The Knights of the Verses: The Winnowing

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121st of Ashan 721

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The Knights of the Verses: The Winnowing


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121st Ashan 721

There was no excuse for beasts like them.

The Knight of Verses stared across the field, jagged with broken stones and dead vegetation. The Beneath was one of the few refuges from the terror and chaos that reigned upon Idalos. Ever since Faldrun had murdered the rest of the Pantheon through his Occult assassins and subjugated the great Induks, the world had lost all semblance of balance. Only the intervention of the World Soul of Idalos and the remaining Verses had stepped in to give refuge to the spirits and the souls of those swept up in the conflagration that followed. Entire empires were swept away overnight by the apocalyptic oppression of an Immortal built up by the destruction of so many of his peers.

Now tasked by the World Soul, the Knight of Verses once known as Woe had to reclaim those lost souls and release their ectoplasm, lest they rise to become the abominations that now shambled ahead of him. The Risen soldiers of fallen empires across the world now haunted the Beneath, infecting its perfection with their putrescence. Gorging on the lost souls until they had the power to return. But the Knights couldn't abide their return. The World Soul wouldn't until the descendants of the Shay were entirely wiped out, and Spirits reclaimed the strength that was theirs, in order to overthrow the Hier to Anox, the conquerer. In the end, Woe knew what the wages of his task involved. There would be one soul to release when all was said and done, but that occasion would come when it did.

For the moment, all that was ahead of him, and filled his vision, was this task. What he saw before him, the contingent of Risen ghosts. Their bodies desiccated, dried in places, and swarming with rot and the essence of plague. Yet Woe knew their pitiful shell was more or less a lie. Risen were among the strongest of the Undead remaining in the world since magic itself had been purged by the Occult.

The Wispblade shone red with the glow of ectoplasm, ready to release the souls from those shells, so they could be deconstructed. His steed, Gray Pilgrim, snorted in the air of the Beneath, while Breen took up beside Woe. His sister's last remaining crow flew overhead, an eye in the sky, should he need it. He shared a mental link with all of his spiritual companions here, today.

The battle laid out before him, he ventured forward, kicking his horse into a canter as he strode into the crowd of the undead, his Wispblade held at the ready to remove their taint from the Beneath. The first of the undead swarmed his side, and was instantly swept up in the red wake of Wispblade. It destroyed their shell, tearing them apart and releasing the soul in a singular rush of siphoning artifice that had gone into the forging of Wispblade. Woe barely had time to wheel about before more of them swarmed. Breen did his level best to dart in and scatter a few that tried his flank, while his blade put the fear of oblivion into them. It was then, that he heard the call of his sister's crow, crying overhead.



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Re: The Knights of the Verses: The Winnowing

Ashan 121, Arc 721
And yet, the Knight would not be alone in his task. It was never intended that he would.

The World Soul was infinite and wise. It had tasked another with protecting the Knight of Verses at all costs, even her own soul should the need arise. It had been an oath she willingly took on, playing her part in the grand design. There had been no rhyme or reason to how she had known it was something she had to do – it just was. Abilities had been given to her; tools that would assist her in doing what she must, to ensure the success of their shared purpose.

A Guardian & Watcher of Verses, Natalia in another time and place, had been plucked from obscurity to fulfill a role the Universe needed her to, and as such, she watched and observed from a nearby cliff. The Knight was her only duty.

She was clear on what was expected of her and what the boundaries were of her calling. Committed to seeing her oath through, golden eyes watched his every move as he went about his work. Looking up, she noted the presence of a crow, a smile almost slipping free but her focus never wavering. The Guardian knew everything about the Knight so there was an awareness of the connection.

Of course, the crow would be there.

She had learned much about the Knight from the World Soul. He was a man that had walked the world seeking a place to belong. The Guardian understood that, as she too had felt the undeniable pull to find understanding and appreciation, so in this way, they were kindred spirits. Perhaps that was why she had been called.

The waves of undead kept coming. The Knight did as he needed, battling through bravely, but it was clear to the Guardian that he would soon be overrun. Her time had come.

In the blink of an eye, the figure vanished from her perch…

The Knight had just heard the call of the crow when before his horse, the hooded figure appeared. With a wave of her hand, the hoards were pushed back, held in place by her will. Hand extended to keep the undead where she wished them to be, for the time being, she lowered her hood with the other, revealing a tumble of dark curls. Golden eyes filled with focus and purpose, sheer determination holding the masses back to protect them both.

