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    Default Ash's test and prison escape.

    The councilman leaned back in his chair as Father and his second in command left his office to go and have a talk with Ashvel. He felt sorry for the young Vampire, but there was nothing he could do about it. If he tried to go against that man his family would suffer the consequences, and that was something he couldn't allow. So, he would have to take precautions to ensure he is never caught. So, he waited for a bit before he got up out of his chair and walked to the door locking it.

    Lucky for him the people in the prison wouldn’t bother him as long as the door was locked. As soon as that was done he returned to his chair he opened a drawer in his desk and clicked a hidden switch at the top of the drawer. That opened a secret compartment where an ornate black dagger was kept. Pulling out the dagger there were red vine-like etchings in the ebony blade, as well as a ruby in the silver handle.

    Taking the blade and sliding it across his finger he allowed the blood to fall onto the blade and this would activate the spell placed on the dagger. It was a communication spell that would allow him to get incontact with someone that would be able to stop Father's ambitions, and in turn possibly freeing his family at the same time. He would have to wait for his contact to answer before he could do anything else.

    As the old man’s blood seeped from his hand it seemed to vanish into the darkness of his office. The shadows swallowed the blood up like a man dying of thirst in the desert. With each drop the darkness seemed to deepen until not even the Councilman’s desk in front of him was visible.

    The air vibrated and the ambient temperature dropped to near freezing levels, the man’s ragged breath coming out in small plumes. The sound of heavy mailed footsteps echoed all around the office like a thousand soldiers were marching through the halls of the prison. The ruckus turned into a painful cacophony before the noises suddenly stopped and the darkness consolidated into the tall bony figure of a knight in ancient looking armor and a large two-handed sword across his back. It stared at the man with it’s empty eye sockets and stepped out of a portal of pure darkness there, but not at the same time. This was a creature of great power and darkness, but it pulsated with an aura of protection and safety. “It’s been a long time my friend.” The skeletal warrior said, his voice a soft whisper audible, but more as an echo through the empty halls of the underworld than a natural voice.

    The darkness was not something that scared the man. The Darkness was more calming than the light of his office. He just sat there as everything was absorbed into nothingness. Then a figure appeared that normal people would be scared out of their minds. Yet, the older man stood up and smiled at the figure that appeared in front of him.

    "It has been a long time Xist the Unbowed. Though I do wish that our meeting was more for pleasure than business. The man known as Father has made a move once more. The Vampire that was able to see the truth and escape from the organization was found within the walls of this city. That child was able to fight off the spells of the Elder Lich. So, because of that I believe he might be one of the chosen you talked to me about.”

    While Xist’s skeletal face was impossible to read for emotion those attuned to auras could feel the creature’s change of emotion in how his aura fluctuate. “The next wielder of the Tear of the Mind?” The knight’s flat voice almost sounded hopeful, but the rattle of his tarnished armor hid the tone slightly. “How can you be sure Oliver? It is not impossible for a normal Child of the Night to resist even an Elder Lich’s power. Some have even found their way to Specter’s Rest over the centuries. What makes him so special?”

    Xist the Unbowed has been the sole carrier of the Ice Queen’s Tear of the Mind since it was entrusted to him during the Queen’s fall from power. It’s power enhanced his own abilities greatly, but also tormented him with an existence even beyond the oldest records of the Cursed. Where they a united people Xist could very well be their King, but for now he was simply the Eldest among them and the one forced to see their suffering manifested within every inch of he eons old memory. To pass the burden of the Tear onto one worthy of it was his deepest desire, but none had proven worthy enough to face it’s unfiltered power.

    Oliver didn’t truly have a logical answer to Xist’s questioin. All he knew was that for some reason he just seemed different from the others that he has met. Even though it was only for a short time, he was convinced that something was special about this child. Since the Elder Lich was so desperate in getting him back. Yet before he could say a word another voice could be heard in the darkness that surrounded the two.

    “That child is extremely special. His mind is far stronger than you might think. He is able to remember anything that he has seen or read. Though, from what I know of him he is not much of a fighter. Yet, the Elder before me sensed a strong will within the child. He just refused to show his true potential. Elder Xist. The oldest of our kind. Don’t underestimate that child.”

    Oliver looked into the darkness to see a set of red eyes glowing from within the darkness. It seemed that they were not alone. “Who are you?:”

    Xist looked up at the new voice, his aura pulsating again identifying the newcomer. “Master Umbra, Elder Vampire, Lord of Shadows. I thought I felt your presence.” He turned towards the voice and lifted his mailed hand, a soft purple light filling Oliver’s small office revealing the Vampire to the Councilman. “You speak for the boy’s abilities? You were his Covenant Alpha I take it?” The Revenent’s voice hmmed softly in thought. “A good memory is promising, but you know as well as I the Mind Tear is something that demands it’s wielder feel and experience the pain and raw emotion of not only the wielder, but all tied to them. Can this boy endure the centuries of pain and oppression of all the Cursed people as well as his friends and those around him?”

    Oliver was confused at the fact that there was someone that was able to enter this darkness without an invitation. He was not sure about this man that was until the Elder addressed him and seemed to know the intruder. The person he thought was a man seemed to be another Elder, and a Vampire as well. He calmed down once he was able to see the vampire’s full form. Now the conversation turned to the newcomer.

    Umbra’s eyes no longer glowed, but the purple light made his skin even paler, but it didn’t bother him. He walked closer to the two as Xist spoke of the pain the child would have to suffer through, and if he was the child's Elder.

