Monday, November 30, 2009


            He had fallen asleep in a chair beside his bed where he had tucked me after splinting my legs and tending my hurts as best he could.  He’d had to cut off the scraps of clothes I had been left with; his claws made short work of the task. The material was filthy, caked with my blood, sweat and tears and not worth saving anyway. 

            I was as clean as he could make me; I appreciated his efforts and his clear embarrassment on my behalf to make me so. He had found a shirt, butter soft with age and comfortable with use his frame so large compared to mine the shirt had slipped over my head and would have fallen to my knees or past if I had been able to stand.  He had put a sleep spell on me for the worst of the splinting that had to be done, and immediately tipped a foul tasting herb concoction to dull the pain down my throat as I came to wakefulness. 

            We had not spoken much since my arrival in what were clearly his personal chambers. I had roused in his embrace when the temperature had changed.  He had moved through the snow and ice into some sort of dwelling, a Legion house from the glimpses I caught through the material of his cloak.  He had taken the servant’s stair up more than one floor and slipped carefully into the room we were in now.  He had settled me on the floor before the fireplace and ignited the logs within with a snap of his fingers and a word of command.

            He left me to my self then, cautiously slipping out the door and returning what seemed like an eon later with a steaming washbasin, cloths, bandages and towels.  He knelt beside me, a sincerely apologetic look in his eyes.

            “There is no one else but me. May I?” he had asked in the old tongue holding out his hands to me in a gesture that simply said that he meant me no harm.  I swallowed hard, as a Cleric and a healer I understood better than most that when it came to the wounded there was no such thing as modesty, I was comfortable with what need be done, but I could tell this man was not.  I trembled from exhaustion and my injuries as I nodded attempting to spare him some of the more unpleasant tasks by trying to slip the rag of my beloved’s shirt over my head, the pain and effort to raise my arms was too much.  He furrowed his brow at me and reached forward carefully peeling the cloth away from my skin where it stuck to my body in patches of dried blood. He considered me a moment and gathered the folds of the spoiled cloth in his claws and tore, the material coming away from me with a sound of protestation.  Reflexively my arms covered my chest, modesty winning out after all.  He stared hard into the fire grate, color rising in his cheeks.  I averted my own gaze to the rich rugs that covered the floors.

            Once he had divested me of my breeches, this time to the accompaniment of groans of pain that I could not prevent from escaping me, he got a true look at my hurts and his expression became grave.  He dipped a cloth into the herb infused water he had brought and swabbed carefully around an abrasion to my ribs.  I closed my eyes and tried hard to stay very still.  It hurt, and the antiseptic tincture he applied stung fiercely.  He asked me nothing and I spoke not at all.  I watched his face as he ministered to my injuries; it was clear when his concentration shifted from any previous discomfort to the task at hand, and though he was no healer he was knowledgeable in the rudimentary aide required for most of what had been done to me.

            It took three basins of water and many cloths to tend the cuts and burns, it would take more for my legs which he seemed afraid to go near for the time being.  When all that he could do for me had been done and I was covered by the borrowed shirt, he considered my extremities carefully.

            “This will hurt.” He finally said.  He searched my face and whatever he saw there made his own expression soften.  He took one of my hands gently between his own, carefully so as not to hurt me with those formidable claws. 

            “I would like to spell you now.  It is a spell for sleep, so you do not feel what I have to do.”  I searched his face which looked weary now, and nodded slowly trusting in him and in Aion, I gave him consent.  He eased me to the floor and placed a cushion beneath my head and shoulders.  He searched my face one more time and whatever he saw there must have satisfied him because he uttered a word of command and it was the last I remembered until I woke to find him sleeping soundly beside me.

            I lay there, and watched him until the light from the fire dimmed too far down for me to make out his features in the dark anymore.  The longer I looked, the more familiar to me he became, but I could not place where I knew him from. Finally I slipped my hand into his where his arm rested on the chair, closed my eyes and fell into a light sleep myself.

            I sat atop the low wall and watched Claire laugh at something Elethor said.  He smiled, very pleased with himself as they walked towards me.  I crossed my knees and waited for them.  Lessons were done for the day and we had an hour or so before evening prayer.  Elethor’s expression darkened and his face grew solemn as he neared.

            “When are you going to give that pluma brain what he deserves?” he asked me. Claire frowned at me as well.

            “Want me to knock him around? I have four brothers; the likes of him don’t scare me.” She reached out and tipped my chin to get a better look at the spreading bruise on my face. 

            I shook my head at the both of them.  “No, there isn’t any point to it.  He will grow bored eventually; he’s just an overgrown child.” We spoke of a fellow student in my staff mastery class.  For no apparent reason he had taken an extreme dislike towards me and took every opportunity he had to hurt me for it.

            Elethor’s look darkened further as he raked fingers through his unruly hair. He considered me carefully, scrutinizing. His eyes narrowed and he pursed his lips the aristocratic mask he wore slipping into place and hiding his true feelings as always.  I knew better. He was scheming, and whatever he had planned I did not wish to know about.

            My body convulsed once, shuddering as my conscious mind swam to the surface.  Twin points of soft red light shone down from above me flashing off then on as the stranger blinked at my hand in his. The fire was a mere glimmer of embers on the hearth and I could not see beyond that, though the stranger had no trouble it seemed.  He squeezed my hand gently once, and slipped his own free from my light grasp. He rose and stretched, and uttered a word once twice, and three times over, a point of light igniting, punctuating each one through out the room.  Oil lamps lit along three of the four walls and with a final utterance and a flick of his wrist the fire in the hearth rose illuminating the room quite well.

            “Thank you.” I said easing back into the pillows mounded at my back.  He considered me before inclining his head gently.  I watched him as he stepped to an armoire in the corner.  He selected clean garments and stepped behind a screen. His voice startled me when it came.

            “Who are your people Sirona?” he asked.  I watched the fresh clothing disappear over the top of the screen and the soiled take their place.  I remained silent, suddenly cautious and unsure. He came back around the screen dressed well in rich blue that brought out the dusky undertones in his skin and with the light better I studied his face for the first time clearly.  He smiled, but it was not a happy one when the dawning struck my own face, my eyes widening mouth opening in a slight little ‘o’ of surprise.  I knew how ridiculous I must have looked but I could not help myself.

            “Don’t look at me like that.” He snapped. I closed my mouth. He just looked so different, the same… but so different, not at all like Evensong had so many months ago at the Eastern Shard.  Tears welled in my eyes and he stepped closer, uncertainty in his step if not on his face. I covered my face with my hands, it would have been better had he remained a stranger… I covered my face with my hands and whispered his name.



