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Surprise at Skywatch

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Surprise at Skywatch

Post  Wynnsaren on Fri Mar 06, 2015 12:29 pm

6th Kuthona, 4713

Even now the sense of wrongness clung, hanging over the room like a sickly pall. A lingering reminder of the thing that had existed here, but no longer. It had been fatally interrupted at its work of scratching innumerable runes into every surface of the otherwise barren stone chamber and now it was left to this new occupant to decipher that work in time to give this world a chance at surviving what was to come.

In the black the Oracle sat cross-legged, hovering in the center of the space as her clouded eyes scanned and studied each rune in turn and then each grouping of runes, seeking that slim thread of a pattern which she had only just begun to identify. The task itself was monumental. Not only due to the sheer volume of etchings, but this was a puzzle more difficult than any she had set mind to before. The Celestial Song and an utterly alien language were seamlessly interwoven to form. . .what? A runic encylopedia of alien knowledge? A prophecy? A beacon to call the Dreamwalker to this world?

Answers would come but they would take time. Time that frankly, she didn't know if she had.

Skywatch was now in its third week of life as a ghost town. With the exception of three inhabitants. It was only a matter of time before Wynnsaren, Kazimir and Glas were joined by either friendly or unfriendly forces of Brevoy seeking to fill the void and acquire this potentially important advanced operations base. In spite of who or what showed up at their door, she was prepared to do whatever she must in order to continue her study of this runic script.

It was due to this uncertainty that her jaw tensed when she heard the rough metallic croak of the silver raven as it flitted into the room. A message from Kaz. They were no longer alone.

Nimble fingers flicked open the scroll case attached to the back of the magical bird and unrolled the scrap of parchment inside.

"Swans. At least fourscore. Approaching gate."

The aasimar loosed a cheer of relief! Her voice so unused in recent weeks that it sounded not unlike the grating song of the bird perched on her shoulder.

Swans meant House Labeda and House Labeda at her doorstep meant Rasven Winter had received her message!

***

A scant few minutes after the forewarning was sent, a contingent of rangers -- a force of about one hundred, heavily bundled against the clawing cold of the season, made their way in near silence toward the great gates of Skywatch.

Just as they had begun to gather, a figure cloaked in starry radiance floated gently down before the entrance to hover there just above the blanket of snow. As they looked on, a frigid wind gusted through the pass, pressing the fine platinum-colored silk of her gown taut against her frame and whipping back the hood of her cloak. Her onyx hair danced wildly about her face as she turned blind, silver eyes upon those assembled.

"Welcome to Skywatch, Sworn of House Labeda," she called out to them in her otherworldly voice. Formally of course, and far more honestly than if she'd been giving the same speech to soldiers of House Surtova!

"While there is but a meager amount to offer the weary traveler in the way of food stores, these storied walls will provide you with comfortable shelter from such harsh elements as this, healing for your injuries, and warm hearths around which to share tales."

To the aasimar, the sun was appallingly high and burned like hot coals in the back of the her dark-attuned eyes, blinding her even further. There were many present, she could sense them but for the life of her she could see naught but a scant few. Trusting in Kaz' assessment, she pressed on undaunted.

"I would speak to your commanding officer that appropriate arrangements might be made."

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Post  The Sub-Creator on Wed Mar 18, 2015 12:27 am

"And he would speak to you," replied the enchanting tone of Rasven Winter, who approached from the far right side of the accumulating rangers, "for it has been far too long since last he was able to do so."

No sound accompanied his footfalls through the cold snow and ice beneath his soft leather riding boots. A thick cloak of winter wolf fur draped over his shoulders to brush the ground as he passed over it. His tunic and pants boasted the frigid colors of winter, with the crest of Winter displayed prominently upon his chest. Silver-blond locks streamed out behind his head and played chaotically about his forehead to flicker before mysterious platinum eyes. As ever, the glacier hilt and diamond-encrusted pommel of a priceless rapier decorated his hip.

"Wynnsaren of Novastasia," he greeted her with a bow befitting his station. "I had heard rumors that the Gates of Skywatch had indeed been opened, its people whisked away to a location of safe harbor. I have come to lay claim to this once great and fabled city in the name of the King in the West, that his enemies--whose siege at Eagle's Watch will soon be broken--might not seek refuge behind the strength of its walls. How fortuitous that I should find you here." The mere hint of a smile touched upon his lips for her benefit only.

"Might I have permission to move my rangers within? I am certain we can discuss equitable terms that both parties present would find acceptable in more hospitable surroundings."

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Post  Wynnsaren on Wed Mar 18, 2015 6:42 am

"I have all faith in your skills at negotiation, Master Winter of Silverhall," she confirmed, as the subtlest of shivers shook her voice. Anyone sensitive enough to hear the ephemeral slip might have guessed it due to fear of the man or perhaps the bitter cold. It was neither.

The oddly weighted exchange had a few of the men casting curious glances at their companions, but none dared breathe so much as a murmur.

Wynnsaren touched down into the snow and curtsied as deeply as she might to a crown prince, before rising to face him with a slight grin. "Permission granted." Well did she know that she had no place granting him permission to do anything but she enjoyed the moment nonetheless. With an arcing gesture toward the wall of the city, a shimmering light began to gather and solidify at her command, forming a bridge of nacreous illumination that spanned the height of the wall and sloped down into the outer ring of the city beyond.

