Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Luminous Heart [Pending Title]

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts
  • Class: {{esusrinfo_class423105}}
    Level: {{esusrinfo_level423105}}
    Guild Name: {{esusrinfo_guild423105}}

    #16
    Oof. This one was hard.

    Illipia had not spoken a word since Takeshi’s sacrifice. She did not even pray, for every time she knelt, clasped her hands and closed her eyes she could hear a dark whisper drown her prayers. Was she being led astray? Had her Goddess forsaken her knowing that she grieved over one mortal life?

    She had seen many deaths in her time on this world. But they were all faceless strangers. Mortals that she never had the chance nor the desire to know. Some may have told her their name at some point, but she never committed them to memory. She thought nothing of the corpses she stepped over in the ancient Elrian Kingdom or the savage lands to the south of Xin.

    But these men she knew. They were the first mortals she spent enough time to learn about them. She knew that Chandragupta was a hopeless romantic and would likely remain a bachelor for the rest of his life. Xheng Zian, for all his boisterous posturing, was a walking disaster when it came to cooking.

    And Haan… She held no special feelings towards the man, but she found his presence to be calming. She did not require his martial skills to guarantee her safety, she could take care of herself. Rather it was his quiet gaze that told you he was listening when you spoke to him and his blunt honesty that was delivered with deliberate words. He was true to himself, and it showed. She found some measure of comfort in that.

    And there was one more thing. “Lady Illipia. May I have a moment of your time?”

    “Of course, Sir Haan. How can I be of service?” The group had stopped to rest in a small cave on the mountain.

    He set down his weapons and sat on the ground, beckoning her to sit with him. She obliged and sat down next to him, barely an arm’s length away. “Are you alright?”

    Illipia looked at the stony ground. “... I’m unharmed, Sir Haan. And the climb hasn’t been too difficult. At our current pace, we will reach your village by tomorrow.”

    Haan gave her a hard look. “... You haven’t spoken a word since-”

    “Please… Sir Haan. I’m alright.” She did not want to hear it. Just the mere mention of that event would summon those dark whispers.

    “Lady Illipia, forgive my persistence, but you are not alright. A shadow hangs over you, I can feel it.”

    She shook her head. “No, I am uninjured and rested. Let us continue our climb.” She made to stand, but a firm hand grabbed her wrist. It was a strong grip, but not painful.

    “Please, a few more moments.” She sat back down and he released her wrist.. “I do not wish to presume. Tell me, what troubles you, Lady Illipia?”

    The whispers began to hiss. “... Death, Sir Haan.”

    “I see. Takeshi’s death?”

    The whispers grew louder. “... Yes.”

    “Do you grieve for him, Lady Illipia?”

    “I…” She could not grieve for a mortal life after seeing so many pass. But this one life, Takeshi’s life, felt precious, making the loss far more painful than she imagined it would be. “I have seen death in my prior travels. Everywhere. But it never made me feel so… afraid before.”

    Haan looked at her. “Afraid? Do you fear death, Lady Illipia?”

    She met his gaze. “... No. Not as one like you would anyways.”

    He narrowed his eyes in confusion. “ I don’t follow.”

    Illipia took a deep breath. The whispers were louder now, and she began feeling irritated. She felt her grasp on her facade slip. “Must I explain this to you, Sir Haan?” she said sharply. “I fear not my own death. I fear for yours. And Chandragupta’s. And Xheng Zian’s.” She began to shout. “I am not like you! I love life! I love the light! Death should not come for life! Even if life shines brighter against it, I hate death! Why did he have to die like that!?”

    Chandragupta and Xheng Zian stared at Illipia, surprised. Haan said nothing. And then his hand reached for her shoulder and gripped it gently. “Lady Illipia, what you just said tells me you are more like us than you think.” She looked at him, confused. “We too fear for the lives of our friends. We would fear for the death of others we do not know as well. But what would that accomplish?” He gave her shoulder a small squeeze. “Fear drives us to do both the incredible and the terrible. It can be dangerous to always live in fear. To fear for the death of all is to fear life. To fear for the death of those you love is to cherish what time you have with them.”

    Haan looked to the other warriors and they smiled. “We are but small men in this large world. We can fight to change what we can, and we understand that there is much we cannot do. But if we were to lament on how small we are we cannot touch the lives of those closest to us. Death gives our lives meaning. Fear drives us to live our lives as best we can for those we love, so that when our time comes we need not be afraid anymore.”

    He moved his hand to her opposite shoulder and pulled her into a small embrace. “Alone, fear only grows fear. Together, fear cultivates courage. If we live our lives for one another, we shall stand against that fear of death when it comes. We are brave because we are afraid. And if you are afraid, Lady Illipia...”

    “... I must be brave,” she finished. The whisper, at last, faded. She heaved a relieved sigh. “Thank you, Sir Haan.”

    “Of course, Lady Illipia.” He released her and stood. He offered his hand to her. This was the other thing she liked about this man. He was attentive and prepared to lend whatever assistance he could when it was needed. His words, even the blasphemous ones, had enriched her perspective.

    She took his hand and began to realize something. She was more like these mortals than she believed. All this time, she saw herself as more than them. But it was that eternal life that blinded her to what life, perhaps, truly was. For all her worship of life and light, she had not truly lived.

    Because she never felt this ready to face down death. She never felt so ready to live.

    Comment

    • Class: {{esusrinfo_class423412}}
      Level: {{esusrinfo_level423412}}
      Guild Name: {{esusrinfo_guild423412}}

      #17
      We made it to Fahrmann! Yay!
      The party reached Fahrmann Village at last. While Shisui’s ‘mudhole’ comment was certainly rude, this village was a far cry from the splendor of the valley. The homes were modest, made from wood and stone and there were sakura trees scattered about the village. But there was a distinct scent of cherry blossoms and crisp, mountain moisture in the air that seemed to energize the party’s tired legs.

      Haan led the way. “Welcome to my home. Let me introduce you to everyone.” The villagers were at first wary of the visitors but quickly rushed out to meet them once they recognized Haan was among them.

      Every single one stared at Illipia. She was unlike anything they had seen before with her blond hair that seemed to glow azure. Her pale skin, her bright clothes, everything about her was exotic and mysterious to them. She was used to these gazes. She had endured them as she traveled through the valley to see the Emperor. But she never paid them mind.

      Now, she watched their faces, noting the wonder in their expressions, the young ones especially.The children were entranced by her. She smiled and beckoned to a young girl in the back. The child walked up to her slowly and looked at the priestess’ face, awestruck. “What is your name, child?” Illipia asked kneeling down..

      The child’s mouth fell open. Illipia could see her thoughts through her eyes. She can talk?! The little girl stuttered. “U-U-Um… M-M-M-My-My name is… Xianghua…”

      “Xianghua? That is such a lovely name. My name is Illipia.” Xianghua was enthralled by Illipia. Out of all the curious children that surrounded her, she had been picked out to give the beautiful foreigner her name.

      Illipia noticed Xianghua shifted her gaze to her cross. The ornate, white cross emblazoned on the silver pendant was yet another foreign wonder to her. Illipia saw two small twigs and a short length of twine at her feet. She picked them up and under Xianghua’s wide gaze she tied the two twigs together into the shape of a cross. Illipia smiled and held out the handmade cross to the young girl. “This is for you.”

      Xianghua took the gift gently and cradled it in her hands. She looked at her new cross and then back up to Illipia. “What is it?”

      Illipia cupped her hands around Xianghua’s. “This is a cross. If you hold it close and pray, someone will hear your wishes.”

      Xianghua eyes lit up. “Really?! Someone like Drabaki?”

      Illipia’s mood instantly soured, but she held her smile. She had forgotten that these people worshipped the serpent still. They had yet to hear of their mission to kill the beast. But she couldn’t bring herself to say it to this child. “Yes, someone like Drabaki.” She stood. “Keep it safe, Xianghua. May your light shine bright.” Xianghua was speechless. The little girl nodded and quickly ran back to the other children where they all asked to see her gift.

      She heard Haan call for her. “Illipia.” She turned to face him. He and the others looked ready to move on from the gathering. “My home is past the sakura trees. We will be resting there for our stay here. Join us.”

      “Of course, Sir Haan.” As she walked over to them, she overheard some whispers. Many were curious as to her relationship to the warrior. She considered it a fair curiosity, but chose to ignore them.

      The party ascended a set of stone steps that climbed to another level of the village. As they stepped off the stairs, they were greeted by the sight of a modest temple and attached home, as well as a beautiful young woman with long black hair.

      She bowed to the party. “Greetings, you must be Haan’s friends. I am Chunhua.”

      Xheng Zian stroked his chin. “Oho… You really caught yourself a fine woman, Haan.” Haan blushed.

      Chunhua looked to Illipia. “Do forgive me, but are you a foreigner?”

      Illipia bowed back to her. “Yes. I come from a land far beyond Xin on an important mission.”

