Helt Requiem

Wolves and Shades
Kaicoran Dawn

Wake up little shade…

I felt the morning before I saw it. I could feel a bird flitting its way through the air stirring up the wind outside. Opening my eyes, I caught a small glimpse of blue streak pass my open window and out into the open sky twittering a happy song. An energetic blue jay was greeting the rising sun.

I turned back to my room and took note of my belongings. Even in the bright morning light my room seemed to still have small pockets of shadow hiding away in corners; as if they were only biding their time until the sun would be sleeping once more. I guess it would only be natural for the shadows here to cling more tightly to their strongholds inside of the shadow guild.

The room I had been given was plain and sparse. A small bed, a writing desk with a few drawers, and a single chair were its only inhabitants other than myself and the shadows. Snaff and I had passed the first test of entry to the guild the night before and we had been promised training this morning. I gathered my things and left the small room and its shadows to find my teacher.

In the common area I found that most of the members had left to do some task as a group including the masters of the guild. Rochelle stayed behind and taught me new techniques of illusion and how to access a creature’s fears through the shade in their eyes. It seems that fear is a powerful weapon against most creatures. I have seen many creatures look at me with fear even before I could use the shades. I do not understand why. Maybe it is only Sister who can see me without my shades.

Snaff was also trained by young Basil in the arts of the rogue and she seemed to take to it naturally. Once training had finished we set out to meet the others at the blacksmith’s workshop.

Along the way I stopped at the monastery to ask about the young girl we had prevented from burning in the baker’s shop. I was told by a monk that she was being taken care of and did not seem to need the gold that the monks had given me in return for bringing her to them.

At the blacksmith’s we found the rest of the group waiting for us. Mythia had found a very interesting crown that reflected the light in fascinating ways. She had been with Sister at the temple of healing and it seemed that Sister was happy.

The doors and window to the blacksmith’s shop were shut and no sounds of metal came from inside. I convince the door to open and stepped inside to see if the blacksmith was still there. The rest of the group followed and we found her injured and with all her tools and most of her possessions taken. It seems that she had a debt that was unpaid and her debtors came to collect.

The other group called the Silver Foxes arrived and discussed how we could help the blacksmith. We needed her to equip us with weapons and armor so we could better complete the tasks ahead of us. The Foxes didn’t seem to like that I was part of our group. I saw again on them the same look that I had seen many times since entering this city. I am not welcome here.

You are welcome with us little shade…

We left the blacksmith’s shop to find a missing arcanist outside of town. After leaving town we passed through a tunnel lined with statues of kings. We found an interesting hidden room in the side of the tunnel that held many strange books and another that had metal doors without handles. Pyry also found an underwater room with coins and other interesting things but was almost lost after opening a door that released some of the water down a path with living stones. After creating light in my hand, Dastan and I were able to retrieve Pyry and return to the top without being injured by the stones.

Eventually we left the hidden rooms and continued through the tunnel to the other side. I could hear the noise of angry creatures as we came closer to the end of the tunnel and drew a knife to throw in preparation. We came upon what seemed to be a fisherman being attacked by many wolves; he was already surrounded.

Dastan reacted first by letting loose a shot from the bow he had taken from the blacksmith and from there our group became entangled in the fight. These wolves seemed sick to me. They did not act in self-preservation like an animal should but instead fought until the absolute end of their strength and only then could be silenced by death.

I frightened a few of them away using the shades; hoping perhaps they would be free of their sickness in time. Ohm, although being a gentle creature in his heart, crushed several of the wolves that ventured too close to us. In the end, they were all killed or fled except for one which was injured beyond healing but still made its way toward Sister with hate in its eyes. I quickly intercepted and cut the unfortunate creature’s throat so it could finally rest. The blood felt warm and sticky on my hands and smelled of copper; the creature’s life flowing out from the wound until it was no more.

Good…very good…

With the battle finished we talked with the fisherman who told us of the cave we were looking for and mentioned other strange things happening in forest. It seems that something is poisoning the minds of the animals here. The rage of the wolves felt similar to the rage I saw in the face of the flames in the bakery… very curious…

 The fisherman went on his way and we decided to rest for a short time before continuing on our journey to find the arcanist.

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Boys Will Be Boys
Asche's thoughts

Went to try and see Crystal but no one would tell me where she was. Saw Marisha fighting in the corner and was drawn to her. Almost had a fighting match with her but was “saved” by Lance who has dark good looks yum. He told me where to find Crystal (who goes by Crystaline). On the way, he told me about his sister who also had a flower from the patron. He no longer knows where she was and I said I would find out if I could. Her name is Mary and she is 16. We also made a deal that he would show me the way to the Solitarium in exchange for him training me or taking me out to dinner. I didn’t want to promise anything since 1) I didn’t know if I could trust him and I would need to see what Crystaline thought and 2) I didn’t want to upset the patron by going on a date with another man.

