Ashes from the Burnt Library: The Price Of Loyalty

- Maxim Archive.

Ashes from the Burnt Library: The Price Of Loyalty

Postby Lyssia » Fri Aug 08, 2003 4:23 pm

(OOC: Same rules as the other Ashes threads; if you wish to post here please contact me first as I have set ideas for what will occur here)


She ran her fingers over the rough outer walls of the temple, avoiding the words that had been painted there in the blood of acolytes. They were all so devouted to their church, to their God, that they would give up everything, even their life's blood in order to please Him. But did it really please Darden, seeing His followers paint His supposed teachings in the very fluid that gave life to their flesh? Who knew the answer to that question? Certainly not her, certainly not any of those who lived in the lands, such answers were the domain of the Gods alone. They alone truly knew what pleased or angered Them, there again perhaps nothing did either, perhaps mortals were as unable to affect the Gods as the souls of the departed could touch the living.

Lyssia had often said in past ages that the Gods merely looked upon the mortal wars of faith as being no more than amusement for Them. After all the mortal creatures of the isle were fleeting things compared to the Gods, birthed, living and dying in the blink of an immortal eye. Why should the Gods care one whit about those who worshipped them? Why should They pay even the slightest attention to the desperate prayers of the people of Tonan beyond amusing Themselves with what They were asked to do? People were always so anxious to curry the favour of the Gods, did they never wonder if the deities of the isle cared for them at all?

The words upon the wall proclaimed, in curling script, how all should be true to Darden and to Him alone. They spoke of who to put any other first in your thoughts was a sin against the Lord for He should be loved above all others. The Sidhe woman knew that the people of the red desert realm took this teaching to heart, believing in seriously. If asked who they loved each and every one of them would reply Darden before they even thought of friends and family. Ebony was as good an example of that as any, any who asked her if she loved her beastial son Silus would recieve the answer that yes of course she loved her son, she adored him and would always do so. But if asked if she loved him more than any other she would shake her head and reply that no, she did not, for she loved her God best of all.

Or rather those were the kind of answers that Ebony would give if she were awake and not trapped in a death-like slumber.

The sorceress shook her head and looked down, away from the words that fanatics and zealots had painted in blood. How she wished that Ebony would wake and take control of the red sands once more rather than leaving the burden upon Lyssia's shoulders. Leadership was not something that she enjoyed, she would much rather have preferred to never reach beyond the rank of advisor to those who found law-making more to their taste. Let others take charge and not her, though she could debate the smallest of matters all day she did not take well to making final decisions.

The strangest of sounds reached her ears...a yelp of unease echoing about the main settlement of the desert. The settlement was usually a quiet place, the people letting their actions speak rather than their words. Most of the desert tribesmen and women found words an unncessary distraction unless they were praying to their Lord of Sorrows. And never had she ever heard any of them scream or cry out, not even when they were injured in the thick of a battle. Instead of letting the pain overwhelm them the desert tribes taught their children to accept the sensations, to draw them inside and fuel them to fight back. So to hear even a yelp was unusual in the desert, she hoped that it did nt mean that some outsider had wandered into the desert and was being taught the 'errors' of his ways.

She walked hastily towards where the sound had come from, ducking into the cooler shadows that were cast by the low buildings of the settlement. For a moment she could not make out even the slightest detail of what was happening as her eyes tried to grow accustomed to the lower light of the shade. But slowly her eyes adjusted making out first a small gathering of tribespeople, all apparently keeping their distance from their 'visitor'. Then the Sidhe realised that each were carrying their swords unsheathed, blades pointed firmly in the direction of whoever it was that stood, or rather, crouched before them. Abomination, one of the tribesmen muttered darkly.

Lyssia took an involuntary step backwards as her eyes finally what out what it was that had caused the disturbance. A great beast of black stood on four feet, green eyes cast down to the ground as if it was fearful of meeting anyone's gaze. The creature's fur gleamed oily even in the shade of the buildingsas its wickedly sharp jet-black claws dug nervously into the sandy ground. At another time the sorceress might have been amused to stumble upon such a scene and hear the desert folk call the beast an 'Abomination', after all the creature looked an awful lot like Silus, the son of Ebony, except that while this one was black the Vision-Seeker's child was white-furred.

The beast looked up at its apparnt captors warily and then back past them, its eyes meeting hers and staring steadily. Though the sorceress could not understand why, she almost felt as though she should know the soul behind the eyes. Indeed from the expression on the creature's face she almost believed that it was recognising her. But was hardly a shock at all, not compared to when it began to speak. My lady, the words seemed to rumble in its chest as it stood and bowed its head to the ground. You do not remember me do you? Though why should you? It has been many ages since I stood before you in the last days of Gyppeswyk, and even longer before that when I stood before you in my true form and not the flesh that I now wear.

She was silent for a moment, trying to search her memories for any recollection of the creature that the tribespeople were slowly backing away from, their curious looks switching between the Sidhe woman and the beast. I must admit that I do not recall our meeting, the last days of the city are ones that I try not to remember in great detail.

I once served you, my lady, before all others, I would have laid down my life to ensure your safety. If you commanded it now I still think that I would do the same.

Dian?, she whispered softly.

The beast nodded its great shaggy head, Dian in spirit if not in body. I served only you, my lady, was loyal to only you, but now I come to you to beg that you answer a request of mine. Write down my story and the story of all those soldiers who went missing in the forests of Gyppeswyk so that when I die they are not forgotten. The missing soldiers, oh yes she remembered them, the ones who had gone out into the forests to patrol the borders one night and had never returned. Their tale had never been written down in the library of Gyppeswyk and so had never been lost when the library had brunt down but perhaps now that she was trying to ressurrect the stories it was also time to add to them.

She nodded and gestured for him to follow her, the armed tribesmen watching warily as the great black beast padded along behind the Sidhe woman. It was a little trial to fit both herself and Dian within her chamber but they managed it in the end. Taking out a fresh sheet of parchment and dipping the quill into the ink for the first time she looked up questioningly at Dian, waiting to set down his words.


[center]The Price of Loyalty[/center]

Of all the treasures that a warlord might lust after surely the loyalty of his followers must be one of the greatest of all. To experience the fact that a man will willingly follow another, even to the very portals of death and beyond, speaks of a loyalty that mere money could never buy. It cannot be forced from another, rather it is built up from respect and trust. While foolish despots and the like may think that they can earn loyalty with fear and oppression they are wrong, only realising their mistake as they see the blades oftheir apparently 'loyal' followers descending to take their heads.

This tale speaks of a loyalty and of an oath that was kept through all troubles, that could not be broken by the attacks of enemies or the abandonment of friends. If only all in the isle could experience such loyalty but most will never know more than a hint of it.
SO - Into darkness...
Hlasta! Quetis Ilfirimain
Elador's Sváss
User avatar
Lyssia
Pseudo-Voodoo Sidhe
 
Posts: 2123
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2002 5:00 pm
Location: Somewhere between yesterday and tomorrow

Postby Dian » Wed Aug 13, 2003 6:43 am

Many ages ago...

