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A legendary mage is born.

Seated on the shores of Lake Lovalus, Rharne serves as the home of the Lighting Knights, the Thunder Priestesses, and the Merchant's guild. This beautiful trade city is filled with a happy and contented people who rarely need an excuse to party.

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Alistair
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4th of Zi'da, Arc 716

"Sotrosei," the man called to him. Lotharro. Ellasin's Second. Sae'a'Fei, or Black One. Effren, the Fist of Arcanis. He had been waiting here, in this crypt, the Coven's inner sanctum beneath a mausoleum. It was far outside of the city walls, and so wholly free from the inspection of the city's thunderous officials. Perfect, then, for the Coven to engage in continuous plotting against the city from this far-off corner; acknowledged by those at the top of the realm's hierarchy, yet ignored for fear of retribution. It reflected the way in which nearly everyone treated the Coven - with a blindfold rather than a bandage. An anesthetic rather than a disinfectant.

In this crypt, beneath an assortment of trees and a ruined free-standing building, laid two of the most important individuals within the Coven hierarchy: Effren Galien, Ellasin's right-hand, and Alistair Venora . . . her invasion Herald; the one who would ultimately, she realized, act as her tool in initiating the conquest of her undead horde. This was, of course, all to be done through the Rend - a powerful portal of massive scale that could transfer armies through its maw, as well as spit out floods or drown lands in molten heat. A Rupturer of legendary skill was a necessary component in any mage's invasion, and with the singular legendary Rupturer - Reyard - gone to the world, Alistair had been groomed as his successor.

For years, the Coven had worked to help him realize his talent. His ability that had only been seen once before, and never again - bringing about this mastery became a singular and powerful motivator for Ellasin and many others. And recently, in something of a golden age of self-enlightenment, the mage's talents had soared beyond what they had even been initially.

Now, rather than merely a dream of the Coven, Alistair becoming the Coven's own "Reyard" had been constructed into something of a very, very near reality.

And today, guided by Effren Galien, the Fist of Arcanis himself, the magus would explore - finally - what it meant to be revealed. What it meant to live as something other than a human man, as he had all along.

And so, "Sae'a'fei," the young mage replied back. The Lotharro lowered his head and concentrated, though with a nod he beckoned for Alistair to sit before him. Directly before him - so close that he could hardly distinguish Effren's calm breaths from the air swirling around them, if not for the heat, and that if he became drowsy he'd find himself face-planting into the Lotharro's nostrils. Effren wanted to be able to feel Alistair's energy; to transcribe of who he was, by means of a connection of spiritual force, dangling between the two.

And ultimately, he was here also to help balance and control Alistair's energy by means of an external force - the Harvester, native to Effren's body for his devotion to the magic of Aberration. The purpose of all of this was to finalize the progress the Sotrosei had made in performing a singular, world-altering spell: the aforementioned Rend, the harbinger of the invasion Ellasin desired.
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Alistair
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"How do you fare, young Alistair?" the Lotharro asked. The two of them sat as closely as before, with their eyes closed shut, their breathing synchronized so that their heavy breaths clashed as they escaped their nostrils. They meditated as they spoke - or attempted to - with their palms frozen atop their lap as their feet straightened out and paused. It didn't take long before he could feel his legs begin to numb, and all that felt active in him was his mind. They spoke, thus, with no vision and no feeling or attachment to the physical world - but only their intellectual compulsions. Locked within the inner sanctum in a hollowed out corridor of the already fairly forlorn Rharne compound, no one would bother them here and there was no room to eavesdrop. Not even by Ellasin. He could be entirely honest.

"How do you imagine I fare, Effren?" he asked. "My purpose is soon to be achieved. The illusion that I was anything but a walking invasion portal for the Coven shall soon be dispelled. Perhaps I'll even be placed under mind control as I'm pulled from city to city, helping bring about the slaughter of millions of citizens and their conversion into undead abominations." He spoke frankly, and the older man - although loyal to Ellasin, or at least more loyal than Alistair - understood. He nodded, letting out a deep sigh.

