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 Seeress and Sorceress, Dogma and Doubt 
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Pseudo-Voodoo Sidhe
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Post Seeress and Sorceress, Dogma and Doubt
(OOC:This thread is for two of my alts to sort some things out, if anyone else wants to join in could they please contact me first.)


Lyssia stood on the steps of the humble desert building watching as the ordinary folk of the settlement went about their business. It almost seemed eerie to her, to see the people scurrying about, the children playing, traders going about their affairs, all as she might expect and yet all in complete silence. If she hadn't know better the Sidhe woman would have sworn that each and every one had had their tongues cut out from their heads. It wasn't natural to experience such quiet, not outside some temple or holy place at the very least. Though she had often known people to keep their tongues tied when about strangers or new folk, children were an entirely different matter.

Children laughed, they shouted, they cried when they fell over and scraped their knees, calling for their mother's comfort. They might stay silent if someone new to their home like herself tried to engage them in conversation. But to remain quiet all the time, to never let a single murmur pass their lips? No that was wrong, they should at least be chattering to one another, talking of all those things that seem so important to a youngling. Yet they never spoke, not of games nor friends, the children were always as stonily voiceless as their elders.

But they weren't unhappy, of that the sorceress was certain, the smiles that danced upon their faces were not strained or false. These people were genuinely satisfied with their lots in life even if they never spoke a word.

There again why should they talk endlessly just to prove that they were happy? More than once Lyssia had met those who chattered continuously to hide their own fears and dreads, hoping to drown out the whispers of their own minds. And then there were people who just seemed to like the sound of their own voices, never shutting up in case they had to listen to another soul's point of view. Just because those people were the norm she had grown to think that silence indicated that something was wrong. She had little doubt that most others would think the same if they were in her shoes, distrusting the desert people's quiet manner as a sign of some great duplicity on their part.

Lyssia sighed as she watched the noiseless populace, these were not her people, not anything like the fae that had made their homes in her city of Gyppeswyk. Those people had been full of noise and amusement, laughing sometimes just to hear the sound alone. Their songs and joys had delighted her, many was the time when she had walked among them in disguise just to watch them enjoy the time alotted to them. But the euphoria of those days was cold in her heart now, the people that had sparked it long dead.

All about the small settlement the red desert stretched, seemingly so barren and empty, at first glance it would almost seem as though nothing could possibly survive out there. But these people had proved that thought wrong, they had shown themselves more than capable of bringing the desert into bloom. Where dust swirlled and appeared to hold domain secret springs of water bubbled to the surface, hardy plants dug their roots in deeply and animals hid from the midday sun. The desert might seem dead but it continued life enough if only you knew where to look for it. But so few did, keeping to the green verdant lands instead where crops were plentiful and easily grown, thinking the desert a dead place, one not worthy of their attentions. Perhaps it was for the best that they thought that, it meant that the number of people who sought out this place could be numbered on one hand, it was definitely safest.

The Sidhe woman looked towards the buildings that radiated outwards from the town's central point, a Dardenite temple. Each and every building, save for the church, stood no higher than a single storey, clinging to the ground as if they feared that the desert wind would rip them away. A harsh red stone formed each dwelling and storehouse, chistled out by the untiring hands of men in one of the mountain mines and brought here by their sweat and toil. And once they had been dragged here someone had sat down and carved words of faith into each brick, the 'wisdom' of Darden there for all to see every moment of their lives.

Lyssia smiled bitterly at the sight of those words, the presence of so much faith practically making her sick to the pit of her stomach. Whatever else these people were she knew that they were fanatics, so devouted to their God that they would throw their lives down to satisfy His smallest whim. Such fevour was almost as red rag to a bull to her, it made her innards twist in the desire to scream out 'Don't you see this all to be false?' at them. She wanted to grab the nearest peasant and shake him by the collar till he saw sense; the Gods cared nothing for their followers, They only cared for the amusement that the sacrifice of those people provided. But these people would never understand that, they would never understand why she could hate the Divine so. If harm came to them then they called it the 'will of Darden' and simply accepted it, revelling in the fatc that their Lord had a purpose for them. They never stopped to think about why they should give up their hearts and souls to a God who would throw their lives away as carelessly as a farmer discards the chaff from the wheat.

Why will you never understand?, she whispered softly from the doorway, not really wanting any of them to hear her. If they heard one of them would simply tell the priests and then she would have to endure another of their sermons on why she should let Darden into her heart. Lyssia had no intention of suffering another one of them just as she had no intention of offering her soul to the God of Sorrows. She'd had enough of the world of faith and belief, all that had died for her when Kara's life had ended, when Foret had failed to intervene. There had been a time when she had actively tried to convince others to see her version of reality. But it hadn't done any good and now she was content enough to go through life and merely despair at the foolishness of others to so mindless believe.

Perhaps witch it is you that do not understand, Ebony's words came suddenly, startling the Sidhe. Lyssia had not known that the blind woman was behind her so quietly had she stepped, never disturbing anything that might alert the sorceress to her presence. It never failed to amaze Lyssia how one who was handicapped by the removal of her sight was at the same time so able to move about without bumping into anything. The blind seeress's other senses must have developed to a level where they were able to compensate for her lost eyes, hearing, touching, tasting, smelling all that needed to survive in the world.

The empty eye sockets stared back at her, reminding Lyssia continually of what a fanatic was capable of. There had once been eyes in Ebony's face, ones that had been as capable as anyone elses, ones that had looked upon the world and seen its wonders and horrors in equal measure. But they were gone now, sliced out and offered up in sacrifice, one that the human had willingly submitted to. There was the mark of the fanatic, the proof that faith was dangerous, a woman who would give up her eyes and do damage to herself to show her Lord that she loved Him best, it should never have happened.

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Hlasta! Quetis Ilfirimain
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Sun Nov 10, 2002 3:43 pm
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Yes it is she who does not understand, she whose vision is so clouded that she cannot accept the plain truth even when it is set before her. I wish that I could wave my hand and brush away the mental blanket that keeps her from seeing all that Darden is. But I cannot, instead I must stand here and only know that there is such distrust, almost hate, for the Gods in her heart. That the witch despises the Eldest God and the Battlemaiden is pleasing, but that she feels the same away about the God of Sorrow is another matter entirely. I know that He would accept her into His flock if only she willed it so, but her preconceptions about the Lord have molded her mind to such an extent that I fear it can never be undone.

I lean heavily against the wall to her side, feeling suddenly so tired, as if my bones had aged a hundred years in a single moment. This is a test, I tell myself, a test from the Lord that I, as His devoted servant, must complete to the best of my skill. I knew that He would deliver Lyssia to me even before I ever knew her name, He had shown me that much in my visions. Back then I had thought that simply finding her would be the most complex task, I had not thought beyond finding her, I had never imagined that she would be one of those misguided ones who chooses not to follow any of the Divine.

To follow no God at all...such a alien concept to me. Even the heathens have belief, however wrong it is, they have faith, a trust that there is something of greater power and intelligence than them. But as of late there have been more and more whisperings reaching me of kingdoms that do not believe in the Gods, of lords and ladies who actively abhor the higher powers of the heavens. When they look at the world what do such people think? How can they not see the hand of Darden in it all?

My people toil and even though they keep their silence I can still make out the stuffling of feet against the sand, the movement of bodies as they go about their business. The sight of them may be forever denied to me but my others senses long ago grew to compensate the loss of my eyes. Too many people rely on their sight alone, never realising how often it can be decieved by the foolishness of their own minds. The silence unnerves the Sidhe witch, I can sense it as easily as if I were watching each tiny change in expression on her face. Therein lies the difference between her and me, she looks apon the world and expects to hear a tumult of noise, I hear that absence of that tumult and know that I have no need to see.

I rest one hand on the witch's shoulder, feeling her start slightly at the unexpected, or perhaps I should say unwanted, touch. So cold and aloof she stands, always so separate from the rest of the world as if she wishes only to observe it and never be a part of what she sees. Maybe that is not so far from the truth, Darden knows this woman has seen much in her life. Have you never wondered if it is not you who is the one taht is not capable of understanding? I know that the Sidhe would find that a difficult concept to grasp, but not even your race knows all the secrets of the world, only the Lord can claim to know that. No mortal creature of flesh and bone can possibly collect the knowledge of the ages, for we are all creatures of limitations. You should not presume that simply because you see the world and its religions in one way that that way is correct. Your 'truth' may be as flawed and wrong as you believe ours to be.

That argument can just as easily be turned about, she says in soft rebuke, her words as strangely emotionless and yet strained as always. What if you are wrong Ebony? What if you have given up your sight for a God who either does not care for you, or even worse, one who does not exist at all?

I smile slightly, my belief flowing through me like warm water on cold skin, My faith is enough, I reply simply. You witch need evidence to support your thoughts and assumptions, I need only my belief to sustain me against the lies of the other faiths.

And what of your people? What would happen to them if they dared believe different to you and your faith?

The dry desert air seems to caress against the gentle flesh of my temples, brushing against my lips in a parody of a kiss. Strengthening my grip upon the witch's shoulder I turn her back to face the outside world, to look once more on the people who enjoy Darden's bounty in this realm. Tell me what you see Sidhe, describe for me the details of my realm and then tell me that my people are not content in their faith.

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Wed Nov 13, 2002 3:54 pm
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Slowly Lyssia turned away from the blind woman, tearing her own gaze away from the horrific visage that Ebony presented to the world. Describe the desert realm? To simply try and win this seemingly never-ending argument about faith? Or was it more that she wanted the world about her described because she would never see it again? To Ebony the lands were forever dark, a thick barrier cutting her off from the beauty of the living world. All she had left were the memories of the lands from the time when she had her eyes, colour and shade slipping away from her mind with every age that passed. The sorceress had to admit that no matter what else she thought of the seeress there was pity in her heart for Ebony. To be without the use of her eyes forever? How could Lyssia not feel sorry for the fanatic?

She looked out to the small settlement about her wondering what it would be like to never see again. The sun's rays glimmered at the corner of her eye, reflecting off a few reflective surfaces here and there, the fire of that magnificent orb blazing onto the lands. How would she feel if she were never to see the sight of the sun again? Sunrise would become nothing more than a bitter-sweet memory, a shadow in her mind of what she had once experienced with her sight. And colour? Would colour fade with time in her memory if her eyes were struck down? Were memories in black and white? Did they possess colour? She couldn't think, all the images that flashed through her mind's eye seemed no more than gray, as much feeling and smell and sound as sight. The sorceress knew what the colour red looked like but if she shut her eyes could she remember it? The fear gnawed at her belly as she realised that she couldn't be certain, colours were painted with words in her mind no true memories at all. Blue was...azure and cobalt, sapphire and navy...but exactly what was it? No more than words, not really real at all till she opened her eyes and saw.

A shiver ran down the length of her spine, the thought of being completely without sight making her blood run cold. But would it be any different to be without any of her others senses? To be unable to touch the world, or hear it, were those any less fearful? For some reason the answer came back from the depths of her mind and it was 'yes', the idea of losing her vision was so much more terrifying than any other. Perhaps it was because she relied so much more upon her eyes than anything else that her other senses had 'deadened' to some extent.

Lyssia took a deep breath, trying to cleanse the dark thoughts of blindness from her mind, pushing them away like an enemy that she did not wish to hold near. She felt the tightness in her spine releasing, the ache in her shoulders disapating as the breath passed from the air to her lungs and back again. Her stomach unknotted itself, the feeling of dread-induced nausea relaxing its grip on her innards. Why was it that Ebony could cause her to feel this way? It wasn't simply the sight of the woman's empty eye-sockets, no even that Lyssia knew she could overcome with time. Was the human woman's unquestioning faith in her God? Did the thought of such belief unnerve the Sidhe to such an extent that it could make her feel physically unwell? She couldn't believe that it was just that, the sorceress had known many in her time that were incredibly loyal to their religion. So if it was not appearance or faith then what was putting her so off-balance?

The past?

Ah yes now there was something, a shared past that only one of them seemed to remember. There had been a time, before this world, before even she had first stepped into the waltz of guilds and wars in the old lands, a time when she had...Had she? Yes there it was, the one question that ate away at her everytime she saw the blind woman, that singular puzzle that Ebony posed without ever saying a word. Something that had happened long before either of them had commited themselves to the politics of one God or another. Or had it? Ebony certainly looked like the woman that Lyssia remembered but apparently the woman remembered nothing of it. Could it be that Ebony was not the woman from the sorceress's memory, just someone who happened to look and sound the same?

That question wasn't about to be answered anytime soon, how could it ever be when one of them seemed to remember nothing before she had come to the desert? Lyssia drew her attention away from the endless questions that plagued her mind and tried to focus upon the realm before her. Even if nothing else could be done she would describe the lands for Ebony, for the woman who would never see them for herself again.

The desert stretched in all directions, meeting the moutains to the west and seeming to reach out to the horizon in all other points of the compass. The sands seem red from here but if you look closely enough, if you pick up a handful of it you can see everything from oranges to browns in the grains. As she spoke Lyssia stooped down and collected a sample of the sand in her right hand, letting it slide from one palm to the other, feeling the coarse grains scratch against her skin. Everytime she dropped the sands from one hand into the other more was lost to her grasp, snatched away by the winds or just missing her hand altogether, till finally nothing remained. Where once she had held a hundred thousand tiny sparkling motes of sand now none remained, no one was able to hold onto the desert forever it seemed. Maybe that was why Ebony and her followers were able to live here, beacuse no one who took the lands by force were ever able to hold onto it for long. But if you didn't try to clutch at it, merely lived with it as the Dardenites did, maybe then the desert would keep you and not slip away. For you could never keep the desert, you could only hope that it would keep you.

She looked up from her empty hands, up towards the sky and that single great eye that watched down over the world. There isn't a cloud in the sky, only the sun travels up there, holding to its ceaseless course. Around the sun the sky has turned as crimson as the lands appear, I can feel its warmth upon my skin, like innumerable spirits of heat dancing down on me. It seems strange that something up there can touch me down here, a huge burning fire that lights and heats us and yet we can never touch it. The thought crossed her mind that it must be so very hot up there, nothing would ever sit at the sun's right hand, even the moons flee from its blaze. Soon the sun will have pulled itself above the horizon completely, the shadows will dwindle and grow less, becoming no more than smudges at our feet.