On the east coast of the isle a fair realm dedicated, apparently, to Foret stood, its capital perched on the very edge of the cliffs that stood as silent guardians against the ocean. The lands were green and fertile, bringing forth bountiful crops of grain and fruit each harvest-time. Though they had seen much hardship and trouble because of the wars of the isle the people were in the most part happy and content with their lot in life. The population were fae; selkie, elf, changling, even an eshu or two might be seen to pass through the lands, though those ones rarely stayed, tied as they were to the spirit of adventure. Once those of human blood had been welcome in the realm but that had changed a few ages before and now only one half-human remained, a councillor to the lady of the lands.

The capital city, Gyppeswyk, overlooked the sea on its east side but was surrounded by thick forest on the other compass points. There were rumours of all many of strange places that could be found within the embrace of the forest, circles of stone and even areas where the trees had become petrified, no longer living or putting out leaves. The truth of them were unknown to most, the majority of the lands merely acepted that there were some places outside Gyppeswyk that were best left well alone. Even the more mischevious of the realm were not so foolish as to try and satisfy their curiousity by visiting those places.

The sun shone down brightly over the pale stone that the city was constructed from, and at night the stone would almost seem to give out a gentle glow, lighting the streets better than any number of lamps ever could. Though little of the stone was mined anymore it was in great demand by the traders who came to Gyppeswyk, men and women who would pay vast sums of money to get their hands on even the smallest fragment of it. Any caught stealing it were lucky if they were simply escorted to the edge of the realm and nothing worse.

Great walls of stone surrounded the city, broken only by the great oaken gates to the west. Upon the gates were scribed three sets of runes, or rather it had until two ages before, since then one set was scored with a thousand blade marks, as if many people had tried to remove all trace of them from the wood. The top set of runes was untouched but their power was dead and cold, they were little more than a reminder of where the people had come from. The second set contained the power of the Sidhe Art, protecting and re-enforcing the natural strength of the oak. It was the third and lowest set that was marked, many now even refused to look upon them without spitting a curse in their direction.

To the south of the city was the temple district, once a thriving and most beautiful place now few ventured there. While the fae realm had pledged themselves to an alliance of the Eldest God Foret, few there still prayed to Him. His temples were for the most part left cold and empty, the dust settling where once the faithful had sat and prayed, the spiders spinning their gossamer-fine webs across the altars. Only the priests tended to the temples now and there were too few of them to watch over all the temples, instead they huddled together inside the main church, lamenting the downfall of religon and begging their Lord to usher the lady back to His faith.

The castle that was the lady's home watched over the city from the cliff's edge, the home of a great library of tales and stories that had been collected from all over the isle. Daily messengers would arrive to add to the collection and now and then a person would arrive to speak with the lady herself so that their tale might be recorded by her hand. Though the treasuries of the castle were deep and the armies strong, still there was no doubt in the people's minds that their greatest asset was the library of their leige-lady. Through it they remembered what had gone before and that knowledge would aid them even when money ran out and steel failed.

And over it all flew the banner of their alliance. But higher than that flew the banner of the lands, a magpie in flight upon a background of blue, a black crown about its neck and a quill clutched bwtween its claws.

Into this world had Dian of the Istansi family, a bloodline of selkies who had served Gyppeswyk with their life and their wit for many a generation. The youngest of his father's children, in earlier years Dian might have been given to the church to train as a priest. Instead, with faith a rare commodity to be found in Gyppeswyk, he had been schooled and prepared to join the armies. War had come easily to Dian, its tactics and puzzles proved to be no trouble to him and often had he come to the notice of the banshee commander of the forces, Sorrik, a woman known to have the ear of the lady herself. Many were already predicting a glorious future for Dian, whispering that it would not be long before Sorrik claimed him for her personal advisors.

Yes as he left his family's home that day, Dian smiled to himself, certain that the future was bright for him, unaware of what was to come.
Dian
Stablehand
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2002 5:00 pm
Location: Reading, UK

Postby Dian » Wed Aug 20, 2003 6:55 am

Dian walked along the pale cobbled streets, nodding a greeting to those he passed now and then. He was a handsome young man, one who had caught the eye of more than one young lady searching for a suitable match. Occansionally his parents would seek him out a possible bride, holding gatherings within their townhouse for other families of their high station. But everytime he was introduced to one young female or another he would do no more than smile politely and inquire as to their health, never saying the words but still making it abundantly clear that he had no interest in courting them. The thought of taking a wife did not scare the selkie, but rather he hoped one day to marry for love and not to further the ambitions of the houses of Gyppeswyk. Once he had told his mother so but she had just smiled sadly and shook her head, saying that it was not to be.

Many thought that Dian was more than a little niave to think that love would ever play a part in his life. Love was, intheir opinion, for those who could afford to fall prey to it and not the likes of him. The upper classes had no chance of love, not when their were deals to be made between one family and the next, power plays made at the marriage altar. The ruling families of the isle did marry for love, they married to make alliances between one realm and another, cementing the friendship between families or allies. But Dian refused to see it that way, he clung onto the idea that love existed and that one day he would take a wife because they loved one another, not because their families had brokered a deal.

Indeed, there was one woman who Dian favoured, one who seemed to have the ability to make his heart leap whenever he saw her. He doubted that she realised that she had that effect on him, doubted that she knew how he dreamed of her. It didn't matter if she was clothed for court or battle, in his eyes she was the most beautiful creature in the lands, wild and furious in war, quiet and reasonable in peace, clever and quick witted when it came to matters of tactics, terrible to behold in the heat of the fight. He had never managed to speak to her of his feelings, somehow it seemed inappropriate to talk of such things to his commanding officer. Oh but how he adored her, how he would have gladly laid down his life for that of the banshee Sorrik.

Others would have laughed at him if they had known, saying that Dian had lost his mind to fall in love with a banshee of all creatures. After all they were harbringers of death and destruction, not a creature that they'd want to take to their beds. Yes that was what others would say if he dared speak of his feelings, so he remained silent and played the part of the loyal subordinate and nothing more.

But he didn't stop dreaming, imagining what might happen if he could get her alone and tell her what was written upon his heart and within his soul. He had imagined many different possibly outcomes, both good and bad, replaying them in his dreams. He had imagined her laughing at his words, mocking him for saying such things. And he had imagined her taking offence at a mere selkie professing love for her, the commander of the forces. Such imaginings saddened him, but they were worth it because sometimes he would imagine pouring out his heart to her and hearing her respond favouribly to him.

It could happen, couldn't it?, he had asked himself time and again.

His fingers played with the chain about his neck as he thought of Sorrik, pressing the pendant that he wore into his palms. Each member of the ruling houses wore a similar item, marking them as a citizen of Gyppeswyk and more specifically as a member of their family. A little magic had been cast into it, just enough that it would heat up and burn the flesh of any who stole one and tried to pass themselves off as someone tha tthey weren't. Dian ran his fingers over the outer markings, not reading the words that were carved there. Instead he looked down at the central image, that of a winged horse, the symbol of the Istani family. And above the horse a bird soared in the metal, the mark of the city and the lady who ruled.

