Jump to content

Bring the Daughters Home


Recommended Posts

((Follows immediately after Experts on Voidsent and Comfort.))




Roughly an hour after leaving Illira alone in her room, D'hein now stood outside of it again, no better rested than when he left. Truthfully, though he'd managed to work his way into Antimony's bed, he hadn't had a second of sleep. Instead of being at his side and keeping him warm (which he had no business hoping she would do but had hoped anyway), Antimony had been awake and active and arguing with another woman right next to the bed the entire time. How could he sleep through that?


At least he had milk now. He took a drink from the bottle and smiled happily at the flavor, forgetting all of his complaints for a blissful trio of seconds. Then he lifted his hand to knock on the door.


Just then, someone walked by behind him so quickly that he barely sensed their passage, except for the rude brush that knocked him up against Illira's door with a heavy thud.


Illira hadn't done anything like lying in bed. Instead she'd spent the time stalking about her room, like a restless coeurl, indecisive about whether or not she should stay put for D'hein to come and hunt her back down or if she should run. She had done enough of the later though, even if under the guise of other actions. That knowledge was enough to keep her contained within her self-inflicted cage for the time being though. 


When her door knocked in on her thoughts, she could almost see the vibrations pulsing through it with the weighted impact that it felt. It stopped her in the tracks that she had very nearly tred into the floor. Staring at it for a time, she eventually dragged herself to it, staying as far from the entrance as she could while her hand gipped the knob and pulled it open.


D'hein glared at the passer that had knocked him aside. Was that the woman from Antimony's room? Just as well. The woman had been very rude. He put the bottle of milk to his lips and turned forward to find that the door had opened and he was now staring into Illira's face. He choked.


The elezen's thin lips pressed together as she stared harshly down at the bumbling man. The itch hadn't vanished from her fingers. It probably never would.


"You sleep well then? You shouldn't have."


Cleaing his throat, one of D'hein's ears bounced, and he managed after a moment. "Not for an instant."


"Good," she said in a brusque yet sincere manner. "Will Antimony have me on this ill-fated journey of yours then?"


"I... do not think that she won't have you." He blinked. "As I am fully aware of the risk in answering that question incorrectly or with an error of connotation, I think you should ask her yourself." He extended a hand towards the room down the hall.


Her eyes narrow at that. "It’s not for me to do. I don't even want to join you." Sharply nailed fingers curled inward into her palm.


"What? It was your idea." He looked at Illira, then back down the hallway, then to his left where there was no one. He brushed the back of one hand over his face. "Oof. Why does this sound like it's going to get complicated?"


"It was only my suggestion because I do not believe that either of us would like the other path that you left open." She paused to reflect, "As satisfying as its endpoint might have been."


He winced. "Right! Well. The satisfaction you foresaw is up for debate. Listen, let's go and... Are you ready to...?"


Illira turns and grabs hold of a small pack that sat slumped by the bed, "Yes."


"Ah, good! Appreciated!" D'hein nodded and backed up, a bit too far. He thudded against the wall in the hallway. Then he turned left, but left was incorrect. He turned right. "I'm sure Antimony will be overjoyed to begin!" He walked down the hallway.


 Illira merely let out a displeased sigh, staring at the back of D'hein's neck as she followed him.




Antimony stood still in the middle of her room, where Loughree had left her. Her ears and tail shivered with weary thoughts. She hadn't yet bothered to shut the door after the Keeper, but then she expected D'hein to return with that awful Carceri woman any moment now regardless. She wondered if she could simply abandon him and strike out to deal with everything on her own.


D'hein cheerfully appeared in Antimony's doorway once more, both hands clasped about his bottle of milk. With a smile of dubious width and one shivering ear, he proclaimed, "Hello again! I have good news. Illira has chosen to join us and is already prepared for the journey!"


Looking up sharply, Antimony's tail curled tight behind her. Her features followed suit. "I don't wish her presence in family matters."


Standing behind the short man, Illira laughed sharply, "Now. If only D'hein understand what that meant. It’s too late for that though. I am not left much choice in this matter, Antimony."


The older miqo'te flinched, not having noticed the elezen until she'd spoken. "Ah," green eyes averted. "I did not mean..." She trailed off, and then huffed.


D'hein lifted his hands between them. "Now, I think a certain definition of intentions is in order. Illira really has no care to intervene in your relationship with your daughters. She's simply coming because she may be helpful in locating them and dealing with whatever threat has been directed at them."


Folding her arms across her body, Antimony let out a faint sigh. "I don't think she--" she hesitated, closed her eyes, brought two fingers up to pinch the bridge of her nose. "... Let us just be on our way," she finally murmured in defeat.


"You don't think that I... what? Care about family? I don't think that you actually know me well enough to judge me, Antimony."


D'hein could only make a nervous half-laugh of desperate helplessness.


"I said nothing of the sort," Antimony snapped, seeming to bunch up in on herself for a moment before hurrying towards the door, intent on brushing past both D'hein and Illira.


"No. You never finished your thought," Illira seemed content to throw barbs from where she stood, as far from D'hein as the narrow hall would let her.


D'hein did not impede Antimony, watching the woman for a moment, and then looking towards Illira. He managed to groan out, "I think an indispensable paradigm for this expedition would encourage us to go out-of-our way and say deliberately uplifting things to one another." He found some energy and gestured with fake excitement. "For example, I'm very impressed with how quickly you were prepared to depart, Illira. And Antimony's endless, graceful acceptance inspires me to be a better person! Now, isn't that starting off on the right foot?"


"I would like to find my daughters now," Antimony muttered stiffly, standing out in the hall. "Which means we need to make our way to Vesper Bay immediately."


"Then we should requisition chocobos. I think you're familiar with the local stable, so you should lead the way," says Illira.


"Yes, Antimony! You're in charge!" D'hein followed as though everyone were having a great time. "We're here to help and support you. Let's go and bring your daughters home."

Link to comment

Cypress pressed one foot in front of the other, the familiarscent of sulfur and decay present to her trained senses. It used to be all she smelled, untainted air an almost foreign thing to her. But now it was a rarity, especially a trail as strong as this one, for as long as it had been since it had been left. If she extended the effort to pull its traces from the air surely it would have formed a dusty, ugly trail, it seemed that way today at least, the air as dry and arid as it was. It had taken sometime to pick up around the city though, with so many other distractions. It had taken the news of mauling to find an epicenter of the shed traces for her find what she needed. D'ahl. Like D'aijeen. Or so she remembered of Miqo'te familes. Coincidences were only wishful thinking for those who needed them to exist. She knew better. Althyk made all such things happen for a reason.


Either coincidentally or by the will of Althyk, D'hein wasenjoying his Chocobo ride. He figured that getting Illira out of Ul'dah without a homicide was a victory, and furthermore it was another that Antimony had not had a complete breakdown over the woman's presence. Yet. The Tia who would be Nunh pulled a bottle of milk from a satchel on his chocobo's side, eliciting a small clatter of the dozen other bottles the satchel contained. He hadn't packed any water. Water was not known for strengthening bones.


He held the bottle up to show to Antimony and Illira."Anyone feel like increasing their overall health and spirits with some milk? Just me?" He turned forward again and thought he saw a Roegadyn in their path, walking on foot. Not an uncommon sight out this far, but the woman looked to be almost exactly the same color as the dirt. Perhaps his lack of sleep had him halucinating.


Out of curiosity, he pointed ahead, "Is that awoman?"


Antimony had kept herself quiet, face forward and down asthe chocobo she rode did most of the work of guiding itself along the well-trod path. She recalled another time she'd ridden between Vesper Bay and Ul'dah, but that had been a happier event. Ulanan had made a good traveling companion.


That was a silly thought, and it was quickly banished byD'hein's sudden question. Lifting her head, Antimony turned green eyes towards his chocobo, then ahead to where he pointed. She blinked, squinted. "I... think so? It matters little, though."


Not being particularly fond of Chocobos, Illira was not inany particularly happy mood than she was earlier. It didn't help that her Chocobo didn't seem any happier to have her on its back than she was to be there. "We're not the only travelers around, you know," Illira snapped.


The rough sandstone of the bridge spread out before Cypressas a leather covered foot stepped onto it. Whispers brushed past her ears pulling at them to turn her attention from her path. But she ignored them, instead, setting her other foot onto the bridge.


Antimony furrowed her brow as they came closer to theroegadyn. Something about the color and the manner of that figure was familiar, and not in a good way.


"Oh, I know. But we should take every chance to befriendly to passersby, especially when traveling. Allow me to demonstrate." The Miqo'te kicked his chocobo forward towards the woman, then stood up in his saddle and waved the bottle of milk over his head, calling with undue cheer. "Excuse me, Roegadyn traveler! Could your mouth do with some refreshment and your bones with strengthening?"


The whispers formed more complete words, asking, begging forher attention even if they didn't deserve it. She turned now though, as they wouldn't stop. Not if she didn't trim them at their source. Orange and pink bangs fell over one stern eye. "What do you want?" She asked, graveled voice booming over the distance.


Antimony flinched. They were close enough now that she couldrecognize that face, and she felt she'd had enough of trying to pass things off as coincidence.


"Oh, hi there!" D'hein pulled his chocobo upalongside the woman, extending the bottle of milk so that she could see it. "I was just going to offer some refreshment, traveler to traveler. These roads are unfriendly enough without us... Waaaaaait!" He pulled the milk away and appeared horrified. "You're the mean lady!"


Sighing, Antimony drew her own chocobo to a halt a few fulmsaway. She frowned with pursed lips towards the roegadyn. "I should hope you have abandoned your previous task."


The furry-eared figures were faintly familiar. But then allMiqo'te kind of the looked the same. But from the leveled accusation, Cypress knew which ones these were, "You can believe what you wish, Miss."


Illira's thick brows came together, she didn't knwo thewoman, but the other two obviously did. "Who is she?" the elezen asked of Antimony as she pulled up next to her Chocobo.


Antimony swallowed, frown deepening. "A... threat to mydaughter," her tone is grave.


"If I recall properly..." D'hein withdrew theoffered milk, a dramatic gesture of condemnation. "This is the woman who said that if she found D'aijeen, she would kill her. And where do we find you walking to now?"


"I did not threaten. I merely stated what may have cometo pass. I only follow the path left behind. It could very well be your daughters. For your sake, I will hope that it is not."


"You will follow another path now," Antimonysnapped. "I will not have you anywhere near Aijeen."


D'hein placed his chocobo in the woman's path, letting thatgesture speak for him.


Cypress didn’t even need to look up at the man, such was hersize. "You really should not stand in my path. Though it is not your fault that you don't understand what it is I follow, I suppose."


"I understand threats to my children well enough. Turnback." Steeling herself, Antimony moved her chocobo in Cypress's path as well.


Illira didn’t move hers forward with the other, confused atwhat anyone was talking about. So she lets the scene play out before her, for now.


D'hein hummed. He looked at Illira, and then at Antimony."At this rate I'll have to be more rude than I prefer to be in the company of women. Could I ask you and Illira to continue on a ways that I might privately discuss this woman's opinion of my daughter?"


"So that you... what?" Antimony huffed. "No,you may not. You will discuss her in my presence."


The elezen shrugs, "This is not my business." Sheurges her chocobo forward, into the open space on the bridge to squeeze past the others. The chocobo's head snaps towards the others, craning its neck, but it doesn't actually do anything.


Cypress merely stood there, waiting for the pair to maketheir decision.


D'hein looks at Antimony, blinking. "Uhm. No. I thinkyou missed something I was implying. Anyway." He points. "Please don't leave Illira alone. I'll follow and just a moment. Once I've helped this poor refugee whose mind has been so shattered by the war. Or something."


"You should go ahead, Miss. More heads is not always abetter thing," states Cypress.


"I am not going to leave you to handle mattersinvolving my daughter on your own!" Antimony snapped.


D'hein rolled his eyes and leaned towards Antimony, hissingconspiratorially. "I want the option to intimidate her with violence if I need to. Get it?"


"And you would not give me the opportunity to see itdone?" Her green eyes narrow.


"Now... who is threatening who with violence?" asksCypress evenly.


"No!" D'hein ignored the Roegadyn. "Nor wouldI give you the opportunity to get hurt. Because I'm not a moron."


Antimony's hands tightened on her chocobo's reins, and the birdshifted, perhaps sensing her heightened emotion. Grey ears laying back, she finally turned from D'hein, wordlessly, and made to move the chocobo a short ways down the road.


D'hein sighed in satisfaction as Antimony turned away,moving off. After a few seconds, he smiled and looked back at the Roegadyn. "So, as I was saying. Would you like some milk?" His smile fled, replaced by a dark expression. "Because you can't have any of my milk."


Ears laying back as she put some distance between herselfand D'hein, Antimony angled her chocobo towards where Illira had continued on. She didn't entirely approach the woman, however, keeping an unhappy distance before turning back to look towards the Tia and the strange roegadyn.


The red woman didn't appear particularly concerned about themilk. Indeed, she ignored his rescinded offer completely. "What was your name?" She asked, "I assume that its starts with a D. Since you claim D'aijeen as a daughter. So I believe it is likely that you know of a D'ahl's passage into void."


"Such a thing is none of your business." D'heingsnapped, lifting his leg to drop himself off of his chocobo. His tired legs didn't take him as smoothly as he'd intended, and she stumbled and dropped to one knee. Then he stood again, dusted himself off, and resumed his aggressive tone. "I don't take it as a coincidence that you're on this road. I can't let you go on after that unwise display of honesty back in Ul'dah."


