Tales of Amn **Hot Topic**

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  1. #41
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    Announcer: ”O-oh no.. !! Umm.. Help!!”
    Nilak: ”What have you done.. !?”
    Nilak nearly cursed at the foolishness of the people who decided that unleashing a Cyclops was a good idea, an armored one at that!

    The announcer screamed out of fear when the Cyclops suddenly turned its attention towards the crowd. The Cyclops threw an enormous rock at the crowd, it would surely demolish everyone there. There was nothing Nilak nor Falteer could do, the remaining Tainted bandits were too much of a hindrance. Then a miracle occurred. Nilak's stern and silent pupil appeared to save the crowd from the rock. He single-handedly destroyed the rock so that the crowd would remain unharmed. Immediately after that he drew the Cyclops attention to himself, thus giving Nilak and Falteer the chance to deal with the remaining Tainted.

    Nilak: ”Balthazar!!”

    A smile formed onto Nilak's lips, the Cyclops's odds of winning just went down a notch. Falteer annihilated his side of bandits quickly, only bursts of lightning and bandits' screams could be heard. The announcer liked Falteer's style, he was watching Falteer's moves and at some point even tried to come up with a clever pun involving a ”shish kebab”.
    Sadly his effort went in vain since the crowd had been evacuated by someone. Nilak couldn't see who did the job but he was glad someone was brave enough to do it. Falteer soon joined with Balthazar to assist him against the Cyclops. Meanwhile Nilak finished off his side of bandits and also made his way to Balthazar. Once he reached the two, Nilak spoke out. He already had a plan how to dispatch the Cyclops.

    Nilak: ”Listen! We'll keep this one short and sweet. I will attack first and freeze the Cyclops's armor. You two come in next and shatter the armor. Don't hold back! That armor is thick, like we already saw when Balthazar hit it, and can take a really strong beating. Once we've dealt with the armor, concentrate your attacks at the beast's eye! Lastly, be careful.. and give the remaining audience a good show, hmm?”

    Nilak laughed and then launched himself right at the Cyclops. The Cyclops made a huge swing with its hammer which Nilak dodged by flying straight up. Nilak switched his weapon again, the roulette spinned and gave him the ice spear, Kudoroi, again. Nilak infused all the ice magic he could into the spear and launched it at the Cyclops. The spear crashed into the front armor, freezing it solid. The ice spread quickly and covered the whole armor. Right now the Cyclops had problems moving but the ice wouldn't be able to hold him still for long. This was the time for Nilak's pupils to act.


    – After the Cyclops's armor is destroyed –


    Announcer: ”Eh-heh.. C-can you see that? Now the beast is.. Right. G-great work, heroes.. !”
    Nilak: ”Looks like our announcer has run out of words.”

    The Cyclops was now unarmored and thus vulnerable to attacks. Balthazar and Falteer had made sweet work of the armor, it was in complete shambles on the ground. The Cyclops roared and swinged its hammer again. Even the beast knew it had to really start fighting now if it wanted to survive. Nilak knew the hammer would cause much trouble when attacking the eye, even the beast knew that its eye was their target. It would do everything in its power to prevent that.
    It looked like the Cyclops had to use the hammer with two hands, thus disabling just one hand would halve the efficiency of the beast's attacks. That was Nilak's next goal, he was confident his pupils would deal with the rest.

    Cyclops's skin is tough and hard to pierce through, thus cutting its whole hand would be hard. The best course of action would be to cut off the thumbs. Without thumbs, the Cyclops wouldn't be able to wield the hammer anymore. His plan was set, it was time to move. Nilak dove through the air straight at the Cyclops's left hand. Unfortunately the Cyclops saw Nilak and retaliated by giving Nilak one giant punch.

    The force of the punch was so immense that Nilak flew through the air and crashed through a wall. The Cyclops roared and changed its target. This gave Nilak the time to recover, and luckily attack the Cyclops from behind. He blasted off from under the rubble, latched onto the Cyclops's arm and made a swift swing which cut the thumb off. Before the Cyclops was able to counterattack, Nilak already cut the beast's other thumb.

    The hammer came crashing down, leaving the Cyclops completely open for attacks.

    Nilak: ”Now! Finish him off!”
    Nilak yelled out and lodged his spear through the Cyclops's right temple.


    – After the Cyclops's death –


    Announcer: ”YESS!! They did it!! I-I mean what else could've happened when this trio is involved?"

    Nilak landed back on the ground with Falteer and Balthazar in the nearby vicinity. He made a short laugh before rubbing his shoulder, the punch he received earlier had made some damage there. He turned and faced his two pupils, raising his thumb up to signal victory.

    Nilak: ”Excellent teamwork. Ha! Looks like I taught you two well! Hmm.. We need to hurry. Looks like the race is starting any minute now.”
    Nilak glanced towards the city and saw some bright lights illuminate the sky. The final act of the Moon Day was about to start: the Moonpearl race. Nilak turned to face Falteer with a rather serious expression on his face.
    Nilak: ”Before that.. have you made your decision, Falteer? Will you join me and Balthazar on this forsaken crusade?”


    ** Kinrai **


    Issat: ”Please wake up, master Kinrai! The Moonpearl race is about to start!!”

    Only loud snoring could be heard from Kinrai's mouth, he had completely fallen asleep during the Moonlight show. You couldn't blame him, the tales felt like bedtime stories. Issat pouted once and then gently nudged Kinrai's nose. She was far too small(and gentle) to make any impact on the snoring Kinrai. Thankfully someone nearby noticed Issat's desperate attempt to wake Kinrai and decided to 'help'. The high elf grabbed Kinrai from his ear and pulled it down hard. Kinrai's eyes shot open and he yelled out of pain.

    Kinrai: ”Wh-WHAT?! Oww!! That hurt.. !”
    Weird One: ”Oh my, I thought that was the doorbell! How silly of you!”
    Kinrai: ”Oh no, not you again.”
    Weird One: ”I am equally happy to see you too, Mister Bellyache McFartface”
    Kinrai: ”Please leave me alone.”
    Weird One: ”FLAP FLAP FLAP!! Look at me! I'm flying!!”

    The Weird One started running around and flapping his arms as if they were wings. Kinrai sighed before turning his attention to Issat.

    Kinrai: ”What is it?”
    Issat: ”The Moonpearl race is about to start, master Kinrai! You wanted to join, didn't you?”
    Kinrai: ”Yeah, I do! Let's see.. the contestants are over there. Make way for The Lightning Feet!”
    Issat: ”With all due respect, master Kinrai, but that title is not exactly.. Umm, actually nevermind.”

    Kinrai ran to the starting line which was located in the middle of the marketplace. There were at least 10 other contestants, most of them were dark elves. Minathiel soon arrived in a stunning white dress with golden linings, she looked like an angel who had descended from the sky. She was the one who would release the Moonpearl, the target of the Moonpearl race. As always, she was also the one who announced the rules for the race.

    Minathiel: ”Wonderful evening to everyone. Now starts the final phase of our beloved Moon Day festival: The Moonpearl race! The rules are as follows: the one who catches the Moonpearl first is the winner and receives the blessing of the Moon Goddess. You can only use your own speed, pallas and any summoned creatures are not allowed. Contestants, are you ready? I wish you all luck. Let the race begin!”

    The Moonpearl was set free from its golden box and it vanished from sight almost immediately. All the contestants zoomed into different directions in order to spot the pearl. Kinrai made his way on top of the colosseum, where he could see things better. Once he reached the top, he saw how a Cyclops was lying dead in a pool of blood with three figures standing near it. Kinrai couldn't make out who they were, thus he turned his attention back towards the city. He narrowed his eyes and started looking.. the Moonpearl glows with a blue light, that was what Kinrai tried to spot.

    (( OOC: Oh.. well it turned out long anyway. ))
    Last edited by Takesh; 05-20-2011 at 05:23 PM.

  2. #42
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    The Cyclops was pissed, more than it should've been. Did it actually understand Balthazar's taunting earlier? Who knows. Nevertheless the ground shook as the Cyclops swung its hammer. Balthazar was doing his best to dodge the attacks and also connect a few blows into the beast's armor.
    The Cyclops was about to swing again, and this time Balthazar wasn't quick enough to dodge. In a manner of seconds, he created a solid layer of rock around his arm, just like before and crashed his fist against the rampaging hammer. Sparkles flew as metal and rock collided. Balthazar was thrown back by the force but the hammer was also repelled back so much that the Cyclops also lost its footing.

    The layer of rock crumbled away from Balthazar's arm, he had to catch his breath for now. The Cyclops roared and was already rushing towards Balthazar. The thing's stamina was just something else. Thankfully Falteer just landed next to him to give a helping hand, giving a boost of confidence to Balthazar and also thanking him for stalling the Cyclops.

    Balthazar nodded and turned his focus back to the Cyclops. Nilak also arrived only seconds later. Just like always, Nilak took the leader's role instantly and devised a battle plan for the trio. It always surprised Balthazar just how fast Nilak was able to come up with strategies, just like the time in Onomu when they were fighting the Lurkers.

    Nilak told the plan, first he would freeze the Cyclops's armor and then Balthazar and Falteer would destroy the weakened armor. Nilak also mentioned the thickness of the beast's armor, which Balthazar knew from first hand experience. The armor was tough, that's why both Falteer and Balthazar had to do the job.
    Nilak threw a short laugh and told the two to give the audience a good show, in which Balthazar smiled a bit. Finally Nilak seemed himself, odd considering they were battling for their lives at the moment. Right after that Nilak flew off into the sky and froze the Cyclops's armor successfully with his spear.

    ”That's our cue. Don't fall behind now, Falteer.”
    Balthazar said jokingly before starting his attack.

    Balthazar sheathed his other katana, grabbed some sand from the arena and through alchemy changed his unsheathed katana into a stone hammer, a big and heavy one at that. Balthazar also reinforced his arms by creating another layer of rock around them, this enabled him to wield the hammer like his katana. The Cyclops was still struggling to move and was all open to attacks.

    Balthazar zoomed in and smashed the Cyclops's right kneecap into shreds. The Cyclops's fell on one knee in which Balthazar responded by jumping in the air and swinging his hammer right into the Cyclops's skull. A loud crack was heard as the beast's helmet fell off. Balthazar landed back on ground and started hammering the back side of the armor with everything he got.

    Finally the back armor crushed into shambles and fell on the ground. Balthazar still continued on, the armor had to be taken down before the Cyclops's gained its mobility back. He smashed the hammer next into the right shoulder and turned the pauldron into little pieces. After that Balthazar finally let go and took some distance, he had to catch his breath again. He was confident Falteer would get the rest of the armor in time.


    – After the Cyclops's armor is destroyed – (( Thought I'd use the same.. things as you did Takesh. Keeps it clean and simple to read ))


    The announcer tried to spout something but he was much too scared. Nilak commented about it but Balthazar didn't bother himself with the scaredy-cat. Now it was time to kill the beast, Nilak went ahead and cut off the Cyclops's thumbs so that it wouldn't be able to wield the huge hammer anymore. This gave an idea to Balthazar.

    He reinforced his arms again and grabbed the Cyclops's hammer. It was incredibly heavy and Balthazar had to muster all his strength just to hold it. Balthazar felt like he was trying to lift up a small house. Soon Nilak yelled out to finish the monster off. Balthazar started spinning around with the hammer, with momentum he would be able to direct the hammer into the right spot. He spun faster and faster and finally crushed the Cyclops's chest with its own hammer the same time Nilak had pierced the beast's skull. The hammer went in so deep it was impossible for Balthazar to pull it off so he just left it there.

    The announcer cheered as the beast fell. Nilak laughed again, bragging how well he had taught his two students. Balthazar smiled too but only briefly. Nilak mentioned the Moonpearl race which is why Balthazar also checked the sky above the city. Inpa had swaggered how he would join and, naturally, win the race.
    Balthazar wondered if the boy was going to actually go for it, although knowing the spontaneuos little guy that was basically pointless. He would definitely go for it and then sulk around the next day because he lost. It seemed Falteer was still unsure whether he'll join. Balthazar decided to leave beforehand.

    ”I'm going ahead Nilak. Falteer.. Na-den pedim ad.”
    (Until we speak again)

    With that Balthazar hopped on Elfaan and sped off towards Valham's nest.


    Inpa

    ”Okay! Time to test out my newest creation! . . The Speed Boots!”

    Inpa held two shoes high in the air, clearly trying to boast with them. The boots were made of metal, a very light kind of metal, and both boots had a pair of wings attached to them. The wings enabled the user to go faster and even fly if there was enough speed.. in theory. The self-proclaimed young genius inventor was more than proud of his newest creation. He was going to test the boots in, you guessed it, the Moonpearl race. He didn't hear the rules Minathiel spoke and thus did not know that using anything other than your own speed was forbidden. He walked over to the starting line with the boots on and waited for the starting signal.

    ”Be ready to be amazed by my speed guys.. !! I'm faster than lightning!!”

    The other competitors laughed and as soon as the signal went off, blasted off into the distance in order to find the Moonpearl. Inpa himself activated the boots and then gracefully zoomed through the crowd and crashed straight into a wall. The speed was more than Inpa expected, so much more that it was impossible to control it. Inpa tried again, everything around him became nothing but a blur and again his face was buried into a wall of a house. The young inventor would not give up however, he activated the boots again but before he was able to speed off, a strong hand grabbed him from his shoulder.

    ”You are hereby disqualified from the Moonpearl race for using forbidden equipment!”
    ”Eh? What? NO!”
    ”Did you not hear Lady Minathiel's speech? She told the rules and they forbid the use of anything else other than your own speed!”
    ”B-buh.. DARN IT! My experiment is all ruined!”
    ”I'm sorry.”

    Inpa left with a grumpy look on his face. He kicked the sand a few times as he walked down an alley. He decided he'd visit Balthazar, it's not like Balthazar actually did anything else other than sleep these days. Well, that's at least what Inpa thought. When he reached Balthazar's little branch of a home, he saw it was empty. Inpa sat down and watched the city with a slightly puzzled look.

    ”Where are you, Balthy?”
    Last edited by farag0n; 05-25-2011 at 07:18 PM.
    Calm down people, it's just me.

  3. #43
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    The two friends walked through the crowd of people on the plaza of Monark until they suddenly came by a clearing. Flames surrounded the area. A sudden burst of fire missed Askari just, scorching the hair on one of his ears. Shocked the Beastkin stumbled backwards, but then he smiled. In front of him a fire mage preformed his tricks. He winked to the Beastkin and laughed loud while releasing another blow of fire. Amazed Askari stared to the man as he began juggling with five fireballs. It was a somewhat cute sight: a tall Beastkin gaping like a little child to a street performer.

    Vice snickered. “Come on As, it is not that special.” She said. “These things have been done over and over again. It is almost getting old.”

    The Beastkin continued staring. The performer tossed all the five balls up in the air, spun around, caught them again and continued juggling. The crowd cheered.

    “As?”

    Again the Beastkin decided not to react.

    “As!” Vice said irritated that her friend ignored her. “Those jugglers are everywhere. Even you must have seen them back home. Come along we have more to do.”

    Askari stiffened and turned around to face the small elf. “As a matter of fact I haven’t seen them once at home.” He spat suddenly to her. “You know that very well Sirilia.”

    Vice eyes narrowed. “What did you say?”

    “I said you know damn well that I didn’t see those performers back in my home country Sirilia.”

    “I advise you to stop calling me that.” Vice voice was dangerous low.

    “Well I advise you –”

    “A wonderful performance! Drinks all around!”

    “…” Both Askari and Vice stared to the man that had appeared in front of them. He was tall in every possible way. His head oval shaped, his face elongated with a long pointy nose and a broad mouth, his body sinewy and his limbs looking slightly too long for some reason. He wore the most flamboyant clothing you could imagine and on his head, a bit cocked to the left, balanced a small party hat that flashed in all the colors of the rainbow.

    “Who are you?” Vice asked. She moved her stare away from Askari and directed it to the man.

    “Have a hat.” The man replied. He offered her a bunch of hats that mysteriously appeared in his hand.

    “I asked who you were.” Vice voice sunk a bit lower.

    “I’m the one that parties the most. Whenever there is a party you can be sure that I’m a present!” The man made a pirouette. “I have to say you two performed magnificent! So much tension, the emotion, the anger, it was all so raw and pure. Exquisite!”

    The two friends stared to the man and then to each other.

    “Let’s go As, this guy is nuts.” Vice said.

    Askari nodded in agreement. “What’s wrong with him anyway? I’ve never seen someone like that before.” He asked as they walked away.

    “Hee! You guys forget your hats! There is no partying without your flashy party hat!” Then the crowd closed around him and he disappeared out of view.

    “Finally…” Vice mumbled. “I believe that was one of the Nameless ones.” She said to Askari. “They’ve discarded their names for a new one, a one to which they have to stick closely. So that guy must be like the Party One or something. Anyway,” she turned to face the Beastkin, “I’m sorry. That wasn’t really… appropriate of me. I know you haven’t seen any Moon Day’s at home.”

    Askari looked down to his feet. “I’m sorry too for calling you that. That wasn’t really nice either.”

    Suddenly the two laughed. “So what do we do next?” The Beastkin asked.

    “We party of course.” Vice chuckled. “There is so much more to see in Monark then just the fire jugglers. There are tons of magicians who perform.”

    “No, actually I meant about the mapping.”

    “Oh, yeah, well we need to go back to Nayru.”

    “What?” Askari stared to the girl as if she was crazy. “But we just came from that direction. Shouldn’t we first redo Monark again, apply all the changes and stuff?”

    “There is not time for that.” The two halted near the act of two water magicians who made countless of sculptures from ice. “You see I finally figured it out.” She casted a glance to Askari to make sure that his attention wasn’t only drawn to the sculptures.

    There are tons of places that are hard to get to, but there are just two places in Amn where we, as normal earth creatures, cannot come: one is Riverna and second is Quallus. Now we originally thought that there were two ways to get there. The first was asking an Inuik or one of the merpeople to take us there, but this is highly unlikely to happen since the two haven’t accepted others for decades. The second was summoning a creature powerful enough to at least fly us to Riverna. But this also is unlikely to happen since I’m not powerful enough to cast a spell that big nor do I know of someone who can do that.”

