• Closed • Conviction (Linika)

Will she break?

Stronghold of education and learning, this fortress is in one of the coldest areas of Idalos and home to many knowledge seekers in a variety of disciplines. However, unknown to most, below the city are those who suffer for the sake of science. While all are welcome, not everyone will be treated as they expect.

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Conviction (Linika)

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The Delegate stood, white eyes blank and emotionless, as he stared at the woman locked on the other side of the bars. The enigma of the naer were barely studied by the eídisi; the race was a rare and exotic one. Perhaps they should have known the race better, perhaps the Intelligence Authority had not used their time wisely in following this woman around the city.

The woman’s loyalty was undoubtedly still with Audrae, the most hated of all Immortals. For this reason, the naer was not to be trusted. But she had, however inadvertently, saved the incapacitated Immortal, buried deep in the ice depths of Oscillus. That deed alone, strangely, had aligned Audrae to Yvithia. For her own part, there had been a small thaw in Yvithia’s frozen anger towards her nemesis. Linika Amarinthine, by virtue of her own involvement, had aligned herself to Yvithia too.

Yes. Your missive to the Immortal Audrae reaches its mark, we assume.” Verity leant against the back wall, just to the left of the door, waiting for the Máthisi to join him. His arms were crossed, but everything about his position suggested how relaxed he was being here, in this stone-walled, cold room, talking normally to a naer, as if he were merely discussing the weather with his wife. “You are not the only one to be pleased with the results your… Mother had against the illusionistic deceivers.

Exile or not, your words seem to have been believed. You were trusted, and your gamble paid off. Perhaps Augiery will welcome you back, though one has to wonder what crime you committed which was so heinous for you to seen refuge in the Fortress of Ice.” A smile, however brief, even grace Verity’s face at those words. There was little amusement to be found in this situation, but the Delegate found it nonetheless. Perhaps it was easier when on this side of the bars.

Verity?” The Delegate in question finally pulled his eyes away from the prisoner at the arrival of the Máthisi, who was followed by none other than their own Immortal founder. Verity pulled himself up off of the wall and turned, bowing his head in a respectful greeting to the two new arrivals. “This is the one?

But Verity did not answer, for his eyes were now locked with those of the Immortal of Intelligence - an entirely silent stream of conversation was happening between the pair of them. Verity’s first priority was to update Yvithia on the new knowledge, of the naer’s involvement, and greater understanding of the events which had unfolded seasons ago. Satisfied, the Immortal stared a look with her second-in-command, before all three turned to regard their prisoner.

"Yes," The Immortal continued, as if no time had passed and she was merely following on from Verity's own comments, "Though I do wonder why anyone would want to return to somewhere that clearly doesn't want you. To cast you out with little hope of return, yet you continue to seek their approval and forgiveness? Is Audrae, the Queen of Deception and Lies, really so worthy of such loyalty?"

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It was an odd sight, to see a restrained naer, undergoing an interrogation, smiling with genuine happiness at her questioner. His comments did nothing to diminish her mood, though it spun slightly into a corrective tone. "Now, I only said I was exiled. My crime was not ruled to require my presence here. That was my own choice, as it was the least likely place I could think of, to which I would be pursued."

A pause was followed by a deep sigh before she continued, "So you want to know my crime, do you? Well, why not. I killed a sister in order to generate a poisonous weapon of her body, to allow the rest of my party to escape slavers from Athart." She spit at the last word. "She was mortally wounded anyway. I felt I did her the honor of making her the destroyer of our enemies, even in death. I can not honestly say she 'thanked' me for it or anything, nor did I expect any."

She shrugged, "So, maybe if it was me, I would have objected. I can not say. But I did what I felt was necessary for the greater good. In such a world as we live, it is a sacrifice we all may have to make some time. I do not apologize for it....Nor did I, in Augiery. Thus, my exile."

She looked at the man, trying to gauge if he thought this was a monstrous thing for her to have done. She wondered as well, if he knew the concept of 'sister' as she had meant it. ALL naerikk were sisters under the Great Mother. If he wanted more details, she'd had no real objection to providing them. It would only amount to a seminar on creative "field alchemy". Nothing strategic, given that virtually none of the ingredients on the tropical Crescent Peninsula were likely to found here in frigid Viden.

