Private Tales Chasing Shadows

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Nairth San'Seya

The King of Spring -- Preservation Through Action
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"Your form is much too stiff, Tharu. You must learn to move as though your body is made of naught but flowing water."

Nairth San Seya's voice was stern, but gentle as he addressed his son. The two of them, King and Prince, stood in the vast meadow surrounding the vast gateway to Grovehaven Castle. The massive bastion of nature that touched the clouds from the base of a gargantuan tree brought life to all of the land within Nairth's court, and such fertile land was the perfect place for Tharu to practice the life-dance, one of the purest ways to connect to nature and control it, necessary to help it to flourish. "Do not think about what you're doing before you do it. Move with the breeze against your skin, sway with the limbs hanging above you and the blades of grass between your toes."

There was much for his Prince to catch up on; having been unable to partake in any activities typical of the Fae (admittedly Nairth's own fault) had left him out of tune with nature, and such a connection was pivotal for a member of the Spring. Tharu, for his part, was giving it every ounce of effort he could: He stood bare save for markings Nairth had painted on his body with dirt, following the instructions given to him by his father to the very best of his ability. Right now, though, the dance looked less like being one with nature and more like being full of brandy. The Spring King allowed a sigh to escape him. "Keep practicing, I will be back to observe your progress in a short time, Tharu."

Nairth turned to walk back to the castle, hands locked behind his back as the dark sapphire cloak wrapped loosely and lazily around his waist dragged across the ground behind him. Tharu needed silence, and he would only be held back by the elder San'Seya's contant instruction. Besides, there was something else that Nairth had to tend to. A visitor was due to arrive at any moment.

The splendor of the grand hall was a comfort in the trying times he found himself at odds with, the tall windows that allowed cascades of sunlight to bathe his body calmed his troubled mind even on the worst of days. It felt heavenly against his bared chest. The war he waged was worth it. Should he yield, the very sun could be blotted from the sky. None would know it's embrace. His attendants had noticed his arrival within the hall, and already a pair of Sidhe approached to ask him of his needs. With the have of a hand, Nairth dismissed them.

"We have a guest arriving soon. I wish for you to prepare a meal and the western guest quarters at once. Should you see Lady Olyssa, send her to my chambers at once."

The Sidhe bowed before scurrying off to perform the tasks set before them, and Nairth ascended the winding staircase looping around the dais of his throne to his chambers perched high at the top of the castle. There were preparations to be made on his end as well.
 
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Olyssa was going to be late but she didn't particularly care in the slightest, not even when she was being late to see a King - if Midir could get over it so could this new firefly.

"It's okay," she said in a voice she reserved solely for animals and held out a hand towards the beast cowering behind a tree. Its crying had been the reason she had diverted from the leyline to Spring and had put her back at least half an hour from her guesses in making her appointment on time. The Genoskwa looked at her uncertainly and then back down at the stump where his arm should be before promptly bursting into great big tears again. Cautiously, Olyssa took a step forward... and then another.

"Did something bad do that to you?" a big miserable nod. "That wasn't very nice was it?" a shake of the head. So he could understand her, well that was a start.

"Would you like to come with me so I can fix your arm?" the Genoskwa looked at her uncertainly. "I'm a medicine lady, will make pain go away," she held out a hand. "You just need to trust me."

Which was how, an hour later than she should have been, Olyssa finally entered the palace courtyard with the Genoskwa in tow, clutching his dismembered arm. Several servants stopped to gawp as she patted the creatures still good arm when he began to peel back his lips to snarl. "It's okay," she soothed. "I won't let anyone harm you - can someone bring me some skwamoss?"
 
Nairth's servants would be prompt with anything Olyssa requested, as had been ordered by the King. A young Sidhe would provide her with the skwamoss in short order, A few of them shuffled hastily into the castle to inform the King of the guest's late arrival, but the Spring ruler was already well aware and descending the grand staircase; he hadn't expected Olyssa to arrive on time in the first place.

