Before the Master Ravenwood Tree.
Brennan Stormcrow paces here, his cadaverous body twitching with sudden jerks. An animated skeleton stands here with a ghostly outline of a bat around its skull. An animated skeleton stands here with a ghostly outline of a spider around its skull. An animated skeleton stands here with a ghostly outline of a beetle around its skull. An animated skeleton stands here with a ghostly outline of a wasp around its skull. The Master Ravenwood Tree towers over everything here, pulsing with an immeasurable yet dark power. There are 16 dark nighthags here. Casting darkness all around, a shadow totem thrusts up from the ground, chilling the air. There are 4 black direwolves here. In the shape of an open palm, a metallic sigil lies here. There are 5 illithoid scourges here. A blackthorn sapling clings tenaciously to the ground here. A crudely crafted shrine of harsh black crystal stands here, thrumming powerfully. A pile of raw lumber lies here in a heap. There are 3 diamond snowflake pipes here. A diminutive feline crouches here, wreathed in shadow. Silent Sage Tacita An'Ryshe is here, sprawled on the ground. She wields an ethereal shadowfire viola in her left hand and a glowing powerstone in her right.
You see a single exit leading north.
You smile softly at Tacita.
Tacita looks up at you curiously.
Silent Sage Tacita An'Ryshe says, "Hello, little one."
You have emoted: Kio d'Illici of the Murder nods to Tacita, his eyes troubled.
His voice soft, as though in danger of scaring away a skittish animal, you say to Tacita, "Tacita... are- are you busy?"
Silent Sage Tacita An'Ryshe sits up a little straighter, her movements slow and careful. "I am not," she says, cocking her head at an awkward-looking angle. "Is something amiss?"
You have emoted: Kio furrows his brow softly in thought, or perhaps confusion.
Brow furrowed, you say to Tacita, "I- I am not sure."
Silent Sage Tacita An'Ryshe loops one arm around a low branch of the Ravenwood and pulls herself slowly to her feet. At length she comes to stand before you, though she still holds the branch for support.
You have emoted: Kio huffs slightly, trying to compose his thoughts. His voice is strangled by a haze of stressed confusion. "There's.. I- the forest, Tacita. It speaks. It- I- something. I've seen you, and I've seen me. I... I don't know why. Nature wants to speak to you."
Tacita ponders the situation.
Silent Sage Tacita An'Ryshe says, "It is a very long time since I communed with Nature on such a level."
Tacita begins to follow you.
You have emoted: Kio d'Illici of the Murder nods softly to Tacita. "Th-thank you, dear Tacita. It- I- I do not know what else to do."
Silent Sage Tacita An'Ryshe says to you, "It is quite alright, little one. I will move a little slowly, but do not mind that."
You have emoted: Kio tilts his head curiously, though confusion still dances across his eyes. "Are- are you all right?"
Nodding her head slightly, Silent Sage Tacita An'Ryshe says, "Yes, yes. It is nothing to worry about. I am only a little tired."
You have emoted: Kio takes a deep breath before nodding to you. A soft resolution takes hold over his features.
You close the walnut door to the up.
A ritual circle within barren wyrd.
Somehow the exit above you has melted into the sky, leaving your feet upon wyrden ground. A sickening mauve light breaks through a twisted stretch of forest. The trees have been removed here, leaving a perfect circle of ground untouched by life. Its forested edges cut off by thick tangles of thorny vines, the ground has been dug into. Three thin concentric channels have been dug into the ground, the innermost a radius of ten feet, the middle twelve, and the outer fifteen. Strangely carrying hints of lilac, a soft breeze dances through the air. A diminutive feline crouches here, wreathed in shadow. Silent Sage Tacita An'Ryshe stands here amidst a cloud of deathly cold mist. She wields an ethereal shadowfire viola in her left hand and a glowing powerstone in her right.
You see a single exit leading up (closed door).