But it was not prodding for additional details that manifested within the room on the far side of the bars. Dread, as never felt before, clutched at Linika's heart and soul as the very embodiment of adversity strode in to stand by the Talius inquisitor. A cold draining of hope surged through the naer as the most hated of all Immortals stood there in what looked like silence, yet was surely not. Had she not just suffered the silent scouring of her mind? Was there reason to believe that the Immortal of Viden could not converse with her minions with no more than a thought?

'NO!' she slapped herself mentally, trying to summon courage again, 'I am a daughter of Audrae! I will not be intimidated! I will die, and somehow, I will be remembered as someone that the Ice Bitch had to defeat personally!'

She took a deep breath and straightened her back to have some pride here at the occasion of her execution. For a moment she was confused as the spoken words were suddenly realized to be directed at herself and not to her interrogator. She seized control of her trembling to look the enemy Immortal in the eyes with some dignity, and even offered a slight bow of the head.

"You are my enemy. The enemy of my Lady, my Queen, my Mother. Are you not mother to the race of...eidisi?" She had nearly spoken some rude racial epithet, but chose civility instead. "Would you hold that they should cooperate if bound in Augiery? Neither will I, though I know I must ultimately fail. I regret that there is no chance that I will succeed against whatever means a being such as yourself can surely array against my feeble resistance. But I take pride in the fact that it required you to bring me down."

There. It was said. She had announced her animosity, and acknowledged the surety of defeat. Yet she felt a strange sense of triumph in her words. The Immortal before her spoke her piece about being unwanted and cast out. Anger at the criticism sparked the necessity of a rebuttal. "Perhaps I came here specifically in hopes of achieving something of note to earn my return. I would not have it granted out of pity." the last word was a sneer.

There was a double standard to lay bare, and she embraced the opportunity, "You speak of Deception and Loyalty! I would lay your own deception before the eyes of the world if I could! And in that success I would have returned to Augiery in triumph to flaunt your shame before one who embraces the purity of such domain! Not one who employs it to the same degree, yet heaps public disdain upon it, as if she would never lower herself to use it, though all know it often provides the edge necessary to succeed. What loyalty do YOU earn with such hypocrisy?"

Every thought she was able to complete felt like victory to her. She kept expecting to feel some agony lance through her brain to bring death. Yet she was still unassailed. "In that, I would have earned my return. So kill me instead, and keep your secrets! Though they too are treated as contemptible when held by my Lady. Are all the Immortals open with their private affairs? Of course not! Yet they all seek such revelations. I wonder, then, why the barter of private information is treated as villainy when performed by MY Queen."

She straightened her back, setting her will to stand firm in the face of her enemy's fury.
Last edited by Linika on Fri Jun 02, 2017 7:07 pm, edited 2 times in total. word count: 937
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The naer's story was interesting and, in some ways, seemed intrinsically linked to really unravelling the mystery that was Linika Amarinthine. The three Videnese listened in silence to the girl’s tale of woe and tribulation… though without any real sympathy to her plight. as they listened, stone-faced - for none of them were affected by the tale - they analysed and interpreted. What made this near tick. What would break her? What would twist her? What would ultimately test her conviction?

Every word uttered from the naer’s mouth was borne of reverence to her Great Mother. She truly believed that Audrae’s way was the right way. It would be hard to make her see reason. “Correct. I created the race of eídisi,” the Immortal dipped her head slightly as she gestured to the two members of the Directorate on either side of her. “And the eídisi do not cooperate with the atrocious, reprehensible goals that Audrae has pursued over the long arcs since the Shattering. However it seems that perhaps there is hope for your Mother yet.

Yvithia stepped closer. Verity, too, moved forward, as if to defend his liege at the first sign of danger to her. “She destroyed neither the heart, nor the body. On the contrary, she hindered the pans of the other foul souls who sought to attack one who could not defend himself. Audrae is many things but I knew her to be better than a coward who would work in such underhanded ways, like the others.” But then Yvithia smiled, and her eyes, which did not appear to be slightless like those of her creations, appeared to be pitying.

My dear child… I am not here to… bring you down.” Lifting the key to the bars that separated Linika from the eídisi, Yvithia unlocked the door, ignoring Verity’s quick warning against the idea. The Máthisi remained unmoving and silent, but watchful. The captive would have to pass through them, and the Agents posted just in the corridor, before attempting her escape. And then she would be met by the warren of corridors that made up the Facility for Retrospective Analysis… all of which were met with locked doors. She would either starve or be caged, so the Máthisi was mostly unconcerned. “I am here to redeem you.

