the other competitors, making sure they do not interrupt, considering how many intrusions happened throughout the fight. He then touched upon the woman’s shoulder, to make sure he was a threat no more.

The woman stood there for a brief moment, hesitating to respond to his query. “. . . Autumn. And you, sir?”

“I am Michalis Odin, paladin of the god of war and ill-fate, Tyrfing. I am also known as the Spiritful. What illusions you see was Tyrfing’s doing, in order for me to reach out to you and make sure you can face the future with dignity.” Unlike the previous vigorous nature of his songs, he carried a relaxed, contemplative, and secured tone. A tone that knew what pain was like, losing who you loved but also that one must move on, in order to not disappoint the long gone spirits of old.

Autumn nodded, albeit in such a fashion that while she was satisfied with his response, she was perhaps confused about the illusions being from Tyrfing. “I see . . . Does that mean-”

He shook his head, knowing the question was if he saw her own fears. “Nay, while I know not what you see exactly, the best I can assume was an event you want to run away from. That normally doesn’t solve the issue. You need to remember it, while aiming to grow past it. If something about it still affects you to this day, look into solving it, with a calm mind and making sure to remember the bonds you made throughout the years. No one can solve such issues alone. It is why friendship exists, be it normal friends, brotherhood or sisterhood, or the concept of sworn siblings.”

As she looked away, a subtle sorrow came to being, having been forced to see the memories once more. “I suppose one could say that it is my friends that I’m running away from, the memory of them. I can remember each and every voice, their names and faces, what they liked and couldn’t stand. I could see the hope in their eyes, hope for the future they never have.”

Once she looked back into Michalis’ eyes however, scorn was imprinted on her face, an inner fury of the past. “But it’s more than that. I mourned for their lost, but I have made my peace with that. What I feel is anger, indignation towards the ones who forsaken them. Justice. . . what justice is there in letting people die? I couldn’t stand it, and when I spoke up against it. . .”

As she mentioned justice, she began to tear up, where Michalis spoke up once more. “Now now, there is indeed no justice in letting people die. Indeed, the concept of justice is to set things right. No need to continue, I truly understand.” The way he carried himself was practically identical to how he spoke to his long gone son. “In a way, you remind me of both my son and daughter. Must say, it makes me happy to have met an individual like yourself.”

He took a deep breath, as the echoes of his son cried out to him in the dark nightmare he too stood within. “Why must you ignore my suffering? My sister was far too inhumane to follow in your footsteps.” Until after you died, as she then learned the consequence of mortality. Since then, she learned how to have her drive protect others, unlike you. I loved you my son, but I also must accept that you refused to learn after a certain point. I shall not cling to the past. Not now. Not ever. Only the future awaits me.

Emperor Nicholas simply sat in his throne, almost displeased that he still could not force the man known as the Spiritful to kneel down and submit. The title, of course, was only reserved for those who fit the very qualities of Tyrfing. One filled with humanity, spirit, and the ability to rise above fate. Indeed, Michalis’ was content with the result he received. He done what he set out for, at least once. If he moves onto the finals, he shall go on to do it once more, for it is his duty to combat despair at any corner.




The groomed man kneeled down within the lit mist. Around him, the dark mist began to show signs of lifting, their presence still foreboding but ever so fading. Now, the mist gradually returned to that of neutrality, as the laws of recollections bid it to be. The mist were beckoned to form the last few recollections, the first being that of the living man at the familiar room from before. Only this time, the woman sat there, misty tears occasionally dripping as the room was torn asunder. The living man was speechless, as he reached out to her, where she could not respond. He then burst out of the room, to hear a couple featureless figures merely say the dreaded words, “the empire has declared Michalis Odin dead, now being the Spiritless. His body is to be made a monster, a sign to never rebel against the empire.”

The living man took tentative steps back, hand clutched against his chest. He was still alive. He was there. He stumbled back to the room, sat down in the same chair that he told stories to the child, and lowered his head, hands sweating. Was justice more than simply making things right? Is justice more about the whim of the state, where fool’s errands lead to more suffering?

Then, there was the counter to his newly formed doubt. Justice always needed some form of rules and regulations. If anyone can decide what justice is, what truly is justice? The concept he used relied less on himself, but others. Hence why making things right seem to fit the idea of it the more he thought about it. It relied on others being happy with their lives. He then stood up from his chair, where he tightly embraced the woman he dearly loved, letting the time of sorrow to come to past.