Already the people go about their business, some travelling out to the herds, others baking in their homes, even the priests have begun their devotions.
She looked away from the priests as soon as she had mentioned them, let them see to their flock away from her gaze.

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Hlasta! Quetis Ilfirimain
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Sun Nov 17, 2002 12:48 pm
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I hear her practically stumble over her words as she mentions the priests, the very presence of them disturbing her. It doesn't surprise me, she had spent so long in the wilderness without faith that any who show signs of it unnerve her. That will change one day, I know it will, she will open her heart to Darden, He will show her the glory of His love. Yes one day she will accept His blessings and there will no longer be any hatred in her for the faith of the one true God. Over the ages I have had a hand in opening the eyes of many who have followed the false deities of Foret and Isonia, ushering them into the only salvation, that which is offered by the Lord of Sorrows. But never have I come against the strong will of someoe who has lost all faith in the Gods, somehow it seems more difficult to convince her of the truth. Maybe that is because the others were merely heathens, they understood the concept of faith it was just that their beliefs were misguided, all that was required was a little 'twisting' of their ideology. But with the witch there is so much more involved in recovering her lost faith than simply directing it into Darden's path.

Before I can even think of showing her the sins of her past first I must help her rebuild the blocks of her belief in a greater power. But how? How do you go about convincing one such as her that the Gods do care about the mortal inhabitants of this world? She knows that the Gods exist, has no problem in accepting that these beings look down upon the world and pay attention to its comings and goings. But to worship even one of Them seems abhorrant to her, a very puzzling thought to me.

Her words draw me away from the worrying questions in my mind, I know that Darden will show me the way though this mental maze but it will require time and faith on my part. For now though I can wait and listen to her soft tone as she describes a world I can now only imagine. I do not mourn the loss of my sight, the world of colour and shape still lives on in my memory. And I know that no matter what I have sacrificed it was worth it to pledge myself to Darden, I would give all to please Him. Go on, I urge her gently, Tell me more of what you see witch so that I might paint it brightly in my imagination.

She pauses for a moment and I almost begin to think that she won't speak again, holding to her silence for spite or some other nameless reason. Then she begins once more, her words telling me what my other senses have been trying to depict ever since I offered up my eyes. I remember how difficult it was after the sacrifice, to try and relearn everything that I had taken for granted before. Back then I hadn't realised how much I had relied on my sight, how much all creatures rely on it I suppose. Those first few weeks had been troublesome, trying to remember how the world had looked, trying to find my way through it by touch alone. I'd hurt myself more than once in those fledgling days of blindness, but each flicker of pain had been dedicated to Him and to His eventual victory over the false ones. There had been fear then, just a little but it was there all the ame, fear that I would never adpt to my new dark world. It had only been my faith in Darden that had seen me safely through those days, everytime I faltered I felt His presence, knew that He was watching over the one who had sworn herself to Him. The feeling of Him being so close had pierced me to my core, the bitter-sweet agony like sugar to my senses.

That is what I want to give to the witch, I want her to feel that same impossible love for Him and all that He represents.

...she holds him so closely, his head nestled against her shoulder, they seem so at peace, there is a longing in her voice as she speaks of a mother and her baby son. Her voice makes me think that she's almost jealous of what those two have; that serenity that can only be witnessed in a very few interactions in this world. Does the sorceress long for a child? No I don't think so, no although she longs for that closeness with another it is the tranquility that she desires more than anything else. I know that which she longs for, have experienced it not only in communion with my Lord but in those most private of moments that I have shared with my beloved son, my precious Silus. There is almost some measure of pity almost for the witch, her sadness seems to radiate outwards like a cloud that I can feel and taste on the air.

But it is only 'almost', I cannot allow myself to feel any pity for one who struggles so against the very sensations that she should draw strength from. She feels pain, sorrow, anger, hatred, negative emotions some might call them but powerful ones nonetheless. They are the standards of Darden, these emotions, they are the very thing that fills His bowl to overflowing. The fact that they plague her so must be an indication that He is offering to extend His grace to her, to make her one of His children, He has marked her as one that He has claimed.

And you claim that these people are not happy? Isn't it true that they are far more content now that you are? You who have 'broken' the shackles of your faith, aren't you far more miserable than they appear? They have their faith and are content in it, you have none and are lost in the world, thrown about by its tides and troubles but having nothing to cling to. I rest my hand upon her head, entangling my fingers in her long hair as I speak, telling her of the things that she refuses to see. Come witch, there is a place I want to show you, I lean against her arm, pulling her away from the building. I don't need to see to know where I am going, the path is already traced out brightly in my mind.

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Sanctum Officium - Herald of Despair
Let your death feed the visions
Maledict's Psychiatrist by special appointment[/center]


Wed Nov 20, 2002 3:35 pm
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The blind woman's words worried her far more than Lyssia would ever dare admit to anyone. Was it really true that these people, these fanatics, were more content and happy than she had been in many a long age? She didn't want to tell herself that that was true, how could she? Since Kara's life had been taken the one single over-riding thought that she had been living with was that 'faith' caused nothing but sadness and ruin. it didn't matter what faith, what did it matter if someone followed Darden, or Isonia, or Foret? To Lyssia's eyes it had seemed that believing so deeply in a religion was to court an ill future. After all it was the differing faiths that caused the wars that ravaged the lands, sending who knew how many thousands of innocents to their deaths.

There again, if the faiths did not exist, if there were no seperate deities to claim the hearts and minds of the unwitting, would war be banished? No it wouldn't, she should know that better than any other, she'd seen war, its causes as well as its aftermath. Though there were many who claimed that they fought for the honour of their God alone it was rarely the true cause of any hostilities. Greed was more often than not the real cause, greed and fear, the lust for land, power and status overwhelming all other thoughts. And the fear? That came from the mere thought of losing those things, from being sent tumbling down to the depths by another, too many times she had watched as one group attacked another simply because they were terrified, half out of their wits with fright thinking that they might become the defenders rather than the agressors.

Lyssia would have laughed at those thoughts if her current situation hadn't been so strange. Even thought the workings of the guilds amused her no end, the Sidhe found no pleasure in her heavy heart at single-minded actions of others. There was too much, far too many other things that demanded her attention, matters of a faith that she could not comprehend.

There had been a time when faith had come easily to her, when belief in a higher power than herself had seemed like the most obvious thing in the world. She had been a follower, a believer, she had offered up her prayers and they had not just been words, they had been feelings, an expression of what lay within her heart. Even now looking back Lyssia could not pin-point the very moment when things had changed. the exact moment when her faith had become tarnished. All too often the sorceress had blamed her loss of faith on Kara's death, but was that really the case? She frowned to herself, half-wondering if Ebony could sense her change in expression.

The blind woman leant on her arm, leading her away from the building, the desert dust immediately assaulting her skin. Ebony walked with a confidence in herself that Lyssia found enthralling, this human could not see and yet she carried herself as if she saw the whole world and so much more. The woman just seemed to know where everything was, as if she carried a mental map of the lands in her head, etched out in the tiniest detail. But how were those maps drawn? How did she know where everything was? Could her other senses have compensated so greatly that she no longer mourned her sight?

They walked through the narrow streets, the building seeming to press in close to the two women as if trying to listen to any whispered secrets that might be spoken between them. The sorceress couldn't help but feel uneasy at that image, she had never enjoyed the thought of anyone or anything attempting to sneak or listen to her words through deception. It made her uncomfertable, the back of her neck seeming to prickle as though someone watched her now, some unseen presence that only bore her ill will. And in this realm that could very likely be true. Any of the pople might see her as some Godless heathen that needed to be watched and then of course there was also Silus. Ebony's beast-like 'son' had never said that he despised her presence, not in so many words anyway, but he had not needed to speak to make his feelings known. No, that one's body-language had shouted his hatred and distrust of her to the highest mountain-tops, his every look flashed his anger towards her. Just being around that one made her want to sleep with her eyes open, his claws appeared to itch with the desire to rip her throat out everytime they met.

She shook her head violently, trying to get the pale-blue, too-human eyes of Silus out of her head as they haunted her. The buildings around them were beginning to thin out now, the dwellings were more crude, newer and hastily put together. This was the place where the meagre settlement was expanding slowly into the desert, it wouldn't reach far, the sands were too inhospitable to sustain anything as big as a city or even a large town. Where are we going?, she found the words spilling from her lips before she'd even crystallised the question in her mind. They were most definitely heading outside the settlement but to where? It was hardly as if the desert had anywhere to go...

Lyssia chastised herself as soon as that thought had surfaced, in past few weeks she had learnt that the desert held more than most imagined at first. When people thought of the desert, they saw only a wasteland in their mind's eye, endless shifting sands that could drown a man as easily as the ocean ever could. But it was so much more than that, wonders held in its depths, secrets that a man might never find, hidden from the gaze of most by countless mirages and heat-hazes. In the heart of the desert a thousand treasures might be discovered if only you knew where to look, wonders that could never be found in the fertile lands that most chose to live in.

Go witch? What does it matter to you where we go? All you have need to know is that there is a place that I wish to show you, a place I have walked to many times. When I am troubled and have need to commune with the Lord in peace it is this place that I go to, perhaps there you can also find a measure of the peace that you seek. Her words are careful, measured, almost held in check by the shear force of her will. Lyssia knew that the blind seeress was trying to moderate her speech now, treating the sorceress almost as if she was a child that needed to be led carefully and without fear along a path towards some greater knowledge.

She did not need to be led, not by a religious fanatic of all things, she clenched her hands, nails digging into her palms. What was happening to her? Lyssia looked down to the ground, sadness crashing over her as she desparately tried to ignore what she had become. And in her mind the image of Ebony's people rose up, people who were happy and content, people who lived in faith.

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Hlasta! Quetis Ilfirimain
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Fri Nov 22, 2002 7:01 pm
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With one hand laying upon her arm I can feel the tension that races through her as I speak, muscles clenching as she thinks on what I have said. It angers her for some reason even though I tried not to invoke that feeling within her, she is strong-willed enough without having to go against her temper as well. Others might have tried to convince the witch of Darden's truth with actions, with force and pain to break her spirit and then remold it as they saw fit. True that might have worked, but the woman who would have been formed by that process would have been broken, useless for the Lord's purposes. It is far better for her to accept Darden willingly, to offer herself whole to His services. And so I shall go against her will with words, convincing her of pure belief as she once tried to convince others of the futility of faith.

She sees me as fanatical, single-minded in my faith, believing totally in what I am told and putting aside all knowledge that might threaten my faith. But that is not true, no not at all, quite the contrary I would welcome those with opposing ideas, speaking with them and debating the truths that we hold to. Of course I know that the 'truths' of the heathens are false, I know that my Lord is the one true God and in time all others shall come to see this as well.

I can imagine a time when the religions of Isonia and Foret are wiped from the face of the isle, a time of purity in our faith. Such a glorious time that will be, when all fall to their knees before the altar of Darden and offer up their very souls to Him. The redemption of the world shall be complete and the God of Sorrows alone shall reign in the heavens, His unworthy brethern crushed beneath His heel. The eyes of the heathen masses shall be opened and they shall weep for their sins against Him till their tears over-run the world and wash it clean. The images in my mind seem so true that I can almost reach out and touch them, tasting the delicious final victory of my Lord. I will make those images come true, I shall feel the lap of the repenting heathen's tears as they tear down the false temples and clean away the taint of the false ones from the lands.

In the times to come I would have the Sidhe witch by my side, she knows a great deal about this world, its past and its people, such information could be of use. But beyond that, beyond her knowledge or her power, there is another reason I would have her stay with me, she knows who I am. My past is lost to me, my mind wiped clean of the times before I came to the red sands of the desert, all that I am comes from the Lord and the ages since that time. But I want to know who I was before that, what path did Ebony walk in time time prior to that?

And the witch knows these things.

She has never admitted to such knowledge but I know that it is true, she holds the key to my past. The uncomfortable way she acts around me, when she speaks of the destroyed world that she comes from she almost seems to assume that I know of it also. But more than that Darden has told me that she knows what I desire to remember, in my earliest visions He bid me to look for the child that had turned her back on Him. Lyssia is that child and He has revealed that she knows of all that I once was, I must have that knowledge from her. Though I may never become the woman that I once was I at least wish to understand her, almost as if she was some distant ancestor of mine who I share the features of.

The flat stone pathways of the settlement give way to the soft warm sands of the desert itself, the heat of them seeping into the soles of my feet. Once the sun rises the ground shall begin to heat up till midday when the sands would burn and strip the flesh from a body in a scant few minutes. My people shall spend the hottest hours hidden away in the shade of the temple, whispering like ghosts the words of His prayers and murmuring the hymns that praise Him best. They do not do spend their time in such servitude because I harshly demand it of them but rather because they consider it their duty to worship the Lord so. And that is something that the witch does not understand, she thinks that I force them into the strict worship of the demon God when nothing could be further from the truth. These people are the ones that first taught me of the Lord, they have worshipped Him in this way for untold generations, their faith in unsullied, their belief total. They understand that the way of our God is one of hardship and pain, for only by submitting ourselves to such trials do we become pure enough to serve Him. The agony that we willingly suffer cleanses away the doubt and the fear, we do not second-guess ourselves or agonize over the choices presented to us becuase we know that Darden will lead us to the true path.

To live without doubt or fear...truly we are the most blessed ones of His servants. See how the world is so troubled by the doubt of its people. We must place ourselves completely in His hands so that we do not have such a fate befall us. Instead we must revel in the shadows, delighting in the pain and mortification of our own flesh, to do otherwise is to reject His teachings and to allow the taint of disbelief into our systems. I would rather slit my own throat and offer up my life's blood to spill our His altar than ever doubt Darden. Death with Him in my heart is a far, far better fate than to live a life of atheism, Lyssia's existence proves that if I ever thought it otherwise. She rejected her God which is good for He was Foret, but then she rejected all Gods including the Lord of Sorrows, never seeing how He called to her in the depths of her despair. If only she had opened her soul to Him then her life would have been far simpler as one of His devoted flock. Instead she has suffered in the absence of His love, pushing away everyone and everything that she ever held dear, thinking that she might be able to lead others from the path of righteousness by doing so.