At the Solitarium where Crystal resides, Lance left pointing out a window up top that I might use to sneak in.. A Hebridonian man stepped outside with tattoos and metal covering his body. Not like, armor metal that you can take off, but metal that is poured into the bones and skin to become one with the person. I decided to talk to the man first before trying to break my way into anywhere. His metal was soooooooo cool. His name was Rictor and we became fast friends. He let me in after some chatting. It really helps to be honest with people, but I wonder how much honesty will hurt people. I just don’t like lying flat out. Anyways, I met Crystaline and she agreed to teach me and some other awesome things happened and I was blessed by a Patron. And I found out that the people that sacrificed Asura and killed Kai, Pyry and I were disciples of Fenrir and that there may be some in this city. Crystaline said they would go after the Arcadian monk Kane and his brethren first so I sent a message to them letting them know. I was given a cloth of shrouding and a discerning ring. The ring will let me know what is about. Black for the disciples, red for demons, orange for devils, white for celestials, and silver for record keepers.

As I was writing a letter to Kane there was a commotion outside. I had been followed by twisted dogs shaped creatures that made the ring turn orange. Rictor and Crystaline left on a mission and I was instructed to train with Lance in the meantime. I went to find Lance and his friend Laina to let them know about being trained. Lance tried to apologize for something by saying he really hoped I didn’t think anything by his flirting (which really kind of hurt). It reminded me of my younger days when the boys would follow after Pyry and they would only turn to me as an afterthought. So of course, I said I wasn’t enamored with him and then he turned all silent and dark. I don’t understand boys. No matter how much I try to understand them, I don’t think I will ever understand them. I was given a room at the school/monastery and ate in my room alone. Although it was a small, simple room, it felt like home. Sadly, it costs 1 gold a night. I really need a lover now. Or a job…. I’m worried about that. That night, I think I was visited by the patron… but I’m not sure. I felt like I was given a choice between an open mind, more femininity, or more strength and in my state of just coming from the temple of Philip, I chose strength. Strangely, I felt disappointed in my choice. Well, not me but me. And so I got angry with myself. Again, why would I need more femininity? Why was I again reliving my frustrations from my youth? Why was I not feminine enough for men? And with that, the feeling of the patron left me alone with no gift. Despite that, even with how strange it was, I slept very well.

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A letter home

My dear sister, Kayla

I'm hoping that this will get to you quickly and that you will not worry about me. I am well. I have taken another job, or you could say, have had another job thrust upon me. It's not the first time, and hopefully won't be the last. Sadly though, I was required to cross the waters again. I know that you worry about me being so far away, and as always, I worry too, but this is something that I need to do. The reward alone is worth it. Besides, it is just a simple retrieve job, it will be over quickly and then I will come back home.

My companions seem like a good lot and while we are still getting to know each other, I'm sure they will have my back as I have theirs. You would be surprised to hear that I am actually working with a half giant. He is very different from the ones I have previously encountered, very gentle and caring for a big brute. I hope there are more like him about. We also have a bird in our midst, but not like us. You were always better in history than I was, so you could probably figure something out. Then we have an alaryan, a fish, a Syvryan, and a fey? I think they are called and even a goblin. So a very diverse bunch.

Kayla, I'm sorry for teasing you when we were kits. I'm sorry for my stubbornness. I'm sorry for not being there for you always. I'm sorry for so much. Don't blame yourself for what I became. I will return as quickly as I am able to.

Tell the Kits down the hill that I will bring them something back if they behave and mind their studies. Leoned especially. Could you also tell old lady Taila that when I return I would like to work in the mill for the season. Bet that was something you never thought I would ask. Me, working in a mill? It would be a nice change of pace, and I would be able to assist you at the hall while in my off hours.

Know that everything I do, I do for you and that I love you so much and miss you always. Stay strong and as always, pray for me.

Your little brother,

Weslyn

 

Here is some gold that I earned on a side job, it should give you another few months until I get home. And don't worry, I'm making sure to keep some so I don't go hungry. I don't want another scolding like last time. Again, love ya Kayla

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Arrival in Sanctuary
Kaicoran Dawn, Asuratea Dawn

It was good to rest for a moment after defeating the large ogre. The sun felt warm on my skin and made me feel glad to have escaped the enclosed darkness of the mountain. Being in a forest that was alive felt like home again. Perhaps we would make this our new home?  You did always prefer the outdoors.

