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» On the Horns of the Moon, Dark, Blaze
darkeh
 Posted: May 28 2017, 12:24 PM
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PLAYERS INVOLVED: Dark, @Verridith

SETTING: Evylon {Halgia}. Lost Light Forest, on an unnamed southwestern peninsula. The forest comes to a reluctant halt some feet from the waterline, and a stony beach with a narrow strip of sand rings its edges.

WEATHER: A thick fog hangs over the water, weakening where the black trunks of the forest march up to the rocks. Though the water is flat and docile-looking, the skies are a mess of lighting and clouds knotted by high winds. Rumbles of thunder echo down to the still forest. Though it would seem fortunate that no rain falls, it feels unnatural under the belly of the mage storm, and many animals have retreated into cover, leaving only the round glimmers of their eyes visible.

TIME: Early evening, summer. The skies make it seem later, but the sun is only just beginning to set, and promises to make a spectacle out of the clustering rainclouds.

CHARACTERS INVOLVED: Deirdre & Sam (Dark), Atticus and Arctus (Blaze)

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Verridith
 Posted: May 28 2017, 02:03 PM
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It'd been some time before they had been able to stand beneath the trees together again. Turmoil had gripped Umbra after a Beast had killed several dragons and their riders - the Black Knights were still nursing their wounds, even as Valkyries swung closer than was comfortable, through the center of Lost Light Forest. It had been difficult to arrange a meeting under such circumstances, where none could find them from light or dark.

Arctus was a Black Knight of Umbra; a dragonrider who donned the black armor and rode a dark dragon, fighting for the Fallen Halgians whom he had been with since birth. Atticus was a Halgian, a disenchanter from Illus-Adamar - no warrior, not in the slightest. The two were incredibly different, and yet for years they had been the best of friends, even if their respective peoples might not agree with such a friendship.

"I don't see how they'll be able to miss us for too much longer," Arctus was saying. He was taller than his friend by a few inches, with silvery blue eyes and black hair shaved on either side, though long in the back. He wore thick black armor, with a deep blue gem in the breastplate, matching two smaller ones on each bracer and greave - protective charms against the magestorms, so that moving through their ferocity would not affect and change him. He wore no jewelry, and had only a large broadsword at his back, as well as several small pouches around his belt. Standing with his arms crossed, he looked down at his companion, expression grim.

Atticus shook his head. He sat crosslegged on the ground, hands clasped in front of him. "I've been trying to divert their attention, but the Valkyries have stopped paying attention to me. And Narri has been too busy to talk to in private." He sighed. "Valdr is a strong leader, I know. But are Umbra's protections enough? The Valkyries have been growing stronger and more numerous, of late. I fear soon, they may act even without the instruction of our Empress."

He was thinner and leaner than his older Fallen friend. Atticus wore divine metal armor, blessed white, with gemstones to protect him much like Arctus', shimmering with reflections of the chaotic, colorful storms that crashed down upon the sea and raged in the skies. A winged helm sat beside him, and no weapon he carried, save for a small dagger on his belt. His hair was a light gold and thickly braided, and his eyes a shade lighter than Arctus'. The young man wore golden earrings and a slender necklace, and when he looked up, he played with a ring on one finger nervously.

Two horses stood tethered underneath the dark, twisted trees, looking around nervously; one was a celestial warhorse with a pelt of midnight blue and a mane and tail of white, eyes and hooves of the same color, back and chest speckled in silver. The other was a middling cross, a grey horse who was old enough to be purely white, though dark eyes swirled a deep, intelligent brown. Both war tack that had the same protective gems on them, and each gelding flicked their ears back as thunder rumbled overhead.

The storms had yet to touch down here today; clouds had intermixed with the violent churning of twisted magic overhead, its array of endlessly-changing colors swirling inside the dark gray like spirits in a scrying orb. Over the ocean, visible from the forest's edge, curtains of color rained down upon the distant water, like rainbows warped into unnatural, falling fire. A lightning bolt, bright crimson, shot through the evening sky to the far, far south; it caught Arctus' brief attention, before he looked back away.

With a sigh, he rested a hand on the mottled wood of the nearest tree, eyes wandering into the depths of the forest. It was hard to traverse the Lost Light; even for those used to it. So closely the trees grew that paths through needed to be carefully maintained, lest the overabundant undergrowth and ever-growing branches sealed the way forever. The canopy was thick and dense, leaves so dark a green they were black, and one could only see so far for lack of light.

