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Old February 15, 2013, 09:54 AM   #1
Tiyribi Andares
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Timestamp: Late Winter, Era XX Post-Fractum
Era I of the Reign of Rhysatra I


“Inside Our Scars” by Veer Union

She road, silently, with an entire guard composed of a single stout human woman that was just as taciturn as her mistress. The rest of the Centripaxian Lady Governor’s entourage had been sent on to Port Alyxandrya, and warned sternly to move slowly; Tiyribi had made special preparation to ensure that even despite her small detour into New Coldmoon, she’d still arrive in the City of Queens before the rest of her train of people. Obscurity, after all, was a hard commodity to come by for one who had been thrust into the public eye as of late—but, for now, she’d take all of it that she could manage to devise.

Now, though, Tiyribi Andares was but a single, simple soul riding a slow-paced mount into the walls of what had once been an elfin stronghold, a city that had held as many questions as it did answers for her in the past. It was here that the Esh’lahier woman was naturally drawn when she had broke down the outer ice encasing one Aryun Maeve and information came pouring out of the spigot like spring water. That had been the connection Tiyribi had wanted to see, that realization that the Maeve knew more details about what had transpired in her own gubernatorial palace in Tempris and that there was more to be discovered. The Orodites had helped her once. She desperately prayed that they would be inclined to do so again.

And then, of course, there was the name of the Naturan ranger that Aryun had provided—but that was a road that Tiyribi wasn’t yet strong nor brave enough to hazard. The wounds of her vicious argument with her husband were still far too fresh in the depths of her heart, and she had no desire to tempt the strength of her self-control any further than it already had been over the past few cycles. No, she wouldn’t think of it now and perhaps not ever if the pain in her heart was still to be believed.

By now the spires of the city were enveloping them on all sides as they walked slowly through the streets, one Esh’lahier and one human. Such a sight was a travesty on the honor of the former elfin kingdom, but such was the state of the world now, Tiyribi mused. By habit and old experience she guided the reins of her dappled horse toward the Temple of Orod, stopping just outside to dismount and hand the leather straps over to her follower, indicating to the latter that she ought to stay outside.

Heavy gloves slapped loudly against each other as Tiyribi began to remove the outer vestiges of her traveling clothes, revealing the very simple style of a commoner underneath, with heavy breeches and a spun blouse underneath the thicker layer of blue-dyed woolen cloak that hung well over her shoulders. The latter did much to hide the physical toll her daughter’s birth had taken on her already-lithe form, but the deepness of the color only accented the lack thereof in her skin. It wasn’t just the typical deathly pallor attributed to the blood of her race; Tiyribi still carried the distinct traces of illness and the shadow of the Umblat, and by now, even with months separating that day and now, it was doubtful that she’d ever truly recover from the ordeal.

Her violet eyes adjusted quickly to the dimmer interior as she approached the door, quiet, thoughtful, but ever watchful for the sight of the old man that had once greeted her in the foyer or the equally elderly priest who had guided her down into the city’s basements. For now, though, Tiyribi took on the pose of a quiet petitioner, finding a bench somewhere off to the side of the room, far enough from the entrance to give a sense of purpose but not near enough to the front to seem like prayer was the only reason she was here. She sat, head still upright and vision still glancing, with hands folded delicately in front of her, waiting.

Waiting.

If nothing else, at least she’d have some peace this day.
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Old February 22, 2013, 11:34 AM   #2
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Four ravens ducked low, barely above the line of trees surrounded the gates as the two stepped into the old and dead heart of the Elfin Rebellion. New Coldmoon had been built atop Coldmoon, and the dead had been buried underneath new civilizations, almost symbolic in a manner of ways that those who were born of these lands will not forget the sacrifices and painful lessons learned from the past.

Not understanding that seeds sown from the same tainted ground would be blemished as well, for separationists were known to be rife in this area and Archalen's attempt to instill his own style of governance in this city had been met with more than futile resistance. There were power in old names, Tiyribi must know this, and therefore also appreciate that there were even more power in old places and lands -- even if the walls and buildings were new, the blood that had soaked into these grounds were ancient.

The apostate birds were gliding low, heading deeper into the city as though warning those within of her arrival. They had watched the two as they approached, cawing in loud, warning cries, and then hopping from bare tree to bare tree before taking to the skies.

There was of course, something quite disturbing about their feral intelligence, and also because ravens only take particular fascination in dying things.

New Coldmoon was the same as before, except that the incursion of the Dolwood seemed to have been more rampant than before, with part of the city walls being consumed entirely now, and still vibrant in the very depths of winter. Magic, it seemed, especially nature's magic, seemed to defy the very logic understood by the momento mori.

They arrived at the temple quite quickly enough, a few looks were given to her due to her prominent features, some even scandalized; yet this was a time when the world was not alike that of old times, and even esh'lahiers could be made Imperial Baroness.

There was no sight of the two elders when she entered, the temple was otherwise quiet, and there was of course that same religious vibe that swirled around places of worship as she entered, the sensation of a higher power present and watching.

It wasn't until she took her bench, and a moment later, was she accosted.

The young temple faithful, a half-elf with light brown hair that shimmered with such a quality that only those of Phedos' children would stepped forward lightly, clad in the temple livery aligning him with the Temple. His hands were folded in his sleeves, and there was a concerned expression on his face, far younger than Tiyribi, but then there was an unspoken wisdom that spread from his being.

We know you'd return, eventually. We bid you welcome, Tiyribi Andares, Baroness of the Midlands. The words could almost be considered sarcastic, but then the tone carried a voice so still that it could only be considered true neutrality.

And then with liberty, he took his seat beside Tiyribi, glancing at her curiously.

"You know you are no longer safe here, and yet you come. Why?" Such was true of course, after all, she had the information that the same people who had tried to take her child were known to frequent the old capital of the Elvish Empire, and yet here she was.

Perhaps it was because there was always hope, for with it, the soul can burn and not be damned.
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Old February 22, 2013, 03:38 PM   #3
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Empty—the very state seemed terribly fitting, appropriate even, given the whirlwind of events that had brought Tiyribi here in the first place. This was New Coldmoon, the historical haven of the very same people that had tried to rob her of her child and of her life with equal malice. It was also the first place where she had found sense, at last, after long eras of darkened madness.

It was strange how the two events seemed to interrelate to such a great depth, and now twisted around until they were at this one final point.

