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Alexander

"That which does not kill me, needs to learn how to finish the job." *Deceased*

0 · 307 views · located in Valcrest

a character in “Shadows of The Forgotten”, as played by Mr_Doomed

Description

Gender: Male

Age: 53 (Obitus 3, 2502)

Affiliation: A member of the Salamanders (Seerow is fine with this)

Enlightenment: N/A

Description: Alexander is a man who appears to have taken a lot in his life. A man who has fought many battles with scars and other severe markings to prove it. He is just above 6 feet and weighs in as a bit overweight due to his habits before he became a Salamander and even for a bit after he became one. He has long brown hair with some grey patches mixed in here and there that seems to be appearing quicker than he remembered it. He also has dark brown eyes with heavy bags underneath them. His hands and around his lips are stained a yellowy colour from the habit of smoking he has taken up to distract him from his old habits. The most defining marks he has is a new tattoo on his neck of a man being stabbed in the back and an eye patch covering his left eye.
He is usually in leather armour for protection as the world has become a darker place in the last three years. Not much else to say about him.

Theme Song Fly By Night- Rush

Personality

To be blunt, Alexander is rather blunt. He likes to get to the point. He never beats around the bushes about anything. Besides that, he is friendly and easy to get along with. Most tell him that he could make a great leader, but he insists that it would never happen. Things for the most part are simple for this man and he seems to like it that way. The only thing he really gets defensive about is his past and tends to shun people who try to question it in any way. He's the kind of guy who likes to stay under the radar. He's an avid smoker.

Equipment

For the longest time, he used most any kind of sword in his combat, but just recently before joining the Salamanders has taken up archery and is rather good at it. He also has his own horse that he'd stolen from Blackpond that he brings with him. I don't know if that's equipment, but I'm putting it here anyways. It's a white horse with a black mane and a black patch on it's nose.

History

The only part of his life that he ever talks about is after he joined the Salamanders. It was about a year ago that he got in a fight with bandits during one of his archery sessions in the woods. He was beaten to an inch of his life and then stabbed in the gut, thankfully low enough to only cause minor internal damage, but he was still bleeding profusely and soon passed out. When he woke up, there was a young woman who was tending to his wounds. Morrigan, for some strange reason, she had decided to save his life. To repay her for it, he promissed to join the Salamanders. In that time, he has become a honorable and loyal servant to the group.
He is one of those guys who doesn't do much eventful, so that is all that has really happened to him, and as much as he will talk about.

So begins...

Alexander's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lamya Character Portrait: Ella Page Character Portrait: Alexander

0.00 INK

There was just something about Lamya. Everyone who knew her hated her in some way or another for some reason, but at the same time, if you knew her well enough, you had to have a certain amount of respect for the woman. From the way that she moved around Valcrest to the way that she influenced the people around her. It was almost like she knew the people of Valcrest as well as she knew herself. Or maybe it was because she knew her self better than everyone else in Valcrest. She at least knew what she believed in. But what did she believe in? Whatever it was that she did believe in, it allowed her to host a party for all the important people of Valcrest, despite the fact that they probably all dislike her in some way.
Rita sat at the top of the stairs asking herself some of these questions as she watched Lamya talking castle workers around the ballroom to set up for the party which was less than twelve hours away. From the distance the smells from the kitchen attested to the hard work going on in there. Around her, people busily bringing out the finest carpets and decorations for the finest ball that Valcrest have seen in several hundred years. Not even the great balls of Newhaven, before the false king, were anything in comparison to what this was going to be. If historians didn’t write about this party, Rita was going to be shocked. Especially so, since Rita believed that Lamya had a few ulterior motives to this ball, which was yet another reason why Rita was surprised that people were actually going to show up to this thing.
With Rita deep in her thoughts, she almost forgot that she was supposed to be keeping an eye on people to make sure that no shady dealings were going on in the arrangement of the party. The instant that she realized this, she shot up and stood guard. She couldn’t actually help how absent minded she was lately. The thought of what Lamya had said to her more than a month ago was still on her mind. Lamya could tell too. Every once in a while, while Rita would be doing things around the castle in the past month, Lamya would walk up to her and ask her if everything was all right. Rita would say that she was fine, but she knew that Lamya knew better. It just really bothered her to know that there was someone even above Lamya in all of this and that she couldn’t do anything about the predicament. She was stuck in her position, serving a king who doesn’t deserve the throne; one who is just a puppet to Lamya, who herself was just a puppet to an unknown leader.
It would make sense that the leader of an organization which likes keeping its secrets would want to be hidden by the cover of shadows while others took what seemed to be the leading role. Would Lamya ever let herself be under control of someone else? Would she even be able to be tamed? Her wild chaotic nature seemed to say otherwise, but it could always just be a show… a very deadly one. What is an assassin but deadly? Suicidal? Maybe not so much. Rita had heard of what she had done in that random house in the woods just a couple of days back. How she had stabbed clean through herself with a blade. The only reason she knew this was because she was told about it after she arrived back home. Despite what the new leader of the White Shadows did to save Lamya, she still had a scar from what she had done. She had asked Rita to bring her a healthy body and preferably one without any scars on them.

Flashback- A couple of days ago
Rita simply nodded to Lamya at the request and walked off to satisfy her duty. It was late in the day and she really didn’t want to be doing any of these pointless duties, especially since she was due to be in her room in ten minutes for a discussion with one of her generals about pointless battle plans for pointless battles which would, needless to say, never happen. It wasn’t much fun being a commander of an army that sat around collecting fat, but then again, nearly three years of peace was a nice thing as well. It could be said that a commander that does their job right isn’t doing their job at all. That is definitely how Rita felt on occasion. The meeting would probably only last about ten minutes and then she would be able to say that she was finished with her duties for the day. With this task that she had been set out on, however, she could be at it for a while longer than she wished. No early nights where she would get to sit at a bar or other establishment and just enjoy the rest of the day with her fellow bar mates.
She walked down the corridors, looking around for a person who fit the description. The sad thing about Blackpond, however, was you weren’t really a citizen until you had a scar of some sort. It didn’t matter if it was from a simple fall off a tree or if it was from something more serious. You would have to be locked up in the castle all your life to be perfectly saved from any scaring. That was why Rick liked to take the maids… then she got an idea.
She started a walking her way to the king’s room. A walk that always reminded her of her dear friend Hastings. It was so terrible to walk in and see his dying body there and know that there was nothing that she could do. She cleared her head before walking through the door. That is when she heard Rick in the room.
“You are going to jump out that window by the time I get back or you will wish that you were dead.”
Rick walked out of the room. He looked over at Rita with a large, sadistic smile across his face. Rita just sneered back at him and said, “or you will wish you were dead? That’s your best threat?”
“Hey, it works.” He said and continued walking down the hall to wherever he was going.
Rita walked into the kings room, expecting to find a woman who was half beaten already. The only reason that she wouldn’t be beaten would be because she was ‘fresh meat’. Luckily for Rita, she was. This just meant that she was sparing one less maid’s life. At least, she would be for now. It would only be a matter of time Rick got himself a new toy.
“Oh, thank you! Thank you! You’ve come to save me.” The maid said from the bed. It was clear that she had the idea that Rita was there to save her. That wasn’t exactly the case. It was a shame that she couldn’t bring herself to break the news to her. The maid ran up to her and got down on her knees right in front of Rita. I’ve heard of the things that Rick does to us in here. He locks us away in here and does those terrible things until he drives us mad enough to kill ourselves. I knew someone would come to my rescue, I just knew it.”
Rita didn’t say anything. She just grabbed the woman’s arm and picked her up from off the floor then started walking back to Rita. The woman kept going on about how it was her luckiest day, since she had been locked away. That was probably true.
When she made it back to Lamya, she saw exactly what she expected to see. There was another one of the assassins there. One that she rarely saw unless there was some sort of issue regarding health. It was absolutely clear what was going to happen. The man with no name walked up to the maid and quickly offed her, right in front of Rita. Now the maid would not have to suffer through the unspeakable pains that would have occurred to her in Rick’s room. The assassin’s eyes glowed a bright gold and then he placed his hand over top of Lamya’s scar. In a matter of seconds, the scar was gone. All it took was the life of the young maid to do that. To fix a scar.


Reality
“Rita.” Lamya’s voice called from the bottom of the stairs. “Could I see you for just a brief moment?”
“Are we talking about people taking weapons at the door? If so, I’ve already got that settled.” Rita asked.
Lamya looked shocked. “No! Don’t do that. There’s no fun if there’s no weapons. That’s not what I want to talk about though. Come!”
Rita, with a slight hesitation did as she was asked of and walked down the stairs. She didn’t know what she should ever expect with Lamya and despite knowing her for three years; she still wasn’t used to it.
“What is it Lamya.”
“Not here.” Lamya quickly shushed her. She looked around a bit and then motioned to the next room where everyone had cleared out of since it was ready for the party.
They walked into the room, decorated in almost entirely green and white. Even the waxes of the candles on the chandeliers were green. The tables where the food and drinks would be placed were green and even the instruments that the string quartet would be playing were green. It was rather impressive as well. The room had been decorated with several emerald encrusted armour plates.
“Are you ready yet?” Rita asked, sounding rather frustrated with the whole ordeal. All she could smell off of Lamya was trouble.
“Hold on.” Lamya said as one by one, thirteen men appeared from nowhere in the room. She only recognized a couple.
“Hello Rick, Lazarus, Sandere… and the rest of you.” Then she chuckled a bit. “This is it? This is the Shadow’s Conflict?”
“Looks can be deceiving.” Rick smiled.
“That’s for sure. If I saw you on the road, I’d think you were a respectable man.” Rita said with a sliding chuckle.
Rick looked like he was about to draw his sword, but the eyes of one of the assassin’s flashed green for a moment and he almost instantly calmed. He wasn’t sure what had just happened to calm him so quickly, but she wasn’t exactly sure she wanted to know. “If you are planning to assassinate me, could you do it somewhere that will make less of a mess? There’s going to be guests in this room for in less than 12 hours.”
“We aren’t going to kill you yet. You are still yet useful to us. In fact, that is why I wanted to speak to you.” Lamya said in a most peculiar tone that almost sounded relaxed and normal. “You see, our boss will be here tonight to join the party. He would like nothing more than to see a number of people who will be attending the party dead. Several of them being us. Others include people from Newhaven as well. The killing of these people would bring about a full out war in Valcrest that you, as well as I know will not be winnable.”
The idea was concerning to Rita. She believed what Lamya was saying. If Lamya was crazy enough to do the things that she did, the person in charge of her would have to be insane enough to start a war that would bring Blackpond to its knees. There was no surprise there. What Lamya said next was a surprise. “I want to see peace just as much as everyone else…” Then it made sense, “Of course, that isn’t saying much lately. Regardless, I’d like to see something else other than the typical battle. Those get boring. That is why I need you to help me from stopping this man from killing anyone.”
“And How will I be able to tell who he is.”
“I’ll tell you what he looks like”…

