Dark Mirror (TS)



  • It was a stormy night long ago when Avatara had last seen Selax. He had come discreetly seeking knowledge about the void, and Avatara had turned him away. Selax hadn't shown any visible reaction, but he sounded disappointed when he told Avatara that it would have been easier for both of them if Avatara had cooperated. If only I had taken his warning more seriously.

    Now Selax stood before him, hand outstretched, murky cape rippling behind him, and gaze fixed solidly on Avatara.

    In that instant, all of Avatara's uncertainty and fear vanished. He summoned the sadness and regret, the pain and fury of the last five years, and focused all of his magic into the elemental before him.

    "NOW!" he called out to the others.

    Too late did Selax notice the rune beneath him spring to life, binding him to the ground inside the glowing blue circle. Too late did he see the two Katereis channel the water from the pools onto him, covering his arms.

    Selax cried out in frustration as the water solidified, turning to ice. His feet were trapped, his arm movements slowed as the ice thickened around them, leaving his torso exposed. As he struggled fiercely against his restraints, tiny cracks began to form in the ice.

    "Yomu, hurry!" Avatara shouted, straining against the effort of preventing Selax from taking flight.

    Yomu sprang forward from his hiding place, tapping his spear against the ground as he passed Avatara. Ignoring Selax's hateful glare, he swung his arm back and with a loud cry, violently plunged the spear into Selax's body.

    Selax shuddered under the impact as the spear pierced clean through his chest, sending a splash of silvery liquid onto the floor that began vaporizing with a loud hiss. The air crackled as the spear released its charge, sending bolts of electricity snapping and searing across his body. Selax jolted violently under the sudden discharge of power for a moment before slumping forward in his icy restraints, unmoving, as the silver mist continued trailing from the wound in his chest.

    Yomu stepped back, letting go of the spear jutting out of the elemental. As the last vestiges of energy drained from the spear, a hush settled over the room, broken only by the slow hiss of steam rising out of Selax's wound.

    Is it really over? Avatara stared in disbelief, loosening his concentration. The rune beneath Selax dimmed as it's power waned. He took a step forward, hesitant to get too close.

    Selax's head snapped up abruptly, his gray eyes flaring in fury. With renewed strength, he strained against his restraints. The cracks in the ice widened and grew, spidering outwards at a frightening pace. Chunks of ice fell onto the ground at an ever-increasing rate until finally the icy bonds shattered into a thousand pieces.

    Yomu was already moving forward, dagger ready to strike, but Selax was even faster. Hands now free, he grabbed the spear jutting through him and forcibly yanked it out. Ignoring the silver spray, Selax parried Yomu's lunge and countered with a strike that sent the tall man flying backwards. With his opponent dispatched, he cast the spent spear aside and focused his efforts on the Rune of Binding at his feet. Bereft of a continuous power source, the magic was quickly overwhelmed and broken.

    A jet of flame engulfed the air around Selax, melting the scattered pieces of ice. For a moment, the elemental was obscured from view by the torrent of flame, until he emerged with his airy cloak held up as a shield. Unrestrained, he charged towards his attacker, blades sliding into his hands as he approached.

    The area in front of Selax sparked and suddenly turned into a raging inferno, hot enough to feel from across the room, but he didn't stop. Seeing Selax undeterred, Avatara quickly abandoned his magic and reached for his weapons.

    The edge of Selax's blades stopped inches from Avatara's face, locked in place at the last moment by Avatara's crossed swords. The elemental used his strength to press his advantage, forcing Avatara to one knee as the deadly blade inched closer.

    Trapped and unable to give up any more ground, Avatara strained against the force of Selax's attack. His grip was slipping and he knew it was a matter of seconds before it would be over. The sound of metal scraping on metal filled the air as Avatara's defenses gave way, and he was forced onto the ground.

    Selax stiffened suddenly as silver crystals erupted from his chest wound. A breeze of cold air washed over Avatara as Selax's exposed blood turned to ice. Selax whirled to face his attacker, but the attack had slowed his movement, and K was able to leap back out of his reach safely. Taking advantage of the rescue, Avatara rolled to his feet and backed up, readying for another onslaught.