"Such a thing is my business and there is no such thingas a coincidence. For it’s the trail of the voidsent which killed her, that follow now. I tell you, so that you might understand better why I am here," explained Cypress, her voice steady, bordering on monotone.


"I understand your suppositions and your intentions.Yes, I think I understand them better than even you do. Therefore." He plucked a small, decorative golden scepter from his robe, the end of it pointed like a stake. It gleamed gold in the desert sunlight. "I shall make you an offer of free internment should you wish to continue. I am a trained thaumaturge. I shall see to it that your remains are properly dealt with."


"You should step aside, because I cannot and I do notwant to have to go through you."


"Don't. What?" D'heing shook his head, confusedand gestured with his scepter. "No, that's what I'm saying. Not that I'm going through... See, you're supposed to turn around because if you don't I'm hurting you, see?" He held his scepter forward to indicate it. "See, look. You know what this is?"


"I simply don't care what it is," Cypress steppedtowards the Miqo'te. Looking down at him, she reached out to grab the shiny-looking cudgel from his grasp.


D'hein pulled it away as though keeping a toy away from achild. "No! You don't think it'll be that easy, do you?"


Cypress lifted her hand upwards towards the man's face,ingesting a deep breath through her nostrils that flared widely with intake of air. Closing her eyes, she drew a spark on aether up from within her core, letting it fall down through her arm and into the palm of her hands, feeling the almost pleasurable shiver viscerally as small cracks formed at the surface of her red skin.


The large hand closed, letting the heat build up as herfingertips blacken, the effect spreading around her hand and up her forearm as pink-orange lines drew their way in its wake - a burning log having set too long in the fire. She opened her palm to reveal a flame that danced along it. "It could be, if you let it."


"I'm not very easily intimidated, you'll find!"D'hien lifted his head, stepped back and summoned Aether into his scepter, smirking stoically. "Are you sure you want to make a fight of this? I've taken down entire Garlean ariships before."


"I do not want a fight. But I cannot step aside."Cypress drew her other hand to the flame, her finger manipulating it into a growing ball.


His demeanor not demonstrating any concept that he is beingthreatened, D'hein drops into a casting stance and begins to conjure a spell. "I've warned you excessively. Now you shall endure one of the mightiest attacks the ossuary has ever devised. It is called... Blizzard Two."


Not pausing to call out what was forming at her fingertips,Cypress merely stepped back with large strides as she pulled back the hand that held the flaming ball and hurled it at D'hein and his chocobo.


D'hein was focusing on casting his spell, happily thinkinghe was about to chase the woman away, when the fireball struck him unawares. He felt a numb tingling across his arm, shoulder and back, which was enough to confuse him. But he was thoroughly disoriented as he was knocked off his feet and his body slammed into his chocobo, which made an unpleasant sound and bolted.


The man then fell on his back, feeling strangely hot evenfor the desert, and listened to the clatter of the milk bottles in his chocobo's saddlebags growing heartbreakingly distant. He gazed at the sky in vexation. The spell he had prepared in his scepter unleashed without target, freezing the ground next to him and making half of his body very cold.


With the distance she'd put herself at, Antimony could onlywatch with a sort of slow fear as the Hellsguard woman charged and released her fiery attack. She hadn't quite fathomed what the Hellsguard would be capable of, but now it bolstered her fear even further - both for D'hein (she hadn't intended to watch him get hurt, however annoying he was) and for her daughter. Gripping the reins of her chocobo, she didn't look to see if Illira had responded to the attack, instead driving her heels into the beast's side, at a point just in front of the legs that she knew from many decades would startle it just enough. The chocobo squawked and surged forward, and she rushed to angle it between the Tia on the ground and the roegadyn. "Stop!" She shouted and threw out one hand. "By all that is--just stop! Are you so heartless that you'd pass through us and murder an innocent child?!"


Illira watched on as D'hein fell to the ground and Antimonyrushed to the scene. A smile twitched itself into existence. He shouldn't have picked a fight that he couldn't win.


The flame fed by her aether continued to dance aboutCypress's ember of a hand, a little bit of it occasionally tinkling down into the sands below her, "What I track isn't innocent. It pulled a woman apart, leaving the trail that I'm now on."


"You don't understand, she--she doesn't know what...she can't control it! I swear to you it is not her fault!" Her joints ached as her hand shook around the reins, but she kept her wide-eyed stare on the Hellsguard.


Cypress's gaze was steady, "Excuses you have no rightto make. It does not matter if can't keep what she calls forth in a cage or not. She is still the reason they’re here and not where they belong, back beyond the voidgate. Now, you should either help me fix what she broke or step aside."


With a pleading look to the roegadyn, Antimony could onlyadd, "Please. Don't hurt her. You can kill the--the thing, just... please don't--if you hurt my daughter, I will--"


Shaking her head, Cypress said, "I cannot make promisesbecause I do not know the end tale."


"Then you are a monster just as much as what you claimto hunt!" Antimony shouted suddenly, gesturing roughly towards the other woman. "I won't let you hurt her! If it comes down to it, you will have to kill me first!"


D'hein sat up in the dirt, part of his shirt blackened andone of his sleeves frosted open. He looks at his feet. "I'm not sure what just happened."


Antimony's features tensed and she backed the chocobo up,away from the roegadyn. "Get back on your bird, now," she snapped to D'hein. "We will find her before this monster." And then she twisted the reins and sent the chocobo off running in the direction she'd left Illira.


"So you would let your... daughter continue to leavemore death in her wake because you believe that she doesn't know how handle what she does? You only enable her and should responsibility for the monster you birthed and look at in the mirror." Long fingers drew up enough fire from the seed to throw miniature flames at the feet of D'hein's chocobo.


Looking around in a confused daze, D'hein muttered, "Mybird's run off. I must have been very frightening." He stood and turned, watching Antimony ride off. He said again, quietly, "My chocobo has fled. I think I must..." He looked at the ground, noted tracks, and nodded. "I will follow it."


The chocobo stood ten meters away. He would have found italmost immediately, indeed he did see it and began towards it, but fire burst along its feet and it squawked, running further off. D'hein trotted after it.


Illira helpfully remarked to Antimony as she approached,"We should run along without him."


Antimony did not slow for D'hein's confusion, or theroegadyn's words. She would pass Illira without comment, a desperate look on her face. If the elezen followed, then she would, but Antimony was focused on pushing her chocobo as fast as physically possible, on reaching D'aijeen as fast as physically possible.


Cypress picked back up her walk and the trail that she hadnever really left. Slowly, the cracks present in her skin receded as she let the fire melt off of her hand and into the sandy, dry ground below her. Despite the speed and desperation that the woman had fled with, she was not hurried.


Finally catching up to his terrified chocobo, its feetburned, D'hein clambered up on top of it. The first thing he did was pluck a bottle of milk from the satchel on the side, open it and drink some. Then he turned it to follow after Antimony, still appearing deeply confused.


Illira narrowed her eyes at the approaching roegadyn, beforeturning after Antimony, nudging her stubborn, grounchy beast into a trot. At the very least, she should investigate the situation of Antimony's daughter. Anywhich way this panned out, somebody innocent would be in danger. And it was not in her to simply walk away from that.



When D'hein finally noticed pace set by Antimony, he was aways behind, and he found himself urging his chocobo into an unpleasantly speedy pace, chasing after her.

Link to comment

Driving her chocobo as hard as she was, it took only a fraction of the usual time to make it to Horizon. A few Blades gave her an odd look as she rushed past the gate of the town, shouting out warningly at her to slow down lest she hurt someone. She did, but not because of their words. Instead she reined her chocobo in to look around the waypoint settlement with quick, anxious glances. Searching. Ulanan was supposed to be here, somewhere. Her tail shivered and curled up around her waist.


The lalafel was easy to spot: she was the one wearing an enormous white hat sitting on top of a crate against a side of the entrance, munching happily the contents of a jar of olives. She seemed too distracted by them to notice the familiar Miqo'te.


D'hein drove his chocobo hard. Not as hard, though. he didn't really know how to drive a chocobo hard. Chocobo-driving wasn't really his thing, hard or otherwise. He told it that it should try going faster, but it didn't really seem to hear or understand him. He went fast enough to keep Antimony in sight, and too fast to comfortably drink anything while he rode. It was both unplesanat and ineffective. The worst parts of all his intentions. And he still felt strangely warm on one side.


He would not arrive until a few minutes after Antimony did, however.


 Illira kept pace with D'hein, her mind running back through why she was involved in this whole mess to begin with and if she shouldn't just ride off, the worry of innocent fading the more she watched D'hein spill milk over himself as he perched percariously on his bird.


She caught the lalafell's scent first, a certain saltiness and the unmistakable aroma of olives. "Ulanan!" Her voice cracked as she spotted the lalafell and her familiar hat. The chocobo beneath her ducked and swung its neck about, perhaps sensing her own anxiety, as she turned it to make her way towards her friend. "Ulanan, please tell me you've found her..."


As the rules of etiquette demanded, the lalafel first waved and smiled. Then she jumped down of the crate and nodded. "They left to Vesper Bay not long ago. There's only one road there and I imagine K'airos won't just desert the Blades, and so I determine we will discover them at a distance. If they are leaving town, that is."


She took a moment to spin around, take the jar and close it.


"Vesper... alright." Antimony sagged, let out a shaky breath, and wavered on her chocobo for a moment before straightening. She cast a brief look towards where she'd come from, back out into the desert, and then looked to Ulanan. "I need to go there. Now. There... that roegadyn is--I need to get to Aijeen before she does."


The lalafell blinked. "Roegadyn?"


"That--" Antimony blinked, shook her head. "It doesn't matter. She threatens my daughter, and I will protect her. Come with me to Vesper Bay."


Ulanan secured the jar of olives to her belt. "I already rented a chocobo. I'll pick it up and we can leave." she said, heading towards the chocobokeep.


"Thank you," Antimony breathed and turned her own mount to follow the shorter woman.


D'hein arrived promptly after this statement, watching the white hat bounce off towards the chocobo keep. As he stopped his chocobo, he rewarded himself with a sip of milk. Anything to keep his spirits up. As soon as he was done, he began, "Ah, Antimony. So, I was thinking..." Antimony began to walk away from him, following the floating hat. He followed after and tried again. "So I was thinking that we should find Ulanan as soon as we can. She's always had quite a talent for rooting out your daughters, you might recall."


"That is what I have done," Antimony replied tersely, after only a brief moment of surprise at D'hein's arrival.


"Hello, D'hein" Ulanan added while they moved, not really expecting the man to identify her.


D'hein balked in confusion. "That hat spoke my-... Oh! Hello, Ulanan. Have you been able to locate Aijeen or K'airos?"


Illira sat on her Chocobo a few feet back from the others. All three of them, she could barely stand. Two of those she found detestable to the -nth degree. And one of them she just wanted dead. And here she was, now having joined a hunt to save a daughter that had been accused of ripping someone apart. The roegadyn seemed capable enough, and if she was in the wrong, surely there was some to take care of her as well. She wasn't needed, not truly. The itch in her feet to run grew as she sat there on the bird's back.


"They are on Vesper Bay." the lalafell replied to D'hein. She reached the chocobo keeper and waved at him. The man, also a lalafell, gestured towards the closest bird. Ulanan climbed on it in two hops. 

It was then she noticed the elezen lingering somewhere behind them.


"Is she coming too?"


"If she wishes," Antimony's reply was short, and as soon as Ulanan was settled on her chocobo, she jerked the reins on her own bird and pushed her way through the loose crowd milling around Horizon, heading west.


"Ah. Like a true Dodo, D'aijeen would know the best remote places to hide out for a few days." He turned to Illira and smiled. "They have decent seafood in Vesper Bay, I'm told. One good thing in all of Thanalan isn't so unthinkable. Do you have a taste for it?" He looked forward again, noticed that Antimony was already well ahead, and frowned. "Ah, we're heading off again."


A sneer made its way across her face as a short laugh broke through her harsh lips, "With any luck the Roegadyn will finish what she started with you." With that, Illira turned her chocobo away from the direction that Antimony had charted.


"This Roegadyn seems like an interesting person that I should hate." Ulanan concluded out loud, though mostly to herself. She opened her book of spells, laying it on the bird's neck. She took from it a pile of colored envelopes that were being held between the pages. She extended three of them to Antimony. 


"Do you think D'aijeen will have a violent reaction when she sees us?"


Closing her eyes, Antimony bowed her head and let her chocobo walk on its own for a moment. Her fingers twisted about the reins, and she almost said yes, most assuredly so, but a tightness in her chest would not allow such things. Instead she just sighed and shook her head.


Wishing to follow Antimony, D'hein grimaced and turned his chocobo after Illira, moving it quickly to intercept here. "Illira, do not forget the reason for this trip. Though I might pretend in my small talk that you are here because of some deep-concealed altruism, I do not for an instant forget that your supply of basic decency must be reinforced by derision. I suggest you keep on behind Antimony."


"But you forgot that I am here so that I neither kill you, nor be stuck in a room with you. Leaving your desperate, pitiful party means both of those goals stay intact." Illira makes to steer her chocobo around D'hein's.


Ulanan shook the letters on her hand, extending her arm further and basically shaking them in front of Antimony's nose. "Well, just in case take these! If they are not needed, no harm done!" she urged.


"No." D'hein puts his chocobo in front of Illira. "You are here because you revealed yourself to be a violent sociopath, and I could neither leave you alone nor abandon Antimony. Helpfully, you offered to come along, solving my problem. If you leave, then my problem, and your problem, is renewed. Understand?"


