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Everything posted by Elessar

  1. .. Pawns in a Game of Power .. ►▼◄ The room flickered in the strange way things often did in the World of Dreams, a reflection of the real world, caught between moments. Raphael was used to this after his long experience with Tel'aran'rhiod and its ‘laws’ but it still caught his eye at times like remnants of a shadow. Raphael stared admiringly at Arissa as Vanahl droned on. Her lavender dress was unique, he knew that much, and it set off her hair and eyes beautifully. Casting a glance at Divara he grinned. The woman was giving Arissa baleful glances, as usual. That would never change, thought the Chosen as he studied the woman. She had always been fashion-conscious and never liked anyone out-dressing her. She had always been a terrible gossip, so Serahna had told him on one occasion, and apparently that had not changed since awakening in this new Age and time. She had based herself in the pathetically named White Tower and was attempting to influence events among the Aes Sedai. Raphael always thought with scorn when he thought of these women who now called themselves Aes Sedai. So weak in the One Power, and weaker in character, they were not worthy of the name! He had come to hate the Aes Sedai back in what they now called the Age of Legends, due to the betrayal he had felt, but at least they had been men and women of power and ability, worthy adversaries. Something Vanahl just said grabbed his attention. ● "Someone has been interfering with the boy Dragon ahead of schedule”, the Nae'blis said. “Under EXPLICIT orders not to. He has been visited by an unauthorized Myrddraal, two Gray Men, and a Draghkar. Pass orders to your Friends of the Dark near him that any Shadowspawn within one country of his vicinity must be reported to me immediately.” Raphael could hear the anger in Vanahl’s voice and he laughed inside. So someone had acted against the will of the Nae'blis! A daring move indeed, perhaps unwise.. but exciting even so! Raphael enjoyed watching Vanahl’s fury, though nothing showed on his face. He knew how unwise it was to provoke the man unnecessarily and so he watched and listened as the other spoke on, inwardly chuckling with glee. “Each of you will meet with me privately to tell me your plans and your knowledge of every one else's plans. I WILL find who has disobeyed." Vanahl's eyes blazed hotter as he looked at each one of them in turn.” ● Raphael felt a sliver of fear when those blazing eyes met his but he controlled his emotion and afterwards convinced himself it had not been fear, just natural weariness. Inside he felt scorn for this man who thought he was so much better than the rest of them. Yes, he had been given the honour of being chosen Nae'blis, first among them - an honour Raphael felt he should have been given! - but even so Raphael thought Vanahl did not show them - and especially him - the right amount of respect. Your arrogance, Vanahl, will one day be the death of you, he thought maliciously and with glee as their leader’s eyes moved to the next in line. Looking at other faces around the table, he wondered who it was among them that had attempted to influence events with the young poor replacement for Dar Keran. He guessed several had been tempted - except Issandra, who he felt pretty sure would not be brave enough to even consider such disobedience, and a handful of the others who were loyal to the Nae'blis. He, Raphael, had considered it of course, but in the end he had found it too risky. The Dragon Reborn - Raphael felt spite whenever he thought of the name this young so-called reincarnation had been given - would have to be dealt with in due course, in some way or another, but this was not the time. So who had gone against Vanahl’s orders? He did not think Arissa had done so. She was more than capable, of course, if she decided the risk was worth it, but he did not think she was the one. Could it be Kharin? She had hated Dar Keran from the first day she had met him and he expected that she hated his young replacement as well. He sometimes wondered if there was anyone she did not hate. It was rumoured that she got on well, shall we say, with a certain Merindhra, a voluptuous maid from Arad Doman, so perhaps she was not filled with hate all the time. She had been close to defy Vanahl on several occasions, speaking up against his plans with a gusto that several of the others gawked at and some secretly admired, making Vanahl’s features contort in rage. Perhaps this time she had acted on the threat to act against him. He would have to find out. Perhaps it was time for his current alliance with Vinadel to be broadened. ● “I am sure it is all a big misunderstanding, Vanahl.” Raphael said when the Nae'blis had finished staring at everyone, echoes of his command reverberating in the chamber. “We all know better than to disobey Your commands.” There was a hint of sarcasm in his words and his blue eyes glinted dangerously but his face was smooth as stared back at the other man. It was not a challenge per se - though sometimes his temper got the better of him, Raphael was far from stupid and would never challenge the Nae'blis unless he felt he had the advantage - but a small reminder that Vanahl should step carefully and not overplay his hand. A couple of the others smiled thinly at Raphael’s words, baiting the Nae’blis. Serahna looked amused. Kharin’s upper lip curled in disdain. Arissa just stared at him but he thought he detected a hint of a smile on her red lips. Vanahl, however, gave him a hard stare, knowing exactly what game Raphael was playing. Another sly attempt to undermine my authority. I will destroy you one day, Raphael and wipe that smirk off your face. He kept silent though, biting his tongue. That was for another day. For now it was imperative to find out who had disobeyed his orders and almost messed up his carefully laid plans for the young boy. When he found out who it was, that person would wish he or she had never been born! As for telling Vanahl his plans, Raphael had no intention of doing so. He was no fool, after all. His plans were secret and would remain so. Their success depended on secrecy. Instead he would give the Nae'blis a loose version of the truth, a vague summary of his current activities, to make the man happy. Divulging other Chosen plans was also out of the question. Not that he knew that much about the others’ activities to begin with, though he had heard some rumours and speculated on a few other things, but alliances were built on trust and secrets were not divulged. Some of the others were so loyal to Vanahl that they might speak of secrets, but most of the Chosen had their own agendas and plots to influence the world and focused on those plans and strategies whatever Vanahl demanded. Raphael guessed it would never be discovered who had ‘interfered’ with the boy Dragon. And if by some chance the guilty party was discovered.. then Raphael felt pretty certain that Vanahl would punish him or her very harshly indeed. Oh yes. The gateway snapped closed behind him, leaving the World of Dreams behind, as Raphael stepped into his own private chamber and walked slowly across to his work desk, filled with papers, maps and scrolls, and sat down. It was time to put more of his plans into motion. ● The Banners of Illian, Twelve Golden Bees on a Field of Green, situated atop the Palace called the Great Hall of the Council, rippled on the soft winds that came in off the Sea of Storms. Standing beside a large window in one of the top council rooms, Lord Serafehl, wearing a dark coat with golden fringes, ones that mirrored those in his boots in the Illian style, looked across the Square of Tammaz to the almost identical huge Ogier-built white Palace situated there, the King’s Palace, and grinned darkly. These two famous Palaces in Illian bore witness to the struggles between the two political powers in this nation: the King and the Council of Twelve. Your Palace may indeed be two feet larger in every measurement, as the stories go, Lord Serafehl thought to himself somewhat smugly, but here is where the true power of Illian resides. There had been a power-struggle in Illian for what seemed forever. The system of having the Sovereign being “advised” by a council of lords - The Council of Twelve - was bad enough for the King of Illian. But in addition to that there was still another “advisory” body known as the Assemblage chosen by and from Illian’s merchants and shop owners. Both of these groups contended with the King for power, with the result that the nation lacked apt leadership. Or so many thought. And that, Lord Serafehl mused, is what I am going to give them. Leadership. But from behind the scenes, of course.. That was always the best way, a whisper in the right ear here, a whisper in the right ear there, gaining influence among those with power, but without drawing undue attention, and slowly but surely the master-puppeteer holds the strings of a nation. And then when the time is right.. to strike - and to strike hard! ● It had taken Raphael a while in the guise of Lord Serafehl to manoeuvre into the position he held now, a member of the Council of Twelve of Illian. In the first months after making the city his new home he had set himself up as an advisor to Lord Tiriahm, a rather arrogant but not too shrewd lord from the eastern provinces, helping him solve certain “difficulties” as the Lord had called them. I removed those obstacles for you, Tiriahm. Not in the way you expected, perhaps, but even so. After that, it was easy to prevail upon a somewhat uneasy but at the same time very political-minded Tiriahm to speak his case when the council suddenly were in need of a new member after the untimely loss of Lord Nemihl, who abruptly died in his sleep one night. People whispered about assassination and murder, but no one in government found any proof of that and so it was deemed that his heart had simply lost its will to beat. And so it did, after I crushed his chest with some delicate weaves, Raphael thought with great amusement and relish as he now stared out at the Square of Tammaz. The meeting with the others had taken place the day before and Raphael had since then received messages from two of the other Chosen. Serahna wished to speak on an important matter, she said. Raphael was curious what Serahna had in mind. She was not one with whom he had much contact, but her invitation made him curious. Perhaps she was someone he should consider an alliance with. The other message was from Vinadel. He had put that aside for the moment. Stepping back from the window, he walked across his ornate chamber and seated himself in a high-backed chair. On the walls were paintings that depicted battles in Illian’s history. They pleased him, reminding him of his own battles and triumphs of command. They did also make him think of paintings of a very different kind that had decorated his chamber back before the Breaking.. in his own time. A different world. A different time. ● Brushing thoughts of the past away, though echoes lingered in the back of his mind, he considered instead what he had accomplished since his arrival in Illian. He smiled gleefully as he reminisced. For Lord Serafehl had adapted to a Councillor’s life and political work with incredible ease, something that as time passed by made most of the other Councillors reassured that the right man had been chosen for this highly prestigious position. Even though he had come so recently to the city and they knew so little about him, he radiated confidence and showed great ability with his advice and prudent motions - qualities they knew to appreciate. Though he had somewhat of a brisk manner about him at times, and his temper sometimes got the better of him, they took it as efficiency and the sign of a man born to make decisions, born to rule. With them, of course. And the King. Of course. That was the way of Illian. That was the way it had always been. That was the way it would always be. All is going according to plan Raphael thought with satisfaction. Seeds of Darkness have been sown in Illian, the Shadow spreads ever so slowly across the land, breeding instability and chaos. The Great Lord will be pleased. Much remained of his very elaborate plans, but things were proceeding quite well. ● Leaving the chamber, he walked briskly down a huge marble staircase to the floor below. He met two servants at the bottom of the stairs who bowed deeply to him as he passed but he hardly saw them, new plans forming in his mind. He rounded a corner and suddenly came face to face with Lord Ardhen, one of the few Councillors who did not think as highly of this Lord Serafehl as many of the others seemed to do. “Lord Serafehl”, he said drily. A slight bow of the head as to an equal. “Lord Ardhen”, Raphael replied in the same manner, giving the same slight bow. “Your proposal to move a good part of our armed forces into our border-region in the north was rather .. rash”, Ardhen said carefully. He was going to say foolish, but decided to be a little more tactful. “We ought to have considered the matter further before the motion was passed.” “You think so, Lord Ardhen ?” Raphael replied with a slight edge to his voice, not liking the man. “Is it not prudent to guard our northern borders when we hear tales of troubles and unrest ? The north has been neglected for too long, I believe, and it was time to do