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Hunters of Heresy, Reclaim the Night

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Joined: 15 Apr 2003
Posts: 2005
Location: Retrospection

PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2017 5:50 pm    Post subject: Hunters of Heresy, Reclaim the Night Reply with quote

Retrospection, Erisvan's Castlemare upon the Ebonstar

Sirum Hest moves about the room to snap his fingers together near each candle, a small cantrip of flame moving towards each and lighting them. "There we go.. as soon as I do this.. I can go back to Kizzy. An' see Pirostia.." Continuing to speak to himself aloud. It helped to remove the eerie silence about the room. After the candles are lit, he progresses into the next room.

[#] On the altar lay the body of a familiar looking femme. Thought the sight is gruesome, furless skin and a tousel of headfur, stained with twigs, leaves and blood, mask a shattered face and two fox-like ears.

Sirum Hest's eyes widen in shock at the sight before him, taking an involuntary step back. For the first time since he had entered the Deadlands, he felt as if he were about to faint from disgust or.. the shock, really. Finally something got to him. Rather than progress through the room, he shrinks down to the floor and shakes his head, hugging his knees while staring at the altar. "No. No. No no no. Lies. Lies. She's alive. It's an illusion. It's a copy. It's not real. Entad protects Kivvy. Rivyn protects Kivvy. 'Kuro protects Kivvy.. Kivae's okay. It's not real, it's not real.."

[#] A voice fills the temple hallway. "Sirum.. Sirum.." It sounds much like Kitzerina. "Sirum.. why did you have to love Kivae more, Sirum? You knew what had to be done.."

Sirum Hest had continued muttering to himself, "I can't stop he--..", trailing off into silence at Kitzerina's voice, to spring up to his feetpaws and lift the elemental blaster, staring at the ceiling blankly. "W-Wha..? I didn't love Kivae more.. Kivae was--is my best friend in the whole of Feanor! An'.. an'.. Primes damnit get out of my head!", he shouts through the room in a hiss. He spins about then to look over the entire room, in search of the source of the voice. "Kivae lives, 'cause if she didn't, Erisvan's head would be juggled in Entad's paws. An' yer not my girlfurre no matter how much ya sound like her, my Kizzy is good friends with Kivae. This is nothin' but tricks of the mind seal. I won't fall for it. Are ya Harlequine, Gholae or Heretic?"

[#] Should Sirum turn and look behind him, he would see Kitzerina standing there, an innocent, yet severe look in her eyes. White fur and robes spattered with blood.. presumably that of Kivae. "I.. I can't believe that you'd doubt me, Si-si.. I love you." Kitzerina pouts, and looks at the knife. "It was so easy.. it just slid right into her.. that wench.. I knew she was trouble. Now Entad is free.. Isn't that lovely.. Si? Don't you love me?"

Sirum Hest's body gives a chilled shake at sight of Kitzerina, starting with his eartips and ending at the tip of his tail, almost turning to jello. But he was no longer a weak, naive twelve year old furre who believed what his eyes showed him, and what his ears heard. "Lies!", he shouts, "Yer not.. yer not my Kizzy, yer some worthless monster of a femme, now feel pain as everyone I care for have!" With that, he dashes forward, weapon raised, and once again pulls back the twigger with all his might. The light surges forth, to flow out the doorway behind the creature which he assumes to be Erisvan impersonating Kitzerina.

[#] The Kitzerina apparition vanishes in the blast of light, and silence once again reigns. A sickly gugle comes from the altar: "Si.." but no more - Sirum seems terribly alone right now. The walls themselves give no comfort - the stench of death is overwhelming, sickening..


[#] Here, in the throne room of Erisvan, Sirum stands.. alone. Flames burst synchronously through the braziers - given that they are connected to the fires of Ebonstar itself. Far across the cavernous room, flecked with the stench of decay and dead air, reclines a figure, legs over the armrest of her throne of skull and bones. and at least four others, huddled around her. A quick movement of her paw sends the other shadows away from the primary one. "Sirum.. How pleasant."

Sirum Hest, as soon as he enters the room, locks his eyes onto the large cauldron in the middle of the room. Perhaps if he hid behind it, someone would come and find him eventually--no, too late for that now. No one would be coming, except perhaps Kele in search of Bryanna. Shame he hadn't managed to locate her. His eyes flicker upwards at the voice. Rather than shrinking away as most others would, a savage look appears in his eyes, as if he were a rabid feral. He walks forward through the room, glancing between each of the figures before his eyes finally rest on her. He holds the weapon up in front of him, though not aimed at Erisvan, instead turning each of the balls on the blaster a bit further left, making sure to hold it perfectly still as he does so, while replying. "I'm here," He begins with a perfectly calm tone, yet traces of fury able to be heard in it. "To repay ya. For the Six-Star, the cards, the torture, Kivae, Kitzerina, Rakuro, Canti an' everythin' else ya have done in the four years that I have known who 'Erisvan' was. ... There are no more minions yer gonna put in front of ya? Any last words? 'Cause I promised Kizzy I'd go to Pirostia with her this summer, an' I need to be gettin' back soon."

