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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

The Blood Moon Rises...


hazelkrs1

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On a dark night in the Black Tower, while most of the citizens and Ashaman slept, some still were awake and stirring. Inside an elegant wing of the Tower which Despothera had taken as his quarters, the young Ashaman sat perusing several books, studying and researching for his next blog. His research assistant, Ithillian, was nearby, pulling random books from various shelves of the well-stocked library, deft hands finding quotes and references for the enterprising writer to use. Dim candlelight lit the room that was filled with many leather bound tomes and odd little collections of notes and sketches which were strewn across several tables. A pot of tea sat an another cluttered desk, still steaming as they both drank from two mugs, discussing various theories and concepts.

 

Despothera then raised his hand to his mouth as he yawned, leaning back from the book he had just been reading. He was of course, a creature of the night, but even he got a little tired after reading by dim candlelight for hours. He was lucky the Black Tower had no problems allowing one such as he to enter it's ranks. Every man who could channel would be needed for the Last Battle, the Lord Dragon had said. Even ones who might not just be mere men. He was felt immensely lucky to have the Aes Sedai who helped him with his blog, he used to be so much more frantic and disorganized with his writing before and he knew Ithillian Sedai could be off doing many more productive things with her time instead of helping an Ashaman like she did. It still surprised him that she did not seem to share the same view towards him and his comrades that her other Sisters seemed to have.

 

He drank a draught of his tea and set it down, and began to yawn again.

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Ithi enjoyed spending time in the peaceful permanent twilight of Despothera's Chambers. She had first come across him here, not long after arriving, after hearing the young Asha'man cursing at a book rather loudly. She remembered fondly her surprise upon entering the room and seeing the sheer look of exasperation on his face. It had been perfectly natural to offer to help, and she had learned so much since then.

 

About his work of course, and also about his nature. An unspoken agreement lay between them however, and she was comfortable in his presence. Although there were times when she was sure she almost felt him trying to see what was in her mind. But, discussing theories and helping in his research was enough. She was content. He was starting to look a little tired though, and when he began to yawn she realised that it must be very late indeed - but she had just become enthralled by the latest trail of evidence she had found. She quickly put the book she had found down and took a quick sip of her tea. If she slept now, she could lose her train of thought - a short break would probably suffice. She turned to Despothera and smiled

 

I think my eyes could do with a rest maybe? I'm just going outside for a little while to get a bit of fresh air. I won't be long.

 

She reached for her shawl and wrapped it around her. The night sky was clouded tonight and that meant it would not be too cool, her shawl would more than suffice to keep the cold out.

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After Despothera heard Ithillian walk outside, he rose to the window, rubbing his eyes. Suddenly, he felt something inside him, a feeling that had been dormant for quite a long time. As sharp pangs of panic roiled deep within his gut, he quickly glanced upwards at the cloudy sky outside. His eyes immediately found the spot in the sky where the moon would be; he had a connection to the night orb that could not be denied. As the clouds suddenly broke, a feeling of dread instantly came upon him

 

thebloodmoon.jpg

 

He stared up at the Blood Moon in anquish, and felt the transformation coming upon him. Normally he was able to control his transformations, but tonight would be a different story. That's when he heard the door open and close again, signaling that Ithillian was coming back from her short jaunt. He cursed loudly and shouted out to her though she couldn't see him yet.

 

Ithillian! Do NOT enter, please for the love of mercy! Run! Run as fast as you can!!!

 

The last words came out in an inhuman snarl that had a deep beastial timbre to it. As the madness of his primal self came upon him, he could only hope that she would heed his words and seek shelter immediately

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Ithillian stood outside and looked up at the night sky. She felt the cool air on her face and immediately felt refreshed. No moon tonight though, the clouds were too dense. A pity, as she had always felt a deep connection to the Moon.

 

The wind began to pick up, playing at the fringes of her shawl and her hair and chasing the clouds across the sky. How peculiar - they almost seemed to glow red, but that couldn't be right, she must be more tired than she had thought. She should probably go to her room after all and get some sleep.

 

She looked up one last time, before entering the building again and stood transfixed. The moon had appeared from behind the clouds. It was red and it was beautiful. Despothera would be fascinated by its appearance she was sure. She hurried back in to tell him all about it - full of excitement and tiredness all but forgotten.

