Private Tales Full of Nothing

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Vazia Ferreira

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Valenntenia, Homecoming Night​
Vazia was a woman of few words. She didn't care one way or another for parties, and after Solomon had dismissed them to go about their own ways, most of the Guardians went on their own. The life of a Guardian was a lonely one, and while a few of their numbers were by nature more friendly, most of them were too depressed or lonely to join in the festivities. Away from the stones, many of them would seem to become a different person, able to live a more normal life, or as normal as one could be with such an important job.

Vazia was walking the streets of the town, taking in her surroundings with a rather frightening blank gaze. Her hood remained off her head, and her silvery hair caught the light of the lanterns strung throughout the town. She was alone, and yet she did not mind. This was as far away from the stone as she would get, and her if anyone knew her well, they might say that instead of looking cold and unfeeling, she looked peaceful, and at ease, as if she could find comfort walking amongst the streets of her hometown. She was still on alert; Solomon would want to hear her report either tonight or tomorrow, depending on how bad the situation was with the Fire Guardian and the Water Guardian.

She thought of everyone that had attended, recalling the ones who had greeted her. Amongst such emotion in the town, she could admit that she felt comfort in the others not being frightened off by her unfeeling demeanor. She was also glad she did not recieve much pity; just confusion. Confusion she could handle. She did not take well, however, to the townspeople giving her either frightened looks or even pitying looks from those who fancied themselves welcoming and accepting of the crazies and insane people that wandered their streets. Was she insane? She supposed it was all subjective.

She paused briefly near a public square. There seemed to be a commotion of sorts, and the people nearby wore excited, lustful expressions. Vazia turned, looking for the source of their passion, when her gaze landed on Villam. Of course. He had an aura about him that drew others in, and the people of Valenntenia did not try to fight it. Vazia searched for Villam's gaze, vaguely curious to how he felt about all this.

Villam Regis
 
Villam was exhausted. The powers of the Passion stone were all that kept him on his feet tonight, and while it wasn't obvious, his body and mind ached with throbbing pain. His journey home had been frought with peril after peril, and none of it was of his own doing. No, this stone... It was both a blessing and a curse, as so many of their Runes were. It granted him great powers, symbolized his faith and unwavering spirit. Yet at the same time, people who looked at him rarely saw him as they did any other.

No, in the eyes of the common man or woman, he was an idol. He was a muse to take inspiration and wonder from. No matter where his travels took him, souls flocked to be near him, to bask in his presence. To some, it would be empowering.

Villam, however, had built up a tolerance for the attention. Now, it was far more usual that he simply hid his contempt for the impulsive behavior behind a stone face. These people did not respect him. They respected their ideas of him, warped through the magic of the Stone. Not one of these Valenntenians could truly claim to know Villam, to understand him truly.

But they were his people, and he could not deny them his presence no matter how he wished to do so. He'd arrived to celebrate just as any other, and the smile on his face as he accepted wine and food from passing descendants of the Rune belied his weariness. Still, no amount of commotion could truly distract from the sensation of being watched; of hairs on the back of your neck standing to meet another's eyes.

Vazia.

He felt her watching him, and instead of reluctance, there was a pang of curiosity. Villam tore his dark eyes away from his drink to look through the lights and the crowds to meet her own haunting gaze. The Guardian of Void was not like the others. She was quiet, stoic and nigh impossible to read.

The false smile turned into a genuine smirk. What did she see when she looked at him?
 
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Vazia's expression did not change when Villam met her gaze. Dark eyes met white and while Vazia was sure her expression wasn't easy to read, she could tell Villam was tired and annoyed. She held his gaze for a while, long enough that the others surrounding him turned to see who or what he was looking at. When they saw her, some of them started as if jerking awake from a dream.

How interesting, that Villam didn't seem to enjoy his popularity among the townpeople. Vazia supposed he was lonely just like the rest of the Guardians and she was sure most of the Valentennians were only drawn to him because he was the Guardian of Passion.