Silent Sage Tacita An'Ryshe takes slow, careful steps to the edge of the circle. Tilting her head in thought, she examines the ground curiously.
Shuffling about nervously, you say, "Pl-please don't mind, Tacita." He watches you solemnly as he hastily steps into the middle of the centre circle. "I... I can't wait. I need it to stop. I need to stop seeing these things."
Tacita gently reaches over and takes both of your hands in her own.
Softly, Silent Sage Tacita An'Ryshe says, "It's alright, little one. Just tell me what you need me to do."
You have emoted: Kio blinks harshly, pulling his paws to him as though burnt by a hot stove. "I do... not know. I don't know." He takes slow, purposeful breath to calm himself before meeting your gaze once more.
You have emoted: Kio delicately gathers a bit of freshly whittled branches, purposefully placing them in the center of the three concentric grooves carved into the ground. Piece by piece, he leans them against each other to build a small pyramid. With a careful strike of his tinderbox, he lights the fire.
You carefully break apart the wood into a collection of smaller pieces, neatly piling them into a pyramid on the ground. Chanting reverentially, you light the tinder and watch as a ceremonial fire crackles into life.
Nodding softly, you say, "Stand before the fire."
Silent Sage Tacita An'Ryshe steps into her appointed position. She sways slightly on the spot as she stands, and inhales slowly to steady herself. One settled, she gives a single nod.
You nod your head emphatically.
You have emoted: Kio spares no time moving forward, sanctifying the fire first with salt, then with sulfur. With each pass of the fire, his movements become more graceful - no, that's not quite right. Perhaps they've become more fluid: somehow more natural. His paws seem to blend into the gentle breeze, his body melting into very air. As though the boundaries of his very existence begin to bleed into the atmosphere, he removes his robe.
You remove a set of silver-trimmed viridescent robes.
You have emoted: Kio's chest bears a strangely unhealed wound. A hole seems to have been bored into its center, the fur and flesh stripped away. How it does not pour blood can only be explained by some form of healing magic. Within the next instant, you notice Kio has sat down before the fire, his legs crossed and his paws resting atop his knees. You're left wondering when his movements began... or ended, for the matter.
You have emoted: Kio's breathing slows to a halt, his eyes closed. The fire flickers on, bending the fibres of the aether around its edges as it invites your most recessed memories to linger about its flame. Settling into his trance, Kio seems to rustle a bit. His movements are slow, yet blurred about the edges. His right paw drifts through the air and comes to rest at his chest, hovering above his wound.
Silent Sage Tacita An'Ryshe's eyes narrow slightly as they alight on the wound, but her face remains impassive.
You murmur, "Dear Tacita-" His voice is soft, a waft from a butterfly's wing. Perhaps it is not his voice at all. No, it is merely the wind itself. "See what I have seen."
You have emoted: Kio's paw begins to vanish within his chest, digging through the protective barrier holding back the edge of his mortal scar. As it enters his chest, blood begins to seep around his fingertips. Slow at first, the crimson oozes down his chest, matting the cerulean fur as it travels. His paw continues to dig into the wound, no apparent regard for pain appearing on his face, his trance unbroken. As his middle knuckles push past the surface, the trail of blood widens, beginning to pour down his front to stain his pants. Upon the entrance of the back of his hand, the healing barrier finally falters. Like the surface of a frozen lake unthawing for Spring, a gush a blood erupts and starts to pour onto the floor, pooling between his crossed legs.
You have emoted: Kio sits motionless, his paw still buried deep within his chest. The crimson pool between his legs flows slowly out from under him, entering the first of the three channels dug into the ground. As it begins to flow through the circle, the surrounding forest melts into itself. The shimmering waves of heat around the ceremonial fire dance and take form.
You have emoted: Kio's image emerges from within the flickering memories. Before him stands a towering being of pitch darkness, encrusted in bone and vine.
