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Just as humans grow and change with time, interests change as well. I wish I had the urge to roleplay like I used to...

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Of Slings and Spears I

Although simple in concept, the hunt is as vital of a craft as the rest - if not the most vital. Just because the blessings of Avros have allowed us to cultivate the land and herd animals, it does not mean that we must grow complacent. Hunting is ingrained within an Eidolon's life-force.
– Emyr, First Hunter of the Lyra clade

"Get down, boy, down!" His eyes were locked onto the fleeing xo when a gruff, baritone voice snapped behind him, and a hand abruptly pushed his head down, shoving his face into the mud below. As he tasted the bitter and unpleasant soil, the youngster's mind reeled as dangerous thoughts fueled by anger and frustration slowly started to take form, but the man atop him had other plans.

"Haah..." sighing quietly, his hand tightened around the boy's nape, the mark on it slowly turning a dull red. He put a little more force behind his push, pinning and keeping the boy on the ground. What with the rain that had graced the area relatively recently, the air had yet to completely lose its moisture and, as the man behind him shuffled closer, the boy felt the clammy skin of the man's chin slightly touch his pointed ear.

"Get. Your. Act. Together." The man's voice, more akin to a growl at this point, made the hair all over the boy's body stand on end. "This is not a game, but a hunt, and you..." the man grabbed a tuft of hair from the back of the boy's head, forcefully making the trapped youngster face him before continuing. "Are. Here. To. Learn." Every word had been accompanied by a tap on the forehead, right between the two small, jutting horns that hid under the bangs of dark brown hair covering his son's head. Although his face had been muddied, the scrunched-up expression that hid under all that – as well as the emotions that he felt flowing into him through his hold on the boy's neck – told him everything that he needed to know about what his offspring thought of his words.

"Understood?" For several seconds, the two simply stared at each other in the eyes, but right before that itchy, tense feeling of conflict became palpable, the boy retreated his gaze. Seeing this, his father held him down for a split second longer before unhanding him and, as if nothing had happened, gave a couple of pats on his son's back before standing up and walking out of sight.

Although free now, the boy's pride had been injured. Slowly, he crawled back up to his knees and then to his feet whilst dusting off debris and grass that had tangled up in his clothes, all the while mumbling silent curses. As his hand made a pass over his side, he felt a bump on the animal hide – his coat had, somehow, slightly torn at that place. At the realization of what would happen once they returned home; the young man simply hung his head in defeat. "Time to bust out the sewing kit, mother's not going to be pleased…"

After some time had passed, the sound of hooves entered the boy's ears, and he rose his head to look at his father walking back with two horses trotting behind him. He watched as the trio circled around the small boulder he'd made his sitting place before coming to a stop behind him.

"Did you retrieve the stones?" His father asked, one hand extended towards him. The boy glanced at the corded loop, the reins of one of the horses, then looked back at his father for a moment before gazing back down. The man stood a good one and half heads taller than him and had quite the muscular physique. At first glance, not many would think that such a man was good with tasks that required finesse and precision, but his father had time and again shattered that notion by being the best slinger their clan had raised.

"Yes," the boy replied absentmindedly and made to grab the reins, only to be slapped in the head with them, eliciting a pained grunt. He swiveled his head back up and was simply met with a cold gaze, again reminding him his place in the hierarchy. "Yes father," he corrected his speech whilst gritting his teeth.

The ride back to the clan had been uneventful, something that the boy thanked the gods for inwardly. They had risen early in the morning in order to catch the long-furred xo herd before they began moving, and had wasted a good half a day on the hunt before his father called it quits. Upon their arrival, the sun had long set over the horizon; a multitude of colors washed over the plains as the afterglow of twilight preluded the arrival of darkness over the land.

Their clan could not really be identified as one; four families worked together to survive in the rough environment their ancestors had called home. The boy thought back to the teachings of the elder storyteller – a grandmother of one of his friends – of how some decades earlier, four hunters and their spouses had split off from a larger clade due to some infighting. Even though the northern bands have, and still do, shared some friendly interactions, it was known that foreign Eidolons did not really integrate well into a different clade. As such, the four couples had decided to start their own little band.

Fast forward to the present and the band has grown in population, but the four families remained a constant, albeit in name only. This was mainly because they had split the different responsibilities between the four, with each family overseeing specific things within the clan's chain of operations. The first two had been in charge of the traditional hunting and herding of xo as well as protection, while the other two families mainly dabbled in the spiritual, medicinal and manufacturing fields. As a result, society had grown to be quite regimented, with everyone assigned a role and a job from a young age.

A whistle from his father brought the boy back to reality, and he turned his attention to the front where two more riders on horses approached the returning duo. The boy saw his father pull further up front as one of the two riders mirrored him, with the two coming to a stop a couple xo's length distance ahead. Leaving the adults to their business, the boy rode the horse around and approached the other rider, another one of his close friends.

"Dylan, you son of a bitch!" The boy called out as the two locked forearms in their usual greeting.

"Hey now, you're sure you want to be talking about your aunt like that?" Dylan said as his eyes twinkled with mirth, his mouth twisting into a sarcastic smile. "Anyway, you look like you took a tumble in the xo pens, Cedric. What happened?"

