Jason grinned despite himself and nodded, summoning his armor once again. He was just about to join his love beside Rand when Ailill suddenly appeared before them. Instantly Dusk Shroud was in his hands and closing the distance, only to be blocked by a weapon that appeared in Rand's hand in a flash of light. "Okay, why did you save him, and how do you have a keyblade?"
Rand's eyes never left Ailill as he lowered Zavilat'a'Aman, leaving it in his hand to feel the weight of it. His voice was calm despite the weapons, refusing to give in to the surprise or suspicion. "I had my Dive last night, and Master Lucia explained the details to me. As for saving him, the taint looses its hold sometimes, and this is the Ailill I remember."
He allowed his keyblade to vanish before reaching out to the man's shoulder, speaking directly to him as his voice gained that ancient quality once more. "Not the last it seems, Ailill Marien Rhiodnaparet. It is good to see you properly again, old friend, and I am very, very sorry for not listening to you." He surprised Jason once more as he bowed nearly double in his own apology.
Six characters, written by five alters... What could go wrong?
Éirín unconsciously reached for Rand's hand, but stopped herself. Those green eyes seemed to bore holes through her, and she nearly hid behind her brother when they seemed to notice her. She didn't and chose to lower her eyes instead. Something seemed to be pained within the man. The wolf girl trusted Rand enough to let Ailill go.
Conrí immediately wrapped himself around Jason. The strange man seemed to be a swirl of color to his eyes. He heard Rand out and then lowered his guard. He didn't speak, though. Simply remained willing to follow along for now. The wolf boy nodded at his sister reassuringly.
Ailill himself flinched at Rand's touch. His shoulder suddenly felt dirty. He suddenly felt unworthy. He'd fought so hard to prove himself, and, for what, exactly? The cloaked man nearly cried when he heard Rand's apology. "Whatever I said back there during any of that...I apologise." Another thought occurred to him, and a sheepish grin parted his lips. "I have eaten your plums. Forgive me." A blush splashed across his face, and the man forced it away, hoping to escape too much scrutiny.
The cloaked man nodded slightly. "There is a thing I can produce and will wear around my neck willingly if you fear me that much. In any case, we've not much time, likely, before it strikes again, so, shouldn't we be going?"
Ailill popped up right in front of the Vagabond and wagged his finger back and forth. He pointed back up the stairs, oddly not saying too much. There was something of a grin on his face. "I told you to wait. They will come."
The Vagabond was rushing towards the doorway of the previous floor when Ailill suddenly blinked into existence before him. The hooded man nearly barreled the swordsman over as he halted himself, using his hands to push against the white walls surrounding them. The cloaked swordsman wagged a finger at the Vagabond, a humorous tone in his voice, which echoed against the vast stairway. "I told you to wait. They will come." The hooded man was doubled back in surprise, still regaining himself from the jarring halt. Slumping over to rest his hands on his knees, the man took a moment to catch his breath.
"B-but you...just left, without saying anything!" There was obvious frustration in the man's tone as he pointed a finger back at Ailill. "You can't just throw together a half baked plan without informing me!" For a moment the vagrant crossed his arms, his head turning away from the swordsman to look back up the stairs towards where the foyer lay. "I had no idea what you were doing!" There was also a nagging in the back of his heart, though the Vagabond was hardly able to realize it at the moment. Something had happened, when Ailill had suddenly vanished. He had thought of her.
He had remembered her, in that moment, when the swordsman vanished. The woman that he had met in a foyer much like the one they had just been in. In mismatched armor and a lost look on her face, a hopeless chill had rung through the man's bones, pushing him forward. Though the face had returned, everything else remained a mystery to the Vagabond. What was her name? It was that look that haunted him. The one she had made when he had first appeared. Shaking his head rather violently, the Vagabond suddenly began to make his way back up the stairs, without another word.
He was in a rather sour mood. A gnawing darkness creeped in the back of his heart.
Rand's tone turned sharp for a moment at the mention of the collar, leaving no room for negotiation. [firebrick]"No. There will be no Dominion Bands used here."[/color] He smiled as he softened his voice soon after. "I know you were eating them, Ailill. Why do you think that I always put them in the same place?"
