An Echo of Meilin

A ghostly case of mistaken identity

A blistering desert that stretches for hundreds of miles around Nashaki, with very little relief from the baking heat.

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Eddrick Brodon
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An Echo of Meilin

Mon Apr 22, 2019 8:16 pm

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An Echo of Meilin
Ashan 5, arc 719

Were he not dying, Eddrick would have taken the time to log in his journal what an odd mercy it was that the body made itself so comfortable at the end of its trials. The sand he'd been dragged through by his poko, and ultimately dumped into when the arrow shaft broke, was taking on the feel of a soft cot with sheets. The heat of the desert, which turned surprisingly cold in the past season's nights, had stabilized to a comfortable consistent warmth. And he could only guess that he'd gone blind from the smooth featureless gray that presented itself to his attempts at vision. But he had no idea where his journal even was.

Remembered accounts arose in his delirium as well, of how those who went to be tried by the twins heard the murmuring of the denizens of The Beneath from their judgement chamber. He could hear them even now. But it was strange how a word here or there was recognizable. One would assume that it would be some ethereal language of spirits and lost souls. He wondered aimlessly if that was perhaps the origin of the so-called "Ancient" language. Ahh well, what point in analysis? Soon enough, he would ask the other lost souls face-to-face.

His sigh of fatalistic content seemed to irritate the spirits though, as a sudden din of response burst upon his ears. Several voices, young, old, male, female, gentle and harsh all blended to a cacophony that made his eyes screw tight involuntarily.

"You see! I told you he was coming around!" said what could only be a young girl. Eddrick tried to blink, but his eyes seemed mired in crusted dust, and would not break free of its hold. The unmistakable bliss of a cold wet cloth wiped gently across his eyes, and another, less excitable voice bid him to take his time; that there was no hurry.


Several trials later, Eddrick sat upon the edge of the cot, reveling in his escape from the ambush that had left him tacked to the carapace of his poko, as it used all its instincts to elude a squad of horse-mounted mercenaries that seemed to have developed some sort of grudged against himself and his Rhakriis. He could only assume it was somehow related to his aggressive recent efforts to keep hired mercs from joining with the Nashaki side of the current desert war.

He'd been out patrolling and had come under ambush by a group that clearly had more experience in desert tactics than the last couple of gangs he'd sent back to Yaralon, bruised and void of valuables. He'd sent his men off on a different tack, figuring the bulk of pursuit would leave them be. He had not been wrong. Only a token number had gone after the others, mostly, he assumed, to ensure that they did not double-back for a counter ambush. In any case, the wily poko, while not a swift as a horse, could climb like the insect it was and had lost pursuit in the rocky mesas and plateaus of the southern Hotlands.

Though the carapace of the giant insects were more or less immune to the direct penetration of arrows, they did overlap, and an arrow had transfixed Eddrick's arm, and rotated enough for the barbs to be hooked in the inner edges of a pair of scales. A second arrow had pierced his side, and the combinations of heat exhaustion, blood loss, and agony from his body weight being pulled entirely by a shaft through his arm, had driven him quickly to unconsciousness. But he'd found himself now at a desert farmstead, on the edge of a rare greenbelt, far from where he ought to have ended up; as well as far from where his pursuit had likely given up looking for him and returned to their contractors to report him dead.

The arrow had apparently broken off; at least the accounts given him by his caretakers suggested as much. He could only assume he'd rolled off onto the ground, his poko had come back for him, and in the process of rooting and nosing him to get him propped back on its back it had altered its course and eluded the horses, coming southeast instead of southwest. Everything was bandaged neatly now and Eddrick was eager to be gone, though he knew he owed gratitude of some kind. His presence though, was sure to be a liability, and leaving as soon as possible was in everyone's best interest.

The woman, whose name he'd learned was Terrilee, sagged noticeably, her gaze resting upon the ground. What Eddrick took to be the lonely sadness of a grown farm woman, at the prospect of returning to the same roster of old men and thugs, after enjoying the promise of a new face, was quickly dispelled by the fatalistic shake of her head. "No one leaves here, I'm afraid."
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Re: An Echo of Meilin

Sun Apr 28, 2019 8:45 pm

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Given his background of slavery, betrayal, violence and threats, it was to be expected that Eddrick's reaction to Terrilee's statement was one of anger and defiance. The physical portion of this attempt to demonstrate his attitude was quickly stymied by the sharp pain in his side as he tried to rise from the bed. "Aaah yes...I'm wounded, aren't I?" he growled softly through pain-stressed teeth and tearing eyes.

Terrilee's demeanor did not change much as her charge sank back on the cot with a long exhale. The expression of futility only changed in that annoyance joined in briefly. "Yes, and you'll tear the wound open again doing that. Now just rest. You have nothing but time."

Eddrick eyed the woman for signs of deception. Letting his senses travel along his body, he noted that there were no restraints keeping him down. So far, it appeared to only be the pain of his wounds preventing him from leaving easily. The woman's attitude of surrender took on a new aspect of danger just from the seeming inexplicability of it. He knew he'd been unconscious, but thus far, he'd heard nothing to suggest any danger.

Folding his arms with a sigh, the confidence of a leader spiked his reply with a tone of condescension. "Well, understand ma'am that, while I DO thank you for the bandaging and all, I do not accept some notion that I'll never be able to leave. But for now, rather than just lying here, perhaps I could hear somewhat of just what it is that's keeping me here? You may be familiar with it, but....well....I'm new here; and I can't stay long. So I need to know what I'm up against."

