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The Faery Tale

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Naur, 101 - Midday, hr 6    
Skyreach has become a place taken over by the wild. All kinds of creatures are everywhere. At the first look it seems to be abondoned from people, but some are still here. Artheon, a really smart kid is hiding from the monsters, but to find him one
has to find him in the mines. He seems to have a big knowledge about the mines and what can be found in there.

I am happy to see that nobody is afraid of me, my wings or my red eyes. Its not like in Moonglade, where people have to die because they trust me. I hope Cita is doing well, if one can be well in such a situation there and Rufus can return. Maybe Snowie
is on her way to Moonglade and takes care of it. I has to be really hard for her seeing all of her childs dying

Because it looks, like I am the oldest one in Skyreach, I feel it is my quest to take care of all the evil creatures now wandering though the city. It looks like I expelled most of these greenish creatures, but the bigger stronger ones are giving me sleepless nights. I have to defend the city, I can't allow that even more moonkin die. I have to fight this plague for Rufus and the other Moonkin.

I really wish the people in Moonglade would recognize me as a friend. I am not a monster!
 
Naur, 101 - Midday, hr 7    
Page 1: Naur, 101 Midday, hr 6: Age 3

Today, I had fun but also got saad. It start when Auntie Trisa start crying and I go outside to write her card... she no know how to read though so I say I teach. She good Auntie, but I think she get sad too much. Tasir seem ok to her. Maybe it just grown-up stuff I no get. Me and Tal decide we be mates now. I no sure how to go 'bout it, but I did make him hide bag and put food, heal stuff and new pair pants in there. He still sleep, but I hope he like. Mou-Mou seems to be hunting and in da forge all the time. I hope she come out and play more, I miss how she was when I little. Didi da same, but he gave me nice candle today. He always do stuff for us little ones. That why I love him more than Mou-Mou... but no tell her that. Faerlin and Nina ok, I think dey sad though.. Luna real sick. But good thing is, Nina and me Best friends now. I may have told Ruby dat, but I think she understand. She get close to Hele 'gain I fink. And Grand-Di just funny as usual. I hope me and Tal be just like Him and "Lisa. Dey real funny and I think they got more love than Mou-Mou and Didi. Anyway, I still working on this backpack so I gotta go. They pretty hard and I wanna at least get it done before I four.
 
Lasse, 101 - Evening, hr 11    
Her clothes were just as soaked by the rain as the soil around her, but she barely recognized the shivering of her body, lying next to the still blood-drenched spot of grass where her brother had drawn his last breath. Probably she should start to fear the rain because whenever the small drops touched her skin, something terrible seemed to be bound to happen. But she merely felt empty and numb, her heart not able to feel any fear any longer, not able to handle last night's events, only a withered bit left of it after all it has already had to go through.

The regular sound of the raindrops hitting the blades of grass and the leaves of the trees around her even had a soothing, almost mesmerizing effect on her. It made her lose all sense of time, let her perception of her own body and her surroundings fade away, let her forget the terrible images of last night for a short gap in time. She must have been lying there for hours already - the daylight had the bright glow of midday, even though the sky was still as clouded and gray as her own mood.

As a last resort for her sanity, the numbness had taken possession of her, protecting her from the yelling and crying all around her during the night. Not even Elisa pulling Quarr's lifeless body away from beneath her own chest, crying for her lost love and pleading to the Great Spirit to bring him back to her, permeated the shield of her numbness. She simply let it happen, rolled to the side to let the other woman take away her brother's soulless remains.

Now that the numbness slowly left her, her memories came back like a flood, forced her to live through all of the events again. Quarr yelling her name, his body covered in mud and blood from his fight against their sister. Velas attacked me..she..she almost killed me.. How could this happen? She wanted me to end her life..I refused so she caved in the roof and attacked me.. How could she let it happen? I tried to escape..but her magic was so strong. She had put all of her efforts into rendering a peaceful life for all of them possible, she had thought she wasn't needed for this any longer, but she had been wrong, so terribly wrong with everything.

The sight of Velas' dead body in Larkin's arms had shaken her after she had only just found her sister again. Velas had seemed to understand her so well, seemed to feel the same pain that kept destroying herself from inside. After having sensed her sister's desperation, she should have done something, she should have known that Velas longed to die as much as she herself had done not so long ago. But Tasir's sudden distance and coldness had distracted her, she had shut everything else out to reach him again. She would have given everything not to lose him and obviously this was the price she had to pay, her betrayal of her family.

Still it had been impossible for her to simply give up on Tasir, for it would not only have taken the last meaning of her life and her ability to love ever again away, it would also have meant all of Elek's and Ennea's suffering would have been in vain and it was her responsibility not to let that happen. After all the sadness she had brought over the people she loved, she had sworn to herself to make at least Tasir happy. But to lose another sister and brother in the same night was so much too high a price that she wished she could simply tear her own body apart to bring them back. Quarr's voice echoed through her mind, repeating his last words to her over and over again. I bet on the mountain Kenna will seek some revenge...you have always been a good sister Trisa.

A good sister... good enough to let him die, even though she should have known better. She had seen the ferocity in Velas' eyes during the long talk they had had that one night and that had turned out to be the last time to hear her sister's voice. No last words from Velas, no goodbye. It was her fault, she had convinced Velas to stay. If only she hadn't intervened - if she had never existed, Velas would have followed her instincts and simply would have run away. Both, Velas and Quarr, would still be alive, nothing of this would have happened. As if she was there again, she could hear her own voice crying out desperately Quarr! Please run away!, but it had been without success, just like everything else in her life.