    Selax glared at them both, clutching his chest and breathing heavily, shifting his gaze from one to the other.

    "You will all…die here… I will make sure of it!" he hissed.



  • ((OoC: Before I begin, I'd like to make it known that BreadWorldMercy453 rocks Cythera. That is all. BIC:))

    Deep in Land King Hall, in its most important chamber, faint words of an unfamiliar man whirred through Yomu's ears. He couldn't quite make out what was happening around him, not that he wasn't more concerned with himself. Slumped against the cool stone wall of the chamber, he felt a pain through his back, around his chest, everywhere really.

    A pain like needles shot through his throat and instantly he began coughing violently and uncontrollably. The taste of blood rushed into his mouth. He needed to heal his wounds, maybe if he could reach his obsidian cast potion in time, maybe if he could just seal the wounds, would it be enough? It was his only chance. The broken rouge reached into his pouch with a bloodied hand and retrieved the black bottle.

    He coughed again, more blood, he felt his remaining strength draining from him as he lifted the obsidian glass bottle closer to his chest. He wondered for a small moment if his friends would be able to triumph without him: save Cythera from Selax, a man he knew so little about. The bottle dropped, still intact. The world was losing all color and light in Yomu's eyes now. All was fading away into darkness. He didn't want it to, but no matter how hard he tried, everything slipped further and further out of sight.

    -----

    A deadly power was growing in the middle of the void chamber, it caused the brazier's light to waver, sent waves through the two small pools on either side of the room, and sent chills through the remaining heros: Avatara, K and Katerei.

    Katerei's heart sank when before her Yomu flew against the wall at the hands of Selax. Losing another comrade was nothing she wanted to experience again, but there wasn't much she could do in this current bind. Selax was too powerful and too fast to allow enough time for anyone to get close enough to the fallen rogue to rescue him from death's door.

    The battle was fierce and Avtara summoned a vortex of flames, engulfing Selax for a moment. In the brief window Katerei managed to finally reach her friend leaning against the rubble where he had been flung. She went pale when he showed no obvious signs of life. She wouldn't accept it, she had to try at least. Quickly she readied a healing potion from her supplies. She convinced her self it would be enough and brought it closer to Yomu. Her efforts were in vain however, as the elemental's swift blades came crashing down only inches next to her. Luckily K had blocked the attack enough to save her counterpart's life, at the cost of opening herself up for an attack. "Move now!" K shouted at Katerei, moving away as fast as possible, leaving the potion behind and unused. Ducking away, K momentarily removed herself from the threat before it was too late.

    It was a complicated dance taking place in the void chamber now. Selax would move between adversaries at break neck speed, but just before one was about to lose, they would be saved by another-but how much longer could this really go on? It was clear Selax had the upper hand even when he had been wounded so badly.

    Every now and again Selax would suffer another cut, or another lash across his previous wound. "How much more slime can you leak out before you turn into dust, Selax?" Avatara cried out as he parried a blow. Selax said nothing in reply, only continued his onslaught.

    Selax was learning their moves fast - even though it was three on one it wouldn't be long before Selax could claim victory. "Can't you all see: your resistance is futile." Selax spoke, withdrawing a step away for a moment, "I can already see the fatigue in your bodies growing, you will all die shortly. Now accept your defeat and surrender the Crolna."

    "You bastard. You're a fool to underestimate us!" Avatara shouted with swords out ready to sting.

    "Submit!" Selax replied, as he deflected the blow and sent Avatara sliding across the purple stone floor with a mighty kick. K helped him up and Katerei stood ready to defend all three of them.

    Before the next attack could be made the void chamber door swung open. A man emerged (knowing or not of the danger in front of him).

    Everyone looked to see, there was none in Cythera they could have expected, let alone Beorn. The three heroes looked at the man in confusion, they all knew him but couldn't figure out why he was here of all places.