Newhaven
“The carriage is… uhhh, Ms. Page?”
Ella was in one of the many rooms of the castle practicing for the next time that Evin arrived for a practice session. When the stable boy walked in to tell her that the horse and carriage was ready to set out for Blackpond, she was reciting the creation story while balancing on a small side table and swinging a sword, all while wearing her ball gown. It must have been a weird sight. Ella stopped what she was doing when she finally realized the stable boy and jumped off the table. She sat herself down on the chair and put her shoes back on.
“Tell me something. How is it that you were allowed anywhere near me? Security has been much higher the past couple of months you know and now that I’m going to the ball, I’m sure something like this, from a security standpoint, is absolutely deplorable.” Ella asked as she put her second shoe on. The boy remained silent, and for good reason too. The kid wasn’t supposed to be there, but what bragging rights there would be for the rest of the stable boys when he said he got to speak to the queen. How very much more interesting it would be when he told them what they witnessed her doing. “It’s fine. I know you aren’t supposed to be here and I won’t tell anyone. Just don’t do it again, because I will remember your face. Thank you.” The boy started to leave. “Wait!”
The boy stopped dead in his tracks. He turned around, with a bit of fear in his face, but as well, there was also the slightest bit of excitement. It was as if there was a sparkle in his eyes, not one of enlightenment. Rather, it was one that can only be described as the sighting of a spirit. Something that she could remember seeing in herself every now and again when she was younger. She still had something similar—gumption—it just wasn’t the same. She missed that same sort of spirit. There was only a few things that could bring her to that sort of spirit. It wasn’t something that she could share with people. No one would ever approve. Ella couldn’t afford to not have approval. Then again, she needed to tell someone.
“Come here kid.” The kid followed the order. “When I do this, you have to promise me that you will not go around telling people what you walked in on me doing. Promise?” The boy nodded. “Good.”
Ella walked right up to the boy. Because of the shoes she was wearing, she seemed unusually tall and towered over this little boy. She leaned down as best she could until she was right in his face. Then she grabbed the kid’s chin and twisted his head slightly so she could kiss the kid on the cheek. “Now there will be a good story to tell your friends. Get out of here before someone see’s you.”
The kid still didn’t say anything. He was in too much shock to even know what to do. With that, he smiled a wide smile and ran out of the room. There was no doubt he was going off to tell as many people as he could of what had happened to him.
With that, she was done with her practicing and ready to leave for the ball. She walked into the next room which she had dedicated to her own personal armoury. It was a small room. Almost just a walk in closet, but it was filled with several weapons that were perfect for a queen. Not all of these weapons were made for her however. There had been weapons made for several different occasions and instances for several different queens among many different reigns. She grabbed two different weapons. One was a small clip in her hair. It was meant to be decorative, but underneath the plume of hair, there was a considerable amount of blade to be found. It was nothing too good; just a simple poking weapon. It would do. The other one was a sword which was found under all her cloathing. She had her dress made specifically so that there would be a fold over a part of her hoop skirt that was not covered in fabric. All she had to do was move the flap and reach down her skirt for the holstered sword. She took the sword she wanted to use and then slipped it down the flap.
Now she was ready to go. She folded the flap back to its spot and walked out of the armoury, out of the next room and into the halls. Waiting there was Conrad. He wasn’t dressed in any of his usual guard uniform. Instead, he was dressed in his finest dress cloth. “What’s this?” Ella asked.
Conrad placed himself in the ground and stood tall. “I’m going to the ball.”
Ella was still a little confused. Enough so that she had to stifle a little laugh. “I think they’re only letting good looking people in.”
“I’m good looking and I know you think I am too so don’t even try to lie.”
Ella blushed. “Well I guess that’s true.”
“Anyways, I was looking for someone else to go the ball with. There are a lot of noble girls from Newhaven who seem to be going, but none of them are the Queen… I mean, none of them are Ella.”
“Yeah, yeah. Come along.”

------

In Newhaven Market, several things were taking place. Most of them were common day occurrences such as candid conversations, crafty conversations, conversations that just don’t make sense. There were many a new deals going down and many an old. Books, clothing, shoes, food and many other miscellaneous things were being sold. The typical thieves were out doing their thievery and the swindlers their swindling. Out of all the typical things that were going on however, there was one thing going on that could not be described in any other way but peculiar. Anyone who was to witness the whole thing take place wouldn’t exactly describe it as anything but regular, but to those involved, much more was going on.
The Queen had left for Blackpond a few hours ago. It was exactly where Alexander wanted to be in the next couple of hours as well. He just needed to be assured that when he walked in the ball, he would be ready. He wanted to be gone a couple of hours ago, shadowing the Queen. He didn’t really mind, but he was really hoping to get into the thing on time.
“You’ve already delayed me over two hours, Wyatt. I need to be at that party so just let me know that I have my people and where they are.” Alexander said in annoyance, lighting up another cigarette. The twelfth he’d had that day.
“I give you money, and you give me nothing in return and then I give you people. How do I expect to get something in return?” Wyatt said.
Alexander flicked the ash off his cigarette. “I gave the money back because I couldn’t find a large enough groups of swords for hire for my liking. Now, I’ve given you back that money, in case you don’t remember. Now I’m looking for swords for hire from you and I will guarantee you that you will be able to get your influence back in Blackpond Castle. This is the deal.”
“And if I don’t get any influence back?”
“I’ll guarantee you that you won’t. Now where will I find them?”
“They are all in the market right now.”
“In the market right now? Are you kidding me? Have you looked around you,” Alexander flicked his cigarette in the direction we wanted to bring Wyatt’s attention to. “I swear that person over there is a White Knight.”
Before Alexander could finish his sentence, the people that Wyatt had found him were there with them. “We’re fine.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Evin Bana Character Portrait: Dominic Adams Character Portrait: Lamya Character Portrait: Ella Page Character Portrait: Alexander

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Some would find it crazy, others, just plain stupid. Leaving a woman all alone in the most dangerous place inhabited in Valcrest while she was being threatened by an insanely rich, insane woman. Most people would like to stay with that threatened person no matter what if they were supposed to protect them. The only thing was that Evin had already sent her to the party. She was one of the first of the guests to arrive. Evin had nothing to worry about. If there were Wolves at the party, Evin suspected that they would be a little cautious before making their move. It would just seem too easy.
The reason that Evin left was because he wanted to go wait for Crystal. He didn’t want to waste time at a stupid and annoying party that was bound to be filled with hellish thoughts and hellish people who would be willing to act on those thoughts. He didn’t want to wait for Crystal there. It wouldn’t be nearly as fun as waiting all alone with his own thoughts would be. Of course, he wasn’t going to allow his presence to be known to Crystal right away. He wasn’t even sure if she would visit where he was waiting for her, but he expected that she might be compelled to go just for nostalgia’s sake.
He perched himself on the top of a roof near the building he was waiting at. It was the building that he recalled as the place that Crystal’s father died. What a great man he was, and to think that he would be killed so heartlessly, by Perry of all people. In that moment, the fate of the Wolfpack and the rest of Valcrest was sealed. Without that moment, it would be very unclear to foretell the events that transpired after. There would be far less motivation to go looking for the False King. Theron might not have been as motivated to join the Wolfpack and the Wolves might have actually gone into a regression as they might have been too afraid to re-enter Newhaven for a while without some sort of excuse. It was a sad thought, but not even Dani would have had the courage to face off against Newhaven without merit. From experience, Evin knew how much of a threat Newhaven was to the Wolves. With the state that Newhaven was in at the moment however, the Wolfpack could easily take down the entire infrastructure of the city if they wished to and after that, Blackpond would probably easily do the rest if they really wanted to.
Perched just out of sight, Evin watched as Crystal walked up to the old Wolfpack Inn. Just as he had expected. The attraction to places with bitter histories always seemed to be too much for most people in Valcrest to handle. She stood there, probably having similar thoughts to Evin’s about that night and how things changed because of it. About her life the way it is was now and finally, about her father. The great man with a million great and insightful thoughts.
He forgot the reason he had been waiting for Crystal in the first place. His thoughts of Bastian had distracted him for a moment. Obviously that moment was just one brief moment too long. He saw Dastan walk up behind him just as he was about to exit from his perch. While it wasn’t the worst thing in the world that Dastan was there, he rather he had a chance to talk to Crystal in private. Crystal to him was his confidant. She was someone who he could share anything with. That absolute trust in her and her decisions is what allowed her to talk openly to her. It didn’t matter if it was a negative or a positive; she would listen and would only tell those who needed to know as to the matters which he discussed with her. It was much like the constant trust that everyone could have in Time. No matter how much someone could attempt to change things, Time would continue, unwrinkled and pure. Nothing could contaminate the trust that people had in mind. Dastan, to Evin was more like water. He couldn’t exactly do go on without him, but is easy to contaminate. He didn’t want to discuss anything with Dastan nearby.
He continued to watch Crystal and Dastan until the two of them were gone. For about ten minutes after, he got off from his perch and made his way to the party.
At the entrance to the castle, there were six guards right at the door to welcome him in. On each side of the wide path that lead to the door, there were about five or six guards at attention. To any untrained eye, that would be all that anyone would see. This was a mistake. At the lowest windows and the lower two towers that protected the entrance, there were several men trying their best to be out of sight while still being ready to shoot their crossbows at anyone who even tried to enter. Even harder for the eye to catch, several hundred feet, directly above him at the top of the castle were just more archers ready to air their crossbows directly down on anyone who would try something funny. Finally, there were the true shadows of this party. Those were the shadows of what he could only imagine were the group that was known as the Shadow’s Conflict. Ten people who believed that they could hide themselves in plain sight. They were very skilled in the art of blending. Behind the stationary guards, in with some of the groups enjoying fresh air before entering the party, there was even one that was so perfectly still that only the blinking of his eyes is what tipped Evin off to the fact that he was standing there. The most deadly part about these assassins was that he knew that the moment they decided to come into the party, they will not be recognizable at all. People who were this skilled at blending in, that the moment they blended into the party, it would be nearly impossible to discern them from a regular guest. Evin was certain that they would bring him a good show when the actual party got started.
Evin gave a quick wave to the one who had blinked to let the rest know that he meant business and he wasn’t going to allow himself to be tricked by any simple mind game that they would plan to dish out at this party. He would be cautious, as they were capable of almost killing Crystal, but he wanted to show them that he had gained the first edge on them and not the other way around like they had expected would happen. He instantly saw the heads of the nine other assassins look his way when this happened. Evin then looked at each individual one of them. He placed his finger on his temple and tapped it a couple of times in a gesture of knowledge. Evin instantly regretted this decision. The assassins didn’t do anything, but he knew that by being so cocky, he was putting a huge target on his back.
He continued his walk down the path until he reached the six guards that were there to welcome him in. Shaking one of their hands, he spoke, “I’m so happy to have been invited to this party. I know you didn’t do it personally, but I’m still glad and would like to show my appreciation. Now I understand that there are no weapons checks here as I’ve seen a couple before me who weren’t even checked for weapons. You guys are so considerate, you know that. Thank you.”
Little did any of the guards know, but while shaking the man’s hand, he had grabbed the guard’s war axe as well as the holster for said weapon from right off his body.
This is when he moved himself into the party. It was the most beautiful of ballrooms… filled with hundreds of people. “Oh what fun!” Evin sarcastically exclaimed as he dipped himself into the fountain of madness that was going to be this party.