A bird that symbolised hope eternal.
[center]If your heart yearns to stay eternal,
If you dream of eternal renown,
Then dip down - from head to foot - into resin:
When everyone's gone, you'll stay on alone.
[/center]
Dian
Stablehand
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2002 5:00 pm
Location: Reading, UK

Postby Dian » Mon Sep 01, 2003 7:33 am

Dian made his way towards the castle, the pale white stone glistening in the early morning light. Overhead gulls wheeled and called out, splitting the air with their cries as they glided in the hands of the salt-heavy winds. Though he could not see it from where he stood, Dian knew that the fishing bosts in the harbour were probably out by now, riding the waves and throwing out their nets. They would return later, nets weighed down hopefully with their catch, ready to sell at the afternoon market as long as the winds blew them home safely. Men and women would hurry to the market stalls, eager to see what the new catches had brought in, some seeking out a specific fish for a promised meal, others just seeing what their coins would buy them.

It was almost strange to think that there was only so far that a boat could sail into that ocean when to any onlooker it seemed to stretch on forever. But somewhere out there, or so the stories went, there was a point that no man could sail past, a point that no one could cross. Some said that it was the work of the Gods, a barrier to keep all those who found themselves within the isle's boundaries there. Others said that it was just some effect of a great and terrible spell from the first ages of the isle and that in time it would disappear and free them all to explore beyond it. Still others said that it was simply the end of the world, that nothing existed beyond it and so no one could move beyond it. Somes in his idle moments Dian would think of that point beyond the lands and wish that he could travel there to see it with his own two eyes, testing his strength to see if he could move beyond it.

But it was only a summer's daydream, one that was easily put aside and forgotten about as the real world interjected.

Hail Dian, the familiar male voice broke into his thoughts, making him jump as though he'd just been rudely woken from a precious dream. Did I startle you? You'd best be a little more aware of your surroundings than that later today if you want to come back in one piece. The speaker was an older elf, his dark hair stained with grey about his brows and his eyes twinkling merrily at Dian's surprise. He wore the colours of the castle's private guard and had long served the lady of the lands, swearing as all others had to lay down his life in her service if it was needed. The elf's name was Drayitus and Dian still remembered how the old elf had pointed him in the right direction every time he had stumbled in his training.

Go back to your post old timer, you'll lose your drink to your fellows if they think you're gone too long, Dian joked in reply. He did have to admit that Drayitus was right on one thing though, he would have to be a lot more careful of his surroundings later even if he didn't expect any trouble. It was supposed to be a simple enough mission really, collect up a group of the younger troops from the barracks and patrol the forest to the west of the city. For the moment peace reigned over the region and they didn't expect to find anything beyond the wild creatures of the woods. Of course that was still no reason for him not to be on his guard.

Drayitus grinned broadly, pretending to clip the younger selkie about the ear, I don't know, young ones today have no respect for their elders. Get on with you Dian, the commander will be wanting to talk to you at the barracks before you leave and you don't want to keep her waiting.

Dian quickened his pace, nodding his goodbyes to his old friend as he hurried towards the castle's barracks. Even if he had not felt about Sorrik as he did still he would not have wanted to keep her waiting. A sane man just did not keep a woman like that waiting, not if he wanted to wake up the next dawn with all his limbs still attached. He'd seen Sorrik's temper, seen how it could descend upon a soul and turn even the bravest of men to quivering wretches. There was no need for torture within Gyppeswyk in order to gain information from captured prisoners; all they had to do was threaten them with the commander of the forces.
[center]If your heart yearns to stay eternal,
If you dream of eternal renown,
Then dip down - from head to foot - into resin:
When everyone's gone, you'll stay on alone.
[/center]
Dian
Stablehand
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2002 5:00 pm
Location: Reading, UK

Postby Dian » Tue Sep 02, 2003 11:12 am

He hurried through the open gates of the walls that surrounded the castle, nodding a quick greeting to the soldiers that let him pass deeper into the grounds. As he passed the castle itself Dian spared a quick look towards it, wondering what was going on within. The lady had recently returned from a journey outside Gyppeswyk's boundaries, outside the lands of their alliance, even outside lands held by those of Foret. The rumours had gone about saying that she had sought to destroy something, her and her companion the blue phoenix, Kara. Apparently whatever it had been had been important enough in her eyes to go herself rather than just sending a group of soldiers loyal to her.

The people had been worried at their leige-lady's absence from them, each day praying that she would soon return to them. And now she had...but the rumours still flew about the city. Rumours that she had returned alone, that something had happened to the phoenix and that even the lady herself was greatly changed. He didn't believe it himself, it was probably all down to some overtalkative maid within the castle whose words had been twisted as they passed from one person to another, losing all their original meaning. The lady was probably no more than tired from her trip away from the city, after all Foret only knew what she had had to face out there in heathen territories. And as for the blue phoenix not being with her, well it was absurd to even begin to think of such a thing.

Dian walked along the north path close to the castle's inner defensive walls towards the barracks that housed the younger members of the forces, those that still needed the close eye of their commanders. Once they had finished their training they would be allowed to live within the city itself or rent one of the small houses set aside for members of the military in the southern portion of the city near the temple district and close to the castle itself.

He had returned to his family home at the end of his training, nothing less had been expected. After all he was an Istani, though he would give his life for his lady and his city, that life would be lived within the boundaries of the family's control when he wasn't seeing to his duty. It was perhaps an outdated idea, one that he knew a lot of people laughed at behind the backs of the family. Never in front of them of course, the family had more than enough influence to not stand for any breaches of their honour. But still they were seen as something of a joke to others within the city, even others among the ruling classes.

The barracks lay spread out before him, younger soldiers already about their tasks for the day, cleaning, drilling, practising all that they were taught. Some barely looked old enough to be out of school, while other already had the haunted look of those who had already had their first taste of battle and been sickened by it. He remembered when he was like them, remembered his first battle and the first time that his sword had been coated with the blood of another. Dian remembered looked at the blood-slick sword and thinking that he would surely die in horror at what he had just done. But he hadn't, he'd lived on, though admittedly he had lost the meal that he'd eatn before battle as the scent of fresh blood had made him retch.

Over to the right stood a small band of fae, each looking distinctly uncomfortable and trying to avert their gaze from the woman who stood just a little way off from them. Sorrik, her hair the colour of fire bound up tightly and her eyes burning just as brightly, as always eager for the next fight. Those eyes fell upon him and he rushed towards her, stopping just short of where she stood and saluting smartly, his face a grim mask, ready to do whatever she asked of him.

You're late, she said sbruptly, You'll set a bad example for the young ones if you do that again. Then the look in her eyes became softer as it was joined by a touch of amusement, almost as if her telling him off had been nothing more than her teasing him. He didn't dare react, after all what if he was wrong? Anyway, these are your scouting group, all good recruits, none of them have seen a hint of battle yet. I'd rather that they came back that way, don't really want you running into trouble in the forest, don't expect you to either. I want you to take them up to the forest's borders, patrol as far south as the stone trees and as far north as Recene River. I'll expect you back by sunset, if you're not back by then I'll be sending out Aurelia's lot to find you and you wouldn't want that now would you?