Jason couldn't help but laugh at that, though he did seek out Conrí's hand and squeeze it gently.
A moment passed, and then Rand's smile slid into a more serious look as he turned back to the door. "I don't know for sure which memory this will be, but I will recognize it quickly." Steeling himself with a deep breath, he opened the door and walked through into chaos.
The wasteland before him was deathly cold, not a single plant within sight. A black sea crashed on the cliffs behind them even as a broken mountain loomed ahead, crowned by a swirling mass of crimson and black clouds.
Despite the lack of flora or fauna on what he remembered to be the once idyllic island there was no silence to be found. Thousands of soldiers fought against Trollocs and Myrddraal in the near distance, and to his eye the foothills of the mountain were nearly hidden by the massive weaves of saidin raging back and forth.
Rand knew where they were, and when. Turning to the others, his eyes matched his words. "This was the end of the War of Power and the beginning of the Breaking. One hundred and thirteen Aes Sedai, all male, and ten thousand soldiers assaulted this place to seal the Bore. None of the soldiers survived, and the sixty-eight Aes Sedai who did were driven entirely insane in an instant. Every other user of saidin was doomed to a slow death from the taint, reshaping the world and slaughtering nine out of ten people over the next several hundred years."
A sigh, and then he began to walk forward, motioning for the others to follow. "Likely the exit will be at the entrance to the cave used to access the Bore's manifestation, but we'll need to get there before the Seals are put into place. Nothing on this island will live after that, save for those that are within the valley itself."
Six characters, written by five alters... What could go wrong?
Ailill shivered when Rand spoke. The man sounded a lot like Therin, in many ways. The one with red hair had explained himself, leaving the cloaked man to nod and look at the others with a hopefully friendly grin before stepping through the door after Rand. "I want to make sure it's safe. Sorry for stepping in front of you, lass."
Éirín just stared at the man, clearly shocked by what had happened, but she nodded and followed after him. Conrí squeezed Jason's hand back and also followed.
No one was quite prepared for what had greeted them on the other side of the door. Ailill started glaring at Rand, the way he'd often done to Therin when they were kids. He nearly lowered to his knees at the site. He'd heard the rumors of this time and place. Had tried so hard to stop it, only to figure out that he couldn't touch saidin again without succumbing to the gradual madness.
"So, this is where all my efforts, in other words, started to fall apart." His voice rumbled in a growl.
Éirín cleared her throat when she noticed Ailill's glare and growling. She could feel through the bond just how much regret Rand had carried about this place. The wolf girl laid a hand on Rand's shoulder. "I know how much this hurt. I'm sorry, Rand. Ailill, surely you can tell that this has hurt him?"
Conrí instinctively pressed his finger to his lips. "My sister has a tendency to question a bit too well." Still, the wolf boy took a chance and pressed his free hand into the cloaked man's shoulder. He looked at Jason and smiled.
"He hurt? The world hurt from this, lass. I was lucky that I passed out at my desk at the time." He shot Therin a guilty glance that said just how often that had been happening those last few days. I wish you'd just given me a blanket this time, too. "You want to go to the Bore? Fine. I can blink you there, and then I'm going to stop this this time." He'd tried to hide the pain, but, he suspected Rand would notice.
Ailill looked at the Vagabond and cocked his head. He sighed and gently took the other man's hand. "I'm sorry. Let's talk about it, okay?" He led the other man back up to where they had been before. The cloaked man smiled a bit.
The Vagabond sighed, looking down at the white tile floor as Ailill took his hand and led him back up to the platform. I don’t feel like myself… It was the Castle, forcing the disarray of forgotten memories to torrent back to the front of his mind. The terror he felt at being stranded in this place was not the fault of his comrade’s actions, rather the fault of his own doubts and worries based on his fractured memories. I shouldn’t take it out on him. The hooded man looked at Ailill as they stood before the door, a pained look on his hidden face.
“Sorry...I forgot myself, for a moment.” The Vagabond lifted a hand to his head, shaking it a bit. “This place...it’s dredging up fears I didn’t know were there.” Taking a breath, the vagrant once again calmed himself before gazing at the foyer entrance. “I’ll be ready when they come. Rest assured.”