Then she paused, surprised at the sudden venom in the naer’s words. She was far too perceptive. How had the Intelligence Authority not reported any of this to the Directorate? Were her Secret Police that incompetent at times? But she let none of her surprise at the outsider’s astuteness show, and feigned an innocence that Syroa would have been proud of. “You seem to misunderstand me. There are no secrets in Viden, Linika. A citadel of learning cannot withhold information for those worthy enough to enter through the doors of the Academy. We do not deceive those who wish to learn - we only help and nurture them. I would have hoped that, in all your arcs here, you would have come to see that.

She glanced back at Verity, who nodded. “Was it not one of those disdainful eídisi boys who took a chance and risked his reputation, and that of his family, to secure you your current position? Ulterior motives or no, you had your own reasons for seeking such an alliance… and I doubt that your intentions were that of gold.” She shook here head, “We are none of us innocent… but I did not ask of deception. I asked of loyalty. We did not cast you out, despite your insistence of unyielding hatred between our nations. But Audrae did.

The Immortal of Communication decided on another tact, one to try to twist Linika’s perception of Audrae. It would not work instantly, and would likely take seasons, if not arcs… but she could try to plant the first seed. “She abandoned you… and in the interim time has marked some of my own. It seems that some eídisi are more valuable to her than her own children. The point you misinterpreted is that loyalty means very little to Audrae. Your uses to her are few: if you feed her information every few seasons then you have some value, but you have not.. and your last missive to here was pure happenstance. To your Mother, you are expendable, Linika.
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So many things flashed through Linika's mind as the Immortal spoke, it was getting hard to mentally collate them all for analysis. First and foremost was the absolute surety that he only truth contained in her words were those calculated to be the most effective in allowing the lies to take root. Was it not always sound strategy to use the weapon of the enemy against them? Had the Witch of Viden not made special note of mentioning the "Deception and Lies" domains of her Great Mother? It was the naer's experience that people did that when they wanted to reinforce their own right to do something of which they would normally feel shame, by assuring themselves first of their enemy's equal guilt.

Now, this was nothing Linika would "hold against" the witch, any more than she would hold any tactic against an enemy that was trying to win. What else should anyone expect of their enemy? But they were still the enemy, and they must still be defeated. But as she heard the goddess out, some incongruities did catch in her thoughts. Primarily, it was 'what is the point of this?' She claimed "redemption". Of course this nonsense would go hand in hand with ongoing recriminations against Augiery's customs, cultures and worship of Audrae, which Linika naturally chalked up to frustration over Yvithia having been indirectly defeated through the incapacitation of Treid.

Then this nonsense over the Talius fool having made his partnership with some sort of altruistic intent! Risking his good name and standing, as if it was only to help a poor naerikk. Ridiculous! He was as conniving as any other. And not especially courteous either. That brought her to respond to the words the Immortal had just spoken prior to that. "Oh, Indeed...in 'all my arcs here' I have seen plainly how much 'help and nurturing' I am given to expect."

"And no, Queen of Viden, I already stated that I sought something of a strategic nature against you, that I could take home to trade for restoration of my name. Perhaps not in those exact words, but the same meaning. Deception and lies indeed! I am being more honest than the lot of you combined!" Even though she felt considerable pride in her delivery of that rebuttal, there was still the lack of any real purpose in this. There was no reason for Yvithia to 'redeem' an enemy, when the rest of the city would still heap scorn upon her. Was the witch going to follow her about, casting angry glances at any videnese citizen that hurled insult at her hated naerikk ward? Nor would it alter Linika's stance on what she valued in a culture.

So it HAD to be the frustration she was making every effort to hide as the Immortal maintained her subtle assault on Audrae's honor. She knew that she'd not been abandoned, and that all the argument built upon this supposition was a house of cards. But she could not reveal it! She had to maintain her cover that she'd been exiled and was doing this entirely of her own accord.

It was not that there would be any success with her mission now. She would be under permanent scrutiny, and all plans were void. But if she could maintain the façade of there being no real interest , on Augiery's part, in regard to the goings-on in Viden, she could at least feel THAT measure of success. Resisting a confession might make future plans by future naerikk more easily accomplished. Also she had amassed her small vault of treated drugs, poisons and reagents. If she could survive this ordeal, she may yet skip town with it and set up a shop in some distant city.

