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Children of Legend - GW fanficFollow

#1 Feb 03 2011 at 12:22 PM Rating: Decent
26 posts
Chapter 1 – Old Statues

It is not often that a lone man enters the realm of Jormag. The dangers are endless. Great wurms, elemental beasts, and the bitter cold claim most who dare traverse these frozen lands. Some would say those were the lucky ones. “Better to have your body ripped apart by a snow wurm than to have your soul ripped away, only to become one of the dragon's new abominations of snow and ice,” they would say, warning those not to venture far into the icy north.

Bundled in layers of thick hides and soft furs, Dassk scanned the white, lifeless landscape. He had not seen another human for months, not that he expected such nonsense. Humans typically kept to the much warmer climates of Kryta in the west. To the east, where the city of Ascalon once flourished, there remained one last stronghold, EbonHawke, a solid fort protected by strong walls and large mountains.

“Mostly fools griping too strongly to the past”, Dassk had told some norn a week past. They were not met them under to best of circumstances. A wurm shot up through the ground and sent him soaring through the air. As a child Dassk once dreamed of flying. It was nothing at all like he had hoped.

He was found, contorted and battered yet not altogether dead, by a norn hunting party that was tracking the wurm. They brought him to a recent settlement, and he was given a bed to rest. They dressed his wounds and fed him. He recovered in the cold while exploring their cozy encampment built into the side of a mountain. He felt short, weak, and overdressed, though he was not made a spectacle. Forget flying, thought Dassk, If only I had their tolerance of the cold. Then I wouldn't be burdened with ten pounds of grawl fur!

On his fifth day at the norn camp, he gathered his things and set out to continue his search. A norn by the gate tried to dissuade him. He told him not to go so far north, that even norn do not travel the area in parties of less than six. The gatekeeper smiled as he walked past. Apparently, the norn understood him better than humans.

Dassk had little love for his homeland. Even amongst the people of Ebonhawke, among the people he spent his youth, he felt no attachment. They did not trust him; they would never understand. Out here, amidst the quite solidarity, he was free. The new Warmarshel said he found a message from his predecessor. Dassk was told that there was something he must find, here, near the far northern reaches of the coldest mountains. He would wager the Warmarshel had finally found an excuse to be rid of him. Dassk jumped at the opportunity. The ice welcomes him, people do not.

Shifting his third and fourth fur overcoat to better retain the heat, the frigid traveler finally arrived at his destination. Amidst the frozen lake, Dassk marveled at the giant building, a resounding bronze against the white winter. From afar, the massive structure appeared to be abandoned, yet as he reached it, there seemed to be a sort of warmth from within.

The young traveler spent the next hour banging his shoulder into the door, chipping at an icy hinge with his knife, and cursing loudly. Eventually, and with a great deal of effort, he opened the heavy doors enough to squeeze himself through.

It was impressive enough. The walls were large and ostentatious, with great murals depicting the epic battles of the heroes of legend, before the awakening of the dragons. The large canvas and solid oak frames would fetch a lofty price. It should have taken more than ice to protect these relics from raiders and treasure seekers. Perhaps there was more to this place than metal and stone. Despite the open ceiling, there was certain warmth Dassk felt within these walls, a certain presence pushing him forward. He looked towards the inner chamber.

Dassk fell hard as he toppled into the main room. He ran, expecting once again to have to barrel open doors that were frozen stiff. As he got up, rubbing the numb spot where his arm should hurt, he looked into a vast blackness. This room did not have an open ceiling to allow for light. Dassk searched for some way to rid the chamber of its darkness.

Dassk felt around until he bumped into a loose branch. A torch, perhaps. He wrapped his outermost layer of fur around the branch and made use of what little magic he knew. Though he couldn't actually create fire, he could concentrate enough to make sparks in the air. Though barely suitable to impress small children, it is sufficient to catch fur aflame. Dassk was momentarily pleased as he saw his impromptu torch light the room. His glee was short lived as the fire spread quickly to a nearby tapestry. It burned quickly. It looked expensive.

It did allow enough light for Dassk to see a nearby brazier, which he guiltily lit as the fine tapestry was quickly consumed by the flame. This light granted Dassk a better look at his hand held lighting fixture. It was not a torch. It was a flaming fur coat wrapped around a half burnt bow. He rushed to put out the flame. The bow now had its only use as kindling and the tapestry was all but nonexistent. Oh well, he thought still feeling a bit guilty, no one will know but me. Dassk took a mental note to bury it under some snow on his way back.

Dassk used this new light to look to his right, where he grabbed the wooden bow, and found a collection of artifacts, mostly weapons, arranged in a display with plaques and labels beneath them. There was a single empty display. The plaque said, “Here lies the bow of Urgoz, spiritual demon of the Echovald Forest.” Dassk looked down in despair at the scorched remnant of wood.

He moved sheepishly on toward the next display. Shiro's daggers! Forgetting his failed torch, he enigmatically stalked from one display to another. He saw an am fah mask, a margonite chest piece, a sunspear's spear, and a shield of the mursaat. The next bow he recognized sent a chill down his spine. He did not need to read the label below. “Here lies the Ironwing Flatbow of Beta Ray Wade.”

Dassk knew of this legendary archer all too well. All humans have seen the painting of Beta Ray Wade wielding this fabled bow in the legendary ring of fire islands, traveling with a small group of heroes to fight the Lich Lord, who unleashed the Titans on the lands of Tyria. Dassk's mother named him after this hero. He has been ridiculed since childhood because of it.

His eyes grew wide, frantic at his newfound realization, as a brilliant sparkle was caught in his peripherals. He was disappointed to find that the glimmer of light originated from a celestial longbow, an ancient treasure from the lost lands of Cantha, and not the Legendary Stormbow he used when he fought The Great Destroyer. Dassk took a moment to calm himself. Perhaps some of the stories could be true, not all of them of course, embellishments gaining grandiosity as time passes. Though, despite his disclaimer, here were the artifacts that seemed to hint towards these tales' veracity.

Daskk began to wonder about this place. Could it be some sort of monument built to pay homage to this mythical figure, or was it something more, something that has somehow kept itself isolated from the filth and decay that seems to have taken hold of the rest of Tyria?

His answers would be revealed at the next display. If this was some sort of monument, then they would not have made this shrine. There were **** deeds, historical records, and maps of planed routes with hand drawn buildings and locations. Next to the desk was a large bust of Beta Ray Wade. This is the real proof that the legendary heroes existed, conformation that this isn't just some sort of abandoned shrine. This was a place where the hero must have spent a lot of time. Before him was the plan to strike an assault at heart of The Great Destroyer.

Dassk moved on to the statues on the far side. The plaque on the bottom shined Hall of Fellowship.
The statues were skillfully carved with a lifelike, intricate detail. There was the great warrior, Tzimite Dreadlord, the wizard Arkillius Deathmage, and the famed paragon Wonko the Sane. There was also an unknown dwarf that seemed to be missing the label below where it should say his name. Dassk looked to the side to see the hero's greatest companion; one of the great white moa's which are now extinct. He looked at the plaque below in anticipation to read the name that has been lost to historians. “Birdie.” Dassk sighed, Such a stupid name.