The groomed man watched on, a tear shedding on his face. “Even I am moved that you did not back down, and still kept the bonds such as family and friendship even after all this time.” The groomed man snapped his fingers. As the mist were asked to allow more recollections, familiar recent events began to from before his eyes. The living man’s performance in Bren as the Mangled Hawk, his entrance into Cellar, his confrontation against the angelic woman and clinical reptile, all of these formed and deformed into existence. There was a pause once Waneful Beginning has been sung, where the groomed man hovered his hand swiftly over the blade to bestow its light. Yet still it was quick recollection.

Until now. The mist have settled at the moment when the living man finished The End Brings Despair. There, the groomed man rose and went to the living man’s side and unleashed another burst of light into the sword. Then, he called forth the depictions of everyone’s worst aspects, all of which he knew, illusions so malleable they appear to be real.

Which brought a curiosity.

When he focused specifically on his illusion for the angelic woman, it became strangely more powerful than normal. When he warped the image of the angelic being she feared, it almost behaved on its own accord. “That is an anomaly.” It almost moved like it was still there, with a desire to then force itself into reality. “So the liar still lingers near her soul. This is a particular problem I should perhaps address.”

As he concentrated in doing the illusions overall, the living man reached out to the angelic woman. From there, the groomed man strode up to the living man, as he held the angelic woman’s shoulder.

“To think that I saw him grow so much,” the groomed man commented, as he created an orb of misty light within his hand. This mere aura covered the arena to his eyes, where time began to slow to a crawl but for him and the angelic woman. “Also, greetings, Autumn. I am Tyrfing, the Spiritful. Not sure if your senses enable you to hear me, but it has been a joy to see your growth just now.” The woman subtly nodded her head, indicating that she could indeed detect his presence.

The groomed man, Tyrfing, smiled softly as he bowed. To think, the first time in centuries he is able to talk to a mortal once more, despite the laws of recollection. The laws did not care for names much, but he was able to mention what his name was to someone living. “So you can; if I may be transparent, what Michalis said about me was true. Now, I have the power to know what people’s past and secrets are. A ruler of recollections, if you will.”

As the woman named Autumn nodded, it looked like she began to understand what was told to her. “In the land known as Vascole, I was a man said to be cursed with an ill-fate, where I was the weakest god of them all. Of course, when you bestow yourself with mortality, I suppose that is to be fair. Yet, what is strength for gods when they have nothing to use it for? Indeed, I should know… I created the foundations of Vascole, where it is an elven word for ‘perpetual glory’, fitting for a place on the perpetual continent.”

Tyrfing raised his hand, where upon a small tome made from solid mist appeared titled Behind Vascole, the perpetual empire. When he opened it, the entire current land holdings of Vascole showed, land that indeed almost consumed an entire continent, all made from mist. The territory went all the way from the north of the world, where it then enveloped various countries, with only a few more bordering the coastline of the south.

“During my day, I fought on the behalf of everyone. I fought against my brother, Hlod, for who would rule, where his bloodthirsty army threatened the townsfolk. That was my first great evil curse. I then had to fight the demons of Yggdrasil, those who sought to destroy life itself. That was my second great evil curse. Then, I had to fight them once more, as they sought revenge and put the world into endless despair. That was my third great evil curse.” As he turned a page, a new image formed, where it instead showed a large gnarled tree, being devoured by serpentine creatures. In front of them all also stood a distorted and bloodied man holding a hastily made chipped sword.

“These are the images of the evil I fought before. Over the centuries, I seen heroes risen, fall, villains defeated and succeeded. Michalis is one such figure in the making, designation figure of fate. Even if I was able to be transparent and let him know what knowledge I have, he, as the man he is, simply does not want to know what I have to tell him. Why? He wants to forge his own destiny, and not forcefully change the laws of mortality and time.” Another page was flipped, causing a small pocket watch to wisp around Tyrfing, signifying his status of ruler of recollections.

“After all, in actuality, I am merely a record-keeper of not only the world, but dimensions themselves. I am worshipped as something that I simply am not, but I allow it since outside of the fact it is not my duty to reveal it, it gives people hope, where I can truly relax in peace. Michalis knows the truth though. Soon, the truth will be revealed, and I will be happier to know that it will allow people even further aspirations in life. Even if his time grows short, it has been a blessing to see his actions to the end.” Tyrfing grimaced however for a brief moment, before becoming rather stoic.

