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* Plot Information for Dea al Mon

Gale Galoneth, Queen of Dea al Mon is desperate. 11 of her 12 daughters have fallen ill to the mysterious Waste. While the Brood of the True Born try to conquer her Territory she has opened its borders to call for aid.
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Author Topic: Across a Land of Blood and Dreams  (Read 886 times)

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Offline Tempest Elessar

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Across a Land of Blood and Dreams
« on: Jul 12, 18, 03:40:27 PM »
The forest seemed so very alive here.

Her steps were muffled by the thick, loamy earth. Her cloak fleetingly fingered ferns as she passed quietly by. One hand rested on her dagger, Thorn, on her hip. The other swung freely, touching tree bark from time to time. She would pause briefly to look around her, but then would continue her drifting through the bright green and earthy black, a red-limned ghost.

There was a peace here she had never felt before. She longed to kneel, to meditate, but there was the ever-present warning in her mind that she, and everyone else here, was in great danger.

Oh, how the Brood would love to bring a Sapphire Jeweled Priestess into their fold.

Though her bow was vanished, it would only take a moment to call it forward, ready, but she did not do that now. She paused to touch the tenderest of leaves growing -- frail, impossibly green things that felt like downy feathers against her fingers. The tree itself stretched the tallest she had ever seen, a towering giant joining with others to create a vaulted canopy high above. And around the base of each of these trees, thick underbrush pervaded, persisted, despite the filtered light.

What power did this Queen of Glory Glade possess, to bring alive the forest so?

Tempest did not know but she felt it. She could not name it but she could feel it. It called to a part of her that longed for the days when the Dea al Mon were less embroiled in desperate battle. A time where the Blood has existed peacefully alongside the forest and the Kindred, if such tales were to be believed. Where children could play unsupervised without worry of abduction or injury. Where adults could love without fear.

A time when the Brood did not exist.

Romanticist, she chided herself, releasing the leaf. She turned in her path, going left, intending to continue on her aimless trek through the greenery, when she sensed...something...nearby. Her grip on Thorn tightened, her free hand moved as though to call and fit an arrow. She listened...sensed. But her Sapphire was too light. Whatever it was, it moved just beyond her, like trying to see color on her peripheral vision. It went poorly.

Gambling, tensing for a fight but not quite willing to believe one was coming so close to their village, Tempest said softly, “Reveal yourself. I mean you no harm.”

Unless it was Brood. And then all promises were off.

Offline Hearsay Elerbeck

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Re: Across a Land of Blood and Dreams
« Reply #1 on: Jul 25, 18, 03:00:14 AM »
Hearsay, when he was not seeing to the duties of being Steward, was always within the trees and keeping to them. There were always little things to take care of, small broken branches and the like, that he could tend. Sometimes there was the occasional plant that felt - to him - ill and that he could look after as well.

No matter what it was the best avenue he still had for satisfying that need within him to heal. Yet time in Glory Glade had made him grow to forget to completely hide, to mask his presence entirely. While the Brood were still a threat he had heard no reports from either Lady Falk or from Virtuosa. All the activity was still further to the south, not near him or this place that had become home to him.

Something he had desperately craved with every bit of who and what he was.

There had been a trail of minor knicks and cuts, simple things to take care of, and it was a cause for a concern. If only because it was a change in the forest, one that might speak of ill intent or otherwise. He was not paying attention to anything else, merely following the path that had been made. The voice of the forest, the buzz at the edge of his awareness, was growing and pulling his attention.

... until he heard a voice calling out, making Hearsay freeze in his spot. It was then that he realized that he had not gone through all the steps to hide. Kalis would scold him fiercely if she were here. The Healer Warlord paused, considering the Priestess whom he had caught up with and his eyes going to the weapon that surely matched the small knicks and otherwise.

He sighed.

She was Omega Company. She was ally. She was ... not quite staring at where he was but close enough. Hearsay - soundlessly - moved himself up into the branches of a nearby tree. Having the arrow notched and aimed was not comforting and being within the boughs of the tree a safer place.