But then it dawned on her, and she had to genuinely struggle to hide the revelation from her features, not even being sure of her success in the attempt. These people, with all their intelligence and mental skills, still didn't actually know she'd BEEN sent here on a mission. They still actually thought it was her own "misguided" desire to win back her name. They'd detected her ill-intent toward the city easily enough, but had not delved deep enough to unveil the main deception.

Now her mind whirled with covers, blocks and misdirection. She feared she had revealed some sudden understanding, and they would surely put her to the grind again if she did not come up with something to account for it. And all at once it hit her. the very fact that she HAD been on a mission, and that Audrae would surely want to reward her for her missive...'happenstance' or not!

She turned a proud and confident look back in the face of her antagonist, "Then you must release me, and immediately, if you truly hope to convince me of any of that hogwash." Assuming there would be quick protests, she held up her hand, now that she'd been unshackled. "No, hear me out! For there to be a true test of what you say, there must be reason for Mother Audrae to think I can be contacted to be rewarded, so that if she does NOT, I will know my efforts on her behalf to have been ignored and shunned."

She sat back, in the chair, arms folded defiantly, "My Mother may even now be arranging a reward for the great service I performed. But if she has ANY evidence of your having even possibly tampered with my mind or perceptions of cultural strengths, she will have cause that even YOU can agree with, to feel I am compromised, and now a tool of the enemy. One does not trust a potential double agent, agreed?"

She did not wait for an answer, "Therefore, Oh Lady of Intelligence, it stands to reason that I must NOT be seen to suffer ANY incident of detainment or questioning, else nothing of what you say can be proven true or false." Her look was triumphant. Not just that she felt she'd found the gap in the mental armor of her enemy, but that she too, felt she was certain to obtain some reward for her effort last Vhalar. Then she WOULD prove the witch wrong! Audrae would never abandon her!
Last edited by Linika on Sun May 07, 2017 4:57 pm, edited 1 time in total. word count: 1071
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Conviction (Linika)

 ! Message from: Whisper
"Talius fool"?!?!? I will not be held responsible for the repercussions of insulting my beloved Virikai. D:
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Linika Amarinthine was not eídisi - as much was plain by her physical appearance, but it was only now that the three observing her realised how very different the naerikk mindset was to that of the eídisi race. The blue folk endemic to the northern reaches were not sociopaths, though many believed them to be. But they had, by virtue of their very creation, an innate dampening of their emotions. Calm, cool, collected. Indifferent, that was the word. They were detached and objective, as one had to be to truly excel in this world ruled by suffering.

The naer before them was not detached. The strongest emotions, for there were many in this moment, were quite visible in her features. No matter how hard she was clearly trying, she could not retrain the anger as she spat out her words. In some ways, they knew that they were getting to her… maybe she was nearing breaking point.

But the three most powerful individuals in Viden could take this reading of her emotions a step further. They could see what others could not. Their gifts were not infallible, and Linika’s mind was not a book to flip through the pages and peruse at will, but they could see enough, they could see some of the things Linika still refused to say. What they saw showed them that she was not breaking. Her conviction was as strong as ever. The two members of the directorate found themselves confused.

But Yvithia was not. Not much was readable on Yvithia’s face, except perhaps disappointment. She was gazing at Linika in silence, as if appraising her possibilities. “Yvi-” The Immortal raised her hand, silencing the Delegate before his words could further unravel the seeds she was trying to carefully to place within her quarry’s mind. As it was, she knew now that she was unlikely to succeed in her initial endeavours. Linika, it seemed, was intelligent enough to try to play Yvithia at her own game. It was a high card Linika had played and, in a way, she had won. But, in playing that card, the Immortal sensed that there was nothing left. Yvithia's demeanour shifted.

I admire your conviction, Linika Amarinthine,” Yvithia's voice was soft and disarming, taking a further two steps into the captive’s part of the cell. “Do you know of the game of chess, child?” The Immortal asked.

Ultimately, a cerebral game was one played in the shadows, and Yvithia was just as adept at duplicity as Audrae. “ Chess is a game of warfare. One of finite and distinct resources. The interesting thing about Chess, Linika, is that the game does not end with the destruction of an army. Nay, the army can be whole, but when the King is captured, the game is over. Any chess player with elementary knowledge of the game knows that the King, limited as he is, will inevitably be protected by the Queen. In many ways, therefore, chess is a battle to remove the Queen from the board.

Yvithia smiled, enjoying her metaphor. The Immortal of Intelligence approached in a predatory fashion, smile still plastered across her face. “A player has a number of different forces at her disposal, and allocation is a difficult part of her job. Chess is a game of baiting the enemy. She must fool her opponent by provoking her to make moves that will later prove to lead to ruin… thus the pawns head forth, behind enemy lines, to distract the Queen.