He was glad to see anger replace the resignation in the woman's eyes as she looked up sharply. "Oh, you 'can't stay long' can you? I suppose it goes without saying that the rest of us have nothing important to do with our lives, hmmm? You figure that since we're just 'regular folks' that we don't have the backbone to make an effort to leave. You have to be a soldier or mercenary to have the will to want a life that no one interferes with? We were all dragged here against our will and just accepted it, right? Getting back to my FAMILY is nothing so VITAL as YOU getting back to your BATTLES and your BLOOD, RIGHT?!"

Fire sparked in Eddrick's eyes now too, and he defied the agony of his wounds, as he sat up, slamming a fist into the cot with enough impact to make it slide an inch or two. "My men ARE MY family! I had one of yours arcs ago, back in Athart. For all I know they were IN ON the betrayal that framed me for murder and forced me INTO this life; a betrayal spanning two cities, two armies and cost the life of the only woman I ever LOVED. So excuse me if my battles and blood are the only things I HAVEN'T had taken from me!"

The spat continued for a few bits longer, both glaring as they reworded their accusations again and again, both judging harshly, both citing the others' inability to truly relate to the other's priorities and sensibilities; both right and both wrong. Eddrick, of course, was stricken by spikes of pain which only aggravated his anger. But soon a different sensation crept into the anger, diluting and diffusing it.

That sense of being alerted to the identification of a new mortal foe, which had come with Raskalarn's blessing, began to manifest. But it was curious in its intangibility. When he'd first been blessed, he'd immediately gotten a focused realization that his lieutenant back in camp, Coren, would be contesting his rule when he returned. This time, the very diffuse nature defied true identification. It was as if the entire farm itself was his foe.

But as Terrilee continued to rail at him, Eddrick realized he'd provoked her far more hurtfully than he'd intended. He'd only been trying to bring a spark of willpower to her flagging heart. But clearly he'd done worse than that. He'd assumed that the others here were her family. With the calming effect of guilt on his conscience, he more easily perceived the nature of what was different about this new mortal foe taking shape. It was precisely that. It was 'taking shape".

His eyes caught a strange flux of motion by the door as the flux stabilized. He wasn't certain what it was at first. He also noticed that Terrilee had stopped shouting at him and was also looking at the door, her face draining of color. The shade from the sunlight outside was not following the bounds of the doorway. The edges of the doorway's shadow slid in to meet each other against the laws of physics and formed a stretched shape of a humanoid outline. But there was no body standing there to have cast it.
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Re: An Echo of Meilin

Tue Apr 30, 2019 7:20 pm

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The "body", such as it was, was then formed of that shadow as it rose up from the floor. The immediate shape was nothing more than a steadily growing and elongating lump of darkness. But within trills it took on the same humanoid shape it had taken on the floor, but not in any "stretched" proportions. Long before the details of face or fingers began, Terrilee was already taking involuntary steps back from it, her voice trembling with begs and pleadings to 'stay away'.

The vile grin taking shape, as the first detail of its face, only horrified her further. Her voice rose to a panicked shriek, not borne of anything resembling reasoned thought, but of sheer desperate energy, forcing its way out her throat in a tearing scream, "NOOOOOOO!"

The thing's response was to embody a ghastly cadaverous appearance, sparing no level of maggot-infested rot, pale ligaments straining through long-vanished cheeks to expose sickly brown and oozing teeth. The rest of the body followed suit; that which was not visible being shrouded by worm-riddled rags, a trail of black sludge dripping behind it, one eye hanging loosely, the other sunken in emaciated decay.

For that first flash instant, Eddrick was both puzzled by the degree of fear the woman was clearly afflicted by, and enraged at the bullying entity reveling in it. It did not immediately occur to him that he was unique in having experienced an extended stay in a crashed prison wagon, being besieged by dozens of animated corpses, most of which were no less ghoulish than this one. One ugly-looking corpse was no big deal to him.

The irrelevance of what he felt dissipated quickly in the face of the wailing horror that Terrilee was beset by, and he stepped in front of the advancing ghost, telling her to stay behind him. In truth, those risen monstrosities from long ago were not ghosts, and Eddrick really had not had any direct experience with them. So a great deal of realization came down on him as the beast simply slipped around him and disappeared into the screaming woman.

Her screams choked off in wide-eyed gags, as she twitched and mouthed silent but incoherent pleas, her mind trying to deny what was happening. Her sudden calm was the first thing that alerted Eddrick to what was really happening, and what Terrilee had truly been afraid of. "Why are you doing this to her, you freak! You want to make some point with me, do it to ME, You coward! Leave her be!"

He raged impotently as the ghost took clearly complete control of the woman. As a soldier, stories told among men he'd known confirmed some of what he now knew to have occurred. As a man of chivalry, it infuriated him how little he did, or knew to do, to stop the violation he'd just witnessed. This went beyond rape. He stood trembling now in anger as much as Terrilee had trembled with fear, trying to think of what he might do to taunt the creature out of her, to punish him instead. But having no clue what the creature was punishing either of them for made this difficult. All he could do was challenge the creature with various accusations of bullying, cowardice and sadism.

In answer, the face of Terrilee was overlaid with the same hideous face the ghost had worn as it had first advanced on her. It sneered as it spoke, in a slightly altered version of her voice, "Oh, don't worry. I am more than ready to punish you too, homewrecker!"

Several questions now popped into Eddrick's mind, stemming from that last word, but he had no chance to express them as the body of Terrilee lurched suddenly toward him, grabbing up a small work knife as it did. training came instinctively to bear as Eddrick grabbed the arm with the knife, seeking to wrench it free, or bash its grip loose on the nearby table. But the realization that this was actually an innocent woman's body stopped him with frustration. He also noted that her accent changed, no doubt the affectation of being possessed buy a ghost from another land.