That Velas had called her wise now seemed more absurd than ever to her, like a cruel joke by the most cruel of spirits. Her sister had trusted her, but it should have been obvious to anybody that Velas wasn't able to stand any of this much longer. She hadn't deserved Velas' trust, didn't deserve anybody's trust. Nobody should ever listen to her again because every single one of her decisions had only spread darkness over her family.

What more will my sister take from me.. Quarr had meant Velas with these words, spoken right before a horrible rain of mud and rocks came down on him to shatter his body, brought upon him by Velas' fatal gift imbued into Kenna's axe to let her daughter carry on the curse, to let the cycle never stop. But Quarr should have meant her.
 
Ringwe, 101 - Evening, hr 10    
I want to see what is on that hill.

I waited until the snow stopped so that my marks on the ground would stay fresh and I would know my way back.

Are all boy things as stupid as Nemo? He is constantly "frozen". I feed him all of the time and he only becomes attentive when he wants to show off and make Kis angry.

I do not understand boy things.
 
Losse, 102 - Midday, hr 7    
Page 2: Khalek, 102 Before Dawn, hr 3: Age 4


It been a long fast few days. I've been in a hiding spot some and workin on sometin important. My Grand-Di Quarr... he get killed by Mou-Mou cuz Grand-Mou Velas die becuz of him. Everyone real sad, even Mou-Mou who kill him. I thought they just mad and play at first. They both kept chasin each other everywhere! But then Mou-Mou took her big axe and just pounded on Grand-Di. I start crying when it happen and I no understand why Grand-Di gone. He good and funny and me and Tal want to be like him and "Lisa. I think she hurt the worse. I know it seem like I no care us much... but I do. I get sad when everyone go to Mount' Spirit. I still love Tal, but I think he just want to be alone right now. He really look up to Grand-Di and just real quiet. And Mou-Mou give up all her armor... though I no think she like it and she just seem to be making all us kids and Didi happy... I no know if she will stick to no killing. I hope so. Ruby and Hele just being themselves, and Ten being real real quiet.. it seem the more people die the more quiet Ten get. I guess she no how to talk when sad things happen. And I hope it no wrong that I more sad of Grand-Di Quarr die dan  Grand-Mou Velas... she just no nice to me.

Now dat it all over, I decide I want to build big house for Grand-Di and all da other people who die. I mostly want it to keep da writings, but membering da dead people that Mount' Spirit took real good too!... even though it be sad. Lamier help me work on it which is good, but Tal need to be here too!! He just leave and go outside. He love Grand-di like me, he know it important! Oh well, at least I no work on it alone.
 
Losse, 102 - Afternoon, hr 9    

Finally...I am reborn.  Through "Matir" I will unleash my wrath.

Soon I will completely take over this body, and bring terror to this world.

My only trouble is that this baby is gifted.  His senses are heightened, his ability to learn things amaze me.

He will try to resist me, and I am afraid he might succeed.

He won't, and I will cover this world with a frozen undeath.

 
Kuile, 102 - Evening, hr 12    
Chapter 2: Weird Strangers

It had been a weird past year for Kain since the weird strangers had arrived.

Weird in their appearance and weird in their ways. A few of them would disappear in weird flashes of light, two of them were tall with weird pointy ears and colorful hair. One of them Kain knew though, his grandmother Daffodil who visited their family a long long time ago and said she would bring an oven. And she did! She wasn't weird, Kain thought, though when she held onto a sword and she would flash and disappear too. So I guess she is weird too.

Ever since they arrived, the vast plains he had called home had been nothing but quiet. Talks of weird and queer names came up, of locations and people. Kain didn't care much. He wanted to play with the two weird little girls, but they seemed to not want to so he ended up playing with Ilysa again.

At one time one of the weird ones with pointy ears named Myran picked up Simeon to look at his red eyes and white fur. Saying weird words, Kain declared loudly "Simeon is weirrrd" And he was. He ran around naked and growled and was loud, Kain didn't like his weird brother.

And day came and left, with each one Kain would hear snippets of one new weird name or another.
 
Elen, 102 - Sunrise, hr 5    
"I... I killed Kenna..." Larkin's voice sounded unstable and he almost fell to the ground when he stumbled into the cavern towards the sarcophagus that contained his father Quarr's body where she was sitting next to Tasir and Elisa. Still shaken by her earlier fear about Tasir when he was walking around like a person dead-alive without reacting to anything or anybody, seeming like a lost one, she was holding him in a close embrace. But Larkin's words drove her relief about Tasir's awakening away at once and made her quickly pull back from her position in Tasir's arms to look at her nephew with wide eyes and mouth agape, her voice cracked. "You... what?"

Not able to believe what she had just heard, she simply shook her head over and over again, more words sputtering out of her mouth. "This not can be true... nothing of this can be true." Unconsciously, her fingers squeezed Tasir's arm tightly, holding to it as if it was the only thing keeping her connected to the world.

Larkin's head sank back against the sarcophagus and his eyes seemed to be completely blank as he stared up at the ceiling. One of his hands was holding a small diamond, probably a symbol of the love he and Kenna had once shared in happier times. "She came out of the forge with her armor and that cursed axe... I know I can never get my Kenna back. I just... I couldn't let that curse loose on the world. It needs to be locked up before it ruins any more lives."

How could the Spirit do that to their family after all they had lost already? Not Kenna... not also her! She was a mother to so many children and she was once so close to her, even though she hadn't seen the Kenna she had once known ever since their arrival. And now she would never see her again, having lost not only her real daughter, but also her niece who was like a daughter to her. How much loss could a person cope with before breaking irrevocably?
 