Turning to glance at him over her shoulder, she inclined her head in respect, voice soft but with purpose.“You’ve done well, but you can’t do this alone. Not anymore. I won't allow it. Rest for the moment. I won’t be able to hold them for long. Their power has grown too strong down here.”
Last edited by Natalia Gregorios on Mon May 17, 2021 5:39 pm, edited 1 time in total. word count: 472
"A girl should be two things: who and what she wants."


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Re: The Knights of the Verses: The Winnowing


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Although his attention was at present occupied by the hordes of powerful undead, the Knight was alerted to the presence of another. For a moment Woe wondered if it might be one of the dark wisps, occupying a mortal shell to pierce into the beneath. The Dark wisps were powerful adversaries, and all the more for being able to assume physical form at will, with all the abilities of Famula's wisps of old, before she'd migrated her refuge of Zuudaria to the core of the Beneath.

Yet, she was fast, faster than any wisp had a right to be. Almost as if by rupturing magic, she appeared before him, and with a wave of her hand dispersed a large group of them that had been threatening his flank. Utilizing a wave of pure abrogative and sovereign force, she swept them aside.

Woe's steed hitched up on its hind legs, suddenly startled by what appeared to be magic. Yet, even for her use of magic, he wasn't afraid of the consequences. Those would be damned in all good time. For now, he would accept whatever tools fell into his lap.

He did as she asked, and rested for a moment behind the barrier she'd forced to cage out the undead hordes. He saw their slimy appendages clawing against the etheric barrier, slick and puss-ridden with blood. The Risen hordes then began disappearing from their bodies, disengaging. Before the Guardian could react, several of the disembodied ghosts began flying through the barrier, straight for her.

The Knight of Verses had enough rest, he spurred his horse into action, and charged to intercept. The BLack Destiar charged with unnatural speed, shifting through the form of the Guardian and ahead of her as if through his own rupturing magic. But his was a power that wasn't connected to Emea. And hadn't for many an age.

He took the Wispblade, and its glowing red edge began shredding the ghosts that had disengaged from their bodies. But soon enough, more of the risen were abandoning their physical forms to take on the ethereal forms of phantoms. They charged for the two and were becoming too much for Woe to overcome with strength and skill at arms alone. He held up the sword, and whispered the words in the Ancient Language. With the Wispblade activated, it began drawing in the disembodied spirits and blending them into the power of the Wispblade, returning their ectoplasm to the gem at the core of its hilt.

Woe could feel the heft of the Wispblade change as it consumed innumerable souls. Just then, the Risen abandoned the notion of leaving their bodies. And before long, began clawing against the abrogative barrier.

"We need to be away from here!" Woe shouted to the Guardian, whoever she might be. He reached out a hand for her to ride on his Destiar. Breen, meanwhile led the path ahead, forging a line of escape that they could follow, while Labrae's lone crow circled overhead, waiting for a sign that the shield was failing.

When the Guardian took his hand, if she did, he would vault her onto the back of his horse, and be off.
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Re: The Knights of the Verses: The Winnowing

Ashan 121, Arc 721
Curses flew from her lips as the ghosts penetrated the barrier. The work they had to do, was a marathon, not a sprint. There were levels upon levels they would have to figure out and fight through, utilizing both their skillsets. The matter before them wasn’t a simple one – she had been warned about that.

Yet for everything she knew they needed to accomplish, there would be no rewards at the end of the journey, for either of them. What they had been asked to do was the ultimate thankless task. Still, there had been no hesitation on her part in agreeing, and the reason why was still a mystery to her.

Before she could react, the Knight saw the group of ghosts heading for her and acted, riding his steed through her. Natalia wasn’t surprised but then again, surprise was a luxury she couldn’t afford right then. She simply hadn’t expected the Risen to realize so quickly that abandoning their forms would gain them access to what they sought.

The only thing that did seem to buy the pair time, however, is that the ghosts seemed to be confused about who the bigger threat was. They could use that to their advantage when the time was right.

As soon as his Wispblade glowed red, so did the young Guardian’s eyes, one hand holding the remains of the abrogative barrier in place, the other rising up and destroying ghosts that strayed too close to either of them with a slashing motion, mimicking the actions of the Knight’s sword.

She realized that the pair were out of time just as he called out to her, offering his hand. Without hesitation, she took it and was pulled behind him on the horse. Wrapping her arms around his body, she held on tightly, eyes watching the hoards that they were trying to escape. They had used up all their available time. They needed to regroup, rethink and reassess.