"Peace, Priestess," he called out finally. Slowly skin tight sight shields fell away revealing Hearsay upon a branch that was reinforced. While his presence could be felt, he was devoid of a psychic presence (and deliberately so). "I did not mean to disturb your time within the forest." The red of his hair was vibrant and visible, just as the glint of Red was as well from where it was nestled against the hollow of his collarbone wreathed in vines that twined around his neck and bicep.

Offline Tempest Elessar

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Re: Across a Land of Blood and Dreams
« Reply #2 on: Aug 21, 18, 12:36:43 PM »
The silence stretched to a point where Tempest had just begun to think that perhaps her instincts were incorrect. And then, she heard, quietly, “Peace, Priestess.” The voice did not originate from in front of her, as she expected, but from somewhere above her, and she cocked her head in the direction of it just in time to see Sight Shields peeling away from a male perched in a nearby tree.

The vibrant red hair, a few shades more vivid than the Red Jewel against his chest, was the first thing that caught Tempest’s eye. Against the bright blue eyes and fair skin common to their people, it was hard to miss, contrasting against the green of the forest like a splash of blood on pure snow. The Red Jewel was why she hadn’t been able to find him completely. Its viny casing, spreading around his neck, declared him to be one of the Queen’s. The term “wildling” came to mind but didn’t that term fit all of the Dea al Mon? Well, perhaps some more than others.

“I did not mean to disturb your time within the forest,” the male said peaceably. He did not move from his perch even after Tempest relaxed her grip on her dagger and withdrew her hand to call forth her bow but she did not fault him that. He probably felt more at home up there, she guessed.

“You did not disturb me,” she said to him, “It is I that have most likely disturbed you, it seems. I apologize.” She bowed slightly. “I do not believe we have made each other’s acquaintance yet. I am Tempest Elessar, Holy Matron and Priestess of the Omega Company. Do you serve the Court here?” Her posture shifted into one of listening as she waited for him to respond.

Offline Hearsay Elerbeck

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Re: Across a Land of Blood and Dreams
« Reply #3 on: Aug 22, 18, 10:13:17 PM »
Hearsay had been a quiet presence, speaking only briefly when Omega Company had made their way to Glory Glade. Mostly he had been with Tarn's children, keeping with them because he was always particularly skittish around those that were unknown to him. Even now he still held tightly to masking the truth of both castes he wore in full. Just because his Queen accepted him did not mean that others did and there were those that were not so sure about him.

So he his psychic scent was negligible, just the barest hints of petrichor, and nothing of his caste to be sensed. At least, not with how far away the Priestess was for the moment. Hearsay watched as the bow was put away, arrows no longer notched and aimed at him. With a grace and mobility that spoke of more time in trees than on the ground, he moved from branch to branch until he was setting foot upon the ground.

There was a moment that the bow caught him off guard, his expression showing it, before he quickly bowed in return. "I was only tending to the trees," he said quietly, "and looking after things within the forest." Which was strange enough, honestly, but Hearsay moved on quickly. "Lord Hearsay Elerbeck, Steward of Glory Glade." A smile was given, close attention paid to the ebb and flow of her emotions and the whisper of trees he could not understand but still heard. "Only briefly was I there when Omega Company came to this place." The look upon his face turned sheepish, head ducking before he straightened back up. "I am not well-suited yet for such a gathering but I am learning well."

Part of it was that there was a certain uncomfortableness that came from those that knew of Kassel. It was very possible that they knew of the Elerbecks or, more likely, his mother, Mercy. She had been a formidable part of the Red Cloaks until her death trying to protect Kassel until it fell. The other part was simply that Hearsay, ever as always, felt too much and it was easier to deal with smaller groups.

Offline Tempest Elessar

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Re: Across a Land of Blood and Dreams
« Reply #4 on: Oct 05, 18, 03:17:06 PM »
The moment he named himself and how he had only been present for a moment during their arrival, recognition dawned gently on Tempest’s face. She remembered seeing him then, speaking softly to their group, offering to show them where to find room and board. How odd, then, that, being the Steward, he was out here tending the trees and other things in the forest, as he said.

This whole place felt like that -- just a little odd. Perhaps Tempest had grown accustomed to a more manicured state of living, even for a Dea al Mon. The wildness here, it felt...just a bit overwhelming at times. Feral. She did not fear it but it reminded her of where she stood in the hierarchy of life and she found herself uneasy to be reminded.

