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 The Seventh Miracle (Sanctum Officium / Invite only) 
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Put her in the shadows, he says? Ran looked at the female drow, wondering if this were really all that was wrong with her. Well, the priest no doubt knew best, being drow himself. He gathered the woman up in his arms and carried her deeper into the temple, finding a corner where the light didn't quite reach and laying her down gently. He stood over her protectively, shielding away the rest of the light while he watched for any reaction, and thus was only half-paying attention when the priest made his little diatribe. It seemed he'd wandered into an interesting situation.

He still hadn't found Lyssia, which had been his primary concern, considering the shield magic and all. Yet now that he'd all but confirmed that she was the one behind it, he could talk to her at his leisure. For now, this priest presented a more immediate curiosity. Had he said something about a miracle?

Just then, the drow woman begin to stir and awaken. It seemed a little darkness truly was all she needed. Ran bent over her again, ready to offer a hand up if it were needed, yet knowing the woman might panic at the sight of him. "Easy, it's all right, you're all right. My name is Ran, and you're in the main temple of the red desert. Here, take it easy, let me give you a hand."

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Sat Feb 07, 2004 11:01 am
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The darkness recedes from my consciousness. I keep my eyes shut feigning sleep. I hear a man and his words make sense to me. It’s nice to hear and understand others again. I do not care to be the center of attention and I hope that someone takes his advice and places me in a quite corner somewhere where I can regain my strength in peace and out of the scrutiny of others.

I feel a pair of hands grip under my arms and legs and I am lifted off the ground. The sound of hoof beats echo quietly as I am carried away from the sun. I’m slightly confused by the hoof beats as we are now indoors and who brings a horse indoors? Though I am grateful that apparently someone is taking his advice and moving me. Not too far away I hope. The pull of the desert no longer consumes me, I’ve found whatever I was looking for it seems. Well, that or the damnable sun has burnt up my unexplained desires. I’m laid down on the ground gently. My mouth is dry, I feel as if I haven’t drank a drop in weeks. It is the effects of the sun I know, it shall pass with a bit of rest and maybe a gallon or two of water.

The words of the man are further away. He speaks of doubts and miracles. What have I stumbled into, a religious uprising of some sort? Religious fanaticism is usually not a good thing, breeding subterfuge and death whenever it rears its ugly head. Whatever is happening it would not do for me to be lying vulnerable here. It is time to awaken. I am still quite weak and in need of water, but that can’t be helped.

I open my eyes, blinking rapidly, the sun has scorched them and large black holes fill my sight. I struggle to get up when a man speaks. It is the same as the voice of my rescuer.

”Easy, it's all right, you're all right. My name is Ran, and you're in the main temple of the red desert. Here, take it easy, let me give you a hand.”

I cannot see him clearly, but I see enough to know that he is centaur. That explains the hoof beats. Centaurs are not unknown among my kind, but not a creature that I have ever come across. His offered hand would normally be ignored, but I am too weak and it is necessary for me to accept his help. I reach up and allow him to place a supportive arm around my back, his touch screams against my upbringing, but I am no longer among my own kind and must adapt, much as my expeditions into the setting sun each day. He helps me to my feet, and I am troubled by how much assistance I require. This won’t do at all.

I need water, and then something tells me we should join the others. There is something curious developing I believe.

Ran grabs a waterskin from his pack and hands it to the woman, then looks over at the crowd. "I think you're right."

I take his waterskin and drink briefly. The water is sweet and wet. I do not allow myself to drink too much, for it would not do to become sick on top of my already weakened state. I hand him back his waterskin and nod my readiness. He is careful to avoid the sun as we make our way toward the crowd and I am struck by his generosity. Were I home, I would question his motives, but he is not my kind and perhaps this is normal among these people. I have much to learn.

My sight is slowly returning to normal as we join the crowd. He stops just outside the edge, still in the shadows where the sun does not venture, when I get my first glimpse of a drow male standing in their midst. My body grows ridged in shock. Who has allowed a male to join the ranks of priest? This is blasphemous! To serve a God or Goddess is a role restricted to females.

I am to weak to confront this blasphemer I know and my blood boils as I force my posture to relax. Patience is something that I have in spades, a lesson my old master found out to late, as I thrust her own blade into her belly before fleeing my home for this land.

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Sat Feb 07, 2004 12:11 pm
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Ran handed the woman his waterskin and watched her curiously as she drank, before looking over at the crowd just outside the temple. "I think you're right," he said in response to her question. He led her towards the crowd, making sure to stop just before actually exiting the temple, so that they would remain in the shadows.

He didn't know much about drow. They lived underground normally, that much he did know. Usually a very insular society, which was also why he didn't know all that much. So he, too, thought it was unusual to see a drow as a priest of Darden, preaching to people under the hot sun of the desert. Two drow in a bright, sunny desert--something strange was definitely going on, and he was determined to find out what that was.

The priest had spoken to him in a very haughty tone, one that Ran had immediately dismissed both out of concern for treating the woman immediately and his usual immediate disregard for priests in general. Most of them tended to have a haughty, superior tone, he'd found. Likely the result of supposedly being closer to their god and thus better than all those whom they preached to.

One odd thing about the priest's statement, though. "She needs no miracle." Ran hadn't exactly asked for a miracle, just some treatment, some healing. Was all healing magic considered a miracle these days, or only here, or only by this priest? There was certainly something...odd, in the priest's demeanor, his bearing. It could be that he was simply filled with a religious fervor--Ran had seen that often enough, too. Still, a drow priest, talking about dispensing miracles. And apparently a second one was about to come (what had been the first?)

Yes, this priest definitely bore watching.

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Fri Feb 13, 2004 11:04 am
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Post The Second Miracle of Seven.
The Drow Priest did not wait to be answered and although new people had arrived he did not call to them or repeat anything that he had said earlier; if they really wanted to know what was going on then he was sure that they would find out. He felt more power flooding into the very blood that pumped through his heart and rushed into his veins, so immense was this power that his dark eyes glazed over until they took on the milky appearance of the blind, yet he could still see perfectly, in fact he could see better than perfectly. Not only could he see the people before him but he could also see their auras, the very lifeforce that emanated from them now appeared to him as light that emanated from each person.. some lights were brighter than others and he also noticed that some of them seemed to be trying to pull their respective bodies toward the priest and others still were pulling in the opposite direction as though they wanted to get away from his words of truth.

Come with me, all of you.. believers and doubters alike, let me show you the wonders that I can create.

The words themselves seemed to resonate with passion and truth as they thrust themselves into the ears of all present.

Let me show you your god.

This final sentence was spoken in a more hushed tone yet it was no less resonant.

Ethan stepped away from the temple and pushed his way through the crowd until he was walking toward the outskirts of the central reservation. Though tempted, he did not look back to see how many of them had decided to follow him and instead thought to himself that even if there were only one then at least his message had not been given in vain.

Dusk had finally arrived when Ethan reached the final circle of tents and once there he fell to his knees with his head held low and his lips moved quickly in a feverish yet silent prayer. Shadows washed across the hot sands and Ethan lifted up his right hand, palm held toward the sky and as he did so a tiny green shoot burst forth from the barren sand, as his hand continued to lift above his head another shoot appeared, and another and another until there were seven shoots. He then lifted his left hand and the shoots began to grow and within a few grains of an hourglass the shoots had become bare trees.

The Drow Priest smiled inwardly and lifted his head to look at the trees that he had created and slowly began to lower his right hand and as he did leaves unfurled from the branches of each tree until they were all covered in lush green and by the time his fingers trailed in the sand the trees were awash with shades of soft pink, white and rose. The appleblossom then fell down to the sand and Ethan lowered his left hand and as he did so the fruit of the trees began to grow, beautiful green and red apples filled the branches so much that they groaned under the weight.


Here are the fruits of my labours.

He said softly.

Seven apple trees, one for each of the miracles that I will perform.

The Drow Priest still hadn't turned around to see whether he had been followed and for all he knew he could have been talking to himself.. although he doubted it considering the amount of lifeforces that had been attracted to him.

