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Two Parts Of a Trinity (Artifact)

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TmSftZy.png"Shush," she said against his lips while returning the simple kiss.

Slow and steady, the elf is healing and soon enough she will be back to normal. This little tussle pushed her to a limit she hadn't touched in years, so she had felt overwhelmed initially, but is confident she'll be more comfortable the second time around. By the looks of it, she may be the one holding them together as they drag forward to their destination. His exhaustion will keep her worried, more so since this is something new to him.

Leading him to the cabin, she takes a moment to think. What she knows of his implants is what he chose to reveal to her through his letters, and it was only the basics. He is easing her into his past, revealing a few things at a time when necessary and keeping the rest for later. Those snippets did not help her; Grant has said himself that he has pushed himself well beyond what he had today, and not once had he felt so exhausted. Could it be their location? Ursa Madeum is a place of strange wonders, the heavy winds of magic flowing through could possibly be affecting him. It would make sense with the loci growing and changing, forcing the islands to adjust to the intrusion.

They reach the cabin and she helps him lie down. Once comfortable, she sits next to him and runs her fingers through his hair again. This turn of events made her nervous, more for his health and safety than the overall success of their mission. She would suggest turning back, but she's positive he would be against it, especially since they are so close to their destination.

"Grant," she leans down, kissing his brow. "Could the loci be affecting your implants? What happens if something goes terribly wrong, like they completely stop working?"

How much are they keeping him together?

"I'm not comfortable with you pushing yourself. If this hasn't happened before and we are heading into a rather unsavory spot, we can't risk you putting yourself in danger."

Her right hand rested against his chest; the beating of his heart thrums against the tip of her fingers.

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The idea of the loci of Ursa Madeum interfering with his implants had never occurred to him; but it seemed plausible. After all, the damn thing played havoc with any kind of technology above a certain level; although nobody was quite sure why. It would make sense that his implants would not be immune to this effect. But it was curious that it was only affecting him now. He had lived in UM for a year now, and his implants had functioned perfectly. Perhaps the recent strain he had put on the implants had damaged them, made them more vulnerable to the loci's influence than usual. 

"It's a possibility we can't discount. I'll have to be careful."

Delphine's next comments didn't surprise him; but he felt that turning back now wasn't an option. If he was about to lose the benefit of his implants, then he would need all the power he could get. Besides, now his strength seemed to be returning to him, albeit slower than usual. The implants had still healed his wounds as well, so they were still functional, just diminished. If he could get through this, he was sure Issac Graham and Dr. Silas Harriden, his head of R&D, and his personal physician, could help him figure something out.

"I won't push myself quite so hard. You seem like you can handle the frontlines pretty well, so I can hand back and provide support if we run into more trouble."

Grant took her hand and kissed the back of it, "Don't worry. I'm gonna be okay. We still have an hour before we reach our destination, an island. I hate to ask, but would you mind taking watch while I rest a bit? If there's more trouble, just call and I'll be right there."

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TmSftZy.png"I'm okay with that."

By now she was comfortably healed all the way, the minor aches and pains have begun to dissipate, and all wounds have completely closed up and scarred over. When they reach their destination, she will have gathered all her energy and be prepped for any other abnormal occurrences. She hopes she can split her attention to the dangers and Grant in equal measure; he says he will be careful, but that can be difficult when caution needs to be thrown to the wind.

"I'll take your word then, Ser Knight. If you end up not being okay, I will hold  this moment against you."

She gave him a parting kiss before heading up back to the deck. He had given her some directions on where they're going, boosting her confidence some when he placed an immeasurable amount of trust in her. It has been some years since she had guided a ship smoothly through the sea, the memories of a more comfortable life before all this caused her to shudder and shake the past out of her veins. The present is shaping out to be somewhat okay; there's no reason to get so hooked up on memories that only become obnoxious reminders of past failures. Right now she has a ship to sail and an artifact to find. 