Lady Erisvan stands upon the skulls that litter the front of the throne. Cape-less, her black leather and steel armor-suit is made more distinct, even in the shadowy light of the hall. Her voice echoes in the chamber. "No, Si-si.." She says, empulating Kitzerina - as they were one and the same. "All that is left for you is.. me."

Sirum Hest calmly - or perhaps, carefully? - walks up the stairs before him, weapon still held perfectly still pointing out the side before him. "Primes damn you're a disgustin', evil bitch.", he says with a glare and tail flailing about behind him like an animated whip gone map. "To even try to sound like such a sweet femme. I still can't believe ya came from her head, yer nothin' but the product of that stupid book. Now.. that nothin' is left." He pauses, once finally at the top of the stairs. "Goodbye, Destroyer." And with those words, his left paw comes up and slams down onto the tube of the weapon, sending all ten balls on the weapon - even despite only five of them being filled - falling to the floor about him. As they fall, each one releases the magic stored within it. The light, rather than being a targeted blast, flows through the room like an ocean had formed above Erisvan's chamber, filling it within seconds to the brim with the gigantic ocean of light. Surely anything within the room that was evil would be turned to dust - or at least leave them near death. [50/50]

Lady Erisvan cackles as the weapon misfires. Should Sirum succumb to the natural urge to look at the finely crafted blaster, he would find rusted tubing, and slowly decaying wooden remnants; as if the weapon had been buried in a bog for a thousand years.. or more. Even Sirum's vision would start to fade, as his now aged eyes could develop cataracts or age-induced astigmatism. Those far enough away from the scene would see a terribly aged Sirum.. an ancient Sirum - furre flesh barely holding on to the tendrils of life itself. Such was the fate of those who would approach Erisvan in her own home. As Greydark, as Erisvan. "I liked you better when you were younger.. Si.. "

Sirum Hest's eyes squint closed as his vision goes blurry, falling backwards onto the floor away from the throne of skulls, cringinging from the fall and resting both paws upon his knees, as he breathes heavily. As the years go by, he.. strangely, begins laughing, a weak, hoarse laugh. Truly his mind lacked sanity. "H.. ah.. ahaha.. I've.. burned to death.. witnessed.. all my friends torture.. and.. so much.. more.. .. y-you can do noth.. ing to me I have.. n.. not experienced.. y-you.. st.. stupid.. wench..", his laughter breaking away into coughs then, an aged paw slipping into his pocket to pull forth something tiny, that his paw tightly wraps about. His face takes on a relaxed, tranquil look, as the aging process continues.

Lady Erisvan's destructive force has certainly done a number on her throne and the surrounding items, rendering much of it to dust or broken things. She ends the the effect mentally when the time is about right for her to - to keep Sirum just at the periphery of death by old age. "Poor poor Si-si.." the voice is Erisvan again. "You came all the way here just to fail. Yet.. you destroyed.. You worshipped me until the end." Her head lolls over to the side, pensively. "You have shown me love, Sirum Hest."

Sirum Hest continues on with his heavy breathing, even wheezing, though even from his age his paw manages to keep wrapped around the tiny object so very tightly. He - quietly - manages to mutter out, as he slumps over to the floor. "..I.. destroyed.. for.. Kizzy.. an'.. all my.. friends.. not.. y.. y.. you. Y.. you.. are.. nothing.."

Lady Erisvan laughs - the pitiable old furre at her feet only framing the twisted Norman Rockwell imagery. The Heretic floats down from her perch, and alights next to Sirum, kneeling down near the aged Sirum. "All destruction belongs to Holy Greydark, Sirum Hest. You would do well to remember that as you begin your new life." Her paw remains still, bathed in a purplish glow.

Sirum Hest's ears flick back into grayed hearfur as he somehow feels the glow about him, appearing much as if he would like to hiss in response, but being able to do so. "S.. st.. ay.. a.. wa.. y..", is all he managed out this time.

Lady Erisvan cackles. "Bryanna told me that it was simple. Rewrite rewrite just keep thinking just keep thinking.." An odd mantra, to be sure! The glow around her arm takes on a darker, more sinister hue - for this was no longer the Mind Seal, but the Mentalius Fatalis, the corrupted seal. Tendrils of through invade Sirum's mind - blocking mental pathways, reformatting at the lowest level. Sirum had somehow been able to shake off the six-star last time.. "..Now my ancient love. You were nobody. You are my Sirum Hest. Mine. Forever. And you love only me." She smiles evilly. "You wish to spread my love.. the true love of greydark the Dark Master of Broken Things."

