The Reverie of Artemis D'Assanthe

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Copper Dragon
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The Reverie of Artemis D'Assanthe

Postby Copper Dragon » Sun Dec 20, 2015 3:27 pm

The Elfin Sleep

The Elven Reverie was a strange thing; a canvas upon which memories were repainted, as vivid as they had happened; an endless pool in which thoughts, feelings, and impressions were all brought back to the fore as if they had just been parted onto their owner. Memories, visions and dreams were said to mingle in that state. It was a strange concept, alien to anything but the elven people and some of their descendants – and it was certainly alien to Artemis.

It took her the better half of a year to call herself vaguely “proficient” in it, and the fact alone that she used that word denoted how unfamiliar she still truly was with the Reverie: it was supposed to be a part of her, like sleep was a part of a human. But it wasn't, not for her. An elf that she thought she had feelings for told her how one slipped into Reverie, but it didn't sound easy – and it proved even more difficult than that.

Despite her training at the Dome, the practiced hours of solitary prayer, the lectures on the importance of the strength of body, fitness of mind and the shining of spirit, Reverie did not seem any more attainable than the ability to breathe under water. Human training did nothing for elven matters.

Often she simply fell asleep. Less frequently she couldn't sleep at all after she tried to practice, turning and twisting in her bed tired but unable to be anything but wide awake. And after her first successful attempt... Artemis didn't dare to leave the room she'd rented, for fear of not being able to tell memory and reality apart. Her thoughts were an uncontrolled tangle – she phased in and out of the day that she had “re-seen”, a childhood memory in which she climbed the broad, laquered wooden stairs of the D'Assanthe manor house, with sunlight falling in at a beautiful angle, warm and inviting, and reflecting upon the Silvaeren* vase madame Olorea was so fond of... But yes: her present inn room seemed to sport a window twice its size suddenly, and the sheets smelled of lavender like back home, and then musty again like in the Crowning Glory. She thought to have heard old Sergio's cracked voice calling up from downstairs, and felt a childlike excitement, then adult confusion, and then the present tugged at her in warning and sadness and stark, grey rigidity.

But after she managed it once – or rather, it felt like once Reverie found her worthy of mindset – she planned on attempting it again. With time, more things she had thought to have forgotten, and things she would rather have forgotten, would come to her.


________________________


*Silvaeren: a term applied to the collective folk of Silverymoon, their work, study, beliefs, and customs, and to items of their making. (Silver Marches by Ed Greenwood, Jason Carl)
Plays:
Artemis D'Assanthe, Dawnmaster
Udhana, the Kinless
Dhovainithil, Silver Elf
Jhasira of the Bai Kabor, Dawnbringer (deceased)

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Copper Dragon
Posts: 528
Joined: Tue Dec 01, 2015 12:11 pm
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Postby Copper Dragon » Mon Dec 21, 2015 4:49 pm

The First Success – and the First Promise

Artemis lit a candle and sank into glowing silence; she felt that light would help her find the trance. She settled into it, imagining it and feeling it to be similar to bathing in the radiance of the hot, delightful Amnian sun: warming her mind rather than her skin this time. And at last this time she let Reverie in... or it let her in.

Somewhere, somehow, an eleven year old girl's footsteps were felt.

Haste.

Giddiness.

Grabbing the rail...

I ran up the laquered wooden stairs of the D'Assanthe manor house. The sun beat down through the large windows, twinkling on the Silverean vase that lady Olorea had purchased recently. I reached the top when I heard the chamberlain Sergio's aggravated tones. “Little lady, where are you? Lector in mathematics is here already. Stop the shenanigans.”

I pressed my hand on my mouth not to giggle. Old Sergio never found me easily. Number-wizardry was boring, and an eleven year old had such more-exciting things to do – daring things, or fun ones, like playing mouse-in-the-mansion. They say I'm too old to be such a toddler, but I'm not old, and I'm definitely not a toddler. I go where I please.

“Lady Artemis, present yourself this instant.”

Red ink!* He sounded mad. I got scared by that and tiptoed away from the staircase and down the corridor, and almost bumped into the stuffed pheasant. I walked past it and an idea came to me; I would simply tell lady Olorea I didn't need this class. I would explain it to her with fancy words, and madame would think me clever and elkent, elokin, el – no, eloquent; that was it. I was after all already on the right floor to find her.

I neared the lady's study room. From within I heard talk.

“...mistake my care for the girl as a license for you not to look after her, Estriada. You owe her an inheritance percentage, keep that in mind.” Lady Olorea. She doesn't sound happy.

I inched closer to the study's double doors and peeked in. I saw lady Olorea and mother, sitting, drinking tea, and not looking happy. Mother rarely visited; she was always busy and away because she cared for me, lady Olorea'd always say, as confusing as that was.

Estriada, or mother, was frowning a bit now and replied. “This is such a distant concern, my lady. I'm nowhere near old. My second baby's barely underway.”

“Your third. Artemis is your first, Leodan your second.”

“Artemis does not matter. Not in the succession, and not in defining heirloom and property rights or income, born without an Amnian father. Or a father at all.” She stopped and seemed thoughtful. “He never came back; not for Artemis, not for me. Word of the child surely reaches ones like him quickly, but he never returned. Eleven years have gone by.”

Madame Olorea watched, never interrupting. She always did that: keeping silent until the very end to then say something big and sharp. But mother didn't seem to remember that, so she kept going. “And you've been kind to pick her up, and that I'll never forget. Sincerely. But she's... a half-... she's different. It's clear she will never be able to stand on her own two feet.”