The hour that had passed since he retired to his chamber had been spent crafting a small flower shaped charm of some sort, woven with spider's silk, feathers from a Kingfisher, and nectar kept from the tree Grovehaven had been built from. After washing the charm in the waters running beneath the castle, a focal point for all the brooks and streams in this forest, it was complete: The first Mark of Spring crafted in many centuries.

The tradition of placing a flower on that which was under Spring's protection was a long running tradition, but unbeknownst to many it was based on a much older custom that had long since been forgotten by most of their kind. In the earliest times of Spring's existence, before they could even be considered a court of even Parlor caliber, Marks of Spring were handcrafted by elders, and given to those deemed worthy of being trusted most highly.

This old tradition was phased out when one such bearer of the Mark proved to be anything but trustworthy, using its power to bring the court to the brink of death.

Oberon would frown upon the decision he'd made, to present one to the emerald-haired Autumn Fae that tended to a wounded genoskwa at his front gates. As those massive doors opened and the King exited to meet the busy Beast Keeper, though, it was exactly what he intended to do.

"I was right to entrust its safety to you. You're every bit as perceptive as I was told."

Nairth stopped with enough space between them for her to continue her work, offering a small bow of his head to the guest of honor. It was as he'd thought-- He had indeed met Olyssa once before, albeit briefly. They hadn't had much time to talk at the time, so introductions were still in order.

"I am King Nairth San'Seya. It is a pleasure to meet you once more, Olyssa. Thank you for helping that genoskwa. I fear he wouldn't have made it through without you."
 
Olyssa didn't so much as pause in what she was doing to spare him a glance. With great care she spread the moss over the stub of the creatures arm and then with great precision realigned the broken off fragment. She held it in place as she whispered beneath her breath and the moss began to pulse and glow. The genoskwa made a noise of panic but she soothed him with a touch of her other hand until she was finished with the spell. When she was done she stepped back and the creature tentatively moved his arm, clearly expecting it to fall apart again. When it didn't the rocky creatures face lit up and he began to windmill the arm about until Olyssa scolded him.

"Rest it!" he nodded and quickly snatched his arm out of the air. "No lifting for a week, let the magic settle, then you should be good as new," she nodded at her own work and then, finally, turned to the king with her fists on her hips. She was a good few feet shorter than he but despite having to look up she had a way of appearing to look down at him. The beginnings of recognition flickered in her gaze.

"You?" she sounded incredulous and glanced around as though waiting for someone to say surprise. "You are the new King?" both brows shot into her hairlines. It was nothing personal to Nairth, she still didn't believe Midir was really King.
 
To say the reaction was amusing would be an understatement. The Beast Keeper had been less than pleased with him when first they'd met, shortly after his first public outing since self-exile. She'd lost track of several Adhnúall, if he'd recalled, and her concern for their well-being trumped any manner of niceties she may have otherwise shown.

Nairth held no contempt for her over that incident, of course. It was with a small bow and a gentle smile that The King now greeted her to his home. If anything, Nairth was somewhat envious that his newfound ally in The Erlking had such a skilled woman in his employ.

Rising from his bow, San'Seya locked his hands behind his back as was his habit when speaking. "Indeed. Oberon's death caused the weight of this court to fall to my own shoulders." Turning his body, The King briefly cas a fleeting glance at the castle behind him. "Progress is slow, but I have been trying to bring the Spring Court a level of prestige and respect it has never been offered before. Starting with our new home, a beating heart in the center of this forest."

One of the many servants that busied themselves about the grounds skittered up to Nairth, muttering something under his breath that drew a small chuckle from San'Seya's lips. "Of course..." Olyssa's chambers were prepared, and here he was, touting his pitiable accomplishments off at the first opportunity. He turned back towards her, striding closer as one hand moved from behind him and reached out. "Come here, my friend..."

