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Old Fri, 30th Oct '09, 5:10pm   #26
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Noma watched in awe and surprise as the winged giant helped her to the other shore, baffled by such generosity.

She noticed how his wing looked and winced slightly, against herself. He'd been hurt to start with and helped her, regardless. She was ashamed that another had endangered himself for her.

The elegant bow made her smile and filled her with sympathy.

"Thank you. You didn't have to do that, I would have crossed..." *she took her needle, shaking away whatever thought occurred to her* "I am Nomainde Luth-Ola, but Noma will do just fine. I'll gladly help, if I can."

She came closer, examining Justice with open curiosity. Hesitantly, Noma extended her hand and gently touched the injured wing, half-wondering if she was being too brash. The wing-feathers were wondrously soft.

"We better get you dry and warm first, though. The water and the cold will do you more harm then this cut." *she frowned at the sewered tendons, worried. It would probably hurt to sew them back and she didn't want to hurt anyone.*


One of the ice slabs had been caught on the shore and the branches on it still burned. Noma dragged them to a place clear of snow and started tending to the fire. She would need fine threads. Once again the cauldron steamed with melting snow. Noma took a small bundle from her pack. Wrapped up in mulberry leaves were a few shiny cocoons. She threw two of them in the boiling water.

The lake glittered, freed from the ice that caged and protected it for so long. Change had come. The broken bond in Noma hummed softly.
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Old Fri, 30th Oct '09, 7:24pm   #27
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Night terrors and dreams plagued the sleep of the aging immortal, letting growls and yells escape from between the grinding teeth. Icy sweat plastered the silver hair to Vaa'iyl's alabaster forehead. The eyes in his skull began to glow their customary ivory white.

An eagle against a bright blue sky, far in the distance, larger than any Man had ever seen. A call echoed from her direction, motivating a massive flock of birds to flee their tree-bound home. She circled aimlessly, as if she were hunting - the circles were wide, almost too wide to be specific to one creature. A voice hung in the air.

Elwithral.

Where have you gone?

I cannot feel you near me.. Have you become lost?


A flash and the scene changed - now the night had come and stars took the place of clouds, illuminating the vast wingspan of the grand predator. The moon cast her shadow stretching across the valley below. A sense of imminent danger permeated the scene and an urgency claimed the speed and frequency of her wing-beats.

Elwithral!

I am frightened - it has been two months since I have contacted you last!

Not for a moment have I slowed my search.. I am so very frightened, Elwithral.

Please, if this is a jest, I will have no more of it!


The silken voice crackled with emotion. The beating of the wings slowed defeatedly. Clouds returned, and the mood fell. A raindrop - and then another, and another - the clouds opened up, letting the River of Heaven flow down onto the Earth. The heavy droplets weighed upon her wings, taking her down towards the floor of the valley. On a plain of gold, the eagle folded her wings behind her and closed her eyes. Softly, the voice faded away..

Elwithral.. where are you? .. I love you.. Please! Why have you left me? ...

Vaa'iyl awoke with a gasp, clutching at his dagger. Hot tears streamed down his face, warming the skin. Breathing heavily, he looked to the ceiling - the lantern hanging there had been long extinguished. The half-breed pulled his knees to his chest and began to sob.
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Old Fri, 30th Oct '09, 11:31pm   #28
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It was in the darkest hours of the night, just before dawn, when Malar awoke. He lay there quietly watching the ceiling flutter and sway with passing drafts of icy wind. He sat up gingerly, as a millenarian, his bones felt the ache of damp and chill. As he rubbed his wind burnt face, he checked his companion who slept fitfully. He grimaced at the angry white torment that sullied his once perfect flesh. Malar sighed, releasing every bit of air from his lungs. He did not take another breath, he had no need. Breathing was no longer a necessity, merely a duty performed from a thousand years of practice.

He stood up silently and smoothly, the air did not stir at his passing. Vaa'iyl eyes flashed open, a bright spark of white in the darkness. Quick like the burst of a match, they closed. Do be quiet would you. Malar grinned, and kicked an uncovered boot. The Sun's set to rise, I feel it will be extraordinarily beautiful today. Vaa'iyl mocked disinterest and yawned hugely. Malar grinned once more, donned his cloak and boots, and pushed aside the pelt to welcome the world.

He has snowed much in their low valley, a three foot high drift was draped against their small shelter. He glanced back towards Vaa'iyl who was slowly rising, then crunched out into the newly white world. His gaze locked onto the mountain that separated him from his prey. He was now far behind, but that didn't bother him, he had time.

"I trust you will be alright without me?" He was answered by a snow ball to the back of his head. Or that's where it was intended, Malar didn't turn but merely leaned as the ball ambled past to land with a low thud some yards away. "After I finish my business with these mountains, I am thinking somewhere warm. I'll see you there." He didn't look back as he eased his pack onto his shoulders, and trudged off. His bald head reflected the light of the rising red Sun.
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Old Fri, 30th Oct '09, 11:38pm   #29
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Getting warm and dry did feel better, and even if being cold and wet wouldn't hurt Justice, he could understand mortals' desire to not be so. He sat on a rock so that Noma could better look at where his wing joined his shoulder, and noticed her hesitation.

"Don't worry about causing me pain, I can't feel any. Oh, I am aware of damage being done to my body, and I do endeavor to avoid it when I can, but you won't hurt me." He reached into his robes and pulled out a small shiny dagger. Handing it to her he said, "It may be that you will need to cut some tissue away to access what needs to be sewn up and reattached, if so you might not have anything that can cut my flesh and bone. This will."
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Old Sat, 31st Oct '09, 12:47am   #30
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As the image of Malar faded into a tiny speck in the distance, Vaa'iyl's face resumed its regular jovial expression. Seeing his old friend again had renewed his interest in living and breathing, pushing aside the magical obsession for the time being. The night terror from hours prior still haunted his subconcious, though seeing Ellesime had somewhat lightened his mood. Shaking off the morning stiffness, he quickly shoved the makeshift shelter back into his pack, drying the damp yeti skin as he went.

