Dissemble

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MurkTheJerk
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Dissemble

Post by MurkTheJerk » Fri Nov 11, 2016 3:03 pm

Note : This story is not entirely my property. Much of it is a work that was inspired by a RP scene(s) that Kay, Tim and I were playing out before Tim passed away. As Tim really enjoyed this story, I took it upon myself to begin converting it into a short story for all of you to read. If some of the writing seems peculiar or disjointed, this is likely why. It's often a challenge to convert RP into a story, without having some awkwardly written segments in there. I'm certain if I was a more talented writer, I would be capable of making it a little more seamless, but I'm an amateur at best. Feel free to share any constructive criticism with me via email : disembodiedheadjim@gmail.com

Ultimately, this work is not written by me, merely compiled. Writing credit for the plot itself belongs to K. Johnson, and T.A. Saunders of course for his contribution and credit for use of the Imarel Game World.

-B.Kellestine

OOC Notes : This is posted in Ishaela Chronicle, even though most of the events occurring are happening on Shalzaar or Tal`Rah, because of the frame of time that they take place in.
6000 or whatever years of civilization, of invention and progress and developing ourselves so that we might stand above all over creatures. creating a world where someone can stick a battery on his dick and shit on his dog
-Dom.
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MurkTheJerk
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Post by MurkTheJerk » Fri Nov 11, 2016 3:04 pm

Chapter 1
Things to Come

“Pick up the sword.”

This was the only thought the Lord-Templar of the Order of the White Jayhawk could focus on, the only thing he could allow himself focus on. Murcalus Arthandas was nothing if not determined, but the Blight that had been laid upon him was powerful, the devotee who laid it upon him a favorite of their chosen deity. The figure he had been dueling with for minutes that seemed hours was powerful, an expert at swordplay and a Cleric of the Lady of Deception, Synri, who still held a personal vendetta against the Half-Shei Crusader as a result of his part in her fall during the Second Godswar.

“Pick up the sword.”

Arthandas had to keep telling himself that. There were too many people who depended on him, too many that needed Murcalus’ strength and leadership for him to fall now. The Holding spell wouldn’t allow the Knight to budge, however, not even look away from the Cleric approaching him, her hips swaying in a sultry sashay, her lips curling into a smile that would be lovely on any other face. Perhaps if Murcalus was younger, more foolish, he would still find it alluring. But he knew he was facing a predator.

“Pick up the sword.”

The Hand of Vyss could do nothing but watch, as she sunk down to one knee before him, settling one of her swords down to cup his chin in her hands, and meet his crystalline blue gaze with her own silver one. The woman’s face neared his, so close that the side of her nose brushed his, her lips parting slightly as they lingered just away from his own. Arthandas could feel her breath on his mouth, feel her lips nearly touching his as she spoke.

“You know, we were lovers once. Of course, it wasn’t this you, but the one from my reality. You were not quite as dashing there, however. Far more rugged, I would say. I wonder what manner of lover you are here, though? Would you be like him? He wasn’t in the least bit gentle, however I’m not sure you would be, either. It’s always the ones that you don’t expect, yes?”

“Pick up the sword, Murcalus. You can do it. You must.”

“Perhaps I’ll keep you as a pet, so I can find out,” Thai the White released the Crusader of Mercy’s face, and leaned back a little so he could see her delicate Asyn-Shei features, a face that any other man would lust for. But Murcalus knew Thai’s heart, and knew inside of her beat a twisted, black thing that held nothing but hatred for this reality now, even if that wasn’t always the case. “Well, that is, after I break you. I do wonder who I will make you watch me kill first. It’s unfortunate that your wife is already dead, but I can still destroy her vessel, perhaps have her spirit banished or bound to some trinket to dangle before your face. It would probably wound her deeply to watch me make love to you again and again, wouldn’t it?”

“Pick. It. Up.”

Thai the White stood, folding her hands behind her back though still gripping one of her short swords in hand, watching Murcalus’ frozen body with a wry amusement, releasing a quiet, soft laugh. “I’ll certainly have to kill your daughters. Too headstrong, independent. Honestly, the Asyndi one will be better off to be put out of her misery. It’d be a mercy, really, allowing her to be with her actual parents. Wouldn’t you agree, Sir Knight? The other, well. It wouldn’t be befitting a Crusader like you to still have a bastard wandering about. Oh, don’t worry. I’ll be sure to give you plenty of children of my own. As many as my ‘sister’ has given Arathys. We could have a nice, big, happy family. Well, until ours killed all of Arathys and Thairoa’s, that is.”

“The sword…”

“But the boy, he could live. He’s still young and impressionable enough. I hear he’s quite the bright young man, I’m sure he has plenty of potential.”

“Pick. Up. The. Sword.”

Fingers twitched, as the Blight laid upon Murcalus Arthandas unraveled, freeing his body to move. The Crusader’s hand snapped out to grip the bladeless Indarium and Hirsalis hilt of Samyherin, the Lost Light, the Holy Sword that Arthandas retrieved from the Temple of Uruk, in Niraeth. The Radiant blade flared to life, a brilliant flash of Divine Mana encased in an invisible containment field, accompanied by the singing of High Asyndi Hymns to the Old Gods from the weapon itself. Murcalus’ grip tightened on the hilt of the weapon, preparing to strike the Cleric of Deception before him. The Knight knew that he was a better swordsman than Thai, more experienced and better disciplined, however her magics were superior, and gave her an edge. All he needed to do was strike, before she could utter another prayer to Synri.

Before he could strike, however, Murcalus felt the bite of cold, Xos-Forged metal sinking into his flesh. Murcalus had underestimated his opponent, or more accurately, overestimated her confidence that she had bested him. The blade dug into the left side of his chest, piercing through the sky blue robes of the Order of the White Jayhawk, crimson creeping out into the fabric from around the weapon’s tip. The blood crept further out as the weapon slipped between his ribs, near enough his heart and into the Crusader’s lung.

Murcalus tried to call out something, but the only thing that exited his mouth was a sputter of blood and saliva that stained his lips and dribbled down his chin.

***The Character of Arathys Blackthorne belongs to T.A. Saunders. The Characters of Thairoa Leathurah-Blackthorne and Thai the White belong to K. Johnson.
6000 or whatever years of civilization, of invention and progress and developing ourselves so that we might stand above all over creatures. creating a world where someone can stick a battery on his dick and shit on his dog
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Post by MurkTheJerk » Fri Nov 11, 2016 3:06 pm

Chapter 2
Of Matters of Mercy
City of Am-Xitha, in the Kingdom of Vyss. Bira 12, 1364


“Dasan, what does it mean to follow Mercy?”