Sunday, November 29, 2009


            I had been tortured before.  I had forgotten, and now, as I lay in the dirt, crumpled on my side and watched the sorceress clean my blood from her hands and arms using my legion cloak, I remembered why I had forgotten and prayed that I could forget again.  I did not think I would be as fortunate as that this time. 

            I lay there and tried to relearn how to breathe, my legs and feet from the knee down were burnt and broken so badly now that I couldn’t feel them.  It was a blessing from Aion, but a poor one.  My voice had long deserted me with the ragged screams that had clawed their way from the pit of my being out through my throat.  They had stopped for a while when I had lost consciousness, but had resumed once more when the assassin had put a vile of foul smelling stuff beneath my nose which had brought me sputtering and choking back to this hellish reality.

            Feeling lost, and abandoned by Aion, I had given up on my prayers and I turned my thoughts instead to Aalairius, as much as I could. To the feel of his hands on me, his arms around me, and of seeing him once more.  Those thoughts had dimmed and dissipated hours ago too as the whole of my being became cold and hollow under the relentless assault on my body.  I recalled now the humans I had eased between this world and the next and how they had said they were cold, and the light grew dim, I had never truly understood what they meant until now.  My will was slowly wearing down, not my will to protect my Legion and the people of Elysea mind you.  That was still strong, that still kept my tongue still and silent under their fury and questions.  My will to exist, however, was dwindling fast and it was now that I understood how Daeva’s had become lost to us.  How things like stigma stones came to be.

            The assassin and sorceress, Switchkin and Kuraia spoke in the rough Asmodian tongue in velvet undertones out of my hearing’s range.  No doubt they were devising what to do now.  The assassin, Switchkin’s calm had begun to fray under my steel resolve to say nothing. He was a man that was used to getting results; it vexed him that I provided him none.

            So sudden, it startled even my captors, the heavy wooden door crashed open to its fullest, slamming loudly into the workbench behind its’ swing and rebounding halfway before being stopped by a silk clad arm. 

            The intruder was awe inspiring; his skin was the soft blue of the clouds when they threaten rain, and broad of shoulder.  His hair was somewhere between regulation short and wildly unkempt, and kept in check and out from his eyes by a circlet on his brow.  His expression was hard, and his eyes threatening as his gaze swept over Kuraia and Switchkin.  His voice when it emanated from his broad chest was deep and rolled like thunder.  I could not understand any of the words, but the question in them was clear.  Kuraia’s expression went wintery and her intense gaze icy with defiance as she responded cold and clear.

            Switchkin looked bored as he leaned a hip against the workbench, watching the two.  The new Asmodian male ignored him completely.  I prayed he would not look at me, that he would leave… my first prayer was denied, as his attention swiveled first to the side of the room I was on before his countenance settled toward the floor where I lay.  Something flashed in his eyes as he took me in and his look went at once from aristocratic and cold to one of sheer revulsion.  I disgusted him.  Perfect, maybe he would kill me.
            Instead he barked out what could have been orders and both Kuraia and Switchkin snapped to attention.  He uttered something low and threatening and Kuraia blanched. The commanding Asmodian whirled, long coat snapping around his legs, his legion cloak swirling about his shoulders and he departed, answering my second prayer.

            Switchkin calmly gathered his weapons and their holder and stood by the door waiting.  Kuraia spit on me and snatched her tome off the table before storming out the door.  Switchkin considered me for a moment, his gaze intense and unwavering before inclining his head slightly and following her out.  He shut and latched the door behind him, and I was left alone in the dark, burned, broken and bleeding.  I closed my eyes.

            The sun was warm and the skies clear, it was spring and though the grass was damp we sat in it any ways.  Claire was in trouble again, and had to stay in the cloister and meditate. Evensong had been asked to sing at the equinox festival and had chosen to remain behind with her instructor to practice her mantras.  It was just me, Zenton and Elethor with our books and scrolls and arguments to occupy our afternoon. 

            “There can be no peace with the Balaur.” Zenton seethed his voice low and intense. “Israphel is a fool and Ariel his…” I cut him off sharply.

            “Enough Zenton, there is nothing wrong with either point of view; you’re just being stubborn as always.” I looked at Elethor exasperated and he simply shrugged, refusing to entertain either of us. He simply lounged in the grass, tome open to some obscure spell and chewed a piece of grass, silent on his feelings about the matter as always.  I believed in Lord Isphraphel and Lady Ariel and prayed for peace in my daily meditations.  Zenton however, could not leave me be about it.  It was as if he took it as a personal affront that the idea of peace with the Balaur had even been thought, and that the idea that I agreed with it was simply absurd.  Zenton fumed silently for a moment before turning to me.

            “You’re weak Sirona.  Soft and silly and no one need a soft cleric at their back in battle.”  I was hurt by my friends words and I looked to Elethor to see if he felt the same, but Elethor had gone very still, his gaze directed toward our headstrong friend was considering and very unfriendly in that moment. I swallowed my retort and lowered my vision to my open book of prayers, in that moment opting for peace within my circle of companions.

            I do not remember falling asleep, perhaps I had not, and maybe I had simply passed out.  I opened my eyes in the small subterranean room my captors held me in and did not move.  I was stiff and the agonizing grinding fire in my destroyed legs made its self known.  Something had woken me and I strained to hear what it was. The bolts on the door were sliding; they made a resounding thock as they slid home in their holders.  The door swung open silent and tapped gently against the workbench. 

            My breath came ragged and uneven with the rush of fear.  The Asmodian male from earlier stepped through the darker portal the door way had left, the dim light from the furnace glittered off of his finery and his eye glowed faintly as he swept all four corners of the room.  He swung the door into a semblance of being closed without fully latching it and stepped toward me, unfastening his Legion cloak at the shoulder as he moved.  I closed my eyes resigned to what I thought sure was to come and wondered vaguely to myself who would want me that way in this state?  As his clawed feet grew closer I shoved feebly at the ground in a bid to get away.  The tears spilled hot and sudden down my cheeks, cutting tracks in the blood and grime there.

            “Nnn.. nnnno, no, no.” I stammered as he knelt in front of me, swinging his Legion cloak over my prone body as he made shushing sounds.  I sobbed wildly voice catching in my throat like a wounded animal as he said something over and over in Asmodian that I couldn’t understand.  My hands fluttered against his chest, too weak to inflict any damage, utterly useless in fending him off.

            “Shhhhhh… shhhhh… shhhh. You’re graxiichealet.” He said in his deep voice, sounding desperate the more sound I made.

            “Please, no… no. Not this, not this.” I begged futile as his arms went around me and he pulled me into his lap. 

            “Hushhhh hushhhh. Sirona.” He rocked me and at my name I stilled… how did he know my name?  His voice, when it came next from the dark, was rough over the words long disused.