“It makes the memories all more precious, even if they are bittersweet. I suppose one could ask for nothing more.”

“Indeed. Destiny is how the best stories are told. The chronicles of history have told the most humane and inhumane stories of all time. It will continue to do so, as long as I am ruler of recollections.” Tyrfing set the pocket watch against the tome, pressing it lightly.

“That said, if I may ask for your permission, I would like to be by your side for a small amount of time. This Tachyon. . . those who dare say they can alter fate merely are liars. If it was your fate to not drown, that was your fate. There was no change, only the true result that could’ve happened. Indeed, the only lie was the angel. Everything, from what I saw, was true. Lies hold power only in the absence of truth; the angel should not persist. From my interpretation, he threatens the laws of recollections. Even if he is unable to change the very fabrics of time, he must be eliminated with great prejudice. Of course, it is still in my best interest to allow you to do all the work. If need be however, I will assist.” He opened the pocket watch, as it was about to strike the thirteenth hour, a falsehood he then whisked away, showing the clock once more with the proper twelve hours.

As Tyrfing spoke to her, Autumn’s eyes flashed with a small bit of her own humanity. “Hopefully, that won’t be necessary; but who am I to refuse your kindness? It would seem improper given all this talk of friendship. Really, I am in your debt.”

“It would be an honour. I am happy to rid of a being who imposes his sense of direction for time over all other mortals. See, my true power stems from humanity and truth. The song Michalis performed in here? They are that of the truth. Except for the last verse. The verse ‘Peace’ is an utter falsehood, where it cancels out my power. He knows this, as well as the knowledge of the true end to the song. That is what the removal of the thirteenth hour would signify. Once it strikes there, the clock will return to normal at last. Same with the being Tachyon, where he too has his own pocket watch dedicated for such an event. ” The clock then faded away from existence, the fate for any anomaly of the multi-verse.

“With that out of the way, it was definitely in your right to indeed go out of your way to save your friends. It was your choice. It was your destiny to do so, the destiny that you carved for yourself. Even if most of them died in your journey, please remember, take failure as a means to keep going with your aspirations. Meet despair head-on, as you continue to carve destiny out as you wish.”

“I will. . . It hurts to think of them, but in a way, I cherish that. Pain tells us when something is wrong, when something isn’t right. It’s something we all share, something none of us really want, but we can understand each other though it. In a sense, pain gives happiness meaning. When I couldn’t feel pain, I wasn’t myself, I wasn’t alive. Only after the fact could I understand.”

“No greater truth can be said,” Tyrfing chuckled a tad, as he tilt his head to the side. “Is there anything I can tell you, such as the truth of your existence? Anything at all in general?”

“No; I think you have done more than enough for me.”

“As I thought,” he smiled warmly, knowing that Autumn truly understood taking charge of her own destiny. “I have faith in you that you can keep Noelle safe, where in turn she will keep you safe.” Tyrfing simply softly smiled once more, as the warrior spirit within grew. Tyrfing held up the orb of light to the air, where it then burst into a bright light. Time then began to flow once more, as Autumn shifted to where her original position was. She looked around, to see the misty individual Tyrfing to be gone for now.

From his original position within the mists of recollection, Tyrfing kept a careful eye as the events of the future unfolded. As ruler of recollections, it was his duty to see things through, for that is how history is truly told.

Tyrfing, the Spiritful, the long lost hero of old, the benevolent king. Just a mere mortal of old, where he now kept watch of time so it goes accordingly, while still giving mortals the ability to choose where time should be directed. That was destiny. It was caused by those who directed a course to a particular end, not some fabricated will of divine gods. Gods do not know the future; no one does. Such is the way things should be. And with that, Tyrfing is truly content with his current role in the multi-verse, a role that by sheer force of will he has truly ascended to.
DF  Post #: 40
8/4/2018 23:03:45   
Kellehendros
Eternal Wanderer


Leikata whistled down, but the herald turned his arm at the last moment, just enough to make the blade crash against his armored limb. The blow drove his hand down, at which point Aurinko realized he had made a rather drastic miscalculation. Forcing the strongman’s grasping digits down brought them directly into contact with the faulds of the Kaarme’s kusazuri, where those heavy fingers clawed their way around one of its metal plates. In a moment they would find purchase and tug, yanking the swordsman off balance.