------

Alexander stood himself just in sight of the castle. His hired swords, the ones he had left, were walking their way along the road just ahead of him. He was a little nervous to go to this thing, but he knew it had to be done. If he wanted to bring Blackpond back to its former glory and possibly put a peaceful ending to this war, then he would. Damn it Grim, he thought as he continued thinking about the possibilities if everything was to work out.
“Hey, Alexander, what’s up?” One of the hired swords said, seeing that Alexander was sitting still.
Alexander jumped out of his thought to respond. “Oh, yes nothing. Just thinking.” He started walking again. “Now men. The odds are that the entrance to the Ball will be heavily fortified. Don’t act suspicious as you walk through the guards. Just act as if you are like any other party guest, but carrying a sword out in the open. When you get to the door, they will probably ask you to relinquish your weapons. At this point, it will be pretty easy to force our way into the door. After that, we target the red-head. I created it, so I will destroy it. The Shadow’s Conflict will suffocate under our feet as we re-take control of Blackpond.”
The two men and woman nodded in unison and fell into silence as they got close to the door. Alexander looked at every guard individually as he walked up the path. The whole idea of acting nonchalant about things wasn’t really working out for him. For the first time in over twenty years, the idea of fighting made him nervous. His heart pounded ten times faster until he reached the door, where six guards were there to welcome him. His heart stopped and he found it nearly impossible to catch his breath. It was like the feeling that he felt when he heard the sound of war drums out in the distance. At this moment, the hired swords looked just about ready to draw their weapons to attempt what Alexander only imagined would be a historic moment. Something that, whether it worked out or not didn’t really matter. Historians would still have some interesting things to write about. In a moment where everyone who is anyone in Valcrest sat themselves in one room for festivities, a small revolt was under way.
Alexander reached for his sword, but was stopped when one of the guards said. “What are you’s doing? This is an open invitation party. You can enter you know.”
The four looked around at each other with confused eyes. There was something wrong here. Why would anyone ever allow so many angry people into one room with swords when there was just so much conflict in Valcrest? The four revolutionaries passed through the doors and into the Ballroom. It was just as Alexander remembered, just with more people.
“Ok men, we will keep a low profile from now until we find the right opportunity. Know our enemies, they already know that we’re here and what we are here for so there is no need for surprise. Enjoy the night for now and we will attack when opportunity arises.”

-----

The instant that Ella’s parade made it within a mile of Blackpond, the news had already made it around that the Queen of Newhaven was actually personally visiting Blackpond. This was the first time that royalty had visited Blackpond personally since her father, from what she could remember. It was very important to the city of Blackpond. Despite the fact that these people were her enemy, she understood the needs of the people. When something exciting happened to them that didn’t involve a public maiming or some random rape, it brought joy to the citizens. The city’s dark and menacing demeanour brightened up for a change as the parade followed through.
“Dominic!” Ella called from her closed carriage.
The carriage continued on at the same pace and in a couple of seconds, then the door opened. The large White Knight took a few quick steps until he jumped into the moving compartment. Dominic, had to crouch as to not hit the roof, his head barely fitting as he sat down. The behemoth of a man then said, “What do you need?”
“I have a request for you Dominic. While you may not agree with it, I want you to wear this.” She hunched over to reach down to the floor and grab a handle. “Could you please move your feet?” She asked. When Dominic moved his feet, she opened the small compartment under the floor.
Dominic looked at what was in the compartment and just shook his head. “I don’t think that this is a good idea. If the council finds out, and trust me, they will—”
“I don’t really care what they think of it. I actually want them to know. I want the council and Blackpond to know that my loyalties are still strong, despite what it may seem.”
“There are other, more subtle ways to do this m’lady.” Dominic frowned.
“Just put it on.”

The trumpeters serenaded the party goes with their melody to signify the entrance of the Queen. Each note a beautiful representation of the delicate, yet demanding nature of Newhaven’s flower. Then the promenade; the grand march into the room was what made Ella the most important person in the room. It was true too. She was the attention to everyone’s eyes.
Ella’s had on a champagne pink, A-line dress with a flared skirt, puffed out by heaps of crinoline. The same crinoline material was used to accentuate the sweetheart neckline. The main focus of the dress was the rose however. It was a real pink rose with leaves still attached to create a slight green accent. It was placed right between her skirt and the corset, which had a seem down the middle and curved around her waist so the skirt came up further around the sides. She was absolutely stunning and clearly the best dressed as well, but when you are one of the best off people in Valcrest, it was simple to look better than other people in the room.
Behind her was something that put an aura of pure shock around the people who had come from Newhaven to the party. A black Knight stood tall and proud, seemingly there to protect the Queen with all the dishonor that came with the attire.
“Ella!” A voice echoed from the top of the staircase. “Pleasant for you to join.” It was the woman. The red haired woman who had visited the Castle from Blackpond the weeks before winter. “Now we can start our party.” The woman was accompanied by four other people right behind her. One of them was definitely working with something as his eyes began to glow. A fire started to build right around him. Then, a glow from a second person. This person wasn’t as visible as the other four who accompanied this woman. The glow of this person’s eyes came from an unlit balcony just above the woman and the four men. The fire moved from the man to the door behind Ella. It let out a large amount of heat, enough that the medal doors that Ella had just entered through started to melt. When the fire was gone, they could see that the fire melted the metal to create an airtight seal around the door. “My name is Lamya, and I’m your host for the evening.” Two of the other men’s eyes lit up, and again the balcony man’s eyes lit up as well. Water moved in every which direction to every exit in the entire ballroom. Then an incredible cool air blasted through the room, cooling the water right down until every entrance was covered in a layer of ice so thick that it would be impossible to break through. “As you can all tell, this is a historic night with so many figureheads of Valcrest in one room. I don’t even know how things are supposed to work out. With the amounts of conflict between all these figureheads, I can’t exactly tell how long it will take for things to get out of hand. Well, we are probably stuck here all night with the ice storm blocking us in and all. Enjoy the evening. Carry on.” She said with a smile before walking up the stairs into the balcony area above to blend with the crowds.
That moment after she stopped talking was when the commotion started. The festivities of the party that seemed to have been happening before from Ella’s point of view all stopped. There was a quiet but panicked chatter that buzzed through the room.
“Dominic, get the string quartet to continue with the music. I’m not going to let Blackpond ruin what should be a perfectly good evening. We can’t get out yet, but we might as well enjoy the time that we’re stuck here. Conrad, come with me.”
Dominic went off and Ella walked to the center of the room with Conrad. She placed her one hand on his shoulder and the other in his other hand. When the quartet started playing again, she danced. She hoped that this would calm the crowd down a little.

The setting changes from blackpond to Valcrest

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mageria Talsheir Character Portrait: Grim Pondus 'War' Character Portrait: Ella Page Character Portrait: Alexander

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The party was starting to bustle with excitement again. The whole threat of not being able to leave started to pass around as people began to realize that there was no reason to worry about it. Even the party goers who were known for their panic-happy tirades were calmed by the crowds which acted as their camomile. It was a feeling that put Ella at ease. Despite her careless disposition, she had been in fear of what would happen far before she even arrived at the party. It was probably the reason she tried to convince Dominic into his old, shiny black suit. It acted as a mental buffer to anyone who wanted to try anything dramatic. There was only one person in the entire party that she knew had a taste for the dramatic and she knew that it probably wouldn’t be long. Evin wasn’t going to be trusted to keep the peace for just one night when there were so many different important people in one room.
Regardless of what was going to happen, she had to keep her composure. As a figurehead of Newhaven, she had no other choice, no matter how she felt inside.
“This isn’t going to end well.” Conrad whispered in her ear as their dancing feet slowly marched around the dance floor with rhythmic precision. “We all knew it wasn’t going to go well from the start, but now that there is no escape, we may have to start creating a strategic barrier.”
“And ruin the flow of the party? I don’t want history to write about the coward Queen who, in times of trouble, hid herself behind a pathetic barricade. I only imagine that it will all be embellished into something terrible too. I wouldn’t enjoy that.” Ella retorted.
Conrad stopped dancing, grabbing Ella by both of her arms. “You really are a fool Ella. Who cares what people think about you in the history books? The only thing that matters is that your lineage carries on until you have a child?”
“You are just as foolish Conrad. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and say that you actually care about my lineage—”
“That’s not fair!” Conrad interrupted.
Ella slipped her arm out of Conrad’s grip and gently placed her hand over his lips. “I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, as much as I think otherwise. What do I care if my lineage takes on this job? It isn’t as fun as it may look. I’d much rather be a maid or merchant. Something that doesn’t require me to know every issue in the damned city of Newahven.” She looked around her to see if anyone was listening in. “I love you Conrad, but I just can’t do it. No matter how much you care about my lineage .”
That was all she had to say. Conrad stopped talking and walked off. Ella felt bad for what she did. Just the way that Conrad walked off was enough to tell her that she had said things that maybe she shouldn’t have. A part of her died inside to see him so distraught, but she wasn’t going to let anything ruin this Ball for her. She couldn’t help but feel bad while looking towards Conrad, so she turned around and…
“Hello, Ella. You're looking well.”
“Shit!” Ella exclaimed. “Mageria. I don’t know why, but I’m surprised to see you. I mean, I expected you to be at the party—that wasn’t the surprise—it was just, just that you were right behind me.” Ella decided to stop talking as she felt she was just rambling on. Moving her hand to rub the back of her neck, she smiled and recomposed herself. “Well, uh, thanks! You look good yourself. I actually brought an armour set for you as well, but it’s in the carriage outside and… well we can’t get ourselves out there anymore. Besides enjoying what will probably be the last few hours of this false peace that has plagued the land for the past three years, what is it that you are after by attending this party?”

