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  #856  
Old 02-01-2020, 07:20 AM
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Thanks, Alexa! I agree, I can't wait to explore more of their dynamic.
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Old 03-16-2020, 01:24 AM
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Awesome posts, Alexa and Glory! Sorry I haven't written for this RP in so long.




I rubbed my eyes sleepily as I wandered into the dining hall for breakfast the next day. Last night, I had been awoken suddenly when the commotion in the hallway. It wasn’t loud, but after those terror-filled weeks at the Dai Li training facility, I had become keenly attuned to even the slightest disturbance. I had listened for a few minutes to make sure it wasn’t a threat, but it seemed to be only the agents returning from their latest mission. I’d breathed a sigh of relief, but it had taken me a long time to get back to sleep.
When I went to sit down with my tray of food, I saw that everyone at the Gifted table were already chattering animatedly.
“What’s the big news?” I asked, stifling a yawn.
“You haven’t heard?” Stacia turned to me. “The rumors are all over the place! Apparently the agents who went to rescue Hanna got back last night, after escaping literal hordes of Dai Li! They had to fight their way past the King himself and his elite guard, after Ansell’s cover was blown.”
“Huh.” I raised an eyebrow. “Sounds exciting.” I felt a thrill go down my spine. I’d known the terror of being under the cold, cruel gazes of those Dai Li agents. It was hard for me to believe anyone could stand up to them, let alone win! And with such a small group of Clann fighters too.
Despite how new I was, I felt a rush of pride for our Clann agents. Their abilities really were incredible.
“How did they get out of the Capitol, though?” a boy sitting across from us wondered out loud. “I heard there’s a military blockade that runs for miles! With members of the Gifted army who have telepathic powers. And they spent a whole day and night in Dai Li territory before escaping. What were they doing there, I wonder?”
“Probably getting information on the King’s plans!” a girl piped up. “I’m sure that’s why the Council has been in meeting for hours. And it’s all true! I heard that they had to fight their way past three entire elite squadrons, including Captain Darklighter herself, and through the King’s council room, where all of the Dai Li were gathered, and one of our agents nearly assassinated the King!”
“No way!” the boy exclaimed.
“It’s true!” the girl insisted. “I heard it from Leila, who got it from Elisa, who got it from Darin, who heard it from Ansell himself!”

I heard a snort from behind me.
“If I know Ansell, he’s definitely embellishing things.” Haven sat down to join us. Despite her derisive words, she was grinning from ear to ear. She looked happier than I had ever seen her, a far cry from the angry, grief-stricken girl from a few days ago.
A younger girl was standing slightly behind her, looking shy and uncertain. A curtain of long blonde hair framed her small face, and the eyes that peered out at us were the same blue-gray as Haven’s.
“Everyone, this is my little sister, Rhea,” Haven introduced us, giving her sister a gentle push forward.
Joy gasped. “Haven, this is wonderful!”
“I’m glad they managed to save her!” Stacia exclaimed. “It’s so good to meet you, Rhea.”
I smiled at the young girl. “Hi Rhea, I’m Sierra. I was a prisoner of the Dai Li too. I’m glad you’re safe.” I felt a twinge of pain, deep in my stomach, as I thought of Willow. Still trapped in that horrible place, forced to fight and hurt her fellow Gifted just to survive. When would she have the chance to be rescued? Would she ever see the light of day again?
“Um… nice to meet all of you. Thank you for having me.” Rhea relaxed upon seeing everyone’s friendly and welcoming demeanor, settling in beside her sister and biting into a piece of toast. Soon she was digging in with gusto. I winced upon remembering the Dai Li’s tasteless gruel. All those days of having barely enough food to keep up our strength, while the agents laughed and feasted on the other side of the room.
“I know,” Hope murmured, sensing my thoughts. “Hard to believe we managed to survive, right?”
"But we did, and that's what matters." I squeezed her hand under the table. "I'm just so glad to see not one, but two families reunited."

Haven had been chatting away with the other kids at the table when a small boy of about nine years old entered the dining hall. Immediately, the bright smile slid off her face, to be replaced with an expression of anguish.
“Finn… I…” Haven’s voice is shaking. “I’m… glad to see you’re alright.” She got up, standing awkwardly by the table.
“No, it’s okay… you don’t have to leave,” Finn mumbled, not quite able to look her in the face.
“No, I – I’m sorry, Finn. I don’t know how to make this up to you, but I am so sorry.” She got up, and in a flash, disappeared out of the dining hall. Rhea glanced from the young boy to where her sister had disappeared, looking confused. A moment later, she stood up to follow Haven.

Before I could ask what was going on, Nyna and the Council of Elders swept into the room, looking as poised and regal as ever, though the stress and anxiety showed in the tight expressions on several of the Elders’ faces.
“Attention, everyone!” Nyna clapped her hands. “By now, I’m sure you’ve heard about our agents’ recent mission to the Dai Li Capitol. While some of the tales may be a little exaggerated – “ she grinned. “ – The bravery of our agents and Gifted, their strength and determination to stand up for what is right and defend our family – that’s what I want all of you to take away from this. Together, we are strong, and together, we will beat back this force that has been a dark shadow upon all of us for so long.”
The dining hall erupted into cheers. We all stood up to clap and lend our voices to the rising crescendo of uproarious approval.
“But,” Nyna raised a hand for silence. “Our work is far from done. This is not the time to get complacent, and even as we speak, our enemies are plotting their next move.”
The mood in the room abruptly became somber once more.
“What our agents have learned on their mission to the Capitol was this.” Nyna took a deep breath. “King Adonis is planning to sign a treaty with Queen Adalia of Noorwind. He wishes to enlist her aid in his war against the Gifted.”
Dead silence in the room. A chill went down my spine. We were barely able to hold back the Dai Li as it was. How could we hold up against an attack from both Adonis and the Noor?
“Rest assured, though this news may seem grave, that the Council and all of our agents are working tirelessly to keep all of you safe. This is simply another development in our ongoing war, and we will prevail against it, just as we always have!” Nyna declared. “We’ve already sent two very capable agents to scout out and monitor the King’s negotiations with Noorwind. In the meantime, we plan to send our own peace delegation, to the neighboring kingdom of Cerrawen. King Arwin and Queen Elyssandra have long been known to be sympathetic to the Gifted. If all goes well, we may be able to form an alliance of our own.”
There were hopeful and excited murmurs throughout the room. Nyna smiled. “To show that we are truly dedicated to our cause and sincere in our efforts, we will be sending a delegation party made up of both Clann agents and Gifted. I will be going myself, this time, as one of the Clann’s leaders, so we can show the King and Queen how serious these negotiations are to us. For safety reasons, I will only be taking along Gifted who are at least fifteen years of age. Are there any volunteers?”

There was quiet for a moment.
“I’ll go.” I spoke up first, and all eyes turned to me. “I was taken prisoner by the Dai Li, after all, and trained to be in their Gifted army. I can give a first-hand account of what it’s like there, the cruel and inhuman treatment we all received. I’ll make them understand how bad things have gotten in Alagaesia for the Gifted.”
“I will as well.” Nik spoke up. “I should be there to show Cerrawen that we are not all like my father. As crown prince, my presence will give extra weight to these negotiations,” he stated, eyes glinting with steely determination.
A ripple of shock swept through the crowd. Wait. This Nik's real identity was... the crown prince Nikko? King Adonis's own son? He had been with us all through the last battle, and from what the others said, the past several weeks as well. He has fought with us, laughed with us, chatted and ate alongside Clann and Gifted alike. And this whole time, he had been the son of our sworn enemy. The son of our sworn enemy... and also a Gifted himself.
And he had just volunteered for this mission as a delegation from the Clann. It was a message, clear as day, that he was choosing to reject his father's cruel empire and side with us.
“If it’s alright, I’d like to come as well,” Stacia added, after the shocking murmurs around the room had faded. “The Clann took me in when I had nowhere else to go. You saved me from the Dai Li and gave me a home. I’d like to help protect it however I can.”
“Thank you, all of you. Sierra, Nikko, Stacia.” Nyna smiled. She had known who Nikko was all along, I realized. Despite the shock, I sensed no hostility or distrust in the room. He was one of us now.
“The Clann thanks you for your bravery. Please, go now and prepare yourselves. The Council will begin planning the details of our negotiation immediately." Nyna stood up. "After our scouting party returns with news on the King's meeting with the Queen of Noorwind, this will be our next mission. We shall depart in two days' time, at nightfall. Hopefully we can make it past the Dai Li patrols under cover of darkness. By the morning after, we should arrive at the royal court of Cerrawen.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~

Two days later...