The Gates of Skywatch were only figuratively opened after all. The huge doors had been securely barred for the past fourteen years and on top of that, the gate had not been cleared of this season's snows.

"If it is acceptable," she directed her attention back to the commander, "Kazimir is well qualified to show your men about inside if you would care to accompany me to the great observatory within the inner city so that we might address matters further."

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Post  The Sub-Creator on Wed Mar 18, 2015 4:16 pm

"More than acceptable," Rasven agreed, and with a simple gesture he spurred the rangers forward onto the bridge of starlight. Despite their large number, the warriors of Silverhall progressed with order and agility across the walkway of luminescence.

Master Winter closed the gap between he and Wynnsaren, his hands clasped firmly and safely behind his back. "These men will be of no burden to you, Ambassador," he explained, placing an intimation of playfulness within the sounding out of her title, though maintaining a respectable distance of three paces between them physically. "They are hand-picked for this most paramount of missions, and each one more than capable of feeding himself off the land surrounding the city. It is entirely possible that--once they have settled into their positions along the wall and interior--you will not even note their presence here."

He motioned toward the west with a subtle tip of his head. "I have ordered a small contingent to remain in the outlying wilderness--a score in number only. If danger threatens, it will be from the west. These are the best I have commissioned at remaining unseen, so they will give plenty of warning if an enemy approaches."

Identifying that the last of his men had stepped foot upon the bridge, stepped back and to the left, so as to clear the way for her. "Shall we to the observatory, then? I have read wondrous things about it, and we have many matters to address, you and I."

With his men now moving away and out of sight lines, Rasven could not help but smile most sincerely at the one who had enchanted him so.

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Post  Wynnsaren on Wed Mar 18, 2015 5:13 pm

"Many matters indeed," Wynnsaren uttered softly. Even now two years since that fated meeting, she felt the invariable tug towards this man as strongly as the one that lured her heavenward. And so, it was with marked difficulty that she maintained that three pace separation and pulled herself from his gaze to begin the walk across the bridge.

They had passed over the wall before she broke the silence to describe to him some of the events that had transpired here in the city that may not have been mentioned by the refugees. She told him of the strange non-magical shell that encompassed the city and how they were able to pass through only by crawling into a wooden box. As they walked along, the starlit bridge disappeared behind them. She mentioned the vines that had tried to pull her into the ground just outside the gates where she suspected that those who had previously come to investigate the matter of Skywatch were entombed, and pointed out the mass grave where hundreds of the alien-animated citizens now lay buried. Their farms now lying fallow.

The distance quickly passed and after the telling of Maturo-Shi's narrow escape from the mind-controlled mob, the pair moved through the opened gate into the inner city.

"Welcome to the real Skywatch," the aasimar intoned through a thin smile as she indicated the cyclopean-sized buildings about them. "I would suggest to your rangers that they not enter this area unless necessary. It has been cleared of all threats save one. An irritatingly persistent strain of alien plant that confuses one's mind. Nasty business," she grimaced. "Kaz and I have salted and burned and yet every few days I find a new shoot coming up. It is only a matter of a bit of weeding now and then until I have the time to find a better way of dealing with them."

Wynnsaren glanced over to him and smiled. "Thanks to you, I no longer have to fear for lack of time to accomplish what must be done here."

As they approached the great tower, she watched the Merchant Prince's expression in order to see the edifice through his eyes. "It is not the Winter estate," she grinned, "but it is quite something. Built by cyclops, it was maintained by three of their undead kind who continued the astrological work up until a few weeks ago." Together they pushed open the large door and entered within.

Dimly lit by the open ceiling four stories above, it was evident that a battle took place here. Rubble lay in heaps in the center of the room and while the bodies of undead and mi-go had been removed, a good deal of blood yet stained the stones. A large portion of it being her own, she recognized, though chose not to share that particular point. Astrological journals still lined the shelves on the walls. Ancient and delicate works that she'd insisted not risk being moved until necessary. Two very large chairs stood before a very large table that dwarfed them both.

"Please forgive the mess," Wynn apologized, shutting the door behind them with a echoing thud and blinking in relief from the sun's rays. It was odd to see such a regal figure standing amidst such an ignoble setting. She'd only ever spent time with him in the surrounds of Silverhall and the grand estate in which he lived, and seeing him here now was a most surreal experience!

"You are a sight for sore eyes, my dear Rasven," she chuckled gently as she watched him peer about the room. "I had hoped that your men would arrive before the Surtovas or Medvyeds for I suspected that dealings with them would not be nearly as. . .pleasant, but I certainly did not expect you to accompany them. Clearly I am ill prepared for such esteemed company! I have little to offer you in the way of comfort or amenities," she considered helplessly. "I do have a bottle of wine up on the top floor but frankly I would be embarrassed for anything of its quality to pass your lips."

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Post  The Sub-Creator on Wed Mar 18, 2015 5:37 pm

Though the giant structure fascinated him, and the incredible tomes upon the bookshelves beckoned for him to examine their contents, Rasven's practiced ear drank in every sweet word from his host's honeyed tongue. Now that they were alone, he greatly desired to take her up in his arms and feel her warmth pressed close to him. Such would hardly be proper, he reminded himself repeatedly. He often wondered when the moment might come that propriety could be slackened ever so slightly.

Perhaps even damned.