-----

Within the maze of partygoers, there was one man who found himself lost, not within the ball, but within his own mind. This man was so deep in his mind, that he actually didn’t even notice the whole display of fire that was going on right around him. Alexander’s great strategic mind was too deep into the works of how exactly he would want to take care of things around the ballroom. There were some very good strategic vantage points that would allow for him to take care of a considerable amount of people, even if he was to be outnumbered. There were so many opportunities, but knowing exactly how and where to execute them would be the issue. If he could somehow draw the entirety of his enemy onto the dance floor, he would be able to run up the main staircase for a perfect bottleneck. That wouldn’t be enough. He would need to find a way to create a barrier on the first flight of stairs and then find a way to get the second flight blocked off as well. Actually, maybe that wasn’t a good idea. It could be risky to give them a chance for a two pronged attack, as the second flight of stairs split off in two directions.
That gave Alexander a perfect idea. He would surround them from either side of the balcony, but again, that wouldn’t be enough. He had to factor in that they were all communicating, all the time without saying a word. All they had to do was think, and the others would know exactly what they were doing. From there, whenever it seemed like the power of the Conflict was getting to be too much, he would split them off into small groups. Communication through enlightenment would get muddled at that point. It would also give him a chance to take on Lamya alone. The abomination that she was to him. It was such a disappointment to know that he had created her. She was the biggest concern as she would, needless to say, screw everything up if she was kept alive.

When he was finished with his strategic thoughts, he went over to one of the tables with all the food and whatnot on it. He knocked on it a couple of times to see how thick it was, and then compared it to the width of the staircase. It would do. He grabbed a drink from the table and downed it. At this point, he didn’t care. He was going to do whatever he wanted with these last couple of hours.
Walking down around on the floor, he met eyes with the great beast himself. He walked over to the man, who towered over him with a big smile on his face. “Grim! I didn’t expect to see you here.”

The setting changes from valcrest to Blackpond

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Grim Pondus 'War' Character Portrait: Alexander

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#, as written by Seerow
"Alexander?"

Though he was glad to see another among his allies, he could not hide the surprise that came over him. Alexander was part of the Salamanders, and while it was noted he hadn't perished, his whereabouts were unknown. Grim had spent no time in attempting to gather together survivors. There were far more pressing matters then bothering about trying to reclaim a lost cause. He was glad to see Alex was among the party goers.

The former Salamander looked as worn as ever. Alex was after all far older and more wearied then even Grim, an old warhorse one might call him. Yet this man had a determination about him, a mission he was dedicated to. Hard working and tough as could be, but clever and wise in his time. Alexander had made an excellent Salamander and an even greater friend. Strange to see him here, but then anyone who had a stake in Valcrest was here this night.

Grim nodded politely and returned a smile. He was curious to Alex's activities but refrained from asking. Though kindly, the man before him was known to keep tight lipped on the past. Not to mention there could have been any number of eavesdroppers and there were far too many here with some kind of plan. Besides, there was something else digging at the back of Grim's mind.

"Alexander, I don't wish to sound hurried or strange. You've been an ally to my cause, and have served well under the green banner. There is something I wish to entrust you with... It may seem strange but hear me out."

Grim's hand shot up to keep from being interrupted. Morrigan was the one that nursed Alexander back to health, through her actions did the Salamanders acquire such a man. She is gone, and he didn't wish to dwell upon it. The wound was still fresh enough to tear at the Blade, and he didn't wish to bring it up. Lest he distract himself with pains he could not ease yet. Instead he wished to share with Alexander something special, something almost sacred in his own eyes.

Grim fidgeted a bit but eventually drew fourth a book that had been carefully hidden away behind his armor. He held it with care and treated the small bindings as delicately as possible. Catching the gaze of Alex's eye he spoke with a hushed tone. Imbuing the object with further proof of its importance, speaking distantly and with some sense of urgency. Lest other's intervene and try to claim the artifact for themselves.

"This book has seen the hands of Wolf, and White Shadow, and my own. A memoir, a diary perhaps, a journal of reality passed from foe or friend that truth may be recorded in its pages and passed along to the next. I had thought to give it to Mageria when I deemed appropriate. Yet... I can think of no man who holds more truths about this land then you. Having seen Valcrest change over a much greater length of time.

I wish to give this to you, that you might fill it with your words Alexander. Perhaps some day one will look back upon this and know the meaning of it."

He offered up the treasure to his old ally. Saying nothing more on the matter, but knowing full well he had put Alex on the spot. Grim had done all he could for the book, it was time for another hand to take it up. Perhaps fate decreed to have this meeting, and strike the Blade with the need to pass it to the hands whom had much to say.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Evin Bana Character Portrait: Crystal Rivers Character Portrait: Lamya Character Portrait: Sean Fletcher Character Portrait: Alexander Character Portrait: Ess Character Portrait: Darren Hearst

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Evin looked down at the blade that the King was holding in his hand. His reflection fell back at him with the grimace of truth that only the visual echo from a blade could tell. The mourning the dead were usually viewed as a time to reflect on one’s self. The blade was the perfect foreshadow to this as it held a physical mirror to the person it killed much like the people who mourned would use the killed as their own mirror. In a way, it made the dead a perfect mirror. The dead can’t alter the image that they left behind.
For some reason, this made Evin a little less ambitious to move in on Rick before he made his move on Crys. Rick wasn’t going to just jump Crystal right away, however; not with Evin in the way. This much he knew. If Evin didn’t want to make the move, all he could do was sit and attempt to anticipate what the stressor would be. He ignored the man as best he could and looked back at Crys.
Despite the fact that Crys was trying to speak with Rick, Evin tried to catch her attention again. “I guess you haven’t been too busy yet. I’ve always been happiest when I’m at work. I’ve been working since I got here.” He quickly glanced at Rick, who had veins begin to show in his neck and forehead. “I think it’s about time I take a few moments and actually try to enjoy a party.”
Evin grabbed Crystal by the hand gently and walked towards the dancing floor where the fighting was taking place. He didn’t expect her to come, he didn’t even force her. He was hoping that she would come just for the thrill. “Don’t think that you can dance with Sean without dancing with me too.” He smirked as he turned around to face her, ignoring the battle that went around her. Placing his second hand on her shoulder, he started to sway.

-----

With the battle now on the floor, things were going a little better than before. Alexander couldn’t help but admit that he enjoyed fighting in this exact type of situation. Outnumbered by many with no way other than skill to gain an advantage over the opponent. It was the most terrifying feeling in the world, but he never thought of fighting to lose. It was a strange feeling. He couldn’t explain it to anyone who wasn’t truly versed in the art of sword combat. It was almost as if he was invincible when faced in the situation, like the Twins themselves had divinely intervened and had taken his side.
“Ah hell, I need a drink!” He yelled as he looked around him.
Nothing too much was centered on him in terms of the fighting. It was all focused on the hired swords for some reason. They must have known who he was. They must have known he was in charge of it all, but all he would get was the occasional attack by sword or maybe a gentle push of wind. It didn’t make sense…

-----

She watched it all unfold; People panicking, fighting between guests and then the real blood battle that was going on right below her. She looked on all of this from the balcony where she could get a good bird’s eye view without needing to use her enlightenment. It made matters simpler if Rita was forced into battle at a moment’s notice. Unlike the regular battlefield, there was no safe place to run off to keep safe while her body was exposed. It was unsettling to her that she shouldn’t rely on her enlightenment.
“You know that you’ve got to do it. It’s your duty.” An ever familiar woman’s voice said.
“And if I don’t?” She turned around to look Lamya in the eyes with her own, stern gaze.
“You are free to do so. You are also given the freedom to keep on living. The real question seems to be why you would choose to do one and not the other.”
Rita wasn’t going to have any of this. She actually was thinking of joining the rebel forces and maybe off Lamya herself. Before she made a rash decision, she started to walk away. “The choices seem to me to be two and the same, wouldn’t you agree?”
Lamya smirked and started to follow. “No. To some, there is a difference. If Hastings could tell you something right now, he’d probably tell you that one of them would involve not being a bitch.”
“He’d probably also tell me to kill this bitch while I have the chance.” Looking over her shoulder and pointing her thumb at Lamya.
“Good point.” Lamya laughed in an almost human-like way for once as she continued to follow Rita down the stairs.
Rita moved in towards the battle, getting about ten paces away before she stopped with one foot slightly in front of the other. In a single flash of fire, Rita pivoted on the balls of her feet and drew her sword, pressing it beneath Lamya’s breast where her wicked heart rested. “It’s the one with the eye patch, right?”
Lamya smiled her blackened smile. “Exactly.”
Rita turned around and faced her sword directly at the man with the eye patch. For being the person that they wanted to have dead, it was a surprise to her that he wasn’t already in the grave and wrapped up in a poorly built coffin. This made her think about Lamya’s smile. Why did she smile this time? Was it because Rita had given in once again to Lamya’s demands or was there something more sinister about it. Was this all a scam to off the only person capable of properly commanding Blackpond’s shattered army, much like what they had done to Hastings? She quickly used her enlightenment, only for a quarter of a second. Just long enough for Rita to see what Lamya was doing behind her and jump back into her body before it fell limp on the battlefield. Lamya wasn’t doing anything behind her, so she decided that she’d best just get this all over with.
“Man with the eye patch! Surrender to the crown of Blackpond or otherwise face me and meet Death.” The words sounded almost cheesy coming out of her mouth. It made her slightly sick.
The man with the eye patch lifted his weapon up and stood in a stance to match Rita’s. He then grabbed something from his pocket—a book—and threw it on the ground beside him.
Rita was just about to go into a full charge on the man. She took the first step, but was quickly halted. An older man accompanied by a younger woman walked directly in between the two soon-to-be combatants and began a dance. It was too dark to really make out who either of them were and she wasn’t too concerned with it. It was just a minor hesitation from her actual goal. Again, Rita ran towards the eye patched man, sword raised.

-----

As the two danced, Evin felt a quick breeze flow past him. Soon he realized from the sound of clashing swords just paces away that it was likely someone running past him. The fighting was very close to the two of them.

