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Tikanni Corazon
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 1:17 pm    Post subject: Character Experiment! Game Thread Reply with quote




It was pitch black, and yet he could see them. Several people sat around the table before him, all of them looking around trying to see a speck of existence in the darkness. A cruel smile twitched at the corners of his mouth, though his eyes lacked any mirth. Not that anyone could see.

He gave a wave of his hand and there was a splutter as a set of three candles at the centre of the table burst into light. The light was dim, just enough to light up the table itself. Those who sat around it, confused and unknowing about all, remained overshadowed, save for the faintest outline, alerting each other to their presence alone, but not their identity.

He cleared his throat, a grating sound cutting through the quiet room.

"I know your confusion..." he stated. "You know not who you are, or why you're here. What will follow will be a journey of discovery for each of you. You come here from different times and ways of life...The purpose? Well, you'll discover that eventually."

He paused, looking around at them, taking in their bewildered visages.

"For now though...turn over the first card, and begin your journey..."

_________________
.... there is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast, it is all a sham....
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, 1887


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 1:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

She could feel her body trembling as she looked around into nothingness. Whether due to blindness or the dark alone, she found that she couldn't see anything, and it scared her greatly. She was seated, she realised, in a high-back comfortably cushioned chair with arm rests on either side, though it didn't make her feel comforted or any less uneasy. Though she could see nothing, she sensed that she wasn't alone in this place...wherever this place might be...

There is a sudden pop and fizz directly ahead of her, and a dim light appears at the centre of a large, round table, where a trio of candles are set. The glow from their lighted wicks allows enough light for the table alone to be given identity in the darkness. There are other figures sat at intervals around the circular surface. Their outlines are dimly visible, but only enough to make it known that they're there.

Her unnerved state unflinching in it's hold, she gulps, her gaze drifting down the part of the table directly ahead of her and landing upon a set of cards. There are six laid out flat before her, the first five set in a perfectly straight line and each numbered one to five, working their way across. The sixth card set apart from the rest, positioned below them and directly in front of her. It has no number, merely a mask without a face upon it. There is something forboding about this card, and something inside her fears turning it over.

She starts violently at the voice that booms from out of the shadows, almost crying out in her state of panic. At the orders given, she looks down at the cards again, a single tear tracking down her cheek. Not daring to disobey, she reaches out a hand and flips over the card reading '1'...

~~~


"The organism appears to be mostly organic...aside from the protrusion of a set of large mandibles at the head and another at the rear..."

Frowning, Jenna put the recording device on pause, then got to her feet and left her workdesk for a moment, to stride across to the counter on the other side of the lab. She picked up a long, slender pair of tweezers and a thin probing tool, then flicked on the kettle as an after-thought. Making her way back over to the desk, she re-seated herself, and returned her gaze to the microscope lens before her, clicking the device back to record.

"Due to the overly large size and unnatural shape of the mandibles, and, in the case of the latter, the location, it can be assumed that they're either subject to..." Jenna paused, as she grasped one of the rear pincers with the tweezers, taking up a set of narrow-ended scissors and snipping it away from the rest of the creature with a quiet but audible snap. She used her free hand to slip a pair of tech-goggles over her eyes and switched them to zoom, then held the removed body-part up to the light. There was a small bleeping noise as she clicked the enlarge button on the side of the goggles and a soft whirring as they zoomed in. Tilting the mandible this way and that, she bit down softly on her lower lip as she examined it, then suddenly started to smile behind the mask covering the lower half of her face.

"Bingo," she whispered, then grinned. She cleared her throat and continued. "It can be assumed that they're either subject to unnatural mutation due to exposure to heightened radiation levels ...or purposeful synthetic mutation... After examination, I believe the latter to be true." She gazed almost hungrily at the glimmer of metallic particles within the hard shell of the mandible. "The usage of more sophisticated technology will be required in order to prove my theory. Such technology is currently unavailable. Subject will be contained and preserved until we return to headquarters in two weeks time. Dr J. Pelloma signing off."

Jenna clicked off the recorder once again, popping the mandible back into the container alongside the rest of 'Subject 45A', and screwing the lid on tightly. She labelled the container 'Subject 45A / Last Examined:19/04/2033', the smile never leaving her face, then removed the disk from the recording device and labelled it the same. She got up from her seat again, taking the container with her, and made her way over to the large walk-in freezer. Opening the door, the whoosh of cold air flooding out as she entered hit her. She made her way down the narrow corridor inside, flanked on either side by row upon row of gold-hued drawers. Millions had been spent fitting out the entire storage system aboard the ship with the newly developed metal, Midoxia. She stopped at a point a few feet from the entrance, and pulled open one of the hundreds of drawers. There was a hiss and a cloud of cold air was expelled at the action. Jenna placed Subject 45A carefully inside and closed it back up again, giving the flawlessly smooth, gold surface an affectionate pat, before exiting the storage room and securing the door shut.


She leaned back against the closed door, closing her eyes and breathing deeply.

"I've got you..." she whispered. "After all the years, I've finally got you, you bastards..."

~~~

Jenna left the lab, removing her latex gloves and tossing them in the bin outside the door, along with the mask. She walked through to the changing rooms, slipping her slim, womanly frame out of her lab clothes, and into her casuals. She pulled a loose-fitting red-checked shirt over the grey vintage band tee displaying the legend 'The Killers', then yanked on her black skinny jeans. Seating herself to pull on her patent leather, chunky high-heeled ankle boots, she couldn't prevent herself from letting out a chuckle, shaking her head in disbelief as she tightened the laces.

"I've got you..." she repeated, and sighed the sigh of one having reached a goal they'd tried so long to hit, it had almost become a fantasy to think it would ever happen. She slapped her knees lightly and stood once again, pulling the bandana from around her choppily-cut shoulder-length hair, shaking out the ebony locks slightly as she shoved the bandana and her lab clothes into her locker.


She walked out of the changing room and down the corridor towards the galley. She pushed open the door and sauntered inside. Captain Dornal Vesta was seated at a table, a steaming pot of coffee before him as he conversed with the Master of Gunnery, Holt Bardo. Both looked up as Jenna entered and the Captain smiled.

"Afternoon, Jenna," he said, gesturing to a free seat. "Been working hard I trust?"

Jenna returned the smile as she wandered over to the counter and flicked on the CD player, and took up the offer, sliding into the chair to her Captain's left as Mick Jagger's voice exited the speakers.

"Oh, I have," she assured him, nodding as she poured herself a coffee and took a sip. "And...I'm fairly certain I've found what we've been looking for."

Vesta's eyes widened slightly, his expression clearly shocked. Bardo's visage marked the same astonishment, and Jenna nodded to both of them that she wasn't kidding. The Captain's mouth curved up into a smile, the action causing the very beginnings of laughter lines to deepen at the outer corners of his eyes. He was a few years older than Jenna's twenty-eight years, but she couldn't help marking how attractive he was as his face lit up glee.

"You, missy, are brilliant!" he said, getting to his feet and pulling Jenna out of hers as well, and into a hug, lifting her off the ground and laughing as he did so. He let her slip back to the floor, though he kept a gentle hold of her upper arms. "How? What did you find?"

"Traces of Midoxia in the mandibles...well, in the rear mandibles. But that's enough, isn't it?" Jenna beamed at Vesta, sharing his excitment whole-heartedly. "It proves that NOVA have been performing unauthorised experiments. And I doubt their reasons for doing so are going to be good. This is it, Captain. We could bring them down with this evidence!"

"That we could!" Vesta grinned down at her. He ran his hands down her arms, the motion gentle and affectionate, then he pulled her into another hug. "And I'll show you just how much I appreciate your hard work and dedication to the cause later on," he continued in the softest of whispers, speaking into Jenna's ear. "Your quarters."

It wasn't meant as a question, but Jenna nodded discreetly just the same, her heart starting to beat faster in anticipation. The Captain pulled back and looked down at her.

"Good work, Dr Pelloma," he said with a short salute.

Jenna returned it with a grin.

"Thank you, Captain," she said, retaking her seat and watching as he did the same. She looked over to Holt, who winked at her.

"Congratulations Jenna," he said, and she nodded her thanks as she took a sip of her coffee.

Suddenly alarms began to ring out, deafeningly loud. Jenna spluttered over her drink and looked around, getting to her feet once again and frowning. Holt and Vesta both did likewise.