And he could only wonder, both of them could - what was the point of all of this? Did Ellasin really want to rule the world that badly? Did she really care that dearly? To sunder so many lives merely to expand an undead army did not suit her. No - instead, it contradicted her covert methodology. It couldn't have been that it was all of the world that she wished to conquer; instead, Alistair could only imagine that it was one particular place. Ne'haer. All in her quest to pursue the great weapon she'd always desired, lost in the ruins beyond the city. Kept far from wanting eyes.

But after that invasion of Ne'haer, and after everything she sought after was to be obtained, would she cast aside her prior investments? Did her alleged love of Alistair stop there? Perhaps what he feared from all of this was his own disposability. He was not Effren, one of the greatest mages of this world... nor was he Damien, a man with a century long history, shared with the Necromantress. He was a rebellious child, instead; perhaps the greatest Rupturer to be born in generations, but with a tendency towards disobedience and difficulty. Someone who would see the Coven destroyed from within if the opportunity presented itself, and with a legendary magic at his disposal... such a dream could indeed be realized by him.

Needless to say, he was becoming a threat, if he wasn't already one. He knew Ellasin did not enjoy threats.

"You know what I think?"

. . .

He paused, his thoughts interrupted by Effren's speech. "You're brooding about your life and its longevity, you're angry and annoyed at our matron mother, but your energy hasn't gone... awry. Not at all. Instead, it feels empowered, from where I'm sitting. I think, like me, you're strengthened by your emotional impulses. I fight with hunger in me; a need. A need for blood, a need for brutality. I always witnessed you endlessly mulling about in your magic with the idea that calm dedication and experience would yield the best, most consistent results. Yet for arcs, you progressed slowly... and in the past several seasons, you have progressed in the same span that you did in several years. Why? Was it calm experimentation? Or was it because you saw something to fight for?"

. . .

He paused again. He'd never really thought about that. Alistair had, as Effren said, always been obsessed with discipline. Yet it was in this last arc, the most disorderly he'd ever lived, where he'd made the most strides in his magical advancement. He'd gone from barely being a competent Rupturer to now facing the prospect of becoming the greatest alive. And it wasn't calm that guided him. It was ambition. The desire to change his life - to free himself from the shackles he'd bound himself to in the Coven's shadow. To liberate Damien from another century of slaving at Ellasin's every whim.

Magic meant something to him, now. It was a tool to bring about the future he wanted to see. Before, it was merely a bored source of entertainment, all reliant on his macabre fetish for the strange and the taboo.
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Alistair
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"The arrival of your emotion, your wroth especially, has fueled your growth. But it's done another thing, Alistair," Effren began, "it's placed you on a pathway to conflict with the matron. This is the battle you've come to prepare yourself for, and I know it. Seeking desperately to resist the vile influence of our mother, the Necromantress, you altered details of yourself and shaped the landscape of your psyche for the sake of your rebellion. From a silent sociopathic recluse, you changed to that of a pragmatist, a diplomat, and a powerful magister. All so as to maintain your individuality, while yet still following Ellasin and Damien 'round like a compliant dog, leashed to their sides. And genuinely, an Alistair has come to be, one that distinguishes himself completely from the obedient animal captured by the Coven in his youth. This Alistair, who now holds his own power and his own beliefs, does not wish to live as Ellasin's pawn for all of his mortal life. He strikes out against that . . . he gains more power to further resist; to give himself a chance."

Effren opened his eyes, and somehow in the fluttering of his eyelids as they opened, the young mage could feel the stirring of the master. He braced his body, and what he knew was coming was indeed what came; a swift hand to his face, with a firm palm that threatened to bruise him on merely the singular strike, his lips reddening a shade. His eyes did not open. He did not make a sound, nor did his face move. He maintained his silence, instead, listening and obeying always with Effren; it was the effect the man had. He could beat an apprentice to death and have them hopelessly compliant the entire time.

