Thursday, December 31, 2009

Twenty Three

            I leapt to the side just as the pole axe came crashing down where I’d stood.  The Balaur screamed its frustration and I quickly spoke the word of command firing off the spell that would save me.  I felt the infusion of vitality and dodged again, backpedaling as Nepech’s fiery wrath struck the fetid creature full in the face, toppling it to the ground where it smoked and twitched its last.  I planted my mace firmly against the ground and heaved myself to my feet with a groan.  Nepech rifled through the stinking lizards many pouches looking for something.  He finally rocked back on his heels and looked at me.

            “Try not to piss them off or draw their ire Siona.  That’s my job.  You’re just supposed to heal me.” He said.  I caught my breath and nodded straightening up.

            “You can have their attention Nepech, you can have it all you want.”  I replied, making the sign against evil on my chest.  Nepech laughed the sound booming and startling in the stillness that was the Eye of Reshanta.  We had been picking off guards for quite sometime near the Divine Fortress.  Each Balaur that fell, Nepech would stoop and search but when I had asked he had said he merely sought anything that may be of interest.  I did not prod further but at least once I had seen him discreetly tuck a sheaf of leather wrapped parchment in his robes.  It had the distinct look of scouting reports I myself had carried for Sin a time or two.   I caught Nepech looking me over.

            “Don’t just stand there Neppie, kill something.  I can’t very well heal you if you aren’t hurt and you aren’t getting hurt standing here gawping at me.”  I smiled as I said it and stuck my tongue out at him as I finished.  He laughed at me and ice collected at his fingers.  He spoke the arcane and flung his arm at me, the frost passing my shoulder and catching a Balaur at the top of a nearby rise unawares.

            I stepped passed Nepech several paces and flung a healing prayer at his back the words slipping passed my lips easily and familiarly keeping the prayer in place over him, protecting his well being over a time, remedying his condition almost as instantly as he was hit.  When we next paused I chanted the prayer of rebirth, placing the self imposed geas on my soul to remain with my body, should I fall and felt some of my vitality secret its self away within my self should such a situation occur.  It was a secret known only to clerics and very useful, though also very taxing. 

            The light in the Eye was diffuse, being in the shadow of upper Reshanta as it was.  Nepech had explained that this was what gave us our advantage, explaining Balauric anatomy in great detail and how their eyesight was imperfect in twilit conditions, even though they see well in darkness or in bright light.  It was macabre at first listening to this dissertation as he annihilated the very creatures we spoke of, but my pity for these fearsome brutes was very short lived when one attempted to ambush me.

            Nepech signaled to me to back away and follow after he finished off the Balaur scout and I followed him as we eased our way passed yet more of the stinking dragon-kin.  We took wing and found a free floating shard of rock mercifully devoid of anything living to land upon.  

            “We rest, we eat and we go back at it for a while.  We’ll head back up to Roah for the night; one of our Legions took control last night, so it’s safe for a time while the enemy regroups.”  He sat heavily and I joined him opening up my cube and pulling free some dumplings I’d made the night before.  He made a face at me and pulled out something of his own.

            We ate in silence for a time before he finally spoke, I knew it was coming, Nepech did not strike me as one to let go and I know he knew I had not been forthcoming; still I had almost convinced myself he wouldn’t ask.

            “Who were they Sirona?”  He asked, taking another bite of his food.  I tried not to still or to flinch and I think I did a passable job at it as I took another hasty bite of my food and chewed slowly to give myself time to think.  I decided to try and play dumb. 

            “I said in my report, the sorceress responsible for my abduction is Kuraia; the Gladiator with her was unknown to me and later Kuraia brought the assassin Switchkin to torture me for our Legion’s location in Heiron.”  I looked at him and he sighed groaning a little.

            “So much for this being simple with you.” He stated. “You know that is not the ‘three’ I am talking about.  I mean the Ranger, Chanter and Sorcerer that had you at the rift.  You know that is who I meant, and you are not stupid.  Nor am I baby girl, I would appreciate it if you would at least give me the courtesy to not treat me as if I am so.”  He gave me a patient look but beneath it I could see he was barely controlled and that I should not test him, or push him too far.  I felt suddenly guilty at his words and decided to be as straight as I could yet remain within the bounds of my written report.

            “When I woke in that room and the sorcerer that had me at the rift came, I was burnt, bloody, and broken.  I did not know who he was or why he was there but at first I assumed the worst of him.”  I stared at the half eaten remains of my dumpling and I was suddenly not very hungry.  “He wrapped me in his Legion Cloak, picked me up and I lost consciousness again.”  I wrapped the half eaten food in a square of cloth and placed it neatly in my cube.  Wonderful things, cubes, so small yet magical in such a way that the interiors held so much more than their compact outside allowed for.  Nepech broke me out of my idle musings by impatiently clearing his throat.  I stared at him for long moments; I would not volunteer any more information.  He sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose.

            “I was there in the days after your return.  You’re one of the most singularly stubborn women I think I have ever met baby doll.” He rocked back and settled himself again after letting out an explosive breath. 

            “I want to know who they are Sirona.  If I thought it would get me anywhere I would torture you myself, but you have all ready proven that it would gain me nothing.”  His mouth set in a grim line he stared at me. I looked him in the eye and stared back defiant. His words had cut to a certain degree and a line had been drawn now all that was left was to see how far either of us would cross it.

            “I can’t tell you.” I said.

            “No, you won’t tell me.” He shot back.  I let out my own breath and slumped a little, but I was not defeated.

            “No, Nepech. I mean what I say, I cannot tell you.” He rocked back again and the anger was there painted across his features in one of the darkest looks I have ever beheld on anyone’s face. I took a deep breath and plunged forward, deeper into my lie. “I swear to you Nepech, I can not tell you, because I can not say what I do not know.”  I watched his face and in a last ditch effort to protect my friends I prayed with all my heart and soul, a silent plea from my soul to Aion’s ear.