It was not an unrecoverable error. The Kaarme Phry’s blade was inside his opponent’s guard, and a swift slash down at the horned man’s relatively unprotected thigh would serve as an effective deterrent to further hand-to-hand combat. His wound, again. Aurinko’s fingers tightened around Leikata’s hilt, wrists turning smoothly to realign the blade for a returning blow at his adversary’s bloodied leg.

There was a swell of light behind him, strong enough to overpower the sweeping regularity of the Arena’s pulsing pillars, and then the world dissolved into pain. Molten agony speared into the Kaarme’s neck, shattering his concentration as he was hauled forward by the herald. Something that must have been the big man’s other hand scrabbled at his dou before finding purchase. Distantly, Aurinko was aware of being lifted, and then he was airborne, hurled away by the strength of his foe.

A graceful flight it was not. The Kaarme Phry rolled once in the air, less because of any willful guidance on his own part, and more because the weight of his heavy tail shifted his mass enough to drag him through the rotation. Aurinko recalled, in a detached and clinical fashion, having once been told that Kissa always landed on their feet. The same could not be said of Kaarme.

Aurinko’s back slammed into the wall with a crunching impact, a marginally quieter mirror of his horned foe’s earlier meeting with the floor. An involuntary cry of pain was ripped from him as the crash hammered the flechette further into his tail, but the throbbing laceration was only a foretaste of what was to come. The Kaarme’s impact with the wall was echoed a moment later by his collision with the ground, while the jouncing fall scraped the dart in his neck along the stone. The entire experience set off a torturous symphony of pain, a bloom of searing heat like a bomb inside his skull.

Perhaps he passed out. For a moment or two he certainly lost focus, but when Aurinko opened his eyes he was somewhere else entirely...



A pale silver disc hung in the dark sky alone. It’s febrile radiance pushing fitfully, fretfully at the darkness. A stranger in this place might have thought it night, thought that celestial body was nothing more than a bright full moon in a curiously empty sky.

Aurinko knew better.

The dying sun hovered in the bleak sky over what had been his home, and the Kaarme Phry grunted softly as he pushed himself up to his knees. He paused there for a moment, staring down at the ground. A MK8 combat visor lay on the pavement beside him, cracks spiderwebbed across its length as though something had hit it very hard just where the comm interface met the reinforced projection screen. Hissing static played back from the ear piece, and colorful distorted shapes played brokenly across the visor before the internal systems clicked over and died a quiet electronic death.

Frowning in consternation, he looked from the broken gear to where his palms rested on his thighs. Aurinko’s hands were bare, but long black sleeves of steelthread covered his arms from elbow to wrist, decorated with red cross-woven strands that mimicked the natural patterning along his scales. The kusazuri was missing, replaced with steelthread combat pants reinforced with ballistic strike plates on the thighs, calf, and ankle. He still wore a dou, though this one was lighter than the one he had become accustomed to - a matte black construction with a pair of matched hardlight projectors mounted to his shoulders. The constructs hummed faintly, a subconsciously pleasing harmony that tugged a smile from his lips. Completing the ensemble was a tail-encasing sheath of steelthread with a line of photon diodes marching from the base of the Kaarme’s neck to five inches from the tip of his tail.

But if the armor was different from what the other entrants had seen, the weapons were mostly familiar. About Aurinko’s waist was bound the same long belt of crimson silk; sheathes for Leikata and Pelastaa rode at his left hip, familiar and welcoming as his hand shifted to their hilts. The Kaarme Phry noted distantly that the sheathes were in pristine condition, their carefully incised geometric patterns as sharp and fresh as if they had just been finished. His right hand rose reflexively, reaching back over his shoulder to set a pair of fingers lightly on the polymer stock of the assault carbine hovering in the static-hold field generated by the armor’s back-mounted projector.

Home.

It was impossible, of course. Leikata’s ability to facilitate such travel had been shattered along with its blade after that first disastrous leap. There had been no time to be careful. If Aurinko had not hesitated at the last…

There was no profit to such thoughts now, so the swordsman rose gracefully to his feet and completed his self-inventory with the curious observation that he was uninjured. The same could not be said for his surroundings. The city was a battle-scarred ruin. Nearby, the buildings had tumbled into burned-out heaps scarred by energy burns or gouged with the marks of claw and talon. He stared at the rubble for a moment, comparing it to the city of his memory, to the reality that once was... and would yet be again.