The King moved beside Olyssa, his hand finding the genoskwa with a gentle touch not unlike Olyssa's own. The beast would show no fear or apprehension towards The King of Spring, who's Speaker Blood allowed commune with any living thing around him. In the silence that followed, the creature spoke of Olyssa's kindness, her gentle care and affection. It was a ringing endorsement, and the only one Nairth truly required.

"Mmm... Our friend thinks very highly of you. The trust of a genoskwa isn't earned easily, as I'm sure you're well aware. If they trust you, I certainly place my faith in you, Olyssa."

Only now did Nairth remove his hand, and extend it towards her.

"Welcome to Grovehaven. We have much work to do if we're to save these lands, you and I."
 
Olyssa had held no love for the last King of Spring. Oberon had been a King with a sickness she had commented to Midir that should have been cut out long ago. Whether or not this fae would fill the high expectations she had for a ruler of such a great swathe of creatures would remain to be seen. She supposed he had been of some help in retrieving those lost puppies all those months ago. Still, she folded her arms over her chest and sized him up as boldly as the Winter Queen herself.

"A lot of work," she repeated none too pleased. It brought them quite well onto the main reason she had taken her time wandering through these lands. Midir had warned her of some shadow and so she had gone seeking it or for traces of it based on a small sample she had been given. It touched far more of the Spring Court than she had initially thought it would and with it came a sickness.

"These lands are afraid," Olyssa said. "The movements of your animals here, the way the trees don't sing anymore..." her head shook. "It got better the closer here I came but... this Shadow must be stopped before you lose too much here. Do you know anything more about it that might be useful?"
 
Olyssa seemed to have a very similar connection to the world to Nairth's own; It wouldn't have shocked the King if the two of them had descended from the same blood long ago. She was the first visitor he'd had since this tumultuous trial began that was perceptive enough to notice anything amiss at all, and it spoke to her sensitivity.

When she made it obvious that she was not going to accept his hand, he shrugged his shoulders and brushed off the casual disrespect. Her assistance was far more valuable to him than her respect, at the moment.

"I've been doing my best to hold the Shadow at bay, but it is quite resilient. While I have found methods of slowing it down, stopping it entirely is going to prove difficult."

Even slowing it had nearly cost him his life on one occasion: the closest he'd been to death in centuries. If it hadn't been for the help of a particularly curious mortal woman with a mind for magic, he might have been caught off guard. Nairth craned his head upwards towards the treetops, the gentle movement of leaves in the passing breeze deceptively peaceful for a land in such danger.

"I hesitate to call it a living creature, but it certainly seems to be such. It has a parasitic nature, infection other creatures and using their bodies as vessels. Oftentimes these creatures exhibit mutations and violent behavior. Killing the creature it is inhabiting usually causes it to flee and hide for a few days' time before returning again."
 
Olyssa tapped her chin thoughtfully as Nairth caught her up to speed. Her first thought was much the same as his; that it was some type of living entity. She had read about spirits and the like inhabiting other bodies to impact the physical plane before though she had never seen anything of the sort herself. She had, however, had the misfortune of witnessing demons do much the same thing to a fae once. The body hadn't been able to sustain the darkness and the fae had died in agony before the creature had moved on.

She hated staying still whilst she thought so she began to walk the courtyard aimlessly.

"The best way to assess it is for me to see it in person, but I'll settle for the place it last touched," she thought out loud. "We might be able to use the lands to tell us of where it might be, they are afraid of it and probably watch it," the trees here had once used to sing until Oberon's rule had silenced them bit by bit. She was sure they could be convinced to sing again.
 
Olyssa was restless, that much was obvious. The King's eyes followed her as she paced and talked, one of his brows raising as she made plans to investigate the last known location of the aberration they sought. She wasn't one to rest on her laurels and wait for problems to come to her, then. Good, they would need that assertiveness.

