[Circles & Lies] A Dragons Plan

From the outside the temple sat nicely among the other buildings of Emerald City, tall stone and set against the side of the moment, as Aishani and Sasnistra entered this is where the similarity ended, the walls were draped in blood red silk, banner ran the length of each hall and up into the roof.

As each silk banner dipped into a low arc above it sat dragon statue. The dragons were crafted from golds and silvers with deep red eyes. The alter at the end constructed of heavy stone draped in the same blood red silk. Behind it two mages were conversation as he caught sight of Aishani he quickly dismissed the second who disappeared through a hallway.

Adjusting his cloak he stepped from behind the alter descending the three small steps before intercepting the two woman “Lady Aishani, welcome to The Dragon Temple, though admittedly it is unexpected, the Grand Summit is not until this evening?”

Aishani tipped her head to Reagis in a display of respect but silently drank in this Temple such reminded her of those designated to Lloth back in Underdark. “You are correct. I am coming to you before the Summit meeting to discover the voice of your opinion to the seat as it stands and will become. The decor reminds me of the temples in the Underdark.”

“Those among us are born from Dragons Blood, for us the temple is comfort” Reagis replied “And our standing is behind those that do not hinder our objectives, the realm is at an odd balance one we are trying to restore, the current standing hinders our ability to do that but limiting the magicks we are allowed to use”

“While there are open objectives, I am fully aware that other’s lay beneath. The odd balance was brought by the death of the realm healer, unfortunate events that lead to the upset of balance.” She fixed her gaze upon him. “I am not opposed to freedom of religion, since each believe differently.”

“I’m surprised your view of us wasn’t coloured by your husband, he carries no love for our religious beliefs” Reagis spoke in soft tones I was hard to believe he was who he was at times “The Everlandians forced us to take refuge as they hunted us down, Hades was particulary ruthless in his execution of us, so you can see why I would be sceptical to align with anyone who seeks my kind harm, when we have only ever wanted the Everlands to be free”

“While, I did not say, that I favour your religious beliefs. I do believe that everyone has the right to practice their religion with the expectation of life to remain intact. Yes, I am aware from both angles the reasons that lead to being hidden down here. Given your part in the Dragon Wars, it is not a side as to whom is right and whom is wrong. It is about survival. I have been there, believe me you. But, one cannot remain forever in the past. Times change and in such, it is those that go with the flow and amend with the new times that will survive instead of sticking to old guidelines. I understand views will not change overnight, but, the surface offers things that are growing sparse beneath the crust. Even those in Underdark traded since it was futile to the betterment of the people. It is time to stop thinking about selfish conquest and think of the people and what can help them grow.”

“We are need of contacting our other groups, in need of trading the knowledge they have with what we have, an open line would be appreciated. And yes our spells that help grow crops and the likes are weakened, though with the death of the Realms Healer it is understandable now as she is the central point of balance” Reagis spoke in thought

“Then you understand the need the people have with balance in a world that is so sheltered at this time. Trading makes economy grow, building from a weakness to another that holds a strength. Until such a point that the realm has chosen another, it will remain to be like this. An information and trade highway needs to be made, place aside the differences. Kane has set aside his own, I believe in time so can you. I came to hear your side with taking the seat as Empress. What side are you on?”

“You intend to open the gates, this will prevent the Elders starving the people to death, it seems wise to serve the people? You have our support Lady Aishani” Reagis replied there was a smoothness to his voice now “In time I believe you will only strengthen the Emerald Citys standing in the larger picture.”

“It pleases me to hear that Reagis. I look forward to the Summit this evening, unfortunately, you will have to excuse me, Kane is not doing so well and I would like to return to his side.” Aishani sighed softly, while attempting to appear disturbed by such, even though, he was perfectly fine due to her newly discovered ability.

“It is unfortunate anyone chose to attack in the Elders Chambers, a task not normally possible, but seems they would have help, I thank you and Lord Kane for ensuring we got out in piece, I do hope he will survive? I have yet to hear the details if truth is told, we were a little busy saving our own hides, a little sad to say but a truth that must be realised” Reagis replied his words genuine in their weight

“Of course my lady, may our thoughts and prayers be with you both” Reagis bowed and stepped from her path

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[Circles & Lies] A New Mystery

The girl was squealing in fear as the two men advanced on her, her clothing torn indicating she had narrowly avoided their intent at least once or twice, Aerian had no hesitation as she pulled her bow around her first arrow clean exploding through the chest of one of them. The second turned looking to her before launching a knife toward her Aerian caught it in mid-flight with an arrow.

He quickly realised she wasn’t going to be as easy as the girl on the ground and with a grunt took off into the forest, she looked back to Virra “Wanna take care of him?, like you said we’ve had enough trouble tonight, and he will be back with more of them” Her voice was soft and yet still carried that tone she was paying attention to what was going on around them.

Just as Aerian turned, there was a thump of a body falling, Virra offered her lover a wink, moving over to the body of the dead man that held a knife lodged at the middle of the spinal column. She placed her boot square on the man’s back, while wrenching it free with an easy jerk. She leaned down to wipe off the blood on the man and slide the knife back within the holsters on her thigh, inspecting the corpse for money and possibly a sigil to represent the group followed, if any. Returning to Aerian’s side with a lift of her cloak to drape around the girl’s shoulders. “You are safe now.”

Aerian wiped the blood from the girls face caused by her arrow taking down the first, and on closer inspection saw the wounds “We need to move, can you walk?” She asked softly the girl merely nodded, pulling the cloak around her as she stood.

“Thank you” she managed to whimper before reverting her eyes to the ground, Aerian glanced around the meadow in thought for a moment before she shrugged the feeling off “We’ll take her Dentarius, the mages can take a look at her, there’s not much more we can do out here, mostly superficial wounds so I would say short of throwing her around they did no further damage?” It was as much a question as it was an assessment to which the girl nodded in reply, she stayed beside Aerian and Virra as they made their way through the forest now.

Virra inspected the girl briefly, tipping her chin with a turn of her head from right to left, then released the hold and nodded to Aerian. Moving to walk along side her with the girl between them. “Firefly, you aren’t talking to me. You keep looking around.”

It was then that Aerian heard the faint sound of clicking, almost as though a familiar tink of a spider. The time had been long, since Aerian had seen Shadow, the companion of Aishani. Though, the last time she knew, Aishani and her father were in Elcarus.

Aerian stopped almost dead as she heard Virras words “I’ve seen this, all of this, pieces and parts but” she shook her head as she watched Shadow a moment “My head hurts”

Virra glanced to Aerian sharply with a brief nod. “Deja vu.” She commented while offering the girl her water skin. “Drink up.”

Aerian tapped her head with a smile “Vision, I think” she replied softly before taking a swig from the skin. The young girl stared at Aerian before trying to back off “And I thought I was crazy” she muttered beneath her breath

Aerian simply shrugged “Wanna try been me” she replied coldly, before looking to Virra “Remember me muttering about a meadow? I am fairly sure I meant that one, and I’m fairly sure she is the one I saw but as to why or who she is ….. mind draws a blank”

Virra snatched the waterskin back from Aerian, then extended it to the girl between them. Her dark eyes flashed from the red-head to the girl, narrowing her view, but then nodding slowly. “Yeah, I do. What is your name, little one? You had some fight in you and I admire that. You are coming with us to Dentarius and Elcarus mansion, in that, you will be safe. I get the feeling you were meant to cross our paths, but, we mean you know harm. So don’t you worry about that.”

“What about the crazy redhead, cos she seems to know more than either of us?” The girl whimpered as she looked to Aerian who was now walking through the forest oddly at ease all of a sudden.

“I’m Stacy, and I just wanna go home” The girl finished quietly, Aerian halted as she turned to face her her eyes narrowed slightly, again she tried to think through the puzzle pieces in her mind and again drew a blank “She’s supposed to be here, we were supposed to find her, or she was meant to find us”

Stacy took the water the skin as she took a drink before looking to Virra “Is she always like this?”

“There is a reason that she is my Firefly.” Virra cast a smirk with the mischief in the depth of those black eyes but also affection. “Usually. But that’s what I love about her and more. My name is Virra anything before means nothing. Firefly… Her name is Aerian Elcarus. No one will touch you while we are around. I guarantee. Chin up. She has a special sight and out was scrambled. I assume to make that right. But everything takes time. We are taking you with is to our home.”