"We'll find a way," Arctus said quietly. "We have to. Thank you for telling me, Atti; you risked everything for this news. I'm sure Highlord Valdr will be pleased to know..." He shrugged then. "Or at least if not pleased, content that we have more information than we did."

--------------------
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darkeh
 Posted: Jun 8 2017, 07:13 PM
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There are days when it is a delight to be flying; when the sky, in a great blue bowl, seems at once endlessly distant and close enough to tempt; when clouds hang in the air as if by magic, their ragged scraps easily torn by dragon wings; when the sun, brilliantly shining, warms skin and scale alike and points with shadowy fingers to hidden places far below.

Deidre fondly remembered those days.

Only a little futher, Samil said, his voice at odds with the muscles Deidre felt straining underneath her. She kept her head low, occasionally rubbing her goggles with the furred cuffs of her flying jacket. The storm seemed offended by their very presence, and the drafts of air throwing them left and right were malicious in their duplicity. Rain pelted against the dragon rider's shoulders as though the sky were throwing rocks at them, shouting at them to leave.

"We're trying," she muttered, and icy water immediately slid into her mouth. She hung, coughing, over Samil's neck as the wyvern strove desperately to rise above the storm, his great wings suddenly small in the wake of huge grey castles and their angry black faces. Thunder crashed. A lightningbolt crackled somewhere to their right, blinding. Deirdre saw the light spiderwebbing toward them and felt a bubble of fear blossoming in her stomach but there was no time -

Cold. Oh, Five, it was so cold -

Samil roared, falling out of the cloud. Both him and Deidre were disoriented, having thought death was racing toward them with bright fingers, and it was only through muscle memory that Deirdre maintained her grip on the wildly floundering wyvern. With a great effort, the dragon righted himself, gliding steeply toward a beach pounded by black waters.

"A beach?" Deirdre asked, dazed, but there was no time to think about that. Samil was coming in too fast, far too fast. "Sam! SAM! Slow down!"

I'll try, he responded, but the weariness in his thoughts only alarmed Deirdre further. She found herself leaning back as the dragon flared his wings as much as he could, blunting their fall, his body taut as dwarven wire. A yell ripped from her throat as they came in over the white-crested waves and Samil's outstretched legs slammed into the sand, skidding trenches as deep as her arm down, down, down the length of the narrow strip, until he toppled forward onto his chest.

Deirdre? asked the dragon tiredly. There was no response. Lifting his head, he looked around, his concern rising as he spotted a familiar figure lying motionless some feet away. The dragon immediately climbed to his feet, folding his wings by his sides, and stamped over to her, tail lashing. Deirdre? Wake up. Deirdre... He nudged her with his great nose, and watched with relief as she sat up, groaning. You could have said something, he said reproachfully.

"You could have landed like a dragon instead of a rock," she threw back, pushing her goggles back into her hair. It floated around her face like a blonde halo, frizzed by the storm. "Ugh... I think I sprained my wrist."

Samil was about to say something, kind or unkind, when his nostrils flared suddenly. He lifted his head, orange eyes flashing. Someone is nearby, he cautioned.

"Good," Deirdre said cheerily. "They can tell us where we are. Hello? Hello!"

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Verridith
 Posted: Jun 9 2017, 05:29 AM
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Atticus was on his feet immediately, but not before the Fallen had drawn his greatsword, held at the ready. He pushed the Halgian behind him as both the horses shied, snorting, thunder rumbling in the distance. Suddenly, the younger man gasped and went to take a step forward, but Arctus pushed him back again, sparing him a glance before turning his icy eyes back. "No, Atticus, we don't know if they've been Touched or not!"

However, the rider's demeanor was... pleasant, normal. If a bit cheerful after falling from the sky. "Hail," he finally called back after a moment of hesitation. "Who are you and what are you doing here without protection against the Storms?"

"They don't look Touched yet, or changed at all," Atticus said quietly. Arctus hushed him and shook his head.

"Most don't, not unless they've been out for weeks," he replied quietly. Then, he lifted the sword and began approaching warily, wind tugging at his black hair.

Louder, he called, "How long have you been flying through the magestorms? Have you been Touched?"

--------------------
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"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"
^
darkeh
 Posted: Jun 9 2017, 10:19 AM
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"Touched?" Deirdre called back, perplexed. She pushed herself to her feet, favouring her right arm. "If you mean we're mad, I don't think so."

I beg to differ.

"Shut up, you great lizard," Deirdre muttered, but the glare she threw his way was affectionate. Looking back, however, she saw more than just the familiar scaled head of her companion; behind him, strange colors danced in the skies, mesmerizingly violent. The other confusing detail the stranger had mentioned floated in her mind. Magestorms... "But... we were just... I mean, it was a bad storm, but it didn't look like that..."