    Askari nodded, his eyes still fixed on the mages. They had formed a sculpture of various objects that were spinning and swirling around each other in a never ending dance. He and Vice had gone over these thoughts again and again and again.

    “But,” Vice continued, seeing she still had the attention of the Beastkin, “we forgot something very simple. I noticed it when I skimmed through Summoning from the Abyss. There was a part about magic. You see the solution is very simple. I just need to change into an animal. Then I can just fly up to Riverna there and swim down the ocean.”

    Askari ripped his eyes away from the people in front of him. “That is not possible.”

    Yes it is. I just need someone who can teach me the earth skill Transformation. My affinity is earth so there shouldn’t be any problem with that. All I need is a teacher and where to find a better teacher then in Nayru.”

    Askari stared to her. There was actually a magic skill that let people change into animals? “But isn’t that dangerous?”

    “Tsk, does it matter? I have to complete my father’s work, you know that and this might me my only way to make sure that at least the outlines are all mapped down. Are you with me?”

    Askari nodded. “Do you even need to ask? Though... can it wait till those guys are done?”

    Vice chuckled. “Sure, we’ll leave tomorrow morning.” She said as she pressed on of her hands against the building they were standing close to. As she removed it a symbol shone brightly with a blue light for a second or two before disappearing.

    Askari frowned. “I thought you said you weren’t going to map Monark down today.”

    Vice grinned. “Can’t harm to edit a little bit, can it? I’m sure this building wasn’t here before.”

    -------------------------------
    ~At the same time in Nayru~

    In the library of Nayru a bright blue light could be seen. It came from an alcove in which only stood one wooden table. On that table there was a large piece of paper displayed which glowed blue on the right side. The alcove was strictly prohibited for any visitors other then the most high ranked members of the community and therefore a guard stood before the entrance.

    The said guard looked up when the light appeared, but didn’t move. A smile made its way over his lips and he knew that Amn was once again mapped down more accurate.


    A man said to the universe:
    "Sir I exist."
    "However," replied the universe,
    "this hasn't created in me
    a sense of obligation."

  4. #44
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    Watching the fight finishing he had to admit it, the rumors about Nilak and his apprentices were true. The cyclop had focused on the team of three and ignored the few people from the crowd who had decided to stay, their eyes filled with pent up bloodlust, content regardless if it was the cyclop or Nilak and his apprentices being torn apart. Why this slaugther was still allowed he sometimes wished he didn’t know, but it was a fact, the elves wanted a place where they be able to witness death and blood being spilled without having to risk themselves, savoring every second of the participants suffering. Heading towards the announcer, still screaming and cheering for Nilaks teams victory. Tapping his shoulder the elf turned around, annoyed to be disturbed in what was his moment of glory before recognizing him as the man who had evacuated the stadium.

    “Where is the leader of the coliseum? I need to talk to him and appreciate it if you cooperate with me. If you don’t I got authorization to charge you for hindering a council investigation”
    “He should somewhere in the coliseum, there’s an entrance over there” the elf said, pointing to a door at the wall behind him. So much for loyalty to the employer.

    Walking past the elf he swung the door open and peered in, the musky light from the torches lightning the way as he entered. Opening several doors he found nothing special, an armory, a few cells, a kitchen and servants who all had no idea where their employee were, this continued until he encountered an reinforced door which, to his surprise, had the key in the lock. Not having much faith in luck he held one hand on his sword as he turned the key and swung the door inwards. The torches were put out in there but he thought he could see a faint movement within. With a flick of his hand a small flame came to life just in time for him to see a shadowy mass jumping at him.

    Drawing his sword Hypocrite he barely managed to block something crashing into it, forcing him to jump back to the corridor to retain his balance. Coming out from the room was an Svert, a man high beast covered in fur with a hunched walk as it always were slightly bent, two long arms with clawed paws at the end swinging, one of them leaving a red trail behind it after cutting itself at his sword. These were just observations Andrim unconsciously made as he had his full attention on the creatures most distinct feature, its head. It was very much like an anteaters head, hanging from the mouth which protruded like a tube was an almost completely transparent tongue like organ hanging out.
    The end of it lashed with a hollow spike. Blinking the creature tried to focus its eyesight on Andrim, the sudden light confusing and paining it.

    A Svert was a night creature which was usually not dangerous to any sentient creature as it fed on small animals like rabbits or foxes, an odd habit despite its capability of hunting larger animals, but if exposed to light the creature went on a rampage, attacking anybody close by. Slowly approaching Andrim the Sverts tongue suddenly lashed out at him, ducking he barely avoided it as it flew past him and back again into its mouth as it missed. Despite its dangerous looking arms it was the tongue which he knew he had to watch out for, if it hit him the spike at the end would penetrate his skin and the Svert would begin to suck his blood out through it and in a matter of seconds he be fully drained. Keeping a careful eye at the Sverts tongue as it slowly advanced he reached for a torch and threw it at the creature which took a few fumbling steps backwards in panic at the sudden source of light, taking the opportunity Andrim rushed in and aimed a slash at the neck. Sensing the danger the Svert raised its arm which blocked his sword with its fur and skin forming a shield.

    Smiling faintly the sword began to glow and went alight, hissing in pain the creature tried to block out the light with its other arm. Letting go of his sword he grasped Balance, one in each hand, slicing the second arm, forcing it away from the throat he sliced it open with the other. Slowly the Svert fell over and soon lay in a pool of its own blood. Picking up his weapons he turned around as somebody spoke to him.

    “You might make a good gladiator one day”
    The slave driver, the leader of the coliseum walked towards him. Andrims body tensing might have given him away as the elf merely laughed “I won’t run anywhere, I got no need. One of my men has already informed me, you’re one of the council’s lapdogs and now you think you can arrest me isn’t that right?”

    “You exposed the public to danger when you let a cyclop in, they are known to tear their very body apart to throw boulders, if it threw a rock at the crowd it been a massacre. Also it’s not proper safety to let such a dangerous beast be in a room with the key left in”

    “That was merely my way of testing the quality of the dog that came after me. And you blame me about exposing the public to danger? You got to be joking, this is what they come for, the thrill of danger and death. I am merely the one providing it! And you want to arrest me for that? Don’t kid yourself, you could try to but I be out in a heartbeat, we elves love our laws but some of us love money even more and I haven’t gotten to where I am today without making a few friends. So either you can apologize and I ignore you killed my next fighter or you take me with you and I make sure to get out and make your life hell afterwards”

    Keeping the same calm face as always as the rage built within him at each word from this mocking man Andrim knew that every word he said had been true, for him to own the coliseum he was a man with no small influence and it just be a matter of time before he squeeze his ways through the laws and be set free, after that he make sure to pay Andrim back in full. Something he could not afford. His hatred for the coliseum and what it stood for had temporarily clouded his judgment, he realized now there was no way he be able to arrest him without anybody having died, even if they did he was not sure he be able to.

    “I understand” he said as he bowed “I apologize for killing your fighter, I was acting rashly and because of that I caused an unnecessary death”
    “Oh I suppose I can forgive you, move along back to your master now” he sneered, not even attempting to hide the glee in his voice.
    Standing up Andrim left, quickly striding away while hearing the satisfied laughter behind him, having to ignore his pride like that had happened so many times since he had started working for the council, and it still pained him just as much as the first day he’d been forced to do it. Entering the stadium on the way out the rest of the crowd had gone and so had Nilak and his apprentices, only the corpses of the bandits and the cyclop being the evidence of blood having been spilt here today. Looking up he stared at the moon, seeing it at its final stage he could only make a wish to it that all these years hadn’t been for nothing.

    The smith being too engrossed in his work to pay attention to the fairy Direya watched the moon light glistening of the metal as the man worked it, as the moons phase had begun to come to an end the metal had only become more and more beautiful by each passing minute, when it be completed she couldn’t imagine anybody not wishing to posses it. Fluttering of to the knife she ignored her thoughts of the metal, she had other things to do. Getting closer she could still hear the whispering of the knife which frankly freaked her out, living things she could deal with but a knife wasn’t supposed to talk. Afraid, annoyed, and angry at Andrim for forcing this part down on her she took a grip on the knife’s handle and began to slowly nudge it upwards, normally it be impossible for a fairy to get a knife stuck in a table loose, but as she dragged on it felt like something pushed it upwards from beneath, exactly what it was she didn’t want to know.
    Last edited by Befram; 07-05-2011 at 10:59 AM.

  5. #45
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    Default My apologies

    (I want to first of all apologies to the people in this RP, but where the hell is everyone, this place is more dead now than it was when I was first complaining about this. Again sorry for the post to an RP I'm not apart of but it was the first one I saw. There's no new CSs on new RPs, there's no new RPs, and the posts completely stopped)
    I must confess that I feel like a MONSTER!!!

  6. #46
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    (OOC: In this RP, there's a rule about post length. So people are just taking their time to write. And everyone in this RP is still here.)

    "We can't go on in this weather," the coachman give his last push at the cart only to see the wheel coming out and sink back down, locking itself within the groves in the mud, "the horses are tired, and I'm too old to do this, and we are bending around a very narrow path. Very dangerous I'd say. I wouldn't do it no matter how much you paid me." He looked back at his passenger, no longer sitting in the cart. Standing outside, under the rain beside him. His eyes gazed at the path ahead, then back again and nodded.

    The coachman loosen the rope on the horse, and tied it to a nearby tree, and went in along with the passenger into the safe vicinity of the cart. "Quite the weather," the passenger spoke as he settled into a cozy corner, and brought out some hard bread from his packet. He broke the break in half with a crack, and chewed it noisily, but neither seemed to mind.

    "It was just like that day," the coachman looked out through the flap that covered the entrance of the cart, "this same hellish weather, on this same road."

    "What is it?" the passenger asked in curiosity.

    "A passenger, rather a mad elf, tried to force me to continue going, but no way I would do it. No way, too old to risk dying early. When he couldn't convince me, you know what he did?"

    "What?"

    "He hopped out, and just walked ahead by himself. In this crazy weather, on this crazy road. But I don't blame him."

    "Why?"

    "Because I knew him."

    "Huh?"

    "He was just that type of elf."

    "That type of elf?"

    "Yes, an earless elf."
    ---------------------
    Rain.
    It fell, washing the world indiscriminately.
    The traces of evidence, the whispers of the heart, the memories of an earless elf.
    Amidst the pouring water, sprouts the lonely being.
    Stepping, steadily, towards the Festival of the Moons.
    A promise.

    -few weeks earlier-

    The Brand New Day

    The rest of the day at office was quiet normal, as normal as any crime department might be. The report on Gerald Silvertail kept Kien busy in his room, though he occasional heard the bustle and hustle Helmholtz made outside, possibly just messing about with the document to keep himself from falling asleep. No one reads the paper, especially not from such a small firm as Kien’s. In fact, even Kien don’t read them, his only responsibility is to put them into a folder and keep them locked inside a drawer. The confidential stamp does make the whole thing look valuable, but Kien knows, even black market wouldn’t buy it for 10 Ruppees.

    After the sun is about to set, Kien left the office and locked the door. The dwarf was already long gone, probably snuck out one hour earlier, or maybe two. He stepped down the stairs in the narrow hallway, taking note not to grind his cloth against the wall, which was covered in an unexplainable black dust that could be the perfect substitute for permanent ink. He sent several request for the place to be rebuilt, but no replies, mostly because his mail’s final destination is probably the trash can in the home of some rich snob, too busy drinking away and bathing in his luxury to care.

    The street was getting slightly busy, as most of the afternoon shopping were done right about now. This also means the busiest time for pickpockets. Several of the cuts on Kien’s cloth was the result of this time of the day, people keep suspecting he keeps his money somewhere within the layers of cloth he wore. Little did they know, that he doesn’t even have enough money to think about bringing out and showing it off.

    However, pickpocket is a dangerous profession in Monark. If you are caught, you are as good as dead, if it wasn’t a public beat down; you’ll be tied and sank under some giant mass of water. That’s the life of the tainted, the thoughts rang in his head. However, the word “caught” is really an interesting way to put it. Because often, when someone sees a Tainted stealing from the bag of a passerby, they usually would not call him or her out, simply because no one wants to be responsible for the death of someone else. Even as chaotic as the slum of Monark there is a strange need to keep things in order.

    Having no money on you has its good points, for one, you never need to worry about stealing. For two, you don’t need to pay attention to the shops set up nearby, because you can’t buy anything. Therefore, the trip home for Kien was usually a fast one. He trotted along until he reached his familiar home, and pushed the door while calling out, “Dia, I’m back.”

    His fairy, Tania, who had followed him quietly all day, drifts slowly towards the cloth stand, and sat on top of one of the hooks, bearing an expression of satisfaction.

    Leminite, Dia’s fairy, was the first that zoomed out the corner of the room and greeted Kien, as it pushed its face against Kien’s cheek. Kien wondered if his beard was a spiky place to grind one’s face upon. Dia came out of her room after; her long neatly cut hair gently swayed behind the seat of her wheelchair. “A busy day?”

    “Quite.”

    She wheeled herself up, and the Kien bent down to gave her a hug, before unwrapping his scarf and changing his overcoat into something more comfortable. Afterwards, he looked around, feeling as if something was out of place. “Did you buy these foods?” Kien pointed at a bag of grocery laid on the table, filled with the fresh produce.

    Dia shook her head, and gave a mischievous smile, “No, but guess who.”

    “Guess?”

    “He never liked to play the guessing game.” A voice to the right of Kien.

    He quickly reacted to the voice and spotted a dark skinned female leaning by the door, in her hand, she held a half eaten pear, while the other was placed naturally on her waist. A dark elf, with the class of a high elf. She had a superior air about her, and her eyes gave no signs of weakness. She wore a casual shirt, laced slightly near the edges, and stood inside baggy pants that covered the top of her shoes, which Kien could make our to be some kind of heels. She kept her hair short and straight, her bangs neatly trimmed, dark and smooth like fine silk. Her eyes are bright green, and her mouth always curled in a teasing smile. “Especially now that you can get whatever information you want with that ability of yours, I would say guess isn't really in your vocabulary anymore?”

    It was safe to say that Kien was slightly shocked, and his mouth hang slightly ajar.

    “Not that surprising is it? It’s not as if I came back from the dead,” she walked away from the door, one feet directly ahead of the other, one hand still maintained on her waist.

    “Close enough,” Kien finally spoke when she approached him.

    She opened her arms, he did the same, and the two shared a hug. She let go of him afterwards, and examined his face up and down, before turning to Dia, “Did he ever shave in these 50 years?”

    The two then women burst into laughter. Even Tania was no longer sitting quietly on the cloth hook, prancing around like a child.

    Times were always like that around Kalea, easy going, free flowing, and in a way, peaceful. She was an acquaintance of 50 years before, which Kien had always assumed to be like barrier. But it seemed as if Kalea broke that barrier and found him. Their first meeting was a century or so back, involving a dead deer, and a few misplaced arrows, the usual hunt. Kien wasn't sure why he chose to tag along, because he wasn't really into the hunt as much as his father, and his feeling seemed to be shared by Kalea during those days. Kalea never complained about his lazy habits, nor his sloppy ways during a hunt. In fact, all Kien remembered was goofing around and playing during it, Kalea being as much a culprit of it as he is. Neither Kalea nor Kien’s ability improved because of it, but they didn’t seem to mind. It was childhood.

    Part of Kien knew that Kalea wanted to be more like the high elves, and he guessed he just acted as a bridge for her to get closer to her wish. However, that was more than 50 years ago. Now they grew up, neither of them reminded each other of the old times. It was all business, as they say.

    "Long time," Kien spoke. The usual filler phrase, the workable one.

    "The usual filler phrase, the workable one."

    Kien smiled and looked down. And when he looked up he looked around, "Didn't bring anything with you?"

    "Left them in the central Monark, rent a place there. Dirty as an attic, but the lock still works. Wouldn't worry about that."

    Kien nodded, his hand in his pockets, his head, thinking of things to say. Meeting like this always tend to be awkward, especially after 50 years.

    A whistling sound took over the conversation, and all three of them looked toward the kitchen, a kettle was sounding. "Boiling water?"

    "Yeah, want to heat some tea."

    Kien walked toward the table, and shifted the bags around, "A lot of groceries here, I guess you are expecting a welcoming dinner."

    "Could I trust your cooking?"

    "Could I trust yours?"

    Kalea nodded, her lip bent slightly to one side in a smile, "Good point."

    "How about you sit down and talk with Dia a bit, while I go and sort something out with these. To catch up, and I don't know, talk about what two girls would talk about."

    "Gossip? Is that what you were thinking?"

    "That's would be stereotyping. But maybe," Kien lifted the bags and carried it to the kitchen, settling it down on the counter.

    Meanwhile, Kalea carried a chair beside Dia and set down beside her. Her hand reached over and held onto Dia's, and the two soon began their engaging conversation.

    Kien didn't' t listen in on what they said, it didn't really matter. As he glanced occasionally from time to time toward the living room, he saw the two ladies conversed with ease, and Dia laughed and gasped. Even just the simple things, like conversation, after 50 years of living in solitude, it was surreal.

    -----------------------------------------------------
    The Steam, the Roast, the Meat Stew

    The energy of the afternoon spread into dinner. Besides the clatter of forks and knives, were the sound of chattering. If you were to pass by at such a time and peaked through the window, regardless of how strange it might be, you'll think a festival has come. It wasn't the decorations, there was none, it wasn't the food, for it was Kien's plain meat stew and buns, it wasn't the crowd, for there was only three elves sitting in the a table of two by two.

    It was the energy, the warmth, the laughter.

    "Age old memories," Kien spoke to Dia, "Don't believe her, she tend to talk herself up a lot."

    "No I do not!" Kalea spoke in defense, "Hardly. It might be that anyone compared to you would be deemed amazing. For you are rather dull in person, much like the soup."

    "And what happened after that?" Dia asked in curiousity, her spoon hanging in her hand, hovering over the soup.

    "That was the end," Kien answered, "Happily ever after."

    "Hardly," Kalea shoved Kien on the shoulder gently, and points at Dia, "He just doesn't want to tell you it."

    "What is it?"

    "A dirty spot on his record," Kalea nodded.

    "Well, I don't think criminal record were kept when we were that young," Kien shook his head.