 

She approached the room where they had been working, almost skipping with anticipation - but then remembered her sense of decorum. She calmed herself and opened the door. Despothera was probably still in the alcove on the far side.

 

"Ithillian! Do NOT enter, please for the love of mercy! Run! Run as fast as you can!!!"

 

What? What's happening? Are you ok?

 

Was he under some kind of attack maybe? She heard noises that sounded like some kind of struggle was ensuing. Well, she had no intention of leaving him to face whatever it was all by himself. Her duty as an Aes Sedai compelled her to go to his aid, and even had that not been the case - he was her friend. She would not abandon him. She embraced the Source and moved towards where they had been seated.

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As the brutal metamorphosis sent painful tremors through Despothera's body, he knew from the sound of Ithillian's voice getting closer that she would not flee him in time. He tried cowering under the desk, vainly hoping that he would somehow be able to stop her from seeing him like this. The transformation was near complete, and he felt the last vestiges of his rational human mind fleeing him as the primal beast took over. His last thought was of the emergency weapon that could be used against him in the study, the one his assistant and friend was now walking past. But how would he be able to reach it in time....

 

 

 

 

 

A growl he heard, yet knew it not to be audible to any but himself. This growl had come from inside his own fractured psyche, from some part which was now bursting to the surface to once again wreak havoc on it's surroundings.

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Ithillian held onto the source, feeling the sense of euphoria that came with its presence. There was something very wrong here. It was quiet now, so quiet that she could hear her heart beating, her breath sounding as she got closer to where Despothera should be. The candles had gone out, she tripped on something and reached down to feel what it was - the candlestick? What had happened here? She could make a light - but that may just draw the assailants to her, and Despothera was somewhere nearby needing her help. She could deal with them once she had found him.

 

She reached out with her hands and senses and continued to move almost soundlessly towards the desk near the window. The subdued and crimson moonlight did little to help and the shadows it cast made the once familiar room seem cold and ominous.

 

Her fingers brushed against something solid - the desk.

 

Despothera? Are you here? she whispered into the darkness.

 

She heard a scrape from behind the desk, and then a shuffle - a second body breathing in the shadows. Was it him?

 

Despothera?

 

She slowly knelt, and continued to move towards the sound, cautiously feeling her way until she again touched ... something?

 

 

An unearthly growl reverberated from whatever it was. Terrifying and inhuman. She scrambled back hurriedly until she bumped up against the wall. Light was needed now.

 

She channelled a blinding bright point of light that would enable her to see exactly what she was dealing with, as well as hopefully stunning it for a moment while she decided on her next move.

 

Looming above her was some kind of animal. It growled again and flinched slightly as if the light burned somehow. In that one moment, almost frozen in time, she saw its claws reaching out, like obsidian knives that would cut and maim, with ease, graceful and deadly like a wolf, with dense fur that seemed to absorb and then glow with the same blood red light the distant moon provided. There was no sense of life ... Its face ... Long canine fangs and crimson eyes gazed hungrily towards where she was hiding. It could see her, even past the light, even in the deep dark shadows, it knew where she was.

 

She became aware of a presence reaching towards her, listening to her heart beat, feeling her blood pulsing around her body. She began to move towards it and lost concentration.

 

The Source fled ... And the loss of light and sudden cold from its departure brought her to her senses. This thing had harmed Despothera probably, she needed to get it away from him. She scrambled to her feet and turned and fled

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Watching the small fragile looking female run away, the beast which had been Despothera moments before let it's muscles seize up and store massive amounts of kinetic energy, waiting to be released in a violent surge. There was one thing the creature lived for, and that was the Hunt. It sprang forward, fangs glistening in the crimson moonlight that was now cast in the hallway through the window. It was preternaturally quick, and in two bounds off the floor then off the wall it had once again captured it's prey within it's sight. It saw her running for the door to the outside, and it's eyes bulged outward in anticipation of the meal it would soon be ravishing upon. With terrifyingly unnatural speed, it suddenly appeared in front of the door, blocking Ithillian's path to escape.

 

She cringed for a second at the sight of it so close to her, then skidded backwards into the nearest room, which happened to be the study. The beast once again lowered back on it's haunches, letting it's nostrils fill with the exquisite scent of the Aes Sedai's fear. It had no heartbeat, yet a torrent of rage and powerful energy surged inside it nonetheless as it launched into the air again, pursuing Ithillian into the room. It didn't spot her immediately, but it had her scent and it could feel the air stirring from her body shaking, wherever it was.