            Please Father, I would do anything you ask, please Father let him believe me.  Please, just please let him believe me and let them be safe.

            “Damn you Sirona!’ he slammed his gloved fist into the stone at his side. “I do not want to believe you girl, but you have given me no reason to disbelieve you.”  He crossed his arms disgruntled.  “I should report you unfit for duty to Sin you piss me off so.” He looked at me hard. “I don’t think I will though, because so far, it isn’t true and I am a man of my word.  Let’s get back down there.  Those Balaur reports aren’t going to find themselves.

            It was a testament to how upset he was that he let information like that slip in front of me.  I swallowed hard and rose, dusting off my chain.  What in Atreia was Destiny into that we would need Balaur reports?  I pondered this for only a brief while, for Nepech was angry and he was determined to make everything in his path pay.  As his healer, I was very glad I now stood behind him.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Twenty Two

            Polydius smiled sympathetically at me as I shifted from foot to foot, restless and waiting for Nepech.  My shield hung at my back, the hot sun reflecting off of it, causing small children passing by with their mothers to stare wide eyed at the patterns displayed behind me on the marble wall.  The new mace was an unfamiliar weight at my hip where it hung at my belt and I shifted impatiently yet again, in an attempt to settle it.  I heard whistling and looked up from my fidgeting, it was Nepech, and he strode up the Exalted Path in my direction idly turning pages in his spell book, finally stopping before me.

            “Morning baby doll.” He said nonchalantly raking his eyes over my appearance, inspecting my condition.

            “Good morning sir.” I murmured.

            “None of that Sirona, I’m just Nepech, no need to call me ‘sir’ or anything else formal for that matter.”  He laughed.  I nodded and waited for my orders.  He scratched his beard and scrutinized me further.  I held still though I wanted badly to shift from foot to foot with my impatience. He jerked his head indicating I should follow.

            “Verteron Citadel, Polydius.”  Nepech tossed the man a bag of kinah to pay our fare and Polydius opened a portal.  I swallowed hard and followed Nepech through.  We emerged into a bustle of activity, Shugo porters carried boxes and pushed carts to and fro, their complaints kept low and their small squeaking voices calling out warnings to those that managed to get in their way.  I stepped back to allow a pair to pass by their tails held high, and rushed to catch up to Nepech.

            “Wings out Sirona, we’re going to Teminon.”  He let his wings appear from the aether and stretched them taking to the air with a few powerful strokes, dust swirled up behind him and I closed my eyes willing my own wings into existence, extending them carefully before stroking them against the wind myself.  The flight muscles in my chest screamed with disuse and I grimaced, I had a moment, a sharp pang of worry which soon turned to relief as I lifted off from the ground.  Though the short flight up to the stationary portal to the Abyss left my chest and back aching, it was a good ache, dull and bittersweet, the return to an activity that I did so love.  I missed flying.

            This early, Teminon wasn’t as busy, I followed Nepech across the wide expanse of marble that was Teminon’s Landing and basked in the silvery white glow of the stone.  The hot winds of the abyss stirred the hair at the back of my neck and with wings out I yearned to let them bear me up and out over the void.  Nepech called over his shoulder

            “You want to take the lazy way or the cheap way?” Nepech called over his shoulder.  I grinned impishly, I knew what he meant.

            “The cheap way of course.” I called back, and smiled broader as he passed the teleporter on duty.  We stepped to the edge of the landing.  Nepech looked at me, and the look he gave me was sanguine.  I smiled and spread wing, tipping myself over the edge content at the snap of feather on wind as I bore up into the air.  I heard the boom of deep laughter and turned to see my temporary commander winging his way after me. 

            “You don’t even know where we go Sirona!” he called over the rushing wind.

            “So tell me! Where do we go?”  I called back.

            “Head for the Western Shard of Latesran, take the layer port up to the Ridge, do not go further and stay close, we are in the Abyss never forget what that means.”  He glided near me and I swallowed the joy that flight brought me and reigned in my senses.  He was right; this was the Abyss and what better way to prove my worth then to allow myself to be owned by some random Asmodian or Balaur because I was too far into my own mind to pay attention to my surroundings.

            I drew in my wings slightly and made for a straight line to the Western Shard, slipping through the aether infused flight rings where they appeared to ease the strain on my body.   I double checked my cube’s supply feeling foolish that I may have left anything behind and found a good supply of vials, the silvery liquid of wind serum swirling within.  I smiled to myself, I had forgotten nothing per usual.

            I banked right and swung a lazy gliding circle down to the ground and willed my wings away for the moment.  Nepech landed heavily beside me.

            “I didn’t know you were such a good flyer.” He said, between gasps for air.  I smiled barely winded and said nothing.  Nepech paid our way topside and we flew between the layers of the abyss easily, and in silence.  At the top we both sobered and I clicked easily into the role of silent shadow to the imposing sorcerer. 

            We flew and my nerves set on their edge when I realized where we headed.  I had never been to the core, but it was very clear to me that it was Nepech’s intention we should go there.  Only the most powerful Daeva fought in the Eye of Reshanta, rife with Balaur as it was, and powerful Balaur at that.  This was no mere test; this was going to be a baptism by fire. As we went into our dive to slip passed the upper layer of red stone and down to the core, I fitted my shield to my arm and loosed my mace from my belt.  Nepech looked over his shoulder to make sure I followed, and when he caught site of me, ready and armed something in his eyes hardened and he inclined his head slightly in what looked like respect.  There was no time to delineate the meaning of the sorcerer’s expression for when we landed, the fighting began, and for me the struggle to survive for I had forgotten something after all… I had forgotten to bind my soul to Teminon’s obelisk…

A Very Big Thank You and Some Recognition At Last

I need to pause in my writing for just one very quick moment between this year and the next to say some very big thank yous.