With the camp and all his belongings in check, Vaa'iyl closed his eyes and let the wind take him, like a leaf caught in a spring breeze. Feeling the warm and cool currents move him across the sky, he opened his eyes and slowly breathed in the refreshing air, becoming weightless and free. Release. Above the clouds, he again heard Ellesime's voice calling to him, this time with a light disposition. He remembered her broad muscles flexing beneath his thighs as she carried him across countries and valleys and mountains and deserts. Vaa'iyl smiled.
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Old Sat, 31st Oct '09, 4:08am   #31
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Noma accepted the dagger, thoughtful. So this was indeed a Justice, come from a Power, if no blade of hers would cut him. Not mortal. The thought she had only begun to fully understand. He was Justice - would he judge her for what has been done? A moment of relief. Fear. Uncertainty.

She would have to ask, but now was not the time. He was Justice, but first and foremost, he was an injured creature. Noma understood that. Had it not been her duty to mend?

The strains of mist and silk glistened, wrapped around the needle of bone.
Carefully she had plucked the silk from the cauldron, spinning it softly. This had to be a gentle weave. Warmth of the fire would do. Life in breath would do.

"I'll try to do this swiftly." *she said and cut into the wing, leaning close. Determined. Hesitation brought pain. She sought out the severed ends and whispered softly words that would be prayers, only no Power would take them as their own. Kind words of healing. She knitted them into the flesh, binding it, afraid of every move she made. This was different then anything she had ever done and yet, the same as she always had, while her Lord had lived.

She had taken off her gloves, to feel better what she did and on her left wrist dangled a bronze bracelet with what seemed like five coins. They jingled one against other like pebbles would, but if you looked close, you'd see that they were not coins at all, but irises. Five human irises, in five colours. She took this ornament off and laid it carefully on the snow next to the rock. She met the eyes of Justice as she did so.

"Don't be alarmed. They are all mine. Where I am from, we go through eyes as others would through hats and daggers. When the world we look upon tire us and fills our eyes, we shed them and take on a new pair, to always see what is new. As tears wash away the colours, some eyes are more easily spent."

There was again, apology in her words. She didn't know what sort of Justice this was.


Noma worked on the wing for some time, too absorbed to notice that the fire had died out and the sun had risen high above the forest. When she had finally finished, she needed something to cover the gash - and she spun the mist that hid in the feathers of the wing, along with the softness. Across it, she had wanted to put a white woolen shawl, but she realised that Justice would not need such a reminder, not to re-open wounds that should be left well alone.


"Do you eat?" *she asked, as she watched Justice try to flap the mended wing*
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Old Sat, 31st Oct '09, 2:40pm   #32
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Justice flapped his wings, gently at first, then an almost full power downsweep to test the repair. It was good. He would wait a good time before stressing it with flight, but it should be fine given enough time.

"Please accept my sincere gratitude for your service. You have done a skillful job." he told Noma. "I do not need sustainance, but I am able to consume edibles when my assignments require me to partake in mortals' social protocols, which often include eating and drinking various symbolic food stuffs and beverages. In fact, I have found that I actually enjoy some of the distilled beverages. So, I would be glad to break bread with you, that is if you have a sufficient supply for yourself."

He noted many signs in Noma of a person who had something grievous to confess, but wasn't quite yet ready to fully face the truth. The Law was patient, and so was Justice. He was certain that the truth would eventually find its way out.
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Old Sat, 31st Oct '09, 8:27pm   #33
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No one spoke like that. Noma listened, amused. There was something charmingly innocent in the way Justice treated words - giving each the care and deliberation of thoughts seeking Truth. No falsehoods. It was only fair to give the same in return.

She took out what food she had, also wishing "distilled beverages" were around.

"Let us not call it bread-breaking, though. We'd need better bread for that." *she smiled*

No, not bread-breaking. How can a Justice bring judgement, if the bond of bread is in the way? If her blood was the price, let it flow freely.
Noma refused the word-shelter offered, turning her back on the lingering fear of death. It had no place with her, in thoughts of the broken bond.

She gave Justice his dagger back, as well.
What use would be such a weapon to her? She had no desire to hurt Justice, whatever judgement came.

"Who is this Herald you came to find? And the Law Giver? Are they here as well, like you, come from the sky?"

Noma remembered the falling star and the feeling of change it brought. Justice had come in its wake. Was he here to bring the escapee back to Heaven? Was, for a star to gaze in the Unknown, a crime on the Firmament? Noma didn't know. She knew nothing of Powers, aside from what he had taught her. And without him, words were dead. Meaningless.
Yet you've killed him in the name of his Belief. - her thoughts accused and Noma's happiness faded.

She looked in the eyes of Justice. She needed to know more of him. As grave as her loss had been and as horrible the action, she didn't presume herself the attention of the sky. Such a celestial Justice would not be the one she had come to face. She needed to know.
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Old Sun, 1st Nov '09, 4:21pm   #34
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Justice partook of the offered food. "Thank you, it is ... interesting." He looked up in the sky, now that it was getting lighter he could faintly see the stardust trail that the shooting star had left.

"I thought the star I saw was the Herald of the Law Giver, and that he had landed here. I may still be right, that it was my god's Herald, but he obviously landed farther east, if he landed at all. We should be able to track the star dust trail fairly well."

"The Law Giver is one of the first gods to exist, he is not the Creator, no, but he saw all of the chaos that the people were suffering under with no one to guide them, and he came to them and gave them the Law. Those who were able to see the truth of it, that is was better to be guided by a just reasoning, followed him to the Blessed Isle. Those who preferred to continue murdering, lying, and stealing remained on the mainland to wallow in their abysmal chaos.”

Justice smiled as he remembered the glorious early days. “The people built a majestic temple for the Law Giver to reign from, when he chose to be on the world and not in his star home. I was proud to be the pillar at the right of his throne, helping to hold up the vaulted roof of the temple. Of course, I was often called upon to enforce justice, as Chaos is ever attempting to worm its way into the world, no matter how righteous a person is. I will tell you with no false pride that many ballads were sung by the greatest bards of our people about my battles with the forces of Chaos.”

“The Herald was another one of the pillars of the temple, albeit not a central supporting one, as he was called upon so often to go about in the world addressing one or another Power or worldly potentate, that it would have weakened the roof to have his support so often absent.”

