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Ink Fox

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    The Realm of Youkai
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    Folklore, Telling Tales, Spinning Yarns
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  1. Xildara wasn’t too sure how to answer that question. It should have been a simple answer, but it wasn’t. Should she have told him about her life on the run? Of the perpetual fear she felt? That she was a vagrant that had broken into his house of God? She searched her mind for a better explanation but found nothing. In stead she changed the subject. “Is sheparding that difficult?” “Excuse me?” The old man leaned in to hear her better. “I-Is sheparding difficult? Is that why your daughter won’t work?” She asked again, this time more volume to her voice. The old man chuckled and slapped his knee. “You mean herding,” He corrected but continued, “—and, yes and no—You see, sheep usually wander. But these don’t—They’re too afraid of what lurks in the forest.” The old man inserted a pinky in his ear and scratched as he explained. “You see at night; we’re blighted by wolves. –Damn things run amok! It makes it so that I must bring me sheep farther towards the barn each evening, lest them blasted wolves get at ‘im…” He shrugged. “I don’t really blame my daughter for having no interest in it. It’s a quiet job during the day, but each evening, the outskirts of the forest just take on a different personality all together. –It’s made field rotation much more complicated.” Scoffing the old man served himself more tea and finally said in defeat. “Well if the wolves don’t get them first, they’ll starve—regular rock and a hard place, aye?” Xildara thought deeply on the situation and wondered if she could help somehow. “I—could…” She began, then stopped having to summon up the courage to make a leap of faith. “I’ll do it… I can watch your sheep in the evenings… Just show me where to take them.” The old man paused and squinted at the wisp of a girl. “Haha! You’re pulling my leg –you think I’m gonna let a tiny thing like you get chewed up over some sheep? Nah,” He shook his head, and looked away, but Xildara rose in protest. “I can do it—I used to live in the woods… I know how to drive away wolves…” She wasn’t lying. Most animals feared her, except for sheep strangely enough. It often made Xildara wonder what the connection between her species and cloven-hoofed animals had been, but they seemed to get along just fine.
  2. A subtle touch, a gentle nudge, the smell of damp fur and freshly crushed grass mingling with the scent of wild herbs and flowers. The warm air and sun rays peeking through the leaves over head had lulled her deeply into sleep that morn, but now a cacophony of animals had gathered round, playfully prodding at the slumbering druid. She had settled into the hidden meadow along one of her regular walks through the woods. Her form summoning a soft blanket of peat moss and vines to sprout from beneath her, snuggling her lithe figure in a soft bed of earth that cradled her like a mother would a child. “Oh—Just five more minutes…” Lumine muttered and shoved away a moist muzzle, but the deer was persistent and shoved her hand back only to clear a path to the foliage growing round the crown of her head and tangling into brunette hair that was kissed by sunlight and shimmered like the face of a lake on a clear day. “Ow!” Lumine jolted when the deer caught a strand of her hair; mistaking it for stringy vines. “Oh nononono!” Lumi protested and wrestled the tress from its mouth. “—That was a rude awakening…” The druid pouted beholding her assailant and the sight behind him. Birds, mice, raccoons, badgers, snakes, other deer, and everything in between had flooded the field, staring at her as if she were a spectacle to be seen. Lumine blinked back at the congregation and then giggled softly. “Off with you!” The command was issued, and just like that her enchanting air had been dispelled, sending most of the animals on their way. Except for a particularly lazy moose that had decided that Lumine’s napping spot was now his. He lumbered over, folded his long knobby legs and proceeded to roll over into the moss bed, completely disregarding Lumine’s presence. “Hey!” Lumi chirped as she scrambled out of the way. “Silly moose…” She muttered as she rose to her feet and dusted the hem of her tunic. Lumine concluded it was probably for the best—she had dawdled long enough, and Master Gren wasn’t going to be very happy with his very late and wayward apprentice. They were supposed to be preparing for the Spriggans Rite, a sacred ritual used to summon newborn baby spriggans into the world thus helping bring life back to patches of dead forest. This part of the woods still seemed to hum with life though, which put Lumine into a carefree mood. She walked beneath the canopies of the trees greeting every living thing as she passed. “Hello Mr. owl! Hello little bird! Good morning to you too Ms. Bumblebee! Looking spry there Mr. Squirr—” Lumine halted mid greeting as a streak of silver fell from the sky and swept past Mr. Squirrel leaving naught but a small tuft of hair lingering in his place. The druid froze for a moment letting the levity of the situation sink in, and then finally accepted what happen. “The Circle of Life,” She said as if it were a prayer and then repeated the words in the druidic tongue of the trees “Men Tul Rru,” A single silvery feather drifted down from a crack in the canopy, perhaps swiped off by a branch too nearly missed. Lumine watched it for a moment and then retrieved it from the ground. She inspected it closely, running fingers