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Outsane

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  1. Outsane

    The World of Savages [FINAL FANTASY XIV]

    Rae kept quiet. She did not want to raise alarm in Marishi, or perhaps the Wendigo that was possessing her body now. Koheel spoke to Rae before he left that early morning while Marishi had left to tend to personal business. "The other, she changes. Skinwalker, now. Kill her. Only way to save us." He whispered, glancing around nervously. Offense sketched itself onto her features as she turned to the Mamool Ja, her body moving away from him as if he had coughed up mucus onto her flesh. "Kill her? I would never kill my wife! She's still there. There's still hope for her. The fru-" She was cut off by Koheel waving his hand at her, silencing her. "Fruit does not exist. Made up. You are delusional. Both of you will die here. Koheel Ja will not!" With that, he stood and quickly snatched up his gear and retreated, running back from whence they came. Rae glared after him, scowling. She had noticed the slight changes, mostly the smell. Her flesh no longer carried that sweet aroma. It no longer held the scent of lavender and vanilla, but of rotten flesh, burning hair, and putrid soil stained with festering intestines. The smell made her repulsed, but she never shied away from her lover's presence. Rae, at one point, had pointed out the smell, but in a passive manner. Marishi had not noticed it. She knew then it was futile to raise awareness of it. Since then, Rae kept to herself about Marishi's transformation. All her efforts went toward recalling the path. At night, she slept, but no dreams came to her. At least, none of the pathway again. She began saying a silent prayer to the Guardian, begging her to reveal herself once more and show her the way. Just as all her other prayers, this one went unanswered. Rae jumped at the touch of the cold hand to her arm. Spinning around, Rae stared wide-eyed at Marishi, half wanting to pull out her Rapiers to fight her, half wanting to run away. She had grown somewhat accustomed to the smell, but the sight of her was truly abhorrent. This was not her wife, yet it sounded like her. Somewhat. Following Marishi's gaze, she spotted the sigils. They looked... familiar, somehow. "I see," she answered. When instructed not to touch anything, Rae nodded and placed her steps carefully. Floating Isles. How long had it been since she had visited there? In this forest, time seemed to quicken. It was night before the sun seemed to reach its peak some days, then it felt the moon made 3 laps across the sky before the dawn came again. As they ventured deeper into the protected area, Rae sensed more... at ease, strangely enough. These sigils brought her tumultuous mind peace. Though, glancing back at her wife, she realized she was the only one of the two who felt that way. A mere few seconds after looking forward again, Rae heard the pained cry of her lover. Jumping and twisting around, Rae was to Marishi's side, ears and tail raised in alarm, unsure how to assist her wife in easing her pain, for she did not know what caused it. Was the Wendigo fully taking over? A voice from the right tore her attention away from her wife and her hands darted to the hilts of her Rapiers, but stayed when she saw the woman and the ewer. Rae watched warily as she spoke to the inanimate object, a brow piqued in both intrigue and confusion. As Marishi spoke, Rae looked back to her, brows now furrowed. "Stop, my love. You are hurt, we must help you." She murmured. This insane woman was not going to be able to assist them, especially with her bowling her pottery around. Just as she was about to assist Marishi in standing, when the woman mentioned her deck. Rae's eyes widened as realization washed over her. She didn't look familiar to Rae, yet the woman claimed to know her. She was about her age, fine clothing that she suddenly recognized as a formal uniform from the school. It was given to their most distinguished students. Sudden memories flashed through her mind. She remembered her face, those eyes. The disgust she held in them were the same as before. The hair on the back of Rae's neck stood on end and her eyes widened. Hime. One of the top students from Sharalaya. She made Rae's life on the isle a miserable hell. Whether it was by her inaction or direct action, she contributed to the mockery of her. Rae resented her for it for so long, but took to forgetting her once she became a disciple of her Red Mage master. Strange, though, she didn't recall her being an absolute lunatic. Rae would have sneered, if she didn't feel the need to get her wife to safety. The crimson sigils--magic characters that once lined the halls of the Sharlayan school she went to--bore down upon the two. Rae knew she needed to get Marishi out of this tangled mess of magic and suffering. Hime offered succour, however. Much to Rae's confusion. She recognized her, she remembered her, yet still Hime would help her. As Marishi fell unconscious, Rae caught her before she hit the snow, then turned her around to lay on her back. As Hime instructed her to stay with Marishi, she looked over her wife's face and knew she needed to do something else. "Time is running out," Rae barked back at Hime, desperation in her tone. "I can't sit here and watch as my wife's body is taken over by those... things! I need to get the fruit. I need to do my part to save her." Before Hime could counter, Rae jumped to her feet and ran. She needed to get back across the river. As harrowing as it would be, that was where the smell was last. Her retracing their footsteps was not perfect, however, and Rae became horribly lost within the ominous jungle. She paused for a break, arms trembling, legs weak. She was lost now. Maybe she wouldn't be able to find her wife again. That smell. Rae's ears perked up and she lifted her head. Sweet, soothing, enticing. Rae's mouth watered as she inhaled the scent again. Memories burst to the front of her mind. The pathway! Quickly glancing around, Rae spotted the rock jutting from beside a tree that she had recognized from before. Rae followed the path instantly, easily as if she walked it a thousand times. Each moment, the smell became stronger and stronger until it was sickeningly sweet. A waterfall. Rae stared a moment, then shook her head. No time to daydream. She needed to fetch this plant to save her wife's life. As she skirted around the waterfall to reach behind it, she noticed the opening was in the middle of the water. Frowning, Rae positioned herself and crouched, then jumped towards the ledge, but missed and plunged into the water completely. As quick as she could, Rae scrambled out, climbing into the cave behind the waterfall. She shook violently, the cold, biting air already seeming to frost over her skin. Rae wailed at the extreme cold, tears spilling down her face that offered the briefest of solace from the bitter chill, but would soon attribute to the intolerable temperature. "For Marishi," Rae murmured, shrugging off her jacket and wringing it out as best she could, then replacing it. It was still horribly damp, but at least it wasn't dripping. She wrapped her arms around herself as she moved forward. The cave grew darker and darker, no light showing on the other side. Rae hesitated, not recalling this as part of the dream, but the smell was overwhelming and she couldn't ignore it. Pushing forward, Rae pulled her Dreadwyrm Rapier from her side and held it out, the magicite crystal upon its pommel glowing a purple light that illuminated the cavern easily. The narrow corridor opened up finally to a massive, humid room that was covered with vines, leaves, and silence. Rae's shivering stopped as she walked into the room, feeling the natural insulation keep her from collapsing from hypothermia. As she entered the room, bulbs on the vines came to life, glowing a faint, yellow-ish green light, thus illuminating the room fully. Rae placed her Rapier back at her side and stared around, awe-struck at the small haven within the hellish land they were in. "Star Child," came a familiar voice. Rae snapped her head to the direction it came, seeing the woman, resting against a large pile of vines. She looked sickly, almost near death. As Rae came closer, the woman spoke firmly. "Do not approach me, Child. I am Sick. What I have would kill you in an instant if you were to touch me." Rae gasped, then glanced around. It was then that she saw it. The plant. It rested upon the top of a fallen tree stump, the petals of blue and black opened wide to allow the green and pink bulb to jut out from them. "Why not take the fruit for yourself, Guardian? It could-" "Oh, my sweet child," the woman said, laughing weakly. "It cannot heal me." She stared quietly a moment, then glanced back to the fruit. Time was wasting there and she needed to get back to Marishi, fast. "Thank you for your sacrifice, Guardian," Rae said looking back to the woman, then turned back and approached the plant. As she reached out to it, she heard vines move. She spun around and saw razor-sharp vines dart at her, whistling through the air as they advanced upon her. Jumping back, she was able to avoid getting impaled, but her coat was stabbed through, pinning her to the ground. "What is this?!" She shrieked, then saw the Guardian lift up from the pile of vines. They fell away to reveal a large, arachnid body. The woman's legs detached from her hips and changed colour, becoming fore-pincers to the arachnid body. The breath left Rae's throat as she saw the towering Arachne. Without another word, the creature lashed out to Rae, its fore-pincer seeking to crush her. Shrugging off the coat, Rae was able to narrowly dodge it, then pulled out her Rapiers. She wouldn't be able to conjure fire here, sadly, as it would trap her and set her ablaze as well. She'd need to out-maneuver the Vilekin. A string of sticky web was shot at Rae, but she hopped back from it, then darted towards the spider-like woman. Raising her Rapiers, she swung them at one leg, but the attack was dodged and she was kicked over by another of the 8 legs. Rae tumbled, but got to her feet quickly, just in time to jump and roll away from another pincer crashing into the ground, causing an indent into the earth. Before the monster could pull her club claw away, Rae sliced at it with her blades, causing a pained and angry shriek to fill the room. Deep, blue blood spurted from the wound and the creature swatted at Rae again, who was ready for the attack. She jumped up and landed on the pincer, then stabbed her blades through, then pushed them apart, opening the wounds wider. She pulled her weapons free before she was thrown off and crashed onto the wall. Rae slid down slowly and gasped for breath, having the wind knocked out of her from the knock back. Scurrying could be heard as the spider woman rushed Rae, rearing back and using her legs to pin her arms to the wall. "Filthy off-lander," the Arachne hissed. "It's time to end this. I've groomed you enough to be my dinner and waited long for this moment. Now it is mine!" Both the pincers raised above Rae's head and prepared to crush her frame, but a quick spell stopped the attack. A blast of crimson and white exploded between the two. Rae shielded her eyes by closing them tight, but the Arachne was not so fortunate. The severely-damaged pincer blasted right off her arm while the other clung on by mere tendons. Once freed, Rae would not cease the onslaught. Rapiers bared, she cut off the rest of the tendons to the spider woman's most dangerous weapons, disarming her of her fore-pincers entirely. She then swung at a leg, hacking it off easily, then stabbed her Sanguinaire into the abdomen, causing hot blood to ooze out onto her hand and arm. With agonized wails, the Arachne jumped back, catching herself onto the wall behind her. "BEGONE! LEAVE! GET OUT OF MY HOME!" She shrieked at Rae, retreating into the vines she hid in before. Rae quickly sheathed her Rapiers and darted to the plant. She quickly pulled the bulb from the stem attached to the black and blue leaves, and jerked it free from its place. Instantly, the pink and green petals exploded open, coating Rae's eyes and the inside of her mouth with dust. She cried out in surprise, throwing the bulb to the ground and shook her head, coughing and sputtering to try and spit out the thick powder as she rubbed her burning eyes. From her right, she head the cackling of the weakened and bleeding Arachne. "You fool! My revenge will be had!" She laughed. Opening her eyes, Rae's head jerked to where the monster was and she drew her Rapiers again. With a gasp, the woman tried to flee, but Rae jumped after her, landing on her abdomen and cutting another leg of hers off and causing them both to fall down. As they tumbled, Rae stabbed both Rapiers into her body, and as they landed, she pierced through her heart. With a gurgle, the Vilekin's eyes glazed over and she laid limp on the ground, blood spilling from her wounds and opened mouth. Climbing off the corpse, Rae breathlessly sheathed her weapons. Her arms hung, dangling at her sides as she walked forward. Leaving the area, she realized she would have to leap through the water again if she were to leave. Moving back, she fetched some vines and used them to lasso a rock above her and swing across to safety. Defeated, Rae walked back the way she came, finding the path to Marishi easily as she followed her nose again. As she walked, however, she could see things from the corners of her eyes. Shadows, shapes, darting between trees. She would turn to face them when she saw them, but every time they would evade her sight. Rae came to a stream and she knelt down, using the frozen cold water to splash alertness onto her face, as well as sip from the clear spring to wash her mouth out and rub her eyes with it. Standing up, she noticed across the stream a creature she had never seen before. Its body was hunched over, eyes beady and red like blood. It bore no mouth that she could see, its limbs were twisted, like the bones had long since been broken and healed into the misshapen place they were in. Its flesh was black and tar-like. Droplets of it fell into the water, splashing and tainting its pristine appearance. Rae glanced down to her hands and noticed the tar-like substance coated them. Gasping, Rae shook her hands, ridding them of the black flesh of the creature, then wiped her eyes with the sleeves of her coat. She spit out the water in her mouth, but thankfully it was clear. Clambering to her feet, the creature made a grotesque cry out for her and reached, its limb stretching across the stream to grasp at her. In a hurry, Rae jumped back and darted off, not wanting the thing to touch her. As she ran through the jungle, following the scent of Marishi, Rae was assaulted by the very inanimate objects she passed. Trees reached out, swiping at her flesh, bruising her. Rocks grew arms and legs and chased her. Shadows became sentient and pulled her down into the earth, forcing her to trudge through the earth to free herself. The pathway became an enemy and, as she leapt into the brush, her skin itched with countless thousands of bugs crawling across her flesh, burrowing in. Brids descended from the sky and picked at her ears, tearing the fur and flesh from them, causing Rae to cry out in pain and surprise. She rushed through the suddenly alive forest, tears streaming down her face, body hot and sweating, breath coming out in ragged, painful gasps. Before her, she spotted a tall tree with a sigil carved into it. Weakly, she dragged her feet towards it and pressed her fingers to the sigil, then collapsed against the trunk and blacked out.
  2. Outsane

    The World of Savages [FINAL FANTASY XIV]

