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The southern foothills of the Ramalokes in among thick trees, following deer paths.
Thick clouds roam the sky, only periodically revealing swaths of stars. Thunder rumbles distantly, and the clouds seem heavy with unshed rain.
7 days behind! Around midnight.
Fyndel, Caele, Talos (Blazeh), Remeira (Darkeh)
This post has been edited by Verridith: Apr 13 2018, 04:43 PM
It was the middle of the night; all lay still beneath the lonely Ramaloke peaks. The trees were quiet, the earth windless, though dark clouds moved slowly across a sky that spoke of incoming storms. Every now and again, some small patch of stars could be seen, but briefly; none lasted long before the clouds swallowed them once more.
Two shapes moved in the heavily forested foothills; both garbed in black, almost invisible beneath the shadow of the trees, the starless and moonless night. Nothing disturbed them, and they seemed at ease; after all, they had little to fear, traveling as they were.
If the Faction found them, they could claim membership; both were dark elves. If a Vystrian happened to come across them, they would explain their task. Simple as that.
High, high above, hidden far over the clouds and out of sight, flew a young golden dragon. He flew slowly, and looped back often, wings carrying him silently through the stormladen skies. From below, every now and again, would come the inquiring voice of one of the elves: |You still okay up there, Talos?|
He sighed and rolled his eyes. |Yes, Caele, I'm fine. Just tell me when you reach the city, alright?|
Below, one of the drow smiled. Both were rather tall, of similar height; both looked to be mid-twenties the way a human ages, though one looked a slight bit older. The younger was a swordsman, white blade at his side, with black hair and silver eyes. The other was built similarly, but had streaks in his wild black hair, scruffier than his brother's - and his eyes were golden and fiery, unlike the gentle greys of his younger sibling. Both wore long, black cloaks, and where one wore a small silver leaf pendant that shimmered how and again, the other wore a scarf dark red as old blood.
"You still don't wanna go, huh?" the older dark elf asked; he looked at his brother with a frown. "It's not all that bad. The Tarians had really chilled out, even before half of 'em were slaughtered. You should really thank Rem, you know - there were a couple foul ones there still, even though the others had turned a new leaf."
"It's Rem, Fyndel," the younger said somewhat harshly. "You know what she did. I'm not going near her. We're going just to pick up supplies from the old house, and that's it."
"Oh, c'mon Cae," the scruffy ghost said, turning to walk backwards as he grinned at his brother. "If I've told you once I've told you a thousand times, don't you remember? She's not all that bad - she saved you! Twice, bro! Plus however many times before that fiasco with the veldryn and the gods." He got a withering glare that only made his grin widen. "And then when you ran off in Lizz, she tried to help find you. If not for her-"
"If not for her," Caele interjected, "Saudi would still be alive. Talos would have a father, and I probably wouldn't have had to go through most of what I did."
The ghost visibly sank, and returned to walking at his brother's side. "You know what she is now, though," he said, voice quieter. "She's gonna be told we're back in town. Sure you can go unseen after that? She'll wanna see you."
"And you'll want to go see Iv'ry. Yes, Fyn, I can avoid her on my own. Will you stop bothering me about it?"
Fyndel paused briefly, falling a few steps behind; his brother seemed to have fallen into an awfully foul mood at even the mention of her name. He sighed, then jogged a few paces to catch up. "Alright, you got me there," he said quietly. "You just holler though if you need help, ok? Nobody but her is gonna recognize you in there. But she knows you from description... someone tells her, she's gonna hunt you down like a rat."
"And I'll put a sword between her eyes if she does."
Feel free to take this any way you wanna, or I can continue til they reach D'issan if you wanna start there, Dark - this was fun to write, I could keep going LOL
The night was quiet but awake. As Remeira swept past the fountain that marked the entrance to D'issan, she could feel eyes on her back; not human eyes, nor elvish ones, but those of a hundred tiny creatures, their hearts beating staccato rhythms on their rapid sprint to death. She fancied she could almost hear them drumming beneath the gurgle of the water, or see their miniscule reverberations against the silky white petals of the moonflowers that twisted round the fountain's base.
As she neared the guards who stood watch, the drowess lifted a finger to her lips, barely pausing to acknowledge them. A line seemed to break as she stepped over the threshold; pine-scented air flowed into her face and got caught in her hair, while above clouds parted in their slow, inexorable dance and flooded the road with moonlight. Remeira pulled up her hood and set off toward the woods, diverging from the path with the confidence of a child who has explored every nook and cranny, her shape diminishing rapidly until she was little more than a shadow among shadows. The guards shared a look. Both of them had seen the flash of gold beneath her cloak, and both, as it happened, knew of the celebrations that had swallowed D'issan for these past three days. It was a time of victory in the City of the Drow.
