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» and it all falls down, Blazeh, YOU

SETTING: Felnova > Vystriana > Albronel.

WEATHER: Summertime, blisteringly hot. Also smoky, because we're in the middle of a battle! ;D

TIME: Midday!

Verridith and Arnus (Verridith)

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user posted image
"you do know I have the worst memory in the high desert right"
"that's a lie, you just fill your memory with all things BTACD related"
Sunlight glanced off of gilt scales that gleamed like freshly-minted coins; wind caressed gleaming plated horns, tugging at long feathers that decorated a noble, reptilian head. A beautiful dragoness, scales a deep metallic gold with silver horns, black plates and scarlet feathers, wheeled through the air on a hot summer day.

Below her raged a battle bloody and fierce. Dragon against serpent, screams of death and roars of triumph echoing across to the distant mountains, explosions of magic that rocked the earth echoing through the smoky air. With a snarl of her own and a yell from the rider ensconced on her back, she slapped her wings to her side and dove, claws extended for the kill.

The attack had been unexpected; a force of snakekind and the warlike cousins of the lyzard, shriekans, struck Albronel at its heart. The great White City was under siege, the landing field aflame, the northern wall of white marble fallen away to rubble. Well-organized, brutally strong and merciless, shriekans led the charge against those creatures of flightless birth, hammering through Albronel's defenses like claws through wet paper. The serpent-kin followed, dulne slicing at the ankles of those warriors skilled enough to survive, jarza combatting the dragons that flew to aid them - the city wept tears of blood, soil sodden in scarlet. The barrier had been neatly destroyed. Their last line of defense lay in their numbers.

And they had nothing against these invaders.

Abandoning the northern wall, the Vystrian army drew back towards the keep and fought bitterly to retain control over the rest of their city. The shriekans' advance slowed to a halt; both sides were taking heavy losses, dragons, gryphons, and all creatures of the sky fighting on the ground as well as among the clouds. Blood rained from aerial kills, and one large jarza had smashed into the statue of Kazule and broken it to pieces.

Verridith, the queen, dove sharply into this horrible fray, white arrows utilized by her elven dragonrider striking at a jarza's weakest points. Colliding with the creature, the Gold sank her talons into its side and locked her jaws around its long, black neck, rage fueling her strength and adrenaline. But it was strong, as well; grappling with the much-larger snakekind was difficult, and she couldn't fly locked so close to its malformed wings. Oddly, the fire she summoned wouldn't come - confusion and fear struck in half an instant as the jarza laughed, the vibrations of its throat felt between her teeth. Snarling, she tried to pull away - but it wrapped its tail around hers and sank its claws into her shoulders, hissing and spitting as they plummeted towards the ground...

Screams echoed amid the chaos; screams she recognized, but that weren't her own. In a sudden flash of panic, she realized it was forcing her to flip over, that Arnus - her rider - was in danger. Should she strike the ground, he would be crushed; terror had rendered him unable to move, as he clung to her back, eyes screwed shut. Flailing with her wings, she beat the jarza with every bit of strength she had, then summoned all of her fury into a mixture of fire and electricity that finally broke its power-blocking spell. Magic exploded between them in a blast that tore the scales from the serpent's narrow face, blisteringly hot even to the one who'd summoned it.

The creature let go immediately, but Verridith herself was dazed from the blow; with a half-attempt at righting herself in the air, she spread her wings and slowed her descent, but it... wasn't enough. By the time the realization dawned how close they really were to the ground, however, it was too late to pull up - too late to save a hard fall against the scorched, dry earth, grass burned away by the serpents' fires.

She blocked her mind from Arnus' a fraction of a second before impact. Spreading her talons, she twisted into a position to land, seeking only to break the fall; but her legs buckled as they struck, wings ramming into the stone with the force of a mountain. Her momentum smashed her body into the stone, scales and claws and horns scraping with great noise until she finally rolled to a trembling, breathless stop.

