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Fallen Joy

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  1. “I am here…” Her voice, soft and delicate, oscillated with the faintest whispers of fatigue. If the Matriarch had been blessed with sight, she would have imagined the gentle tears of cherry blossoms after the calm of a storm. So withstanding and resilient to the torrid slaps of wind and water, but then taken by a breeze that comes and drags its worn pedals to the ground. The Matriarch, feeling like the breeze, curls her fingers into a tight fist and half turns her body from the door. She’d be sated to just leave the doorstep empty, every ounce of her desired it, but thoughts of the dragon terrorizing her home nailed her to the spot. Why did Luna keep such a time bomb so close? For the first time, she was very frustrated with their leader. So instead she lingers there with a deep frown creasing her face until Namiko opens the door. She heard the door creep open and canted up, searching through her fatigued and darkened vision for the glimmering threads of her sister’s arcane energy. Seeing the dim flicker twisted the guilty knife in her heart a tad more. She signed blatantly, but then offered a soft carmine smile. The seductively eloquent waterfall of thin fabric upon Namiko’s curvaceous silhouette, while as mesmerizing as galaxies draped around a goddess, was lost in Matriarch’s blindness. “Greetings my sister,” she said gently and pleasantly. “May I step inside?” The hound at her ankle whined slightly when her snowy hand heeled it to the spot before the witch stepped into the room with Namiko’s permission. “You’ve been asleep for three days.” She said, turning her head around the room despite not seeing the detail. “How do you feel?” Half knowing the answer, she only asked perhaps in hope to soften her own self inflicted blows. “I hope you’ve settled well here. Luna is working on a pasture in the newly green outfields for your farm animals. I think the horses would prefer the greater roaming space. We just need to make sure the dragons know they are not to be eaten.” She chuckled lightly and uncomfortably, rubbing a hand through her long strands. She was stalling. “Speaking of…” she sighed again. “Speaking of dragons. There is…something I need to ask of you, sister. I know you’re still resting but I cannot locate our other sisters at the time and…It is of great importance. You’re all I can ask for help.”
  2. Her claws kneaded at the air in anticipation, drool pooling on the inside of her bottom lip. She lapped at her tusks, tightened her thighs, and allowed her pupils to dilate over the sight of Alexandria curling her fingers away into a fist. She felt the invisible chains of obedience loosen, her body washed clean of burden. All that was left was the exhilarated aggression purring within her like a gleeful monster. The oscillations filled her with heat, perhaps the purr was her racing heart. The moment witch’s golden armor clinked on the edge of her own body, she set Natasha off like a gunshot on a track field. She rushed towards that bush, no longer bothering to lap at the ravenous salivation glimmering around the bases of her tusk. But then the vampire pulled a move straight from the book of Houdini and vanished from the spot as quick as a candle flame to the breath. The orc was inept in the manners of the arcane but she had been around it long enough to recognize hoodoo when she saw it. She stopped short of the bush, pissed. “Scurrying rat,” she snarled, rubbing her forearm against her wet lips and standing straight. Her crimson eyes darted through the darkness and her nostrils flared with deep breaths, but the undead critter seemed to used his magic to also hide both his scent and sound along with sight. She popped her neck muscles with vexation, veins building so heavily that they seemed on the brink of bursting. How she hated cowards. "Such trivial things hold little value. Not unless, we're both searching for the same clue. I'm here on the behalf of a witch named Luna. My name and such is rather irrelevant." Natasha gradually closed her eyes, exhaled, and then opened them again. “Fuck.” She muttered. The moment the vampire said Luna’s name, she knew Alexandria would potentially be a lot more interested in talking. Worst case scenario, the orc would have to tolerate the vampire’s presence significantly longer. Even rely on him to find Luna. “Fuck.” She said again. Keeping aware of her surroundings, she took her place beside Alexandria. This was no longer her game. Alexandria would take lead. Natasha supposed that was fine. She hated the game of cat and mouse anyways.
  3. Up the mountain, they went. Snow soon curtained the paved roads, and the powdered forestry and palisades gradually daunted the buildings until nothing but nature surrounded them. A few hours into the journey, Cecilia glanced from atop of Rye and saw that the smalltown homes were naught but dollhouses in the distance. Winds thrived at the higher elevation, flurries seducing bumps to rise on the princess’ exposed cheeks. She touched her cold yet rosy jowls with her glove, cupping some warmth into them. The afternoon Sun fought temperature with its bright rays, and she appreciated the moments they kissed her face. Thankfully the clouds were scarce and a newfound snowfall seemed far away. Rye and Dhin guided them easily through the mountain paths, barely needing orders from their passengers. Rye was a joyous younger buck, who occasionally leaped unexpectedly over snow mounds and debris. Cecilia loved it. She was an established rider, and despite knowing the length of their journey, she couldn't help but test the speed of her companion. “Hut, hut!” She shouted, seven hours into their journey. Waves of snow burst from around Rye's body, the duo practically skiing down the slope of a hillside. “Weave left!” She shouted, Rye responding with a perfect leap to the side as broken bough threatened to obscure their dangerously fast stride. Her fingers curled into the thick scruff the beast, abandoning the reigns long ago. She felt his muscles tense and oscillate under her fingertips, feverish energy from its deep breath and drumming heart flowing into her through mystical ties only a tamer could comprehend. The ronekee’s eyes dilated wide as the end of the slope approached, terminated by a shallow 3 meter gorge in the mountainside. They breathed together, excitement flowing from their lips, and rushing through dilated vessels. The tromping sounds and heated aura encased Princess’s spirit. Her hands clenched tighter, kneading bravado against the animal’s instincts to stop. Between her and the ronekee, Kimi climbed her way up the scruff, furring flailing in the gusts between Rye’s horns. She too seemed exhilarated with passion. “Be one with the skies!” She yelled. Unbeknownst, her fingers began to envelop with a miraculous light. The wolf hide danced in rhythms separately from the rushing zephyr. “Fly!” Rye planted its hooves at the edge of the gorge with near perfection, the obsidian keratin of its feet and irises of its orbits suddenly blessed with light. He sprang into the air with a great bellow. Kimi and Cecilia too released cries into the welcoming sky. Their voices, howling in the free atmosphere around them, produced an oscillation that seemed to further empower his leap. Gravity bowed their symphony, for not only did the ronekee leap far, but it also sailed higher into the skies than it should. Behind them, a faint trail of gold illuminated rained from the hooves of the steed, the flight lasting a whole five seconds before they descended into the powdery snow below. The ronekee landed in a flurry of white, the accelerated landing causing the princess to slip off and tumbled into the trough of snow. She sat up laughed, running a hand through the newfound flakes in her hair. Her body felt so hot that she welcomed the ice melting down her neck. Kimi shook from snow off her body and leaped onto the princess’s shoulders. Rye stood up and gave a frivolous headshake before walking over. He breathed deep and heavy, pressing his muzzle against her cheek. She placed a hand on them both, petting affectionately. “Everyone have fun?” She said between her giggles and pants. “Let’s catch our breath and wait for Tyveres to catch up.” When Tyveres caught up to them ( the gorge easily maneuvered around), the princess was sitting on a large boulder, a bag of oats open beside her, in which Rye was eating from. She offered Ty a sheepish look with a hunch of her shoulders. “I know what you’re going to say,” she began. “But I simply couldn’t help myself.” She looked back at Rye, rubbing her fingers along his great ivory horns. “He reminds me of my Suujali from the desert. His name was Zyphen, I raised him from a pup. We would take long strides through the Wastelands on the nights of a full moon. We’d even sing to the skies together. The light of the sky always seems to brighten when we sang." She signed in content with the memory. "Ah, he was a young adolescent beast, full of wild energy like Rye here.” Her hand then fell from the steed and into her lap, the joy from her memory soon beaten the cruel reality. “...Did I tell you how I was captured?” She closed her eyes and reflected. “It was my 18th birthday three months ago, my father let me leave Fracture and explore as a celebration of my coming of age. Well…” She opened her eyes and frowned an inch deeper. “At least that’s what I thought. It's possibly because of the rising tensions in the kingdom." She sighed. "Anyway, I took the Suujali with me. We rehearsed for a dance performance in Genesaris. I hired a caravan of musicians. It was such a beautiful performance.” She smiled sadly as she remembered the thrill she felt upon the stage. “The audience adored it, and I never felt so free.” Her oceanic irises became sullen with further reflection. “But those in the rebellion used my Suujali to kidnap me. They attacked him on the stage and triggered a violent rampage. I was struck and fractured my rib.” She placed her hand to her side. “They took me then. Even my bodyguard, Jaylen, couldn't stop them in the chaos. I woke up bound and gagged on the back of a horse. The pain was...so excoriating. I couldn’t even fathom breathing.” A visible shiver spread through her, remembering the weeks that followed. “And I still don’t know what happened to Jaylen or Zyphen...” Rye suddenly nudged her face. She smiled softly and stroked him. “I just hope they're still alive.”
  4. The princess, allured by the thousand warm droplets kissing her body and ears seduced by the serenade of rain between rivulets of water, didn't notice Tyveres' departure. Nor is she aware of his temporary absence when she exits the bathroom. Upon the bed, she absently-minding continues to hum a gentle tune, caressing her soft cheeks with the microfibers of the damp towel. Her sapphire hues glide under the length of her ebony lashes. As her melodic voice waves through the air, she does not notice how the cadence of Kimi's purr synchronizes with the tune. White tendrils of the fur waver and dance like a savanna swimming to life in the zephyr, beyond her knowledge. Serenity encumbers her body, burdens melting away like ice in the breath of spring. The damp towel slips from the sudden fragile grasp of her fingers, and she is more content caressing the bend of her neck and collarbone with her nude fingers. The towel upon her body loosens, descends like a fallen curtain to rest on the crest of her breasts, clinging barely to the subtle friction of the droplets. It serves to conceal her modesty as her body lays to its side in the bed. A lone finger still manages to stroke the sensitive tuffs of fur between Kimi's whiskers, and as the kit swoons her touch, a smoothing sensation spreads across her own cheeks like the brush of silk. She cannot describe this plush of pleasure embracing her body, but it is a lullaby to her thoughts. Soon she slumbers in the bed, body curled around the wolf coat, and Kimi nestled in the space between her folded thighs and descending breasts. As Tyveres picks her petite body up, her fingers unconsciously cling to the coat for a brief moment for releasing it. She moans quietly as her mind dances between dreams and reality, fingers touching the wet skin of his exposed chest and lips resting upon the tightened skin. She slips into his positioning of her body like a vulnerable and delicate doll underneath the blankets. Her towel, lightly knotted against her axilla, manages to stay on her body. "I will keep you safe," he whispers. Her eyes flutter open for a half moment, cheeks flushing with soft pedals of crimson. Even in sleep, the woman's heart flutters into a brief race at the gentle tone of his voice. . . . . "Take care, lass," The captain whispers into the raven locks of the princess. She hugs him close, fighting the tears in her eyes. Cecilia did not know the captain long, but he saved her life and made her feel as secure as any daughter in a father's arms. "Remember all that I told, ye." "I will. Thank you for everything." The princess insisted on seeing him off on the docks. She stood there in the crisp morning with her coat, watching as he sailed past the drifting ice. Meanwhile, Tyveres gathered supplies for the journey ahead of them. When he went to get the horses, she traveled with him. To her absolute delight, the "horses" the villages utilized weren't horses at all. They resembled reindeer, covered head to toe with thick silvery fur, and adorning branching ivory horns. They were built as beasts of burden, bulked with muscle easily capable of supporting a person and gear. Cecilia's eyes were brightened with wonder at their mystical grace, dense mist flowing from their nostrils as they nibbled at the piles of golden hay. She approached one of the stalls, leaning over the gate for a closer look. The creature lifted its head from the feed and approached the princess, eyes wide with an innocent obsidian gaze. It exhaled long into her face, brushing back her bangs and making her giggle. She placed her hand upon its great muzzle and ran it long to his forehead. "They're native animals to the mountains," said a young stable girl, watching the princess' interaction from a corner in the stable. She was no older than sixteen, freckled across the nose with fiery red hair. She stood as high as Cecilia's shoulders. "We call them ronekee. This one seems to really like you. His name is Kye. I'm Sara. I work these stables with my gramps." Sara handed Cecilia some oats to feed Rye before addressing Tyveres. "You're the bloke with the money, I reckon. Fancy some bucks to take ye through the mountain? All the travelers that land in this cold do. I have a couple that'll take you through the mountains for ten pieces of gold. We have another village on the other side of the mountain near the Wastelands. Ya'll need to return them there. These ain't cheap to tame, and are the best you can ask for in those mountains. They'll keep ya from getting lost and protect ya too. They won't trek into the Wastelands so dun bother tryna steal them." The princess found Sara's spunk adorable and entertaining. She giggled softly under her hand. "We understand. Thank you for lending your steeds to us." When Tyveres paid for the steeds, Cecilia took Kye out of the stable. She climbed onto its back with ease. The ronekee tossed its scruffy mane and tread back and forth on the spot before settling. Cecilia was reminded of her Sujaali; a sense of sadness spread over her. What happened to her companion after she was captured? Was he still alive and wandering across the wastelands? Perhaps her guard found him and took him home to safety. Maybe he was dead... She looked beyond the enormous horns, and to the mountains. They seemed so endless. The road was white from the evening fall of snow, compact into a canvas of foot and hoof prints. Her coat kept her very warm, but she could see it failing in the dark sunless nights. She leaned into the neck of Rye; he was unbelievably warm. His deep breaths comforted her, calm and unafraid of the journey. She smiled—everything would be okay. "Ya'll ready?" Sara asked as she tied a sack of oats to the hindquarters of Cici and Tyveres' steeds. "This'll feed the bucks for about a week. You get them across the mountains by then."