So why was a council member sneaking out?
- - -
Ah, sweet, fresh mountain air. Remeira sat on a chalky white boulder, her legs folded beneath her, snacking on a handful of pine nuts she was roasting in her hand. The glow of red reiatsu sparkled over her raiment, catching in a cloth-of-gold tunic. Her cloak had been a necessity; without it, a blind man could have followed her out of D'issan. She scowled briefly at the the thought. Damn the Council. Proud and noble, those bastards had seen fit to wine and dine the Vystrians until they could barely think, giving them everything they asked for and then some. It was as if the Council thought a few hangovers and golden trinkets would make everyone forget how many drow had risen with the sorceress Nina. Laughable... and plausible.
And blast Jhuda, too! The maid had been forced on her under the pretext of teaching Remeira diplomatic manners. Of course, the ruse was threadbare at best. Remeira was fully aware she was being spied on. She would have been content to leave it at that if Jhuda hadn't taken it upon herself to try and corral the drowess into their code of behavior. Tonight was a fine example; Remeira had returned from her bath only to find her customary leathers gone and De'Bryska hidden from her sight. Ordinarily, the drowess would not have hesitated to stride naked from her chambers and skewer Jhuda with serving utensils until her belongings were returned, but the Council had made it clear she wouldn't get away with murdering any other citizens of D'issan. And so she was.... reduced.
Perhaps it wasn't that bad. The drowess stuck out her foot, examining the black silk tights that clung to her skin and showed off the shapely curve of her calf. The golden tunic was long, too, almost like a skirt, save where it was brought in by a corset embroidered with the likeness of a golden dragon. Ironic. She ate another nut, then shook the remainder to the ground and rose nimbly to stand on the boulder-top.
She was eyeing the trees with the look of someone who feels personally addressed by the implicit challenge in climbing them when she heard voices. Dropping immediately to a crouch, Remeira brushed back her hair from her ears, listening. "... gonna hunt you down like a rat."
"And I'll put a sword between her eyes if she does."
"Cae!" Remeira blinked, her concentration broken. Caele? she thought, incredulous. What is he doing here?
And who, precisely, is he threatening to kill?
The drowess scooped her cloak from the ground and pulled it around her in an instant, flipping the hood up to hide her damning white hair from the moonlight. Skipping off the boulder, she slid into the shadows of the woods, melting into them like liquid. It didn't take long to locate Caele, nor, she realized, Fyndel. The brothers, together.
She tailed them easily from the undergrowth, watching them like an amateur hunter too fascinated to loose the arrow. They moved with confidence. Men unafraid of their surroundings. They must have received word of the success and were now on the road to its source. But why them, and why here? She frowned, her hand passing uselessly over the empty hip where De'Bryska was supposed to hang. Verridith would send message by feylizard. These two were here for something else.
She stopped, struck by the sudden possibility that Caele wasn't joking. Had he come to kill her at last? The drowess smiled. She could almost believe it. If it weren't for Fyndel, she might have seriously considered it.
A playful idea rose to mind and Remeira grinned, fading soundlessly back into the forest. Circling wide around the pair, she collected an armful of rocks, taking a moment to carefully burn a few letters into each one with a nail and a healthy dose of reiatsu. The scent of hot granite lingered over them as she placed each strategically, starting with the first around the next bend of the brothers' path and the others leading back into the wood.
They would be hard to ignore; they glowed red with the dark elves' names.
Remeira set the last rock on the edge of the clearing, going back to perch on her white boulder. This time she straddled it like a throne, legs crossed one over the other, and heated another handful of pine nuts.
-blazeh was here and did stuff- ;D
Nonplussed, the ghost continued on. It was hard to keep him down - irritatingly so. Caele sighed as Fyndel prattled on, and only tuned back in when his elder brother began outlining the basics of their plan.
"Okay so - like - we're gonna go in the back way, obviously, with the creek. If we're careful enough, we can make it past the guards on the back wall because they're lazy and don't pay attention anyways. I'll... well, I do wanna visit Iv'ry," he admitted. He wasn't paying much attention and began walking backwards as Caele froze mid-step, still talking. "So maybe I'll visit her while you get the supplies ready?"