Samil snorted and stepped protectively in front of the young dragonrider as a heavily armoured man came into view, dragging Deirdre's attention from the skies. She peered over her dragon's shoulder with interest. "Look, Samil, they're opposites." The thought made her giggle unexpectedly. "Look, he's all grey and the other one is whiter than the snowcaps..."

I can see that, Samil replied dryly, curling his tail around her legs. The wyvern arched his neck to stare down at the men. He scented horses nearby and narrowed his eyes, calculating. In a raspy grumble - the wyvern rarely spoke aloud - he addressed the warriors:

"Speak plainly. We come from the Darklight Mountains." He licked his fangs, tasting the unfamiliar air. "We are enemies to innocent-killers and that is all."

"And spiders!" came Deirdre's voice from somewhere behind the posturing dragon, followed by a burst of slightly hysterical laughter.

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Verridith
 Posted: Jun 9 2017, 12:50 PM
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Certainly, the dragon didn't seem Touched... but the woman was another story. Alarm glittered in Arctus' eyes and he cautioned his friend back in the Halgian language, before warily sheathing his sword and starting forward carefully. "Then we are not enemies," he began, wondering if either could be reasoned with.

The Darklights; he had heard that name before. But from where, he couldn't recall. Not in this country... perhaps not even in this Realm. "You are in the land of Halgia, in the Realm of Evylon. You're on the edge of the Lost Light Forest. I'm afraid I don't recall where the Darklights are."

He hesitated half thinking of how quickly he could defend himself and Atticus if they were attacked, and half on what to say. "Have you no protection against the magestorms? If you don't, you will become Touched - tainted by them and changed."

--------------------
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"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"
^
darkeh
 Posted: Jun 9 2017, 01:18 PM
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"Evylon?" Samil questioned, tailtip flicking in irritation. "Halgia and the Lost Light Forest? You make no sense -"

"Like the lights in the sky?" Deirdre interrupted. "Are they lost? How queer." She pushed Samil's tail away impatiently and moved in front of him. The first man, the grey man, was so tall that the dragonrider was forced to look up to make eye contact, despite not being an especially short woman. "Are you Touched?"

Deirdre -

"Not now," she mumbled, still looking at the man. The white knight behind him interested her more, though. He looked... magical, yes, that was the word. He glowed in this gloomy place.

Dei!

"Sam!" she said allowed, her tone mocking. The dragon huffed and bumped her head with his nose. The sensation was shockingly more painful than it should have been, and Deirdre sat down abruptly, raising her uninjured hand instinctively to the back of her skull. The glove came away bloody.

Immediate feelings of remorse surged from Samil, but the dragon's guilt wasn't over causing the injury. You fell harder than you thought, he said gently, while she stared at the red-smeared leather. Locking the grey knight's eyes with his own reptilian glare, the wyvern spoke again, and there was a note of pleading in his tone. "Where is safe in this place? Take us there.... please."

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Verridith
 Posted: Jun 9 2017, 02:44 PM
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She was injured... well, shit.

Arctus glanced back over his shoulder, then ran a hand through his hair with a sigh. At last, he muttered something in Halgian, and Atticus warily approached. The younger of the two was seemingly nervous, and looked at the dragon - a wyvern of a color and appearance he had never even heard of before - with fear.

"I can't take you to the city," Arctus said quietly. "My people don't take kindly to outsiders. But here." He felt bad for these two, and reached down to unclasp the large blue gems on each bracer. They were easy to replace; no matter what he might do in Umbra, they would never be without their gems. "Take these, one each. They should protect you from the Storms until you get under a Shielded city, or into one of the protected countries, Shi'vrann'aeli or Driakkion." He handed the twin gemstones to Deirdre, trying to decide what to do. What a conundrum this had become...

"We can't take them to Umbra," Atticus said, touching his friend's shoulder. "Nor any city that I'm from. Where might we get treatment? My powers of healing-"

"I know, I know," the Black Knight muttered, frustrated. Of all the times to go without Phantasm... "They need to get out of the Storms first. Atticus, go get our horses. Bring them, and then we'll figure out where might be safest."

He paused, then dipped his head. "My name is Arctus, and I'm a Black Knight of Umbra. This is Atticus, a disenchanter from a Halgian city far too the north. What are your names?"

