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Fallen Joy

Act, and Witches will act.

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In the fleeting moments of the month’s lunation, when the moonless skies are a shadow amongst the landscape, a cataclysm manifests. Though the stars desire to boast in the aphotic world, the manifesting chaos devours their efforts through its own grandiosity. The wind screams prayers loud and clarion with ambition. It permeates the air and rises to the darkness of the heavens. There's a purr in response; oscillations radiate through the atmosphere and make the very imagery of the night shiver with the fear.  Ripples turn to mist, mistaken for clouds at first glance until they slither like snakes. The ebony hues are seen only because the mist steals the darkness, leaving traces of a cerulean flickering in their wake.

Thus, the skies are not dyed their depressing color through the abandonment of the moon, but through the toxins of iniquitous magic.  As the serpents glissade to a center, the heavens become fissures of blue light with rapid motions between the black . It looks like a great cage of souls screaming for freedom.

The chants in the wind become clamorous, sadistically excited at the vision above. Joining are the cries of ravens transpiring from the remaining darkness. Their caws echo ominously around the gathering mist as it begins to pulse. Then it starts to take form.

No…

Her voice echos the loudest, piercing through the environment but utterly ignored.

This cannot happen…

The sound is more desperate and louder than before, but still dismissed as the conglomerated  mist spreads out like wings and a body drapes like a cloak upon the land. The mere touch of it steals life and turns it to rot. Valucre feels so inexplicably cold. The ravens dance around with insanity.

Their disheveled feathers rain heavily…and the world begins to darken.

It rains...and darkens more.

And more.

And more.

~ ~ ~ ~

The Matriarch threw herself up from her bed, a sharp grasp in her throat and eyes blazing brightly with magic. Her pearl skin resembled melting snow the way it sweat, and was inked with the streaks of stuck on locks. The pause without breath or beat faded and she slouched, compressing her hand to her throbbing forehead and breathing heavily and harshly. The internal burn of Third Eye felt like it was spreading to her entire face. She could have sworn it would burst into flames.

She sat there for an entire minute, racing to catch her panicking breath and hold it still, but then finally gathered her surroundings. She was within the witches’ chambers, the second tallest tower within the orcs fortress. The smell of the orcs permeated her nostrils, unique to her room yet common to the fortress—the other witches had magically cast the smell out her chambers. They were not viciously raised by the orcs they now enslaved. She hatred the orcs with all her might, but still felt too familiar with their smell to relinquish it from her chambers. None of the mattered, the smell brought her to reality—that she was home—and also shred the horrible light that whatever she was witnessing was a premonition. She didn't dream.

Suddenly a loud grunt rung throughout the room from beneath her door. The Bodyguard, her personal orc guide and protector, was checking in on her. He was an orc of little words, but obviously sensed the disruption. She didn’t answer, only ran her white hand through her long hair before covering her mouth and thinking. Luna was gone, on a search for two lost sisters within the Dark Forest. The mission was too important to disrupt , but this was too important to wait.

The sky was moonless, it was the New Moon. Or was it? If it was...her premonition would come to be in only five days.

She needed assistance, to consult another sister. The sound of wool shuffled from her naked thighs and she elevated herself from the bed. Her thread was odd and uncoordinated and her eyes lacked focus—she was born blind. Normally it wasn’t a problem, but the excessive use of her Third Eye made her other means of sight fatigued and thus the world was very dark. Her hands felt along the wall, searching for her memorized placement of armor.

When she left her chambers, she was dressed in her metallic attire. Beside the door, a gargantuan black coated orc turned his head sharply at her. Crimson eyes took in her own demeanor and shuffling stride, but he remained still. Though he acknowledged her, she did not him. Instead she placed her hand along the wall, using it a guide as she walked down the spiral stairs of the tower.  Her magic called out to the witches still within the fortress.

“Sisters…Is anyone there? I need your counsel. Please come to me. I'm in our tower.”


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Deep into the depths of the great dark forest at the base of what appeared to be the slumbering ancient mountain where a beautiful stream of water would fall from its cliffs like the tears of a woman who have just lost someone dear to her. Pooling in a vast lake that lapped at the shore which fed a small village where a young woman appeared to be manipulating the water, the tears of the mountain were being fed into a garden which grew with such beauty near a small cottage.

A woman who stood fairly tall for her ethnicity silently chanted as she convinced the water to take away the thirst of the plants she cared for, thanking it for its generosity she would watch as the plants perked up to the pure touch of the spring waters. One would think it odd to see someone watering a garden by moonlight, but it was a regular occurrence for Namiko.

