Scythemia

Eclipse: Dying Light

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The sin'dorei sat in the underbrush of a hollow in Warspear. Kex'ti's raptor, Diel, socialized with the other raptors. Tesonii respected Kex'ti's choice of mount, but the venomhide made her itch. She looked forward to the soft down of her hawkstrider. Tesonii looked at Aaren, the normally flippant priest surprisingly solemn. Tesonii had floundered in her search for Kex'ti, but took solace in the fact that she had done more than others who cared about him. Aaren, meanwhile, had gathered a surprisingly deep breadth of knowledge regarding the location of the monk. The priest had also become embroiled in some sort of conspiracy with Kex'ti's captors.

The priest spoke aloud, but Tesonii had accepted a mental connection to the woman. It wasn't a terribly simple method of communication, but it was much faster than writing everything down. She had stolen a notebook from Lilliana earlier in the evening, and had filled several pages with text: between her an Aaren, between herself and the drunk, placid patrons of the Warspear Tavern.

Okay. Let's find him soon, though. He's in danger.

Aaren had revealed many things to Tesonii. Malhavik, a Grim warlock, had kidnapped Kex'ti from Ashran, and was experimenting on him. Somewhere along the line, Kex'ti's soul was trapped in a soulstone, which was held by another warlock, Darethy. Tesonii recognized the names, even if she couldn't call the faces to mind. They were trying to figure out why Kex'ti was immune to the curse, and how to manipulate it to their own ends.

I'm coming with you, when you go.

The blonde priestess nodded, Tesonii slid up her hood, and walked the raptor back towards the tavern.

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Juli was waiting outside the tavern, her arms folded as she leaned against the wall beside the mailbox. She dropped her arms when the death knight and raptor approached. "Tesonii," she said. Her eyes were as clear and serious as ever, but a line creased her brow. She was worried.

"Darrethy is inside," she said. The elf didn't think anything of the warlock's presence other than he was an ally; she didn't know what he knew, what he possessed. She might have thought some other, rather displeased things if she did. "I assume Aaren asked you to meet her too?" Of course Tesonii was known as a friend of Kex'ti's.

Only then did Juli see the priestess in question coming up behind Tesonii. Her eyes flicked over the Aaren with a lack of patience she knew was not rational or helpful, but couldn't help feeling regardless. Her hands itched to be swinging sword and shield, not being told to wait on someone else's schedule.

"Who else is coming?" Juli asked Aaren. She really hoped the answer did not include a certain other priestess.

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"The three of us. Darrethy. Shokkra, if she shows. I haven't had the time to speak to anyone else." Aaren emphasized her last words rather sharply as she regarded the warrior with marginally narrowed eyes. A gloved hand was placed on the death knight's shoulder, safely on her pauldron for a couple moments.

She walked past the two women into the tavern and took a place seated next to Darrethy with a nod. She would wait a little before continuing on, to see if the orc would appear before the small group found a secluded place to speak and plan. But for now, at least for a few moments, she would close her eyes in focus and delve back into the dark void.

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"I'm here. Let's save the shaman." Shokkra didn't seem exactly interested. But she walked into the tavern and leaned up on the wall by the door. Shokkra folded her arms to wait and see what to do.

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Within the tavern, Juli nodded at Darrethy in greeting and looked over when Shokkra entered and spoke. She didn't know the orcess at all and disliked having an unknown along, but at least she was better than Lilliana would have been. Probably. Hopefully. Looking back at Aaren, she observed the priestess' meditation. If it had been anything else, wouldn't've felt the need to interrupt.

"So where is he?" she asked. "And the stone?"

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Lomani looked up from her knitting at the elves that had just entered the tavern. She occupied a spot at her usual table by the stairs, but instead of a stool she sat cross-legged on the floor. If she were not afraid of sending her ball of yarn into the fire, she'd have been nearer the warm flames. As it was, she was comfortably insulated from the random drunk soldiers that might have chosen to harass her if she was in easier view.

The needles in her hands paused as she noted the newcomers, then started up again, the yarn looping back and forth with practiced motions. The sock was almost done, and after that she had a small stack of clean holey ones to repair. Apparently boots were hard on soft-skinned feet. She was grateful for her hooves that did not need such silly things as socks or shoes. Still, the mundane upkeep tasks, as always, brought her comfort. Some things she was useless at and could not control. At this, she was skilled.