“I know a place we will be safe for a time…”
she shouted, head level with the back of his shoulder, as they rode away, following the creature with the Knight. “Head for the rocky mountain up ahead, to the left. The trail will shift up to the mountain. There’s a cave not too far up that path. I can put a barrier over the mouth of it that will cloak us from the Risen.” The knowledge she had of such places was small but hopefully useful in their situation.

Turning, she watched as they were followed. The Knight needed to concentrate on where they were going, which meant she needed to focus on the Risen. They couldn’t follow the pair for the barrier she had spoken of was simply a means of concealment. It would not stop the Risen from entering the cave. As such, she needed to ensure they weren’t followed or seen before entering the safe haven.

Shifting her body just a bit, she released one of her arms from him, gripping tighter with her other, and held out her hand, pointing at the mass of creatures following, closing her eyes and releasing a pulse of pure silver ether, repelling the group for a moment, allowing them precious trills to escape.


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"A girl should be two things: who and what she wants."


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Re: The Knights of the Verses: The Winnowing


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The Guardian seemed to possess abrogative abilities, abilities far beyond what even the Knight had enjoyed, once upon a time as a mage. Before he’d been redeemed and claimed by the Zuuda for Famula’s army. Cleansed of the alien taint, his fractured soul reinforced by ectoplasmic energies that held together only by the grace of Famula. Glowing red fracture marks scattered across his form, forming a glow beneath his Sorellian armor. Beneath the layers of plates, chain, and padding. The fracture scars glowed for anyone to see, however, as they could not be so easily hidden anymore.

He followed her direction, moving for the mountain path to the left, where she claimed there was a cave they could enter up ahead. Woe was wary of the choice of shelter, yet he had to admit that being out in the open, able to flee wasn’t working out much better. Fixed fortification it would be. Damned if they had a choice. Woe had to commit to that course of action.

The Destiar strode over the ground, nearly floating on the wings of its multi-colored cloak. Before long, they were charging up the ramp and into the cavern. Opal glowed with iridescence, illuminating their surroundings as they entered it. Woe had to duck his head, and eventually relented and dismounted from the Destiar. He offered to help the Guardian off, though the gesture was but a token.

”We’ll have to seal ourselves off if we can. What is this place?” Woe looked around, casting his glances this way and that. It did look familiar, like he’d been there before. It reminded him vaguely of a time many centuries ago, of the Mines of Morandi where he’d found Opal to begin with. He’d been a mage then, and trapped her, forming a bond through their mutual threads. Toutouye was there as well…

He almost thought he was back in Ne’haer, which almost brought him out of his dream-like reverie, but almost as swiftly as the thought occurred to him, it was dismissed. The non-lucidity frayed for only a moment before it reconstituted, and he was back within his armored suit, with the Wispblade now extinguished of its ectoplasmic energies.

Woe looked around, and then back toward the Guardian. ”So… Who are you, where are you from? And how is it the Zuuda have not informed me of any other living souls, not in the thrall of the shade of Neronin?”

Woe stood stoically in front of her, waiting for an answer, but not expecting to be convinced of a word that she said. He had his suspicions, formed from life and unlife spent in service and owing to one spirit or another. Most likely, the Guardian wished to have something of him, and now it was his to wait and see what that might be.

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Re: The Knights of the Verses: The Winnowing

Ashan 121, Arc 721

She didn’t waste a moment once the Destiar entered the mountain. Before the steed was halted, she turned, hands already in motion, sweeping out against the opening of earth and stone, erecting a field that would halt all that tried to enter. At least for a time.

He dismounted himself and offered her a hand, which she took. His question remained unanswered for the moment, concerning herself more with inspecting the barrier to ensure it had been properly constructed and executed considering it had been done on the fly.

The barrier itself was clear, allowing them a clear field to see if any approached. Swiftly walking to the entrance, she quickly ascertained that the magic had given them a clean escape, breathing a sigh of relief.

Now she had time for questions.

Turning to face him, she gave a quick smile. “Just a cavern. Save haven for us. There are a few places like this sprinkled about. The barrier is done. None will be able to enter here, although the same is true for us being able to leave. At least until I deconstruct it. We will be able to rest here, eat and regain energy for the continuing battle.”