Murcalus Arthandas strolled through the Shei Quarter of the city, garbed in the robes of the Order of the White Jayhawk, with the sash bearing his marks of station. The symbol of his Knighthood first, a single white feather, followed by the symbol of the Hand of Vyss, the right-hand of King Arathys Blackthorne. Below that were the symbol of the fox leaping before the crescent moon, representative of the House of Volpe, of which he belonged to, and the coat of arms of the Arthandas family, though in his own style which he had taken as his personal seal - two Indarium swords crossed behind a white feather. Arthandas was tall and lean, with broader shoulders than his frame should likely have. The Half-Shei’s skin was pale, though as a result of the ravages of both serving alongside Arathys in the Peasant’s Rebellion, the Second Godswar, and the War of the Benefactor, it was marked with many soft pink scars, and his eyes had been left damaged so that the crystalline blue iris’ were rimmed with permanently reddened sclera. Long blue-black hair was braided down his back, banded in Divinium at the base that settled at the small of his back.

“Sentis, I fear the answer is no different today as it was yesterday. I know you don’t forget my words, so why is it you must always make the same query?” Murcalus’ voice was quiet and calm, with a sort of gravelly tone to it that only years of heavy smoking would do to a man. The Half-Shei had long since quit before taking his oaths, but the damage was done.

The boy alongside Murcalus, despite being directly of his blood, shared fer features with the elder man. Sentis Arthandas was slight, almost fragile looking, with deathly pale skin bordering on a blue tint, making him appear somewhat sickly and younger than his thirteen years of age. The young Shei wore a dark blue blazer, collared shirt, tie and shorts which was the uniform of the Am-Xitha Ibji-Yimir, the youth school. Sentis possessed more Shei blood than his father, being three quarters elven, and strongly resembled his Tallis-Shei mother. His hair and eyes were uniform in color, a pink-violet that resembled heliotrope in color, though the latter were slightly distorted through thick glasses.

“I know, Dasan, but.. To be perfectly honest, I just like hearing you talk about it.”

Murcalus laughed quietly. “Following Mercy means doing what’s right. There are misunderstandings, though ones that even I have to admit, are understandable mistakes. Despite popular belief, Mercy is not always ‘nice,’ nor does it mean that her servants must always be nice. Sometimes telling someone something direct, in plain language, for example, is far more Merciful than dancing about an issue and creating mixed impressions. Further, the edicts of Mercy do not include ‘do no harm,’ but rather promote taking the path of the least harm to the least amount of people, and to strive to ease suffering in all of it’s forms. There’s a popular belief that the Faith promotes utter pacifism, and that is simply not the case. For me, as a Knight of my Order, that often means putting myself in a position where I take a bullet for another, or am harmed in some other way while ensuring innocents come to as little harm as reasonably possible. It also means that I have to occasionally maim or kill those that are bringing suffering and pain upon others, if they refuse to yield to more peaceful methods.”

“I don’t think I could do it, Dasan. Kill, that is. Maybe that makes me a coward, but.. I don’t think I will ever do it, at least not willingly.”

“Young Sentis, despite what you might think.. That makes you brave, not a coward. Any fool can pick up a weapon to kill another man. A truly brave man will avoid it at all costs.” Murcalus patted his son on the shoulder, then lowered himself to embrace the youth. “Now. Off to class with you, young man. I’ve a King and Queen to report to”

“Oh! Shoot, I’m nearly late!” The boy started a bit, after releasing his father and glancing at the silver pocketwatch he carried, a gift from one of his many uncles. “Um, say hello to Arathys for me, and Thairoa. And um… Naiselle, too,” though at the last, a little heat burned in the boy’s cheeks, before he ran off. Murcalus watched as the young man disappeared into the city, towards the Ibij-Yimir, trying his best to suppress the amusement on his features at the boy’s crush on the Blackthorne girl, Murcalus’ own squire.

***The character of Arathys Blackthorne belongs to T.A. Saunders, and the characters of Thairoa Leathurah-Blackthorne and Naiselle Blackthorne belong to K. Johnson.
6000 or whatever years of civilization, of invention and progress and developing ourselves so that we might stand above all over creatures. creating a world where someone can stick a battery on his dick and shit on his dog
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Post by MurkTheJerk » Fri Nov 11, 2016 4:42 pm

Chapter 3
OOC Note : This Chapter, and some of the following, are actually converted from RP logs, with minor formatting changes and edits where appropriate.

A Letter from Home
Blackthorne Estates, Am-Xitha. Bira 12, 1364

The life of a letter is a strange thing sometimes, it can be straight-forward, coming at a distance in a single hand. Or it can be passed about and moved about until the letter has no knowing of where it has been and many hands have held it. The letter from Lurien Arthandas came in a single unbroken line, ‘Murcalus, You are wanted at home. Love, Mother.’ They were simple and yet powerful words, because she knew how busy her existing eldest child was and would not summon him without cause. It was the postscript that she had paused over, adding the words ‘Bring Arathys.’ That was how the mother of the Arthandas line summoned her Crusader son and the King of Vyss. It was folded and placed into a plain envelope that was sealed with the Arthandas crest - two swords crossing behind a single feather. It was moved to the hand of a child and that child held it carefully the entire way to the door of Murcalus’ home. His hand sweated and there were moments where the letter had to be put in his pocket, but for the most part, it was held.

Soon the letter, on the man’s home being the wrong place to go, was finding its way to the palace and there it was held by the fidgeting fingers of the boy as he waited for someone to approach and take the letter. It was only when the green smelling paper was taken by a cool slender hand that the boy was no longer its guardian and that was taken over by Thairoa.

"Sir Arthandas, it seems that you are so much in your second home here, that you are receiving letters with us," The cool hand of Queen Thairoa Leathurah-Blackthorne of Vyss offered the Knight of Mercy a letter with a small amused smile, "Perhaps I'll have to start charging you for delivery. The little boy that brought it seemed a sweet enough child, however nervous." Once the letter was taken the woman moved to seat herself and draw the fabric she'd been stitching previous back to hand, but not before pressing coin into the child’s hand.

The Knight of Mercy looked to the child, and to Thairoa, slipping from the conversation he was having with the King on the matter of further operations against airship pirates in the Kingdom, to lift a brow in the direction of the pair. "My Queen, it should not be a surprise I think that a messenger would seek to find me here," Always 'My Queen' or 'Queen', and never Thairoa. A stark contrast to how he spoke to Arathys, which was more straightforward, and by name, or naming him as ‘War-Brother’ or ‘Old Friend.’ Perhaps a personal penance for the rude manner he used to speak with her when they first met, so many years ago, before the Peasant’s Rebellion. Arthandas took the letter from the woman, dipping his head deeply and opening it, reading the short script.

"Of course not, you come so often, are taken away from your own home so frequently. But I know for myself, I would not relinquish your company for the world. I am unrepentant in our stealing so much of your time. It is perhaps bad but there's little to be done,” Thairoa offered the Knight of Mercy, with a near-smile hovering over her lips in amusement.