      Chunhua looked concerned. “Mission? What mission?” She looked to her beloved who stepped forward.

      “Let us discuss this inside. My friends are tired and need rest. I’ll explain everything then.” He gently took her hands into his.

      Chunhua smiled and leaned into him. “Very well, my love.” She beckoned to the rest. “Please, come inside. I’ll prepare tea and futons. Stay as long as you need.”

      The others bowed graciously and thanked her for the hospitality. Before Illipia stepped over the threshold, she paused and looked down upon the village. She watched the people, looking for something; Something to justify what she came to this land to do.

      But she couldn’t see it. Not from here. She stepped over the threshold into Haan’s home.

      She couldn’t see the despair to justify taking these people’s god from them.
      I want to apologize for the delay with this update. Something potentially exciting came up over these past couple of days and may updates may slow because of it. For now, I will continue to try and give you daily updates. More to come!

      Comment

      • Class: {{esusrinfo_class424166}}
        Level: {{esusrinfo_level424166}}
        Guild Name: {{esusrinfo_guild424166}}

        #18
        So sorry for the delay!
        The party now rested in Haan’s modest home. After a warm and hearty meal and warm tea the Xin residents moved to the adjacent temple to meditate, leaving Illipia alone in the dining room. She looked at the bare walls of Haan’s home, questions abound in her mind.

        Her Goddess had told her that the great serpent, Drabaki, held in it a terrible wish. A wish to ascend and obtain the divine powers to raze Xin to the ground. The monster was evil, not benevolent. Its kindness was a lie. Its wisdom was malevolent.

        Its heart was dark.

        That was the truth as her Goddess saw it. And Illipia believed in this. So why was she hesitant in the face of these people? Her mission was to free the land of Xin from the hidden machinations of a terrible beast the native people believed their god. She was the righteous one. The one in the right.

        So why was she still hesitant? The faces of the villagers flashed through her mind. Their joy, curiosity, their courtesy, all of it she remembered. Lives built on a lie. When she succeeded in her mission and Drabaki was slain, would their faces change?

        It was at this moment the others returned from their meditations. The men were exhausted and retired to their rooms to rest. She bade them good night and moved to the porch where she sat, staring at the stars.

        She had to steel herself, for tomorrow they would begin their final ascent to the peak where Drabaki meditated. She could not afford to hesitate now! And yet…

        “Lady Illipia?” She turned to face Chunhua. She must have just seen Haan to bed.

        Illipia smiled softly. “Yes, Lady Chunhua?”

        Chunhua shook her head. “Please, call me Chunhua. Forgive me, but I am not very used to being spoken to so formally.” She let out a nervous giggle.

        “Of course, La- Excuse me. Chunhua, then. And please, call me Illipia. I hear enough formality from your betrothed”

        She giggled with a dusting of rose on her cheeks. “Very well, Illipia. May I join you?”

        Illipia slid over to make room. “Of course.”

        “Thank you.” The Xin woman sat herself down next to the priestess. The two women sat in silence for a moment. “May I ask something of you, Illipia?”

        “Of course.”

        Chunhua looked to the stars. “What land do you hail from? Even without Haan telling me, I can tell you are not of Xin.”

        Illipia toyed with her explanations silently. “I come from across the ocean to the west.”

        Chunhua looked at the Illipia with wide eyes. “Across the sea? You’ve traveled far to reach our land. What is your home like?”

        Illipia hesitated for a moment. She had, in truth, not seen her true home in… well, a long time. She could barely remember it. She hailed from the plane that her Goddess inhabited, but since her creation she had not once returned save for the rare occasion for consultation. The only part of her home she could remember was the golden throne and the immediate space it sat in. Not that would tell the mortal her true origins anyways.

        “My home is a small abbey hidden in the hills. If you look out the window in the tower you can see over the hills and watch the plains sway in the wind. It is like seeing an ocean of grass.”

        Chunhua was enraptured by the story. She had probably rarely, if ever, left the mountain. To hear of a place like that must be like hearing someone explain a dream to her. “It sounds like a beautiful place.”

        “It is. And this land is beautiful, as well. I’m not terribly used to climbing mountains, but I must say it feels wonderful to conquer these peaks.”

        Chunhua giggled. “Yes. Many of us have speed climbing competitions. Haan said you were quite capable of climbing though.”

        Illipia laughed. “Even with his approval, I doubt I will be attempting such a competition anytime soon.”

        “It isn’t for everyone, that is certain. I much prefer to keep my feet on the ground.” They laughed and then fell silent again.

        Illipia broke it this time. “May ask something of you, as well, Chunhua?”

        “Please.”

        Illipia’s gaze flitted to the village below. “... Do… Do you love the Great Serpent, Drabaki?”

        Chunhua gave her a curious look. “Yes, as does everyone in this village. Why do you ask?”

        “... I… My faith is not the same as yours. I worship a goddess not of our plane.” Illipia looked at the Xin woman. “I… find it hard to believe that a mortal creature could have the same intentions of a god.”

        Chunhua broke eye contact and her gaze shifted to the ground. “... I think I can understand that stance. May I ask what your faith entails, Illipia?”

        Illipia felt a tiny surge of excitement well up inside her. “Of course!” She set her hand on her pendant. “I follow the faith of the Goddess, Ishmael, the creator of this world.”

        Chunhua let out an impressed breath. “Oh? She created the world?”

        Illipia nodded. “Yes. It was her wish to see life flourish and the El granted her this by creating the world, Elrios.”

        “Is that what the world outside is called?”

        “Yes. It is a wonderful place, filled with people like me and even more unlike me.”

        Chunhua was enjoying the story very much, but she shook her head. “Forgive me, Ilipia. I took us on a tangent.”

        Illipia giggled. “It’s all right, Chunhua. Anyways, my Goddess was the one responsible for bringing Elrios to life. But…” Her voice lowered. “Not all is perfect. Death and darkness are my Goddess’ foes, and she desires to see life and light to shine eternal. But her will is not enough for this. So she asks her followers to pray for the darkness to one day fall to the light, so that we may all know love and happiness free from fear.”

        Chunhua was silent for a few moments. She was the first one Illipia had shared this much about her own religion, too. Not even the men she traveled with were told this much as they never openly asked.

        Chunhua’s gaze met Illipia’s. “Illipia, I see that your faith is one that desires for all to be happy. I do see this. But…” Illipia forced herself to not frown. “I can’t help but feel that it is… antagonistic.”

        Had these words been spoken to the Celestial before she came to this land, she would have smote the mouth that spoke them on the spot. But now, doubt stayed her hand. Instead, she said, “Antagonistic? How do you figure that, Chunhua?” The words lacked venom, but were still sharp.

        Chunhua flinched slightly at them. “Well, for all that your faith claims to promote love and happiness it yet asks for you and its followers to wish for the unmaking of concepts that do not align with it. Forgive me, Illipia, but it… just doesn’t sound right.”

        Illipia relaxed her jaw. She didn’t realize she had set it.

        She didn’t immediately answer. Hearing this opinion on her faith, the very thing that empowered her for so long, was… jarring. When Chunhua put it that way, it made sense objectively. For her to worship life and light by cursing death and darkness was contradictory. Life and light as concepts were loving and tolerant, and yet her Goddess demanded that those that followed her to be hateful and intolerant, even if it was towards only specific ideas.

        She finally formed a response. “... I… I have never… thought of it like that, Chunhua. I hope this doesn’t make you think any less of me.”

        Chunhua shook her head. “Not at all, Illipia. I have only known you briefly, but I can see a heart in you much like our Great Serpent: kind and compassionate.”

        Illipia looked at the Xin woman, surprise and relief in her gaze. “... Do you… really mean that?”

        “Yes. I do. The way you walk, the way you look at the people, the way Haan has spoken of you, all of it tells me you are a truly good person. I won’t say you follow the wrong path. You simply follow one that you must believe is right. And that is nothing but incredible, Illipia.”

        Illipia felt a warmth grow in her chest. Even if she didn’t agree with her core values, Chunhua still saw her as a person truly good. As someone she could trust.

        She giggled. “I can see why Sir Haan is so taken with you, Chunhua. He is truly blessed to have someone like you in his life.”

        Chunhua blushed. “Ah… Thank you, Illipia.” She then stood and bowed. “Thank you again for indulging me, Illipia. I must be off to bed. You should get some rest as well.”

        “I will. Thank you, Chunhua. May your light shine bright.”

        “And yours, Illipia. Good night.” Chunhua finally left the Celestial alone. She looked back to the sky to think more on their conversation, but she beheld approaching storm clouds. She had enough time to fully rest before they would arrive.

        But her doubts would have to wait.
        Last edited by GirgeFE-solace-; 09-15-2019, 10:09 PM.

        Comment

        • Class: {{esusrinfo_class424706}}
          Level: {{esusrinfo_level424706}}
          Guild Name: {{esusrinfo_guild424706}}

          #19
          Sorry for being so late! I actually had a potential freelance writing gig cross my table and I was working on my samples for the job. Back to the story!