    “He was in my clan. Though as you know the day I took over, my Whole clan was annihilated by the man calling himself Father. So, it was only for a short time. I have faith that the child would be able to handle the pain. When I found him years later he seemed a different person from when he was in the clan. He allowed people to hurt him without fighting back, and he never showed any pain. However, he is one to wear his emotions on his sleeve, and hates to fight. He should be able to handle the power of the Tear.”

    Silence hung in the air of the office for a few seconds as Xist mulled Umbra’s words over in his mind. The Mind Tear allowed him to see through even the most complex lies and fantasies, but he sensed sincerity in Umbra’s words. “I will take your word for it Master Umbra, but I must test the boy first. I will possess him and bring him into my mind to taste a fraction of the Tear’s power. I can tell you right now he will not be able to bear it’s full power in his first exposure, but if he can handle a minute of it and not rip his own skin from his skull. I will give him the location of Specter’s Rest and he can seek out my physical form for his full test. Former Elder or not I must you accept my terms and understand the risks? He will need you there to serve as his anchor and doubt will only hurt him. He will be trapped forever within his own mind should he fail.”

    Umbra looked to the Elder as he spoke of a test. This test could really hurt Ashvel, but it is necessary to see if he will be the one to inherit the Tear. He closed his eyes for a moment and compressed his feeling of concern for the child. He is the only surviving member of his clan, but in the end he couldn’t baby him, not now or in the past.

    “The test is necessary. No matter what. you have to make sure to choose the right person that will be able to handle the power of the Tear. As his Elder I understand what must be done, and accept the consequences of the test. If he is not chosen then I will take care of the child if he breaks. I will take full responsibility for him. However, I fully have faith that he will be able to pass your test, and be able to free you from your burden.” Umbra said as he knew full well what could happen and if the child failed then he would eternally be a vegetable.

    Xist’s empty eyes bored deeply into Umbra his aura pulsating around the Vampire gauging him for falsehood or doubt. Finding none the old knight nodded. “You are a good man Master Umbra, so be it.” He turned now to Oliver. “We must be taken to this young Vampire’s cell. I sense the Lich is still in the building somewhere, he knows his power will not be able to stop us, but his mortal guards will be my concern.” He lifted his ethereal hand and looked at the old man through it. “In my current state I cannot fight them, and Master Umbra will need to keep in physical contact with the youngling for the duration of the test. Luckily I sense a Child of the Moon in the vicinity.” Xist lifts his head looking in the direction of Ash and the Lycan prisoner, sensing their auras.”I cannot sense the living as of yet, but I am sure they will come once their master knows I am here. I will need you, the Lycan, and whatever men that are loyal to you to keep them at bay. Can you do that my friend?”

    Olver just watched the two converse. He was a little lost about how this was a burden Xist, and how the youth would need to be tested. However, he was suddenly involved once more once the subject turned to actually having to get into the cell the Vampire was being kept in. The request that was given him was something that he could do. As long as he was not connected to the incident. He couldn't be connected to this at all, or his family could suffer for it. However, he would do everything within his power to help.

    “I can take care of the guards, but there is nothing I can do about the Elder Lich, nor his lackey. None of the people loyal to me are strong enough to deal with him, but I know they will try. So, you have my complete cooperation on this matter.” Oliver said as he knew he would need a moment to get everything in order. “I just need a moment to get everything in order. If you will let me go for a moment I can get everything together.”

    Umbra knew this was going to be tough on the humans to try and stop the man that was here. He was truly a force to be reckoned with. He would help them since only an Elder can stand a chance against another Elder, but he would need to be there for his clansman. “Don’t worry about the Lich, it is the Lycan we have to worry about. If that child of the moon agrees to help then we should be fine.” Umbra said as he hoped that he was right.

    Xist nodded. “I will see what I can do to keep the Lich at bay then. Come Master Umbra, I can find your charge and the Child of the Moon by following their auras. Best of luck to you as well Oliver.” Xist clenched his hand and the purple light vanished leaving all of them in darkness. Xist’s heavy footfalls went towards the door it opened to him. Stepping into the hall his aura was no longer hidden under the Wards of the councilman's office. His own aura erupted through the prison like a tidal wave. Other prisoners reacted with panicked screams and frightened howls. Any Cursed still on the premises would be assaulted with the sheer power and darkness of his energy filling them with dread and impending doom.

    The longer a Cursed has walked Eisignol the more ambient magical power they would disturb. They were unnatural and disturbed the very fabric of reality at times, usually this just meant cold spots or bad luck afflicting those close by. By Xist has walked the land for many centuries and has gathered more magic to his aura than most Elven wizards can even dream of.

    To the Elder Lich it would be like someone setting a bonfire to the forest around the prison. And while his power was crippled by his ethereal form, his aura was as strong as ever. And with a surge of pure will he sent the outer edges of his aura out across the prison like a solar flare from the sun. It would stun the Lich and possibly scare him enough to stay out of Xist and Umbra’s way. The living would even feel the pulse of energy though it wouldn’t harm them simply instill fear in their hearts. “I have bought us some time Master Umbra, but we must move quickly.” Turning in the direction of Ash and the Lycan the armored spirit glided quickly down the hall each step taking him five feet at a time.

    Umbra nodded his head as did Oliver as they knew that time was short and their work needed to be done quickly. As soon as the two Cursed left his office Oliver quickly followed. The presence of Xist was as strong as ever, however for some reason he had never been truly affected by it. Granted he still felt the fear and foreboding, but it never turned him into a frantic person. He quickly went to work getting the guards out of their way and making sure that they were uninterrupted.