"I have the place in question secure. You can be there in short order, should you wish to begin so promptly." The thicket where he'd had the most violent encounter with The Dark One was indeed quite close, guarded by a magical barrier of Nairth's creation to prevent anything from tampering with the scene. "The cursed thing nearly took my life there. Had I not been prepared we wouldn't be having this conversation." That monstrosity had stood nearly five stories over his head, a daunting task that required some improvised fighting. "As you suspect, The trees were indeed very willing to help me. It was them that struck down the beast, under my guidance."

In truth, he hadn't been back there since erecting the barrier. Still, if anything had crossed his safeguards, he would know. Beckoning one of the watching servants, they approached and held out a small seed for Their King, who proceeded to toss it high up into the air.

It hung there in the sky above their heads for a moment, before a small bird flew from the treetops and caught it within the confines of its beak, flying towards the thicket as San'Seya watched after it with a hum. "I'll know for sure if it's safe in a moment, regardless. Would you like to be on the way?"
 
Why was he questioning whether she wanted to be on the way? Of course she did! This shadow was something new, something exciting, as much as it was terrifying because of its depravity. She wanted to study it as soon as she could! But then, bit by bit, she seemed to remember that she had just come from a long journey and that most would wish to rest afterwards. It was not as though the Spring Court were right next door.

"Y...es," Olyssa said after only a brief hesitation. Her see through wings drew up and fluttered in anticipation. She might have been a little weary as they said but she was not tired yet. Olyssa was an old fae and as such her need for rest was far less. "It would be good to see it as fresh as I can, then I shall rest a little before we set out some plan. Yes, that seems sensible," she nodded to herself.
 
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A knowing smile ever so briefly crossed Nairth's lips at the sudden unsureness in her voice. Olyssa's vigor was enviable, but she held the trait that so many of their kind did in sometimes forgetting that while high above mortals in status, they did not have the gift of unending stamina. Still, it would be rather uncouth to tease her, tempting though it was.

"Very well then, Lady Olyssa. I will have my servants show you to your quarters. It overlooks the western side of the forest, so you should have a very pleasant view. There are hot springs in the Grand Hall, and I've already had food prepared should you be hungry."

Let it not be said that Nairth San'Seya was ever a poor host. The same lesser servant who had procured the strange seeds for him moments earlier now approached Olyssa with a respectful bow, his neat and tidy uniform not too unlike that of a mortal retainer, though far sleeker, and well fitting, with several paint markings applied by the king depending on the tenure and title of said servant. "Lady Maeve, if you would be so kind as to accompany me..."

As Olyssa was led away towards her chambers, Nairth called back to her. "I shall have the area scouted thoroughly by the time you awaken, I suspect. Should anything urgent occur, I will send for you."

It wasn't a particularly long walk to the guest chambers situated above the Grand Hall, but the spiral walk upwards from the staircase that connected to The Hall's dias was one meant to show the splendor of Grovehaven Castle; the windowed roof that allowed fresh sunlight to shine down on those within, warming the springs that lined the sides of the upper level, hidden by long banners bearing the San'Seya crest for those wished to have privacy, the vines that hung from walkways almost imperceptibly high, the smallest of Nairth's court climbing up the foliage to reach the top levels of the castle much quicker.

"The King has given you the chamber built to honor the late Isa San'Seya, his first child." The servant explained as they reached the top of the staircase and passed through a set of wide oaken doors into a slightly more narrow hallway lined with roots. "The room has a private spring, filled with water from the Grove this Castle was built atop, as well as a direct leyline to Grovehaven's heart. You should feel replenished quite quickly."
 
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As the servant opened the door to the chamber a thousand thoughts of stuffy rooms came to mind. Plump pillows and thick dusty drapes. Perhaps even some heavy dark wood furniture. She would have to be polite, of course, especially if it had been made for a child who had not survived but truthfully she was already dreading her stay in the mausoleum. So with that preconception already built up in her mind, Olyssa found herself pleasantly surprised by what greeted her beyond the door.

It was, in short, beautiful.