          The storm reached the mountain by sunrise the following day. While it lacked howling winds and flood-threatening rain, lightning still cut the sky and the resulting thunder sent rumbles through the meager, Fahrmann homes. The warriors decided with Illipia to delay their ascent until the storm subsided. They did not want to risk losing one of them to a fatal slip on wet rock.

          It was during this discussion that they told Chunhua of their mission. She listened quietly, but Illipia noticed her hands balling into fists. She looked at Illipia. “... Did your… Goddess bestow this revelation to you, Illipia?” There was an edge to her words, bordering on accusal.

          Illipia tried hard not to flinch. “No…” She shook her head. After their conversation the previous night, Illipia knew where Chunhua stood on the topic of her Goddess. A lie was necessary. “Rather, it was a vision granted by the El itself. My Goddess bade me to hurry here so that we could avert the coming disaster.”

          Chunhua’s gaze softened slightly. Haan set a hand on hers. “Chunhua… The Emperor has tasked us with hunting down Drabaki. Once the serpent has fallen, we will bring its empowered blood to him. He will inherit its power and continue to watch over us.” She clasped his hand and set her jaw. She eventually nodded, accepting the inevitable.

          She retired to the temple to meditate, leaving the party to discuss their next move. “That went better than expected,” Chandragupta whispered.

          Haan gave him a hard look. “Chunhua, as well as the other villagers love Drabaki. To tell them that the serpent is actually evil is to break their hearts. Were we not all skeptical when we first heard it?”

          Xheng Zian nodded in agreement. “True. The Emperor bade us to carry out his wish, and we cannot refuse. Guess we got used to the idea in the time it took us to arrive here.” He glanced at Illipia. “Not to mention our precious priestess has won our hearts over the course of this journey.”

          They laughed to ease the lingering tension. Now Xheng Zian looked at the rain outside. “But if we are to carry out our mission, this storm must subside. It’s too risky to ascend to the peak while the sky cries like this.”

          “Indeed,” Haan agreed. “And Drabaki’s ascent should be happening any day now. This storm is going to make us cut it awfully close.”

          Illipia stood. “Perhaps I can be of some assistance.”

          The others looked at her, bemused. “How so, Lady Illipia?” Chandragupta asked.

          She clasped a hand around her cross. “I can pray to my Goddess to allow the storm to pass quickly. She can exert her influence in such ways.” They looked unimpressed with her suggestion.

          Except Haan. “Are you certain?”

          “Yes. I will have to venture out into the storm to pray, but I assure you my Goddess will bring it to an end.”

          The others looked at each other silently for some moments. Then they nodded.

          “Then we’ll leave it to you. Here…” Xheng Zian offered her an umbrella. “To keep you dry.”

          She accepted it gladly. “Thank you, Sir Xheng Zian. I will be back soon.” She made to leave, but noticed Haan gathering his weapons out of the corner of her eye. “Sir Haan? What are you doing?”

          “Someone should go with you, just in case.”

          She held up a hand and shook her head. “Please, Sir Haan. I would like to show you that my Goddess watches over me always. She will see me back safe and the storm abated. Please, allow me to perform this task alone.”

          He watched her with an even stare and eventually set his gear back down and returned to the table. “As you wish, Lady Illipia. Be safe.”

          “Thank you, Sir Haan. I will see you all again soon, under clear skies.” She stepped out into the storm, opened the umbrella and took a deep breath.

          She had an appointment to keep.

          Comment

          • Class: {{esusrinfo_class424736}}
            Level: {{esusrinfo_level424736}}
            Guild Name: {{esusrinfo_guild424736}}

            #20
            Two in one night! Gotta make up for all those missed days!

            The rain pelted the umbrella, dripping off the edges in liquid tendrils. The occasional lightning would illuminate the valley miles below, and the thunder would overwhelm the pitter-patter of the raindrops.

            Illipia held the umbrella until she was out of sight of the village. Once she confirmed no curious eyes were watching she folded it and shook it dry. But she did not become soaked by the rain. No, a film of El coated her body, shielding her from the storm. For her to succeed she was required to remain human. Humans could not perform the feats she was capable of, and that had to remain a secret.

            She called on the power of the El to lift her and carry her to a nearby ridge. There, she was greeted by a voice she had not heard in literal ages. “Sister, you finally made it.” As Illipia’s feet touched the ground she turned to face the figure standing in the shadow of the cliff.

            “Raul, you’re late.” A flash of lightning cut the sky and illuminated the woman in the shadows. She was tall, lean, her long, electric blue hair was tightly wound into a braid. She wore glowing blue armor much like a valkyrie from an Elrian story, with a blue and white skirt and several tresses and a small cape of azure. Each of these were decorated with shimmering accessories fashioned into bolts of lightning, and she had several hair pins sticking out from her head haphazardly, as though a storm roiled just under her hairline. A single earring shaped like a sapphire lightning bolt hung from her right ear.

            Raul shrugged and pushed off from the wall she was leaning on. “I had business to attend to en route.”

            Illipia’s eyes narrowed. “Business more important than our Goddess’ wish?”

            Raul smirked. “You’re so uptight, Illipia. Can’t you be happy to see your younger sister after so long?”

            Illipia sighed. “Our Goddess did mention before that you would be late, but I was hoping you would make haste to make up for lost time. The serpent’s ascension is-”

            “In two days. Yeah, I know.” Raul looked to the peak above. She frowned. “Still don’t like that we can’t just go up there and kill it ourselves.” Raul had always been brash and unpredictably eager for a fight.

            “You know why, Raul,” said Illipia sharply. “The people of this land must see their own mortal brethren bring down Drabaki with our aid. If we were to just march up there and kill the serpent ourselves, the people would only curse our Goddess. She wants their prayers, not their scorn.”

            Raul scoffed. “Yeah, yeah. You take the chosen ones up there and support them with some of your magic, I rain down lightning from above as though the heavens themselves desire their victory.” She gestured dramatically as though she were in a play.

            “Please take this seriously, Raul. We have an opportunity to convert an entire nation. The Emperor should have already spoken to the people in the valley and sent word to the outlying villages. Should we succeed-”

            Should?” Illipia cursed her choice of words. Raul was always looking for something to pick at. “The Illipia I know wouldn’t have said should. She would have said will. What happened to you on your climb?”

            Illipia forced back the reminiscent smile. “Does it matter?”

            Raul sneered. “Oh ho… No need to get so defensive, I was only asking out of concern for my elder sister.” Illipia said nothing, recognizing the verbal trap that had been set. Raul rolled her eyes when she did not fall into it. “Mother told me-”

            Our Goddess.”

            Our Mother…” Raul measured the impact of her words, but seeing Illipia’s expression remain even she did not wait long to finish. “Told me that you lost two warriors on your way up.”

            Illipia blinked, hiding the dark shadow in her eyes that was Takeshi’s death behind it. “Yes. One was a fool. The other was injured in an ambush and sacrificed himself to halt our pursuers.”

            Raul whisteled, feigning amazement. “You mean even crippled, one managed to actually make himself useful in the end? Not bad for a mortal.”

            Illipia felt anger burst from her chest and could not stop the words that came from her mouth. “That mortal is Takeshi. And you will respect his sacrifice, Raul.” Raul’s eyes widened at this. Realizing that trying to divert from the subject would be a futile and suspicious effort, Illipia doubled down. “That man was far braver than any of our followers I have seen. He is a perfect example of what we have to gain in this land. So you will respect Takeshi’s sacrifice, Raul.”

            Raul held up her hands in surrender. “Okay, okay, Illipia. Ta-Takeshi…? I’ll see to it that Mother knows of his sacrifice once this is all over.” Illipia nodded, satisfied. Raul sighed. “Never thought I’d see you get so hung up on a mortal.” Illipia’s angry look made it clear she was unhappy with the topic at hand. Raul clearly wanted to pull more on this loose string, but it would have to wait. “Anyways, are the others up to the task? You have three now, right?”

            Illipia nodded. “Yes. Sir Chandragupta, Sir Xheng Zian, and Sir Haan. They are each highly skilled.” She ignored Raul’s eyebrow cocking at the mention of their names.

            “Huh, as long as they pull their weight and don’t just die we should be able to pull this off.” She began to float off the ground. “I’ll get into position above. The mortals can make the climb in a day?”

            Another nod. “Yes. They can. Provided we don’t have any complications, we will reach the peak tomorrow evening and strike just before the serpent ascends.”

            “Alright then.” Raul cracked her neck as she began to ascend. Then she stopped and turned to her sister. “Let me say one thing, Sister.” Illipia narrowed her eyes.

            “Don’t get attached.”

            Illipia sucked in a breath. “I do not plan on it.”

            Raul smirked. “You committed the names of fragile mortals to memory. Also…” Her gaze sized up Illipia. “You seem… different. The way your standing.”