His voice but a distant memory, you murmur, "Why.. why have ya been so quiet? It ain't like ya, ya know? I- I worry 'bout ya, sometime." The being before him is instantly recognizable by its twisted, polyphonic voice. It looks different- more complete, somehow. Gentle, even. "Kio. It is time. It is time to stop lying to yourself. You are strong, now- you are ready."
Silent Sage Tacita An'Ryshe sinks carefully to the ground, unconsciously mirroring your position as she watches intently.
His memory obviously startled, you murmur, "Wh- what are ya talkin' 'bout, ya big dolt?" The creature smiles lovingly, like a parent before a child coming of age. "You know who I am. You know what I am. Do not fear me any longer, Kio."
Submitting to a quiet, forced resolve and hanging his head, you murmur, "...I- I don't wanna." The creature reaches out a bone-clad hand, as though offering a gift. "No, Kio. You want to. We know, little Erid'in cub. You cannot lie to us, for we were you once. You embraced us for a fleeting moment, yet hid away within yourself. You hid from our touch, you swatted our vines. Your roots never took hold, as you would not let ours. Stop, Kio. It is time."
His head still hanging, but his voice now shaking, you murmur, "N-no. No." The creature remains still, calm. "Thul will love you, Kio. Your father will love you, Kio. Why do you fear such losses? Is it because Thul will soon leave? Do you expect he take his heart with him? No, Kio. He will leave it within the Wyrd, for all born of the Glory will embrace it in their times of need. Your fear is bred of your own mortality. You have begun to embrace me, Kio. You have started. You have sought out the One meant for you- the One who will help you the most. Glory, Kio." The word hangs on the air, shimmering with the heat of the fire. "Glorious."
You have emoted: Kio's image refocuses from behind the fire, his paw still embedded within his chest. The blood has finished its first passing, now draining into the second of the three grooves within the ground. Your surroundings sharpen with a painful snap. Shimmering into itself, the forest takes the shape of Faethorn. Kio stands amongst a small group of the Merciless Forest. You are there. Xenthos stands by your side, his mighty bardiche swinging through the air and finding its way into the chest of a nameless Seren. Your voice is dark and entrancing as the mournful notes of the Wyrden Dirge bring its impaled victim to its end.
You have emoted: Kio stands next to Morkarion, his paws manipulating thorny, Wyrden vines to lash about and strangle a group of four Celestians. One of them cries out in pain, his final breath rattling through the air as the vines strangle the life from him. Morkarion forms a mass of fire within one hand and effortlessly flings it at another, now trapped victim, leaving nothing but charred bone among the thorns. Within the same motion, his katana removes the head of the third, as the fourth is quartered violently by the rending thornvines. The screaming of the rest of the enemy forces fades away, melting the edges of your field of view as your eyes refocus upon the ground. The blood has finished travelling the second groove, and now begins drifting into the third.
Nothing but a bodiless whisper on the wind, you murmur, "He is ready, Tacita, but he needs you. He needs Him." The voice seems to manifest itself within your mind's eye. The image is clearly Kio, yet something is... wrong. No. He is merely different. He is whole. His fur no longer moves like water, but is frozen still, dusted hoarfrost upon his form. Undulating vines wreathe about his limbs and embed their thorns within his flesh. Even though they are merciless, they somehow appear gentle, loving. His eyes are soft, yet emotionless. His voice is transparent, as though drawn from some other time. "He will need you, Tacita. Teach him. Break him. Rebuild him."