    "That night, Kien we into Madame Flaura garden with a shovel, and dug up all the Tagilen up, and when Madame Flaura woke up next morning to see her plant laying dead in their place, Kien was in some serious trouble."

    "He did?" Dia sounded in surprise.

    "It happened before you were born, and I doubt Kien's ever proud of it to ever tell you."

    "To make it clear, Madame Flaura did not have any evidence of me committing the act," Kien attempted to convince Dia.

    "And he still went to a year of youth correctional school," Kalea continued.

    "But that was wiped up the record," Kien ended it.

    Dia sat back, and thought to herself, "Wow, all that just for some fruits from Madame Flaura's garden."

    The other two also sat back in thoughts, then Kien spoke, "The fruits were damn good."

    Laughter breaks out.

    "How come I never get to do any of this?" Dia looked to Kien and asked.

    "Because he changed after you were born," Kalea spoke, her tone much calmer than before, "When you were first admitted to the academy, he dropped his job and went to work under the firm."

    "So I was the party pooper," Dia spoke with a hint of tease.

    "No, you just woke me from a dream that's all," Kien spoke, and he went back to eating ,slowly sipping the liquid of the stew between his lips, "It was about time I got a job, can't mess around forever."

    "Well, here's some big concept from a man who've cried so many times when he was little. He was a wimp," Kalea smiled.

    "Was he?"

    "Another story?" Kien sighed, but he was not against it.

    "Yeah, that time when we wandered the woods in the valley?"

    "Oh that," Kien nodded, and looked to Kalea, "But that story was rather long and plain don't you think?"

    "What is this one?" Dia asked Kien, "Have I heard of it?"

    "No, it's just a long rant."

    -------------------------
    The Boy Who Cried Wolf

    Afternoon, fall, sunny.

    Two young elves, one high one dark. Running about, the usual business. Playing in the fields. No worries.

    Then it started with a bet. Always a bet.

    "I bet you wouldn't be able to pick that apple up top."

    "I bet you are wrong." Famous last words.

    The young high elf began climbing. His hands and feet are clumsy, not much of a hunter, but there's no way he'll back out on a dare. He's 8. Dares are sacred at that age. He started with a short ran, and pushed up a bit with his feet against the trunk and grasped onto the nearest branch, and pulled himself up slowly, taking more energy than he had expected. But with a grunt, he's up. One branch down, several more to go, made more difficult by the constant decrease in diameters.

    It was a bad idea, the young high elf thought to himself, but I can't chicken out, his age told him.

    He stopped and looked back down at the dark elf, "What's my reward for this?"

    "Honor," the girl replied.

    "Just honor?"

    The young girl's eye moved up in thought then back down, "And I'll buy you Mrs. Butterpot's gingersnaps."

    Mrs. Butterpot's gingersnaps, the boy could already feel it in his mouth, nodded, and went reaching for another branch.

    He'll have to pull himself up without support from his feet, and he only wished he had energy to do so. Bad idea, the thought went though his head again, but he shook it off. He made a jump, and grabbed onto the branch, the tree waved a bit as he did so. He pulled himself up a second time, looked around. There wasn't that much work after this, all he need was to be careful and walked up the crooked trunk of the tree, and he would get his apple and gingersnap.

    Crack. Always this time, a crack.

    The boy stayed motionless.

    It was a dry season, the branch was drained of moisture, like brittle bones, it cracked under pressure. The boy quickly attempted to jump back onto the lower branch, missed, and a sudden rush, he found himself flat on his bottom, and a dark elf girl laughing. He found himself crying. It wasn't the pain, but something about the situation made it seem like a fitting time to cry.

    "It wasn't such a big deal, why are you crying?"

    He didn't know, maybe it was just losing a bet. Pride is hurt, and he must of looked stupid when he fell.

    "Such a wimp," the girl sat down, a little away from him, on the grass. Watching him.

    But she got bored of that real fast.

    "Just stop it," she said in an impatient voice.

    He did. He was about to ran out of energy anyway, and he also thought it was enough.

    "I'll say you won, and buy you gingersnap, but I didn't lose either."

    He rubbed his eyes dry, and red, and he looked at her, "How does that work?"

    "We are both winners, that's what my father used to say to me when we make bets."

    "Does your father say that to you a lot?" The boy asked, now completely forgetting he has just made a fool of himself.

    "Yeah."

    "Then your father must be pretty weak."

    The girl threw a stick at him, "No he's not, he saved your pa once."

    "No he did not, he never said anything about it!"

    "No one want to admit defeat."

    "You are just making this up."

    "Fine, we'll ask our father about this and see who's right."

    Another challenge is set out, and they sat on the grass thinking just how certain they can win this one.

    "Hey," she spoke again, "Want to go into the woods in the valley?"

    "Valley? I heard there were wolves down there."

    "That's just what they say to scare you, like how my mother said there was a monster wandering in the dark at night to snatch children away."

    "There are?"

    "Of course not, that's just what they say to scare you, so you come home before dark."

    "That's pretty smart of them. I would of believed it."

    "Well, I didn't. And I can promise you there are no wolves in the valley. But there is something nice."

    "Really? What is it?"

    The lass picked herself up, and brushed away any grass that managed to stick to her cloth, "Come, I'll show you."

    "Alright, but no bets this time."

    "Sure, no bets."

    "But I still get gingersnaps."

    "Sure you still get gingersnaps."

    They trotted along, down a unpaved path, into a narrow valley, in the outskirts of town. Of course, being kids, they never bothered to tell anyone about it, it was a secret of their own. Their own adventure. It was a rather long way, but neither seemed to notice. One was too excited to show the surprise, the other too excited to see the surprise. In what to them seemed like a flash, several hour passed, and they found themselves standing by a small river in the middle of the woods.

    "This is it?" the boy sound a little disappointed at the surprise.

    "Not yet," the girl looked up and down the river, then up to the sky, "It should be here almost."

    "This better not be one of those surprises that pops up at you."

    "Now, this one kind of creeps up on you."

    The boy shivered, "I don't like that either."

    "Just watch," the girl began climbing a nearby tree, "It's almost here!"

    She hopped down, with much more grace then how the boy landed earlier, And knelt down beside the river. "Any moment now, look downstream."

    Both of them stared at the far distance, the girl with anticipation, the boy with confusion. He almost give in again when out of the blue, there's a streak of glimmer.

    "It's here."

    Slowly the glimmer approached, and the boy noticed what they were when it got close. Numens. Some say they were spirits, others just marks them as animals. A translucent worm, the length of a hand. They travel from river to river, almost undisturbed by barriers, as they are capable to move through both water and earth. Some called them Light Chasers, for their unusual habit of following the sun light where they go, although it was also known that they never manage to swim directly under sunlight either. The glimmer came from their silver blood, which is visible through their flesh, circulating in organized layout through their body.

    The silver light reflected upon their face, and the brightness stinging both children's eyes, but neither wished to close them. Although they'll learn later on, that prolonged gazing would have caused a hole to be burnt in the back of their eyes, but consequences didn't matter when elves were young.

    "This is better than Mrs. Butterpots' gingersnap," the girl gloated.

    "The only thing that's better."

    The boy put his hand in the water, and felt the numens slithering between his fingers, ticklish. Then, without hesitation, he stepped into the shallow water, almost getting knocked over by the force of the moving swarm. He laughed and moved about in a childish excitement. The girl hopped in as well and together, they walked along with the numens up stream.

    They did not realize how late it was getting, for the light of the numens have the curious trait of mimicking daylight. It was only when the ears of the boy picked up the sound of a growl did he stop and looked around, and realized that they had been here for quite a while.

    "Are you sure there is now wolves in this area?" He asked, for reassurance.

    The girl stopped and looked around, and she too noticed how late it was getting, "I think so." There was not as much certainty as before, and neither of them was comforted. "Let's continue with it up stream, it will lead us out of the valley. Then we can take the broad path. If you are scared."

    "Mhmm," He replied, completely ignoring the fact that she just implied he was the one who was scared, because he is.

    When the second growl came, both of them heard it, but neither of them deviated from the river, continuing to walk as if nothing happened. The boy reached over and took the girl's hands, which was moist with cold sweat. The girl returned the grasp, as she peered right and left without moving her head.

    When the third grow came, and the dark elf pin pointed the location, she sprinted, pulling the boy with her. He almost tripped from the sudden movement, and tumbled a bit as he reached the banks. Then it was a blur. Passing leaves, the drift of still air against their movement.

    They wanted to stop, but the sound of pursuit made them act otherwise. Sometimes, they can feel their breath right beside them, and the boy swore he felt their fur passing his skin, a warmth against his back. Can't look back, the boy told himself, never look back, it will slow you down. They made their way deeper into the wood, and they can no longer tell whether they are still traveling upstream or walking in circles.

    They only aimed towards the moon, they just want to get away.

    Neither of them known how long it had passed before the sound of pursuit faded. The two ran a little bit more before coming to a stop, making sure they are no longer being chased. The boy breathed out a sigh of relief, but the girl did not. Her face turned white, and stared down at the boy. He followed her gaze and found him staring at a bloody mess on the ground where he stood. Drip, drip. Then the pain hit him, and he screamed. Tumbling down as the adrenaline fades.

    A searing pain across his upper back, and legs, where cuts had been, then a shivering cold inside. He didn't remember when he had gotten them, neither did most hunters who've being attacked by a beast. Adaptive trait, but sometimes fatal.

    The dark elf came over quickly, and turned the boy over. The wound on the leg was nothing major, but the claw mark between his shoulder blade was clear. It was deep, but she was glad it didn't damage the spine, he can still have control of his body.

    "Is it painful?" She asked, then shook her head, dumb question, "How long do you think you can hold?"

    He's shivering, the shock still had its effect. She known others who've died from shock, she heard the stories father told her. The heart just give out, and they crumble. What would save them was rest, and a moments of peace.

    She wanted to stay somewhere to wait the night out, but he'll be in risk. No soft patch of grass to sit and rest, only danger awaits in the open forest. Need to get him away from this environment, out from the wood. It was her idea to come down here, it was her responsibility. She put his arm over her shoulder, and with some effort, picked him back on his feet. The boy winced, but didn't complain, only trembled, body paralyzed. She eased him onto her back, taking notice at how surprisingly light he was, but his skin was cold, wet with sweat.

    Got to stay calm, remember the basics. She skipped many hunts, but she remembered the basics. The forest only punish those who fear it, I must be in control. She keep repeating this over and over again in her mind. She took several steps, getting a feel of the balance. She might be able to pick the pace up a little. She jogged slightly, feeling the boy's chin bouncing up and down her shoulder, like a rag doll.

    She felt alone, but not scared. Her sense of duty overcoming her fear. Her pride and ability as a dark elf was at stake. A life was at stake.

    A corner, a shelter, something to give them cover. A long grueling time under the moon later, a slit between the rock formations, that's what she saw as the soil beneath her fear thinned to reveal pebbles. She sighed with relief, but then swallowed it back when she realized she was on the wrong side of the forest. The town is on the other side.

    She can't attempt to go back into the forest again, that would possibly mean encountering the wolves, or whatever they were. She'll have to get help from here.

    A fire, that's what she needs. It might create enough of a signal for the patrol to see across the forest. She hoped. And it will create the necessary warmth. It will also attract the creatures of the woods, but there's a cost to everything, and she's willing to pay for this one.

    He laid the boy down in between the gaps of the rock, and bit her lips slightly when she saw her hands covered in blood. She picked from the floor some dry leaves, and crunched it with her hands to form a tinder, and from her pocket she took out her flint, and strike it against another rock to create sparks. It took several tries before the tinder finally caught the spark, and slowly glow to a fire. She quickly fed it small branches from nearby shrubberies, and brought the boy closer, revealing his back to the flame, hoping it would clot the blood. He was pale already, and she was worried if it was already too late.

    She held him there beside the fire, afraid his head would suddenly drop down to her hand, and she would be alone in the wild. When he finally spoke, she almost laughed from joy. "Hey," it was soft, but it was a good sign, "I'm hungry."

    "Can't do anything about that. Maybe later."

    "Will our parents find us?"

    "Of course," she said it with vigor and certainty. They have to. "They be worried that we haven't returned, a search team will be out soon enough."

    He nodded, no more words.

    A rustle came from the woods, and the dark elf looked up to its source.

    "What was that?" The boy asked, softly, making no effort to turn back.

    "The wind," she replied. It was the creatures of the forrest.

    She eased herself beside the boy, until they were back to back. She felt that the blood still flowed, as the warm liquid seeped through her cloth and onto her back. She unsheathed the dagger hanging on her belt, and held it in front of her, her eyes continue to gaze into the woods, tracking the creatures movement.

    "Do you know any songs?" She asked.

    "…the ones my father sings."

    "Can you sing it?"

    "Don't want to."

    "Why?"

    "It's stupid…"

    "I want to hear it."

    There was no reply. She continued to stare into the woods, and counted, five of them. She almost look back to see if he was alright when she heard it. It was weak, and she was pretty sure the tune was off, but she didn't comment, and listened till it finish. Her hand holding the dagger, sitting beside the fire, back to back.

    The past is like the wind,
    Infatuation, difficult to grasp,
    The wine, my escape,
    The mist, my company,
    The candlelight glimmers,
    A shadow cast,
    Still, I only see you alone in that mirror.


    The night, fallen cold,
    Memories, a dreams,
    Souls lay frozen,
    I endure the loneliness,
    But I can't bear heartache,
    I can't bear these wind,
    I can't bear that I'm empty.

    Long ago, I planted for you,
    Nine hundred ninety-nine roses,
    From the day I'm alone in the mirror,
    Nine hundred ninety-nine roses,
    When the flowers withered, I'm wasted,
    Oaths extinguished with the flowers.


    "You are right, it is stupid," she laughed, when he finished.

    "I told you so…" she barely heard him reply.

    "Your father is strange."

    She felt a movement against her back, then he spoke, "Who is in the woods?"

    "The man planting roses," she lied, "He's not going to leave until there's nine hundred ninety-nine of them."

    "I'm not a kid."

    "Yes you are!" she sounded agitated, but calmed down soon, "I'm a kid too. There's still so many more years ahead of us. So many years before we get to look down on the little ones. I can imagine getting old, year by year. Sometimes, it's like I've lived a lifetime just sitting here thinking. Do you think I'm weird?"

    "You are weird."

    She nudged him slightly with her elbow. The two then sat there without movement for a while. She felt his back slide down against hers slightly, and it frightened her that it did. "Hey are you still there?"

    "…yeah."

    "Stay awake with me okay?"

    "Mhmm…but promise me something."

    "What is it?"

    "If I were to die…"

    "Not if I can help it."

    "But what if…"

    "If you were to die, I'll find those responsible and make them pay. If it's the wolves, I'll clear the whole forest of them. If it's a man, I'll find him and rid him of nine generations of bloodline. If it is a sickness, or ill fate, I'll find god and settle the score."

    "…then let's not think about 'what if' then."

    "I'm not saying it to you just to frighten you. That's my promise to you until I die."

    "If you die, do I have to keep that up?"

    "You better."

    She felt movement again as the boy shifted where he sat, possibly to a more comfortable position. "My father told me people drift away when they grow old. How would you know we won't be separated when we grow older?"

    She did not reply right away, as she steadied her hand with the weapon. The wolves family got their formation and were moving out of the protection of the woods. Their fan bared, their eyes reflecting the light of the moon, emitting a strange glow. "I know. That song. That'll be our code. If one of us sing it, and the other reply, then we know we are still together."

    "What if we don't hear it?"

    "Then we look for it, until we found the reply."

    The fire beside them slowly fades, its fuel sleeping away into smoke. And again, the unpleasant shift of the boy's body, slumping down deeper onto the ground.

    "Let's try it," the girl spoke with eagerness, "I'll sing one verse now, and you return it. Alright?"

    "…"

    "Alright?"

    The fire glows dim.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    Then, Now

    The past is like the wind,
    Infatuation, difficult to grasp,
    The wine, my escape,
    The mist, my company,
    The candlelight glimmers,
    A shadow cast,
    Still, I only see you alone in that mirror.


    Kien heard the voice and spun around slowly from where he stood. The night wind brush past him, refreshing. He absentmindedly moved the sand beneath his shoes, and looked up to see Kalea walking towards him from his house.

    "You didn't reply!" she called out when Kien's within earshot.

    "I forgot the song," he replied when she got close.

    She punched him in the chest softly, "You did eh? I sang it so many time when I was little that it was stuck to my head. Meanwhile you cleared your head of it? They say you had a perfect memory," she smiled slightly and stood beside him, lifting her head up to look at the stars.

    "I forced myself to forget it, it was my father's song, not mine," Kien put his hands in his pockets and followed her gaze up as well.

    "Did you forget the oath as well?"

    "The oath?"

    "You never told me what you want me to promise that night," she looked at him, there is not an expression on her face, as if this is all business.

    He turned to look at her and shrugged, "It's over a century old, and you expect me to remember it?"

    She nodded and looked down. When she looked up she looked resolute, "I got married."

    "Oh," Kien replied, then nodded. He wasn't sure it was the right response, but it was the first that came to mind, "I know that."

    "You do?" Surprised.

    "No, not really. But it was expected. How long has it been?"

    "Almost ten years now. Have a daughter waiting back home."

    "Why you came here alone? Isn't your husband worried?"

    "Probably," she looked away from him, toward a hill in the distance, "But I need a breather. Trying to be a high elf isn't as fun as you made it out to be."

    "Sorry for fooling you then," without her eyes to look at, he stared at her hair and how it shined even in the night.

    She shook her head, "No, don't start that. There's a lot of things to apologize, but I hate to start now," she took a step back, "I think I should get back to the inn, the manager might lock the door."

    He stepped forward, "You sure you don't want to stay for tea or something? Dia still want to talk."

    "It's alright," She took two step back, "I'll be here for a while, I'll drop by to visit some other time."

    "I see," his feet stayed where it is, "then good night."

    "Good night," nodded, waved, then with somewhat of cheerful tone, "your father's right." Walked away.

    ---------------------------------------
    The Purple Suit

    Early next morning, a knock woke Kien up. Twice in a row, a rare event. He stared to the calendar, and made sure it was the weekend. It's either someone else's crazy, or he's going nuts. "Coming," he mumbled, to himself more than the visitor.