    "Marishi," Rae murmured, her tone filled with caution. Why was she acting like this? The Mamool Ja have been nothing but helpful and kind. Her snarky remarks and snide comments were close to getting them a one-way ticket into getting lost and dying in this jungle. She moved to speak more, but Marishi moved away and Koheel turned to her. Rae met his gaze and frowned. Was Marishi falling victim to the Wendigo? She went to speak, but Koheel spoke first, warning Rae. She nodded. "She will sleep. I will make sure of it. I apologize on her behalf. She truly isn't like this. I'm... worried." Nothing more was spoken on the matter. Immediately they got to work chopping down trees. Rae fretted over Marishi as she took her many breaks, her breathing laboured, her coughing worsening. She wanted to go out and seek medicine, but Marishi would have none of that. At the mention of herbs or sleep, the work would continue. It was almost as though her wife wanted to be weakened physically and mentally. Like being susceptible to an attack would be preferable. Rae stopped attempting to get Marishi to listen to reason, and together they finished the boat. "Rest now. Eat. We barge when dawn fills sky. Is too late. Firehair, stay with sick one. I will return." With that, the Mamool Ja swept up his pike in his hand and vanished into the woods to fetch them food. Rae's hands trembled, her arms felt as though the bones were gone from them. Her back was sore, her neck was sore, her hands were blistered, but she focused on Marishi. Thoughts trailed to the symptom her wife exhibited. She jotted them down. It felt sick to her. Disgusting. Foul. She was writing down the symptoms of her wife rather than seeking out a cure for them. Since when did the work come before her beloved? But she already had the cure. Thoughts went back to her dream. The True Fruit. The one that could negate the effects of the Wendigo, and cure anything, really. It was her only hope, but she tried to recall the path in the dream, but could not. Had she forgotten it? The Guardian had blessed her with the knowledge of where it was. Perhaps it truly was a dream... Koheel Ja returned. Three small rabbit-like creatures in his hand. Snared, their necks broken. Handing one to Rae, they began to skin them while the Mamool Ja ordered Marishi to start a fire, which she did. Once skinned, Rae began to roast the first rabbit while speaking with Koheel. "Are there other stories about these lands? I'll be honest, I thought this land was smaller than Eorzea. By the way you describe it, there are multiple different biomes here and I didn't think it quite possible on such a small continent." "Gods bless us. Give us land that we do not need to leave. Give us all we need here. We do not need Smoothskins trades and wares. Mamool Ja can take care of self. Live off land for generations. Smoothskins think better, but are not. If money goes away, what do Smoothskins have? If walls fall, will Smoothskins live? Smoothskins know not how to live off land. Not well enough. Many die. Sad. Mamool Ja will thrive. Always thrive. Different weather given by the gods. Let us explore world without leaving home. Can still protect sacred land." Came his long answer. Rae noticed the rabbit-creature was done cooking, and pulled it off the spit roaster and placed another one on and began roasting it as well while Koheel sunk his teeth into the still sizzling flesh. "So the gods blessed this land with different biomes so you wouldn't need to get off the continent. Interesting. Why accept trade from us Smoothskins, then? If you don't need from us, why humour our efforts to build a relationship?" Rae asked, glancing to Marishi briefly, then back to Koheel Ja. After a moment to think, he answered. "Safety. Perhaps technology of Smoothskins save us from threats. Easy to live off land, but predators stalk us. Kill us. Scatter us. Maybe Smoothskins save us from evil. Maybe kill all Wendigo. They parasite. Feed off, but never give back. Even kill and eat eachother. Filthy." He made a point to stare directly at Marishi as he spoke. Rae frowned deeply again, then turned back to Marishi, then to the Mamool Ja. If he was trying to start a fight, Marishi would lose. She was in no condition now after the strenuous work they did all day. She hand't even slept yet. Rae quickly finished cooking the last two rabbits and they sat down and ate. It was gamey. She wasn't a fan of the all-too-natural taste of the beast, but she didn't have time to make something ellaborate while also ensuring neither Marishi nor Koheel Ja tore each other apart. Soon, it was time to sleep. Mats spread out and coverings over their bodies, Rae laid down and stared at the embers of the fire. Her thoughts went back to the dream and the pathway to the True Fruit. It had to be real. There was no way it was a false dream. But what was the path? She forgot it already. She drudged through her memories, searching for the way marks, the turns and twists in the road that she did not travel while conscious. "Please, Guardian. Show me the way again." Rae murmured before closing her eyes and drifting off to sleep.
  3. Outsane

    The World of Savages [FINAL FANTASY XIV]

    "Almost like Thralls," Rae murmured, more to herself than to the other two. She worked on a hearty meal. Potatoes, meat, seared vegetables and fruit gathered by their guide. The aroma was mouth-watering. She served the Mamool Ja first, then Marishi, then herself. They ate and Rae listened intently to what Koheel had to say. "Perhaps more Ascian than Primal." She corrected herself. To be a prisoner in one's own body and to witness the horrors that they performed felt a fate worse than death. She ate the rest of the meal in silence. Once it was done, she cleaned, but kept the fire ablaze. It would provide a bit of light and warmth for them in this chilling environment. Rae glanced to Marishi, noting her reserved disposition. She kept to herself, but would glance out to the forest trees now and then. Rae would follow her gaze, but saw nothing. Not so much as a movement. Sympathy rolled within her soul. Marishi never did well in newer environments, and she looked tired. Perhaps it was time to sleep. Rolls out, everyone wrapped in their respective blankets, the trio slept. Rae kept her Rapiers near and her spells readied. Koheel slept on his dagger, and Marishi... There was a smell, an aroma that tickled her senses. It pulled her awake. It wasn't an unpleasant smell, in fact, it was quite delicious. Like a bowl of cut fruit, or crushed petals burning to create an aroma. She sat up and glanced around, following her nose as the scent grew stronger while drifting out from the clearing, deeper into the forest. It was a curious scent indeed. She stood, and walked out of the clearing in silence. The forest was cold, but warm. The wind stirred the trees, but did not blast her bare skin, despite her not having her jacket on... or anything, really. When did she strip from her clothes? "Ah, it must be a dream." She murmured, then continued on. She would see this dream to its end, to find what that smell was. She followed it, through the winding paths of the forest, through the thick brush, under the tangled boughs of the trees, through the cave that was veiled by a waterfall, and there she found a plant. It rested in the middle of the hidden orchard, a light gleaming down upon it. "Dear Child of the Stars," came a voice from around her. Rae spun, searching for its source, but none could be found. "You have come here, despite all odds. You've followed the scent of the True Plant, the Hesporicus. It only calls to those of divine blessing. And none are more divine than yourself, Child of the Stars. I have searched for you, waited, prayed to the Life Mother that you would come before it was too late." "Too late?" Rae asked curiously, a brow piqued in intrigue. She drew nearer to the plant. It was a vibrant pink with green tips. It was like petals of a large flower closed up around its pistil, in the shape of a tear. The leaves around it looked like stars, but were ringed with thorns and sharp ridges. To touch it would surely draw blood. The aroma, however, was blissful. It exuded directly from the small opening where the petals of the fruit pressed together, almost like lips for a kiss. Rae examined it, but did not touch. "This fruit is the last of its kind. My kin have guarded the fruit of this orchard for eons. Now, sadly, it draws to an end. The trees bear no more fruit, the grass becomes sparse, the leaves die, but do not return. I fear a poison has beset this orchard and it slowly claims the lives of all those who dwell within it," the voice went on to say. It was very clearly feminine, and filled with sorrow. "There was once a time this whole land was filled with these wondrous fruits, these miracle-workers, but the Wendigo drove it out. They ripped out the Hesporicus plants at their roots, they threw our fruits into the fire. These fruits work against them. They give those that eat it immunity, they repel those beasts from within the mind of the weakened and bless them with insight, knowledge, and intelligence. All spells become amplified with just a bite. All wounds become quick to heal. All ailments are cured... that is why it is called The True Plant." Rae listened to the voice, then heard a twig snap behind her, which she spun to face the owner of the voice. She was beautiful. A pale woman with hair like moon light, eyes large and dark like the night sky. Her clothes danced around her, like smoke to a blown-out candle wick. She moved gracefully, but with a visible frailty. Rae watched with slight concern, then gasped when the woman fell. She landed beside the plant and let out a pained cry. Rae ran to her side, holding her, picking her up into her arms and turning her around to face her. "Why do you not partake of the fruit? You are so weak, so frail. A guardian should not be as so." The woman smiled, her lips as pale as the rest of her skin, her teeth immaculate, her skin soft, warm, and smooth. She reached up and tenderly stroked Rae's face, brushing the hair from her eyes. "I cannot eat that which I guard, Child of the Stars. I, along with my sisters, have accepted our fate. When each plant dies, so too goes the guardian. My time is near, but I will hold on. I can hold on for you. Come to this orchard. Come, take this fruit of my plant. You will come to need it soon, I believe. I have shown you the way in this dream of yours. I bless you to remember it. I bless you, Star....Child...." ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Rae awoke, tangled in her blanket and coat. Her clothes shifted uncomfortably against her, her nose and ears cold from being exposed to the morning chill, or rather, the chill that lasted the whole night through. As she sat up and rubbed her eyes, she caught a familiar smell. She paused, eyes opening wide and she recalled her dream, the voice, the sights, the path. Her eyes darted to the forest around them, then to Koheel Ja, who was awake and watching her intently. "Koheel," Rae said, her voice cracking. Clearing it, she spoke again. "Koheel, I must ask you a question. Do you know of any plants called... Hesporicus? The True Plant?" The Mamool Ja's expression distorted to confusion and slight disgust. "Koheel never heard of such name. Hesporicus? Sounds as a spell. Why Smoothskin ask?" "I dreamt of it. This delicious-smelling plant... And a woman who guarded it. She was beautiful, but dying. As was this plant that bore a fruit. She... ah. Perhaps it was a dream." Rae stopped speaking when she saw the Mamool Ja's expression quickly grow more and more leery of what she said. "My apologies, Koheel. I sometimes get a little whimsical when I dream. Got my head in the clouds, one could say." She smiled and chuckled, then crawled out of her coccoon of warmth and made her way to Marishi, who looked worse for wear. "My Lune," Rae cooed, kneeling down beside Marishi. She looked concerned as well, seeing Marishi's eyes with dark circles around them. "Are you feeling alright? How did you sleep last night?" She asked softly, not wanting their guide to hear. At the sight of the two speaking softly, Koheel Ja stood. "I gather breakfast food. Use rest of meat from last night. Need enough food. Travel far, but not much farther. River coming soon, will need all day to pass it. We sleep there at the bank. Can fish. Fish good. More tasty. You felines, like panthers. Panthers love fish. You love fish." The Mamool Ja smirked at Rae, who glanced back to him and noted his demeanour. "Are you being racist, Koheel?" She asked, but he turned and walked away, laughing lightly. Rae snorted, smiling as well and turned back to Marishi, stroking her fingers along her cheek. "It seems our guide has a bit of a sense of humour on him." She murmured.
  4. Outsane

    The World of Savages [FINAL FANTASY XIV]

    "Which is why they sent me as well," Rae explained. She sat cross-legged, contrast to her partner. Leaning forward, Rae locked her fingers together and rested her chin on them, her elbows resting on her knees. "Wendigo need to get close in order to take on the skin of their target. They can't get close to some one wielding magic. My Rapiers are not for show. Through them, I can channel magic. However, the idea is to not have to go to such greath lengths as to slaughter the Wendigo, unless your tribe has no qualms with our methods." "Smoothskins know of Wendigo?" Radol Ja stated, both heads speaking in unison, all eyes narrowed and leering at Rae. She did not falter in her response. "Of course we know of them, Chief Radol Ja. We were warned of their existance upon hearing of the mission, while aboard the ship as well as in the port. There were a vast many stories told to us, all of them sharing one thing in common: the Wendigo are not to be taken lightly. They unlike anything we have ever encountered before. The beasts have raised quite a stir among the eastern lands. Sailors would not dare come here unless paid a healthy sum, soldiers demanded the finest equipment and weapons, and the people? Well, they find solace in numbers. Seeing walls up around them, seeing seasoned guards with sturdy weapons, seeing other people appearing safe, they convince themselves it will never happen to them. So long as they stay on the beach where they are supposed to, perhaps it won't." The Chief appeared satisfied with her explanation of the Wendigo, but the blue head spoke quickly. "Smoothskins know of dangers. Know of Wendigo. Still come to explore and map. Come to establish trades. Smoothskins are either brave or foolish." Rae smiled again, straightening up and resting her hands on her knees. "I suppose we shall find out what we are, then. It won't be of any consequence to your tribe whether we are brave or not. We go into the wild with nothing but our weapons and gumption and should we return, blessed are we. Should we die, then another soul to be lost in the abyss. Your tribe will continue on as usual, like nothing ever happened." "Indeed," spoke the other head, turning to the other Mamool Ja within the hut. Their questions seemed to be answered with satisfaction and honesty. There was no reason to question the two further. "Smoothskins have been cooperative. Do not seem hostile. Smoothskins may have weapons back, but must answer more questions. Sailors not tell much of your land. They keep secrets. We Mamool Ja will never leave this land, must guard it, must protect it and it will protect us. Tell us of your land." Rae's eyes gleamed as the Mamool Ja who held her Rapiers returned them to her. She gratefully took them back, bowing in respect and sheathing them while going in to great detail about Eorzea. "I was born in The Black Shroud. It's a densely forested area that's like this forest, but unlike it as well. The smell where I am from is more earthy, like tilled soil after a morning of rain," there was recognition flashing in the eyes of many around them. From the entrance, a crowd had gathered as they listened and stared at the strange newcomers. They had drawn a crowd. "Fruit is not as abundant as within your forest, but that which grows natrually are protected by the Elements - spirits of the forest that embody the core makeup of the world around them. Earth, Water, Wind, Fire. All elements are present within and help flourish the forest. At a young age, I was taken to another land: Sharlaya. An island closer to here than Aldenard. There is where some of the finest Scholars are hailed from. They take pleasure from books and knowledge and the study of magic and the cosmos. While some have their faces turned down to books, others cast their eyes up to stare at the stars. The land is... artificial. None of what remains was of the original design. The Sharlayans care little for nature if it isn't something magical. They presume to know everything of the physical world and seek to learn that of the celestial and aetherial." "What does Smoothskin feel of that?" Asked Radol Ja, caution in his tone. "I disagree with it whole-heartedly," Rae quipped, a scowl on her face. "There is far more of nature that the Sharlayans are willingly blind to. They think with their skant knowledge of what they have observed over the span of one decade they have seen all that the physical world has to offer. They had no idea of the Elementals. They had no idea of the tree in the Central Shroud which an elder Elemental presides within. When I attempted to teach them of more, they explained away my knowledge as... primitive folklore. Not many White Mages are among their ranks, as they are those who conjure spells and restorative magics from the vast pool of aether that is Nature." The tension within the Chief seemed to melt away as he relaxed to Rae's answer. "Tell us more, Smoothskin. Your world seems interesting. You weild swords but claim to use magic. Is this magic from Sharrl-aye?" He spoke the word with hesitation, his tongue struggling to form the word. Patiently, Rae answered his question. "Sharlaya. And no, not entirely. I am a Red Mage. I wield both Black and White magic, but not as potently as one who would specialize in one or the other. My magic hails from the nations of Mhach and Amdapor-" "Amdapor!" Exclaimed Radol Ja. Many of the others turned to one another and whispered at the sudden outburst of their chief. "Amdapor is a nation we know! Smoothskins came here many years ago. Seeking passage. Seeking knowledge. Seeking forbidden things! Our grandfathers and grandmothers write of the Amdapor men! Angry. Evil. They seek curses. Do you work for nation?!" Rae's hands were thrown up and her eyesbrows raised as well, shock on her face. "No! Of course not. You will be pleased to know the nation of Amdapor got what it wanted, and thus what it deserved. The people were wiped out, and those who remained cursed to be small monsters we call Tonberries. Amdapor is no longer a threat to this world," At her explanation, the room seemed to quiet down. Knowing the threat of the Amdapor scholars was gone seemed to put them at ease. "I had no idea other nations had made it out to this land before our own. Have you had many other visitors besides those?" "If any, they did not enter our land by shore," Radol Ja answered, relaxing back against his chair. As he did, food was brought in, as well as drinks. Rae stared at all the prepared meals. There was meat that smelled spicy, fruits that were both charred or simply cut into sections to bite into. Rae leaned closer to one platter where a slab of meat was glazed with a sweet-smelling liquid that oozed onto large, green leafs beneath it. "Eat. Smoothskins are guests, smoothskins may eat and drink." With a smile, Rae obliged the chief and reached to tear into the chunk of meat before her. "We appreciate your hospitality, Chief Radol Ja. This meal look simply wonderful," as she bit into the meat she tore off, Rae had to cover her mouth to keep the juice from gushing out. Flavour unlike any she had tasted before filled her mouth. It was like she had bit into a juicy fruit. Once she swallowed all that was in her mouth, she laughed. "I would love to learn of the spices and herbs you use, as well as how you cooked that! I've never bit into meat so juicy!" One of the heads bit into a leg of something while the other spoke before filling his mouth with a leaf full of berries. "That is the bladder of a Red Crown Zuu." Upon hearing it was part of a bladder, Rae's stomach churned and she stopped herself from putting another piece into her mouth. Her expression dropped to one of dismay as she slowly lowered the hunk she cut off. A few Mamool Ja laughed while Radol Ja smirked, quite pleased with Rae's reaction. "Most Smoothskin don't finish either. Hrah hrah hrah." His laugh was a low rumble, almost a growl. Rae reached over to the charred fruit, knowing it couldn't possibly be something horrendous like a tongue or genital of some strange animal. "Black-eyed Smoothskin does not speak of world. Speak. Tell of your world." Said the blue head before biting into the succulent leg it was gnawing on before.
  5. Outsane