"You may be surprised to learn I have imbibed a great many unpalatable wines in my day," he reassured her with a playful smirk as his eyes settled pleasantly upon her countenance. "I cannot believe that sharing anything with you could be less than extraordinary. It would please me to accept whatever refreshment you have to offer, or, barring that, the pleasure of your company more than suffices my spirit. There is much I have done, but nothing I have desired more these past months, Wynnsaren."

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Post  Wynnsaren on Wed Mar 18, 2015 7:44 pm

"Flatterer," she chided, poorly feigning displeasure. Unexpectedly and unprecedentedly, the aasimar flew toward Rasven to press a chaste kiss on his cheek. "But thank you," she smiled, floating back to her three pace distance. "I missed you as well.

"And since you are undaunted by my offer of inferior wine, let us then adjourn to the top floor. It is somewhat less. . .ruinous." A graceful motion of her hand brought forth another starlight bridge, this one in a helical formation that spiraled up to the top of the observatory tower, one hundred and twenty feet above. "I trust you will find it worth a bit of a climb. The artifice is unlike anything I have ever seen and I have dearly wished to share it with you!"

It was evident that some effort had been made to tidy up after the battles that transpired at the vertex, and that, only due to the fact that Wynnsaren had set up temporary lodging here. Opposite the colossal telescope hung a simple hammock and beside that, a small shelf with a few belongings and changes of clothes. Two of these belongings she procured forthwith; a partially imbibed bottle of wine and a solitary glass.

"You do not exaggerate when you say you have done much these past months." She poured a few swallows of the sweet wine into the glass and set it (for the remote possibility of later consumption) on the giant-sized table that dominated the western half of the room, before gliding over to Rasven. "And I am sure I know not the half of it! News of your exploits and some of the tragedies of the civil war trickle south and I have been concerned for you far more than I have admitted in my missives. You see," she whispered conspiratorially into his ear, "I have cheered on your every victory during these past months and sent prayers to every decent god who might hear, that you and your lord -- your king, might triumph and that the war will be over hastily. While Novastasia may be neutral during this conflict and while I as ambassador must necessarily be, I am -- in my heart, most definitively biased."

Treading on naught but six inches of air, Wynnsaren, now of a height with the man, smiled warmly and circled the Merchant Prince as if taking in the sight of him for the first time. "From what you have mentioned, it appears you have the war well in hand but still I wonder how you are faring under the burden." She flicked her clouded gaze down to the six priceless rings on his fingers. "Your. . .condition. Does it worsen?"

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Post  The Sub-Creator on Thu Mar 19, 2015 12:25 am

The topmost chamber of the observatory indeed held a most wondrous telescope, the size of which he had seen only in Numeria and far-off Osirion, two nations also preoccupied with gazing at the stars--or, more aptly, what lies in the blackness between them. This particular artifice differed from others by its makeup, however, which appeared an amalgamation of unique metals spliced together for reasons he currently could not guess. Likewise, he had never viewed a telescope designed specifically for a giant's use, making its dimensions much larger, as well.

Rasven only invested a small fraction of a moment or two upon the giant telescope; instead, his gaze favored the woman going about her business of collection. The stars intrigued him, no doubt, but their greatest mystery hovered before him in this very room. He had no desire to turn his attention anywhere else!

"I am thankful for your heart's partiality," he whispered his reply in an equally conspiratorial tone. Her warm breath upon his half-elven ear caused his heart to beat a little quicker, and Silverhall's most successful merchant prince failed to stifle a smirk at the tingling sensation that reached the very tips of his fingers and toes.

"The war progresses favorably," he answered her inquiry allegorically, "though one should never discount the pain such conflict inevitably brings to all involved. There are spies ever at hand, hearing where possible every nugget of news and listening for every voice inflection that might somehow turn the tide of fighting. It is imperative, then, Wynnsaren, that I never let my guard down, lest a weakness be discovered and exploited that would unravel in an instant all the gains achieved. At any given moment, the polarity between victory and defeat is separated by thread easily severed."

Rasven gazed into her eyes, unconsciously cradling her chin with his finger despite not needing to lift her face upward. "I trust you understand"--he spoke softly, intimately--"this to be the purpose as to why I refrain from speaking openly about the war to you. My time with you is far too precious, Wynnsaren."

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Post  Wynnsaren on Thu Mar 19, 2015 1:30 pm

Heat flooded through her and once she remembered how to breathe, Wynnsaren found her head bobbing in compliance before any order from her brain was sent to do so. Gods he was mesmerizing! Dangerously so, she admitted most soberly. Could he really have been playing her from the beginning as both Kaz and the King so indelicately suggested? If she were honest with herself, than yes. If anyone was capable of stringing her along for the last two years it would be this man but while he was surely capable, the aasimar couldn't bring herself to believe that to be the truth. Not when he would risk so much pain in order to answer her question -- even if it was necessarily cloaked in metaphor.

"I understand," Wynn replied gently, her smile colored by the heartache she felt for him. "I have no desire to undermine the headway that you have made in your battles." This was a fight that he faced alone. No armies, no spies, no help from foreign nations. Only Rasven's strength of will had sustained him for these past centuries against the Oath, and she had all faith he could hold out a little longer. He must. . .