You have emoted: Kio now stands before you, his eyes closed and his chest bare. The wound which rested within its surface is now a gaping, massive hole. The flesh has been peeled back, the bone beneath cut and removed to expose his organs. His heart beats against the open air, each pulse sending ripples through the aether. You watch in awe for a moment, pausing to take in the feeling of living, itself. There is nothing but you standing before Kio, a dagger in your hand. Strands of pressure ebb and flow about your face, leaving a sense of wonderment as his bare, beating heart drums within your mind. A series of voices begin to whisper about, melding within your own thoughts. A scared child. An old crone. Are you hearing these, or is this your own mind? A battle-scarred veteran. A screeching caw. Your thoughts tangle about themselves, a cacophonous thicket. A horrific wail. A hushed, motherly whisper. Yes, these are your voices. These are the voices you know. You know them. They are you. A terrible scream. The sound of your heart's voice. No... these are not your own. "Break him."
Holding his vine-wreathed hand above your own, a seed of writhing shadow forming in your palm, you give a black iron-hilted dagger to Silent Sage Tacita An'Ryshe.
Silent Sage Tacita An'Ryshe cradles the dagger gently in her hands, but does not look down at it. Her fingertips run along its length, feeling blindly at the cold metal. "Oh, little one," she whispers, her voice a soft sigh on the wind. "My dear, precious child." Rocking back on her heels,
she moves to kneel next to you, her movements slow - almost predatory.
Her voice dropping considerably in pitch, Silent Sage Tacita An'Ryshe whispers, "I do not need to break you, little one. No, not I. You have already done that to yourself." Curling up into an eerie smile, her lips twitch with almost amusement. "But listen to me, my child. You linger at the edge of death - only on this precipice can you see the truth of things."
You have emoted: Kio's trance remains unbroken, his paw still within his chest.
Silent Sage Tacita An'Ryshe reaches over and traces her pale fingers around the edge of the gaping wound. Blood and flesh catch on her hand, and she sighs gently - almost lovingly. "I will not break you," she continues, her voice still deep and soothing. "I will not rebuild you. What you become under His gaze is yours to make. Yours to bring about."
Bringing her bloody hand to touch the tip of her tongue, Silent Sage Tacita An'Ryshe whispers, "What I will give you, my little one, is opportunity. The chance to begin anew. The ledge to grasp upon."
Shadows swirl around Tacita's arm as the Fingerblade of dha'Wyrden-cree shifts and turns around her hand.
Silent Sage Tacita An'Ryshe curls her bloody fingers around the hilt of the dagger, her smile broadening. For the briefest of moments, it almost reaches her eyes. "What I will give you," she says at length, raising the dagger up, "is Rebirth." With a single, fluid movement, she plunges the blade into your heart. Only as it strikes does it become clear that the blade was coated in her own blood, spilt forth from her other hand as it grasped the blade. As the burning chill of her blood begins to overtake your senses, she lifts her voice in song.
"Rising in the song of death that calls you to be born again," sings Tacita, as an ethereal shadowfire viola plays deep, dark melodies, and she looks directly at you.
The throat of Tacita undulates and warbles as she continues to maintain the moaning note of her song. Ominous black shadows rise out of the ground, slowly circling around you.
Throwing back her head, Tacita lets loose a blood curdling caw, bringing the killing note of her song to a screeching conclusion. The swirling black shadows that surround you suddenly wrap tightly around your body, painfully squeezing the life from you in mere moments.
You have been slain by Tacita.
By the divine might of Tacita, you are restored to life.
Holding her bloody hands aloft, Silent Sage Tacita An'Ryshe whispers, "Breathe, little one. Breathe and be His again."
The perception of time momentarily slows to a fraction as Lachesis studies the Tapestry of Fate, carefully measuring each strand before making notations in a great tome. Time rushes forward as the memory fades, yet the feeling remains that your history in Lusternia is recorded in the great annals of fate, for better or for worse.