What? That was such a confusing, mean thing to say. What did I do wrong? The classes; I didn't miss out on them much. I felt wronged. I clutched the door's edge, “Mama?”

Mother and lady Olorea both looked at me. Mother looked startled, then angry.

“You know you shouldn't call me that, Artemis. Not where anyone can hear. Madame Olorea told you this, I've told you this.” Mother got up from her seat. I felt tiny and shrinking; I didn't reply. Mother stared, sighed and looked to lady Olorea, who now seemed... cold. But not to me. At mama, I perceived.

“Excuse me a moment.” Mother left the room.

Lady Olorea glared after her, then looked at me.

The lady of the house seemed very much like she was thinking about what to say. She was angry, too, but was not going to be unkind to me. Never unfair. Never confusing like mother. I frowned, and before she could speak I said something first. “Don't worry, Lady Olowea. I will do great things.”

On my own.

Just you wait.

It ended there. Artemis stirred in bed to find herself alone and awake, and far indeed from sunshine or Athkatla. She reached for the candle on the nightstand, blowing it out. It had managed to mark the passage of four hours; four hours for a short scene like that. From downstairs the rowdy talk of drunkards and the harp music of the Crowning Glory's hired musicians drifted upwards.

She'd barely recalled that memory, but was certain it must have been real. It felt as such in every way, from the simplified thinking of a child to the scents, sounds, sensations on her child's-skin. A success, then, although it was an odd first fully-completed session.
Hah, session. Celith would quirk his brows if I dubbed it so. That made her smile slightly, but the memory left her wistful. My notions of grandeur go back a long way. Hopefully her life did not boil down to only that.


________________________


*Red ink: an Amnian term for bad luck (Lands of Intrigue by Steven E. Schend)
Plays:
Artemis D'Assanthe, Dawnmaster
Udhana, the Kinless
Dhovainithil, Silver Elf
Jhasira of the Bai Kabor, Dawnbringer (deceased)

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Copper Dragon
Posts: 528
Joined: Tue Dec 01, 2015 12:11 pm
Location: GMT +1

Postby Copper Dragon » Sun Dec 27, 2015 3:17 pm

To Bathe In Blood

After her successful dip into the Reverie, Artemis gave herself a few days of simple sleep. She reflected on what she'd seen and cautiously analysed the experience before revisiting her trials. Now that she managed it once, she had to pick her moments; the aftermath of her first session (she kept calling it that, in her private counsel) was a cacophony of 'then' and 'now', and she couldn't well have that repeated on a day with important meetings.

During her several next attempts the Amnian half-elf submerged into this flowing, vaguely cool substance that was the Elven Reverie... But rather than reliving a full memory, she felt to have been swimming through a river: It had small whirlpools where a memory surfaced and washed over her, but it was smooth and quick to pass through her; it had calm side-branches that were a long series of connected recollections, too many to take in at once; and it had shores, where something solid meant getting closer to awakening, and where strange, incomprehensible whispers were uttered by distant, superior voices – voices of elves, for elves, mayhaps. But she could not hope to tell apart nor describe these impressions well enough to form a question to the elf she knew. Could the Elven language hold fast what her human tongue and human ways of thought could not?

In and out, brushing past and plunging through, she saw and felt and heard things that seemed familiar. However, it took her almost a month until Reverie gave her a whole, complete memory to taste again. And she would rather have not tasted it at all.


“You will come as well, perhaps...? With your spear? And you, Celith, with the bow...?”

Elis. This was Elis' voice.

The scent of smoke, old leathers, sawdust.

The warmth of the cloak around my collarbone.

The black-haired, hazel-eyed Celith nodded. “I will.”

“Artemis.” I turned my head to the speaker seated with me by the small table at the Drunk Carp. We were at this nameless village, someone described it as 'Vlasta', but there was little and less remarkable about it. The speaker though... It was Valindra Shadowmoon – it was an elf, also, pale and white-haired and canting her head at me. “Will you come too? You wear armour, though these are orc. They are still strong. Dangerous.”

No... Not this one. She didn't want to remember this.

“Does it always make you remember fond moments, this Reverie?” This was at another time; a completely other time, where I had a conversation with Celith about the elven trance.

Celith's friendly look turned dark, solemn, and he drew his gaze elsewhere in thought as he replied. “Not always.”

The Reverie pulled her back in, she had no choice. She had a bad feeling about this, somewhere deep inside, somewhere far away from the current memory, a powerful feeling of hindsight – and fear. But soon, like the inept swimmer in the calm yet powerful, ever-strong river, she went under.

“I would bid you wait 'til the morning comes, to bless the journey – but I - I would - ...” I trailed off in my response. I recalled my first Adventure in Impiltur with a similar company, which had happened just in the days previous and I was uncertain to press my luck so soon again. I was too fresh, too new to such expeditions. Too overwhelmed. Some of the attendants of this conversation, this monstrous Elis and the elf hunter, Celith, were clearly capable however. Their sense of judgement and their experience would be pivotal; and if they asked me to come... Others were looking at me, fellow non-elves. Weighing now what a Dawnbringer's reply would be like. Yes... I could help; and I could strengthen the Lathanderite church's reputation in the area if I did. I rose from my chair, “I would of course go with you.”

The elf Valindra replied to what I'd said before. “I cannot speak for Elis. And the humans. I am used to my hunt being in the night. Under the light of the moon. It makes me sharper. A better stalker.”

