Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by Digital Muse on Sun Jan 29, 2012 5:47 pm

T'yang returned to consciousness slowly, painfully. The fresh, clean air of the Temple seared into her healed lungs. Her muscles felt cramped from laying too long in the same position. Her skin no longer burned and as she lifted a weak hand to see if the boils were still present, she heard several people snap their weapons to bear. The blade of a glaive pressed menacingly at the pulse point of her throat. She heard a few whispered orders and the sound of footsteps hurrying away.

She took a few seconds trying to fathom what had happened and how long she had been unconscious. Being careful not to move, T'yang spoke softly, though her throat was painfully dry. "How are the others? Are they well?" She was met with a heavy silence. It almost had an aggressive tinge to it. T'yang took a deep breath to calm the surge of anger that swelled inside her. She would serve no one if she provoked the guard into removing her head.

The room she was in, from what she could see was quite small and windowless, given how dim it was around her. A prison, then. She reasoned. With a guard. T'yang could not fault the monks their caution. The last time she had been on the Temple grounds, she had killed one of the monks in a rage. She closed her eyes against the memories. Because of Tsume. It always came back to Tsume. If allowed to, she would redeem herself, make his spirit proud of her. She swore it.

After several long minutes, T'yang could hear slow, deliberate steps approaching the room. There was a whispered exchange outside the closed door and finally, whoever had been fetched had arrived. The blade of the glaive was removed from her throat and she sensed more than heard her guard leave the room reluctantly, evidently dismissed.

"Rise child." A soothing, familiar voice spoke from behind her.

T'yang's heart leapt to her throat. The Grand Mistress! The shock made her hesitate, but then she finally rolled over and rose, but remained on one knee in supplication. "Grand Mistress Adina." She murmured with her head bowed. "Forgive my footsteps staining this place."

The woman looked down at T'yang, taking in her humble posture with a quirked brow. "You came here knowing the fate meant for you?"

T'yang nodded, "There was no choice, Grand Mistress. It was the only way to save the lives of the others. The child is the Goddess, but her ability has been stolen." She paused as emotions choked her words off, "Tsume was slain." T'yang risked a look up to the Grand Mistress' face, and a lump formed in her throat. This woman could have been her greatest teacher and ally. But T'yang had thrown it all away. "Please, Grand Mistress, are the others well? When we stepped through the portal we all seemed to be taken with disease and I lost track of them."

"Why do you care?"

T'yang tried to swallow the lump in her throat down. "Because Tsume cared, Mistress. Because they were his responsibility." She looked up once more, "And now they are mine."

The Grand Mistress met T'yang's gaze with a contemplative look. "Your life was forfeit when you murdered one of our own, T'yang. You know that." It was a statement, rather than a question.

T'yang nodded, "Yes, Grand Mistress. I will submit to any punishment you see fit." She stopped and then added for effect, "After we have found Lord Udonis and returned the Goddess to her rightful place. The Heretic God cannot be suffered to live."

The two women took the measure of one another and suddenly the Grand Mistress smiled warmly. "Very well, T'yang. The members of the group are well. The young man Loki has filtered the ill-effects of the unrefined Essence from your bodies and saved your lives. He is resting now as it was immensely exhausting for him." Adina took a step forward and bent to take T'yang's hands and drew her to her feet. "Tal explained what had happened since we sent him to find Tsume."

Adina then turned leading T'yang from the sparse room she'd been held in. "Come. I am sure your friends are anxious to see you."

As they walked, several armed monks took up ranks behind them. Eventually they entered the meditation chamber where the others were resting and waking up. Now that she had time to spend, she was shocked at the change in Loki. He was a man now. He had aged from drinking the raw Essence Tsume carried with him. The others looked drawn but apparently not suffering from any lasting ill-effects.

With a bow to Adina, T'yang went to each of the group, speaking to them gently, making sure they were fine. Eri seemed frustrated about something. Raewyn seemed to be in shock. But after all the poor child had gone through, T'yang couldn't even begin to imagine what was going on her head. Jake sat cross-legged on the floor, looking remarkably calm and quiet. That was very definitely out of character for him.

But T'yang spent the most time sitting next to Tal. The big man's arm had been amputated from the severe injuries he'd sustained. She offered him a soft smile which looked out of place on her ordinarily cold features. "Thank you for explaining what had happened to the Temple monks, Tal. I doubt they would have believed me if I had tried." She placed a hand on his uninjured shoulder. "Thank you for everything." She repeated, but it was obvious that she was referring to being a friend to Tsume but couldn't actually say it. Instead, she asked the vagabond, "Are you going to be alright?"
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by quakernuts on Wed Feb 01, 2012 12:39 am

Jake had passed out not long after coming through the portal, which in itself was a blessing. He was so thoroughly unconscious that his mind remained blank for the duration for which his eyes didn't open. Slowly, his sense of the world around him started to reform in his mind. His eyes opened, but he couldn't see. His ears were working, but he could only understand mumblings. His mouth opened, but no words materialized. Instead, all he could hear were some incomprehensible noises that he could rationalize were speech. Slowly light started to fill his vision, and everything started to get clearer. However, soon the voices started raising in intensity, and suddenly something happened. Jake was trying to force his arms and legs underneath his body, but it was slow work. He looked over in the direction of the confusion, and could only make out blurs as someone was screaming with wings on her back. His vision finally progressed to a level that allowed him to see clearly who had wings and was thrashing about violently.

It was Eri.

"What the fuck?" Was all Jake could say as he finally managed to get his feet underneath him. His head hurt as if he had three hangovers at once. "What...what happened?" Looking around at everyone, despite his head hurting, knew that these people were not the ones that had hurt them. Two reasons. One, if they were, everyone here would be dead already. Two, if they wanted them alive, they would be in some sort of prison of confinement. They were neither, and he finally found himself in a coherent state. Looking over at what happened to Eri, and as she slowly started to come out of it, Jake hesitantly looked around expecting something to sprout from his own back. When nothing did, he couldn't tell if he was disappointed or happy. Instead, the monks came over, and started asking him quick questions.

How was he doing? Were there any ill effects? Was he feeling strange in even the slightest way? He had no clue. He felt fine, especially considering that he had nearly died just a short time ago. He shrugged these people off with a curt fine, looking around at his friends in the room. They all appeared to be no worse for wear, even Loki who was simply passed out. "What happened to him?" Jake asked the closest monk, who stopped to answer him.

"He used his powers to extract the raw essence from your blood streams, saving your lives." The monk was about to continue as to how he did it, but Jake held up a hand.

"He saved our lives, all I needed to know." Jake said as he looked down at the man. Man...huh, that sounded weird in his mind. He used to be just a child, and after one encounter with Udonis, they lost Owen, Tsume, Raewyn's power, and Loki's childhood. It was not a fair trade off for what they managed to take from him. A few underlings and a shutdown essence refinery. The odds had been stacked in Udonis's favour when they walked in there, they knew that. They just didn't know just how much. As Eri calmed down and started talking to one of the monks, most likely their leader, he wandered over slowly to hear her words. Most of which were simply what the other monk had told him in a nutshell, but when she went into whisper something and Eri went silent, he didn't say a word. Whatever it was, was obviously a punch to the stomach for Eri judging by her expression. Jake put a hand on her shoulder, and gave her a nod. Without knowing what the problem actually was, and not wanting to pry, he simply left it at that as his hand dragged off her arm as he left.

Jake sort of wandered around. He had no real idea what to do, and judging by the way he was fine, he wondered if the extra essence in his body did anything at all. The only thing that even remotely seemed to suggest anything was that his entire forearms felt a little warmer than usual. He looked them over, but found nothing to be causing them to feel like this. There was nothing to indicate that he had gained a new power, as Eri dramatically had, but he would keep an eye on it just in case. In the meantime, he looked to a couple of the monks who sat cross legged in one section of the room.

He walked over, and looked at them. So serene, so peaceful, yet one of them opened his eyes. "Is there something we can do for you?" He asked in a polite tone, Jake just shook his head.

"Nope...just wondering if you were sleeping." The monk gave a smile, and looked up at Jake.

"Maybe you should try meditation. No doubt whatever you have been through, it had to have been stressful. This will relax your body and mind." Jake rubbed the back of his head.

"Yeah, I'm more of a get up and punch something kind of guy."

"Even those types crave a silent moment or two." The monk returned. Jake gave it a moment of thought, and shrugged. He sat down, and adopted the cross legged position, after much discomfort and shifting of his legs, until he was finally still. "Now just close your eyes, breathe deeply, and commune with your soul." The monk stated, before returning to his meditation.

"Soul huh..." Jake cleared his throat, shuffled a bit more, and finally closed his eyes. he started breathing deeply, and after about five seconds, his eyes flashed open again and he looked to the monk. "Yeah, I'm not seeing anything...does that mean I'm soulless?"

"It simply means you are not trying hard enough." The monk stated without opening his eyes. Jake just looked at him for a moment, his facial expression that of 'Really?!'. With a little bit of resignation, he returned to trying to meditate.

Jake had managed to keep in this state for quite some time. It wasn't until T'yang came back out that Jake even shuffled. From afar, it looked like Jake had really managed to maintain a meditative state for the entire duration. Instead, as you got closer, you could hear him gently snoring.

"Snrrrrg.........Snorg......Snzzg...." When T'yang started talking, a voice that he recognized as one of them that he didn't previously count as their group visible, he startled. "There was an ogre!" Jake half yelled, half mumbled as he came out of it. He looked at everyone who looked back at him. "And that ogre was your mother! Oh yeah!" Jake rebounded as he stood back up from his nap. "Jake 1, Everybody else with an ogre mother, 0!" The monks simply stared at him, no humour in their features. "You guys need to literally have your funny bone ripped out to work here, don't you?" Jake stated as he wandered over to T'yang and Tal.

"I'm sure the big guy here will be..." Jake finally caught sight of his amputated arm, and stopped mid-sentence. "...Perfectly fine." Jake continued after placed a hand onto his face. "I'm pretty sure there's a pill for that." Jake stated as he looked it over. Jake then turned to T'yang with a more serious expression.

"Alright. So what's our next move?" He stated, looking them both over. "We're wounded, outnumbered, and down two members. I ain't no leader, and I ain't starting now." He looked directly at T'yang when he said the next sentence, recognized that she had been trying to direct the group back at the refinery.

"What do we do now?"
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by Guilty Carrion on Sat Feb 11, 2012 2:15 am

Tal stirred slowly, body still aching from the battle. For a few minutes, he simply lay on the floor, listening to his heart beat and the steady rhythm of his breath. The room beyond was mercifully silent, save for the hushed murmurs of voices he didn’t quite recognize. They were safe though, that much he knew, and his exhausted body wanted nothing more than to sleep.

“This isn’t the time for that, Tal.” Darren’s voice echoed, and he sighed, cracking his eyes open slowly to avoid being blinded by the light, although the painful rush never came. The room was serene, it was really the only way he could describe it. As he sat up, the vagabond gave the room a slow once over, noticing the countless monks watching and tending to his companions.

“At least we’re safe…” There were few places safer than the Temple of the Goddess, at least to Tal’s knowledge. As he made to rest more, memories of the refinery returned, and he turned his downcast eyes from the group. “That wasn’t a nightmare, was it..?”

“I’m afraid not…” Tal grit his teeth, burying his face in his hand. His eyes snapped open, and he stared ahead silently for a moment. Darren stirred uneasily in his mind, and Tal turned his head slowly. A gentle hand touched his shoulder, and he paused, looking to the monk that had moved beside him. The man smiled gently, soothing the tension from his body with presence alone. The monk sat in front of Tal, reaching over and slowly lifting the vagabond’s arm into view.

Tal paled, staring at the mangled limb in disbelief. It didn’t even look like it had ever even belonged on his body, the muscles twisted and swollen beyond recognition. The skin looked sickly, at least that which still had the semblance of life. The rest was a crisped black that cracked and broke as the monk examined the limb more thoroughly. After a few short moments, the monk shook his head. “It is as we feared. The limb is dead.”

Tal was silent, eyes wide with shock. It was…dead? “Is…is there anything you can..?” The monk shook his head. He released the arm, and the limb simply fell limp in his lap. Swallowing hard, Tal tried his best to push at the arm, to get it moving again, but beyond the straining of his shoulder muscles, it had no effect.

“It is too far gone, my friend. Even the surge of essence from the purification couldn’t restore it. There is little more for the essence to cling to than ash.” The vagabond opened his mouth to respond, but no words came. “I know this is sudden, but there’s a large risk of the tissue becoming infected and spreading to the shoulder.”

“You…want to remove it? But…”

“Tal…it’s for the best.” Darren’s words echoed in argument to his doubts, not scolding, but a soft, supportive tone the rhino rarely used.

The monk shook his head, as if sensing his thoughts. “It won’t heal in time. It’s gone. The sooner we take it, the less risk there is of it taking something else with it.” Tal nodded slowly, and the monk offered a comforting smile. Gentle steps approached, and the monk bowed reverently to the woman that approached. “Grand Mistress.”

Tal dipped his head slightly, before looking into her seemingly all knowing gaze. “It’s an honour to finally meet you, Grand Mistress.” His normally warm voice was hollow, but if it bothered her, she certainly didn’t show it. “What do you need of me?” Adina smiles gently at the big man. Her face smooth and yet filled with empathy. "Walk with me, Tal. We owe you a debt of gratitude."

The vagabond nodded, rising to his feet. “Thank you, but there are others who deserve it far more than me.” His eyes dropped to the floor. “Tsume most of all…” Even Darren seemed to shrink at the mention of their fallen friend, but his presence didn’t fade.

Adina nodded. "Yes. He was a great friend to you, wasn't he?" It was a rhetorical question in reality. She led the vagabond down a long, well-lit hallway with slow, elegant strides. "He was a great student; dedicated to his duty." She paused to look up at Tal with a smile, "He could not have done what did without you."

“He did much without me.” Tal murmured, smiling gently at the Grand Mistress. As they continued down the hall, he spoke of all that had transpired, Tsume’s own telling of their perilous journey still fresh in his mind. He spared no detail, knowing full well that one as wise as Adina would see signs and truth in even the most mundane of words. His eyes misted as he recounted Tsume’s death, but he kept moving, unwilling to break down in the presence of the Grand Mistress. “We…truly could do nothing to help him in the end.”

Adina listened without interrupting Tal, nodding as he spoke. Only occasionally did her countenance show her sorrow. "You have to understand, Tal. It was his duty to protect the goddess. Nothing else mattered, not even his own life." She stopped moving outside the room where the surgeon waited for Tal. "He could no more put his own life first than you could stop breathing." Adina placed a gentle hand on Tal's healthy forearm. "The goddess lives. You, along with the others made sure of that." She smiled again, though still sorrowful. "His sacrifice was not in vain. Nor has Udonis yet won."

He stared silently into the room for a moment, before looking back to Adina. “You’re right, Grand Mistress.” He bowed his head, although his great size made the gesture mostly pointless as his head merely lowered to face level with the monk. “Thank you for listening.” He turned to enter the room, pausing at the doorway and looking back at her. “Oh, forgive me, but I have a request to make. Not for myself, but for T’yang. She wasn’t in the room, so I figure she’s probably locked up tight somewhere. On behalf of myself, and Tsume, I ask you release her. She’s fought and lost just as I have.”

Adina searched Tal's face, knowing what he was about to face, what he'd already been through and what he would yet endure. "I will speak with her." She promised the big man. "But until I do, I can promise nothing."

Darren snorted in annoyance. “If she truly wanted us dead, there has already been a thousand chances for it.”

He nodded, a light smile finding his face. “Thank you.” With a final bow, he entered the room, swallowing the lump in his throat as his eyes found the curved blade of the surgeon. The room was small, but spacious enough to allow the occupants easy movement. A large reinforced table lay in the center, and the surgeon’s assistant wasted no time guiding him to it. The table was cold, and he shivered, watching the two prep out of the corner of his eye.

“The surgery will be quick.” The assistant smiled, holding the arm out from the table as the surgeon turned to face him. “Just relax, and try to breath steady, and even.” Squeezing his eyes shut, Tal focused on the steady rise and fall of his chest, trying to ignore the worry and fear gripping at the back of his mind. Soothing thoughts flowed through his link with Darren, and the worry numbed slightly. As the blade first touch the skin, he felt the faintest ripples of pain from the still living tissue around his shoulder, and as the knife descended, it only intensified.

“Tal, focus on me. Come, let us talk.”
Their link pushed to the forefront of his conscious, and the vagabond slowly distanced himself from the pain of his body. “Strange, isn’t it? How much the world can change in but a few short days?” Tal chuckled soundlessly, watching his companion in his mind’s eye. “It’s not over, you know.”

“What use is a one armed brute?”

The rhino grunted, fixing him with a sharp look. “There is more to you, more to us, than just a brute, Tal. Have you ever wondered why we have come to this group?”

“The temple asked us to.”

“Is that all you see it as? Mere instruction? Tal, short as it was, this journey has changed us, and it will no doubt change us again. Perhaps you don’t see it, but I am more aware of your mind than you most days. We’ve changed.”

“Aye.”

“No need to be so gruff. I can tell when you’re upset. For what it’s worth, it’s not in vain, Tal. There’s a chance, so long as you have the will to rise up and take it.” The rhino snorted, retreating from their link to his usual corner of Tal’s mind. “By the way, it’s over.”

He blinked his eyes open, feeling the tug and pull of the thread as they stitched up the stump. A healer saw to him immediately, sealing up the wound and dulling most of the pain from his mind with the touch of their essence. Sitting up slowly, Tal moved his shoulder slowly, finding the absent weight from the lost arm slightly troubling, but he did his best not to focus on it. Once both the surgeon and healer where satisfied with the success, the assistant gently tapped on his armed shoulder. “Forgive me, but during the surgery, I noticed something odd. Parts of the arm seemed to be attempting to move.”

Tal paled, looking to the woman in alarm. “Part of it was still fine?!” She shook her head slowly, confusion settling across her features.

“Easy, Tal.”

“No, we are certain the arm was dead, but there’s no real explanation as to how it could move on its own, unless you are a manipulator?” He shook his head slowly, and she frowned lightly, forehead creasing as she searched for answers.

Tal looked to the screen that hid the limb from his view, only to feel a strange…pull from the other side. It was intangible and yet it tugged and prodded at his body as if something was tied to him. Swallowing, Tal reached towards the screen with his hand, feeling his fingers brush against…something. It was impossible to truly feel, but there was little explanation for the sensation that gripped at his essence. Acting almost on instinct, the vagabond reached out, not with his body this time, but with his essence, and to his surprise, he found it latching on to something. Gently, he tugged, and from the opposite side of the screen, black particles danced towards him, hovering just in front of his face. It took a moment for him to realize what it was. “Ash..?”

The assistant looked back to him, only to find more and more of black shards to be dancing about in front of Tal. “But there’s no wind…” Moving his fingers slightly, Tal watched silently as the ash moved with his body, swaying on invisible strands of essence. “I thought you weren’t a manipulator..?”

Tal glanced over to her, a gentle smile on his face. “I wasn’t.”

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Tal had returned to the room with the others shortly after the strange revelation, and was relieved to find all of the others had awoken and seemed to be alright. Raewyn’s silence was unnerving, but the sternness of her young features told him she was deep in thought, or at least trying to make some sense of all this without being reduced to a blubbering mess. He offered her only a gentle smile as he returned, knowing full well he couldn’t truly help her with this. It pained him to see her still caught up in this mess, but there was nothing to be done. She was still the former goddess, and no doubt she still had a role to play.

Eri’s features seemed to be consumed with frustration, but her eyes spoke of something different. Something had gripped her, and shaken her to the core. But nothing about her demeanour said she sought help, and if she did, it wasn’t from him that she wanted it. Speaking of which…

Jake…Jake was asleep. Tal couldn’t help chuckling as he took a seat not far from the man. While he hadn’t known Jake long, it seemed only appropriate that if anyone could find some rest, it was the rough edged brawler. Loki was out as well, but that was no doubt due to exhaustion from his effort to save them. Tal made a mental note to buy him a pint when things had quieted down in thanks. Although that begged the question of whether or not he could even drink. The boy’s change into a man was an occurrence he’d never really heard of.

“Perhaps we’ll speak to him later, when things have quieted down a bit…”

Gentle footsteps pulled hm from his thoughts, and he looked up to find T’yang checking on each other their companions. Adina smiled in his peripheries, and the vagabond mouthed a thank you and bowed his head. Before long, T’yang took a seat beside him, opposite his lone shoulder. She thanked him, and the vagabond offered the biggest smile he could, however strained. “Don’t mention it. It’s the least I could have done.” Her next words stopped his thoughts cold, and his gaze fell to the tiled floor. Would he be alright? Normally, he’d grin and wave away the concern, but this wasn’t anything he’d dealt with before. “We’ll…” He started, pausing as Jake approached. “We’ll just have to see.”

"I'm sure the big guy here will be...Perfectly fine." There was an awkward silence between them, Tal’s eyes narrowed on the desperado’s face as he continued. “I’m pretty sure there's a pill for that." Rarely did Tal want to hit someone, but even against his will he found his hand curling into a fist at the tactless comments from the brawler. The question he asked was a good one though, and it forced Tal to discard the anger for the moment.

“Jake’s got a point…we’re a little aimless at the moment.”

He found himself looking to T’yang, smiling lopsidedly. “Well, I figure the monks have been pointing us around since the start, maybe we should stick to them?”
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by Digital Muse on Sat Feb 11, 2012 12:58 pm

Raewyn hurt everywhere. Her eyes stung as if she'd been crying for days. Her muscles ached and her head was pounding with the most intense headache she could ever remember experiencing. It was loud here. So very loud. Too many voices, too much noise. She didn't like it here. More than ever she just wanted to go home...was it home anymore? Even that thought made her want to cry again. The revelation that her Father wasn't actually her Father had been shattering. Her Mother...her Mother and Father would never be told. Never. They were her true family. That was all that mattered. Slowly she rolled to her side, surprised that she wasn't sick from the pain of her headache. Carefully, she sat up and opened her eyes to look about the meditation chamber they'd been brought to. It was a wide circular room with high windows that allowed soft, filtered light to bath the interior. Concentric circles were scribed on the floor that the monks would walk along to allow them to keep their concentration. She saw Eri and Jake were being tended to and Loki was dead asleep, but T'yang and Tal seemed to be missing as was Rayne. She wasn't sure how she felt about that.

She frowned at something. The monk's footsteps were light, even silent and their voices were hushed. And yet so many voices were shouting. It took Raewyn several minutes to realize that she wasn't hearing their voices, their voices were in her head. Their raw emotions and their most blaring thoughts were assaulting her from all sides.

She could hear the fear of what happened to her. Terror of Lord Udonis and his new powers. Deep sorrow over the loss of Tsume, the need for revenge, well buried. But the voices she heard most plainly were those of her companions for the last few weeks. They'd all developed a bond in her mind and now, it was a tangible thing rather than a nebulous feeling. Eri was so conflicted and crushed. She loved Jake, feared for him and her battle against...someone important under Maeve's influence was still haunting her. She was concerned, about Loki, but somehow shouting over it all was the sense of intense loss. Because of that raw sense of loss, Raewyn looked over to be sure that Jake was still there and realized that she couldn't hear him.

In reality, she could hear his heartbeat and feel his breath as she always had, but his mind was calm, even empty, but it felt, somehow unnatural, even forced. Raewyn frowned at the apparently sleeping man. During their travels, she'd sensed a dangerous duality in him, but now that was gone. Was it because he was sleeping? She somehow didn't think so, but she really couldn't tell for sure.

The loudness seemed to intensify as T'yang entered the room with a tall, regal woman in a long gown. She wasn't loud at all. She was...calming, serene. Raewyn almost forgot the conflict in the minds of the people all around her for just a moment. But, that moment was short lived. While Raewyn could sense more of T'yang's thoughts than ever before, the suspicion and tense atmosphere her presence created made it hard to sort it out. She could feel the loss of Tsume and a new determination...but that was all. T'yang came to speak with her very briefly, ensuring she was alright, but moved on to each of the others.