Dassk felt some sort of pull from the center of the chamber. It was the same feeling he felt in the outer chamber, like a body recently passed, the soul seeking its proper place. He had been trying to ignore it, scarred that it could consume him. It was the heart of this place. Dassk felt strong. He would not let it overtake him.
Dassk turned and stepped down the stairs toward the middle of the room. There was a thick liquid in its center. It looked to be a pool of melted iron, yet flowed thin as water. Dassk saw shadows form and light bend. He bent down to get a closer look. There was an image forming in the center of the strange liquid.

“You look like him.” A raucous voice bellowed throughout the hall. It sounded like a dull sword scraping hard granite. Dassk had assumed he was alone in the room; the door was shut and hadn't been opened for generations. He looked around, only to find a lifeless chamber. Am I hearing things, he thought. His face was contorted, his eyes held bewilderment. He held his strength tightly for fear it would depart.

“My apologies.” Dassk could still not tell where the voice came. It echoed throughout the chamber.

Frantically looking around, Dassk reached for his knife to the side of his boot. “Show yourself,” he cried.

“Over here.” Dassk sought the sound of scrapping stone. To his amazement, one of the statues in the Hall of Fellowship began moving. “Ahh,” the statue groaned. “I seem to be a bit stiff. I have not moved for some time. There are not exactly visitors here.”

“A stone dwarf!” shouted Dassk, still clutching his knife, too excited to notice his grip still held. “They are told about in legends but I thought it was just some exaggeration of the truth. And wait, what did you say?”

“I said you look like him,” the stone dwarf said, apparently less rigid, now able to raise an arm to point to the bust of Beta Ray Wade. Dassk walked over and took a moment to examine closer. He actually did bear quite a resemblance to the hero of legend.

“And what exactly are you implying?” Dassk said cautiously.

“Nothing really,” said the dwarf, now able to raise his legs. He began slowly moving off the platform with the other statues. Dassk wondered if they would start moving as well. The stone dwarf tried not to let his gaze linger on the burnt bow and tapestry. Dassk look down abashedly. “We dwarfs, we see things, and we tell people what we see. Everybody else takes too close a look at what we say. I say you look like him. That is all there is to it. Just a simple observation from an old dwarf.”

“Right,” Daskk retorted.

“And now I see some visions forming in that scrying pool over there.” The dwarf looked more limber now. He freely strolled down the stairs to the room's center, which held the mysterious liquid. Dassk joined him. There were indeed images that were coming into focus. Dassk thought he saw a baby.

“That must be you,” said the dwarf. “Let's see what it wants to show you.”



Edited, Feb 3rd 2011 1:34pm by bubles
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Children of Legend - GW Fanfiction
http://www.guildfans.com/forum.html?forum=229&mid=12967573615455283
#2 Feb 04 2011 at 5:55 PM Rating: Default
bubles, I love! Looking forward to the next chapter.
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#3 Feb 17 2011 at 12:00 PM Rating: Decent
26 posts
Chapter 2 – The First Vision

Gliding across the infinite plains, Dassk slithered forward seeking an escape from the eternal cries of a young baby. The human child did not calm, weeping and howling and cursing inaudible babble. There was no end. Only with divine light, the healing power bestowed upon Dassk by the goddess of air, did the baby relent, if only momentarily. Humans are enduring, thought Dassk. It is no wonder they can wreak such calamity.

He flowed divine energy through the baby once more and was rewarded with a welcomed silence. Dassk has been healing more frequently; the baby was becoming weak. Mother must be found quickly.

This task was forced on Dassk by the child's father, who came upon his camp at the southern edges of the Crystal Desert. They had set up a rough fortification to defend against the countless swarms of undead attacking under the orders of their king, Lord Joko. This warrior claimed to have lifted the baby from the grasp of Joko himself.

He may have been sincere, for a devastating raid came upon them on the following day. Palawa Joko was there in command of the attack.

The warrior was amazing in battle. His proficient blade cleaved through shield and armor and bone alike; the fort would have been easily captured without him. It was this man who met the undead lord in battle and wounded him, actuating their retreat.

Unfortunately the hero suffered a wound as well. He traded blows with the undead lord and his blood was left a black corrupted ink. Even the power of the goddess of the light could no longer make his blood flow crimson. Dassk was there when he died, and the warrior asked him to grant a favor. “The boy needs a mother,” the dying man pleaded. Dassk vowed to do everything he could to see that the boy was found a proper mother.

He cursed those words. The mysterious warrior’s courage, and ultimately, his sacrifice, spared his companions from the wrath of the undead lord. He knew it was the right thing to do, and though it would have pained him to deny the final request from a man of such greatness, he had no idea how he would go about accomplishing such a task. Dassk knew nothing about human offspring. As one of the forgotten, he knew very little about mothers. The forgotten are not a race of two genders. Only one mother is known to them, and it is said that she resides within a single grain of sand.

The Great Mother only grants audience to those she deems worthy. Dassk could only hope that his years of faithful service would be enough to help fulfill his promise.

Dassk had always retreated to a secluded statue in the Salt Flats when he sought a sort of silent guidance from Mother. Its grandiosity always made him feel like Mother was with him. As of late, the pristine state of the statue has declined. Dirt and mud crusted the finer crevasses and belie the true beauty that Dassk fondly remembered.

When he arrived this time, gripping the irritable crying baby, he found Khalduras waiting for him. Blue, jagged, and as reflective as only the purest stone gems could manage, Khalduras perched atop a rock near the statue. Dassk looked down in despair at the stains in his lower coils from frantically gliding about the dirt and grass.

As he slid closer, the rhythmic sway of the tress came to halt. The rustling of the autumn leaves dwindled down with the wind. Dassk slowed as he came upon the apathetic dragon. He looked regal, yet dauntless, as welcoming as one could, being the third born of Glint's hatchlings. He did not hesitate. “Come.” His majestic voice boomed over the crying baby. “She waits.”

Dassk coiled himself around the surprisingly warm dragon, gripping the baby firmly yet not tightly enough cause the accursed crying to get louder. Khalduras rose. With each flap of his massive wings, they ascended deeper into the sky, each rise another step progressing higher on the ladder up toward the stars.

As Dassk watched the world shrink below, the statue of Mother soon looked small and unimportant. He gazed in wonder at the Shiverpeak Mountains to the north, a cold spine separating the human lands of kryta and the char homelands of old Ascalon. To the south, he looked upon the Desolation, a fuming toxic waste even more dangerous than the hazards of the Crystal Desert. In grasslands below, only the scattered remains of Giganticus could be seen amongst the green savanna. This is how a dragon views the world.

Khalduras compressed his wings and they fell. The landscape hurled toward them. Dassk closed his eyes. They entered the land as a pebble enters water. The baby stopped crying.