Rand listened to Éirín and Ailill, sending comfort through the bond for the former and nodding to the latter's first statement. His offer to remain behind to fix things however...
"No, Ailill." Even he was surprised at the strength in his voice. "We will not leave you behind to fix this. It cannot be fixed by any method we knew back then." Indeed, he mused, the outcome that had occurred was actually one of the best that could have happened at all.
Looking over the others one by one, his grey eyes hardened with resolve before summoning Zalivat'a'Aman once more and opening himself to something other than saidin. The crystal of the blade began to faintly glow crimson in response to the nearly intoxicating "True Power," and Rand released it with satisfaction.
Nodding, he began to speak once more. "Éirín, Ailill, I'll need both of your help if we are to fix this properly. I'm aware that you just learned to channel last night, raya mashio'vin, but I will be directing the flows of the circle. Ailill, can you teach her how to link as we move? Blinking that far will likely only cause more meddling on the castle's part, and thirteen of the Forsaken are at the Bore currently, including Mierin, Elan, and Barid, so we'll likely have need of your abilities then more than now."
He then turned to Conrí and Jason, continuing to detail his plan. "Conrí, Jason, We'll need the two of you to deal with any channeling while we seal the Bore, as well as any Shadowspawn or soldiers that try to enter the cave after us. Can you do that?"
Jason stood in awe at the change in Rand. One moment he seemed a normal man, the next a wise, tired immortal, and the next a battle-hardened general. Not to mention the keyblade in his hand, though he had been informed of that by Lucia. Thinking to his skills, he finally nodded with a confident grin. "If you're channeling works anything like our magic then I can give you ten minutes tops without those Forsaken bothering you. After that things'll get dicey." His blood started pumping as adrenaline flooded his system, his mind instinctively readying for a large-scale battle.
Six characters, written by five alters... What could go wrong?
Ailill nearly gaped at Rand. The man he had known would have left him there to fix the mess. He wasn't sure what to make of what was being said. He nodded his head, still unsure of what to do.
The crimson light coming from Rand's Keyblade forced a shiver down the cloaked man's spine. He smirked slightly. If only he'd had one more day, maybe two... The cloaked man put thoughts of the strange being out of his head.
With a sigh, Ailill lowered his head, shifting uncomfortably when he heard the term of endearment Rand had given to Éirín. Instead of being angry and lashing out like he would have in their past, he simply bowed and tried to keep the pain out of his eyes and voice. "It is my duty to serve the Tamilyn, under the Light, I make an oath to do no harm to those on our side."
He stared at Éirín, as though he was sizing her up, then reluctantly opened himself to saidin and immediately felt his knees hit the earth. He felt his stomach heave, and he lowered his face as he wretched. Ailill forced himself to stand. "It's pure...and yet...my mind...Where is Tamara?" His gaze settled on Éirín, and he smiled. "I'm here, my fair rose. We need to form a circle with Therin, but, it seems you forgot how... open up to saidar, because it seems there is one chance at changing things after all."
Éirín just started and stared. Not sure what to make of any of it. Her head spun, despite the comfort that had been sent through the bond. She nodded finally and did as Ailill asked. The Source caused her to gasp slightly, and, she looked at Rand unsure of herself. She nodded slightly and wondered what was coming of this plan. "I trust you, Rand. I'm not sure about Ailill, but he doesn't seem so bad."
Conrí started shaking his head. It was a bit much. Finally, he pointed at Rand's Keyblade and just said, "How?" To the other part of the plan, he simply took Jason's hand and quipped, "You usually last more than ten minutes when I am with you."
Ailill smiled and nodded. He chose to stay next to the Vagabond. "I completely understand that feeling. And, it's okay. Do you want to talk about anything while we wait?"
At Ailill's question, the vagrant crossed his arms and lowered his head in thought. "Well...I am curious..." His voice echoed across the vast empty foyer, the white walls looming and imposing. I'm so tired of these walls... There was a fatigue creeping into his mind. The effects of the castle were weighing on his mind. "These people we are hunting chose to come to this castle of their own volition..." The mere idea baffled the Vagabond, who dreaded the very presence of the estate at the present. "Why are they here?" There was something else nagging at him, too.