This blessedly near to him she could sense a difference in his presence. Something had changed in him -- or was it in her? Curiously, the aasimar lifted her hand and pressed it against the Winter coat of arms emblazoned upon his chest, and almost immediately her eyes widened! She could almost feel it! A binding power -- frightening in its strength, it was as if the Oath was a tangible thing wrapped securely about his spirit! If she could only grab hold of those bonds, than she was sure she could break them! The Recollector was right. . . When the time came, freeing Rasven would be as easy as severing that thread to which he had just alluded!

Hope welled in her eyes, her smile radiating from her entire being! She dared not share what she now knew -- at least not without veiling her words, but perhaps he already understood. Perhaps he had known all along.

With that thought, she removed her palm and reached down to pull the precious orb from it's place beneath her bodice. "Rasven, this sphere. . . You told me once that it was a gift from the Mwangi but I believe it was more than simply gifted you. I believe that it came with a prophecy. Tell me please if you are able, did you know that one day I would come? Did you know that I was the one who could help you end this war?"

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Post  The Sub-Creator on Thu Mar 19, 2015 9:25 pm

"No," Rasven proclaimed after a momentary pause to fully digest the questions she presented him. He softly dragged the outside of his fingers up her chin and cheek to brush midnight black hair behind her ear, letting his fingertips tenderly caress the top of the ear before losing themselves in her silky tresses. Now, he thought, envisioning stepping in close to kiss this woman to whom his heart had been lost. The moment is now.

"I took that on faith," he said instead, sharing a private smile with her. It felt amazing to have one person with whom he could share that honest smile with!

"The sphere was gifted to me by an ancient shaman--a man of years I surmised to be well beyond my own. He performed other important tasks for me, as well," the merchant prince explained, tearing his eyes briefly from hers to indicate the invaluable rings still visible by her upon his left hand. "He assured me that the orb would be of necessity to me one day, and he insinuated a great deal more."

Rasven breathed a deep sigh at the recollection. "Trust," he whispered to her. "Its worth would be measured through trust." He chuckled in a self-deprecating fashion and shook his head in virtual disbelief after repeating the phrase. The smile that shone brightly upon his countenance practically enveloped his modestly pointed ears.

"Or, perhaps," he announced in a surprised, soft voice layered with equal parts revelation and giddiness, "I did know all along . . . without knowing I knew . . . ."

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Post  Wynnsaren on Fri Mar 20, 2015 5:34 pm

That smile broke through the hard, cool and collected veneer that had necessarily become a barrier between Master Winter and the rest of the world. It was as if the moon had risen and the cacophonous fog of day melted away into perfect, beautiful clarity. And she saw him. The heart -- the truth of the man. How strangely alluring to know that in all the world, she alone knew him as he truly was!

"And you chose to put that trust in me. A profound leap of faith," she murmured incredulously. "Thank you for that trust and know that it was not misplaced. I ask only that you trust me a little while longer, for my work with this artifact is not yet complete."

Wynnsaren slipped the orb back into its pouch around her neck.

"You see, nothing is coincidence, Rasven," she smiled serenely as he cradled her head in his hand, "for this gift you were given was not one solely of magic, but of memory. Specifically. . .my memories! My lifetimes of experiences on this world and others have been compiled into this orb so that one day -- at the culmination of events, they could be returned to me.

"The being who is helping me through the process of reacquiring these experiences, told me that not only could I end this war, but that you would be necessary to me when the time came. Now I am sure the Recollector was referring to a specific time in the not-so-distant future but the thing is, my prince. . .you already are. Necessary."

The corner of her lips turned up in a coquettish smirk. "I only wonder now, how open you are to being involved with a significantly older woman?"

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Post  The Sub-Creator on Fri Mar 20, 2015 11:57 pm

"'A significantly older woman,'" he accepted the bait with a profound glimmer in his eye. "Ah. So, this is to be a test of resolve, then."

That's when it happened . . . a moment two centuries in the making; a sound Rasven believed he'd never hear himself make again after the darkness and cold. A sound so simple, yet so freeing, that it caught him completely by surprise!

Rasven snickered.

"I trust you implicitly, Wynnsaren," he recovered from the joyous sound only to lose himself in the starlight of her eyes. "The orb is yours--if I am able to grant you a gift of that which already belonged to you." Rasven permitted his hand to affectionately caress her hair before settling upon where her shoulder meets the neck. There, his thumb swept lovingly across her lower jawline, while his fingers soaked in the softness of her skin. During that time, his left hand sought and found her right, and he took it gently into his.

"All the memories stored within the orb are precious to me because they are yours. But I am more keenly interested in memories not yet fashioned, for those are the memories I hope to play a significant role in making with you.

"We have much to do in our respective wars, you and I," Rasven offered a comforting smile to disarm the harsh realities of that statement, "and in war anything can happen. None understand the risks better than I . . . . "

He paused a moment, as if his words had drifted him into a corner that left him with nowhere to continue . . . Another first for Rasven Winter!

"I have never seen you look more stunning than you do now in this platinum gown," he complimented her in a way that seemed strangely off-topic, save that he followed it up with: "I believe,however, the colors of Winter would compliment you better, Wynnsaren."

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Post  Wynnsaren on Sat Mar 21, 2015 5:13 pm

Though feeling more than a little intoxicated by the tender ministrations of his fingers, the aasimar sobered the instant those last words were spoken. Her lips parted in astonishment! The Merchant Prince of Silverhall was speaking of matters far more weighty than simple fashion advice!