Her eyes fluttered closed for a minute and her headed tilted back, resting as it would against the cold stone of the basilica’s walls. Why was she here? What did she hope to find? Solace. The old priest had once told her that logic was the only truth, that emotions were to be shunned and merely complicated issues that were better left to the mind alone. Now she began to see why the Orodite order had demanded celibacy of their members, and just how convoluted the world could be when she allowed herself the freedom to care—even if it was restricted only to those few that she dared called family.

This self-made reverie caused Tiyribi to be unaware of the young elf’s approach, lost as she was in her own head. The sound of his voice made her jump slightly with eyes shooting open, and not settling even when she made sight with the cause of the disturbance. Even now the vision of lightborn in front of her eyes made her nervous, frightened even, and she pulled her weight back and her gaze down ever so slightly as if to hide from the piercing nature of his.

His words merely added to her growing sense of unease, and the Esh’lahier’s lips pinched into a frown. She didn’t like that this elf knew who she was, that he had some precognizant knowledge that she would come, and that he was using that title that she still felt like bile in the back of her throat. She didn’t answer, preferring instead to shake her head slightly and let her violet eyes roll listlessly down to wander the floor beneath her feet.

“I know,” was all Tiyribi answered, letting the simplicity and finality of those two words cut through the rest of the elf’s mockery hiding in his chiding tone, “but it is not my safety now that draws me hence.” Her pale hands clasped tightly together, and by instinct, her fingers were driven to touch lightly on the edges of the simple band around her left hand, twisting it, turning it, and thinking upon it. “Your order once rendered me clarity, and I have never forgotten this. I had prayed that I might avail upon its generosity once again for one whose innocence would ask for it.”

She paused for a moment, then let her gaze wander up to meet the elf’s with a spark of determination hiding in the center of their depths. “This danger of which you speak—I would see it ended before it dared think harm for my daughter or any child ever again.” Again came that crystalline sense of utter simplicity, that hardened edge on each and every consonant, and the sharpened sound on the end of her statements like so much thunderous rainfall.

No, she would not be denied.
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Old March 5, 2013, 11:34 PM   #4
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How strange it was, to see one of Phedos' children associate with one of the tainted. Yet there was no animosity in the eyes of the young creature that regarded Tiyribi, only nodding absentmindedly as though he had expected all those words, and had seen, perhaps the future, and was was merely now living and bidding through the passages of time and life -- until he reached the vital unknown.

There was no sympathy in that young visage that peered at her, almost curiously, like a twitchy cat of sorts, almost like she was a subject to be experimented and studied and researched upon. How strange then, indeed, for light elf their darker cousins to mingle, to converse in such a civilized manner as though no feud had ever existed between their race, as though their enmity did not stretch across millenniums, across hundreds of generations.

Yet such differences did not run so obviously in a place like this, in Orod's sanctuary. It was said in certain legends that Orod himself was blind -- he who has seen the beginning and the end, all its alternatives, and all the possibilities, that sight was no longer needed for the God who saw everything. And so it seemed fitting that his disciples, his faithful were above such trivial things, interesting themselves in the true things that mattered.

"Every action has a reaction." A voice called out from behind them, and Tiyribi could see that this time the face was a familiar one -- the bald elder who had no qualms about exacting torture upon those imprisoned underneath the catacombs of the temple. He seemed unchanged as before, the same beady eyes, quiet and unassuming disposition, in the same tired and old robes.

It was hard to tell from his tone what he meant exactly -- whether or not Tiyribi coming here was a reaction to the harm that had promised upon her child, or whether her being here would have opposite reactions that would revisit her and her family.

"Novice Fergus, you may leave now." A wave of his arm sent the younger acolyte bowing and then retreating, blending into the temple background.

The elder moved closer, but did not sit next to her, he smelled of old mould, not an entirely unpleasant smell, but then not exactly pleasant either. A small bow of acknowledgement to her titles was performed, and the slight flinch and wince from his lips indicated some very poor joints in his limbs as he pulled his robed sleeves around his wrists, veiling his fingers as they were pulled together before his abdomen.

"You cannot destroy what you do not know." Affirming Tiyribi's decision in venturing here to Coldmoon, a mild tone of approval in his voice -- and then a crooked smile even that would likely make he more faint-hearted run the other way screaming given it wasn't just creepy; it resembled that of the grotesque grin of a skull.

"Yet knowledge exerts its own price, sometimes obviously, sometimes much more subtly. Do you know this then, Baroness? Is your heart and soul strong enough?" Almost a humane concern from the cold, numb priest that seemed to see people and things as flowing, sequential events that ultimately drew no true emotion from him.

And then that warmth receded, only to be replace by a crystalline chill, an admonition.

"No matter, it would be, or it wouldn't."
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Old March 6, 2013, 08:51 AM   #5
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Silence.

Already her hands were involuntarily clenching as she felt her blood begin to rush with the great miasma of emotions she had held inside all these months. Tiyribi was anger. She was hurt. There was deep-seeded fear and overwhelming panic there, too, and a fierce sense of indignation. Some of it felt guilty and others felt unrighteously wronged. And now, at this moment, when this elf said nothing in response to her posed questions, she felt fury—a complicated sense, certainly, as convoluted as it was with all the darker and heavier emotions wrapped up inside, but, for now, it was the sharpest and therefore clearest.

She was about to do something that never in a lifetime would the cautious Tiyribi Andares ever have done when the priest’s voice caught up with her ears. She didn’t recognize him at first, but the mere presence of someone else caused her mind to slip out of clara again and her posture to grow far more relaxed and less rigid now. It lost its protectiveness. It lost its resentment. And now, instead, her eyes dropped pointedly away from the lightborn priest that had so carelessly interloped on her private reverie and instead looked away, distantly into the blank side wall of the basilica, with hands folded in front of her and breaths slow and deliberate.

Oh, how she was tempted to shoot back a bitingly sarcastic remark to the old priest’s first statement, as plainly and simply obvious as it was. She was a sorcerer, was she not, and a politician? How well she understood that an individual was never isolated, that a pebble thrown into a still pond had ripples, and that the harder one pushed the more the world would ever fight back. She played in this game of scales regularly, tipping this and knocking that, all in the hopes that it would somehow keep the peace in the end.

And what had it cost her? Again her eyes fell to the ring on her finger, and again she felt the now-familiar prick of heat form in the corners of her eyes.

“That is why I am here.” Her voice was flat and surprisingly emotionless, as if the very thoughts inside her head had robbed it of all sentiment. Her gaze slowly floated over toward the priest now, steady, and the subtle light of recognition appeared on her ashen, pallid features. “Good father,” she offered as respectful greeting, even tilting her head in deference and letting her eyes drop in time. Ah, yes. Tiyribi remembered this one. And from the look on his face and the form of his words, he remembered her too.