    The World of Savages [FINAL FANTASY XIV]

    "Of course it's snow," Rae murmured, shivering and rubbing her hands over her arms. She was not a fan of the cold. Growing up in the Shroud, she rarely saw the snow and felt the cold. Perhaps a bit of her parents' genes altered her tolerance to the cold, as she hated it more than usual. More often than not did she find herself huddling closer to her wife, shivering, teeth chattering, tail lazily wrapped up around her waist, tucked up under her heavy blanket to keep her warm. It did little to that effect. The chill in the air didn't begin to nip at Rae's senses until they were a month and a half away from reaching the New World. She would wrap blankets around herself, robbing cots of them, only to replace them shortly after a few disgruntled murmurs from the crew met with her ears. Snow never fell, but it felt though at any given moment it would. It was dark. It was cold. Rae was a little more than irritable. She had one bed sheet used as a scarf while another was her coat. Her ears pressed flat against her head and her eyes leered from under her furrowed brows. She looked exactly like a miserable feline would caught out in the freezing cold. Once all the things were in order and the civilians were allowed to leave the ship, Rae walked with Marishi, smiling to her from underneath her two layers of clothing. Mildly, she wondered if setting fire to her blankets an walking around with burning sheets was such a bad idea. There was no assigned camps for anyone but the crew, so Rae and Marishi picked a campfire and rolled out their mats. Rae, ever the attentive chef, prepared a simple soup and re-heated some rolls she made while on the ship. She knew there would be no chance to make rolls such as these once they landed, so she prepared a few within the ship's humble kitchen. A few of the onlookers glanced their way hungrily. Rae ignored them while scooping up some of the creamy soup. It tasted rich, smooth, and warmed the soul through and through. Rae ignored the scalding pain on her tongue as she gulped down as much of the soup she could before it went warm. Belly warm, her body heated up as well and he was left smiling contentedly, humming with joy. When warned to not stray from the fires, Rae scoffed, her sound muffled by the sheet. "Like I would. My Nocturne, I have no idea how you are so comfortable with this temperature. My tail would have fallen off if not for these blankets. My ears feel like icicles," She commented, laughing lightly as she allowed others to partake of the meal she made. They wouldn't be able to take it all with them, after all. As Marishi apologized, Rae smiled warmly to her. "It's not a bother, my dear. I wouldn't want you in a position where you couldn't use your senses properly to guide you. I have no qualms with resting on solid ground tonight. I'd rather the world stop rocking like the ship, anyway." Soon after eating, sleep overtook her and Marishi. She slept near her wife, her hand reaching out from the covers and touching her's. Soon, she drifted off to sleep. Chanting filled her dreams from disembodied voices that she never heard before. A language she never knew, a song she never learned. The chanting brought a feeling of dread within her, but when it stopped, she felt peace slowly return. Once she thought the ordeal had passed, a large had reached out from the darkness and snatched her up. The tapping at her feet caused her to stir. Rae opened her eyes and looked up to her wife, already prepared to leave. She smiled and stretched. Odd. It seemed warmer that day. It didn't take Rae long at all to pack away her roll and pull on the coat Marishi had made for her. She also stored away one of the blankets she absconded from the ship. For good measure. Once their miniature camp was cleaned, they were off. It was strange. The island reminded her of The Shroud, but at the same time, it was quite unlike the Shroud. There were cries from creatures she had never heard before. Smells she had never encountered. Fruits hung low from the overburdened trees and Rae knew most of them. There were a few that she did not recognize, so she steered clear. Thankfully, due to the Limsan sailors' trade, she was able to know what the fruits from this world was and how they tasted. They would not starve on this island, that was for certain. The journey through the forested area was rather uneventful for the most part. The birds would fly overhead and chirp or screech, the wildlife would scurry away before spotted by the biped intruders. Rae and Marishi, at times, would need to use blades to cut through the thickets and vines that covered the discrete path they took. It was well-covered, but there was a path there. Soon, the song of the birds began to quiet down, the animals that darted around became sparse and the the fruits that over-burdened the trees appeared to be more culled and controlled in population. Rae was the first to notice the fruit count going down and made comment to Marishi. "I think we're getting close to either civilization or a gathering site." She cautioned. Before long, movement of another kind would be seen. Larger figures darted between trees. Branches trembled. Twigs snapped. Rae stopped, ears raised in alert and her eyes watching the shadows dart around eagerly. She rested her hand on her Dreadwyrm Rapier, readying to use it for an attack. Perhaps, however, these shadow-lurkers were merely curious of their presence? They possibly had never seen a Miqo'te before and found this one fascinating. What language did they speak? Perhaps some of the earlier settlers of the island had brought the language to them. The movements stopped and Rae could clearly see one body standing not too far, not fearing to hide between the trees. It was one of the island's natives--a Mamool ja. They looked as if a snake grew arms and legs and an antennae. Like an Eft deformed. Rae kept her comments to herself, however. "Hello," she called out, warily, turning to fully address the one brave enough to not hide in the thicket. "We are friends. We do not come to harm you. Can you understand me?" There was a silence that came as the Mamool Ja stared, cocking his head from side to side. "Of course Welool Ja understand. Smoothskins teach us words. Mamool Ja learn. Friend? But Smoothskin puts its hand on weapon. Mouth says one thing, hand does other." His voice was a gruff hiss. With his spear, he pointed at Rae's hand resting upon the pommel of her Rapier, which she dropped to her side. "I ask for your forgiveness, Welool Ja," Rae replied, bowing slightly. "Being a stranger in a strange land puts one on edge. I meant nothing of this affront and I hope you could look past it. I'll not draw my weapon on you and yours, so long as you do not draw yours upon me and mine." Welool Ja seemed satisfied by her words and action, although his face did not show it. "Smoothskin uses fancy words. The Mamool Ja know the Smoothskins that speak with honey in their mouth are deceitful." From somewhere in the canopy of trees, a bow string was drawn. "It's not always that way, you see," Rae said, glancing to the tree tops, then back to Welool Ja. "I am a scholar, unlike those men who you must have seen before. I take more diplomatic approaches. If you wish for some one who speaks plainly, my wife would be happy to oblige." "Why have the Smoothskins come to our land," Welool Ja demanded, his face contorted with anger. "Why invade? Why trespass? Why steal? Why kill? Why here?" Rae spoke up calmly. "We have come to explore, not ki-" She was cut off by the spear-wielding Mamool Ja stamping the spear onto a rock beside him, then pointing the head at her. "Enough from the fire-haired Smoothskin! You speak! You answer!" His spear then turned to Marishi, his face hardened as he waited an answer.
  6. Outsane

    Under Boughs Of Blood [FINAL FANTASY XIV]

    Seeing the blood at Marishi's side, Rae knew what was to come. Her wife was bleeding out slowly. The wound caused by the explosion had gravely wounded Marishi. Not even Alexander could stop death when it was imminent. We was powerful, but not omnipotent. At first, she felt numb. The time of reckoning had come. She was do undo what she had done. She was to face the consequences of her actions, and it would involve her, directly. As Marishi asked her to prop her up, Rae did so, carefully moving her wife, resting her back to her chest. Rae held her, resting her face next to Marishi's, their cheeks pressed together. Marishi's was cold. When instructed to take the wakizashi out for her, Rae did so, slowly. Her hands trembled. They felt as cold as Marishi's did. When asked to help her, Rae's hands moved on their own, holding Marishi's. The tears flowed freely as the dagger aligned to Marishi's chest. Rae, unable to watch, turned her face, burying it into Marishi's neck and squeezing her eyes shut. It felt strange. Rae had pierced bodes before. She had plunged her Rapiers into the chest of men who would seek to end her. She had sliced the arms and legs and necks of those brigands who sought to attack them. Doing this, however, felt... perverse. Wrong. The feel of the blade slipping through between her ribs and plunging into her heart was enough to make Rae almost gag. Her hands shook violently, her fingers numb as she let go of the dagger and slid back, carefully helping Marishi to lay down comfortably, her head on Rae's lap as blood pooled around them. She hunched over, pressing her forehead to Marishi's as she wept silently, her hands absently stroking her wife's face, her hair, her neck. Rae could see her mother weeping at the corner of her eye, but she made no movement to console her, to comfort her. She hurt the most at that moment. The following events were a blur to Rae. As the form of Zodiark vanished, loud cheers rose up to the sky. Word spread fast that the evil Zodiark had left this plane and the world was spared of a worse horror. For now. the ever diligent Scions of the Seventh Dawn warned that the Ascian influence was not entirely gone from this world and the nations would still need to be alert of their presence and look for them in every shadow, around every corner, in every court room. Serreth and Rae carried Marishi's body out from Zodiark after quite some time. By then, the sun was gone and the moon high in the night sky. "We need to take her to Coerthas," Rae murmured, her face red from crying, her skin dry from long-dried tears. "She would want to be buried there, with her family." "Rae Ten," came a voice from beside them. Rae and Serreth turned and spotted a Twin Adders Commander, as well as a handful of officers along with him. "We have orders to escort you back to Gridania. You are being charged with treachery, consorting with the enemy, terrorism and acts of terrorism, and the cause of the mass destruction of the Churning Mists and the Dravanian Forelands." Serreth's ears and tail rose while her eyes widened. "You'll sooner take my daughter from me when I am dead on the ground with her wife! Don't you lay a finger on her or I will break all of them and rip your hearts out and stuff them-" "Mother," Rae said, calmly, quietly, causing her mother to stop her impassioned threatening. "It's alright. This needs to happen. This was all my fault because I was selfish. I shouldn't have done what I had done. There needs to be consequences for my actions." Serreth stared at Rae, eyes filling with tears anew. She was going to lose two daughters only after just getting one back. How could things have gone so wrong? How could that simple invitation have lead to something as horrible as this? "If you would allow me, I would like to bury my wife first before you detain me," Rae said, looking to the general and his officers. They had all lowered their weapons, having prepared for a fight to bring her in. Upon seeing her melancholy, the Commander nodded, giving her the right to do so. Using their ships, they flew to Coerthas. Upon the ship were tools to wrap Marishi and shovels to bury her. It took quite a bit of effort, but Serreth and Rae were able to dig a grave. Blisters covered their hands and they bled. As they lowered Marishi into the ground, Rae felt a wave of new emotion wash over her. Each shovel of dirt was another stab into her heart. Each stab brought upon ten tears without seeming end. Once buried, Rae turned to the Gridanian soldiers and held her hands out to them. Shackled, she was escorted back onto the airship. "Please! Don't kill her. Don't sentence her to death! She's done so much for us. She stopped Odin, she scattered the Red Bellies! She... She had to kill her wife to stop Zodiark. Please, spare her mercy. She's not bad. She had a moment of weakness, and I'm sure you all would have done the same!" The airship's engine started, causing the ship to shudder and a loud humming as well as the sound of the propellers starting up filled the air. The Commander stood still a moment before turning to Serreth as the airship began to leave for Gridania. "I will ensure the council knows of her deeds, but the decision is up to them, Madame." With that, the discussion was over and Serreth moved to the ship where her daughter was, wrapping her arms around her and holding her until the flight brought them to the familiar tree tops of the Shroud, then docked at the Gridanian airship station. A crowd was there to meet them. Once seeing Rae, they booed and hissed at her, throwing things as they could. Her mother attempted to shield her, earning her cuts and bruises from rocks thrown. The soldiers did little to stop them, but only kept them back so they wouldn't swarm and attack her. Everyone knew what she had done. She brought Zodiark to the star and almost caused its destruction. The throng of people slowly dissipated as they drew nearer to the Lotus Stand, and the crowd did not follow as they went through to the older part of Gridania. Once at the stand, she was made to stand before the council. The typical council was not there. This time, the leaders of the great nations--minus Garlemald--were seated at the table, facing her and watching her every move. Serreth was barred entry to the meeting, knowing she would disrupt it when the judgement was given. "Rae Ten," spoke the Seedseer, acting leader of the council. "You have been brought before us with charges faced against you. Treachery, terrorism, acts of terrorism, consorting with the enemy, mass destruction, mass murder... just to name a few. The council here is to ensure you receive a fair trial. On the council are those whom have suffered at the consequences of your actions. The leaders of the great nations, Merlwyb of Limsa Lominsa, Raubahn of Ul'Dah, Aymeric of Coerthas, and I, Kan-E-Senna of Gridania. We have come to hear your side of the story that surround the events of the utter decimation of the Churning Mists and the Dravanian Forelands." "I plead guilty," Rae answered, her head hung low, eyes staring at the wooden planks that she stood upon. There was a silence among the four leaders, all glancing to one another in sudden shock. "I willingly allowed those things to happen, despite the warnings of my mother and the Scions of the Seventh Dawn. I asked for the life of my wife to be spared by turning to an Ascian. I did it knowing the consequences would be dire, but I was selfish and wished it anyways. I wanted to stop at nothing to have my wife back... even now... even now I seek to reunite with her. The penalty for treachery is death, is it not?" She lifted her head, staring pointedly at the leaders, seeking an answer. Aymeric shifted uneasily while glancing to the others. The Commander was still present and spoke up. "It was brought to my attention that Mistress Ten performed great acts of heroism. Not only did she give chase to stop her possessed wife, she dealt the final blow upon her that would send Zodiark from this world. Moreover, she had a hand in the quelling of Odin as well as the dismantling of the Redbellies gang in the South Shroud. This has enabled us to capture and charge nearly all of them and ushered in a degree of safety for all those who would seek to travel through the Shroud now." The council all took on a look of surprise, Raubahn was even impressed. They looked to Rae, sizing her up. Such a small creature could cause so much unrest in such a short amount of time. "We note these brave acts and will consider them when we make our decision." Kan-E-Senna stated, Rae's ears folding downward. She did not want her good deeds to be known. She wanted execution. She wanted peace. Quietly, the council spoke to one another. Now and then, their woulds could be heard, but Rae stared into the water. She could throw herself in there, but it was barely a puddle. She could not drown in it. The dread of feeling as though she would be spared the death sentence grew as the council nodded, one by one, then turned to address her again. "Rae Ten of Gridania. For your acts involving the summoning of Zodiark and the calamity he brought upon the world, you have earned yourself a death sentence; however, for your acts in helping stop a fate worse than what was done, for the good deeds you have done within the Shroud, we have decided to spare thee. But you will not be free to leave. You will remain in the prison in Coerthas until such a time as we deem fit to release you. Lord Aymeric and his soldiers will escort you this night to your new home." Rae's eyes squeezed shut and her hands balled into fists as she was lead away. Tears rolled down her face and her legs barely moved as a shuffle as she was brought to the docks where the awaiting airship to escort them to Coerthas stayed. Once aboard, the ship departed immediately, taking them to the chilly realm of Coerthas, where Rae was taken to a deep, dark, stony gaol. There was a window that allowed the cold air in, forcing Rae to shiver, but she did nothing of it. Perhaps hypothermia would take her if she got cold enough. Dawn was just starting to break, the snow dispersing, the rays of the Sun beaming through the high window. Rae sat on the floor, shivering, still able to see her breath. She stared with hallow eyes at the cobblestone floor that was her new home. The shouts of prisoners echoed through the halls, the sound of metal grating as a door opened from down the hallway. She tuned it all out, ignoring everything and focusing on the sound of Marishi's voice, her laugh, her breathing, her talking, her humming. Never to be heard again in this life. Perhaps this was why they didn't kill her. Perhaps this was why they forced her to live. There were fates far worse than death, and to live an empty, purposeless life in the cold gaol cell of a country she never lived in was the worst of it. Memories haunted her. The terrible kind. No more could she recall her wife's voice and soothing touch, but the memories of her torment at the hands of Zodiark, the feeling of the knife sliding itself through her ribs, the heat of her blood pumping out onto her hands and legs. It burned worse than any fire could. "There she is. Take your time, Lord Aymeric would wish to speak to you after, though." Instructed a guard as he unlocked her cell door, allowing two guests to enter. Rae did not turn to consider them. She did not acknowledge their presence. Instead, she stared intently, letting her mind consume her with thoughts of her failure to save her wife, and the torment she thrust upon her due to her own selfishness. As the guard left, the two remained quiet until the door was closed, giving them somewhat better privacy. "Ahh, she is a strange one indeed," said one, a Miqo'te woman. "When you told me she would have strange aether, I did not expect to see this." "One of the other Scions told me she had mentioned she had Bahamut fighting for her body to fend off Zodiark from possessing her as well," came a male voice, he stepped closer to Rae, then paused before slowly kneeling down, but she did not lift her gaze still. "It's almost as if her aether is Bahamut's. It's discoloured from ours. Purple, flecks of gold, wings. It certainly resembles his. Rae, come. Address us, is that any way to treat your guests?" The woman spoke sternly, causing Rae to lift her gaze and look upon them both. Both had white hair, one had a bandage over his right eye while the other had silvery white eyes. The Miqo'te. The man who wore the bandage bore facial hair and was quite handsome, with kindness in his eyes as he beheld Rae. The Miqo'te had no expression in her eyes, but a small smile on her face as she looked at Rae as if she could see her. "My name is Thancred, and this is my partner, Y'shtola. We are Scions of the Seventh Dawn. After hearing about your ability to resist the possession of Zodiark, we wished to meet you and offer you a chance. Not a chance to redeem yourself or any of that, but a chance to continue your work. You'd be free of this cell, you'd travel the world and fight perilously against Primals. It is our goal to stop the threat of Primals on this land, and we believe, with your help, it is possible." "What do you say, Rae? Will you join us?" The one named Y'shtola asked, holding her hand out to Rae, still smiling. Rae stared between them both, then looked at her hand. Thoughts whirled in her head like a storm. Quickly, Rae considered her options. An urging from within her bade her to take the hand. And so, she did.
  7. Outsane