First of all I need to express how grateful I am to several people both in and outside my story for reading it, continuing to read it and for enjoying it enough to keep me motivated to keep writing it.

I am sure all of you have seen the new change to the top of the page and that, my friends is all thanks to Zieg over at, I encourage all of you to look at his beautiful images, and while you are there to also look at Zhoul's, Londonrain's and the newest addition to the family of graphicdesign artists, Oz. They hide in the Creative Corner and really, someone out there ought to ask them out to dance in a big way because their art deserves to be seen.

I also want to extend a very big thank you to my boyfriend, Aalairius.  For having the paitience to let me write, and for being absolutely graceful about Sirona's character relationships with other people.  Some people it's an issue, but with him, he's so amazing that he reads my stuff and likes it, and only moderately QQ's when his character isn't in it, but only in good fun.

Aalairius is responsible for the original banner when the blog first went up, the one you have all been used to seeing, and he did it for me despite my own QQing and making him go back and tweak it several times to get the lettering juuuuuuust right.  When he has the time, and the adventure he has done some of the images for some of the posts as well... So thank you baby, with every part of my being, thank you for being there for me and with me through my bad moods and crazy family, and the added insanity that is this story.

So lastly, a huge thank you to all of my in-game friends , especially (again) Aalairius, Toxemia, Elethor, Kuraia, Evensong and Haji for dropping everything, as often as you do to run your character half way across Atreia for the pretty screenies that go into each part of My Sirona.

The best is yet to come, because I never seem to run out of ideas, so keep reading, and have a safe and happy New Year, there will be more of My Sirona after the new year and probably one or two more parts before 2010 hits, so stay tuned... or don't, but please come back and catch up!

I really do love you guys,


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Twenty One

I followed Nepech into the legion office and retook the seat at Sin’s gesture, smoothing the dress over my knees, again hiding the ruined skin of my legs. Nepech returned to his place upon the tall stool and I waited expectantly.  Sin took a breath.

“It is the decision of this council that you return to active duty as soon as possible Sirona.” She began, and the tension in my shoulders eased. “However, whether you are fit to return to that duty remains in question.”  My heart sank, the room went silent.

Finally Boa spoke, her soft voice startling in the stark silence that had befallen us. “It is not that we doubt your courage, or your resolve Sirona, we understand that you have gone through something very terrible and for the safety of the fellow soldiers in Destiny, we feel that it is appropriate that you be eased into full active duty.  We wish no ill to befall you or any other member of your unit.”  She leaned back in her seat.  I swallowed hard, eyes misting.  Nepech made a disgruntled sound beside me, crossing his arms and shifting upon his stool. I didn’t understand, on the one hand it sounded to me as if they were going to return me to active duty with my peers, on the other it sounded as if they had no intention… I felt as if I were in limbo.

“Give her to me, two days.  I’ll put her through her paces and tell you if she’s ready.”  Nepech’s voice was steady and I looked at him, I could tell this was not the decision that they had reached behind closed doors… Sin had tensed in her seat and Boa leaned forward, but what had made Nepech change his mind?  Sin cleared her throat.

“That was not what we agreed Nepech, it was unanimous, our intention clear, that Sirona serve in the infirmary in an auxiliary capacity.  I do not like the risk involved in your proposal, if something should go wrong, we are…”  Sin was cut off mid-sentence by Nepech’s loud laughter.

“Nothing could go wrong Sin.  It’s the same thing you have me doing on my own, in fact I might be able to accomplish more with a personal pocket healer.”  He looked at me speculatively and I bit the inside of my cheek.  I, as with anyone, disliked being spoken of as if I weren’t there, but I waited.  I did not want to be alone with Nepech in the field but I could not disagree, it wasn’t my place and I wanted to return to duty with Aalairius and the rest of my unit, as soon as possible.  I did not know who they had as their healer in my absence, and selfish as it may be I doubted whoever it was could adapt to the fighting style and unit tactics I was already accustomed to. 

Sin and Boa conferred with one another before leaning back in their seats.  Nepech looked pleased with himself, while the two women simply looked uneasy, which unnerved me. Oh how I did not wish to be locked away in the infirmary though.  I waited… Sin finally inclined her head and I let out a breath that I hadn’t known I was holding.

“Two days Nepech, but you must understand that you are taking responsibility not only for yourself but for Sirona’s well being, and I want a full written report at the end of your duties on how she is doing.  I do not like this.  Destiny, cannot afford to be short a healer of Sirona’s caliber, nor can we afford to be without a Sorcerer of yours.  So both of you, I want you to be cautious.  You leave in the morning.  Sirona, you are a direct subordinate to Nepech for the next two days.  Follow his command and do well.  I would like to see you in the field instead of the infirmary with your talents.  Do not make me regret this Nepech. Both of you are dismissed.”

I stood and bowed, and went for the door, Nepech following me into the hall. 

“Tomorrow morning Sirona,” Nepech called at my retreating back… “Meet me on the Exalted Path! Polyidus will teleport us where we need to go!”  I had heard everything he said, though I disappeared around the corner as he’d said the last, eyes misting with tears, heart heavy with the lies I’d told.  I was on my way home to my beloved, though now I was uncertain that I even deserved him. 

I stopped below the trees in Elyos Square and stood watching the people of Sanctum go by and allowed myself my moment of self pity, wiping the tears from my eyes with angry swipes of my fingers.  I would make this right, somehow.  I would serve my Legion and the people of Elysea and I would make it right.  I would start in the morning with whatever it was Nepech had planned for me.  I would prove my worth and my ability and protect the ones I loved both on and off the battle field. 