    Umbra felt the intense power that was given off by his companion. It has been many years since he had felt this much power and even he felt like there were ants crawling through his veins. This only proved that Xist was truly the most Powerful of all Cursed. His power was on another level, and Umbra wondered if it was because of his power that he stayed hidden away from the world. He could unite all the Cursed under one banner and they could possibly obtain peace with the other races. However, he had to have his reasons for not doing so.

    Umdra quickly followed behind Xist as he made his way to the two children. Luckily for him Xist was not nearly as fast as he was so he could keep up easily.

    As Ashvel laid unconscious the Lycan had done something the young Vampire asked him not to do. He had cut his wrist and gave him some of his blood. The Lycan knew that Ashvel had lost too much blood, and would need to have at least a little something to get him back on his feet.

    Then suddenly he felt a terrible power wash over him and he was suddenly filled with a dark feeling. Like death was coming for him. All he could feel was darkness and despair in the air.

    This same power assaulted Ashvel's senses and he woke up with a start. The power was overwhelming for him. Because of this he didn't even care that he could taste blood in his mouth. The only thing he could think of was what was this power, and why did he feel like the world was coming to an end. "What is happening?" Was all he could ask as he just sat there frozen in place.

    As Xist showed him the way to the cell none of the guards were there to hinder their advancement. Once Umbra sensed Ashvel he quickly went around his companion and made his way to the cell door. The metal was no match for him as he pulled the door away from the cell and threw it to the floor. A soft smile forming on his face as he looked at the two children.

    "You both sure got yourselves in a heap of trouble." He said moving into the room with both of them looking at him in disbelief. Ashvel was pleased to see the Elder, and the Lycan just stared at the shadow that was moving closer to them.

    "What is happening?" Was the only thing he could say as he really couldn't get over the feeling of dread.

    "A friend of mine wanted to meet you. That is all." Umbra said as he knew Xist would be there soon.

    "Darkness is coming." The Lycan said as he continued to watch the darkness. He could sense the Elder approaching.

    No sooner had the words left the Lycan’s mouth than Xist’s shadowy form filled the doorway and gilded into the room. Umbra stood up from Ash’s side and bowed to the Revenant, the Elder Vampire knew the old knight hated anyone bowing to him, but to most Cursed, particularly the young ones he was a myth, a ghost story told by ghosts. And the last thing he wanted was one of the boys going off half-cocked and attacking Xist or injuring someone else trying to escape him.

    “Boys.” The Vampire Lord said solemnly. “This is Xist the Unbowed, the Eldest of the Cursed people. What you are feeling is the fear and dread a Revenant of any grade exudes with their mere physical presence, but unlike the others of his kind, Elder Xist has existed for so long that his very aura exudes it. And it is difficult to control without his physical body near to contain it. He is here to help you both escape, but first we must see if we can get that Void Strone out of Ash.” Umbra thought it best to keep Xist’s possession of a Tear and the need to test Ash a secret for now.

    Xist nodded to his juniors before kneeling beside Ash the closeness would be enough to fill most with the urge to faint right away, but if Ash was truly as strong as Umbra said he was the boy should be fine, just feel a deep coldness. “Greetings youngling hold still for me please.” Reaching his hand down it began to glow with a dull blue light as he examined the void stone.

    As everything was happening in the office the Elder Lich was getting ready to go and talk with the Lycan that was incarcerated here as well. Ashvel was just a treat that he didn’t expect, now the Lycan was his true objective. Yet as he was finally ready to go and talk to the young Cursed, an overwhelming power filled the prison, and many of the humans around began to panic. Yet he himself only felt the pure darkness the figure was emanating. It was almost like the figure was trying to scare people away from the location, and it was working for the lower races. Even his second in command was a little ancy at the feeling.

    “Now this is surprising. I didn’t expect someone of his power to come here.” Father said as he looked in the direction of where Ashvel was taken after he was done with him. He wouldn’t start up trouble, he just wanted to see if this new arrival was after the same thing he was. If that was the case he just might have some compassion in bringing his child back home. So, without much hesitation he began walking in the direction of where the cell was.

    Ashvel could only stare at the armored skeleton that entered the cell that he was in. He could feel the pure darkness that he admitted, yet within all that darkness he couldn't sense any ill intent. It was just pure darkness. He closed his eyes for a moment to calm his senses and to get himself back in control. By the time he opened his eyes the Elder was right next to him, and he could feel a deep cold that permeated his very being. Yet he just looked into the empty sockets that seemed to bore into him.

    “Why would someone like you have an interest in me? I am neither long lived, nor am I a strong person. So, why even come all this way for this?” Ashvel asked as he knew nothing of this person and his intentions. All he knew was that an Elder shouldn’t be here for someone like him. Reaching up he placed a hand on the Elder's hand and gently smiled as he tried to push his hand away. Though he knew little about Revenant’s physiology, He was unsure if the action would actually work or not. “There is no need to worry about the thing they put in my body. I am not that easy to break like I was when I was a child.”

    Umbra had heard enough of Ashvel’s words that it made him angry. Why would someone like him act as if he was just powerless. He and the former Elder knew what this child was capable of before he was invited into the clan. He stood up and grabbed Ashvel by his shirt lifting him up off the ground and slammed him into the stone wall of the cell.

    “Quit acting like this. Do you think you have pulled the wool over everyone's eyes with this act of being weak? Do you think me and the former Elder didn’t know how strong you were, and who you were running from? We allowed you to join our clan because we believed that you were willing to do what needed to be done, and that you have a strong will. I can understand that you don’t want to kill, and that you don’t want to get yourself put in that situation again. Do you think your dead parents would approve of how you have decided to live your life? Cowering like a scared rat when you have the skills and power to change things and defend the people you care for? Have some pride in yourself, and your race.” Umbra said angrily as he released Ashvel letting him slide down the wall to the floor.

