[Featured thread] A Better Way

Zavya and Elias

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A city floating in the center of a lake, Ravok is a place of dark beauty, romance and culture. Behind it all though is the presence of Rhysol, God of Evil and Betrayal. The city is controlled by The Black Sun, a religious organization devoted to Rhysol. [Lore]

A Better Way

Postby Elias Caldera on February 20th, 2019, 11:02 pm

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Upon umber wings did his vision rest, and upon umber wings did his thoughts drift. They squabbled and scowled at him upon the ground, angry, embittered voices each demanding their own answers, their own explanation, but Elias’s eyes were distant and detached as the soldier beheld the panicked flight of the eagle across the night sky. The creature, the same one who had once been the herald of the Kelvic’s unified defiance, the same one who'd signaled the placement of the oil barrels and his people's impending victory, now fled in hapless terror from the institute -away from this wretched place, and away from wretched warden. He had considered raising a hand in its direction. It would be a simple matter for a ball of fire or a lash of lightning to end its route and cease its life, but as he watched the feathered creature fade into little more than a blur on the midnight horizon, he had to wonder, what would its message be? What would it tell the others had transpired this night?

No… let him run. Let him go back to his people with this tale. He will be my messenger, my herald. Upon his wings word of my wrath shall be carried, and they will know -they will all know- that Elias Caldera is coming for them all.

An obstinate squeeze upon his forearm returned the sorcerer back to earth and the more pressing matters that awaited him there. Fang released her hold upon him when his azure eyes fell upon her, the wolf’s pleading having been the catalyst for his reverie in the first place. She was desperate now and it showed, not just for the life of her child now wrapped tightly in her arms, but for her tiger’s as well. It was an unseemly look for the woman, one that did not fit the she-wolfs once fierce persona. Her fight was at end however, and no longer did she need to perform for an audience of her peers. A fact reflected in not only her eyes, but that of her son’s.

The Ravokian nodded begrudgingly at Fang’s request of leniency in the end. It was all she’d get from him for the time being. The golden huntress could keep her life, and her freedom, and least from the Caldera anyway.

Elias turned to the boy and summoned a friendly grin to the corner of his lip. “Didn’t I tell you, Cainen…” He muttered, raising his gauntlet up before his chest. In response, something in the air began to stir and shift. All around them their seemed to gather a distortion, like some haze coaxed forth from the ether. The bodies of the men and women who had fallen to his arcane trickery too began to stir as something within each and every one of them slowly crept its way up their chest and through their throats. Before long, dozens of tiny lights had slithered their way out of the fallen, passing between their lips and raising into the air in unison before eventually drifting over to the open palm that Elias held out. The lights, all a faint and faded shade of blue, and none bigger than a miza at most, began to coalesce and bond with one another into a churning orb within his hand. It was as dazzling a display of res as it was likely perplexing to any but the reimancer who controlled it… and the young boy who had witnessed its like once before. Elias's smile deepened. “'Not everything is as it appears.'

Cainen’s reaction was less amused than it was terrified as he clung harder to his mother’s waist. The Stryfer quelled his frown. In the end he could not blame the boy. How was he to appreciate the depths of magical control he had just borne witness to? Elias had dissipated and disseminated his res into the very air itself with masterful skill, shrinking the modules of res to such a tiny extent that on their own they were too minuscule to see with the naked eye and as equally harmless, yet when brought together in enough numbers, could form something just big enough to clog an airway, for example. All they required was the proper command and enough time to be maneuvered into position without rousing suspicion. A trying and lengthy process, one to which the façade of negotiations had played perfectly into the reimancer’s ploy.

The sorcerer made a brief sweep of his hand and the res was gone, disappearing completely this time and for good. Alas, the machinations of a maligned mage were far from the most pressing concerns held by the those before him, regardless of how magnificent. They had questions that demanded answers, some humble, some curious, some indignant. Elias turned his attentions on Amanda and through her answer, so too would all their queries be sated.