something about it.” Raphael said smoothly. “Troubles and unrest .. , my Lord Serafehl.” Lord Ardhen said. “That is just rumours .... just rumours ... and we need to be alert should those fools in Tear suddenly decide to war upon us again. You never know with them.” ● Lord Ardhen held the neighbouring nation of Tear in as low esteem as most Illianers, and should Illian ever be thrown into a war it would be with Tear, he felt certain of that. “My Lord Ardhen”, Raphael said patiently in reply, “Tear is no threat to us.” He could see from the other man’s return-stare that he did not believe him. It did not matter. “And should Tear at some point in the future become a nuisance,” Raphael added for the lord’s benefit, “we have enough of our armed forces down here south so we can deal with it. The majority of the councillors agree with my assessment of the situation”. In a somewhat smug voice he said, “Only you and Lords Kerdan and Tharin were in fact against the motion.” The other man’s lips tightened. He was an older man, well past his prime but he still had some fight left in him. “Yes, this time we lost. This time.” With those final words and casting the other man a challenging stare, he walked straight past Lord Serafehl and did not stop before he was almost at his private council-room, anger clouding his mind. There was something about that Lord Serafehl that put his teeth on edge. He was a sly one, that one, that was for sure, politically very able, but Ardhen - who came from one of the oldest families in Illian and who had been a councillor for many years - felt in his bones that there was more to it than that. He bears watching he thought grimly as he poured himself a glass of red wine from a decanter and took a big swallow. ● Staring silently at the back of the departing Lord Ardhen, thinking about what had been said in their short conversation and what had not, and also the trouble this old lord could make in the future, Raphael wondered if the older Illianer Lord ought to meet with an unfortunate accident. The ocean currents of the Sea of Storms were particularly dangerous this time of year. The Chosen’s grin widened wickedly as he walked up the steps to his chamber. There was work to be done in Illian. ▀▄ Raphael Chosen
  2. .. Tel'aran'rhiod: A Meeting of Chosen .. ►▼◄ ..Tel'aran'rhiod, the World of Dreams, the Unseen World, a place that exists in the spaces between the weave of the Great Pattern of alternate realities. It is a world much like the natural world - a reflected universe that mirrors the physical world: mountains and rivers; cities and palaces; forests and oceans. But it’s an empty place. Living creatures are not reflected; they appear only briefly when they dream themselves into Tel'aran'rhiod, and even more rarely when they enter it physically. To enter the World of Dreams in the flesh can be dangerous for those not capable enough. Very dangerous indeed.. ● Raphael, like all the other Chosen, had extensive knowledge of Tel'aran'rhiod, more than any others in this Age. Even so, the World of Dreams had always seemed somewhat of a mystery to him, a puzzle of infinite possibilities. It is the place where no dreams die. ● Where those words came from, like a whisper in his mind, he could not tell - words of another Age perhaps. Whatever their origin, he thought there was a ring of truth about them. Physically entering Tel'aran'rhiod, closing the gateway behind him, he moved across the marble floor of the huge chamber and seated himself in one of the several ornate oak chairs with high backs that were facing each other around an ornate table across a space of twelve feet. On the table were elegant crystal glasses and a dozen candle lights burning. Not that the candle lights were necessary - there were other lights along the walls lighting up the room - but they gave the meetings a certain style and familiarity, he thought. This was a mirror-image, a reflection, of the same estate chamber in the western part of the country owned by a Nobleman who was also a Friend of the Dark. It was an apt place for a meeting, Raphael had always thought, also one conducted in this Unseen World. Raphael had used it several times for clandestine meetings in the time since he had escaped the Dreamless Sleep of the Bore. Holding onto saidin - though he did not expect treachery at this meeting he did not trust anyone, least of all the other Chosen - he stared around the empty chamber as he waited. His piercing blue eyes had a calculated look. His blond hair and handsome face, coupled with his tall broad-shouldered body, was a strong indication for anyone who knew. Then again, there were very few left who knew. This was a different Age and what had once been, what moved in Raphael’s memories from the Age of Legends, was dead and gone to this world. Even so, he preferred masking his appearance from the unknowing world - in the guise of Lord Serafehl -, prudence was always wise. Brushing his hand through his blond hair for a moment, his thoughts went back to that Age before his Dreamless Sleep and as so often was the case, his mood slowly darkened and his features twisted with anger as his memories were filled with the face of Dar Keran. The blasted man! Even if he was dead and buried now, he still infuriated Raphael whenever he thought of him. Bloody Dragon! Raphael remembered a time when Dar Keran had been impressed by his skill as General and Commander of Legions, a time when they had almost been friends, but everything had changed when Dar Keran had persuaded the Shon Mel to pursue his grandiose ideas. Your pride ruined everything, Dragon. The bitter thought lingered in his mind. His betrayal by Dar Keran, as he saw it, combined with lack of appreciation for his eminent skill as a Battle Commander by his other Aes Sedai peers and comrades had pushed him toward the Shadow and the Great Lord. Being accused of brutality towards his own troops, publicly reprimanded by the White Tower and subsequently having his military command removed, was the final straw. Kneeling in front of the Great Lord of the Dark, swearing a new and unbreakable Oath, offering his life and services, gave him immense gratification and he swore vengeance on all his enemies, on the pityful Aes Sedai and on Dar Keran above all. That he never got to kill the Dragon himself still rankled, like a wound in his soul that never quite healed, but at least that damn man was dead! And I am not. Gradually calming himself, his hands in his lap, reflections thrown by the candle lights, he waited. He wore an ornate black coat to this meeting with frills at the neck and cuffs and his boots also had frills. He looked very much the part of a powerful lord and acted the part. But in his heart he was the General of his past. ● A Master of War and Strategy. One of the best Military Commanders the Great Lord had had in the War of Power. Almost at the level of Vanahl himself. His features twisted anew as he thought of the man who had taken upon himself the role of leader of the Chosen. An arrogant man at the best of times, perhaps even half-mad it was suspected (but never mentioned in his presence), Raphael did not like him at all, but he respected him, sensed the man’s strength in the One Power (which was a little greater than his own and thereby strongest of them all), and followed his lead. At least for now. Political intrigue and manipulation had never been to his liking, unlike Tervihn and Sinam who seemed to thrive with it. Raphael had indeed always preferred open military conquest. But he saw the necessity of politics and subtlety and played along in order to achieve his goals. It was, after all, a delicate situation and he knew when prudence called for less direct confrontations. He was not the most patient among them though, not the most deft at subtlety, and his temper sometimes got the better of him, but he played the Game of Power with experience and ability. Kieran and Banohr were scientists, middle-aged scholars who had created Trollocs and other Shadowspawn in the War of Power. Dedicated men who definitely had their use, but Raphael had always considered them weak and not his equal. Vinadel, the eternal philosopher, was a valuable ally, often sharing Raphael’s views. He was not the most outspoken but could be relied on. Last of the men: Gerehl. He had been a teacher in the Age of Legends, famous for having made school children cruel, vindictive and murderous through long, subtle and clever indoctrination. He had served the Great Lord well, Raphael thought, spawning a new breed of Friends of the Dark, but he had been less efficient after his awakening from the Dreamless Sleep. Also he was the type of person who always voted with what seemed to be the strongest faction among them, he had no principles as Raphael saw it. Then there were the women. Serahna, Kharin and Divara. Three capable women, but more meddlesome than most, Divara especially. Kharin could not stand him and the feeling was mutual. A handsome rather than beautiful brown-haired, long-legged woman with olive-shaped eyes and high cheekbones, she hated all men and it was a trait that had not changed in 4000 years and her attitude toward her fellow male Chosen was no exception. Issandra was the weakest of the women, in character as well as in the One Power. She had been a research-assistant to the Lyr Nahm, a demure figure of no consequence and Raphael sometimes wondered how she had had it in her to go over to the Shadow in the first place. According to Serahna, Issandra had killed her two-timing lover out of spite and had fled the city to avoid imprisonment or, even worse, Severing, finally offering her soul to the Great Lord to gain freedom and immortality. It did not sound too plausible to Raphael he had to admit, something about the scenario sounded a bit.. off, but then again human nature was impossible to understand at times and a woman scorned, as most men knew, was not the best of enemies. ● And then there was Arissa. Raphael grinned mischievously as he thought of the very capable and alluring woman. With her dark red, wavy auburn hair, glittering emerald eyes and seductive curves she was a sight to behold. Her flirtatious nature and love of beautiful people, or rather servants, was no secret, and she appreciated his handsome looks, as she had teasingly hinted at on more than one occasion. Powerful in both character and the One Power, she was one of the most formidable Chosen as he saw it. She was an important ally who could be trusted.. at least as far as any of the other Chosen could be trusted, he thought with a wicked lopsided grin. Which meant not at all, if truth be told. But some trust was needed for alliances to be made here - and everywhere - and he gave what he received, some trust and mutual cooperation, building power from behind the scenes. Raphael was brought out of his reverie by the arrival of two of the other Chosen. Kieran with his dark complexion, short brown hair and dark-brown eyes stepped out of what looked like a heavily decorated manor-room and into this meeting place. He gave a noncommittal nod to Raphael and then seated himself in one of the chairs opposite. Raphael was not surprised that the other man too held onto saidin. Few who participated in these meetings ever let their guard down. Almost without thinking he measured or sensed how strong Kieran was in the One Power and it pleased him, as always, to register that the other man was weaker than himself. Another gateway opened on the other side of the room a few moments later, echoes of a stately room, half bathed in the golden light and half draped in darkness, left behind, and Arissa stepped through. She gave him a flirtatious look as she closed the gateway behind her, her wavy auburn hair luscious and dress clinging, and walked slowly toward the ornate table where the others were seated. The beautiful dress she wore emphasized her curves and Raphael stared appreciatively at her, his blue eyes glinting, as she sat down in one of the available chairs at the end of the large table. Her eyes met his, her ruby lips pursed, and he almost expected to hear her wicked laughter which she often shared with intimates when delighted or amused. He wondered how things were going with her ‘pretties’. Probably not so well for them, he thought slyly, remembering their glazed and highly unnatural ‘eager to please’-looks when he had visited her on occasion. Arissa was hugely accomplished when it came to delicate weaves of the mind, skillful manipulations of the brain, using Compulsion and similar so-called ‘forbidden weaves’ on unsuspecting victims, probably the most accomplished of them all in that respect. She had certainly been a valuable asset during the War of Power. ● “Vanahl is late as usual”, Raphael murmured with a slight frown, changing his train of thought, as he took a sip from the drink in the glass before him. “Perhaps one of these days we will have to teach him punctuality.” It was an idle threat, spoken more as a means of breaking the silence than for any other reason; no one, after all, ‘taught’ Vanahl anything he did not wish to be ‘taught’. The repercussions could be.. unpleasant to say the least. Raphael’s blue eyes narrowed, his mouth slightly twisted, as he gazed at the silent Kieran opposite him. The man seldom spoke at these meetings, preferring to watch and listen. Unlike Sinam who never stopped talking. And Tervihn who never stopped arguing. They were 13 men and women, all different but ambitious and all born with - and strong in - the One Power, stronger than the pityful so-called Aes Sedai of this Age, who had sworn allegiance to the Great Lord in return for the promise of immortality. Forsaken, those lightfools had called them, but they were Those Chosen To Rule The World Forever. And Rule we will, Raphael thought emphatically, excitement building inside him at the thought. We shall Reign! Silence followed his words, and as they waited for the others to arrive, Raphael went over in his mind how he was to gain the confidence of several of the other Chosen for his ambitious plan. It would not be easy, seeing as all the Chosen had their own agendas, plots and plans at all times, but Raphael had always enjoyed a challenge. Strategy, he thought to himself as he sipped more from his drink, his eyes taking on a calculated look. Strategy is always the key. ● Memories took him back to Davelle 4000 years before.. “The General has betrayed us! Run, everyone! Ruuuunnn!” Screams of pain, endless screams of agony, the stench of death all around. Raphael, confident in his own power and ability, throws saidin-wrought lightening at the defending forces, watches with glee as the men die in pools of blood. His forces attacking from both sides at once, as part of his carefully thought-out military strategy, catch the defenders in a squeeze and they have no chance. None at all. The screams keep coming, shrieks of terror, the storms of chaos steadily building, and Raphael’s blue eyes glitter in endless, glorious exultation.. ● Just then, a silver line tore through the air, another gateway opening - dangerously close to the table and chairs this time - and Vanahl, leader of the Chosen, stepped arrogantly through, his eyes pools of fire. ▀▄ Raphael Chosen