Finally letting her hands fall to rest at her sides, she would smile to herself for a job well done. Turning her eyes to the glow of the moon, she would determine that soon it would be full. Dropping her eyes to the door of her dimly lit cottage, she would walk to the threshold her right hand resting on the iron door knob.

A whisper left her natural colored lips “Thank you, goddess for this wonderful night.” Turning the knob carefully she would push the door open, disappearing inside she would start her bed time ritual. From the outside of the cottage the soft shadow of her figure could be seen through the sheer curtains that decorated her simple home. Soon the light would fade, making way for daylight to light up the world around her.

 

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Without an answer, the Matriarch clenched her fists in frustration and slammed the side of it into the stone wall. Either the vision had severely weakened her soul communication or her sisters were significantly far from reach. Now came the burdensome task of relaying on her own leadership decisions. Her hand relaxed and rested to her side, not even redden by the impact, and she shivered her anxiety away. She continued down the tower.

Heavy footsteps treading behind her hinted that her shadow had a shadow—The Bodyguard tailed her slowly with a stride easily clearing three steps. She paid it no mind. In the time it took for the white witch to reach the bottom, her thoughts were fat with worry and indecision.

Dear Third Eye, why would you grant me such a premonition without guidance? I know not what to do with this on my own.

Time found her within the chamber of séance. It was a darkened environment magically illuminated with blue candles whimsically painting the walls. The floor was carpeted in a carmine tarp, inscriptions woven into the stitching to enhance the mind and open connections to spirits. The Bodyguard, unwelcomed, waited outside. Her nude thighs folded onto her calves and she bowed her head with curtains of raven upon her ears. Those deep scarlet lips began to chant softly.

“Spirits of nature, guide me. Where do I go from here?”

Her whispers were joined by soft voices in the air. Her draping locks slithered and waved as if a breeze seduced their motions. Suddenly the blue flames  on the candles shot up into towers, brightening the chamber with a sapphire cascade and dancing more vigorously than before. Her optics, naturally clouded from her seer gifts, became a storm with lightning trapped deep within.

The cadence of voices  strengthened with strange words, before  invisible hands captured the fires of the candles and globed them into a sphere before her. The fires widened into the frame of window and landscape revealed itself through the glass. The image was at first No Man’s Land, but it quickly raced forward, sailing over the mountains ranges, beyond Moonwood and the Blue Hills. Just before Cocinono Creek, it stopped.

At the ends of the sapphire mounds of flora there was a range of mountains. Lower than the Black Ridge, but possessing an eminence tall enough to barricade the haze of the Blue Hills. The  vision rose through the peaks of the mountains and centered on a small, quaint cottage. The beds of flora were lively and carefree there, sparkling with diamonds of dew in the white moonlight. In the windows of the cottage, a shadow with curvaceous and smooth contours, passed along the curtains. The image lingered, and then aburptly vanished—nothing but darkness remained.

The glow faded from The Matriarch’s eyes and the voices dissipated.  She lingered there in silence for a moment, bringing her hand to her heart and bowing her head.

“Thank you.”

She stood, much more confident than her rise from the bed, and sharply turned to leave the chamber. The Bodyguard focused on her when she came into view, and this time she addressed him.

“Bring forth the twins of the rogue brigade, then prepare to leave. We have a long distance to go.”

~ ~ ~

That night saw a pack of beasts racing through the dry land. Bodies as large cougars but with paws stomping through the granules  like hunting wolves, the orc hounds were shadows flickering across the landscape. Harnesses were ties to their bodies with reigns looped and grasped by the Matriarch upon a sleighed platform. Besides her were three huge tromping bull-like creatures  were carrying the orcs, three in total. Miniature sandstorms kicked up in their wake as they raced through the desolate valley towards the reach of the rising moon.

The Matriarch cracked a soft and small smile.  There was a witch to be found.

. . . . . . . . . . .

[Scene]: Blue Hills

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The morning of the third day was light and the humidity low as the hounds tread wearily by a cold creek. All the heads of their bodies panted heavily between the laps of their tongues in the drifting water. The orcs too were resting, sitting at the bank with their  unpleasant reflections wavering between floating petals on the stream.  The Matriarch glanced around the landscape of sapphire, the soft breeze caressing her pearl skin as it twisted between the hills and through the stems with pedals in its bouquet. The blemish of the black and charcoal orcs was like lumps of coal with a stench no better. She paid it no mind.