    Under Boughs Of Blood [FINAL FANTASY XIV]

    Rae didn't react to her words - no. Not her words. His words. Zodiark spoke to hurt her, to weaken her resolve, to cause her torment. She knew he may be telling the truth, she knew he may very well be lying as well. Rae relived that night in her own mind, revisited the old pains she felt, the old wounds being ripped open in her mind and soul. There was nothing more that she wanted than to plunge her Rapier through his throat. It was as he said, though. If she killed him, Marishi died as well. She didn't react when the skies above were filed with the multitude of airships, circling around like buzzards above a corpse. They waited. Too well did they know the extent of Zodiark's power now. Having seen countless of their comrades die at his hands with a mere flick of the wrist, it was enough to keep them at bay. They stared with curious eyes at the two below. Some used telescopes, others simply squinted, barely making out what was to be seen. Rae heard the shouts of the Garlean commanders, of the Alliance captains, ordering to ready the cannons to strike when the moment was right. Her focus was entirely on Marishi. Any slight movement and she could be dead. She knew there was no taking on a God. She knew there was no way she'd make it out of this alive. Bahamut or not, he was within her, not outside her. He could only do so much and she had seen the extent of his power. It wasn't until Marishi dropped to her knee, howling. Within that pained cry, Rae detected something else. Her ears picked up the familiar tone of hr wife's voice. She moved to run to her side, but stopped herself. Zodiark was still very much a threat. However, with Marishi fighting--for surely that was what was happening--then she might have a chance. Perhaps she could assist in tipping the scales. Break the concentration of the God and give the mortal a chance to take advantage. Just as Rae began casting a spell, she noticed a shift in the area. A pull of aether directly concentrated to one spot. Tearing her eyes off Marishi, she stared at Alexander. Her mother had gone in, but she didn't think this was her solution. There would be no way she could get out of there in time. Maybe that's what was necessary, though. Her hands dropped to her sides, still gripping the Rapiers. This was a way she and Marishi could be together. As long as they were together, she didn't fear death. She didn't fear what was on the other side. She didn't worry of what was before them, for she knew they could make through it together. Closing her eyes, Rae leaned her head back, welcoming the end. Just when she felt the heat of the blast, she was suddenly met with a strange chill. Like a ghost walked through her. Then, the sound of outside was replaced with cogs turning, gears grinding, metal clanking, steam hissing, a distant humming vibrating everything slightly. Rae opened her eyes slowly, suddenly realizing she wasn't dead but, in fact, within the Primal Alexander. She hesitated a moment, half wondering if this was the afterlife, but when she saw her mother, Rae knew what happened. The two embraced, Rae wrapping her arms tightly around Serreth, her mother doing the same in return. "Mother, I don't know how you did it, but thank you." She pulled away suddenly, glancing around, then saw Marishi on the floor. Her first instinct was to run to her side, but Serreth stopped her a moment. It was then that she collapsed and Rae along with her, trying to keep her mother standing. Panic set in. She wondered if her mother had over exerted herself, but her simple statement quelled that worry. Alexander left her to be with Marishi, to help her stay alive. When it was safe to do so, Rae walked forward, slowly moving towards Marishi. The clacking of her boot heels to the metal floor echoed in the room until it all faded into a dull ringing in the background. Rae knelt down to Marishi's side, taking one hand in her's and her other hand slipping under Marishi's head, resting it onto her lap. She waited, still, her breath short and shallow, her heart pounding in her ears. Rae stared intently at her wife, looking for signs of her returning to them. Although perhaps t wasn't so bad if she did not. Marishi, of all people, deserved a break. She deserved peace. And Rae, selfishly, denied her that. A mistake she would regret for the rest of her own days. For now, however, all her thoughts were consumed with Marishi and the silent prayers that Alexander was able to sustain her when he converged with her once more. "Marishi," Rae whispered, her voice seemed to break the silence that surrounded them, like she spoke into an amplifier for her voice. "Marishi, wake up, my Lune, my Moonlight. Come back to me, my love." Rae cooed, leaning her head down and kissing Marishi's forehead. She pulled back, holding still, hand gripping Marishi's tightly, her body shaking slightly with anxiety.
  8. Outsane

    Under Boughs Of Blood [FINAL FANTASY XIV]

    Why were they all so determined to kill her? Rae struggled to fight against her mother's hold on her. Seeing the dagger embed within Marishi's chest sent sharp jolts through her own as though she had sympathy pains from witnessing it. Still, she was beyond way over her head in this. There was no measurement to accurately describe how above this all was to her. A literal God inhabated her wife's body. And, it was just as she had said. This was her fault. Had she not so desperately sought the comfort of having Marishi back, she would not have allowed this demon in a merciful god's clothing to lay a hand on her wife. And to make matters worse, she eternally struggled with her own battle of fending off Zodiark as he threatened to consume and torture her soul as well. She brought this ultimate destruction upon the world. She caused the death of all those countless many in the Forelands and the Churning Mists. Would it be better that she gave in to the assault upon her spirit then she would not feel this torment. An anger welled up within her. Not her own, but Bahamut's. The searing rage caused her cheeks to burn and her muscles to tense. The very thought of giving up so enraged him that it manifested physically, affecting her body. "We have to go. If we stay here, Marishi will get to that... Mah-to-ah's Cave... Then all will be lost." Serreth said, standing up and heaving her daughter to her feet by the collar of her shirt. "Matoya," Rae corrected her mother, the rage passing as she moved quickly to the falcons that perched on the ground nearby, obediently waiting for their temporary masters. She climbed onto the back of one while her mother did the other. "She's like a hero among the Scholars on Sharlaya. She's also the guardian to a great secret that they've struggled to keep, but I fear Zodiark may know what that secret is." Before they could take to the skies, the remaining airships flew passed them. Rae and Serreth stared up into the sky as they moved after Marishi. Rae glanced to the fallen destruction of mangled bodies and airships. A few of the alliance airships still stood, more Garlean ones than those, but still not a threatening number to a God, no matter how crippled. Rae remained still, the gravity of the situation hitting her harder now. Dismay, shame, embarrassment, horror, depression. All worked together to hold her in place. Serreth glanced to her daughter quizzically, then dismounted her falcon and moved to her side, touching her hand. "Rae, we must go. If we do not, I fear the whole world will end." She whispered urgently. Tears formed in Rae's eyes as she shut them tight, letting the droplets pool out and run down her face. "Maybe... Maybe we should let it. What are we to a god? He could will us dead and it would be done. You've seen what Zodiark can do." Her will to fight weakened. Another episode rang at her heart. This time, she welcomed it. A slap across the face brought Rae back to her senses. Shocked, she stared at her mother who glared at her with a righteous fury in her eyes. "Don't ever say that," she growled, her voice shook slightly and cracked a little. "Don't you ever say that again! Giving up.... giving up was the worst mistake of my life! Rae, when you were a small girl, those Sharlayans took you from our home. It... it wasn't by coincidence. I allowed them. I told them of you, of your skill, of your power. I told them to take you from me. To train you. I... I couldn't..." Tears welled up in Serreth's eyes as well as Rae stared at her in astonishment. Serreth's gaze never left Rae's, however. "I gave you up. In my misery, in my sorrow, I felt bitter towards you. I felt betrayed. I felt... horrible things a mother should never feel towards her child. Ashamed, I sent you away from me. I thought it'd be easier, but my life was harder. Had I been a mother, perhaps it wouldn't have been so difficult. I was selfish. I was cruel. I was wicked. Not a day passed that I didn't think about you. I knew I made the wrong decision. I knew it would ruin your life. I gave up! Never have I regretted something so immensely as I do that! If I could turn back time, I would strike myself down sooner than giving you up! Do not make my mistake, Rae. Do not follow in my footsteps. Do not give up on Marishi. I... I feel she is still in there, and I know you can feel it too. Do not take after your old mother. Be the stronger woman that I know you are." Tears flowed freely between the two. Though Serreth's voice strained and cracked, it never faltered. She clutched onto her daughter's hand and spoke until she was breathless, then sucked in a jagged breath of air and spoke more. Once done, Serreth dropped her head, burying it in the feathers of the patient falcon. Rae stared down at her mother, a strange sensation running through her body. Her childhood was her mother's fault. So much happened. So many things, so many unfair things happened to her. All could have been avoided had her mother done one thing. Had she just... never given up. Things would be different. Too different. Was Rae unhappy with her life? Did she regret any part of it? Everything that happened lead to some of the happiest moments of her life. Meeting her Master, becoming a Red Mage, learning of the stars, seeing the awe-inspiring libraries of Sharlaya, rubbing shoulders with the most intelligent people of this world, meeting Marishi, their wedding... Something within her changed. Rae felt the pain of Zodiark's influence subside. She felt his presence slowly withdraw as Bahamut, emboldened and empowered, dealt a deadly strike, pushing his presence out of Rae. The feeling left her empty, allowing room for her own emotions to flood in. Rae swallowed her tears, placing her other hand on top of her mothers', causing her to lift her head and look to Rae. She smiled down to Serreth, tears still flowing down her face. "If you hadn't given up, then I wouldn't be who I am today, and I am proud of who I have become," Rae told her mother. "But if I give up now, then I'll never get to continue to live how I am. Nothing will ever get better, and there's always ways for things to get better. Come, mother. Let's go save my wife." The two stared back at one another a moment before Serreth turned, jumped onto her falcon's back, and they both set off. Upon arriving in the Hinterlands, the two noticed the airships moving to Matoya's Cave, lead by an Alliance airship. Perhaps they would defend rather than attack. A smart move. "We need to find her and impair her more," Rae called out to her mother, who nodded in response. She seemed distracted. They scouted the land carefully, searching for movement, for life beyond that of the beasts that roamed. They drew nearer to the river, and Serreth banked left. Rae turned, surprised at her mother's sudden movement. At first, she believed she had seen Marishi, but it was then she realized she was turning to Alexander. Did he still reside within her? Rae watched as her mother's falcon landed, then she sent it away, and climbed into the opening in the foot of the great metal construct. She would trust her mother and leave her to her devices. In the mean time, she would find Marishi. If she was going to fail stopping her from reaching the cave, then she would do so through death. After quite some time, she finally spotted Marishi. Weaving between the ruined homes of the old Sharlayan settlement, the injured body of Marishi moved. Silently urging the falcon to land, it perched on a caved roof, allowing Rae to dismount. Drawing her Rapiers, she conjured a spell of thunder, sending it out at Marishi, striking the ground before her. The next spell was a blast of fire, which she caused the house beside her to explode, sending rubble and debris falling onto the pathway all around, blocking Marishi's path. Rae knew she would be no match. She knew her spells would be simply erased if she sent them at Marishi. Instead, she would use the environment around them to hinder Marishi, to hurt her, to stall long enough for the Alliance and Garleans to fortify and protect the Antitower. "Some god you are!" Rae shouted over the falling wreckage of her destruction. "A mere mortal and a Primal can drive you out from one's body. I thought you were Zodiark! The one we all feared! Do we fear for nothing, then? Do we fear a false god? You won't get what you want this day, Zodiark. Nor ever! Come, show me your so-called power. I've been underwhelmed by your display as of late!" Inwardly, Rae prayed to Bahamut, asking for help. While the gods were absent, Bahamut never was.
  9. Outsane