    As Umbra chastised the young Vampire the Elder Revenant stood up putting a calming hand on both men. “Be calm, the both of you the Lich is on his way here as we speak. Grab his arm Master Umbra, firm enough to keep him still should he start flailing, but gently enough that you won’t rip his arm from the socket.”

    He then turned to the Lycan approaching the young Were scanning him up and down. “And you Child of the Moon.” He stared into the young man as if reading his heart and soul. “I know that which you seek. Help us keep the Lich and his men out of this cell and I will give you the information you want...and this.” Reaching his gauntlet out a small piece of his aura leapt out and surrounded the Lycan. The spiritual force would latch onto the Werewolf’s own aura and empower the youngling’s own abilities to the levels of the full moon madness, but would allow him to retain his intelligence. “This will help, but it is only temporary so use it well.”

    Returning to the Vampires Xist placed his hand over the void gem inside of Ash enveloping it in his dark powers. He couldn’t remove it in his spiritual state, but once Ash found him in Specter’s Rest he could remove it without a thought. But for now it was time for Ash’s test. “Child of the Night, close your eyes and clear your mind. Umbra believes you may be strong enough to fulfil a destiny many milinea in the making.” Reaching up with his other hand he pressed it to Ash’s head and soon both of them were whisked into the Elder’s mind to begin the test.

    Ashvel was shocked at Umbra’s reaction and the fact that he knew all this time that he was hiding who he truly was. It was a shock to the system that someone knew that he was more capable than he portrayed himself, and that he was running from that past. As he slid to the floor he didn’t say a word he only stared out at the darkness of the prison. Well that was until he felt a hand on his shoulder, and a hollow voice speaking to him. This snapped him out of his thoughts and he looked to the man as he spoke of an Elder Lich that was coming their way. And the fact the Umbra was needing to hold his arms for some reason. This was becoming confusing, nothing of what he said made any sense.

    Umbra was about to lay into Ashvel again when a soft hand laid on his shoulder and a voice brought him back from his anger. Remembering the reason he was here in the first place he just shook his head and grabbed Ashvel arm helping him up off of the ground.

    “You need to be strong, and don’t let yourself get lost.” Umbra said as he just let the conversation earlier drop. The child would learn at sometime that hiding his skills, and being a pacifist would not get him anywhere in this world. Even he had to learn that the hard way at one point in his life.

    The Lycan was about to leave when the Elder Revenant approached him and looked at him with piercing eyes. Then spoke to him about what he desired, and that if he stayed to help them fight off the people that were coming then he would get what he wanted. Without saying a word he nodded his head, and then Xist gave him the power to fight.

    “I will do what I can.” The Lycan said as he walked to the door of the cell. He was never one for many words and had yet to actually tell them his name. He would have to make a note of telling him that his name is Ion once this was all over.

    Once Elder Xist was done speaking with the Lycan he returned to Ashvel. They seemed to be in a hurry with whatever they were trying to do. The Elder told Ashvel to close his eyes, and Elder Umbra had a firm but gentle hold of his right arm. This was still confusing for Ashvel, but he did what he was told. When he closed his eyes he felt a finger press against his forehead, and then suddenly he felt his conscious shift. He was still in darkness but for some reason he felt like he was no longer in his own body.

    “What is going on?” He asked not knowing if he would receive an answer.

    The darkness warped before Ash and soon a tall red haired human stepped out. He was wearing the same armor as Xist, only it looked brand new and shined even in the darkness of the mindscape around them.

    The man’s face remained unmoving as he studied himself casually.
    “Hmm nearly forgot this is what I looked like before.” Flexing his hands slowly the man turned to Ash. “Welcome to the dimension within the Ice Queen’s Tear of the Mind. I am Sir Xist the Unbowed keeper of the Tear. Your Elder Lord Umbra believes you are strong enough to free me, but both myself and the Tear are not so sure. You will need to be tested, do you understand?”

    Ashvel was taken back a little to see someone that was wearing the same armor as Xist, but they looked normal. Yet, when he was speaking they sounded the same. Then he mentioned the Ice Queen’s Tear. This was the same tear that him and the others were looking for. How many tears were there, and did each of them have a guardian, or holder? He wounded what the power of this mind tear was?

    “I am to free you? Free you from what?” Ashvel said as he moved closer to the armored man. He wanted to know more about what was needed, but the mention of a test was something he did understand. “What kind of test would I need to take?”

    Xist’s human face softened lightly as he lifted his hand and placed his fingers to the Vampire’s forehead. “A test of endurance and ability my young friend. The Mind Tear grants it;s user immense mental abilities. Telekinesis, telepathy, the ability to project your mind to any corner of the globe, and many more that will come to you in time.” He dropped his hand and moved away from the young bloodsucker the aura of the dimension seeming to move with him. “But as with every Tear it comes with a great cost and in our case it comes with the empathetic power to feel and experience the pain and suffering of not only our people...but our friends.” He continued to pace around the endless void picking through the millions of stories and images to try and find the ones to show Ash. “So Child of the Night that will be your test. I will not expose you to the full timeline because the images will never leave you and that’s only if they don’t destroy your psyche in the first place. But you will see the suffering of some of the residents of Specter’s Rest..a full minute of feeling your family burn you alive for being a Walking Corpse...feeling the fear of a young Lycan girl as she runs from townspeople looking to blame her for the slaughter of their sheep...and experience the despair of a Vampire who spent three centuries locked in a cursed coffin because he dared to love a King’s daughter.” Xist stopped a few feet away from Ash and studied his eyes deeply, the ancient knight’s own red eyes creased and dull from time and the ravages of living for so long with the Mind Tear. “Do you think you can handle that young one?”