The Matriarch walked to the top of one of the blue hills. Her blind eyes appeared to search, but  only truly felt the colors around her. Her unique vision caught something twenty miles back, that magical caress behind the lens of her Third Eye. It suggested that the threads of her soon to be counter were spindling closer to reality. The seer experiences a thousand possibilities of her own future, but only one could come to be based on her decisions. She had to make sure the right one did.

She brought her marble hands to a prayer position and closed her eyes. These hills were saturated in magic, it radiated in the very vibrancy of the pedals. Luna would have easily accomplished what she was about to attempt, but the spell was worth trying. If the witch had a presence strong enough for the spirits to bring her into this fate, it was possible she could be reached through the same arcane.

Chants whispered through her lips once more. The wind suddenly responded in a dazzle around her, the pedals of the atmosphere intensifying and saturating. They all kissed her skin, covering her body from head to toe and drinking in the aura of her desires. In the next moment, they were gone, chasing the wind into the distance. The Matriarch opened her eyes, hopeful.

~ ~ ~

Back at the refines of the cottage, the lone witch of water would immediately sense something within the air. A cascade of magic rained upon the rooftops in the form of blue pedals, lightly drifting amongst the tiles before sprinkling down around the windows.  Then they swirled around the home for attention.

When the attention was finally granted, the pedals gathered and formed into the shape of a woman. Her features were indistinguishable, the only thing certain was that she was tall and had long hair that fell near her ankles. The hand of the floral woman touched between her breasts and bowed her head.

“Blessed Be.” The deep feminine voice was in the wind, not from the mouth. Miles and miles away, the lips of the Matriarch matched their words.

“The Spirits have guided me to you, for I am in urgent need of your help.”

Edited by Fallen Joy

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Namiko found herself outside doing her every day duties, usually she would tend to the few animals she had at the cottage. Spreading seed for the chickens to scoop up with their beaks, moving her goat out to the pasture where she could still see it for safety reasons. The morning sun was slowly rising to its place in the sky, its rays perking up every flower and plant they caress.

The skin upon her arms tingled with the feeling of electricity, a wind seemed to pick up out of nowhere. Magic could be felt on the air, the taste of it lingered in her mouth like mint in the tea she often drank in the mornings. Walking to the door of her cottage she felt the silkiness of the blue petals brushing against her skin, turning away from the cottage she watched as the petals took on the form of a woman with long hair.  Unsure of the intentions of the magic, the woman made of petals began to speak to her. No physical harm came to her via the magic petals, which was a good thing for Namiko. Battle magic was very taxing and hard to pull off, emotions had to be well in check before using such magic.

“Blessed Be” was the first words from the woman’s mouth, a very universal greeting among her type of people. With her words carried on the wind, Namiko had become quite intrigued after which was last said. “The Spirits have guided me to you, for I am in urgent need of your help.”

“My help?” It wasn’t unusual for other witches to be lead to one another through sight, especially if the ancestors had a motive for them.  The spirits lead her to me? Why me?  Her thoughts took her away from the woman made of petals standing before her, but it was only a mere moment that felt like an eternity. Taking a step forward from the door of her cottage, she could feel that this woman intended no harm to come to her.

 

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“A promotion has been foretold,” the flowery image explained. “One that tells of a great entity manifesting from the skies and spreading darkness upon Valucre with the sweep of its reach.”

Her head lowered, a few pedals detaching and drifting with careless lull to the floor unlike her words.

“It is nameless, and who summons it is unknown. The only clue is that it happens on a moonless night. It is not far from this time. The only other clue I have...is my guidance to you. You are apart of this.”

She had no expression, but the change of tone in her voice when she rose her head again indicated a tinge of hope and cheer.

“Please, I am within the Blue Hills, my sister. We have not—”

The figure suddenly stopped talking and turned to the side, as if something captured her attention. Of course, there was nothing there, but miles away, the story was quite different.

~ ~ ~

The Matriarch heard a great noise, the yelp of one of the orc hounds. When she stared down the hill, her blind eyes saw nothing but threads of energy swarming in chaos. Violence and conflict. New signatures of energies had transpired around them, crimson in malevolent intention. They were being attacked.

~ ~ ~

The flowery figure quickly turned back to her sister witch.

“Please, trust me.”

She reached her pedal hand out and stepped towards her. If allowed, their hands would touch. The energy holding the soft petals embraced and warmed the skin they kissed. It threaded through the fingers and focused at the center of the palm.