Crys couldn't help but laugh as Evin led her to the dance floor, partly because the situation was somewhat amusing on its own considering most of the party guests were running around or pushing for the exits in a panic and there was not even any music playing anymore, but partly because she knew very well that Jake was somewhere in that mess keeping an eye on her. While not too long ago that would have been a comforting thought, right now she took far more comfort in the thought of making him squirm, even if for a childish reason such as this.

As she and Evin danced, Crys could hear steps and clashing metal not too far from them, and she vaguely asked herself if she could make it through the night without drawing her blades. Heaving a small sigh she poked Evin's shoulder playfully. "So... Weren't you supposed to dance with your date? Or your, whatever you call the woman you've been sort of stalking most of the night?" She asked in an innocently curious tone; her attention never distracting from what was going on around them.

Evin placed both his hands against the small of Crys’ back and pulled her closer to him. He rested his head just above her right shoulder. This allowed him to look behind her and keep an eye on anything that seemed suspicious, especially Rick, who didn’t look too happy.
“The woman I’ve been stalking is…” Evin stopped mid-sentence when he noticed something happening around Sean. All he saw was Ella move towards Sean and Ella drop down to the floor, blood pooling out of her stomach moments later. “Twins have mercy.” He said under his breath, forgetting Crystal could hear it all. “Ella’s dead. Sean did it and he’s trying to disappear now. Mageria’s taking care of the body. Let’s worry about this all later.” He tried to let it escape his mind. Although Ella was close to him, he wasn’t going to mourn over it until he actually had time to. He took a moment and continued talking. “Jen is the woman I’m stalking. You know the story already…” He paused again, just for a moment…

-----

Lamya laughed it all off and watched as the fight began. Surprisingly to her, there was a couple dancing between Rita and Alex. It surprised her because she didn’t think anyone would have the balls to get in the way of all the fighting. It also surprised her that she hadn’t thought of the idea first. She looked around to find someone she could dance with. Quickly, screams caught her attention. A young woman, passionately killing an older woman. By the end of the brutal murder, the younger woman was covered in blood and very irate in appearance.
Lamya only let the woman have a moment to reflect on what she just did before she grabbed the bloody girl and pulled herself right beside the other couple. He grabbed the girl in a proper dancing position and looked over at the other couple.

-----

“… You know Jen had a baby, seventeen years past. His name is Kurt. Last time I’d seen Jen was ten years ago... I really love that woman.” Evin realized what he was saying when the woman who had welcomed everyone to the ball came with her own partner to dance with—a bloody woman—and said, “Good night for a dance.”

Essence didn't have barely enough time to breathe, more or less think straight when she felt herself lifted off of her feet by another redheaded woman. Staring back over her shoulder at the brutality on the floor it slowly sunk in what she had accomplished. Between her dress and all the blood she was a beacon of reds flourishing amidst the crowd and stood out more than normal against the chaos. She finally dragged her gaze from the body, noting her wolf was still where she left her, and focused upon a curious individual before her. The fuzziness in her mind began to leave her as she noticed she was dancing with the woman while still firmly gripping her dagger in one hand, letting her other hand rest upon the woman's hip. The angry and crazed look in her eyes calmed, her shoulders bouncing in amusement as what started as muffled giggles erupted into manic laughter. Ess had done it. The hellion was gone and now she seemed to be celebrating by dancing with some strange woman who didn't seem fazed or disgusted that her partner was practically soaked in blood. "Hmm, guess this is the closest I'll get to dancing on that Bitch's grave..." She snickered, turning towards the couple beside her, quirking a brow. "Crys? Wait..." Ess took in a deep breath, trying to speak clearer through her laughing fit and turned back towards her partner. "Who the hell are you?”

Crys really didn't need Evin to tell her what was going on with Ella, she could very much tell for herself, although she wasn't so sure about Sean, however... To her, if anything, the man seemed shocked and frightened in a way as if the worst possible thing he could imagine was happening before his eyes. If one thing she knew well was that Sean wasn't one to regret a kill, so that just didn't make sense in her mind. She didn't argue with what Evin said he was seeing, there would be time for that later, right now she just simply settled for listening to what he was saying and trying to keep her mind where it should when she could feel very clearly the pain and rage of loss coming from the former Black Knight captain as she carried the Queen. It made her wonder honestly just how much more that woman could still bear. Not missing Evin's words despite of that, Crys didn't really get the chance to offer him a reply, at least not one she would be willing to give in the presence of a strange woman, whose voice Crys had recognized from the greeting she had given them earlier; aside from that she honestly didn't know what to make of this person, considering that in the situation they were in, she seemed absolutely unaffected by the chaos, if anything she seemed constantly cheerful. Her dance partner on the other hand was all too familiar, and Crys wasn't sure if she could allow herself to be surprised by this, something about Essence gave her the impression that this was probably not the oddest scenario where their paths would cross. Taking a small step back from Evin she turned towards the dancing pair and let out a snicker. "Ess... I have a feeling Ali's doing a terrible job of keeping an eye on you."

Evin was more confused than anything by the whole situation. Crystal seemed to actually know one of them and the way that the other one was looking at Crystal, it seemed like she knew Crystal as well. His suspicions were correct when she spoke.
“I know you. I’m Lamya. You probably remember me as the person who nearly killed you in the woods about three years ago. Small world.” Lamya said.
Evin ruffled his eyebrows. Knowing the person who actually took the hit that Sean called on for Crystal was standing right by him was bothersome. It was only a mild irritation though. As an assassin, he understood why another assassin would take a hit on Crystal.
Ignoring the comment he looked at Ess and said, “My name is Evin Bana. I don’t think I’ll have to explain who I am. My name has seemed to get around over the past couple of year. What’s with all the… blood?”

Essence quirked a brow, looking from Lamya, back to Crys and then the man who introduced himself as Evin. Feeling a bit confused as she didn't think she had addressed him yet, she simply shrugged at Crys' observation of Ali not keeping an eye on her. "We both got preoccupied, it seems." Stepping back she spun before returning to her partner and smiled. "Lamya...I apologize. Think I got some blood on you." Glancing down at herself, her brows furrowed at the sight of herself; now blood and rags of her once beautiful gown. Releasing a sigh her smile broadened. "Well, Evin, officially I am Essence but Ess is just fine...and the blood..well.." She motioned behind her, still keeping an eye on her wolf out of the corner of her eye as her and Lamya danced circles around Crys and Evin. "Well, I didn't arrive this way.." Ess joked, her expression falling a bit more serious as she continued. "I ran into someone I thought was dead, who I actually found out tried to contract my death through the Wolf Pack. Ironic since my original attempt on Ebony's life was a failure, it only makes sense she'd want revenge I guess. Gotta tell you though...was definitely more satisfying this time around than poisoning the Hag the first time." Essence rolled her eyes at herself, shaking her head as she thought back on that time. "I was a child, guess can't expect too much from a child..."Turning back towards Lamya, she stared at her curiously, violet eyes glowing softly. "What about you? Good ol' fashion stabbing or poison?"

Crys arched in eyebrow at the woman who called herself Lamya and her casual mention of stabbing her almost to death. "Small world indeed. I'm sorry though, I don't remember you, or much of anything from that night. Blood loss and all..." She trailed off with a small shrug. "Nice to meet you... As long you don't decide to try again, that is." She smiled pleasantly at the woman, even though she didn't think she liked her very much, and funny enough that had very little to do with the attempt on her life and much more to do with her simply giving her chills. Crys remained silent as Evin and Ess exchanged names and the woman explained the blood that Crys assumed was on her clothing. Ess' story and the name of the woman she killed sounded like something Crys had heard before somewhere and she felt a passing urge to laugh shooting Evin a glance. "Huh..." She snickered under her breath. "...Small, small world..."

Lamya laughed at Crystal’s comment in a way that would make people assume that she knew Crystal very well. “Blood loss will do that to you.” Suddenly, her attention was flipped to Ess who had mentioned getting blood on her. The dress she was wearing made the blood almost blend. “Goes well with the dress. In fact…” She grabbed a clot that had formed in Ess’ locks, just below the ear and placed it over top of the gem that was encrusted on the broach she was wearing. “Now it all looks intentional… of course, for you it was so you’ll have no problem.”

Evin watched the woman in bewildered amusement as she played around with blood clots and spoke to Essence. Not soon after, the attention went back to Evin. “I think I’ll call you Essence.” He said in a tone he never intended to sound rude, but surely sounded so. She went on to explain the blood. He didn’t laugh at her poor attempt at a joke either. It was something that Evin would have said in his youth when he was first an assassin. It would have been funny to him then. I think I’m becoming a cynic. He thought. Probably. She continued talking and mentioned that reached name. Evin’s eyes went wide and he squeezed Crystal’s waist extremely tight.
Then he heard Crys whisper in her ear, probably unintentionally. It was small indeed. What made it even smaller was what she said after about when she was a child.
“Lust.” Lamya said, answering Ess’ question. “Lust can kill any man and some women. Seal the deal with a kiss and it is all but over for them. You’re an attractive woman you are Ess. I’m sure you’d understand.”
“I tried to poison her.” Evin interrupted. “I tried poisoning her 17 years ago. Thought she was dead. Prylithosade was the name of it. I don’t know why it didn’t work when I heard she was still alive. It all makes sense to me now. If you used any poison from the root of a flower on her, our poisons would have counteracted each other… that is what the poisons master said to me. I can’t believe this!”
Evin let go of Crystal and placed both of his hands on her cheeks tightly. Without thought, he leaned into kiss her. He meant to do it on the cheek, but completely missed in his excitement. In mid kiss, Evin pushed Crys into a dip to avoid the swing of a blade. When he came back up to look at Crys, he realized what he just did. He already knew that Jen would have been looking towards the two of them. She was probably already unimpressed with the whole dance show he was putting on. He could only imagine what she was thinking now. “Uhh… sorry about that.” Evin said. He grabbed onto her waist again and tried to pretend it didn’t happen.
“Aren’t you a little old for her Evin?” Lamya said, again, like she was old pals.
“Aren’t you a little too much of a woman for her?” He retorted and began to keep watch for Rick and anyone else who he might think to be important.
“Fair enough.”

Whatever tune they had been swaying to, real or hidden inside her mind, Essence didn't take notice but they had paused. She didn't know if she was appalled or enticed. Reaching slowly towards the broach she stopped, just hovering over the piece as if admiring it, before retracting slender fingers to rest along her own waist. Ess stared as if forgetting to blink before nodding politely towards Evin, a genuine smile breaking through. It was as simple as that and her perspective had changed. Turning her gaze downwards, her attention was everywhere. One ear open to her furry friend's direction and the other shifting back and forth between those addressing her and for a moment her mind went blank. Her head snapped at attention to Lamya's familiar words. "I agree...for most it is their weakest point. But not all. Can't say it's my favorite though but more like survival. At least, how it was for a time."