Sirum Hest's mind perhaps might have been able to put up even the slightest fight, were it not currently so aged and tired. As the seals energy seeps into his mind, his paw uncurls, a small, smooth pebble dropping from it and onto the floor. Once Erisvan has finished speaking, he murmurs out in response, "Nobody.. yours.. forever.. love.. spread Greydark's love..", in a completely monotone voice - almost as if he were a robot.

Lady Erisvan snarls almost happily. "And to make my vengenace upon this bastard world complete, you shall be as you were before, yet with love for me alone." The glow fades to near-invisibility. "I do so like the much younger you.." The unsealed paw flashes with a black aura, emitting a thin ribbon of magical energy which curls around Sirum's aged form, returning him to about the age of 18 physically. [11/11]

Sirum Hest, once again, after Erisvan has finished speaking, murmurs out in response. "As I was.. only you.." His voice perks at the end as he returns back to eighteen. The clothes that far too loosely fit him are now a perfect fit - if not still a bit too loose. His paw wraps around the pebble on the floor and tucks it back within his pocket, almost out of reflex - after all, couldn't lose such a thing his mind was still fixated on for some reason. He then sits up, peers around the room blankly, and smiles as his eyes finally rest on Erisvan. "My love!" He exclaims, while leaning forward to embrace her.

Lady Erisvan wraps an arm around Sirum, and kisses the top of his head in quite possibly the creepiest stalker-movie way. "Welcome home, Sirum Hest. I love you too."

Retrospection, The Fall of Erisvan

Cyan Dee retains enough strength to stand, though mortally wounded, as the remnants of Castlemare flounder around him, crushing everything, even burying the blade of Iocus beneath giant stones. "It is done.. My legacy passes on to the next if she returns." The Templar huffs mightily, blood spilling from his wounds. His eye catches Sirum, even to the end defending his mistress. "There is good still in you. Go, with the Primes' blessing." [10/10][Purify] If successful, the spell should wake Sirum up, and if nothing else, cast Erisvan's control from him , though not enough to completely remove the six-star. Upon completion of the spell, Cyan simply vanishes as the rubble from the ceiling falls upon his form, spilling out across the room.

[#] The throne room is only a few seconds from complete destruction, and the hallways look no better.

Catherine O`Hara isn't here, doesn't care. She ditched Erisvan in favour of not dieing.

Ciran Acinonyx did the same, in favor of reporting to Trothfang.

Sirum Hest's eyes take on light, the empty look fading as Cyan's magic washes over his form. After another chunk of roof lands at his side, he slowly eases himself up into a sitting position, scooting himself back towards the pillar behind him to lean against, as he stares around the room. Surely escape would be the best option, however.. he brings his paws up in front of himself, to stare at the specks of blood upon them. "I'm.. what.. happened? What have I done? ... Go..? Go where? .. Perhaps I should let Ebonstar take me.. I've killed my friends.. made all others despise me.. all 'cause I couldn't get the revenge I wanted so much. Can't believe I failed so much.. let myself be under her control.. nngh.. it's too late to flee, an' returnin' would only get a hail of stones.." He trails off into silent thought, as he closes his eyes to think of Kitzerina, waiting for mountain to swallow him.

[#]Mysterious voice: Run, Si, Run!

Sirum Hest's ears perk, as if antenna recieving a signal, and his eyes flash open, peering around the crumbling room blankly. The voice in his mind couldn't have been Kitzerina's, she was a million miles away and didn't know where he was or how to contact him. There was no reason to follow the order to flee, all the sins he had commited, all the people he had hurt had amounted to too much. He wouldn't be able to live with Rakuro and Marlina's death. However, somehow he was compelled to rise to his feetpaws, and stumble forward a few feet. Just in time to avoid a chunk of roof falling to smash into where he had been sitting. Needless to say, right about then, he didn't have the time to rationalize 'Should I bother?', instead reflexively turning into a bright blue streak directly for the exit. In this new, awkward body, but still. But where would he go?

Exit Retrospection

Retrospection was all that filled his waking thoughts and restless slumber, distorted images of horrors and regrets past.

The mouse had never really been the same, following his final freedom from Erisvan's corruption at Castlemare. What had intended to be a one-furre mission to Mt. Ebonstar to slay the Heretic, driven by all-consuming rage at seeing her havoc unleashed upon the Kingdom and all he cared for within it yet again, culminated in the complete domination of his mind.