Let no-one cut these trees down and they shall give fruit to the desert eternally as a constant witness to my works.

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Fri Feb 13, 2004 11:52 am
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Ethan's words are strange, he's not...he's not...not quite like the priest that Mother trusted so much. I don't have the words to describe the feeling, I can't even identify which sense it is that tells me that he's different to how he once was. He is different though, changed from the drow that preached with Mother and made everything seem so simple and easy for me to understand. He still looks like Father Ethan, still smells like him, still sounds like him, but there is something different, I don't know what. It's infuriating, to know this and yet not know it, to feel as if the thoughts that I need are just beyond my grasp. I want the feeling to go away, if it just went away everything would be alright, I wouldn't need to worry about it anymore. I wish that Mother were here, she'd explain it to me, she'd know the words that describe what I'm feeling.

Words and thoughts were always difficult for me to grasp. Darden didn't create me to be a diplomat or a peace-maker, He didn't even make this flesh of mine to be a bard or a minstrel. No the Lord made me to be His Beast, to bring His glory to the heathens with claw and fang. Mother said that I should accept that that was His plan for me and that I should be grateful that the Lord gave me His blessing with this form. She said I should never wish for more than the God of Sorrows gave me, that such longings were wrong, they were an act of sin and flawed my faith. I have to always be grateful to the Lord, never questioning, never doubting, if I did otherwise I would be taking a step towards falling forever from His grace. I don't want that, no never that, I want my faith to be pure, I want to be a good boy, Mother's most precious child. When Mother wakes up I want her to know that I did just what she said, that even while her soul was gone from the world her Silus was good and true.

I follow Ethan away from the temple, through the crude streets that radiate outwards from the centre of the settlement. This place is not at all like the towns and cities that I have seen outside the desert. Out there they create vast buildings of brick and wood, daring to raise their homes and businesses higher than the temple of the God that they claim to worship. In the central settlement, nothing stands higher than the temple, to do otherwise would be disrespectful to Darden. How can we, mere beings of flesh and blood, dare to compare our structures with that of the Lord's? The only things which stand taller then the temple in the lands of Culaearien are the mountains that mark the western border. But even those great guardians of ageless stone know that they are subserivent to the whims of Darden. The stories of the red desert even speak of a time when they parted to allow the Lord to walk through them in the earliest of days.

Father Ethan hasn't even looked back as I've followed him out to the outskirts of the settlement. Is there a reason why he doesn't look back? Does he sense that he is being followed? That his urging to follow him has been answered? I can hear the feet of the tribesmen following behind me, maybe he can hear them too even though he is not blessed with the senses of a beast. Or maybe he just trusts that Darden will ensure that we follow him. After all these are mriacles, acts of legend within the church, performed only by those who are strongest in faith and blessed by the Lord. Ethan's faith must be great indeed to be touched by the Lord in this way...perhaps even as great as the men and women from the days when the faith was still young. Darden must be working through Ethan, must be trying to return the world to simpler times when faith was still strong in all things.

I cock my head to one side as Ethan kneels upon the sand outside the outer most ring of tents that marks the edge of the settlement. Is he unwell? Perhaps his healing of the witch has taken too much out of him. I take a nervous step towards him, after all I must look after the priest, Mother would not want Father Ethan to be hurt or sick. Mother would want me to look after Ethan, especially if he has been blessed with the power of the Lord. Even if he didn't use that power to heal Mother...even if he did use it to help that Sidhe woman. Yes Mother would still want me to be good and look after Ethan, she would tell me to make sure that no one was allowed to hurt him.

I will do what Mother would have wanted me to do.

Before I get the chance to cover the distance between myself and the drow priest soemthing happens. He moves his hand upwards and there...no it cannot be...something green? Something sprouting from the dry sands of the red desert? Here? Near the settlement? Mother always said that it wasn't possible, that the sands were too dry here to sustain any life, that it was a test given to us by Darden. She said that the sands were a proving ground for the tribes, that only by surviving in the harshest of conditions would we be made ready for His plans. If the land of Culaearien was green and fertile we would not have to struggle to survive here, life would be easy. We would grow fat and contented, paying only lip-service to the Lord and not dedicatin ourselves to His cause as we do. I have seen outsiders like that, people whose lives are so easy that they never have to struggle, their faith is never tested, it is not tempered by the fires of trial and suffering. Their faith is weak because it has never been threatened, it is a brittle thing for those people, not at all a strong weapon to be used as ours is.

But still, things are growing out of the desert, they are growing at Father Ethan's will. Things are growing, seven shoots...no seven trees. Tress in the desert? My eyes widen as I watch soundlessly, first leaves, then blossom and now fruit? This cannot be, Mother said it cannot be, said it could never be. Mother said...

I don't know what to think. Mother said that this kind of thing could never grow in the red sands and yet by Father Ethan's miraclous powers it has grown. Could Mother have been...wrong?

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[center]~~~SO~~~
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I don't do this because I hate you, but rather because He loves you[/center]


Tue Feb 17, 2004 8:08 am
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Ethan smiled at his response, apparently satisfied with his commitment to the cause. Whatever the “cause” was, Corduin had no idea and didn’t have time to think on it further; as the man turned away, he saw something flicker behind his eyes, something dark and mysterious. The sensation in his head grew stronger, more intense, but thankfully subsided once more almost immediately.

What had he gotten himself into? Who was this man that seemed to be the cause of whatever the thing was in his head? The questions flew through his mind, as they had done since he had first experienced the buzzing in his head. But he knew he had to continue on this path; in some strange way, this was where he was meant to be. He couldn’t go back to his former life, it just wouldn’t mean anything any more, it would be empty. There was nothing to do but go forward.

He looked up to see the priest directing the newcomer, a centaur, towards the shadows. There was a woman on his back, a woman who looked very much in need of assistance, but Ethan seemed to be assured that she would recover away from the light of the sun. It seemed that he really did plan to perform miracles; “healing” the collapsed woman would surely have counted as a miracle if he had wished it, no-one would have realised that she apparently was going to recover without any help. But no; his miracles would apparently be more genuine than that. Corduin couldn’t help but be intrigued, if a little frightened, at the prospect.

Events began to happen quite quickly as he was considering this. A woman rushed through the crowd, proclaiming that she had seen Ethan in a dream and that he was “Darden’s Chosen.” Corduin heard Ethan agree with her, then ask for her faith and ask everyone for their belief. Then he was off walking, moving away quickly before she or anyone else had a chance to say anything more.

Let me show you your God, he heard Ethan say. He had no choice but to follow quickly, to fall in behind Ethan. He was drawn along in his wake, unable to break away, unsure if he even wanted to break away. He couldn’t take his eyes from the drow, he was totally captivated by him. At the same time, the noise in his head was again increasing; getting louder and more insistent, slowly but surely, for no apparent reason. He was some distance behind Ethan, but surely he had to again be the cause of it?

They walked for some indeterminately long time; dusk was falling by the end. Corduin looked quickly to either side to see others beside him, and maybe many more behind him. They had all followed Ethan, had all come under his spell. It was such a force that Corduin couldn’t keep his eyes from him for more than a few moments and so couldn’t closely observe the followers; presumably they were all in the same state as he, watching attentively and hanging on Ethan’s every action.

He saw Ethan raise his right hand and then a shoot burst forth from beneath the barren sands, but after that all he knew was a blur of agony. The buzzing in his head became louder and louder, louder and more painful, blanking out everything else. He sank to his knees with his hands clutching his head, wishing that the pain would stop. But it didn’t, it just continued to drown everything else out. He knew not how long it lasted.

Eventually, the pain suddenly subsided to a dull throbbing sensation in the back of his mind once more; it was the most pleasurable sensation he had ever experienced, that absence of intense pain like silence in the wake of a tumult of noise. Then he heard as if from a great distance Ethan’s words:
Here are the fruits of my labours.

What has happened? Could Ethan really be causing me such an intense pain, and if so does he know about it?
And what has he done now?

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Tue Feb 17, 2004 1:28 pm
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"Let no-one cut these trees down and they shall give fruit to the desert eternally as a constant witness to my works."


