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The Bonds That Tie Us

Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by Maeriel, Jul 7, 2017.

  1. Shadras

    Shadras Illogical

    Deidre's venom lashed against Alfhild's walls, and she was fine with it. Anger was often an emotion thrown at her and she had long grown used to bearing it. It had been hurled often enough that something akin to amusement would sprout in her heart. Humor at that many of her peers, her "betters," fling an emotion she had long since learned to keep control of. Of course, it didn't reach the surface and perhaps it was better that it didn't for this situation. There was no point to Alfhild in intervening in Deidre's tirade and waited for her to finish while processing what she said. She's right, Alfhild realized.

    If the Fenrir went to war with themselves and wiped themselves out then... then... her train of thought stalled as she wondered what would actually happen afterwards. Long enough for a small thought to slip in saying, then it serve them right. She flung that thought deep into her mind and prayed it never resurfaced. Whatever the Fenrir had done to her, she didn't want them destroyed. Right? No, the only way for glory would be in bringing the sword to the Fenrir for this tournament. That would be little more than a footnote in the grand tales and songs. And Alfhild had not survived against all her adversity to be merely a footnote in the telling. She swore to herself years ago that she would be more. Greater, accepted, and honored. But how to achieve that, unless, in finding the sword, I can claim the right to fight in it. Once again the image of Alfhild in glory began to peak its way into her mind before she purged it again. I really need to sharpen my blade. Her father wouldn't like that. There was no room for interpretation in his orders. "Bring the sword to me. Directly, quickly, and quietly." However, it was strange that her father had never considered this flaw in his plan. Or had he? A she thought about it, there had to be no way that he would think that the Fenrir wouldn't fight to claim the sword. He had to have a plan. What, exactly, that plan was, she had no idea. Intrigue was never her strong suite. Her own brand of cleverness was directed to battle alone.

    And there was, of course, the tiny little matter that Deidre knew she was after the sword. But she wasn't about to broadcast it to the tavern, nor name it for Deidre. Alfhild's eyes followed her words as she said in a voice devoid of deceit, honesty, anger, joy, or any emotion at all, "I suppose we ought to avoid the end of our people. Still, I must first follow through in many of my actions before anything can be decided in honorable combat. And to that end, I will find a shaman. No matter what. I don't believe there will be any issue with that." She wondered, idly, if Deidre would hold onto her anger, or try to release it.

    @Maeriel
     
  2. AJPhips

    AJPhips A Little Broken

    Ara's tears continued to fall as the man lashed back at her. He wasn't wrong, but she really wanted him to be. She felt tainted, vile and evil. To have something controlling you, to never know if your actions were yours and to have those actions cause harm to others, to Isaac, and probably to others in the future... All she could do was cry. What else was there? She felt so helpless and worthless. Even now she was free, everything was still wrong; she still had no control in her life. She still couldn't be normal or happy. For the first time since she had left the Mage Tower, she wished she didn't exist. She wished she was no longer here to feel the pain, the shame and no longer taint the world she stood on. What was the point of her continued existence? She offered nothing and damned those around her. How could anyone live with this pain?
    A part of her longed for her sister to cry on and make her problems seem small and insignificant and tell her she was being ridiculous. The last time she'd cried on Lis' shoulder, they had both been children, and Ara wished nothing more than to return to those simpler days. Another part of her did not want her sister anywhere near her now. If she was doomed to destroy everything and anyone close to her then she hoped her sister was as far away as possible. She even hoped Lis hated her, it'd be easier, though it would hurt.

    Vidar wanted to continue to investigate and to solve the problems at hand, but to Ara the task seemed impossible and she'd much rather curl up, forget everything and disappear. But Isaac was still out there, and she couldn't forget that. As much as she wished to no longer be here, she owed it to him to first make up for what she had done. She had gotten him into the danger he was in now and she had a duty to save him from it.
    'After that' she assured herself 'After that I can...'

    Wiping her sopping cheeks, Ara turned her attention back to Vidar and nodded solemnly, not trusting her voice yet.
    She lay next to him in the long grass, facing the mill, unsure of where to go from here. There didn't seem to be any activity and their yells hadn't seemed to bring any unwanted attention as of yet, so why had she been brought here? Had it only been to pull her further away from Isaac?

    @Shadras
     
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  3. Shadras

    Shadras Illogical

    She seemed ready to move forward again. It would serve his purpose, but Vidar couldn't help but wonder how much longer she could keep it up before something broke again. Time would tell. He resolved to try and comfort her later with pawing her back, some pacing, and a few other gestures. I mean, how different could it be, right? he thought, It's how my old pack did it. That would, however, come after they had dealt with this mill. It was a strange building, then again, all buildings were strange to begin with. It was worn stone with a thatch roof and an odd, round device that slowly turned in the brook that cut through the otherwise barren field. He couldn't imagine what purpose it served, but yearned to find out. It appeared abandoned, but that didn't mean that it was. Most things he knew of that could be a threat could be hidden in there from humans to bears to a swarm of insects. Vidar also know that he and Ara would have to check inside to make certain that nothing was indeed waiting for them. For good or ill.

    "Who wants to sneak up?" he asked as he began to camouflage himself. It was a process that he had been taught by a Dryad of his past, in exchange for knowledge on how to inspect one's own soul in a method similar to how he had examined Ara with. It was a high price, but he never regretted the exchange, even though his knowledge may be used against him should his companionship with the fey spirit dissolve. To one watching, the changes were strange, but subtle. It was as if his emotions ran from his face as blood does when a person pales in fright. But, instead of fear, all that was left was an expressionless face. A face that could belong to anyone, or no one. The face that one quickly forgot, if the looker took any note of it at all. His body itself seemed to move as the surrounding grass did, tilting ever so slightly whenever a breeze came. Vidar's magic was also suppressed deep down into his core, beyond easy sight access. Hidden in the pits of his soul. It was a method that nature spirits used to confuse, lose, bait into a trap, or simply ignore animals that stumbled upon them. It was distinctly non-magical because, after all, how could one hope to dampen a fire by tossing more fuel upon it? It had taken Vidar weeks to pull it off and months to perfect it to the point that, when he was finishing his sentence, his voice was quite flat.