"WARNING! WARNING!" came the robotic voice of the main computer system aboard the ship. "INTRUDER ALERT! INTRUDER ALERT! WARNING! WARNING!"

~~~

The memory ended, and the card slipped from her fingertips. Her breath came in stuttered bursts at the vividity of it as the images and names came back to her...her own name included. She looked down at the card, stark white against the dark wood of the table. On it, in gently swirling script, was written -

Dr Jenna Pelloma - Scientist and part of the exploritory group aboard the ship 'Darkness Calls' - April 19th 2033

_________________
.... there is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast, it is all a sham....
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, 1887




Last edited by Tikanni Corazon on Thu Apr 04, 2013 8:23 am; edited 2 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 3:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The darkness that surrounded her held a certain comfort for her. But also a terror. She had no clue where...or really who...she was. Before she could figure anything out, a trio of candles lit up in the center of the room revealing a table and seven cards. She stared at the cards long and hard for a moment before reaching out and placing her long, ivory fingers on the one marked with a 1 and sighed before flipping it over.

**********

The young girl trotted happily along the trail, her dress flowing gently along behind her. She was on her way to pick some wildflowers to grace the table of her family's cottage. She wasn't really supoosed to leave the village's edge but she didn't care about that rule. Any rule really. She wanted to see pretty flowers at dinnertime,wanted her mother to smile, so she was going into the woods to pick them. She had to be quick though. It wasn't long before nightfall would come and there were rumors of bandits in the woods. Not to mention that the village would be searching furiously for her.

She skipped along the path, slowing only when she saw the opening to the forest. The road from the village did not lead into the forest as no one ventured in there often enough to warrant it. Yet, they all knew that that gap in the tree was the forest's door because right in front of it was a scarecrow. The inanimate man had to be somewhere over six feet, a giant in the eyes of an eight-year-old. He was dressed in a tattered and stained tunic as well as a pair of pants that were tied off with a belt of rope. Its arms sat outstretched, hidden in the sleeves of an old fancy coat. At one point, he had had a hat but a creature of some sort had made off with it. Instead, its burlap sack was plainly visible, straw coming out of the top and hanging down like flaxon hair.

Her village called him Inger. Their word for angel. Though no one could rightly remember why he had been given that title anymore. They all feared him. Everybody but her. She liked him. She liked his funny clothes, the way he towered over her, the way someone had drawn a dark face on him. Everything. Every time she made a trip to get flowers, she always left one for him because even scarecrows need pretty things. Skipping up to him, she took the flower usually reserved for her hair and sat it on the stone at his feet before skipping merrily into the woods.

Losing track of time, she moved deeper and deeper into the woods, searching for her favorite area to pick up some pretties. A few hours passed and the sun started to set, causing the forest to start becoming dark. Once a good portion of the light was gone and she realized that her village would be starting to worry, she turned with the handful of various plants she had picked and started to skip back the way she came. More time passed. It was soon pitch black and it didn't seem like she was any closer to the road. Fear started to well up inside her. She must have gotten turned around.

In this darkness, she'd never find her way back. Tears flooded her eyes. This had to be the right way. Her skipping had long since ceased and she instead, strode slowly, clutching her flowers close to her. The fear was starting to build and was threatening to become an all out panic. Then she saw it. Light.

She picked up her pace and moved quickly between the trees. Light meant people. People meant she could go home. The light got closer and closer until she could finally make out who carried it. There were four men. One of them was a gigantic and reminded her of some of the bears she had seen around. In front of him were a set of twins, they were tall and thin, like people sized stick bugs, and finally there was the man with the lantern. He was tall, maybe just under six feet. He had a fair amount of muscle and a long shaggy beard. On the top of his head sat a large dusty hat.

“Lookie here, boys,” the man with the lantern said. “What's yous doin' out 'ere so late, girlie? You lost?”

The little girl nodded.

“Aw...poor lil thing. Tell you what, 'ow bouts you come wif me an' my boys an' maybe we gets you a bit unlost. Sound good?”

The girl wanted to get out of the forest, wanted to go home, but these men scared her. She shook her head and started to back away. One of the twins started toward her on one wide while his doppleganger went toward the other.

“You sure, lil miss? We'd be glad to take you along.”

The little girl spun and started to pick up her pace. Before she knew it, the twins were in front of her. The Man with the Lantern started to laugh.

“I'm afraid that that last bit wasn't exaclty a question, love. Yer comin' wif. I'm sure yer family be givin' a nice hefty price for a lil angel like you. Now come along real nice like....”

The little girl responded by liking both the twins in the shins and starting to race through the forest. Behind her, she could hear the lantern man start bellowing out orders. Soon after, the sounds of people chasing her reached her ears. She was in a full panic now. The rumors of bandits were true, she had no idea how to get home and it was starting to look like she would never get home.

It didn't take long for one of the men to catch up to her. The bear-man wrapped his arms around her and hoisted her off the ground.

“That's a girl, now let's go. Edgar, bring her fast and let's get going. We'll send a messenger to that gyspy village in the morning.”

The little girl struggled and kicked but it was of no avail. They were going to take her. Her mind raced as she thought of her village and as tears burst out of her eyes like a waterfall, she found herself crying to the heavens, begging for help.

“Mommy,” she wailed, “Daddy.”

Then a name raced to her mind and she had no idea why. It was just there prompting her to be released.

“Inger,” she called. A few seconds after the word left her lips, there was a wet slicing sound that resemble a melon being cut open.

The bear man stopped moving. Through the wall of tears in her eyes, the little girl could see the shadow of the lantern man as he fell to the ground, the lantern collapsing next to him.

“Boss,” the bear man said. “Boss, what happened? You alright?” He sat her down and started to march toward the fallen body. The twins stood by her side with their hands on her shoulders. Behind her, there was a cracking of twigs and all of a sudden, neither twin was there anymore. She spun around and saw that neither man was located there anymore.

“Finnegan? Sheamus?” the bear man's voice said. “Screw this.” he said after a a moment of silence. The girl turned and saw him charging at her. He scooped her up with one arm. A flurry of kicks and punches came from the little girl as she tried to resist. It was no use. In response, his arm got tighter around her, cutting off her air supply. The world was starting to fade. Right before it went black it felt like she was falling. No. She was. She hit the ground with a thud. In the midst of the darkness before her, several twigs snapped. A shadow of a figure stepped in front of her. Before her world disappeared, she felt them placing something in her hair, right behind her ear.

She awoke some time later to the sound of delighted screams. As her eyes opened her mother embraced her. Behind her, a majority of the village was gathered. It took a few moments but she realized that she was home, right outside the forest entrance. A small though burrowed into her brain. Reaching up she could feel her flower behind her ear. The same one she had left by the entrance before she left.

Her mother scooped her up and started on the way back to the village. Over her mother's shoulder, the little girl could see Inger, except something was different. Now, he was wearing a large, dusty hat.

**********

The woman gasped as the memory washed away from her brain, the image of the scarecrow still lingering. She looked down at the card and blinked as she saw the name written upon it. Her name, written in crimson letters in an elegant script.

Nevin – The Scarecrow Child of the Gypsies

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The darkness is like a cool embrace all around him. Despite the disconcerting lack of understanding of just what's going on or where he is, the tall man can not help but feel safe within the darkness. The sound of beating hearts ring in his ears as the light flares to life before him. He shuts his eyes as the sudden illumination stings his eyes. When he hears the voice, he cranes his neck, his eyes opening slightly to try and find it's source. Unable to pinpoint the speaker he instead turns to the table once again. Shifting in his seat so the padding beneath his backside sits more comfortable beneath him, he examines the cards. With a deep exhale, colder than the air around him, he reaches out a hand to the card labeled '1', his frilled cuff brushing the other cards around it.




~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


Looking around carefully, the young man creeps slowly towards the stable. His bare feet make little noise on the hard packed earth leading in and out of the building. Sounds from within confirm that there is more then one person inside. The Shoomocker estate boasts over 50 employees to serve the four remaining heirs to the Shoomocker name. Jack can't help but smile at the barking laugh coming from the stable. The laugh belongs to the horsemaster, and if he's in a good mod, then it is very likely that Jack's day will start off the right way. It is an hour at least before proper sun up, but the light of the impending dawn is enough to cast ominous shadows across the face of the manor to his left. The many large windows are as black gaping maws ready to devour the day as it comes. Reaching the edge of the wooden structure Jack pauses. Slipping up against the side wall he peeks around to the front where the doors stand partially open. He can not see inside from his vantage point, but he can clearly hear the goings on.

“That's it boy, put your back into it!” The booming voice of Horsemaster Walters belts out.

“Yes sir. I'll get it done faster today. You can count on it.” Jack's heart races at the sound of Merkis's voice. His tone is strong but subtle, with a soft touch of cheek behind everything he says. When speaking to others at least. When with Jack, there's something else in there. Something that makes every word love to his ears. The shadow of the horsemaster in the doorway makes Jack pull back, out of sight. His hard boots crunch in the dirt and occasional rock as the large man makes his way back to the house for his morning tea. With a sigh and a smile Jack creeps around to the doorway. There he stands still, admiring the vision before him.

A young man, the same age as Jack but at least three inches taller, his blond hair a stark contrast to Jack's own dark brown almost black ponytail, stands near the back corner with a wooden pitchfork in his hands. As he watches the blonde sinks the fork into a pile of hay that had been push from the loft above to the floor below and pulls out a large hunk of the golden strands. Shirtless with beads of sweat slowly rolling down his slightly built frame, the young man turns and starts moving towards the closest stall. Jack smiles as the youngest son of the Noble who owns the estate goes about his work with determined efficiency. It takes a few trips for Merkis to notice his admirer. When he does he pauses for only a moment before giving the young man in the doorway a warm smile. A smile reserved for only him. Jack pushes of the door and walks past Merkis to the row of equipment along the back wall. Pulling down a second pitchfork he begins helping with Merkis's morning chores.