Ess' body tensed, whispering back a particular word of Evins: " Prylithosade." The woman's fingers began tapping in light frustration along one of the tiny daggers along her side. "I wouldn't have known then. I was quite nieve to it all but neither of us..." She laughed. "Guess I can't be surprised more than one person wanted that woman dead. I don't think I'd even classify her as human, much less a woman...Wait a second..." Ess pointed at Lamya, "She's too much woman for me?..Interesting.."

~~~

Darren was trying to make some sort of progress with the Wolf, to get her to let him help her but she was not trusting. Couldn't blame her. Even before he got close enough, the silvery form pushed herself to her feet and limped directly towards Essence but at the last minute making a sudden turn for Crys. Tala nuzzled the woman's hand and whined up at her curiously. Darren followed, hanging back a bit when he got closer to Lamya, having a feeling he may be recognized. Stepping on the opposite side with Ess between then she leaned in close, whispering concern. "You're playing with fire, you know. Are you trying to get burned?"

Crys was confused with what Evin was doing, to say the very least, but her tension and awkwardness were barely noticeable at all. She didn’t react as she would if it had been anyone else randomly kissing her, which would probably be with a dagger to the throat, she simply fell into a confused daze too busy with trying to make sense of the what and why to even wonder if she should maybe be weirded out or offended. It was only when Evin mumbled an apology that she snapped out of her minor shock and shook her head, snorting a trace of a laugh and patting the man on the arm in a reassuring gesture. “I’ve had worse.” She retorted playfully; genuine amusement beginning to break through her expression as she realized what Jake had just witnessed. Maybe it was bit cruel of her to be glad about the fact he was currently pissed, but she couldn’t help it nonetheless. Her amusement slipped past her lips in a small series of chuckles at Ess questioning Evin’s comment of Lamya being ‘too much woman for her’, but she made no comment, her attention snatched away by the slow approach of a familiar creature. Crys lowered her hand to reach for Tala as the wolf stopped by her. “Hey, Tala...” She whispered, pulling away from Evin some and turning her attention to the animal, tracing her fingertips along the wolf’s snout. “Are you alright, hm? You sound a bit tired...”

Evin chuckled at Ess taking offence to the comment that Evin made. It was a good icebreaker to a rather awkward couple of minutes. As much as he believed that he'd probably come to like this Essence girl, there were things about her that Evin didn't like. This was how he felt when he met every new person though. It probably didn't help that she was the one that killed Ebony and not him. He imagined that Ess would have probably felt the same way if it was the other way around though. Holding any sort of tension over who got to be the vehicle which sent Ebony to Death herself was such a silly little trifle. Only seconds before, he had practically thanked her for what he did in his silly display, but he'd rather forget that.
Evin saw a wolf approaching. Alongside the wolf was a large man big enough to take on someone like Grim in a fair fight without enlightenment. Evin wasn't even sure if this wolf was the same Wolf that had turned into a bird earlier in the evening and if it was, who was the big guy following her? He moved his foot within his boot to adjust the knife that was sitting under its sole. Very quickly, blade was protruding from the front of his boot. That knife was for the wolf. He wasn't quite sure what he'd do with the large man. He'd let the man's reaction to the attack on the wolf dictate his next move. When the Wolf got close enough, it started to give affection towards Crys and the large man started to speak to Essence about one of the other three people who were dancing. Evin didn't bother to move the blade from its placement in his boot however as he noticed Rick again, who seemed like he was going to crack at any moment.

Ess wasn’t paying much mind to how Evin was acting around Crys, feeling it not her business or concern. Although, it brought back to her the memory of the woman stabbing her Sai through that bartenders hand, the idea seeming appropriate for that kind of closeness. Then again, it wasn’t towards herself and they probably knew one another she assumed. Still, this fellow didn’t seem as though he deserved a stabbing but that was still left remaining to be seen. It wasn’t right to discriminate but Essence would never change the fact she kept her guard up always longer around strange men compared to women.

Ess twirled the dagger between her fingers, pausing to wipe the blade clean, if that was even possible, along what remained of her dress. She simply grinned at Darren’s comment before kneeling down beside her furry companion when she stopped beside Crys for affection and carefully inspected the still bleeding wound. “I’m going to have to stitch this somehow...but not now..” Ess whispered, not hesitating to tear off another piece of her gown, leaving almost her entire left leg exposed. In all honesty, it left her more cold than modest, not really thinking too much of the minimal clothing. Gently she tied the rag around the wound, giving one yank to secure it, causing Tala to growl softly. “I know...Waaait..” Ess stood up looking around as if something just dawned on her. She had momentarily forgotten about Joffrey and now discovered he was not where she had left him; only the severed hand remained. “Where...did?....DAMN.”

Darren shrugged as if he was the one being asked the question directly. “Your wolf had a snack and then you went all Wild Animal on Ebony...I mean..really did you have to kill her now? I had some things I wanted to interrogate that woman on but now...” Darren sighed, snapping his fingers as if he had lost a bet. He suddenly noticed Ms. Rivers and politely tipped his hat in her direction. “Looking lovely today, Crys.” He commented. It didn’t matter that it was kind of a pointless gesture to make in front of a blind woman as he did it more as part of his new obsession with his hat.

“I was done with her speaking. The very sound of her breathing made my ears bleed.” Ess groaned. “There’s another way..” She shivered, standing back on her feet. “Where did I leave my jacket?” She muttered to herself. “I dropped it around the time...just before the Queen...” The woman’s eyes hardened. “I don’t even know what I think I saw...some party this turned out to be.”

Crys stood, idly petting Tala as she listened to the exchange of words between Ess and Darren, not at all surprised at this point that they seemed to know each other, there had been too many of those 'coincidences' for her to actually make much of them anymore. As Darren addressed her she smiled at him in a far more sincere way than she had Lamya not holding back a slight shrug at the boy's compliment, but still responding nonetheless. "Why, thank you, Darren. Always a gentleman, I see. Did you find what you needed in Newhaven by the way?" She asked him, her eyes lowering slightly towards Tala for a moment as she silently let some thoughts cross her mind before turning to Ess with a questioning look. "You were with Ella, when... When she...?" Crys heaved a sigh not quite finishing the sentence properly. "Something is off about this... Again..." She muttered, not being able to keep the memories of what happened last time from flooding her mind. Only the last time the Wolves and Newhaven had a falling out, her mother had been there... Mageria had been there... Who was there to hold things back now?

Lamya's eyes darted back and forth and people continued to speak to one another about their fruitless pursuits and selfish endeavours. It was almost enough to make her realize why she didn’t have the idea of dancing with random people before Evin and Crystal did. It was interesting to her. There were people who really wanted to change the world, like the White Shadows that never got anywhere. Then there were people, like everyone else who mattered in Valcrest who did things for themselves and it changed the world for worse or for better. Of course, it was all subjective. There was not enough chance in Valcrest anymore. No one could appreciate the chaotic nature of reality.
“Why can’t anyone of you be like Lena? A bitch, but a damn near real person with realistic expectations about every facet of life.” Lamya noticed the blood on her hands and wiped it on the clean parts of Ess’ dress. “Now most people would like to think that I’m the antithesis of Lena. Why else would I be holding a party following her death? We are nothing but the same person raised into different circumstances which made our random acts different from one another. I think she only ever realized what she was like when she got away from those White Shadows. No, this party isn’t because I dislike her. It’s a party to celebrate the death one of the only true people left in Valcrest. Now if you’ll excuse me.”
Lamya walked away, as she did, she passed Rick, who was approaching the group slowly. As she passed him, she balled her fist and punched him directly in the face and continued on walking.

Evin didn’t care much about anything that Lamya was saying. She was a person who believed that she had the world all figured out. In that way and that way only, were the two alike. Maybe they were both a little delusional as well, but Lamya was a little more delusional than Lena was… just a little.
He did, however, watch her as she walked away, which brought Evin to the startling discovery. Evin had forgotten about Rick completely and it wasn’t until he saw Lamya punch him in the face, knocking the twisted man onto the floor. Evin let go of Crys completely; he knew that she was far less interested in dancing now. He did, however lean in to warn Crys of Rick coming back. “Be ready for a fight. If I did anything right, you won’t have to fight, but just be ready.

Darren smiled down at Crys, "It's hard to be anything but a gentleman in your company, Crys. Even if there weren't...'watchful eyes', I have to be given a reason to withhold respect if those in turn are lacking such themselves. Thank you again, by the way, for letting me have use of your name." The young man chuckled. "It came in quite handy...at least I think. Blackwell is...well, quite an interesting fellow." Darren took the opportunity, while Tala was a bit more relaxed beside Crystal, to reach out towards the wolf and lightly scratch behind her ears. She looked tired indeed, barely turning her head to look up at him. It made him wonder if she even cared or if she was falling weaker by the moment to even bother with precaution.

Ess watched Darren with a curious, and yet unbelieving look in her eyes. It was automatic for her to assume anyone male who acted so polite was anything but and even if it were true, she still held onto that defensive barrier just in case. She didn't really respond to Crys' words with that of her own but instead turned away from the woman, inhaling a sharp whisp of air through her teeth. Ess didn't feel comfortable saying much more about the situation, out in the open. That itchy and bothersome feeling of being trapped that had ignored earlier was gradually making its way back, starting with her fingers, causing them to twitch incessantly until she cracked her knuckles. In her internal thinking, she almost missed Lamya leaving and her apparent praise of Lena. Wasn't the party to celebrate her death? Essence wasn't sure if she should laugh at the woman and her statement suggesting this was in some sort of memory or honor of the deceased woman. She just wasn't buying it. At the same time, she did agree that there were so few 'real' people that existed in Valcrest. A part of her became annoyed with Lamya but as Ess watched the woman randomly punch the King of Blackpond in the face, she wasn't sure if she kind of liked her. "Hmm..unpredictable and perhaps a little crazy...just like this party. I'm liking this." Motioning for Tala to follow, Essence turned back to Crys. "I believe I would like to find Ali and the Captain. We shouldn't be all separated..."

"Right." Darren chimed in, smiling wide so white teeth were showing. "Your wolf doesn't seem like she will be on her feet much longer...I could help.." He offerred as he continued to pet the animal. Tala snorted and started to walk away from the group a bit defiantly, yet coincidently in Mageria's direction. "Ok..I stand corrected.."

Lamya’s little speech about Lena seemed to be the first thing to actually annoy Crys to the point of it showing clear on her expression, even if only for a moment. She didn’t answer the woman however; she didn’t feel that it was worth a response and if anything she wanted Lamya to just go away and the farther away the better. It did annoy her though how Lamya spoke of Lena as though they were the same person just separated by random acts and circumstances. If the woman was alive to speak her mind Crys was sure she would have strongly disagreed, but she wasn’t and it wasn’t Crys’ place to speak for her now.