            “You’re safe Sirona. You are safe now. Shhhhhh.” He spoke Olde Daevic, pre-cataclysm speech and he knew my name.  I sat in the stranger’s lap in the dark, broken and hurt beyond any hurt I had ever been before and wept both bitterly and with relief upon his chest.
            Safe I thought to myself.  I would never be safe again.

            “Who are you?” I asked in the old tongue.

            “That does not matter now, what matters is that I have to get you out.” He wrapped his legion cloak around me, tucking it close to my body to keep me warm and I think to try to stave off shock.  He stilled for a few moments before carefully sliding one arm beneath my knees above my ruined legs and the other behind my back.

            “I cannot promise that this will not hurt.” His voice, velvet over iron sounded sorry, but before I could respond he lifted me in his arms and got to his feet.  Pain jolted through my legs, ribs and back and my vision was suddenly shot through with streamers of crimson and gold.  I think I vomited on him before I passed out. I can’t really be sure.

            I don’t remember much of what happened next in a linear fashion.  I know that he took me from the scorching heat of that fetid room, and I was dimly aware that we traversed a long corridor.  He kept me well wrapped in his Legion cloak, the material soft and flowing, it was long enough that it covered my ruined legs and hung past my feet hiding the lower half of my body from view.  He was tall enough and broad enough in the shoulder that the cloak wrapped my torso and hooded my face from view as well.

            For all anyone looking at us knew I could have been an Asmodian female that had over indulged being carried off to bed in her man’s embrace.  Though it was dark in Asmodae all the time, I gathered that this was their deepest night time hour as I saw no one stir, and in fact we passed several men sprawled in the corridor.  Unconscious from too much drink, several of them snored softly.

            We were in some sort of barracks or common house.  The tap room was vast, banners for many different Asmodian Legions fluttering from the rafters.  I buried my face in my savior’s shoulder and breathed through my pain.  He smelled good, of herbs and earth, ink and parchment.  I listened to the even beat of his heart as it matched his long purposeful strides, biting my lip against the wretched pain as the shards of bone in my broken legs, ankles and feet ground together with each movement like so many bits of broken glass.  I whimpered helpless to keep the small sounds of pain from escaping my throat when he was forced to step over some obstruction in his path, jostling me in his arms.  Though he wore the cloth of a sorcerer, he was physically strong, holding me aloft for that long with ease like he did. 

            When we reached the door to the outside, he hefted my broken body slightly and made sure his Legion cloak was tucked well around me before shouldering the door open out into the frigid night air.  The cold made me gasp, as it knifed through the cloak and ate along my burned flesh, razor sharp and clean.  The pain mounted with every sure stride he took. I watched him for as long as I could, the set of his jaw firm and the red glowing haze emanating from his eyes shifting this way and that, as he scoured the way ahead for any potential trouble. 

            I could feel my body grow heavy and lethargic, with every bump and jolt and the increasing cold.  I closed my eyes and prayed to Aion.

            Please Aion, let his intentions be good.  Do not let me trust in error.

            I struggled to stay conscious, to see where he took me, but I could not… the white of snow and gray of stone blurred in my vision, until finally, dizzy, I closed my eyes.  I felt him quicken his pace further as my body went lax in his arms, then, mercifully, the darkness swallowed me whole.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I hurt. There was no telling where I was, just that the floor was dirt, it was pitch dark and it was very hot. It took an age before my eyes adjusted to the dim light emanating from the grate set in the front of the heavy black furnace. I was in a box shaped stone room. Not large, and a basement of some sort by the looks of it. Two heavy wood beams supported the ceiling, set apart from each other and the center, and the floor was soft dirt.

I had been stripped of my chain, and sat there in my cloth breeches and one of Aalairius’ old shirts that I had worn beneath it. My feet were bare and a chain snaked across the floor from the support beam, to the shackle locked tight around my ankle. The stone of the walls here was colored gray, neither the colors of the Abyss nor the familiar warm brown of home. So, I wasn’t in the Abyss, nor was I in Elysea… I was in Asmodae then. I closed my eyes and breathed deep and even, and fought the rising tide of panic that surged in my breast even as my hopes of rescue and my heart sank. I huddled against the wall and waited, and prayed.

Aion protect me, for I know not what they will do.

I had no concept of the passage of time in the dark space they kept me in, nor could I roam far from the central point they had me tethered to like some mongrel. The furnace was set in the wall opposite the entry to the room; the door set in the wall was heavy iron-bound wood, the same wood as the support pillars centered in the floor. The wood was not something I had seen before but was very like the hard ulmus wood of Heiron. I know because I tried to see if I could unseat the ring that was set into the pillar where my chains called home. It was not possible.

The wall opposite where I huddled was taken up mostly by a solid work bench, again of the same solid wood as the door. I could not get close enough to see if anything rested upon it, my chains being anchored to the wood beam farthest from that side of the room. They kept me on a short leash so it seemed. I sat in the dark and did the only thing I could do by continuing to pray.

Faint echoes, the sound of rhythmic tapping interrupted me mid psalm, the sound resolved into the clack of booted footsteps from the ether, pacing up what sounded like a stone corridor outside my prison door. I sat with my back to the stone wall in the corner and glared defiantly as the lock clicked and the door swung inward on well oiled hinges, surprisingly silent. A door that massive should make a sound upon opening, a creak or a groan at the very least.

The Asmodian sorceress from the village glided through the portal made by the door just as soundlessly, an Assassin, blades crossed at his back her shadow. She was pretty, skin creamy and pale auburn hair artfully arranged about her face where the strands escaped its tail. Her robes were the color of cerulean and the sins she was about to commit clear in the hatred exhibited on her sharp features.

I was going to bleed, but they would not have the satisfaction of what they wanted. I set my jaw firmly and resigned myself for what was to come.

“You will talk us about Legion’s place.” She said in broken Elysean.

I raised my chin in defiance. She nodded at the assassin with her and he stepped forward, unsheathing his blades and setting them on the workbench. I watched him warily as he stripped off the accompanying leather holster for his weapons and laid it carefully beside the blades. He was tall, and well muscled, somewhere between the wiry muscle that Toxemia’s slender frame held for the more acrobatic maneuvers and the solid muscle that was so familiar to me when Aalairius held me close. His hair was close cropped and black and his eyes when they did not glow with red were a lovely jade green yet cold, as if no one were home, empty and devoid of any emotion.

A flash of movement though I did not see him make it, and I was sprawled back into the dirt, my jaw ached fiercely from the kick and I tasted copper from the cut my own teeth inflicted on the inside of my mouth. I spit in the dirt at the sorceress’ feet and he kicked me in the gut. I doubled over gasping and watched her calmly hoist herself onto the workbench to sit and ask her questions and watch the assassin work.