And what has she gained from this? Nothing but further torment. And even that could have been instructing if she had allowed it but instead she rejected it. She has yet to understand that pain and suffering are Darden's lessons to us and should not be avoided. Rather they should be undergone with humility and acceptance, learning through the weakness of our flesh and minds. All of us must accept the pain, drinking it in till it burns through our minds with a white hot light, a scourge through our beings that rips away all the apprehension and alarm. The pain makes us stronger, it fashions us anew in His glory, tempering us like a sword is a blacksmith's forge.

From the ruined flesh and starved soul of this Sidhe witch I shall fashion a weapon worthy of serving Him. She shall cut down His enemies and break down the barrier between my present and my past, and she will delight in both.

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Sun Nov 24, 2002 5:14 am
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The desert settlement faded in the distance, becoming less defined with each step they took till it apeared as no more than the tiniest speakon the horizon. Looking back Lyssia could imagine others walking through the desert and never finding it, deluded into thinking that it was nothing more than a larger than normal sand-dune in the distance. Perhaps even though the desert was an inhospitable place it could still have its uses. After all any invading army would have to deal with the rigors of the sands and finding a Dardenite enemy that knew the terrain far better. What secrets did the dunes hold? How many soldiers had ventured forth from green and verdant lands only to meet their ends here, their corpses eaten up by the shifting sands? They had probably dreamed of a grand victory as they had marched this way only to find that an unmarked grave awaited them.

While the town dwindled behind them the mountains rose before, great stone guardians of the west of the realm. Everytime she saw them the Sidhe felt the cold hand of fear reached into her chest and grasp at her heart. Lyssia had seen those mountains before, had travelled over them and knew of the unspoken things that made their home among them. The mountains whispered of the darkness that burrowed into them, the biting wind warning all travellers who passed through to turn back.

And now the blind human wanted to go there? Well at least that seemed to be Ebony's destination, though sightless she never wavered from the western-most compass point. The sorceress felt her heart skip a beat as she began to worry about the reasons for the seeress to want to go there.

The last time that the Sidhe had travelled there had been after visiting the Sanctuary of her birth. News had reached her that her old mentor was dead, news that had called her back to a place that she had long since stopped calling 'home'. There were already too many bad memories for Lyssia there and she had not wanted to return. But return she had all the same, Ginaus, her mentor, deserved that much at least in his memory. After several days journey she had arrived at the Sanctuary only to find that rather than Ginaus being dead he had merely disappeared on his way to find her. It had not taken much for Lyssia to follow his path, retracing each and every step that the old Sidhe had taken before her. Through the wastelands and across the mountains, the same mountains that she now stared at, into the lands of the red desert she had tracked him, hoping beyond hope that she would find him safe and well.

But she had not found him, all she had found were rumours of him riding with a caravan of traders and of that same band going missing. Even then she had not given up hope, matching the trail of the caravan, so full of misplaced confidence that she would find Ginaus alive and well. The path had lead her to the middle of nowhere, to the ruins and unburied skeletons that had once been the merchants and their families. There had been no sign of her mentor though and no more clues as to where he went.

The memories of that journey flickered through her mind, the dull ache of her missing teacher seeming to be like an old wound that had never properly healed. Lyssia darted a glance towards the impassive features of the human woman, wondering if perhaps she should not ask the seeress about Ginaus. After all he had travelled into her realm and met his apparent end here, was it unreasonable to think that maybe some news of him had reached her? She bit her tongue and remained silent all the same, something warning her that it would not be wise to speak of such things to the fanatic. The nameless voice whispered that if Ebony knew what had happened to old Ginaus it was best that she did not tell Lyssia, for now at least.

Tumbled rocks to the pair's left began to take on the deep rich red hue as the sun's touch reached out to them. The light danced across the rocks' surface and for a moment Lyssia could almost have sworn that they appeared on fire, the bright light blinding and burning though it was no more than an illusion, a trick of the desert and no more. Yes the desert was a wily old thing, as ancient as the lands and far wiser than any who walked upon its surface. The desert was patient, unending in its willingness to wait and, in the end, succeed. She could almost see a time when there would be naught but desert left, all the greenry and life eaten away and turned to dust. Perhaps the desert would win, eating away at the croplands and forests that it could reach, expanding it borders till few could live upon it anymore. Was that what Ebony thought of as her God'd final victory?

A dry and empty world it would be, one that she would never wish to see. True it was that Lyssia thought of the desert as an interesting puzzle, a contradiction in itself, but it would never be her home. There would only be one place that the Sidhe sorceress would ever be comfortable in, a place of forests and trees where the sea roared against the cliffs and gulls screeched overhead. This place was too dry, too barren for her, all lived and died by the whim of the desert, a fickle existence indeed.

Do you see the mountains witch? Do you see the break in their line, the only place where they falter?, the seeress pointed towards the eternal guards of the land. Even though she could not see, still Ebony was pointing straight at the area that she described, an area where the mountain range broke seemingly, creating a narrow valley through them. It almost seemed strange to see that break as the mountains to either side stood so tall and immovable, casting dark shadows into the depths of the valley. Looking at it Lyssia could almost believe that there had been a time when the range had stood whole, when the valley had not existed. But what in the heavens or on earth could crumble a mountain to rubble? That is where we go for now, the faithful of Darden wait there.

Wait for what?, she could not stop a hint of wariness from creeping into her voice, the worry showing clearly. Had the human plotted something, thinking to trick the sorceress into doing something that would otherwise be against her moral code?

Moral code? The phrase brought bitter laugh welling up in the throat, forcing her to choke it down for fear of releasing it. There was more than one spirit who would mock her for thinking herself so high-and-mighty as to hold to any code. Lyssia had lived for many ages and in those ages she had done more an a few things that would turn the stomach of the hardiest warrior. But she never spoke of those things, she hid the dark times within her, pushing them down in the depths of her memory until she could almost believe that they had never happened.

Almost...

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Thu Nov 28, 2002 8:11 am
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I smile at her worried question, You are so very suspiscious, aren't you? So very afraid that someone is trying to trick you into doing one thing or another without your knowledge. I know your kind witch, the people who cling onto every aspect of their lives, desparate to think that they have complete control. But you know the truth of that as well as I do; none of us can ever command our existances fully, there is always something ready to shatter the belief that we can. It might be a sickness or a death, or even an act of the Lord or nature, but I guarentee that there is always something waiting to trip us up just when we start to have the confidence that the world and our lives are ours to guide and hold sway over. I know that my existence is a fragile thing, only maintained by the will of the cowled God and likely to end as soon as He decides that it must. But there is no need to fear the reality of our lives, no need to grasp at them and try to bend all to our will, all that is needed is belief, a little faith that we are watched over by the Divine. To place the control of your life in another's hands, only when that is done can you appreciate the time you are allocated upon the isle and use it to serve Darden.

Slowly I pat Lyssia's arm, still feeling the fear that courses through her veins unabated by my words. You have no need to worry about what waits for us at the valley through the mountains witch. It is true that the people there are soldiers of the desert realm, but they are there to protect the passageway into the lands, not to decieve you in any way. Does she believe me? There again does it really matter? I know that I speak the truth and that, for now, is all that matters, once we arrive she will realise that I was not lying to her.

The image of the valley is recalled from my memory, I know I could raise my hand now and trace its outline against the horizon. Each dip and rise is imprinted into my mind, every angle and distance etched there as if burnt into my recollections with the hottest of branding irons. All of my world is like this now, remembered profiles like painted pictures that I saw as a child.

Except...

Except I do not know what that is like, to have seen something as a youngling and remember it as an adult. All that I once was has been taken from me, every childhood memory washed away by some act that I don't even have a fragmentary recollection of. What could have happened to me to have destroyed all my rememberances? What manner of thief can steal a person's memory? Though my devotion to Darden is always the first thing in my mind, with my precious son coming next, still there is always that whispering question 'Who am I?' It is well enough to say that I am Ebony, Herald of the Officium, Vision-Seeker of Darden and Mother to Silus but that is simply who I am now. What was I before that? What caused me to wander into the red desert and lose myself there?

The weight of the questions pounds into my head, a relentless beat that demands I pay attention to it, a never-ending hunger that must be satisfied by knowledge, a lust for answers that can never be slaked. But the witch knows, Darden has told me so, she can answer the questions, she can be my guide as I traverse the unknown roads of my own history. If she will only give her aid freely I know that I can piece together everything that I have lost, a grand puzzle that must be solved if I am ever to be completed myself. How can she refuse me? Lyssia is so tainted with 'mercy' and 'pity' that she cannot help but assist me if I so ask, just because I am blind she looks down upon me, thinking me feebled and defenseless.

Over the ages I have met many who thought of me in that same way, imagining that my lack of sight made me somehow inferior to them. They learned the error of their ways soon enough, the Lord does not call the useless ones to His service. My blindness is a blessing from the Lord, a constant reminder that He is always with me, forever watching over those that dedicate themselves utterly to His glory. I shall make the witch understand all that and when that happens she will see me as I truly am, not a blind wretch but a warrior of faith as surely as any other.

The mountains' shadows stretch out and gather us into their shade, even though the sun has not yet fully risen I can feel the slight change in temperature. The ground is smooth here, almost as flat as glass where the sand has not covered it totally, that has often garnered a few strange remarks from those that have travelled this way and are not of the desert folk. We know what secrets the lands of the red sands hold, we better than any hold the stories of the Divine pilgramage that forged the glass lands and the red temple and of course the valley itself. The legend roughly goes that in the times before people, the lands were silent and that the Lord Darden Himself took form and walked across the lands, marking places as most holy to Him. We hold tightly to the belief that the red desert was one of those places, that he called up the rock from the bowels of the earth that was later to form the main temple here. The glass lands before the valley are where His most Divine presence stood and tore down the mountain that dared to pit its strength against Him. For its folly the mountain was destroyed and scattered, only the valley now remains.

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Fri Nov 29, 2002 4:24 pm
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Lyssia looked ahead at the valley, frowning slightly at what danger might be there hidden in its shadows. She only had the blind human's word to say that there was nothing there that bore her ill will, she had made enough enemies in the world to take that with a pinch of salt. After all these were the people of the Officium, they might have any number of reasons to want to end her life here in the baking hot sands. There were a few who still hated her for striking down Maledict, others who took exception to her 'heretical' views and still more who thought that she had come to corrupt Ebony. Now there was something that these fanatics would be afraid of, the thought that the Sidhe woman would somehow 'turn' Ebony from the Dardenite faith. They might not be scared of death, or pain, or even hordes of Isonians and Foretians descending upon their homes but still there was something that terrified them; the fact that someone could lose their faith.

She had seen them staring at her, peeking at the strange woman from the corner of their eyes who had come into their home. They couldn't understand how anyone could live without putting her faith in one or other of the Divine. Idly Lyssia wondered if they would be less suspiscious of her if she had been as devouted to Isonia or Foret as they were to their Lord. It was possible, after all these people understood faith and matters of belief, what they could not understand was her utter lack of faith. She wasn't an atheist, after all Lyssia was quite happy to admit that the Gods existed. No rather she just didn't find any of the Gods worthy of reverence and worship, not by her, not by anyone.

There had been many a time when Lyssia had thought that it would be so much simpler if all the temples were torn down, regardless of which deity they supposedly honoured. All the effort that was usually put into them could be given to helping those who had been harmed by the seemingly endless wars. She doubted that there was a family in the lands that had not lost at least one member to the wars of the guilds and unguilded, a father, a mother, a brother, a daughter, a son or a sister. Everyone had lost someone, had experienced the pain, physical or mental, that war inflicted upon those drawn into its grasp. If not for faith would any of that occur?

She shook her head and dismissed all thoughts of a religious 'utopia', that was a foolish flight of fancy if ever she knew one. Of course the wars would continue, regardless of whether the Gods were there or not. So few people actually fought for faith, they fought for greed instead, worshipping that deity above all others. Not that they admitted it of course, they always claimed that their acts were done in the name of Foret, or Isonia, or Darden, they deluded themselves so.

Looking back on her past she had to wonder; had there been a time when she had been no better? The sorceress couldn't be sure, at the time it had seemed as though they had been doing what was right for their faith, but had it really been what was right for them instead? The past was a troubling thing, twisting and turning everytime she tried to pin it down and examine it closely. Maybe the past was not as static as people thought, maybe it was as alive as any creature on the face of Maxim, well anything was possible. It was well said that the past was written by the victors, or at the very least the survivors, and nothing ever stopped people from rewriting history as they saw fit. The times that had come before were used as propaganda by more than one, proclaimed to be evidence of something or another, even though another person would give a completely different account of events.

Burn down the books and write them anew, she whispered so softly that she had practically imagined that she'd only thought them. In her mind's eye she could see thousands upon thousands of books and tomes burning, set alight by some unseen attacker and reduced to dust that was scattered to the winds.

The human seeress grabbed her arm, fingernails digging into the Sidhe's flesh, What was it that you said witch? How she hated Ebony calling her that, the same name that Maledict always referred to her as. She was no witch, no hagged crone that dabbled in the magical arts in order to create love potions or curses for dull-witted peasants. But it wasn't just that the sorceress's pride was hurt by the term, rather it was hearing the word from the lips of one who had once been dear to her, the word that was usually spoken by her most hated of enemies. there was no hope that the blind woman would stop the habit though, not while their own shared past was a mystery to her.

And yet even if she told the human of her forgotten past, what then? There were things there that Ebony would not want to hear, even if Lyssia could bring herself to speak of them. The seeress was so devoted to darden, what would she do if the Sidhe told her that there had once been another? Another deity that she had worshipped above all others?

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Tue Dec 03, 2002 7:24 am
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I wonder what thoughts and flights of fancy wander through her head as we walk in almost silence through the desert. Something is troubling her, or perhaps there are many things worrying her, gnawing away at her as she tries to untangle the knot she finds herself tied by. But she will not undo herself from her worries by simply examining her past or imagining what the future may bring. The chains that hold her to this place were forged by a God, one who has only ever sought to bring her to His worship and care. We bind her with ties of words and fears, doing His will so that Lyssia may find her way through her dark times safely to His altar.