The black winged creature awoke after the white winged woman I think she said her name was Mythia healed the wound to his head. He seemed confused and did not speak. I asked what he called himself but he only stared back blankly in return. He must have been hit in the head very hard.

We introduced ourselves to the confused creature and he seemed to understand that we were giving him names to call us by and answered us that his name was Dastan. Sister seemed to look at him strangely. I DID NOT

Kane seemed bothered by something as he meditated and I reached for my bent knife instinctively. Sister recognized the presence as a small fairy and I relaxed a little; sadly, we had already scared it away.  It was just saying hello.

In the distance, we saw a gigantic figure moving through the forest with its head above the trees. It was a giant at least three times as large as Ohm moving away from us towards the city. Ohm said that it was leaving a quarry and wouldn't hurt anyone. The city we were just outside of was apparently Ohm and Snaff’s home. How strange to die and come back home like nothing had happened…  yeah.

Before leaving the clearing Kane and Asche found another Sivryan resting in the sun. This one though was unlike any I had seen in Sivrya before with a squirrel’s ears and tail.  Her tail was so fluffy and cute! She seemed nervous at Asche’s cat-like nature and after moment ran off toward the city.  Poor thing.  I would be worried too in a place like this.  I wonder if she has been through the same things we have.  Would we trust something that looked like a predator?  Like that Giant?

We all followed her to the city and were met by the large guard who asked us about a cart leaving the city with stolen things. He seemed unsurprised at our appearance and at our story of having died and traveling through the mountain.  I honestly don't think he was paying much attention.  He was kind of impatient, and who just accepts that kind of story!? After telling us the rules of entry to the city, which I may not have fully paid attention to, Pretty sure he said no stealing.  Pretty sure you heard that part and ignored it.  we entered and followed Ohm to his home since none of us had any money for the inns.

On the way to Ohm’s house we passed the library which had been destroyed by the moving of the earth. Ohm’s death must have been very painful.  A golden eyed man dressed in an amazing thick black coat stopped us and asked Ohm many questions; after which he gave us a curious coin made of glass which he said would provide for our needs in the city for a while. The man also told Ohm that his home had been taken after the destruction of the library and that he would also need to find another place to stay so Ohm came with us to go an inn that the squirrel had told us to stay at before she ran away.

On the way to the inn a creature of earth rose out of the ground and seemed to be angry with us. Ohm then spoke very strongly and the creature seemed to obey him. Very curious…

At the inn, we were received and given rooms thanks to the glass coin. We bathed and were clothed by the keepers on the inn and then we slept. The next morning, we gathered together to decide on a name for our group since the innkeeper said that it would be important somehow. We were told of another adventurer that stay at the inn who might be willing to help us so I went to find him and bring him back to the group. After looking in several rooms, I found another Sivryan cat sharpening a sword who appeared to be the most adventure like person I had seen so I brought him back to the group.

We spent some time trying to come up with a name but were unable to decide on anything. Ohm suggested that we were all determined and Sister thought that something to do with light would speak well of the group. Eventually we decided on The Determined or Light Determined, Aralondil, until we felt something else was more fitting so we could move downstairs to discover what our first task was to be.

The innkeeper told us that we would need to prove ourselves to discover the tasks and that we would also need money to buy equipment. It seems the people here do not like being very straightforward in what it is we are supposed to do.  I don't know.  She was awful casual.  It seems like she has several assumptions that I don't think fit.

We found a blacksmith that could make the things we would need and she gave us the price for the equipment; it would take us some time to gather together that much gold.

There were jobs posted outside of the inn where we had slept that paid various amounts of gold so our group decided to split up so we could perform several jobs in less time. I went with Asche, Dastan, the white winged woman whose name was Mythia, and Sister to investigate what was described as cursed bread at a bakery of a man named Pike.

When we reached the bakery it was on fire and surround by people trying to extinguish it. They seemed to be unconcerned about the possibility of people burning inside. Mythia saw that there was in fact something still alive inside of the flames so I thought it would be best to prevent it from burning as well. Burning is a very painful way to die.  I am not going to talk about how frustrating your risk-taking is.