This was the connection she had been searching for, the link in the chain that Aryun Maeve had begun to form when he gave away those small, almost imperceptible hints during their conversation in Primus Gaudeo. There was something here, and the Orodites had to know it. They played in logic, after all, and paid their bills in the currency of facts. They had explained things once. Maybe they could do so again.

But at what cost? she heard echoing in her mind in tandem with the old priest’s own words. She knew that. She had seen the measures done to the man who had meant her harm in the past, just to protect her pursuit of power. She had witnessed what happened when someone dared to go against the grain of these Orodites and open doors into Aeternian means. She knew what it meant to “pursue truth”, and that such a noble sentiment was rarely completed with an equally honorable path.

And yet it did not matter when Tiyribi recognized what she was here to protect and defend and maintain. She had already lost a husband. She would not lose a daughter.

“I will do what is necessary,” she finally answered softly, still sharing a steady glance with the old priest while his bones creaked and groaned as he sat, “because of what is at risk.” She frowned at that, but elaborated no further. “I did not heed your previous warnings, I fear, and have had my heart entangled by those I would seek to protect. But now I must ask not only your forgiveness for that oversight, but also your help again. I would know of it, of them, of this evil of which I speak and that you know, in order to see it finished.”

She wrung her hands together again as her voice fell into a whisper now, hoarse and telling. “I cannot tell you for certain of my strength to bear this thing,” Tiyribi confessed, “but I must try.”
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Old March 7, 2013, 11:14 AM   #6
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All was listened to with a keen, curious eye that dipped a few times into a frown throughout Tiyribi's string of words. There was of course something rather peculiar about this one -- this one who had no qualms dispensing devices and methods of torture on his prisoners, but appear rather uncomfortable in actual social interaction, as though such mundane activities were ultimately not enough to stimulate actual interest.

"Evil? Surely they are no more evil than someone attempting to fulfil their vision. Crazy, perhaps, but evil?" The elder priest murmured with a pensive expression, entirely nonplussed as to whether or not he would wound the Andares' dignity with his words. There was no point, after all, in gilding the lily given the rather dire situation the Baroness and her family were in.

With a soft shrug of his shoulders, the priest began again in earnest, little trace of emotion laced into the words, an utter nonchalance that was carried in his mannerisms, as though it was a casual market conversation that had on meaning or bearing on one's life and death.

"Their ways, after all, are no more different than some of the tactics employed in Ethgan'tor, at least be thankful that the Baroness' daughter was not snuffed to death in the middle of the darkening by her own pillow." An apathetic gaze was levelled at the noble pale elf, a distinct lack of sympathy in his tone -- whatever warmth he had revealed at first had regressed into a scary, horrifying train of logic that had no room for such sentiments. They were simply now, cold, hard, facts, and Tiyribi and her daughter were simply lifeless subjects to their ever observing eyes and omnipresent ears.

There was a severe lack of attachment to his next words as the elder spoke them -- he wiggled his eyebrows, almost like a dare for Tiyribi to challenge his words, almost as though he welcomed the debate, but then then eventually, sighed slowly, almost tiredly, before he continued.

"To defeat the Elder Circle the good Baroness must understand her own motivations," He now bore the tone of an indulgent teacher, motioning for the esh'lahier's rapt attention, his fingers moving from under his sleeves, fidgeting and twitching quickly as the words moved through his teeth and worked off his tongue.

"You are not doing it because they are evil." The human stated simply, his voice cold as a stern priest speaking his impersonal benediction to an equally frigid God. His beady eyes were glossed over at the last sentence, almost a half-smile darting across his face, but then it ghosted away before it was truly formed on his sallow face.

This was not a place, it seems, for sympathy or understanding. There were only actions and decisions, and emotions, or the showing or revelling in such only held one back, distracted them from the distilled objectives and choices they needed to make.

"You are doing it because it is personal." And then a quiet expression of quiet and solemn dignity, as he brought the conversation back to his original point, hoping perhaps now that the woman before him saw the situation far more clearly, from his vantage point, at least.

"Do you understand now? The price that would be exacted?"
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Old March 7, 2013, 09:36 PM   #7
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She smirked at that, a slightly sideways expression that, in truth, was far more of a window into the Esh’lahier’s mishmash of emotions than she typically granted anyone, let alone someone that was a near-stranger to her. This priest, though, had shown her the real cost of the pursuit of power and ambition—one’s very morality—and now he thought to lecture her again. It would have been amusing if it had been a different time and there were different strains written on the lineaments of her face. Instead, she merely found it painfully appropriate, as only a fool would have expected anyone to stand with her at this juncture.

Slowly she shrugged, letting her gaze drop and her tone fall to nearly a whisper. “Are they not one in the same?” The sentiment Tiyribi now voiced was one echoed so often in the corridors underneath these great stone halls, as she had seen herself eras ago when this very same priest had taken her down to the cells. Insanity, they had said, was the cardinal sin against Orod himself. It was strange, then, that these had been tasked with easing her transition back into the seat of governor when she had been taken ill with the very same—but they also knew the reasons, and now so did she.

Gods, she had been such a fool to trust that anyone, particularly any lightborn, would ever do anything but harm to her and her loved ones. She had been warned before; she should have remembered and never dropped her guard. But she didn’t, and now she was here.

The mention of the conservative beliefs in Ethgan’tor brought another slight scowl to her face—more emotive expressions that Tiyribi found herself unable to hide given her troubled and twisted state of mind. Though apathy had long been her protective mask, it failed her now when she felt nothing but anger and sadness and guilt. “I relinquished their blood long ago,” Tiyribi asserted, her tone leaving no room for doubt, “and belong to them no more. This cannot be a wrong in the sight of Orod, Father, for though the blood feeds the mind, it does not rule it. Logic does. And logic has dictated that Ethgan’tor is lost and its people no more, and I call no lineage my own.”

It was true, every word of it, though it was the first time Tiyribi had spoken of such sentiments despite knowing them ever so thoroughly in the depths of her heart. Eras ago, she had fallen in love with a Vysstichi—an unthinkable crime in the measures of her people. An already-strained tie had been broken at last, and Tiyribi hadn’t looked back once. She didn’t need them so long as she had Faust.

That fact was exacerbated the day she had learned that they were expecting a child, that Esh’lahier and Vysstichi would be mixed and that a baby would be born within the era. Whatever last bit of attachment she still held to her traditionalist people had been utterly severed then, as her very nightmares had repeated the same sort of imagery that this priest now thought to voice. No, she wasn’t Esh’lahier anymore; her future, and especially Iliviana’s, no longer laid in the palms of pallid hands. This was their world, this fractured empire of men and kings and dukes and lords, and they were left to forge what and where they could in it.