King Arathys Blackthorne had been multitasking, committing to the discussion with Murcalus while fixing one of the children's toys. Some complicated wooden puzzle one of them had smashed against the wall in frustration. He suspected Brycen, but as children are, answers are rarely forthcoming. So, as fathers do, Arathys was doing his very best to repair the item while conducting business. With the arrival of his wife, he rose, put the broken puzzle toy aside, then brushed a kiss briefly to her cheek, before turning his attention to the boy. Apprehension was a reaction the towering Cambion of fearful reputation was used to, "Whatever your fears, boy, they have no place here. Vanquish them, and be good in spirit. No one will bring you harm here."

“Yes sir,” the lad looked up to Arathys, set somewhat at ease, though still a little tense as demonstrated by some awkward shuffling of feet and tugging at hems of his clothing. A child such as this, not from the city itself but raised in the countryside, was not accustomed to the grand figures he stood before. "Lady Lurien said that I sh-should wait and get an answer," the boy managed to muster, looking to Murcalus.

"What news, Murcalus?" The Vyssian Cambion inquired of his Hand.

The Queen adding, "Hopefully all is well?"

"My dearest Mother requests ... ah, no, it seems she demands our presence. Not saying so in so many words, but I do know she's insistent on the subject. Myself and you both, it seems. Probably just to remind us both that I'm still her son, and duties or no I need to visit more often. I'd expect to be chided like an unruly child, and then sent on your way with a full belly and a few bowls of leftovers. Such is Mother's way." Folding the letter back up and tucking it away in a pocket, looking to the boy and offering a playful smile. "He looks rather large and impressive, but I assure you, he's not that frightening, young man. Well, unless you're one of the bad guys." He gave the child a faigned suspicious look. "You're not one of the bad guys, are you? Ah, of course, I cannot speak for the King young man, but I will see that I join her without delay."

The Miroan-born King frowned. "There is only one that makes demands of me, and it is not your mother, as well thought of as she is." The one that can make demands of him was the redheaded queen in the room, whom he shared a brief glance with in wordless seeking of her thoughts, before turning his attention back to Murcalus. "Still... for so bold wording, the matter might be urgent." Arathys looked forlornly at the semi-repaired toy, and rose from his chair. "I will go, unless there is wisdom to the contrary," he stated, leaving open for Thairoa's opinion on the matter, before he simply took off, as he oft once did.

At the words of the two, the woman she shook her head, stopping with her needle and thread to speak and as well to see the conversation with the boy, "There are a multitude of people that make demands on your time, my lord." Even in small company the woman was still unrelentingly formal, "How often is it that they who are trying to take your time are one with whom we are truly
acquainted?"

A smile touched Thairoa’s lips at the teasing from the knight to the little boy, she added, "I find now with little time to spare in between what work needs to be done, whose knee needs to be kissed, which child needs hair brushed or combed and what meal is about to be put on the table, that I understand the Knight's good mother well enough. One has little time for beseeching
where it is not needed, and if the Lady Arthandas feels it necessary to call for the pair of you that it would be wisdom to answer. I have not met the woman but have heard of her deeds."

Placing aside her work, the Queen rose briskly "I shall see that which needs to be is made ready and that you've supplies for your journey. I'm sure there are some clothes here for you, Sir Arthandas from one of your stays with us. Perhaps for a quick reply your mother will send us good things from her gardens." A rustle of skirts and the staccato of heels, the woman whispered from the room, leaving it with a cool, spicy fragrance lingering in her wake.

"Sometimes, Old Friend, I think you forget my sense of humor. My mother is direct, and states what she'd like in plain terms. Something she well knows you appreciate. I was merely poking fun at her by saying it was a demand - admittedly poor wording on my part. Though, for me, it likely was in a way." Laughing quietly, and standing to cross his arms in front of his chest. "If there is some manner of trouble, however.. indeed, best to see to her request."

Murcalus’ brows rose a little at Thairoa, a little surprised that he had clothing hanging about, but likely he entirely forgot anything he may have left lingering about by mistake, among all of his duties for King and country. "Very well, My Queen. My thanks. I will see, of course, if Mother has anything she would be willing to send back. If you've any specific requests I would see them gathered myself. I wouldn't bother writing specific amounts. She will send twice anything requested, and then some, if you do."

"We'll be taking my War-Glider, have the stablehands bring our horses to it. We'll fly most of the way, then land just outside the property, as to not offend our druidic host. If this is indeed an urgent matter, that would be the swiftest way," Arathys stated as he moved to make his own preparations. Readying armor and sword were of no difficulty, since both were fashioned from Etheric energy and could be summoned forth at a moment's notice. However, clothing and other items required his attention and he set about gathering those things.

Arathys' horse, however was another matter. Fhangir did not respond well to others handling him, thanks both to an already fierce personality and the infernium barding he wore that 'influenced' his tendencies. One particular stable-hand, Perin, had managed to earn the infernally-influenced Northlandic charger's tolerance enough to allow him to handle him.

"Sometimes, I think I've lost my sense of humor." Arathys admitted to Murcalus, while moving to his study. "My wife and children make me smile, even laugh at times, but seeing all the insufferable things Gods do, to entertain themselves at the folly of mortal kind has made me ill of easy jest. When my time finally comes, I will stand before Kaal's Table and tell him a joke of my own." Kaal probably won't laugh, though perhaps this Avatar-slaying king may well have earned the right for such things. With Cael'mordiah fastened to his belt, and his great spectral Cloak of Infernal Shadows draped upon broad shoulders, Arathys seemed prepared to depart, and made purposeful gait for the eastern gate, and the landing where his War-Glider awaited.

Having disappeared with silent acknowledgment in terms of the mode of transportation, Thairoa only appeared one more time before the two made to begin the journey so abruptly initiated. With all her normal calm and slow deliberation, all was made ready. It was with that serenity that she appeared again once and gave each man the ‘gift’ of a bag with those things that they would need on the journey, unfailingly.

Speaking in reply to the King and his Hand as though it had not been intervening minutes between the last statements, Thairoa commented, "Perhaps it is good then that you take this journey, it may give time to reacquaint with one another, as well as what it is to be an adventurer instead of a ruler." While the impact of these events of the Benefactor’s War had left her scarred, the woman held those scars close and private, sharing little even with those closest to her and her manner had only taken on a bit more reserve, so as she moved to touch Arathys’ arm and quietly murmur a blessing with a faith that, while damaged, was still deep. The Queen of Vyss slipped his pack into his hand, then moved to give Murcalus a bag as well.

The Queen planted a Piece of paper into the Knight’s hand, "I feel odd giving a shopping list to you, but yet that is what it is. What the Lady is able to offer and these few things if she has them, the children at the temple will thank you." adding to the Knight "We have gardens plenty, but I think that things made and gathered by the hand of those we care about make themselves preferred and recommend themselves more fully." Placing a hand on the man’s wrist and repeating the blessing, asking the Twins to follow, to protect and guide and stepping back from the pair "Safe journey, my lords, minan al yissanoh vil kivan im ishaen," dropping a curtsey to them both.