“I see” Stacy replied softly, there was confusion in her eyes and she was still out of place, as she looked to Aerian before back to Virra “So how do I get back to London?”

“London? I’ve never heard of that place. You are in Everlands.” Virra stood calmly while watching Stacy with dark eyes.

“I have” Aerian began before she looked to Virra “I grew up there, sort of, before my powers starting manifesting and mom had to send me back to live with my father, I was born in the human world” Aerian hadn’t done well pretending to be human, always stronger and stranger than the rest of the children her age “Which would mean you’re not supposed to be here”

“And yet here I am” Stacy muttered “I was on my way home, and then all of a sudden those two creeps are trying to …. And then you put and arrow through one and she stabs the other like its normal” Stacys voice was suddenly cut with fear as she took a step back “So just what is going on?”

“It seems you passed through a trans-dimensional rift, a barrier between realms, what you know is all but gone, you’re also the third in recent months that we know of. Sorry but you’re kinda stuck til we figure how to reverse thing” Stacy took another step back as Aerian watch her “If you’re going to run I wouldn’t those two are mild compared to other things in this forest, those things that haunt your nightmares? Where do you think they came from” Aerian smiled there was a twisted darkness in it as she smiled right before her head was torn apart and she crumbled to the ground holding her head, her screams echoed through the forest around her.

Stacy suddenly looked even more nervous as she looked to the writhing form on the ground “What’s with her….” She managed to force the words through the fear that was gripping her to the very core

Virra inclined a brow to Aerian, amusement not even a whisper upon her feature, her lips pursed a slight as though in irritation. “Survival must be different then in your world of this London. It is not an everyday thing for most, you just so happen to come at a time that things are very…tense.” She immediately was at Aerian’s side, catching her before she fell to the ground with an arm around her shoulder, caressing her back, though glanced to Stacy. “Long story short, we lost our realm healer…or more simply put, Sarantha was murdered, this is causing things to go out of whack the more and more we do not have one. Plus, Aishani, I’m sure you’ll meet her eventually, her mother is a basket case, Z’ress and royally scrambled my poor Firefly’s mind…” She attempted to lift up Aerian’s head, caressing her face. “Firefly…? Baby, I’m here.” She wrapped her arms around Aerian. “So the short of it, she is struggling more than most. She can see things, almost like the future, but since that has happened…she gets short moments of spasming pain and the likes.”

“No one can see the future” Stacy sighed in reply “This is some elaborate period acting thing right? Any second now they’re gonna jump out laughing at me freaking out” Stacy was unsure who she was trying to convince as she watched Aerian writhe and cry out in Virras arms, her face sweaty and contorted with pain, her eyes oddly empty.

“You should call an ambulance, before she really hurts herself” Stacy added

“I have no idea what an ambulance is… As I said Sarantha is dead and she is the realm healer. She would know what to do.” Virra kept an arm around Aerian while shrugging free from her leather jacket to dab at her face. “I hate being fucking helpless. Aerian…baby…Firefly… Look at me.” She captured her face firmly but gently to try to get her lover to come back to her. “Aerian don’t you dare fucking leave me. Stay right here damnit.”

Aerian tensed as a low strangled scream cut from her before she slumped against Virra, her breathing shallow and slow.

“Is she OK, like seriously she needs a hospital” Stacy sighed as she looked to Aerian for a moment, Aerian was still out her breathing shallow and her body still against Virra.

Virra kept her arms around Aerian and gently placed a kiss upon her crown. But looked to Stacy. “She’s a tough cookie. She’ll be fine….I hope.” She added in a whisper.

Aerian raised her hand gently touching Virras cheek “Not dead yet baby” she whispered hoarsely a coughing fit caused her to spit blood to the ground as she moaned “I think the twelve hate me sometimes, or the fates, or someone else” she tried to sound funny but it came off much less so than she tried for, instead settling for a smile as she looked to Virra.

“You’re damn right you aren’t…” Virra chuckled but rubbed her back as the violent cough spewed some blood. She looked at Stacy. “Now so you understand why we need to get back to our home? We will need your help as well.” She guided Aerian to stand. “Can you walk?”

Shadow appeared in the darkness put of sight from Stacy as though offering support in a ride but not wishing to startle the young girl.

Aerian smiled to Shadow as she pushed to her knees, one arm around Virra and she found her feet “I can walk, I would rather you watch over us Shadow, Virra can keep me up” Aerian looked to Stacy who had now caught sight of Shadow and was rapidly shrinking against the tree.

“He wont harm you, he is companion to my fathers fiancé, exactly why he’s all the way out here I don’t know but he is watching our back and that means we’re safe” She spoke as firmly as she could muster among the twinges and pain of the spasms and damage done during her moments.

“I need to get to word to my Dad, that last round of visions was really weird, oddly the realm suddenly seems a little more settled though, not quite sure why considering Saras death, but I’m seeing the past, a whole bunch of memories I’ve already lived through something still isn’t sitting right” She tried to make it make sense but in that moment she simply couldn’t as they wound their way through the forest toward home.

“Firefly, you are in no frame of mind to make those decisions. Besides, while I love you, you and I both know that you will only slow us down and the faster we arrive to Eclarus mansion the sooner we can speak to your Pops and we can begin to piece this puzzle together. Don’t try me, I will knock you out again.” She supported her, while waving to Shadow. “As she said, Shadow is Aishani’s friend and won’t hurt us. While she is frightening, it is a small price to pay.”

Shadow moved forward and dipped down for Aerian to climb upon the furry body, since the arachnid was the size of a pony and easily would carry Aerian’s weight. “Stay up with me, don’t look at the creature if it disturbs you that much.”

Aerian looked to Virra a moment before she pulled her bow from her shoulder handing it off to Virra “Alright, I remember the last time I tried to argue so I know that’s not an empty threat” she grinned softly before turning to Shadow she bowed gently before climbing upon him, surprised at him been soft.

Stacy looked to Shadow who was now rising to carry Aerian then to Virra “I’m in so much trouble” she murmured softly

[Circles & Lies] An Undead Raid

Aerian was crouched on the rock pressed against another as she looked down over the ruins below, a city long abandoned but evidently dwarven in design, the wind whipped angrily through the crack she was hidden within as she smiled to herself, it had been a while since she felt so free, a chance to return to what she knew best.

She dropped her back pack and turned to root within rope and hook, with a grin she jammed the hook into a mall opening the metallic clunk signifying the lock into the solid surface, tying off the rope she tossed it through the gap and into the ruins below.

“This should prove fun, haven’t been here in….” She stopped and thought “About 15 years I thin, last time got my ass chased by the guardian that resides here, tough as rock but then he is a golem, got my prize though, so if we wanna get paid we need to stay out of his way baby” Aerian rubbed the scar just above her hip awkwardly and absently, it had almost killed her last time, she wasn’t about to part with the fact sheer dumb luck saved her “What we need is in the upper half, they said we’d be paid well”

At times Aerian nearly forgot that Virra was so close to her, due to her being incredibly silent and stealthy. Very light on her feet and it was a complimentary match. She was perched, still like a crow on the rocks then glanced to Aerian with a slither down of her body between the crevices that lead downwards. “Sounds like a challenge to me, Firefly. But, more than that. Fun. Let’s do this.” Until that moment, perhaps, Aerian had forgotten at exactly how dangerous Virra could be.

Aerian had far from forgotten but she was in her element having been used to working alone for so long “Our employer wants us to deliver the item intact, problem is” Aerian smiled as she handed Virra a second line finishing securing it “These orbs are unpredictable as hell, supposedly they can open dimensional rifts, honestly I hate putting so much ability in anyones hand but we will quietly render them inert before we hand them over”

She looked to Virra with a smile “That’s assuming our dear old golem friend doesn’t smash us into jam in the meantime”

Virra parted her lips on the mention of the actual item being able to open rifts, though a smirk formed on her lips in a coy and mischievous manner. “You know, that is a good idea. But, I wonder, if that is how Aishani got here…” She accepted her rope and winked to Aerian. “Last one down, is a rotten egg.” Virra released the tension and began to drop quickly.