along the spine, and smoothing back the soft bristles. It was mottled in a distinctive fashion. The plume belonged to an animal obviously, but the aura it exuded was strange. Lumine couldn’t put her finger on it, but her interest was piqued. Looking off in the direction the predator had darted off into, the trees, and underbrush bent away as if clearing an easy path for her to follow after it. ‘It landed at the stream…’ A voice whispered into her ear like a passing breeze. The trees were natural tattletales. “Did it now?” Lumine uttered as she twirled the feather between her slender fingers and marched down the newly hewn path toward the point of interest. As she emerged by a modest stream, she could catch the sound of splashing and followed it till she saw it. A silver-grey falcon basking in the cool water and washing its beak of gore, and haphazardly shuffling into a swallow part of the stream to toss water over its neat feathers. Animals barely registered Lumine’s presence, most sensed her as a form of plant life, and seldomed paid attention to her presence unless she asked for it. The Falcon was no different, and barely took note of her as she quickly found a perch on a sizeable boulder sitting at the side of the stream. She crouched down to watch the bird, her bare toes gripping the rock as she rested her chin in her hands. The sun light upon her skin caused her cheeks to flake with soft scale like skin that would perpetually shed and fall away like the petals of a blush colored rose. As the petals landed in the water of the clear stream, it caused water lilies, and fronds to bloom and float in tow of the current. While beneath her feet a heavy sheet of moss began to grow and spread across the rock face. “Well—Such a pretty bird!” She cooed at the falcon, finally announcing her presence. “I’ve never seen you in this part of the woods before—where did you come from?” @The Hummingbird
  3. stones left unturned; [ the darkness beneath, chapter 1 ] Xildara’s head whips around as if Eirene’s once calming voice no longer held its enchantment over her. Her eyes were wide and intense; the whites flashing starkly against silver pools and reflecting the priestess’ uneasy visage. “There’s no changing this—it was too real…” There is a sickening feeling that enters the room the longer Xildara gazes at the priestess. She tried to remember—to recall any of the smallest of details. “Everything was wrong—the sun had been ripped from the sky by some looming darkness that bathe the lands in shadows… Constans lay dead at the foot of the church…” Her mouth went dry, and she tore her eyes away finally, feeling as though some wickedness lay waiting to pounce behind her relentless gaze. “—The stars had been aligned oddly, and only a few shined bright enough to break through the dark clouds hovering over the village.” Xildara’s voice fell to a hush. “Why? Why am I being shown this? What does it mean, priestess?” Xil covered her own face and wilted down into her lap. Doubled over, a few stray tears fell from the demi-gorgon’s cheeks and stained her skirt with diamond dust. Unable to contain her sadness, Xildara could not contain herself. Her true form melded into her human one causing snakes to appear from her tresses. Shocked, and terrified of the repercussions, Xildara fled the temple, sprinting from the safe haven out and down the streets of the Cothite village. She could no longer linger here, the visions were an omen... a warning. She was never meant to stop here-- Running with all her might she fled down the main room, disappearing into the cloud of dust kicked up by her heels--never to be seen again... Now those who wander the main roads in late evening sometimes complain of hearing haunting sobs that echo far into the night. @vielle
  4. Xildara backed out of the room with a fragile smile on her face. This place made her feel odd—the atmosphere of the house itself seemed to embrace her and warm her bones with a familiar feeling that was bittersweet. “Young miss? Sugar or honey?” The old man called from the tiny kitchen. Xildara retraced her steps, meeting him at the heavy wooden table strewn with clay bowls, bread, cured ham, small jars of jam, and bits and ends of chopped vegetables. The old man felt his way around the table, shuffling objects out of the way and placing a modest teacup in the new vacancy. “So—” He began, “What brings a kind heart like yours to my neck of the woods?” He sat in a carved chair opposite of her with much effort put on his protesting bones. It was a wonder he still managed his sheep. “I was just—wandering…” She didn’t want to sound like a wayward vagrant but there was no other way to put it. “I’m sorry I—” She began but was halted by the old man’s withered hand as he rose it abruptly to stop her from going on any further. “No need to apologize—You’ve done nothing wrong. In fact, you helped a stranger, it must be God’s will that you show up on my doorstep heheheh…” He chuckled distantly as if remembering something. “My sweet daughter has all but forgotten her old man. She thinks I’m stifling---and she’s probably right.” He laughed again and sipped his drink. Xildara’s could see his milky eyes now as they scanned the room absently. “She’s supposed to be the one tending to the sheep, but she always runs off in the evening. God knows where to—these old bones could never keep up.” He patted his hip as if to illustrate its rickety nature. “—She’s too brilliant for a small town like this. I suppose I should just give in and hire a new shepard… maybe even sell the flock. –Dunno how we’d stay afloat without the coin from the fleeces… but it’s God’s will I suppose.” Xildara felt for the man and listened intently as he went on about his family and how they had come there literally looking for greener pastures. He felt safe within Coth and remarked on how a weight had been lifted since coming here, but his livelihood hung in the balance. “—Eh I’ve done chewed your ear off about enough, haven’t I?” The old man admitted, glancing down at his emptied cup. “What about you? What brings you to Coth?”