“Those were wonderful times, then, in the reign of Na-dukshan the thirty-fouth, a terrible sickness began to afflict our people. First the younglings succumbed to it. Our healers could do nothing against it, and neither could I, nor even the Law Giver. The second to last time I was called to administer Justice was shortly after Na-dukshan’s death. None of the immediate royal family was still alive, and there was a dispute between Bo’ Hauthketto the seventh and Zhang dam Dukshan the twelfth as to who was the rightful heir to the throne. As Bo’ Hauthketto was the fourth cousin of Na-dukshan’s great aunt’s first husband, and Zhang dam Dukshan was only the prince consort to Na-dukshan’s third wife’s youngest daughter, it was clear to me that Bo’ Hauthketto was the rightful heir, though since almost all of the Royal Law Keepers were also dead by that time, I understood why the remaining people thought it necessary to consult me on the matter.”

“At that time they had discovered the cause of the sickness, and had sent out healers to the mainland to search for a cure, and we were all very hopeful that one would be found in time to save the rest of our population. As there was nothing I could do to help, I returned to my post holding up the temple roof.”

“Then, two days ago, I was called upon again to administer Justice. To my amazement, the temple roof was no longer above my head. Only a few shattered stones and two other pillars were around me. And the beautiful City of the Law was nothing more than an overgrown jungle. Yet I had been righteously called forth. It was the soul of one of the healers who had been sent out to find a cure. He had found a cure, but he was murdered by one of the New Ones before he was able to return to the Island. To further the injustice of his unlawful death, his slayer then captured his soul. After a time he was somehow able to escape and make it back to the temple, where he entasked me to find his slayer.”

“This I did. He was one of the New Ones, though he looked rather wretched. He was encamped not far away from here up in the mountains. I confronted him and stated his crimes, but then another New One attacked me and threw me into the mountain. I tossed him aside and prepared to let them feel the Law Giver’s righteous wrath, but the Law Giver did not administer it.”

Justice raised his newly repaired wing. “It was at that time that the second New One attacked again with a powerful blade and damaged my wing. I was confused as to why the Law Giver did not administer a just punishment, but on reflection, I had accomplished my assigned task. The plaintiff had only ordered me to find his slayer. I believe that more compensation was necessary, but some people are more forgiving than others.”

“I left those New Ones. I tried to communicate with the Law Giver, but either I could not hear him or he could not hear me. Then, when night fell and the clouds cleared off, I saw with great consternation that his great all seeing eye was not in its celestial home. I’m not sure what that means, as I have never experienced it before. All I can imagine is that he is on some mission of great importance, either on this world, or elsewhere among the stars. When I saw the shooting star, I was sure it was the Herald, come to tell me news of our god.”

“You, Noma, know the rest of my story. And it would be uncouth of me to continue to bore you with the minor details of my journey from there to here.” She had finished eating and put away her kit during his monologue. “But what of your story? You seem to be yet young. Have your eyes seen so much sorrow in your short life that you have already used out five sets of them?”
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Old Mon, 2nd Nov '09, 11:39am   #35
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Noma listened quietly to the history Justice related. It was strange, hearing of people so long dead and events that no one knew took place anymore. It made her sad. All that remained of them was the memory of a Justice, whose Power, Noma feared, was long dead.

Yet, there was nothing on the world that would have forced her to speak these suspicions aloud to Justice. No one should know the death of faith. Besides, who was she to judge? The Blind Giant, as she knew the constellation Justice pointed out, was always there. Perhaps he was merely asleep?
Even if the Law Giver was dead, Justice lived. Belief was important, and Noma was willing to believe. As once, she had believed in him.

Perhaps the star had been the Herald. If so, she would help find him. An atonement as good as any other.

Noma touched the bracelet, playing with the iris-coins and letting them fall one after the other.

"My eyes have merely witnessed my choices. The Child, which we all leave behind. The Misguided, that sought out the world. The Bonded - that drew joy from Duty." *she stopped, moving swiftly past the last two* "I've ruined the others before their time."

He asked for the story.

"Can there be Law without people?" *she asked, more herself. Her soul did not answer. Tired of it all, Noma surrendered. She spoke slowly, watching the embers of the fire.*

"I knew a man once, a mortal, who followed Loyal Fury. He first taught me of Laws and Powers - of Honour. He was a warrior, speaking of Duty and Loyalty and willing to die to protect them. His Belief made his words appealing to me. I was happy to follow where he led. He was my Lord and my commander and wished to defend and protect all that was entrusted to him - I wished only to help keep him safe. We traveled together for a long time. Where I come from purpose is power. We form bonds with others - giving them our souls. We need to believe - regardless what the belief is - or we wither and vanish into nothing. My Bond was with him. He did not know, but I could not disobey anything he asked. A price of loyalty." *she smiled sadly*

"Then we were separated, on a place of hatred and madness, out on the Worlds Outside, through the gates. He was hurt and I was not fast enough, nor good enough, to find him. There were too many places in that one place - an infinite number of them, all evil and I couldn't see... I searched for a long time. When I finally met him, he was different. Broken. His own loyalty damned him. He no longer believed in his own words - words that I had etched in my bones so I would not forget. He did the biding of his foes. He betrayed himself - a thing that should not have been possible. It is a horrible thing to be alone. I needed a purpose or my mind would become dull and unfocused again. Useless. To find him, I'd become the embodiment of his beliefs, to give me focus... but they were no longer his. I was confused. I'd honoured the Laws because they were who he was. I loved him. Love is a lie to comfort mortals destined to Death, I know. It does not matter, but I did love him."

"He would not listen to what I said. His Power abandoned him. He didn't believe he could return. He didn't care to return. He was possessed with guilt, despair, regret. I could not watch him like that. The man I knew would rather die then betray anyone. I begged him to give me a last order. I begged him to be who I knew he once was. Tired, hopeless, he granted me this last wish. He smiled as he asked me to strike. He smiled as my blade pierced his heart."

"I've killed my faith. I've killed my belief. I've killed the one who was more then any Power to me. A heinous crime if there ever was one. Will you judge me, Justice? Go on, draw your blade."