    He put on a light shirt and opened the door, met with the morning chill and surprise. Kalea was standing there, shifting back and forth from one leg to another. "Got time?"

    Kien looked up to the sky and saw the sun barely peaked over the hills, and the moon is still faintly visible. "This early in the morning, and you ask me if I got time. I guess I do, depending on what you have in mind."

    "A trip to the circus."

    "Then I don't think I have time."

    "Can't even say yes to accompany an old friend."

    "You know I don't enjoy these kinds of things."

    "I know you don't, but Dia do, and I did promise her yesterday to take her."

    "You did?"

    "Yes she did," it was Dia's voice as she wheeled herself from her bedroom, all dressed up. Kien felt like he's being set up.

    "This isn't fair"

    "Hardly," Kalea give a mischievous smile, "A caring brother such as you wouldn't leave his vulnerable sister in the hands of the evil witch would you?" She wiggled her fingers in front of him as she said it.

    "Afraid not."

    "Then what's for breakfast?"She invited herself in, Kalea's way.

    Half an hour later, Kien found himself pushing his sister along the rock paved road of Monark, hardly enjoying the morning market. It was full of people, and for Monark, that means it was full of crimes. Worst of it is, he can't find them, and Kalea is hardly on the lookout for them. A shove there, and a tug, and by the end you walked from one block to another, you might as well have given your wallet to the beggar on the street, at least that way you know where it went.

    "Why the sudden interest in this?" Kien tried to start a conversation, to save him from the paranoia.

    "It was never sudden, I've always enjoyed these," she replied, looking about, oblivious to the condition of the city.

    "I know, but isn't Nayru popular with these? They have it almost every year."

    "True, but they never had a magician."

    Kien's puzzled, and wondered if Kalea knew what she was talking about, "Magicians? Isn't Nayru almost considered a capital of magic?"

    "A certain type yes," she nodded, obviously enjoying toying around.

    "Have you heard anything about this?" he asked Dia sitting in front of him.

    "No, but I trust Miss Kalea on this one."

    "Then you obviously haven't known her enough." A nudge came to the side of his ribs and he stopped.

    "I wouldn't waste a word on you about it. You'll just have to see for yourself. I'm sure you'll at least find some interest in it," she sounded confident.

    "Will I get a refund if I didn't?"

    "I paid for the tickets."

    "But not my time."

    "Oh please. As if you are going to do anything. Probably going to sleep till noon, then cook, and sit by a river or something and stare the rest of the day away there."

    "You read him like a book," Dia giggled.

    "Oh yes I did," Kalea nodded, proud.

    Yes, she did, Kien thought, "And it's a darn beautiful book."

    "With only a preface and an epilogue, and blank pages in between."

    "You obviously haven't read the whole thing."

    "You are right," Kalea nodded, "I tend to skip the boring bits."

    Kien smiled and shook his head. He must be masochist to find this enjoyable.

    "What a masochist."

    "Huh?"

    "You actually find this enjoyable."

    Read like a book.

    "So where is this?" Better change the topic.

    "Outside the city naturally, the street's are too crammed to put up any decent show."

    "A circus with style."

    "Has to be, because I like it."

    Once they've pushed through the street of Monark, it is obvious where the event is taking place. In the far edge of prairie, a tent was erected. The tent itself was not big enough to warrant any attention, but the crowd around it, that's the true focus. Young and old, men and women, large and small, and variations unnamed, walked around the grass as they visited the smartly set up stalls around it. It was as if the stream of people on the street erupted into the open ocean, and they waved back and fro in the same rhythm as the real one.

    "Guess he is good," Kien looked around, slightly impressed.

    "We should hurry, the show's about to get started, don't want to be trapped in these crowds forever."

    Kalea rested one of her hand on the handle of the wheelchair, and helped Kien wade through the crowd, until they were near the opening of the tent. A line as gathered as the ticket man checked each one off, one by one. Kalea didn't pause behind the last person in line, but continued to push past. Kien didn't know why, and tried to inquire, but Kalea told him not to worry. Once they've arrived at the entrance they made a sharp turn to the left, and continued around the tent, until they arrived at a section of the prairie that was barricaded off.

    "Off limits," a man dressed in orange checkered cloth, raised his hand and stopped the three.

    Kien looked towards Kalea for clues, who replied, "My name is Kalea, I'm here to meet Mr. Linte, with permission of course."

    The guard nodded, "Oh yes, Mr. Linte is preparing for his performance in his tent, to the right. But if I understands it, he in a bit of a difficulty."

    She thanked the guard, and motioned a confused Dia and Kien to come with her. They went on a little freshly laid stone path, and followed it to a purple tent. They heard some shuffling inside, and a shout, "No, no, no, this won't do," came a man's voice, a fresh clear one, but rich.

    They entered the tent to witness the chaotic preparation. An elf, in his middle age is attempting to take off a purple tuxedo as a short beastkind female attempt to keep it on. The man's hair was in slight disarray of grey and brown, but his face was a reflection of youth. He had a slender finger, possibly fragile, medium height, and an aura of mischief. The beastkind was a stern opposite, her large yellow eyes even shone in the day light, a ferocious pair resting within dark lining around it, a jaguar's face and temper.

    "Put on this suit in an instant, and I want no fuss from you," the jaguar exclaimed as she attempts to keep the suit on the elf, who attempt to dance out of it.

    "You are my manager nor my mother," the elf resisted.

    "Poor shame, because you could of used one."

    "A hard time?" Kalea gained their attention as she spoke.

    "As always dear," the jaguar spoke, and a smile appeared as she greeted. It was a strange smile, mainly because it looked to Kien as if she just bared her teeth. The jaguar looked behind Kalea to find Dia and Kien, "and you've brought friends," she nodded, and let her hand slip from the suit. "I guess, there are things you would like to talk to Mr. Lint about."

    "No really, just visiting."

    "Do not worry, I'll step outside. There are always fools out there to make me worry, take your time," she moved to the exit of the tent, then stopped, whipping around and pointed at Mr. Linte, "And you put on that suit nicely yourself, or I'll sew it to your skin with a needle," then she turned to Kalea, Dia and Kien, "now if you'll excuse me."

    The group watched the beastkind leave, and it was only when Mr. Linte was sure she was out of earshot, did he speak, "Is she serious? I mean, about sewing it in my skin?"

    "I don't see why not?" Kalea shrugged, and took a seat on a lavishly looking copper chair with a red cushion.

    Mr. Linte looked to Kien then back at Kalea, "Perhaps you would like to introduce…"

    "Ah yes," the dark elf stood up from her seat and brought Kien closer, "Kien, and Dia meet Markl Linte, and Markl, this is Kien and Dia."

    "A pleasure to meet you," the magician extended his hand, to which Kien received and shook. To which Dia received and was returned with a bow and a peck on the hand, to which Kien found slightly irritated. When he stood up, there was a great amount of enthusiasm beaming from his face, "Kalea has told me a great deal about you. She said you are the most accomplished detective in Monark."

    "Hardly." He never remembered ever being successful, in fact, he didn't even think of himself essential to the city in anyway. He felt more like a janitor with the lost and found box, that people came to when they need an item reclaimed. He looked to Kalea, who shrugged back.

    "Well, you'll have to tell me all the exciting stories that you've encountered, for I do love a story. So why don't you come and join the after party, to celebrate my last performance."
    "Your last performance?" Dia asked in curiosity.

    "Yes my dear, my last performance. I do believe any job has retirement, and it is something everyone looks forward to."

    Dia took a quick look up and down Markl, "but you hardly look the age."

    "You are right. But you have to understand, this is a very consuming line of work, and I do wish to take a rest. Possibly traveling the world after, or just enjoy my time. Much like how Ms. Kalea Evaeria is doing."

    Both Kien and Dia looked to Kalea, who replied, "I do have a job, my lines of work is never very busy, lots of free time."

    "Doing what?" Both Dia and Kien want to know.

    She smiled, and thought about it, "Confidential. Anyways, do you want to go to the celebration?"

    "I'm assuming there is no choice," Kien felt a bit wary about this, it's as if this is planned ahead.

    "Do not say it as if it is burden, do whatever you wish. It's simply my wish for you to join me," though the statement was directed to Kalea, it was Markl who replied, "if you do not feel well, or such events does not suit your taste, do not feel entitled to please this old man."

    He's hardly older than me, Kien thought to himself and was about to say. However, it was Dia who answered, "We would love to come."

    Markl Linte clapped his hand, "Splendid!"

    Thus, Kien's caught by three mischievous individual.

    "Then we'll see you on stage," Kalea rushed Kien and Dia to the tent exit.

    "Indeed, and I'll have to put on this suit before it’s permanently attached," he winked.
    ---------------------------------
    The Magician of the Other Kind

    The three took a seat on the first row, so Dia could sit comfortably in her wheelchair and waited. Although Dia and Kalea are engaged in conversation like they always do, Kien didn't speak, and scanned the entire perimeter of stage and the crowd.

    There is something strangely puzzling when so many people are gathered together, which made Kien uncomfortable. As a detective, he learnt to hate the crowd, because if crowd represented anything for him, it's complication. If a thief ran into the crowd, you might as well put a blind fold and start looking for him. If a murder happened in a crowd, you can't tell who did it, and you can’t reach the site of emergency because the crowd will be opposing your movement. Helmholtz used to tell him of how bird swarm worked, it was called the swarm intelligence. They follow two rules, one, move if the bird beside it moves, two, move at a speed so it do not become separate from the swarm or bump into other members of the swarm. Just these two rules, along with a leader who initiate the movement could lead the swarm to highly sophisticated tasks, much like a swarm of ants. So the question often comes down to, who starts the movement. Unfortunately for Kien, it's often the culprit.

    Kien shifted his attention away from the crowd when he caught the sound of the announcer's voice. "Welcome lady and gentlemen, to Markl Linte's final production!"

    The announcer was tall, and chubby, wearing pants with straps, and hat with stripes. A red suits fit tightly around his bulging belly, and his chest heaved up and down as he spoke.

    "Tonight, you'll witness the power of the strongest magician in all of Amn, who've travelled the world with the human gypsies and learned the power to see the future, and raised by the dragons across all corner of the world and broke the limit of magic. His existence is legendary, his fame expand faster than a ray of light. Today is a day to be remembered, if he did not already blow your mind away. Now I present to you, Mr. Linte!"

    People clapped, but Kien did not, it seemed all too ridiculous. Even more so when Markl linte walked out in his purple suit. What did came as a surprise was his facial expression, which was emotionless, very unlike when Kien met him during his preparation. A façade of the magician.

    "Magic," Mr. Linte spoke as he took out a pipe from his pocket and stuffed in some tobacco leaves, "Is no longer an object of fascination, but of logic. And many of us believe that the mystique of it all can be broken down into facts. For now, there is an explanation for magic. Since this time, magic had became a subject of study rather than wonder. But I refused to let it be. And through my lifetime of magic, I have searched for a way to break the barrier of logic. One fateful day, I did. And this is a glimpse of just that."

    Markl suddenly took a strong breath. The tobacco in the pipe came to light and smoke sifted into his mouth. Then, after holding it for a second or so, he blew out a cloud. Then the sound of rumbling, and the ground shook as the smoke took the shape of horses and came galloping out. They raged along the stage, until finally, a man opened the flap at the entrance of the tent, and the rumbling horses stormed down the pathway between the seats and out into the prairies.

    Markl Lint did not wait for the crowd to respond. The ground begin rumbling, and slowly, steps begin to rise in an orderly fashion, spiraling around to the top of the tent. Markl still blowing on this pipe, took his time climbing up. As he did so, his speech continued, “There are heroes who rise with time, sages who grow only stronger through old age, and the wise whose knowledge never extinct through generations to come. The citizens will regard them with awe, and their names carved in plates of gold, and face recreated in marble. However, I am not one of them, and will not be. For there will not be awe, but fear. They will wish to forget, not remember.”

    Kien shook his head in disbelief, and looked to Kalea, his mouth forming the sentence, “What?”

    Kalea simply pressed her indexed finger on her lips to signal silence. Kien looked beside him to see if Dia was also engrossed in this absurdity, only to found her in a trance. With no one to share his thoughts, Kien left a sigh and looked up to Markl, who almost made it to the end of the spiral staircase.

    “Many of you might have already heard of my power, and willingly accepts it. But some will doubt it. And what I love more than to challenge that doubt. I will shatter it, like these stairs, and you doubt will scatter like the sands, while you will be left with no choice but to gaze up at me in fear,” as he spoke his last words, he stamped his feet, and the stairs beneath him suddenly fell apart into fine grains of sand. A current of wind soon came into the stage, its source unidentifiable, and in a blinding moment of turbulence, the sand wanders around the vicinity of the tent until it found its way to the flap of cloth guarding the door. Just as the horses were, they too disappeared outside. However, even without the stairs, Markl Linte stood amid the air, his eyes appears dull under the shadow of his hat. He looked down at the crowd, who gazed up to him like a messiah. A small smiled curled the end of Markl’s lip, as he continue to bath in the attention.

    Silence remained in the tent for several seconds as the audience, much like Kien, tried to figure out in their head just what happened. “What element does he know?” Kien asked himself, “Wind? And Earth?” It seemed logical. If so, then Markl Linte is certainly not someone to be looked down upon, it is often difficult even to master one art in Amn, needless to say two.

    “You must be thinking, ‘He knows the art of earth and wind’, but I must tell you, that is naïve,” Markl begin walking, each step he took in midair was responded with a gasp of the crowd. “How many years of magic do you think the elves went though? It’s naïve to think that we could only control two.” He snapped his finger, and out from his sleeve came out a lighter, to which he flipped open, showing the crowd a tiny leaf of flame. “Let’s me blow away that limitation today.”

    A flick of the wrist was all Markl Linte needs to send the lighter hurtling off to a distance. The audience watched it intently, their hand clasping on their seat to stop them from jumping up in excitement. “The result will be monstrous.”

    As if on cue, Kien saw the lighter burst into a cloud of red and glows stronger into white, and in that intense heat, two wings sprouted out. From where the lighter was thrown, outbursts a dragon of flames. His four wings flapped in dissonance as it tumbled in the air from one place to another. Kien heard the cheer of the crowd, but held his own to preserve that small bit of what he believed was “maturity”.

    Markl Linte did not laugh, not even a smile which he had shown before. He scanned the crowd, until his eyes met those of Kien Cephalon. That’s when he spoke through the chatters of the crowd, and seemingly to be directly at Kien, “I forgot to mention one small detail.”

    Then there was the sound of water. Kien finally left out a small, “How?” As water came gushing out from thin air, and Markl Linte, with a motion of his hand took control of the water and the eyes of the onlookers below. Kien watched, in a disbelief of another kind, as the water formed the shape of a giant hand and reached out to take hold of the flaming beast, smothering its existence. Markl Linte slowly drifted down from above, one hand holding the pipe, the other behind his back; all the while his eyes never left Kien’s. As the water resided, his voice started again, slow and certain, “I know them all.”

    The crowd stared him in silence, Markl Linte became their world.

    “My magic will always be a mystery. Never a study, always a wonder,” with a twirl of his hand, his pipe puffed away into thin air. “My name will not be carved into plates or gold, or my adventures be recaptured into statues of marble. Because my life cannot be recreated, and my name never forgotten as much as one would like to,” He clapped his hands twice, and instantly, a pair of gloves covered his hands.

    A long pause followed as Markl took his time to pull in the suspense of the crowd. “Because I am a magician of the other kind.”

    Now came the smile that Kien expected, spreading across Markl’s face. “Let the show begin!”

    The crowd’s voice resumed into chaos.


    -----------------
    The Walking Dead

    Markl did not perform throughout the entire show, as several others performers had come on stage, demonstrating their skills, be it in magic, storytelling, comedy, gymnastic, or physical abilities. However, none garnered as much applause as Markl. The crowd was slightly anxious, waiting for Markl to make another entrance, but as the show went on, their hope slowly dwindled.

    It may be that Markl would have never appeared on stage again, if it wasn't for the work of one mischievous youngster. The specific reason for his act was unclear, whether it was personal boredom, or a dare from friends, but no doubt, the act was done with malicious intent.

    It was during a display of ice dancing, when suddenly, a young elf magician thought it fit to suddenly crack the ice in front of a performer, causing the dancer to tumble and a snap was heard through the tent. The culprit and several of his friends snickered at their deed, as several magician rushed over to check the injuries. The crowd became silence as many stared towards the unfortunate development to this otherwise spectacular show.

    Kien looked towards the direction of the prankster, only to see a familiar face. Oliver Bil, the son of Monark's Minister of Affair. No one ever give the young lad a lesson of discipline, and his father, being in a status higher than most never blamed his son either to save face. The result is a hoodlum who had the social skill of a troll. Kien had several encountere with the boy, and on one occasion, made an unfortunate arrest of the kid. That event resulted in several loud shouts from the Minister, and Kien been hauled by the collar for an apology. It guaranteed Kien's life career as a lowly inspector, and the result of his 50 years of mediocrity.

    Of course, Markl Linte never knew any of this, or maybe he knew and never cared. The crowd watched as Markl walked out, his grim face clearly directed at Oliver. The tent was silent, as everyone waited for what will happen next. "Are you the gentleman who had injured my performers?" it wasn't a question, it was a threat for what was to come.

    Oliver knew there was trouble, he held a slight look of unease, but he wasn't about to just admit defeat. After all, what can an entertainer do to an aristocrat's son? "Yeah, what about it?" He held a haughty look, and crossed his arm. His head tilted high, and lips held in a smile that slanted to his right. It looked to Kien as if the youngster was proud of the commotion he had caused.

    Markl Linte took the gloves off his hand, then held them together to crack his knuckles. Oliver seeing this shifted his feet slightly, "What are you going to do? If you hurt me, your life in this city will just become harder."

    Markl give a short "hmph" at Oliver's threat, and continued to walk forward, his index finger pointing at the young lad's chest. "You use magic for such childish acts, and refuse to apologize. I will make sure you'll never be able to practice magic again and banish it right here. Exvanire."