It hadn't been an altogether unfamiliar scenario. After all, his youth had been been a tapestry of horror woven by the hands of Heretics. As a child The Destroyer had claimed him to do her bidding throughout his new home, leaving her mark forever upon him.

Servants of The Emptiness had taken the life of one of his beloved friends not once, but twice before his very eyes. One who had been raised by The Destroyer as a mockery of the man he once was, defiling his memory and all he had stood for in life. Canti had been returned to oblivion with his own paws and those of his dearest friend Kivae, both children forced to wrench the eyes from his sockets to provide him his final peace.

Everyone he cared for in the world dragged off into a hellscape of torture the likes of which one could not describe intelligibly, either by there being no words in any language to detail what had been inflicted upon them or simply reduced to madness by the memory. Castlemare upon the Ebonstar. All because they had dared to accept a card from a seemingly harmless street jester with a penchant for rhyme, courtesy of The Destroyer.

Kindness and mercy had unwittingly been shown to a pawn of The Deceiver, Damien Reelin, the smallest ripple that had resulted in him and everyone he had ever known exiled from their home following a bloodbath in the streets. With an equal measure of blood and sacrifice to reclaim it, every action a move upon The Deceiver's chessboard to sow chaos, death and turmoil for no more than amusement.

Gifts claimed on the battlefield - thirteen bloodstained coins - bestowed upon those he forged camaraderie with, ultimately served to spread a curse to each one. Forcing them to endure death by their worst fears in their dreams, stolen away into a city of nightmares, courtesy of The Emptiness.

Even the one he loved most he was ultimately unable to protect, the object of constant torment by her lesser third - The Destroyer.

So much of it had been his fault. None had ever said it, but they had no cause to. He had been more than capable of blaming himself, reliving each moment throughout each day, memories and experiences of the Heretics carved into mind, body and spirit alike. Naivete, trust and resourcefulness had made him a useful pawn, always left alive at the end to live as an increasingly ruined reminder to all of what comes when one gazes into the abyss, raises arms against it. Even forging legendary blades foretold to end their reign of terror served to do no more than inconvenience them, even when The Destroyer had been ruined it was only ever a false reprieve.

That final voyage to Castlemare had the anticipated result of being slain by The Destroyer or remaining within it's cursed halls to kill her. And when she rose, again. And again. And again, until he was too weakened by age or battle to lift bow and blade any further. But the weapon he had crafted for the sole purpose of ending her crumbled to dust in his paws, the determination and fire in him broken and turned against those he loved. Torturing the weak, as had been visited upon him by The Destroyer when he was small and helpless. Long forgotten grudges put beneath magnifying glass, compelling him to seek vengeance that seemed sound to him but insanity to all others.

The femme he loved witnessed as a creature of disgust, knocked to the ground as if she were no more than an obstacle. Two that he trusted more than anything in the world riddled with arrows for daring to try to contain him, with only a fleeting vision of the mouse that once was breaking through at the sight of seeing his friend and mentor bleed out upon the sewer floors. A command given for the necromancer at his side to funnel his life essence into the fallen, but there had been no time. They were assumed dead.

All had been in service to obsessive love for The Destroyer burned into him, blocking out all other self-reflection. Something the Saint High Templar had purged from him as he lead a final martyr charge against The Destroyer, a partial purification, yet in all honesty death was a kinder fate. Realization, horror and guilt locked away over the course of that corruption had washed over him like the bursting of a dam. Visions of Rakuro and Marlina bleeding out, the screams of Hikari, the pain in Kitzerina's eyes, the death and destruction carried out with such glee.

Hero of Ansteorra. A strange title for one that had visited upon it such pains, like a plague rat who came spreading evil. Castlemare had been crumbling around him, The Destroyer temporarily sealed yet again and the one man who seemed capable of keeping her that way crushed a stone's throw from where he lay. A strangely familiar voice filling his mind had been the only thing to motivate his departure, 'lest he risk joining Cyan Dee.

But there was nowhere he could return to. Erisvan had partially seen to that, his conscience did the rest in convincing him of it's truth. Much time had been spent wandering from village to village in a daze, seeing the Six-Pointed Star scar on his cheek in every stream he drank from as a perpetual reminder of what had transpired. Time was taken to provide archery lessons to the youths of particularly troubled locations, providing them at least the same chance he had been given to fend for himself.

Yet try as he might to avoid it, a cart fallen asleep on had managed to bring him back to Ansteorra. Friends he thought dead still living. Battles still raging on the streets. His streets. The streets he had bled, laughed and wept on. Arrows peppered villains from the rooftops from an anonymous source for weeks, until one day the mouse was discovered. It appeared he had been forgiven and welcomed with open arms, transgressions not even mentioned, but it was not a courtesy he could extend to himself.