Noma knelt beside the fire, awaiting judgement.
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Old Mon, 2nd Nov '09, 10:43pm   #36
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Justice stood and drew his blade. "The deeds you have been forced to commit are truly tragic," he agreed. "But more clarification is necessary to discover if they are indeed crimes, and what a just punishment for them would be."

"Whenever a killing occurs one must judge carefully whether or not it was warranted. This man you followed was a warrior, and as their trade is killing and death, they must ever watch their path, so that they stay within the law. If you were bound to obey his commands, and he gave you a lawful order, no matter how unpleasant it was or how horrible it made you feel to fulfill it, I see no breaking of a law in your actions."

"I judge you innocent of breaking a law, but sometimes the law is not enough. You obviously judge yourself guilty of breaking his, and your, hearts, and that is something only one person can forgive you for."

"It would be advisable for you to inform his next of kin of what happened, if he has any. It might also help you to start to forgive yourself, if that is possible."

He sheathed his sword. "Would that I could assuage your guilt. Sometimes a just punishment helps the offender to move forward. Alas, I can offer you no solace, only my sympathy."

He gently laid a massive hand on her slight shoulder.
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Old Tue, 3rd Nov '09, 8:41am   #37
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Noma stared hollowly ahead.

No, he was not the Justice she had come to face, after all. It was foolish of her to believe things would end as easily as this.

She closed her eyes and opened them again, driving the sorrow away. Her chest ached again, numb, but the feeling was passing. She had been a fool to call forth what she fought so hard to seal away. Dawn had come. Another day. Stardust faded on the sky.

"Let us seek your Herald. He might still be in the forest to the east."
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Old Wed, 4th Nov '09, 12:11am   #38
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"That is a good plan. Please inform me when you require or even desire to rest." Justice set off at a good pace, but Noma seemed to be able to keep up quite well.

By midday they had come down quite a bit from the high mountains, and were moving into an immense forest. The star dust trail had faded a bit, but was still easy enough to follow when Justice concentrated on it.

They came out of a thick patch of forest at a small river. Ahead of them yet quite a ways rose a huge hill, topped by an enormous tree, and the falling star could be seen blazing away at the base of the tree.

"We have found it!" Justice exclaimed. "Soon I will hear word of the Law Giver!" He rushed out to cross the river. Halfway across, two score of elven archers emerged from the far forest, bows drawn and ready. Another elf took several steps out to them, sword drawn and hand extended.

"Hold!" the elf commanded. "Who are you beings, and why have you come to the High Realm of Bellandrial? Especially now, when we are in mourning for our beloved Queen?"

Justice halted mid-river. "I am Justice, the right hand of the Law Giver. I come to parlay with the Herald of the Law Giver, whose gleaming I see before me on yonder hill."

"I know of no Law Giver, and the Herald on 'yonder hill' is not from him, but from Rillifane Rallathil, come to escort our late Queen on her last journey." He regarded Justice curiously. "It may be that he will speak with you, but I will have to send word back while you wait here." He looked over the river to where Noma was waiting, not yet in the river. "And who is your companion? And would she want entry to our realm as well?"
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Old Wed, 4th Nov '09, 3:35am   #39
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His footsteps were steady, barely leaving an imprint in the crusty top layer of snow. He had stopped only once today, for he was now far behind, only to behold a remarkably fine view. The trail was gone, covered in snow, but Malar knew his way. He knew where the creature ran, he sung merrily as he walked. His cloak was held close against him, it's was the only green for miles around.

He was younger then, he went by another name, a famous name. His hair was long and rich, and no tattoos covered his face. He leaned easily agaisnt a charred tree in a field of burnt reckage. He wore a magnificent coat of blue over gleaming Mitrhil chain, his dazzling knee high boots shone in the sun. His white leggins were flawless white, no ash could stain them. A strong enchantment, for ash and char lay everywhere, only the blue sky above wasn't stained black. The sky, and Dalamar.

Alora was black to begin with. She stood her imense 11 foot form erect, her massive head watched the elf who walked towards them. He was quaking, rightly so, Dalamar thought.

"Alora my pet, lie down, I believe he may be having a seizure." He purred, as he reached up and tickled her chin. She complied and lay down, sending a cloud of ash that never seemed to land on Dalamar. She then commenced to lick her small boulder sized paws, which exposed her enormous canine's. The elf did not cease his quaking. Dalamar was proud of his new discovery, he was only three hundred years - a pitence of his lifetime as a tiefling- and he already had been to the Feywild. That's where he met her, that's where they became friends. For that's what they were, she showed far too much intelligence and free will to be called a pet. She followed him because she wanted to, Dalamar was glad she did. He stroked her ebony coat, she was a cat. The biggest of cats.


Malar stopped his daydream, something wasn't rigth. He could feel the unsteadiness in the air, his eyes scanned the hill tops that surrounded him. He couldn't be sure, he couldn't tell, so he carried on. What ever it was, it would come to him.

"Bel'och nee en Si tella, Alora, ni oma. Nee en Si, nee en. Alora halo kal'ygeh. Alora, nee en Si tella. Hulaena oos casi keen a. Etienne, sah oma mi."

My beautiful friend of ages, Alora, I miss you. My old friend, my friend. Alora you were my joy. Alora, my friend of old. Another adventure is on it's way. Us two, you and me.

Malar's voice was cold as the moutain gusts, as he sung his song. The curse of immortality:to remember your friends far after they're gone.
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Old Wed, 4th Nov '09, 12:50pm   #40
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Noma stood on the shore, letting water lap at her feet. She bowed slightly, showing the palms of her gloves.

"My name is Nomainde, and yes, I'd like to enter as well, if entry is given. I've never seen a star fallen from heaven. I am curious of it."

Her eyes went from the elf to the glimmering water of the river. At the bottom, there were deer tracks, criss-crossing back and forth. Even as she watched, the tracks were being washed away by the current, but the pattern was still there. A single path in sand, regular and straight, so unlike the rest. Noma watched it, transfixed. The path was a name, traced with the movement of water and sand, quickly fading away. Keleida. Noma's eyes widened.

"I create a crossroad, I add to you another choice. Keleida. Keep me safe as I cut the path. Keep me safe as I alter what is. Bless my creation. Keleida, choice-giver. Keleida of Nowhere." - the prayer echoed in Noma's thoughts. Prayer of Home.