Dassk opened his eyes and met Glint's direct gaze. He shrank as he felt her icy blue eyes pierce directly into his soul. Beyond those intense eyes, Dassk could not quite focus on her powerful body. A distracting light bounced throughout the lair, reflecting off smooth crystal shards that stuck out from the floor, walls, and ceiling. The surface of Glint’s body had a similar feature, which forced light to bend around her and also served to blend in with the crystals of her lair. Watching the simple rise and fall of her chest with each breath was intoxication enough to dizzy the forgotten monk.

Dassk had never before felt in such a state of splendor. He wanted to weep. As if sensing this, the baby began to cry. Dassk instinctively cast his divine light through the small child.

Dassk saw one of Glint's wings twitch. Had I insulted her? Was it rude to cast a simple spell before one of such great power? Dassk immediately cut the flow of energy to the baby. For a moment, there was silence. Dassk cast his eyes down in despair as the baby began crying again. Glint tilted her head. She stepped toward the forgotten.

He panicked. Thus began the only bow in the history of the forgotten. Dassk had seen some human do it as a sign of what he believed to be submission. It was very awkward and looked as if his back coil was trapped in some brush, pulled back taut, struggling to get it loose. During this process, he nearly hit the baby's head on the jagged landscape of the Dragon's Lair.

Glint reacted more obviously this time. The Dragon's spoke with a voice that was both gentle and sweet. “At ease, Dassk Arossyss. You have served me well these many years.” The forgotten was overjoyed with a sense of accomplishment. His pride collapsed as her tone became harsh and bitter, a raspy tongue ready to bite. “Take care. You shall not cripple the child because you are too feeble in knowledge of humans.”

Glint looked to her side as Khalduras came stalking into the lair. Dassk had not seen him leave; diverting his attention from Mother seemed like such a waste of sight. Khalduras's movement seemed clumsy and awkward next to Mother. Now she was resplendent and Khalduras was menial. Dassk felt utterly insignificant.

Khalduras gently took the baby from Daskk and brought him over to Glint. He also brought water, that insufferable liquid that makes things such a chore, corrupting the sand, bringing mud and dirt and all that wretched grass. Dassk longed for the soothing sand that once inhabited the Crystal Desert.

After carefully washing the baby, Glint handed him to Khalduras, and he scurried into another chamber. “The baby is not ill. Humans need nourishment to survive. He is very weak. You would have healed the baby to death in another hour.” Glint lectured Dassk. “Dwayna did not bless you with this gift to be used with such carelessness!”

Her words cut deeper than any foe he had ever faced. Dassk's feeling of worthlessness now mingled with shame. Glint settled herself into the posture Dassk recognized from the statue. It was more magnificent than any sculptor could manage in an entire lifetime.

She spoke simply, the serene tone of a master to her disciple. “Do not cast pain aside so readily Dassk Arossyss. You would do well to learn its embrace. Without pain, you do not learn. You do not adapt. One becomes simple. When pain is solved with simple magic, one does not seek out the source.” Dassk could no longer meet her eyes, those mesmerizing sapphires, always calculating, eternally inviting.

“You feel that you are making others stronger when you heal them.” Glint scoffed. “This is not true. You make them weaker. A dagger to the chest should not be corrected so casually, for one will never learn to avoid them. You deprive from them the most primal knowledge. Without this lesson, the next blade may strike closer to the heart. ”

Khalduras advanced into the room carrying the infant child. “Fortunately, the boy lives, despite your best efforts.” Glint bestrode her lair and gently took the baby into her claw. Her azure eyes grew wide as she carefully studied the child. “I can feel a familiar strength within him. Tell me at once how you came by this child?”

Dassk morosely told of the human warrior's exploits and of his hasty promise.


***


Dassk fell. The dwarf's hard, cold hands helped him to his feet, only to catch him as he fell forward once more. He watched as the human surveyed his surroundings erratically. Eventually Dassk met the Dwarf's stone eyes. “I was him,” He proclaimed and then appeared to catch himself. “I mean, I know I was the baby, but I felt as if I was the other one. You know, the serpent.”

Dassk struggled to his feet and placed one hand down on the figure to his side. The support was enough to balance him for the moment. “Even now I have to tell myself that I cannot simply glide forward as one of the forgotten.”

“I know, young Dassk Wade.” The stone dwarf was calm and sounded unsurprised. “It is as it was with your predecessor. It seems as though you've inherited more than your ancestor's height.” A raucous laugh echoed off the high ceiling. By the time it cascaded down and reached the floor Dassk was looking at his unusual new friend.

With his identity crisis nearly complete, Dassk had finally attained full control of his more basic motor skills. He knelt down and became level with his companion. “Who are you, truly, and what do you know of the real Beta Ray Wade?”

“The name's Arin Shinsbane,” the dwarf forced out as his chuckling dwindled down. “And I can tell you this. I know a lot more about Beta Ray Wade than anyone who's yet to feel the touch of your Grenth. And if my memory is keeping well, Beta would have known better then to ask me so many questions without a proper helping of ale on the table in front of us.”
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#4 Mar 02 2011 at 9:18 AM Rating: Decent
26 posts
Chapter 3 – Chunks of Stone

The wind was cut by sharp corners of rock and ice. It roared, briefly, a shrill cry, an agonizing last breath. The concave mountain of the camp amplified the wind blowing through the snow topped peaks. A resonating chill blasted the frigid camp. The incessant hum masked the subtle sounds of life in the frozen lands.

There weren't many creatures scrambling through the thick white snow. Only the scavengers too stupid or desperate to think they could go unnoticed by the norn. Half a spansfield away, through the dark night, a giant wurmling slowly crept toward their camp. It sought the noise and the warmth, too young and ignorant to realize it was coming upon a camp full of norn. Their archers would have little trouble hitting the imp silently stalking the wurmling.

They could, but they would not. Norn do not partake in such petty squabbles. They hunt creatures of a greater magnitude, seeking game that strike fear into even the greatest heroes of the lesser races. Besides, the imp would take the wurmling and be on its way. It would not be so foolish as to wander into the camp. Only a human would be that brash.

Fortunately, the norn welcomed his arrival. Dassk returned to the frozen encampment a champion. He traversed the depths of Jormag's lands and came back alive. “That is cause enough for celebration,” said Olaus Asgardson, who Dassk decided might be the leader of this northern expedition. Next to him sat, Lika Strongfoot, slayer of the Elgen Beast, daughter of Jontor Cragier. Beside her sat Dongir Quickskull, crafter of Aelainmount, descendant of Olaf. Dassk cringed as he recited the lengthy lists in his head. These blasted norn boast more than humans!

There was indeed a celebration. Some norn fishing in the icy lake ran into a jotun patrol. There was a fight, and the norn got the better of them. They brought back fish, some gold, and a few rough minotaur tusks. Although the party began a few hours before Dassk and Arin arrived, he quickly became the guest of honor after his return with the stone dwarf. They sat at the largest table, which was relocated so Dassk could sit closer to the fire pit. He wondered if Arin could even feel the heat.