His mind stuttered on that thought, like a record needle skipping from its groove, and his head ached tenderly. The Kaarme took it as a good sign. He had been wondering if he was dead. But it was his firm belief that only the living felt pain. Either he was still alive, and this was some manner of hallucination, or else he was wrong. The latter meant an entirely different sent of problems, but whatever the truth, this was not the time to ponder such mysteries.

He turned to look over one shoulder, comparing what his eyes told him of his dim surroundings to his memories once more, and then nodded. What had once been a well-manicured lawn was now a pocked and cratered waste, a miniature redoubt of earthwork trenches and hastily constructed barricades and hardpoints. Aurinko walked forward, dropping lightly into the trenches cut into the familiar soil. His footsteps on the packed earth were the only noise in the eerie silence, unrelieved but for a faint, far off scream like that of a bird of prey. The Kaarme Phry came to a sudden halt as the sound reached his ears, falling back on old reflexes with nary a moment of hesitation as he reached for the carbine holstered at his back. But the cry was not repeated, and after a minute of quiet waiting his hand fell back to his side and Aurinko started forward once more.

The scars left by claw and shot increased as he zigged and zagged through the winding trenches, a surprisingly elaborate setup given the confines of space within which the defenses had been constructed. There was no sign of any living thing though, dead or alive. The scavengers, and other, worse things, had been here already. But at length the trenchworks came to an end, spilling the Kaarme out at the bottom of a ramshackle ramp sloping up to the steps that lead into the Sun Guard Forge.

It had been a graceful complex once, a soaring construction of polysteel and glass, almost ephemeral as it tapered to a sky-piercing point. That grand tower was toppled, and the building looked like some giant blade had come crashing down upon it. A massive rent was carved at a descending angle through offices, laboratories, and living spaces, their contents flung out into the darkened streets helter-skelter. The lower half of the building was scorched but surprisingly intact, and the swordsman paused at the threshold in momentary surprise.

There was a faint buzzing, felt against the soles of his taloned feet. It traveled up his legs, shivered through his guts, vibrated along his chest and arms, and took up residence somewhere behind his eyes, where it melded with the fluttering ache in his skull until the two feelings became one steady subliminal sensation. Light engine. An active forge though? Everything that Aurinko had seen here indicated that the city had fallen long ago, that it was nothing more than a sterile devastation. Theoretically, it was possible for a forge to still be active. His grandfather had once told him that the engines were nearly self-sustaining. Its operator might have left the machine active when the call to arms came at last, rushing to the barricades to fight the encroaching hordes for every precious inch.

A trap. That made more sense. The Darkener’s creatures would have consumed the forge, unless ordered otherwise. If it still was intact, it was only to draw survivors in. The Kaarme Phry’s right hand fell to Leikata’s hilt as his left shifted to grip the weapon’s sheath. He drew the weapon in a single fluid motion, and then nearly dropped it.

Leikata was whole. The katana’s blade shimmered with a faint inner light that cast watery patterns upon the nearby rubble. The weapon was light, vital in his hand as it tightened around the grip, and the swordsman recovered after a moment, left hand settling firmly onto the blade’s hilt. No questions now. Find out what is going on here.

Aurinko nodded to himself and slipped into the darkened building. The fighting had flowed into the lobby from the trenches outside, and the support columns bearing what was left of the upper floors were splashed with more energy burns, or else struggling to remain standing after chunks had been rent from them. The Kaarme’s eyes swiftly inventoried the details as he moved farther in, mentally reconstructing the increasingly desperate defense through shattered halls and barricaded intersections, booby-trapped stairwells and rooms scorched bare and sterile. But the barriers had been smashed, the traps expended, and the defenders slaughtered. And in the aftermath the way had been cleared, a path forged through the rubble and debris like a road inviting him in.

He knew the path would lead down, and so he followed it into the sublevels hewn from the living rock beneath the complex, where the great batteries and central forge lay. If things had been different then - when they were different later, supplied his mind in another of those mental stutter-steps - the defenders might have overloaded the batteries after back-stopping the forges. The resultant energy release would have vaporized the entire city. Every man, woman, and child, every ounce of steel and glass, every slavering thing and wild-eyed fanatic the Darkener had brought to bear upon them, all gone in a cataclysmic coruscation of prismatic death. Aurinko had done - would do - the calculations. The blast would have left behind nothing but a perfectly semi-circular glass crater two miles across and half-again as deep.