            Illipia’s patience was at an end. “Get to the point, Raul.” Raul floated to her sister and set her hand on the small of her back. Illipia flinched at the touch and glared into her sister’s azure eyes. Raul sneered before letting go.

            “You stand… like a mortal.”

            Comment

            • Class: {{esusrinfo_class426216}}
              Level: {{esusrinfo_level426216}}
              Guild Name: {{esusrinfo_guild426216}}

              #21
              Sorry for the delay! I'm away from home for the week, so I updates will be slow. But we're almost done!
              As she promised, Illipia returned to the village under clear skies. The storm clouds, a conjuring of Raul, had parted to expose the sun. But they still lingered, urging the party to make haste to the peak lest the heavens deem it necessary for more rain. They bid the villagers farewell and began their climb in earnest.

              Haan described the final ascent to the peak to be the most harrowing; a single misstep would send one plummeting to their death. And with the rock slick with rain water, the threat was that much greater.

              And so it was met with great relief when Chandragupta did not perish when his foot slipped and he fell. The man was resourceful, using his bow to grab onto a nearby branch. Though branch snapped, it cut his momentum enough so that his landing was not fatal. But the rest could see his arm and leg bent unnaturally, even from their high vantage.

              They rushed down the cliff to his side and Illipia prepared to heal the injured man. He pointed to the peak above and said, "Leave me. It was my error. You must make haste to the peak. There is no time to waste on me."

              Illipia despaired; she did not want another of these men to die. Before she could protest, Xheng Zian knelt next to the broken warrior. "You will not lay here to die alone, Chandragupta. I will take you back to Fahrmann myself."

              "Xheng Zian! We are upon our objective! I cannot have you leave the rest for my sake! Please, complete the mission!"

              Unfortunately. The crippled warrior could not stop Xheng Zian from scooping him up. He turned to Haan. "Can you handle the rest alone, Haan?"

              Haan took a deep breath. "I must. Take care of Chandragupta."

              Xheng Zian nodded and looked to the broken man. "There you have it. Haan's getting all the glory for this hunt."

              Chandragupta sighed in frustration. "Forgive me. Just… don't let any of the village women see me like this."

              Xheng Zian laughed as he began his careful descent. "Ha! Just say you ran out of arrows and had to tackle a monster off the cliff!"

              "You think they will believe that?!"

              Their voices eventually faded as they descended out of sight.

              Now there was only two: The warrior Haan and the priestess, Illipia.

              He turned to her, adjusting the grip on his spear. "It would seem I will be counting on your assistance in the coming battle. Tell me…" He looked anxious. "How well can you protect yourself? As skilled as I am, I will not be able to protect you and fight Drabaki at the same time"

              Illipia set a reassuring hand on his shoulder. "Sir Haan, do not fear for my safety. Trust me.” She looked to the sky above. “My Goddess shall see to our victory.”

              He looked to the clouds above as well, silent. He nodded as he looked back to her. “Very well. Let us finish this.”

              The duo commenced their final ascent in respectful silence.
              -------

              At the peak, the two beasts Drabaki and Eun stared at the clouded sky above. The Great Serpent, having accumulated tributes had taken on a new form. Its scales, still white as the moon, were now jagged and sharp, its snout angular, and its mouth lined with many teeth. Two horns jutted from its jaw on each side of its mouth, spines ran down the length of its back, and two small wings sprouted midway down its body. To call it a serpent now would be wrong now.

              Eun looked to it and smiled. “The moment is upon us, my love.”

              It smiled back. “Yes. It is time. Time for my ascension.” It lowered its head and nuzzled the fox. “Thank you for all you have taught me, Eun. Never forget that I shall always be here not in form, but in spirit.”

              The fox held back her tears. “Yes. I know. And what a god you will be.” They held their loving touch for moments they stretched for as long as they could. They eventually parted.

              Drabaki looked again to the sky. “It would seem a terrible storm is upon us. No matter. It will not stop my ascension.” It looked to Eun. “I have one last favor to ask of you, Eun.”

              “Anything, my love.”

              “Go to the village just down the mountain. They will need your protection from the coming storm.” Eun hesitated, and Drabaki chuckled. “Do not worry. You will be able to see my flight just fine from there.”

              She laughed. “That’s good. But please… one last touch, my love…”

              “Of course, my love…”

              This time, Drabaki wrapped its body around Eun gently, embracing her as best it could. She licked its face and nuzzled against every part she could.

              It was their last embrace, and they wished to always remember it.

              Comment

              • Class: {{esusrinfo_class428310}}
                Level: {{esusrinfo_level428310}}
                Guild Name: {{esusrinfo_guild428310}}

                #22
                Had this done over the weekend, but I was away from home. Aiming to get this done by Halloween! Here we go!


                Haan and Illipia had reached the peak. They watched the two beasts from the shadows of a cave. They were speaking, perhaps saying their final farewells.

                “What is that creature? That fox?” Illipia asked. She had never beheld monsters conversing before, beyond the angry noises they would make when their kin would wander too close to their food.

                “That is Eun, The Nine-Tailed Fox. She is a beast of incredible power and wit. And Drabaki’s lover.”

                Illipia looked stunned. “Lover? The monsters can love?” She had never heard of something so preposterous. Love was a human emotion. Such feelings should not be present in a monster’s heart.

                “Those two are no mere monsters, Illipia. Drabaki and Eun both possess power far greater than that of any beast. It grants them the mind and souls closer to us humans than their beastly kin.” Haan explained.

                Illipia frowned, recalling tales heard on her prior travels. “I have heard of monsters like this. Across the sea, it is said that a monstrous dragon of hungry flames decimated an entire city and slew one of its brethren. Another resides in the deserts to the south, a tortoise as large as a mountain that can conjure storms at will. All of these monsters are supposedly capable of human speech.”

                Haan looked at her, surprised. “Such creatures exist? Have you seen them, Lady Illipia?”

                She shook her head. “No, I have not personally laid eyes on them. But stories are told all across the world of such beasts - beasts of divine power. It would seem Drabaki at least is among them.”

                “Eun is not?”

                “I can sense great power emanating from her, but it is no greater than what I feel from the serpent.” She clasped her pendant tightly. She could feel the El from Drabki pulse like a giant drum. Was this monster like the greedy dragon? The hungry tortoise? She shivered at the thought. “That serpent… That is no longer a mere beast of great power. It is… so much more…”

                Haan swallowed and looked outside to the monsters. “Can we defeat it on our own?”

                “We will not be alone, Sir Haan. My Goddess will watch over us and bless us with the power needed to bring it down.”

                Haan looked unmoved. “... It may still be best that we wait for Eun to leave before we attack.”

                Illipia nodded. “If you believe it wise, Sir Haan, we shall wait. But we must strike quickly before the serpent ascends.” Haan silently nodded and waited. It did not take Eun long to nuzzle Drabaki one last time before descending down the mountain. Now, only the serpent remained.

                Haan drew his blade and readied his spear, and Illipia began chanting a prayer quietly. It was time.

                They quietly left the cave and moved from cover to cover, easing their way behind the massive creature. Rain began to fall and thunder rumbled in the clouds above, Raul's way of saying she too was prepared. The serpent looked to the stormy skies above, then down to the valley.

                Perhaps it was taking a moment to remember its final moments as a mortal being. Perhaps it was silently mocking the people of Xin for granting it the power to destroy them. Perhaps it was something else. All Illipia knew was that her Goddess' wish was about to be fulfilled.

                She reached out to the El and recited a prayer in her mind. May this steel cut through steel. May it cut through the very darkness that threatens the light! Haan's weapons began to glow with the El's power; power great enough to fell a great beast.

                She had already demonstrated the sliver of her power she would allow mortals to see on their journey. Feats of healing, warmth, and empowerment. Haan knew the extent of her abilities that he needed to know.

                And he hesitated. He stared at the back of the great serpent, knuckles whitening and still as a stone. Was it fear that stayed his hand? Fear of Drabaki’s power? Fear of what was to come if he succeeded? Or failed?

                It mattered not. His pause was long enough that the serpent stretched its small wings and, with a forceful roar, took off into the sky. Though they were small, those wings were powerful enough to push the great beast skyward.

                It had begun its ascent. The sky rumbled with fury and flashes of lightning lit the clouds. Raul was going to get the fight she wanted, Illipia thought. But Haan had to be the one to fell Drabaki, not Raul.

                So she shouted, "Sir Haan, we must pursue the beast before it ascends!"

                "How, Lady Illipia? We do not have wings to take us into the sky as Drabaki does."

                "Sir Haan, my Goddess will see to that." She clasped her hands together and reached out to the El. Grant us the power to soar. To reach the heavens! Her pendant glowed and their bodies became engulfed in dim light. And then they began to float into the air. Haan seemed uncomfortable, but a reassuring hand from Illipia calmed him. He looked into the priestess' eyes, his gaze full of awe and questions. Illipia knew she would be hard-pressed to explain this feat later, but the urgency of the present would give her time to craft her explanation.

