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Alturiak 1377 - CoRD Strikes Back

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Elric

Post  Colin Marcus on Fri Jul 09, 2010 10:25 pm

Elric tapped the quill down. Journaling didn't come natural to him. Not like it did for Ashara. She made it seem easy. The journal had been a gift from her a few years back. A place to put thoughts down and help him organize his memories and feelings.

Personally, given the choice he prefered the more intimate memory reads to this more mundane form of reflection, and typically he filled it with drawings and notes to help with his training... After Kaimelithil though so much changed so fast... the destruction of the wooded kingdom, finding his mother, Ashara's rise in authority... not to mention the discovery of his draconic heritage. Ashara was right. Sometimes things just needed to be written down. Today was one of those days.

Still as he felt her hand on his shoulder, he was thankful for the reprieve. Though the tone of her voice told him this conversation wouldn't be any more pleasant then the documenting.

He was worried how this day would affect her. Especially with the loss of Marstine confirmed amongst the list of the dead. But he doubted that's what she wanted to talk about. From the moment she'd whispered the name Aretis, he knew they'd be having this talk.

Though it had been years since their first memory read, and the only time he'd been able to see her thoughts first hand... He still remembered. Under the curse she had dreamed of killing her friends. The idea had revolted the true Ashara... but now it had come to pass. They each had their own share of nightmares, but he was certain this was one of her biggest.

"Of course..." He forced a grin, hoping to put her more at ease. "I have as long as you need..."
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Ashara

Post  Penelope on Fri Jul 09, 2010 10:35 pm

Even after all the emotional and physical trauma he'd been dealt today, twice coming to the brink of death, seeing her stabbed in the throat, fighting the assassin who'd been a caretaker for their children, and then on top of it, killing his tura's son, Elric was still willing to shove all of it aside to lend her his ear. Now she was going to add to that burden, and it broke her heart...

Ashara tried and failed to return his smile before pulling over the wooden rocking chair from the corner. The rosewood chair had been a wedding present from Godrick Chalmers, the kind, old carpenter who held the distinction of building a good number of the homes in Impresk including the Champions' house itself. He'd outdone himself on this marvelous gift, painstakingly hand carving the headrest to depict the breaking dawn of their chosen symbol. Happier times.

She sat on the very edge of the seat, too concerned at the moment to notice the detail of the craftsmanship, and ran a nervous hand through her hair before beginning.

"There are some things I need to tell you about the encounter with Aretis today," the priestess started warily, as she looked up to meet his eyes.

"Before I knew that he was there... Before I even had a chance to Whisper you, there were two Shadows that came at me from our copse of trees. Dawnspeaker...well, I made short work of them," she winced.

Ashara hadn't known who the shadows used to be at the time, but they'd been transformed into undead and there was nothing else that could have been done for them other than to free their spirits. Unfortunately that didn't soothe the sting.

Not knowing exactly how she should proceed the priestess squeezed her eyes shut and rubbed her fingers over the lids in frustration.

Elric knew something else was eating at her now. Something more than the death of Aretis... She could see the concern mounting in his strong shoulders which, as per his vow given earlier that day, were still bare.

"Melamin, that sword that he was using..." Ashara pressed on with a visible shudder at the memory of the wicked blade. "It created those Shadows... It nearly made one of me, but by Lathander's grace alone he was defeated before that could happen.

"The two boys though... Perri and Talgan," she managed, voice breaking on each of their names. "I think they'd been training together back by the trees...."

Silent tears, too long unshed, slipped down her cheeks as she reached out to lay her hand on Elric's knee. She searched for words, but there were none to be found.

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Elric

Post  Colin Marcus on Fri Jul 09, 2010 10:43 pm

After everything they'd been through, the half-dragon had been certain of two things. First, that the worst was over now. Second that nothing his wife could tell him would come as a surprise. He was wrong on both counts.

Elric's shoulders stiffened at her words. Perrimar and Talgan... gone?!? He looked at Ashara hoping to see doubt in her eyes... Some 'chance' she was mistaken. But all he saw was heartbreaking certainty. She never would have told him if she had the slightest doubt.

His brow furrowed as he tried to wrap his head around the news. All he could picture were the two boys sitting at breakfast this morning, their usual boistorous nature stilled from the loss of Marstine the night before... but of all the students, they still had the biggest spark in their eyes when he'd announced the 'day off.' Sparks that had gone out, and worse yet... twisted into evil shades of their former selves.

It was suddenly difficult to breathe. He couldn't help feeling responsible. Most of the boys that found their way to the Everdawn's doorsteps were orphan's or runaways. Children with nowhere to go, and no direction in life. They always struck a soft spot in Elric, and Ashara's opinion of defensless strays was well known through out Impresk. Elric had yet to turn anyone away.