He'd heard such an accent before, but could not place it beyond being one he'd heard during his recent stay in Yaralon. But there were so many races and nationalities there, that this was no help. It probably would be of no real help in any case, so he dismissed it. The fact that Terrilee's knees had made an all-too-nearly-successful assault on his balls also gave him cause to refocus on the current situation, and not on a past visit to a distant city.

And even though he was stronger than the woman, the ghost inside was driving to her to her full capability, with no thought to self-inflicted injuries. Eddrick was hard-pressed to spare her injury from either of their actions. Even as he sneered his loathing for the tactic of using a citizen as a meatshield, Terrilee's face struck suddenly toward him, out from the image of the corpse face, to nearly bite fully on his nose. It caught to enough of a degree to draw blood, but Eddrick's reflexes were quick enough to prevent anything worse.

But two things struck him as a result. At the use of the word "citizen", there was just the briefest of pauses in the onslaught. 'Is this ghost an ex-soldier?' he thought for an instant. It also reminded him of the fact of the woman's true, real face, existing beneath the illusory facade of decaying flesh.

Inspiration and impulse drove him to act immediately.
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Re: An Echo of Meilin

Fri May 03, 2019 2:47 am

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It stood to reason that anything that would shock the possessing ghost with something truly unexpected would give the victim a chance to shake off the possession. Eddrick had the possessed woman's arms in check, but a stalemate was not going to guarantee success. The hideous corpse-like image the ghost had sheathed itself and the possessed body in had little effect on Eddrick after his encounter with the risen undead from the Boneyard an arc or two ago in the Hotlands.

The occasional lurches of the woman's face toward him, as the ghost sought to bite Eddrick, gave the bandit a radical idea. He leaned his face in briefly to bait the ghost into making another attempt. Success was almost instantaneous. Eddrick threw his head back as the teeth clacked in front of him, then he followed the face back into the horrific image of rotted, oozing flesh and maimed, ruined facial features. This was just run-of-the-mill ugly to him.

He knew what was under that image and did not let the ghoulish illusion give him pause. He immediately found himself cheek-to-cheek with the woman beneath the image - the real, live, healthy, woman - and turned to catch the edge of her lips - her full, rich, live lips - with his own.

There was just an instant of hesitation before the possessing ghost abandoned whatever aggressive moves it was planning, and started thrashing the woman's head from side to side to prevent any fuller contact with Eddrick's lips. Fortunately, this was not the first woman who had used such a tactic, though mostly it had only been done with a teasing, hard-to-get, attitude. And it was not truly a woman instigating this resistance.

Eddrick straightened up and loomed over her to overpower her arms; bringing them, along with his own grip to hold her head still for the moment it took to press his lips fully against hers. The ghost shook and twitched, but lacked any real attack, beyond trying to kick. Eddrick had walked the possessed body back against the wall of the room, and her legs were largely lacking any position that would grant the leverage to do him much harm.

There was an intimate tableau of the woman, still shrouded in an image of cadaverous decay stiffening for a moment, and then relaxing into a sag of surrender, the ghostly head turning to meet Eddrick's kiss with a willing response.

All at once, there was something akin to a rush of wind and Eddrick found himself kissing a fully cooperating Terrilee, with no possessing ghost joining in with them. He broke contact to hear the woman gasp and swallow hard, her breath heavy and hot. The ghost was across the room now staring at them as if they were the ghosts, and wiping its ectoplasmic lips as if it was about to vomit.

Terrilee seemed to suddenly awake to the scenario and turned angrily to Eddrick, "Just what the fuck do you think you are doing? Who do you think you are?!"

Eddrick suppressed a grin as he responded, "I'm the guy that just broke you free of that ghost's possession. And you're very welcome! Sorry I didn't have time to ask first." He adopted a pouty, puppy-dog look, "Was I that bad? Worse than him? Hmmmm...it doesn't look like HE liked it much either."

Terrilee was already asking how Eddrick could stand to kiss 'something like that', when they both realized that the ghost no longer held to its monstrous appearance. It was, in fact, dressed in a uniform of sorts, something that spoke of membership in a mercenary group. Eddrick wracked his brain for all the styles of salutes he could think of and started going through them as the ghost's "eyes" narrowed.

On the fourth variety, the ghost stiffened noticeably, and then returned the gesture before fading from sight.
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Re: An Echo of Meilin

Sun May 05, 2019 1:32 am

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Accompanied by a mildly exaggerated bow, Eddrick tried to keep her mood extroverted. "May it please you, Ma'am, that...ugly, corpse look was only the ghost's image. There's no substance to it. Now, if I hadn't seen it take hold of you, I have to admit, I probably wouldn't have done that. But, if it please you to hear, I knew what was under that facade; and had no great problem braving that false front to hold the real body close, and kiss those lips."

She scowled, with just a spark in her eye, "I see. So you enjoyed seeing me so taken, against my will, used as a device to act out some phantom's game. Gave you the chance to act out your own game on me, didn't it?

A soft sigh preceded the bandit's response, "If that were the case, your own response would indicate that we might still be playing." He held a hand up to forestall her rebuke. "You know better than that. I was outraged. But what was I to do? He knew I wouldn't hurt you if that was the only way to protect myself. He used you because you were basically untouchable to me. I used the only thing that might repel him without hurting you. Though I have to admit, if he turned out to have been a man that's into other men...I....uh....well, I'm not sure just what I might've had to do."