Elen, 102 - Afternoon, hr 8    
I don't really remember the day that I was born. I know it was hot outside, and that Kassa and I were the only ones that woke up. The two little boys never moved. Kassa and I were always close, we played together, explored and talked about everything. She was the best sister I could ever ask for.
Some of the older children weren't very nice to us though. There was one in particular, Nav, that my sister didn't like. Those two never got along, always squabbling and screaming and trying to bite of toes and fingers and ears...I mostly just tried to stay out of it and out of their way, although Nav did try once to choke me with a bone rattle...
 
Lasse, 102 - Evening, hr 11    
With a familiar flash of light, Myran arrives at the Canyon. He looks forward to a reunion with those that call the place home.

"Myran!!!"

Nevyn gasps as he holds Aileen.  "Oh, Myran..." His eyes begin to water again, his resolve weakening with an adult present.  "Myran... Someone... They... Papa, Nereth, and... Mama..." He breaks again, beginning to sob with renewed vigor.

Myran's previously mirthful expression evaporates as he rushes to Nevyn and Aileen with urgent strides. "Nevyn? What's happened? Where is--" He stops short as his gaze falls upon the fresh graves. He stands for a long moment, speechless.

Nevyn clings to Aileen, using her as support, and tries to stifle his cries. Unsuccessful, he gasps out words between sobs.  "It was... A... A Anu... It... It killed them!" Tears stream down his face anew.

Aileen stares blankly up at Myran, her hands and arms covered with blood, along with the front of her clothing, and her young face marred with welts and scratches while her eyes look reddened from deepest grieving. She turns to Nevyn then and clings to him, weeping softly, her voice barely audible, and hoarse from overuse not so long ago.

Myran's fists clench, the steel gauntlets producing a wrenching, metallic noise under the force of the grip. He shakes his head violently. "No... No! No!!" He grits his teeth as his breathing becomes ragged, his eyes piercing into the distance. He cocks his head back to Nevyn. "Tell me everything."

Nevyn's eyes widen at Myrans rage, and he holds Aileen protectively for a moment. As Myran looks at him, he loosens his hold on Aileen slightly. He takes a deep breath, shuddering with grief, and begins to speak. His voice is quiet and weak, and punctuated from time to time by sobs.  "Oro came, and Mama was worried... And so they were talking to him... But while they were, this... Monster! Came... And... Mama said it was a Anu... And then when she and Nereth and Papa saw it... They sent us to the tent. Avy and Syreth and m-" He stops short and his eyes widen. He glances to Aveline, who is still collapsed from her swoon. He then glances back to the tent.   "Syreth's fine. But Avy collapsed..."

Myran makes his way to the graves as he listens, his head continuing to shake as Nevyn speaks. Soon, an unseen weight seems to fall upon him, and he collapses to his knees, head bent forward in unbridled anguish. He throws his helmet at his side and his tears fall to the fresh soil unmitigated. He digs his fingers into the earth as if to reach out to those buried beneath, finally arching back and looking into the sky, his dirty fingers now curled upwards. He screams, a deep and primal noise which seems to carry on for longer than it naturally should. Then, his prayer begins.

"Dynshyradmosund, hear my plea! I come to you tired and defeated. Noljeni blood has been spilt this day, the murderer still free to bring suffering and Darkness to your mortal servants. Your Light is needed, Great One, as it was so many years ago. Please, return the souls of the fallen to their rightful vessels, and if you see fit, I shall become your instrument of justice in this world."

His head falls forward once more, and his voice becomes a whisper, an endless chant.

"Dynshyradmosund.. Dynshyradmosund.. Dynshyradmosund.."
 
Ringwe, 102 - Midday, hr 6    
I gathered up the driest bits of moss, branches and bone we had into a pile, determined to make Kis proud. I rubbed everything against the long length of my pointed stick until I noticed the smoldering coming from the friction of the wood.

I continued this process, it seemed, for hours, determined to remain the most clever of Kis' things. I rubbed and rubbed and blew onto the clouds of ash and soot, beckoning them to burst forth into the light we craved to harness, like the light that hangs above our heads and melts the snow sometimes.

Finally, there was a lively warmth that flickered from the wood and I used it to light the clumps of saggy moss, the parched bone, the other twiggy branches.

I saved the little girl and boy things. Many less of them will freeze now, I think, and will grow to be strong like me, like Kis and Nemo.
 
Ringwe, 102 - Midday, hr 6    
Every single awakening brought more terror. She was still lying on the grass where she had slept when Larkin walked out of the mine with slow, heavy steps, carrying a horrible burden in his arms. "It was a rat..." His words were followed by him angrily tossing the dead animal's corpse away from him before gently setting down the small dead body of his daughter into the grass. "She never hunted before... why would she?"

Grabbed by a sudden anger, he approached the forest with resolute steps, unleashing his rage about all of the loss onto its animals. When he returned, drenched in sweat and blood that wasn't his own, he sank down to his knees in front of what was left of Helenite.

It pained her to see this waste of life, it pained her to see him like this, but she didn't know what to do or say after all that had happened. She felt new tears in her eyes and was barely able to whisper his name. "Larkin..."

Hearing her voice, he looked up with glassy eyes. "She was in the mines. I told her... don't go in the mines unprepared. I told her. I told her."

Not knowing what else to do, she crawled over to him and his daughter's dead body, cautiously wrapping her arms around her nephew to give him what little comfort she had left to give. "It not was your fault, Larkin. Please... not think that, really, it not was your fault. You are a wonderful di-di."
 