You have emoted: Kio shutters violently as his life returns to his body. The visions which once danced among the fire are mere memories, its flames snuffed out and smoking above cinders. As if reeling in a sudden pain, Kio lets loose a blood-curling, painful roar. He rolls onto all fours, clawing and ripping at his flesh as though something is writhing beneath it. His rippling fur of ethereal water grows brittle, freezing over. As hoarfrost begins to settle upon him flesh, he lets loose another roar and rips away the flesh of his left side. Thorned vines burst from his bone, flailing about violently before entwining themselves about his arm and leg. Blood flies, staining the perfect white hoarfrost of his right side. Some of the vines grow brittle and fall to the ground, others embedding their thorns into his flesh. Taking hold of the outside of his arm and leg, they can be seen writhing underneath his skin toward his chest and into his face. Three thorns break through the flesh of his left cheek, the emergence so clean that no blood stains his fur.
You have emoted: Kio gasps for breath, resting on all fours and looking toward the ground.
Silent Sage Tacita An'Ryshe wipes the blood from her hands until all trace of gore is gone. Once done, she reaches forward and places one hand gently on your right forepaw, letting the gesture speak for her.
You have emoted: Kio lets out a strangely warm rumble, clearly amused by something. He slowly leans back to rest upon his knees, glancing at your hand upon his paw as he does. Once settled, his now lavender eyes look toward you, a fond smile upon his face. He raises his newly vine-wreathed left forepaw to his face, tenderly caressing the protruding thorns.
The ghost of a smile passes fleetingly across Tacita's lips.
With a pained chuckle, you say, "S'pose Thul can't be mad 'bout my shadow no more, huh." His laughter dies down, his tone softening into slightly more serious intent. "S'pose I ain't got no more ta be worried 'bout, neither. Also s'pose the Chief wasn't right 'bout all that nonsense."
You chuckle long and heartily.
Fondly, Silent Sage Tacita An'Ryshe murmurs, "It is good to see you whole, little one."
You have emoted: Kio lets out a warm rumble.
Tacita leans close to you and gently lays a kiss upon your forehead.
Looking over his left half, you say, "...don't think Thul's gonna like it none, though."
"Heh heh heh" you chuckle.
Tacita smiles softly..
Silent Sage Tacita An'Ryshe says, "Oh, I think it would take more than that for you to lose your husbear's loyalty."
His lavender eyes strangely resolute, you say, "But I think that ain't a bad thing." He nods to you, appreciating your words. "Think so, too."
Silent Sage Tacita An'Ryshe sways slightly on the spot, and sighs to herself. "It would seem that I have over-exerted myself again," she says apologetically. "Will you be alright now, little one, if I return to my nest?"
You have emoted: Kio nods once, gathering his robes. Slipping into them, he carefully drapes the cloth to hide his new, vine-wreathed half. "Aye, -my- friend." His smile speaks volumes for the obvious weight lifted from him. "Think I won't go flauntin' none 'a this for a bit. Best ta let it heal up first, huh."
You slip into a set of silver-trimmed viridescent robes.
You raise the hood on a set of silver-trimmed viridescent robes.
You smile and say to Tacita, "Thank ya, 'gain, miss Tacita."
Silent Sage Tacita An'Ryshe chuckles softly and nods in agreement.
Getting carefully to her feet, Silent Sage Tacita An'Ryshe says, "There is no need to thank me, little one. You did all the work."
You smile softly.
His one visible lavender eye flashing a sickening mauve briefly, you say to Tacita, "Aww, I couldn't 'a done none 'a this without ya, miss Tacita. Ain't many folk who can inspire someone ta stop bein' 'fraid, now, is there?"
Tacita smiles softly.
Tacita sways back and forth.
You have emoted: Kio leans in to hold you.
Warmly, you say to Tacita, "Go get ya some rest, miss Tacita."
Your mouth turns up as your face breaks into a smile.
You smile and say, "I'll lead ya out."
Silent Sage Tacita An'Ryshe says, "I shall do so. You should do the same - I imagine you'll need it."
Tacita nods her head emphatically.
You have emoted: Kio offers you a wine-wreathed paw.
Silent Sage Tacita An'Ryshe takes your paw and steadies herself for the walk.
You smile and say, "I feel better than I did in a long while comin', I promise."