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Trials and Travels (Semi-lit)

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Renzo

 

Apparently two could play at Renzo's game. Her swift yet calm actions took him slightly by surprise. He would have expected a blubbering idiot from the impression he had gotten from her that morning, but this was something beyond what he had seen. He made a mental note to learn all he could about her history; apparently there was a lot of dirt that would easily interest him. Plus it would be a lot of fun to have Jahan's little pet hanging on to his own leash. He started to squeeze the blanket to check the thoroughness of Celeste's water abilities. It was drier than dirt. Impressive even though the task was simple. He shoved the blanket back into his bag as she started to walk off, then hastened a few steps forward to catch up to her.

 

"I wouldn't do that if I were you," he said as he placed a hand on her shoulder. A small shock ran through his fingers with about the same sting as touching a doorknob after you've dragged your feet across the carpet. "I'm sure you would like to stay within shouting distance of the inn, especially if Jahan needs you. Sacrificing your loyalty to him for someone like me is just too much. Now don't you agree?"

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Celeste~

 

"I wouldn't do that if I were you," he said. He placed a hand on her shoulder. A small shock came onto her shoulder just as if one had built some static charge. "I'm sure you would like to stay within shouting distance of the inn, especially if Jahan needs you. Sacrificing your loyalty to him for someone like me is just too much. Now don't you agree?" She softly sighed. She expanded it so that the container burst, and then she congealed the water around Renzo's hands and froze it. If he tried to shock her again, he would receive the same shock that could pose a problem to him. "Renzo. I believe that I have told you once before: His name is NOT Jahan. It is Lord JahanSHAH." She turned towards him. Her voice had become ice cold. "Second. I don't do what I do for YOU. This is my choice. Now, leave me be. Please?" She asked him with her sweetest voice, and she retreated into the night.

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Renzo

 

Renzo flinched when the ice encased his hands. The ice burned more than his first experiments with lightning, but he knew the consequences of firing electricity to break the ice. He was lucky earlier when his legs had been encased in it; he had had the advantage of the fabric of his trousers to prevent any extra shock to himself so he could shatter the ice. Now he would have to wait all night for the stupid stuff to melt. How bothersome.

 

Of course, now he knew one of Celeste's weaknesses. Simply mentioning the name Jahan was enough to set her off. This was going to be an invaluable plaything for him, but he would have to use it sparingly, and never in front of Jahan. As much as he loved to mess around with people, even Renzo knew better than to take advantage of Jahan's so-called kindness (at least, that's what Renzo was going to call it until he found a better word to describe the odd situation he found himself in).

 

"Come back if you feel lonely. I'm not going anywhere," Renzo called after Celeste for just one last jab at her. Then he leaned against the building and sank into a sitting position while staring at his frozen hands. Man, this was going to be one really annoying night now. The ice was going to take forever to melt, especially in the night air. He sighed in frustration as he began to rub the ice together. At least he could start breaking it down from the outside.

 

 

 

Luna

 

Luna sighed and set down her jacket on the ground. The blood stain only seemed to sharpen in the glow of the fire, making Luna relive the event again and again. The night was cold with just her tunic to cover her torso and shoulders, but the fire was able to give her some sense of warmth as she stared into its embers. She had slowly let the thoughts of the others trickle into her mind a few minutes ago, but she wanted to stop. They all seemed so incredibly...depressed. She knew that on a day like this the morale of everybody was going to be at an all time low; it was to be expected with so much death, but she hadn't realized how badly it would affect her. Every emotion magnified itself within her. It was taking every ounce of self control to prevent herself from screaming, crying, punching the ground, tearing her hair out and throwing herself into the fire. She hated it. She hated it so much. Part of her wanted to be one of the dead so that she wouldn't have to listen to all this chatter and stupidity. Maybe it would have been better if she had passed out in the battlefield, only to awaken the next morning as everyone was being buried. They would have started to carry her away just as she mumbled her way back to life. The initial shock of the battle would have disintegrated in the hours that had passed, leaving her with only a fraction of what she had to deal with right now. It was simply wishful thinking, though.

 

Luna finally shut off her mental connection to everybody. It was like receding into her own silent room. Quiet. So much quiet. Even that seemed to haunt her. It had been quiet out in the woods while she slowly endured the pain of her injuries before Aketsu had arrived. She remembered how much her heart had thudded in her chest as she pleaded with fate to bring help instead of death. She didn't want to do this again. Her hand gripped her cane as her father's awful thoughts found their way back into her mind. You're a failure, a disgrace. You can't fight battles, let alone hold your own anywhere. How am I supposed to expect you to live up to what you are when you can barely even talk correctly? You're not good enough. You never will be. Of course, Luna wouldn't let the very worst thought in. No matter how many times she had listened to her father, she had only heard him think it once but it was certainly enough to have a dangerous sting. She squeezed her cane until her knuckles turned white. No, I will not think about it. With that, Luna's thoughts stopped. Her mind was left in an empty void as the firelight glowed in her eyes.

 

Slowly Luna began to feel something different in the camp. Peace. She had blocked all negative mental activity, but the calm and quiet of Isis had managed to slip through her barrier. She looked up from the fire to see that he was silently growing flowers in the shelter of his willow. She blinked once, twice. How odd. Then she began to grow curious. She placed her cane in front of her and began to stand shakily on her left leg while she used the cane to support the rest of her weight. Once she found her balance, she began to slowly hobble over to Isis, shifting her weight to her cane each time she jumped with her left leg to prevent any weight from resting on her right. It was tricky, but within a few moments she was taking a seat in front of Isis as he continued growing his little flowers. Finally she asked him one thing.

 

"Why?

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"Why?

Isis looked up and smiled at Luna. He had heard her coming up but didn't notice her until she had spoken. He shrugged. "Why not?" He paused and sighed. "Really... I don't know. I guess it's just... Peaceful. To see life. Growth." Suddenly, several flowers popped up next to Luna. They were dark violet. He buried a handful of seeds in the ground next to him and did a lifting motion over it, creating a small bouquet of daisies. He plucked them up and offered them to Luna.

 

"These were her favorite flowers..." he whispered. "Take care of them." He waved his hand above his head, and the small area under the willow was lit with a soft light. Small clumps of glowing moss placed strategically around the shelter provided this light.

 

He placed his hand on hers, looking into her eyes. "Are you alright? You seem... troubled. In a different way than the rest."

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Luna

 

Peaceful. What a nice word, especially at a time like this. Luna tried to hold on to its ringing tone as long as possible as the dark violet flowers popped up around her. They were the same color as her eyes, and their appearance was sharpened at the glow of the moss. She looked at her hands to see that there were now daisies within her grip.

