[Andaris Farms] Kiss the Skye II

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Cassidy
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[Andaris Farms] Kiss the Skye II

Sat Sep 15, 2018 5:22 am

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14th - Ymiden - 718
Late Day
Continued from here.


He was a knife through the whipping wind, cutting through the cold currents with the ease of a blade through blood. Soaring through the sun-stained skies, reveling in the synergy between him and his mount; there was no separation between them. Her wings were his, and his strength hers. Every twitch of a muscle, every shuddering breath was shared between the two. There was no Cassidy, there was no Sevra; there was just, for a fleeting moment, freedom. They had slipped the chains of a cruel world, breaking the bonds of gravity that shackled them to reality and finding true freedom in their furious flight.

First flight, and there was no feeling even close to it.

As much as the youth wanted to revel in the moment, in the beauty of world whose rules had just been broken, he forced himself to refocus on the animal he was astride. Riding Volareon wasn't even close to the horseback lessons he had from highwaymen in his training. The rhythm was completely different. With a horse, one could count the hoof-beats against the ground and fall into a sort of dance with the beast. Wing-beats were a different tempo entirely, as if someone had switched the song halfway through a festival and Cassidy was the poor fool trying to play catch-up. The dance had more steps to it, and the meter of the movement could change in an instant. Challenging didn't begin to cover it, but the Kane found himself thriving in the adversity of it all.

Poppy wasn't kidding about weight distribution when she had him grounded as it was essential to guiding Sevra's movements. A half-shift in the pressure of his right thigh could send a signal for the beast to pull back, while that same shift not a inch lower could be the indicator for her to enter into a dead-drop. It was complexity that escaped him while he was earthbound, but something that spoke deep and true while the pair was airborne. When Poppy pressed for the reason behind his sudden improvement, Cassidy couldn't explain. Perhaps he needed to be in the animal's environment to really understand the method of their movement. Perhaps he was just a natural. Or perhaps Xiur had taken it upon himself to bless this Skyrider-in-training's first attempts at touching his domain.

Whatever the reason, Cassidy was glad he had gotten a handle on how to soar. The finer details of flight escaped him for now, but he'd figure them out soon enough. Tasting the clouds for the first time, he'd sooner die than be dragged down from the sky. He was born for this. He felt it, burning deep within his ashen bones. That same burning he felt when he took his first life. He was born this.

"I never get tired of this," Poppy's voice sang out among the air's gentle currents, filling the calm sky with the pleasant melody of her sound. Her Volareon, a quiet thing the color of dusk, drifted on lazy winds closer to Cassidy's training mount. They flew in a simple formation, wingtips outstretched so that they almost touched. The way the animals flew together, there was certain, subtle intimacy to it. Or perhaps Cassidy was projecting.

"How could you? It'd be like tiring of beauty, or of flame. I never want leave!" He called back, happy to have her company. The wind swept back her red-blonde hair, framing it against the flame-stained sky of sunset. If Cassidy was a painter or a poet, he would have immortalized her forever as she was in this moment. Powerful. Kind. Gentle. However, he wasn't an artist. He was soldier, always on the look-out for the next threat.

And that threat was flying next to him, a smile whispering to life on her lips.

Putting his weight fully forward, Cassidy put Sevra into the full dive that he had learned from Poppy. The air roared past him as shot downward, its raucous noise only matched by Poppy's shout of surprise. The Kane could feel his mouth open wide with unrepentant joy as adrenaline filled his veins with cold fire. His scream joined the roar of the air as he and his mount pressed closer and closer to farmland below them. He found his love of flight nearly matched by the feeling of falling, and it was great regret that he finally pulled up; still hundreds of feet above the ground which beckoned him from below.

Poppy's Volareon wasn't even a tick behind, the expert rider at her back easily catching up with an admittedly talented novice. Cassidy met her gaze easily, enjoying that instead of worry or irritation he found humor in her eyes. She was starting to get used to him and all the extremities of his emotions.

However, that amusement swiftly shifted into concern. His brow furrowed in response, confused by her obvious switch in emotion. Had he done something wrong after all?

He opened his mouth to speak, but Poppy blew past him in an instant. Cassidy whipped his head in the direction the woman and her mount were moving, and understanding suddenly dawned on him. Even from this distance and even in the fading the light, the sight struck him.