    A blue sparrow shot out of Markl's finger tip, and struck Oliver solidly on the chest before he could retaliate. Oliver stumbled back in shock, then with a shaking hand he extended his own hand toward Markl and muttered a chant.

    Nothing happened.

    Oliver attempted once more, this time, his face clearly shaken from distress.

    Again, nothing happened.

    The crowd chattered at the new development, as they watched Oliver trying several more times to summon his magic to no avail.

    “So…” The voice of Markl rang through the stadium, this time, heavy and grave. The show was about to come to an end, the audience senses it too. The eyes of the spectators been dazzled for hours, and their mind free of logic. However, now, the situation has brought everyone to reality. "Now what will you do? Perhaps you should abandon magic and become a scholar instead. Maybe reading books will teach you about morality. Enjoyment should not come at the cost of another's misery. I advise you to step out of the tent, you've embarrassed yourself enough don't you think?"

    "You think you will get away with this?" Oliver sneered to Markl, even without magic, the boy's still a hard mouth.

    "No, but I'm certainly not going to let you get away with it, now," Markl snapped once more, and the sound of water came again, "I will only give you till the count of ten. Ten…"

    A count of three would of do, as Oliver, hearing the entrance of water, quickly scattered out of the tent with a discontent mutter. His friends followed, rowdy as they left. Markl waited until the flap of the tent stopped moving before giving another snap, and the sound of water soon seized. He looked back to see the dancer being attended by several of healers, and after going over to assure that things are alright, he turned to the audience.

    "You have witnessed a great assortment of magic at play, and I now am regret to inform you that this will be my last act of my career. Despite wanting to leave you with a bang like many other entertainers, I deeply apologize for this unsightly act that you have witnessed today," he paced around the stage, his hand behind his back, "So as a reimbursement, I will give you another demonstration. I must warn you, what you will see was said to be forbidden by many books of old, and I advise you to make no foolish attempt to recreate it. This is not magic, this is the art of death himself. Now I will need an volunteer of outmost bravery."

    Several hand was raised, and to Kien's dismay, Kien noticed one of them was Dia's. To Kien's relief, another lady was called. "Young lady in the second row, could you perhaps accompany me in this final act?"

    The woman pointed to herself for confirmation, to which Markl nodded. The young lady walked carefully between the seats and made her way down the middle corridor. Smiling briefly from side t side to those who wished her good luck. It was as if she was heading into an examination rather than as a magician’s volunteer. She stood in front of Markl, her face beaming, as she did several bows to the crowd. "Now if you please take a seat on this chair,” Markl grabbed the woman’s attention as a chair sled out behind the curtains and came to a rest in front of his feet. “It will be alright I promise."

    Kien stared on, unblinking, waiting to catch any sign that might give the magic away.

    "Now, this fair lady, what is your name?" Markl asked, taking the woman by the hand and facing the audience.

    "Patricia River."

    "Ms. River, let me ask you. How scared are you of death?"

    Patricia pondered for a brief while, then replied, "Not particularly frightened."

    "That's good. Then is it alright if I ask you kindly to take a visit to the Nether?"

    "The Nether?" Patricia asked in confusion, and so did Kien to himself, “What do you mean?”

    “Now this might sound bizarre but for a brief moment, I’m going to kill you.”

    Patricia give a nervous little laugh, not sure how to respond to such a comment, "I don't think I understand."

    "There is no need to. All you need is to relax, and I promise you that no harm will come to you."

    "But you just said you were going to kill me," she laughed a bit, still uneasy with what was happening, the crowd laughed with her.

    "There will be no pain I promise. And under the eyes of the good people of Monark, I promise you, your life is safe with me, now I just need to focus on me," Markl comforted the woman as he knelt down to her eye level. "Now don't be afraid."

    Patricia nodded and followed Markl's instruction, staring back into his eyes, and trying to calm her heart beat.

    “Good Ms. River. Have a nice trip," Markl breathed out, then took a deep breath. A blue smoke seemed to rise out of Patricia's body and into Markl's mouth. The audience watched in silence, following the smoke trail, dared not to miss any detail. When all the smoke was gone, Markl stepped back from the chair, Patricia fell to the floor from it.

    The crowd’s eyes was on Markl, waiting for him to make the next move, but it didn’t come. Instead, Markl quickly stepped forward without attending to the woman on the floor. Kien looked towards Kalea for a clue as to what was happening, however, all he saw was a perplexed look on her face. “Now, ladies and gentlemen, I need some verification. As a proof that my act was not a trick, I’ll need several capable hands who knows how to check for vitals. Now there is no limit as to who could come up and check, but I do advise you be respectful to the lady. So anyone?”

    The crowd shifted, and for a moment, there was several conversations, and slowly, people start coming up to the stage to get a closer look at the situation. Kien was going to just sit and watch the events unfold, but felt a nudge on his side as Kalea edged him to go up. After several unyielding annoyance, Kien give in and walked up the stage. He pushed through several members of the audience standing up there, and waited for his turn before walking closer to the woman. Markl was keeping a close watch beside the woman to make sure that his request was followed. However, Kien still had a feeling that this was certainly not what the woman signed up for. Now that Kien’s also beside the woman, he knelt down. Without so much as a hesitation, Kien moved his finger beneath the woman’s nose, and waited for any sign of warm air to come out. As he expected, there was none. It was strange for him to expect such a thing, but it could only be logical. A magician would be too foolish if his art can be seen through simply by a professional. Kien didn’t ponder too much on this as he moved to check for the other vitals. He lowered her head to the level of her chest, and could not detect any movement. He moved his finger to the carotid artery by the neck, waiting for the pulse to come, it did not come.

    It could be some kind of drug, there was drugs that could achieve this effect. Kien looked toward Markl, who stared right back, there seemed to be nothing to hide behind those eyes. Could he really have sent the woman to the Nether? The thought crept up to Kien, and he looked down to examine the body in more detail.

    To his fear, he noticed the distal limbs of the woman begin to turn blue as the body consumed the last bits of oxygen. It was a well known fact that without oxygen, the body will decay, and the first to go is the distal muscles, then the brain. If the time were to go beyond give minutes, it can be certain that the individual would already suffer brain damage from the lack of nutrition. Kien did a quick estimate of time, and realized that the total amount of time elapsed after the woman passed and already gone way beyond it. Even if it is simply a drug, if she could not take in air through other means, then several more minutes, she might as well be dead.

    “You need to wake her up,” Kien looked to Markl, but saw the magician had no interest in his suggestion.

    “Not yet.”

    “She’s going to suffer if this keeps up.”

    “No she would not, I promised her so.”

    Agitated, Kien stood up, “She’s going cold, she needs to get back. Even now, if you bring her back, she’ll go into shock because of the low temperature, so if you push it any longer – ”

    “Thank you for your concern, but there was never a casualty in my show, and I am not about to have one in my last performance. So if you please, take your leave, there are people waiting to confirm her condition.” Markl replied in such an emotionless voice that seemed to reflect nothing of what he was like when Kien first met him. This seemed like a beginning of a tragedy.

    “I don’t believe this,” Kien shook his head, “I can call in an arrest and put this show under lockdown.”

    By now, the argument was heard by several others on the stage, who’ve moved their attention from the woman to the two.

    “I recommend you not to inspector,” Markl did not budge from the threat, “rather, I strongly advise not to, for there will be consequences for your actions. And believe you me, I do hate the consequences.”

    “You can’t stop me,” Kien began walking off the stage, paying no attention to the spectators who focused their gaze on him.

    “Do you think there will be enough time inspector? If you were to go and call for aid, then I think it might really be too late for Ms. River. How about this, let’s play a game. In ten minutes, you can do whatever you wish to diagnose the cause of Ms. River’s death, and I will not interfere. In fact, I am willing to aid you with whatever request you want regarding materials and equipment. If in ten minutes you can make the diagnose and could link the death to me then I will revive her and be gladly handed to your comfortable jail cell. But if you can’t, you will make no comments regarding my magic.”

    “What kind of deal is that?” Kien responded angrily as he turned back to face Markl, “This is never about whether or not your reputation will be ruined. This is about a person’s life. And from what you just said, you are hope that she’ll not be diagnosed.”

    “Surely you jest. I simply wish that the death has no connection to me. Like they say inspector, time is ticking.”

    Kien took one look toward Monark, Markl was right, it will take a long while if Kien was to rush to the city to call for help. Thinking it over, Kien stepped onto the stage. He needs to know what the woman was affected with, if he knew that much, then there is a chance. He took one look at Kalea and at Monark again, maybe if…

    “I advise you not to send anyone to Monark,” Markl guessed his intentions, “If you do so, the deal is off, and you’ll be left alone dealing with the situation. Trust me Kien, you have seen my ability, there is no need to doubt. I will revive her whether you succeed or fail, only if you keep your side of the deal.”

    Kien breathed out slowly, and took a look at the woman on the ground. Her skin is pale white, and as his hand hovered over her body, the warmth of her body is already fading. He needs to react fast, he can’t just sit and wander around like he does at a crime scene. As Kien went about his business, Markl took care of the people on the stage, and invited them back to their seats. There was some groans of complaints, but with a bit of persuasion, Kien was left alone on the stage with Ms. River and Markl.

    Blood, that’s the first place to look for any trace of drug. Maybe Markl made her ingest a pill. Kien hoped it was a pill, because if it was a gas, then the trace would be lost. The chemical would of made its way straight into the brain, and Kien did not have any intention to open the poor soul’s brain in the eyes of so many onlookers.

    “I need a vial,” Kien looked to Markl, “And Grandifolia, Ulmaria, Vulgare, Viticis, Excelsior. Better dry than fresh."

    "Natural detector of poisoning? I see, will do, but it will not help," Markl's hand moved in a flash seemingly pulled out a vial, as well as the requested herb.

    Kien took it without a word, then look down once more before realizing he had forgotten the most important tool, "I need a knife, a small one. Sterile."

    "Why of course," just as simply, Markl produced the tool in his knife and handed it to Kien.

    Kien took Ms. River's hand, and made s small cut on the figure to squeeze two or three drop of blood into the vial. He might be careful, if Ms. River is indeed still alive, he can't make his surgical cuts as freely as he normally would a dead man.

    He took each herb and grinded it into fine powder. Then one by one, he poured it slowly into the tube, his eyes paying close attention to any chance that might occur to the blood upon the addition. As he emptied his hands of the last bit, he let out a sigh. It was no use. Markl was right, there was no poison in the blood. Could it really be a gas? There would be no way to tell unless he… He shook the thought away. Not yet, he had to check the alternative. A physical injury, maybe Markl manage to strike a pressure point and cut off the circulation. Bruises, discoloration, had to be something.

    Kien felt around the five phase of meridians, checking for discoloration wherever appropriate. However, that give no results, and he was left again to a dead end. Now what? He asked himself. It could be bones, but a quick physical inspection give him a negative. Of course not, the woman would of at least give some kind of response of she was damaged anywhere in her vitals. Even if it was swift, it would not be such a peaceful drop. What if it is really a gas that directly attack the nerve? Just a sniff, enough to knock her out. What kind of gas would that be to achieve such a fast response? Unless it was employed way before she came on…but wouldn't she notice? Something doesn't make sense. He needs to…He took off his glove, he's going to go in. "Tania," he called out.

    "Ready," came he reply.

    He gentled placed his fingers upon the woman’s forehead and closed his eyes. He wandered without a true aim, through blurred clips of memory. All he need is to locate her memories of the last few moments. If he could do that, he would be able to figure out the trick to Markl’s magic. Suddenly, he heard a voice, “What is your aim here stranger?”

    It was a familiar voice, but harsher than when he last heard it. From his experience, Kien immediately identified it as Ms. River, or rather her animus. It is her inner self in the form of a young man, whose lip carried an arrogant smirk as he gazed at Kien and his fairy, Tania. He still possessed the same almond eyes, and straight nose as Ms. River, as well as her stature. However, his shoulder was slacked and chest held out in a pose that leaks of egoism. “His presence is a good sign, as it indicates that she is still alive, at least for now,” Tania walked beside him, as she analyzed the current situation.

    “I know,” Kien replied. Whatever Markl did, it definitely did not send Ms. River to the Nether. In other words, it’s a trick. However, he doesn’t have long to ponder the possibilities. Since, Ms. River is here, or rather her animus, he should ask directly. It is definitely not the first time he has travelled into a living person’s mind, so it did not take long before Kien adjusted to the situation and begin to converse with the animus.

    “I am regretful in informing you that currently, you are in danger, and you need help. But fortunately, I am here with my partner Tania to provide it. So may I ask you to cooperate with us for a moment as we ask you some questions?” Kien put it out directly; there is no time for sugar coating.

    “I am regretful in informing you, that I don’t need any help,” the animus scoffed, and looked away from the two in dismissal.

    A difficult one, not the first time he’d encountered these kinds, but he is surprised that this is really Ms. River’s animus, just shows that you can’t judge a book by its cover. “I think you misunderstood. My question was simply asked out of politeness’ sake, if you do not choose to cooperate, I will send you away and search myself. I am regretful in informing you that this is my domain, and I’m a tyrant. So in the next three seconds, decide.”

    “Must you be so intrusive?”

    “Three.”

    “Alright, I understand,” the animus agreed to Kien’s request, his hands up telling Kien to stop counting. He did not look pleased, as he twisted his mouth to one side and muttered something that Kieen could not hear but could guess, “Ask away, I’ll answer you to the best of my ability. Please don’t stretch it to beyond ten or so years, for I am not so certain about the accuracy to which I recorded them.”

    “That wouldn’t be a problem, all I need is the most recent events that has occurred.”

    “Should I recount them for you?”

    “No, I don’t trust you, go find the record and I’ll read it personally," this is more of a habit of Kien than neccessity, animus or anima cannot lie as they represent a person's true self. However, Kien always preferred to have something solid in his hand to consider it a proper trade. "In return, you can have this.” Tania revealed a leather briefcase that was hiding behind her, and slides it across the white floor toward the animus, “You can replace what you take out with that, and you’ll never have to see me ever again.”

    The arrogant young man took the brief case and walked toward his left. As he walks, a pedestal slowly raises from the floor. The wooden pedestal held only a single roll of parchment, to which the animus took and just as he was ordered, he put the briefcase in its place. The pedestal sank back to the floor as the animus walked away from it, leaving no trace of its existence amid the white plane. “Is this all you need?” He threw the parchment to Kien.

    Kien handed it to Tania who slides it open, as she examined the content. Moment later, she looked up, and shook her head, her eyebrow curved with worry, “This isn’t going to work.”

    Kien was slightly taken aback, as Tania’s expression reflected onto his, “What do you mean?”

    “There’s nothing here.”

    “Let me see,” Kien took hold of the patchment himself, and looked into it. Although Tania did exaggerate slightly, the situation was still far from ideal. The last few moments of Ms. River consisted nothing out of the ordinary. Kien summed up his focus and synched into her memory, but found himself remembering nothing except staring into the audience as he sat comfortable on the chair. Markl paced around left to right, and Kien followed his movement slightly with his eyes, taking notice of his gloved hand that was placed leisurely behind his back. Trying with all his might using his newly traded information, Kien could not remember any physical contact, or the smell of a gas, or anything! Markl did not even attempt to move closer. As the smoke rise out of his body, Kien couldn’t remember feeling tired, or dizzy. Then with no indication except Markl’s spoken words, Kien found himself tumbling to the ground. It was much too peaceful, like drifting to sleep. If this was truly the process of dying, then no creature would ever fear it.

    Kien pulled himself out and looked to the animus. The young man shrugged at him, face oblivious of the situation.

    Kien stood silently, his eyes fixed to the ground as his mind moved to try and fit the pieces together. It was chaotic inside Kien's head as he struggle to find out a reason, then something seemed to click. He is quite certain of it now, Ms. River did not die, but why he can't detect any pulse, and why her skin feels cold, he does not know. Kien feels slightly better that he had an idea now, despite the disappointing trade. However, he'll need at least one more bargain, "Animus, there's one more thing I need."

    "What is it?" The young man asked, agitated that the stranger had not left yet.

    "I do not need a complete set this time, I just need you to answer this question. Did Ms. River ever…"

    "Time's up," the voice travelled to Kien's year who focused his gaze on the animus. It wasn't the animus. It was from the outside.

    Kien isn't finished yet, he's not about to give in when he's already here. What can Markl do? This is his domain. He was about to open his lip to press on the question when the room shook. Then flame burst through the ground, breaking the smooth white floor into pieces. "We have to go, something's interfering," Tania warned Kien who nodded in acknowledgement.

    A carriage broke through thin air behind the two intruders. The two steed leading it heavily, as their front hoof slam the ground in unease. Mr. Mortis opened the door and greeted the two with a bow, and with one hand he pulled Tania in and Kien stepped followed after. Kien took one last look at the animus waving at them tauntingly before closing the curtain of the window. "Aren't we always in the heat of the moment, hold onto your seat, this isn't the time to cool down just yet," Mr. Mortis snapped the reins as the horses pounced into life, and accelerated into thin air.

    "Time's up," Markl informed once more as Kien opened his eyes and stared back.

    Markl smiled back, a satisfaction is clear on his face, "So, have you figured out?"

    "No."

    "I see, well then…"

    The fire he saw before worried him. It seemed as if someone else other than him can also influence the mind. Could his entire trip be in the construct of another magician, rather than Ms. River herself?

    "But I do know one thing," Kien cut Markl off, he's going to bluff, nothing to lose now, "That it was a flawed deal you offered me. Because the woman's not dead in the first place."

    An amused look crept into Markl's face which Kien did not expect, "Are you certain of it?"

    No point in doubting now, "Yes, I am."

    "Let's say we leave the woman by herself, are you suggesting that she'll wake herself up without my help?"

    This is a question that Kien feared, because he is not certain of the real state Ms. River is in. How much can he trust his abilities? That it was in fact Ms. River's mind he communicated with. He struggled with the decision and as he did so, he glanced to the crowd and met the eyes of Dia. There was a strange smile on her lips that tilted slightly to the right. Kien knew that smile, now he's certain, even if he has no proof. "Yes, she will wake eventually," he give the reply with absolute confidence, "because she'll get hungry if she lies here all day."

    Some scattered laughter came from the crowd, and Markl too, chucked slightly.