  3. OOC: This RP takes place in a self-contained, parallel Portal Stone World of the Wheel of Time. Mirrors of ‘reality’ as we know it, reflections of what has been, can be and may become, but in no way a factual portrait or representation of the Wheel of Time-books or its famous characters. ------------------------- .. The Breaker of Faith .. ►▼◄ There is no more faith. The echoes of another Age reverberated in Raphael’s mind as he stared emptily into the blazing fire. ● His name was Neram Setin Vadar. Or at least, so it had once been. ● “All faith is lost!” The screams of terror almost drown out the young man’s words of desperation as he runs down the street, blood pouring down his face. “He has betrayed us! The General has betrayed us!” He stumbles and falls face first into the ground, a stab of pain in his side. With some effort he gets to his feet but is almost trampled by the mass of people running in panic from the gates. He stares back for a moment and in the distance sees the guards fighting for their lives atop the gates. “Oh Light, we have no chance now!” His breath catches in his throat as he sees the gates come crashing down. He cannot see the General but he knows he is there. The Traitor. “Run!”, he screams to a couple of tear-stricken children who stand before a half-destroyed shop off to the side, panic in their eyes, shock in their faces, unable to move. “Run, children. Run!” ● Blood fills the street and the stench of death fills the air as the minions of the Shadow crush all opposition on their surge toward the centre of the city of Devalle. The General feels waves of saidin being channeled but quite a way off. Holding onto saidin himself, loving the power flowing through his veins, he walks forwards, his gaze focused. Buildings barely standing on both sides of the street. Destruction everywhere. He halts for a moment, nods contentedly and starts off again, but is soon stopped by a small noise. He turns sideways and suddenly spots a little terrified girl who is holding hard onto her doll. She is crying, tears running down her chin in rivulets, and her big brown eyes stare fearfully at him as he bends down to look her in the eye. She shivers with fear as his hand touches her face. An unreadable look passes across his face, then he says, with passion in his voice, passion mingled with harshness, “Little one, this is a day of death. You should be long gone.” The little girl looks back at his hard face, and starts sobbing even louder. Finally she speaks, but in such a soft tone of voice that the General almost does not hear. He leans down and hears the words. “My brother is dead. They took him. There is no more faith” she says, her eyes watering over, her heart breaking. “No hope at all.” For you that is true, the General thinks. For those fools too. Yes, this is the beginning of the end. Great Lord, it is begun. The man who after this day was to be called Raphael, the Breaker of Faith, stares intensely into the smoke-filled distance as the child crumples to the ground before him. It is begun. ● The spoken words brought him back to the present. “No hope, Great Master. Or atleast so she says. Others are listening to her words and wondering if she is right.” Knee bent before the Chosen, the grey-haired man in his dark travelling-cloak faced the floor as silence followed his words. Finally Raphael spoke. “She will be silenced.” The Friend of the Dark heard the sentence pronounced and sighed. Even so, she had brought it upon herself. “But in one respect she is right” Raphael added, gaze hard. “Sometimes there is no faith.” Fools! He thought. We must rid ourselves of such fools and cowards before they damage our plans. My plans, he amended. “You may stand.” The words were softly spoken, the voice deep, but were perceived as a command. The man got to his feet and stood silently a few feet away from the Chosen. “Look at me.” The man turned his eyes up to stare the other in the face, swallowing hard even so. What he saw was a dark-haired, strong-jawed, hard faced man in his mid-twenties with dark-brown piercing eyes and a hawk-like nose in a partially scarred face. Those piercing eyes met his now in a no-nonsense manner. He swallowed hard again. Had the Chosen not used a spell of Illusion upon his servant, what the other would in fact have seen was a very tall and imposing man, handsome in looks, in his early thirties with broad shoulders, blue eyes that bespoke of power and intelligence and blond hair that reached below his neck. As it was, the Friend of the Dark stared into those dark-brown eyes of his Master only for a second before shifting his gaze slightly as it were. “You will let me know if others spread discontent, won’t you ?” The words were spoken dangerously softly. “Yes, Great Master. At once!” “Good. You may go now.” The friend of the Dark bowed one last time to the Chosen, shuffled away and then locked the door behind him on the way out, glad to have been dismissed. Most of all he was glad to still be alive, having brought bad news to the Master. ● Raphael’s eyes continued staring into the blazing fire, aflame with memories of another time, whispers reaching across the ages to surround him in his timeless place. “Breaker of Faith!” “Traitor!” They named me well, those lightfools, and I embraced the name they gave me. For I did betray the Gates of Karan, I did carry the Shadow into the heart of Davelle. Oh yes. Fire. Did they think I didn’t know what I was doing ? Oh I knew - and I conquered! Storm. If only I had gotten to destroy you, Dar Keran! You proud and self-glorifying man! You destroyed the world sealing the Great Lord and us away, you and your two hundred mad Companions. Chaos. Hope has blossomed in the world as the Wheel has turned, but I will break all faith, my naming will be true. That I promise! The intense and hateful look in his eyes would have given even the staunchest warrior pause. There was intelligence there, and an inner fire of purpose and endless determination. ● And the Fire blazed on, Storms raging in screaming Flames; the Past and Present blending in a moment of Dark Revelation. ▀▄ Raphael Chosen
  4. Well, actually I do have the time and interest 😁 but after I posted I thought perhaps it was better to talk off board by PM (was going to send you a PM but you beat me to it) and so I edited the post. If you are interested, send me a PM okies 😉
  5. Em! *huggles* Kinda quiet, yeah but some of us are still around. Good to see ya! 😉
  6. There is a reason why I usually stay far away from political forum threads, to avoid ending up in big political debates and (unwillingly) stepping on toes or angering people. Especially debates which concern your current controversial President (who in Europe by most is considered dangerous, delusional, a narcissist, possibly mentally ill, totally unsuitable for the job and in best case scenario a clown who should be protected against himself). I am not going to post much in this thread, but since I began sharing some opinions and have received some feedback from you above, I will provide some more reflections this time. It will be a long post and my last one on this issue. Different people have different opinions. I mentioned Biden's age was a drawback, whether it is vital depends on his mental and physical fitness as I see it. But yes, he is a little old for the job. I understand from what you write that you hold Trump in a higher regard than I do (to put it extremely mildly). I mean no disrespect, but imho if Trump wins a second term after all that has happened with him and all that has come out in the past couple of years, I will definitely believe you Americans have lost your minds (*big grin*). I was giving my opinion on Biden from all I have seen and read over the years. I do believe he would be a good choice (despite the age-factor) and most importantly you would then have a President sound of mind with the most important qualities such a person should have imho, impulse-control, calmness of judgement and stability. All the rest (politics) can be sorted through advisors etc. But you need to have the right man in the right place at the right time. Norway have history, traditions, friendship with the US all the way back to the Norwegian immigrants settling in the US in the 1800s, WW2 and in NATO. We therefore follow US politics and news more than many others and wish for a good relationship between our countries. Politically we do prefer US Presidents who are for world trade, the UN, cooperation between states (Democrats usually) but most important to us is that the US President is a man who is responsible, who one can trust and believe in as a world leader. As it is, I am sad to say, most over here believe the neighbour's cat is a safer, sounder choice for President than your current one, so you can see that your beliefs and values and thoughts on Trump (and those of 1/2 US) will be a universe away from ours here. What makes a man worthy? That is up to every voter to decide and the decision is yours, Americans. I have summed up some of my thoughts above regarding qualities many (me included) look for in a President and thereby what makes a man worthy, but opinions will always differ and the American people must make their choice. I just hope you Americans will keep in mind that they are not just electing their leader when they elect a US President, but the world's leader as well with all the responsibility that entails. So make sure you elect the right person with the right qualities. This is my opinion only, but there goes. I have been following US politics for at least 20 years (I have been impressed by Clinton and Obama, less so by Bush jr but he also had some qualities) and I find it interesting and valuable. The populist (who cares about the truth?) anti-establishment trend which carried Trump to victory is a dangerous one I believe, we also see it elsewhere in the world (also in parts of Europe) and it often gives nations populist extreme, nationalist and often unsuited leaders. I fear this is the way of the future due to loss of belief in our leaders (a mistake I say) and that it will make the world a less secure place for the coming generations. Only time will tell. I had not planned to write so much tbh, but once I started I felt it right to give more details to 'flesh out' my opinion. I will return now to the WoT-Roleplay that I primarily do and spend my time with at DM, will write no more here in this thread as mentioned. I wish you Americans the best of luck in your coming Presidential election and sincerely hope you make the correct choice this time *wink and smile*.
  7. I am not into all the Democratic candidates at present, but to me Biden (though a little old perhaps) seems a good and sensible choice. He has intellect, much experience, values, right temperament and stands for moderation. Compared to the current President he is light years better imo (but then again, I thought you Americans had a moment of 'temporary insanity' when you elected the totally unsuitable - and more than possibly criminal - Trump to Office..). Whoever you end up choosing as the Democratic candidate for 2020, I hope the American people come to their senses and elect a worthy President this time.
  8. Wonderful post, Tyrell ^^ When you put it like that, we are probably all here a little nuts to enjoy this great fantasy-saga as entertainment.. *dark grin* It is certainly adult in most respects, and often extreme (though the consensual sex-part, as you say, is modest [mostly off screen] compared to similar works; personally I approve of that but, like others, think that part will be much more prominent in the tv-series).