Glancing down at the lalafell, Antimony managed a strained smile of thanks before accepting the papers, tucking them into the single pocket on her robe, by her hip. Not paying attention to whether or not D'hein and Illira were following, she urged her chocobo on and said quietly to Ulanan, "I am sorry for bringing you into such trouble."


"I'm only a danger to you. And I can't be, if I'm not around you. I see no problem. Now let me go."


"I'm afraid that I am adamant" He lifted his head, then opened his eyes. "Let the businesswoman in you do the thinking. This is a team-building exercise. You can't seem to work with me and that simply can't go on. This is better than forcing Ildur to send us to some kind of group counseling camp weekend or some such event."


Ulanan smiled to the Miqo'te. "Friends help each other!" she declared. She turned her head around, making her chocobo turn with her and move towards the others. She stopped once she was next to D'hein. "Here, take this and keep them in your pockets. They are protection spells." she said to him, handing only two yellow envelopes to him.


"Why? So that I can help you keep a murderous girl from reaping what she has sowed? I didn't hear Antimony deny her crimes," a deep frown was etched onto Illira's face.


"We'll deal with that when we know what happened." D'hein growled. "Five people were killed the other night outside the Ossuary, including a friend of mine. Because my daughter survived the attack, some think she perpetrated it. Does knowing this at all change how you feel?"


Antimony watched Ulanan turn back towards D'hein but didn't stop or slow her own chocobo. Shadows fell over her as she crossed into the tunnel that would take them into the saltflats between Horizon and Vesper Bay.


The lalafell grimaced and stopped waving the letters at D'hein. Instead, she continued further back and tried the same with Illira.


D'hein finally noticed that Ulanan had approached them. They still lingered right where the journey had started, not having moved to follow Antimony at all. As he noticed the Lalafel's sudden presence, he cast his eyes back and noticed that Antimony had moved far ahead. His tail shivered behind him. He looked down at the items in Ulanan's hands, but barely registered them before snapping his gaze back to Illira. "We don't have time for these dramatics. You're an adult and you comitted to this. Continue with us."


If it was possible for Illira's frown to deepen, it did as she watched the tiny person wave colorful envelopes at her.


Ulanan matched the elezen's frown with one of her own, glaring at her from the shadow cast by her hat. "Protective spells, in case things go awry." she said, tone dry.


D'hein snatched the letters from Ulanan, holding one out to Illira. "Put it in your pocket and come on. I don't care about your complaints or your comfort."


A few steps into the tunnel, Antimony found the need to reach Vesper Bay far outweighed any wish to let the others keep up. She urged the chocobo into a trot and then, as they took the descending tunnel, into a full-on run.


Illira could feel the pressure brewing up inside her, as her energy sapped away. She snatched up the envelope that D'hein held, crumpling it up and tossing it to the ground as she held the reigns in her other hand, sharply yanking on them in the direction that Antimony had vanished into.


Having played her mailman role, Ulanan hurried forward to catch up on Antimony, who she noticed was in a hurry of her own.


Rolling his eyes, D'hein pocketed the other envelope himself. "Such a rude individual." He turned his chocobo and kicked its sides to chase after Antimony, glad that at least she was cooperating. Leading them like she was meant to. A smart, elegant woman.


Her chocobo's feet splashed noisily through the flats, weaving in and out of marshland and following a path it likely knew by heart. Antimony kept her face forward, ears down. If the others caught up, she didn't notice, though with her speed it was unlikely.

Link to comment

((Be sure to read Breath of Thal for full context of what's been going on with D'aijeen and K'airos in the meantime.))




When she reached Vesper Bay, she didn't slow until she'd passed wholly through the gates and then almost immediately jumped off her bird. Her joints protested that action - something that was more appropriate for someone a decade younger - but she pushed it to one side. Standing in the courtyard on the east side of the port town, she looked around with wide eyes.


The town that Antimony arrived in was not a welcoming one. There was none of the normal bustle a fishing and trade town should have had. Doors were shut, streets were empty. An inn in the corner had caved in, stained with what looked like a dark liquid. The shadows around down shivered as though with incredible heat, though they were cool. The shadow that Antimony cast grew darker as she approached, likely without her notice at first, but by the time she dismounted she stood in a splotch of blackness.


The chocobo would notice that something was off, though its mind would not be able to comprehend what. Something white moving far beneath the ground, visible throught he shadow like a window, would make the bird start and shift.


The fur along Antimony's tail bristled at the sight of the town. It was more than clear that something was not right, and the inky blackness that shivered around one building was all the evidence the older woman needed. Her heart twisting with fear, she glanced back the way she'd come, wondering finally how far back Ulanan and the others were, and then took a few steps towards the black-shrouded building. She shouted as she spoke, as loud as she could manage, "Aijeen! Will you come out and speak with your mother?"


Ulanan arrived a moment later, jumping off her bird with her book in hand, feeling the strangeness in the air even before seeing the inn. The book burst open and a circle of light extended from her towards Antimony, creating an invisible barrier around her.


As Antimony approached the building, the shadows under her feet rose up. They whispered. A mask rose up and lay on the surface of the stone in front of her, as though floating on the top of the shadows. It tilted to gaze at her. Then the Baalzephon rose, its body covered in plain white masks. Thin arms lifted from its sides as it uttered hushed sounds, inaudible voices, and leaned towards Antimony.


Breath freezing in her chest, Antimony stumbled back from the masks. "Ulanan, what--" Her eyes skidded past the inky demon, unwilling to look at it, terrified by its presence but still driven by a need for her daughter. "Aijeen, please! It's your mother! I know you're scared; just come and--and talk! I will not hurt you!"


K'airos had been wandering close to the inn, shouting at people and urging them to not get anywhere near it. The streets had emptied quickly, but she kept walking around, in a circle, wondering if she shouldn't simply run away.

Then she heard her mother, and made up her mind. She ran towards her voice, around the corner and quickly coming in sight of her.

"Mom!" she yelled. "Mom! Don't...don't come! Stay away!"


A bright blue ball of light was thrown to the voidsent by Ulanan. It unfolded midair into a big geometric open maw with bulgy eyes and a hole on the top. It tried very boldly to bite on any limb of the creature.

[8/4/2014 3:42:12 AM] Kyle: The Voidsent was significantly distracted by this simple gesture from Ulanan, snapping its limbs away, the masks turning one way and then another in confusion. More Baalzephons seethed below the ground, though, observing.




Inside the inn, D'aijeen plucked a bloodied linkpearl from her bathwater. Her blue eyes glared at it from the blackness of her features, the tip of her tail twitching back and forth. Then she dropped it and spun on the man, smiling. "It seems your brothers don't want to learn from me after all." She walked over to the man, Qion'a, leaning forward to look in his face. "And I guess you're deaf now, is that right? Nod yes or no."


Her amusement continued until, with the twitch of one ear, she snapped straight and spun towards the room and the hall beyond. She trotted out into it, wide-eyed, looking around. "Airos? I thought I heard-" but her sister wasn't there. She stopped in her tracks and stared at the floor, now covered in darkness. She shook, her mind boiling over with thoughts.




The familiar voice struck Antimony like ice water and she spun towards it, feeling a deep rush of relief. "Airos, you're alright--" She huried then towards her middle daughter, deliberately not looking at the demon that writhed just a short ways away under Ulanan's attack. "Airos, something has gone very wrong. I need to speak with your sister!"


K'airos kept running, not caring for anything that could be on the way or between them. "You need to leave! She'll just get angrier!" she yelled.


The blue maw Ulanan had summoned changed colors, still biting on the limb. It became orange, the color spreading from the top along with sparks that came from the hole there. The next moment, its big eyes had busted out in fire. And then its whole body followed, exploding and leaving nothing of itself behind.




Qion'a didn't answer to D'aijeen. Not with words or a nod. He was truly deaf. He kept his arms wrapped around the head a moment longer.




The Baalzephon made no sound as it fell, slowly, like a sinking cloud. Its body burned. Its thin arms dwindled like twigs. The shadows accepted it as it sagged away. In the same moment, another began to rise not far from it. Very slowly, unhurried.




D'aijeen had already forgotten the man. K'airos had said she would wait. D'aijeen could hear... she did hear. No, it couldn't have been. But K'airos had said that she'd told.


Her thin legs pitch black, D'aijeen walked into the hallway, book still held against her chest. She turned to walk outside, careful not to hurry herself. Already she felt weary, just from the shivering of her hands, the shaking of her tail, the wideness of her eyes.





"It will be alright, Airos, I promise." Antimony ran right up to her daughter, made to grip her arms and then, as though she couldn't help herself, hug her close. "Ulanan will help keep us safe. I just need to speak with Aijeen. She's scared, but it's okay. I promise you!"


K'airos practically lunged at the hug, collapsing on her mother's arms. "She's not scared! She's...I don't know what she is! I tried to do what she wanted, but it wasn't enough!" she cried, words trampling over each other, becoming barely understandable. She pushed away, but still kept her hands on Antimony's arms. "You need to leave! She'll hurt more people if you don't!"


The lalafel hadn't moved an ilm from where she stood. She moved the pages of her book and two other balls of light came from it, taking the same shape as the previous one. One of them did the predictable thing and tried to bite the voidsent's head off. The other followed Ulanan's finger and flew towards the two Miqo'te.


D'aijeen stopped on the steps of the inn, just outside, and watched her mother and sister embrace. Her body tensed up, but then it relaxed, and suddenly she didn't feel like anything. All of her tiredness melted into numbness. She felt weightless. The sensation was so strange that she laughed at it. She laughed loudly, and the shadows around her shook as if they were laughing too. Her eyes smiled, and then teared up, she was laughing so hard.


Antimony kept K'airos close even as her daughter sought to pull away. She kissed her forehead, pet her ears. "You don't have to be scared, Airos. I will make everything alright again, I promise. I will--" She blinked in confusion suddenly, lifted her head somewhat as laughter reached her ears. Twisting her head towards the sound, her mouth dropped open, eyes widening at the sight of her youngest daughter. She half turned, not letting go of K'airos immediately but still wanting to give D'aijeen attention. The black on her skin made Antimony's stomach roil, though. How far had she fallen with these demons? "Aijeen... What has happened to you..?"


K'airos shook, looking at her sister. "You need to leave!" she repeated. "I don't want you to, but you have to! She'll get worse!" She turned to face her mother with a pleading expression.


Ulanan walked towards them, hastily, with the book in her hand shining brightly. There were now half a dozen blue maws hovering following behind her, and she probably had another few inside a pocket somewhere.


"Happened? Mom, I've made myself beautiful." D'aijeen's laughter fell away, though she still smiled broadly. She paused in her approach to turn sideways and let herself be seen, brushing the wand and rodent skulls through her skirt so the stained frills would bounce. "I wanted to be pretty for Airos. She is my love, after all. My destiny. My most perfect dream. The one lover that can redeem an entire world of hate. My own K'airos." She pushed her hip to one side, stretching her discolored legs in display. "Do you like it, mom? Have you come to reconsider? If you would only accept me, we could all be together."


Turning from K'airos while keeping one arm on her, Antimony fought back a rising nausea at D'aijeen's actions. She shook her head slightly, tail quivering, sensed Ulanan moving closer to them but found the bulk of her focus locked on the young girl across from her. "Aijeen... I only want us to be together again, happy again," she breathed. "Is this... is this because of what happened in Ul'dah? That monster... I know it wasn't your fault, love. I know."


D'aijeen reeled, taking a step back, ducking forward as if to catch her balance. Then she was upright again, and she ground out in a deep, choking tone. "How do you know about that?"


Green eyes looked away for a second, to Ulanan and then past the lalafell towards the entrance to the town. She hesitated, watched the gate for a second, and then returned her near-mournful gaze to her daughter. "D'hein cared about D'ahl very much, too. I know it must have frightened you, Aijeen." She finally pulled herself away from K'airos to take a few steps towards the younger girl. "And... and you are grieving, I know. Please let me help you."


K'airos faced her sister, though her eyes were fixed on her mother's back. She tapped her hands together repeatedly. She said nothing, since every time she did or said anything things simply got worse.


Behind, Ulanan and her maw squad stopped, not very far, peeking between the two Miqo'te.


The Baalzephons continued to move beneath the shadows, as though waiting. D'aijeen didn't even see them. Her eyes were on her mother, though. "Grieving? I'm done. I'm not afraid. Fear is what other people feel instead of love. You're all afraid. I can see it all over you." She gestured with her head. "Airos is afraid of me. You brought the Lalafel the hurt D'ahl. How do you think you're going to help me when you're afraid of me?"


Antimony went quiet at that. Quiet because it was true. She was terrified of her own daughter - or rather, what her daughter had become. This was so much worse than the beast in the desert. It was worse than all the hateful words. Shutting her eyes, Antimony took in a shaky breath and then, very slowly reached into her pocket to pull out the letters Ulanan had given her. "Protective spells," she said, her voice as steady as she could make it, but thin in the fear that rode just beneath. She held the papers towards D'aijeen as though showing her and then, very deliberately, dropped them to the ground. "You are my daughter," she said. "I love you. I will not fear you."


"I'm not a child anymore." D'aijeen continued forward a few paces, the smile inching its way back on to her face. "You don't love me. You just want to stop me. You don't love me. You don't want to get close to me, or touch me, or listen to me. You don't think I'm pretty. You don't like what I do. You don't love me. You just want to take my Airos away from me."


K'airos took a step forward. She was about to burst into crying again, but she kept herself under control. "No! Don't you see?" she shouted to her sister. "You are the one driving me away from you! We would be happy if you hadn't freaked out at mom! You need to stop!"