    -----

    Strange visions flooded Yomu's mind: people he thought he had forgotten, some he wish he had, places he had only heard stories of. Suddenly only one thought remained, one so playful. The only sound now in Yomu's mind was the light laughter of Firecat.

    "My my, look what the cat dragged in."

    Yomu's mind was in disarray, he could barely manifest coherent thoughts. Fire...cat, why?

    "Why what? Why am I here? Oh you wound me, whatever are friends for if not to save the other in a time of need. I can see it you know, your little rodent life fading away. Quite strange the lights coming from your mind, how familiar as well."

    Yomu was forgetting.. He had trouble even placing how he got where he was, or what was even happening to him.

    "We must act quickly now little mouse. You'll leave your body behind at this rate, no doubt the other mice will be joining you as well." Suddenly his tone turned far more serious, "You have only one chance now, Yomu, let me in... surrender yourself to me. If you don't, all you've fought for, all you've suffered trying to achieve, all of your friends... will be lost. Now quickly, let-me-in my little mouse."

    -----

    The air grew ever thicker in the chamber. No one could foresee the end of this predicament, or what would lead to it.

    Beorn had moved cautiously in front of the heroes, now back to their feet.

    "Tell me, why have you come? Do you wish to die that badly?" Selax spoke coldly to Beorn.

    "Oh? Have you already covered that in your plans? It must be nice to never be surprised." Beorn said in response, unshaken.

    Katerei whispered to the strange new arrival, "Beorn, whoever you are, I hope you have a good reason for being here. I don't know if you wish to help, but none of us can promise your safety."

    Beorn stared undeterred at Selax and raised a hand to Katerei behind him, "Don't worry, it'll be fine." Beorn spoke quietly now, outside of Selax's earshot. "Now listen carefully all of you. I need you to get me close to Selax."

    Avatara saw Selax readying himself for an attack and spoke to Beorn quietly and in haste, "Give me one reason to trust anything you say."

    "Do you really have any other ideas?" Beorn added, followed by a brief silence, "This is the only way to win, even if Selax has planned for this, he can't stop me. Just help me get close without getting pinned by his blade and everything else will be taken care of."

    There was no more time for questions, Selax was closing in- fast.

    Before the elemental got close enough for the kill, K had leapt over Beorn and blocked his assault. Beorn now swung around the blue beauty and began to close in on Selax's opening.

    Selax ducked away, nearly being sliced open by a sheet of ice launched by Katerei. Before Selax could defend himself, Avatara was already moving in for the kill, Beorn at his side. Selax began to block for Avatara's attack but Katerei's flail was moving in from the right, and Beorn was getting to close for comfort. The elemental was getting cornered, and suddenly for a brief moment his feet became stuck to the ground. Selax knew there was a chance this might happen but he couldn't avoid it now, Katerei had temporarily frozen Selax to the ground, and while he could break free of it in time, he wouldn't be fast enough to get away. To save himself he had to use both swords to deflect Avatara and K's assault - only this also left him open to whatever Beorn had up his sleeve.

    Selax raced through scenarios in his mind: daggers, potions, magic beans, however when he saw Beorn pulling out the Crolna of this Cythera, he had reached the end of the list.

    A fire of determination roared in Beorn's eyes. He moved with the swiftness of death in his steps and could not be stopped. In a split second his hand was gripping the elemental's cut and steaming chest, in his other a brightly glowing crystal of untold power.

    What happened next propelled Katerei, K and Avatara back against the walls of the chamber. A booming powerful force emanated from the center of the room, where Selax and Beorn now stood.

    "And now it ends!" Beorn cried out releasing more of the Crolna's power.

    "Don't be so hasty!" Selax said in response, shockingly grabbing Beorn's arm. Selax struggled in the tourbillion of power until both he and Beorn's gripped hands were locked on the mythical Crolna.

    "Do you really think you know more about the working of the Crolna than I?" Selax said fiercely.

    The chamber began to shake. To the others it felt as if the entire mountain was being thrashed about. More strange however, green light emanated from the two as well as the Crolna. No one well enough to see could tell what in Cythera was going on, and could only look on in horror.

