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 Post subject: ESC: End of the Rainbow
PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2015 12:30 am 
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Rainbows
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Location: Tower of Hoeth
Half hour late... and I am sure there will be mistakes to be corrected later, but I can do no better now. If you like this, I may also add some bonuses later as time allows.

Not sure whether I should even add it to the poll when I put it up tomorrow.



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Aicanor Nenuvar stood on the balcony of her ancestral home in Saphery, looking far onto the debris filled waters of the port far below. She remembered the day not so long ago when the Sea of Dreams boiled over with tentacled monstrosities, dragging sailors and fisherfolk down to the hungry depths of once beautiful bay. Before the day was over, they found some of the demonic creatures as far as at foot of the tower on top of which she stood.
Then the harpies came. And after that...
She remembered each of the woes as well as the dents and tears in her armour, now repaired as well as time and skill allowed.

She remembered the daemons, but worse was yet to come. Three times did war wrack Saphery. Tor Irian, port and fortress guarding one of the roads to the White Tower of Hoeth still stood tall over its guarded bay. Although they claimed neutrality of the Tower, its walls were dented and the flowers, growing for so long all over the outer wall of the tower and in the gardens below were blackened and dead. The outstretched terrace from which she came to watch approach of yet another army was but a battered skeleton of what it once was. And to the north, Saphery burned. This time, there was nothing to be left where the Aestyrion passed but ashes and ruin.


"Why did you send for me, sister?” Aicanor turned to the speaker, woken from her reverie. Her older brother sailed into the harbour two days before with Sealord Aislinn’s fleet, they exchanged greetings, but he didn’t seem inclined to talk to her since, electing to stay on board of his flagship, Isha’s Grace, electing to watch the fleeing army of Malekith board the ships, ignoring her summons to take council… until now. The last ships of Aislinn’s fleet were leaving the shores of Saphery, but ebony masts of Isha’s Grace could still be seen down in the bay.

“We need to discuss our next step.” Aicanor said.

“What is there to discuss? We need to join our future king or perish. No force hidden in these walls can conquer that." The princess turned to the broken archway and watched her brother stalk angrily through it onto newly laid wooden floor so reminiscent of a deck of a ship, pondering him.

"You know I only came here because the accursed Aislinn did. I had no idea of the treachery he was planning."

Alcaran looked down at the lonely black masted warship down in the port. The Grace of Isha, Aicanor knew, was her brother's one true love.

"We need to rejoin the Phoenix King Tyrion or feel his wrath."

"No, my brother. Are you forgetting ancient oaths of our forebears? You know what is our duty and honour as well as I do. We stay loyal to the Tower."

"You throw words of ancient oaths to me? You who let the Witch King lay feet upon our land and walk unchallenged? It is not your place to command our House in times such as these. I am the eldest."

"I was the head of this House for more than two hundred years now. So that you could go and pursue your own goals far from these shores. Where were you all that time? You were informed about every decision and never questioned even one that mattered! But do what you will. Summon the Council to officially hand the power back to you." She retorted angrily, remembering all that it took to build a position at the Phoenix Court, all the slights aimed at her, too young, as they said, and a woman. All the fights fought with words in the Courts and at the Tower, or with blade on the battlefields to get what influence and status they needed to finish the task laid upon their family by great Phoenix King Bel Korhadris so many centuries ago. She had worked relentlessly to get her House the position they enjoyed so shortly. All forgotten now. All gone. All but one last allegiance, one last task...

"You do not understand, there is no time for that. We need to act!" Her brother looked at her, equally agitated.  

"I understand perfectly," she replied coolly. "That is exactly why such measures are in place."

"But there is an army of thousands not a day from here! They will not all board the ships. What makes you think you can stand up to them? The enchantments protecting the Tower of Hoeth are breached.They can not shield you this time. Why resist when we can join them against the traitors and live?"

"Because, brother, come next morning they will be dead and we'll still be here." She stood straighter, eyes glittering like ice.

Alcaran looked at her incredulously. "But," he spat. "Malekith! How could you!"
Aicanor's eyes strayed away to the right where a small company sat nestled by the wall. Lady Ailana, her cousin, was cradling a baby girl on her lap. The child was dark eyed, pale and quiet. A child of war. Her child for all that mattered. "It is not time for revenge. Not now."

"You speak of honour," Alcaran hissed, following her gaze. "But it is you who disgrace our House with a child borne out of wedlock. Tell me who is the father?"