“I have you to thank, then, for our accommodations,” she said. She inclined her head politely towards him. “Tell me, please, do you spend much time out here with the forest?” If so, Tempest wanted to know more. Yes, she was a Holy Matron but she was also a Priestess and the rituals associated with the seasons of the forest called to her. Perhaps, after performing some of those rituals, she would feel more at home here.

Her eyes drifted over the greenery around them as she eased her posture more. “It is lovely here. There is a...vibrancy here that is lacking in other parts of Dea al Mon,” she said. Her eyes returned to Hearsay as she had to ask, “Do the Brood run here often?” It was hard to imagine them maneuvering through the thick brush and trunks but Brood were formerly Dea al Mon. They retained some of those skills but not enough to retain their humanity.

As Hearsay spoke again, Tempest scrutinized his appearance a bit more. He looked...vaguely familiar. Related to someone she knew? No, perhaps once known or seen. Elerbeck. Tempest rifled through her memory. There had been an Elerbeck in the Red Cloaks. That had been...six? Seven years ago? Tempest tried to recall her name but failed. “Your family...did they...serve?” she asked, meaning did they serve in either the Red Cloaks or the Ebon Guard. Hopefully his answer would prick her memory further.

Offline Hearsay Elerbeck

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Re: Across a Land of Blood and Dreams
« Reply #5 on: Oct 10, 18, 12:13:42 AM »
"As much as I am able," replied Hearsay with a small smile. "The forest calls to my Queen quite strongly, so I look after it as I look after her." The Priestess was growing more relaxed by the minute for all that it seemed the reverse for Hearsay. "I am glad you find your accommodations suiting," he added, "as we do our best to let this place simply be."

Perhaps that was the reason why Glory Glade seemed so alive. Or perhaps the real reason was its Queen, Epiphany, who sang to the trees and listened to them speak, whose Steward followed in her footsteps tending to the hurts of the trees she told him of and catching whispers he could not understand but still heard all the same. His fingers pressed to the bark of the tree he had come down out of, Hearsay shaking his head quickly. "There has been no presence of the Brood within the boundaries of Glory Glade; the wards and protections stand strong."

Hadn't that been part of what brought him here? Hearsay running from the Brood - from Pestilence, from the dark presence behind them all - and seeking sanctuary? There was safety here, security that he had never known before. Glory Glade was home to him in a way that Kassel had never been.

His head ducked, Hearsay walking a path around the trunk of the old tree and coming around the other side of it. "Both my parents did. My father only as was expected of a Warlord but my mother ..." She had been a decorated officer, she had fought and died for Kassel because it was their home and more. "Mercy Elerbeck, she was injured in the initial attack of the Brood upon Kassel." A Healer and a Captain among the Red Cloaks, Mercy had been a force to be reckoned with. "She died in one of the final assaults when it fell." Mercy had been leading an attempt to protect Kassel from truly falling, one of the casualties of the fight with the Brood.

Yet Hearsay was apprehensive for a reason, in talking to those that knew of Kassel and his mother. Mercy was well-known enough, considering her rank and her valiant efforts in the fight with the Brood. Just like it was known for those that were old enough, that she had had a pair of twins and that one of them ... Well, Dual-Casted Healers were not that common. Even less so when they were male and it had cast a shadow over part of his mother's career. The odds were good that Tempest would be able to put it all together and that was enough to make Hearsay fall upon Protocol and Etiquette as a shield, even if he tried to push away his apprehension and continue to be friendly.

After all: Hearsay enjoyed socializing. The problem was often that people did not want to socialize with him. It had been less of an issue, here in Glory Glade, but this Priestess was a Red Cloak ... Who knew how she would react the moment that she realized what he was. Even if Hearsay knew he would feel it keenly all the same.

Offline Tempest Elessar

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Re: Across a Land of Blood and Dreams
« Reply #6 on: Nov 01, 18, 09:02:13 AM »
When Hearsay said that there had been no Brood activity within the boundaries of Glory Glade, Tempest’s expression darkened and she looked out over the forest. Why then were they here? Perhaps he meant that the Brood fought fiercely just beyond those wards? “Is there any Brood activity near here?” she asked, returning her gaze to his.

