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Author Topic: Epiphany: To the Heart of Darkness  (Read 562 times)

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Offline Davin Ragal

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Epiphany: To the Heart of Darkness
« on: October 16, 2016, 09:56:16 PM »
To the Heart of Darkness

[Continued from: Blood of the Righteous]

The hills were bare, but the countryside was breathtaking.  Davin trod the foothills of Khalar, the peaks were a wonder in Entar, a wonder he wanted to protect.  He was seeking a passage through the mountains, a way to the Wastes.  There he would meet Zyrphath, and they would seek the darkness he had beheld.  Despite this, all was quiet, and Davin was aware only too much of this.

He paused, mimiking the consumption of water from his canteen.  Since his powers had began manifesting, his necesity to consume water had seeminly dropped.  What was next?  Would he no longer crave Valgardian steak, cooked in butter?  Would he no longer desire the Andunese late harvest strawberries?  These were questions that would have to wait.  The manifestation of the shadow creature had reveled some truths to Davin, and the answers were in the horrific ruins of Loriath.

A voice from behind.  "You keep dark friends, Dragon..."  Davin spun, but he already knew who had spoke.  Behind him stood the Midnight Falcon.  A man of mystery, but a part time mentor to the swordsman, though even Davin could not remember how he became such.

"Zyrphath may at times use questionable methods, but he moves things forward in the world, he assists me and assists my lady."  Falcon's lips curled in a slight smile as he simply held up his hand as if to give some for of reassurance.  "I have no quarrel with with your shadowy friend, at least not for now.  Twas merely a comment.  From what I here he may have helped you come to terms with your own darkness..."  Davin was shocked.  No one survived the the dark encounter in the fortress.  The bloodbath had left the fortress a gory terror, that over time would likely get a reputation as people explored.  Not only that, even if Falcon had been there, he could surely only speculate on what had happened to cause the slaughter.

"How could you..." Davin uttered through his shock.  Falcon simply held up a single finger with his smile widening slightly.  "Information is but one of my skills and assets." He replied to Davin.  "But I am not here to talk about your current issues, you are resourceful, and will figure them out."  He paused, sitting down on a nearby boulder.  Davin remained where he was saying nothing.  He had been hoping to keep the shadow creature from as many people as possible.  "I am here to talk about what you could become..."  He stood, his hand falling gently onto the hilt of the longsword at his side.  Davin's eyes narrowed.  Was he about to attack?  A strange line of conversation if he was.

If Raven saw Davin's body language change, he ignored it and continued.  "I am going to give you a choice here.  If you agree to hear me out, know that this is a one way street, as your answer to my question could spell death." Davin tensed a little.  Falcon smiled and wagged his finger at him.  "You are likely the finest swordsman I have ever witnessed, Dragon, but have no delusions.  You cannot beat me."  Davin relaxed a little, but was still wary.  The raw confidence of the mysterious swordsman rang true to him, but if needs be he would try an escape.

"I say this now not as a threat.  If you do not accept my offer, the likelihood is you will perish.  Not by my blade, but your own power will tear you apart."  There was a seriousness to his expression that Davin judged to be genuine.  "Very well Falcon, I accept..."  Davin swallowed hard.  It felt like he was losing his freedoms, and the path of his life was narrowing.  He hoped that this would not impinge on his quest with Zyrphath to the Wastes.

Without further prompt, a young woman descended from the loose canopy of trees above, Davin had no idea of her presence.  She wore loose fitting tunic and trousers, and clearly had a short sword in a scabbard, strapped horizontally across her lower back.  She had black hair held up with a ribbon.  She was an attractive woman, Davin though, but she eyed him with a steely gaze.

"This is Raven..." said Falcon with an matter of fact tone.  It had not really occurred to the swordsman, but Falcon, himself included, named everyone after animals of some sort.  A peculiar habit, but one that Davin thought would be made clear soon.  "She like you, and even I have the ability to channel our great spirit in order to perform feats of a more supernatural nature."  with this sentence, suddenly pieces started falling into place.  What he had assumed to be a side effect of the terrible magics of the Lich of the Tundra, were in fact something else.  No wonder this mysterious character had taken an interest in him so soon after this ability had manifested.

"We are members of an organization called the Spirit Blades.  We are what are called Myrmidon.  Once we were a prolific organization, now known to less, we are a group that attempts to guide the course of Eldanar as a whole."  He paused to let the information sink in.  Davin was surprised, but accepted that perhaps his abilities would be explained more fully.  He felt like there was perhaps a test coming on.  He kept his mouth shut, his senses heightening.  "Your awakening abilities show you have the potential to join us..."  With a nod from Falcon, what Davin expected happened.  The woman before him tensed and with a crackle of the familiar energy that Davin experienced, she was gone.  Suddenly there was a short blade at his throat.  Davin had never been caught in such surprise before, he almost felt embarrassed.