Billowing towers of white smoke, and beneath them, a raging inferno where no fire should have been. A farmstead set aflame, and as Cassidy struggled to keep pace with his trainer, he could hear the distant screams of terror join the wind.
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It was a pleasure to burn
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Re: [Andaris Farms] Kiss the Skye II

Sat Sep 15, 2018 2:37 pm

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If Cassidy could move like a knife through the wind, than Poppy was a lance. She pierced through updraft and current in such swift manner that he wondered how it was even possible. If urgency didn't force them to ride with swiftness, he would have loved to watch the women move on her Volareon: to see how a master signaled to her mount that the wind obeyed them, and not the other way around.

Himself, he was barely able to keep pace with Poppy. He and Sevra were buffeted by the winds that she seemed to slice through, cut off by currents that the woman was somehow able to ignore. It took every ounce of focus and raw talent that the Kane had just to stay astride his Volareon as they raced through the sky and down towards the tower of smoke. His eyes were tearing up from the force of their flight, but that didn't matter. It was his duty as an Airman to aid the civilians of Andaris in whatever manner he could.

Besides, the flame was calling to him.

Cassidy tried to draw his shortbow as the pair approached for a landing, and nearly lost it for his effort. He was not expecting how strong the drag against the weapon would be, or how difficult it would become to steer the animal only using his thighs as guidance. Still, he was flying into an unknown scenario, he wasn't about to land without a weapon drawn. Nocking an arrow, he briefly considered how one would even aim while in the air. He imagined he would have to lead his target, accounting for his movement and theirs. It was like firing from horseback, except that the shot could come from any direction. Putting his weight into the back of his heels, he slowed the Volareon down to a hover above the ground. Poppy was already landed, and even from above he could see the civilian was in desperate need of instruction. The air may have been her domain, but fire was his, and he guide her through it unharmed.

"Poppy! This might not be an accident! Grab a patrol of Skyriders and meet me back here!" He ordered down from on high, the adrenaline of the moment forcing himself to sharpen his focus.

"But I-"

"That's an order! You might be a trainer, but this is a military matter and I'm military!" Poppy wasn't used to combat scenarios, she would be no good to him in the house-fire; especially if this fire wasn't an accident. He needed to get her clear from the chaos, and sending her after a patrol was the best way to do it. "Go! Don't worry, I'll handle it!"

His landing was rough, his lack of experience evident in sudden stop that Sevra needed to come to, but by the time he had touched the ground Poppy was already in the sky again. He was glad, Poppy didn't need to see what happened next.

Rushing to the blaze, the heat of the house fire would have stopped a normal man. Cassidy, however, was marked by Faldrun, the Immortal of Fire and the Eternal Flame. He could still be burned, and the smoke was going to be a problem, but he had more resistance than the average human to the fire's effects. With a kick, the Kane sent the ashen door flying open. The smell of charred flesh was hard to miss among the ash, but the sound of a scream stood out even next to the roar of the flame. Reaching out to the small pockets of fire that remained isolated from the larger blaze, he willed the flame away as his Al'deurn mark burned white hot on his back. He wasn't sure if that meant Faldrun approved or not, but Cassidy pressed forward regardless.

He chased that scream to its source, and what he saw made the flames around him burn bright with anger.

A man's body on the ground, scarlet staining the ashen ground beneath him. A woman holding a bloody knife by a boy that couldn't be 4 arcs younger than himself. His screams still resounding off the weakened walls of the burning room.

Cassidy didn't even need to think as he loosed his first arrow.
Last edited by Cassidy on Sat Sep 15, 2018 7:51 pm, edited 1 time in total. word count: 738
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Re: [Andaris Farms] Kiss the Skye II

Sat Sep 15, 2018 3:54 pm

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Miss.

Cassidy drew from his quiver again, utilizing the bow's short draw distance to loose once more. He could feel the smoke begin to choke his lungs, but he would not relent.

Miss.

The woman rushed him, abandoning whatever she was attempting with the child to address the immediate threat of the Kane. Knife gleaming in the firelight, Cassidy barely had enough time to raise his bow in desperate defense as she pressed with a downward stab. He got lucky, catching her wrist with the center of his shortbow long enough to throw the woman back from him. He was tempted to draw again, but he knew better to tempt another shot in this close range. Instead, he slung the bow shoulder over his shoulder and with a devil-may-care smile, raised his fists in invitation.