The fire's warmth allowed Dassk to remove some of the various furs and grawl hides he was using to keep warm. He still wore a few layers, with his massive fur cloak pulled tight. The norn wore small patches of leather and metal. They looked as though they wore the hides as a matter of fashion, exposing their skin to the bitter cold. For them, a fire was for light, not warmth.

Arin was treated as if he were Dassk's trophy. The dwarf didn't seem to mind, but it still gave Dassk an awkward feeling. It's all for the best, he decided. Otherwise, neither would be able to pay for what the norn considered ale, and since Arin was consuming it such a passion, Dassk didn’t mind not having to foot the bill.

The dwarf told stories by the crackling fire. He spoke of an age that has come and gone, centuries past, when the hair of his beard was soft and his heart pumped warm blood. He told the tales of his battles. He spoke of dwarfs, humans, and an array of large mythical creatures. His voice sung, horribly, dwarfen hymns and battle cries.

The norn loved his company. He filled their hearts with brave words and epic fights; they kept his mug full. It looked awfully silly in his small stone hands. When standing, Arin's head was about level with Dassk's waist, whose head merely reached the chest of most norn. The norn mug itself was about the size of one of the Arin's thick, stocky legs. The stone dwarf was rather pleased with the mug’s relative size and the availability of ale.

Dassk let his eyes wander. Some norn talked and ate while others shouted and drank. Their bodies moved in elaborate gestures with every word. Each step was taken with a large norn confidence, striding purposefully, with the belief that everything else was responsible for moving from their path.

Eventually, a ring was fashioned near the edge of the camp and set up for wrestling matches. With all the drinking, there were many who wanted to prove their strength. Crowds gathered to watch and cheer. The winner was praised. The looser, forgotten. That is the way of the norn.

With all the excitement throughout the camp, it was no surprise to find Dassk's eyes come to settle on one who sat still. He was startled to find a beautiful young woman. She could not be mistaken for a female norn. This woman was small, even for a human, and her skin was pale enough to blend into the snow behind her.

She wore clothing that was tight **** yet short, cut about knee length, like a riding dress made to account for ample movement of legs. Most of her arms were bare. Dassk growled angrily at his furs. I am the only one bothered by this accursed cold!

Dassk collected himself with a deep breath. She must be some sort of sorceress. Sometimes they are immune to the typical limitations of the human body. Many are timid around those who have mastery over the elemental arts, but Dassk spent enough time in battle to know their value. He only wished that he had more of a talent for it. Then, perhaps, at least he could retain some measure of warmth.

Her isolation was a bit disconcerting. Dassk realized that not only were the overly hospitable norn allowing her solitude, something they have yet to grant himself, but they seemed to be avoiding her. He watched as a norn walked over to her, produced a plate, and left without a word. Did they not recognize that she is a woman of power? She should be here, at the main table instead of me, thought Dassk. No doubt she has accomplished greater feats than I. After all, renown is currency among norn.

A warm hand touched the fur on Dassk's shoulder. He turned to see much of the table looking at him “The humans have grown more heroic, as of late,” The young Lika remarked, tilting her chin upward and glancing over to Dassk. “You are not the first human to attract to our notice. Tell me,” she continued, further exaggerating her pose. “Have you heard the deeds of this Logan Thackeray?”

Dassk sighed. He could count the hairs up her nose. Most norn spend little time grooming. They must be unaware of how unflattering some of their gestures look to the races with an upward angle. “I know Thackeray,” Dassk managed to grind the words out.

Lika, oblivious to his obvious distaste for the man, smiled and goaded more from him. “A tale then. Tell us what you remember of him.”

“I remember,” groaned Dassk, “his dented armor. I remember a day when we came off the field, battered and sullen. He had a servant with him, a smith, who did not fight. That smith worked his armor over every night. The next morning it was bright and shining. He rode off the next morning, gallant, with his back upright, staring off towards the battlefield as if it were calling him. At least, that’s how he hoped the people looked at him.”

“I rode next to him that morning. My assortment of leather, linen, and hides made his armor sparkle even brighter in the morning light. We came back that evening after a particularly rough day. He had metal eagle wings decorating his shoulder piece, ha,” Dassk produce a smug grin. “It was bashed right in.”

“I saw him again years later, during the Ashford raids, and I tell him that I can't believe the old armor hasn't been smashed to bits. Apparently he got some mystic to do this runic insignia thing to it. Now the armor **** near buffs itself while he's on the battlefield! We'd be fighting in this pile a mud and his chest plate is still shining away. I fought in those raids with nothing more than tightly woven minotaur hides. It actually taught me how sidestep a charr's axe.” Dassk exhaled deeply as his rant came to a conclusion.

Arin gasped for air as he slammed his mug down on the table. Dongir refilled it quickly. Arin spoke loudly, “Ah. So the charr are still around. I was pulling for them. Good fighters they are. Like these norn. But they don't make good ale like these norn does.”

The alcohol was so thick a barrier that Arin could not see the vile glare that Dassk threw about. “You were pulling for them!” Dassk rose as he shouted. “The charr are horrid!” The norn traded worried expressions. He had the attention of most of the camp. Silence accompanied him as he noticed he had risen to his feet. He sat down quietly and let himself focused on a piece hissing wood in the fire. The steam rose slowly in the cold night sky.

His words came out somber, almost detached. “I remember when I was a kid. When the walls were quaking from whatever weapon they decided to hurl at us that night. I would pray to whatever god would listen. I prayed hard, so that I would not end up in one of their pots.” Dassk turned to Arin and barked, “How can you say that you were pulling for them!”

“Ah yes,” Arin spoke calmly. “They can be very brutal. I did say they were good fighters, did I? And they had a nasty thing for you humans. We were caught in between at times. Ha,” the dwarf laughed. “They ripped right through us!”

Arin erupted into a deeper fit of laughter. Dassk was confused and bewildered. The charr bring their fire and destruction. It is not something to laugh about.

When the stone dwarf finally settled down, his words came slowly. “We all owe our lives to the charr. When the destroyers came, they almost sided with them. If that happened, I don't think the Great Dwarf his self would have been able to save us then. But a few good Charr stoods against them, joined up with Beta himself. Only then were we able to dispose of those foul creatures.” Arin looked around. The norn around him were quiet and listened intently. He found this rather uncharacteristic and unsettling. “Beta found some norn to join up with too.”

The norn cheered. Drunken yelling began anew. Dassk felt alone amidst the swarm of people around him. He sat quiet, isolated, even at the heart of the crowd.

They are good fighters, I'll give them that, Dassk thought meekly while those around him hollered in glee. He'd likely hate the norn as he did the charr if they were the ones that shook his castle walls.

“Beta was really something. I gather that the world would have fallen to the shadow a few times without him.” Arin was still for a moment, recalling old times. He gave some solitary laughs before he was back to the party. “But enough about your ancestry.” Arin grinned and paused for a moment. He knew that would impress the norn. “Tell me something I don't know about the lands today. What of the other dwarfs?”