"My thanks, My Queen. I will return your husband to you in neither too long, nor too short a time,” and, with farewells said, Thairoa whispered away with the softest of footsteps.

As the Knight walked alongside his King, he thought about the words from him, and nodded. "You've not lost it, my friend. Only placed it aside for a time. The world is healing, slowly, however it can. It's servants should do the same. Some of the gods are cruel, many still think of lives as pawns to be toyed with or trinkets for their amusement, that I cannot deny, but there are many who do still strive to leave mortals to their own devices, allow us to make our own paths with minimal interference except at the request of their faithful servants. My friend, you've suffered much. I don't mean the wounds of the body, as those ones you have never had much trouble healing. But wounds of the spirit dig deeper, leave scars that are far trickier to manage. I suppose then, part of my duty to ease the suffering of others charges me with devoting myself to making you laugh genuinely, War-Brother."

"I have not suffered any more than those we defended suffered. We lost a child, many families lost children. They will not be forgotten." Arathys spoke of Moon, whose loss still burnt him to the core, even after all these years. It was a message of promised fury engraved on his soul, that one day he would scream into the face of Synri and bring down all the Lords and Ladies of Chaos as he did so. For him, he was still fighting the Second Godswar, for Moon, all the other lives children lost, and families broken.

A mischievous smile creased the Arthandas man's features, as he opted to redirect the tone of the conversation. "Shall I tell you a joke?" Somewhere, men and women were groaning. Each and every one who'd been quarantined in the Infirmary during the Consumption had to suffer Murcalus' jokes. He was almost legendary for being terribly unfunny when he forced it. Murc did better with situational humor. Murcalus had little to ready, having most of his effects with him, and what he lacked provided by Thairoa. To the Queen, he bowed and offered a quiet.

The Cambion gave Murcalus a sidelong glance at the idea of a joke, and raised a raven brow. "Do so at your peril, my friend. A cambion's humor is hard to discover on the best of days." He did find a brief smile at that. Thanks to his infernal heritage, Arathys' humor tended to be darker than it should, though time with wife and children had lightened his heart a fair degree.


The character of Arathys Blackthorne belongs to T.A. Saunders. The characters of Thairoa Leathurah-Blackthorne and Lurien Arthandas belong to K. Johnson.
6000 or whatever years of civilization, of invention and progress and developing ourselves so that we might stand above all over creatures. creating a world where someone can stick a battery on his dick and shit on his dog
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Post by MurkTheJerk » Sun Nov 13, 2016 10:55 am

Chapter 4
Homecoming
Arthandas Orchards, near Brynmere Glade in the Windsong Republic. Bira 13, 1364


The journey was quick and uneventful, Arathys’ War-Glider delivering the pair from Shaalzar to Tal`Rah with no incident. Unsurprising, considering that Arathys’ personal transport was well known in the Imarelian skies, and there were few bold enough on Adanum to strike against him directly. After they landed, the pair rode the rest of the distance on their respective horses - Arathys on the infernally-influenced Fhangir, the impressive rider on an equally impressive warhorse. Murcalus’ steed was far less impressive and far less spirited. It wasn’t a War-Horse the Crusader was riding upon, but a reasonably meek riding horse. This made Murcalus something of a peculiarity among Crusaders, as nearly all of them possessed a War-Steed of some sort. Murcalus had been long awaiting the proper one, one he could relate to and partner well with, however had yet to find one he deemed appropriate.

The journey on horseback was likewise peaceful, though Arthandas found little peace in the silence of the trip between him and the stern King. The Crusader tried to lighten the mood by telling jokes, but unfortunately even a talented comedian was unlikely to break through Arathys’ severe visage, and Murcalus was renown for his knowledge of the worst jokes ever written in history.

“Okay, stop me if you’ve heard this one, Old Friend,” Arathys nearly groaned, “This one is rather popular back home. So, a Tashrani, Dean MacNamara, Arathys Blackthorne and Murcalus Arthandas were riding on a passanger airship from Am-Xitha to Sundown. The Tashrani took a sip of some firewater, then threw the bottle out the window. Dean looks at the Tashrani, aghast, asking him why he’d do such a thing. ‘In Tashran, the Firewater flows like water. I have no need to ration it.’ So, in response, Dean pulls out one of the MacNamara Sparrowhawks, fires a round off, and shatters the bottle mid-air. The Tashrani looks at Dean aghast,” Then, doing his best to imitate Dean, who was a close family friend and partner to his sister, Lauryl, “‘Ah, I don’ fuckin’ care ‘bout those. Has dozens o’them layin’ around back home.’ So, Arathys throws the Arthandas man off of the airship without a word!” Arathys didn’t seem amused, though Murcalus swore that he almost saw the Cambion’s lip twitch ever-so-slightly.

The Crusader considered it part of his duty to keep the burdens of the world from weighing too heavily upon his friend, always trying to do what he could to help him simply be a normal man once and awhile. Murcalus found, however, the longer he tried, the more it seemed Arathys was simply incapable of relaxing in such a way. That didn’t deter Murcalus, however. He had to keep trying to find ways to at least ease some of the weight off of his friend’s shoulders.

When they arrived at the Arthandas Family Orchards, Murcalus couldn’t help but feel home again. He’d been raised on these green, never-changing lands, with lands in full bloom, blossoms of fruits and sprouts of vegetables and lentils scattered all over the lands. There seemed to be no sign of any reason for the summoning on the lands, at least. Things were as they ever had been. It was refreshing, and the Crusader couldn’t help but smile faintly at the smells and sounds of the very place he spent so many fond years growing up. Arthandas Orchards were as peaceful as they were rich and full of life.

Murcalus noted new life, a new expansion to the lands, extending from the house that was the root of all things here, the birthplace of so much, both nature and children alike. The sight filled the Knight with a warm feeling as he and Arathys approached the home. Murcalus knew that his mother, a Druidess of Zorah, knew every inch of these lands, was aware of every twig snapped or fruit snagged from tree or bush, so it came as no surprise to see the Matron of the Arthandas family sitting before it, awaiting their arrival on a chair carved by the hands of her deceased husband under the shade of the eaves, using hands not accustomed to being idle to weave a basket of green reeds.

Lurien Arthandas was dressed in white, the Shei colour of mourning which she’d worn on each since Michael Arthandas passed away nearly two decades prior, a gown for every day and all of them near identical save for minor differences. The gown she wore this day possessed sleeves that fell to the wrists, tight about her arms, a neat bodice that rose high on her neck, an apron with a pocket that normally held a pad and pencil, and the hem down to the simple white boots. Not a speck or a mote of dirt or dust on her for all that she worked hard in the earth, and were one to look in her closet and drawers the colour had drained out of the day her husband had died. Only the baby blue hair that fell in waves behind her and the stern crystalline blue eyes were enough to break all of that pale constancy.