Another one of her kind had passed here. Another one was in the mountains. He'd taken the deer pact. A man then.

Tracks leaving into the elf-realm were light - those returning imprinted heavily upon them, breaking the shape. A man that had been to the elf-realm and returned burdened. He had taken something.

Was he invited, or did he make his own path inside? Noma wondered. Her eyes went back to the elf. The guards were keen, but deers were forest creatures. Would they have noticed a deer with copper horns and white chest?

The elf that spoke to her seemed to have reached his decision. He called back something to the others. Noma knew the sound, but elven words were different. They wouldn't be pinned, but flew in a continuous thread. To cage such a word, you'd have to silence the throat and the lungs and the air. She could not learn such a craft.

Noma crossed the river, stepping softly over the deer track, erasing them. Behind her, the blood drops of her soul entered the water.

"Protect me as I seek the Elsewhere." - *out of habit, Noma thought the same thoughts any of her kind would, as they crossed a living water.*
Behind her, her footsteps re-wrote the name in the sand.
Keleida.
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Old Wed, 4th Nov '09, 6:52pm   #41
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"You may cross our river and wait on this side while we send word ahead," the elf with the sword replied after thinking for a minute.

Justice and Noma did so. "I am Janorthis, Leader of One Hundred. Welcome to the Realm of Bellandrial, but take care not to abuse your welcome. We have had some trouble with strange visitors recently." He moved over to a fallen tree and sat. "Please, sit if you want. It may be awhile."

Justice and Noma sat. Janorthis said nothing more, and neither did they. Birds sang. The archers let the tension out of their drawn bows, but they kept their arrows knocked. The sun gradually set behind the mountains.

More bird song rang out. Janorthis stood. "You may come. Remember, we are in mourning." He led the way into the forest. They went on no discernible path, but it was clear they were making their way to the high hill. Hauntingly beautiful singing echoed around them.

Finally they came to the summit. Under the huge tree an ancient elf lay on a wooden bier. A small group of white clad elves stood around the corpse while many more elves waited a bit farther away.

A large winged elf, with a fiery halo burning above his head, stood at the head of the bier, a burning torch in his hand. It was not the Herald of the Law Giver, yet Justice had seen him before.

"Herald of Rillifane Rallathil, I greet you in the name of the Law Giver," Justice said, stepping towards him.

"Justice of the Law Giver, I certainly did not expect to see you here today. We are already late. We should have started right at dusk, but the Queen wanted to see what celestial visitor had come to her wake. We will begin now, before the sun is totally set even over the mountains, then we will talk."

He plunged the torch onto the bier. Flames erupted around him. The lament became more plaintive, howling out its grief.
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Old Thu, 5th Nov '09, 10:38am   #42
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Noma sat on the riverside and did her best to wait quietly and patiently, but this place of grief made her uncomfortable and time crawled over her skin far too slow. She watched the elves, for an hour or so. Counted the leaves, then played with grass and pebbles, building bridges for ants, absentmindedly. To sit in silence was to let the thoughts swarm her, which was rarely pleasant. Still, she tried. After all, if Justice could wait, so could she. Night came.

When they, ages later, finally reached the bier, Noma felt like crying. This whole place echoed sorrow. It crawled under your skin.

She stayed at the edge of the crowd of elves, as far back as she could, when the ritual begun. She hoped that in the singing, no one would pay much attention to her. She needed a shadowy place, to collect herself.

The waiting elves all moved a bit forward. Space around Noma cleared somewhat. With all eyes on the funeral pyre, she took a tentative step back, seeking to avoid the torchlight.

"Caught you!" *an elven voice hissed quietly in her ear and she felt a blade tip on her back. Someone pulled her right wrist back, twisting it. She stumbled backwards into the welcoming shadows.

The singing continued unchanged.

"I don't know how you've changed the form you have, but you don't fool me. Your steps echo the same. You breathe the same. All day I've tracked you around. Now you'll tell me who you are and what you did at the Herald's landing. The place reeks of your passage."

The voice spoke on, in steady whisper as the pressure on Noma's wrist intensified. He was trying to scare her, but fear was already dying out in her. Noma recognised the tone, even if she had never met the elf. If he would ignore the funeral of his Queen for this, then the man must truly be determined. One of those honest souls that take their duty seriously. A guardian, protector. Most would never have noticed the subtle signs that all of her people shared. The core that never changed, as all liquid is alike. This elf was someone after her own heart, a person that pursued details.
She just hoped he doesn't break her wrist without even meaning it.


"I'm not who you think I am. We are just from the same place. I don't know what he did, but it was not me." *she replied just as quietly. Neither one of them wanted the ceremony disturbed.*

"I'm not a fool. You are too much alike. Tell me the truth!"

Her wrist was really starting to hurt. Now she was scared. Her arm had been broken before and if it broke again, it would never heal right. It would take ages to heal at all. She could not let that happen.

Noma focused. Far away, in her home, there was a lump of lead, chipped off at one end. Her own death, melted and solidified. It swung like a pendulum from the ceiling. It would swing for as long as she lived. Her weapon, when all others were spent.
She felt the droplet of lead form on the palm of her left hand. Part of death she'd brought along.

"I am telling you! Our souls are like lead, malleable, but heavy. We embrace beliefs of others, because we cannot form our own. There are hundreds of us."

Noma knew he would not understand. What had that other been, to cause hatred this intense. What had he done?

She spun slightly to the left and hit the man's side with her left hand, transferring the momentum of the distant pendulum. His chainmail soaked part of the blow, but he collapsed, catching his breath.

Noma fell down too, pulling back from him. She glanced to her palm. The lead drop had shrunk somewhat. This was a desperate measure. Woe to the one who uses up all of his death.
She staggered to her feet.

"I don't know who you saw. Some of us are lost, feeding off Belief like leeches. Others get broken. Trapped, hurt. Some simply take beliefs that no one else wants. All can be horrible, but I am neither!"

The elf was silent. Noma walked back to the ceremony, trying to look normal.