Vazia noticed his forced smile slide into a smirk, and she wondered what he was thinking. She considered if she should walk up to him and talk to him, perhaps acknowledge his greeting earlier at the meeting, even scare some of the others away just by existing.

She made up her mind and glided forward. Just like she had assumed, many of those surrounding him skittered away as she drew closer.

"Villam," she said by way of a greeting, inclining her head a little. It was the first word she had spoken all day today. She tried to remember how many of the other Guardians had ever seen her so much as blink with emotion and wondered if she looked strange to him.
 
To be acknowledged by the notoriously reclusive Vazia was rare in its own right, but Villam wasn't sure of the last time he'd seen her approach any of the Guardians unprompted. Not that he was ungrateful-- The Void Guardian's presence did seem to disperse the fervent crowd that had been gathering around them, voices and eyes diverting as they opted not to take their chances getting in the way of what they deemed a fearsome woman.

An odd opinion, in Regis' view. Vazia served just as any of them did. She deserved respect and admiration the same as he. That they couldn't see that brought no small measure of disappointment to the son of The Absalon. With a small frown towards some of the departing civvies, Villam turned towards the silver-haired Void-Wielder, a small smirk tugging at the corner of his mouth once more.

"Vazia. It's good to see you. Thank you, for..." Villam paused, and then nodded his head toward the spreading crowd. "It can be... overwhelming. I know they see hope in me, but it is not me they are truly looking at. It is the same reason they scatter at your approach. I believe there is a saying about staring into the Void, is there not?"

Villam dropped his arms to his sides from where they crossed at his chest, relaxing a little. He actually quite enjoyed her presence, more than the rabble and certainly more than the rather outspoken Guardians like Ayden. Vazia knew the value of words, and not to waste them.

It was an enviable trait.

"The situation with Fire. Does it trouble you?"
 
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Vazia kept her gaze on him, listening as he spoke. He was right; everything he said. She knew the people of Valenntenia never really saw any of the Guardians as the people they truly were or might've been. It was no different with her as they shot her looks of fear, finding some place else to be.

Then he mentioned the Fire Guardian, as she knew he was likely to do. She wondered briefly if she should answer honestly and she figured Villam would prefer she did than to conjure up fake concern. "No. Whatever the ancestors' will is the way,"

It was what they had all told her nine years ago and she no longer wondered if it was true or not. It had gotten her where she is today, and that was all that mattered. While it didn't trouble her, she was distantly curious about what had happened to him. It had to be bad enough to put the Absalon on edge though.

"It troubles your father," she said, more as a statement of fact than as a question.
 
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There was a noticeable change in Villam's expression when Vazia mentioned his father. It tightened, as though he was trying to repress... something. It had only been a passing remark, though, and Villam's opinion of Ferreira was too high to show his anger around her.

"Everything worries the old man. It is the opinion of my fellow Guardian I value."

Villam wiped at a speck on his cheek, his eyes searching Vazia's blank stare for a moment. There was something behind those eyes, something that betrayed the emptiness they seemed to hold, but he'd never been able to place it. The Void Guardian was nothing if not mysterious.

"If somebody did kill Fire, and steal his Stone, we fight back. It's that simple. They won't settle for one, they'll want more." It seemed obvious enough; Fire was far from the strongest stone, and Villam was confident in the abilities of any of them to take out a rogue thief with a stone they didn't understand how to use. "The Tower overthinks this. They overthink everything."

The frustration in Regis' voice was apparent, but so too was the fact he was attempting to conceal it from her to an extent.
 
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Vazia considered Villam, her head tilting slightly. His features tightened, and as he continued to speak, she could hear the frustration in his voice. So the Absalon and his son were not on good terms, or so it seemed. "Then tell your father, when you give your report," she said, something that might have been understanding in her tone.

"And what about the Water Guardian?" she continued. As far as Vazia was aware, the Water Guardian Misty had not been murdered, but she had also deemed to not show up for homecoming. When coupled with the Fire Guardian's death, it was quite interesting.