If the naer retreated from the Immortal's slow approach, Yvithia would only follow, for the girl had nowhere to go. “It requires creativity and foresight to sneak up on the Queen, thus taking her by surprise when the pieces are always visible to both sides. The only thing that isn’t visible is the future of the pawn.

The question is, Linika, did Audrae place a pawn in Viden as collateral damage… or is that pawn destined for promotion?" Her tone was still very pleasant, unnervingly so. Her next words came out in nothing more than a whisper, as if to herself. “Time will tell me if this move has been ultimately divined by Audrae's schemes.” Yvithia was very close to her captive now, and she regarded the woman, and her smile widened as her eyes flashed - the only warning Linika would receive.

You belong to me now,” The Immortal's voice reverberated in every blank space of Linika's mind, a disorienting cacophony of echoes. In this moment of confusion, she raised her hand to the mortal's forehead and feather light fingers traced over the woman's right eye, power seeping from tips to temple. “Your mind is mine. Your every thought, your every idea, your every concern, is mine.

The two officials watched on, their masks slipping slightly to reveal expressions of barely restrained pain. They, too, could hear their sovereign's voice through the telepathic energy in the room. They had experienced it before, but no Xypha was immune, if Yvithia wanted you to hear her. “There is nowhere in this world where you can run from me. There will never be a single moment in which you could hope to escape my ownership. You are mine and your obedience will be absolute.
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There was a moment where Linika honestly believed she might prevail over her people's most loathed adversary. Yvithia, the Ice-witch, queen of Viden and the blue-skinned enigmas, had actually acknowledged her enemy's conviction. She did not protest her victim's accusations of being as much a deceiver as her own matron, Great Mother Audrae. But her slow approach encompassed a whole new facet of intimidation, her words disregarding Linika's previous proposal.

Instead she side-tracked the issue, the rationale coming in the form of references to a classic strategy game. Linika braced her courage with a deep breath, "And which are you then, Your Grace?" she asked, trying to keep the sneer from her voice, and for the most part, succeeding. "The King, that is the most important piece, but the one that must be guarded? Or are you the Queen? the most powerful one, but also the one that only serves to guard the most important piece? And what IS that piece? What does the Viden queen then protect? What does she guard that IS so important?"

The Immortal showed no sign of having even heard her subject's attempt at provocation. Her continued analogy of how chess pieces equated to the players on the "board" now represented by the people here in this room was unsettling. She herself knew she was a pawn, but a willing one. This was the most important detail she still held in check against being revealed.

A parable of old, one borne of naerikk cultural values and philosophy ran through Linika's mind. It involved the necessity of weaving a knot of lies to a degree that it would always appear possible to unravel to keep an enemy engaged in that effort, where the only true means of unraveling it was with a sword stroke through the center of the knot.

It was becoming ever more evident that Yvithia was opting for this second approach. But there was a new element that brought genuine fear to the naer's mind. It was the ambiance within her own thoughts as the Immortal continued to engage her mind with her analogies. It was as if Yvithia's words actually created additional space in her mind; space that was being claimed by her at the same time it was generated. It "sounded" the way one hears the tone of the space around them as they walk down a hall with eyes closed, and then pass by an open door to a large room.

A shrill voice shrieked into the air, "She did not "place" me! I chose to be here!" and Linika was doubly disturbed to realize it was her own voice. She shrank back into the chair, trying in vain to keep distance between herself and the power seeping into her brain. "GET AWAY FROM ME!" she cried, tears spraying as she shook her face back and forth.

Then all it once, it was everywhere, all the newly opened spaces in her mind echoed with power from without, invading within, in a shattering voice that seared straight through her skull to crackle like static as her hair stood out from her skin, "You belong to me now. Your mind is mine. Your every thought, your every idea, your every concern, is mine."

At the same moment, a paralysis held her face in check as it felt as if the Immortal was flaying a strip of skin from her face, taking her right eye with it. The naer howled in anguish, not just a scream of pain, or fear, or even possible disfigurement, but of an abomination inflicted upon her very soul.