"Or maybe you can come with me? I mean, she really did like you-"
"She's cool with either, really, don't stress bro. So after we get the stuff-"
Caele pulled a small, smooth stone from a pocket and threw it at his brother. "Fyndel, dammit, stop and look!"
"What? Oh, hey, that's glowi- ow, why'd you throw a rock at me?" He rubbed his head where the pebble struck, and squinted down the path. Caele was tense, on edge, one hand on his sword. "Sheesh... well. Uh. Cae? Can you read from there?"
Fyndel abruptly sobered. He walked up slowly to the glowing rock, and squinted at its inscription. It said their names - engraved in a sweeping, flowing text. He pulled out his sword and nudged it, then picked it up when it didn't explode. "Doesn't seem to be dangerous, but - someone knows we're coming, so..."
He noticed another leading off the path; then another some ways distant. "Well, can't be a bad thing if it isn't rigged, right?" he said cheerily. Caele scowled with a sigh. "Let's follow them!"
"If this is a trap," Caele said, "I'm pushing you in first."
Voices. She could hear them, floating ahead of the soft cracks and wheezes of the earth. Remeira straightened up a little and felt a smile slowly pull across her face. She could just imagine Caele's expression when he saw her, resplendent in gold and fine jewels, waiting for him... truthfully, he had never managed to catch her offguard. She was always a step ahead of him, shaking his faith, his confidence, his superiority. His shock and recoil had become almost reassuring to her in its familiarity.
He could attack. And it itched at her, not having De'Bryska at her side, not feeling... protected. The drowess, unable to sit, jumped to her feet as she heard them nearing the edge of the clearing. Something was singing inside of her. Not the way her blood sang when it was hot, as she had felt on the battlefield with Rhezal in her grasp; not even the vicious joy of needling that pathetic angel summoned the same notes. Caele brought forth a harmony of shame, desire, guilt, and arrogance that she could taste on her tongue like the remnants of a vintage wine. It was a shame Fyndel was there, too, else she might have indulged the dark intoxication to... who knew what end.
There. They were nearly here.
Impatient, Remeira reached for the last rock, hefting it in her hand so that the glow of the heated script peeked between her fingers. “Long time no see, boys. May I ask what two such... upstanding warriors are doing, sneaking into my city?”
-blazeh was here and did stuff- ;D
Caele tensed immediately, hand moving to the sword at his side. He knew that voice as soon as he heard it; and recognized the golden-clad woman upon the boulder as soon as he saw her. Wary and ready for some spell or weapon to be thrown his way, he watched her like a cornered panther.
His silver eyes betrayed the flood of emotion; cracked steel, icy and cold. He felt anger, and frustration - fear, and anticipation. This woman had betrayed him many times. But she had also saved him - and one was more recent than the last, even if he remembered nothing of it. Fyndel wouldn't lie to him, would he?
The ghost, on the other hand, grinned, holding an armful of glowing rocks. "Yo!" he called, showing no fear - Caele could have hit him. "Thought it might be you! We were actually tryin' to sneak into D'issan incognito but uh. You found us. Congrats!"
"What do you want, Remeira?" Caele asked, ignoring his brother adamantly. His voice was cold, and flat, though his expression and stance were still wary. "Why did you lead us here?"
Remeira rolled the rock around her long fingers, tossing it up and catching it again as she walked around the pair to Fyndel's side. Turning her head to meet Caele's accusatory gaze, she affected a look of disappointment, her full lips curving into a pout. "Fyn, love, your brother is certainly a rude creature. Questioning me as if I were some weak, vagabond warrior instead of a member of the Council. As if I weren't, at the very least, a rook in the game of chess that took D'issan." She added the rock carelessly to Fyndel's armful, her hand lingering over his arm. "As if he weren't pleased to see me, deep down."
Her tone changed. In a flash, the warm fire of the drowess' reddened eyes wintered. "How about you tell me why you are here, princeling? Sneaking in my woods without permission? I could have you arrested. You'll find my chains much more to your taste than... others."
-blazeh was here and did stuff- ;D
Why he didn't turn around and walk away right then and there eluded him. Caele watched her coldly, and scales prickled along his back as instincts urged a sudden shift. But he pushed the urge away, and narrowed his eyes. "That's none of your business," he said. "We still own property in D'issan. We can come and go as we please."
"Oh, c'mon Cae," Fyndel said, rolling his eyes. The ghost set down his pile of glowingly-marked rocks and jabbed his brother in the side. "We're gonna go on a badass quest and need supplies. This dude here's plagued with nightmares, and I know how to stop 'em." He grinned while Caele gave him a withering stare. "In fact, you should totally come with us! There's a place I know of that can draw Nuar out!"