The sun was just rising over the horizon when we arrived at the border the next morning. To our dismay, there was a squad of Dai Li agents, pacing the only entrance to the bridge that separated Alagaesia from Cerrawen. We had been lucky so far, under the cover of darkness, and had made it here without having been seen by any of the patrols. But now, we were stuck, for there was no other way to cross over to Cerrawen.
“This isn’t good,” Talia whispered. “I didn’t expect there to be so many of them, considering the situation at the Capitol. It seems the King is putting heavy patrols around all the borders of Alagaesia, probably to prevent us from sneaking any Gifted out of the country before the incoming war.”
“But that means he’d be spreading his forces thin then?” I asked.
Nyna nodded. “That’s one good thing. He won’t have the manpower to terrorize villages at the moment, so we don’t have to worry much about saving individual Gifted for now.”
“If I know my father, he’s planning to wipe us all out in one fell swoop,” Nikko said grimly. “So it doesn’t matter to him if he lets a few slip away temporarily.”
The word “us” hung in the air. It occurred to me suddenly, that if all went well, and we were somehow able to overthrow Adonis and his tyrannical regime, this young man in front of me would become the next King. He had the compassion for it, I could sense that through my own empathetic abilities. I wondered, then, what an Alagaesia with Nikko as its ruler would be like.
Perhaps the people could finally live their lives in some semblance of peace, without the constant threat of the Gifted and Dai Li struggle hanging over us all.
“It’s okay,” Stacia reassured. “We planned for this, right? So what if there are a few more Dai Li than we expected?”
“Yeah. True,” I said, not quite able to hide the nervous quaver in my voice. The thought of being recaptured by the Dai Li, placed in chains and forced to fight for my life again, chilled me to the bone. You chose this, Sierra, I reminded myself. It was your choice to come, so calm down! Talia gave my hand a reassuring squeeze.

“What is your business here?” one of the guards met us halfway across the clearing as we stopped in front of the tree line. I cast my eyes over the rows of Dai Li agents behind him, noticing one that was strangely diminutive, at least a full two heads shorter than any of the other guards. That one was stationed directly next to the bridge that we had to cross, a good several yards away.
Ezra spoke first, keeping his voice low and gruff as to be unrecognizable. “We are Gifted hunters, sir. It has been a while since a shipment has come from Cerrawen, isn’t that right?”
One of the King’s many despicable decrees was sending groups of mercenaries disguised as merchants and traders across the border to Cerrawen, to capture unsuspecting Gifted and bring them back for his army. They were hailed as heroes and given generous rewards upon returning. Gifted in Cerrawen were not nearly as used to being hunted as those in Alagaesia, and were often easy targets.
The guard eyed us with some suspicion. “I thought His Majesty wanted to halt all Gifted capturing activities while he dealt with the Clann situation?”
“That directive was for those highly trained agents, the Dai Li,” Nyna explained calmly. “His Majesty does not wish for such elite agents to busy themselves with menial tasks such as capturing individual Gifted at times like these. But we are hunters, freelance mercenaries, and our services are still of use to him.”
All that time she had spent addressing crowds of hundreds at the Clann’s rallies made her well-prepared for this. She responded to all his questions confidently, neatly dodging the ones we could not answer, her voice never wavering. Until, at last, the guard nodded in satisfaction.
“You’re free to go. Happy hunting,” the guard grinned at us in obvious pleasure. “Show those Cerrans that the only place where the Gifted belong is on a leash, as His Majesty’s personal pets.” I felt my skin crawl at those words.
We had almost walked past all the Dai Li agents at the entrance to the bridge when one of the cloaked figures, the unusually short one, suddenly stiffened.
“These aren’t hunters!” the small figure cried out, his hood flying back. I saw to my shock that he must have been no more than ten years old. A Gifted. One so very young. Hope and I barely managed to survive that place… how does a child bear it? The pain, the terror, being forced to hurt people just like you.
But that momentary shock was soon replaced by horror as the little boy proclaimed, “They’re agents from the Clann! And Gifted!” Oh no. A telepath! I felt my heart hammering in my chest. The King had never deployed his Gifted army to the border patrols before. And this one was so young…
There was a moment of dead silence, as those words hung in the air. Then, in unison, the Dai Li agents flanking the bridge drew their swords, steel glinting in the pale dawn light.

“Run for it!” Talia shouted.
We all rushed forward. Talia and Ezra shoved their way past the Dai Li attempting to block their path, pushing them aside with the hilt of their swords. Stacia abruptly vanished before our eyes, and I allowed my own Gifts to take over. My body shrank, sprouting wings, and I flew into the air as a small hawk. I saw one of the Dai Li swing his sword at Nyna, but Nikko materialized out of nowhere and yanked her out of the way. I flew at the guard’s face, striking out with my talons, and he tried to bat me away with his arms.
“Thank you, both of you. Keep going!” Nyna gasped. Stacia and Nikko reappeared next to us, and we ran, the Dai Li hot on our heels.
Shouts and furious cries erupted as a squadron of soldiers from Cerrawen appeared out of the trees. They flanked us on all sides, and pushed back against the onslaught of Dai Li agents.
“Get off our land, Alagaesians!” one of the soldiers snarled. “Unless you’re looking to incite a war.”
“Several criminals are attempting to escape over the border!” the Dai Li leader exclaimed, gesturing to us. “We have the right to bring them to justice.”
“They are on our turf now, and we will be the ones to decide what to do with them,” the Cerran soldier snapped. “We will send them over to you if we deem it appropriate. Now get back to your own country!”
There was a tense stand off that lasted for several minutes.
“Fine. Deal with them as you wish. But the moment any of them tries to cross back over, they will be ours,” the leader of the Dai Li growled at last. He lifted a hand to signal to his troops, and they filed back across to the Alagaesian side of the border.
I repressed a shudder. We’d cross that bridge when we got to it, so to speak.

The leader of the Cerran warriors looked us over coldly. “And what, exactly, are a ragged group of Alagaesian criminals doing sneaking over the border at the crack of dawn?” Her hand rested on the hilt of her blade, an obvious threat.
“Please, we’re not here to fight.” Nyna took a step forward. “We mean you no harm, we only wish to talk.”
“We’re from the Clann, an organization that seeks out and protects the Gifted from the King’s wrath,” Ezra added.
“I’ve seen what you Alagaesians have been doing to your own people, to children,” one of the other soldiers snapped. “Why should we believe anything you say?”
At this, Stacia stepped forward. “Because we are Gifted, too.”
“And believe me, I know very well what the Dai Li are capable of,” I lifted my arm, slowly to show that I didn’t intend to fight, and pulled back my sleeve to show the raised red marks from the chains that had circled my wrists. “I was among those who were taken from their families and forced to fight at the King’s whims. If you really care about the Gifted, then please listen to us.”
“We need your help,” Nikko added, materializing out of nowhere next to the captain. She jumped backwards in shock as he pulled back his hood. “I am Nikko, Crown Prince of Alagaesia. And… I’m a Gifted too. I’ve renounced my father and his ways, and have allied myself with the Clann and their cause.”
There were murmurs among the Cerrawen soldiers, in tones of both surprise and intrigue. The hostility in the air had faded somewhat, and I breathed a sigh of relief.
“Please,” Talia said. “Take us to your king and queen.”
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Last edited by Night Wish; 03-16-2020 at 03:06 AM.
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  #858  
Old 03-17-2020, 04:44 AM
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Liri Dazzlebeam Liri Dazzlebeam is offline
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Fantastic post Night! I love how Nikko is starting to come into his own!

Here we gooooo!!!


Finn

I woke up in the morning to the sound of someone walking around in the room. I blinked sleepily, then saw Ren putting a cloak and boots on.
“Ren?” I asked.
“Hey there ke’chara, glad to see you awake,” she replied, and came to give me a hug.
“Where are you going?” I asked, a knot of fear coiling in my stomach.
“I have to go away for a while, but I promise I will be back as soon as I can.”
“No! Don’t leave me alone! What if -” I burst out, clutching onto her hand with desperation.
“Hey hey hey! Hush sweetling, I won’t leave you all alone. Nik will be here, remember him? He promised to look out for you while I’m gone. Nyna and Talia too, plus Hanna and Ezra. They all will have your back, and you can go to any of them for anything you need. And I will come back as soon as I can, promise!” I reassured him, and hugged him close again. “Everything is going to be alright, love.”