Dassk looked down; there was not much to say. Arin was the first dwarf he met, stone or flesh. “Humph. Well dwarfen stone is used for magic. It is ground up into a fine powder, I think.”

Arin's eyes widened. “That’s grotesque!”

“Yea. I guess it really is when you think about it.” Dassk never thought that the stone dwarfen statues were once actual living statues. He figured dwarfen stone was just a magical type of rock or something. Like instead of granite, it was dwarfen. “An ounce of the powder goes for about a hundred gold crowns in Divinity's Reach.”

Arin grinned. “My **** is worth more than its weight in gold!” His impish smile creased further. “We could have some real fun when someone tries to collect on that bounty.” He gave a few hoarse chuckles followed by a stare that can only be made by one trying to think with ample quantities of alcohol in their system. His eyes widened. “If this dwarfen stone is worth as much as you say, then I think it's about time I had a little trim. My hair is getting a bit lengthy in back. We'll need a chisel, I gather, but no one touches the beard!”

“It would take a lot for me to trim my beard.” Arin's voice became quiet and his eyes shifted from side to side. “I could never bear the shame of a little beard.”

“Actually, I heard that if you cut the tips, it grows faster.” Dassk replied without thinking, staring off to the women by herself. She was barely wearing any clothes! She was not layered in the furs and hides troubling Dassk. He looked back at the dwarf, also unperturbed by the frigid environment. Dassk sighed.

“Really!” Arin responded with excitement. “It grows faster! So you’re telling me that I could cuts off the tips, sell them for gold, and that would makes my beard even longer!”

Dassk looked to the dwarf. He was lost in the soft pale skin of the women across the camp. “Umm, Yea. I guess so.” Arin looked back up at him in his full inebriated attention. “Well, that's how it works with humans anyway. I'm not really sure how it works with dwarfs.” He began to realize the absurdity of his statement. “I'm even less sure of how it would work with stone dwarfs.”

Arin told a story of a runt that was bullied. Her beard was cut in shame. Eventually it grew and then she grew bigger than almost all the other dwarfs. “I, like most dwarfs,” he said, “haven't had a beard trim in all my life. That must be why hers grew! My beard will get bigger and I will get stronger and I will get rich while I does it!” Arin had gotten so excited that he jumped up onto the table. He now stood about a head taller than Dassk, who was still sitting down.

Arin looked down at him. His stone beard rest on his chest as neatly as Dongier's beard on his chest. Moments ago it held down on Arin's chest while he was looking up at him. If he was truly stone then his beard should not move about so freely. Dassk reached over to touch his beard. It was as stiff as stone should be. Arin shouted, “Hey that's prime merchandise!”

“Haha,” Dassk laughed, bewildered. “You are amazing!”

Arin looked confused by this. Dassk explained further. “The way you walk. You talk. Even the way you drink baffles me. Your mouth is hard stone, yet ale flows through easily.”

“I'll say,” Arin said smiling broadly. “And I can prove it.” Dassk watched as Arin emptied another large norn mug down his throat. When he finished, Dassk touched the small cave past the dwarf’s lips. It was as solid as the mountain the norn encampment was built on.

Dassk smiled back in wonder. “I know. You've been proving it all night.”

“Arha, haha,” Olaus roared. “Indeed he has!” He put a large, burly arm around Dassk and pointed at Arin. The norn was still sitting, yet he was at eye level with the little statue standing on the table. “I would never believe that one as small as you could drink as you have tonight.”

“Speaking of which,” Arin rose and stumbled towards the edge of the camp.

Dassk took the opportunity to escape the crowd. The warm shuffling feet had melted the snow in the main area of the camp, but it was still frozen hard beneath his feet as he walked towards the lone woman. He stepped closer to her, and a strange feeling came over him. Perhaps it was the cold; he should have grabbed his thick overcoat. Dassk pulled his warm fur hood over his head.

Her hair was black silk, cut short in the back and longer in the front, like two canticles protecting the ears. The ears were odd. Though larger, they did not stick out to the side. They curled upwards, ending in a point, nearly reaching the top of her head. Her dress was green and fibrous, intricately woven about her body, tightly encapsulating her petite figure. This was not a woman at all.

Dassk walked closer and could hear words mouthed under her breath. It seemed wrong. The camp reeked of drunken norn, yet now, the air felt fresh, like the smell of an iris field in springtime, far removed from the nauseating stench of concentrated populations. Her pale skin shinned, exposed delicately to the cold. Dassk found himself shifting uncomfortably in his dead animal skin. He winced. A pocket of air reminded him of how long it had been since he last bathed.

He wondered if he had done something wrong, simply by being near her. Dassk certainly felt that her clean little area had been soiled by his presence. He now understood why the norn avoided her.

Her eyes were closed. Perhaps she had not yet noticed him. Dassk clenched his cloak tighter and turned to leave. She opened her eyes and Dassk froze. She spoke softly, “The frost blossoms, they sing for you.”

Dassk could barely hear her, but he dared not get any closer. Fortunately she spoke again, this time louder, “They sing of a creature hard and smooth, as jade, yet warm to the touch. This is not one of Jarmag's frozen abominations. It is seeking a man. This creature will bring them harm if he does not come.” She looked up to him as if just noticing him standing before her. “This man is tall and his hair is the color of fresh snow. His years are few, yet his face is ancient. Legendary.”

A grin slid across Dassk's face in amusement. “That is an interesting riddle.”

The lady glided closer before speaking, “I am Adara.” He watched her arm gracefully float toward his head and let down the hood of his cloak, revealing his scraggly white mane. “And you must be Dassk. The simplest answer to most riddles is often overlooked.” She smiled back at him. He admired her smile, she had yet to show it all night.

Though Dassk had not consumed ale in such a reckless quantity, as did Arin, it still was enough to leave his senses a bit cloudy. From Adara, Dassk still managed to feel an overwhelming sense of curiosity. The rest remained a puzzle, which he set aside for further study.

Adara closed her eyes and mouthed some inaudible babble once more. Dassk stepped back alarmed. “Fear not,” she instructed. “I cast no spells.”

One of her long ears twitched as they heard a loud bang behind Dassk. He turned to see a vast assortment of metal clattering together. Dassk watched Arin fumble with the recently fallen swords, bows, and axes from the weapons rack he had knocked onto the ground. He struggled to his feet and stumbled a few steps before bending over. The stone dwarf heaved. It came out chunky and hard. Dassk gasped as the rough yellow beads sprinkled onto the snow.

The coarse sound of stone rubbing stone filled the cold air as the dwarf wiped his mouth. Arin saw him and called out, apparently feeling much better already. “Hey Dassk, do you think this has any of that dwarfen magic stuff? Ha, we're gunna make a fortune!” Arin's head wobbled loose, contrary to the apparent stiffness of his arms and legs. Bracing himself, he reached up, grabbing hold to the hip of a nearby norn. His eyes settled on Adara. “Ah, good. You've finally talked to the lass you've been ogling all night. We can't leave early. I may need the morning to,” he paused to find a suitable word. “Recover.”

