Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by Silvan Arrow on Fri Jun 06, 2014 4:38 pm

“I still can’t believe you’re here, sweetheart,” a women wearing a kitchen apron stated, as though still in disbelief. Vera’s bright red hair, carefully woven into a plait that reached to her mid-back, was just starting to streak with silver. She stooped to remove a baking dish from the oven, and the scent of fresh meats, vegetables, and spices wafted pleasantly into the cozy, tidy dining area. “It’s been, what, four years?”

“Five, actually,” her husband corrected gently. Anton’s dark brown hair had also gone salt-and-pepper, but he still had a powerful blacksmith’s build, and his clean-shaven face was thoroughly tanned and marked with laugh lines. His eyes twinkled with amusement as he added, “Well, five as of today.”

Eri blushed and gave an easy smile as she put the last plates and silverware on the table, feeling far more relaxed than she had in ages. “I couldn’t resist making a quick fly-by for my birthday. Mom’s cooking is the best.” She wrapped her arms around her father’s shoulders and gave a quick squeeze before sinking into the chair beside her guest.

“And yet after all these years you never brought anyone home until now,” her mother teased with a knowing glance at the brown-haired young man beside Eri. “He’s quite the handsome fellow!”

“M-Mom!” Eri sputtered, her cheeks turning scarlet. She turned her head and glared at the sound of barely suppressed chuckles. “Not you too, Jake.”

Eri...

Eri’s vision dimmed slightly, and the ambient sounds of conversation faded for a few seconds before everything returned to normal and her father asked, “So tell me, Eri, how have you and Arashi been faring?”

Eri, please...

Eri shook her head against the sudden throbbing behind her eyes as her senses tuned out yet again. “I’m sorry, what was that?” she asked, but her voice sounded like it was in a tunnel.

ERI!!!!

All at once the vision of the kitchen, her parents, and Jake shattered, and Eri screamed as the sudden sensation of free-fall jerked her heart up into her throat. Her fall stopped almost as soon as it had begun, leaving her floating upright in a cool, cloying veil of shadows. Everything was dark, except for the familiar white eagle hovering nearby.

“Arashi, what’s...”

You were dreaming, Eri. You still are, actually, but there’s no time.

“What do you mean?”

Udonis is dead. The instant thrill that Eri felt quickly faded as Arashi continued. I can’t explain it, but the Essence is...vanishing. Not just his Essence, but...everywhere.

A grip like a cold fist clenched Eri’s stomach, and her heart stuttered in place. “Arashi,” she tried to keep her voice steady, “what are you saying?”

A mix of pain and sorrow warred in the eagle’s expressive blue eyes. I’m so sorry, Eri, but I don’t have much time. As if on cue, his body began to dissolve into tiny motes of white light, beginning at his feet and working up his body at an alarming rate. At the same time, an odd, shrilling sound played at the back of her mind, seemingly coming from everywhere at once and eliciting a feeling of dread and disharmony.

“N-NO!” Eri cried and began running forward, but her legs felt like they were plowing through mud as she fought to cross the few feet separating her from her beloved Summon. “You can’t leave me!”

Eri, my body may vanish, but I will never leave you, Arashi vowed as his Summoner fought through the shadows and managed to cradle his face just as his body up to his shoulders dissolved. I always have and always will be here for you...

At that statement, a sudden burst of sound threatened to split Eri’s skull in pain, and what was left of Arashi simply...vanished.

Cold...

So cold...

The shadows intensified around Eri’s body as an icy chill settled over the place in her heart and mind that Arashi had always occupied. “N-no...” she croaked weakly, dropping to her knees. She wrapped both arms tightly around her stomach as though trying to hold herself together. Without Arashi as her anchor, she felt as though her mind would fly apart at any second.

“No...no...no...”

Eri couldn’t breathe, couldn’t see, couldn’t comprehend anything but the intolerable feeling of emptiness.

All she could do was scream...

Eri’s eyes flew open, and she jerked awake in a screaming convulsion that made her back arch at a dangerous angle off the floor and the muscles along her spine spasm in a terrible string of cramps. Still screaming, she curled in on herself instinctively to protect her back, but it only made the muscles stretch and nearly tear in protest until tears poured down her eyes. She hyperventilated as she gasped for breath and very nearly blacked out again, clutching at her chest and the cold, stony fist that had settled over her heart.

Her pupils were dilated and unfocused, seeing but not comprehending, and she was practically mindless with panic. “Where?! What?! Where...am I?” Her hands fisted over her clothing, her head, anything solid she could find...

...and touched something warm and sticky.

Almost instantly Eri stilled, lying on her side in the fetal position as she brought her hand closer to see thick red blood dripping from her fingertips. Then her eyes focused on something lying nearby, a blood-soaked body with shockingly familiar brown hair. She gasped and backpedaled, lurching to her hands and knees while staring at the blood on her hands. Memories started coming back, a trickle at first, until they nearly drowned her all at once.

“Oh Goddess...” Eri whimpered. “Oh Goddess it...wasn’t a dream...”

She saw the pillars of ice ripping through flesh and bone, the blood spilling out on the ground, and the small, sad smile in her mind’s eye as one hand gripped at the insistent sense of cold in her chest.

Jake was dead...

That meant the scene in the kitchen with her parents had been a dream...

And Arashi...

Arashi was gone.

Just...gone.

Eri’s eyes remained fixed on Jake’s body, her body kneeling in a growing pool of his blood, her senses completely unaware of anyone or anything around her. Slowly, ever so slowly, she crawled forward, still clutching at her chest with one hand, until she could reach out with one hand and touch his hair. For several long seconds, she simply ran her fingers through his hair and brushed it back from his face so she could see his eyes, closed as though lost in sleep. Without even thinking about it, she whispered his name under her breath like a mantra over and over until she found herself slumped lifelessly over his body while her body heaved and shook with silent sobs.

“You...idiot!” she wheezed between sobs as tears streaked down her face. “You promised...! I promised...! You...you...” Then she was lost to her broken weeping, cradling Jake’s head on her lap and her grief redoubling as the fresh reality of Arashi’s absence reminded her of the iciness in her chest. “You promised...you wouldn’t leave me!” she cried, mourning the loss of her closest companion and the first man she loved. She couldn’t tell which one hurt more.

Eri jerked instinctively as a hand rested tentatively on her shoulder, and she was dimly aware of another figure kneeling beside her. A warm set of arms wrapped around her and pulled her firmly against a solid, muscular chest. She stiffened in confused fright until the person holding her murmured her name, and a fresh wave of tears poured down her cheeks as she recognized his voice. “L-Loki...” He had survived. Eri couldn’t recall who else was here, but at least she knew Loki. Her hands fisted against his shirt, clinging tightly, as Loki cradled her head against his shoulder and let her cry.

Eri didn’t know how long she sat there, locked in her sobs, but she finally quieted to a series of soft whimpers. She felt Loki shift slightly as he turned his head to look at her questioningly, but her gaze was eerily blank. “Bury...must bury him...” she stated in a soft monotone.