Asche asked one of the elementalists to cover me in a suit of swirling water to protect me from the fire which she did so after some convincing. Mythia then dropped me into the building through a hole burnt through the roof and onto the second floor where I was just able to grab a girl before she fell into the hotter lower half of the enflamed house. Dastan tried to go too, but I …stopped him.  Before jumping out of the window with the girl I thought I saw a face in the flames writhing and full of rage and pain. I felt sad for the fire, it didn’t seem to know that it was burning this girl, but the water was growing thin around my skin and steamed off rapidly so I exited the burning home just in time to be caught by winged Mythia and be let safely to the ground with the girl.

I was greeting by Sister with a cool bucket of water which felt somewhat refreshing after the heat of the flames. We learned from the girl that her name was Malea and that her parents had been consumed by the fire before we were able to reach her. We accompanied her to the monastery and the monks there took her in. It seemed like she would be taken care of there.

After leaving Malea with the monks we returned to the inn and met with the rest of the group who had delivered a letter to a giant near the quarry. They had also met another golden-eyes that did not seem to be a part of the rest of golden eyed men that enforced the laws in the city. He met us at the inn and took us up to our room to talk in private but before we could talk another pair of gold-eyes knocked on the door and summoned us to meet the Patron of the city. They didn’t seem to notice the other gold-eyes with us in the room.  You are really confusing people.  What is your obsession with eyes?

They took us to large tower that was covered in gemstones and inlayed with gold that reflected the light in fascinating ways. We were taken up to the Patron in a curious mechanism that lifted us up through the air until we reach the door to the hall where he stayed. He felt like a very powerful creature and looked at Sister in a way that made me unsettled.  It felt like he was staring through me.  It scared me a little. Not predatory, just… so calculating. He also seemed to take a liking to Asche.

He told us that he could offer us protection should we fail Death’s task and that he would reward us significantly if we were to bring the item that Death wanted to him first rather than to Death. After he finished speaking to us we excused us all except for Asche who he wished to speak in private with. Pyry was not willing to leave at first but eventually came down the mechanism with the rest of us to wait for Asche.

She returned after some time and was unharmed from what we could see. We returned to the inn and met with the other gold-eyes who told us his name was Kael. He explained that he was sent from Death to give us some instruction and aid and then finally he gave us the clearest instructions we had received yet on what it was we were supposed to do and where to start looking for this item.

He also told us of places and masters that we could learn from to become more skilled and better able to complete the tasks ahead. After he left we decided to see about the equipment that we had ordered from the blacksmith Jordanna.  She is nice. then split up again to seek out these masters and meet again the next day.  

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An Unsure Awakening
-Dastan Kiari

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Dastan was suddenly shaken awake. He felt as if a he had been hit in the back of the head. Hard. Wait… He had been hit in the back of the head hard, and his little finger lobbed off. Dastan tried to open his eyes and orient himself, to no avail. He could feel the closeness of a few people. He didn’t like having everyone above him. After the events of the day prior, Dastan exiting the room with the man he made a deal with… what happened?

Was it fatigue? Perhaps unconsciousness finally took him, and Dastan was just too focused to notice. Regardless of the cause of his slumber, he began to feel the tingle of his pinkie again; the throbbing of his head started to dull. As his eyes opened the first time, he saw a rather strange and diversified group. The winged human was muttering things under her breath that Dastan couldn’t understand. Whatever the Alaryan was doing, it was helping. Dastan slowly yawned as he felt the waves of healing pass over him.

With a shock of embarrassment, Dastan quickly looked himself over as best he could. He was wearing a black outfit, fitted and layered. Black slacks, with matching shirt, vest, and cloak covered him from head to toe. A small sigh escaped his lips as he was glad to avoid such an experience. It was about this time when he noticed that the group around him wasn’t so lucky. Many of them were missing articles of clothing. Dastan decided that it was best to divvy out some of the clothes he had to the party's needed members.

Dastan became suddenly very confused, as he noticed that he couldn’t understand any of the conversations that were happening between the now newly covered persons. It seemed everyone around him spoke in some foreign tongue. In fact, it didn’t seem that way, that was exactly the case. As he mulled over the possibility of communication he noticed that one of the new faces was staring intently at him. What did he want? The dark fairy, didn’t he know it was rude to stare? Just speak! Speak! What do you want!? Dastan’s impatience grew almost as fast as his confusion. The silence was suddenly broken by more gibberish.