“Follow what you feel from this. Come to the Blue Hills and find—”

Before she could finish, the pedals lost their power and fell into a spread on the floor. However, there was a single golden petal left, saturated with energy.

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Watching the flowery figure of a woman speak to her, she watched as a few single petals fell from her as she dropped her head. A premonition that also includes me? Taking another step forward to the being made of petals and magic, she would bring one hand up slightly.

“One that tells of a great entity manifesting from the skies and spreading darkness upon Valucre with the sweep of its reach.” Namiko couldn’t believe what she was hearing, of such a terrifying ordeal the world of Valucre would possibly endure.

“It is nameless, and who summons it is unknown. The only clue is that it happens on a moonless night. It is not far from this time. The only other clue I have...is my guidance to you. You are apart of this.” How could she possibly help save the world? Having learned by now that everything in her life has happened for a reason, her attention was caught by the sudden turn of the woman’s head looking in a direction away from her. With the location of the woman being revealed to her, her hand unknowingly started to reach out for the woman who also reached towards her.

Please trust me.  Resonated in her mind, her hand touching the silkiness of the petals that formed the hand of the woman. The warmth of the magic tingled up her skin causing goosebumps to raise up and down her arms.

“Follow what you feel from this. Come to the Blue Hills and find—” Those last words faded as did the woman made of blue petals, leaving just one gold one on the ground.

Dropping her right hand to her side once more, her eyes fell to the petals that laid before her feet. Kneeling down she would scoop up the gold petal into her hand. Rubbing her thumb over the silk gold petal in her palm, she could feel the energy of the woman who beckoned for her help. Closing her hand around the petal gently, she would look up to the land she called her home. Should I leave my home? I know my animals would be fine on their own.  Thoughts of worry crossed her mind before she made it up, she decided she would embark on this mission. There was a reason she was brought to this woman in a vision, there was some importance to her.

Turning quickly back towards her cottage, she would shove open the door. Closing it behind her she would change out of her work clothing to the silks that she wore during her casting time. Moving to a large wood chest at the base of her altar, she would unlock it lifting the lid open to reveal the large oriental fan. Lifting the fan out of the chest she would slide it to rest over her shoulders with the custom silk strap that had been made for it years ago.

A half hour had passed and Namiko was finishing up the last task before her journey to the Blue Hills. Tightening the saddle on the black horse she owned, she would run her hand over the saddle bags that held some supplies such as candles and incense, as well as the bag that held her grimoires. Hoisting her body up and over the top of the horse, she would take one last look at her home before she nudged the horse in the direction of her sister witch.

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When the witch reached the Blue Hills, the sun would be on the verge of kissing the horizon. The intimate proximity of its lips made the sky flush in crimson and transform the fields of blue into violet. The gold pedal shone brighter than ever, winking and singing brighter with its glorious light the closer the witch got to the destination it so desired her to be.

Then eventually, at the top of a mound, it simply stopped.

The sound of a slow flowing creek was nearby, and patches off flora were disheveled—smashed or torn from their position as the result of tromping from some unknown mass. However, the witch that hailed her was nowhere to be seen.

A whine whispered into the air from the depths of the blue, followed by a shift in the fields. A black mount was rising, the prickled fur upon its shoulders seeming like grass in the breeze. The mound whined louder and shifted more insistently before the creature managed to stand on its legs and open its  blood crimson eyes.  All nine of them. An orc hound wobbled, three heads on its neck each dizzy, almost drugged, before it stumbled towards the edge of the hill.

The cougar sized lupine took a single step and then exhausted its efforts in the pull of gravity, rolling down the side of the hill  until its body landed in a heap of pedals and dust by the creek at its base. Pulling itself to the edge, all three heads began to lap at the water.

Also near was an orc, female with long silver hair  and a jade body sculpted by coils of packed sinews. She too also seemed drugged. Her fingers barely reached the running water, which slithered between the gaps and dripped down the side of her lips. Her eyes, also a terrifying carmine hue, were barely visible through her heavy lids struggling to lift themselves. Scattered around her body were broken arrows and mangled earth. One particular imprint was heavy and deep, like a great man had fallen there, then got up and ran off with just as heavy footsteps. There were also scattered horse hooves and hound prints in the mud and presumably under the bed flowers. Clearly there was a struggle, though the ultimate result of it was still a mystery.