--------------------
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"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"
^
darkeh
 Posted: Jun 9 2017, 06:28 PM
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Deirdre, watching Atticus leave hastily to fetch the mounts, didn't appear to be listening. Her wyvern rolled his eyes and answered instead, reverting to mindspeech - he so detested speaking aloud. I am Samil, and this is Deirdre, of Janestown. She is not normally so... Idiotic came to mind, but Samil let the sentence drift into a tasteful silence, before nodding in the direction of the one that had left. Your friend... Whinnies of complaint were issuing from the black wood. He is not like you.

"That's impolite, Sam," Deirdre murmured, snapping back to reality. She touched her head again, gingerly, before taking the proffered gems. The wyvern looked at her open palm and reluctantly leaned forward, delicately clasping one between his teeth. The dragonrider stifled another giggle and looked at Arctus apologetically, her grey eyes clearing for a moment. "I think the storm must have blown us far fromhome." She hesitated for a moment, then smiled warmly at the Black Knight. "Thank you for helping us. We'll return the favour, I promise."

Yes, thank you, Samil echoed, nudging Deirdre's shoulder. She laughed and climbed good-naturedly onto his back just as the horses returned. "Where are we going?" asked the blonde rider, carefully tucking her sprained wrist into her flying coat. In her mind they needed only a night's rest. Samil was an excellent flyer; once the storms blew out, he could take her back, back to familiar mountains and Janestown's quiet cottages. The dragon was not so sure, but he kept his peace, eyeing Atticus with an degree of mistrust equivalent to the white knight's fear.

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Verridith
 Posted: Jun 9 2017, 07:18 PM
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Arctus looked down and away at the mention of them being different; he didn't immediately answer as he swung up on his warhorse with the ease of a warrior used to riding, adjusting to the saddle easily despite not being adragonback. "Atticus is a Halgian," he said quietly, at last. "I am one of the Fallen Halgians many of his kin despise. The Fallen do not share the belief that all dark things are inherently evil; and that's it."

"I don't," Atticus interjected, but then shied away with his horse to move behind Arctus. "We want peace between our races. Both of us have been trying to keep the peace for a very-"

"We can talk politics later," the Black Knight said quietly. "Right now, we need to move. We can go to a camp just north of here, there..." He stopped, hesitating, as he debated what to do. "No. She needs healing as soon as possible."

"Just take her to Umbra," the Halgian said, shaking his head. He was scared, that much was clear, but determined as well. "I can make it back on my own. She needs more help than I do, Bear."

Arctus turned to give his friend a pained glance. "You can't. Remember what happened last time? I can't let you go alone. There are a thousand things out here that would tear you apart."

"I know, but..."

"I won't let you stay behind." He sighed. "The camp is our only option. I can't risk them taking you prisoner, and potentially executing you, in Umbra."

The younger Halgian gave Arctus a doubtful look. "They won't kill me, and you know the Highlord. You're one of his best men. They'll listen to you, so why don't we try it?" Atticus gestured at himself. "It's not like I'm a big, threatening warrior like you. C'mon, Bear, please."

Arctus sighed. "Fine," he muttered, as his warhorse flattened its ears defiantly at the dragon. " But if they hurt you, I'm defecting so I can kick some ass."

"Right," Atticus responded, trying and failing to fake cheerfulness. "Let's go, then. Uh, I hope the... er... dragon can fit through the trees..."

--------------------
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"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"
^
darkeh
 Posted: Jun 9 2017, 07:36 PM
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Samil stared at Atticus for a moment, then unfolded his wings with slow deliberation, making it abundantly clear he had no intention at all of walking. Deirdre's muffled whimper stilled his pride, however, and the wyvern looked slightly defeated as his rider patted his shoulder and slid off. "You fly," she mumbled. "I'll ride with one of these two. It'll be easier."

I'll be close.

"I know." She smiled up at the concerned orange eyes and glanced at the knights. Arctus occupied a great deal of his horse's back, so (not unwillingly) Deirdre went to Atticus' horse and looked shyly up at him. When he didn't immediately say no, she vaulted up onto his mount's back with a surprising amount of grace.

Samil snorted and flung himself into the air, skimming the trees in tight, controlled circles. As they moved off at last, the dragonrider found herself in an uncomfortable silence. She tried to hold it, for awhile, but finally burst out with questions before they'd gone more than five or six dragonlengths into the wood. "Where is Umbra? Why would they hurt one of you, if you're not evil? And what do you mean by dark?" Images of misshapen things crawling from underneath beds and out of hearths quieted her for a bare moment.