For the briefest of moments, the Kane saw confusion flicker across the woman's face. After all, why would he sheathe the only weapon he had? Even if it was disadvantageous to use, anything was better than something. The moment passed, and once again the woman rushed him with that smiling knife.

With a twist of his hand, Cassidy called forth the fire beside him. Inferno raging, the flame met the woman's charge with one of its own, her scream vibrant and defiant as her flesh was seared. With another curl of his fingers, the Kane called the flame back to his side; it awaiting his orders like a loyal pet. Instead of confusion, shock blazed out of his attacker's eyes. Then, recognition.

"We're one the same side!" she shouted, voice trembling with pain as she quickly inspected her burns. Cassidy rolled his eyes, more than used to the begging of damned mortals by now. That hadn't worked on him since he was tweleve arcs old, and it wasn't about to work now.

"Somehow, I doubt that," he replied, his lips twisted in a cruel smile as he considered her jest. With slow, deliberate movements he stalked towards the woman; dragging the flame from its home in the walls and the ground all the way. She raised the knife again out of panic, and then, in a strange show of confidence, cast it down.

"Please! Just watch! Watch and you'll understand."

The Kane didn't stop. With a shove of her hands, the wind and flame stopped Cassidy for her.

And suddenly, Cassidy understood. Whatever he thought this was, he was wrong. The fire, the dead husband, the screaming child, all of it suddenly clicked at once in his mind. This wasn't a murder. This wasn't a robbery. This wasn't even an accident.

This was a mage.

He stood up, slowly at first. He let the anger and the rage build within him as he stared down the woman who wielded perverted, poisoned flame. He still didn't know the circumstances, but now he didn't need to. She was a mage. She was an enemy. And Cassidy was a soldier. It wasn't an equation that would end well for her.

"See? Same side," she breathed nervously, hands still raised to defend herself.

"No." His answer was stern, and definite. There was no room for argument or confusion in his tone. It didn't waver or flicker, it was as solid a steel. "No, that couldn't be farther from the truth."

He wretched the fire from her hands. She didn't deserve its warm touch, its furious grace. Faldrun's gift in one hand and rage in the other, Cassidy wasted no time tackling the surprised woman. She landed a shallow cut across the side of his bicep, but he didn't flinch at the pain. He wouldn't allow himself. The hand absent of flame wrapped around her neck, he held the fire close to her face so she could feel its angry kiss.

"STOP! PLEASE! HE'S MY SON! I WAS TRYING TO PROTECT HIM!"

He pulled his hand back. "What?"

"His father was trying to initiate him too early! We fought, and I got angry! I lost control! I was just trying to protect him." Angry tears streamed down her face as she pleaded for her life, soot-stained hands weakly scratching against his closed grip. Even now, staring down the Kane's fury, she begged for life. "I'm so sorry. Please don't take me from my son. Please."

He hesitated. Looking to the boy, he could see him rush to his mother's side. Deep shuddering, sobs rang out from him as he pushed against Cassidy's hand, and he found himself at a loss. The woman was a murderer, worse than that she was a mage. She was also a mother, and to take her from her son would cruelty that he wasn't even sure he could deal out. Conflict raged within him, nearly as fierce as the fire that raged around him. He knew what Faldrun would want. He knew what choice would protect Andaris. Protect his family.

But he didn't know what he wanted to do.

No family safeguarding him, no Immortal tempting him, Cassidy felt alone in this choice.

And he didn't know what he would choose.
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Re: [Andaris Farms] Kiss the Skye II

Sat Sep 15, 2018 8:15 pm

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He sat outside the charred remains of the farmstead, basking in the last embers of the fleeting fire. Wisps of smoke still slipped out from under the ashes, trailing white hands reaching outward towards an unforgiving night sky. They were far enough away from the city that Xiur's lights could be seen, dancing constellations which flickered with distant flame. How he yearned by up in that sky right now, far from the land and the troubles that came with it. He could if he wanted to, his training Volareon lay a short distance away from the burned bones of the house, but no. He needed to stay grounded for this.