No ma'am, he said, still wishing that he had the courage to look her directly in the eyes and make her see how he felt about her. But as soon as he had spoken she was gone and Dian was left with his twelve trainees, each one of them looking more like a schoolboy pretending to be a soldier than the real thing.
[center]If your heart yearns to stay eternal,
If you dream of eternal renown,
Then dip down - from head to foot - into resin:
When everyone's gone, you'll stay on alone.
[/center]
Dian
Stablehand
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2002 5:00 pm
Location: Reading, UK

Postby Dian » Fri Sep 05, 2003 10:57 am

Dian looked over his troops and sent a quiet prayer up to Foret that they would not find anything dangerous as they patrolled the edges of the forests. He had no wish to try and go up against a battle-toughened force with this rabble, they'd probably break and run before any of them split a drop of blood. And even if they did manage to draw their swords and stand their gound against a heathen group, was he really that sure that they wouldn't end up managing to draw their own blood rather than that of the enemy? No this was not a group ready for war, they had probably spent less than a handful of months at the barracks and were still learning the trade of a soldier. Maybe if they survived through the training and then through the long years of warring ahead of them then they might finally start to look like real soldiers, but Dian wasn't about to hold his breath for that to happen.

Still he had to made the most of what he had, try and get them to at least behave more like a disciplined force than a mob. A good soldier did not give up just because he had trainees under his command, no he tried to push them to their limits, make them realise that they could be so much more than they were. Oh he wasn't expecting miracles, but he had to hope that a neat marching formation wouldn't prove to be beyond them. He'd be the laughing stock of his peers if they caught sight of him leading the rabble through the city out of formation. Not to mention he'd probably end up losing half of them along the way as the pleasures of the world outside the barracks would catch their eyes.

No that would not do, he was determined to at least make the trainees look like proper soldiers, if only for the march through the city streets. It would hardly do for the citizens of the city of Gyppeswyk to think that this was the state of all of their military forces. The people would get disheartened if they thought that their defenses were manned by slack-jawed youths who barely seemed to know one end of their word from the other. And that sort of thing would get back to Sorrik, something he did not wish to have happen.

Perhaps this was all a test from her, his chance to show her how well he could do even when leading men who had only recieved the most basic of training. Many times during war he had seen the banshee commander lead out troops that were little more than drafted members of the populace. And even though it had seemed as though they would be going into their own deaths against proper soldiers, Sorrik had always managed to return safely with them, and normally with a victory under her belt. If he could just prove to her that he could do the same, though admittedly not onthe same scale as her, then maybe she would finally promote him to be by her side on the battlefield, to be her aide.

Well enough of daydreams, he muttered, turning back towards the bored looking trainees who regarded him as if they weren't entirely sure what he was. Dian cleared his voice and fixed them with what he hoped was a steely glare, Right, you lot, get yourselves in formation now. For a moment he didn;t think that they were going to obey him, that instead they were just going to stand there and continue to stare. But then they began to move, every step seeming to be the greatest of chores from the looks on their faces. Well at least he had won the first battle with them, they were going to do what he said, he would certainly have looked a fool if they had decided to challeng his authority.

It took several minutes before Dian was satisfied with the formation and confident enough that they would manage to stay in it while marching. When he filled in his report after this he would have to remember to make some comment on the level of training that the men had recieved. From the way they were behaving he couldn't help but wonder if they hadn't all just joined up the day before.

As they set off at a brisk pace, Dian spared one last moment to look towards the heavens, Foret help us...I think we may need it.
[center]If your heart yearns to stay eternal,
If you dream of eternal renown,
Then dip down - from head to foot - into resin:
When everyone's gone, you'll stay on alone.
[/center]
Dian
Stablehand
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2002 5:00 pm
Location: Reading, UK

Postby Dian » Tue Sep 09, 2003 4:54 pm

The soldiers marched in a fairly good formation out of the barracks and towards the gate that would let them out of the castle compound and into the city itself. Now that they were moving and seemingly able to keep time with one another Dian started to relax a little more. Perhapd things would not be do bad, maybe the trainees had just needed a few orders to knock them into shape. As they marched the trainees had managed to pull themslves together, standing up straighter and carrying themselves with a little more pride. As well they should, he thought to himself, they represent the power and the might of the city, they have sworn to die for it if needs be.

Just as he had. He had sworn to protect the city and its people no matter what enemy faced them, no matter what odds were thrown at them. And more than once he'd been called on to fulfil that oath, standing side by side with his fellows, sword drawn, waiting for the enemy to hit the city's walls. He would never forget that first battle when he had been ordered to help defend the city itself against the heathens that had managed to push their way past the outer-most defenses of the realm. His heart had been thundering, quick as the hoofbeats of a galloping horse across the plains. He had thought that he would die long before he even caught sight of the enemy, thought that his heart would just give out under the strain.

And then they had appeared out of the treeline, their weapons glittering darkly under the pale light of the moons. With shrieking war-cries the foe had rushed at the walls of the city, howls welling up from deep within their throats as they tried to frighten the defenders. He had thought that his nerve would break at the sound, had thought that he would just turn and run rather than face the enemy that had come to Gyppeswyk. But he hadn't, he'd stood there, keeping his ground and not letting the heathens see his fear.

Yes he'd been frightened that day, not that he'd ever admitted it to anyone, not even his fellows who had kept the city safe that night. Somehow Dian had thought that admitting that he had been afraid would make him seem weaker, less fit for a life in the army. No one ever shared the fact that they had been frightened in the battle line with the others, it was an unwritten rule that they all seemed to learn along the way.

Dian led the troops past the central fountain with its group of three statues in it. Originally there had only been two statues, a male and a female, tall and elegant, both almost regal and...somehow otherworldly, as though they were not truly a part of the physical world at all. But the history of the city went that when Foret and his siblings ascended to the heavens a third statue was added to the pool. A representation of the Lord where He could look over the lands of the faithful. Dian remembered standing for hours as a child, staring up at the statues, imagining that at any moment they would move, turning to look at him. His dreams and his nightmares had been filled with that idea, imaginging that the statues would come to life, sometimes smiling at him and sometimes terrifying him.

Past the fountain where people gathered and talked, down through the streets where the merchants bought and sold, through to the meaner parts of the city and then to the main gates themselves. The gates were wide open, letting travellers into and out of the city once the guards had checked them to be sure they weren't troublemakers. People moved out of the way as they saw Dian and his trainees come their way, knowing better than to impede those whose business was the safety of the city.

Out through the gates, across the empty ground between the city and the forest and into the green cool shadows beneath the trees. Well he'd got them this far without any trouble, a minor victory at least.
[center]If your heart yearns to stay eternal,
If you dream of eternal renown,
Then dip down - from head to foot - into resin:
When everyone's gone, you'll stay on alone.
[/center]
Dian
Stablehand
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2002 5:00 pm
Location: Reading, UK

Postby Dian » Mon Sep 15, 2003 10:30 am

The forest was not a natural environment for Dian, he was a selkie after all, more used to water than to land if the truuth was known. Given the choice he would happily have led a patrol on the eastern border of the city, that portion that was surrounded by the sea. Indeed usually in peacetime that was what he did, searching the seas for any sign of enemies trying to approach from that quarter of the compass. Most were sensible enough to realise that the steep cliffs and single port made invading Gyppeswyk from the east impossible. Most but not all. Now and then one more sea-faring alliance might try to bypass the high stone walls of the city and come from the ocean's waves. Such attacks didn't tend to get far against a city with a far portion of selkies in its army, just as their boats didn't get far once the selkies holed them from below the waves.