She was met with an angry glare of Rillifane's Herald. He must have felt her reaching home.
Faced with the gaze of an angry being a hundred times more powerful then she, Noma did the only sensible thing.
She waved to him.
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Old Fri, 6th Nov '09, 1:51am   #43
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The Herald of Rillifane Rallathil glared at Noma, sending her a sharp telepathic message: *We will deal with you at a later time*

The sun was more than halfway hidden, even beyond the mountains. He grimaced in distaste at necessity, and snapped his fingers. Time Stopped. For all but the Herald, Justice, and the spirit of the Queen, stepping out of the fiery bier, splendid in her youth. The Herald urgently beckoned to Justice. "I'm afraid I have run out of time, but I remember you being tenacious enough to follow me beyond the ends of the earth if you don't find the answers you are looking for, so ask away. By the way, I never had a chance to thank you for your actions the last time we met. You chose the right, even though it was harmful to your people."

"What other decision could I have made?" Justice asked. "But what news do you have of the Law Giver. His Eye is not in its celestial home."

"I could not believe it, but it is true," the Queen broke in. "A visitor from the Lost Island has come to see me off. My grandmother gave me an exquisite hair comb that she said was from the Lost Island. It was so beautiful, and now I'm sure it was, its designs were very similar to your sword hilt."

"What is she talking about?" Justice asked the Herald, fear edging into his voice.

"There's no way to say this gently, Justice. The Law Giver has left this set of planes. All of your people died, and He and them no longer needed contact to this material world. He took them on to an even higher plane." The Herald gave Justice a sympathetic look.

"I remember it!" the Queen said. "I was yet a princess, and the Blind Giant was still the Cyclops. The Eye exploded in a brilliant star, so bright that it rivaled the sun, even during the day. It burned for weeks before finally fading."

"And, my Queen, your final sun is also fading as we speak. We must depart," the Herald took her ghostly hand.

"Wait!" Justice pleaded. "What about me? Why am I still here? How can I follow the Law Giver to where our people are?"

"I only wish that I had the answers for you, fare well, Justice." The Herald snapped his fingers again, and Time began again. He picked the Queen up, and flew off in a blazing trail of fire.

"Gone, He is gone from here. Now I understand why I could not contact Him. But why am I still here? Was it simply to respond to that last request from that last lost soul?" Justice didn't even notice that he was speaking aloud. He started walking, not knowing where he was going.

"Gone, He is gone." Could such a thing be believed?
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Old Fri, 6th Nov '09, 4:14am   #44
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Bright Sun reflected off the brilliant snow, glaring harshly into Malar's pupils. They receded from the burn, as Malar pulled his hood down and his scarf over his face. An unshakable feeling of trepidation followed Malar as he climbed the slope, Malar's long practiced sigh escaped his lips again.

Malar remembered when he would love to sneak up upon his hidden assailants, but times had changed. He bowed his head and hoped he looked poor enough to discourage whoever watched him. He grinned as he pictured Alora creeping along the mountain, prepared to pounce.

Dalamar strode through the underbrush of Yuirwood, the ancient home of the forgotten Star Elves. He wore an magnificent meteor red tail coat, open at the front, displaying his abdomen and chest. His hair was short except for a skinny long braid grown from his sideburn, which he tucked behind his ear letting it dangle. At the tip of his braid, three feathers -black, white and red- were attached, they rattled slightly as he walked. He wore shin high, glossy black boots, and his ever clean white trousers.

He walked confidently, mocking the presence of the hidden Wood Elves, with bows drawn. Sung a bawdy tune, a sailor's song, he could smell their anger (for the song said some very rude things about Elvish women). Dalamar's wicked grin was etched across his face, he dared them to attack, he dared them to unleash his retribution.

Alas, the Clan Elder must have warned them sternly for his passage was clear, and their arrows stayed taunt on their strings. He strutted down the forest trail, his tailcoat's tails flapped lazily beside him, and Alora padded like death beside him. For her two tons of girth, she made no sounds, no shudder from her falling paws. She bumped him easily, nearly knocking him into a awfully large tree.

"Alora my dear, you could have hurt me. I could have hit that tree, who knows what could have happened." He grinned a devilish grin, showing unnerving pointed teeth, and struck the tree with so much force two Elves were launched from their perches. "Let's have some fun, my love."

Alora didn't need to be told twice, she pounced away. Crashing through trees and chasing elves, her claws and teeth stayed hidden, this was merely a lesson. Dalamar darted off the separate direction, bringing out his long fencing epée, and poked Elvish bottoms, and snapped bow strings. He laughed maniacally and he chased them. "Come here my pretties!" He screamed while brandishing his weapon high.

Minutes of madness later Dalamar and Alora both crashed into a small clearing. Both had insane expressions on their faces, and were yelling (or growling) obscene threats. They stopped immediately upon seeing each other, trying to hold a serious expression. But the mirth bubbled out of them, and soon they were laughing too hard to stand. He sat against her massive shoulder, chuckling away the last of his laughter. "You really are a good friend you know." He said suddenly, turning his jet black eyes towards her massive green orbs. He paused and made a face, "though you should take a bath more often."

His barks of laughter were ended, by her mouth, which enveloped his entire head. His muffled voice could be barely heard, "although I do find your smell remarkably appealing."


Malar looked up at the sky, it was dark and purple, the Sun's glare was dashing away. Malar hitched his pack higher up his shoulder, there would be no rest tonight.
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Old Fri, 6th Nov '09, 11:38am   #45
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Noma was glad that the Herald talked. In her experience, true trouble started when people skipped the conversation part and started solving disputes in painful (though effective) magical ways.

An apology half-formed in her head, she watched as the Herald departed with the Queen. Noma sighed in relief - that had gone rather well.

She turned to Justice, hearing him speak. The vacant look on his face told her that somehow, he had received his answer. The Law Giver was dead.

Even though she always knew that this was a strong possibility, Noma had hoped for a different Truth for Justice. She started after him, not really sure how she could help. All she knew was that she wanted to.

Elves parted to let Justice pass and Noma followed, unsure where he was headed. The giant tree remained behind them, as did the burning bier of the Queen. The elves were all still there. Above, the Blind Giant burned coldly on the sky. Justice stopped.