The elf first went to work to clean off the deck, not at all need any more reminders of the obnoxious pirates who had rudely interrupted her and Grant's moment. A flick of her wrist, small tongues of water licked the deck until it was only stained with the blood of her enemies. The overall work was sloppy, but she has never claimed to be a mancer; controlling water, earth, or the air itself is not a skill she had ever taken to. Her abilities specifically require her to lose control, not gain it. 

Once done she began to guide the ship to the island that supposedly holds the artifact.

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Upon waking, the prince reflected that this was probably the most peaceful sleep he had experienced in a long time. In fact, the last time he had slept this well was the night after he had first met Delphine. The commonality was not lost on him, and furthermore made perfect sense, Everything seemed better when she was around; the sun shone a little brighter, and the caress of the wind against his face was a touch softer. He desired her in ways both subtle and great, and things like this made him appreciate the former as much as the latter. Rising from the bed, he stretched out and walked back out onto the deck. At present his love was engaged with the wheel, and he slipped up behind her, wrapping both arms around her waist and kissing her neck.

"Looks like I woke up just in time," he whispered into her ear, "We're almost there."

The Floating island (note; I hope everyone will remember that it was artist ROGER DEAN , creator of so many great album covers for YES and many others, that first painted floating islands !

 

The information Grant had collected had said that the island was impossible to miss; but hadn't specified further. Seeing it now, he was forced to conclude that the writer was a master of understatement. 

"How the hell has no one noticed this before?"

He had barely finished speaking when the island vanished from sight. In the literal blink of an eye, a floating landmass had just disappeared.

"Ah. That's how."

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TmSftZy.pngDelphine smiled, leaning back against his chest as she took refuge in his hold. She was happy that he had a  seemingly soundless sleep, she had made sure to pay attention just in case he found himself trapped in a nightmare so she could come to his side. The elf understands the restlessness as she also suffers from dream-filled sleep where her failures are thrown into her face, reminding her of the pains she had suffered. She is ready to ensure Grant is given the simplicities of life he so deserves, protecting him and his dreams are the responsibility of her's now. 

Thankfully, the entire hour, he had slept peacefully, leaving her to guide them to their final destination without interruption.

"If this is how I'm to be greeted every time you wake up, I may have to visit you more often."

She giggled when he kissed her neck, loving the feel of his facial hair tickling her skin and the curve of his lips when he kisses her. The gentleman has officially burned his touch into her memory and skin, leaving her in a wanton state.

"That is a little ... disconcerting."

Docking the ship close, she wandered across the deck to stare at the space where the island just was. Pirates, floating islands that disappear - what else are they going to find? Unicorns that are part mermaid? Maybe flowers that talk? She would be pleased to witness such wonderous things, but she dislikes surprises in a big way. 

"Now the question is: is it still there, or has it gone to a different dimension?"

The latter makes her feel a bit uncomfortable, knowing that all sorts of silliness can happen if such. Parts of Kalopsia do this same disappearing act, but the areas are thrown back into a pocket dimension that is decades behind the current Kalopsia. In that time, people were treated differently, acted differently, and were overall more terrible than they are now. She wonders if this will be the same thing and if so, hopefully, she will be well prepared to revisit those kinds of terrors. 

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"That's a very good question."

There was no doubt in his mind that this island was the one mentioned in the books he read. After all, the damn island was floating in the air one minute before disappearing without a trace. Powerful spatial manipulation was one of the few ways he could think of to make such a huge landmass defy the laws of physics in so blatant a manner. But as Delphine had pointed out, the question was now where the island had gone. A pocket dimension was a very real possibility; and one that he would not approach without caution. Dimensional anomalies were dangerous after all; even entering one was dangerous, since if the entrance collapsed, one could become trapped in another realm.

"For now we should probably just observe for a while, see what happens before we go in."

He moved to sit leaning against the ships mast, gesturing for her to sit with him. If she did, he would be a happy man; the woman he loved in his arms as he waited to see what the island would do. Unlike earlier he wouldn't say much, simply enjoying her being close to him.