“Have to...bury...” Eri’s mind was a swirling mess of disjointed thoughts. Throwing open the link between her mind and Arashi’s in the last battle with no prior training had damaged something. Combined with the sudden loss of her Summon, she was lost in mental shock. It was as though her mind had tunnel vision, unable to register anything except her immediate surroundings and the most pressing thoughts.

When Eri would have stumbled over to Jake’s body, Loki’s arms tightened gently and held her in place. “Loki...?” she asked, her voice slurring slightly as her body caught up with the physical shock she had sustained in addition to the mental and emotional. “Where...am I?”

She slumped against him, conscious but unaware. She was simply...empty.
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by Digital Muse on Sat Jul 05, 2014 6:38 pm

The final blow that sent the stiletto driving down through Udonis’ skull left the heretic god a quivering shell. Loki released his hold on the body and it collapsed, boneless, onto the ruined marble floor. Even in death, the man’s lips were curved in a superior sneer. Raewyn took several steps back with her heart hammering and her stomach threatening to eject its contents. She glanced toward Loki, looking a question; “is it over?” It seemed so anti-climactic. Nothing had happened and she did not have her powers back.

And then as she watched, tiny motes of green light began to drift from Udonis’ fallen body. At first there were only a very few, but then more and more. After a few moments, black motes joined the green in a reverse cascade to escape the body. Was this what Adina thought Raewyn needed to be close for?  

She took a few shambling, exhausted steps closer to the spiraling motes, trying to get as close as she could. She needed to try to make it all right again. She needed to fix things. Raewyn closed her eyes and opened her arms wide, trying to embrace the power as it formed a dome of light and dark within the blasted room. The sounds, while pleasant at first had taken on a harsh, even painful sound. But still she didn’t move.

Loki’s sudden warning made Raewyn’s eyes snap open. “Raewyn, get away from there!” At her feet, a sudden surge of dark energy rippled outward from Udonis’ body and quickly over took everyone there. She felt dizzy and empty as it hit her and Raewyn watched in horror when Darren and Loki’s wings simply evaporated. What had happened? Something had gone horribly, horribly wrong. She couldn’t articulate it, but she knew instinctually that nothing would be the same ever again. She could feel the others in her head. She couldn’t hear their thoughts or emothions as she had before. Had Udonis won after all? Had he been right?

Tears started in her eyes…she’d just endured too much these last few months.  She was lost, her family was so far away and her friends were dead or severely injured. She knew they needed help but all she really wanted to do was just sit down and cry.
_____________________________________________________________________________

Only Loki’s interference saved T’yang at the last possible moment. She guessed the boy was draining Essence from Udonis as fast as the heretic god could recover it. She tried standing and found that her right shoulder was dislocated. She likely had other injuries, but the pain in her shoulder ensured she didn’t notice those as much. She managed to get to her feet and stood there swaying when she saw Tal finally lose control and literally beat Vox into an inky paste. The death of the Summon had the hoped for effect and the fireball Udonis had been holding to finish Loki simply winked out. Loki recovered quickly and broke Udonis’ knee with a hard kick and then, rising, the boy wrapped Udonis’ injured limb in his tendrils and began to drag him toward a weapon.

T’yang cast about for her war fans but found only one which had been crushed in the last blast from Udonis.  Not willing to waste any more time, T’yang headed towards Loki to make sure this opportunity to kill Udonis wasn’t missed. Each step was an agony of pain in her back and shoulder. The uneven ground made the going slow and ponderous.

Out of nowhere, Udonis blasted Loki with force meant to crush hum flat, but his hold on Udonis prevented him from being thrown across the room. T’yang saw his head bounce off the hard floor and feared the boy would be knocked unconscious. Udonis leered down at the Loki and to her surprise, Raewyn charged from her hiding place, leapt onto Udonis’ back and drove the vicious stilettos directly down through his shoulders. In a trick of her exhausted mind, all T’yang could think of was that had she angled the thrusts, Raewyn could have easily pierced Udonis’ heart and how T’yang would have to teach Raewyn the correct forms when they returned to the Temple.

Udonis thrashed this way and that trying to dislodge Raewyn, but the girl clung to him, her hands gripping his head. T’yang had to assume that she was invading the man’s mind. The former monk watched with some trepidation as Raewyn’s eyes ears and nose began to bleed from the effort of whatever she was doing to the heretic god. Finally, Udonis was able to reach back and grab a fistful of Raewyn’s coat. He grunted and flung the girl several yards away where she landed among the rough and broken stone of the ruined dais with a cry of pain.

Udonis reached up and in a feat of pure will, pulled the stilettos from his own body, approaching Raewyn so that he could end her. ”You little bitch!  I am sick of these games and am going to end this!”

T’yang was still so unsteady on her feet and had so much debris around her, she knew instantly she could never get to the dais on time. “Udonis!” She screamed. Her cry fell on deaf ears. However, Raewyn’s scream of pain roused the rattled Loki, who once more wrapped Udonis in the tendrils of his wings. He jerked Udonis’s feet from underneath him. “I don’t know what will happen to the Goddess ability when he dies, but I think the best opportunity we have to set things right is for you to be the one to deliver the final blow.” Loki told Raewyn.

T’yang couldn’t say for sure if Loki was right or not. But she never believed Raewyn would be capable of an execution. No matter what the circumstances might be. The girl, though ashen, surprised her. A mighty, anger-filled downward blow drove the stiletto through Udonis’ skull while Loki held the man still. T’yang had managed to get within 50 feet of the dais by the time Loki dropped the quivering body to the ground. T’yang waited. She expected a reaction from Raewyn for certain, possibly from Loki as well. Though his body had changed, he was still a boy after all. Before that could happen, Udonis’ body began releasing sparkling faerie lights that sang sweetly to the room. The goddess powers! T’yang thought. But the bright green lights were followed by dark non-lights and the two spiraled around one another. T’yang watched them and in her exhausted mind, she saw the philosophical expression of good and evil potential in the powers of the goddess.

Soon, however, the sound became harsh, discordant and created a screaming unease in her. Loki cried out for Raewyn to get away from the dais, but the warning came too late. A soundless rush of darkness sped from Udonis’ body and rolled over them all in an unrelenting tide. T’yang was driven to her knees when she felt her connection to the world and to Essence leave her. She felt as if she had been struck dumb, deaf and blind all at once. T’yang fell to her uninjured side, thoroughly disoriented and her hair covered her face unheeded. She fought not to be sick. It took all of her considerable will to keep a hold on herself.

After a few moments, she managed to prop herself up on her elbow to find the others. What has happened? She wondered. Her eyes shot to Eri who had wakened screaming. “Are we all affected?” She asked herself. To her relief, Loki recovered first and went to Eri to provide some measure of comfort. Something to do. They each needed to focus on something to do or they would go mad. Hitching herself to her feet, T’yang went to the dais to check on Raewyn. Her skin had an unhealthy pallor and her eyes were glassy.

“Raewyn.” T’yang spoke gently. “Are you injured?”

The girl turned her grime and blood-crusted visage toward the former monk and after considerable thought shook her head. “I…I don’t think so.” She hiccupped a small sob. “We lost.” She whimpered. “It didn’t work.”