The child. The mere thought of her daughter combined with the old Orodite’s words, and Tiyribi felt each and every one prick at the soft flesh of her heart like a surgeon’s sharp needle lancing not-yet-healed wounds. “You are right.” The words were solemn and heavy on the tongue, but there was no mistaking the confidence cutting in every single sound. It would have shook the very foundations of Aetheria if it could. “It is personal.”

And then her eyes flickered over toward the priest once more, wary and yet somehow steady in the midst of it all. The price, he asked. How often had she asked the same thing in the darkness of the night and the stretching silence, and received no answer? “So long as it is exacted from me,” she said evenly, “then I care none.” She frowned slightly again, and shook her head as if answering her own inward question. “I cannot believe that the Patron of Logic would look down upon natural instinct. Thus I cannot believe this is the wrong course in the least.” She was pleading now, breaking, cracking, and the violet orbs that turned up to the priest now were deeply questioning in their bright shimmer. “Can it?”
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Old March 8, 2013, 11:16 AM   #8
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"Are they?" Challenged the priest again, his brows raising slightly -- of course, it was a particularly personal question for the Andares given how she had succumbed to such maladies of the mind once as well, and here she was now, deeming the insane evil. Had she then, been tainted by the same source she accused of the Elder Circle?

His lips twitched, and then pursed together as Tiyribi Andares spoke of her dissociation from Ethgan'tor and their machinations, nodding quietly, but saying little or offering little sympathy, and her conclusion of the entire affair even eliciting an approving smile from the elder, though the creature before her was so self-contained that any smile appeared insincere and even mildly condescending.

"Instinct is drawn from perception. Logic is fuelled by analytics of the mind." The human shrugged indifferently, stroking his chin thoughtfully, finally, he nodded slightly, his voice still incredibly cold and void of emotion and feeling, though he was in actual acquiescent with what the woman was saying, or at least the sentiment of it all. The expression of it were simply trivial matters not worth arguing over.

"If we are governed by instincts, then we are no better than the lower beasts -- it is our ability to rationale that separates us from the mindless critters."

Such a thing, however, may not be so easy for esh'lahiers to accomplish -- they were flawed creatures from the get-go, touched by Meephos, marked by Haya. Even redemption by Ioannes could not mask that taint; for such was the fact about innocence: once lost, can never be redeemed.

There were those of the dark blood that were nothing more than a body of unmitigated urges and desires -- instincts that propelled them to become feral, vicious creatures, and then there were those like Tiyribi, who must make battle brightening to brightening to curb those flashes of impulse that were so easily aroused.

"But yes, you are not wrong in trying to protect your child. It is natural, but logical? Logic have brought you here to Coldmoon, yet your heart weighs heavily, full of doubt and fear. Your instincts tell you one thing, but your mind speaks another."

Finally, there was a soft sigh that escaped his throat -- there was no mention of debts owed, or favors that are to be claimed; such concepts did not apply in a place like this -- rather, the price that are to be exacted with such knowledge came from the decisions and choices; thus the sacrifices that had to be made in the possessing of such information.

Quite clearly, the esh'lahier would understand how her life had been so entwined with this Orodite Order, and that her family, along with the other intrigues within Enamoria, especially those surrounding the Maeve, were in some manners, under their thrall, subtle as they were in their mannerisms.

Those with the least power, were after all, most eager to use it.

"Yet it is not quite so simple, Baroness, you are a mother, yes, but you are also a wife, a Governor and a Baroness. The price set upon you would eventually ripple to those under your care and those people you promised to protect." It was so simple, so final, yet the priest had rightly pointed out a flaw in her course of action -- to involve herself so directly in such a matter would mean putting her own welfare at risk, and in welcoming harm to her personage, those under her charge would ultimately be affected in the same vein.

And then finally, with all conditions met and the esh'lahier understanding what she was about to receive, and the implications that followed, the human priest relented, a tinge of pity crossing over his eyes -- for he was still mortal, and even in forsaking emotion for his God to keep his mind free from the bondage of such influences, was still fallible.

The Orodite Order had a soft spot for the Andares, and once again they were willing to offer what she wanted.

"What do you wish to know then, daughter?"
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Old March 8, 2013, 11:42 AM   #9
Tiyribi Andares
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Oh, she’d heard all that before. Such words about the difference between instinct and intellect had been oft-repeated in these very sacred hallways, as well as the silent corridors of her own mind. Who better than an Esh’lahier, the tainted former children of Phedos, could understand the conflict between deep impulse and conscious thought? Who better than Tiyribi Andares could intrinsically know what it meant to fall fully prey to the former and neglect entirely the latter?

No one, all the words answered back, and with but one glance into the priest’s eye Tiyribi could see that he, too, knew the answer just as well. That was why he had uttered those words. She barely stifled a sigh. Thin shoulders rolled forward, dejected, and her gaze was forced downward to study her non-accusatory hands once more. “But sometimes we are driven,” she spoke almost inaudibly, though the silence and shape of the room made the words echo loudly despite her best attempts. “Sometimes we make choices because we must.”

Her eyes closed when the priest’s words turned toward her child again, and again the image of her precious Iliviana danced tantalizingly in front of her memories. Gods, how she had struggled when she had chosen to leave the babe behind in the hands of her nursemaids, and how she had condemned herself a thousand times in the nights since! But she had made a choice because she must, and there was no turning back now. “Yes,” Tiyribi sullenly agreed with the priest, the corners of her lips pinching in frustration and that very same heart that he saw too well boiling with indecision. “Doubt and fear plague me in far greater measure than my mind can temper,” she admitted.

Oh, it was all so convoluted, this world that held no love for the choices that she had made, the Multiverse that had stood at contrary opinions with her at every turn. She had thought once, many eras ago, that that love she and her eventual husband had fostered would be enough to shelter and protect and inspire them against all the constant and perpetual conflict their decision to unite would cause. That, though, hadn’t anticipated the pressure that welled up from the inside, personified as it had been by the presences of Aryun and Aeris Maeve in the Concordia Incola offering acceptance, legitimacy, and affirmation.

And she had agreed—for her daughter’s sake, most certainly, but also partly for her own too. She had thought the choice so clear, so obvious, when it was first presented. But then there was the anger, the fury, and the disappointment written so patently in her husband’s face, and Tiyribi realized that she had made a mistake.