The female orc exhaled a deep groan, the sound like hot air across desert sand, and her chest breaths were strangely slow. Her chiseled body displayed a weakness not expected from her figure, but it was clear that she trying her best to fight the demon off her chest. Her hand curled in the water, grasping a minuscule amount of water and bringing it to her mouth to drip between her lips.

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Finally making it to the Blue Hills the sun was starting to kiss the horizon, what little rays of light was left started to fade behind the clouds that would start to take over the sky making way for the moon to take its place where the sun once took over. The ground looked a mess, flora was damaged like a battle had just happened here.

A top her horse Namiko looked down to the gold petal she had slid into a bottle to wear around her neck, the glow of the petal had fade away once she made it to the destination she was beckoned to. Grasping tightly onto the reins that were gathered around the head of her horse, she would start to make her way down the hill towards the lake. Growling and rustling sounds would come from the grass, the flora would give way to the massive orc hound that started to drag its heavy body to the water. The sudden appearance of the hound startled the horse, it would kick its front legs into the air causing Namiko to lean in forward to the horse’s neck.

“Whoa!” Letting go of one side of the reins with her right hand she would pat the beasts neck, soothing it with her voice. Not long after she calmed her horse, she would watch as a female orc soon followed the hound to the lake. Something with the two of them was off, like they were heavily drugged. The two of them lapped at the water, trying to fight whatever was causing them to be in this state.

Grasping onto the saddle she would bring her leg up and over, sliding to the ground off of the horse she would start to walk towards the orc. The closer she got to them the easier it became for her to sense the dark magic that they were combatting. It was almost suffocating to her; she knew that she had to help the two of them.

Walking to the shore of the lake near the female orc, she would slowly kneel next to the woman. Hesitating at first to touch her, she would force the orc on to her back. “Calm yourself, I will help you.” The demon that seemed to be beating down on the orc’s chest has become more visible to Namiko, it would taunt its victim as it continued to fight.

Moving to rest her left hand in the water of the lake, she would draw upon the water element. “Goddess I beseech you! Lend me the strength of this pure source of water, help me rid this orc of the demon for which she fights!” Now reaching into the water with both hands, she would close her eyes as she would use the water to draw over her eyes and heart. Turning she would do the same to the orc, soon after she would bring water to hover over the orc’s body. “I cleanse you of the negative energy! I give you the strength to defeat this dark foe!”

Depending on the level of demon she is fighting, it would soon be washed away with the purification force of Water aided by the goddess’s hand. The heaviness on the chest of the orc will be lightened, and the air around them will become clear and pure.

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The carmine eyes of the orc widened with shock then narrowed with aggression as the shadow of witch came into view. Despite Namiko's angelic approach, for she looked practically blessed by the white kiss of the moonlight, tension cascaded upon the orc’s body. Her veins bulged in her arms and temple, her muscles quaking and attempting to reach her waistline dagger defensively. However, her enervation proved to overcome her efforts, only intensifying her exhaustion. Instead, her voice only deepened with husk whilst her heart quickened in pace.

"Calm yourself, I will help you."

That simply wasn't in her nature. Neither was trust.

Then the serenade of magic began, pouring smooth like honey from the witch’s lips. It was instantly recognized by the rigid and rough orc. Though she did not feel any sense of loyalty to this stranger, indicating she was not of the coven, she had grown familiar enough to recognize witchcraft over plain sorcery. Witches seemed called to the energies of the beyond, something her dull mind didn’t even attempt to grasp, and those all-powering forces rained down and extended through her bodies to produce the unfathomable. To the orcs, those hands were mostly bloodcurdling but sometimes kind. She remembered when the Matriarch selected her to rule the scouts with her sister…

The thought hit her with a second wave of poison and she struggled again, half watching the rise of the river ascend above her body like a blanket. There was little love between herself and her twin, but they made a demented bet long ago. Whoever died first lost it, and lost the brigade. Caught between her rush of thoughts, the orc didn’t have time to respond before the water fell upon her, darkening her cloth, silvery hair, and streaming through the crevasses of her scowling face.

However, it lightened her body.

Like a spring she leaped up to a tense crouch, glaring at the witch and backing up like a reared cat in utter silence for a moment…

Then she breathed long and came to a stance. Her scowl remained planted on her face, perhaps it was permanent, but she seemed decently less aggressive. Grateful seemed quite impossible. It probably was. Her brows furrowed deeply as if stuck in concentration—she was never meant to thank or think.

“Who…you?” She managed. Confidence those where the right words, she spoke again more clearly. “You save me. Why?”