The beats of wings both familiar and new brought his attention outward, and he was met with the sight of Poppy followed by five Skyriders. A major's insignia caught his eye as the troop descended. He must have looked a sight to them, hands stained with soot and skin still raw and red with burns. Compared to their pristine uniforms, Cassidy looked more like a chimney-sweep than a cadet in service to Rynemere and her citizens. Were it Ray that rode to see him, he did not doubt that he would get a tongue lashing for the state of his dress. This major, however, looked more concerned about the fact he was alone outside of a destroyed building than any uniform protocol.

"Airman-?" the major began.

"Cassidy Kane, sir." He didn't rise as he spoke. He simply held the major's gaze, an acknowledgement of his presence but perhaps not of his authority. Poppy rushed out from behind the military man, and for her he rose. Their embrace was short and painful on his part, his wounds still fresh from the fight. It was entirely worth it. The major allowed them their moment of affection, but only briefly.

"Airman Kane, this civilian indicated there was a fire. What is the sit-rep of the situation?"

"Magefire, sir. Two mages, a man and a woman lived here. They got into an argument, the woman stabbed the man and started the fire. That's when I arrived at the scene. She confessed it all to me before she died."

"She died? How?"

"The fire, sir. She couldn't control it. It consumed her."


The major paused, and Cassidy could see him weighing the words in his mind. He turned to the sergeant beside him, whispering a few word, and sent the man off to his Volareon. With a level gaze, the soldier turned back to him.

"I'll have that sergeant inform the Skyriders. I'll speak with the Mantis. If these were mages, they'll want to investigate further," The major finished with a nod. He marched back towards his Volareon with a steady and even gait. Once astride his mount, he paused for a moment, looking down at Cassidy. He walked the animal over to him, and leaned down in a whisper that only he could hear. "You're not as good of a liar as you think you are, but still, good work. The Skyriders could use a few more mage-killers if you ask me. I'll be keeping an eye on you, Airman Kane." Nothing left to say, the major was quick to take to the skies again, leaving his squadron to secure the area.

He didn't know how the man spotted his lie, or why it was only that lie he spotted, but he didn't like the feeling of him knowing the truth. Even if he was proud. Even if Faldrun was proud. Cassidy felt conflicted, and any sort of praise sounded sour to his ears. He turned to Poppy.

"Could we go flying?"

"Cass, you're injured-" she began, the tone voice telling him no more than her words.

"Please? I-I need to be the air. I'll even ride with you. Just-please? I need to be in the air."

The woman looked him over, concern plain in her gaze. She was looking him like an injured animal, but Cassidy didn't mind. That's what he felt like. Injured. Fractured. Conflicted and filled with turmoil. A full bit passed before she gave him an answer, but with a sigh, she finally nodded. Leading him over to her Volareon, still black as the night that had fell over them, she climbed into the beast''s large saddle before helping him up behind her. Without a word, the took to the sky, leaving the ash-filled ruins behind.

Leaving the charred corpse of the mother he killed behind.
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Re: [Andaris Farms] Kiss the Skye II

Sun Sep 16, 2018 7:26 am

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Cassidy clung to Poppy's back as they soared through the starlit night sky. He hadn't said a word since his request, embracing the stillness and the silence that surrounded them. He winced as the air, cold and sharp, breathed against his burns. A part of him enjoyed the pain.

He knew why he was so affected by the his kill, more so than the usual life taken in the name of his Immortal. Most of the time, the people he killed were faceless to him. Murderers, bandits, thieves; the type of people that no one would ever miss. This mage, however, this mage had a family. Yes, she was a killer. Yes, she perverted what remained of her soul in service of selfish power. But she was also a mother.

He could still see her son's face as he pressed the flame to her face. He could still smell the smoking the flesh. burned and blackened to the bone. He could still feel her fingers claw against his wrist, she and her son both trying to tear her free from his grasp. The worst part was that he could understand their desperation. He knew that feeling of fear that clawed at the belly when family was threatened. One of the first lessons he ever learned was the importance of blood, and he knew he would burn the world for his family if they needed him to.

However, knowing why didn't quiet the turmoil that had taken root in his thoughts. Knowing why didn't deafen the sound of her screams as the flame betrayed her. Knowing why didn't erase the image of hate the boy had in his eyes as he sent him running from the home.

The child of two mages; he tried telling himself that the boy was better off on the run than in the grasp of the Iron Hand, but he wasn't even sure if he believed himself.

"So, do you want to talk about it?" Poppy offered cautiously, quietly. There was still an air of tension, a connection unfulfilled, between the two of them, but it had been subdued by the events of the night. Cassidy could hear the concern in her voice, and he figured that she was simply that type of person. Kind. Compassionate. A good person.