Raewyn felt him before he entered the room. Tal was lead back into the meditation room by two monks, a man and a woman. His face was drawn and...and...his arm was gone! Just gone. Oh, spirits! Raewyn breathed. She remembered vaguely the energy weapons being fired at the huge man when he'd charged them to avenge Tsume's death and to protect her. Tal seated himself, lost in thought. Raewyn felt his concern for her, then his mental conflict about his own usefulness. His grief over the loss of Tsume and even his sense of failure of protecting her. But, this time, she also felt Darren's presence in the vagabond's mind. It was an unsettling feeling. She only felt the Summon's support, not his actual thoughts. She'd always sensed Arashi in Eri's thoughts because of their intense bond, but this was the first time that she could sense the Rhino.

Just trying to separate the 'voices' and emotions made Raewyn squeeze her eyes shut even more tightly. It was feeding her headache and she had to push them all out. She wasn't doing a very good job. Suddenly, she heard Jake's very pointed question to T'yang. "Alright. So what's our next move?" He seemed to be challenging the woman to take up the mantle of leadership that she'd begun to do at the refinery, "What do we do now?"
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by Loki on Tue Feb 21, 2012 5:10 pm

“Now would be a good time for you all to rest and recover.” Adina interjected, answering Jake’s question in T’yang’s place. “There is much that I need to discuss with my advisors in the wake of what we’ve been told. As it stands now the two agents of Udonis you brought with you are of little help thus far. The one who had been shot is still unconscious; the healers have done what they could, but essence burns like that are difficult to mend completely and his vitals have been damaged beyond our ability to restore. There is no way to know how much time he has left or if he’ll awaken before then. The other one with the scarred body is being… uncooperative. Loki informed us of his ability, so until we decide how to deal with him, he’s been locked him in a cell that will prevent him from using his powers.”

The Grand Mistress sighed heavily before giving a grim smile to the group. “Whatever you decide to do this night, I ask that you remain on Temple grounds. In light of recent events, it’s difficult to determine who are allies and who are enemies. So until we have a chance to speak to him,” she said nodding to Loki who had since been placed on a cot situated against one of the walls of the meditation chamber, ”there are too many uncertainties to risk one of you being a spy for Udonis.”

“That said I want to extend my sincere gratitude for your selfless acts of courage to get Raewyn here safely. Even if she no longer possesses the power of the Goddess, she may still yet be a vital key in restoring the order that Udonis had disrupted. So until we decide our next step, the Temple is open to you as honored guests. Should you need anything, simply ask one of the Temple’s acolytes and they’ll do their best to see that your needs are met. I’ll be back to speak with you once our council convenes.” With a shallow bow, Adina turned and strode out of the room leaving the group to attend to their own matters.
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by Silvan Arrow on Wed Feb 22, 2012 9:14 pm

Eri completely zoned out from what was happening with the others. The news that the healer monk had given continued to replay through her mind like a broken record. Being told that she was infertile…somehow made her feel like less of a human. Granted, she had never entertained the thought of children, especially given her solitary travels, but she had always taken for granted that she would have a lifetime to make those kinds of decisions. But one battle had forever taken that decision away from her.

Mistress… Eri…please talk to me, Arashi crooned softly in her mind.

What’s…going to happen to me now?’ Eri asked. At first Arashi didn’t understand what Eri was asking, but he gradually gleaned her meaning from the jumbled thoughts in her head. In the village where Eri had been born, children were the greatest joy and blessing a husband and wife could have. Barren women were often doomed to lives as spinsters and servants. Disreputable men simply saw them as no-risk one-night stands, while the rest treated them kindly but wanted wives who could bear their children. ‘As for me, I’m…a freak…’ Eri finished, thinking about her new wings and scratching the back of her neck self-consciously. The back of her tunic had twin slits from her shoulders to her lower back from where the wings had torn through, and the cold air over her bare skin made her feel exposed and naked.

When Eri felt a hand on her shoulder, she started to snap at the person to leave her alone, but the words died on her tongue when she saw Jake. He could no doubt see the empty desolation in her eyes but didn’t try to pry. He gave her a nod, as if to say that he still had her back, before turning to leave. The sensation of his hand dragging along her arm, which sent a shiver down her spine, was probably the only thing that could have triggered an emotional reaction other than grief out of her. For the briefest of moments, Eri wanted to catch his sleeve to keep him from walking away, run into his arms, and sob out the grief of Tsume’s death, her stolen future, and everything else they had lost today. But no, she needed to be strong now more than ever before. Besides, simply fighting together in the dream world did not automatically grant her that kind of familiarity with him. She wadded up her emotions and shoved them into a tiny corner of her brain to deal with later.

Eri barely acknowledged when T’yang returned to the group under armed guard and began checking on everyone. She answered the other woman’s questions about her welfare as succinctly as possible. As she turned to leave, something occurred to Eri. “Wait…is Owen…?” Everything had gotten so chaotic as they had gone through the portal that Eri had lost track of him. T’yang’s expression told her what she needed to know, and Eri sagged back against the wall yet again. ‘That…idiot…’ she thought sadly. ‘Guess you got a hero’s death after all…’

Too much had happened in such a short time, Eri realized as she surveyed the room and each of their remaining group members. Tsume murdered before her eyes, Raewyn drained of her powers, Loki abruptly thrust into adulthood, Owen dead from a suicidal battle against a necromancer, and…Eri’s heart sank even further, if that were possible, upon seeing a bandaged stump where Tal’s arm had once been. As for T’yang, her life could very well be forfeit too, judging by the presence of the guards and what little Eri had gathered about her past.

‘No…not again. I’m not losing anyone else.’

“What do we do know?” Jake asked. Yes, Eri wanted to know that as well.

When Grand Mistress Adina told them to rest and gave them instructions about remaining on Temple grounds, Eri had to resist the urge to scoff. Rest? What good would resting do? Udonis was getting closer by the minute to achieving his objectives, whatever they may be. He could be out there causing the apocalypse for all they knew, and they were stuck in a Temple while people who had no idea what they had been through conferred and argued over the next course of action.

Looking at the others, however, Eri could see that they were, as a whole, in no condition to fight another major battle. Tal had just lost an arm, Loki was still unconscious, Raewyn was uncharacteristically silent, and the others probably needed time to recover their wits. At the very least, Eri certainly did.

Eri had the sudden, insatiable urge to flee the room and get away from all the prying eyes. Before she left, though, she moved to the cot where Loki was sleeping, knelt next to the young man, and gently ran her fingers through his bangs as a rare look of tenderness crossed her face. “Thank you…for saving my life…” Eri whispered. “Both of you…” she added, knowing a part of Tsume lived within her student. She then straightened and departed the room without another word or glance at her friends.

For a while, Eri wandered the hallways of the Temple, familiarizing herself with its layout while trying not to get lost in its maze of corridors. Eventually a passageway opened up into a verdant courtyard surrounded on all sides by high walls of stone. Stately hardwood trees and carefully tended flowerbeds dotted the carpet of lush green grass, and occasionally a wandering monk would nod cordially as Eri passed. The afternoon sun shone brightly from a blue sky, but the scenery did not bring Eri peace as she hoped. Her hands fidgeted and itched for something, anything productive to do instead of just idling in the Temple while Udonis did as he pleased. Idle time just gave her more time to think, and she did not want to think too much right now.

Eri…there is one thing we need to do, Arashi interjected into her thoughts. We need to get you flying.

Eri stopped abruptly. ‘Come again?’

You need to learn to control your new wings. You accidentally summoned them when you summoned me and then lost control. We can’t have that happen when we face Udonis.

Eri sighed in defeat, knowing Arashi was right. After the recent trauma of discovering those darn appendages, the last thing she wanted to do was mess with them so soon after making them go away. And to be perfectly honest, the thought of trying to actually fly with those wings positively terrified her. What if they couldn’t support her weight? What if she lost control of them and she plummeted to her death before Arashi could rescue her? There were so many ways things could go wrong.

Arashi crooned gently in her mind, already seeing her fears in her mind’s eye. Don’t be afraid, Eri. I’ll be here guiding you the whole time.

Eri took a deep breath for composure, let it out, and replied, ‘Okay, partner. What do you suggest first?’

First, we need you to learn how to summon your wings without accidentally summoning me, and vice versa.

‘And how do you suggest we do that?’

Do you remember when we meditated together in the leyline while you healed and you visualized the Essence bond linking our minds?

‘I do.’
Catching on, Eri closed her eyes and allowed her mind to sublimate itself into a deep meditative trance. Once again, the shining, braided cord that linked her to Arashi appeared in her mind’s eye, though the vision was not as clear due to being outside the leyline. However, she could clearly see a new thread, separate from the bond but closely intertwined with it. Her consciousness slowly approached this new thread, reached out to touch it, and immediately the feathers on the back of her neck stood on end. ‘Ah, I see. That’s why I summoned you and the wings at the same time.’ The two summoning links were so closely intertwined that it took her several minutes to pick out the one for her wings and follow it separately from the one for Arashi.

Do you see it clearly now?

‘Yes.’

Then try summoning me first.


Eri complied, following the more familiar of the two pathways and feeling the Essence gather before her. Arashi materialized effortlessly beside her, and to Eri’s immense relief, her wings did not appear. Now try summoning your wings.

This time, Eri paused. The memory of her initial experience with them was still fresh in her mind, and the thought of her flailing helplessly on the ground again made her heart start to race from nerves. They simply caught you off guard last time. This time you’ll know what to expect. Just summon them, but don’t try to make any movements.

‘Okay…here goes something…’
Eri completed the Essence link and called her wings into existence, and the jet black, feathery appendages materialized in the same places as before, filling the holes that they had left in her tunic. She stood completely still, barely breathing, to see if her wings would flail out of control like the last time. Thankfully, they remained perfectly motionless, and she realized that they were surprisingly light now that the shock factor had worn off.

Well done, Eri. Now you just need to learn how to move them independently of your arms and legs.

‘I don’t suppose you have any bright ideas for how to accomplish that?’
Eri asked, still keeping her eyes closed to maintain her concentration.

Allow me to show you. Arashi’s consciousness pressed closer and melded with hers, and suddenly she felt as if she were in his body, flying under the power of his wings. She could feel how he moved his wings and how they shifted based on the wind, his weight, and the direction he wished to go. The process wasn’t much different than simply moving her arms; she just had three pairs of appendages to keep track of instead of Arashi’s two.

Slowly, ever so slowly, Eri unfurled her wings, allowing them to stretch to their full, impressive wingspan. She opened her eyes and glanced from one side to the other, and she had to admit that they were actually…beautiful. Feathers as black as the night seemed to draw in the sunlight around them to intensify their dark hue, yet they also held a certain grace and elegance. Eri experimentally moved first one and then the other. No flailing occurred, so she slowly moved them up and down in tandem. She felt her body lift upward onto her toes with each downward thrust of her wings, and a tiny smile started to crack across her face.

She really could fly with these things.

Mistress… Eri followed Arashi’s mental prompt and looked to her left. The same monk that had healed her and helped her get her wings under control the first time stood under the shadow of a nearby oak tree, watching with a slightly amused look.

Remembering Adina’s instructions not to leave the Temple grounds, Eri spoke, “I need to practice with them, but I won’t leave the Temple grounds.” The monk merely nodded and indicated that Eri should proceed.

With an encouraging nod from Arashi, Eri stretched out her wings and started walking forward, slowly moving them up and down. She gradually increased to a jog, then a full-out sprint as she flapped harder and harder. The ground fell away from her feet, and suddenly she was climbing skyward, her body tilted up at a slight angle. As she looked down and saw the courtyard growing smaller by the second, it hit her.

She was flying. Not simply riding Arashi, but actually flying under the power of her own wings.

‘I…I’m flying…’ she wondered privately. Her shock turned to elation, and an uncharacteristically toothy grin broke out across her face. ‘Arashi! I’m flying! I’m actually flying!’

The eagle screeched in celebration, sharing in her joy through their link. Well done, Eri! He threw himself into the sky after her, and the two continued to row for height.

Come on, let’s see what you’ve got!’ Eri challenged, feeling lighter and more carefree than since before starting this journey.

Then the games really began.

Eri lost track of time, not that time mattered anymore. She couldn’t remember the last time she had had this much fun. With Arashi beside her as backup, she flung herself into every possible crazy aerial maneuver she could concoct. She climbed, tucked her wings to go into a headfirst dive, barrel-rolled, zig-zagged, and more until she barely knew which way was up. And she laughed. She laughed, whooped, and hollered until the tears streamed down her cheeks and her face hurt from grinning so much. Infinity lay before her in the form of the boundless blue sky, and now she could experience it for herself. She and Arashi chased each other in a playful dogfight back and forth across the skies, testing each other’s limits. Eri couldn’t hope to match Arashi’s speed and dexterity, but he held himself in check to allow her to practice. As they played, the link between their minds widened and mingled in a kind of intimacy that they had never before shared. Somehow these wings felt like a physical manifestation of the bond they shared, and now they could share the sky as equals.

As Eri rode an updraft to the crest of her climb, with the sun behind her casting her winged form into silhouette, Arashi broke into her thoughts. Eri, look down into the courtyard.

Borrowing one of his eyes, she followed his mental prompt to see a familiar-looking figure. She squinted her eyes. ‘Is that…Jake?’

It appears so.


Eri couldn’t tell if he was watching their games or simply seeking solitude. For all she knew, he had been sent to tell her what Adina and her advisors had decided. ‘We better go make sure he’s not looking for us. He may have news from the Grand Mistress about Udonis.’

Eri tucked her wings and went into one last heart-stopping dive before backwinging to slow her descent and reaching for the ground feet first. She tried to make her landing somewhat graceful, but she miscalculated the distance and stumbled slightly as her feet touched down and had to flap her wings to maintain her balance. Arashi, on the other hand, landed behind her with practiced ease, and an air of smugness echoed across their bond as her face turned red from embarrassment.

Not. A. Word,’ Eri warned, giving the eagle her best impression of a mock glare, but he merely ruffled his feathers in a slight tease and hung back at a respectful distance so she could go talk to Jake.

Eri was still riding a little bit of an adrenaline high from her flight, so a slight smile and reddened cheeks still remained on her face as she approached Jake and quickly ran her fingers through her hair to make it lie flat again. The monk had departed the courtyard at some point, leaving the two Saturates and Summon as the only occupants.

“I think I’m starting to get the hang of these things,” Eri began casually and light-heartedly, gesturing to her wings before dismissing them. “I still need to work on the landing, though,” she added ruefully.

“I…see…” Jake replied, crossing his arms over his chest as if deep in thought.

‘Hmm…no joke?’ Eri wondered. Normally Jake couldn’t resist poking fun at someone or something. Figuring he was still subdued over the recent turn of events, she asked, “Has any word come from the Grand Mistress about Udonis or what she wants us to do next?”

“No,” Jake replied abruptly. “She and her advisors wouldn’t make such an important decision so quickly. She’ll send for us when she’s good and ready.”

Alarm bells started going off in the back of Eri’s mind. Jake wasn’t acting like himself. His tone was too cold and calculating. But she couldn’t figure out why exactly.

Eri softened her tone, hoping to coax an explanation out of him. “Jake…is everything okay? You seem…” she narrowed her eyes in thought, “disturbed about something.”

Then she noticed it. A subtle twitch when she had spoken his name. Jake narrowed her eyes at her but remained stubbornly silent. “…Jake?” she prodded once again. There was that twitch again, which she would never have noticed if she didn’t have enhanced sight from her Summon bond.

Mistress… She felt Arashi shift uneasily behind her. Something isn’t right…

Eri looked at Jake one more time, and then it hit her. The worst possible scenario. She instinctively took a step backward as her eyes widened in horror. “You’re…not Jake…” She forced out the next words as her mouth went dry. “You’re…Ekaj…”

“Jake” scoffed and gave her a look of disbelief, as if she had just said the dumbest thing ever. “What in the Goddess’ name are you talking about? As if I would give in to that sick bastard. Come on now, give me a little more credit than that.” For a second, she almost believed him, but she shook her head in disagreement.

“You…you’re lying,” Eri replied, her voice growing firmer as her intuition told her she was right. She remembered all too clearly the sight of Ekaj beheading Jake in the dream world. Behind her, Arashi also sensed the threat and instinctively went into a crouch, ready to attack if Ekaj so much as breathed the wrong way. Eri’s hand drifted to rest on her arm where he had touched her earlier. “You’ve been pretending this whole time…ever since the refinery…” Her skin crawled as she realized that it had been Ekaj and not Jake that had laid a hand on her and turned accusing eyes to him. “The real Jake would have kept his distance so as not to give you a chance to break through and kill me.”

Ekaj didn’t move the whole time she piled on the evidence, except for a tiny smirk that grew on the corner of his mouth that confirmed that she was correct. Eri had just one more question: “Why did you even fight with us? Why not kill us? We’re the ones standing in your way, right?”
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by quakernuts on Sat Feb 25, 2012 8:40 pm

Jake was disappointed to say the least when the Grand Mistress said they should all rest and recuperate from the latest fight. Jake had had enough rest while he was unconscious and nearly dead, he wanted to go out and break something, preferably something named Udonis. The anger rose in him slightly, but it was quick to settle once more as he nodded his head in agreement to the Mistress. Once she had explained her position, and where the enemy saturates were being held, Jake almost got up to go to the cells to kill them himself, but he forced himself to stop. Right now would not be the best of times to be going and doing things like that, with all the monks ready to fight and die at her order the moment something seemed out of place. Instead, he rested against a wall with one leg up and the other laid down. He laid his arm across his knee and looked out over everyone, wishing someone would speak up to say that they needed to strike now, just so he knew he wasn't the only one. Instead, no one said a word and Jake was forced to swallow his pride and remain against the wall.

Once the Mistress had left to go converse with their council, Jake sat against the wall for some time simply staring out into space. He hated not having something to do, and every part of his body urged him to go find some sort of excitement or fight, but he squashed it as soon as it came upon him with practised effort. He would wait, he would be patient, and he would get his chance. He sat there for some time, not moving and contemplating the future, but finally his restlessness got the better of him as he ignored everyone else and made his way to courtyard. He needed some air, and some space to himself.

Once out in the courtyard, away from everyone else, Jake let out a breath. It wasn't easy, all the recent events falling into place in such a way that no one could have predicted them. This was so different then what Jake was used to dealing with that he didn't know exactly how to cope with everything. People were dying, the land was at stake, there was a good chance he himself might die in the upcoming battle, yet he was willing to go ahead with it. Why? Because it was what he was meant to do. Fighting was all he knew, and all he could possibly know.

In the middle of his introspection, Jake heard a noise off to his side, and watched as Eri landed. A part of Jake cringed at the upcoming meeting as he forced himself to look at her. He took a silent breath, and prepared for the conversation. It wasn't going to be easy.

The entire time Eri was talking to him, bits and pieces started floating to the surface as to the outcome of Jake's heated inner battle during their dream sequence. He couldn't keep the raw emotions in check as they started surfacing, and it was hard to maintain any measure of control while dealing with this woman. Instead, she quickly assumed that Jake wasn't Jake at all, but his alter ego of Ekaj, a simple name given to a figure cut from the same cloth. Jake denied it of course, but there was no hiding it now. He gave a smirk, not one of humour or even satisfaction, but one of slight pleasure.

He had had enough anyways.

Jake's eyes started turning pitch black, giving off wisps of night coloured air. The truth had been found out, but he knew it was only a matter of time and knew that it would be Eri who would find out first. Jake didn't move, didn't attack, didn't even flinch as he showed the true person beneath the skin with the colour of his eyes changing as they did.

"Why did you even fight with us? Why not kill us? We're the ones standing in your way, right?" She asked, accusing him with her words.

"Do you really think I would have gotten away myself would I have shown my true colours?" Jake asked, his tone almost mocking as instantly his demeanour changed to that of Ekaj. He instantly became a bit more loose, almost fluid in his actions as he started pacing slowly in front of Eri. "I have every memory of Jake, I've studied his personality for years, know every feeling and emotion that stems from him. It was easy to pretend I was him to further my own goals." Jake said, his smile never faltering as he explained his case.

"And to the contrary my dear Eri, your group of misfits and incompetent idiots is not in my way, but rather my path onto greater things. You are bringing me to the fight of a lifetime, one to be spoken of for years to come. The only thing my pathetic alter ego and I share, is our love for battle." Jake wandered a bit close, Eri instinctively stepping back in sync with Jake. "Everyone here trusts Jake as a strong fighter, one to keep going when everyone else can't. A joker, a hot head, someone who can bring a smile or a frown to anyone's face with but a comment or a gesture. He is not a hard man to read."

Jake suddenly stopped, and looked at her, his smile getting bigger the longer he looked into her eyes. "But look at me, explaining myself to one such as yourself. It is funny, for you could not even begin to comprehend the power I can wield." Jake looked over at the Arashi, who was coiled and ready to spring into an attack at a moment's notice. "Now that that is out in the open, we have a matter to discuss, you and I." Jake released his smile for a second, a frown appearing on his features for the first time since he had been revealed to Eri.

"You know who I am, and you will no doubt want to tell everyone else about my...condition. I can't have you spreading that knowledge around, so let me make one thing clear." Jake launched across the small space between them with such speed it caught Eri off guard as he held her off the ground with one hand by the throat. Immediately Arashi was moving, but Eri waved him off at the last second as she glared defiantly into his eyes. Jake looked at the bird and gave a smile. "Good girl, you're learning." He continued.

"Should you decide to tell the others of this sudden switch between us, I will be forced out of necessity to not only fight my way out, but kill you for robbing me of such a glorious upcoming opportunity."

"Why did you have trouble maintaining your cover?" Eri asked, her voice a little coarse due to Jake's hand around her throat, but Jake simply cocked his head to the side.

"What do you mean?" He asked.

"Why is it you were able to maintain the cover flawlessly to everyone else, but out here with me you couldn't." Eri asked in full detail. Jake looked off for a moment, before returning his gaze back to her.

"Despite winning this body, his feelings for you are very strong and maintaining control over them while trying to pretend is harder than it would appear." Jake paused for a second, venom filling his words as he continued. "He cares for you, as to the reason why I cannot begin to fathom." Jake glared at her with the most intensity he had shown during the entire confrontation. "But believe me, I feel nothing."

"The fact that you say that means he's still in there...somewhere. And that means the promise I made to him is still in effect." Eri replied, remembering the vow she made in the clearing a few days prior.

"You think I don't know that?" Jake asked in a tone that suggested she was an idiot. "It is one of the reasons I haven't attacked anyone, for I remember his idiotic promise as clearly as he does." Jake smiled once more. "However, if you act on your vow now, all you'll be doing is allowing both of you to be killed by me crushing the very life out of you.."

"Why would I act on it?" Eri asked, her voice filled with an unnerving calm. "So far you've given me no reason. Perhaps your other side will resurface before I have to act on it, and then no one has to die." She smirked a little, and shrugged. "Either way, sorry. You're not getting rid of me that easily." Jake simply gave a look of disgust as he roughly discarded her on the ground.

"I see no reason to hurt you." Jake looked at her, making a promise through his blackened eyes. "Don't give me one." Jake's eyes went back to normal as he rolled his shoulders a bit. He gave her one more glare before returning back inside the building.

Once inside, he had managed to hide any presence of what he was. He forced his mind empty once more, trying to keep it hidden from any powers the Goddess might still have, and came to sit by the rest of the group. "I hate waiting like this." Jake said, putting on a frown. "Just point me at a target, and we're good to go. I don't like having to wait on some order of monks to decide what we do next." Jake stated as he sat cross legged and placed his head in his hand. He swirled his finger around on the floor, looking as bored as bored could be.

"Maybe I should kick down their door, help them make a decision, eh?!" Jake said looking up with a smile. "It would sure break the boredom in this place!"
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by Digital Muse on Sun Feb 26, 2012 4:41 pm

After checking on each of the companions, with a very close escort of 3 monks, T'yang found herself looking into Jake's intent and understandably frustrated visage. He was angry, grieving, if the man was capable of such an emotion, and wanted to take action without thinking things through as he always did. T'yang was saved from having to be the one to caution him to patience, however when the Grand Mistress gently reminded him that none of them were in any shape to go hunting. Even though she and Jake were in the best shape of all of them, it would be literal suicide to try to find Udonis now.