Six was the number of escapees you reported, yet before you lie nearly four times that number returned. I find that cause for… concern.” Elias explained reservedly. He turned next to Freya and leveled against her a knowing glare. “This has only served to solidify my suspicions that there is a contingent of escaped slaves hiding in the marshlands, the numbers and level of organization of which far exceed that of any of our predictions.” His stare hardened, and the wolf matched it undaunted. “There is an army on our doorstep, and I believe this was just the first attack.

Those people had nothing to do wi-” Fang began to loudly protest, but Elias shot the woman a look that silenced her in an instant. It wasn’t the kind of look that relied on intimidation, for that was not a realm to which the great wolf matron allowed herself to dwell. Instead, it was the eyes of a man trying to convey a plan without words, one that if Fang could not decipher right away, had at least convinced her to quiet her angst until she could.

I would have thought you’d be pleased, madam Nitrozian.” The pale soldier continued, addressing Amanda nonchalantly. “What was once lost is now returned to you, plus many in addition. Slaves to do with as you please, and no doubt many Kelvics among them to satisfy your demand for test subjects.

Until now the auburn hair scientist had been creeping closer and closer to the edge of fury. She’d clearly had more than enough of this day, these people, and all these gods damned distractions, and simply wanted it to be done and over with. It wasn’t until Elias's proposition however, that the Nitrozian began to consider the unspoken benefits of what she’d been forced to endure. Soon enough the spark of realization was burning in her hazel gaze.

If this is but a fraction of their number, once I’ve tracked down their nest rooted them out, you and the KRI will never lack for subjects again.” Elias continued, putting into words what her mind had clearly already pieced together.

Amanda swallowed, clearly as intrigued by this arrangement as she was caught off guard by it. The heir seemed to take a minute to mull it over, weighing her options carefully. “I see.” She replied cautiously after a while. “Then am I correct in assuming your little deal with… ‘Fang here was just a ruse then? Its not as if you’d actually lower yourself to negotiate with one of her kind in earnest.

Watch it, bitch.” The Kelvic growled, causing Amanda to flinch before sternly raising her nose up at the much bigger woman in typical aristocratic indignation.

I see we’ll have to break you of that impudent attitude all over again, young woman. No matter. I made sure to keep your cage just as you left it. It’ll be like you never even left.” Amanda sneered maliciously, but before Fang’s fury could flare into full blown violence, Elias interrupted.

The deal stands.” He warned. “Fang and her child will go free under my protection. No harm shall come to them. No chains shall bind them. Not as long as I live and breathe.” His voice echoed with the air of authority that may have been natural in its certainty, or just as much an illusion as the visions he’d imparted on the two Kelvics earlier. Either way, his words broached little room for argument, and even Amanda had been cowed into quiet acquiescence.

My men will arrive within the hour. They’ll have to collect these slaves for questioning first. In return, once were satisfied we have what we need from them, I’ll make certain they’ll all be transported into your facility’s custody without delay, of course.” Elias reminded himself he’d also need to make sure that KRI records showed both Freya and her child having perished in the revolt. Their deaths would solve a great deal of headaches down the line.

Of course.” Amanda retorted candidly, scrutinizing eyes darting between the other two women. “Naturally, I wish our city’s defenders all the luck in their hunt of these dastardly reprobates, and I shall make certain that my father hears word of your heroic service in our family’s name.” Her tone had shifted, turning around on itself and becoming something more practiced and practical. Being Ravokian, Elias recognized it at once and had to hand it to the woman, she could turn it on and off at the drop of the dime if she so chose. An impressive skill, but of everything he’d seen of her so far however, he knew none of that tact came naturally. This was a veneer one had to hone, just as he had done with his. Perhaps that was why she called this distant and walled off little slice of the lakeshore home instead of the politically rife Ravok itself. Out here, she didn’t have to bother putting on faces for the sake of others.

I eagerly await word of your success then, commander.” The scientist asserted, before looking about her and frowning. “I suppose I should have my staff disarm and bind your prisoners until your troops arrive. I think I shall also have them clean up the place while they’re at it. Normally a job for the chattel, but considering how particularly useless they’ve been of late, I might as well put them to work till they remind me they’re more useful than the slaves.” With that, the noblewoman departed, leaving the four of them to their devices as she traipsed back to the institute building, stopping only once to scowl at a puddle of oil she’d stepped in, and all the while mumbling something about ‘hiring new security.’