Agreement was quick to come. We got ready, this man called Aryen, the well-spoken Impilturan Simhan, the elves, and the druid, and Amira and Karla. We set out and headed north, off the village paths and into the wilderness. The night was cold, too chilly and prickly for the season of spring; although up here close to the mountains such was likely usual fare. Some birds above shrugged at the cool and sang into the night, while we trudged forth. Careful. Calm.

We killed the orcs at the outpost. I smelled spruce, rotting corpse and iron in the night air. I felt an itch in my boot, orcish blood having trickled into it. Oddly, these stood out the most at the moment.

We advanced well into their cave; it was thick with darkness, islands of torchlight and mine own pendant of Lord Lathander offering us solace from its grip. We were doing well so far, the sentries and first patrol within the tunnels undone. I was already used to the uncouth tinges of blood, death and filth; but the imminent danger kept me sharp and wary nevertheless. I spoke to my allies in encouragement and support, my comments meant to shrug off the black, subtle dread that surely all of us felt. I praised and acknowledged them all; that was my purpose among them. We had to be strong in bond and reassured in mind to make it through.

The next orcish brute came around the tunnelbend, and another followed, and one more. The first slashed out at Amira twice – she was tall, confident, strong, but she fell to the axe in a graceless gurgle. A thump followed. Blood sprang and splattered from the wound and quickly started to pool on the stone floor – dark, thick, coinsdamn terrifying.

I held up my shield, but was too far back in the ranks still, had no room to move up; it was Elis who fended off the orc, parried, struck, shrugged off a grazing hit, and Aryen was there to slash out with his greatsword, but one orc slipped past him.

I didn't see the blow coming. I gasped, held my shield like there was no tomorrow – there wasn't. The orc's eyes gleamed in the dark, his snarl was wide and barbarous, hungry and evil, and in one single instant that flail crashed through my world. I spun, it got dark, I heard a thud, and I felt the distant black pain of my own fall, the blood – my blood – streaming down my forehead. There was thunder around me, an eerie ring in my ears; the floor would not stop spinning.

Lady Olorea... I'm going to die. I'm going to die in some cave. I couldn't see, couldn't hear, only feel the tear welling up in my eye and the throbbing of my head.

There was a blood-filled gargle and a groan. I could not sense if I was out for an hour, a day, or a minute, but I could now look along the ground and see other shapes, lying motionless. The tears swelled more in my eyes as I realised they were my comrades, also dying or, far greater in likelihood, already dead before me. These people who were so much stronger and wiser. There was no hope.

Boots slapped against the floor somewhere, distancing themselves. The orcs... they were looking to make sure there weren't any more of us farther down their home.

I rolled on my side, hair sticking to my face and blood from my head-wound making me blind in one eye. My arms were weak, folds of silk rather than steel, but I pushed myself up. Elis, Amira, Valindra, Aryen lay in a grotesque zigzag row. The others were nowhere in sight. But I was as of yet alive...

I have to flee. I have to get help. I have to run.

I stared at them – at their bodies, as I sat there leaning on my arms. The scent of iron. Scent of urine. An annoying tingle of wetness and warmth under me, too. There was silence besides the crackling of the brazier nearest to me, and the pounding of my heart in my ears. I looked up and down the tunnel: there was no one but me.

No. I am their help. Or the orcs will claim them.

I crawled to the wall and got to my feet, then limped back around the bend to try tend to the head trauma first. The bleeding was going to have me faint sooner or later. Shaking, I saw a shadow slip forth – that elf hunter, Celith. Celith survived.

“The others!” I hissed on a whisper, still dizzy.

“I'm going to try to sneak back,” Celith murmured in response, half-crouching, an arrow notched.

“I'll be quick behind – we must hurry!”

Yes. Hurry. We had to do this. Morninglord; may I know your strength now.

It was all a haze and yet the clearest, most conscious, most aware moment that I had, as I dragged out a body, painfully slowly and exhausted. Strangely I saw every detail, every strand of hair on their face, felt every ounce of their weight, but could not register who it was. Then my memory started to swirl altogether...

“They are still strong. Dangerous.”

“Artemis... What did I just tell you.” The paladin Jerek's voice cut in, calm but sharp as a sword. He hadn't been there... Wasn't this somewhere else? Wasn't this much later? Yes, it was months later elsewhere...

Nevertheless, thoughts familiar and hauntingly accurate came to mind, thoughts I thought in that moment that Jerek addressed me. I know you ordered for me to stay back. But I cannot stand this powerlessness, this wait; to watch as the orcs harm any of you. Not again.

“They are still strong. Dangerous.”

“-asting a spell!”

A fiery blaze erupted in my face. The heat roared and someone – mayhaps I – screamed.