After Adina had gone to confer with cooler heads in the Temple, T'yang rose from her place beside Tal with nod to Jake. "I swear to you, Jake. We will make him pay. For everything he has done." T'yang's eyes then shifted to the goddess with a slightly worried expression. "Tal...I know it is much to ask you. But, would you stay near Raewyn? I worry for her." With that, and with her 'escort' in tow, T'yang passed out of the Meditation room to the afternoon sunshine of the grounds.

In truth, T'yang worried about Tal almost as much as she worried about Raewyn. She could not begin to fathom how the loss of his arm would affect him. Her request to have him look after Raewyn had been as much for his benefit as for the girl's. People like Tal needed to feel useful, she'd noticed.

T'yang strolled slowly through the gardens, not really seeing their beauty nor feeling the peace they ordinarily gave anyone visiting them. She thought of Loki. His drinking of the raw Essence had dramatically altered his body. But, would there be detrimental long-term effects? She worried that he had processed so much unrefined Essence in healing them. And now, he slept...too deeply. Too much. Did Tsume go through the same feelings of being so unsure? Of fearing that you would fail yourself and those that relied on you? It was something she'd never experienced before. She had always done as she pleased. But now, she had a duty to these people that meant so much to him. And she feared she would fail.

While deep in thought, T'yang was aware of the guard, but somehow not aware of the path her steps had taken her on. When she came back to herself, she found herself in a small portion of the garden that she loved and dreaded. The small grove of peach trees. Here she'd first been brought to the Temple by her parents. A few months later, she'd first met Tsume here while he trained. A wan smile touched her lips. She'd thrown pebbles at him trying to break his concentration while he practiced his Katas. After some time, they'd practiced together and even hunted one another among the trees at night. And...had become lovers there. She'd asked him to come away with her and been refused beneath the blossoms and in her rage, she'd killed an innocent old man here.

She swallowed several times when the tears threatened to come. Not here. Not now. She mentally berated herself. Something about her body language evidently made the guardian monks nervous, because T'yang heard them shift their weapons unconsciously. She turned her head slightly, though didn't look at them, "Go away." She ordered softly. "I will remain here as promised. But, get out of my sight."

The monks blinked in surprise by the squeezed out words. When they made no move to leave, T'yang rose and indicated a shadow at her feet, "If I wished to harm you I already would have. So please. Just go." This time, the guards traded a look and slowly retreated back to the main temple complex, leaving T'yang to her memories. Memories that hurt far more deeply than any whip or knife.

It was nearly dark when the Grand Mistress found T'yang still sitting upon a low rock wall where she'd been when she'd dismissed the guards. Her steps were so light that T'yang was startled when the woman spoke. "You blame yourself." The elegant priestess observed in a gentle voice.

T'yang shook her head. "No...." She paused. "Perhaps. I have so many regrets, Grand Mistress."

Adina joined T'yang on the low wall, her robes draping elegantly over the rough stone. "It is a common affliction. And often incurable." The woman smiled, "Unless you understand its nature." Adina tilted her head at T'yang with a bright look of curiosity, "Do you understand what I mean?"

T'yang frowned softly at the woman across from her. "That it is something we bring upon ourselves and though the past cannot be changed, the future is not bound by it." Old lessons from her time at the Temple began surfacing once more in her mind. She began to remember teachers, the strength each of them showed and each so different from one another. She...missed it so.

The Grand Mistress nodded, pleased. "The fact that you do have regrets proves you to be human. The fact that you wish to go forward in spite of them proves you to be courageous. To do so with these friends proves you worth following." The tall woman rose. "Come inside, it is growing colder and you are not the only one with regrets. They need you."
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by Silvan Arrow on Sun Feb 26, 2012 7:27 pm

Eri knew without a doubt that she had hit the nail on the head when Jake’s eyes began to turn black, and his demeanor changed to the fluid, calculating personality of Ekaj. Never in her life had she wished so much that she could be wrong, that she would wake up from this nightmare and not have one of her worst fears come true. A cocky smile never left his face as Ekaj explained himself in his casual, almost mocking tone. Eri instinctively stepped backwards every time he moved forward, while Arashi remained poised to attack.

"Now that that is out in the open, we have a matter to discuss, you and I." Ekaj frowned at her as he continued, "You know who I am, and you will no doubt want to tell everyone else about my...condition. I can't have you spreading that knowledge around, so let me make one thing clear."

Before Eri could even blink, Ekaj had her dangling in the air by the throat. She instinctively grabbed onto his arm with both hands to take the weight of her body off her neck and keep from essentially hanging herself. Arashi screeched in outrage and began to charge forward. ‘Arashi, NO! He’ll kill us both! STOP!’ Eri shouted desperately across their mental link while waving her hands.

Arashi stopped a winglength from the two, trembling from the effort needed to hold still. He shouted mental curses at Ekaj even though the man could not hear them. Traitor! Oath-breaker! Murderer!

“Why did you have trouble maintaining your cover?” Eri asked, her voice hoarse from the hand around her throat. However, she noted, Ekaj was purposely not strangling her. The fact that he had calculated just how much strength to use so as not to choke her frightened her more than if he actually meant to kill her.

"What do you mean?" he asked, cocking his head to one side.

"Why is it you were able to maintain the cover flawlessly to everyone else, but out here with me you couldn't."

"Despite winning this body, his feelings for you are very strong and maintaining control over them while trying to pretend is harder than it would appear." Eri shuddered in his grip as his next words dripped with venom and hatred. "He cares for you, as to the reason why I cannot begin to fathom." Ekaj’s glare trapped her gaze, like a hawk would ensnare its prey. "But believe me, I feel nothing."

That last sentence was like a punch in the gut, even though she knew full well just how far Ekaj was willing to go to gain control of Jake’s body.

“He wanted me to kill you in order to kill me.”

However, he had also revealed a weakness, whether he had intended to or not. Even though Ekaj was in control, Jake’s emotions still affected him. It was the tiniest possible flicker of hope, but Eri pounced on it desperately. "The fact that you say that means he's still in there...somewhere. And that means the promise I made to him is still in effect."

“I want you to put me down…for good.”

"However, if you act on your vow now, all you'll be doing is allowing both of you to be killed by me crushing the very life out of you." Ekaj’s grip tightened ever so slightly so that spots started dancing in front of Eri’s eyes. She feared the direction the conversation was heading. He could no doubt sense her fear, could feel her pulse hammering in her neck. If he took too much pleasure from her fear, it would take a mere squeeze of his hand to end her existence. For a split second, she allowed the fear to escalate to the point where her emotions simply shut down. The adrenaline rush from potentially staring death in the face allowed her a few moments of clarity to speak.

"Why would I act on it? So far you've given me no reason. Perhaps your other side will resurface before I have to act on it, and then no one has to die." She gave a small smirk and lifted her shoulders in a shrug. "Either way, sorry. You're not getting rid of me that easily." Her response had the desired effect. Ekaj gave her a disgusted look and tossed her to the ground. She landed in a crumpled heap and went into a coughing fit, gasping for air and subconsciously holding her throat in her hands. Arashi instantly moved to hover over her, shielding her with his wings and fixing Ekaj with a furious glare.

"I see no reason to hurt you," Ekaj deadpanned. "Don't give me one." And with that, his eyes resumed their normal green color as he turned to leave.

Once Ekaj was gone, the adrenaline left Eri’s body in a sudden rush. For several moments, she just lay in the same position that she had landed, covered in a cold sweat and shaking from shock as her mind tried to process what had just happened. For once, Arashi had no words of comfort. He was too busy trying to regain his self-control instead of hunting down Ekaj and tearing him limb from limb. Thankfully, no monks entered the courtyard, or else he likely would have snapped and attacked them out of instinct.

As Eri got her breathing under control, more memories from the dream world flickered to the forefront of her consciousness. Fighting her father, going back to back with Jake, switching targets, being overwhelmed by Ekaj’s raw strength, and then…

“Oh Goddess…” Eri spoke out loud.

That got Arashi’s attention. Mistress…what is it? he asked, worry overriding his anger.

“It’s…my fault…”

She remembered now. All too clearly. The reason Jake had gotten decapitated was because he had pushed her out of the way. Ekaj’s axe had been meant for her. And he had taken it in her place. All because she hadn’t been strong enough.

Eri pressed her forehead into the grass, scrunching her eyes shut and covering her head with her hands as if she could hide the shame she felt. “It’s all…my fault!”

Eri…no, it isn’t your fault. No one could have predicted the outcome of that battle.

Other memories replayed as well, starting and ending with the vow Eri had made. She had asked Jake to also make a promise in exchange for the death vow that still bound them.

“I want you to keep fighting against whatever force makes you lose control. Seek my help if necessary. Whatever you do, fight your inner battles with the same determination that you fight the physical ones so that I never have to hold my blade to your throat again.”

“You…broke your promise…” Eri choked out around the lump in her throat. Hot tears tracked salty trails down her cheeks. “You let him win…” The sense of loss was even more overwhelming than last time, when Jake had told her that he had to keep his distance from her. At least back then he had still been Jake. But now…the person she knew…and loved…was gone, replaced by this cold-hearted personality that cared for no one and didn’t care how many people had to die to achieve his goals.

‘Arashi…how many more people do we have to lose before all of this is over?’ They had already lost Tsume, Owen, and vital pieces of Eri, Tal, Raewyn, Loki, and T’yang. And now Jake’s humanity was one more casualty to add to the list.

Arashi felt the torrent of emotions echo across their mental link, and his head snapped up as he realized that Raewyn could potentially sense it as well. Mistress…

Eri already knew his concerns and worked to once again shove her emotions into a tiny corner of her mind and allow blessed numbness to take its place. She couldn’t squelch her emotions completely, but she could take them down to a level that would hopefully not raise Raewyn’s concern. She slowly got to her feet and turned to face her Summon, cradling his face between her hands. ‘Arashi, we can’t tell anyone. Not even through an unguarded thought. Not Loki, not T’yang, and especially not Raewyn. If word gets out, Ekaj will kill us, and then Jake will be gone for good.’

Arashi looked at Eri with a pained expression, warring between his needs to ensure her physical and emotional safety. Protecting her came first, but by the Goddess, he hated seeing and feeling her in such pain. Finally, he closed his eyes in surrender and nodded.

The sun started to dip behind the horizon, but Eri couldn’t bring herself to go back inside yet. If she saw Ekaj again, any modicum of self-control she had would shatter. She summoned her wings briefly and sought refuge in the thick branches of a nearby oak tree. She watched numbly as the sunset painted the skies in vivid hues of orange, red, and purple before the dimness of twilight took hold. A chilly breeze swept through the courtyard, deprived of the sun’s warmth, but still Eri did not seek refuge inside the Temple. Instead, she leaned into the warm feathers on Arashi’s chest and allowed his wings to block the nighttime chill, as they had done so many times in their travels.

If word came from the Grand Mistress, someone would come find her. Until then, she just wanted to be alone.
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by Digital Muse on Mon Feb 27, 2012 6:35 pm

After Jake's challenge to T'yang, it was the Grand Mistress that cautioned him to patience. He clearly didn't like having to wait, but even his normally impulsive nature couldn't argue with her logic. After being told to rest, but to not leave the Temple grounds, Eri, Jake and T'yang wandered outside; probably to lose themselves in their own thoughts.

The monks also retired to their individual duties or prayers or whatever else they did here. She could still sense Eri, Jake and T'yang out in the gardens somewhere. She'd never been able to sense them so clearly before now. Was it because of the loss of Tsume? Or what had happened back in the factory? She couldn't figure it out. Everyone's emotions were so raw how could she tell anything? Even Jake was a little off. The odd duality she felt before was gone. He seemed changed. But, then they all were. Maeve and Udonis had taken so much from them. More than any of them seemed to be willing to talk about so soon.

Raewyn turned her worried gaze to the still form of Loki on the cot provided by the monks. He looked so different now that she had time to really look at him. He'd grown maybe 10 years. How? Was he sick? She couldn't feel him at all. Raewyn gingerly rose to her feet to cross the room and kneel by his cot. She caught her lower lip between her teeth in worry. She vaguely remembered the sense of Tsume within Loki's eyes just before the factory blew up. Had she been mistaken? And.....she stopped and rubbed at her aching head. Too many questions. It was exhausting.

Without warning, Raewyn was overwhelmed by the purest feeling of joy and freedom she'd ever experienced in her young life. She had to reach out to the cot to steady herself. It was Eri and Arashi. Raewyn could feel their link, the weightlessness, the uplifting swell of discovery. And she was jealous of it. What was happening with Eri? Why was she so happy? It was all she could do not to race outside to find out what was going on.

Underlying the raw happiness of Eri and Arashi, was the restrained sorrow of T'yang. It was hard to sense T'yang with the over-riding feelings Eri was broadcasting. But, unlike before, Raewyn could actually sense T'yang. whatever blocks or...whatever T'yang and Tsume had been able to do wasn't there in T'yang any longer. Or maybe Raewyn was the one that had changed, she sighed with heavy frustration and continued to concentrate on T'yang. The woman had been a dangerous enigma and one not entirely trusted. So, naturally Raewyn wondered if she could be trusted now, even after all they'd been through. Raewyn could feel regret, grief, that same determination she'd felt before and that was all. It wasn't terribly informative, she realized.

Taking a small break, Raewyn helped herself to some water and fruit the monks had left for them and glanced toward Tal. The big man had barely moved since returning to the meditation room. His head was down, but even with his back to her, Raewyn could tell he was awake. His mind wasn't roiling exactly, not like she expected Jake's would always be. But Tal was almost numb. Raewyn could feel his sense of failure most keenly. She'd heard T'yang ask Tal to watch over her before she left the room and felt Tal's soft resentment flare briefly. But, it hadn't lasted. For reasons even she couldn't understand, Raewyn rose again to go to Tal. She sat crosse-legged directly in front of him. "Tal? Tell me a story. Tell me about you and Darren." She bit her lip and added, "I can hear him too, now. Like I could with Arashi. He doesn't talk much, does he?" She realized she was babbling slightly and simply shut up. She wanted to let Tal tell stories like he did when he first joined them. She liked those stories. She liked remembering Tsume joining in. Maybe she and Tal both needed to remember good things for a while.

While she listened to Tal, the overweening joy Eri felt flipped entirely to fear and suspicion. It jolted Raewyn out of her reverie. Her eyes darted to the door to the gardens. She frowned with worry. She would have cursed with intense frustration because she didn't know what was happening. Shortly afterward Jake returned to the meditation room, looking bored and as frustrated as always followed a while later by T'yang. Eri remained outside. She was alright, but...conflicted and upset. Raewyn couldn't blame anyone for being all over the place emotionally. She was herself, after all.

As Raewyn listened to Tal and his stories of his travels and Darren, Raewyn's mind drifted over the very short few weeks she'd been traveling. So much had happened to her. Some had been good, like meeting her friends. More, however, had been horrible; like the battles, the running, the deaths. She tuned Tal out without realizing she'd done it. She began to go over everything in her head, reliving it again and again. But the scene that kept playing over and over in her mind was Tsume, impaled on the dark Summon's sword, spilling his lifeblood in his vain attempt to kill Udonis. She squeezed her eyes shut, trying to block the image from her mind's eye. It wasn't working. She didn't notice the silence that suddenly filled the chamber. A small sigh of pain did penetrate her reverie, though.

When she opened her eyes, Raewyn jerked in fear. She saw Tsume running Udonis through with his spear only to have the sword of the Summon driven through his back. Again and again it happened until Tal placed his huge hand on her shoulder. "Stop thinking about it, Raewyn." He spoken gently, though his voice was ragged. She tried. She tried to remember Eri's joy, anything but Tsume's murder. Finally, slowly, the image faded away and was gone.

T'yang looked from Raewyn to the spot where the image had played out. "How...?" Her face was pale and tight.

Raewyn rose to her feet. "I don't know. I...I don't know. I didn't mean it!" Tears rose in her eyes. "I'm sorry."

T'yang shook her head, clearly fighting to get herself that iron control again. "It is alright. I was just caught by surprise." Her obsidian eyes glanced away from Raewyn. "I think we should speak to the Grand Mistress. A few of us, at least have developed new abilities."

A little later, a light meal was brought for everyone and after eating, Raewyn asked about Rayne. The monk she asked glanced at the young girl in surprise, "He is awake, but we do not know if he will live. His injuries are extensive."

"Can I see him?" She asked.

His face went smooth, "I do not think that is advisable, young Goddess." He glanced toward T'yang who merely looked on in curiosity. "After what he did, why would you wish to?"

Taking a cue from the Grand Mistress, Raewyn tried to sound confident and calm, even though she was anything but. "I asked that he be saved and my friends risked their lives to do just that. Please take me to him."

She and the monk looked at one another for a moment or two before he finally relented. "Very well. He can't harm you in the condition he's in and there is a guard outside the room."

Outside Rayne's room, Raewyn was second-guessing why she wanted to come here at all. What was she supposed to say to this man? The man who had raped countless women, including her own mother. But, conversely, he'd tried to do the right thing in the end. She entered the small chamber and saw Rayne lying on a cot similar to Loki's. He was swathed in bandages and blankets and the color of his skin was alarming. A chair was already placed at Rayne's bedside, probably for the healer monks. The man's eyes were closed, so Raewyn moved to sit in the chair beside him.

Raewyn hesitated and then spoke, "Rayne. I want to ask you a question." She could tell by the way he suddenly held his breath that he was awake and heard her. The barrage of emotions she felt was almost like an assault on her mind. "Please look at me."

The brown-haired man turned eyes similar in color to Raewyn's toward her. But he couldn't meet her gaze. He seemed incapable of speaking at all. When Raewyn didn't speak right away, he finally looked up at her and with a cracked, dry-sounding voice, asked, "Why, right? You want to know why I did all those things I did."

Raewyn shook her head, "No. I want to know why you risked your life to set us free."

His obvious surprise showed before a fit of coughing wracked his frame painfully. When his coughing eased, he spent some time catching his breath. "I...I had a daughter." He said with something like wonder. "One I actually saw. One that was real, not some faceless number on Udonis' list." He closed his eyes, "I couldn't let him just kill you. Even if I couldn't save you from what he did..."

Raewyn nodded, taking in Rayne's answer.

He glanced up again, "Why did you bring me here? I'm sure your friends would have been just as happy to leave me behind."

Raewyn nodded. "Yes, but we aren't like Udonis and those with him." Her chin lifted slightly, "You tried to save me. How could I not try to save you?" Raewyn rose to her feet finally, "Udonis didn't completely succeed, you know. He didn't take away everything." She reached out to touch Rayne's forehead with two fingers. "Peace. You will no longer remember your crimes. You will have peace." She felt Rayne stiffen softly beneath her, "Sleep now."

Raewyn looked down at Rayne as he slept, she didn't know if what she did would work or for how long. But, it was the only thing she could do for him. She slipped from the room and headed back to the main room to lose herself in her own thoughts again. She was so tired.
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by Guilty Carrion on Wed Mar 07, 2012 10:01 pm

Tal nodded silently in agreement with Adina’s words, watching T’yang rise in the corner of his eye and begin to move. "Tal...I know it is much to ask you. But, would you stay near Raewyn? I worry for her." He was silent for a moment, part of his mind snarling that he wasn’t her father, but the sobering thought of her actual father being not too far away doused that fire before the words could find his lips.

“Aye.” He breathed, not really caring if the woman heard him or not. As the group splintered throughout the temple, Tal found himself alone with Raewyn and the still unconscious Loki, neither of which seemed to be in the mood for a conversation. He counted his small blessings, letting his head drop and shutting his eyes as his breathing steadied. “Darren.”

“Yes.” His arm rose slightly, and his essence reached, gripping the familiar cord that linked him to the summon, pulling gently to bring his companion back into the world. The rhino blinked in with out warning, lifting his arm slightly more, but the limb comfortably found the beast’s head and scratched idly at his head. Tal was silent for a moment, before glancing down to his summon, who looked up at the same moment. It was…surprising to see Darren so small. The rhino’s sacrifice during their encounter with the Dreamweaver had taken it’s toll, his massive form now easily fitting beneath the vagabond’s shoulder, not even close to the top of his head. The rhino didn’t even have his horns yet.

He was deceptively cute, Tal had to admit, earning a disgruntled snort from the summon. The two sat in companionable silence for a short while, neither really wanting to break the fragile peace that had settled over them. Scratching idly at his summon, Tal didn’t hear the soft footsteps until Raewyn was in front of him, and he blinked once in subdued surprise. She sat down, staring up at him with those eyes only kids could pull off, and he found himself giving her a weak, yet sincere smile. Darren titled his head slightly at the girl, curious to what she was planning.

"Tal? Tell me a story. Tell me about you and Darren." There was a brief pause, before the young goddess continued. "I can hear him too, now. Like I could with Arashi. He doesn't talk much, does he?" The rhino snorted.

“Forgive me. Not everyone loves to flap their gums as much as Tal.” The summoner glanced at the small summon, eyes narrowed slightly. “It is a pleasure to finally make your acquaintance proper, young goddess.”

“You’re after a story, little miss?” Tal stroked his beard quietly, eyes drifting off as he pondered a tale fitting for the young girl. “About me and Darren…”

“Then how about the day I was first summoned?” Tal raised a brow. “To ignore the beginning of the story is a story teller’s folly, Tal. You of all people should know that.” The vagabond huffed, crossing his arm over his chest, only for the arm to flop awkwardly to his side when it didn’t meet it’s partner. Darren wasted no time in continuing. “Well, Raewyn, as you no doubt know, saturates manifest their abilities differently between men and women. While you get them younger, Tal didn’t get his until he was 16.”

Tal cleared his throat, and the summon took the hint. “Now, I grew up in the port city of Somer, have you heard of it?” The young girl nodded. “It’s a beautiful place, with more boats than anywhere else I’ve ever been. Everything revolves around the sea in some way, from shipwrights who build the ships, to tailors and seamstresses who make sails and clothes for the sailors.” His eyes dulled, mind drifting back to the port city. “The sunset there is…amazing. I couldn’t put it into words even if I spent my whole life trying.”

Darren shifted slightly, rubbing his snout affectionately against Tal’s still hand, trying to get the vagabond to scratch him again. “The beaches are great as well, although I’m not overly fond of them myself. Sand never seems to agree with my bulk.” Tal chuckled, shaking his head to chase away the memories, his eyes sparking back to their usual life.

“The beaches are pretty, aye.” His fingers dug in behind the rhino’s ear, scratching the hard to reach spot softly, earning a please grunt from the animal. “But for all the pleasantries, Somer is still a big city, and there are always issues with big ones. On my sixteenth birthday, my father gave me some money, and told me I could spend it on whatever I want. It wasn’t much money, really, but at that age, even a few coins seemed like a fortune beyond my wildest dreams.” The vagabond cracked a smirk, shaking his head at himself. “And like the impulsive lout I am, I burst out the door like a lunatic and headed straight for the market, never mind that it was no doubt closed for the night at that hour.”

“Looking back on it, I suspect your father was trying to teach you a lesson in saving, Tal.”

“Well, if that’s the case, I certainly failed that one. Pop always was the one to try and teach me something though, so it really wouldn’t surprise me if he tried to give me a lesson as a present.” He sighed. “Cheap ol’bastard.” Tal opened his mouth to continue, but caught Raewyn’s eyes darting over to the door, and he followed her gaze, but found nothing. Eventually, the girl returned her attention to him, and he dismissed it as a chill from a breeze. “So, there I was, tearing my way through the city, well after sunset, with a bag of coins jangling in my hand.”

“He couldn’t have painted a bigger target on himself if he’d tried.” Darren chimed in, shifting in his spot to rest up against Tal’s side, ignoring the look his summoner shot him.

“Just as I was about to reach the market, someone grabbed me by the cuff of my shirt, and hauled me backwards into an alleyway. Next thing I know, there’s a knife in my face, and two dirty looking guys staring down at me.” He leaned down slightly, grinning as he found himself getting more into the story. “They wasted no time making a grab for my pouch, but I was nothing if not a stubborn little runt. I pulled my hand away from theirs, stuffing it between me and the wall they had me pinned against.”