Olyssa dumped her single bag on the floor thoughtlessly as her eyes travelled up the walls to the ceiling, taking in the tiny intricate details in the coving and painting. Everything resonated with the outside and the wider, wilder beauty of the forests beyond that could be seen through wide oval windows.

"Thank you," she murmured and then paused to untangle a strand of plaited ribbons, feathers and beads from her hair which she passed to the servant as a sign of her gratitude. The Lesser Fae hid his beaming smile and quickly backed out of the room, leaving Olyssa in peace.

In the silence she admitted the tiredness she now felt creeping in at the corners. Stifling a yawn she kicked off her shoes and went to find the bath.
 
At the same time that Olyssa was admitted into the room named after both The King's biggest accomplishment and most awful failure, Nairth himself returned to his own chambers with his son Tharu and one of his Knights, returned quickly from his King's reconnaissance assignment. The news he brought back was less than pleasing to San'Seya's ears.

"Your dismissal of our guest is unacceptable, Ryzea, regardless of your findings." He spoke sternly, eyes not on his Knight, but looking out sharply from his balcony, eyes vigilant for the slightest flicker of darkness. There was little to suggest that the Dark One had a high degree of intelligence, but if it did, Olyssa's arrival would mark an act of significant aggression in its twisted eyes, and they would meet resistance. The Spring King was not taking any chances. He would remain on watch until she awoke, however long it took.

"We finally have somebody who may be able to deliver us insight on our foe. Olyssa's abilities are not to be underestimated, and I have faith she will allow us to find a foothold." Finally he turned to face the Knight and Prince behind him, though only looking back at them with one unblinking eye. "That you are unable to locate a trace yourself at the site in question is not indicative of what she will find. Secure the area as I have directed, and you will see in time."

A bit solemnly, the Knight bowed and departed the King's Chambers, leaving Nairth alone with his son, who stepped forward to stand beside his father on the wide balcony overlooking the forest, clearing his throat softly.

"I've recieved word from Sir Razareal. There's been no sign of The Dark One in Autumn lands thus far, but they are remaining vigilant. Likewise, The Vitae have encountered only small mutations, suggesting the shadows have moved on."

Nairth nodded, though the brief stay of The Dark One in Vitae grounds did confuse him. Why would they arrive there, and then depart so suddenly?

"Alert me when Olyssa awakens, Tharu. You've done well today."

For now, there was nothing to be done but wait.
 
Olyssa did not sleep long, probably not as long as she should have after a long journey like the one she had just undertaken, but it was enough to turn the weariness in her bones into a mild headache a little water would fix. As she left her rooms she caught a shadow peeling off from the one her door cast, no doubt off to tell the King she had awoken. It didn't bother her. Midir did much the same when he had a wish to speak to her.

She carried on retracing her steps back through the palace. Kitchens were usually in the lower levels and she figured heading down would lead her to them or at least the smell of them. The odd few servants she passed gave her surprised looks and little bobs of the head but none made to stop her; she wasn't high fae after all. Eventually the smell of fresh bread led her to the right door and she let herself in. A few of the cooks glanced up.

"Can I help you, girl?" a faun stepped forward drying his powdery hands on his apron. "I'm afraid it's a bit too early for dinner but I could find you something..."

"Olyssa, and that would be wonderful. Thank you. I don't suppose you know my friend..."

As it turned out the cook not only knew of Ceinwyn but was her Uncle and he soon had her set up in a spot in the kitchen where she wouldn't be in the way with a plate of some warm apple pie.
 
Word of Olyssa's awakening did indeed travel quickly, and the dainty pixie he'd instructed to observe her lodgings was fast to fly through the branch-embraced stone pillars and towers of Grovehaven to find the window to the King's personal quarters sitting above it all. In the few hours that had passed, San'Seya had moved little if at all; still he stood at his balcony and watched, thoughts that had troubled his mind for far too long unrelenting in their nagging.