Her eyes flew open with a start. She breathed normally, absurdly enough, but she was sweating as if she had a fatal fever. Artemis reached up to her forehead and took a deep breath. With vague understanding she knew that the memories mingled together in the last moments; she was remembering different instances, months apart in time but all too familiar in the sense of dread they'd instilled. She had written about them in her diary, but would never put the horror of it, that raw despair to parchment. A Dawnbringer could not afford to impart negativity onto the world through their words, spoken or written; such was their responsibility, their holy duty. And so she had always chosen her phrasing with care. But she sure felt beaten sometimes.
Plays:
Artemis D'Assanthe, Dawnmaster
Udhana, the Kinless
Dhovainithil, Silver Elf
Jhasira of the Bai Kabor, Dawnbringer (deceased)

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Copper Dragon
Posts: 528
Joined: Tue Dec 01, 2015 12:11 pm
Location: GMT +1

Postby Copper Dragon » Sat Apr 30, 2016 2:47 pm

Sune's Kisses

The evening was flying by. I was buoyant from the wine, and it wasn't hard to greatly enjoy lady Kelda and sir Jerek's wedding feast; I was bathing in their harmony and merriment. Seeing the gowns, the smiling faces of the guests, and no doubt the wine itself warmed me on the inside. My holy task had been fulfilled with leading the wedding ceremony earlier today, in the morning, and now I wore a civilian dress - but I was never truly free of holy practices of the Dawnbringers; of finding wonder and bringing excellence in all places. I saw it all and I wanted to take it in full, careful (and just a little failing) to keep sober in order to do so.

Lady Peveril – Lori darling – and I sauntered through the premises. She wore a dress tailored and stylised impeccably, and truly, red worked so well on her. On both of us, as we walked with our arms hooked.

Ah, so many people! Delightful!

We were just introducing ourselves to the men of the Velvet Chantry, the Sunite brothers of Jerek. A bowl of figs passed by, and someone handed me another cup of wine. Delicious, where did Jerek say it was from again?

“You hold truly beautiful company as friends, Jerek. And a beautiful reception this has been to match them,” one of the two disciples, gorgeous, said.

I smiled, feeling it was more coy than intended for my station as a priestess, as I regarded the two gentlemen. The compliment wasn't ill-placed and yet it wasn't satisfactory; too standard for my taste, but he could be forgiven with eyes like that.

A fellow guest brushed past – or was going to but didn't?, and instead posed me a question. I realised it was Kallian, and the query was woven in the Elven tongue; soothing, but it slipped by me. Yet, in the midst of conversations droning and buzzing all around us, I willed myself to focus on her, and thoughts of sympathy bubbled in me despite the carnal tingling of the wine. Would she feel at ease among so many humans? Was she finding good company here?

I looked and was relieved. She had a gleam in her eye, when other times she seemed closed and alert even when she grinned or chuckled. I wouldn't have that, now. Elf or not, distant or not, I smiled as I wrapped an arm around her waist. The stage belonged to all the ladies tonight, of human blood or elven: the men would gawk and look and bask in our presence.

We were all no doubt light-headed by now, and while I was too slow she was too swift. A curl to her smile, a pull...

A kiss.

I didn't know what possessed her – Sune or the wine. Or what possessed me that I kissed her back.

She wished she had known why it felt bittersweet above all. As was the wont of the Reverie, the memory, like dreams, came with no palpable beginning nor end to it; images swirled and then disappeared. The tastes, the inebriated buzz, and the sounds of the festivities slid from her grasp like the finest silk. Silk...

I fingered the scarf around my neck anxiously. Would he come?

It was a warm summer eve, the heady scent of flowers doing little to keep my fidgeting at bay. I was waiting under the row of arches on the front side of the Dome of Rose. The Lathanderite temple was lofty and grand, and I knew I found it just as imposing now as I would in five years or ten. Although I had only been staying at the Dome for a few months at present. This was my first free leave in fact, and I was using it to meet him.

He came regularly to the temple for the philantropic speeches and the discussions, not so much the sermons, but he offered donations nevertheless. And he was... intelligent, elegant, motivated. A man of eighteen winters. He was a layman, I a novice, and though we didn't speak directly, I felt like I knew him like no one would.

We had been exchanging letters. Love letters.

One of my sisters-in-training kept the correspondence alive, going to and fro with the folded pieces of parchment. I knew she could have peeked but she didn't; I was teaching her how to read and write and sometimes did so based off of one of his letters. I had to share them: He was so well-versed in poetry and he even knew verses from Elven ballads! His writing was so masterful, I smiled from the first word to the last.

Today we were going to meet.

Would he come? Would he like my hair, my dress? (Of course I left the novice robes at the dorm.) I felt self-conscious about everything. As excited as I'd ever been in my sixteen years.

“My lady?”

My heart clenched tight. I almost gasped, but turned around with a wide smile instead. I must have looked like a little girl like that but I couldn't help myself.

“My lord,” I succeeded in catching myself before curtseying; a priestess would only nod. A would-be-priestess also.

He smiled so leisurely it melted me like honey under the sun. We'd never mentioned our names; it was so exciting. It made him so mysterious.

And chivalrous, too, as he half-bowed to take my hand and pull it to his lips.

“It is a pleasure to finally meet you in earnest,” he said. It all came to him so easily. He held my gaze, smiled with a little excitement, and I smiled too, focusing on feigning confidence and mild interest rather than blaring fascination. Just as I had practiced before the mirror. Keep it calm. He didn't miss a beat, “Shall we go for a walk?”

I hooked my arm into the one he offered, “We shall.”

We walked. Speaking was a little difficult when we had already done so much of it on parchment, and had done so in a way that allowed us to put our thoughts together at our own pace. Topping the skill of our correspondence with ink was hard here. But not too much. He was nervous, too, and we laughed more than we should. Nervous, yes... but only just enough to make me feel comfortable enough, too. The thrill of it was winning from the anxiety as we went.

He was so nice. I couldn't pay attention to what he said last, but I laughed, and that made him smile more. We stopped and he tucked my hair behind an ear, and I smiled, looked away bashfully and waited for him to say something again.