Aerian watched Virra descend for a moment with a grin, looping the rope and she dropped from the edge and made her way down as she found her way down she grinned, abseiling the rock was always fun for Aerian. As she was at a height comfortable she simple let go drawing her blade as she flipped in mid-air landing on the ground with a cloud of dust.

A second later Virra landed behind her she smile kissing her cheek before adjusting her backpack “Stay frosty baby, he could be anywhere”

Virra lifted her own pack, while nipping playfully upon Aerian’s departing lips. A smirk formed upon her features, dark eyes surveying the ruins, especially rubble with a keen eye, a hand very near her own throwing knives at her thigh. She was prepared at a moments notice to move and act, while her muscles were controlled but prepared to spring like a panther beneath the dark leathers.

Aerian was light on her feet as she picked her path through the ruins, her eyes never once staying still as she scanned their surroundings. She slid between two buildings and dropped down into a second lower area, she stayed as she saw it, rising above them with a groan instinctively she grabbed for Virra pulling her down beside her.

“He is just doing his rounds, if we stay put he should go away” She whispered softly, the golem was at least ten feet in height and creaked as it moved the sound of rock grinding on rock.

Virra kept up with Aerian easily, never once did she have to look back, sensing her lover and that presence beside her like a shadow. But when they dropped down to a lower level, it was as Virra’s feet landed soundlessly that Aerian caught her collar in a pull lower. Peering in her direction, Virra’s eyes widened to the sight of the towering creature with the small dust kicked up by the grinding of the rock upon rock. “Oh…that’s fucking wicked…” She whispered barely above a breath, as those black eyes appeared fixed on the lumbering creature.

“Yea until he squishes you like pudding” Aerian grinned in reply as she mentally tried to work out a way past “The only thing in the world that my judgement blade barely puts a scratch on, fucking thing is insanely tough and may look clumsy but it can move”

Virra nodded, while indicating a wider birth that was to the backside of the golem, offering enough room to maintain stealth, the rocks high enough to offer cover in the process. “Then we have to be careful, if your judgment blade hadn’t put a dent and I have seen that thing…it has to be magic of otherworldly created to guard these…stones we are to retrieve.”

Aerian nodded as she slowly crept along the edge of the area they were in as the golem turned she moved behind the area Virra had pointed out. It was slow but they made their way along the area quietly finally far enough away she cut back between two more buildings and into a court yard of sorts the buildings stretched up above them, the trees exploding through sections, half reclaimed by the forces of nature.

“Fuck there’s no way up to the throne room from here, the other way is in from the roof but …” She sighed softly “We left the rope back there”

Virra followed her while taking the slow route with Aerian, then eased up to the roof with a natural prowess that was unparalleled to any that Aerian had known, she appeared to be a natural. A smirk formed on her lips at Aerian’s words, though, she moved her own pack down to remove a rope with the same fixings as Aerian’s previous. “You think, you are the only one that is prepared?” Virra tossed the items to her with a wink.

“And that’s why I love you” Aerian grinned as she took the hook with a grin, she took her bow from around her shoulder, quietly she drew the bow back and let fly, the first shot caught the very edge sending the hook back to the ground, Aerian grinned “Ok so I was off a little” she grinned picking up the hook, as she reloaded the shot with a little more precision she was on target the hook snapping into place above them, she tugged the rope for a moment then nodded “We’re good to go”

“After you, Firefly. I want something juicy to look at as we climb.” She winked to her while lightly swatting at Aerian’s bottom with a lift of her pack to be placed at her shoulders again, holding the loose end of the rope to keep it stead in an offer for her. 

Aerian took hold of the rope planting her foot flat to the wall and hoisting herself up, her climb was confident and well-practised. It didn’t take them long either before Aerian was scrambling over the edge onto the rooftop and leaning back to grab Virra helping her over as well.

The view from this point was impressive the city spread before them, the golem still wandering in the distance “So far so good” she smiled and dropped back onto a lower portion “Now for the throne room” she stopped her head cocked to the side “Am I hearing things or I could swear I heard a voice” Aerian felt her spine prickle as instinctively she drew her daggers spinning them in her hand before looking back to Virra “Am I hearing things? Don’t exactly trust my senses at this point”

Virra looked around at the impressive sight, a smirk laced with awe upon the corners of her lips, but, easily followed Aerian on the drop down. She considered Aerian for a moment, then looked to the surroundings and back. Virra closed her eyes as though straining to listen for that which Aerian was speaking on.

Aerian shrugged softly as she slid her blades back into place, adjusting her bow then her back pack as made her way along the rooftop, finding the door she pulled before pushing and then pulling again until it gave with a crack, she pushed the remnants of the door aside and slid inside. The steps were steep and covered with moss, footing would be easy to lose as Aerian descended the stairs slowly.

The light dimmed quickly Aerian glanced around before releasing a small glowing ball into the air, the light was dull but enough to allow them to see, the air was stale and smelled of damp and stale water, but they continued down slowly.

Virra now, watched Aerian carefully, as the blades slid back into the sheaths. She kept close to Aerian, while her eyes kept scanning the area on their run along the rooftops and to door. But, when inside and the small globe of light was emitted from the red head, Virra couldn’t shake that something was wrong. “Aerian…?” She whispered, catching the girl’s arm, Virra tugged her closer. “Something is not right…”

Aerian stopped as she crouched looking to Virra “We’re almost there, though admittedly something doesn’t feel quite right, I would just hate to come so far and not get what we came for” It bothered her she couldn’t figure what was wrong, ever since her return from Z’ress’ grasp her powers had been hit and miss at the best of times, Aerian was unnaturally off balance, the only comfort she found in that fact was Virra would have her back

“We’ll go back if you think it best, but it’s just down here, what we need is hidden in a hole beneath then throne” Aerian pressed herself flat to the wall looking to Virra gently, the light ball hovering just between them.

Virra considered Aerian while in the crouch and squatted beside her, a hand pressed behind for support as soon she was in a mirrored position beside Aerian. Those dark lips and eyes stunning against the glow of the orb between them upon her porcelain complexion. “I’m not sure, Firefly. But, tell me, what it was that you thought you heard? Was it a sound? A feeling? Words? Think.”

“Whispers, but we’re in a city abandoned for centuries it could just be the wind playing tricks” Aerian replied softly “I would know if there was anyone here besides us, I don’t sense anyone other than us and that damn golem”

Virra nodded briefly, while lowering her backpack. She withdrew a few items to compile as flash bombs, but, there was a trigger instead of the usual combustible. A wire in her hand, after a few moments, it sunk in that she was situating a tripped booby trap to alert of someone following. “We can’t leave the same way we came. If in fact there is a matrixing effect, we have to be safe than sorry.” She straightened with a dust of her hands, then closed her bag to sling over her shoulders in a swift adjustment. “Let’s get done, I don’t like it here.”

Aerian nodded and started off down the stairs once more, as they hit the bottom Aerian pushed the door as it creaked open the room beyond would in its day have been magnificent, now it was dark and covered in moss several skeletons littered to room. Aerian stopped by one to look “Elf, and less a hundred years old, seems we’re not the only one who’ve tried for this”

She crossed the hall a wave of her sent the ball higher into the air with an eruption of light brightening the whole room, the moment she did she regretted it as the skeletons on the ground suddenly seemed to be so many more, as well as several fresher bodies, the stench of death was heavy, she shifted awkwardly feeling something wash over her for a moment before she pushed it aside. She set herself straight and made her way to the throne, looking to the skeleton for a moment before kneeling down, she drew her dagger to loosen the panel reaching in amongst the cobwebs, as she searched she couldn’t help but look at the skeleton above her “I’m sorry, but it’s not like you have any use for it now?”

Virra narrowed her eyes as the light exploded to reveal the different bodies in states of decay and to those recent. She caught a glance to Aerian, as the red-head shifted awkwardly. She followed her gaze to the skeleton seated above at the throne, suddenly Virra grasped Aerian’s wrist to pull it back from the pannel. “It’s a trap…this is all a trap, Aerian. The amount of bodies, this is ridiculous.”