Still a good soldier could cope with any terrain he reminded himself even as he longed to be leading a patrol through the sea. He could lead as many patrols in the waves as he wanted but it would hardly go far to proving himself to Sorrik would it? No he had to show the commander that he could handle situations in just about any place that she sent him. Only if he could do that would he show her his full worth and maybe convince her that he was worth bringing into her personal staff. So he would try his best in the forest, he would somehow shape the trainees that he had been given into a force that could do everything that a veteran group could.

Well maybe that was hoping for a bit too much but if he aimed his sights high then at least he would always have something to strive towards. He had no doubt that this would not be a single scouting patrol for himself and the trainees. More than likely he would be ordered to take them out and patrol various areas with them till the end of their basic training at the barracks. If by then he had led them well and proved himself capable well then anything might be possible.

You and you, he gestured towards the nearest two trainees, Move out to the left and slightly ahead. You two do the same but on the right, either pairing spots anything I want one to remain and watch whatever's caught your eyes. The other of the pair is to return and report to the main group. You two and you two do the same on the right and left but slightly behind us, we don't want to get caught by an unexpected attack from any angle. The rest of you spread out in the middle with me, weapons to hand but moving silently I don't want to hear any chattering.

It almost surprised him how quickly they obeyed his orders, appearing more like real soldiers and less like green recruits with every passing moment. Now that he could see them concentrating on the task at hand Dian honestly thought that they really did have potential. If Sorrik left him to take the same group of twelve out all through their training then all of them could really benefit. He'd get the recognitition of leading a group of good soldiers and they'd get access to his experience of real warfare. So maybe he wasn't as experienced as someone like Drayitus of the castle guard but he'd still seen more than his fair share of bloodshed. Enough at least that he could pass on a few valuable lessons to keep the trainees alive through their first taste of war.

Though hopefully, if Foret was willing, it would be a while before they had to live through another attempted invasion by one of the other alliances of the isle.

The patrol moved out, each moving carefully and silently, away from the main road that led through the forest that surrounded the city. More than one patrol had caught enemy troops slinking through the trees, gathering information on the city's strengths and weaknesses, marking certain areas as good places for their own armies to launch an attack from. Once caught such foes did not last long, they might have only been doing their job but the defenders of Gyppeswyk could not allow such people to live and report back to whichever master or mistress held their leash.
[center]If your heart yearns to stay eternal,
If you dream of eternal renown,
Then dip down - from head to foot - into resin:
When everyone's gone, you'll stay on alone.
[/center]
Dian
Stablehand
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2002 5:00 pm
Location: Reading, UK

Postby Dian » Mon Sep 29, 2003 7:41 am

The hours passed slowly as Dian and his trainees passed through the dense forest, carefully leaving as little trail in their wake as possible. It would hardly do for an enemy to pick up their path and follow them, tracking them down and slaughtering them from behind. Besides leaving a trail could cause other problems, like giving away information about patrol routes. There was no need to leave that kind of knowledge about the place, heathens were usually all too willing to war against the fae city these days as it was without making it any easier for them. No, far better to make it difficult for any would-be invaders, keep them in the dark about where Gyppeswyk's soldiers walked.

They had already finished the more southern edge of their patrol, right up to the stone trees, an area of forest where nature gave way to something quite different. Not many people came this way save for the city's defenders, there was something about the place that set anyone's soul on edge. The trees weren't really stone though they had been given that nickname over the ages, rather they were petrified instead, several square miles worth of forest where nothing grew. Occasionally patrols would hear packs of what sounded like wild dogs howling in the depths of the stone trees but no one ever went in there to investigate further. Though no one knew exactly what was in there beyond all manner of rumour and legend it was taken as solid fact that those who went in there did not come out again.

The stories about the stone trees usually went along the lines of there being a ruined and forgotten temple to Foret hidden within the stand of trees. Rumour said that there was some treasure there that any man would be glad to just lay eyes upon. And as all such tales of treasure it gathered to itself those who were willing to risk everything they had for the chance to own it. Now and then a group of adventurers, or fools as most within the city believed, would turn, proclaiming that they were going into the stone forest. People would smile and nod at them, taking their money as they bought supplies, then they would wave them off, knowing that they would not be seen again.

And they never were, not by living eyes anyway. Though apparently the priests would often leave it for a month and then say prayers for the departed souls.

Dian had already gestured for his troops, as he was beginning to think of them, to start going back up north again. He never liked being near the stone forest, it almost felt as though...well he knew it sounded silly but it almost felt as though it was calling him sometimes. Almost as if it knew that one day he would venture within its depths. The selkie shuddered and was glad when they started to make good time away from the region, already looking forward to the greener and more pleasant north where the Recene River ran the end of its course through the forest. Even if he tended to find the ocean more pleasant than the trees he still had to admit that the forest about the river was glorious. Though secretly he would always believe that the most glorious part of it was watching the mighty river plunge over the edge of the cliff to form the high waterfall. A dangerous waterfall, there was no question of that, but stunning to behold.

It was just as they were passing into the more open section of forest that marked, for him, the nearness of the river that it began. It was like an itch at first, but not one that he could reach, it was like an itch inside his head, one that begged to be scratched. He wasn't the only one affected, Dian could see how the rest of his group were being distracted by the same thing, tossing their heads a little as if it might help.

But it didn't and the itch seemed to intensify, moving through his head and down his face, out along his flesh. It felt as though as thousand tiny insects were crawling across his flesh, though as he went to wipe them away he knew that there was nothing there. Then the true pain began, knocking each one of them off their feet, throwing them to the ground as if an invisible person had simply pushed them over. Each nerve-ending felt as though it were on fire, burning, searing, tongue of flame within lashing out at flesh and sinew. And the pressure...it seemed ot build up within his head, his hands pressed against his ears as if that might help. Not one of his troops seemed to be faring any better than him, each one writhing on the floor and crying out for Eldest to spare them this pain. What's going on?, he managed to call out in a whimper, though there were none to answer save for the cries of his men.
[center]If your heart yearns to stay eternal,
If you dream of eternal renown,
Then dip down - from head to foot - into resin:
When everyone's gone, you'll stay on alone.
[/center]
Dian
Stablehand
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2002 5:00 pm
Location: Reading, UK

Postby Dian » Fri Oct 03, 2003 6:19 am

The world about him didn't seem real anymore, it felt as though he could just reach out and tear it all apart if he wanted to. All the trees about him seemed more...alive almost, their colours brighter and yet their shapes were fantastical, impossible. Alive but less real. What had happened to him? He remembered the pain, remembered crying out, asking someone, anyone, what was happening, remembered that there hadn't been an answer. Was he still alive? Had he died and passed over? Was this all nothing more than a dream?

