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Solicitude in the Shackles

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Solicitude in the Shackles

Post  Wynnsaren on Sat Nov 14, 2015 10:21 pm

5th of Lamashan, 4714


Amidst the cacophonous quiet of an evening in the jungle, frogs and cicadas chirruped, birds whistled from one tree to another, communicating their desires in lilting strains while a monkey hooted a welcome. . .or warning, in the far distant thickness of the vegetation.

It should have been peaceful -- cathartic even, and it had been just that not long ago when the aasimar last visited the region, but recent events had leeched any modicum of peace from her world. Now it took all of her force of will to staunch the maddened scream that welled up inside of her and avoid clawing down the walls of the infernal hut where they'd been training for the last four days.

Five days since they had received the message about Master Winter's condition. Nine days since he'd fallen into his soulless slumber. Three more days until she could do anything about it. . .

It was after a full day of practicing the breaching ritual that Wynnsaren, with legs folded beneath her, sat silently on her pallet against the wall of the wooden structure, staring blankly across the room. The motionless, meditative posture belied the tumult that raged within, yet she compelled herself to remain so, trying desperately to ferret out a place of calm. All of her years had afforded her a great capacity for suppressing the mental noise, the questions, the doubts and the fears that arose in the midst of a mission, but try as she might, she could not shut this out and she could bear it no longer. Keeping her own company was proving to be nothing but toxic. Wynn had to get out in the open air and preferably away from herself for awhile!

Her eyes, which had so recently appeared as raging blue flames of mythic power, had dulled once more to a soft indigo light. and now they sharpened into focus, coming to rest upon the man -- the king, to whom she'd sacrificed a portion of herself as necessitated by Fate.

The regent, who since that event had grown even more physically imposing, seemed similarly lost in his own thoughts. She wasted no time seizing the opportunity.

Wynnsaren rose from the pallet and moved over to the man who turned his piercing blue eyes upon her as she approached. "Your Majesty, might you be willing to accompany me for a walk? Along the beach maybe," she considered aloud. "I am feeling rather. . . enclosed within these walls."

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Post  Thaddeus Medvyed on Sun Nov 15, 2015 7:23 pm

The king had much to think about. With the ever looming threat of the Dreamer present, Thaddeus was constantly aware of their time table. Nyrissa's defeat, the culmination of one of his life's tangled up strands of fate was simply one of many things that had happened this last month, any one of which could have been the highlight of a man's life.

Hearing her strange voice he looked up from his own quiet place to see his long absent friend. She seemed so different, but yet still very much Wynnsaren. She hadn't spoken much since they left Silverhall and he hadn't pushed. A lot had happened in her life recently too. The least of which was sacrificing an immense amount of power to change him and the others. Changes of such a nature, Thaddeus was still coming to terms with himself.

A crazy month indeed.

He rose to his feet and blinked as she seemed much smaller then he was used to. A fallacy of course, With this new power, Thaddeus knew that he was larger and stronger then he had ever been. An idealized warrior against evil. He now stood a good foot taller then he had with the muscle to match. It was a mild inconvenience to be sure, but between Zaistrun and Paido, they had at least magic'ed up some clothing for him to wear while in the Mwangi. Fortunately his magical armor grew to match, but with no combat this entire trip the armor was less than comfortable. The black breeches and white shirt were more ideal for the warmer locale.

"Certainly Wynn..." He said in surprise. He reached for Briar and considered his strengths and weaknesses. "One moment." He moved toward Sir Paido and when he returned Paido did not look happy, but he had finally agreed to watch Briar. Since gaining the power, Thaddeus found himself worried less and less about potential attacks. He somehow sensed that if it came to it, he could deal with most average threats using a chunk of driftwood. He was more concerned about someone stealing the weapon when his head was turned. The power hadn't improved his observational skills any and the bigger threat was still coming.

Also, he hadn't been further then a few feet from the sword since he'd taken it from Irovetti's basement. Even when it wasn't speaking to him, he was acutely aware of it's presence. Between that and the claustrophobic, incense filled hut... he was more then ready to leave for a while.

"Do you have a way there, or should we try sneaking out of the village?"
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Post  Wynnsaren on Sun Nov 15, 2015 8:19 pm

"Sneaking has never exactly been our forte," Wynnsaren teased half-heartedly, floating a few inches higher to avoid the painful craning of her neck as she addressed him. "A bit of magic perhaps. . ."