“Gotcha” Aerian grinned as Virra pulled her hand clear the moment she grasped what she had come for, the bag held the crystal ball, beneath the glass surface swirled a mass of purples and black “Better not drop it” there was a groan behind them as Aerian quickly pushed the ball into Virras pack “Don’t lose it for god sakes I plan on getting paid”

Aerian was quick to her feet as the skeletons began to rise Aerian halted drawing her blades “You have got to be fucking kidding me”

Virra glanced to Aerian at her expression, meeting that with a smirk and watched with curious as to the stow of the crystal ball, though, tilted her head at the sound of a groan. Then, stood slowly, withdrawing her throwing knives in a fan upon her fingers. “I knew it. This is rigged.” Virra flicked her wrist at the skeletons taking shape to snap the spin and took Aerian’s hand with her other, beginning to pull her after her in the rush from this room. “We have to move quick. When I say jump, jump. The booby trap will flash or explode, I can never tell. It’s a roulette.”

Aerian chuckled softly and yet did not lose step behind Virra, already mentally prepping her move to slow the skeletons the light ball had dropped ahead of them and dimmed so as not to blind them as they raced back up the stairs.

“JUMP!” Virra called to Aerian while easily leaping over the trap that was set, pausing to ensure that Aerian was close behind and quickly rose the stairway, being cautious of the moss on the ledges.

Aerian jumped the moment Virra spoke clearing the trap with ease as the exited the stairway out onto the roof she turned the ball erupted into a burst of crimson flame covering the entrance they had come through, for the moment whatever had survived the trap was now stuck behind the wall of flame.

“It won’t hold for long, and sure hell not long enough for us to get down the rope” Aerian circled the edge of the rooftop for a moment before looking to a building a few feet over, the roof was collapsed but would get them to the ground, she took a step back and swallowed “We need to get to that roof, we can get down from there”

Virra glanced over her shoulder as the entrance was engulfed in brilliant crimson flame, then to the roof that Aerian was circling impatiently contemplating the building a few feet over. She nodded to Aerian. “Good, you go first. Push on the edge of the roof with your last foot to get the oomph needed. Go!” She urged Aerian. “I’ll be right behind you.” Virra insisted, such was true because as soon as Aerian leapt, she caught Virra from the corner of her eye in the process of making the same leap and jump.

Aerian landed and tucked into a roll skidding to halt moments before a plunge to a lower level, a smile when Virra made the landing perfect “Show off” she grinned before she dropped off the edge to the lower level and then down another to the ground. The building had been burned but afforded a little cover just as she heard the screams of the skeletons above them

We need to reach the out skirts I’m hoping whatever reanimated them has the same limitations as that golem as in it doesn’t extend outside the city limits. It wouldn’t take Virra long to figure that’s how Aerian had survived her last encounter with the golem, no sooner had she finish the train of thought than she saw motion a blade that would have cut Virra in two, it merely froze and collapsed to the ground behind Virra the judgement blade vanishing back into the world around them as Aerian remained silent and still her hand outstretched.

Virra stood with a dust off and a triumphant smirk to Aerian’s comment, though, she guided herself off the ledge to the lower level and down to the ground. She looked back at the building, then nodded to the red-head. “I have a feeling what reanimated them lies within the crystal we hijacked.” Virra commented just as Aerian stared, glancing over her shoulder to the fall of the judgment blade then to her, confusion and hurt written on her features. “Aerian…? Aerian! Snap out of it. We have to get out of here.”

Aerian shook her head clearing the cobwebs “It isn’t what’s in the ball it’s the asshole that sent us here” She replied as she looked out of the doorway in thought for a moment “We can get across town, back the way we came”

She smiled to Virra “Couldn’t let them take you from me, hard to sense them though, I feel a lot and yet nothing because they are dead” she shook her head again and point to the building across the street “We’ll have to go building to building?”

Virra furrowed her brow while inspecting Aerian briefly, then following her gaze to the indicated building across the street. “Then we go building to building. Which asshole sent us here? I can count on more than one hand and yours those that would be out for me…or you.” She began to follow Aerian. “What was up with the Judgement Blade? Were you cutting something down? Because, I figure it would easily splice me in two.”

“Undead Shade behind you, must have been laying in wait for us, undead vs judgement blade is kind of an unfair fight but it had the advantage” Aerian slid into the building with ease pressing into the wall as Virra joined her, several skeletons had now began to appear wandering the streets, they made it through two more buildings without incident.

Virra curled her hand around Aerian’s, keeping her close to her but not impending the ease of movement. She kept alert, it was a waiting game of passing skeletons in the streets and manoeuvring through. Virra stopped a skeleton or two from sneaking up on Aerian when she peeked out a doorway, severing the spine from the skull with a flick of her throwing knives.

Aerian was always thankful for Virra though she made her return of saves including sending one hurtling through a window as it tried to jump them both from above. They finally found the final stretch and it was solidly blocked by the golem stumbling them as it slammed its club into the ground before.

Aerian looked to Virra then to the golem “Hello again Rocky” she called playfully she pulled Virra aside as it swiped at them, the wind of the attempt brushing past them and several skeletons sent flying as it hit them square, that prompted a smile from Aerian before second slam at the ground sent both Aerian and Virra diving for cover in opposite directions, Aerian was able to roll back to her feet as the golem tried to stomp her “Is it me or is he really pissed off at me?”

Virra managed to recover from the initial stomp of the might rock monster, a smirk on her lips while that mischief was brilliant in her black eyes. “I just think, he needs some good ol’ lovin’.” She made a splitting gesture with her hands and indicated a small vial in her hand and a higher peak to a building that if hit properly would come crumbling down over the golem if positioned properly to give them just the time needed to escape.

She worked with Aerian, to position the golem just right, it was a dance between the two lovers and this ghastly creature made of stone, finally at the right spot, Virra threw the phial and it exploded upon contact, causing the building to crumble and essentially fall upon the golem. Virra snatched Aerian’s hand, while running with her. “Work those legs, Firefly! When Mr. Sunshine wakes up he is going to be in a foul mood.”

“He’ll just be mad you dropped a house on his head” Aerian giggled as she slid past Virra to kick a Skeleton out of their path as they finally found their way to the city outskirts the skeletons in pursuit exploded into a cloud of dust and Aerian fell to the ground flat on her back in a  fit of laughter.

“Damn that was hard work, but you make a pretty good thief yourself” She sat with a smile “As for your previous question his name is Ragon Dargain, a trader of materials that are difficult to acquire, even harder if you don’t know a good thief or two, which is why he came to me, despite my reputation of late” She sighed softly “He hired us for this, and I’m fairly sure his plan was to kill me and take the ball once he dropped the reanimation spell, I don’t many who can do it on that wide a scale but he is a necromancer, or at least rumoured to be, so now he’s gonna be real pissed off he has to pay us”

“Well, let’s get the fuck out of the open and fix this crystal. While I am all fine and dandy with pay, it really isn’t needed and he fucked us over. Besides, I don’t want a fucker like that to get a hold of a rift crystal…that shit is dangerous. Unless…” Virra hesitated with a thought. “…perhaps, if we can get it safely to Dentarius and Elcarus mansion, it could be of use to Aishani. I’m sure that in this war it could help…right?”

Aerian stood as she made her way to Virra retrieving the crystal from her backpack “You don’t send someone like me after something like this without a backup plan, which evidently failed when we forgot to die” she sat on the ground as she pulled the crystal from the bag again the swirls of purple and black bounced from the glass that contained them “This is contained rift magick, like the one mom used to get us out of grandads place, but she can call them directly, but this is essentially the same stuff, a similar one was opened years ago and brought the dragons and we all know how that turned out”

She stood slowly and held the ball out “I can feel it, it’s weird it’s as if its connected to everywhere and yet it goes nowhere, but you’re right we need to get it to Dentarius” She nodded absently before tucking the ball away in Virras back pack once “We should rest” she pointed to the forest “We’ve been busy for a while now, we should rest before we head home”

She watched Aerian in silence, while glancing to the surroundings with a suspicious eye but lowered her gaze to the ball in Aerian’s hands, while the dark hues reflected the swirling hues. “No, Aerian. This is powerful, you said it brought those scaly bastards here, just think of what else could be brought. We have to move and move fast to Elcarus only then can I rest. I got some fuzzy bees, if you want. Helped me out of many sticky situations back in the day.” Virra dipped her hand into her pack and revealed a small bead, appeared to be a candy, Aerian knew it was a naturally infused caffeinated pill that would pep up an individual for hours.

