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King

smoldering Aftermath

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He was born a humble peasant, yet named King.

He is a young boy, no older than his seventeenth year, yet his soul is wise. He has the frame of a youth, yet the hands of a blacksmith; they are weathered and well versed in the ways of hard work, finding no qualms in lifting the jagged ruble defining the majority of what was once called the Gaian Academy as they bite into his palm, tasting his blood. He has the face of a child, simple and plain, yet the eyes of an philosophical artist; they are pregnant with imagination, swollen with the images he remembers being shown. Every piece of debris he removes is but a stroke of the brush upon an empty canvas, in hopes of repainting the masterpiece he longs to reach.

The day is hot and humid, but he continues working diligently.

"Some day," he promises himself as he continues shuttling debris from here to there, pile to bigger pile. His hands are bruised and bloody, a mess, leaving smeared hand prints on everything he touches. Strangely, the pain is dull; he barely feels it. "Some day King will learn to be like you," he praises some unknown being. "Some day."

Falling silent, he resumes his work. Edited by King

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Tedious minutes have turned into grueling hours, yet King remains wholly dedicated to his righteous cause. He has not paused to eat, drink, or sleep. He continues remove the blemishes of rubble and desolated steel from this masterpiece, sacrificing a piece of himself with each deed. His blood and sweat now stain the disrupted earth beneath his feet on which he shuffles; it is a selfless offering to the Order he wishes to serve with all that he is, mind, body, and soul until he is returned to the ashes and dust from which he came.

It isn't until the sun passes the highest point of its long journey, only to lazily roll over the lip of the horizon and into its comfortable, dark oceanic bed that King allows himself rest. He has started a small fire with some of the ruination of the eerie graveyard, taking refuge beneath one of the larger slabs of rubble he is currently incapable of moving. The night is cold, far too cold for being so early in Summer; it feels as though the breeze rolling in from the inky shadows have first slid along sheets of ice on their way to him. But, he perseveres With nothing more than the tattered and torn rags for clothing on his back, and a towel several sizes too much -- draped over his shoulder like a child's mantle, opposed to a warm blanket fit for his size -- he perseveres.

He edges his naked feet closer to the dancing flames, digging his toes into the grime and soil of the Academy's hallowed grounds. He presses his back against the callous, uneven wall behind him, ignoring the few edges stabbing at him. "I wonder if others will come?" he questions the few stars that he can see beyond the curved roof of his shelter. It isn't long after that when he is claimed by a well-deserved sleep, knowing his duty will begin once again, as soon as the sun rises.

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Grueling hours quickly become exhausting days, but King does not falter.

He has made a decent amount of progression, considering it has only been his hands that dare sully themselves mending the Academy's wounds. He has removed the debris from many of the cuts along her figure, exposing the muscles and veins beneath; he's taken even more time cleaning them with fresh water and what cloth his satchel could carry. Cloth that was, at one time, meant for a tent.

It doesn't take long for the white to become various shades of grey and black, leaving him with no other option than the shirt on his back. The elements -- from the frigid winds to the blistering heat of the sun -- take their turns lashing at the boy's exposed flesh, punishing him for his unwavering dedication and loyalty to a cause that is not yet his own. But, he remains steady and true - for a King is not permitted to falter.

"Some day," he chants as he tends to his duty. "Some day."

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[URL="http://www.valucre.com/showthread.php/16851-Koru-the-Panda-Cat"]Koru[/URL]

The next night, a strange light began to dance around the debris of the area. It was small, a little spec of reddish-yellow in the shadows, accompanied by a strange jingling noise. And it began to approach the young one known as King, dancing and spinning and twirling as it slowly came closer. It kept getting closer, until the light source was revealed. A red paper lamp. Then the stick that held it appeared. Made of oak wood. Then the hand, which was the strangest of all, was revealed; A furry black paw. It wasn't even a paw. The toes were long enough to be called fingers, and there was a thumb on it, too. Everything kept getting brighter and brighter, until the full form of the carrier of the lamp was shown. It was...a cat? No, a panda. No, a cat. It was very debatable what this was, and the bell on it's red collar chimed as it stopped only a few feet away from King.