Elias and company watched her leave in bated silence, and it wasn’t until Amanda had disappeared beyond the doors and the distant and angry yelling at her employees began did Fang speak up.

You lied to her.” The wolf declared curiously.

The soldier released a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding before turning slowly to eye his accuser. “You are right.” He said, stone faced and derisive. “I do have a plan, and none of it involves answering to that crazy bitch.

Crazy bitch…” Came a tiny and aloof voice. When Cainen realized all three of the adults were now staring at him in disparate levels of shock, the boy went red as a beat and promptly buried his face into his mother’s hip.

If you’ve no love for that monster, then let the others go.” Freya pressed, emboldened by this concession. “They’ll disappear. Vanish. You’ll never see or hear from them again. I swear.

No.” The Caldera concluded flatly.

The Kelvic rebel stiffened at the denial, brow creasing in agitation. “They’re just a bunch of foolhardy slaves caught up in my fight. They’re no threat to-

They are mine until I say otherwise.

He could see her fist tightening now, her anger returning. She was not accustomed to be talked to so condescendingly it seemed, or as was more likely the case, all too familiar. For a moment however, that grievous look in her eye abated as she spared a quick glance over her shoulder. It changed again to something more supplicating as the wolf took a desperate step closer to him. “Then release Zavya. Give her the same freedom you gave me. She had nothing to do with the slaves in the swamp. She came only because I was fool enough to ask her. Let her come with me. Let her go free.

The Stryfer’s cold scrutiny shifted to the golden huntress, her aura still a radiating supernova of defiance belied by her new found timidity. In all honesty, the mage knew exactly what the girl was now feeling. He remembers his first time experiencing magic so otherworldly. It had been a humbling experiencing to say the least.

No.” Was once again the soldier’s reply. “The Valdinox slave will be returned to her masters. Her fate will be theirs’ to decide after that.

And how do I know you won’t just betray your word afterward. How do I know she’ll be safe?

It was Elias’s turn to spur his temper, taking one strident and resolute step forward towards the fuming wolf mother. He could see her old self returning again, that same prevalent insolence and rebelliousness, and while he may have appreciated it in his own way, his was not a will to be so openly questioned. “Enough!” The pale man growled. “There will be no more negotiations. No more bartering. Now, take this.” He exhorted, pulling free a bag full of coin from his belt. One he had prepared for just this occasion. “You should be grateful for-

In an instant the gold was slapped from his hand, the contents of the pouch sent scattering violently across the courtyard.

Grateful!?

Fang now trembled with her animosity, calloused hands balled into white knuckled fists at her sides. She reared back. The first blow across his jaw caught him off guard, his neck snapping against the force while the rest of him remained rigid and steadfast. “Did you think I would ‘thank you!?’ Did you think I would bow my head and kiss your feet!” The second blow came with more furor and precision than the last. Again the swordsman was rocked but held his ground, but this time as he slowly craned his blackened glower back to face the Kelvic, a trickle of blood now slithered its way from between his lip. He spat something off to the side, a tooth it looked like, golden and shiny.

For a moment…” Fang roared, “For just one moment there, I thought to myself 'maybe they’re not all the same. Maybe not all of you humans are the monsters I believed,' and you know what, I was right. You’re not like the rest, commander. You’re worse.

The wolf spat in his face, adding insult to injury before leaning in close and slowly snarling the last words of contempt she’d ever to utter to him.

I hope you burn in hell, Elias Caldera. It’s the least you deserve.

She turned and walked away without another breath wasted on the Ravokian, unable to stomach another glance at his pale scars or suffer his arrogance for another tick. Unfortunately, turning her back on one woe only bought her face to face with another, as she now found herself staring into the golden eyes of her only true friend in this world. The same friend she had so callously roped into this whole ordeal.

For the first time in her life, Fang couldn’t find the courage to speak the words she knew she had to.
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Elias Caldera
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