Just then, there was a knock on the door. Ren called for them to come in, and Ansell opened the door, with Nik standing behind him.
“Ready?” Ansell asked, and I looked to Ren, pleading with my eyes for her to stay.
“I’ll be back soon, sweetling, I promise,” she whispered to me, giving me one more hug, then nodding to Ansell.
“Come on Finn, let’s get something to eat,” Nik said, holding out an arm for me. I slowly crossed the room, and Nik put his arm around my shoulders. He lead me out of the room, talking about things I had missed, though I didn’t hear much at first.
“And then, they escaped the entire Dai Li army!” He was saying when I started listening. I looked up at him sceptically, and he laughed. “What? Don’t believe me? Ask Ezra here!” Nik replied, as Ezra walked up next to us. “”Ez, tell him!”
“About our daring escape? You really missed out kid!” Ezra replied, then started telling the dramatic tale.

“Wow!” I replied when he finished, as we walked into the dining hall, “That sounds epic! I’m glad you are all ok.”
“We’re all fine, and we are all just glad that you are ok, kid!” Ezra replied, patting me gently on the back.

I looked around the dining hall, and saw her, her face paling to white with anguish. I froze, then looked down.
“Finn… I…” Her voice shook. “I’m… glad to see you’re alright.” She got up, standing awkwardly by the table.
“No, it’s okay… you don’t have to leave,” I mumbled, not quite able to look her in the face, shaking a bit.
“No, I – I’m sorry, Finn. I don’t know how to make this up to you, but I am so sorry.” Then, in a flash, she disappeared out of the dining hall. I watched her run out, then noticed a girl who looked about my age. She glanced at me, then followed Haven out of the dining hall.
Before I could ask anyone who the girl was, Nyna and the Council of Elders swept into the room, looking as poised and regal as ever, though the stress and anxiety showed in the tight expressions on several of the Elders’ faces.
“Attention, everyone!” Nyna clapped her hands, but I didn’t hear the rest of what she said, lost in my worries about Ren and Ansell, and about Haven.

“I will as well.” Nik spoke up from beside me, shaking me from my thoughts. “I should be there to show Cerrawen that we are not all like my father. As crown prince, my presence will give extra weight to these negotiations,” he stated, eyes glinting with steely determination.

A ripple of shock swept through the crowd, and I stared up at my friend’s face in surprise. Wait. Nik is... the crown prince? Prince Nikko? King Adonis's own son? He had been with for weeks! He was with me when we had to hide during the battle! The son of our sworn enemy... and also Gifted himself.
And he had just volunteered for something, something I had missed because I was spacing out! Plus, while I was stunned about who he really was, I missed the rest of the conversation about what it was he had just volunteered for!

I realized then that I was gripping his hand tightly, afraid that he was leaving too and I would be alone here. Nik - Nikko - looked down at me, and gently squeezed my hand back in reassurance.
“Hey, don’t worry, we aren’t leaving until Ren gets back. We won’t leave you alone, promise.” He said softly, and I breathed a sigh of relief.



Ren

I watched Finn leave the room with Nikko, hating to leave him alone right after he woke.
“He’ll be alright, Nikko’s got him,” Ansell whispered, and I nodded, taking a deep breath.
“Let’s go, we have a long way to go.” I state, picking up my bag. We head to the stables, and find they have already gotten two horses ready for us. We thank the Clann members, and ride off in silence.

I watch Ansell out of the corner of my eye, hoping he will say something. We have barely spoken since I heard his mental call for help and come with the team to rescue them from the Dai Li. Not through the entire time spent at his father’s home, or the entire ride back to Clann… not when we got back either, and then Finn woke, and now here we are, riding in awkward silence.

I remembered how relieved I had been to find him, relieved he was ok and relieved I wasn’t going crazy - his mind voice had been real. I remembered how he’d whispered that I was amazing. Then how he’d shut me out, how I’d been filled with doubts and almost closed myself off behind my own walls. Then I’d noticed how his hands had shook as he led our horse towards his father’s house, noticed the slight amount of fear leaking through his shields, and all I felt was worry for him. I had steadied his hands, and tried to just be a supportive presence, not asking questions. All I had were the stories I had heard about his father while in the Dai Li, but I knew nothing besides the rumors.

There had been that moment, getting out of the carriage, when his mask had cracked a little, and I thought he might say something, but then his grinning mask returned, along with the shields to shut me out. I had told him I would be here whenever he was ready, and I hoped he would tell me when he was ready. But to this moment I was still being shut out by him, whether through shields and silence or through shields and jokes. I almost spoke up at various times, but each time just fell silent again instead, not knowing what to say.

The silence dragged on.

I tried to focus on the path I was taking, and on remaining vigilant for any Dai Li. I lowered my shields some so I could “listen” for nearby minds. The whole day passed this way, with us traveling at a fast but sustainable speed, only stopping to rest when the horses needed food and water. We ate in the saddle, and when we did stop to take care of the horses, we only spoke a little of commonplace things, then continued the ride in silence again.

When the sun was growing lower in the sky, I finally spoke.
“We should probably make camp for the night.”
“Good idea. Know any good spots nearby?” He replied. I thought a moment, then nodded and started leading him off the path towards a secluded grove with a cave.
“We can light a small fire, we should be far enough from anyone else. I can’t sense anyone close by.” I state, dismounting and tying up my horse before taking off it’s tack and rubbing it down. Ansell did the same, then he gathered firewood while I fed the horses and set up our bedrolls in the cave. Ansell arranged the wood just outside of the cave, then lit the fire, and we both pulled out the food we had brought with us, sitting down to eat by the fire.

I watched the sun slip below the horizon while I ate, very conscious of Ansell sitting nearby and how we still had barely spoken since that night.
“Sooo…..” I finally said, then trailed off again, trying to figure out how to bridge the chasm that had formed between us over the past few days. “Nyna packed these in our bags. Not sure what to do with them though.” I finally stated, pulling out a weird packet of things.
“What?!” Ansell exclaimed, taking the packet from me, “You’ve never had a s’more before?!” He gasped dramatically, putting a hand to his chest and feigning being scandalized.
“Um. No. What’s a s’more?” I ask, in a quiet voice, feeling ridiculous.
“Wait, you’re serious. You’ve really never had a s’more before?!” He cried out, looking seriously shocked now. I shrugged my shoulders helplessly.
“I didn’t exactly have a normal childhood…” I trailed off.
“Well! Time to fix your lack of s’more knowledge! You came to the right guy for the job, I just so happen to be a S’more Expert!”




(Poor Ren, never had a s'more before! And yes, Night and I decided s'mores have to exist in this world. Who cares if it might not make sense. S'mores are important )
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  #859  
Old 03-22-2020, 06:21 PM
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Great post Liri!



I saw the way Lyren watched Finn leave the room with Nikko, clearly hating to leave him alone so soon after he woke.
“He’ll be alright, Nikko’s got him,” I whispered, and she nodded, taking a deep breath.
“Let’s go, we have a long way to go.” Lyren stated, picking up her bag. We headed to the stables and found that they had already gotten two horses ready for us. We thanked the Clann members, and rode off in silence.
I could feel her watching me out of the corner of her eye, hoping I’d say something. We have barely spoken since she had heard my mental call for help and came with the team to rescue us. Not through the entire time spent at my father’s home, or the entire ride back to Clann… not when we got back either, and then Finn woke, and now here we are, riding in awkward silence.
I remembered the relief on her face when she had found us, just when we had needed her most. Like a vision out of a fantasy, fierce and blindingly beautiful. And in return, I had shut her out, despite how I had coaxed her out from the shadows of her own doubts, once. Yet she had reached out to steady my hands, and tried to just be a supportive presence, not asking questions. All she had were the stories told about my father while in the Dai Li, and I knew she had to be burning with questions.
There had been that moment, getting out of the carriage, when she had told me that she would be here whenever I was ready, and I had almost cracked. The walls I’d built to keep the world out felt hollow, fragile, about to topple with the slightest push. But I simply couldn’t find the words.
I still couldn’t.
To this moment I was still shutting her out, whether through shields and silence or through shields and jokes. I could tell she’d almost spoken up several times, but just fell silent again instead, not knowing what to say.