All she could do was stare at him in confused fascination. How had Ethan received such a powerful gift? And more importantly, when had he received it? He certainly hadn't shown any indications that he could do such things when they'd been on their hunt for Sacris. Of course, he'd been a bit preoccupied sharing a body with Maledict....

Swallowing, she listened to the murmurings of the people around her. What he'd done with the trees wasn't the first miracle performed. She would do well to find out what the first miracle was. Turning to the man nearest her, she made her inquiry. Excuse me, but what happened before this? What has he done before? She slanted her head in the direction of the drow priest, yet kept her voice low.

"Oh, it was wondrous miss...he healed the one that advises...the Sidhe...from the injuries caused when she put her protection over the desert."

She blinked, then turned to watch Ethan again. So he had healed Lyssia. Instead of allowing her to die, or killing her himself for all the problems she had caused, he had healed her. Clenching her hands until her nails bit into her palms, she watched him, eyes following him as he moved among his crowd of followers. Why had he helped the witch? What game was he up to? Unease made her skin crawl and she shivered as if someone were running cold fingers up her spine. Whatever his reasons, she could never trust him. He had helped the witch!

Somehow she had to find out what he was planning and why. With all the sycophants poised around him, it appeared the easiest way to do that, would be to pretend she believed as well. She just wish the idea didn't fill her with dread instead of expectation. Or perhaps it was her expectations that were causing the dread....

Straightening her back and ignoring the sense of doom that had been clouding her every movement since she'd been attacked, she carefully made her way forward so that she would fall into Ethan's line of vision. She did not try to smile. Instead she let every emotion she felt, cross over her face. The confusion, the wonder, the uncertainty and discomfort- the only thing she did not show was her anger at the witch still being alive. She wondered if he held any anger toward her for what had happened to him? If so, just what would he do to her now?

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Thu Feb 19, 2004 12:46 pm
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I watched as Silus began following the small crowd out of the main part of the town and out towards the empty desert. I stayed a little behind listening to the whispers and murmurs of the crowd.

Just what is Ethan up to? His words did not sound like the usual
priestly drivel he spouted before....something about miracles? Why would Lord Darden bless Ethan with that kind of power? And where was Ebony? Silus would be able to answer my questions.


I came up to stand beside Silus and watched as Ethan began to perform his "miracle". Trees blooming and bearing fruit in the desert...I had to admit it was quite amazing to watch him in action. I leaned closer to the beast and whipered to him as if we were conspiring...

His charisma has certainly grown, but for some strange reason I don't feel the attraction for him I once felt...wonder why that is?

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"When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I've never tried before." [/center]


Thu Feb 19, 2004 6:11 pm
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The crowd follows the blasphemer blindly. Like sheep to the slaughter, I smile slightly at the thought. I still lean slightly on the centaur for support, despising my own weakness. The blasphemer speaks asking for doubters and believer alike to follow. So that he can work some conniving male deception for all to awe over no doubt.

I look to my centaur savior and shrug as our eyes meet, pulling up the hood of my cloak. I’m not quite sure if I’m ready for another jaunt into the sun but I’m not ready to let the drow male out of my sight yet either, the sun is the lesser of the evils in my mind. We follow the crowd through the settlement to the very outskirts of the civilization. The desert spreads out for as far as even my drow eyes can see. The vast nothingness brings a shudder to my spine as I recall that just a few short hours ago I almost met my death out there. I certainly would have died had it not been for this strange fellow beside me. I steal a glance at him and I wonder what his angle is. Surely he expected something in return for saving my life. I’ll have to deal with that later, for now I must solve this drow priest enigma. He addresses the crowd with his back turned and I wonder at how much of his drowness he has lost. He must believe that he is safe here. That can work to my advantage should it become necessary.

He falls to his knees on the barren desert and then by some trick trees sprout from the barren lands. Seven trees in all now stand tall and full of apples, ripe and young alike. The branches bend with the weight of the fruits. I cannot believe my eyes. There is no water to be seen anywhere, how is this possible? This drow priest has many questions that needed answering and as soon as the opportunity presents itself I shall seek these answers.

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[shadow=#993300]Acolyte of Pain[/shadow]


Sun Feb 22, 2004 11:51 am
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Ran eyed the drow woman carefully, keeping a close eye on her as she stepped out into the sunlight. He was curious about this priest, and didn't want to have to run back inside if the woman fainted from overexerting herself again. The woman still leans on him slightly, acting as if she hated that fact. Ran had seen enough pride in individuals and races as a whole to understand the feeling, and wondered to himself if there weren't something he could do in secret to help her.

They followed the crowd through the settlement, arriving eventually at the outskirts of the city. Ran craned his neck, thankful that as a centaur he stood taller than most of the others in the crowd. The priest knelt upon the sand, making some series of gestures before causing seven trees to sprout forth, each bearing fruit. The greenery in the middle of the red desert provided a sharp contrast.

Many in the crowd were amazed and gasped in shock. To Ran, though, it seemed that just as many were skeptical, even wary. He supposed that to the natives of the desert, who'd never seen anything grow here, the sudden appearance of several trees would seem like a miracle. He had to wonder himself, though--was it true that nothing normally could grow here, or had no one simply bothered trying, believing that it couldn't happen? As for the "miracle" itself--Ran thought that he might be able to make something similar happen, if he planted seeds and maybe a secret water supply in there ahead of time. The priest had led them to just this spot, so he could have prepared it ahead of time.

Next to Portal magic, earth and nature magic were Ran's strongest points--the other elements, he wasn't very good at. Manipulating real objects, however, he could do with relative ease. He'd once morphed a mountain into a fortress, simply by manipulating what was already there, though that was in his younger days. Creating something out of nothing was infinitely more difficult, of course, but if he'd had seeds to start with...yes, he might have been able to do the same. Making the trees give fruit eternally was another matter entirely. However, the priest had not--indeed, could not--offer any proof of such a claim, and Ran didn't plan on waiting around to find out if it were true.

He overhead someone mention the first miracle--the healing of the Sidhe (that must be Lyssia, he thought). Healing magic was another thing he was almost entirely unskilled in, but he knew great healers who could likely have healed Lyssia's overexhausted unconscious state without any magic at all. A miracle? Perhaps, perhaps not.

He held his tongue, however, choosing to continue to let the situation play out. He knew more about the gods than many on the isle, having followed Azrael along with several other magi into another plane to discover the home of the gods, so to speak. The knowledge would have shattered many--still would, if word got out--and would've shattered Ran as well if he hadn't come to a simple solution to the problem.

But that was neither here nor there--there was still this priest to figure out. Ran knew that the odds that there were true miracles powered by a god--any god--was unlikely, and was already considering alternatives. Apparently the priest had not had magical powers to begin with, though he possibly could have simply hidden them--drow did tend to have an affinity for magic in general. Or he could be using some powerful artifacts, with specifically directed purposes, planning out his miracles ahead of time. He would simply have to wait, and observe, and then make his conclusions once he'd gathered all the information.

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Sun Feb 22, 2004 12:38 pm
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Elsewhere:

Oswald wasn't a young man anymore, the dull ache in his bones constantly reminded him of this fact. Though he had to admit that being old brought it's benefits as well.. one being wisdom and wisdom in turn gained him the respect of his fellow villagers. He had seen a lot during his life, but this.. nothing could have prepared him for this.

"What is it?" He asked the young farmhand who stood beside him.
The farmhand took the long blade of grass that he was chewing on out of his mouth and eyed Oswald with a look of total confusion etched into his face. "I wish I knew, Oswald. I woke up with the birds this morning except.."

"What?" Oswald demanded. "Except what?"
The farmhand let out a long sigh before answering. "Well, the birds.. they weren't singing this morning and this field here," He waved his arm out to emphasise which field he meant.. as if Oswald didn't know already. "Was covered in darkness. So I pulled on my pants and shirt and came rushing out here and by the time I got out this is what the darkness had left behind."