Aerian smiled softly as she took the pill, not even hesitating to swallow it down she kissed Virra softly “It’s a long walk we should go” Aerian made her way toward the darkness of the forest now feeling a little more alert.

[Circles & Lies] Who We Are

Jade rose from her seat beside Hades within his office, moving to answer the door. Once it was opened the guard stood on the opposite side, though, she inclined a brow and stepped to the side with a gesture for him to enter. Once though, Jade closed it behind him and moved to take her position behind Hades to the left, the sight of a guard caused her to place her hand calmingly upon his shoulder. Her beautiful brown eyes were fixed on Hades while waiting for the guard to speak. 

“My Lord I have been tasked with informing you you’re brother and Lady Aishani are headed for Emerald City, there is a situation they must deal with that requires their immediate attention” The guard began, the words Emerald City caused Hades to shift awkwardly “They ask you remain here to begin preparations for the coming spring, they also request you do not intervene in their affairs”

His last statement caused the guard to look to the floor, Hades simply laid his hand over Jades softly.

“They would ask I don’t save their asses, but Emerald City is Aishanis jurisdiction not ours, if they need us I’m sure we’ll find out in due course. I trust you are relaying the same message to Aerian?”

“Yes my lord” The guard replied quickly

“Wouldn’t bother she left early this morning, but I’ll see she is informed” Hades replied “Did he leave word of the wedding plans?”

“Yes my Lord, he requests Elsa is informed they had a matter to attend but will return before their wedding day” The guard replied

“Ok, well you have your duties to attend, we need to check the walls, and ensure those who took seasonal residence with us are safe to return to their homes, it’s lucky he gets to go off playing the hero while we do all the work. I will get the magick defences checked no doubt our dear family will be preparing to take another run at us, and I just love to imagine that psychotic bitch Z’ress will be making an appearance, admittedly sticking my sword up her ass has some appeal” Half of his statement was just thought out loud as smiled softly “Very well, return to your duties”

The guard bowed and exited the office closing the door “Seems we have our work cut out Jade, sometimes I wonder if Kane attracts so much trouble on purpose so I have to save his ass”

Jade turned her hand when Hades lifted his own to place upon hers, instigating a soft squeeze of support. She then looked to Hades as he spoke directly to her after the leave of the guard, Jade remained still and silent for a time then removed her hand from his own with a kiss to the top. “I’m not opposed to work, Hades. I’m more than willing to do my part with the family…I mean with the Elcarus’…I mean…” Her voice fell silent, while her eyes lowered.

“You will be expected to do so, you did lay down with the crazy one after all” Hades smiled softly, his hand curled around hers a soft tug drew her round him at the same moment he moved his chair back drawing her into his lap “We have a lot to do in preparation for the spring, and now my brother and his wife are of gallivanting it rests on you and I to ensure the needs of the realm are met”

His arms slid around her waist holding her to him “Over time they will come to love you as I do, we have both moved far from where we started”

Jade blinked and gasped in surprise as she was drawn to settle in his lap. “I do hope you are right about them liking me… I’ve never felt how I do when I’m with you. But I will do my best to help any way I can. But perhaps they aren’t gallivanting…?”

“They are off with a diplomatic disaster, not something I envy” Hades softly kissing her cheek gently “And yes, I am admittedly happiest when I’m around you Jade, you both calm and excite me all within the same moment, I’m thankful for you ever moment”

Jade offered him a small, but warm smile in response to his kiss upon her cheek, though, turned to press her lips firmly against his. As the surface massaged and caressed his own, it was increased with the warmth of her lips and the slickness of her tongue that prodded beyond to stir his own. Such was passionate, hungry and loving.

Her force caught just for a moment before he responded, his mind letting go of whatever thoughts were in his head becoming lost by her and their desire for each quickly drowned out any sense of logic in him.

Rarely, did Jade take initiative as such, though, amidst the kiss he felt her weight shift upon him with the gentle rustle of her kimono and a tug at his trousers to release his hidden treasure to begin to roll the heat of her loins against the morsel.

He growled his eyes flickered with that same desire that burned at every piece of him, his hands clamped to her hips one short motion shifted her position before driving her down onto him.

Jade parted from the conjunction of their lips to release a moan as he pushed into her, though after settling for a moment her hips began to roll in a rocking motion, the weight kept her pinned.

He pressed his lips against the flesh of her neck soft and slow along her shoulder his grip relaxed giving her more control, his body now prickled with that deep desire she drew out of him like no other, wanting her in every way in that moment.

To her position the fabrics of her kimono shifted to expose the delicate slope to her neck and shoulder, gracing the surface offered Hades her magnificent cherry blosom scent, warm and fresh as spring. Her hips rolled and rocked against him, stirring her very core with the musical sounds to articulate the intense moment between the two lovers. The sense of their bodies becoming one, that is when he saw it, at first it appeared to be a trick of the eye in the light behind her, but, there was a illumination that was tinted in a soft orange, almost as though flames but not dangerously so.

His mind traced that moment his hands gripping her hips as he lifted her free of him before plunging her back against him a motion he repeated several times his eyes remained focused on the intricate designs that adorned her flesh, his mind wondering if he was just loopy with his desire for her.

Jade tilted her head back, those sounds singing to a deeper part of him, while, her intricate tattoos rippled upon her milken flesh and the fabric fell more to reveal the contours of her upper bosom. Her body tightened in the grasp around his manhood as a warmth tickled his loins and thighs from her own juices that were flowing. The flames began to flicker around her with the portion upon the head taking in a foxlike muzzle and ears in the hue, it was when she looked to him that her eyes were black with a slit of gold. Such happened for only a moment before all the flames disappeared and her eyes returned to that beautiful brown. 

His hands clamped as his eyes darkened holding her tight and firmly in place, there was the reminder now of just who he was “Fire? Wolf?” His words came slowly unsure if he was threatening her or trying to figure the moment out, his mind fought against the need to finish their moment quickly hammering against realising there was far more to her than he could ever have thought.

Jade stared at him for a long time, remaining silent and still, her lower lip trembled as though his words came as shock and disbelief. She whimpered, attempting to crawl from his lap in a rush to escape.

“You know they will hunt you and not just because you’re different” his words were soft as he released her taking enough to magically seal the door “difficult to protect you if I don’t understand Jade” his eyes softened as did his tones now

Jade stopped at the door as it was sealed, her shoulders were quivering as her back was to him. The peer of the back piece climbing over the fallen fabric, she glanced to him over her shoulder, those warm almond slanted brown eyes swimming with the tears that glistened down her face. “I just…I just wanted to be normal…I know, they will hunt me, they have before…” She remained silent again, while her shoulders quivered and the barely audible sniffs heard in her attempt to regain the emotion. “I didn’t want you to find out like this, I would never hurt you…or anyone…I’m…I’m a Kitsune.”  

“They have before, but they won’t again not if I have a say in the matter, but hiding it was a bad idea especially here, the mansion enhances magicks” Hades sighed as he stood “You can’t leave, I need you” he halted to the side of his desk watching her “But I need the truth of how you ended up in slave caravan, please?”

Jade turned slowly to face him, almost as though his words spoke to her, it was a different sight to see her cheeks stained with the moisture of tears and fear in her warm brown eyes. “I…I am a young Kitsune. I didn’t know what I was, my family kept it from me, until the day that the men came…They tried to hide me, I didn’t understand why and I was so angry with them for hiding me in a closet. I–I didn’t know what happened, I got so mad that everything around me erupted in flames. I grew so frightened, my father remained as did my brothers to protect us as we ran…” She lifted a hand to touch at her arm and shoulder. “It was my mother and I. She taught me proper etiquette of our people, for a time, we lived as maids in a house. But, that grew short when the master made advances on my mother…another fire happened. She taught me what she could but always had a problem teaching me to control the Kitsune. It was the day that we were found by slave traders…I was only six and they–they forced me to watch. They forced me to watch as the men took carnal desire in her flesh. All I could hear was her screaming and begging to let me go.” Jade crumbled to her knees and began to sob into her hands, as the flames began to grow around her as though caressing and calming her but it was brilliant, dangerous and beautiful. “They killed her and took me in, but, the leader…decided to keep my purity. But it was recent when I was sold, we were passing through Dentarius on the way to my new Master…that landed me here. To you.” She lifted her eyes, now a blazing orange.