I went home.  As I stood opposite the front door to our dwelling I heard Aalairius, his voice raised.  I stepped into our small dwelling to see him standing opposite Toxemia, his armor a bright pretentious pink.

“Aion damn you.  You sick bastard! Who do you think is going to take me seriously in this?”  Aalairius demanded.  I covered my mouth with my hands and forced down my laughter.  Tox stood at our small galley counter, hip against the counter, arms nonchalantly crossed, grinning.

“I kinda like it, lawls.” He answered.

“It’s… a becoming color on you my love.” I laughed.  Aalairius turned sharply toward me and jabbed a finger in my direction.

“Don’t you encourage him; I don’t have time to dye this before we go out tomorrow.” His eyes smoldered, and he raked his gauntleted fingers through his white locks, causing them to stick up at odds.

I closed the door behind me, suddenly somber and turned to my beloved and dearest friend.  Aalairius’ face fell and Tox’s expression became guarded.  Tox pulled out a chair at our small table and Aal led me to it.  I sat and Aal with me, Tox moved around our small galley and put on some Ferilla tea.

“I won’t be with you tomorrow.  Sin, Boa and Nepech decided that after… my time away that I may not be fit for a return to duty so soon.  They were going to have me work the infirmary for a time, it sounded like… but Nepech convinced them to allow him to take me into the field and test me over the next two days.”

Aalairius slammed his gauntleted fist into the table and swore.  Tox handed me a cup of tea.

“I don’t like it!” Aal burst out.  “Sin and Boa haven’t the right, if you say you’re fine then you’re fine, who the hell are they to…” I placed my hand over his and he quieted.

“Sin is our Brigade General; do not blame her for putting the many of Destiny over the desires of one or two.”  My words were gentle but a scolding none the less.

“I’m going to talk to them, see if they’ll reassign me to go with you tomorrow.” He rose and I set my cup down with a clatter.

“You will do nothing of the sort Aalairius. I do not need to be coddled. I will go with Nepech and I will be fine, it’s only two days and whatever it is, if Nepech can do it, I can do it or perhaps I really do belong in the infirmary and not out of the field.”  Tox pushed himself off from the Galley counter.

“Aal, I think you ought to leave this one alone.  Sirona and Sin are right you know. You don’t come back the same after something like that.  Sometimes you need a little longer than you think to get back into the swing of things.”  He waggled his hips to illustrate the last and I laughed.  Aalairius raised an eyebrow and took a breath to speak; I was afraid of what he’d say to our friend and lightly smacked his breast plate.  He smiled at me and my heart gave a twist.  Aalairius and I had no trouble getting back into anything behind closed doors.  However, Toxemia did not need to know that.  Tox's voice took on a more serious tone.

“I didn’t get these sharpening my swords Aal.” He said indicating the crossed scars on his face.  “Torture messes you up.” He took a Mela fruit from the bowl on the table and bit into it crisply and I bowed my head, taking a moment to hide the flicker of memory that crossed my face behind my hair. Aalairius sighed, he was there at night when I woke screaming, and he knew the truth of it.  He stripped off his gauntlets and took my hands between his.

“Get out Tox, if I’m to let her go in the morning I want some time with my woman.” 

Tox laughed. “Oooo can I watch?” he asked.

“I said get out.” Aalairius called Toxemia a name that made my ears burn and finished with “…and buy me some blue dye to fix this mess you bastard!”

The door closed firmly behind our friend and quiet settled over our little dwelling.

“I don’t like it.” Aalairius said, and stilled me as I was about to say something in retort by kissing me softly, cradling the side of my face in his hand, his thumb gently resting on my lips.  “I failed you once and I won’t let that happen again.  I promise you.”  He sat back, grim, his plate making the movement restricted, but he got his point across, that he would brook no argument.  I was about to give him one anyway.

“Do not become so protective that I can not perform my duties Aalairius.  That would be a failure in and of its self.  Destiny depends on both of us and both of our abilities.  You did not fail on the beach that day.  Nor did I, Aion has a plan and though you or I may not understand it, it is His will and we are His vassals. 

I spoke rarely of my faith with Aalairius, I knew he was skeptical even though he never begrudged my belief in Aion, though now his skepticism showed on his face.  He finally gave an equal parts disgruntled and exasperated sigh.

“Humor me beautiful.  Send word by Shugo messenger, express if you have to, that you’re okay each night.” He held up his hands seeing I was about to protest the cost. “I don’t care about the kinah, I will give you plenty for this before you go.”  I thought about it, and finally pursed my lips and nodded my agreement.

I kissed Aalairius and rose; I had time enough to check and secure my armor and weapons, and to restock my cube with potions and remedies before setting out tomorrow… I used that time wisely and as I fell asleep in my beloved’s arms that night I prayed silently that I could do what was expected of me and that both my ability and sanity would not be left in question. 

Saturday, December 26, 2009


The report Boa had requested was written and rested in my hands - several heavy sheets of parchment laden with ink, thick with omitted truths.  I stood in the white dress Elethor had given to me on one of Sanctum’s many terraces and crossed my arms, suddenly chilled.  I had written everything of my capture and as many details as I could commit to the page on my torture.  I included the name of the assassin Switchkin and the sorceress Kuraia for I did not owe them anything.  For a while I thought to myself that I owed them pain, but what would revenge accomplish me?  I thought hard on that question as I visualized the sorceress on the floor, her body broken burned and bleeding as mine had been and I felt sick.  So no, I owed them nothing neither safety nor pain, but I would not protect their identity.

            Elethor, Evensong and Haji, on the other hand, I owed everything.  So when it came to the point in my report where Elethor took me from the torture chamber, I wrote the truth - that he moved me and that I did not know him, but when it came to the rest… well then, I lied. Though it killed a small part of me to do so, but there just wasn’t any other way.