She turned her gaze to the street of busy people, her features lit by the lanterns. "They don't think its too serious, if the town is still celebrating our return,"
 
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Villam waved a hand dismissively at her concern for Misty. "She's overseas, dealing with too much to drop what she'd doing to return. An exception was made, but from what I understand we've sent a group to check in with her regardless, now that things have escalated." Water's absence had been planned, but there was a small tug of concern. Could she be in true danger, now that they possibly had a hostile agent working against them? Together they were nigh unstoppable, but individually, they had weaknesses.

Vazia was simply attempting to be pragmatic about things, suggesting he speak to his father about his concerns, and pointing out the oblivious happiness of the people. Villam too turned to look at them, dozens of dimly lit faces smiling and laughing under a moonlit sky. They were not chosen like he and Vazia. This weight the two of them carried was not shared with this crowd.

"It's our job. To make it possible for them to celebrate." He replied rather softly, contrasting his outburst a moment ago as his hands slid into his pockets. "We take on the burdens of life so that they can live happily. The weight of the stones; the danger, the pain, the loneliness that comes with this life... It's not something everybody can handle."

Villam's head turned towards her own, slightly.

"But we don't all get that choice."
 
Vazia kept her gaze on Villam as he spoke. There was something about him; he seemed to be constantly repressing something.

"We may not get the choice, but sometimes, handling normal life is much more difficult," It occurred to her that this statement might only apply to her but there were some stones that were more... beneficial than others. The Blood stone, for instance, was not likely to be kind to its guardian.

She looked around them. They were mostly alone now; the plaza they were standing in seemed darker, even though the lanterns were still lit.
 
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(WHOOPS THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE POSTED)

"What were you like, Vazia? Before the Void Stone?"

It was an odd question, coming from Villam. The Passion Guardian had never made it a habit to pry into the personal lives of his fellow Descendants, but the words Vazia now spoke had drawn curiosity from him. He had never met Ferreira before her appointment as a Guardian, unlike Konstantin and some of the others. She was... different than they were. Her personality matched the Void that she wielded.

"I'd like to think I was happier before everybody saw me as some idolic figure, but... I'm not sure I was anymore. Now I'm just more aware of how dissatisfied I am." Not that Villam was unhappy to serve, but he'd become unconvinced of many of Valenntenia's ways. Someday, he hoped, changes could be made. As it was, he stood with very little power, outside of Passion.

"What about you? Would you have seen me that way, before the Void?"

Vazia Ferreira
 
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Vazia was silent as Villam spoke. She knew the question was bound to come eventually. She was aware of the questions that circulated about her; if she had been this way before the stone, or if something had happened. Their consciences wanted to believe that she had been human once, or close to it.

When she held the stone, she knew a peace and quiet like no other. When she was away from the stone, she would realize how full the world really was, making the emptiness that much more obvious. It was something to ponder on and Vazia understood it all in a way that could not be put in words.

"What I was like before the stone does not matter now. It got me where I am today and that is all. Nothing good can come of trying to discern human nature from magic. They are one and the same." Her answer was vague but she hoped Villam did not press her. She was still close enough to her stone to be safe, but there was no longer total peace and quiet within her.

Then he asked what she might have thought of him, before the Void. "Before the Void, I might not have cared," she said honestly. "Truthfully, I do not care now. What other people see you as is of no concern to me." She continued, her blank white gaze locking onto his. Her intention was not to be cruel in telling him this, she was merely answering his questions honestly. He had said he did not like mindless flattery, had he not?

"Why do you question me?" she asked simply after a pause.

Villam Regis
 
Villam expected the blunt honesty from Vazia, and certainly took no offense when she so plainly stated her thoughts. On the contrary, Regis would make the argument that such direct honesty would be a boon to society, rather than a curse. Still, she left enough ambiguity to not truly answer the question he had asked of her.

Rather unlike The Void Guardian. Perhaps he had touched upon a sore spot?

