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Starsfall, Once Again [Fate-14, IC Thread]

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~Previous IC thread can be found here~


Five months ago.



The sun was pale in the sky on the day of the meeting with the savages. Pale, and cold, like the land itself, like its people. Not quite true, that. Not completely. Tan skin under that icy, silver-white hair. Blue locks as highlights, somehow, it seemed, natural. As if they were all tainted with the ice. Easy enough to believe, for most of them.


Most, not all. It paid to remember that. The more lively ones were just as dangerous, if not more so. And today we're treating with some of them.


The Flame Captain stroked his mustache (a fierce yet majestic specimen in the handlebar style that was known to leave men in awe and women weak at the knees), contemplating the first time he had come in conflict with the savages. First conflict, though second encounter. The first time had been that child. Twelve summers, wounded unto death, treated in our infirmary. Killed two of my men to make her escape. Two good men, and she with a broken leg, the little bitch. His knuckles cracked at the recollection. Carelessness on their part, to be sure, the confusion of the attack on his camp... but also a reminder, an important one, of what these savages were capable of.


It made him wonder what their Nunh was like. The obvious reverence they paid to him had astonished the Captain from the start, speaking of him more like a King, an Emperor. Or a God. Primitive ignorance, but the meaning, the implication behind it was clear. The murderous cats would venerate the most murderous cat of them all. The man they were going to meet with today.


He would not be unprepared, and yet... these were their homelands. Not some mere expansionist colony, but the cold tundra that birthed them. Vast and near-trackless, framed by the mountains of the Ixal far to the north and east, the darkness of the Shroud to the south, Coerthas further west... a nowhere-place, a cold heart, isolated and empty, or so it had been thought. How many lived here? That they came to parley was small comfort... this camp, so-called Camp Glorious, was strong, but all here knew that a true effort on the part of the savages would be the end of them. It showed on the faces of these madmen, these devoted fools, mercenaries and armsmen alike here on a quest for the young Lady behind it all...




He turned, lowering his gimlet gaze to the Lady in question. A Lady... barely more than a girl. Or so he had thought back then. Frances Lorieux had grown hardened in the past moons, had grown, period, as though the weight of responsibility had brought upon her body the same maturity.


"My Lady."

"The scouts make their return."


He turned, the way she pointed... north, and west. Same number as went out. Good. And not far behind...


"They're coming."

"Yes, Captain."


He glanced back down to her. She hid it well, but he could see the trepidation there. The anxiousness... the eagerness. He put his hand on her shoulder, briefly, and she stilled. Nodding to him in thanks.


"Let's get ready. We'll get 'er back. This'll all be over soon."

"Yes, Captain." A deep breath, released. "Then, let us meet the Nunh of the Falling Stars Sept."

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  • 2 weeks later...

Starfall, Return


The lands of the Southern Thanalan have always been hostile; however, X’cinna Ares lived there for a few moons, as a member of the short-lived Bloody Prints sept. She remembered heading south, per the Nunh’s commands, under the incompetent head of X'yhulud, the sand dodo. Speaking of heads and sand dodos, X’cinna looked into her sack with a large grin on her face.




The trip from Ul’dah to the Sagolii was relatively uneventful, wagon trains are a common occurrence from Ul’dah, past Little Ala Mhigo and towards Forgotten Springs. Her ‘reunion’ with the Drake tribe was tense, but unimpeded; apparently one of their own had returned with a new mate from the Golden Prints Sept. The Drake tribe seemed to have largely moved on; as expected of a tribe that believed in and worshipped the hunt. In addition…


X’cinna spotted a Drake huntress lecturing another woman, while it appears typical, X’cinna’s ears briefly shot up in surprise and she approached the duo. “… U'khenova was five, ten times the huntress you are! To think we lost to you and that other bitch…, you should be glad our Nunh took mercy on your useless hide or I would have taken my time as well! You belong to US now! Your useless legs mayhap more use as fodder, you beast.”


The Drake huntress moved to continue on, but her ears perked as she detected X’cinna's wholly-casual approach and she turned her head, and frowned deeply, “One of your bitchy sisters came back. Last I recall, they tied all of you up and brought you to be sold off in Ul’dah.” X’cinna bowed per greeting, which seemed to slightly surprise the Drake huntress, “Mighty fine day to meet you, huntress of the Drake.”


The Drake huntress frowned and proudly sneered, “That’s U'lamana to you, beast.” The other woman just shrugged and looked at X’cinna, “Hello X’cinna.” Cinna looked at the women, with white hair and blue highlights, as well as the remnants of very deep scars across her body; it also appears half of her tail was missing; her previously folded back ears lift up slightly as she addresses Cinna. “I’ve seen you’ve been maintaining a ‘rocky’ relationship with the Drakes, sister,” Cinna states with a smug smirk.




The trip to Camp Nowhere was relatively uneventful, an occasional sand worm here and there, no match for the escorts and X’cinna, who came to rather enjoy sandworm meat from her previous visit here. Camp Nowhere remained operational due to the aetherlyte at its core, a cost-cutting method by the Syndicate. A few days away, Rock Falls was still relatively deserted, haunted by the shadows of the past. A congregation of the Order of Nald’thal had set up a small tent in the area, utilizing void-suppressing rituals. The caverns were still in the process of  being surveyed with rumors abound about possible mythril deposits. However, the former void-presence appears to be slowing the surveyors, whom proceed at a snail’s pace escorted by the mages of the Order; at least until the Syndicate moves less safety (and sanity) minded surveyors to the area.


While her presence lifted more than a few eyebrows, most of the original garrison had transferred out back north with the Flame Captain. It took more than a little flirting and social experience she obtained in the city to get the information she desired, but ultimately, she set off for a certain patch of dunes near Camp Nowhere. It was dusk by the time she started digging with the tools she brought from the Ravens dwelling. The freezing desert winds felt refreshing to a huntress born in the snow. After digging, and shifting, a few false leads and the remains of other half-brothers and half-sisters, she finally found her mummified prize. His face was still contorted into a look of surprise, X’cinna did a joyous pose as she looked upon the head of the sand dodo, X'yhulud. Spraying an alchemical chemical she borrowed from the Ravens, this may allow her to bring the head back north without further decay; it was important that the sand dodo kept his expression after all.




As X’cinna went north towards her old home, memories drifted past her mind. She had been this way a few times, towards the so-called Camp Glorious, where the Outsiders had made their footprint in the lands of the Nunh. She sat on a caravan, whom she gained permission to travel with by virtue of being one of the natives of the region, a technical truth. Sitting by her side was a lalafellin woman, which reminded her of that Dederu Deru, a rather fancy looking tiny Outsider… lalafell, whom she served as a adventurer.


The lalafell, Rarani Rani, ranted, “… you think they’ll accept our wares! I mean they say there’s dark steel deposits up here, stuff people down here wait to get. I’m sure your people would love to learn from our smiths and get your hands on good steel! You must be sick of bones and rocks, aren’t you?!” X’cinna nodded, not wholly paying attention to the lalafellin woman. Her tail swirled as she recalled her journey so far, all that she had done, and might continue to do…


She still worshipped the Nunh of the Falling Stars on some level. However, it wasn’t as strong as before. Rather, she had found more interesting things in the world of Outsiders than she expected: shiny things, tasty things, hot things, sweet things and sad things. She has been having ‘fun’, as the Outsiders define the topic, and learned the power of ‘cute’ through Anista, Nikha, Evangeline, and the others. But why does she still return?  She does not have an answer, not yet at least. The caravan finally arrived at sleepy Camp Glorious.