Murcalus’ crystalline blue eyes raised to settle on his mother. Murcalus brightened considerably at the sight of the elder Shei woman, almost anxious to rush forward, as he would upon returning home from hunting trips with his father as a child, to leap and embrace the woman. Of course, he did not this day, especially with the stern expression on her face. "Mira Talas, Nishi. You have summoned me, and I have come. And Arathys has saw fit to grace myself with his companionship for the journey, and grace you with answering your request for his presence. Is all well at home?"

Alongside Murcalus, the towering cambion dismounted and afforded a bow to the druid. "I see you, Lady Lurien. It pleases me to be asked to your fine home, though on what news I await your word."

Lurien's eyes didn't lift as the men approached, finishing the work that she was at with deliberation, though she didn't make them wait in the least. The elder Arthandas rose, brushing her hands together to rid them of the scraps of fibers from her weaving, which was set down beside her in completion. Murcalus’ mother just in time for them to dismount from their horses.standing small, delicate and diminutive in the shadow of bother her half-bred son and the Miroan-born King. Were it not for her straight backed, square-shouldered posture, Lurien would almost seem frail, however that and her demeanor made her seem much larger than she actually was.

Lurien’s lips curved up into a warm smile at the younger Athandas’ approach, "Dasai.. it has taken you long enough to arrive, I thought to send another messenger to meet you along the way and see if you were walking the distance here,"

"His legs are longer than mine. Would that I could move back home so as not to keep you waiting longer than, and stay here keeping my dearest mother company for the rest of our days, but I've duties to attend to, and a family to mind,” Murcalus remarked, leaning to offer his mother an affectionate kiss on the cheek.

"Next time I will bring him on my horse, Fhangir if all due speed is required, providing the temperamental beast does not buck him off." Arathys spared a brief, rare smile for the paladin, and grasped his shoulder for a moment.

"That poor horse, carrying both of you boys." As if calling a King and his Hand ‘boys’ were an everyday thing. The Druidess lifted her face to be kissed and wrapped her arms around her son in a firm embrace, "It is good you have come, I am pleased to see you as ever dear one. Arathys Blackthorne, I am glad to see you as well and it is good that you at least hurried. I am pleased to welcome you." As they had arrived at the same time it was the calm woman's tease to her child, indeed always his mother’s baby, and not merely the son that had not split himself from the family, she carried great pride over the strides that he had made in his life.

"All is not well, I have things to show you both there there is no time for sitting and catching up. Come along." Lurien reached out with one slender hand, gripping the quarterstaff that was high above her head, as though she did not have the two of them there to defend her if it came to that, for whatever reason.

Murcalus had grown up with the tone she spoke in, the forever summons forward, and while there was no tension in her voice, she was obviously concerned that they see what needed to be seen as quickly as possible. "I do not wish to fill your ears with what has happened and more allow you to see for yourselves in part, but I will tell you that there have been a great number of people that are missing. Neighbors, townspeople from the cities around this place. They have come, some of their families, to me because we are known." gesturing at Murcalus. "I will show you the missing first, your father is watching them," Lurien remarked, as she ushered them onward.

The pair of men followed, Murcalus resting hands casually on the hilts of the blades that rested on his hips, unbuckling Cael'mordiah from his belt and allowing the curved hilt of the sentient Etheric Warbrand to rest comfortably in his palm, without igniting the blade of the weapon.

"You will not need that this day Arathys Blackthorne.” Lurien led them into the orchards, passing down one very well traveled path that drew them past a copse of carefully tended trees, the place where Michael Arthandas lay, where Lurien herself would rest in time as well. The Half-Shei couldn’t help but grow somber as they passed that site, couldn’t shake the mixture of joy and sadness that touched his heart when he thought of the man, of their treks into the wilderness to hunt and track.

It was not here, much to Murcalus’ relief, that Lurien was leading the pair, but beyond down a smaller path.

Characters of Arathys Blackthorne and Dean MacNamara belong to T.A. Saunders. Characters of Lurien Arthandas and Lauryl Arthandas belong to K. Johnson.
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Post by MurkTheJerk » Mon Nov 14, 2016 10:04 am

Chapter 5
The Grove of the Lost
Arthandas Orchards, near Brynmere Glade in the Windsong Republic. Bira 13, 1364


The path Lurien led the two heroes down ended in a grove, one that the keen eyes of the Crusader noted showed extensive signs of passing, paths formed from men and women stepping between the trees from nearly all directions. Hanging from branches and settled near the base of trees were a number of items left by these people, the sight of which weighed heavily on the heart of Mercy’s Crusader. Hooded lanterns, clusters and baskets of flowers, small, handcrafted altars to various gods of Indaris, stuffed toys, photographs, and paintings. All things bore names, many names that suggested most were of Human, Shei or Asyndi blood. There were even names carved into some of the trees, a sight that spoke volumes to Murcalus, given his mother allowed none to take blade to the trees under her protection needlessly, not even her own children. A small stone bench rested within the grove as well, a thing that had been there years before Murcalus was even born, bearing a sign reading in a flowing script in both shei and common, ‘May the gods return them safely.’ All of this, besides the bench itself, were new to this place. To Murcalus’ recollection, he’d seen nothing like it before here on his mother’s lands.

"Word is spreading, further out and as more people learn about this place there are more coming. I have one other thing to show you and you have arrived in good time for that as tomorrow would be too late." Lurien spoke in a near whisper to the two younger men alongside her, though gesturing out to the grove and growing silent, that they might take a moment to see the sheer number of names of missing or dead in this place.

The Knight's expression grew somber, and he murmured a quiet prayer to Philisteenja, a hand grasping the divinium symbol in the likeness of a single white jayhawk feather that hung about his neck, under his robes. "...Mercy on their poor grieving hearts.. "

Arathys clenched his etheric War-Brand in his hand, jaw tightening and expression growing grim, even by the Cambion’s standards. Murcalus knew that this sight was pushing the limits of the King’s temperance, stirring up the infernal spark within him to draw out rage, however talented the man had grown at keeping that suppressed.

A couple made their way into the clearing from the opposite direction, a pair of Hillsman in their thirties. The woman leaned heavily on the man alongside her, curling into his shoulder with shoulders shaking with sobs muffled by the sturdier man’s shoulder. The man, Murcalus could tell merely by looking, was doing all he could to keep his composure, trying to remain strong for his partner where she could not. The grief-stricken parents knelt before a tree, settling a picture at the base of it.

“Excuse me a moment,” Murcalus offered his mother and Arathys quietly, before stepping forward from the treeline where the trio had been lingering. The Crusader didn’t make an effort to suppress his footfalls, so as not to catch the man and woman off guard, instead making a point to allow his robes to rustle against foliage and his steps to fall upon dry twigs to make more noise as he approached. The woman remained huddled against her partner, however the man raised his head to look at the approaching Knight.

“Apologies for my interruption. I merely came forward to offer to speak a prayer on your behalf. A thousand pardons if I intrude at a time you would instead wish to be left to yourselves,” Murcalus uttered quietly towards the couple.