"I question you because I know you will tell me what you truly think. There are few who are not affected by my stone, and fewer who won't sugarcoat things because of my status or surname." He answered, crossing his arms over his chest. His intent hadn't been to prod into Ferreira's past, but the non-answer she provided presented its own small contradiction, one he shook his head at as he walked past Vazia to seat himself on the edge of the fountain, now that the numbers in the gathering began to swindle.

"Magic and human nature couldn't be more different. The powers that we have twist and manipulate the nature of others, and our own. You wish not to speak it, but I'm certain the Void Stone changed you, changed your nature. I know that Passion has altered mine."

Pausing for a moment, Villam let out a low, thoughtful sigh. What other people saw him as was none of her concern, she'd said. That begged a question, but it was one he doubted he'd like the answer to.

"Pray tell, then, what you see me as?"

Vazia Ferreira
 
For the first time in a long time, Vazia could feel her heart pick up speed. "What I truly think," she said, her voice soft. No one had ever asked Vazia about her life before the Void stone. When she held the stone she was able to forget but it was never really forgotten, just unsignificant. Did Villam care? Not just to have her explained but for her? Vazia could not tell.

"I think you are a weary man," Vazia finally said, answering his question. "We seek attention and love in this life but nothing any deeper, and I think you have discovered this rather the hard way." A pause. "They don't see you for who you truly are," Another pause. "Do you struggle with Passion?" she asked, turning the question onto him.

But she still could not shrug off her unsettled feeling.

Villam Regis
 
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Villam felt the ghost of a smile play upon his lips at Vazia's assessment of him. Just as he'd expected of her, she was honest, even if that honesty painted him into that frustrated, disillusioned figure that he was. For one who embodied Void and nothingness, Ferreira was impeccably perceptive. The Passion Guardian brought a hand to the side of his face, cradling an aching head as he spoke.

"You read me rather well, Vazia." He sighed, looking at her from the edge of his vision. "I've learned many lessons in ways I wish I hadn't. I tire of being the Absalon's son-- I've spent so long being seen as my father's offspring that I fear losing any semblance of who I am as an individual." Villam takes a pause of his own, before shrugging. "If that makes any sense to you, anyway."

He swung his legs up onto the fountain and laid back, staring up at the lights suspended between rooftops for the celebrations of the night. Her returned question was a difficult one to answer with complete certainty. It wasn't as black and white as Vazia made it sound.

"I do not struggle with passion, I struggle with being passionate about the things I'm supposed to be passionate about."

Vazia Ferreira
 
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If one was as perceptive as Vazia herself was, they might notice an expression of understanding cross her features. "But you are the guardian of the Passion stone. Surely you could be such big a person as to separate yourself from your father," she said, more thoughtfully than scornfully.

Villam laid on the stone edge of the fountain, staring up at the sky. Before, Vazia would have looked up as well, wondering if there was anything in particular he was looking at, but now she was sure. Instead her gaze stayed on Villam.

"Being passionate is of passion, and if you struggle to be passionate then you struggle with passion," she said softly. "We complicate these things to convince ourselves of something." The question she had left unasked hung in the air between them.

Villam Regis
 
The frustration painted across Villam's grizzled face slowly faded away to a tightened expression of restrained amusement. It looked as though he'd suddenly caught a foul stench in his nose and struggled not to display his distaste.

"Vazia..." He murmured briefly, before letting out perhaps one of the deepest laughs of the last decade of his life. It wasn't that what she'd said to him was inherently funny, or even that he found her words untrue. No, it was the simplicity of them; How she'd managed to take all of his problems and sum them up in a couple of sentences.

"I am passionate. But my passion lies outside of this city, outside of these stones we carry."

Sighing, he sat up once more, looking up at the errie, empty gaze of the fascinating Void-wielder.

"It matters not if I can separate. So long as I am bound to the stone, to this city, then the opinions of those who make up this place weigh equally. I will always be seen as Solomon's son."

Vazia Ferreira
 
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Vazia didn't bat an eyelash when Villam laughed. She watched him silently as he sat up, meeting her blank gaze once more.