Falcon continued to talk as if nothing had happened. "Our nature is volatile, but with training and ascension, it can be controlled."  He paused and looked a little speculative.  "Because of this, I am afraid that if you do not want to join us, I must eliminate the potential threat here and now." Davin almost felt angry, he was really given little choice.  How would they even anticipate if he simply lied.  Falcon waited patiently for a response, but Davin felt flustered, so much to digest and produce an answer in such a short time.  With a sigh, finally he spoke. "Not that I have much choice...I accept"  A smile crept across Falcon's face.  Davin looked puzzled, but the blade at his throat dropped away.  He did not dare look around, rather kept his gaze on Falcon.

"How do you know I am not just lying?" Davin finally asked, his curiosity getting the better of him.  Falcon smiled again before responding.  Davin wondered how other people perceived this mysterious man.  He guessed some could find his light heartedness an irritant, but for some reason the argent knight found this nature of him trustworthy.  "You may now see this as an irritant, or even perhaps maddening, but with time, you will hear the voice of peoples spirit, their will...some might even say their consciousness." Davin looked puzzled once more.  "You mean I will be able to read the thoughts of others?"  The very idea gave him chills.  Was he to become some form of sorcerer?  "Nothing of the sort..."  Falcon replied shaking his head with his smile broadening.  "It is difficult to describe, and will become clear to yourself.  It is more analogous to tasting over hearing.  You get a complex impression, and must untangle it for yourself.  With time, you will be able to manage to hear when you wish...now you are likely overwhelmed when in crowded places."  It was true, sometimes it was painful.  He wondered why it was never in effect around the shadowking.  Perhaps his mysterious power prevented this ability.

"It comes and goes..."  He finally said.  He turned sideways, now very aware of the mysterious woman who accompanied his sometimes mentor.  She stood with her blade still in hand, held back hand limply.  Had he not been taken by surprise, he wondered what effect that short blade could really have were he ready.  "Ironically, the desolation to which you travel is the perfect place for you to train this ability, as you have opted to train with our organization..."  While outwardly he showed nothing, he wondered exactly how the Midnight Falcon knew where he was headed, but thought better than to ask.

"Before you can begin, we must trigger a recognition in you..."  Without warning once more, the female companion was upon Davin.  This time he had scant time to pivot and draw his own blade, though it did not clear the scabbard.  He caught her short blade on his partially cleared blade with a cold ring of steel.  Davin unleashed his own ability leaping rapidly backwards with a crackle of energy, freeing his blade and steeling himself for the next attack.

What followed was a flurry of attacks, energy dancing off the body of his opponent as he barely managed to deflect.  When he could muster his own reserves he could send a riposte with his own underdeveloped talents.  Steel rang on steel and the woman pushed the offensive, despite the disadvantage of her blade.  In the background he heard the voice of the Midnight Falcon.

"Admirable.  Your skill with the blade is a sharp as ever.  You cannot beat Raven, but many have died at her blade.  You repel her with efficiency."  Davin could not tell if this was matter-of-fact or complimentary.  In fact he could not even focus on the words for too long as the barrage of blows continued, even became more intense as she flitted from place to place, attacking from any angle.  Davin's defense held, but even still, there was no avenue to pursue an attack himself.  "Indeed, I needed you to focus your mind, and given your prowess with the blade, this seemed to be the most appropriate method..."  Falcon's voice seemed to have much more clarity this time, but Davin was too busy frantically deflecting and dodging blows, the combat becoming much more acrobatic, to notice.  "Reach out a listen, not with your ears, but with the same power you use to hold your opponent at bay..."  Despite not paying huge attention to the words, he absorbed them.  It was only then that he noticed that the combat was now entirely a motion using the distinct power he had recently discovered to be that of the Myrmidon.  He had never been able to sustain it for this long before.

Suddenly, as if from nowhere came a voice "Can you hear me?"  Davin knew straight away.  It was a female voice, and he knew it came from his attacker.  With little idea of how, he tried to 'think' back "Yes"  Suddenly the battle ceased, the female referred to as Raven simply sheathed her weapon and sauntered off to lean on the closest tree.  Davin collapsed onto a rock, aware of how tired he was.  Above him, Falcon loomed, his grin ever apparent.

"You did well Dragon...better than you think.  You heard Raven's voice, and responded.  Of course the entire time I spoke to you in conflict, I was responding to your spirit, not your ears..."  Davin panted, more tired than he had been in a long time, and a feeling of draining or sapping of his strength.  "I thought...you...said we could...not read...thought"  Davin struggled to issue.  Falcon only smiled once more.

"You cannot steal the thoughts from another head, but we as Myrmidon can also commune with our will over our voice.  It is key to understanding this ability.  Raven has just shown you the key to unlocking this power."  With a pat on the shoulder, Falcon turned to move away.  As he strolled down the path he spoke.

"Try to find your inner voice on your journey to the Wastes.  If you succeed, when you return, we will begin the real trial..."  With that Davin was alone.  There was much to process.  He sat, recharging his energy as he awaited Zyrphath.