    "Only one of us should," he continued in a drone, "as it would minimize the chance of total capture and failure if there happens to be hostility in this mill." Overall, Vidar felt he was the better choice, but felt like he should ask and give Ara the option as she had had so little control over the events of the day so far.

    @AJPhips
     
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  4. Scalerender

    Scalerender Chaos Sphere Benefactor

    Illian's horse reacted with unease as the prisoner fell between them and neighed in dismay while trotting backwards. The Half-elf had no trouble calming his steed but an expression of anger flashed across his face, his cheeks flushed red.

    "You Bastard!.." He exclaimed, quickly glancing towards Stavros and then Elise as she reached Isaac before him. He did his best to regain some composure but was obviously fuming at the behavious of the Mage Hunter and his complete disregard for his prisoner. Bigoted as he may be, Illian was not cruel. Elise's display of magic and the following retaliation made his snort in disgust, the feeling of magic being drawn from the aether and into Elise an almost perverse display for him. Suddenly has was reminded of their predicament altogether and he gave Stavros and quick angry look before ordering his horse to turn away, readying himself to continue their travel to whatever destination Stavros had in mind.

    Stavros held his gaze on marcus as he gave the command, showing the Seeker no reprieve from his contempt. In truth Stavros was relieved it had taken, despite his truthful feelings towards the thugs they still represented his order and it would have been a stain on his honour to have to take up arms against him. The petty jabbing and retaliation on both sides tired him, things had gotten so bitter it seemed foolishly ideological to believe it would get better. Dropping Isaac on the floor was a step to far and were Stavros still a hotheaded youth like Illian he would have lashed out at the man. He snorted, glaring at their leader as he spoke... "Pathetic, the lot off you... get out of here..."

    Once the Mage Hunters were out of sight he turned his horse and trotted towards Elise and the boy, unhooking a water flask from his belt and offering it to her. He regarded Elise for a moment, he wished to chastise her for her behaviour but she was already strained as it was...Push her further and she'll break...She's rash and unpredictable... Instead his eyes locked on Isaac, the crippled young man would slow hem down in this state, the Mage Hunters might be cowards but he had to assume the boy was only as helpless now because of the collar. He sighed deeply, reaching for his belt to a set of keys used to unlock the Mage-Bane collars.

    "Tell me boy, are you what those "men" said?.... A murdering apostate?... "

    Isaac's eyes fixed hopefully first on the waterskin, then on the keys to the collar. He swallowed hard before answering, nervously trying to wet his lips with a dry mouth. All he could do was try to explain and pray Stavros would hear him.

    "For all the word of a mage boy is worth against that of his accuser, my Lord, I am not," he responded quietly but steadily, meeting and holding Stavros's gaze. "My father was old, and had been very ill for months. I came back to the house to find him-" here Isaac's voice wavered, tightened, but he still did not look away. "There are marks on his chest from my hands, but it was not I who killed him. I found him dead from his disease. I tried to heal him, such is the nature of my magic, but I cannot bring someone back from beyond the veil.

    "My brother, Carson, believes as many in the city do, that magic is innately evil and corrupting. I could never tell him about my powers, I could never register, he would have turned me in without a second thought, even before Pa's death."
    Isaac glanced over at the squire who had looked at him earlier with such angry eyes. "You have no reason to believe me but this: I loved my father, and I still do now." He couldn't help but be more aware than ever of Elise's presence directly behind him. "Family is not something to throw away," he finished, hands closing tight around the reins. He had no idea if Stavros would listen at all, but there was nothing left to do but try.

    Stavros scrutinised every word the young man uttered and found himself unable to notice any deception, considering the way the local chapter had fed the superstitions about mages the scenario Isaac offered seemed more likely then a man his age being a "powerful and dangerous sorcerer". His eyes went to Elise for a moment, she had actually confessed to murdering a man in cold blood and he allowed her to walk unbound.... What would be the point? Stavros sighed and nodded, he leaned over somewhat awkwardly to bring the key to the lock of the collar and free Isaac of his binding. He took the collar and added it to the one already hanging from his belt, he gave a quick glance over his shoulder and then addressed Isaac again.

    "What's your name young man...."

    Isaac couldn't help but take in a fast breath as the collar was removed, lifting with it not only a physical weight but an incorporeal one that had pressed uncomfortably on his powers. The metal pulled at his burned skin, but the sting of the aggravated wound was nothing compared to the relief of his freedom. "Thank you," he breathed in amazement. He couldn't believe Stavros had really listened to his side of the story. Maybe there were good people in the Mage Hunters' ranks after all.

    As the collar was removed, Isaac reached for the familiar power, letting it strengthen his muscles and center his balance. It was slightly uncomfortable with the squire around, the other man's energy an unfriendly buzz in his ear, and the presence of other mages who he knew could sense his power made him almost self conscious, but it was well worth it to have control over his faculties back. With the action, he reclaimed some slight measure of his dignity. He sat visibly straighter on the horse, able to hold himself upright again.

    "Isaac Castman, sir," he answered, bowing his head in a respectful greeting. "Please, could I have some water?" He didn't think he had the strength to heal himself at the moment, nor the woman who had helped him, not until he had had something to drink. It was taxing simply keeping himself upright, he did not have the energy to spare for minor, non-life-threatening wounds. He would heal them as soon as he was able, hiding the evidence of his and the woman's sorcery.

    Stavros nodded in acknowledgment and allowed Isaac moment to help himself to some water before readying himself in the saddle once more and continuing.