X’cinna entered a tent with her tail puffed high. Sitting there on the other end, with a rather feathery-hat given to him by a opportunistic Ul’dahian, was X’indro Tia. He was reading a book, and two of his shieldbearers were nearby, apparently gossiping over a picture book of last moons’ fashions. “Ah, Cinna my wayward sister! I thought I told you to wait for the Nunh? Or have you returned to oil my chest with your liquor?” He fired a shitty grin at her.


Cinna smirked back, “Nay, I’ve come for a temporary trade. I want to find someone, and in exchange, I have a gift!” She reached into her sack and brought out the sand dodo’s head.  X’indro laughed with a look of childish glee, “This must be what the Outsiders call Starlight!” He bounced up as X’cinna tossed the sand dodo’s head towards him. He catches it and dramatically poses with the head held high.


”What fortune! It’s been a long time my good X'yhulud! Mayhap the last time we needs part! I”m glad you look as surprised as I!”

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  • 2 weeks later...

Four months ago.




"...still can't believe he just let her go. After all this."

"Well yes, precisely. All this would be why he let her go."

"Come on Fan, have you seen the way those savages look at us? Like they're wondering how to stack our skulls, they are. Like that other camp."

"There's no comparison! That was perhaps, at most, twoscore men-at-arms, in a mining camp. We've got - what - thrice that? In a fortified camp, with a magitek shield generator. Squads of Adventurers coming through -"

"Who didn't fare so well against the cats last time!"

"-mages, walls, even professional soldiers in from Ishgard."

"A handful. And I'm still saying they'd just see it as a challenge."

"Well, their Nunh's smarter than that. He sees opportunity."

"He IS smarter, and that's what I'm worried about! This can't last."

"You worry about everything, Togg..."


The two guards' voices faded as they continued their rounds. Inside the hut, Rienne turned her attention back to the tunic she was mending. Her eyes' and hands' attention, anyroad, for her mind still walked the tracks of that discussion. An old worry, and she didn't know if it did her any good to hear it confirmed in another's voice.


For she agreed with the first man. She couldn't believe the Nunh just let Garri go.


It had the makings of a bard's tale; two precocious girls, not quite adults, one highborn and one low, forming a deep friendship. Some would say more than friendship, though Rienne was not one to countenance gossip; part of what set her apart from most of the soldiers here, kept her from forming bonds. That and her status as a Wood Wailer, something she held pride in and kept up the standards for, even this far north of the Shroud, of her true duties. Duty took many forms, however...


But yes, the friendship of Frances Lorieux, scion of the Lorieux family and heir to all its wealth and connections, and Garri, scruffy Ul'dahn miqo'te street rat, would be tale enough had the pair not taken their adventures to the high road, not gotten involved in the hunt - Rienne's hunt - for justice. Had not the keeper of the moon seen the killing, the murder of two of Rienne's fellow Wailers in the heart of Gridania itself. Seen it, with the blessing of the Echo.


Dreamed it... dreamed of a strong, athletic and remorseless killer, a miqo'te, white fur with blue frosting, bronzed skin, and lethal skill with a spear. A clear description, though the killer was masked and hooded... with such a trail, how hard could it be?


A description that covered every single member of the Falling Star Sept, as it turned out.


Hydaelyn had a sick sense of humor.


For a time, it seemed that the solution would present itself naturally; the more conflict with the tribals, the more likely the killer would be revealed. Not that most, if not all of them didn't deserve to be put down. But it was the principle, and more, it was her duty. And then... this inconvenient, fragile peace. The unexpected return of Garri, whom their Nunh, this X'zarann, had captured. All at once, the situation defused, so quickly it made everyone's head spin. Now, for almost two moons, no hostility at all.


The wildwood sighed, leaning back in her chair and looking at the ceiling. It was a difficult thing, to wish for strife. Constant, low-burning guilt. Yet she was stymied. Garri was stubborn and headstrong at the best of times, and disinclined to listen to reason. Also, her gift could not be coaxed. Rienne had long thought on how to incite her to resuming the hunt, to no avail; the girl seemed to have lost interest, instead acquiring a queer fascination for her onetime captors, an interest that she tried to share with miss Lorieux. Thankfully Frances thus far resisted the girl's suggestions that they go explore... SHE at least had matured. Yet the result was this impasse.


With another sigh, Rienne went back to her work. She comforted herself in the truth of that guardsman Togg's words. Peace couldn't last.

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((Credit for this post goes to LystAP/Aigiarn/X'cinna/Hihisa/Chakha/etc! With some minor edits, on my part))



[align=center]Gangland Ul'dah![/align]



The alleyways of Ul’dah have always been dark and grimy. The walled city cast shadows that spilled out into the camps surrounding the city, like mold surrounding a rotten piece of aldgoat meat floating in a festering puddle. The city has changed much since the beginning of the Astral Era, the camps of refugees have become semi-permanent, and many shoddy buildings have replaced the tents of the old refugee camps.


Within these suburbs of firth, lies a particularly horrid group of neighborhoods, the Dredges. Located near the warehouses of the former Telediji, and now, by the Sultanate, this patch of neighborhood has seen better days since the beginning of the Sultana’s mysterious illness and recovery.


Within the depths of this suburb, a gathering of blackguards, criminals and ill-doers agglomerated within a warehouse. Five groups are present: a group of ill-dressed Roes, the ‘Muscle Bound’; a shabby gang of Highlanders, the ‘Mhigan Flies’; a mixed race group of failed merchants, the ‘One-Gil Mob’; a bunch of Order of Nald’thal dropouts, the ‘’Short Staffs’; and finally, a mixed group of slightly twitching toughs, the ‘Alleyway Boars.’ The leader of the Alleyway Boars, Kordo was particularly shifty, his eyes darting back and forth.


“What ye called this meeting for Kordo? Ye finally gonna give in your turf?” the massive muscle-bound and well-oiled Roegen, Black Sun sneered at Kordo.


“His turf already belongs to another, gleaming Outsider.” A soft purr accompanied that voice, and everyone looked around warily. With a slam, a figure dropped down from the room, sending slightly shockwaves and a few drew their weapons in alarm. The figure stood up, wrapped in furs and a weird glimmering spear on their back. The dim light revealed a miqo’te woman with snow-white hair and blue highlights, with tanned skin. “It’s one of the Golden Prints bitches!” one of the Muscle Bound exclaimed.


“That’s X’cinna Ares to you. You glitter well in the dim light, Outsider,” the miqo’te stood up and smirked at Black Sun. The crowd glares, cowered and eyed her, “Who do you think you are, yes!,” the leader of the Short Staffs shouted. “Huh?” X’cinna’s eyes narrowed and glared at the lalafell, whom squeaked and curled up involuntarily. Her glare made the One-Gil Mob recoil and their leader flinch in fright. The Mhigan Flies appear uneasy at the sudden change in atmosphere, as they gathered around their leader.


Knuckles cracked as Black Sun eyed the newcomer with disdain, his fists glimmering with lubricant. “Ye decided to come into our little pisshole and tell me what for? I think ye got your britches over ye head, or mayhap you just frustrated without a real men,” he grinned lewdly. X’cinna twirled her spear and rest it over her shoulder, she bent down and gave him a smug look, “I got me a fella of interest, and he smells a lot better than ye. As for my sisters…”


There was a moment of silence, as the gang-members looked around, suddenly wary of an ambush… instead, from above, a rambling spiel of words.


