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The Sundering of the Guard [Closed]


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The moon was high and clear that night. Llymlaenâs Light, it was almost clear as day, but for the sheets of rain that slanted onto the deck like tiny blades trying to slice right through the vessel to reach the sea.


âLock it down!â


They watched, the both of them, rope burning into their palms as a burst of light illuminated the walls of the ancient fortress on the cliffs. Thunder shook the soles of their boots, and one of the sailors gasped to realize it wasnât thunder at all.


From above them, the captainâs throat strained with the force of his command. âAre ya deaf? Lock the damn thing--â Suddenly, the rest of his demand fell away, lost on the wind as he too watched the distant explosions rock the fortress on Vylbrandâs cliffs.


âCaptân! Ainât one oâ ours!â


âLook aâ that? Never seen nothinâ like it!â


âWhat place isât?â


âThat,â the Captain arrived next to them, shoving the brim of his hat high. âThatâs Bastion.â His eye twitched as he watched fire start to burn within the inner keep. âSometime was, anyway.â


The quartermaster wrenched the rope free of the gawkerâs hands, finishing the job theyâd meant to complete. âOrder of the Stormguard,â he grunted, fixing a stare on the stronghold that was clearly witnessing intense battle.


âWhat? Themâs just tales. Ainât no such thing.â


âTale thatâs getting blown tâbits, thatâs what thing it is.â


The Captainâs eye twitched again and he thumbed his lower lip, then gave another bellowed command to the pilot. They were bound for Limsa Lominsa, and no mysterious happenings would keep them making port on time.




Time. It was time. The Companion nodded in the darkness, then folded back into it as they followed the hillside down into a concealed cave, sand muffling every step. Down, and down, and further into the darkness⦠and just before he thought that he couldnât see another step, a light appeared around the bend, and there, an ancient stone door, lit by torches on either side.


The Elezen guarding the door wasnât very tall, but he was strong. The garotte did most of the work for him, and as he lowered the body to the ground, he heard the sharp, tinny sound of his Companionâs blade being drawn from its sheath.


âNot yet,â he hissed softly, pushing back his moleskin hood with both hands.


âWhatâs the harm? Ainât none of âem gonna see it coming.â


âWe wait for the signal. We take them down all at once, or we donât take them down at all.â


âIâm kinda all for the take âem down before they can take me down.â


âWe wait for the signal,â he insisted, sliding the hawktail blade from his belt. âOtherwise, you might not get out of here at all.â


The threat seemed to quiet his friend and together they waited, the torches crackling softly in the silence that seemed to span hours. In fact, it was not long at all before the door shoved inward and stale air from the tunnels inside seemed to rush outward like a shuddering gasp.


Together they moved forward into one of the many tunnels that wound through the hillside, connecting the desert kasbahs into the fortress dubbed Keystone by the Guard. The tunnels could turn a man around for hours if he didnât know the way. Fortunately, all they had to do was follow the first scream.




It was the scream that jolted Aurelie to wakefulness. At first, she thought it had been a product of her dreams. Too long bent over an old, musty tome. Her neck and back were kinked and sore, and her mouth as dry as the dust that ever attempted to invade their precious Archives.


She pushed off of her stool and moved through the stacks to the door of the vault, but paused, just there, as she heard footsteps running down the hall toward the crypt. Ducking free of the vault, she followed them, sensing that something was wrong. No one entered the crypt without proper sanction, and certainly never at that time of night.


When she stepped into the sanctum, she stared, wide-eyed, at a figure kneeling over a long-bundled object. It was then that the clouds moved, the moon shining clearly down through the stained glass of the crypt, and she realized that the bundle was no object, but one of her sisters, swaddled in her night-clothes.


The figure that knelt over her was cloaked, features hidden, but of the height and bearing of a Hyur. Aurelie took a breath to scream, but it was never allowed to leave her lungs as the manâs blade plunged through her ribcage.


It was so sudden, and so quiet, the intrusion of this attacker into her small, peaceful realm. Sanctuary had never been anything but a place of research â never of war. As he pulled the blade from her, her brain fought, strangely, to catagorize the sword from those sheâd seen and read about in texts.


âNothing personal,â was his comment to her. Nothing personal.


She could feel the blood wetting her shirt, hot and lancing, thick with all of the details of her own death. She read them like the words from a healerâs manual. Her lungs were filling with blood. She would suffocate before she bled out.


She watched as the man turned away from her, as though she wasnât even worth the trouble to watch die. Her hand touched the anvil of Byregot as she held herself from slipping toward the floor. There, the solid brass hammer graced her fingertips. Without thinking at all, she grasped it in one hand and swung it hard against the back of his skull, listening to the crunch of bone when it connected.


Nothing personal.


Thatâs when she heard voices in the hall. The crypt was starting to swim, but sheâd left the door to the vault open. No outsider could find the Archives as long as it was closed, but if they discovered the open vault⦠she could not think of handing over the Guardâs repository of records to those who had murdered her.


The journey back to the vault door was not an easy one. She could feel the world begin to darken around her and it took every ounce of remaining strength in her body to return to where sheâd begun her evening; to where she had spent the last ten years in study.


As the vault door closed behind her, sealing her inside the massive hidden chamber, she slumped gratefully to the floor and let the Twelve take her home again.

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