Arin pulled a pouch from his stone pocket and collected his dwarfen magic. He was careful not to touch the jagged chunks of stone with his fingers. He tied the pouch tightly, and it disappeared back into the stone depths of his pocket. Arin grabbed another large norn mug of ale.
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Children of Legend - GW Fanfiction
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#5 Aug 14 2011 at 7:59 PM Rating: Decent
26 posts
Chapter 4 – Interesting Creatures


“Why are you laughing?” Adara asked Dassk.

He turned to look at the inquisitive sylvari laboring through the snow beside him. Dassk felt he had finally broken through her detached shroud of mystery. There were so many other questions she wanted to ask, yet now, due to his random laughter, he finally felt like she was admitting she didn’t know everything. “Is it our unfortunate guide, leading the way below?” She giggled a bit at the thought.

Dassk stopped to watch the snow shifting ahead, indicating exactly where the stone dwarf tunneled in front of them. The massive snowstorm, which left several feet of fresh snow atop the mountainous terrain, made the trip difficult for Arin. Adara and Dassk had enough trouble struggling to walk through the snow, sinking down to their knees on occasion, but ultimately, able to move freely on top.

Arin was just too heavy. He maneuvered himself to the bottom of light snow in much the same way as a fish maneuvers itself to the bottom of air. Though he and Adara spent much of the day laughing about it, Dassk was amused by Arin in a different way at the moment.

He forced out a weak chuckle. “Yea,” Dassk lied. “I still find it too absurd to do anything but laugh.” Dassk could be just as evasive about his unique talents as she was about hers.

Her eyes had betrayed her. They held calm during the windy snowstorm. Dassk could barely keep one eye open, even when shielded by his arm, hoping he could at least manage to see well enough to keep his footing, so as not to stumble atop finicky loose snow. When Dassk realized that the snow did not press itself into her eyes, he kept a close watch on her. Not a single flake of white snow clung to her dark dress.

After the storm, when the winds calmed and the snow dunes found steady places to rest, Dassk looked at her dark dress. There was not a single flake of white snow clinging to the fibrous fabric. He shook the snow out from his fur cloak and asked how her dress remained unscathed. She became defensive and quiet. She rarely spoke with him again until he started making fun of Arin digging through the snow.

Dassk decided not to press further. He understood all too well why one would keep a hidden talent hidden. After all, a hidden talent is harder to account for, and although she came on this journey willingly, she still remained suspicious of her companions.

But this is not the real reason most people kept their powers a secret. The truth is, once people know that you are unique, truly special, they treat you different. Whether they do it out of jealousy, astonishment, or outright fear, it never feels good, not to be set as an outcast.

Dassk remained moderately intrigued, but he did not wish to get her upset. Besides, she was enjoying being the mysterious one in their strange little party, just as Arin was enjoying his tunnel through the snow. Perhaps it has brought him back to memories of his youth, digging new passages below the ancient lands of Deldrimor.

He wasn’t sure if he was born with it or whether something happened when he was young, but he was gifted. Dassk can read people completely and unfathomably well. Enough so that he spent his youth isolated. No one treated him particularly good or bad, just indifferent. They did their best to avoid him, fearing that he would reveal their secrets. Some even thought that he would lie about things that they hadn’t done just because the warmarshel would believe him. Idiots, Dassk thought, like I actually gave a damn.

Arin shouted at his fortune when he stumbled across a rock big enough to climb out of his fluffy white prison. Dassk and Adara joined him. From this nice vista, they could see that the valley wind had blown the snow clear on the frozen ice before the giant monument. “How strong do you think that ice is?” Dassk teased the stone dwarf.

“Strong enough and you know it,” Arin responded with a hint of irritation. “Nothing has been through that ice since well before my time.” Arin looked at Adara who was noticeably trying not to laugh. “What?” he pleaded.

“Actually, a dragon came through the ice in a lake somewhere around here.” Dassk met her eyes and she smiled.

“I’m smaller than a dragon,” the dwarf said, tracing his hand along his beard, scraping some snow that clung to the cold stone. “Come on, the garden is around the back.”

Dassk did his best to keep his fur cloak closed tight as they walked through the wind. Fortunately, the howling torrent of air died as they braced themselves against the massive building. When they reached the back, he was amazed to find that Adara was no longer the only plant amidst this frozen waste.

The frost garden was beautiful. Its bright green field clashed magnificently with the white lifelessness of which it was surrounded. At its center was a giant chestnut tree, severely twisted with branches sprouting at unusual angles. It must have desperately fought to find warmth in this permanent winter. It had grown to be old and quite amazingly large, with its thick roots shaping the small field around it. Dassk smiled at the stubborn tree.

There was an old fence, made from rough wood that showed little sign of deterioration, crudely drawn up to make it look like a normal garden. It was sturdy despite years of constant bombardment from the snow and ice in the permanent winter. Draped atop the bed of the garden, flourished a swarm of red flowers. Dassk recognized them from his childhood, when the charr attacks dwindled after the winter raids, the fields outside Ebonhawke were littered with them. The unkempt garden was overrun by irises.

The creature that invaded the garden was at its center, by the stubborn twisted roots of the old chestnut tree, touching the trunk with one of its massive amethyst claws. The irises were undisturbed; the creature hovered above them.

Dassk approached the garden with little caution. He could sense Adara’s hurt as he casually trampled the flowers on the outer edge. She frolicked about, gracefully avoiding them, dancing between patches, even hopping when necessary. The soft soil sunk easily beneath Arin's heavy stone feet.

“The irises are frightened,” Adara warned Dassk. “It wants you.”

“Does it?” Dassk retorted in amusement. He stepped forward. Nothing malicious could be read from the large jade creature.

“Be on guard,” growled Arin. Dassk hesitated momentarily at the dwarf's warning.

The rocky figure slowly turned at the sound of new arrivals. Dassk confidently walked over to it. The creature's claw casually drifted over to Dassk and grabbed his wrist. Startled and confused, He tried desperately to pull away, but the creature's grip held tight, unmovable, despite a claw physically unattached to the rest of its bulky frame. Dassk struggled further, bracing his feet against the creature, and kicked out hard. The result of which nearly broke his wrist. Never had he felt such strength.

“Arrgh!” Arin cried out as he crashed into the monster. He knocked it back into the tree with a solid thud. An avalanche of leaves enveloped the ground as Dassk broke free and fell a few paces back. The purple giant easily picked Arin up and tossed him away like a children’s doll no longer worthy of play. It turned its gaze back at Dassk. Six glowering eyes studied him with intrigue.

Adara stepped beside Dassk. The hulking jade construct ignored her and glided towards him. She placed up her hand and it stopped. “The creature wants you to meet with someone.” She turned her head to the side. “Someone named Boltof.”