**********

As the two Myrmidon walked the path in apparent silence, they held council unheard by all.  "Master Falcon...this Dragon, he does not seem fit...he is erratic in spirit.  His real heritage could be a blight on Entar."  With a nod, the response came into the head of his student "He is needed.  He will be a power for change.  Lady Ataleu's ideals for change are admirable, if we can guide them, then we can do so for the benefit of all Entar..."  No further words were spoken as the two Myrmidon disappeared back from the foothills of Khalar into the Valgard countryside.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2016, 06:13:59 PM by Davin Ragal »

Offline Zyrphath

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Re: Epiphany: To the Heart of Darkness
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2016, 03:50:34 PM »
On a small hill in the distance beyond and slightly above the opening where Davin and his host had been situated, a thin, towering silhouette emerged from the darkness so slowly that it was difficult to ascertain from one moment to the next whether it was actually there or not. At the point of becoming visible enough to see without much doubt, the observer would see it well enough to ask themselves how they possibly could not have seen it before, at the same time giving rise to a strong uncertainty of how long it had truly been present.

"Judging by the clang of steel, I can only presume you were either old acquaintances not on the best of terms, or new acquaintances on terms yet to be established," he spoke calmly and no louder than usual from the top of the hill, and yet, it was audible to Davin despite the distance between them necessitating a shout.

Zyrphath had ventured ahead to check on their route while Davin rested and performed some quick field maintenance of his equipment. He was an unparallelled scout when need be, even when he was out of his true form, knowing much about visual concealment and silence alike. Still, his greatest asset was his eye (or ear, even) for detail; keenly he would become aware of the slightest speck out of place or gone wrong, fueling his normal borderline paranoid behavior to great effect. He was deathly careful, ever watchful, silent as a cat and to an untrained eye practically invisible.

As he began his descent towards Davin, it was as if he stepped out of a veil behind which he had been concealed, his form now visible in a more tangible manner. He bore the skin of an elf, clad in modest, dark leather and concealing cloth. On his back, a bow and a filled quiver; all in all, a ranger's apparell, that for all intents and purposes were purely cosmetic, as he had virtually no skill with such weaponry. The only remotely familiar tool was the small blade stashed in a sheat hanging from the right-most backside of his belt.

Despite the comparatively normal Elven form, that was equally unusual for Zyrphath, and the clothed camoflague, Davin had no trouble discerning that the hooded figure, this black-clad bowman appearing out of relative nothingness in the distance, was indeed his travelling companion. The equipage seemed suitable for travel, unseen travel perhaps, and that was certainly his goal. There was no saying what they might run into during their journey, and perhaps counter to the philosophy of many, Zyrphath did not believe in sporting power for the sake of intimidating a party yet encountered. Further, travelling behind the cloak of his Lord's shadow might also prove to be counter to their interests, as any interaction they might be forced into could reveal more than what would be wise.

"I would advise caution if you are thinking about following a captain who proclaims the desire and ability to guide, yet is reluctant to disclose the direction," he continued, approaching the knight. "He seems to know a lot about you, and yet you do not even know his motives. Advantage to him, dangerous for you."

In all truth, Zyrphath was distrustful of the encounter, for all the reasons he mentioned to Davin and then some. Knowledge is a tool more powerful, though very subtly so, than any magic. In his already distrustful mind, a person or group of people able to procure or glean such information as had been displayed, to so easily come upon knowledge that virtually no one had the idea to even listen for, was a disturbing sign. What other information had they gleaned from the same encounter? Or from other encounters? How far did this arm of supposed espionage extend?

No, he was very suspicious. He'd only heard brief mentions of their name in the kind of books you only find at the very back of the library's cellar, or in the less-than-successful bookshop run by a haggardly old man regarded by his peers as eccentric at best. Musty, old books, authored by men whose names held little sway. Rumor-makers, fear-mongers, amateur alchemists, conspiracy theorists and overall a grand bunch of ill-reputed lunatics. Or so seemed to be the public opinion, anyway. In an afterthought, Zyrphath found himself pondering if there is always fire where there's smoke, or whether it was all the product of a grand cover-up.

Disregarding their current display of clairvoyance, the thing that troubled him most was the extent to which they might be setting up shop to influence the course of Entar. Zyrphath had plans of his own - plans that involved Davin - which made the appearance of this group seem all the more troublesome. Taking their timing into consideration, choosing or finding it best to appear at the precise moment as the duo had set out on a most dark and lengthy journey, one might doubt the possibility that it was all happenstance. Zyrphath certainly did, though finally agreeing with himself to keep an open mind. In the event that they were not agents with a mission running afoul his own, there could always come a point where the opportunity to enlist their services presents itself.

"Nevertheless, we have urgent matters of a different sort ahead of us. The only road I know," he said confidently, betraying no hint that his statement wasn't entirely true, "leads us right under the shadow of Castle Illyia. In the old world, it was home to nothing ill... as long as you don't count the ruthless corporation, the thieves and the murderous henchmen it housed in that era," he stated matter-of-factly, though with a hint of a smirk crawling onto his lips. He himself had also been a member of the Black Hand, after all, and knew their HQ in and out.