Oswald looked across at the field that had once been full of wheat rippling in a gentle breeze but now each and every stalk of wheat was flattened to the ground and coloured black with death, a thin layer of dark green slime clung to the wheat like a parasite clings to its unwilling host.

"All the crops are like this?" Oswald asked, his voice shaking slightly with nervousness. The farmhand nodded his head in a silent reply of affirmation. Oswald closed his eyes and sighed a long, depressed sigh. "My god, what are we going to do now?" He asked rhetorically. "We're the biggest suppliers of wheat on the whole Isle, without this revenue we'll be ruined, we'll starve!" His voice grew more high pitched and distressed with each word.

"I never seen nothing like this before, Oswald." The farmhand said. "I never heard of nothing like it neither."

"No." Oswald agreed. "Nor have I, nor have I"

As the sun continued to rise the two men looked upon the unexplained destruction of their crops, their food, their livelihood and despair began to settle within each of them as it would settle into the whole village when news of this disaster became known to everyone.


Sun Mar 07, 2004 6:31 am
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I start at the words from Lillian, not realising that she had come so close to me. She is a beautiful creature, using that beauty like the keenest of blades against those that the Lord despises for their weakness. I look down at the sand, embarassed by being so close to her, knowing that I am an ugly thing compared to her. Men could gladly give their lives for her once under her spell, indeed Mother used to tell me that many had already. People just look at me and run, normally screaming, thinking me some terrible monster conjured from their nightmares. And perhaps I am, after all Darden crafted this flesh for my soul, placing me upon this isle to do His will. The Lord of Sorrows made Lillian beautiful so that she could play her part in His designs, and He made me as I am for that same reason.

The beast, that's what I am, a creature of violence and vengence, I am the bloody retribution that falls upon the heathen masses. I have led the charge of the desert tribes countless times, I have been there when the armies of the false ones have fallen before our righteous rage. Darden must have created me with that single purpose in mind, he gave me claws instead of nails, claws to rip and tear. Jaws like a beast to snap and bite, jaws that can kill as easily as any sword or spell. He gifted me with the strength to fight on no matter what happened and the rage to see His enemies slain. I was made to kill in His name, to show no mercy to those who would beg and plead, promising to convert if only I will spare their lives. He has made me the blade that He would use to strike at the foes of the red desert, He made me His beast, a creature to be feared, never cared for, never loved.

Except by her, Mother loves me, Mother always loved her precious son.

I wonder how different life must be like for Lillian, how unlike mine it must be. People would fall to their knees to worhip the very ground she walks on if only she let them. Well I imagine that it must be that way for her, how could they not want to react that way to her when they lay eyes on her? No one would react to me like I imagine they do to her, there's just the fear when they see me, just the horror that something like me could have been created. Sometimes I wish that I were normal, that I had hands and feet like a normal man, that I wasn't covered in fur, that I didn't look like some monstrous combination of bear and wolf. But it doesn't matter how much I wish it won't change anything, I'll still look like this, I'll still be an abomination in the eyes of Mother's kind. Darden created me to be this way and who am I to think that I could change the will of the Demon God? My form is Darden's will, as one of His faithful I must trust in His will and not think that it is my place to alter it.

I...I don't know, I stutter in reply to her question, the idea of attraction an alien one to me. I have felt something for others beyond Mother before, or rather for her, for the demon's ward. But is that attraction, is it the same sort of thing that Lillian feels for men of the cloth? I suppose not, after all I know that Demetria will never be mine, I'm just a clumsy beast while she is so much more. But for Lillian? Lillian could have any man she wanted, I'm sure, how could anyone refuse her slightest whim if she asked it of them. Father Ethan...he only returned here when the banner of the Officium was raised once again. He has been different but...but I am sure it must be because Darden has blessed him.

Yes Ethan has been different, not that drow that Mother used to confide in and trust so much. But he has Darden's blessing upon him so these changes cannot be bad things, can they? Darden wouldn't allow them if they were bad things, not here in the heart of the red desert, the sands which are sacred to Him. No, no of course not, the changes, the differences are obviously the Lord's way of preparing him for the great power that Darden has laid upon Ethan's shoulders. That is the only answer, the only answer that I can allow myself to believe.

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[center]~~~SO~~~
Beast of Darden, Child of Ebony
I don't do this because I hate you, but rather because He loves you[/center]


Mon Mar 08, 2004 9:39 am
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Oh they were all here, even some that hadn't been seen in a long time had managed to get here and see the change in Ethan. Joshua stroked the pouch that hung from his belt. Well, almost all. Sadness cast it's shadow over his countenance as he thought of his dead friend laying there in the pouch, nothing but bones now. He wished that Gordon (his dead pet rat) could be here to see this, wished that he could hold Gordon up in the palm of his hand and watch his little whiskers bristle as he tried to work out exactly what it was that Ethan was up to.

Speaking of Ethan, exactly what was he up to, anyway? All this talk of miracles and holiness was quite beyond the mad human who had hidden himself within the throng of the crowd that followed the Drow priest. Bloody fools. Honestly, some people would follow the rotting corpse of a donkey if it claimed to be a holy donkey. Miracles indeed. What had he done, exactly? Allegedly healed Lyssia, though nobody had seen her since this 'healing' so who knows what went on there? So then, an unconfirmed healing and now a few apple trees. Admittedly, the apple tree thing was a damn good trick... damn good, but was it a miracle? Hardly on a par with moving mountains or raising the dead now, was it?

Joshua shook his head and smirked at the "oohs" and "ahhs" muttered by those around him. Hadn't they even noticed that he still hadn't actually mentioned where the hell these powers came from.. sure, he'd claimed they were from the heavens but these people seemed to just assume they had come from Darden. Joshua may have been slightly insane but at least he was able to listen to what people said whereas this lot that had gathered seemed to be hearing what they wanted to hear. Now, if Ethan did an actual honest to god miracle then maybe, just maybe, Joshua would reappraise the situation in favour of the Drow but he refused to be impressed by healing and fruit.

He didn't really know Ethan, though, in fact he wasnt't sure that they'd ever met even when Ethan had worked for Maledict during the conversion of some elf who's name escaped him. What he did know was that The Torturer had 'borrowed' Ethan's body when Lyssia had stuck him like a pig, he also knew that when Maledict borrowed a body, the owner never came back yet here he was, large as life and twice as hairy claiming to be a saviour. Again, he shook his head and smirked at the madness of it all.

A huge part of Joshua wanted to move through the crowd and give Ethan the pouch that contained Gordon (his dead pet rat) and say something along the lines of, Here you go then, miracle man, let's see what you can do with that.

Maybe later. For now he would just watch and act like he was in awe.

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Thu Mar 11, 2004 7:26 am
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Shouldering her bag, she tried to decide what to do. Should she move even closer to Ethan? Follow him perhaps? That thought wasn't too appealing. Since she had no idea what he was doing, or how he was doing it she didn't want him to notice her just yet. Something about this situation wasn't right, but she couldn't put her finger on it. Maybe it was just more nerves from what had happened. That was probably it. Even so, her eyes darted around the people, looking for someone else to get her information from.

Silus? No, Silus wasn't alone, and she didn't feel like facing any other people- even a member of the Officium such as Lillian. She was still sore from her attack and riding a horse for Darden only knew how long, hadn't helped any. Silus would understand a surly attitude, but anyone else would probably pick a fight with her and she didn't think a brawl in the middle of the street would do her wounds any good. But if she didn't go to Silus, then who should she go to?

And then, there he was. Joshua. She wasn't necessarily surprised to see him among the throng. He had left Maledict's kingdom a few months before and she knew he would be somewhere in Officium lands. He still had his bag with him, she could see. Gordan. Poor Gordan. She had liked that rat. Absentmindedly, she reached into her own bag, letting her hand fall on the stuffed toy that she so often talked to. She and Joshua understood each other. She would go stand with him.

Reluctantly, she let go of the bear with one last stroke of her hand, then closed her bag and turned toward her friend. Weaving her way between the people still focussing on Ethan and talking in excited whispers to each other, she finally stood beside him, looking toward him with a slight smile.