    The two stared at each other, no doubt, wild thoughts running through their heads. At this moment, Markl spoke in a voice so soft, that it became a whisper once it reached Kien. "Just as Kalea expected."

    The magician turned to the crowd, "Lady and gentlemen, you have heard this gentleman's opinion, and whether you believe him or I is a matter limited to your own reasoning. However, for now, the show must end, and I too believe I should wake Ms. River, or my caretakers might trip on her body," He paused as he let the crowd to settle down their laughter, "So, on the count of two, by the clapping of my hands, please come back and join us."

    Markl made two crisp claps and breathed out at the end. A wisp of smoke shot out through his mouth and sinks into the scalp of the woman. A gasp was soon heard afterwards and Ms. River sat straight up, eyes wide, "What just happened?"

    The audience guffawed at her confusion.

    "Nothing miss, I was just trying to tell you a story, but it must have been boring because you dropped to sleep right after the first sentence."

    Ms. River stood up, still confused, but she manage make a reply, "Oh no, it must be me. I'm sure the story was wonderful. I am just awfully tired today. I something funny?" Ms. River asked as she noticed the reaction of the audience.

    "No, nothing much. I was telling them that the show was about to start. It seems the audience enjoys your performance much more however. You are talented individual miss, and set the bar for the show quite high. I do love my performers, and do not wish for them to be pressured so much by your show, so if you please, may you return to the audience with this gentleman."

    Ms. River was unsure whether to take it as a complement or not, and simply nodded, as she walked back down the stage. Once she went out of ear shot, Markl Linte turned to speak with Kien directly once more, "I hope to see you in the after party Mr. Cephalon, there are many questions that I would like to ask."

    Kien did not give an answer to Markl’s invitations, but as he walked down the stairs he couldn’t help but to think that it will be an interesting party indeed.

    -------------------------------------------------
    An Evening Unsettled

    Kien have a strong dislike to formal wears, partly due to the amount of restriction the cloth offered, partly due to just how ridiculous it looked to him. It was all work no gain in the eyes of Kien, and with that mindset, he convinced himself to not to shave either. Therefore, having been forced to do both on the same day, Kien feels slightly estranged and somewhat humiliated.

    “It’s not as bad as you think,” Kalea tried to break Kien out of his foul mood, “So get rid of that furrowed eyebrow. You are going to a party not a trial.”

    “Might as well be, to be stared at by judgmental eyes about my appearance. In fact, trials will be easier to deal with, you only really need to watch out for that one rotten egg,” Kien adjusted his collar, pulling it away from his neck to allow his skin to breath. This did not escape Kalea’s gaze, as she quickly redid it, tighter than before.

    “Grow up for a change,” Kalea told him as she did the readjustment, “Be like Dia and behave yourself.”

    Kien stared to his side and saw Dia looking back with interested eyes. She wore a laced white dress, trimmed at the collar with a touch of blue. She was not at all displeased at the change, she seemed to fit right in. Then again, Dia’s wardrobe was never far from what she was wearing now. Dia was not very picky with what to wear, and always looked natural with whatever attire she put on. Some days, if she’s ever in a playful mood, she would wear Kien’s rags. With Kien’s amateur fashion sense, the cloth seems to fit her better than it had fit him.

    Both her dress and Kien’s suit was a “gift” from Kalea, but Kien now knows that Kalea plans to take them to the party from the get go. Kien wasn't the least bit grateful, especially now that he's sitting in a carriage which moved along the bumpy road and offered no comfort in doing so. He pulled the curtain away to look outside and spotted the night sky, whose star outshiend by the lights of the street. A bit further down was their destination, Convocation Hall. Normally, it was used for young mage who had graduated from their study of magic, but beside those special occasions, the place was rented out to whoever could afford it. It seems, Markl Linte could afford it.

    Now that he was close to his destination, the discomfort elevated. Kien continued to fidget with his cloth, as he tried to find a comfortable way to fit in. The fabric seemed rough to him as it grinded against his wrist and back, creating an irresistible itch. As he reached over to the sleeve with the mindset to roll it up, his hand came upon a small piece of fabric, stitched into the seams like a tag. He flip the sleeve over and took a look, "Alvis".

    "Alvis?" Kien repeated the word questioningly.

    "The name of the store where this was fashioned."

    "When did this become a trend? To put your store name on your product?"

    "Come back to civilization Kien," Kalea simply smiled in reply, "Now don't embarrass yourself once you are in there."

    The carriage came to a stop and the coachman opened the door, arms open to show them the way to the entrance. Kalea stepped off first, and helped Kien to ease Dia down on the ground before coming up by Kien's side, taking a hold of his left arm. Tania who was sitting on his left shoulder, fluttered up and took a new seat on the handle of Dia's wheelchair.

    The group walked up the red carpet, overlaid on marble stairs. The red matched Kalea's dress, which Kien just took notice right now. The carriage give too little light for him to see the details, but outside, her red dress absorbed the light of the street and Kien's attention. Her dress was in no way grand, composed of only two layers, red and white. The outer read curved around Kalea's body with easy, and draped naturally down the white underneath. Several white embroideries decorated the side of the dress and along the edge, that helped to make the red more easy on the eyes. It was a dress that reflected Kalea's love of freedom, unlike the giant mass that Kien often seen nobles wear.

    The doorkeeper greeted the them with a smile before opening glass door and announcing their entrance. "Countess Erae accompanied by siblings Mr. and Ms. Cephalon."

    "Countess, impressive," Kien commented without looking to Kalea, smiling slightly.

    Kalea nudged him on the side, "Oh, shut it."

    It wasn't long before several group of people had gathered around them, of course, their attention was to Kalea.

    "I didn't know you were in the city dear, if I had, I would made sure to invite you over for a chat," a woman with an overly fancy hat grabbed hold onto one of Kalea's hand, squeezing it tightly between her palm.

    "That's alright Mrs. Van der al. I only dropped by recently to attend to some business. I apologize for not being able to contact you before hand."

    "Oh no, darling, it's alright," the woman's hand remained on Kalea's, trapping her on the spot.

    "How was your husband," this time an elderly man asked, whose belly made the entrance into the scene before the face, "Is he well?"

    "Yes, thank you for the concern. He's just busy recently, with matters of adjusting the system of early study of magic. And I am here helping him with some of his contacts," Kalea conversed naturally with the man. "But I am not used to the busy schedule I'm afraid. As you can see, I am here now attending Mr. Linte's retirement party." She added, before the man could ask.

    "What is his plans?" A new man entered the scene, his figure was sturdy, and a handlebar mustache rested firmly above his thick lips.

    "Nothing much I'm afraid," Kalea give a dry laugh, and continued, "Simple cleanup I would think. I don't know much more than that. I'm sorry."

    Kien never found Kalea having to apologize so frequently in such a short time. A strange tradition the aristocrats have when in a conversation, almost like a play, acted out through improvising.

    "Please after, come and have a chat with me and the ladies, you do know how bored I am all the time, and I'm sure Mrs. Hensen, and Mrs. Meinke will like it very much too. It's being such a long time since we played cards," the woman intruded her way into the conversation again.

    "Maybe if I manage to find the time afterwards. I'll be sure to send a message to your household if the opportunity to arise," Kalea pushed the request away, now slightly uncomfortable with the situation. Kien and Dia felt isolated from the environment, and just as Kien predicted, this is much more worse than trial.

    "I have an idea for a reform of the system, would you perhaps drop by as I explain them to you. I think it would be more effective if you were to tell your husband about them, if you understand my situation," the sturdy man now pushed his way in.

    "That sound a delightful idea, I will see what I can do."

    Now the woman had edged several of her colleagues away, and stood square in front of Kalea, "Do you know this Markl fellow? Forgive me, but I hardly know the man. It seems he had sent out a invitation to most of the royals in the area to come to his party. It is strange don't you think."

    "I only know him through several encounters. I do not know the specifics, but from what I hear and my observation, he's a man that adores attention. So it is no surprise he would act as such. But please don't think of him as pompous, he's simply eccentric," Kalea backed away a bit, as she answered, pulling Kien back with her.

    “Eccentric he certainly is. I heard he had a bit of a ruffle with Minister Crowford’s son. Banished the boy’s magic is what I heard, is that true dear?” The woman pursued, oblivious to Kalea’s retreat.

    “It is possible, after all, he is a powerful magician.”

    “More powerful than Nilak?” A giant elf asked, his limbs thick as a tree trunk, and face more stern than iron.

    Kalea give a shrug, “I do not know, he is only an acquaintance.”

    “Well, whatever he did, he certainly took it hard. The poor boy’s now running somewhere in the city, and his father is just about to pull the remaining hair on his scalp,” The woman spoke with a puckered lip, and an inquisitive tone, that now Kien found unbearable.

    “Yeah, the poor soul,” This time Kien answered in Kalea’s place, which gained him several questioning stares.

    “Who is this man?” the woman directed the question to Kalea, clearly unsatisfied that someone has joined the conversation uninvited.

    “He is…” Kalea was about to speak, but Kien found the need to interrupt once more.

    “Her chauffeur,” Kien directed the answer to the woman, “I’m responsible in steering her free of troubles. Away from vultures, hyenas and what not.” For his second statement, Kien received a soft nudge to his side from Kalea. “They usually come in packs. Godforbid.” He added the third part for good measure anyway.

    “Just not too long ago, a group of them came, and we had such a hard time fending them off," Dia gladly joined in.

    "Absolute nightmare," Kien continued to add fuel to the fire.

    "Kien – " Kalea tried to interrupt, but the sibling continued.

    "Even after giving them several good wacks, they never seemed to back down. Persistent aren't they?"

    "Sure are. Even lost my ear to them," Kien pointed to the cavities on the side of his head.

    "That's enough," Kalea interrupted again, this time stern. Kien still had more to say, but know it isn't the time now.

    There was only silence after, as eyes became fixated on the trio. Especially Ms. Van der Al, whose eyes almost became circular, mouse hang slightly ajar. When she finally had put the effort in closing them, they opened again. "But what happened next?" She asked, a question that lack any malicious intent, only curiosity.

    "What?" was all Kien managed to say at the unexpected question.

    "How was the situation resolved? You left the story half explained," Ms. Van der Al was serious about this.

    "Well…" Kalea began to think of a resolution on the spot, but she was lost for words as well at the sudden request to continue the story.

    "Then I came in and aided their escape," a voice came through the crowd. As everyone turned, Markl Linte stood behind them, a smug on his face, and a glass in his hand. "That's how we came to know each other, isn't that right Countess Erae."

    "Quite right," Kalea nodded.

    "Now if you'll excuse me," Markl Linte waded through the crowd, "There are some private matter that I wish to discuss with Countess Erae and her chauffeur."

    "What kind of topic need to be discussed in private, especially at a party?" The sturdy was not about to let them free just yet.

    "A magician's secret," Markl Linte replied, "unless of course you could discuss some of your secret to the crowd, I'm afraid it has to be a private matter."

    The crowd didn't seem to budge, as they remained firm on their ground. However, this did not bother Markl in the least bit, who pushed through the crowd and out of the circle, "Countess, follow me please, we'll discuss the matter in the conference room above."

    "Sorry, pardon me." As Kalea took her first step, the crowd parted. "That you, we shall return to our interesting discussion at a later time, I promise." She nodded her temporary farewells and followed Markl up a series of side stairs to a second floor that encircled the first. Markl opened a room marked with "leisure", and called for the three to enter.

    The room was spacious, set up with red sofas on hand made carpet bought with the riches of unnamed investors. A fireplace burnt to one corner, giving a radiant of soft touches. Two pot plant rested in two of the corners, their green leaf charged with vitality. Resting directly center of the room was table crafted from fine hard wood. Several bowls of fruits and snacks were placed on top, untouched so far by the guests.

    "Did I interrupt your conversation?" Markl took a seat by the fireplace, and rotated it around so it faced the three guests, who took their seat across from him.

    "Hardly," Kalea grinned, "I was wondering when you would make your entrance."

    "A magician always comes on time."

    Kien look from Kalea to Markl, trying to guess the purpose of being alone in this room. He is grateful that Markl had helped with the earlier situation before, but there are still lingering distrust he held for the "wonder" mage. He only hoped that Kalea has more of a grasp of the situation than he does.

    Markl turned his attention quickly to Kien, and stroked his beard as he contemplated what to ask, after having decided on a correct question, be began, "How was your day?"

    "Fine," Kien doubted that's all Markl want to know.

    "I got to say, I never expected to meet the Kien Cephalon in Monark. When Countess Erae told me, I almost didn't believe it."

    "The?" Kien never though a definite article is needed to state his name.

    "You were something back then, walking out of Nayru like that."

    So he was referring to his abandonment in the old time, Kien thought. He hated thinking about that period of his life. It was a time of misery, for him, and for several others. "I think many people did."

    "Well, but you got out of death row, I'd say that's an achievement to be proud of."

    Kien didn't reply, his eyes gazing straight into Markl's, piercing as it ever was. Kien was never proud of getting out of Nayru alive, exactly the opposite. He looked to Dia, sitting quietly in her wheelchair, looking blankly into the pattern of the carpet. No doubt, thinking like he is. Dia sacrificed everything for him to be set out free, and afterwards, he couldn't do anything except running away with his tail tucked between his legs. He wasn't sure whether Markl knows this full well and is trying to provoke him or just plain oblivious. Either way, he's angry now, and he has a strong urge to make Markl aware of it, physically.

    "Can we move on to something else?" Kalea read the situation, and indicated for Markl, who nodded immediately in agreement.

    "I was interested in what you did today up on the stage," Markl started another topic, disregarded the last one as if it never existed.

    "You should keep your interest under control," Kien was still bitter, and his tone reflected it without sugar coating.

    "I'm sorry, if I offended you somehow from before. But please understand, I only want to express my admiration for your character."

    "You have an interesting way of going about it."

    Markl's mouth opened, then closed, trying to find the next best approach. Obviously, his initial one didn't work to his expectation. "I guess we started off on the wrong foot."

    Kien was about to speak, but this time Dia took the initiative and cut him off, "No you didn't. There are things no one would know. And it's only natural to have misunderstandings on initial meetings since we are still strangers in many ways. So don't feel that you've done something wrong. You have a kind character as shown by your willingness to apologize despite being unclear about the situation. So please, talk with leisure, and think nothing of it."

    Markl nodded, appreciative of Dia's words, then with a more casual tone he continued the conversation. "What you did upstage today was interesting. How did you manage it?"

    "How did you manage to wield all four elements?" Kien returned the question with another, his tone became defensive.

    "I see," Markl didn't seem to mind, "I guess I should posed the question another way. Even with your ability to steal another's memory, how did you obtain enough information to make a judgment?"

    Kien instantly became cautious when Markl stated his ability.

    Realizing that Kien was not able to reply as of yet, Markl continued, showing more cards up his sleeve, "I mean, at the ten minute mark, you were still in there, and I have to disrupt it myself, so I'm sure there are plenty of questions that remained unanswered in your puzzle. Yet you didn't seem to doubt you final answer, even when I asked you twice."

    "Dia told me," that was the only sentence Kien could construct while his mind went on a wild goose chase. Not only did Markl knew about it, Markl could interfere with it.

    Markl raised an eyebrow, "Ms. Cephalon told you?"

    "Yes."

    "How?"

    "She smiled."

    "That's it?"

    "Am I being interrogated?" The series of question Markl asked made Kien feverishly agitated.

    "No, was just wondering," the magician stopped with his questioning. He pushed himself up from the sofa and walked toward the table in the middle, and plucked away a piece of chocolate that disoriented the pattern on the plate. "I am envious of the trust you siblings have. To think I have lost to a simple smile. I am far from my studies as a magician."

    "You are already well into your art. Having efficiently maximized it to the best of your ability," Dia complimented the magician in return.

    Markl chuckled, then sat back down to the sofa, his face at much ease now, "It reminds me then. Your smile managed to convince Kien. Then it must mean, you knew my ability, does it not?"

    "You guessed right Mr. Linte," Dia's face easily reflected her good cheer.

    "When did you know?"

    "When you first blew on your pipe, I had the suspicion. But it was only when the boy Oliver showed up, did I became certain."

    Markl laughed out in joy, despite having his secrets revealed, "You certainly are the prodigy they say you are. Having able to discern it so easily. I do not doubt your power as a mage."

    "If only power in magic is all that mattered," A slight trace of melancholy crept into Dia's face as she stared down at her knees, "If that was the case, Nilak would of being the representatives of the elves. But to rule over the people in this time and age, power of politics is greater. And Kinos is certainly a master of that. You, Mr. Linte, has the potential for both, and is up to you choice to decide which."

    "Then it's a simple choice. I was never a lover of politics, too devious a partner. Only heartbreak and quarrel with that one."

    However, despite his words, Markl looked as if he went into a phase of contemplation. Once he realized that the conversation has died, he quickly snapped back out, "Now then, we played enough hide n' seek with those nobles. How about we drop in on the party before people start reporting to the guards about missing elves?"

    As the group got up from their respective positions, the door suddenly opened. Behind it, stood a jaguar faced woman. Kien immediately recognized her as the one inside the tent during his first visit with Markl. He remembered her fierce feature from before, but now there seemed to be also features of distress.

    "I'm afraid you are a bit too late for that," She spoke to them, trying to break a nervous smile.

    However, almost right after, several uniformed man and woman stepped into the room, their hands on their weapons, and their attention at full alert. Kien recognized with one glance who they were, law enforcers.

    A tall expressionless female pushed herself through the crowd, eyes lacking in sympathy, her rank displayed in cold metal badges pinned on her right shoulder. She took one glance through the crowd then fixed her gaze to Markl Linte, then with a solid voice announced, "This is the Justice Bureau of Monark. Markl Linte, you have been suspected of murder."
    Last edited by Moratorium; 06-27-2011 at 09:14 PM.