"Now, something else lurks within its walls. We'll no doubt get a whiff of it in the day to come, as we will have to pass not far from the courtyard to get to the narrow pass that will lead us on."
Tome of Darkness


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Offline Davin Ragal

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Re: Epiphany: To the Heart of Darkness
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2016, 01:54:41 AM »
As Davin caught his breath back finally, Zyrphath re-emerged.  He was completely different in appearance to what Davin was used to.  Despite the difference in appearance, no the difference in person, Davin knew who was before him.  Davin could only speculate that there was a connection between them, due to the incident with the shadow creature, but even the voice was clear from distance.  Surely this was not the same voice that was spoken of?  If it was, Zyrphath had his own control over it.

"That was...complicated..." He said in response to the shadowkings initial remark.  Davin had barely had the breath to wonder what had happened.  Much like the appearance of the Falcon in any respect, it was brief and cryptic.  This visit had thus far answered the most questions.  The sight of combat would make any assume, and not assume education out in this wilderness.  Zyrphath was not unwise, this Davin had learned.

"I would advise caution if you are thinking about following a captain who proclaims the desire and ability to guide, yet is reluctant to disclose the direction," Having made his descent "He seems to know a lot about you, and yet you do not even know his motives. Advantage to him, dangerous for you." The once Zyrphath now Elf spoke.  Davin thought as they walked.

"For most of my life, I followed my heart, did not look before I took a leap."  Davin announced as they were walking.  "It was you and lady Ataleu who showed me that following ones heart is proper, but ignore ones head is folly."  He did not directly address the concerns issued by the shadowking, as he was then still processing them.

Further moments of silence came as they continued to slowly walk to where Davin did not know.  Nevertheless, we have urgent matters of a different sort ahead of us. The only road I know  Announced the shadowking.  Davin did agree with the this sentiment.  Their mission had taken priority of even the life changing aspects of Davin's own life.  Not only this, Zyrphath had assisted the Knight in his own endeavor, even if this quest to the wastes was fruitless for the argent servant of Ataleu, it was owed.  "leads us right under the shadow of Castle Illyia. In the old world, it was home to nothing ill... as long as you don't count the ruthless corporation, the thieves and the murderous henchmen it housed in that era"  Davin nodded, he had never heard of the place, but he knew of the old world from the stories of his father.  It would be soon that the new world would change, a new age would be born as the so called new world spiraled into stagnation.  "Now, something else lurks within its walls. We'll no doubt get a whiff of it in the day to come, as we will have to pass not far from the courtyard to get to the narrow pass that will lead us on."  Davin let the comment slide as they strolled in the foothills.  He had some idea of the meaning to the words.

"Zyrphath...you have earned my trust times over.  Our relationship is perhaps beyond the comprehension of others, and that is why I will confide in you what I am able to for now..."  He paused for a time, remaining thoughtful.  "Change is happening to me.  Some of which you have observed, some you have not."  He spoke of the ability that manifested in him, an ability he had though a double edged sword of his fusion to his nemesis.  "My martial prowess is enhanced, as you have seen, I am close to being able to do this on command or will."  It was the things that even Zyrphath could not see that see troubling. "With it, I have seem to be losing the hunger for food and drink, or the discomfort of the elements as they test my fortitude."  Indeed, for someone heading into the Wastes, Davin was lightly garbed, wearing his long coat and under tunic, no hint of provision or warm wrappings.

"Indeed my very need to sleep has lessened to a point of near nothingness."  A lot seemed like an advantage, but as someone who had both experienced all of the above, and enjoyed them, it was concerning.  He could still eat, but the desire no longer took him.  He remembered tours in the Haldarac where hunger and thirst were a driving force, and the reward of hardtack and stale water were the most divine of foods.

"The unintelligible thoughts of others creep into my head when I am near..."  For him this was the worst.  It was almost maddening.  When he was near Zyrphath or Ataleu, such creeping voices were not heard.  He had discovered today that these were the essences of thought, and not some madness contracted.  He wondered if a being as traveled and ancient as Zyrphath may know the organization, but he made a choice to keep that part to himself.

"It is not something for you to trouble yourself with, I just wish to disclose."  Taking a deep sigh, as if saying these things removed a burden from the Argent Knight.  "Your council is more than well noted..."  He looked deep in thought for a moment.  "Trust is earned, and comments are cheap until then.  They claim to want what my Lady wants.  Of this, I am unsure, and do not need to be, for we are an effective hand that can achieve the subtleties.  They also can teach me of these abilities, and the conclusion of them."  He smiled a bitter smile.  "At the time, they gave me little choice regardless."

Davin paused in their walk.  "I will not quiz you on the on-goings of Castle Illyia, as our mission is of priority, and I think I have a hint of what you mean."  Davin had been feeling a strange existential feeling the closer they moved down the trail.  "Let us be on the path, I am ready for the danger.  I feel the thrum of the proud heritage already..."

Offline Zyrphath

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Re: Epiphany: To the Heart of Darkness
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2016, 11:53:44 AM »
Zyrphath nodded, acknowledging Davin's statement regarding the maturation of this thought processes.