    "You can't win Beorn. By delivering the Crolna to me, you've sealed your own fate." Selax announced, as sparks began flying wildly out of the braziers in the room, the water pools began to steam away.

    "I know... More than you think!" Beorn retorted, as the balance of power shifted in his favor. Between the two there was a careful focus on each other, as well as the Crolna. If one were to waver for even a fraction of a second they would lose the battle and who knows what would become of them.

    Bits of stone and dust began falling from the ceiling from the excited forces in the room. "We have to do something or we'll all be destroyed!" Katerei cried out. Avatara could barely manage to maneuver his jaw under the pressure of the energy, "What can we do if we can hardly move?!" he replied.

    K knew Avatara was right, their fates were in the hands of whoever won now. No matter what they did, she knew their powers were dwarfed by whatever had now been unleashed - but then, in the corner of her eye, a shadow arose in the extreme light. The two in the centrality of the radiation didn't seem notice, maybe they couldn't. The shadow pushed forward against the light. Suddenly a blue light came out of the shadow, it was raised above the menacing shadow - he began to plunge it forward - and as soon as the blue light made contact with the axis of the energy, all sound washed away under a loud boom a swift blanket of silence.

    The hall shook more violently than before, stone bricks began falling from the walls and ceiling. The ominous green light began to flood back into the Crolna like water into a sponge. The event occurred fast and violently. A faint sound of shattering was heard, a blast, and the next thing anyone could tell, the rumbling had stopped and the fight seemed to be over.

    ....

    "Ugh." Katerei moaned. The room was quiet, the room was dark, save for the dim light of a single standing brazier. Clearing the dust from her eyes, she attempted to make out the standing figure in the darkness. It was no good, all she good tell was it was a tall man standing in the center of the room. He picked up something off the floor and placed it inside a bag of some sort at his side. As she faded back into unconsciousness she heard a faint laughing, a laugh that was familiar but she knew she had never heard before.

    ...

    "Katerei! Katerei! Wake up!" Avatara shouted, "We're getting out of here, it's unstable!"

    Katerei woke to a loud rumbling, it seemed as if the mountain was coming down. In the void chamber Avatara had lit the remaining braziers. Rubble was covering most of the floor, the two pools were leaking water and had almost run dry. She couldn't make out if Yomu, Beorn or Selax were still even in the room because of all the chaos. K motioned to them from the entrance of the room. "Come on hurry! We need to find the others before this whole place is destroyed!"

    With no time to lose the three dusty heros rushed into the main chambers of Land King Hall.

    This post has been edited by Avatara : 29 June 2011 - 11:24 PM



  • Behind them, the room shook, as the ceiling partially collapsed. Then, nothing. For a few moments, silence reigned as the dust settled . . . and something moved.

    Beorn stood clawing his way free of the ruin. Slowly, he staggered to his feet, feeling as though he had been smashed flat. He was rather surprised that he had survived at all. His hair and robe were singed and burnt. Raising a hand to steady himself against the wall, he discovered it was badly burned as well. He supposed his face must bear similar marks, but his attention was diverted by a much more important discovery. Amazingly, despite the blast, his other hand still clutched the Crolna which looked to be none the worse for wear.

    Momentarily, Beorn stared at the crystal, forgetting his peril. It took much to surprise him, more to stun him into outright awe. But the vision he had seen when he fought to control the Crolna had done that. . .

    "Amazing," he said.

    "Indeed," another voice answered him.

    Coming back to himself, Beorn stepped back. Across the room, Selax was rising from the ground, his form wavering and distorting as though it were a mirage as he literally pulled himself back together.

    "You were surprised to see me but not as much as I might have hoped," Beorn observed. "You guessed at my survival."

    "My battle with Avatara and his allies demonstrated to me that they did not have the Crolna," Selax stepped toward him and stooped to pull something from the rubble as he did so. "My counterpart would have known to come here, but I had killed him. However, I learned long ago to not be surprised by sudden resurrections."