    "Preserve your strength, we won't have much time to rest in the near future and right now we need to find someone before it's too late...." He looks at Elise for a moment, eyes meeting hers for a moment. He bit back voicing more concerns on her temper and added." Your shoulders and back should be straight, and the widest part of your feet should be positioned in the stirrup...."

    He then glanced back at the elven lady in their company, at least her composure had been allot more reliable then the passionate and reckless woman whose sister they now found them looking for. He offered her a nod, a sign of gratitude for the trust she had been placing in him.

    "Let's go, time is of the essence...." He declared to all..

    With that he urged his horse into a gallop again and refrained from pushing their steeds, or riders, any further then what was required now that one horse had two riders. He prayed there'd be no more patrolls and made sure to leave the main road once the opportunity arose, it wouldn't be long now before the mill would become visible in the distance.

    Illian watched as everyone passed him by and he looked at the group of mages Stavros had surrounded himself with. He glanced back over his shoulder, the Mage Hunters were long gone, Braedon still visible in the distance behind them. He sighed and shook his head a little, this was becoming more complicated and dire then he imagined. Magic was summoned in his presence more then ever before and Stavros kept him from banishing it like he had learned how to do. With Isaac now with them the air seemed to crackle with arcane energy and Illian was at a loss as to what this meant. He spurred his horse into following them after staying behind for some moments, whatever it was that Stavros was planning he wasn't going to let three Mages go about warping reality whenever they felt like it, not if he had anything to say about it...

    @inkdragon @MJK2431 @Maeriel (Parts with Isaac written by @inkdragon )
     
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  5. AJPhips

    AJPhips A Little Broken

    Ara nodded again, still not wanting to speak. She just wanted to get this done. Try her best to save Isaac and then she could just be done with everything, with life. Perhaps she'd even die trying. It barely mattered anymore. She jumped quickly at the idea of being the one who would scope the place out. It would do her better to be active instead sitting alone on the hill, left to think about things she no longer wanted to think about. She felt numb, and she wanted to stay this way. It was easier to feel nothing instead of everything.
    She pulled herself to her feet, remaining low, slowly making her way down towards the mill without a look back. She wasn't exactly trained in stealth, but she needed to get away, to do something. Besides, she'd rather be the one who got caught if it was a trap. If it was Vidar in her place, Ara would be powerless to stop another friend from capture or death.

    Ara crept closer, stopping every now and then in the long grass to watch and listen. There was still no sign of any activity within or around, but if they knew she was coming they could be hiding and ready to pounce. If that was the case, she just hoped they did not know Vidar was here as well. Finally she made it close to the entrance, and bravely she left the cover of the grass to press herself against the wall, peering into the opening. Light streamed in from the holes in the walls allowing Ara to see outlines in the otherwise fairly dark room. It seemed to be almost empty inside, besides some old and broken looking cogs and machinery, some barrels and old piles of hay. From what Ara could tell, the place was abandoned but then Ara had never seen the inside of a mill before.

    She shrugged back up in the direction she thought Vidar was in before stepping through the doorway.

    @Shadras
     
  6. MJK2431

    MJK2431 ✿❀❁

    When the male fell to the ground, Valerie herself nearly got off her horse to help him up. Elise got there first though, the elven female placing her feet back in the stirrups she had halfway removed in order to get onto the ground. She grit her teeth together once more, needing to breath in deeply to maintain her composite. She was normally a levelheaded person, finding it easy to keep herself calm and removed from acting without thinking. These people though...the 'humans'....they managed to bring out the worst in her just as well as they brought out the worst in each other.

    The elf stared hard at the man who had kicked the crippled mage down, fuming quietly as her anger spiked once more. "What a pity it is to see that you treat one of your own with such cruelty. I wonder, how you would have felt if your roles were reversed...especially considering that the only difference between you and the fellow mage you just knocked down is the colours stretched on your horse and the use of your legs. I can't help think about how differently you might act if you had not been picked up by this chapter in Braedon and instead was forced to live as most mages do... in the dark and dust, hoping for the best but always being forced to expect the worse. I strongly suspect your air of superiority and malice would be reversed."

    Valerie's jaw muscle feathered and twitched after she had said her piece. Her blood was still running hot, any small stones scattered on the ground near her horses feet jumping and sputtering on the ground almost unnoticeably because of her elemental magic flaring. An unusual strong gust of wind blew through the tall grass bordering the dust road, whipping up loose clothing and sending more clouds of dust into the air. It was gone before it was barely there though, the elf sighing deeply and settling on her horse once more.

    The male was soon freed of his collar and placed on Elise's horse, straightening but the tension in his body showing that he was still under immense strain. Valerie guessed he was weak, tired and most likely drained. He needed rest and sustenance, that much was obvious.

    Illian's magic was affecting her, his brooding mood and own anger at the situation making her head hurt and her magic feel icy as it danced within her. She looked to him, her pointed ears pricking up but then drooping as she had a fleeting thought that she banished as soon as it entered her mind. I wonder what would happen if he tried enhancing magic instead of inhibiting it... No, no....I shouldn't meddle. He hates mages and I'm sure elves if he hasn't sought us out before.

    Valerie followed the group, left with her growing worry and concern about her future. She sat low on the horse, wishing that she could clear her mind and be back in simple days where she could sit with her kin drinking sweet wine while they danced, talked and gossiped about the far -off strange humans most of them would never find the need to get involved with. She had been thrust into this situation, now she just had to make the best of it.

    The odd gusts of wind seemed to follow the group as they rode, rising and falling unnoticed by Valerie and her varying moods which were the cause of them.

     
  7. Shadras

    Shadras Illogical

    She had gone in; now there was nothing to do but wait and keep his eye open. Her shrug had told him that she couldn't see anyone, yet. Energy reserves running low, Vidar could only hope to hold out until this leg of the journey was complete. Then he'd collapse and sleep the remainder of the day and the entire night too. This venture was probably foolish. All that he'd learned today, and might learn today, he'd internalize fully tomorrow. In fact, he probably should have insisted on waiting until the next day before trying to figure things out, but his curiosity had driven him here. Whatever consequences would come, he'd deal with them as they came. So he watched all he could see, and waited for time to bring the events he had so often imagined he dreamed upon the horizon to him.