"I am sorry." *Noma finally said. Hesitantly, she reached out and placed her hand on the curve of his wing. She couldn't quite reach his shoulders. She had wanted to hug him, but was not sure if that would bring him comfort. Maybe the celestials did not suffer the same.*

Unsure, she reached out for words next, letting them resonate through the bone needle. The only healing she knew.

"Where are you going?..." *she paused, realizing that things might not be as simple. Maybe the Herald had told him other things as well.*
"I can leave if you want. I don't know what the Herald told you, but I promise I didn't... He is a creature of belief and I can't really blame him for being paranoid. It's true that we are quite weak when not bonded and rather desperate, but..." *she had spoken quickly, but now stopped, realizing just how irrelevant all that was right now. It simply did not matter. His God was no more.*

"I understand if you don't want me around." - she said at last, letting silence descend. Silence, that had all sounds ever uttered woven in itself. Silence that ended all sounds. Maybe it could do what she could not - ease the death of a deity.
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Old Fri, 6th Nov '09, 7:22pm   #46
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Justice felt a light touch on his wing. He turned and looked through tear blurred eyes into Noma's. "So this is how you mortals must feel when a loved one passes on to the next world. Finally I understand the wailing, the grief, the lamentation such as these elves are even now bemoaning."

"How many times have I said to one of my people, 'Grieve not, but rejoice, for your loved one is now enjoying the just rewards of a life lived in righteousness. Would you deny him the eternal presence with his god?' " Justice looked skyward, to where the Eye would never again shine in the heavens.

"Now I fully understand how hollow my words of sympathy were. I too, must believe that the Law Giver and my people have gone on to a new place, one where Chaos is unheard of, and He can finally stop worrying about the cares of this world, and forever be sure that his Laws will be obeyed. Yet what solace is that, knowing that I cannot join him there, unless and until I too pass over to that new place. And to do that, I would surely have to leave this world for eternity."

"How is it that you mortals can endure this grief? You know that you will never again in this life see or talk to your loved one. And even the promise of future reunions rings hollow when the possibility exists that you will not earn your reward, and be truly forever bereft of his presence?"

He turned and looked at Noma again. "Now I have a better understanding of why you have used up five sets of eyes, and the source of your tremendous sorrow and pain. True, your wound is different, and probably worse than mine, as you were obligated to send your loved one on with your own hand. But I have been abandoned. All of my people, and my Lord, are gone from this realm of existence, never to return. I don't even know where to begin to look for them."

Justice knew it was selfish to feel such self-pity, but he could not help it.

"I am alone," he sighed.
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Old Sat, 7th Nov '09, 3:45am   #47
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For some reason, even if he didn't cry, Justice's tears shook Noma far more then her own ever did. It was simply wrong to see a celestial mourning. She felt that she made poor comfort - but she felt that the decision ahead was the same as the one she had made for herself, so long ago. It was a known crossroad and thus, guidable.

"Only if that is what you choose to be. You can claim a new existence, in this world and let the dead remain dead. Or..." *she paused, considering her words* "...if loyalty still binds your steps, I can take you to where Law Giver, or at least a part of him, must dwell. I can even help you on your way."

"There is sorrow in both paths. You wished to know what mortals did. We remember. If we are truly fortunate, we dream and they still live." *Noma took out a small, empty vial. It had a turtle painted on it, in the colour of the sky.* "I am not fortunate. I traded too much of my past for oblivion without pain, so now I don't have enough to lure the dreams in and hold them safe. At first, it hurts so much that you are tempted to forget it all and with the pain, you take the joy away as well. Don't do what I did." *She gave Justice the tiny vial* "Perhaps your dreams will prove an easier catch."

She listened to what Justice replied.



At that point, a child ran up the path to them, bright eyed, too small to fully understand the events taking place at the top of the hill. It looked at Justice, mistaking his winged form for that of Rillifane's herald, most likely. It uncupped its hands and extended one of them, pleadingly. There was a butterfly on it, with one of its wings half torn off.
"Please, please, will you make it better? Like you made Amadilla better?" *the child spoke, hopeful, lifting itself on its toes, so to give Justice a better view of the butterfly*

Noma looked away. As good time as any. She reached to the broken tendrils of her bond and unraveled them. She reached for Belief, precipitated in the hollowness of her chest bone. She let it echo, like a beautiful instrument. So long has it been since her gift last sung. Sonauli. Leaden-Souls. Sonauli of the Strings. Her people.
Noma offered Justice a source of power, different and barely a shadow of a sandgrain of what Law Giver had given him in the past. Belief, as pure as her ashen soul could summon. Unbonded, she was weak. She let this belief glow softly within the reach of his mind. It was on him to accept or refuse.

The child waited patiently, with bright, hopeful eyes and infinite trust. Not trust in the Law Giver or Rillifane but in Justice of flesh and blood, standing in front of it.
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Old Sat, 7th Nov '09, 2:34pm   #48
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Justice took the small vial from Noma.

"I remember, once, at the end of the second Quern war, Miakath the third had just taken the throne, his father having perished in the final battle of the war. He was bethrothed to Dinah of Quern, as part of the treaty ending the war. Another part of the treaty was that all the slaves taken in the first Quern war would be freed and allowed to return home. However, that year there was a severe drought, and the slaves were needed for the irrigation of the crops. Many nobles urged Miakath to postpone the emancipation, or face the starvation of his people, saying that it was not the right time to free them. The Law Giver was called upon to decide. He proclaimed, 'It is ALWAYS the right time to do what is right.' The slaves were freed, peace was ensured, and I worked side by side with the Law Giver, the King, and Queen Dinah. It was a lean year, but few died of hunger and none of war."

The memory filled him with warmth. "The Law Giver would not have abandoned me here. Yes, I have been left behind, but there must be a reason. What would I, Justice, do in that place they have gone to, where there would be no justice to enforce? To tell the truth, I think I would be quite bored. He said, 'It is ALWAYS the time to do what is right', and with that I take my mission. Injustice will always exist in this world, and I will always be here to combat it."

He looked at Noma and smiled, feeling somehow much better, though there was still much pain at his enourmous loss. "Thank you, Noma."

"Please, please, will you make it better? Like you made Amadilla better?" a small voice at his knee said. Justice looked down at the young elf maiden.