Was this another test? It must be, I mean, why else would they speak this way? It was a puzzle! If Dastan could find out the words of the riddle, he would be able to pass the test. Dastan smiled as the dark fairy began pointing to different objects and gibbering. Dastan was skeptical of the possible meanings behind his gestures. He kept repeating, Kai, Kai, Kai, Kai, as he pointed to himself. Hm… Dastan thought. This must be the first clue to the test. Dastan felt it necessary to proclaim his name to his newfound helpers, elsewise they would never know who was going to pass the test. With a more unsure and fragile breath than he expected, Dastan spoke his name, which was repeated by the group before him multiple times. Dastan, Dastan, Dastan. Dastan began to chime in too. As the dark fairy pointed more, he began speaking other sounds. Ash, Asu, Ra, Mith, Ia, Kane, Kai. Dastan felt it important to repeat the words, and commit them to memory. A few them appeared to Dastan to be grouped somehow. Ash, Asura, Mithia, Kane, and Kai. Dastan thought it a good idea to consider them friends, after all they did heal him. So, when his new friends began to leave the area, gesturing for him to follow along, Dastan stood up ready to take on this new test head on. This was going to be easy!

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Second Session Review
SUMMARY

3rd Day of Juvius 

Upon scaring off a fairy and meeting a friendly Squirrel Sivryan named Vora, Our heroes continued on to Sanctuary.  The Raven awoke and the heroes discovered he couldn't speak common, meaning that Mithia and Ohm were the only ones who could communicate.  He disclosed that his name was Dastan, and that he was also on the Trial.  He agreed to join us, and became the subject of interest for Asura.  

Vora introduced them to the Sleeping Dragon Inn, and promised to return the next day.  Ohm led the group to his home in the Stone District and inspected the collapsed Library.  Ohm discovered that his home was tied to the investigation somehow, and was now the property of the Patron as he had been reported dead in the collapse.  A Goldeye informed the still underdressed party that the collapse of the Library may not have been an accident.  A Rock Elemental rose out of the earth and would have attacked if not for the unnaturally calming words of Ohm.  Instead the primordial calmed itself and was content to follow us for a time.  

A man named Luc at the Inn helped situate the heroes with clothes and a room (or a few) and a meal, courtesy of Brinna the barkeep.  The first real rest since Death was a good one, and refreshed, the party figured they would find out what to do next.  Kai discovered another adventurer already at the Inn also on the quest, and invited him to join the group.  Now that the group was 10 people strong, Brinna insisted that they pick a name.  Eventually they settled on Aralondil or The Determined Light as a tentative name, though at the time the Raven had no idea what was going on.  

The heroes rang up quite a tab in the Metal District with a kindly blacksmith girl named Jordanna, who seemed to be charging high prices for all of her commissions.   While she started on the orders the heroes started looking for work that they could accomplish easily to help pay for the weapons and armor.

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On Top of the World
Mythia Cross

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HoUxxQIUV7o

It’s a good day to be resurrected! So much has happened, and I’m so excited, and I can’t wait to get started! We got out of those wretched caves and into the sunlight, and found we were in the forest nearby Ohm’s hometown. I think he said it was called Sanctuary.

We made it into the city alright, and went to Ohm’s home, but unfortunately it seemed like it got sold away or something because, of course, he died, and that’s what happens when people die without leaving a will. I felt sorry for the poor little giant. But we got some favors from a golden-eye, I think he was called. I think the golden-eyes must be some kind of spies or police that watch the city—I really don’t know, but isn’t it fascinating to learn about so many things and peoples and places you never thought existed before?

I’m sorry, I’m getting off track again. Anyway, the golden-eye gave us a money voucher, then left. On our way to the Sleeping Dragon (the inn we were recommended to by a local named Vora) we were nearly attacked by an elemental, but Ohm calmed it down before it could do any harm. Now it’s following us around. I think we should call it Rockie.

Someone at the inn named Luc helped us and finally, I got some decent clothes. I spent entirely too long picking them out, but I didn’t care if the others got upset waiting. I can’t go out looking like a slump, now can I? I’d rather be naked, honestly. Not that I was walking around naked all this time—that cute raven-wing man, Dastan, he gave me his cloak, and I’ve been wrapped up in it all day, but when I found something worth wearing I gave it back because I figured it was only polite.

Anyway, we used the voucher to pay for our stay at the inn, and we all slept. We woke up the next morning and spent a good while coming up with a decent name for our troupe. I like “The Walking Dead”, myself—and why not? Technically, we are undead, aren’t we? We might as well make light of the situation. Snaf recommended we call ourselves “Dockswamp”—or was it “Dampsock”? Either way, it’s an acronym of all our names, and it means “freaking awesome” in Goblin, apparently. If more people in this town spoke Goblin, I might have gone for it. But the images it brings up to native Common-speakers isn’t the most pleasant or valiant.

In the end, we settled on “Aralondil”, or “The Determined Light”, or just “The Determined”. Not bad, huh?