He ducked around the tree, she noticed. And his hands remained on it, as though he was taking comfort from its sturdiness. Or ready to use it as a shield. Tempest tilted her head to the side slightly, indicating that she was listening and not intending to sound sharp. When he said the name Mercy Elerbeck, recognition dawned in her eyes. Mercy had been a captain in the Red Cloaks and had died defending Kassel just a few years ago. “I remember her,” Tempest said softly, with something akin to reverence for the fallen and the brave. A quizzical expression crossed her face. “And you are her son?”

There was something more that Tempest was forgetting and she mentally kicked herself. Something about Mercy’s children. There had been two, yes, but Tempest could not remember the rumors that had swirled around the Elerbecks, mostly because she did not care about rumors. But whatever that thing was, it seemed to lend apprehension to the current situation, with Hearsay almost hiding behind the tree.

Tempest’s voice softened. “You...are afraid of me?” she asked. No, that did not sit right. But yet it was something akin to fear. “You are fearful of something,” she stated plainly. “But it is not...entirely me, I do not think. What is it you are not saying that I should know?”

Offline Hearsay Elerbeck

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Re: Across a Land of Blood and Dreams
« Reply #7 on: Nov 05, 18, 09:08:55 PM »
There was a reason but it was not his to discuss, not yet, that brought Omega Company here to the peaceful place that was Glory Glade. Secrets were held by this beautiful land, sheltered within the trees, and it was not to be spoken of. Hearsay shook his head, before answering her. "Not near here but to the south, yes; Esgarth." Yet that was still far, not so very near at all.

It had happened once before already, though it had been Tarn who had known his mother, Mercy, and through her him. (More existed to that story. How the Elerbecks had been investigated, how Mercy found herself no longer on the rise with her chances for Lady Sanguine gone, how Hearsay had hidden as a toddler because he had been so scared of those that came when his second caste manifested.)

"Yes, I am," whispered Hearsay, studying Tempest closely. He was less of the Blood now, as he watched her, and more something of the forest that wanted to disappear into it.

Hearsay was not fond of his mother's shadow, it hurt too much, and he was less fond of those that looked upon him and saw only an abomination that ended his mother's rise. He watched Tempest still, felt as she did, and knew the moment that she touched upon the beat of his own emotions.

His fingers curled against the bark of the tree, head tilting towards it as the faint sound of its whisper could be heard. What was it saying, he wondered, or was it trying to reassure him? Hearsay did not know.

Tempest's words were true: he was scared not so much of her as he was of what she might do, what she might say, what the world had to say about him.

"... most who recognize my mother know of me," admitted Hearsay quietly. "Captain Mercy Elerbeck had twins, a Warlord Prince and a Warlord." Slowly he let go of the craft that hid his presence and so the scent of petrichor sharpened in the air. "Or so they thought until it turned out that her Warlord son was an atrocity, an affront to all that is held in regard, and the family investigated." More than petrichor: the oddity of his scent became noticeable; the duality able to be sensed. Warlord, it said; Healer it said as well. "She lost all chance for rising above Captain after that. All because I was Healer just like her."

Offline Tempest Elessar

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Re: Across a Land of Blood and Dreams
« Reply #8 on: Dec 07, 18, 11:42:44 AM »
Esgarth, he answered, and Tempest nearly asked him why the ferocious Omega Company had not been sent there. She held her tongue. It was not the Steward’s place to know such a thing. Military actions fell within the domain of the Master of the Guard and the Queen and Tempest now had a feeling that she was overdue to have a conversation with the both of them.

The thoughtful scowl that darkened her face turned just a little softer when he confirmed that he was Mercy’s son. She watched as he braced himself for…rejection? That was minorly confusing to Tempest. Why would anyone reject someone for simply being the child of someone, especially the son of a hero? Or was he bracing himself for another pain to come? Even after she assured him that she meant him no harm, he remained in that tense state. Tempest made certain to release any unconscious tension in her shoulders so as to further appear open and harmless.