Seems like a lot of fuss for a tree. I sure would like to know what his game is though...wouldn't you?

Smiling at Joshua again, she moved closer to him, even as she turned to face Ethan again. She couldn't help the shiver that ran up her spine. Something about the drow just wasn't right. It really wasn't.

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Thu Mar 11, 2004 4:03 pm
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I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Silus really believed that Ethan was performing miracles in Darden's name. Through the blessing of Him. I knew I had been gone from the Officium for a long while, but I did not think that things would have changed so much during that time.

Silus, I'm surprised at you! You really thing that Ethan has been blessed by Darden? I do agree that he should be dead, anyone who Maledict inhabits should never survive the ordeal, how he managed I do not know. But blessed by Him? I do not believe it.

I took a good long look at Silus, he seemed different somehow, not so sure of himself. What had happened to make the fierce beast so timid all of a sudden?

Silus, where is Ebony? I've never seen you like this. Where is your mother? Did Lyssia do something to her? It would be just like that witch to have done something.....

Things were definitely not right here. Silus was....well, Silus was hiding in the shadows for Darden's sake, Ebony was nowhere to be found and I didn't recognize any other Sanctum members in the crowd. Ethan alive and performing miracles....I did not believe he was blessed by Darden. It was going to take a lot more than apples in the desert to change my mind.

Silus take me to Ebony, I would like to know what she thinks of these miracles.

The crowd was starting to lose it's interest in the trees that had appeared under Ethan's magic "touch". It was begining to disperse. If Ethan wanted to keep their attention he'd better do something and quick. Spout out more of his prophetic ramblings, blessings from Darden, complete and utter foolishness. These desert people were like sheep. Mindless creatures following wichever way the wind blew them. Today it is Ethan, tomorrow who knows...I stiill wanted to talk to Ebony. She would know what to make of these things. I only hoped that nothing had happened to her.

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"When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I've never tried before." [/center]


Thu Mar 11, 2004 10:08 pm
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I hang my head at Lillian's words, ashamed of myself, ashamed of my words, ashamed of everything. Why can't I understand things as other people do? Is it too much to ask for that I should one day be able to see the world as others do and not as black and white as it is to me? I look at the world and I see heathens and faithful, an easy distinction, one side are His blessed ones, the others must be shown no mercy, they must be cleansed of their belief in the false ones. Yes it is simple, easy, obvious to me...though not right as I have noticed countless times before. I know Mother always told me that heathens play their part in His divine plans but I never thought that that meant that they should be allowed to live. And yet more than once I have seen them allowed to live, spared from death by what canonly be Darden's will. So the world is not black and white, right and wrong, it's not so easy or simple and everyone else can see that. But not me, my mind cannot grasp that, it sees things as one way or another, no in between, no other choice. Why can't I see the shades of grey like everyone else does?

When I look at Ethan I see a priest of Darden, a priest that Mother trusted and confided in, a priest that she told me to believe. And I see him performing miracles, things that I have never seen him accomplish before, that I have never seen anyone manage. Not even the witch has ever been able to cause such bounty to rise from the dry sands as Ethan has. So in my mind Ethan, who Mother trusted so much, is capable of miracles. And the only way he could perform miracles is if Darden gave him the ability to, touching the drow priest with some portion of His glory. That's the only way this kind of thing could happen isn't it? It seems obvious to my mind but...but Lillian seems to think otherwise and I know that she sees the world far more clearly than I do. She sees the greys where I only see the black and the white.

My shoulders slump as I try to understand what's happening as my thoughts slowly come together. Father Ethan was taken by the Torturer when the witch killed the flesh of the demon, I know that, I remember how Maledict spoke through him. It was strange to hear Ethan's voice with Maledict's words, strange to see how the Torturer's soul twisted the flesh of the drow priest that Mother and I knew so well. Maybe...maybe it was Darden's will that Father Ethan survive being possessed by the Torturer? Maybe He wanted him to survive so that he could perform these seven miracles for the faithful?, my words are hesitant, nervous and I still can't bring myself to tear my gaze away from the ground. I don't want to look up and see her looking at him disapprovingly, I don't want to look into her eyes and find out if she thinks I am stupid or slow-witted.

Quietly I say, Mother said to trust Father Ethan, she said I should.

And I can't...can't take you to see Mother. Well I could but she wouldn't talk to you, she can't talk to anyone, not know, not for a long time. Her body's there but...but...I know my words are twisting around one another, making no sense. Lillian probably thinks that my wits are addled, that I have truly become nothing more than a beast, incapable of holding even the simplest conversation. I must seem like such a disappointment to her, to everyone, unworthy of calling myself the son of the Vision-Seeker. Once again I try to explain myself to Lillian, my brow furrowing with the effort, Mother is...Mother can't lead the tribes of the desert anymore, well not at the moment. I have to lead them, I have to look after them, protect them till she wakes up again.

She won't understand, no she doesn't know does she? Well she obviously doesn't, if she knew what had happened to Mother then she would never have asked to speak with her. No one can speak with Mother right now, well they can but they don't get any kind of answer. I know that better than anyone, I've spent days craddling her head, stroking her hair, telling her everything that's happened and not once have I had an answer. I should..I should explain what happened. A while ago the banner of the Officium fell...no that's right the right place to start. The...the...that is...Mother sent me to find the Torturer, she wanted him to come to the desert to talk to her. But I never made it, men came after me with foul heathen magic and strange metal chains. They bound me, kept me from returning to Mother and protecting her. I should have been there for her, it might never have happened if I had been there to stop anyone from hurting her.

On the day that the banner of the Officium was taken down Mother took the witch into the mountains. Father Eskil said that they were gone for hours and that everyone was starting to worry that something had happened to them. Finally they returned and Mother was informed that the Sanctum was no more and then they told her that no word had been heard from me, that I had disappeared. The witch was with her at that time as well, the time when Mother collapsed to the sands. Her eyes closed and she fell into...well it lookslike she's asleep but no one can wake her up, I know I've tried so very hard. I move closer to Lillian, not wanting my words overheard by any, I think the witch had something to do with it but I can't prove it, she's cunning and too clever to leave any evidence of her actions. But she had been with Mother most of that day, she was there when Mother fell, she had to have had something to do with it. She had to. I just can't prove it.

I wish I knew what Mother thought of these miracles, Mother would know if they were of Darden. But Mother doesn't speak anymore, she just lays on the temple altar, sleeping but not waking up. I want Mother to wake up but she doesn't. All I know is that she said I could always trust Father Ethan, I have to believe that, I have to.

_________________
[center]~~~SO~~~
Beast of Darden, Child of Ebony
I don't do this because I hate you, but rather because He loves you[/center]


Fri Mar 12, 2004 9:33 am
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Anjolie had followed the dark skinned priest almost as if she had been in a trance, a soft smile etched across her features. He had known her name, and she could see in His eyes that her name was not the only thing He knew of her. In her heart she knew that she would follow this man to the ends of the earth if He asked her to, and probably even if He didn't ask. Her pale blue eyes followed the drow's every movement, sparkling with wonderment as the red sands yielded richly laden fruit trees. If His powers were not a blessing from the Dark Lord, then everything she had stood for since winning her freedom from the diamond mines was a lie. She quickly glanced over her shoulder to give an 'I told you so' smile to Zina, but the elf priestess was at the very back of the crowd, staring darkly at man before them all. Anjolie watched her for a brief moment, but the elf turned to leave without ever making eye contact with her human protegé. 'How could one who claims to serve Darden faithfully not see his hand on this priest?'

Several in the crowd were in awe, but there were still many who seemed skeptical. The woman caught many whispers wondering how Ethan could have such powers. It took all of her restraint not to yell in aggravation at these people. How could they be blind to what was beautifully obvious to her? She moved among them until she stepped from the throng and stood beneath the bowed limbs of the apple trees. One bright red fruit caught her eye, so she reached up and plucked it from the tree. She offered an almost shy smile to the one called Ethan as she polished apple on the soft leather that was wrapped and laced about her torso. Anjolie brought the fruit to her lips and took a bite. Instantly, her mouth was filled with a sweetness unlike any she had known. The fruit was perfectly crisp and firm yet juicy and sweet. Her eyes fell closed as she chewed the morsel. If this was merely a foretaste of His future works, it would be a wonder if the entire isle wasn't following Ethan faithfully before the seventh miracle.