After that we headed for the blacksmith. Each of us went around and asked for whatever gear we needed, and Jordana (the blacksmith) opened a tab for us. I ordered Alaryan armor and a Telanh—I can’t wait til they’re done! I’ll have the most beautiful, elegant Alaryan armor in all of Sanctuary, I just know it.  

Poor little Ohm was so guilty about the cost of his armor. Giant armor requires so many materials, you understand, so it was very expensive to order. But I tried to comfort him and reassure him that he was just as important as the rest of us and needed armor just as badly. I have a soft spot for that giant. He’s so good. I can sense it in him.  

However, the cost of all the armor left our troupe in debt—approximately 60 gold each to pay it back. Doesn’t matter at all to me. It’s worth it to be well-outfitted in the finest armor available. All we have to do is spend a little time working and the debt will be paid in no time. Already we found some jobs on the board in the inn, and we’ll get them done lickety-split!

I made the suggestion to split up in two groups to get the small tasks done, and then to come together for the big task of fighting the witch, and everyone seemed pleased enough with my plan, and they agreed!

Can you believe it? Me, helping to make decisions for the group? I never expected them to take me seriously. There were always other people around to take care of the important things, like my parents or my brothers. No one at home ever took me so seriously, except for maybe my mentor, Aeria Allium. But other than that, I can’t really remember ever being given responsibility like this. Now that I’m dead, I have some respect. Power. Feels good. I like it. Muahahahahaha! Tell me, Aurelian, Mercanis, Ferrous, who’s responsible now? 

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Oblivion
Mythia Cross

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeSi76ADGLw

Nothing seemed real. Nothing at all. I watched from the skies as more rebels and heretics swarmed the temple, preparing for some dark ritual—I hoped I was wrong, but it looked like they were going to sacrifice all those people. I could see the troops of the city guards and local militia closing in on the temple. I wanted to help—I had to warn them—

I heard a cry from below me, and looked down. I had only been gone a few moments to survey the land from the air, but already the demons were here.

They were swarming all around Kane. He fought, but I knew he would lose without help. I was the only one who could save him. It didn’t matter to me that he was little more than a stranger. I knew he was a good man, and I believed if it were me down there, he would save me. His life was in my hands. I didn’t think—I just dived. I spiraled down through the air as I had done a million times before, and reached my arms down to sweep him out of their clutches.

He reached up to me. A moment before my hand grasped his, he let out a cry, and he was sucked down out of my view, demons blocking the only hope I had of reaching him. Suddenly, a great pain erupted in my chest and in my right wing. Blood spattered my feathers and sprayed through the air. I careened toward the stone-paved street. My body struck it with a great smack.

Then, as if I had been startled awake from a nightmare, I was gasping in the darkness.

I stood. I was not alone—there were other shapes in the dark, of other races, other peoples. I shivered and put my arms around my body. I was so cold… and so confused. Why was I naked? Where was I? I looked toward the only source of light. It was shining from a tall gate; a group of people were gathering around it. I felt drawn toward the light, captivated by it and by the man slowly walking toward us from out of its cold blue depths.

I maneuvered my way closer, standing between humans and fey and other creatures I had never before encountered. The man in the light began to speak. I looked at his face, at his frigid blue eyes which stared back at us without feeling.

He was Death.

My spine shivered and my feathers and hairs all raised up in fear. I… I died?

No. This… This couldn’t be right… I couldn’t…

I couldn’t have died. I was Mythia Cross! I couldn’t have died. I was only twenty years old. I was only trying to save Kane. I was only trying to save my city—my temple—my friends—my family. Teonas, my mother, how could this have happened?

Tears rushed up to my eyes and I hugged myself tighter. I thought of all the things I had left behind. All the things I had wanted in the future. My life had barely begun. What now?

That’s when Death offered us a deal. If we fetched an item for him… if we went through the trial of the requiem… he would grant us back our lives. If we failed, we would be taken into the underworld. If we refused, we would be taken into the underworld. No one before us had been able to succeed. But Death had faith that we could.

If there was any chance I could be home again, any chance I could save my city and my temple and my family from the demons, then I would take it. What else did I have to lose? I had already lost my life.

I looked into Death’s eyes again, and when he asked me if I was willing to undergo the requiem, I said unflinchingly, “Yes.”

The others around me also accepted Death’s offer unanimously.