Murcalus could barely offer, before the woman pulled away from her husband abruptly, reaching to grasp the Knight’s hand, staring up at his face with puffy, red eyes and choking out between sobs. “Please, please, give us your blessing. Please help us. Our daughter..”

“I once lost a daughter. I know the pain that settles in your hearts now.” The Cambion murmured from behind them, as he approached, after having observed a respectful bow in silence to each. “You have my word, not only as King of the people of Vyss and a Warrior of Miroa, but as a husband and father - the loss of the child will not go unanswered.” The couple’s expressions grew more hopeful at the Miroan-born King’s words, both bowing their heads and uttering quiet words of thanks.

Murcalus cast a small smile to his friend, and his words, before turning back to the woman and offering a sympathetic look. “Of course, friends.” The Knight offered a hand to the husband as well, who took it with a little more reservation than his wife. “Philisteenja, Spirit of Mercy, hear the plea of a humble Knight in your service. Know the suffering that this man and woman - that all of these men and women, fathers and mothers, grandparents and others that have come to this place. Keep watch over those who endure and wait, and grant them strength while they await word of those they’ve lost. Shelter those who you can, so that they may be delivered from whatever shadow looms, so that we may set these hearts which are suffering at ease.”

While Murcalus prayed with the grief-stricken pair, Arathys took a few steps backwards to speak with Lurien nearby. "Who is responsible for all this loss? We have had over a decade of peace, with almost all reminants of the Artificers, Grimshaw, minions of Xosian Avatars and Xirath purged from these lands. The worst Vyss has seen in five years are airship pirates... and they do not bring anything at such a scale. Give me a name, friend Lurien and I will see this set right."

Not having moved from her place, leaned on her husband's staff with her cheek against the wood, Lurien had been watching as the two approached the parents in silence, watching the men offer their reassuring words and their prayers. A familiar expression lingered on her features, one Murcalus remembered from when he left to lead in the War of the Benefactor. A mixture of pride and sorrow, the former for the men who stood before her, with great duties and responsibilities who would put all of those things on whole to see to the needs of the people. The latter, for the loss that these people suffered and the pain they endured.

“There are no names known to us,” Lurien replied as she moved forward to look at the photograph of the girl placed at the foot of the tree. Likely committing it to memory, if Murcalus could wager a guess, "I think the only reason this news has spread no further is that there are no bodies, there is no dead. People have been under the assumption that their children have run away in some cases, in others where the child is too young, they thought it an isolated matter. Whoever takes the children has been doing it in a way that would slow the understanding of just how many are gone. But as of this moment, there have been no known deaths."

Murcalus wasn’t sure, however, if that fact was a blessing or a curse.

"I will reserve a morning and evening prayer, for you and yours, for every day until these children are found," Words the Knight offered to the parents, though meaning not only the pair and missing daughter, but all who were lost, "And the children will be found. That, I will assure you of." Though Arthandas could make no honest promises with regards to them being alive, the least he could do were they not was offer them closure on the issue, "If there is anything that I, or we, may do between now and finding the children beyond offering my prayers, speak it. It will be seen to as best as reasonably possible."

“No, no more, sirs. Thank you. We have faith you will do all that you can..” The husband choked back his own sob, clutching his wife as she leaned into him again, though still maintaining most of his composure. A proud man, Murcalus could tell, who worked the land. A cornerstone to his family, possibly even to his community.

The Knight’s jaw set in determination, "If there was a more worthy task to undertake, old friend, I'd be fearing for the well-being of Imarel once more. Were it not my duty to see to this thing, I still could not refuse it. I must assist in finding these children. I know your morals, Arathys. I trust it will not be a matter seen to alone, of course."

"You will not go alone. None one of these lost children is a subject of my kingdom, none protected by our laws and our soldiers, yet we as men have a responsibility to them regardless, as the innocents of Imarel. It will not be soldiers that go on this hunt; Murcalus, Hand of the King, and Arathys, King of Vyss will ride out together, and bring those responsible for this low." The Cambion vowed, clenching a pale fist, the burning, ember-like glow of his eyes looking off into the distance.

"Perhaps Arathys, King of Vyss and his Hand.. or perhaps Arathys, Warrior of Miroa and Murcalus Knight of the Order of the White Jayhawk. Either may be needed, and as always, with men such as us.. we fill what role we need to fill when it needs to be filled, yes?" Normally that would be accompanied by a confident grin, but the Crusader didn't have it in him right now, instead speaking with a quiet tone and a grim cast to his features.

Arathys’ attention moved from where he had been staring, likely doing what he could to suppress Infernal instincts to lash out in rage, looking to Lurien again, "What more can you tell us? What clues have we that might aid in tracking down the kidnappers?"

Lurien approached the couplem setting down the picture finally and reaching her small fingers to touch the man and then the woman on their brows in benediction "Zorah watch you while you are here, children. Her peace on you." Between the Mother and Philisteenja they were bound to be safe there. The Arthandas woman drew her staff in closer and nodded to the two men "One other clue only, and I will take you to see her right now."

Character of Arathys Blackthorne belongs to T.A. Saunders. Character of Lurien Arthandas belongs to K. Johnson.
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Post by MurkTheJerk » Wed Nov 16, 2016 5:04 pm

Chapter 6
An Act of Mercy
Hunting Shack, Arthandas Orchards, Bira 13, 1364


The next path the Arthandas woman led them down was towards a small hunting shack. Murcalus remembered this place well from his youth, while his father was still alive. Michael Arthandas frequently took his children out this way, to teach them the ways of the forest, of hunting, fishing and most importantly of all, respect for nature. Often, for late night hunts, they would break for a meal in this place, or if the hour was too late to make it back to the main house in time, the children would simply sleep there, on one of the bedrolls or cots that were tucked away in the simple wooden lodging.

Outside of the shack, an elder, weary looking woman sat and tended to some crochet, only casting a brief glance up to the trio as they approached down the hunting trail. Lurien paused briefly to murmur a few words to the woman, who replied gravely, though both were quiet enough that even Murcalus’ keen Half-Shei ears couldn’t register anything. The Knight offered a bow to the woman in silence, deep and respectful. Arathys lowered his head slightly to the woman, offering a quiet “I see you, elder.”

After greetings were given, Lurien pushed open the door to the small, rustic cabin, casting a glance over her shoulder briefly to the men. “Dasai, do you recall a girl who came to the orchards during harvest to assist me, a young human whose family lived just down the way? Often, she would come just to watch the blossoms, or play in the fields. A girl by the name of Eriva, that was of an age with your son?”