Hours passed, and the sun was beginning to hang low in the sky when a sudden rumbling rocked the ship, and the waves grew ever higher. Soon the jagged peak of a mountain breached the surface of the water, soon followed by its smaller brethren until the entire island was once again above the water; now looking for all the world just like any other such island.

"I think I get it," Grant spoke, "It's not moving through space as much as it is time. Just now the island was born, and sometime in the future was uprooted into the sky."

The prince turned to his lover, "I think we should go now. We don't know how long we have until it goes under again."

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TmSftZy.pngDelphine took a moment to enjoy a little sleep herself. As they waited for the island to make its reappearance, the elf took comfort in the arms of Grant and rested. For her, it was the very same; she felt comfortable and safe enough that her rest was not interrupted with memories of her past. She didn't even visit the halls of dreams where one wanders about as their physical form is left in the real world. Years in slavery, the Halls were what helped her remain grounded and hopeful that she will either be saved or die painlessly in her terrible predicament. 

When she awoke to the birth of the island, the only thing that pained her were her hands. She figures this to be some sort of phantom remembrance of the time they had been burned, and somewhere in her conscious, her body was forcing her to remember that terrible moment. 

"Well, I suppose we have at least twelve hours to burn before we have to worry about getting off the island."

Standing up, she stretched and then rubbed her hands. They've shown they can work well together, pairing their abilities to their greatest advantage while respecting each other's survival skills. It's an appreciated piece to their relationship, and she is happy that she's seen their assets in play, but she will be glad to be sailing away from the island with success trailing them. This is an adventure she won't forget and one she will be more than happy never to revisit.

Checking that all things are in their place, she grabs Grant by the hand and smiles. "I suppose here we go. Try not to fall apart on me up there, okay?"

In the blink of an eye, the two were transported to the island. They were welcomed by the usual cacophony of birds chirping, random animals thrashing through the trees, and the general buzz of insects. The feel of magic made her shudder uncomfortably; there is an abundance of strangeness to this island, and it is playing with her magical abilities in a way she can't describe. Here she won't be able to push too far to reach the pinnacle of her skills, but that is a rather dangerous kind of game she isn't willing to play when time is not on their side. 

"Alright, my illustrious leader lead the way."

 

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Grant smirked and threw up a mock salute, "Yes Ma'am."

The wildlife on the island had taken note of the couples presence, and were making their displeasure known with a cacophony of hoots, chirps, and howls. Ignoring them, he pressed forward into the brush; forging a path for Delphine to follow. At first the vegetation was so thick that he was constantly tearing away low hanging vines and small bushes, but eventually the jungle opened up. While the canopy of trees blocked out a great deal of light, most of the plant life was now above their heads; leaving them free to walk unobstructed. Not long after emerging into the more open space, the prince noted something, and knelt down.

"Footprints," he reported, "Pretty fresh, hours old at most."

Rising, he turned to Delphine, "I didn't think anyone would be on this island. Wonder how they're surviving when the island goes underwater."

"Pocket dimensions."

Snapping forward to face the sudden presence, he was greeted by the sight of a middle aged woman wearing the ragged remains of a robe. As he looked at her, she seemed to flicker and distort, like a piece of damaged film.

"There are spatial anomalies all over the island," the woman spoke calmly as she slowly moved forward, "Self contained of course, they don't lead anywhere... but you can take shelter if you use the right one."

"Interesting," Grant kept his tone even, "But right now I would be more interested to know who you are."

The woman laughed, "Oh, forgive me. I rarely meet anyone new, so some of my social skills are a bit rusty. I am Yun Visal, Head Priestess of The Church of Three."