 

Howling-ld_shot9l.jpg

 

It craned it's neck backwards and let out another otherworldly roar, and it sounded like the sound of multiple freight trains entering a tunnel all at once. There was only the tiniest of squeaks from a corner of the room, and it sensed it's prey's heartbeat climbing to a frantic pace. With a quick snarling growl, it leapt towards that corner of the room and immediately began overturning bookcases and desks, swiping large grooves into the wall with it's massive deadly claws. It didn't want to pick it's meal out of a shell like a bird might take a snail, it would rather feel her weight buckle under it's own in mid sprint, so that it could feed on her adrenaline and fear as it ravaged it's meal. It saw her scrambling out of the way of his malevolent thrashing, her chest heaving as she sobbed and tried to seek respite from his massive reach. As she continued to scurry away, the beast knocked over a chest that had stood on an ornate pedestal, dashing it's contents to the floor.

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Ithillian ran.

 

She tried to reach the source again, but that presence was always there in her mind, one step ahead, pressing down and blocking her from it.

 

Then it was there, directly in front of her. She reacted instinctively, quickly backing into the doorway behind her - she looked around, only half aware of her surroundings. She was in Despothera's study. A mistake - there was no other exit than the door she had just come through.

 

She still couldn't reach the source. Almost sobbing now, she half crawled to a corner of the room and curled up into a ball, hugging her knees. She knew she would likely not survive this.

 

The creature entered the room. She could hear it slowly coming towards her. She held her breath and closed her eyes, desperately trying to clear a part of her mind that she might at least attempt a defence. It roared again and she let out an involuntary gasp, it was all it needed.

 

Suddenly it seemed to be everywhere at once, tearing up the shelves and other furniture. Ithillian saw a stack of Despothera's papers thrown in the air and shredded. And then the chest that he kept locked and always seemed to avoid was sent hurtling into a wall, smashed to pieces. Why didn't it just get on with it? It was almost like it was enjoying terrifying her. This decided her, she wasn't going to just give in and surrender without a fight, she looked around for something she could use as a weapon.

 

Over there! Near the remains of the chest was something that looked like an ornate silver stake. That would have to do. She scrambled across the floor and took it.

 

The presence in her mind ceased.

 

She stood and held the stake out in front of her. Now the beast was focused on it instead of her. She edged around the room - keeping the stake visible and always between them, feeling for the exit with her other hand. It seemed to take an age. At last she reached the exit - never once taking her eyes from her assailant. The balance had shifted it seemed, but once she made her move she would need to be fast.

 

Now!

 

She broke eye contact and ran into the hall, quickly preparing a weave of air and water as she went. She heard its enraged roar as it was released from its seeming stasis and stopped to turn and face it.

 

As it once again raced towards her, she cast the weave towards it - creating an iron hard net of ice that surrounded it. That would hopefully hold it whilst she examined the stake a little more closely.

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The beast's rage had subsided for a moment when it saw the object the Aes Sedai was now holding, using it to fend the beast off. Something inside of it did not like the object, and it could not reason out why. It snarled as she backed away, trying to figure out how it could flank her and remove the object from her hands. She started to break off and run again, and it's first instinct was to give chase immediately and launch itself into her.

 

Right as it was gathering itself for a pounce however, it felt the hair on it's skin begin to raise as it's skin tingled. Something deep inside it told it she was now using a new weapon, and that it must do something quick to counter it. It seized something both foreign and familiar deep within itself, and the chaotic swirlings of the raging torrent of Saidin filled it, seeming to match the ravenous hunger the beast felt. The abomination already had insanely quick reflexes, but it's hold on Saidin only heightened it's senses and awareness. It felt... something... being cast it's way and on reflex formed weaves of spirit which it used to lash out at whatever was coming towards it. It felt it's own tendrils of the One Power cutting through something, and saw the shock on the Aes Sedai's face as she staggered backwards momentarily.