T’yang smiled as reassuringly as she was able. “We did not lose, Raewyn. We still saved the world from the horrors Udonis would have inflicted upon it.”  T’yang turned her head to see how Tal was faring. “Now we have things to do. Tal is hurt. I think Eri might be too. Do you feel strong enough to go back to the ante-chambers to look for medical supplies, blankets, water and some food?”

Raewyn clearly didn’t like the idea of being separated from the rest of them at this point, but even she could see the need to find medical supplies. The girl rose painfully and after a glance toward Tal and then Loki with Eri, she nodded and began to pick her way through the debris toward the ante-chambers.

T’yang next approached Tal and Iraia. The big woman looked as if she were guarding the Vagabond. T’yang eyed her warily, but Iraia seemed disinterested in the former monk. Tal had taken a severe beating. And worse, T’yang suspected. “Tal.” T’yang murmured. “I sent Raewyn to gather some medical supplies. We’ll try to get your injuries tended to as soon as we are able.” She wasn’t entirely sure the big man heard her for all the reaction he gave. T’yang glanced up at Iraia momentarily, “Udonis is gone.” She stated unnecessarily. “We cannot return by the portal, I suspect. So we will rest here and find a way to travel back to Temple so we can learn what has happened.” He did little more than grunt his acknowledgment.

Finally, T’yang had to face Eri. Jake was dead, Arashi was gone, her abilities gone. No one knew if it was permanent or not. They had no idea how to get back, if they could at all, and there was no telling what had happened while they were here on the raised continent. As T’yang approached on soft feet, she heard Eri trying to make sense of it all. “Bury...must bury him...“Have to...bury...” It seemed to be a litany for the shattered Summoner. T’yang noted how tightly Eri’s fists gripped Loki’s shirt as she tried to move forward without actually seeing where she was going. Loki just stopped her from treading on Jake’s body.  It was all too much for the girl and she slumped against Loki in shock.

Raewyn chose then to return, staggering under an enormous weight of things. Obviously, she didn’t want to leave for a second trip. T’yang rose, and took a blanket from the pile to Tal. She looked a Iraia once more, “Could you help move Tal to be with us?” She pointed to here Eri and Loki were. “And to move the bodies? We will bury them when we are recovered somewhat.” Iraia nodded her assent. Returning to the others, T’yang took another blanket to spread as best she could over Jake.

T’yang feared to stop moving. If she did, she might fall into a stupor of despair and none of them could afford that at this time. They had the food and supplies that Udonis’ men had stockpiled here. So they could survive for quite a while. She would check for vehicles as soon as she could. For the moment, food, water and time to process the battle was more important. Tucking her injured arm into the front of her robe to help stabilize it, T’yang moved to sit with the bewildered and lost Raewyn. She didn’t really know what to do or to say. Compassion had never been something she understood. All she knew was she still had a vow to uphold to Tsume to protect these extraordinary people and so, that is what she would do.
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by Guilty Carrion on Wed Jul 09, 2014 6:02 pm

The sickening crunch of steel through bone echoed in his head long after the actual sound had faded. The soft 'squish' of tissue and the faintest drip of liquid at the edge of his senses. Tal pushed futility off the ground, lifting his head enough to see the crumpled form of the heretic god, the small stiletto blade still jutting from his skull providing some sense of finality to the man's death. "It's...over..?" He rasped through laboured breaths, slumping back to the cold stone floor as his eyes watched the small motes begin to emerge from Udonis.

"Yes." Darren replied, relief evident in the summon's voice as it lingered near it's summoner. "It's over." The gentle harmony from the small lights were soothing, lulling the vagabond towards the rest he denied himself. His eyes fluttered shut, but a moment later, the soft melody was corrupted by the sudden flats, jolting the peace from his mind. Darren shifted uneasily beside him, the disharmony unsettling and forboding as the dark motes emerged and began to mix with the light.

"What..?" Before Tal could fully attempt to decipher the sudden discord, darkness erupted from Udonis's body; a blackened dome that swelled out towards the prone summoner. In a heart beat, Darren stood before his summoner, the rhino's bulk blocking his view as it braced itself to be his shield. Neither knew the true danger, as it washed over them like a tidal wave. Their eyes widdened in a horrorifying unison as Darren's body began to dissolve; parts of the rhino simply crumbling to disappear like ash in the dark wind.

Tal looked in panic to the rhino's eyes, and for a moment, everything slowed. "Tal." His voice was soft, lacking it's usual gruff that the two always gave each other. "...we saw a lot, didn't we?" Memories of their fight with the dream-weaver came back to the summoner, and his throat choked shut. "There's so much more left to see, though."

"...yeah, a lot." Every breath seemed to cause more of the summon to simply vanish into the spreading dark. "Gonna have to see the rest of it...even with a smashed up leg."

"I'm sure you will." Darren's voice was melancholic. Both knew what was coming. "Finally going to write it all down?"

"Yeah."

"Good." The darkness reached the rhino's neck, and it's eyes shut. "...I would have liked to see one last sunset. Sunrise..."

"...wasn't enough, huh?" His heart stung with regret, sitting away in a library while Darren sat alone. "I would have liked to see it." Darren's head vanished into the dark, revealing the full darkness behind his body en-roaching on Tal. Far beyond it though, the summoner could see the last motes of light being swallowed into the darkness.

Tears stung his eyes, as Darren laughed softly. "I don't regret a moment, Tal. I'd love to do it all over again." The last mote of light vanished. "And there is no one I would rather have seen it all with." The darkness washed over him, and his skull felt as if it was splitting open. The echoing crack from Udonis's death rang in a loop as the black drained whatever was left inside him and swept it off into nothing.

He lay on the stone, still as death for a long moment, hand coiling into a fist as the sobs began to shake his frame. Everything was...empty. Cold. The void where the warmth of Darren had been was suffocating and he wanted nothing more than to just wake up from this nightmare. "...we won..." He choked out, unable to find the satisfaction in their triumph.

Tal didn't know how long passed before he felt the heavy hand touch his shoulder, and he turned his head partially to gaze at the squatting figure of Iraia, still draped in his cloak. She said nothing, face solemn, but he knew there was nothing really to say. Assurances would just be hollow, but the presence of someone dulled the sting of the loneliness aching inside him.

Footsteps approached, and the barbarian woman rised to face the newcomer, who Tal quietly pegged as T'yang judging by the gait. Neither of the women spoke to each other, a distrust he might have found amusing in brighter circumstances. "Tal. “I sent Raewyn to gather some medical supplies. We’ll try to get your injuries tended to as soon as we are able.” He didn't stir, barely even registering the mangled limb in his clouded mind anymore. “Udonis is gone.” Hard to miss. “We cannot return by the portal, I suspect. So we will rest here and find a way to travel back to Temple so we can learn what has happened.” He ground out a grunt through his lungs, knowing the woman wasn't trying to upset him, but not really wanting to deal with anything.

Iraia spoke lightly. "A costly victory." He didn't justify that statement with a response, knowing full well that he would have tried to hit her if he could have managed to stand. "...but you've proven yourself stronger."