She reached out and upon touching the back of the king's elbow, uttered a word which immediately transported the pair to the tranquil stretch of beach where they'd first arrived, just a short distance from the village of Ngozu.

A clean, salt-scented breeze blew toward them across the surface of the rolling waves. The silvery light of the waning moon shone overhead but her presence, and the stars that sang beyond her, brought the aasimar no comfort this night. Wynn was far beyond comforting now. She was looking for distraction.

Whether from the sudden displacement or the worry that gnawed at her mind, a ripple of nausea drove her a few steps back from the regent where she bent over, bracing her hands on her thighs until the moment passed.

"Thank you," she murmured, loosing a breath she didn't realize she'd been holding. Wynn offered the king a smile and gingerly righted herself, wiping her palms on her leather breeches.

"I think if I had been in there much longer, I may have made a scene."

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Post  Thaddeus Medvyed on Sun Nov 15, 2015 8:35 pm

"You've more then earned the right." Thaddeus looked on her with concern in his eyes. Words were failing him as he imagined what she was going through. When she had arrived just a few short days ago, she had seemed almost god-like, but now she was mortal again... at least as much as any of them were. Then to hear of Rasven's plight mere moments after. The sacrifice of that kind of power when she may have needed it the most was perhaps the cruelest joke her gods have played yet in a long line of cruel jokes.

"I know this frustrating. This... sitting around, watching time pass by. I feel it myself. You know I hate waiting for a fight when I could be DOing something. I can't imagine what it must be like for you." He gave as confident a smile as he could muster through the frustration. " I am confident we'll get him back though. In just a few more days... It feels like this ritual is coming together. " He'd hoped for comforting, but it felt like empty words.

"Just a few more days..."
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Post  Wynnsaren on Sun Nov 15, 2015 10:16 pm

"You would think that eight thousand years of lives would affect the way I view mere days, but at this moment, my dear friend, every hour seems an eternity."

Something more had to be going on here than she'd previously thought. Zaistrun and Paido had ascertained that the ritual to trap Rasven's soul should have lasted hours at the most, but it had been well over a week now since he fell into his current state! If agents of the Dreamer wanted him dead, than they could simply have released the soul after his "body" had been buried and been done with it. They could not have seen through Lord Garess' ruse. However, last evening, when she returned to Silverhall to check in, her betrothed still lay soulless upon his bed. Why? To what end?

Perhaps they knew that if his soul were released, that she would find it and reunite soul with body, guaranteeing his aid against the Dreamer. So was that it then? Might they intend to hold him until Cthulhu rose and the world fell beneath the chaotic tide? Wynnsaren didn't feel that answer satisfied her nagging doubts. . .

And there were things much worse than death.

Another wave of nausea rolled over her and the aasimar turned her face toward the sea to hide her fears from the king's all-too-knowing gaze.

"I had desired," she spoke out over the water in soft reverberation, "that the first meeting between you and Master Winter might be under fortuitous circumstances, yet here we are.

"Even though Rasven's recovery is essential to the defeat of the Dreamer and his forces, you understand that his necessity to me goes far beyond this purpose, and I know without doubt that Fate or not, you would be standing by here by my side." Wynnsaren looked up to regard the king. "I will not forget this kindness shown toward him -- toward me, in this moment.

"But perhaps there is another mercy you might be gracious enough to bestow. . . A change of subject?"

The visage of pain on Wynn's features was masked with friendly curiosity as she turned and floated back to her regal companion.

"It was good to hear of your success against Nyrissa, but we have had opportunity to share little more. How have you fared over the last months? I hope that avenging the queen's murder has brought you some measure of peace."

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Post  Thaddeus Medvyed on Sun Nov 15, 2015 10:51 pm

Though she tried to hide it, he saw the pain. He was after all trained at trying to rout out Sarala's deceptions with mixed results, and while he may not know her as well as his sister, Wynnsaren was no Sarala. He knew her well enough to recognize the dodge for what it was, and was happy to oblige.