"You cannot change your blood. Not easily, anyway," Vazia said. She did not know why he concerned himself with how people thought of him, so long as he did his job. She supposed it was different for the guardian of Passion.

"What is your passion?" she asked, circling back to his mention that his passions lay outside his duties as a guardian. Maybe he had a lover, although she doubted it considering his earlier claims of not being able to be truly seen by anyone.

Suddenly there was a sound like a child crying and Vazia turned her head. The other people nearby didn't react and Vazia wondered if it had been inside of her head. Her heart beat faster and she turned back to Villam, wondering if he had heard it. Something flickered behind her empty gaze.

Villam Regis
 
If it were not only the two of them alone in the dwindling plaza, Villam would have held his tongue and abstained from answering Vazia's question. Being that Ferreira was unlikely to judge or argue with him, at least in his opinion, he relented with a slight nod of his head.

"Change. When I look upon our city I see potential untapped. I see a group who has beholden themselves to departed gods and imprisoned themselves in one tiny patch of a wide open world. The things we could do with these stones... the good we could create."

True, the Guardians were entitled to travel and work their ways upon the world as they saw fit, so long as it fell within certain parameters. How limited they were, though, how constantly scrutinized... Villam felt his hands tighten in his lap.

"I think we're dying. We're wasting away because we're allowing ourselves to become outdated. I'm passionate in our survival, in adapting, and evolving."

Then Villam heard it too; a sound in the air that somewhat resembled a whimpering child. At first, he thought nothing of it, but when only he and Ferreira seemed to take note of the sound, one of his brows rose curiously as he turned his head slightly towards the noise.

"An anomaly of the stones, perhaps... We should investigate."

Vazia Ferreira
 
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He was not wrong. They could do so much more with the stones than was allowed. Not that Vazia ever let it concern her, because no matter how much more they could do it only created more empty spaces. Quite literally, in her case.

Vazia was brought a bit of relief when Villam heard the sound too. So it wasn't in her head, but that did not mean one of the stones wasn't playing tricks on them. Vazia found that she would have liked to have had her stone in her hand right then.

She had just nodded to Villam's statement when the sound came again, but this time as a scream that could've peeled the paint off walls, curdled milk, and made even the bravest man afraid.

Vazia was not brave by any means, but she never showed any fear. But that scream, from a child that sounded as if it were being tortured to death by the most horrid of means, stirred something in her that had long been dormant.

Villam Regis
 
Even Villam, as stoic and fearless as he could be, winced at the gruesome sound that came next. The scream was guttural, and bloodcurdling, and seemed to spawn from the darkest of nightmares. He brought one of his hands up to cover an ear, his other raising to the hilt of his dagger.

"Fucking...!" He swore through gritted teeth in sheer surprise at the horrific noise. Definitely something enabled by their connection to the stones, considering he saw no panic among the pedestrians passing along the adjoining road, and a mutual hallucination seemed unlikely. "Yes, something's happening. Vazia, follow my lead."

Villam heard nothing in reply, and turned his head to look back at the Void Guardian. "Vazia?"

She was there, but she'd not moved since the scream. It had seemingly affected her far worse than it had him, to the point where her face contorted in shapes he'd never seen from the silver-haired woman. Vazia Ferreira showing emotion... showing fear.

It was far more concerning to him than the scream itself.

He turned and moved to her side. "Get ahold of yourself, Ferreira. We've got work to do."

Vazia Ferreira
 
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Get ahold of yourself.

Vazia hadn't realized she'd been holding her breath until she sucked in a sharp one. So he had heard the scream as well. It eased her mind a bit more, but there were feelings stirring deep within her that she had not felt for nearly ten years. She needed to get back to her stone.

She nodded to Villam again, willing her face to return to a blank expression once more. But, having felt no emotions for almost a decade, she was not particularly skilled at hiding them. Which is why she needed the stone. While her face relaxed, something still flickered behind her white eyes, which could not necessarily be described as empty anymore.

