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On the 21st of Spring, a massive bird attacks in Lapis Park

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Built into the cliffs overlooking the Suvan Sea, Riverfall resides on the edge of grasslands of Cyphrus where the Bluevein River plunges off the plain and cascades down to the inland sea below. Home of the Akalak, Riverfall is a self-supporting city populated by devoted warriors. [Riverfall Codex]

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Safety Shattered

Postby Ashar on April 21st, 2015, 4:32 am

21st of Spring, 515AV
Lapis Park


Ashar rode slowly through the tangled trails of Lapis Park, both Kavran and mount content to take things easy for today. There was not much excitement to be had on a mere patrol through one of the interior parks of the city, especially on such a beautiful day, which was the reason why Ashar had chosen it. After the insanity of the last two seasons, there was no way that he could just put himself back into his normal routine as if nothing had happened. That coupled with the importance of his recent Rite gave Ashar a lot to think about, and he wasn't quite ready to return to working with the squads just yet.

His fists clenched on the reins, and the horse whinnied nervously. A moment later Ashar was petting his hand down the side of the horse's neck, soothing it and returning to the leisurely pace they were taking. Quite a good amount of anger was building up inside of him, but he was trying to be careful of how it was let out.

Then Ashar had to consider, what exactly was he angry at? For a few days now he'd had this vague sense of enmity toward something, but he had yet to identify what was putting him in this sour mood. He was annoyed that people had been making a lot of excuses lately like his father and uncle, but that wasn't really something that would send Ashar into a thunder. Jek's silence continued to sadden and worry Ashar, but it wasn't something that would really work him up. There was something roiling just beneath the surface of Ashar's mind, making him angry constantly and for no apparent reason.

The horse continued its meandering path through the park, taking turns at its leisure without waiting for Ashar to guide it. He must have been through the park frequently enough to have his own preferred route, not that Ashar minded. It gave adequate time to think, who was his anger directed toward? The answer was elusive, for no one he could think of seemed to increase his irritation any more than any other. Even when he considered the possibility that he was angry at himself it did no more click with him than any other possibility. Although he could not come to an answer, he did not give up. There would certainly be time to think about his anger later.

Instead, Ashar tried to focus on something more lighthearted. Looking around at the surrounding park, he watched the residents of Riverfall enjoy the late sunny morning, several setting up picnics amidst the tall grass sprouting out of the ground. They were laughing, smiling, generally enjoying themselves after the long winter.

Seeing people find pleasure in the day did something to lift Ashar's mood, but it did not banish his anger. Actually, noticing these people enjoy their day with such ardor seemed to perpetuate his temper. What was it that was bothering him so? These innocent people whom he had sworn to protect and served happily, their joy conserved his anger as much as his pride. What could these people possibly have done to anger him so?

A thought arose, but Ashar quickly banished it. Perhaps it was not anything that they were doing that was making him angry. Rather, perhaps it was something they were not doing, not acknowledging. The last two seasons were embroiled with apparent insanity, the entire city suffering a severe personality disorder. Ashar and Jek witnessed it firsthand, succumbing to it like all the others; it was Jek's actions during this period that were the reason for the dark brother's silence. So many things had happened during that season when people were not themselves, so many things that Jek in particular regretted. Actions unbecoming of certain characters, particularly the Kavran, which was a great source of shame for Ashar as well.

Maybe that was it. Two seasons of insanity had just occurred, and no one seemed to notice. Moreover, no one seemed to care. Few people Ashar had seen were acknowledging that it had even happened, instead just going about their day to day business as if nothing had been wrong in the first place. It felt as if people were in denial about all the hardships, the regrets and tragedies that occurred over the autumn and winter.

And that pissed him off.
Ashar is being renovated. Be patient!

"Do not try to fight yourself. Such is the road to chaos."
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Safety Shattered

Postby Marion Kay on May 30th, 2015, 9:31 pm

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Parks had never been something Marion particularly enjoyed; not because she didn't like nature, but because city parks had a tendency to harness and corrupt the wants of nature. She'd enjoyed them enough as a child -- whenever the beating heart of Alvadas had decided to grace the city with a park that was not some labyrinth of no escape. But now it was all spoiled by her realization of how irritatingly paradoxical they were. People seemed to believe that by twisting their surroundings into something pretty they were somehow appreciating or preserving its beauty. They had to bring it all under their control, force everything into a box. It was unnatural. It made her skin crawl.

But this park was somehow different, somehow... feral. Less touched by the suffocating morals men forced upon an arbitrary world like sailors on a Sunberthian whore. This seemed far more peaceful, and Marion cursed herself for not bothering to find it sooner. It was almost like a cluster of reality, ferns and fronds creeping unprettily from marshy shallows. It wasn't perfect, of course; there were too many paths, too many benches, and too many strangely colorful rock formations that seemed altogether out of place, though they peeked through the grasses like fractured mysteries in such a way that Marion wouldn't have been surprised if they'd rested here since the beginning of time.

It wasn't perfect, but it was the closest thing she'd felt to home since she began this arduous journey of hers.

Marion sat cross-legged on one of the many benches that periodically dotted the paths here, her boots discarded on the ground. Her eyes were closed while her other senses opened, and she pushed her focus outward. The air hung still against her skin, light and with only hints of the last vestiges of winter's chill. A muffled laugh carried its way towards her from somewhere on the other side of the marshes. behind her, Marion heard the lazy splash of fish, and somewhere to her right a cicada or frog started humming. From the distance came the steady clacking of... stones? No, hoof beats. And farther than that, a bird sent up an alarm call.