  9. I am come late to this topic/discussion, mainly because I primarily RP-write at DM these days. Here are, however, some reflections (note: long post). [I have not read through this thread so things I mention may have been discussed before and there might be more information regarding details around the tv-series etc, so these are my general thoughts and opinions] I am tbh somewhat conflicted with regards to this tv-series. On the one hand, I am excited that the masterful ‘The Wheel of Time’-series seems to get a tv-series production and wonder what they will be able to make of it. If there is any fantasy-series (not filmed yet) that deserves a tv-series, it is this one. On the other hand, I fear whether they will be able to do it justice and not ‘just’ make a dumbed down, overly-simplified politically-correct version which perhaps works for a mainstream audience (who never read the books and perhaps never intend to) but which will be somewhat painful for us hardcore-WoT’ers to experience. I had the same fears back in the day when I heard that ‘The Lord of the Rings’ was being made into movies, fearing that they would be inferior, unworthy simplified versions of what I considered a fantasy-masterpiece. Thankfully, and much to my relief, Peter Jackson made 3 films which (especially in the extended versions) imo were an excellent rendition of the books, keeping most of the story, changing little and with some additions (f.ex. including Arwen Evenstar and her relationship with Aragorn) that I think actually made it even better. Also with ‘Game of Thrones’ the production is excellent imo, based on George RR Martin’s ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’-books, despite some changes (especially in later seasons) in the narrative. This is probably partly due to the huge budget spent on this mega-popular tv-series (money often, though not always, means quality) and a professional production. I must admit that when ‘Game of Thrones’ began on HBO I thought to myself hypothetically filming ‘The Wheel of Time’ would be a different, more complicated, prospect. Part of this is because more of this huge fantasy-series takes place in the characters’ heads (internal) and also that it is a lot larger tapestry in detail and all ways than ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’, not the least in world building and close to twice the size book-wise. The danger is therefore even more so imo with ‘The Wheel of Time’ that it may end up a dumbed down, very simplified version of Robert Jordan’s huge fascinating universe unless the producers do this right. And that will probably mean high budgets (closer to ‘Game of Thrones’ than ‘Chronicles of Shannara’) and many seasons. I would be less concerned if the tv-series got say 10 seasons for the 14 books than if they condensed everything into say 6-7 seasons, so the question becomes how ambitious will the producers be, how much money is there to spend, and how high ratings will the series get. Obviously there is even greater need in this tv-series than ‘Game of Thrones’ to leave out characters and lesser storylines since the amount of Aes Sedai, for instance, and lesser characters is far too large to include. I do, however, sincerely hope the producers will include the 40-50 most important characters in the books and will keep to the major storylines. I am not a ‘purist’ who expects everything in a book to be the same in a movie or tv-series - some things do work better on screen and similarly on the written page - but at the same time I am no fan of changing important/vital things in a tv-series. (I was for example fine with Starbuck becoming a woman character in the last ‘Battlestar Galactica’ tv-series though it surprised me at first, but would be far far less accepting if for example Mat suddenly was changed into Mandy in this tv-series (since ‘The Wheel of Time’ means much more to me)). The closer they stay to canon (the books) the happier I will be, though there is no need (or want) to include Robert Jordan’s huge descriptions in parts of his huge story of course. I also hope they won’t change things to be politically correct (with a view to race/gender/sexual orientation etc), there is plenty diversity already in Robert Jordan’s world imo. Excess nudity (like in ‘Game of Thrones’) is not necessary either as I see it, though nudity and sex 'sells', as we know, so I would not be surprised if there was more of that in the tv-series than in the books. The same goes for excess brutality and blood (though HBO take that further perhaps). I read somewhere that they are considering a ‘feminist’ angle with so many female main characters (Egwene, Nynaeve, Elayne, Min etc), but I think these characters are strong in themselves in the books (as Robert Jordan deliberately wrote them) and I see no need to emphasize ‘girlpower’ in the tv-series (though I would not be surprised if it happens considering the times we are living in). As for casting I have no thoughts on the matter as of yet. I cannot quite picture in my mind who I can imagine playing a good Rand, Egwene, Moiraine etc but they did a good job casting the ‘Game of Thrones’-characters so if these producers do a similar job I would be pleased. I do hope they will keep to the characteristics/looks from the books though, having a blond Nynaeve for example would not work so well with me. I believe the reason for the enormous success of ‘Game of Thrones’ besides it being a big-budget production with quality script, actors, cinematography is that it appeals to several groups of viewers at the same time; those who love high fantasy, those who love Middle Ages-type Castles and Knight-stories, those who love historical drama, and those who love zombie-type stories. It is quite a feat to appeal to so many groups at the same time. It also was/is the first big-scale fantasy-type series on tv (smaller-scale tv-series in the genre have, of course, been aired before, including the aforementioned ‘Chronicles of Shannara’) and for that reason also it will probably be impossible for ‘The Wheel of Time’, I think, to compete rating- and popularity-wise. What one can hope for, I think, is for a tv-series which gains ratings/popularity say half-way between ‘Chronicles of Shannara’ and ‘Game of Thrones’, sufficient enough to get many tv-seasons and to get a worthy, quality and reasonably popular high fantasy-series. The excellent and momentous ‘The Wheel of Time’-saga by the late Robert Jordan deserves no less.
  10. I am no expert nor an (RP) Admin, but from what I have read and years of RP-experience Andoran people come with both dark and fair hair, dark and blue eyes, with regions like the Two Rivers having predominantly dark hair and eyes. Andorans are also often described as being pale skinned. So having a blue-eyed Andoran character from Caemlyn, or from an outlying farm, will surely be fine (in fact I am RPing with a player with one such character even as we speak).
  11. *raises her mug of brew to that* indeed *grins* can't wait to see my clumsy accepted having her first lesson. if u're in, i'll try to write a first post in the WT lol I'll send you a PM okies
  12. ^ Perhaps, but it would be even more interesting for both parties involved, development and storywise, to ‘swordtrain’ your Accepted, if it were the first step on a path that ends with the two of them bonding when she soon-ish is a young Sedai, you know.. *grins and winks*
  13. I am still around with my - interesting, valiant but 'slightly damaged goods', with a long history - unbonded Warder-character Elessar Telcontar. Have been looking for an active female player with a Sedai to bond for a while, but with few active players around I've had a go at solo-RPing.
  14. .. To Fulfill One’s Fate .. ►▼◄ KNOW WHAT IT IS LIKE TO BE A GODDESS, MY DAUGHTER. With those words reality changed. Day changed into night, the sun gone for a moment in time and replaced by a dark blue night sky. Benahlia felt enormous power flow through her from Anithar, drawing all life out of her and rearranging it in a way.. and she burned like a star …. Burned and shone and … changed … evolved … Never to be the same again … Thousands of pictures flashed in her mind and she rose slowly from the ground, floating upwards high above the Temple. The light burned her but she did not feel any pain. She did not feel anything. Except the otherworldly rapture! Like a star in the sky she blazed, like the hope of a thousand years manifested in this one being. ♦ All the colours of the rainbow radiated around her and from her then, from purple to yellow, from green to red, from blue to brown - and it was an awesome sight indeed! Those were eternal seconds, moments where she was connected to the core of the universe; to life and death, to happiness and pain, to the magic of all that was and had been, and the pictures in her mind kept coming with all the wisdom of the Ages, all the memories of what had gone by. TO BE ALL TO BE ONE TO PROTECT ALL The earth shook far beneath her, light streamed out from her in heavy waves in a monumental display of power, and a thunderclap ran across the heavens, a herald of what was happening, a herald of the glory of rebirth. And then there was silence. And the blazing star.. ..descended slowly, and as it did so the burning power lessened, until at last it faded away completely. As Benahlia was once again on the ground her eyes opened - perhaps they had been open all the time, she could not tell - and the darkness was slowly being replaced by daylight once again. The sun was soon shining up in the day sky, and what had happened but a memory within a memory. A memory outside of time. IT IS DONE. How she could not say, just that when an eternity had passed, or perhaps just a few seconds in time, she felt the same and yet not, looked the same and yet not, spoke the same and yet not, was the same and yet not. She was different. Changed. She was Eternal. ♦ She knew it without needing any explanation. Her heart filled with such happiness and exileration and love that it felt as if it would explode - and at the same time she felt such awe and wonder as was undescribable! She was immortal. She was now a Goddess. It could not be … but it was. YES, MY CHILD. YOU ARE NOW TRULY MY DAUGHTER. AS THE ONLY GODDESS OF THIS WORLD, WE LEAVE YOU BEHIND TO LIVE IN THIS WORLD AND CARE FOR IT AS YOU WOULD FOR YOUR OWN CHILD. THE WORLD IS YOUR CHILD NOW. WE KNOW YOU WILL DO IT WITH WISDOM AND LOVE. Benahlia, formerly High Priestess of Anithar, now a Goddess of this world, replied in soft tones: MOTHER, I HAVE NO WORDS …NO WORDS … NO WORDS ARE NECESSARY. GIVE GUIDANCE TO THOSE WHO SEEK IT, MY CHILD. AND REMEMBER THAT WE CAN’T SEE INTO THE FUTURE. THE FUTURE IS A PRODUCT OF OUR ACTIONS, A PRODUCT OF OUR DEEDS. WE ARE WHAT WE DO. MAKE SURE YOU DO WHAT IS RIGHT. WE WILL REMEMBER YOU FOREVER. YOU ARE NOW ONE OF US. AND ALWAYS WILL BE. You are now one of us. One of us. The words echoed in her mind … GOODBYE, DAUGHTER OF THE GODS. GOODBYE, MY CHILD. GOODBYE, MOTHER. I WILL LOVE YOU FOREVER IN MY HEART. AND I YOU, DAUGHTER. I WILL ALWAYS BE WITH YOU, IN YOUR HEART. FOR ALL ETERNITY. ♦ And then Anithar the Goddess of Light was gone, forever gone from this world - and in her heart Benahlia, new Goddess of Light and only Deity of this world, knew that the gateway to the Realm of the Gods was closed forever. She was left alone in this world, to guide, to care for, to protect and to love - but she would never be all alone. Anithar would always be with her. In her heart. And the new Goddess would be a part of all that was; a part of the sky, a part of the earth, a part of the oceans - a part of the world. She felt the love and wisdom and knowledge given her by her Mother and she smiled beautifully. She was immortal - and she would care for the lands ‘till the end of time. AND NO MORTAL SHALL RISE AGAIN TO CHALLENGE HIS OR HER GODDESS. I SHALL MAKE SURE OF THAT. I SHALL LOVE AND PROTECT MY WORLD FOR ALL TIME. She flowed into the earth at the Temple grounds then, becoming one with all that was in this world, one with her Child, to hold and protect, to love and care for, and was never seen again by mortal man. Only a whisper lingered on the wind as she disappeared, and it was a whisper filled with purpose, a whisper filled with certainty, a whisper of a fate fulfilled. I HAVE FULFILLED MY DESTINY. I AM BENAHLIA, THE GODDESS OF LIGHT. THIS IS MY CALLING. ▀▄▀▄ ▀▄ THE END