The silence dragged on.
I tried to focus on the path we were taking, and on remaining vigilant for any Dai Li. The whole day passed this way, with us traveling at a fast but sustainable speed, only stopping to rest when the horses needed food and water. We ate in the saddle, and when we did stop to take care of the horses, we only spoke a little of commonplace things, then continued the ride in silence again.
When the sun was growing lower in the sky, Lyren finally spoke.
“We should probably make camp for the night.”
“Good idea. Know any good spots nearby?” I replied, relieved to finally break the silence. Lyren thought for a moment, then nodded and started leading us off the path towards a secluded grove with a cave.
“We can light a small fire, we should be far enough from anyone else. I can’t sense anyone close by.” She stated, dismounting and tying up her horse before taking off its tack and rubbing it down. I did the same, then gathered firewood while Lyren fed the horses and set up our bedrolls in the cave. I arranged the wood just outside of the cave, then lit the fire, and we both pulled out the food we had brought with us, sitting down to eat by the fire.
I watched the sun slip below the horizon while I ate, very conscious of Lyren sitting nearby and how we still had barely spoken since that night.
“Sooo…..” she finally said, then trailed off again. “Nyna packed these in our bags. Not sure what to do with them though.” She finally stated, pulling out a packet of delicious goodness.
“What?!” I exclaimed, taking the packet from her, “You’ve never had a s’more before?!” I gasped dramatically, putting a hand to my chest and feigning being scandalized.
“Um. No. What’s a s’more?” Lyren asked, in a quiet voice, looking awkward.
“Wait, you’re serious. You’ve really never had a s’more before?!” I cried out, with genuine horror now. She shrugged her shoulders helplessly.
“I didn’t exactly have a normal childhood…” she trailed off.
“Well! Time to fix your lack of s’more knowledge! You came to the right guy for the job, I just so happen to be a S’more Expert!”

In no time, the two of us were holding a pair of sticks over the fire, with fat marshmallows skewered on the ends.
“The trick,” I told her, putting on my best “wise old scholar” voice. “Is to hold the marshmallow over the fire, at just the right angle, and turn it slowly, but not too slowly, until it has been browned on all sides. The trick is in the timing. Not long enough over the fire, and it won’t reach the optimal gooey texture to hold your s’more together. Too long, and it will get burnt.”
“Like this – oh!” Lyren exclaimed as her marshmallow abruptly caught fire. She yanked back the stick, but it was too late. The blackened marshmallow fell into the flames.
“Do not fret, my dear disciple. It takes many campfire trips and the sacrifice of countless marshmallows to properly learn the art of making a perfect s’more”, I said solemnly. We both glanced at each other, then burst out laughing. After all the stress and heart-pounding escape of the days prior, it felt good to laugh like this.
I gave her one of my already-toasted marshmallows, and we stuck them between slices of chocolate and layers of graham crackers. Lyren closed her eyes as she bit into hers, savoring the delectable sweetness.
“I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on these my whole life,” Lyren turned and grinned at me. “Don’t hold out on me now – what other sweets do you know how to make?”
I laughed and leaned back. “I’m afraid that the making of s’mores is the only culinary art I’ve mastered thus far. But when we get back, I’ll have the Clann chefs introduce you to a whole new world of mouthwatering pleasures.” My smile faded a bit as I added, more softly. “Lucien taught me how to roast marshmallows, when I was five.”

There was silence for a bit, and I was afraid that we were going to slip back into that awful tension from the ride here again. I was about to open my mouth, searching for something to say, when Lyren spoke up.
“I’m sure Skyf would have loved them,” she said wi****lly. “He always did have a major sweet tooth.”
The mention of her brother broke the dam between us. I looked into her eyes, and there was no going back now. She had shared with me the deepest, most vulnerable parts of herself, laying it bare between us with such bravery. Now, it was my turn, and I chose at last to put my faith in the soft, fragile thing that had blossomed between us.
“What was your brother like?” Lyren asked softly.
“He was my light,” I said simply. “All of ours, actually. He was like the sun – warm and gentle one moment, blazing with passion the next. Everyone seemed to gravitate towards him, whether it was our father’s household and fellow Dai Li, or those at the Clann.”
I could have lowered my shields, let her see the thoughts that had been choking me for so long. But it didn’t feel right, somehow. I let her in just enough to see the images behind the words. But the words themselves, I had to say out loud. They were a confession.
Mea culpa. My cross to bear.
“My better half.” I smiled. “He was the one who always spoke up for what was right, and was never afraid to take a stand. He’d move heaven and earth to protect the things that were important to him, take on the whole world if that’s what it took. That’s why it – why it hurt so much that he didn’t want to punish Father for what he did.” I sighed. “But in the end, he was right, of course. Because really, there’s no pursuit as hollow and worthless as revenge.”
Lyren put a hand over mine as she watched me struggle to find the right words. “It’s alright,” she said gently. “I do want to know the truth, but I can wait until you’re ready. Just know that I’m here.”
“I’m sorry,” I offered her a small smile. “You deserve to know. It’s just – I’ve never spoken any of this out loud before. The others had already known.”

I took a deep breath. “Most of the rumors surrounding what my father did are true. He wasn’t – he wasn’t always like that, so ruthless and calculating. I remember him being a kind father, when we were children.” I smiled a bit wi****lly. “We had been a happy family, once.”

“Ansell!” Lucien called out in exasperation. “Where did you go?”
“Boo!” I stuck my head out of the thick branches of the oak tree in our back yard, grinning as my brother jumped backwards, startled. I hung upside down from the thickest branch, hanging on by my legs as I stuck my tongue out at him.
Luc rolled his eyes good-naturedly at my antics. I’d been six years old, Lucien ten, and our father had just been invited to dine with the King at his palace for the first time. It was a great honor, and we had been preparing for weeks. And by preparing, I meant attending the most boring of lessons involving palace decorum, the proper way to walk, talk, and address the nobility, not to mention – I shuddered just thinking about it – dance practice.
I heard Dad’s booming laugh as he pushed his way past the willow boughs hanging over the small pond on our estate. “You got your brother well and good, didn’t you, my little monkey?”
“Oh dear.” Luc pulled me out of the tree and pinned me to the grass, tickling me all over. I tried to wiggle out of his grasp, squealing. “What have we here? A spy, hiding in the trees?” he teased. “You’ll get no mercy from me!”
I rolled away, tossing a handful of grass and dandelions at my older brother. “You just wait! When I grow up, I’m going to be the bestest spy ever, and you’ll never be able to catch me!”
Lucien laughed. “Now that, I would love to see.”
“What is going on over here?” Mom strode over to us across the lawn, the train of her elegant gown trailing over the grass. She put her hands on her hips, looking over each of us in turn. “We have less than three hours to get dressed, and look at all of you! Ansell, you’ve got dirt and grass stains all over your clothes, and Lucien, are those twigs in your hair? Maxime, you had better not be encouraging this!”
Dad laughed. “Oh, let them have a little fun, Amélie. They’re going to be stuck at the royal court for the whole evening, and we know how stuffy and boring that place is.”
Mom rolled her eyes at him, but the corners of her lips were turned upwards in a smile. “Is that how the illustrious Lord Gervais speaks about his king’s palace?” she scolded. “Someday, Lucien will inherit the title and your place on the council. Isn’t it about time you start setting a good example?”
“Hmm… you’re right, of course, darling. I should not be encouraging their lack of decorum.” Dad hung his head as if chastened, but when Mom turned her back, he winked at us. “I heard that the first opportunity where you can politely excuse yourselves is after the third course,” he said to us in an exaggerated stage whisper. “Then you can escape out to the gardens until dessert is served!”
“Oh, honestly!” Mom threw up her hands at all of us as Lucien and I dissolved into giggles.

“But constantly being around the Dai Li changed him,” I continued. “It was a mess of political machinations and backstabbing, with the various lords and ladies in constant struggle for the barest scraps of power. To stay alive and keep his position, Father had to be wary of everyone and everything around him. It made him… harder, more paranoid, and more desperate. With each passing year, holding onto power became more difficult, as our family was small and had few allies. As such, Father had to become ever more ruthless to keep in the King’s good graces.”

Lucien and I peered through the crack in the door, watching as Dad paced back and forth, restlessly. Mom watched him, intent and filled with some emotion we could not understand.
“I don’t have a choice,” Dad muttered, hands pulling at his hair. “I didn’t! If the King had found out – if – “ he broke off.
“He was a good friend to us,” Mom murmured, and her voice was so strained. Was it anger? Resentment? Guilt, or regret?
“I know!” Dad threw his hands in the air. “But as soon as he told me he was a Gifted sympathizer, I knew I had to tell the King. If he thought we might turn against him, betray him… You know how His Majesty feels about those abominations, Amélie. Our family would have been ruined.”
“And instead, Elias’s family was,” Mom’s voice was almost accusing. She stood to face him. “You could have at least tried to reason with His Majesty, asked for a lighter sentence! Whatever Elias believed in, he was always loyal to the King. And his family was innocent.”
“I wanted to! Of course I wanted to!” Dad said, his voice breaking. He buried his face in his hands. “If only I had the power to sway him… but the dukes who wanted Elias gone held too much sway at Court. If I’d spoken out, they would have turned against me, too.”
Mom’s face softened. She walked over and put an arm around him. “I know it’s difficult,” she whispered. “But surely… surely there’s a better way than simply giving in to all their cruel desires?”
“I need to do this to keep us all safe, Amélie,” Dad whispered. He clenched his fists. “I’m sorry. I know it isn’t right. But I must do what I have to, to keep my place at Court secure.”
Mom watched him with an expression of unbearable sadness. “I understand you have to make hard decisions, Maxime. But please… please don’t forget who you are. Don’t ever lose sight of the man I fell in love with.”