    Under Boughs Of Blood [FINAL FANTASY XIV]

    The Scions of the Seventh Dawn. They were a small force of powerful warriors whose specialty were the monitoring of the Beast Tribes, the Garlean Empire, and the fiends of darkness, the Ascians. Many among their ranks held the gift called the Echo. The Echo blessed them with a number of gifts. The ability to understand all languages, the ability to travel through the Aethernet, the gift of visions--whether of the past, present, or future, it all varied. Many more such gifts were blessed with those of the Echo, and most didn't have all these gifts; however, each Scion had one gift each that was far more potent than visions or fast travel: resistance to Primals. Those with the Echo could not become Thralls to Primals. The Mothercrystal specially blessed these men and women with this gift that they might fight against the Primal threat which would drain the world dry of its Aether if left unchecked. These warriors were turned to when the Beast Tribes summoned their deities or when the nations required assistance in thwarting the plans of the Empire. Ever since the Calamity, the three great nations were unable to defend themselves from the threat of the Garlean Empire. With the help of the Scions, they were able to protect their nations that were barely hanging on to stability by a thread. Their primary focus, however, was dealing with the Ascian threat, as they were acutely aware of their presence and influence in this world. A small team dedicated themselves to tracking and determining where the fiends would strike next, but without much luck. They escorted Rae and Serreth to a small headquarters they set up in Gridania. Once within the secluded tent, they briefed Rae and Serreth. "We believe we are drawing to an end of the sequence of cataclysmic events that the Ascians have designed to rock the foundation of the world," explained one Scion as he walked around a table, a map in the middle of it. He pointed to pins on the map, explaining the details of the devastation that the Ascians wrecked upon those regions. Each one ranging from near invincible Primals being summoned to mass murder of whole islands. Each disaster more depraved than the next. Rae swallowed hard, feeling as though they were going to drag her into something way over her head, but her mother grasped her daughter's hand, shooting her a comforting glance from the corner of her eye, and helping Rae to steel her nerves. "We need you to tell us what exactly gave you the power to resist Zodiark's power," commanded one Scion. Rae stared at them all, unease choking the voice in her throat. When her answer wasn't forthcoming, the Scion sighed, slumping his shoulders. "I promise we'll not burn you at the stake for being abnormal." Rae smiled weakly, knowing he would not be able to keep his promise when he learned the truth, however, she still must confess it. If it would help Marishi, she would admit all her secrets. "Please note how I have never been a problem to the safety of the world. You never even knew I existed until this day," Rae pointed out, reminding them that she was essentially innocent and harmless with her 'affliction'. When everyone remained quiet, waiting for her explanation, Rae continued. "A fraction of Bahamut's aether is housed within me, as a result, so is his consciousness. In essence, I am already a thrall to another Primal. Even now, Bahamut struggles to fight Zodiark for dominion over my soul. The... episodes I experience where my body grows weak and painful is when Zodiark is striking against Bahamut in a particularly violent manner, which threatens to destroy my body physically." There was a heavier silence that followed her explanation as the Scions glanced to one another. For a moment, Rae thought they would not believe her. Then, the Scion leading the meeting spoke. "Well, I suppose I wasn't expecting something quite like that. So you are a thrall to Bahamut already?" "In theory, yes," Rae explained quickly, hoping to dispell all worries that she was a threat to them. "He has never taken control of my will, however. I... It would be more appropriate to say I am like a house unto Bahamut." "Dalamud, perhaps." One Scion observed. Serreth shot a glare to the Scion, who kept his mouth shut after that. The leader also shot the Scion a look, then turned his attention back to Rae. "What benefits or detriments does that relationship have for either of you?" He asked. Rae thought a moment, perplexed. She never thought of that. There didn't seem to be any downside to having Bahamut's aether intermingled with hers, but there was no real advantage to it either, besides him fighting for her against the world's worst enemy. "I... I don't know. Beyond him fighting for my soul, I have seen no benefit nor consequence to his presence within me." The other Scion scoffed, stepping forward. "She's a wild card, then. We can't leave her to her own devices. She has willingly sought the help of Zodiark and has already welcomed the essence of a Primal that nearly caused the entire undoing of our world within her body. This woman clearly has a thing for being possessed by evil. We should kill her and her wife-" A chair was knocked to the floor and suddenly strong hands closed around the throat of the Scion speaking, cutting his words off with a gagging sound as Serreth stood, silencing the offending Scion. All remained still, stunned at the sudden movement of the older Miqo'te. "If you wish to kill my daughter, you'll have to fight me first. Not only will you be attack an innocent woman, but you'll be hard-pressed to incapacitate her. I'll not hear another threat uttered to my daughter. If you cannot control your murderous intentions, then get out of this tent." Letting the man go, he gasped for air and touched his throat. Once gulping down enough air, the Scion left before he was accosted a second time. As Serreth returned to her seat, Rae's head spun. Her heart palpitated and she had to clutch onto the table to keep herself from falling over. The colour drained from her face and suddenly the earth shook. Poles and shelves were knocked over, people outside screamed in fright at the sudden quaking of the ground. Rae breathed heavily as she saw her vision darkening. It felt as though something were leaving her. Her mother wrapped her arms around Rae's shoulders, steadying her until the earth ceased its vibration and all was still and quiet. Then, a voice echoed through the skies. Marishi. Touching his ear, the Scion listened to his Linkshell as a voice spoke to him frantically. The expression on his face turned grave as he continued to listen while Rae regained her composure. Once the report was finished, he dropped his hand and looked to Serreth and Rae, frowning deeply. "It would appear as though the last catastrophic event has happened: The Churning Mists, the home of the great Wyrm Hraesvalgr and the Moogles, has fallen to the ground below, crushing the Forelands beneath. Very few survivors remain, and those that do are faced with a land that has been horribly mutated and disfigured by the falling of an entire continent upon it." A heavy blanket of mortified silence settled over those within the tent still. Rae's eyes widened and her mouth opened. Did Marishi do this? Was she truly capable of such evil? Quickly, Rae got to her feet and rushed outside the tent, her mother shortly after. "Where are you going?" Serreth asked. "To find my wife and end this," Rae answered. She had no idea how to get to the Dravanian Forelands from Gridania. She started to leave the city when the Scion grabbed her arm, stopping her from walking forward. "Please, let me go. I started this mess, I must finish it!" Rae pleaded. She was in shock. Her emotions and thoughts came to a screeching halt and were a jumbled mess. "You'll never make it there before Zodiark loses interest and seeks another plane to destroy to draw your attention," the Scion answered. "Come. We have the city states' airships at our command should we require them for official business. This is official enough, allow us to escort you to the land that your wife has destroyed." Staring into the eyes of the Scion, Rae turned and followed him, Serreth along as well. Rae glance to her mother, then reached out, touching her shoulder. "You needn't come, mother. It will only kill you. Please, stay here, stay in the Shroud and rebuild your life again." "And let my daughter run off to be killed? No. If you die, I go with you. Our bloodline ends the day you die, daughter, and I'll not grieve another family member," Serreth insisted. In her mind rang Alexander's voice to Serreth alone. "And I shall lend thee my strength to stop the evil that threatens to kill Rae. With our combined strength, if we are to fail, then death is the only failure." He said. Serreth silently agreed with the Primal's voice, finding it alarming, yet comforting to feel his presence still with her. Determined, loyalties sworn, and the acceptance of certain death within them, Serreth and Rae marched to the Airship landing where the Scion explained the situation and was granted passage to the Hinterlands where they would find means to fly to the fallen ruins of Zenith. It was upon the back of a falcon that Rae flew over the abandoned Sharlayan empire of the Hinterlands and to the now decimated Forelands. Mountains where mountains did not exist before rose up from the ground. Craters the size of cities dotted the land. Forests were burning, rivers were clouded and undrinkable. Bodies littered the landscape like blades of grass. The howls of those who had survived but at a great cost filled the air, echoing in the ears of all those who heard. Rae's eyes stopped when she spotted the telltale statue of the once glorified Shiva. Guiding her falcon, Rae drew closer to Marishi, then called out to her. "MARISHI!" She screamed into the wind. Once close enough to the ground, she dropped off the back of the falcon, allowing it to fly away from Marishi, as her presence sent chills down Rae's own spine and caused the avian great distress. Once she hit the ground, Rae rolled and quickly got to her feet, then drew her Rapiers. She was several feet away from Marishi, giving her the advantage. She was ranged, whereas Marishi was not. Although, with her new powers, Marishi could be anything. "Marishi, stop this. Stop obeying Zodiark. It doesn't have to be this way, we don't have to fight. Just resist." Rae implored, seemingly unaware of Marishi's true situation.
  10. Outsane

    Under Boughs Of Blood [FINAL FANTASY XIV]