  15. .. A Reward and A Responsibility .. ►▼◄ I understand better now, my Goddess. Thank you. Benahlia sat in her favourite place in the Temple gardens and stared silently at the rebuilding of her Temple. She was alone and the sun was shining down upon her. Her sister-Priestesses were inside the Temple, at the rear where there had been least damage. She had spoken with them several times since her return and they had been overjoyed to find that she was unharmed and proud to hear of her accomplishments. Her entire Order was, in truth, in awe of her and to be honest she found the adoration a little uncomfortable. She therefore spent more and more time on her own, going often to the Temple gardens for solitude. She had listened well to Anithar’s explanation of what had taken place in the world of the Gods, of Davian’s incredible power, and of how close he had been to victory. Anithar had also told her why the Gods had not combined their powers to destroy the Magician; their fear of destroying the world. She still could hardly believe that Davian could have become so powerful … he was a mortal, after all …. but he had been near Godly in strength when utilizing all his power. That thought made her shiver, thinking back on her battle with him right here in the Temple gardens and knowing how he could have killed her so easily had he dared use that strength and power against her and not saved it for the Gods. ♦ It was twilight. Her Goddess sat opposite her with folded hands. Staring at Anithar, Benahlia was struck - once again - by the Goddess’ ethereal, stunning beauty, her perfect features and her radiance. She was also struck by the love she felt for this divine being. Looking away for a moment, she asked one of the many questions she had thought about since her return. Will another come who will challenge the Gods like he did ? MY CHILD, THERE IS ALWAYS THE CHANCE. BUT DAVIAN WAS UNIQUE, MORE UNIQUE THAN ANY OF US KNEW. Benahlia nodded, pushing aside the picture in her mind of a younger Davian in her loving embrace. Then the Goddess added: AND ALSO, WE ARE RESTORING THE EDICTS OF THE GODS, CLOSING THE PORTAL THAT WAS OPENED INTO THIS WORLD. AND THIS TIME.. WE ARE SEALING THAT PATH FOREVER, COMPLETELY. ♦ Forever …? Completely? Does that mean that you … WE WILL BE GONE FROM THIS WORLD COMPLETELY, EVEN IN THOUGHT … YES, MY CHILD. WE CANNOT RISK ANOTHER UPHEAVAL AND DESTRUCTION OF THE WORLD. WE - THE GODS - HAVE DECIDED THAT WE WILL LET THIS WORLD BE. THE DANGER WE REPRESENT TO THE WORLD IS SIMPLY TOO GREAT. But … but … we need your guidance … MY DAUGHTER, FOLLOW YOUR HEART AND YOU WILL KNOW THE TRUTH. But ... but ... YOU -. SHALL BE THE ONE TO GUIDE THE PEOPLE OF THIS WORLD. WE LEAVE YOU BEHIND. Me …? But I am just a High Priestess and … and … you, my Goddess will be gone, my powers gone … How can I … MY DAUGHTER, YOU WILL BE.. THE ONE The one …? You don`t mean … you don`t … THE ONE Do you mean … CHILD OF THE GODS, WE BELIEVE IN YOU ♦ Benahlia had no words as comprehension dawned on her at last. She could not have been more stunned had the world ended right there and then! How is that possible..? She asked in stunned disbelief. WE ARE THE GODS. WE CAN MAKE AND UNMAKE. But … CHILD. IT IS YOUR TIME NOW. Tears flowed down Benahlia`s cheeks.. and she did not care to brush them away. A feeling of utter euphoria came over her.. This is now my destiny! She screamed inside in pure exaltation.. ASINADHA ANITHAR!! I love you, Anithar! ..and she wanted to scream her endless joy at the world! ▀▄
  16. .. To End it All .. ►▼◄ A beam of light wider than her arm poured out from Benahlia’s hands, widening as it shot upwards, fed by Anithar’s Fire. Her inner strength and courage also gave it added power, streaming directly towards the screaming mage.. Toward Davian And she felt all her power drain from her body as a monumental crash of thunder made the sky explode as the power-beam hit the dark mage, at the same time as a similar blast came at him from the Gods above, channelled through Anithar. The combined colossal blast destroyed him, throwing energies and matter all through the skies, as if a star had exploded in their midst! ♦ IT IS ENDED. Daviaaaaan! Benahlia’s scream tore her soul apart - and then she slowly lost conciousness. The last thing she remembered before blackness took her, was that she was thinking about him. Why Davian..? Why did it have to be you..?? ♦ The Goddess of Light assembled all her brothers and sisters in their Realm and spoke with them. She told them of her guilt for not having anticipated the threath that Davian had constituted. She told them of her special connection with Benahlia - and how the High Priestess had helped them destroy the evil Magician. She told them how proud she was of her Daughter. And when the High Priestess awoke some time later, with a heavy head and some tiredness in her body but otherwise unscathed, she told her of her pride. MY TRUST IN YOU WAS NOT MISPLACED, DAUGHTER OF THE GODS. YOU WERE STRONG ENOUGH. I AM PROUD OF YOU. CHOSEN ONE. Benahlia smiled gratefully at the praise. She was still somewhat thunderstruck at what had happened, but inwardly relieved that she had performed well when it mattered. She still felt some guilt at her behaviour on the mountain when she had been unable to strike at Davian, but she felt she had redeemed herself in this final battle. Anithar came toward her then and took her in her arms, giving her a warm embrace. Benahlia was taken aback at first but then felt joyful feeling the loving embrace of Anithar. In the arms of her Goddess she floated down toward the earth as the Gate to the Realm of the Gods closed above them. The entry into the world of the Gods was closed once again. Down below there were many signs of destruction and upheaval everywhere but not the cataclysmic, monumental destruction the High Priestess had feared from the gigantic battle in the skies. It would take time, but the world below could - and would - be rebuilt. Gazing around in silence, her thoughts returned to Davian. She found now that she would be able to let him go. She had, perhaps, in some way loved him always, but his descent into Darkness had taken him beyond her in all ways and it was time to put the memories of him behind her. He had tried to destroy the world and such a madman did not deserve her respect or love. He had destroyed himself and noone should feel any guilt for that. She knew that it would take some time for her heart to accept what her mind was telling it about Davian, but she had started on that path as soon as she had awakened. She would get there, she just needed some time. ♦ Anithar, I have served you well, I hope. MY CHILD, YOU WERE OUR CHAMPION. IN YOUR DEEDS AND THOUGHTS YOU SHOWED THAT YOU WERE WELL CHOSEN. Benahlia thanked her Goddess again. It was time to return to the Temple and her sisters. With a last look up into the sky, she clapped her hands once - and was gone. A whisper remained in the air, until it drifted away on the soft breeze. BE WELL, MY DAUGHTER. ▀▄
  17. PART 6: To Fulfill One’s Fate .. To Fall into Cataclysm .. ►▼◄ There was a smile upon her face - and she was One with Herself. I am Benahlia, High Priestess of Anithar. She thought. My time has come. She reached within her for that fire she knew was there. The heart of the fire, the fire of truth. The truth of her life. My destiny. This time she felt Anithar’s power envelope her in a stronger way than had ever happened before, and she embraced her Goddess’ touch with all her heart and being. And became.. power incarnate. She blazed like a sun, becoming a vessel of pure energy, her Silver hair streaming behind her, gleaming with brilliant light as she was carried upwards on winds of magic. Raising her hands as she ascended, she uttered a scream of such might that made the earth and heaven shudder - and the darkness was replaced by dazzling light amid unending thunderclaps! And in that second, Davian looked down at her.. and understood. ♦♦♦ The God Xunthir was shocked to find out what his foremost Servant in the world of the Mortals was intending, to supplant all the Gods - him included -, and so he joined the other Gods in defying this unheard of challenge against them! Xunthir also felt shame at having been fooled by a mere mortal, and angry at Davian’s betrayal of their plan. He had not suspected his Servant capable of treachery - who, after all, dared betray one’s own God and Master? - and having been played so by the mage only made the God feel even more bitter and furious. How dared he!? It was simply intolerable! He attacked his former Servant with vigour and fury, but was pushed back by the mage. Storms of lightning flew back and forth between them but the mage was not overcome. Davian taunted and insulted his former Master as they fought, something which infuriated Xunthir even further. How could the mortal be so strong? Xunthir wondered. In the end he retreated in anger and positioned himself in the background, letting his brothers and sisters do the main fighting. ♦ Anithar, Goddess of Light, threw deadly lightning-storms at the enemy. At the same time she berated herself for her mistakes. She had known that Davian was a great danger to the world below, and so had prepared her Champion for whatever was to come there. But even she, the wisest of the Gods, had not imagined - or prepared for the possibility - that Davian could be powerful enough - and knowledgable enough - to dare attack the Gods. The dark mage had destroyed the Edicts using the Words of Unmaking, which no mortal should have had access to in the first place since they were thought destroyed generations before by immortals, and which noone should have been able to understand. But this Davian was extraordinary, mad for certain but extraordinary, a true Master of Power, more powerful than any mortal in the generations since the Beginning - and so he had found a way. And therefore he had to be destroyed. ♦ She spoke to her sisters and brothers as she fought. I SPOKE THE TRUTH TO THE CHOSEN ONE. OUR COMBINED MIGHT COULD DESTROY THE FABRICS OF THE WORLD. HOWEVER, SHE CAN AID US, FROM HER WORLD, AND WITH HER WE CAN CONQUER. IF SHE IS STRONG ENOUGH. She felt sure her Servant was strong enough in her heart, but there was no guarantee, no way to tell for sure.. The moment of truth was here - and she called upon her foremost disciple, called upon Benahlia, filling her with her power. STRIKE, DAUGHTER OF THE GODS. WE WILL BE WITH YOU. ♦♦♦ The High Priestess heard her Goddess’ command - and she struck with all her might! Her scream tore the air, and Davian stared with horror down at the woman - the Silver-haired High Priestess who was somehow Fahrina, his Fahrina.. - who was about to destroy him. He had forgotten all about her in his battle with the Gods, believing her incapacitated on the mountain, and now, for a long moment as the world seemed to stand still, he turned to face her - and knew that Anithar was throwing her might against him also through her Servant! It was too much. His power was now concentrated in the world of the Gods, that other dimension which he had half-stepped into in the heavens above, but he was also half-existing in the world of mortal men, and he was unable to defend himself from a powerful strike from both worlds at the same time. In that timeless second, while he stood on the brink of death, sanity returned partially to him, and he screamed!! Fahrina, noooooo!! He conjured several shields, but in vain. He reached for spells to protect him, but he was too late. Too late. ▀▄
  18. .. War with the Gods .. ►▼◄ A darkness more complete than any she had ever experienced enveloped all and she almost forgot to breathe.. And then all sound stopped … silence was everywhere as if every living thing in the world had stopped breathing … waiting … Waiting … For the end … ♦ Davian the Magician’s voice pierced the stillness.. and the world took another breath. Opening the Gate to the World of the Gods, Davian taunted them, called upon them, challenged them. Challenged the Gods. And they answered him. He had done the impossible, he had done what even the Gods, in their infinite wisdom, had never thought any mortal would be able to - or dare to - do. And in so doing he had violated the Edicts of the Gods, opening a portal into their world. It was an affront that could not be tolerated. They came at him in anger and to destroy him! First came the lesser Gods, beams of light streaming at him with incredible power. He shielded himself from their attack and struck out at the immortal beings. He used every piece of the dark Art that he had laboriously worked hard for and sacrificed much for over the past years. He made use of all his powerful spells. He showed why he was the most powerful Mage who had ever lived. Back and forth it went, cracks of thunder shelling the skies, awesome energies being spent, with neither party gaining the advantage. In the end the lesser Gods drew back, wary and impressed by this unprecedented power for a mortal. I WILL DESTROY YOU ALL, IMMORTALS His words were frightening to the ear and even the older Gods, the stronger ones, were careful as they now approached him. One of the older Gods warned him in stark tones: MORTAL, YOU CAN NEVER BE ONE OF US. FLEE WHILE YOU CAN. Davian remained where he was, watching the approaching older God with spite. ♦ The God of Fire struck at him with oceans of fire but Davian deflected the awesome power directed at him. He struck back at the God with lightning but the old God deflected the bolts with seeming easy. Even so, he looked upon this powerful mortal with wary eyes, understanding that he would not be easily destroyed. Another of the Gods came at him with small burning stars in his hands, hurling them at this upstart Magician. Davian erected shield after shield to defend himself and struck back at the divine being with all he had. A third God bombarded him with strong winds and glass fragments of deadly hue but Davian withstood it all, though he did start to tire a little, something he hid well and ignored. The Gods shared looks of concern as they considered how to overcome this threath to their domain, without too much damage being done. Davian’s eyes burned fanatically, glorying in his ascent to Godhood. Then there was some noise as the Gods stepped to the side to let someone through. A new figure came toward him - and Davian could but stare in awe. He was not able to stop himself. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen in his life, a Marble-faced, Silver-haired woman of such stunning beauty and perfection that he was awestruck. But then.. she was not a woman. She was a Goddess. Of course. And then she spoke. MORTAL, YOU ARE ENDED. The voice of the Goddess Anithar entered Davian`s maddened and powerhungry mind, but he hardly registered the words, so completely lost was he in her incredible beauty.. and in the glory of power that streamed all through him, burning him.. THE GLORY ….. THE POWER …… I AM A GOD! …… ♦ A whisper entered Benahlia`s mind again and she recognized her Goddess` voice. HE HAS DARED CHALLENGE THE GODS, CHOSEN ONE. AND HE IS INCREDIBLY POWERFUL … WE NEED YOUR HELP NOW, YOU MUST NOT DOUBT. Me..? But I am bound.. No sooner had she spoken the words than the sorcerous web around her lessened - and disappeared. She was free to move again! Exileration streamed through her and relief at being free of the bonds. She stared upwards at the cataclysmic scene in the sky: she saw the figure of Davian, burning with power.. there at the Gate into the Realm of the Gods. Above him there was dazzling light.. What can I do..? DO NOT DOUBT, MY DAUGHTER. Anithar’s voice returned in her mind. WE CAN DESTROY HIM, BUT OUR COMBINED MIGHT MAY DESTROY THE WORLD. THE RISK IS TOO GREAT. IT IS YOUR TIME, CHOSEN ONE. YOU ARE THE HOPE OF THE WORLD. DO WHAT I SAY AND WE MAY HAVE A CHANCE. You are the hope of the world. She gathered her strength inside her and readied her power. Her self-confidence returning, she remembered the trust they had put in her. This was what she had trained for. She could not let her feelings for Davian let her - everyone - down again. She pushed all doubt aside, opened herself to her Goddess, and stood ready to fulfill her destiny ▀▄
  19. .. The Words of Unmaking .. ►▼◄ Benahlia, High Priestess of Anithar, cried tears of despair. In her mind, the voice of her Goddess tried to give her new encouragement. BE TRUE, DAUGHTER OF THE GODS. YOU ARE STRONG ENOUGH. HAVE FAITH. Benahlia - Fahrina.. - felt despair greater than any she had felt since her mother’s death. She shook from internal pain and hugged herself.., but slowly, as the moments went by, she realised deep inside that her despair was just as much for Davian having forsaken the Light. Her sobs continued for a while, and she wiped tears of sorrow from her violet eyes, but then her despair ever so slowly changed into a feeling of anger and betrayal. Davian.. He had betrayed everything he had stood for. Everything she believed in. He was the threath to the world - and she had to stop him … Stop him.. Those two words remained in her mind as she slowly got to her feet. She raised her arms, hardening her heart, spears of light ready to be hurled at him. But.. She hesitated.. No.. Clenching her fists, she focused again. She thought of the evil that was in Davian. The evil that had to be confronted. She thought of her duty. She thought of the trust the Gods had put in her. She could not fail them. Tightening her lips, focusing her mind, she tried again. But no. She just could not do it. I am so sorry. ♦ Her arms lowered to her sides, her face lost all its colour, and she just stood there in quiet anguish. Waiting.. as if in a daze.. ..as a web of light crashed into her - and tightened around her body, making her unable to move a muscle.. Anithar. Forgive me.. Far above her, something was happening. Something terrible. She knew it. But she was only able to watch passively as the sky opened up above, fear gathering in her soul.. She could do nothing to prevent what was about to happen.. and she knew it would be horrible.. In her soul she cried unending tears of shame. ♦ Davian crawled to his feet, the great explosion still lingering in the air and throwing sparks all about, and he shook his head.. Fahrina.. But it could not be! She could not be the High Priestess! He had buried his old life deep within him as he had studied the dark Arts, hate and loss moulding him into a creature of darkness, a man with steel for heart and stone for soul... His past had become non-existent for him, a dream within a dream that gradually had disolved in his mind until there was nothing left at all. Nothing. Or so he had thought. But now, confronted by this impossibility that clearly was the woman he had loved so much, all those memories he thought he had buried for good came flooding back. And they tore mightily at his dark soul. Not Fahrina!! Noooo!! He knew it was her, whatever she now called herself, and though he now had become a man without compassion, a man without the ability to love, part of his heart still remembered … and hated the thought of having to kill her.. There was a conflict of emotions within him and it paralyzed his actions for a moment. Cursing at this turn of events, he shook his head in confusion and tried to collect himself. Part of him demanded that he get on with it and destroy this final obstacle to his plans, but an other part of him screamed ‘no’. His internal struggle went on for some time, until the stronger part of his will won out. The darkness within him was just too powerful; his descent into evil had changed him too much. Brushing aside all thoughts of who she was, removing those memories from his heart and soul, he gathered all his powers as he faced the High Priestess and started speaking words of power.. He saw her raise her arms but then lower them again. Puzzled, he watched as she just stood there, but he could not believe that she would avoid defending herself. When his spell was ready, almost unaware that he had in fact gone for a capturing-spell rather than one of destruction, he directed it at the High Priestess - and released it. To his astonishment he saw it strike the woman - and remain. She had not deflected it! She was now bound in a ‘Web of Holding’. A small part of him screamed at him to undo what he had done, but he quenched the small fire of memory and instead, jubilant inside, prepared himself for the next part. There was no need to kill her just yet. She was immobilized and would not be able to interfere with what he was going to do. He would kill her later. Gathering his strength, he was ready for his main task: it was time to challenge the Gods! Focusing on all his knowledge and spells, he brought forth from his memory the spell he needed. The forbidden words. The Words of Unmaking ♦ Drawing on the ancient and forbidden powers deep within him, he struck with all his might, with monumental force at the heavens above, mouthing the words of Unmaking! Breaking his way into the Realm of the Gods. Awesome thunderclaps shook the world - and the skies slowly turned red as fire, as the forbidden spell was released. At last, it is time!! Davian burned with passion and euphoria. And with enormous anticipation. He gloried in his action. A force of tremendous power erupted from within him, shooting into the sky, carrying him ever upwards. He was surrounded by brilliant light, almost too dazzling to behold. Another thunderclap shook the skies, and yet another, and lightning flew forth, striking down at the mountain below, where the High Priestess watched in stunned awe and fear, powerless to act! She saw Davian carried ever higher and higher, a figure wrapped in power mightier than any other mortal. Then he suddenly stopped his ascent, faced upward and she heard him scream a command of incredible power, after which came a crashing sound loud enough to level mountains - and then the world went black! ▀▄
  20. .. The Moment of Truth .. ►▼◄ Davian stepped out of the nothingness and closed the way behind him. He stood now atop one of the mountain tops high above Anixhar, a summit with space for fifty men at least abreast. It was windy and cold up here but he cared nothing for that, cloaking himself in his spells. His eyes shone with fury and he readied the spell that would destroy this impertinent High Priestess, once and for all! He did not have time for this nonsense, the clash with the Gods was coming! Cursing for perhaps the twentieth time since leaving the Temple grounds, he waited for his adversary to appear. He knew she would not be far behind. Brave she was, this Servant of Anithar, however foolish! He sensed the opening of the way before he saw anything and knew that she was coming out on the opposite side of the mountain top. He mouthed the words to the spell he wanted, and … ♦ Entering through the corridor between.. Benahlia spoke to her Goddess and stepped carefully onto the mountain top. Protected, she did not feel any of the cold from the freezing winds. She stopped and stared around her carefully. She could see noone. But of a sudden out of nowhere a stab of lightning struck right where she stood, throwing her to the ground. She just had time to erect a shield of protection around her, an act which in fact saved her life. As it was, with the second lethal strike on target, she was stunned for a long moment as she tried to regain her senses. Carefully she scrambled up and onto her feet and stared off toward the other side of the mountain top. There she could see some movement and part of a figure - and she raised her hands. Praying to her Goddess she mouthed words of magic.. ♦ The stab of lightning struck just where he had planned and he saw the figure of the High Priestess fall to the ground. He threw another deadly bolt at her but the strike was deflected. Grinning with glee, he waited to see if she was beaten. He sensed more than he saw that she was still alive, and so readied another spell. As he was about to throw a fireball at her, he sensed a great power-surge from where she must be and then a ball of light came right at him! He swore under his breath and just managed to deflect the powerful strike with a shield of magic as it hit him, thowing him to the ground nonetheless. Thunder cracked high above and then lightning struck at him where he lay and he rolled to the side to evade the blast. He threw a bolt of lightning back at the High Priestess and saw it crash down close to where she stood. The skies opened then and bolt after bolt struck at them both, in a dazzling display of destruction, as if the Gods were at last tired of this mortal game of power. Climbing warily to his feet, he erected shield after shield around him, deflecting the blasts. He did not want to expend his power in this battle, but he seemed not to have much choice anymore - and so he mouthed the words to one of his more powerful spells. He could see the High Priestess coming to her feet as well, and facing him in the distance … She came closer … She was brave , that was for sure … Brave and foolish … ♦ Protecting herself from the multitude of lightning-bolts striking down at her from the heavens above, Benahlia wondered indeed if the Gods were trying to destroy her where she stood. Anithar, I cannot make it much longer. Help me! MY DAUGHTER , BE STRONG. Getting to her feet as the last strike was deflected off her magical shield, she breathed heavily and felt utterly exhausted. She stared with a fatigued look toward where the other figure stood on the other side, and by intuition - or perhaps it was something else.. - she started walking toward him, determination struggling with tiredness in her eyes. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. IT IS YOUR MOMENT OF TRUTH, CHOSEN ONE. The whispers of Anithar registered in her mind and she took courage from them as she neared her adversary. When she was still fifty feet away from him she stopped and raised her hands. ”I will destroy you now, evil one!” Her scream reverberated among the mountains and her harsh warning gave her added strength in herself - and she directed a fireball of light straight at him! She saw him motion in the air and the fireball struck an invisible wall, evaporating. She looked closer at him. There was something familiar about his posture …. something she recognized … something … ♦ Davian threw up a wall of protection and the fireball struck and was gone. He looked carefully but with hate in his eyes at the woman who neared him and ….. something about her made him hesitate … There was something … something familar.. about the way she walked …. He shook his head, and raised his hands to end her once and for all, a deadly spell on his lips … but then … then … ♦ She drew on all her power and hurled it at him, but just as she did so she saw who he was, recognized his posture for what it was, and a memory of a memory deep within her pushed its way through, making her scream in shock and agony.. ”Noooooo!! Daviaaan!!” ♦ He stared and for a second in time, which could have been an eternity, his mind reeled as he watched the woman standing some way off, hands raised … She was familiar … A memory dragged itself up within him ... a memory and emotion … It cannot be! He struck out with his power just as reminiscence took him, and he cried with a mixture of fury, hate, love and loss, a wrenching scream which shook the surroundings.. Noooooo!! Not you! Fahrina !! Nooooooo!! Their powerful strikes both missed their targets, whether as a result of fate or simple luck.. But for both, the world went spinning …! ♦ Benahlia felt her legs give way - so stunned was she by the revelation - and dropped to the ground like a sack, unable to pick herself up again. Anithar, nooooo!! She begged of her Goddess. Don`t ask this of me!! Noooo!! Not this!! It cannot be!! She shook as if all the power within her was streaming out of her, as if all the energy was driving through her and killing her, and her heart was tearing apart. Tears ran in streams down her chins and her eyes overflowed. CHOSEN ONE, I AM SORRY BUT WHAT IS, IS. YOU MUST DO WHAT MUST BE DONE. Anithar`s whispers in her mind almost did not register at first, so shaken was she by this impossible revelation. And in that moment, as she lay in despair on that mountain top, she realised in her heart that she had, in truth, never stopped loving Davian after all. And that fact now almost destroyed her sanity. Anithar, I cannot.. She cried. It is too much.. ▀▄