He mimicked the motion with his arm, earning a disgruntled snort from Darren about the absence of scratches. “They didn’t like that much, pushing the knife closer to my face and threatening to chop something off if I didn’t give’em the money. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t terrified, but somehow, I swallowed it."

“Then he spat in their face.” There was a pause. “Actually, I think he hawked a loogie. It…wasn’t exactly pleasant.” Tal grinned wider, heavy chuckles shaking his frame. Raewyn wrinkled her nose, hiding a small grin from them, but the pair caught it, and their momentum didn’t falter. “As you can imagine, that caught them off guard a little…”

Tal took over, tapping his head with his knuckles. “Then I got them with a little bit of Kaperray ingenuity. While they were distracted by my spit, I cracked him in the head with my forehead.” His smile turned sheepish. “It dropped us both, unfortunately. My head wasn’t quite as thick back then. Fortunately for me, almost knocking myself out seemed to wake Darren up. I’ll never really forget that time. It was strange, feeling something inside…reach for something else. It was exhausting, but next thing I knew, there was this strange feeling in my gut, and strange grey feet a few inches from my face.”

“While Tal was…indisposed, I found myself, looking much like I do now, in front of a man armed with a knife and spit smeared across his face. A lovely first impression of the world, really.” The rhino groaned lightly, stretching it’s small limbs. “The poor fool looked like he’d just seen a ghost, and panicked, trying to stab me with the knife. I didn’t take kindly to that, and rammed the poor sod in the crotch with all the force I could muster. Not surprising really, he dropped like a sack of bricks.”

Tal sighed. “Embarrassing to admit it, but I got saved by a baby rhino with an attitude. As I was trying to pick myself off the ground, Darren introduced himself via a voice in my head. I thought he was caused by the head trauma, and tried to ignore him. That didn’t work out well for me.” Darren made a noise that sounded vaguely similar to a restrained chuckle. “He didn’t let me get up. He rammed his snout into my side, knocked me on my back, and started rolling me down the street with his head.”

“To be fair, you deserved it for telling me off.”

“To be fair, I thought you were my imagination. And you rolled my for three blocks before you finally let me get up. I couldn’t even walk straight after that!”

“It was a lovely insight into the future of our bond.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?!”

“It means I’ve guided your drunken and weaving butt to a bed more times than I care to recall, Tal. You’ve even thrown up on me several times.” The vagabond opened his mouth to protest, but the rhino was, as usual, right. “Getting you home that night was a chore and a half, since you insisted on going to wrong way and couldn’t trust the ‘crazy thing from inside your head’.”

Tal chuckled, pausing when the room suddenly fell into hushed silence. Turning slightly, his eyes flicked towards the faces of his allies, wondering what sucked the life out of their lungs, when his own breath hitched in his throat. Tsume surged forward, just like he had in the factory, trying to kill Udonis, but quickly found the blade impaling him through the stomach. The vagabond choked on his words, eyes trying to process what exactly he was seeing as they blurred with tears from the memory. “What..?” The image reset, and the scene played out again, forcing his gaze to the floor.

Was this some cruel trick? A sick joke from Udonis’s servants?! To remind them all of their failure? The anger bubbled in his gut, threatening to rise into the fury like it had at the factory. If it was, he’d break their skulls with his bare hands! He made no effort to wipe away his tears, breath shaking as he struggled to rein in the furious emotions. There was a choked squeak behind him, and Tal turned back to the girl. The pain in her gaze reminded her of his own, and he found the will to swallow the pain, kneeling beside her and placing his hand gently on her tiny shoulder. Slowly, he spoke, voice horse but gentle. “Stop thinking about it, Raewyn.”

As the image faded, Tal dropped back on his rear, staring quietly at the floor. Raewyn’s apologies felt dull against his ears, but he couldn’t bring himself to fault the girl for her mistake. It wasn’t fair, they all had to deal with the burden his passing had placed on them. Still, the memory stung. Rising to his feet clumsily, the vagabond cast a sidelong glance at T’yang. “Your turn.” His voice was low, but he was certain she heard it, and the big man walked silently from the room, Darren following closely behind.

“Tal…where are we going?” The summon was hesitant to ask, and despite their bond, the two knew how to keep secrets from each other if they wanted to. Tal paused in his stride, looking down at Darren.

“This is a temple, right? There won’t be much to drink…” The rhino cued in instantly, snorting roughly in annoyance. “Don’t lecture me, not right now. I just want a bloody drink.”

“So we’re going to raid a cellar for wine?”

“Yeah, that’s the general idea.”

“Sacred wine, Tal. Sacred.” The vagabond laughed roughly, continuing down the hall and descending down the first flight of stairs he found. “As in, the kind monks don’t hand out to drunken vagabonds.”

“I travel with the goddess, I think they’ll make an exception.” Hoisting the summon under his arm, he hauled it down the stairs, ignoring the booming rumble he made at such handling. “Stuff your pride, or I’ll leave you behind. Grouch.”

“Drunk.” Tal sighed as they continued deeper into the temple. The place was like a damn labyrinth, and he didn’t have the foresight to ask for any directions. He ignored the soundless chuckle of his summon, stopping at an intersection of hallways.

“There’s got to be some alcohol somewhere in this bloody place…”
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by Loki on Wed Mar 21, 2012 12:40 pm

Hours passed slowly as once again the sun descended into the horizon and still no word from Adina, the other monks of the temple telling them that the meeting chamber was still sealed when asked. It was obvious that the general atmosphere of the Temple was tense as word of what had happened spread among the inhabitants. Such a thing was not only unprecedented, but unnatural; there would be no telling the long-term effects such a thing would have on the planet as a whole even without Udonis actively tapping into its life source. All the same, the monastic order did their best to attend to their duties as usual and saw to it that their guests were attended to while they waited. It was sometime in the late evening when a somber looking monk approached the group and announced in a soft voice that the wounded prisoner had succumbed to his injuries. Though he was not informed as to the relation they had to the man, he felt the need to add that he went quietly and seemed to be at peace in his final moments.

Shortly after midnight, there was a faint tremor that caused the earth to vibrate for several moments. Though the monks presently in the meditation chamber looked nervous, once it subsided they returned to their prayer. One had the insight to look over her shoulder towards the group of newcomers. ”The mountains around the temple can be unstable at times. Rockslides and avalanches are not uncommon, even if a little unsettling.” It was the subtle quivering of the earth that caused Loki to finally stir from his heavy sleep. The strain on his body from the aging, growing, and healing caused him to nearly sleep a full twenty-four hours, though he had certainly earned it. He awoke dizzy and disoriented, his dreams as broken and erratic as his memories and he looked blearily around him. “Wha… What’s going on?” Though his voice had the deep baritone of a mature man, the cadence of his words were still that of somebody at least half of his apparent age. Using both hands, Loki rubbed the sleep out of his eyes as he pivoted his body to sit at the edge of his cot, feet hanging over the side. When he finally managed to blink his eyes open a few times he managed to look around him and see the others. That brought a sleepy smile to his face that looked juvenile on his aged façade. The hours leading up to his deep sleep were all a blur to him and he had not been conscious by the time the others roused after their healing. It was a massive burden off his shoulders to see them alive and as well as could be expected.

One of the monks took note of him and left the room with purposeful strides. For a moment, Loki wondered what that was all about, but soon returned his attention back to his friends. A frown pulled down on the corners of his lips when he noticed Tal and vaguely recalled the charred mass that had been his arm as he was curing the group. Loki had hoped that the monks would have been able to restore it, but it would seem that even magical healing has its limitations. With a light groan, he lifted his unfamiliar body from his cot and strode over to where the group had gathered and sat among them. Before he could engage in conversation, the monk from earlier had returned with a plate that was overburdened with food that smelled delicious even if it had grown cold. As he took it, his stomach voiced its excitement and he tore into the meal with zealous hunger.

He had been halfway through his combined breakfast, lunch, and dinner when Adina stormed in the room flanked by two individuals if ornate garb alluding to their high ranks. Loki looked up at her in timid alert, mouth full of food, and noticed the dour nervousness in her demeanor and stride. ”Young Goddess, we have need of your ability.” The Grand Mistress’ tone was authoritative and urgent, gaving it the impression that it had been an order rather than a request. ”The Magi by the name of Brycen has been uncooperative and has given us nothing regarding Udonis’ designs. We have reason to believe that the matter is quickly becoming time sensitive and need to take more drastic measures to get the information we need. We need your ability to coerce him into telling us what we need to know.”
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by Silvan Arrow on Sun Mar 25, 2012 1:19 am

Eri lost track of time as she leaned against Arashi’s chest and stared at the stars that began to dot the darkening sky. Neither partner moved to break the companionable silence. Theirs was a ritual they had repeated many times since they had started traveling. They didn’t need words during these silences. To speak would break the magic and serenity of the silence. The emotions and thoughts that flowed through their bond were all that was necessary.

As time passed, Eri gradually started to wrestle her emotions back under control. She could not completely erase the grief of Tsume and Owen’s deaths, the shock of losing her fertility, and the fear of Ekaj, but as long as this silence persisted, she could almost forget about them, at least for a little while.

At some point, Arashi stirred and looked back towards the Temple, cooing softly and ruffling his feathers. Eri craned her head upwards and gave him a questioning look. ‘What is it?

I can hear Darren again. Tal must have resummoned him.

Wait, if Darren can fit inside the room in the Temple, then that means…’ Eri had not had a chance to compare notes with anyone about their respective dream world battles.

So it would seem. Do not worry, he will regain his former strength soon enough. Arashi gave an amused chirp that could only be construed as his equivalent to a laugh.

What’s so funny?

Oh nothing, Arashi teased, as if he were hiding a private joke. I am merely…curious to see how you react when you see Darren’s current form.

Eri huffed. ‘Fine, keep your secrets.’ She paused as her expression turned contemplative. ‘By the way,’ she continued, craning her head up again, ‘you’ve gotten bigger. I didn’t notice at first after we left the leyline, but I don’t remember your head being quite so high.

Arashi prummed in satisfaction and ruffled his feathers again. Ah, so you noticed. Nearly a foot in height, give or take a few inches.

Wow, I guess we’ve been getting a lot of battle experience lately.’ She paused again. ‘Arashi…do you think we’ve been getting off a little too easy? I mean…Tsume and Tal were much more experienced Summoners, and yet Alco and Darren…

Arashi cut off her train of thought immediately. Do not make light of the battles we have already fought. Do you consider the ambush in the forest an easy battle? Marinik? Jasper and Kuresh? We have changed and grown through those battles. The eagle paused for a few seconds before continuing in a more somber tone. We may not be as lucky in our next battles.

For some reason, Arashi’s tone of voice set off warning bells in Eri’s mind. She recalled something he had said earlier in the journey, about how Eri only had one life to lose while Arashi could die and be reborn as needed. ‘Please don’t talk like that, Arashi. We’ve lost enough as it is. Let’s not dwell on something that has not even happened.

Of course. My apologies. The two lapsed into silence again, but it did not hold the same comfortable air of companionship as before. Eri could sense the nervous tension and sense of foreboding through their link.

Without warning, a sudden blast of emotions rocketed through Eri and Arashi like a sledgehammer, amplified like a harmonic as they felt each other’s reactions as well as their own. Eri gave a start and gripped her head in pain while Arashi screeched in distress. ‘What…is that?!’ It felt like someone was driving a needle through her skull. ‘Is it…?

Yes, it’s coming from Raewyn, Arashi answered as he hunkered down and instinctively crouched over Eri with his wings half-furled. Eri sensed him stiffen in horror as he picked up mental images from the Goddess. Oh spirits…

What? What do you see?

Arashi’s mental voice sounded choked as the emotions gradually subsided. Please…don’t ask me to share it, Mistress. Not right now. Eri didn’t have the heart to press the matter, so she nodded weakly and snuggled back into Arashi’s chest, stroking his feathers in what she hoped was a soothing gesture. Once their emotions settled, he asked, Do you wish to return to the others?

Eri nearly replied in the affirmative, but then cold dread clenched her gut again at the prospect of seeing Ekaj. She knew it was inevitable, but she wanted to postpone it as long as possible. ‘Not yet. Just give me a little more time.

Eri eventually relaxed enough to slip into a light doze, cradled against her Summon. Shortly after midnight, she jolted awake as the earth shook and rattled their tree for several long moments. Eri’s hands immediately reached for something to grab, and Arashi gently gripped the back of her tunic in his beak to steady her. ‘What in the world?’ she asked once the shaking ceased.

Arashi shifted uneasily. That quake…didn’t feel natural.

Nothing about this past day has been natural.’ Eri stretched and leaped down from the branch, briefly summoning her wings to aid in her descent. ‘I’m going back inside to make sure everything’s okay.

Arashi abandoned his perch and landed beside her. I understand. Please be careful. Eri stroked his face and nodded once before dismissing him.

Eri took the hallways at a light jog, fearing that she would lose her nerve and turn back if she walked. She made a couple of wrong turns and nearly barreled into a monk after turning a corner, but she eventually made her way back to the room where the others resided. “Arashi and I felt the earth shake. What’s going on?” One of the monks in the room assured her it was simply due to the unstable mountains, but Eri didn’t buy it completely. However, she didn’t get a chance to question the monk before she scanned the room and took notice of Tal and Darren…or rather, just Darren.

First, it was surprising enough just to see the little rhino in the room, lying calmly on the ground beside his Summoner. Arashi was too big to move about comfortably in the room. Second, Eri hadn’t expected him to revert to a juvenile form. When Alco had succumbed in battle, he had reverted simply to a smaller version of his adult form. And finally…

…Darren was positively the cutest thing Eri had ever seen.

Arashi gave a screeching, good-humored laugh in Eri’s mind as she quickly wiped the shellshocked expression from her face and slowly crossed the room to kneel in front of the baby rhino. Sparing a quick glance at Tal just in case, she reached out a hand and gently scratched Darren behind the ears. He grunted and butted his head against her hand, begging for more, which only made him look even cuter. Eri couldn’t help but laugh softly as she scratched him more. “You’re so cute,” she whispered in an undertone. Darren snorted and shifted a little at the compliment, and Eri felt an unexpected stab of jealousy echo across her bond with Arashi.

I…think you’ve bothered him quite enough, Mistress, Arashi spoke in a clipped tone. On a completely separate mental pathway, he remarked to Darren, Don’t you have a drunkard to attend to?

Eri blushed in embarrassment, stammered a quick apology to Tal and Darren, and moved to sit near Loki, resting her back against the wall with an arm resting atop a bent knee. She spared a fond smile for her student as he dug into a plate of food. “Welcome back,” she said simply. She didn’t quite know how to relate to him now that he had undergone such a dramatic growth spurt, and she purposely tried to ignore how her skin crawled the few times she caught sight of Ekaj. She avoided looking directly at him and instead forced down some of the food the monks had left in the room while listening to the others converse.

Adina abruptly entered the room a few minutes later, flanked by two guards and explaining that she needed Raewyn to force Brycen to give them the information they needed on Udonis. At first, Eri wanted to object to having Raewyn anywhere close to one of Udonis’ Magi, but of course the Grand Mistress would keep her well guarded. Still, Eri thought it would be best if one of them went with her, if only to satisfy her own paranoia about losing anyone else. Not to mention she was positively itching for an excuse to leave the room again before she said or did something to give away Ekaj’s secret. “Raewyn, do you want one of us to come with you?” Eri asked. She didn’t want Raewyn to think that she considered her weak or doubted her abilities, so she left it as a question to let her make the choice.
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by Digital Muse on Sun Apr 08, 2012 3:41 pm

As Raewyn sat among the rest of her friends, taking a great deal of comfort for their simple presence, the ground shook beneath their feet. Her heart leapt into her throat, hammering with fear. What else? What new horrors were coming? She was as spooked as a horse that had seen too many snakes beneath its feet. One of the monks allayed their fears, explaining that the mountains were unstable at times and that they shouldn’t worry. But when Raewyn looked around, she saw the same haunted paranoia in her friends eyes that she thought must be in her own.

One good thing that came from the shaking of the ground was that it roused Loki from his long, exhausted slumber. He woke blearily asking what had happened, probably still not realizing the changes within his own body yet. The sight of the others seemed to relieve his fears because he smiled that same shy smile he’d always had. Almost immediately, a monk left the room and returned with a tray of food intended for 3 people, but placed before the obviously starving young man. Raewyn half-smiled to see him eat so ravenously. From her mother’s attitude, she’d come away with the impression that a healthy appetite meant things would be OK.

Shortly after, Eri returned from the garden, also somewhat alarmed by the mild earthquake and stopped dead. Her reaction to the tiny version of Darren was comical and somehow took a great deal of the tension out of the air. She had knelt in front of the admittedly adorable rhino and scratched his ears. Something Darren obviously approved of, because he leaned into her hand slightly. After a few minutes, though, Eri rose to sit beside Loki, probably approving of his appetite too. In Raewyn’s head, though, she felt something slithery and dark in Eri’s emotions. Something between fear and hatred and despair.

Raewyn looked around for the source of Eri’s emotional upheaval, naturally looking to T’yang first. But the former assassin seemed untroubled by much and Eri wasn’t really paying attention to her. She started to glance at each person in turn to see where Eri’s thoughts were focusing, but before she got past T’yang, Adina returned to the meditation room with a swift, purposeful stride and a stern look on her features.

The Grand Mistress and her two guards came to stand before Raewyn, who gaped at the tall woman, thoroughly intimidated. ”Young Goddess, we have need of your ability.” The Grand Mistress’ tone was authoritative and urgent, giving it the impression that it had been an order rather than a request. ”The Magi by the name of Brycen has been uncooperative and has given us nothing regarding Udonis’ designs. We have reason to believe that the matter is quickly becoming time sensitive and need to take more drastic measures to get the information we need. We need your ability to coerce him into telling us what we need to know.”

Raewyn’s jaw dropped in shock at the request, “My what? What do you mean?” Of course she knew, but it startled her to even consider what was being asked of her. Adina wanted Raewyn to invade the mind of another person and an evil one at that to find out what he knew of what Udonis planned. “Isn’t there another way?” She asked meekly. She looked around the meditation room, “Can’t someone else do the same thing? Somehow?”

Adina shook her head, taking a softer tone, “No, young Goddess. None of the monks with similar abilities are as strong, nor do they know the details needed to be convincing. It must be you.”

Eri seemed to sense her unease because she offered to come with her if she wanted. Raewyn chewed her lower lip in thought, “I…yes, I’d feel better.” She admitted sheepishly. She felt T’yang look toward her, but frankly, Raewyn felt far more comfortable with Eri than she ever would with the cold and distant T’yang. The girl slowly climbed to her feet and after glancing toward the others began to follow the Grand Mistress.

Raewyn only glanced back over her shoulder briefly to ensure that Eri was indeed following as the small group left the meditation room and down a series of long hallways toward the area where Rayne had also been held. The announcement of his passing had given Raewyn an odd pang of…grief? Sympathy? It was too complicated really to understand. Somehow she knew that giving him a tiny sense of peace at his end had been the right thing to do and that her parents would have been proud. The thought of her parents made tears well up in her eyes and she dashed them away, slightly ashamed. She wasn’t a baby anymore.

Sooner than she would have liked, the Grand Mistress paused before a non-descript door that looked like all the others they’d passed on the way here. She eyed Eri, “I admire your protective nature, but I must ask that you do not interfere with what you think you see.” Adina looked back to Raewyn, placing a calming and gentle hand on her shoulder, “You must convince Brycen to tell you what Udonis plans. Take it from his mind, if he refuses.” She then looked at Eri, “Tell Eri if you feel threatened in any way.”

Raewyn felt a little sick to her stomach. The idea of invading someone’s mind the way Maeve had was abhorrent to her. There had to be another way, hadn’t there? What could she do? She thought furiously as she reached for the door’s handle. Just as her fingers touched the iron handle, an idea struck her. “Eri.” She whispered quickly. “Just stay quiet. I have an idea.” With that, Raewyn threw open the door and swaggered in.

When Brycen looked up, he didn’t see Raewyn and Eri. What his mind ‘saw’ was Lord Udonis and Maeve. Raewyn had been able to conceal Eri perfectly with Maeve’s form, right down to her contemptuous little smile. She covered herself a little more imperfectly with Udonis’ figure, but insinuated the huge Shadow Summon to help conceal the flaws in her deception. ‘Udonis’ looked at Brycen with a scowl. “The fact that you have not given away information in my little test here, Brycen, is the only reason I’m letting you live.”

Raewyn let Maeve’s smile broaden slightly. “Shame, really. I would have liked to poke about in his mind a little more.”

‘Udonis’s’ scowl grew deeper at ‘Maeve’s’ comment before turning back to Brycen, still bound to a chair. “I seem to remember telling you to kill the prisoners and then to bring the remainder of the Magi and guards to me.” Raewyn didn’t move for fear of her illusion breaking. “It appears, however, that you did exactly the opposite.” Complete contempt colored Udonis’s next words. “How do you explain that?”

Brycen glanced up when the door opened, prepared to continue resisting the efforts of the monks to get him to reveal what he knew. The half-smile on his face froze when ‘Lord Udonis’ and ‘Maeve’ entered the room instead. “But…how?”
He gaped.

‘Udonis’ merely sighed. “You know very well that you are not the only one with your gifts on this planet, Brycen. Don’t be a fool.” Once you ‘helped’ the former Goddess, I was forced to come find you myself.” ‘Udonis’ narrowed his eyes. “I don’t like loose ends, do I, Brycen?”

Through the ugly threats and dialog and the effort to keep up her illusions, Raewyn was sweating profusely. Her mouth was dry with fear and anxiety. But, this had to work. She wouldn’t be like Maeve…she refused to simply invade his mind to take the information they wanted.

Brycen just stared. “I…she…she’s still powerful! She still has her mind skills. She’s stronger than the witch said she was!” He tried to push the guilt to ‘Maeve’s’ shoulders.

‘Maeve’ just snorted.

‘Udonis’ narrowed his eyes even further and considered while his Shadow Summon loomed more darkly. “If that is true…” He considered. “You may be a construct.” ‘Udonis’ raised his hand to tap a single finger against his chin in a gesture Raewyn had seen him make. “Just where were you supposed to meet me, Brycen? Let us see who is right. You or Maeve.” His smile turned ugly, “Tell me what you know. Whomever is lying. Dies.” His voice was a low, dangerous purr.
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by Silvan Arrow on Sun Apr 22, 2012 5:30 pm

Eri tensed subconsciously at Raewyn’s unease when the Grand Mistress made her request. She relaxed slightly in relief when Raewyn consented, albeit sheepishly, to Eri accompanying her. To be honest, Eri didn’t trust Adina completely. She figured the monks would do a fine job of keeping her physically safe, but they didn’t know about what happened if Raewyn lost control of her emotions. It would be far safer if the girl had someone with her that she already knew and trusted in case the encounter with the Magi went horribly wrong.

As she rose to leave, Eri rested a hand on Loki’s shoulder briefly and gave him a nod of acknowledgement. She didn’t really know why. It just seemed like something she should do, that she still recognized him as her student and friend despite the physical changes to his body. She then allowed a stoic façade to cover her face as she followed Raewyn, giving her a nod and small smile when she looked over her shoulder.

Eri let out a breath that she didn’t realize she was holding as the small group left the meditation room. Mistress, you need to mask your emotions more carefully. Raewyn is…suspicious… Arashi warned.

Eri knew without asking to whom Arashi was referring. Being in the same room with Jake’s alter ego had unnerved her more than she would care to admit. ‘I’m trying…’ she replied tensely, mentally gritting her teeth. She didn’t even want to think about what would happen in the next battle when she would have to fight alongside him and watch his back.

The Grand Mistress stopped in front of one of the many doors in the hallway, bringing Eri out of her thoughts. She addressed her, “I admire your protective nature, but I must ask that you do not interfere with what you think you see.” Eri returned Adina’s warning look with an even stare of her own. The Grand Mistress obviously prioritized getting the information by any means necessary, even forcing Raewyn to probe someone’s mind when the thought of doing so made her extremely uncomfortable.

“I will do what I must to ensure Raewyn’s safety,” Eri deadpanned. It wasn’t exactly a refusal to obey, but she wanted to make it clear that she valued the Goddess’ well being over whatever information lay within that traitorous Magi’s slimy mind.