    "Marishi!" Rae screamed as she spoke to her. Panic set in at Marishi's words. She didn't want this. She didn't want Marishi to go, she didn't want to lose her wife after bringing her back. "MARISHI NO! DON'T GO! Please don't go, oh gods please don't leave me Marishi, please Rishi. Please, please don't go..." She struggled frantically against her restrains as she heard the door close. She couldn't let Marishi go away like this, not without seeing her, talking to her. There was no convincing a person on the cusp of becoming a thrall to simply not become one, but maybe there was something that could be done. Rae's thrashing didn't stop until the sound of her Rapiers clattering to the ground could be heard. Marishi. "Marishi, stop. Don't leave. I can hep you. There... there has to be a way to undo this." Rae said, but there was no response. She heard the sound of her footsteps leaving the room, which inspired more spirited flailing about as she tried to free herself from the bindings. The bolts that held the shackles finally loosened and fell, freeing her right wrist. She quickly unfastened the leather around her ankles, then her other wrist, then jumped off the bed. Her right wrist still bore the chain and leather bound to her arm, but she was in far too much a hurry to worry with it. Scooping up her Rapiers, she darted down the stairs, leaping over the body of the guard and rushing towards the Aetheryte. A crowd of people gathered as they watched Marishi teleport away. From the Twin Adder Barracks ran soldiers who attempted to catch her, but were unable to before she rushed away with the aid of the Aethernetwork. They stared at the crystal, then to Rae, who stared at the crystal as well, then to them. One instantly recognized her and shouted in alarm. "The other one! She made a pact with the Ascians!" Rae's eyes widened as they drew their weapons and she held her hands up, stepping back as the crowd of people gasped and cried out in terror. "Wait! I didn't! I couldn't. He... Th-Their god refused me! Please! I'm still normal!" Rae called as they ran towards her. A sudden pang in her chest caused her to fall to her knees as she clutched where her heart was. Voices filled her head, Zodiark was yelling at her, screaming. Other voices as well. Perhaps the other Ascians? Were they all battling Bahamut? The episode passed quickly. When she snapped out of it, the Elder Seedseer stood before her. Rae lifted her gaze to her and for a brief moment, the two held one another's gaze. After what seemed like an eternity, Kan-E-Senna spoke. "Free her. She poses no threat to us or our kin. I do not sense a threat within her." The guards, shocked, backed away from Rae, who got to her feet. "Please, my wife. Marishi. She left. She teleported away. I need to find her. I need her... I need to save her," Rae blurted out, tears forming in her eyes. This was her fault. She did this. Had she but denied the Ascian, he would not have taken Marishi. She would be at peace, but in her moment of grief, she let her emotions get the better of her. The Elder Seedseer looked upon Rae with sympathy. "There is nothing we can do to save your wife. She has become part of Zodiark's army. She is as a thrall-" Her words were suddenly cut off by Rae throwing herself upon her, clutching her gown and burying her face into Kan-E-Senna's bosom. Her face was wet with tears and her voice strained as she struggled not to sob helplessly. "Don't! Don't say it! There must be something!! My wife isn't gone. She's not! She's still there..." Rae stayed there a moment as Kan-E-Senna slowly placed one arm around Rae, patting her back until a voice drew Rae's attention. "You're finally awake," Serreth said sternly. She stared at her daughter with hard eyes, brows furrowed and a frown on her face. Rae's ears dropped as she recalled how she had acted, almost killing her mother. How long had it been? Days? Hours? Her mother had her hands planted on her hips as she bore holes into Rae with her eyes until her expression softened slightly and she held her arms out to Rae. "Come here, daughter." She murmured, to which Rae went to Serreth, wrapping her arms around Serreth's back while Serreth held her daughter close and whispered. "I know all-too-well the pain you suffer, my dear. I, too, lost the one person I ever loved. I know the dark places your mind went. I know the desperation. I know the pain. I am your mother and I am here for you, Rae." The two held onto each other a while. The crowd began to disperse and the guards returned to their barracks, knowing they were not needed there. Giving them a moment, Kan-E-Senna waited until the two moved apart before she spoke. "Rae, is it? I must ask, how were you able to withstand the influence of Zodiark? You must have changed your mind about allowing him to imbue you with his impure power." Rae, looking to the Seedseer, pursed her lips and turned back to her mother, staring at the ground while her brows knit together. Could she tell Kan-E-Senna? Would she try to imprison her? Would she try to have her killed? She was no thrall, she had her own free will, but she still housed Bahamut within her soul. His aether intermingled with hers. When no answer came from Rae, Kan-E-Senna sighed quietly, noting her reluctance to answer. "Please, you may speak to me of anything. If we know, it might help us to aid your wife." She implored. Rae's ears rose and her eyes lit up with hope. "I... I'm being protected. By a Primal, no less. And Marishi. Marishi was protected by a Primal, too! Alexander vowed to keep her safe and gave her youth eternal. Perhaps if we speak to him, if we ask him to help-" Rae began, but her mother's expression darkened. "Rae," she said cautiously. Her daughter turned to look at her. "Alexander left Marishi and came to me. I was able to defeat Odin as a result. With Alexander amplifying my power, I could cut down Odin. In doing so... that's...." Serreth's sentence trailed off, but Rae drew the right conclusions. Marishi truly did die trying to save Rae. And this, this is how Rae repays her. By bringing her back a shade of her former self, a slave to the vile Zodiark. "Which Primal has the power to withstand the strength of Zodiark?" Kan-E-Senna asked, though she thought she knew which one exactly, judging by the Rapier at Rae's side. Rae corrected the Elder Seedseer. "It's not his full strength. As he appeared to me, I knew he was weaker than usual. I believe he's exerted himself, but the fact he pulls so hard to recruit Marishi, and he still fights to control me, I believe he's about to unleash something large. I fear... I fear Marishi might bring about a great undoing." Kan-E-Senna listened to Rae, a frown upon her otherwise expressionless face. "Then we must kill her." She stated flatly. Alarm set across Rae and she whipped around to face the Leader of Gridania. "NO! You mustn't kill her! Just stop her! She doesn't need to die!" "But she was dead. You undid the method of the world and brought back that which was dead already," the SeedSeer explained firmly. "What has been undone must be redone." Rae was ready to rebuke, but a Scion approached the group, eyeing Rae down. "Forgive me for eavesdropping. I couldn't help but hear the discussion. Your wife, the one given to Zodiark, you believe she's going to do something to tip the scales? What proof do you have of this?" Speechless, Rae looked away from him, uncertain how to answer his question. Serreth, however, spoke up in her defence. "You question the woman--whose spirit was ripped from her body and forced to bear witness to the single entity that wishes to deconstruct this world to usher in His arrival--of proof that she knows this? You ask her to provide you with tangible evidence of her conversation with the Evil One on a plane that none of us have heard of nor been to ourselves? Tell me, Scion. If there's a way to prove this, then tell it to us! We shall gladly show you. My daughter is not a liar, and you should feel ashamed for asking such an impossible request." Rae looked to her mother, grateful for her support. The Scion cleared his throat and stood straighter as a reaction to being chided. "I assure you, madam, I am not seeking the impossible from your daughter. I apologize for misrepresenting my purpose for approaching you," he answered, quickly containing the situation. "I merely wish to learn more of your information, to find out what you know, for it seems quite consistent with what we have discovered..." Rae's ears perked up, but as they did, a pang struck her heart and she clutched her chest again, gasping and crumpling to the ground. Zodiark struggled hard to take control. The feeling like a train ramming into her chest. She gasped, her face contorted with pain while the Seedseer ran to her aide. Upon touching Rae', she could sense the battle within her. She could see the faint figure of Bahamut flying about in the infinite abyss while attempting to strike against the stony figure of Zodiark. Kan-E-Senna gasped, pulling back from Rae and staring at her with surprise and worry. The episode passed then, leaving Rae sweating and breathless and her mother, confused and frightened, holding onto her. "The battle still wageth within you," Gridania's leader murmured. Rae could not bring her gaze to meet her's, feeling shame in the fact that she could not expel Zodiark's influence from herself and requires the aid of the Primal that caused the Calamity to keep her from tipping over the edge. "We believe Zodiark is upon his final stages to undo this world and bring him back here with full power," the Scion said quietly. "Our associates and fellow Scions have kept eyes and ears open and have noticed an increase in Ascian activity. While the Primals have been quiet, Aether has been warped, distorted, and distributed unevenly throughout the land. Some parts of the land are overflowing while the flow of Aether ebbs in other parts of the world. Something large is coming, and if this woman believes her wife is going to be the root cause of it all, we must stop er." "Don't kill her, please," Rae begged again, her voice shaking and weak. The last strike was heavy upon her Aether, having physical effects upon her. "She didn't want this. It's my fault. Please, don't let her be killed. There has to be a way to save her, to stop her from doing whatever it is she's about to do."
  11. Outsane

    Under Boughs Of Blood [FINAL FANTASY XIV]

    The world seemed to stop. As the Ascian choked her, pressing his lips to hers, Rae's hands clutched onto his arm, her nails pressed against his flesh, but not digging in. She entered a daze at that moment. She felt her spirit leave her body. She felt herself enter a Void in the world where no corporeal form could enter. She hovered in the infinite blackness. No ground to stand upon, no walls to lean against, no ceiling to shield her head. Only darkness, an infinite, all-consuming darkness. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- "Child," The voice spoke. It came from no place, but everywhere. It was the air she breathed. It was the fibres of her clothes. It was the molecules in the space. "Child of Man. Lost One. Thou hath given thy liberty, thy choice of worship unto me. Thou knowest what I do. Thou have learnt of it, and ye shall still submit to servitude to Zodiark? I hath borne witness to thy contempt, thy hatred, thy repulsion to mine servants' acts. Is truly a life such as that worth throwing away thy disposition? A life is the price to pay to purchase thy soul?" Rae felt panic within her. Without Marishi before her, her resolve had left. She felt as if this were the wrong choice, but it was done. She was before the Evil One, Zodiark. His presence bearing down on her, Rae felt the weight of her choices drag down her heart. What was she to do now? What's worse, she made her wife a decision as well. Selfishly, in fact. Perhaps death was the better solution. Marishi suffered enough in the world. To selfishly demand she stay with her until the end of her own days... Which would be worse? Her living a life without Marishi, or Marishi forced to watch the very last of her loved ones die? There was a rumble of a laugh as Zodiark sensed Rae's sudden hesitation. "Thou doth hesitate! Where was thy spirit from before? Where was thy gumption? Now thou wouldst cower before the True God. As thou should. There is no place among my ranks for second-guessing, for cowardice, for uncertainty. Thou shalt be punished. Thou shalt learn where thy loyalties shall and must always lie!" With that, Rae felt His presence. She whirled around just in time to spot the large, mortifying stone sculpture that was the imprisoned Zodiark. Hands crossed over his chest, unseeing eyes that bore into her soul, an overwhelming energy that choked the breath from her lungs. Rae was soon to collapse from just his presence alone. From his chest glowed a fiendish purple light that grew larger and larger until it shot at Rae. Helpless to stop it, she squeezed her eyes shut and braced for the impending suffering that would follow. Instead, the sound of the wind gusting filled her ears as well as the beat of wings. The light was deflected, negated by another powerful presence, one that dwarfed Zodiark's. Opening her eyes and turning her head back, she saw Bahamut. His back turned to her, but he appeared in full form. Not fragmented like in the destroyed shards of Dalamud that were scattered across the land, not as a spiritual entity, but the tangible, threatening, and very deadly form of the terrifying Elder Dragon-turned-Primal. The hairs on Rae's neck stood on end and her ears were pointed upward as well. She was tense, frightened, and awe-struck. "Leave her, Dark Fiend. This mortal has no place among thy ranks. She never shall serve thee." "Bahamut! You failed experiment! You bastard son! Why hath thou appeared within my realm?!" Zodiark seemed far less pleased with Bahamut's unprecedented appearance than with Rae's sudden reluctance to be one with him. The Elder Dragon's growl send rippling waves through the air, the sound reverberated within Rae's chest and caused her heart to palpitate. She struggled to breathe as she watched the large creature shield her from Zodiark's wrath. "I am here by Rae. Many years ago she attuned to my aether upon the flats of Carteneau. That day forth, she hath been mine and mine alone. Thou cannot maketh her thy thrall for she is already MINE!" The last word was hit with such emphasis, with such force, that it sent a shockwave through the area. Zodiark tipped slightly, knocked back and Rae was sent spiralling off into the distance, away from the two looming entities. As she floated away, she felt herself grow weaker. She felt her form struggle to keep itself there, like her body was attempting to maintain its presence. Rae did her best to resist fading away, but it was too much for her. Soon, she crumbled from the realm of Zodiark. "This battle hath not ended, Child of Man," Zodiark's voice echoed in her mind. "I will have thee. I shall end Bahamut's hold upon thee and thy life shall be mine." ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- She awoke with a start, sucking in air deeply and her back arching from the bed. Rae relaxed back down, eyes wide and staring at the ceiling as she kept her mouth open to keep herself breathing. A quick glance around revealed they were in an inn. Rae had stayed there before many years ago, before she had met Marishi. The decor had not changed, but it still appeared new as it did when she first stayed. There was a curtain between herself and the door, however, which was new to her. Looking around, she went to sit up, but was stopped. Her wrists were leather-bound and chained to the bed. Moving her wrists proved futile as she wasn't even close to able to reach over and unfasten the other wrist. Her feet were bound as well. Precautions taken for one who was so willing to give herself up to Zodiark. She did not begrudge them. She shifted uneasily, grunting while trying to look around and find a way free herself. Her Rapiers were gone. She couldn't see them anywhere in the room. Without them, she would be able to perform very few spells. "Awake, are yeh?" Asked a small voice. Rae turned, spotting a young man at the curtain. He wore simple clothes and appeared to be of no import among the Grand Company factions. Was he a Scion? There was no tattoo on his neck, he held no weapon, either. A healer-assistant? "I shall go inform Kan-E-Senna of your status." "Wait," Rae beckoned, straining against the bindings around her wrists. "Untie me, please. Zodiark hasn't taken over me. He... He..." She paused. Telling them that Bahamut within her fought against the Ascian God would surely send a wave of panic. She harboured within her the energy of Bahamut and willingly accepted Zodiark unto her as well. She was a mess of chaotic fury by every means and they wouldn't hesitate to put her down. "Just untie me, please! I promise, I won't do anything brash." The boy simply stared at Rae a moment, then vanished behind the curtains. Hissing, Rae flopped back onto the pillow and glared at the ceiling. It was then she felt her heart seize. Gasping, Rae moved her hand to clutch at her chest, but she could not reach it. She squirmed, hips and back raised off the bed and legs kicking as they could while her hands clutched at the bedding beneath her. She felt like her body was dying. Thoughts flooded her head. A voice. Zodiark. Did Bahamut lose? As quickly as it came, the pain left. Her heart beat rapidly as if to make up for the lost beats and her breathing was erratic. Sweat covered her body. She felt another presence. A familiar one that put her mind at ease, but barely. Bahamut still fought. Within her, the two entities fought to claim her. Gulping hard, Rae relaxed on the bed and stared at the ceiling. What had she gotten herself in to?
  12. Outsane

    Under Boughs Of Blood [FINAL FANTASY XIV]

    She arrived too late. By the time Rae found Marishi's body, she had long since gone. Her hands were cold, her face ashen, rigor mortis setting in its early stages. Grief became her very existence. Kneeling down, Rae stared at Marishi, feeling her heart slow, feeling her head pound to the same rhythm. Her limbs went numb. Her ears went deaf. Her breathing stopped. Rae stared at Marishi, as if staring would bring movement, would cause her spirit to return. Nothing happened. At times like this, she would pray. When something was out of her control, she would ask the Twelve for relief for her emotional burden. Somehow, praying made her feel better despite her not being religious herself. But now, as she thought of it. The idea repulsed her. The notion to ask succor from a being that enabled such a terrible thing to happen seemed an insult, a mockery. Perhaps Marishi was right. There were no gods. Only Primals, but they weren't even gods, truly. Just images made real through the use of Aether and misguided devotion. She wouldn't give them strength. She wouldn't waste her energy on praying to those who would no listen, to those who would watch and mock the mortal beings. They only cared for their own affairs, their own deeds. Nothing happened around her. She picked at Marishi's body, plucking off the debris, smearing the blood off her face. Insane thoughts ran through her head. The thought of keeping her blood stained to her hand, the thought of taking her clothes off and wearing them. The thought of cutting her hair, a nail, some skin to make a doll. These thoughts frightened her, but she did not stop them. Grief was her existence. She thought these things would ease the pain, and she'd do anything at that point. Her body screamed. Her mind screamed. Her heart screamed. Everything was alive with noise within her. Nothing externally reached her mind as she fell into a pit of despair. There was no Moon. Her Lune was gone. Now would always be the Sun. It would burn up the earth, stealing life from it starting with the plants, then the beasts, then man. There was no reason to live any longer. There was no purpose for her. With Marishi gone, why bother? She would never love some one like that again. She would never find some one like her. The sudden pulses and appearance of the Ascian drew Rae's attention. She had learned of them. She studied them in Sharlaya. These beings were life eternal. They could not be killed by time nor weapon. They preyed upon the mortal man's chaos to resurrect their One God--Zodiark. Through Zodiark, man could live forever. His presence was attested through the seeds of chaos sewn throughout the land by his loyal Ascians. They all claim to have seen and spoke of him, and in every scripture, in every verse, in every document that covers the Ascians, scholars from around the world confirm Zodiark to be real, just as Hydaelyn is. Hydaelyn... She let this happen. A seething hatred formed in her belly at the thought of finally placing a blame. Hydaelyn allowed the Pirmals to exist. Hydaelyn allowed Odin to continue to exist. If she was the Mother Crystal, she could have stopped it. That's what the Mother Crystal is meant to do. Yet she did not. She failed her duty. She must be punished. She must suffer as Rae suffered. Had Rae not been a good person? Had she not done well to others? Had she not paid her dues? Was this punishment for sins she committed? No, there was no sin she committed that warranted the death of the one person she loved this much. Nor was there a sin she committed at her young age when her father died. No, this was Hydaelyn's doing. Had she intervened, had she but spoken a word, her father would still be alive, her wife would still be alive. Now, she had nothing. "I want my wife back," Rae said, staring into the hollowed eyes of the mask the Ascian wore. Had she been crying? Her face felt hot. She didn't realize the Ascian touched her, but his touch burned, it sickened her, it left her wishing to withdraw, to recoil from his touch. She remained, however. "I ac-" Before she could finish her statement, her mother intervened, swinging her foot directly at the Ascian, who disappeared and reappeared in a shroud of purple a safe distance away. "She refuses!" She hissed, then looked to her daughter. "Rae, you can't possibly accept this thing's offer! He lies to you. Marishi may not return as a thrall, but I can promise you there is no good intention in this one's offer. Something is amiss, Rae. Do not listen to him. Do not believe him!" Rae stared at Serreth with a blank expression. Slowly, she got to her feet, but faced the Ascian. "Give me the power." She said solemnly. Serreth, eyes widened, shouted at Rae and she grabbed her shoulder and spun her around to face her. As she did, Rae slapped her bother with the back of her hand, causing Serreth to stagger backwards and a few people in the crowd to gasp. "No! I'm tired of this life! I'm tired of mortality! I'm tired of Hydaelyn! She will sit idly by while her children die at the hands of Primals, at the hands of their fellow men! She allowed this! And even if she didn't, even if she couldn't stop it, I'll not worship a being that has no control over life and death! I believe Zodiark could bring back Marishi. That is what Gods do! If Hydaelyn won't, then I'll look to Zodiark!" As she began to turn to face the Ascian, Serreth jumped to her feet and grabbed Rae by her collar and tugged her back. In retaliation, Rae spun to slap her again, but Serreth was prepared, catching her wrist and twisting it. The onlookers stared in shock as mother and daughter began to struggle. Rae was not the physical type, but she swung her clawed hands, each time her mother deflecting them until finally Rae drew her Dreadwyrm Rapier, causing her mother to step back. Rae followed her, point aimed at her chest until Serreth stopped, pressed against a tree and Rae held the blade to her neck, her face inches from Serreth's. "Is this what you want to do, Rae," her mother asked quietly. "Your wife died to save my life. You'd kill me, then? You'd make her death be in vain?" Rae held her Rapier there a moment longer before pulling away, walking back to the Ascian. "Give me the strength your God gives you. I will bring my wife back. I will be a servant to Zodiark." As she spoke, bowmen aimed their arrows at her and the Scions shouted threateningly. "If you become an Ascian, we will strike you down now!" One threatened, but Rae did not blink, she did not flinch, she did not falter. She waited, determined in her path.
  13. Outsane