Catching Evin’s words on the possibility of there being a fight she nodded her acknowledgement, not really minding to give him a verbal answer and just waiting for things to happen as they would. A small chuckle escaped her at Darren’s words on Blackwell. “Yes, he’s quite the character that man, but he’s surely worth the trouble, you’ll see.” She gave Ess a nod, giving Tala one final pat as the woman excused herself. “Of course. Ess, send Mageria my best wishes... In case we don’t get the chance to speak...” She told the woman in soft near-whisper smiling momentarily as if the words held some hidden meaning; maybe they did.

-----

Alexander looked dead as he looked into Rita’s eyes. He knew that this moment was going to come. If Lamya had anything to say about it, this moment was bound to occur. Lamya always seemed to revel in those ideas.
The dead eyes were the look of someone who seemed to already accept his defeat. He wasn’t going to be happy with the results no matter what happened. The defeat flushed over him like a bruise, but he had little time to think about it as Rita started her attack. It was a typical first move. She quickly moved forward towards him to make a downward motion across her torso. She was left handed so her attack came in from left to right on his side. It wasn’t something that Alexander was used to, but he had faced off against enough left handed people in his times at battle that he knew enough to know the slight differences that a left handed fighter had.
Alexander used a right shoulder guard to make contact. Rita’s sword flexed as it contacted the long edge of Alexander’s sword. He pressed sword against hers and gently finessed the pressure on his thumb against the ferrule to give him the leverage to allow him to push Rita’s sword in the way he wanted. Rita’s sword moved across the long edge of Alexander’s blade until it abruptly stopped at the finger guard and ultimately at the quillon. Alexander was hoping to end this right away. He swooped his sword down with Rita’s caught in the guard. If she was gripping her sword improperly, it would fall out of her hand. That didn’t happen. This battle was going to be a little more complicated.

-----

Evin smiled when he could see that Rick was picking himself up off the ground. He readied himself, while still keeping close enough to Crys to hide the fact that he was readying himself. Slowly Rick approached. He wasn’t in any hurry to reach them, but the intent in his hands told a different sort of story. It was the slow motion of his fingertips flexing and contracting against the handle of his blade. He wasn’t thinking of the kill, that much was for sure.
Rick reached them and stopped. He lifted the hand that didn’t have the blade in it, finger up and he struggled to spit out some words. He wasn’t in a good mental state, which was for sure. Evin didn’t want to wait. He calmly moved Crystal aside and then moved in. With his foot-blade, he kicked at Rick’s shin. This came to Rick as a surprise as he didn’t even flinch at the attack. He looked down at his bloodied shin and then back up at Evin and hesitated in a quick moment of shock. Evin kicked him again, this time in the other shin. This time, Rick yelled out in pain and grabbed at his shin. Evin wasn’t going to kill Rick. That wouldn’t be fair to do so. Not only had Evin made the first attack, but Rick didn’t even seem to react to him. The only reason he would kill someone who was so vulnerable was if he had a contract out on them. To him, Death was not judgement. Death was just death and that is all.
“I’ve softened him up for you. He won’t be an issue anymore.” He said to Crys. “Now I have someone else to take care of.” Evin scanned around looking for the only person in the room that he had wanted dead more than Ebony. The fact that Ella was now dead too was just incentive for Evin to pursue him just that much more.

The setting changes from blackpond to Valcrest

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Evin Bana Character Portrait: Mageria Talsheir Character Portrait: Lamya Character Portrait: Jake Turner Character Portrait: Ella Page Character Portrait: Alexander

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The death of a Queen or King once stood for something. It was the end of an era. The end of an era of treachery, pain, agony was the ones most remembered. Then there were the golden eras of joy, wealth and posterity. The least common of the eras remembered were those consisting of normalcy. That was mostly what Ella would be forgotten for. No matter where she did end up going after death, there were no real changes made under her rule. Most scholars would probably say that her ideology was that if she did nothing to change the world, she could do nothing to screw it up. The real problem was inexperience. It was as if she was placed in the middle of a chess game without knowing the mechanics of the pieces. The relations between nobles, the country and their cities were like these mechanics. This was the reality of being someone who didn’t grow up in the environment that would have allowed her to learn these mechanics. It wasn’t her fault. If anything, it was her mother and father for creating these circumstances for her. How were they supposed to know what was to become of their daughter in the years to come. It was a simple mitigation—maybe an evasion.
“Wake up girly!”
Ella tried to open her eyes to see where the voice was coming from. At first, with a calm temperament, but quickly it changed to a franticly fruitless effort. She then tried to move her arms to see what was wrong with her eyes. Those weren’t working either. In fact, it was almost as if she didn’t even have any arms. This strange and surreal feeling followed through across her entire body… or lack thereof a body. Laughing echoed through the corridors of open space.
“Death couldn’t even experience this without killing herself. It wasn’t until Death’s son searched for immortality that this experience could be documented. When I heard about him showing up a couple years back at the siege of Newhaven, I decided that I could give it a try. From what I can tell, it seems like the process worked out pretty well.”
“What in the Hell…” Ella exclaimed.
“No, not hell. You know, it is surprising how well Death’s son was able to describe this place. ‘It is the void in which voids are created. Living within this void, one discovers that which not even the sprit can be found. Rather, it is the birthplace of empirical logic as we know it. It creates the supernatural in which the natural comes from. True darkness only lightens up when the spirit interferes…’ What a brilliant place.”
Ella didn’t understand what this voice was saying, all she could think was “Who are you?”
Somehow, Ella could tell that the voice was smiling. “I’m Lazurus, the new owner of your body. Only reason you’re here is because of the other life you possess. That marking on your hand was supposed to do it, but I messed that one up. Good thing too, because I don’t think I’d be here right now if I you didn’t have that extra life.”
“Extra life? What is this? Why do you seek immortality?”
“I don’t seek immortality,” Lazurus quickly said. “Immortality comes at a price. You lose your humanity when you seek immortality, much like the son of Death did. He was described as a demon in the last 200 years of his life. What I seek is much simpler. I just seek a life long enough to break down the constructs of society enough for anarchy to take over. How much easier could that be than doing so it as Queen?”
There was a moment where Ella didn’t know how to feel about this, but quickly, she started to figure it all out. Ella tried to be mad, but she couldn’t even do that. It was just like when she tried to move her hand; it was as if the emotion didn’t exist.
“Ah! Relax there Girly. Good to take note that you may have a hot temper. Now tell me more or face an eternity of excruciating pain.” Ella didn’t know where it came from, but a pain rang through her non-existent body as if she was being torn apart. It was worse than the pain she felt when she’d stabbed herself. There was no way that she was going to ever deal with that pain for the rest of her life… or whatever exactly she was feeling.
“Ok, I’ll tell you anything you want to know about me.” Ella screamed in a frantic huff.
She spoke for what felt like an eternity about herself. Any question that Lazurus had, she would answer. He waited until he got a profile big enough to be able to properly portray Ella. To her, this was a bigger defeat than her death was. Unable to emote about it, she went immediately to a thought that had been lingering on since she ‘woke up’. “What do you mean by my extra life?” She asked, but it seemed like Lazurus was gone.

The first thing that could have been noticed was that Ella’s wound had disappeared. The only thing that remained as a reminder was a scar. A scar right around where her pancreas would meet her stomach, just below her ribs. It was a pretty damaging spot to have a cut as it probably hit right through her renal artery. This would have been what caused her to bleed out so fast.
The next indicator was that her eyes started to flicker. It could be seen that her eyes were moving underneath her eyelids, but it grew into a full flutter of the eyelids, at which point, despite being slightly stiff, Ella rolled out of the arms of the person holding her and onto the floor. She slowly got onto her feet, ignoring any reaction she might have got from those around her. It was only moments after she got up that she looked at who was holding her. Mageria… We are going to have a problem with this. Lazurus thought to himself.
You sure are. Ella replied.

-----

To Rita, the whole night had become exactly what she pictured it would be. Although she didn’t have that good of a sense of time, she would guess that by this time, it was probably the earlier hours in the morning. If the sun hadn’t already risen, it would be rising in the next few hours.
For her, she wanted this whole thing to end. Maybe Lamya was telling the truth and maybe this guy she was fighting was actually who she said he was. Maybe this would be the beginning of a long needed reformation of Blackpond. The end of this fight may not only mark the end of a really shitty party, but it could also possibly mark the end of everything she was fighting to end. The idea was just too alluring to let it go.
Rita blocked, parried and dodged her way through a defensive technique that she believed would work to her advantage. She was going to tire out the man, who looked really warn out to begin with. He was a hardened fighter, but he couldn’t fight forever. It was easier to take the defensive than to be the aggressor. This technique didn’t seem to work this this man though. There was an issue here. An important detail in this man’s fighting style that seemed uncharacteristic of someone who looked as beat up as he did. He seemed to hesitate, which meant that he wasn’t using up his energy. Was that what he wanted her to think, that he was hesitating? It was likely that he was waiting for her to realize that and then try to take advantage of that.
In a book supposedly written by War, it said that war was deceptive.
Rita decided to take the risk. She went on the aggressive and right away, she knew that there wasn’t any deception. Two quick blows knocked him back with an unexpected surprise flowing over his face. She then cut his sword arm. He dropped his sword, but without hesitation, he tackled her. It was a gut reaction. He was on top of her and her sword slid across the floor. She didn’t have anything to defend herself but her body. She tried to throw a punch. It was ineffective as he just blocked it with his good arm and then placed his bad arm over her neck, pushing down with his bodyweight and blocking her windpipe. There was nothing she could do but flail her arms for a few seconds. It took all the energy that she had to focus and relax enough to flip Alexander off him. As she tried to get up, he grabbed at her ankle and she fell back on the floor, head smacking against the floor with an audible crack.
The world turned completely black for a moment. She could see nothing and there was a loud ringing in her ear, she even felt as though there was a lack of any smell. Quickly, her sight began to come back, but it was grey. When things were clear enough, she noticed that Alexander was on top of her again. This time, there was a dagger staring her right in the eyes. Despite her inability to think strait, her instinct to live kicked in. She grabbed onto his wrist as the dagger dropped down. With what strength she had remaining she tried her best to avoid the tip from cutting through her already damaged head.