Murcalus, of course, recalled the young lady. He and Lauryl had snuck away with her, many years ago, to teach her how to fish. The memory was a fond, familiar one. The girl had nothing but a pale dress to wear, nothing fitting for messing about at the bank of the stream that ran through the Arthandas properties, so Laurly had tackled Murcalus, and wrestled away his shirt, and marched away with her, returning clad in Lauryl’s clothes knotted so that they would fit for the time being, and Lauryl in her taller brother’s shirt, belted at the waist so it served as a short skirt. All three had laughed and jested as they approached the water, catching fish from the bountiful stream in the shallows with bare hands, and wrestled in the water with one another. The girl was nervous at first, but she relaxed in time and joined the older Arthandas’ in the merriment. The Knight recalled them all going back that evening to his mother’s house, and getting scolded for dragging mud inside, but were quickly forgiven as they offered a basket of the fish they had caught for dinner, though not so quick that it was before they could manage to clean themselves and the floor up. Thinking of these things, the simple pleasures of life, would have otherwise brought a smile to the Knight’s features, however given the circumstances of why Murcalus and Arathys were summoned, he could only draw in a slow, deep breath and wait for what come next.

The inside of the cabin was oppressively warm, the small fireplace to the far end of the single-room hunting shack blazing despite there really being no need, given the pleasant Bira weather outside. The shack was small, cozy, the Arthandas children having to take turns doubling up in the shack’s small bed, or alternate sleeping on the floor on occasions that they ventured out with their father. With little decoration, save a single plush chair near the fireplace, the hunting cabin was more functional than recreational. Besides the oppressive heat, an ill sense seemed to be settled on the room, a sense of death that was most often felt when nearing an elder who was touching the very twilight of their years, clinging on to life to merely say their last farewells and be on their way.

Lurien paused by the bed, murmuring a quiet prayer to Zorah before turning to the pair, “This is Eriva,” she murmured quietly, gesturing to a figure buried under layers upon layers of blankets. The figure underneath had little energy, it seemed, though on hearing the approach, milky white eyes opened and directed blindly at the King and his Hand. Eriva appeared frail, withered, with near translucent ashen skin touched by the faint color of blue veins underneath. Her hair - once a rich, golden brown was faded, grey, and thinning, ringlets replaced with matted tangles. Each breath from the girl was strained and raspy, barely drawing breath despite the effort she seemed to be trying to do so. Withered hands with wrinkled, sagging skin and knobby joints grasped at the blankets. The girl, who should have been no more than thirteen years old, could have been in her eighties or nineties.

Lurien continued, returning to the door, “She disappeared some months back. I found her stumbling back through the woods, in this state. She seemed barely able to carry on, but forced herself to regardless, at least long enough for me to get her here,” Spoken solemnly, before the elder Arthandas uttered a quiet pardon, and stepped out of the shack again.

The Crusader gasped at the revelation, slowly approaching the bed with a hand before his mouth, crystalline orbs wide and staring, kneeling beside the bed, “Gods. This isn’t possible. Eriva was but a little one, so full of life and spirit. How can this be?” Murcalus queried, as Arathys was a scholar, educated in the ways of Imarelian arcana. However wise and learned Lurien was, she clearly did not have answers if she called for them and not more healers.

"The sort of sorcery required to do a thing would be advanced chronomancy, though amongst the Miroan necromancers I have seen similar craft that withers, through stealing vitality, rather than advancing age temporally. It was used to torture the enemies of my father, from time to time. But nothing... nothing like this. What spineless coward would use such craft on a child?" Arathys uttered to the Knight, while quietly brushing back the hair of the woman-once-child with great sympathy.

"I would call upon the Spirit of Mercy to right this, yet Mercy sometimes eases suffering in unexpected ways at times. The sweat of man's brow, and the strength of their ideals, and often enough the sword arm does much more than asking boons of the Gods and Spirits on a matter such as this." Murcalus murmured, before slipping into Shei, as he did for all but few prayers, resting his Indarium blade across his knees as he spoke, head bowed. Asking of the Spirit he served for a Miracle, but not one to heal the girl. Instead pleading for a Miracle of the Mind, for a touch of insight. Murcalus' faith was strong, perhaps strong enough that the Spirit would answer his call for such a thing, but with the shape the girl was in, he didn't want to risk it, because Mercy could often simply be death in a case such as this. "Philsteenja, I beg of you, as your humble servant and agent of Mercy in this world, grant me the wisdom to see to this child's needs, grant me direction and guidance and lead me to what I must see to, to do your work on Adanum, and see this child's suffering eased. She is but young, and has so much life ahead of her, life that she may live to it's fullest well and unbroken, if only you grant me a fraction of your divine insight." With one hand on the half-constructed Rune-Blade, he reached the other out to ever-so-gently touch the hand of Eriva, a bare brush of fingertips on her withered skin.

A sense filled Murcalus’ mind, a familiar one of the Spirit he followed answering his prayer. Normally, it would come as a revelation, something realized but not direct. However, in this instance, a voice he could only assume was Philisteenja spoke into his mind directly. He could feel her presence, feel a hand on his shoulder and another on the hand that rested on the hilt of his weapon.

‘There is no blessing that can restore what is lost to the girl by these dark arts, My Knight. All that will be reaped from trying will be a miasma of pain, foulness, and suffering. You will need to release her, Murcalus Arthandas, however I will shelter her and see her reborn in Indaris.’

While the Knight pray and meditate, Arathy cast his eyes down to the girl, his normally powerful voice growing quiet, as soothing as the Miroan born King could manage, hand resting gently on her brow. "Is there anything you can tell us about who did this to you? Where they are, what they look like? Whatever shred of truth you can bring us will of help to find them."

Eriva managed a quiet rasp, her words difficult to hear, strained as her breath was, “There are so many there. Two to dark rooms, little cups, squeaks. Needles, tubes, pumps. His hair so black, eyes so green."

Arathys listened quietly, maintaining a strong visage, even if his heart filled with sorrow. For the Half-Demon, experiencing such emotions as this, and the sadness that followed, inevitably led to anger and wrath. This imagination ran wild with the notion that every kidnapped child would be put to this; a fate the once Warrior of Miroa would not suffer to pass. "Before it is done, you may wish the 'Warrior of Miroa' remained silent, for the edicts of Mercy you adhere to, old friend. Before it is done, whomever is responsible for this will beg me for the release of death."

Murcalus was silent when his friend spoke, silently contemplating what his patron asked of him. A few minutes passed, with nothing but the quiet rasping of Eriva’s breathing to mark the passing of seconds, before the Knight saw fit to speak again.

"The edicts I adhere to demand Mercy to all, to those who ask of it, and to those who do not. There are many interpretations of those edicts, many ways that they can be understood. In this case, the only Mercy that can be granted is swift death to the one who did this thing. I would ask of you only that, my friend. As much as your instincts might insist that you make them beg for death at your hands, I would instead beg of you that you but end the one whose actions caused this. I understand your view on such things. It is taking much of my discipline to not wish for the same. But we must rise above such things, my friend." He would not press further on that, however, at least not in the moment. Murcalus knew that Arathys would make his final decision on such things when the time came, when they knew the circumstances, and he could offer further opinion at that time.