  5. “Well I didn’t think it would take this long; besides we were running low on rations,” Ograh spat on the ground but examined the hefty deer strewn over the sturdy hunter’s broad shoulder. “8-points, good catch. Surprising we haven’t seen more on the way here. The forest is eerily quiet today…” Ograh’s cerulean eyes scanned the treetops as the wind bristled through the leaves as if to punctuate the unease in the air. She shook the feeling off though, returning her attention to more pressing matters. “You should field dress that before the bile spoils it…” She muttered still half-distracted. Isaac’s shrill whistle broke Cersei and Sen from their work, and both females paused to pay the man heed. Cersei’s head twitched curiously and tipped with a slight naïve look in her large soft eyes. “We aren’t staying?” She almost sounded disappointed as she glanced down at a handsome mound of twigs. “For the umpteenth time, Chi—We’re heading closer to Coth. We wouldn’t be able to get much work out here in the middle of nowhere, and we need to find flatter land.” Ograh glared over at the absentminded bird. “Awe—okay…” Cersei’s head and shoulders drooped, but her chirper demeanor came flooding back as Isaac crossed her path. The harpy bounced after him like a sugar high magnet, sending small tufts of peachy feathers into the air. “Isa! Isa! Isa!” She chirped excitedly and tipped her head once more as she watched him mime commands to the ogre. Sen simply stared at him flatly for a few moments as if her brain was working exceedingly hard on deciphering what he was doing. Before long, Sen looked over at Ograh, and hooked her arms beneath and around the orc’s shoulder and leg with intent to pick Ograh up. “NO!! --YOU LUMOX!! NOT ME!! THE TREE!! --TREE!!” Ograh shrieked and violently jabbed her finger in the direction of the pile of logs. She wriggled out of Sen’s grasp, obviously flustered and marched off to pack up the campsite and carry the remaining supplies. EVENTUALLY, Senko got the point, and piled a few logs onto her shoulders and hauled them off as easily as Isaac hauled his deer. “Isa—Why are we going to Coth? Whatsa Coth anyway?” Cersei hopped after Isaac, peppering him with questions she should have asked way before coming, but she was too inexplicably inseparable from the hunter that it mattered little what the destination was going to be. “Coth is a small town—” Ograh piped in as she caught up to the two. “Apparently there’s been many strange events happening there. Green fire in the sky, random miracles—pah, I don’t believe a lick of it but it’s called enough attention for a fresh town to have popped up–and a town with so little amenities… it’s bound to need a few roles filled. Which is where we come in—get it?” Ograh tried to lay it out for the bird, but she simply stared at Og blankly and then looked over at Isaac for confirmation.
  6. They walked in silence for a few moments, no words exchanging between the two. The awkwardness of the mystery between them was starting to gnaw at Xildara’s easily frayed nerves. She stared hard at the old man as she fumbled with the sack of tools. Why hadn’t he spoke up yet? Why was he so calm? The old man cleared his throat, intensifying Xildara’s focus further, but only frustrating her more, as well, when no anticipated words came. They reached the door to the quaint farmhouse. A modest dwelling, small but spacious enough for a family. It looked as if there was some kind of workshop at the back of it. A large water wheel churned languidly as if kinetically powering something inside. “—It’s evident you’re not my daughter, but you are welcomed to join me for tea, young lady. Set the tools by the door and come inside.” The elderly man finally croaked, as he pushed the door open and hobbled inside. Xildara shuffled her feet unsure of what to do, and slightly baffled she had misjudged his eyes. Looking down either end of the path, there seemed to be no other recourse and curiosity was getting the best of her. Reluctantly she headed inside, placing the sack at the foot of the door, and shutting it behind her. The inside of the home was filled with a cozy atmosphere. Sunlight streamed in through the windows, illuminating small particles of pollen and making the room appear as if it were a fairy’s den. The walls were decorated with warmly painted portraits of flowers and fauna, and hung cloths decorated with detailed cross stitching. The whole house itself was like a tapestry of the family’s life. Small things like paints, brushes and carving tools strewn here and there illustrated the artisan past time of the small farmhouse dwellers. “Come in—I hope you like Chamomile… It’s Ma’s favorite. Would you mind bringing her a cup? The poor dear had a bad fall last year and has been bed ridden since.” The old man peered through a doorway leading to the kitchen. He had left a pot brewing while he had been in the field and was already pouring the hot water over the aromatic makeshift tea pouches. Xildara, compelled by this man’s gentle nature, continued to do what she was asked, and scurried into the kitchen to retrieve a cup and saucer with a spoonful of honey. The old man pointed her down the hall to a quiet corridor, flanked by bedrooms. She carefully balanced the cup and headed in that direction, glancing