"For all the damn good it did, yeah. I'm ecstatic." He spat, eyes narrowing on her bare and slightly bloodied feet. Evidently the durability had left her as well, and he somewhat regretted his words. "...you heard her, Udonis is gone. Don't need to be here anymore." A moment later, he felt a blanket drape over his body, before Iraia gently eased the man into a sitting position. "...why are you helping?"

"I serve the strongest, and you have proven yourself stronger, Tal...Kapperay." She offered, her steel grey eyes locked on his own, puffy and blood-shot from tears. "So I shall help you." She looked to his ruined knee, before tugging his lone arm over her shoulder. "It is our way."

"...thanks, then." He winced as she lifted him, but their similar heights kept his leg from dragging too badly, and she helped him limp over towards the others. His eyes lingered on Eri as they passed by the battered woman, knowing full well the agony which she felt. The vagabond didn't have any words of comfort he could offer, or even a hand to lay on her shoulder in solidarity. Iraia lowered him to the ground, ensuring he could prop himself up before heading off towards T'yang and the bodies that littered the chamber.

No one spoke much, occupied with their own tasks to cope and deal with their 'victory'. Raewyn brought him some food and water, and he'd given the girl the strongest smile he could in thanks, but it was still a hollow thing. The pain from his leg dulled with exhaustion, but he refused to sleep, out of some misguided stubbornness. How long he just sat there, thinking numbly of nothing at all, Tal wasn't sure, but the stillness did not ease the thoughts still nibbling somewhere at the edge of his mind.

Eventually, Iraia returned to him, grabbed in clothes she had likely looted from some of the various dead T'yang had tasked the fighter with burying. She still wore the cloak, though. "...you should rest. Your injuries are severe, but not life threatening." His ivory eyes flicked to her, ringed with black bags but the set of his jaw was answer enough. "Then what would you rather do? Occupying your mind will dull the pain."

"...could you find me some paper? And a pen?" His eyes flicked down to his hand, a mournful smile stretching across his face. "...I have some things I don't want to forget."
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by Loki on Sun Sep 21, 2014 2:50 pm

EPILOGUE





Three days had passed since what had been collectively dubbed ‘The Great Cataclysm’ and at least for Loki, much of that time had been devoted to reflection.  For the first time since the refinery, he had gotten a chance to begin sorting through his thoughts and memories.  Bit by bit he was working on distinguishing his own from what fragments belonged to Tsume, but such a task was rather disorienting; especially when it came to thoughts of T’yang and Raewyn.  Loki was grateful he had those broken memories when it came down to it; they were a sort of consolation prize for losing however many years of his life.  That, while he may not have lived them personally, he could still do so vicariously through what was effectively a part of him.

Still, they were doing what they could to pick up the pieces and keep up morale.  While they were all in agreement that Jake deserved a proper burial, their injuries slowed the digging of his grave.  In the meantime his remains were carefully wrapped in a burial shroud, which at least seemed to ease Eri’s anxiety slightly.  There were a number of times Loki saw her sitting next to him, though he couldn’t tell if she was talking or simply being content with proximity, but he felt it best not to intrude.

When he wasn’t sorting through his thoughts or helping his friends, much of his time was spent musing over their ‘victory’.  They may have won the battle, he felt sure there was no winner to the war.  Eri’s mind had yet to recover from whatever she endured during the fight, Tal’s body was broken and it was unlikely he would ever fully recover from the injury to his leg, Jake was dead, and the rest of them were not fairing much better emotionally or physically.  The mainland was likely experiencing trepidation and chaos to put it lightly, after all, they likely had no idea what had transpired over the past several weeks and they had no warning against the worst act of destruction the world had seen for the better half of a millennium. Still, they were determined to make their way back to their homeland despite how daunting the feat may be; it was just a matter of how.
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by Digital Muse on Sun Sep 28, 2014 1:49 pm

In the days following the disastrous battle with Udonis, Raewyn did her best to simply keep moving. She couldn’t look at Jake’s body, even after it had been wrapped in a heavy canvas shroud. She’d always been a little afraid of him. And that fear had grown with every passing day. He’d been changing, his thoughts had initially been chaotic, but somehow, they had become more focused and somehow Raewyn had known that wasn’t a good thing, but she still didn’t know how or why.

Eri was just as difficult to be around, unfortunately. Her vacant stare and shuddering breaths made Raewyn very uncomfortable. The single instance that Raewyn had unconsciously taken over Arashi’s mind had proved to be a terrifying episode for Eri. So Raewyn couldn’t even conceive of what it must have done to Eri to lose him entirely. Eri’s reaction to Jake’s death had finally shown Raewyn the depth of feeling Eri had had for the crazy brawler. It made Raewyn very sad, but she didn’t know what to do or how she could help. She felt so useless.

And then there was Tal. Raewyn had come to depend on the vagabond’s quiet strength and good humor. But he had lost Darren and was badly injured. T’yang had told her that his leg would never be the same. They had no healer and could only splint his leg very crudely. The big woman, Iraia, had stayed close to Tal and seemed to have decided that he was now her charge. Raewyn supposed that was a good thing. But, she wasn’t sure if the woman could be trusted. She had worked for Udonis, after all. Would she try to kill them some night? She was pretty much the only one that wasn’t battered and hurt among them all.

Raewyn found herself alone too much in those few days after the great battle. Loki seemed lost in thought, trying to come to terms with his body’s sudden change, the aftermath of the battle and the loss of his power, and probably, like her, the sheer impact of everything they had gone through the last few months. He had only been a few years old than her when they had started, and Raewyn wondered if he was still that same boy inside or if he had changed as drastically as his body had. She had remembered feeling something of Tsume inside Loki’s mind at the refinery, but somehow that brought her no comfort.

T’yang was often gone for hours at a time. The former-monk had said she was scouting the area looking for a boat or some other way to return to the mainland. Raewyn didn’t think she slept much. Raewyn got the impression that T’yang drove herself despite her own injuries and the after effects of the cataclysm so that she would be overwhelmed with her loss of power and maybe the loss of Tsume.

No one had won in this battle. The thought made Raewyn bitter. Nothing was right anymore. She remembered the visions of the destruction caused by Eraclea. Surely when Udonis had raised this continent, the mainland would have been devastated. And to make matters worse, when she’d killed Udonis…She shook her head and squeezed her eyes shut to stop the tears of frustration from falling. When Udonis had died…had every Saturate lost their power? Had Raewyn ruined the whole world? Sometimes when she fell asleep despite her best efforts, she’d dream that the Saturates from every land hunted her. They hated her for taking away their power. They didn’t care about Udonis and what he’d almost done. Raewyn would thrash in her sleep, jerking awake with a squeak of terror and immediately feel ashamed for her weakness. She hoped no one had heard. And every night, she’d fight not to sleep. She didn’t want to see all those people who would blame her for everything.
__________________________________________________________________________________
T’yang barely stopped moving since the end of the battle against Udonis. She might pause to eat or drink some water out of necessity, but she was jealous of the time it took away from her scouting of the continent that she could reach to try to find a way back to the mainland. In a twisted sort of way, Udonis had probably helped save their live with all of the supplies his men had stockpiled in the antechamber. But, that was a small consolation.