    @AJPhips
     
  8. Maeriel

    Maeriel Active Member Benefactor

    Humiliated by his helplessness, Isaac nodded mutely as Elise crouched by his side to help him up. He appreciated her comment that they would never speak of it again, it seemed she understood all too well how he felt at that moment. Once again, his eyes found the burned ring around her neck and he wondered what had happened to change her situation. "Thank you," he managed, voice too small for his liking.

    He was thrown a bit off guard as she freed his hands, giving her a puzzled look, though he quickly realized it was her magic that allowed her to bend the metal so easily. She, like him, used the power to strengthen her own body. Isaac hadn't met any other casters, besides Ara, and the similarity made him strangely comfortable. It made him feel better not to be alone in his power. When she threw the useless metal at the Mage Hunter up on the horse, Isaac couldn't help the slight grin that played across his face. He tried to hide it but doubted he had been successful. This was most definitely Ara's sister. He only hoped Ara was still alright, herself.


    It had been at least nice to see Illian wasn't all loathing, but it took just a small show of her power and the boy was back to his angry sulking. It was like he had to be reminded to hate and there were reminders all around now. Regardless, Elise smirked playfully, clearly well satisfied with the sound of the metal hitting the mage behind her, even if it was rather reckless from her part. She caught Isaac's grin and winked, saying only to him. "No need to thank me, Isaac." She let Val unleash her polite rage on the man, Lis knew it was going to fall on deaf ears, these men had learned that cruelty equated strength and a turncoat had to show it most of all, as he was still reviled for his magic by his peers. There was no sympathy in their ranks, which is what made Stavros so odd. Elise wondered how much of it was actually a ruse as the Inquisitor sent the trio running on their way to cause trouble in Braedon. Well... there would be updated posters of her face on the streets pretty soon, she knew. Lis would have a hard time hiding the burned ring which still glowed painfully around her neck and that was a very unwanted mark, especially in her line of work.


    Before Isaac could say anything more, he felt himself lifted onto the woman's horse like he weighed nothing. But rather than the rough treatment he had received earlier, this was gentle, respectful even. He couldn't hold onto the horse with his legs, but he gripped the reins as directed. At least he didn't have to ride with the squire. The boy had seemed angered by Isaac's treatment, but he still looked at Isaac with disgust in his eyes, and magic felt tense and strained in his area. Lis's felt like safety, a warm blanket and a full belly, though he could not meet it with his own. "What is your name-?" he started to ask, but before he could even finish the thought, Stavros had interrupted and his attention was pulled away. Everything that happened from here on out depended on how the strange new Mage Hunter judged him.


    Stavros rounded on them and cut the young man short, giving her the waterskin as he began interrogating Isaac like a proper Lord Inquisitor. No words were spoken, but Elise could feel the weight of the older man's disapproval over her actions. She regretted nothing, except maybe not breaking the nose of the man who threw the poor mage on the ground to further humiliate him. But Elise would not forget that ugly mug and what comes around goes around... She took some of the water, her mouth was parched and it was in no small part due to her recent diet mainly consisting of alcohol. Elise was not too fond of the liquid, in a city like Braedon it was healthier to drink ale, but the mage Hunter had access to the good stuff and the water was clear and so pure it was almost sweet.

    The woman didn't bring her attention away from the small interrogation, and the rippling of her tense musculature was visible as Stavros regarded the duo. Elise was ready with her 'weapons' to demand the removal of the collar... but it was not necessary. The collar came out and she shared in Isaac's relief, the young man was very grateful and asked for water. It took Elise a second to remember she was the one with the waterskin and she then promptly offered it to the boy, whose magic tingled at her senses as he straightened on the horse. Lis had never really met another mage who could enhance his own body the way Isaac seemed to be able to. Combined with her magic which numbed her pain, and enhanced her attributes and Valerie's emotional sparks which seemed to be causing small buffets of wind, the air positively crackled with magical energy. Elise couldn't help but glance at Illian, who couldn't be too happy.

    Elise's honey-colored eyes met Stavros' chestnut ones and she heard his riding pointers and the reproach behind it. She straightened herself, as much following his tips as a display of defiance. She cared little for the approval or disapproval of a Mage Hunter and whether or not he was truly going to help them remained to be seen. She'd not believe his intentions until she'd have Ara safe and sound and nothing bad happened. "I'm..." she almost said Viola, but the ruse wasn't really necessary any longer. "... Elise. Elise Gale. Nice to meet you Isaac. Welcome to our ragtag group of misfits, I'm afraid you'll be a little stuck with us for a while, we're in a bit of a mess and now you sort of became embroiled in it." She saw how thirsty the boy was and pulled a wrapped, sticky lemon cake from her bag at the saddle. "Hungry? I guess you noticed I'm not a great rider, so you might want to bear that in mind."

    Something was nagging in the back of her mind and as everyone started riding a little faster, Lis tried catching up with Stavros, promptly asking. "What exactly do you mean with 'before is too late'? What's going on? Is Ara in danger? Where is she, Stavros?!"

    @inkdragon (who wrote Isaac's bits) @Scalerender @MJK2431
     
  9. inkdragon

    inkdragon Understandably Confused Staff Member on Hiatus Warden

    "In case you hadn't noticed, I had done a bit of a job getting myself into trouble alone. I dare say this is an improvement," Isaac answered, matching her wry smile. He had been in 'a bit of a mess,' as Elise put it, since Pa had died only a few short days ago, and everything had gone downhill from there. This was the first time since then things had begun looking up even a little. At least now he was free, and he was no longer alone- no matter how much the group truly was 'a band of misfits.' And at least now he had food to fill his stomach. He accepted the offered cake eagerly, hardly waiting to take off the wrapper before half of it was in his mouth. "Mmnk yuh," he got out with his mouth full, remembering manners after the fact.