His voice turned quiet. There was a subtle change in the air and suddenly, Tempest smelled rain on the wind. She looked up but there were clear skies over the canopy. It took her a moment to realize that it was a psychic scent. A moment after realizing that, she sensed the duality of that scent, and his words clicked.

Hearsay was both Warlord and Healer.

There was a moment when Tempest realized that she could fulfill the painful future that Hearsay was used to experiencing when he had revealed this secret in the past. She would not lie – it was an oddity to have a dual Caste male in Dea al Mon society. But an atrocity? An aberration? No. Those terms were reserved for the Brood. Still, her surprise most definitely showed on her face.

What turned Tempest’s heart, and softened her expression, was how he said that his mother had failed to rise above Captain for the crime of birthing him.

Tempest lifted her chin proudly. “She was a valiant warrior,” she said simply. “I would have been honored to have her in my squadron. And to have had her as my superior officer, if it had come to that.” Those words alone should have told Hearsay where she stood on the matter of punishing the mother for something beyond her control.

The Priestess once again made certain to release the tension in her shoulders. “The Queen here, I assume she knows of your…duality? Does she...support it?” Tempest assumed so but wanted to make sure. Because the next question that she asked was one searching for a confirmation about why he was so aloof. “Is that why you prefer the company of the forest?” she asked softly, understanding in her tone. Who were the trees to judge? They didn’t. And that probably came as a great comfort to Hearsay.

Offline Hearsay Elerbeck

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Re: Across a Land of Blood and Dreams
« Reply #9 on: Dec 13, 18, 02:24:51 PM »
The Priestess could release all the tension that she desired, it mattered not. His remained because he plucked from her the moment she realized what he was. That particular feeling of surprise, the feel and scent of it, was far too familiar. It was what came after that he never liked the feeling of.

Except that what he expected did not come. No, she was merely turning it all over slowly, working through things. Hearsay could taste the emotions upon the air, felt them beat within his own chest, and knew that Tempest was unraveling her own feelings on the subject.

What was it, he wondered, that made her look at him and not see something that should not exist?

Hearsay nodded as Tempest spoke of his mother. "She was," he said, "and the woods of Dea al Mon, of our lost home, mourn her still." Her words might not have been enough but coupled with her feelings they were. That she would have been glad to serve underneath his mother ...

It said so very much.

"My Queen," a telling phrase, just as telling as the living vine of green that held his Red that matched Epiphany's was, "knows what I am and supports me as I support her." He looked up towards the canopy, closed his eyes as the wind blew through the trees and carried with it the distant scents that were from so far away. Pale blue eyes, clear as ice, opened back up and focused upon the Priestess.

"The forest is far more understanding," replied Hearsay. "It understands where people do not." He reached upward, gently cupping the leaves of a branch in hand without ever actually touching them. From there he was calling upon his Red to check on the tree, to make sure that it was healthy and fine. "My first patients were the flora and fauna near the home where I grew up." Then, in a softer voice: "The trees have voices and feelings and a presence, I suppose. I cannot understand what they whisper but I hear it all the same."

Offline Tempest Elessar

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Re: Across a Land of Blood and Dreams
« Reply #10 on: Jan 15, 19, 02:57:58 PM »
So this was why he had chosen this place.

Not just that his Queen was here, although that was always a strong indicator of why a male remained. But, not entirely just for the forest either. As Tempest watched him cup the leaves of a branch nearby, diverting his attention to it rather than her, she understood how the both of them had come to this place. How it nurtured them as much as they nurtured it. Amongst the Untamed, the Dea al Mon were the wildlings. But there was a wildness to Hearsay and Epiphany that went beyond that word, something that cultures outside of the Dea al Mon would never understand. The Dea al Mon could be just as kind or as cruel as the forest that was home to them.

Tempest, for a moment, saw both of those worlds. Saw the way that Hearsay looked at the trees that accepted him without judgment. Saw the way that she looked at him with a slice of that judgment, how she had tried to be open-minded, but how she had still failed. She understood why he hid in the trees then. And she saw how their society condemned him for not understanding what he was when the trees somehow did.

The forest was indeed far more understanding than the Dea al Mon.