"If you wish m'lady," he said with a wry grin and a sparkle shining through his now gleaming eyes. "Though if you think you can tease me with phrases like 'eight THOUSAND years' of new memories and adventures... and think I'll be the ONLY one telling stories, you may be in for a surprise. All of time... different planets... Ohhh yes... You have my curiosity piqued." He couldn't contain a chuckle. It felt good to be happy again even if it would be fleeting.

"As for Nyrissa? How much have you heard? It was quite a story in itself." He proceeded to relate their success in deciphering Zuddigger's history and riddles and how Nyrissa's realm tried bleeding over into their own. He was never happy losing territory and he had some things to do before they could repair his kingdom, but it was definitely on his mind. He spent a lot of time describing the First World. The gigantic trees and the land that went on for hours. "It was... difficult to explain really. It was part of the First World, but a separate realm... It was exciting and different, but near enough to be familiar... Part of me regretted dislodging it and bringing it to the material plane. At that point it became much more.... ordinary. But it had to be done to defeat her. Still, it was a fascinating place to see. Poets couldn't do it justice." As they walked along the beach, he told of the many, many battles they fought... How Sarala had died and he had restored her to life... Even how Briar had gained more and more sentience as their foes fell.

"Avenged her...." Thaddeus chuckled as he shook his head. "Nothing in my life is as simple as that! At this time I'm still not sure if I set out to avenge the queen or save the kingdom... my emotional state wasn't the greatest. Probably a combination of the two. If she had to die for us to succeed then by everything I held dear, I was gonna succeed! The reality was harder to believe, much less explain." He shook his head as he tried once again to wrap his head around everything.

"Let's see if you can follow this. Briar was Nyrissa's love... Feluanil was grown from a thorn off Nyrissa. That I had pretty much understood, outside of the fact that Nyrissa was Nymph and Feluanil was... not. When I used Briar on Feluanil... she empowered the sword and awakened it. As the death's piled up, and once we passed the gates to the First World, the sword started to gain sentience. At first it was just a feeling. A sense that it wanted to fight... but as it continued, it seemed to wake up more." He scrunched his face a little. "No, that's not quite right... maybe it was already awake, but it was just weak? Regardless with the strength of the sword, came the strength of the voice. To the point where it could actually speak aloud to everyone around me, with Felunail's voice!

"That was strange to be sure... but it also wasn't entirely the Feluanil I knew. This one... was Feluanil with the Briar Love combined... She was more.... just more. More emotional, less harsh, less cold... Just more 'right'." He sighed as he listened to himself ramble.

"I warned you it got strange..." He said with a smile at his friend. "It gets weirder.

"Zaistrun had been convinced... in that way that only Zaistrun can be, that he'd be able to resurrect her or return her in some way. I think he planned on changing the sword into the woman? Myself, I didn't see the likelihood of that. That whole copied from a part and then we destroy the original with the sword of love... It felt very permanent. I doubt an artifact of this nature can be easily altered. I don't think fate like that could be so easily undone. I refused to dwell on the idea." He was quiet for a moment as he remembered the focus he had then. "Everything was about Nyrissa and the Dreamer. She needed to die to power the sword... the sword needs to kill the beast. Any thoughts of wives old and new, heirs, or resurrection were pushed to the side. That could wait till after we saved the world.

"Truth was, Briar and I actually made a better team then Feluanil and I ever had. That sword felt like I was born to wield it, and we waded through combat in a way I hadn't thought possible. Part of me would have been reluctant to give it up, and I don't think I could have relinquished such a powerful weapon before the Dreamer. Again however, the truth was stranger...

"Someone broached the subject with Briar and it revealed a surprise. In time... The sword would sprout a bloom, if I were to pluck the bloom and place it in water for a year, Feluanil would return. Honestly, I don't understand... Killing a fey on the material plane should have ended her, but apparently the rules changed somehow. Or perhaps the sword means she wasn't 'truly' dead yet?? Fey rules are difficult to understand to begin with. It.... She...?? I still think of them as separate. Feluanil was the woman I married, Briar is the sword that helped me save the kingdom.... The fact that it holds her thoughts and such?? Connecting it too much with Feluanil?? I just find it easier to separate them, even if it's not entirely accurate. Well, it told us that it was awakened and it was empowered, and regardless of what happened with the bloom and Feluanil's mortal form, it would still be the same as it was then.

"It was really more then I ever expected. I was just getting used to the idea of my actions and my status as a widower... I recognized the need for what I had done, and... now it could be undone?