    He meant to ask her about the Inquisitor, quietly get some of her perspective on the man, but as Elise kicked her horse faster to catch up to Stavros's, he was forced to let it wait. Part of him still didn't trust the man. Stavros had freed him, which he had never expected, but he still wore the colors of a Mage Hunter, and years of learning to fear that banner did not die without a fight.

    "You are her sister, then,"
    he breathed before Stavros could answer, turning as best he could on the horse to look at Elise. "I knew it. Your magic feels like hers, I-I can't explain it beyond that." Quickly, he realized he had to explain, and he fumbled over his words as he backtracked. "I met her off my family's land, looking for farm work outside the city. When I found Pa and knew I had to flee, she decided to come with me, there was no swaying her mind despite the danger. We had headed north for the border, but I turned us back when I learned of her sister in Braedon. Ara feared her sister saw her as a burden andwanted her gone, but it didn't feel right." Isaac's face softened as he looked at the woman's shocked expression. He had been right. "I knew her sister hadn't abandoned her. I could feel it from the way she spoke about you.

    "When we were attacked by the Mage Hunters, they could have easily taken us both,"
    Isaac now looked at Stavros for answers rather than Elise for explanation. "I tried to protect us, but it was like she wasn't there, she couldn't make herself fight back. And once they got the collar round my neck, I was utterly at their mercy. If they had meant Ara harm, they could have done whatever they liked to her, but they left her be. It doesn't make sense."

    @Scalerender
    @MJK2431
    @Maeriel
     
  10. Scalerender

    Scalerender Chaos Sphere Benefactor

    Stavros gave a quick sideways glance towards Elise as she caught up with him and demanded answers that he had no inclination to give her this very instant. Isaac's interjections confirmed that the Mage Hunters had been the ones sent to intercept the girl. At least he would not have to worry about that for now. Elise was his immediate concern however, of all of the group she posed the greatest risk both in ability and temperament...not to mention that the woman was a murderer. Stavros knew she was a necessary evil, despite what she had to endure, and attempted to respond as diplomatically as possible.

    He spoke keeping his eyes on the road, his posture upright and firmly in control of his steed. He spoke with an even composure, trying his best not to let his frustrations and anger at their predicament surface during his speech. "I understand that you have questions and you have my word that I will share what I know. However this is not the time or place, once we locate your sister we need to get her to safety as fast as possible. What I can tell you ow is what you already know, she is the result of an experiment that has produced only failures before her, she is valuable to the Braedon Chapter and I have no inclination to allow them to use her any more then they already have. She is valuable and they know how to find her, hopefully we will be able to disrupt this through Illian's gift. I know this is not all of the information you want but first things first... I'll explain everything. You may doubt my motives but I have not given you any reason to think that I would go back on my word, If you do not believe a Mage Hunter believe a Knight of the Silver Flame." He turned to Elise, locking eyes for a moment. "Please.."

    Illian caught up with the group and slowed down to meet their pace, the gallop was slower then before but Stavros knew how to spare the horses and Illian had come accustomed to trusting his judgement, until now. His eyes were locked on the front rider, Stavros, his mentor... Is he? The question took Illian a bit by surprise, until today he had never once doubted the man's guidance? Was he being to rash in questioning him? The men and women of the Braedon chapter had been different from the other colleagues Illian had met, which weren't many to start with really. In fact Stavros had never been keen on meeting with any Mage Hunters, perhaps he was not he he seemed to be...perhaps he had always been the renegade he was proving to be. His expression reflected his inner turmoil with a worried and angered frown, it was then that he caught the stare of the Elven maiden. Despite his timid self he was simply to worked up to stop himself from snapping out at her. "What?! why do you keep looking at me?!" He immediately regretted the outburst and it showed, the hard and aggressive mask instantly replaced by a more insecure and shocked expression, like he wasn't fully in control of his own actions. It's the magic, its all around me, its making me angry. Still, he was to proud to apologize right away. Instead he looked away and focussed on the riding, assuming the lady would surely be taken too aback by his behavior to muster an answer.

    @MJK2431
    @Maeriel

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  11. MJK2431

    MJK2431 ✿❀❁

    @Scalerender @Maeriel @inkdragon

    Valerie’s stare had been noticed, the male’s abrasive and rapid response causing the female to snap back to the present and away from her analytical thoughts. His barbed tone made her flinch, the undesirable outburst bringing a cessation to the gusts of wind as she focused on the male instead who was just about the same age as her yet reminded her of some of the younger elves with the way he had acted. At first she was angry, her brows drawing together in a scowl and her eyes flashing a venomous green as a harsh response came to sit on the tip of her tongue, but the emotion and words seeped out of her before it fully filled her to the brim.

    All he’s ever known is cruelty and abandonment from elves. Best I not align myself with such an image and instead conduct myself in a way that he isn’t expecting.

    As soon as she decided against verbal retaliation, she could clearly see his carefully constructed mask melting away as dew did in the rising morning heat. She took a moment, thinking before she acted unwisely and made the situation worse than it was. She knew very little about what he had gone through and felt at a disadvantage in dealing with him….in fact, Valerie knew very little about him at all other than what he had presented her with, a boy who had been abandoned and taught to hate his gift as well as those he shares it with.

    The elf gave a short, irritated sigh, a corner of her mouth drooping downwards in a skewed frown as she came to a realization. I know very little about ALL of the people in this group. Could….could it have been foolish to so easily string myself with them? Then again…a debt needs to be repayed. A good deed for a good deed. That is the way and I will not lose who I am and what I have been raised to do just because I have been forced away from where I belong. The elven maiden had to keep reminding herself of her long-term goals, the need to right the chaos erupting in the elven regions.