His cousin's questioning stare only served to immediately sour Cedric's mood once again. After glancing back to his father, he snapped on the reins, making the horse trot further inward and towards the encampment, all the while motioning for his cousin to follow.

"Better get off these horses, it's getting late. I'll tell you on the way to the tents." Cedric said with a stony expression on his face.



&




Tension dissipated like steam. The moon and Yudaiel, or perhaps Yudaiel the moon (for now more than ever they were truly one), trembled softly in relief.

He was gone. They were off the moon -- not just the so-called Monarch of All, but also the wretched Fly.

Peace could be had again, but All-Seeing lunar goddess possessed all the time in the world and yet no time for such trifles as rest; there remained much work to be done. So she composed herself and then peered upon the Tapestry once again, searching across the endless plane of threads to track the movements of her many plots, only to find the search harder than ever before. A new haze blurred her Sight, no matter where she looked! Confusion and rage rippled through her vastness, and the moon seemed to glower at the rest of the cosmos.

Her Prescience hadn't been this clouded in a long time, for she'd done many things to attain clarity. With the passage of time she had gradually honed and progressed her mastery of her own aspect, she had eliminated the Shard that had been the foremost anathema to certainty and Sight, and more. Yudaiel had done more, acts that others would never have even contemplated, all in the pursuit of mastery. She had dreamt of a great and terrible being -- Ã̶̡͝m̶̰̬̍̈́p̸̱̀h̸͚̚͜i̷̧̓b̴̲͛o̷̠͑ļ̷̧̊e̴͕̳̎̓s̶͎̈̅ -- and merely by observing the flicking of its singular eye had she garnered a better understanding of Reality, a more expansive view of what was even possible for divinities to attain. She had looked upon the infinite iterations of the Codex back in time and discovered the unknowable secrets that Tuku had hidden, and she had gazed into the maws and innards of indescribable and alien Horror. Within its depths, she remembered visions and words sent through space and time from another being, one perhaps even more terrible than the cyclops, that thousand-thousand limbed and million-million ribbed giant that was infinitely tall, the same darkened silhouette that she'd seem looming over both the past and future. She had attained a better understanding of Iqelis and also of that black Flow over which the Fly presided, and through contact with Rosalind, likewise come to understand motion and rhythm. All of that and more!

Yet so much was undone the moment she had absorbed a second shard. The limitless potential and power was intoxicating, and never had she felt so powerful as now, but through the juxtaposition of two shards within her it was as though her mind and very essence had been bifurcated... she felt like someone different, someone impure, someone conflicted. She hadn't expected this, but she should have. It only made sense; how else would the Monarch of All be kept in check than through the countless contradictions and separate pulls of the nigh-infinite aspects of Reality that he retained for himself still?

Her toil and struggle was not so great as it would have been should she have adopted two more opposing shards, she instinctively realized, but neither was this inner turmoil lessened by any similarities between the quintessence of the lunar and prescient shards. She was a fish that floundered in an ungainly body, suddenly unable to remember how to swim. She knew it would take time to master this new state and come to terms with herself, and yet she knew also that this power was worth the pain.

In the meantime, perhaps she could improve herself. She had Seen her brother Astus, and how he had taken mere rocks from the earth and refined them into pure metal, then fashioned them into false life -- crafts so complicated and intelligent that they perhaps were truly alive in some sense. The Yudaiel of the past had been mere ore. Now she was to become metal. She Saw that to realize her inevitable triumph, she had to shape herself into the force, the machine, that she had always been destined to become.

First, that meant turning stone to steel, freeing the gleaming metal that hid within the ore, and adding strength and resolve to temper it. Candidly and honestly, she looked through her own woven threads and her own past, self-reflecting with utter humility for the first time in her entire existence. From a new lens, she Saw the errors in her ways.

I am erratic!

Emotion is good; it gives force behind every motion, the strength and desire to act.


Emotion is irrational; a slave to unreason is weak.


Is my righteous anger not rational? Is my pride not warranted?


The tumult grew and grew. Her mind bickered with itself more vehemently with each passing moment until it threatened to fracture and perhaps come undone entirely, and that looming threat was what finally pushed her to decision. Mere meditation or contemplation would not be enough; the making of steel required the burning away of impurities. She needed to surgically excise her weakness -- the parts of her mind that held her back.

But what parts were those?

The past was haunting at times but it always had lessons to offer. Memories flashed by: the snide words of the Monarch and barely restrained anger when he'd decreed her imprisonment, the rasped jibes and insults and threats of Iqelis, Homura's confrontation, and even those whispers of Ashevelen that she'd heard from afar.

Her confrontational nature, that proclivity to anger and to impulsively pick fights, had not served well. What had she to show for it besides enemies, lost battles, and His order to remain on the moon?

Is a storm still formidable if it doesn't rage, if it's not fickle, if it's not prone to hurl lightning at whatever dares challenge its heights?

Of course.
The storm is only deadlier when it lets its victims grow complacent...
when none expect its lightning or know where it might strike.


One last great act of spontaneity remained in her future. She focused and turned her gaze inward, her pupil wrapped around itself, and then she channeled her force of will. Telekinetic and psionic power coursed through every fiber of her being in one great feedback loop. She screamed. She barely remained conscious. The power remained under tenuous control though, and eventually she succeeded.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A cacophony of voices, screaming, arguing with one another.