“Behold! Yes Minna! Our time has come to scare, frighten, cowe these malicious ruffians into indentured servitude or subservient indifference. Oh how scary they all look, how I wish I was back on the roof and suffering under sweet Erin’s ministrations, alas she yearns for chocolate. Do you think these ill-accoutered oafs have any? They must. What use being a foul-smelling alley-dweller if you cannot acquire chocolate on demand. Is it time for our entrance? Is Cinna’s tail twitching the signal? Or is it only irritation? Or fleas? This place looks to have fleas. I weep for my tail. But ah, eye contact! Clear indication of attention most intent! Now for the dramatic descent of U’jakata, Thamaugage Most PuissaAAH CLAWS, MINNA!”


A windmilling figure dropped from the ceiling and crashed in front of Black Sun in a massive cloud of dust.


“Most disingenuous landing. Did they notice? Surely not. See those looks of incredulity, of awe. Yes, note their slack-jawed bewilderment, nay, despair, for I!” A grunt, as he lifted himself onto a knee, “I, U’jakata, Thamurmage Most Puissant am here in front of you oiled ruffians. Desp-ack!” The Muscle Bound leader grabbed him by the scuff and laughed, “Ye be the most pathetic…” Suddenly, a black shape fell from the ceiling, right onto the robed figure, who screeched. “MINNA! CLAWS!” A flash of flame and light engulfed the space, and the roegadyn was set ablaze. Black Sun screamed and flailed about as the enchanted fire engulfed his torso, his body oil feeding the flames of U’jakata’s magicks.


He turned and ran screaming into his fellow gang; their eyes widened as he impacted the first, setting his body oil on fire, and the next, lighting the room full of horrible burning light, as the flames fed off the cast-off ceruleum the Muscle-Bound used as cheap body oil. In a bright flare, their roasted bodies fell to the ground, like so many of U’jakata’s foes Cinna’s seen before. X’cinna felt a flicker of jealously arise for X’erin.


“Most uncomfortable, Minna. Have I not warned you? Do you not recall how the loss of my hand resulted in most unlikely realignment and most hairy of triggers? What is that look, it is a true expression. And now it boils, accursed aetherial surplus, look -” He shook his hand without looking, and another gout of flame passed within ilms of another thug, who had been advancing; the fellow screamed, and threw himself to the ground. “See what happens? Why must you always test me. Slight gesticulations are hazardous, and how much of these walls are wood and what remainder is stone? It occurs to me this is a hazardous place for a meeting. If we are not careful the whole place will burn, and everyone in it! The slightest gesture… ah, to what depths I have fallen, I, U’jakata, Thaumaturge Most Puissant, that I would be found not only interacting with such vile, wicked thugs. These are the lengths one must go to, for chocolate, in this age and day.” While U’jakata continued ranting to his cat, the room was quiet, as eyes watched him with alarum. Also most especially watching his hand, which continued to blaze with manic-seeming flame, motes of it falling off randomly as he gesticulated...


“The… the Short Staffs pledge their loyalty to the new boss, yes!” Anansi Ansi quickly tumbled out, “Please don’t hurt us! We’re nu’thing but helpless lalafells! Yes!” She continued to plead as her friends also groveled to the ground, “Pray teach us! Ser Most Puissant! We beg ye to take us as your students, yes!” “We seek no trouble with yeah, if you wanna rule the Dredges, we’ll look out for yeah! Just don’t kill us!” Lanidare of the Mhigan Flies blurted out. His comrades quickly nodded their heads and tried to wipe off their body oils.


“We’ll give you the best price on goods! Don’t fry us! We’ll never cheap you, swear!,’ explained C’thaya of the One-Gil Mob, her ears folded back and her tail between her legs. Her compatriots quickly nod their agreement with Thaya’s words. Kordo simply sat there, his face in a grimace, what a few suns this has been.


For the first time in summers, the Dredges have been unwittingly united under the iron-clad (?) will of U’jakata, Thaumaturge Most Puissant, in the name of the Golden Prints Sept...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Tail Cleaning, Nyah! [slightly NSFW]


Cinna stared at her tail. It has been glowing for sometime since the end of her journey into the catacombs of Ul’dah. She tried everything that she had learned in the world of Outsiders: cold baths, hot baths, soups and elixirs. However, her tail stayed glowy. The tip of the tail was slightly dull, but that was where her blue tip helped dampen the glow. However, the substance was holding fast, as stubborn as angry aldgoat.


She eyed her glowing tail and lashed it briefly, as if trying to flick off the troublesome substance. There appears to be one alternative, as she licked her lips. A skill passed down her tribe, the Falling Stars, and of which seemed applicable in this circumstances. While typically used to negate foreign scent, it appears this may be the ideal opportunity to utilize her traditional skills. A predator needs to negate its scent; this is instinctual, and her tribe are among those in Eorzea whom are closest to those kinds of instincts.


From a young age, Cinna and her half-siblings learn to lick themselves scentless; often smudging on dirt or snow or other things after, to further camouflage their bodies. Such tendencies might've been curtailed by civil living, such as baths, but so far those Outsider techniques have proven inefficient.


She was alone in her room, the others had left to do their own things and no visitors were expected. Cinna walked up to the counter and took out two stone bowls, a stick with cotton wrapped around it, and a bag of herbs. She filled one of the bowls with water., while leaving the other empty. Cinna moved through the selection of herbs within the pouch, before choosing a few herbs and chewing gum. She plopped the herbs into her mouth and began chewing to stir their adhesive properties, then she began work on her glowing tail.


The base of the tail was beyond her flexibility; however, the rest of it was within reach. She worked her way down from her pride, the blue tip at the end of her tail. At first, it seemed like it wouldn’t work, but slowly the material was removed as her ‘tongue’ implement worked. Her ears flickered playfully as she worked down the base of the tail, towards the very end of her reach. Every so often, she would stop and try to spit out what she accumulated into a nearby bowl.


As she worked down, Cinna occasionally found herself hitting sensitive areas of her tail, and she grunted involuntarily as she cleaned those sensitive areas. Up and down, left and right, she thoroughly cleaned her tail of the foreign substance. It tasted weird, and her survival skills told her it was probably poisonous in large quantities. However, she judged that it wouldn’t be enough to harm her in any permanent or long-term way, and continued removing the substance with tongual thoroughness; like Angry Orrin at a night in the Quicksand place, scraping up random Outsider women.


Soon, she had cleaned as much of the tail as she could, although the base of her tail eluded her flexibility, which was already considerable. She got up and spat as much as she could into empty bowl, before plopping the gum into her mouth. She chewed and moved the gum around as a means of removing any foreign material in her mouth; it was slightly different from the plant material she used back north in the sept, but Cinna determined that it was compatible. One needs to take risks, like S’imba always does.


Her hands took the stick with cotton and she began wiping off her tail with the cloth; at times, she would unconsciously purr as she moved over the cleaned sensitive areas, it doesn’t appear that glowy at present. Occasionally, she would dip the stick into the water-filled bowl and let the residue clean off, before continuing. Finally, she looked at her now-groomed tail, and gave it a playful lash. Aside from small glowing at her tail’s base, it was largely cleaned off; the former could be hidden just by wearing a covering over it until she finally sheds the fur off naturally.


She spat the gum, which was glowing… now. And plopped another wad of gum into her mouth, ears flickering, while emitting what vaguely sounded like purring. This mayhap take a while, but for now, she was clean.

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Three months ago. Heavensturn.