"The heart is a fine guide... though it only tells you where to go, at best, but not how to get there."

They ventured on, treading anew a twisting, rocky path that had long since begun fading into forgetfulness. The roads from the tundra and into the mountains had in the distant past been used to great extent, when the dwarves inhabiteted the northern ranges of the Khalar as well. With the fall of the Shield, and subsequently, Loriath, the dwarves retreated to the southern caves to be closer to their strongholds, and the North Legion ironically saw no need to have a very significant presence in the northern parts of Valgard anymore.

The elf-like figure stopped for a moment, his gaze circling up and over the rock and stone surrounding them. Distant peaks and seemingly ever-reaching, impenetrable walls. He enjoyed the mountains for their relentlessness, their aloof stubbornness.

"Zyrphath...you have earned my trust times over. Our relationship is perhaps beyond the comprehension of others, and that is why I will confide in you what I am able to for now..."

He reflected on this statement, finding it odd and yet entirely with merit at the same time. It was strange how their lives had become so intertwined, if only because their starting points were so different. Mostly, the ever-present question was, never voiced and never answered, how they could be around oneanother while being of such different natures. Where Zyrphath's mind and propensities were as dark as his appearance, or even more so, Davin was good at heart and rarely cruel or forceful beyond urgent need. So while they were not necessarily opposites, they were nevertheless not nearly of the same ilk. It was a turn of destiny more unusual than Zyrphath was used to, though not to say that it was unwelcome.

As Davin spoke of change and the things he were experiencing, Zyrphath swelled with internal glee. For while the knight proclaimed that he couldn't possibly have seen all the changes, he thought to himself that he'd seen far more than Davin could possibly imagine. The error, however, lay in the assumption that the process that was now slowly engulfing Davin was caused by Maedhros' touch. Indeed, Zyrphath mistakenly thought that the myrmidonic transformation was instead some form of the Dark Gift. If it had truly been Maedhros' shadow that took Davin, the transformation he described now had been happening too fast. He dismissed this concern, thinking it was explained in part because the time period this had been happening over might have been further into the past than Davin was giving the impression of. Furthermore, a primordial shadow had plagued Davin for ages, and he figured this would make up for the rest of the difference.

It was no matter - if the gift had been given, there was no reason to question it. He thought it only meant the grander plan was coming to fruition more quickly than he had anticipated. Upon the consideration of this note, his mood swung back up to where it had been prior to Falcon's self-introduction. For a brief moment of reflection he pondered how it came to be that his mood would swing between such extremes so quickly, only to be interrupted by a very distant howl coming from up the mountains somewhere. He discarded the previous consideration in an instant, in favor of revelry and a return to the majestic surroundings.

"Take care to notice where we walk, Davin of Dicaspia, for we tread now where history has tread before us, and those who tread after us shall think the same. Notice it before we descend into the coming night."

Nightfall was indeed approaching, but that was not Zyrphath's meaning, although it was a most fitting metaphor. Their destination had darkness in store for them both, in ways that were hard to foresee even for a servant of the Dark Lord.

"It would not matter if you quizzed me - the shadows know many things hidden from view, but what now lives in Castle Illyia is beyond my sight despite the darkness that has always engulfed that place. I only feel... that it is different. It is impossible to describe with any proper accuracy, but imagine if you were able to smell things that cannot be smelled. You don't recognize the scent or its source, but you know that there is a scent. I smell it in my soul - something is wrong inside Illya's dungeons, but I do not know what."

From his standstill, lost in a contemplative gaze as he finished his monologue, he picked up the pace once more and started up the path with no indication of intending to make camp anywhere. Night was coming, true enough, but he thought it would be unwise to stop now. The cover of darkness would aid them more than it would aid whatever else living in these parts. In this regard, it was fortunate that Davin had all but lost the need for sleep.

"While we are on the topic of change, Davin, I must tell you, that I am changing as well," he said mid-stride, looking ever onward. "I couldn't put into words why or how, but I feel myself becoming... something else. Likewise, there is something afoot in all of Entar, something that is tugging at the unseen chains that bind the very land itself."

Zyrphath strode on undramatically, and he noted to himself that they were about to come into view of Castle Illyia. They would have to be more cautious as they passed it by or risk rising a force unknown. Coming around a large stone, he hunched down so as to limit the silhouette he exposed to anyone watching from the ramparts surrounding the castle's courtyard.

Such sneakery was no obstacle to his monologue, and he continued, though a little more hushed.

"I have felt it for a while, as have others. Many moons ago, I convened with the wizard Malygos and he spoke of the Val'Istari sharing this sentiment. I have also had visions, a young shaman as my guide, foreshadowing in vivid detail many things to come, though they are impressions that are impossible to convey to others. I do not know what is happening, though I also know it in some unexplainable way, and all can say with any certainty is that the whole of Entar will be shook by it."

Turning his head back towards Davin, he added, "We are on the brink of something the annals will remember for all eternity. Let us not squander this opportunity. As you said, let us be ready for danger. It will no doubt prove useful."