Disgust blended pleasantly with amusement as she glared at him. "Well, I already have a man here. And that damned ghost has kept me from him for too long. Long enough that I could fall prey to the ploys of a filthy, opportunistic, perverted ex-soldier like you. I only gave you that much of a kiss because it was already underway when I got my free will back."

"Who are you calling an EX-soldier? I know I'm not in uniform right now, but you should see me..." he moved to where his armor and colors had been laid aside for access to his wounds, and lifted a few pieces of light bronzed plate, "...when I'm decked in this finery. Why, I have to be more wary of hungry women than I do the enemy. You're just lucky I still have a sense of honor."

Her last comments caught in his mind suddenly as Terrilee smirked, "Wait, what do you mean he's kept you from your man? Has he laid some sort of claim on you?" Eddrick recalled the ghost's use of Terrilee's vocal cords, and the use of the term 'homewrecker'. "He's trying to convince himself that this is his home or something? Are you saying he's obsessed with you? Is he someone you knew before he died?"

Terrilee had been nodding with the first few questions Eddrick asked, but grimaced with a hesitant shrug over the last two. "I'm really not sure if it truly thinks this is its home or not. It wasn't here a few arcs ago. It just turned up one trial and has made itself an obstacle between myself and the other men here. It won't let anyone leave. If they do, it possesses them, or someone else, and makes us regret it. It isn't anyone I've ever known as far as I can tell. And it isn't exactly me it's obsessed with. It's the girl here."

Recalling the sound of a young girl's voice when he had first regained consciousness, Eddrick remained quiet as Terrilee continued, "She's the daughter of one of the men here. Her name is really Aliana, But this ghost keeps calling her Meilin, and making it plain that he thinks she's his daughter. The thing is just hung up on some 'happy family' scene and goes crazy if anyone here tries to live otherwise."

This changed things considerably in Eddrick's view, "Look, I don't want to downplay how horrible this last experience must have been for you, but I'm wondering if this guy is not really bad but just confused. And if he might abandon this place if he could be made to accept the truth." He knew there would be angry words in response from Terrilee, and made no effort to stop her venting. In fairness however, the anger in her words was more from the unintended suggestion that no one there had ever thought of the same thing; and from the lack of any idea how to proceed on that basis.

Nodding in sincerity, he admitted, "Yes, you're right, I'm sorry. You're a kind woman, and I shouldn't have assumed you'd only be hateful." His eyes narrowed at some indistinct point as he recapped what he'd learned in his mind. The questions that followed were rhetorical, "So what have we missed? Where is he from? I don't recognize that uniform. Yet he responded to that salute I gave. Where was that from? Where did I learn it? Where was I when I learned that one? Damn it, I've seen so many different ones."

One point to begin occurred to him, "If the ghost sees his little girl in this Aliana, then she must look a lot like her. Maybe they have some similar heritage. Do you know where they are from?"

Terilee shook her head, but offered what she did know, "His name is Borruck, and he'll be tending the Skodas this time of trial. You could certainly ask him."

Eddrick nodded and turned to leave, He knew enough about the various large insect species of the desert lands, having grown quite fond of his own Poko. to figure where to find Borruck. Skodas were a livestock bug, bred for their meat, which was not exactly a delicacy, but was easy enough on the palate and very nutritious. They had not originated in the Hotlands, like his poko, but with the advent of the Empire to the north, they had become well known and well adapted to the Hotlands now.

Passing through the door flap of the desert home, he was suddenly stricken by a cold numbness that started in his legs and surged upwards aggressively. For a moment, Eddrick tried to resist, but he could feel himself slowly losing ground. "HE'S BACK AND IS TAKING ME THIS TIME!" he shouted, hoping others besides just Terrilee would hear him. He wanted to run out to where he could see where the other men were, but his legs would not respond. He gave a grudging, instinctive nod of approval to the ghost for the tactic of disabling his legs first.

Fury and frustration were not going to be enough. But he could think of nothing else as the ghost's possession swarmed over him.
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Re: An Echo of Meilin

Tue May 07, 2019 8:24 pm

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Assailed by anguish and fury, Eddrick watched impotently as his legs began to turn and step of their own accord. He could feel no triggering of muscle movement of his own, and anguish turned to dread as he found himself unable to speak now. He could begin to somehow "feel" the intent of the ghost; and it was focused entirely on Terrilee - focused on her form, her hair, her curves, her lips.

Eddrick had only just learned that she was already committed to a man here. And had only used that unexpected kiss as a means of shocking the ghost with the fact that he, by possessing the woman, was kissing another man. It worked for the moment, but here was a backlash Eddrick hadn't counted on. And now this same ghost that had used her voice to call him a homewrecker, was embarking on what surely would end up being rape.

It didn't matter that the ghost was deluded with its obsession to feel that Terrilee was some other woman, one that had been his wife. He knew by the alien emotions roiling in his mind that "No" was not going to be an acceptable response this time. Once again, the logic that this entity should have given some importance to the point that it had to possess another body to commit this act was being thoroughly disregarded. It lumped all its actions into some sense of keeping its family together for the sake of Meilin.

Eddrick realized now that Terrilee might not be confused with some long-dead wife in this ghost's mind. It simply felt a need for there to be a wife in this "happy family", and she was the only one to fill that role. It would stop at nothing to protect Meilin. Eddrick found that he could not entirely dismiss the sentiment as irrational. As a last justification, the ghost had recognized that Terrilee had enjoyed that kiss.