Caele bit his tongue on the sharp retort he had forming, and looked away. "We don't need the company of a murderer with us. I don't want to wake up with a dagger in my back."
Remeira glared at him, fists clenched by her sides. As suddenly and completely as it has come, her complex joy at seeing Caele was gone, replaced with a fury so hot that it threatened to scorch her veins. Always, always it was like this. He held Saudi's death over her head and would scratch it on her tombstone at her burial. Never him mind that Kairn had dragged them both through places life and death did not touch. Never him mind that she had earned Verridith's pardon, had fought for the Queen, risking life and limb to put out this sodden rebellion as soon as it had begun. No, there was no redemption. Only black and white justice. For her, of course, and no one else.
"If you'd cast me out as a murderer, than I hope you'll walk alone, you godsforsaken idiot. This is a world that praises killing. Kill the Snakekind, kill the Faction, kill, kill, kill!" She shook her head in dismay. "Do you think the dead are any less dead because you killed them instead of me? How many times have I kept you alive, and for what? You spite me worse than the rebels that would cut your precious queen to bits! Stop living in the fucking past!"
She whirled on Fyndel and calmed herself. It was lucky she did not have De'Bryska. She wasn't at all sure she would not have cut off that righteous face. "Let's go. If Caele has a problem with it, he can shove the dagger in my back while we walk. What's this talk of luring Nuar?"
-blazeh was here and did stuff- ;D
Caele gritted his teeth, sharply looking away; but he did feel a pang of guilt at her words. He didn't answer as Fyndel gave him a concerned, uncertain look - but there was a flash of anger he felt in his mind, and he looked up just in time to see Talos careen through the trees and land hard not a few feet away, golden scales and bared fangs flashing.
Talos lifted his wings in challenge, digging his claws into the earth. Fyndel scrambled away as the Desert Gold roared at Remeira, furious, bi-colored eyes reflecting much more than hatred. He snapped his jaws shut at her, then reared his triangular head, taking in a breath -
Lightfire flickered around his face as he clamped his jaws shut on it, and gave Caele a withering glare. "Stop," Caele said quietly. "She's not worth it. Leave her be."
Silently, he Sent, |She hasn't done anything wrong this time... yet.|
Talos answered out loud, flaring his wings. "What do you mean stop?" he snarled. "Isn't she-"
"Yes," the dark elf cut in, "but don't attack her." His silver eyes flicked to her, then away. The guilt he felt held a thread in his voice. "She betrays us... then you can. Not til then."
Talos turned towards Remeira again and bared his fangs, stepping forward until his muzzle was inches away from her face. "You better not," the dragon hissed. Moonlight briefly broke through the clouds, shimmering across him for just a moment - how emaciated the drake still was became readily apparent, before he folded his wings to either side. "I'll shred you alive. I know what you did; I've shared those memories. Leopards don't change their spots."
He drew away, glaring at her, until Caele walked over to the Gold's side and placed a calming hand on his shoulder. Talos looked at him, then closed his eyes, head bowed. "Let's just get on with it," the dark elf sighed, as Fyndel sheepishly reappeared from where he'd ghosted off to. "We can't linger here. Especially if someone heard that roar."
Remeira faced the enraged dragon coolly, her body failing to betray a single sign of anxiousness. As the dragon's hot breath engulfed her head like a cloud of smog, she reached out and caressed Talos' cheek, knowing he would recoil from her touch.
"You're just like your father," she murmured, low enough that only he would hear.
Then she turned away and made a gesture for Fyndel to continue, a smile playing about her lips that didn't match the cacophony of darkness in her eyes.
Silence fell, thick and heavy as a wet wool blanket, while they walked. The drowess was straightbacked, conscious of the two sullen creatures behind her. In truth, Talos' presence infuriated her, although she should have expected his presence. It felt like yet another barrier between her and the blasted elf. Oh, what the hell did she want from him, anyway? Betraying a moment of weakness, Remeira rubbed her eyes as if she would fend off a headache. Why did seeing Caele affect her so much? It wasn't as if she loved the wretch. Love.... she hadn't even considered the emotion. It was all twisted up inside of her, like a dying tree that had been pulled in so many ways it barely resembled its old shape anymore. But was that such a bad thing? Love made you do some pretty stupid things. Not insane. She could appreciate the insane. It was the stupid she had no time for.