    Until then, it will do me no good to make extra enemies or perpetuate hatred towards my kind. It would make for a rather unfortunate situation if I won a battle against my own kind only to be forced into war with another.

    She urged her dapple grey horse forward, stopping beside Illian. The discomfort she felt at approaching him would be evident, but it would also be clear that there was no hostility being projected from her. The elf cleared her throat, her emerald eyes occasionally glancing a Illian as she spoke before returning to the road so that she didn’t falter while riding.

    “I’m sorry for staring. It’s….it’s because just as you find my presence here unusual and uncomfortable, seeing you gave a sense of uncertainty and doubt to me. I have only ever known halfl-“ She didn’t finish the word, knowing that it may be offensive. Instead, she corrected herself. “ – uh, people like you to be present within our communities rather than separated from them. In my region, it would be considered shameful to abandon someone who shares your blood. I knew that some other regions rooted in the more archaic practiced this, but I have never seen an example of this cruel practice in person.”

    She looked down to her saddle, finding that this conversation made her skin itch and the tips of her fingers turn icy, more indications of magic broiling restlessly inside of her. The female took note of the sensation, noticeably terminating the increased ebb of magic as she was beginning to understand how it affected the man beside her. She placed half her focus on keeping the magic somewhat subdued, not wanting it’s affects to negatively impact her exchange with Illian.

    “I know you must have questions about elves…or at the very least rants or tirades. If you want help with the first, getting answers that is…I can wall up my magic enough so that it won’t discomfort you. If you need help with the second, then I would rather you get whatever anger or resentment you have out of your system on someone who can take it and deal with it accordingly. From what I have seen, Elise is in a passionate emotional state owing to her sister’s absence and the other male we picked up is sapped of any energy he has. He’s hanging on by a thread. I however will not be as reactive or as frail. You need to let lose whatever you’re holding in because your moods of anger and hatred are straining all of us around you. Those without magic through the responsibility they feel for you-”

    She looked towards Stavros for a moment before returning her gaze to Illian,”- and those with magic through the interruption of something we can’t hold back completely. Even with training, I can’t entirely build a dam on the ocean of magic held within me…with your influence though, you’re making it all the more difficult by turning that ocean into a sea storm.”
     
  12. Maeriel

    Maeriel Active Member Benefactor

    Elise smiled a bit divided as Isaac scarfed down the sticky lemon cake. It was adorable in a way, but it was also heartbreaking to see him so hungry, especially since it reminded her of Ara's extreme thinness, and the horrible realization she was barely fed in that nightmarish place... for years. And it's your fault. She shook the guilt away again, trying to focus on getting answers from Stavros, but Isaac beat the man to it. Elise was stunned by the young man's speech, her mind reeling as she tried to process the barrage of information. Isaac knew Ara. He and she had been running away from Lorr. Ara thought herself to be unwanted... Oh, Ladybug... The words stung. What had she done to bring that up? Except leave her to rot most of her life in a tower under torture. Stavros' punch to the chest and the burn of the Mage Collar had hurt a lot less.

    Elise's mouth pressed into a thin line as she tried breathing again, her eyes stubbornly growing moist a second time that day to make her feel weak and grow self-conscious. She'd have spiraled down for sure, if it weren't for the simple realization of Isaac's kind sacrifice. Stubborn, reckless and childish as Ara had been, she had gone out of the city, found herself someone in need and helped him, forging in such a short time a friendship in which the other person was willing to risk himself for her happiness. It spoke volumes of the type or person Isaac was and also was a sign that there was a life for her sister after the horror, the chance of meeting good people, of building something for herself. Maybe there would be for Elise too...

    Of course, such a small flicker of hope was entirely overshadowed by Stavros' words of doom. Lis was reminded of the gritty actuality. That her baby sister was experimented on, Goddess knows how, and that apparently, according to Isaac, allowed Mage Hunters to render her helpless, which was alarming. She didn't know how Stavros would find her sister and started to suspect it had something to do with what happened when he went to the Mage Tower that got him sprinkled in blood. The proud man, obviously some sort of nobility, not just a dubbed knight, had asked her to cooperate and give him her trust... 'please'. Elise still didn't know what to think of him, and all up to this point was resting on the tenuous base of him having released her from the cruel collar and guided her out of town. Shoring that base was Isaac's release, but until Ara was with her... she would only give him a reluctant benefit of the doubt.

    "Fine." Her nod was decisive, even if her honey eyes held all the weight of mistrust and dislike for his affiliation with the Hunters. Elise fell back, her horse naturally slower by weight and lack of a skilled rider alone. A few minutes passed in brooding silence. Then her voice sounded again to the young man sharing her brown steed. "Thank you for helping my sister, Isaac, even if you were rudely interrupted. It speaks a lot of the kind of person you are. I'm happy she found you, and I'm sure she'll be happy to see you again." The conversation helped distract her from the serious situation she was in as a wanted murderer riding among enemies. Lis only hoped they weren't too far, and they'd keep her sister out of the crimes she committed.

    @Scalerender @inkdragon @MJK2431
     
  13. inkdragon

    inkdragon Understandably Confused Staff Member on Hiatus Warden

    An experiment? Stavros's words gave Isaac a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach. He didn't know exactly what that meant, but he knew it wasn't good. Once again, he thanked the goddess he had run into Stavros before he had reached the Mage Tower. He didn't want to meet the kind of men who would turn a girl, a literal child, into some sort of twisted experiment of magical power. He wondered how much Ara knew of what had been done to her. If she was still valuable to the Mage Hunters of Braedon, they would not have released her. Which meant... Ara had never been truly free. It was all a lie. The thought made him want to hit something. Who were these people they thought they could play with lives as they did?