Wailing internally with guilt over having piqued the ghost's passions in this way, Eddrick tried the only thing he could think of. He tried complete relaxation of his entire body, hoping some extremity might not be entirely controlled by the ghost, and would betray the possession with some odd sagging motion. The ghost felt this sudden lack of resistance and took it to be Eddrick's surrender to its will. For a brief instant it anticipated the bridging of a symbiotic connection with Eddrick. To Eddrick, however, it just seemed as an even deeper level of violation against him, and he now turned every last shred of focus and effort to throwing off this unwanted presence.

Eddrick had capitalized on the power cap Krorros bestowed upon him earlier when he had wrestled with Terrilee while sporting wounds and exhaustion. It was far short of enabling any sort of edge against ghostly possession under the best of circumstances, and was woefully inadequate now. But the ghost actually snarled at what it took to be betrayal by the bandit when he'd appeared to give in, only to try once more to resist. The tone of this utterance, and the rage building in its expression was all Terrilee needed to confirm what she had thought she'd heard Eddrick yell moments before he'd stepped back into the room.

She had only just stepped back in to ask him what he'd said, and now saw the snarling, red-faced body of Eddrick stalking towards her. This time though, the ghost was already possessing someone, so it was just a matter of keeping "Eddrick" at bay as she started to scream for help. She now found herself in the same situation he had been in. As her eyes fell on a knife on the counter, she knew that with his wounds, she could probably serve up a pretty effective counter attack. but she honestly did not want to hurt him, or even possibly kill him.

Then her eyes fell on the bronzed plate armor pieces Eddrick had joked about a short while ago, and she lunged for them, grabbing the breast plate and holding it up before her. The ghost did not make the connection that practicing spiritists and ghost hunters learn early on and ran to slam her into the wall, where it intended to throw aside the armor and take her right there on the floor. What it learned at that instant is that bronze, being an alloy of copper, is very destructive to ectoplasmic stability. For his part, Eddrick learned that, while he could not make his body move, it could still feel.

The burning and shredding senses of pain surged through his body, and the scream he released was as one with the ghost itself. It recoiled in alarm now as Terrilee looked on in mute astonishment. Her face now transformed from desperate victim to wrathful avenger as she shouted now in fury and charged ahead to slam Eddrick's possessed body repeatedly, effectively herding it to the door flap.

All at once, a dark shadow formed upon the flap, and it was torn from it's pins to reveal Borruck, her chosen man. It took him not one trill to see what was going on and he stepped in to spin Eddrick around and slam a hearty farmer's fist into the bandit's face. It was probably fortunate that Eddrick lost consciousness at this point, the last coherent thing to register was Terrilee's cries for Borruck to stop.
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Re: An Echo of Meilin

Wed May 08, 2019 8:05 pm

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Were he not dying, he would have taken...the......time?

No, he'd already done this...

It came back with enough increased swiftness to know that he was not actually in as bad a shape as when he'd first awakened at this greenbelt farmstead. It just felt that way. No, he recalled with regretful ease the memory of the burning and tearing sensations transferred to his consciousness by the ghost as it tried to withdraw from contact with the bronze breastplate, and its destructive nature to its ectoplasmic structure. Those had only been sensations though. No injuries had truly manifested on his mortal body.

Not so the surprise appearance of Terrilee's man, Borruck; who demonstrated, in no uncertain terms, his dislike for what had appeared to be the bandit leader's unsolicited advances towards his chosen woman. Eddrick now sported twice the bandages he'd had upon his wounded arrival. This naturally included the newly-torn-open arrow wounds; but was now augmented with body-wide bruising and lacerations at the hands of Borruck's pummeling fists.

With the ghost in the transition of exiting the possessed body, but having still not completely relinquished control of his host's extremities, Eddrick had been defenseless for the first punch that dizzied him to the point of being at Borruck's decided lack of mercy for the barrage that followed. His scalp even hurt. He could only assume it was from his hair having been used as a handle to keep his face in position for some of those punches. 'Not a bad tactic...' he thought to himself, refraining from allowing the usual ironic grin he would have worn at such a thought. His face hurt too much to smile about anything.

"Yeah, it hurts me too." said a deep voice, with a tone that spoke of a little less sympathy than Eddrick felt he deserved; and a chuckle that implied some insight on what Eddrick had just been thinking.

Eddrick opened what he was sure was both eyes, but it seemed that only one was allowing light to register through the swelling. "Good to see I didn't actually kill you." the farmer continued, "But I hope you realize how it looked to me. You attacking my girl, her defending herself like that."

Eddrick slowly raised a hand in a dismissive wave, "...'s'nuthin'. Fugget'bu't't...I...'n'stand. 'Thelle...sh'wuz...kick'n m'ass." he muttered through swollen lips. Imps fate! was any part of him NOT swollen? The two men talked for a while, clarifying the events with that usual post-brawl amity that men seemed so strangely capable of. Terrilee joined them, adding a few digs at Borruck for his unneeded attack, yet clearly appreciating the protective affection that had prompted it.

Terrilee whooshed Borruck off the cot, emphasizing Eddrick's need for rest. Borruck complied with a comment about how the bandit should thank him, seeing that the ghost would surely not want to possess THAT mess again, as he pointed with a grimace at Eddrick's battered self. This time a chuckle escaped the bandit's lips, to be followed by a groan. The farmer reached over, as if to give Eddrick a friendly pat; then laughed uproariously at how the bandit cringed in anticipation. He turned and clomped out the door as Terrilee tsk'ed after him with an amused scowl. "You men!"

Eddrick spent the day resting, anticipating the usual course of having the soreness get worse before it gets better. Life did not disappoint in this regard the following morning, but it was truly only the arrow wound that was a potential life-threatener. Everything else could be "loosened up" to become a little less tender with some careful twisting, stretching and massaging. The cot creaked and scraped a bit as he edged himself up to slowly swing his feet to rest on the floor. He decided he was not as badly beaten as he'd first thought, and could only assume that the possession itself had weakened him at the time, and that the effect was now regressing.