Rand sighed as he recognized the symptoms Ailill showed, giving Éirín an understanding look. He knew that his madness made him obsessed with finding Tamara, so he assumed that was the cause of the mistake.
Once both Ailill and Éirín had embraced the Source Rand gently reached through them, pulling both into the circle. Immediately he felt the bond intensify with his fiancee, and a faint awareness of Ailill revealed just how much the taint was attempting to take over again.
Looking over everyone again, he paused for a moment to respond to Conrí. "I'm not certain how, to be honest. All I know is that I completed my Dive last night, and I'll be studying under Master Lucia alongside you in the art of the Keyblade."
"Now," he paused for a moment to look over everyone, then continued, "we'll be heading to the entrance to the cave by gateway, as it is within the 'rules' of this memory. Once there, we'll need to quickly prevent the thirteen Forsaken within from leaving or ambushing us, and prevent anything outside the cave from attacking as well."
Jason waved his hand flippantly. "Yeah, you said that already. None of their weaves will get past my Dark Graviga, and they likely won't be able to move either." Leaning closer to his love, he lowered his voice slightly as his grin grew. "Yeah, but I'm not trying to nullify magic with you usually. Just wouldn't be fair."
Six characters, written by five alters... What could go wrong?
Ailill steeled his body from flinching when he heard Rand sigh. He tried not to lower his head too far, and suddenly felt like he was a kid again. The memories of simpler times clashed with his madness and he ended up growling slightly.
When the cloaked man felt himself get pulled into the circle with Rand, it seemed as though ice covered him from head to toe. He did his best to keep the intrusive thoughts about vomiting again back in the corner of his mind. He blinked when he realised that Rand and the girl were already bonded. He also felt something unbidden rise up in him, and then, suddenly, some of the moments of near affection that he'd shared with Rand seemed to shudder through the circle. I still can't admit it. Hide. Hide it. It's for the best. "Time grows short, dense researcher who's a snot nosed brat."
Conrí grinned wider than Jason and whispered back "Thanks for the idea for when I want to be a pain."
Ailill stared at the Vagabond. "They came here looking for something, yes. I decided to antagonise them a bit, because the red-haired one killed me and my wife, ultimately, in a past life. But, to seek is to lose, and to lose is to find." The man paused for a brief moment. "Tell me, what is it that you're seeking?"
The Vagabond stood with his arms crossed over his broad torso, his hooded head hunched in thought. Murdered in a past life...? Being one who's memories had already been sundered before the entrance into this castle, the wandering vagrant hardly understood the complexities of the vendetta his comrade held. "Tell me, what is it that you're seeking?" The question caused the man to jolt in surprise. He hadn't been expecting such a forward question after the answer.
Taking a moment to consider his words, the hooded man's expression remained hidden, though his voice betrayed hesitancy. "My goal..." For a moment, he trailed off, distracted. "Is to keep a balance." There became a more determined note in his tone, his stature straightening as he loomed on the raised platform. "My studies involve the tainted hearts that the darkness claims. I aim to study these hearts and learn how to control the balance within them." Without darkness, he would have perished long ago, in that place. What he needed was to learn how to restore a fallen heart, safe and stilled in its transformation within a new host.
Truthfully it was a complex matter, one the man hardly intended to discuss at the moment. He still had other thoughts from Aillil's previous statements. Lifting a finger, the hooded man pointed at the cloaked swordsman. "So, we are antagonizing a murderer whom you hold a personal grudge against." He focused on the task at hand, not wanting to forget anything else while they remained in this damned castle. "If we are to fight them, tell me, what kind of powers do they hold?" The Vagabond was used to fighting Heartless, not people. He hoped that discussing the potential enemies abilities would help him gain a strategic advantage in the possible fighting ahead.
I hate fighting... The vagrant realized this was something he would have to get over, if he were to keep the peace.