Pain erased everything. She couldn't see, couldn't hear; she didn't know what Arnus' fate had been. Unable to move, the dragoness fought to remain conscious. Aware only of the agony that ripped through her legs and wings, Verridith didn't see Arnus scramble, stunned, away from the saddle; didn't know he had been spared more than a few small scratches. Perhaps a fractured wrist, one that he held close to his chest.

Her injuries were much more extensive. Tremors ran the length of her spine; compound fractures had broken through the scales of two out of three broken legs, bloody white visible above a backdrop of crimson-smeared gold. Her wings lay crumpled about her like a torn and battered tapestry, delicate fingers shattered along the leading edge. One horn was cracked down its length; a dark chasm amid sparkling silver.

"V-Verridith!" Her rider's voice was faint, shaken. It pierced the halo of torment that blanketed her mind, and she made a noise halfway between a whimper and a strangled growl. The inability to speak, to assure him that it would be alright, brought anger to the agony; and with it came a small shred of reason.

Help she would have promised the boy, now at her side, now sobbing, tears filling his grey-blue eyes, would take some time to come. The battle with the jarza had taken them far out over the remnants of the Landing Field, some ways from the battle between shriekans and the humanoid races that were her allies. The enemy was closer. Both sides would want her - ether to save her, or to kill her. She had to protect the boy...

The jarza was dead. He had crashed into the ground with much more force closer to his allies and the line they held; the few precious moments of peace were few because of the shock at what happened... but then, they noticed the wounded queen and her helpless rider. Then, they gave a cry and surged forward, a wave of snarling, reptilian beasts intent on reaching them before the Vystrian forces.

"S-Somebody h-help! Please!" His words rang in her ears as hearing began to return. "S-S-Someone! A-Anyone!" Would help come? Were her forces trying to get to her now? Would Arnus be safe...?

Vision flickered, darkened. The Gold felt herself slipping towards unconsciousness, heedless of the boy's slender fingers on her torn scales. Sinking into that darkness felt so good...

"A-Anyone, sh-she c-c-can't die!"

user posted imageuser posted imageuser posted image
user posted image
"you do know I have the worst memory in the high desert right"
"that's a lie, you just fill your memory with all things BTACD related"
The winged knight, having helped at D'issan and been in possession of the desire to go where there was need of those who were to protect the innocent, now watched helplessly as the city burned around her.

Having been put into a squad, they had long since been butchered. And that was only the beginning. Many, many times she had been forced to play helpless witness to a life being taken. Via the savage vicious fangs of snakekind or the flesh-rending shrieks of the aptly named shriekans. While she would let an arrow fly into the throats of the shriekans or the smaller classes of snakekind, there was little satisfaction when it did oh so little to stop the scarlet tide of bloodshed.

It was only by the grace of the gods that she had a moment to breathe. And in that moment, her mind was vulnerabilized to the full weight of her helplessness.

Oh, and that wound in the side of her torso. The gash that had torn through her armor and a chunk out of her side prooobably wasn't helping things. However, even that paled in comparison to the crushing weight of despair that threatened to flatten her.

Then, the cry of a young elf reached her ears.

"S-Somebody h-help! Please!"

Almost instinctively, her wings snapped down, launching her into the air. Soaring through the sky, she barreled towards the source of the cry for help.

Touching down rather roughly, she winced, clutching her side. She chastised herself, reminding herself just how lucky she was to actually be in fighting condition. With a hint of struggle, she turned the corner with bow-drawn, preparing to fire on whatever might be there.

A dragon. The Vystrian golden queen. And her rider - probably the one calling for help.

"Your majesty! Sir Arnus!"

She almost welcomed the troops. She could fight the troops. Give it her best shot. Maybe taken down a handful of those savage brutes with her. And then embrace the glory of death in the service of Daama.

But there was no god or goddess that would be able to give her the strength to tell her the truth: There was nothing she would be able to do to save the queen. Not with wounds like that.