Terrilee's voice echoed scolding from the back room, the tone altering slightly as its source reached the door into the front room. She entered with a bowl of some sort of cereal mush, and the milk of one of the farm animals. Eddrick had never tried skoda milk, if there was such a thing, but the mere thought of the milk of some giant insect had a distinctly negative effect on his appetite. But he never was to find out exactly what animal had been milked as Terrilee suddenly stiffened, eyes wide, and dropped the bowl at her feet.

"Haven't you done enough?" she hissed, her eyes staring at a point beyond the cot. Eddrick already had a good idea what was behind him, but the woman's sudden rush to grab the armor piece again confirmed it. He sighed and turned as quickly as his bruised, aching body would allow.

The ghost stood in the doorway, a green flag in its hand.
Last edited by Eddrick Brodon on Mon May 13, 2019 12:57 am, edited 1 time in total. word count: 863
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Re: An Echo of Meilin

Fri May 10, 2019 3:37 am

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Bootsteps hustled loudly from the rear door and Borruck burst into the room, his anger focused on the ghost. "All refreshed for round two are you? Well bring it on, you bastard!" Slow, deliberate steps brought him in the ghost's direction.

Terrilee backstepped to interpose herself between them, "No honey, don't! Stay behind this armor. If it possesses you, that will really be hard for me to cope with."

Borruck laughed sourly. "HA! What's the big problem, Terri? Eddy there didn't take any permanent damage from it. Just hit me the same way you did him. I can take anything HE can!" he started forward again, fists quivering. Terrilee turned to actually push against him with her hands, with an insistently repeated "NO! He was already weak!"

Eddrick was close enough to see genuine consternation on the face of the phantom. Every time that Borruck made angry progress toward it, the ghost would shrink back a bit, and then look with frustration toward Eddrick whenever Terrilee would stall him.

It pointed to one of its hands and then at itself, and followed this by pointing at its other hand, and then at Eddrick. Then it placed the two hands against each other, palm to palm, and intertwined the fingers with a look that spoke of a hope to be understood.

The pattern repeated a few times until Borruck had advanced to the degree that Terrilee was looking over her own shoulder in fear of the entity's proximity. Borruck took the cue to tell her to get out of the way. A surge of adrenaline allowed the woman to gain a few steps back as Borruck snarled at her stubbornness.

Eddrick could not place it yet, but he knew the green flag was significant. It was not that he had too much trouble guessing that the ghost wanted a truce, but he knew that the green flag was unique to some particular culture and could not come up with it under the strain and distraction of Terri and Borruck's raised voices.

"StoooOOOOOOOOOOP!" he ordered, droning the word as he dragged it out over several trills, slowly managing to increase his volume until he brought the argument to a halt. He turned his head somewhat in their direction, yet kept his narrowed eyes on the ghost, which was still keeping its distance.

"I don't think it's...here to...start anything." he strained to say clearly through swollen lips. he swung a bandaged hand clumsily toward the banner the phantom held, "That's actually a...flag of truce. I sus...supsp...spected it was a soldier at some time. It may be important...to know when and where. It might be a...key in...getting it to move on." he said between strained breaths. The ghost continued to place its hands together and intertwine them, always indicating Eddrick and itself in the process.

Both Borruck and Terrilee looked at Eddrick in puzzlement, both asking him what he was planning to do about it, with slightly variable wording. Puzzlement turned to stunned alarm as Eddrick announced that he was going to let the ghost possess him. Sighing at the immediate barrage of loud questionings of his sanity, the bandit snapped back, "Well, I'm hardly in any shape to hurt either of you if I'm wrong, am I?"

Just even that bit of raised voice was on the verge of exhausting. "Look at its hands... What it's...doing with them... It wants...wants to join with me...Look, the fighting is...getting us nowhere...Let's try something else."

"How can you trust that thing after what it's already done?" Borruck roared, "You're just going to let it possess you? Are you crazy? If I have to beat your ass again, I won't feel bad about it this time!"

Eddrick snorted, "Fair enough. I've been warned. But look...While you guys...have been...struggling....it could've taken me any ti-...any time it wanted." He waved a hand it the ghost, who had a slightly more upbeat expression now. "Do you deny tha-...that it looks like that's...what it wants?...No?...Then why did it wait?...Why aren't I already possessed?"

Borruck looked far from convinced, but had no answer, "Okay, but again, if I have to beat you..." he did not finish the comment, as Eddrick nodded and waved off the rest of it. He nodded to the ghost, mimicking its hand movements and laid back on the cot. The ghost moved toward him, stopping as it got the point in its path nearest to Borruck and Terrilee.

Borruck scowled but stepped back a few paces, as Terrilee lowered the armor and accompanied her man back to place it on a low table. Quickening its pace past them, the ghost sat on the cot beside Eddrick. It lay back, slowly sinking into the same position he occupied. A flash of memories surged through Eddrick's mind, stopping amid images of both prosperity and violence to come to rest on a young woman and her small child, both sporting smiles of bravery in denial of terrible fear.

A voice of anguish and fury rang through his mind, "Why do you stop me? What have I done that you should deny me my family? All of you." the montage now ran through images of the current farmstead, the faces of the living somewhat exaggerated to wear aspects of malice. "You have no children. You can not know my pain. The woman tries to deny me, but she is meant to help raise my daughter. My wife is gone. I know this. But this woman, this Terrilee, treats my daughter as her own. Meilin is MINE! If she wants to be as her mother, why does she only do so if I am excluded?"