"None of that is true, Aijeen," Antimony managed through a thin breath. "None of it. If I didn't love you, I wouldn't have come here."

Link to comment

D'hein was lagging behind, trying to keep pace with Illira and make sure she didn't go running off. He'd planned on making this trip to deal with one misbehaving daughter, but now the Elezen woman was acting like another. As much as he loathed letting Antimony go on ahead in such a state of desperation as she appeared to be, D'hein would not permit himself to see permiting Illira to leave as an option. Most likely Antimony would not find D'aijeen immediately anyway.


Vesper Bay was well within view, but it seemed a thousand miles away at the rate they were moving. He gave Illira a hard look as he rode, not a scowl or a glare, but something rigid and stern nonetheless. For now, however, he left her in silence.


The sea town looked so much darker than Illira remembered from the last time that she had paid it a visit. Having calmed slightly since the argument in Horizon, she didn't turn around as soon as D'hein showed her his back and moved onward at a faster pace. 


She followed, grey eyes casting about ahead of her for the trouble that practically eminated from the town now.


The blond-maned Tia remained unaware of the different air of the place, even as the shadows became as thick as puddles beneath his chocobo. He was looking for the twitch of Antimony's ears, or the flick of K'airo's red tail, or D'aijeen's glaring white clothes. What he saw first was a number of disembodied, strangely-shaped blue mouths flocking like birds around a giant hat and the Lalafel beneath it. This was just the kind of nonsensical image he had the luck of having frequent business with, and as he turned his chocobo that direction, he caught sight of K'airos and Antimony staring down a strange black blot and a derelict building. Odd sight.


He pulled his Chocobo up short. "Oh." He blinked, and one of his ears lay down, and his tail moved absently behind him as his expression moved from one flavor of stoic to another. "Unexpected." D'hein looked over his shoulder for Illira.


The woman stopped next to D'hein, "Something very foul is afoot." Noting the lack of... any persons outside those that she recognize, she came to at least one assumption, "It seems most of the village has fled."


"Foul is a word, yes." D'hein looked at Illira and gestured towards the corner of town where the ruined inn was. The place seemed to be lost in shadow though the sun shone full on it, but in the occasional splotches, Antimony and K'airos were in full view, as well as splashes of red from D'aijeen's new dress. "My daughter stands entrenched in Voidsent, and I find myself losing hope in her innocence as to the crimes of which she has been accused."


Illira looks sharply at D'hein, seemingly more interested in the lines and planes that made up his face than what loomed all around them, "What will you do then? That Roegadyn is not so far behind and Antimony looks to be pleading with the girl. I know where I will stand."


"I think that for now." He leaned forward on his chocobo, allowing his exhaustion to show, though it was not audible in his voice. "I'm going to let Antimony plead. I don't know what this is. I don't know what my daughter is doing or why."


"It looks rather simple to me. She unleashed a deadly plague on this town. Why doesn't matter." She shouldn't be surprised by his choice, and she wasn't. But she was surprised that she was disappointed.


"The fact that the 'why' doesn't matter is the reason you're degenerating into a psychotic," D'hein muttered in reply. "I've never actually seen D'aijeen interact with her mother, so I don't know if the pleading will do any good. I want to see."


On the steps of the inn, D'aijeen turned her gaze to K'airos, the eyes on her darkened features looking hurt for a moment before curving with a smile that seemed to flatten out the shadow of her face. "I need to stop? It isn't true? So I'm wrong, I'm lying. I need to stop. I always need to stop! Always telling me to stop! Oh, Airos." She walked off the steps and onto the road, heading towards her moth and sister. "I don't think you understand what you're saying. The rejection. How hurtful it is."


K'airos stomped her foot down and yelled in response. "I don't like you like this! I want you back to how you were!"


Illira's chocobo paws at the ground, obviously uncomfortable with their current position and proximity to voidsent, "Oh good, you want to see. Well. I suppose we should not stir the hornet's nest ourselves."


Antimony took D'aijeen's approach as invitation to move closer as well, even if it wasn't what her daughter actually meant. The need to be near her, to show that she still supported and loved her, in spite of everything, overrode even K'airos's fear. "It's not rejection, dear," She stepped towards D'aijeen, slow but certain. "I promise you. If we ask you to stop, it is with good reason, because we love you and don't want you to hurt yourself!"


"There's nothing to go back to." D'aijeen shook her head as though K'airos were asking her to transform into another species. "This is how I've always been. You either love me or don't, and you don't. You don't. You want me to stop. Stop being me. Because I'll hurt... what, me? No. You hurt me. You hurt me."


D'hein's ears stood up on his head, almost facing the same direction, but not quite. One turned slightly towards Illira. "If there's a hornets nest that does get stirred up, I'll have to do something about it. But I won't kick it. I've been a father too long to make that mistake."


"You weren't like this back in the tribe, before you found that acursed book!" K'airos replied, not moving an inch from her spot. She was tapping her knuckles together, and her eyes were about to burst into tears once more. "I want my little sister back! Not this!"


Antimony shook her head, green eyes pleading with her daughter as she approached. "Aijeen, look at you. Look at everything around you! How can you think this is safe, for you or for anyone? You're--you're playing with demons, Aijeen, and I don't want to lose you to them! Please," she held out both hands to her daughter, close enough that only a few, quick steps would take her right to her, "we can help you."


"You know I couldn't even read that book at first. But I didn't have to. I remembered." D'aijeen chuckled a bit. "I already knew everything in the book. It just reminded me. I was always, always this way. I was always just like this." With her arms at her sides, D'aijeen walked forward towards her mother, closing the distance, but not lifting her hands to embrace the woman. "And I always loved you. But you loved a make believe Aijee that never existed."


Antimony stepped forward one last step and brought her arms around her daughter without hesitation, ignoring the way D'aijeen's body was stained as black as void. She didn't say anything, just hugged her and kissed the top of her head.


Illira smirks, watching the reunion, "I'm sure it'll all be fine now. Don't you think you?" sarcasm nearly dripped from her mouth as the inky shadows dripped off of the rootop edges.


"See, mom. It's perfectly safe. I'm completely in control." D'aijeen turned her gaze up to her mother, the smile on her lips just visible through the shadows. "Like I'll be in complete control of you." She lifted her hands and put them behind her mother. "Once you're dead."


D'aijeen pulled Antimony into a tighter hug, a real one. She lay her head against her mother's jawline and her green hair, dappled with shadows, fell over the woman chest. Her tail twitched behind her. The sound of the nearby surf against the shore slid through the shadows like thunder through a stormcloud. D'aijeen sighed, her mouth opened wide.


Shadows poured out of her body, out of her very skin, out of her open mouth, from beneath the shadows of her hair. Ink-dark and oil-thick, they rose like a plume and washed over Antimony, bearing her backwards and downwards, completely obscuring her. The strange matter roiled like igneous fluid, suffocating.


K'airos let out a scream and ran towards them. Behind, Ulanan lifted a finger. Three of her pets flew in the same direction, passing her and leaving her behind quickly. Two of them tried to bite and push D'aijeen away with a charge, while the other headed behind her, its top colored orange instead of blue.


The black, liquid shape that was now all that was discernible of Antimony just writhed on the ground.


On seeing Antimony get brought downward, sinking into the town's stones, Illira urged her chocobo forward. But it refused to have any of that and instead hopped in place, turning, and then backing into D'hein's chocobo.


Releasing the pillar of matter that she'd summoned around her mother, letting it fall to the ground, D'aijeen spun in place. Two of the summoned maws found themselves biting shadow at her back as she stood weak, buckling under her own weight, unmoved. She dropped her gaze to the red maw, but the many faces of a Baalzephon rose lazily between them.


Surrounded by thick, dark matter, in front and behind, D'aijeen shouted as loud as her thing voice could manage, "Airos, I command you to kill the Lalafel immediately!"


D'hein had been in the process of dismounting his own chocobo when Illira's bumped into it, startling his bird and causing it to stumble backward and squawk loudly. D'hein was tossed off by it's tiny, flapping wings, landing on his feet and falling flat. He was on his feet quickly, though, his scepter in hand, running in the direction though he was still far removed from it.


"I don't want to!" K'airos cried, yet spun towards the lalafell immediately as ordered. She ran into one of the tiny mage's summons, which had reacted to the command in the opposite direction, inflating itself until it was the size of the Miqo'te. With its mouth open, it seemingly swallowed her whole.


Ulanan pointed at Antimony, making another one fly to her, inflating and trying to swallow her too.


The pets harassing D'aijeen changed targets and bited on the interposing shadows, changing colors. However, the already red one simply exploded.


As one of the blue summons expanded as though to engulf the black form of Antimony, the writhing slowed, growing sluggish like molasses. The pitch matter shimmered with an oily sheen.


Despite strong urging and kicks to the chocobos sides, it continued to do anything but go forward. So Illira abandoned the bird, hopping off of it. She didn't bother to watch it run back off towards Horizon. Instead she put her hand to the short sword hanging off of her belt. She let it lay there for a moment before opening the small container clipped next to it, pulling out the round of wire it contained, wrapping one end of it around her around her hand before walking towards a building that sat near the confrontation, intending to duck out of sight behind it.


The exploding maws made the Baalzephons expel strange, groaning sounds, sending them drifting downward as though sinking in water. D'aijeen was safe behind them for a moment. In the next, however, the shadows around her snapped open on the side where Antimony and K'airos had been, forming a quick, dark hallway to trap her inside with them. Not even pausing to watch the shape of her mother stilling on the ground, D'aijeen lifted her hands, one holding her scepter and the other holding a conjurer's wand adorned with rodent skulls. Between the two handfuls of casting implements, power grow, and a powerful concussive blast shot from D'aijeen towards the maw that had captured her sister, hot with crackling sparks.


D'hein ran at full speed towards the inn, and when he thought he was close enough he skidded to a stop and began to cast a spell. It took time, however. He didn't know how or when D'aijeen had become so much faster than he was at spell casting.


The maw holding K'airos took the concussive blast as well as a balloon, the force of the attack deforming its shape and making it roll on a side. It's surface cracked, and it spit K'airos out of it before collapsing like a house of cards. The girl crawled for a moment before trying to push herself up, confused by what just happened. 


The one with Antimony opened its mouth and bit down, taking her inside it. It turned around, mouth open towards Ulanan. The lalafel's book lighted up as she casted a cleansing spell on the Miqo'te, trying to dispel the darkness enveloping her.


D'aijeen turned her attention the maw that had taken her mother a moment before. Shadows splashed around her, the sound of the surf shaking through them, as black matter continued to drip from her every gesture. She raised her arms with a spell to destroy the maw, and a shadow moved with the motion to block Ulanan's attempt to dispel her curse.


D'hein unleashed a spell that was so driven by instinct and need that he didn't even have a name for it, just muttering, "Ice... spell!" out of habit and mostly in confusion at himself.


The frigid spell cut through the line of shadows and struck D'aijeen sideways, knocking the girl to one knee and freezing her hands rigidly in front of her. Her spell broke as unformed mana, harmless, and the shadow she had been raising melted away. Ulanan's spell succeeded. D'aijeen turned furious eyes on her "father".


The shadow matter that had wrapped around Antimony pulled away from her skin like water, dripping to the ground and either fading completely or rejoining the shadows it had come from. The woman remained still in the summon's maw, however, eyes closed.


The shadows didn't scare Illira, though as she made her way around the building and behind the fight she couldn't help but shiver as the unnatural cold settled into her bones as she traveled through the dark depths that the girl had created. Closing her hand around the wire that she'd wrapped around it, Illira tried to simply focus in on that as she picked up the other end with her left hand.


Ulanan waved her small arm southwards. The maw holding Antimony seemed to nod and started moving away, closing its mouth to protect its hold. 


"That's a good idea, keep doing that!" she yelled towards D'hein, though she didn't bother looking at him. She jerked her book forward, its pages lighting up to form an unaspected ball of aether that was directed at D'aijeen's head.


K'airos lifted up from where she was and ran towards the Lalafell, crying, but with her whole body telling her to kill the woman.


D'hein intended to continue. He was already conjuring his next spell.


But compared to D'aijeen, he hadn't even begun. The shadows washed away from the small, tired woman, long enough for her to snap her arms apart and thrust her hands forward, the scepter in one hand and the wand in the other glowing with the respective magics.


Biting wind struck D'hein's eyes like sand, sought to sting his nostrils and lips and the skin of his face. Closing his eyes, he tried to ignore the strange sensations of non-pain and continue conjuring his spell. But the wind was joined by fire a moment later, striking him hard and knocking him off his feet. He felt his clothes catch fire and the flame get caught in the wind, and he released the ice spell he'd been conjuring to put the fire out.


He rolled to his feet just in time for a Baalzephon to brush past him. Cold and swift in its own lazy way, it disregarded him as insignificant in the same moment it knocked him away once more. The shadow chased the maw that carried Antimony away.


Coming around the back corner of what Illira remembered to be the inn, she peeked around the corner. The cool metal of the wire feeling familiar in her hands, though it had been sometime since she had felt them there. 


She could see D'hein fighting against the wind his supposed daughter had conjured. Tall masked pillars haunting the lalafel and Antimony who was being carried away. The girl stood not but a few feet from her, facing away towards the small battlefield as she weaved her spells. Tightening her grip on both ends of the wire, Illira's lanky form crept forward towards frail, greenhaired girl.