The loss of her shadows had been her darkest nightmare made real. The dream that Maeve had forced into her mind at the refinery intruded on her every waking moment. T’yang knew that if she did not remain focused on the task at hand, that she might well dissolve into a stark pit of black despair that she might never escape from. As always, that thought always brought Eri to mind. Her own feelings of the loss from the death of Tsume was the closest thing to sympathy she could ever remember having for another person. The girl’s mind had fled. The loss of her Summon and Jake so close to one another was more than Eri could bear. T’yang was grateful that Loki was there to give some comfort to Eri. Just his proximity seemed to calm Eri somewhat when she became particularly agitated.

Taking stock of the others did not paint a more hopeful picture, however. Loki was often lost in his own thoughts. Likely the months of near-constant danger and the loss of both Tsume and Jake together with the sudden aging of his body were weighing heavily on the boy. Raewyn had once confided in her that Tsume was still inside Loki. But T’yang wasn’t sure if the girl was indulging in wishful thinking or if she knew something for sure. Oddly, T’yang was reluctant to actually speak to Loki about it, though she could honestly explain why.

Tal had fared the worst during the battle. While he’d lost an arm at the refinery, his battle with Vox had crushed his leg. She knew from experience that there was little chance he’d regain the use of it. She had managed to splint it to ease his pain somewhat. But, the vagabond had barely acknowledged the pain, being lost in his own dark thoughts after having lost so much. Not for the first time since the battle had T’yang been grateful she had not had the power of a Summoner. The loss of the power in addition to a soul-mate may well have been more than she could bear.

Raewyn was putting on a brave face, but T’yang could see how she fought sleep and heard the terror in her sudden waking from her nightmares at night. T’yang watched Raewyn as she wandered the area, trying to avoid the others and at the same time looking toward them with a longing that made T’yangs heart ache a little for her. Raewyn desperately needed someone to comfort her but there was no one there that could do so. No one should be forced to grow out of their childhood so violently. Not for the first time, T’yang wondered if she’d be able to reunite Raewyn with her family and what Raewyn would tell her mother and father about her real father. She did not envy the girl.

During the daylight hours, T’yang spent as much time as she could scouting the coast lines. There had to be some means to get back to the mainland. She prayed that Udonis hadn’t been able to create a portal to move all of his men and equipment to the Sanctuary. If that was how it was done, there might not be any way to get back to the mainland unless they could build some sort of boat. And given the condition they were all in, that seemed an impossible task. Later and later each day, T’yang would return to the Sanctuary, exhausted and still in pain from her injuries. She would then carefully tend to the wounds of the others to ensure no infection would set in before tending to her own. She had set Raewyn to preparing meals and trying to make Tal and Eri as comfortable as possible with the bedrolls and blankets they had access to. Once the evening meal was eaten and everyone began to settle for the night, T’yang would return to the main entrance of the Sanctuary to stand guard. Against what she wasn’t entirely sure. But it afforded her an excuse to remain awake and away from fevered dreams and provided time to try to reflect on all that had happened to them. Besides, she couldn’t bear it if someone saw her cry.
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by quakernuts on Sun Oct 05, 2014 7:34 pm

Life

A simple, four letter word that we like to consider valuable beyond all pricing, yet is worth so very very little.  

We continue to use life as a object, something to be used and abused as anything ranging from an excuse to currency.  To save a life, because of life, get a life.  It has intrinsic value, and while it's worth may vary from person to person, it no longer has the impact that people tend to think it does.  

Death, now death has meaning.  It is something we all fear, respect, and expect at any given time.  There is no fighting it, and there's no value in it.  It's simply there, something that marks the end of a journey, whether it be exciting and full of adventure, or dull and pointless.  You can't argue, deal, or cheat death.  It has no value, and nothing can be bartered for it.  In the end, it comes for all of us.  

No one knew this better than the small group that was stranded on the newly raised continent of Demora, amid the ruins of the Fyr memorial.  Their 'lives' so to speak, had been erased completely.  Everything they were, had been, or were destined to be before this point was gone.  No longer would they view the world in the same way, and just like that the value of their lives had changed, much like currency switching hands.  

The group had lost 2 members who tried to argue and fight death, only for it to get angry and claim them early.  Tsume, driven by honor, courage, and duty.  He was bound to protect the Goddess, and from an early age he fought to fulfill that part of his life.  He brought together this motley crew of unlikely heroes, performing a task that many people would have deemed impossible.  Even though his death, gruesome and unwarranted as it may have been, caused the group pain, it drove them to lengths that many didn't think they would be able to go.  With his passing he ultimately sealed Udonis's fate.  With that, Tsume could rest in peace.  

Peace, something that Jake could never attain. the man fighting a war on so many fronts it was impossible for him to ever find solace.  He was not a nice man, nor was he even a moral man.  Near the end, one could call him sadistic and cold.  Out of the entire group, his change was probably the most dramatic, yet his goal never wavered.  He knew what he had to do, and despite his ever changing methods, ideologies, and personalities, he fought because he knew the stakes.  One might say that in a different life, one in which his fractured persona could be pulled into a single being, he and Eri might have gone farther than what they did.  They were brought together by the very thing that ripped them apart, and whether you want to call that irony or a sick joke is left to your interpretation.  

Irony, the solo rider Eri had joined a team and found a family, she had become so much more than what she started out with.  A girl with a penchant for loneliness and a skill with blades.  Beautiful if somewhat striking in the physical sense towards unwanted advances.  She too, had forfeited whatever life she had in mind before she stumbled into this world changing event.  Her mind and personality switched to that of someone who understood and cared about those around her, potentially to the point of no return.  She trained Loki and she formed a matronly bond towards the boy turned man, Raewyn became her charge.  Tsume became her mentor, Tal her friend, and while a latecomer to the party, T'yang her ally.  Jake, her potential lover, dead and gone, buried with what remained of her mind.  Her life is one of uncertainty, but with the aid of those surrounding her, filled with love and understanding.  

Love and understanding, something that the Vagabond Tal used to be filled with.  A warm smile, a cheery story, and a welcome slap on the back.  No one came out of this fight without scars, and Tal's ran very deep.  Physically, he was ruined.  His days of wandering the country with his summoned Rhino were behind him.  His smile, while usually filled with a mirth usually reserved for saints of old, was a sad and waning thing.  He had lost both of his best friends on this trip to save a little girl that no one had known before the entire ordeal.  Tsume to the dark being of Vox, and Darren...to their victory.  His body simply matched his soul, broken and hurting, yet still somehow whole.  He might be able to pull himself out of it, to continue on in a fashion that befits his personality, but only time would tell.

Time, something that Loki had suddenly lost.  A little child, filled to the brim with essence fueled powers and an innocence that even the most faithful of the church would have been envious of.  A boy, driven from his home and robbed of his childhood in more ways than one,  who no longer had the carefree nature that his actual age would abide.  His new body, given to him in a time of need and war, required him to change his entire outlook on life.  He lost an integral part of his life in favor of an experience that would be impossible to replicate by anyone.  He lost friends, and in some ways, family through this trail.  With time, he would get through it.  His mind was still that of a little boy, and with that, would allow him to be able to adapt better to the situation.  He now has a responsibility to Eri to help her through this terrible time, and a obligation to never lose who he is.  