But not again. She would not again confuse the plying of ambition with the motivations of love. They were not the same. She would not treat them as such ever again.

She glanced at the priest once over the side of her shoulder, finding some home for his words in the very far remote corner of her mind that knew that they were true, that knew keenly that he spoke the things her logic dictated, and that she ought to heed them all. But she didn’t. She wouldn’t make that mistake again, as public was overtaken by private and she felt again the deep, heavy scars of her husband’s absence and the way he had refused her. “There are times when we can see no alternative, Father. There are decisions that must always be made, no matter what the rest of the world sees.”

This was one of those times. It was. It had to be. “Tell me where they are.” Each word dropped and fell in singular and clear enunciation, pounding and heavy in the echoing basilica’s chambers. “I would ensure that they never again cause harm to my family first, and the rest of the world be damned.”
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Old March 8, 2013, 11:34 PM   #10
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The priest shook his head slowly at the woman's attempt to rationalize her own actions -- an action required because the logical mind was panicking and alarmed by how it was being outpaced by her own maternal instincts that had been so aroused by what had befallen her family. It had been one of the constant sentiment in her life now, leaving her scars and marks and claws in her soul to awaken the paranoia, the irrationality, the insensible and volatile part of her.

Still, he said nothing. She would not change her mind or veer from her course -- this much was obvious, and it was not allowed for the priest to save her from herself. She had after all, been offered the warnings once, and had chosen not to heed them, no one ever did, which was why no one ever made it through life unscathed.

That was, perhaps the beauty and horror of it all.

And so, despite knowing and being confronted that this was a mistake, Tiyribi let herself commit that error. She had no choice, after all, truly.

"You can still choose. You can always still choose." The elder human murmured sullenly -- he was conflicted now too, for he knew that he was condemning her to a fate, and letting the events that would come to pass flow just a little bit faster. Such was against the virtues upheld within the Order, who knew and observed all, but rarely interfered with the affairs of men.

Yet she was here, and she had demanded to know despite the warnings. He sighed once, the frigid exterior having been melted away now for a brief moment, and he was communing with her not as a priest of the Patron of Logic now, but a human being, with the ability to empathize and feel another's plight, though his lips worked in quiet desperation, a hope that she would somehow abandon this foolish notion that would destroy her.

"Some are here, in this very city." He chimed in quietly, watching her reaction, and then his hands fell from his abdomen, giving up entirely in attempting to straying her from her self-destructive course.

"Some..." His voice trailed off, and then the mask was back on, the apathy instantly felt. It was to armor himself and his brothers and sisters from the horrors of the world outside, to watch Empires burn and feuds that spanned centuries, to watch Ancients brutalize an entire civilizations in the name of salvation, and to see thousands upon thousands perishing with the ensuing Fog, and could do nothing.

He stood up and moved towards the depths of the temple, using a route that she was not unfamiliar with -- for she too, had once walked this path down to the catacombs, the prison for the insane and others that had been condemned to dwell in the darkness for crimes deemed by the Order.

Indeed, their lack of discrimination in taking prisoners would have echoed within Tiyribi's conscience that if she ever became a liability, she too, could be taken into such a place and entombed for eternity, and no one would ever know.

Was this all a trap then? Was he luring her down to her stony prison to save themselves from her trouble? A torch was handed to her as they descended, and the air remarkably changed from the incense of the hallowed halls to the stench of excrement, blood and rotting flesh -- of suffering and pain and anguish.

There was a faraway cry in this place, a mute, psychic scar from thousands having perished and died here, most of them tortured to death, and even more slowly living a life worst than Aeternia. Hidden eyes watched them, none daring to move forward into the radius of the light from the hissing fire that protested against the heavy moisture in the air.

Finally the priest stopped, a robotic turn towards one of the numerous cells as he pushed the torch towards the shadows -- an action that elicit a movement from within the darkness, a lurching sound followed by a shuffling as the creature shrank from the light.

Lash marks had covered her body, and she appeared disheveled, her clothing torn and broken as her skin, bits of scalp exposed from hair being yanked from the roots forcefully and cruelly.

She stared at Tiyribi and the priest in a catatonic manner, her sanity clearly having abandoned her, and if the priests had done this to her, then it appeared justified that they kept her here, for the loss of one's rationality was a venal sin in the eyes of Orod the Keeper of Logic.

And then his stony voice echoed through the tunnels, and the others were listening in the ever darkening air, hissing, gasping, a chittering here and there, delighting in that the priest had come for someone else that was not them.

"This is Alatir, a prisoner of the Temple. She was taken by our Order for crimes against the Crown and the Sacred Three, in attempting to harm the child of a Governor of the Imperium." His voice sunk low, the realization almost striking Tiyribi tangibly in her stomach as she would come face to face with one of those that had been there to upset her world forever that fateful brightening when the Incola Concordia's defenses had been so blatantly breached.

"She would have your answers, if your resolve does not waver." A quiet, pale face regarded her one last time, the priest wanting to be sure she understood what she must do, no matter how vile the act was, to grasp upon the one thing her heart desired.
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Old March 9, 2013, 12:21 AM   #11
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Could she? Oh gods, how she wished she could, how Tiyribi wished she could believe the priest’s sentiment as steadily as he did. Even the simplest yes and no junctures became inordinately complicated when one’s affections were so deeply intertwined, and this particular crossroad was interlaced with the threads of those she held most dear and those she could not afford to lose. “No,” she whispered back, quietly reluctant now as she felt keenly the power behind standing contrary to the Orodite’s sentiments, “there is no choice allowed.”

They had come to her home, her family, and thought to steal it all away. They had tried to kill her, to harm her husband, and to steal their child. This war had not been one started by her own hands, but Tiyribi had every intention of seeing it properly vetted to the end, no matter what toll or sacrifice it required of mind, heart, body, and soul. She would not allow this threat to cast a shadow over her darling child’s future; she vowed that no harm would ever come to Iliviana again. And her husband? Gods, she had hated those shadows she had seen drawn on his countenance since that fateful day, and had thought that she could, that she would, somehow erase them by assuring their child’s future—but it had been wrong, and he had gone, and now she was here alone.

She was the only one to hear the priest’s small confession, and she was the only one to nod in quiet understanding when he painted pictures of the deadly faction’s presence in this very city. It made sense; New Coldmoon was an elfin stronghold of legend, and thus had been the obvious choice when Tiyribi had first set out from Primus Gaudeo. Now, it seemed, all of her instincts were confirmed. “Then I would know them,” Tiyribi spoke evenly yet still far too quiet to give off any aura of certainty. No matter the instinct, no matter the impulse, there was still a whisper of logic inside her head—but for now, she chose to ignore it in its entirety.