"Well, the bloom appeared on the Equinox, and I placed it in the queens bath's safe from disturbance. Briar still speaks with her voice, but it's the voice I was more accustomed to. It seems the 'love' went with the bloom to regrow Feluanil. Which, if I understand things correctly (no guarantee there... ) in a year's time, I'll have two versions of Feluanil. The familiar one in the sword and a more compassionate one on a throne...

"I really don't know what that will be like... A Feluanil with love in her and her quest... her purpose fulfilled? Untied from the strings of fate? It will be like meeting an entirely new person, who I already happen to be married to. That will be an interesting day.."

Looking over at Wynn he grinned wide. "So... Are you sorry you asked?" He laughed aloud at the absurdity of it all.
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Post  Wynnsaren on Mon Nov 16, 2015 12:59 pm

"Not at all!" Wynnsaren finally replied after a long moment to at least partially digest all that he'd just revealed.

"You have a sword that will help in our battle against the Dreamer, you saved your kingdom, and the queen is returning to you with her love in tact?!" The aasimar joined him in a laugh that sounded akin to the pealing of distant bells. "I should say that you have had a most productive summer!

"I am truly delighted for you, Your Majesty. Though the path has been a winding one, the gods have shown you their favor in due time. Now it is only up to us to ensure that your 'happy ending' remains thus."

Her gaze drifted to the king's arms, which now bore glowing angelic script not unlike the sigils adorning her face.

"As your queen will have changed since last you knew her, you have likewise been altered. . . May I?" Wynnsaren motioned to his hand, seeking permission to inspect the script on his palm.

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Post  Thaddeus Medvyed on Mon Nov 16, 2015 1:47 pm

"Of course." He said as he pushed up his sleeves and held out his arms. The strange sigils seemed oddly comforting when he looked upon them, but he had no idea what they meant

"I had been hoping to talk with you about these... They don't appear to be the celestial language, though they do seem to bear some similiarties to what you have on your face." He fought back a bit of a blush as he remembered her kneeling over in her loose fitting shirt with laces up the back when they first teleported to the beach. "Well, your face and back..."
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Post  Wynnsaren on Mon Nov 16, 2015 2:33 pm

The oracle glanced up from his arms at the mention of her own sigils. "Oh? I was unsure if those on my back yet remained. So much has changed of late. . .

"And yes there is some resemblance here to my own," she muttered, tracing a particular line of the script that wrapped around from his forearm to his palm, "but this appears more fluid. Mine are impressions. . . perhaps signatures, footprints of powers that have been involved in my development," Wynnsaren attempted to express. "From what I have been able to see of them, each of these sigils I bear, I have born in another life. I remember them quite clearly now."

She tapped the center of the elegantly flowing symbols on his palm. "These however are not as. . . staccato as my own. Not individual symbols, but script. As you say, it does not seem to be a language as such, nor arcane or divine inscription, but I believe these tell a story, King Thaddeus. Perhaps one to which you have not yet seen the ending."

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Post  Thaddeus Medvyed on Mon Nov 16, 2015 2:40 pm

"Really?" The idea hadn't occurred to him but it made sense. His life had been so tied up with prophecy that having his fate written across his body didn't come as that much of a surprise. Though the idea that the end of his story was right there but indecipherable would be like an itch he couldn't scratch.

"That's something I've been curious about too. I've had a lot of influences in my life... where did this one come from? Do you think this power came from your gods? Mine? You? Somewhere else?? Did this come from an external source or did it come from inside of us? Perhaps some kind of combination of powers...

"My first thought was of course Saranrae, but Zaistrun's gems form that seven-pointed star of Thassalon. That seemed to spring up from his heritage." He grinned as he realized his mind was running wild and taking his mouth with it. "It feels quite... strange. I'm not sure what it all means.

"I imagine by the time I get used to it, the Dreamer will be finished and we'll be returned to normal."
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Post  Wynnsaren on Mon Nov 16, 2015 3:48 pm

Wynnsaren chuckled in appreciation of the king's curiosity. "Well. . . The power was meant to enhance what you already are, it would not mold you into something you are not. Matsuro Shi was chosen for a reason, after all."

Releasing his hand, she clasped her own behind her back and turned sightly to survey the gently rolling waves upon the shoreline.