at the room on her right, and catching the sight of a tidy room, with a singular bed--at her left, lay the master bedroom. Here, in the doublewide bed lay the petite form of a wilted old woman with soft grey hair and a kind expression to her heavily wrinkled face. It was evident she was the Shepard’s wife. She barely had the strength to greet the girl as Xildara carefully stepped into the room, afraid any heavy footsteps would disturb the poor woman’s tranquil atmosphere. The old woman sat up slowly and smiled at Xildara, outstretching her wrinkled hands to accept the saucer and cup. Xildara could see the veins through the old woman’s translucent skin and handed her the cup gently grazing the woman’s fingers with her own. She was soft, and warm in her old age, and Xildara wondered what her own parents would have looked like at this age. It stirred tender feelings in her heart as she watched the old woman sip her tea with a subtle grace that came with her wizen age. Would her mother have resembled this old stranger if she had still been alive?
  7. Solar Waltz Xildara sat at the top of the grassy knoll, near the walls of the ruined church she had been calling home for a few weeks now. The longer she remained here, the more she began to feel herself. She had met so many new faces in the short span of time she had been here, and yet each of them had been so kind and friendly to her it made her a little uneasy. A part of her wildness was refusing to become tame and accept the confines of the village life as her new path; but there was no longer a reason to run anymore. Now she watched. Watched the people in the village work, and play. Watched the streets fill and empty each morning and noon. Watched the fields bloom and fade away in the sunset. –Watched the moonlit clouds lazily glide over the rolling hills that were newly sewn with the hopeful crops of spring and summer. It was all so mundane and yet fascinating to someone so new to the feeling of tranquility. Xildara hardly knew what to do with herself anymore. Her one purpose this entire time had been to survive in a world that scorned her existence and yet here--things were different. She wasn’t met with suspicion or malice, but she attributed that to the human mask she had grown accustom to wearing during the day, choosing to retreat to the sanctuary of the church at night when her hair and skin would mottle with scales. The aimlessness seemed to be getting to her, though. She fidgeted in her seat, recalling the faces of her new acquaintances. They all seemed so confident in what they were doing. She wondered how she could become like that too one day. What was their secret? Just then a wagon rolled by the foot of the hill, bumping a large stone lodged deep within the path. A wheel of cheese shook loose after the cart violently jolted over it. It rolled down the cobbled path, but the cart puller didn’t seem to notice. Xildara felt a little bad for him and quietly scurried down the hill to retrieve his hard-earned merchandise. Luckily the wax dipped fermentation had rolled into a small outcrop of grass—nary a bruise or dent. She hefted it up and trotted down the path briskly to return it. The cart puller was happy to have his food back and offered Xildara a quarter of it in gratitude. Shyly Xildara protested and left the merchant to his devices. Her reward was his glad expression when she had returned it to him, the gratitude felt good—no one had ever been thankful to her before, and it was a somewhat addictive feeling. The gorgon wondered if this is what it felt like having a real purpose? –But was it just gratitude alone that made one’s purpose worthwhile? It was an unexplored idea; one that she pondered as she let her feet wander the paths through town. Everything moved so briskly here, constantly changing. It made it hard for her to think, and the crowds made her anxious—therefore, her thoughts took her down a quieted farmland road, flanked sparsely by modest barns and newborn crops. The landscape began to give way to rolling plains for grazing fields the farther she let herself wander from the heart of the town, and here she finally found enough solitude to hear her own thoughts again. Posting up on a small wooden fence that lined the major fields, Xildara’s pearlesque eyes scanned the sprawling stretches of grass, appreciating the fresh smell of the open field. The clatter of copper bells drew her attention and not so far away, Xildara spotted a herd of meandering sheep--bleating, and lazily trailing after a hunched old man with a long white beard that nearly touched his knees. His head had gone bear with age, though his eyebrows looked as if they’d get bushier with each passing year. She could barely see his eyes from beneath his brows, but from the way he swung his crook and walked slowly and deliberately, it was evident his eyes weren’t of much use to him anymore. He nearly stumbled over, feeling for the latch of the gate that would allow him to exit the fields. A concerned onlooker as always, Xildara quietly made her way over, unlatched the gate, and led the man through, shutting the fence behind him to keep his livestock corralled. The old man said nothing and barely registered her presence as he began to retrieve a hefty burlap sack of field tools from where it had been hung on the gate. He struggled a bit, making Xildara cringe with worry, only spurring her into taking the sack from him, which again was met with no argument from the sagely silent elder. He turned and began to trudge down the road to a nearby farmhouse, and Xildara, at a loss, simply stared around helplessly but then followed him.
  8. What's wrong???....hit me back G. Benny