Rand caught the briefest hint of something through the circle. Rather than pay it no mind, he filed it away for later as he used saidin from Ailill to open the Gateway, the line of light rotating into a square opening just before he dove through it.
Jason followed seconds later, a Doppelganger already forming behind him as he saw the mouth of the cave looming ahead, looking more like a gaping maw than any kind of geologic formation. As they moved within black and purple enveloped his hands as he readied his spell, and the instant he saw auras he threw his hands forward with a cry. "Dark Mage: Dark Graviga!"
A purple and black mist formed under the thirteen people clustered within, quickly pulling them to the ground and preventing any magic form leaving the area within. Rand whistled slowly, impressed yet again by the magic of this new reality, and approached them slowly. "Elan, Barid, Mierin, Nemene, Ared, Tel, Ishar, Eval, Joar, Duram, Saine, Kamarile, Lilen."
All of them lay there dumbfounded at the red haired man before them, at least until the raven-haired woman in a pure white dress spoke with the arrogance of one used to command. "Who are you to call us by those names?"
Rand looked her in the eyes and responded with a level tone, devoid of any emotion but pity. "I am the one you once coveted, the one you face today, but reborn to do better. I failed today, three thousand years ago, but will not allow that failure to repeat. I am the Dragon Reborn, and I will end this. Elan, be sure to pull everyone within, and the oblivion you seek will be yours.
The brown haired man at the fore of the group stopped resisting at that, closing his eyes with a peaceful expression as Rand pulled from the True Power and his keyblade shone crimson.
"Thank you, Lews."
Drawing heavily from both Éirín and Ailill, Rand wove saidin and saidar not as the Five Powers, but pure Light. Massive pillars of both, impossibly big, grew before him before being coated in a thin layer of Shai'tan's own essence, preventing the taint that would have doomed the world. Those pillars scooped up both the thirteen before him and the very ground the Gravity spell affected, sending them into the blackness beyond them before colliding against the Bore.
Saidin and saidar became one, became pure Creation, and reforged what they had foolishly broken in their hubris. As the void before them dissipated Rand released the circle, pointed at the newly revealed door, and collapsed. Before he faded into unconsciousness, he sought out his fiancee and Ailill, reaching toward them with a whispered apology.
Then the world faded to black.
Six characters, written by five alters... What could go wrong?
Ailill looked on in shock when he saw the Forsaken again. He slumped forward, fighting back another bout of heaving from his stomach. Within a second, he felt his power shift and create a huge pillar of saidin The cloaked man looked over at Éirín and noticed she seemed to be concentrating hard, but was barely breaking a sweat. He mused at how much of the Source she could hold. The Bore started to close, and he could feel his friend start to fade.
As soon as the door appeared, and the circle broke, Ailill's body just moved, and then he realised that his and Éirín's hands touched and kept Rand from hitting the ground. He fought his instinct at her gaze, and let himself blush outright. He's dying. I know that, and from the look on her face... "Do everything as I say exactly and be quick about it! Tears can come later, lass." He failed to hide the emotion from his voice. He didn't care at that point. Tamara, I'm sorry...
The cloaked man breathed in and seized as much of the Source as he could, nearly passing out. Quickly, he linked with the girl. Magic circles suddenly littered his body. Each of them glowing. He was putting everything into this. He'd longed for the day to fix this, and he wasn't giving up now. "If the world intends to fight you, then hone yourself into a weapon it can't break. If the body gets renewed, then use it as that weapon."
Ailill put together a highly complex weave. "Power. All of it that you can handle without burning out, girl, if you really want to save him."
The wolf girl nodded and quickly seemed to match what Ailill could hold. She had summoned a spear in her hands, and seemed to be holding herself stable with that. The cloaked man studied his weave very carefully as he drew it into the earth. "Every line has to be there. One off, and his entire being, and everyone here will cease to be. This weave and balefire are only separated by one line. I regret that mistake."
"Sis..." Conrí felt absolutely helpless in the situation. He looked at Jason.
"Lad with the red eyes or the wolf boy. If you know Healing, we need your strongest one right when we release this, or the two of us die." The weave felt complete and right this time. "We always get one miracle." Ailill looked down at Rand and saw a tear splash down on the man's cheek. "Ever amchora'mashiara." As the whisper left his lips, he nodded slightly.