“Your Legion place are belong to us. You tell us, you not hurt.” She brushed a bit of imaginary dirt from her skirt and crossed her booted legs at the ankle, swinging them back and forth like a child would. It was a disturbing image.

I dragged myself to my feet, the chain at my ankle rattling against it’s self. The sorceress quirked a perfect auburn brow and I lunged at her. The assassin was too quick and I was knocked back into the pillar, and to the floor, where I was kicked repeatedly until drawing breath was a myth and I retched in uncontrollable racking sobs. The assassin had not even broken a sweat.

I huddled in on myself making myself as small as possible as the beating and the questions dragged on. They would not allow me to break to the point my soul would return to where it was bound. They were very careful not to do that. I was very careful to give them nothing, not a sound, not a word not a scream… nothing.

The assassin was very patient and methodical, the more I listened to the shrew of a sorceress natter at him the more I was able to pick out words here and there that made sense to me. I gathered that his name was Switchkin and hers was Kuraia, the only time he spoke was to, in my best approximation; inform her of my body’s limits, allowing me enough restoration so that the beating could continue.

Hours passed and the sorceress’ frustrations with me grew to anger, and finally fury to the point that she took some of the beating into her own hands. Finally she grasped the hilt of one of the assassin’s blades and as she raised it above her head to strike me down I felt a moment of triumph, which was very short lived.

The assassin stopped her downward swing with a strong hand around her wrist. He glared at her and took the sword, shoving the blade into the furnace fires. He spoke to her in a soft, evenly controlled voice and her eyes widened. I thought she was going to slap him at first but she cringed a bit and stepped away, finally nodding.

“You are belong to us.” She sneered. “You can no escape. Switchkin be sure of dat.” My attention swerved back to the assassin who had removed his blade from the fires, the metal glowing rich orange. I looked back to the sorceress whose eyes burned hotter, a slow smile spreading her lips into a predator’s grin of anticipation. My chest squeezed down tight, and tighter. I knew there could be worse, there was always worse.

“Soft pink feet.” She said as the assassin advanced, and then as the heat of the blade neared my skin… I did scream.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


“Tell me you love me.” I gazed down into my lover’s face and waited quietly. Aalairius furrowed his brow, his large hands idle on my hips, thumbs stroking over my hip bones lightly as I straddled his waist.

“Of course I love you. Why would you even doubt that? I’m crazy about you baby.” He responded. I bent carefully and kissed him softly.

“I don’t doubt it,” I spoke with my lips on his, feather light. “I just need to hear it sometimes.” He grinned, a slow spreading of lips against my mouth and murmured back.

“I love you Sirona, and I am going to show you just how much.” He lifted me easily, muscles in his chest and arms barely straining as he placed me gently on my back in our bed and made good on his promise.

It was the rainy season in Elysea, the drops pattered on the outside of our bedroom windowpane as we made love that morning. When we managed to raise ourselves out of bed for the day a new set of orders rested on the floor inside our dwelling’s door. Aalairius stooped and picked the envelopes with the Destiny Legion seal done in wax on the outside. He sat at our small dining table in comfortable Sobi cloth pants and open robe as he first opened his.

“The spirits of the fallen are restless outside Jeiaparan village again. Sin wants us to go lay them to rest for the humans there. I need to talk to the guard there it seems and aide in training a couple of the greener recruits in shield tactics.” He looked up and smiled.

“What about mine? Say anything different?” I stirred the Qooqoo eggs in the skillet in our small kitchen and waited expectantly as he broke the seal on my orders. He frowned slightly and made a face.

“You’re free to do what you wish this morning, you don’t have the order to teach the greenlings.” He leaned back in his chair as I served our breakfast. I set the skillet in the sink and used the pump to pour water in it before returning to the table. Aalairius pulled me into his lap before I could take my seat. I smiled and took a piece of his toast.

“So what are you going to do with your morning beautiful?” he asked voice husky as he kissed my throat. I chewed carefully, and swallowed.

“I need to go to the Temple; I’ve been negligent in my duties as His cleric.” I felt a twinge of guilt; it had been a while since I had gone to temple to meditate, to bring myself closer to Him. Aalairius rocked me in his lap, silent and thoughtful.

“Meet me at the village when you’re done?” he asked. He had never once come between me and Aion. Though he had not once been to the temple either. We simply agreed to disagree when it came to religion and quietly avoided the subject when it came up.

I kissed him deeply and agreed, slipping from his embrace. I left him to his breakfast and gathered what I would need for a short trip to the bath house. Once clean, and armored in my chain I went to the Temple and prayed. When I emerged from my meditations I went at once to the teleport and paid my kinah for a port to Heiron.

The sun was shining and it was warm there, I paid the smaller fee and took flight for Jeiaparan village. I could tell something was very wrong before I even landed. Screams wafted up from the ground borne on the winds to my ears, making my chest squeeze tight with dread.

I landed and hefted my mace, checking my shield was secure on my arm when I heard my lover bellow with rage from behind the village proper, near the water’s edge. An explosion of light and sound arced into the sky from behind the town hall. Spells… Asmodians.

I strode with purpose and haste through the village and rounded the short bluff afraid of what I would find. Aalairius tall and fierce raised his shield to fend off the downward arc of a Gladiator’s battle axe. Aalairius is not a small man, easily a head and shoulders above my height he carried his plate armor with ease, but the Asmodian he faced now… he was a brute of a man. The set of his shoulders almost as wide as he was tall, though shorter than my beloved he was solid.

I did not think, the prayer left my lips unbidden in a desperate cry as Aion’s light filled me and sprang from my fingertips to heal the damage my beloved sustained. I threw prayer after prayer and revived my man’s strength and fervor, the Asmodian sorceress gone unnoticed by me…

It was a costly and foolhardy mistake.

The sorceress spun, eyes flashing and flung what had to be one of her strongest offensive spells when I was at my weakest point, shield lowered, as I myself was mid-cast in a healing prayer meant for my beloved. The spell hit me, full in the chest and I was knocked back, the breath depleted from my lungs, the fiery agony biting along my skin. Before I could recover or even draw breath the sorceress hit me twice more, and as I slipped to my knees, vision swimming and world gone gray she smiled, the most evil little grin to I’d ever seen cross anyone’s lips. She shouted something to the Gladiator, who disengaged from my beloved; she then launched a flaming volley at Aalairius who went to his knees, wings folding around him in defeat. I watched his body waver and disappear as it was pulled through the ether to the obelisk his soul was bound to. I was not so fortunate.