He visited from time to time, in the hopes of living up to his title of Hero of Ansteorra, but he was clearly a shell of what once had been. The marksman who could unleash a wave of arrows like lightning crackling through the sky was full of uncontrollable rage, often abandoning his bow and grasping daggers, shredding those who meant harm upon his home with wild abandon until he was painted red. All hollow victories, there was no redemption found in rage, nor in vanquishing beings who were mere specks compared to what had tainted and stolen everything from him since he was a child. His life was without purpose. What happiness he displayed given from moments of regression into youth.

A voyage was booked upon a ship bound for Pirostia. If he could do nothing for Calenndor without fear of being tainted yet again, perhaps wandering deep into the unknown lands of Pirostia and vanishing from the pages of history was best. What could one mouse offer Calenndor?

As the ship set sail, he watched a lone child with a bow and arrow try and fail to strike a practice dummy time and again. It reminded him of himself, in the beginning. What was different now? What did he have that the child did not? All he had were his experiences, knowledge and strength.

Unique experiences. Few served Heretics and lived to tell the tale. The mouse had glimpsed upon nearly half of the Council of Heresy, knew their faces, the method to the madness of at least a few. The knowledge of how to fight their minions, having served alongside or clashed with them time and time again, perpetually worse for the wear. Distant, rust-colored eyes lingered on his paws. Power had always been a curious issue for him. A slight breeze could have demolished him when he first reached Ansteorra, yet with each passing year he found himself surpassing those that had initially dismissed him Power no child should have wielded, power that even as he aged felt like a stranger to his body.

Perhaps exposure to the Heretics, serving The Destroyer time and again, had left more than corruption upon his body. When he lifted his bow, allies paid him little mind in their certainty of his shots to weave between them, while opponents offered him the widest berth. A 'Sirum Shot', slang he recalled reading and overhearing during his visits to Ansteorra. Was someone who couldn't even land a glancing blow on The Destroyer worthy of being so revered as a warrior?

No. That could not be the end of his story. Vanishing into the wilds of Pirostia in fear of being commanded by evil yet again was a final act of cowardice. Experience, knowledge and strength. With those he could forge a purpose, piece together the shattered mind he had been left with, strike back against the hold of the Heretics upon his world with intelligence rather than unhinged rage and desperation.

Leaping off the ship he swam back to shore, hiding away in a cheap Tumbledown room and got to work, months passing as he toiled endlessly upon page after page with single-minded obsession. It wasn't until the ink dried on the very last page that he closed the book and faced the cover.

Reclaim the Night, by Sirum Hest

Above the words a design of the Six-Pointed Star with a slash through it. Time was taken to reflect on his notes as he skimmed random pages, pausing here and there to improve his sketches.

Hunting Heresy
"... accept that you will never truly put an end to them, you can only thin their minions or seal them in brief reprieve. If one has died, it means their Dark Prime has chosen a new champion to be their sword in this world. We should nevertheless strive to rally our forces and push back against them wherever they emerge, a flood to slow the wildfire that is their influence..."

Erisvan, The Destroyer
"... a foul being unlike any other, who has left her mark upon me more than any. Most Heretics will be happy to see you dead, gain favor from their Dark Prime with your corpse. Make no mistake, Erisvan wishes for you to live a long life, preferably in her service. Your mutilated body, gibbering madness or broken spirit sustains her. Death is a kindness in her eyes, an epilogue when she much favors burning your book and penning a new first page upon the skin of all who you hold dear..."

"... my first glimpse of The Destroyer came from stowing away upon a cart bound for the Ebonstar, bearing witness to the Heroes of Calenndor assaulting her in her throne room while I hid behind a cauldron. The arsenal of spells at her disposal appears beyond limit, Archmagess Kitzibeth herself a candle to the raging inferno that is her worse third. The Destroyer has, for some reason I could never fathom, held a fondness for me and desired my affection. Perhaps some link between her and her better third, for I cannot fathom why I should be so remarkable..."

"... hiding from the Gholae is a futile endeavor. Their silver eyes pierce all, your best chance of survival is to aim for them. If you can destroy their eyes, you can end them in an instant. Do not assume just because you have felled it in battle that you have won, if the eyes are not crushed it will awaken in time. In a last act of cruelty from Erisvan, these eyes can only be crushed by an innocent, pure in heart. The Gholae will prioritize hunting those they once cared for in life, useful information in setting up a trap for one..."

"... the design of the Harlequine is perhaps a perversion of the innocence Erisvan had before being chosen by Greydark. They appear childish, friendly in nature, flighty jesters who come bearing gifts and seek to play games. Those who accept the Harlequine's gifts may be given a temporary boon or bane, but make no mistake - it is always with a dark magical curse in the fine print. If at all possible, trick the Harlequine into ending their statements without rhyme. They have been observed to explode if they fail to do so. They also appear to enjoy catching projectiles in an attempt to mock you. A dear friend and I discovered how to exploit this, if you enchant an arrow to explode when caught..."