He leaned close. A month of writing to each other was going to culminate in this, in a kiss. I closed my eyes. When nothing happened, I looked up and found my anonymous amour had frozen and was looking squarely at me.

“Is... something amiss?” I asked, and I realised it before he said it.

“You're elven,” he blurted.

I felt a little pang in my chest. In the back of my mind I remembered something my mother had said to lady Olorea.

“Yes,” I said, lacking a better reply.

He continued staring. It was worse than anything.

“Half-elven,” I added, hoping to spur him to speak.

He ran a hand through his hair. “I didn't notice that...” He looked me up and down, let go of my arm as if I'd been a leper and stepped away.

My ears got hot as I blushed, afraid and angry at the same time. Wasn't he supposed to like me all the more for being something different? Didn't he admire Elven poetry? He looked so conflicted; was he serious? A month of letters, of enlightened words, and he looks at me like I was a Calishite monkey?

“You are beautiful. But I can't... I can't dally with you further, I'm sorry.”

And just like that he – and the image – was gone.

Other things appeared and faded before recognition could set in. There was a pattern though, she understood, and didn't find it so surprising what came next.

This memory was from many months ago. Almost a year.

Much has changed since then...

Tce emaece - hcaure ea – merr.” I paused. “Tsk - I'm sorry, master Celith! Would you mind it if I continued in Common? At least for this?”

Celith shook his head. “I do not mind. What is it you wish to speak of?”

The anxiety I felt was familiar from years ago, though I spoke evenly. “ 'Tis nothing urgent or dire, and I certainly hope it shan't be – cumbersome. But, as good as I am with secrets, there are some that I am not so excellent with.”

He gave me a more curious look.

“ 'Tis... ah... sometimes for the best to let something go than to let it eat away at you. In fact I'm certain that is mostly the case – and I am babbling away. Apologies.”

I inhaled, and then told him. I explained to him that I fancied him – him, this Elf, so different from the knights and lords that I had had idle feelings for in the past. Lady Firehair had kissed my heart gently, and made me see this elusive master hunter in a heartwarming light. He was calm in any storm, resilient, graceful and determined in ways I wished to know if my Elven father had been. But I knew I had no place in his world. Nor was there a place for me in his heart.

I was not trying to sway him or cause him grief, however. I felt myself smile sheepishly as I said my final piece, “I just – believe I have to get it off my chest, this. That I would have mayhaps ever so slightly had... positive feelings of a certain nature towards yourself.”

Celith was silent a moment, only allowing words to come when he knew what they had to be. Such was the Elven way. “I am... unsure what to tell you.”

I smiled warmly, then laughed sincerely even, and waved. “Oh – no no, 'tis fine. I'm – 'tis obviously not something that can be reciprocated. I understand that completely.” He had already fallen in love with one of his kind. I knew that and was not going to stand in the way. “Besides: I understand in just how many ways 'twould be ill-advised, even if circumstances were different.”

He agreed. I smiled reassuringly.

But I do not belong with the humans, either. I have had human lovers, men who I will cherish, and I will have another one day no doubt.

But by blood or by station, by choice or design, the one true marriage I have known and will know – eternal and deep and soaring – is with Lathander.

She roused from the Reverie, feeling at peace. She smiled to herself and reached for the pendant that hung above her heart at all times, even in her private quarters, her most private times. The bed she sat in was comfortable and filled with pillows, and she musingly smoothed over the covers. Warm, soft, safe: if a little lonely.
Plays:
Artemis D'Assanthe, Dawnmaster
Udhana, the Kinless
Dhovainithil, Silver Elf
Jhasira of the Bai Kabor, Dawnbringer (deceased)

User avatar
Copper Dragon
Posts: 528
Joined: Tue Dec 01, 2015 12:11 pm
Location: GMT +1

Postby Copper Dragon » Mon Nov 14, 2016 10:17 pm

Lost and Found

It writhed and contorted helplessly.

It twisted, turned, bent backwards at impossible angles only to beat itself against the cold stone, seeking relief.

She picked up the tiny earthworm and paused, watching as it writhed more in her warm palm in vain.

The blonde girl smiled. It's going to be all right, friend. She walked across the courtyard to the rose bushes, looking for a nice spot to set the worm down, and dropped it tenderly. She smiled wider when she saw that the pink earthworm's contortions were replaced by spirited crawling into the soil.

“Lady Artemis. What are you doing?”

The girl looked up to the the middle-aged, balding chamberlain and stood upright. “Nothing, Sergio.”

“You can play in the garden, but you are beyond playing in the dirt.”

“Yes.”

Sergio smiled.

“How do lemoncakes sound just now, little lady?”

The girl smiled wider than the courtyard itself. “Oh yes! Please!”

“Wash your hands then, and please follow me.”

Playing in the dirt, touching worms, it might have felt filthy indeed.

She followed inside. Passing through the archway she ended up in the dormitory, where she was much taller and much more grown, and the sun beat down on her bed in the shared room meant for six novices. Despite the change, there were still lemoncakes... in a basket...

“Bellidad! What are you doing here?” I exclaimed, seeing the boy – the young man – that held the basket; and who was grabbing a sweet from it just then! “So many lemoncakes!”

“Hey there, ho there! These are mine, lady acolyte,” Bellidad grinned and stuffed half a cake in.

I scoffed and tried to pry one of the sweets from him. He grinned broader still, the nerve, and stood upright to lift the basket far above and out of my reach.

