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Reunion [GRP]
Topic Started: Tue Oct 10, 2017 6:58 am (314 Views)
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The mountains known as the Gwilikith Range were known for many things: Their inhospitability, the many volcanoes, and also the beautiful vales and rivers made by the glaciers. Many travelers seemed to avoid traveling them unless it was absolutely necessary, as between the natural dangers and the isolation, there was always the possibility of robbers and highwaymen to contend with. But despite the dangers, some still saw the trek as worthwhile. If one could fly as the eagles do, they might have caught sight of a young woman wandering up one of the many valleys. Drawing closer, her fiery red hair would stand out among the greens and grays and blues of the trees, stone, and rivers. Nearing even closer, her skin would appear pale, but riddled with discolorations, scars that ran across her entire body. She wore a simple dress, with an overbust corset fashioned from leather, and her eyes were covered by a blindfold made from a simple white cloth. A few trinkets swung freely around her neck, and a metal glove hung from her belt on either side of her slender hips. She was not a curvaceous woman, having the build of a fighter, wiry and lean. Her feet were bare, but she seemed to have no trouble making her way across the stones and uneven terrain, as she made her way ever higher. She eventually began to near the cloud layer. Many would have had a difficult time breathing by now, but she didn't seem to breath at all.

What a strange woman.

She felt the kiss of the clouds against her skin, and her clothing became damp from the moisture. Once she eventually broke above the layer of the clouds, she came upon a sort of plateau, with a summit a few hundred yards away. She found a relatively smooth spot on the stone, and knelt, her hair blowing wildly in the intense winds that ran wild and free in this wide open sky, unhindered by man or nature. Resting her hands on her lap, she began to pray, silently at first, seemingly unfazed by the wild nature of the environment she was in. Slowly, if one were able to ignore the howling gusts of wind, one might have been able to make out the words of her prayer, repeated over and over.

“Gods of Chaon, hear me in my hour of need. I have no claim to your favor, that I may beseech you, nor any title or fame that would give me license to demand your strength. I ask humbly, as a child, a young mortal who had walked this earth for little over a score: please, hear me. My path has been shrouded in darkness, and grows darker still. I beg you, Gods of Chaon, help this soul to have the strength, the endurance, to stay the course that lies before my feet. Gods of Chaon, I thank you for this world. Gods of Chaon, hear me.”

She repeated this mantra over and over, as the cloud below her slid over the mountain like a gentle caress. Slowly the sun began to set, yet she still showed no sign of ceasing her devotion, and slowly the moon began to rise as the sky turned to a golden glow, though her blind eyes could not perceive the natural wonder that surrounded her. Eventually the stars began to reveal their light, and as the sky shifted to darker and darker shades, eventually, her prayers came to an end. She knew the time had come to enact the ritual that she had learned from the library that she had been granted access to back in Taras. It was not a ritual for the faint of heart, or those who were not well versed in the ways of magic, and the energy that suffused the world in which she dwelt. It would be painful, it would be slow, and it would take all of her willpower and strength to complete it.