  5. The vampire's confidence in his security and stealth at the end of his escape was deadly misplaced. He assumed the orc clumsy and incapable of pursuing him. In truth, most of the Tyrvtol clan were just that; densely packed muscle salted with instinct and caramelized with asinine impulse. Natasha was in a whole other class of orc, blessed with a rivulet of intelligence that provided a deadly finesse to her brawn. It would all be paved into motion when she landed. Several things had to occur for the vampire to be where was, as fast as he did. Visually the vampire disappeared moments before the orc landed. Still, his abrupt acceleration had no choice but to leave his loafer imprints within the soft soil, glided mildly against the direction of his launching force. Then her locks lifted in the rapid gust of air perfumed with his minty scent. Her mind calculated the power and direction of the wind, his fading scent, and the marks before her. They all flipped through her mind like the pages of a book, whispering secrets of the future through sheer prediction. In other words, the bloodthirsty huntress knew where the vampire would be even before he landed, and didn't need her vision. She detached her blades from the earth, which temporarily sealed her against his wind, and was immediately on his tail. Natasha didn't move at such high speeds, but she wouldn't need to. The vampire managed to sprint over thirty feet in a densely tree populated forest, where the witch and the orc were literally cleaving their way through the understory. This would require him to rapidly stop and alter his direction, simply to avoid a collision. Each stop and turn left a mark, something for her to quickly and easily follow. Thus by the time he finished his escape, hiding in the shrubs and blinded by his own reliance (not to mention the forest density itself) that the orc was still grounded on her spot, those crimson orbits were actually flicking like ravenous flames just beyond the next two trees over. He reminded her of a scurrying mouse fleeing an owl in the night. Oh how she wanted to plant her talons in his flesh. Martis stirred energy to taunt her mind, but Natasha was a leap away from sinking her blades into his. However, she was instead stagnant and unmoving. Her predatory eyes were wild and dilated, tusks grinding upon each other, and quakes of tension rolling in waves down her hard body. The reason for her stillness was Alexandria, who appeared nearby and froze her with a single motion of her hand. "You almost had me there, if it weren't for all the noise made. What a clumsy Orc, you are." The orc stared damn near rebelliously at the witch, but her obedience could not be thwarted by her excitement to slay the vampire. She inhales deep, trapping the violence into her chest, and grinned gradually at the vampire. "Weak, scavenging rodents scurry in dark and attack the blind. I prefer my prey fight, and see look in my eyes before I rip head off shoulders. You run and crouch in bushes like frightened rat." Her head canted slightly to the side, her sadist grin rising. "On your word," she says to Alexandria. "I will tear out his arrogant tongue and feed it to the trees."
  6. Natasha listened intently to the pearl serpent as if its sibilant syntax spilled from the lips of Alexandria herself. When he finished, she placed her claws to her chin in tapping contemplation, ignoring how the blades of the gauntlet nearly sheared her locks. "And here I thought," she says with a sly grin, "It was secret. "So… Magic is like orc anger. Must be fed or becomes explosion." She empathizes this feeling well. Her vicious, barbaric temperament was a voracious beast within her core. It growled and coiled with tautness by the second, only fed by the fiery sensations of battle. If she didn't sate it, many brethren were killed or maimed from her lust alone. "I understand." With the action ended, the eerie silence of the Dark Forest was rekindled. Outside of their own crunch and rustle through the willowwacks, nothing shielded the noises outside their unmistakable cadence. The vampire stalker appeared stealthily unnoticed by the two at first, because they seemed to tread forward as oblivious silhouettes. Yet, unbeknownst to him, there was a whispered conversation between them. "It took a moment to separate the stench from the dragon corpse, but now I'm sure," the orc muttered with a dangerous undertone. "We are followed." Her sinews tighten firmly, an angry snarl oscillating through her lower plethoric lip. Fingers curled into crushing fists over her gauntlets, and adrenaline ignited flames began to cascade the coals of her fury. Cowards, like the fleeing druid, took the crown her vexations, but right underneath were the creepers lurking in the darkness for vulnerable opportunities. While Natasha wasn't an honorable nor virtuous warrior, she had values on the commencement of battle. It should always be looking into your opponent's eyes, intrepid, and enthralled for the bloody brawl. "If I may…" she began, expecting Alexandria to understand her request. Upon Alexandria's word, something instantly changed. The witch and orc passed through a particularly obscuring and dead understory, their silhouettes curtained then revived on the other side. Except now, it was only Alexandria's that remained. The thump of something heavy landing upon a nearby tree would give Martis his only warning. If he tracked the sound quick enough, he'd see the brief moment of the orc crouched upon the wailing bend of a branch just above him. Her metallic boots were planted on the wood, thighs loaded, and crimson eyes dilated into vast abysses of primal bloodlust. This demonic imagery, saturated with malevolent intent, lasted for as long as a blink before those loaded thighs sprung lose. Natasha shot down upon the vampire like a hawk from the skies. His undead nature hopefully granted him the reflexes to dodge, for if he didn't, he'd be met with the she-orc's gauntlets thrust so deeply into his cranial and chest cavities that he'd tear into two gruesome pieces of undead flesh; she'd rip his head clear from his shoulders if her blades met their mark. The most likely result was that Martis found a way out of death's reach and Natasha's blades instead collided with the soft moist earth. She lifted her head to his new position, tension rolling in waves from her body, instantly ready to strike again. If he didn't explain himself immediately, he'd be treated like every other creature they'd encountered in this forest—a threat to be slain. And Natasha didn't ask questions.
  7. Cecilia was in the middle of unzipping her leather vest when Tyveres’ voice came through the door, a curious look coming about her face. She looked towards the closed door, feeling her breasts spring from their prison as she shook off the vest from her shoulders. “From a clothing shop in town,” she said, running her hands down her newly freed flesh. The warm, placid air felt fantastic, and she couldn’t wait to feel the warm shower caress her nudity. She sat on the edge of the tub, reaching down to remove her pants as she further explained. “It didn’t cost anything, actually. There was this older woman there. She told me it came from a wolf of sorts that roamed the mountains.” “Did it… resonate with you?” “Interesting that you ask,” she dropped the last legging of her pants to the ground. Causally, she ran the side of her foot down her newly nude calf. “When I first touched it, a gold ripple went through the coat. Like…” She paused to consider it. “...A rock tossed in a pool of water. It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” She rubbed her thighs, feeling the filth of the sea life rolling underneath her fingertips. The weak pressured shower with little to no soap failed to thoroughly clean the grime from her skin. There was a time her skin was so lavished and worshiped by exotic perfumes and remedies that it resembled the smoothest of buttermilk, tinted by golden honey hues. Now the sun had tanned her into a light bronze with the faintest amber; the smoothness roughened by the finest hairs left unchecked. Her fingers drifted down the sides of her legs and gripped the edge of the tub. “There was a legend upon the locals. That the wolf sang so beautifully that the auras of the sky danced to her howl. I told her I couldn’t afford a magical coat, but she insisted that I kept it as a gift.” Every ounce of her body tingling to be cleaned, the princess reached over to the faucet and turned on the water. She let a hand rest under the stream and closed her eyes with an exhale of satisfaction. It felt soft yet crisp, freshly thawed from the glaciers. If Tyveres had spoken more, she missed it. She pulled the diverter and was seduced by the sound of the shower. Moments later, she was soaking in it. It felt amazing. The princess selfishly and unashamedly took the entirety of an hour within the shower. She cleaned every part of her body first, massaging the soap into her skin with her own fingers. She realized how sore her muscles were from the training; knots were in her shoulder blades and thighs. She didn’t know the full extent of her tension until it melted away. The water ran a tan color nit combed through her dirty tresses but was soon clear with suds. She even sat down and just emptied her mind to the sound of the rivulets splashing upon her face. She wished she could stay there forever. After she washed, she cleaned her clothing and left it to dry in the bathroom. When she left the restroom, she was wrapped in a thin towel upon her head and around her body. “There’s still warm water,” she assured. “I lost track of time.” She walked over to the bedside and sat down, crossing her ankles. If the kit fox was still curled up in the blanket, she reached over and stroked her index finger along the crown of its furry head and down one of the sensitive whiskered cheeks before scratching under the chin. “Like the way the fur feels too?” She smiled widely. Remembering their prior conversation, she looked back at Tyveres. “Hey, why were you asking about the coat?” She released her hair from the towel as she awaited his response, shaking her shoulder-length locks lightly. She rubbed the cloth against the dew droplets upon her cheeks. Mint aromas drifted around her; the inn used it to scent the soap. Even as she listened to him, she closed her eyes with a soft, humming moan under her breath—the refreshing sensations lovely.