"She's awake, My lord! Headed to the kitchens, I think!"

Nairth's concentration on the expanse of land that he ruled broke as his golden-amber gaze slid to the sparkling little creature, a gentle smile finding his lips as he bowed his head towards her in thanks. "My gratitude. You may retire for the evening, Ritza."

With a floating curtsy, the pixie flew home, somewhere amongst the dense trees of the Spring. Nairth followed her with his eyes for a time, before turning into his room, reaching out to retrieve the object he'd left on the railing as he did so, that Mark of Spring he'd finished that morning. He'd not yet decided whether to gift its blessings to Olyssa, but he wished to have it close in the event he made his mind up.

Slowly he descended the spiral staircase from his chambers, but he did not move towards the kitchens. He would let her gather her thoughts in peace while he made his own preparations. Instead, the vast garden at the rear of the castle beckoned him.

When Olyssa finished her meal, she would receive word from the Faun she'd befriended that Nairth had summoned her there.

She would find him knelt in the dirt amongst the flowers, a small wooden bowl full of vibrant indigo colored powder in front of him. He seemed not to notice her, his eyes closed and a light smile on his face as he dipped two fingers into the powder, running the thick dust across his face in abstract swirls and points.
 
Olyssa was nicely - but firmly - put out of the kitchen and told to go and see to the King by the cooks as soon as she was finished. She'd have preferred to have stayed and have a tea but she supposed loyalty such as this was meant to be admired in the serving staff. She gave a sniff; Midir better not get any such thoughts in his head. She did him the honour of being in Autumn and he best remember that! She had, however, been given a little bag to take away with her with some of the fresh muffins that had just come out of the oven as she was being shown the door.

She plopped unceremoniously to the floor beside Nairth as he did his make-up.

"Muffin?" she offered, opening the bag towards him.
 
The King's attention was drawn from his paint to the Fae seating herself beside him. His eyes lazily drifted over to the emerald-haired woman with a soft smile upon his lips. To call what he smeared on his skin make-up would not technically be incorrect, but it was far more than a cosmetic. Still, he doubted she wished to expound upon the nature of different plant life and their effects on the body. Not when he'd summoned her here in the first place.

"Thank you, but I must decline." Nairth shook his head slightly. "If I'm being honest with you, eating makes me rather tired. I prefer to wait until my schedule is clear enough for rest before I allow myself a meal." The kitchens had been rather immaculate; if not only because of the dutifulness of the staff, but because Nairth himself ate so sparingly. Of course, he allowed its usage to feed the rest of Grovehaven. "I take it the room was to your liking?"

Nairth slid aside his paints and placed his hands on his knees, a rather casual pose for a King speaking business. "I've ensured our trip to the last known location of The Dark One will be unhindered. There is not much in the way of physical remnant of his presence, but with your renown, I'm hopeful you will find traces I am incapable of detecting."
 
Olyssa shrugged when her offer was rejected.

"It's likely," she sniffed and began to pick chunks off the rejected muffin to pop into her mouth. Whatever hesitation she had felt earlier had clearly vanished and her confidence had returned. "Whatever this thing is it is alive, and if it is alive then I can study it," her wings fluttered, betraying her excitement. Despite the gravity of the situation that Midir had impressed upon her, the Beast Keeper couldn't help be excited about seeing something new. Especially something so... unusual. She sprung to her feet, muffin forgotten.

"Let us go. I have everything I need," she motioned to the bag sat at her feet which she snatched up and set across her body.
 
The King watched Olyssa as she readied herself to leave with a smile, albeit not one without some amount of trepidation. He'd lost good people to this monstrosity, and while Nairth was certain of Olyssa's ability to take care of herself, the fact remained that The Erlking was entrusting him with her well-being to some degree. San'Seya was powerful, of course, but not clairvoyant-- There was no telling what could happen.