 

"These were her favorite flowers. Take care of them." Luna nodded in agreement. She didn't know how long they would last, but considering who they were coming from it would probably be for a long time. Her trepidation about Zepheena melted away at the simple gesture. If Isis cared so much about her, then she could forgive all the negative aspects she had seen in the girl. Luna used her free hand to gently lift one of the violet flowers and add it to the bouquet, a symbol of her own protection. When she put it back, Isis's hand rested on hers as he asked her if she was alright. It seemed like a stupid question for him to ask. Didn't he know? Hadn't he been listening this whole time? How difficult was it for him to figure her out? Then she remembered that he couldn't hear her. All those thoughts wrapped up in her head were hers alone. Nobody could hear them even if they wanted to listen unless they were like her, a Space Elementian. How did they ever manage to live like that? Her first years of life had been a cacophony of minds smashing together in her head in an endless barrage of noise until she learned to control it, but she had always been aware of what everyone was feeling. It was easy to know how to behave around someone because she could hear it, but how did everyone else manage? Was the world really that lonely?

 

"I... I can hear everything," she began softly. Her gaze focused on the bouquet. It was difficult to meet Isis's eyes. "All the grief, th-the anger, the frustration. I-it all reverberates through my head and sometimes it gets a little difficult to shut it off. But you're different. You're the calmest person here, that's why I came over here. I don't want to listen to them anymore." She looked up at Isis as if she was evaluating him. Then she dropped her eyes back down again. "But you can't understand," she muttered. "You've never had to listen to it all before. All the awful lies, sorrows, memories, opinions, insults, plots, everything. There are times when I wish I had been luckier. The Space Element is a curse."

 

It seemed harsh. Harsh but honest. Luna felt ashamed and relieved at the same time. Now Isis knew. Nearly every thought that had been bothering her was now out on the table for him to see. It was also terrible. Exposing herself so easily to someone she barely knew was cause for a reevaluation of her minimal social skills. Opening herself up like that contradicted her usual quiet, shy nature. Nobody was supposed to know her thoughts even though she knew theirs, but it had gotten to be too much for her. She had never imagined herself as a happy person in the eyes of others, but this utter downpour of emotion was never part of what she had built her personality on. The weight had been lifted at the cost of what little reputation she had.

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"I... I can hear everything. All the grief, th-the anger, the frustration. I-it all reverberates through my head and sometimes it gets a little difficult to shut it off. But you're different. You're the calmest person here, that's why I came over here. I don't want to listen to them anymore. But you can't understand. You've never had to listen to it all before. All the awful lies, sorrows, memories, opinions, insults, plots, everything. There are times when I wish I had been luckier. The Space Element is a curse."

Isis frowned a little as her listened to Luna. This all sounded... so familiar... He pulled a small daisy from the bunch that Luna was holding and twirled it in his fingertips. "You have no idea how many times I wanted to know what Zepheena was thinking. But I couldn't change my Element. I had to go on with what I had." He sighed.

 

"Look, let me tell you something." He held the small flower to eye level. "Zepheena... She was obviously a Light Elementian. But... I am almost certain the her wish was to be able to control the Fire Element like her father." He shook his head. The flower in his hand burst to life, growing several buds which opened up and showed more flower petals. "She trained at the Academy, but she never was able to come to full strength. She was constantly wishing she was someone else and didn't focus on the here and now. What she had right in front of her." Then he sucked all the life from the plant, causing it to whither and crumble. "Maybe if she had understood, this could have been avoided..." He looked up at Luna. "Don't wish for something else. Your life could be wasted away if you spend it wanting to be someone you aren't. You are a Space Elementian. That is who you are. It is an amazing Element. Don't let anything hold you back." He smiled. "You are great."

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Everyone was moving and it was too hard for Isa to keep track of it all. She didn’t feel like eating and she had to make sure that she was taking care of herself. It took her a moment to shift her armor enough to get a good look at her side, but decided to just walk into one of the tents and change. The time it took her to change was annoying for it was the same amount of time that it took Luna and Nerio to make their meals. One was with meat, and the other was with just vegetables. In her mind, she had already decided to try both so that neither of them would be offended.

 

Now that her body was free of the constraints of armor, she was able to sit down and take a good look at her wound for once. It was deep and painful,, but not something that would harm her for the rest of her life. It would need a bit of the alcohol that they had poured into it, or maybe some sort of plant. Whatever it was, she needed to get it done as soon as she could before it sealed up.

 

Her eyes wondered to where Aketsu was, her arms longing to hold him and be held by him just for the sake of comforting one another. The way that he had handled things was well despite his normal behavior of the past. It was taking time for her to get used to this new Aketsu. The one that took charge, told her how to act and even went so far as to tell her what to do sometimes. What was most surprising, is that she actually enjoyed it. If he pushed to hard, she pushed back of course, but it was all in love and caring for one another.

 

There was a small sigh of relief as she sat down between the two fires that had been started. She wanted to sit with Nerio but for some reason, no one was sitting with him. Had he gotten angry? With a frown she looked at him for a long moment before feeling a hand on her shoulder. It was the ancient queen.

 

Viosa looked at Isa for a moment from the distance. The camp seemed to devolve into a sense of normalcy at least for the time being. Yuaki and Eirikr were sitting at a fire together and then there were the two leaders in the distance. It seemed, from what the grass whispered to her, that the two underestimated each other and overestimated themselves. What an odd contrast for Aslano to have decided on. But with the release of Aketsu’s memory and Kai’s knowledge, the two were rather well matched.

 

She watched as Isis built his shelter of weeping willows. What an apropos plant to place around oneself in misery. He was a very talented young man with the trees. She had never really gotten along with trees because of how stubborn they were, but it seemed that he had the kind and almost undemanding nature to deal with them. It made her smile as Luna walked over to speak with him. The girl needed the peace that was evident on Isis’ face. Luna had far too much turmoil within her, poor dear.

 

Her gaze turned back to Isa who would need help with her wound. A sigh came from Viosa as she stepped up beside Isa, laid her hand on her shoulder, then knelt down in front of the princess.

 

“What do you plan to do?” she knew that her question surprised Isa, but the princess soon understood what she was asking.

 

“I don’t know…we haven’t really talked about that and I don’t know if he knows yet…” she said with a wry grin. “One of the princes of New Aero and the Princess of Sola. Both of the sky.” Isa smiled then grimaced as she felt the odd sensation of having the wound cleaned. It was with some sort of numbing and antiseptic plant so her wound stopped hurting after a small amount of time.

“Don’t forget that things will workout if you two work together.” Viosa stated as she wrapped Isa’s ribs in plants not only to cover the wound, but also to help with the hitch in Isa’s breathing. Viosa had identified the hitch as a fracture in a few ribs from a fall but it wouldn’t keep her from doing her activities.

 

Once Viosa was done, Isa stood and grabbed two bowls. She took some of the meat stew, and some of the vegetable stew. When she sat down she offered them both to Viosa who took which one she wished and the two ate in silence.