    Beorn watched as the other picked up another crystalline fragment. It looked like it was a part of the Crolna, but it was not . . . not of this world's Crolna at least. He had suspected that Selax carried with him the fragments of the alternate Cythera's Crolna. The fact that he would risk entering into a four on one battle had suggested that he had some sort of fallback plan. Only in this case the plan seemed to have backfired.

    "You will not find all of the fragments," he stated. "Yomu departed with one."

    "Irrelevant," the elemental answered, stepping closer. "I only need the intact one you carry."

    Beorn also backed up, raising the Crolna as he attempted to channel its energies once more. Then, he staggered, as the crystal's power somehow fed back on him. He only just managed to keep it from incinerating him. Selax took advantage to step close and grab the Crolna, but then he too was forced back.

    "What have you done?" he asked, seeming almost angry for a moment.

    Beorn did not reply. Instead, thrusting the Crolna into the pouch on his belt, he grabbed his staff and, twisting its top, caused it to split open. From a secret compartment within, he pulled out two blades, identical to the ones which Selax now drew.

    "You will fall," Selax said. "Your physical condition is worse than mine."

    He tore across the room at incredible speed and brought both his swords down. Beorn parried and counter-attacked. The purpose of the constant stretches and exercises that he had performed endlessly over the past days was revealed as he jerked his limbs around in a frantic effort to keep pace. Even injured as he was, Selax was still faster and stronger, but Beorn knew the elemental—literally as well as he knew himself—and used his knowledge to counter as best he could.

    Back and forth, they moved across the room, continually shifting between swordfighting styles. Finding an opening, Selax slashed through, only to stumble back as Beorn punched him. He eyed the other for a moment, not showing his surprise.

    "You 'borrowed' Meleager's gauntlets."

    "It seemed advisable."

    The melee resumed. Each knew literally hundreds of techniques and the room rang with the sound of desperate attacks or parries. Selax forced Beorn back. Despite his best efforts, he simply could not keep up with the elemental even in his weakened state, especially since Beorn's physical state was not all that great either. Pushing himself away, Beorn tried to think. Running out of options, he hit upon a desperate idea. Summoning what he knew of Cytheran magic, he cast Mystic Arrow. The hastily cast spell missed Selax completely, but it did distract him for moment. After all, a use of magic had not been something he had remotely expected.

    Lunging, Beorn managed to stab Selax through the shoulder, but, in the same moment, he felt a burning pain along his side as Selax's blade broke through his own defenses.

    "Inventive but futile," Selax stated, seemingly unaffected by the wounds he had taken.

    Staggering back, Beorn realized that he was not in condition for this fight—not yet. To continue was to perish. Deciding that just about any place or time was preferable to this one, he cast Directed Nexus. The spell still did not function properly and there was no telling where he might end up, but he was out of choices.

    Land King Hall faded around him, and Selax disappeared. . .

    It was cold.

    Opening his eyes, Beorn looked around him. He was in a snowy valley surrounded by tall peaks. Grimly, clutching his side, he got to his feet. There was, he supposed, a good chance that he would freeze to death or die of blood loss before he could find shelter and take stock of his position. Slipping a hand into the pouch on his belt and satisfying himself that he still had the Crolna, he started on his way.

    Selax stood still for a moment.

    His counterpart's survival was unexpected and complicated matters considerably. Indeed, it had potentially delayed his plans for some time, since there was no knowing where or when the other had appeared or if he had even survived at all.

    Considering his options, the elemental began to carefully plan his next move. He reached into his cloak and pulled out one of the healing potions that he had taken from Rapierian when the necromancer had been detained. It would not heal him immediately but it would accelerate the process. Drinking the potion, the elemental moved toward the exit of the room. Faintly, he could still hear the sounds of combat emanating from the other parts of the Hall.



  • Avatara held his arm up in a vain attempt to ward off the dust permeating the air as he staggered through the Land King's private study. Most of the shelves and their contents were still intact, but part of the workbench had been smashed to splinters. Gingerly stepping over the misshapen remains of the outer metal door, he looked back to ensure both Katereis were following him before ducking through the crumbling doorway into the King's bedchamber.