Wynnsaren thoughtfully raised her left hand once again to the familiar symbol on his chest. "You know I have never allowed myself the luxury of giving thought to plans for my own future." Her voice strained against the sudden emotion as she watched her fingers outline the three icicles of his house; fathomless, icy blue on a field of white hoarfrost. "Such preparations have always seemed presumptuous in the end and the cost has been so very painful. But you have seen beyond those barriers my life presents. . . our lives present," she amended with a smile, "and have overcome them each in turn."

That free hand made its way northward, where she brushed a few strands of silver-blond locks from before his eye and trailed her thumb reverently along his brow as she explored the aristocratic features of this man she so adored. Could such happiness be possible in this life, she wondered? Was it selfish of her to desire something so very much? Selfish or not, it didn't change the fact that she loved him and wanted to live life by his side. Wynn refused to deny herself that opportunity out of fear of pain!

"I have not foreseen what the future holds for you and I, my dear Rasven," she began again, this time with strength and surety. "But one thing I do know. If Fate and Fortune smile upon us and we live beyond these wars, than I would consider myself most fortunate among women to wear the colors of House Winter. . . to the exclusion of all others.

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Post  The Sub-Creator on Sun Mar 22, 2015 9:47 am

Confirmation.

Blessed reality.

Rasven swallowed without actually swallowing, the lump in his throat moving enough to permit sound to pass through. "Wynnsaren, I . . . . " he began, but what could he say? How could he follow that answer with mere words? In truth, he had not come to Skywatch with the intent of proposing--even in such an awkward, roundabout way! He had come because he knew she would be here. The city meant very little in the grand scheme of things, save that his occupying it would prevent his enemies from doing the same; its importance for victory in this civil war was rudimentary at best.

The city held value to Wynnsaren, however, and she was invaluable to him. Thus, Skywatch's strategic value also soared exponentially! Rasven had followed his heart here, and his heart had not deceived him. He loved this woman before all other worldly things!

Those thoughts spurred pinpricks of light to appear in the stones of his rings. He felt it immediately and only smiled all the wider as he gazed into the soul-searching radiance of Wynn's eyes. Not allowing his thoughts to hold him back this time, but instead listening once more to his heart, Rasven slid his right hand behind her neck, applying just enough gentle pressure there to guide her closer to him. He lowered his lips to hers, but did not force contact. Rasven Winter would never force himself upon any woman--such had never been his way, but especially not upon her . . .

The skin across his clothed back rippled as he felt the muscles there yawning open beneath it. Yet, it elicited no outward response from the merchant prince, whose every thought bent upon his newly betrothed.

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Post  Wynnsaren on Sun Mar 22, 2015 11:42 pm

". . . I love you," she both finished for Rasven and replied to him in the same whispered breath.  The Oath may have prevented him from voicing such words but he hardly needed to do so, for Wynnsaren was not so blind as to miss that truth held in his actions and in his touch.  She spoke only what her heart had been shouting for two years.  To say the words aloud was a wonderful relief!

There was no hesitation as she spanned that intangible gulf which had divided them for so long.  Instead she met him eagerly, slipping her hand around him, beneath his heavy winter wolf cloak as she pulled herself near and pressed her lips against his.  Quite suddenly the world shrunk in its scope and even the sun's perpetual screaming was drown out by her own thundering heart!

Each of Rasven's rings burst into brilliant light at such willful breaking of his Oath, and though Wynn was entirely too occupied to notice the light show, she could not help but feel the horrifying undulation of his skin beneath fine fabric of his tunic.

No. . .  Not again!

In response to this cruel torment, the aasimar, through that gentle and precious connection, poured her soul -- all the warmth and light of a thousand, thousand stars into Rasven Winter, hoping to forever banish memories of the clawing cold and enveloping blackness and the suffering he had endured and instead fill him with the hope of Freedom, of Wholeness and Healing, and of Happiness yet to come.

Something did indeed pass between them then.  Something unexpected.  Something more than mere wishes.  

A subtle pulse of power left her body and entered his, merging with the suppressive energies of his rings and bolstering their effectiveness exponentially!  Miraculously, the agonizing rippling of his flesh ceased as the attack was brought to an abrupt halt as quickly as it had begun!

Joy and love bloomed within, staggering in their intensity and manifesting as silvered tears which spilled silently from beneath her dark lashes.

She would save him.  Just as he had saved her.

'Worldwalker', the Recollector had named her, and for thousands of years -- scores of lives yet to be remembered, she had done just that.  Wandered.  It was only now, in this life with this man, that she discovered that she was finally home.

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Post  The Sub-Creator on Mon Mar 23, 2015 8:22 pm

Rasven had anticipated this kiss to carry him through the attack--an attack that he expected would be like none other he had experienced these past two centuries. Conceivably, such a blatant transgression against the Oath could kill him, though he hoped the magic in the Rings of Winter strong enough to push back such a dire consequence. Nothing could have prepared him for the reality of what actually happened, however!

The attack subsided . . .

He felt a surge of power wash through him on waves of warmth, and the debilitating agony that he'd already prepared his mind to accept melted away without so much as a token resistance. Elation welled up on the heels of the improbable, and it fed the hunger of the moment. Relieved from a mountain of pain, Rasven deepened the kiss, seeking to deepen the connection between them during this most auspicious moment.