“When my sister was born, we were happy, at first,” I said. “But… it didn’t take us long to realize she had Gifts. They can manifest at any point in life, and for my sister, it came when she was only six months old. Some burglars broke into our house and tried to kidnap her. She managed to escape their grasp by… floating away. As you can imagine, my father was horrified. He tried to hide the truth of her abilities, at first. But once a Gifted has manifested powers, they cannot be hidden for long, especially for a baby with no control. Soon, the King came to take her away, and along with Meira, he demanded that my mother be punished for giving birth to a Gifted.” I showed her the memory of our desperate flight from my father’s manor in the middle of the night.
“I wasn’t there when the Dai Li dragged Mom, with Meira still in her arms, in front of Adonis for her trial. I was still too young to be present at Court, which is why you didn’t know of me. From what I heard from the Dai Li, Father didn’t speak of us much after we left. But later, I got Lucien to tell me what had happened that day.”

“Take the child away,” King Adonis said coldly, his eyes glinting with malice. “There is no place for such an abomination in our world, except to be beaten down until they are no more than a tool of my empire. Otherwise, their evil would run rampant.”
“Please… please, Your Majesty,” Mom whispered, on her knees. Tears streamed down her face. “She’s just a baby. At least, allow me to raise her into adulthood. I swear I’ll keep her Gifts from causing any trouble.”
“Silence!” The King snarled. “This is on you, too, for clearly your blood is tainted. Otherwise, how could a member of my own council have sired such an offspring?”
Dad started forward. “Your Majesty, please, my wife – “
King Adonis turned on him. “Will you join her in this treachery then, Lord Gervais?” He sneered. “It is time you chose where your loyalties lie – take the side of your wife, who has brought such filth into the world, or uphold your fealty to your king and country.”
Dad hesitated. But then, his face seemed to harden, his eyes turning to steel. “My loyalty, Your Majesty, is to you and to Alagaesia. That will never change.”
“Maxime…” Mom whispered, her voice breaking.
“Renounce your wife, then,” the King demanded with a slow, deliberate cruelness.
Again, Dad had hesitated for a moment. “What about my children?”
“They may stay at your side, so long as they pledge to renounce her and this child, as well,” the King smiled in satisfaction. “I am merciful, am I not?”
“Never!” Lucien cried out, running forward towards our mother. “Mom – “
“Stop him,” Father commanded to his soldiers. They grabbed Luc and prevented him from reaching her.
“Please, Father, you can’t do this,” Lucien gasped, before one of the guards put a hand over his mouth.
Adonis looked at him disapprovingly. “Will you be able to keep that one in check?”
“He’s still young, and he will learn,” Father said, then turned to Mom, who was still weeping, looking to him imploringly. “And you. From this day forth, you are no wife of mine. You may return to the manor to gather your things, but after tonight, never again will you step foot on my lands.”
He swept out of the room, his personal guards in tow, one of them dragging away Lucien, who was struggling hard, still reaching for Mom. She followed at the end of the procession, under heavy guard, her hair a wild, tangled mess around her tear-streaked face. Meira had already been torn from her arms and given to a high-ranking Dai Li member, a man whose entire body was hidden beneath a dark, hooded cloak. All that could be seen of his face was a pale, pointed chin and slow, cruel smile.
And that was the last anyone had ever seen of our baby sister.
I was shaking with fury when Lucien had, at last, told me all that had transpired that last, terrible day. “Doesn’t that make you angry?” I snarled. “That man – he’s no father of ours. He chose his own greed and desire for power over us! He saw what the King was, the monster who was ruling over our country, and he sided with him! He turned his back on Meira, and threw out Mom like she was a piece of trash!”
“Of course it makes me angry,” Lucien whispered. I looked at him. It was the first time I had seen my brother shaking like that, with a barely suppressed, helpless fury. “But if I know Father, he’s going to regret this for the rest of his life. He won’t be able to enjoy his precariously held-onto power with the weight of what he’s done hanging over him.”
I clenched my fists. “That’s not good enough.”

“I wanted my father to pay for what he’d done,” I said out loud to Lyren now. “I was young back then, and foolish, and all I could see was that man, enjoying his life of luxury while we starved on the streets. No one would take us in, offer us shelter, for to associate with Mom was disgrace in the eyes of the King. But I kept it to myself, at first, because I could see how much our anger was hurting Mom. She still loved him, despite everything… and she never truly recovered from his betrayal. A few months after we were banished from the Capitol, she got sick.”

She grew paler, and weaker, as the winter months drew by. We tried everything, spending what few coins we could save up on herbs, apothecaries, anyone who would answer our begs for help. Even the ones kind enough to offer aid avoided looking us in the face, and were in a hurry for us to leave their shops.
Until one day, Lucien returned to the dingy alleyway where Mom and I were huddled, pressed together for warmth. For the first time in months, he was smiling.
“I found a place where we can go,” he said excitedly. “There’s been a group of people who have been fighting the Dai Li, trying to save as many Gifted children as they can. They call themselves the Clann – and they’ve agreed to take us in.”
Mom smiled, squeezing both our hands. I barely felt it, that was how feeble her grasp was then. “Good,” she murmured. The hollows of her face stood out starkly. She was so thin and ragged then, all skin and bones. “I’m glad… you two will have a place to go. Now I can finally go… in peace.”
The next morning, when we woke up, she was gone.

“After we were banished, Lucien became obsessed with finding out as much as he could about the Gifted,” I said. “He discovered what you did – that they weren’t monsters or demons at all, but children like any other. It seemed to light a fire in him – he wanted to do all he could to save them, pull them from the ruthless grasp of the Dai Li… help them like he couldn’t help Meira. Like he couldn’t help Mom.” I smiled sadly. “So finding out about the Clann was like a new awakening for him. Finally, he had purpose again, a way forward past the shadow of this grief. I, on the other hand… I wasn’t so good at moving on. All I could see was the past, while my brother was looking towards a better future. For us and for all of Alagaesia. I’m sure that’s what Mom would have wanted… and Dad too. Or rather, the father that we’d once had.”
I sighed. This was the part that would be the hardest to tell. “So we parted ways,” I said bitterly. “The first in a long string of terrible choices, that I can never take back. I abandoned my brother, my only family, when he decided to join the Clann.”

I left in the middle of the night, so I didn’t have to say goodbye. I knew Lucien - he’d find a way to stop me, to convince me to stay. But the rage that had simmered in me for far too long had blazed into a raging inferno after Mom’s death.
Lucien,
You might be able to move on, but I can’t. I can’t live with myself, knowing he’s still out there, laughing and eating at the King’s table. Bowing and scraping at the feet of the man who destroyed our family.
I can’t get back at the King, but I can give the man we once called father what he deserves. I’m going to destroy him, Lucien. I’ll make sure he loses his lands, his influence, his precious place on the Council, the things that he decided were worth more than his own family.
Don’t come after me. You won’t change my mind.
After it’s done, after it’s all over, I’ll come find you.
Ansell

“So I joined a rebel gang,” I continued. “I watched as they took over the city’s underbelly, the dark corners and alleyways. I knew they weren’t good people, beating up and stealing from other poor and homeless people, terrorizing any who crossed into their territory. I didn’t join in their violent activities, but it’s not like I did anything to stop them. You see, in their spare time, these kids launched sabotage missions against the Dai Li and members of the King’s court. It started with little things, a rock through a window of a lavish estate, stealing the jewelry off some noblewoman. Then it turned into spy missions, intercepting important messages and relaying them to other rebels fighting against the King. Then sabotage of the Dai Li’s missions, and guerilla warfare. They worked with the Clann, sometimes, and many of them were Gifted who were angry and wanted to get back at the Dai Li. The difference was, they were far more willing to cross lines and use brutal force to get what they wanted. I would turn them in once they helped me bring down my father, I told myself. I thought it would be worth it. As long as they could help me get revenge.” I smiled bitterly. “In the end, it wasn’t worth it. In the end, I lost the only family member I had left… and, for a time, I lost myself.”

I glanced up then, seeing that the moon had reached its peak in the darkened sky. “It’s late. We should get to bed, we have to get up early if we want to catch the Noor scouting party. Let’s… let’s continue this another night.” I stood up, but before I could walk away to get our bedrolls, Lyren reach out and pulled me into a hug.
I let the warmth of her embrace wash over me, keeping at bay the chill of those long-buried memories. “I will tell you everything,” I whispered into her hair. “I promise.”
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Old 03-23-2020, 06:40 AM
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Alexa Diamondflower Alexa Diamondflower is offline
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Old 03-15-2021, 02:49 AM
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Here are my characters.