    Signs of a recent battle were evident here. A few uniformed bodies lay near the Eastern door, casualties of a now-distant battle. A white-haired man Avatara thought he recognized was sprawled among the remains of what looked to have been a desk. As the three of them entered, the man lifted his head slowly to look at them. Dried blood was visible on Rapierian's face, and his right leg was bent at an unnatural angle.

    Avatara started towards him, but the ranger shook his head and gestured at the wall. Avatara followed his gaze to the smashed bookshelf and saw a body, nearly obscured from sight, which made him stop in his tracks. He heard K let out an audible gasp from close behind him. Lying against the wall in a pile of tattered books and splintered wood, eyes closed as if in a deep sleep, her unmistakable long, silver hair draped over the shoulder of her robe, was Moonshadow.

    His chest tightened as a deluge of memories flooded forth. For so long, she had been nothing more than a painful memory, growing dimmer with the passing of each year. But now she was here , flesh and blood. Part of him felt an unimaginable elation at being able to see her again, but just as quickly the doubts rose in his mind. Would she know him? In this world, were they...

    A crash and a shout from a nearby room jolted him back to reality. If they had managed to survive that explosion, surely Selax could have as well. If any of them wanted to survive, they needed to escape now.

    Pushing his hesitation aside, Avatara rushed forward and carefully extracted Moonshadow from the debris. Her body felt warm in his arms, still clinging to life, but she did not stir from her deep slumber. He slow rose to his feet and gently carrying her towards the others.

    Katerei had managed to assemble a makeshift splint for Rapierian's broken leg and was now helping the grimacing ranger to his feet. K stood apart from them, shifting her gaze silently between her alternate and the unconscious elf.

    "Are you able to walk?" Avatara asked Rapierian once he was able to stand.

    "Mostly," the ranger replied tersely, leaning heavily on Katerei for support.

    "We're getting out of here, try to keep up." Avatara turned to K, "Katerei, can you lead the way?"

    She blinked as if coming out a daze before nodding and drawing her flail. They took up position at the south wall, near the open doorway to the hall. K disappeared for a moment, scouting ahead, before returning and telling them the way was clear.

    The five of them slipped into the hall and quickly made their way past open doors and branching hallways. After pausing briefly before the main hall so K could scout ahead again, they quickly made their way toward the exit.

    As they crossed the narrow walkway above the Void, Avatara glanced down into the dark expanse below them. All of this had started with the Void. One creature who wasn't content with what he had twisted the lives of so many in his thirst for more. Yet, he wasn't the first, and he wouldn't be the last.

    Turning his gaze away from the Void, he followed K through the final door. The entrance to Land King Hall was covered in shadows, but the sky was still light, placing the time somewhere around late afternoon. Behind him, Rapierian and Katerei staggered into the open.

    "We should get as far away as we can," Avatara said once they were all outside.

    "I'm afraid that won't be very far," Rapierian replied, breathing heavily. Sweat was starting to bead on his forehead.

    "I didn't have time to properly bandage his leg back there. I'll need to set it properly so it can heal, and that'll take time," Katerei chimed in worriedly.

    Avatara looked from Rapierian to Katerei to K, who suddenly tried to avoid his gaze, and back to the unconscious Moonshadow in his arms. "All right," he said, "but, we should still find a place off the road to rest."



  • In the halls throughout Land King Hall, a wild melee had erupted. The attacking forces from the other Cythera were outnumbered by the Hall's defenders, but those same defenders were spread throughout the edifice and had very little idea of what was actually happening or whom they were fighting. As far as most of the guards knew, many of their number had inexplicably turned upon them and it was impossible to know who to trust. The alternates, already better trained, thus had a considerable advantage in organization.

    Wizard's counterpart had eventually overcome him and decided to move him and Alaric to a more secure location before returning to aid Selax in removing their other enemies. However, he had barely completed this move when the Hall had been rocked by an unexpected explosion. So great was the force of the blast that both sides, for a moment, feared the Hall might collapse. Thus, there was a lull in the combat and, for a short time, the main hall was empty and unguarded; however, the fighting soon began again. Hector, having used this respite to reorganize his forces and fearing what might have befallen the group that was supposed to protect Alaric, led a renewed assault on the alternates.