The rest of the celebration had gone well the night before, but I still heard Nepech, Sin and Astat laying plans for rifting into Asmodae, and forays into the Abyss.  It frightened me, the thought of the two sorcerers coming against Evensong or Haji … or worse, my Elethor.  Though I was not meant to, I also heard an exchange between Sin and Nepech about scouting reports and the Balaur, and information being held in Heiron.  I pressed the conversation from my mind as it was not something for my ears, but I could not help but chain these things together and wonder… Had I been taken for a reason?

            Though I was a Centurion in Destiny I was not privy to all the Legions comings and goings.  Oddly, when Sin approached me with the position it was not for militant reasons.  She had seen me speaking with Legionaries, one in particular that was going through a rough time on the front.  I was assigned the rank of Centurion, and my given duty was to simply take care of our people - to be an ear and to be a comfort, a go between if you will, to be a voice for our Legionaries to the Brigade General and other Centurions of Destiny.  It was a position of trust, a position I would no longer deserve once I handed this report to my superiors.

            I closed my eyes and prayed.  Aion please let this be the right decision. I stood very still for a long moment and let the sorrow wash over me at what need be done before steeling my resolve.  I strode up the steps and down the lane to the Legion’s Board, a hard lump in my throat, tears pricking the backs of my eyes.  I bypassed the storefronts and took a side entrance, stepping lightly down the spiral stairs down into the heart of Sanctum.  I passed several Centurions and Legionaries from some of Sanctums’ most valiant Legions, and several from some of her start-up Legions as well.  Each bearing their own Legion's cloak, each with their unique crest. I saw the silvery wings of Wanted’s emblem and the skeletal figure that was Hardcore as I traversed the hall, further down until I reached the Brigade General’s office with Destiny’s plaque riveted to the front. 

            I took a deep breath and knocked.

            “Enter.”  I heard Nepech’s masculine voice emanate through the wood.  I grabbed the door’s handle, hitting the catch with my thumb, squared my shoulders and stepped through the door, the heavy planks swinging inward on well oiled hinges.

            The room was neither extremely large nor very small, it could hold twenty Daevas comfortably, but no more.  Maps and book cases cluttered the walls, a low square table sat in the center of the room, chairs around it, ten in all and yet more maps sprawling across the scarred wood surface.  The maps on the table always changed, and today it seemed it was Heiron.  I quelled my thoughts on any activities my Legion may be undergoing in Heiron once again and closed the door behind me.  Sin was at her large desk in the corner, Boa just behind and to her right; Nepech perched upon one of the stools before them both.  A chair with a rigid back and sturdy legs sat vacant beside the sorcerer. 

            “Sirona, please have a seat.” Sin waved me in and gestured to the chair.  I stepped forward and handed her the folded parchment of my report, my stomach lurching and took the proffered chair. It was as hard and uncomfortable as it looked.  With a flick of her wrist a sharp thin dagger appeared in Sin’s hand and she sliced the wax seal from the sheaf of papers.  She read the first one, and handed it to Boa who then began to read.  I sat quietly as the pages went from Sin, to Boa and finally to Nepech.  We all sat in silence as each of them finished until Nepech finally looked up from the report and folded the papers back into shape, his eyes burning.

            “So you know nothing of the three?”  He turned on me, “You were with them for three maybe four days and you know nothing?”  He was angry with me and my heart sank.  He knew, Aion help me, he knew I wasn’t telling the truth, but I had to protect them… I had to.

            “I’m sorry, but no.  I was unconscious for a lot of it, and when I wasn’t they spoke Asmodian… I couldn’t understand them.  I just knew in my heart they weren’t going to hurt me like the sorceress and assassin had. I hung my head and tried very hard to keep my thoughts out of that hot, dark room.

            “Your report is complete, yes?”  Sin asked me and I looked up at her sharply and swallowed.

            “Yes General.” I answered.

             “You’ve remembered nothing else, left nothing out?” Boa asked brow wrinkled with concern.  I swallowed, it was now or never and it was time to choose, my dearest friends, or my Legion.  I silently prayed to Aion that I made the right decision, the crystal of Elethor’s eyes swimming up from the depths of my mind… He had made this very same decision and he had chosen me. With renewed resolve I chose.

             “No, I’ve remembered nothing else, nor have I left anything out.”  I lied.  Aion save me, I lied and in doing so I protected them, but Aion, Father… I lied to them.  Sin sat back in her chair, thoughtful.

             “Please Sirona have a seat in the hall, Nepech will fetch you when we’ve made a decision about your return to active duty.”  She smiled and I think it was meant to be encouraging but the smile never reached her eyes.  I nodded and stood, stepping lightly across the room, hollow with my betrayal, I closed the door and leaned on the wall beside it heavily, my emotions warring with one another my chest tight and aching with guilt. 

            I spent what felt like an eternity in the hall, my guilt weighing heavier on me with each passing moment.  Waiting for Nepech to come, waiting for the three of them to tell me I was a disgrace and that I was dismissed from Destiny.  I deserved nothing less.  I leaned against the cool marble, my hands folded before me; head bowed and prayed, falling into a light meditation as I waited.  It helped with the pain in my feet and my calves.  I had debated wearing the white dress, with the scars as bad as they were, but decided I needed something of my friends with me, if only to remind me of the grace they visited upon me in my hour of need, and the loyalty that deserved.

            A light touch to my shoulder brought me back to myself.  I started gently and looked up.  Nepech stood beside me, very close, and asked

            “Are you all right?”

            I searched his chocolate brown eyes, and for the first time, I did not see anger there but a very real concern.

            “I’m fine Nepech; you act like you’ve never seen a Cleric at meditation before.”  I smiled, and played it off lightly but he was having none of it.