Dassk scrambled to his feet, breathing excitedly. “I'm not sure I want to meet the person who would send such a colossal beast to abduct me.” His words came out quickly, yet amazingly calm.

The Jade levitated back a couple of paces and then raced toward Adara, only to stop abruptly a couple of paces away. “I, for one, would not mind having a word with the person who sent this abomination to disturb the sanctity of this place.” She turned away from Dassk and scowled at the creature. Although it appeared to be struggling and straining toward them, the powerful creature remained stagnant, and was unable to progress forward.

Dassk wanted a moment to think. He took a contemplative breath. “She's right lad.” Dassk gave a quick turn to find Arin by his side. He was quicker and quieter than Dassk ever imagined stone capable. His coarse voice filled the bitter cold. “These things don't stop. They be slaves without thought. If it was ordered to bring you to someone then it will not stop until it has done so. It does not sleep; it does not rest.”

Arin's rocky face formed into disgust. He nearly spat the last words out. “It just does as it’s told.” He paused and then sighed. “And I reckon this is not the only one that was sent for you.”

Arin held rigid, pugnacious, shrouded by righteousness. Dassk was having difficulties reading Adara and this troubled him; she was getting weaker. He let out a long sigh, to calm his body and to cleanse his mind. He was cornered. Dassk never liked tight spaces. He reminded himself that he was no wolf, backed into a corner, snarling in fear, ready to go down fighting.

Dassk knew he would have to concede, but he would do so defiantly. Perhaps, at least, he could assert some small level of control. Arin did say these creatures did as they were told, and it still had no intention of harming him. It just wanted him to meet someone.

“Fine,” Dassk barked at the Jade. “I will meet with this Boltof.” Dassk looked to the edge of the small field. “There,” he said, pointing to the giant monument. This master will know that he did not set all the terms of the meeting. Besides, he had to admit he felt a level of comfort there. It was as if it were welcoming him. Maybe it could somehow provide some level of protection as well.

Dassk winced as Adara dropped to her knees. Dassk eyed the towering jade floating motionlessly as he walked towards her. It was content with the arrangements of the meeting and felt little concern about the harm it may have caused. Its crystalline formation reconfigured and eased together. It felt accomplished.

“I'm fine,” said Adara. Her words were weak and frail yet still cut like sharp ice. She had done something and it had drained her. He wondered what extent she would have gone to protect him. She continued to perplex him.

Adara gracefully accepted the hand Dassk offered her. She floated to her feet. “I am merely in need of water. And perhaps a bit of fresh light.” She drifted towards the edge of the garden and buried her hands, grabbing a handful of snow. As she squeezed, the snow melted, seemingly, but its water did not drip to the ground. It simply disappeared. Dassk sent her a questioning glance.

“I will stay here with this fiend.” Her words were confident and assuring. She no longer lacked in energy. Dassk dared not question her. “Take Arin into your building, I'll be along shorty. The jade and I have some things to discuss.”

“Discuss,” Dassk replied with a smug grin. “Yea, you do that.”

“Come,” Arin interrupted him. “I have been foolish and unprepared.” This is the first time Dassk had seen him display anything that could be described as somber. “There are some things in the Hall that I should not have left.”

The pair circled the building until they came to the giant doors at the front of the massive edifice. The door was frozen stiff once more. Dassk banged hard a few times and then gave it a half-hearted kick in despair. He took out his knife and began to chip at the ice that had amassed since the latest storm.

“Don't do that,” Arin said. “It's just clogged.” Arin cleared the snow beside the door until he found a small round window comprised of a thick layer of ice. Arin sent a quick jab right through the ice. Warm air rushed through the hole. Dassk put his hands up to it, momentarily enjoying the heat. “The caves below heat the Hall. Just give it a minute and the door will be as loose I felt after that norn ale.

When they entered the outer chamber, Arin wandered off without a word. Dassk decided that he would wait in the main chamber, with the old statues of the old heroes. He could hear clanging and scraping of metal from Arin in the other room. It sounded as if someone were going through and old shed, piled high and disorganized. Dassk passed the time by looking through old maps of fabled lands.

When Adara returned with the Jade, Dassk suppressed a smile. Adara was bursting with excitement, yet she actively restrained herself from gawking about like a youth, stumbling upon a foreign city. She managed to hold her face still, just as the solid Jade beside her; neither uttered a word. What an interesting creature, Dassk thought in approval.
____________________________
Children of Legend - GW Fanfiction
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Necro Warning: This post occurred more than thirty days after the prior, and may be a necropost.
#6 Sep 04 2011 at 9:15 AM Rating: Decent
26 posts
Chapter 5 – The rise of the Black Mantle

Saul D'Alessio, born man, reborn mursaat, stood defiantly in the chamber, unmasked, smugly basking in their overall displeasure. Wilem, the elder warmarshel, spoke with more than a hint of disgust, “You dare show your face to the nine?” The warmarshel's brow creased. He revealed his face nearly eight centuries ago, yet he still had little restraint in concealing his expression. His long dark hair cascaded over the back of his hard steel throne as he tilted his head to the side and awaited a prompt response.

Saul patiently refrained from speaking, delaying his response simply to anger the warmarshel. The elders wore no masks. As the leaders of the mursaat, they have sworn off concealment, a practice held by mursaat till death. He surveyed the room, studying each of their faces. He has seen theirs many times. They have not seen his since he was fully human.

There were two thrones empty. The one to the far left belonged to the elder aethermancer, Lazarus, a coward who fled the moment the humans and dwarfs set camp on the fire islands. He always said that his throne was made of the souls of his enemies. It now looked like the empty petrified wood in the lands of Cantha. Saul smiled. It looked better empty. His words came out inquisitive yet smug, “I see only seven.”

“The nine are collective entity with no regard to how many are currently present.” It was Talios, the elder stormweaver. His words came out smooth, a light breeze before the typhoon. His face held back a horrific intensity underneath. Saul knew it was only a matter of time before that storm would be unleashed. “Guard your tongue.” His face held calm, for the moment.

“You know why you are here,” the elder warmarshel said, his voice growing louder as he spoke. “The elder sightreaver brought you to the pool for one last reading. Speak now!”

Saul stared at the throne in the middle. That was the sightreaver's throne, his chair by right, paid for with the blood of his former master.

“Caliph,” the warmarshel winced as Saul used his informal name, “did call to me for a final vision.” Saul paused. A mursaat is bound by law to do anything required from the nine, except when it concerns one of their own. He carefully met the eyes before them, daring them to speak first.

Oizys, the elder spiritcaller, met his challenge and broke the silence. “Enough of this charade,” screeched the spiritcaller. “Speak up, human! Else the truth will be taken from you directly.” He was the shortest of the nine and somewhat disproportioned. His chin came to a sharp point; his eyes brooded deep within his sockets. He kept a tight cloak, held high, which hid most of his face, barely within the nine's obligation to remain free of mask. Within the shadowy depths of his hood, Saul could make out numerous scars.