 

The transformed monster once again crouched down in a flash and leapt towards it's victim, it's claws reaching outwards to take Ithillian into a deadly embrace

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Ithillian felt the backlash as her weaves were cut. That simply wasn't possible, not from a ... a ... whatever it was. It couldn't have been responsible for that unless it could Channel? It was crouching now and moving towards her once more. She stepped back, her heel catching against the start of the stair case. As she looked down on reflex, the beast leapt towards her once more. She slammed up a Wall of Air between them and ran once more, this time up the stairs - cursing at her skirts as they threatened to trip her.

 

She held the Wall tightly as she ran, thoughts coming into her mind. Despothera had vanished. She knew something of what he was but this? This was not how he had explained it. But this creature had been in his room and he was not, and now it had Channelled. She felt the stake in her hand but with what she now suspected, would she be able to use it?

 

She was almost at the top now, once there she would be able to shout for help and someone would hopefully hear her. Just a few more now.

 

The stairs ahead of her exploded. Instinctively she closed her eyes and held up her free hand in front of her, to protect herself from the thousands of charred splinters the blast had caused. The force of the explosion pushed her backwards, causing her to fall and lose the Source once more.

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As the beast lunged towards Ithillian, it suddenly slammed into an invisible wall of some sort. It howled and bayed in frustration, then watched as the Aes Sedai fled away on the staircase. Still holding onto the One Power, the monstrous amalgamation channeled Fire and Air together, sending the weave towards the stairs directly in front of his prey. The stairs burst outwards in a great conflagration, sending debris up in a fountain of carnage that showered onto Ithillian. The blast sent her backwards, to fall down on the landing she had just passed. She hadn't been knocked unconscious, but the beast could tell that she was injured from the blast and seemed very disoriented.

 

Once again acting on instinct, he used a powerful wedge of Spirit to cut her off from the Source, and saw her eyes open wide in shock once again. Leaping onto the balustrade, it considered it's prey once again. True, it would have preferred to engorge upon her while she was in mid flight, attempting to run away, but as it felt the waves of fear and other desperate emotions coming off in waves from her it felt it would still enjoy it's meal. The railing creaked loudly as he leapt off of it to land on the landing directly in front of her. It snarled once again, this time more menacingly yet almost playfully at the same time. As it leaned in closer to feast upon his delectable meal, it was caught off guard as Ithillian suddenly shot her arm forward, stake in hand, aiming directly for it's heart.

 

Unfortunately, the surprise was not enough to defeat it's inhuman reflexes, and the beast twisted to the side so that the stake instead only pierced it in it's shoulder. It still cause it immense pain, and it roared once again, this time loud enough to shake all nearby fixtures. As it fixed it's terrible gaze back upon the Aes Sedai, it noticed a strange expression on her face that seemed to imply regret.

 

Enraged once more, the beast did not hesitate this time, and seized Ithillian in massive arms, and lunged forward with it's powerful jaw and clamped down on her neck. It fed greedily, sucking on the life force of Ithillian as it drank her blood and crunched bone and sinew and tissue altogether. As the lifeforce was sapped from Ithillian, it filled the beast that had been Despothera and filled it with a tremendous surge of energy. It also had the effect of satisfying it's bloodlust, and soon the rage subsided as a different emotion began to take hold.

 

The human side of Despothera was once more taking over, fueled by the anguish it felt from being forced to witness it's friend being attacked by it's darker side and being unable to stop it. The beast release the Aes Sedai from it's awful grip and stood back, the transformation beginning to revert itself through it's body. As it looked back down upon the dying body of Ithillian, it craned it's neck backwards and howled once again, this time howling out of lament for what it had done. The howl slowly dropped in pitch and started to become the tragic wail of Despothera as the beast fled back to the inner recesses of his mind. He looked back down at Ithillian with deep remorse and used his unnatural powers to feel for her lifeforce.

 

She was still alive.

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Ithillian lay among the wreckage. She was confused and hurt. A thin trickle of blood ran down her face and she reached and touched her head to try where it was coming from. She was tired and needed to rest, someone would come soon no doubt. The shock of being unable to sense the Source brought her to her senses and the fear followed soon after.

 

The creature was there, in front of her, coming towards her now. Could she even think of it as just a creature anymore. She knew now that this was Despothera, her friend and he was still in there somewhere, witnessing all of this. She opened her mind to him, desperately hoping that he would recognise her and be able to stop in time. Her hand still held the stake, but how could she use it. Surely he would stop. She knew he would stop.