"Lady Daama, strip the darkness away with a flashing storm of wrathful lightning," she uttered under her breath as she drew and aimed her arrow carefully. Mentally biting down on the pain throbbing and burning in her side, she let loose the arrow slightly high.

The arrow split into a torrent of crackling projectiles, each hitting with a small thunderclap as the winged knight attempted to blow apart their ranks.

It was probable that a diversion would not work here. If she tried to lead these murderous fiends away, all she would do was cost the queen and her rider precious seconds. They knew they had the queen within their scaly grasp. All she could was buy time and pray.

The diversion worked; in part. The front line were scattered as they rushed headlong into the rain of power, and those that followed were swallowed by confusion. Several shriekan pressed on, their heavy talons ripping through the charred earth as they charged on unperturbed, leaving many of the snakekind behind...

Verridith's mental blocks were failing, and Arnus was suddenly overwhelmed by feeling her pain. The young elf - brown-haired and green-eyed - fell backwards with a yelp, and rolled to avoid using his injured wrist; the Gold was barely conscious, and blood pooled from places where bone spiked through scale and flesh. He was sobbing, and shouting, but he didn't know what or at who. He didn't see Kari, didn't see the advancing enemies, or the three dragons that shredded across the sky to try and reach their queen in time.

And then, the first shriekan was upon them. The lizardlike creature leapt over Verridith and spotted the angel before he saw Arnus, swinging a large ax down at one of her wings...

user posted imageuser posted imageuser posted image
user posted image
"you do know I have the worst memory in the high desert right"
"that's a lie, you just fill your memory with all things BTACD related"
There was a flash of gold above the dragoness, directly in the path of the weapon... and suddenly the weapon was flying sideways, away, and the shriekan was stumbling backward as a large, auburn leopard snarled around teeth clamped around it's throat. Her claws sank deep into scaled skin, and lightning crackled from her paws.

In no more than a few moments, the reptilian man was dead, and the leopard turned to the prince, mouth dripping with blood. "Get up," she snarled. "Help is coming."

She didn't wait for a response; instead, she turned and darted back into the fight, facing the approaching creatures with a snarl, quickly disappearing into the depths of the fight.

((Ooc; Hara in for one, Hara out))

My name is pronounced zik-HAR-ah, but feel free to call me Hara.
My characters and threads can be found in my tracker.
-blazeh was here x2-
The winged knight's attention was drawn for a brief moment as she noted she had been narrowly saved by...what was essentially a blur. She could catch very little glimpse of it.

Her attention was then drawn to the suffering elf. If only she could soothe the pain of the poor elven rider...or the once majestic gold-scaled queen for that matter. But first things first.

The appearance of their savior had emboldened her - maybe, just maybe, they could hold out just long enough for another miracle.

Putting away her bow, she spinned in a great flourish, brandishing her naginata - the blade set ablaze with a radiant flame.

"I will give no quarter to those that embrace such barbarism. Your savagery will find no foothold past me!"

Suddenly, she whirled her naginata above head, spinning around and swiping at the approaching shriekans with a wide arc of dancing holy flame. Using the follow-through, she'd swipe again, and again - with each swipe, the blade of flame seeming to grow.

Arnus had crawled up next to his dragoness once again, struggling to keep her pain at bay and yet hold her mind in the realm of consciousness; but the Gold was severely flagging. The three dragons from before crashed into the oncoming reptilian creatures, fighting fiercely to protect the queen, though no others had come yet.

Verridith wouldn't last long. Not like this. Finally, she fell unconscious - and the pain suddenly evaporated from her rider's mind as the connection closed on instinct.

The elf looked back, frightened, his arrows scattered across the battlefield and quiver rent in two. He could finally hear the calming voice of Lingolas from his spirit sword, and saw the angel fighting nearest.

"Help, please!" he cried, turning towards her with bright, tear-filled eyes. "Please save her! You can heal, right? Please, she'll bleed to d-death!"