Identity, a intangible object that defines who we are as people.  T'yang, someone who was so ready and willing to fight the group when they first met, ended up fighting with them against the very person she was working for.  A history, riddled with evil and love in unequal measure, that had her facing her former lover Tsume in what should have been a fight to the death.  Circumstance, experience, and more than a little amount of luck had her switching sides.  One could say that she had a change of heart, others would say that she had a change of person.  She became something else, something that required her to forego everything that defined her before this fateful time.  Some would consider that a blessing, others would see it as a curse.  

Curse, this is what Raewyn would believe she was until the day she died.  The Goddess, the little princess, the most important person in the world reduced to nothing more than a frightened young women with neither the ability to change the world, nor the experience to understand the changes to herself.  She started off with egotistical beginnings, an inflated sense of worth that was justified for the position but not wanted by those around her.  It took her time, patience, and more than a little sacrifice from those around her to open her eyes to the world before her.  She had so much responsibility shoved onto her shoulders it would be impossible to judge her for anything she had done to this point.  Now, with a world less it's essence, she was nothing more than the girl who caused this event.  She was the reason for the adventure, her power being used as a catalyst to start a new apocalypse, and her hand carrying a blade which ended that threat and ushered forth a new era for Viemera.  Where ever she carried herself from this point on, she would never forget the events that transpired, or the thread of loyalty, duty, honor, courage, hope, and for some, thrill that carried them and her to the inevitable end.  Whichever direction she chose, she was something more than a Goddess.  She was a woman with a very unique view on life.

Life.  


Maybe it was cynical to compare something so fragile to some sort of money, but the tale holds true.  Every member of the group has paid a price, and that price was their lives in some form or fashion.  Others might say that this event gave them life, but once again, it's nothing more than a currency.  You're buying, you're selling, you're saving for a rainy day.  Maybe in the end, they'll understand that it's not the value of the life that you have...but how you choose to spend it that counts.  

Even now, as they all contemplated the future, a single green speck rises from the dirt quite a distance from them.  A tiny being, a spark of some sort, hovering far above their heads and looking down on them in confusion as it's eyes dart from body to body.  It's gaze lingered on the grave for a moment, a glimpse of recognition flashing across it's eyes before it's gone.  With nothing holding it down, and no purpose to fulfill, the creature speeds off into the distance.

To those who didn't understand, this was the end.  

To those who did...this was a beginning.  
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by Silvan Arrow on Sun Oct 05, 2014 8:28 pm

Eri’s mental condition worsened as the days passed. Or was it years? Months? Hours? Minutes? Time seemed to blur for her, along with reality, as the mental wounds from that final battle made themselves devastatingly present.

A few moments of clarity stood out to her foggy senses. She remembered sitting beside Jake’s shrouded body for hours at a time, and then beside his grave after the funeral. His burial was a quiet, somber affair. Words may have been said, but Eri couldn’t remember. She simply recalled picking up a shovel and digging a hole for an unknown length of time before a set of hands gently took the tool from her and guided her out of the grave. Someone placed a stone over the grave to mark its location, and she leaned Jake’s old axe against it; somehow that seemed more fitting than flowers.

On top of the emotional grief came the deeper, soul-aching damage of losing Arashi. The bond between Summoner and Summon had been intimacy in its simplest, purest form, a melding of two minds and souls until they beat in unison. But throwing open the link and taking down all barriers during the battle with Udonis had damaged something in Eri’s mind. If she had received training at the Temple, she might have learned to control the transformation. Instead, the lack of training combined with the sudden loss of Arashi had left a gaping hole in her psyche.

The worst was at night. Eri slept fitfully at best, and she always woke up screaming from night terrors or sudden, nameless panic. During those times, she couldn’t remember where she was or sometimes who she was, and only Loki could get close to her to calm her down. She recognized him, but often she would forget who her other companions were. Those mental lapses only added to the constant state of agitation that seemed to follow her night and day.

She vaguely realized that the people nearby occasionally talked about her or even tried to talk to her. Snippets of conversation drifted by in a haze:

“...would not want you grieving like this.”

“T’yang, she can’t help...

“Mind has been damaged...”

“...not doing well. Could get worse...fatal...”

And so Eri drifted between the waking mental fog and the nighttime panic for seven days...

In contrast to her mind, Eri’s physical injuries were mostly superficial, with the occasional gash where a blade had bypassed her armor. Those healed readily enough with some first-aid from Loki and...who was the other woman? T’yang? Yes, T’yang. She tended to everyone’s injuries and tried to keep the wounded comfortable. Anyway, after a week of restless sleep and tasteless rations washed down with water, Eri began to find physical movement as a decent outlet for her agitation. She walked numbly around the antechamber where the group had fought Udonis, then gradually ventured outside for longer periods of time. She always kept their makeshift shelter in sight for fear of getting lost, but she would still lose track of time until someone came looking for her as the sun began to set.

But on this particular day, as the sun reached its peak in the sky, Eri somehow felt more aware of the wind - of its touch, the way it caressed her face through gentle breezes, and how it filled her lungs with each breath. Her skin began to tingle, and she found herself taking longer, deeper breaths, as though trying to drink the sensation from the air like oxygen. Gooseflesh appeared on her arms when the wind whirled and danced around her cheeks, and in that moment, a voice like a breathless whisper tickled her ears.

...Eri...

It was so faint, so distant that she almost missed it. She paused for a step, then continued walking in no particular direction.

Eri...

There it was again, quiet but unmistakable.

Eri...

Yes, that was her name, wasn’t it? But how did the wind know her name? Or had her mind cracked entirely to the point that she was hearing voices in her head?

And yet the voice continued to grow louder as it called her name. Eri kept walking, and before she knew it, she turned in a circle to find that she could no longer see the Sanctuary or even the smoke from the group’s cooking fire.

Then she was running. The healing gashes in her arms and legs throbbed in time with her pounding heart, and the blood beat out a steady cadence in her ears as she lurched into a dead sprint. She couldn’t explain why she ran or where she was going. She just had to find the source of that voice. All the while, the wind whipped more insistently at her clothing and hair, like gentle fingers prodding her along, showing her which direction to run.

Eri turned a corner between two weathered boulders, nearly tripped on some loose gravel, and skidded to a halt as a gust of wind abruptly slammed into her eyes. She threw her arm over her face until the tears cleared from her vision, looked in front of her, and nearly forgot to breathe.

Tendrils of air swirled in a slowly revolving funnel shape, sustaining itself by forces that defied the laws of physics. Leaves, twigs, and tiny pebbles were caught in the mini-cyclone in a vague outline that seemed oddly familiar. In the eye of the storm whirled a fist-sized, compact ball of wind, as though taking shelter within the larger funnel. Eri stared in fascination at the wind, drawn to it like a moth to a flame.

Eri...you finally found me... The tiny ball of wind pulsed in time with the words that now sounded as clear as spoken conversation.

And she recognized that voice.

Eri’s mouth went dry as her mind experienced a sharp, painful moment of lucidity. “This...isn’t possible...” she croaked, her voice rusty from disuse. “You...I lost you. You vanished...” Her fist subconsciously clutched over the cold emptiness in her chest that now throbbed with pain and heat in time with her heartbeat.

