Fading Hopes


  • Global Moderator

    OoC

    This could probably use a bit more polish, and I might do so at some point; however, it's late tonight, so editing will have to wait.

    This is based on a plot bunny that occurred to me sometime ago. I wouldn't regard it as an official continuation to Dark Mirror (though it could be an interesting one).

    BiC

    The rain pelted down fiercely. The wind blew cold across the empty plains around the portal.

    Tiernan huddled miserably under his cloak. The downpour intensified, and he again questioned his sanity.

    Nothing. He shouldn’t have bothered to come.

    He’d had to though—when Delthoras had told him that Grapper had found the paths to Cythera were reappearing, it had stirred something all but forgotten to him: hope.

    He’d had to come…hadn’t he?

    Numbly, he climbed to his feet and slowly moved toward the portal. He could scarcely see it amidst the gloom, but he knew the way almost by heart.

    Why? Why didn’t you come?

    The opening rose up before him, and he stopped with a start as he saw someone come to an abrupt halt in front of him.

    “Katerei?” Tiernan called out and began to run forward. Tthe vague shadowy form seemed to do the same coming closer…he reached out…

    Lightning flashed…and he saw himself reflected dimly in the gateway before him.

    The wild hope that had leaped up in him now died away, and he halted abruptly, skidding in the mud so that he fell, striking the mirrored surface and bouncing off of it.

    Wait…mirrored surface?

    In all the time he had observed it, the portal had never changed. Yet, now, when he looked up, he saw a shining film like glass drawn across it.

    Tiernan staggered to his feet only to get knocked backward over by the backwash of energy from the gateway as it opened.

    He landed in a splash of mud.

    A moment later something landed heavily beside him, throwing yet more mud over him.

    Dazed, Tiernan staggered to his feet and wiped at his eyes, finally succeeding in clearing the grime enough to see. For a moment, there was nothing but the growing darkness and driving rain. Then, he heard a faint groan from nearby. He turned toward the sound and took an uncertain step.

    Lightning flared again, allowing for a brief glimpse of the woman lying in the mud before him.

    “Katerei?!”

    It couldn’t be. It had to be a dream, yet, when the lightning flashed, she was still there, lying limply, bleeding heavily from a cut along her face—

    What?

    Torn between doubt, elation, and terror, Tiernan was about to drop his knees beside Katerei when someone loomed up in the darkness behind her.

    Again, the sky flashed white for a moment, and he could see the man before him.

    The man was a stranger of average height and build. One of his arms hung limply. The face was unfamiliar, weary, and ravaged by burns, but Tiernan saw the man’s calm, neutral expression—saw his eyes and then knew.

    You,” Tiernan snarled. The emotional whiplash of the last few minutes faded away, replaced by a blinding rage.

    “Calm yourself—“ the man began.

    Tiernan didn’t stop to listen. He didn’t even really hear the other speak. All thought was gone, buried beneath a burning fury greater than he had ever experienced.

    Instead, he lunged forward with a roar—

    “What did you do to her?!”

    —and punched Selax squarely in the noise.

    His expression briefly pained, Selax fell back, almost catching himself before Tiernan hit him again. He toppled backward into the slimy earth, but Tiernan wasn’t even started. He was too enraged to even be surprised that he had hit Selax or to wonder why Selax had to try to stand.

    “What did you do?!” he screamed, as he stepped between the other and Katerei.

    A towering wall of flame leapt up before him and tore toward Selax. At the last moment, a gust of wind blew it apart, causing it to split around its target, missing it by a hair.

    “We must—“ Selax began, having just managed to stand. Again, he got no further before Tiernan was on him.

    The enraged mage threw another stream of flame at him. Selax gestured with his one good hand, and the fire twisted aside, bending before the wind. Tiernan threw his fist at him, and Selax blocked it partially on his bad arm, although the force almost threw him off his feet. Tiernan attacked again faster than he could hope to dodge. Summoning another, noticeably weaker, blast of wind, he managed to slow the other down, reducing the force of the blow.

    Nevertheless, Selax fell again. He tried to speak once more.

    “Time is—“

    Tiernan kicked him hard, and he toppled back, gasping for breath and reeling under a hail of impacts.

    Somehow, he managed to throw another gust at Tiernan, sending the other stumbling back a step.

    Taking advantage of the moment, Selax lurched halfway to his feet.

    Steel rang, and he looked up to meet Tiernan’s eyes. The other had drawn his sword and begun to raise for a killing stroke. Both were well-aware that Selax could not hope to deflect the attack in his current condition. He didn’t even try. He merely gazed at Tiernan with a calm, almost curious expression. This only served to anger the mage further.

    Steam rose around them. The rain boiling away in the fire of Tiernan’s anger. He lifted the blade—

    “…Tiernan?”

    Forgetting all about Selax, he turned, and his heart leapt as Katerei managed to rise to her feet.

    For moment, both simply stared—

    “Flee, you idiots,” Selax broke in, anger clearly showing in his voice.

    The energy backwash exploded from the opening portal.

    Unprepared, Tiernan and Katerei were both thrown to the ground once more while Selax managed to keep to his feet.

    The gloom cleared away around them. Katerei’s joyous expression turned to one of dread and horror as she saw the newcomer emerge from the gateway. Tiernan looked and immediately threw himself protectively between her and the woman now stepping away from the portal.

    The stranger was tall, dressed in faded grey robes that somewhat resembled those of a Cytheran mages. Clearly elderly, she nevertheless stood erect as she studied them keenly through bright blue eyes, which somehow still seemed bleary. Long white hair fell from her head; however, Tiernan could not see her face, hidden as it was behind a curiously ill-fitting mask. She clutched a thin iron staff—the source of the faint illumination growing around them—in one hand.

    “You poor children,” she said softly and sadly. Her voice was that of a kind, well-meaning old woman, and there was a hint of genuine sympathy and compassion in it; however, something about it made Tiernan’s skin crawl.

    “Otaekodu,” Katerei whispered in horror.

    “Poor children,” the woman continued, taking no notice of her. The compassion was even more evident in her voice. “So burdened and harmed by the cares of life. So in need of help.”

    She lifted her staff, and the glow from it intensified.

    “Please…let me help you be free from your troubles…”



  • This is great! I completely forgot about the otaekodu, so I totally didn't see that coming and it was exciting ^_^ I also like the ominous ending, and I hope that sometime you or someone else will write a continuation!



  • :O :O :O


  • Global Moderator

    @453 said in Fading Hopes:

    This is great! I completely forgot about the otaekodu, so I totally didn't see that coming and it was exciting ^_^ I also like the ominous ending, and I hope that sometime you or someone else will write a continuation!

    Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it. It occurred to me afterward that I probably should have linked to the other story with the character, but it's probably a bit late for that now. I have a couple of vague ideas for a continuation, but I doubt anything will come of them for awhile (though one never knows).

    @Katerei said in Fading Hopes:

    :O :O :O

    Until told otherwise, I'm going to assume that means you enjoyed the story :p .



  • @Selax said in Fading Hopes:

    Until told otherwise, I'm going to assume that means you enjoyed the story :p .

    I like any story that reunites Tiernan and Katerei – it's about time – but now I'm scared for them D:

    I also liked the part where Tiernan punched Selax!


  • Global Moderator

    I’m not certain why you’d be concerned. Didn’t you read that the Otaekodu is only there to help :p ?

    I kind of figured that part would be a favorite for people.