Khelek, 103 - Evening, hr 10    
After looking around the taiga, I noticed sister playing with some odd fabric I've never seen before, shaped like a scroll, and it reminded me of how much I used to draw.  So, I went to our collection of scrolls and read from them for the first time.  I think I remember mother had told us we could look at them and ask questions a long time ago, but I never did until now.  I feel more... aware.
 
Losse, 103 - Midday, hr 7    
Today, I watched Cesia give birth to a girl pup.

Horrifying, now that I reflect upon it. Horrifying and absolutely magnificently beautiful.
 
Kuile, 103 - Sunrise, hr 4    
Noise, so much noise... it penetrates everything. She wakes up, startled, and her eyes adjust to her surroundings. The bodies on the ground catch her eye... people sobbing, more noise... her sobs contribute; the world goes blurry, swimming, a mass abyss of red and green and blue. Movement, her world shifts, and the bodies are dragged away. The world becomes clear for a split second before it drowns once more in the blur of her eyes... noise, none, silence except for sobs, silence again. She looks out at the world with crystalline vision, tears still falling, though quietly now. Silence.
 
Kuile, 103 - Midday, hr 6    
Feeling the hardness of the log against her back, she woke up and saw her brother, presumed dead, but nevertheless stumbling out of the forest towards the mine. "S-son.." His body was still covered in the wounds that had killed him and she couldn't believe what her eyes were showing her after having sat next to the sarcophagus that contained Quarr's corpse for several days.

Unable to react in her disbelief, she continued to stare at Quarr motionlessly, unsure if the pain within her had started to make her imagine things that weren't there. And before she could shake off her rigidity to help her badly injured brother, suddenly Tasir, who in the last days had resembled one of the sleepers who didn't even take notice of their surroundings any longer, raised the pick he had used to mindlessly work on a road. He approached Quarr, her brother who had returned from the halls of the Great Spirit just like she herself had done, his fist clenched around the pick's handle.

Tasir's voice sounded alien, not like his own, not like anything she had ever heard from him before, and was shivering with rage. "You... you're dead. It... can't be. You're just some.. some evil. You won't hurt my family!" He blew off the new spark of life that had miraculously found its way back into Quarr's body, then simply turned away from the corpse he had left behind to continue his work on the road, the expression on his face just as dull and mindless as before.

She still wasn't capable of any reaction at all when Larkin's voice cut through the silence. "NO! Di!" Her eyes saw how he unstrapped one of the axes of their fallen family members from his back, but she didn't really see it. Her ears heard how the axe cut through Tasir's flesh, but she didn't really hear it. Tasir's blood splattered over her face, but she didn't feel it. When Tasir's body hit the ground, it was her soul that died, not his, because his had already died a long time ago.
 
Kuile, 103 - Midday, hr 6    
Today was teible. Two more people gone. Granddi Quarr died becuss Tasir kill him. Then Larkin Di Di went crazi and kill Tasir. There lots of blood. It scary. But I glad Di didn't hurt. I dunno what to do.. I dun't know wat happen to Cit, I dun't know wat happen to Hele. But they were nice and I really likd them.. I feel so sad them gone. I wish thy were here. But I help Grandanut Trisa, she was hungri. I could here her belly roawr. It funny so I gav her some food I made for mysef just in cas. She smile at me and so I happy. I dun't write so swell yet, but I learn from the books on shelf. I tink I good.

I wan be firends with Sis Nina, No, I wan closer with Nina. I ben with others much mor and I dun't think Nina like me no mor. I dun't tink Ami, Rubi, or Mou lik me. Not even Anisa and Lami. Oh wel. I wil do bitter. I hop no more people will be gone...

-Luna Rδse
 
Kuile, 103 - Midday, hr 6    
Far away from the cruel reality, she was lost in a calm emptiness. No matter how hard the people around her tried, she remained in a catatonic state after she had had to witness her mate killing her brother who had returned from the dead and then her nephew killing her mate. The only movement of her body was a constant trembling and she didn't notice it when Larkin ran off into the forest, releasing his desperation by letting his father's axe take the lives of several hapless animals until his own violently shaking body collapsed on the leaves on the ground, damp in the evening air.

She wasn't there to help him this time, couldn't help anybody any longer, seemingly cut off of her surroundings and staring at something nobody else was able to see, her eyes completely empty and dull. Connor walked out of the mine, freezing at the sight of Tasir's body on the ground before whispering in a dangerously quiet tone, his eyes fixed on her: "Where is my brother?"

All of her senses were working like they should, flooding her with vision, sound and the smell of Tasir's blood on her face, but without having any impact on her mind. The voices around her just died away without reaching her, so she didn't pay more attention to Connor than to anything else around her.

Even though Faerlin had fallen into a rigor herself at the sight of the killing in front of her, she seemed to be able to free herself of it quickly and gestured towards the nearby trees with a shaky arm to answer Connor's question, her gray skin now appearing brighter than normally in her shock. At first slowly, then quickening his steps into a run, Connor moved towards the motionless form of his brother on the forest ground.

His face was terribly pale as he knelt down next to Larkin, trying to loosen his brother's grip around the weapon in his hand. "Brother! Wake up! Let go of this damned axe!" Connor's touch seemed to bring the life back into Larkin's body, a new wave of shivering running through it as he tried to sit up without much success, groaning and almost falling back onto the leaves.