The tone of anger began to give way to desperate confusion, "I have no objection to remaining here if the woman would have it so. I do not seek to separate her from she whom she treats as daughter. I must ensure my daughter's safety, yet she seems determined to cast me out! From my own Meilin! It is unbearable! Can you find this out for me?"

The significance of the green flag finally came to Eddrick, and everything became clear. He had no idea if the ghost would accept what he had to tell him, but he would fill in the blanks as best he could. No doubt some elements of the truth had already been stated and rejected. Maybe the whole truth would finally get through to the sad, deluded phantom.
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Re: An Echo of Meilin

Mon May 13, 2019 2:04 am

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The symbiotic link was not as extensive as could be hoped. Eddrick had never had much cause to develop his mental acuity beyond the insight and leadership of the living. He was receiving a torrent of memories from the ghost, but could only answer with words in thought. It was possible some of the words came out spoken so that Terrilee and Borruck could hear, but they were not directed at them.

The ghost however, could perceive Eddrick's understanding and response to military recollections. It also noted a repeated focus, on Eddrick's focus toward any memories containing the green flag. The ghost itself broached the subject, not waiting for Eddrick to initiate it. "The flag...you place great importance on it. Why?"

Eddrick wished he could supply the memories to explain, rather than having to explain it all in words through telepathy. "It is the key in tying together what will allow you to realize your side of the misunderstanding between the people here and those you identify as your family, because that is all it is...a misunderstanding. But you must let me arrive at it from the verbal direction I need."

A surge of impatience spiked briefly before falling back to resignation, "It does not matter. There is no misunderstanding. My family...at least my daughter, is here, now, already. If I can make YOU understand that by letting you explain it some roundabout manner, it is of small concern."

Eddrick's voice did not rise in any anger that the living couple would perceive, but the ghost could sense a flush of irritation, "Is this what you hoped to accomplish with this meeting? Nothing more than the refusal to discuss this issue to any degree beyond the battles and possessions you have already violated us with? Then leave my body now and we will take up our armor again."

A growl of frustration surged through Eddrick's mental connection, but the ghost soon quieted its assertions, "Very well, but understand that I believed that you had something to tell me that I did not already know. If you are simply going to throw out more refusals to hear the accounts of my experiences, then you are right, and there IS nothing to gain from this joining."

"You are not the only one with experiences that stand as proof of the truth present in both sides of this conflict, soldier!" Eddrick countered, "I am the one giving ground here in good faith. I respect your willingness to meet with me this way, but it does not balance all truth on your scale alone. I am the vulnerable one here, and did so willingly because..."

A thought suddenly struck him that would spike some needed credibility on the part of his opponent. He recalled meeting with someone that was of prime significance in this dialogue, and he now quoted him, "...because you need to hear my words, and not just my voice."

He could actually feel the sudden tension in the possessing entity's presence, "I know those words. They are a saying of my people."

"And they still are." Eddrick confirmed, knowing now that this was the right track to bring in his information. "As a member of the Eternal Empire, it had been my glad duty to bring the nomadic tribes of the desert into the Raskalarn's fold..."

"Raskalarn?" the ghost interrupted, his voice not necessarily reflecting alarm, "So, the northern tribes of Korlasir have united?"

"They have indeed, to her great glory." Eddrick stated with pride. The subject turned for a short while to a debate of the merits of the Conqueror's rule. Eddrick wished he could simply grant his memories of the astoundingly fair treatment he and his Rhakriis had gotten from her even after they had been openly opposed to her at the start of the recent hostilities; as well as the generosity she had bestowed, through Eddrick's meetings, to the people of those desert tribes. But it was the fact that they were currently opposed to Nashaki that seemed to give the ghost the most assurance that the Empire was not evil.

And this perception gave Eddrick the final confirmation of his suspicions as to the original cause of this being's unrest. There had one particular tribe that had spoken of their origins, and they were of crucial importance here. But like everything else Eddrick had to say, the release of information needed to be handled just right.

Before long, the ghost simply conceded the point about the overall benevolence of Raskalarn's intent toward those areas the Empire annexed into their sphere of influence. "So what of these tribes that you met with, anyway? We got off that point, and I would see of what relevance they are to our situation here."

"The people here have insisted that your daughter Meilin is dead, correct?" Eddrick prompted.

He could feel the anger pour forth before the words hit his mind in answer, "Yes. You know this! Get to the point! Are you now admitting that I am right?"

"No, but Meilin is not truly dead." The words brought a furious demand for explanation that nearly broke the symbiosis with its edge.

"She yet lives in the health and traditions of one of the most northern of these tribes. The Alakani! Founded by an escapee from the fall of Ehtrusan. One whose father bid her to run north from the invading Nashaki invaders before he died fighting them. One who met with a traveler from Korlasir and began a family. One who named the growing collection of wanderers in the northern reaches of the Hotlands, that gathered to her leadership, in honor of he who taught it to her. Her father, Koloku Alakani!"

The phantom had already been stunned into silence at the mention of his last name, Alakani. But he lost hold of his possession, rolling and stumbling free of Eddrick's body to stand in mute shock at the stating of his full name. One this bandit before him could not possibly have known.
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Re: An Echo of Meilin

Wed May 15, 2019 9:56 pm

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It may well have been partially due to the weakness and shock of breaking off a possession so suddenly, but the ghost reeled in epiphany before Eddrick, "You know my name? Where I come from? How is this possible? Who told you these things?"

