Private Tales In the Wake of the Raging Flame

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Eren'thiel Xyrdithas

The Broken Sword
Character Biography
Under good circumstances, the likes of an Avariel and an Aeraesarian could cover a vast distance rather quickly. These, however, were not good circumstances. It was only moments ago that they were joined in terrible battle against unspeakable odds, managing to only just barely escape what could have very well been their doom. Caliane had defeated the demon and Erën had managed to incapacitate the demoness, but only for a time. It was clear neither had come to their end, but neither did they pursue, far too preoccupied with the now rampant monsters attacking each other and everything else, including their former masters.

In these precious moments of disarray and violence, Caliane and Eren were joined together once again, and from those broken and burning lands, they fled.

With Caliane continuing on ahead, Erën turned to contend with another of the monsters. Several had taken interest in them, and with each exertion each foe became more deadly. This one was severely maimed, likely from an altercation with one of its own. It was without one of its forward limbs, and half of its mandible jaw was torn off. Though Erën, vigilant in his posture, appeared in perhaps much better condition, was not. But he drew his sword and readied himself, taking in an eased breath.

The monster approached, almost unhindered by its wounds.

As it came near, another breath.

Only a little strength.

In an instant his reflexes snapped, and it was as though he had gone from one place to another in the blink of an eye. Two of the monsters remaining limbs slid out from under it, and it collapsed into a harmless mess. As for Erën, it took almost everything he had to keep himself standing for those few moments after. His head was a bit lighter, and his breath heavier. For a few seconds, he even propped himself up with his sword. Then after what felt like an excruciatingly long recovery, he turned and took up a feeble jog after Caliane to rejoin her, which given the pace she was able to keep, was not as woefully difficult as it first seemed. And though it seemed that that was the last of them for the moment, the screeching and howling behind them did little to comfort Erën. Despite how dreadfully exhausted as the pair of them were, there was no chance of them safely remaining nearby. They had no choice but to run.

"There is a portal stone nearby," Erën said past his laboured breath, "we can make it."

Have we ever felt so exhausted?

Silence was her only answer and it made her shiver. Never in her life could she remember true silence. There had always been something at the back of her mind, a presence, the soft crackling of a winters hearth, the feel of warmth. Up until a few years ago she had hated even that small flicker of consciousness that reminded her daily her body did not belong just to her. How many moons and stars had she wished upon to make it go away? And now, as she dragged her mud covered wings over leaf-strewn forest pathways, she couldn't help but wish for it back. Caliane truly worried that the fight with that demon had destroyed the Soul Fire forever.

What would that mean for her?

She stumbled over a rock half hidden by the autumnal leaves that carpeted their walk in reds and golds and yellows and gave a quiet curse as her knees hit the mud with a soft squelch. It was a herculean trial to push herself back to her feet but she managed it, just, and focused more intently on where she placed her feet. Grounded as she was there were more dangers here. Her wings became her biggest weakness as laden as they were and her bones, lighter than most creatures, would be easy to break. Without the Soul Fire she was... she was...

Caliane blinked as Eren joined her and she brushed mud from the palms of her hands.

"I'm slowing you down," she said not for the first time with the deeper meaning weighing behind them; leave me, her words said starkly if he only glimpsed between the lines.
Muddy palms or no, Erën reached out and grasped Caliane's hand tightly, saying, "this is no time for jokes."

There was a howling from far behind carried on the breeze, one of imminence and urgency.

There was no remaining in one place for them, not now, and so allowing as much ease as he could, he led Caliane onward with his hand in hers, refusing to even for a moment let her go. And though it was true that it was her safety that continued to fuel him so, that caused him to fight past the burning exhausting in his body, there was another he also sought safety for, one who no longer appeared present, but yet very much was.

As they continued on, Erën felt the presence of the portal stone begin to grow. It was still far off, but with every step they drew closer.

"Just keep your hand in mine Caliane. We will be there soon..."

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The Avariel could only give a tiny, tired, sad smile as he took her hand.

I'll be the death of him.

Only silence replied.