She focused her energy, felt the raw mana flowing through her body. In every soul, even those who were magically disinclined, it flowed along paths and courses, not altogether unlike blood. But she would have to change the manner in which it did so, to open her body to a purer expression of that energy. The blind woman removed the leather corset, leaving only her dress, which began to reshape itself into the most minimal of clothing. Despite this, the girl did not flinch, as if she were unaffected by the cold of the night in these mountains. She held her hand out, and channeled it in much the same way she always had, willing the air to coalesce into a solid shard of ice, solid and sharp enough to pierce and cut flesh. She grasped the impromptu blade, and began to carve elaborate tribal-like patterns and sigils in her skin, not once flinching or crying out. She had too much to gain, and too much to lose, to allow a little pain and blood to disrupt her concentration. She continued the mark her flesh with occult patterns and symbols, willing the mana within her to reshape itself, and flow along new pathways. It felt like dying, as the very energy that sustained her was now being forced into a formation that it had never before taken, and it was a pain like she had not felt since she was a little girl. Slowly, however, it began to acquiesce to her demands, and she could feel a strange new power, almost like a sense of connection, that was incredibly powerful, but beautiful in its simplicity and purity. This was raw energy, untainted by the elements, or the will of men or beast. She then held out her icy dagger, and gripped the blade with her other hand, drawing it out to cut into her free hand, which began to slowly bleed. She leaned forward, and began to write in her own blood on the stone. It was a sigil, a summon, that would concentrate a great deal of raw, pure magical energy, far more than she could ever possibly contain, but the goal was not to contain it. No mortal could contain such might. Rather, it was to bind it to herself, a blanket of energy, both sword and shield in its use. By the time she had finished the marking, and focused her will through it, the moon already hung directly overhead, for it was the dead of night. No creature disturbed her, for such a thing was not natural, and even the beasts and birds that dwelt in the mountains knew better than to interfere.

She felt a massive surge of power as the glyph activated, and she waited to feel the rush of magical might that would follow. She felt nothing of the sort. She bore a mark on her forehead that allowed her to see magic, but instead of a swirling maelstrom of energy like she had expected, she saw an indistinct figure, with long hair and feminine curves, hovering over the mark that she had written in blood. She thought that it might be the cruel joke of the angel that watched over her, and accompanied her from time to time. Worse still, had she messed up, and summoned a being from another plane of existence? Had she ruined the ritual that she had invested such time and effort into? She was unsure of what to say or do, and she sat in silence for several minutes, the ethereal figure neither moving nor interrupting the quiet. Finally, the redheaded seeress asked,

“Is that you, Rachiel? Or have I called someone else by mistake?”

She was greeted by more silence, before the entity finally answered.

“I am not your angel, child. Nor did you call me. You pulled in pure mana, and I chose to come with it.”

Silnimare was shocked. What had she done? Who was this stranger? She asked as much, but nothing that she had experienced in her twenty-six years of life (and death) could have prepared her for the answer that she received.

“My dearest Silnimare, are you so blinded by wounds that you do not know your own mother?”

With that, the figure grew more distinct, and drew closer to her, bathing her in a calm that she had not known for years beyond counting. She couldn't understand it. She had spent so many years feeling alone, and now, somehow, the person that she had grieved for and ached for was suddenly back in her life, albeit in an unusual fashion? Her mind reeled at the implications, and for a moment, she stuttered, scarred lips moving without words as she tried to find what to say. After a few moments, her mother placed her hand on Silnimare's shoulder, and said,

“There is no need to fear, or be in confusion, my little songbird. Ask your questions, and let us talk. It has been far too long.”

“What... how? After everything, how did you come back to me?”

Eileen Morrighanu, the ghost of Silnimare's mother, sighed, and explained,

“As I said, Silnimare, you called down a great deal of magical energy. Having passed on to the realm of spirits, my being is made of much the same stuff. For so long I have watched your pain, and when you opened the gate, I chose to make myself part of it. I have only seen bits and pieces, as something about you kept you hidden from my eyes, but I have always tried to watch over you. I am sorry that I was not able to do more. But I am here now, my daughter, and you don't have to be alone.”

Silnimare went to turn and hug her mother, but her hands passed right through it. “Oh, right.” She sighed, and realized that despite having her mother close once more, she was still barred from feeling her mother's embrace. She pondered what this all meant, and finally asked,

“I know that I can see you, because of my ability to see magic itself. Can anyone else see you? Are you still a ghost?”

Eileen smiled warmly and released her hand from Silnimare's shoulder.

“I can only be seen if you wish it to be so. I am a spirit, but because of your ritual, I am so much more. I can protect you, and bring harm to your enemies. But first, you should know, that by making me visible, you pull magic into yourself, which keeps you from draining your mana reserves quite as quickly. Go ahead, call me into the world, and let my soul bleed into reality.”