    Ashvel looked to the old knight as he spoke of the test, and some of the powers that the stone had. He didn’t know what to expect, but one thing was for sure. If he survived this test what horrors would he have to endure later if the stone chose him? The powers granted to him would be more than he could have imagined. However, was something like that what he really would want? For many years now he has hidden his abilities and shunned his heritage all for the sake of keeping himself and the people around him safe. Well that is what he thought anyway. Would he truly want a power like this? It would make him an even bigger target than he already was. Putting that aside would he be able to handle feeling others emotions and pain? All of this was something he didn’t have the answer to, but putting aside his own self doubt was something he needed to do. Elder Umbra was right. He needed to stop hiding, and become something that his parents would be proud of.

    He really needed to put his past behind him, and look to the future. He has lived in the past for so long that he never looked to what future possibilities were. It was time for him to move on. If this was the only way for him to do so then so be it. He would see if he was capable of handling others pain as his own. If he could handle others emotions as his own. He didn’t know what the consequences of not succeeding but he figured he would just deal with that if the time came.

    “I will take this test, and I will show the both of you that I can handle this.” Ashvel said as he closed the gap between himself and Elder Xist. “So, let's get this started.”

    Xist nodded sadly and reached his hand up once more his spectral fingers actually going into Ash’s skull now. “Do not fight what is happening young one...just let the memories play out.” And with that Xist focused his energy and forced the three memories into the young Vampire’s mind. Each playing on top of each other every sensation coming at Ash individually and all at once. One second he was feeling the flames burning around his feet...the next he’d feel the calming cool wind of an ancient forest but fear and pain would clutch at his heart almost forcing his legs out from under him...and the next it would all stop and the all consuming darkness and silence of seemingly endless confinement. As soon as one image and sensation moved on the next would fill in the gaps before Ash could even register the previous one’s departure.

    Ashvel didn’t have time to prepare for what was about to happen. As soon as the finger touched him he heard the Elder speak about him not fighting the memories just to let them flow the test began.

    As Ahsvel entered the memory of the young cursed that was being burned alive by the people that she called family just because she had become a walking corpse. He could feel the fear, disappointment, and disbelief that her family was doing this to her. He could see through her eyes as they set the wood around him on fire, and the pain of betrayal filled her heart as she was being burned alive. She could feel the flames beginning to burn her flesh, but none of the pain that would accompany the flames. The flames began to grow in intensity as just as it did the memory changed.

    Now he was running through an old forest filled with beautiful trees, yet the beauty was crushed by the feeling of fear that clutched at his heart constricting it. As a young Lycan was running from an angry mob of farmers that believed that she was the thing that killed their sheep. Every time she looked back to see if she had lost the people chasing her fear would grip her heart once more when she could still see them chasing her. Because of her fear she would trip over roots that were exposed, and run into trees increasing her chances of getting caught, and the fear that filled her heart. Then yet again the seatery changed as did the memory.

    Then what surrounded him was complete darkness and silence. There was absolutely nothing around him. He was unable to move due to the fact of what he was confined in. Now his senses were bombarded by pure emotions. Despair, anger, loneliness, and loss were hitting him all at once. The man inside of the coffin spent too many years within the coffing and it felt like an eternity of confinement. His mind was playing tricks on him as the effects of starvation also played with his mind.

    Then like clockwork it changed once more. It was like every second a different memory played out, and at the same time it felt like everything was hitting him all at once. Ashvel clenched his eye shut, and balled up his fists. Only one thought ran through his mind as each memory kept hitting him over and over. He wondered why such things were happening in this world. Why people just couldn't live together in peace. He wanted to surrender to the feelings, but at the same time he didn’t want to. These feelings were of people who were like him who were misunderstood.

    Then as suddenly as the memories filled his senses then it all stopped. Ashvel suddenly took a deep breath and was breathing slightly fast as if he had been holding his breath. He was a little shaky from the events that happened, but other than that he was okay. The memories were still there and would never leave him. Even if the Tear didn’t choose him, these three memories he would never forget.

    Xist was indeed impressed by the boy’s resilience. His mind would be scarred, but it wasn’t broken. He had potential, but without some training the Tear will rip him apart once he’s exposed to its full power. But for now Ash had passed the test, the Elder Cursed removed his hand from the Vampire’s mind and expelled them both from the Mind Tear’s Dimension. They both came back into consciousness to see the Warden’s men and Lycan boy fighting back a group the guards with the Lich howling at his men to press the attack. Mortel men lay dead all up and down the hall of the prison and some had managed to make it into the cell, but the Lycan boy’s power boost had served them all well. Pulling away from Ash, Xist’s spectral form stood up his aura pulses powerfully and the men all dropped their weapons terror gripping all of their minds.