The Gladiator spoke to the sorceress in the rough Asmodian tongue as he approached me, and the sorceress responded with what sounded like instructions. The Gladiator came to my prone body and ripped the mace from my numb fingers and the shield from my lax arm. They disarmed me and took my armor, leaving it in a heap on the beach. The humans of Jeiaparan locked themselves away in their houses as I was flung over the Gladiator’s shoulder in just my cloth breeches and shirt, too hurt to resist. The sorceress, my Legion cloak over her arm opened a portal. The world went black for me before the Glad stepped through.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Teminon landing was all a bustle again. Tox stopped a harried looking Shugo pushing a cart of supplies and asked what was new. The Shugo told us another skirmish had broken out between a group of Elyos and a band of Asmodians at the Eastern Shard again, and that the fight had been steadily growing, neither side prepared to admit defeat. Tox's face transformed in that moment, from semi bored and carefree to an evil little look that screamed he was hell bent on destruction, complete with vicious icy grin. He was gone in a flash, leaving Aalairius and I standing there giving one another a dubious and knowing look as we followed to the transportation Daeva.

Here we go again.

As the Aether vortex spit us out the other side, spilling us onto the green stone of the landing, we knew this was not as bad as we initially thought. The numbers on both sides were fairly even and small, barely enough to fill an Alliance on either side. The din was not as incredible as it had been in past battles, but still managed to reach the crescendo of a dull roar. I could see Toxemia ahead, flitting in and out of the fray, blades glinting and flashing in the muted light of the cavern.

Aalairius and I moved forward, my prayers springing to my lips unbidden, working their way out from my throat clearly and concisely, both healing my people and damaging the Asmodians that affronted them. We were there such a very short time and just beginning to warm up to the fray when it happened... I heard a clear strong and beautiful voice, speaking a foreign tongue to my ear, but still so familiar. I fought on, and tried to put it from my mind when from the other side I saw the arc of a staff and a flash of garnet red...

No, my horrified mind rebelled ageist me... It could not be it wasn't...

I raised my shield and fended off an Asmodian Ranger's arrow, and Chastised him with one of my spells when I heard it... so old but so familiar, something I haven't heard since before the Cataclysm, a familiar voice shouted in Olde Daevic, stilling my Mace mid-swing and shocking me out of reality...

“Hello Sirona!”

I turned, and everything stopped for me, my voice died on my lips, as I saw her, pale skin and sea green eyes, hair long and lovely and the color of spun garnets... Her face was the same, as was her voice, just as it had been in my dream, just as it had been in my memory... Evensong stood before me. My friend, not dead but alive... not dead, but an Asmodian.
My world imploded, a Templar on the Asmodian side took the opportunity, and seized me with blue chains and pulled me into the midst of the Asmodian camp and I did not care, I did not really feel it as they beat my body into submission forcing it into the torpor of being too injured to move. I vaguely heard Aalairius roar his defiance before I just simply gave up... allowing my body to flow into the Aether, coming to my self back at Teminon beside the Obelisk my soul was bound to.

Evensong had not died, she was alive.

She was alive.

She was my enemy?

Thank you to Evensong, for her beautiful 'self portrait' of her character for this post.


            Aalairius is a good man, a savior in battle, fierce and strong. He is also an unparalleled lover, gentle and attentive behind closed doors. I have seen him face an entire Asmodian Legion with no fear at his impending defeat, and fight to the last, I have seen him do the same when it comes to the Balaur... why then, does it terrify him when I cry?

            This I will never know. The look upon his face when he woke that early morning to see me sobbing uncontrollably beside him was something I will not soon forget.  The look of helpless terror that crossed his face as he snatched me into his embrace was not one I was prepared to see, and I must admit, it caught me off guard and frightened me more than a little.

            He made soothing shushing noises as I wept bitterly upon his chest, memories fluttering in my head like so many desiccated leaves caught in a swirl of autumn breeze. He rocked me and rubbed useless little circles against my back and kept asking me what was wrong...  He grew very still and held me with resolve and understanding after I choked out my dream and what it had meant for me. We lay beneath the warm quilts in our bed as the twilit sky that passes for night in Sanctum brightened outside our bedroom window.  We dozed a bit further, but the peace of our morning was going to be short lived.

            I heard them first, stiffening in Aalairius' arms and cursing myself for leaving my mace in the outer chamber of our dwelling. The bedroom door burst open and I reflexively grabbed the sheet and hauled it to my chest to cover myself even as Aal's arms reflexively drew me closer.  Toxemia burst into our room and took a flying leap, flopping onto his stomach onto our bed across my legs.  I grabbed the nearest thing, a pillow and chucked it as his head. He leaned effortlessly to one side as it sailed harmlessly passed him.

            "Tox! What the bloody blue blazes is wrong with you!?" I shouted.  Aalairius began to laugh, and did not or could not stop... Tox Flopped onto his back, head in my lap and gave me his best rendition of innocent eyes.

            I wasn't buying it. 

            "Sirona, Aal come with me to the Abyss and go Asmo hunting.  Pretty please?"  He batted his eyes at me and I rolled mine in answer, trying to hold the sheet to preserve my virtue and simultaneously shove him off me. Aal continued to shake with laughter, arm around my waist, settling me against his chest as he leaned back into our bed's headboard.

            "Tox this is our home!" my voice was high and exasperated, "I don't come barging into your room at the crack of Aion's ass dawn!" I sent a little mental prayer to Him asking forgiveness for taking His name in vain. Tox wiggled back and forth settling himself into my lap better.

            "Ooo Sirona, you're all soft without your chain on. I should come sleep with you and Aal, make it a Toxemia sammich." he grinned at me impetuously; I gave an exasperated yell and shoved with all my might, dropping him off me, my bed and onto my stone floor. Aalairius continued to howl with laughter, not easing the situation in the slightest. 

            "Tox, get OUT!" I yelled. "Yes we'll come with you, but you'd better never do this to us again." Tox bounded to his feet, lithe and cat-like, effortlessly and saluted mockingly before flashing out the door and into the rest of our house, leaving us to suit up... I was going to murder him. I don't know how you murder the immortal but I was willing, in that moment, to perfect the art on Tox.

            The Abyss waited for us, for now... We would see what it had to offer us today.


(For Elethor, Claire, Zenton and Evensong. I'd like to think that before the Cataclysm we were all friends, maybe now not so much due to faction lines, but before...)

It had been a long few days of battle and suffering for both Aalairius and I, with skirmishes in the Abyss, covert operations in the Kaidan Headquarters and forays into Asmodae to discover their fetid pox of a plot against Elysea. We were both exhausted and when we were finally given leave we returned to our small home in Sanctum for a time, and it was here that we finally were able to lay our weapons down and take off our armor and act like the lovers we were for a few hours instead of the battle weary comrades we had been for the last few days.