"I can assure you her heritage is perfectly respectable." Aicanor smiled grimly. "I am afraid I cannot tell you more until you decide to join our cause." But she knew in her heart there was no chance of that. That she was losing him. She could feel the tendrils of bloody madness that was Khaine tightening his grip on her brother as she spoke. She could feel it in her heart, too, trying to find purchase. The perimeter of the Tower was no longer safe from the blood madness.
Damn Teclis for this last treason. He was no more the High Loremaster, because the position required undivided loyalty to the White Tower and Hoeth, God of Wisdom, before everything else, but his prodigious skill and knowledge of the protective wards was enough to considerably weaken the protective spells around them, leaving the Tower open for invasion, physical as well as psychical. The weave was torn and slowly fading away. She felt it, as did Finreir and other Loremasters. But there was not  enough of them left now to repair the damage. Perhaps if the enchantments held, she would have better chance at persuading her brother...
Or perhaps if she told him… But she wouldn't, couldn't reveal the secret of her daughter to anyone not completely trustworthy, not even her brother.

"Where is Tinwal?" Alcaran demanded,  breaking her thoughts. "What does he think about your actions?"

"Our brother is at Hoeth with Finreir. He agrees with me though he little likes the necessity of the action. As do I," she sighed, looking suddenly tired. “But it is the only way left to us now.”

“Is it,” Alcaran sneered. “I go to gather the Council.” And with that, he vanished inside the tower.

Aicanor run calloused hand over her eyes, tired by too many sleepless nights. It was not only her beloved Saphery she was thinking about when she decided to finish her plans. It was not only the White Tower and all the knowledge and power it hid she wanted to preserve. She was sworn to do that. But it was not an only oath she took. There was another. Was she really going to choose life of a child over fates of kingdoms? But… wasn't it how it all started all those years ago? Before the Sundering? With choosing life of a child over the fight for the fate of the kingdom? Saving a child who lived to be her forefather... over Nagarythe. A tiny spark of hope over the tides of war?

____________


“You sent for me, sire?” she remembered as clearly as if she stepped through the door of the chamber just yesterday.

“Indeed I did, Lady Aicanor,” he said and gestured her to sit at the table, cluttered in what she recognized as an assortment of scrying instruments. She sat and waited, watching him through her long lashes. He looked tired. Beyond tired, a shade of the elf she remembered from earlier days. Even the air in the chamber seemed stuffy and stale. Like a tomb, she thought. With a glance to the windows she noticed they were closed.
He followed her gaze. “I do not want us overheard.”

“We are more than a hundred yards higher than anything in the palace and the wards are strong,” she objected.

“I do not trust anyone and anything any more,” He said bitterly. She waited for him to continue and after a long, uncomfortable pause, he did.

“I know you wonder why I asked you here when not even my trusted commanders enter here often,” he said slowly as if he was thinking hard what words to choose.

“I can’t deny I was wondering, my lord.”

“The answer is simple. I want to ask a favour from you. I wish to ask for your help.”

“I am yours to command, you are my king.”

“No, my Lady Aicanor. I do not want to command in this matter, I can only ask.”

“What is your wish then, sire?”

“The plain truth is that I am cursed. Cursed by the very gods I was trying to serve. My sons are dead, as well as my daughter, or as good as. She will not return, I’ve seen it… And now my beloved is dead also, giving birth to our daughter.”
She looked up at him, startled.
No one will know it until the morning. They will learn come morning that my beloved passed away giving birth to a stillborn child.”

“I… I am sorry to hear of such loss…”

“As I said, I am cursed to see everyone I care about dead.” He didn’t show any emotion as he said it. Aicanor was not fooled, she saw the same expression often enough in survivors of raids and battles, left with nothing but ashes of their lives. “But the child is not dead. Yet. I just made sure no one knows. But she is in mortal danger as long as I live.

“Surely…”

“No, please listen. When I accepted the Phoenix Crown, I wanted to serve my people. I wanted to tread new paths, make new alliances so that we can thrive in the future. But I didn’t have the blessings of our gods, no. Everything I did was for naught. Everything I do brings only ruin. And finally I’ve seen the truth, I am a false king, I was not blessed by Asuryan, but cursed and all I do brings only ruin to those around me. But no more. Lady Aicanor, what I wanted to ask you. Will you take my girl to your home in Saphery and keep her as safe as these times allow?”

“My King...” she staggered, startled.

“Will you?”