    Under Boughs Of Blood [FINAL FANTASY XIV]

    Serreth laid there, weighing her options. Everything she knew about Primals was that they were bad. When one came into contact with them, they became a thrall. Their will was revoked and replaced with that of their new Master. She knew their bodies were worked to their mortal limit and, in some cases, even beyond that. She knew that Primals had no grasp of mortality. They only cared about what their wanted and would use whoever and whatever means necessary to achieve their goal. Her knowledge of each Primal individually was vastly limited, but the general idea behind them was there: Primals are bad. As Marishi spoke again, Serreth glanced to her. She could see her body waning, her strength deteriorating. Not days before she had come to resent this woman. And years before that, she wanted nothing to do with her. Her whole life she lived selfishly. She deprived her daughter, she hid away, she killed, she stole, she extorted, she committed sins she couldn't remember, but felt the stain of them upon her soul and the weight of it on her heart. More than the sins she committed towards others, after seeing her daughter and her wife come after her to save her from the hands of the Redbellies, she felt the guilt of what she did to her daughter. The thoughts, the contempt she held towards her, the disdain when she thought of how her life would be much better had her husband still been alive. All these thoughts washed over her as she contemplated her options. "I accept." Serreth answered firmly. As she did, she felt a presence touch her own. It was overwhelming, but she knew it was Alexander. She hesitated a moment, worried. Her body, had she not been impaled with a spear just moments ago, she felt confident she would be able to house such an enormous presence. Injured as she was, she had her reservations. Still, it was the only way to save her daughter. She reached back, welcoming Alexander to intermingle with her Aether, to become a part of her as he had done to Marishi. 'Alexander,' Serreth beckoned to him as she felt his power amplify hers. The feeling was overwhelming, like a rush of water into a sinking hull. She did her best to keep her head above, to keep her mind from succumbing entirely to the will of Alexander. 'I must make a request of you.' There was a silence that greeted her. Serreth was uncertain if he was waiting, or if he was even listening. Finally, he spoke. 'Thou art brave to make requests of a god. Tell me, child. What doth thou wish of me?' 'That girl, Marishi. Don't let her die or waste away. I've been out of my daughter's life enough that she can deal with the loss of me. Marishi? I can't replace her. There's no replacing her in Rae's life. She can live without her mama for a few more decades, but the loss of Marishi would be too great on her. Keep her alive.' Serreth said, feeling her consciousness inch away from her. Her corporeal body twitched, muscles flexing, teeth grinding together as her eyes closed and she struggled to accommodate the overbearing presence of Alexander. Another silence followed her statement, then, an answer came. 'I shall do my best. Now, stand. Thy blood flow hath ebbed and thou art able to stand and move. We shall challenge Odin outside the borders of Quarrymill. I shall bestow upon thee armour and arms to do battle with him. We shall not fail.' As he ordered her to do so, Serreth got to her feet. The wound in her leg caused her agony, but she did not lean to favour her leg. She stood upon it. The wounds had ceased their bleeding, but it was still a gaping hole in her hip and against her right side. She would fight through the pain, however. There were no other options. She walked, a slight limp in her step. She did not look back to Marishi, she did not hesitate. She moved forward. As she walked passed the large crystals that grew in the middle of the fount, Serreth paused and gazed upon them, considering them. They housed infinite Aether. Aether that could power her body and Alexander. She pressed her palm to the crystal, sensing the endless well of life-giving Aether within. Under Alexander's direction, she drew upon it. Her wounds sealed, her muscles mended, her strength augmented with that of the pure crystal's. In doing this, however, it drew the attention of Odin. Sensing the crystal that housed him was being tampered, his attention was torn from the handful of soldiers that clustered together to fend him from Quarrymill. They, too, stopped their meagre attack. Rae stood in the back, drawing upon power for a spell to unleash at him, but stopped her words and watched him warily. It seemed he lost interest in her just as quickly as it had come. One word was uttered. "Alexander..." and he quickly tore off, leaping onto Slepinir and galloping towards Urth's Fount. All held still a moment, confused at what happened. Rae, however, darted off after him. Marishi was in danger, and she'd stop at nothing to save her. Odin made it to the cave just before his home was and pulled back on the reigns, causing Slepinir to balk, slowing his speed by skidding on the ground and turning sideways and trotting to a complete stop. There, before him, was a warrior he had never seen before. Clad in armour of white steel and gold, Serreth stood before him. Sword in hand and shield in the other, she looked ready to battle. She wore a helm, disguising her features. Both sword and shield glowed a dull, cyan colour that flickered in brightness. Pauldrons covered her shoulders. Sturdy, metal plating shielded her arms and legs. The back flared and stretched downward, reaching to her ankles. Her helm was adorned with a crown whose three points reached high. To anyone who wouldn't recognize her, she looked as if she were a knight. Her stance, however, was uncertain. Never had Serreth wielded a sword and shield. It felt unnatural to her. 'Give me control, Child of Man,' Alexander bade her. 'I shall guide thy hand to victory if thou wilt allow me.' It was difficult, however, for Serreth to completely relinquish control of her body. As Odin charged, his sword pointed downward and ready to swing upward at her, she awkwardly dodged. Her doing one thing while Alexander wishing to do another. She struggled with Alexander for control over her body, fearing what would happen if she gave it to him. 'Doth thou wish death upon thee, woman? Do not fight my design. Give in to my commands.' He ordered. Despite being a metal contraption with no emotion, Serreth could swear she heard the emotion behind his words. As Odin turned himself around and charged again, weapon held high to pierce through her helm, Alexander moved the shield upward and forced Serreth to hold her ground, bracing for impact. As the sword struck the shield, it ricocheted off, causing Odin's arm to swing up and throw him back in the saddle a bit, though he regained his balance and stopped Slepinir, readjusted, then charged again. "We need to get him off that damned horse." Serreth breathed, ducking just in time for Odin to swing by, missing her entirely. As he turned back around and came at her once more, Serreth dodged to the right, putting her on the other side of the horse, and swung with her sword, cutting Slepinir's legs. A bone-chilling shriek filled the air as the horse stumbled forward, falling down and sliding along the ground, and Odin along with him. While he was down, Serreth charged, jumping at him and bringing her sword down upon Odin's arm. His armour, however, was stronger than the bite of her sword. Without needing a shield, her attack was deflected easily. Serreth went to swing down again, but Alexander fought her. 'Jump back, he shall striketh thee!' She resisted his urge, which cost her. Odin took his lance and spun it, whacking Serreth in the back of her legs and knocking her to the ground, feet flying in the air momentarily. Spinning to his knees, Odin raised the spear to plunge it downward, but Serreth rolled away to safety, quickly getting to her knees. 'Obey me! Only through me shall thy find victory!' "I don't know how." Serreth responded through gritted teeth. Odin, now freed from the weight of Slepinir, got to his feet and threw the lance at Serreth, who deflected it with the shield, swatting it away like a fly. 'Let go of thy control. Relinquish it to me. Giveth in to thy subconscious and rest, but remain alert. If thou wisheth to keep thine body, though wilt not slumber. Now, allow me to take command. I shall protect thee. I shall save thee. I shall give thee strength to perish thine foe.' Serreth took a relaxing breath and closed her eyes. She could feel her body moving on its own accord. The sword and shield raised, her eyes opened. She watched, but did not participate. 'Yes, good. Watch and I shall save thee and all that thou lovest. I shall protect your daughter Rae whomst we love.' Odin charged, but Alexander was prepared. As he swung down at her, Alexander raised her hand, catching his blade with the shield, then swinging diagonally to cut at Odin's exposed side. He jumped back, dodging the blow, and spun his sword around in his hand. Both stopped, holding their ground and considering their opponent a moment. It seemed Odin noticed the shift in control. He paced around Serreth, prowling like a panther. Alexander followed him with his gaze. Once behind her, Odin leapt forward, swinging sideways. Alexander prepared to deflect it again with his shield, but Odin feinted, suddenly raising his Gungnir above his head and aiming for the slot between plating on her arm. Reacting quickly, Alexander lifted her hand, catching his sword with his own. The two held there, unable to break free from each other. Neither showed signs of wavering. Serreth then urged Alexander to let her control for a brief moment, which he allowed. She then lifted one foot, letting Odin's blade slide from her's as she kicked down at his knee. The metal that struck against metal caused sparks. Such sparks flew every direction and some settled on the dead leaves. The dryness allowed the sparks to catch fire quickly and soon it spread. First claiming grass, then claiming a tree, then more trees. The two battled on. Neither showing signs of fatigue. Odin, however, was weakened considerably from having felt blows from the Redbellies and some from the hands of the guards around Quarrymill. It was just enough to put Alexander and Serreth on equal footing with the fierce swordsman. At this point, it was all a matter of who would gain the upper hand before it would be a sealed victory for the other. Blows grazed off armour and shield alike. Each spun and danced around one another. The battle turned more into a waltz than a fight to the death. Control over Serreth's body was passed between Alexander and herself like words in a conversation between friends. Each had their own style, their own strengths that could aid in the battle against Odin. In a way, it was two-against-one as the fight style changed every now and then, confusing Odin and frustrating him. His attacks became less controlled and more like he was venting his anger and frustration. His blows became increasingly difficult to deflect without suffering any damage as a result, forcing Alexander and Serreth to dodge more often than not. "We have to break his armour," Serreth said, breathing deeply as the two had separated to take a breath, regaining their stamina. Fire burned around them, the South Shroud was on fire. Quarrymill evacuated the citizens towards the marsh where they'd be safe from fire. Conjurers used the aid of the elementals to attempt to douse the flames, keeping them from reaching the small settlement. From a safe distance, Rae watched the battle between Odin and the one in Alexander's armour. She had long since realized it was not Marishi. Dread filled her at the thought of Marishi being dead, but she couldn't tear herself from the fight, not wanting to abandon her mother as she battled with the Elder Primal in case she'd need her to jump in and help. Alexander remained silent a moment, then suddenly a wave of energy washed over her. Alexander forced Serreth to her feet, then to charge at Odin. He sent a flurry of attacks directly at his chest. The sword vibrated and trembled in her hand, but Alexander persisted. Odin jumped back, swinging his Gungnir as he did, trying to fight back the sudden viscous attack from Alexander. Each time he struck, it was a quick, forceful thrust towards the middle of Odin's chest. His armour clanged with every blow, but made no indication it would break. Alexander's sword, however, began to crack. Serreth, seeing the damage, began to call out to Alexander, begging him to change tactics. He did not listen, however. The onslaught continued on a few rounds. Alexander thrusting his breaking blade to the same spot on Odin's armour, Odin attempting to deflect his attacks. He was too fatigued, however, to match Alexander's newfound energy. Odin stumbled, falling to one knee and catching himself with his sword in the ground, allowing Alexander to strike again, this time with his shield. Winding back, he threw all his strength and weight into the next strike, causing the point on his shield to connect with the part of armour that he had been chipping away at. As he struck, a chunk of the obsidian armour fell away, revealing his chest. With his right hand, Alexander thrust the blade into the hole he created, piercing the body of Odin with the sword. As it connected with the other side of the armour, it snapped at the hilt and shattered. The only thing keeping it together was the skin and armour that it had plunged itself in to. Serreth stepped back, watching Odin as he fell forward. Before he hit the ground, however, his body vanished, turning to Aether and disappearing into the air. The Aether flowing through the ground and into the sky began to stop. Suddenly, the Elementals regained their strength and the overcast sky turned to rain as the forest sought to quickly douse the flames that had started. Dropping the hilt and shield, Serreth fell to her knees. "Quickly. Go to Marishi. See if you can save her, Alexander. I beg of you." Before she fell to the ground, the armour around her disappeared and she fell back, hitting the ground and closing her eyes. The loss of Alexander's presence nearly undid her body. She felt her immortal energy leave, causing her to feel more fatigued than she had ever felt her whole life. She breathed heavily, panic setting in as she thought she were about to die. Her vision tunnelled and she felt her consciousness slipping when a pair of hands pulled her up to a sitting position. Suddenly, Rae's face was there. She spoke, but she could barely hear her over the thundering of her heart, the exacerbated breathing, and the ringing in her ears. "Stop fretting over me, you damned child," Serreth croaked, grimacing as she felt the pain in her leg return. Perhaps Alexander helped stop the pain from her being stabbed there as well. "Go to your wife. I fear the worst for her. She's in Urth's Fount. Go, now. Hurry! I'll be fine, I promise." Serreth closed her eyes as Rae carefully set her mother down, then darted off through the cave to where Marishi was. All the while praying to every god and Primal that she was still alive.
  14. Outsane

    Under Boughs Of Blood [FINAL FANTASY XIV]