When Rasven recognized the moisture upon her cheeks, he tentatively pulled back, afraid that perhaps he'd pushed too hard. "Wynnsaren?" he began softly, but immediately noted the radiance of exultation upon her visage and his heart resumed its joyous beating. He tenderly brushed a thumb across her right cheek to wipe away the wetness. "It is you," he breathed with quiet thankfulness. "For decades I have searched for an answer across the face of Golarion . . . when all the while it was you."

Rasven Winter kissed her again, this time more sweetly, as a way of saying 'thank you,' and he smiled. "My heart recognized you immediately, it would seem."

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Post  Wynnsaren on Tue Mar 24, 2015 6:43 am

"Yours was not alone in that recognition," she smiled in return, ridiculously pleased, as she leaned against the solid security of his chest.  "I only wish my head had known sooner, that you might not have had to endure further suffering."

Wynnsaren paused a moment in attempt to steady her erratic pulse, though only to mild success.  

"In light of this new discovery, I wonder if you would permit me to impose upon you on a more regular basis," she grinned.  "You see, at the end of each month I use your orb to return to the Mwangi for another day-long session of remembrances, but afterward I have found that I am so mentally and physically drained from the process, that it is useless even to try to decipher the etchings here at Skywatch until the day following."  Wynn freed her left hand to indicate the stacks of parchments on the enormous table -- the rubbings Zaistrun's students had taken in case she would have to vacate the city prematurely.

"Perhaps I might be of more use to you.  May I spend that day at the Winter estate before returning here each month?"  Wynnsaren asked, absently twisting a lock of his hair about her finger.  "I cannot promise to be the best of company in such a state, nor would I wish to interfere with your responsibilities, however I may learn if my maturation has progressed to the point where I might aid you further.

"Whiiiiiich," she drawled out abashedly, "is just another way for me to admit that I do not want to go the next four months or more without seeing you again. . ."

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Post  The Sub-Creator on Wed Mar 25, 2015 11:59 pm

"You cannot impose upon me, Wynnsaren," he explained to her unnecessarily, but with a certain amount of delight. "What's mine is yours from this day forward. Though I know it improper to call it such at this time, it would please me if you thought of the Winter estate as home. I will inform Lis of your regular visitations upon my return and have chambers awaiting your arrival."

Rasven quieted, basking in his nearness to Wynn that had been a long time coming! His breathing steadied, the merchant prince rested his head upon the top of hers and closed his eyes in peace. Never before had he prepared himself for the Oath's intrusions and not suffered exquisite anguish for hours upon days thereafter. The serenity of this moment bordered on the surreal!

"I have dedicated my life to the defense and well-being of the people of Silverhall," he broke the silence with a gentle tone, but also a purposeful one. "Such dedication will remain, as it must, but surely to be surpassed by my dedication to you. I say this with full understanding that the gods have a purpose--a design, if you will--for your life, Wynnsaren. I will not stand in the way of that design, nor will I expect to be elevated above it. Divine work requires much of one's life.

"I promised you long ago that I you would have only truth from me. Thus, I need you to understand unequivocally that when I tell you I cannot be imposed upon by you, those are not mere words. If you need me, Wynnsaren, for anything, ask it of me. I will do all in my power to accommodate your request, even unto death." He smiled imperceptibly. "It is possible that I have learned a thing or two on how to get around such an inevitable end anyhow, even if only for a century or two."

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Post  Wynnsaren on Sat Mar 28, 2015 12:29 pm

"If I were to be so reckless as to admit a selfish desire for the future, it would be this, Rasven. . .  That your purpose could become my purpose.  That this divine burden -- once all prophecy is fulfilled, could simply pass from me and I could live and work by your side for the peace and prosperity of the people you have come to love."

A knot of emotion rose in her throat choking out further admissions.  How much harder it was to speak such a thing aloud than to merely think it in the well-hidden corners of the mind!  Speaking of hopes and dreams made them real -- made them tangible, and able to be stolen or shattered.  

The oracle knew the gravity of what was coming.  She knew that sacrifices would have to be made and that there would be a price that she personally would have to pay.  She knew it as concretely as she knew the love she held for the man that embraced her, and she knew that she would not hesitate to give her own life as that payment if so required.

But those reverberating words of the Recollector still sounded as clearly in her ears as the day they were spoken.  "He will be necessary to you when the time comes."  Did that infer that Rasven would be further needed to fulfill her purpose here?  Would she have to call upon him then at that most dangerous hour and ask him to risk his life lest all else fall to darkness and chaos?  Dear gods, let it never be!  

To give her own life. . .  That she was prepared for.  To ask him to give his?  To lose him just when she found him, here at the cusp of a life. . .of hope?  The Song of the Stars would not be enough to sustain her.  There would be nothing left.

Wynnsaren abruptly banished such senseless worry from her mind and turned her ear instead to the rhythmic pulsation of Rasven's heart.  A new Song from which to draw strength!  One that she prayed she would grow to know as intimately as its celestial counterpart.

"I will remember your words and will not fail to call when I am in need of you, my love," she quietly replied, "though I have no desire to test your survival acumen.

"How is it that you have managed to live so far beyond the normally allotted span of years?  What will happen when you are no longer required to seek out such. . .alternatives?"