"NOW!" He felt the weave release over Therin, and could see the girl falling back just as he seemed to be doing. A pure light enveloped him and felt warm and familiar, but, he didn't want to be spun out again just yet. He prayed that one of the two lads would be able to actually heal them. That, or he hoped the castle would show him some mercy. Gods from the memories I hold, please, save the girl, at least. Tell Tamara I'm sorry. I have much toh to her.
For a brief moment, he saw Therin as a boy standing in front of him, before fading to Tamara's face. The stars on that night had been so bright, and he hoped to hold them again soon.
Ailill nodded slightly to the Vagabond. "It's slightly more complex than that, as matters of the heart often are." A sad smile appeared on the man's lips. "He is strong, but, we should win. The magic he uses won't be noticeable. We'll go soon. Are you ready?"
The Vagabond grimaced from beneath his hood, nodding at Ailill's words. Matters of the heart...are always tricky... There was a bitter resentment in his thought, one mainly aimed towards his own research. Shaking the thought off, the vagrant steeled himself as Ailill mentioned they would be leaving soon. "I'm ready." The Vagabond clenched his fists by his sides, a faint dark aura encompassing his body. It was reassuring, to hear that the swordsman believed the fight to be in their favor. He wouldn't allow himself to lower his guard, though. The Vagabond was always wary of giving his enemies the upper hand.
As Rand fell to the ground Jason panicked enough that his clone disappeared, stopping only when he realized that the others had caught him. He recognized ancient magic before Ailill explained, but the amount needed to keep them alive seemed far more than he had, even with Aspect. Still, he would try his best even if it killed him, and he shut his eyes to pool everything he had into the spell. Sorry Conrí, Mink, Jen, Lucia...
Open the door!
Snapping his eyes open the spell faded as he saw both Éirín and Ailill do the same, even as Conrí prepared to do exactly what he had been about to. "Sorry Conrí. Dark Thunder." The smallest amount of black lighting he could muster arced to his love, just enough to jolt and Silence him before Jason Flash Stepped to the door and flung it open.
"Requiem of Ascension!"
A massive burst of Light, Darkness, and Twilight swept through the door, bursting out to reveal Lucia with massive angelic wings of shifting white, black, and purple, and hair to match. Her armor was pure Twilight with swirling Light and Darkness accents, and she radiated pure, divine energy. Raising her arms, Light and Darkness pooled in one while Light and Twilight formed in the other.
"Dark Holy! Dawn of Time!"
Both impossible orbs lanced forward, the second splitting into three before hitting Éirín, Ailill, and Rand just as the first detonated in an explosion of Light and Darkness that hid them from view for a moment.
As the blast cleared, they were ten yards into a crater, the ground simply gone as the three were fully and completely healed and refreshed. Lucia hovered above where the ground had been and sighed, opening her eyes to glare at everyone with enough force Jason actually stepped back. "What happened here? Did you forget the reason we're here and decide dying sounded fun?"
Six characters, written by five alters... What could go wrong?
One miracle. Never two. Never with our bodies in tact, it seems. How much did I over do this time? Ailill had to remind himself that he wasn't dreaming or slipping into a slumber. He instinctively wanted to blink away, but, could not move. That much, huh? And the gods, do they not hear my pleas?
The cloaked man chuckled out something that sounded more like a rasp. "Mashi." The whisper was faint enough that he barely noticed it wasn't a thought. He closed his eyes, prepared to accept it, that he had pushed again and changed something important. Right as he was about to feel himself slip into the null, something washed over him and restored him to the point he'd been at before he'd made a circle with Rand in the first place.
Tamara... For once, the thought didn't drive him mad, but, it seemed like the clarity, while greater, would slip away again. He smirked wryly at the thought, then sighed. He felt relieved when he saw that everyone was okay again, but winced when he heard the question asked of them all. Before he could answer, the castle blinked him back to Ba'alzaemon.
"They should see us as soon as they come up the stairs, and then we lead them into it, okay, Ba'alzaemon?" The man smirked. "You certainly seem ready."