Every step was a mammoth task but she steeled her will and put one foot in front of the other. For him. If it had been anyone else with her or if she had been on her own, Caliane would have given in to the sirens song of sleep and let fate take its course. She took a deep, pain-filled breath as her wings dragged along the floor catching branches and rocks leaving behind feathers and specks of blood like a macabre trail of crumbs.

"Where do we go?" anywhere was the first thought that came to mind but blindly stepping from one danger to another would make the victory of reaching the portal stone pointless altogether. "I've never... used one before," she'd always relied on her wings.
His body cried out in protest, demanding his surrender, pleading for a reprieve. Even as tears welled in his eyes from the sheer pain of his exhaustion, he refused to relent. With Caliane's hand in his, if even a mountain stood before him he'd have already determined to go straight through it. In a world so dark that had taken everything else from him, he would surely die before he would be without this light that had found him. He would meet his end before he saw it extinguished.

"There is a stone in the very heart of Belgrath, surely we will be safe there," he said without turning his head, hiding the pain on his face.

They came to an escarpment several meters high, and below at the center of a small valley, the portal stone sat dormant. Normally such a height would be little more than a thought and easily traversed by either of them, but in their weakened state, they would have to go around. So they started, meanwhile the sounds from behind them continued to grow, and it became obvious that there were more than just a couple of the feral beasts that had caught on to their trail, and thirsted still for their blood.

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Caliane couldn't help the laugh that tumbled from her dry lips making it sound hollow and cracked.

"Remind me to give you an Avariel history lesson," there was no love lost between her kin and the dwarves. It had been many centuries since the great wars but both people had long memories. Of course, she did not remember the time she had travelled with Eren and Lazule to such a place before, when the Soul Fire had been in control of her body and she had been courting death.

Rough stone steps were chiselled into the valleys edge to make it easier for travellers using the portal stone but Caliane stuck to the bit of grass to the side, not trusting her feet to not miss a step and preferring instead a slow shuffle down the bank. How did Groundlings walk all the time? It was so much more tiring than flying.

"Do you know ho-" the rest of the question was probably an important one, and had it been answered what happened next might not have happened. As fate would have it however, a snarl echoed from behind them and bounced off the walls of the valley once the pair were half way down. A group of wargs looked over the edge, masked riders on their back. With a call between them the band suddenly leapt down and gave chase, drawn by the money an Avariel's wings would make.
Those creatures, wargs, were preferred by often the most nefarious sort of traders. They were ferocious beasts, and usually kept hungry for the hunt. So it was then that Erën's entire being filled with dread upon hearing the all too familiar sound of their vicious snarls.

He need not even look back.

"Caliane, run!"

He held her hand tightly as he started faster down the slope, but even with their lead it was unlikely that they would make it in time. Neither of them could keep up any kind of haste...

As for confronting them... there was nothing left in him, there would be no lightning called down from above. He wondered if he could even pull his sword from its sheath properly. It was likely that to stand his ground would mean almost certain death within moments. But even if that were true, if it came to it, perhaps in such a stand he could buy Caliane the time needed to escape.

"Keep running, no matter what!"

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Small stones ran past them, loosened by the claws of the wargs behind them as they scaled their way down the valley as quickly as the rocky landscape allowed. Caliane considered the idea of rolling down herself, it certainly couldn't be any more painful than leaping from one steep step to another as they were now. She found it in herself to draw her wings up so they didn't thump upon every ledge and the effort made her head spin and vision blur.

"I'm not built to run," she panted, half with the exertion of spreading her wings and half with the effort of running which was an alien concept to her altogether. She let go of his hand and instead wrapped her arms around his waist from behind; he'd been protecting them this whole way. She could do this last bit. She could get them to the stone quicker. "I'm built to fly," and with that she pushed them from the side of the steps and into the valley air. It was less of a flight and more of a barely controlled fall, but Caliane's wings were far quicker than either of their legs and soon they crashed into the very bottom of the valley, mere meters from the portal stone.