                She urged him. "Sir Haan, I know this is strange to you, but I promise to explain all later. We must fly to stop Drabaki's ascent. Let us finish this!"

                He glanced at the ground falling further away and performed a brief series of ascents, descents, and acrobatics in the air. He nodded in satisfaction before looking to Illipia. "Yes, Lady Illipia. Let us finish this!"

                And with that, the duo rocketed into the sky in hot pursuit of their quarry.

                Comment

                • Class: {{esusrinfo_class428329}}
                  Level: {{esusrinfo_level428329}}
                  Guild Name: {{esusrinfo_guild428329}}

                  #23
                  Here's the next bit! I'll see you all again tomorrow! Give a listen to Sekiro OST - Divine Dragon for this bit. Enjoy!
                  The rain and clouds rushed by Haan and Illipia as they gave chase. Illipia explained to Haan that there existed a boundary high in the sky of the world; a boundary that separated god from man. Should Drabaki reach high enough, it would be able to challenge its status as a mortal creature and ascend to godhood. They had to defeat it before then. To their fortune, their speed combined with the storm’s seemingly deliberate attempts to slow the beast’s ascent allowed them to quickly catch up to the serpent in the rumbling clouds.

                  Haan dared a glance down and saw nothing but flashes of lightning, streaks of rain and dark clouds. The ground was probably far from them now. He turned his head to the sky and focused on the slithering shadow above him. Drabaki swerved this way and that as it avoided bolts of lightning that seemed eager to send it back below. He tightened his grip on his weapons.

                  This was it. He kicked off the air below him and soared above the serpent. Illipia followed him at a distance, chanting more of her blessed prayers. He felt a power envelop his body, shielding him from the wind and, hopefully, any counterattack the serpent may utilize against him when he made his attack. His muscles felt more powerful than they ever had and he could feel the power of the El coursing through his weapons.

                  Perhaps, with this power, he could bring down this serpent. For so long he had worshipped it, loved it. And now it fell to him to bring it down. For his Emperor. For his people. For Xin. He, a man with no name of his own, may yet be remembered for what happened today.

                  He prepared his weapons and turned down. Flashes of lightning cast the serpent’s outline below him, and soon it breached the clouds. He had never beheld Drabaki this close before and never had he even seen it after it took to the peak to gather its strength. It was… spectacular, terrifying, and inspiring all at once.

                  And it was surprised. He saw its eyes widen when it saw him, glowing weapons in hand floating above it. Perhaps it meant to speak, as its mouth opened but no sound escaped its maw. Perhaps it was snarling at the tiny human to scare him away.

                  It did not matter to the warrior, he raised his weapons above his head and dived at the beast. It hesitated and he thrust his empowered spear at its eye. It jerked away. “Who are you, child of man?! How did you come to be here?! Why do you attack me?!” It finally found its words.

                  Haan gave no reply. Not in words at least. He answered in steel. Another thrust, a slash, and another thrust aimed at its eye. Still it managed to evade, but his blade made a shallow cut across its head. “You… You possess the power to end me, do you not, child of man? If you mean to end me, I have no choice but to defend myself. Prepare yourself, child of man!”

                  The battle began in earnest. Haan would dart around the serpent’s fangs and body and strike quickly at any flesh he could find. The serpent struck quickly with its fangs, whipped at the warrior with its tail, and employed a breath empowered with the El it had accumulated. Haan avoided what he could, but there were occasional blows he could not avoid. The barrier Illipia granted him took the brunt of the damage, but the serpent’s attacks were powerful, leaving him to seek Illipia’s aid.

                  She would heal his wounds and repair the barrier from afar, unseen behind a cluster of storm clouds. He danced in the air and the serpent’s blood began to drip from its wounds, mixing with the falling rain. Bolts of lightning would at times cut through the battlefield, forcing both Drabaki and Haan to evade.

                  But still Drabaki climbed. Slowly, deliberately. But it climbed. Haan had hoped he alone would be enough to fell the beast, but it seemed he overestimated himself. He needed more power still to bring down the great serpent. The power Illipia was granting him was not sufficient. He needed more.

                  His eyes were drawn to the lightning, the fury of the heavens given form. Perhaps with that, he could bring down Drabaki. So he waited; waited for that flash that could annihilate him in the blink of an eye.

                  The sky flashed, Drabaki evaded, but Haan did not. He held his sword and spear above his head and the bolt struck his empowered weapons. Electricity coursed through his body, racking it with pain unimaginable. But he grit his teeth and dove at Drabaki, his weapons crackling with the power of lightning.

                  Drabaki was stunned at his boldness, and its pause led to its defeat. Haan’s empowered weapons found its wings and, with an explosive display of lightning and thunder, severed them. Drabaki’s ascent slowed and slowed and then stopped. Then it fell, roaring back to the surface far below.
                  Eun had nearly arrived at the village when she smelled it.:The scent of blood.

                  The scent of her lover’s blood.

                  She looked to the sky and saw red droplets falling from the sky. Drabaki was in danger. She raced to the nearest perch and scanned the stormy sky for any sign of her beloved.

                  And she saw it. She saw it fall. And fall. And fall.

                  The sound of her scream was drowned by the thunderous impact of the storm above and Drabaki’s body being broken on the rocks below.
                  Last edited by GirgeFE-solace-; 10-30-2019, 04:33 AM.

                  Comment

                  • Class: {{esusrinfo_class428423}}
                    Level: {{esusrinfo_level428423}}
                    Guild Name: {{esusrinfo_guild428423}}

                    #24
                    Next!
                    Haan dove after the falling beast and witnessed its landing. Drabaki laid across a canyon at the foot of his mountain on its back, broken. He had done it. He felled a god.

                    He felt Illipia’s magic begin to fade, so he made haste to touch down. He scanned for his companion after landing, but saw no sign of her. Perhaps she was held up in the storm that was now curiously abating. The rain still fell and thunder still rumbled through the clouds, but the bolts of lightning that cut the sky before flashed less and the wind dropped from a howl to a mere breeze.

                    He turned his attention to the fallen beast before him. The once great Drabaki now lay broken and bloodied. What was once their savior, their god, was now a pile of flesh and bone. A wave of emotion overcame him. Pride, anguish and joy all swirled together into a storm much like the one above him.

                    He had accomplished the impossible. He had defeated their great protector. He had deprived his people of their god. He would be forever remembered. He would be-

                    “Why…? What was all this… for…?” A voice asked, hoarse and pained. Drabaki lived still, if only just. “Why would you do this…?” The rain made it difficult to tell if the serpent wept.

                    Haan stuttered. “I… You… You intended to bring ruin upon us with your godhood. I could not stand by and allow that. The Emperor bade me to slay you and bring your blood to him so that he may protect us with your power.”

                    The serpent coughed. “No… No… No… Never… ruin…” It looked surprised at this accusation. Hurt. “I wished to protect all of you. The ones in the valley, the ones in the mountains, the ones we have yet to meet… Eun… I wanted to protect all. Not bring ruin… Never…”

                    Haan shook his head and pointed his spear at the serpent. “Lies. The Emperor was granted a vision of what was to come. And in it, you threatened life itself. In it, he would stand with your blood and be eternally our defender.”

                    “Emperor… Di Yi Ke Xin… Why would he…” The serpent was now crying, its tears mixing with its blood and the rain. “Oh… You fool… You were to be their symbol of hope and strength. To think you… saw it that way…”

                    “What do you mean? What do you mean he saw it that way?” Haan was shaking. Not from the rain, but from a realization he felt was ready to dawn on him. One that may betray everything he believed.

                    The serpent looked to him, pity in its gaze. “He asked me before I left for the mountain… ‘How can I be loved as you are?’ The people would love him, whether he was man or god. He was your symbol of hope and strength. Why would he need my blood, or any divine power? Love… that is not how you gain love…”

                    Its words stuck in Haan’s heart like a knife. It was right. Chunhua did not love him for his skill or for any of his feats. She loved him for being who he was. The people loved Drabaki for who it was; kind, compassionate. He was so blinded by what he was told that he failed to remember this simple truth.

                    Love was not taken. Nor was it demanded. It was freely given.

                    He fell to his knees and wept.

                    “What have I done…? What have I done…?”
                    Illipia watched from above. She saw that Haan was hesitating before the serpent, and then he fell to his knees, crying. She couldn’t imagine what was going through the man’s mind now. Even if he believed her lie, he still brought down the beloved protector of this land.

                    She wanted to go to his side, assure him that he had done the right thing, that he would be praised. But her role was at an end. She was to disappear from Xin upon Drabaki’s defeat. Too many questions would be asked, and she had to make herself scarce before they came.

                    But more than that, she couldn’t go down to him because she wondered if the words she would offer would be true. Was this truly the right thing to do? The people of this land never cursed the serpent. They loved it dearly, and now they had brought it low. Would they praise him? Or would they curse him for what he had done?