Name: Ashryn Griffith (Ash-er-in)
Nickname: Ash
Gender: Female
Age(8-25): 18
Gifted, Clann, or Dai Li Agent: Gifted
Strong Ability (If Gifted): Teleportation
Minor Ability (If Gifted): Prophecy
Personality: Ash is brave, compassionate, and fiercely loyal. Often quiet and withdrawn but not when she’s with friends.
Appearance: Long black hair, deep violet eyes, tan skin, agile body.
Other: Ash lives in the royal palace of Cerrawen as Princess Athena’s personal guard and uses her gifts to help the royal family. She has become close friends with Athena over the years which made her even more determined to protect her. Ash has an older brother, also gifted, who is a Captain in the royal army and her father is on King Arwin’s council. She was taught how to use her gifts at a young age by her gifted mother and has complete control over her teleportation and partial control over her prophecy.


Name: Gavin Houston
Nickname: Gav
Gender: Male
Age(8-25): 16
Gifted, Clann, or Dai Li Agent: Gifted
Strong Ability (If Gifted): Telekinesis
Minor Ability (If Gifted): Levitation
Personality: Gavin is caring, observant, and a bit distant at first. Gav is socially awkward because he’s spent half of his life practically alone.
Appearance: Reddish brown hair, green eyes, tall with a strong build.
Other: His parents disappeared one night when he was eight. He has been living in the forest with an old family friend named Brenten ever since. Gav doesn’t know it but Brenten is really a former Clann agent and his parents had ties to the Clann.


Name: Clarissa Morre (Agent Morre)
Nickname: Riss or Rissa (Only by close friends)
Gender: Female
Age(8-25): 20
Gifted, Clann, or Dai Li Agent: Agent from Noorwind, joins Dai Li
Personality: strong, cold, determined, and cunning.
Appearance: light blond hair, reddish brown eyes, tall.
Other: Agent Morre starts out in Noorwind as a captain of a small elite team. She will join the Di Li as either an ambassador or on her own depending on whether or not Noorwind allies with King Adonis. Her team is who will be doing the scouting mission.


Ashryn

The day before the Clann group leaves for Cerrawen…

I twirled away from the incoming blade, swinging my own to meet it. As we pulled away I felt a slight probing in my mind, trying to push past my mental block. “Hey! No powers!” I cried, giving my brother a disapproving glare.
He gave me a sheepish grin. “Just making sure you remembered to keep your shields up.” He launched into another attack. I rolled to the side as it swung over my head.
I smiled as I found his weak point. “Uh-huh, and I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that I'm winning.” I called rolling my eyes.
“Winning!” he huffed, “Certainly not! The great Captain Griffith does not go down so easily.” I feigned an attack left only to twirl the other way to get into his defences. I disarmed him and in a blink, I had my own blade against his neck. Henry’s eyes widened in shock, “Jez sis, when did you get so good.”
I sheathed my blade as he went to fetch his own. “I learned from the best.” I said before breaking into a smirk. “You know, Fredrik the great.” Fredrik was one of the newer soldiers under my brother’s command.
Henry put his hand on his chest in mock offence, “How could you betray my skilled teachings by learning from another. Someone below me no less.”
I laughed, we both knew the only person who ever taught me how to fight was my brother. All the other soldiers had only ever seen me as an annoying little nine year old girl who had no business learning how to fight. Imagine their surprise when that “little girl” grew up to be a better fighter than any one of them.
Henry’s face went serious once more as he looked at the midday sun. “Come on,” he called, “We should go find our parents. I have to leave soon if I’m going to make it to the border by nightfall.”
I groaned, “So soon!”

My brother had been called to the border separating Cerrawen from its neighboring kingdom Alagaesia. There had been reports of an increase in patrols on the other side, which concerned King Arwin and Queen Elyssandra. Tensions between our two countries had become tight ever since King Adonis started capturing Gifted children in his lands and forcing them to do his bidding. I shivered. He called all of us Gifted people ‘monsters' and ‘abominations’. Thankfully our king and queen shared none of his ideals. In Cerrawen, Gifted were just like everyone else. There were even some of us that held high positions in the kingdom, like my brother, who was a Captain in the military, and myself. I have been the personal guard of Princess Athena for several years now - despite my young age at the time I started.

“Yeah. The king doesn’t want to give anyone the chance to cross our border and attack our people.” Henry replied with a solemn voice. “Their mercenaries have already managed to abduct several of our own.” His fists clenched and there was a flash of anger in his eyes. It wasn’t enough to lock up his own people just because they were Gifted, King Adonis had to abduct Gifted children from our own outlying villages as well. I had a feeling that King Arwin and Queen Elyssandra wouldn’t take much more of this, and it was only a matter of time before they decided to strike back.
We walked the rest of the way to Dad’s office in silence. When we arrived, we saw that Mom was already there waiting for us. After a teary goodbye, we watched as Henry rode off with his men.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Next Day…

I sat in the courtyard with Princess Athena as she went on about some nobleman or another. She stopped mid sentence with a frown, “Are you even listening?”
I shook myself out of my thoughts before turning to the princess, “Sorry, Thena. Guess I’m just distracted.”
“What is up with you today Ash?” she replied shaking her head, “You’ve been unusually quiet and spacey.” Pausing, she looked at me trying to get a read. “Is it because your brother had to leave again?”
I sighed, Athena was always so observant. She had always been able to read me when no one else could, other than my brother. Figures that she would be able to see how unfocussed I was. “Kind of.” I looked away before continuing, “It’s just this whole thing with Alagaesia, Everything is so messed up.”
Honestly, if I thought I stood any chance on my own, I would march right over there and free all of the Gifted children. Unfortunately, even with my Gifts and fighting skills, that was one battle I couldn’t win.
A dark look crossed Athena’s face and I knew she was thinking the same thing. “I hate feeling so helpless. Mother and Father say there's nothing we can do about it until we find someone who knows Alagaesia well enough. Everyone we come across blindly follows King Adonis’ crazy ideas of the Gifted, whether out of fear or complete loyalty.” She looked out at the horizon contemplating our situation.
“I guess we just have to hope that a solution will present itself soon.” I grabbed Athena’s hand trying to reassure her. “Come on. Let’s go for a ride.” I said, knowing she needed a distraction to get her mind off this. We both loved to ride and it never failed to clear our heads.
Thena smiled back at me, “Ok, race you to the stables!” She raced away, with me close behind her. I could have easily teleported us there in a blink, but I think we needed the added time.

Before long, we were racing through the woods on our horses. Letting my mind go blank, I enjoyed the feel of wind in my hair as all my troubles faded away. We ended up at our favorite spot, a crystal clear pond with all sorts of wondrous wildlife surrounding it. As our horses drank from the pond, Thena and I layed in the grass and enjoyed the sights and sounds of nature.
After what felt like hours basking in the tranquility, I broke the silence. I sighed, not wanting to leave. “We should probably head back. The sun will be setting soon and we don’t want anyone to worry.”
Athena rolled over, “You’re probably right.” Reluctantly, we stood and mounted our horses. Before we could start riding home, my vision went blank and I gripped my horses’ saddle tightly. When it cleared I was no longer at the pond. I watched as a new scene enfolded.

There was a group of men in black cloaks in front of the bridge between Cerrawen and Alagaesia.

Those must be one of the patrols King Adonis sent to our border.

Six figures walked out of the woods and approached the patrol. One of the guards stopped the group, “What is your business here?”

A man from the second group spoke up “We are Gifted hunters, sir. It has been a while since a shipment has come from Cerrawen, isn’t that right?”

Mercenaries.

The guard eyed them with some suspicion. “I thought His Majesty wanted to halt all Gifted capturing activities while he dealt with the Clann situation?”

I paused, my anger fading into surprise. What Clann situation?

“That directive was for those highly trained agents, the Dai Li,” A woman from the group explained calmly. Clearly having a lot of practice in dealing with this kind of situation. “His Majesty does not wish for such elite agents to busy themselves with menial tasks such as capturing individual Gifted at times like these. But we are hunters, freelance mercenaries, and our services are still of use to him.”

Could these patrolmen really be the Dai Li? I had always thought the rumors of the king's secret band of elite agents were just that - rumors with no real truth to them. Yet here they were, or at least some of them.

“You’re free to go. Happy hunting,” the guard grinned at them in obvious pleasure. “Show those Cerrans that the only place where the Gifted belong is on a leash, as His Majesty’s personal pets.”

I felt my blood boil with the guards last statement.