I felt terrible, and I know he did too, we had been growing increasingly short with one another the more our senses frayed under the pressures of our missions. He had grown irritated with the constant burning anger that had grown in me, and I had grown shrewish at his apparent inability to take our mission seriously. I know now that I had been mistaken, that Aalairius, though a young Daeva was more correct in his attempts to keep the situation light. He did more to improve the morale of our contingent than I had, and for that I was sorry.

Aion save me from myself, sometimes I thought I was going mad. Now we were at peace with one another, warm and close in our bed, bodies entwined as we drifted into a sea of dream, why Aion, why? Why then, did I not dream this night? Why did I not dream but instead, remember?

The sun was warm and the dull roar of the falls sounded distant from up here on the wind swept bluff. I lay on the grass surrounded by my friends and fellow Daevas, all of us new, all of us recently ascended and all of us still considered acolytes, as we learned both the capabilities and limitations of our new powers and mastered the use of our snowy white wings. Today was a day of rest for all across Atreia as the summer days reached their peak. Today was Solstice and today was somber, for the night before my human mother had passed into Aion's embrace.

I was Daeva, yes, but I was one of the unlucky Daeva born of human parents. My father had passed over the winter of the sweating sickness, and I was convinced my mother had simply lost her will to live. Some of the young Daevas around me understood my sorrow, and some, the fortunate ones who were born to Daevic parents, would never know... but all were here by my side as we lay beneath the sun on a mattress of lush green grasses, breathing in the earthy green scent. My friends, Claire a fellow acolyte of Aion, like me in His divine order, and Evensong, whose voice was unparallel in the mantras she sang. The three of us girls, all priestess' in training two of us destined to become warrior clerics and one of us a warrior chantress.

Also on the cliffs that day were Elethor and Zenton, both men, both strong sorcerers, and both very talented, Zenton frighteningly so with his imposing figure and cold affectation. Only the five of us knew that Daeva born Zenton harbored warmth beneath that icy exterior. Not many others would parley with him.

Elethor, however, was kind hearted, both inside and out, and made everyone feel as if they were kin. Funny and exhuberant the son of a Daevic man and Human woman, Elethor was quick to make new friends but very quiet about how he actually felt, his good nature a well honed mask.

Of all of my dear friends only Evensong knew my pain, both her parents human and both lost to her in the war with the Balaur. Evensong had been closest to me in the last few hours, and the best friend a heartbroken priestess could have in the hours since my mother's death.

All of us lay there near the falls that summer day, all of us relaxing, shoulder to shoulder in the grass, simply enjoying one another’s company, quietly chuckling when Elethor made a joke, or each of us silently appreciative as we listened to Evensong sing a hymn. When she stopped, we listened to Zenton's stories of life in the Sorceric academy or his rendition of the old tales. All of them were quiet as I related stories about my family and life as an only child, and all of us were attentive, laughing softly as we listened to Claire's stories about life with siblings...

I watched my friends, memorizing the lines of their faces that perfect summer day. Evensong with her sea green eyes and pale skin, I was so envious of her deep red hair, the color of spun garnets.
Elethor, handsome and strong, tanned golden by the sun, his hair somewhere between regulations short and too-long but always beautifully unkempt and a rich burnished bronze in the light.

Claire, golden hair kept short and pixie-like, matching so well her features, her spring green eyes always smiling, lips rich and lush I envied her too, I always felt so plain with my mouse brown hair and simple blue eyes beside her and Evensong.

And Zenton, strong, proud and seemingly arrogant Zenton, who held my hand in the grass that day and let me grieve the loss of my family, silent and with understanding. I admired the strong line of his jaw as he clenched it. Silently enduring the crushing grip of my hand in his as I fought not to cry, scream and wail my anguish to the serene blue skies. Who knew that under his wintery expression the depth of caring?

We sat on the cliff in the warm summer sun, the Tower of Eternity looming at the center of our world, stretching as far as the eye could see. We lay in the grass and laughed, and I cried, and Evensong sang and as twilight fell we joined in the revelry of Solstice down in the village and I watched them as they all danced...
and a thousand years and two worlds later I woke, in the deepest of night, my lover warm beside me, breathing deep and even, and instead of dreaming... I remembered, and I bitterly wept. My friends I remembered them all so clearly now. I have not seen them since the Cataclysm... my friends were all dead lost in the Cataclysm.

I did not dream that night I know I didn’t. I remembered Aion save me from myself. I remembered everything before the Cataclysm.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Filthy and sweat covered we emerged from the underground of Siel's Western Fortress.  Six of my Legion had been dispatched to eradicate a Balaur nest found to be through a secret aethergate beneath the fortress.  What we found surprised even us; it seems we had stumbled upon a Balaur treasury.  A blow the dragonkin would hopefully feel in this little war of ours.

            I bent at the waist and put my hands on my knees and gratefully gulped massive breaths of clean air.  The Balaur stank.  The musty odor of snakes, and below that the rusty odor of old blood.  It was a smell that clung to the back of your throat, and coated the tongue and I hated it. My body rebelled against it and my own will and my insides heaved. I vomited on the flagstones of the fortress floor.  Toxemia, our contingent's assassin, laughed at me.

            "What's the matter Sirona?" he asked in a mocking tone.

            I liked Tox, he was a good fighter, and a good friend. I smiled sheepishly at him, even as Aalairius laid his hand on my back beneath my shield to comfort.

            "I hate that smell." I replied. Simple and to the point and dropped the subject.  Ulquiorra, our Sorcerer handed me his water skin. I tipped my head and poured some of the sweet spring water into my mouth, rinsed it and spat. Objection, our Chanter snorted in distaste. I shrugged at her. She shook her head and began the incantation to Return to Teminon, she would file our report while the five of us that remained carried out our next mission.

            It was to be a busy night.

            Girlysniper, our Ranger cleaned dirt from beneath her fingernails with her dagger point while the rest of us caught our breath. I always envied how cool and collected she was after every engagement.  She always had an air around her that bordered on the mystical, never disheveled after a fight, never a hair out of place.  Everything seemed so easy for her, yet she was always humble. I liked her for that.

            "On to the next?" she asked us and we all nodded.  Aalairius groaned as he got to his feet.

            A busy night indeed...

            Brigade General Sin asked the five of us to cause a little chaos at the nearest Asmodian controlled fortress, for what we did not know, but Sin was an assassin, and we did not question her, we carried out orders. We began by ambushing guards outside the gates, eventually, our presence became known and the alert went out across the fortress.  The walls defenses were bolstered, a ranger and a spirit master took shots at us from the top if we ventured too far into range. Tox, young Daeva that he is, would taunt them when he could, and his antics were nothing short of spectacularly amusing.  Some of the things he said would make even the most seasoned of bar maid blush, and I am not quite sure any mother Asmodian or otherwise could bend that way to make what he suggested possible.