If Adina disapproved of Eri’s response, she didn’t let it show. She and her guards stood back and let Raewyn and Eri enter the room alone. “Eri. Just stay quiet. I have an idea,” Raewyn whispered just before she opened the door.

Eri raised an eyebrow at Raewyn’s request but said nothing. She called Arashi to the forefront of her mind and dipped into her source of Essence, ready to complete the Summoning link or call her User abilities in case something went wrong. Her palms tingled painfully from the Essence humming in her veins, and gripped the hilt of her father’s sword tightly where it rested in its scabbard. Raewyn opened the door and swaggered…wait, swaggered? Since when did a young girl swagger like a man? Eri felt a slight surge of Essence as she and Raewyn entered the room. She instinctively tensed at the Magi’s presence, even though he clearly could not escape his bonds and seemed unusually surprised to see the two women.

“The fact that you have not given away information in my little test here, Brycen, is the only reason I’m letting you live.” Puzzled, Eri looked over at Raewyn…and nearly cried out in horror. Her eyes first locked onto the hulking figure of Udonis’ shadow Summon, and she nearly summoned Arashi right then and there as she saw Udonis standing where Raewyn had been.

Mistress, wait! It’s not real!

With Arashi’s voice in her mind as an anchor, Eri quieted her momentary panic and could finally see the illusion for what it was. If she looked at Udonis and the shadow Summon out of the corner of her eye, she could glimpse Raewyn’s petite figure at the center of the illusion. It was oddly disjointed, seeing Udonis but hearing Raewyn’s voice coming from his mouth. She guessed Raewyn was putting all her effort towards fooling Brycen and that he was both seeing and hearing Udonis.

‘Wait…if she disguised herself, then…’

Eri looked down and once again had to forcibly keep herself from jumping. While Eri could easily see through the illusion of Udonis, her disguise as Maeve looked completely and utterly real. ‘Apparently this woman also has no sense of modesty,’ Eri noticed ruefully as Maeve’s skimpy outfit left very little to the imagination. Luckily, she could feel her own clothes underneath the illusion, so at least she was still “technically” covered.

As Brycen and “Udonis” bantered back and forth, Eri listened and tried to play along with the illusion. She kept silent, allowing Raewyn to make the illusion speak if necessary, though she tried to imitate Maeve’s haughty expression and sinuous posture. She could tell Raewyn was sweating and either exhausted or mentally drained from keeping up with the dialogue and illusions and prayed silently that the exchange would end soon.

“Let us see who is right. You or Maeve. Tell me what you know. Whomever is lying. Dies.” Eri’s eyes widened beneath the illusion. Would Raewyn actually try to fool Brycen into thinking Udonis was killing Maeve? She could only brace herself mentally and be prepared to play along with whatever happened next...or to slit the Magi's throat if necessary.
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by Loki on Sat May 12, 2012 1:24 pm

Brycen was struggling to comprehend what was going on. He knew Maeve was capable of seamlessly invading another’s dreams to blur the line between dream and reality, making it very difficult to determine which state he was in at present. At least not without some blatantly obvious sign to disprove reality. Though Raewyn’s illusion wasn’t perfect, she had done a modest enough job at keeping him off balance to keep him from noticing. At least until she played her gambit and asked her question. The Magi blinked in bewilderment for a moment as if it didn’t make sense or if it were a trick question of some sort. Some of his usual composure was beginning to seep back into his posture. “… I wasn’t.” His gaze, now significantly more perceptive began to play more keenly as they glanced back and forth between the ‘Udonis’ and ‘Maeve’.

Raewyn's fears were coming true, Brycen hesitated and looked more carefully between Eri and her, as if trying to fathom just what might be going on. She worried that she'd gotten something wrong. Was Maeve not as powerful as she'd thought? Had Raewyn asked the wrong question? Was her illusion slipping or imperfect? She didn't dare let up on it. She truly didn't want to invade Brycen's mind, she had no way of knowing if it would hurt him...or for that matter her.

Eri, something isn’t right, Arashi observed worriedly.

‘I know,’ Eri replied, mentally gritting her teeth in frustration. ‘He’s starting to get suspicious.’ Her hands itched for the feel of her sword hilt, but she didn’t dare make any moves for a weapon that would alert Brycen to the illusion. And besides, the man was hardly in any position to pose a physical threat to the Goddess. Heavy steel bars separated his prison cell from Raewyn and Eri, and intricate rune carvings covered the walls of the cell to disrupt the flow of Essence. As long as he remained in that cell, he was powerless.

So why couldn’t Eri shake the feeling that something was going to go wrong?

'Udonis' grew impatient. "I could simply rid myself of you entirely, Brycen." 'He' pointed out and then paused before lowering 'his' voice. "Choose." As she said that, she mimicked the Shadow Summon looming more aggressively. At least she knew the illusion of the Shadow Summon was pretty accurate...it had left a very hard to overlook impression on her.

Eri tried to make her expression even haughtier and more Maeve-like as ‘Udonis’ handed down his ultimatum, even though she was sweating bullets from the tension in the room. ‘Arashi, if Raewyn has to invade his mind, can you forge a mental link with her so we can anchor her?’ She recalled the times she would have lost herself in her meditations or healings with Tsume if Arashi hadn’t pulled her back into her body. She could only imagine the difficulty in extending her consciousness into an unfamiliar mind.

Arashi hesitated. Normally, I can only forge links with other Summoners. I would have been able to create one with Raewyn if Udonis had not drained her powers.

Eri cursed mentally. All she could do was watch and wait.

As the ominous summon loomed in, Brycen drew back hesitantly for a moment. Then another piece of logic fell into place and his expression became even more skeptical. This caused a chain reaction of thought and insight that made him even more certain that those who stood before him couldn’t possibly be who they appear. As those facts cascaded in his mind, his eyes narrowed to slits before a smug grin spread across his lips and he leaned back into his shabby cot so that his back pressed against the cold stone wall of his cell. “It was a good attempt, girl,” he said haughtily, making it a point to avoid using a title that no longer belonged to her. “But a king never ventures into the front line for the sake of a pawn, especially now of all times. My Lord’s designs are already in motion and it is well beyond anybody’s ability to stop them now. You’re too late. You’ve failed. All that’s left is the endgame.”

Eri and Arashi, still within his Summoner’s mind, tensed in unison as Brycen spoke. ‘He’s figured it out.’ Dread clenched her gut, knowing what would happen next.

In her own mind, Raewyn cursed. She'd wanted so much not to have to try to invade Brycen's mind. Firstly because it felt ugly, like Maeve's trickery and secondly, she honestly didn't know if she could.

She considered the Teleporter in his cell, but didn't drop the veil immediately. Unfortunately, his naming her 'girl' cemented the fact that he saw through her illusion. Raewyn dropped the pretense with something like relief. She'd been expending an enormous amount of both physical and mental energy trying to maintain it.

Eri gave a slight start as the illusion of Maeve fell away from her skin, though it was a relief to see herself in her own clothes instead of the Dream Walker’s slinky attire.

Raewyn glanced toward Eri. "I'm sorry," she said to her. "I guess I have to try it the ugly way." She said it both for Eri and Brycen's benefit because, she still prayed he wouldn't force her to pry the information from his mind.

Eri nodded in grim acknowledgement. She wasn’t anymore enthusiastic about Raewyn invading the Magi’s toxic mind, especially if he tried to fight back. “Do what you need to do.” She shot Brycen a threatening glare and let one hand drift to her sword hilt in warning. She rested her free hand on Raewyn’s shoulder and shifted closer to her protectively. She spoke in an undertone, “I can’t link with your mind like a Summoner, but use me as an anchor if you can so you don’t lose yourself.” Eri hoped the physical connection would provide at least some reassurance and an anchor to reality in lieu of a mental link.

Raewyn turned her honey-brown eyes back toward the caged Teleporter. She let her senses reach out to hear his breathing, his heartbeat, even the pressure and flow of blood in his veins; letting herself get in tune with him as he sat there. Soon, like her friends, Raewyn began to sense his emotions, small 'peeks' at fleeting thought fragments. Feeling the link becoming more solid, she pushed; the way she'd done with the Ice User back at the ley lines. Raewyn was determined, they were all depending on her and she wasn't going to let them down.

Brycen shook his head as he felt a familiar sense of confusion and mild disorientation. His eyes stared daggers back at the former Goddess with a snarl to match. “Get out of my head, bitch! You caught me off balance last time, but now I know your tricks.” Squeezing his eyes shut and bowing his head in with his face contorted into an expression of deep concentration, the Magi forced up barriers of his will in an attempt to block out Raewyn’s mental infiltration. With him now aware of her capabilities and expecting it, she would find it far more difficult to compel him with a light touch of her powers. He had effectively built up a siege wall of countless irrefutable facts that served as an anchor to help him sort his own thoughts from Raewyn’s. It would quickly become clear that the only real option of bypassing his defenses would be to go through them with overwhelming force.

Raewyn ignored Brycen’s curse and kept pressing into his thoughts. He’d built a remarkably solid mental fortress against intrusion, perhaps from having dealt with Maeve for so long. She felt Eri’s steadying hand on her shoulder and felt Eri and Arashi’s combined worry through the physical link. Back in her own mind, she ‘felt’ around the buttresses of Brycen’s defences. There would be no worming in through the cracks because there simply weren’t any. Not being given a choice, Raewyn decided that she would have to be as ruthless as the evil Magi had been to her and her friends. There was no more time to pretend she was nothing more than just a little girl.

In her mind, she dredged up all the fear, the anger, the hatred and the uncertainty that the Mages under Udonis had wrought on her and her family, the grief from the injuries and deaths of innocent people. The death of Tsume, the mental torture they all had experienced at the hands of Maeve, how Tal had lost an arm, how Loki’s innocence had been stolen from him, James’ sacrificing himself for them. Image upon image and emotion upon emotion built one upon the next. She imagined the roiling, seething mass coalescing outside the walls of Brycen’s mental fortress as a stone-encased Gollum, not unlike Jake. She even added a massive hammer in the creature’s hands. She spent more time feeding all her pent up grief, anger and despair, making the creature grow in her mind. Finally, she could contain it no longer and her body quivered with the effort. With a terrific scream of hatred, she unleashed it all and the Gollum attacked the ‘stone’ walls of Brycen’s defenses with much the same abandon that Jake might have if given a similar target in the real world.

The Gollum was relentless and tireless as it hammered away at Brycen’s mind. Raewyn screamed in her own mind, and perhaps aloud too, she wasn’t aware enough to really tell. “You can’t hide from me! You will tell me or you will pay for what you did to us! Do you hear me?”

The Magi gritted his teeth and his brow beaded with sweat as Raewyn hammered relentlessly against his will. "Fuck... You..." He growled through his clenched jaw, the effort he was struggling to maintain resonated clearly in the strain behind his words. The pressure he felt against his mind was immense, making it feel his very skull was being split open from the inside out. In the initial moment his vision begins to tunnel and darken while his breathing comes out in ragged breaths that were equal parts snarl and whimper. Desperate in his attempt to resist, he begins throwing his own memories back to Raewyn. For the first time, Raewyn would be able to see the way young Loki's body seized and convulsed as Essence was torn from him. The pathetic sounds he made whenever he actually managed to draw breath in his spastic fits. The way his body looked withered and wasted after every session, leaving him in a catatonic state. Most specifically, the way his face looked after, his eyes clouded and distant, seemingly lifeless when accompanied by his paled skin; the only indication he was still alive being in the way fresh tears still managed to stream down his cheeks.

Still, the pressure continued, if not exacerbated by his attempts to resist. Brycen could swear he was feeling the fibers in his skull and brain straining against the pressure, tearing in several places. By now his entire head is drenched with sweat and the whites of his eyes turned crimson as the capillaries within began to burst. He let out a cry that was befitting a person trapped in some torture device that introduced him to entirely new forms of agony that he had never dared dream as droplets of blood ran down from his nostrils. Though, only a few seconds had passed since Raewyn began her assault in earnest, when viewed at the speed of thought it felt like an eternity before he felt himself slip. "The temple will be attacked at noon!" The intensity with which he cried out those words sent spittle laced with flecks of blood in the air, the mental attack taking a very serious toll on his body. Immediately after speaking those the man's eyes rolled into the back of his head and his entire body went limp, causing him to fall to the floor in a boneless heap.
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by Silvan Arrow on Tue May 15, 2012 2:51 pm

(Collaboration with Digital Muse)

Raewyn hammered at Brycen’s defenses. She felt him straining and sensed his increased heart rate and the pressure within his skull. In his desperation Brycen tried to throw his memories of what Loki went through while held captive by Lord Udonis. The pain and convulsions the boy had experienced made tears start in Raewyn’s eyes. Brycen’s attempts to derail Raewyn back-fired because the images only fueled Raewyn’s anger and hatred. Raewyn’s Gollum smashed against the walls of Brycen’s fortress with renewed ferocity. The more Brycen resisted and tried to rebuild his defenses, the harder Raewyn pressed. By now, Brycen’s resistance was causing physical damage. The fine capillaries in his eyes burst, and his nose and ears began to bleed.

But the effort did not leave Raewyn untouched; her nose began to bleed as well and scarlet droplets spattered to the floor unheeded. She became lightheaded but ignored it. “Tell me…” As she battered against Brycen’s defenses, Raewyn’s body was stiff with tension. She growled with an unfamiliar savagery and clenched her fists.

And then, finally, the walls that Brycen had built collapsed under Raewyn’s mentally created Gollum and he broke, "The temple will be attacked at noon!" The intensity with which he cried out those words sent spittle laced with flecks of blood in the air, covering Raewyn’s clothes. Almost immediately, Brycen’s eyes rolled up into his head and he slumped out of his chair onto the floor.

Raewyn hadn’t been prepared for Brycen’s sudden break down and when he lost consciousness, the mental link was severed so violently, she dropped to the floor barely able to fight for consciousness herself. “Raewyn!” Eri exclaimed in surprise as the girl’s knees buckled. She managed to grip both of Raewyn’s shoulders and ease her to the ground. Everything had all happened so quickly. One second she had felt Raewyn’s shoulder tense beneath her hand, seen her slip into a meditative trance, and then she had collapsed.

Raewyn’s nose bled and she must have bitten her lip because she tasted blood. The entire mental battle had taken only a few seconds all told, but Raewyn was so exhausted that she could barely get her bearings and the room spun so crazily that she had to close her eyes tightly to avoid becoming sick. With her head bowed, she murmured, “Did…did you hear that?” She asked Eri. She honestly didn’t know if Brycen had spoken aloud or not, under the attack, and the line between reality and the mindscape had blurred.

Eri managed a weak nod. “Yeah…I heard.” Brycen’s announcement had drained the color out of Eri’s face. Noon. It was too soon… They hadn’t even recovered their wits from the last battle.

And then suddenly, it all hit Raewyn. She’d done something horrible. She’d done worse than what Maeve had done. Maeve had been about deception. But what Raewyn had done to Brycen had been murder…she’d killed him…at least…she thought she had. Looking at the unconscious Mage lying in a small puddle of blood and unmoving, it was difficult to be sure. She felt sick and disgusting….she hated what Udonis had forced her to do. How she hated him…she hated them all.

Eri knelt next to Raewyn in silence for a few seconds, assessing her condition to make sure she wouldn’t faint. The blood coming from her nose and torn lip worried Eri, and her face had taken on a decidedly green tint. She gently rubbed the younger girl’s back in slow circles, not knowing what else to do that wouldn’t make her motion sickness worse. Fortunately, the color started coming back to Raewyn’s face, though her expression practically screamed a sense of guilt over what she had done. She trembled slightly under Eri’s hand.

“Shh…it’s all right,” Eri whispered, trying to use a soothing tone of voice. “You did what you had to do. Now we know their plans.” On the inside, however, Eri was seething, spitting mad. Raewyn may have just saved their lives by getting that information, but she hated the means used to get it. And she hated Adina for practically dragging Raewyn into this torture chamber and forcing her to do something that she despised and then bear the guilt afterward.

Once Raewyn’s shaking subsided, Eri asked, “Hey, are you going to be okay here for a second? I’m going to get a healer to check you.” Eri could try and use the healing techniques that she had learned from Tsume, but she didn’t want to take a chance on missing something. Once Raewyn gave a small nod, Eri added, “Just sit tight and don’t move until someone comes to help you. I need to tell Loki and the others.”

All compassion fled from Eri’s face as she flung open the door, letting it hit the stone wall with a satisfying bang, and stalked furiously across the hall toward Adina. “Udonis’ forces will attack here at noon, and Raewyn needs a healer immediately,” she announced aloud. Then the guards actually tensed as she got right up in the Grand Mistress’ face and hissed in a furious undertone, “I hope you’re happy with forcing a child to bear the guilt of torturing someone to the point of near-death.” She waved her hand to indicate Raewyn kneeling on the ground and Brycen in a bleeding, motionless heap on the ground. “You caused this. Now fix it,” she growled.

With one last glare at Adina, she spun on her heel and took off at a dead sprint down the halls back toward the group. Thanks to a few quick mental prompts from Arashi, Eri made it back to the meditation room in record time. She burst through the doorway and skidded to a halt, breathing heavily and meeting her friends’ startled glances with a serious, foreboding expression.

“We’ve got trouble. Udonis is attacking the temple at noon.”
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by quakernuts on Sat Jun 02, 2012 5:01 pm

Ever since the confrontation with Eri, Jake had done little to bring attention to himself aside from a quick few words when he first re-entered the temple. He had gotten to the point where he was simply faking boredom while his eyes wandered in every possible nook and cranny the building could hold. He had barely moved since he had come back in, and was worried that might have drawn suspicion if it weren’t for the fact that everyone was more or less the same way. The entire scene was, in all seriousness, as boring as a funeral. It might as well have been one, with the recent death of Tsume. Jake couldn’t understand everyone’s grief over one man. These people had killed so many already, and yet they grieved for one man and expected the world to feel sorry for them? What about the people they killed? Did they not have families? Most likely they did, and that is what made Jake’s empathy for the group wither even more. Of course, he was a fine one to talk. He didn’t care who lived or died, so long as he was the one that was always on top.

The only thing to break him out of his reverie was the shadows that started to move of their own accord. Jake looked over and saw the shadows start to take coherent shape. He cast a quick glance over to find T’yang, but couldn’t see her immediately. Even if she was in the room, what would this display of power prove? However, once the image became clear, he could tell this wasn’t T’yang’s doing. Instead, it was a film of sorts, starring Tsume and his untimely demise at the hand of the giant shadow summon that Udonis had. Jake stared in a non-caring fashion, his eyes glazing over as the image repeated itself over and over again. It wasn’t until Tal managed to shake Raewyn loose did it disperse. After that, it wasn’t long before everyone went their separate ways trying to forget the image and the past couple of days. Eri had entered the room, but Jake gave her no thought and no warning glares. No smiles, no eye contact, no sign that he had even registered her presence. He knew that she was becoming emotionally unstable, and even a sideways glance might be enough to send her into a hysteric state. It wasn’t that he cared for her well being, quite the opposite, he didn’t care. However, they would undoubtedly ask why she was crying, which would lead to a series of events that would have everyone questioning who he was.

He gave himself a smirk at the thought of that fight when Adina came in telling Raewyn that she needed to force information from Brycen. Jake almost volunteered, deeming himself better suited to getting the information out of a dying man...or soon dying man had Jake been allowed to do it himself. Instead, both Raewyn and Eri went with her, and the room felt oddly empty. Jake remained where he was, his mind floating to possible strategies and scenarios. He needed to be prepared for just about anything, and unlike his emotional counterpart, thinking was one of his strong suites. His mind briefly flared over the entire party. Tal? He was a strong man, almost as strong as Jake despite having no augmented muscles. His one arm could possibly make him a liability, but should his summon gain enough strength before any more battles he would prove to be a dominating force on the battlefield. Should Jake end up fighting Tal, it was a foregone conclusion as to who would win. Without a fully healed summon to back him up, Jake figured the battle would be short and sweet, death would be almost instantaneous for the vagabond, which would result in the death of his rhino as well. Jake mentally scoffed, since he didn’t care for the beings of another’s mind. They were just like him with his split personalities, only manifested into the physical realm. The next one was Eri, a more than likely target for battle.

She was quick, he had seen that much, and despite having very little actual physical strength, she was a force on the battlefield that deemed a careful eye. Her link with her summon was almost unnatural, but it allowed for further cohesion to the point where summon and summoner blurred. She could dominate the skies if need be, but should they enter a fight against each other, that would be a disadvantage that Jake couldn’t allow to happen. His first target would be the wings of the summon, ground the girl and her bird in one fell swoop. Then, once that was done, force the attack. She was better in a fight when she had room to manoeuvre, he wouldn’t allow her to have any. Once she was in a position of disadvantage, it would be as simple as overwhelming her. His strength dwarfed any attempt she could possibly attempt, and her death would be swift.

T’yang was a slightly different matter. He had seen the shadows, how they could be manipulated, and how useful they could be when on one’s side. While she had a small role in the refinery fight, Jake couldn’t help but think of the possible advantages to an ally that couldn’t be fought and killed in a traditional manner. He saw they could also be used as a possible shield, and that would further complicate matters for whoever she was fighting. Instead, Jake decided to focus on the user herself. The shadows were a disadvantage that couldn’t be neutralized without killing the user first. Therefore they were irrelevant, and she would be a first target should a fight break out between Jake and the group. Those shadows would need to be neutralized. Luckily, once again, her physical strength was almost non-existent against Jake, and added to the fact that his earthen armour could deflect most of her blows by itself, and it was a simple matter of getting to her before the shadows bogged him down. He would need to be quick, especially with her.

Raewyn was a non-existent threat. Yes, she had just shown she had gained a new ability, but it was likely she didn’t know how to control it if the display was any sign. He would kill her last, her mind reading ability nearly ripped from her and her new power damn near uncontrollable. Besides, she had no value anymore. Her ability as a Goddess had been ripped from her, and the only thing she could possibly be used as was a bargaining chip, since the others had gotten quite attached to the spoiled brat. Either way, she wouldn’t be a problem.

The biggest unknown among the group had to be Loki. Prior to the refinery, he would have been in the same group with Raewyn save actually having some sort of combat potential within him. Now he was a complete unknown. He was in the form of a fully grown man, but chances were that he was still with the mind of a child. His wings had saved their lives once already, and proved that they had an enormous potential when it came to both offense and defense. That sided with the fact that any contact with them could result in a loss of essence made him the biggest target out of the group. If those tendrils of light actually managed to grab hold, they would weaken whoever they were holding while managing to strengthen the user. He was dangerous, albeit useful so long as they were on the same side and definitely an advantage, but dangerous none the less.

Jake mulled these thoughts over, remaining in the bored stance that bordered on sleeping. He was not actively planning to attack this group, but it always paid to have something set up in advance. Knowledge about your enemies, or in this case, potential enemies was key to survival. Jake wasn’t even sure if he would ever fight this group, maybe after this battle they would all split and go their separate ways to never see each other again. While Jake did have a certain addiction to battle, he was also smarter than his lesser self and knew that even with the knowledge of everyone around him he would most likely not last long. Despite his sadistic and battle-addicted nature, Jake was very much a survivalist and preferred having his head on his shoulders.

It was only the sound of someone running back to the room did Jake finally release these thoughts and force his head back into a blank state once more. He still didn’t know to what extent the Goddess’s mind powers were at, and did not want to let off any early clues that might lead to his plan coming into effect. Instead, what he was Eri running in, obviously flustered but quickly put on a serious face as her eyes went over everyone. “We got trouble. Udonis is attacking at noon.” Jake put on a smile.

“About fucking time.” Jake stated as he stood up from his sitting position. He gave a smile to everyone and let his eyes lock onto Eri’s for a second.

“I was just about to get bored.”
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by Guilty Carrion on Mon Jun 04, 2012 10:02 am

The monks hadn’t taken kindly to Tal attempting to kick in the door to the wine cellar, politely escorting him back to the room to be with his companions. The vagabond frowned the entire time like a child caught stealing cookies from the cookie jar, and evidentially, one of the monks took pity on him and quietly fetched him a single bottle of some form of wine. One bottle wouldn’t really get him anywhere, but he nodded his thanks none the less, gnawing the cork out of the bottle and taking a tentative swig of the brew.