    "She was helping me as much as I helped her," Isaac said in response to Elise. His face was a little red at her words, and he ducked his head. "I only hope we find her alright. I knew her for but a short while, but it was long enough to know she deserves better than to be toyed with like a rat in maze."

    As their horses cleared a hill, Isaac saw on the horizon what appeared to be a beaten down, abandoned old mill. It was nothing unique, they dotted the countryside here and there, evidence of the people who had come and gone before them. Isaac glanced at Stavros, who had pulled his horse to a halt so the group to catch up. "Where are we?" he asked, confused. What could be so special about an empty mill?

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  14. AJPhips

    AJPhips A Little Broken

    Ara was absently fiddling with one the forgotten bits of machinery when she heard the sound of hooves not too far off. Her stomach plummeted and her heart began to thunder at the prospect of oncoming danger. Of course someone would come, if they hadn't been here already. Why else would she have been urged to come here? Her panicked eyes sought out a hiding spot, assuming she'd be spotted if she simply sprinted out. The pessimist inside her questioned the idea. What use was a hiding place if they could simply urge her to come turn herself in? But Isaac was still out there, and as long as he needed her she had to take what chances she could. Spying the old hay behind some barrels, she swiftly made her way over, crouching low and attempting to cover herself in the hay as she peaked out between the barrels. Maybe they were just passing by, maybe they wouldn't stop.
     
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  15. Shadras

    Shadras Illogical

    The earth tipped him off. Laying in the grass as he was, he felt the vibrations of the horses before he saw them. Until he saw them, he wouldn't have been certain if they were horses with humans upon them, but who else would be coming out to this mill save people? So he listened, and waited, keeping his eyes peering through the grass. Vidar only lifted his head to look, before putting his head back down. He couldn't guess their number, but there had to be at least more than one. Only a rampaging bear would be able to make that much noise in the earth by itself. He also guessed that these were the people that had commanded Ara to come here.

    Come they did, five of them upon four of their controlled horses. What a motley they make? he thought hollowly as they approached the mill. They wouldn't intersect him, coming on a diagonal from where the Braedon city lay. There was no way of warning Ara without being seen and run down. No, the best course of action would be to observe and listen as best he could. There was little chance to make out exactly what they were saying. But they were talking, he could hear their voices over the horses. Three men, two women, or at least, what looked like three men and two women road upon the horses. What part of him could hoped that Ara would have hidden someplace, rather than running out.

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  16. Scalerender

    Scalerender Chaos Sphere Benefactor

    Illian's raised voice made Stavros look back, his squire's temper had been a subject of many conversations between them. he knew that his flaring temperament was often caused by the proximity of magic and now, surrounded by several mages, he was being tested more then ever. Illian seemed to reign in his feelings more then expected and engaged in conversation with the Elven maiden, albeit somewhat hesitantly. He left the young man his space to fight his own battles, he was no longer a child and Stavros would not be helping by lording over him all the time. he decided to trust in Illian and focused on the ride towards the Mill in the distance. Stavros contemplated their path and was quite disgruntled to realise he was improvising more then anything else. The impulsive decisions aside did not change that he truly believed he was doing the right thing... The fact he couldn't remember the last time he felt this way was more of a burden then anything else.

    As Illian and Valery continued their conversation during the trip Stavros silently lead the trip towards the mill. The old damaged structure had been a fixed point along the road, Stavros had remembered it on his way towards Braedon and fortunately knew his way back towards it. He wasn't quite sure what he'd find when he arrived, the dilapidated structure was worse of then he had imagined and he wondered if the structure had been a safe spot to rendezvous with the girl in the first place. What if it had been a rallying-point for bandits, or worse.... Stavros came to a halt before the structure, between the tall grass and the mill itself. He looked around and glanced at the others as they arrived, gaze finally settling on Elise.

    "Your sister should be here... She might be hiding, perhaps call out to her?..."

    Illian looked around curiously and fell silent, like everyone else he was curious as to what Stavros had been doing in the Tower and how he knew the girl would be here. His mentor's behaviour had been erratic ever since his return from that place and behind the still angered expression there was a touch of concern there. Stavros was not one to be easily shaken and yet, knowing the man for some time, everything pointed towards the fact that the very foundation of his beliefs had been shaking. illian could not dread to think what that may have been.
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  17. Maeriel

    Maeriel Active Member Benefactor

    Deirdre watched Alfhild, that famous Nord temper, full of pride and fire flaring up. But her grey eyes studied the other woman, the effort in keeping things hidden, the seething cold rage underneath. Alfhild likely has only known scorn. Unlike the Fenrir of these parts, that sought the union of forces with even the half-bloods and thralls to aid in their precarious position, between Lorrite enemies to the south and Orcs from all other sides, the clansmen of the north were still very much traditional, looking down on all not of the blood... or of diluted blood. Deirdre was young, and to her, a sword arm against the enemies of the Fenrir was as good a sword arm as any, even if they were physically weaker... they had other qualities. They were less easy to provoke, they were quicker... and the rare thrall even possessed some magic at times.

    No... contempt wouldn't help solve a situation that was so important the Ancestors saw fit to grant Deirdre with a rare vision, more impressions, feelings, a sense of doom, than anything else, but still... She couldn't now succumb to her blood. There was some kinship, anyway, between the two, even if unrecognized, unknown. Deirdre was from a clan which once abounded with Shamans, more than the odd rare one that would grace the other clans every generation, but her gifts had always been so weak that she was never acknowledged as a Shaman, she was not even properly trained. All she knew was instinct, learned from snooping and the very rare guidance from an ancestor.