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Post  The Sub-Creator on Tue Mar 31, 2015 3:56 pm

"I am involved with business and trade partnerships throughout Avistan, Garund, and beyond," Rasven commenced with the explanation to her questions, "though certainly that comes as no surprise to you. The lands surrounding Brevoy deal in all kinds of exotic wealth that can be extrapolated by a cunning mind, and my acumen has served me well throughout the decades. My first requirement to be of service to Silverhall, in fact, necessitated accumulation of great wealth, and thus I bent my mind wholly to it. We have spoken in length of this in the past, so I will not rehash those bygone days now." He squeezed her a little tighter as a way of silently stating, 'You're welcome.'

"Wealth as I have accrued opens a great many doors to prizes unreachable by most, however. Six of those prizes get auctioned off in Thuvia each year: the sun orchid elixir. This unique elixir temporarily halts the aging process for a time, greatly extending one's life, as well as youth. I have consumed two in the last century-and-a-half, and still maintain two within my possession for future use. I thought it prudent to stockpile should hard times befall me in the future . . . even to one as practiced as I, the nature of trade associations make them fickle things."

Rasven lightly stroked her raven-black hair, his nimble fingers deftly massaging her scalp with each pass. "What will happen when the magical extension of my life no longer becomes necessary is not something I put much thought into, Wynnsaren. Such thoughts pained me greatly, quite frankly; they were not options for me. When all of this concludes," he finished resolutely, "we shall come to such decisions together, you and I."

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Post  Wynnsaren on Tue Mar 31, 2015 11:31 pm

It seemed a perilous thing to be speaking about the future in this way. Their future. . .aloud, and not even in whispers! Normally Wynnsaren would have been quite ill at ease discussing such a topic, but the smooth voice and gentle touch of the merchant prince wove such a cocoon of assurance around her senses, that she could nearly envision such a future coming to pass! A darkness obscured any clearer vision. Between now and then stood a gulf as black as pitch; a yawning maw seeking to devour any that ventured near and the whole of the world was tumbling and spinning in its direction! But now -- ever so slightly, she could see beyond it something beautiful.

The aasimar pulled back, holding him at arms length that she might look up at his face. "When all of this concludes then," she smiled and nodded as if setting a date. "And to that end, there is something I would like for you to see."

Wynnsaren took his right hand and led him over to the cyclopean-sized table, where the bottle and untouched goblet of wine stood at one end and stacks of parchments at the other.

"This is what I have been working on ceaselessly since we arrived in Skywatch." Releasing her betrothed, she began to spread the parchments sheet by sheet, out upon the table. "This writing fills my mind morning and night and even my dreams during the scant hours of sleep I allow myself since the incident with the king of Novastasia.

"There is a chamber within another of these buildings in which these . . . etchings are scribed on every surface, ceiling, floor and walls. I know that the information contained there holds the key to the next piece of the puzzle -- information perhaps as to where we must seek out the threat before its plans come to fruition." Wynn raked her fingers through her hair and with an accompanying sigh, shook it out in frustration.

"It is not simply a language," she turned to face him as she made attempt at explanation. "It is that and more. . . an intertwining of language and musical composition! Now I know only the very basics of how to read music, but the Song contained within these markings is more familiar to me than breathing. It is not merely a song. It is the Song! The Celestial Symphony itself, written and mingled with this alien language!"

Wynn glance back down at one of the parchments in front of her and tapped it gently with the fingers of her right hand. "I have made some progress," she admitted hesitantly, "though precious little to date. I am starting to see patterns within the writing. It is not linear you see, but spherical. I suspect that I must find a. . .a point of origin and then read outward in ever expanding rings. A Cynosure," she grinned. "The first note." The aasimar chewed a moment at her bottom lip. "And the last. . ." The words drifted off in consideration of that thought.

When her silver eyes once again met those of the half elf's, they were filled not with fear or frustration, but with the simmering excitement of a puzzle to solve!

"You are man of great resources, Rasven Winter but more impressive than that, you are a man of even greater skills." The smile that spread across Wynnsaren's features was warm enough to border on the sultry. "Not only are you an accomplished linguist, but a composer whose works I have enjoyed for these last years!" She motioned to the starry cloak which hung on a peg near her hammock. "I would be remiss were I not to ask your opinion -- if you notice something that I have overlooked. Your eyes after all, are so much younger than my own!"

She bent close to the parchments, squinting dramatically and stifling a grin.

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Post  The Sub-Creator on Thu Apr 02, 2015 11:26 am

Rasven permitted his grin to show as he moved beside Wynnsaren to peruse the parchments. Slashes curved and looped and twisted all over the page. The only order depicted upon the surface was uniform chaos. After a minute of studying it, he determined that not a single mark mimicked another anywhere. He had seen children's scribblings hold more consistent clarity than what he now gazed upon.

"An entire building with this on every surface, you say?" he inquired rhetorically. "The bigger picture must provide more clarity when taken in its completeness, certainly, because this," he motioned at all the parchments scattered about the table, "this portrays nothing but madness upon a page. I have seen nothing like it, I admit. Alien hardly expresses it aptly."

Rasven chuckled and shook his head, at a loss. "Had I months to spend beside you in this endeavor, it might be possible that I could be of some assistance to you, Wynnsaren." He gently placed his hand atop hers, where it rested upon the table. "While there is nowhere I would rather be, I fear there exists a place I yet must be . . . . A job I am yet required to do."