“They whisper strongly here,” Tempest agreed, remembering how she had spent an evening in communion in this forest, listening. She extended her hand towards him, letting the scent of Priestess catch the psychic wind between them. “I am no Queen, able to touch the land intimately and call it to life, but I am a Priestess. My connection is different.” As she held her hand out for a longer moment, she wondered precisely what she was trying to offer him here. Communion? No. He would not go for that, she did not think. But there was a connection there that she was seeking.

An atonement, she realized, for that minimal but significant transgression she had made in judging him just that little bit.

“If I open us to the Darkness,” she asked, “will you let me hear the forest through you?” Perhaps then she would understand a bit more what drew this Court to this place. She could feel it like the gaze of something unseen between her shoulder blades, evading her vision when she looked. Maybe if Hearsay helped her, she could hear it better. Comprehend.

“You do not have to,” she said softly, almost apologetically, “if you do not wish. I will take no offense.”

Offline Hearsay Elerbeck

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Re: Across a Land of Blood and Dreams
« Reply #11 on: Feb 04, 19, 11:31:44 PM »
Something blossomed at the edge of his awareness, a sweetness to the witch that was not there before. Not to her demeanor, not to how she spoke. Rather: it was what he detected through his particular gifts; his empathy that he used so much to guide him. It made him pause, pull back the curl of his Red around the tree, and look to her.

"They do," said Hearsay, considering her as he had not before. Did she, he wondered, have an epiphany of some sort? Some realization? He looked to her hand as it was outstretched, the scent of Priestess stronger for it. It was a rare scent, that was for sure, and one he only knew - with certainty - twice in his life (his Birthright and Brevity's Offering, his own performed in the forest as it should be).

His fingers twitched as she spoke onward, Hearsay taking a small step forward. Pale eyes flicked beyond her, towards the trees that laid behind her as he heard their murmurs, and then back to her face. "Maybe?" offered Hearsay. "That is not no, it's just ..." A breath was let out. "I only hear whispers and murmurs, the trees speak in a way I only understand because I feel for them." So it might not even be something that could be processed but he would not turn away the chance for someone to hear, to perhaps understand what he spoke.

To see the world as he saw it.

What he wanted more than anything else, after all, was to be accepted and understood.

Another step forward and his fingers hovered over hers with uncertainty. Hearsay looked to her hand and then up to her face, searching it while relying upon his empathic craft to let him know the truth. "... it will not get you in trouble, will it?" His gaze flicked down to his own hand. "I don't think it should but ..." It would not be the first time what he thought, what seemed reasonable and was true in most cases, did not apply to him because of what he was.

His shoulders lifted into a shrug. I am an abomination, the gesture said, and it can reflect upon others. Something Hearsay did not wish upon anyone at all.

Offline Tempest Elessar

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Re: Across a Land of Blood and Dreams
« Reply #12 on: Feb 27, 19, 04:30:25 PM »
He approached timidly, as a prey creature would, discerning whether or not it was safe to come out. Tempest stood resolutely still in order not to startle him or break the fragile bond forming in that moment. It was not an easy thing to do. She was not, by nature, a patient person when it came to others, but she exerted practiced patience then.

“I only hear whispers and murmurs,” he said as he took another small step forward. His fingers twitched nervously. Longingly? Perhaps. Tempest wondered how often someone aside from his Queen offered him kindness. Not often, she assumed. “…it will not get you in trouble, will it?” he asked.

Tempest’s mouth curled into a small, empathetic smile. “I am a Holy Matron, commander of my squadron,” she answered him with an even, certain cadence to her words. “I am my own person to command in this.” True, she had to answer to higher ranks when it came to military matters but this? If anyone thought to rebuke her for spending a moment in communion with a dual-Casted male, they could spend a moment enduring a rebuke from her for their judgment.

One did not trespass lightly against a Sapphire Jeweled Priestess with a longbow.

“No harm shall come me, nor you,” Tempest told him as she remained there with her hand outstretched. “And we do not have to listen long, if you do not want.” She offered him brevity in case he was afraid of something deep. But over all of her thoughts was the hope that he would take her offer and she would receive a piece to the puzzle that had been plaguing her since they had arrived.