“Is this a bad time to mention I hate wine?” He muttered as the monks departed, dropping to the ground gracelessly. Darren flopped beside him, snickering loudly in their link. Tal shot the summon a look, before using him as an impromptu back rest, leaning against the surprisingly strong creature and taking another healthy swig of his wine. “Eh, I guess it grows on you.”

“It’s not meant to be guzzled. You sip it.” Darren’s ears flipped tight against his head, eyes falling shut as he seemingly tried to sleep. “I wouldn’t suspect you to have enough culture to understand that.” Tal laughed, jabbing Darren in the ribs with his elbow, although the summon ignored it with all of his usual composure.

“Ah yes, culture. Had to impose that on the oldest past time, didn’t we?” He straightened up, stroking his beard in a mock image of nobility. “The taste is quite smooth and has a rich subtext that cleanses the pallet.” The two were silent for a moment, before thunderous laughter boomed across their mental link and Tal sunk back into his comfortable position from before. At that moment, the room rumbled and shook, and the vagabond looked incredulously at the wine bottle for a moment. “Either this is the stuff a god gets smashed off of, or I wasn’t the only who felt that.”

A quick glance around the room told him that it was the latter, but one of the monks was quick to mention that the mountains around them were unstable, although the freshly returned Eri seemed skeptical about it. If she meant to pursue it further however, she was promptly derailed by the half asleep visage of Darren. She crept across the room as if she were a spy, and Tal could barely suppress his grin at the poorly hidden amazement on her face. Darren was more than receptive to her scratching, grunting happily.

“You’re such a suck.” He remarked, although Darren didn’t bother with a response. Eri continued scratching him for another few moments, before suddenly stiffening and stammering out an apology. Tal laughed. “No worries. He enjoys the attention.” Eri wasted no more time scampering away from the two, and they shared a glance.

“The feather-duster was jealous.”

“It’s your dashing good looks.” Darren snorted, and Tal simply grinned all the wider, sipping at his wine once again. It wasn’t long before Adina entered the room like a small storm, her eyes locked upon Raewyn. She quickly requested, although it was certainly more like a demand, that the young girl help them force the information they needed out of their captive. Tal kept quiet, eyes narrowed slightly as he watched Eri and Raewyn over the rim of his bottle, legs shifting to stand when the pair departed without a sound. He watched the door for a moment, before chuckling. “Ever feel a little useless?”

He glanced to the others, but none of them responded, obviously preoccupied with the their own thoughts. Tal frowned, tipping the bottle back again, draining the last of the bottle. Grumbling something under his breath, he set it aside and flopped back against Darren, ivory eyes boring a hole in the wall. “Typically, you go to sleep when you’ve nothing to do.” Darren’s prodding voice nudged at his mind, and Tal only frowned harder.

“I can’t. Too much on my mind.” The two were silent for a moment. “What do you think he wants?”

“Udonis?”

“Aye.” Darren shifted beneath him, trying to get more comfortable despite the bulk of his summoner laying against him. “It just seems...”

“Foolish? I certainly think so. A lust for power is one thing, but to interfere with the cycle of the goddess itself is beyond foolish. Madness and heresy are the only words I think are appropriate.” Tal nodded in agreement, running his hand through his beard.

“Will it even work?”

“Who’s to say? Nothing like this has ever actually happened as far as I’m aware, so who’s to know what the ramifications could be?”

“A long drought if we’re lucky?” He could sense the doubt through the bond, and tried to smile, only to feel it falter. “I’ve always been pretty lucky.”

“No one’s lucky forever, Tal.” The vagabond turned his head slowly, eyes locked on the small stump where his arm had been. “We both know that now.”

“Aye.” He breathed, sitting up slowly and rolling his shoulders. The big man sat still for a moment, before swallowing hard and rising to his feet. Darren lifted his head, watching the vagabond examine his remaining arm. “Then I think it’s about time we got back up, Darren.” The summon rose, agreement echoing through their bond.

Eri chose that moment to return, flustered and breathing heavy, but her face was grim. “We’ve got trouble. Udonis is attacking the temple at noon.” Tal watched her for a moment, as Jake made his opinion known.

“About fucking time.” The two met eyes for a moment, and Tal couldn’t help but chuckle at the man’s never ending commitment to kicking ass. “I was just about to get bored.”

“I’m with Jake.” Cracking his neck, Tal’s face split into a massive grin. “I’ve got a few things to thank’em for, plus it saves us having to track his damn ass down.” He laughed, booming and powerful, feeling the fury from the refinery trickling back into his mind. The surge the emotion brought with it invigorated him even further, and Darren rumble nosily behind him in anticipation.

He clapped Eri roughly on the back, almost accidentally knocking the smaller woman over with the force of it. “So, let’s get ready! Me and Darren need to get back up to speed, and now sounds like the best damn time to do it."
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by Loki on Thu Jul 05, 2012 9:03 pm

The Grand Mistress didn't so much as flinch away from her stoically emotionless expression as Eri unleashed her verbal assault. Only when she stormed away did Adina shoot a side glance to one of her retinue for an instant, which was all the time that was needed to convey the order for the man to tend to the unconscious girl. With that task addressed, she made her way back to the council with hasty yet authoritative strides to pass on the grim news.




Loki sat there with his mouth hanging agape as Eri shared the discovery that had been attained from their venture. Sure, he had more than enough time under the man's captivity to get an idea of the sort of man Udonis was and just how deeply his ambition ran, but to try something so bold as to assault the temple head on was staggering. It was widely known that within the walls of this monastery is an amalgamation of the most capable warriors and saturates Viemera had to offer. Everybody from the lowest acolyte to the Grand Mistress herself spends every waking day of their lives dedicated to the cause of protecting the Goddess and destroying any who wishes harm upon her. Individually, the average monk would be an even match for any of Udonis' Magi. Given a chance to work as a unit, those same monks have the potential to bring down a Goddess at the height of her power; after all, it is one of the many contingencies they must prepare for. To pit himself directly against such a force at the seat of their power is a very real risk that seems very unlike Udonis even with his newfound abilities.

It was a notion that Loki believed to be a tactic much too simple and inelegant for one as crafty as Udonis. At least until he remembered that it was only out of sheer fortune that any of them had survived the encounter at the refinery. Still, something didn't quite set right with him. Surely plans would have changed once Brycen failed to check in from his mission.

Before he had a chance to dwell on those thoughts any longer, the serenity of the temple was broken by the deep resonating crash of a gong sounding in steady rhythm. Loki looked around the room bewilderedly thinking it was an alarm and that the assault had come earlier than expected. It was only the calm motions of the few monks in the midst of their prayers rising to their feet and making their way to the chamber doors with purpose but not urgency that made him think otherwise. "Come." Said one of the monks who stopped to address their group. "The council has called a general assembly and all who are not detained are required to attend."




A quarter hour later the monastery's courtyard was occupied by every resident and guest residing within the temple's walls regardless of age, rank, or state of dress. The mountaintop was bathed in enough light from the heavens above to make the need for local light sources redundant and unnecessary. Only the absolute youngest of those present retained trace amounts of slumber that they tried to wipe out of their eyes while still managing to retain an air of discipline about them despite the fact that they likely have yet to see the second half of their first decade upon this life. Buildings framed three sides of the courtyard with a towering siege wall guarding their backs. Before the assembly, upon an elevated stage resided Grand Mistress Adina and six others who wore mantles of authority denoting them a none other than the temple's elder council. All seven of whom were adorned in arms and armor, which was enough to set the mood for this particular congregation.

"As I am sure you are all aware by now, we find ourselves facing a group who threatens the world in a way that has not been seen for centuries." Adina's voice rang clearly throughout the space, easily heard even in the rear most portions of the courtyard. "Time is too precious to spend on an accounting of recent events; I am aware of the whisperings that have traveled through our halls and simply put, they are true." In any other venue such news likely would have caused a cacophony of muttered words and uneasy chatter, but none present so much as made a peep. "Though, what we have recently discovered is that the organization responsible intends to lead an assault on these very walls once the sun reaches its next apex in the sky. We do not know their numbers, nor do we know what they intend to bring to bear upon us, but we must prepare for the worst. So prepare yourselves, for this is the day we have all trained so diligently for: the existence of a corrupted capable goddess with a force at their back. Though the being in question is not of natural inheritance of the gift, it does not change the fact that he must not live to see another day and it is up to all of us to see to it that order is once again restored to the world!"




Nothing more was said after Adina's briefing. The crowd simply dispersed into hundreds of bodies setting about attending to their individual tasks while still managing to maintain order and discipline. Minutes later, a monk approached the group informing them that the Grand Mistress has permitted them unrestricted access to the temple's armory and to take whatever arms or armor they would need. Loki was thankful for that and was more than eager to get into attire that would be a better fit to his new frame.

Once there, his eyes went wide with surprise of just how well supplied the weapon stores were. Just about every style of armor and weapon he had ever known adorned the large building, even a few he had never seen before in his life. All of which were clearly of masterwork quality and even then there was the ringing sound of hammer blows upon steel and huffing of forges being brought alive. Initially, he had intended to pass up on armor with the intent of relying upon his wings as his standard defense, but a moment of consideration made him decide having a layer of leather armor couldn't hurt. When Loki made his way to the portion of the building dedicated to weapons, he couldn't help but look nostalgically upon a pair of katars. Though they were the sort of weapon he had been initially trained upon, it was now the broadsword the he could feel awaiting his beck and call that he felt most attuned with. Instead he satisfied himself with grabbing a simple dagger, leaving the more elegant weapons to one who surely would be more capable than he.

By the time the group had finished at the armory, they would be able to see the sky to the east ablaze with warm pinks and oranges as the sun neared its first appearance over the horizon of this new day. With it came the weight of the ordeals that they would surely undergo in a matter of hours, managing to settle itself firmly on Loki's shoulders despite his attempts to blame the encumbrance on his new armor. That combined with his gradually building nerves and uncertainty left him with the desire to resort to an old habit he had since his former life. "I'm going to go for a walk and try to clear my head." After extending a warm, yet weak smile to the others, he began walking towards the western wall once deeming it the more sparsely populated of directions.
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by quakernuts on Sat Jul 07, 2012 12:06 am

The feeling after being told the news was a bit of disappointment and anti-climatic boredom. Jake, realizing nothing was going to happen for the moment, sat back down on the floor and let the absolute nothingness of the situation sink in to the surroundings. Normally his other self would be bouncing on the walls, practically punching the foundations of the temple in order to bring about some sort of drug induced adrenaline rush in order to pass the time. Ekaj was not like that, and his eyes surveyed everything they settled upon with a very distinct cold quality. No one was paying attention to him at the moment, not even Eri, which allowed him to settle into something that he was more comfortable with. He kept his eyes open on all of them, lest anyone of them suddenly change interests and catch him being...well, very un-Jake-like.

His thoughts had changed from the group to the upcoming battle. If they were willing to charge the temple, there had to be something up their sleeves. They were in a veritable fortress, walls the size of canyons guarded the monks and their holy order. The monks themselves, while filled with a silent form of pride that Ekaj had to mock and respect at the same time, were highly trained warriors capable of taking on many different enemies at once. No, that meant there was something else. Jake sat up, his axe unconsciously being swung around in his right hand as he paced the room. His mind went in every direction, even the possibility of the monk's order being infiltrated, which was very likely. His reverie was broken when the sound of a gong resonated through the temple. Jake looked around and saw that the monks were all moving with a purpose away from the room that they were currently occupied. After one of the monks mentioned that they were required to attend, Jake simply shrugged and followed suite. No doubt it was some kind of war council or announcement. Everyone needed to start preparing of course, but they would need to make it official. Of course, lets spend time revitalizing the spirit of lesser men and women so that it can seem like the fight has a point when the time comes. Jake thought to himself in a bored inner monologue as he managed to join the surge of people heading to the courtyard.

When they finally reached the outer grounds, it seemed as if the entire world had been summoned to this meeting. The courtyard was packed with people, most from the order but others seeming as if they just lived here. Jake peered over everyone and gave a look to the woman standing atop a small stage with armoured men flanking her on each side. When Adina started her briefing, and even gave the truth about the rumours, Jake was slightly surprised there was not even one word muttered throughout the crowd. Disciplined...good, we will need that. Jake thought to himself as he drowned out the words and looked around the courtyard for himself. It was a fairly defended position, with a natural barrier guarding one of their flanks while buildings and a giant wall covered the rest. The wall, while enormous and able to withstand a great deal on it's own, would most likely fall before the fight was over. Jake stared at it, looking for any kind of weak point that might indicate a puncture wound to the heart of the temple. His eyes eventually fell to the buildings, likely to fall more quickly but unlike the wall would be filled with combatants. His inspection of the barriers between them and their enemy was so thorough that Jake didn't even notice that the assembly had ended until the crowd bumped into him trying to exit the courtyard. He looked around, making sure to put a signature smirk on his face as Jake would do in times of impending battle.

When one of the monks came by and told them they had unrestricted access to the armoury, Jake couldn't help but give a genuine smile. While his other side had been prone to keep the axe on his back as a memento of the changing of his life, Ekaj felt no such emotional attachment. It was nothing more than a weapon, a tool to be used to make sure that the person on the receiving end would no longer see the light of day. By now, the weapon was outdated, useless in comparison to some of the stronger weapons out there. Jake's level of strength, even passively, called for something much better...and much bigger. Even as the group of them made for the armoury, Jake already had plans as to what exactly he was going to retrieve.

Once they were inside the armour section of the armoury, Jake spent some time looking around. He floated from armour piece to armour piece, bypassing all of the lighter stuff such as scaled, iron, and leather. While they would be adequate protection against damage, and he would feel as if he's not even wearing them, this was not a battle he could entirely rely on his reaction time. Finally his eyes rested on a steel armour set, heavy by regular standards but light enough for Jake. The set itself was simple in design, no overly flamboyant markings, runes, or symbols aside from a flowing red cape. Jake took the chest piece down, unceremoniously detaching the cape and letting it float to the floor. "Smith." Jake called over to the man hammering on the anvil. The man gave a look up. "Do you mind hooking this up for me?"

"Ah, a heavy armour man like myself eh?" The slightly large blacksmith came over, and started strapping on the armour to Jake.

"Not really, but there's a first time for everything." Jake responded as the chest piece was fitted to him. It fit almost perfectly, and just as Jake suspected, he barely registered it's presence on his body aside from a slight drop in his arm's movement radius. It wouldn't matter much, considering that if he had to lift his weapon that high anyways, he would be under attack from the air, in which case he should be rolling and not blocking. It took a few minutes for the entire set of armour to be attached to Jake, in which time the rest of the group had already moved on. When it was done, the Blacksmith presented Jake with a finely done steel helmet, complete with a face shield with a slit to see through and what looked like ivory horns.

"It's a bit flashy for my liking..." The Blacksmith stated. "But if you ever feel the need to headbutt, it's better to have this thing on." Jake gave a smile.

"I'll leave the headbutts to my friend with the rhino, thank you." Friend? That word had almost dripped venom when Jake had spoken. He considered none of them his friend, but his other side did. Such emotional attachment, even with his other side severely weakened from their fight still seemed to leak over in a surprising amount. The Blacksmith gave a shrug, and placed the helmet back on the table.

"Well, if you ever change your mind, it's right here." The Blacksmith looked down on the floor at the cape. "As well as the cape." Jake gave a nod, and walked out of the armour section. His newly found steel protection was giving off more noise than he would have liked, but despite a certain lack of agility, the weight of the armour barely registered. Why his other side enjoyed wandering into battle with nothing more than an overcoat and blue jeans was beyond his comprehension other than pure and reckless bravado. When Jake got to the weapons area of the armoury, there were still a few of the group there but he didn't talk to them. If any of them stared at him in full steel armour, he gave them no notice. Instead, he took his axe and gave it one last look. It was just a weapon, true, but Ekaj couldn't help but feel like he was looking at his father. The moment that Jake had killed his first man, with this very axe, was when Ekaj had come fully into existence. Jake gave a slight shake of his head, and placed the axe on the table with the rest of the weapons. He was being rarely nostalgic, and he didn't enjoy it. Instead, he slid his fingers across the table of the other weapons, slowly making his way to the racks. His eyes briefly flickered on the greatswords and battleaxes, weapons that usually required strong men with two hands to wield. Jake had no doubt in his mind he could wield one with one hand, but he would be too slow. They would tire him too quickly and with a battle that promised little respite, he looked away from those weapons.

Instead, his eyes went to the shields. There were small, round ones made of leather all the way to giant kite shields made of the strongest alloys. His hand ran over one of the kite shields. It was made of steel, much like his armour, and had the picture of a grizzly bear jumping towards Jake over top a field of flowers as it's symbol on the front. Jake didn't understand the symbolism behind it, but grabbed the shield anyways. He felt the weight, giving it a few thrusts, and testing how much coverage it offered. While the kite shield, which was more akin to a tower shield being completely rectangular in shape, didn't completely cover his body, it covered a fair portion. More than enough to block any arrow that found it's mark or even someone using projectile saturate powers. It was light enough as well. Like the armour, he registered it's presence but it was little more than that. He grabbed the strap, and placed the giant shield on his back.

He continued to look through the weapons, none of which really caught his eye. Swords? He was more of a blunt force kind of guy and swords really relied on finesse aside from greatswords. Axes? They felt almost like a circumstantial weapon. They were better used against un-armoured foes, and if the assembly was any indication that was far from the case here. Hammers? Complete opposite of axes, better used against armoured foes. Jake didn't like having to stick to a certain type of enemy to fight. He wanted to make sure everyone was hurt all the same whenever he swung his weapon. His eyes finally came to rest on a rack filled with maces. He looked at them for a moment, his eyes fluttering between each of the different maces. They were an all around better weapon than his axe would be. Blunt enough to deal damage to armour, sharp enough to deal with the un-armoured, and small enough to not cause fatigue too quickly. His hands gripped a black mace, it's head a mixture of blades and blunt sides. Sharp edges burst from the center of the head of the weapon while the space between the blades allowed there to be a bluntness to the weapon as well. This will do just fine. Jake said to himself as he grabbed the holster for the weapon, and slid it onto his waist. Satisfied with his selection, and finding that everyone else was gone by that point, Jake started on his way out of the building. He gave one last look at the axe on the table, before giving a brief grunt and leaving the area.

Jake didn't feel like getting back to the group at the moment, preferring the relative calm of his isolation. The area of the temple he was in was currently void of bodies, and rather than make his way back to what he deemed was their common room, he turned the other direction. He started mapping the area mentally, and was not surprised at the lack of bodies he was running into. There would be a group of monks, armed and armoured wandering through the halls, but if they noticed him, they gave no sign. Aside from that, it was eerily silent. Jake continued to wander, until he found himself in a simple room with a giant map tacked to the wall. He gave a look around, ensuring that no one was in the area, before stepping inside. As he get closer, he confirmed that the map was of Viemera. The temple was, of course, not marked on the map, but he had seen this one several times. One of the few things his fool of another half managed to actually partially retain. Jakes fingers traced along the map, managing to deduce through their path where the refinery was, and placed his finger on it. Since they had teleported to the temple, he couldn't be sure as to where exactly the temple was, but he took a guess and placed it relatively close to the mountains. He frowned, already knowing but just now confirming that he had nowhere to go within relatively quick running distance. If he ever chose his life was much more important than this...'cause', he would be hard pressed to get far without being hunted down. Instead, he chose to trace back his, or Jake's, path through this whole adventure. Mildly surprised at the amount of distance covered by them.

As he did this, he swung his axe absent minded, his eyes fixed to the map as he became lost in thought. he didn't catch on for a good few seconds that he was swinging an axe that he no longer had. He looked down to see exactly what he was swinging, and was surprised when he found that from his elbow right to his hand was engulfed in what could only be described as black fire. In his hand was an axe, very similar to the one he had left behind, but this one was made of the same fire that had engulfed his arm. Jake stared at it in mild curiosity, then remembered what had happened after the fight at the refinery. Eri managed to transform into an angelic-like creature, and Raewyn suddenly had powers over the shadows much like T'yang. This must be his new power. He was slightly disappointed, hoping for something...well...more. Summoning a weapon made out of fire, while his other side might have jumped for joy, Ekaj only saw it as yet another tool. He looked up at the map, then back down to his hand. He willed the axe away, but was surprised when the black fire managed to stay. He attempted to will his other hand to light on fire as well, and was rewarded with the black flames coming up to his elbow. He attempted to have them cover more of his body, but confirmed after several attempts that the flames only went so far. "Disappointing." Jake said to himself, and looked at his hands once more.

Then he had a thought, and he looked up at the map. He slowly put a hand up to the map, and watched as the flames started covering the portrait of Viemera. They quickly spread across the entire canvass, but Jake noticed with a little bit of confusion that the map didn't seem to be rapidly burning like paper should. Instead, it seemed to be so slowly that the tips of the map were barely curling. Well this isn't effective. Jake thought to himself, and had a thought. He flexed his hands, willing the fire to burn quickly, and to his surprise, it actually did. The map started to burn faster, parts of it falling off. When Jake released the tension in his hands, the fire went back to burning slowly. That could come in handy should I ever need information...or fun. Jake thought to himself as a grin spread across his face at his new tool.


"WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS?!" Jake spun around to see a group of monks staring at him, their eyes occasionally flickering to the slowly burning map, seeming to only look at the fire and not the actual object that was burning. It was obvious he was only really concerned with the fact that Jake had started a fire in the temple in the first place. Jake gave a smile as let the flames flicker and die on his arms. He walked up to the monks, looking the lead one in the eye.

"I'm learning what it's like to watch the world burn...after all, it's going to happen at noon." Jake walked out, and as he passed beyond the threshold of the door, flexed his hands once more, and heard the flames intensify and render the map to ash before finally dissipating.
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by Silvan Arrow on Wed Jul 11, 2012 9:20 pm

Honestly, Eri should have known better than to be surprised at Tal and Jake’s reactions to her news. She had run here like a bat out of the underworld, carrying the worst possible news, and they were practically chomping at the bit for some action. Eri nearly did a face plant when Tal clapped her on the back, though she managed to save her dignity and stay on her feet. Only Loki sat in stunned silence at the announcement. Before Eri could offer him any words of encouragement, the rhythmic crash of a gong resounded throughout the Temple. A nearby monk explained that the council had declared an assembly, thus forestalling any panic over a possible attack. Eri simply shrugged and fell in line with the monks, glancing over her shoulder to see the others following as well.

Fifteen minutes later, Eri glanced around nervously at the large crowd of people that made the courtyard feel far too small. She had not been in a crowd this big since Fuuren, and now she had to resist the urge to climb the walls or simply leap into the sky with her new wings and watch the proceedings from above. Unlike other crowds, this one was eerily quiet, which made it even more unsettling. The Grand Mistress and her six senior council members conveyed the seriousness of the situation with their weapons and armor, and she addressed the gathered throng with a voice of authority. She said nothing that Eri and her friends didn’t already know, though it was probably new and shocking to most of the Temple residents and guests.

The briefing ended quickly and without fanfare, and the monks immediately dispersed in an organized manner to begin preparing for the assault. Eri had to admire their calm, disciplined response in the face of crisis instead of panicking and running in circles. Even more surprising, a monk approached the group and said that they could take whatever they needed from the armory. At first, Eri didn’t think she needed anything, but when Loki and the others started towards the armory, she figured it wouldn’t hurt to at least check it out.

Eri grinned slightly at seeing Loki’s eyes widen like a kid in a candy store when they entered the armory. She clapped a hand on his shoulder, which was much higher up than she remembered, and joked lightly, “Don’t get lost in here.” She left him to his own devices and wandered over to the swords while the others scattered to various other stations. Seeing so many exquisitely crafted weapons brought back fond memories of Eri watching her father in his smithy. He would love it here. She tested the weight and feel of a few different swords, but as fine as they were, she already knew that none of them fit her hand as well as her father’s sword or Gale Cleaver. She did, however, pick up a belt of a half dozen throwing daggers in sheaths and fasten it just below her sword belt. Her new flight abilities could mean that she could throw projectiles from above and get the advantage of surprise. She also had one of the swordsmiths sharpen her father’s sword, and he did a much better job with his equipment than she would have with just her palm-sized whetstone.