With tears in his eyes, one hand cupped his close trimmed beard. The other unconciously found Ashara's hand on his knee and squeezed it in search of support. Rarely had he felt as weak as he did now. "What did I lead these boys into..." he whispered sadly.
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Ashara

Post  Penelope on Fri Jul 09, 2010 10:51 pm

"Oh Elric," she cried taking his hand in both her own, "I'm so very sorry..."

The pain resounding in his voice exponentially magnified her own. The two young boys had shared the Everdawns' table and home for nearly a year and their loss would be felt for many years to come, especially if their tura assumed the burden of their deaths. In many ways Elric's students were part of their family.

A brief, agonizing moan escaped Ashara's lips as she pulled his hand against her cheek. Just when things were righting themselves again... Just as they were finally getting accustomed to the changes Kaimelithil had brought to their lives...

But there was always hope. Darkness could only last for a time before the Dawn returned! That thought had Ashara dropping her hand to her middle, remembering the child that would be born to them in the coming spring. There was always hope.

A shadow of a smile crossed her face when she realized that the child was finally taking some well deserved rest from its relentless kicking of her innards. It had been a long day for them all, even the unborn Everdawn!

Ashara brought her hand back to her husband's and held it tightly.

"There was nothing that could have been done, A'maelamin...even if we'd known of the danger, there's no way they could have been prepared to deal with that kind of threat. Please don't take this upon yourself... The fault is laid at either the monster who did it, or the one who summoned it," she pleaded with him, quoting his earlier advice to her. "The priest of Cyric is responsible for their deaths, and you repaid him for that villainy!"

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Elric

Post  Colin Marcus on Fri Jul 09, 2010 10:59 pm

He leaned forward and rested his head against hers. Tears mixed with Auburn hair as he let the sweet smell of roses waft over him.

There was wisdom in Ashara's words... or were they his own words... The priest held the lion's share of the blame. He brought the danger... he rejoiced in the death he'd caused. The half-dragon could still hear the mocking laughter.

Still despite what his brain knew to be a fact, his heart wouldn't let him off the hook so easily. Perri... Talgan... He had accepted the responsibility for those two. They were his students. He should have done more... They never would have lasted under Eldorath. Elric had no doubt about that.

The boys were by no stretch of the imagination good students. Elric never fooled himself into believing they would go forth and win tournaments or epic battles. Talgan never concentrated. His mind was always focused more on when the training would end and when the fishing would begin. His moves were slow, and his focus nonexistent.

Perri on the other hand... the 'legend' of Elric had drawn the boy to their doorstep. The Tura had known from the beginning that Perri didn't have a lifelong dedication to the dance... He wan't to try it 'because it looked cool.'

They were young... but Elric had hoped that he could channel them and mold them into true Salk-Sirra fighters... but he was wrong.

"I should have turned them out..." Elric whispered softly. "Eldorath would have turned them out after the first six months. If I had followed that method, Talgan would still be alive. If I'd put the boys through the training 'I'd' had.... Perrimar would have quit. Either way, they would still be alive today."
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Ashara

Post  Penelope on Fri Jul 09, 2010 11:25 pm

"Would they be?" Ashara replied gently as she brushed her hand soothingly along his bearded cheek. "Talgan left an abusive father. Perrimar was an orphan. Both of them had been living on the streets before they found you, and if you'd have turned them out they would have gone right back to that situation! How long do you think you would have lived had Eldorath left you there in the dark alleys of Caradoon?"

Letting the thought hang there, she took the time to kiss away a tear that threatened to fall from the tip of his nose.

"No Elric, you were a bright light in their lives! Maybe the brightest... You gave them a home and a family and were attempting to give them a direction as well! What you did for those boys was right and good, and you can't judge your decisions concerning them based this tragedy.

"Even if you'd decided they weren't fit for the dance, we would have made a place for them here in Impresk at the very least, if not in our home! You wouldn't have turned them out. You couldn't have, it's not who you are! That being the case, can we rightly say that they wouldn't have met the same fate whether or not they were your students?"

Ashara sighed softly and leaned her head against his once more.

Many of today's events struck at the core of Elric's insecurities as Tura... Alagian. The deaths of two of his students. Only a few days earlier they were exploring his old memories trying to glean some insight from Eldorath's training techniques!

She wasn't sure how these recent losses would change his approach to teaching, but listening to him now, Ashara had no doubt that things would indeed change...