Memories began flooding back, like a suddenly remembered dream. I’m so sorry, Eri, but I don’t have much time. She remembered running forward as his body slowly dissolved into motes of light while a shrilling noise threatened to deafen her senses. “N-NO! You can’t leave me!” she had cried as she cradled his face between her hands.

Eri, my body may vanish, but I will never leave you, he had vowed.

And then the wind repeated the last line of that remembered conversation, as though reading her mind: I always have and always will be here for you...

At that statement, a dam broke in the back of Eri’s mind, and tears filled her eyes as she staggered forward and fell to her knees in the middle of the funnel cloud. She dared to speak his name as she reached for that tiny sphere of wind.“A-Arashi...”

The wind sphere suddenly exploded with gale force breezes, and Eri somehow gripped it with both hands and shoved it instinctively against the cold, empty hollow in her chest. Her back arched as warmth unlike anything she had even felt flooded her body, from the top of her head to the ends of her limbs. She inhaled deeply, and the wind filled her with an almost electric sensation. She was suddenly, painfully aware of it brushing against her exposed skin, filling her lungs, and giving her body newfound strength and clarity of mind. She sagged forward to her hands and knees, panting in a cold sweat.

“How...is this...possible?” Eri asked, tears still falling from her eyes in shocked awe. The way the wind swirled around her prone form...it somehow reminded her of wings mantling over her protectively. “Are you...still you?”

I don’t know what happened, but somehow the Essence of all Saturates has returned to the earth and been reborn. I just know that I awoke and found myself here. I am...myself, yet changed. I remember my time as a Summon, but I am not a Summon now. I can no longer take my physical form. It’s as if I am...wind itself.

“It doesn’t matter,” Eri half-sobbed. “None of that matters as long as you’re here. You won’t...vanish again, will you?”

Nature itself would have to perish before I ever leave you, Eri. I’m so sorry for all that has happened.

“Arashi, my mind...it’s broken. I’m broken. I...forget things. I forget where I am and don’t recognize my friends. Jake is dead, and I have nightmares and panic attacks all the time. I-”

Eri, it’s okay, Arashi soothed, just as gentle breeze swept across her lips and brushed the tears from her cheeks. I know your mind as well as my own. When your memory fails, I will think for us both. You just have to trust me.

At Arashi’s words, Eri felt a tugging pressure at the back of her mind as her emotions began to sweep her into a state of panic. A gentle weight pressed down on the panic and suppressed it, like glue filling in the cracks of a broken object. Breathe, Eri. She did, and within a few seconds, she could think clearly again.

“Arashi, even if you can hold my mind together, how will we ever get home?” She fumbled for the name, and Arashi quickly supplied it. “T’yang...she has been scouting the island day and night, but she can’t find a boat or anything to take us back to the mainland. If you were still a Summon, then maybe...”

I may not be a Summon, but I do have power, perhaps even more than when I was a Summon. We just have to learn how to use it. I cannot carry you on my back, but perhaps we can fly together one day. The wind stirred along the ground and brushed up at Eri’s clothes.

“Maybe...we could.” Hope, a spark so tiny that she barely breathed lest she smother it, bloomed in her chest. “Are there others like you out there?”

A lot of Essence returned to the earth, Eri. All we can do is wait and see.

Eri stood on shaky legs at those words. She stared ahead at the horizon. Somewhere out there stood the mainland. It had undoubtedly suffered untold devastation, but she had to return. She had to know if her parents had survived, and the others...her friends...had family who probably thought they were dead.

“I don’t know what my mind can accomplish now, but if you’ll help me, we will certainly try.”

Eri returned to the Sanctuary, guided by Arashi’s mental cues, just as twilight darkened the sky. Multiple sets of eyes looked up sharply from the cooking fire and, in Loki and T’yang’s case, obvious preparations to go looking for her. They flooded her with concerned questions and the occasional rebuke for wandering for so long, but when Eri looked up to meet their eyes, their words died on their tongues.

“I think I may know a way for us to return home.”

Eri realized the next day why they had stared. As she looked at her reflection in the water outside the Sanctuary, she realized that her eyes had turned the same sharp blue as Arashi when he was a Summon, evidence of his constant influence in holding her mind together.

Several days later...

Concentrate, Eri. Feel the wind around you.
Arashi’s voice was a constant, soothing monologue in the back of her mind that kept her grounded, literally and figuratively. The earth felt solid beneath her feet, and this clearing was safely tucked away from any curious onlookers. She had wanted privacy to try this in case it failed. No need to build up any hopes first and then immediately dash them.

Eri closed her eyes, held her palms up as if in supplication, and began to gather the wind. She felt Arashi’s power deep in her core - her Sprite, as she had dubbed him. Somehow the term had seemed fitting, since she couldn’t call him a Summon anymore. The wind came to her, shaky at first, but slowly the scattered breezes began to coalesce into swirling tendrils that gathered around her outstretched arms. She was dimly aware of Arashi’s presence in the wind, taking shape behind her in the vague shape of an eagle with outstretched wings. Drawing upon her Sprite’s mental images, she pushed the swirling air down with her palms and their joined minds. The mental effort was staggering, and Arashi ruthlessly tamped down a sudden flare of panic before it could undo the progress they had made.

Eri clenched her fists, willing the air to form a tighter column and gather beneath her feet. That’s it. Keep going, Arashi encouraged. Stay centered. Slowly, ever so slowly, Eri’s feet lifted from the ground, and her entire body hovered a foot in the air for a good ten seconds.

Then she opened her eyes in excitement, and her focus snapped, along with her connection to the wind. “Whoa!” She fell unceremoniously onto her backside and lay dazed, looking up at the clouds.

Eri, are you okay?


Instead of answering, Eri laughed. It was a tenuous giggle at first, but within seconds she was laughing until tears that had nothing to do with sorrow poured from her eyes. She felt Arashi’s approval of her good humor and continued laughing.

She had suffered. The Goddess knew they all had suffered. She would carry the physical and mental wounds for the rest of her life. And if she never left this island, that life would likely be much shorter.

But for today, at this present moment, Eri had a reason to live.
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by Guilty Carrion on Sun Oct 05, 2014 11:38 pm

What made a story?

Often, Tal found himself wondering that question, bouncing around in his head in search of answers that didn’t present themselves easily. He thought about it while he ate, while his injuries were tended and his bandages swapped, while the fire flickered low and everyone else lay in fitful sleeps by it’s dulling warmth. His hand rarely strayed far from the battered clumps of paper, some covered in illegible scrawling while others remained untouched by frantic strokes. There weren’t any answers on those pages, no matter how long he scratched at them.

He forced Iraia to help him hobble out of their little camp occasionally, ignoring T’yang’s protests and concern, using her size as a crutch like he’d often used Darren during their long travels. Every thought of his absence made Tal’s throat constrict and his heart ache, but he moved along, enjoying the brief periods of mobility, the earth beneath his feet and the sun on his skin. His mind felt at ease in those walks, or as close to it as he could get. At one point, without noticing, he began to speak with her, eyes watching the horizon as they moved.