Then in a blink, just as it had happened when I died, I was again startled awake in a completely different place. Dark saltwater flowed all around, closing me in like a grave. Cold blue light filtered in above me, shining from the sun. I reached up, struggling for the sunlight and the air. My head and arms and wings breached the surface of the water and I inhaled sharply, water streaming from my sinuses. I wiped my face and eyes to see, bobbing along with the movement of the waves. A coastline was dead ahead.

All around me, other heads started popping up, too, and we all flailed closer to shore. Finally, when the water was shallow enough, and my feet could touch the sandy bottom of the beach, I stretched out my wings and glided the rest of the way to the beach.

The rest of them washed ashore around me. All of us were still naked, but I found that I didn’t particularly care. I wasn’t embarrassed. I had no reason to be. My body was beautiful; I had nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to hide. Besides, the sunlight and the breeze on my skin was most refreshing.

For the first time, I got a good look at my companions. There were races I had never seen before. Two fey, and a half-giant with a goblin on his shoulder, and a woman that looked like a fish, and a woman that looked like a cat, and—Kane! Oh, praise Teonas! I felt my heart leap with happiness. I could hardly believe he was still alive—well—not alive, I guess that’s the wrong word, but I could hardly believe that he was here, wherever here was, and that we both had a chance to redeem ourselves!

Our little band exchanged names, and hatched a plan to explore our new island for shelter and clothing and food.

I flew out up into the sky, soaring past the cliff that blocked the beach from the main land, and began to survey the ground below. It looked like it was covered in heavy forest, completely uninhabited. Far beyond in the distance, there was a great, towering mountain with clouds ripping across its top. I made that my landmark, and headed for it.

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Dead Air

Many creatures have felt the twinge of pain. The sharp, piercing, near-overwhelming sensation that fills you for just a second. Stubbing a toe. Having a feather ripped out. Falling from just a bit too high up. Not many creatures get to tell the story of the pain of their deaths. Many fantasize it is just a quick, silent moment of exquisite pain; over in a blink of an eye. Not many know the truth.

As the darkness, the ever-present and ever-growing nothingness around Dastan surrounded him, it became quite clear the pain he was in. You would have heard his screams if not for his inability to do so. Pulverized bones and flattened muscles are enough to bring even a battle-hardened Raven to tears, or would… if he could. It seemed like ages past, and at the same time as if time stood still. It is difficult to explain the sensation running through Dastan's mind more than just pain and confusion. Whether it was just a moment or eons, Dastan knew that his bones were reformed, his muscles filled in his body.  Dastan was standing on nothing, yet not falling. Casting his eyes around, he saw he wasn't alone. Spirits filled the dead air. All of them seemed as unsure as he did. They looked intently forward. A mesmerizing voice shot through the air. It filled every crevice of Dastan's frame. A slow turn to look at this voice. In his heart he knew what he was going to see, even if he knew nothing of what it looked like. He shivered. If you have ever heard a foreign sound in your home and turn to look expecting to see something there and wishing not to, you know this shiver. Now, imagine that when you looked, you stood face to face with Death.

Dastan couldn't move. The host of spirits cowered slightly at his penetrating voice. Dastan seemed unable to focus, unable to grasp what had happened.

"There are some of you," Death whispered with such a profoundness. "There are some of you, who have a choice. To move on, see what the next life has in store for you, reap what you sow… or, to resolve unfinished destinies by taking the test of Requiem."

With a quick motion Dastan spoke out declaring, "I will take the test. I must return." Death seemed rather skeptical of Dastan's abrupt disclosure of his choice. "This is not a test that will favor the weak young Raven." Death's words were penetrating and subtle but nothing inhibited Dastan's resolve. "If you go, you must bring back to me an object of high importance."

"I must go!" Dastan's words were met by the outstretched hand of Death. A deal to be made, in order to go back. It was Dastan's turn to be skeptical. Eyeing Death, he took his hand and grasped firmly.

And with the slightest motion from Death, a door opened. And without hesitation, Dastan was through it.

Dastan awoke in what felt like water. His body was heavy as if sand had been poured into every open nook. The pain again was back. It filled every gritty crease and pore of skin. As time passed, Dastan was able to compose himself. He crawled out of the water and heaved himself onto a sandy beachfront. Wind passed over him, chilling in his current circumstances. Death leaves not a single worm for the birds. An open cave stood before the dismal body trying to stand in the sandbank. A light of hope for Dastan. He was practically raised in caves, and knew their terrain well. He hobbled over to the mouth of the cave, searching for help. A tent stood at the entrance, a small fire flicking in the wind. Dastan was approached by a man within the tent. Words were traded and the man saw fit to grant Dastan a bit of meat. A crazy and unhelpful old man in Dastan's eyes.