Dian struggled to get to his feet, somehow his body felt different, heavier almost, his balance all wrong. His legs and arms felt clumsy and unnatural, the selkie could only liken it to when he had been a child still getting used to his limbs. It was as though he had forgotten how to walk, how to use his body altogether and was having to relearn it all. Perhaps he had been drugged somehow, though he had no idea if that would explain away the pain that he and his men had suffered only a short time before. Maybe there had been heathens in the forest, ones that he had not noticed, maybe they cast some form of foul magic upon them all.

Everything seemed to be getting hazy, his memory, the unreal but alive world about him. Was he only dreaming?

It's going to be tough for you in the days ahead, a gruff male voice said out of no where, heavily accented like the northern traders that occansionally came to the city. Somehow the man's voice cut through all the confusion of haze in Dian's head, it was like a blade that cut through everything. He could feel the man next to him, helping him to his feet, steadying him when his body threatened to fall to the ground again.

Who...who are you?, he stuttered, wishing that he knew whether this was a dream or not. There again Dian was wishing for many things, like knowledge of where his trainees had gone, information about the pain they had suffered, to simply be back at home and safe once more. The old family house had at times when he was growing up seemed like a prison to the young selkie, a place to be broken free of. What would his younger self have thought to know he would one day long to be back there?

The man was dressed roughly, his clothes simple and plain, the clothes of a wanderer or at least of someone who did not live in comfort. There was a good natured twinkle in his eyes, one that had not been worn down by the years that his weather-beaten skin spoke of. He leaned on a wooden staff, an item that looked more like a walking stick than a wizard's artifact of power. Who am I? Well let's leave it at me being a friend. And a man who can see a little more of the past, the present and the future than any normal soul has a right to. The man paused and smiled sadly at Dian, The times ahead are going to be hard for you and yours, one will die by a magic that's yet to be tamed, the rest will run wild. You're going to be feared by those you once protected, they've even hunt you.

Fear blossomed in his heart, the people of the city would fear him? But why? I haven't brought any harm to them, I wanted only to protect them from the heathen forces, what's so wrong with that? Why will they hunt us?

His new friend shook his head, Because they won't remember you, or rather they will but they won't recognise you. The pain, you remember that don't you? Was wild magic Dian, wild and dangerous stuff. Those within the city, well they were safe from it, there's protections cast into the stones of that place. But you and your troops, well you weren't within the city were you, you were outside any protection the city might have offered. Wild magic does what it likes you see, especially when it comes to creatures of flesh and bone, be thankful at least that you've been left alive.

The wanderer started to walk away from Dian, leaving the selkie to reach out to him and fall short of his mark. Without the man to steady him he fell back to thr ground, Please, you must help us.

This is beyond my skills I'm afraid. But as I said, we thankful, you're still alive, and while there's life, there's hope. And he was gone, leaving Dian alone in a world that looked like, and yet was so different to, his own.
[center]If your heart yearns to stay eternal,
If you dream of eternal renown,
Then dip down - from head to foot - into resin:
When everyone's gone, you'll stay on alone.
[/center]
Dian
Stablehand
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2002 5:00 pm
Location: Reading, UK

Postby Dian » Tue Oct 07, 2003 8:29 am

Dian shook his head, trying to clear it of the fuzz and confusion that seemed to have filled it recently. The man, the wanderer, whoever he had been, was gone now, leaving not even a trace of his passing. The selkie looked down at the ground where the man had walked but there was nothing there, not even the grass seemed to have been trampled. Had he just imagined the whole meeting and conversation? Could it be that the pain he had suffered earlier had made him see and hear things? He'd heard of similar things happening to other before, pain and suffering making even the hardiest of soldiers hallucinate the miraculous and the impossible.

Guess I must not have much of an imagination, he muttered to himself, raising one hand to his head. His arm felt wrong, too heavy and almost as though it was the wrong shape to what his mind was expecting. And when he put it to his head it felt wrong, again it felt heavier, bigger, almost as though it was covered in something. Some people have hallucinations and imagine beautiful women or visitations by the Gods. What do I get? I get some strange old wanderer muttering about wild magic and the people of Gyppeswyk being afraid of him.

Wild magic, obviously he knew what that was, he'd been taught all about it from a young age. After all living within a fae city where so many inhabitants had some modicum of magical talent the occurance of wild magic was a very real risk. It was the very reason that there were so many protective spells cast into the stones of the city, to protect the people against it happening. Every so often there would be an out-break of it, someone losing their grip upon their magic.

Magic was a powerful and dangerous force after all, if the weilder wasn't careful it would cease to obey their will and start to obey its own. That was wild magic, magic that had ceased to listen to the one it was tied to, one that was moving with a purpose all of its own. But for a case of wild magic to have come from the city and reached his men all the way out in the forest? No it was impossible, there was no one in the city with that kind of magical potential. Save for the lady herself and well a Sidhe was hardly likely to have lost control of the magic in her blood, was she?

Again Dian shook his head, but it did little to clear the feelings in his head. He could hear the trickling of water from nearby, could almost smell it, a strange sensation really. His legs didn't seem to want to obey him at first as he tried to make his way towards the water. He couldn't see any of his scouting group in the area, though they had to be nearby. If he could just clear his head, plunge it into the water he could hear, then he would be able to find them and lead them back to the city. He'd have to make a report of what they encountered of course, maybe Sorrik would send out a mage with the next patrol to investigate further.

Just before him Dian could make out a stream of water, leaf-filtered sunlight slinting off its surface. The mere sight of it made him feel thirsty beyond belief and he hurried towards it, his body still seeming to refuse keep its balance as though he had forgotten how to stand on his legs. He fell to his hands and feet, rushing towards the water, almost as though it were easier to move that way. He reached the stream and was just about to lower his head to drink when he saw something staring back at him from the water's depths.

A monstrous something. Black fur, long and unkept, teeth like a wolf's, sharp and made for tearing and ripping. Not a man, not a selkie. a beast though not like any he had ever encountered in the forest before. He scrambled backwards, fumbling for his sword, expecting the beast to leap up at him from beneath the water. But his sword wasn't there and his hands seemed unable to move as he wanted them, and the beast did not appear from beneath the depths. He looked down at his hands, but they weren't his hands, they were paws, black fur covered and clawed like a beasts.

A beast.

The beast in the water.

No more than his reflection.
[center]If your heart yearns to stay eternal,
If you dream of eternal renown,
Then dip down - from head to foot - into resin:
When everyone's gone, you'll stay on alone.
[/center]
Dian
Stablehand
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2002 5:00 pm
Location: Reading, UK

Postby Dian » Tue Oct 14, 2003 7:25 am

What's happened to me?, Dian cried out, barely able to accept that the reflection that he'd seen in the water was his. The thing in the water wasn't him, it was a twisting of nature, a terrible beast to behold, something that nature had never intented to occur. His flesh was not his own any longer, no more was he the selkie that his parents had brought into the world and raised. Something had changed him and all that he was, something had taken his form from him and replaced with the hideous creature that he had seen in the water. He had been remade in the image of a creature that was all fangs and fur, claws and hunger, he was no longer the man that he had once been.