                    She had spoken enough lies. But she could not bring herself to tell the truth, that this was all a means to an end. Tired of lies and bound to be untruthful she laughed. Hollow and mirthful it echoed around her.

                    When did she change so that she could laugh like this? Laugh at her own contradictions and two-faced nature. Never had she been so unsure, and it was nothing but funny to her now.

                    Funny how she, a Celestial, cared.

                    She felt a presence behind her. “Uh… You okay there, sister?” Raul floated to her side with a look of half bafflement and half disgust.

                    Illipia took deep breaths to calm her laughter. “I am just… relieved that this is all over. I suppose the stress of it all just fell on me at once. Come, let us depart, Raul.” She turned to leave, but Raul did not move.

                    “Yeah yeah. You go on ahead. I’ll catch up. Still got a few things to take care of here.” She cracked her knuckles and arcs of lightning crackled from her fists.

                    Illipia spun to face her. “Raul. Our mission is complete. We can leave the rest to Sir Haan and-”

                    “No. Your mission is complete. Mine is still in progress.”

                    Illipia paled. “What do you mean, Raul? What do you mean your mission is still in progress? We assisted Sir Haan in defeating Drabaki. What more do you have to do?”

                    Raul looked at her confused. “Seriously, Illipia? How do you not kno- Oh…” She sneered. “Mother didn’t tell you, did she?” A chill ran up Illipia’s spine.

                    “What did our Goddess tell you, Raul?” Her voice was shaking.

                    “Mother warned me that you seemed to be… slipping. I thought it was strange when we met on the mountain that you cared about a single mortal life. I guess Mother’s concerns are founded.” She laughed.

                    “Tell me, Raul! What did our Goddess command you to do?!”

                    Raul shrugged. “No point hiding it now, I guess.” She turned to the valley. “The people still need a miracle. With the blood of Drabaki, The Emperor can stave off an impending disaster that threatens their home. Fear will drive them into Mother’s waiting arms, just as she planned.”

                    Illipia felt her blood run cold. This… was her Goddess’ great plan? To terrorize the people that had just lost their protector to gain their favor? To frighten them with the elements so that they had no choice but to turn to her?

                    Raul conjured a spear of lightning in her hand and took aim at a hut on the outskirts of the valley. Illipia could see the light of el shards inside. There were people in there; innocent people who may be grieving, cheering.

                    Living.

                    “NO!”
                    Eun had scrambled down the mountain to the canyon where Drabaki lay. She watched from the shadows of the cliffs as the man who brought down her love floated down from the sky to her beloved. She listened to their words and saw the man lament over his actions.

                    Anger roared in her heart. This human dared to do this to her beloved. To deny it its cherished wish and then weep over it? Despicable! Despicable human!

                    She heard that The Emperor had bid this man to hunt down Drabaki. Despicable! Despicable humans!

                    She watched as the man left Drabaki to die, not touching its divine blood. Did he feel ashamed for what he did? He should! He should feel ashamed!

                    But shame was not enough for The Emperor. Oh no. Nowhere near enough.

                    She ran to Drabaki when the human left her sight. It was silent now, tears running from its eyes. Was it dead? Did her love, her precious love, die weeping?

                    The anger burst into fury and she looked to her beloved’s blood pooled around its head. “They desired your blood, my love… They desired your blood… So be it…” She leaned forward and lapped down her beloved’s blood. One gulp. Two. Three. Four. She stopped when she felt a surge of power pulse through her body. “I shall give it to them…” She did not cry. She was far too furious to cry.

                    But they would cry. They would all cry.

                    In fear.

                    In pain.

                    They would all die crying...
                    I friend of mine asked how this situation could get any worse. I present to you Exhibit A: ♥♥♥♥ has hit the fan.

                    Comment

                    • Class: {{esusrinfo_class428636}}
                      Level: {{esusrinfo_level428636}}
                      Guild Name: {{esusrinfo_guild428636}}

                      #25
                      Hey is it ok to post one's feedback here? Or would you rather keep this topic solely for your own posts with new chapters?

                      EDIT: err... I just realized asking this question kinda kills the point of asking it in the first place. Oh well
                      Last edited by TearsOfTmrw-solace-; 11-01-2019, 03:19 PM.

                      Comment


                      • GirgeFE-solace-
                        GirgeFE-solace- commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Feedback here is VERY welcome!
                    • Class: {{esusrinfo_class428702}}
                      Level: {{esusrinfo_level428702}}
                      Guild Name: {{esusrinfo_guild428702}}

                      #26
                      Almost there! Another 3 or 4 and we are done! Then I can get to work on my NaNoWriMo!
                      Raul stared at her sister, and then down to her wrist. The wrist that Illipia gripped painfully tight. Her interference had caused the Celestial to miss her shot; the bolt went forking through the sky instead of into the hut as planned.

                      Illipia’s mind was a swirl of confusion, anger, and panic. Confusion from Raul’s words before. Anger towards her sister’s actions. And panic from the realization that she had performed the worst action in front of Raul.

                      She interfered.

                      Raul looked at her again, the ghost of a sneer tugging at her lips. “And what… dear sister… are you doing?”

                      Illipia felt her hysteria give way to her anger. “I may ask the same of you, Raul. What do you think you are doing?”

                      “Carrying out Mother’s orders.” Raul’s sneer was getting wider.

                      “There must be a mistake, Raul. Our Goddess would never ask for us to attack her followers.”

                      Raul’s free hand began to move towards Illipia’s grip. “They aren’t her followers, yet. But they will be.”

                      Illipia tightened it. “Not if you kill them! The dead worship no one!”

                      Raul’s hand found her grip. “Better dead than a non-believer, Mother said.” She started to pry Illipia’s hand off her wrist. “I agree.”

                      Illipia tried to maintain her grip, but Raul’s hand was strong.”That can’t be what she said, Raul! It can’t be! She wouldn’t want this… senseless murder.”

                      Raul nearly freed her wrist from Illipia’s hand. “Murder? You call my judgement… murder?” Raul never liked anyone making less of her judgement. No one.

                      Illipia was undeterred. “What else would it be but murder? These people have committed no fault against you or our Goddess.”

                      Illipia’s hand was finally pried off Raul’s wrist and her sneer almost split her face. “You know… I never said this to anyone, but…” Raul now began to crush Illipia’s hand. When did she become so strong? Or had she become weak? It hurt. “I’ve always hated you…”

                      “Raul…?”

                      “Always… Always hated you. You were the first, and what did you do? Spread the loving message of our Goddess to the people? You know how many followers you got? None. No one listens to words. No one. So guess what? Mother created us three to clean up your ♥♥♥♥ mess… She created us to succeed where you failed. And what do I get out of it?” Her face contorted with glee and fury, sending chills up Illipia’s spine. “Nothing. Not a word of praise. No loving touch. Just another mission. Another judgement to pass. But you… she supports you. She gives you compliments.”

                      “Raul, I-” Illipia tried to tell her that she never knew the difference in treatment, that she never realized Raul felt that way, but her sister’s tightening grip cut her off.

                      “And you know what’s so funny about that?” She was chuckling now. “She doesn’t love you either! She… She doesn’t love anyone! What she gives you, those words of comfort? Lies. Nothing but lies. Lies to convince you to keep doing what you were created to do. She doesn’t do that with me. Or Dryad. Or Oryed. No. She doesn’t lie to us to make us feel better. Only you; Her useless, spoiled, first creation.”

                      Illipia couldn’t even begin to form a retort. This couldn’t be true. Her Goddess, Ishmael loved her creations as though they were her own children! That was she told her! That was what she told everyone!

                      The bones in Illipia’s hands began to break. She now tried to wrest Raul’s hand open. “It’s stupid, isn’t it? That I hate you over that our Mother lies to you? Yeah it is. But you know what?” Lightning crackled in her fist. “I’m not the brightest star in the heavens. So I guess that works just… fine.” Illipia conjured a barrier just in time to stop the punctuating surge of lightning aimed at her chest. The force of the attack drove them apart at last.

                      Illipia’s healing magic immediately kicked in and she felt her ruined hand mend itself perfectly. Lightning sparked from all around Raul now. She always had her concerns about the Celestial. Unlike Oryed who would gladly give you a fight if you wanted it, Raul always wanted to fight, to cause violence. She would instigate, prodding her victims into combat. She would pass judgement just to pass the time.

                      She was dangerous.

                      Illipia always knew this, but denied the truth. Now, she accepted it. Illipia felt a pang of pity for her sister. But it quickly faded. Raul could not be permitted to run unchecked. She had to be stopped.

                      To hell that she cared about these mortal people! To hell that she thinks of one as her friend! To hell that she loved this world!

                      All that mattered to Illipia, the Celestial, now, was that Raul, her sister, had to be stopped. “Raul… I cannot accept this. Even if it is by our Goddess’ command…” Two blades of El, one in each hand, sprang into existence.

                      Raul laughed. “You’re going to actually raise your hand against me, sister?! Oh thank the El! I’ve always wanted this!” A spear of lightning formed in her hand. Her sneer was ever present on her face.