Everything he did meant something. He wasn't like Ellasin - his actions had a point.

"You are not deserving, Alistair," the man whispered. "You are not deserving. Not of freedom, nor individuality, nor an unburdened life away from the Coven's grasp. Away from the witch's maw. You aren't powerful enough yet, nor intelligent, nor cunning. You have made too many mistakes - some I have had to cover for you. You imagine that everything you do is so fantastically clever, yet instead your actions are far too raw; in this world of darkness we call the Coven, you must conceal your treachery to the tune of a chameleon. Blend in. Belong. Become one with the family. Swear fealty to your mother, and to I, your big brother. But, you do not do these things, or act in a way that expresses your filial piety - everyone knows you don't belong. Everyone knows you don't really want to be here. Everyone knows you regret ever joining. It's too clear, Alistair. Your emotion has empowered your progression into magic, but it has dulled your liar's instinct. You were far better before."

Struck again. Another hand, swiftly, against his face; Alistair's head reeled back, and he exhaled.

"So, I say again - you know what I think? Your emotions, new and charming as they are, empower you... but they also weaken you. Weaken you to a point where you will be dismantled entirely if this weakening continues. She will discover your treachery, soon; her wrath will not be pleasant. She will break you, unmake you, and recreate your talents in a more suitable vessel. Her bond to you is naught but smoke and ash compared to her ambition. So stop living as a liability, Alistair. And learn some appreciation for the family that raised you. You're free to find your mother's methods deplorable if you want, but should you remain a loyal son, these methods shall not be inverted upon you. You must know that, right? Why do you fear the matron so?"
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Alistair
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Why did he fear her . . . ? The question was a difficult one. It wasn't, really, the correct question to ask him. Only Alistair ever really understood his own mind, although he struggled to put it into words, often; even more often, he could hardly rationalize his thoughts himself. Especially this past arc - the landscape of his mind had been so utterly . . . tumultuous. Everything, internally, had become overwritten and rewritten, forcing his mind into a precipice over a vast drop . . . littered by confusion. A loss of sense of self.

But always, there was a voice that deciphered everything for him. It wasn't the most appreciated aspect of his internal self, for rather than the romantic or poetic aspect of him it was merely the truth, bitter and raw. The reality of who he was. He imagined everyone had this voice. A whisper that he supposed others called their conscience, that stood inside of him as the true moral actuator within a web of sophisticated walls and convenient lies.

And this whisper, this voice, told him that it was not fear he had for Ellasin.

It was envy.

He wanted . . . to rule the Coven. He had for quite some time. Somehow, Venora wasn't enough. An army wasn't enough. They were just mortal men. To rule the Coven was far greater than leading even a Kingdom; it was as if presiding over the army of Hell. All of this posturing, for so long, had been in the face of his own greed. He doubted even Damien knew. But there it was, and Effren's voice called it out. The truth was revealed by the cold strike of his open palm.

But he had always known this, latently, quietly. Why did it matter to know it now?

"Alistair," the man called to him. He struck him once more, and this time, followed it up; he pushed the man against the cold stone. His palms rested against the mage's shoulders, as Alistair's eyes remained silent still. Effren's eyes, perpetually ablaze, watched for each and every sign of movement. He waited for the apprentice to stir - to leave his mind. To unburden himself with the truth.

"When you understand yourself, fully, that is when you will be free. The first step to your liberation will not be with the rolling of Ellasin's head down a stairwell. It will be with enlightening yourself to the truth of why her fate must be so to enable the fruit of yours. So tell me, apprentice - why must Ellasin die? You need to speak."

With a sigh, Alistair's eyes finally flickered open, Effren's eyes - literally aflame from his own revelation as a mage - coming into view as his vision focused.

"You want to know?" he asked, rhetorically. His face was cold. His lip appeared as if bruised, struck time and time again by the mage before him.