She has been lost for so long, a child in the wilderness of religion who has strayed from her parent's guiding hand. The darkness of doubt has clouded her mind, whispering to her of the dangers of belief, the 'foolishness' of trusting a diety with your very soul. Of course there is such foolishness in the heretical churches of Isonia and Foret, but what else may be expected from those who follow false ones? They cover their initial lies with more falsehoods, blinding the common folk with pretty words and obscene ritual. But to think the same of Darden? It disgusts my very bones that any would even think that of the Lord, He who takes the sorrow of the world as His own, drinking it deeply as all His followers must.

For what do the other 'Gods' do for the lands except stop the people from being shepherded into the true religion? Isonia washes Herself in the blood of the dead and Foret clings to the shreds of His honour as if He were drowning and it were the oly thing that could save Him. Let Isonia bath in carrion, let Foret drown, Darden shall always remain true, eternally unchanging and never the same.

The world is not a happy paradise, Lord forbid that it could ever become so lest we all become no more than static wrecks. Those who claim that they strive towards this 'paradise' are unthinking buffoons, never paying attention to what they think they want. If the lands were transformed overnight, becoming this nirvana that they fumblingly seek, then they would soon see the ignorance of their wishes. What would life be in this 'heaven' that they imagine? It would be less than nothing, a never-ending lack of all sensation, a walking death in which nought would seem real and all would be without worth. Life is pain, it is suffering and agony, it is the fire that races across your nerve-endings and screams in your mind "I am alive".

People may reject such thinking, pushing away the teachings of the Lord in their horror of what they have always been told to avoid. There are even those that bow down before Him who would still travel the roads of pleasure, comfort, even mercy. They have taken the first step on the road to His true wisdom and so for now we...humour them, but eventually even they shall be forced to acknowledge the real ways of His religion. The Lord would not have a single soul escape His touch, each one He has laid claim to from their earliest moments. They may try to run from Him, shut their ears to His song, or simply weave a cloak of pity and clemency about Darden in order to make their worship of Him more palatable to their soft stomaches. But they do not change anything with their softnesses, Darden remains as He has always been; the one true Lord, the one who dared to take the sorrow of the world into Himself.

Vision-Seeker, we had not expected your arrival, the approach of the soldier had not gone unnoticed by me, simply I had chosen not to pay it any heed. I heard him start his walk towards us long enough ago to have warned the witch if I had wanted to, but why should I have wanted to do that? He stepped carefully, knowing where to stand in order to make the least amount of noise, but still my hearing has strengthened enough to catch the smallest sound. To navigate by sound is as easy as moving by sight if only you can train your senses to serve you rather than revealing only what they chose to.

The soldier kneels before me as the Sidhe wotch draws back slightly, she was not aware of his appearance it seems, not till he decided to show himself at least. I run my fingers over the man's face, 'seeing' him through touch, recognising his features by that alone. You were not meant to expect us captain, I say, my voice drained of any emotion, perhaps even sounding a little haughty to my ears. But no matter of it, we shall simply see how he reacts.

His head bows as I withdraw my fingers, Of course Vision-Seeker, the Lord guides you as He sees fit. Long may He continue to do so.

The Cowled God guides us all captain, I allow my voice to soften, the soldier's devotion to our Lord pleasing me. All within these lands are subject to His whims and desires, we exist only to be used as He decides. Our flesh and souls not truly ours at all, but rather His to move and position as He needs them and we would have it no other way. There is not greater love, no greater purpose than to give up all that you are to your God, to devote yourself to the Lord with such zeal that there is space for nothing else in your heart. And why should there be? Darden is all, He is our world, our light, our lover, nothing can come close to the purity of adoration that we give to Him. As long as the God of Sorrows accepts my unworthy spirit as His, then I have need of nothing else; I would die without Him.

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Sat Dec 07, 2002 3:41 pm
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The sight of a Dardenite soldier had made her take a quick breath, expecting teachery at every turn. And why shouldn't she? Lyssia had been the one responsible for killing the Torturer and there were enough of the Officium who knew that and still bore her ill will because of it. To them she was still a murderess and a heretic, for all she knew they might have conspired with Ebony against her, using the blind woman to lure her out to a place where they could practise their own brand of 'justice'. That was a fear that she lived with daily, sure that there would one day be a reckoning for what she had done.

Lyssia cursed herself silently, wishing that she had never agreed to travel back to the realm of the blind seeress. She had thought to herself a hundred times before coming here that she should distance herself as much as possible from the fanatics that followed Maledict. The Sidhe woman was nothing like them, their faith was something that she no longer understood, it had become an alien thing to her. There had been a time when it had been very different, when she had known the touch of faith and been so safe in the security of her belief. But somewhre along the road of her life things had changed, that faith had grown less, its hold over her mind weaker than ever before. Doubt had crept into her mind one night, a doubt that had shattered her faith in a time when she had needed its strength most.

It would have been better to flee from the Officium, to hide herself away in the most far-flung corner of the lands. They would never have found her, hidden away from all creation, never to be seen again by mortal eyes. But would that have helped? She wearily had to admit that it wouldn't, it would not have mattered whether they would have been able to seek her out or not. In her mind they would have always been there, watching and judging her from the shadows that she could never banish. The guilt was in her mind and that was where her worst accusers would always live, taunting and baiting her from a place that she could never escape.

The Sidhe looked over the soldier that spoke with Ebony though his eyes never faltered from the empty orbs of the human. It amazed her how people followed Ebony, the depths of their confidence and conviction in her seemed to be without end. There was something about the blind woman, an aura of certainity and belief that could never be sullied. She was always so calm, so very firm in her beliefs, nothing seemed able to shake her, not even the attacks of the Officium's enemies. There was a strange purity in the woman's faith, one that never allowed doubt to take root in her mind. It was the purity of a total fanatic but in some ways Lyssia found herself envying her host. She would never know of fear, or doubt, she would never question the word of her Lord or think that her people were throwing their lives away for nothing. For Ebony, Darden was as real as any other creature in the lands, He was real and He was her all.

Ebony's people followed her lead, as solid as rocks in their belief, unshakable in the dogma that they spouted. And it was that that the Sidhe could not understand, the mystery that had confonded her since she had arrived here. The blind woman was no great sorceress or warrior, her strategy in war was based solely on what she 'read' in the entrails of those unfortunate enough to be 'of the blood', a thought that horrified the Sidhe. The seeress had suffered defeats and tasted of victory, reacting to each with very little difference in her outlook, accepting everything as the will of her God. And through it all her people followed her without question, trusting that their leader was carrying out the wishes of Darden. They never stopped to ask themselves 'why?', never once questioned the validity of her authority.

She paid little attention to the words that passed between Ebony and the soldier, they seemed of little consequence to her. But what she did notice was how the man never once dropped his gaze from Ebony's blind one. Was it a sickening fascination with those empty eye sockets that made him stare so? Lyssia had found that blank gaze an unnerving thing, she would have happily looked anywhere but at the places from which Ebony's black tears fell.

Lyssia had heard the tale of how Ebony had lost her eyes, even now the thought of it sent shivers downher spine. The human woman had found herself in the desert with no knowledge of who she was or where she came from, her mind wiped clean and her past lost to her. Lost in the seemingly endless wastes of the desert, death had appeared the inevitable conclusion for her. But in the time when she had been ready to lay down and sleep forever, Ebony claimed that a voice spoke to her from the desert winds, leading her towards the safety of a small settlement. Whether that was true or not, Lyssia could not say, all she kne for certain was that the sands held more secrets than they ever revealed. Protected by the desert people Ebony had been given a name and a purpose, a God to follow and give herself to. Even then the desert people had been fanatical in their devotion to Darden, though it was not surprising that ones who lived such harsh lives flocked to the banner of one who gave that suffering some measure of meaning. Learning of Darden, Ebony had been infected by the extreme devotion of her new allies, replicating it and pledging her life to his teachings.

And at some point Ebony had made an oath to her God, carving out her own eyes and sacrificing them to Him in a show of her total love for Him. Perhaps it was then, in that one act, that the desert people had given her their loyalty, knowing that none of them could ever be so devoted to their Lord as the human woman. After all to a fanatic what could be more awe-inspiring than a greater fanatic? They had seen her make a sacrifice that none of them or their ancestors had ever even thought of, and it was an action that had swayed them completely to her service.

They walked onwards with the captain, Ebony and the soldier speaking of matters of religion and faith while Lyssia held her tongue. To try and speak with those two about faith would have been no more than a waste of breath, an exercise in futility to try and convince them to see a view that was different to their own. So instead she turned her eyes towards the shadowy valley before them. To her eyes it looked as if someone had simply gouged out a mountain from the range, a giant reaching down from the sky to destroy this one particular place. But the valley was by no means empty, indeed it seemed far busier than the settlement that they had left earlier. Sounds of physical effort and construction bounced off the stone sides of the valley, reaching her even though they were still some distance from the area. What on earth were they doing? What had Ebony ordered her people to create here?

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Fri Dec 13, 2002 4:42 am
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The valley is a grand creation, is it not? Forged by Darden Himself when the mountain that once stood there dared not to bow before the Lord of Sorrows. The mountain was destroyed, its pride causing its own downfall, not unlike many things in this isle, I comment, feeling secure under the giant shadows of the mountains. If only that mountain had showed its respect to the Lord then the western border of this realm would be safe for none can climb these high places unless He wills it so.

For some reason the witch seems uneasy at my words, I can sense her discomfort as keenly as if it were my own. Something I have said has concerned her, perhaps dragging up some half-forgotten memory and tormenting her with it. How I wish I could find my way inside that mind of hers, to examine and each every one of her thoughts and feelings, to try and understand how she thinks as she does. Ah what a treasure trove of knowledge I might find in her that way, but Darden blessed me with the ability to see what may yet be not what another thinks and feels.

I can hear the labourers in the valley, eagerly going about their tasks in order to complete the work that they were set. In place of the mountain we are raising a fort, something that will protect this gap in the realm's ring of defenses. When war comes the heathens will throw themselves at the fortress and yet never destroy it. Even if they push through the first set of doors they will not find their attacks any easier from within. Inside those doors they will find themselves attacked by the very building itself, and then murder holes and arrow-slits ensuring that few survive to speak of it again. I would not have a heathen step freely into these lands that are held in His name. They do not understand, none of them ever will.

So many are blinded by their false faiths in Isonia and Foret, chained to the decievers with bonds of lies. I would offer them the key to escape those chains but they would rather wallow in their own imprisonment, biting the hand that seeks to give them freedom. It saddens me to see so many souls go willingly to their own damnation when we offer them the chance to rise up and know the depths of His love. Often I have prayed to the Lord for guidance, offering all to Him if He would only show me the way to bring the light of truth to all those who turn their faces from it. But such wisdom is beyond me, perhaps it is beyond all creatures of flesh and blood, a realm of knowledge that only He knows.

Though the half-build fortress is before us, that is not why I brought the Sidhe witch to this place, indeed this is not even our final destination. It will be good for her to see it though, to see what we are willing to raise up in order to protect His faithful from the predatory attacks of those that have yet to see.

This way, I say softly, leading her towards the side of the valley, knowing to the very step how far away the path is. Captain you may return to your duties, we have business further up that calls us from inspecting your work. Keep your faith in the Lord and know that all we do is for Him, no one else. The ground beneath me feet becomes more painful to walk on, the dust giving way to sharp stones that tip and tear at the soles of my feet, letting my blood find its way free of my body and mingle with the ground that I look after in His name.

The path up the mountain is long and treacherous, one that most people with their sight would find difficult, yet I walk it as easily as if it were the flatest of halls. I know the way, each stone and pitfall marked in my mind and the steps between each as well known to me as my own name. No force of nature shall stop me from taking the witch up the hill, to look and realise what I have realised. And perhaps in time further truths shall pass between us, including that which I greatly desire, the knowledge of my own hidden past.

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Tue Jan 07, 2003 11:36 am
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...none can climb these high places unless He wills it so...

Those words alone worried the sorceress though there were few in the lands who would understand why.In the time before she had accompanied those of the Officium on the quest for vengence against the Thirteen, Lyssia had undertaken another journey one that had led her to the desert realm before she had ever known that Ebony was the leader of that place. The Sidhe had been following the trail of her own mentor, the old Sidhe Ginaus who had been thought lost to all those that knew him. But Lyssia had refused to accept his death, instead clinging to the belief that he lived still. And so she had followed in his steps, finding herself drawn towards the mountain range that protected the western-most border of the desert realm.

The blind woman said that noone could make safe passage through those mountains unless Darden allowed it and yet Lyssia had travelled that forbidden path. Together with a reborn Kara and the Sidhe woman's own apprentice Syek, she had walked the darkest paths of the high places and heard the howls of the foul spirit that haunted the peaks. And yet for all the danger that the mountains held, they had made it safely through, finding no trouble there except what they brought upon themselves. Had the God of Sorrows had some hand in that?

Lyssia wished that she could say 'no', longed to know that chance rather than some God's whim had seen them to the red lands beyond. But the feeling of foreboding in her stomach told her that this was not true, and the hairs on the back of her neck rose in the worry of what this meant. In her eyes the Divine children of the heavens were a treacherous lot, twisting the pain of others to suit Their own ends. She understood that well enough, Darden had taken advantage of her troubles and placed her firmly in His debt.

Three times He had aided her, coming in the guise of a helpful spirit, asking for nothing at those times. But then when the sorceress had been forced to help raise up the body of the Torturer that 'spirit' had come again to her, revealing its true nature as a sub-servant of the God of Sorrows. How her heart had fallen at that knowledge, at the thought that all the ages she had railed against the Gods and Their deeds she had gladly accepted the help of one of Them. And now she was in His debt, owing Him service till that debt was paid in full, something that did not sit well with her.

She followed the blind woman along the path that wound its way up along the edge of the valley, examining this latest worry from all angles. Her thoughts chased one another's tails just as a dog might chase its own tail, never catching the prey that it saw and yet forever longing for it. As she walked she brooded on this, keping her head down and never really looking at the road ahead. Some part of her sub-conscious kept her safe, steering Lyssia towards the less dangerous route till she almost seemed to be stepping exactly in Ebony's footsteps. Now there was a worrying though, the Sidhe woman had no wish to follow the seeress's example in this life.