The creature looked like an anthropomorphic cat of some sort. But it had all the markings of a panda bear. It had black around it's eyes, black ears and black arms and legs, and the rest was obviously white. It also had big green eyes that almost glowed in the light had it not been for the lantern to block that. The cat-panda creature also seemed to have a short, stubby tail. And it stared into King's eyes, and it smiled, and said...

[center][B]"Hi! I'm Koru!"[/B][/center]

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[COLOR="#FF0000"][B][I][SIZE=3]A Visitor[/SIZE][/I][/B][/COLOR]

The morning was crisp and cool. A lackadaisical sun puttered higher into the sky, suspended limply in the heavens like the the unfortunate souls who meet their end at the hangman's rope, and are then suspended on high for all to see their gruesome fate. A certain lost soul found himself traveling down the road this morning. He looked unlike most other travelers. Wine red. Eyes like the color of an aged Chateau, smoldering in the darkness of his countenance like two torch fires gleaming against the black and inescapable night. Wild shocks of silver hair fell in a swooping fashion across the left most portion of his face, concealing his left eye from view.

The eccentric traveler smiled as he went along that road. He smiled, but it was not a friendly, amicable smile, no. Like the face of a serpent just awakening beside the warmth of a smile, the traveler's grin drove fear like a stake through the chest of the faint hearted, filling them with an inescapable sense of dread.

His purpose was unknown, perhaps even to himself. Though still he walked on, like a wandering spirit of damnation, loosed upon a dying world to wreak divine retribution upon those already dead in the eyes of their maker who yet still live. He carried with him a polished and lacquered cane of the darkest black, ordained and inlaid with gold. In the right light, the cane's head held the visage of a coiling black serpent upon a length of black oak. His clothes were well made, but of an altogether foreign and unrecognizable style; wearing a frilled smock underneath a trailing of white garment that fell around his ankles. He wore white sleeves on his arms that fell down past his hands. He received many peculiar looks, but they concerned him none.

His purpose was unknown, but seemingly singular. He had traveled far, but the end of his journey was in sight as the ghastly visage of the broken thing came into view upon the horizon. Two distinct shapes shimmered to view amidst the wreckage. The stranger approached them and bowed low, sweeping his cane to the left with a flourish.

[I][COLOR="#EE82EE"]"Greetings, and salutations, my friends!"[/COLOR][/I] His voice poured like honey across hissing coals. The nameless visitor had arrived.

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[FONT=Palatino Linotype][/FONT]The journey from the Cold Mountains of Genesaris had been an astringent one. With the success of her mission and possession of the new animal spirit and crystal, Liyah had emerged from the depths of the wintry mountains and migratedthrough the skies across the grand seas dividing the continents. In addition, the tenacious flight had been plus one. That one being another life. But the untamed esurience for freedom guided her wings against the torrid sun and fiulgurant storms of the sea, and fueled her willpower when fatigue wore her sinews and shortened her breath. With her advent onto the broken debris of the desolate academy, she imbibed the devastation of what she expected to be one of the most opulent and proud monuments of Terrenus. Anger simmered within her core and rose with sibiliant noises in her heart.

The sun kissed the broken landscape, inanimate remains of the massacre heaving from the earth like the backs of broken soldiers. Against the blaze of the crimson burning star, the debris was only shapes of sullen ebony. Aesthetic but unfathomably tragic. With a gradual turn of her eyes, she left the glare and saw the veracity of the battlefield. Blood painted and stained some of the cemented crackled walls, and seeped into the baked soil--she could still smell the remains of the victims who suffered this unnecessary declaration for war.

"What happened..."

Liyah couldn't help but wonder if her absence during this confortation was destiny. She was a female of mystic arts, as spiritual and synchronized with ambient energies as any artist could be,but the theory of fate had never incorporated its way into her belief until now. If she had not overheard the rumors of the creature lurking in the mountains, and had not departed to imprint its spirit, she would have been caught in the fray of this assault.