It did not bother her that beyond initial greetings, Darrethy had not struck up a conversation. He'd apologized to her a day or so ago for being short with her, and downright rude, explaining that the stress of the curse was responsible. Not being involved in the events surrounding that whole thing, Lomani was happy to bend her head to her needles and give him the excuse he needed to ignore her.

In the Horns garrison, the many unconscious bodies of Ashran curse victims had been secured. Even if the herald could somehow animate them as she had done to Kerala, they could not cause harm. So, Lomani continued spending her time in the tavern, available if anyone should have need of her, waiting for news of Breygrah.

Lomani completed the last stitch on one of three small needles, freeing it and completely transferring the sock to the working needle. She turned her work, and switched the empty needle to her other hand. Now her working needle, she stuck the freed rod of wood into the middle of the first stitch, caught the yarn with it, and continued on knitting.

She wondered idly how much time an elemental meant when they said "soon."

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Darrethy was sitting deep in meditation, the Illdari runes on his armor flared to life at the presence of new souls.

Slowly the Warlock looked up and nodded to each of them in turn, his hands losing an eldritch light as they stopped whatever arcane motions they weaved when he was lost in thought. Slowly he scanned the room, taking in everyone...aside from Tesonii, everyone here was either someone he didn't like or simply didn't trust. He didn't think Juli knew what was right and what was wrong, his talk with Naheal had illuminated him quite a bit on the situation with Jinsai and the sort of people Sanctuary let into it's doors, and with Aaren he simply found her too brash and reckless to entrust the soul gem lest Kex'ti be faced with spiritual annhilation from a displeased Malhavik. Lomani was a Horns, and he'd grown to hate the Horns more and more with each passing day, the last time he talked to Kerala by the beach she had some things which outright hold her in contempt. As for Shokkra? well, she was Shokkra, not much more needed to be said.

Untrustworthy all of them, if not monsters.

"Evening Juli, Aaren, Lomani, Tesonii." his eyes flared with a fel green light as he looked to each in turn. He smelled no spiritual rot on any of them, just ignorance, if that was better or not he was unsure. But these were Kex'tis friends, and so he hoped that whatever sense they had would be enough to free him from possible damnation.

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Tesonii looked at the assembled collection. She liked Aaren, knew Julilee and Lomani, and needed Darrethy to find Kex'ti. The orc woman, however, remained unknown to her. The rune knight tugged on Aaren's sleeve and pointed at the orc. She rested her hands on her blades, rocked back and forth on her heels. She wanted to find Kex'ti as soon as possible, and the wait was trying her severely limited impatience. The elf hoped that Kex'ti's kidnapper were there. She could use a good fight.

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The tug on her sleeve jarred Aaren, she gasped and shivered as she came out of her meditation. It didn't seem to be getting her anywhere, anyway. She was drained, and didn't give herself much time to rest the past few days, with all she had to do. She caught her breath as her focus came back to her, and smiled at the girl next to her.

"She's going to help." she said quietly, with only a hint of apprehension. She patted her on the arm again, where it was protected from her touch by plate. The priestess rose to her feet slowly. A long breath calmed her only a little, but it didn't show in her expression. She kept her hand on Tesonii's arm for support, before giving each of those the spoke to earlier about her plans a look, then walked out toward the beach. Somewhere secluded and away from the normal foot traffic.

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Juli followed the group out to the beach. Easily gaining the top of a large boulder, she looked around. Nothing but rocks and water... at least that the plain eye could discern. It would have to do. She looked down at Aaren and the others, waiting.

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Tesonii grabbed a handful of wet sand from the shoreline. She pressed it against a boulder, and in her looping cursive, wrote.

Where is Kex'ti? What's the plan? Do we need all these people? Erase.

If he's in this much danger why didn't people start looking sooner?

She kept her face hidden from the sunlight, and snuck glances at the assembled party. She remembered Kex'ti pulling her up and over his balcony, out of the gloomy Murder Row alley and into his room. This time she'd be the one to pull him from the darkness. She was worried about him, true. But the idea of staging a rescue mission! What fun!

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Darrethy looked over to Tesonii "I was worried that if our intentions were known, certain....parties...would seize the opportunity to stop us from saving him. They could put a halt to this very easily if they knew, but hopefully things have remained....hidden enough."

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Lomani watched the group filter out until only Darrethy remained. The seer waited for him, too, to turn his back and follow them. When he did, she recited a quick and efficient prayer. It would effect him and, hopefully, the group he traveled with.