 

Noe had made sure to keep the fire going for a time before noticing that everyone was separating off. Of course, this was supposed to be natural, but she hoped that the separation didn’t symbolize anything deeper. Now that there was a lull, the young girl could feel her body slowly but surely start to shut down. She had wounds from fighting but nothing that time would heal easily. There was a cut along her cheek, a few scratches on her wings, some gashes along her torso. Nothing abnormal from flying in fro above everyone and killing them like that.

 

Fortunately for her, it still had not really sunk in that she had killed other lives. She had the feeling that that would come on the morrow. For now, she needed to shift and use the salves that had been sent with her. She walked into one of the tents and found her clothes laying there. There was a small mirror set up and she found herself to be something rather fierce to behold and somewhat scary too. Her eyes were still the same gray and her body was now also a grayish black. Her back legs were like a black panthers with a panther tail that had feathers on it as well. As to her front, they were as a ravens. If she were to fly anywhere at night, it would be very hard to detect where she was; a useful tactic.

 

She watched herself in the mirror as she shifted, learning how each part of her griffin body correlated to her human body. Her shoulder blades were interesting since it seemed to be that that was where her wings came from. With a slight twist, her eyes fell upon her tattoos. She hadn’t noticed or seen them before so it was a surprise to see a griffin on her neck and wings on her back. No wonder she had been itching!

 

A small smirk of surprise came from her as she realized that it was the parting gift from her father. It was a wonderful gift, but she had to take care of her wounds at the moment instead of concentrating on that. So take care of them she did. The salve stung crazily, but it reduced the redness of the wounds as well as kept them from getting infected or dirty by providing a barrier.

 

Once she was sure that she was finished, she reached around behind her to grab a pair of loose pants and a loose shirt…in fact…hmmm maybe they were. She didn’t really care but she had probably grabbed one of the guys’ pairs of clothes which didn’t matter to her if they didn’t mind. It was loose just as sh needed to allow her wounds time to heal at least just for the day. She felt like a kid again in the clothes, but with a belt around her waist, where there weren’t any wounds, it was rather comfortable and somewhat presentable.

 

She stepped out of the tent to gather some soup for herself then sat down beside Nerio who leaned his head on her shoulder. She too leaned her head on his head and the two sat there just as the siblings that they claimed to be, with the oldest gone.

 

 

Marcus looked at the jacked and quickly took it, leading the way into the hotel. He hated being noticed and he hated being seen…but what if this wasn’t exactly a bad thing? His name was on much of the heirloom jewelry of the nobles in all Shadow Alliance towns with his normal jewelry sold in shops in neutral towns. That meant that he was a household name at times and meant that people may trust him even more if they were willing to be protected from the Light Alliance. If Jahanshah, Aamina and Betzalel shut down the machine at just the right time…he might be able to incite an even larger upheaval!

 

He waited until the lady told them of their rooms and he paid her heavily for her services. She was probably already well paid, but he knew all too well the rigors of a servantile life to the Queen. The woman seemed to accept his gift and he lead the way to the rooms where he quickly chose one…hoping that Jahanshah would notice his perterbance and hopefully the young lord wouldn’t be upset.

Aamina watched Renzo walk out of the room after Celeste. The girl was several years older than she was, and she was dramatic and unthinking. Her mind was always to the extremes and it set her on edge at times, but provided an interesting source of entertainment as well. The Renzo fellow was also funny. He seemed to be two sides of a coin but always played one side wholly with the other side peeking in now and then.

 

With a chuckle, she stepped out side to see Renzo with his hand frozen. She had to contain a smirk as she watched him try and break down the ice. “It won’t work. Once the water has been changed as she does, it is hard to undo without fire or heat from the earth.” She stated. She had already checked to make sure that no one was around now although a few had stopped earlier to see how the man had gotten his hand frozen. There was another thing! She didn’t think about location. In a way, Aamina almost pitied Celeste.

 

After mentioning the heat from the earth, she pulled a small amount of molten lava from the earth and held it in her palm. “It really helps with the ice situation.” She stated and wondered what he would do.

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Renzo

 

Renzo's brows furrowed in frustration as he tried over and over to crack the ice around his hands. The burning cold was becoming more of a nuisance than he was willing to tolerate, but his efforts were yielding less than admirable results. He tried a small shock to try to break it up, but he only felt the electricity crackle around his fingers. After a few more minutes of futile efforts he realized that he wasn't alone.

 

“It won’t work. Once the water has been changed as she does, it is hard to undo without fire or heat from the earth.”

 

Renzo grimaced. He should have known something stupid like that would come along with Celeste's powers. She wasn't a Water Elementian for nothing. It would have been exceedingly difficult for him to produce a flame without the use of his electricity because of his icy hands, so he could easily feign inability over ignorance for not trying harder. He looked up at Aamina as she held out some lava to melt the ice away. His nose wrinkled in disdain. Lava. What an awful substance. He was an element of the sky, well above the dirty ground. The ground was his adversary; that's why the lightning always struck it as hard as it could. Still, he couldn't help but think about how relieved he would be if the ice was gone. Renzo couldn't tell if his hands were turning purple and becoming frostbitten yet because the ice was so thick, and he was reaching the edges of his tolerance with this situation.

 

Finally he stood up and held out his hands to Aamina. "Don't think this means I owe you anything," he growled. He could already feel the electricity crackling around his hands in anticipation.

 

Luna

 

Luna listened quietly to Isis's words. It all seemed so odd to be hearing that, but she could feel a small, gentle smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. Why couldn't more people be like Isis? He had such a bright outlook on life with a soothingly calm nature to go with it. Maybe Univerum wouldn't have been such a rigorous place to grow up in if more of the scholars that had surrounded her in her youth had a small part of Isis's personality.

 

It was exactly the words she needed to hear, though. Aketsu had touched on it earlier that day, but Isis's calm, caring nature carried the point all the way across. She was valuable, lucky, and strong, but only if she wanted to be. So far she had been listening to everybody else except the important people. She would have to start making some changes so that she wouldn't shame herself again like she had today. Part of her wanted to make that difference by taking on the search for Loren, but there was no way she was going anywhere for awhile until her injuries healed up. She still had yet to even dress them, but everyone else had been so busy with their own problems that it just seemed rude to ask.

 

Thank you...so much. Luna started to use her telepathy to speak. It just seemed so much more meaningful that way, plus it was quieter and would not disturb the other members in the camp. Do you have any idea how good you are at this? Luna's smile broadened a little. You're great, too. You have no idea what you just did, but it was, simply put, great.