    Even for Xist all this power he was outputting had begun to wear on his ethereal form. Where he once stood as solid as a wall and black as night he now looked more like a ghost. But he had enough power left to free Ash and the others. Stepping over screaming men his eyes narrows at the Elder Lich darkness fuming around him. Lifting his transparent hand the Revenant thrust a solid projection of his power at the Lich. It wouldn’t hurt his physical body but his aura would feel like it was on fire and being ripped away from him like a comet in the sky. “Begone worm.” He said calmly before the Lich dropped to the earth unconscious. Elder Xist was nearly vanished now, but he lifted a set of keys from a guards belt and gave them to Umbra. “Make your escape with the boys now Master Umbra, in my weakened state I cannot keep the Lich back forever. You boy passed, but he will need to train his mind. He took the images too much to heart, his desire for fairness and justice will lead him down a dark path with the Tear’s power and the power of the Cursed behind him. He must learn the wielder of the Tear is only an observer. We can influence small things, but actively trying to right the wrongs of the world goes against Fate.” He looked down at Ash, his skeletal features seemingly wracked with the pain and sorrow Ash now felt. “The things you saw young one, were how they were meant to be. Not even a Tear wielder can beat me.”

    Lastly he turned to the Lycan boy and pulled the power from him. Now you, Child of the Moon, here is what you’re looking for.” He reached into the Lycan’s mind and planted the idea and directions to Specter’s Rest in his memory. It would be like he’d been going there for years. “Seek me out once you arrive and I will do my best to answer whatever questions you have.”

    Lastly he turned to the Warden giving him a bony grin. “Thank you very much Oliver, my friend. It will be a few days before I can summon up the ability to speak with you again. But I looked forward to our next conversation.” Giving the Warden a Knight’s salute, Elder Xist faded from the prison, taking the terror and darkness that had coated the walls of everyone’ mind left with him. The mortal guards lay on the floor panting trying to regain their senses.

    Xbox One Gamertag: Free Today56 just say who you are first.
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  2. #172
    The Art Vandal

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    Laz rubbed at her eyes. The day was growing old but she needed to grab some food. She hefted her little doll and brushed off her new clothes. Though she doubted they would stay so clean for very long. She picked her way through the court yard away from the funny talking deer, still wondering if maybe she’d imagined the whole conversation. But her mind was really on a meal right now as she spotted the wagon and peered around to make sure she couldn’t see anyone before she moved closer.

    The wagon was well above the short child’s head and she tossed up her doll into the back before she clasped the side and started to climb up. She hadn’t seen the stone faced women in some time, and maybe it had just been a good run of luck but she couldn’t rely on the adult to take care of her. So it was up to her to seek out a little breakfast before someone else stumbled on her and chased her off.
    Once she had managed to get herself over the edge and safely into the back, she looked at the items so well organized and began to poke around.

    Finally alone within the confines of the stables, Shel was down on her knees, reviewing the wagons with eyes as keen as ever to detail. The raid had left more than the Rogues worse for wear and, although maintenance of the caravan did not technically fall under inventory duty, Shel secretly felt responsible… well, for all of it. She felt obligated to protect every animal within the gallery, so their equipment must be satisfactory. For there was just something within Shel that found herself now empathising for the beast of burden, for the prey, despite her past.

    So as the orc repaired several spokes and tightened each hub to ensure a smooth journey from here on out, she was unable to keep her eyes off the yoke attached to each subsequent wagon—at least for a moment. They looked heavy. They looked painful. Absentmindedly, Shel began to caress her own neck before removing her own outer hood and cloak. The orc unsheathed the dagger that she had strapped to her upper thigh, and began to shred it to pieces—thin, equal, perfect pieces.

    Shel then proceeded to wrap one strip around each yoke, layering it with cloth so that the weight of the burden might feel more comfortable for each animal. It was another thankless task—one that she knew would never be noticed—but still. She felt responsible; and once she found something to be out of order or out of line, it was nearly impossible to banish the defect from her mind. It was an obsession, this need to correct every shortcoming and to overcome each obstacle, even to the point of disturbing her own mental peace.

    The unexpected sigh of a giant reminded Shel that she was no longer alone, however; but this time the giant was not Balder, but Maso, who had been there resting quietly, watching her with gentle eyes. The mammoth had been, for some reason, glued to her the last hour like a puppy and she was growing a bit unnerved by the innocence of it. Was it because he remembered the glowing elixir that she took from Balder’s personal effects, and administered to aid in the healing of his wounds? Was the Mammoth warming to her?

    Even if I am obsessed with taking down your very kind, and to be the first woman in my tribe to be called ‘Mammoth Slayer’? Maso then stood to his feet, dwarfing Shel, before proceeding to play benevolently with her. It was almost as if the animal did not realise how very easily he could crush her like some petal beneath his great foot, if he really wanted to. At this thought, a part of her imagined the beast in a violent rage—and her mind raced in detail how she would react in defense at this hypothetical situation. She raised her arms upward, defensively, speaking something in Orcish.

    But Maso merely let out a rumble-grunt and wrapped his hairy auburn trunk around the olive flesh of the orc’s outstretched arm, curling his elephantine appendage around it in approval. The still sound of rustling eventually interrupted this moment, so quiet that it could have been a mouse.

    Ssssss, Shel hissed instinctively in her mind, not knowing why, jerking violently away from Maso’s show of affection and touching his trunk, authoritatively, almost as if to instruct him to Stay quiet! Something is here!

    Ever so quietly, the orc reached for her spear with the same mind that she had when she pierced the rat beside Sheva, and carefully aimed her throw towards where the noise was coming from, waiting to see and potentially strike whatever vermin tarried there.

    Laz heedlessly peered into barrels and bags looking for something other than horse feed, poking around the wagon’s supplies. She wasn’t too worried since she hadn’t seen anyone else around as she dragged her doll after her and picked out an apple and a few pieces of dried meat. She took a bite of the apple as she decided that was enough scavenging and she shouldn’t push her luck.