Her eyes caught up to meet the elderly priest’s the moment his voice trailed off, watching him curiously. White brows furrowed, and she stood in time too, pressing hands to either side but saying nothing. The clear, emotionless expression on the old human’s face had assured her that no further answers lay within the bounds of verbal word; she would be shown now, as the last test of her resolve, before she had to make the final choice before she fell into the abyss forever.

But for Iliviana’s sake, she’d do so, and gladly, a thousand times over.

Her feet followed the priest’s slowly, deliberately even, though her eyes scattered in all directions as he began to lead down familiar hallways once more. Even now in the hold of the Orodites who had once rendered her such aid, Tiyribi felt the familiar pangs of wary mistrust throughout the back of her mind, pricking and pinching and yet never growing strong enough to overcome the impulse of protectiveness, of curiosity, of vengeance, that still ran heavy through her veins. She knew where they were going. A part of her dreaded it. A part of her looked forward to it. But all of her knew where those dark, shadowy, underground tunnels led and that the reality of logic’s counterpart—madness—would be clearly visible underneath.

She said nothing, much as they had done before, but rather let silence and old experience guide her again to the very pits of the ancient city of Coldmoon where sins were forgiven so long as they were kept far away from the very light of day. Another sin had been laid bare before her feet here in times past; now, it seemed, the priest was intent again upon revisiting a far greater injury that had been leveled on her innocent child. She set her jaw and felt her muscles involuntarily tense, all preparing to face the reality that she had been a fool again, that she had been bested again, and that this time, it was nearly her precious daughter that had paid the ultimate price for her failure.

One last deep, pure breath entered her lungs before the darkness and the smell and the dampness overtook her once more, and Tiyribi disappeared from the lives of common men to those who had fallen to the darker side of the Orodite order. She dared not glance to either side as the priest led on, being cautious to keep her eyes as fastened as possible to the ground and her feet still steady, though even she could hear the very doubt sounding in each and every step. Why was she here again? Was she ready to be here again? Could she survive being here again?

What was here?

And then the old man stopped and shone a light into the cell, gesturing the elf forward at the same time. She glanced once at the priest—a long, lingering stare that held a thousand questions tied up in its violet depths—then stepped forward into the black. She was careful to keep to the lines of yellow, as if the lantern’s light could somehow protect her against the must of insanity that settled on the skin like so much dust here.

And then she saw her, here.

There was no recognition in her eyes, no spark of knowledge on her face, but the moment the priest’s delineation of the woman’s crimes left his lips, Tiyribi began to understand. There was a possibility that this Orodite was lying to her, certainly, but that mattered little when the wounded, still-throbbing mother was faced with the reality that this was one of them, one of those abominable few that had tried to take her child away at the very moment of her birth. In everything did Tiyribi blame this one so fully, as if this woman alone had been the cause of those same torturous events and the only figure present that day, the only one responsible…

…for she had not the others presented so openly before her.

“Hm,” was all Tiryibi said as she stepped forward once more, hearing the priest’s words repeat through her head like a terrible echo that begged her to consider if her resolve was steady, if her will was in place, and if she could, indeed, take the bait that was dangling so sweetly before her. Gods, had she not questioned the priesthood’s methods eras before when presented with the man that had robbed her of her sanity? Had she not wondered aloud if such a thing was truly acceptable in the sight of an order-fearing Aetheria? Did not her stomach quail at the thought of the great harm and injustice of a conclave of robed priests keeping such a terrible secret underneath their temple floor?

But now? She remembered none of that, forcibly. Her eyes hadn’t moved from the broken, wounded form of the female, still staring laconically at the source of the light emanating from the doorway. She was someone’s sister, someone’s wife perhaps, and someone’s daughter—but she had sought to take Tiyribi’s own from her at the very start, and that she could never, ever forgive.

In an instant the Esh’lahier was in a state of clara, with instinct intentionally moving faster than logic or doubt could keep up with. Force essence was being reshaped into an altered form of Force Lariat, with one long, thick string of energy woven within. The center Tiyribi flung heedlessly at Alatir, intending to send her backward without a chance to react. The other ends Tiyribi wrapped about her neck and waist, hovering midair, and intending to catch the woman before she hit the back wall of the cell.

Her pallid hand was outstretched still, controlling the spell minutely, and her eyes locked into the woman’s with a deliberate evenness as Tiyribi took another step forward. With a pinch of her fingers, the glistening energy around the other woman’s neck tightened ever so slightly to be threateningly uncomfortable, but not enough to cut off breath—yet.

“I will ask you but once,” she finally spoke, flatly, refusing to deign far enough to pour any emotion into her tone, “and require an immediate answer. Who asked you to steal the child and where are they now?”

Her morality was what she offered on this altar, what had been asked of her this day—and for the sake of her beloved child, Tiyribi sacrificed conscience, justice, and even hope for herself. But in some things, there simply was no choice.
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Old March 11, 2013, 12:00 AM   #12
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"Your choices are your own, daughter, but yes, you always have a choice, even if you are blinded by your own instincts." The elder priest lamented slightly, shuffling along and watching quietly as the magic pinioned their prisoner against the wall, a simple threat, revealing her desperation and in turn empowering the light elf to withhold that information.

People with nothing to lose would cling onto concepts that would never hold water, and can be incredibly stubborn -- for information was power, and until that was exchanged, the moment of the shift of power, the inequality was the only disparity between them.

To give that information up would be the forfeit of her usefulness, her relevance, it was perhaps the only thing that was keeping her alive and not forgotten like the hundreds of others within the cells that had outlived their usefulness, and truly allowed the insanity to take over and transform them into another creature entirely.

She, after all, was not always alone in this cell -- there had been another, a human hag, who, in the first twenty seconds of having Alatir in the same cell as her was reduced to a catatonic daze thinking that the light elf was there to violate her.

And so the light elf laughed, trashing about with her limbs for in her own madness there was a clarity, figments of memories, instructions and parts of her old life flaring together with her new fate, coalescing like a strange pattern that turns lucidity to drooling fits of insanity.

The insane, after all, knew no fear.

"Your methods would never work," The elder priest chided mildly, reaching for something positioned in the far right of the corridor -- a rack of some sorts and handed her a many tongued whip -- the Cat O'Nail Tails, laced with strips of blunt metal that would bruise and break skin over repeated application; a far excruciating ordeal versus a bladed weapon that could immediately draw blood.