The formerly transparent, crystalline mirror now opaque and listless.

They are the many that make up the one, but now find themselves fractured, broken like no other.

Tumultuous clouds rapidly emerging beyond the mind’s reaches.

A black, oppressive barrier, hell bent on making them suffer.

Heralding an age of ruination and destruction; the world left in pieces.


A faint ripple in the Tapestry, detectable only to those most sensitive to its myriads of intricacies, spread out, covering a vast amount of space. In its center, a wisp suddenly ignited, seemingly out of nothingness. But it was not 'nothing' at all.

This tiny flame was unlike any other fire in existence, for this was the flame of life - and what life? Divine. It needed neither air nor heat to proliferate, but should a mortal come in contact with it, they would very quickly be consumed by its hunger. Seemingly defying the most basic laws that this corner of the universe adhered to, it simultaneously boiled and burned. That, coupled with the myriad - one could even dare say "kaleidoscopic" - array of colors it emitted, and the contrast between it and the dark backdrop of the scarred and bare moon surface, painted a truly mystifying picture.

Iridescent waves of divine power slowly swirled around the small blaze, a thin, gangly tendril of which extended towards it. Oh, so tenderly, it poked and prodded at the fire - akin to a mother poking her newborn child's nose. Then, as if catching on something, the tendril stopped at one specific point before merging with the flame. As it merged, divine power started being fed into it, kindling for the blaze to feed on and grow into a mighty pyre.

Yudaiel hadn't expected this. She should have Seen this outcome, but in that moment, her Sight was obscured by the glow and shadow of all the luminous moons that she had yet to bejewel the heavens with, by the throb and ache of pains that she had suffered from others and inflicted upon herself, and by the many great and terrible beings -- primordials -- that loomed behind and ahead. Her prescience was almost worthless then; it hadn't even shown her that in in casting out Turmoil, she would be birthing another conscious entity.

Far below, upon the Galbar's surface, snakes slithered and shed their skins. Stags lost their horns, and nearly all things shed hair and flakes of dead skin in a great rain of food for the tiny beings that feasted upon such detritus. Yet this was different; if a divine spirit shed a part of itself, that part was not wont to rot. It struggled, persisted, and fought to survive -- just like this thing before her, the only other soul on her entire moon.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The others were gone.

The disparate voices that had so vehemently argued with one another and fought with venomous fang, who'd vied endlessly for power (unseen, deep below the surface of her psyche) and whose impulses had manifested so often to destructive effect, were gone. Not merely silenced; this time, they were truly gone for good. Yudaiel was whole again... more whole than she'd been, even before the trauma of being devoured by the Horrors, their innards deepening the cracks and unleashing all the voices even as their strange bile had tried to dissolve her very soul into nothingness.

Blessed peace was hers again.

Now only darkness remained, and even then, it was not the usual, comforting type of darkness that lulls one to sleep; as if diving into a cold, dead sea, a mix of arrogance, cruelty and aloofness was subsumed into the murk. Yet, the darkness ached – a debilitating injury had been dealt to the world, and a faint throbbing could be felt, ever present in the backdrop.

Silence..? No, there was a noise, something else.

Suddenly, a bright point of light shined within the previously pitch darkness, akin to a beacon signaling the way for the lost traveler. With the point at their center, ripples fanned out in all directions, searching, searching, searching… finding.

It'd been seeking her!

The ripples emitted by the point of light had bounced off something within the darkness. Akin to soldiers relaying information back to their general, upon returning they indicated the location of the target, and at that moment everything stopped. Serenity had returned to the dark, but not for long.

Abruptly, a beam of light shot off from the bright point, heading straight for the target – that ‘something’ that had been deemed as significant within the emptiness. Right before reaching its destination, however, the beam slowed down, coming to a screeching halt. At its end, a bulbous, lidless eye formed, taking in its surroundings for a moment before homing in on a small, floating, luminescent crystal.

Even with cracks riddling its surface, it nevertheless stood proudly as a whole. As if composed by many different, smaller crystals, each segment faintly shone in a different spectrum of light, giving off a sense of imperfection and fragility. And then, just as the eye laid its gaze upon the crystal, it visibly shuddered for a split second before projecting a single lucid thought out towards the eye:

“Are you my echo, or am I yours?”


Silence answered her -- contemplative silence that seemed to last eons.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Yudaiel's mind considered extinguishing this fire of life that she'd accidentally sparked. Ending this... this accident would be easy, and indeed, if she were at all like she'd been before, then she'd have likely done it without hesitation. Yet she was different now, the worst of her impulse and violence removed when she'd cast out Turmoil.

And this thing was intelligent. It ideabstracted at her, in its own crude and unrefined manner. It had inherited some manner of her own divinity, she surmised, for how else would it have sustained itself for long enough to form thought or take shape? How else could it See and Speak?

It had potential, and could be cultivated. She quickly and easily wrested control of the ideabstraction.

The eyeball that had floated before the crystal was gone, replaced by the spiraling expanse of an entire galaxy -- one of many. The stars were everywhere, and they were beautiful, like little pearls embroidered onto a vast velvet.