    The little vitiligo orc child made her way back to where she’d entered and began to climb down. Gently setting her doll to the side along with the handful of dried meat and stuck the apple in her mouth as she got onto her stomach and started to slide down.

    In time, the small, rustling noises grew, and alongside them, so did Shel’s wonder. This was no mouse, it seemed… much less a rat. To her great surprise, Shel realised that there only was a ragamuffin child, dirtier than soot, and all alone. Still, the orc dared not lower her weapon, even if the threat posed was little. Such was her immediate instinct.

    “State your name,” Shel demanded, even as she loosened her grip on the handle. She was becoming increasingly distracted by the mottled skin of Lazuli (or at least what could be seen through the filth). Her blue and white tone was so strange; reminding Shel of the fabled marble halls of human lore, or perhaps the layered veins of light and dark iron ore that rippled on the faces of jagged, orc-held mountainsides.

    “And do it quickly. I know a giant who doesn’t appreciate trespassers.”

    In her surprise Laz lost her grip on the side of the wagon and dropped the rest of the way to the ground with a thud, losing the handful of dried meat and the apple with the impact. She gasped but was not truly hurt as she scrambled around to see who had found her.

    Both to her surprise and dismay it was an orc woman. Laz made a mad scramble under the wagon for safety before peering back. She’d left her doll in the wagon in her hast, unable to reach it. Unwilling to leave it behind but unwilling to leave the safety of the underbelly of the wagon, if it could be considered safe, she let out a frustrated growl. “My name is Lazuli, not that you would care, orc.” The child responded with some heat behind the word.

    “Orc?” Shel responded in mock-disgust, choosing to stick the point of her spear in the dust instead of thrusting it at the one-who-ran-away, pointlessly. “That I am, as are you,” she countered, leaning against the rod. “And you stole from me.”

    Something caused Maso to shift in agitation, which caused Shel to turn her peripherals towards him for a moment or two before continuing. Waltzing back and forth, Shel tried to appear unperturbed… natural… despite the stare of Maso that was giving her an odd sense of anxiety.

    “Those who eat must work,” she mimicked as she stomped, reiterating lines she had learned amongst her tribe. Then, breaking her stride, her knees knelt right where Laz rested beneath the wagon and Shel’s dark eyes peered at the girl, trying to remain undistracted by the small tusks that lined her mouth.

    “So you owe me,” Shel punctuated softly, feeling an unexpected wave of sympathy crash over her. She had never seen her kind so mixed with the human race before; as the coupling between the two kinds was considered unnatural, even abominable, at least by her own tribe.

    Laz shyed back as the orc women knelt down and peered in at her. Scowling at the green skinned women. “I’m only half orc.” she retorted, staring at her. Honestly this had the closest she’d been to another orc and she couldn’t help but study.

    Does that matter? Shel questioned inwardly, unsure if the disdain she heard in Lazuli's tone was directed towards the human or orcish side of her. Whatever the case, Shel knew that the half-breed would have trouble finding acceptance among the tribes, that was for sure. But did she belong among humankind? Such alliances were frowned upon, much less any reliance. Was this sort of integration possible? It was unclear. But one thing was for certain: if the humans had been the ones charged to take care of this little one, they were doing a horrible job by the look of it.

    Nervously, Laz inched away, moving closer towards one of the wheels. “What do you want?” she asked. She didn’t own anything and it wasn’t like she had any skills beyond what she’d picked up on the streets. If she couldn’t get her doll and get away… she wasn’t sure what would happen.

    Only what I am owed, the orc woman reiterated in her mind, forgetting momentarily there was only a young girl who stood before her. And that is more than you know.

    Rather unused to conversing with children, the reactions that came from Lazuli baffled Shel. They were defiant, yet fearful. There was an innocence about her, one that Shel forgot even existed, despite her thievery. She watched intently as the little one began to inch away.

    Shaking her head, the Orc realised she felt no urge to attempt intimidation with one such as her. So perhaps there was another way? Dropping her guard, Shel let out one giant stretch and a dramatic yawn, before dropping back down to the dirt to sit down, cross-legged.

    Now as low as Laz, it was apparent that Shel was not going to pursue her, but instead the girl was free to roam within the confines of the stable, even as Maso continued to watch the two of them from above. Behind Shel was the door, the only way out, and if the child-thief wanted to make a run for it, she would need to brave passing the mammoth and orc huntress, alike.

    “I’m not sure what the humans have taught you,” Shel murmured on, using her index finger to draw surprisingly expressive imagery in the dirt of the stable grounds. If Laz looked closely, she would see a playful picture of a small, whimsical boar beside what appeared to be one gigantic, happy daisy. “It seems you might have fared better with the orcs.”

    Her eyes flashed up, watching, waiting.

    She ceased her drawing.

    “What do you think is owed for crime? What do you believe is fair?”

    If she was honest, Shel had no idea herself how to measure justice or cruelty. It was a line drawn in the sand that remained only until it was covered by the strength of the passing winds, and some new line was defined by a different finger. Neither had Shel seen what had been snatched from the caravan by Lazuli; nor did she care. That did not truly matter. All that mattered was the answer to the question:

    Why is she alone?

    The small orc child watched intently as the green one set down and began to draw in the dirt. Somehow while more relaxed she still seemed intent, but maybe that was just an orc thing. Laz remained where she was studying the way past the women, mulling over her options. But even if she got past the Orc and then the Giant mammoth behind her, she still needed her doll which was somewhere above her. She hesitated before she slowly set back, still well out of reach of the orc women and prepared to scramble away should she move after her.