"... Erisvan is not to be approached under any circumstance, save one where the attacker is blessed in the light of the Primes. The Destroyer lives up to her namesake, capable of radiating an aura of decay all around her. Flesh ages, metal rusts, wood rots. If you are forced to fight her, consider strengthening your arrows with an enchantment to counteract this, however briefly. They only need reach her..."

"... Erisvan was created by way of reading the Librum Haereticalis following the loss of her love, but I am uncertain if all Heretics are created in such a way. Needless to say, if you discover any ominous looking books around a Heretic's domain, your best bet is to burn them. Or take them to a church and drown them in holy water..."

Pytch, The Emptiness
"... less a man, more a force of nature, an aberration that should never exist, summoned and manifested from the Vacuus by wizards who sought to rule the abyss but ultimately consumed by it. Throughout history Pytch has tainted and consumed mortals of note, adding them to his collective hivemind. Pytch is a glorified Queen Ant - if one Voidkin sees you, all see you. If you are consumed by Pytch, your strength, memories, everything that is you empowers him and is woven into his existence..."

"... to understand Pytch better is to understand the story of the Wailing of the Void, the Three Brothers, Kazunori, Elithshar, Tyrias, the Dragonguard, Yavin, Stun and Thelmin Waterpasser. Much of this I have experienced firsthand, the rest shared by Archmagess Kitzibeth. In this knowledge you may find some clue as to seal him from this world permanently..."

"... Voidkin come in many forms, usually with two otherworldly blue lights within bodies of midnight, always in impossible angles with disregard for the laws of existence. The Voidkin crave Existens, as they are starved of it within the Vacuus. Those with eyes will descend upon you without hesitation or mercy at first glimpse, while those without rely on hearing to detect you. If you are engaging a Voidkin in battle, spread your ranks out and keep a safe distance best you can. The Voidkin radiate an aura of fear that can drive off the bravest of men screaming in terror, a wise choice. I have personally witnessed what becomes of those who do not embrace this gut instinct, the sad tale of Hikari Xezo..."

"... those near a Voidkin when defeated are wracked with a blast of Vacuus energy, draining life like a sponge in water. Deal the final blow with a long distance weapon to avoid casualties. Never engage without an enchantment prepared to imbue your weapons with Existens magic - much as they crave it, it appears they don't fare well when it is offered by way of the pointy end..."

Kendrick, The Deceiver
"... trust nothing, which should go without saying. Kendrick portrays himself with the air of nobility. almost polite. Rare is it he gets his hands dirty, preferring to operate from the shadows. This Heretic does not make monsters to ruin the world with, he appears to prefer the evil which already exists within the hearts of men. The corruption of Kendrick comes not in the form of magic, but with his words. Kendrick searches the world for would-be heroes who believe themselves on the righteous path, giving them all the opportunities they might require to achieve their dreams. But in their dreams he sows his nightmares..."

"... Damien Reelin was one such unwitting puppet of Kendrick, one whose ideals I sympathized with. Damien saw the slaughter of masses rioting against perceived injustice and like a phoenix was born from their ashes, a champion of the people. When he was at death's door I hid him from the guard, provided him shelter, healing, whatever comforts he required. It never occurred to me that his story was one of fairy tales, there is little justice to be had in our world. Past this incident he obtained all that he wanted for in life, and more than he bargained for. Blind to the actions of those beneath him, he allowed the corruption and injustice he fought against to fester within his 'glorious new world' the likes of which had never been seen before. Starvation, taxation, cruelty, death squads, 'disappearances' ran rampant at the hands of Mazus under a horrifying dictatorship..."

"... in truth I have only fought against Kendrick's true power once, and it was in disguise during the Liberation Army's siege against Ansteorra. With the single touch of a hand he obliterated an enormous golem constructed by Rakuro Daregh, crafted to be an unstoppable force. Kendrick has also exhibited powers implying ownership of the Archaic Seal of Blood. I can give no advice for how to contend with him, save be wary of heroes who appear to have few struggles on their road to glory, whose ambitions far outweigh the injustice they claim to be against..."

"... it is reported that a clash of Kendrick and Erisvan is what brought Scarport to ruin, but other reports indicate Erisvan acted alone. Kendrick sought vengeance for Scarport. I suspect less as an act of charity, and more because children take the destruction of their toys poorly..."