She absently handed the remainder of the apple to one of her own priests who shared the fruit with his brethren. They would take the core back to their home and plant it there as a reminder if the great man who had brought forth the parent trees from desert sands. Anjolie fell back to her knees in front of Ethan, looking up at Him, her face radiant and peace-filled. She would wait for a word of instruction from Him, or at least for Him to move to another location. Whatever the case, she was ready to do His will.

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Sat Mar 13, 2004 2:26 am
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He picked himself up off the ground where he had been hunched up in pain, slowly opening his eyes to the outside world once more.

Such was the amazement at the priest and the miracle he had supposedly performed that apparently no one had noticed him collapse in pain. He had no real concept of how long he had been on the ground; he had no awareness of it; it could have been for as little as a heartbeat, or even for a full turn of the moon, but he guessed that it was only for a few short moments. He was glad that no one had noticed or approached him, either; he didn’t want to show weakness before all of these people of the desert that he knew next to nothing about.

He finally looked up to see what everyone was enthralled by…and blinked his eyes in astonishment. His mind interpreted the information that was before him even as he found it hard to quite believe what his eyes were showing him: seven apple trees, in the middle of the desert, where only a short time before there had only been dry sand. A miracle, in truth. Although he had never lived in the desert itself, he had lived close enough – in an almost-always hot, dry city – to know that water could never be taken for granted. Yet this display of power, if it was real…for trees to suddenly come into being in any place was more than enough to wonder at. But in a desert? It was nothing short of unbelievable.

He shook himself, thinking once more on the pain that was afflicting him, although now it had subsided down to bearable levels. Was he dealing with this properly? Was he looking at this from the right direction, taking the right approach? He had come to this place in the desert hoping to find loyal followers of Darden, hoping to find members of the Sanctum Officium. Knowing that he had to, somehow, and he had done that and more. But what had he really been expecting? To be accepted with open arms with no proof of his loyalty to Darden?

In truth, he hadn’t really considered it, or anything else, only feeling the drive to get to this place. But now that he thought about it, he realised that he had been foolish. Darden was the one true God, the God of suffering and despair. So, what was pain except a gift from God? Could the pain that was affecting him be some kind of initiation, some kind of introduction to the worship of his chosen God?

If Darden truly worked his will through this priest, as it seemed, the miracles still must come at a price if only to prove the loyalty of his followers. A sacrifice always had to be made. Could it be that he, as the latest member of the Sanctum Officium, formed some part of that sacrifice? Blaming the priest for the pain seemed foolhardy, in that light; he might not even be aware of the discomfort he was causing Corduin. It could well be Darden inflicting this pain Himself, perhaps both as part of the sacrifice and to test the resolve of his newest follower.

And here I am, complaining? I should be honoured to feel his touch, to be aware of him in this, or any other, way.

Ethan can perform miracles such as these, deep in lands fiercely loyal to Darden. There can be no reason other than the lord Darden himself granting him this power. And anything coming from this power should be revered and treasured, even this pain. I should be ashamed of myself. I must not fail Him again.


He looked around him once more. He could hear the mutterings of disquiet in the crowd, people wondering aloud at what Ethan had said and done, voicing their fears at the legitimacy of the priest’s claims. He saw a woman move to one of the trees, the same woman that had earlier thrown herself before Ethan, taking an apple and biting from it once, then again. The final vestiges of doubt left his mind, the thoughts that this could be some illusion by a power-mad priest fell away from him. This was the work of Darden, there could be no doubt.

He stepped forward. Perhaps this was what Darden wanted; for him, a newcomer, to try to open the eyes of the older, and no-doubt wiser, of His followers, in the same way that the woman had just now caused the full opening of his eyes and mind with her devotion and belief.

He had meant to say it just to Ethan, but somehow it came out much louder and more like a shout, a shout of worship. The buzzing in his head was affecting him again but now he revelled in it, treasuring the pain as a gift from Darden.

Praise Darden! Praise this man, who does his work.

He fell to his knees in the sand, bowing his head before the man who truly was touched by God.

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Mon Mar 15, 2004 12:48 pm
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A smile graced his full lips as he watched Anjolie enjoy one of the freshly created apples. A smile or a smirk? In truth, it was difficult to tell, either way, he seemed pleased. Then the one known as Corduin suddenly broke down and 'saw the light' as it were, and almost instantly the man's aura pulled toward Ethan. The drow's eyes were still milky white and it seemed that this new improved sight wouldn't be leaving him anytime soon. The thing about it was that Ethan couldn't quite conclude whether it was a blessing or a curse. He had a lot of thinking to do when he was finally alone. A lot of thinking.

At least the voices had gone though, those damnable persistant voices in his head telling him what to do, who to speak to, who to seek out, who to .. kill. Since Darden blessed him with this gift of miracles he had heard nothing from those voices. Perhaps the Father of Sorrows had burned them away with his despair when he had chosen Ethan for this gift, or perhaps they had..


you're not safe here, forgotten one. have to move, have to keep moving.

Or perhaps they had not gone at all. A look of sorrow suddenly dimmed his happy countenance and his heart sank. His gaze flitted nervously across the crowd before him and for the first time since leaving the temple he seemed unsure of what to do or say next.

MOVE!!

The voice thundered within his mind and felt as though it's echoes would explode from his skull and spatter across his audience. Yet he could not disobey them, he had found out the hard way what the price for disobedience was. The Desert people knew he wasn't the Ethan that the blind seer had brought to them, and they were right, they just probably didn't know exactly how right.

Without a word he pushed his way through the crowd, stopping halfway to catch sight of a familiar face, a face that brought dark memories flooding to the forefront of his mind. It was her the demon's bitch, the Torturer's lover. He had felt the desires of the flesh when the Torturer had invaded his body, the time he pushed her against a tree he had felt himself become intoxicated with need, with lust, and even though he had not been in control of his body at the time he still managed to feel guilty. His gaze caught hers momentarily and he pushed on before she could react to him or worse... talk to him.

When he had finally reached the end of the crowd he walked faster and faster until he was jogging and soon he was sprinting across the sands like a man possessed.


Why? He yelled breathlessly Why do you come back now? Why now? When I have finally been chosen by Darden?

The silence the followed was unbearable, and so he concentrated on the slap of his sandled feet against the sands that were cooling beneath the lunar light. He didn't even look back to see if anyone was following. Then the laughing began. Terrible mocking laughter resounding in his head without mercy or reprieve.

Stop! He cried, seemingly uncaring of whether or not anyone but the voices within heard him. Stop laughing at me!

Eventually they did.

darden, forgotten one? darden? surely you remember the deal we brokered? the promises we made and have kept? forgotten one forgets too easily. forgotten one needs to remember his place in the scheme of things. yess. needs to remember who he answers to.

Then he remembered and the revelation caused him to stop in his tracks, fall to his knees and weep. He wept for himself, for all the people he had ever known and would ever know, but most of all, he wept for Maxim.

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Sat Mar 20, 2004 6:59 pm
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Well it seems obvious to me that he's off his bloody head, love. Joshua whispered his answer as he leaned closer to Demetria hoping the none of these new converts would hear him. I mean look at him. He shook his head pitifully. Stark staring bonkers.

Joshua looked back over at Ethan and the woman eating the apple and he grinned slightly. I'm half expecting that poor girl to keel over screaming about stomach cramps any moment now. Then he felt a nudge at his back and heard someone saying "shhhh". Joshua's face suddenly flushed red and he whirled around to face his would be husher who turned out to be a tall thickset man, not that that worried Joshua.

Don't you hush me, my friend, or you'll find yourself eating a gourmet meal of liver and kidneys. He stepped a little closer and the man stepped back. Yours. Though Joshua was not a large man, he was very intimidating and most of the time he could back it up and the tall thickset husher could obviously see this just by looking into Joshua's eyes because he soon moved back and lost himself in the crowd.