             “I’ve seen Boa meditate, but not like that.”  He took his hand from my shoulder and straightened his coat by tugging at the waist.  “In any event, we’ve reached our decision.  Come with me baby doll.”  He turned sharply and crossed the hall, stepping through the door leaving me to follow, which I did obediently.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays!

As the snow falls in Beluslan and the sun shines in Heiron, may all the Asmodians and Elyos alike have a very merry Solorius holiday, and many of Aion's blessings this season. 

Thank you for reading! 

~Sirona~Aalairius~Elethor~Toxemia~Kuraia~Sin~Boa~Evensong~Haji~Switchkin~Nepech~Astat~ and many others from the North American Ariel Server!

More of My Sirona will be posted after Christmas, so for now be safe be happy and tidings of comfort and joy!

Monday, December 21, 2009


            Some time later, we were washed and clean and in the outer dressing room.  Several bulky paper wrapped packages rested on a low bench, each with my name on them, each in a different hand.  I turned to Aalairius.

            “What is this?” I asked.

            “By the time I got back to the village you were gone.  Your chain too… so everyone pitched in and either made you something or bought you something to replace it.” He rested his large hands on my shoulders and I looked at him in disbelief.

            “They…”  I began but I did not finish, I was speechless.

            “Your Legion loves you Sirona, I love you. Now get dressed, we have some place to be.”  He swatted my backside and sauntered over to where his gear lay and began suiting up. 

I picked up the first package and undid it. A beautiful set of blue chain gloves… My Legion had spared no expense, after the gloves there were boots, greaves, a pair of shoulders, a hauberk all of them a beautiful shade of blue set off by the color of Ervio petals, I finally reached the last two packages, and I sat there dressed in my new chain, earrings and necklace also in place, new rings on my fingers and unwrapped the largest package with shaking fingers.  A beautifully worked shield with Destiny’s Legion crest sat among the discarded paper and tears sprang to my eyes and rolled down my cheeks.

“Sin had that made especially for you.” Aalairius said gently as he knelt beside me.  I wrapped my arms around his neck and cried into his shoulder, over whelmed.  He laughed softly into my hair and said “You haven’t even opened the last one.”

I hefted the bulky wrapped package and tore the paper.  A mace lay within, the head the shape of a skull in a plate helm.  I looked at Aalairius… the weight was exquisite and it swung with beautiful follow through, the shape… the shape left much to be desired which meant only one thing.

“Let me guess…” I said. “Toxemia?”  He laughed and nodded at me.  The thing was garish, but there was no denying the amazing craftsmanship that had gone into it.  I finished suiting up and took my lovers hand.

            “Where do we need to be?” I asked.

“We’re a little late all ready.” Aal said ushering me out into the bright evening sun.  I squinted and rushed to keep pace beside my lover as we made our way through Sanctum, the streets we followed leading us to the airship dock.

            “Outer dock?” I mused more to myself than anything as we took our place in line for the airship. 

            “Yes.” He answered absently, his hands rested on my shoulders towards my neck, gently kneading where the new armor would allow.  I leaned back against his plate with a soft click of metal on metal and closed my eyes.  I still tired easily, though I wasn’t about to admit it.  I wished to return to active duty, and soon.  Though I did not know when that may occur.

            The airship docked and we boarded, I loved these vessels.  Such an amazing feat of creativity… I smiled and looked toward the bow toward our destination and soaked in the sun despite my watering eyes.  Aalairius retreated to speak with one of the merchants from his family’s trade dynasty briefly when he spotted them, leaving me to myself for a moment, all though he never really stopped watching me.

            The ship docked and I stepped lightly onto the gleaming stone of outer dock, lacing the fingers of my free hand through Aalairius’ he drew me toward the Dionysia Tavern and as he stepped into the dimly lit interior I paused to let my eyes readjust. Before they could I heard the applause, whistles and cheers, and my Legion surged forward, many welcoming me home.

            My breath caught and my eyes misted.  So many familiar faces greeted me and some very new.  Tox came forward and pointed at me leaning forward until he poked my nose before giving me a silly grin and hugging me.  He wore an eye patch and I frowned.

            “Are you hurt?” I asked.

            “No.” he said.

            “Then why do you wear it?” I asked.

            He put an arm around my shoulders and led me to the bar and said, “ ‘cause I like it,” he said it in such a way that I laughed, mollified.  As we reached the counter I let him order me a drink.  Aalairius came up to us and kissed me deeply. 

            “Hands off my woman.” He said and punched Tox in the arm lightly.

            “Didn’t you know? Sirona’s mine now…” 

I snickered as they bantered back and forth, though the subject of their play allowed my thoughts to creep back to darker places covered in snow and ice bringing with it the scent of herbs and earth, parchment and ink… 


I turned to the back of the tavern and where the call had come from and left Aalairius and Tox to their conversation which had diverted to tactics or some such, I followed the sound of my name and I found our Brigade General Sin and her lover Boa along with Nepech and Astat at a table, ensconced in a private corner.  Nepech stood and offered me his seat, choosing instead to sit in Astat’s lap. I smiled and sat gratefully, my feet all ready beginning to ache from standing.

Boa spoke first. “How are you feeling?”

“I’m all right.” I answered.  I smiled at her, and she smiled back her large dark eyes coming to life with warmth. 

Sin leaned forward the charms on the hilts of her swords chiming softly.

“We have questions Sirona…” at a look from Boa she changed her wording, “I have questions, what were they after can you tell us?”  She stared at my face intently, trying to read my expression.  I tried very hard to school my features into a neutral mask, for I knew what questions like these would lead to.