The chamber was dimly lit. Softly glowing formations of natural aetheryte crystal cast scanty illumination, producing more shadow than true light, barely enough to make out the rocky walls and floor. Far too little to reveal the ceiling, lost in the gloom above. Sufficient, however, to show that the ground did not reach the walls, save for tunnels at the opposing ends; ten fulms of open air yawned dark all around the large, central platform that made up the chamber's floor. Vertiginous, if one strayed too close, which the guards did not. Rather, they stood at parade rest, three steps behind and flanking the divan which sat near the center of the room. Upon which reclined a woman.


A lamp had been set up, a fancy model of the standing variety, and the light it cast was deep red. A sultry color, suggestive, basking alike the woman, the paired facing divans, and the pillows that liberally adorned the ground. Illuminating as well the small wooden table between the seats, where sat a neatly-wrapped box, one fulm in every dimension, gold-papered with silver ribbons.


The woman herself had fair skin, and hair of a gold to match the box, tied back in a simple ponytail. Her garb was less simple, a bliaud of some dark colour, possibly maroon, chased in gold and silver, silk, with an absurdly high thread count. Minute swirls of light in the cloth, sparkling when she breathed, would upon closer inspection prove to be an embedded sprinkling of diamonds arranged to emphasize her breasts. Nestled in her exposed cleavage, an elongated heart-shaped pendant, glowing with internal light.


The overall look was extravagantly rich, and somewhat slutty, an effect not in the least contradicted by the short black tube skirt - not quite reaching her knees - and the black-and-gold wyrmskin calf-boots which completed the ensemble. Jewelry sparkled on fingers, and ears, just enough to make the point, to emphasize the raw wealth at her disposal.


She sat on the divan, calm and collected, eyes hidden behind pair of gilded, tinted pince-nez, and waited.


The sound of inbound aetheryte travel in the far room. Once, twice. One of the guards shifted ever so slightly, but the woman herself made no motion, not even when the huntress appeared - one of the Fallen, X'vurr - and stared around the room for long moments. Only when the second figure arrived, did the waiting woman slowly straighten in her seat.


"X'zarann Silverfall Nunh. Welcome."


His presence seemed bright in the room, as though the reds and blues of lamp and aetheryte were not what revealed him. As though he stood in his own light, or perhaps produced it. It was a subtle effect, yet distinct in this place. An open vest and leggings with a sash in the Thavnairian fashion, ornately brocaded gold on black, revealing enough of the musculature on his upper body to ripple as he made his way over. His manner unhurried. Casually dominant, as reflected in his tone.


"Moiraine Astervane."

His lips quirked, as he came to a stop just before her, having moved past the table. "I was amused, you know, discover that the enigmatic Goldentail was one of your kind. A hyur."


Casually, he reached out and caught her ponytail in his fingers. She shivered, slightly, yet visibly. His teeth gleamed in a grin, and he let the hair slide away from his touch. "Amused, and curious. Especially once you went to so much trouble."


"It was not so difficult to arrange this meeting," she replied, self-possessed once more. The Nunh gave a soft laugh, shaking his head.


"Please. This meeting was one thing, interesting though your messenger was. But arranging the peace summit... involving adventurers, only to summarily shunt them aside afterward... the Immortal Flames, that mining company. Your... Order of the Aster. Claiming stewardship of this place. These things, and more." He tilted his head, regarding her. "Everything leading up... to this moment."


"As I said." The woman removed her glasses, and set them down on the table, before looking up and meeting his eyes. "It was not so difficult."


He laughed then in truth. A deep, rolling sound, casting echoes through the chamber and up into the stone corridor beyond.


"Such arrogance, and yet such... ah, what's the word. Wherewithal." He grinned, looking down at her, thick white tail dancing in an amused swirl through the air behind him. "You've managed to impress me, miss Astervane. That is no small thing." He reached out, cupping her chin with his fingers. Felt her pulse quicken. "Why?"


Her eyes upon his, flush now evident in her cheeks, pupils beginning to dilate. Minute cracks, in her composure, her tongue wetting her lips... but when she spoke, her voice was admirably steady.



"Have I earned... your Blessing?"



A faint, predatory grin, as he looked upon her, holding her just like this... letting his eyes trail now, finally, over her body, admiring the sight of her. Delighting in it. One of the richest, most powerful women in the land... trembling, under his touch.


As it should be.


"Is that your desire..?"


She swallowed, and gestured, and her guards bowed, turned, and left. He smirked, giving a slight nod over his own shoulder, and his own escort withdrew quietly. Then he turned back to her. Casually shrugging off his vest, smirking at her stare... then, as he shifted toward her, she quickly lifted a hand.


"Ah.. w-wait."


He arched his brows. "I am not one to be teased. Female." His demeanor remained languid, but there was a dangerous edge to it now, the air seeming heavy with it. She nodded, perhaps somewhat more hastily than she intended.


"Of course. But first..." She gestured to the box, upon the table. "I wished to give you a gift. For Heavensturn." His gaze was.. skeptical. She flushed a little, but raised her chin. "Before I... become distracted."


"Distracted." His grin was sudden and sharp, and he chuckled, straightening. "Fair enough." Turning to inspect the wrapped box, taking his time, patient and predatory. "Heavensturn, yes. That is tonight." His fingers drummed lightly upon the surface, then paused. A warmth seemed to come from within the box, something... evocative. He glanced her way. Her returned gaze was steady.


"I have heard you enjoy... strange trinkets, and objects of power."


His ears flicked up, then, and for the first time a measure of his domineering alpha mien was replaced by another side.. a curiosity, questing and insatiable. His tail swished as he looked back to the box, and, with a measured tug, tore loose the wrapping. A wooden box inside, finely crafted. To which he opened the lid, and reached in. Pulling out...


"A lamp?"


A desk lamp, made of some dark metal. Finely-wrought, ornate... and inside the elaborate mesh cage, what looked like some sort of bracketed crystal. Markings gleamed upon it, dimly visible. Runes?


He turned it over, slowly, in his hands, inspecting it ilm by ilm. More runes, set on fingertip-sized panels, on the outside. Goldentail opened her mouth to speak, but he raised a hand in a silencing gesture. He set it down, played his fingertips over the outer runes some more... and then smiled in inspiration, touching three specific ones. Light blossomed from within the lamp, golden and steady, and the woman's brows rose in surprise. The Nunh looked smug.


"An interesting gift... suitably elaborate, to come from you. The power source..." He frowned “...familiar. Allagan? No…” He turned it some more in his hands, inspecting the facets, the swirl of golden energies. It seemed almost alive.


“Fascinating. What else does it do?”


“I will show you.”


Something in her voice, and he looked up, to see her touch the locket dangling, glowing between her breasts. Felt a sudden surge, as the golden light from the lamp turned a jagged, snarling violet. Filling the room, roaring, roaring

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  • 4 weeks later...

**3.56 Spoilers ahead!!!*




"The pen is mightier than the sword" It was an old adage championed by poets and politicians. Orrin was neither, and oft believed that the pen's reach and efficacy was oft outdone by a spear. Nevertheless, He sat in the office provided by the Immortal Flames with quill in hand. It was a rather spartan office, a sturdy, dark, wooden desk and a few sconces in the grey, roughly hewn stone. 


He, along with several Temple Knights were there for "Joint Operations" or so he claimed when he petitioned to head south to Ul'dah. "To further better understanding and cooperation among the Grand Companies of Eorzea for the sake of a stronger, more cohesive alliance." It was a good enough idea in its own right, and it was easiest to lie with the truth in hand. It was well timed, the developments in the shroud surrounding Baelsar's wall had worsened and so the Immortal Flames were eager to trade strategies and tricks in hopes of strengthening their own capabilities. It helped the Alliance, but it also allowed Orrin to be closer to Goldentail.