K'airos reached the lalafell mage in that moment and kicked at her with all her might. A spell was fired from between Ulanan's clothes, a paper sphere interposing between her and the attack, making K'airos strumble backwards. The last of Ulanan's maws headed towards her, inflating as the other ones had done. 


The tiny mage conjured a new spell from the book. A purple circle of aether formed at K'airos feet and trapped them in a magical web. The lalafell moved away, then, sprinting towards the maw holding Antimony.


D'aijeen watched her "father" fall away like the clumsy oaf he was. She didn't give him another thought. She imeediately turned her attention to the Lalafel that was escaping with her mother. Her mother. Hers. Being taken away, right in front of her. She wouldn't stand for it. Almost wihtout thought, she conjured fire in her scepter and threw it towards the enchanted construct.


Once again displaying his oft-useless talent of standing back up very quickly after having fallen down, D'hein was present to intercept that spell. He couldn't conjure  fast enough to stop it, but he found it in himself to place his own body in the path of the fire. To let himself be burned by his daughter, for his daughter's mother, the woman whom he would never be allowed to love. It was a fate he could accept. He deserved no better.


A bizarre paper shape slipped out of a hole burned in his robes and inflated into a geomteric silhouette with comical eyes. They looked at him with sadness, as if to say that it was not his time. Then the paper figure turned and expanded, and the fire struck it without mercy. In the same instant it was born, it had died. And it had died a better death than most men D'hein knew.


In that moment, D'hein knew he would remember that little paper box-baloon thing with the eyes for the rest of his life.


Incensed, D'aijeen almost failed to notice K'airos fall. She saw another one of the Lalafel's constructs moving towards her, opening its mocking maw to steal her away. D'aijeen could almost feel the curse holding her sister's legs together. With a wordless hiss, D'aijeen, swung the wand and the skulls that hung from it, muttering words she'd heard her own mother say once and reinforcing them with the conjury of the Shroud, ripping the binding's from her sister's legs. The Baalzephon that had been chasing the Lalafel turned to intercept the construct that would have stolen her sister away. She was not going to let her K'airos be taken from her.


"Airos!" D'aijeen shouted, surprised at the volume of her own voice, the urgency in it. "I command you to let the Lalafel go! I comm-"


But that voice was cut off in a sudden instant as something thin snapped tight across her neck, pulling her backwards and up. She felt her skin giving way, something inside of her throat crumbling.


Now that the elezen felt tugging weight at the apex of her wire, there was a part of her that couldn't help but feel that it had been too long since she'd snuffed the life of someone that needed to be extinguished. The world would be a better place without this girl who summoned demons and tried to kill her own mother. The irony was lost on her. And while the feeling was satisfying, it wasn't personal the way that it would have been D'hein. If only he'd been demon summoner instead of his so-called daughter.


She tightened the wire, drawing the girl up to her toes. As tiny as she was, it wasn't hard.


The maw heading towards K'airos found something better to chomp on: the Baalzephon in its way. It tilted its whole body to bite it sideways, then changed colors and imploded with it.


K'airos obeyed her sister and stopped chasing the lalafel. She fell to her kness and curled down, hiding her head between her arms. She grasped forcefully at her own ears, trying to quench all sounds. "Stop! Stop! Stop!" she repeated a few times loudly. "Don't...don't hurt anyone!"


Ulanan jumped inside the big maw, falling into a sitting position next to Antimony. She prepared a quick, weak healing spell at her. The maw continued to float away. Antimony would remain still in the maw, visibly unresponsive to Ulanan's healing, though it bought her a brief extension of time before permanent death neurologically.


D'aijeen hung like an executed prisoner. She wasn't sure from what. The line that had snared her cut up behind her jaw, destroying her thoat. Her sense were all blood and a steely, cold taste that spread from her extremities to the rest of her body. The shadow and discoloration that had wrapped her ran from her body as though melting away, leaving her clean, except for the blood. Everything turned from black to red in a moment, and her blue eyes dimmed.


She stared forward. She looked for K'airos. But she could barely lift her eyes. Just her eyes were so heavy. And getting heavier. Everything was heavy. She couldn't move. She choked and shivered and hung on the line, looking for K'airos and seeing only dirt. And then she stopped shivering, and she stopped looking.


Ulanan held the book above Antimony's head. The curative aether gathered in its pages, flowing across and out of them towards the dying woman in a steady stream.


Illira let young girl's weight hang from the thin, sturdy wire. Heavy breaths found their way into her chest as she looked at the other daughter kneeling on the ground traumatized. 


She stood there like that for a couple of minutes. Anyone watching her might think that she looked relunctant to put the Miqo'te down. Maybe she was, she didn't really know how felt now that it was done. Satisfaction, she decided. She'd done her job. 


The tall woman slowly lowered her hands, and D'aijeen with them, laying the brightly dressed girl on the ground, unlooping her garrote from around the too-thin neck.


D'hein stood transfixed on the site, his tail swinging back and forth behind him. For once, both of his eyes stood in concert, out to either side of his head in bemusement. He lingered as long as Illira did, and when the Elezen woman lay his bloodied daughter's body in the dirt, D'hein dropped his scepter in the dirt and turned away. He took crooked steps without destination. Just walking away.

Link to comment

A tall red figure stepped out from the town's cave-like front entrance. Not stopping to take in the dark scenery, Cypress strode in, pace the same as it had always been. Hurry did not exist for her. Althyk ensured that she would arrive exactly when she meant to.


The bright big blue maw that held Ulanan and Antimony opened. It started to shrink, most of its mass becoming a tongue that emerged from below them and rolled them out with strange precision, barely disturbing them. It deposited them on the ground in front of it. When it was done, it was smaller than its original size and was missing an eye. It floated around them in circles.


The stream of aether Ulanan was casting waned for a moment before regaining its strength. "I need help! Over here!" she shouted out. Antimony didn't notice the strange tongue deposit them. She didn't notice anything. Ulanan's rudimentary healing magic kept neurons firing, but the skin around her lips and extremities had grown a cyanotic blue.


Cypress took in the frozen baalzephons and the body that lay on the ground at the foot of an elezen. So she walked to the voice that cried out for help. She would take care of the voidsent in a moment. It would seem that she was meant to help this woman if she could.


Stumbling his way to the fountain in the middle of town, somehow failing to sense anything else around him, D'hein paused. He leaned heavily on the edge of the fountain, and then he sat down on it, with his hands joined in his lap, leaning forward and staring at the ground.


Approaching the woman that had named her a monster, Cypress kneeled down next to her and the tiny woman. "What is the matter with her?" Even as she asked that though, she laid a large hand on the woman's chest, feeling for the spark of a soul buried deep within.


"I don't know. She was enveloped in some kind of blanket spell!" Ulanan explained rather fast. The stream of magic ceased completely, making her close the book and prepare another incantation.


In the moments after Ulanan's first spell broke, Antimony faded fast. When Cypress sought out that soul, she would find only tenuous, wispy connections, teetering on the edge of falling away completely.


The roegadyn nodded, not actually listening even though she'd asked the question. It was enough, what she felt inside the woman. She hadn't crossed to the void yet. Cypress breathed inward, pulling on her aether as she leaned forward. With her free hand, she pried the woman's jaw open, dipping her head downward to cover open lips with her own. Expelling her own wind-ridden aether into the woman's body through her breath.


Breath filled smothered lungs just as aether rushed into her body, spreading along oxygen-starved vessels and racing across flickering nerves. The breath brought a living energy to Antimony's body that had been so easily wrung from it, and her body drank it in with a metaphysical desperation. Her chest rose with the breath and then fell.


Illira finally looked up from the body, having stood in a strange sort of vigil over it for a few minutes. She saw people hovering over Antimony. D'hein was off on his own though, wallowing at the town fountain, entranced by the ground next to it. She sighed, stepping over D'aijeen and walking towards the girl's adoptive father.


Coming in front of him, she turned her head downward to see him better. The bloody wire still hung from where it was wrapped around her right hand. "Its done."


Ulanan stopped her incantation, though it remained over the book in the shape of a glowing orb. She let the Roegadyn do her healing.


D'hein Tia lifted his gaze to stare at the wire in the woman's hand. His eyes followed a drop of blood running along it. "Yes. I have nothing left in this world to care about at all. That's fine. It was necessary. Thank you."


Illira answered him coldly, "You'll find other things to care about. And keep hope they won't turn out like her."


Feeling the breath return to the Miqo'te and her soul re-anchoring itself, Cypress stood up, stepping back. "I should take care of those voidsent now."


The lalafell nodded and pointed her book towards Antimony, the open pages facing her. The spell released, washing over the woman's body to help her wake up.


"That is shockingly warm, coming from the woman who would see me dead." D'hein raised his gaze to Illira.


Several seconds passed before Antimony's body seemed to recall its function, Cypress's influx of aether surging through her heart and sparking beats that had previously stilled. When Ulanan's spell washed over her, her chest rose and fell with a second breath, and then a third. Her eyes shifted behind closed lids, then fluttered open, at first unfocused and confused.


Ulanan let out a sigh of relief. "You are alive!" she cheered. She dropped her hands, suddenly quiet. She casted a glance towards D'aijeen's corpse, and then to K'airos, who was still curled down in the middle of the street.


Cypress didn't actually turn to the baalzephons though. Instead, she walked to body that lay not far away, finally reaching the end of the trail that she had followed for so long.


"Yes, well don't get used to it," replied Illira. Realizing that the wire was still in her hand she stepped around D'hein to rinse it in the fountain. "You'll remember that family is important to me. And I understand it is to others as well."


D'hein smiled up at Illira as though she were bathing him in lavish praise. "Important. Yes. It is... of singular importance. To so many. Unparalleled."


The corpse beneath the Roegadyn was thin and immobile, face clean but neck and chest stained deeply with blood. Blue eyes lay open and thoughtless, staring. It was the corpse of a child dressed like a woman, painted the colors of the executed.


With impossible suddenness, D'aijeen snapped upright, back, like her corpse had been knocked into the air or pulled by some distant chord. Her feet stumbled as she tried to get up, and her head rolled about on the end of her neck, showing off the massive wound beneath her chin. Her voice, however, burst from her body. "Why are you familiar? I know you! I know you!" The voice had an echo to it, as though it were coming from a great ways off.


When her head fell forward, her face coming to bear, the shell of green energy lay over it. The shell conformed to her features, floating just in front of them, with an imitation of chin and lips and nose and brow. There were eyes holes, but through them was just black. It was as though D'aijeen's face had been erased behind the mask. "I know you from fire. Fire. You made me sick. You left me sick after the fire. I remember!"


Ulanan cringed at the suddenly speaking and moving body, springing up to her feet with the book open and in front of her. Her expression reflected how disturbing she found that. Even more than the Baalzephons.


Antimony shifted weakly on the ground. She thought she'd heard something familiar, but thought still took incredible effort as her body worked to recover. Instead her head lolled towards Ulanan and she watched the lalafel's expression with a confused one of her own.


It wasn't a surprise to see the body string itself back up, there was nothing the voidsent wouldn't do to scrape their way back and keep their hold in this world. Cypress let her aether sink down into her hands, creating fiery fissure in her skin as it traveled. Reminiscent of where she had come from. A laugh almost tugged at lips, "You broke my gate, voidsent. So I've had to bring the fiery pits to you."


"What are you... Who..." D'aijeen hands went to her throat, and her body sagged, knees buckling, as she took on her own weight again. She groped hideously at her own wound. Then seemed to accept it, and her bloody hands feel limp at her sides once more. "How do I know you? Tell me who you are!"


Ulanan reached with one hand to her white hat, taking it off and shaking it upwards. The magical yellow envelope hidden within flew upwards and in front of her, unfolding until it had taken the shape of her other constructs .


"You and K'airos need to leave." she said, pointing one finger to the paper golem. Aether sparked out of her into its side, and the maw inflated and moved, placing itself between Antimony and D'aijeen.


The more the voice spoke, the more familiar it became. She'd heard it right before the shadows had come rushing in from every direction, crushing the breath from her body. She recalled the way her lungs had burned and how everything had flickered, slowed, faded. "Aijeen," she breathed, voice shaking, her ears and tail limp against the ground beneath her. She recalled the last words she'd heard from her daughter, and they made her wish for her heart to stop again. One hand struggled weakly against the ground to push her upper body up.


Hands caught aflame as the roegadyn roared, "I am your keeper. You cannot hide behind the body of a little girl. I'll burn your body just as I threw my grandfather in the pit."


"NO!" D'aijeen grabbed her head, felt her fingers lay against the green-glowing mask, and then pulled them away as though burned. She backpedaled raggedly, desperately. Though she spook in an ephemeral voice, her tone was ragged and desperate. "No. No. Why do I feel afraid? I'm not afraid. I'm never afraid. Fear is what other... I'm not... Why are..." Shadows moved in her wake as her desperation increased.


D'hein stood slowly from where he'd been sitting, watching.


"I'm afraid. I'm afraid." D'aijeen spoke quickly, her words cutting in to one another. "Why is she lying? He face. I remember. But I can't. I'm afraid... Airos. Mom... Airos!"


K'airos did not want to hear. Some sound reached her, but all she did was yell as loud as she could, burying her head as far as she could between her arms. "Stop! Stop! Stop..." Her voice ran out of air, and was left breathing unsteadily where she was.


Ulanan helped Antimony rise up how she could. Being small, that basically meant pulling her clothes and then letting the big woman hold herself up. "Go to K'airos and leave!" she urged her.