            We harried the Asmodians of the Siel's other fortress until Girly gave us the signal for retreat.  Laughing, we took wing and flew for the transportation station of the lower Eastern Shard, content with our work for the evening.  Little did we know what we flew into.

When my Legion mates and I reached the teleporter it was pandemonium.   Spells flashed against the rocks thrown wildly from both sides, as titanium weapons clashed and screeched against protesting shields and armor.  I squeezed my wings in against my body to gain momentum and arrowed into the fray, the first prayer of healing I could think of slipping past my lips in a desperate plea for an Elyos ranger about to fall.

It was enough and he stayed up, enough to retreat to the safety of our pad.  The higher ranking guards and Daevas giving him shelter.  I caught a glimpse of Aalairius as he pulled an unsuspecting Spirit Master into the midst of our companions but that was the last I would see of him for a while.  I healed the ones I could and revived the others I could not, all the while keeping myself on my feet and drawing the wrath of Aion onto the inattentive heads of the mongrels and curs that opposed us.

At once was I aware that the Elyos around me had fallen back as the tide of Asmodians with their fiendish faces and twice damned glowing red eyes advanced.  I heard Aalairius roar his defiance and my attention rose to the sky in time to see it coming but with no time to act.  Five of the Asmodian sorcerers had ripped open the sky, and the rain of elements unleashed hit me with such appalling force.

It hurt, and then as my knees slowly gave way spilling me to the stone floor, I felt nothing... nothing save the two crystalline tears slipping down my cheeks as the world went gray, then dark and though the fires of their anger burned around me, all went cold and I closed my eyes and welcomed Aion's embrace.

            Vaguely aware the fight continued to rage around me, I forced my wings to arch above me, shielding my prone body. I huddled there in my hurt and like so many times before, silently prayed that I would not remain immortal this time and that true death would claim me soon. The seconds ticked by when a sudden strength infused my core and seeped out in into my extremities, breaking me from my torpor and allowing my animalistic sense of self preservation to take over. I dragged hot fetid air into my lungs and lurched to my feet dragging my mace and shield up with me. I felt lethargic and moved too slowly as I attempted to step back from the fight. Clumsy and uncoordinated I stumbled, strong arms locked around me from behind and I yelled, struggling, futile in my efforts at escape.

            "Sirona! SIRONA!" I heard over the din, and I sagged gratefully, Tox had a hold on me, not some Asmodian bent on who knows what.  I let him drag me back to the teleportation pad where Aalairius rested.  Tox, as much as I love him, dropped me unceremoniously beside Aal before diving back into the fray.  Had I the energy to call after him I would have instead I knelt there and meditated, feeling my reserves of energy, both physical and spiritual regenerate slowly. I clasped my hand in Aalairius' and when I felt well enough to continue gave it a squeeze. We rose and did a brief weapons and armor check before raising our shields before us and charging back into the fight.

            I don't know how long we were there or how long the battle went on, but eventually we were relieved of duty from the front lines and allowed to return to Teminon for much needed rest. There will be other battles fought and won or lost; this was after all, a war...

            I took my time bathing, soaking my hurts in the healing mineral waters of Teminon's bath house, after, before I allowed myself sleep in the arms of my beloved, I polished my mace and shield and made the minor repairs needed to my chain.

            I also prayed.

“Aion protect me as I sleep. Give me the strength and the will to continue the fight and keep my comrades safe. In your name.”

Friday, November 20, 2009


            The call to battle was long and clear that night, it woke me in my borrowed bed chamber, close and warm in my beloved's arms, his wings wrapped carefully around us.  Aalairius is a good person, but a young Daeva. I sometimes think I am neither of those things...  I quietly slipped from his embrace, the light here in Teminon Fortress is dimmer and more diffuse than the golden light of Elysea.  It takes me considerable effort to don my chain armour with no sound.  It marks me as a Priestess of Aion's order.  I sighed and let my mind wander as I slipped the last buckle home and reached for my mace.

            It has barely been two years since I woke in a temple healing chamber, battered and bruised, ribs bandaged carefully, face swollen to a point I could barely see from my left eye.  I could not remember how I had come to be there, or how long I had been in the state that I was in.  I could barely remember anything at all, save my name, and my position as a cleric in the city of Heiron.  The healers asked me how long the Asmodians kept me, and I remember I had laughed... Asmodians?  I was a mere human; the Asmodians do not suffer the humans of Elysea to live.  Besides, it was rare for humans to encounter Asmodians out side of the raiding parties that would occasionally enter Elysea.

            The Healers looked grave at this revelation, and spoke in hushed tones.  I did not understand their worry, I simply slept.  It was at the temple infirmary that I met Aalairius for the first time... He was two beds over from me in the infirmary, battered and bruised from what I did not know.  We spoke briefly between my bouts of unconsciousness in the dark hush of the healing rooms. We would later be stationed in Poeta together, with a start-up Legion, in our service to the citizens of Poeta we met Daminu together, and the Lord Elim showed us both just a glimpse of what had been forgotten.  Later, we met with Pernos, an old man with a fondness for a pet Porgus.  Of all the things I’ve ever done, avenging that porgus… In any event, I believe it was then that Aion called upon his daughter once more…  Pernos set us on a path to discovery, one that Aalairius and I did not expect… I was not simply a priestess of Aion’s light, I had been, I was, a Daeva, a Cleric of his divine order, and Aalairius a Templar.

            Though I have not told my lover, my memories have come to me in bits and pieces, through dreams and moments of recollection at the sight of some ruin, or bit of architecture, or from a scent or bit of bird song.
            Dressed, yet still unsure of myself and what I was doing, I slipped from the chambers, mace at my side and shield on my arm.  The light outside Teminon was blazing and glorious and almost as beautiful as the light of Sanctum herself.  I praised Aion, brief prayer slipping from my lips to be born away on the hot winds of the Abyss.

             I remember vaguely a time before the war with Asmodae, I remember a time when our world was beautiful and whole... I remember... but then as mist rising from Lake Cliona, it is gone.  After our re-ascension, as it were, Aalarius and I found our selves stationed with the Destiny Legion under the command of Brigade General Sin and her partner and beloved Boa. Boa is a Cleric of Aion's light as I am, though Boa is quite a bit more formidable than myself.