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Sky had dismounted before the lady at the inn told a few stable boys to take care of their horses and before she said that there were five rooms waiting for them, three for the boys and two for the girls. She watched as Celeste went outside upon hearing the news of there only being two rooms for the girls and would have suggested that she could share her room and she could just have the floor while Celeste had the bed but it was too late to suggest it since the other girl had already gone outside to sleep. She then followed after Marc after her fiance had paid the woman for their rooms and chose one of the ones that were for the girls. She was a bit sad that she wouldn't be sharing a room with her love but she figured that she would be okay without him by her side. She would probably have more bad dreams about what would happen later if she were to take a nap before they set their plan in motion or if they decided to do it the next morning instead. She sat down on her bed and sighed as she looked around the room that she had chosen for herself.

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Kai took hold of Aketsu with his good arm and stopped the man from pursuing the raft and reporting it to the rest of the camp.

 

"Wait!" He hissed, "We're in no condition to go chasing after Loren, we're in no condition to travel anywhere, or rescue anyone. Listen Aketsu," Kai had already thought up a plan for going after Loren, but now was too early... but maybe it would have to be now.

 

"There's no way we can all go, all of you are obviously from Sola and her allies, you couldn't sneak into anywhere, especially not in our current condition. I already decided how to go after Loren, that was part of what we needed to discuss. You must take the rest of the group, tend to them, carry out burials tomorrow, and prepare for our next encounter with the shadow alliance. I will go with Yuaki and we will bring back Loren. I can pass freely because my kind is neutral, and Yuaki doesn't act like a light born noble like the rest of you. She's also in the best health of anyone right now and I can manage."

 

Kai let Aketsu go, too tired to fight him if he chose another path. "We can be ready to leave in one hour, we'll take the two freshest horses, and go after Loren, will that satisfy you?"

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Thank you...so much. Do you have any idea how good you are at this? You're great, too. You have no idea what you just did, but it was, simply put, great.

Isis smiled, glad he had been able to say what was on his mind. It was something he had always wanted to say to Zepheena, but he had been able to say it to someone, and that was enough. You're welcome, he responded, aiming a thought towards her. You're a... very special person. I can tell that you will not be wasted. He suddenly remembered something and selected a seed from his bag. He gently pushed it into the earth and awakened it, causing it to form a small orange flower. He grew it until it ripened, then he plucked it up and shook out a small amount of seeds. He offered them to Luna. "Poppy seeds." He said aloud, forgetting their mental link. "It will help with the the pain." He gestured to her ankle.

Edited by Silver_Voices

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Celeste~

 

Celeste walked behind a building, and stopped. She had probably been too harsh to Renzo - Skylar might not be able to break that ice... Oh, what do I care about him for?! He insulted both me and Jahan... Oh... but I DID leave him stuck... I should apologize... Hypocrite! Stick with something! Either apologize, or don't! You can't take both sides! You're right... She sighed. She talks to herself - she was absolutely insane. She was fine with that, though, as long as Jahan was satisfied. She sighed, and looked out from behind the building. Aamina had come out of their lodging, and had helped Renzo get out of his icy enclosure. Hearing the river gush behind her, she felt a freezing wind blow upon her face. She shivered, and then thought for a moment. That was it! Everyone liked winter weather! She gathered the newly-melted groundwater along with some river water behind her, and she made it rise high up into the air. While the air was still cold, she formed the water into vapor, creating a large cloud, blocking out the moonlight. She then created individual delicate ice droplets. They started to fall. Everyone likes snow! I'm sorry for acting like that... she thought. Under the new cover of night, she ran towards the palace, in search of provisions they would need for the time ahead.

 

Tractus~

 

Tractus was alone in the forest. The sun had set not too long ago, but he didn't wish to eat. He hadn't been there for when they needed him most. He looked at the moon in contempt. He wasn't any good to anyone! A tear came to his eye. He had never been a use to anyone, not even when he was a child... He walked farther and farther from the campsite. They wouldn't even notice that he was gone. I shouldn't be here... he thought in desperation. I'm no good to anyone... Why am I here if I am just in the way. Luna was right. I should have stayed in Univerium... Unbeknownst to him, it was like he was mentally shouting. He silently lamented, waiting for the dawn to come so that he might leave.

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Noe looked around and watched as Aketsu ran to the raft that Loren had used. He was standing still with Kai taking a hold of his arm and whispering a harsh wait. The longer she looked at the raft, the longer she realized something…it was moving! Loren had to be alive for that to work didn’t he? Wasn’t there a certain way for the raft to move that only he knew? That HAD to be the answer!

When she thought it through, she practically ran to the raft and caught the last of what Kai was saying.

 

She came into their view shaking her head as she held the raft against the wind to keep it from going too far. “No. Yuaki has blue eyes and blue hair. That’s even more so a signal of being in the Light Alliance dontcha think?” she asked him as she looked at the raft, fondly laying her hand on the wood. “I’m a weather elementian and Cumulus is my home. I know the people, I know our ways more than either of you do. I may have been separated from my home at birth, but King Aslano had me train with someone who was from there and taught me our traditions and legends.”

 

She looked at both of them hoping they would understand the sense in it all. “I’m not as strong or powerful as most of you, but having a good storm that confuses them can always set everyone else’s weather systems off. Please, you have to let me go.” She was now down to begging, but she had to. It was her fault that Loren was in this situation anyways.

 

Aamina smirked at Renzo’s comment of him not owing her anything. Oh yes he did. “Well considering that it will take a long time until your hand MELTS, I think you do because I doubt Marcus would do you any sort of favor.” She grinned darkly as she noticed that there was snow. She hated snow and it would make her feel good to melt something that she didn’t like. It was a form of release for her since she had always been trained to be calm, calculating, and unemotional.

 

“But, the only thing that you would owe me, is something that you would enjoy.” She stepped forward, lava raising from the earth only after she had checked to make sure that no one was around to see. “The one thing that you would owe, well two really, is to keep Marcus on his toes and respect Lord Jahanshah. That is all. Easy enough?” she asked as she slowly rotated the lava around his hand to make sure that she didn’t burn him while melting the ice away quickly. When she was finished, she turned to walk away then curiosity caught her.

 

“Do you understand her?” she asked him as she turned back around. She was truly confused about the way that Celeste acted for she thought that all children her age and a few years older were to act a certain way. She knew that Celeste was older than she was so her dramatic actions confused her and also alienated Celeste from Aamina.

 

She had been raised with cold warriors and warrioresses who treated her as though she was one of them. Why couldn’t Celeste think through things as Marcus had claimed she didn’t?

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Creos/Betzalel

 

As the two of them began to discuss current and past events over a pitcher of black ale, Creos sighed happily. "Its been awhile since I had a good drink, this isn't like the watered down goat piss back where i'm staying." Said Creos as he leaned back into his chair and gave a flirtatiousness wink to the woman who severed his drink. She merely gave a small smile as she returned back into the kitchen. Betzalel, meanwhile was merely observing the man from S.A.I. He was making psychological guesses about him, and how he acted around his burn mark. To his surprise, he didn't seemed damage by it, and was actually proud of it. It was odd to him, because a burn mark like that on another man could easily break him. "Speaking of good things... I have a present for you Betty" Said Creos with a joking smile, Betzalel however disliked the nickname given to him... but swallowed his Draconic pride... he could deal with it later. Betzalel saw the man lean in and beginning to whisper. When he was done, Betzalel was very surprised, who would have thought this would have happened.