And every moment that passed, Verridith lost more blood, her breathing growing more and more shallow...

user posted imageuser posted imageuser posted image
user posted image
"you do know I have the worst memory in the high desert right"
"that's a lie, you just fill your memory with all things BTACD related"
The winged knight saw the three dragons land to protect their queen, and breathed a sigh of relief, allowing herself to resume the sensation of pain as the throbbing resumed in her side.

The elf's cry reminded her there was still much work to be done. She looked on, and removed her helmet. The angel's short silver locks were finally freed from their metal prison. She carried it underneath her left arm, bowed before the prince swiftly, and then approached the gold-scaled queen.

"I'll do my best." Her voice was significantly quieter - her whole demeanor changing without the helmet. Perhaps there was even a hint of honest fright in her tone - she could only manage a thin veil to cover it.

She lay her hands on the areas where the bone protruded from the flesh ever so delicately. She prayed under her breath. Light reiatsu started emanating from her hands as she started to recite something.

"Daama, reple tuorum corda fidelium, et tui amoris in eis ignem accende. Emitte Spiritum tuum et creabuntur; Et renovabis faciem terrae." She leaned her head back, her eyes still shut as she started announcing to the sky - the light shining so brightly, all who gazed upon it would start squinting.

Her voice crescendod to a near bellow, as she continued to pray. "Oremus: Daama, qui corda fidelium spiritum illustratione docuisti. Da nobis in eodem spiritu recta sapere, et de eius semper consolatione gaudere. Per Daama Domina nostrum...

Whether Daama herself was granting a miracle, or Kari was giving her damndest in the best healing "prayer" of her life, the light was now blinding. While the healing process was painful - bone itself was restructuring and remending itself, with all the pain a process would bring - Verridith's wound was indeed healing.

"Per Daama Domina nostrum...!"

Kari's legs and arms shook violently, as she channeled more of her light reiatsu resevoirs, pouring as much of it as she could manage into Verridith's wounds.


With a last push, she channeled the last of her light reiatsu well into Verri's wounds - a brilliant flash, ending up with Kari on her armored rump, followed by her laying back, dizzied and aching from the energy that had left her own body for the purposes of the spell. "A...men...?" She opened a single eye slowly, her breath deathly still...

(leaving it up to Verri to determine how much was healed)

The Gold... did not respond.

Her wounds were slowly healing, but her eyes did not open, and her breath was soft and shallow, hissing with growing pauses between her teeth. Her gums were pale, and her scales seemed cold; when Arnus reached over to touch her forearm, he jerked his hand away in confusion. When he reached out, panicking, for her mind... he found nothing there to grasp onto.

Only light that was fading. A voice that echoed in his head, speaking words so distant and distorted he couldn't understand them. "N-No," the dragonrider whispered, tears burning in his bright green eyes. He could feel her. There was no pain. Not now. She was losing too much blood. No, she had lost too much blood. And the echoes of pain were elsewhere... everywhe-

- and suddenly, everything was gone.

Arnus screamed, as the sudden absence shocked through his mind; he felt like he was being torn in two, and his vision blanked before returning too bright, world spinning. He stumbled back, clutching his head, and screamed again as his knees buckled and he fell into the bloodied mud beneath his feet. He didn't hear the other Vystrian troops arrive, or the shriekans and their snakekind allies clash somewhere nearby, the two sides coming together like fierce tidal waves smashing together in an unforgiving sea.

Then, the ground shuddered as Albronel's beautiful white walls swirled silver, then grey, then black, as the royal bond disintegrated with Verridith's death...

user posted imageuser posted imageuser posted image
user posted image
"you do know I have the worst memory in the high desert right"
"that's a lie, you just fill your memory with all things BTACD related"
The winged knight's eyes widened when she realized that she had failed.

The gold queen lay dead. And her rider had fallen into the mud, his screams echoing her pain, now mixed in with sorrow and anguish.