    Deirdre lifted her chin, closing her eyes for a moment, seeking that place she had created to escape, escape the horror, the rage, the pain. With a shaky exhale she opened her eyes once again, settling on Alfhild's blue and speaking more evenly. "You must. Fenrir may have many flaws, Alfhild, but we recognize honor above all else, above even strength. You are at a unique position. You can choose to ignore my words, do what you wish, follow your Fenrir blood and things will go as I said. The Skolmunding have united many of us, and would be the first to step up to reclaim what you seek for a proper tournament. You can be honored with a place in such for recovering something deemed forever lost, something priceless, or you can incite a war I'm not sure the North is prepared for. You can choose your thrall blood and take the item for yourself, or toss it away, condemn us to be forever fractured and eventually done. I think you should choose that you are both, and thus, something else, maybe a bridge. Whatever the case, you are right, you first must find him. If you are willing to be open to the things I said... I'll help. If not, I step out of here and let Erund know what you are after. The choice is entirely in your hands."

    @Shadras
     
  18. Maeriel

    Maeriel Active Member Benefactor

    "Everybody does..." Elise answered quietly to Isaac's comment on Ara deserving better, and from then on rode in silence, consumed by anxiety and her uncertainty. More than once she reached for her flask of mead, but couldn't bring herself to sip from it. If she finds her sister soon, she doesn't want her breath smelling like a distillery. Elise had her share in the tavern waiting for Stavros. She allowed the magic to wane, no longer fueling her bones and muscles, increasing elasticity and strength, stamina and speed, there was only a slight buzz, not unlike Isaac's, fueling the dulling of her nerves and the masking of her pain.

    Soon enough, their riding took them far from farms and similar structures and all there was around was... a derelict windmill and Elise had no idea why they were heading that way. Was her sister hiding there? It more looked like the hideout of bandits or the lair of dangerous creatures. Lis glanced at the young man in front of her, asking where they were, to Stavros, since she had no clue herself. The Inquisitor had no words, just continuing on, chestnut eyes fixed on the structure and Elise simply didn't have the energy to start another strained conversation with the man. "I'm sure we'll find out..." she reassured Isaac... and herself.

    Elise gave a sweeping look around the place with those honey-colored eyes at Stavros' words, but caught sight of nothing but grass, old and rotted wood, some metal parts and the darkness inside. She silently made sure Isaac had it alright on the horse before dropping down from the animal - because no one could truly call that 'dismounting' - and instinctively reaching for the handles of her swords. Elise stopped before her fingers wrapped around the familiar leather. Ara could be scared by the sight of naked steel along with the colors of Mage Hunters. The woman bit her lower lip and chose to forego protection in favor of caution and removed the belt with her weapons altogether, placing it with her bag on the horse.

    Elise took a few steps forward, her heart hammering in her chest, a mix of emotions taking her, fear for her sister's well-being, excitement at the prospect of reuniting, apprehension fir what might follow in the company of two Mage Hunters, shame for all of her actions... Elise took a few deep breaths, the way she learned to contain her magic long ago, using it to contain the trembling in her stomach spreading to her hands, then called out. "Ladybug!!! It's me, your sister! Come out if you can hear me! I'm here... and we've found your friend Isaac!" Since Ara thought Elise didn't want her around, maybe throwing her new friend's name in the mix would be more of a lure to draw her out.

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  19. AJPhips

    AJPhips A Little Broken

    Ara heard the horses stop far too close to the mill to be a coincidence. They were here for her, she knew it with certainty. It was then that a voice broke through those thoughts completely.
    Lis? Elise was here? How could that be, and more importantly, how did she know Ara would be here? Her immediate thoughts were of a trap. Were they using her sister? Or perhaps this was more of whatever was messing with her head. Perhaps Lis wasn't there at all. How would she know about Isaac anyway?
    The Mage Hunters had had their chance to take her when they had come for Isaac, why would they have left her only to come get her now? Unless they had suddenly changed their mind.
    Worse yet... what if Lis was working with the Mage Hunters? Maybe she realised the danger Ara posed and thought it better she be locked up.
    But Lis wouldn't do that, would she? After all, hadn't she said that she herself was wanted by them? Besides, Ara had been granted her freedom, they had no reason to come for her. It must be whoever was controlling her. Whoever had put these messages in her head were now here to claim her.. but that still left out why Elise was here calling for her?

    Lis had somehow found her and if her words were to be believed, she had rescued Isaac. It just seemed too perfect to be real and she wanted to cry at the cruel joke of it. She had definitely heard more than one horse, so her sister hadn't come alone. Ara pulled at her hair as she hid, at a loss of what she should do. If she remained hidden, she could miss her opportunity to reunite with Isaac and her sister, or the bad people would find her and take her away anyway.
    Elise was so close, and Ara wanted nothing more than to run to her and seek the comfort she so desperately longed for, but, at the same time she couldn't bring herself to move. Nothing worked out this well for Ara. It had to be a trick.

    It felt like a lifetime of silence, as Ara's heart thundered against her chest. Finally, Ara couldn't keep quiet any longer and she called out in a small, frightened voice.
    "Lis?"

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  20. Maeriel

    Maeriel Active Member Benefactor

    Elise stood there, just the wind on the tall grass, the breathing of the horses, the slapping sound of a torn sail from one of the paddles of the mill, no word back answering her call, the silence was deafening. She shifted, gravel and dirt louder than it should as her senses strained to catch any noise, any clue her sister was around. She looked over her shoulder warily, her honey eyes catching Stavros'. Are you lying? Is this a trap? The place had all the hallmarks of a good place to lay a trap... it just didn't make any sense, he had her in irons, so why release her? So Elise dumped the paranoia and tried to call out again, but as she opened her mouth...

    Her heart leaped to her throat and Elise took a few steps towards the mill. Was that where she heard it coming from? "Ara! Are you in there? We can't stay around long, it isn't safe! It's fine... I promise you..." Her mind raced, Ara had always been skittish around strangers, now even more so, she needed to give her something... something to ease her mind. "I'm sorry I left you alone, I was stupid, Ladybug. I should have stayed with you and told you the story of the wolf and the fox and left revenge aside. You have no idea how much I wish I had..." Oh how she truly did...
     

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