Cautiously wrapping his arms around Larkin's chest to help him sit up, Connor glanced back at the axe that was still stuck in the carcass of a turkey. "What happened? This is Kenna's axe, right?" Obviously losing control completely with all the misery that had been brought over their family, Larkin bursted out into hysteric laughing, his voice rough in his inner pain. "No... it's Di's, he's dead again... gone again." A small rill of blood trickled out of Larkin's nose, staining his lips in red as they formed the next words. "Tasir killed him..." He pushed himself up to his knees while ripping the axe out of the dead animal next to him, a sudden confusion flashing through his piercing violet eyes. "Where's Tasir?!"

Faerlin finally seemed to have found her voice back while hesitatingly approaching Larkin and his brother. "Larkin, you're scaring me!" Because he hadn't seen Quarr's dead body some steps away from his location, concealed by some large blades of grass, Connor was now no less confused than his brother and simply pointed in the direction of Tasir's corpse, the lack of understanding obvious on his still pale face. "He's dead. What are you talking about...?"

When Connor's eyes met his father's ashen hand peeking out of the grass, his whole body froze, leaving his arm outstretched. "...Di?" Faerlin's gaze followed Connor's and she started with an explanation until her voice trailed off. "It was a mess. Tasir saw him, went crazy and killed him, and Larkin, he..." Instead of finishing her sentence, she bent over Larkin's kneeling form, so much smaller than her own. Some strands of her silver hair slid down into her face in the movement and she gently placed a hand on Larkin's shoulder.

Simply ignoring her touch, unreceptive to any comfort right now, Larkin stood up, his legs carrying him out of the clearing and towards his father's body almost automatically. Connor kept pace with Larkin's slow steps easily, following him to their father who was now dead for the second time, staring at the body incredulously.

Right in front of the lifeless form, Larkin's newfound strength deserted him as quickly as it had come and he sank back down onto his knees, murmuring quietly to his brother without even looking at him. "The mountain spirit brought him back to us... my Di. Then Tasir killed him because... for no... just because. Then... then... then I woke... and you were there." Connor's eyes scanned his father's face carefully and only when he shyly touched Quarr's arm, some of the disbelief left his face. "It's really Di..."

Faerlin accompanied the two brothers in some distance, but only stopped when she was standing right behind Larkin, leaning down and whispering into his ear: "Larkin, you...you killed Tasir, you just went into terrible grief and then it was over." The contures on Larkin's face seemed to harden when he averted his gaze from Quarr to flash a short glance at Tasir's corpse. "I believe it... He..."

She still didn't notice anything and didn't see how Larkin winced slightly at the sight of her, casting her a pained look before turning back towards Quarr's motionless form. The crying and screaming when Elisa, Anisa, Lamier and Larkin's children found out about the recent events left her unaffected. Probably in an attempt to let anything reach her again, Larkin placed Ruby onto her lap before he returned to Quarr's body, lifting it over his shoulder. "I have to lay my Di to rest... again." He didn't mention Tasir with another word, but simply grasped his arm and dragged him into the mine with him.

Ruby's attempts to get her attention were heartrending, but only when the girl yelled her name, followed by the sentence "TRISAAAA! WAKE UP! I just want... happy...", something in her behavior changed. Happy. The word meant something to her. Happy. Her formerly empty mind started to show her images and made her hear voices of a lost past. The lake, glittering in the starlight. Tasir, I want to be with you forever, never leave you, always be there for you and do anything to let you finally get the happiness you deserve. Happy.

Tasir's voice in the darkness of the mine, sounding quiet and hoarse after their argument. Trisa, we were once happy when it was just you and I... Her eyes still refused to focus on her surroundings as she continued to hear Tasir, even though nobody else could hear him. Just I don't really like it here... I'm not happy. Happy.

The last bit of her sanity had seemingly left her when she started to babble as if Tasir was there, her voice shivering in the continuous trembling of her body. "Yes... if you are really unhappy here, we will leave. I... want to make you happy again."

Of course Ruby couldn't understand what this was about and started to sob in her desperation and shock about her behavior. "But... I don't wanna leave! Just want... happy. Happy Di, happy 'Lisa... happy Trisa!" Still lost in her inner dialogue with Tasir, she continued to speak with a dull voice. "I gave you my promise at the lake, I promised to make you happy."

Ruby continued to yell her name when Larkin came back from his terrible duty in the mine and sat down next to her without a word. There were no words left for what had happened. Ruby's yelling made her empty eyes blink, but she was unable to leave that imaginary place in her mind where Tasir was still alive, where he had never turned into a mindless demon that had killed her brother, and she simply whispered his name over and over again.

The pain that should be in her own blank eyes showed up in Larkin's instead while he spoke throatily in the direction of the children. "Sometimes, when we lose someone we love... it takes some time to feel even a little better again." Now that she had lost Tasir, Larkin had lost Kenna and Elisa had lost Quarr, twice, the sadness of the place seemed to be so overwhelming that most of the children started to cry.

Ruby made a last attempt, inhaling deeply before screaming her name with all the strength her little body could come up with. Her voice echoed all over the hill and through the forest and caused several startled birds to fly up into the sky in a whirl of feathers. And finally, at least a small part of her seemed to be returning into reality, her eyes fixing on the girl in front of her with an expression of utter confusion and her fingers gliding over the strings of an ivy net that Ruby had placed in her hands earlier.

Obviously content with her success, the girl started to smile and hugged her. "Trisa... like net? I made so you won't be sad." There, but not really there, she looked down to the net in her hands, then back into Ruby's hopeful face and patted the girl's back, speaking with a strangely unemotional voice. "Yes, it is very nice, Ruby. Thank you."