“Ever the poet, mom.” Silnimare smiled, the shock beginning to fade, at least enough for her to regain control of herself. She focused her will, and felt her mother's form become... realer, one might say. Still intangible, but she could feel the shroud of her mother's spirit suffusing her with magical power. She then could feel thirteen symbols floating around her, like protective charms.

"What are those?" she asked, curious as to how this was all developing.

“They are charms, my child. Just as you could not contain this much energy within your body, the various uses for the Shroud, as it's known, would tear you apart. The charms offset that, being consumed in your place. They will recover on their own, with time, but if they are all used up, it will start to take it's toll on your body and mind.”

“How do you know all of this?”

“You know some of it yourself, Silnimare. The rest I can understand because thanks to your ritual I am your shroud, so I can understand how it works. I will teach you how to use these gifts, so that I can protect you, my beautiful daughter.”

Silnimare chuckled at her mom's statement. Beautiful? She was riddled with scars! No one in their right mind would see her as beautiful. Perhaps the ritual had damaged or twisted her mother's spirit.

“How can you say that? Look at what the years have done to my body? I'm just a scarred husk, a shell of the woman I used to be.”

Eileen looked at her daughter, thinking of how to comfort her. So much had happened, yet despite all of her power, Silnimare had not seemed to be able to let go of it.

“You carry the scars because you believe you must. But even if they stayed with you for eternity, you are still beautiful, because of who you are; but we can speak more of that at another time. For now, let me show you some of what I can do to help you. Go to the rock you over there.”

Silnimare obeyed, her thoughts dwelling on what her mother meant by “because you believe you must.” Was she saying that Silnimare wanted the scars? That she only had them because she felt she had to? She shook the thoughts from her mind, and drew near to a small rocky pillar that jutted up from the flat area that she stood on.

“Now reach out with your will, and guide me to strike it down, as if it were a foe.”

Silnimare complied, and willed her shroud, her mother, to reach out and strike the stone before her. Eileen drew her hand back, before swiping it like a slap against the stone. But instead of a thud, her hand drew across it like a blade, cutting into the rock, sending bits of stone flying to the side from the damage. One such piece threatened to fly back and hit Silnimare in the face. Before she could move out of the way, her mother drew her other arm in front of her daughter, and the stone struck with about half the force it could have. Silnimare's eyebrows raised in surprise at what happened, and her mother replied to her shock,

“As you saw, I can help to protect you, as well as strike out at those who would harm you. As you can sense, three of your charms have dimmed, each strike uses one of them, and to guard you takes two. You could keep going, but I believe that you get the picture. We could do more, but for now, let us rest and talk. I'm sure you have much more on your mind than simply the abilities that my presence enables.”

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The spirit guided Silnimare to a small cave few hundred yards away. Silnimare sat down on the cold, hard floor of the natural structure, her undead body not responding to the chill that the environment surrounded her with. The blind mage's gaze was pointed towards the stone floor, and the spirit of her mother detached from her, sitting across from her, waiting for her daughter to speak. Finally the silence was broken by something other than the howling winds that flew freely above the clouds.

“So, what happened after I died?”

Silnimare took a deep breath and sighed, trying to prepare herself mentally for recounting the events of the previous years.

“Well, me and dad didn't take it too well. That same night, the healers found out that my body didn't respond properly to healing magic, and so when they tried to heal my eyes, it left these scarred things in their place.” She casually gestured towards her eyes, and continued, “So I stayed home, didn't really leave my room much. It just felt like I had lost everything. The guards didn't do much. They said that they investigated, but didn't know who it was that killed you. Turned out, it was some corrupt guards running a protection racket. I found out a few years later that after you died, my dad just started paying them, afraid of what would happen to me. About a year after you died, I couldn't do it any more. I grabbed my walking stick and set out on my own, despite dad's protests. I don't know, maybe he thought I would just get lost, or come back soon, but I didn't. I left Taras completely. A few people stopped and helped me with food, or a tent, but most nights I was alone, blind, hungry, and cold.”