Everything Cassidy couldn't be.

"Not really," he breathed out into her back, suddenly aware of the closeness of their bodies. It was strange, it didn't make him nervous as it had done before at the Lodge. There was no room for nervousness in the sky, only connection and decision. Connection to the winds around them, the mount below them, and the woman he flew with. The decision to live only in that moment, and leave the messiness of the land behind and beneath them.

Poppy hummed her acknowledgement, and once again silence crept into the space between them. He admired her patience, her ability to not press as he might have, and he imagined it came in handy when dealing with dangerous animals like Volareons. Immortals know it worked wonders on an animal like himself.

As if reading his thoughts, Poppy brought out a technique he had seen work wonders on agitated animals in the Lodge. She began to sing. It was a quiet at first, more like the idle lyrics of a half-remembered song, but as time ticked by so to did it grow. He was wrapped in her soothing sound, bathed in that beautiful noise which seemed to move beyond words, and he felt his body shudder in response. For the briefest of moments, his guard was down and his heart was bared. It took a certain type of person to make the soldier in Cassidy slip. Poppy Verath was that person.

She turned from her forward saddle position, so adept and in tune with her animal that there was barely a shift in altitude. Her arms wrapped around him, his head buried into her shoulder as she softly sang, and in the privacy of their midnight sky, they embraced like old friends. For a full bit, they simply sat there in each other's arms as the Volareon's idle wingbeats kept them aloft. Cassidy was the first to break the hug, his head rising only to find her bright brown eyes staring deep into him. They were impossibly close to each other, the air which filled the space between them charged with potential. Close enough to count the strands of hair which framed her face; red-gold just as vibrant under starlight as daylight. Close enough to watch the quiver of her lip as they lived in this moment of maybe. Close enough to hear her heartbeat match his own. No time to think in the air, they had to make a decision.

Their lips met, the world around them slipped away, and Cassidy could feel himself falling.

They were falling.

"Shit!" Poppy cried out, breaking the connection between them to regain control of the creature beneath them. Cassidy couldn't contain the bubble of laughter which sprang to life in his belly, his joy ringing out loudly against the string of curses which flowed from the woman's mouth. She was quick to regain control of the Volareon and right their position in the air, the Kane receiving a sharp elbow to the stomach for his chuckles. "So."

"So."

"Well, it's been an exciting night," she began, the smile clear in her voice. "How about this? When you want to talk, you come by the Lodge anytime you want. For now, I'll drop you off back at the barracks."

"That sounds...really nice. I'll be sure to be by soon. But yes, Barracks first. I should probably get these burns treated eventually." He replied, lazily leaning into her back as she guided the animal. Their touch was no longer as nervous as it had been, a fact that the Kane enjoyed immensely. Before, there was flightiness to everything they did, but now? It was like they melded together. "And Poppy? Thank you. For everything."

He could feel her blush from her back, and despite the debacle with the mages, Cassidy found himself smiling. On the ground, he wasn't sure if he made the right call. It was messy and brutal and unfair. But here? Arms wrapped around a beautiful woman and soaring through a cloudless Ymiden night?

In the air, Cassidy didn't doubt his decisions for a moment.
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Re: [Andaris Farms] Kiss the Skye II

Fri Sep 28, 2018 2:15 am


Looks like you did go ahead and take flight! The way you described the flight made me feel like I was right there in the action – love it! Calling the flame was a surprise to me – it’s the first time I’ve read a story with the Faldrun mark. I definitely didn’t expect Cassidy to toast them though. Good read 😊

Rewards:
XP: 10
Loot: N/A
Injuries: Burns and cut across the bicep
Renown: 10 murder stopping a magefire

Knowledge:

Mount (Flying): Signaling where to move
Mount (Flying): Entering a Dive
Ranged (Shortbow): Quickfire
Ranged (Shortbow): Bad in close-quarters
Ranged (Shortbow): Shoot first, think later
Ranged (Shortbow): Difficult in the air

Non-Skill Knowledge:
Poppy Verath: Potential romance
Poppy Verath: A kiss in the skies
Poppy Verath: Expert rider
Poppy Verath: Good for the soul
Order of the Mantis: Handles Mages



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Code: Select all

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