The fabric of Reality seemed to ripple, and in the sound of its rustling there finally came a whispered answer, "I̧͎̘̤̅̇̿̚ a̛̟͔͇͌̄m̖͍͂̇ t̟̤̂͌͜͡h̖͕̬̺͆͒̅̀ĕ̡̥̺̼̂́͞ ş̘̽̈́o̻͈͛͒u̝̮̒̎͊͢r̤͖̘͔̟̆͆̆̈́̀c̼̬̑̓̄͜ȩ̞̦̘̿̃̚͠.̟͛͋͢”

As Reality bent, the cosmos seemed to spin. In truth it was the crystal that dizzily spun, though; the eye at the center of that closest galaxy, the nascent spirit's origin and progenitor, examined every facet and angle of that crystalline form. Gemstones were beautiful, and this one was prismatic and almost perfect... almost. It clearly had the potential to be something magnificent, but it needed a strong hand to guide the chisel that would shape it further and chip away the imperfections... it needed to be cultivated.

So it was. In one moment it had been a crystal drifting through the cosmos; in the next it was a dewdrop rolling off the leaf of some strange tree in the desert, cascading down to water and nourish the smallest of gardens, a tiny patch of grass springing out from sandy soil.


Yes, this one could live. Should live. Would live. Yudaiel had never truly understood the nature of parenthood; she'd thought that she had, having witnessed bears defending their cubs, a manbjork swearing vengeance for the dead kits, little creatures suckling milk, and a thousand other sights a thousand times over. Seeing and observing the phenomenon was one thing; experiencing it personally felt altogether like another.

Possibilities pulsed electrically through her sea of consciousness: memories of her own banishment to the moon, before she'd ever truly descended down to the Galbar. She could view it from afar, but repressed deep down had always been a regret, and loathing for the Monarch, from depriving her of so many experiences. It had been enough to influence that field from afar, to merely witness all its events of import and live them through the eyes of other... but it would be even better to vicariously experience it through a child.

His decree that she remain on her moon -- or moons, as it was destined to soon be, would not apply to this child. It couldn't. Just as that thought made its way through her sea of consciousness, the goddess felt an oh so slight tug at her mind. Turning her attention once again towards the flame and the primitive soul within, she noticed something quite peculiar.

On the outside, the flame had begun to change – from the iridescent hue it started out as, it had slowly turned to a darker orange, akin to a setting sun disappearing over the horizon. It had also grown in size, now taking up as much space as one of those many large boulders that had – during the battle of the ages between Yudaiel and Iqelis – broken off from the moon’s surface and spiraled down toward the Galbar.

The blazing flame of life evoked memory of Homura. Others saw just the red goddess' diminutive little form, or the gleam of that spear she bore so brazenly, yet from the first moment of Homura's existence Yudaiel had Seen the truth: she was a raging inferno entombed within some cold statue of a simulacrum -- shackled, as it were. This conflagration wrapped around the crystal rather than simmering as a hot coal somewhere deep within. That was good. It meant strength and potency, rapid growth. Let her child wear its flame like a cloak.

That crystal in the heart of the blaze, as well, had gone through some changes during this time. Hidden deep within the core of the pyre now, it started to vibrate; its color, slowly at first but quickly picking up speed, shifted through all the hues known – and possibly unknown – to mortals. The outlandish flames of life that had been summoned along with its accidental inception at the hands of Yudaiel, that had been protecting it from the barren and inhospitable environment of outer space, had turned their metaphorical back at it, now threatening its feeble existence. They were burning it.

The crystal, as if sensing the change within its guardian, hurriedly tried to wrest away the ideabstraction that Yudaiel had stolen from it, its power too weak to create a second one. Even as it flailed in its desperation with a clumsy and unsuccessful attempt to reshape their shared dreamscape, within the ideabstraction their thoughts were linked close enough that Yudaiel could sense its panic -- something was amiss. So the Prescient relinquished her control and let the nascent spark weave whatever image it would.

A small piece of debris that had broken off from gods know where, was floating through the emptiness of space. Without will, without knowledge of its being or even instinct, it seemingly existed. Its creation ordained by fate or by luck, no one really knew. Within the vacuum, its only constant companion had been, for an undiscernible amount of time, the warming rays of the sun.

But without a way to steer itself away from danger, a mind to know of what was out there, it could not protect itself from its eventual doom. Alas, it had neared too close to its previous ally and companion, and so its friend had opened its arms to embrace it. Just as it plummeted into certain annihilation, a small, imperceptible voice echoed out.

“…help…”


The celestial planes contorted and bent. That one galaxy that had formerly been an eyeball was in the very center of a new face, superimposed over a thousand-thousand dim nebulae and blinding constellations, clusters, and galaxies as it claimed a place at the very center of the universe. But then the cosmos blinked, and the galaxy was a bloodshot eyeball once more. A hazy corona of star-stuff partially shrouded the three pupils of that Great and All-Seeing Eye, sparing the crystal from the worst of its overpowering glare.

The Eye did as eyes did: it watched, in silent thought, for what seemed like far too long. Near the last moment, vast bleeding tentacles -- like optical nerves and severed blood vessels -- erupted from the oculus and whipped around to seize the drifting entity. The strength of those stringy cords proved sufficient to arrest all motion; the tiny crystal was saved from the doom of time, even if it dangled in a net precariously close to that sun which had been dragging it away.