Her limbs felt impossibly weak, sapped of strength from both her brush with death and the sick realization that had fallen over her. "Aijeen.. she..." Antimony's head dropped forward as she struggled to stand. That voice called out again, desperate, in need, and Antimony feared it. She feared her daughter. Her hands moved to her face as she staggered upright, feeling as though she might topple over again any minute. Ulanan was a small presence next to her, and though she heard the lalafell's pleas for her to leave, she couldn't seem to get her limbs to move to obey.


Cypress followed D'aijeen in her desperate backwards steps, reaching her burning hand out hand out to the girl. The flames that licked from the hand came from the molten cracks that had formed on the Roegadyn's skin, fueled by her aether and memories of her post. "You're scared? No more than the fear you've created yourself."


"Deception! I've never seen you before!" D'aijeen pitched her hands up as she stumbled backwards, her skulls clattering between her fingers, and the air thickened in front of her. Simple conjury. "Airos! Where are you? Airos!"


The girl lifted her head, hands still clenched against her ears. She saw her sister without the hideous shadows that had covered her before. She released her grip and, for a moment, thought D'aijeen had come back to her senses.


Then she noticed the blood and the wound on her throat. All she could do in response to that sight was scream and bend over to the ground again


Ulanan headed to the side of the Roegadyn walking briskly past her giant pet, book open in front of her.


Antimony turned her head to follow Ulanan's movements but did nothing but sway slightly on her feet, a faintness still laying over her thoughts. She could hear Aijeen's voice, hear the fear in it, and she wanted to look for her, to calm those fears as best she could. But the feeling of the life choking out of her, in complete, liquid blackness, of her mouth and nose filled with cold dark and her ears echoing with her daughter's words - these things kept her in place. They kept her from seeking out D'aijeen, despite recognizing that something was wrong.


"You do not remember the gate that you crawled from? The trail you've left bears remants. Scant. But there. Underneath all the death and fear and emptiness." The air was thick as Cypress stepped closer, drawing smoke from the flames into a light fog.


Illira touched D'hein's shoulder, "If there is nothing we can do here, we should leave as Antimony's pet suggested."


"I don't know... why... An old man's hollow corpse, burned in fire. Pathetic man. Why...?" The closer the Roegadyn came, the faster D'aieen retreated, until her feet were on the steps of the inn once more. Her shoes, having trailed through her own blood, left dark footprints.


D'hein shifted and glared up at Illira. "Ulanan is trying to protect you. Use her name with respect."


The lalafel stopped next to Cypress with a little hop. There was a purple triangle of light hovering and snapping with aether over the pages of her tome. Her free hand was over it, fingers spread as much as they could. "Can we get the voidsent out of her body?" she asked, eyes anchored on her incantation.


Cypress only bares the lalafel the briefest of glances, a look of near incredulity before facing the voidsent again, "An old man? Was that who you were before? Found your way into your one?"


The elezen snorted, "I don't owe her anything, but I will admit, voidsent are not my specialty."


"I guess that's a 'no'." Ulanan grumbled under her breath.


"Shut up! Liar. Liars. Telling lies about me! There's nothing inside of me don't do that. Don't do that!" She missed a step and fell backwards, landing crookedly on the stairs of the inn. For a moment, she lay there and tried to breathe, making a strange sound with her clogged windpipes. Her chest shook. And then she screamed, the sound louder and stronger than anything she could have managed with her own chest, but still undeniably her voice.


Antimony cringed at the shriek, ducking her head, her knees nearly buckling and taking her back to the ground. It was a sound no mother would ever wish to hear, even after what her daughter had done. On instinct she spun weakly towards it, opened her mouth to call for her daughter but found herself too breathless with fear to form words. Instead she staggered around Ulanan's golem until the felled form of D'aijeen was in view. A roegadyn woman painted in the colors of fire stood above her, Ulanan nearby. She lifted one hand in silent protest.


"Whatever you are going to do, do it quickly." the lalafel said in a grumpy voice to the other woman. "There's no need to prolong this."


Her golem seemed to remember what it was inflated for and moved in front of Antimony, blocking her view and offering the saddest face a creature made of paper could offer.


"Don't hurt her!" K'airos shouted, half crawling towards the inn before raising and turning it into a full sprint.


D'hein pulled himself up to his feet and ran out to intercept K'airos. "Stop, K'airos! Don't get in the way!"


The roegadyn closes the last few steps between her and the wretched creature that was slumped over the inn steps, placing her hands on the sternum. No heartbeat and naught but a scrambling that was being forced through the lungs. Even as the overwraught red dress caught flame though, Cypress could feel the hum of the passenger within. It was disconcertingly familiar though. She had felt this footprint before as she had dragged the wasted remains of her screaming grandfather into the pit. "You." She hissed, voice cracking, "You descrated my forebear."


K'airos was blocked by succesfully by D'hein, being too distracted to notice his approach. "She can't defend herself! She's not a danger anymore!" she protested.


Antimony stared back at the sad, blue face for several seconds, not entirely sure what she was looking at. Then she let out a faint, "No, please," and tried to move around the golem again. She smelled ash, a strange, unexpected scent, and her daughter's fear mingled with something dark and oily.


The mask and its black eyeholes snapped up to the Roegadyn, her hands lifting, skulls dangling between her fingers. The smell and heat of fire rose around her, and she hung immobile much like she had hung from the Elezen's garrote. She hung as though in the moment of death, frozen in it, trapped in it. Her voice began silently. "I don't... want... to burn again. You can't."


Magic burst from her hands, cold, washing over her body and the fires lit upon it, chilling her skin. The weak girl writhed in the massive woman's hands, kicking and struggling, trying desperately to get away. "You won't burn me! You won't burn me! Airos! Help me!" She was screaming frantically, her movements chaotic, the mask floating near her face flashing with green light. "Airos! Mom! Help me! Help me!"


"Aijeen!" Antimony finally found her voice, shrill and thin as it was, a desperate cry.


Cypress fanned the flames with her aetheric reserves, sending the flames cascading upwards around her, burning her own clothes just as she sought to override the summoned chilly winter, "You are no one's daughter!"


Finally stirred to movement by the mother's cry, Illira crossed the courtyard towards Antimony, grasping her shoulders. "She is dead. I killed her, Antimony."


Ulanan grimaced. She released the spell prepared over her tome, the triangle vanishing as the aether moved to take hold of D'aijeen's limb to immobilize her.


D'aijeen continued to try and summon magic to counteract the fire, but the fire overwhelmed it, and Ulanan's spell made the fetish in her hand drop to the ground. Her limbs were fixed in place, and though she still writhed, it was a tired and weak motion. "Stop it! I don't want to die! I want to go home! I want to back to the desert! Someone help me!"


Antimony sagged against Illira's hands, eyes widening as her whole body shuddered. She leaned forward, tried to push past the elezen. "No--" Her voice broke, and her daughter's cries dragged on her body like a physical weight. "No, Aijeen! Aijeen, I forgive you, come back!"


Ulanan moved away from the inn, facing the golem that was blocking Antimony's view. "It's not your daughter! It's a voidsent using her body!" As soon as she was done shouting, she felt she was being incredibly and unnecessarily mean, if perhaps accurate.


K'airos let all her strength leave her, collapsing against D'hein and staying crouched on the ground, crying.


D'hein crouched with K'airos. "It's okay. Don't look. You don't need to listen." He put his hands over her ears.


Illira had to practically take on Antimony's weight in her hysteria and desire to reach what was left of her daughter, "Think of it simply as a death throe."


Although the well of aether within Cypress was deep she had let a considerable amount burn off into the atmosphere stoking the flames as a blacksmith would in his smithy. Not normally a showy person, the Roegadyn was angry, letting that energy channel through the molten embers of her skin. She dug down now though, forcibly channeling it into the body below her. Willing the part of her that was very much a part of her volcanic post to take back the unruly ward.


The fire burned into D'aijeen's body vividly, gruesomly. It burned a hole into her chest and traced lines along her ribs, making her thin form glow internally, making her body arch. Where she had been writhing like a desperate woman a moment earlier, noe she writhed like an insect, limbs mad and thoughtless even to the point of damaging themselves. She slammed her arms numbly against the Roegadyn's limb and body, heedless of the fire, kicking her legs behind and beside and in front of her. Behind her, her tail writhed like a worm lifted from the ground.


"Help me! Airos! Mom! Dad! Airi!" Her hair caught fire, her eyelashes burning visibly behind the mask. "Help me! Help! Help!"


As her mouth hung open to scream, her words were interrupted by a vomiting of bones and darkness. It began at her mouth, then seemed to tear open her jaw, her neck opening, her collar bursting open, her ribs cracking and her belly splitting. Shadow and bone poured out. Not her own. With the sound of a shout of fear and fury, translucent shadow and expansive gore exuded from D'aijeen's body, crashing against the Roegadyn.


Antimony shrieked against her daughter's cries and shoved violently against Illira. "Don't hurt her! Don't hurt her!!"


K'airos placed her hands over D'hein's and pushed them as strongly as she could against her ears. 


The lalafel turned around at the scream. The gruesome display made her raise one hand to hide her face and stand there, paralyzed and horrified.


The red figure, much of her clothing burned away to within an inch of usefulness, was tossed from D'aijeen like a ragdoll despite her considerable size. An ocean tide of darkness it was, a powerful wave crashing into its unprepared victim. Thrown against a column a few feet away, the thing cracked though it somehow stood still, a chunk of it knocked out as it did the same to Cypress; her head having smashed up against it.

Link to comment

D'aijeen collapsed on the ground, the shadow that poured out of her crashing down in front of her, having taken form. Fetid innards glistened inside its ehpemeral body. It clawed at the ground with the ribs that had been harvested to shape its toes. The overburdened drake spine that gave its back its crooked curve clacked and shifted, pulled along by the best. It opened its mouth, needlee teeth craft from the beaks of vulture skulls embeeded in its maw.


It turned its head towards the fallen Roegadyn, the vulture skulls floating inside the sleek shape of its head turning to regard her. Then it looked at Ulanan. The skulls of the scavengers shifted, and took two steps forward, and lifted its head like a dog sniffing the air.


Behind it, D'aijeen lifted herself and gagged. The mask on her own face rose to look at the beast that had ripped out of her body.


Still prey of horror, Ulanan wrenched her book towards her side, aether forming above it. She pointed with the other hand at the monster, and the golem warding Antimony floated straight in its direction, maw open and clearly wanting to bite.


Illira heard the foul noises behind her and looked over her shoulder, eyes widening, as she tried to wrestle Antimony's face into her shoulder so that she couldn't continue to stare at what was happening.


The older miqo'te continued to struggle against Illira's grip, but they were useless in their weakness. She screamed for her daughter though, over and over.


"I don't want this to happen." D'aijeens voice seeped from the green mask before her features. She pushed herself upright. Darkness stained her face and chin, chest and stomach, where the monster had ripped out of her. But the darkness sunk into her form, and left no wound behind. Her dress was ripped and burned, her skin burned and mutilated beneath. Her neck hung open with that same hideous wound.


She pushed herself up, looking weak. But she'd always been weak. The fetish of rodent bones hung from her fingers once more as she stared at the monster. "I don't want this to be happening. I don't want any of this to happen. I don't want you. I don't want you!" She swung the bones in front of her, and the earth beneath her feet began to move in response, rushing up against the monster.


Sensing an oncoming attack, the skulls of the scavangers spun once, and D'aijeen fell back against the steps like animal bones dropped from a shaman's hands; eyes that knew the secret ways might be able to tell the future from how she fell.


The ephemeral canine turned in a flash away from D'aijeen, snapped its maw at Ulanan, and turned towards the Lalafel's construct as it came near. It pounced at it, bringing its teeth and claws to content with the paper.


Looking over his shoulder, D'hein stared at the monster wide-eyed. "... An animal attack. She did kill D'ahl."


The pet rushed to it with its own maw open and wailed silently when they met, the claws tearing and sinking into its structure, deforming its shape and bringing it down to the ground. The torn borders turned orange first, and soon the whole golem changed to that color.


A purple mist materialized and vanished at the same time the creatures hit each other. The aether contained sought to settle on the bones of the voidsent and corrode them. Another cloud, green this time, followed with the same purpose. Ulanan moved her tome high up as soon as she was done casting those, preparing for another.


Illira knew she wasn't enough of a swordsman to take on the voidsent beast that stared the lalafel down. Antimony had been a shaman though, at least that was what a background check on the woman had turned up, and what her brief encounter with a couple of her tribesfolk had told her. 


So she shook the miqo'te's shoulders, in hopes of cutting through the hysteria. "Can you do anything here? Or will you continue down this hole your digging?"


"Aijeen!" Antimony cried out, not immediately processing Illira's words. Tears dragged wet lines down her cheeks, settled and spread into the creases of her skin around her eyes, her mouth, dripping into the collar of her robe. She hung in Illira's grip, sobbing, and then made to lunge to the side, to attempt to make it to her daughter's side once more.


She froze in Illira's grip, however, when her actions brought the skeletal beast into view. Familiar. The color drained from her face. Her ears shook, and she let out a whimper with her daughter's name again. And then came the anger. "DEMON!" She shrieked at the thing. "Demon, I'll banish--I'll banish you! You'll not shadow my family again!"


Illira pushed Antimony aside and towards the beast, "Then -do it-. Clean up your daughter's mess."


The skulls of the scavengers destroyed the construct beneath it, and pitched upright, throwing its head into the air as though to howl. It made no sound except for the clattering of its bones. The ribs that composed its claws began to decompose. The beaks that made up its teeth discolored. It showed no notice. It was distracted by Antimony for an instant, turning and making an expression as though to snarl. The vulture skulls inside its head just stared, blank.