Merkis's father had insisted that his sons wouldn't grow up weak like the other boys of the Shoomocker line, all of whom are dead now save for the father and two sons residing at the estate. The elder son was sent to work with the local militia and spends most of his week with the other soldiers. The father however has always been a bit more protective of his younger son and has never let him off the grounds without an escort. It was on one such excursion into the world outside the walls of the estate that Merkis had met Jack. As Jack slides up beside Merkis to continue working he can't help but smile as he recalls the look on Merkis's face when his horse had literally thrown the young noble to the ground for kicking too much. It was after that incident that his father decided it was time for Merkis to learn to deal with horses.

The two work in silence for half an hour, content to simply be in one anothers' presence. When the work is done Merkis head to the rack to hang up his pitchfork. As soon as the handle slips from his fingers a strong arm wraps around his waist. His heart begins to beat hard, threatening to burst out of his chest. He lets himself be pulled flush against the body behind him, a low noise leaving his throat. Hot breath caresses his ear and he leans further into the embrace.

“Missed you.” The low voice in his ear makes Merkis shudder slightly. Turning in the embrace he slip his arms beneath Jacks before sliding his hands up the others' shoulder blades to clutch his shoulders in his large hands.

Laying his head on Jack shoulder he lets out a sigh. “And I you love.” The two stand for a time, the heat from there bodies almost shimmering around them in the cool morning air. The light from the impending dawn adds only a little illumination to the lamp light casting shadows around the stalls. Pulling back Jack presses a soft kiss to his lover's lips. They both smile as the kiss grows deeper, their passions flaring. Before they lose themselves to their carnal needs Jack pulls back once again, this time detatching from the other completely. Merkis whines, his eyes pleading before he notices Jack heading for the ladder leading to the hayloft above. Jack chuckles and darts up the ladder. Merkis takes the rungs two at a time after him and soon the two boys are tumbling through the hay strewn loft. Hands on hot flesh and fingers tugging at interfering clothing, the lovers become oblivious to the world around them.

Any thoughts of station or birthright fall away like tears as the love between them flourishes, blooming into affection so strong the heavens themselves are silent before the torrent of passion. The horses below snort and whinny, as if caught up the the storm above.

_+_+_+_+_+_+_

“So, your father is leaving on his yearly hunting trip tomorrow. Any plans on what shenanigans your going to pull while he's gone?” Jack casts a grin over his shoulder at the blonde, still reclined on a pile of hay. Merkis grins back, motioning for Jack to come over to him. Finishing with the ties on his trousers Jack lets out a laugh before wandering back across the loft to stand between his lover's feet. Kneeling down he falls forward a bit so that he's laying atop Merkis, his chin propped up on the others breastbone.

Merkis reaches down and begins running his fingers through Jack dark sweaty locks. “I shudder to think what my life would be like without you Jack.” His tone is light but Jack senses the truth behind the words.

Pushing up a little further he kisses Merkis softly. “We can never know what the future holds, but I can swear on this day that for as long as I may, I will remain by your side, and you will forever reside in my heart.” Merkis smiles, pulling the smaller boy up so that he can kiss him proper. Once they finally break Jack feels his heartbeat picking up again. With a deep breath he regains his feet and gives Merkis a hard look.

“Now, I know as the son of a noble, you may have all the time in the world, but I as a lowly peasant have work to get to if I wish to remain fed and clothed.” He chides jokingly.

Merkis laughs slightly sitting up and reaching for his pants. As he pulls them on his gaze locks on the loft's floor. “It won't always be that way, if I have anything to say about it.” The tone in his voice makes Jack smile.

Pulling the other to his feet Jack pulls him in for a firm hug. When he pulls back Merkis takes hold of his hands and brings them up to his face to inspect them. The callouses and scars running from fingertip to palm make him sigh. Leaning in he kisses first one palm, then the other. Jack turns his face away for a moment before sliding his hands up to grasp the others' face between them. With a smirk he says, “I like working my love. Even the hard work I do makes me happy, like I'm accomplishing something with my simple life.” Merkis continues to look down for several seconds before looking up into Jack's eyes soulfully. With one final passionate kiss Jack turns and heads for the ladder. At the stable door he pauses and looks back at his lover, now standing at the edge of the loft. They share a warm smile before Jack turns and makes his way swiftly off the grounds.

It's almost half a mile walk from the grounds down the long winding dirt road flanked by lush green hills leading up to the estate. Having taken the shortcut across the grass it takes Jack only about 7 minutes to reach town. Once in town his pace slows. A few stalls are already set up along the main street running through town, and their owners give him only quick glances as he walks past. Everyone knows Jack, the apprentice blacksmith, and his tendency to stroll into town about the same time every morning. The old elven woman running her herb stand gives him a little wave as he passes and he returns it with a half bow.

As he enters the smithy he pulls his shirt of and hangs it on a hook by the door. His master is already at the forge, stoking the furnace to the right temperature. A good two heads taller then Jack the smith dwarfs almost everybody in town. The roof had been raised when he took over the forge years ago. Looking over his shoulder at Jack the minotaur's black eyes furrow sternly at his young apprentice. Jack gives him a sheepish look before taking up a bucket and walking towards the back door where the water pump sits just outside.

“Been up to the estate again.” The deep voice pulls Jack to a stop. It wasn't a question. Without turning around Jack nods the affirmative. The smith shakes his head, his shaggy fur fluffing out slightly as he does. “I'm not one to get in the way of such things Jack, you know that. But you need to be careful. I've heard a lot of rumors about that place. None of them good.” Jack's jaw tightens, but rather than saying anything he simply nods again and heads out the door. It is much cooler outside and as he pups the water into the bucket, his gaze is draw to his left. There, a good distance away but still visible, is the home of the one he loves, sitting all alone atop a high hill.


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


A shudder runs through the man's body as the memory brings a crushing pain to his chest. Pressing his fingers over his breast he notices the distinct lack of a heartbeat and wonders how the memory could affect him if he is dead. He sets the card aside, looking instead at the one directly in front of him. No longer just a blank mask sits upon it's surface. Now, there, in bold but elegant writing are the first touches of his memories.


Jack – Apprentice blacksmith in the town of Hillens, and lover to the local noble's youngest son, Merkis.

_________________

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 23, 2013 10:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

She was shaking. She clasped her hands together and held them tightly against her legs, willing herself to be still, but this made them shake harder, her feet bouncing up and down like they were on springs. She did not know where she was and all around her was an inky darkness. She was afraid.

She jumped as three candles were suddenly lit, the flickering flames softly illuminating the scene. She looked around frantically but could see nothing beyond a table and the cards set upon it. Her eyes widened when she heard the voice and she stared at the set of cards in front of her, each labeled with a different number.

She reached out tentatively towards the card marked ‘1,’ but before she touched it she quickly withdrew her hand and held it against her chest. She looked to her left, into the void between her and whoever the unseen person next to her was, shaking her head vigorously side to side.

Her violent shaking suddenly stopped and she cocked her head to the side like she was listening to something, a strange glint entering her eyes. After a few moments she gently nodded and reached out for the card again, her hand steady, flipping it over.


******

“Do not move, Talo,” said the man sternly as he stroked the brush down her thigh.

“Yes, Master Imar,” she mumbled, moving her lips as little as possible and tightening the muscles of her body, trying not to shiver as the cool paint touched her bronze skin.

With a flourish of the brush, Dhali Imar finished the pattern that he had begun painting on her nearly an hour ago. It was not an elaborate design – mainly bold, black lines and symbols at various points where the essence of her spirit was the strongest – but it was one that needed to be precise. He set the brush to the side and wiped his hand on a cloth he had lying over his shoulder, casting an appraising eye over Talo’s nude form as he did so.

She knew he did not stare out of hunger for her flesh, but it unnerved her all the same and she could not keep the blush from her cheeks. After a few moments Dhali nodded in approval.

Talo sighed, relaxing her muscles slightly. She was nervous. If this did not go well then she would get no further attempts. She would not be alive to try.

She had been under the tutelage of Dhali for nearly two months that consisted mainly of learning from ancient texts and watching as he performed his art. This would be the first time she would be actively practicing anything on her own.

It is necessary, Talo. You cannot hope to be a necromancer without a spirit guardian. The malevolent souls of the netherworld would consume you in seconds.

Dhali had told her this only a week ago. Had told her to prepare herself. She had studied constantly, but still did not feel she was ready. In order to tame a spirit guardian, you had to travel into the depths of your own soul and make the connection with the spirit. The only way to do that was to put yourself in a comatose state where, with one wrong move, you could be dead...or worse – the text did not elaborate on what this was, however it did not bode well.

“Are you ready, Talo?” Dhali asked, interrupting her thoughts.

Gulping, she answered, “Yes, Master Imar,” a slight quaver in her voice.

“Good. Then let us begin,” he walked over to the corner of the room and picked up a bowl of salt. “Show no fear, Talo.”

Talo nodded and tried to smile at him reassuringly. She was sure the expression looked more like a grimace. He stepped forward and poured the salt onto the ground, completing the circle she was standing in.

At first nothing seemed to happen, and then Talo’s vision began to blur, everything shimmered and seemed too bright. She could feel herself breathing rapidly, she was starting to panic. She found Dhali’s face and focused on it. It comforted her some until his features began to twist and contort, making stomach churn. And then the ground dropped from beneath her feet and she was enveloped in darkness.