And could have prevented the deaths of some of her friends.

A zephyr touched her, compressing the silk curtain of white cascading over ever inch of her body and twisting it around her. In the distance there was a noise, her heightened senses easily captured the sounds of a conversation brewing between strangers. It appeared she had arrived simultaneously with others. Whether they were assailants, victims, or travelers, she was unsure of, but by the way the smell of musk and sweat drifted off one of their bodies, a man had been there for quite some time before the others. This was the man she was interested in talking to.

She glanced back to the road from which she came, knowing that her companion was tailing behind her. How long it would take him to get there was unknown. Liyah was resting in a nearby town when the tragedy of the academy reached ears in the dead of the night and she impulsively rushed off towards the campus. Unfortunately this left Khezu left behind without warning. She knew when he woke up and discovered her gone, he'd pursue her. For now though, she was alone.

Though she was too far to be seen or heard by others without advanced senses, Liyah could understand them clearly, albeit the occasional turbulence of gusty winds mildly roiling it. So she remained still. Sometimes it was best to gasp situation from a distance before making oneself known.

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He's lost track of time now.

King's mind has become so obsessively consumed with his desire to restore the Academy to its former glory, which once illuminated the entire sky and beyond, that the many fragments of time defining and separating the days have blended together; they're nothing more than a single passing of time, segregated only by his meal periods and the few motes of time he's set aside for sleeping. He hardly eats; he does not bathe; he simply works. The young boy works until his fingers bleed, mends them, and reopens his wounds moving new debris of scrubbing dirt and grime from another slab of remnants.

The first of the Academy's guest goes largely unnoticed, for the boy's back is facing the odd creature and the light it holds. He remains silent after she speaks, choosing instead to continue lifting rubble and placing it in the growing pile off to his right. He gives the creature a cursory glance as he moves from one mound to the other, though says nothing. This continues for several long minutes, until he finally says, "King does not have time to speak." His voice is dry and cracked, much like the lips parting to usher them forth. "King must remain diligent, if he is to ever complete his task."

The second visitor is treated with even more profound neglect, despite his equally friendly introduction. Friend? He has not so much as lifted a single stone, or washed a single tomb; he is no friend of King's.

So, the boy simply continues on with his business in silence.

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"Well, if you don't mind my asking, what is your task, King?" He said. "Perhaps I can help?" He smiled warmly and kindly as he shined the bright lantern over the boy's body in the freezing night. The symbol on the lantern was strange, like it has some Asian aspect to it. But in truth it meant nothing whatsoever, even though the symbol was unique and styled in the way of Japanese.

"Do pardon my questions, but I'm curious. What was this place? Why are you rebuilding it? What happened here? And what will King do after it is done?" He questioned, following the boy and shining his warm lantern on the freezing boy's back. Edited by wolfbat9008

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The red-eyed, snowy haired conjurer did not take kindly to being disregarded so callously, as if he were not even there, though, not an iota of his true feelings ever had a chance to show themselves outwardly. No, that man's outside appearance was a constant mask; a facade of fake smiles and honeyed, venomous words. It vaguely dawned on him that he was not the only visitor that this poor, lost soul was having presently. A murky maroon eye flashed like bloody fire. He assessed the anthropomorphic creature, and he could not quite make up his mind as to what exactly it was. Also, he vaguely felt the presence of another, like a flaming beacon still yet in the distance, but quickly bearing down upon them all.

[I]'What an eventful night we're having?'[/I] The serpent of a man mused to himself as he tapped the tip of his cane against a nearby rock. The sharp crack of metal against stone set his ears to ring like church bells, beckoning the Sunday Worshipers to atone for their sins. Hoping to have gained the boy's attention, for he was the one that this man was after, Rory Quartermain--a man aptly dubbed the Red Eyed Phantom in the land from which he hailed--found himself lounging against a rather large, quite immovable slab of ruined stone jutting out peculiarly from the equally devastated earth.