“You can’t go out there alone Jade, I’m a little confused and hurt you perhaps failed to trust me enough to share this, or impressed by the fact you just did, you’re rare here you know that, it would explain why they tried to cut through territory where they knew we wouldn’t allow their kind if they were caught” Hades sat back against the desk “They were caught and you ended up in the one place that is actually as safe as it gets, and not just because we’re here, it’s no secret the Mansion wasn’t built up here by accident, Ceremon chose it on purpose” he stopped his train of thought as his eyes looked to her, his hands flickered as flames curled around his hands lifting he smiled softly.

“Fire is an Elcarus element, Kane choses to use it for simple things me on the other hands, I find it comforting in a fight, I’ve been known to incinerate villages just because someone upset me, in the older days of course, I will have to inform my brother, but that won’t change anything between us unless you chose otherwise” The flames flickered and vanished as he took another step toward her “Also you can’t leave while my defence spells are up, nor do you need to worry you may incinerate the house the magicks that protect this place were strengthened after Kane rebuilt the mansion. Not sure we’d survive another dragon through the roof but everything else should be safe enough” he scratched his head thoughtfully “Unless you somehow exceed the power of 3 Elcarus’ though granted right now only one is here” there was amusement in that final statement “I love you Jade, that hasn’t changed, I can’t let you go”

To the mention of hurt, Jade lowered her gaze with a familiar shameful slump of her shoulders, the vision of the flaming fox that surrounded her dimmed and subsided until it was all gone. She slowly, almost reluctantly lifted her gaze as his hand moved and she saw the flame caress his hand. Jade’s warm brown eyes had returned as he stepped closer to her, swallowing thickly behind closed lips. “I apologize, Hades. It has been hard to not speak of it, nor is it something I am proud of. The damage I can do even by accident on not being able to control my Kitsune, can kill…” She stepped forward to curl her hands within his. “You promise? I love you, Hades but I feel so ashamed for not speaking this sooner and you had to discover it like this.”

“Don’t worry you will learn to control it, in time and with guidance” Hades replied gently his hands taking hers drawing her to him “As for killing as I said here it is all but impossible, out there I can’t say for sure” His eyes settled on hers soft and still shining with the love he had only for her “A need to protect ourselves rests within us all, I apologise for perhaps overreacting it’s not every day your lover burst into flame it was a surprise”

His lips kissed her forehead gently as his arms slid around her, it was at this point he was evidently aware he was still half naked against her.

As his arms wrapped around her, she lifted her gaze to him, a hand rising to caress his face. “At times, I think, I don’t deserve you. I still have not gotten my first tail. But, I’m sure that we can work through this, together. You just have so much on your shoulders being an Elcarus that I didn’t want to be a burden to you or your family…”

“If you were a burden you wouldn’t be here” He replied simple his hands drew her back against him his lips captured hers in a deep kiss “I was bred to be where I am, I went a little crazy, I learned the value of protecting what you love, and I learned it by losing something I loved more than myself, my former wife and child being murdered almost broke me, Kane brought me back from the edge, you Jade have moved me away from the abyss I was always teetering upon, you saved me when no other ever could” his words were so soft it was hard to believe the came from him.

“I was an accident. My father made sure to remind me when I did something wrong…You see, only a female can be a Kitsune, I got it from my mother.” She remained silent while leaning her cheek against his chest, curling her fingers at his side gently. “Perhaps, one day, I would like to hear of your former wife and child. She must have been an amazing woman to capture your heart.”

“Right place, wrong time” Hades replied gently his hands now slipping along her body in thought before moving back to unfasten her kimono, his eyes set on hers with a soft look before he caught her hoisting her to the edge of the desk

The kimono wilted from upon her after the obi was removed, crumpled in silken fabric upon the floor around her ankles. Every inch of her was exposed, from the slender stem of her neck to the delicate slope of her shoulders, one arm painted with the bold reds and blacks to her koi tattoo to the peak of the back piece at her neck. The full bosom with the perfectly pink buds centred down to her birthing hips and the dark meadow that lead to the intimate garden. Her eyes remained upon his, those exotic pair with the almond slant and warmth in her hues, a small gasp of surprise left her lips to the catch and lift to set upon the edge of his desk. The sight alone had not been witness before in the office of Hades Elcarus, amidst the papers lay an exotic creature and now was even more alluring.

“The world is a strange place, each of us unique, those of us who possess power and some who know more than we could ever hope to, that’s what makes the Everlands such a wondrous place to be” Hades spoke soft as he stepped to her his body forcing her legs apart as he stepped to her “But when you find someone who fits, someone who gives and requires nothing in return, that Jade is worth fighting for no matter the risks”

[Circles & Lies] Those We Trust The Most

The sun was creeping over the horizon as she slid from her horse at the gates to Elcarus Mansion, she had never seen a structure so imposing, well aside from the abandoned Imperial Palace. The guards had crossed their spears before her as one a third stepped out.

“State your business” He snapped in a surly business like tone

“I’m here to speak with Lady Aishani, I have reports from her Ambassador with Emerald City” She replied, the guards exchanged a look before the third shrugged and they proceeded to unbar her path.

“Very well, Lady Aishani is in the Mansion, I’m sure someone can get her for you” She nodded and made her way up the cobble drive, a hand taking her horse led him off to be fed and watered as she looked, having only been on the outside a few years when she was younger, it impressed her to see the world around her.

“Can I help you?” A maid currently bringing in vegetables from the gardens called

“I wish to speak with Lady Aishani, alone” She replied

The maid eyed her for a moment before nodding “I’ll go and get her, though she is likely to be with Lord Kane”

“Alone” The woman reiterated firmly

The maid nodded and scurried off passing through the halls to the chambers of Kane and Aishani, she rapped on the door which was promptly opened by Kane, his powerful frame towering her as she dropped her gaze to the floor in respect “There is a young girl in the courtyard seeking to speak with Lady Aishani, only she requests she comes alone”

“Is she armed?” Kane replied his tone firm yet kind in some manners

“No my Lord, she looks to have rode through the night, there is word she comes from Emerald City” The maid replied quickly

Kane opened the door allowing the maid to pass by him, she promptly dropped to her knees before Aishani “I am just delivering her request” she squeaked her tone now quivering, she was all but aware bringing such a request of a newcomer without first checking her intent was dangerous in the times they now found themselves.

Aishani sat upright upon the bed, dressed in her jeans and matching corset, though, watched as the female maid entered and kneeled before her. A brow inclined to the demeanour of the female, leaning forward to capture her chin within a vice grip and forcing her to look up, Aishani inspected the woman silently then spoke. “You are more than aware in these times it is dangerous to not inquire of intent before allowing an unknown into the mansion.” She released the woman’s chin, then glanced to Kane. “I will return, my love.” Aishani stood and slide each dagger into place and proceeded to leave the room, in order to venture to the courtyard while nodding to those workers in the passing.

The young maid squealed in fear, squirreling awkwardly away from her, a slew of apologies erupting from her.

The young woman had taken point by the wall away from the entrance now crouched among the trees and the shadows as she watched the door for Aishani. She didn’t move simply stayed hidden by the shadows and her dark cloak.

Aishani stepped through the entry into the courtyard, glancing around briefly and tipping her chin a moment, then those golden hue fixed on the location of the hidden figure. She held a strength about her that was in demand of respect, the dull golden eye with the scar upon the brow extended across the bridge and to end at her cheek. In the blink of an eye, Aishani was gone but now, a whisper was spoken beside her ear. “You have one minute to explain yourself and make it count.” Aishani was now standing at her side with a slender hand poised upon the hilt of her dagger.

Slowly she rose, there was a darkness that seemed to hide just beneath the surface and yet in the same she appeared weak and fragile.

“I was sent by Master Heart” She replied softly now producing the envelope still sealed beneath her cloak “I was told to deliver to you and you alone, and what is shared between us must remain so for the immediate future” he words were soft barely above a whisper as she suspected she was been followed. There was a definite air of mistrust in almost everything she did.

Aishani tilted her head a slight, while her golden hue remained fixed on the girl, a brow inclined. She extended her fingerless gloved hand to procure the extended envelope, Aishani considered her for a time in silence. A rolling purr dripped past her lips, while the expression never quite reached her eye. “A street rat…turned worker.” Aishani commented idly. But, broke the seal to open the contents in order to read.