    1. Show previous comments  2 more
    2. Ink Fox

      Ink Fox

      Your right about alot of it Prince Bee (all of it infact). I dunno maybe it's just me, but I can't help but take on other people's problems even when it doesn't involve me. I just like to be helpful and feel needed, and lately I just haven't been able to find my niche. But you're right, I should do some things for ME. You sound like a great dad though who focuses on his daughter's well being, and you took the time to reach out--so I find it kinda sad you've been having your own set of problems. I hope you get to feeling better yourself, and take care of that ticker! your daughter needs you!!

      Haha y'know I was gonna look up the dream interpretation for hair falling out but I was a little scared of what it might say, but you hit the nail on the head I think. Today I just focused on resting and slept in. My brain still feels a little deflated, but I think I'm gonna try and get my solo projects started tomorrow. Lol wine and writing also sounds really ideal too xD a bit of drunk writing is always fun!

      I usually rp in the Coth section but everyone seems very busy atm and I haven't had any recent takers. lol I'd be happy to take you up on that rp offer though, but most of my characters are low tech medieval fantasy setting doods, so I'm not sure where to meet in the middle xP

      --and don't worry I won't hurt myself, I think I'm gonna kick back and enjoy some music until the inspiration comes back. Let me know if you have any rp ideas, maybe I could try my hand at making a more modern individual.


      Thanks again, Prince Bee!

    3. princeben07


      Sure!!! you STAY in touch and I can get something rolling within a few days.

      GIRL, let me TELL you something.................. I have a USB cord (6 inches; Micro, Android only: sorry Apple you SUCK!!) wrapped around my left MARRIAGE finger.


      I don't know WHY I put her there.....If I take it off, I'll feel that someone is going to DIE for some unknown reason.

      Please take CARE of yourself okay? Don't WORRY me to DEATH young lady!!! I CARE TOO MUCH!!!!



    4. Ink Fox

      Ink Fox

      Haha of course! And dont worry too much yourself! Again, take care of that ticker! Btw what forums/characters do you play in/as? I'm thinking about branching out and making a few characters in other areas, but I could use some ideas lol

  9. stones left unturned; [ the darkness beneath, chapter 1 ] “You look quite lovely, my lady. Come now; we’ve a small feast prepared for you.” Eirene’s voice echoes off the marble walls of the spacious corridor. A table is set for them, plates of steaming food sit wafting in the air, the aroma is enough to madden one with hunger, but Xildara is all but appetized. Her face is paler than before, and a deep look of sadness sits in the wells of her starlight eyes. Astra ushers her to her seat, the servant’s usually gentle demeanor replaced by one of apprehension and pity. Astra glances at the Matron and bows her head before taking her leave. Xildara sits quietly for a moment, her eyes scanning hollowly over the spread, and though her stomach rumbles, her appetite has left her; in its place a pit of anxiety. The pale female feels sick and cannot bring herself to look at the worried Matron. Meanwhile her mind replays the scenes in her head, and from Xildara’s lips the words, “I’m a curse,” fall. She grits her teeth, angry with herself for even being born. The emotion threatens to sharpen her teeth into her natural fangs; her gorgon blood raging against her humanoid features. She wants to lash out but feels pathetic for being unable to control herself. She slams her fist onto the marble table sending a violent jolt through the silverware and plates. Her pale fingers are furled and clutched so tightly that even the bound wound begins to seep with fresh crimson. Droplets soak the bandage and spill onto the table staining its stark and pure white granite with sticky life essence. “It’s all because of me—He’s going to die… and it’s my fault!!” Her voice finally cracks—shaking with frustration. Xildara is aware of the rising tension in the room—of how irrational she sounds and appears. “I saw it—in the mirror. Constans is going to die….” She sounded mad; she must have looked the part too with a measurable amount of fear cresting in her silver pupils. She looks at Eirene as if pleading but tears her eyes away the moment she feels them well up. “I should have never come here…” @vielle
  10. Ugh-- feeling depressed lately, just too many things falling apart on me, and too many bad dreams of being back in high school during my graduation and my hair falling out...

    1. The Hummingbird

      The Hummingbird

      I have a lot of bad dreams too. Stay strong! Try to do things that relax you - aromatherapy helps me, personally.