The blood that oozed out of the grotesque limbs extinguished the crystal's wreathe of fire, at least in part, and cooled it from the sun's incandescence. But all was not cold: a tinge of anger pulsed through the bleeding arteries. There was disappointment there too, the sort that despised weakness and spat in its presence.

One particular artery that had been spewing out droplets of hot blood suddenly ceased its heaving and coiled itself. Its end morphed into the head of a snake, and it hissed, "I̤̭͌͊ w̺̖̃͋ị̧̈̚l̙̈l̟̖̭̍̅͘ n̗͇̝̒̏͝ỏ̦͇̙̑̚t̩̺̤̔́̋ r̥̘͗̀̀ͅe͎̯͆͒̚ͅĺ̰̖̊̂͟e̟͌a͎͇̾̀s̼̤͍͐̎̚ḙ̮̫̃͛͘ y̡͇͔̑̚͡ò̺u̺̭͋̿̀͟.̞͔̭͆̌̆”

Freedom was only to come if the splintered fragment proved itself capable enough of self-sufficiency, and so the crystal had to learn to steer its own flight.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Doom had been averted, but how much longer?

The fire around the crystal had simmered down somewhat but had neither died nor surrendered. A higher power was restraining it and so, like a caged animal, it bade its time. Its prey would not escape it – could not escape it.

The whole ordeal had stirred up something within the crystal; the tiny, fragmented soul residing within had finally awoken fully. After having tasted betrayal, it had become aware of its predicament; through its primitive senses, the crystal could feel the mighty being's presence, enveloped as it had them in its power.

The being had responded to its plea, stopping the flames from devouring the crystal, and for that the soul within was grateful. The crystal could feel the overpowering authority the essence it was subsumed within carried – the being could squash it into dust without the soul even realizing it. Yet it also felt a kind of longing towards the being, a faint link that was shared between them that seemed… important.

However, it also sensed that something had changed. The flow of energy around the crystal gave off an... odd feeling. Previously it had been surprised, intrigued and, one could even say, hopeful. All that changed after the crystal had reached out to be saved. The energy imprinted within the fabric of space had become more reserved, withdrawn and aloof. As if a parent had been disheartened by their children's actions... as if they had expected something better...

The tiny soul gave out a low, droning sound as new feelings slowly emerged within it – remorse and guilt. Just like how the flame had betrayed the crystal, so had the soul within betrayed the mighty being that had deigned to save it from annihilation. It could feel an insurmountable burden weighing it down, as if it was nothing but a pebble atop the ocean floor, an immense amount of water pressuring it down, threatening to grind it into dust. Expectations.

Upon this realization, additional feelings swiftly arose from deep within the crystal soul, the droning reaching a crescendo. Flaring up like an uncontrollable wildfire, anger and indignation overcame it in an instant. Anger and indignation towards itself, with how little it could do; towards the flame that had betrayed it; towards the being that now looked down upon it with contempt; towards the harsh, barren world that it had come into being.

The crystal suddenly let out a violent pulse of iridescent light, shooting out in all directions around it. The flame that surrounded it – that same beast that had earlier tried to prey on it – bore the vast brunt of the impact resulting in it dying down quite a bit. Silence once again reigned.

Having expelled most of the negative energy that had welled up within it, the soul within the crystal felt sluggish and weak once again, however an unprecedented level of clarity took the place of the ousted emotions. It was up to the soul to prove its worth to its savior – nay, its creator – as well as itself.

The tiny comet stilled as the bloody tentacles wrapped around it, saving it from certain annihilation. Time and space were meaningless within the boundaries of the dream, yet what seemed to be ages passed before something stirred again within the tentacles’ grasp.

There, under the bloodshot eyeball’s gaze, vines slowly rose from the comet's surface. Covered with patterns of unknown origin, they slowly slithered around the root-like tentacles that had covered it, piercing through their fleshy exterior and latching on to them tightly.

Then, as if a snake injecting its venom into its prey, the thorns unleashed a thick, shimmering, black-and-white liquid within the tentacles – raw emotions: anger, betrayal, indignation, remorse. At that moment, the tiny comet burned with a passion, a will to pass on its feelings onto its mighty savior.

“I was wrong. The only way to help, is to release me…”


...

In the dream, Yudaiel released her hold over that crystallized fragment of herself. Its newfound bravery pleased her; however, like a newly hatched bird leaving its nest, it now would either learn to to fly, or else fall down and die in the attempt. The Prescient goddess has already grown more attached to this little clone than she had realized -- reflexively and anxiously she'd peered into the future to assure herself of the outcome, and only after that did she allow the hatchling to throw itself from the nest.

It would fly.

But young and impulsive things were easily swayed and influenced by something so subtle as the slightest breeze. The child's inchoate motivation and purpose facilitated, nay -- necessitated -- that its progenitor guide it to where it was needed, for its own good. For both of their good. So that posed the question: where should the winds nudge it?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The moment the goddess undid her metaphysical hold over the fire, like a rabid wolf, it launched at the crystal with ferocity. Made of instinct and pure action as it was, its momentary weakness after being hit by the pulse of power released by the crystal did not deter it from taking another chance at its prey.