Lyssia held her sight as a most precious thing, a treasure far beyond any amount of gold or acreage that a lord could claim ownership of. Only with her eyes could she see the wonders of the world, cherishing all the colours and hues of the lands about her. Without eyes how would she ever be able to read or write the tales that she came across? Without eyes how could she ever bear witness to what the world presented to her? The isle would seem a dark and forbiding place without the light that she saw in it with her sight. Perhaps that was why Ebony clung to her faith so strongly because without the 'light' of her faith to sustain her she would fall utterly to that darkness. After all if faith motivated her to risk that all-encompassing darkness why should faith not also ensure that she had the continued strength to brave it?

It was a hard thing for her to do, to admit that there might be some use for faith after all. She had spent many an age believing that there was no use for faith, that it brought nothing but pain to those who fell into its trap. Long had she preached of the troubles that it caused even if only the trees had ever listened to her. And now to admit otherwise, even if it was only in the silence of her mind, it sorely tested the sorceress.

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Hlasta! Quetis Ilfirimain
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Mon Jan 20, 2003 8:57 am
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Each step brings us closer to our destination, I can sense it within myself as much as I can recognise our current position by touch. Long ago the Lord led me to this place, guiding me along this path and ensuring that my feet never faltered. Even then He knew that this place had a part to play, He knew that there would come times when it would be needed. The Lord sees far, no truth can ever be hidden from His divine sight, not even that which is buried deep within a heathen heart. So many try to deny Him, taking their true beliefs and pushing them deep down inside of themselves, burying them as a murderer would hurriedly try to hide their victim. But if the Lord of Sorrows turns His gaze towards them then there is nowhere they can hide, there is no hole deep enough for them to throw themselves into. He will know, Darden always knows.

So it was when the Lord found me in the desert, lost and alone, abandoned by my own memories. Though I felt empty He looked within my soul and saw what was written there, the heart of one of His children beat within me. Everything that I had been before was gone, washed away by whatever terror I had experienced, all my sins were gone and I stood as a newly cleansed soul in His presence. It was as though I had sprung fully formed from the sands themselves, a daughter of the Dardenite faith who had never been touched by the crimes of the world. The blood red sands were my mother and His church became my father, a set of parents that could nuture me and raise me to serve only Him.

And what more could I ever hope for? My life is as empty as it ever was without the Lord to fill it and give it purpose. Without Darden I am no more than a shadow in these lands, a ghost that can never find its way to the blessings of the afterlife. But I would rather suffer a life such as that than ever submit to the false teachings of Foret or Isonia. Better to wander the world in darkness than bind myself to the likes of Them in the hope that they could ever take His place. There is only one Darden, keeper of the bowl, hoarder of the sorrows of man and beast alike, only He can right this world for only He knows the depths of its sadness.

Suddenly my footing slips and I tumble to the ground, the sharp edges of nearby stones gleefully cutting into my flesh. The sharp fire of pain spreads along my skin as the hot wetness of my blood dances to the surface, forced out by each pounding beat of my heart. The witch races to my side, her hands upon my arms as she tries to help me stand once more. Pushing her back I offer out my hands to her, knowing that they are covered with the vitae and wounded flesh of my palms. Look at me witch, I breathe softly, smiling through the aches and pains that assail me. This is the only truth, this is all that is eternal and unending. Kingdoms may rise and fall, crops may grow and be harvested, the sun will dawn and set over a thousand days but only this will remain. Through all the ages of this land only one thing endures; Pain. It is both teacher and healer to the mortal races of this world, it can sustain us when all else fails and threatens to throw us to the night. By testing my flesh then I can push back the limits of what I can endure and be strengthened by it for there is nothing that the heathens can do to me that I cannot do worse to myself. When the warrior sees his homelands burning and the bodies of his kith and kin gutted and used upon the ground what is it thatstops him from laying down to join them? It is his pain, the agony of his soul, it strengthens him as it strengthens me, it forces him onwards to try and drown that pain in the blood of his enemies.

One day the sun will set for the last time, the waves will crash upon the shore and be silent, the wolf will howl at the empty sky and die. But even when that happens one thing shall still remain; the pain, it will endure and be eternal.
There is no weapon or spell that can end the pain of the world and why should there be? Darden gave us pain, He gave us suffering as a gift to the lands, something that we should be grateful for. It is our teacher because without pain how would we ever know what it is like to be alive?

And what of love? Or hope? Or friendship? Is your view of the lands so bleak that you would deny these things their place in the world? There is more to life than pain Ebony, there are better ways to teach than the mortification of your own flesh, the Sidhe witch replies. Her hands hold mine, the warmth of her palms seeping through to the back of my hands, almost seeming to deaden the pain. Is this some foul magic of hers? To take away my pain through touch alone? She steps nearer to me, her lips brushing against my ear, You don't need to always suffer, she whispers.

Gently I remove my hands from hers, reaching round her neck to pull her nearer to me, smearing my own blood upon her skin. If you truly believe that witch, why do you suffer so? I feel her stiffen at my words, every muscle in her body growing taut and still as her heart beat quickens. You allow yourself to suffer, no more than that, you force yourself to suffer when it does not need to be so. You set yourself apart from the world and wallowed in your own loneliness, turning your back on hearth and home deliberately, and for what? You wanted to suffer, though you'll not admit it to me or any other in the isle, perhaps not even to yourself yet. The things you speak of, love, hope, friendship, they all have their place in the lives of the people of this world, but they also all have their root and that root is in pain. There is nothing in this world that does not come from suffering, there is nothing that cannot be gained through pain. Though you do not realise it you have been walking the path that will take you to acceptance of those facts for many ages. You are very close now witch, you have come so far alone, finding out the truth of your own agony, both physical and spiritual, now I shall lead you the rest of the way.

Don't turn back now witch, you have come too far to deny it at the last steps.


I realise her from my grasp, turning away to walk the remaining distance to our destination. She'll follow me in the end, her curiousity won't let her do anything else. What began many ages ago will find its end here, the faith that died in the last fires of the phoenix will live again in the sight of Darden.

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Mon Jan 27, 2003 4:08 am
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The Sidhe stood still for a moment, the words of the blind woman echoing in her mind and almost seeimg to root her to the ground. Though she tried not to think too much on what Ebony had just said Lyssia could not seem to escape from the words. They hunted her down in her mind like rabid dogs, forcing her to look at them and think back on the events of recent ages. But they couldn't be true, could they? After all this time the fanatic couldn't hold the answers to the questions that had plagued the sorceress for so long? She had lost her faith, thrown it away to search for a truth that she had thought lay outside religion and its trappings. But what if she had been wrong all along? What if the truth had its beginnings in belief? Could it be that the very thing that she had run from, decrying it as the root of all evil in the world, actually held the start of the path to truth?

After Kara had met her end at the hands of Bede, Lyssia had known nothing but pain. Her soul had been torn in two, one half caught in death while the other remained amongst the living. The Sidhe woman had known nothing but torment during those ages, the agony of it ripping apart her mind for a time and loosing her magic upon the city of Gyppeswyk. Even to this day the area surrounding the ruined city bore the marks of that time, while creatures that had once been men stalked the forests with murderous intent. Could all that have been avoided if only she had accepted the pain as part of herself rather than trying to set her will against it? It was a sobering thought, and one that she could not face yet, the repercussions of it frightened her too much.

Had the blind woman spoken truly though? Did love, hope, friendship, all that could be considered 'good' in this world really have their beginnings in pain? Friendship was forged through adversity, a group of people coming together with a purpose and holding true to one another to make their dreams a reality. But friendship could be broken, torn apart, it could be made to suffer and to burn, it could be fed to the fires of war and yet become stronger by doing so. Lyssia knew that as well as any other in the lands. She had stood side by side with people who had merely been allies but who had become friends by virtue of surviving the darkest times together. And surely the same was true of love? True love would suffer any pain, any torment and yet endure, indeed it almost seemed to test itself in such things. The greatest of loves proved itself by suffering the worst that the world could throw at it.

And hope? Could that also claim that its roots were in pain? Well of course it could, hope simply did not exist if there was nothing to threaten it. When the skies were darkest and all seemed lost then it was the flame of hope that burned brightest.

Lyssia raised one hand slowly, touching the still warm blood of Ebony upon her cheek, staring at the red mark of it on her hand as if she had nver seen such a thing before. It was only after a few moments that she realised how her bloodied hand trembled, a nameless fear welling up in her throat at the sight of the blood. Could I have been so wrong all this time?, she asked herself quietly, the words seeming to stick in her throat. Could a Sidhe have been so wrong about the world? Oh how we pride outselves in knowing so much but now I must wonder if I have missed the greatest and yet the simplest truth of them all. Pride blinds us so easily, and we fall to that sin too willingly, never thinking that we could possibly be wrong. Could it be that a blind human can 'see' what a Sidhe never could?

...a human woman that should by rights be dead...the voice of Lossandrea suddenly muttered in the recesses of the Sidhe's mind. Although Lyssia had taken the shadow soul within herself to imprison it and prevent it from ever troubling the world with its savage desires the act had come with a price. The shadow was within now, it delighted in focusing all its attention upon Lyssia, taunting her and sifting through her memory for the most painful apisodes of her past.

The sorceress pressed her fingers to her lips, watching the blind seeress moving along the path before her. She didn't even notice the blood as it seeped into her mouth, its coppery taste floding her senses while her attention was elsewhere. Lossandrea had spoken truly, there was no possible way for Ebony to be human and yet this old. The fanatic did not remember her past but Lyssia did, she was perhaps the only living soul who still did. In these lands a human might expect to live seven or eight decades before death laid a hand upon their shoulder and claimed their soul. And yet by Lyssia's reckoning Ebony had lived far more than that, maybe twice as much, and yet she did not look a day older than when they had first met in the lands of Mo'Pri. As far as the sorceress could tell not even Ebony knew of this, the human seemed to think that she was a young woman, somewhere between two and three decades to her name. What would it do to her to learn that she had experienced far more years than that? Years that she could not remember, the memory of them stolen from her at some point in the past. Would it be right for Lyssia to tell her the truth?

The two women had shared a past, they had been friends, they had walked the roads of another world, the air ringing to their laughter. For the sake of those times shouldn't she tell Ebony? Was that the reason why she was being led up the side of the valley? Did the human think that Lyssia would tell her of her forgotten past while she tried to convince the Sidhe of her faith? A fair exchange some might say, her words were barely given enough breath to be hear by her own ears. Her years seemed to weigh heavily upon her shoulders suddenly, memories crowding her consciousness, each joustling for her attention. So many years, the sorceress shut her eyes for a moment, trying to clear her mind.

Taking a deep breath, the Sidhe opened her eyes once more, seeing the shape of Ebony before her, always moving though she could not see where she was going. Let the blind lead me then, the decision was so easy to make in the end, it was so simple to just let go of it all and follow.

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Mon Feb 03, 2003 5:27 am
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Here, this is the place, I breath the words softly as my senses realise that we have reached our destination. Perhaps no one else would notice any difference between this point on the mountain-side and any other, but I know the difference, I can feel it in my very bones. Many times I have made the trek to this place, called to it by my faith, knowing that for some reason it had been touched by the Lord. Sitting or standing here, I have called out with the strength of my belief, a siren's call to those who wander in the darkness of their heretical religions. Some have answered that call, hearing the first stirrings of Darden's song within their chest, others have turned away from it, fleeing further into the chains of Foret or Isonia for fear of the truth I would offer them.

There are so many in the lands that claim to seek the 'truth', searching every day from dawn until dusk for what they think is hidden from them. But in the end it is nver the truth that hides, no rather it is them, the supposed 'seekers of truth' that hide, burrowing away from Darden's glory. If only they would turn their eyes towards Him, if only they would open their ears to His words, then they would find their truth.

And that truth is that nothing matters save Darden.

The God of Sorrows is preparing us through His teachings, and we do His will gladly in the certain knowledge that His plans will all come to fruition. In the end there are none who can stand against Him, His unworthy siblings are no more than mewling babes, lost in Their own delusions and cast far from Him. In my mind there can be no worse crime than to be far from the Lord, to be without Him would render me empty, no more than a hollow shell of what I am now. It is no wonder that the Battlemaiden and the Eldest fight against Darden, they have obviously gone mad with grief at being forced so far from the Demon Lord. If only They were brought back to Him I have no doubt that they would not fall at His feet, Their tears filling His bowl to overflowing.

But the madness of the other Gods has gone too far, it pollutes the thinking of those that mistakenly follow Them. There can be no redemption for Isonia and Foret, They can know only the emptiness of being forever seperated from the Lord. And because of that They lead Their followers even further from the light of His being, twisted by Their own madness. And so it is the task of every Dardenite to try and lead them back again, to take the hand of each and every soul that follows the other deities and guide them to the correct path. We will bring them all to His service or we shall be forced to end their wretched existances. After all it is better that those who refuse to see the light die than be allowed to live. By killing them we prevent them from staining their souls with further crimes against the Lord, we allow them to suffer in their final moments in the hope that they will grasp the truth and purify their spirits with their own agony.

I sit down on the stony ground, facing the lands of Maxim while the red desert stretches away behind me. My heart seems to beat a little faster at the thought of the faithful that toil away amid the sands, all their thoughts bent towards Him and no one else. For a moment it almost seems as though their faith buoys my spirit up, and I know that never shall these pure souls be tarnished by the false religions. These people will never forsake our Lord, they would rather take their own lives first, spilling their heart's blood onto the thirsty sands before they ever allowed Foret or Isonia's taint to come near them.

Come witch, sit beside me, I say, gesturing to the ground to my right as I hear her approach. We have much to speak of, tales of the past and the present, and maybe even the future, there are words that must be spoken between us. Each of us has truths that must be given voice, knowledge that must be passed from one to the other if either of us is to ever be at peace with ourselves. You desire to know faith again though your lips may deny it with pretty words, but your soul cries out for it once again. And I...I wish to know of my past, of the times before I came into Darden's care.

Something has unnerved her, I can almost hear her indecision in her very movements as she stand behind me. Finally she speaks, but her uncertainty betrays each and every one of her thoughts, And what would I know of your past? You are a loyal follower of Darden, and although I have followed many deities, never have I given Him my oath. Darden may hold my soul in debt to Him through His trickery but that is all the binds you and I.