  8. The princess offered the captain a soft and polite smile to his kind words. The old sea-dog had been nothing but encouraging and helpful since their meeting. It felt fatherly to her, and that almost deepened her sorrow. Her thoughts lingered on the threads of her past, spindling her harsh quilt of the present. Her father had never been unkind, despite his distance. He seemed to treasure her deeply due to her likeness to her mother. There were times, the princess recalled that the king seemed on the verge of tears when he stared at her. She always considered her father wounded, but did his despair truly drive him to such unspeakable crimes against the kingdom? Or had the evil only aged in his heart? Her mother gave her very life to protect the kingdom, how could he effortlessly shame her mother's sacrifice so? Did she, too, possess such evil somewhere inside her? So much doubt… Cecilia churned her spoon through the fishy stew, the wisps of steam warming the bitter frost upon her cheeks. Tyveres remained silent; she could only guess he agreed with her thoughts. There was a fragment of disappointment, but in her dismal state, Cecilia wholly accepted it. Placing her hands underneath the bowl, she drank the remaining broth, grateful for the warmth it bought to her shivering heart. … The world became colder, thick with gray as they sailed through the miniature glaciers adorning the Shawnee Sea. The weather bit hard at her cheeks with cold, yet burned the tips of her fingertips. Thankfully the wind was light. Never in her life had she experienced snow or white winters. The Wastelands were blistering with unforgiving heat all year long. The leather on her body felt stiffened from the temperature, and every breath escaped in a cloud of white. Her clan would take caravans to the borderlines of the Wastelands that hugged the Glaciers, gathering water from the manifested lakes in the region. She ventured with them once and got a peek of the imposing palisades of ice, but looking upon the landscape on the diametrical ends—the wonderland seemed endless and majestic. "It's so cold," she whispered in a cascade of white. Suddenly a rough hand was on her shoulder, and the captain was beside her. "C'mon lass, let's get you some skins before you settle in for the night. I've saved some exotic fish from the journey, and a piece of the surpous' shell. Bet I can trade them for some good cloth." The princess smiled gratefully at the captain, giving Tyveres a nod before walking off towards an icicle decorated store in the distance. Within were various arrays of fur thick fur coats, outfits, and boots from the tenacious native fauna. The princess strode through the store, running her fingers along the displays of skins and imagining the warmth they would provide. "Pick whatever suits you, lass. I'll haggle it into yer arms!" Humbled by her recent experiences, she merely reached for the nearest fur of her size. Suddenly a flash of white obscured her hand. It was a pure snow fur that practically shimmered into a silvery sheen under the candle lights of the edifice. Underneath the great spread was a small elderly woman. "This one," she crooned in her withered ancient voice. The princess glanced curiously at the woman and then slid her eyes to the coat. It was indeed beautiful, like fresh powdery snow on a moonlit night. She kissed the silk tendrils with her fingers, and upon contact, a brilliance of gold blossomed and spreading like a ripple of water throughout the coat. She gasped. "This was once the hide of a great winter wolf." The old woman said. "She roamed the glacier peaks of Shawnee, howling to the arcane auras of the skies. The melody was so beautiful that we believe the auras began to dance to her song, so in a symphony of light and sound. The moment you came in, it called to you. You must take it." "I…can't afford a magical coat." "It is yours to have. It cannot belong to anyone else." The woman pushed the fur into the princess' arms, and she instinctively embraced it. It was so warm and soft, smelled of pine. The captain scratched his head uncomfortably. "I know yet tryna push a sell, lady, but the lass is right. We cannot afford any magical—." "It is not to sell." She waves her hand at the captain. "It has never been to sell. It is to give only. Has been for thirty-seven years." The princess placed a hand to her lips. "You mean…" "It is a gift, princess." The word threw like a slap, and the princess stepped away from her as if on high alert. The elderly woman stared at her for a moment, moisture twinkling within her clouded eyes, but then she smiled. "Ah, forgive me. Anyone who wears this skin is a princess." Cecilia did not say anything for a moment, staring intently at the woman. But then she allowed the relief to pass through her. She stroked the silvery sheen. "Thank you." She returned to Tyveres in a beautiful snowy shawl. It was sewn to hug her arms and curtain her waistline to her hips. It had a hood that framed her face, the ears of the lupine beast still present and resting upon her crown. She also wore new fur skinned boots and gloves, courtesy of the captain are trading skills. The wintry bite of the glacier was now a gentle nibble on her skin. Her fingers were no longer numb, hard, or painfully crimson. Warm and comfortable, the princess embraced her body and began to appreciate the miraculous colors of the dusk on the horizon. At the inn, the princess waved goodnight to the captain. She knew tomorrow he would be setting sail back to Fracture. It would be their last night together. "Can I trust you won't run off this time?" She instantly blushed. "W-what? No, no, of course I lear—" She paused, catching the grin on his face. Her blushes deepened for a moment before she genuinely started to giggle. "Oh, very funny! Well, you better sleep with one eye open, because you never know!" She had felt like crap all day, it was great to laugh. She removed her fur attire and stretched her body. "Mmm, I can't wait to take a shower!" And as she said it, she practically jumped from her boots and tossed her fur clothes on the bed before hurrying to the shower and closing the door behind her. After weeks of showering in a dingy, smelly old boat, this was going to be heaven. The training was apparently very far from her mind.
  9. Natasha watched silently as the crimson witch recovered from her taxing spell. Her claws kneaded into the sweltering gold armor upon her back, mind wondering how the witch survived such vicious consequences. Countless times Alexandria had proven herself a different class of woman from the other witches. Her brutal, intrepid animosity and attraction for tactless destruction fell so easily into the barbaric culture of the Tyrtrol tribe. Natasha's acute awareness of every single sway, action, and motion this particular witch made it impossible to ignore. She dropped her hand as Alexandria gathered her own weight and stood. Then, in perhaps the most seductively cruel way possible, Alexandria set her merciless wrath upon the gremlin druid with a punitive strike of her blade. For the first time, Natasha finds herself feverish. As blood leaks from Alexandria's blade and drips down onto the split corpse, the she-orc could see the sweet satisfaction of revenge in the witches' eyes. The dominant demeanor, accentuated by a confident and vindictive stance was further decorated by the powdered ash of her own destruction. It uncaged Natasha's primal instincts. Suddenly she wanted to ravage that soft fleshy skin flushed carmine by the smoldering air; to expose every possible inch, mark it with her tusks and tongue, grasp it within her claws, and claim it for herself. The she-orcs fingers twitch, and her breath husks heavily between her fangs. The violent licentious thoughts battle her enslavement. For in her world, her uninhibited savage culture, such feelings were enacted immediately. There was no sense of intimacy; it was aggressive, passionate, raunchy, and oh so intensely satisfying. The worse part was that she-orc was very aware of what she would do to this witch if she gave in, it flashed vividly in her mind, but despite this, her enslavement failed to pacify her. She clenched her eyes tightly closed and drove her sharpened fangs into her lip to taste blood. It hurt to control herself. Her locks fell over her shoulders as she bowed her head, digging her claws into the earth. Alexandria was not an orc, despite her tendencies. Furthermore, she was a witch, the hands upon her reigns. The she-orc fought to seal this once more into her mind. Though her mouth salivates with ravenous hunger, and every ounce of her savage mind wants to ignore it, she manages to not act. Oh, but the next creature they see would feel the full wrath of her consequent frustration. "She wants to know if you're okay." She wasn't. "I'm not hurt," she says with internal praise of her own ability to find loopholes to obedient answers. Upon hearing the exact consequence of the spell, the she-orc deeply frowns and comes to a full stand. Natasha stares for a moment, searching for an answer to an unasked question. She crosses her arms and pfts . "Your voice is not needed for battle." She says. "Only for cries of victory." She walked over to the corpse of the gremlin, stomped harshly on its split head, and released a great cry from her own lungs. Her voice rings with the intense and violent pleasure of their triumph and echoes far into the distance. For that moment, the Dark Forest is not silent and creepy, but a place of victory and satisfaction. The sudden flutter of wings sounds around them, startled birds taking to the skies. When she finishes, inhaling deep, the newfound coils in her stomach are loosened. She grins at the witch. "And I can cry victory for us both." She places her hand on Alexandria's shoulder and gives her a firm squeeze. The touch unexpectedly starts to swell her previous feelings, and she quickly releases. She turns away from the witch, rolls and pops the tension in her neck, and then carries on forward through the forest. "Why," she suddenly asks with genuine curiosity. "When so strong in body and fight, why do you use…magic? I don't understand. Does it not feel better to experiencing your enemies' skull crushing underneath fist? Or flesh cut away to sword?" -------------------- Luna's reflection has little to say to Cervantes's intrepid words; he perhaps only gets a flicker of a rising and entertained smile before the image vanishes. He is close to Natasha and Alexandria, so close that the loud piercing war cry of Natasha oscillates easily through his mind and potentially rattles his eardrums like a booming speaker. The roar of the orc was massive and imposing. A newfound smell of charred dragon meat drifted in the wind, affected by Alexandria's recent spell. If he crept long enough to the source of sound and smell, he'd see the charred dragon corpse within the clearing of burnt trees. Just beyond it, Natasha and Alexandria were advancing further into the forest, and behind them, the body of a woodland creature sank into the black earth. It was as the vampire closed in on the general vicinity that Alexandria would perhaps sense something strangely familiar. Like the remnants of a nostalgic perfume, an arcane aroma abruptly drifted between her senses to trigger memories. It was Luna's magic, something she would be very familiar with. Cervantes' blood was a lure to the runes of Luna's mnemonic imprints planted throughout the forest, and they consequently reached out for him. This created a fragile river of Luna's magic between the two, undetectable to most, but well perceived by a coven witch whose soul was bonded to the source. If Cervantes placed himself in a position where this rivulet crossed Alexandria's path, it would be almost impossible for her not to notice it.
  10. Ferrah compressed her forehead against the reticent and silent door. She clenched her eyes shut, frustration rising in her throat. If her torso wasn’t bundled in compact muscle, she’d bet her temper would blast her own throbbing heart from its cavity. She snarled, rose her forehead, and slammed it hard against the tower door. “Is someone there?!” “Ferrah,” came a stern voice behind her. The orc whipped around to see the Matriarch standing at the bottom of the staircase. Beside the witch, an orc hound. Her eyes lacked its usual luster, the mystic glow faded into only clouded corneas of blindness. It was all a consequent of her recent journey and fleets of magic. As if a great weight suddenly slammed upon her shoulders, the orc dropped down to her knees and bowed her head low. Crimson droplets leaked onto the floor, manifesting from the newfound gash on her forehead. She heard the metallic boots of the witch click against the stone steps until she saw the fires of courtyard reflect off their silvery sheen. The orc looked up at the Matriarch, the beautiful woman solemn with cold apathy like elegant porcelain. “Why are you disturbing the tower, Ferrah?” The Matriarch asked in her orc tongue. “My...apologies.” Ferrah murmured, the words feeling like venom on her enslaved tongue. “But the dragon has become angry. She threatens to destroy the fortress. She even killed Jadi.” “For what reason other than her imprisonment does she threatened us?” “Her egg is dying.” “What?” “I haven’t confirmed it myself. But according to Jadi, it is fading. The dragon overheard him say it.” The Matriarch furrowed her brows. The orcs were so tactless and ignorant; of course they discussed such sensitive manners in front of the dragon. This wasn't good. She was too fatigued for this sudden dire development. She wasn't recovered from the last crisis. Her vision still hadn’t returned. She required hounds to guide her throughout the fortress to maintain appearances before the orcs. What was she going to do? “Go to the egg chamber and wait there.” “Until…” “Just wait there, Ferrah.” she snapped. “And don’t do anything without further instruction.” Ferrah narrowed her eyes, but nodded her head and rushed past her down the stairs. The Matriarch approached the tower door and entered. The cool arcane winds of the tower embraced her and she inhaled deep with comfort. Her blind eyes suddenly illuminated as the magic seeped within her. It was only here that she could see. Stepping into the heart of the tower, the witch glanced up at the branches of chamber forking the spiraling stairs. She searched for a sign of one of her sisters. Luna, who was here a mere three days ago was now gone. Alexandria also gone. Clementine and Mowenna not sensed. Like the last time, she felt alone. Wait. There was one. But why her? She had already been through so much. The Matriarch sat near the pool of the waterfall, placing her fingers onto her face and kneading the stress back through her raven locks. “Luna, where are you…” She folded her fingers underneath her chin, leaning forward so her reflection rippled in the gentle flow of the basin. She seemed to stare at the pool, as if waiting for something. She had once heard that Mowenna was visited by Luna through the water, offering her advice and comfort. Her soul called out for their sister, waiting expectantly. The coven's soul felt like chaos, she attributed that to her weakness, and she couldn't discern the dance of soul fragments within. The tower remained tranquil without answers. Almost begrudgingly, the white witch stood several minutes later and walked up the staircase of the tower. She found herself at Namiko’s door, pausing with a deep sigh before her knuckles tapped on the surface. "Sister?” She called out. “Please come to door.”