  21. PART 5: To Trust One’s Fate .. A Battle of Power .. ►▼◄ Davian cursed under his breath as the deadly bolt of light struck not far from where he stood. This High Priestess, whoever she was, was more powerful and resourceful than he had anticipated. More importantly, however, he did not dare expend all his power now. The war with the Gods was what really mattered, for war it would become, but first he had to remove this bothersome obstacle. He moved a little off to the east and called upon his dark magic. The spell was hardly mouthed before a strike of lightning flew from his hands, aimed at the half-seen figure in the distance. He saw the figure - was it blue-cloaked? - throw up a shield around herself and deflect the strike, though staggering a little. Cursing again, he readied another spell when suddenly a bolt of starlike white fire came straight at him, and he had to throw himself onto the ground and roll to the side in order to avoid it. She is even stronger than I thought! I must not underestimate her again! The angry thought burned in his mind as he erected a strong shield around him. It deflected a second strike moments later. In the few moments as he saw the lightening-bolt come toward him, he heard the High Priestess’ defiant shriek over all the clamour - and felt a strange instant of recognition.. That voice.. how can it be familiar..? The moment passed quickly, however, and his thoughts returned to the danger at hand. Real danger. I have to change strategy, he thought darkly. Too much of my power is being spent this way. He considered his options and then made his decision. Sending another lethal bolt of fire toward his adversary, he spoke a single word of power - and disappeared. His voice, however, reverberated across the Temple gardens and Benahlia, standing focused in the distance, heard the words well despite the thundering noise all around her. ”High Priestess, stand down or you will be destroyed. Your power is no match for mine. If you continue with this foolishness, you will meet your death!” ♦♦♦ Benahlia stopped in her tracks. For some reason the voice coming at her from the distance seemed a little familiar.. How could that be? Who..? She pondered on the strange recognition for a few seconds, but then the moment passed and she put it out of her mind, having far more important matters to focus on. She, herself, had screamed in defiance at her enemy a little earlier, her anger building and her frustration growing. There was much destruction in the Temple gardens and she considered returning to her sister to coordinate the defense of the Temple grounds, but something inside her pushed her onwards. She had to continue. There was no other choice for her. I need to finish this! ♦ Pulling the Sphere of Anithar from her dress, a ferocious smile came upon her face. With her Silver hair flying behind her in the wind and her face glowing fiercely she almost looked like a Battle-Queen out of Legend. Her mouth and jaws were set in a stubborn line and her violet eyes gleamed with dedication as she called upon her Goddess to aid her. ”Anithar, it is time.” She whispered the words but she knew that her Lady of Light would hear and understand. MY DAUGHTER, YOUR WILL IS MINE. WE ARE ONE. She held the Sphere of Anithar high and its blue brilliance grew as it filled with power. Before long a star was in their midst, shining so brightly that she was barely able to look upon it. The blue sphere glowed stronger and stronger - and then it left Benahlia’s hand and shot upwards into the air with a crash of thunder! ANITHAR, MEAS TELISIHR!! The High Priestess’ scream pierced the thunder above. Light enveloped her and she radiated power. She was ablaze - and her heart burned with the Fire of Anithar! With a fierce look upon her face, she faced in the direction of her enemy, raised her one arm - and was gone! Thunder cracked across the heavens. ♦ A whisper remained on the wind, when the heavens finally went silent. An echo from Beyond.. AND SO IT IS BEGUN. THE TIME OF DESTINY IS HERE. BE EVER STRONG, DAUGHTER OF THE GODS. REMEMBER, WE ARE ONE. ♦♦♦ Davian finished the spell - and reality changed about him. Damn, this is not going according to plan! Muttering darkly, thunder cracking about him, strikes coming at him from that deadly blue object of power in the sky, he bent reality - that was the way he envisioned it in any case - he bent the here and now and stepped into a place inbetween.. Into darkness. Only then was he safe from the deadly strikes from above. ♦ Benahlia, the High Priestess of her Order, stepped out of thin air - with the blue Sphere of Anithar burning brightly high above her - and headed straight toward the place where her foe had stood. As she arrived there she sensed the residue of the dark spell in the air. She was sensitive to such spells, her Goddess had empowered her with many abilities, and she used her knowledge to detect what the dark Magician - for it had to be a dark Magician, and one of great might! - had done. Giving another silent prayer to Anithar, she waited as the spell that she needed to follow the Evil one came to mind. She spoke the words of magic, thunder striking the skies another time, and then the air before her shimmered as if it were bending in on itself.. She could not have described it any better.. She immediately stepped into the nothingness behind, and was gone from sight. As she entered the blackness of this new reality - wherever it was - she screamed defiantly. The Fire of her Light made her voice become an avalanche of sound. ”You will not escape me, pawn of the Shadow. I am the High Priestess of Anithar - and I am coming!” ▀▄
  22. .. Facing the Shadow .. ►▼◄ Davian, dark mage and disciple of the Shadow, stared hatefully up at the Temple of Minthan, which shone with an unnatural glimmer up in the mountains. Now, the time is come. He readied the spell he had in mind. A feverish glow came upon his face, a thrill going through his entire body, a feeling of ecstacy burning in his soul. I will be Master! His most destructive spells he saved for later. They were ready for him to use if necessary, but he would need to conserve his strength until his clash with the Gods. Removing the obstacle that was the High Priestess would be the easier part; destroying the Gods would be the true challenge. But I have learned the secrets and power to do exactly that! He thought with certainty. The secrets are mine to exploit. And I will do so! He had indeed become much more powerful than his Master and even his God knew, having searched for and found through the past few years knowledge undecipherable even for most dark mages. But not for the very clever and extremely resilient Davian. And dearest of all his findings, were the Scrolls. He had no idea who had written them and did not really care. The important thing was that they revealed the forbidden secrets of Unmaking. The Scrolls of Unmaking will make me a God. Oh yes, glory is at hand! His eyes glittered with ambition. With a motion of his hand, his dark cloak fluttering in the cold wind sweeping down on him from the mountain-reaches above, he disappeared into thin air. ♦♦♦ She stood in the Temple gardens once more, this time with her two sister-Priestesses beside her. They were praying, as afternoon flowed into evening, the dark enveloping the mountains and all of Anixhar. Benahlia could still not feel her Goddess’ presence and that worried her a little, though not overmuch. Anithar was with her in her heart, she knew it - and she would be there to lend her strength when the time came. A cold wind touched her blue dress, making it swirl around her where she stood. A chill pierced through to her skin and she shivered slightly. She saw her sisters feeling the cold as well and considered going inside for the remainder of their prayer. Just as she was about to speak out to the Priestesses, her eyes widened. A feeling came over her.. of recognition. Anithar. Then a whisper broke through her thoughts.. MY DAUGHTER, THE SHADOW IS COME. STAND READY. A warm thrill ran through her, both at her Goddess’ return and at her words. She stared around her carefully and spoke quickly to her sisters, warning them too. They all gazed around them but it was not easy to see much in the falling darkness. Benahlia spoke words of magic then and a ball of brilliant white light erupted from her palm and rose high into the air, coming to a standstill far above the Temple grounds. It shone brightly, illuminating the whole area. The High Priestess took in her surroundings but saw nothing to alarm her. She shook her head and probed with her senses, letting her magic float out across the gardens, seeking some hint of danger. She knew she was attuned to the Light of Anithar and so would feel, or so she believed, if there was something of the Shadow there. There was nothing. Still.. she heeded her Goddess’ warning. ”Sisters. Our enemy is out there somewhere.” She spoke. “Be ready..” As the words passed her lips, she suddenly sensed something far off to the south of the gardens - and her face tightened. There was something there.. Something.. Out of nowhere a bolt of liquid fire streamed toward her and she barely had time to throw herself to the side and scream a warning to the others as the bolt missed her by a short distance. Gasping, she got to her feet and threw a fireball in the direction from whence the attack had come. Another bolt of fire came toward her and this time she was more prepared as she conjured a magical shield around her which deflected the attack. She was pushed back, however, and retreated a ways to get her bearings. Over to the right she saw one of her sisters throw bolts of light in the direction of their enemy while fire rained down on her. She screamed, only partially shielding herself, and sunk to the ground in pain. On Benahlia’s other side the other sister was faring better, returning fire with fire, bolt with bolt. One thing was clear to the High Priestess: this enemy, whoever it was, was very powerful since it was able to fight on three fronts simultaneously, against three magically very able Priestesses. Anithar, heed my prayers. I need you, my Lady of Light! ♦ The thought swept though her mind. The attacks continued for a few moments more and then stopped altogether. Only silence remained - and burning fires. Benahlia ran across to her wounded sister, making sure to avoid the plentiful fires littering the Temple grounds, and bent over her to take a look at her injuries. The sister had burns down her one side but nothing seemed critical. The High Priestess sighed in relief. Praying to Anithar for healing powers, she spoke silently to her sister, holding her tenderly, as she healed most of her burnt skin. When she was done, she waited with her sister in case the attack would commence. Nothing happened - and finally the High Priestess lead her sister inside the Temple for further care. Whatever threath remained, she and her second sister would have to deal with it on their own. As she walked back into the gardens, keeping a wary lookout for any danger, she wondered why the enemy had stopped his attack. Was this some ploy to catch them unawares? She reached her second sister and they spoke in low whispers as they considered the situation. Should they wait, or should they go on the offensive and try to find their attacker? Part of her urged for caution, but Benahlia felt impatience gnawing at her. And with impatience came anger. Anger at this violation of the sacred Temple grounds. Anger at the attack and injury of her sister. Anger at this assault on the forces of Light. It was necessary to act. She was certain of it. As if in affirmation of her decision, her Goddess chose that moment to give her her support. MY CHILD, BE STRONG. I AM WITH YOU. ♦ Moving slowly and purposefully, Benahlia, High Priestess of Anithar, headed for where she thought her adversary was hiding. Her sister remained behind to guard the path from the Temple gardens to the Temple itself. She had wanted to come, but saw the reasoning behind the command. Benahlia had a second`s warning out of the corner of her eye before the strike of lightning flew at her from a little way to the east, and she threw a strong shield around her just in time which deflected the strike and it dissipated in a swirl of flames. She had to stop for a moment and take a breath, however. Mouthing another silent prayer to Anithar, she then continued on her path. At one point, a little later, she gathered the power inside her and pointed into the distance, striking out with the force of light. Her eyes shone with determination as she watched the resulting explosion. ▀▄