Could it have been wild magic as the strange wanderer had said? Could some great force of magic have gotten loose and twisted him into what he had seen in the water? But what, or who, could have been so powerful as to contain so much magic to begin with? Powerful mages did not suddenly lose control and let their magic go wild, men and women of magic who rose to that level of understanding were strong willed, they did not suffer as lesser-mages did. Perhaps then it had been caused by some natural flow of magic in the area, unleashing itself upon the path that his troops had taken. But how would such a thing go unnoticed?

Slowly he crept back to the water's edge, moving more as the beast that he appeared to be and less as the man that he had been. With fearful eyes he looked into the water once more, hoping that his own face would meet his gaze and not the fearful visage of the beast. But it was still there, his own eyes but the face of a beast. If he had seen such a creature in his path he would not have hesitated to draw his sword for surely he would not have thought something that looked like that to be anything but evil. But he knew he wasn't evil, he was a man, a man trapped in a body that most certainly wasn't his own.

Dian raised one clawed paw, smashing it down into the water to disturb the image that looked back at him. I'm supposed to be thankful for this?, he growled, as if the wanderer might appear and hear his words. How could he be thankful for being alive if he looked like he did? He would have rather died a man than live in a form so hideous and unlike his own, better to die than be as he now appeared to be. I'm supposed to be thankful for being forced to live like this?

How could anyone look beyond the flesh that his mind was now encased in and see the selkie that he head been? They wouldn't see the mind behind the eyes, they would just see the beast, the terrible beast that prowled their lands. They wouldn't want to help him, they'd want to hunt him, fearing him a terror and a danger to their homes and family. Who would possibly want to wait and think of listening to what he had to say? No they'd see him and jump to conclusions, breaking out spears and sword, gathering together hunters to slay the beast. Just as he would have done in their shoes.

What hope was there?

And what had happened to the rest of his men? Where they in the same state as him? The wanderer's words had seemed to suggest that the wild magic had worked upon them but left them alive just as he was. He had to find them, he couldn't leave them confused and lost as he was, if they were all suffering then it would be better to gather together. Perhaps as one group they would be able to come up with some idea of what to do. He just had to find them first and hope that they hadn't travelled too far from the initial site where he had woken up.
[center]If your heart yearns to stay eternal,
If you dream of eternal renown,
Then dip down - from head to foot - into resin:
When everyone's gone, you'll stay on alone.
[/center]
Dian
Stablehand
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2002 5:00 pm
Location: Reading, UK

Postby Dian » Tue Oct 21, 2003 6:09 am

He prowled, that was the only word he could think of that accurately described how he moved through the forest. Walking on two feet was a trial, his body no longer seemed able to move that way, the bones within changing till even balancing on his feets alone was difficult. It seemed easier, almost more natural, though he hated to admit that even to himself, to walk on his hands and feets. perhaps he should start thinking of them as fore and back paws instead, that thought sent a wave of revulsion and fear through him. Though Dian shuddered there was no way he could call his hands...well he couldn't call them hands anymore, paws was more a better description. There was no way that they could hold a sword anymore, there again with the claws that sprouted him the tips he hardly had need of a man-made blade anymore.

The world around him was different, no it wasn't really, it was just his perspective of it that had changed. His sight, the sense that had always seemed so important, now almost seemed to be dulled, but he didn't feel afraid as his others were making up for it. HIs hearing was far better than it had ever been, even to the point where the rustling of the leaves sounded like the tress talking to one another. And his sense of smell, well never had he imagined that the world could be like this. The smells were almost like extra colours around him, the trails of others weaving about him through their scents.

Different and more full of wonder, that was what the world seemed like to him, minor things before seemed like the greatest of miracles to his almost bewildered senses. He could nearly sense the life in the forest about him, the animals and insects that wove a web together and kept the whole alive. When he had looked through the eyes of selkie he had almost thought the forest empty, silent, nothing moving, nothing really living except maybe for a handful of birds in the trees above him. Now he knew how wrong he had been, the forest was fit to bursting with life, in the ground, in the air, hidden amongst the vegetation and disguised in plain sight. It seemed ridiculous that he had missed it all before, had he walked through life with his eyes closed to it?

Finding his way back to the place where he had first woken up after the pain was easy, his own path was there, as clearly set before him as if he had painted a line behind him and was just following it back. He could almost have enjoyed his new form if his mind did not keep whispering to him that he looked like a monster out of some child's tale. However wonderful the world looked to him, his mind still made him more than well aware of the fact that the world would not see him as 'wonderful'. They might think him a danger, a threat, something to be done away with before it brought harm. They would not see the wodners that he did, they would only see the threat and want to do away with it, with him.

Dian's thoughts were so tangled that he did not sense the attack till it was almost too late, avoiding the slicing swipe to his left side by only a hair's breath. Monstercame the frightened cry from his assailant as Dian turned to face his foe and saw...and saw somehting that was not so very different to him.

No wait, he forced the words through his throat, backing off to try and show that he meant no harm. The last thing he needed at that moment was for another poor soul in the same state as him to think that he had come to harm him. If his group were all turned by the wild magic, each one of them looking like he was, then he would need to protect them, from those that would see only the beast, from each other and from themselves. It's me, it's Dian, I led you out from the barracks this morning, we were to patrol the forest and report back.

The beast before him seemed about to launch another attack, not listening to his words. Then suddenly the creature's body relaxed, falling to the ground, hiding its face behind its paws and weeping. Dian padded over, unsure exactly how to comfort the changed recruit. It'll be alright, he said as softly as his altered body would allow him, We'll find a way to sort it all out.He just wished that he could believe his own words.
[center]If your heart yearns to stay eternal,
If you dream of eternal renown,
Then dip down - from head to foot - into resin:
When everyone's gone, you'll stay on alone.
[/center]
Dian
Stablehand
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2002 5:00 pm
Location: Reading, UK

Postby Dian » Mon Oct 27, 2003 8:15 am

We could at...at...at least try to make the gate guard listen? What would it c-c-c-cost us? What's the worse that c-c-c-could happen? One of the younger recruits managed to say, the words sounding strange as he tried to form them in a throat that seemed to make talking more and more difficult as time passed. Each of them knew that that was the truth, though they had not spoken much of it, it was becoming more difficult to speak in their native language. For some it was as though their throats were still changing, still altering, becoming more that of a beast's than a man's. For others it was due to a pressure in their head, a void within their minds that seemed to be sucking away at all the thoughts, words and memories that made them who they had been.

No, Dian growled in reply, surprising himself at how little the word sounded like it had been spoken by him. You know what will happen as much as...as...as I do. They'll take one look at...at...at us and think that we're the forerunners of some invasion. We'll...we'll we stuck full of arrows before we even get a word of...of...of explanation out. His head hurt from talking and he wanted nothing more than to make it all go away, to stop the throbbing pain in his mind.

What d-d-d-do we do then?, another cried out, panic edging his words.

Dian didn't answer, what could he tell them? That he, as their commanding officer, could not think of anyway to get them to the one person that he thought could help them? That would hardly help morale and the recruits were already low, frightened and scared by what had happened them them. If he admitted that he felt the same way...well there was only path that that course of action would lead down, and it was a path that would probably lead to the lot of them dying either at each other's claws or on the swords of the gate guard of the city. he couldn't allow that to happen, he had to continue to appear strong and in control of the situation, or at least as in control as anyone could be if they were in his place.