Arching an eyebrow gently at the interrogation, the smile fell from her face a bit. She had known it wouldn’t be easy to connect with him but somehow had thought her actions would have been enough to take the edge of the suspicion. “I’m Natalia. Your Guardian. I was chosen, just as you were. I was given a task, just as you were. And as for why you weren’t told, that I’m less clear on. There are many things I’m not told either.”

Sighing softly, the young woman walked past him, arching her finger in a beckoning motion. “There’s a room on the other side of this wall. There we can build a fire. Provisions and supplies should be available to us as well. Come, I’ll tell you what I know.”

If he consented to follow, they would find themselves in a large cavern area that appeared to be what she had stated it would be. A fire pit sat in the center with dried wood and kindling against the far wall. Crates as well, filled with provisions and needed supplies such as blankets and medical gear. Immediate needs, it seemed, were handled.

Lowering onto one of the logs near the fire pit, the young woman glanced at him and began again. “Knight of the Verses, Woe Morandi,” she spoke, so he would know that she knew of him. “I’m the Watcher and Guardian of Verses, Natalia Gregorios. The moment you became a Knight, I was conscripted as your Watcher and Guardian of One. One meaning you. I have one charge, one responsibility. You.”

She allowed that information to sink in before continuing. “My charge was to watch you until you needed me. Had I not interceded, you would have perished in that battle. My duty now is to assist you until the mission is complete. If you don't believe me, look at your forearm."

Rolling up her sleeve, she showed him what she already knew would be on his arm - a glowing golden sigil.

"The moment you touched my hand, pulling me onto your horse? The bond was complete. You can refuse my help, of course, but I will simply follow behind and do what I can from afar. I have no choice. You do. "

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"A girl should be two things: who and what she wants."


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Re: The Knights of the Verses: The Winnowing


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The Guardian knew much about the world’s situation, she was lucid and coherent, which probably meant she wasn’t any kind of ghost, yet he’d been fooled before. Not long before even, as such a ruse was what precipitated the surprise attack on him that they’d only narrowly escaped.

A cavern. Woe thought to himself. Where were the degenerates hiding then? He had an idle thought, and a slight twinge of amusement to be trapped here for the time being. But it didn’t last before he realized she’d given him some form of mark.

He looked down at his hand and saw it. Just then, the Crow, which held the soul of his nephew Wicker landed on his shoulder. It was his only companion at times, though it left him for many trials at a time, to his own devices. Only Opal was a more constant companion. But she wasn’t much of one for conversation.

Unlike the Guardian, who had much to say, some of which Woe had cause to either doubt or be skeptical. What was the nature of the mark she’d given him?

Then she explained it. Well, if he took it for face value, it hardly seemed ideal. Woe preferred to work alone. Much like his domain of Scorpions, he was a solitary creature. Not one for travelling with others. There were brief dances and trysts, and engagements here or there, but it wasn’t in his nature to be tied to anyone or anything.

”We will camp here for the night, and I will take what I can from the supply room if you’ll allow me. But I cannot accept your help. But I suppose, given the nature of the bond, that you will follow me anyway.” Woe shrugged and knelt on the ground to regain his energy.

” Right, tomorrow I will be leaving, when the hordes of risen and ghosts have passed this cavern by and dispersed. You’re free to follow, as you said you would. But it’s dangerous.”

So saying, Woe, very weary from the fight and the chase, sat down and leaned against the wall of the cave. There, he made himself as comfortable as reasonably possible, while slipping back into the waking world.

To be continued…?
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Re: The Knights of the Verses: The Winnowing

]

It’s the zombie apocalypse meet cute! Non-lucid dreams can be a fun way of just writing whatever, and this was fun. Using an alternative global event outcome (it is alternative, isn’t it? *isn’t* it?!) is a nice touch. It will be interesting to read whatever continuation you two come up with.
Woe

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Skill Knowledge:
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Injuries/Overstepping: None.

Skillplay: Appropriate to level

Comments:

“Knight of the Verses” sounds like Woe is some sort of troubadour. You do a good job conveying Woe’s asocial “I work alone” vibe, and how it can affect his outcomes. Sometimes even Mr. Incredible needs help.
Natalia

Experience: +15 x.p.

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None.

Injuries/Overstepping: None.

Comments: Natalia’s a stalker! :p The Guardian is an interesting persona for her. She seems a lot more self-assured and in-control in this setting than in her “real” life in Idalos.
Let me know if either of you have any questions/feedback. Enjoy your rewards!
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