[I][COLOR="#EE82EE"]"Now then. Let's have a look at you."[/COLOR][/I] He spoke in a casual, conversational tone, though his false kindness and forced, plastic smiles belied an undeniable, insatiable hunger, like the look of a cobra, eyeing up his next meal from his hiding spot beneath the crags and stones. His single, visible eye smoldered like red torchlight in the gloom.

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[FONT=palatino linotype]As Liyah listened to the conversation, she quickly deduced that the newcomers were not acquainted with the laboring lad, and even more so, unwelcomed. However, they appeared to be unrelenting in their attempt to gain his attention. They were also clueless to the disaster that decimated this once proud infrastructure. The way they continued try to interrupt a man filled with so much determination, purposely disrespecting his wish to not be spoken to, was immediately vexing. One was blabbering questions like a child and the other simply seemed bored. The one that called himself King, he was working to rebuild this rubble, unconcerned with its tragic past and focused on a hopeful future. Yet something was disturbing Liyah about the idea. Why was he alone? Something harsh and hot began to rolled around her stomach—an academy this large and only one person returned to rebuild its glory? Just….how many people suffered the consequences of this attack? Was she the only one left? Were the only ones left? In attempt to rid herself of morbidity, she fixed her focused on another possibility.

“Perhaps he is the only one that cares.”

And just like that, her heart reached out to his cause. She knew only his smell and gruff voice, but already felt herself becoming more attached to him than the man shadowing her footsteps some unknown distance away. Bending down, she dipped her gloved fingers into the blackened grim, tarnishing the slick material of her glove and grinded it between her fingers. She inhaled and closed her eyes. She recognized the scent—it was similar to the boneblades she battled in mountainous maze; the undead. But it was only similar, not identical, perhaps some alternation of the undead entities roaming Terrenus. Liyah was an expert at bestiary, knew many both inside and out, but even she couldn’t think of a possible creature. Wasn’t Gaia a holy entity amongst this land? And if the academy surrounded it…the last thing she expected was creatures of the netherworld to overcome it. Shaking off the remnants of dirt, she stood to her full height and began to travel over the broken ridges of wall and roof towards the trio.

No man should have to suffer this revival alone.

Liyah was typically a carefree and joyous soul, indulged n her power of freedom and ease of life—but this sight had purloined and knocked her from the peak of her mirth. What was an excited revenant to discover a way to end her blood link, transformed into a whole new arch of her story. Her life was becoming exceedingly complicated over the past month.

When the estoric women came into view, she didn’t look like a woman at all. The large white cloak surrounding her entire frame shielded any curve or flesh to hint at the sex within. Even her hands, feet, and face were hidden by cloths of thick white silk. It was a wonder how she saw through the darkness of her hood. It was only her petiteover all size, and height of only three inches over five feet, that clued at her fairer gender. Descending down a scale of rubble, her cloth ghostly swayed around her before she began to approach. Her assertive feminine voice announced her gender.

“And what will you do if you find out?” She inquired to the two bystanders. “Will you really help or are you simply sticking your nose into shit you have no interest in? It was a tragedy, and that’s all you need to understand. Not a playground.”

She gazed around the area and found herself impressed. Contrary to the portion she entered, this was much more spruce. Paths cleared and rubble piled. One man did this? She turned her eyes upon King, nearly feeling the oscillation of his strength flows towards her with each grunt and tug of his muscle. The energy of his ambiance tingled through her body and made her alive with the desperation to join him. Without another glance to the others, she was beside him, crouched and lower than his working form. Lifting a gloved hand, she touched the sleek back of his sweating and dirtied hand.

“Let me help you. This was once my home.”

Relinquishing her touch, she gripped the stone his hands were grasping, and lifted it in his stead. [/FONT]

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'Oh, this one's a firecracker.'