“Is that any way for a lady Dawnbringer-to-be to act?” he chided.

“Is that any way for a want-to-be knight to act? You'll never be allowed in the Order with this misconduct. Give one!” I tried to reach the basket, to no avail, as Belli easily withstood my storm. I clicked my tongue and lifted my chin.

He smirked and lowered the basket to offer it to me, “Actually, these are all for you. I wanted to see you smile... and turn fat.”

“Please.” I looked to the basket gingerly and picked out a lemoncake with three fingers; keeping my hands as clean as possible. I gave him a puzzled glance, though. “Why really?”

Bellidad shrugged with a smile. His sun-tanned skin was smooth, his jawline the ladies' weakness, especially with the two-day stubbles. He was a good and good-looking friend, that's for certain. He admitted, “Going on an excursion with the Order, Lake Weng's way, then probably into the mountains. Think that means four months or five. If I can't entertain you that long, might as well feed you to the point that no one else will want to lay eyes on you either.”

“Ha, ha.”

I pursed my lips.

“That's such a shame,” I said. I nibbled at the lemoncake. “You will miss the next fraternity party.”

“You will have to chug all the more on my behalf.”

Bellidad!”

“That did not befit a knight, I apologise. You'll chug on my behalf, 'my lady'.”

“Ugh, you're a nightmare. Where are you going?”

“Come, I want to show you the new training dummies. One of them looks just like sir Jossos.”

She rolled her eyes and calmly treaded in his step. The sweet-smelling and sunny dorm made way for damp darkness and the uncomely airs of a large home long abandoned... not the D'Assanthe estate... someplace else. She had to wash her hands.

“She does not have to see this, Dawnlord,” sir Jossos said the words through clenched teeth, his jaw set tight.

The Dawnlord leading the small contingent gave sir Jossos a look, but turned to me next measuringly.

I held the lantern aloft for our group. My hands felt grimey from the trek here.

Stone walls reached high around us, and stone columns once elegant and now overgrown surrounded us left and right. With how some walls had crumbled, and some tall windows fully covered by vegetation, it was darker in here, despite having been once a place of light. A place of glory and majesty... now asleep.

No. Not asleep. Simply lost to time.

“She's only Awakened,” sir Jossos pressed, and I could sense he was teeming with anger.

“She must and she will.”

I had been granted orisons from our Lord Lathander by the time I had come with this delegation. Indeed, it was because I was recognised as having been gifted His blessings – favours in the form of divine magic, the first ring of spells – that I was allowed, even persuaded, to come visit this site. Many preachers only spoke the word of the gods; I had the privilege to carry it, to manifest it to a spark. Our purpose here was for me to learn more of the Morninglord's rites, in such an old place of His.

The Dawnlord glared at me and waved me over. Being the lantern-bearer, I walked forth briskly. He eyed me intently before putting a hand on my shoulder and moving forward with me into the north-side hall, where even less light trickled in.

At that time, it felt like light had never touched this hall.

Step by step the lantern revealed stonework; more tall pillars. A few statues of Lathander stood on each side, cracked, their brass rings tarnished. The floor's indistinct blackness reluctantly gave way to the light we brought, but it seemed like there was precious little seen, or worth seeing. I glanced back to the Dawnlord, and he motioned ahead for me to go first. I bowed my head and examined a low heap of rubble to step over.

There was a scraping sound, like metal against stone. I slowed and swayed the lantern gently.

A weak slap on the marble floor. I frowned, not quite placing the noise. Behind me, the Dawnlord and retinue were waiting, and so I stepped forward.

As the lantern light washed over him, he writhed and contorted helplessly.

The Dawnbringers make a valiant attempt to keep good faith and hope – often in the form of focus on optimism and good; on the heroic tales and the things that inspire us.

His form twisted, turned, bent backwards at impossible angles only to beat himself against the cold stone, seeking relief.

Meeting my eyes with a dead one.

Even within the clergy, this practice is used – for most preachers. Those that set out to meet Evil though; those that are granted blessings from the Morninglord, – keeping the acolyte gullible is not functional.

My knees buckled.

“Do not look away, Artemis.”

Bellidad looked up at me, his armour foul with gore, dust and blood that long dried.

Have you ever felt your heart break in twine, Dawnbringer? Kallian's voice, from a different place, a different time.

Just once, yes...

Just this once.

She woke slowly and exhaled. She pondered... This was the day, yes. They tried to teach her in this way, and to some degree they succeeded. But it was not as if they coaxed her into this, how could they? She chose willingly to follow this path and to train against Lathander's one, greatest, harshest, truest foe – the Unliving. It was a lesson meant only for the Dawnbringers that carried with them the god's spells, for they had the means and the duty to be able to face these abominations. But they did all in their might to keep her safe and optimistic in all other aspects; they shared so little, next to nothing, of goblins and orcs and the travesties of mankind. To her, for the longest time, only a few things seemed to be truly horrendous. But she learned along the way, and most of it in the few recent years.
Plays:
Artemis D'Assanthe, Dawnmaster
Udhana, the Kinless
Dhovainithil, Silver Elf
Jhasira of the Bai Kabor, Dawnbringer (deceased)

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Copper Dragon
Posts: 528
Joined: Tue Dec 01, 2015 12:11 pm
Location: GMT +1

Postby Copper Dragon » Tue Nov 29, 2016 5:18 pm

Conflict of Interest

The Reverie was once more especially difficult to find. The more she interacted with humans and the less with elves, this alien trance seemed more subdued, harder to grasp, one could think. She understood that that was not quite the reason for her struggle however. It was because her thoughts were dominated by one conflict in particular.