"As to where your current power came from, Your Majesty, let me just say that five days ago I was immortal. Two and a half months ago I spiritually reached inside of Master Winter and disentangled an evil oathbinder entity from his soul -- which had been placed there two centuries ago by a power stronger than we are currently, and destroyed it. That was before I began hopping between solar systems hunting down information on a Elder god responsible for tearing apart worlds. Now, I stand before you, breathing again, seeing only with the sight these eyes afford me, and most definitely mortal. Please understand that I do not speak in complaint, for I was under the impression that the transfer of that power would cost me my life!" She paused momentarily in sober consideration. "I suppose it did, in a manner of speaking.

"But while the power that infuses your spirit came from me, the plan came from the gods. Mine, yours -- many had a hand in making preparations for what is to come. They were the ones that guided my lives and created a way of storing my memories until, in the fullness of time, I was ready to receive them, and you. . ." The aasimar smiled softly. "Well, until you were ready to receive me."

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Post  Thaddeus Medvyed on Mon Nov 16, 2015 4:01 pm

Thaddeus quietly digested this revelation. This sacrifice didn't come as much of a surprise, but it still shook him a little in his core. A lot of people wouldn't have given up so much so easily. In light of their current quest, he just hoped she wouldn't be asked to give up anything else...

"Tell me... Am I so different now?" he turned from his introspection and smirked at Wynn. "Your the second one to tell me I needed to be prepared or ready... but now that the time is upon us, I don't feel much different then we first met. Certainly not enough to warrant fulfilling prophecies..."
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Post  Wynnsaren on Mon Nov 16, 2015 4:43 pm

The aasimar turned to him, slightly baffled. "Do you not? I suppose it is more difficult to notice gradual change," she considered, "especially in one's self, but yes, Your Majesty, you are not the same man I met those years ago. You are now the king that I first saw in my vision.

"Since that time, you have become ruler of a growing and thriving nation, defended that nation in multiple bloody wars against fierce armies, you have beaten dragons and giants, Runelords and evil fey of the First World, and liberated people under oppressive regimes. You have died twice that I know of, been married and widowed and. . .unwidowed, all while thwarting the plans of a cult which seeks the return and triumph of their loathsome deity. And you have been to the moon!" Wynnsaren chuckled in light of all that had happened over such a few years.

"You have grown in ways more substantial than stature and well. . .bulk," she stifled a grin. "Your trials have hardened you for what is to come. Since the difficult circumstances surrounding the queen's death, you have become closer to your goddess than ever before, when such trouble might have destroyed a lesser man. With respect to your skill with your blade, I have never met your equal and then of course, you are able to heal your comrades and even bring them back from death using the power of Sarenrae.

"Pulling back the perspective a bit, can you now see what I see, my friend? Can you see that you are more than ready to and worthy of fulfilling prophecy?"

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Post  Thaddeus Medvyed on Mon Nov 16, 2015 4:58 pm

He laughed aloud. "I suppose you're right. Perspective is sometimes difficult for me. I certainly see a difference now... I'm not completely blind," he said with a wide smile. "The difference between Thad last week and Thad last month... Those changes slip past my notice sometimes."

He shook his head and whispered in amazement. "You are right though... a lot has happened since we first met hasn't it...."
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Post  Wynnsaren on Mon Nov 16, 2015 6:04 pm

"It has been the most eventful four years that I have spent in a good long time," she stated with certainty.

"Even since I have been away these past months, it feels as if I have missed so much, and I must admit that I harbor some guilt for being unable to attend Lord and Lady Garess' wedding, but unfortunately it could not be avoided."

Wynnsaren grimaced and shook her head. "I fear I may have hurt Zaistrun's feelings. He said he understood, but... Well, he is a hard read. Hopefully I can make it up to them when this is over.

"Tell me, was it nice?" She inquired wistfully. "No hard feelings between the three of you? No swarms of gnomes or angry bees or anything of the sort?"

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Post  Thaddeus Medvyed on Mon Nov 16, 2015 9:05 pm

"He IS a hard read..." Thad laughed good naturedly, "and he's only gotten worse the more time he spends with Sarala. My sister is definitely a bad influence when it comes to forthrightness.