 

"What good luck... Is he in any condition to talk?" Asked Betzalel as he took a tiny sip of his drink. Creos shook his head and sighed. "afraid not Lord Betzalel. From what I saw, the poor bugger was barely hanging on. We could check on him first thing in the morning to see if his condition is improved." Explained Creos as he downed his glass, before wiping the foam off his mouth. "Bring the Metal Child along, might be a good learning experience for him." He added before the two of them began to talk of other things, as to not arouse suspension.

 

Loren

 

By the time Loren woke up again, it was already nighttime. From what he could see in the window, the moon was high in the sky once more. Snowflakes began to hit the window, before gently melting to the ground. He was feeling better then before, he didn't feel like he would pass out any time soon, but his body felt too weak to do anything beyond a slight adjustment. As he looked out of the window once more, he began to sigh. He didn't know if he should feel saddened, ashamed... or dead. He should have been dead, it was a miracle that he survived. "Why..." He whispered as he placed his head on the pillow. He felt like he failed everyone, Ayame, Z'fan... and worst of all, he felt like he failed Luna. He failed to get her to safety after everything was done, he wondered if she... or anyone else survived the battle. His eyes began to water as he contiuned to look out the window.

 

He wanted to draw something. But at the same time, he felt like he would never get rid of the images of death, war and hate from his mind... Could he ever do what he loved again?

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~Aketsu~

 

Aketsu grimaced sharply when Kai stopped him. The raft was moving, now! There was no time to wait! But he was silent and listened to what Kai had to say. His eyes dawned with understanding as Kai spoke. It made sense; he and Yuaki weren't much like the normal members of Sola and the Academy, and Yuaki hardly had a scratch. Aketsu glanced down at the area where Kai's other arm should have been.

 

"I will go with Yuaki and we will bring back Loren. I can pass freely because my kind is neutral, and Yuaki doesn't act like a light born noble like the rest of you. She's also in the best health of anyone right now and I can manage." Aketsu nodded and glanced at the wind-raft again.

 

"We can be ready to leave in one hour, we'll take the two freshest horses, and go after Loren, will that satisfy you?" Aketsu frowned. "We may not have an hour, Kai. I--" “No." It was Noe, and Aketsu was surprised to see her looking human again. He was glad she looked fairly uninjured. Then she stated that she wanted to go, and something in Aketsu didn't want her to. It made sense, sending a Weather Elementian into Cumulus... but still. Somehow Aketsu felt it was wrong to send both her and Kai, like it was wrong to put them both in danger at once. “I’m not as strong or powerful as most of you, but having a good storm that confuses them can always set everyone else’s weather systems off. Please, you have to let me go.”

 

She was pleading. Begging. She really did want to go. Aketsu looked from her to Kai and back again. Then he looked at the raft. "You have half an hour, both of you. I'll empty the raft of Loren's belongings. When you near the city you'll have to stop it; we can't have a floating raft entering Cumulus, not if our enemies are there. Try not to make a commotion; get in, get out. Kai makes the plans. We'll be following tomorrow." And then, after swallowing, "go with the wind." He put a hand on Kai's shoulder for a moment, then stepped past him and Noe and to the raft. This was his final decision, and he had to stick with it; Noe was right.

 

He held the raft gently and began carefully unloading Loren's paintings and writings. Some of the paintings were incredible, and he was surprised to see one of their group. He used a light string to restrain the wind-raft, but he was careful to not make the wind stop pushing it. Now that the raft had nothing on it it wanted to move even faster. When Aketsu had organized Loren's things, he left Noe and Kai to their preparations and walked back towards the fires. He was quite hungry and everyone else was eating. Yuaki was being especially chatty and only gave him a curious glance before she continued speaking to Eirikr. But Aketsu wasn't interested in them, and soon he found who he was interested in. Isa was sitting between both fires and was next to Z'fan... that is, Queen Viosa. Aketsu could still hardly believe that she was the Queen Viosa, and that of all places in the world she was here helping them. But his attention quickly turned to Isa's wounds. They were more abundant than he had initially thought, although now they were nicely wrapped by Viosa.

 

Aketsu approached, staring with concern at Isa's wrapped ribcage. "Queen Viosa," he said in a quiet, respectful, almost melancholy greeting. "Thank you for assisting us thus far. We would not have made it without you and Battlemate. Isa," he turned to her, trying not to let the deep emotions he felt edge their way into his voice. He knelt in front of her and his gold eyes searched her face. His voice was soft and sincere. "Are you alright?" She looked okay, but Viosa had wrapped her wounds... Viosa had done the same for Ayame before he died. Aketsu wanted to be sure, absolutely sure, that the love of his life wasn't about to fade into shadows of death due to some internal injury. Only when he was sure, so very sure, would he allow himself to embrace her and then get food and tell her what they discovered about Loren.

 

~~~~~~~~~

 

~Yuaki~

 

Yuaki listened with fascination to what Eirikr was saying about Terra. She hadn't known that Terra's tunnels were so extensive, nor had she really considered the attitude of Lord Gerald. When he finished speaking, she whistled softly. She was done eating by now and saw that others were finishing up too. She allowed herself a little sigh and a smile. "Well," she said contently, "I'll take your dish and the dishes of others and get them washed. There's a river not too far away and I'm up for a walk." Eirikr had set down his dish, so Yuaki picked it up and stacked it on hers. She stood to go, then paused and looked down at the weapons. Smiling coyly, she picked up her whip and hooked it on her belt. She glanced back at Eirikr then. "Thanks for helping with the weapons. If you ever need a hand with something, feel free to ask." Even though unlike you and others I can't exactly use my element to help. With that she walked off to continue collecting dishes, though she was careful not to disturb people who seemed deep in conversation or thought.

 

~~~~~

~Jahanshah~

 

Everyone seemed to be getting settled fine, so Jahanshah allowed himself the liberty of exploring the place around the Inn a bit. Betzalel and the apparent helper Creos had gone off to drink--Jahan's mother had made him swear he wouldn't have a drop of any 'mind-twisting drink' before he left--and Marcus and Skylar were getting settled in their respective rooms. Celeste, Aamina and Renzo had all gone around the corner of the hotel, as though to check on the horses. Jahan was sure Aamina would keep them in check if need be, though he didn't want to put all the responsibility on her. Overall the group was doing well and getting along well enough. This left just Jahanshah and Aoi at the front. Jahan turned to his friend.