~~~

She was running. It was a strange weightless feeling. Her mind told her to move quickly, but her body did not comply, her limbs shifted slowly like she was at the bottom of the Turmac River, fighting against the current. She did not know where she was running to, but there was something that propelled her body forward, an urgent need to reach some place in the distant darkness. She noticed that parts of her skin shone with a bright white light and vaguely recognized them as the marks Dhali had painted on her.

A pinprick of light began to glow in front of her. She could not tell what it was, but her heartbeat quickened and she knew this was what she was making her way towards. As the light grew it began to take shape into a creature. It was nothing she had seen before – the front portion of its body and its head were like that of a tiger, but it had horns and an extra set of eyes sitting above its first, the rest of its body was like that of a bull, but its hide was scaly like that of a lizard. There were stripes that traveled the length of its body and they glowed like the marks on Talo’s form.

They were only a few yards from each other when the creature smiled, its teeth dripping red with blood. Before she could stop herself, Talo was before the beast and its claws slashed at her throat.

~~~

She inhaled sharply, coughing and spluttering on her own breath. Her vision slowly came back to her and she realized that she was back in the stone room she had started in. Dhali leaned over her, his eyebrows furrowed in concern. He had her wrapped in his cloak, the smell of earth and incense filled her nose and she concentrated on it until her breathing became steady.

“Did I do it?” she croaked, part of her still unsure if this was a dream or not. Dhali smiled.

“Yes, Talo,” he said soothingly, sweeping a few stray strands of hair out of her face and tucking them her behind her ear. “Nicely done.”

Talo felt herself smile before she drifted off into a deep sleep.

~~~

“How are your lessons with the necromancer going, Talo?”

“Very well, my lord,” Talo bowed as she handed Emperor Alsadi Halom his robe, averting her eyes as he exited the water. She did not like tending to him while he was in the bath – especially when she was the only one there.

“Excellent. It was good to see Dhali finally pick an apprentice. And from my own collection? Very pleasing indeed.

“Yes, my lord,” Talo said her voice even, but her face, hidden by her hair as she remained bent in a respective bow, was twisted in disgust at the man’s comment. “It is an honor.”

“Many things in life are,” he said, shrugging the robe onto his shoulder. There was a brief pause before he continued. “Tell me, Talo, of how many years are you now?”

Talo’s eyes widened and she stood, taking a small step back. “N-nineteen, my lord,” she tried to swallow, but the lump in her throat would not go away. A shiver born of fear ran up her spine.

“And are you spoken for, my dear?”

Her mind screamed at her to lie, but her mouth would not work. She opened and closed it a few times before she managed a small no.

A wicked smile graced his features then. He reached out with a quickness she did not expect of him and grabbed her arm.

“It is okay, girl,” he said caressing Talo’s cheek with his free hand. His words were meant to be reassuring but they did not mask the lust in his voice. Her eyes shifted frantically around the room. If she screamed would anyone hear? Would anyone care?

The hand stroking her cheek stopped and suddenly gripped her jaw, and she squeaked in surprise, her eyes focusing on the man as he began pushing her head down.

“It will be easier if you do not struggle.”

This made her struggle all the more. She began to hit his arm with her fists until his hand faltered and she was able to move her head. Her jaw free, she bit down hard on his thumb. Alsadi yelped in pain and surprise, stumbling backwards slightly. She pushed him with all the force she could muster, and with the aid of the slippery stone floor, he fell with a load thump, a low groan leaving his lips as he landed.

Talo took a few deep breaths to calm herself, trying to keep her hands from shaking. She stared at Alsadi, and after a few moments when he did not move panic began to swell in her. Had she killed him? She shuffled over to his prostrate form carefully.

“M-my lord?” she whispered hesitantly. No answer. She was about to turn and run for a guard when Alsadi’s hand grabbed her ankle and she was pulled to the floor.

******

She gasped and squeezed her eyes shut, a dull throbbing at the back of her skull. Instinctively she pressed her hand against it, while the other clenched into a tight fist around the card. Gritting her teeth against the pain she dropped the card onto the table and read the now misshapen script on its crumpled surface.

Talo Murkasi – apprentice necromancer under the tutelage of Dhali Imar and servant to Emperor Alsadi Halom, ruler of the Starfall Kingdom

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2013 6:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


Was he blind? Moving his hands around, he could feel the edges of a table in front of him. He seemed to be seated before it. What was happening? Who was he? Why was he here? For the life of him, his memories stubbornly refused to unlock themselves to him!

Three small flames suddenly lit in front of him, illuminating the table beneath it. He wasn't alone in the room, he realised. Whenever the candles were kind enough to flicker in a particular direction, he could sometimes spot a shadow seated before the table, like himself.

Then, someone cleared their throat loudly and spoke with authority behind the cover of darkness. The disembodied voice only spouted out riddles. It spoke of a journey, a purpose, and of its discovery. Nothing was said in explanation about his predicament, or how it came to be. The only thing he understood from the entire spiel was that he might be here against his will.

He should be frightened. That would have been the logical response in this situation. Why wasn't he?

While reaching out for the card, he breathed at the sight of his wrinkly hand. He was old, he realised. No, he was ancient. Who would want to kidnap an old man?

Shaking his head, he supposed he should be a little more grateful for still being alive. Given the condition of his skin, he shouldn't be. Then, an unpleasant thought occurred to him: maybe he had dementia, or Alzheimer's. That would certainly explain the big gaping hole where his memories were supposed to be. With that thought, he flipped the card over.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"Wut's next? Wut's next!"

Chuckling slowly, the old man patted his five-year old grandnephew in the head. "Patience, Joel, your gramps is getting there." He cleared his throat, leaned forward and tried to appear as comically intimidating as he could muster. "Then, with a mighty strike, Nastie the Spider is wrenched off the frightened little girl, freeing her from a terrible fate! The small hero, Mr Squirrel, extends his furry hand and gently lifts her from the dirt."

With a happy squeal, his grandnephew jumped up and down in excitement. "Nastie is deaaaad!"

His nine-year old grandniece rolled her eyes at her little brother. "I told you, gramps...Joel shouldn't have eaten the ice cream!"

The old man grinned evilly. "The story isn't finished yet, Veronica." He cleared his throat again. "However, Nastie the Spider isn't dead---"

Both kids groaned loudly at that. "Aww, again?" moaned little Joel.

"---it sprung up suddenly, more furious than ever, and it was determined to destroy everything the people of Squirelville have built for themselves!"

Ding dong!

Craning his neck towards his right, the old man tried to remember if they were expecting any visitors today. "Now, who could it be?" He picked up his walking stick and began pushing himself off the chair.

"Gramps, don't get up," his grandniece hollered, bounding towards the front door. "I'll get it!"

"Grand-pa?"

He turned back and smiled at the little boy. "Yes, Joel?"

"Is mummy and daddy having a divorce?"

Surprised at the question, a frown appeared on the old man's face. Where did the five-year old learn that word? "Nonsense. They're having a nice little holiday in New York." He reached out and tousled the boy's head. "Don't you worry about things like that."

Truth was, his grandnephew was almost right. His niece and her husband were having marital issues, and he had suggested they visit the city they had fallen in love in to see if they could salvage it. With little Joel and Veronica in the middle of it all, he hoped it would work.

"Hi!" he could hear the girl greeting the visitor around the corner. "Can I help you?"