You were kissed by a murderer.

The water lapped as I leaned back in the tub.

The bath was scathing hot and steam rose up in swirls. It was soothing. Cleansing.

This was a recent memory, so recent and so vivid that it could have felt like the present itself, yet it knew a dream-like quality to it. As if she was split in two. Uktar... Year of the Wyvern... Shadows of other events tried to mingle into this one but failed.

“Melodramatic,” my physical voice murmured to the internal one. I rested my arms on the tub's rim and craned my neck back to watch the ceiling. While I seemed collected, there was a subtle, dark sensation that seeped into my limbs.

You have seen him kill a man in boiling blood. You know him to have done it before.

“That man served the Maiden of Misfortune, preached her cruelty. Let a child die for her. The Blackfinger's death was unseemly, but it prevented further tragedy.”

There had been another way.

“There had. And I regret I could not stop him.”

Do you not regret this?

The tingling settled, cool and foul, in my fingertips hanging on either side of the tub. I sat upright again slowly and washed my arms, the heat of the water doing me good. The rose petals and the singular candle's light floating on the water's surface were pleasing to the eye, and I was grateful for my luxuries.

The nameless discomfort that lingered around me could not be washed off, however. It was a feeling of responsibility and pride – and the doubt of coming short of them.

“No...”

...But you are afraid.

“I am. But not of him. I can help him; I wish to and I will. Instead... I am afraid of, uncertain of, the wisdom in permitting the idea of courtship.”

He needs someone to believe in him; this betrayer, a bastard, the butcher. And despite what he has told me of his origins – and sincerely, because of it – I do believe in him. I believe in his will to overcome what circumstance had sculpted of him.

But a desire to restore a man does not equal love.
Plays:
Artemis D'Assanthe, Dawnmaster
Udhana, the Kinless
Dhovainithil, Silver Elf
Jhasira of the Bai Kabor, Dawnbringer (deceased)

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Copper Dragon
Posts: 528
Joined: Tue Dec 01, 2015 12:11 pm
Location: GMT +1

Postby Copper Dragon » Sun Jan 01, 2017 12:46 am

Bliss

These were the last days of Nightal, the last days of the year. Her days felt so full that she decided she would enter the Reverie. Not because she needed escape from sleep: her reasons were entirely pragmatic. Supposedly, she would require less hours of rest this way than through normal sleep... supposedly, she could be up on her feet sooner so that she could get back to work again.

Such was not how the Elfin Sleep demanded to be treated. But after the second attempt it yielded, perhaps one could even say it rewarded her if it were in any way a sentience; something that graciously forgave her using this trance as some tool to save time. Was it made possible because of the increased number of Elven wanderers near the city, unbeknownst to her? Did the Elven presence bring with it a more powerful compulsion, a spell upon the land? Would any scholar truly know, any Elf truly reveal? Or was this merely the fruit of a year's practice? It mattered not. Gentle came the visions, swimming among unseen stars, singing on smooth, soundless voices...

The blurred image of a Dalesman appeared, one of dark hair and pale blue eyes; eyes that were often grim or avoided anyone else's, but they met hers now, they smiled. In some fleeting memory he looked surprised, in a good way, before time and the image leapt forward to where he seemed so sad and so glad at the same time that her heart could break and mend in one.

She watched him walk away, down his own road, but she knew that he would not be lost, neither on the path nor lost to her.

In his stead more people sank into existence like ink in a cup of water, gaining form and life. People that dwelled among stone walls, people that were also N'Tel'Quessir, or Non-People, but each beautiful to her: there was the holy warrior who had once loved a red rose and now protected a white one, and at whose side stood strong and undefeatable a holy woman; there was the proud and sly visage of a woman with wine red hair and black attire; the sellsword that mastered all words deplorable but hid a friend's warmth underneath; there was the raven-haired woman, haunting and ethereal as the hearts she could read; the mountain of an orc-blooded man; the quick-footed halfling; the sailor of the stars; a painter from the beginning of her world; all these and a few more yet in the city's streets, lights and shadows...

From those shadows, the Elf of faded blue hair seemed to shimmer forth... From the blue skies a blue cloak whipped about enveloping a woodswoman that guarded her charge well, and beside her the woman whose words and wit were as much art as her weapons; down the path a sunrise tower in whom a warrior and a priest greeted the dawn...

Her thoughts stretched far, flew beyond mountains, woodlands and coasts to a different world: they sought one more figure, a compelling, irresistable influence steering her this way. To find something blue as sapphire...

She smiled and bid the Reverie to heed her wish, and exceptionally heed her wish it did – so strong was her joy upon sight of the previous images, and so longing she was of the next. This search for the sapphire was laid to rest. Instead, from the haze of starlight and sunshine, the frame of a tenacious swordsman emerged; on his war-worn face, peace.

She saw him and saw them all: the people that brought her happiness. Each were on their own paths and yet together as a masterfully, almost divinely orchestrated whole. She saw their smiles, whether these had been worn long ago or in recent days – and she knew bliss.