  11. The moment Alexandria freed the furious she-orc, Natasha set her full wrath upon the tree. Blood boiling and eyes leaking with carmine tinted animosity, the she-orc used her newfound freedom to dig her metallic boots into the earth and load her thighs with tension. Clenching a fist, she viciously punched the knobby end of the branch; it swung like a pendulum, creating a window for her to spring and grasp the thick midsection on the trunk. Clamping her powerful thighs upon the wooden shaft, she then buries the base of her gauntlet blades into the root of a branch. With a violent cry, she thrusts her arm out and severs the whole damn limb and all its children from the tree. The tree thrashes like a wild bull, spurring black blood from it blown gasket, but even the raging Natasha had positioned herself intelligently. No matters how the tree curves and lashes, its more massive boughs could not hit the orc. It had no choice but to whip fiercely at Natasha's half armored and half exposed back with thinner more flexible cords. The pain means nothing to the orc, and the whips barely mark her marble skin. Snarling and cursing furiously at the tree, Natasha goes straight wolverine, cleaving the base of each branch one or two at a time. Like a hand with severed fingers, it gushed wildly with obsidian tree blood, much to Natasha devilish and sadistic pleasure. However, in her venomous storm of violence, Alexandria's situation was temporarily missed. A peripheral toss of crimson hair drew Natasha's attention, the she-orc glancing over her shoulder to see the other tree pinning the witch. Urgency suddenly tossed into her salad of fury, she immediately releases the squirming tree and lands in a newfound puddle of black. The orc rushed towards the witch with tunnel-vision blinding her. An opportunistic root jut forth and easily pulls the same move to her ankle as the other did to Alexandria. Ensnared, she face-plants her into the dirt whilst the blood gushing tree bows its head to crush her. "Natasha, get down!" Already there, the she-orc only covers her face. Through the windows of her forearms, orange and flames flash and flicker, soon spreading a wave of heat down her spine and sides. The root around her ankle instantly releases her. "Noooo! What is the fleshy doing to my treesies!?" The living trees erupted in flames, the black liquid beginning to boil and smolder with a horrid smell of dirtied oil. The moist flesh of the trees seems to absorb the fire, preventing widespread destruction of the forest. They thrashed like living bodies burning alive. "Stop, STOP! AUGH! IT BURNS!!!" Natasha peeked through her arms toward the squealing voice. The magical flames providing sight, she sees the culprit leap from the canopy of a burning tree. With fire on its butt, the creature rolled with wails on the ground, abandoning a curved staff to pat its smoking rear. It was a small, wooden gremlin-like thing, no taller than a foot. The beast finally sat in a pool of liquid, sibilant sounds sizzling underneath its ass. It only had a moment to sigh in relief before Natasha came rushing into his peripheral. The she-orc was practically on all fours like a wild tiger; the creature released a mousy scream and attempted to run, but found its head caught in the bear trap grasp of her hand. Lifting the flailing thing in the air, the only reason the she-orc didn't crush him into the splinters was that her attention turned immediately to Alexandria. The she-orc's tribe lived in a world of volcanic heat for generations with consequent evolutionary changes to their hide. Thus, she was quite unscarred to the flames. The smell of burnt hair told her she had lost some length to her new dreadlocks. The bare black ground smoked at her feet, and the trees' pale bodies turned into ashen white colors before flaking away into nothing. The other trees were darkened, small flames caressing their gnarly surfaces. However, as if the very darkness resisted such obnoxious light, the remaining stragglers of ember died off in the night's breath. "Unhand me filthy fleshy!" struggled and screamed the creature in the orc's hand as she approached the witch. "I releasy the wrathy of my—" The beast paused, realizing in horror that its weapon was still on the ground. "STAFFY! Give me my staffy, give me my staffy, give me my—" Natasha released the creature, but not before punching it right on the noggin on the way down. Glowing orbits now swirling in utter disarray, the thing stumbled drunkenly around them. Natasha placed a hand under and between Alexandria's shoulder blades, lifting her to a sit. "Are you alright?" ……................................ The spiritual sylph lowered her long lashes as the vampire spoke, merely nodding her head once at his conclusion. However, when Cervantes began to venture to the west, the image dissipated and reappeared in his pathway, occluding the progression. Her hand drifted in direction of the rune as she repeated herself, this time slower with a drawl as if making sure he understood her words. "Place a droplet of your blood onto the inscription rune, Martis Cervantes, or the ones deeper in the forest will not activate to your presence. It works through blood magic. If you so choose to proceed without doing so, know that you will not have my further guidance." The implanted memory waited with the same stoic expression upon her countenance. If and when Cervantes complied, her image temporarily brightened its crimson hue and then settled, registering his presence. If he did not choose to do so, Luna's memory did not request it a third time, nor would she comment further to the defiance. She stepped out of his way. "Good luck Cervantes, Martis. Do not perish and I shall meet you with a reward. Blessed Be." And she vanished. Due to the benefit of Luna's guidance, Cervantes would find navigating through the dense nature of the forest less obscuring and rebellious than Alexandria and Natasha's path. Foliage and understory had been cleared by Luna's trek, even the archways of the trees seemed bent uncannily from his pathway. Under the lingering influence of her magical imposing stride through the darkness, his way was clear. Eventually, with his likely acute and sharpened unnatural senses, he'd catch the whiff of the decomposing dragon corpse. This rotten to the core smell paraded with the singed bouquet of burning lumber and scorched earth. These olfactions lurked in the corridors of the forest, slithering in the cold zephyr whisking between the trunks. As time passed and the scent became more poignant, a moss-covered rock suddenly glowed—upon its crown, another inscription. If the vampire so placed his blood on the sentinel rune, its sisters would immediately activate in his presence. Luna appeared once more, sitting cross-legged upon the rock as if solid with flesh. She leaned forward with plum eyes focused on his form, and gloved fingers lapped over her knees. "Cervantes," she spoke with her echoing silk voice. "In the clearing north of here, my orcs and I battled with minions of the monster we hunt. They are, by my understanding, a sort of druid in the forest. They are capable of manipulating the trees into soldiers by inspiring a life force. Perhaps through the essence of those previously perished. A dragon was fatally wounded, and you will discover its carcass soon. Continue north from here, but be wary as some of the druids fled, and may still linger in the forest. Blessed Be." With that, the magical beacon once more vanished.
  12. "Let's leave the dragons." At first, Natasha didn't answer, for she continued to glare into the dark void. Her veins bulged on the curves of her tight muscles, and her pale yellow tusks began to salivate and grind with a lust for murder. Like a lion that missed its strike, she breathed heavily in the chest, nostrils flaring for a scent. A long exhale released her primal tension, and she straightened up to turned towards Alexandria. "You're right," she agreed. "Durzol." The dragon immediately flared up, snarling at Natasha in utter protest. She ignored him, walking closer to the beast. The dragon growled louder, seeming moments from mauling her. The orc knew the dragon was simply rebelling his expulsion. Her battle hunger was tattooed upon him through the empathetic link, and he acted as she would if she were dismissed--pissed off. However, Natasha already knew exactly what to say to him. "You need to make sure Syvos gets out of the forest safely. We'll meet you at the end." Immediately the dragon pacified, turning his head towards Syvos for a moment, and then lowering his head in acceptance. Natasha gripped his snout hard and pressed her forehead to his. Her carmine eyes blazed wildly at him, a silent goodbye transitioning before both the dragons turned back. "Let's head that way." Natasha smirked over her shoulder at Alexandria. Straight into danger--she loved it. After a curt nod, the orc followed and resumed her foliage hacking as well. To Alexandria's outward enthusiasm, she resisted the urge to crack a grin. She found it absolutely ado--No, no, she would not allow such a word to cross her mind. She cleared her throat and continue to cleave away. "Smells bad here, too. Why do we always goto stinky places?" Once more, Natasha would have perfectly content with ignoring Karmal. Suddenly, however, there was a response. "Fleshys always stinky when they deadsy." The voice was small and high pitched, leading up into the darker canopies. "But deady fleshys don't chop my treesy. You're better off a stinky deadsy." A pair of cerulean orbs twinkled in the shadows of the canopy. Natasha glanced up. A small tap tap, like wood pecking wood, came. In an instant, the tree came to life. It bent and curved as if broken by the wind before one of its gnarled branches came slamming down towards the duo. Natasha leaped out of the way, tumbling into the roots of another nearby tree. Assuming Alexandria too dodged, the tree impacted the ground, sending leaves dancing the air and a dent in the earth. "Tehehehehee." Tap Tap. The exposed roots against Natasha's back suddenly slithered into animation and grasped her body like great claws. As it attempted to entangle her, the orc immediately struggled like a ferocious beast, roots splintering and snapping like cords at her vigorous fight. One of the origins slithered to a point and shot at her neck. Her newly free hand caught it inches from her skin; she twisted her wrist and cleaved it with the gauntlet blades. "Deadsy fleshy deadsy fleshy!" The living tree rapidly bowed, a bulky, bald, and knotted end seeking to crush the orc's head against its trunk. Natasha's hand shot up, breaking the new roots attempting to ensnare her arms and caught the bough. Her body sank into the earth, and the she-orc released a string of curses as the roots wrapped slowly up her legs. "What the fuck!" She yelled in orc, temporarily releasing the tree with one of her hands to stab it with her gauntlet. Black, bloody sap rained from the wound. ...... Meanwhile, for the illuminating newcomer of the Dark Forest, he'd find signs of the witch elusive. It seemed Luna would not wait for an uncertain alley when someone so precious to her was in danger. However, the old and intricate witch was thorough and full of forethought. She would not dig into a grave without ensuring her sisters would, eventually, learn that she could lie in it. So littered throughout the outskirts of her beacon's direction, inscriptions were craved into wood, rock, and earth alike. They would not trigger to the ubiquitous presence of Alexandria, despite her kinship, for they were not written for her. However, when the touch of the undead came into their midst, the blossomed into a bloody carmine hue. As the vampiric man transpired deeper in the forest, aura reaching with his bouquet for attention, a rune inscription engraved onto the very oak tree he so lightly brushed, awoke. The rune, no larger than a fingerprint, shone with the bright essence of a sunset; from its core, a woman weaves into existence. The transcribed image of Luna played with the uncanny valley of her natural beauty. Conjured by magic, she was ghostly and esoteric, but the witches' youthful and surreal aesthetics melded with it, offering an angelic loveliness. Her jade tresses were dyed into a minty green from the veil of carmine magic encasing her body, and her mauve eyes now a dark plum hue. The witches' rune and spell work flaunted all its artistic glory in the illusion and held Luna's imprinted memories. The woman gazed upon what was before her, strange sentience twinkling within her eyes. Her face was solemn and analytical, as still and stoic as a porcelain doll upon a self. A few seconds drifted, the magical image processing thought in sophisticated manners impossible to explain. When she finally spoke, her British accented voice echoed around them. "Are you the one answered by my call?" It waited patiently for him to answer. When he did, the image paused, the magic processing before speaking once more. "My name is Luna, high witch of a coven of No Man's Land. I've brought you here to assist me in destroying a beast that lurks these woods. This creature has captured four fellow witches and transformed them into something unthinkable. I believe them to be some form of a Banshee. "I've never known such afflictions to be cast on living witches, but this creature holds abilities I've yet to encounter. It offers sweets temptation to the soul, twisting emotions and thoughts to torment, and then promises the release into apathy. I will not risk any more of my witches. I need someone…" The image pause, advancing a few steps towards the man. She came within a few inches with a small smile rising in her glimmering coral lips. "Soulless, to help." The image glissaded away, turning towards the deeper parts of the wood. "If you do decide to help, I will reward you. I can do a great many things, and it's not often I place myself in a position be to in debt. This magical imprint will fade soon. If you wish to journey into the Dark Forest and find me, place a drop of your blood on my inscription. The others will activate in your presence, with more imprints of my memory." She rose her hand with a finger pointing to the west. "This is the way."