 

He didn't. As he leant in to make the final kill she brought the stake round in a sweeping arc, aiming directly for where his heart should be. She was not afraid now, only sad that she should have to be the one to do this. She was almost grateful when his agile reflexes caused him to avoid the strike and half smiled, as his jaws closed about her throat.

 

Strangely enough there was no pain. Just darkness and the sound of her heart beating, beating and now slowing. She was released and saw him then, standing over her, Despothera the man once more. Her last conscious thought , as she closed her eyes, was that she hoped he would not remember what he had done.

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Despothera once again stood as a man, looking down at what had been wrought with great sadness.

 

How could this have happened? Why has this tragedy chosen to befall upon my dear friend Ithillian?! I have to do something, I couldn't live with myself knowing I killed one of my own friends, when all she's ever done is help me in my times of need.

 

He wasn't skilled at Healing, but he frantically prepared the weave as he had learned and set it upon Ithillian. When he saw no result, he began to grow more frantic. Her injuries were too severe for Healing, and she was too weak to attempt to convert her to a member of the undead like him, and he doubted she would even choose that life anyways. With one final desperate thought, he thought of one thing that might be able to save her.

 

He gathered the different elements of the One Power he would need, and began to craft the intricate weave that might help to undo the horrible atrocity he had committed while transformed into his primal self.

 

Finishing the last touches, he let the bonding weave settle upon the broken body of the Aes Sedai...

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Ithillian could hear something pounding. It seemed to be inside her head. Irregular at first and then stronger and more rhythmic. She felt the warmth returning to her hands and face. She felt the tiredness dissipate and she felt ... something else.

 

She opened her eyes. Despothera was kneeling beside her. Now she felt thoughts of remorse and anxiety. Why would she be sorry? This didn't make any sense.

 

She stiffened as she felt a Healing Weave settle on her, its icy coldness returning strength and awareness. She laughed inside - he must have been practising, that one wasn't half bad. The sense of anxiety ceased, and seemed to mirror her feelings of amusement now, and Despothera was smiling. Oh no no no no. He wouldn't have surely?

 

She sat bolt upright and looked him right in the eye. Now there was a feeling of relief and apprehension perhaps. She studied him for perhaps half a second more maybe, before slapping him soundly across his face.

 

YOU BLOODY BONDED ME?!

 

The sudden stinging sensation on her own cheek was confirmation enough. She held her hand to her face and waited for the no doubt extremely eloquent explanation that would come.

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Ithi! You're alright!

 

Despothera ignored the sting of the slap she had given him. If that was the worst that came out of this after he almost killed her, he'd gladly take the abuse.

 

Look, I'm sorry, I know it's against your organization's precepts to bond someone without their consent, but I didn't know what else to do. You were dying, and... when I first tried Healing it didn't work. Please forgive me, I couldn't help myself. Normally, I am able to control my transformations, and can control all my actions even when I am turned into one of my other incarnations. During the rare event of a Blood Moon however, I am transformed into the most primal version of myself, and become a monster that I am unable to control. I should have told you, but it had been so long since the last Blood Moon I guess I had hoped that part of me was dormant forever...

 

On the plus side, we already were close friends, and you know this might not be the worst thing...

 

:biggrin:

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"Ithi! You're alright!"

 

She heard the words, but all she felt was absolute relief. Despothera continued with his explanation and she nodded and half listened, but it wasn't really necessary. Now she could feel that he was telling the truth, and that he was so very sorry and that a part of him would never forgive himself if she didn't handle this change in her circumstances exactly the right way.

 

"On the plus side, we already were close friends, and you know this might not be the worst thing..."

 

He stopped talking and looked at her. He was smiling, but she could see the questioning in his eyes and feel that he hoped so much that she would accept this Bond between them. She smiled and sent positive reassurance through the Bond to him. Now they both knew that everything was going to be more than fine.

 

She made to stand, and when he moved to assist her, she took his hand and allowed him to help her stand. There would be some more explaining to do no doubt, but for now she needed to say one last thing. Still holding his hand she looked him clearly in the eyes and spoke.

 

There are just a couple of things I need to have you understand if this is going to work out.

 

Number one: if you ever try to use compulsion on me, you had better have a really really good reason.

 

And

 

Number Two: Don't ever think I'm ever going to call you Master. Not never.

 

:biggrin:

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