Her tears were like fire upon the strip of flesh across her eye, and her screams continued incoherently as she now pawed desperately at her eye, falling over backwards, in a manic attempt to somehow back away from the source of this violation. she may have circled the room for a moment, or for the entire trial. She did not know. There was only an unholy horror being made to turn her into everything she'd had a lifetime of indoctrination to despise; and the the need to be away from it, that poured through every facet of her body until she she lay, exhausted, panting like a hunted animal, and curled in the corner, now simply weeping pure tears of despair.

Any small reserve of strength was only employed in futile shrieks of hate and begging,"What have you DONE to me?...I can NEVER go home now!...Why this?...Why not kill me like an enemy you respect!...You said you admired my conviction!...You SAID it!...We may kill your followers in Augiery, but we would have never done THIS to them!...Take it away!...Take it off!...Kill me!...Kill me...you said it....you said it..."

All these, and similar words, were spread out over several bits, as she gasped between sobs, occasionally rising in a fury of useless energy, trying to tear away the mark on her face, screaming in an indecipherable frenzy, and only succeeding in adding blood to the tears streaking her face.

Darkness took all her thoughts, a darkness of self-loathing; a darkness of hopelessness, but also one of suicidal resolve. But it was to her great disadvantage that she now believed that Yvithia knew ALL her thoughts. For as soon as the thought took form, out of the morass of anguish, she launched immediately into it, thinking there was no gain in any further preparation or deception, and that it would only allow her enemies to perceive her intent.

With the Immortal in the same room, she grasped the feel of her shadow form and tried to change, not waiting to see if she succeeded before launching her clawed hands at the face of her enemy, shrieking in an all-consuming hate and death wish, hoping only to force them to kill her now, before she could be made to betray all that she loved. And if she could survive to hold to her own identity long enough, she would burst herself with her people's "gift", one so completely embodying her shadow essence that she must surely be killed by it.
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Yvithia enjoyed watching the woman before her crumble, both outwardly and mentally. She did so without any extreme signs of emotion - her face displayed indifference whilst her eyes sparkled with the distinct glimmer of joy and excitement. The Immortal of Intelligence was not foolish; she knew that there would be retribution from her nemesis. But this reaction, almost made it worth it. The general gains of the future made it even more so.

Pawns, Linika,” Yvithia murmured without a hint of inflection in her voice as she watched the girl crumble to the floor, “Are just that: pawns. They do not worry about who is the King, or who is the Queen. The Rooks, Knights, Bishops… all meaningless. All can destroy the pawns… regardless of their number. Pawns are nothing, and should not consider the roles of others.

For a moment, there was a plethora of contradictory emotions marring her features. The expression was foreign on a face which was normally so controlled, so neutral. Then, Yvithia’s expression quickly slid into a sinister glower. The Immortal easily stepped aside at the lunging of the naer - the girl’s thoughts were obvious in her mind, and Yvithia had no trouble reading her. She did not even blink at Linika’s sudden movements, she merely continued to stare at her through menacing eyes.

Guards!” Screamed the Máthisi as she surged forward to halt the enraged prisoner. Her move was poorly planned, and her body, which was weak from age anyway, suffered because of it. She moaned as the vicious woman’s claws collided with her face, drawing blood. The blue face was streaked with crimson by the time the agents surged into the room. “Get her on her knees,” Yvithia hissed. Her expression was indecipherable, but her eyes were smouldering in what was palpable, lethal, hatred and fury.

The agents were quick to obey their Immortal's request, and the two clutched the outcast tightly by her upper arms as one kneed her in the back of her legs, with the intention of getting her down to the ground quickly. Instinct told them not to be gentle; the woman would suffer no permanent harm, but there was no promise that they would be gentle with her as they tried to force her down onto her knees.

Take the Máthisi out of here. Now.” But Yvithia’s attention was fixed on Linika. Verity hurried forward to support the Máthisi and guide her back, out of the room, and Yvithia moved to stand in front of her newest Xyph. “Pawns… they are predictable. You are predictable.” She glared down a the woman, barely perturbed by her outburst and the potential threat to her life. She dropped to a crouch, so that her face was directly in front of the restrained prisoner. “Perhaps you are no longer a pawn, child. Perhaps you have reached the end of your destined path, perhaps you have been elevated at last.

For a long time, the Ice Queen’s analytical gaze was fixated on Linika, but she said nothing. Just silent, eerie observation. This could be the deciding move on the board - but which way would it swing? No matter; a Blessing was more than easy to morph into a Curse. “If you do anything like that ever again, you will pay for it dearly,” Yvithia seethed, her icy breath dancing across the naer’s face.