I chuckle quietly as Lyssia sits down, Pretty words witch, always you rely on such pretty words. My laughter stops suddenly, the last echo of it dying away, But I know the truth, Darden has shown it to me often enough in my visions. He told me of the child that turned her back on Him and walked the darkest of paths, He told me that she alone knew the past that has beens tolen from my mind. You will tell me of it and I will tell you of faith, and between us we may yet both behealed of our spiritual wounds. What is it that you are so found of saying? Ah yes, "Those who do not learn from their past are doomed to repeat it", well I have no past from which to learn unless you tell me of it. So spin for me a tale witch, tell me of the woman that Ebony once was.

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Tue Feb 11, 2003 4:17 am
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For a moment it almost seemed difficult for the Sidhe woman to breath, her lungs refusing the air that her body craved. Her mind froze with the implications of all that Ebony had said, the fear of them threatening to choke the life from her. It dug into her mind and flesh, like some small creature clawing its way through her, leaving only worry in its wake. Within her chest Lyssia's heart seemed to beat as noisily as any drum, pounding out its rhythm louder and louder till it seemed impossible to think that the blind woman could not hear it as well. The blood drained from her face leaving her pale and wan, a thin gleam of sweat shining upon her brow where her circlet of silver and twisted black lay.

How could it be that Ebony, who knew nothing of her past, knew that Lyssia held all her secrets? The sorceress would not believe that 'visions' from Darden were the answer to the riddle, she simply could not allow herself to believe it. There are no visions Ebony, what you 'see' are no more than blood-soaken dreams, nightmares brought on by the intoxicants that you use in your ritual. The words came out too-cold and too-calm as she forced down the fear and the worry that Ebony had awoken in her. She couldn't let the fanatic realise what was going through her mind, no that would be too much of an advantage in Ebony's favour. Better instead to hide it, to bury the secret fears deep inside her soul, forcing them down till they were little more than dark shadows at the very back of her mind. They couldn't hurt her then, could they?

Why do you deny the gift that the Lord of Sorrows had bestowed upon me witch? There was no anger in her voice, no fearful explosion of a tirade as Lyssia had thought there might be. She had seen Ebony deliver spontaneous sermons of such fire and brimstone that even those who followed Foret or Isonia had wept openly to hear them. But now when the Sidhe challenged the validity of her 'vision' there was none of that rage and will set against her. Time and again I have called forth the visions, seeing in my mind's eye what has been, what is and what is yet to occur. And time and again I have been proved right, seeing clearly what mortal eyes never could. Why do you doubt me? Is it simply because you have clung to doubt as devotely as I hold true to my faith? You have worshiped at the altar of doubt for so long that you known no other way to live.

No it was not that which goaded the sorceress into declaring Ebony's visions to be false. Over the course of the ages Lyssia had seen many display powers and abilties that she had thought impossible to all those who were chained by flesh and bone. Often she had doubted that some ability was real, believing instead that it was no more than trickery and cunning to part fools from their coins. Sometimes she was right in her assumptions and sometimes she was wrong, but never had she doubted another simply because it was the only thing she could do.

And there were many in the lands who claimed to be able to see into the future. For the basest coin or two placed into their palms they would read the cards, or the stars, or even their customer's hands, weaving tales of times yet to be. And there were those among their number who did have the sight, a power that she could not lay claim to in any measure. These ones truly could glimpse a fragment of what was yet to be, passing on the snatches of information that they could gather. but even these souls knew that the future was liable to change, twisting and turning with each new decision made. Few of them ever said that what they had seen was unchangeable, few ever saw more than mere scraps of what the future promised.

But Ebony claimed that her gift went further than that, she truly believed that what she saw would happen, no matter what actions the living undertook, that there was no way to avoid what she had seen. This was where the Sidhe woman's mind rebelled, this was where she refused to believe in the human's ability. For if the future is fixed and unstoppable then what is the point of anything that the inhabitants of the isle do? No matter what they tried the future would still come, it would still sweep them away in its whirlwind grasp and do with them whatever it pleased. Why bother with war, or peace or even life itself when the future had already been decided upon? Why not simply stay at home, unmoving and unconcerned, after all everything was already planned? The future could not yet be written, it had to be flexible, ever-changing as words were spoken and actions performed in the here and now.

If Lyssia agreed to all that Ebony said, if she agreed that the human had seen Lyssia in her vision and that the Sidhe woman was destined to tell her all she should know, then what had been the use of all else she had done in the world. She had free will, she had the ability to go where she choose and do whatever took her fancy, no one, not even the God could deprive her of those rights and set her fate in stone. Everything that she had ever done was for naught if it had been decided long ago that these were the steps of the dance that she would take. Why had she fought against Maledict and his ilk for so many ages if it had already been decided that the Torturer would die and be brought back?

Lyssia looked away towards the horizon, I cannot believe that free will does not exist, that the future is set and that we cannot change it with our actions. I cannot believe that a God could write out my fate and leave me unable to influence it by my actions. I am a free soul, I do as I wish, I do not follow a path simply because some deity has decided taht that is my lot in life.

The future changes witch, I never said that it did not, you hear my words but you do not listen to them. The Lord Darden told me of your existance, He did not tell me that you would reveal my past to me, only that you were the only living creature left who could. You jump to conclusions too easily witch, leaping from one fearful thought to another before you have ever had the chance to realise that what you fear is not real at all. The blind woman paused, reaching out with one hand to brush Lyssia's face, before continuing once more. Now will you not tell me of my past? Will you leave me alone in this world without a history to turn to?

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Mon Feb 17, 2003 7:37 am
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She will tell me of the past that I have lost, I know she will, it is her way. Long before the witch fled the false faith of Foret she was a teller of tales, a weaver of stories and a keeper of histories. A fae race such as hers is are long-lived indeed, what they hold as memories of earlier times can be counted as history to humans like me. I wonder how many ages she has seen, standing still as the river of time flows on about her and her kind. More ages than any human could lay claim to, of that I am sure though her features will never betray her ages, neither to sight nor to the touch of my hands. There will forever be an old soul watching out through the witch's youthful eyes, the weight of all her years dragging her down even as her form remains that of a carefree woman of a handful of years.

What must it be like to live for so long and to see so much? I have heard of many mortal creatures who wished for a span of years that would rival the Sidhe's, thinking somehow that it would benefit them. But here is proof indeed that an ageless form does not bring contentment. Somehow I do not think that those mortals would wish so fervently for those extra years if they spent any amount of time in Lyssia's presence. I know I do not wish for years beyond those which the Lord has allotted to me, no I shall welcome death when it comes, for it shall come by His hand alone. To have my soul taken before Him and judged in His sight, ah that is more than enough for me.

But no there will always be those who seek to take more life than the Lord has set for them, thinking that they can somehow 'cheat' death. You cannot cheat death anymore than you can hide the true intentions of your soul from Darden's gaze, it is no more than childish fantasy to even entertain the thought that it is possible. And why would anyone want to live upon the isle longer than the Lord of Sorrows has dictated that they will? All of us are here to serve a purpose in His plan, it matters not whether we are heathen or faithful, still we are nothing more than tools to be weilded by Him when the time is right. We die because our part in His design is over, when we have player our part in the grand scheme of things and move on to bask in His glorious presence. So why stay upon the lands? Why deliberately try to avoid the inevitiable judgement of your soul?

Suddenly the witch speaks, breaking the silence that had formed between us while I mused on thoughts of time ane life, Speak to me first of faith Ebony. Tell me of the 'joys' of faith that I have forgotten, her words are sullen like a child who is being forced to thank an older relative. Her tone changes again, the sullenness disappearing, replaced by the subtlest hints of yearning, Tell me of your faith Ebony, make me understand once more what belief truly is. Then perhaps I shall tell you what I know of your past, though I shall warn you now that there are things there that you will not want to hear. The Ebony that once was, was not at all the woman you have become. More than likely you shall proclaim me a liar and you will want to stop your ears at what I say. But if you wish to hear of it then I shall tell you once you have told me of faith.

What could there be in my past that would make her say such things? Could it be some crime that I commited in the times before to make her think that I shall behave in that way upon hearing of it? But the woman that I once was is gone, replaced by Darden's faithful follower, now I am Ebony and am content to be nothing more. For what else in the world is there for me to be? I follow Darden and I love Him above all others for allowing me to offer my unworthy flesh up to Him, my Lord is truly gracious to accept me as one of His favoured children.

How many ages has it been since last you knelt before the altar of a God? How long since you lost your faith witch? I ask the questions softly, already knowing the answers but desiring to hear the words from her lips first.

She sighs gently and I can hear her running her hands through her long hair that Silus has told me is the colour of dark plums. My beloved son does not approve of the Sidhe woman, he hates her though he has never spoken a word to indicate such feelings. But still I know he feels this way, after all a mother always knows the deepest emotions of her children, no matter that he is of my blood though not of my womb. Silus thinks that the witch has been sent by one of the false deities, that she has some plan to lure me away from the truth faith. I smile at the thought, my precious son should realise that there are none in the lands or the heavens that could ever tear me from the side of my Lord. He will come to understand this in time, Silus will see that it is Darden that has sent the witch to us so that we may educate her and set her down as one of His children, hearing His melody as clearly as we do.

So many ages have passed, she says the words so softly that I can barely hear them even though I sit by her side. There is so much sadness in her voice, perhaps it is a longing for what she gave up, perhaps it is remembered sadness for what drove her to hate all the Gods. Who among us can really know what it is that plagues the mind of another? Only Darden can claim that ability, looking into our hearts and minds as easily as if we were made of glass. Even before Kara was taken from me, even before I sought to stop Maledict from finding the blasphemous book, even before all that there was doubt in my heart. And after she died, after Celan and His prophets were washed away by Isonia, Darden and Foret...well after she died I had no wish to kneel to any God. Celan let her die in that accursed temple as His powers waned, Foret stood aside as His powers grew and let my soul be ripped in two by her passing. I could kneel to Foret's altar, not after that, even when my allies pledged their support to Him on bended knee I could not follow their lead.

So you ask me how long it has been since my faith fled Ebony? Ages beyond reckoning, all the ages of the Gods that few can claim to have seen all of in this isle.

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Thu Feb 20, 2003 7:26 am
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So many ages, so much time, how could it all have passed when I barely noticed the rising and setting of the sun? I walked through the ages and rarely paid any attention to the time that was travelling by my side and by the side of every other living creature. There again why should the living every pay any heed to the hours, days, years that they live through? No one pays any attention to the time passing them, not till it is too late and the sands have almost run out. While we live we think we have so much time, an infinite supply. We laugh to ourselves and watch the hours tick by, willing them to hurry so that this or that may happen. And only when the hour-glass of our lives is almost done do we look back to those impatient times and wish that we had not hurried time along. The words came out in a flood, filled with the pain of time wasted and regretted. She had been as guilty as any other of wanting to time speed up at times, wishing it to hurry past so that events could take their proper course. And now how she longed for that time to come back to her, wanting so desperately to be able to reach back to her past self and warn her of dismissing the time she had once had.

Time was the most precious commodity that any living creature had, and it was the very thing that the dead mourned. Though the dead might be thought of as having all the time in the world, what use is it without flesh and bone? The dead had time without end and despaired for they could never use it, while the living did not have enough and squandered that which they were given. Only in old age and sorrow did the living look back, feeling the hand of Death upon their shoulders, and want that wasted time returned to them. Oh yes how they looked back and cried out for just a little more time, just a little longer to accomplish just a little more.

Lyssia sighed and looked down on the world below the mountains, all the lands seeming to be spread out before her. All those thousands upon thousands of lives, always hurtling forwards, their course set towards death even as they were born. No sooner was life bestowed upon them than they were already dying, flesh condemned to grow old, weak and rot even as it was born. Black despair settled over the mind of the sorceress, so many living only to die, leaving no mark upon the world before they met their end. Who would remember them? Who would ever even realise that those people had lived, breathed the free air of the isle, delighted in the glories of the world about them? What did those souls leave behind to mark their lives?

Their children...

Their children would live on after them, they would be those people's legacy, their mark upon the world to show that they had lived. Those that lived might be destined to die but they would pass on some of themselves, a part of their soul almost, in their offspring. The parents shaped the personalities of their children, giving some of themselves to those that would live on after them. And in that way they would live on in the spirits of their children and their children's children, their family line the symbol of their lives. She might have smiled at that thought, content to know that the end of a single person's life did not mean that they dropped into total oblivion, the lives not forgotten as soon as their cold flesh was laid to rest in the embrace of the earth. Yes she might have smiled, the despair might have lifted, but her own words only brought her more sorrow.

It was always their children, never hers.

She had known love in the isle and in the lands before it, had felt her heart beat that much quicker at the sight of that special 'other' in her life. But nothing had ever come of it and now her heart felt dead and cold, as chilled as the dead in their graves, there was no love for her, there would be no child to call her own. Even Syek, her young apprentice, who she had almost loved like a son, would never been of her bloodline. Her family line, her ancestors legacy to the lands would die with her, she would be the last to carry the name that the first of her blood had been given.

So if I cannot know of love, if I can do no more than be the last of my line, she whispered under her breath. Then speaking more loudly she completed the sentance, Then let me at least know of faith. Let me understand what was lost to be through doubt and despair, what was washed away from my soul by the blood of the phoenix. Make me udnerstand, Lyssia demanded of Ebony, her voice harsh now, almost angry as she reachedout and gripped the other woman's hands. Make me understand again, give me something to fill this emptiness within me.

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Mon Mar 03, 2003 6:06 am
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I remain silent for a while, not answering her immediately, instead I let the quiet sounds of the mountains surround us. Here and there the winged hunters of the mountains cry out, screeching to one another of food, of mates of nests, and of the eggs that lay within. The faintest of rumbles in the distance tell the tale of rocks tumbling down towards the low lands, forced from their former high perch by the smallest movements of the earth. And all about the wind whistles, singing its song that is beyond the ken of mortal men and woman, though its ever secret must be laid bare to the Lord. It is all a part of His melody in the end, each sound and noise a seperate strand of the whole. Apart each part is nothing, forgotten or ignored by the majority of souls, but together they create His symphony to the lands, a song that calls to His faithful. When times seem at their worst, when the heathens threaten to wipe us out and drench the world in their lies and false beliefs then it is that song that sustains us. It speaks to each and every soul who He has touched and claimed for His own, it teaches us that all is His, that we should drink in our despair and drown the heretics in their own.