 Orrin, with quick, deft motions signed off on another paper and he swiped it aside onto the stack of similar forms on the table that began to tower an ilm over the desk.  He was here to finish a fight that started before the end of the Dragonsong war, the last battle he needed to see through, perhaps then, the wailing of his Inner Dragon would finally cease as it had for so many others.  


He sat back in his wooden chair and looks over to the neat mess of paperwork. What was there was his first move against Goldentail. It was a formal demand that took her order of the Aster away from her supposed surveying expedition which so happened to be on the Bright Ones' doorstep. Instead they would be running exercises with his Temple Knights and the Immortal Flames.  And while he ran those exercises, he would entrust the Bright Ones' safety to his allies. 


Commanding troops, running parallel operations, this was all rather familiar to Orrin, but he was used to walking alongside his men. Part of him yearned to be out there that day, to lend his weapon instead of his pen. But he was no longer a Dragoon of the Holy See, he no longer had the autonomy of that position. Instead, he had responsibilities and the image of the new republic to uphold. Attacking her would be like assaulting a high house member of Ishgard. If Goldentail could work in the shadows, so could he.


There is a knock on the door.


"Enter." Orrin says.


A Temple Knight pushes through, half-running up to the desk. He gives a salute "Ser! News from the Lord Commander!" 


Orrin sits up properly as if Aymeric himself was in the room. "Go on."


"We are to aid in the attack on Baelsar's Wall and secure it as a foothold into Gyr Abania alongside the Alliance. It will be headed by Pipin Tarupin of the Flames"


"Fortunate that we have been training with them for so long. I guess it is war, then. Dismissed."


The Temple Knight salutes and leaves. Orrin can feel a pounding in his chest, an excitement that he could not push down. Upon the realization her felt sick to the stomach.




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S'imba slipped through the alleyways of Ul'dah lit only with the moonlight. His tail thrashing as he moved like he was hunting something. 'They gotta be here somewhere.' He thought to himself. He perked his ears when he heard voices. Giving a grin he moved forward slowly like he was a panther moving to pounce on it's prey. He found them a couple Brass Blades making deals with some underworld thugs. Perfect, just the type of individuals he was looking for. He moved to a wall and hopped up onto a crate, jumping off of it to grab onto a window ledge and pull himself up. From their he jumped to a platform that was dangling in the middle of the alley loaded with crates. Though he nearly knocked one off he breathed a sigh of relief when it didn't fall. he jumped again and grabbed the ledge of the building and pulled himself up onto the roof. He moved over to look down onto the group. He waited for a moment watching, drawing a mythril dagger from his belt he jumped, falling rapidly he dropped onto the shoulders of one of the blades, burying his dagger deeply into his neck.


It took a long moment for the others in the group to realize what just happened, only able to stare with a stunned expression. S'imba drew his blood red sword lopping off the head of a highlander thug. The rest of the group drew their weapons charging the Hell Cat. S'imba smirked as he parried a swing of the sword from one of the blades and countered it by stabbing his greatsword through the man's chest twisting the blade and ripping it out violently splattering the walls with blood. He ducked the swing of another sword and jumped over the head of a knife wielding lalafell to place his hand onto the stomach of a Roe thug aether gathered in his hand that discharged outward violently in a black and purple burst. It bored a hole straight through the Roe splattering the final blade in blood and gore. The Lalafell charged at S'imba though he was met with a sword dropping down on him, prismatic blade splitting the Lalafell in half like a pig.


With his companions all dead the final blade stared in horror at S'imba and dropped his sword. S'imba walked towards him red aether flared up only caused the blade to literally soil himself. "Let captain Cortez know that the Golden Prints are protecting this city now." He said simply before bringing a roundhouse kick around to hit the Hyur in the head and knock him out cold. S'imba watched the man as he fell down into a pool of his comrades blood. S'imba smirked wiping the blood off his sword and placing it over his back, then walking over to the first man he pulled out the mythril blade and carefully wiped every speck of blood off it before finally sheathing it. He strode to walk out of the alley and onto the streets like nothing happened, other than the fact he was covered in blood shimmering under the light of menphina. This was war.

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"Mistress, the Captain has delivered a report."


"You interrupt us for this, pet."


"Yes Mistress. I submit to your punishment."


"Tell me."


"Yes Mistress. The Wall mission has concluded. The Aster and Torch forces were wiped out. Lieutenant Morgan Drage and one Private Torrad Bash survived. The Lieutenant surrendered, while the Private was bribed. Edda Eglantine was wounded, as was Chachanji Gegenji, neither seriously. Dederu Deru was slain. No Falling Stars Bright Ones were recovered."


"What an interesting reversal. Does this please you? That even your Clipped-Tails could prove so formidable?"




"I assume they were helped."


"Yes, mistress. The former knight Enju Abbagliato, and the foreign pugilist, Virara Wakuwa."


"Indeed. That clarifies matters."


"Yes, Mistress."


"The Captain proceeds as planned?"


"Yes, Mistress."


"Good. Inform him I am slightly displeased, but far less than I will be if I must come and tend to affairs myself. Then return to me, here. For your punishment."


"Yes, Mistress. In.. front of Him, Mistress?"


"Do you question me?"


"Never, Mistress. I am yours."


"Yes, you are. Go."


"Yes, Mistress."


"I am surprised."




"Even our slaves... are mightier than your soldiers. Laughable."


"And yet even your soldiers become my slaves. She has all of her tail, you know."




"I will show you. It was easier than you might think. You made them thus. All of them. One step from submission. And so."


"You think to rile me up? Bring me to rage? Pathetic. I know your game, now."


"Perhaps. But there are more stages to play. Perhaps I will remove one of their masks. Perhaps it will be one you care about. Perhaps.. what was her name?"



"Ah yes. Anista."




"There, then, is the rage."

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"Azeyma's claws.. I go mad, in the end."


"..in the beginning!.."


"Who is.. there. I know that taste. Foul thing."


"..am I?.. hee.."


"Why are.. you here."


"..because you are!.."






"Speak plainly, wretch."

"..light. Reflects.. all light!"


"...even from a falling star..."


"..light of a star.. your light.."




"..yes.. my God.."


"..hee hee..."



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  • 2 weeks later...

~The morning before the events of Knock, Knock~




Time to wake up.



She sat up in bed, slowly, motions sleep-riddled. Only... not really. An affectation, that, as with so many things. Even the stretch, languid and lazy, tail lifting and arching... her body presented to no one at all as she, too, arched just a little... a display. One that had stirred the ardour of lovers in the past, that had earned her no few bouts of impromptu morning activity. Which was, of course, part of why she did it.


The other part being... well, all that.


The stretch ended, and she turned to look at the spot in the bed next to her. Still cooling, from Shesha's presence. Half-remembered, how she had implored the other woman to go, to lend her aid. To Orrin, to Naoh'a, to Khira.. even to this Reis girl whom she had not even met, yet had somehow become ensnared in this. To go and provide... what? The strength of her arm, yes of course... but also some sort of proof of her presence, of her involvement.


And where would she, herself, be?


While they assailed the home of one of the most powerful and dangerous women in Ul'dah, perhaps in all of Eorzea? To stop her from accomplishing her goals, goals which would not even exist had she, herself, not left her tribe when she was so young?



Where would she be, while they risked their lives, in whole or part, in her name?



There were limits to guilt, she had come to believe. Had managed to convince herself of, through the reassurances of any number of friends and lovers who had beheld her tear-streaked, agonized demeanor on the few occasions that she had brought herself to speak of everything. Limits to how responsible she should feel, and such things made sense; after all, who was she to know what might have happened had she stayed? Such hubris to assume she made all the difference.