What a year this was.
Plays:
Artemis D'Assanthe, Dawnmaster
Udhana, the Kinless
Dhovainithil, Silver Elf
Jhasira of the Bai Kabor, Dawnbringer (deceased)

User avatar
Copper Dragon
Posts: 528
Joined: Tue Dec 01, 2015 12:11 pm
Location: GMT +1

Postby Copper Dragon » Tue Jan 17, 2017 9:59 pm

Let It Pour

The contentment she felt from the Reverie was not only welcome, it was addictive. How could it not be? Like sweets for a child, so worked these kinder visions on a mind that was still child-like in experience with its acquaintance with the Elves' gift. After such gentle dreams she chose the Reverie over sleep eve after eve, no longer only for the practical boons of saving herself hours of rest, but to find a realm of warm and good things, of beauty and gladness.

She eased into it like one enters a pool, and heard, felt and smelled the rain...


Inside, by the fireplace, Wynna and I sat each with a cup of mulled wine to heat our hands and throats.

She had such intelligent, bright eyes and so much wariness and tiredness behind them. I admired her work, her brilliance with the quill and her wits when I saw her in her natural terrain - in any ruins that needed her investigation. Our conversation was of grim subjects, alas, but if I could spark a smile on her cheeks I would.

I thought to have heard something and glanced to the window. Was that...?

She just spoke, “I won't be cowed, but I will certainly take steps –” She paused to listen and follow my look.

It was raining. Finally after months of stubborn winter unorthodox in its length, there was a patter on my home's windows outside.

I smiled brightly but Wynna was the first to comment on it. “Huh.”

“There's little else I would keep you here for, though I'll be glad to have more chances to speak.” I stood and gestured for the door, “Now, I'm of mind to walk; to see mayhaps the Sailor's Star or the Crowning Glory, and what friends it holds today. Will you be walking home?”

“That sounds fine,” Wynna commented as we walked to the front door with me. She paused and decided, “I should go to the Square and enjoy the rain.”

I opened the door. I opened the world –

It fell apart with thunder. Terror crashed down around her like a mighty wave around a mighty rock.

“What will you achieve?”

A deep voice, all the resonances of dread shaking the distance between It and them. It spoke their tongue, and it seemed simultaneously a physical and mental occurrence. In her mind, and in the world.

The shift from the last memory to the new one was sudden. That Mirtul eve with rainfall and this Nightal day were linked irrevocably together by one thing; something that had boomed and cracked the Triadic Temple those moons ago, and something that was going to return promising an end to all.

“Your actions are meaningless.” It began to walk. Fire sprung up at the moment of impact between its limbs and the ground.

This was it. This was It: the creature whose second coming they had braced for. It towered above the gates as if it was meant to swallow them and the dark skies which loomed behind it. She had never seen its like and knew that she never would again.

It was a monster that was forced to be contained in a physical form but was not meant to be; something that was to be boundless and free and ever-changing, wicked and incomprehensible. They had given it a name, but It was beyond such things. Was it not? A nameless doom, a madness, a havoc.

She watched it unfurl its wings, spreading across the clouds.

Lathander. Do You see us?

Fear and sheer seething evil washed over the city square, and she stood straight and those next to her – the defenders – stood just as readily. The Daemon Prince burned through the gates and roared, but they did not run.

We are not meaningless. We will achieve.

Something new begins today my Lord, one way or another. Please help me bring them victory. Please help and let them see tomorrow.


But instead of her beloved Morninglord's voice, she heard warcries.

The roar of fire.

The screams of death.

Whether it was rain or blood pouring, she let herself be soaked in it and fought.

The memories rattled through her, crashing through the peaceful Reverie of the past days and demanding to be witnessed in their full visceral rawness. She had been given peaceful dreams before and suppressed this otherworldly encounter in favour of keeping herself busy, but it could not last forever. She had tried to devote her days in full to everyone else, to push others and herself, to work through the damage this event had caused to the city and ignore the damage it caused her. It was wrong, she knew it, but she did not act on it.

As if in retaliation for her blissful misuse of the Reverie, the pain, noise, colours, emotions of this nightmare came to envelop her. They came trying to consume her. What she had chosen to neglect now demanded her tenfold, like ravenous beasts wanting to be free of their cage. She felt like if she did not resist, she would break apart under the images.

Then, in the midst of it all, a conversation with the one Elf that she yearned to call friend came to her, clear and true through the cacophony.


“Don't pander to what human folk expect of you, they will never grow beyond the years of children.”

“If I start to cry, I'm afraid I won't stop.” A pause, then softly the female voice said, “What good would I do then? Whom would that serve?”

“You will surely stop. Would you cry through a kiss?”

She suddenly laughed. “I – would not know until I try.”

“If you want to embrace your elven side then you should know most live loudly. We laugh, we cry, we rage; we do not hide how we feel. Those formalities are human rites born of young minds who live fast and don't have time for understanding.”

She relaxed her grip in the maelstrom. She let out – or was it in? – the wild and unfiltered experiences. The shrieks and bellows grew louder, the battle around her more savage and exhausting as fiend and mortals did their utmost to stop each other. It almost felt more real than it had when it had happened, her friends and allies fighting, failing, falling, getting up again, and then –


And then I looked out the open door into the square, watching the peculiar evening rainfall with Wynna. A tension I did not realise I had felt lifted, and the serenity and quiet of the rain filled me – the sound, soothing, flowed through me. Even sunshine must give way to skywater to feed the soil and the seeds.

And I stepped outside to enjoy the rain; to let it pour.
Plays:
Artemis D'Assanthe, Dawnmaster
Udhana, the Kinless
Dhovainithil, Silver Elf
Jhasira of the Bai Kabor, Dawnbringer (deceased)


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