The group had almost walked past all the Dai Li at the entrance to the bridge when one of the cloaked figures suddenly stiffened.

“These aren’t hunters!” the figure cried out, his hood flying back. I saw to my shock that he must have been no more than ten years old. The little boy proclaimed, “They’re agents from the Clann! And Gifted!”

The Clann? We had heard whispers of a rebel group fighting the king’s men but we had never found any proof they actually existed. Could this really be them?

There was a moment of dead silence, as those words hung in the air. Then, in unison, the guards flanking the bridge drew their swords, steel glinting in the pale dawn light.

“Run for it!” one of the female Clann agents shouted.

They all rushed forward, fighting the guards that tried to stop them. One girl abruptly vanished in front of everyone while another shifted into a hawk and attacked a guard that was about to hurt a woman. A boy materialized and teleported the woman to safety.

“Thank you, both of you. Keep going!” the woman gasped.

As they ran across the bridge and into Cerrawen, a squadron of our soldiers appeared out of the trees. They pushed back the Alagaesian patrol while flanking the Clann group.

I instantly recognised Lieutenant Jenkins and her team.

“Get off our land, Alagaesians!” Zach, Jenkins’ second, snarled. “Unless you’re looking to incite a war.”

“Several criminals are attempting to escape over the border!” the Dai Li leader exclaimed, gesturing to the Clann. “We have the right to bring them to justice.”

“They are on our turf now, and we will be the ones to decide what to do with them,” Zach snapped. “We will send them over to you if we deem it appropriate. Now get back to your own country!”

There was a tense standoff that lasted for several minutes.

“Fine. Deal with them as you wish. But the moment any of them tries to cross back over, they will be ours,” the patrol leader growled at last. He lifted a hand to signal to his troops, and they filed back across to the Alagaesian side of the border.

Lieutenant Jenkins looked the Clann team over coldly. “And what, exactly, are a ragged group of Alagaesian criminals doing sneaking over the border at the crack of dawn?” Her hand rested on the hilt of her blade, an obvious threat. Jenkins’ eyes were narrowed silently daring the group to try something.

“Please, we’re not here to fight.” the female leader took a step forward. “We mean you no harm, we only wish to talk.”

“We’re from the Clann, an organization that seeks out and protects the Gifted from the King’s wrath,” The first boy added.

“I’ve seen what you Alagaesians have been doing to your own people, to children,” Edward, a newer soldier, snapped. “Why should we believe anything you say?”

At this, the girl with invisibility stepped forward. “Because we are Gifted, too.”

“And believe me, I know very well what the Dai Li are capable of,” The shifter girl lifted her arm, slowly to show that she didn’t intend to fight, and pulled back her sleeve to show the raised red marks from the chains that had circled her wrists.

I looked at them with horror. It was one thing to hear about the atrocious acts of the king and his men against my kind but another thing entirely to see someone who had experienced those horrors first hand.

“I was among those who were taken from their families and forced to fight at the King’s whims. If you really care about the Gifted, then please listen to us.”

“We need your help,” the teleporter boy added, materializing out of nowhere next to the captain. She jumped backwards in shock as he pulled back his hood. “I am Nikko, Crown Prince of Alagaesia. And… I’m a Gifted too. I’ve renounced my father and his ways, and have allied myself with the Clann and their cause.”

I gave a mental laugh at the irony. The king’s own son was the very thing he despised so much.

There were murmurs among our soldiers, in tones of both surprise and intrigue. Though the hostility in the air had faded somewhat, I knew it would take more than a few pretty words from Alagaesians, even ones that claimed to be on our side, to convince Lieutenant Jenkins and her team.

“Please,” the last woman said. “Take us to your king and queen.”

The scene faded away and I was back at the pond. Athena was at my side and had been shaking me, trying to get me to snap out of it. Thena let out a sigh when she saw my eyes focus once more. “What just happened?” She called looking at me with concern. “Was it another one of your visions?”
I nodded, trying to make sense of everything that had just happened. I could tell the events I had seen took place at night. Given the fact that my visions never went far into the future, I got the feeling that it was all going to happen tonight. “Yeah. We need to get back to the palace, I have to talk to my father.” I didn’t elaborate on what I had seen in my vision and she didn’t push, though I knew she wanted to.

Could these people really be the solution to our problems?

For the first time in a long while I felt the small flicker of hope.

Maybe we could actually stand a chance against the king if they are really who they say they are.

Deep down, I knew everything they had said in my vision was the truth, save for the first part when they were rightfully trying to fool the Dai Li. I also knew if they were going to succeed in convincing everyone else, they would need my help. To do that, I had to tell my father about my vision so he could get them an audience with our king and queen. I knew they trusted my prophetic gifts, but with so little time to get everything done, it would be better coming from my father, one of their trusted advisors. Besides, I had to make it to the border to tell my brother and vouch for them in front of Jenkins. Even with my teleportation I would barely make it in time.

I lept off my horse the moment we entered the stables. After quickly handing our horses off to one of the stable boys, I told a nearby page to find Robin and tell him to meet me at my father’s study. The boy rushed off and I teleported us to my father.

Seeing my father still at his desk, I quickly told him everything I had seen in my vision. I also informed him that I knew their words were true. “This could change everything.” My father said when I finished. He stroked his beard thoughtfully, “I must inform the king and queen immediately and you must go tell your brother.”

I glanced at Athena and saw her eyes gleamed with excitement. I could practically hear what she was thinking - though I was no telepath.

Finally! We could put an end to all this suffering.

A knock broke us from our silent exchange. Opening it, I found Robin, one of the few guards I trusted completely to protect the princess while I was gone. “Good, you're here! I need you to watch over the princess until I return. There is something I have to take care of.”

Robin nodded, “Of course Ashryn.” I smiled. True to his personality, he didn’t even question what could possibly be more important than protecting the princess. He also still refused to call me Ash even though I had given him permission to do so long ago.

Athena turned to me, arms crossed, “I want to come with you.”

Of course she did.

Thena always tried to get me to take her on any missions I was given by her parents. Of course I could never take her because they were often missions that were far too dangerous for her parents to ever let her.

I shook my head, “There’s no way I’m taking you to the border, your father would kill me. That is of course if your brother doesn’t get to me first.” Both her father and brother were extremely protective of Athena and it wasn't just because she was the princess. Athena could handle herself, thanks to my persistence in convincing them to let me teach her self defence, but that would never change their minds.

Thena huffed her disapproval but didn’t try to push further. She knew her safety was the one thing I would never budge on, both as her friend and bodyguard. “Fine!” she exclaimed angrily before spinning on her heel and leaving the room. Poor Robin had to run to catch up with her as they retreated to her room.

After trading a knowing look with my father, I teleported away. Because the border was too far away, I had to split my trip into two jumps instead of one. Once there, I rushed into my brother’s tent, barely acknowledging the guards as they opened the flap.

I opened my mind to him and let him see the vision himself, knowing it would save both time and energy. Looking up at me with shock, Henry swiftly scribed orders on to parchment. “Go!” he urged, “Give this to Lieutenant Jenkins. I will start preparing things for their arrival and our journey.” After a quick goodbye, I snatched the parchment and teleported away to the location from my vision.

“Please, take us to your king and queen.” I let out a silent sigh hearing the last part of my vision.

Good, I made it in time.

Seeing the perfect opportunity, I stepped out of the shadows. “They’re telling the truth.” The Clann group looked at me with shock, both from my sudden appearance and the fact that I was advocating for them. Continuing forward I handed Jenkins, who was equally shocked, the parchment. “From my brother.” I said barely sparing her a glance.
Taking the parchment she scowled at me and I couldn’t help but smirk. Clearly she was annoyed that I, of all people, was interfering. “What are you doing here Asheryn?” She unfurled the paper without looking at it, “Shouldn’t you be off guarding the princess?” There was a slight bite to her tone, we had never gotten along very well, and that was before I was granted the position of the princess’s personal guard - a job she had wanted.
I rolled my eyes at her pitiful attempts to get under my skin and make my job sound offensive. “Well, you know my day couldn’t possibly be complete without at least one encounter from the Great Lieutenant Jenkins and her Sparkling personality.” I replied sarcastically. This only increased her scowl to a look of true disdain. I had long ago mastered the art of getting under her skin. Knowing she had lost yet another verbal sparring match, she turned to the parchment and read over my brother’s orders.
I heard Edward’s quiet exclamations of shock, hardly believing that I would talk to a commanding officer in such a manner. He was still too new to know of our little rivalry. I also found a few raised eyebrows amongst the Clann group. One even had a slight smile on their lips, clearly amused with the whole exchange.
Recomposing herself after my jab and reading her new orders, Jenkins finally found her words once again. “Captain Griffith has decided that you are to be taken to the palace. King Arwin and Queen Elyssandra will decide your fate there.” Still annoyed with my presence, she motioned for her men to surround them and lead our party to the camp.