You want me to do something that I cannot witch, something that is beyond all skill save your own. Faith is not something that I can give you as a mother would give life to her child. I cannot lay it out before you and say "There, there is faith, there is trust and belief in a power higher than yourself". No creature in the isles could give you that except yourself, no one can present you with that knowledge no matter what they might claim. All anyone can give to you is words, no more, no less, they cannot...I cannot...give you the faith that your soul desires. Your mind may cry out that it does not need faith, that such beliefs are outdated and useless to one such as yourself. But your soul knows otherwise, it yearns for the gentle guidance of the Divine, it hungers to be accepted by Him, it always has.

She turns from me in disgust, her hands dropping my own as waves of despair seem to emanate from her. The Sidhe witch longs to tell me that I am wrong, that she had no need of any of the Gods, I know that that is what she wants to say without her ever needing to utter a word. She regrets her last words, maybe wishing that she could reach out and grab them back so that I never heard them. She hates to have to reach out to another living creature and admit that she needs aid to repair the damage down to her spirit. How much worse must it be for her proud soul to ask for help from the Lord? So confused and alone she is in this world, she lost her place in it and now cannot find the way back, wallowing instead in her heretical thoughts in the vain hope that such a stance might save her.

But they won't, they'll only lead her further into the darkness, smothering her soul till the very spark in it dies and is no more.

I rest my hands by my side, feeling coarse grains of sand under my fingers even though we are far above the desert here. Perhaps one of the great sandstorms picked up these grains, stealing them from their home below and whirling them away. Maybe the witch isnot so different from one of these grains, snatched from all she knew by a power she could not fight against or even comprehend and deposited in a land that is so very alien to what she once knew. Except in her case that 'power' was no storm or breath of wind but rather death itself, the pale rider with his shining scythe that took the life from her soul-companion so many ages ago.

She blames the Gods for that death, or rather she blames the Eldest God for standing by and not protecting her companion. And when her faith in Him was lost so she began to fall down that slippery slope to non-belief, distrusting all the Divine because of the one who failed her. For now she cannot understand that Darden is not Foret, that had she put herself in the hands of the Lord of Sorrows, rather than in those of the Grey-bannered God, things might have been so very different. But she put her trust in a God that could not help her rather than the demon of Tismad who would have welcomed her as one of His own. Since that happened all events have occured for a reason, to guide her back to Him, to the one she was supposed to worship from the beginning. The death of her companion was necessary in order to break down the barriers in her soul that kept back the despair that is His gift to all creatures.

But she doesn't want to hear that yet, or rather she is not yet ready to hear that and accept it as the truth. It may be many ages before the Sidhe woman is ready to hear those words out-loud and know that they are the very thing she has been searching for all this time. To tell her now might ruin everything, she might turn away from Him completely, throwing herself to Isonia or Foret for the sole reason of spiting Darden. And so I cannot tell her yet, I cannot allow her soul to be lost to the false religions. The Lord has given me the task of ushering her to His altar and I will not fail Him, not in this thing that He has groomed me to succeed in.

In the end you can only find faith within yourself witch, I say softly, hoping that my words will cut through her black emotions and reach her heart.What you once threw away, the faith that you believe you lost, some seed of it still lives within you. All it needs is time and a little willingness on your part and it will bloom again, putting forth the bounty of its fruit if you have the patience. But this time that fruit need not be offered up to a God that will turn from you when you need Him most...

My words trail off, the memory of a dream rising in my thoughts just as the sick taste of bile rises in my throat. The dream was sent to me long ago, and even though I know it was no more than a nightmare sent by those once known as the Thirteen to torment the members of the Officium, still it plagues me. In that dream I ran into wheat fields where my God waited for me, the thought of Him filling me with a joy that I cannot describe. But when He spoke to me there was disappointment in His voice, He turned His face from me and accused me of worshipping another before Him, loving another deity better than Him. My God turned His face from me, and never before did I know such emptiness, the void within me threatening to tear me apart.

But no, that was just a dream, there is none that I hold higher than Darden, none that I live better than Him. It was a dream, a nightmare, a wild imagining and nothing more. Darden will not turn from me, not while my faith is strong, He won't abandon me to the darkness...will He?

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Tue Mar 18, 2003 7:55 am
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In the end you can only find faith within yourself witch, those words rippled through Lyssia's mind, dredging up another time and another place. She had found herself in Imhabia many ages ago, not when it was the jewel of the Ronin but rather when that august group of Isonians were first gathering together. The city had not been the delight it had later become under their rule, its streets had been mean and rough, filled those that naturally clung to the underbelly of society. It was strange to think how high the Ronin had been able to raise that place, from the depths to the heights, they had found a diamond in the dark and washed it clean.

Syek had been with her then, her young Sidhe apprentice watching everything with eyes so wide that it almost seemed as though they might fall from his head. Everything had been a wonder to him, new and fantastic, an adventure yet to be fully explored or fully comprehended by his immature senses. She had asked that Ronin to speak of faith, to tell Syek of what it meant to believe in a deity and know that you were not alone in the world. Their words had been similar to Ebony's, cautioning her that faith was not something that oculd be taught but rather that it was already within waiting to be called forth.

But she did not feel, then or now, as if there was even the faintest shred of faith left in her soul. She could barely remember what it felt like to completely trust in the Divine, that time when she had seemed so long ago. Lyssia felt as though all she could do was look back upon those times of her lost faith and mock herself for being so foolish as to believe. She could picture herself at the altar, praying, her faith bouying up her spirit even in the direst of times. But as she saw herself doing that in her mind's eye Lyssia's thoughts seemed to cry out 'Fool, how could you place your trust in the Divine? Broken promises are all that They gave you, all that They can ever give'.

Yes, broken promises, or more precisely one broken promise, given by a Goddess who no longer lived in these lands. A promise that had been made, a blessing that had sealed her to Kara till the End Times. We were never supposed to be parted, She promised, She promised, the words spilled out like a dam breaking under the pressure of flood waters.

And there lay the heart of the matter, a promise given and a promise broken. How could Lyssia ever trust a God when one had already failed her? Angelique had promised that the Sidhe and the phoenix would be one, that they who shared one soul could never be parted. But they had been parted, death's scythe had sliced their shared soul in half as one had lived and one had died. If one of the Divine had not been able to old true to such a simple promise then how could she ever bring herself to believe that any other would be more capable? How could even a mote of faith still live within her breast after all that had happened to her?

She shook her head sadly, not noticing Ebony's sudden silence or how the blood had drained from the seeress's already pale flesh. If there is indeed a seed of faith left to me then I do not know where it hides itself in my soul. Perhaps it is buried so deeply that I shall never be able to dig it out. Or maybe I have left it too long, maybe it has withered away and died, unable to ever find the succour that it needed to blossom into life. After all even the hardiest of seeds can only sustain themselves for so long, eventually rotting away in the silent earth, forgotten by all who walk above them. All that potential for life can be lost so easily if there are none to care for them. And yet... Lyssia paused, her brow furrowed as alien thoughts seemed to invade her own, turning over all her arguments by their mere presence.

And yet, if that were completely true then there would be no wilderness. If all needed a guardener to watch over them and encourage their growth then there would be no forests, no meadows, no heathlands. There would be no wild places for all would require aid before they could grow and this is not true. The world is filled with untamed lands, places were no man or woman had ever tried to bind nature to their will and the seeds of those places are as fertile as any other. She stopped suddenly, unsure where her thoughts were leading her, feeling awkward at having spoken them aloud. The sorceress felt as though she were at the very edge of something, the very end of a path whose next road was shrouded in mist from her eyes. She could risk another step forward and find solid ground there or she could take that next step and find herself falling, the path leading to nothing.

But would it be so bad to fall from that cliff edge in her mind if that was where the path had led her? Would it be so bad to dash her thoughts upon the rocks below and let her mind piece itself back together in a more fitting way? Her eyes shut and in her mind she could see the great eastern cliffs of Gyppeswyk, the sea roaring below while the gulls cried out overhead.

As if froma great distance she could hear Ebony speak once more, Sometimes a seed may lay in the land for many ages before the time is right for it to reach upon into the world above. Kingdoms may rise and fall but still that seed will wait, knowing that it is not yet ready. But it will become ready, the time for it will come and it will break through the prison of soil that has held it and turn its gaze towards the sun. You have been imprisoned by your own thoughts and fears for long enough Lyssia, now is the time to break free and face yourself towards the light of the Lord.

In her mind the salt wind whipped at her hair, almost seeming to try and pull her back as she walked towards the cliff's edge. Her heart seemed to beat so loudly, threatening to drown out the sounds of the waves as they dashed themselves against the cliffs. Lyssia laughed, Drowning a wave?, there was only mirth, the guilt of all the ages past seemed lifted from her shoulders for a few fleeting moments. The grey gulls dived down towards her, pecking at her flesh and trying to drive her away from the edge, shreeching in her ears. But she merely brushed them aside, knowing that they were nothing more than her fears manifesting themselves in this strange day-dream.

She stood at the very edge, sickness welling up in her stomach as she looked over the edge. The sea called to her, its siren song pleading that she take the final step, that she forsake the land and trust herself to its embrace. Looking up, her breath caught within her throat as she saw the sun rise over the horizon, seeming to set the ocean on fire with its light. The Sidhe reached out towards that light, but her fingers appeared to fall just short of reaching it.

One more step that's all she'd need.

One more step and she'd be able to touch that fire that danced upon the water.

One more step...


Lyssia felt herself falling, head over heels, no ground below her feet and the sky seeming to mock her as she tumbled. But she wasn't scared, there was no fear, the time for it was past. The jagged rocks below seemed to reach up for her like the broken stone fingers of giants promising to catch her. The wind whistled past her but it stopped suddenly as she felt herself come to rest on the rocks.

Pain exploded through her body, her mind felt dizzy and unsure of itself. She opened her eyes and looked up at the sky, the sun lay overhead now, not at the horizon has it had been in her dream. But had it been a dream at all? Lyssia reached her fingers up towards the sun once more and smiled, feeling its heat soak into her battered flesh. And as she lay there, not at the foot of Gyppeswyk's cliffs but rather at the foot of the desert realm's mountains she found that she could do not more. She smile grew more content as she lay there unmoving, till finally the words came, the only clear thought left in her shattered mind, She didn't call me witch, she called me Lyssia.

_________________
SO - Into darkness...
Hlasta! Quetis Ilfirimain
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Last edited by Lyssia on Tue Apr 29, 2003 4:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

Tue Mar 25, 2003 6:52 am
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I heard her fall.

I heard her step over the side of the ledge, heard the ground crumble under her feet and give way. I heard her...laugh?...as she fell, a sound of joy that I had never thought to hear from the Sidhe woman's lips. Most would have screamed in her situation, crying out their fear as they plummetted, terrified of the pain that awaited them when they reached the ground below. In that instant when people fall, between leaving solid ground and reaching the ground people, most know only fear, so scared of what will happen that they fail to appreciate the moment. The 'now', the 'moment', they always worry so much about the future that they forget the present. But the future is nothing without the present, it is only half-imagined dreams, thoughts never brought to fruition, plans never realised, time that could have been but instead is lost, unconnected to what has been done. The future is nothing unless it is bound securely to the present.

We will never reach the future, it is a glittering prize that is forever just beyond our reach. What is 'tomorrow' but a word, a promise? We never live tomorrow, we only live today, tomorrow is always ahead of us, a mischevious spirit that tempts us all with so many empty promises. But we can never get our hands upon it, that most elusive of spirits, it laughs at our attempts and dances out of our grasp. Tomorrow will always be tomorrow, and we will always live in today.

And for a moment I think that the sorceress understood all that, as she fell, as the ground rushed towards her. She understood, she lived, truly lived, for that instant, that one moment when she laughed instead of screamed. Perhaps there is hope for her yet, maybe true redemption is not beyond her. Ah how many times have I included her in my prayers, wishing only that she would offer her soul upto the Lord, opening herself totally to His will. The witch has known such despair and sorrow, she has been given the gift of some of His greatest gifts and yet she has turned from Him time and time again. Never could I try to understand how she could go against Darden's will for so many ages, deliberately setting herself against all of the Gods, wanting revenge for what happened to her before. I frown to myself, had I been in her shoes I would have recognised Darden's hand in the events that transpired and would have gone to Him willingly. Wouldn't I? Surely if I had been her I would have still seen the glory of Darden?

But there again would things have been so different if I were her and she were me? We are shaped by what happens to us, the world molds us just as we work upon it, each changing the other by our interactions. But would two so very different souls have both made the same mistakes if they had lived each other's lives? I cannot answer that question, only the Lord has such wisdom and He has chosen not to share it with His servant in this matter. Not that the lack of an answer concerns me at all, I am content to have lived my life as I have, to have known only His service, to have never fallen victim to the doubt that has been the Sidhe's blackest enemy for so long. The Lord blessed me and made me one of His children, I would not trade that away by any amount of wishing for the power or life that the witch has known.

It seems as though minutes have passed, hours even, as thoughts of what might have been if we had merely been in each other?s place. But in truth only the slightest of moments have moved from one side of the world?s hourglass to the other. Only seconds from the ground giving back beneath her to the sickening thud of the Sidhe?s flesh hitting the ground. Even I who have known many horrors, who has born witness to the screams of the unworthy being educated in the proper worship of Darden, even I find myself wincing at that sound. That is the sound of flesh and bone being subjected to forces that it was never meant to, threatening to snap and tear.

I clamber to my feet, reaching out to feel the jagged stone to one side, feeling a little of it crumble under my touch. The sorceress could not have fallen more than twenty or thirty feet from this position, caught by one of the lower ledges. It could be that she survived the fall, or it could be that her neck was snapped when her body met the hard rock. Either way I must know the truth of it. How could I not? The witch is the only living soul who knows of my lost past, the only one who can tell me who I once was. Besides the Lord has entrusted her to me, I will not fail Him by allowing her to die for some foolishness upon the mountainside. Even if it is with her dying breath, I will hear her confession of sins against Him, I will hear her give her soul to Him even if life is fleeing from her grasp.

Gone is the certainty that I walked with earlier as we climbed our way up here. Then I knew each step to take, my feet needing no guidance from my mind to know where to walk and where to avoid. But now I am not so sure, I do not know the path from here to where the Sidhe lays. I make my way about this world by taking the paths that my mind remembers from the time when I could still see, by feeling out the safe trail and trusting myself to the Lord of Sorrows. I still trust in the Lord, nothing could ever change that, but I do not trust myself, I do not know if I can find my way to the woman?s side.