Yvithia pushed herself up to stand. Her gaze was the same calculating stare: cold and unwavering. “Do I need chains to hold you, Linika Amarinthine?
word count: 603
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The beaten naer slowly lifted her tear-reddened eyes; hatred vanished, to be replaced by resignation. "What chains...could you put me in...that would be worse than this." Clarification came with a last defiant gesture as she subtly pushed the marked right side of her face towards her enemy. "I commend you for a well-considered tactic. You come off as being kind to me, but we both know better. And can we please dispense with the game-piece analogies?"

She thought she might have heard the slightest of chuckles from her captors. She tried not to feel oddly good about it as she flopped her arms just a little, looking a question at her enemy, "May I be unhanded now?" Whether or not those holding her did let go, she gave Yvithia a look that was stripped of all hostility. Her voice as well, was now genuine, with no hint of posturing or belligerence. "So, I am beaten. And I am marked. What do you truly hope to gain? Access to the thoughts of someone who hates you? There will be no strategic data to be gleaned from me. I am an exile and have no contacts, or any hope really, of accomplishing anything."

She shrugged her eyebrows in a resigned sigh, "But I suppose you will want to confirm this, so I guess hitching a ride in my mind will serve to provide that. I said before that I only hoped to gain favor with my Queen when I sent that warning. And I still believe I will. The fact that it helped you?...well, we can't have everything, can we..."

Linika gave just a single soft snort of ironic laughter with her preceding comment. For a moment, she thought there was just a hint of amusement in the eyes of the Immortal as well. It had just the tiniest effect of bonding to it. "No, you need no chains. I will be a 'good girl' now." She let slip just a bit of a sneer with those words. "I suppose it will be back to the labor pits for me now. Well, at least I can take satisfaction that you do it from a 'prisoner-of-war' basis, and not just from hating me for being my mother's daughter."

Now she turned to look at any others still remaining, "It changes nothing, I know. And you should too. Those of you who hate me, will continue to, as will I. You may have put your brand on me, but I am still loyal to MY queen. Is this perhaps what you want to keep tabs on me for? Is my loyalty something you find remarkable? Does it supersede the level you enjoy from your own?"

She actually looked just a bit hesitant after that, knowing that she had just said she'd be a good girl, but had now thrown a poorly veiled insult at Yvithia's feet. She hung her head just slightly; only a gesture of course, but one she felt she'd be well advised to perform.

She looked back up, "Look, let's be honest. I'm not going to say I will be friendly to my captors, nor to their fellow citizens that will surely continue to vilify me. But I dare not plot anything with you inside my head. I may see something that begs to be exploited from time to time, but I will let it pass, and call it victory that I do not bring it to my enemies' attention. Fair enough?"

She shrugged again, "Otherwise, you may as well kill me. I had feared that sending that warning would bring me unwanted attention. But it was my duty, and so I did it. I still believe I will be honored by my own. If my sisters come for me, will you allow me to leave? Do you have enough respect for me as a worthy enemy to let me enjoy my rightful praise? Will you be able to admit you were wrong about The Mother abandoning her children?"

She sighed heavily, "I suppose I'm a fool to ask. You hold my future in your hand, and I am an admitted enemy. We, neither of us, have any purpose in this charade! You can not make me be loyal to you, and I have no reason to think you'll simply let me go. I will be a marked woman, that can never leave. I can not simply hope to enter Augiery so marked, with no endorsement or advocacy from anyone, or any advance word of my arrival. And wherever else I go, I will either be hated as a naer, or as your minion."

She suddenly made a face. "No, that's ridiculous, mark or not, none will ever believe one of my race could be bonded to you! I will keep it hidden by cosmetics, and any who DO see it will think I PUT it there with cosmetics. I have nothing to offer anyone. I have no purpose to anyone as long as I am marked with this..."

It was strange, the hesitance to sneer the word 'thing' at the end of her last comment. She told herself it was only to avoid stirring up any more animosity. She would never let herself believe she was feeling any respect for her enemy. "Well, I can only hope my queen can remove it." She turned a surprisingly contrite expression to the Immortal, "No offense." she smiled.
word count: 930
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"Shelf Life'...What an ironically contradictory concept."
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No,” she agreed with Linika’s words, her tone light, yet also considering, “…I do not.” The naer girl had the potential to be a threat, but now, there was no tangible way in which Linika could create or follow some convoluted plan to bring about Viden’s, or Yvithia’s, demise. Not with the pale blue Blessing now so beautifully resting over her eye. “Since your arrival into this city arcs ago, you have been watched, and make no mistake, Linika, you will continue to be watched.