"As I said, an elder of the nomadic Alakani tribe." The bandit chieftain responded calmly. "I was in their camp in this last cold cycle to bring them the goods that the empire had set aside for them. He said to me that they did not truly need them, that their harvest of the Rhyth crop had always sustained them in barter and trade. But he still took them to honor the peace they had made with the north." He could tell that yet one more point had been made when Koloku stiffened again at the mention of the 'Rhyth crop'.

"The Red Star? These nomads grow the Red Star?" he asked in an almost pleading tone.

Eddrick smiled, "Yes they do. And no simple thing it is. Many have tried to cultivate it for it's medical benefits, as well as use it's glow as guides in the ever-changing sands. But their successes are meager by comparison. In fact, the Alakani have become the chief provider to the people of the empire. They are honored and protected as no other tribe before or after."

A gleam of pride grew in the ghostly eyes, and a smile, both sad and content formed on his face, "I taught her how to grow the Red Star, to glean the moisture from the sands; more to gain the stronger glow, less to gain a better medicine. The one feature strengthened at the expense of the other. She was a natural gardener. I had always hoped to bring her to more nurturing lands, that she might thrive as an agriculturist."

"She did thrive, Koloku. An entire people call her 'Mother'. They honor you both. I know you feel that you should have done more. It is what keeps you here now, when you should be rejoining the cycle of rebirth. But what more can a father give for his daughter than his life? She made it free of Nashaki treachery because of you. And then how many would have died for lack of Rhyth flower tonic but for her. You share in that grace, sir. And all the tribes see the benefit of joining as citizens of the empire, which stands against Nashaki!"


The ghost had sagged in a bittersweet melancholy, but looked up again with an angry resolve at the mention of Nashaki. Eddrick continued with an empathic approach to it. "I wish my father had done such for me. He probably, to this very trial, joins the culture of Athart in vilifying me as a murderer and traitor, when they are the ones that did the deed. The woman I loved. They built a cause of blame against me, planting their incriminating details to justify themselves. I was forced to run to the desert. Did my father stand with me? No, he did not. He did not want to lose customers at his shop!"

Eddrick had long since come to terms with the first great betrayal in his life. But felt that it would bolster the sense that he'd done everything he could, in the mind of the ghost, to speak of an instance where a parent had failed to do so. He continued with comparisons, "I feel that I have done well by the Rhakriis thus far. But I am not their founder! I did not raise them from random wanderers to a strong people of their own. I simply took leadership of what was already established." Now it was time to give common ground again. "Like the Alakani though, I have joined with the Empire of Korlasir."

He went on to speak of the justice and mercy he had witnessed so far from the Immortal of Korlasir. It was no small thing to Koloku to have Eddrick acknowledge how he'd been deceived and betrayed by Nashaki to taking up arms against the empire initially; and how they still embraced him as citizen when he realized his foolishness and bent the knee. Koloku's eyes shone with what wonder as was possible for a ghost. "And these are the ones my daughter has led her people to...It is good. I did not fail her after all. I thank you, Eddrick of the Rhakriis for telling me these things."

He bowed with grace, first to Eddrick, then turning to repeat the gesture to Terrilee and Borruck, who was holding a blanket in front of him for some reason. Koloku stiffened just slightly at the sight, then smiled and nodded. "I have greatly wronged you both. In what atonement I can give, I leave you now with my sincere apology. As we said in Ehtrusan that trial, rebirth is for vengeance, the wronged are reborn to gain it..."

"...and the wrong-doers are reborn to suffer it." Eddrick finished. "This was what the Alakani elder said to me that trial. He too, said it came from Ehtrusan." he explained as the ghost turned in surprise to hear his old adage finished. "I mean to do what I can to make Nashaki suffer it."

Koloku bowed and nodded sharply, "I understand the tactic you have employed, and do not resent it. You have proven your genuine contact with a culture that stems from old Ehtrusan through many references of things only one would know. And this elder clearly is such a one. You did steer the discussion to your needs; but I can see it was necessary. It allowed me to hear you out with a more opened mind. I had not felt such focus on the here and now in an age. I sense no untruth in you, Eddrick. I wonder, can you finish just one more Ehtrusani saying for me? When a man lies..."

The words came easily to Eddrick, "...a part of Idalos dies."

The gleam of pride in the eyes were the last thing to fade as Koloku seemed to disperse into the air. Eddrick now looked over at the couple still holding the blanket before them. He grimaced slightly, "What's with the blanket?"

Terrilee sniffled, "That was sad, but sweet. That poor man." she suddenly registered Eddrick's question. "Oh, this...well, I didn't really expect things to go that well. If the gho- Koloku, uh..if he had gotten angry and attacked, we'd drape it over you so he'd have to come through it to do anything."

At his puzzled expression, she continued, "Well, once he's halfway through, we'd tear the blanket. It really does them some damage. It's how we first let him know he couldn't just have his way with us."

"The door..." Borruck added, "It's why there's only a blanket there anymore. The first time he started passing through the door, I was outside and I heard Terri scream. I kicked the door in. Broke it right in half. The ghost really wailed, so we knew one way to keep him at bay. I'm glad you got him sorted out though. Really I am. I guess he's not such a bad guy. Aliana will be glad too. Won't have a ghost hanging around her anymore."

It made Eddrick feel good to hear them refer to the ghost as "he" and "him" now, rather than 'it" and "that". Now that they had a name and some historic aspect, they saw him for a man like any other, caught up in very understandable obsession.

Eddrick still had a lot of healing to do, so it was still many trials before he left for Yaralon. He would always remember the homey sight of Terrilee in a cozy embrace with Borruck, his daughter Aliana standing just a little apart, as they all waved a warm goodbye, the farm behind them, a backdrop of what makes life worth living.
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