Ironically, and unknown to him at the time, the annals would not remember anything about the events now at Entar's doorstep - though not for a lack of being worthy of entry into these annals, quite on the contrary, but for reasons literally no sane person could have thought possible.
Tome of Darkness


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Offline Davin Ragal

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Re: Epiphany: To the Heart of Darkness
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2016, 01:26:38 AM »
"Take care to notice where we walk, Davin of Dicaspia, for we tread now where history has tread before us, and those who tread after us shall think the same. Notice it before we descend into the coming night."  Davin agreed that the night was going to be an issues, whether or not he could take in the fading strands of history in these parts of the land.  The terrain was rugged, but not beyond navigation.  Still in the modern world, there was no use to build a road here, as it seemingly would deadend in a partial bluff of the mountains.  Davin had faith the in the abilities of the shadowking.  He wondered how often he had walked this path.

Still the coming darkness was going to be an issue.  Davin may have made some progress in training, his body may have been changing in a surprising way, for he could move and feel things with greater depth and skill than before.  But he was still human.  He could not see in the dark.  Stopping was a complete inconvenience, and a light was out of the question.  Predators would come to the light, as well as more powerful unwelcome creatures.  While Zyrphath and Davin were no walkover, such an inconvenience would be a delay that none had the time for.

It hit his suddenly.  Both the words Zyrphath had said back at the Island Fortress Massacre, to sharpen his mind over his other traits for the journey.  Also the training Falcon had given him on the journey.  Both seemed unrelated but inspiration took hold, Davin closed his eyes and tried to focus a little.  Not for too long at a time, he could still see, but he wanted to test out a little.

Much flashed through his head, but not all was conclusive or helpful.  Still it was a start.  "Your advise is appreciated..."  Davin commented, while still attempting his new 'trick'.  Zyrphath mentioned Illyia again, Davin felt a twinge.  There were no coincidences here. "We will investigate this place, though it sounds like you have had much experience there already..."  He wondered what, but would not pry.  "A hunch tells me I will require more for this, though I cannot place why.  Instinct alone cannot explain this one, though I need to develop my abilities."  Was all he said on the matter.  He could not explain the feeling but there was something up there, something related to the Island.

The shadowking spoke at length on the coming change.  A feeling Davin had felt often.  It was refreshing to hear another perspective on it, perhaps a more learned one.  "You need not attempt to describe it, I have felt it to, though perhaps a less enlightened feeling, given your examination."  He answered.  At first it had been a foreboding feeling, as if something was not right, perhaps with his life, perhaps with other things.  It was something he had brushed off as a feeling one gets when facing the unknown in the day to day of life.  Then there was a clarity within a fog.  As if a piece of a puzzle jumped out only to melt away once more.  If one were to pass these feelings off as blips in life, they would not notice.  Looking at the frayed existence, the so called peace that existed across the lands, one could see fabric of this fragile nature unwind.  Davin did not see things with such clarity, but he felt pulls, the tugging, in some ways as if the very nature of the land, the very construct of it all was crying for change, and that change was in motion.

"I have felt the pull, and I too wish to see change...though I think the coming change will be more than we expect.  The passive nature of Entar is over.  I think few in Entar realize it, but change is coming, big change..."  Davin sighed as he tried his technique once more.  Better, but not complete.

His entire life had been conflict after conflict, but it was true.  In Entar most knew peace, none knew of the wars of old, of the struggle.  But in this peace was stagnation, and in stagnation corruption will grown, but so will the desire for change.  Yes, there are those suffering in Entar, and there are those prosperous.  But the openness of the whole land was destined to fail from the start.  Davin had never even considered it initially.  They could not sustain, and this change was just on the face of the common folk.  What bigger things would come was different.  He could only speculate.

"...Entar will be shook." Davin could not help but be chilled by this statement, though in his heart of hearts, he knew it to be true.  "When I was a young man, still just a mercenary working job to job, I strolled the markets of Elenion on my time off.  I happened across a philosopher spouting his words to the ignorant masses."  Davin looked reflective for a moment stopping in their walk.  "He shouted: 'The World Dies, For Our Land Has No Reason To Progress'"  Davin had a smirk on his face, though in the darkness of the mountains it might not be apparent.

"Though his claim was born of madness..." You do not stand in the markets of Valgard and spout words like this without some level of madness.  "What he says is somewhat true.  We are united and divided at once.  We walk around together, but we have no idea.  I have traveled most of the world, though I admit that the Wastes will be a new experience for me.  We are not united, we are far from it."  Davin felt a little impassioned, but it faded quickly.  With a breath, suddenly he saw something mute.  He could see the landscape, a little, despite the fading light.

"I can see in the darkness...not much, but I can."  Curious still that he could not sea Zyrphath.  No matter though.  If nothing he could see him through absence, though that would be very dependent on background.

Recovering from the lashback of his attempts, Davin looked around.  "Lead the way..."