                      “You are a threat to these people and their land. I will see to it that you bring no more harm to them, Raul!”

                      “Quit your monologuing, Illipia! I’ve waited so long for this moment! I won’t wait another second!” She charged forward and their clash sent bolts of lightning streaking through the sky. The people of Xin would remember this day that heaven fell.

                      But not just because of the storm...
                      Last edited by GirgeFE-solace-; 11-02-2019, 03:59 AM.

                      Comment

                      • Class: {{esusrinfo_class428723}}
                        Level: {{esusrinfo_level428723}}
                        Guild Name: {{esusrinfo_guild428723}}

                        #27
                        I have been waiting for the story to progress to try to make senses out of the several things I still can’t understand, but today I will only address this issue, so please enlighten me, I just want to know why I’m such a sheeple:

                        Why Ishmael gets “Ron the Death Eater” treatment in your story, and moreover it only becomes increasingly so over time? To begin with, what are the clues that you based on which led to your... unique interpretations of Ishmael??
                        "I hereby declare:...the remnants of the high nobility who plan to reverse the flow of history and steal by force the rights that the people have established will receive a suitable repayment for this atrocity." - Reinhard von Lohengramm.

                        Comment


                        • GirgeFE-solace-
                          GirgeFE-solace- commented
                          Editing a comment
                          "Ron the Death Eater" treatment on Ishmael suggests that Ishmael was canonically "good" to begin with. What proof do we have that she is truly good in canon? Just because you grant life to a world doesn't automatically make you good. How are good and evil even defined? They are mortal constructs, not divine.

                          She wasn't even the one responsible for sealing Sult again in Lanox. That was the El Lady, a mortal being. And I'm pretty sure Elrios, a long time ago, used to be called the Land Abandoned by God or something. Don't exactly remember where I saw that, but I do remember reading it. Also check out Ain's Richter path vs his Bluhen path as well and see how her agent interprets her will. You'll find a parallel there to another character in this story.

                          I cannot say more on the topic as it would spoil the story. It will be made clear soon.

                        • Tyrannicide-solace-
                          Editing a comment
                          Idk man, the definition of "Ron the Death Eater" page on TV Tropes also includes making a villain even more evil than him/her actually is in lore. I think I will wait until the story to end and by then I will continue.
                      • Class: {{esusrinfo_class428774}}
                        Level: {{esusrinfo_level428774}}
                        Guild Name: {{esusrinfo_guild428774}}

                        #28
                        Almost there! Three more!

                        Haan returned to the valley empty-handed. The guards swiftly brought him before The Emperor to explain himself. “... We witnessed Drabaki’s fall, Haan. Why have you returned without its divine blood?” He glowered at the warrior from his throne.

                        Haan prostrated himself before him. “Forgive me, My Emperor. The serpent still breathed when I tried to collect it. It…” He thought on its words. On how love was given, not demanded. “It spoke of you. That we would love you, with or without its blood.”

                        The Emperor leaned forward, his gaze burning with rising fury. “Whether or not I’m loved has no bearing on my command. You were to hunt and kill Drabaki, then bring its blood to me. Nothing more, and certainly nothing less. And you failed, Haan.”

                        Failed. How that word stung. Failing was not a frequent visitor for the warrior, yet here it was. And it weighed heavily on his pride. “My Emperor!” He lifted his head. “Drabaki loves us all still! It loves you still! Please, abandon this madness. The serpent barely lives just outside the valley! If we hurry we can-”

                        The Emperor rose from his seat, furious. “You do not command me, Haan!” His angry outburst forced Haan’s head down again. “If you will not do as I command, I shall find another. Begone!”

                        And so, Haan left the palace in shame. His pride trampled, his honor soiled, and alone. Illipia, his final and most trusted companion, was gone. Vanished without a trace after Drabaki’s fall. He spent some time searching for her after he left the serpent in the storm, but he found no trace of his friend.

                        He wandered the streets of Xin, thinking on his time with the priestess. When he first met her, she was reserved, hiding power behind a guise of naivete. But as he peeled that away, he realized that her guise was not entirely false; she was confused, conflicted. She struggled with something she had never experienced, and he could not begin to imagine what that was. But he saw how troubled it made her. How she held back tears or laughter.

                        In a way, she reminded him of how he once was. As a child with no parents, he quickly learned to look after himself. But to do so demanded he be strong. So he trained diligently, both in body and mind. It was this training that took his smile and tears. He could not smile or cry because he saw them as a sign of weakness, that he was not strong. He had to be strong, so he did not smile or cry, no matter how happy or sad or hurt he was.

                        Then he met Chunhua. As the village potter’s daughter, she would often visit him to fix his cracked pottery. They rarely spoke initially, but she took to attempting to make him laugh. Surely as a man you can laugh, she said. And so she tried everything, from terrible jokes to arriving at his doorstep wearing a funny mask. None of these even made him crack a smile.

                        But he began to see a change come over him. He began to look forward to her visits, to see her smile. Perhaps he was going soft. Perhaps his will was weak. Perhaps, deep down, he wanted to laugh.

                        Perhaps he was alone.

                        And one day, after a week of hellish training, he laughed. And cried. All at once. His strong mask cracked and years of pain and solitude came rushing out. And she never left his side as he cried through the night. It was then she told him that strength was like the trunk of a small tree. Malleable, but unbroken. The wind may bend it, but it would not break. One had to smile, to laugh, to cry in the face of life, but not give in.

                        He learned that strength came not from being a wall, shutting out all. It came from allowing those outside to see your weakness and push forward, with or without them. So when he saw how Illipia despaired, he was reminded of what he once struggled with. He wanted to help her as Chunhua did for him.

                        And they had grown closer because of it. They never had what some would call a heart-to-heart, where they would each express their deepest secrets and hold neither in contempt for it. But for people like them, ones who carry masks, there was no need to. They found comfort in each others presence alone, because they both understood that when it truly mattered, they would be there to support each other.

                        But now, with Illipia’s disappearance, Haan began to doubt. Was he wrong? Had he failed to understand the priestess as well? How else did he fail?

                        A flash of lightning above snapped him out of his stupor. The storm was beginning to pick up again, and he could see lightning flashing in the clouds above as the rain soaked his face.

                        “Young man, please take this,” a voice called to him. He turned to see an old woman selling accessories holding an umbrella for him to take.

                        He took it gladly. “Thank you.” He swept his gaze across her wares. They were very well made. “Did you craft these yourself?”

                        She nodded. “Yes. My mother taught me how to blow and stain glass and my father taught the art of ceramics. I can guarantee their quality.”

                        “It certainly seems so,” he chuckled. His gaze locked onto a hairpin near the top of a rack. It looked awfully familiar. “Excuse me, is that… Eun, by any chance?” he asked, gesturing to the accessory.

                        “Hm? Ah yes! One of my finest works if do say so myself.” The merchant plucked the hairpin up and held it out to him. “I spent many days and nights watching her when she stayed here in the valley. I must have scrapped enough ceramic to make a banquet set for Our Emperor trying to get this right. And all of it was from memory.”

                        “Very impressive.” He took it in his hands and turned it over. The ceramic glistened white and small, yellow lotus flower was embedded on the head. The needle was long and pristine, suitable for holding long hair. Chunhua would love this. “How much?”

                        “Hm…” She scrutinized his face and cracked a grin. “It must be for a special someone. I can tell. How’s two hundred gold?”

                        A hefty price for one of his meager wealth, but any price to see Chunhua smile and make him forget his troubles was worth paying. “Very well.” He dug in his pouch and withdrew the necessary gold and deposited it in the woman’s hand. “Thank you.”

                        “And thank you, young man.”

                        He tried to hand back the umbrella, but she held up a hand. “Keep it. Something tells me you need it far more than I do.”

                        He smiled, thinking about the journey back home. The journey he would have to now make alone. “You are too kind. Tha-”

                        A terrible roar shook the valley and cut him off. He spun towards it, his free hand readying his spear and froze. On the south end of the valley, beyond which Drabaki lay, stood a massive creature. But he knew this giant. When did she get so big? And when did she look so… terrifying? Her features were sharper, more jagged. Her claws curled menacingly and her body was wreathed in an angry orange glow. Her fangs looked larger and sharper and her eyes blazed with crimson fury.

                        The lady behind him saw the fox, too. Stunned, she barely managed, “Is that… Eun? By the El… What has happ-”

                        The monstrous fox roared again and a ball of swirling, black and orange energy formed at her mouth. Chills ran up Haan’s spine. What was she doing? She looked angry. No. Furious. Wrathful.

                        “DEsPiCabLE HumaNs! DiIiIiiiiiEEEeEE!” Her roar shattered windows and the ball of energy was flung into the nearest neighborhood.

                        And annihilated it in an angry, orange blaze.