____________


She shook her head. There was no time for memories. Things were moving, Finubar’s mad visions were coming together around her and there was no turning back. She walked to the little group waiting for her. She embraced Ailana, and kissed the little girl in her arms. “It is time. Go to the Tower. The rest of Tor Irian’s garrison will accompany you except for my own guard.”

“I can do it, you go,” protested Ailana.

“No, I have to, this is my duty. Your skills will be needed after… afterwards. Now please go. Go now!”

To Aicanor’s relief, her cousin swallowed whatever she was going to say and with a sigh turned away, following Alcaran through the ruined arch into the darkness of the tower, followed by her guards. Now Aicanor was alone, she made a slight gesture with her hand and a dark figure emerged seemingly from nowhere.

“I want them followed and protected at any cost. They have to survive.” The cloaked man simply nodded.

“And I need someone to keep an eye on my brother.”

“I will be done.”

“Thank you, Laimar.” she smiled, but the man was already gone. With a last glance towards horizon, the ruling princess of Tor Irian left the balcony as well to do what was unimaginable, but her thoughts still lingered on Lady Ailana and… her daughter.

_________________


Later, standing inside a great circle, inscribed with runes of ithilmar in a chamber hidden beneath the tower of Irian, she felt utterly alone, although she knew there were others in other places and in the Tower of Hoeth itself, doing just the same. Finreir was there, no doubt, already descending through the door she was struggling so long to find, and which took life of her old teacher Tiralya before they could open them. He knew. She understood now that the old Headmaster knew quite well there was a trap, and still he went there and the effort to undo it took his life. One of the many deaths, but it lingered…

There, in the tomb of Bel Korhadris, lay the main part of the weave. There lay the heart of great lodestone that once kept the city of Saphethion floating upon the winds of magic. And there were other places. It took great effort to cleanse and repair them and finish the work on the weave. Ithilmar wrought by spells and skilled hands was put into place around shards of fallen Saphethion, recovered over the years. Slow work her ancestors undertook to finalize what Bel Korhadris intended the White Tower to be. An arc of light and knowledge to survive the unthinkable…

With ithilmar she bargained for with the Prince of Spires she could finally uphold their part. It was finished, ready. In the madness of war, the great network of waystones in the wide perimeter of the Tower was kept intact and repaired.

Out there, Archmage Laicamir was standing in similar circle of stone. She knew for she could feel a touch of his thoughts in her mind, as well as others, joined together in this task. There was time to test how well the work was done. And do the unthinkable. If they succeeded, the Tower of Hoeth would be torn from the rock of Ulthuan forever. But she didn’t want to think about its implications now. Aestyrion were but a few hours from entering the grounds of the Tower and she couldn’t permit that. There was not only books and artifacts at stake, but lives of the many people who sought protection of the Loremasters from the ruin of war.

Aicanor took a few steps to stand by the mithril inlaid lodestone in the middle of the circle and raised her hands to join her voice to the distant echoes that were her companions. It was time.
Fluid syllables of age old words filled the still underground air. Candles flickered. And then she felt the weight press upon her. She heard a heartbeat of the land, beating slow and heavy in her ears. Yet she kept herself steady, steeling herself to fight this battle through. Again and again she invoked the power of magic to let it flow into the ithilmar and stone network, trying to reach into the Winds of Magic and transform them into the silver Wind of Qhaysh. But the winds were unsteady, ebbing and then coming with a strength of a storm. Something was happening. But there was no time to think now, there was just the struggle. She was prepared. But was she prepared enough?

Hours passed around her in a rainbow haze. Qhaysh now flowed through the weave, gaining in power as the Loremasters channeled the wild Winds into it. Groan of the earth ready to tear itself into pieces loud in her ears, she was utterly surprised when she felt a stabbing pain in her back. With a cry, she fell to her knees, still trying to hold the power in check. Her hands touched the warm, slick stone underneath. She looked up, right into maddened black eyes. Her brother stood there with a dagger in his hand, preparing to strike again. “I can’t let you do this. Traitor!” He hissed. You’ll destroy everything. Everything!”

Shocked beyond words, Aicanor could only watch as another shadowy form emerged from rainbow sheen around the circle, naked sword in hand. Alcaran must have heard him and turned, grasping for his own weapon. Too late. It was swept aside as if it was never there and in a spray of blood, her brother fell in heap at the newcomer’s feet. The warrior grabbed him and dragged the body out of the circle and as they vanished, she was alone again. The magic howled madly as she tried to stand and do … something, wrestling with the powers far greater than her own. Her vision was blackening, hands shaking as she struggled. Not out of the circle, but into its middle.If she could just reach the lodestone, all would be all right. Somehow.