Rory's thoughts came so sharply to his mind that he started, for fear that the woman might have actually heard them. Relaxing once more, the sly snake of a man slithered on two legs--his milky duster billowing out behind him like a pluming cloud of bleached whiteness, blankness--making his way over to the now pair of workers. He detested this woman immediately. He imagined that she thought herself quite the saint, helping this poor, lost boy in his poor, doomed, fruitless quest. His hatred, his ire, his disdain for this woman and her ilk reared up in his breast like a mighty hooded cobra, its fangs engorged with venomous intentions, preparing to strike.

The state of the once great temple, or academy or some such similar nonsense, in truth, concerned Rory none. No, he had come to neither hinder nor harm the buildings, what was left of them, or the feeble excuse for a relief effort. He had seen the great spires and mighty halls of learning before, sometime in the distant, yet half recalled past. He held no love for the place, though he bore it no ill will either. His true motives seemed concealed, as if any who tried to pry into the inner machinations of his warped consciousness would be met with fog, doubt, and duality. Riddles and mysteries; secrets of fire and shadow.

Though, for all of his dark intentions and ill-spoken thoughts of poison and defilement, his visage remained but a facade of false kindness and wide, deceitful smiles, masking his true self with a face that was not his own. He approached, stealing forward like a villainous thief in the darkest heart of the night. Moving between the columns of destruction and desolation like an adder through fields of vegetation, Rory stopped just shy of the pair of toilers, eyeing them with a subtle, sardonic disdain through his single, piercing eye--its counterpart being covered by heavy cloth bandages. The man clasped his hands together overtop of the serpent's head adorning the upper end of his black cane, he eased his behind onto a sideways leaning pilar of rubble and crossed his spindly, spider-like legs, one over the other, and watched. He made no motion to offer aid, for it was not within his heart to do so, or to even make the attempt. Rather, he thought he'd try once more to reach the boy via verbalization, paying no heed to the female, though certainly not forgetting her spiteful remarks.

[COLOR="#EE82EE"]"Say, have you been at this long, little brother?" [/COLOR] He asked in a soft, lilting voice that belied what most would perceive as genuine concern. His lips betrayed none of his secret, sadistic intentions, though, his words seemed to slither through the ear of any within earshot. His voice, though cool and flowing like the subtle waters of a mountain brook, churned with hidden evil like the thrashing under-currents of the mighty oceans, or the deadly undulations of a massive python half-way finished constricting the Life out of its prey.

As he awaited a response, he spied a particular stone, a piece of debris, squatting beside him on the column-turned-stool. With slow and measured movements that seemed to suggest he was in no great hurry, Rory scooped up the scorched and ruined stone, turning it over once, twice, in the palm of his hand as if he were admiring it. Seemingly satisfied, the Ophidian Magnate chucked the stone with no small measure of precision, aiming for it to bounce along the ground and roll directly into the female's path. Perhaps it was a challenge, or simply an act performed in innocence, or playfulness. Regardless of his intentions, the snake was goading the pair of them, egging them on for some reason. It was likely that the riddles would come unraveled soon, like the shed skin of a serpent.

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The furry creature sighed. He knew they would answer with disdain...no one ever showed love for the furry beast, even if he was adorable. He knew he was cute, too. But he knew that cuteness wouldn't get you far. "I wanted to help...but I can't lift much, nor can I clean much with my small thumbs, and the most I can do is start a fire for you all. Though, it's clear I'm not wanted. It's none of my business." He said with a saddened expression. He straightened his lantern and he began to leave, knowing with a heavy heart that he might never find a home or a loving family...or even a friend.

[center]---[/center]

Meanwhile, a being of some sort eyed the workers in the night. It's purple eyes illuminated it's line of vision, and yet it didn't seem to be noticeable to the others. It's presence was much too hard to detect, as most who could detect anything would detect something already there: Shadows.

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King has continued on with his task, all but ignoring his two visitors, until a third makes itself know. He has not looked to see the woman-- deduced by her rich, silky voice --or to the visitors; he simply continues to move rubble from one pile to another, mixing his blood and sweat and tears with the ruination and disheveled crust beneath his slow, almost stagnant, steps. It isn't until he feels the gentle hand pressing against his back that he freezes, glancing down at the woman.