  13. As the two witches departed on their journey, something else was brewing in the depths of Mount Ariadne. Underneath the ordinarily hot and feverish twisted tunnels, an unusual spread of snow and ice manifested throughout the serpentine corridors. Mist impregnated the air as the fertile cold consummated with the fiery womb of the volcanic landscape. In the last few weeks, everything was strangely cooler in the witches’ domain. Magma pools regressed and hardened, and brimstone piled into with high mountainous peaks. The source of the brisk winds was an archway in the courtyard. Like an open maw to winter, it breathed random gusts of crisp air. The rim of the arch was lined with crying icicles. The stalactites blushed an amber color from the fiery world, and then shred tears that caught the cave’s icy breath. Each drop froze, descended, and dissipated into mist. In the great belly of the icy underpass, an orc named Ferrah sat before a barred cavern. Her head, shoulders, and thighs were dusted with snow. Leaning on the wall beside her was a great bone crafted zanbato weapon. Her crimson eyes were closed, and if not for the long vaporous breaths exhaling from her nostrils, she might have been thought frozen dead. Thanks to the insulated thick nature of their hides, the orcs of the tribe were quite as resistant to cold as they were to the blistering heat. Still, Ferrah’s body was layered in the skinned hides of orc hounds and other wild beasts, suggesting even she reached certain limits. Beyond the bars, which sparkled with lightning at spontaneous intervals, a magnificent winged beast lurked. An ancient dragon. She paced back and forth in the imprisonment, like a crystalline coated predator stalking the outlines of their cage. Her fine feline talons brushed through vast piles of powdery snow and scrapped the thin layers of ice adorned rock. She was surreally beautiful and radiated with a mystical aura of aged magic. This dragon was Crysanthe, long won by the witches and held for months as their prisoner. Trust with the dragon was sought many times, but the beast refused to yield to promises not delivered. “Ferrah!” Ferrah opened a lazy carmine eye, huffing slightly and turning her head towards the tunnel. Down it came a bulky scrambling orc. His name was Jadi, and he was lined with so much muscle that it seemed to strain on his ability to think. Absent-minded to the friction-less nature of ice, Jadi’s dash soon became a tumbleweed roll of angry curses. He collided with a wall, the impact dislodging icicles from the ceiling. Ferrah slowly raised the brow, too bitter and cold to laugh at his clumsy idiocy. “What is it, Jadi?” She grunted, raising a clawed hand and brushing off the snow from her shoulders. Jadi rolled onto his big bottom with a groan, rubbing the new knots on his melon. “Ouch…” He grumbled. Ferrah gave him a whole ten seconds, with him doing nothing but rubbing his aches like an ape, before she grasped a fallen icicle and knocked him clean on the temple. “What do you want, Jadi?!” She snarled, now on her feet. Ferrah’s short temper was well known, and she loved picking a fight. Despite the icicle snapping clean on his massive head, Jadi merely rubbed the spot and stood. “Oh yeah...Something with egg.” He mumbled. “What with egg?” Ferrah said with a twitching eye. “It’s not working.” “....What does that MEAN, Jadi?” “Well, area not so cold. Egg not so shiny...blinking a lot. Think its dying. Wondering if we can eat it now.” Ferrah stared for a moment, not sure what to make of it. Before she could answer, a quake in the earth nearly threw her off her feet. Crysthane had slammed her talon before the cage, grasping their attention. The beast lowered her slender head, the orcs reflecting in her silvery sea gaze. “Bring me a witch, now.” Her voice rang melodically sweet but deadly throughout the orc’s minds. “If the egg dies, you will know no greater wrath than mine.” Jadi suddenly laughed, stomping before the cage. Ferrah shifted her eyes towards him, and then slowing started drifting back. Crysanthe merely narrowed her eyes a half-inch. “Stupid animal! You’re all locked up! Shut-up before I use your hide as target pra-” He didn’t finish, for the open jaws of the dragon sent a hellish winter upon his soul. Within seconds, he was frozen solid. Ferrah dived out of the way, looking up just in time to see the ice statue tilt over and shatter into fleshy pieces. Crysanthe turned her critical eyes to Ferrah once more. “A witch, now.” Shortly after, Ferrah was banging on the doors of the Witch Tower. Two witches had been working on the dragon, but she had not seen them in some time. Now she was pissed. She was always pissed, but today she was once more infuriated by her piss-poor position of dragon duty. Jadi had it coming, but be damned if she was going to become a frozen sickle because these witches wanted to keep something so dangerous so close. “HELLO?!” She banged so hard that the entire door rumbled at her fury. She had a lot of power for someone so short for an orc. @Eternity
  14. "You'll be fine without it?" Even as Alexandria said it, Natasha pressed the torch into the palm of her hand. Her lips flatlined at first, as Alexandria once more burdened herself with Natasha's safety, but then the corner of her mouth curved into a confident half-smirk. She wasn't even sure why it made her grin. "Yes." Her clawed hand left the torch handle and grasped firmly on Alexandria's wrist. With impressive strength, she yanked her just a hair closer. "You're more important." She finishes in orc before releasing. Even if Natasha were utterly blind, crippled, and deaf, Alexandria would always get the torch. Despite the strange developing tides of their personal relationship, in the grand sea of facts, the she-orc was still her muscled soldier and disposable slave. This fact instilled into her soulless vessel and rattled its imprisoning chains throughout her mind. This crimson-haired warrior had the unique ability to temporarily paint the fantasy of passionate allies in war and battle. Still, the obligation to sacrifice every ounce of her entity to her service would always be there. At times she lost whether her actions were responsibilities or decisions. Her eyes shifted to the side, watching as Durzol responds to Syvos' closeness by curling his long neck over hers. He is careful not to brush his underside on his alpha, smooth with his domineering size, as it is not an act of dominance. Deep oscillations with admonitions escape his chest, amethyst eyes protectively leering into the forest. Natasha exhales a long misty breath into the night through her nostrils, thoughts of her dragon's unexplained obsession with Syvos biting at her mind once more. "Uncertain if dragons followed Luna into heart of forest." She does note that some of the branches seemed in disarray and broken from the movement of large beasts. "It will get thicker." Natasha brought one her five serrated-blade gauntlets in front of her face, crimson eyes analyzing the integrity of her weapon before cleaving a populous borough from their pathway. As the wood splintered and broke, crumbling to the ground in oozing amber sap, the trees around them seem to sway ominously, increased moans riding the cold wind. Natasha ignored it all and progressed forward. "Will use them while can." So they ventured into the darkness of the forest, passing through the treelines like black curtains of a stage. Moonlight adequately pierced through some patches of canopy from the sliver of crescent light above. Durzol's scales shimmered the light gold hues of the torch as he eagerly pushed to be close to Syvos. The Dark Forest was misty and gloomy, but still strangely visible on the outskirts. Natasha listened to Alexandria's warnings and worries as she trudged beside her. "Rumors spread by scared children." She says curtly, "Orcs have no rumors, only tales of victory." She swings and snaps another obscuring limb, amber sap licking her blades. "Never tell what scared of, only what was conquered." Essentially, the prideful orcs never told each other of the scary things that go bump in the night. It suggested they were fearful. Fear was a weakness, and orcs never admitted to it. This, too, was ingrained into Natasha. She arguably didn't experience fear because she didn't apprehend death. Her life was war, chaos, and blood. She welcomed it. The orc snapped another branch and looked at Alexandria, flushing irises traveling along with her features for a long moment. But some things had changed. "Do not worry," she suddenly adds. "We'll kill anything we cross, and tell more tales of victory." Abruptly Durzol stops; it is about a mile into the forest. The moonlight hid behind more opulent canopy, and now shadows lurked heavily around the torch flames. The armor on the dragon's body shivered as his spine arched, and fangs revealed with smoking serpents escaping the gaps. Syvos likely too became agitated; before them was a dead dragon. Only the tattered wings spread among the understory, and scales scattered like broken glass revealed its identity. Entangled around the body were pulsating roots of trees. Covered in mossy fungi and the smell of wood rot, the roots embraced their victim grotesquely and slithered like a ravenous ball of lustful snakes. "What the…" Natasha walked intrepidly closer to the tragic and disgusting sight, pushing the dragons out the way. As she steps, the unfed roots slither from her stride, pulsating around the metal boots like hearts. Her crimson eyes saw the detail in the woodland monster—tiny suckling holes. She imagined they latched onto the body like leeches and drained away liquefied insides. Yet, the trees from which the origins birthed were completely stoic and still. Their leaves trembled in the zephyr but nothing more. The dead were apparently not wasted here, corpses scavenged and digested by the very plant life. The burning question was…what killed the dragon? A sudden loud disturbance in the distance, trees bowing to weight, drew the orc's attention. She snapped her attention to the left density and in the far distance, burning blood red of almond optics shone in the shadows. Before Natasha could even tense her muscles for battle, it was gone and the trees once more still.