“They wanted the location of our Legion’s goings on in Heiron.” I answered honestly.  “I gave them nothing Sin, I swear it, by Aion’s light I swear it… I don’t know what they wanted beyond that, they never got passed that question.”  I leaned back on the low stool, the shield on my back clicking against plate.  Aalairius’ hands descended upon my shoulders as I started, jumping in my seat, with the sudden bitter copper taste of fear on my tongue. I hadn’t heard him come up behind me, so intent had I been on our Brigade General. Sin frowned at my beloved and leaned back, placing her hands on the scarred wooden table, nails tapping a staccato of irritation on the boards.

“What of the three? The masked ones Nepech, Toxemia and Aalairius saw?”  I gave my best blank look and Sin looked exasperated. “The Asmodians, Sirona.  The three Asmodians that returned you to us.”  Sin’s nails tapped a rhythm on the table.  I had been dreading this question for the last two days, since I woke… and I swallowed hard and thought furiously on what I could say that would satisfy her, yet keep them safe.

“I…”  I didn’t know what to say. I was saved by an unlikely ally.

“She’s home Sin, and this is supposed to be a celebration.  Not an interrogation.”  Astat chided. I looked over to the large man, Nepech perched on his thigh.  Astat held his beloved around the waist and gave me an encouraging smile.  Nepech looked lost in though, his brow furrowed, features dark with anger.  We all remained silent for several passing moments, laughter and the clinking of glasses, cheering and music permeated the air, yet our table was still locked under a pall of tension.  Boa broke first, her small quiet voice drawing all of us to look at her, which was very unusual for the tiny woman.

“None of this can be, or should be settled here.  Sirona will you submit a full written report of your time…” she paused searching for the right word finally settling on “away, by evening tomorrow?”  I nodded, agreeably.

“Good.  Bring it to the Legion house here in Sanctum, we will review it, ask any questions and give you your returning assignment.  You’ll be placed on active duty as soon as may be.”  Sin rapped her knuckles on the table and smiled her grin wolfish.  “You’re one of our best Clerics, I want you back in the field, and soon.”  Though her words kind, the tension at our table had not abated which is why when we heard the crash and the tinkling of broken glass, most of our table went to their feet, and turned toward the sound, some with glimmering fingertips others with weapons half drawn… my own shield rested on my arm and out before me.  Sudden noises in a room full of jumpy soldiers used to the front lines in the abyss made for interesting reactions. We all laughed nervously and put our equipment away.  A shout and a cheer rose from the bar, several of the Legion’s women whistled and called.  Toxemia was on the bar, stripped to his under things and dancing.

“Someone had better stop him, before he does something regrettable.” Boa said, but it was all but lost under all our laughter.  Aalairius bent double his plate shivering on his muscled frame as he laughed so hard he found it hard to breathe.  I laughed as well… so that tears sprang to my eyes.

When the tension was thick enough to cut with a knife, leave it to Toxemia to bring his swords.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


            The water was warm and soothing to me.  Here in the bath house it was dimly lit, we were in a private room which was expensive but given my beloved’s connections I knew that for him, it was a trifling thing. I suppose that aside from being here that the lighting adjustment was also Aalairius’ doing. I had returned from the dark of Asmodae and though gone for just a scant eight days my eyes had grown accustomed to the perpetual night and I now found myself to be sensitive to the bright of Elysea.  Of course, Daeva’s were known to adapt quickly, so I was sure it would not be a permanent hindrance.    

            He held me in his lap as we lazed in hot water up to my neck, my head resting on his chest; he trailed fingertips up and down my spine light enough to make me shudder.  He laughed a little, the sound making me start, sending the water lapping against the pool’s edge.

            “What’s so funny?” I asked, even though I all ready knew the answer.

            “The reactions I get out of you.” He answered predictably.  I cuddled closer to him, though in the heat of the pool, it wasn’t for warmth.  I had missed him terribly.  I kissed the side of his neck softly and breathed him in.  He always smelled vaguely of the forge, of light and stone, metal and heat. His breath escaped him in a shuddering sigh and his hand rose out of the pool, and with gentle, yet calloused fingers he tipped my chin to look up at him.

            “I love you.” He whispered, and claimed my lips with his own before I could utter a reply.  The kiss was soft, and almost chaste, but I desired more than chaste.  I flicked my tongue across his lower lip, a quick teasing caress, and he groaned deeply, his arms locking around my body drawing me against him as our kiss deepened.  He broke first, drawing back gasping as I maneuvered beneath the waterline so that instead of sitting sideways across his lap on the low I had a knee to either side of his hips.  He always had to slouch low in the bath houses, his towering height a disadvantage when trying to soak any aches or muscle strains away and I used his decided disadvantage to my benefit now by slipping my lower legs around his back.  I wound my arms about his neck and kissed him again, twining my body around his in the heated waters melding our bodies as closely together as possible.  He had one muscled arm around my lower back drawing me near and supporting me, while the other rested against my upper back, his fingers massaging my neck and trailing in a tingling wash across my skin.

            I shivered under his touch and he smiled against my mouth laughing under his breath.  I drew back to look him in the eyes and what I saw was so much warmth, love and devotion it made my throat close and it was suddenly hard to breathe for a moment.  I smiled at him and let my love for him fill my eyes and we kissed again, the meeting of lips finally giving way to more intimate touching that made my blood sing, and my heart soar.

Monday, December 14, 2009


            Men’s voices: the first deep and soothing, yet with a note of irritation. 

            “She’ll be fine. You fret worse than a woman, which is why I do not live with one.”

            I was warm, and rested someplace soft though I wasn’t quite to the point where I could stir and so I listened.  The next was strong and familiar to me, and held a strain and sorrow to it that broke something in my heart to hear.

            “I failed her; I failed her and look what they’ve done to her.” A light touch settled on the back of my hand where it rested on my stomach and stayed there.

              Another voice, masculine and still, yet lighter than the first.