"Ellasin has to die because she isn't fit to live. She holds us back from greatness, cowering always as she has for a century past, in fear of immortals who would strike her down and smite her. Where have we gone, despite growing so much? She will never make her move until she wields Adriel en Avellach between her closed palm; yet that shall never be, as when she approached Seraas, the blade rejected her. With her leading the Coven, we will always live in fear and terror of the Immortals." Effren's eyes narrowed. He could see the truth in what Alistair had said, though he said nothing in reply; instead he merely allowed him to let his words echo through the room, uninterrupted.
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Alistair
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But he had no desire to speak of this any longer. Instead, he had a desire to fulfill the reason he'd come to this dark crypt. Effren was here, and Alistair's mind was utterly clear; moreso than it had been in quite some time. Letting the truth out did have an effect on him. And, in a way, expressing his disloyalty to Ellasin brought him a spirit of competition - he wanted to show to Effren that he was capable of closing the rift that she'd leave behind.

"I'm going to perform the Rend," he whispered to the Lotharro. And then he focused - but on something different than usual. He already knew all of the theoretical applications of the Rend, he knew how to channel his energy and what to envision to craft a stable portal; he did not think on all of these things now. Instead, he allowed Effren's words to inspire him. He thought with emotion. With want. He painted the remainder of the picture with an instinct rather than a disciplined conclusion. He let his passion for magic, for leadership, and for growth fuel his transcendence into the field.

And, as his thoughts delved into images of space constructed from his memory, he remembered why he'd come to love Rupturing so much. Why this magic had compelled him more than any other.

Because it was a story, more than merely a field of spellcrafting. It was a story of growth. It was a story that began in looking up to the sky at a young age and wanting to understand all there was out there; then standing beneath that same sky as a man, far later, and challenging the boundaries and limits of the body given to him. It was Reyard's story... the man who changed the way the world saw the universe around it, then forever vanished, leaving a rift in his wake.

Now, it was Alistair's story... the man who, above all, wanted to be better than what he'd always been, drawn to love the magic for the symbolism it presented; of the boundlessness of space, the brightness of the stars, the shimmering of faraway tales in the distance.

For the empty-hearted man he was, Rupturing had been as a beacon of hope. And really, finally, it had brought something out in him.

As his thoughts escaped a focal lens, his mind running miles, his energy formed a near-perfect arc. An exceptional body. Behind him, the Rend grew, the ultimate and final technique of Rupturing. And when it expanded enough to truly be called complete, it did not collapse. It remained open, pulsing, lashing out against the fabric of space. It was there. It was perfect. It was complete.

"Effren," the man whispered, muffled by the violent sounds of the Rend, "Shall we see where it leads?"
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Points!:

Story: /5
Collaboration: NA (solo thread)
Structure: / 5
Knowledge:

Location: Coven's Inner Sanctum
Effren Galien: Lotharro
Effren Galien: Abberation means he has a Harvester
Effren Galien: Empowered by his emotions
Effren Galien: Sees you, truly?
Effren Galien: Thinks you are obvious.
Effren Galien: Your emotions empower and weaken you
Ellasin: Does she have her sights on Ne'haer?
Ellasin: You envy her
Ellasin: You covet her power
Ellasin: Whilst she rules, can the Coven ever truly be what it should?
Endurance: The pain of a good face slap
Meditation: Remaining focused while the maelstrom swirls
Rupturing: The Rend.
Psychology: Ambition can be the strongest force.



Loot:
NA
Fame:
-2 (acts of magic),
Magic:
These points MAY be used for arcana

Overview:

General comments. I was a little nervous of reviewing this, because of the detail of the magic involved, but it was an awesome thread and I enjoyed it! Thank you for that ~ as a reviewer it was a pleasure to read!
Story Good - really interesting and well considered. I'd like to see some repercussions for Alistair for his open and obvious disapproval of Ellasin, which have been evident for a while now ~ I hope I get to review those soon, too! But in and of itself, this story is great!
Structure Great - no problems. You write beautifully.

Please do PM me if you've got any questions
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~~Red in hoof and claw... ~~
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