I turned to the Clann group and, not minding that Jenkins could probably hear us, said, “Don’t mind Lieutenant Jenkins, she’s always like that. My brother, Captain Griffith, will be far more welcoming.” My suspicion was confirmed when Jenkins stiffened with anger. “I’m Ashryn by the way.” I offered them a grin. They all introduced themselves with grateful looks.
“How did you know we were telling the truth when you weren't even here?” Nyna, the leader asked.
“I, like some of your group, am Gifted. I saw you in a vision earlier and told my brother before coming here. I can always tell whether or not people are truthful when I see them in my visions.”
They looked at me with shock, probably surprised that I could be so open about my gifts. “We heard that the king and queen of Cerrawen were Gifted sympathizers, but we never imagined they would have them in their court.”
I shrugged, “Why shouldn’t we?” I replied looking forward, “If anything, our Gifts give us an advantage over those without any. Take my brother for instance, his telepathy is a huge advantage when he is fighting, making him an excellent Captain.” We continued our walk to the camp talking about various things. There was an occasional disapproving glare from Jenkins, but she didn’t say anything.

Finally, we arrived at camp and my brother came forward to greet us, “Welcome to Cerrawen, Gifted and members of the Clann. I am Captain Griffith and this is Officer Leroy.” He gestured to the young soldier next to him. “He will take you to your tent where you can rest from your journey. We will head to the capitol in a few hours.” After dismissing everyone, he motioned for me and Lieutenant Jenkins to follow him to his tent. I waved goodbye to the Clann as Leroy led them away before following my brother.

The tent flap shut and we all took our seats at Henry’s desk. “Lieutenant, I want you to stay here with the main group and continue your patrol of the border as usual. The last thing we need is for the Alagaesian patrols to stir up trouble. I will take the Clann to the capitol with Ashryn and a small team. I will return when our King and Queen have decided what we are to do next.”
Jenkins burst from her chair and her hands slammed on the desk, “Do you honestly believe all this Clann nonsense!? How could you possibly trust any Alagaesians after everything they’ve done to their own people!?” She exclaimed, furious. “They probably just want to get close to the royal family so they can kill them and imprison the rest of us. I can’t believe you would be so foolish to fall right into their hands just because your sister said-”
“Enough Lieutenant!” Henry exclaimed, cutting Jenkins off as he rose from his own seat. “Remember your place.” His eyes flashed dangerously and I clenched my fists in anger.

How dare she question my brother like that! He is a wiser and better leader than she could ever hope to be. Did she really think I would have vouched for them if I had even the slightest reason to believe that they meant any harm to the royal family!

“Not that I owe you any explanations, Jenkins, I don’t trust these Clann agents. I do, however, trust my sister. Her instincts and visions have never been wrong.” I felt a swell of pride as my brother defended me and my visions. Jenkins had always disliked that I was Gifted, whether it was because of jealousy or just her overall hatred of me, I would never know. “Now, I have work to finish.” My brother said calmly, sitting back down in his chair. “You are dismissed.” Jenkins tried to protest but Henry’s eyes flashed a warning glare. Even she knew pushing his patience further would only lead to her getting in trouble. After she left in a big huff, I gave my brother a quick hug and exited his tent.
I followed one of the soldiers to the tent they had set up for me, and, exhausted from all my teleporting, flopped onto my cot. The moment my head hit the pillow I was out like a light.

A soldier woke me up a few hours later when it was time to get ready to leave, and I went to find my brother. “Are we almost ready to leave?” I called, finding him with a group of soldiers and our steeds. Jenkins, who had been watching their preparations with distaste, glared at me. I returned her glare with a grin instead.

Someone's still sour.

Henry looked up from the saddle he had been adjusting and smiled, “Almost. We’re just missing the Clann group. I sent Officer Leroy to get them so they should be here any moment.” The group arrived shortly after that, and we all mounted our horses and took off for the Capital.

We were almost there when I heard my brother’s voice in my head, :Ash?:
:What is it Henry?:
I replied letting him in.
:I just spoke with Father. He says that the Royal Family and Counsel are waiting for us.: He paused, sounding a little unsure.
:That’s great!: I replied, trying to break the tension.
:I’m to take the Clann to the throne room. The King has requested that you stand guard behind the Royal Family so you can teleport them to safety, should something go wrong. Father wants you to teleport yourself to the palace now so you can be in the throne room before the rest of us arrive.: He finished.
:Alright, see you there soon.: I cut off our communication and said goodbye to the Clann, telling them that I had to go take care of something. After handing my horse off to one of the soldiers, I teleported to the palace.

I landed in the entrance, momentarily startling the two guards who were stationed there. They relaxed when they saw it was only me.
“Welcome back Lady Ashryn.” The first guard greeted me. I nodded my head in acknowledgment, while internally cringing at the use of my birth title. Yes, my father was a highly placed lord, making me a lady of the court, but only the older palace guards and the other members of the King’s court used it. I always hated the formality of titles.
I began walking to the throne room, leaving the guards behind, when I heard someone running behind me.
“Ash! You’re back!” Thena called excitedly.
I saw Robin chasing her, face red and out of breath, and shook my head. “Have you been running away from Robin again?”
She grinned sheepishly at me, “Maybe.” I raised an eyebrow. “Ok, yes, but can you blame me? It’s just too easy. Besides, you know much I hate being cooped up all the time.” She replied. I rolled my eyes.

Athena had a habit of escaping the personal guards her parents assigned to protect her. She tried the same things on me when I was first picked for the job, but I was too observant and fast for her. Several failed attempts later, she gave in and I got a permanent position. Not long after that, we became best friends as we realized how much we had in common.
“So…” Athena started, breaking me from my reminiscing, “How are they!? Do you think they will really be able to help us stop King Adonis?” She was practically bouncing with excitement.
I chuckled, “Slow down Thena!” This was the side of Athena that other people rarely saw. Normally she was more of a quiet observer like me, but we were always our true selves together. My brother was the only other person I really felt I could be myself with. And of course, my sarcastic side always came out when I was dealing with Jenkins and our little rivalry.
“They all seem like good people, I guess we’ll just have to see if it will all be enough. I am hopeful though.” I offered her a small smile. “Now, come on, you should already be in the throne room and I’m expected there as well.” We walked in together and, after we were announced, I took my place against the wall behind the King and Queen.

A few minutes later, my brother entered with the Clann members behind him. “Your Majesties, may I present Crown Prince Nikko of Alagaesia and Nyna, leader of the Clann.” Henry announced to the royal family as the two stepped forward. There were several gasps and raised eyebrows as the Alagaesian Prince stepped forward with the Clann leader. I saw Thena blush before she tried to hide it. I couldn’t help but smile, Seems like someone’s got a little crush on the prince. “And Clann agents Talia and Ezra, as well as their Gifted representatives Sierra and Stacia,” Henry continued.

The only people who weren't surprised by the Alagaesian Crown Prince’s appearance were the King and Queen, as they had been told beforehand.
“What is the Prince of Alagaesia doing here?” One of the councilmen asked.
“He couldn’t possibly be Gifted.” Another scoffed with disbelief. “He must be a spy sent by his father, King Adonis!” He cried in outrage.
It didn’t surprise me that many of the council members were distru****l of the Prince. Most of them could be won over easily when Prince Nikko and the Clann told their story. However, it would take a considerable amount of convincing for the older, more traditional, councilmen to believe them.
King Arwin leveled a disapproving glare at the two councilmen, “We will listen to what they have to say before making any accusations.” They shrunk back under his stern gaze. King Arwin was a kind and benevolent king to his people, but he was also someone you definitely didn’t want to get on the bad side of. “Now, Your Highness and members of the Clann, why have you come before us today.” He continued addressing Prince Nikko, Nyna, and the others as his gaze softened.


Authors Note: Sorry it's a bit long, I had a lot to write. I will work on my posts for Gavin and Clarissa but this post was already so long I didn't want to add anything else. Tell me if I need to change anything and feel free to have Ash talk to any of your characters in your posts.

I'm so excited to join this role play.

Also here are my pictures. The first two are Ash as a lady of the court and Ash as a guard. The third is Gavin. And the last one is Clarissa.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Ashryn Griffith (In court).jpg (227.1 KB, 2 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_E3885.jpg (80.5 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg Gavin Houston.jpg (207.8 KB, 1 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_E3938.jpg (85.4 KB, 2 views)

Last edited by Kira Waterdrop; 03-15-2021 at 03:13 AM. Reason: Forgot the pictures.
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