Offline Zyrphath

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Re: Epiphany: To the Heart of Darkness
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2016, 06:17:34 PM »
Zyrphath mused almost nostalgically at the ancient rampart walls, or perhaps what lay behind them. The outward appearance of this little mountain stronghold, out of the way and all but forgotten, did its history little justice. It bore no signs of the events it had housed or the significance of the consequences laid bare by what had transpired within.

It seemed like a lifetime ago that Zyrphath and Angus had set out to steal the Storm Jewel in the name of the Black Hand. Admittedly they'd gone a little overboard with the collateral damage, but they were successful in both the heist and the escape back to Castle Illyia nonetheless. It was here Malygos and Ephedel set out to create their doomsday device, Ephedel always faithful to a fault when it came to the errands of Jherad. Though the device was eventually lost and a great effort was put into its recovery and subsequent destruction. It was here the triumph was held when the Balrog fell. It was here Zyrphath once had brought Lady Ataleu not many moons after her escape.

"Aye, I have experience with this place," he replied unceremoniously, pausing in thought to summarize. "In an era so far into the past that I doubt you were yet born, it was my home. They took me in when I was yet fresh off a personal disaster, and I spent many, many years here. Much of what I know and what I am today stems from this place. I won't bore you with the details, but the history of House Dicaspia has a very short but unmistakably important chapter taking place at this very site."

Fully aware that this little snippet of history was vague, not by its content but by its shortness, he still decided not to elaborate. Reciting the full story would take a day and then some, and the aftermath of Ataleu's awakening would perhaps not be very interesting in itself, as it lacked a certain snap. It had been a pivotal moment for both of them, that day when he found the elven lady lost and seemingly directionless, high up and deep in the labyrinthian valleys between Khalar's many windwashed peaks - ill suited for the journey to say the least. And yet, had it not been for that moment, who was to say how it had gone with Ataleu? Assuming she'd have survived the weather on her own, she would never have met Zyrphath or Malygos, Suza's ethereal tower-prison would still be intact, Indyrio would not have surfaced and the Aeta Extoli would never have been founded, the extent of the Dicaspian heritage would have been hard to rediscover, and the claim to Highwood might have been all but lost.

Truly, Castle Illyia was a name worth remembering in the history of the Third Age of Entar, and yet it was practically unknown.

Sadly, Illyia's age of whatever greatness could once be ascribed to it was over. It had been over for a small lifetime. Ephedel was gone, presumably merged with the storms not long after his ascension. Malygos had retreated with the Val'Istari. Angus was off in the shadows after an unfortunate run-in with the law, Urocin was presumed dead, Indyrio served as an advisor to Lady Ataleu and the lady herself worked evermore in the politics of Highwood. Zyrphath had gone off with Ataleu to form Aeta Extoli and support her campaign, though after the fall of his personal stronghold in Dûrlonn circumstances had not permitted any effort to rebuild. Though he yet supported Ataleu, he had not seen her in years, travelling around Entar on various errands (surprisingly often in the company of Davin) whenever he was not in Elenion with his chapter.

Zyrphath's earlier sentiment regarding being in the footsteps of history could not have been more on point, especially now that Davin suggest they investigate what was inside. Being less mindful about his silhouette than he ought to, he stopped and turned towards Davin.

"Madness is underestimated. How many times have sane men foreseen the collapse of civilizations or inspired greatness through attempting the impossible? And given our endeavor to cross the Wastes, that endless expanse of arid, disease-ridden, sandblown, death-trap of a land, most would say we are as bonkers as any doomsday prophet speaking about the end of the world from his m--"

Coming toward the end of his sentence, he could not finish as an almost inaudible whine in the air caused him to pause, though he did not realize what it was before a clang and a thud twirled right by his ear.

In a fit of being smugly satisfied with his own observations, he'd gotten careless with his positioning and exposed his silhouette. The arrow had whistled from atop the castle wall with deadly accuracy, but Davin, despite his self-admitted poor sight, had lunged out impressively and knocked the arrow from its trajectory. Zyrphath instinctively dropped down, taking cover behind the rocky formations they were traversing.

"If this is the kind of change you were speaking about earlier, you have my full support," he said dryly, seeming almost a bit shook that he'd dropped his guard enough to leave himself open to assassination.

"This investigation already looks to have gotten interesting... The new tenant seems to be in the company of one or more marksmen of no insignificant ability. We still have a few turns and a large opening to cross if we are to reach the walls. There is a way to climb around, but that route is deceptively dangerous even in broad daylight - nevermind after nightfall."

He eyed Davin quizzingly.

"If you still wish to enter, we have very little time. In fact, we have very little time no matter what we want to do - enter or not - so what say you?"
Tome of Darkness


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Offline Davin Ragal

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Re: Epiphany: To the Heart of Darkness
« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2016, 12:46:09 AM »
It was during these in the fading light and darkness that Davin and Zyrphath often felt the need for a little less urgency on their various tasks, and it was at these times that illuminating conversation happened, despite at times its more dark or philosophical nature.  Davin would likely never openly admit to the shadowking that in his current crazy and fast paced life, these moments were some of the most enjoyable.  He thought if the same applied the Zyrphath, he would not admit it either.