"You were missed, but I can't imagine any hard feelings about it. There isn't much better of an excuse then 'off the planet!' I suspect if we didn't have the impending timeline, they would have postponed it for a while. As it is, the time between proposal and ceremony was one of the quickest I'd ever seen.

"It was a pleasant enough ceremony. Smaller then I had expected but no angry swarms of any kind. It was kind of nice for something in our family to not be a huge political affair. My other sister was there, I haven't seen her in person since I first came to Novastasia. During my own wedding the war was still in full affect. It felt good to catch up again.

"Zaistrun's brother showed up... that was less pleasant." The king scowled a little at the mention of the Magister's younger brother. "I'm not fond of the man and I think Sarala may truly hate him. I suspect that he was invited as a formality with nobody really thinking he'd show up.

"I'll say this much, he didn't cause any trouble. There were some veiled barbs tossed about between bride and groomsman, but nothing that would disrupt anything. Either he was afraid to cross any line that would give us a reason to attack... or he was more amused at the ripples his mere presence seems to cause and just wanted to enjoy the sight.

"As for the three of us? There's no hard feelings at all. To be honest, I've seen very little of the two of them since the wedding. Sarala seems quite happy. Happier then I would have expected, and I wish them both luck."


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Post  Wynnsaren on Mon Nov 16, 2015 9:06 pm

A warm smile split through the anxious veneer clouding her face. "I am so glad to hear that," Wynn replied with enthusiastic sincerity. "They deserve some happiness. Someplace to start afresh after all of their individual family turmoil.

"I was not sure of Zaistrun's intent, but I am glad they chose not to wait. Life is such a fragile and fleeting thing...why wait if there is no need?"

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Post  Thaddeus Medvyed on Mon Nov 16, 2015 9:09 pm

"That's what I told them. I don't think Sarala was overly impressed with that response. She... seemed very invested in my blessing? My opinion?

"Fair enough I suppose... I was initially against Zaistrun's attentions toward her. Even more so when she first suggested a marriage of convenience.

Now? Now with everything else going on... if they both still wished it, I wasn't going to stand in their way, for exactly the reasons you mentioned." His brow furrowed as the remembered her desire to keep the conversation away from the reason they were in the Mwangi in the first place. The folly of waiting for a wedding may still be hitting a little close to home while searching for the stolen soul of her fiancé...

"I walked her down the aisle, and I truly do hope any of my reservations were unfounded. From what I've seen, they seem to temper the worst traits in each other and play each other's conscience... it really is amazing to watch. It does appear that I may have been wrong...

"Which, of course... on the subject of marriage, I am hardly the one to come to for advice. I only hope my second time around is a bit more... ideal."
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Post  Wynnsaren on Mon Nov 16, 2015 9:28 pm

As she listened, Wynnsaren descended to the sand and stepped forward just enough so that the surf would roll up over her bare toes. "Your queen will now have the capacity to love," she replied. "It cannot help but to be better and she cannot help but to love you now that she is able.

"Are you concerned that it may not be so?" The aasimar inquired over her shoulder as she wriggled her toes in the warm sea.

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Post  Thaddeus Medvyed on Mon Nov 16, 2015 10:56 pm

"I've worked hard to keep my mind focused on the battle to come. With the whole world at stake, my own romantic life seems rather petty." He smirked as he picked up a smooth stone and sent it sailing into the water. Two skips.... not bad. "However, my mind does drift there occasionally.

"Ours was a marriage of necessity. Practically the definition of it. She was created for the singular purpose of marrying me and giving her life to stop Nyrissa. A fate she performed admirably." He was quiet for a moment as he tried to find the right words. His emotions concerning Feluanil were always such a jumble that what he thought in his head rarely came out right.

"I'm not sure if I told you this before, but before the wedding, I pointedly asked her if she wished this. If she wanted out of our engagement. I didn't want to be involved with taking a bride against her wishes... and she never seemed enthusiastic about me. I wish I had known then what I know now. She was bound by fate and what would be, would be... something I'm sure your more familiar with than any of us.

"Now? Her mission is over. She should be no longer bound by the whims of those greater then her. Her enemy is gone... She gave her life to defeat to the monster, and now she's being given a new life. I am curious what part I'll play in that life.