If he did take her hand, she would slowly lower to the ground, kneeling. Grounding. Taking a few deep breaths in preparation and opening herself up more to the world around her and its rhythms. Even though the sun drifted through the canopy above them, a sense of gathering darkness could be felt, gravid but not terrifying. Anchoring. The edges of her Priestess Craft would tingle along his own mind, inviting him to step into the sacred space she was making there. She would let him take his time in joining her in that space.

Offline Hearsay Elerbeck

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Re: Across a Land of Blood and Dreams
« Reply #13 on: Apr 03, 19, 05:52:04 AM »
Hearsay bit the inside of his cheek, not immediately responding that there were those that were above her that could get her in trouble. Yet she was the commander of her squadron and surely those that followed her would not see their leader in trouble. It was simply a matter that Hearsay did not want to see anyone hurt or in trouble because of him. When it was him it was fine, when it was others ... Those were moments when he would find the voice he sometimes struggled to have in defense of himself. The truth was that it was far easier to be brave for others than to consider doing so for his own benefit.

He nodded--finally!--at her reassurances and the bright spark of hope within her emotional landscape. That, more than anything else, made him slide his hand into hers. Slowly sinking to the ground with her, Hearsay could not remember the last time that he had communed with a Priestess guiding him. When he had been several years younger? No Priestess had carried out his Offering. That moment had been between the forest and himself as Brevity had carried his out at an altar with all the pomp and circumstance he could get to rub it into Hearsay's face.

The Healer Warlord had not cared. Not when he had found more meaning to his for carrying it out like those that had come before they had. This, he thought, was a bit like that time for all that it was not the same at all. Hearsay closed his eyes and matched his breathing to Tempest's. It was as if she held a hand out to him all over again once she had secured herself. Once more he took the hand, letting himself sink into the place that had been created by Tempest.

Within that dark space touched by the Darkness that was Mother Night, Hearsay was calm. Here, in this place, he did not worry about judgment or anything else. It made it easy for him to open himself up, to share with the Priestess. Though he waited for her to let him know it was alright, not wanting to unsettle her from what was likely securing the connection.

Offline Tempest Elessar

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Re: Across a Land of Blood and Dreams
« Reply #14 on: Apr 16, 19, 11:46:18 AM »
The forest around them both faded and yet, came more alive, as the grounding and guiding Craft of a Priestess shifted the edges of their vision – both physical and spiritual – into a new realm. With their eyes closed, the sounds of the forest were a symphony in the Darkness as Tempest, holding Hearsay’s hand, stepped lightly and surely down the ranks of the Jewels, pausing at the Opal to let Hearsay gather himself. Here, a gentle breeze touched their cheeks, as the Abyss below stretched towards the maelstrom beyond it. But up here, the wind was like the wind through the forest – peaceful, soft.

**I have always loved communing in the forest instead of at an altar,** she admitted to him. **There is…life…to the forest, an ebb and flow, that one does not always feel at an altar.**

If Hearsay opened his mind to the space, it would mirror the physical world in many ways, except that there would be an opalescent shimmer to nearly everything. Senses dulled in reality would be just a hair sharper here, as the soul lent its strength to the seeker. Just beyond their little circle would be a Sapphire ring of protection, keeping them safe at this rank. Hearsay would be free to sit in this sacred space for as long as he liked.

**Is this acceptable?** Tempest asked gently. If Hearsay indicated that he wanted to move lighter or darker, she would move them carefully so. She did not wish to delve to Sapphire, however. Sometimes, in the Darkness down there, she could sense…more…and she did not wish to open herself up to that troubling presence with Hearsay in her care.

Once they were settled into a comfortable spiritual space, Tempest asked, **Show me how you commune with the forest.**

Offline Hearsay Elerbeck

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Re: Across a Land of Blood and Dreams
« Reply #15 on: May 19, 19, 09:58:44 PM »
... my Offering, said Hearsay gently, was within the forest. With the whisper of the trees in my ears, almost as if they were helping guide me. That was not the case, he knew it, but he wanted to believe it. Within the forest so many months ago he had sunk deep within himself and dove until he found the Red that now pulsed against the hollow of his collarbone.

The altars within buildings never feel right. To him, at least. Was part of that because Brevity had sought his Offering with all the pomp and circumstance he could have? Possibly. As shy as the Healer Warlord could be, his Self--that which was the core of him--was strong and vibrant. Even when he opened up, shared in the space that the Priestess had created, there was still an unspoken, somber strength to him.