She spoke with a voice rougher than a land slide of rock, thick vocals grinding in her throat. The accent announced that common tongue wasn’t her native one. In fact, she spoke mostly orc. The hound, who had been lapping at the water, also stood. The enchanted blessing of the water perhaps helped it as well. Unlike the orc, who scrambled back, it crept forward, sniffing curiously at the witch with all three of its heads. It too recognized a witch, but by smell. Unlike the orcs, it was not bound by servant loyalty but had become fond of the familiar smell of magic. Its tail waved.

The orc glared at the hound and her legs shivered anxiously, suggesting she was eager to leave, but her mind was forcing her to stay.

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Namiko could feel the hostilities that were coming from the female orc who she was healing, purifying the darkness from her body. The cleansing powers of the water would too wash over the three headed orc hound, also clearing it of the darkness that threatens its life. With one sudden movement the Orc was up on her feet taking an offensive stance, it could be seen in her eyes the fear that led her to take up such a stance.

“Who…you?” 

“You save me. Why?”

Slowly standing from where she had knelt to heal the orc, she would bring her hands to rest carefully at her sides. Keeping her body from taking up some sort of defensive pose, she would shift her eyes to the orc hound that took a step closer to her sniffing. Quickly the female orc put an end to the hound coming closer, she would turn her eyes back to the creature she just cleansed.

“I am Namiko Waverunner, I am a witch that was summoned here by a woman made of blue petals from these very hills.”

Looking about the land, she would bring her eyes back to the female orc. “I saved you because you are all that is left here that can help me find my sister witch who have called me from my home.”

The truth was just that, she was all that was left of the envoy that came looking for Namiko.

"What happened here?" 

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“Blue pedals?” the she-orc repeated with confusion in her tone. She squinted her carmine eyes and paced back and forth on the spot, scratching her long nails through her silver hair. She faced a contemplation between what she was obligated to do, what she wanted to do, and what she should do. Most of what Namiko said sounded like mere tied tongues to her, but there were a few things that she honed into.

“Namiko…witch.”

Witches...she was supposed to cooperate with those. The soft ground began to sink under her pacing. Her struggle seemed odd, but her mind was slow—as per her tribe with few exceptions. “ Have witch to search for witch…okay.”

She stopped and faced her again, roughly pointing a thumb to her own sternum. “Kana.” She named herself, stepping towards the witch and patting her entire hand to her chest this time. "I am with witch."

“Men come with poisons. Magic poisons that sparkle blue and smell pretty like flowers." She kicked a patch of said flowers as she explained this. "Make big weight on body and eyes blind. No see. No move. No think.”

She clenched her fist, angry that she was done over and dominated by strangers. Luna would have her head; actually she’d have the entire regime’s head if she heard of this. Kana couldn't let the Matriarch die. The apprehension made her clenched her tusked teeth, roughly turning from Namiko again and pacing once more. Her sister was gone, too.

"Woke up alone."

Her jade hand ran through her hair again, scraping at the scalp and pulling sparse metallic hued threads with it.

“Gone. Witch gone. Must find. Need to track.”

She stopped pacing and turned her attention to the hound a second time, barking orders in her orcish language. The hound padded eagerly to her side, neither yelping nor flinching when the orc grabbed it by the scruff and dragged it to one of the sunken body imprints on the ground. She harshly released the mongrel and all three of its noses lowered to the ground. Dust clouded with its rapid sniffing and the air thickened into white as one head lifted to do the same to the wind. Finally they turned towards Kana with a small growl under their muzzles. Kana nodded then turned towards the witch.

“It has scent. Come. We track. Find them quick.”

The orc rushed to grab her scattered arrows with heads sharpened from bone with bone. Nine gleamed pearl in the moonlight before she shoved them into her hide covered carrier. Secondly, she reached for an ebony strap on the ground and she tied her long hair into a ponytail. Ready, she waved her hand to Namiko and barked at the hound. The beast rushed forward through the pedals, the orc running behind it.

Kana was obviously little for chit chat.

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Kana had little common language, but for the most part Namiko knew what was being communicated. Being a witch it was understood that most witches worked together, although there were the ones that didn’t like the coven sort of things.

Watching Kara grab her gear and get the hound moving, she had to rush back to her horse. Grabbing onto the saddle of her horse, she would throw her body up onto the leather saddle. Grasping the reins in her hands, she would slap the horse motivating it to follow Kara and the orc hound.

With the scent of the witch who summoned her in the nose of the hound, she was hoping to aid in the rescue of the woman and others who came this far to get her.