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Verridith
 Posted: Jun 9 2017, 07:56 PM
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Atticus looked so uncomfortable that his Fallen friend might have cracked a grin were the circumstances lighter. As of now, however, he looked uncertain, and glanced upwards at the lightless canopy, wondering where the dragon flew off to. He hoped very much that no patrols would find him before they got to Umbra; his usual appearance in such skies might evoke a violent response.

"Tell your dragon to stay hidden as well as he can," the knight said, ignoring her questions. "The Storms thicken over land, like a fog of chaos. The trees grow so thick that we won't be able to track his progress... and I don't have my dragon to stop any Wings from attacking him on sight. A wyvern like that isn't a common sight around here. He must not be of any kind Evylon has spawned... not any that I can tell."

As his friend hadn't answered, and Arctus ignored the looks the younger Halgian was giving him, Atticus finally sighed and relented.

"We won't see the way in, I'd imagine," he replied awkwardly. "The city is protected and hidden, because of... of the Halgians, my kind, who wish their destruction. The Fallen and my kin have been at odds for thousands of years, and Umbra has only existed so long as it remains a secret. As for... for h-hurting me..." He took a deep breath and swallowed hard. "If I were a threat, then maybe, but... I don't think they will. They're good people, if Arctus is any idea."

He didn't know how to answer the dark creature question; so he looked to the knight fire guidance. "Halgians can sense the light of a creature or person," Arctus said distractedly. "Along with malice and evil. But not all dark things are evil, just like not all light things are good. The Fallen believe even dark creatures, like demons and shadowbeasts for example, can be good."

His icy eyes flicked back to her. The path narrowed and they were forced to ride single file, as the trees grew so close together that they wound around each other, small paths here and there the only source of light in the darkness that surrounded them. "Halgians, except New Fallen and those like Atticus, believe all dark creatures are inherently evil, and must be eradicated from the world."

--------------------
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"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"
^
darkeh
 Posted: Jun 10 2017, 08:50 AM
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Deirdre listened, and through her, Samil. I will be close, he reassured her, and his shadow passed over the trio a moment later, his wings beating like dull, irregular drums in the ozone-scented air. She watched him until the leaves swallowed him from sight. "Then," she said slowly, glancing from one knight to another. "If I understand this right, there's a... war... going on, between these light and dark sides. And you -" she pointed to Arctus, "are a member of the dark side, and you -" here she tapped Atticus' shoulder lightly, "are a turncloak from the light. How did you become friends, then?"

Better question, Samil murmured, winging over them again. What is wrong with killing evil creatures? Are dark creatures not made to be evil? He was thinking of the raiders that attacked Janestown, and Deirdre was silent for a moment before relaying his question. An odd thought struck her as she looked at her flying gloves braced on the horse's hindquarters. "Are we dark...?"

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Verridith
 Posted: Jun 10 2017, 12:42 PM
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"It's not as simple as that," Arctus murmured, saving Atticus face as he looked absolutely horrified at being called a turncoat. "There's dark, and light, yes. But it's not only black and white - it's a... spectrum. Not everything dark is evil. And not everything light is good."

He looked over his shoulder at them, icy blue eyes dark and serious. "The Halgians - those you call the light... many of them believe that dark creatures are not capable of empathy, compassion, or morality. But there have been demons who fight against their own kind to protect innocents... sarka who work to save lives. But they would even purge these good souls who desire nothing but peace... and they would destroy those of us who think differently, simply because we do."

Atticus said nothing, so the Fallen continued. "Dark creatures, many of them, were made for dark things, yes. But each has an individual mind, and soul, and can make decisions for themselves. If they choose to go against their nature and fight for good, who are we to decide that that isn't good enough? Is what's in our hearts really so meaningless?"

--------------------
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"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"
^
darkeh
 Posted: Jun 10 2017, 04:04 PM
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And what of the innocents that died before that realization? Samil countered, using Deirdre as a mouthpiece. The forest cover had grown thick enough now that he was permanently lost from sight, and even the pressure of his wings did not reach down far enough to disturb the branches around them. The dragon kept low, however, and widened his circles, cautious of the warning Arctus had given him. How many dark creatures were fed on blood or killing before they decided it was not to their taste? Where is the punishment for them?

Deirdre shook her head and glanced upward, despite not seeing Samil's reassuring silhouette. "That's unfair," she remarked quietly. "People make mistakes. We've hurt people."

We have not killed, Samil corrected sharply, and now he directed his attention to the knights. You fight for the freedom to hurt, at least from the dark. How do the light cause pain for others? What is there to fear from these... Halgians?

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