 

"I suppose I should fill you in on what exactly we'll be doing here in Cumulus," said Jahanshah. "I'm sure you've received some details, but we have specifically decided on a course of action." Jahan took a blank board and set it before him. He allowed a little metal to sit on his finger and it formed a sharp point. He then mentally felt over the shape of the metal on his stomach--the map he had carved earlier--and drew it with his finger on the board, exactly as he had carved it. He was pleased with the work and held it up to Aoi. It was complex, but readable. He spoke quietly, although no one was around. "As you know, we are to start a riot here. Betzalel believes we should be able to start one within four days, for the people here are already anxious. While Marcus and you and most of the others incite a riot, we shall be trying to convince the leaders of Cumulus to join the Shadow Alliance, in a very discreet manner. If they do not--and I do not believe they will--we will have Aamina and Betzalel steal the Weather Machine and transport it towards Terra. The people of Cumulus will no doubt believe Terra has joined the Light Alliance and stolen their machine for personal purposes, and if their leaders still refuse to join we will either allow them to overthrow the palace or we will do it ourselves. Then they go about placing a new ruler over their city and we have Cumulus on our side." Of course the plan was more complicated than that, but that was the basic gist.

 

"The turmoil of Cumulus will last days after the riot as some members will wish to join with the Light Alliance still and will see through the riot, but we have part of a militia coming to 'support' the choice of Cumulus to join the Shadow Alliance." Jahanshah paused a moment. "They will see clearly then; they will see that Queen Zillah is not evil as the Light Alliance made her out to be. They will see her strength and how she does care for her peoples. Their young will train at our Academy with no bias against them. Those that are trained at the so-called 'Light Academy,' trained specifically to hunt down those who use 'Shadow-Alliance-Elements,' will be destroyed. Cumulus will see how wrong it is to train people to destroy a person just because of their element, and they will see that Aslano is not as strong as they believe him to be. He is good as far as leaders go, but Queen Zillah is great." He turned to Aoi then, curious. "So why did you choose to officially join the Shadow Alliance?" There was no suspicion in Jahan's voice; he had no doubt that Aoi was his ally, and perhaps his greatest here. He was just curious about his friend's choices.

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With a silent nod Eirikr acknowledged Yuaki's offer. He sat there musing over the past and present in silent mutters. Feeling the night getting deeper he rubbed his eyes before standing up. He decided to do something he hadn't done in a while, stalk. He went after Yuaki, following her quietly through the trees to the forest. He stood some distance behind her watching from next to a tree. She was indeed a good looking girl. Eirikr wondered what her plans were for after the war.

 

After a while he walked off. Eirikr headed back towards camp. A glance at Aketsu made Eirikr wonder what was so interesting about Lorens raft. Had they already given up on him? It didn't matter, Eirikr had done what he needed to do for the night. He walked over to one of the tents and carved Yuaki's name on the front. Inside he left a piece of slate with a message on it.

 

Yuaki,

Please don't tell anyone that I plan to leave early again. The bodies will be buried tonight, the rest will be in their graves just needing the dirt on them. I will leave markers for you to place with the unburied. The rest will be marked. I will meet the group at Cumulus when you reach it. There is a farm on the way. I will arrange with the farmer to set aside some supplies for you, if I can. Please keep this a secret.

~ Eirikr

 

Leaving it in the middle of the tent Eirikr made his way to the battle field. Kneeling next to the first body he began to form a pit and a grave marker. He worked hard all night to get as many done as possible.

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Tractus~

 

Tractus looked around in the bright moonlight. The surroundings were surreal - it was as if someone had painted a picture. It didn't look real. Tractus liked nights like this. Looking around, he saw that the forest was deserted. He softly sighed, and stood. He then started to walk towards the edge, or so he thought. Soon, he ended up getting lost. Confused and disoriented, he finally roke through the edge of the forest. There was a large clearing that had large battle scars. He shuddered. War wasn't his strong suit - he always preferred to avoid a fight rather than contend in one. Tractus looked closely in the distance... There was someone there! He silently walked over to the figure, seeing that ir was Eirikr! Why wasn't he at the camp? And he was burying the dead... "Well, what are you doing up so late? I thought I would be alone out here. Would you like some help?" Tractus sadly asked. These were the casualties of the battle he didn't participate in. This made him gag.

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Renzo

 

Renzo grimaced as the ice melted away from his hands. He agreed with Aamina about Marcus; from his initial impressions he knew that the guy was going to be more of a nuisance than anything else. Renzo knew of the tempers of some of the Fire Elementians, but they always seemed more bothersome than necessary. He had to let a smile curl the corners of his lips up, though, at Aamina's favor. Of course he would oblige in keeping Marcus on his toes; respecting Jahanshah...well, he would figure out something for that. He had no intention of taking the young man's authority, but there was no guarantee that he would listen to everything the guy said. He would just have to find a way to make it look like he was being obedient without letting anything slip. Renzo began rubbing his hands together to regain some warmth as Aamina began to walk away. He stopped once she turned around and asked him about Celeste.

 

"Honestly? I only know her from what I've seen today, which isn't much." Renzo grinned. "As you can see, though, she is very easy to anger. It didn't take much to get her to freeze me twice in one day. I'd say she has a temper problem, but most of it has to do with respect for her beloved Jahanshah. It's obvious she's obsessed with him. Other than that, well..." He looked down at his open palms. "I'll just have to see what happens. I'm certain she is going to be one interesting person, though, but who isn't? Everybody has something that makes them tick, and I'm pretty sure I'm not done with Celeste just yet."

 

Luna

 

You're a... very special person. I can tell that you will not be wasted.

 

It was such a nice thought to hear, one that could not come often enough to Luna's thirsty ears. She latched on to the moment for as long as possible until the voice of Isis awoke her from her quiet reflection. She held the poppy seeds before her in her palm, quietly analyzing the tiny objects. She couldn't remember what she had taken for her injuries back at the Academy (she had rarely been injured in the first place since much of her training had been in mind games), but she couldn't remember any natural remedies like poppy seeds. She stared at them for a moment longer before she swallowed a few. The throbbing died down in her ankle and the only real reminder of the cut in her shoulder was her blood-stained tunic. She knew she would have to wash that sometime soon, but it would be okay for now. There were a few more in her packs. She was more worried about her jacket anyway. She didn't know just how irreparable the damage had been on it; only the morning light would give her an accurate understanding.

 

"Thank you," Luna said out loud. There was no need for her mind tricks anymore. "I really appreciate it. Is...Is there anything I can do for you? I mean, you've done so much in one night that I feel like I'm not holding up my side of some unseen bargain."

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"Thank you. I really appreciate it. Is...Is there anything I can do for you? I mean, you've done so much in one night that I feel like I'm not holding up my side of some unseen bargain."

Isis smiled gently and shook his head. "No, please don't think that way. You don't owe me anything." He ran a hand though his hair. "See, I'm doing this not only for you, but for me as well. It's consolation for myself. Everything I've told you, I've wanted to say to Zepheena at some time. To know I helped someone with the same words... It's as if I helped her as well."