“I will do all I can to aid you.”

She would shout to Kara. Leaning into her horse, she would keep up with them as they use strength and agility not normal to the human race. What am I about to get into? All she could think, as she rode alongside new acquaintances.

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The pedals rushed into the air, disheveled by their tromping boots, hooves, and paws as the trio rushed across the plains. At Namiko’s words, Kana shifted her carmine eyes to the side, not saying anything. Her dedication to help the witch was odd to the orc. Natasha of the orcs often spent her thoughts wandering what it was that made witches come to each other’s aid. She expressed it adamantly amongst them. The concepts of loyalty and dedication for a stranger were asinine to an orc, for your own family. They lived in a brutal world of kill or be killed until their enslavement by the witches. Now they were forced to witness and praticipate in concepts that made their skin crawl.

Kana shook her head, she wouldn’t allow the same thoughts weigh upon her mind. It drew Natasha closer to the witches. She had no attention of doing that. That orc's intelligence made her weak-minded. She rather be comfortable in doing what she did best, and that was tracking and killing. Thus she had more to focus on, like how she was going to terrorize the ones responsible for this and how good their blood would feel within her hands.

~ ~ ~ ~

Where am I?

“Mmm,” the Matriarch groaned and opened her eyes. Her body felt like it was buried and filled to the brim with sand, everything  immensely heavy from the inside of her mind to the tips of her toes. The intoxication through her mind from memory of what happened beyond the attack. When she came to the aid of the orcs, something magical grabbed her, pinned her, and stole her consciousness. Rivulets of her black tresses streamed in front of her sloughed countenance, and an ember glow of fire reflected upon the strips of ivory skin between. She could neither feel the tickle nor the heat. Her unique vision even seemed groggily. The threads of energy she normally saw were hazed and thinned like cobwebs in the night. The white witch could only relay on her hearing and smell to determine where she was.

The smoldering scent of burning logs, there was a campfire nearby. It meant there were most likely outside and that it was also likely nighttime. If she was lucky, it was the night of the same day. In addition, the shuffling and smells of lifted dust trickled between a greater perfume of familiar flowers. They were still in or downwind of the Blue Hills. There was rustling and whispers, clumsily shuffling of feet. Not at clumsy or as heavy as the orcs, but definitely men. Three? Five? She breathed out soft to focus. A few were sitting…Eight. Metal and leather ground with the movement. Eight armored men.

There was another smell in the wind, something even more familiar. Orcs. She also heard their husk deep breaths, and if she could feel, she’d imagine feeling the uncanny heat radiating as well. They were very close. Close enough that she…

Steeling a fragment of her will, her fingers shifted in the dust, crawling forward aimlessly for a moment before she touched flesh. If she didn’t know better, she would have thought she touched volcanic rock. But that was how she knew it was an orc. Based on the rigidity, it was the Bodyguard. Alive.

This didn’t completely settle her though…why was her mind so hazed? She could think, but she couldn't plan. What had these intruders done to them?

“Why’d we bring the orcs?”

One of them were speaking over the crackling pops of the fire.

“Because their hides are extremely tough, I couldn’t even pierce this fucker here with my sword.”

The sound of metal to rock, hinted that he tried again.

“ If we drown them in the rivers of Coconino, we can skin them later and sell it.”

“But they keep waking up, the poisons seemed to be wearing off quicker and quicker. If we run out, we’re screwed. We can’t use the amulet on them again, we gotta keep it on the witch. She's what we want, let's just ditch them.”

“Stop being such a damned coward. We just have to rush to the river. If the damn beast starts struggling tryna save its life, we need the water to be deep. Bloke is big enough to send us all fly’n otherwise.”

“Yeah a’right, I ain't no coward."

"Then shut-up about it. This is gon’ be a huge score for us.”

Anger immediately rose within the Matriarch. Mercenaries? They were taken and overwhelmed by mercenaries? Her pride rattled within her body, attempting to make her move again, but her mind only sunk deeper into apathy and with it came noxious exhaustion. It was like the more she struggled, the worse it got. What was this amulet they were talking about?

“These elves better give what they promised. All this damn trouble.”

Elves?

~ ~ ~

The hound suddenly stopped. Kana pulled beside it, panting heavily though not fatigued. She was speedy enough to keep up beside a trotting horse and tracking lupine, it was an advantage of her class, but such an expense of energy wasn’t meant for the long term. Though she was fine enough now, she knew she wouldn’t be able to run like this throughout the course of a whole day—thus she hoped the hound was find something soon.