The Defender of Silverhall stole another long glance at the numerous parchments spread out before them. "You indicate that something sensical resides amidst all of this gibberish? That there may indeed be a beginning and an end?" Rasven hmm'ed and tilted his head slightly to the side. "I would posit that whatever would have the capacity to create . . . this," he swept a hand indicating the scattered documents, "might well have the capacity to think outside the normal parameters of logic. Forgive me if I sound boorish in my interpretation--I lack knowledge about this . . . writing that you possess from your studies, but it strikes me that perhaps the customary start and finish would prove far too logical for whatever could construct such a language. Dead ends, as it were."

Rasven lifted his eyebrows momentarily and shook his head again, as if that line of reasoning hurt even him. "Just a thought. Something to give you another angle to peruse, as though you needed such additional interference, surely," he offered a most apologetic smile.

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Post  Wynnsaren on Thu Apr 02, 2015 3:25 pm

"No, Rasven. I needed your interference. . ."

Perhaps she had been coming at this problem from entirely the wrong direction. Even though Wynn had suspected a spherical pattern, she had still been thinking linearly as she would in trying to decipher any other language, but this? There was information contained within these scrawlings, she took that on faith, but this she wasn't even sure could properly be called a 'language'!

The aasimar closed her eyes and remembered the dream she had of flying through the stars before the writhing creature from beyond had interrupted. Instinctively turning her hand over, she intertwined her fingers with Rasven's, grounding herself. What must be like for these creatures who traveled and perhaps even lived in the space between the stars? Floating in the void Wynn could remember those stars spanning out in all directions. No beginning. No end. No up or down. Timeless.

Her vision suddenly snapped her back into the blackness of the room where she'd spent the last months. Wynn floated, cross-legged , in the center while around her the alien markings spanned out in all directions. No beginning. No end. The floor and ceiling and walls simply fell away as the writing swirled about her.

Wynnsaren's eyes flicked open as she took in sharp breath.

She turned to the merchant prince feeling a bit stunned. "I believe you are right. . . I need to take it as a whole and not try to cram these writings into the tiny, rational boxes of my own understanding. I must open my mind up to the chaos of it." For a brief moment Wynn's rapid blinking and furrowed brow betrayed her dislike of that particular idea.

"I should go back while these thoughts are fresh in mind." Smiling up at Rasven, she pulled their clasped hands to her lips and pressed a soft kiss upon his knuckles. "Would you be interested in coming with me, my dear? To see the room in question?"

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Post  The Sub-Creator on Thu Apr 02, 2015 3:56 pm

"I would like nothing more," Rasven answered honestly, caressing Wynnsaren's cheek with the back of his fingers from his free hand. "Yet, if I have somehow awakened ingenuitive thoughts regarding this problem, mayhaps my continued presence serves as a hindrance toward your desired goal in this. In which case, it would be best if I took leave of you here, that you might get back to your most important work, my love."

Rasven clasped both her hands in his. "My rangers will work diligently to keep you safe within these walls. Grayhaven draws near to collapse, and Eagle's Watch shall soon sally forth when I have brought up forces to aid them against the siege. To the south, the Medvyeds have begun to turn on one another. New Stetven will not last through the Summer, and the false regent will have nowhere to turn save his own lands to the northwest. Rest assured, my Lady, that none will bother you here for as long as you require to stay."

The merchant prince kissed her passionately then, conveying in that single kiss the measure of his love and eagerness to be with her throughout the many days they would now be apart. When the lengthy gesture completed, Rasven stepped away from her and proffered a genuine smile. "I shall await your arrival in Silverhall with ardent anticipation, Wynnsaren. The gods' speed in your endeavor."

With that, he disappeared.

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Post  Wynnsaren on Fri Apr 03, 2015 9:35 am

Wynnsaren drifted backward until she slumped against the edge of the enormous table, where she exhaled the most girly sigh she'd ever dared utter.  For just one moment she allowed herself to feel that giddy anticipation of the future, wondering what it might be like to be wed to such a man, with his hungry kisses, ostentatious tendencies and cultivated reputation black enough to make a demon blush.  What a fine addition her own reputation would now make to his, what with her attempted regicide of the King of Novastasia!

With a helpless chuckle, the aasimar leaned over to snatch the much-maligned glass of wine which sat lonely on the corner of the table.  It was ridiculous how starkly different the reality of Rasven Winter compared with his notoriety, she thought, swirling the wine about the glass a few times.  Out of his suffering, seared with soul-deep scars, he had managed to emerge the most admirable of men!  The most impressive of characters!

Rather than wax poetic about the merchant prince until the stars sang -- which she realized could be done with ease, she had best get back to work.  Wynn tipped back the glass and drained the wine in one smooth swallow.  Filthsome stuff. . .  She certainly didn't need her insides any warmer than they already were but she hoped the alcohol would help settle her scattered thoughts.

The day had certainly presented some surprises.  Betrothed???  The idea did not sit comfortably after all of those decades avoiding such emotional connection, though she looked forward to the acclimation!   Nothing had changed though -- not really, and nothing would change unless she managed to finish this mission and avert an apocalypse!  With Rasven's mantle of protection now spread out over her in Skywatch, she had a much better chance of doing just that.

With ease brought by lifetimes of practice, Wynnsaren shut down all thoughts of personal future and all the excitement, anticipation and worry that accompanied.  The empty glass was left on the table as she floated over to remove her starry cloak from the hook across the room.  She slung it over her shoulders and grabbed her journal filled with star-charts on a hunch.  

One day there would be time to daydream, and she looked forward to that day.  For now however, there was a job to do.

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