    Selax emerged from Alaric's chambers in the midst of the fighting. Calmly battling his way through Hector's forces, he moved toward Wizard's location. The elemental did not believe that Wizard's men were likely to lose the battle, but he did not intend to waste any more time on it. Minutes later, he reappeared, but this time he held Alaric in one hand and was holding his sword to the unconscious Land King with his other hand.

    "Surrender," he stated.

    "You wouldn't dare," Hector snarled.

    "You are in error," Selax replied, as he pressed the tip of the blade to the King's neck.

    "No!" Hector yelled. Looking defeated, he stepped back. "How do I know you won't kill him and the rest of us if we do surrender?"

    "He is clearly more valuable alive as a hostage. Something similar is true of you."

    Hector hesitated. He did not know if Alaric could actually be killed by a sword, but he did know that if Alaric died Cythera would die with him. Given the skill of the forces they were facing and the fact that the other Wizard had now emerged to stand next to the elemental, he could see no way that his men could force their way to Alaric in time to save him. Indeed, it did not seem likely that they would be able to win the ensuing fight at all. As captain of the guard sworn to protect the King, he could see no alternative.

    Reluctantly, he turned to his men and ordered, "Stand down."

    With equal reluctance, his men obeyed.

    "Secure them," Wizard told his soldiers. Turning to the defeated guards, he added, "I don't recommend trying anything, not if you want your Land King to see tomorrow."

    After a few minutes, he turned to Selax, who had turned Alaric over to some of the other alternates. The two drew off into Alaric's empty room.

    "What happened?" Wizard demanded. "Where is the Crolna and what was that explosion about?"

    Selax briefly explained the events that had occurred in the Void room.

    "What?" Wizard said sharply. "He's alive? How is that possible? You said you had made certain!"

    "The properties of the rift are unique even to me. It must have enabled him to hold his essence together."

    "Well, now what? Do you know what happened to him?"

    "Not yet. The situation is not beyond recovery. His condition is poor."

    "That hardly lessens the threat," Wizard snorted. "He knows too much." He paused. "Still, you may have a point. We have a large number of our forces on hand, even with the betrayals, disappearances, and all. We also have Alaric, if things go really badly."

    "It is best to make sure he stays in shock. His power is too great for us to risk accessing his mind."

    "True," Wizard mused. "It might be best if we tried to keep this victory a secret from this Cythera. No need yet to alarm the rest of the populace after all." He glanced at Selax. "What about—"

    "Do not worry about that now. It is of little consequence."

    Wizard nodded, still looking unhappy. Then, his face brightened.

    "Well, at least we've captured my counterpart."

    "Indeed, come. We must prepare for this changed situation."

    The two continued to talk for some time.

    Far below them, in the tunnels that ran under Land King Hall, Rapierian limped along. The necromancer had been hoping to get rid of his alternate while he was vulnerable, but Alcyone had interrupted his attack. In his rather battered condition, it had taken him some effort to deal with the magess, and, by the time the battle was over, he found himself in the tunnels, a fact which he decided that he might as well use to his advantage. Besides, the exit had partially collapsed behind him and he didn't feel like trying to dig it out by himself.

    He did not know what had become of the others, but he hoped his doppelganger was dead. If not, he would have to remedy that situation. Pausing to consider this thought, Rapierian began to chuckle and then to howl with laughter. Still laughing, the necromancer continued on his way.



  • Just off the coast north of Land King Hall, K stood among the trees a little apart from the others, keeping watch. She listened intently for any sign of being followed, but the forest was silent.

    She turned to look behind her at the makeshift camp they had set up. Katerei was tending to Rapierian's wounds and seemingly ignoring everything else. The ranger himself passed in and out of wakefulness, but Katerei said little else than that he seemed to be developing a fever. The news seemed to worry her and she immediately returned her attention to his care.