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Elric

Post  Colin Marcus on Fri Jul 09, 2010 11:33 pm

She was right. Quietly he listened to that soothing voice. The sound of hope and guidance to so many followers of Lathander, now speaking the words he needed to hear. This was not his fault.

Perri and Talgan were not the only casualties of this night. They didn't fall to any novice either. The Aretis he had known those years ago was highly skilled with the blade, he could only imagine the ranger's skills had improved over time. The damage to Ashara's armor was a testiment to that fact. Perri and Talgan were out of their league. None of his students, even Bramin would have won the day against Aretis... Especially with that hated sword. Ashara had said it required a scroll... Magic to defeat him... So by definition, even the student's Tura wouldn't have prevailed alone.

No Ashara was right. They both knew too well the pain and lonliness of the orphans and outcasts. Neither of them would have just dismissed any of the boys. Besides... being in the school was NOT what put them in danger... at least not this time. Simply living in Impresk was dangerous enough.

Marstine, Kendra, Tarpin. None had lived in their house, but all had died. He'd never allow Ashara or Therogeon to shoulder the blame for their student's deaths... Kendra Starbright had little connection to the Champions at all...

"Thank you, Talmamin," he said with half hearted grin. "I don't know what I'd do without you..." He wiped the unshed tears from his emerald eyes.

"It feels... I feel like I should DO something... but there's nothing left to do! Even though I just found out... they've already been avenged. The bad guys are beaten... and the world goes on. There's no more battle to fight." The fighter shook his head sadly. "Just pieces to pick up afterward."

An unpleasant thought occured to him suddenly. "What of the others? Do they know yet?" It was quite dark out, and most of the other students were probably either asleep... or wondering where their two missing friends were.

He sighed in frustration as he looked at the bed. He was more tired, physically and emotionally, than he remembered feeling in a long time. Sadly he shook his head. Sleep would have to wait. "I don't think I should wait till morning to tell them... but they're going to take it hard..."
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Ashara

Post  Penelope on Sat Jul 10, 2010 1:10 am

Ashara's eyes slowly dropped to the floor as she bit tentatively at her bottom lip.

"We could rouse them and tell them now... but they're still reeling from the passing of Marstine and I'd hate to wake them only to heap more tragedy onto their shoulders."

The look of despair on Bramin's face as he told them of the condition of the young girl's body was as heart wrenching an expression as she'd ever seen. She dreaded hurting them further. More than that though, she was afraid that adding to their burden now at such a late hour would do nothing but prevent them from sleeping at all...

"Perhaps we should let them find a few hours of rest tonight so they'll be better prepared to deal with the realities the Dawn will bring. They'll need their strength tomorrow! You'll need your strength tomorrow," she added, seeing the weariness on his face.

Ashara sat back in the chair as her mind began spinning again with everything that would need to be done over the next few days. Marstine, Kendra, Perrimar, Talgan, Aretis... FIVE funerals... With all the insanity over the past twenty four hours, the losses of so many loved ones hadn't properly sunk in for the priestess yet. Leading those funerals was going to be one of the harder things she'd ever had to do... After a brief and silent prayer to Lathander, she snapped her hazel eyes back up to her husband.

"As Tura, it's your decision, Elric." A small smile of encouragement turned up the corners of her mouth. "If you feel that you're ready to break that news to them now, then I'm ready to stand at your side and provide any assistance you may need."

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Elric

Post  Colin Marcus on Sat Jul 10, 2010 2:26 am

Elric was quiet for few minutes. He didn't know what to do... But right or wrong he had to make a decision. It was times like this when he most understood Eddick's desire to throw off the burden of responsibility and just run free.

He suspected the right thing to do would be to raise the household and tell them immediately. If he withheld the knowledge... waited... undoubtedly some of the boys would resent him for it. He didn't like the news Ashara had just given him, but something that serious... he was glad she told him. The boys would be the same.

However his mind kept flashing to the emptiness in Bramin's eyes... He couldn't hit him with this too. He shook his head.

"Tomorrow. We're all weary. The heart can only take so much at once... Let them get what sleep they can. I'll tell them before breakfast..." He had a feeling there wouldn't be many with an appetite tomorrow....

"We've got a big day tomorrow too. Starting with the destruction of that sword... I think we should all get what sleep we can." Tomorrow would begin a week of funerals. At least five ceremonies for friends and family... and probably something for Alagian and Rariden... It was going to be a long week. Not exactly what he'd hoped for her birthday...
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Ashara

Post  Penelope on Mon Jul 12, 2010 2:42 am

*****

As the last handful of ash slipped through Ashara's fingers, it was caught up by a chill wind blowing down from the Snowflake Mountains. The remains of the once proud ranger swirled and danced briefly before dissipating, as if celebrating that final freedom.