About an oaf of a man, born halfway across the world in a harbour town, where the waves were beautiful and the harbours never emptied, not for long. About childish adventures, family dinners and fishing on piers. Memories of little rhinos and grand boats, and a journey across an ocean to find all there was to see. Aches faded away, and hours lost meaning, laughter aching in his chest at stupid mistakes and foolish choices.

She listened, never interrupting, as the characters changed away from the oaf, to snippets of lives spoken in fondness. Warriors, longing for challenges and adventures without end. Wanderers, searching for things not beyond the horizon, but inside themselves. Children, dreaming of futures and joys that age hadn’t dulled, and faithful protectors that would shelter and nurse them. Of dutiful men and women, serving without reward or attention. Countless names, listed without fault or error, even as the list stretched on and on.

The walks grew longer, fondness and memories pushing along tired, healing bones, as more names came and went, never without a tale or a quip tied perfectly to their passage. Each as important as the last, none to be overlooked, no matter how small the moment. Even as his voice grew hoarse, Tal continued, rambling between forced sips of water. Some noticed the mend of his smile, but spoke little of it, lest they damage the emotion in it’s fragility.

One day; although he couldn’t recalled how many had gone by, he stopped, staring out at the sky. The world seemed to still, only the gentlest of breezes brushing against his face as the ivory of his eyes misted. The ache in his chest tightened, choking his breath to stop the words already on his lips. The pain was bittersweet. It hurt. The list was at it’s end. Locking away the memories wouldn’t change their truth. He brushed it aside.

“...did I ever tell you about Tsume?” He began, voice wavering as the first tear escaped. “The greatest man I ever knew. Always so dedicated, but he somehow found the time for people. Anyone in the world, he could motivate them and get them going if you just gave him the chance, and he’d be right there with you. Down in the mud, laughing. God, he could laugh. How he kept it all together, I don’t think I’ll ever know. I wish he was here. He’d be so proud, you know? Of them.” He sucked in a breath, daring not to tear his eyes away from the sky.

“Of T’yang. How did anyone make a woman that tough? One fraction of the things she’s endured, and I’d break like a baby.” He laughed, the sound loud but betraying the pain hidden in it. “Guiding a bunch of battered idiots to the end of the world, all for the man she loved...I wish they could have been together. They deserved all the happiness in the world, for all the crap it threw at them. Not…”

That word got stuck in his throat, as if anything past it was something sick he was trying to keep down in his stomach. “...or how about Eri? She always seemed like she wanted to be alone, but the moment you needed her or she thought something was up, there she was. Almost like my mother, that one. A little too tough for her own good sometimes, but who wouldn’t be sure of themselves if they could move like she can? I won’t lie...always was a little jealous of her and that bird...I can’t really believe that he’s still around. Just...back to normal, almost, looking to fly again. What’s it gotta be like...having the whole sky waiting?” His smile was bittersweet, the taste of salt filling his mouth.

“Jake had her beat there though. I would dare anyone to find me someone more self-assured than that punch happy bruiser. What could even stop him? He could wrestle a rhino with one hand and punch out full grown men with the other!” The laughter was lighter, hinting back at that thunderous boom that once deafened anyone near the vagabond. “Can’t say he didn’t deserve the ego. I only ‘won’ because he held back...we should have talked more. He’s...was a good kid...somewhere in there.”

He felt a tug on his arm, pulling his eyes from the sky to Iraia, who said nothing, simply gesturing out lightly towards the horizon; the sun setting the sky ablaze in oranges and reds. Time just kept slipping, even as he rambled. “...Loki’s something else though. He’s just a kid, under all that growth. A loyal kid, one who’d flying punch a dragon to help one of his friends. That takes a certain amount of spine...but he’s always had the backbone, from what I hear. He just...cares too much to show it sometimes. I can’t say I’m any better.”

He paused, perhaps the longest he had in any of their walks, in these trips through memories and thoughts. “...Raewyn. A brat, sometimes, if I’m to believe what Tsume told me. The conviction in that girl…” He stopped himself, shaking his head sadly. “...no, that young woman, is unbelievable. Thrust into everything, into power and plots and insanity, all for something she was just...born with. She’s somehow...survived it all. Taken all the hits and she’s still...still here.”

What was a story? That question came to his mind once again, his eyes squeezing shut to stem the tears falling freely from his eyes now. “...and I’m so proud to know them all, and what they’ve done. Beaten Magi, mercenaries, dragons, abominations and heretic Gods. Saved the world from a power-blinded lunatic with no concept of right, no matter the cost to themselves. No matter how much it hurt, they pushed through it all.” He was rambling now, pushing words forward as if stopping would be some injustice to things left unsaid. “Through doubt, pain, loss. Just a...fraction of that, and anybody could...achieve anything. And even if nobody knows it yet...they won. I’ll tell it to every soul I meet, I’ll...I’ll put books in every city, I’ll yell it to the sky until the stars understand it….they won.”

He went quiet with that, his voice having raised into a boom that he didn’t notice, the words crashing out across the horizon, off towards the setting sun. Without instruction, Iraia lowered him to the ground gently, crouching beside him once she was certain he was comfortable. After a companionable silence, she spoke the first words he remembered her saying since these talks began. “...it’s quite the story.”

“...I like to think so. It may hurt sometimes, and seem a little dark...but at the end...you see the light, and know everything is gonna be okay. Even if things are a little different.” He released a long breath, and felt whatever weight hanging on his shoulders lighten, if only just a little. The air seemed crisper, and he could almost swear the ground was soft enough to be a bed. Pushing the dirt through his fingers, Tal grinned lightly. “It might be my favourite story.”

“I can agree with that.” The words appeared from nothing, but it seemed almost as if the ground itself passed the message through his arm, an electric feeling of connecting shivering through his skin.

The earth beneath his arm cracked and shook, before the rock and dirt pushed upwards into his palm, forcing it off the ground as the shape seemed to ‘climb’ free of the soil. The stone cracked and smoothed, tumbling over one another to give form, familiar form to that voice echoing in his mind. It was only when his eyes found the small opal stones along the head now tucked gentle under his hand that Tal dared to breathe. “...Darren..?”


The gems shifted, somehow giving a knowing look. ”Well, I didn’t want to miss the sunset.” There was a long pause between them, before Tal laughed, with that same deafening thunderclap from the fire that seemed like a lifetime away. Iraia gave the lightest of smiles, as Darren lowered his head to the ground to stare out at the setting sun. ”I can’t believe Arashi beat me back.”

As his laughter subsided, Tal’s fingers dug into the dirt behind the rhino’s ear, scratching it like he had so many times before, and like he would undoubtedly do countless times again. “...you always were a little slow.” Darren nudged the vagabond with his snout, but gave no further protest to Tal’s teasing or his attention.

“I can’t help but notice you left yourself out of that story, Tal.”

“...Of course.” He grinned, as if his answer made all the sense in the world. “I don’t make the stories...I’m just the storyteller.”
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

Post by Loki on Sun Oct 05, 2014 11:41 pm

End of Viemera's Chapter: The Essence of Deceit
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Re: Viemera: The Essence of Deceit [Complete]

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