    Because Calculus is magical, the constant Euler constant appears when we solve this differential equation. -James Thomson, Biology Professor

  7. #47
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    Talking 8 EXP - Elrik talks too much! >:O

    Flashes of lightning vibrated within the colosseum, creating fireworks from a lethal spell. Without a chance to utter their final words and barely a death scream, the bandits were struck down. The conductor of the ghastly, horrific sight was no other than Falteer. He whipped the bodies of bandits, shredding some and electrocuting others, leaving not an ounce of mercy. The sight was almost too much to behold for Vita, especially when death for entertainment held no meaning to her. Why murder the Tainted for all to see when such troubling deeds could be done immediately and out of sight? Yet when her eyes fell upon Nilak, the leader of the hunt, he spoke and acted with the necessity for survival. Suddenly, the battle against the Tainted was no longer a display of vigor and power, but a fight leading to life or death. While the bandits were of little threat, the Cyclops practically reeked of death. The colosseum would have been the final resting place for both the Tainted and the onlookers had it not been for Balthazar distracting the giant, but how long could one man hold out? Not liking the odds against survival, Vita glanced over at Elrik, only to find him still completely unfazed.

    "You are either an augur with confidence in your foresight or apathetic to what you see before you."

    "Are you worried about the audience?" Elrik chuckled for a moment before nonchalantly gesturing to the stands. "Even status can snap the entranced back to reality."

    Vita followed where Elrik's right hand motioned towards, curious of the individual he indicated. At first, all she could see was grumpy and slightly agitated elves marching halfheartedly, yet unyieldingly towards the exit. Then, as if his stance commanded all eyes to focus upon him, a young elf loomed into sight. His intense, dim gray eyes were darkened further by his furrowed brows, giving him a chilling demeanor. It didn't help that his black hair held no luster that comes from daylight, the night sky drenching him with shadows. Perhaps that was why he merely had to raise his voice for the audience to know the show was over? But that couldn't be the only reason. Elrik mentioned status, and status can be proven either by showing evidence or by declaring your position. The young elf most likely gave a speech to the spectators, one of which weighed threats over watching the tremendous trio.

    "His name is Andrim Dreizer, supposedly from the Council of Order. Well, I don't doubt that is true, but he has two sides, kind of like you."

    Vita was about to inquire as to how Elrik knew so much about Andrim, but she redirected her questions to the latter part of his comment. "Are you comparing Andrim Dreizer and myself to that of a hypocrite, or that our overall goal allows us to move without one-sided motivations?"

    "Hm..." A mischievous smirk, proof that Vita would have to figure it out on her own. "I know for a fact that you are seeking the Voco e Vorago, but you can't bring to light mysteries around you when there are still mysteries about yourself."

    "If you do not wish to answer--"

    "It's simple! Moon elves are born with developed minds, but our hearts take the longest to develop." Elrik patted his hand upon the upper left portion of his chest, where his heart resides. The grin that lit up his face reminded Vita a lot of Oren. "I can tell that you care deeply for those around you. However, you can't use logic to understand your heart. Feelings come from the mind, yes, but your heart is the gateway to your soul. Logically speaking, that wouldn't make any sense. Therefore, when it comes to the people important to you, act only on instinct. You'll have less heartache that way."

    Just like Oren, Elrik didn't wait for a reply. The way he could speak so whole-heartedly and then engulf himself with the final blows against the Cyclops was...well, interesting, to say the least. In a way, Elrik could be self-centered, ranting only to hear his ideas out-loud. Or he could have a short attention span, which would explain how he notices every little detail around him. Even so, he wasn't battling with himself like she was when it came to interactions. And he had a point. Everytime Vita's heart dared to grow wider and closer to someone -- even to someone as dear as Oren -- her mind would recall the contract she made with Margni. And then Vita would foolishly distance herself, keeping her heart aloof and her true feelings trapped behind her "logic."

    The frantic commentary of the announcer brought Vita's attention back on the fight. Chunks of frozen fragments that once combined into an impenetrable armor now left vulnerable spots on the weakened Cyclops. Apparently, Nilak had devised a strategy to make splinters out of the Cyclop's main defense, only for the Cyclops to recompensate its loss by thrashing Nilak into a wall. Balthazar then took the lead, distracting the infuriated behemoth long enough for Nilak to chop off its thumb. Hoping for a big finish, Balthazar strengthened his arms with his stone magic and, after some effort, swung the Cyclop's own weapon right into its chest. At the same time, Nilak thrusted his spear into the Cyclops's skull, and the...announcer went crazy. Vita joined Elrik in a round of clapping, but they couldn't compete with the energy flowing from the announcer, as if he wished to replace everyone who couldn't witness such a feat.

    "Amazing, wasn't it? Falteer and Balthazar didn't falter once as they were lead to victory with Nilak. But I don't dare to say that it was all due to Nilak's strategies. A great plan needs a great weapon, and a great weapon needs a great shield. Nilak was the planner, but Falteer was the weapon and Balthazar was the shield. Get it? Balthazar swooped down to protect the audience and his allies. Falteer went on the offense, knocking out multiple bandits with lightning and sword play. And of course, holding these two together--"

    "I do believe now that you admire the sound of your own voice. I thought the announcer was responsible for commentary?"

    "Perhaps I should be the announcer, then. I know I would not be frightened so easily. Not even Andrim would intimidate me." Elrik nodded, at which Vita locked her gaze upon the announcer. Sure enough, Andrim was currently barking at the shakened fellow, resulting in him nearly fainting and Andrim disappearing through a "hidden" door.

    "He certainly has more on his mind than the the stimulating display of carnage you found to be so intriguing."

    "Of course. He came to ensure the well-being and lives of the audience, whereas I came to see how united the trio could possibly be when facing such dangers. Now the question remains: what will those three fated to meet display next?"

    "You seem to know the answer already."

    "Who knows? And with those haunting words, I take my leave!"

    "Perhaps we will meet again?"

    "Sooner then you expect, my friend."

    With a snap of his fingers, a tundra of blue flames sparked in mid-air, erupting with such force that a heat wave filled the air. Suddenly, it became difficult to see, Vita's eyes watering the moment she wiped away the tears that clouded her vision. Blinking relentlessly, she was able to catch a blobbish, transparent substance forming at the heart of the flames before the stinging forced her eyes close. When the fire was finally cooled by the night breeze, in its place was see-through platform with two glowing circles in the center. Elrik hopped on it and, with a soft tap of his right foot on the upper circle, the platform came to life. Startled, Vita stepped back and realized she was mistaken. The platform was actually the top Elrik's summoning, which was a gigantic, yet strange looking jellyfish. One reason for its strangeness was the fact that the tenticles dangled like confetti beneath its cup-like base. Secondly, it emitted a cyan hue, dimming and brightening spontaneously (who wouldn't be irritated by being awe-struck one second and blinded the next?). And she couldn't ignore the shooting star marking the summoning as if Elrik needed visual evidence that the jellyfish was indeed his own summoning.

    "Oh, by the way...if you spot what looks like a floating piece of gold, that's my fairy, Mina. She gets mad easily, especially if you compare her to Minathiel. But overall, she's sassy and narcissistic, and she likes to talk in third person. If you find her, then we'll definitely meet again."

    And yet again, Elrik did as he pleases by informally saluting Vita and rocketing upwards into the sky, out of sight. In the middle of watching Elrik depart, a figure caught Vita's attention out of the corner of her eye. Standing a few feet away, the colosseum becoming his pedestal, was the elven boy Vita spotted in the library. She had caught him staring at Nilak, Falteer, and Balthazar for a moment, either out of respect or curiousity, before sweeping his eyes over the city. What was he looking for? She wanted to ask, but she had another pressing matter to deal with: making up with Oren and Amelia.

    Nurarihyon no Mago!
    Quote:
    Inpa: "...I got your mask already, look! Isn't it pretty?”
    Balthazar: ”Urgh.. !! It's pink..”
    Inpa: ”Oh please, it's called being metrosexual!..."
    -- farag0n; Tales of Amn

  8. #48
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    The Cell

    Kien wasn't sure which hit him first, the loneliness or the cold. Now he sat on his bunk bed, hands grasping tight onto his knee, shivering through the night. There were several instances where he felt inclined to wrap the bed sheet around him, but the thoughts of numerous parasite and bacteria embedded within it put the thoughts to an end.

    Unpleasant is an understatement. The experience was made worse when collaged with the memories that clung to his mind. The cell reflected the image of the cell of fifty years prior. The same cobblestones that laid out its structure, the same mold ridden wood that made the bunk, the same family of mice that scurried even in plain sight. The only difference being the moonlight that shown through a window a foot wide. There was no moonlight then, and Kien recalled the dread it brought having to stare into the unknown. However, now seeing the position of his current state, Kien wasn't sure which one he preferred.

    The cobweb expanded its territory from the usual corners to the edge of the walls, drifting from side to side from the breeze that slipped through the window. The banging of the iron bars that carried through the walkway between the cells, the music of a madman. Kien could only stare now, into the lock that kept him confined. His mind was free to drift in this disturbing peace. And all he could think of was Dia.

    How was she? Where was she? What is she doing now? No answers he could provide. He only waited as the questions developed into a fever that numbed all other thoughts. The occasional shiver would break his concentration, but as soon as it settled, he would be back again. He wanted to escape, either from this place or from reality. However, whichever path it took, he would dive into the events fifty years before. He forced himself to relive the experience of that first dungeon. He remembered the water that surrounded him which give no reflection, and the unrestraint imagination he had then. The possibilities he thought of, and the grim realization after that reality could exceed imagination. The memories. The memories curved so clear a picture, so explicit in its detail that he considered his gift a curse. Now, he prepares the slate for a new one.

    He tortured himself with the images as the moon fade behind the landscape and out came the sun, bringing to Kien, a gift of fatigue. The lack of sleep had worn him down, and he no longer stayed with logic in his head. Facts connected in his head like a tangled mesh, as he stayed between realities and dream. It was only when he heard the click of a lock and the loud screech of iron did he clear himself of the mess.

    He saw the door was open now, but his mind was unable to process it. "What?" was the only thing he found himself asking, and he was confused by it.

    "You are free," said the guard who opened the door.

    "What?" He asked again, with no real alternative that broke his current disorientation.

    "Countess Erae has bailed you out with appropriate alibi and donation, so if you'll be so kind as to gather your belongings and leave, it would be of great help. We got others who could use the room."

    "Oh," was Kien's reply. He looked around to see if he needed to bring anything with him, and fumbled aimlessly. There was no belonging that Kien could bring, unless the guard also meant his sanity, which he almost left by the bedside.

    He moved out the cell, and was guided to the exit. He dragged himself as he walked, still in the suit he wore the night before, but in a much worse state.

    Kien stepped out into the streets, and saw Dia waiting by the sidewalk; a smile came to her seeing his release. There was an overwhelming amount of joy that washed over him, clearing the doubts he had in mind, events of before seemed to have fade back into just a dream. He hurried over and embraced her, and looked her up and down, “Is everything alright?”

    Dia laughed slightly, and nodded, “I should ask you the question, you’ve been in there longer than I have.”

    She stroked the side of his face slightly, easing away the wrinkles of worry. “You eyes are bloodshot,” Dia commented as she let go.

    “So is yours,” Kien stood up, glad that things are alright. He looked to the side to see Kalea standing there watching, although her lips was curved in a smile, her eyes was still full of worry.

    Part of Kien wanted to blame Kalea for what happened, but he did not speak. He pushed Dia’s wheelchair down the street, paying no attention that Kalea followed. The tense mood followed them until Kien arrived back at his home. He helped Dia into the house and closed the door behind him, locking Kalea out.

    Kalea didn’t move from her spot, as she stared into the dark lines of the wood, patiently waiting. The door opened several minutes later, and Kien stepped out with a downcast face. “Let’s walk,” he told Kalea, closing the door behind him once more as he continued to walk through the streets of the slum. Kien led her down a trail, toward a miniature forest that managed to survive the expansion of the city. Kalea followed without a reply, her eyes stared to the pebbles that lay in front of her. She does not know where to start, but Kien didn’t care, his mind was made up.

    “Kien,” she broke the silence first, “I need your help.”

    She waited for Kien to respond, but he didn’t. So she continued."I need you to help Markl…To prove his innocence.”

    “No,” Kien give the short reply, providing no reason, only driven by intuitive emotions.

    “Please.”

    “No.”

    “Kien…”

    “Kalea.” The sound of her name made Kalea stop in her step. It was the strain that Kien put in saying it that made the name seem like a curse. Kien stopped too, turning around to face her. “Look at me.”

    Kalea looked up from the floor, and saw the figure of a crestfallen elf.

    “I’m not that strong,” Kien continued in a mutter, his voice barely carried, “Maybe when we were kids we could try to do things that are beyond our limit, but now, it just costs too much. I don’t know who Markl is. You might, but I’m lost. I can’t be pushed by your suggestion anymore, we both grew up.”

    “You do know Markl, you talked with him, and saw his performance.”

    “And my conclusion is that he’s a trickster. A trickster capable of committing crime that I wouldn’t know about. Don't you see? I don’t care one bit about him.”

    “You can’t ignore this, it’s too important.”

    “And why is it important?!”

    “I don’ t know…” the uncertain reply, “I trust it will be.”

    The words sounds so familiar, Kien tried not to remember, but it still came. The beginning of a tragedy. “Stop it Kalea. It’s not fair.” Kien held his head with one hand, a buzz went off inside, causing a terrible headache. “Why did I leave Nayru? It’s so I can get away from all this. This complicated mess things had become. I wanted to live at peace. Be fresh. Be in a place where Dia and I don’t have to worry about one another. But you just came in, uninvited. And brought with you the world I hated. You expect me to just jump back in and embrace it? Did you forget what happened?! Who do you think you are?!”

    Kalea looked back at him with such pained expression that it stung Kien. She looked to the side, toward the city of Monark. “I thought I was your friend.”

    A mocking chuckle came through to Kien’s mouth, he shook his head and followed her gaze to the city, the city that he now called home. “I don’t know anymore.”

    The wind blew by them, harsh in its delivery. Kien’s mouth was dry, he wanted to be left alone, and Kalea stayed where she is. He spoke again to break the silence. “I wish I could forget, like everyone else. I wish I could snip apart the dreadful memories and cast them away. But I can’t. I have a perfect memory. Never knew perfection came with flaws. Last night, they kept on coming, my past played out in vivid detail. To be in the same situation as before, do you know how that is? I can't forget. I can't forget. I can't forget. Never forget. Not the cell, not Nayru, not the people. But do you know? I had enough of it. I don't want to be back to the way things were, because it wouldn't be the way things were. So please, play your game with someone else.”

    "You think it's just a game?"

    Kien hated the way she said it. It used to make him feel guilty to object otherwise. However, he was not about to be swayed this time, and the question only brought a mean spirit resting within him.

    "To be honest. I never thought otherwise."

    Kalea’s closed her eyes, her lips moved but no words came out. She wanted to hear Kien taking those words back. But Kien was right, she no longer can command him anymore, not since fifty years ago. She now tried hard to find words to say, an alternative to the trend she was so used to. When it did, it was a short, “Farewell.”

    ----------------------------------
    A Game of Dress Up

    Kien stood alone, as the world tuned up the volume of early morning. He paid no attention to them, as his glassy eyes stayed unmoving on a pebble that revealed itself through the dirt. With an undying focus he stared to it, noticing the crack, and mosaic of red and brown that mixed in harmony to create it. Both he and the pebble were fixed in a trance, only to be awoken from a crack of a branch.

    Kien looked to the sound, and saw with surprise Dia coming to him in her wheel chair. Her hair rolled up in a neat bundle in front of her, with Leminite resting amid it. Kien only realized now, that Dia must have followed them to the woods, and she must have heard the argument. “That wasn’t very nice,” said Dia, without the ridiculing tone that Kien expected. “Not very gentlemen like as one would predict from your attire.”

    Ah yes, the suit. He still hasn’t changed them. It was just like Dia to bring that up in this mood. Kien used to hate it when she fooled around back in Nayru, but now it became a pleasant aspect to Dia’s character. “I should probably return this,” Kien took the restrictive garment off, and rolled it between his arms.

    “Only after a good wash,” Dia came closer to him and felt the dark fabric, rubbing it between her fingers to retrieve some kind of information from it that’s foreign to Kien, “It will need a good hard wash. So full of grime and dirt, and probably some stitching for all those time you tried to force it to fit your pose.”

    “I can’t imagine why anyone would like to wear this thing.”

    “I don’t think many would, not for comfort at least,” Dia took the suit from him and placed it on top of her lap. Leminite flew away from her lap and took a rest on top of the suit after. “But wearing the suit isn’t just for you. It’s a presentation for others.”

    “I think I’m satisfied with just having comfort, I don’t have to care about what other people think,” Kien took hold of the handles on Dia’s wheelchair and began travelling back into their shack.

    “You say that sometimes, but you realize how unreasonable that really is,” said Dia as she laughed, “Could a man live in isolation, sure, but would he lived a life that’s worthwhile?”

    “Maybe.”

    “And maybe not. I think we live to be in the company of others, whoever or whatever that other may be. We don’t see ourselves as well as we think we do. We need a social reflection which can evaluate our actions,” Dia laid open the suit, and Leminite having given up the possibility of staying on Dia’s lap moved to her shoulder. Dia carefully folded the suit along the creases, taken care to flatten out the wrinkles, “We can avoid others to believe we are right, and we may avoid the ridicule society sometimes give us. However, without being in a world of ridicule, where would you find a world of appreciation? That’s what they call the ups and downs.”

    “What’s wrong with living in peace with no ups and downs?”

    “Nothing, if that’s what you wished. But everything if you forced yourself into it,” she handed the folded suit back to Kien, who took it and squeezed it between his arm pit. “You don’t look for comfort in a suit, you look for the stigma.”

    Kien let out a sigh as he saw the shack up ahead, and sped up slightly. Shortly afterwards, he would rest Dia in her bed and walk back to his own quarter in the living room. He would close his eyes then, but would not sleep. He knew there were things to be done.


    Because Calculus is magical, the constant Euler constant appears when we solve this differential equation. -James Thomson, Biology Professor

  9. #49
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    As the sky took in the joyful lullabies of the elven folk in Nayru, the three moons finally parted ways and started moving on their own course. Kinrai glanced upwards from the edge of the colosseum and observed the sea of stars which illuminated the nightsky. He was lucky enough to spot a shooting star flying among the stars, dodging and circling some of the stars. Issat was also looking upwards and only a modest ”Wow” escaped from her mouth.