"Use this," The priest handed the leather corded hilt to her, a strange light in his eyes for the first time since Tiyribi had seen him this brightening -- the same glow that had been evident the first time she had watched him administer his own form of torture on the man that had been responsible for Tiyribi's own maladies.

It would appear there was little to stimulate this man anymore, but the promise of pain and the satisfaction of knowing he was doing his Patron's work still managed to elicit some kind of perverse joy in him. Good Gods, was Tiyribi somehow doing the work of those that too, were crazy and blighted in their own mannerisms?

"You find people respond better to cruder methods in this case."

Ah yes, but the insane knew pain, and the repetitive maltreatment of the same weapons they recognized were associated with some of the memories that still remained in the miasma of their minds, and even if they did not know why, they shrank from it.

"Wait!" Dissolving into a fit of crazed giggles, the light elf's eyes dilated and pulsed with an unearthly quality, seeming to calculate her options, a sly grin suddenly taking over her features. She must have been beautiful one, before she was taken, and brutalised by the Orodites that now seemed was a law unto themselves, dispensing justice and punishment when they deemed fit.

The logical Tiyribi would have decried such an act, yet here she was, fuelled by an indignant rage for those that would harm her daughter, and beginning to defile this woman's sanity further, making her the accomplice of the Orodites.

And then the light elf laughed, a cruel, mocking laugh, watching the esh'lahier as though finally understanding her for what she was, and who she was, and why she was here.

"What makes you think, we don't already have her now?"
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Old March 11, 2013, 12:37 AM   #13
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Nothing may have been verbally said, but the elf’s mind was racing with a million different arguments to countermand the priest’s ever-too-simple rebuttal. No, she inwardly screamed, listening to it echo off the hollow ridges of a heart left devastated when she had heard her husband say his final farewells and then disappear into nothingness. There was no choice anymore, not left to a mother who had nearly lost her child in the very first moments of her birth and then done such tremendous harm when she had thought to assure the babe’s future.

She had been so wrong, so deadly, utterly, and entirely wrong. And now she was left with no choice—only remnants of what she had so cruelly and heartlessly destroyed, and what pathetic remnants were left for her to try to rebuild between. In truth, though, reconstruction hadn’t driven her here to the Orodites in New Coldmoon; it was, instead, its polar opposite. And when it came to the safety of her daughter, she would fight far harder battles than the one currently waging in her mind to see that assured.

The prisoner’s stubbornness brought a powerful scowl to mar the Esh’lahier’s face, her fingers still outstretched as if they themselves were crushing the very life out of the female’s throat. Gods, she wished it. Every fiber of her being boiled with that poisonous desire for vengeance and the fulfillment of her great fury, as if she could somehow exact recompense for everything that had been stolen from her from the very lifeblood of this poor soul. They had dared to touch her daughter, and they would be made to pay.

“You underestimate them,” she replied back to the priest steadily. The corner of her peripheral vision watched him pick up a barbaric weapon of torture from a nearby rack, but she shook her head thoroughly when he tried to hand it off to her. “No.” Tiyribi took another pair of steps forward as her fingers began to pinch, one index finger against the thumb, and the energies under her control began to move in tandem. The lariat was squeezing now, tightly, around the neck and the chest, and forcing life-giving air from the elf’s body with ever cruel slowness.

But then the woman exclaimed something, and Tiyribi, out of sheer instinct, stopped. Her hands fell and the purple energies lost their tension in a single motion. “Yes?” she asked, though the question was anything but polite. Much as the priest’s eyes had flashed a sudden interest the moment they had entered the cell, Tiyribi’s had grown colder, lifeless even perhaps, and hardened in a way that none had ever seen before. Those pair of windows that were the single evidence of vitality existing underneath the deathly pallor of skin and plain, empty expression was now as devoid as all the rest, with no more glint than a cold stone dug out of the ground.

And then those cruel, terrible words left the elf’s mouth and it was all lost again. Her heart dropped into the very ground and her blood ran cold as fear took over as the new primal emotion on the forefront of mind and soul, and Tiyribi was now the one that couldn’t breathe. Her daughter—now? No, that couldn’t be. It wasn’t. It couldn’t. The panic was clearly evident on every detail of her face as her eyes widened and her thoughts grew fractured and impossible to keep, like so many silvery fish slipping effortlessly through her fingers.

What?” There was no mistaking the heavy emotion in that single word as those same lifeless eyes now ignited with a dark flame as she glared with far more than just fury now. “No…” Tiyribi started again, standing up straight and dispelling what remained of the lariat to form a new spell—one that had been used before to exact payment on those that had sought to hurt ones that bore her same name.

Clara let her see into the delicate waves of energy that still held the elf’s physical body together, and it was these that Tiyribi tampered with next. It was the right arm that she targeted first, infusing the delicate strands of energy already there with more, though these were already shaking and unstable globules pulled from the essence plane itself. It would rub and rub and rub, each against its neighbor, until a great heat built up and began to boil the blood from the inside as it vainly attempted to cool the effect down.

“I shan’t repeat the question,” Tiyribi spoke in a low voice, “and still expect an answer.” No, she wouldn’t deign to give this piece of trash a moment of assurance, as if whatever she said could actually hurt her. The harm had already been done. The scars had already been drawn. Her heart had already been broken. They could play and bandy in words and threats subtle and overt but Tiyribi had no patience to join in such games. She would trust that her daughter was fine, that she was under the care of those Tiyribi trusted with her very life, and that this thing was nothing but a liar from the pit of Aeternia itself.

And yet…
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Old March 15, 2013, 09:04 AM   #14
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The tiniest discomfort appeared quickly enough as the spell manifested, though the priest quietly murmured, offended by her words perhaps, or her refusal to partake in their rituals, preferring her own untested methods instead.

"Careful, daughter, I have made concessions for indulgence for your grief, but there are limits as to how much even you can exploit." A glassy expression fell upon the the bald human as he withdrew the weapon. If it was a threat, then it would be the most unassuming, meekest one that Tiyribi had ever heard -- but then she would be a fool not to heed his words, especially after knowing their secret -- this secret she was now in.

The weapon was lifted higher just ever so slightly, as though ready to strike out at something -- Tiyribi or the light elf, it was difficult to tell, but then the blonde haired elf shrank back at object, recognizing its ability to cause pain over and over again.

The priest, after that vague movement, however, withdrew his reach and stared at Tiyribi without sympathy, a certain void in those eyes that made them inhuman in their own way.

And if they turned on her and imprisoned her here in the well of the dark earth, then no one would ever find her.

The light elf screamed as the discomfort grew into pain, and the heat began to sear her from the inside. A torturous agony, as it would appear. She screamed, again and again, but she did not answer the Andares' question, defiant even in the brink of death.