    Avatara was keeping watch over Moonshadow, who had yet to wake. He had spread out his black cloak on the ground and gently laid her down on it, her long silver hair falling softly around her. He sat near her now, keeping close watch in case she woke. K looked on in silence, trying not to think about the bitter taste it left in her mouth.

    It would do no good to antagonize Avatara right now though. Not more than she had to. K sighed and approached him quietly. "I think we'll be safe here. No one seems to have come after us."

    "I suppose we'll find out for sure soon enough," he replied dismissively.

    K frowned. She wouldn't be able to speak to him properly while he was distracted with her. "Av," she said softly. "Can I talk to you? I mean... away from everyone else?"

    He quietly looked up at her for a moment before nodding agreement.

    She glanced over at her alternate, still focused on setting Rapierian's leg. "It shouldn't take long. I doubt they'll even notice we're gone."

    He followed her into a small copse where the trees grew closer together, where they would be out of earshot. K turned to face him, biting her lip nervously. She hadn't really thought through what she was going to say. "I know we've... seen some strange things in this world," she began haltingly. "I'm still getting used to having another me around. I'm sure it's hard for you to see... her again."

    He was slow to reply, as if choosing his words carefully, "I never thought I would see her face again."

    "You understand though, don't you?" K studied his face, but found him as frustratingly unreadable as ever. "You understand that she's not the same. She might not even know you when she wakes. She might... not feel the same way as your Moonshadow did."

    "I know that," he replied softly. A wave of sadness crossed over his face, "I know that even though she may look the same, she has led a different life, just like you have."

    His words stung more than expected, as the image of the other Katerei flashed into her mind. She remembered when Avatara said that the other her reminded him of how she, herself, used to be.

    He continued, "Besides, I saw the ring on her finger-"

    "She's married?" K was momentarily distracted. She hadn't noticed the ring - hadn't gotten close enough to see. It made her skin crawl just to be near the Elf.

    Avatara smiled wistfully, "Even if we had a similar life in this world, I'm not the one she married. No, the Moonshadow I knew is gone, and no amount of wishful thinking will ever bring her back."

    "I'm sorry." K felt tears prick her eyes and wondered, in some part of her mind, if guilt like this ever faded.

    "I didn't mean it like that..." he started.

    She shook her head, paused to steady her breathing. "None of this was supposed to end this way." She stepped forward and almost reached out to touch him, before pulling back. "I'd change it all if I could."

    "You can't change the past."

    "No. Just the future."

    Avatara looked straight at K. "You've fulfilled your promise. You risked your life to help me fight Selax, and though it didn't turn out the way I had hoped, you've done more than I asked for." The hint of a grim smile crept onto his face, "In fact, I'd probably have died if it wasn't for you." Just as quickly, he cleared his face of all visible emotion, "I hereby absolve you of your burden and forgive you for the choice you made."

    K looked at him in stunned silence. I don't deserve that , was her immediate reaction. She should be relieved - ecstatic - and yet... that was it. Closure. Now he didn't need her anymore. Forgiveness had never felt so much like rejection. "Thank you," she said, her voice barely audible.

    When she said nothing else, he waited for a moment before turning back toward the camp. "Wait," she cried out and grabbed his arm, suddenly terrified that this was her last chance. "Where does that leave us? Do we just go our separate ways and never see each other again?"

    Avatara paused before replying, "I'll leave that for you to decide. But, you shouldn't feel forced to follow me around out of guilt anymore."

    "That's not the only reason I promised to help you before." She looked at him sadly, realizing that even now, he thought that was all that mattered to her. "I still care. I want to come with you."

    "Are you sure? I don't know what will happen. I don't think Selax really died in that explosion; he's too crafty to let something like that end him. If that's the case, he probably won't let us just walk away and pretend none of this ever happened."

    "Then we'll be better off together."

    "It'll be dangerous." He seemed to watch her for signs of changing her mind, but she stared back resolutely. After a moment of silence, he finally turned back towards the camp and gestured.

    "Well then, what should we do now?"

    This post has been edited by Avatara : 04 August 2011 - 11:18 PM


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