Tears started from Eileen's eyes. She knew her daughter had suffered, but to actually hear it firsthand was more emotional for her than she could have anticipated. She had always wanted to protect her daughter, but here it seemed that she had failed in her primary job as a mother.

“I'm so, so sorry baby. I wish more than anything I could have spared you from that.”

Silnimare turned her head. “I know.”

For several minutes, what seemed like an eternity, they both sat there, in silence. After a while, Silnimare continued.

“After a few weeks of that, I found myself in a graveyard. A ghost who called himself Riordan of the Stone spoke to me, and showed me how to defend myself, and put a symbiote on my spine, that allowed me to echo-locate. After that, I wandered around for a while, playing in taverns to pay for lodging, and getting into fights with those who I felt were abusing their power like those guards that killed you did.”

“Why would you put yourself in harm's way after all of that?”

“Because, I couldn't stand the thought of people like the ones that killed you walking free in the world. It was probably stupid, but all the same, I was young and stupid. Finally, I decided it was time to hunt down the ones that did this to you. I started following the coast north, to make my way home. Along the way, I ran afoul of slavers, who kidnapped me and took me prisoner aboard their ship, until Rachiel, the angel that helps me, showed up, and gave me the power to escape. They did things... I would rather not speak of it further.”

“I understand. We can talk more of this tomorrow. Get some rest.”

“I don't need to sleep any more mother. I'm sure you noticed, I'm not exactly alive anymore.”

“All the same, you should give yourself time to process all of this. Here.”

Eileen reached forward and touched Silnimare's forehead, causing her to slump backwards, and drift into a peaceful, gentle sleep until the next night. As she lay there asleep, Rachiel, Silnimare's guardian angel of sorts appeared, a glistening silhouette of water and holy energy. She turned to Eileen's spirit, and commented, her voice like a trickling stream formed into words.

“You know, I've had to do that to her myself, from time to time.”

Eileen turned her gaze to Rachiel, her eyes narrowed in contempt.

“Yes, and I know that you've had a great deal more done to her, as well. I may not have always been aware of my daughter, but I know that you have hurt her, and that you had a hand in leading her down this path. Mark my words carefully, angel: if you lay a hand to harm my child, or to lead her into more of your machinations again, I will destroy you so utterly that even the demons will tremble at the sound of my name. Do you understand me, Rachiel?”

The celestial being paused, before nodding in response to her charge's mother's words. Perhaps she deserved such. After all, she hadn't been innocent in the struggles of the sleeping redhead's life. She faded away, returning to her home in the plane of water, leaving Silnimare and her mother alone.

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Silnimare awoke the next evening, seeing your mother sitting across from her. It took a moment for it to register what was happening.

“Wait, how are you over there? I thought that as part of the shroud, you were bound to my person?”

Eileen smiled, before explaining, “Perhaps, if you had been less in tune with magic as you are. But as it stands, you may release me, consciously or no, to move about freely. I can still channel the abilities we have trained, as well as the ones we will be practicing tonight, but it takes a bit of an extra toll on you. Bear that in mind, my daughter. Now, let us begin. To the place of your ritual.”

Silnimare nodded, trying to process what all this would mean for her. She made her way over to the flat stone where she had summoned all of this, and could still sense her blood marking the stone.

“Now, hold out your hand, and let pure mana pour from it, to strike the stone, so that no one will be able to trace you by it.”

She did so, and a spiraling bolt of pure energy shot forth from her hand, blasting the stone, disrupting the runes and markings on the ground.

“Good, now, release your mana into the air, scar the winds with pure energy, show Chaon that you will not be ignored.”