The man shook his head and moved his mouth, but only an obscured mumble could be heard through the ringing. Her sight cleared up a little more as she started winning the fight for her life. Color started coming back and she started to feel the blood running out of her head from where she hit the floor so hard.
Finally, it was far enough away that she could expend energy somewhere else and not be afraid of losing control of this knife fight. She used her knee to kick into his crotch. It was enough to make the man keel over and drop the dagger. Rita grabbed the dagger and finished the job. One quick stab to the heart and then another and another. All until she was conscious enough to realize what she was doing.
It all suddenly started to feel like an outer body experience. As she was overlooking the battlefield and able to see things that she hadn’t seen before.
She then realized what she was actually seeing. For the entire time she had fought with Alexander from the moment that he knocked her to the ground and her head hit the floor until then, she was looking at the battle as if she was a third person. It was surprising to her that she actually missed the fact that she was seeing things from a different angle, but in the moment of a battle, any the distracted are the dead. Especially when it comes to such a struggle to hold onto one’s life.
Rita took a moment to watch herself from the outside. She could see the cut on her forehead. It looked pretty bad. Then she moved to look down at herself and Alexander from above. She wasn’t done her job yet. Rita would be able to examine this new point of view at a different time.
She looked down as she waded through the personal belongings of Alexander’s coat. In his coat pocket, there was a book. She moved her vision in to focus purely on the book. It took her a moment to adjust to this new view. She could no longer see herself, only her hands. Learning how to move parts of her body which she is not even connected to would be a challenge, especially when she couldn’t see her body. She fumbled with the book until she looked at the final page with writing in it. It was a journal. In the final page, it was Alexander’s last account. She read the entirety of that page to see exactly what his motives were. By the end, she made the shocking realization.
Her view moved out so she could no longer see the words on the pages. She was looking at herself. Her eyes whited out as if she were a drowned body. In that moment, looking at herself, she could describe her exact emotion, even if she was a complete outside observer. In one word, she would call it droopy. Every single wrinkle and line seemed to want to fall from her face in this unbelievable sadness. Then, behind her, she caught Lamya’s gaze and that frown tensed up into a scowl.
She moved her view so that she would get the perfect view of what she was about to do and then she turned around. “You bitch!” She yelled loud enough for the entire ballroom to hear her. She picked up her sword and walked right up to her. She didn’t get close enough to be able to use the sword on her, but she got close enough to say, “you knew,” without anyone hearing.
“What of it?” Lamya asked.
“You are so fucking lucky. You wasted my energy from that fight. You fucking knew.”
Rita just turned around, this time sword pointing directly at her intendie. Heyden. Pointing it directly at his throat, he could tell that his moments were numbered. A woman in her state was not to be reasoned with. She would do what she wanted. “Let me out!” She said.
“Bevel can do it for you m’lady.”
“Bevel, let me out!” She yelled again, running up to him and pointing the sword at his throat.
He didn’t say anything to her. He just smiled as if to say, “as you wish,” and then his eyes brightened. A swift gust of wind appeared out of nowhere. Quickly the pressure in the room grew and everything felt heavy. In the next moment, his eyes stopped, but the pressure continued, then with a whooshing noise, the high pressure air formed in a single point and literally cut through the ice and then through the metal door. It was an incredible sight. The natural light finally let itself into the room. The sun was beginning to rise.
Rita’s expression didn’t change in any of this time. It didn’t even falter as she plunged the blade slowly into Bevel’s windpipe. It was only enough that he would eventually choke to death. It was going to be slow and painful. None of the Conflict moved against her as she walked out the castle doors.

-----

Lamya let out a loud yell to the cheering crowd as they all walked out the door. “Be sure to give the guards at the doors your weapons before leaving. Valcrest needs protecting after all.”

-----

Simon had given up on the fighting that had been going on. Once Rita got involved, the use of the Conflict was no longer really needed. What concerned Simon more was the whereabouts of Luckas and Rick. First off, Rick wasn’t to be trusted around anyone, but neither was Luckas, from the little he was able to gather from him. With the situation in the room dying down as the doors opened to let people out, there was a quick calming of everyone’s mind in the room. Tension that was once there was gone… or fleeing the scene and it allowed Simon to work harder on the things that needed work.
Luckas was there somewhere. If he could concentrate enough, he would be able to find him through reading the outer limits of his mind. With Rick, it wouldn’t be that easy. With the change in his patterns, he would have to rediscover the things that made Rick’s mind tick. It was an arduous task, but one that needed doing. If he could actually see where Rick was in the room, it might make things easier.
Where is Rick? Simon asked through the channels for the Conflict. There was no response.
Frustrated, Rick stepped out towards the door himself. There was only going to be one way to find Rick, and that was to personally confront him where ever he found him. The sooner, the better because he was practically useless in the frame of mind that he was in at the moment. Simon needed to catch Rick before someone else, such as Luckas, caught him so he could do his best to allow Rick as normal a life as he could possibly give him with his corrective mind work.
Let’s see all the good we accomplished today. Lamya’s voice suddenly stirred to meet Simon’s thoughts.
The commander is gone, Rick’s gone insane, Ella’s dead, relations with the Wolfpack have probably been sullied and Rita has left. Another of the Conflict said.
And what of Lazurus? Another bellowed.
There was a moment of silence. No one was sure if Lazurus had managed to do his job, but then, an unexpected voice came through. What the hell is going on?
As you can hear, Lazurus’ voice echoed in the hollowness of Simon’s mind, with the voice of Ella speaking to you, I’ve managed to plant the seed.
Good. Now we have a choice that must be made. Lamya said.
Before the conversation could go on any further, Simon spoke up. What of Rick? Where has he gone?
That isn’t priority at this moment Simon. We are more concerned about our next target. Lamya replied.
Mageria or Crystal? Vorso spoke up, knowing that the job would be appointed to him and his team. Not sure. Both of them could get in the way of our accomplishing what needs accomplishing. I’ll sit on it for a couple of months. Let things pan out and see where things take me.
Simon scoffed, as no one else seems to care, I’ll be after Rick. Think of it as an attempt to preserve the chain of command.
The chain of— Vorso said before Simon cut all his communications off with the Conflict. This would be the last time that they would use Simon’s form of communication for a while.

-----

“The chain of command?” Vorso slyly remarked under his breath.
Vorso grabbed a glass from the table that hadn’t been ruined by the fighting. He took a sip from the glass so that there was exactly a third of the drink as there was in the glass before. He placed it back onto the table and then started walking off into the heart of the castle.
He knew that there was some truth to what Simon had just said. The Conflict’s chain of command was in shambles. Lamya was only first in command by title as she really did nothing that could be described as organized. This left Rick in charge of organizing things for the most part. Since he’d gone insane, he could no longer attend to his duties the way he was supposed to. Lazurus was an interesting story. The man who was alive, but dead at the same time. The second that he was done with Ella’s body or he could no longer control Ella’s body, he would himself be dead. That left only one person in the chain of command that was in his way of taking the role of active leader of the Shadow’s Conflict: Simon.
Vorso stopped when he reached a small dining room it wasn’t in any way lavish. It was more or less used by the slaves who had been commissioned to work for the King. It had a table and a couple of chairs. Only big enough to hold about six or seven people, five if one wanted to be comfortable. That was what made this room perfect for Vorso’s needs.
Four men walked into the room. The four men were the elemental users of the Conflict. The one’s that Vorso had power over.
“We will keep an eye on Mageria, but for now, we have more pressing matters. Simon needs to be eliminated.”

-----

Evin looked around the room. He wasn’t sure what had just happened. The woman who was just in the fight against the man who had instigated the biggest conflict in the ballroom was angry enough to force the party to end. On top of it all, the crowds were rushing to get out of the room as quickly as possible. Only about five people could fit through the doors at a time and with the crowds all bunching up right there, it could take minutes to actually get out of the castle. Evin decided instead to sit back.
If there was one thing that he knew for certain, he knew that Jake would also wish to sit back. Jake was observant and what better time to observe people than when they leave a place. Usually, people feel less like they’re being watched when they are leaving a place, or at least, that was how Evin always felt when he left places.
Evin was just about to speak aloud when he was interrupted. “Not quite the party that I was expecting, Evin.” Jen sarcastically remarked as she approached him.
“It might not have been, but it sure was my kind of party.” Evin said.
“You must be insane.”
“More unafraid.”
Jen laughed. “To me, they’re the same thing.”
“Fine then. Call me crazy, but then I’ll call you crazy for being unafraid of the blissfully ignorant life you’ve been living.” Evin retorted.
“It wasn’t by choice!”
“Are you afraid of it?”
Jen paused for a moment. The only reason Evin could imagine her doing so was to look for a witty comeback to what he’d just said. With a sigh of defeat she said, “fair enough.”
Evin looked into Jen’s eyes for a moment. The two crystalline spheres flashed in and out as her eyelids closed and opened. It was a special ballet. A ballet where only the truest of onlookers would know exactly what the performers were trying to say. Soon, the crystal grew even clearer and they sparkled leaving Evin in wonderment and then consciousness. “Don’t worry.” He wiped the tears away. “I know what I have to do to solve everything.”
“Will you ever be able to solve yourself?”
Evin scratched his head. “What do you mean?”
“I’ll never be able to settle down if you don’t settle down. The only way you will ever keep me safe is if you stop protecting me.”
“There’s no truth to that.”
“Just hold me, Evin.”
Evin did exactly that. He grabbed her by the waist and pulled her close until they were united as one. Nothing could break that bond between them. Jen rested her head on his shoulder and she just let her emotions fly. All Evin knew to do was to rub her back and let her deal with the rest herself. Relations were never his strong suit.
“Jake. I know you’re there and I know that you want this to end just as much as I do.” Evin’s voice started to tremble. “He’s tried to hurt people we love and now he’s killed a queen. I’m going right to the camp after I’m through here.” Evin wasn’t finished, but he felt a cough coming.
He grabbed for the tissue he’d been using for his cough, which had been coming and going since he met up with Jen. Covering his mouth with the cloth, he let go. The pain from this cough was above a normal pain. He didn’t let anything show, but he sure didn’t like the feeling. When he uncovered his mouth, the cloth revealed something troubling. Blood. He looked at it for a moment, but then put it back into his pocket.
“It all ends in the next couple of days. Whether you are involved or not, Jake, it will end. If you join me, the odds will be better in our favor though.” Evin stopped talking. It was all he needed to say.
Evin stayed with Jen for as long as she needed. When she was done, he set off for the Wolf camp.