“Me or heart?” She quipped back softly “He saved me when no one else would, I owe him my life” her hands rested at her front, one arm inside the other keeping her hands both warm and hidden as she watched Aishani quiet now as she contemplated things.

“You.” Aishani stated simply, though, turned her attention down to the letter in her hands.

“Yes, though truthfully I lay with Heart, so not quite the same he and I, still he trusts me and sent me to you because he trusts you, there are many games been played none of which can end well. But he has spent his life keeping Emerald City from the brink of civil war” He voice remained low barely above that whisper her eyes never once stopped searching the areas beyond them, her poise always set to run at a moment’s notice “He fears for Emerald City but I fear for him, he is smart and positions himself well with information and friends but that won’t keep him safe forever” her eyes fell to the letter a soft smile seeing Hearts writing.

My Dear Lady Aishani

I have seemingly run free of options and hands to play in what I fear is a political war designed to give one house more power than another, the dwarves wish to remain below ground, while establishing trade with the outside world that would put their very good supply of resources to good use, iron, mythril, diamond all are plentiful in nearby veins and mines. This would allow them to bring in resources such as grains and vegetables that have become difficult to grow below ground without the Dragon Magi’s assistance.

The Dragon Magi have their own agenda selling their power to whomever it seems fits their agenda the best, what that is truthfully I cannot say, and it bothers me, it is not through a lack of trying I can assure you.

The elves seem to have a power issue of their own with their healing abilities severely limited right at this moment, I would ascertain this is linked to an issue with the balance of the realm but I was unaware of what until Kane revealed Saranthas death, a situation with deep reaching consequences, I fear the elves would be driven out once they fall short of their usefulness, the dragon magi can employ healing magicks but who would trust power drawn from the darkest reaches of the mind?

And the Drow argue among themselves, they have forced Sasnistra from her place on the Elders though that has more to do with her taking Krystal as a lover in times when their mistrust of anyone named Elcarus was high, but she remained with limited influence which in recent days has all but gone.

The Drow seek to follow the prophecy of the past age “With the new world comes our leader, not born of the Everlands but of home, blood of the true Drow folws within. They will bring us from the dark and deliver us to our rightful home” Ordinarily I would not worry on such things but I fear some may try and reach out to Z’ress thinking that you as Lady Aishani Elcarus would not serve to deliver them home. The rest seek to install you as Empress and set you with complete control of Emerald City and the people, as you can see I have laid out very tense issues and dark lines and I bid you tread carefully.

There is a good chance that should anyone discover what I have done my life would be in grave danger and while I continue to try and keep the peace my welcome wears ever thinner, should it come to a choice between my life and politics then history will always serve to show I serve myself and for this I sincerely apologise, I have sent this letter with my guardian Anya and I pray you treat her well, she is smart and she is stronger than she will ever know, she is also the last remaining link to Empress Aisla, don’t mistake this as a claim to the throne sadly she has none, but she was Aislas child aide charged with duties such as morning routines and is the only living witness to Aislas murder. I only mention this because she will be your only option to forcibly take control if the need arises, though she does not know I am aware of this detail and would prefer for the moment it remains this way.

It is time my lady I wrap this up and I ask that what is shared here is kept between you and I, I know my friend well and when it comes to choosing between protecting you and doing what is right for the Emerald City there is no doubt Kane would bring the entire force of The Everlands to bear to protect you from this. You may want no part of this yourself and see fit to resign them to Z’ress and their fate I pray you don’t they truly undeniably need your leadership, your best choice in my opinion as a friend is to take control by becoming Empress, you can the reinstall the Elders to rule in your stead made of people less prone to rash decisions and a more balanced approach to what is right not only for them but their return to the outside as well. Whatever your choice relay it to Anya to return to me, I wish you safe and that you stay well.

Stay Safe

Heart

Aishani inhaled deeply closing the letter, while looking to Anya for a long while in silence. Her one golden eye brilliant while the other was dull, she appeared to be inspecting the girl. She then simply nodded as though her observation contracted something pleasing to her and Aishani’s lips curled in that enigmatic smirk. “I see. In this time, I am afraid, no one is safe. And even those that were thought safe, were undeniably not for long.” She sighed while methodically tearing up the letter in long strips then crossways. “You can tell Heart, I will do what must be done and to keep his head attached to his shoulders for as long as possible. I am to be wed soon and this needs to be dealt with before such. I am not one for prophecies but I have noticed that in this realm anything can come to fruition. I will never abandoned my people, yet, understand that there is one person I trust in this world and that is my soon to be husband. I know how to talk to him and will conveyed what I must to be ensured to arrive as swiftly as possible. I will take this by the horns and deal with it.”

“He is afraid of Kane bringing more harm than good, in his desire to protect you, much as I desire to protect Heart” Anya replied softly her vice trembled at the thought of things to come and answers “But I need to go, I will relay your words and I wish you safe travels milady”

Anya bowed before taking a step back her eyes still scanning their surroundings intently “Take care agents of darkness may lurk in the shadows”

Aishani tipped her chin to Anya, while she spoke, considering this small female. “Do not fret, Shadow will see you safely home. She has followed you from the Emerald City.” She stepped back and waved a hand dismissively to Anya, turning to take her leave and make her way into the estate with a sway in her hips and a purpose in her steps. Aishani knew what had to be done, yet, it was difficult to keep this from Kane and she knew exactly why such was requested. But, she returned to their room and opened the door with a close behind. Walking to the fire of the hearth and throwing the paper within.

Kane had remained within their room until her return, his eyes now set on the parchment as it disappeared among the flames his head tipped to the side curious.

“Is everything …..” he stopped short of himself for a moment his words curious “Problem?”

Aishani leaned against the mantle with her back to him, her eyes fixed to the burning papers being devoured by the hungry flames. “In a manner of speaking. I have a difficult decision to make, one of which is a concern of your actions in regards to such, my love.”

Kane eyed her for a moment then looking back into the courtyards below “Word from Emerald City?” he asked softly “Let’s face it there are few reasons you would be concerned with my actions, though I had already given both them and you I would do nothing to endanger them”

His words were soft and yet curious as to why things were as they were “You know I have your back my love, forever and always”

Aishani pushed from her lean against the mantel, she moved to look out the window now, holding her arms tightly against her. “Heart is concerned that you will not look beyond protecting me, for the best of the Emerald City. I did what I had to do to ensure our safety on leaving the city, but, it appears things are turning for the worst. Sasnistra no longer is part of the Elders because of her once ties to Krystal…He risked a lot to send word to me on the matter. I cannot have you send in any army, Kane. Give me your word.” She turned to look at him. “This was to remain just between Heart and I, but, I do not see keeping this from you, my love. We share everything with each other and this is no different. He suggests that I return to be Empress…until the Council can be stabilized and lead the people. There is a political war going on that is designed to give one house more power than the other. The healing ability of the elves is not as it should be due to Sarantha’s death…only the Magi have the strength. ” She felt for the first time, frustration lift to her with the only expression her fists pounding against the wall. “He fears that…following the prophecy, some will search out Z’ress. We cannot turn our backs on my people, Kane. I will not allow that to happen again. ‘With the new world comes our leader, not born of the Everlands but of home, blood of the true Drow flows within. They will bring us from the dark and deliver us to our rightful home.’ Please, my love, you have to trust me…no matter what comes of this.” She chuckled darkly. “At least Heart was honest, should it come to his life or politics…it would be himself that would be his option.”

“With his choices in life he will always serve himself first, the only time he refused to run was during the Dragon Wars, ironically only because there was nowhere to run” Kane rolled his shoulders, feeling the tension that sat within them as result of playing politician. Quietly he pushed down the instinct to react his mind sorting through their options.