"Is there an Alexander White here?" said a deep female voice.

"Nuh-uh. It's just me, Joel and Gramps over here!"

"Veronica," the old man called out. "Your gramps is Alexander White, silly!"

"Oh!" his grandniece giggled. "Come on in, then!"

Using his walking cane, the old man pushed himself off the chair. He slowly turned to face his visitor --- it was a young woman around the age of twenty. Her long dark hair flowed in lush curls from her beret and her dark brown eyes narrowed at the sight of him. He didn't recognise her.

"Alexander White?"

The old man nodded. "May I know who's asking?"

"Let me try again. Alexander Weiss?"

He felt his fragile heart skip a beat at that. How did the woman know that name?

The young woman seemed to have interpreted his reaction as an affirmative as her eyes narrowed further. "I've been looking for you for a long time, Alexander Weiss," she spat as she reached behind her and pulled out a gun, firmly pointing it at the old man!

His grandnephew and grandniece screamed at the sight of the firearm. Veronica recovered quickly and she scurried over to her little brother, protectively pushing him behind her.

"You killed my great grandfather," the young woman hissed venomously. "You murdered my grandmother, and you destroyed my mother!"

The little girl looked at her grand uncle uncertainly. "Gramps, what is she talking about?"

"And that's only a small number, next to the countless of other lives you took along the way!" The young woman shivered in rage.

Not getting an answer from the old man, the little girl gripped her brother's hand and slowly led him away from the room.

"Now," she tightened her grip on the gun, her expression a mixture of sadness, determination and fury. "Now, you'll pay..."

"What is your name?" the old man asked gently.

The young woman blinked, slightly perplexed. "What?"

"Your name, child. Would you let me have it? An old man's dying wish."

She swallowed and hesitated, as if unable to decide whether or not to tell him. Then, she scowled. "It's Kelly Truss. My mother's name was Annie Klausner---"

"Klausner? Ahh, then your grandmother must be Sheri. Yes, I remember them well," the old man smiled fondly at the memory and took a step towards the young woman.

"How---you remember them?" she said, briefly looking unsure.

"Your great grandfather, Gideon, he was an honourable man. Everyone liked him, even after the Holocaust began." Moving his cane forward, he took another step.

Seemingly to only have just noticed the old man's approach, the young woman raised her weapon again. "What are you doing? Stop!"

"Sheri, on the other hand, she was something special. She was around my age back then. She was so beautiful, and so strong. She was the strongest of us all."

"What are you talking about? You were an officer in her extermination camp!"

The old man took another step forward. The two of them were now only about four feet apart. "I couldn't do it at first, you know. How could I murder so many helpless people. But it was sweet Sheri who gave me the strength. She was the one who told me I could do it. Told me that she believed in me. That I'll do whatever was necessary."

The young woman was visibly shaking now, her face showing the confusion she was fighting. "Stop...stop talking!"

He sighed tenderly. "You poor child, let go of this weight. You should be in college, getting drunk in parties, not carrying this around."

"Shut up!"

"I can tell you more about your grandmother and your great grandfather, if you want," he said soothingly. "Put that gun away, sweet child. You wouldn't want the police to catch you with it, do you?"

The young woman looked up in surprise at the mention of law enforcement. It was then she noticed the half-hidden little girl behind a corner. Pressed to the girl's ear was the house phone. From the sentences audible enough to make out, it was clear the girl was calling the cops!

"Put it away, child. I'll tell the cops it was all a misunderstanding. We'll make ourselves some tea, and I'll tell you everything."

The gun in her hands trembled as a sweat trickled down her brow. The young woman was struggling to make a decision. Doubt was written all over her face. Then, suddenly, all signs of uncertainty vanished. She had made up her mind.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The old man wheezed from the sudden burst of memory. At some point, he had dropped the card onto the table in front of him. On it was a beautiful script:

Alexander White, aka Alexander Weiss, a doting grand uncle and an ex-officer of the Third Reich. June 15th 2010.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 04, 2013 8:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The voice booms out of the darkness, it's grating tone breaking through the silence.

"Turn over the card marked 'two'...and continue your journey..."

On the table before each of you, the second card in the row is marked with a '2' in beautiful hand-written script, and radiates a need to be flipped over and have it's tale be told...

~~~

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 8:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jenna hesitates for a moment as the voice speaks, commanding her and the others in the room to flip over another card. As the voice subsides, she finds herself still hesitating. She was afraid. Of whoever was speaking, of not knowing who else stood in the dark with her. Even the cards themselves gave her the chills. A part of her knew it was silly but she couldn't help but tremble slightly as she reached out and placed her hand on the card with a golden “2” on it. The end of her previous memory flashed through her mind and gave her another chill. Holding her breath slightly, she flipped it over.

***********

Jenna gave out a cough as she hit the ground. For a few moments, she just laid there, staring up at the fluorescent lights that shone brightly above her. She eventually winced and sat up and stared at the individual that had knocked her to the floor. A young woman, about eighteen years of age. She was dressed in the same manner that Jenna was. A stark white karate gi. The only difference between the two outfits was the belt color. The female that stood above the fouteen year old was wearing a black one while Jenna was stuck with a white colored belt. Jenna tore her eyes from the young woman and looked at the person that stood off a few feet behind her. Reginald Pelloma. He was an intimidating male figure of about six foot eight. His muscular build made the t-shirt he wore appear like little more than body paint. He stood as solid as a statue, his arms crossed in front of his chest and a lit cigar held beneath his teeth.

“Get up,” he growled. Jenna obeyed and pushed herself off the mat. Without uttering a single syllable, the two females bowed to each other before the black belt stood, turned and scurried away. The giant chuckled. “Maybe I made your sparring partner too difficult. Do you want one who's a bit easier to handle, princess?”

“No,” Jenna stated. The truth was she did but she would never be the one to let that fact slip out. She would be guaranteed to never hear the end of it and would most definitely face some sort of painful consequence. She was not a big fan of his consequences either.

“No what?” he growled.

“No, sir,” she said. A cruel smile appeared on his face as she spoke.

“Good answer,” he said, pulling the cigar from his mouth. Slowly and deliberately he placed it against the stone wall next to him and ground it out before tossing it to the side. Her eyes never left him as he moved across the room and stood just a handful of inches in front of her. Her eyes drifted up to meet his gaze. He was like a statue “You know what tomorrow is don't you?”

Jenna nodded. “Tomorrow is when I'm evaluated for entry to the Maximus Academy for the Genetically Superior.”

He nodded. “What are the requirements for entry?”

“A pure bloodline. The ability to properly defend oneself. A brilliant mind or the potential to have one. A family of considerable wealth.”

Her father gave another nod. “Repeat requirement two.”

“The ability to properly defend oneself.”

“Ah, yes. That's what I thought. To date how many times have you put your sparring partner on her back?”

“Two.”

Mr. Pelloma gave a nod and started to circle her. All of a sudden, she felt very small. She felt like a wounded animal being eyed by a vulture. Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath to retain her composure. She couldn't show any weakness. No emotion. The loud, thumping boot steps stopped after a few moments and she opened her eyes. She was greeted with a large fist catching her in the gut. All the wind left her lungs as she doubled over in pain.

“Never close your eyes in battle,” he growled. “Now, let's see what you can do.” He took a few steps back and lowered himself down to his knees. “Hit me.”

She stepped forward with hesitation. Even on his knees he seemed like a giant. A million memories flashed through her mind of her training. Her father was ruthless, determined to beat the ability to fight into her. He needed her to go into that school. It was her destiny. She was born to be great and he would make her so even if it hurt.

Standing before the kneeling giant, she threw a punch that caught him in the shoulder. He gave no reaction.

“Again,” he barked.

She hit him again but there was still no reaction.

“Again.”

She hit him again and again for about five minutes, each blow seemingly hurting her more than him. The more he barked at her the angrier she became. He punched and punched to no avail. Then out of sheer anger at the bastard, she sent a kick forward and caught him in the groin.

A loud groan passed his lips as he hunched over and grabbed himself. He sunk lower to the mat and suddenly he no longer resembled a giant. His eyes were focused on the mat. She stepped back and saw what looked like tears falling from his eyes. The wheel in her head started turning.

“Don't take your eyes off your opponent, runt,” she snapped at him before moving forward and catching him with a roundhouse kick to the side of his temple. He fell completely to the mat. His eyes were watering at full force now as he started to push himself off of his side.

“Show no weakness,” she screamed, stomping on on of his hands. He grunted his pain and pulled the hand close to his body. Still he started to get him. On his knees and one hand, a sick smile crossed Jenna's face.

She circled him, crossing to his other side and repeating the action with his other hand. “Never stay down.”

He pulled he hand back and pulled quickly back to his knees. Without waiting for him to move she sent a kick at his gut.

“Never stay in one place,” she screamed. He dropped back to all fours. She grabbed a handful of hair and kneed him in the face.

“Always keep striking,” she ranted as she kneed him again.

“Never give your opponents a chance to get ahead.” She kneed him once more. Before she could go for another, she felt him move suddenly. He shoved himself up and caused her to tumble over him onto the mat. She grunted. All of the pain of her previous sparring session returning. As she opened her eyes to stare at the ceiling, she saw the face of her father towering over her, his nose bleeding. Yet there was something very off about his face. He was smiling.

“It looks like I've prepared you well. Get up and hit the showers. Tomorrow, you get accepted to Maximus.”

***********

She found herself actually smiling as the memory faded, a small tear running down the face. The memory of the pain still residing in her hand from the blows. He sighed and stared down at the card.

Jenna Pelloma – In the final preparations to guarantee entry to the Maximus Academy for the Genetically Superior

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 9:07 pm    Post subject: Nevin Reply with quote

Her fingers are a little more shaky as the woman reaches for the next card, the impact of the first memory slow to fade from her body. She allows herself a calming breath before flipping the next card with determination.