It was just past Dawn on the first of Ches. Those companions gathered stood at the edge of Impresk Lake in the same place where seven years previous, the adventuring company known as the Champions of the Red Dawn was born. This time a gathering had come to say goodbye to Aretis Shadowmourn. Words had been spoken. Prayers had been lifted. After years of playing undead slave to that vile priest, he'd finally found peace.

The priestess stood silently in her heavy white robes, scarlet cape snapping sharply in the breeze as it streamed out to her side. She felt...numb. A lack of sensation that had nothing to do with the cold pre-spring morning. Last evening the funerals of Marstine and Kendra were held, with Ashara presiding over the first, and Dawnlord Davion over the second. That would have been difficult enough. There were those townspeople present however, that were angry...blaming the presence of the Champions for the most recent deaths. It was an anger born truly of fear, she knew, but that didn't make the hearing any easier... Another very long, emotionally exhausting night of comforting those who'd suffered loss and making assurances that this trouble had been brought to an end.

Her assurances were not simply empty promises. Before the ceremonies took place, Elric and Ashara used the Scepter to Speak with Aretis' spirit. Since the ranger was unfortunate enough to have kept his mind during the transformation into the Curst creature, he remembered much of the priest Raridan and the tasks he'd been Controlled into performing. He believed that aside from Alagian, the Cyricist had been acting alone in his attacks against the Champions. His own ego and drive for power over his peers leading him ultimately to his own doom... Good news for CoRD, and good news for Impresk.

The Everdawns were able to say their goodbyes "in person," but for Ashara there was still a good deal of pain. Pain and regret. Time would need to heal those particular wounds... She considered keeping a portion of his remains in order to Speak with him again someday, but after what he'd been through, Aretis deserved his uninterrupted rest.

Ashara herself was able to find no rest the previous evening, and this night would bring an even greater challenge. Perrimar and Talgan's funerals would be held at dusk... As much as she desired to lead the ceremony for the two young boys, Elric had advised that she was simply too close to the tragedy to do them justice. He was right. There would be no possible way for her to perform the ceremony without falling apart... Knowing that she had been the one to destroy them... It was the same with Aretis. No, it wasn't rational and she knew that she'd actually released their spirits from the torment of undeath, but when you're the one doing the dusting of friends and family, it sticks with you. It occurred to her then that this wasn't the first time she'd attended a funeral for those that she'd helped to destroy. Memories of Dagadar flitted through her mind.

When a time of silence had passed, Lady Everdawn turned to her friends and family with a sigh and a forced smile.

"Happy anniversary, Champions," she said, her voice filled not with sarcasm but with hope. "May our next year bring us new lives to love, old friends to reunite with and happier memories to share together!

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Elric

Post  Colin Marcus on Mon Jul 12, 2010 2:25 pm

Elric wiped a tear away as Ashara finished speaking. Aretis and he had not been the greatest of friends, but that was in the past. He held no resentment for past disagreements, and truly hoped the ranger would know peace now. Now he had to push his mind to the living.

Bramin and the others had taken the news about Perri and Talgan in stunned silence. Silence was becoming very common at the Everdawn house. It was disconcerting... with a house full of children and students, Quiet used to be hard to find. Still everyone deals with grief their own way.

As Ashara came to his side, he could practically see the weight on her shoulders. It bothered him deeply, She hadn't been sleeping, and it took all his convincing to keep her from doing everything herself. He hugged her close as she came close and she rested her head against the cheap white shirt he wore. A slight grin crossed his face as he remembered 'the compromise.' As fun as the game was, going to a funeral in the winter without a shirt would be a serious breach of Etiquette. Therefore it was agreed, He could wear whatever he wanted to the memorials... but she got to tear it later. It sounded like a good compromise.

Silently he went over the plans in his mind. He had already made arrangements with Davian and the Rosemorns. Ebbard and Arryn took the Everdawnlings with them last night, and Elric had arranged for them to stay there a couple of days. Davian did not like rearranging Ashara's always busy schedule... but when Elric set his mind to something, he could be very convincing.

After they laid the boys to rest tonight, Elric would 'kidnap' his wife and get her out of Impresk for a few days. As the CoRD anniversary, he knew she would resist... but the Other Champions would understand. It was impulsive, but in his mind, necessary. It wouldn't be the first time they had taken short vacations when the stress of her responsibilities or his school got the best of them. This was about as bad a week as they'd seen.

The only thing he hadn't decided yet, was whether to go to Caradoon for a few days, or perhaps the Spirit Soaring. The temple of Denier was known to lift the soul...
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