And yet... she should be there. Because there were limits, too, to cowardice. As it turned out.



Was it Shesha's acceptance, unquestioning, to risk herself in her name that had finally tipped the balance? Was it the weight of knowledge, of the fact that several people she loved were exposing themselves not only to some of her most dangerous kin, but also whatever defenses Goldentail would have in her deepest sanctum?


Was it simply... time?



She sat up once more, and looked upon her reflection in the mirror. Watched, as that lazy, dissolute demeanor melted away, leaving something hard and cold, someone else, something else. Her true self. Still, after all this time.



But... it did not have to be. And the first steps... no, not the first, far from the first, but the current steps toward truly becoming Anstarra, for good and all, she had to take right now. Now, to the manor of Moiraine Astervane, AKA Goldentail. Now, over the wall, past the guards... or through them, if necessary. Down the safe path Cinna had discovered, to break down the door, and wreak what havoc would be needed.


To distract the enemy, while her friends broke through far beneath. To give them time. Because they WERE here friends... and now it was time for her to be a friend to them, as well. Finally.



Time to wake up. For X'anista Ares... and for Skybreaker. The murderous scion of the Falling Stars she had been, and the murderous 'hero' she had become.


Time to wake up, so that next time, at last, they might be the dream. The dream of her past, of another life.


The dream of a Star's fall... to earth.

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  • 1 month later...



In a place away from prying eyes and ears, pearls the color of midnight turns words into whispers, and far away, in a space where there’s no room, they turn whispers back into words.
















“<…we…encountered a creature in the aqueducts composed of several dozen people – people’s bodies – and upon neutralizing it we found that it had assimilated the survey team.>”


“…un cadavre roi?






























“<…she introduced herself as the Whiteseer to those who hadn’t met her, explained that the she was the mother of the tribe but not necessarily in a literal sense, explained that she was capable of remotely understanding the state of well-being of individuals in the tribe, stated that she was happy that some of the people there were concerned about some of her ‘children’, and told us that we have stop Superbia again because the…darkness inside them was never supposed to be made manifest, that’s semi-verbatim. So, she’s still consistent.>”












































“<…ugh…why would he make a probability table for that…>”

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For most, Aetherial Crystals were a rather simple affair. There were six types, and a crafter mixed them alongside other base ingredients to create items both fantastic and mundane. A pot of chili might have a dash of fire crystal to add heat, or a chain might contain crystals of earth, to give it strength. Most crafters did not care if their ice crystals came from the heart of a forgotten glacier, or a chilly cellar. Only that they were pure and of the proper size.


For Evangeline though, crystals were more art than science. It was not only the type of crystal, but its history. Where it was from, what its impurities were, its shape, color, texture, smell… and no two sources were alike. She could never prove that such things mattered. They mattered to her though.


An artist has to be picky about their supplies. The fact that she tended to paint chaos rather than canvas, didn’t matter.


In this particular case, her masterpiece was the large beaker before her, the liquid inside glowing a faint pulsating red. Scattered around her cramped lab were cartons and jars of crystals and ingredients, listing their name, date, and origin.

“Hmm… it seems correct…”


Evangeline paced back and forth, tapping her chin as she went over the process in her mind once more. The first steps had been simple, preserve An’s tainted blood until it could be studied, then slowly extract the aether from the biological components.


She had been excited to find the aether in An’s blood tainted with the void. It made her job in some ways more interesting. Any aether from the void was like hungry fungus or bacteria. It gobbled up any other aether it found, trying to make more of itself in the process. In some ways she didn’t have to replicate the Aether in An’s blood, she had to feed it.


So she did. But everything has a favorite meal.


Fire Crystals full of rage from the ashes of a burned Ala Mhigan settlement. Earth Crystals full of lust from an ancient fertility shrine. Wind and Water crystals bursting with restless energy, from pounding waterfalls and windswept canyons. Ice crystals from the frozen body of a dead drake, and a perfectly formed lightning crystal, formed when a massive bolt stuck an auroch dead.


All of these were mixed together, the dark Aether from An’s blood mixed among them. It had taken three days, but eventually all that remained was the red pulsating fluid before her. While she ached to try it, even she wasn’t foolish enough to consume raw void tainted aether. So she had taken a small amount, taking it to a conjurer who asked few questions. The raw hunger of the void was banished, and in its place Evangeline added new ingredients. A half dozen different stimulants of various strengths. A dash of mind clouding venom from a Morbol’s tentacle. A few slivers off a succubus’s horn. A clump of hair supposedly from the great beast Behemoth, and a drop of dragon’s blood. All these and more she added, giving the concoction the tiniest of sniffs as she works until she was satisfied.


Now, five vials sat in front of her, children of the glowing red vat. If she was correct, they would give the imbiber a sliver of the Falling Star’s power. The side effects could be… troublesome, even deadly, but one couldn’t match the power of a blood crazed near primal warlord and still play it safe.


Weighing her options one more time, Evangeline sighs, before grabbing one of the glowing red vials, and swallowing the contents whole.


Instantly, every muscle in her body seized up, a burst of raging heat spreading forth and filling her limbs with power. Muscle cords her slim limbs, her shirt suddenly seeming far too restrictive as she tears it off with a snarl. Her skin feels like it’s steaming with heat, and suddenly An’s habit of going shirtless makes sense.


The physical effects paled though, in comparison to the mental ones. Without thinking, her hands flex at her side, images of blood, conquest, feeding and breeding flashing through her eyes. In an instant, she rushes over to grab a second vial, then heads for the door, trying to keep control.


S’imba needed to try this.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Stupid mountains. Stupid X’ogun. Stupid electric puffballs - who ever heard of this! Magic THINGS just floating! The Outside world was crazy. And stupid. Stupid and crazy and also stupid but not as stupid as X’ogun and his stupid orders. Who put HIM in charge! Stupid Vurr and her being reasonable and patient all the time. Though she was usually right.


But she was tired of being reasonable and patient. She was a Warrior! More than that, she was a FALLEN, one of X’zarann’s chosen!


She stopped, with a sudden, despairing sound. Where WAS X’zarann! She missed him so. Was he neglecting her because she hadn’t… no, don’t think of that. Vurr said it wasn’t a factor, that was her word, not a factor, that he had a plan, and he was busy.


Why couldn’t he be busy with her! She’d love to be busy with him. She’d keep him so busy, he wouldn’t have time for weird toys or old tombs or confusing plots or other huntresses…


“Gah, focus!” she growled, before resuming her pace. This place was full of cracks and traps, those funny walking rock monsters that looked like X’zam (only not as ugly, hah) and coeurls and silly, silly birds and those STUPID electric puff jerks. It took her forever to fix her tail after she killed that last one (though she DID kill it, blew it right up, BOOM!). Stupid puff jerk.


It was also full of floating rocks! That was actually really interesting. This seemed like the kind of place X’zarann would like. Floating rocks, and buildings, Outsider houses, tall and narrow, up on some of them. Some of them were very far out, but some of them she could almost reach. Jumping off one of those walls. This whole place looked like someone got mad and destroyed it, but it must have been a long time ago, because the only bodies were the ones she was making.


She did find traces of other hunting, and there was that scouting patrol, all in the silly really visible red clothes. Outsiders were so stupid! She saw them from malms away! It made hiding their bodies harder though (even dead they were stupid!), so she dragged them to the edge of that really high cliff and threw them as hard as she could. She wasn’t supposed to be making it TOO easy for anyone to track her. The rogadodos were hard to throw, but she still managed. She was Fallen, after all.