Glancing over her shoulder at Caele, she looked at him for a long moment. No, she didn't love him. It was a debt she owed him, a debt they both knew she would never quite manage to repay.
Suddenly she wanted them both out of her sight. A sneer curled up the corners of her mouth as she stopped abruptly and placed her hands on her hips like an irate queen about to issue a declaration. But then she realized Fyndel wasn't moving, either.
Curiosity overcame bitterness. "What is it?" she asked.
-blazeh was here and did stuff- ;D
Talos glared after her, but as they walked, his words were entirely private. The mental conversation between dragon and rider was frustrated, filled with emotion - but neither betrayed it in their expressions, nor aloud.
It was only when Fyndel stopped that the pair did, and Caele was silent as his brother spoke. "We, er... were heading towards D'issan, Rem," the ghost said uncertainly. "This is like. The opposite direction, kinda. You know?"
Caele looked up, then away again. He couldn't seem to look at Remeira. Talos nudged him, then walked past, bony tail waving back and forth. "She doesn't want us to go there," he sneered as he stopped and turned around. "She only-"
"Talos," the dark elf warned; but he sounded tired. "Just... don't."
"Fine," the Gold spat. "Deal with her yourself. You won't listen to me anyways. You never listened to him either!" As the young desert dragon pushed back off into the sky, Caele gave him a pained look, teeth gritted against a reply. The Gold vanished into the clouds and away.
"Cae," Fyndel began, starting forward, but his younger brother silenced him with a wave of his hand.
"Don't bother," the rider said quietly. "Let's just go. We need to get there and back. As quickly as possible." Then, he looked off in the direction of the unseen city. "The entrance by the creek... it isn't far. The old house is near the inside of D'issan's Wall." He began to walk, uncaring of the grass and vines that pulled at his boots. "We rest when we get there."
Remeira opened her mouth to add something to Talos' exit, but the look from Caele shut it again. Surprisingly. She turned her head and barely nodded at his soft rebuke, instead following Fyndel as they adjusted course and headed back to her beloved city walls.
It didn't take very long, which almost irritated the drowess. She would have liked to see these two men worn down, stubbornly pushing themselves and therefore feeling a prickle of suffering for their invasion. Instead, the three of them nearly fell upon the wall as it jutted sharply out of the woodland. Remeira immediately judged them to the north. They must have circled it somewhat while she was leading them astray.
The creek that Fyndel had mentioned earlier burbled nearby, its glistening skin lost somewhere among the trees that had been permitted to grow close. The drowess made a mental note to order clearing of the land so close to the gates, wondering if the Council had even noticed the encroaching vegetation. Surely they left now and then? Her thoughts were interrupted as they came to the entrance Fyndel had described, torches blazing beside the watchmen's posts.
"Well?" Remeira murmured. "Were you hoping to sneak in, or are you going to tell them you're here?"
-blazeh was here and did stuff- ;D
Fyndel looked surprised; Caele's eyes narrowed, jaw set in a firm line. "There were never watchmen here before," the ghost replied, obviously confuddled. "Well, damn. Someone found out about our old back entrance."
"It's not like we're outsiders," the younger drow murmured. "And we have an Authoritarian with us." The word tasted bitter in his mouth. "You were once a general, as well. We'll get through."
The ghost grinned widely. "You know, I forgot about that promotion. That was just before I left. I still remember how to make men tremble with my badass general voice. Ha!"
Caele watched as Fyndel strode forward, bleeding confidence as he approached. In silence, the younger brother watched his elder all but roar at the hapless watchmen, and a brief, gentle smile crossed his face before he followed. They had disappeared into the old tunnel that the creek descended into as the two brothers reunited, and Fyndel could do nothing but grin.
"Ayyy Rem, way's all clear now!" he called, waving and hopping up and down. The ghost could be undeniably excitable sometimes. "Through here, let's go!"
Remeira couldn't help herself; a low chuckle escaped her as she watched the show. She looked over at Caele and saw him similarly amused, and a pang hit her. "You really love him, don't you?" she asked, wistful.
But she didn't wait around to force him into replying. "Come on." Rising to her full height, the drowess left the cover of the trees and strode confidently through the gate, nodding to the somewhat bemused guards. They both saw her tunic of gold and exchanged looks, but she raised a finger to her lips and tossed them a coin. An unspoken bribe, as it were.
"You never did mention what we were trying to accomplish," Remeira murmured to Fyndel, glancing back briefly to see if Caele was following. "What's the point of all this?"
-blazeh was here and did stuff- ;D
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