Feeling the fire encroaching on its periphery once again, the soul within steeled itself to fight. Its own internal fire and drive to survive had been kindled by the intense residual turmoil carried over from its creator, giving it the perfect mindset to combat its first enemy in a new world - itself. Just as the fire licked the surface of the crystal with its scalding fangs, the soul within released a keening cry; another pulse of iridescent light rippled out, this time with the intention of subjugating its opponent, not just weakening it.

For a split second, on that small corner of the moon, something akin to a second sun emerged. A white flash of light gave color to the previously dull darkness of space; unlike a supernova, however, the aftermath of the ordeal was something out of the ordinary. Where previously a crystal wreathed in fire floated, now a medium sized, egg-like shaped cocoon existed. Its surface swirled with color, and a faint feeling of power and of the life budding slowly within emanated from it. It carried an echo of a thought within, possibly meant for its helper but also towards itself, the one who realized its own self-worth.

"Thank you..."

Silently, Yudaiel's power pulsed out through the regolith and into the newly-formed egg, filling it with a thrumming energy. It resonated and vibrated in its place for a few moments, and then was suddenly spurred into explosive motion as it rocketed away from the moon at well past escape velocity. Minor telekinetic adjustments perfected the course: the Prescient ensured that her daughter would land in the vicinity of the Eidolon Plains. She had yet to install an agent there, and the region's proximity to Nalusa could prove pertinent.

Time would tell. The future was still too murky and nebulous for Yudaiel's liking, but this was an improvement.





@Vec It was the best of times. it was the worst of times.


a time of ninja posting and rushing to reserve second OOC post for your CS
Ahhh good times, my writing was shit back then but good times. God I miss the days before Discord.


yes, the days when you could get 16k OOC posts :)


@Cyclone@Frettzo@Lauder
indefinite hiatus works
CHAPTER 2: Incident

“Good Morning.” The spirit’s voice – awfully playful this time – echoed in his mind as he slowly roused from his sleep. Melodic chirping and the sound of people going about their day could be heard coming from outside the inn’s window. Alger opened his eyes and looked at the ceiling, the muddled look on his face clearing out after a few moments.

“Morning. I dread to think about the source of your jubilation…” It hadn’t been once or twice that Alger had woken up to find the spirit excited, and he’d grown to learn that signaled it had been up to no good while in control of his body. Anything from running in the woods searching for alchemic ingredients, to finding himself with the results of a strange ritual, to even in the possession of gold not his own. It’s actions were so random that Alger had almost believed that he’d been possessed by a spirit of mischief and not some great sage from days of old.

The spirit did not immediately attend to his worries, instead letting out a soft giggle, almost ethereal. Its refusal to give a clear answer frustrated Alger immensely, but he decided against arguing with the disembodied voice in his head, first thing in the morning. It was only when he made to rise from the bed that he realized there was something – or somethings, as they were more than one – under the covers of the bed. He tried to move his arms, but they were pinned beneath their weight. His brain was already racing with the possibilities, but he didn’t dare believe his hunch. What could possibly be resting with him, in his bed, after he’d given his body over to the spirit?

He slowly moved his hands, clutching the cover from inside and inching it downward slowly until two tuffs of hair appeared in his periphery, one blonde, the other brown. As if sensing the cold breeze of early morning slipping under the cover, the two bodies shuffled closer to him, and he felt all kinds of things stirring, both under the sheets and in his mind.

“We will have to talk about boundaries… again…”

The only response was more giggles.


“At the very least, tell me you didn’t…” Alger tried to remain relatively calm as he stood in front of the table in his room, idly re-checking the contents of his bag.

“You can rest assured, boy. I am able to start and stop several functions of your body while it’s under my control.” This time the spirit talked in a gruff, confident voice, something that elicited hope in the young man.

“Hmm, good. I cannot leave bastards whenever I go like my father, not at this time.” Alger’s face scrunched up at the thought of his half-siblings; he’d help the unfortunate souls that shared some common blood with him whenever he’d come across one, but he had grown increasingly weary of the reputation of his House’s lord. Introductions with this kind of infamy tied to his family name and it was no surprise that Alger was fed up with the idea.

“At this time? So, maybe, some other time is alright with you?” The voice changed to playful once again, making Alger feel like a fool for having opened his mouth. Well, technically he hadn’t as the conversation had taken place in his mind, but nevertheless he opted to change the topic before the spirit could make fun of him more.

“The clergy of this place are powerful. I’ve heard from Robert that they fall under the jurisdiction of some influential High Priest, straight from Paterdormus.” Ashford, whilst medium in size relative to other settlements, had been one of importance to the holy capital of the Exalted faith as it was one of the last stops before the Ashgate itself, and thus acted as a resupply town for the clergy permanently stationed at the Gate itself. Thus, the presence of the faith was quite strong in this little hamlet, with not one but two churches having been built in it.

Alger rummaged through his knowledge of the place as he exited his room, heading down the stairs for breakfast. The main area of the inn was quiet in the early hours of morning, with few patrons occupying the tables and going through breakfast of their own. Alger took a seat at one of empty tables and motioned for the barkeep. A gruff man, different form the one that led him to his room the other day and almost twice his size, ambled towards him.

“Yes.” The man’s voice could rival the spirit’s rougher one, and his laconic tone gave nothing away as to his mood or thoughts.

“Simple breakfast, what do you have?” Alger responded in a simple manner as well, thinking it would fare better with the man.