Some time passed as Dastan searched the inner workings of the caverns. A small tunnel lead to a pitch black room. Dastan had traversed many a cave in complete dark, but this seemed impenetrable, as if having a light wouldn't have helped. As he circled the walls, a small but quick metal slicing sound came from the darkness. Traps or perhaps he wasn't alone; Dastan didn't mind either notion very much. He came to a door with no proper handle. In its place was a dial, with 4 holes. Several attempts to open the door came to no avail. Each failure only worsened the impatience boiling up in Dastan. In a swift movement, he stuck his pinkie finger in the hole and spun it all the way around, and with a quick unsheathing and a swift slice. His finger fell to the floor. Dastan cried out in pain, and felt a small jab on his head from something behind him. Now was not the time to get stuck, nor to be stopped by this door. Dastan spun the dial the opposite direction and the door swung open. Quickly grabbing his dislodged finger, Dastan stepped inside and the door slammed hard against the cave formation, with him bodily against the wood.

Only one way to go, forward. Dastan was in too much pain from his hand and head to notice much about these next rooms. It was as if he handed the reigns over and the body knew what to do instinctively. More traps and more perils yet nothing hindered his progression through them. He eventually found two torches fastened tightly to the wall. He took the opportunity to cauterize his finger back on. Not the best medical work, but it was satisfactory for the raven.

Dastan was getting close to the end room, he could feel it. He took a step into a very open room. A sort of man slept pedestalled in the center, with an ogre cage nearby snoring away. The man awoke as soon as Dastan entered. Some annoying speech of how he always lies, three levers control awful fates that can befall you, but one will open the next door and lead to freedom. Nonsense and confusion rang in Dastan's ears, but he went to the levers. Dastan didn't really care for the dangers except one. The Ogre. Still slothfully asleep, that seemed the least dangerous of them all, and it would at least buy time. "Which would release the Ogre?" Dastan slyly spoke. "The far left." 

Now Dastan had to evaluate the man. Was he one to lie? Or was he one to get things over quickly? So many questions, the blabbering of this man, the room itself only aided to confuse Dastan further. "The far right one is the lever for the ogre, the left is for the spikes."

Which is which!? Dastan was getting impatient again, and he wasn't going to die now. The last time he just went for it, he lost a finger. "How about you strike up a deal with me?" The man asked pridefully.

Great… another deal. Dastan barely listened to the particularities but joined the man at the center and shook his hand. "The center lever is the one to freedom." Without a second thought, Dastan left and pulled the lever. Freedom smelled sweet, the wind from the room beyond was refreshing to Dastan. Without even a look back, he passed into the next room and took a nice deep breath. If Dastan could finish this test, how hard would a test of Death be? How difficult could this test of Requiem prove?

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Ogres with Sticks up their butts

Lets just say today has not gone according to plan. It started out well enough. I did my morning ritual while Pyry and Asura trained in their magics and then Pyry and I went off to do our normal things, she to explore and I to train in my weaponry. When we came back…. Well, I'm sure Pyry filled you in on that already. It was awful. Pure evil… so much death and so much against my very being. And I, I could do nothing to stop that man from killing Asura, Kai, and Pyry. Even when it came down to defending myself, I couldn't bring myself to harm another living thing. I guess that is the first lesson I learned from today. Sometimes harm of one creature is needed for life to continue.

Lesson two is that Kai still doesn't know social cues. I woke up surrounded by others while I was naked which wasn't really a big deal since everyone was naked. The problem was that as time passed our death scars healed and Kai went around ogling all the women. I guess there are still some things we need to focus on in his "cultural" education.

And the third thing I learned was all about how to kill an ogre. I hear near death experiences change people. Protris always said that when we trained and then he would follow it up with "Never Change" in his stoic voice. Believe me, actually dying was never on my list of "to do's" for the day. But with the realization that sometimes harm of one creature is needed for life to continue, killing the ogre wasn't a terribly hard choice to make. Basically after we got through those caves the last room had an ogre. Kai and others that I guess we are stuck with now since we're on the same quest started to flank and attack the creature but nothing was working. Even the spear we were given by the "guardians" of the caves was not piercing. It was taking entirely too long and they needed help… so I grabbed the spear, saw and opening and struck. Literally, I saw an opening… the ogres butt hole. Then I repeatedly pounded it in with my pillars. I cannot even imagine the internal damage that occurred. I should have looked for a different way to put the poor creature out of his pain, but we made it through. I really need to cleanse myself after that. There's a lot of chaotic energy around me right now.

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