  15. Natasha observed silently, listening to the details of Alexandria's plan with little response to give. The witch was correct, the orc's war-driven culture of tusk and claw meant they grasped little of the arcane world—as poor as any savages could comprehend complexity. Natasha merely traced her carmine eyes to the witch's movements. A chain spun over a map, 'scrying' she called it, absurd is what the she-orc thought. "…." She crossed her bulk arms tightly over her metal breastplates, furrowing her brows and twitching in the jaw. Alexandria meditated deep within herself, to pull some hidden strength from her core. Natasha ground the tip of her sharp nail along with the rough curve of her triceps, tapping with discomfort. The witch looked so temporarily vulnerable that the orc instantly widened her awareness of the world around them. "....." The emerald grass became a sea of movement, and the wind too swirled around the witch's invisible seduction. Then something strange happened, something Natasha instantly didn't like. The witch was in distress. The orc uncrossed her arms, narrowing her eyes for a moment before snapping to a stand. Quick steps filled the distance between them, paused an inch before contact. She swiftly recalled the last time she jumped to conclusions when the witch used magic—how she was in some unfathomable danger. Unease pulled at her body; she felt her heart race and tandem thoughts started to twist and tangle. All her muscles tensed to fight some non-existent monster. To murder and maim whatever dared to cause this. Would she be powerless again to help? Oh how she hated magic. Why did she suggest this? "……." When Alexandria broke her spell and hunched forward, her left shoulder fell into Natasha's grasp. The orc was knelt before her, hand firmly gripped on the plates of the witch's arm and eyes focused with wild pupils. She was silent for a moment, grip hard and firm before the black of her eyes slowly contracted back to normal. "Breathe," she said, her naturally deep voice containing an unusual husk in tone. When Alexandria recovered, the she-orc removed her hand and stood, stepping back as the witch too stood. She nodded curtly to the new plan, dusting off the last bits of emotion from her shoulders. She grunted something in orc, and Durzol came racing to her side. Synchronously the two mounted, and in tandem, they took off. They flew across the misty fields of the Forgotten Forest, the whimsical nature of their flight gone and now heavy with intent. As the night aged, Natasha's carmine eyes shone brightly in the murk, her nocturnal vision awakening. Still, the orc squinted; there was something strange about this evening. It felt heavier than usual—not an aphotic world, but one suffocated by a veil of black. Even Durzol, who too thrived in the night, whined with unease under his breath. They landed before an undead forest; trees were full of growth, rich in the bark and thick with boroughs, yet their colors seemed paled and bland like blood deprived flesh. The wind was cold and noisy, capable of rising bumps on even Natasha's thick skin. She dismounted, laced with solemnity, and flicked her eyes back and forth as she prowled the outskirts. "Someone was here," she said, crouching down at a smoldered lump of charcoal. Her nostrils flared wide. "Curt and Bale." She stood and walker further around the area. "Two dragons." Her feet traveled over some ruffled dirt and scattered scales of different colors. "In right place," she concluded and turned towards the wood. It was so dark between the tree lines that her eyes could barely pierce five feet beyond them. Her boot hooked and kicked up a broken branch, catching it with her left hand. From her sash, she produced a bottle of clear gelatinous liquid and cloth in which she wrapped around the edge of the branch. It was a trick the orcs commonly did—fabric material on a limb, soaked with flammable saliva of an orc hound. She walked to Durzol, and on cue, he breathed fiery life into it. "Let's go," she said, extending the torch to Alexandria. (This adventure will be continued in this thread)
  16. Natasha listened to Alexandria, sensing her urgency. As she suddenly took off, Natasha paused for a moment to think. Or at least she tried too. Two moments after Syvos dived from her edge, Natasha saw a blur of hazel rush pass her peripheral. AUUUGH “Son of a—DURZOL!” Natasha ran after the racing dragon, barely grabbing a plate in his armor and pulling herself on the saddle seconds before the dragon bird dived down the cliff side. He folded his amber wings, ignoring Natasha's chastising curses, and caught up to the crimson beauty. Synchronously they spread their wings and curved up towards the skies. In swirls of ruby and gold, the dragons churned in the gusts of winds like autumn leaves in the zephyr. Alexandria yelled in exhilaration and Natasha couldn’t help herself, her ash face breaking into a tusked grin and crying out like a wild animal in the skies with her steed. They rode over the palisades of rock, and eventually their shadows cascaded over canopies of green. Alas their hours of search were fruitless, it took them to the far northeast, over the Haunted Glen and now near the Forgotten Wood. The scarlet skies were darkening into the dusk of night, navy shade expanding from the west horizon and stars blinking beyond the clouds. They landed their tired dragons, Durzol hunched with heated breathes. The dragon tread to a pool of water they decisively choose to re-hydrate them. The liquid steamed in his mouth as he drank. Natasha was sitting cross armed on a rock, thinking hard when Alexandria approached her with the jerky. She took it silently and shoved it between their tusks. Alexandria dedication to this mission was lost on her, but still managed to put stress in her neck and shoulders. Her mind chewed on her thoughts as her teeth effortlessly devoured the meat in a few bites. “Alexandria,” she finally says. “Can’t you use your…” She paused, rolling her discomfort with the concept on her tongue. “Magic to find her?” More than enough times she had seen the witches use all kinds of voodoo to do impossible things. When The Matriarch was their slave, before irony made them its bitch, she was capable of seeing things in the future, locating enemy traps and locations. She even warned them of Luna and her kind on their way to invade the fortress. Locating enemies and threats seemed possible, why not be able to use it to find comrades? These sisters did seem strangely close after-all.
  17. Alexandria reached out, and as a reflex, Natasha tensed with the constant battle ravenous flame in her belly, preparing to scorch the fool that dared to touch her. Then her mind deepened its purr, overriding so many years of violent outbursts and dousing the flame. Like a tamed beast, she settled as Alexandria's hand curled around her wrist. Somehow she still felt incredibly warm as her dense muscles melted, and she followed without resistance into the tower. The orc was used to the obligations of her enslavement, forcing her to castrate her more primal nature. Usually, she'd resent the imposed weakness and vulnerability. Yet this scarlet haired woman seemed to literally bewitch her personality. Instead of begrudgingly letting her obligations possess her, those crimson eyes widened and then lazed into a half moon-gaze as she followed her, mind clean of resentment. Marquise's voice rang in her ears at that moment: You're not yourself. Her instantly ignited her temper shook off the feeling, allowing her to focus back on the moment at hand. The two jutted up the stairs and Natasha explained everything she had heard: Luna's wounded return and how Abree tended to her; the supposed missing witches, which she already deduced to be Stellestria, Una Tal, Emma, and Serra; and finally Luna's departure with two of the more skilled warrior orcs. Curt and Bale were one of the few orcs that could potentially challenge Natasha. By the time she finished, Alexandria was primed like a gold lion for battle. Natasha couldn't help but crack a small grin at the sight. This was the witch she was familiar with, an intrepid warrior springing with haste into battle. Excitement ringed through her muscle, so much that she had to roll and pop the tension from her neck. Alexandria didn't have to wait; the she-orc was on her heels. When Alexandria mentioned her bells and gave her admonitions, Natasha's grin only widened. "Wouldn't miss it," she practically growled in response at the stable. In that moment, Durzol landed behind the orc. The hazel winged-beast trembled with exhilaration fed through Natasha's empathetic link. He was already wearing his saddle, a metallic and hide welded craft. He was also adorned with metallic plates on his neck and a helm to his crown and snout. His long tail brandished weaponry of jutting spikes flared in a trident formation. "We wouldn't miss it." Durzol reared up at sight of Syvos, coos vibrating intensely under his massive husk neck and black smoke leaking from his nostrils. By the twinkle of his amethyst eyes, his interest in Syvos was still very much untamed. In fact, a scar or two on his body told stories of how he perhaps got too invasive. He slowly cranked his head over Natasha's shoulder, eyes hyper-focused on Syvos. Natasha had a twitch of irritation and instantly swung her fist over her shoulder, knocking him right in the snout. The dragon sniffed out harshly and whined, protesting at the injustice. Nonetheless, he backed up and came to a curled sit with the face that could only be interpreted as pouting. "Do you know where they went?" Natasha asked, ignoring him (and Kamal for that matter). "Many dark forests over the mountains."
  18. Natasha lowered her clamped fist as she heard the echoing steps of someone approaching. Her chiseled abdomen tightened, and her mind started an incessant purring of anticipation. She half turns her body, wanting to walk away. No, she needed to confirm that the witch was there. The door clicked; Natasha's coils of muscles tense, and she thins her lips. The scarlet-haired witch peeked her amber irises into the flaring lights of the magma hued cavern. At the sight of her, every gnarled knot within the orc loosens. Lips part with a sigh. She couldn't comprehend this sudden sensation of relief. "Natasha?" "You're here," she says in orc and takes a half step towards the witch before stopping herself. Her fingers twitch at her sides, and she falls back. "Good." The opening door further reveals the witch and the orc's eyes brazenly drawdown. No armor of gold; sleek brown leather, hard and form-fitting. Natasha gets another tinge of discomfort as she exhales away newly heated breath and brings her gaze back up. That beaming smile throws her guard and makes her clear her throat. "Have you come to drink?" "Heh, no." She said with some amusement in her voice. "No, time." Alexandria wasn't missing, and so she could have walked away, but her rational nature told her if Luna was indeed trudging in death's waters, Alexandria would dive in after her. These witches tended to devote great lengths for each other. At least this way, Natasha would be there. "Need to tell you something," she said, decisively turning full front towards her. "Orcs have stories of Luna. That she left in night because witches vanish. You know of this?"
  19. After the celebrations, the passing of time found quiet within the Witches' Tower once more. During that time, another Sister has joined the Coven, her room manifesting in the complex inner workings of the tower. With this room, a new waterfall birthed and spilled like locks of hair a pool of water. Though the flow was much too great for the pond to hold, it never overflowed. Outside, the army of orcs still worked tirelessly on expanding the tunnels of mountain. Their latest project involved networking the honeycombs of Mt Ariadne into the neighboring mountainous structure to the east; there a nest and stable of rider dragons lived and bred. There were still only 30 dragons, but through fortunate a few select were pregnant and speckled eggs dusted the nest. Torches illuminated the cute orbs in sleek reflections of hazels, crimsons, and cerulean colors. Natasha had just landed her dragon Durzol and was observing a clutch of eggs. They were placed in the hard light of a torch, and she could see shadows of life dancing through the shells. Durzol cooed over her left shoulder and she knocked him affectionately with the back of her hands. She was grateful he was immune to pregnancy. Even the thought of her own womb infected with a little parasite tightened a knot in her stomach. That's right, Marcques wanted her to bare children. Disgusting. "I'm telling ya, she can't coming back this time." Natasha lazily shifted her crimson eyes from the eggs, catching the approach of two elderly she-orcs trudging up the nearby incline. Shelia and Abree, once strong tamers crippled by age and the wrong side of a beast's fangs. Shelia was nearly blinded by a hound's lick to the eyeball and Abree lost an arm and most of her nose trying tame the wrong cavern creature. Before the witches, they would have been pick off, but Luna found them useful in the egg care. "She always comes back Shelia..." Abree crooned in a nasally tone. "Be happy she does." "Haven't you noticed? The four witches that went in never came back. That tower don't shine so bright like before. Telling ya, they died and she's next. " Natasha slowly raised her brows. Dead witches? For a moment, a part of Natasha she'd never admit existed nearly dropped all her things and bee-lined it for the tower. Her thighs literally shivered with adrenaline to do so, and her mind chastised them for the impulsive weakness. She grunted deep in her chest and warned her heart to calm itself before continuing to listen. "Well, there was something weird..." Abree said. "Some weeks ago, Luna came back without the two witches she left with, all beat up and tired. She came into the stable and I spotted her. She seemed pretty pissed that I saw her, thought that was it for me. But then she fell over, and told me to carry her to the tower. I was doing all sorts of weird things for her after that." "Like what?" "Ah you know I don't understand any that witch stuff. Mostly hold and stir things for her. She didn't seem able to move much. Could've snapped her neck like a twig. Anyway, I'd cook things for her and she dip her hands in it. She then looked at her hands, and kicked me out. Did that for a week." "I bet something hurt her real good." "Probably. Where did she go with them witches?" "Nigel told me some dark and dank forest. According to him the wit-" The orcs suddenly stopped, finally noticing Natasha. The she-orc, unashamed, walked right up to them. She towering figure made the hunched orcs visibly flinch. She stopped looked Shelia dead in her old clouded red eyes whilst own flared intimidatingly with sheer interest. "Don't stop on my account, what did Nigel say?" She commanded. "I...I'm not sure I remember." Natasha only had to stare at her a half second more before she cracked. "I mean..he said they turned into something...all white and noisy. They were no longer witches, he ran away." "Coward," Natasha snarled. "That's probably why Luna sent him to off to the dwarves. And she's there again?" "Maybe?" Durzol gave a rumbling growl behind her and she quickly spoke again. "Well, last night she snuck off with Bale and Curt on their dragons. Don't know where she went." Natasha blinked once, and then silently left the old orcs to themselves. Durzol followed after her. It wasn't her business. It really wasn't. What did she care? She was just the witch's slave. She had no orders and hence no obligations. She knew this, but still she walked...no, she ran and eventually sprinted all the way to the witches' tower. Her mind still couldn't comprehend her actions when she found herself banging on the big doors of the tower with the side of her fist. She knew exactly who she wanted to see. "Alexandria," she said loudly before hitting the door three more times. "Are you there?" As she asked the question, she asked herself mentally again why was she there.