~~~~~~~~~~


The forest is quiet. The young girl, no more than twelve begins, breaths deep the smells all round her. 'It's coming up soon, and I have hardly begun readying myself. I wonder if mother will worry' She giggles to herself, imagining the look on her face as once again her little girl comes out of the woods with the ingredients for the ceremony that night. Her mother had grown quite paranoid as of late, and Nevin had no idea what to do about it. With a sigh she turns in a circle, looking for the final plant she needs for her promise pouch. “I know it's around here somewhere. . . .” She murmurs, her skirt brushing the sparse grass along the forest grove. The sunlight suddenly shines brightly through the trees and lands on short bush, illuminating it fir several seconds. She giggles. “I thank you sun.” She says with a small salute upwards. She moves with a skip in her step over to the bush, it's leaves browning around the edges. It seems almost sickly as if the life is draining out of it. Kneeling down she carefully brushing a few limbs aside so she can see the base of the bush.


There, intertwining itself around the central branches of the bush, is a pale yellow plant with thin knife like leaves and almost flat vines that seem to have a stranglehold on the bush. Nevin had learned at a young age about herbs and other plants. The local mystic had been a good teacher and Nevin had grown quite fond of things that grow. The forest had become almost like a second home to her and when she was not working with her mother or learning with the local children, the girl simply could not stay away from the forest. She spent her days exploring it's mysteries or simply napping by her beloved Inger. Nevin had fallen in love and after tonight, the bond would become real.


Reaching out with a gentle touch she pulls a few of the vines off the branches. Careful not to break the skin of the plant she pulls away three whole vines before snapping them as one off at the bottom and swiftly removing her hands, the vines in her fists. The bush shudders slightly. She steps back, watching through the leaves at the remaining vines thrash a few times before wrapping back around the branches of the bush, taking a tighter hold then before. The tendrils she'd snapped off thrash twice too before falling still, limply hanging from her clenched fists. She smiles, slipping them gently into her gathering basket. Taking a finally look around she gives a nod and heads for the forest's edge.


As soon as Inger comes into view she begins running. She slows ever so slightly to hop over the lines drawn in intricate patterns around the scarecrow before walking around to his face. He hasn't changed much over the years. Somehow it didn't feel right to simply make changes to something that seemed to have a mind of it's own from time to time. Inger had only moved once as far as the girl remembers, but it was that once that meant the world to her, and why she had chosen him as her guardian. Looking up into his face she feels a happy chill through her body. “Tonight Inger, we will become one. I will share my blood with you, and we will begin our journey.” Not even the though of how much blood it would take to animate the hanging man would bring down her spirits. She had been preparing for so long to share her life with her savior she wouldn't let anyone, including herself, question the wisdom of it.


Reaching out she places a hand over the place a part would be on his tattered chest she utterers a small oath then turns to the village. It had grown only slightly, the houses having needed repairing and additions to hold all of it's people. She makes a beeline for the mystic's home, it's rough red hue standing out from it's brown neighbors. Skidding to a halt outside the front entrance she tries to calm her breath before entering. Illianna does not take kindly to over excitement and tries to keep the atmosphere in her home mellow. After a few calming breaths Nevin slips inside.


The smell of herbs and potions lay thick in the air and Nevin tries to take in all the scents as she moves between small tables and shrines towards the back. In her mind she names off all the things she recognizes, her own concoctions among them. She swats playfully at some dried vines hanging overhead as she passes them. They are the same vines as the yellow ones she'd just collected. 'Knifsport. The final ingredient. I'm grateful she offered from her own stock, but I think these fresh one will work much better' She licks her dry lips as she arrives at the back work table, where Illianna sits hunched over a mixing bowel. The older woman's wrinkled face tells of a beauty that loathes letting go of it's youthful glow. Even in her advanced years, Illianna looks rather spry and her eyes twinkle when she's up to mischief. Nevin clears her throat and the elder woman turns to her. Without a word she reaches behind her and pulls a stool forward for the girl. With a small ooff she pulls herself up on to it and places her basket next to the bowl Illianna had been working over.


“You really got fresh Knifsport.” The older woman observes. Nevin smiles and nods. Illianna never gives complements, but Nevin recognizes the tone in her voice. Picking up the vines she pulls a candle over and begins drawing the vines slowly over and over the flame so the leaves begin to curl and blacken. Nevin watches in wonder, having never seen leaves dried this way. “It's only because they are so thin that they respond this quickly to fire.” Illianna murmurs as if reading the little one's mind. Nevin giggles and removes the other plants from her basket. Brushing aside her hair she gets up on her knees and begins doing her part to prepare the guardian potion.



~~~~~~~~~~~~


The shock is much softer this time, the memory much softer than before. A small grin appeared on her lips despite herself as she glanced down at the card.


Nevin – Apprentice mystic preparing to awaken her guardian, Inger.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 4:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wishing his frozen fingers could capture and hold the warmth from the memory, Jack rests his palm on the first card briefly before heeding the words of the mysterious voice and flipping over the card labeled with a two.

******

The boy winced as the alcohol was poured over his split knuckles, watching through squinted eyes as his blood mixed with the caramel colored mead and dripped to the ground. He could not decide what hurt more – his hand or his pride.

“How many times is it this week, Jack?”

He bit his lip. “I don’t know,” he managed to mumble.

“Hm...”

The mead bottle was set aside and Jack let out a sigh of relief as his hand was dipped in a basin of cool water to relieve the burning sensation of the alcohol. The wound, red and raw, was then patted dry and wrapped in clean white cloth.

“Now, let us have a look at your head.” Two creamy white hands gently grasped either side of his head and bent it forward. Jack concentrated on a small pill bug crawling across the ground as the fingers sifted through his hair. He winced as they found the small cut on his head and dabbed at it with a cloth dampened with the mead. “There, that should do.” The hands gently smoothed Jack’s hair back over the cut and were removed from his head.

“I-I’m sorry, Faern” he stammered, lifting his head as soon as the hands released him and meeting the emerald eyes of the elf in front of him for the first time since he had shuffled home. “Please don’t be angry.”

The tall elven woman closed her eyes and took a deep breath, exhaling a few moments later. The sweet smell of peppermint tickled Jack’s nose as she spoke.

“I am not angry, Jack, merely...”

Disappointed. Jack’s shoulders drooped and he scuffed his feet on the cracked cobblestones. He had gotten this lecture before. He watched as Faern stood and brushed the dirt off of her skirt from where she had been kneeling on the ground, then turned and headed towards the small stone hut that they called home. Jack continued to stand in the same spot and stare at the ground. After a few moments he glanced up and, upon seeing the elven woman standing in the doorway, a gentle smile on her face and her hand outstretched to him, he ran forwards, a sheepish grin on his face.

“As punishment you will peel all the potatoes for dinner,” Faern said as he shot past her into the kitchen.

“Aw,” he grumbled half-heartedly. In truth it was not a punishment at all – he enjoyed slicing off bits of the potato and sneaking them into his mouth as a snack. With a grunt he relinquished the heavy sack of potatoes from the cupboard and a knife from the sink and set about peeling the spuds as Faern lit the fire and sat a dented cast iron pot of water of the heat before chopping the other vegetables for the stew.

“Faern?” Jack said after they had worked for a while. “What happened to my parents?”

The elf paused briefly. “This question again?” Faern sighed and dropped some carrots into the pot.

“The other kids were making fun of me for not having a mom and dad.”

“That is why you got into a fight?”

“…Yeah,” Jack mumbled scooping up a handful of potatoes and dumping them in the pot. He watched as the white pieces bobbed momentarily before sinking to the bottom with the other vegetables, and waited for Faern to answer.

“They,” the elf began before lapsing into silence. “I do not know if it is the right time to tell you, Jack.”

It was the answer he expected, the answer he always got. Jack recalled very little from his life before he began to stay with Faern. He knew he had had parents and that they had lived in the farmland on the outskirts of the city, but he could not remember their faces or their names, or how he had come to live with the elven woman at all.

“That’s what you always say,” he said, burying his face in his sleeves to keep the tears that had begun to well in his eyes from running down his cheeks.

“Jack…” Faern gently placed a hand on his shoulder. Turning the child to her she moved his arms away from his face and cupped his chin so that their eyes would meet. They stared at each other for a while before Faern sighed and stood, tucking a strand of her long golden hair behind her ear. “Very well, I will tell you.”

“Really?!” Jack broke into a wide grin

“Yes,” she laughed at his enthusiasm. “In one week’s time.”

“One week?!”

Faern nodded. “But only if you promise me that you will get in no more fights.”

“I promise!”