"Yes. We can be there shortly. I've arranged a ride for us." Nairth rose to his feet and carefully stepped around the growing plants in the ground beneath his feet as he stepped in front of Olyssa and led her out of the garden and back into the courtyard where she'd arrived earlier in the day. The Castle was calm and quiet now, a far cry from the murmur of commotion that had filled every chamber when she'd arrived as they had prepared for her.

Beyond the main gates were two horses being tended and cleaned by retainers, each with a woven blanket of blues and purples across its back. One was Nairth's personal stallion, a pearly white beast with its hair tied into long braids, but the other was a much younger mare, having only been a filly several months prior. Still, the chestnut brown female was remarkably patient. His handlers had taken to calling her such-- "Patience".

"She's not seen much of the Forest yet, and I thought this a prime opportunity to let her stretch her legs. Would you do the honors?" The King smiled as he mounted his horse, feeling no need for anything to hold. Ballacea knew him better than almost anyone, and they connected at the mental level. Of course, it helped that San'Seya's had the gift of the Voice.

He wondered if Olyssa didn't have some similar talent?
 
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Olyssa was a different being entirely around animals as demonstrated by the way her whole manner of walking changed when approaching the horse. The arrogance faded away and a feeling of safety seemed to radiate from her as she stepped up to the horses head.

May I? she asked softly as she held out a hand. The Sidhe had never queried what her gifts were before. She had never felt a need for a word or an explanation, to Olyssa she simply was what she was. It had made her a terrible teacher over the years for she could never explain how she did what she did. There was no spell, no magic so to speak of, just an instinct that told her what to do when she needed it.

Of course, the young mare pressed her nose into the crook of Olyssa's neck and snuffed her hair. The fae smiled and brought a hand up to scratch at just the right spot which sent the horses bottom lip wobbling.

Your king has asked if I could ride you; would you mind?

Not at all. I would like to run. I intend to teach this stallion he is old, and I am faster.
Olyssa tried to hide her smile as the mare raised her head proudly. With her permission, Olyssa mounted and tucked her filmy wings tight against her back. Guiding her with her legs, the mare set off at a brisk pace through the forest.
 
Ordinarily, Nairth would have been atop his own horse soon after Olyssa. Something had made him take pause, however. Something he hadn't quite expected. The King had caught a glimpse of it earlier, upon her arrival to the Castle, but only now did he know for certain that his suspicions had been correct.

"Fascinating..." San'Seya murmured aloud, walking towards The Keeper and The Mare, his own hand tracing across the white flesh of his Stallion as he gazed at the pair in a small bit of wonderment. " Lady Olyssa, what you just did... It's..." What, indicative of a San'Seya? No, it would be insulting to insinuate that her talent was in any way because of his bloodline. Still, the way she had just spoken to Patience. Not verbally, but with the voice of nature itself...

...It was uncannily similar to the instinct every San'Seya was born with. It had always been their most cherished trait, the power of The Speaking. In all of his years, Nairth had never met another aside from his own children who held the gift.

"...Very refreshing to see another use such a gift in that way." The King finished, deciding against further thought on the matter. Perhaps he could inquire more about her talents later, but for now there was much to be done. With a soft stroke to his stallion's mane, Nairth told his old friend where they were headed, and without hesitation the beast began to move forward with a soft huff of air.

"It should take only minutes. At the time of the attack, I'd yet to construct Grovehaven. Were such a presence to come so close now, I would know much sooner."

At least, Nairth liked to think.
 
Olyssa sniffed; of course what she did was fascinating. She operated on a level with the worlds creatures many could only dream of. It was right that the Spring King finally recognise her talents and importance - perhaps now they would be able to work better together. Something niggled at the back of his mind of some information the Erlking had given her about this fae's magics but she hadn't been paying much attention at the time. Of course, Nairth's particular choice of words went completely over her head. Had she been paying better attention it might have jogged her memory.