She would follow Villam as they moved towards the sound. Was it the stones? Or some sort of magic gone wrong? No one else had reacted to the crying or the screams which not only unnerved the Void guardian but also narrowed down the causes quite well so that the only options were rather obscure.

We've got work to do.

Villam Regis
 
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It didn't take more than those few words to bring Vazia back to him, but that such a shift in her had happened at all still had left Villam rather perplexed. Yes, the sound had been absolutely gutwrenching, but... No. She'd made it clear she wished not to dwell on her emotions, and to speculate in spite of those wishes was a disrespect.

Still, Villam reached out and placed his hand upon her shoulder comfortingly, if only for a moment. A silent gesture of camaraderie, something even the darkest of them needed at times, he'd found.

"You're alright."

Once she seemed to be back in her right mind, Villam moved with Ferreira towards the piercing scream that had just wracked the both of them. Thankfully, there hadn't been a third one to double them over just yet. Still, tracking the scream proved difficult; It had been so loud, it seemed to come from every direction at once. Instead, Villam followed the subtle pull of magic in the air, the rich vibrance of oxygen touched by a stone's influence.

It took them out onto the main road, towards the Tower. Then, off again down a side road, this one leading to a district of more structurally important buildings; the bank, the Vanguard office, and the healers, namely.

"Do you see anything? Nobody should be down this way at this time of night..."

Vazia Ferreira
 
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Vazia stiffened involuntarily when Villam placed a gentle hand on her shoulder. You're alright. She swallowed and blinked.

She nodded, walking with him towards the direction of the sound. There was something in the air, almost tangible. The screams had seemed to come from nowhere and everywhere at once. They followed the shifting trail towards the Tower and she thought maybe it would lead her back to the stones. But of course that was too easy and they found themselves turning down a side street, passing by important buildings.

She could've sworn she felt her stone reaching a hand out to her, laughing with a little girl's voice. The void was messing with her. Putting things in her emptiness where there should have been nothing. She knew if she could only hold her stone once more, her mind would stop playing tricks on her.

"I don't see anything out of the ordinary," she replied to Villam, her voice almost normal. She turned her head slowly as she scanned the streets. They were empty- everyone was in the center of town, celebrating. No one wanted to wander these streets alone.

Villam Regis
 
Vazia was right, and the fact that nothing seemed out of the ordinary only lent him more toward the belief that the power of the stones was at play here.

Villam looked back at Vazia, the slightest waver still hidden within her voice. Something clicked within his mind, and he turned to face her instead. "Vazia." He stated simply. "How long have you been without your stone?"

They had all been required to turn in their stones at the opening ceremony of Homecoming, but Solomon was usually lenient about letting those who needed their Runes to function normally to retrieve them after that point. Evidently, Ferreira hadn't inquired about doing so.

"I've never seen you so shaken up, and you're usually hardier than me. I'm wondering if maybe being away from the Void Rune is causing either you or it to lash out without realizing it."

Villam knew it could happen. There was a sort of 'withdrawal' sensation when taken away from the source of your power for an extended period of time. It affected some of them more than others, but with how connected Vazia was with Void... he couldn't imagine.

Stepping forward, he places a hand on her shoulder again, gently turning her around. Even if it wasn't Vazia causing this, she'd be in no state to help him at the rate she was going.

"Come on. I'll sweet talk my father, get your stone back for you..."

Vazia Ferreira
 
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She had thought she would be alright to walk the streets of the city without her stone in her hand. She had thought since she was still in the city, she would be alright. Evidently she was wrong.

Villam turned to face her, worry in his face. How long had she had her stone? How long since they had met earlier today? "Five, six hours," she replied.

Then he continued speaking. Was she lashing out, projecting onto her environment? Or was her stone taking advantage of her vulnerability to have a little fun? She didn't like either option.

He placed a hand on her shoulder again and turned them around, in the direction of the tower to reunite her with her stone. She could not deny her relief at having her stone in hand again. Even now, when she was closer to her stone than she had been at the fountain, those memories that she had worked so hard to forget were returning, painting her mind in red.

Villam Regis