~~~

“What is the trouble officer?” said the elven woman coolly. Her question was directed at the armored man in front of her, but her green eyes were staring at Jack. He squirmed against the guard’s tight hold on his upper arm. His face burned red with shame and he very much wanted to run away from the elf’s piercing gaze.

“Faern Aisling?” the officer asked gruffly.

“I am she,” Faern answered moving her gaze from Jack to the guard. Jack let out a sigh, his breath catching in his throat at what the guard said next.

“Your presence is humbly requested in the royal court of the castle.”

“The castle?” Faern’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. “Certainly what he has done does not warrant-“

“I’m just following orders, ma’am. Come along,” the man said. Not bothering to wait for the elven woman’s reply, he set off for the castle at a steady pace, Jack in tow.

~~~

“Welcome! Come in!”

“Thank you,” Faern bowed deeply. Jack, at her side holding her hand, followed suit. When both had risen they crossed the threshold into the royal courtroom. Jack marveled at the large room, with its gilded pillars and marbled flooring. He had never seen anything so grand.

“You must be wondering why I’ve asked you here.”

“It had crossed my mind, your eminence” Faern answered.

“You have your boy to thank. Jack, is it?” the king asked as he stepped forward, circling the pair. “He doesn’t seem very remarkable at first glance. Perhaps Liam had the wrong boy?”

Jack gulped. Everyone in the city new the name Liam – he was the king’s son. Jack chanced a glance up at Faern and flinched as her eyes landed sharply on him.

“Jack you did not…?”

“Oh but he did! Gave my son a good beating it seems. Though, thankfully, his last hit missed.”

Faern’s bottom lip moved up and down briefly before her mouth could form any words. “I-I’m sorry-“

“No need to apologize! In fact, this is quite the stroke of luck!”

“Luck?”

“Why yes! You live where? The other side of the city, yes? Still, you must have felt it.”

“There was a tremor…” Faern answered cautiously. Jack felt her squeeze his hand tighter and frowned as he felt her arm begin to shake.

“Indeed! And do you know where it came from?”

“I assume that something fell. I have heard that many of the buildings are old and in need of repairs.”

“Are you saying that my city is decrepit and falling apart?”

“Forgive me. I did not mean to insult…” Faern’s words trailed off into silence at a wave of the king’s hand.

“My dear lady, the only thing you insult me with is your feigned ignorance,” the king laughed but there was no joy in it, and the smile that graced his lips did not reach his eyes. Jack shuddered and took a step closer to Faern.

“I beg your pardon,” Faern whispered.

“It is quite an incredible gift he has. One that is a shame to keep to yourself,” the king said, wagging his finger playfully. “It is only once every two hundred years that we see the God Hand.”

“God Hand?” Jack heard himself asking. He looked up at Faern but her gaze stayed forward. There was some emotion in the elf’s eyes that he could not quite place, something he had never seen there before.

“That’s right, my dear boy. Tell me what did you feel when you hit that wall?”

Jack looked at down at his arm and flexed his hand.

“I was angry…and then suddenly my arm felt tingly and it started shaking and before I knew it…”

“The wall was gone?”

Jack nodded.

“There you have it. Now you are just a child. Imagine that power in a few years. You’ll be the pride of the army! You could destroy cities, nations! And people of course. Why, you’ll be undefeatable!”

“I-I don’t-“ Jack stuttered, uncomfortable.

“Oh? What’s the matter Jack? Don’t tell me you can’t do it. Or that you’re scared. What about all those fights you’ve gotten into? You’ve never lost have you? And you’ve already kil-“

“No!”

Jack jumped at Faern’s sudden outburst. It had been some time since she had spoken and as he peered into her eyes he finally recognized the emotion there. Fear.

“No?” The king snorted.

“He is but a child. He is not ready to know yet,” her voice quavered with unshed tears.

“Know what, Faern?” Jack asked, tugging at her arm.

“That you’ve already killed your parents, boy,” said the king before Faern could stop him, a malicious smile twisting his face.

******

He dropped the card on the table as if it had burnt him. Feeling the pain and frustration twist inside him, he watched as his fingers began to tremble. Soon the shaking intensified, engulfing his whole arm. He tightened his hand into a fist, willing himself to be calm. After a few moments the tremor subsided and he placed his arm in his lap as he read the neat, curling script on the card.

Jack – Orphan under the care of Faern Aisling and possessor of the God Hand

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 5:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


She shuddered at the booming voice. It was still dark around her, save for the glowing candles on the table. Those memories...were they really hers? An apprentice necromancer?

She didn't know how she knew it, but there was another presence somewhere. This presence wasn't like the others sitting around the table. This one comforted her. Made her strong. Strong enough to reach out and flip over the card labeled '2'...


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Streams of floating water was flowing everywhere, weaving between the tall white pillars of a marbled palace, intertwining amongst the large branches of the tall trees artfully grown in the courtyard, and dancing around the skies with the birds playfully. Sitting high atop a purple dome-roof on one of the palace towers, a little girl hummed a tune while watching the sun slowly rising past the sparkling streams of magical water. It was her favourite moment. Everything looked so golden from up here.

There were dozens of servants bustling around down below, many of them carrying a woven basket of fresh produce. It was usually quieter at this time of day. She wondered if there was going to be a festival soon. She pouted. Why hasn't she heard about it?

"Princess!" screamed Dahlia---her nurse maiden---from a window, aghast at the sight of her. "Not this again! Get down from there!"

The little girl giggled at the elderly woman's almost hysterical reaction. "It's okay, Dahlia, the water will carry me. Look!" The girl stood up, brushed the front of her dress, and jumped off the curved roof!

With a whee, the princess plummeted down ten feet and splashed into one of the floating streams hovering a hundred feet above the ground. Swimming up to the surface, she giggled as she moved with the stream, circling around the two towers a few times before dipping into the flowery courtyard. The little girl kicked away from the magical stream and splashed out five feet above the ground, landing softly on a flowery patch. Her long dark hair and simple dress were completely soaked, but she didn't care as she jumped up and started to run towards the palace tower, giggling in excitement.

"Talo!" snapped a voice behind her sternly.

As if caught stealing, her face fell. She turned around quietly, clasping her hands together behind her while looking at her feet. "Yes, mother?"

"Are you trying to give Dahlia a heart attack?" an elegant woman with beautiful bronze skin crossed her arms and narrowed her emerald eyes.

She shook her head timidly. "No, mother. I'm only trying to show her that it's very safe up there."

"And fun, I'm sure," her mother shook her head and sighed. "Talo, the water spirits are not your plaything. You shouldn't jump off tall towers on purpose --- you're turning nine, for spirit's sake! One of these days, they might decide to let you fall."

The girl pouted petulantly. "No, they won't! They like playing with me!" Talo glanced at the beautiful floating streams of water above them.

Her mother rubbed her chin and cocked her head to one side, as if listening for something. "Oh wait, they're telling me something..." she suddenly smiled and said. "Ah, yes, I understand. Thanks for telling me. Oh, you're far too kind." Her mother then looked at Talo and smiled enigmatically, as if she was privy to a secret.

The little princess gasped and looked at her mother excitedly. "They're talking to you? What is it! What are they saying!"

Raising her eyebrows knowingly, the woman reached down and took Talo's hand. "They said they don't want to play with you anymore, and that you shouldn't skip your lessons with Master Dinesh."

Talo's cheeks flushed in embarrassment. "They didn't!"

"Oh yes," the woman nodded with a small laughter, while gently guiding the girl towards the palace. "In fact, they said you should have a lesson with the Master right away."

"Wait," Talo craned her head diagonally upwards and looked at her mother suspiciously. "The spirits didn't talk to you...if they talk at all, they'll talk to me, too!"

The elegant woman only nodded sagely as she continued guiding the princess down the hallway. The lush palace interior was decorated with unique elaborate fountains of different sizes every few tens of feet. "Maybe you're right. But again, maybe not. Tell me, how would you know, considering you skipped all your lessons, including the ones on spirits?"

The little girl crossed her arms petulantly. "But, Master Dinesh won't teach me anything about the water spirit. He says that I have to learn the others first."

"Only by learning about the other spirits you'll truly understand what our guardian spirit is, Talo."

The princess huffed. "But everyone already knows about all the others!" The girl inhaled deeply and started reciting the common wisdom. "The earth spirit gives us food, but also brings diseases. It's the guardian of the Fieldrose Kingdom, in the East. The fire spirit gives us warmth, but also brings pain. It protects the Hilltree Kingdom, in the West. Our water spirit gives us purity, but also brings anguish. It's the guardian of our home, the Riverbird Kingdom."

The woman chuckled. "You missed one, Talo."

"No, I didn't!" the girl asserted, pouting. Then, as if she had a revelation, her face brightened. "Oh, you mean necromancy! The death spirit brings us life, but also takes it away. Necromancy is evil and is forbidden in all three kingdoms," she finished proudly with a wide smile.

"But Talo, necromancy isn't evil."

The girl turned to look at her mother, puzzled. "But, it is punishable by death in all kingdoms."

"Tell me, are swords evil?"

The princess shook her head. "No, father said it is neither good nor evil. It is the intentions of the man who wields it that matters."

"So, if swords aren't evil, why is necromancy evil?"

Talo opened her mouth to answer, but no words came out. She had no answer to that, she realised. Why, indeed? "But if necromancy isn't evil, why is it forbidden everywhere?"

Her mother patted her head and smiled. "That is a very good question, my princess. You can learn the answer to that on one of Master Dinesh's lessons. In fact, why don't we go there right now?"

The girl sulked for a moment before mumbling a reluctant agreement. However, before they could go any further, a servant came running over to them, her quick steps echoing up and down the hallway.

"Your Grace," the skinny woman knelt before them, panting heavily.

The elegant queen stepped forward and touched her shoulder. "Rise, Isha. Tell me, what is it?"

The servant only looked up. "Alsadi has rallied an army and they're marching south, towards us, your Grace!" she said all at once, stumbling a little over her own words. Composing herself, she stood up and continued. "Mistress Priya wishes to convene a war council."

Sighing heavily, the queen shut her eyes, as if deep in thought. "A farmer's son manages to rally an army against the three kingdoms? What is this world coming to?" she muttered softly. Then, she opened them, an old determination visible in her eyes. "We have no choice. Inform Mistress Priya we'll stop the village's rebellion once and for all."

With a quick nod, the servant scurried down the hallway, before disappearing into one of the large archways.

After a moment, the elegant woman turned around and gently held the little girl by her shoulders. "Talo, one day you'll be queen, and wisdom is something you'll always, always wish you have more. Promise me you'll learn as much as you can from Master Dinesh?"

The princess nodded, shuffling her feet unhappily. "Are you leaving again, mother?"

The queen smiled sadly. "Yes, Talo. It seems I'll have to march north and wage a war against one of our own villages: Starfall."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

As her vision returns to the dark room, she blinked in confusion at the hot tears running down her cheeks. Why was she crying? With the back of her hand, she wiped the moisture away silently and looked at the card in front of her. It read:

Talo Murkasi, little princess of one of the three kingdoms --- the Riverbird Kingdom, guarded by the water spirit of purity and anguish, sworn enemy of necromancy, and on the eve of war with Starfall village in the north.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 18, 2013 1:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The vividity of the first memory had stunned him into a frozen silence for a few moments. Even his breathes seemed to have caught in his throat, as he looked down at the words on the back of the first card. Alexander - the name that had been entirely lost to him moments before was now more familiar than a lover's kiss to his memories. It was a mystery to him now how it could ever have escaped him...

He started as the voice boomed out once again, demanding that the second card be turned over. He looked down at it, the beautiful crafted '2' written upon the card seeming to fill his line of vision. Tentatively, he reached out a hand as wrinkled as a dried up raisin and flipped the second card over, wondering what he might find this time...