For a moment, Ailill seemed to pause, rasping out a silent murmur that the hooded vagrant could not hear. Tilting his head a bit in confusion, seeming to pause and almost...wait, was his mind playing tricks on him? "They should see us as soon as t hey come up the stairs, and then we lead them into it, okay, Ba'alzaemon?" The sudden question took the man by surprise, nodding silently. "You certainly seem ready." Shuffling slightly at the comment, the Vagabond nodded, his grin hidden within the shadows of his hood. "Yes...I am." He would lead them into the trap. He knew exactly what lay behind this door behind them, if he were to be the one to open it.
It's been a while...since I've been there... The thought was silent, stirring in the back of his head as he stood by the door, gazing at the foyer entrance across from them. The looming white walls seemed less imposing then before, though the Vagabond was tired of seeing them. I can't wait to be done with this...and free from this place. That was the genuine state of the man's heart as he stood on the raised platform, his gloved left hand ready to open the door that awaited them.
That place awaited. No one could handle it easily.
Nobody else spoke as Ailill vanished somehow, so after a moment Jason spoke up again. "We didn't forget, Lucia. You know how this place..."
His halfhearted attempt at explaining was cut off by Lucia turning to look him in the eye, her tone still biting. "How this place works? I've been through here three times, and never had this level of trouble, not been drawn in as far as you seem to have. Even you and Jen didn't four years ago, and you were here with Riley, Nazo, and Shade." Her admonishment made him lower his eyes, deciding to pick up Conrí rather than face her.
Soon enough she turned back to the others, softening her tone and glare slightly. "I know how tempting it is to fix things here, but remember that all of this is illusion. It's not worth dying over, especially when you're here for a different reason. Duty may be heavier than a mountain, but I strongly disagree with the notion that life is lighter than a feather. And yes, I know you're awake Rand, so you might as well stand up."
Rand's mind raced with all that had just happened. He had awoken just in time to hear the single word whispered by Ailill, and hearing it awakened a memory he thought long gone. It was of another time and place, a field and a clear night sky, and a word that he hadn't heard properly the first time. Oh how he wished he had.
Suddenly everything Ailill had done back then was clearer, and Rand barely managed to berate himself for his ignorance as he did indeed stand. He looked at Lucia, awed by her form, but he knew full well that Éirín could feel the conflict within him settle into a revelation and a new feeling. Reaching out his hand, he spoke softly to her. "I will not let him die, nor will I allow him to suffer the taint for much longer. We're going to have to have a long talk after all of this, raya amchali'mashio'vin, and for that I am truly sorry. I still love you just as much as Elayne, Avi, and Min, but I think I've loved him just as much since I first met him."
Steeling himself, he spoke up for all to hear. "Yes, I am awake, and I do understand. It was more for Ailill's benefit than my own that I did that. He's always been the type to push far too hard on his own, and I couldn't stand by and let him do that once again."
His aura was far clearer than his words on the matter, catching Lucia off-guard enough to make her chuckle. "So that's how it is. Something tells me that I'll be quite a bit busier as a Master than I expected." Growing serious again, she turned to look up the stairs beyond the door. "I can sense they're up there, but why they're waiting I have no idea. If they expect to ambush us then they're in for a rude surprise though."
Motioning the others to follow, she folded her wings and climbed the stairs. Jason and Rand followed, the former still carrying his love.
At the top Lucia looked between the two, taking note of the oddly overlapping auras in the one she hadn't seen before, before resting her gaze on Ailill. "I am Keyblade Master Lucia Kalenia, Bearer of Twilight and student of the Heart. I'll be escorting this group the rest of the way through here, even if that means fighting both of you. I'd prefer to avoid that however, so if you'd like to explain why you're fighting when we've already promised to bring you to your wife, Ailill, I'd be more than happy to try to help. Otherwise," she channeled Darkness and Twilight in her hand, ready to launch Voice of the Fallen at the slightest indication from either aura, "this castle might end up needing to repair itself."
She turned her gaze to the newcomer then, speaking neutrally. "I don't know what he's told you, but I can see the mistrust in your aura. We aren't bad people, and don't want to hurt anyone. If you don't fight us, we won't fight you."