These things, small pieces of the world around her, came together to create something magnificent. Everything. It was vast and incomprehensible, entirely overwhelming. And in the face of everything, she became nothing. She was not Marion Kay. Marion Kay was something: a person with ego and ambitions and too many ties pinning her to the everything-ness around her. There was no Marion Kay here. Here, she was nothing. And when she was nothing, she could become anything. Infinite. Limitless.

With a snap of thought, her focus shifted inward to the vast blankness that enveloped her core. Her breath came steadily, controlled. In, out, like a cleansing motion through both body and soul. After a long moment, once the impurities that lingered on the edge of her consciousness were all but washed away, the glassy pool of her djed rose from the emptiness, cold and still. It was small at first, refreshing in its wet chill, its surface smooth and seemingly undisturbed. Perhaps even peaceful. But as it expanded, it grew from clear and clean to something that more closely resembled the landscape around her. The waters, previously capable of reflecting the blank expanse of her soul with all the accuracy of a mirror, turned dark and murky. Plants of all shapes and sizes sprouted from its depths, breaking the surface and dividing it into fractured pieces, the fringes bleeding over into something uneven and uncontrollable.

Before her mind's eye, what had been a meditative pond of thought transformed into a wintry morass, frost creeping its way across the tips of ferns and along the edge of the water. She had expected it. There was an impurity somewhere in her djed. A taint that had taken over, hijacking her mind and body. She'd noticed it the day after she'd created Iramon, the same unwanted presence that had plagued her during that morphing process cropping up once more. But it was more malicious that next day, no longer carrying with it tones of childlike innocence. It was darker, wilder, and she couldn't help wondering at the fact that she had felt two separate consciousnesses besides her own that day. There was the child... and there was the beast, that lurking creature, rageful and cunning while it tempted her forward with promises of power. Limitless power, it had crooned in words that no tongue had ever spoken, in exchange for control.

And Marion wondered, as she hovered along the twisted and foreign expanse of her djed, if by bringing forth that new and childlike presence she had somehow fed that beast. That voice she had felt clinging to the edge of her consciousness was not the voice of Iramon. It was that same tempting call of the beast in a different guise, pulling at her with sweet whispers of perfection that she could attain only if she pushed further and further and further still.

That was what had led her to this moment, this investigation into the heart of her djed. She had already known something was quite wrong, and the sight before her now only confirmed her suspicions. She skittered across the surface of her mind's marshes, the murk vibrating to life as she passed, crying out for her to touch, to shape, to bend to her will as she had so many times before. It begged for her plunge into the black waters, let it seep into her bones, let it mold reality to her standards, let it absorb and erase the burden of Marion Kay's existence, let it morph all that she was into all that she could be.

No. She refused to plunge her hands into her djed's depths, not this time. She held the power here. She had control. Or so she thought. But in that same moment, a small blue hand, covered in filth and sporting grotesque black claws where nails should've been, burst from the water. It snagged her consciousness in a vice grip, tugging her downwards while a dark and booming laugh echoed from somewhere far beneath the surface. How foolish, it seemed to say, that she thought she could avoid this. It was bound to happen.

It had always been bound to happen.

No.

Marion's eyes snapped open to the sensation of falling, of air winding past her ears and her body tilting forward off of its precarious position on the bench. There was no panic in her body, no adrenaline rush, no involuntary reflex to flinch or freeze. There was no room for fear in her body, and especially not when anger welled in her veins -- anger that she had failed, that she had allowed the unnatural to win, that she was wholly and painfully imperfect. She teetered forward and fell, rather unceremoniously, to the ground. Her face scraped gravel, and it was that brief moment of pain and surprise that grounded her once more in her own flesh, slamming a hard wall of self-identity between her consciousness and her djed.

The distance between the bench and the ground was not enough to do any real harm. Marion laid there for a tick, stunned and irritated not only by the impact but also what had transpired just a moment before. The mess of her djed, that dark presence... was it real? Was that beast still inside her, tainting her, or had she simply fallen asleep and it was her mind way of reaffirming the fact that something wasn't quite right? She had no way of knowing, but either way she was loath to try releasing her djed from its resting place in her core, at least for the rest of the day. Given time, she was sure her body would siphon out the impurities. It always did.

With a grunt of relief Marion readjusted herself, grit and pebbles crunching under her shoulders as she turned to lay on her back. She kept her legs propped on the bench, her calves hooked over the seat and her bare feet resting flat against the backrest. Her breath steadied once again as she stared up at the sky. A few wispy clouds drifted in front of the sun, and just below them a bird winged through the sky in lazy circles. Marion refused, now, to think of how large the world was. She refused to think of how she was nothing in comparison to it. In this moment it would only serve to remind her how woefully powerless she was, even over her own body.

Her eyes followed the trail of the bird across the sky -- until it began its descent and Marion realized how truly high it must have been soaring. From where she laid, it had appeared to be some large bird of prey. Maybe an eagle. But as it drew closer and closer to the earth, the outline of its form against grew impossibly larger. Its shadow raced across the ground like something out of Marion's childhood nightmares, and she might've mistaken the creature for a winged horse if it weren't for the bone-white talons glinting dangerously or the sharp outline of its hooked beak against the sky.

She watched it in abstract disbelief. For a moment Marion thought she must be seeing things, that this couldn't be real, that no bird was that big, but the sudden eruption of fear in the air proved her wrong. It was bittersweet, tinged with sourness, and the earthiness of instinctual and animalistic alarm of the creatures that inhabited the marsh soon gave way to more sentient forms of panic. She could see, even from here, that the bird's eyes were trained on prey located somewhere just beyond the nearby fronds, and as it swooped toward the ground there, a child screamed.
Show me a hero and I'll write you a tragedy.
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Safety Shattered

Postby Faradae on May 13th, 2017, 10:46 pm

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