  20. (A revival thread of The Witching Hour) Instead of it merely stealing her sight, it festered on her skin like a disease. Against such darkness, once rich buttermilk tones paled into ghostly vein tinted flesh. The aphotic world ensnared Luna in its lustful talons, burdening her breath and crippling her to her knees. She felt the long sinews of her dress fatigue and tear as she dropped into the sodden underbrush. With the gravity of weakness plastered on her back, she hunched and planted her hands into the dirt. How did this happen? Her face grimaced, curtained by sweat bejeweled tresses of jade. She squinted through the hot clouded drawl of her breath, watching her fingers drain of life and white spread up her wrists like frost. Her life seemed to siphon into the rotten roots surrounding her; the grotesque peduncles engorged and throbbing like the veins of a heart. How did I let this pass? The air suddenly screamed and wailed; so high and horrid that the darkness itself seemed to vibrate on the brink of shattering like glass. White ghostly creatures flashed across the woman's peripheral like haunting spirits. Their voices pulled crimson pain from her ears but enticed a seductively pleasant cold to her heart. How she wanted to plunge herself into that sweet numbness. To be with them and feel nothing. No. Her ostentatious mind tensed and tightened with her face. Those mauve irises embraced her dilated pupils and illuminated with showers of arcane magic. Though tremors rattled down her arms, straining to maintain her weight, a different strength rose in the depths of her core. It spread warmth back into her chest and color to her hands. Luna's hair began to float and swim around her. "I will not... become one of you," her voice came low and rasp. The brightness of her eyes intensified. The white of her hands now retracting to her knuckles. Then, between the screaming creatures, a low rumble and violent snarl echoed around her. She tilted her head up, gaze shining like stars through long bangs. "And I will not let you have them." A monstrous figure shifted between the thick trunks of the trees, deep carmine eyes flickering in and out of view. Its obsidian scales blended impeccably into the shadows, contours only revealed through the luminous nature of the witch's eyes. It, too, reflected the woman, its optics and malice danced around the image. "You may have taken them," she said with the sweetness of poison on her tongue. "But I will return...And I'll make you suffer." The creature lunged at her, ripping trees from their roots in bloody sprays of black liquid. Before its talons could touch the witch, she burst into a great nova of pure white. The energy kissed the clutches of the creature and instantly cremated the tips into ash. It hissed and withdrew. When the light settled, the woman was gone, and the beast left seething at the empty spot. ---2 weeks later--- Luna opened her eyes and closed her mind's reflection on the past. She rested on the outskirts of the Dark Forest, settled on an old boulder patched with moss and cracks. She brought her eyes to her gloved fingertips; the fingers were still ashen and white underneath. The curse nearly inflicted upon her had refused to settle. She tried every remedy the lore offered. Nothing. Her body was naturally resistant to magical curses, but still, this managed to tattoo itself upon her like a mark of shame. The demon of indifference was still her chest, the sweet desire to abandon all her emotions and lose herself into a world of apathetic bliss purred enticingly. Her fingers curled into a fist, and she inhaled deeply. The only thing that fought through it was the pain she felt in the Coven's Soul. Of her sisters. Left behind in their tortured state. She had to rectify this. Her heart tore at what she may have to do. She sent two witches in on their own were lost. The next two with herself and she barely escaped. This would be her third entry, and this time she would not risk any more witches. The seductive pull of the Dark Forest seemed to allure the nature of her kin too well. Even now, she felt the intoxicating bouquet of its breath flow through the trees and caress her beating heart. But no amount of temptation could stop the daunting shame. She should have been able to protect them. What was worse was the time it took her to return for them. She searched for a cure, but then was forced to Dougton. So many events happened at once, and she had to lie to her sisters that all was well. Finally, after celebrations of their recent victories, she returned to the forest. This time she sought different help. Three days ago, she sent off a magical beacon to the underworld, Valucre's underworld, littered and infested with dark mercenaries, the undead, the unnatural, and other near-dead and grotesque fiends. She promised a great reward to any who answered and assisted her. She was resourceful and enriched enough to do so. Today was the day to meet if any responded. She would put her prejudiced opinions of Nature's greatest abominations aside to complete this mission. "If not," she whispered to herself. "I'll do it alone." Beside her, two orcs sat cross-legged beside a fire pit. Beyond them, two-rider dragons of red and hazel hues curled up like felines. In the air at her temple, the partially invisible familiar Chubbo floated silently. The creature stared at his witch, its serpentine figure showing concern. Luna ignored all of them, her sharp eyes focused on the caliginosity between the tree lines of the forest. She'd only wait so much longer.
  21. Thread Summary (Long) Back in the Sisterhood of Witch’s Coven, the seer witch known as The Matriarch has a sudden premonition. The premonition involves a great and evil summoning of an iniquitous being, great and terrible enough to desecrate the land around it. The vision greatly disturbs the witch, and occurs at the worst possible moment, for all her sisters are gone on missions of their own. With only the knowledge that it takes place on a new moon, only in three days time, she has no time to wait for her sisters to return. After deep meditation and consultations with the Great Spirits, she learns there is a witch vital to her success and the location of her. With her Bodyguard and two orc twins Tera and Kana, she sets out on her journey to find this witch and stop the summoning. They travel to the Blue Hills, where the Matriarch uses a spell to send a message to witch and water enchantress Namiko. However, before she can explain the story in full detail, the message is interpreted as the witch and her orcs are mysteriously attacked. Though having lived most of her life in solitude, Namiko finds herself choosing to help the Matriarch. She travels quickly to the Blue Hills, discovering the remnants of the battle and the witch is missing. She finds Kana incapacited by some mysterious ailments and heals her with magic. The duo track down the Matriarch, discovering her at a campsite of mercenaries. She is motionless and teetered to a strange amulet. They succeed in rescuing Matriarch and the other orcs, learning that the assailants were mercenaries hired to drain arcane energy from spell-casters using the amulet. And that they were to return the amulet to Dougton, where rogue elven clerics would reward them. Unable to touch the amulet herself, The Matriarch entrusts the amulet to the Bodyguard. Finally rendezvoused, the Matriarch gives Namiko the final details of her vision. These are reconfirmed when the witches share a dream of the premonition that night. Despite not being a sister of the coven, The Matriarch has formed a bond with Namiko and seeks to use it to delve further into the vision. Using their combined magic, The Matriarch manifest more details the future. It tells of a cabin in Dougton that the denizens avoid and where energy is dark and hungry. She identities this place as where the summoning would take place. The witches travel toward Dougton, taking the whole of the second day. The Matriarch give hints and suggestions the Namiko has some hidden pure light magic within her, capable of saving them from the summoning and that she is vital to their success. Right before Dougton, the witches are assaulted the clerical elves, who come looking for the amulet. The witches demonstrate great synchrony in this battle and Namiko’s ability to purify great darkness is revealed. During this battle they also catch a glimpse of the great evil trying to enter their world, and while they are able to fend it off, it renders them exhausted and motionless on the battlefield. The orcs take the witches the rest of the way to Dougton by the late morning of the third day, where they rest within a clinic. There they learn of a strange illness seems to have been passing through the sanction of the city. Denizens are turning mad, leaking black liquid from their bodies and going on violent outburst before decaying into black smoke. The witches conjure a plan to use Namiko’s unique magic to help them. They implant a purification potion enhanced by Namiko into fountain within the herbal garden of the clinic, allowing it to fester and grow in time. Meanwhile, the witches leave orcs there and investigate the town. The Matriarch seeks to inaugurate Namiko into the Sisterhood of Witches, knowing the strength of the collective will further their chances of success. After some contemplation, Namiko agrees to sacrifice her life of solitude to join something greater. The ritual is and intense and takes all of the daylight to complete, but it is ultimately successful. Namiko’s soul is bonded to the Coven Soul. However, when they revive from the ritual, they find the tavern and town infested with the disease. They are attacked in their room and forced to fight their way out. They return to the clinic to discover it ramacked and destroyed. Tera and Kana survived, but the Bodyguard and the amulet are missing. At the night arose, a poisonous haze impregnates the air and black streams of liquid slither through the street. What is spared in the herbal garden of the clinic, protected by the magical fountain. The fountain, having absorbed the strength of the Coven Soul, has taken on a powerful, almost sentient character. The water draws to Namiko and she uses its strength create a great wave of purification against the infested sanction of Dougton. With the summoning eminent, they witches race to the lone cabin on the scorched and ashen hill. Namiko’s wave of purification follows them in her wake, cleansing the pathway. However, the weather becomes treacherous as they rush to the site, a thunderous storm brews with ebony rainwater pouring around them. When they reach the hill, a powerful barrier blocks Namiko’s wave from entering the dead land. At the cabin, the Summoners are there with the amulet. The Matriarch discovers that the dark nature of the earth is rising into the air and feeding summoning artifact. The Amulet itself seems to be the key to unlocking the powerful entity, the sky literally spinning onto itself and manifesting the beginnings on a portal. The witches fight tooth and tail to stop the summoning, even forced to fight the possessed Bodyguard. Death comes too close to the witches several times, and the god-like being extends its claws into the world and turns the land into a molten and broken landscape with great bolts of crimson lightning. The Matriarch seeks an opportunity, nearly killing herself by absorbing the God’s own attack into her body and sword. Broken, she passes the enhanced and tainted sword to Namiko. The witch once more demonstrates great power as she purifies the sword’s energy into a great weapon of light. She slams the Matriarch’s sword into the amulet, destroying its core. With the destruction, the amulet explodes into a force that shatters the barrier, allowing the wave of purifying waters to enter the land. It destroys the Summoners and cleanses the evil. When the portal slams shut, the talons of the evil god are severed and fall into the ground. One orc is lost in this battle, destroyed by the lightning. But the Bodyguard is cleaned and saved. The witches are victorious but exhausted of all their energy. Investigators are on their way to sanction of Dougton after the alarming storm, but Luna arrives before them the next morning. With three rider dragons with her, she carries the witches and the talons away from Dougton and back to the safety of Mount Ariadne. Summary (Short) After a premonition, The Matriarch of the Sisterhood of Witches travels to Dougton to stop the summoning of a great and terrible God by elven clerics. With her is the witch Namiko, a water enchantress that holds a great purifying affinity to her magic. Together they travel to the city, where they are forced to fight a plague of evil spreading to turn the denizens into puppets of the God. It is through a mysterious amulet that purloins magic from all that it touches that the Summoners are able to perform the ritual. The witches go through many trials and tribulations to destroy this amulet, and form a strong bond with each other in the process. The final battle takes place near a cabin on a lone hill in Dougton, a place previously corrupted by life draining energy itself. It is Namiko that manages to destroy the amulet in the final battle; done so by purifying the God’s own terrible energy absorbed by the Matriarch’s sword. With its destruction, Namiko’s great water magic is able to purify the land. All that is left is five talons of the God, severed from the body when the summoning portal is shut. Luna arrives the morning after the battle, having felt the dangers through the collective. She finds her sisters too exhausted to move, and takes it upon herself to bring them and the talons away from Dougton before the authorities arrive to investigate the previous night’s chaos. Opportunities 1. Seven strikes of an evil God’s crimson lightning has transformed earth into molten lava, which was then rapidly cooled by witch empowered waters. Obsidian rocks with crystallized energy now litter the battlefield. What might they do in the right/wrong hands? 2. The purifying waters have saturated the ground and cleaned the area. The land is now inhabitable once more. What will be done with it? Notable Consequences 1. The Sisters of Witches have a new sister Namiko Waverunner. 2. The Sisterhood of Witches gain +593 orcs to their army 3. Spoils of their adventure: 5 Talons of a “monstrous god” and a broken magic-stealing amulet 4. The 6 miles of land, once dead and draining of energy to all that came close, is now restored to capable of growing once more.