Raiko, The Tragic
"... one encounter. That was all I had with Raiko. She remains seared into my mind, I can see her when I close my eyes as I write this. It will be brief as such. Raiko is a vision of ultimate sorrow, cruelty the likes of which one cannot see and remain truly sane. She is a small child, younger than any who receives such pain should be. Skewered by ethereal chains, forever bleeding, wounds that demand the mercy of death that will never be given. That such a creature exists causes doubt that the Primes have any power in this world. Rely not on Paladins, rely on yourselves. If you suspect you will encounter Raiko, close your eyes and aim for the laughter, pray it does not follow into your dreams..."

Servants of Heresy
"... a corrupted portion of my life was spent in the company of two necromancers serving Trothfang, The Devourer and I believe Raiko, The Tragic. Much of that time was spent learning their powers, how they think, strategizing with them, using them to further the goals of destruction. I will document every moment with them that I can recall, in the hopes that it will serve to undermine all like them..."

"... a wise archer will never go into unknown territory without all contingencies covered. A quiver should be equipped with at least three enchanted arrows or arrowheads of copper, the only way to pierce the ethereality. Three silver should be enough to ward off any lycanthrope or vampire. If you seek the re-death of undead, a few fragments of opal will serve just as well as a lifetime of servitude to the Primes. Arrows woven with nullification to break through any barrier, resist all manner of magic. My Bottomless Quiver holds enough variety to pierce every monster known to man, though with limited resources you will find better luck in scouting ahead and packing the appropriate toolset..."

"... Daregh Trading Co. - or Rakuro's - should be able to supply all that any hunter needs to survive and thrive in any mission, ranging from basic supplies, to custom crafts and powerful enchantments. Fortunately for you, there is a branch in most every major city upon Calenndor these days. As a word of warning, tempted as you may be to haggle and save a few precious coin, do not. The prices set by the proprietor are more than fair, Primes help you if you should encounter the owner and attempt to pinch pennies..."

"... make no mistake, if you are reading this book, the path of the Primes is not for you. I have seen my fair share of dead Paladins, those who forsake so much in their life for so little as their Prime inevitably allows their demise against the superior strength of evil. Their code often limits their ability to achieve a task, requires them not flee to fight another day, or puts them at odds with those you may be better served with. Your best allies in the fight against darkness are not the heroes in tales of fiction your mother read to you as a kit. They are often those who walk the shade, or further from grace. They can be bloodlusty demons, violent drow, those cursed with lycanthropy, assassins and thieves, pyromaniacs, half-feral in mind, archdruids with all regard for flora and none for fauna, or just utter bastards... and I consider it an honor to have bled alongside them, learned from them on the battlefield. Each are the best friends I could have ever hoped for and those I would risk my life for, even if few attempted to kill one another from time to time, or even me long ago..."

The fortune amassed over many adventures that was buried beneath a tree in the crescent forest surrounding Ansteorra unearthed, copies of the book were made. Enchantments placed upon them to conceal their title and contents, revealing their true nature only to those spoke the words 'Reclaim the Night.'

Coin was used to construct a compound outside of Ansteorra, laborers left to build it while he set about traveling the lands surrounding Valanthas and Scarport. Anywhere that had endured untold suffering by those who served the Dark Primes. Those who were alone, that had lost everything in the attacks, with hopeless eyes and broken spirits were favored above all others, until he had a dozen accompanying him to the compound.

Each were given a mastercraft bow, taught to fletch arrows from their surroundings. Trained day in, day out in appropriate formations to minimalize risk based on potential foes they might face, made to study the book cover to cover. The halls of the compound designed after memories from his past, illusionary copies of monsters faced filling them, traps that had nearly claimed his life recreated without lethality.

By the time he had finished with them, they were a single cohesive unit. Training missions were taken taken into dangerous lands far off the beaten path, but little could contend with them, even without the mouse serving as an active participant. Their arrows rained down like an angry hailstorm in unison upon their targets from all directions, always lurking just out of sight, each fleeing whenever spotted to spread chaos and confusion until the bodies of all foes lay bloodied and limp on the ground.

It was not long until he began to collect reports from across Calenndor, anything that rang familiar. Jesters visiting towns with gifts, bodies drained of life into withered husks, people being hunted and dying at the hands of loved ones they had laid to rest, impossible creatures of darkness lurking about. Each time they arrived in shadow, seeking to repel the creatures as swiftly and efficiently as possible, always leaving behind a copy of that book so that the survivors could better defend themselves.

When one unit was trained to their peak, he would appoint a leader and send them out to continue the fight autonomously. Staying behind, recruiting one dozen more and repeating the process, almost single-minded in his efforts to churn out as many who were skilled at hunting those monsters as he. Perhaps redemption came not in a single act, but a lifetime of endeavor.