But they had not - would not, the Kaarme Phry bared his fangs in a grimace - because of the blade. The swordsman’s footsteps echoed on the bare walls of the lowest sublevel, a hall some three hundred feet long cluttered with the remains of security checkpoints and barricades every twenty feet. Leikata’s gentle luminescence played over the deep gouges left by raking claws, throwing bobbing shadows playfully along the deserted corridor. Greasy carbon smears accumulated at the base of the stairway and along the first fifty or so feet of the hall, clustered so tightly together they seemed to form a single coating that uniformly overlaid the stone. As the hall stretched on the stains and scorches spaced out before clustering again around the shattered barriers in a tragic tale of a final frenzied battle.

Stepping through the last broken defense, Aurinko entered a vast subterranean chamber. A walkway circled the cavity, a railing running along it at chest height to protect those upon it from a precipitous fall. Ladders ran down into the dark below at regular intervals, and the Kaarme knew that somewhere across the umbral chamber was a maglift that was used to bring construction and maintenance materials down to work on the solar batteries far below. From the walkway ran a single catwalk that led to a central platform supported by a profusion of pipes. The circular rostrum held a low rectangular shape that shed dim illumination from its panels and dials, as well as its active construction surface.

A blearily seen shape hunched before the forge’s muted controls, and the swordsman started down the catwalk carefully, fully aware that now was when the trap would spring. And yet the person who sat - would sit Aurinko bit down on the inside of his cheek - before the device gave no sign of hearing his approach. It was another Kaarme Phry, that much Aurinko could tell. He recognized the-

He recognized the crest of horn and bone spreading from the man’s head. For a moment the swordsman stood, paralyzed on the narrow walk as his mouth opened and closed without managing to form a coherent sound. It felt like an eternity before he could choke out one single word. “G-Grandfather?”
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 41
8/4/2018 23:14:15   
Riprose123
Member

Finthick smiled brightly as his punches landed, his opponent waggling his eyebrows as the electricity played havoc on his facial muscles. His mouth twinged slightly as the cut on his foot grew cold. He could sense something slightly magical about the wound, and thanked Laru that it seemed to be nothing more than a shallow, superficial cut, if painful at that. It was growing colder, though, and he silently wondered if it would grow to the point of frostbite or hypothermia, and if it would spread past his foot. His silent musings were cut short as Voric approached once more, choking up on the shaft of his axe, and swinging a mighty backhanded blow towards Finthick, his axe following close behind. Finthick smiled even brighter, glad his opponent was finally bringing himself to Finthick's expertise. Finthick ducked lightly, hissing audibly as his cut scraped the ground underneath his wrapped feet. His hands came up and gripped tightly on the giant-kin's left forearm, preventing any escape of the limb from his scaled grasp. At the same time, Finthick's abdomen tightened, bringing the bottom half of his body up as well. Glad to be off his injured feet, Finthick noted the astounding strength of Voric, how he supported the chiseled monk without any notable fatigue. Finthick's thighs wrapped firmly around the giant's forearm, his legs splaying over the rest of Voric's torso and face. He clenched them with all his might, and wrenched backwards with his abdomen, bending the arm back swiftly at an angle that it should not have been in with a sickening crunch. He removed himself from Voric with another rotation at his waist, landing heavily on his injured foot as the pain caused him to step quickly back. He faced Voric yet again, a slight panting as fatigue began to set in.
DF MQ  Post #: 42
8/5/2018 22:31:43   
  Starflame13

Gryffin Warrior of DF GD & RP


Above the screams and clamor of the battle, the buzz of the arena grew. Loud enough to set hair on end and cause teeth to chatter. Loud enough to vibrate the air and drown out thoughts and feelings alike. Loud enough that even those safe behind the mirrors fell entirely silent.

The pulsing of the light ceased, instead forming a solid band around the pillars. It laid bare every scar, every wound, every blemish the combatants had dealt to the arena. Illuminating the success, and the failures, of those within.