Looking in the distance, there was a sliver gleam of ribbons where the creeks of the Blue Hills seemed to slithered into the density of trees lurking on the horizon. They were approaching the end of the Blue Hills. Kana growled under her breath, wondering how these guys even managed to carry a nearly 600lb orc plus her 150lb sister and the Matriarch so far in a day. They must have taken their steeds as well.

The hound paused, sniffed some more, and then whined under its muzzle whilst walking forth with a nose pointed to the distant east. Kana turned to look. A jewel of fire twinkled small, surrounded by tents and shadows of figures both sitting and standing. With eyes capable of seeing better in the night than the day, Kana saw more details. On the outskirts, two large bull like creatures were tethered and three other hounds laid on their sides—likely afflicted with the same ailments as Kana had been.

“They are there,” Kana said, feeling her heart race with blood thirty excitement. Her hands clenched into fist. “We rush and kill all.”

 

 

Edited by Fallen Joy

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Having kept up with the pace of the orc hound and Kana, Namiko felt her horse slow with them as they started to descend onto the bottom of the blue hills. Pulling the reins of the horse up to stop its movements, she heard Kana. Far in the distance she could make out the glow of a campfire, and the shadowed tents.

“We rush, we kill all.”

Turning her horse, its side now facing the fire in the distance, Namiko couldn’t let Kana just go rushing into a fight they could possibly lose. “Wait, if they over power everyone you were with the first time, they could do it again.”

Holding tightly onto the handle of the saddle, she would slide down off of the horse. Landing with a soft thud, she would walk a little forward from the horse towards the direction of the camp that held the witch who summoned her.

“We need to use the dark; we need to use stealth. We don’t know how many there are, and we can’t risk getting ourselves taken also.”

Kneeling down with her hands touch the ground, her palms pressing down into the cooling earth. “I don’t know if I can reach that far.” Elemental earth magic wasn’t her best known art, but she felt determined to see if she could use the ground to sense how many were in camp even if that meant counting the prisoners. Kana would know how many were in her party to start with, minus them and they would know how many men they were up against.

“I think I can feel how many there are. I hope…” With her words trailing off she would dig her finger tips further into the earth, saying the prayer silently with her lips moving she hoped the mother would answer her.

Opening her chakras her energy would tingle its way down her arms through her finger tips into the earth motivation it gave her the ability to use it to feel those who walked upon it. If Gaia gave her the permission she sake, she could start counting those who were in the campsite.

Please Gaia, give me your strength, lend me your gift.

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Kana paused, muscles quivering for a moment with bulging vessels before she turned to Namiko and huffed loudly. It was strange…the orc knew she had no obligation to listen to this witch like she did the others, but nonetheless, knowing that she had the obligation to find the greatest way of saving the witch made her do it.

“Hmph,” she grunted, coiling her tension by crossing her arms and gripping her biceps hard. “What you do?”

Her answer was watching Namiko. Kana instantly felt uncomfortable, much like she did when the other witches did strange behavior that suggested magic. This one was feeling into the earth, much like she did when tracking vibrations of beast herds in the distance. To Namiko's words Kana became thoughtful. Orcs didn’t think much, but that’s what separated Kana and the other orc leaders from the others. When it came to ways to kill, they loved to think.

“I think I can feel how many there are. I hope…”

“Eight,” she said, looking at the camp. “Eyes good in dark.” She tapped her temple to emphasize her carmine eyes, practically glowing like hot coal in the night. “Some maybe in tents.”

There were, Namiko would feel if her magic worked. Depending on how well, she might also know how many.

Kana thought for a moment more.

“Pull some away with beast.” The orc hound came to their sides, wagging its tail.

“And these.”

She threw a thumb over her shoulders with her arrows.

“Kana handle them. If do that, you save?”

~ ~

The Matriarch suddenly felt something. It was like roots deep within the ground, tickling the surfaces of her skin. Considering the Matriarch couldn’t feel most things on her skin in such a way, it caught her interest. It caught her interest to the point where her cheeks flushed with a cherry color and her palms ran warm. She knew the feeling of the craft anywhere. How it made her feel. Her own fingers reached into the dirt, taking in the arcane, grasping at the ties and releasing her own sparse traces of energy. Her vision was still so black, it comforted her.

Her essence traveled, slithering through the energies of the earth and kissing Namiko’s tips. She couldn’t communicate in any other way, only to let her know that she was there.

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