“Bread, cheese, meat sausage.” The barkeep replied, his face akin to stone.

“What kind of meat?” Alger questioned, an action that garnered him a strange look from the man.

“The animal kind.” The barkeep said simply, the words coming out of his mouth sharply before turning and walking away, presumably towards the kitchen.

Alger gawked at the man’s back as he walked away from the table, confused about the reason of the barkeep’s sudden hostility towards him. “I don’t particularly remember meeting that person before…”

Regardless, Alger put the strange incident at the back of his mind as there were more important matters to consider. He would be meeting up with the smuggling group in two days’ time. There were preparations to be made in order to secure safe passage into any place, especially if that place would be Arugoth.

“Well, they should be trustworthy enough since they are getting paid…” Alger’s thoughts wandered, and the spirit – which had been silent for some time now – made its own little addition. “I will take care of them if they get any funny ideas.” Alger could feel the spirit’s bloodlust suffuse his being for a split second before subsiding, but even that moment was enough to inflame his emotions enough to make him lose his calmness. On impulse, he banged the table with a closed fist, eliciting surprised looks from several patrons. Once his head cleared again, he looked around in embarrassment and then back at the table, and his eyes homed in on the dent that his fist had made on the wooden material.

“Your strength will grow with time. The effect of your channel’s opening is only just starting to show.” The spirit offered its words in a neutral, almost aloof voice now, the kind that Alger had grown to respect the most. The spirit usually assumed this voice whenever it taught him things about magic, alchemy, and the mysteries of the world, and so he’d come to always expect something interesting to learn whenever it was the one talking to him.

“Yes… Recently, I have been having a strange feeling of something crawling inside of me… is this power? Magic?”

“Inconsequential information, not required at this time.”

Not satisfied with the answer he’d gotten, Alger was about to push for more out of the spirit when a familiar woman walked up to his table, depositing a plate of food and a small, wooden tankard filled with ale. Alger looked at the woman, and she looked back at him with a slight smile that brought back very recent memories.

Even before he had a chance to talk, she sat down on the table next to him, the cheerful expression on her face betraying her mood. “Ah, hello handsome. Hope my father didn’t make a bad impression on you. He doesn’t like it when I…” she came a little closer again and continued. “When I meet new people. He doesn’t like that, but I do. It’s very pleasurable, and quite profitable, if I say so myself.”

The woman’s words struck Alger like a hammer striking hot metal, and the young man felt a few beads of sweat forming at the top of his forehead. “Aha ha, so that was your father…” He mustered after a few moments of awkward silence.

“Yeah, so regarding that story you were telling me the other night. What happened after the giant frog ate the princess?”

“Ah? Frog? Princess?” Alger was growing more and more confused with every second, whilst the giggles from the spirit had once again returned, now even more intense.
CHAPTER 1: Impetus
Early Spring, 315 P.F.

Jensen had seen many things during his time manning the bar of the inn in his hometown of Ashford. Anything from visiting rowdy mercenaries looking for a place to drink away their coin, to clergy of the Church deciding to stop and spent the night while on their way to man the garrisons of the Ashgate. Hence, he had not been surprised when two, relatively well-dressed, men came before him asking to book a room. Whilst going through the established routine, he took a moment to analyze the two men.

The older one seemed a little more reserved, satisfied in waiting one step behind the younger one and leaving all the talking to him. The graying hair of his temples and moustache were the only two things betraying his age, with the rest of his body’s musculature being evident to the naked eye, even as it was hidden under the linen lining of his tunic. From his hard gaze that scanned the inn and its patrons, to his right hand resting on the pommel of his sheathed sword, Jensen assumed that the man had seen his fair share of battle in his lifetime.

On the other hand, the younger one seemed to be the more approachable of the two. His fair complexion, dirty blond hair and blue eyes gave him an air of nobility that he no doubt, in the innkeeper’s mind, was a part of. He wore an affable smile on his face throughout his interaction with the innkeeper, making small talk here and there as they were led to their room by him.

“There is a small fireplace for you to keep warm,” Jensen said as he pointed at the corner of the room. “I will also arrange for a tub of hot water to be brough to you later, should you want to wash away dirt and grime caught during your travels.”

“That would not be necessary.” The young man rejected his offer with surprising sharpness, catching the innkeeper off-guard. “We’ve travelled for some time and haven’t had a chance to rest, so we’ll be doing just that. Likewise, there is also no need to bring our breakfast over. We will be having it with the rest of the patrons in the dining room downstairs tomorrow morning.”

After a moment’s hesitation, Jensen assented. “Very well. I shall take my leave then,” he said with a slight bow and exited the room, closing the door behind him. With a deep sigh, he slowly made his way down the stairs whilst deep in thought.



“I beg you to reconsider. Your fa-” the older man’s gruff voice was stopped to a halt at the other’s gesture. Bringing his hands to his head, the younger man massaged his temples for a moment. With his eyes closed, he took a couple of deep breaths and gathered his thoughts in order to reply.

“My father has no say on what I will do with my life. He is a tired, old greybeard with no honor to his name. At least, not anymore. He wiped away any measure of that when he left my mother’s family get slaughtered like… like pigs by the Arcosi…”

“I am sorry for your loss; I understand your pai-”

“Do you now?” The young man swiftly left the chair he was sitting on and walked over to the older man, grabbing him by the collar of his vest. “Why are you really here, huh?! Did my father send you over to finish what his Arcosi friends couldn’t? Send you over to kill me?!”