This one was a bit trickier for her. She reached out with her senses, and felt the area around her, and imagined a thousand tiny tears in the sky, letting pure mana seep into the air. Reality began to warp around her slightly, causing the air to shimmer fifty feet in any direction from her. A stray bird started to fly near, and it's wing grazed the edge of the field of mana. Tears began to form in the flesh, and feathers wilted off, as if burned or scarred. The creature quickly left, and cawed angrily in pain at the blind woman. Silnimare chuckled at the creature's misfortune, as in her mind, it should have known better than to draw so near to a mage practicing such destructive magics.

“Focus, my daughter. Now, turn and release a barrage on the stone I struck last night. Think of it not as a massive blast, but a burst of little attacks.”

Silnimare turned around, and pointed her finger in the direction of the stone. Five balls of pure mana launched out from the tip, and after flying up for a moment, homed in and blasted the small spire jutting up, each impact taking a small chunk from the rock. Eileen clapped her hands in approval.

“Well done, my daughter. One more, and then perhaps we can talk more. Stand in place, and reach out with your connection to the shroud. Will me to reach and gather mana from your foes. Wait, first, for a passing foolish creature to draw near once more.”

She had to wait for some time before any more creatures would draw close to her, especially since it took a minute for the tears that she had created in the air to fade. She stood there, still and silent, until after a few hours, a vulture drew close, curious as to this fleshy creature was that was clearly no longer alive. Once it was about fifteen feet away from her, she reached out with her mother's spirit, and called for more mana from those around her. Her mother's ghost distorted, forming into tendrils that snaked out in every direction from her, several of them hitting the vulture. She could feel the shroud pulling mana from it, while simultaneously harming the creature. Once the tendrils retreated, she sensed the wounded creature's pain, and walked over to it. Her inhumanly strong hands grabbed its head, and crushed the skull, ending it's suffering as quickly as possible.

“While the training is important, no creature should have to endure pain without purpose, especially by the hands of a person.”

She conjured a bit of water to wash the bits of blood and bone off of her hands, the dirty water splashing against the stone as it fell. Wringing the moisture from her hands, she made her way back to the cave, and sat down in the same spot that she had previously.

“So, I assume you want me to continue where I left off, mom?”

“Only if you are comfortable doing so.”

“It's fine. I need to get it out, and tell someone. After Rachiel gave me the power to escape, I made my way home to Taras, and patched things up with dad. I set out a few months later, and started my journeys again, Rachiel encouraging me to grow stronger, and to fight those who would abuse their power, much as I had been. I didn't know it at the time, but she was grooming me to be a vessel. Apparently, at one point, back when the gods walked the earth, our ancestors used to worship her, and she was seeking a way to regain her power. Eventually, my travels took me to Striberg, where I met my best friend, Kaalia. She decided to come with me, and we came back to Taras, where she lived with me for a bit. Later, I decided it was time to do more than just wander around aimlessly, so I set out to join the Taras Guard, to make a difference. Kaalia and I were both accepted after a trial, and we rose through the ranks. I was eventually recruited to be an agent, an investigative servant of the city, and I was sent out to Suler across the sea in order to figure out was going on over there. After that bloody business was done, I came home, and wound up in a few scrapes. One of them killed me, for the second time, but at Rachiel's bidding, I kept going, keeping my body alive through sheer will. She introduced me to the plane of water, and the Leviathan that lives there. After about a week or two, I found my way back to the material plane, and resumed my post. I was quickly promoted to captain, and given a ship, once the shock of an undead guardsman wore off. Dad wasn't happy with what I was becoming, and we didn't talk for a while. Meanwhile, Rachiel set her plans into motion, erected a palace in the Bay of Taras, and took control of my body. It took all of my will, and Kaalia's help, to beat her. We have since come to an understanding, and get along much better. After that, I've been patrolling, and following orders, even managed to patch things up with dad, until I found the book on the ritual that summoned you here.”

“I will have to have some words with that angel, someday. But I always knew you were bound for great things, my daughter. Thank you for sharing with me. Now, once more, get some rest.”

Just as she had the night before, Eileen reached out, and touched Silnimare's forehead, sending her into slumber as if still one of the living, and watching over her only child as she slept.