“The elves power waning is not unknown to me their power is rooted in the realm itself, which right now is in pain, without our High Healer they are stuck. The Dragon Magi, forgive me my love but they will serve themselves one way or another, they work to their own agenda and I ask only that you do not trust them for a single second to do so, would only invite trouble” He crossed to her his hand resting on her shoulder “You came here to escape the world you were raised in only to be thrown headlong into a life you had no desire for, but you must protect your people because their alternative is worse than the exile and abuse they have already endured. In those cells I gave you my word I wouldn’t raise a hand against them, unless they threaten you directly, that hasn’t changed. I will ride at your side from this day to our last, I will guide you where I can” He smiled softly “After all I’ve done this before, I brought Dentarius independence from the High Council and from Elvera, if you know the odds you’re playing it’s easier to change the rules”

“As for Empress when did that become the desired point, I thought they had elected you to the council, I assumed in place of Sasnistra?” He looked into the flames for a moment “I will help where I can, and with what I can, I’m not out to cause trouble unless my options in not doing so are removed”

Aishani listened to Kane quietly, glancing over her shoulder to him as his hand rested upon the surface. “That is what I am concerned with, this may very well place myself in danger. But, I need to know, that you will trust in my decision and not turn the Dentarius or Everlands army upon them. Dangers are a part of my life, even as you said being an Elcarus. I have learned to accept it. As far as Empress, they are following the prophecy, the last thing we would need is for them to go to Z’ress. The dwarfs as we know work with rare metals but cannot grow produce like we can on the surface it’s an easy bartering system that can be arranged for them to grow used to the uppercrust.” She paused, “I will need to go back to the Emerald City.”

“I trust you Aishani, and I’m at your side that doesn’t change” Kane replied firmly his eyes watching her for a moment “You have my word, if you didn’t trust that fact you wouldn’t have told me” he shrugged softly as he slid his blade into place at his back collecting his bow from the trunk.

“Most of the snows are gone, the paths are muddy but we should make it by nightfall” He opened the door and halted “Providing there are no further surprises for us, which” there was amusement in his voice just for a moment “We’re Elcarus, so we just need to pay attention”

Aishani gathered her pack to situate it and then slip a cloak on over her, arranging her weapons from the engagement daggers to her original, slipping into a pair of boots. “Yes. Let us go then, my love. But, first we need to explain to Aerian and Hades to NOT interfere this is a delicate situation.”

Kane nodded softly “I will leave strict instructions, they will have their own duties to attend anyway as the winter passes, they will allow us to conduct our business without their intervention” Kane smiled as he watched her, finally he stepped into the hallway.

As they made their way to the stables Kane stopped one of the passing guards revealing instructions to him to relay to Hades and Aerian respectively, the guard nodded and made off to deliver those instructions. The stable hand was now bringing them fresh horses.

Aishani gathered the reigns of the horses from the stable hand, offering a smile and leading Kane his own steed. Her golden eyes looking to him with that all too familiar smirk upon her plush lips, while slipping her foot in the stirrup and lifting to the saddle with ease. “Well, let’s get this done. We still have a wedding to focus on.”

Kane swung up onto his horse with ease and a smile “That we do my love, but we have enough time to deal with this and get home, besides Elsa would kill me if we wasted all her hard work” A snap of the reigns set the horse to moving toward the gates.

[Circles & Lies] The Darkness That Hides

Heart could see across the dark sea from his point on the mountain ridge, the air crisp and cold, his dark blonde hair flowed in the winds though was quickly been slapped into place by the driving rains, the rumble of thunder overhead only served to remind him the realm around them was still very much in pain.

“My lord, they are wondering where you’ve gotten to, Adria is refusing to pay her bar tab again” Called the young woman from behind him as Heart turned he forced a smile

“Doesn’t she always” He mused softly as he made his way toward her “I suspect this is some other kind of protest?”

“Indeed my lord, she claims you sold out to High Council, a servant to the empress” Shrugged the woman darkly “But you did set yourself up for that”

Heart eyed her for a moment before he tugged at his jacket and made his way inside, the sweet scents of the outside world quickly overridden by those of the subterrainian Emerald City below, as he made his way down the stone stairs that served as passage above he crossed to the Inn, leapt upon by a rather fierce looking drow who cornered him.

“Heart my love, they say I have to pay for you, remind them who I am” Her breath heavy with ale caused Heart to shrink down sliding under arm and waling back behind her

“Adria, you know as well as anyone I come with a price, now pay up and go get some sleep before the City Guards throw you in a cell again” He sighed softly “I appreciate your position but still I have a living to make”

“You would think a Council dog would be well paid to begin with” Spat the drow woman tossing a pouch of gold to Heart who simply caught it and tossed it to the Elf behind the bar.

“I’m no Council Dog” he snapped darkly “I am ambassador at best and a role I plan to give up the moment the Empress is in power”

“Why are we getting an Empress who plans to never be in the city?” Adria snapped back now scratching her dark curls slowly

“Because it’s foretold, a drow not of our world will be the one to lead you all home, or to the surface, I forget I was never good at retaining details” Heart replied as he rang the bell to signal it was closing time of his establishment.

It took a short while but final the inn was empty with patorns returning home or to their room, as the young elven woman now pottered around with nightly cleaning duties.

“Anya leave it for tonight, go get some rest, be here early” Heart snapped wearily, the elven woman looked awkward for a moment before she bowed and left.

“You’re going to arise suspicion Heart” Sasnistra snapped cool as she made her way toward Heart having entered the Inn from the rear entrance, she slipped behind the bar retrieving a bottle of wine and two glasses promptly filling them and placing one by Heart.

“They are already suspicious Sasnistra, more than they let on” Heart replied his voice cold yet not in anger but the toll everything had taken upon him recently

“It was you and Krystal who began all this, to change the world we came to call home, Krystal my beloved something no Drow would have ever thought possible, to love the family responsible for our exile all those years ago, and now we are so close to finishing all this, taking the power from the Council” Sasnistra hadn’t time to finish as Heart cut across her with his words

“Do you realise how pissed off she is going to be when you hand her complete control of Emerald City? You told her she would be a council member and aid with the ruling of this place, no dictate the damn laws as a whole, and Kane you seriously thing he is going to give up the woman he loves? Or stand by when some idiot tries to assassinate her? He will spill the blood of the entire city when it comes to protecting her” Heart growled

“We can control Lord Kane, bind his power we did it last time” Sasnistra replied a very matter of fact way with her words

“He let you think you had control, trust me he was never in danger from you, he is as dangerous a predator as you will ever know, couple that with an ice cold need to protect and you will pay if it goes wrong, he doesn’t lose, he beat down the Queen of the Everlands over a need to protect you seem to overlook that fact” Heart shook his head as he drained the contents of his glass “Nothing about this is going to end well Sasnistra which I wonder if that isn’t your plan to begin with”

“From chaos comes stability Heart, we need to protect our home, and our people especially if stories of Z’ress are to be believed, her objectives sound far more in line with the High Councils we cannot allow for that” Sasnistra replied the same cool collected tone

“There is that” Heart admitted quietly

“Then keep yourself together, write your report to our Empress and inform her the coronation is to be in two cycles, and when the new moon rises we will have the power we need to protect our home, our families and our heritage, you owe me Heart let’s not forget that” Sasnistra placed her glass down with a resounding clink before retreating from the Inn in the same manor she had entered Heart was left with his own thoughts.

“You’re playing a dangerous game my Lord” The young Elven woman stated softly as she appeared from the darkness beneath the stairs

“And you’re going to get me killed hiding so close” Heart bit back

“Not likely” The girl replied softly “Besides I’m no threat to them, I have no power, I have no standing and only have a job because you took pity on a sewer rat”

“I was a sewer rat once Anya, it isn’t pity it’s the natural order, you’re the only person who has nothing to gain by staying around, and if you had an agenda …. I’d be aware of it by now” Heart shrugged softly as he stood, immediately Anya was at his side aiding him off to his room

An hour or so had passed as Heart had finished writing up a report of tonights events opting for once to go with the truth as a whole, it may cost him his life but Aishani had to know what they could be walking into. He also pleaded for Aishani to not act on this information until a threat one way or the other had been determined.

He also add ‘With the new world comes our leader, not born of the Everlands but of home, blood of the true Drow flowing within, bringing us from the dark and finally delivering us to our rightful home’ A piece of the prophecy that had held Emerald City from civil war for so many generations. Finally he sealed it with his own seal and passed it to Anya.

“Take it, deliver it and bring me the reply. Trust no one until it is in her hands do your hear me?”

“Of course My Lord” She replied softly

“Go” Were his final words as he climbed into bed to rest

Anya ascended the hidden stairs beneath the Inn that led to tunnels as she raced through them finally breaking into the land outside. She pulled a horse from the stables and within moments vanished into the darkness riding for Dentarius.