After having gone through the same, Elisa instantly recognized that she was still lost in a world in between and unconnected to her surroundings. So the Aelleri got to her feet, ignoring her own revived inner pain about the repeated loss of Quarr, distracting herself from it by splashing some water of the nearby brook into her face before walking over to her and kneeling down in front of her. "Trisa, wake up... you still have family left. However broken, however battered, they are still here, and they need you... wake up."

Elisa's words only created another confused frown on her forehead and as she spotted the injuries on the other woman's hands, she brusquely changed the topic without paying attention to what was said before. "Your hands... they are hurt." The Aelleri quickly pulled her hands back, hiding them behind her back to bring them out of her field of vision, her voice now gaining intensity. "My hands are unimportant right now, Trisa. Wake up, now. Please. For the sake of the ones you still have, wake up. Wake up, Trisa..."

When Elisa moved her hands away from her, her own hand was left in midair where it had tried to touch Elisa's. A thought ran through her mind, the shadow of an old remembrance, and let her body straighten up. "Tasir..." When she pronounced the name, Elisa watched her in anxious expectation, probably thinking she had now finally realized what had happened. But her next words proved the Aelleri wrong. "Tasir has to give me my salves."

With a defeated sigh, Elisa's shoulders sank down and she stood up to return to the brook, this time bringing water back with her and gently flicking it into her face. "Please, Trisa... for the last time, please wake up..." The water tickled her and she brought a hand towards her cheek to wipe it away, her fingers gliding through Tasir's blood that had splattered onto her.

At the sight of the blood on her fingertips, her voice filled with a small hint of panic in a foreshadowing of the emotions that were yet to come, unleashed as soon as she would have grasped the full scale of the past events. "Elisa... why... why is there blood on my face?"

Without showing much of her own emotions, Elisa knelt back down in front of her again to take one of her hands into her own, lightly tugging on it in the direction of the mine. "Trisa, you need to come with me... Grab your cane, and I'll help you." After a short, pleading glance in Larkin's direction to indicate that his help would be needed, Elisa led her into the darkness of the mine and towards the graveyard in one of the tunnels.
 
Rosa, 103 - Afternoon, hr 8    
Not understanding why Elisa and Larkin had brought her here, she remained standing in front of the graves that were almost as numerous as the ones in the mine back at the mountain where she had been born and lived for so long. The freshly dug grave that wasn't filled up with dirt yet caught her attention in an unsettling manner, but she wasn't quite sure why and didn't have the opportunity to think about it when Anisa suddenly stumbled into the cavern.

The young Aelleri seemed to be completely shaken, barely able to hold herself upright any longer. Tears streamed down Anisa's face as she stepped towards her in a weak manner, gently touching the scar she had inflicted upon her cheek, her clawed hand trembling in her hardly suppressed sobs. "I'm sorry I hit you... You were right... You... Everything..."

Before she could react, Anisa simply ran back outside, leaving her in her confusion about what had just happened. She was wondering what had caused this sudden change in the opinion of Tasir's daughter about her. But whatever it was, Tasir would... Why did it suddenly feel so wrong to think about his name? Why was everything around her refusing to make sense? And why did that fresh grave in front of her always manage to attract her full attention again?

After another confused look in the direction where Anisa had run off to and without taking notice of Larkin at the altar near the graves, she simply gave in to the attraction that this peculiar grave had on her. Making one reluctant step with her crutch towards the grave, then another one, she felt a sudden tension and it was as if every muscle in her body was telling her not to step any further.

But nevertheless, she couldn't stop and continued her way, the smell of the freshly excavated soil provoking a feeling of sickness within her that she couldn't explain. With every step she made, the darkness of the cavern drew shadows over her tensed face and right before she had reached the grave, her legs came to a halt. Her few seconds of hesitation seemed to be extended into an eternity before she finally bent over to peek over the grave's edge.

In the middle of her movement, she froze when the body in the grave had finally reached her field of vision, the blackness of its skin seeming even more intense in the darkness of the mine. The remembrance of everything she had witnessed, but not really witnessed, broke down on her violently, washing away everything within her, pulling her down into an maelstrom of all-consuming darkness.

Tasir. She wasn't aware that her lips formed the only name that seemed to be existing in her mind any longer, her mouth moving in an almost glacial slowness. The crutch slid out of her fingers, its wood clanking onto the ground in an unnaturally loud sound, cutting through the silence over the graveyard.

She lost her balance, but it didn't make any difference any longer as her feet were already gliding through the soil down into the fresh grave. Almost falling due to the weakness of her neglected body, she landed on Tasir's, huskily repeating his name over and over again. "Tasir... Tasir... I love you. Wake up, Tasir. I love you so much."

Her eyes were widened in sheer horror and her chest seemed to constrict, not letting her breathe any longer and forcing a grimace onto her face, her next sentences stifled. "You... you said you... Tasir, you said you would always stand by my side. You said you would keep me warm... do it now... do it now!" Not knowing what else to do in her desperate longing for him, she wrapped her arms around his cold body and pressed her own shivering lips onto his rigid ones.

"You are my life, I love you more than anything else in the world, you... you not can..." With every word that she spoke, her voice got more quiet and the end of her sentence was almost inaudible, merely a soft breeze of air. "...leave me."

Her outburst made Larkin rise from his position in front of the altar with a quiet sigh, but he hesitated, letting his eyes wander over all of the graves in the cavern before he finally started moving towards Tasir's with slow steps. He remained silent for several moments, then softly pronounced the sentence which he must have wanted to tell her since the day it happened, even though it wouldn't change anything. "I'm sorry, Trisa."