It was something that Hearsay often forgot about himself.

This is alright, murmured Hearsay. Part of him remembered the turbulent feel that had come the night of his Offering. A strange whisper that he had thought was the spirit that had begun talking to him. It hadn't been, not when he swore it had been darker than his Red, but then he had sought his Offering on his own and- Hearsay pushed that away, bringing his focus back to now. To let himself drift was not good, even if Tempest was guiding this.

Hearsay grew quiet as the spiritual space settled. For a time he was quiet, focusing upon that feeling that came to him every time he touched upon the flora of the wood. I do not understand them, his voice--in this space Tempest created--sounded more like the wind through the leaves, but I hear them all the same.

Within the space, with its strange not-quite-real quality, Hearsay pressed a hand to an ancient tree. It was not with his Red that he worked but his Opal, letting the gentlest portion of his power flow forward. To Tempest, she would see this: strands of his Opal running through the nooks and crannies of the bark of the tree before it seeped in deeper.

As it did she would feel a gentle pulse. For the briefest moments, it might have seemed to be Hearsay's heartbeat but it was clear very quickly that it was not. It was too slow, a steady thrum that would speak death for a child of the wood if it was theirs. That warm thrum reverberated, becoming louder as Hearsay channeled it.

The longer it continued, the longer she focused upon him as he shared with her, she would start to hear it. It was the wind through the trees. It was leaves rustling against one another. It was a vibrant euphony of sounds that grew louder, as if they were the whispers of a crowd just barely not heard.

No matter how loud the sounds became, or how soft, they were not understood. They speak so much but I do not understand them, but ... The pulse of his Opal thrummed in time with the beat of the wood, bringing attention back to that. Here, Tempest found that Hearsay was sharing with her his empathy. It crept in slowly, the feeling that came. There were no words that could actually describe it. No emotion felt by the children of the wood that could capture it.

It was distant but there, the feeling of touching upon something that was near and far all at once. The feeling of being watched but by someone who would always look after you. Hearsay did not say anything, only letting the ineffable feeling of touching upon the old tree speak for itself.

Offline Tempest Elessar

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Re: Across a Land of Blood and Dreams
« Reply #16 on: Jun 02, 19, 11:15:23 PM »
Tempest allowed Hearsay to get settled into that spiritual, sacred space, listening to the timbre of his voice as they descended, silently accepting and processing what he revealed to her about his own Offering and his predilection for the forest. Being a Holy Matron, Tempest’s primary duties did not include guiding supplicants through their Birthrights and Offerings but she was familiar enough with the process – and comfortable with the strength of her own Jewels – to lead another through it, much like she was comfortable enough with guiding another through communion now.

She watched, peacefully but with a sense of curiosity, as Hearsay walked over to one of the large trees, extended his Opal. Fine filaments of power flowed into the bark, following its rivulets and carvings, down into the roots and then beyond. For a moment, Tempest had the impression of Hearsay accessing a vast network of webbed roots which connected him to other trees, another creatures. She watched that power pulse once…twice… and eventually caught on to the slow but steady heartbeat around them. As she listened longer, the breeze rustling the leaves seemed to take on a musical quality. And then other things in the forest rose with previously unnoticed sound.

It was a woodland orchestra, in a way, yet the susurrus of sound never actually became something tangible like conversation. It remained a constant blend of indistinct whispers, an unending melody and harmony without lyrics or tempo. If Tempest tried to understand it, she knew she would grow frustrated with her failed attempts, so she cautioned herself against such a thing and simply listened.

**It is a definite gift,** she remarked to him after a long moment of communion. **To hear this way. Imagine if others could…** Her mental tone was colored with sorrow for those who passed through the forest daily and took it for granted. And with the Brood encroaching upon their borders, darkening their own forests with malignant growths and twisted perversions…

It was though the mere thought of the Brood changed the tune of the forest around them. Or had she misinterpreted the unending song? Added her own layer to the whispers? Perturbed, Tempest’s brow furrowed. **Is it…possible that it can…warn us?** she asked of Hearsay.