The cycle had continued three times before his attention set upon the nearby Kingdom, thoughts turned to those he had forced himself to forget as best he could. But there was a femme he still loved, faces he still longed to see in the periods between training recruits. The compound empty, his path took him to the city gates, rather than returning to lands besieged by the Dark Primes.

A bouquet of firelilies in paw he searched for Kitzerina, nervously seeing if she still held a flame for him as he did for her. If not he returned to the task of training teams of those who could carry on his work and his knowledge. But if she did, he would spend time healing with her help, becoming more the furre he once was. Before the corruption that had infected him and still lingered inside of him in part, before becoming the self-appointed 'Hunter of Heresy' mercenary captain, before his mind was more fragments than whole.

In her company, it wouldn't take long for him to present her with a ring of fused sapphire and ruby, the shape of a flame merged with frost. Nor too long for a wedding to be planned, save the time necessary it would take letters to reach those requested. Those who stood out fondly in his mind, who had been there since he first visited the Kingdom and years onwards.

Rakuro Daregh, as best man, with an inquiry if Haplo Ae'Rakuro might attend as well.
Kivae Volvagia, if she could be found in the wilds of Calenndor.
Canti, laid upon his grave as a token gesture to his memory. A cup of wine poured from his wineskin would allow him to attend in spirit.
Rivyn Volgagia, with a note that it was entirely understandable if such events were a misuse of his time.
Lakorin, were it at all possible to locate her - whether she were demon, paladin or still the fusion.
Albrecht Steinneman, as the mouse had never forgotten being saved from death by his hand.
Chloe May, with a request as to whether she might be the one to join them in union.
K'Kitzerina Elizabeth Ti'Khuršan-Skyree M'Xanthia J'Tyrol Na'(Vision Na'Graath) Ay'Patrilius Sa'Flamis Sa'Aramįgī Lo'Calenndor En'Trinea Manu'Valanthas Ix'Thiboramwass Ix'Khenna'amwass, after checking with Kitzerina a dozen times to ensure piece of the labyrinth that was her elder half's name was correct. And triple checking that he would not be charred for daring to send such a thing.
Path'en, assuring him that napping during the ceremonies wouldn't be considered rude.
Marlina Evenstar, with a request that everyone leave with as much blood as they arrived with.
Ruby Pyralis, with the promise that she needed go no farther than the entrance to the church, and plenty of alcohol would be provided to make it bearable.
Kalannar, with an offering of one of his finest daggers if the peace were kept.
Hikari Xezo, for even if the mouse had never thought much of his ideals, their history alone in the reclaiming of the Paladin's mind made him worthy of attendance.

A note was made to keep the final four as far from one another as was possible, after some deep consideration. A brief thought was given to Tressym, but it seemed in poor taste to allow the Casanova-wannabe familiar cat of Thelmin Waterpasser to get roasted for his typical routine and delusions of grandeur.

No matter how things turned out, the rising sun was ahead of him and dreary night behind. Never again would he be forced into servitude a puppet of darkness, or allow it to encroach upon all that he loved.

(You see Sirum Hest.)
> Lackadaisical, halcyon, bittersweet days of youth had swept by him like so many sands through the hourglass. A distinctly different picture from the scruffy runt one may have shared laughter and spilled blood with. Good friends had imbued him with courage, adventure forged him into a formidable combatant, trials and adversaries broken him while love, redemption and purpose rescued him from madness. Sea-blue hair was bushy as ever with a bandana around his forehead, soft gray fur upon his body etched with scars from triumphs and failures from old - the most notable of which a faded six-pointed star upon his cheek. Rust colored eyes had not lost their warmth or passion for life, nor their attention to detail. Clothing was of fine make, rich blue tunic and trousers fitting a body sculpted by wanderlust. A quiver fastened upon his back held the design of the sky during a storm, tips of so many bolts turned into arrowheads, while the arrows in the quiver appeared somehow transparent and ever-changing like a mirage. A sleek bow of cypress crossed from one shoulder to hip, it's string bearing the shine of dewy spiderweb. Fastened from opposing shoulder to hip was a sash of midnight, various medals and emblems spanning it's fabric to weave a story about the mouse. Representative of Daregh Trading Co., Son of House Volvagia, Journeymage of Archmagess Kitzibeth, Hero of Ansteorra, Leader of the Hunters of Heresy mercenaries, and lovingly worn emerald green leaf within amber from dearest friend. Bejeweled daggers were sheathed upon his belt, his signature 'Blue Lightning' ring upon one paw, but no finery so treasured as the wedding ring of fused sapphire and ruby, frost woven with flame to complete one another. It was best to command his attention when seen, for his steps were as swift as the winds and there was little rest for Sirum Hest.


[o] - Happily Ever After
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