"The prisoner have been conditioned for a purpose, and now your methods are undoing such a mental configuration. An introduction of a new sensation grants her the concept of change, a hope martyrdom, which she now seeks."

"Death is a release for her. She is not afraid of it. You do not understand your enemy. And so you would not defeat them, no matter how hard you try." It was so simple, so final, and spoken in a tone so cold that it would remind the Baroness of frigid wintry darkenings void of all comfort. It was hard to imagine how a living creature would possess such an unfeeling, detached tone.

The true voice of the watchers, who, having seen all the brutality and fatalistic nature of the momento mori, had been too raw, too numb to let such trivial and lone paths of destructions faze them. They had seen entire civilizations slaughtered, their culture destroyed in one brightening. Tiyribi Andare's self-destruction rampage against the Elder Circle was nothing to them.

Perhaps it was what that was so unbearable -- that something so dear and intimate to her could not move others. And that the outsider could move on without a shred of pause or remorse if her daughter could be taken and murdered. Their lives would remain unchanged, their seasons would still shift, and nothing would be stirred.

Had she realized this yet? In the gloom of the the Orodite's torture garden? That this knowledge being so personal to her, would not be fulfilled by another, but by herself. The priest had after all, avowed as much, that it was self-interest that drove her here, and it was then within herself that she would find the answers.

Perhaps.

Perhaps she would still receive a general direction in her own searching, to sieve through the murk that her enemies sought to pull over her eyes.

"You said you were willing to pay any price to exact that knowledge," The Orodite flashed his cold, lifeless eyes at her, letting the weapon fall with his fingers, an expression of nonchalance on his features. A single person did not matter to them, they dealt with genealogies.

"I now doubt you truly so." There was a disappointed tone to the elder's voice, almost as though he had tried, and now his will was vanquished by Tiyribi's demonstration. They had received her this brightening for ties established before, yet it appeared that in her emotion-fueled quest, she may inevitably sour that bond.
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Old March 18, 2013, 11:31 PM   #15
Tiyribi Andares
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As much as she hated to admit it, the priest’s gentle chiding had its intended effect. Doubt had already spread the fertilizer in her mind; the seeds were planted, and then suddenly Tiyribi realized just what she was doing, what she had let herself become, and she felt herself suddenly hesitate. Her hand released and she turned her gaze from prisoner back to priest, curious, fearful, like a child wanting to know what they had done wrong and yet still dreading the inevitable reprimand as they were only partially convinced that they were guilty.

“I—” And then her eye fell again on the leather straps that the old man held aloft, and Tiyribi, too, flinched away from its appearance in time with its intended target. Her mind inevitably drifted back to thoughts of her daughter, and again the Esh’lahier felt that now all-too-familiar stinging of fury being twisted and churned up in the pit of her belly. Her shoulder was rolling forward. Her arm was moving. Her hand was beginning to flex and then relax. She glanced again at the blonde elf and she remembered that they had dared to cross the threshold of her home with the intent to kill and to destroy…

…and they had taken Iliviana’s very innocence in the first candlemarks of her life, and that was inexcusable, unforgettable, and unforgiveable. They could not honestly believe they could harm her daughter and never feel the same heated barbs of vengeance thrown back at them with equal intensity.

And yet…

A frown appeared at the corner of her lips as the priest explained further the delicate mental training that had occurred in these shadowy depths, tuning the elf woman’s mind like so much wood under a carpenter’s blade, and she found it disgusting—not for the dark elegance of the thing, but rather that they had seen this piece of trash worth any of their attention at all. She wasn’t mortal. She hadn’t a shred of that thin line that connected them all as Telathian beings, or else she would not have thought to harm a child—her child—for the mere sin of being born.

“Then perhaps she should die.” But she regretted it the moment she said it, and such was instantly obvious on her disapproving expression. She dropped her head at that, shaking it too, and pressing her fingers against the bridge of her nose to try to relieve the sudden pressure of an oncoming headache. “No, I…” Her voice was softer now, nothing more than ordinary conversation, and tinged with utter disappointment. “…I don’t.”

She breathed deeply once, then twice, then a third time to try to calm her nerves and stifle the heated prick of tears she was beginning to feel form in the corners of her eyes. “You’re right. I don’t understand at all, and I fear that I never shall.” All of her face pinched and clenched at that, finding the very realization threatening and unbelievable all in one breath. “How could they do this, Father? How could they think that this battle that they have started would not be repaid in kind? How could the Logician not see how action and consequence makes sense, that natural instinct somehow makes sense?”

But she was rationalizing, and even in her most distressed state of mind, Tiyribi recognized when she was grasping at fragments. She had known since the moment she knew herself to be in love with Faust that they were treading a dangerous path, and one that the world would never, ever accept, no matter how much each of them wished to believe it. And Iliviana? She was just an easier, more obvious target for the same sort of prejudice, hate, and malice that had been her inheritance from both parents since the day of her birth.

And one of the guilty elfs had been an Esh’lahier—and that made Tiyribi shudder. One of her own people had joined with this Elder Circle, or at least been swayed by their powers of persuasion, and had sought to kill her and take her daughter away. It shouldn’t have been surprising; her people had thrived on deceit and treachery to ensure their survival since their migration to the Medonian continent. But to think that in that most precious, vulnerable of moments, they sought to destroy everything, the only things, she loved…

…it was irreprehensible.

“How can I pay it when I don’t understand it?” Tiyribi said sadly, and then let her glance linger again at the weapon still held in the priest’s hand as she did. Again she visibly wavered and then moved her attention toward Alatir once more. “I cannot understand blind fanaticism.” She paused for a moment to carefully consider her next words. “But I do understand fear, Father—a mother’s fear for her child, a wife’s fear for her husband. And these compelled me here, and these force me to do anything to ensure their safety and well-being no matter the path.”

Once more did her eyes settle on the whip held and still. “But I am weak, frail, and feeble, and I have failed.” And it was then that Tiyribi began to understand that the great anger she had harbored since the day of her daughter’s birth was direct at herself, consuming the soul and turning the very heart to ash. She had been the one that had nearly let her daughter be stolen. She had been the one that hadn’t been able to erase the shadow from her husband’s face, and then cruelly drove him from her side. She had been the one that had selfishly come to New Coldmoon now ostensibly in search of the true culprits, but truly because she couldn’t face the realization that it was her all along.

She had known not to trust the world. She had known to be wary. She had lost so much before, so she had been thoroughly and completely warned. And yet she had failed.
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