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TmSftZy.pngShe lifted her face to the air and inhaled deeply, filling her lungs with the humid air wet with strange magic. He saw footprints; she smelled change; something was lurking within the shadows, but she could tell that there was nothing malicious to note. This island had once been part of the current world, and now it struggles are being repeated over and over again, making the land unreliable and dangerous. She could feel time ticking by, causing her skin to rise and her blood to pump; the longer they stay, the more she will become sensitive to the unique circumstance of the island.

Luck was being gracious with the pair. First their survival against the pirates and now this woman, not just any woman at that - the Head Priestess. Instinctively the Seeker stepped to Grant's side, keeping her right shoulder layered over his left, ensuring a protective spot to set him aside in case of danger. If magic is what's meddling with his current abilities, she can't risk him getting close to things that could make his situation worse.

"It's a pleasure to meet you Yun Visal; I am Delphine, a Seeker of House Mythal."

Understanding that they are in the presence of someone historically significant, the elf bowed at the waist and gave a soft introduction. Yun is their key to success, and they must treat her as such.

"My companion and I are in search of something here on the island. Could you perhaps assist us?"

They still need to operate under the assumption that anything on this island is first and foremost a possible danger. Yun can't be excluded, Delphine won't allow it, and she's sure Grant feels the same. They don't want to make an automatic enemy out of the woman, not when she is a lost piece of history standing right in front of them, talking and smiling as if it were a reasonable thing to do in her condition. If she is here, there is a chance there are more and less friendly appearing individuals, and speaking to her could lead to other issues down the road. 

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Yun smiled, "Ah, you must be looking for the Trinity Ring. It's been quite some time since someone has come looking for it. Many have perished attempting to retrieve but I do know where it is. I can take you there if you wish?"

Grant looked at Delphine before turning back to Yun, "Lead the way."

The old woman bowed slightly before she turned and led the two lovers further into the forest. While she seemed amicable enough, they had no way of knowing what he motivations might be for helping them; if she was indeed helping them. The possibility that she was leading them into a trap was one that he had considered. But they were working on an unknown time limit. Searching all over the island could potentially take more time than they had. For sure it was a risk, but it was a risk that he felt they needed to take.

After walking for about thirty minutes, the trio came upon a wide fissure in the land that seemed to divide the island. Grant looked around and saw no other options but to jump the gap. But as he prepared to do so, Yun stopped him.

"Not that way," she said, "Watch."

Before he could stop her, Yun hopped off the edge of the divide, but instead of watching the old woman fall to the ocean below, she simply disappeared after falling about twenty feet. Soon the pieces clicked together in his head, and he jumped as well. An instant later, he found himself on a stone path that had been lain into the ground. In the distance he could see what looked like a temple.

"That's our destination," Yun explained, "We aren't far now."

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TmSftZy.pngShe wasn't surprised by Yun's proclamation, such an item is coveted, and there are many willing to sacrifice their lives trying to obtain it. It's the adventurer spirit that makes many moves forward, understanding the risks but always aiming for the benefits. So far she and Grant have almost died more than a few times in the last some hours, and now they are following the spirit of a woman that should be dead. The two have shown how far they'll go to obtain the ring. Hopefully, they will not fall to the same fate as the rest.

Their walk forward gave her enough time to think and to also react. The wilds surrounding them have a mind of their own and has shown its personality to the elf. Small vines reached for her, and certain flowers swayed her way; somewhere on the wind, she could almost make out the tune of water dancing atop rock. Such a strong reaction to her presence is an oddity, considering how traveled she is and never once has the land reached to her and not the other way around. The extreme wave of magic is dangerous for it threatens to overcome her.

Soon enough the group came to the fissure, one Grant was ready to jump, and Delphine prepared to transport. Both were stopped and shown the correct way, and unlike Grant, the elf hesitated momentarily to take in her surroundings once more. If they become lost or separated, she figures it would be safe that she recognizes something in their surroundings.