Joshua then turned his attention back to Demetria. I mean, people used to call me mad for talking to Gordon. He then pulled the pouch from his belt and opened it right under Demetria's nose. You remember Gordon? The puch was then replaced as quickly as it had been taken. Though none of them would ever say it to my face. Well, some did but they soon learnt the error of their ways after being staked out in the woods with animal blood daubed all over them. Oh yes, they soon learnt alright. A puzzled look of 'where was I?' dashed across his face just before his eyes sparkled with remembrance. The thing is, at least Gordon spoke back to me but this fool, he speaks to Darden, no less! Now you answer me this, Demetria, has Darden ever said a bloody word to you? I mean ever?

As he waited for her reply he noticed a small commotion and saw that Ethan was bustling his way through the crowd. Well now, where's he off to I wonder? Let's follow him.

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Sat Mar 20, 2004 7:15 pm
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She stared in confusion after Ethan after He ran from the crowd. For a moment she didn't move, trying to understand the change that had washed across His once calm features in the time before He'd left. The sadness that creased His dark brow had torn at her very heart. However, her concern far outweighed her confusion, and soon Anjolie was tearing after the priest, carelessly pushing people out of her way in her haste to catch up to Him. What good was following a Man when she let Him run away from her without first finding out where He was going?

She charged heedlessly out into the sands in time to hear Ethan shout something about people laughing at Him. Her steps slowed, but she kept moving towards Him, her head cocked to the side and her baby blue eyes glinting in puzzlement. She tucked a stray piece of dark brown hair behind her ear as she inched forward respectfully. When He fell to His knees weeping, all sense of decorum vanished. With a faint gasp, Anjolie lurched forward and wrapped her arms about Him. Her long fingers stroked His arms and shoulders in an attempt to provide Him with some measure of comfort. 'But of course...being graced by our lord Darden is bound to bring more than mere miracles. He is the god of suffering, and the One touched by his grace would feel that suffering accutely.' Her lower lip trembled at the thought of what Ethan was suffering to bring the light of truth to the lands. 'Such strength of spirit and will He must have.'

The woman slowly rocked with Him in her arms, making what comforting noises she could. All too suddenly, though, she realized what she was doing and froze. Her arms dropped and she awkwardly pulled away from the priest. Her eyes searched the harsh red sands as her mind moved frantically for words of apology and explanation. Never before had she done such a thing, and to do it to One such as Him...

"M-my apologies, Ethan. I-it was not my place to..." she managed to stammer before her throat went dry. Her eyes remained locked on the ground and a faint blush of embarassment warmed her cheeks. She only hoped that she had not offended Him in her rashness.

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Sat Mar 20, 2004 8:58 pm
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Pseudo-Voodoo Sidhe
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Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2002 5:00 pm
Posts: 629
Location: Somewhere between yesterday and tomorrow
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(OOC: This comes from here.)

In the furthest reaches of the temple...

She had caught a flicker of movement out of the corner of her eye, movement from near the entrance to the temple itself. A priest perhaps? But no, the priests of the temple rarely left its shadows during daylight hours, it would have to be quite the emergency for that to happen. The sorceress turned her head towards the movement, but too late to see anything of the features of those who had just left the temple. Against the light of the outside world they were little more than black smudges to the Sidhe woman's eyes, shapes that she could not match to anyone that she knew. Had one...no surely not...a centaur in Culaearien? As a race the centaur numbered fewer than the surviving Sidhe of the isle to the best of Lyssia's knowledge, to see one at all was a rare event, to find one in the desert? Unheard of as far as she knew.

Perhaps she had still not recovered from the trial that she had put her body through earlier. Maybe, even after Ethan had used his unexpected power to heal her, she still was not back to her full strength. It was quite possible that her mind was playing tricks on her after all she had recently put herself through. The Art had demanded a heavy price, one that she would certainly not have been able to pay and survive if circumstances had been different. It had drained her both mentally and physically, and though the damage to her body had been repaired by Ethan, what about the damage to her mind? Every thought was exhausting, every memory an uphill struggle to recall, if all that was happening why shouldn't her senses also choose to act up? Though why they should choose to imagine a centaur was quite beyond her.

I think, she she began but then paused, first glancing at the Anub-Re priest and then back towards the entrance as if she expected to see another centaur at any moment. I think perhaps our talk of portals and such will have to wait for another day, sometime in the future when we have had the chance to speak to others outside the desert on the matter. There are others that I know of who may be able to help us on this matter, at least with their experience of these things if nothing else. Unaware of what was transpiring outside, the sorceress had found herself caught up in a conversation concerning magic with the Anub-Re warpriest Nariaki. A contingent of Anub-Re had travelled to the red desert with Elador, their Herald of Dawn, to question the sorceress on the matter of arcane blue flames found within their tunnels. The Sidhe woman had been the cause of the fires, the physical manifestation of the shields that she had set up around the realms loyal to the Officium.

The portals could wait for another time, for now other matters called to her curiousity. The question of whether the centaur was real or not was only a minor one really. What had Ethan been up to though, now there was something that she would be interested in knowing. He had spoken of miracles when he had last been in the temple...had it really been a miracle that he had performed to heal her? Miracles, well in truth she could claim little knowledge of such things, only Ethan had ever claimed to do them though the history books and religious texts were full of rumours of them. Miracle or perhaps just some dormant magical ability? Either way it intrigued the Sidhe, there could be some way that she could turn the events to serve her own cause.

She walked towards the temple's entrance, slowly allowing her eyes time to adjust to the pale moonlight outside. The sorceress had not been outside since she had been brought back to the safety of the central settlement by the unknown tribesmen who had found her. Even the dim light of the moons made her eyes ache, causing her to squeeze them shut and turn her head away till the pain subsided.

Eventually her eyes grew accustomed to the pale light beyond the entrance to the temple and she could see that the area outside was empty. Not a soul could been seen nearby, not entirely unusual it was true but still...she could not put her finger on it but something seemed other than it should be. It was as though the air carried a hint of expectation, the merest suggestion that something might happen. Lyssia frowned slightly, unsure of what was going on only certain that not all was as it normally was in Culaearien.

The central settlement of the red desert was formed of a series of circle radiating out from the temple, crude roads stretching from the centre to the edges in almost straight lines. She squinted along one of the streets, thinking that she saw what might have been a crowd on the outskirts of the settlement. Perhaps you can see what I cannot, she said to her guests, pointing in the direction of the possible crowd. Crowds were not a common sight in the tribal lands, they tended to occur only when the tribes gathered together in times of war or trade, not something that happened during times of peace in the desert. What then had caught the attention of the people in the red desert?

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SO - Into darkness...
Hlasta! Quetis Ilfirimain
Elador's Sváss


Sun Mar 21, 2004 10:19 am
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Stablehand
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Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2003 12:21 pm
Posts: 24
Location: Reading, UK
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The Anub-Re follow the sorceress out of the shadowy interior of the Temple. Kiyomori's thoughts race, half-formed ideas chasing each other around the inside of his head.

The arcane fires that burn in the tunnels are the work of the sorceress, walling the realms of the Officium away from the attentions of the heathens for a time. In truth, the sept-leader cannot blame her for her choice. The isle crawls with heathens and not even the Sanctum have the strength to face them alone. Darden's faithful might seek to defeat the benighted worshippers of false gods, but even the most devout must eventually reach a time when no more can be given.

Perhaps it is for the best if the Officium turns away from the wars for a time in order to recover it's strength. Leaving the heathens to damn their souls by their sinful actions might, at first, seem wrong, but Kiyo is aware that to continue battling on when all strength is exhausted, is to lose the battle. To fight on now will destroy the Sanctum, and then who will there be to liberate the sinners, to redeem their souls in the agony of their deaths?

The small group approach the Temple doors, the cool night air washing over them as they do.

Perhaps you can see what I cannot,

Kiyomori narrows eyes accustomed to the shadowed gloom of the Dark Below. To such eyes, adapted for conditions the Sidhe, like most surface-dwellers, would most likely find black as ink, the conditions are not hindering in the slightest. Yet it is not Kiyomori's voice than answers the sorceress.