Small, baby soft feathers drifted down from the sky like snow.
They'd fallen into a tangled heap, and Erën was a liar if he were to say it wasn't a painful and dizzying impact, leaving him somewhat disoriented. Then as the spinning slowed he realized the solace Caliane had granted them, and when his eyes fell upon the warg riders still intent on descending into the valley and soon be upon them, he forced his body to react. Avoiding harm to his love in doing so, he pushed himself up from beneath Caliane and shakily rose to his feet.

She'd delivered them just inside the stone's area of effect, so he needed only reach it...

Desperate to do so, he took long strides, a reached out while channeling what energy he could to activate the stone...

And just as his foot fell, an angry arrow pierced his leg with pain, and he faltered. With his balance thrown he began to fall. He'd nearly been there, and as he fell his hand slapped against the stone upon and unknown rune.

And they were gone.

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Arrows. Shouting. Pain.

Tumbling. Reeling. Darkness. And then--

Caliane gasped as she hit the glasslands with a thud. Bright, brilliant sunlight beat down from the heavens replacing the murky mountain mist that they had just been surrounded by in the depths of the Spine. She squinted, holding a hand up to shield her eyes from the brilliance whilst her eyes adjusted. Unfortunately, her stomach did not give her the luxury of slowly adjusting. Quickly rolling to the side, pulling her wing out of the way with painful effort, she emptied the contents of her stomach. Caliane had never travelled by portal stone before but she vowed then and there she would never do it again.

"Eren..." she whispered hoarsely and glanced blearily around. The last few fragmented moments of their time in the Spine came back to her in a jarring series of images and sensations. But the one that stood out the most was him being shot. "Eren!" she cried when she spied a crumpled heap not that far from her and crawled over on hands and knees, careless of her wings dragging along the close-cropped grasses.
As she came to him, he was able to bring himself to his hands and knees and then rest on one leg crossed underneath him, although he stretched the other out some to keep the pressure off of the arrow that protruded quite nastily through his flesh. He leaned his back against the portal stone, and though he struggled, but he wore a shaky smile as he reached out to Caliane as she drew near.

"I'm okay," he said, though the pain in his voice was obvious, "are you alright...?"

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Caliane pressed her cheek into his palm and mimicked the motion with her own hand, gently running her thumb over his high cheekbone. Alive. He was alive and so was she. By some miracle. At least, they were for the moment. Her emerald eyes shifted from his face down to the protruding arrow in his thigh and she let her hand drop from his face to begin removing her jerkin and the shirt underneath.

"I'm fine," she said dismissively. Fine being a relative term to how one should probably feel after an elemental being turned you into a giant to fight a demonic evil. All she needed was simple rest, Eren needed far more.

"We need to get you to a doctor but..." she half glanced around them as she tore half the shirt to ribbons and the wide open grasslands that stretched in every direction. "I don't remember Belgarth being like this..." where were the mountains the dwarves so loved to hide in?
Erën's eyes softened, and his pain became a momentary memory as they shared a quiet moment of affection with one another. Together. But she wasted little time tending to him, and he watched as Caliane worked diligently despite her exhaustion to aid him with his injury. It almost brought sorrow upon him to think of how remarkably selfless she actually was. But how could one feel sad for something so beautiful and rare? Instead, he vowed to do unto her the same, as often and for as long as he could.

He smiled at her assessment, replying, "we need only remove the arrow... my body will heal well enough."

Then he looked around, doing his best all the while to spare her of any more indications of his discomfort, which after having composed himself some following their transportation, he managed well enough. He did however let out a quiet sigh, as he too had also taken notice upon their arrival but had avoided until now - they were not in Belgrath.

"No, nor do I," he said, his voice lowering with concern, "I do not know this place."

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Tightly Caliane wove the strips of fabric above the wound to slow the flow of blood to a trickle whilst Erën confirmed her fears; they were lost. The runes on the portal stone were not obvious in depicting which destination they represented and so she had no way to determine where they were simply that the grass blood-smeared rune looked like their surroundings.

Determining where they were was a secondary issue.