In taurahe, she whispered at the Forsaken's back,

"The mountains, we become a part of it…

The herbs, the fir tree, we become a part of it.

The morning mists, the clouds, the gathering waters,

we become a part of it.

The wilderness, the dew drops, the pollen…

we become a part of it."

Having blessed the group and whatever venture they were on, Lomani sighed and returned her eyes to the sock forming beneath the deft manuevering of two tiny sticks.

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Aaren didn't try to hide her glare at Darrethy for his last comment. "I know what I'm doing, actually. And no, he doesn't know. So here's the deal, people." She looked at each one there. Their impatience was grating on her, if mostly for the reason that her own impatience could not be shown as well. Perhaps for the reason of sanity, but mostly because she could not share all the things she was doing to make sure her plans would work as intended.

"I need to find out where he is, and I'm speaking to the person of interest hopefully soon. Once I know the location, you all can meet somewhere nearby. I need to see what kind of fortification it is, what guard is in place, how many demons this idiot has around. Which is why I need enough of you to keep them occupied. I'd like to try to get time to be alone, but if he won't go away then we'll have to fight him. A ritual is being done to keep Vionora from using the twilight to move to our position, so we need to move fast once it does start. And that will be soon."

She paused for several moments, to get her breath, and she looked at each one again. Her eyes rest on Darrethy. "You will have to come in soon after I do." She looks to Shokkra and Julilee. "You two will be with Tesonii, and I can tell her with it's time to move." She half-smiles at her and taps her forehead, and looks back at Darrethy. "That is when I take possession of the soulstone, if it has not already come to me. And you all will make sure I have time to do what I need. I know Darrethy will do whatever he wants to do anyway, but the rest of you, you're listening to me if you want this to work."

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Juli nodded, taking Aaren's words at face value. She had no reason to doubt anything the priestess said; such as that she didn't already know the location. Aaren could have been a Grim in disguise, luring Juli out, and Juli wouldn't have known any better.

"You will have your time," Juli said. She rolled her shoulders, the shield on her back rising and falling. If there was one thing she could do, it was hold enemies off. She looked at Shokkra and Tesonii. They looked capable of much the same. Her gaze returning to Aaren, she said, "How soon do we move out?"

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Aaren looked at Julilee for a few moments as she thought. Her head cocked to the side.

"I was supposed to speak to him sometime tonight, regarding the next step of his plans. Or the first step, after I did a... favor for him. I intended to tell him I want to see the body and the stone, perhaps even convince him to let me put his soul back in its place so I could... Um, take part..." Aaren's expression broke for the first time. He brow creased and she gritted her teeth a little at the mental discomfort atop her growing fatigue. She took a breath and lifted her head again.

"Then I would be able to call the rest of you in, with the hard part done with. And, actually, I do have this..." The priestess pulls out a small gem shard, jet black. The one Malhavik told her to shove into a 'fleshy vessel' in order to communicate with him. She looked at Darrethy. "Now, where should I find a proper receptacle for this? I will get his attention, one way or the other."

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Tesonii smiled back at Aaren and tapped her forehead in response to the priest's gesture.

Let's do this. I have faith in you she thought with a smile.

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"Actually, no. I have that covered, as well." Aaren didn't wait for Darrethy to respond to her before an idea came to her, and it was easy for her to dismiss him even if he did have a suggestion. She didn't like him either, and how he seemed to think anyone that didn't consider things just as he did was wrong. Every moment she was calculating, readjusting her plans. Taking action, as no one else ever did. At least, this time, she was forcing others to do something.

She then looked to Tesonii tiredly, expressionlessly. With a quick nod of her head in response, the priestess approached her hawkstrider quickly. "I'm heading into Ashran. I need to contact Malhavik. Tesonii will know when it's time to move, if I don't come to find you all myself. Don't do anything stupid, and for fuck's sake be patient." She tugged the reins of the bird and headed into the Ashran warfield.

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By the Sunwell I want to cut this guy so bad he's going to wish I wasn't cutting him so bad.

Tesonii's hood was drawn low, and the two women at her back blended in to the bushes and darkness. She could keep still, relatively, or she could keep quiet. The knight quivered with anticipation of saving Kex'ti and gleefully sawing runes into whoever had hurt him. She had written and erased and rewritten the charcoal runes on her blades so many times, getting the calligraphy perfect, that even staid and orderly Julilee was becoming irritated by the woman's repetitions. The evident difference between the two's manner of dealing with anxiety grew apparent the longer they lingered in the brush.