            The call to arms rang distant and sure.  I did not know which fortress was under attack this time nor who aggressed on whom, but I was sure to find out.  I stepped to the edge of the landing and spread my wings tipping forward gracefully until my feet left the ground and the flight muscles in my chest and back took my weight, my wings bearing me up into the void and through the first set of Aether infused flight rings…

            I would not make it in time to this battle, but there would be plenty more to come.  Daeva's are immortal, and thus this war would also be.  There would be time later for blood and tears, for tonight I was content to just fly and see if there was a skirmish I could aid in, or Elyos in distress that I might heal with my prayers.

            I let my thoughts wander back down their brooding path as I flew. Though my body may be whole again, my mind is not, and it is my mind I must come to terms with to be truly comfortable in my own skin again.  I will grow strong and then we shall see, but for now I was content to just fly.  Upon my return to Teminon Fortress I found my beloved by the stair.  He sat upon a stack of crates a dark look furrowing his brow amidst the white glare of marble.  I landed a few paces before him and took the last few steps before sitting beside him.

            “You were gone when I woke again.” He said, carving a bit of apple with his knife. “You know I hate waking up without you.  Why do you do that?” he handed me a bit of the fruit.  I chewed carefully before responding.

            “Sometimes I need to fly, to clear my head.  I just need time to think.” I answered slowly.

            “I worry about you when you go off alone like that.” He looked me in the eyes, his expression gently chiding.

            “I know love.  I’m sorry, I will try to keep my absences to a minimum, or at least try to tell you where I am going.” I smiled at him as he ran his hand through his short white hair.  It was not the answer he wanted to hear. I knew that. It was just the only answer I could give him.

            More of our Legion began to show, our Brigade General and her lover and first Centurion would be there soon to give us our orders.  When they arrived I shifted from foot to foot, impatient to be going.  Sin glared at me a couple of times as she continued to address us, exchanging a meaningful look with Boa.  Boa adjusted her chain skirt, and gave me her look that she and I would be talking later.  I did not blame them; my inattention could prove to be disastrous.

            I received my orders, grateful to have something to do.  My boot heals clicked against the marble stone of Teminon Landing, the chain of my armor softly chiming, glinting in the reflected light off the white stone. I marched past the posted watch just behind my lover.  The Daeva stationed at the Teleportation hub widened his eyes as I hefted my mace.

      “Aalairius, Sirona! Out for a stroll?” he asked nervously.

            “I wish it were as simple as that, no, I have been asked to dispatch some unfortunate twisted spirits in upper Reshanta, I shall need a port to the Eastern Shard if you will."  I replied politely as I could, though I knew my expression was hard... My thoughts and fragmented memories roiled in my head today, darker than usual, fleeting, and oh so difficult to pin down. My flight of earlier had done nothing to clear the miasma in my skull. The Daeva in charge of providing teleports blanched.

            “There has been Asmodian activity at the upper end of Reshanta today, the Daeva's on duty sent word for support not an hour ago.” he leafed through his spell book, fingers twitching nervously along the surface of the parchment as he looked for the proper incantation.  I felt a smile creep across my lips, cold as winter ice, and not at all friendly.

            “We shall see if I can lend any aid on my way through then...”

            The golden gate blossomed before me, edged in so many twisting and disheveled arcane symbols, I spread my wings and leapt through, the roar of the aether winds betwixt this point and the next deafening, and suddenly, the white gold marble of Teminon was gone and the deep blue stone of the eastern shard was there, dark and bereft in it's place.

            I turned in time to see several wounded Daeva land from the upper ring in a heap, dirty and bloody, scraped and bruised, wing feathers bent and in some places broken or singed.  I gathered the light of Aion within me and intoned the prayer I needed in a strong clear voice, the injuries of the Scout before me blending and smoothing before disappearing all together.

            I turned to the layer-transportation Daeva and nodded curtly, she flung her spell and I was off the ground and soaring upwards at an incredible pace! Hurdling upwards mace in hand, shield on my arm I burst through to the upper shard and with a sharp cry I hurdled my wrath at the nearest Asmodian, a Gladiator by the looks of him, which was engaging an Asassin and Chanter of one of my sister Legion.  The earth erupted angrily beneath the Gladiator's feet, but still, he was not deterred.  Aalairius erupted from the tunnel behind me and trained his own fearsome wrath on a scout just to the side of me, dragging the sod into him and smashing him to the ground with his shield.

            The Asmodian front advanced. Buggar! These head-strong Asmodian upstarts! Did they have nothing better to do!?  Were there not Balaur to face in droves near by!? Twisting and bending, protecting myself with shield and defending myself with mace, I fought.  The war dance trained into the memory of my muscles playing out against cloth, leather, chain and plate, and even sometimes skin.

            The skirmish grew, as more Asmodians and Elyos arrived, the fighting broke for one clear instant, and the two sides divided, back to their respective teleportation pads.  I caught my breath, rested for but a moment before marching forward.  I stopped, body trembling with adrenaline and anger for these young, fool hardy Asmodians.

            Several Elyos gathered at my back, also young, also foolish, they taunted the Asmodians to attack... and they did.

            The Ranger beside me transformed, shocked into the semblance of an elemental spirit by one of the Asmodian Spirit Masters before me. My rage grew as I spoke the incantation to break the Ranger free.  Have they no honor!? Have they no ability to fight for themselves without resorting to subversive tactics!?

            With an undignified yell I brought a pillar of Aion's light onto the young Asmodian's head, a mere slap for his insolence before I healed an ailing Chanter to my right.  The Asmodians rankled, and moved on us, the Elyos feinted back but I was mid-spell! I could not step back, my prayer faltered on my lips as the Asmodian Templar came into view, and I could see the ill will in his eyes as he swung his sword in my direction... the blue chains leapt forth as the prayer died on my lips, the Chanter was healed, but I was ensnared! Drawn inexorably forward toward the lot of their rabble!

            “SIRONA!” I heard the shout from behind me as a different set of blue chains shot passed my shoulder, ensnaring the Templar that had me within his grasp, yanking him towards me and suddenly I was free! I retreated and thanked Aion, Aalairius was at my side, and he picked up the Asmodian Templar in his rage and smashed his body into the earth, even as I unleashed Aion's fury onto the sod's soul.  The Asmodian reached out in futility, before collapsing to his knees, his wings wrapping over him as if to protect him.  He was of no concern to us now.

            My lover was here, and I was safe for now, the battle raged, and grew and shrank, both sides vying for the platform.  Eventually the Asmodians ceded the territory to my brethren, a small battle won to the Elyos, though one that hardly counted.

            Aalairius and I traveled onward to fulfill our duty, later we would bathe our small hurts and join the Legion for evening rest.  For now, we had angry spirits to lay to rest and a duty to Elysea to perform.  The skirmish had been enough to calm the tempest of memory and unease in my mind and I stepped forward into the rest of my day with my lover at my side and a better outlook on the day.  I hoped it would stay this way…