    Rae went to stand, but grimaced and fell back to her knee, her mother catching her, ensuring she rested to her knee alright. "Stop being brash. You will be no use with your arm like this." Blood pumped from her open wound. Rae watched as Marishi darted off, vanishing into the trees, leaving just the bowman behind. Serreth and Rae glared at him. He held his gaze on the two, feeling quite sure of himself. However, that confidence faded with Rae stood up, gripping Sanguinaire tightly in her left hand, her right hand rather useless with the gaping wound throbbing still. The pommel glowing as she cast a spell. "S-Stop talking!" He ordered, pointing the arrow directly at Rae. Her mother moved quickly, darting towards him, causing him to shift his aim to her. Rae unleashed a gust of wind, shooting it at the bowman just as he loosed the arrow, causing the shaft to veer off to the side. Serreth quickly snatched his wrist and twisted, causing him to drop the shaft and him to cry out in surprise. She then used the ball of her palm to bash it against his nose, breaking it instantly and blinding him with pain as he threw his hand over his face. Unable to block her next move, Serreth threw him down to the ground and brought the heel of her boot down hard on his head, knocking him out as blood from his nose flowed freely onto the ground. Serreth then moved towards Rae, pointing at her injured arm as she got closer. Rae held out her arm to her mother, allowing her to examine it. Without another word, she rushed to the underground room, fetched some gauze and wrapping, and rushed to Rae's side, packing Rae's wound, then wrapping it up. She did it with quickness and efficiency. Once wrapped, her mother guided Rae to the exit of the camp. "Follow this road. Go all the way to Quarrymill, find the first Serpent officer there and tell them that Odin has spawned. Tell him that the Redbellies have engaged it and have suffered countless losses and are still fighting him off and demand he send for reinforcements and the Scions. We can wipe out the gang's presence in the South Shroud if they act fast." "What about you, mother?" Rae asked, grabbing her arm with her good hand while her other hand hung limply at her side, it was too painful to move at that point. Serreth's brows furrowed as she turned back to the direction Marishi and Avila vanished. "I'm going to stop that cheap whore from stealing the lives of our loved ones." She answered, then darted off after the two. Rae, torn between obeying her mother and helping her wife, stood there a moment. It wasn't until she felt a groan from the ground beneath her and the dying screams of more Redbellies being slaughtered that she made her decision and darted off towards Quarrymill. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ As the ground gave way beneath her, Avila screamed out in shock. Her attempt to jump back was taken from her as the muddy ground made it impossible for her to move as deftly as she would have liked. Falling into the trap of the deformed Miqo'te, the Redbelly Leader fell into the underwater aquafier. Rocks and debris fell on top of her, momentarily submerging her, but she rose above the water, coughing and sputtering. The current swiftly took her away from the light, leaving her in darkness and to fend for herself. Spires of rocks that jutted from below and reached to the sky, like stony plants searching for daylight, blocked her way through most of the trip. At one point, her spear was knocked from her hand, causing her to cry out in surprise and frustration as she scrambled to grab it. Without the light, however, her favoured weapon was lost to the infinite darkness that was the underground river. Turns were made, twists, drops, crescendos like a horrifying song she never knew when the end would come, but how she wished it would come. Flashes of lights began appearing, briefly, fleeting. Images of souls screaming, aetheric forms of those she had killed over the years. Each one stared at her as she passed them. Avila stared back, unable to stop. Rocks battered against her frame, knocking her around, spinning her in circles as she rushed through the aquafier. Finally facing forward, she saw a light at the end of the tunnel. Rieflief was replaced with dread as she saw the form of the man she killed, his aether red and orange like lava. He held a short sword and, as she drew closer to his spectre, he rose the blade higher and higher until he brought it down on her. Avila screamed, raising her arms to block the blow and deflected a falling rock that submerged her into the water once more before she was shot out of the tunnel and over a short ledge where she fell to the water-covered ground hard, landing on her back and causing her to lose her breath and roll to her side. A few bits and pieces of rocks and earth fell around her, but the voyage had either stopped most of the rocks from rolling along, or dashed the solidified clumps of dirt to pieces. Whatever the case, nothing that fell on top of her crushed her. Not wanting to wait for that to happen, Avila rolled away and laid there a moment before reagianing her breath and slowly rising to her feet. Once standing, she saw the unconscious form of Marishi not too far from where she was. Blood pooled around her from the wound on her head, but it wasn't enough for her to bleed out. Avila knew this. She'd kill her quickly, then work her way back and salvage her fortress. Surely the other two whores wouldn't be there, but that was of little consequence now. She would find them and kill them later. Weaponless, the gang leader glanced around for a weapon and spotted a jagged rock. She'd have to work hard to do it, but she could surely carve out her intestines and crush her skull in with this. Picking it up, Avila staggered towards Marishi and fell to her knees, then raised her hand to bring it down upon Marishi's skull. Another hand caught her's, however, causing her to spin around. She was met with Serreth, soaked and looking rather ragged as well. The trip through the aquafier was not well for her either. With a balled fist, she threw a punch into Avila's jaw, using all her weight into it, causing the Redbelly Leader to fall, catching herself with ehr hands and remaning there, daized. "Don't you put a hand on my daughter-in-law, you bitch." Serreth hissed angrily. She went to kick Avila, but she regained her senses and caught her foot, yanking on it and causing her to fall to her back. Avila quickly jumped on top of Serreth, straddling her stomach and raised the rock above her head and brought it down, but Serreth caught it with her hands, causing the serrated edges to bite into her skin. The two remained in a deadlock. Serreth's hands shaking as well as Avila's as she tried to push the rock into the older Miqo'te's head. Serreth's foot reached up, kicking Avila in the back of her head and causing her to lose her concentration, allowing Serreth to throw her off. Getting to her feet, Serreth darted towards Avila and attempted to stomp on her chest, but the fallen Miqo'te rolled out of the way to safety, then got to her feet. Both panted, winded from their exertion, both shivering from the cold. Serreth stood between Avila and Marishi, not allowing her to get closer. "Why'd you have to leave, Silv? All of this could have been avoided if you just stayed." Avila grumbled bitterly. "You expect me to forever stay at the side of the woman who took my life from me?" Serreth answered breathlessly, venom in her tone. "To silently live my life in suffering? I bore all I could. When you began planning on invading the small outposts in the Shroud, I knew my time with you had come to an end. I wasn't about to let you become some leader of the Shroud where you would make everyone else's lives a living Hell as you did mine." As Avila drew nearer, Serreth struck out, causing her to jump back to safety, where she remained. "He was some old bastard anyways. Not even a Nuhn. That runt deserved to be put down. I did us all a fa-" She was cut off by the sound of a wood pole hitting rock. Both Miqo'te turned to see the lance had dropped from the tunnel and rested on the ground. Avila glanced to Serreth, and she back at her. There was a shared moment of silence between the two before Avila moved quickly, throwing the rock at Serreth and darting towards her lance. Serreth deflected the throw and chased after her, but moved too slowly as she grabbed the spear and spun around, swinging it at Serreth, who skidded to a halt and fell down, narrowly dodging the strike. It was quickly followed by Avila piercing Serreth in her hip, causing her to shriek in agony and blood to flow from the wound. Pulling it free and aiming for her abdomen, Avila was about to plunge it into Serreth's stomach, but she kicked her feet out from beneath her, buying her time to get to her feet and try to hobble away. She needed a weapon, a plank of wood, anything to defend and fight with. Blood poured from her wound and she limped painfully slowly away. She glanced over her shoulder to see Avila charging her. She moved out of the way just in time for her to rush passed her, then spun around and swung at her, causing Serreth to tumble out of the way. Avila then rushed, spear tip facing the trapped Miqo'te. This was her last chance to finally kill the older Miqo'te. Serreth caught the spear tip and felt the sharp blade cut into her hands as she struggled to control the force the spear came at her. Unfortunately, Serreth was unable to stop the momentum of the spear head as Avila charged forward, pushing her back until she was pinned against the wall. The sound of the spear tip puncturing through the crystalline surface of the small cliff could be heard as it sunk deep into the wall behind Serreth, pinning her there. Not satisfied, Avila went to pull the spear free, but could not remove it from the wall. She firmly planted a boot on the wall beside Serreth and was about to pull it free when a gauntlet hand grabbed her by the hair and yanked her backward. Odin. He threw the Redbelly Leader to the side, causing her to roll in the water until coming to a stop. "Where hath she gone?" He asked Avila. Terrified, the Miqo'te quickly clambered to her feet and tried to run away, but Slepinir blocked her path. "Where hath Weiyu gone? Answer me!" He approached Avila slowly, his sword drawn. As she stood there, trembling, stuttering her words, Odin brought his blade down upon her, cutting her in two. She fell to her knees, causing the top half of her body to slide off and fall to the ground while blood gushed from her severed body, covering the whole fountain in red. The waterfall changed from a serene, clear water to a deep crimson as if the water was replaced by blood. He moved around, staring at the pinned body on the wall, then to the other body in the water. His gaze hesitated a moment. She looked like the Harbinger, but he sensed no strength within her. From behind him, Serreth's body fell, the spear dropping to the ground away from her. Odin, paying it no mind, began to walk away, making his way towards Quarrymill.
  15. Outsane

    Under Boughs Of Blood [FINAL FANTASY XIV]

    Serreth's eyes narrowed as Avila spoke. With the dagger in her hand, she crouched. She had girded her skirt, wrapping it around her legs and hips and tying it tightly so she wouldn't trip over it. "You can't talk to her like you know her. Marishi kills for honour and survival. You kill for sport like a rabid mongrel. You think killing makes you strong somehow, but it doesn't. I am impressed, though. Took you no time at all to find out my real name," Serreth growled, standing close to her daughters. "You think I would go running to the Adders with that information you gave me? I want nothing to do with your gang anymore. I just wanted to live a quiet life, but you wouldn't let me. This is your fault, Avila. Your men didn't have to die if you would have just kept to yourself." The Miqo'te laughed and shook her head. "The only way to make sure our secrets don't get spread is to kill those who fall away. We're all brothers and sisters, but when one choses to leave, they're an enemy. You've lied to us all these years, how can I say I know you? Lookin' at the two of you, I see the resemblance now. I don't typically remember the mange males I kill, but that one held a dear spot in my heart. Seeing father and daughter skewered like that filled my dreams every night for years. I s'pose I should have seen this coming, though. When you don't find a body, you don't just assume the wild beasts got to it. What did ya do with your dad's body, girl? That's what I'm curious about." The Miqo'te turned to Rae, staring at her with the cold, emotionless eyes that had haunted her dreams for years as well. "I carried it away and buried him myself." She answered with a flat tone. Her Rapiers were poised, one held in front, ready to strike, the other behind her back, ready to supplement or defend. Her mother's brows furrowed, her scowl deepening. "If you want to fight then shut up and fight!" Serreth snapped angrily, poising her dagger, flipping it around in her hand to face the length of her forearm. She crouched, ready to strike. The three of them could take her down easily enough. Avila laughed and shook her head again, entertained by Serreth's eagerness to fight. "Oh no, no, no. See, I know when I'm beat, Silver Leaf. If I tried to fight any of you three alone, I wouldn't win," with that, she produced a whistle from her pouch and blew in it. From the canopy of branches above dropped six black-clothed warriors, each one carrying varying weapons. From daggers to swords to bows. Two bows were trained on Serreth and Marishi, daring them to move while the others stared at Rae, watching for her movement. "I don't go anywhere without my body guards these days. Can never be too careful, y'know?" Rae smiled, her teeth bared as she watched the Shinobi, calculating her moves. Avila glanced her way and piqued a brow. "Don't let her move her lips. She casts spells and will destroy us before we got a chance to move." One bow was then aimed at Rae, string taught and ready to loose. Serreth grimaced, unsure how to get through this situation. They would need another distraction at the very least, something to draw the attention of the archers. Then the three of them could close in. "It's a pity, Silv. I would have loved to have made you my right-hand woman. I suppose it's for the best. Had I known it was your bastard I killed, I would have finished your as well. Tie them up!" Before any of the Shinobi could move closer, Rae extended the pommel of her Dreadwyrm Rapier to them, sending a light from above that coiled around them, binding their feet together and causing some to fall forward. Shocked by the sudden magic, Rae laughed while preparing her second attack. "Not all spells require lips to move, just a tongue to speak!" She answered their unspoken question. She then sent a jolt of magic that exploded between all of them, sending some flying back into rocky walls or tree stumps while others held their ground rather well. Serreth laughed proudly and darted in, catching the first bowman off-guard and cutting at his wrists, rendering his hands useless before she kicked the back of his knee it, then slicing down his face and kneeing his chest, knocking him down flat. Rae sent an aetheric tether towards the closest sword-wielding Shinobi and pulled him closer to her, using her Rapier to pierce his belly. He cried out in pain and tried to push himself off Rae's weapon, but she held onto his shoulder, turning to face the other bowman--who had loosed his arrow finally--and let the dying Shinobi catch the arrow with his back, earning another gurgled cry of agony. Avila, furious, cried out and anger and frustration. The spell that bound her still was lifted and she took her lance and jumped, aiming to pierce Rae in the skull. Rae, too burdened with the body she held, was unable to move fast enough. She caught the metal part of the lance with her other Rapier, deflecting it, but cut her arm in the process and had to clumsily jump back to avoid the lance from stabbing her body. In doing so, she lost her balance and the body fell on top of her. Avila laughed and raised the lance again. "I'll finished what I started all those years ago!" She shouted and prepared to stab Rae's chest, but an arrow whizzed by them, embedding into the tree beside Rae's head. Both turned and stared, startled by the sudden attack on Rae. Serreth had taken a bow and her cheeks where flushed red when she saw how narrowly she missed her own daughter's head. Avila almost laughed, smirking. "Never good with the bow, were ya, Silv?" She said. Though the distraction was enough for Rae to scramble away from the body, pulling her Rapier out of its abdomen. "Try that again! I think y'might hit 'er this time!" Avila laughed, but was quickly stopped by a block of rocks flying at her. She jumped out of the way in time for the pile to crash through a few trees before embedding into the earth. Those trees it broke through teetered, then collapsed on the wall, sending men scrambling for cover. Scowling, Avila turned back to Rae. "Destructive one, aren't ya? Better kill you fast before you completely demolish my fortress!" With that, she charged at Rae, lance pointed downward and ready to thrust up and cut when she got to her. Serreth would not be able to stop her this time. The other Shinobi began to move. The two with daggers moved in on her, slicing at her, but missing. They, too, misjudged her speed and paid for it with cuts of their own, but not enough to disable them. The three sparred while the remaining bowman readied his bow, aiming at Rae and waited till she was still enough for him to shoot.
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