"I suspect that I'll give her the same options as before. I'm curious and excited to meet this new woman... but I'll not tie her down to promises made while tangled in fate and with diminished emotions. She'll be free now. In whatever way she deems that mean...
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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Wed Nov 18, 2015 2:41 pm

"A most noble consideration, Your Majesty." The oracle smiled appreciatively. "But if I may humbly suggest...perhaps you should not lead with the presentation of those options.

"This is only my naive advice, so feel free to act on or disregard it as you choose, but when she returns," a crimson flush began to creep up into her cheeks, "welcome her back as a husband would a wife whom he has not seen in over a year. I suspect that her reception of your welcome could go a long way in answering the questions you have."

Wynnsaren glanced up at the king towering over her. "I cannot imagine that she would not appreciate such a reception. Especially now that she will be whole."

She picked up a smooth black stone and handed it to him for another go.

"Feluanil's courage has been inspirational in light of my own purpose...her example steadying me in the face of my own Fate. I do hope one day to come to know her."

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Thaddeus

Post  Thaddeus Medvyed on Wed Nov 18, 2015 2:52 pm

"Really?" Thaddeus seemed surprised by that. "I've never noticed any wavering in your purpose... perhaps that was another reason for the way the events played out as they did.." He shook his head and laughed. "It boggles my mind the way the threads of fate get all knotted up and tangled."

He pulled his arm back and sent the other stone sailing away. "Ripples hitting ripples, touching more ripples..." He looked over the water appreciatively. "Four skips that time... I've seen better.... Perhaps extra strength doesn't translate to better at skipping.

"Distance was pretty good though...."
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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Wed Nov 18, 2015 4:54 pm

"I should say so! Maybe if we found you some quality ammunition. . ." Enjoying the simple childlike fun of the moment, Wynnsaren knelt down and began looking for a more suitable candidate for skipping.

"Previously in this life I had always suffered from an anxiety around large bodies of water. Particularly being in them," she explained as she pawed through the briny, wet sand. "Swimming was always a most horrifying experience. It felt as if I was being crushed on all sides. Entrapped. Entombed. You know me well enough to realize that I do not find pleasure in being caged." Understatement of he century, she thought.

"Well, there was a point months ago when I received a 'knowing' regarding the personal cost of the transfer of power to the five of you. That cost would be my life. Now, straight-forward, gods-given insights are more rare than ladders to gates to the moon, but this was the first insight I have ever received about my own future. I did not know what to think, so I took it at face value. It rattled me," she admitted soberly. "Years ago I would not have batted an eye at the demand for my life. In fact, i would have jumped at the chance to do so, but I have so much to lose now... More than I ever imagined possible.

"Afterward, I began to have that feeling that I was drowning. Crushed beneath the weight of this burden. I wanted more for myself -- a life filled with something so much more compelling than duty, but mostly. . . I wanted more for him. He has suffered so much -- been alone so long. How could I give up my life knowing that doing so would only cause him more pain due to this inexplicable love that he bears for me? Surely the gods could find another way...."

Wynnsaren had stopped searching for rocks at this point, and simply stared unblinking at her hands buried in the soft, sodden grains.

She'd hopped into a tiny boat hoping to pole carefully along the shores of this sensitive topic. Just to explain. Just to make conversation. Now the pole had fallen overboard and a swift current was drawing her inexorably toward a steep and agonizing plummet.

"How selfish do I seem to you now, my king, when I tell you that for an infinitesimal moment I considered letting the world burn for the sake of one man?"

Shame mingled with pain welled in her eyes as silvered tears, which fell silently to the sand below her bowed head.

"Feluanil was born to fulfill her purpose. Prepare you. Die to help end the life of a great enemy. It was not necessary to dig deeply to see the parallels between us. The grace with which she completed her duty emboldened me toward my own and so I girded my loins and soldiered on, laying aside personal desires for what I know to be the greater good.

"Imagine the joy I felt in that moment after the transfer, when I woke to find myself alive!" She choked out a bitter, ironic laugh. "Then the silver raven came. . .and he was. . ."

A heartbeat later, all of the agony and fear she felt on Rasven's behalf rolled over her like a great tide. A sound deep and primal issued from the hollows of her soul, and kneeling, Wynnsaren leaned forward on her arms and fell with her forehead to the sand, grabbing fistfuls of her tapestry-black hair in her grit covered hands. The mournful, keening quality of her cry was as difficult to hear as it was for her to bear.