    2. Ink Fox

      Ink Fox

      Thanks for reaching out-- aromatherapy? Haven't considered that before

  11. The heavy doors creaked open, revealing the inner sanctum of the dusty church. The fractured canopy of the roof allowed in a few beams of misty sunlight that cast darkened shadows across the vacant space in deep contrasts. Still in the corner of the room that had been untouched by the glow of day, Xildara caught the movement of a tall graceful figure slowly unfurling from their seat and silently creep from the shadows on bared feet. Xildara instinctively froze, taking note of the being’s sharp features as they spoke in a hollow tone that compelled Xildara to turn and leave. Yet she stood frozen, fully scanning the woman as she came into the light. Tall elegant ears, flowing smoky tresses, sharp cheekbones, and cat-like eyes that rang with a deadly intelligence. The stranger smelled of parchment and bitter ink, with an undertone of fresh leaves and wild herbs. Befuddled and awed all at once, Xildara stared; her mouth falling open slowly as she traced the markings etched into the pale skin of the elegant female. Symbols crested her forehead and dark lines stained around her lips and eyes, accenting the fullness of her lips and sharpness of her eyes—while other more cryptic and complex designs adorned her arms, and legs. Like prey caught in the gaze of a predator, Xildara’s eyes turned saucer-like and she began to stutter more the closer the unknown woman drew. As if the stranger’s very presence was exerting pressure over her, Xildara slightly shrank. “I—uh—We—Well, you see—I didn’t mean—Maybe you could—um I didn’t…” Unable to form a complete sentence, Xil cast a desperate gaze over to her braver cohort who was still admiring the view of the village below. No one was going to come to her rescue—nevertheless she had made a promise to herself to stop being so helpless. Refocusing and taking a deep breath, she convinced herself that social interaction was going to be a thing that was a part of her new life now. She’d have to get used to talking to people, even if they were slightly scary. “I came to make an introduction—” Xildara started again, slowly and more calmly. “This is Lady Mateja—” She motioned to the nomad standing at the edge of the hill’s precipice. “--She has come here after hearing about the miracles and the green fire… I was sure Constans could tell her more about it.” @KittyvonCupcake @ianthine
  12. stones left unturned; [ the darkness beneath, chapter 1 ] Eirene pulled the door open, and the air from within wraps itself around Xildara, ushering her in. It’s like entering another world. The atmosphere is thick, but not heavy. Xildara can feel the warmth in the air and taste the spices of the incenses. The light that rains in through the fractured windows are basked in auras filled with a myriad of colors that dance along the carefully carved stone floors and walls. Exquisitely adorned pillars hold up the vaulted ceilings, causing the slightest sound in the room to echo clearly. The circular center of the room is flanked by lit braziers whose bright flames reflect in the ornamental moldings of the room, though it is the massive fire fixated at its center that catches Xildara’s stony gaze. It hums with a familiar energy and light, bringing back memories of the night she had stumbled into the church’s study. The fire that did not burn—her eyes traced the dancing flames, becoming lost in their rhythm. The twinkle of light bells rung throughout the corridor, drawing Xildara’s attention away. The priestess stood near a silver chain and smiled warmly at her, explaining that she had just summoned the attendants. “What would you like to have first, a bath or a meal?” Eirene’s voice held the same delicate ring as the bells echoing in the intimate air of the temple. Xildara pondered the question, silently staring about once more, still taking in the opulent surroundings. She looked at herself and felt very much out of place next to the pristine décor. Her hair and clothes were still filthy, and she knew that she must have smelled awful. Sheepishly Xildara gathers the hem of her dress and wrings it in her soiled hands. “I suppose I should clean up first—If that’s alright…” The gorgon’s eyes drift to the floor in abashment. Eirene’s approval didn’t seem to be needed as two lithe and lovely young women, fresh-faced, and poised, emerge from the silk curtains that were hung to obscure sight into the deeper chambers of the temple. Soft eyes and soft skinned, they didn’t even need further instruction and simply ushered Xildara away with gentles touches. Xildara was reluctantly tugged along, shooting unsure glances at Eirene who simply kept her composed and warm nature. There was nothing else Xildara could do as her free will was slowly wrapped about the pinkies of the cooing attendants. “Hello, You’re new! My name is Nelly, and this is Astra.” A dark-haired attendant took up Xildara’s arm, comfortably cupping Xil’s palm in her own. She motioned politely to her cohort, a stunning blonde with amber eyes. She had a serene air about her and smiled graciously at Xildara. “She doesn’t talk much—poor thing’s a mute…” Nelly leaned in and whispered as if sharing an intimate secret. Astra didn’t seem to mind and let out a small silent chuckle, before taking the lead and motioning them through another veiled corridor strewn with silky drapes. Xildara could already feel the humidity in the air change as the entered a misty part of the building. They led her into a room full of mosaic tiles that reflected like gems embedded into the very floors and walls. The bath at its center mimic the designs but its tiles carry an emerald luster. Several mirrors segment the room, their full