            “So we pay them back Aal.  We send every last one of them back to their bind points and with any luck, back to the aether they were born from, never to be seen or heard from again.”
            I frowned and a fourth voice came to me.

            “She’s waking up.”  This voice too was familiar, light and playful as ever: Toxemia.  I dragged myself up out of the depths of my slumber and gripped Aal’s fingers with my own where his hand rested on mine, and said the first thing that came to my mind.

            “I missed you.”

            Nervous laughter flittered through the room from the other three men; I heard the first voice, Nepech say,

            “Welcome back baby doll.”

            I opened my eyes and blinked several times waiting for everything to come into focus, Aalairius sat on the bed by my side, he looked so terribly drawn, his complexion nearly gray from exhaustion, his expression pinched with worry.  I smiled at him and traced the stubble on his cheek with gentle fingers, tears springing to my eyes. Tears glittered in his own as he leaned forward and kissed my forehead.

            Toxemia leaned in the doorway to mine and Aal’s bedchamber.  Nepech sat in one of our small galley chairs at the foot of the bed, his lover Astat and the owner of the second voice stood beside him leaning against the armoire.  Astat’s voice did not match his body; he was broad of chest and shoulder and so solidly built it was hard to believe he was a sorcerer for he looked more suited for plate than cloth. I blinked.

            “What? Did Sin send the best in the Legion to watch me sleep?” I asked.  They all laughed.

            “Nah, we loves you Sirona, and Aal needed the company.” Tox said pushing off from the doorway to sit beside the bed on the floor where I could see him better.

            “I’s loves the Tox too.” I said, falling into our playful banter. Tox grinned at me and I smiled back, still holding onto Aalairius’ hand firmly.  I turned my head to take them all in.

            “How long have I been… asleep?” I asked.  Astat answered me.

            “Almost two days. Telemos had his work cut out for him; your legs were pretty bad, he said he wouldn’t be surprised if you were out for three or more.” He fell silent as Nepech sat forward intent on me.

            “Tell us who they were baby girl, Astat and I will tear apart the Abyss and Asmodae and bring you their back hair for a rug.”  Tox laughed but the fire in Nepechs eyes frightened me.  I wasn’t aware he and Astat liked me very much, I hadn’t ever spent much time with them, and our assignments within the Legion usually did not bring us near one another.  I closed my eyes the image of the sorceress Kuraia and the assassin Switchkin surfacing behind my closed eyelids.  I flinched and opened my eyes when Aalairius touched my face, smoothing his thumb along my jaw.

            “Hey, no… It’s okay.” He said his brow creased with worry.  I smiled a little weakly and all four men looked grim.  Tox piped up first.

            “You’ve been screaming a lot in your sleep.  Cursing too, you punched Astat in the face and told him you wouldn’t tell him anything even if the world was ashes and there were no secrets left to keep the last time anyone tried to calm you down.”  I felt my face color a deep crimson with embarrassment and looked to Astat at a loss for words.  He laughed.

            “It’s okay you have a good right hook.  I’d hate to be a Furback on the other end of it when you actually mean it.” He grinned at me and I smiled back… I remember telling the sorceress that at one point, and I had punched the assassin… Switchkin had smiled at me then, he had smiled at me and reached for another one of his knives.

            “I think I’m going to be sick!” I blurted.  Tox jumped back and Aalairius let go of my hands so I could move as I went up on my knees and scrambled for the washbasin in the corner.  I made it, and was rather indelicately sick into the porcelain bowl.  Aalairius knelt beside me and held my hair back, rubbing useless circles on my back in an effort to comfort.  I knelt on the stone floor covered in woven rush mats and waited for my stomach to calm.  Astat handed me a tankard of clean water. 

            Nepech had stood and was as straight as an Egrasi rod, the cloud of almost palpable anger swirling around his head and shoulders again.  I put my back to Aalairius and leaned gratefully into his embrace and away from the mess and got a look at my legs.  They were scarred as they had been in Asmodae from the knees down, though better healed; the faded white of old scars as opposed to the rosy pink of new.

            “They look a lot better.”  I commented, my voice sounding hollow.  Aalairius held me tighter and I tipped my face up to see his.  He looked so stricken and it wrenched my soul to the point I put my hand to my chest above where the first button of my beloved’s shirt that I wore was clasped.

            I put my hand against the floor and shaky, and with the aid of my lover I slowly stood.  It wasn’t terrible, it hurt a bit at first, a deep ache in my bones and the searing pull of tight muscles but eventually I stood with no aid and though Aalairius spotted me I took a few tentative steps.
            “Right, I’ll go tell the Legion.” Tox said grinning and was out the door as I asked…
            “Tell them what?”

            Aalairius lifted me, swinging me up into his arms and brought me back to our bed, settling me on it.  He pulled the blankets over my lap even as Astat took his lover by the shoulder.

            “You two need some time.  We’ll see you tomorrow night.” He said as he steered Nepech out the door.  I was confused. Our bedroom door closed behind them and suddenly we were alone.  I drank in his features as he knelt beside the bed holding my hands in his and suddenly there were tears.  Not in my eyes but in his and he laid his head in my lap and sobbed and said…

            “I’m so sorry I failed you.” His shoulders shook with his grief and I rested my hand lightly in his hair and the other on his back.

            “Shhhhhh you didn’t fail anything.”  I soothed.  He held to me as if it were the last he was to ever see of me, his arms locked around my middle, behind my back and I did the only thing I could… I rubbed useless circles on his back and made gentle sounds until he was all right again.  Although I am not sure he would ever allow himself to truly be all right after his perceived transgression, even though I was firm that none had been committed, at least not by him.
            I trained my thoughts away from Elethor and simply sat with my beloved, cradling him against me…
            Aion, how was I to do this?