The angel couldn't do anything for a moment. Her body was paralyzed. Her shoulders trembled. Her eyes just watched helplessly, quivering. Her breath seeping out in shuddering gasps.

How could this happen? For a moment, she had nearly forgotten about the sounds of war and chaos raining down all around them, as the city literally crumbled, seeming to cry for the death of their queen.

The angel pushed herself up with a pained grunt. Sorrow. No time for it. No time to grieve. The dragonrider prince. Had to save him. She did not know the relationship of the queen and the prince. But from what little she had witnessed, it seemed that she would at least want the prince to survive this.

The angel attempted to lift the prince into her arms - against his will if needbe.

Quick, Lions, fly.

The silent command was met with cheers and cries of challenge as the Vystrian forces swept into the enemy, splitting around Verridith and forming a protective wedge in front of the fallen queen. Though the noise was deafening, none of the warriors wore the familiar face of bloodlust and delight; their rage was cold. They had seen the body of their queen. They craved revenge. Kumo would see to it that they carved their grief into the flesh of snakekind hides.

The shriekans and their beastly allies hesitated, wavering under the resurgence of the Lions. Scattered throughout the mass of armor and swords were a handful of bright colors that leapt out at the eye; red for the Second, yellow for the Lieutenants, dozens of stained blue Leaders. The color coding had been Kumo's idea: he had carefully trained all of his commanders to link together, coordinating their attacks, while he viewed them from afar and directed the fight. It was the only way to manage the three hundred-odd soldiers deployed in a battlefield like this one, but even their numbers were far from what the Head of the Lions would have preferred. Though their skill far outmatched the barbarians seeking to defeat them, the shriekans and the snakekind had them down three to one. And the queen.

The queen. Kumo's Second, a talented elven woman by the name of Kataras, glanced back in alarm at the sudden wave of grief that threatened their connection. Kumo muttered an oath and refocused on the battle, kneeling from his position on the battlements. The lone knight was dressed all in black, an iron helm crafted in the shape of a roaring lion's mouth tucked under one arm. His sword - unnamed and unlike any other weapon in Felnova - glowed dully where it was strapped against his back.

His Lions were winning. They pushed boldly into the enemy ranks, bending their front lines. Kumo leaned forward, rapt. The courage of the shriekans was beginning to fail. He watched as one of them hastily raised a horn to its mouth. A shrill note of retreat blared across the plains, and the Lions met it with whoops and yells.

Wait -

Kumo stood abruptly. It had not been a signal to fall back, but a summoning. An enormous jarza rose out of the enemy flanks and flared its wings, its pitted eyes staring out of a great helm thick enough to act as a shield for three or more shriekan. The Lions went silent, lowering their weapons. Fear lanced through them as the creature stretched its neck and roared.

It was met with another roar. A giant white lion, appearing seemingly out of nowhere, perched on the crumbling stone walls surrounding Albronel. Its hide swirled with silver reiatsu. By one of its paws stood a comparatively small black figure that held something tiny and gleaming on his chest. Kumo raised his hand and curled all but one finger into a fist, pointing at the jarza.

The lion roared again and bounded forward. Clearing the battlefield in a few leaps, it flung itself at the jarza, driving the two beasts to the ground in a titanic struggle for superiority. Vystrians and shriekans alike scattered to get out of the way, but Kumo was having none of it. "Get it together!" he snarled, seizing Kataras by the front of her tunic. He had ridden the lion's flank, unseen, and dropped in among the Vystrians while they had been distracted by the spectacle unfolding in front of them. "Now's our chance!"

The jarza hissed and struck at the lion's face, ripping gashes into its snout. Kumo's mindbeast did not bleed, but the man's head snapped to the side and he touched the side of the helm reflexively. Kataras needed no more encouragement. "Lions!" she cried, raising her bow. "For Verridith!"

"For Verridith!"