size creating an optical illusion and giving it a more spacious atmosphere. “Now—let’s get you out of those muddy clothes. Astra and I will fill the bath, and fetch you some new garments, yes?” Nelly cooed, and herded Xildara nearer to the tub. “—Don’t worry, we won’t peek.” The youthful attendant winked, poking a bit of fun at Xildara’s apprehensive demeanor. With that, they left her to disrobe, taking turns filling the tub with steaming water infused with flower petals and essential oils. Xildara had found a cloth to wrap herself in, in order to preserve her modesty, and waited patiently as the girls worked. Before long the bath was set, and the attendants set to work coaxing Xildara into the tub. Helping her sit and gently reassuring her as they reclaimed the sheet and dunked her naked form into the waters. The Gorgon had to admit, it felt wonderful. She slipped back into the steaming pool, submerging completely and letting the warmth heat her clammy skin. At one point the attendants nearly panicked when Xildara did not surface after several minutes and began feeling around for her under the water. Xildara popped up shortly after, forgetting that a normal humans wouldn’t be able to hold their breath that long, but Xil’s reptilian blood allowed her to be submerged for much longer periods. The two attendants sighed in relief and laughed, thinking the woman had played a trick on them. Xildara blushed but played along, allowing them to finish their work. It was all very awkward for the gorgon who was unused to intimate touch but did her best to remain still as they scrubbed the dirt away and untangled the long strands of her silver hair. “Well, aren’t you as lovely as a new gold coin–and this hair, like moonbeams. To think it was hidden under all that grime.” Nelly tapped Xildara’s nose lightly, as if scolding her, and then smiled once more. “Feel free to soak a bit. The water is still hot, and I’m sure your meal will be ready soon. Take your time and pull that chain when you’re ready to go.” She explained gently, before leaving the room with her companion attendant. Silence filled the room, and Xildara suddenly felt lonely without the girls’ sunny dispositions. It was nice being cared for, it made Xildara feel warm inside. Though perhaps it was just the hot water soaking into her bones. She loomed at the center of the tub, her head bobbing just above the water. She stared around thinking of the cold nights she had spent on bare forest floors, and wondered if after some time of getting used to this type of treatment, would she forget those nights? Her head was swimming, her heart torn. She still wasn’t sure about this place, even after meeting so many smiling faces, it was hard for her to relax. Glancing at herself in the mirror, Xildara admired the work the girls had put into scrubbing her clean. Milky white skin and a translucent mane of silver hair. She almost couldn’t recognize herself with out the smudges of dirt on her cheeks and nose--her hair untangled for the first time in months. A contented sigh escaped her lips, and for a fleeting moment Xildara smiled genuinely into the mirror pleased with her cleansing. Though the moment didn’t last long. Something heavy and foreboding entered the room. Xildara could not sense it fully but could feel the pressure of a familiar presence. The pace of her heart hastens so quickly its pounding flooded her ears, drowning out everything around her. Her gaze was forcefully transfixed to the tall mirror as it flashed violently like the crackling of lightening. Her image washed away by a bright light that faded into stark shadows. At first the forms were perplexing. Odd shapes twisted into wrong angles and basked in a malachite glow. She panics, winces, and struggles to look away but her body would not heed her desperate commands. Slowly the shapes take fuller form, becoming recognizable silhouettes. She was suddenly back on the hill, but it was all wrong, the sky, the grass—everything were shades of darkened gray. The night sky was devoid of clouds, and at it center a ring of stars, branching like a constellation looming over head. What was happening? Why was she here? Her mind swirled but refocused as she turned and caught sight of something huddled in the grass. A black mass lay splayed against tufts of deep gray blades. Xildara is compelled to approach—to examine it. Though she is apprehensive, she finds her hands moving without her meaning to. Grasping a hold of it and tugging it over, she gasps and falls back as the familiar face of Constans meets her, but like everything else here, the expression on his face is wrong. His eyes are lifeless and cold, and mouth lightly agape as if his last breath had escaped him. Xildara’s heart wretches and she shakes him fruitlessly. “Constans?! No! nonononono—” She began to weep, pulling her hands to her face, but stopping abruptly as she noticed bright red blood on her hands. “NO!!” She shouts as if rebuking this horrible nightmare. The sound of shattering breaks her from her dream state. Blinking, she sees that the mirror in front of her has splintered and cracked. Confused, she must compose herself, trying to remember what had happened, but a throbbing in her hand takes her focus. Her hand is gashed, though she never even touched the mirror. Completely befuddled and shaken from the event, Xildara gathers the robes the attendants left her, and tugs the chain Nelly had indicated earlier. A chorus of bells summons the girls once more, who enter with cheerful refrain, but halt in their tracks the moment they spot the broken mirror, and Xildara’s bleeding hand. “Oh my! Aren’t we clumsy?” Nelly makes a quick excuse but sends a worried glanced over to Astra, who can’t contain the shocked look of concern on her face. “We’ll get that patched up—you must be famished.” The senior attendant seems smart enough not to pry, especially with someone who looks as mentally fragile as Xildara does. She does however inform Eirene of the incident as Astra prepares a place for Xildara’s meal. @vielle