 

Isis spotted the blood on her shirt. "Are you badly wounded? It looks like it's bleeding quite a bit." He searched back in his mind, trying to remember the long boring lectures about plants and their healing properties. It probably would have been a good thing to have been paying attention. He glanced at his collection of seeds and hesitantly picked some out. "I'm not as competent with healing as I should be for a Plant Elementian. I always though Zepheena would be able to heal the bumps and scrapes." He sighed. "I just know that the best thing for healing cuts is zinc." He handed the pumpkin seeds themselves to her. "Seeds have lots of zinc. You'll be better in no time."

Edited by Silver_Voices

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Naomi's father was just filling out some forms when she flounced onto the patient seat in front of the desk. He stacked them and then placed them in the side drawer, then turned to look at her. "Are you done already? Is the man awake?"

Naomi hesitated, then nodded once. "He's awake. I didn't say anything to him, though." Her father smiled, then leaned over to ruffle her green hair, and she ducked her head slightly instinctively. "You did good. Why don't you go help your mother at the hotel, then?" At this, Naomi grinned and nodded, then jumped off the chair to leave.

 

The hotel was indeed busier than Naomi had thought. She had always felt nervous around so many people, so she decided to go around to the back, a place where the crowd usually stayed away from. She hopped over a broken fence and started walking around to the side of the building, then stopped dead in her tracks as she heard a hushed voice around the corner. It was quiet, but since Naomi spoke quietly all the time, listening and making out words that were impedingly quiet was easy for her.

 

"Cumulus will see how wrong it is to train people to destroy a person just because of their element, and they will see that Aslano is not as strong as they believe him to be." The voice was soft and Naomi could recognize it as a boy's. She gasped when she realized what he had said and shrank back into the shadow of the wall. There were two people there, then, unless he was talking to himself. The boy's voice continued. "He is good as far as leaders go, but Queen Zillah is great. So why did you choose to officially join the Shadow Alliance?" Shadow alliance? But what could they be doing here in Cumulus? She stopped breathing, to hear the other person's answer.

 

------------------------------

 

Aoi shrugged. "Why not?" It was a vague answer, but one he often sat on, as an excuse when he didn't quite want to reveal anything that was asked of him. He knew Jahan well. Aoi knew that he probably wouldn't ask any more, seeing that he trusted him. "It's fun, all the same." He stated. Suddenly, he could hear a quick, soft sneeze come from the back of the wall. His expression turned to one of interest and sidled towards the wall. "One minute, kid..." He turned and rounded the wall swiftly.

 

Panicked, Naomi turned to run, but a strong hand firmly grasped her arm before she could get away. Turning to look at her offender, she found herself looking at a man with strong blue eyes and long orange hair. The man pulled her into the light, to face the other person, who, Naomi wasn't shocked to see, was a boy.

"Hm... looks like I caught a little kitten listening in..." The man smirked and thrust her forward, letting go of her arm. "Let's see... What should we do with her?" Aoi narrowed his eyes. "She could be associated with the Light Alliance."

Edited by lachrymation

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Viosa looked at Aketsu as he spoke to her but her eyes held some strange emotions towards the name tha the had used. It was obvious that it was a name that she had long ago forgotten about and wished to never be reminded of because of the mistakes that she had made despite her being known as a great and wonderful queen. Her head nodded in silent recognition of what he was saying. “You are welcome great Prince.” She stated and smiled as she could taste how these words were words that would take him a long time of getting used to. She didn’t mind, but it was something that he would have to get used to for someday, he may even be king of the Light Alliance, who knows.

 

“You loved one is safe unlike Ayame was. Just because things happen once one way, doesn’t mean they will happen the same way again.” She stated her voice thick with emotion. Just because she was over 300 years old didn’t mean that she was a heartless woman. The loss of her mate as well as her life-long friend had taken a mental toll on her that would take time to heal.

 

Isa looked up at Aketsu with a bright smile before she glanced down to where he was looking. It hurt her to move and breath, but she would be fine. “I’m great…compared to others.” She said glancing at Noe and Kai. Kai seemed to be doing better than she had thought with the loss of his arm but maybe it would hit him after all of this was settled. However…considering that he was an earth elementian AND a lighting elementian, he may be able to create himself a fully functioning arm in the future with the aid of some of the highest technologies of the air and space elementians.

 

“How are you doing Aketsu?” she asked as she gently twined her fingers around his hand. “Before you answer…I’m not going to die. It’s just a good sized stab wound and a few fractured ribs is all.” She didn’t mention the other stab wound in her thigh which was also taken care of. He didn’t need to worry about everything that happened to her especially since he was their leader.

 

Noe smiled grimly as Aketsu told her her fighting ordes. “yes sir.” She replied before walking releasing the raft as Aketsu tied a light string to it to keep the raft from blowing away. It was strange how wind elementians could tell whose wind was whose, but then again, weather elementians ad plant elementians did the exact same thing. She glanced back at Kai and thought for a moment before trying to remember old legends. Luckily, she had brought along a few books that weren’t too heavy in her pack and ran to her tent to go and see what she could find. She flipped through the pages while haphazardly packing what she would need as well as what Kai would need. The pages smelled like a library but she kept multitasking even as she sneezed several times. “There!” she exclaimed.

 

In front of her was the short chapter that explained Griffin lore. Her father was one and now she was one with the tattoos to show it. According to legend, Griffin’s were masters of the sky and the united forces of all elements. Of course, there were those griffins that were masters of the earth elements, and those that could only master sky elements, all elements, and whatever else they chose. Those that were born to all sky elements and all elements, could only master that which was of a lesser power. But, those that were of the sky, had tattoos on them. Those that were of the earth were identifiable by the tassels that were permanently in their hair that consisted of twigs, feathers and leaves. The all elements griffins were identifiable by their unnatural cheer and understanding of all that went on with others as wel as their ability to become completely invisible including the impressions of their feet and their feel of the wind around them.

 

Noe was of the all element and sky element mix therefore she had the tattoos of the sky elements but she would never be able to master all of the elements related to the sky. Now legends were deeply inbred to the Lightning, Wind, and Weather elements about Griffins. They were wonderful beings that were given the utmost respect whether or not they were known. If a tattoo could be seen, one that had the peculiar tint of the griffin’s feathers, they were treated as royalty. Noe noticed that if she kept her hair up, her tattoo could be seen. This would give them immediate access into Cumulus therefore making it easier on them. The only problem is that she would be asked to stay by the king and queen.

 

She would need to speak to Kai, but she was also debating on transforming and carrying him to Cumulus. If she ate enough, the energy would be used by her griffin form and it seemed that that form had far more endurance than her human form did.