    She scoffed quietly. “The orcs are the one who left me.” She said, pulling her knees to her chest. She stared out a bit perplexed as the older women asked what she thought would be fair to her theft. No one had ever asked her such a thing, usually they chased her away or tried to catch her.

    “I… don’t know.” She mumbled looking to the side.

    Pathetically, Shel looked at the half-breed.

    “That is the correct answer,” was all the Orc said.

    Part 1/2.
    Last edited by Leanna; 10-31-2020 at 05:48 PM.

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  3. #173
    Red Ninja
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    Wherever the Gallery had gone or whatever mischief they were getting up to time dictated their lives even in Alegast and on the verge of an adventure of the century. A day of leisure, intel gathering missions...jailbreaks all drew to a close as the sun left the sky.

    Destiny had set them on their paths, but fate would never let her secrets go easily. The greatest advantage they may have had was their solidarity and numbers. But all the clues they had gathered had split them apart, but who went where was already decided before the clues were even found. Their minds already telling them where they would be going.

    Adam, Sheva, Yn, Faur, and Jezi would be heading South into the Dominion following the writings of Archbishop Ramiel of the Church of the Mountain Father, scholar and hunter. In the South four Tears have found their final cradles. One found in unification, one in division, one in forgiveness and the last in submission.

    Balder, Mynx, Jagruff, and Jamon will be heading North for the White Peaks following the words of Elder Crag, last of the Mountain Giants and world renowned traveler. To the North, I have found four, one to the peak, one to the plains, one to the sky, and the last to the sea.

    Tris, Selene, Shel, Lazuli, Ash, and Vel will be heading West towards Ebonrock following the Journals of Lord Alyx Worthington, Senior professor at Alegast University. To the West three more have been lost. One within the future, One in the present and the last, possessed by the past.

    The stage was set and the players were told to make ready for their role in the upcoming show. The night would be used to final preparations and at dawn...the show begins.
    Last edited by SikstaSlathalin; 02-13-2021 at 05:25 AM.

    Xbox One Gamertag: Free Today56 just say who you are first.
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  4. #174
    RPA's Resident Zombie
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    On the morning of the day before they were to leave on their missions to find the Tears, Mynx awoke later than usual. After Adam had left halfway through the night, she had taken a pinch of the powder Fray had left to help her sleep. It worked better than she anticipated, the ocecat grumbling as the sun shone brightly into her room just before noon. Stretching gingerly, she growled at the resulting twinge. The lacerations across her back were tender, but considering the night’s activities, it was a surprise they weren’t worse. Knowing she would be expected at the Annex soon, she didn’t spend much time getting herself ready, merely running her hands through her tousled hair and slipping back into the leather clothes she had been wearing the day before. Her soiled one-piece outfit was bundled in her arms, and with a huff of impatience she removed the Rogue’s pin attached to it and affixed it to her cropped top. With a quick glance at the room, she headed for the door, stopping briefly to grab up the folded white paper containing the powder to help her sleep. Slipping it inside the waistband of her short skirt, she stepped out of the room and down to the main drinking area of the Bull’s Head Tavern. A simple nod was offered to Fray before she left, her newly acquired grey tabby falling in step with her as soon as she started along the road.

    It was only after she arrived at the Annex that she learned of the upcoming departure scheduled for the next morning. She accepted this begrudgingly, her eyes narrowing at the chosen leader for the group she had been assigned. Balder would get her obedience, but nothing more. If he expected her to chat the day away with him, he was mistaken. He could be entertained by the fool, Jamon, and the unknown dwarf, for all she cared. She had other things to keep her how best to make the green man pay for his treatment of her. Perhaps the hairy elephant could play a part. She had yet to discover how such a beast would taste, and a small bite might just be in order.

    Lifting RumTum into her arms, Mynx allowed her musings to rest, her day ahead now having to be spent preparing for the journey North. She and Jamon had a lot to accomplish, clothes to be washed, weapons to be cleaned and sharpened, and a short sword to be retrieved from the grassy nest Balder had ripped her from the previous morning. If not for the boy’s broken arm, she would have set him off on his own to do the chores, but today they would work side by side, getting done what they could in the time allotted.

    Entering the room she shared with Jamon, Mynx started gathering their belongings, the tabby rubbing against her legs in reckless abandon. She would take the little tiger cat along in the search for the Tears, his affection for her preferred at present over her grieving ward. After learning the news that Su Lin would not be joining them on this leg of the journey, the prince had been inconsolable. The assassin tasked him with accompanying Mynx to the White Peaks, up until the time she could return from Prasea, where her father lived with the elders of SonYuRi, as told by her brother Ky. He could not join her, much to his dismay. The cat could only hope when she returned, Jamon would be worthy of Su's love, the young man still needing a lot of guidance to become something other than a lowly page.

    By the time evening rolled in, Mynx and Jamon had returned from collecting her weapon from the wooded area outside of town. It had not been difficult to find, the cat following the scent of the stream until she came close to her resting spot. The area where she had slept was still disturbed from the Giant’s rough awakening, the dried grass scattered and the bush tossed to the side. As luck would have it, the sword had remained covered, and thus undiscovered.

    Adding the last piece of weaponry to the packs assembled in the room, Mynx sat down on the bedding and began petting RumTum. He rumbled out his pleasure, his purr soothing to the larger feline. She would have to say her goodbyes to Vel, Shel, and Yn, the ocecat not looking forward to the long trek ahead of them without the company of the few members she had managed to connect with in the Guild. By the time they all returned to the Rogue’s Gallery Inn at the end of the mission, they would be strangers again.
    Last edited by bluemoon; 02-20-2021 at 05:43 AM.

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