    They said that stars glowed the brightest during Moon Days, whether that was true was hard to prove but anyone looking at the nightsky right now would agree. Standing on this very spot, looking at the nightsky on a Moon Day brought Kinrai some pleasant memories from his past. Now was not the time to reminiscence though, now was the time to catch the Moonpearl.

    Kinrai lowered his head and started surveying the city again. The city was bright thanks to the numerous firefly lamps posted on all the streets. There was a huge gathering of elves in the marketplace, it served as the place where the audience could gather. Kinrai spotted several of the other contestants running like headless chickens among the various streets of the city. There was even one who actually went so fast that Kinrai couldn't keep track of him.

    A loud sound emanating from behind Kinrai suddenly caught his attention. By reaction he quickly turned around and saw a moon elf in a striking outfit riding some sort of jellyfish. The moon elf was talking to another moon elf, a female at that. Kinrai was quite fascinated about the jellyfish summon, he was about to get a closer look when the jellyfish suddenly launched right into the sky with the moon elf on top.

    Kinrai: ”Did you see that, Issat?”
    Issat: ”Yes, he made a rather dashing exit.”
    Kinrai: ”Wish I could summon something like that.”
    Issat: ”With lots of training, you can one day.”
    Kinrai: ”Yeah, I hope Nilak is willing to teach me someday soon..”

    Turning his head, Kinrai's attention drew back to the female moon elf. He recognized her, they met briefly in the library earlier today. Did she enjoy reading and these brutish nightly colosseum fights? That was rare, then again first impressions rarely held the truth. Issat looked like she was scanning the area around the moon elf, she was most likely looking for a fairy. After much searching, she gave up and let out a depressed sigh. Kinrai waved his hand slightly to catch the moon elf's attention, she looked absorbed in her thoughts.

    Kinrai: ”Hi. We met earlier, didn't we? I'm Kinrai Alte, pleased to meet you.”
    Soon after that Issat inched closer to the moon elf, still looking for a fairy.
    Issat: ”Don't you have a fairy?”
    Kinrai: ”Issat! That's rude. Anyway.. enjoying the fight?”
    Kinrai pointed his thumb at the arena while Issat gasped and covered her tiny mouth. After all she always tried to be as courteous as someone could be. Issat bowed down and apologized immediately before introducing herself.


    Meanwhile in Monark

    Kinos was reading through reports of all the crimes for the past few days. Most of them were larcenies but a certain case where a father killed his own son caught Kinos's attention. The case was filed yesterday, it was finished the same day the murder happened which sparkled Kinos's interest. He read further and saw the detective on the case was..

    Kinos: ”.. Kien Cephalon. Hmm.. the name sounds familiar.”

    Kinos stood up from his seat and walked over to one of his wooden drawers. He started browsing through the files located in one of the drawers, eventually Kien Cephalon's name came up. Kinos took the file out and started reading it in front of the window which revealed Monark in its full splendor. The festivities were already over in Monark, the Moonpearl race was a delicacy of Nayru. The city had calmed down for now, however it would take only a few hours for the merchants to start putting their stands out again.

    Kinos: ”Hmph. So he's the infamous earless elf who caused that irritating ruckus 50 years ago. I still can't understand why he was released..”

    Kinos closed Kien's file, placed it back into one of his drawers and took the reports from his desk. With the reports, he walked out of his office and entered the dwarven council member's quarters in another ”bracket” of the tower. He knocked on the old wooden door once before opening it, the door screamed like it was in pain when it was opened.

    As Kinos stepped inside, the first thing he noticed was the snoozing council member face down on his desk. The dwarven council member's quarters looked quite similar to Kinos's quarters, albeit being more messy. There was a poster of the man himself on the wall, it was obviously painted when the dwarf was still young. The creaks the floor unleashed every time Kinos took another step would've woken up anyone, except a dwarf. Once Kinos reached the desk, he placed three of the reports on the desk and kicked the desk so that the dwarf woke up.

    Kinos: ”Wake up, Garmilio. The executions of these Tainted shall be carried out the day after tomorrow. None of them will be sent to Nayru since the colosseum is already filled with the Tainted. The executions will not be done in public. Use the new executioner and evaluate him, I want a detailed report about it. Is everything clear?”
    Garmilio: *Yawn* ”Yes, yes.. Who was the new executioner again?”
    Kinos: ”Dain Calrot.”
    Garmilio: ”Ah, yes, the dark elf. Oh, and before I forget.. Any news from Andrim Dreizer?”
    Kinos: ”He's keeping a close eye on things in Nayru at the moment. That is all for now.”
    Garmilio: ”I see. Now get some sleep workaholic, you'll get yourself killed eventually if you work this much.”
    Kinos: ”For the 100th time, stop pestering me about my sleeping habits for they are none of your concern. Remember to send those reports forward before the sun rises, I will also notify the beastkin council member about this.”
    Garmilio: ”Ka'Tar isn't here right now. She left several hours ago. I think she was heading to Chasm of Terra.”
    Kinos: ”.. Why?” Kinos asked with a chilling tone.
    Garmilio: ”She was very "hush-hush" about it so I have no idea.”
    Kinos: ”That immature child. How can she neglect her responsibilities so-”
    Garmilio: Silence! Even us council members have lives to live. You have no right to deny her that Kinos.”
    Kinos: ”.. Hmph.”

    Kinos walked out of Garmilio's quarters and back into his own. The expression on his face was displeased to say the least. He sat down on his chair and fell into a deep thought.

    Kinos: ”Foolish girl..”


    Sometime later in Chasm of Terra

    Ka'Tar was riding a palla through the thick forest which encircled Chasm of Terra. It wouldn't take long for her to reach her destination with the speed the palla possessed. Ka'Tar was in her usual clothing, a white robe with green lines tied around her body which leaves her legs bare. She also had her white hood over her head and a pair of white bracers on both hands.

    Arlith, the earth dragon, was usually found roaming this forest. Ka'Tar had no intentions on running into Arlith since she knew the dragon didn't like visitors. Most of the dragons didn't actually like visitors. Faen, the fire dragon, was the friendliest of them and she had a terrible temper.

    Finally Ka'Tar arrived to the entrance of the Netherworld, the core of Chasm of Terra. The ground around the barrier was barren, like a wasteland of sorts. Oddly shaped rock formations riddled the area, some of them were most likely sleeping Colossi. Ka'Tar wasn't afraid that one of them would wake up, Colossi are known to sleep for decades before waking up.
    The barrier was as vigilant as ever, it didn't allow Ka'Tar to even slightly touch it. Her eyes became mere slits as she tried to peer inside the barrier. In the end she couldn't see nor hear anything because of the black/purple surface of the barrier. It was like trying to stare through the thickest kind of mist you can imagine.

    Ka'Tar: ”Ugh. Now what? Stupid barrier, open up! I need to get inside!”

    While expressing her frustration, Ka'Tar hadn't noticed an enormous shadow lurking behind her. Once she finally realized it, her eyes grew large and she slowly turned around.

    Ka'Tar: ”Of all the luck..”

  10. #50
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    Tale of Askari (20 years ago)

    “Askari, Askari, are you lost again? Do you remember your way home?”

    Paws of the Beastkin stepped on the dry earth. Even in the soft sand his strides were loud. Not like the others whose paws seemed like wind in the dessert, only touching the upper layer of the sand, not leaving any tracks. It seemed to very simple, but for him it was impossible.

    “How long have you been strolling around? Do you paws feel heavy from the ways you roam?”

    Every Beastkin could walk soundless in the sand of Onomu. Hell almost every stranger could do it too. It was hardly possible to walk with much sound in this dry land. The only time when clear sounds were heard during walking was when you stepped on a rotten branch and caused a snap of wood, or accidently kicked a rock away. Of course ignoring the sounds that volcanos made when you walked passed them. Some were very suspicious of motion and could erupt by the slightest trembling of the earth. It was hardly predictable. Still most Beastkin could walk past them like they didn’t exist.

    He couldn’t.

    Everywhere were he went branches snapped under his feet as if they were waiting for him to come so that they could sneak up to him and lay themselves under his feet. Rocks the same. Volcano’s always erupted as he passed them. Nothing was quiet when he walked by. And that wasn’t the only thing that was wrong with him.

    “Askari, Askari, are you lost again?”

    The children around him all knew it. They knew what kind of a failure he was. They made a game out of it, trying him, testing him, looking how far they could go before he snarled at them. What could he do anyway?

    “Do you remember your way home?”

    The song they made was irritating, but scarily accurate. Askari narrowed his eyes and in a sudden move swung his head to the left. He bared his fangs. A dangerous low sound emitted from his throat. In a flash all the children disappeared, leaving only small clouds of dust behind. Askari swayed his head back and forth to make sure there was no one left before continuing his walk. He hadn’t set one step when he was interrupted again.

    “Ah the kitty has come home. How long did it take you this time to find the town back?”

    Askari looked up and stared in the yellow eyes of a tall Beastkin. His spotted fur held the same color as that from Askari.

    “None of your business Ajabu.” Askari growled as he tried to move past the cheetah.

    “You’re earlier then before though. I must admit I am surprised. I had guessed you would at least take another hour or so. Guess I lose that bet then.” Ajabu shrugged. “Anyway you can hand that over.” He held up his paw.

    Askari adjusted the bag that was swung over his shoulder. “I am perfectly capable of finding the house myself.” He said.

    “Sure you are. Tomorrow or something.” Ajabu chuckled and rose his paw demanding.

    “**** off. This is my prey. I’ll give it to mother myself.”

    Their eyes met and for a moment they simply stared to each other.

    “Fine.” Ajabu said. He turned away. “Come on then.” And Askari followed him though it was slightly reluctant.

    Their house lay on the far west end of the village and was in all sense a typical Beastkin house. It lay half buried in the ground to protect it from the heat of the day and the cold of the night. Most of the rooms lay further under the ground, the only light coming from the small shanks made in the roof. In the night you could see a few stars through it, sometimes even the moon. The living room was above the ground and meant to sit in during the morning and evening and was the place to receive guests. It was probably the only room the guest would see. Beastkin were very secure with their houses. It was absolutely unheard of that strangers saw the lower levels.

    As the two brothers arrived at the door they were greeted by two little balls of fur sitting on the door step. The two immediately got up and flung themselves towards Askari.

    “Did you catch something Askari?”

    “I bet he did.”

    “Is it big?”

    “It must be look at that bag.”

    “Is it tasty?”

    “Not yet, idiot, mother first has to cook it.”

    “But Haifa I’m hungry now, can’t we eat it now?”

    “No we can’t.”

    “Askari can we?”

    Two pair of eyes turned towards the cheetah and Askari couldn’t help to smile. They looked so expectantly to him as if his answer was the only thing in the world that mattered now. They were still so naïve, but that was only too expected. They were only just ten summers old, the youngest of the family.

    “Kafil, Haifa, get inside! You two still haven’t cleaned your room yet.”

    The two simultaneously turned around to face each other, both with a horrid look on their faces. Surely they had been hoping to get away from it if they stayed outside, but Askari knew there was no escape from their fate. If they didn’t do it now things would turn nasty. It seemed like the two had come to the same conclusion and after casting one last glance to Askari and Ajabu they sprinted inside.

    Ajabu turned to him. “You better hurry. I hope you caught something good.” He said before strolling inside himself.

    I know that. Askari thought. He clenched his bag tighter and took a deep breath before stepping inside.

    He was greeted by a refreshing coolness and the smell of fresh bread. The room he was in was quite spacious, but in the same time cozy. On his left there were seats and a table. These were the seats that were used when the family had guests. On his right there was the kitchen. A female Beastkin was taking bread out of the oven. Her fur had the same yellowish color as that from Askari though it was softer and less spotted. When he entered she turned around. Her yellow eyes penetrated the young man.

    “You’re late.” She said brusque.

    “I’m sorry mother.” Askari said with a slight bow. “It won’t happen again.”

    “Of course it will.” The woman said and Askari lowered his head even more, a pained expression on his face. “Now, what did you catch?”

    Askari lowered the bag from his shoulder and handed it over. After shooting him a last glance the woman opened the sack and looked inside.

    There were several seconds of silence and then she sighed. With one of her paws Askari’s mother rubbed her eyes. “Seriously I don’t have time –”

    Her words were cut off when there came a crash from a lower level followed by various shouting voices.

    Askari’s mother’s head snapped up. “Kafil stop scaring Haifa!” She shouted and she turned around. “Those two,” she huffed to herself as she walked off, “I swear if they broke something again… Why can’t I have a quiet afternoon? First stuff with Rim and now this and on top of that…” She looked back to Askari. There was more shouting coming from below. “Take this away will you. I’ll look what I can make with it later.” She said before disappearing to a lower level, leaving Askari alone in the room.

    He looked down on the bag that lay on the ground, but couldn’t force himself to pick it up. Another failure. Even though his mother didn’t say it he knew she was disappointed. And so was he. Disappointed that he had yet again failed his mother. That he had yet again messed up something she had asked him to do.
    He was the only failure of the family. Apart from Haifa, Kafil and Ajabu the family had three more members: Zubari, the first born who was a strong and fierce figure to see. He held the name of the family high by winning most of the fighting contests in town and doing good in hunting. Rim, Askari’s little sister of seventeen. She was a beauty and often surrounded by many guys. And then there was Kivuli who was thirteen, but so small that he was often mistaken for the youngest of the family even though Kafil and Haifa were three years younger than him. If it came to hiding he was the one you should talk to. He could practically hide everywhere.

    That made a family of seven children which all had to be taken care of by one person; Zuri, the mother of the bunch. Askari’s father had said farewell right after the last two were born, leaving Zuri with all the children. She held them on a tight leash, but the family wasn’t unhappy. Actually they fared pretty well.
    Except for Askari that was. He was the loser of the family. Someone had to be it. Days like these were common and Askari hated them. He wanted to prove to the rest of the village, to his brother, but mostly to his mother that he wasn’t worthless. If he just could get that one big shot he was good for the rest of his life.

    Maybe the morning would bring hope. Maybe change would come tomorrow.

    But the morning came like the morning came every day and it passed like it passed every other day. As the little ones went to school the three older males all went to their own business. For Zuberi that meant train and hunt. Though his hunts weren’t meant for the family. Zuberi was going to get married soon and all his effort went out to make sure he got a big stock of food ready. That left Ajabu and Askari with the burden of catching dinner though his mother was reluctant to give Askari that task. She had no other choice though. She herself had enough to do and no time to set out for a big hunt.

    “I take the western part this time. You take east.” Ajabu said to Askari as he flexed his fingers. The brothers were standing just outside the village ready to take off. The sun was only just peering over the horizon. “Maybe this time you finally catch something worthwhile eating.” He grinned. The east side was the most populated by wild in this time of the year. It should be an easy hunt, for a good hunter that was.

    “Shut up.” Askari growled to him.

    “Or what? You’re going to scratch me over my nose? Boohoo I’m so afraid.”

    “Shut up Ajabu, I’m warning you!”

    “And I’m warning you. Come back with something good, or don’t come back at all. You are a disgrace for the family Askari.” Ajabu’s tone was suddenly as cold as ice.

    Askari shot him dark glance, but knew that his brother meant it and that the greatest part of the village thought the same over him.

    Curtly he turned his back to Ajabu and faced the rising sun. Without saying a word of goodbye he set of in a quick pace. His paws left tracks in the dusty ground due his blunt walking speed, but it didn’t matter. He was determined this time; determined to find something good.

    Hours later Askari still hadn’t caught anything and he was visibly angry with himself. He crouched below one of the spare trees and carefully placed on the traps he had with him. It was one of his best changes to catch something. Stretching he stood up and looked out over Onomu. Despite the heat he was not sweating. His fur held him cool in times like these and kept him warm when the darkness fell.

    He narrowed his eyes suddenly when he noticed movement in the distance. A prey? He glanced around again and slowly started to walk. He tried his best not to make any sound as he crept closer and closer to the animal. This time he would succeed. He narrowed his eyes even more to see what it was that he was chasing, but the sun prevented him from getting a good look. Inexorable it decided to shine into his face and made it impossible to see any clear features. What was it?

    WHOEM!

    A volcano exploded right under his left feat and Askari cursed himself. In his inattention he had activated one of the many fire pits that lay dormant around him. Cursing himself and his bad luck he watched how the animal ran off at great speed. Again failed.

    Dejected Askari let his head hang. He had been at it for hours, but things just didn’t seem to work out. Maybe he should just go back?

    No! He could not do that. Not only would he have to endure the taunts from the village again he also would have to disappoint his mother again. Zuri did so much for him. She never said a bad word about him and always pretended to be happy with his findings, but he knew she was getting tired of it. No, he couldn’t come back without something decent.

    Another two hours passed and Askari was utterly and completely lost. Everywhere where he looked was dust and sand and sand and dust. He hadn’t seen a familiar spot for an hour now and he had followed the trail of something that he assumed was the track of a palla. How it came there he had no idea since palla’s didn’t live around here. Maybe it was from a traveler. It didn’t matter anyway. He was sweating like a tamba, thirsty and lost. The world just couldn’t get any better. His paws carried him further, further to unknown places and he didn’t care. Tired he halted and looked around for the fourth time this minute.

    It was no use.

    He shielded his eyes against the sand when a sudden blow of wind twirled a cloud of dust up into the air. Then he spotted him. A person, a sign of life it was almost unbelievable. His feet got a mind of his own and started running. He didn’t know why, but he needed some company. Maybe this person would know where he was?

    As he came closer he realized that the person was not a Beastkin and it was most certainly not a him. Her rank figure made her inevitable a female. So an elf it was then since she was too big to be a dwarf. And what would a dwarf do out here anyway.

    The person looked halted suddenly and looked around. For some reason Askari duck behind one of the piles of rubble, sand and rocks that lay around this piece of the land. If she was not a Beastkin meant that she couldn’t be trusted immediately. Trying to be soundless he crept closer to the person who had halted and took of her gloves. He did not understand why she would do that, but who cared. All her doings were unimportant as her cloak was blown away from her body and he spotted the purge that hung on her belt. It clearly was filled to the brim with something that could only be money.

    Suddenly his determination was set. Today he would come back with something good.


    A man said to the universe:
    "Sir I exist."
    "However," replied the universe,
    "this hasn't created in me
    a sense of obligation."

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