The spiritcaller had a unique way of finding the truth. They would just have to kill him first. There were many present who were merely waiting for an excuse. Saul's defiance had his limits. He would he gain nothing from death and had little desire to become yet another minion of Oizys.

He opened his mouth to speak but Prothemari, the elder illusionist, spoke first. She scolded Oizys. “I've had enough of this petty bullying. It is beneath us. Perhaps he would simply tell us if we asked. He has as much at stake as the rest of us.” She gracefully turned to Saul and spoke elegantly. “Would you please tell us of your last vision?” She granted him a small amount of power and credibility.

This time, there was no hesitation from Saul. He spoke loud and bold, doing his best to emphasize is own power and confidence. “It was a vision of the sealing of the Door of Kamile.” There were a few gasps among the nine. “Perhaps that was a bit too dramatic.” He chuckled, successful in reminding them that he was not without his own unique gifts. “It was of the first seal. Not a vision of things to come. It was in the eyes of Caliph at the end of the great war.”

He shifted his eyes to Cydides, the elder loremaster. At less than two centuries old, he was the youngest of the nine. No doubt he has the story memorized from multiple accounts, including the one by Caliph. He sat attentive, in his simple padded throne, awaiting his description.

Saul spoke of the door’s opening. Without its magical barrier it looked like nothing more than a giant cave. The nine during the great war were talking to these small creatures with big ears, dark rubbery skin, and pointy teeth. I found them to be easily irritable and condescending. The mursaat sorcerers were mostly fighting around the perimeter while the little things were near the door. They sealed it, made some snide remarks and then left.”

Ambrillus, elder lightbringer, spoke slowly, as if it would ease her understanding. “What exactly did they say?” Saul felt the sincerity of her question. Perhaps there was some measure of hope.

Saul looked irritated. “They told us how to charge the soul batteries. They said that even a bookah could manage it. Then, as I said, they left.”

There was silence. Saul knew this would be his only opportunity to sway them. “Caliph told me this would be my last vision with him as my guide. He knew he was going to fight the humans and he knew he was going to die!” Sual paused to gather himself. Caliph should be here, sitting atop his throne not him, pleading on the floor in the chamber of the nine. “He died to leave us this message. The titans must be stopped at all costs. We must seal the Door of Kamile!”

Willem sneered. “And how do you propose we accomplish this task? You said yourself the asura left. I, nor any other, have seen them since. Even if we could hold the lines at the Door of Kamile for a time, there is an endless line of titans beyond. They would overrun us by the weeks end. I’m afraid that the elder sightreaver's death was in vein.”

Saul's anger flared briefly, “You question Caliph's purpose! We must fight! We cannot let the titans ravage tyria! Is there no bravery among you?”

Oizys slumped in his chair. “Bravery,” He scoffed. “A very human trait. A foolish ideal. This is no human storybook. I've killed many brave fools. Power overcomes bravery, no matter which side is more just. A cowardly lion will always crush the bravest mouse. We simply need more power so we can crush any who oppose us.”

Saul dropped to his knees. His words fell silent. To think that he once pledged his allegiance to these men as gods.

Koril, the elder wingleaf, jadespeaker, and expert marksman, spoke weakly, “Where can we get the power to defeat the titans?” He looked lost and beaten, very ungodly.

“A wise question,” Talios chimed. “We still have strong roots in Kryta. With the mantle we can gain more influence over the humans. They can shield us from most of the titan’s harm. His words swept over the council like a calming breeze.

“The mantle will not break the bloodlines of Doric.” Saul spoke strongly, though he knew the truth. Saul cast his lot with the mursaat, and the mantle placed their trust in Saul. They were once his mantle, fighting the charr, defending Kryta, so long ago.

“They will keep to your old teachings. Especially the ones where you revere the mursaat as gods.” The warmarshel spoke sharply. “They will do whatever we tell them to do.”

Saul looked up. His eyes were clear, no longer blinded by rage. The creatures before him sat atop their thrones. He read from them a myriad of emotions. Some were righteous, while others were fearful. Some were inquisitive, uncertain, and nervous. These were not the faces of gods. Perhaps someday he can be forgiven.

“A loyal bunch you made,” Oizys said. “Those white mantle serve us well. I see only one thing that could turn them on us.”

“I understand,” Talios said. “Will you run?” His face held calm, yet his eyes looked into a hurricane, a rush of devastation, waiting to be released.

Saul readied his arm to grab his sword. Before him stood many of the most powerful beings on Tyria. He could not win, he would not flee.

“Surely you do not intend to murder a member of the nine on the chamber floor.” Cydides spoke clearly and calmly.

“He is not one of the nine,” barked the warmarshel.

“It is obvious that he is Caliph’s successor.” Cydides paused for a moment. “Unless there is something I do not know about. The records clearly state…”

“Do not recite the codex to me!” the warmarshel screamed. He slammed his arms on the polished steel of his throne. Then he smiled. “Fine.” He stood up. “Let it be recorded that Saul is called to the throne on this day. You are now the elder sightreaver. This throne is held for life.” The elder warmarshel drew his sword. “It would be prudent to name your successor now.” There were mutters among the others in the chamber.

“That is enough!” The Prothemari screamed. There was silence. “The illusion is set aside. The titans eyes are no longer blind to us.”

“What? You betray us. It is the duty of the elder illusionist to keep us hidden.” The warmarshel's eyes held panic, a fear that swept over the remaining nine.

Prothemari stood, majestic, serene amidst the flustered crowd. “I fight! Go hide behind your humans. Willem.”

She stepped down and offered a hand to Saul. The others got up hastily. The elders left. The jade remained.

Only Cydides remained in his chair. He got up slowly and walked over to Saul and Prothemari. “There may be someone who knows of a way to seal the door, though it goes against mursaat principles.

Saul took Prothemari's hand and stepped down from the platform of the nine. “Mursaat principles hold little appeal to me at the moment.”

Prothemari gave an uneasy grin to Cydides, delighted to have a companion in their rebellion. “He is right. We shame our ancestors. To think that such insipid cowards governed mursaat.”

“This will defy the council.” Cydides warned again. He spoke easily, belittling the tremendous weight behind his words.

“We defy nothing. The council is broken. It's just as the prophecy says; the titans have destroyed the mursaat. Their ways are long forgotten, most of all, amongst themselves. The mursaat were once a benevolent race trying to better the world. I held that belief as I held the illusion protecting us.” She tilted her head and looked at Saul. “I have cast them both aside.” The jade were closing in around them “You command a formidable army. What would you have them do?”

Saul spoke quickly, assuredly in command. “We strike. These beasts must not be allowed to destroy Tyria. For now, the titans should be busy hunting down the cowards fleeing the islands. We can use this chaos, but we must act quickly. The door will be lightly guarded. How do we seal it?”

Saul looked to Cydides. “We must align ourselves with our oldest enemy.” He smiled. “They can help us seal the Door of Kamile. Who better to help stop the titans than their creators?”
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