Rallied, the knights surged forward, tearing into their distracted enemy while Kumo crouched among them and focused on killing the jarza. Though it managed to land a few more hits, nearly dislocating the lion's jaw and, he suspected, breaking his own ribs, he was able to guide the lion into suffocating it with a final bite to the throat. The fermyntia gleamed where it rested on his chest, its brilliance dazzling anyone that looked too closely. At last, the real horns of retreat were blown, and the jewel began to fade on its chain. Kumo looked up suddenly as Kataras put a hand on his shoulder. Her face was smeared with blood and dirt. "It's over."

Kumo blinked several times. His head ached abominably. "The queen? Arnus?"

"Back there." The Lion commander glanced back to where she pointed. Several shapes lingered by the unmoving body of the queen. Arnus? Kumo rose unsteadily to his feet. "And the rest of the Lions?"

"Chasing the shriekans back into the foothills." Kataras shook her head. There were still screams and the sounds of battle in the distance. "I doubt anyone could reign them in just yet. The survivors will be back at nightfall."

"Sooner," Kumo ordered, looking at her directly. She stared at him for a moment and then walked off, reflexively stroking the string of her bow.

The knight turned to the motionless body of the dragoness. Slowly, and then with more speed once he confirmed nothing was broken, he moved to the dead queen's side. It felt like hours, though he knew maybe a quarter of one had passed. "How... how is he?"

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-blazeh was here and did stuff- ;D
It was as though everything had ended. The sun had stopped shining, the world had stopped turning, everything had stopped - in the young elf's eyes. He sat, supported by Kari, wide and staring eyes hollow and empty. No tears streaked down his face any longer, and when moved, he didn't resist. Or help. Or... do anything.

Nothing at all.

As the Lions drove off their attackers, flying forces in the sky and those who couldn't fly racing after along the ground, one such knight had stayed behind. Battle-worn and bloody, he wore dark armor accented with blues and silvers, and wore his white hair long and straight. His eyes were a starling shade of blue, the same blue as a single feather strung around his neck, and his skin was rather pale. To most, he would look simply like a weary human, pained with grief over the loss of his queen.

But to Kumo, gifted with the eyes befitting Time's Reaper, he would hold a unique glow about him - an ethereal visage that marked him as a ghost, masquerading as one of the living. And to such a Reaper, his soul could be felt... not one of a mere human, but of a dragon.

And not any dragon. Narath. The one who had once been Verridith's King...

The knight could not hide the mask of grief that overcame his expression; though at this point, he didn't much care. He reached a trembling hand to touch the dragoness' face, maw frozen in death and scales cool to the touch, Her own blood stained her teeth, and pooled beneath her, having come from her nose and mouth... she had died in great agony. And he hadn't been able to protect her.

But there were more pressing matters now. Shakily, the ghost sheathed the sword he held and turned to walk quickly over to where Kari and Arnus were, trying not to pay attention to the Reaper who was so near. The Reaper who surely knew what he was. By the time he'd knelt down and looked Arnus over, his voice was steady and expression composed.

"Hey," the ghost said gently, looking up at the angel who guarded the motionless prince. "You did your best, and you saved the prince's life. But listen to me - don't give up on him. He's locked himself away, and he needs help." Biting the bullet, he glanced over at Kumo, hoping he would not reveal the ghost right this moment. "Lord Kumo - I saw Caele fighting by the remnants of the bazaar. Arnus needs his best friend now more than ever. He might be one of the few who can bring him back to himself."

Rising, he offered a small, sad smile to Kari. "You honor Verridith's memory in her service. Albronel is Darkened, and the serpents... have become very bold. But we can still hold out hope. Especially if that boy survives... and if the princess is found."

user posted imageuser posted imageuser posted image
user posted image
"you do know I have the worst memory in the high desert right"
"that's a lie, you just fill your memory with all things BTACD related"
Kari's gaze looked up slowly, shamefully to the approaching godward and knight. She took a breath as she attempted to force out the painful reality of the situation, the words digging their claws into her throat as she tried to spit them out.