At once he pushed the older man away and splayed open his arms, the expression on his face turning ferocious. “Come on now, do it! Do it, you coward. Kill me!”

Silence blanketed the room as the two men regarded each other. One huffing and puffing in his rage, whilst the other just stood there, his gaze leveled at the younger one. After what felt like an eternity, the younger man visibly deflated as he grew calmer. With slow steps, he moved over to the corner of the room in order to light up the fireplace. “If you are not here to kill me, get out. Take some coin from my pouch and rent yourself a room, but I do not want to see you wait for me downstairs tomorrow. Now, get out.”

The tiredness in his voice and the finality of his words gave no further leeway to the older man to talk. With a small sigh of his own, he turned around and walked to the closed door. He hesitated for a moment, turning to look one last time at the boy he had helped raise up into a man, in the absence of a doting father. For a man of his age and experience, the times he had cried could be counted with the fingers of just one hand, and yet he could feel his eyes tear up at that moment.

“I wish you best of luck, young master Alger. May the Exalted watch over you.” With that, he exited the room, leaving Alger alone to stew in his thoughts.

“Well, that certainly didn’t go as well as we expected…” An airy whisper echoed inside Alger’s mind after the older man had taken his leave.

“Robert is a loyal man. He is wasted in the employ of my father, but he would never bear to betray him as well. It is good that he left. I do not need, nor want, to drag him into my matters…”

After making sure that the fireplace had enough fuel to last him for some time, he walked over to the armchair and slumped down, sinking into it with a sigh.

“You should let me take over for a while. Sleep, it will do you good.” The voice was heard once again, ethereal and faint but ever clear to him. The spirit longed for freedom, he knew it, and so did it know he knew, for they been merged together for some time now. Through their unholy bond, Alger had come to realize a lot of things about the world around him, about magic and the unknown, as well as the wonders of alchemy. The spirit claimed to have been wise sage of old, that for some reason, had sealed himself in order to recuperate from an injury inflicted by a deadly enemy of his.

Back when he had first come in contact with the spirit, or Manzallu as he came to know it later, he had been almost certain he was going to perish. Yet the spirit appeared out of nowhere and made him an offer he could not refuse. Now he was bound to it, and it was bound to him. He largely remained in control of his body, but sometimes he would find himself in unfamiliar places upon awakening from his sleep. Evidently, the spirit had been taking liberties with his body while he was under a dream’s embrace, but Alger could do nothing to stop it from happening, short of not sleeping.

Now they had reached some sort of equilibrium, with Manzallu agreeing to always ask for permission before taking over Alger’s body, and him allowing the spirit freedom to act in “moments of crisis” as it had named them, without previous notice.

“Not yet…” Alger begrudgingly stood up from the armchair and walked towards the table where he had left his canvas rucksack. From within he pulled a thick, vellum-bound parchment book. This had been one of the most important things in his possession for a while, for he used it as a journal for both his travels and his forays in alchemy. He grabbed the rucksack and placed it on the ground next to the chair, emptying the table, and sat down. He caressed the book’s cover for a moment before opening it and turning to the day’s page.

Grabbing the nearby quill, courtesy of the inn’s clergy patronage, he dipped it into the ink and after some preparation, started writing.

“We entered the town of Ashford. It is a small, quaint town, perfect for settling in for the night. It is close to the Ashgate, but I will not be using that for my purposes. I dare not fall under Paterdormus’ gaze, for I fear the magical wards built upon the wall will pick up on the existence of the spirit. Despite their shortcomings, those dastardly smugglers will honor a deal built on the promise of coin, and that… that I have enough of.”

Alger took a moment for himself before continuing. “I told Robert to leave. I refused to hear his excuses, for I know that he could sway me if given enough time to do so. I wonder what my father’s reaction will be once his loyal housecarl returns empty-handed. I imagine that would be a riot if I ever saw one.”

“Lastly, I cannot lie to myself; the chances of surviving the journey to the lands of the orcs are not wholly in my favor. Nevertheless, it is something I must do, for it is only there that I can find what I need to continue. The plan must continue.”

Alger looked at his writing, and with a last tired sigh set down the quill and closed the book, placing it back into the rucksack. Across the room, faint moonlight shone through the opened wooden shutters of the window. The chill of the night crept into the room, but the warmth of the fireplace dispelled it. Alger stood up and walked over to the window, closing the shutters entirely.

He then took a moment to regard the room; hasty as they were to make the innkeeper scarce, Alger had not properly surveyed the lodgings he had been provided. It was a cozy little room, all in all, with all the comforts that one could hope to ask from an inn at a major crossing point such as Ashford. Of course, Alger knew that this had probably been the best room they could offer, but he rarely pondered on such things, though he would have to soon enough…

Feeling the tiredness finally taking a toll on him, he yawned deeply.

“Guess it’s time. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do, understood?”

“Of course,” the voice of the spirit came in waves to him this time, the most annoying variation of the thing as he had found out.

Alger sat on the bed and, after one last look at the room, closed his bright, blue eyes.

A moment later he opened them again, but this time they were red.

The red of blood.
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