I take a thin path that leads down, away from the main trail, hugging close to the edge of the shear rock face. By my reckoning it can be no more than a foot wide and even that seems to threaten to give way with each new step that I take along it. Let her still live Lord, let not life have fled her body yet, not before she had the chance to embrace Your glory, I mutter the prayer to myself as my fingers seek out each would-be hand-hold. If Lyssia has died then I will have failed the Lord, I would have proved myself unworthy of His trust in me. I cannot let that be, I live for Darden alone and to fail in the conversion of the Sidhe for Him would place a stain upon my soul that would be as terrible as that which marks a heathen from one of His children.

_________________
[center]Seeing what others deny
Sanctum Officium - Herald of Despair
Let your death feed the visions
Maledict's Psychiatrist by special appointment[/center]


Tue Apr 29, 2003 12:44 am
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Pseudo-Voodoo Sidhe
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Location: Somewhere between yesterday and tomorrow
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Sunlight fell about her, seeming to bathe her in its light, washing her clean of all the uncertainties that had wormed their way into her soul. For now nothing else mattered, the world and all its troubles could not reach her now. She lay as still as the dead, the coppery taste of her own blood filling her mouth. Movement would only bring pain, her mind informed her coldly and clinically, a voice of reason that seemed to be no part of her. So why move at all if the world could not touch her and to do so would only hurt? Lyssia had hurt for so long, not physically maybe but mentally, spiritually, she had been wounded within and that injury had festered. Infection and foul poisons had made their way into her, twisting her thoughts darkly till despair had felt as though it was her only companion.

Darkness had wrapped itself about her soul, urging her into greater sorrows, clothing her spirit in sadness and bitterness. She had looked upon the world with nothing more than despair, thinking it a lost cause already, beyond any aid. It felt like the Sidhe had wandered for a long time in the shadows, moving in any direction that was away from the light that she occansionally glimpsed. Why had she moved away from that light? From the hand it offered her? Stubborness alone? Or was it because she had feared more pain? That somehow the light would burn her till only ashes remained of her tattered soul?

But what agony could ever be worse than that she already felt from the emptiness within her soul?

Finally though she had faced the light, imagining it as the sunrise over the ocean of her old home. In her mind she had not turned away from it but rather had reached out for it, trying to touch it and draw it close. Perhaps she had not been able to accomplish that but still she had tried, she had braved the fear of the pain. And maybe that was really all that was needed, to lose all fear of the pain, to cast it aside and no longer let it shackle her. No longer would the worry of it bind her soul and stop it from soaring to the heights that every soul should reach.

...don't move it'll hurt...The cold voice in her mind commanded again. Some part of her cautioned herself against listening to that voice, some memory whispered a warning that it was not to be trusted. The cold voice had told so many lies, it had hurt others many times before and not cared, why should it care if she hurt now? ...you don't want to hurt anymore do you?...

But Lyssia only laughed in reply, her rich red blood staining her lips like the juice of wild berries. Even that hurt but it no longer mattered, what was a little pain to her. I have suffered worse and lived, I can take the little pains, I can take them within myself and make them a part of me. And every little pain that I make a part of me will strengthen me, it'll protect me when the bigger hurts afflict me. That gave her pause for thought, wasn't that not so far from what Ebony believed? That by suffering it was possible to make yourself stronger, not necessarily physically but spiritually. No, no it couldn't possible be the same thing.

Slowly she raised one hand, watching as the sunlight danced down to kiss the flesh, even as every nerve-ending screamed in her mind. But even as she moved the pain seemed to lessen, or rather become less important. It was nothing more than sensation, signals from her flesh imprinting themselves upon her thoughts. And it seemed to her that if she wanted she could ignore it, or rather drown it in another sensation. The sun's warmth peirced through the darkness that surrounded her spirit, washing over the pain and leaving only its own glory in her mind.

The little pains don't matter do they?, she said softly, swallowing her own blood. Who was she talking to though? Who were her words directed to? Only the sun above looked upon her, a great unblinking eye, Darden's celestial body in the world. Before she had always felt as though it were staring at her, examining her for weakness, looking through her, peeling back the layers of her body and mind till all was laid bare before it. But now? Now it didn't seem so terrible to let someone look upon all that made her what she was. Why should it? Lyssia was simply Lyssia, sorceress, Sidhe, storykeeper. She was a woman of the lands, a ruler of a dead realm, the guest of a living one, she had walked the lands for many ages, seaching for what could never be found, a truth that would always elude her as long as she looked for it in the world alone and never looked ot the heavens. I am myself, look all You will, but I shall not change.

I am myself, I can be no other. I have had faith and lost it, burying it deeply within myself, hiding it underneath all my sorrow. I have denyed that despair, pushing it away for fear of the agony it would bring to me. How long have I allowed myself to be ruled by fear alone?
It seemed laughable, she had thought herself the mistress of her own destiny but in reality she had let herself be led around by her own nightmare fears. The sorceress had run from her terrors, never realising that it was better to face them, to expose them in the light. And now she had the light to see by, she had reached for that light, no longer afraid of the pain it might bring her.

The cold voice in her mind was silent, knowing that it had lost the Sidhe for now, lost her within the light of a God.

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


Tue Apr 29, 2003 1:52 am
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Location: In Darden's mercy
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Since giving up my sight to Darden I have found my others senses growing, becoming stronger as if they seek to replace that which was freely given to the Lord. So it is that my blindness is no weakness. After all the eyes of mortal man can so easily be fooled, forced into believing falsehoods because they cannot understand how their own sight can lie to them. I can never be taken in by the lies of sight, never shall appearance fool my mind, hiding the truth behind another image. Through hearing, touch, taste and smell I shall judge my surroundings, letting them tell me the truth of the world around me.

But even though I know that my other senses strive to only tell me the truth I cannot help but doubt one of them now. I can hear a voice, speaking as calmly as if its owner were in some lofty castle in a land that did not know of war or strife. There should be none out here save the witch and myself, my people know better than to risk being caught in these mountains. I have no need of soldiers to patrol the heights, there are worse things that prowl the high places, things that those of Darden are protected from by His hand. So who is it that speaks? The Sidhe witch? It certainly sounds like her voice but how could it be after such a fall? Are her those of her race really so hardy?

...long have I allowed myself to be ruled by fear alone?, I am almost certain that it is the witch that speaks but what miracle has occured that her body survived the fall? I had thought her dead or at best mortally wounded, surely no mortsl form could live through the fall, not unless the Lord decided that that life was still of use to Him. The holy teachings of Darden speak of suchthings occuring, of Darden choosing to let one live, heathen or faithful, because they yet had some part to play in His plans. Could it be that He had chosen her for some reason, to carry out His will in the isle rather than letting her join those who are judged by Him in the afterlife? Truly she is honoured if it is so.

The ledge beneath my bare feet seems to become wider as I walk along it till it reaches the point where I only feel the need to steady myself with one hand against the rocky face. Do you yet live?, I ask a little uncertainly, trusting that Darden will watch over me or take me to His side. My faith is complete, I have no fear of death for I know that it will only serve to bring me closer to my God. I yearn for the day when the Lord of Sorrows takes me to Himself, to be judged before His glory, to give an account of my life and my soul and trust that it shall not be found wanting in His eyes. Not even the pain of death holds fear for me, pain is no more than a tool, part of the teachings of Darden. If there were no suffering then we would never learn the truths that He sets before us.

Do I live?, I find myself answered by a question but one that seems more directed at the speaker herself than at me. I wonder if I have lived at all till this moment, but now? Yes, now I think that I finally live. Her voice sounds as though it is filled with mirth but I do not understand what it is that amuses her so. When Kara died I did not bury her, instead I buried myself, I fashioned for my soul a tomb of sorrow and grief and locked my spirit within. It was so dark within that grave but now the light creep in and it seems as though I see it for the very first time.

I frown to myself as I draw near the point that her voice is coming from, taking each step carefully lest I step upon her. Does some new madness now hold the witch in its thrall? This talk of grief and tombs and light makes no sense to me, does the Lord speak through her? Presenting me with a riddle that I do not comprehend?

The cloth of her robe replaces the broken stones beneath my feet, a far softer surface that does not cut into the flesh of my feet. Kneeling down I find myself by her side, the tang of blood upon the air informing me that she has not escaped the fall completely unscathed. With nervous hands I reach out, running them over her to see if I cannot find the source of her injury. There is blood on her lips, running down her chin andleaving a small patter of droplets on her neck, but nothing else. I can find no sign of broken bones or torn skin, nothing that would speak of what she had undergone. Do you hurt?, I ask of her as I try to wipe the blood from around her mouth.

I have always hurt but that doesn't matter anymore, the little pains don't matter, they never did. The real wound happened long ago, here, Under my touch I can feel her move her hand to gesture towards her heart. And I never let it heal, I continued to pick, pick, pick at it, never leaving it in enough peace to knit back together the halves of my soul. But it's healing now, not fully but it's started and for the moment that's enough.

Such strange words from her, could she have hurt her head? I have heard tell of men and women suffering blows to their head which addled them, robbing them of their thoughts and replacing them with nonsense. Tell me how you survived your fall?, Again I ask her a question, trusting that her senses will right themselves if I encourage her to speak.

She laughs...the sound of it isn't bitter or sad, it's just laughter and nothing more. The sun caught me, He caught me after I tried to catch Him between my fingers. She pauses and I can feel more blood well up from her mouth soaking into the cloth of my sleeve. When she speaks again her tone has changed, become softer, more serious, all the laughter drained and gone. I can't die yet, there's something that I must so. Something's going to happen to you Ebony, something that's going to test you to your limits and perhaps beyond. But I have to be there, I have to be with you, watch over you and make sure that this time no one can hurt you.

_________________
[center]Seeing what others deny
Sanctum Officium - Herald of Despair
Let your death feed the visions
Maledict's Psychiatrist by special appointment[/center]


Tue Apr 29, 2003 3:08 am
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Pseudo-Voodoo Sidhe
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Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2002 5:00 pm
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Location: Somewhere between yesterday and tomorrow
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What made her say such strange words? The sorceress couldn't say for sure, it was as though they had simply appeared in her mind, waiting to be spoken aloud. She had no reason to believe that Ebony was about to face any great trial and yet she had spoken the words, or perhaps they had spoken through her. It had been though Lyssia had been gripped by a complete knowledge of something that was yet to happen but when she had tried to warn Ebony the truth of it had slipped away, leaving her only with a vague warning and a promise. And it was a promise that she would keep, she would stay by Ebony's side, she would make sure that no harm came to the seeress as long as she was near.

Looking up at the blind woman the Sidhe did not dwell upon the gaping empty eye sockets within the other's face, she looked past all the fanatical beliefs that Ebony clung to. She looked past it all and saw the woman she had known before, a friend that she had lost in the mists of time. Time had changed them both, robbing one of her faith and the other of her memory, but under all that they were still who they had once been. For that alone Lyssia would let no harm come to the seeress, no matter how different their opinions were she would still let no enemy hurt the human woman.

Yes there had been a time when the two of them had been close, travelling the roads of another world without care or concern. They had followed different Gods then but it hadn't mattered, it had never come between them, never tried to drive them apart. But should Lyssia tell her of that? Should she tell Ebony of the past life that she had forgotten herself? If she told her then it would raise as many questions as it answered, and cause as many problems as there were grains of sand in the desert. Ebony loved her Lord Darden, her faith in Him made her strong and unwavering in her devotions. How would she react to the knowledge that there had been a time when she had not followed the God of Sorrows, when she had knelt before the altar of another?

But Lyssia could not ponder that question for long, her attention taken instead by the lines of pain that raced up her body. Like burning fingers they traced across her limbs, reminding her that though she had survived the fall still she had suffered it. The sorceress tried to take the sensation into herself, to watch it from afar as though it were not hers at all. The words remained fresh in her mind, "The little pains don't matter", but it was so very hard to accept such a lesson. She shut her eyes, lashes fluttering down, calling out the the power of her blood, commanding her Sidhe heritage to awaken and act.

The Art, the magic of the Sidhe, twisted and turned, adding its own unique flame to the raw fires of pain that danced along her senses. It felt her call and rushed to do her biding, demanding that it be used, urging for an outlet for its energies. The sorceress gasped as she felt its touch throughout her body, almost wishing for a moment that she had not resorted to using it. But it was too late to go back now, the magic had been called, it would be used to do her will or it would find a use for itself. Wild magic, without commandment or cause, could be a dangerous thing, a destructive or a creative force as it chose. Once called it had to be molded, used, or else it would show the one that had called it the mistakes of using magic lightly.

She felt the tendrils of magic extend through her, strengthening with each new part of her body that they reached. They felt out the hurt inside her, not the mental anguish but the physical, examining the damage that the fall had done. Battered flesh and bruised skin, they were the least of her worries, within her lungs the blood flowed, threatening to drown her in a sea of her own vitae. To drown in a desert, it seemed almost laughable, but it would be no joke if the blood's flow was not stopped. Even now she could feel her breath shortening, the blind panic of a drowning soul rising in her mind as spots of darkness appeared before her eyes. The world would grow dark if she let it, the light of her own life extinguished and forgotten.

But that could not be, she had made a promise to live and so she would, there was no peace to be found in death for her just yet.

The magic turned at her command, not just probbing her injuried but sending some portion of its powers into them. Flesh knitted back to how it had been, blood once more sealed within its vessels. Still the blood remained in her lungs but with an effort she moved herself, turning onto her side as she felt the first coughing fit overtake her. Globules of bright red blood were brought up, spattering on the hard earth and laying there as naturally as if they were some odd new flower that had sprung up. Her lungs heaved as her breath came in great uncertain glups, the sight of the world swimming before her eyes forcin its way through the waves of pain that assaulted her mind.

Soon there was no more blood to bring up and only air entered her lungs once more. Exhaustion hung heavy upon her so much so that when Ebony craddled in her her arms the sorceress didn't complain. She lay there, her head resting on the human's lap, looking up at the sky where the sun shone down upon them both.

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


Wed Apr 30, 2003 12:49 am
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