Then it flared without warning, painfully bright. Reflecting and refracting against mirrors and stone alike until there was no refuge from the luminosity. Even those accustomed to it were forced to close their eyes, lest they be permanently blinded for an eternity.

And in the silence that followed, when the glare had softened, when both sets of doors to the foyer opened with a hiss, only a handful of the competitors remained. The Elemental Lords had chosen their Paragons. The Finale was about to begin.
AQ DF MQ AQW  Post #: 43
9/29/2018 12:23:04   
Kellehendros
Eternal Wanderer


The full moon hung over Bren. It was imperfect, its surface pocked with craters. And yet, despite the scars, it shone undaunted over the town, which was which was finally settling down as the revelers sought their rest. It was nearly a week after the Elemental Championships had ended, and the nocturnal merrymaking was at last tapering off. No doubt the local constabulary was watching with growing relief as the great crowds continued to dissipate, journeying home from their sojourn in the desert city. Quiet fell over Bren, and Aurinko tracked the course of the moon.

There was a face there, hammered into the lunar surface by the violent encounters of its past. Not unlike my own, now, the swordsman reflected with a gentle smile. When he had first arrived in this place he had spent long hours observing the moon. They were old friends, the Kaarme Phry and this silver disk, though the visage writ upon its regolith was not the same as that of the dark body orbiting his home. Back there, as a child, that night-voyaging sphere had only rarely been visible, and by the time he had left-

“What are you doing up here?”

The smile on the Kaarme’s face grew; his gaze left the moon, picking out Rana’s slender form as the orphan scrabbled up onto the roof of the inn. Thanks to the rather excellent healers resident to Bren, the damage of fire and ice had largely been repaired. Some scarring was inevitable, and the scales around Aurinko’s left eye would likely never fully recover, but the mass of bandages and poultices had finally come off for good this afternoon.

And he could see. From both eyes. That had been reason enough for the Kaarme Phry to sneak out from under the watchful gaze of his self-appointed caretaker to enjoy the fresh air and moonlight. “Ah rikka, you have found me out.”

With a sigh of exasperation the elven child pushed herself to her feet, managing the sloped roof with ease. “You’re still supposed to be resting, even if the cleric let you take the coverings off.”

“But I am resting.” He spread his empty hands wide, though Leikata and Pelastaa rode in their sheathes at his hip, angled up the shingles.

“Yeah? And how did you get up here, huh?” She crossed her arms over her chest, nodding at the Kaarme’s abashed look. “Thought so. You have to take it easy, Aurinko. Do you even want to get better?”

It took an effort of considerable will, but the swordsman managed to keep his expression serious. “Forgive me, rikka, please. I just wanted to watch the moon.”

She peered at him skeptically for a moment before she relented, sitting next to him as he patted the roof. “Why?”

The Kaarme Phry was silent for a long time, conscious of the elf’s gaze. “Because where I come from, we lost our moon.”

“I… I don’t understand.”

Aurinko hesitated for a moment, and then sighed. “Back home, there was a… an entity. It waged war on my people for years, and it blighted our home star.” His gaze shifted back towards the silent argent orb above. “By the time I set out for Bren… At noon, the sun was no brighter than this.”

The girl stared up at the sky, perhaps trying to imagine it. “And... that’s why you came here. For the wish?”

“Yes.” After a moment he shrugged. “That’s why we all came here, rikka. For the mad and desperate chance.”

Rana was quiet for nearly a minute before she spoke again. “Will you go home now?”

“If I can find a way.”

She blinked, gaze dropping back to the Kaarme. “What do you mean?”

“Getting home will be difficult.”
“Because you’re hurt?”

“No, Rana. It is just that… I am a long way from home.”

“So?” The girl stared at Aurinko. “You could take a boat, or hire a coach.”

The swordsman’s lips twitched, but he fought down a grin. “A boat can’t get me back home, rikka.”

“Why not?”

He exhaled slowly, shaking his head. “It is... complicated.”

Something flashed in her eyes, but Rana just shook her head. “Adults always say that when they don’t want to explain something.”

He glanced at the elf, and then looked away. “It isn’t that, Rana. I’m… not sure if I really should…”

She came to her feet suddenly, looking down at the Kaarme Phry as a flurry of emotions flickered across her face. “Not sure if you should… what, Aurinko?”

“Home is… complicated.”

“No.”

Aurinko blinked, looking up at the child. “What?”