Armor, however, was another matter entirely. Eri had never worn armor in battle, and she didn’t want to start now. However, she didn’t know what kind of forces Udonis would bring, so it couldn't hurt to be prepared. She needed to keep her armor light so she wouldn’t weigh down either Arashi or her own wings. As she had learned from fighting Jasper and Kuresh, the ability to evade could save her life just as well as armor.

As she made her way to the racks that housed armor, she passed Jake heading in the opposite direction, back towards the weapons. She did a slight double-take at the sight of him clad in heavy steel armor, though he didn’t so much as glance in her direction. ‘Ekaj…’ The name weighed heavily on her mind, as this was just one more difference between Jake and his dark side. The Jake she knew would have offered a sarcastic comment and probably would have insisted that he was already tough enough to kick Udonis’ butt without armor. Ekaj, on the other hand, unnerved her with his cold, calculating demeanor, though she knew he would be just as lethal in battle against the impending attack. It was an uneasy truce, but it would have to do until after this battle…assuming they all survived.

Once she reached the racks of lightweight armor, Eri found herself at a loss due to her wings. She needed some kind of armor that would protect her torso but not cover up her shoulders. Otherwise, her wings would shred through any leather bindings as soon as she summoned them, and she needed a full range of motion for her arms so she could call her swords and wind.

Luckily, the women who worked in the armory knew just what to do. To their credit, they didn’t even blink when Eri explained that one of her Saturate abilities involving summoning a massive pair of jet-black wings so she could fly. Instead, one quickly took some measurements of her torso and the slits in the back of her tunic while another scurried off to pull some pieces of armor off the racks to try. Eri summoned her wings then they asked and then stood in place like a mannequin, arms and wings outspread, while they held up different pieces for size. If any of the group members passed by to catch the amusing sight, Eri didn’t notice. Within fifteen minutes, the two monks had modified and clad Eri in a rather unique set of black leather armor. The breastplate was a corset-style that laced up and tied along her lower back. The set of armor also include shoulder guards and a leather plate to protect her upper back, but the monks removed those to accommodate her wings and added extra leather ties at the top to make sure it stayed in place. The breastplate extended down to her hips, and then thick strips of leather flared out like a skirt to cover the tops of her thighs. The set of armor also included matching black leather greaves for her calves and bracers for her arms.

Eri had to admit, she was impressed with the results. She felt a little self-conscious that the black leather hugged her figure so tightly, particularly around her chest, but the armor was comfortable and did not restrict her breathing or movement at all. The only downside was that her back was largely exposed, particularly around her shoulders. The monks gave her a stern warning to watch her back and then sent her on her way.

Getting her armor outfitted had taken longer than Eri realized, and she did not see any of the others as she headed toward the exit. She passed by the weapons racks again just on a whim…and froze at what she saw. Jake’s axe lay abandoned on the table, tossed aside with a pile of other weapons that were obviously doomed to the scrap heap. Eri’s feet moved on their own accord, drawing her over to the weapon that she recognized almost as well as her swords. Seeing Jake’s signature weapon discarded like this was like a punch in the gut. She had gotten so used to seeing Jake with his axe that she could not picture one without the other. But of course…she had to remember that Ekaj would feel no such nostalgia towards a weapon, no matter the history behind it.

A blacksmith noticed Eri staring at the axe and wandered over, trying to be helpful. “Didn’t realize you favored axes, ma’am. Would you like me to show you some of our better ones?”

Eri gave a slight start, jolted out of her trance, and shook her head. “Oh…uh… No thanks… I was just looking.” The blacksmith smiled and went back to his business, and Eri turned to leave. She managed a few steps before she stopped, glancing back over her shoulder at the axe. This was stupid, she told herself. No need to make such a big deal. And yet, before she could talk herself out of it, she went back to the table, glanced around to make sure none of her friends were around, and reached out her hand…

When Eri rejoined the others outside, the sun was just starting to tint the sky with warm colors reminiscent of fire. Somehow, the colors of the sunrise seemed appropriate for a day that would surely be marked by flames. Loki in particular acted nervous, though he did his best to hide it. Eri watched as he left to take a walk but made no move to follow, deciding to give him the space he needed. Instead she summoned Arashi and sent him into the cloudbanks to scout, high above the temple where he would not be seen. She turned to the others and said, “I’ll be back before the attack” before extending her wings and leaping into the sky. She flew to the highest point on the temple and landed delicately on the roof, barely touching with the balls of her feet while holding out her wings for balance. She had an unparalleled view of the valley and mountain ranges surrounded the temple, save for her partner in the clouds.

‘See anything yet?’

Nothing so far. I predict Udonis will keep his word and attack at noon as Brycen said.

‘Still, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. Brycen could have been lying or fed false information.’


Which is precisely why we’re here, Arashi stated, finishing Eri’s train of thought. He paused and then sent her a teasing mental probe. That armor looks quite striking on you.

Eri rolled her eyes but smirked nonetheless. ‘Keep your eyes out for an attack, not my appearance, silly.’ Arashi chuckled good-naturedly in her mind and fell silent. Eri borrowed one of his eyes so she could share in his vision while she looked out from her vantage point as well. The silence stretched out for an unknown length of time, making the pinfeathers on the back of her neck stand on end. One way or another, something would be decided today.

But for now, all they could do was wait.
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by Digital Muse on Sun Jul 15, 2012 2:53 pm

When T’yang had returned from the garden with Adina, she moved to sit between Loki and Raewyn. She knew the girl still mistrusted her, but it mattered very little. She would guard Raewyn just as Tsume would have. A low, shaking rumble in the temple grounds beneath them nearly brought T’yang to her feet until one of the monks assured them that minor tremors were not uncommon in the mountains. T’yang hadn’t remembered any such rumblings while she’d been at the temple, but it had been almost a lifetime ago. She had barely settled back into her meditation when the Grand Mistress had come to collect Raewyn to force Brycen to reveal Udonis’ plans. She scowled heavily at the idea, while it was vitally important, T’yang wished there was another option. But, it seemed there wasn’t. She watched with some trepidation as Raewyn, followed by Eri exited the meditation chamber. Eri would protect Raewyn physically, but T’yang suspected that physical trauma would not be the issue at all.

In a surprisingly short period of time, Eri ran back to the room announcing Udonis’ plans to attack the Temple directly at noon. She flowed to her feet, mind racing. “What does he hope to gain?” She murmured aloud. To no one’s surprise, Jake exclaimed his satisfaction with going back into battle again and Tal was a close second. T’yang could only shake her head at the pair. If Udonis was planning to attack the temple with its fortifications and hundreds of trained Essence users, it meant he believed he had an overwhelming advantage. But before T’yang could voice her concerns, a monk returned to the room and summoned them for a meeting called by the council.

The Grand Mistress addressed the crowds gathered, confirming what Eri had already told them in a calm voice and bid them all to prepare. Quietly, the crowd dispersed, each to their own duties with a certain grim determination. Another monk advised them on the way back to the meditation room that they could have anything from the armory that they chose to use, so as a group, they all walked toward the huge armory to gather what they needed. Unlike most of the others, T’yang bypassed the racks of weapons. She had trained with the war fan her whole life. Choosing a different weapon now would be foolish. Instead, she gave her single fan to the armorer to sharpen and reshape to its original condition and found another that would match it in weight and size. That done,T’yang considered her fight with Tsume back at the leylines. She was vulnerable to physical attacks if the battle proved to be the chaotic melee she anticipated. She wandered toward the lines of armor and shields along the south wall of the armory. She saw that Eri was being fitted for a hardened leather armor that would allow for her summoned wings while Tal worked with another armorer to fit his large frame with solid metal armor. T’yang was glad to see no fear in the eyes of her companions and that they were not allowing pride to get in the way of being practical. What did surprise her was Jake opting for plate armor. His earthen armor was more than capable of turning away nearly any physical attack. Why did he choose plate armor as well? She watched him as he set his ax aside for a larger weapon and stalk from the room without a word. For some reason she couldn’t explain, it made her uneasy.

Turning from watching Jake leave the room, T’yang looked at the armor available that might fit her and her style. Hers was a very fluid fighting style and relied heavily on being able to move freely. Anything that restricted movements of her shoulders, arms and legs had to be ruled out. In the end, T’yang took a number of different elements from several types of armor to create something that protected her but wouldn’t slow her down. For her torso and thighs, she chose free moving lamellar armor so that she could move easily. For her arms, she chose a simple maille shirt that extended in a peak over the back of her hand and was held in place with a loop over her middle finger. Simple greaves protected her shins and the tops of her feet. Donning her choices, T’yang returned to the armorer to retrieve her fans. The smith smiled when he gave them back to her. “They’ll remove a head as slick as you please.” T’yang inspected the edge and tested them to ensure they opened with a simple snap of her wrist. They both moved effortlessly. T’yang closed them again and slid them into the sash around her waist. Bowing to the smith, she thanked him, but as she moved to leave, he stopped her. “Miss Bin? I don’t mean to tell you your business, but I’ve been doing this a very long time.” He paused and patted his head and then his neck. “You have to protect these too.” That said, he handed T’yang a helmet with a lammelar banding that draped to cover the back of her neck as well. The face was open to allow for the best possible range of vision and once tied beneath her chin, she smiled. “Thank you for this.”

Returning to the meditation room, she noted that Loki had gone for a walk. Nerves, no doubt. She considered going out to talk to the boy, but doubted he wanted company at this time. Instead, T’yang wondered about Udonis. Though she had worked for him, she knew little of the man or how he thought. She knew of his megalomania, but there was more. Why attack the Temple head on? Even with the powers he had stolen from Goddess and others, he couldn’t destroy everyone here. Had he amassed a massive army? It seemed unlikely, someone would have noticed. What was his plan? The thoughts chased themselves round and round in her mind. They were sheltered on three sides by mountains, leaving only one possible approach. That approach could be guarded and anyone coming could be seen for many miles. Why? Why attack here? Then a thought struck her like a hammer blow. The mountains!

T’yang left the meditation chamber with a swift stride, she had to speak to the Grand Mistress. She believed she knew how Udonis intended to fell the temple. He planned on creating a powerful earthquake and allow the mountains to destroy the temple and many of the monks for him.
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by Loki on Thu Jul 19, 2012 12:56 pm

By the time he stopped wandering, Loki found himself leaning against the western wall’s parapet looking out to the mountainous land beyond.  It was a truly magnificent view under the clear morning sky making it possible to see for miles and miles in the distance.  It was a sight that was not registering in his mind as his eyes were unfocused in thought.  So much has happened in the past few days that it was nearly overwhelming for him as he came to grips with his situation.  His body was a shell nearly twice the age of the mind residing within, save for several fragments of thoughts and memories that were not his own yet he couldn’t help but view them as such.  After several minutes of thought and reflection, Loki had made good progress in sorting out which were his and which were inherited when a matronly voice pulled him from his introspection.

”I was hoping I would find a few moments alone with you.”  Loki looked over his shoulder to find Adina standing next to him against the parapet, looking at him in profile.  ”A truly interesting case, yours is; I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anything like it before.  I can’t help but wonder if it was more than Essence that was transferred to you as a result of Tsume’s sacrifice.”  A knot formed in his throat at that memory that had only begun to heal.  Not only that, but among those fragmented memories were guarded secrets of the temple that no outsider could be permitted to know.  In response, he simply lowered his eyes to the stonework he was leaning against.  ”I can sense him within you.”  A bewildered expression flashed across Loki’s face as he turned an inquisitive glance towards the Grand mistress.  That caused a very faint curl to form at the corner of her mouth.  ”Not literally, that isn’t my ability.  No, it is more in the subtle mannerisms you carry yourself; though I suppose those are traits that have had nothing to do with what took place.”  It was a notion that made the man ponder about what other sort of ways the fragments of Tsume’s essence affect him.

“So.  What happens now?”

That question enticed a wary chuckle from Adina.  ”That’s quite the question to ask in a time like this.  For now we prepare for battle.  Only once the dust has settled will we see what remains and what can be salvaged, though I suspect the Temple of the Goddess will not survive this encounter…” A surge of adrenaline laced with dread raced up his spine hearing the Grand Mistress herself say those words.  Shock and surprise shown plainly on his face, his eyes wide as they met hers directly.

“You don’t think we could kill Udonis?”

It was a question that was initially met with a shrug before her pensive gaze returned to the horizon.  ”I did not say that, everybody within these walls have devoted their entire lives training for a moment such as this.  No, it isn’t about whether Udonis lives or dies, nor about who or how many within these walls lay down their lives for such a cause.  It is about the natural cycle of the planet’s Seed.  By stealing that away from Raewyn, the cycle has been disrupted and there is no telling what will happen should Udonis die.  It may return to its normal course… but then again it may not.  But whatever may come of it, we must stop him.  Everything on this planet at least has a chance with the unknown imbalance that may come considering the alternative is an immortal ‘God’ who is driven by his ambition.”

A long silence followed her words.  His attempt to isolate himself in order to sort out his own thoughts and relieve some of the intangible burden failed marvelously in the knowledge that victory may not be possible even if they managed to slay Udonis.  In an attempt to distract himself from those thoughts, Loki finally allowed himself to take in the magnificent sight before him.  “I suppose it is only fitting that the site that will decide the fate of Viemera would be so beautiful.  I can’t believe you can actually see the ocean from here.”

Immediately after speaking those words, Loki felt a tension in the air coming from Adina’s direction.  Glancing over to her, he had seen that every muscle in her body was taunt with dread; the color in her face has drained away as she focused on the faint sliver of water in the vast distance.  ”Zephyr, to me!”  Adina’s voice rang out with her authority and a few moments later a monk descended from the skies above landing on the siege wall next to her.

”Yes, Mistress Adina?”

”There!”  She said, pointing towards the perceived waterline.  ”Give me a far viewing of that horizon!”

At her command, the man extended his arms and Loki watched as the air directly before them began to bend the light and coalesce into some sort of magnification lens.  He was humbled by such a crafting, able to clearly see the waves of the distant ocean washing over tiny pebbles on the shoreline.  ”More!”  She demanded, and in response the far sight focused even more into the distance and what it revealed left Loki’s legs weak forcing him to hold on to the parapet for balance.  What he had initially believed to be pebbles on a sandy beach being washed over by a wave was an issue of scale.  The refined focus revealed that those tiny pebbles were actually buildings and the sand was vast stretches of forests and plains being swallowed by a tsunami of unimaginable size stretching from one end of the horizon to the other.

”Can you see Rurik from here?” 

”That city is around the limits of my abilities… and beyond that wall of water…  What could have caused that?”

Adina considered that for a moment before realizing what could cause such a massive displacement of water.  ”Fyr…  Udonis.  You monster… does your ambition know no limits?”

Loki couldn’t tear his gaze away from the terrifying sight before him as he watched the wall of water hungrily consume more land.  “Will that reach us here?”

”No.”  Adina replied certainly.  ”The mountains will break the wave’s momentum, but the western half of Viemera isn’t so lucky.  It may even reach the central portions of the continent before it finally subsides…”  For a moment his mind considered how many lives have perished already and how many could do little more than look on in helpless terror as death approached them.  Loki’s stomach wrenched and it was only by some small miracle that he managed to keep his food from spilling all over the stone battlements.

”Enough.”  Adina said in the same resolute and authoritative tone she had in addressing the courtyard before the monk released the crafting.  ”Inform the rest of the High Council of this.”  Without another word, the monk leapt off the battlements only to be caught mid-drop by a wind stream powerful enough to carry his weight allowing him to fly towards the monastery’s interior.  ”Loki, gather your friends and meet me in the meditation chamber in five minutes.”

He had been about to ask why, but the look in her eye suggested that it would be foolish to do anything other than what she commanded.  Without a second thought, he listened to his instincts and immediately set about gathering the others, telling them what had happened as they made their way to the meditation chamber together.
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by Silvan Arrow on Thu Jul 19, 2012 5:17 pm

As the minutes stretched on with no sign of Udonis, the eerie silence that surrounded the Temple grew more tense and palpable. From her vantage point on the roof, Eri tried meditation, deep breathing, and reviewing what she knew of Udonis’ minions to try and stave off the nerves. ‘See anything?’ she asked Arashi, even though she could see perfectly well through his borrowed eye.

Arashi showed no annoyance at the rhetorical question and simply answered, Nothing yet. The sun has yet to reach its zenith anyway.

Eri growled to herself and tapped her foot against the Temple roof uneasily. She checked her weapons belts, the fit of her armor, and the dagger sheaths in her boots for what felt like the thousandth time. Everything was in order, fit properly, and was within easy reach, just like every other time she had checked. She was just about to sit down and sublimate her mind in meditation when she felt a sudden wave of wariness through her Summon bond. ‘What’s wrong?’ she asked, her hand immediately reaching for her sword.

Arashi hovered in the air and looked from side to side nervously. I…don’t know. I see no foes approaching, but something in the air just feels…wrong. I can’t explain it, but every feather in my wings is screaming at me to seek higher ground.

‘Widen your search radius and circle the Temple again. Check the mountains carefully. Udonis may be planning something more than just an army assault,’ Eri ordered as she pondered Arashi’s words. While he was a Summon with the intelligence of a human, he also had an animal’s instincts. And if Eri had learned anything about animals over her few short years of traveling, it was that they often had a sixth sense when it came to disturbances in nature. If Arashi said something was wrong, then something was very, very wrong.

Eri’s blue eye flashed back to green as she allowed Arashi the use of both of his eyes and scanned her surroundings as best she could. The towering mountains that had previously made her feel sheltered now seemed too high and enclosing. She itched to take to the skies and row for height until she could see over them, but that would take too long, especially if the attack began while she was away and unable to help her companions. Arashi interrupted her troubled train of thought. Eri, I found Loki and the Grand Mistress on the western parapet. Before Eri could tell Arashi to return to his survey, his train of thought reached her. Why was the Grand Mistress with Loki instead of coordinating the defense efforts alongside her council members?

Eri borrowed one of Arashi’s eyes again, and she instantly got a view of Loki, Adina, and a third monk. ‘What is that?’ she asked, focusing on a glittering section of air that the third monk was somehow manipulating. She felt Arashi bank on his wing and circle lower so he could get a closer look while still remaining hidden. ‘Is that…water? The ocean?’ Arashi was still too far away to get an up-close look, but whatever it was clearly commanded the others’ attention completely.

Arashi’s vision flickered in and out, almost like static, as waves of emotions – dread, fear, and horror – swamped his senses and echoed through the bond to Eri. She staggered back from the force of the emotions, losing her link with his sight, and grasped the empty air for something to steady herself. ‘What in the name of the Goddess just happened?’ Before Arashi could offer an opinion, a familiar Essence aura and glimmer of wings heralded the approach of Loki. He landed gracefully on the roof beside her, despite being visibly shaken. “Loki, what’s wrong?” she asked, assuming it had something to do with what she and Arashi had seen.

What Loki told her, however, was far worse than anything she could have imagined.

The color drained from Eri’s face as Loki described the cataclysmic tsunami that Udonis had summoned, and she swayed unsteadily on her feet until she had to rely on her outspread wings to keep her upright. A similar sense of horror echoed through her bond with Arashi. She forced herself back to composure when Loki conveyed Adina’s orders to meet in the meditation chamber immediately. Now was not the time to shake in senseless fear. Even though the world was quickly falling to pieces around them, Loki at least needed to see that his teacher had not lost her wits.

“I last saw the others in the courtyard outside the armory, but some of them may have scattered around the Temple since then.” Eri clapped a steadying hand on Loki’s shoulder and added, “I’ll go on ahead to the meditation room and meet you and the others there.” That said, she ran to the edge of the roof and dove off headfirst, spreading her wings to catch the updraft and slow her descent. She called Arashi to her side and dismissed him before touching down in a less crowded section of the courtyard. She severed her Essence link with her wings, letting them evaporate in a cloud of black feathers, and took off sprinting for the meditation room while wordlessly dodging monks and various Temple workers.

Once inside the Temple, Eri slowed to a brisk walk to avoid rounding a corner too abruptly and crashing headfirst into one of the many monks crowding the hallways. As she navigated the maze of corridors, she passed two monks who were complaining loudly about one of the “newcomers” lighting a fire in one of their rooms. ‘Well that’s…random,’ she mused, raising an eyebrow at the odd comment. Then she rounded another corner and gave a silent start as she spotted Ekaj walking down the hall, his back to her. She thought about just ignoring him and letting Loki find him, but time was already of the essence.

Eri had to check herself before she accidentally called him Ekaj by mistake. “Jake,” she called, keeping her tone calm but authoritative. She waited for him to stop and glance back at her before approaching. “The Grand Mistress needs our group to meet her in the meditation chamber immediately.” Before he could respond or protest, she stepped closer – too close for her comfort – and dropped her tone to a hushed whisper so the passing monks could not overhear. “Udonis is making his move. He’s conjured up a tsunami of apocalyptic proportions, and it’s taking out half the western side of Viemera as we speak. Loki is rounding up the others, but that’s all I know for now.”

Eri started walking towards the meditation chamber again but did not check over her shoulder to see if Ekaj was following. Adina was the only other person in the room when Eri arrived. She spared a quick thought for Raewyn, whom she had not seen since interrogating Brycen, but figured it was probably best if she did not know that Udonis had abused her Goddess powers in this manner. “Grand Mistress,” she greeted with a bow and then took up a position near the room’s entrance to await the others.
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by Digital Muse on Sun Aug 05, 2012 9:14 pm

Raewyn came back to herself in a dim room and to the feel of a cool damp cloth pressed against her feverish forehead. The cot she laid on was narrow, but smelled clean “Momma?” She whispered hopefully. Her head hurt so bad, she was grateful that there was very little light.

A gentle hand touched her cheek and murmured reassuringly to her. “No child. You are still at the Temple of the Goddess, Raewyn. How do you feel?”

Raewyn looked at the elderly monk that sat beside her bed. Tears started involuntarily in Raewyn’s eyes and she tried to roll away from the monk. She felt horrible. Her head felt as if it would burst and worse than that, came the knowledge that she’d killed someone. Even if it was Brycen, that didn’t ease her guilt. She felt the monk’s hand on her hair, smoothing it.

“Tell me what bothers you. Perhaps I can help.” The old man said.

She couldn’t help it, Raewyn burst into inconsolable sobs that quickly became hiccups as she tried to hold them back and breathe at the same time. “I miss my Momma and Poppa. I wish I had never been the Goddess or heard of Udonis.” She felt like a baby, but she didn’t care at the moment.

The old monk simply stroked her hair and listened to her, “I imagine it can feel very overwhelming for you. We had hoped you could live here in peace and train in your powers free of fear. But it is rare that we get what we wish for. The best we can do is take what we are given and do the best we can.” He paused and rested his gnarled hand on the crown of her head. “But remember, you are not alone in this. You have extraordinary friends who are willing to fight and die for you, Goddess or no. It is a rare gift.”

Raewyn rolled back to look into the serene face of the old monk angrily. “I don’t want any more death! I’m sick of being afraid of wondering who will die next. I can’t do it anymore.” She covered her face with her hands, “I don’t want to kill anyone else.”

The old monk nodded sagely, “Who have you killed child?” He asked gently.

In a tiny voice, Raewyn whimpered, “The Mage. Brycen. I…I hurt him trying to make him tell me what the Grand Mistress wanted to know. It hurt…it hurt so much.” She cried.

The old monk nodded, “It was a very hard thing that you did. But you may have save countless lives here at the Temple. We can prepare for what is to come.” He turned and refreshed the cloth in a basin of cool water. Wringing it out, he put it into Raewyn’s hand after gently pulling it away from her face. “But you should know that you did not kill the Mage. He is alive.”

Raewyn jerked up from the cot so suddenly it made the room spin crazily. The old man reached out to steady her. “Take a minute, young Goddess. Your own mind is still recovering from the extreme exertion you went through. You were lucky. I imagine you’ve never done anything like that before. Am I right?”