Tesonii became agitated, and impulsive. She was a steady stream of minor actions and releases. Julilee, in contrast, merely became quiet and withdrawn, like a spring coiling, coiling; ever tighter. Shokkra's mind was elsewhere. Any stress she may have felt at the situation was screened by a weighted, bored facade. The orc's Gorehowl replica gleamed, but was clearly fitted for larger hands and a taller warrior. Tesonii had spent a great deal of time picking her weapons. She'd never been like Kex'ti, who could pick up a bar stool and turn it into a weapon. Nor was she like Julilee, who wielded hallowed arms passed down from hand to hand, generation to generation. The rune knight's weapons were balanced for their accuracy and crushing power, and for their open, easily cleaned writing surfaces. It was hard for Tesonii to fight in the rain, though she had greasy inks stored away for that purpose, she knew how small changes in the angle of the runes affected their potency and usage. Most death--RUNE--knights relied on their runeblades to shape the runes for them. But Tesonii knew better than to rely on a capricious sentient blade when her own skills were sufficient.

Tesonii didn't fight with finesse. She saved finesse for writing. When the killing started, that was where her mindset was, and often focused on surprising and overpowering her enemies. This wasn't, of course, to say that she lacked grace. Each stroke of her blade, each angle and slice, was part of an ever-continuing story written in blood. Death knights enjoyed the thrill of battle, but the matter of life and death was secondary to the blue-haired knight. She was a rune knight, and what held her fascination was the way a blood spatter fell, or the way falling blades left marks in stone or metal. The arcs and curves of men and monsters as they danced with her blades, the small expressions that rose under duress. She'd spent so much time reading, that people's actions had become another language with dialects of combat and conversation.

After the seventieth revision of the redgormor rune, she was finally satisfied with the size and parallels of the runes. She linked the rune to a jagged, triskelial shlee rune. When powered by her mana, and invoked by her voice, the rune would discharge a wave of frigid force that drained heat from the surrounding area. The drop in temperature caused a shriek which caused the spell to more readily be called howling blast.

Tesonii smiled, and caught more than a few glances from Julilee. In a perverse way, the knight enjoyed the attention she drew from the Commander. Hopefully, the irritation, however slight, would prompt the performance Tesonii needed from the warrior in order to save Kex'ti.

In the clearing below, Aaren kneeled down over a stream.

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The sound of Malhaviks tightly wrapped bony heels and clawed toes echoed throughout the tombs tight corridors. Briskly he descended the spiraling stone stairs to the lowest chamber, where he so often kept his 'guests'. Loosely scattered bones clinked here and there, as rats made their quick escape from the encroaching vile green light of the warlocks raiment. The chamber he entered was fairly large with a stone table near him, and a large marble sarcophagi with two demons standing adjacent on the opposite wall. The floor was a dark smear of blackened blood stains.

As the warlock approached his captives cage, Shahriah pulled the immensely heavy lid to the side with her six powerful arms. Within the sarcophagi was a blackness that stretched to unfathomable depths. Malhavik flicked an annoyed gaze to the Voidlord beside them and the portal to the abyss vanished, revealing a sickly elven man within the sarcophagi. The elf lay motionless, and largely covered in bloodied bandages. His hand still lacked a finger, and the necrosis had spread nearly up to his elbow. Without the attention of a proper healer, the body would succumb to infection and give out very soon.

Malhavik slid a lithe curved dagger from his belt, and began carving long strips of flesh from the elf's chest. He placed the strips into a jar on the stone table, nodded at the two demons to replace the lid and portal, and began to ascend the stairwell.

"I have plenty of samples to study should the elfs body falter. Too bad miss Syreena isn't of proper mind." He thought to himself as he climbed the stairs.

"Perhaps I'll invite her over soon. She really should be the one to kill him."

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Aaren found her vessel. The body of a mage, discarded off to the side of the road like it was trash. She dragged it off, away from view of the road. There were plenty of wounds in the corpse, and with a curled lip she shoved the gem into one of them. She washed her hands in the steam and crossed her arms as she waited for a response.

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The mages body jerked violently and the eyes flicked open, revealing inky black orbs. The mouth twisted into a crooked grin, and Malhaviks voice whispered through parted lips.

"Well if it isn't lovely Lady Aaren! Tell me the news I wish to hear."

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