Indeed, Zyrphath was old, even with the longevity of his former race, and his new form gave him the benefit of immortality.  Such a being would inevitably have great insight into the lore and history of the land.

It was true that an open mind lead to greater insight, greater knowledge.  He mused for a moment over his younger self.  Likely he would have attacked the shadowking on sight, and despite all his youthful zeal, honor and over confidence, would have earned an early grave...if the shadowking had been merciful.  Truly the foolishness of youth was hard to shake, and many never did.  If it were not for the influence of Lady Ataleu, Davin might still be that sickening wannabe paragon that had got him no where in life.

Curiously the entire time he mused internally, he still practiced hearing the voice of the living things around him.  He had yet to find his spirit voice, but despite the instructions he had been given, he found what he was discovering more interesting.  He could even 'see' Zyrphath at this point, though it was more an absence than actually being able to pick him out.

He listened curiously about Castle Illyia.  Davin had his own hunch, but it was clear that Zyrphath had a unique history with this place.  He did not probe beyond the brief details, perhaps if they had some down time in the future, he would hear more, but for now it was best they kept moving.

A familiar sound came to Davin's ears.  The shrill yet subtle whistle.  For someone who had fought in as many battles and skirmishes as Davin, he did not need to think twice.  His senses felt unnaturally heightened, perhaps a side affect of his recent training.  Using the sound, Davin suddenly pivoted in the direction of the trajectory, a trick he had learned a long time ago.  Against the swimming vista of delicate spirit sounds, Davin's mind constructed a whispy image for him, as if the intensity of the moment had focused the ability.  Through the shimmering of the various objects, he could only assume were the plants and trees and small void moved fast.  Like many times before, Davin's vision narrowed as if time were dilating.  This time the difference was the image was difficult to make out clearly.

Without thinking, Davin produced his dagger from his boot and deftly lashed, catching the arrow just in time, the so called spirit energy visibly cracking around his arm.  Despite his narrowed vision, it was not clear whether Zyrphath had moved in time, or his dagger had saved some unwanted injury.  He assumed that a mere arrow would not be enough to snuff the darkness that was the shadowking from existence.  Not spending time to speculate, he followed the shadowkings wise initiative and deftly swooped into cover.

In response to the dry remark from Davin whispered "Let us hope that we need not rely on this further...it is very new, and while the adrenaline seems to focus my learning of this, it would be unwise for me to use my only guide to the wastes as a guinea pig to test..."  Davin responded equally dryly.

Zyrphath went on to speculate over the occupants of this one place out of his history, ending in a question over whether they should investigate the place.  Davin toyed with the thought only for a moment.  If his hunch was correct, he would want to return here, but not today.  If he went in now he would likely end up dead, with or without the shadowking at his side.

"No...this place will be revisited, if my feelings are sound, but for now we need to press on for now.  I feel the hands of my heritage close, and I do not think it is a coincidence that you come to this place with me.  Perhaps we will both find a fragment of ourselves in the desolation."  Without more of a word, Davin sprang up, accompanied by the shadowking in his current form.  There was the whistling of arrows in the air, but as far as Davin's senses could tell, they were inaccurate reaction shots.  The two made their way in a hurried fashion across the rocky terrain skirting the walls of the fortress.  The occasional arrow came close, but none hit their mark.  Davin kept his dagger to bear in case he had to swat further missiles from the air, though he was not as confident he could replicate the feat.

Eventually they passed over a rise, having skirted the walls of Castle Illyia.  The shots stopped as they sunk out of range or view, Davin had truly lost track of the distance in the rush away.  Embarrassing for someone of his training, but it was difficult to adjust to the new sensation of travel in the pitch blackness, with only a junior found abilities to guide him.  He mused how the archers were taking their shots, but if they had lighting on the ramparts, they would be able to more easily pick up silhouettes in the darkness.  It was highly likely that in the first instance they had spotted the silhouettes and seen them to be un-moving.  The timing was then easy.

Davin caught his breath.  If he was to lose the need for food and sleep, surely whatever twisted deity had set this wheel in motion in Davin's life could have also given him the ability to reject fatigue.  He tried to extend his senses, both the mundane and his newly discovered abilities, but to no real success.  He hoped they were not being followed, but could not ascertain.  Finally he spoke after some cursory checks.

"I cannot tell if we are followed.  I am banking on the fact they want to defend their stronghold, but either way, we should make haste.  You know the way, otherwise I will be floundering in the dark."  He paused and took a breath, scanning the landscape with his poor spirit sight.  He was actually surprised that he had made it this far without falling over a rock.

"I do not know the way, but I have the ability to follow your shadow, despite the dark.  If I cannot find you, I will be forced to make noise."  With said, the two moved off carefully in the dark.  Where Zyrphaths pass was, Davin did not know, but he was confident that he would lead them both there.  There was danger ahead, but then that would be no change of pace for the unusual two on their travels.