Then it turned and rushed Ulanan, ready to rip her apart.


D'aijeen pushed herself to her feet once more, glaring first at the monster, and then the fallen Roegadyn. She shivered, though, and turned away. She couldn't run, too exhausted, but she staggered down the steps and turned towards the sea.


Ulanan concentrated her spell over her book, not releasing it. When the creature was only a meter away from her, ready to destroy her, her last envelope vanished from her pocket. A barrier materialized in front of her, looking like a tall wall made of paper bricks. The force of the impact broke it just like a real one, making the structure bend and half of the bricks on top of it fall. Though instead of hitting the ground with the full strength of gravity, they gently floated in all directions. 


She released the accumulated aether then, all around her, spreading it to the wall. Circular, bulky eyes and a smile formed in each of them and, in the next instant, they flew out to hit the monster as if catapulted.



Antimony staggered forward, nearly toppling to the ground from Illira's shove. She simultaneously cowered and glared with wide, green eyes at the demon, and then cringed back when Ulanan's attack struck it.


The shadowy canid stopped short in its tracks as it found itself assailed, snapping at the various things that struck it. Still, it made no sound. Brittle bones cracked inside its body, but hung in place unnaturally. As though the bones were conforming to the shape of the monster instead of the other way around. The canid thrust its head upward and snapped at the air, then dropped down again and shook and spun and bit. Finally, it jumped to the side, not freeing itself from the attack but giving itself slightly more room. From this new angle, it rushed Ulanan again, not significantly damaged.


Illira drew her short sword and dirk, knowing that her preferred weapon would be useless here. And though she was far too rusty, she didn't trust those that were conscious to hold out. D'hein and K'airos were dumbstruck, and Antimony wasn't much better even after the burst of energy. The lalafell was likely running on her last legs... and her legs were short. So the Elezen strode towards the short woman and the beast, past Antimony.


Bowing over herself, clutching with both hands to her chest, Antimony whimpered a string of desperate prayers, words with a rhythm and meaning far more ancient than the stone beneath their feet.


Ulanan used the beast's brief moment of confusion to put more space between it and her. "D'hein! Ice! I need time to summon something bigger!" she yelled while running away and plucking pages out of her book, throwing them into the air like a chicken losing feathers rabidly. 


Her paper bricks kept following the creature and flinging themselves at it. Those that failed to hit it made a circle, floated and then flinged themselves again until they did.


D'hein pet K'airos's head. "Stay here. Stay down, please." He rose and took his scepter in hand again, putting a couple of yalms between himself and his daughter's sister. He spread his stance, giving a tired gaze to the monster, as though he were looking at something he knew to be a dream. He began to conjure a spell, feeling slow and outclassed.


The monster continued to follow Ulanan, only momentarily slowed. It gained momentum, found it in itself to ignore the distracting bricks.


Seeing the monster chasing the Lalafell, D'hein unleashed what of his spell he had conjured, casting for once in silence. The bolt of ice stuck the beast's feet and slowed one of its legs. Most of the delay this provided was thanks to the creature's confusion. The spell cast, D'hein lazily and belatedly muttered "Ice spell" as he began to conjure another.


Picking up a run, Illira dashed towards the leg that D'hein had iced, slicing at the back of the near the hollow of the knee before moving back out, dragging her longer blade against the ribcage as she moved towards behind it.


This distract the monster far more, as it immediately jumped away from Illira. Bricks slammed into its body the whole way, but it focused on her, turning back and pouncing at her like a great wolf threatened, going for her long neck.


D'aijeen reached the pier where the boats to and from Limsa Lominsa would dock several times a day. Now it was empty. Vesper Bay was not a fishing town. There were no small boats currently docks. The pier was empty. D'aijeen stood on the edge and stared down at the water. Black and deep.


K'airos did not stay down, nor there were she was. She rose up and walked, staring at the creature, recognizing it. She had trouble breathing, but still she shouted angrily. "I need a weapon!" She wasn't sure who she was yelling at, or what she expected. She looked around in a state of frenzy.


The lalafel noticed the beast change of focus and turned around. "Illira! Watch out!" she warned loudly, still throwing pages up into the air. They and those that she had thrown before started to move as if pushed by the wind, slamming into each other on the ground, an aura of aether slowly building up on them.


It really had been too long since Illira had done such things as she was tonight. Already breathing hard, the middle aged elezen was knocked down as the beast pounced on her, she'd brought her short sword up though, aiming for its the gap between its wolf-like bone jaws. She tried to pull her head to the side away from the snapping teeth as its paw pinned her down.


D'hein glanced behind him. "K'airos, no! Grab your mother and get her away!"


The beast opened its mouth to bite at Illira's head. When the sword stabbed into its mouth, it showed no concern, letting the blade pierce its body. It bit down on her arm instead of her head, though, the beaks that were its teeth stabbing into her flesh. The tip of Illira's sword stabbed into the monsters head, pressing against the skulls behind the canid's immaterial face. The skulls of the scavengers did not react.


The sharp teeth bore down into her thin arm, causing her to yell out with the edge of pain on her voice, "Just finish it. I won't be bait for long!" Her fingers were forced to drop the hilt of the short sword, leaving it hanging from the beast's head as she tried to drive her dirk into one of its eyes.


Ulanan's crazy flinging of papers into the air ceased. Her book had only one empty page left. She cringed at it with one hand over it, gathering into it all the aether that was left on her. Then she tore it and threw it up. The mass of papers that had been piling up in the street reacted to this, lifting themselves high up and quickly taking the shape of a sphere. It inflated, its surface solidifying and cracking, the empty spaces between the sheets shining with a white light. The last of Ulanan's pages disappeared between the cracks and then the paper meteor came crashing down towards the bone beast.


The beast saw the light and flinched away from it, like a shadow being pushed away by the cresting of dawn. It dragged Illira by her arm several paces, and then released her to try and evade the meteor. D'hein launched his second ice spell then, this one fully formed, catching the monster across all of its legs and stunning it for the briefest moment.


The meteor struck the monster sideways, having arced over Illira to get to it. The thing was knocked back, hard, at first born by the meteor itself and then further from the concussive force of its detonation. As it careened it seemed thinner, almost immaterial, the bones of its body tumbling end over end and only loosely held together.


It landed on the pier, immediately behind D'aijeen, and she turned to look at. The monster didn't lay still for long before it began to reshape. D'aijeen flinched at it, stepped back, almost off the pier. She looked back at the water, cold and dark as a sea of ink beneath her. A sea of shadow. "I don't want you." She looked back at the monster, the thing rising. The canid form turned towards her moving its head. "I don't want you! I wish I'd never made you!"


Shadows churned beneath her, suddenly dark, suddenly thick, and suddenly powerful. They grew and fell, stretching out beneath the pier. And then they broke it. The pier collapsed under the weight of the monster, all of its braces and pillars snapping into splinters. The monster fell into the water, and D'aijeen fell with it. Shadows rose around them as though the sea were lifting itself to catch them. But the shadows lay over D'aijeen and the monster and pulled them down beneath the surface of the water.


Cypress's hand twitched, fine etchings where the magical fire took to her skinshowed through as if she were the burnt wood that she had been named after. It was faint, just below the surface, but ready to be reignited in any given moment. 


Her eyes shot open, seeing only the sandy flagstones, she quickly tried to shove herself upwards with a grunt. Sitting up against the cracked pillar as she scanned the area. Nothing of interest, except for the same scattered people that had been there earlier. Except D'aijeen. 


A roar of a splash brought her head whipping around as she scrambled to her feet, dizzy with the sudden movement. "Where is she?" The woman yelled out, desperation and angry making her cracked voice worse than it normally was.


Illira's dirk fell to the ground as she clutched at her torn arm. She pulled herself upright into a sitting position, hissing at the movement. It felt like her arm was broken. Or perhaps just dislocated. It was impossible to tell in that moment.


K'airos stood still and silent, paralyzed again as she watched her sister, sink with the pier and the beast.


Ulanan dropped to the ground into a sitting position. She was too exhausted to answer the Roegadyn, so instead she just pointed towards there.


The crashing of wood and water tore Antimony's head up from her cowed position. Her eyes caught the dwindling waves, splinters, and inky shadow, and she didn't have to see D'aijeen to know where her daughter had gone. She cried out brokenly and bolted for the ruined pier.


D'hein lingered in a stupor for a moment, idling on the verge of casting another spell even several seconds after the monster and the woman fell into the water. Then he shook himself free. "Antimony!" He ran forward, trying to catch up to the woman before she got too far away. He was far less desperate in his charge than she was, however.


Shaking the fuzziness off, Cypress ran towards pier as well, though not alongside the others, stopping at the steps, only to see nothing there, but a too-short dock and the last of the darkness vanishing below the waves. She stood there for a moment, watching for any other movement before letting out a howl. One that could have rivaled any Coerthas dragon in its ferocity. It was a marvel that she didn't spit fire as they did.


"Mom!" K'airos snapped out of her own and ran towards her mother to stop her, fearing the beast would come back at any moment.


Ignoring both D'hein and K'airos, perhaps not even hearing them, Antimony flung herself to her hands and knees as far as she could go along the shattered remains of the pier. She stared down into the churning, black water and then let out a choked sob.


When Antimony didn't immediately throw herself to the ocean in despair, D'hein slowed his run to a trot and came alongside her, standing with the others and staring down into the water. He searched, seeing nothing but darkness and some floating wood debris. Then he turned towards the Roegadyn. "What are you angry about? She's dead. That's what you wanted."


K'airos shook at that, not understanding it. She didn' think about it either. She took her mother's shoulders and tried to pull her away. "Mom...it's..." Her words died in her mouth, and she just crumbled, kneeling and hugging her.


Cypress gave D'hein a sidelong look, the etchings in her arm pulsing with a deep orange color. "Her body is dead. But it was before too. A little water won't keep voidsent down. There is method to what I do."


Antimony did not turn from the slowly settling water, but she did shift her arms to clutch at K'airos. Tears shook her body, and her grey tail curled against her remaining daughter's side.


Letting a hand rest on Antimony's shoulder, D'hein snapped at Cypress. "My daughter is not a Voidsent! She didn't get possessed between today and yesterday. Or today and last year for that matter! And she certainly wasn't dead."


Illira pulled herself up from the ground after shoving her dirk into its sheath, making her way to the others as her arm hung bleeding and limp by her side, "She is dead, D'hein, I can attest to that much."


Snapping at the man, Cypress's normally patient demeanor gone, "That was the entity I found occupying my grandfather's body all those years ago. I am its keeper. I am sorry for your loss, but my hunt is not finished."


K'airos cried on her mother's shoulder. "She created it in the Sagolii." she barely managed to explain between the tears. "Maybe...maybe she died when she left to the desert... and..."


Her cry was more forceful, breaking her words and not letting her speak. But at least she had found something to excuse her sister's actions: it had never been her sister.


"You," Antimony's voice choked out, and she bent forward until her head nearly hung past the edge of the splintered pier. Her ears buried themselves in her hair, shoulders trembling. "You will not... desecrate her body... any further. You've already--already denied her... the sands."


D'hein's ears fell flat on his head, both of them. He scowled. "I want you to tell me about this entity."


"I threw it back in the pit. I do not know how it got out the first time, for it was when I trekked up to ensure my grandfather's safety was when I found it. Though his body was too sick and weak for it to do much." She paused, thinking, "It remembered and spoke of pieces to me. Though it puzzled over the memories."


Tiny footsteps reached the group and stopped some distance away. Ulanan looked very tired, and was not holding any book. She kept quiet.


K'airos tried to make Antimony stand up. "I don't want to be here."


With no strength in her limbs to resist, Antimony bowed to her daughter's urging. When she stood next to K'airos, she felt as thin as parchment, as ephemeral as the dunes of the Sagolii. She held her daughter weakly to her and could not stop her tears.


D'hein shirked his robe from both shoulders, leaving himself standing in a thin shirt and extraordinarily tight white pants, like the kind D'aijeen used to wear. He turned to Illira with his robe in hand like a rag, gesturing. "Wrap this around your arm, and then I want you to go with Antimony and K'airos back to Horizon. See a healer there."


The elezen's jaw tightened, but she took the offered material anyway, pressing it to her arm since she couldn't wrap it one handed. She turned away from D'hein, not offering a thank you, but perhaps the absence of snide remarks was as much thanks as she was willing to offer. Stepping down towards the mother and daughter she said, "We should leave now."


K'airos didn't even nod, but she did move away from the pier, holding Antimony's hand with her own. Antimony walked with her daughter in silence, head bowed.


The lalafel walked past them and stood between D'hein and Burned Cypress. She crossed her tiny arms over her chest and waited.


The hellsgaurd looked down at the small woman, "Did require something?"


"You seem to know what was going on." was the lalafell's blunt answer. "So what was all this?"


"I do not have the answers to everything. But it was not simply a girl who lost control of something that was too much for her to contain. She had a voidsent within her, beyond that... I do not yet."


"Well what are you going to do about it?" D'hein stood with arms and tail limp, turning his gaze back to the water.


"I don't think there's much to do at all." the lalafel said, taking a short glance over the edge.


"I will find it again. I only need time once more."


D'hein took a very deliberate step back. "Then perhaps we should return to Horizon as well."


Ulanan nodded, turning  with D'hein and heading towards the entrance of the Bay.


"Perhaps you should." With that Cypress walked down the the pier, significantly calmer than she was when she first came back from forced oblivion.