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The third day began, and Silnimare woke from her rest, ready to continue her training. Her mother nodded, before floating back over to her, and surrounding her frame once more. They made their way back to the place on the mountain top where they had been training. Eileen hummed to herself softly, until Silnimare asked what their next exercise would be.

“First, my child, cast a spell that affects an area a short ways away from you. Then, release a wave of pure mana to disrupt it. It should cause the spell to become unstable.”

The blind woman nodded, before holding up her hands, and calling on a cloud of feathers to descend on an area about ten feet away from her. It allowed her to be acutely aware of anything that the feathers would touch. She then held out her other hand, and a wave of pure non-elemental magic rolled forward. As soon as it impacted her previous spell, it caused an explosion, about ten feet in diameter, as each of the feathers exploded in pure energy. Silnimare's red hair fluttered in the blast, and she silently mused on the potential of such an ability.

“Now, turn once more, and target the stone that we have tormented for a couple of days now. Focus your might into a tight beam, and cut the stone in half. I know you can do it, my darling daughter.”

Silnimare did so, and marveled that not only could she project the devastating narrow beam of mana, but she could sustain it, although she could sense that doing so was a strain on her charms that hovered near her body. She swept her hand up, and the beam ripped through the rock, before continuing into the sky. She closed her hand, and the beam dissipated. She pumped her fist, a simple gesture of victory. She was beginning to feel more and more at ease, not only from the presence of her mother, but also now that she had begun to get some of her past off of her chest. She turned to face her mother, who was beaming proudly.

“Well done, my daughter. I have but one more thing to teach you, but I think that we can take care of a couple of things at the same time.”

Silnimare raised her eyebrow, unsure of what her mother meant.

“You remember me mentioning your scars?”

“Well, yes.”

“You can release them, and it is simpler than you know, although I think in this case we can also connect you more deeply to mana and the ethereal.”

Silnimare's face was twisted in concern, excitement, and curiosity. “How? Please, tell me!”

“Let go. Stop animating your form. You have shown that you have the will to remain, but why must you carry around the marks of your past? Let go, and become mana. You will retain your gifts, and become similar to me. But you, my gifted daughter, will be able to retake a physical form if it pleases you. Just let go.”

Silnimare thought long and hard about what her mother was telling her to do. Was she to become a ghost? It didn't seem that way, although maybe that wasn't too far from the mark. She knelt down, and focused on her spirit, willing it slowly and deliberately from her body. After a moment of focus and meditation, she stood, not feeling any difference. She was about to say something, when she looked down, and saw that her body was semi-transparent. She turned in shock and saw her lifeless body behind her.

Wait a minute....

She could see! She reached up, and felt her ghostly face. No more scars! This was amazing, but now she was just a specter, a ghost. Eileen drew close, and placed a hand on Silnimare's shoulder.

“Now, Silnimare, simply will it, and you can take physical form once more. But as you will it, you a creature of pure spirit, unbound from mortal limitations.”

Silnimare was about to follow her instructions, before she hesitated. She turned while still ethereal, and wrapped her arms around her ghostly mother, holding her tightly, tears welling up in her eyes. Her mother returned the embrace with equal intensity, neither having felt the others touch in about a decade. Finally, they broke the hug, and began to walk away, before Eileen stopped her daughter.

“I said I had another lesson to teach you. It would not be good to leave this old vessel behind. Turn the stone around your body to pure energy, and let your old body return to the mana from whence it came.”

Silnimare turned, her ghostly frame turning physical for a moment, and she held an open hand towards her old, scarred body. She called on the pure force of creation, filling the area around her corpse with pure mana, until it erupted in a massive explosion, leaving no trace of the body, or the ritual, only a smoking crater atop the mountain. Silnimare looked on the crater for a moment, before turning and fading into the ethereal plane with her mother in tow, to later surface back near where her ship and crew were docked, a new woman.
Edited by Silnimare, Mon Oct 23, 2017 4:41 am.
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