"I'm sorry," she managed to gasp out breathlessly in response to the godward of Time. "I tried. Prince Arnus, he's...a half-step away from being a ghost himself." Her eyes watered, burning with tears barely repressed.

She tensed as the knight approached her and Arnus...and took a deep breath at his words of consolation. She looked at him - eyes still misty, but now focused with steely resolve.

"I have not had the privilege of being an Albronel citizen," she admitted, shaking her head. "However, seeing the passion of those that fight for their queen, and seeing the love she inspires in those close to her..." She cradled Arnus a little closer as she continued. "Seeing that love...it is clear that this is a country worth protecting, as is told abroad. I will stand against Snakekind. I will keep fighting to prevent the bloodshed of the innocent. It is my sworn duty to Daama."

Setting Arnus upon her knee and cradling him with one arm, she grabbed her helmet and placed it back on her head, obscuring her face once more. Recomposing her demeanor, she looked to the knight and Lord Kumo, rising to her feet with Arnus held in her arms.

"Direct me to the bazaar. I will accompany you as to hasten Prince Arnus to his friend's care. I swear, I will not slow either of you down."

The Morra Sin named Krasai wandered the cities streets aimlessly. As a healer, it was his duty to heal the wounded. But a xerrin teen had his attention. He seemed to be trying to sell arrows made from deer horn, and with a start the Sin realized the Forest-Kin was missing a horn.
How odd....
"Excuse me... But what happened to your horn? Krasai asked as the dejected youth walked away from his failed attempts at barter.
"I cut it off." he replied simply.
He walked away, but he was headed straight for the palace.
What a strange youth....

Zendekarian hated all the stares he got from passerby. Sure, he was half human, but was he really so fascinating?
His goal was to get protection. He heard the best protection was here, Vystria.
He was bent on seeing the queen. The shriekan attack was merely a setback. Five had fallen under his arrows already.
The trip was short, but that weird Morra Sin hybrid followed him. Honestly, Zen didn't care. If he managed to get what he needed, Sin would be the last of his worries.

However, the scene that confronted the odd duo was nowhere near what they expected. Krasai nearly did a double take in surprise from the wounded's numbers, but Zen's eyes were on the fallen dragon. "What in Rathor's name happened here?"
Kumo stared at Narath, his eyes cold and unemotional. On the outside, the godward would have resembled little more than living stone. His sword gleamed softly where it rested, unsheathed, against the black carapace of his armor; it tugged at his conscience. The unnamed was hungry.

Slowly, deliberately, Kumo turned away.

"I will find Caele." Still deadpan, Kumo headed back to the city, his stride urgent but not hasty. He glanced back only once to confirm Kari was following. Quickly, almost imperceptibly, the battleground fell away; they passed through the ruined wall around Albronel and in toward the city, untouched by battle. Eyes began to peer out of the windows at them. Soon there were cheers. The population, unaware of the tragedy or the numb elven boy clasped to Kari's breast, raised a thunderous cry as they saw heroes striding back into the palace grounds. Kumo felt sick.

He changed direction suddenly, leading them north once more and into the buildings that had been collapsed by the initial assault. Before long they heard the sounds of voices roughened by battle. "Caele!" Kumo called, raising his voice for the first time. A group of pikeman jogged past; the godward grabbed one of them by the arm and spun him around. "Where is Caele Agarwath?"

"Just up there, sir!" The pikeman pointed smartly, his helm askew about his ear. Young, Kumo guessed. Hardly more than sixteen. The nauseous feeling thickened in his throat. "Listen. You will return to your troop and order them to surround this area. No citizens are allowed to wander in, you understand me?" The pikeman nodded dumbly, unable to look away from the ice in Kumo's eyes. He let the soldier go and continued on, skirting a shop whose roof had caved in.


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-blazeh was here and did stuff- ;D
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