D'hein stopped when he realized that the woman didn't intend to come with them, eying her. Then he looked down at Ulanan. "I don't like just leaving her to wander. She knows more than she says."


Ulanan, with tired expression and movements, nodded as if she had just accepted a tiresome task. "I'll stay with her." she said, not walking anymore. "You go with the others. Don't wait for me."


Cypress stood at the edge the wooden structure, looking out on the waters that D'aijeen had vanished into, looking very out of place.


"I will trust your talents and thus-far limitless altruism, then. Thank you." D'hein turned away to follow the others back to Horizon. "I would insist that I stay, if not for Illira."


"Yes." Ulanan found what she identified as a comfy wall and headed to it, keeping her head turned towards the Roegadyn. "You will do better at comforting them, and you'll need your own share, too. I'm sorry for this." she added.


When she reached the wall, she sat against it with her hands hanging to the sides lazily. She'd keep watch on that woman and hopefully not fall asleep.

Link to comment

Horizon's inn was a small one, and quiet compared to the busy traffic of the waypoint settlement. Word had not yet reached Horizon of what had occurred at Vesper Bay, and it may never as the shadows and things that moved within them had been very thorough in their sweeping of the coastal town. No one here knew of the death that had befallen an already bereaved family, and the hostess that gave them their room offered them smiles.


Antimony would have been grateful had she the energy to notice. Her mind welcomed quiet of their room as she shuffled inside, K'airos at her side. Illira had gone off to see her vicious wound tended to, which also suited Antimony who had no wish to lay eyes on the woman who had so wickedly taken her daughter. D'aijeen, who she had thought lost only to find again, only to lose her again and this time witness it. She sagged against K'airos - her only remaining daughter - and felt the tears return at the backs of her eyes. She saw the water with its slowly stilling ripples, a black, bottomless maw that had swallowed D'aijeen without hesitation. Even the comfort of sending her body to the sands had been taken from her.


She dropped to her knees in the room, one hand still on K'airos, and bowed her head in exhaustion.


K'airos had been speechless through all the journey. All she could afford to do was cry. She didn't even remember walking to Horizon. As far as she could recall, they had simply appeared there after leaving the pier. She'd likely forget about her time in the inn, if given time.


Falling to her mother's side, the young woman rested her head against Antimony's shoulder, sobbing and still speechless. She couldn't find the strength to do anything more.


Turning slightly towards K'airos, Antimony brought her arms around the young woman, who would have been a proud huntress by now had the neglect of uncaring gods not twisted their paths. She ran her fingers through K'airos's hair, pulled her close, breathed in the smell of blood, of family that still lingered after all these years.


And yet it could not dull the screaming pain in her heart.


"I will never let you go," she murmured, voice low and trembling. She should have never let K'aijeen go. She should have watched her, gone to fetch her from the racks that day, taken her back to the tent, listened and helped her. She should have... Shivering, Antimony buried her face in the top of K'airos's head.


The girl crossed her arms, placing each hand on the opposite shoulder and pressing against her chest. "It's my fault." she sobbed.  Her speech was broken by intermittent crying and lack of breath. "I should have done what she asked me to do. Then she wouldn't have...! And we could find a way to help..."


"It's not. It's not. There was nothing..." Her heart ached as she held her daughter, tried to soothe her even when she herself felt inconsolable. "You've done nothing... nothing wrong. I am sorry," her tail shifted to wrap against her daughter's side, a deeply loving and parental gesture. "I am sorry I wasn't... there."


"But it is!" K'airos cried. "If I had, she wouldn't have summoned those demons. She'd still be here! But now she's gone! Gone! Gone again!" She sunk deeper into herself, crying more than she had before as her mind continued circling around that thought.


Antimony pulled K'airos closer, until she was nearly bending over her daughter, shielding her with her very body. For a long time she could find only actions to try and comfort her daughter, and despaired at how ineffectual they were. Just as her efforts to guide K'aijeen had proven ineffectual. She had always been an ineffective mother.


Swallowing through the silence, Antimony pet the red hair beneath her face, between ears that seemed to want to hide from the world. Her own tears dampened the fur there. "It would have only delayed this," she murmured, voice choking as the muscles in her jaw and throat clenched around the words, as though her body wanted to physically reject them. And yet a part of her knew them to be true. "Anything you could have done... I'm sorry, Airos. I'm so sorry."


K'airos nodded briefly. It wasn't an acknowledgment of her mother's words. Rather, it was her own answer to her own silent thinking. "I don't want to stay in Thanalan." she said, trying to distract herself with a tangent. Her thoughts weren't fooled, though. She tried harder "But I don't know where to go."


"Alright," she breathed, felt her hands trembling against the back of K'airos's head. Her stomach had twisted itself into knots, leaving a quaking, threatening nausea in her gut that pushed up her at her throat with each restrained sob. Her voice was barely over a whisper, "It's alright. You don't need to worry about that. I'll... I will take care of you."


A gentle rapping came upon the chamber door.


"Who is it?" K'airos managed to say after a very long pause. And even after gathering her breath to speak up, her words bordered on being a whisper.


Antimony sighed, recognizing the vague scent through the door, but she couldn't find the strength in her legs to stand for it. Instead she just muttered low, "Come in."


The door cracked opened and the burned, dirty man with the loud mane leaned his head into the room. One ear twitched. The other seemed to be sleeping. "It's me. Are you both uninjured?"


She couldn't be sure how much of the weakness in her limbs was due to her grief and how much was her body not yet recovered from its brush with death, but Antimony only nodded at the Tia's words. She didn't unfurl from her position around K'airos.


She didn't either. She did move her eyes to look at the man, and she felt the sudden urge to rise up and stop looking in such a bad shape. Yet she didn't. She couldn't muster the motivation to quench the shame she felt.


"We are fine." she said, rubbing one hand against her eyes.


D'hein hesitated. He looked at the wall of the room as though to share a private thought with it. Then he eyed the women on the floor. "May I come in?"


Grey ears laying out low to either side of her skull, Antimony finally lifted her head, just enough to turn it slightly towards D'hein. Eyes reddened with tears behind smeared glasses watched him in silence for a moment, and then she sighed. "Alright." He had suffered a loss here as well, she knew, though she, perhaps selfishly, couldn't fathom how it might be comparable.


K'airos didn't say anything, chosing instead to sob against her mother's shoulder.


D'hein slipped into the room and shut the door on his tail. When it bounced open her tried to shut it again without looking, once again on his tail. He did this four times before turning to see what was the matter, his tail swinging out of the doorframe, and the door shut successfully. It did not appear as though he would ever understand.


Antimony just shifted her gaze back to the top of her daughter's head, fingers working through her hair gently. The gesture was just as much meant to comfort herself as it was K'airos.


K'airos looked to D'hein. She couldn't find his door antics funny. She considered asking how he was, but quickly assumed that was the most stupid question she could ever ask in her life. She kept quiet.


Feeling the silence heavy in the room, D'hein looked around. He wasn't really sure what to do with himself. He reached up and tugged on his ear, then on his mane. "... I left Ulanan with... So she's... Well." They probably didn't care about that right now.


Antimony felt the muscles along her spine tense. "I hope she sends that woman into the water where she belongs," she ground out.


The girl barely moved when she spoke. "I don't know who she is."


"Now don't worry about that right now." D'hein paced over, looking down at the women. He flapped his arms limply.


K'airos chose to worry about that and everything else at once. Anything was better than the fresh memories of what happened to D'aijeen.


"I should report to the Blades. Send a letter or...and fetch my things from...and hers..." 


She buried her face on Antimony's side, breaking into a cry again.


"Hush," Antimony murmured, resting her chin atop K'airos's head and lifting her gaze dully to D'hein again. Her tail curled, brushing K'airos's back. "I will take care of everything, Airos. Just..."


"And I'll help, if I can." D'hein lifted his hands. "So there's no reason to worry about anything, definitely not right now."


K'airos paused, unable to find any avenues of distraction. "It's my fault." she said a moment later, voice muffled with her sobbing. "It's my fault!"


Antimony's expression crumbled at that. "Stop," she begged, pressing face into red hair. "Airos, stop. Please, it's not. I promise... you're perfect, you're... I love you. I'm here. I'm sorry...!"


D'hein put his hands on his hips. "Listen to your mother, K'airos."


The young woman just dropped her head. Her tail curled up against her leg. She stared at it, crying. "I want to sleep." she mumbled.


"That's alright. Rest will..." Antimony murmured shakily. She hesitated and then moved her arms to her daughter's sides. "Let's get you to bed, Airos."


D'hein shifted as though he were in the way of the bed, though he hadn't even looked to see where in the room the bed was. "Oh, right! Sleep would be a great idea for everyone!" Suddenly he remembered his exhaustion, and it rushed over him renewed so that he might fall asleep where he stood. But he tried to ignore it.


K'airos rose up dully, though her head was slightly lowered. She nodded once, saying "We should sleep." before moving towards the bed without lifting her sight from the floor.


Antimony kept close to K'airos, arms around her as though one or both of them might fall at the slightest breath. Pulling the sheet back for her daughter and pulling it over her body struck a deep pain in her chest, and she rested one shaking hand against K'airos's cheek, head bowed. In that moment her daughter seemed so small, and she felt like she might have been transported to a time fifteen years ago years ago. Their lives had been so clear then.


"I will take you anywhere you wish, Airos," she murmured. "I will keep you safe. I promise you. Nothing... nothing will hurt you again."


D'hein walked over and put a hand on Antimony's shoulder. "You should sleep, too."


K'airos shifted on the bed, giving her back to everyone and facing the wall.


Hand dropping to the bed, Antimony bit back a whimper as she watched her daughter's back. "I cannot," she replied quietly to the Tia. Then she turned and let the strength give way in her legs until she was sitting once more on the floor, her back against the bed.


D'hein lowered himself beside Antimony, putting his hands on either shoulder. "At least lay down. At least sit on the bed. Why can't you sleep?


"After all that has... my--" she couldn't finish a thought, felt her jaw trembling, her ears shivering against her head. She would be quiet for K'airos, strong for K'airos. But she could not sleep, not now with the images so fresh. Her vision blurred.


D'hein pulled her into a hug, which wasn't something he'd expected himself to do.


She stiffened briefly, fingers curling against the floor while her tail twisted up over her legs. Then she just closed her eyes and let her head drop.


"Mom, you should sleep, too." K'airos said. She pulled her pillow closer to herself and inclined it in front of her chest to wrap her arms over it. "You should go to sleep."


"You'll be able to sleep," D'hein assured her. "If you try. You should."


When she shut her eyes, she saw the bottomless water and the roiling black again. She opened them and saw the smooth fabric of D'hein's shirt. Her ears shifted back towards her daughter's voice. "I will, Airos," she breathed. "Don't worry for me. Rest your spirit."


K'airos didn't have anything else to say. She closed her eyes.


D'hein leaned forward, his head against the bedframe, his weight easing slightly out of his control. "That's good. Listen to your mother."


Swallowing thickly, Antimony let her back relax somewhat against the bed. The position was not doing well for her joints, but she couldn't fathom standing again, not when the water that had dragged K'aijeen under seemed so close to doing the same to her. "Aijeen... was not always..." She blinked at the white fabric and sighed wearily, unsure why she felt the need to speak this defense to the Tia.


"I did not think she was, either." He started then, suddenly, and leaned back. He shook his head. "I'm sorry. I wasn't meaning to crush you. I think I was falling asleep."


"You weren't," Antimony replied numbly, hesitated. She felt as though she were drifting from the room, from Horizon, from D'hein and K'airos. "She... was always trying to help me when... when she could barely walk herself." Her words shook at the end.


"Perhaps it's too soon to be having this conversation."


Her brow knit, eyes shutting tight, and she felt her heart sink with weary resignation. "Perhaps."


"You shouldn't stay on the floor." K'airos interrupted in a tired voice.


"Come on, Antimony. Let's get you into bed." He tried to pick Antimony up the same way she'd picked K'airos up moments before.


A weakness gripped her muscles and joints and made her sag heavily against D'hein's hands for a moment before she came back to herself. Her own hands moved up to grip the edge of the bed, to shakily pull herself to her feet and then sit upon the thin mattress. Resting this close to K'airos reminded her of nights in the healing tent, their sleeping blankets tucked up right alongside one another, out of necessity for space and warmth but also because of family. She felt so distant from that memory and yet so familiar with it.


Numbly she pulled the rest of her body up and lay alongside K'airos. A moment later she shifted to make enough space on the bed for D'hein, turning her head to remind herself of her daughter's scent.


The girl had moved again, making space for her mother by pushing herself as close to the wall as far as she could. No sound came from her, except for some sniffing.


D'hein was about to stand and move away to let the women rest when he detected Antimony's movement, pushing herself further on to the bed. He thought she might be leaving room for him there, but surely that was just his tired brain mixing dreams with reality. Still he rose and sat down on the bed next to Antimony, checking to see if she was going to stab him or something.


Antimony did not stab D'hein, or protest when he sat. She felt far too empty to do so, and if she closed her eyes, she could almost pretend she had her family back were it not for the sharp, spicy scent of Ul'dah that the Tia brought. She focused on K'airos's scent instead and pictured broad skies and even broader sands.


K'airos looked over her shoulder when she felt a third person on the bed. She saw the D'hein and quickly looked away, feeling a bit uncomfortable. But sadness and fatigue made her not care.


D'hein wasn't really sure what to make of this, but given everything that had happened? He just stopped thinking and stopped caring and lay down. They could kick him out if they wanted. It was bed time until then.

Link to comment
  • Create New...