Her attention returned to the floating houses. How to reach? Maybe she should have kept one of those red Outsiders alive. Magic was weird and creepy and she wanted nothing to do with it except when it was really useful, like for making things fly apparently! Flying would be really useful. Maybe-


A sudden flash of light cut through her reverie like a spear through the brain, and she froze, watching. There! Excitement, tail slowly stirring, not making a sound as she sees…



What? This was her quarry? This tiny green thing?



She watched in disbelief as it waddled out from the shade of the wall where there had been nothing before. Waddled! It was as clumsy as a newborn kitten! It moved so slowly.. Why had X’ogun sent her to kill THIS useless thing? Was he mocking her? Sudden anger… but then, she remembered Vurr’s advice, and calmed herself. Patience. Think now. This thing must be dangerous. X’ogun was smart, he wouldn’t waste her on something that wasn’t important (he wouldn't dare!). But it looked so small and helpless that it was hard to take it seriously. She would kill it quickly and be done. Like a ghost, she moved closer. It heard nothing. It was even talking to itself! Killing something so stupid would be a mercy. She readied her lunge.


“...admixture of appropriate humours in the Crucible resulting in...”


She froze, a chill running up her spine. What had it said? Had it said The Crucible?


“...aetherial investiture permitting heightened states of energy, albeit at the cost of… hmm?”


She realized it had seen her. Those large, yellow eyes were not as blind as they looked. She expected it to flee, or attack, and cursed her inattention…


“Ah, one of the breeding females. With ritual tattooing? Or simply paint? The pre-intellectual tendencies adopted by animalistic breeds remain fascinating on a visceral level. Do the markings denote some rank in social echelon invisible among the males? No, unless signifiers of hierarchy operate on multiple levels. Scents, perhaps, or adornments. Perhaps the female can be made to volunteer an explanation. Well?”


It stared at her. She stared back.



It threw its tiny arms up and she tensed, expecting magic, but then it flopped down onto the ground and flailed. She stared at it some more.


“Alas! Once more and in seemingly uninterruptible pattern my genius is constrained by the cranial limits of fractionally-witted thugs, far better suited to bearing litters of offspring with their exaggerated bosoms and improperly suggestive thigh gaps than to contributing even so little as an unlettered student's share of intellectual discourse - what was I thinking! Alas I was not, unfortunately, for clearly the onus rests solely upon me in this company, nay perhaps this entire age. Oh, what a- ouch!!”


She had initially begun to preen as her breeding qualities were praised, but had grown increasingly bored as the small green thing rambled on, and ON.. and so finally she got bored and knocked it in the big, round head with the butt of her spear. To make it stop, but also because it was funny. Then, for good measure, she kicked it onto its back (“oof!” Hee hee!) and poked its belly with the sharp tip of her weapon. It gasped. She grinned.


“Stupid green tiny Outsider! Tell me more about The Crucible!” She had had what others would call an epiphany, which was not a word she knew. X’ogun had sent her to kill this tiny, useless Outsider because it knew things. Things about The Crucible.


Things she wanted to know. She would know everything it knew, before she killed it.


How much could a stupid little Outsider know, anyway?

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  • 5 months later...

The sky burned.


Not a healthy fire, not pure, cleansing reds, oranges and yellows. This was a sickly blaze, obscured by smoke like poison and threaded with desperate veins of lightning.


It was a sky from a madman's nightmares of the end of the world.


"Wake up," muttered X'zenn, in case he was the madman. "Wake from this." Alas, he did not. It had been a vain hope. After all, he seemed cursed to remain sane, where so many others...


Incongruously, he found himself thinking of Nihka. A slight curve to his lips. That he should remember the name of an Outsider.. but then, she wasn't just any Outsider, was she? A goddess. A goddess of the night, of the moon, the midnight sun. Of passion, that. Of love.


If the Nunh was a god, it made sense for Outsiders to have gods too, right? Weaker gods, to be sure, but.. powerful in their own ways. That he, X'zenn, Warlord of the Glade, could have killed her, fighter to fighter, he had little doubt; that he had not wanted to, and more, was not sure he could have wanted to, was proof enough to him of that power.


She should be a goddess of the Falling Stars. Of the Blessed.. if they could take Outsiders' weapons, their ways, their books and inventions, they could well take their goddesses too, right?


A shock of realization; surely that was exactly what the Nunh had been doing, bringing her to them. Taking her to the Caves... and, without a doubt, taking her. Over and over, to win her over to him... Who had won that battle? For battle it surely was.. and that X'zenn himself did not automatically assume the Nunh's victory, as he should, was proof enough that the beautiful moon goddess had sunk her long, long fangs into his own soul...


"You have an interesting expression."


His expression turned flat, suppressing both the fondness of memory and the disturbingly sharp pang of jealousy as he imagined the black-skinned female in the Nunh's arms. Turning, he regarded the male beside him with what he hoped was studied indifference, tinged with irritation. Irritation which grew as the male in question's own smile widened fractionally in response. He clicked his tongue.


"Do you have nothing better to do, X'indro?"

"Right now? Not really. Like you - and X'ioun, and X'akkel, and Rrain - I wait on X'ogun's pleasure. Also like you, my mind wanders to fond memories... oh, don't look at me like that. I won't tell. So. Whose pretty face occupies your thoughts?"

"You see too much..." muttered the northern Warlord, irritated.. though not especially worried. He understood X'indro, too. And so, rather than evade.. "The dark-skinned Outsider. Nihka." A twitch of brows was his reward; he'd surprised the pink-eyed male. X'zenn smirked, though the expression faded quickly. "I wonder what she would think of this place. If she would see the beauty.. the love, in this.. nightmare."


No response came, and so after a moment the Warlord turned to regard his fellow, and found him pensive. That.. calculating thoughtfulness of the male that made him so dangerous. X'zenn's ears twitched back a fraction; had he made a mistake? But the other Warlord grinned suddenly.


"The world is changing quickly, isn't it? Ah, look.. he returns. Success, I think."


X'zenn followed his gaze. X'ogun was walking back from the floating metal board.. the console, he'd called it. His expression was closed, but there was that in his stance that agreed with X'indro's statement; the Fallen had figured out how it worked.


"I know not if there is love to be seen in this," the Southern Warlord murmured, still smiling, as X'ogun made his way over. "But there is certainly beauty... like I said, the world is changing, and not slowly. We shall see great things, I think, and soon. How many of us will die on the way, do you think?"


X'zenn shook his head... then looked at his fellow sharply, frowning. "That is no idle question. You have an idea."

A nod and grin in response. "That's why I like you, Zenn.. smarter than they give credit. The answer.." he nods to X'ogun, "is right there."

"...the Advisor, rather than the Nunh."

"Yes. You know where X'zarann is. And in this, we can see why."


X'zenn let out a breath, closing his eyes. Yes, of course.


"Preparing the next generation."

"Indeed. The price of war, yes?"

A nod.. and then a smile. X'indro noted it, tilting his head.


"Too many of us are still frozen in the old ways anyroad. It will be.. cleansing."

"Ah... again you surprise, my friend. Of course, I have no intention of dying."

"Neither do I. I have things yet to do."

"Such as seeing your moon goddess again..?"


It was X'zenn's turn to grin.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Orrin did not know exactly what to expect when he returned to the icy highlands of his home. He had a plan to find those that he led into the clutches of the Falling Stars tribe and, with the staff repaired by Vael’a, free them of their servitude. He knew their names, their faces and their patrols. It was because they were close to him, he trusted them and they trusted him, which made the memories of his betrayal even more painful.