~~~

"That's right, that's right, very good...now just shave off a few more chucks around that leg, Alexander, and we'll be done for the day,"

Alexander looked up at his father's encouraging face, returning the warm smile upon it with a weak one of his own. His gaze returned to the two shaped blocks of wood in front of them. One belonged to he himself and one to his father. When they'd begun carving them two months previous, the blocks had been huge, solid lumps of finest oak-wood. Over the weeks, they'd chipped away at them, shaping them slowly but surely into what they were today. A flat, vaguely squared base stood upon the floor, with four long protrusions, one at each corner, the result of the course of his lessons, as his father and he had gutted out the wood blocks with hammer and chisel.


Alexander gave a nod at his father's words and set his tools to working again, tapping away the extra chunks of wood, that were so obviously not supposed to be there as he looked at them now. Chips and flakes of oak fell to either settle in the belly of his work, or upon the floor of his father's workshop with a sea of their brothers and sisters. When he was done, he exhaled hard against the wood, blowing any stray shavings from the vicinity of his work, then looked up into his father's face again, anxiously seeking approval. His gaze was returned with a smile and a nod, and Alexander inwardly breathed a sigh of relief.

"Very good, son." Baltasar Weiss looked genuinely pleased with Alexander's progress. "Your work is coming along very well. I can see the future now! People will come from miles around just to get a glimpse of Alexander Weiss and his amazing toy-shop!"

Alexander laughed at his father's enthusiastic prediction, and the older man chuckled alongside him. He wrapped an arm around Alexander's shoulder and gave him a hug.

"I will be proud to hand this business over to you when I'm gone..." Baltasar murmured, his warm voice enveloping and familar. "Right, off you go now. I have work to do, so lessons are over for the day. Same time, same place tomorrow. We have the general shape now, and, once it's turned up the right way, as it is it would be entirely usable. But tomorrow...I will begin to teach you how to make it beautiful as well as functional. Your mother will have the finest set of bedside tables there ever was!"

They both laughed again, and his father reached forward to ruffle Alexander's hair.


Baltasar turned in his seat, and carefully picked up one of his latest pieces - an intricate and beautifully carved heron standing in a shallow pool of water. It was yet to be painted, but it was still breathtakingly lovely. He stroked a finger down the perfect curve of it's neck, along it's back and to it's tail. He glanced sideways at Alexander, who gazed at the object curiously. With a smile, Baltasar pressed down on one of the tail feathers. As he did so, the neck of the bird bent downwards, the beak opened, and a small carved fish leapt of of the water below, towards it's demise. Baltasar released the pressure on the tail feather and everything went back to how it had been before.

"Wow..." Alexander uttered in awe, following the exclaimation with a short chuckle. "That's incredible!" He looked up at Baltasar. "I can't see how I'll ever be as good as you, Papa."

"You will," Baltasar immediately replied, nodding confidently. "You will be as good as I am, and better again. Little things like this, Alexander, though they're not a necessity in making the world go around...they're important. They make people aware that...there is still beauty in the world. And whimsy...and fun. No matter how dire the circumstances, a glimpse of beauty can change everything..."

He suddenly looked sad, and Alexander thought he seemed older than he had before.

"The importance of such may become all the more potent over the next few years..." Baltasar said quietly. He looked at Alexander, and reached out a hand to cup his son's cheek. "I pray that you will grow up to be a good man, Alexander. Be kind and giving, and bring joy where you can. That is my dream for you."

The very beginnings of tears started to form at the corners of Baltasar's eyes, and he looked away, turning to his workbench.

"Go now," he said as a dismissal. "Go play and have fun, my boy. Enjoy life before you have to grow up and take on the responsibility of an adult..."

Alexander hesitiated for a moment, wondering if he should say something to comfort his father. But Baltasar had already taken up his hammer and chisel again, and Alexander couldn't seem to think of what he could say to comfort him. Chewing his lip anxiously over his father's words, he turned and left the workshop...

~~~

Lifting a hand to his face, he found that the cheeks was drenched in moisture.

"Father..." he breathed, so softly if could well have been the wind itself. He looked down at the card on the table before him, his heart feeling strangely confined in his chest at the memory the words had inspired.

'Alexander Weiss, aged sixteen - A day of lessons, 1936'

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PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2013 1:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Before you can even recover properly from the deluge of memories thrown at you upon turning over the card marked '2', the voice cuts through the near silent room again, thunderous and leaving no room to decline to obey...

"The card marked 'three'...turn it!"

As before the specified card in front of you gives off a strange vibe...demanding to be flipped over to reveal the secrets it holds...

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Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, 1887


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 8:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Reserved for Jenna Pelloma
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 05, 2013 5:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Reserved for Nevin
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 05, 2013 5:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Reserved for Jack.

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