Raewyn leaned into the steadying hand gratefully and nodded her head to his assumption. “No, never. I…I tried to make Loki fall asleep once.” How long ago that seemed now. How foolish and naïve she had been.

The monk nodded, “I thought so.” He said gently. “You are remarkably powerful. But without training, you may well hurt yourself. Or someone else. You have to be very careful.”

Raewyn nodded.

“You should join your friends. There is much happening you need to be aware of. We are preparing for the attack on the Temple and you should be with your friends.” A steadying hand helped Raewyn rise from the cot. “I do not know if you have had any martial training, but everyone has been given access to the weapons rooms. I might suggest at least some protection. Once you are done, the Grand Mistress wishes all of you to meet in the Meditation room.” He looked at her with deep concern, “Do you feel strong enough?”

Raewyn nodded, even though she wasn’t at all sure that she felt strong enough to do anything at all. She allowed the old man to lead her back through the sedate and dim halls of the Temple towards the armory. He left her there with a gentle word of encouragement.

Raewyn stared in hesitation at the rows upon rows of pole weapons, swords, bows with arrows, axes, maces and most of them Raewyn didn’t even know the name of. What was she doing here? She couldn’t even lift a sword, let alone use one. She wandered aimlessly along the aisles only half-registering what she saw there. In the second room, she was faced with shields of every shape and size. Armor, both in shining plate and hardened leather lined both walls. Raewyn simply looked bewildered. At the back of the room, another doorway lead to a room that smelled of leather, coal and flickered with the light of a fire. The clanging of a hammer against an anvil drew Raewyn further into the room. She saw several Monks working with intense focus on swords, one shaped helms and yet another fletched arrows.

Raewyn began to back out of the room, not wanting to disturb the monks at their work when the woman fletching arrows caught the movement out of the corner of her eye. She rose with a strong fluid movement and approached Raewyn, “Hello, Goddess. Are you feeling better?”

The woman was rather intimidating in the same way T’yang was. This woman was a warrior. She was confident and strong. Raewyn found herself stammering up at the woman. “I...I…um…thought I should have some armor maybe?” She glanced toward the table with very sort of sword or knife anyone could imagine rested neatly in rows.

The woman looked down at Raewyn with an appraising stare. “You haven’t fought before, have you?” She didn’t even wait for an answer, but turned instead toward the armor. “I think the lamellar armor would work well to deflect most missiles and dagger thrusts.” She pick a set of armor from a stand and had Raewyn try it on. Surprisingly it fit fairly well. A few snips of cutters and the two lower layers dropped away on the tunic. A leather sword belt pulled tight around her waist made the fit even better. The fletcher added some mail gauntlets and a simple pair of long, thin stilettos. The armorer stood back and tapped her chin as she examined the effect. After a little thought a mail coif was also added to the ensemble. “So you can see the greatest field of vision.”

Raewyn looked down at herself and felt rather foolish. She wasn’t a warrior. Not like the others, she had to remember that the armor and thin, deadly knives were for self-defense only. She couldn’t allow herself to do anything stupid. With that vow fresh in her mind, the former Goddess turned and walked the long distance back to the Meditation room. She hoped no one laughed at her.
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by Guilty Carrion on Sat Aug 18, 2012 3:44 pm

The room boomed with the echoing call of the gong, and Tal half turned his body towards the ‘source’ of the sound. As the few monks around them stirred and moved with a purpose, one paused to inform them of the meaning, and one by one, the group filtered out of the room, Tal steadily bringing up the rear with Darren lumbering in tow. For a brief moment, he looked back down the hall, mind wondering and worrying about Raewyn. Shaking his head, the vagabond hurried after the group, knowing the monks would take good care of the young girl.

As they filed out into the courtyard, flanked by dozens, if not hundreds of monks of all shapes and sizes, Tal couldn’t help but smile at the sight of so many. Tsume had been a vicious fighter, one of the best Tal had ever met. With an entire army of warriors skilled as him at their backs, it made Udonis’s plan seem a little on the stupid side. Adina and her council were a sight to behold in their armour, but the sight didn’t seem to motivate the monks in the slightest. He’d know they were a quiet bunch, but what was the point of speech when they seemed completely unconcerned with the grim serious of their council?

Or was he reading them wrong? Tal rubbed his chin, scratching at his beard as he gave the monks closest to him a once over. They didn’t look afraid. Hell, they looked like this was just something they’d have to deal with on any odd day. It was…unsettling, yet reassuring how calm they all were for the duration of the speech.

After Adina finished, the monks dispersed, and the air began to fill with the stoking of forges and the dance of ash on the wind. Before the group could even wonder their role in the preparation, a monk approached, informing them of unrestricted access to the armoury. Once inside, the others quickly dispersed into the sections without delay, and Tal found himself standing alone at the entrance. His eyes flicked over the countless racks in mild confusion, taking a slow uncertain step towards the armours.

He’d never really been a fighter, it wasn’t hard to tell. Most conflicts he tried to settle with a laugh and conversation, but this journey had been lacking in those types of fights, and the one to come was no different. With that thought in mind, he hesitantly walked towards one of the smiths, who glanced up as Tal approached. “Yes?”

The vagabond fumbled with his words for a moment. “Hullo, I know yer busy, but I…” The smith cracked a smile, and Tal suddenly felt a stupid for being concerned over this. “I’m rather new to ‘proper’ combat. Think you can help me out?”

“Of course.” The smith set aside his work, motioning for Tal to follow as he walked into the shelves of armour. “You’re a melee fighter?” Tal nodded, as they stepped into the section of heavier armours. The smith moved through the shelves for a few moments, pausing to hold up a piece of armour towards Tal before moving along. After a few short moments, he came to a stop in front of a shelf, nodding to himself. “I suspect this will suit your needs.”

He held up the chest plate, a striking white metal trimmed in black that looked large enough to actually cover the vagabond’s broad chest. “You’ll wear a chain-mail shirt underneath, and we’ll secure the spare sleeve around your shoulder for a little extra protection on your exposed flank.” Tal nodded, and the smith stepped aside to allow the larger man to begin equipping himself.

The process was slow, particularly with only one arm, and more than once the smith stepped in to help, but once it was done, Tal took a moment to examine himself. The armour fit him well, like a glove, no doubt thanks to the smith’s keen eyes, and barely any skin was left exposed under its protective embrace. It was devoid of markings, but the striking white against the simple black trim gave even a friendly man like Tal an imposing presence that made him seem larger than his already large frame. The few areas not covered by the protective plate were covered by the protective touch of chain-mail, and those who didn’t know him might actually think mistake him for a man who wore this regularly.

Flexing his hand, Tal examined the thick gauntlet that covered his forearm, rolling a fist several times to grow accustomed to the leather gloves beneath the metal. The smith appeared in his peripheries, and he turned to look at the man, who stepped forward with what looked like a long white cape. Sensing Tal’s confusion, the monk turned the cape over, revealing the chain mail attached beneath the fabric. “It’s not going to hold forever, but it should protect against any unexpected flanking.” He stepped closer, taking a few moments to secure it the left pauldron, before stepping back. “I think you are ready for battle. Do you want a helmet?”

“I have a summon, I should be alright.”

As if to confirm it, he called on his helmet briefly, and the monk nodded in understanding. “Very well. Best of luck to you.” Tal bowed in gratitude, and the man returned to his work. Turning towards the weapons, Tal wasted little time making a beeline towards the hammers. He lacked the training the others had, but there was one thing he understood full well. You swing it hard enough; the hammer will hurt anyone it hits.

The selection was broad, overwhelming with sheer number of choices. “…I always thought a hammer was a hammer.” Perusing the racks, Tal soon stumbled upon a simple, yet hefty hammer, its handle bound in leather and its head a simple slab of polished metal. Testing the weight, Tal grinned as he swung it experimentally, almost knocking over one of the weapon racks. “Perfect.” He tucked it into the small loop attached to the tasset of his armour, and turned to leave, before his eyes caught sight of a small knife.

Touching his chin for a moment, Tal gave the thick tangle of his beard a tug, before taking the small knife up. “Can’t have you getting in my way, I’m afraid.” While it was a difficult thing to manage with a single hand at first, before long, Tal found the ease and rhythm he’d grown accustomed to from a life time of trying to manage his unruly facial hair. It fell in clumps, and once done, Tal gave his face an appreciative rub, unable to feel the thin stubble left behind. Satisfied, he headed outside to join the others.

Who promptly scattered on the four winds in every which direction. He didn’t even get a word in, left standing awkwardly outside the armoury by himself. “…alright. See you all later.” He muttered, glancing out into the courtyard where Darren sat motionless. Napping?

Enjoying the sunrise. Tal glanced to the east, watching the sun slowly begin to peer above the horizon. In a few mere hours, we march to what could be only describe as war… The summon’s words were sad, almost mournful. Who’s to say if we shall see another? Darren stretched out, a low snort his only outward sign of consciousness. So, I think I should enjoy this one to the fullest.

The pair was silent for a moment, the weight of what was to come settling quietly on their shoulders. After a few minutes, Tal nodded, face suddenly resolute. “You’re right. This just might be it.” He turned on his heel without another word, disappearing into the temple with the echoing clangs of his armoured figure. From his resting place, Darren’s peaceful face turned into what one could only call a smile.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It had taken longer than he liked, but fifteen minutes later, Tal pushed through the great doors of the Temple’s library, eyes flicking about the deathly still room for any sign of life. The room was massive, far larger than any other he’d ever visited, but it was only to be expected that the temple hold so much within its walls. It was a safe haven from the turbulence of the world.

Save for today. It wasn’t surprising that he found no one amongst the shelves. This wasn’t the time for quiet reading, or peaceful study, not when everything seemed to hang in the balance.

And yet, amongst the musty tomes, Tal felt a strange sense of peace, slow measured steps guiding him past countless texts, each unique yet all cared for with the same dedication you could only expect from monks. For a moment, he considered pausing to read some of the stories within, but his own thoughts gave no solace. He had come here with purpose.

Leaving the shelves, the bearded man lumbered over to a small empty counter, likely where the keeper would reside any other day. Stepping around it, Tal managed a crouch in his restricting armour, opening the small cupboards hidden beneath the counter. A few minutes of searching bore fruit, as he pulled a small stack of unmarked papers from within. Rising, he snatched the rather well worn charcoal from the counter, and crossed the silent room to one of countless tables spanning the center of the library. It took a few minutes of searching, but eventually, he found a chair that seemed sturdy enough to support his bulk, and lowered awkwardly onto it. It groaned for a moment, before quieting.

Setting the stack before him, Tal fidgeted in his seat for a moment, before his eyes settled onto the charcoal. He sat in silence like that for what felt like a century, the utter stillness of the room around him creating a feeling of…peace he hadn’t known since this whole journey had began. But the others and Tsume…they had been caught in this well before he was even aware a new goddess had been found. This journey had been theirs for much longer…

Slowly, he lifted the charcoal, before pressing it gently to the page. It was a slow process, particularly at first, trying to quiet a thousand other thoughts so one could focus solely on the memories Tsume had shared by the fire that night he’d first found them all. Speed wasn’t of importance, it was the detail. Of a lifetime of stories, both small and grand, the vagabond had little doubt that this one would be the most important. Sitting in the still library, motes of dust circling in his vision, Tal’s hand moved steadily.

How long he sat, he didn’t know, but the vagabond practically leapt from his seat when the door bucked in roughly and Loki stepped inside for a moment. He blinked once at the man, who quickly explained everything he had seen on the parapets with Adina. Nothing more needed to be said, Tal nodding quickly in affirmative as Loki started out the door. Glancing down at the scant few pages he’d filled with the charcoal scribbling, he grit his teeth. Tucking the wad of papers in-between the papers of a large tome, Tal hurried out the door, pausing only once to glance back towards the shelves.

“I’m gonna need to finish that at some point.” He mused, before his link with Darren snapped to the forefront of his mind. “You got all that, aye?” The link felt strong again, not the diminished weakness that had unified them since the leyline. There was a rumbling of agreement, and it wasn’t difficult to sense the rhino’s anger at what had been shared. “Udonis has a lot to answer for.” They needed no more words, Tal moving as quickly as the armour would allow towards the meeting room.

Along the way, he stumbled across the marching form of Raewyn, clad in a small set of armour and he hurried up beside her. “Onward we go, little miss!” He grinned at her, hoping that she hadn’t heard the news of the tsunami yet. “After all, the troops will need you leading the charge into battle!”

The two walked side by side, Tal‘s long strides slowed to match her small ones. When they arrived, most everyone was already there, and Tal’s smile fell from his face. “Sorry to keep you all waiting.”
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by Loki on Mon Sep 17, 2012 11:52 am

Only moments after Tal entered the meditation chamber did the sound of several hastily striding feet follow in his wake heralding the return of Adina with a small retinue consisting of a half dozen monks and two of the ornately armored men who stood on the podium when Adina made her call to arms. Her determined eyes flicked over the group ensuring they were all there.

“You’ve taken my offering of the temple’s armory. Good. At the point every moment is precious so I will make this as concise as possible. No doubt Loki has told you about the colossal Tsunami approaching from the west. While you may have guessed it is a result of Udonis’ use of the Goddess’ power, you may not perceive in what manner. Even at full strength a Goddess couldn’t move such a vast amount of water at once; much of the effort spent into moving liquids or gasses is wasted since they deform and displace as a result of the applied force. No, that wave is a byproduct that only could have been created by Udonis raising the continent of Fyr back from the waters that swallowed it centuries ago. Though his forces are coming to attack the Temple, evidence suggests he and a small team of his Magi are on Fyr itself. He would have had to have been on the continent itself in order to move it as much as he did in such a short amount of time and unless he has another capable of teleportation among his group, he is likely still there. More importantly though, he would have spent most of the energy he had gained as well as stolen from Loki in order to do so. As Tsume’s sacrifice had revealed to us, Udonis has the ability to regenerate his injuries almost instantaneously. This ability, just like any other Saturate, is limited by the user’s supply of Essence. Thus, we have been granted a small window of opportunity where he is at his weakest; a chance to inflict enough harm to him in order to overwhelm whatever reserves he has left so we can slay him and attempt to restore order and balance to the world.”

The grand mistress paused for a moment to give them a chance to absorb all that information.

“Udonis has proved his ability at deception and we cannot give up the Temple for the sake of an educated guess as likely as it may be. It would be difficult enough to stop a rogue Goddess… or God in this case, but giving them the strategic defenses the Temple has to offer as well as the secrets within would make defeating them impossible. That is why I am dedicating a small team of the Temple’s most capable combat Saturates to go along with you to Fyr. Your mission is to confirm whether or not Udonis is there. If he is, you are to do everything within your power to slay him or otherwise prevent him from escaping while one of you returns with his location so we can send reinforcements to your aid. It isn’t enough to encounter his elite Magi; they too could be a red herring intended to turn our back so Udonis could deliver the killing blow. The Heretic God is our utmost priority and until we know his exact location we must assume he could be attacking from any direction regardless of his weakened state.”

Adina looked over her shoulder to the man on her left who was obviously of the elder council. Nearly every inch of his body was adorned in layers of thick studded leather armor sections that provided abundant protection while doing all it could to allow freedom of movement. His helmet was just as ornate as the rest of his lorica that included a plated mask covering everything aside from his eyes. He was armed with a short sort sheathed at his hip, but more noticeably was the Jūmonji yari he held at the ready. “Borri” she then she looked over her opposing shoulder at the other man of leaner build and in less encumbering scale mail with plated boots and gauntlets. The only thing resembling a weapon upon his person was a long heavy chain with weights linked at either end coiling around his arms and over his shoulders like some sort of boa that was capable of dealing tremendous damage to those who called it a fashion accessory assuming the wielder knew how to use it. Given the apparent familiarity and casual grace with which he wore the heavy links of metal, it was very much the case. “and Lucient will be escorting you, but you should know that their main objective is upon finding Udonis as hastily as possible so will be of little assistance in fighting through any conflict that isn’t directly between themselves and the target. It is up to you to protect their backs and make sure no Magi is able to assault their flanks should they engage the Heretic God.”

Another set of faint footfalls resonated from the hallway along with a faint scraping sound of something being dragged along the stone floor closer to the meditation chamber. Meanwhile Adina’s eyes locked on Raewyn, taking in her armaments. “I assume you have no intention of remaining behind while your friends go on this mission? It’s just as well; I don’t imagine the Temple will be much more hospitable once the battle starts. More importantly, however, I want you to be near Udonis when he does breathe his final breath. There is no telling what will happen to the mantel of the Goddess when he does die since such a thing is entirely unprecedented, but if there is even the slightest chance it will return to its original bearer I don’t want it to be circumvented by distance. So if the mission determines Udonis isn’t there, it is absolutely vital that you get back here as soon as possible in case he is leading the assault upon the Temple.”

Just as she was finished speaking, the source of the footfalls revealed themselves as a pair of monks dragging the limp form of a semi-conscious Brycen who was bound at the wrists and ankles by heavy wooden manacles that kept his limbs from being able to move independently from one another hindering mobility entirely. The captured Magi was placed on his knees directly in front of Adina, his body limp and largely remained relatively upright because of the positioning he was left in. ”I will open the way for you.” The grand mistress said as she drew the athame that rested at her hip, and crouched down behind the young man. Brycen winced and let out a weak squeal of pain from whatever was done to him and when Adina stood up once more the dagger was covered in a layer of blood. Then she gripped the bloodied blade of the weapon in her free hand and drew its edge along her palm, her head lowered and expression distant with focus. After a few seconds, she lifted the dagger, slashed it at the air, and cut a seam in reality directly before her revealing the weathered remains of a large stone memorial. Extending her bloodied palm towards the rift, Adina willed the portal to open wider into a doorway able to accommodate two people side-by-side comfortably. ”There.” She said, pulling out of her trance though her voice still sounded somewhat distracted. ”I will coordinate the Temple’s defenses from here while holding the rift open for you to return. Now go, there is no time to waste.” Without hesitation the monks and elder council snapped into motion, four monks taking point followed by the council elders leaving two monks to take rear guard once the outsiders made their way through.
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by Digital Muse on Sat Sep 29, 2012 7:16 pm

The two Elder Council members that the Grand Mistress introduced to them were familiar faces to T’yang, although she had not met them personally. Both looked uncommonly capable. But, then they would be to be chosen to lead such a critical mission. Adina’s instructions that their job was to keep the two warriors free of interference so they could engage and destroy Udonis seemed so simple, but T’yang knew from experience that Udonis would never leave anything to chance. The Magi would know they were coming and they had chosen the field of battle. Ordinarily, it was not a situation T’yang would ever walk into. It was simple suicide and T’yang had always been focused on her own survival. Until now. She thought as her eyes fell on Raewyn who was trying very hard to look brave.

T’yang watched Adina mix her own blood with that of Brycen and open a portal to the continent where Udonis was believed to be with his Magi. She hadn’t been aware the Grand Mistress capable of such a thing. It made Adina’s ability far too reminiscent to that of Udonis’ for T’yang’s comfort. T’yang tied her helmet onto her head, explaining to the Grand Mistress her theory that Udonis might use the unstable ground and natural earthquakes to destroy the Temple.

That information shared, T’yang looked toward Raewyn’s companions, “Very well. Udonis has much to answer for. Let us ensure he feels our revenge.” After meeting them each in the eye, T’yang nodded sharply and turned to follow the two members of the Council through the portal. During the last few hours, she had come to terms with the fact that she was unlikely to survive the coming battle. But, she would ensure that Raewyn survived to see her family again at all costs. Beyond that, any Magi that the shadow manipulator came into contact with would be dealt with in the most vicious ways she knew.

Stepping through the portal left almost no disorientation this time, T’yang was glad to see. She drew a fan from her sash and snapped it open to prepare to defend the Council members and the rest of the group should a trap be laid for them so soon. Borri and Lucient, spread out to ensure they did not make themselves too easy a target. Like T’yang, they took up defensive positions to ensure everyone got through the portal unhindered. Once everyone made it through, T’yang moved to Raewyn’s side and glanced down to the girl. “Raewyn, no matter what happens or what you think you see, stay beside me. I will protect you.”

Raewyn glanced up at the dark-haired woman with some trepidation.

T’yang nodded solemnly, “You can do this, Maeve is sadistic, but she is overconfident. Just remember, you defeated her before. You can do it again.” By the way Raewyn bit her lower lip, T’yang wasn’t entirely sure if the goddess believed her or not. But she could do no more than that.

Everyone came through and formed up. It was obvious everyone was aware of the implications of the battle they were about to walk into. Even the ever-flippant Jake was strangely silent. T’yang turned back to the two members of the Elder Council, “Do we know where to begin looking? The continent is not so small that we can afford to waste time searching it.”
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by Silvan Arrow on Wed Oct 03, 2012 5:44 pm

Eri watched her comrades gather in the meditation room from her vantage point near the door. Raewyn and Tal were among the last to arrive, and then Eri got a good look at everyone in full battle array. New weapons and sets of armor had transformed the group from a ragtag group of Saturates thrown together by chance into the appearance of an elite warrior squad. She, Loki, and T’yang had opted for lightweight leather armor, while Ekaj and Tal looked impressively lethal in their heavy steel armor. Despite their similar choices, they looked as different as night and day. Tal’s striking white armor gave him the look and feel of a paladin, while Ekaj’s darker armor only intensified the shadowy aura she could sense around his personality.

Even young Raewyn had left nothing to chance and had donned her first set of armor and weapons. The stiletto daggers probably wouldn’t do much in prolonged melee combat, but she might gain the element of surprise. After all, a slender blade could slip between armor plates and ribs and kill just as effectively as hacking off a limb or head. Eri could tell from Raewyn’s expression that she felt unsure and awkward standing in armor like a warrior, so she moved to stand next to her and rested a hand on her shoulder, giving her an encouraging nod.

Adina wasted no time in beginning her briefing. In a nutshell, Udonis had raised the sunken continent of Fyr, thus causing the tsunami, and he and his Magi were most likely on Fyr while he regained his strength from using so much Essence. Eri looked around at her comrades and the monks assigned to them, including Borri and Lucient. They were all armed to the teeth and carried themselves with quiet battle confidence, so why did Eri still feel that they were walking into a trap or death sentence?

‘Oh right. Because we probably are,’ she thought sarcastically. Nevertheless, she wasn’t about to quit now.

After Adina used Brycen’s blood to open a portal, which reminded Eri eerily of Udonis’ abilities, T’yang addressed the group. “Very well. Udonis has much to answer for. Let us ensure he feels our revenge.” The former monk had really impressed Eri in the short time since Tsume’s death. She could never replace Tsume, but she had stepped up to lead in her own unique way. Eri returned T’yang’s gaze with an affirmative nod, indicating that she would follow her lead. She entered the portal behind T’yang and Raewyn and thankfully only had a momentary sensation of dizziness when she exited on the other side. She spread out along with the monks and kept watch while the others made it through the portal, keeping one eye on Raewyn and the other on Loki. She overheard T’yang promising to protect Raewyn and felt a slight sense of relief. With T’yang as a dedicated guard, Eri would have more freedom to maneuver and fight any Magi that appeared. She moved closer to Loki and summoned Gale Cleaver. Given the way recent casualties had reconfigured the group, her student was the best choice to watch her back, and vice versa.

Eri felt Arashi probe her mind curiously. She knew without words what he was asking, but she decided against summoning him preemptively. ‘Let’s keep surprise on our side if we can.’ If they encountered new Magi, she could trick them into thinking she was a User and then summon Arashi as her trump card. And if the Magi knew her already, they could think he had been incapacitated in an earlier battle. She felt Arashi’s assent and turned her attention back to the others.

“Do we know where to begin looking?” T’yang asked Borri and Lucient. “The continent is not so small that we can afford to waste time searching it.”

“I can send Arashi to scout if necessary,” Eri added, though she secretly hoped the monks had a better idea so she could keep her trump card a secret from the enemy. She constantly glanced from side to side, one hand gripping her sword and the other tingling with Essence. It was far too quiet. She knew a battle was inevitable, and she would rather go ahead and get it started instead of drawing out the suspense.

‘Come on, Udonis. Stop being a coward and show yourself.’ Her features hardened in anger, and she tightened her grip on her sword hilt. ‘You will pay for what you’ve done to us.’
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

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