Torn by the Winds, she crawled. The stone was so close, a shape in the darkness, and yet she seemed unable to reach up, to touch the glowing runes. She shook with the effort. And then hands touched hers, pressing them onto the stone, helping her focus the power. Hands glowing with light. Crowned head lowered to her own as he whispered into her ear the final words of the ritual and she repeated them. And then with a loud crack of thunder, the world stilled.
She tried to turn her head, but it was heavier than lead.

“At the very last moment.” The voice said. “The Isle of Dead has fallen. There will be no Ulthuan come morning. But as soon as I was called there by the accursed With King, I knew I was much more needed elsewhere. Rest now, child of Irian.”

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2015 1:42 am 
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Location: Tor Lupa, Saphery (or Manchester, England)
That was a wonderful read (so much so I read it three times before commenting), you should definitely put it in the vote.

And good grief, Karalael was busy during the End Times. Shame he can't join you in the White Tower.

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rdghuizing wrote:
Besides, the battle of Finuval Plain was more a minor skirmish anyway. A good enough summary would have been "Teclis and Malekith ran into each other. Teclis cast The Dwellers Below on Malekith with IF, and Malekith failed his Strength test." Not much more to it then that really.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2015 4:22 am 
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Oho!! you got it done! Very nice, and uh yes it should be put on the polls. Are you crazy?! haha :lol: My only complaint... no Adnezar! :( ... but then again he is still Druchii...... although Laimar made up for it :wink:

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2015 7:04 am 
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Now that Larose mentions it I'm a bit disappointed by that too, I really liked Adnezar, loved that whole story, even referenced it in passing in mine. Would have been great to see a him gank someone on behalf of the Sapherians. Oh well, next time! :lol:

Definitely put it in the poll, you started the comp and made it in under the wire with a great story, it should be up there!

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Makiwara wrote:
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2015 9:41 pm 
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Rainbows
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All right then, it is in the poll. You seem set to get an Adnezar story. How do we know he even lived to see the End Times? :twisted:

Karalael Moonsinger wrote:
And good grief, Karalael was busy during the End Times. Shame he can't join you in the White Tower.
It was either reading, or writing, so I din't read your story in time. And you asked me to join, so I assumed you sworn to the cause! So now we have two alternate realities, or I can remove that part from the story. Your choice! :wink:

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2015 11:12 pm 
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I meant to, but the story kinda got away from me. I think I channelled George R. R. Martin or something. Sorry.

And if my timelines are right, and you're ok with it, he could have done it from Tor Lupa in the fey days before the attack on his city. It would also vaguely fit in with "the army of thousands not a day from here", what do you think?

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rdghuizing wrote:
Besides, the battle of Finuval Plain was more a minor skirmish anyway. A good enough summary would have been "Teclis and Malekith ran into each other. Teclis cast The Dwellers Below on Malekith with IF, and Malekith failed his Strength test." Not much more to it then that really.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2015 11:01 am 
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Aicanor wrote:
All right then, it is in the poll. You seem set to get an Adnezar story. How do we know he even lived to see the End Times? :twisted:


Only the good die young, the awesome live forever.

Plus Loec told me! :lol:

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Makiwara wrote:
Smiths in Nagarythe that can repair the holiest piece of armour worn by the Shadow Prince himself... 0 apparently.


Duct tape counts!!


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2015 9:43 pm 
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Rainbows
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Makiwara wrote:
Aicanor wrote:
All right then, it is in the poll. You seem set to get an Adnezar story. How do we know he even lived to see the End Times? :twisted:
Only the good die young, the awesome live forever.

Plus Loec told me! :lol:
Well, if anyone has the luck to live to see the End Times... :lol:

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2015 9:49 pm 
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Rainbows
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Karalael Moonsinger wrote:
I meant to, but the story kinda got away from me. I think I channelled George R. R. Martin or something. Sorry.

And if my timelines are right, and you're ok with it, he could have done it from Tor Lupa in the fey days before the attack on his city. It would also vaguely fit in with "the army of thousands not a day from here", what do you think?

I changed the name from Karalael to Laicamir for now (is he even around these days?).

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2015 11:27 pm 
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Very well done! =D>


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 25, 2015 11:47 pm 
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Loremaster Avarael wrote:
Very well done! =D>
Thanks! I hope to expand the story a little now the poll is about to be closed.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 26, 2015 11:45 am 
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You should. There are a few open ends still in there I would like to read more about. So get writing... ;)

Rod

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