Finally, she follows the two but reappears some seconds later. The minor pause snagged the air in her lungs, and her ears began to ring, growing from a small thrum to a shrieking yowl. The irritation caused her ears to slightly bleed; perplexed, she wiped the blood away before casually shrugging her shoulders. The closer they get to their destination, she assumes, the closer they get to the heart of what's keeping the island together. It's no surprise that she would be so sensitive to the island. 

"What should we expect to confront inside the temple?"

She asked, knowing that their little walk has been too easy.

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"I wish I could tell you," Yun replied, her tone wistful, "But the dangers of the temple do not remain consistent. All I can say for sure is that you will face trials related to the nature of the ring. Spirit, Time, and Gaia will all test you. All you can do is be ready to adapt."

Grant was listening so intently to Yun that he almost didn't notice the blood trickling from his lovers ears. Once she had wiped the blood away, he moved in closer and threaded his fingers through hers and giving a light squeeze. Looking forward again he couldn't help but wonder at an obvious question; but one he wasn't sure how to ask. Finally he decided to just come out with it.

"Yun, if I may, how long have you been on this island?"

The old woman stopped, but did not turn to face the couple, "I don't know anymore. As you've seen, time does not move in a linear fashion in this place. Outside it's been only a decade or two. But in here... I stopped counting centuries ago."

She turned to them now, tears brimming in her eyes, "I just want to leave this place. Even if it's the last thing I do before I die, I want to leave this place."

The prince knelt down before the despondent woman, "Yun... I promise you, when we get the ring, we'll take you with us. You won't be alone anymore."

Yun laughed, "You're confident, I'll give you that. I want to believe you... but I can't. Forgive me."

The trio walked in silence the rest of the way to the temple. 

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As they approached the bridge, Yun stopped, "This is as far as I go. I wish the both of you luck."

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TmSftZy.png"... and Gaia ..."

Yun said, and that made the elf feel slightly uneasy. She has always been an accepting individual, understanding that there are religions that come in varying degrees scattered across Valucre. It is the wonder of this world that there is a sense of grand freedom for everyone to be what they wish, and not be entirely judged for it. Certainly not a Utopia, but a place of opportunity for anything and anyone. Her own beliefs do not contradict the idea of Gaia, but she is not a believer of such a thing.

Grant interrupted her thoughts by grabbing her hand and giving it a comforting squeeze. The sweetness of the action made the elf look up at him and smile; whatever is thrown at them, they will be triumphant. He said as much as he vowed to give Yun her freedom, something Delphine thought to be an impossible task even though they've dealt with many impossible things so far.

"Well, it looks like something you'd see out of a picture book."

The temple loomed above them in all its wondrous glory. The structure was something she has never seen before, showing the two that it was a piece of lost history wrapped inside a warp to keep it hidden. It is unfortunate that they will be unable to truly enjoy this spot of history, for the mystery and urgency of their mission keeps time away from them. Perhaps they can take something back to show that this is not some myth or legend conjured by fanatics - it's real.

She takes the first step on the bridge and looks over her shoulder at Grant. "Don't forget - no heroics."

He appears to be handling the weight of magic with stride, but that does not mean he isn't hurting. She can't have him be reckless, nor can she be mindless when it comes to protecting him and herself. They are in a very dangerous area that can make them relics to the outside world; careless, they can't be.

 

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On 9/19/2019 at 9:30 AM, Aleksei said:

"Don't forget - no heroics."

"I promise."

With one last nod to Yun, Grant led his lover forward onto the bridge that spanned the chasm separating the temple from the rest of the island. It was a fairly short walk, and within a couple of minutes, the two had reached the end. But when they walked through the stone archway, something peculiar happened. The temple that had become so close was once again farther away. Looking around, Grant realized they were back at the other side of the bridge.

"Huh. Guess we've found our first test."

Signaling for his lover to remain behind, the prince jogged to the other end of the bridge, and was teleported back to the other side. He tried three more times to no avail. Now beside his lover once again, it was time to reflect.

"Doesn't look like the effect is going to stop anytime soon. I'd hoped we would at least get through the gate before this place started screwing with us."

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