Letting the woman take the rubble from him, he pivots slightly and offers the awkward creature and man of ill-intent a ephemeral glance. "King does not remember, entirely. He stopped counting the time after the eighth week, and fourth day. Time has become irrelevant to him." He says nothing else. The woman, who he still does not know, has voiced his beliefs and feelings perfectly.

So, King fills the void in his hands with a rather large piece of debris, not even flinching as his palms are bitten open in various places by the jagged, unforgiving edges. Much like the lack of differentiation between night and day, the pain has become all but a normality to the boy; like breathing, or sweating. It has all been mixed in a cauldron of life, flowing over him like some invisible wave.

This continues until he palms the woman's shoulder, remembering the manners his father taught him. "You have King's thanks," he says as gingerly as his weathered, raspy voice allows. His eyes, dull with exhaustion and weariness, seem faintly illuminated with the promise of hope. His flushed, narrow and malnourished features seem more full. It's clear he's been waiting for this -- for others. A faint squeeze, and he releases her, then gets back to moving.

[offtopic]Lets keep a posting order for the sake of not jumbling this thread up. I'm on vacation right now, due home Friday, so there might be a day or two stint between my responses. I apologize, but that's the situation.

1. King
2. Wolfbat
3. CallmeIshmael
4. Fallen Joy

On that note, anyone else who wishes to join, if you can please wait until [U]after[/U] Fallen Joy has posted. That way you'll just fall right into the posting order. However, if it can't wait (i.e there's something you want to interject, or simply add to without ruining the flow), just remember that wherever you post is where you'll be in the posting order.[/offtopic] Edited by King

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[I][B][COLOR="#008080"]Off Topic: [/COLOR][/B][/I]
[COLOR="#ADD8E6"]I'm cool with that. And now, back to business...[/COLOR]

The shadow began to shift in his spot in the trees, and yet still it made no sound. If one looked closely now, you could see it's silhouette: A tall, skinny figure that sat on a tree branch, letting it's legs dangle below. The figure was thin alright, but it was wearing some form of clothing that blew in the wind that helped hide how thin he really was. And despite the long flowing hair he possessed, something about it let you know it was a male. It then began to approach his potential prey...

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The shadows of his bearing drew long with the setting sun. He spread his arms wide, like two great wings and splayed his fingers to signify his own playful exasperation at the boy's answer. His thin lips cracked into a wide, mocking grin, though he knew the boy wouldn't spare a glance long enough to see it. [COLOR="#EE82EE"]"My, my! You've been at work a long time then! Very impressive, for one so young."[/COLOR]

He could feel the shadows of an evil thing creep along the nape of his neck, watching from some place yet unseen, waiting; it's threatening aura was nearly suffocating. Rory shrugged the feeling off. He would deal with the other vulture, searching for scraps amidst this graveyard of stone and decay, when the time for it became apparent. As for now, his only focus was the boy. This boy was something special. A kingly soul resided within that small boy's breast, to be sure. It was so enticing, that the serpent could hardly contain himself, giggling with delight. The laughter, though entirely involuntary, lilted through the decrepit, dusty air like curling tendrils of some dark creature, enticing its prey, as of yet unaware of the danger, to come closer to its snatching limbs and gnashing teeth. He would wait, wait for the opportune time. He was weary, weakened, and above all, desperate. He would likely not have a chance like this for many months to come. His prize was a stone's throw away, but the situation grew more dire with every passing minute.

Movement in the corner of his eye. His gaze snapped to the place, peering into the roiling darkness. He made out the rough silhouette of a man, and every fiber of his being tensed. The unknown had revealed itself far sooner than he had expected. He feared he would have to act soon, for fear of losing his quarry to this newcomer. He put on a face for the shadow man, and slipped into his best 'friendly voice', all the while tightening his grip around the serpent's head of his cane.

[COLOR="#EE82EE"]"Hallo, stranger! Welcome!"[/COLOR]

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