"You could not have prepared for something you had never come across before," to a unwise fae it might have sounded something like empathy, that Olyssa was trying to soothe any guilt the king was feeling about having let these attacks get so close. What she was really being was truthful. No matter how attuned to the world a person was - even someone like herself - could be blindsided by a creature such as this. "Even if you had sensed it was something dark, what you knew might not have been effective," no two creatures were exactly the same.
 
Nairth seemed a bit distracted as they neared the site, either by his own recollection or by Olyssa's words he was unsure, but his brow furrowed in thought as the density of the forest around them slowly began to part. "Perhaps." He muttered, little of the bravado and confidence he usually spoke with in his tone. "But I am the King now. I cannot make excuses for myself. This thing puts those who believe in me at risk." When he'd initially confronted the horror, he'd still only been a Chamberlain, drifting aimlessly without thought for his future.

Things were different now.

The maw of Spring opened at last, and the two of them rode into a large clearing, baked by sunlight and vast in scope. The grass was low to the ground as if it had been cut, and any color from plant life was sparse and spread out. Something had killed this earth, and it had only just begun to recover. Even the horses seemed to tread lighter on this land.

The lack of vibrance was far from the only thing odd about the clearing though. Nairth muttered his Stallion to a slow stop, as he nodded for Olyssa to look forward to the other side of the gap in the trees. There, where there should have been more forest, was a wide expanse of fallen and flattened trees, uprooted and crushed against the forest floor.

"It had taken a behemoth form. I was able to skewer its body, and it fell upon those trees and fled its massive host. One day, the remains vanished."

The remains of whatever unfortunate creature had been tainted and twisted, rather. The Dark One itself was small, nimble, and devious.

"If there is any trace, it will be there."
 
  • Thoughtful
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A single touch to Patience's shoulder and the mare drew to a halt. Olyssa got the sense she did not need much convincing not to stray further into the forest; her muscles were bunched beneath where Olyssa sat as though ready to spring into a gallop. The Sidhe wisely took care in dismounting and gave the horse a comforting pat against the neck. She could feel the wrongness the horses were picking up as soon as her bare feet touched the cropped grass. Her toes wriggled and her nose scrunched up in disgust but she didn't pause as she strode towards the gap.

Even without Nairth's retelling it was clear a great battle had happened here. Her fingers trailed the broken trees listening to the echoes of their final moments. They had been scared, terrified even, enough to make them consider dragging up their deep roots and running in a way the trees had not moved for over a millennia. There was a sadness there too at their own destruction and not being a part of the forest anymore.

Olyssa grimaced.

I'm sorry, she whispered and moved on.

She came to a stop unknowingly where the body had fallen and crouched down to scoop up a bit of the earth in her fingers. After a thought she brought a tiny bit of the soil to her nose then licked it for good measure, her head cocking to the side. Muttering to herself she reached into her satchel and brought out a worn, battered journal which she flipped open and began to scrawl in.
 
Nairth remained mounted, allowing Olyssa to console the trees. It was something he himself had come to this spot to do often since that battle. These lands were under his protection, and on that day he had failed in that duty. There was no excuse, but redemption would come with the Dark One's demise.

His horse stirred, clearly bothered by the tainted air in this place. Nairth too could feel the stench of death in his nose even months after the fact. Slowly, the King slid to the earth and moved closer to Olyssa as she worked, careful not to startle her. Tharu had taught him how jarring sudden noise could be when one was attempting to concentrate.

"They battled well for me, these trees..." He told her softly, kneeling in front of them and placing his palms gently on the soil. "Uprooted themselves, pierced the enemy at my call. Without their sacrifice, there would be no forest left here. I am sure to give them thanks." San'Seya spoke solemnly, before whispering to the trees in much the same manner Olyssa had.

Rising slowly to his feet once more, The King brought his eyes to the sky. "My son claims he's found somebody who wields a power the creature is weak to. A pixie. I've yet to meet this supposed woman, but I do hope she is as effective as The Prince claims."
 
  • Wonder
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