 

With everything packed, she dashed out of her tent while pulling her boots on and grabbed two horses. They followed her unwillingly but she encouraged them with the mention of carrots and apples.

 

“Kai, read this.” She said handing him the book and devouring her own stores of snacks that she had brought. She had made some for the others and they were in the food stores, but right now she had to finish what she had if he would go along with her idea. “If I go in my griffin form, then the energy that I am shoving into my body would be able to get us there and I would be safe to enter the city because of what you are reading. See?” she stated and lifted her hair up higher to show the tattoo. It wasn’t a normal shade of black but instead a black that when she shifted, turned blue. The black itself had a light gray stripe running through the center. “if they can clearly see that, then the guards have to let me in whether or not it is late at night. However, we can also go, follow the raft while I fly us to follow the raft. The energy I have as a griffin is far more than I have as a human. OR! We go with the horses, get Loren, I carry both him and you back to camp and the horses run home.” She wasn’t exactly excited, she just wanted to let her ideas out so that she could understand fully what was going on.

 

When she realized how much she had been talking though, she blushed a deep red and looked at the ground while softly stroking the cheek of one of the horses. “Sorry…talking to much again.

 

Aamina looked at Renzo as she watched how his face twisted and turned, and then how his words were true from what she could tell. “You are a criminal, and yet your actions are true. Strange.” She stated and then huffed as she realized that Celeste would forever be a mystery to her. “I can’t even read what she is doing through the earth.” She shook her head as she grew frustrated with the chill of the snow. “You are right though. She is something interesting to study for I have never met any like her…she had better stay away from the prince. The queen would not approve.” During the last half of her statement, her voice changed from one of interest to one of dread, “ I would not wish the Queen’s wrath on any.” She stated and turned around.

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"You don't look like the kind of person who would want to get themselves dirty," said Eirikr with disdain. "As for why I am alone. It is because I work best alone. If you no respect for the dead then don't bother trying to help. Actually don't help at all." He was growing irritated with this guy. Tractus seemed like the kind of person Eirikr despised. Well dressed and afraid of getting his clothes dirty.

 

Eirikr finished burying the body he was working on and placed a slab over the head. He pulled out his carving tool and carved in the persons name. Tired Eirikr sat back on his heels to examine his work. True it was plain, but the life of a soldier was always simple. He put a hand to his pocket, feeling the packet of letters contained there 'in. He would mail them to Whisper once he reached Cumulus, along with a letter from himself to the grieving families.

 

Nibbling a bit of wayfarer bread Eirikr began to work on a final piece of stone. A simple monument in the shape of a helmet perched on a sword. He would leave when It was finished.

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After another couple of drinks and a round of cards with a couple of gentleman from another table, Betzalel was counting his winnings. "Not that I disapprove Lord Betzalel... but was it really okay to cheat with your psychic powers?" Spoke Creos as he counting the small amount of profit he himself had received. Betzalel took a moment from counting to addressed him. "I prefer to call it 'assurance', besides, we'll going to need this money for supplies and other expensive." Creos merely sighed as he got up and placed the small amount of coin into his pouch. "I'm going to see if the boy is up, if he is... we could talk with him before sunrise." He said before placing on his cloak. Betzalel merely nodded as the agent left the building and headed for the darkened alley ways... where he disappeared.

 

He re-emerged in a nearby alleyway near the gate, where the hospital was located. It was snowing outside, so not that many people were outside. He entered into the building and began to look for the room where the boy was placed. When he found it, he quietly opened and shut the door behind him as he looked at Loren. The boy was looking out the window... with the same look Creos had seen before. A broken, saddened look.

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Renzo

 

The Queen...The Queen... Renzo had never really liked authority. He had met the King and Queen of Electra when he was younger, but even in the days of his aristocratic lifestyle he had never found them to be pleasant people. The Queen had always seemed stuffy and annoying to him while the King looked pathetic and worthless as he wallowed in the immense wealth of Electra. He wrinkled his nose in disgust at the memories; he was certainly happy now that he did not have to deal with them at those stupid royal events they held.

 

"Queen's fury or not, the public would never stand for anyone like Celeste around Jahansha," Renzo stated flatly. "Those haughty aristocrats can have a major influence when they find something scandalous enough to lift their high-heeled feet off their overstuffed cushions." He pulled the hood of his cloak over his head to ward off some of the cold of the snow. A few sparks of electricity crackled around his fingers impatiently. The thought of the old days annoyed him to no end. There was a reason he had left them with a roasted corpse.

 

"Where do you think Celeste has gone? I'm sure Jahanshah wouldn't like it if she got lost here, and I'm not about to let the blame get pinned on me."

 

Luna

 

Luna couldn't help but feel like a replacement, like she was somehow attached a little too closely to Zepheena's memory now.. She knew it was terrible to think that way, especially since she knew that that was not what Isis was thinking. The way he kept comparing her to Zepheena, though, was off-putting. She had been wary of the girl from the very start, and even though Luna had never been prone to superstition, she couldn't help but feel that his comparisons were a bad omen for her. The sense of dark secrets still lingered in the memory of Zepheena even though Luna was trying to forget about it all. She took the pumpkin seeds without a word, quietly pondering for a few moments. Then she closed her eyes and began to listen to everybody around her again. She felt calm enough that she could be confident that they would not influence her as badly as before. The first thing she noticed was that a few of the others were preparing to rescue Loren. She instantly looked in their direction, but it was useless. She couldn't see through the trees, and they were much too far off by now. She popped the pumpkin seeds into her mouth as she turned back around to face Isis.

 

"They're going to save Loren," she said softly. "I don't know if this is even something that you can do, but do you know how to retrieve memories from plants? I mean, that's assuming that plants even remember anything...but maybe they saw something or noticed Loren before he was taken away. The last time I saw him he was plummeting out of the sky. I was too tired to save him, let alone figure out if he was okay." She looked down at the flowers still clutched in her hand, then picked another one of the violet flowers that surrounded her.

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"They're going to save Loren. I don't know if this is even something that you can do, but do you know how to retrieve memories from plants? I mean, that's assuming that plants even remember anything...but maybe they saw something or noticed Loren before he was taken away. The last time I saw him he was plummeting out of the sky. I was too tired to save him, let alone figure out if he was okay."

Isis glanced over to where Luna's attention was.

 

"Yes, I can ask them about him. What exactly do you want to know? They're pretty scattered, so I have to ask a specific question."

 

He closed his eyes and opened his mind to the voices of the greenery around him. Some of the more solicitous called to him, greeting him.

 

Hello!

 

He chuckled quietly. Hello.

 

How are you?

 

I'm... fine, I suppose.

 

Oh, that's good.

 

Hey, I need to ask you something.

 

They all responded positively. What do you want to know?

 

He mentally shushed them. I'll know in a moment. He opened his eyes again and smiled. "They're eager to answer. What was your question?"

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