“Home is not complicated.” Her voice wavered, but steadied as she continued. “Home isn’t complicated. It’s where you belong.”

The Kaarme grimaced, claws rasping softly over the shingles. “Some things are not so easy to explain.”

“That’s just an excuse!” Rana bristled, her hands balling into fists. “Nothing but an excuse!”

Rikka… What… what’s wrong?” He stared at her, taken aback by the sudden outburst.

“You, Aurinko. You’re what’s wrong!” Frustrated tears gathered in her eyes. “You can’t just… I was... I could… It’s not fair.”

“Rana?”

The girl shook her head again, turning her back to the swordsman. “It isn’t fair.”

Aurinko reached out, but hesitated, his hand just shy of touching her arm. “Rikka, what are you talking about?”

Her voice was a low, fugitive whisper, as though she was talking more to herself than to the Kaarme. “Maybe I was wrong…”

Carefully, he laid his hand on her shoulder, biting his lip as she twitched away. “Wrong about what, Rana? I don’t understand.”

“Of course you don’t. You’re just… just… You’re an adult.”

“Talk to me, rikka. Help me understand.”

“That’s what we’re doing! And you just don’t get it.”

“I won’t be able to if you don’t help me.”

“It’s not the same for you. Everyone just… I tried to… You can’t understand.”

Aurinko shifted up to his knees, wincing slightly at the pull of still healing muscles along his shoulder and neck. “Rana, please. I… I want to help you. I upset you, and I want to fix this.”

For a long and silent moment the child stared at him, as the tears finally overspilled her eyes to trace faint tracks down her cheeks. “It’s complicated.”

The Kaarme Phry smiled cautiously. “Try, rikka. Try, and so will I.”

Rana dashed a hand across her cheeks. “I… I was alone.” She tried to swallow her tears and pushed on. “It was hard. Every day was hard. And… and no one even noticed. But then you showed up, and you just… cared. People don’t… They don’t just do that - not for kids like me.”

“Rana, I-”

“No!” The girl stamped a foot emphatically. “You can’t just… wave this away. You understood. None of the other adults ever did. They just wanted me to vanish. Go away - somewhere else - where I wouldn’t be an inconvenience to them. That way they could pretend I don’t exist and just go on with their lives. But you noticed.

Rana rubbed her eyes again. “And then you just… you just walked into the Cellar.” She looked away, slender arms wrapping around herself as she shivered. “I heard them, you know. The Chanters. That’s how I knew you survived. People die in the Arenas, Aurinko. All the time. They just… walk in and never come back out. And I…”

Rikka... I never meant to-”

“I was scared! For you. For the first adult who cared enough to offer me more than two half-coppers to buy some day-old bread. The first adult who cared since my father died. And it isn’t fair! It’s not fair that you can just... cut me out after… after… after you made me feel like a kid again! Like I could trust someone!” Tears coursed in moonlit lines down her face and the elf trembled, a bird about to take flight.

The Kaarme Phry pulled Rana to him and folded her in a gentle embrace. He closed his eyes, letting out a slow breath as the girl cried quietly into his shoulder. “Oh rikka...” Aurinko rubbed her back lightly, his voice soft. “You have a good heart, and more courage than you know.” He smiled, feeling the elf shaking her head against his chest. “Truly. Rana, do you think I wasn’t afraid, walking into that Cellar?”

A tear-stained face peered up at him, incredulous. “But you… you just… You looked so sure of yourself.”

Rikka, the only time you can be brave is when you are afraid. And it took a great deal of courage to do what you did.”

“What I…”

“To trust me,” the Kaarme supplied gently, “and to trust me enough again to tell me, even after I let you down.” He released the child, sitting again and looking out over the city before his eyes swept up to the starry heavens once more. “I intend to leave Bren tomorrow, Rana.” Aurinko paused, remembering mocking words and a dark promise. “Do you want to come with me?”

The girl nestled against him, eyes roving over the only home she had never known; she answered with her own question after thinking about his. “Will you explain it to me?”

“Everything.”

Glancing up at the swordsman, the elven orphan nodded. Leaning into him again, she wrapped her arms around his waist with wiry strength. “Okay.”

Aurinko chuckled, his eyes lifting once more to the distant moon. His arm settled around her shoulders as his voice fell into an old, familiar cadence. “In the beginning, there was Nothing...”
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 44
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