"I need to take this out," she gently wrapped her fingers around the arrows shaft. The shot had been a powerful one to go straight through his thigh and appear at the other end which meant the damage inside could be worse, but at least she could remove the head before yanking it out. "Be very still," she spoke softly before removing the hunting knife from her lower back. With quick, practised strokes, attempting to keep the arrow as still as she could so as not to cause more pain, she sawed off the metal head leaving just the shaft. Then, with as much tender care as she could manage, she pulled the rest of the arrow free and clamped the cloth over the wound as quickly as possible.
He knew what was about to happen. He knew what she needed to do. Gods knew he was far from willing to do it himself, although he had, from time to time. And he would have this time, were it not that no level of insistence levied against Caliane, she would not waver. She would be the one to do this for him. And as he watched her tend to his wound, through each wincing pain and behind ever stifled grunt, he remembered what he had come to believe...

"Be very still..."

He did not fully understand - it was her, but it was not, yet it cared for her, and struggled not. Or rather, not as much anymore. Caliane was strong now. The Soul Fire, she called it. She said it chose her. He'd come to think she gave it no other choice... she was the only one it wanted.

As careful as she was, removing the arrow's head came at no small expense. He felt every subtle movement, every vibration, all of it feeling like his flesh was tearing apart. All this from a gentle wiggling back and forth. He handled the pain as well as he could, keeping as still as possible with only the infrequent and restrained recoil. When she'd finished the first task, he was allowed only a few relieved breaths before she removed the arrow in its entirety.

With this he let out a yelp, stifling it as much as he could for fear of some unknown dangers nearby. Then, after a few agonizing moments of his wound screaming throughout the whole of his body in fury, it finally started to subside under the pressure Caliane's hands put upon it. And finally, he let out a sigh of relief.

"Thank you," he whispered.

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Despite the binding above the wound blood still seeped at an alarming rate into the rags which she stuffed at both the point of entry and exit, before wrapping more strips around to hold them both in place. She knew he healed quickly, but Caliane couldn't help but worry and it showed in the way she chewed on her bottom lip. When he offered thanks she glanced up and offered a tiny smile.

"I'm the reason you were shot, I don't think you should be thanking me, hbeeti," she sighed, her shoulders and wings slumping with the action, and gave her makeshift first aid another look over. "We should get you to someone with better medical knowledge, just to be safe. There could have been something in the wood or the metal..." They had been hunters not the vicious wild beasts they had been fighting. That meant there was more intelligence and with it cruelty behind their weapons. She feverishly hoped she was wrong but her mistreatment at the hands of Groundlings still lingered in her mind enough to make her wary.

"Can you stand?"
As robust as an Aeraesarian's physiology was, Caliane was right. It mattered little how quickly he would heal if it served only to seal in some darker, unseen danger. But, in spite of this possible threat, his mind remained anchored on the first words she'd just said.

"I'm the reason you were shot, I don't think you should be thanking me, hbeeti,"

Still, with her inquiry he tried to bring himself to his feet first before saying anything about that. She was always so hard on herself, and he often wondered why. So, if not for his own sake than surely for hers, with all he had in him he brought himself to his feet and managed - just barely - to stand. But it was clear he was in no condition to travel very far, let alone with any sense of haste.

"Yes," he said, managing a meager attempt at a mischevous smile, "thank you."

He took her hand in his again, and took a moment to have a look around from where they stood, which, didn't garner a lot of information. But in his defense, by now, the loss of blood paired with his overall exhaustion made his vision blurry at best.

"Just somewhere safe to rest at least for now my love... I can't travel far like this..."

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Can I get up? Caliane wondered as Erën rose to his. Her muscles shook and screamed in rebellion as she gathered herself and pushed once more to her feet. For a moment she swayed and her vision blurred. Spots of darkness encroached on her vision at the very edges but she forced it back and focused on the feeling of his hand around hers.

"Somewhere safe..." she repeated in agreement. But where? Blinking away the exhaustion and pain she focused once more on their surroundings. The graceless fall she had performed before in order to get them to the Stone in time had damaged her left wing if the pain was anything to go by and she did not dare attempt to take off vertically in order to see which way might provide that shelter.