His mind was under fetters for nearly more than a year so it had taken time for all those memories to come back, each instance where he offered up another brother in arms to the damned Nunh and his tribe seared into his brain like an inquisitor’s brand upon flesh. The action was so despicable and contrary to his being that even the slightest of recollection of that repressed past caused blood to boil and chest to rise in fury, the dragon within rattling against the chains, ready to fly loose.


However, he needed to remain calm, for the sake of the names of those he would not dare forget, for the sake of Donovan who defended him, for Carrault and Bainard who wrongfully died by V’aleera’s blade, and for Fontenac, Gauvierre, Carradine, Lemieux, Lucan and Harcourt who he could possibly still save. He had to, he needed to spare them of the pain and torment that would come from their unwilling service to that madman that thought himself to be god. Even if he needed to spend the rest of his life in chains, Orrin had to find them and make right. There was a plan, he merely needed to follow through.


Orrin did not know what to expect when he returned to the icy highlands of his home, but he knew he did not expect this: Within the bell of entering the republic’s borders, three knights approach Orrin without their blades drawn, quickly falling into formation around him as though they were his escort. He knew instantly that these three were men working for the inquisition. A strange sense of pride came over him. They found him out so quickly, the Inquisition actually worked. Orrin kept walking along the road he traveled on and the knights kept pace with him. Silence passes for several tense minutes before one of them wordlessly hands him a letter, stamped with the seal of the inquisition upon it.


That forced him to stop. With gauntleted hands peeking out of his long cloak, he tears open the seal and opens the letter:


Ser Orrin De Halgren,


You have me to thank for the fact that you are currently reading this instead of being brought before the Tribunal in chains. The matter of your “treason” has been suppressed by my hand, if only on the merit of Ser Donovan’s testimony and the greater threat to Ishgard’s security.


I suggest you come speak to me, Ser Halgren, sooner, rather than later. I await you in Camp Dragonhead.


—Inquisitor Brigie


Orrin looks up from the letter and to the knights who watched him through their visors with their stern, piercing eyes.


“Take me to her”

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  • 1 month later...

The Umbral Warlord

S’imba took in several deep breaths clutching a deep slash across his chest. Looking down on the white haired female he had just defeated in a sparring match of the falling stars. From what he understood normally the other warlords of the falling stars didn’t spar due to the possibility of being defeated. However S’imba felt that as an outsider he needed to continually prove himself. To remind them why X’zarann had chosen him to be the warlord of the golden prints. He also sought to stand out among them. Though it did tend to mean he ended up with quite a few extra injuries, and the battles were never easy. Suddenly there was a loud shout at the door to their warehouse. It sounded hostile. With a growl S’imba walked over to the entrance and pulled the door back.


Outside there was a little Lalafell Thaumaturge with a pencil thin mustache with a pair of Roe thugs that had their swords drawn.


“Ah greetings, Mongoloidian Tribal.” The Thaumaturge said in a surprisingly smooth voice that had an extremely matter of fact business like tone to it. “We represent a group of concerned citizens that have taken issue with your residence here. We ask that you surrender yourselves to the proper authorities concerning your various criminal activities.”


“You must be mistaken.” S’imba growled at the Lalafell, clutching the wound on his chest. “We’re just a band of strays that have sought refuge to raise our young.”


The lalafell gave a sneer. “Regardless you are all a blight on our fair city, and it falls to me to see it cleansed.”


S’imba narrowed his eyes, baring his fangs. Acting slightly more aggressive than normal to keep up his appearances as the rest of the golden prints watched the scene unfold. “I think you would be wise to turn and walk the other way, outsider.” He said with a growl. “Unless you wish to have your very soul torn from your body to burn for an eternity in the depths of the abyss.”


The Lalafell grinned. “Do not try to intimidate me with your tribal superstitions, cat. I am no stranger to dabbling in darkness.”


S’imba twisted his lips into a sneer, putting on the best show he could. Trying to appear as dark and over the top edgy as he could. “Cute, but you should know that -I- am darkness itself, I wield power that you could merely dream of.”


The lalafell sighed and gestured to the Roe on either side of him. “Kill him then seal the door so I can burn this eyesore and the vermin inside to the ground.”


The Roe nodded and took a step towards S’imba. They drew their swords and continued advancing.


“So you have elected destruction and damnation?” S’imba said with a shake of his head, flicks his wrists, and raised his palm towards them. Without another word he fired a red bolt at them that exploded in a burst of red aether, ripping the aether from their bodies and causing both to fall lifeless to the ground.


The Lalafell stared in horror as his men fell. Losing his composure he simply turned to flee as fast as he could. S’imba was tempted to finish him but decided against it. Turning to walk back inside he without a word to the others he made his way to a back office that he had fashioned into a sort of personal chamber for himself. He’d filled it with various trophies from his adventures to at least try and look the part of warlord. While it certainly wasn’t as extravagant as the Nunh’s personal chambers S’imba couldn’t help feel a bit proud of it. Even if most of it was just stupid junk and a bunch of fancy swords he had collected.


He shut the door behind himself and gave a sigh. This whole act tended to be exhausting, spending so much time trying to be this terrifying being. Thankfully all that time he had spent with Sven gave him plenty of intimidating dialogue to draw on. Mixed with trying to emulate X’zarann he felt he hoped he was at least having some success. He spent much of his time acting like he was some kind of deity like X’zarann, that this “abyss” he wielded was a power that was the opposite of the Nunh’s radiance. If he could get them to see him as some sort of dark god of destruction maybe they would stop worshipping X’zarann to offer their prayers to the new deity. Hopefully to weaken X’zarann from making his ascension. Since S’imba had no intention of using their prayers to gain power he felt he didn’t have to worry if the sept actually started worshiping him, they may as well pray to a statue of Halone. He walked over and grabbed some bandaging, starting to treat his wounds and gave a heavy sigh. “It’s really hard to try and be a god.” He muttered to himself.

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  • 8 months later...

Last Turn, Sixth Umbral Moon. 25th Sun.


X'odan watched.

She always watched. She watched the slow drip of water from the stone spar. She watched the way the fire slowly crawled over her arms, her legs, her tail. She watched the drifting of dust motes, through the one beam of sunlight she had found, her treasure.

She watched the tired, indifferent movements of the others below. She watched the pool itself, though it never moved, unless they drank from it.. and even then, not much. 

She watched when the priest spoke. She watched when he hid.

She watched the Nunh.

He was here, today, at the pool. He never bathed in it, though He must have done so, once. As she had, which was why the fire crawled now and then, and why the claws, and the wings, and the glory. His glory was hidden most of the time, but not now. There was another glory, too, a darker one, also hidden, though X'odan could see it. 

She watched as He spoke to it, the dark glory. Watched as He spoke to the pool, as He touched the glory hidden in it, drew it out.

She watched some of the glory pour out of Him, out of His head and His heart and His loins, and from the dark glory as well, into the pool. Making a shape.

Making a body.

She watched the body form completely. It was familiar. The Nunh spoke angrily, to the dark glory. It responded. 

She watched the Nunh stare at the body, His expression gradually returning to stone.

Then she watched Him leave. Abandoning the body.

Her wings carried her down, and the others drew back. They had drawn closer, but now she was descending. Her glory was strong, and dangerous, and they did not like pain. 

She watched this body, from up close, this beautiful thing. Dead. Abandoned. 

The priest had said that on Starlight, there were gifts. Treasures.

She took it, and her wings carried her back up. She had another treasure.

Dragons should have treasures.

Especially on Starlight.


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