Arathys didn't reply to his friend's call to mercy, though Murcalus knew the sometimes inscrutable facial expressions of the Cambion to know the 'we will see' look. While Arathys was not prone to torture even the most vile people who brought horror to his kingdom, he was rather prone to using exceeding amounts of force to stop them, and those who served such villains in their wake.

Milky eyes 'focused' for a moment on Murcalus, her hand shakily grasping the Knight’s with her own withered digits, sickly yellow nails pressing gently into the man’s flesh, "Lussy..I remember. Crossed the stream where you threw fish and long summers I'm s--" Eriva paused, to choke on a sob that slipped from her lips, the tears that rolled from her eyes were sickly and green, all the goodness of pure fresh grief stolen from her, "Sorry, I couldn't always keep up. Slowed you down, slow you down, slow--" falling off into the mumbles of the elderly, quiet self soothing nonsense, hand spasming in his.

Murcalus offered the girl a sad smile, nodding a little at the nickname that had been bestowed on him by his youngest sister, "Lussy, yes. Never be sorry. Sometimes one such as I needs to be slowed down a little, to appreciate the simple things. I think you did me more of a service than anything, Eriva." The Knight reached the sleeve of his robes to gently dab away some of the fetid tears, before looking back to Arathys.

Instead of speaking, and risking upsetting the girl, Arthandas opted to inform Arathys of his intent in Miroan sign. 'Mercy says that this child is too far gone with this affliction. That she will only know suffering and anguish in her last days, and die a horrible, painful death. I am to grant her Mercy, in the way of release from the burden of this affliction. I'm to kill her, or at very least, offer her the release of death so that she may make a choice for herself, if she's capable.' It took everything in the Knight to keep his composure, to not break down in a fit of rage, of despair. Even still, the Knight couldn't prevent himself from tearing up, streak of red trailed down his face, from the corner of his eye. Due to the alteration of his body as a result of one of his rune-tattoos, Murcalus couldn’t generate true tears any longer, instead crying tears of his own blood when overtaken by strong emotion.

It was impossible for the girl to know the sign language, and equally impossible for her to see the sharp gestures with sightless eyes, however her nails dug a little more into the Knight’s skin, “Please.. Let me go..” she wheezed out, eyelids fluttering. Perhaps Philisteenja too had words for the youth.

Arathys leaned over and brushed a kiss to the woman's brow, beginning to straighten once more.
As he did this, the woman’s other hand lashed out like a viper and snatched at the front of the Cambion’s shirt. "Eyes like mirrors.." she hissed, suddenly agitated again Her body might have writhed but she was too weak to move, too weak to do more than release her grip again on the front of the man’s clothes and let her hand fall away. Milky eyes gazed blindly at Murcalus, that brief movement had been enough to cause her pain and it showed on her face. "Please.." came the quiet whimper again.

"Your sacrifice will be honored. Go to Kaal's Table, and know pain no more." The King of Vyss nodded once to Murcalus, to strike the merciful blow, watching on with his head bowed.

The Knight knelt there, crimson tears still streaming down his face with little sign of stopping. Murcalus was a man of strong emotions, and the suffering of others caused him great pain, that it was a girl that he knew made what he had to do not at all easier. "Thank you, young one. We'll not see this go unanswered for. That you came this far, and stayed this long that you could provide us with this knowledge is a testament to your heroism. One day, we shall meet again at Kaal's table."

Murcalus searched through pouches about his belt, producing a small vial of Camina pollen, that he waved under the girl's nose so that she would drift into a peaceful slumber. Then, Mercy's Crusader shifted the girl's head into his lap and drew a divinium blade from his belt, and once the girl had fully slipped off, slid it into the back of her neck, between the third and fourth vertebrae. That was the best the Knight could offer her in the moment, a quick and painless death. No torment, no suffering, just a release from her agony. Thankfully, Murcalus chose a location of the body that tended not to bleed terribly, and even if he was off and nicked a larger blood vessel it would be onto his robes and not the bedding.

When the deed was done, he sat with his head bowed, murmuring a prayer for Philisteenja to watch over the girl, before looking up at the Cambion before him, with the gravest expression upon his face. "...Were I a lesser man, I would say that perhaps this time, I should turn a blind eye on whatever you wish to do to the one that has done this. Times like these I sort of wish I were, however." Bandaging the back of the girl's neck, so that she didn't bloody the linens, before settling her head back on the pillow.

"Without the ideals we choose, we are lawless, and not accountable for any action we take. As much as this angers me, I cannot yet say what would be most just. I will decide when the time comes. The time for vows of blood and wishes for darker things has past. We must piece together a course and direction to save these children first. Come. Tell me what you know of the land she described." The Cambion murmured to his friend, watching the girl’s remains somberly.

***

Lurien lingered in the doorway for a only moment as the two moved to speak to Eriva. Though a Human and not a long lived Shei, this girl should have had decades to raise a family and find great joy and great pain on own. Instead, there was this. With the door touching closed behind her the Arthandas woman moved out to sit on a small bench at the side of this modest shack and rest the back of her head with that liquid blue hair against the rough hewn wall. There had been so few times that the small firm woman had wept and none of them before eyes that could witness it, besides in the presence of her husband since she was a child. There was but once that any of her children had seen the deep grief that the woman carried with her, and that was when Murcalus had come to tell her that Senya was lost to them.

Lurien had survived children that had turned their backs on her and the family, a daughter that had gone off and vanished into the world for years without contact, and the woman had fueled and kept welcome this place for them all. This all harboured in a breast that had already suffered rejection by her own long lived clan until recently. The kidnap of these children and the state of one that was in memory connected to her own however, caused the woman's shoulders to wilt just a bit.

"Oh, Michael.." murmured softly from the woman's lips, as natural as any prayer that she could have uttered to Zorah. All those conversations that she had with her husband were little more than speaking crystal calls, distance and death doing nothing to deplete her reliance on his counsel than that she had to perceive his thoughts from the bend of a blade of grass or the clouds.

Lurien was never one to take to a knee for any, and prayer was nothing different. To Zorah she spoke like an old friend and confidant and to her deceased husband as though he were but in the next room. "You're going to have to watch after them this time I think." The elder Arthandas woman ran her fingers along the grooves marked in the length of the staff, silent and lost in thought for a time. A breeze lifted, blowing leaves through her hair and caressing her pale scalp, and Lurien couldn’t help but smile through the tears streaming down her face, looking to the direction of the wind.

As far as she was concerned, that was sign enough her prayer would be answered.

Character of Arathys Blackthorne belongs to T.A. Saunders. Characters of Lurien Arthandas and Lauryl Arthandas belong to K. Johnson.
6000 or whatever years of civilization, of invention and progress and developing ourselves so that we might stand above all over creatures. creating a world where someone can stick a battery on his dick and shit on his dog
-Dom.
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