                        Comment

                        • Class: {{esusrinfo_class428903}}
                          Level: {{esusrinfo_level428903}}
                          Guild Name: {{esusrinfo_guild428903}}

                          #29
                          Two more!
                          The focus combat demanded was liberating. All of Illipia’s worries about Haan, her mission, Raul’s mission, were pushed into a dark corner of her mind so that it was clear. Clear to parry, dodge, clash and strike.

                          She danced through the air, spinning past bolts of lightning that flew from Raul’s hands, conjured knives and spears of El to fling in return, and dove at her sister to clash with her blades. She knew Raul’s preferences in combat; she was aggressively dogged in her pursuits and disliked being on the defensive. She was fond of throwing her spears of lightning, which would fly from her hands as quick as a bolt, making them difficult to evade.

                          Most deadly, however, was if Raul ever managed to impale her. As her weapons were made from the fury of the storms themselves, to be impaled by one of Raul’s lightning spears would see the weapon call forth another bolt to send deadly energy throughout the victims body and, in all likeliness, blow a hole clean through them. Fatal for any mortal and even her sisters.

                          Which is why when Raul slipped under one of her attacks and ran her through with one of her spears, her sneer widened. The bolt ripped through Illipia and a cauterized hole was torn open in her stomach, and electricity racked her body with agonizing pain. She even blacked out and fell from the sky.

                          But it was Raul’s overconfidence that prevented her from confirming Illipia’s passing. Moments later, Illipia’s pendant glowed and her body was engulfed in warm light. Only instants later, she awakened and the hole, the ravaged organs, all of it, was healed.

                          She took the opportunity to generate a great lance of El and launched it at the unsuspecting Raul. The weapon soared through the clouds and Raul caught the motion out of her periphery just in time to pull her head out its path. But the spear still cut through her circlet and made a shallow wound on her temple as it passed by.

                          Unlike her, Raul was not gifted in the art of healing. She was certainly talented in combat, but her abilities in mending wounds was virtually non-existent. The price of power to control the elements, Illipia supposed. Illipia hoped she would be able to outlast Raul’s onslaught and wear her down.

                          Hoped. Even with her unmatched ability to heal fatal wounds, she still felt the pain, and the massive amount of healing needed to keep her alive required a copious amount of mana, and therefore El. If she ran low on her store of internal El, she would begin to fade and ultimately die. She approximated that she could afford to take a fatal injury three more times before her El would become exhausted.

                          Then she would truly die.

                          Raul flew into a rage. Never had she been injured before, and the sight of her own blood infuriated her to no end. She attacked Illipia even more aggressively than before. Openings were scarce and Illipia was starting to become overpowered by her sister.

                          Illipia cursed that her Goddess had blessed Raul with martial prowess. While she could hold her own against her sister, Raul was created to destroy. To fight. A sharper sword than she. But she had to try, if not for the sake of the people of Xin then at least for the one friend she had ever known.
                          Eun had attacked the valley, empowered by Drabaki’s blood. As the storm above grew in strength, the fox lay waste to the city, block by burning block. She smashed homes, temples, people, and burned the rest with angry El.

                          The Xuanze rallied to defend their home, and the Emperor himself took to the field. Haan ran to join them. Many warriors attempted to fight the vulpine titan, and some citizens attempted to appease her with offerings. All failed. She killed them all.

                          If Eun was not stopped, Xin would be destroyed. The Emperor looked to Haan and scoffed. Haan knew why. If he had done as was commanded, the Emperor would have the power to fight back Eun now. But as he was now, he was a mere mortal man.

                          The Emperor commanded the Xuanze to erect a barrier of energy to slow Eun’s advance, and it seemed to work. But the Xuanze were quickly losing strength against Eun’s relentless attacks.

                          The Emperor looked to Haan. “Consider this an opportunity to redeem yourself for your failure, Haan. Defeat Eun, and perhaps I will consider restoring your honor.”

                          Haan had to merely glance at Eun to know he could not defeat her. Not as she was now. She was as powerful as Drabaki was when he fought the serpent. And he had the assistance of Illipia to see him through that fight alive.

                          Now, he was alone. The Emperor was asking him to die. He felt the hairpin stuck on his belt. He could not afford to die here. He had to live and return to Chunhua, to his life.

                          He wanted… to find his friend, wherever she was. But to do any of that, Eun had to be stopped.

                          But she could not be overpowered. No. She had to be stripped of her power.

                          She had to be sealed.

                          Haan knelt before the Emperor. “My Emperor, I have a suggestion if you would hear it.” Haan was aware that the Emperor held him in contempt, but he hoped that the gravity of the situation would persuade him to listen.

                          The Emperor glowered at the warrior. “... Speak swiftly lest I change my mind, Haan.”

                          Haan bowed his head. “Thank you, My Emperor. We cannot defeat Eun as she is. Perhaps we can seal her away. The Xuanze are skilled in the art of exorcism and separation, are they not?”

                          “They are indeed. However, a vessel will be required to seal Eun in. It cannot be any simple pot. It must be cherished. Loved…” His eyes fell on the hairpin on Haan’s waist. He pointed to it. “That looks quite nice, Haan. Perhaps you planned on gifting it to someone?”

                          Haan paled, but didn’t refuse to answer. “... Yes. I wanted to give it to my beloved back home.”

                          “Then I command you, Haan, to plunge that accessory into Eun’s head when the ritual is complete. Her spirit will be bound to it and her physical form will die. Do this, and perhaps your honor will be returned. Perhaps…”

                          Haan wanted to refuse. But if he did, the Emperor would simply have his guards take it from him. No matter his answer, it would end the same.

                          “As you command… My Emperor…”

                          Comment

                          • Class: {{esusrinfo_class429614}}
                            Level: {{esusrinfo_level429614}}
                            Guild Name: {{esusrinfo_guild429614}}

                            #30
                            Finally getting around to posting a comment for this. I'll try and keep it brief.

                            What I like so far: the whole thing is written very well, you picked a genre and stuck to it. Your writing style is very focused and to the point, a far cry from most fanfiction writers and their chronic ADHD. The characters are straightforward and easy to care about, and you showed me why I should feel emotionally invested in them, rather than telling me.

                            What I don't like so far: you spent half of the story focusing on a single main POV character, then abruptly switched to the George R. R. Martin gimmick of having the POV of the story switch among multiple characters. This makes it difficult to buy into Haan and his party as being worthy of main character status, because they don't get the same amount of emotional build up that the serpent and Eun got. Also, Eun going full-on Kyuubi on Konoha, excuse me, on Xin, was a rather weak, cliché development, although in fairness it's not like you had that many options there.

                            My main issue is with the characterization of Ishmael, for two reasons: firstly, she has no real reason for opposing the serpent's ascent. If he does ascend, people who did not worship her will keep on worshipng her, so it's not like she's gonna LOSE something. Secondly and most importantly, I find it that making her openly evil is a major mistake, simply because it makes you just another one of those millions of fanfiction writers who rip off the Shin Megami Tensei gimmick of having God as the villain: you're losing in uniqueness, which makes your creation less interesting. A lot more interesting twist would have been to show the goddess be absolutely enigmatic and imperscrutable, a being whose will is utterly incomprehensible for us mortals, she's above the pettiness of "I want more followers", above good and evil: then, you show her issue one singular, enigmatic command, and then the whole subplot of Illipia and Raul is about them trying to do what they THINK is right to obey said command... And then ultimately it turns out they were BOTH WRONG: thus, the moral of the story is that, when it comes to the goddess, letting your judgment be clouded by the weak emotions of humans is wrong, but becoming uncaring to the point of nihilism is also wrong. In order to carry out the true will of Ishmael you need to be just as imperscrutable as her: this whole reasoning would tie perfectly into the creation of Ain, a being who, in his own life, can make the same mistake as Illipia (Bluhen), the same mistake as Raul (Herrscher), or stick to what in the eyes of the goddess is the correct path (Richter).

                            Mind you I'm not saying that your sub-plot about Ishmael is bad. Only, it could have been a lot more interesting.

                            Comment


                            • GirgeFE-solace-
                              GirgeFE-solace- commented
                              Editing a comment
                              Thank you for the feedback!

                              As far as the POV is concerned, I wanted to focus on Illipia's evolution more than the others because the story is more about her to begin with. But I understand that Haan is a very important character for obvious reasons, and rest assured that we will get at least a brief dive into his POV in the next couple updates.

                              On Ishmael, every time I see a comment about her behavior, I grin. There is still more to learn about her that will be revealed in a couple updates. I understand that her attitude towards mortals has been done before, but I want to remind all of you about this: Ishmael is neither the only god of Elrios or the highest. On the Ain path comparisons, I'd like to note that the only path that chooses Ishmael's mission is Richter, and that path seems to be the rendering of judgement.

                              Stay tuned for the next couple of updates so you have the full picture. I'm currently participating in NaNoWriMo, so this story is only going to be worked on during the weekend. Thank you for the feedback and I look forward to more of your support!
                          Working...
                          X
                          /* */