"Someone..." She moaned in an otherworldly voice. "Something is keeping him.... In a realm named for torture and I can do nothing to aid him! Why him? Why could it not have been me?

"While I sleep, he suffers. While I learn this infernal ritual, he suffers! Oh, dear gods please let him know that he is not alone!"

Racked with sobs and drowning in pain, the aasimar lost all ability to formulate words.

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Thaddeus

Post  Thaddeus Medvyed on Wed Nov 18, 2015 6:32 pm

Thaddeus was no stranger to pain. He had spent years fighting and had dished out much of it. More so, he himself had been hurt, battered, bruised, eaten and even killed, But the sound issuing from his dear friend was a pain he couldn't magic away. Her cries cut through him like troll claws and he felt helpless in it's wake. He knelt  down on the sand and rested a comforting hand on her weeping shoulder.  

"He knows Wynn... of course he knows." Uncertain if she was even listening at this point, he forged ahead anyway. "How could he not? From all I've heard of the man he's no fool. He's one of the most resourceful, clever people I've heard of. He knows you." He stopped for a moment hoping to drive the point home. After all, it was unusual that the Paladin-King would praise the virtues of Rasven Winter.

"He knows you!" The king's voice was gentle, but his eyes shone with intensity.

"Remember who you are. You've lived thousands of years facing one adversity after another. You have stood before princes and kings and shaken their world with just your words. You've devoted all your lives to a great cause and nothing has or will ever stop you. You'll move heaven and earth for what you believe in.

"And you have very powerful friends who would go to the hells and back for you. Friends who have developed a reputation for accomplishing the impossible. Rasven knows all of this." Thaddeus winked at the broken Aasimar.

"He hasn't gotten where he is in life by giving up. None of us have. We know that he is not dead.  He is a planner and knows well the virtue of patience. He knows you, and knows he's not alone... knows that you are doing everything you can to rescue him.

"And rescue him we shall Wynn. We WILL learn this ritual, and we will go to this nightmare realm, and we will save Master Winter, restoring his soul to its proper place. We've been preparing for years... and now we're ready for the Destroyer of Worlds. Do you really think we'll be stopped by anything less? I almost pity those performing this ritual. Almost."  He wasn't sure if his words were sounding confident or arrogant. He hoped confident.

"Don't expect judgement from me for an 'infinitesimal moment' of doubt. I don't judge based on thoughts, only on actions. When the time came to do what you must, you did what you needed to. There's no shame in acknowledging what the price would be... It wouldn't have been a sacrifice if it didn't mean so much to you. I'd have been worried if you hadn't reconsidered for just a moment on this epic journey carrying the fate of the world on your shoulders.

"Heaven knows I have, but that was then. This is now. We can buckle a little under the pressure, but we won't break."
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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Wed Nov 18, 2015 9:34 pm

Though her friend's affirming and encouraging words did indeed cut through the haze of heartache, once the dam cracked, five days worth of fear and frustration and anguish poured out from her in great stuttering sobs. An inevitable release. After a few agonizing minutes of this emotional purge, Wynnsaren was able to use the physical connection he offered, as a lifeline to pull herself up from the overwhelming tide.

Exhausted and a little embarrassed at the display, she righted herself and sat quietly in the sand, hugging her knees to her chest while she took the opportunity to recover.

"It. . . seems I have made a scene after all," the aasimar admitted meekly. She wiped the moisture from face, leaving a trail of dirty sand in its place.

"Thank you for your confidence and courage, Your Majesty. We will find him, as you say. I know we will. It is the waiting that is proving so difficult for me to bear -- the feeling of complete impotence while his soul is at the mercy of gods-know-what." Wynn looked over to the king with her swollen red eyes. "But if anyone is able to endure suffering, it is Rasven Winter. He is the most. . . remarkable man," she whispered reverently. "Beyond even that, he has pledged to me his life, and that is not something he will allow to be stolen without a monumental struggle. Likewise, there is no chance of my forfeiture. Not while I have every intention to make to him the very same pledge."

Wynnsaren's countenance hardened. The tears were spent. Now in their place rose a fierce and simmering determination.

"Whomever is responsible for this evil has made a fatal lapse in judgement. . ."

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