  23. .. The God of Death .. ►▼◄ Kneeling on the marble floor in the Hall of Darkness, Davian remained silent. Inside his mind, on the other hand, his thoughts were very much alive and active. And above all, they were hidden from his God. YOU HAVE DONE WELL, YOUNG MAGE. The voice in his mind was very powerful and Davian had to concentrate hard to avoid letting the God into his thoughts. If there appeared cracks in the shield protecting his thoughts the God of Death would be able to read his plans - and that would probably mean the end of Davian. He was almost as strong as Xunthir, but a direct confrontation at this time could prove fatal for him. He would fight the Gods, but at the right time and place of his choosing. OUR POWER IS GROWING. As the God spoke through the statue, a transparent fog cloaked them all in darkness. IT WILL SOON BE TIME. Then suddenly his God spoke to him and him alone. DAVIAN. For a second, as the voice in his mind paused, the young mage had a frightening vision of having been discovered. His nerves calmed, however, as the God continued. YOU HAVE DONE WELL. OUR GOAL IS CLOSE AT HAND. YOU WILL BE WELL REWARDED, AS I HAVE PROMISED. Davian bowed where he knelt, keeping his thoughts to himself. YOU KNOW I CANNOT CHANGE THE EDICTS OF THE GODS, FOOLISH THOUGH THEY ARE - AND SO I CANNOT INTERVENE MYSELF. BUT YOU WILL BE MY HAND OF DARKNESS, DAVIAN. ”Yes, Master. I am ever grateful. I shall succeed.” GO NOW, DISCIPLE OF THE SHADOW - AND DESTROY THAT REMAINING OBSTACLE TO OUR CONQUEST. DESTROY THE TEMPLE OF MINTHAR - DESTROY THE HIGH PRIESTESS OF ANITHAR! ♦♦♦ Benahlia held the Sphere of Anithar in her hand. It was a blue glowing object of power and it bubbled with energy. She spoke words of power and the sphere rose into the air emitting a loud buzzing sound. It then started rotating and a web of light streamed out from its centre, soon covering the entire room. The High Priestess screamed a new command and lightning flew forth from the sphere, hitting a wall of air at the other end of the room with a boom. Moving her arm she directed the lightning at another corner of the room. Sparkles flew and the energy in the room could be be felt by all. Off to the side, her two sister-Priestesses watched in awe. She spoke more words of power. The sphere grew in size and energies shot out from its centre again, making for a dazzling display of light. The High Priestess directed the flows with increasing confidence and her eyes glittered as she worked. She increased the power and the sphere now glowed like a star in their midst, producing a loud gasp from one of the sisters! The other sister shielded her eyes. Benahlia then reduced the energy coming from the sphere and watched as it gradually dimmed in power. At last the High Priestess lowered her arms and the glowing sphere returned to her hand, its inner power disappearing. She nodded in satisfaction, pleased that the training session had gone so well. They needed all the help they could get before the coming battle - it was going to be ferocious, of that she felt sure - and she had insisted that they train as much as possible with their powers so that they would be as ready as they could be. “Your powers are growing, High Priestess.” Said one of her sisters. She smiled, nodding approvingly.. “Yes, they are formiddable.” Said the other sister. She seemed still in awe and a little afraid after the display. “I feel the powers growing in me, sisters.” Said Benahlia with a pleased smile. “I just wish Anithar were here with me.” They nodded, understanding her meaning. The Goddess had not returned, or at least that was the way Benahlia had explained it, and the High Priestess was a little concerned. She felt the touch of Anithar in her heart, and knew she ought to focus on what lay ahead, but she really wanted to feel her Goddess’ presence right now, to speak to her, to confer. I must be patient, she thought to herself. Trust has been put in me. I must focus. She looked at her sisters and smiled reassuringly. “Sisters, we must keep practicing. Come join me!” They came to her eagerly - and soon the air was full of magic. ♦♦♦ Leaving the Hall of Darkness, Davian headed for his quarters. On his way through the corridors beneath the Temple of Shadow he passed several Priests of Xunthir in their dark robes who stared in partial awe, partial disgust at this First Servant of the Shadow. Many feared, rightly, that he thought primarily of himself and would betray the cause if he thought he could benefit from it. He was too powerful, however, to be confronted with the accusation, but whispers about him floated around the priesthood. Davian knew of this and, frankly, did not care. It pleased him to know that they feared him and held him in some awe. It was no more than he deserved, he thought. He had bowed abjectly to his God in the Hall and had promised to do his bidding. Now he grinned darkly, certain that the mighty Xunthir had no suspicion about the young mage’s private designs and ambitions. Entering his bedchamber, he put a ward on the room and threw himself on the double bed, his face gleaming with pleasure. They have no idea. No idea at all! He laughed to himself until there was no more mirth left in him. Staring fixedly at the ceiling, his fists clenched and unclenched. His eyes became fierce and his face set. I will serve as long as His mission is the same as mine, Davian the Magician thought. Then, I will do what must be done - and I will become a God! It is my destiny! But first I will destroy you, High Priestess of Anithar, whoever you are! Beware, Lady! I am coming for you! ▀▄
  24. .. The Fire of Ambition .. ►▼◄ To shield his thoughts from anyone, even the Gods, was perhaps Davian’s greatest accomplishment. He had found the secret in an ancient book of sorcery long thought lost. “Mirrors of the Mind” The book had been on an old shelf at the back of a discarded underground library on an island far to the north. Another book, already in Davian’s posession, had given mention of secret books of dark sorcery lost in the north and so the young mage had gone on a journey to try and recover some of these lost treasures. It had taken both time and resources - as well as a good portion of luck - to find some of these lost texts, but he had been successful - as he most often was with all tasks he undertook - and “Mirrors of the Mind” had been the most precious book of them all. Perhaps the Key to everything.. To manage this spell, for a spell it was, the practitioner had to be extraordinarily strong in mind and in the Art. Few had been strong enough up through the centuries. Davian presumed that was one of the main reasons why this ‘spell of thought-shielding’ had remained hidden. This special ability given him by the spell, gave him the greatest of advantages. His ambition was a fire burning inside him and he kept feeding the flames, going over the plans in his mind time and time again to make sure nothing would go wrong. Staring into the cold night, his eyes almost turned feverish with desire as he thought about his destiny. The ultimate prize awaits! The greatest of dreams. He was going to do the unthinkable, the impossible. Nothing is impossible if you have strength and ambition, he thought eagerly. Gazing at the stars above, at the darkness blanketing the heavens, Davian grinned greedily. Madness shone in his eyes, but he brushed it aside as if of no concern - all that mattered to him was Power. Ultimate Power. And for that he was willing to do anything. For the ultimate prize I will sacrifice everything. The whole world if need be. His eyes shining, his whole body quivering with delight, he thought with burning passion of what he was about to do. He, Davian, was going to challenge the Gods! ♦♦♦ Staring silently at the great statue of Anithar in the Hall of the Gods, Benahlia, High Priestess and head of her Order, wondered why her Goddess had abandoned her. Her prayers had not been answered for several days and it was as if her Goddess had disappeared for good. I am all alone. She discarded that foolish notion quickly, however. She felt the dormant fire in the middle of her being and knew that in a way Anithar would always be with her, even if she were not always able to speak to her greatest and foremost disciple and follower in the world of mortals. Benahlia was alone in the great Hall and it seemed to her even more immense than before, even more overwhelming, even more daunting and impressive. Turning to face the two other great statues of the Gods in the Hall, she for a second felt slight doubt creep up on her. What can I do that the Gods cannot? Even as the thought left her mind, she scolded herself. Believe in yourself, daughter of Anithar! You are the chosen one, show your strength in yourself! She grinned to herself then, a grin which grew into a wide smile as she imagined her Goddess speaking to her in tones of reproach. A chuckle passed her lips and she left the Hall behind thinking wryly that Anithar had perhaps heard her disciple`s foolish doubt. ♦ She walked regally and with great self-assurance along the corridors of the Temple, passing several servants on their way who all as one bowed deeply to her as she passed, and finally she entered her quarters and shut the door behind her. She sat down before the huge bronze mirror which took up half of one wall and looked carefully at her own reflection in the mirror. Her long Silver hair flowed down her shoulders and back and the violet eyes - which it had taken her a good while to get used to - stared firmly back at her from her own reflection. You are strong enough, daughter of Anithar. This is your destiny and you know it. She nodded as if in confirmation to herself and started to turn away when suddenly there was another reflection in the mirror! She gasped, taken completely unawares, and turned to look for the Unicorn behind her, for that was what she had seen! Her eyes swept over the whole room but there was nobody there but her! A shiver ran down her spine and she turned slowly back toward the mirror, expecting the reflection to be gone.. It was not! What is happening..? There was something familiar about the wonderous creature but she could not at first say what. There was something she was supposed to remember, she knew that … something …. DAUGHTER OF ANITHAR, IT IS SOON TIME. YOU MUST BE READY. The voice in her mind was softer than that of her Goddess, soft and clear and.. .. familiar somehow.. ”Who are …?” Her question was never completed. The Unicorn understood, however. There was clear intelligence in those eyes and they stared at the High Priestess with intensity and purpose. I AM LAVINDHAR, CHILD OF THE GODDESS ANITHAR. ♦ The words imprinted themselves on her mind. She still looked questioningly at the creature, memory returning to her.. of.. a dream.. ”But why …?” I AM ONE OF THE CHILDREN OF THE GODS . WE ARE IMMORTAL BEINGS WHO SERVE OUR MASTERS AND MISTRESSES. AND NOW I HAVE BEEN CALLED UPON TO GIVE YOU A WARNING. A warning …? Benahlia mouthed the word silently … THE TIME OF DESTINY IS COMING, MY CHILD. BE READY, FOR YOU ARE THE LAST HOPE OF THE WORLD. BE READY FOR YOUR GREATEST NIGHTMARE. With that the Unicorn was gone.. and as its reflection disappeared from the mirror the High Priestess finally recalled where she had seen the creature before.. My dream.. It was in my dream.. The dream that had been more than just a dream. Getting to her feet, she walked slowly out onto her balcony and stared quietly out at the mountains ranged all about the region. The time is coming Anithar had told her so and now one of her chief servants - one of her immortal children - had confirmed it. Darkness was coming, and she, High Priestess of Anithar, was the champion of their cause. A cold wind swept over the Temple and she shivered and put her arms around herself, shielding herself from the cold. She remained standing there for a long time with a determined look on her face. ♦♦♦ Far away, on the island of Panthiar, in the secret Hall of Darkness, the young dark mage stared up at the statue of another God, but this one the God of Death, Xunthir. ”Greatest Master, I have done your bidding. My Master and I have prepared the way.” The huge black-marble statue reverberated with power. Its black eyes slowly opened and Davian went to his knees. A cold whisper spread through the Hall and chilled all those present. Then the dark God spoke. ▀▄
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