So what options were before him? Approaching the gate and trying to ask for aid? No as he had already told the others that wouldn't work, one look at them and the guards there would attack. Sneaking into the city? After all they had all lived there for a goodly portion of their years, some like him had been there from birth, surely they knew all the ways to get into and out of the city? Well yes possibly they did, but they knew all the ways for a fae to get into and out of the city, not a beast that was rather larger. They could wait, he supposed, after all sooner or later Commander Sorrik would start to wonder what had happened to his patrol and send out another. And then what? Revealing themselves in their current forms to another patrol would only result in battle and he had no wish to go against those who were his allies.

What then? What was he to do? He had sworn to protect the city but now its own defenders would...Sworn to protect the city, he breathed the words, wondering, as his family pendant swung against his chest, the only thing that remained of the man he had once been. It would identify him to those that knew the city, no other soul could bear the pendant of the Istani family, only those of its bloodline. Perhaps there was nothing that he and his men could do now but given time...

He pushed himself up onto all fours, fixing each one of his frightened recruits with a commanding stare. Listen, He barked, ensuring that he had the undivided attention of each and every one of them. You're frightened, I know that. And you...you...you want to go back to how things were, but they can't. Not yet at...at...at least. But all of us made a promise, we promised that we would defend the city no matter what, that's a promise we can keep, even now. If we...we...we continue in our duty, defending this forest, defending our homes and our family, though they might not know it, then perhaps one day, those within the city will come to wonder at us. At the strange beasts within the...the...the forest. And they'll recognise this pendant, one claw pointed towards the metal pendant that nestled against his fur. They'll know who we really are and help us. All we have to do is keep our promise.
[center]If your heart yearns to stay eternal,
If you dream of eternal renown,
Then dip down - from head to foot - into resin:
When everyone's gone, you'll stay on alone.
[/center]
Dian
Stablehand
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2002 5:00 pm
Location: Reading, UK

Postby Lyssia » Wed Oct 29, 2003 11:02 am

We kept our promise, just as we said we would, we kept it no matter what happened to us, Dian's voice changed suddenly, making Lyssia look up. She realised then that he had stopped telling his tale, no longer looking into the past but rather at her. He wanted something from her, he wanted to know that he had done the right thing, he wanted answers for what had happened to him and his recruits. The sorceress had the answers that he craved, she could tell him everything that he wanted to know, but a question haunted her. Should she tell him the answers or would that do more harm than good? No one had that answer, no one could just appear and tell her one way or another, she had to make her own decision and hope that it was the right one.

She reached out and laid one hand upon the great black-furred beast that had once been a soldier in the armies of the city. Yes I know you did, you kept your promise, you defended the city against foes that we could not imagine. While the rest of us had the walls of the city and the pleasures of hearth and home you had that taken from you. No one would have blamed you if you had forsaken your vows of service, no one would have faulted you if you had sought out a cure for yourselves rather than protecting a place that feared you. We should have honoured you and because we did not I am sorry. They had been loyal, far more loyal than she deserved and that fact was like a fiery grip about her heart. She hadn't deserved them, they had suffered but they had not fallen, no they had remained guardians of the city. Even when the city fell they had still been there, they had remained with her, making sure that none ever disturbed her, though Dian had not been among that later number. She hadn't realised that it was them, hadn't understood the true natures of the beasts that prowled the forestlands.

He had spoken earlier of how he had once stood before her in his changed form, in the last days of Gyppeswyk. She remembered that time, remembered how she had given Sorrik and Dian leave to journey away from the city, to follow the quest that had tied their hearts together. But not until he had told her his story had she realised how difficult it must have been, even with her blessing to leave the place and the people that he had protected for so long. For him his loyalty had been everything, he had sworn an oath to protect his home and nothing, not even the warping effects of the wild magic had been able to make him break that vow.

I thank you, my lady, but you have no need to apologise to me, we knew where our duty lay, nothing in the isle could have turned us from it. Lyssia knew that it was not an idle boast but rather the truth, spoken as plainly as he knew how. She had watched the defenders of Gyppeswyk fight for their homelands, protecting them even if it meant sacrificing themselves. They had never thrown their lives away recklessly, eager for death as she sometimes thought that the tribes of the desert were. No they had died in order for their homes and family to be safe, not eager for death but accepting of it if it was their time to die.

I know but...her voice trailed off, the rest of the sentance left unspoken. She closed her eyes for a moment, trying to direct her thoughts off in another way, knowing that however much she owed it to Dian she couldn't finish what she had begun to say. But there must be something I can do to aid you, perhaps even turn you back to what you were.

No, the single word was spoken with more force than she had expected from him. No, he said again, more softly the second time, There is nothing that can be done for me, not by Sidhe magic, I have come to know that now. Perhaps there will be an end to my troubles one day but for now I cannot rest and find it, for now I need this form, I need it to protect those that I care about. She didn't need him to tell her who he meant, she knew well enough who it was that he cared for above all others after he had been released from his vow of loyalty to the city.

But tell me Dian, tell me of the others, the ones like you. And of Sorrik, is she well? How fared your quest? It was easier to ask him questions, to make him speak and concentrate on his words rather than listen to the voices in her head, the ones that chastised her for being too much of a coward to admit the truth to the one soul who deserved it more than any other.

Dian himself did not seem to notice the turmoil that was churning up the sorceress's thoughts, instead turning himself to answering her questions. The other changed ones? They remain in the forests of Gyppeswyk, protecting it though they no longer really remember why they do it. They have forgotten most of their lives as men, the wild magic changed the flesh quickly but worked its mischief more slowly upon their minds. I was in no better state than they are now when Sorrik found me, somehow her presence pulled me back, helped me remember that I was not a beast, made me remember what I was. Just as the traveller I met prophesised one of us fell by magic while the city stood, but the rest remain wild and free, feared by those who would otherwise look greedily upon the ruins of Gyppeswyk.

As for Sorrik now and our quest, it continues and we have no hope for an end to it yet. Perhaps it shall have no end, but I hope that I am wrong there, for until there is an end to the questing we cannot rest or call a place home. I would like to have a place to call home again,
he said wistfully. But I cannot remain still, I must move on, even now the quest calls me to return to it. He pushed himself back to his feet and in silence walked out of the small chamber, heading back the way he had come. She followed him out, knowing that he had spoken his piece and that there was no more for him left to say.

At the edge of the city Lyssia watched him go, watched the great black beast grow smaller and smaller till he was no more than a smudge on the horizon. There had been one last answer that he had wanted, one that she had not been able to tell him. Not because she didn't possess the answer but rather because she didn't want to admit it aloud.

She didn't want to admit that it was all her fault.


(OOC: This Ashes thread is now finished.)
SO - Into darkness...
Hlasta! Quetis Ilfirimain
Elador's Sváss
User avatar
Lyssia
Pseudo-Voodoo Sidhe
 
Posts: 2123
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2002 5:00 pm
Location: Somewhere between yesterday and tomorrow


Return to Maxim Archive

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users

cron