"See, even a child knows that things must be set right." His healing power had failed him the last time he tried to use it, but he could not refuse the innocent's request. He gently lifted the butterfly, and to his wondered surprise, found power in him again. With a stroke of his finger he fused the wing together. He layed the butterfly in the child's hand. She lifted it to the sky and it took off.

"Oh, you did it! Thank you!" The child lept up into his arms and gave him a sloppy kiss on the cheek.

"PUT THE PRINCESS DOWN DEMON!" a voice Noma recognized thundered. An elf in a grey cloak step out of the darkness. Two swords ready in his hands. Another elf, in emaculate elfen chain, strode forward with him. "Don't make a move, witch, or you will bleed from forty holes," the first growled at Noma.

"Princess Winnolith, come to me now!" the second commanded.

"No, Captain Rathe," the child pouted from Justice's arms. "You'll just put me back in my prison where I can't even climb trees!"

"We're your guardians, Princess, not your captors. And you know what your father says about trees." Captain Rathe patiently replied.

"I'm twenty-three years old. Why should I have to wait until I'm fifty to climb trees? I'm sick of having you guards always with me, everywhere I go!" she responded from the ground from where Justice and let her down.

"I am Justice, not a demon." Justice tried to explain. "I believe there must be a misunderstanding that we can surely clear up."

"Shut your hole!" the grey cloaked elf hissed. "Rathe, surely he is as much a wolf in sheeps clothing as the witch. She must be the same one as who stole the Queen's crown and lock of hair." He looked at Justice through a green stone ring and sniffed at him, then took a step back, passing the ring to Captain Rathe.

"He has recently been in contact with the demon who broke Prince consort Janaki's arm, back when he was with the border guards and they had to chase that demon and his big black cat out of our realm. I can smell it all over him. You may remember I was a new scout at that time. Clearly they are all involved in a diabolical plot. Luckily the Herald was able to get the Queen out in time. Did you see how when this demon took a step towards the Queen, the Herald immediately departed, and how the demon appeared next to the bier an instant later? And this witch used necromancy against me to incapacitate me. You can still taste in on my side. I say we shoot them now!"

"DO NOT SHOOT!" Captain Rathe ordered the scores of unseen archers. "We can not risk hurting the Princess. Princess, please, come to me now, the demon has no hold on you."

"No, then you'll just shoot him, and I like him," the Princess moved in front of his knee, offering him the meager protection of her slight form.

"Please, be not alarmed," Justice said, spreading his empty hands. "We mean no harm."

"That's what they always say," growled the cloaked elf.
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Old Sun, 8th Nov '09, 1:43am   #49
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Noma wondered what the Elves would have said if a real Sonauli witch were around to explain the differences in approach. They were unnervingly fond of fanaticism, even by Noma's standards, and quick to lightning bolts.

She felt dizzy and tired. Maintaining a Belief source was not something she could do for long - especially in her current state, but she stubbornly kept this one open, should Justice need it. It was a matter of pride.

Casually, though slowly, she sat down on the grass, crossing her feet (tailor-fashion) and leaning forward, like she had all the time in the world and was settling in to a spectacle.
No arrows flew.
Noma's face was emotionless, with just a touch of a smile tracing her lips, but inwardly, she was just lucky to get of her feet, unsure how long they would support her standing up, with the Belief blazing. This way, she didn't have to worry about legs.

"What are you doing, witch?" *curiosity overcame animosity in the grey-clad elf*

"Watching what happens to you." *she said calmly* "It is a reckless bravery to notch your arrows at a Celestial, come to you on Rillifane's Herald invite, wouldn't you say?"
Noma's words resonated softly, through the needle of bone. The glow of the belief made her forget just how little she could actually do.
"Will you truly let them loose, Captain?"

Belief shimmered slightly. Was she doing this right? Noma couldn't tell.

She turned to the girl, taking advantage of the momentary silence.
"Princess, you've frightened your guardians. You should go to them. Do not worry..." *Noma's eyes went back to the invisible line of archers* "Not one of their arrows will hit."

Conviction, that's all there was to it. It didn't have to be true.

She locked gazes with the elf in grey cloak. How well had she played her game?

Deep down inside her, anger was swelling. She did not have to follow his beliefs anymore. She didn't have to hold back and be careful of everyone's wellbeing. They've hounded her to here, they wanted a battle. Why should she be the one to back out of it? Why shouldn't she give the hardheaded elf a well deserved lesson in respecting others? She had that much power at least, she could... A pang in her chest silenced the rage and for once, she was glad of it.

Noma understood killing. Restraint was not hesitation. She hoped the two elves could sense this, as well. You've cornered me. Don't be surprised if I bite back.
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Old Sun, 8th Nov '09, 4:26pm   #50
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Justice felt a presence around him. It was not the Law Giver, though it gave the same feeling of assurance that his nearness did. It seemed to be around Noma as well, maybe even emanating from her. It was warm and had no chaotic feelings to it, and he accepted it into himself with gratitude. He turned and smiled slightly at Noma, feeling a sudden bound with her that was somewhat rash for such a short acquaintance.


He addressed the elves, "You should believe Noma, as she is telling the truth. I think that should be obvious even to you. She is not a witch, and the only connection she has to the thief you are looking for is that of birth to the same tribe. One cannot be held accountable for what station they were born into."

"And you should believe me, I am no demon." He bent and spoke kindly to the Princess. "Winnolith, will you do something for me?"

"Don't do it Princess!" Captain Rathe yelled, "He will try to trick you!"

"Well, okay," the princess said.

"Good, I want you to walk over to Captain Rathe."

"But, they will..." the princess stammered.

"Didn't I fix your butterfly's wing when you asked? Now, go." He made shooing motions with his hand, and she did go to the captain.

"Thank Rillifane!" the captain sighed as he took the princess behind his back. "Korvathel, take the Princess to her parents." When she was safely gone he turned to Justice and Noma. "Thank you, Justice. I don't believe a true demon would have so easily let the Princess go. Perhaps we have hastily misjudged you and apolopies are in order on our part."

"Are you so easily deceived, Captain?" The grey cloaked elf hissed. "Even if what they say is true, this wi... er, woman, could obviously help us with information about the thief. What say you, Noma, are you so willing to prove your innocence to us that you would betray one of your own kind?"
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