  13. "It was Constans who offered me that kindness-- Truth be told I'm still very new to town. I hardly know anyone but the priest." She shrank a little and coiled a tress of hair about her finger sheepishly. She had been hiding in his basement all this time like a coward. It had to be Mateja's sixth sense that had brought her into town on the very day Xildara had been brave enough to venture out. Even more so, she had shown up just when the demi-gorgon was having her doubts. --But the woman was right, they had all the time in the world now, they could finally catch up. Xildara was excited to hear Mateja's stories of her travels. She cast a forlorn gaze onto the scar on her side. The pale line of flesh bringing back memories of the hunter's flashing swords, and hails of arrows as they escaped the tunnels. Certainly this woman had seen more action in her life time; the thought of Mateja's fearlessness bore a seed of courage into Xildara's own soul. How she wished she could go on adventures just like her--and maybe she would. One day. Xildara nodded, accepting Mateja's honest answer to her question, and listened to the woman's reason for arriving. Apparently Constans was more re-known than Xildara had realized. Of course it wasn't like the forest animals discussed the on-goings of townsfolk on the daily. She had never even heard of the 'miracles' until coming to the town itself, but people were obviously flocking here for a reason. It made her more curious about the priest, bringing a warm sensation to her cheeks as she contemplated his mystery. Mateja's presence drew her from her thoughts, and she remembered they were on their way to the church now. "--Well I suppose you should talk to the man himself if you intend to get any solid answers..." Xildara smiled earnestly and shrugged her shoulders, somewhat abashed and regretful she hadn't been more upfront with Teha in the first place. "Shall we?" Xildara nodded towards the structure at the top of the hill, and led the way. The bones of the church stood faithfully on the precipice of the hill, and from the top, the entire village could be seen. Xildara took a moment to let the sweet breeze sweep through the threads of her hair; breathing in the taste of freedom. It felt different with her old friend there. Like things were finally starting to feel real. Locking eyes with the nomad, and smiling as if proud of the view Xildara dipped her head, leaving Teha to enjoy the view while she bounced over to the tall wooden doors of the ruined church and tugged them open enthusiastically. @ianthine @KittyvonCupcake
  14. stones left unturned; [ the darkness beneath, chapter 1 ] “Oh I-I’m fine” Xildara reassured the frazzled priestess as she fixed herself, remarking on the surprise the two newcomers had given them. “They were, ah—unique?” The young woman chuckles finding amusement in the priestess’ own confusion over the matter. It did make Xil wonder what their business with Constans had been. It obviously had been important with the way the elven woman fumed over his absence, –and then there was the curt departure of the orc. What had been his intentions in the matter? The mystery would remain unsolved for now. Eirene mentioned making it a part of their quest—but for now their focus was to find the temple of the priestesses. At Eirene’s question Xildara nodded firmly and confidently and straggled behind her as the priestess made her way out of the ruined church grounds. Xildara had to blink a few times as they emerged from the solemn darkness of the church’s cellar, but it was a welcomed change in venue. She had only seen the top of the hill at night. It had been quiet then, not a bird in the sky. Only heavy thick clouds rolling over head, masking the moon in their wispy presence. The village had been quiet, and still—only flickering candles in the windows to mark the home of each family nestled within. Now the village was fully awake, and the narrow streets were clogged with the bustling forms of farmers and merchants, and tradesmen all hard at work. Plenty of smiling faces, it was a small enough community that everyone seemed to be familiar with each other. As she and the priestess took to foot and wove through the crowds, Xildara did her best to stay close, only venturing glances here and there. Her eyes almost always met a warm gaze in return, and each villager was kind enough to acknowledge them with a polite ‘hello,’ as they went. Most stopped to properly greet the matron of the duo, stopping to address Eirene as her proper title. Xildara nervously untangled some of her hair as a nervous habit. There was a certain protocol almost everyone here inherently abided by. It all made Xildara immensely curious as to what the entire village was like. Surely not everyone here was as warm, or devoted as these simple folks? Still it made her heart swell with hope. It wasn’t long before a structure in the distance caught her eye. It was built with finer craftsmanship then the surrounding buildings, and the doors that adorned the front were opulent and carved with embellishments that resembled serpents. Was this the temple Eirene spoke of? @vielle
  15. Taking a small pause to catch my breath,  posts may be slightly delayed-- 

    1. vielle


      no worries; take all the time you need, my friend! ❤

    2. Witches Brew

      Witches Brew

      I love you! Take all the time you need, love!

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