At his words, she reluctantly lifted her head from Tasir's face to look at Larkin with overwhelming desperation in her still dry and bloodshot eyes. She wasn't able to say anything until the emptiness within her got pushed aside by a distraught hope. She had done it once, she could do it again. If it meant she could be where Tasir was, she would do anything.

This thought filled her eyes with a soft shimmer of determination and gave her enough breath to whisper again. "I... I want to follow him. My life has no sense without him. Please... make me follow him." The new small bit of hope to see Tasir again vanished as quickly as it had appeared when she realized how little she really knew about the Aelleri. Her eyes widened at the sudden insight and her formerly quiet voice turned loud and shrill, shivering in her emotions. "Is... is he in the halls? Where do Aelleri... I... I have to know where he is!"

In her desperation, she clenched both of Tasir's arms tightly and casted Larkin a pained and pleading look, breathing heavily. Obviously shocked by her words, he shook his head in an abrupt movement before sitting down on the edge of the grave next to her. "No... I don't know where they... I couldn't imagine the Mountain Spirit keeping you away from him when the time comes."

She felt his hand on her arm like she had always touched his when he had needed her comfort, but she didn't move her head to look at it. He turned his body a bit more into her direction, his own voice now also instable in his emotions. "But please, please no more dragons... I... I can't watch any more of my family die needlessly. I can't."

Now feeling the last bit of hope crushed within her, the pain became unbearable and she tightened her grip around Tasir's arms as a new wave of trembling took possession of her body. An overwhelming sadness of such intensity emerged in her that all she had already had to go through in her life seemed like nothing in comparison. Eventually, the long overdue tears appeared in her eyes and somehow she just knew that once she would have started to cry, she wouldn't be able to stop until nothing would be left of her, that this grave could just as well be hers, too.

"I... I not can stay here, not... without him. I want to be where he is, I... not can live like this, I not can. I want to follow him, please let me follow him." But Larkin wasn't willing to let her go so easily, not averting his gaze from the terrible sadness in her eyes, but facing it like he had done with his own. "No." He moved closer to her unflinchingly. "I know how it hurts... but you'd only be hurting the people left here who love you."

His hand slid down her arm to enclose her hand instead. "He'll be waiting for you... still there if you go today or a hundred years from now." He brought his other hand towards her, now holding hers between both of his. "You don't have to play catch up..." For a moment, his eyes fixed Kenna's sarcophagus behind her. "Real love never goes away, it will be there when it's your turn in the halls. The opportunity to be there for your family when they need your love and support won't be."

His words, however touching, weren't able to ease her pain and she still was on the edge of the worst crying fit of all her life when suddenly Anisa ran inside, breathlessly forcing the sentence over her lips without giving them time to react. "Quarr...  Back... again..." The young Aelleri was already gone again and she still didn't know how to react to any of this, torn inside too much to say something and too confused to think.

Larkin seemed to sense her inability to react and reached out to gently remove her hand from Tasir's arm, unclenching her fingers that had already become stiff and numb in their tight grasp. Without letting go of her hand, he stood up, then simply picked her up with one arm on her back and the other one below her knees, cautiously carrying her out of the mine.
 
Lote, 103 - Evening, hr 12    
The whole world around her seemed to shake when Larkin ran towards Quarr's motionless form on the ground with her in his arms, the setting sun casting its last rays towards them, covering all of them in a deep red glow. "Di?! The Spirit brought you back to us again!" Even though Quarr was still unconscious, he was clearly breathing and the sight of him, returned for the second time, released the earlier suppressed sobs in her throat. The conflicting emotions within her felt like they were drowning her and she wasn't able to think clearly after she had only just seen Tasir's dead body and realized that he was dead, that she had lost him forever.

A huge part of her just wanted to retreat into an eternal stream of tears, but her brother's return nevertheless touched something inside her that she had thought was lost. She hadn't been able to save Quarr the two times before, but she would be able to do it now, she would get her brother back, Elisa would get her mate back, Larkin and Connor would get their father back and despite her deep sadness, it felt as if a huge weight was taken from her shoulders and a part of her guilt was lifted from her heart.

She didn't have much control over her voice when she whispered hoarsely between two of her sobs: "Quarr? Brother?" The fear of losing Quarr again had still not vanished completely and made her arm shake as she stretched it in Quarr's direction from her position in Larkin's arms. Her brother's whole body was laced with sickening wounds, but she didn't avert her gaze from them. With the last bit of volition she had left, she violently pushed every other thought aside and murmured with a weak voice: "Larkin... I... I have some salve left, we... need to help him."

Larkin set her onto the ground next to Quarr in a gentle movement of his arms before rushing off in the direction of the mine. "I'll get Connor..." At close range, Quarr's injuries looked even more terrible and she couldn't get rid of the heavy trembling of her hands as she dipped her fingers deeply into the amphora with her salve. Like she had done it so many times in her life before for one of her family members, she let her fingers with the salve glide over Quarr's skin, very cautious not to inflict any more pain to him.

Not stopping until all of her brother's wounds were treated this way, she covered all of the red with a thick layer of white. Sunken into a deep concentration, she didn't hear somebody approach and so winced when Tenalla suddenly asked next to her: "What can I do? I made some mud poultice." As soon as she recognized the source of the voice, her posture relaxed instantly and she gave the girl a short nod, pointing at a particularly large wound on Quarr's shoulder.

"I... I think it is best to cover this one with mud, it should help with the healing process." Not sure if Tenalla had ever done something like this before and if the sight of all of the blood was shocking her, she asked her quietly: "Do you... want me to do it?" Tenalla's only reply was a nod and she seemed to be relieved to be freed of this duty as she handed her the mud poultice.