I see a crowd gathered at the edge of the settlement, Lyssia of Culaearien, a crowd of the people of your settlement

Elador's voice, calm and quiet. Elador, born a surface-dweller, born a heathen. Reborn in the shadows a changed man ... if "man" he still truely is. Changed both physically and mentally by his time in the shadow, the man Elador once was has been forged anew into the Herald of Dawn. Some of the physical changes are obvious - the Shadowborn's ash-grey skin contrasts vividly with the pale pink of most of the human residents in the Sunlit Lands. Others, such as the Herald's eyesight, as good as an Anub-Re's, are less apparent.

Nothing is said, nothing is agreed, but the group from the Temple head, as one, towards the crowd.

The desert tribes are garbed in their customary loose robes, flowing reds and browns. They are gathered around ...


That's odd. That's very odd...

The trees are laden with ripe fruit, a deep red contrasting with the vibrant green of the leaves.

I've never seen anything that large growing in the red sands of Culaearien before

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0100 GMT Saturday 27th March 2004
Forever remembered


Sun Mar 21, 2004 10:32 am
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Joined: Thu Dec 04, 2003 8:38 am
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Location: Here!
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Corduin was still on his knees, now gazing up at Ethan with a look of pure devotion on his face. The priest's milk-filled eyes rested on him for a moment; his heart inexplicably filled with joy, even as he reveled in the formerly annoying pain inside his mind. Any form of misery granted by Darden was something to be relished, and would make him stronger.

Was this what he had been called for? He had felt the summons that day in the city when he heard of the shield around the desert; that day, he knew that he needed to be there. And he had come, believing that he was to join the ranks of the Sanctum and contribute to the cause of Darden. Which he would have done gladly, of course, and would have been honoured to serve as a dutiful follower. But now...now things were different. Could it have been more than just happenstance that Ethan had begun to perform his miracles at the very same time that he had finally arrived at the settlement in the desert? Any chance encounters could have delayed his passage, or prevented his journey from the city; but no, his arrival had instead been perfectly timed. Was this what he had been called for?

Serving the God of despair through becoming a member of such a powerful guild would certainly have been a great honour, no matter if his position in such a guild was minor. But could this be a part of his destiny instead? Could this be a road he was meant to tread upon? Rather than merely serving in the guild...could he instead have been chosen to be a disciple of this Ethan? To assist him in whatever ways he could. To spread the word of the one that Darden's hand clearly rested upon. To try to convince even the most skeptical of Darden's loyal followers that this man truly was walking in the light of God.

Corduin had undergone a major conversion, and was even now floating on the feelings that had brought...yet still, he wasn't ignorant of all that was going on around him. He could hear the mutterings in the crowd behind him, from all sides. He knew they doubted; not what they had actually seen with their own eyes of course, but instead they doubted the motives and powers that Ethan had developed. He knew, because he had felt that same doubt only a few short moments before. But he had realised his mistake - he could clearly see now that Ethan was touched by God - and so could the rest of them, he was sure of it. And if the miracles themselves weren't enough...well, he was prepared to try to convince each of them, all of these strangers. One by one, if necessary.

Sudden movement from Ethan brought him out of his reverie. The priest was walking swiftly away, pushing through the crowd; Corduin rose to follow in his wake, wondering whether there were more miracles in store. But first, even as he noticed the woman rush after Ethan, he moved to the newborn tree and plucked an apple. Not because he wanted to test the truth of Ethan's works, never that. Instead, he wanted to consume some part of the miracle that had been performed, so that he too might feel some touch of Darden within him.

It tasted good, unsurprisingly - sweet, juicy, crunchy - and brought welcome moisture to his lips in the harsh heat of the desert sun. Satisfied, he moved swiftly off in the direction that Ethan, and then the woman, had headed.

He followed in their wake, moving through the same path they had taken through the crowd. It was easy to know where they had gone, even though they were no longer in sight; most people were looking in the direction they had taken, others already beginning to move in that direction too. Corduin moved faster than they did though, wanting to catch up to He who had been touched, wanting to witness everything he did.

He pushed insistently through the bustling crowd, then past it and away from the settlement across the moonlit sands. He heard what sounded like a shout from ahead, but couldn't quite make out the words, nor identify their source in the semi-darkness. But then, finally, he could see them ahead of him, and he could see the woman with her arms around Ethan. He stopped, suddenly consumed by a flash of jealousy. He wanted to be in the position the woman seemed to have taken, he realised ashamedly. He wanted to be in close proximity to the one who performed miracles, the one with the touch of God very firmly on him. But here this woman was, for some reason holding him to herself. He would have to wait and hope for a better chance to get closer to the man.

With some difficulty he quelled his jealousy, but still turned away quickly so he wouldn't have to see her taking the place he would like to fill. Not actually hugging the man, of course...but being beside him, lending him the support he needed when he needed it. He hoped he would eventually get the chance to serve in that way.

Positioned in such a way that his back was to Ethan and the woman, he was now facing those that followed behind him. He decided that it was time to start spreading the word, to begin his self-appointed work of trying to convince the loyal Darden followers of the righteousness of Ethan's miracles, and their origins with the one true God, Darden. The first to take his notice was a man and a younger woman, a girl really, walking together. The man had some sort of pouch at his belt, the girl carrying a bag on her back. They were as good a place to start as any, he decided.

My name is Corduin, only recently come to this desert. Have you witnessed the wondrous miracles of Ethan?

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Acolyte of Pain
1am GMT Saturday 27th March 2004
Always Remembered


Sun Mar 21, 2004 8:39 pm
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Stablehand
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Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2002 5:00 pm
Posts: 100
Location: Your nightmares.
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"The thing is, at least Gordon spoke back to me but this fool, he speaks to Darden, no less! Now you answer me this, Demetria, has Darden ever said a bloody word to you? I mean ever?"

She blinked at the question, not certain how to answer it. There were so many people around that she was hesitant to say what she was really thinking- but Joshua was one of the few that she felt she could trust with the information she'd been keeping bottled up inside for entirely too long. Sharing was not something she was used to though- even if it was just feelings. Slanting her head slightly, she smiled crookedly then quietly answered his question, almost with a whisper.

I have been given information and instructions through my bear.

She patted her bag almost conspiratorily.

In fact, that is how I found you.

She bit her lip and her eyes looked around nervously, glancing at Ethan again.

But Darden does not speak to me. I don't think he does. If he did, he would have come himself instead of sending his message through the shadow when....

She shook her head, not wanting to remember the shadow. Especially now that the sun had gone down and shadows were dancing everywhere. She felt herself shiver at the thought that there might be some form of shadow that could still find her. She hadn't gone into the temple because it was so dark. And she wouldn't repeat what had happened to anyone. Not when she knew it was her fault. She hadn't stopped it from happening. And they had said themselves she deserved it. Because she was lacking. She knew that much was true.

I am not faithful enough for Darden to speak to me.

She didn't even realize she'd said that much out loud, lost in her own thoughts as she was. Joshua's next words, snapped her attention back to where she stood however.

Well now, where's he off to I wonder? Let's follow him.

Nodding at her friend quickly, she readjusted her pack and began to walk, certain that Joshua would keep up. Ethan was in a great hurry. Agitated. Now would be the perfect time to see just what he was doing. Except that several other people seemed to have the same idea of following him. Glancing at Joshua again, she blinked as she heard the voice next to her.

My name is Corduin, only recently come to this desert. Have you witnessed the wondrous miracles of Ethan?

I have seen what he did with the trees. It is indeed....extraordinary.

She watched Corduin closely. Another one beguiled by Ethan. She would need to be careful what she said around this one then. It wouldn't help her find out what she wanted to know, if Ethan heard that she was skeptical or saying things against his actions. She smiled at the newcomer slightly.

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It's not paranoia if they really are out to get you.
Desire is hunger is the fire I breathe...
...the night belongs to us.


Mon Mar 22, 2004 3:47 pm
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