The girl’s mood, so evident on her face as it was through the surface emotions and thoughts of Linika’s mind, was fluctuating rapidly. Even one so cerebrally gifted as the Immortal of Intelligence and Communication struggled to keep up, and she momentarily found herself doubting what the girl was truly feeling. But she continued nonetheless, one final push, planting another seed in the girl’s prepared mind. She reached out her hand. Slowly, her fingers traced in the same position they had been moments earlier.

And you are right, my child.” Yvithia whispered, leaving her fingers under Linika’s chin, grazing the sensitive skin there. The two guards still held her down, but their grip slackened slightly to allow their leader to manipulate the girl's head, straining her neck to look up. She looked at Linika intently, like a specimen she might one day dissect and take apart, piece by piece, until she learned all its very intricate detail, inside and out. “I told you that your uncompromising loyalty to Audrae was something to be respected. I admire that in you.

Yvithia smiled. If the naer had full use of her faculties, she might realise how void of warmth it was. Yvithia’s expression was no longer hostile, nor deadly, but it hardly offered comfort for the wretched mortal girl before her. “But soon you will realise that Audrae had abandoned you. She does not deserve your unconditional love and devotion.” The Immortal removed her touch from her newest Xyph’s face. “When you realise that, child… come to me.” The murmured words were barely veiled promises of rewards, should Linika ever realise the truth of which she spoke. “When you realise just how unique you are… just how extraordinary you are… you will come to me.

A child born of shadow, to live and breathe deception and lies. Surely, of all people, none can appreciate the exceptional circumstance in which you find yourself this trial. How unique to be the only daughter of the Naerikk race to be blessed with Xypha.” Her expression was now one of warmth, and something akin to approval shone in her eyes. “And, as you say, they would assume your physical representation to be false… for how could a filthy naer ever gain the favour of Yvithia? A truth that no one could ever believe. The greatest spy any Immortal could have.

One day, the Immortal knew, Linika Amarinthine would be offering her far more than enforced, minimal loyalty. And she would happily wait for that day to arrive. The seed had been planted and she could not force the issue further; Linika would have to come to this same conclusion herself now. She slipped through the bars the divided the captive from the captor, though left the cell-section door open, a clear indication that Linika was not being kept indefinitely in these cells. “I have no use for a Xyph to be locked in a cell below the city. You are free to go.” The Immortal said, though she spoke more for the benefit of the agent still standing dutifully by.

She continued walking, but as she reached the corridor, Linika spoke again. Yvithia paused in the entryway to the cell. “Your Queen is not a forgiving one. She is more likely to dispatch you as a traitor before giving you a chance to plead and elucidate the events of today.” She did not turn around at the mortal’s final words, so Linika would never see the final upward curling of her lips. “You chose to make a life here, Linika, and I am providing you my patronage, as Audrae has relinquished her claim over you.

Consider this my mercy.
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Linika Amarinthine


Awarded Points

Story: 5/5
Collaboration: 5/5
Structure: 5/5
These points can/cannot be spent in magic


Awarded Knowledge

Audrae: Abandoned Me?
Audrae: Doesn’t Deserve Me?
Audrae: Immortal of Deception and Shadows
Audrae: Won’t Accept Me Back?
Blessing: Xypha
Eídisi: Created by Yvithia
Endurance: Surviving Sensory Isolation
Máthisi: Eneli Vielus
Organisation: The Intelligence Authority
Verity Talius: Delegate
Verity Talius: Virikai’s Father
Viden: Watching Me
Yvithia: Admires Me?
Yvithia: Can Control Me?
Yvithia: Immortal of Intelligence and Communication
Yvithia: Providing Patronage?


Awarded Extras

Loot & Losses Injuries
Blessing of Xypha! None
Fame Devotion
Gain Yvithia's Blessing: +10 Yvithia: +10
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Comments

This was such an amazing thread! Thank you once again for honouring me with your attention, and thank you for being so... flexible! I had so much fun and I really hope you did too - really tried to push the boat out this time, compared to my last attempt!
I can't wait to see what you do with this Blessing! You are gonna do great! Viden (and I) will be watching you!!!

Also you now have access to the first abilities of Xypha!


If you have any questions, comments or criticism about your review, feel free to send me a PM and we can discuss it.
Thank ye.
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