Her hands quickly covered Quarr's shoulder with the cooling mud that kept the salve on its place and that bore healing qualities she had been able to witness several times before, then Anisa brought some bandages. "He can have these... He... He needs them more than I do..." After medicating all of Quarr's wounds with all available means, she exhaled deeply, releasing some of her inner tension, but her fingers were still quivering as she let them glide through Quarr's hair softly, whispering: "Brother... please wake up."

Only then she looked up towards Anisa and Tenalla next to her and when she noticed that Anisa was hurt almost as badly as Quarr, her still wet eyes widened instantly and guilt let her body tremble for not having noticed Anisa's horrible condition earlier. "Anisa... what... happened to you? Please sit down, these wounds look terrible!" The Aelleri's answer was only a quiet murmur. "I'm okay, Trisa... Just something in the mine attacked me..."

As she took a closer look at Anisa's wounds, she felt her shoulders tense again like they had done earlier when she had been treating Quarr's. But she didn't dare to start medicating the young woman's injuries right away, the remembrance of the hate in her eyes still too present, even though nothing of it seemed to be left now when she insecurely searched eye-contact with Anisa. Her own voice was no louder than Anisa's before, asking tentatively: "Quarr's wounds are already taken care of, would you... let me treat yours, too?"

"Yes..." Anisa didn't seem to be able to meet her eyes for longer than a second and looked at the ground instead, nodding a single time and revealing the large gash in her side to her by pulling her hands away. The sight stopped her breathing for a moment, but then she quickly recollected herself and repeated what her hands had performed on Quarr's tortured body before.

The tips of her fingers slid over Anisa's skin in a very soft manner, but nevertheless the fear of hurting the Aelleri even more, of breaking the first small bit of trust that had only just established between them, let her bite her lip before she dared to look back into Anisa's face, whispering: "S-sorry if it hurts, I try to be as cautious as possible."

The younger woman simply held her eyes closed in her obvious fight against her pain, her breaths getting short and sharp, but nevertheless she managed to endure the treatment bravely until she carefully bandaged the wound with some large fern leaves. Anisa finally dared to open her eyes again in a flickering movement of her eyelids, a small smile running over her face as she quietly spoke. "Thank you..."

That really none of the hate against her seemed to be left should have made her happy, but it only left a feeling of emptiness within her where her suppressed grief was still clenching its cold fist around her heart. But Anisa shared her grief, didn't deserve her coldness now that she had finally done the first step to getting along better in the future, so she forced the weak shadow of a smile onto her own lips, still determined to lock the overwhelming sadness within her away as long as Quarr and Anisa needed her help so badly.

Her hand reached out and ended up resting on Anisa's shoulder before she replied, her shivering voice revealing what she was trying to hide in her face. "You are welcome, Anisa. Please... try not to stand up for a bit, the wound really looks bad and your body needs rest."

Anisa still wasn't able to meet her gaze and fixed the grass beneath them with her eyes before she replied with a frown of guilt: "I'm sorry Trisa... a-about... You were right... You... it was all true, but I just didn't want to listen... I didn't want to believe it." Her words were followed by a quiet sigh as her eyes searched Quarr's yet unmoving shape. "I never should have hit you..."

Despite the coldness within her, Anisa's sincere remorse touched her and she felt the need to make Tasir's daughter feel better again, to lift the guilt from her shoulders like hers had been lifted in the moment her brother had been returned to her. Her hand remained on Anisa's shoulder as she spoke slowly: "It... is alright, Anisa. You not have to worry about that any longer, the day you hit me seems like... an eternity away now."

This couldn't have been more true. The moment Anisa had hit her, had glared at her with red eyes full of hate, but still resembling her father's so much, had seemed more than terrible back then. But now nothing of this mattered any longer, seemed so much like child's play in comparison to everything that had happened afterwards that they shouldn't even waste another thought on it. Lost in the remembrance, she stared at the grass for some time before slowly lifting her gaze towards Anisa again, shaking her head in a sad sigh. "But it is good to know that you hate me no longer."

In the meantime, Connor and Larkin had gathered around Quarr, anxiously watching his shallow breathing cause the only movement in his body. Connor's murmur seemed loud in the sudden silence on the hill, now shrouded in night's shadow after all of the evening had passed in the course of the medications. "He looks alive, but... he's not waking up... This is crazy..."

Larkin sat down next to her and she felt the warm touch of his hand on her back. "There were some spiders down there... could you make a bandage with the silk?" Cautiously, she took the silk into her hands that suddenly started to tremble anew. "I... need my knife for it, but..." She took in a deep, but shivery breath that couldn't hinder new sobs to emerge in her throat. "T-Tasir had... he... had my..."

Both of her hands wandered upwards, but quickly sank down again when Elisa walked outside, her quiet voice distorted in her torture as she glared towards Quarr. "Go back from whence you came, wraith. I will bear your torment no longer." With these words, she stumbled back into the mine without another look at Quarr, her eyes still shimmering in tears of pain and betrayal.

Elisa's reaction pushed her own tears back another time, left her in confusion, in disbelief and in desperation for the denial of the greatest gift the Spirit was able to donate, the gift that she herself would have given everything for. Unable to move, unable to think, she simply stared at the mine entrance for several seconds before finally finding her senses back and leaning forwards to bring the tips of her fingers onto Quarr's cheek in a gentle touch, whispering intensely: "Please wake up, brother."

After leaving her fingers on Quarr's only slightly warm skin for some moments, she felt for her crutch on the ground next to her and weakly got to her feet to follow Elisa into the mine in the same stumbling manner the Aelleri was moving in.
 
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