  22. For ten whole seconds, I was terrified you just removed Terrenus all together. You were about to get so many messages from me. Anyway, the only consistent thing in this world is change, so be as dynamic as you like! ?
  23. As Namiko fell, the Bodyguard reached out and caught her on his palm. He silently lifted and slid her delicately near the Matriarch, cradling them both in his great arms. The white witch smiled softly at her sister, kissing her forehead upon hers. In the next moment, both the witches were in a deep slumber. Namiko and The Matriarch slept through the passing events of the next three days. As the surviving denizens of the town recovered from their possessed stupor, an investigation was performed by the guards and protectors of Dougton. The crimson storm drew attention from miles around, but the guardsmen were too late to intervene. By the time they came to the remote section of the town (already avoided due its tendency to drain visitors of their energy) the witches, the amulet, and talons of the demonic threat were gone. The old doctor hid the witches and orcs at the broken clinic, away from questioning authorities in gratitude for saving his family. In the meantime, the orcs prepared for the journey back to Mount Ariadne. Tana was never found and assumed dead. While Kana didn’t express grief over her twin sister’s death, she was unusually quiet during their time there. The orcs managed to carry the mysterious obsidian talons to the clinic, but transporting such clear beacons of terror would have proven very difficult. The talons themselves seemed to wash away the colors of the world around them. It was only a matter of time before they were discovered by lurking guards. However, all their problems dissipated the next dawn. On daybreak after the battle, three winged-beasts transpired across the skies of Dougton; riders dragons of the coven. Upon one of them was Luna. The Coven’s leader had been aware of Namiko and the Matriarch’s mission ever since Namiko merged her soul with the coven. The effects of the crimson storm created a disturbance in the arcane world that she too could not ignore. Luna left immediately for Dougton, but due to her late start and great distance, she had arrived the morning after the battle ended. She was relieved to find them both alive and sleeping in the clinic. After analyzing the strange energy of the talon, Luna’s decided to harvest them with the dragons. It took two of the dragons to carry the weight of them away. The steeds, Namiko’s horse and the two hoofed beasts, were left outside of the Dougton and thankfully remained unharmed. By the end of the second day, the three witches and the two orcs were journeying back to Mount Ariadne. All they left behind was a saved town and a grateful old doctor. When the Matriarch woke, the evening the third day, it would be to the whispering winds of the night air. Clouds breezed across her body, leaving a cool moist sheet upon her white skin like diamonds in the moonlight. The new moon was now a pleasant crescent shape, hooking gracefully across a starry sky. She and Namiko were secured to the back of the third dragon, sailing across to No Man’s Land. When the Matriarch departed, the rider dragons had not been a feature of the coven. She would have been alarmed, but she felt Luna’s presence. Whatever confusion she had, it vanished. The Matriarch closed her eyes once more, tightening her hand over the set of delicate fingers she grasped during the night. It was all over, and she was more than happy to keep at rest. [End Thread]
  24. “Sister?” “I’ll be fine,” she whispers, voice husk and eyelashes low. With no more energy to speak, her fingers continue to urge eagerly to the beating blade. "End this." The Matriarch had no sight, but her dim eyes still saw it happen. A pristine spirit inundating the darkness and grasping the crimson curse of the blade. Though it frenzied and fought, it ultimately submits and pales under her light. Their energy then merges into a great entity the demon could not possibly defeat. The Matriarch gradually closes her eyes as Namiko assails forward . Her pain is so great that her mind numbs into a self-preserving disconnect from the world, leaving her with nothing but deep thoughts. Her memories cloud her, bringing her back to the riverside in Coconino Creek. It was peaceful, she and her newfound sister resting by the quiet of the water. It was there that she had the premonition that had given her true hope. Celestial waters, like the waves of Heaven’s ocean, charge through brimstone and fire.. Raven locks carry the currents, guided by tenacious eyes of the rising Sun. With pointed lightning hardened to metal within her grasp, she sends her wrath into the heart of evil. Reality breaks in luminescent white followed by cerulean light. Black corpses falls with a dying moan. A small tremor occurs in her surroundings, only touching her subconscious mildly. Thoughts still overwhelm her pained body. She does not acknowledge the shifting mound in the distance. She has doubt in her actions, no reservations in ensuring Namiko possesses her all her strength in sacrifice of her own. Another tremor occurs this time, louder, and the mound closer. It is drowned by the sounds of Namiko’s vigorous pillars of water bombarding the dark elves of the summoning circle. The elves fought her with arcane barriers, but they quickly crack and burst against Namiko’s newfound strength. The summoners pummeled back, melting into smoke as they fell. The Matriarch thought...Namiko had already broken the tides of the her first premonition. Perhaps.… A large shadow cast over the white witch, the Bodyguard hovering over her with death tattooed across his twisted face. His gargantuan hand easily grasped the entire body of the Matriarch, grip so tight that her face reddened and her breath stopped. Namiko charged with determined bravado into the circle and leaped into the space of the amulet, it now protesting violently with pulsing energy. Above the amulet, the sky continued to crack in desperation. Sharp, black talons kneading through. The Bodyguard cranked his arm back, prepared to the end the Matriarch’s life on the flames of a broken tree. Lost of breath and sensation, the witch only continued to pray. Perhaps she’ll save me from my fate as well… Namiko’s pierced the amulet with the Matriarch's sword. It screamed, horribly. A great pulse exploded from the center of the jewel, spreading out in a ring around them. The ring forced away the black fog, extinguished the flames and molten earth, and then finally broke the barrier around the hill. The waters of the fountain, no longer held back, stampeded forward onto the land. Its luminescent, cerulean tides cascaded the landscape like strokes of an artist's brush, daunting the ebony canvas with color. It washed over Kana, into the crevasses, and finally upon the Bodyguard and summoning ground. The great orc froze in position, Matriarch still in his grasp. Light rose his up legs like veins, and inserted itself into his eyes. Slowly his hand loosened, and he dropped the witch shortly before collapsing himself. The remaining elves cried as the waters washed over their fallen bodies, flesh vanishing into dissipating smoke. The demon above roared as the cracks in the sky began to repair around him, its prison resealing. It attempted to breakthrough, talons reaching further for the world. The long metallic extension fought the last fissures of the sky, moments of uncertainly stretching time. Then abruptly, the sky sealed close. The amulet stopped glowing, the jewel at the center shattering as it clunked to the ground with the sword. Seconds later five large obsidian claws pierced the ground, each as great the Bodyguard himself. The demon’s talons were severed by the close of the portal. They twinkled like a black starry night, diamond dust seemingly embedded in the mysterious ivory. A surreal aura of power radiated around them for a moment, and then settled. The crimson, hellish skies cleared until nothing remained by the navy sheet of night; the air suddenly serene and cool. The last of Namiko’s water seeped into the earth, leaving it rich and brown. Kana stirred, opening her eyes slowly. Moment ago she felt like every bone in her body was broken, but suddenly she had strength to move. She rose to her thighs, hair dripping with the remains of the fountain water, and she sat back on her thighs and a deep breath of life. Matriarch too was damp with the fountain water. Patches of her vulnerable skin was repaired, the scarred skin slowly hiding itself again. Her body was entirely too weak to move, but she opened her misty eyes to the clear night. All the evil was gone from her vision, but not only that, the land seem purer than before. Her fingers twitched in the moist earth, feeling nature’s energy already beginning to seed into it. It would once more grow. Suddenly her body moved, though not of its only accord. A gentle gargantuan hand had cradled her onto a matching bed of muscle. She felt the tip of a rough finger touch her cheek. “I am….sorry.” Came the rare deep voice of the Bodyguard. The Matriarch closed her eyes and nodded her head. “Take me to Namiko.” The Bodyguard began to search the grounds, looking for Namiko with the Matriarch on his arm. He found her, hopefully unharmed, and lowered to his knees with a great thump. The Matriarch reached her hand out towards her sister, tremors manifesting throughout her muscles. “Are you alright?”
  25. In the seconds before the strike of the demon, there was a still for the Matriarch. Ebony raindrops slowed to a metaphysical drawl, dripping slow down her lashes and curves of white skin whilst her mind raced a mile a minute. Forehead pressed upon the cold wet hilt of her sword, she listened to the layers of her breast plate clank as she panted, preparing herself for what was to come. Violent crimson lightning struck the earth, clashing at seven different points. Three of them hit nothing but ashen dirt, but the ground fractured with a painful scream. Stream exploded at impact and rock melted into pools of amber magma. Once gray and dead, the landscape now lit up with luminent liquid heat. The smell of sulfur began to permeate. The orcs’ battlefield was struck by the fourth, blasting the trio apart in different directions. As Tana flew through the air, her hardened ebony hard cracked and simmered. She bounced once with sickening cracks, rolled, and disappeared into one of the newly birthed fissures. Kana landed on unscarred earth and rolled to a stop with serpentine smoke slithering from her charred skin and hair. Motionless. The Bodyguard flew towards the top of the hill, denting where he landed with a thunderous sound. The last two assaulted the witches. The heated demonic energy clashed with the cool pure water of Namiko’s barrier with a sibilant scream. The collision would feel like a strike from a car, potentially throwing Namiko off her feet. Clouds burst, fogging the area in white and sulfuric smells. When it cleared, the witch would be untouched by the lightning itself. The ground was charred around her, rocks feverishly crimson and bejeweled with golden sweat, but the witch was not. It happened as fast as lightning traveled, and all seemed well in the next blink. What was not noticed the agonized scream piercing through the turbulent winds and breaking earth. And how half the lightning had branched away moment from the strike and conjoined with the Matriarch’s. Using the ionized energy of her arcane magic, The Matriarch used her sensitivity to magic to align her energy with the demons. She pushed it into the sword, and like a lighting rod, attracted the electric energy towards her and away from her sister. She couldn’t pull it all, but enough. The two lightning bolts struck the sword within her grasp simultaneously. “ARRGH!” The pain was unfathomable. She felt as if her blood had transformed into acid and began to melt her from the inside. Her porcelain skin literally broke; fissures spreading across her snowy skin like a disease of cobwebs. It then broke off into pieces that slowly became dust. The red energy around through her in dancing lines of light and then into the metal of her sword; it stained into a scarlet color. The witch collapsed onto the earth with the sound of shattering crystal, the sword clanging to a still beside her. Underneath her once flawless skin, her scarred burnt skin revealed itself in patches along her body. Years of abusive servitude in the bowels of the orc fortress, environment scorching with flame and lava, the Matriarch’s true body was burned and scarred beyond recognition. Through the years, magic coated her skin in a hard, smooth, and perfect coat. She barely feel touch and fine textures, but she also barely felt pain. Until now. Against this attack, the barrier reached its limit and broke. She heaved and moaned from the pain, but refused to lay completely still. Though every moment was tormentous, her muscles feeling like they were grinding against broken glass as she reached her hand out towards the sword beside her. It pulsed and oscillated with vibrant with an aura the literally began to elevate it from the ground. “Sister…” her voice was inaudible, but rang loud into Namiko’s core though the Coven’s Soul. “The sword...purify the energy...and use it to destroy the amulet.” As if the attack excited the imprisoned fiend, the fissures in the sky grew in size. The amulet shivered with malevolent excitement. The jewel in the middle upturned to the skies and from it, a beam extended and hit the invisible plane of sky-glass. More cracks manifested and through the windows and gargantuan claws started to peek through, kneading eagerly for freedom.
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