Six characters, written by five alters... What could go wrong?
Éirín opened her mouth and reached out for Ailill's hand, wanting to stop him. If his aura had been any stronger in those last few moments, she would have started crying. She outright gaped when she noticed Lucia. She finally exhaled the breath she'd been holding, laughing a little at the fact her fool brother didn't think and was knocked out cold.
The wolf girl grabbed Rand's hand the second he reached for hers. She squeezed his hand gently, not quite sure what to make of the conflict she felt flowing through the bond, so, she was more than happy when he seemed to resolve it on his own. But, his next words made her both shudder and feel a little sad for the red haired man. She shook her head slightly and smiled. "I'm kind of outside of time myself, at this point, and, to be honest, I could tell from the way he caught you at the same time I did.
The priestess thought for a moment, then laughed. "The look on his face made it more than evident, though, he did whisper something when he thought you were going to pull through but he wasn't. 'Amchora'mashiara' or something like that." She leaned down and kissed Rand softly. "We can talk as long as you'd like once we're done here."
The goddess was silent for a moment more. She stared at Rand before helping him to his feet. "For what it's worth, it's not like I'm going to deny you two a chance. It's pretty clear to me, anyway, that, no matter what or how this ends up, you both have unfinished business. I mean, I'm not keen on being bonded to him right now, but, I am open to it."
Ailill took in the sight of the group in front of him. His gaze locked with those blue-grey eyes, and he felt his eyes sting with tears. He quickly weaved them out of his eyes before it became too evident. He had learned that trick quite a long time ago. The memories came back clearly enough, but, the taint quickly seized hold again when the woman, who seemed like she deemed herself some kind of goddess in that form of hers, spoke. A slow smirk came to his lips. "I wanted to make sure you actually could help me. Although, I find it amusing you think you're the only one with a form like that. It's impressive, yes, but, until you've seen what I have, and have done what I did for an entire world, don't think you're the strongest here."
The cloaked man's voice became cold as ice when he got to the end of his speech. He didn't even look at Lucia during it. His eyes stayed fixed on Rand. "Have I served you long enough, Tamylin? Have you truly remembered, or, are you faking it, I wonder?" The madness squeezed, and Ailill gasped. Finally, he addressed Lucia properly. "If you want to be done with this place, fine. But, I ask that you let Rand stay here. I have much to test him on. I'm the one who became a sa'angreal and played the Pattern like it was a piece of music, after all. I want to see if his rebirth was actually worth something!"
Ailill also stared at Éirín and an unconscious Conrí. "I suggest you stay, lass. It will be quite a sight, and might help fill in the gaps. The crimson eyed one no doubt has business with the pup who's unconscious, anyway." With a satisfied smile, he stepped forward once, keeping his hands upraised, to show he didn't have any intention of attacking Lucia. "What say you, Therin? One last spar? The only rule I have is that you don't Heal me from the affliction I have. That job just simply isn't yours."
As the hallway somehow rippled and changed into a field of flowers with a large tree in the middle of it, the cloaked man looked at the Vagabond. "Go with the others. I release you from this ridiculous favor, and, I am sorry. They should be able to help you." When he turned back to look at Rand, it was as though he was a boy again, from long ago.
straxeragous: so, a while back Hood and i were on another kh rp site on devientart. and we may have sent this places link to our friends that we still keep in touch with so they can join.
Mar 8, 2019 0:52:56 GMT -5
Conrí: Awesome! Thanks, Hood and Strax!
Mar 8, 2019 10:32:04 GMT -5
Alma Taschner: Been a long while since I did stuff here. Currently considering the idea of coming back and making a new character.
Mar 19, 2019 0:32:43 GMT -5
Alma Taschner: I know I won't be using this old version of Alma if I do.
Mar 19, 2019 0:34:13 GMT -5
hoodwink: Heads up for anyone that might check out Discord--a lot of folks are on hiatus so those of us who are active are typically not in general chat but in DMs instead. If you hop in the discord and wanna see who's active just message in general first!
Sept 18, 2020 8:47:33 GMT -5