"There's some... trees that way," she motioned to the west. "Or mountains in that direction," she explained as she looked towards the south. North and East she could see nothing but grasslands and they would surely stick out if they were to set up a camp there.
If Erën thought for one moment he was going to traverse any kind of mountain, he was fooling himself. And he did, for a moment, entertain the thought. But he was quick to dismiss this direction, as he was in no way capable of traveling any kind of difficult terrain, not now. Simply making it to the tree line would be difficult enough, which would provide adequate safety - he hoped.

He turned to the tree line, “that way then, I don’t think either of us will make it much farther than that anyway,” he joked. Kind of.

With a pronounced and difficult limp Erën was able to make his way, albeit with help from Caliane for not quite the majority of the journey. But soon enough they made their way into the woods and nestled themselves into a convenient arrangement of foliage. The cover they were provided would shelter them from view from almost any angle, save the way they’d come. And judging by the remains of a campfire in the center of the little hideaway they'd found, they were hardly the first ones to come through.

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Caliane stood over the ashes of the old fire with two sticks she had found amongst the roots and realised with numbness she didn't know how to conjure flame with just wood and flint. She'd seen people rub them together but she couldn't process how that caused ignition. With a sigh she crouched down and frowned at her tools. She felt a fool for not knowing something so simple and annoyed she had allowed herself to grow so complacent and reliant on her magic.

Out of stubborness she did not ask for Erën's help and instead picked up the piece of flint and stick and began slowly stroking them together. After a few pathetic sparks the motion became far more aggressive until eventually enough of a spark was created that it caught on the bits of leaves and kindling she had piled together. The Avariel sat back with a sigh, strangely exhausted from the ordeal, and then begun to feed other smaller branches to make the flame grow.

"We'll sleep and then tomorrow maybe we can try and go back through the stone to the right place, or Alliria. I know a healer there who could help us..." she trailed off with a yawn.
Erën, with Caliane's help, was settled down as comfortably as possible near to where Caliane worked to spark a flame. She asked not for his help, and nor did he offer it. Truly he mistook her apprehension to begin as a moment of rest before carrying out the task, having preformed it as well as anyone else from what he could tell. He'd have never known she'd only ever used magic to do it. Of course... his vision was blurry and almost spinning a bit - he was probably not the best judge in any regard.

He offered only a contented hum in response to her, enjoying the warmth that slowly crept over him as the fire began to grow. But after a few moments, with a sobering clarity he spoke.

"Arkhivom," he said.

"That was its name, that thing we fought...

that thing you fought.

Caliane... did you kill it?"

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Something very small, something very dim, not quite even befitting the name ember, stirred in the back of Caliane's mind at the mention of the creature causing her to let out a breath. The Soulfire was alive. Faint, tired, pushed to the very edge of its powers, but alive. How strange in the course of a year she would grow from hating the being who shared her body to not being able to think of herself without it.

Rest, she soothed and the flicker slumbered on.

"No," she said out loud and shook her head causing grimy red hair to escape where she had pulled it back behind her ears. "I... We injured it though. Badly," that was the only thing she was sure about. "If I had been a little bit stronger..." she stared at her hands with a sorrowful expression. It was hard not to feel as though she had failed.

"I'm sorry Erën."
With as much comfort as he could muster, he reached out to place his hand upon hers, saying, "Caliane, you did your best... no one can expect anything more."

Besides, it went without saying had Erën stood his ground as she had, he'd have undoubtedly died during the attempt. She at least walked away from the ordeal and for this, he was grateful. Anything more was only an added blessing. But it did bring him to wonder, if even she had fallen short of ending this creature, what would it take? He hid the sense of worry this question carried, and instead lingered on the fact they had all of them made it out alive... albeit in one form or another.

He looked into the fire, saying, "when the time comes, we will prevail."

There was simply no other choice.

Melysius took in two strong sniffs, catching a scent on the wind. Among those of his herd, he had a particularly strong sense of smell, often detecting trouble or prey before the others.

"Elf," he spat, scraping one of his hooves against the grassland beneath him. He took in a third breath, wriggling his nose some, saying, "and something else."

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Caliane had nothing to say in response to her loves kind words. She should have felt something. Comfort, a sense of ease, but she just felt numb with the certainty that failing here now meant the future they had all seen would come to pass. With a quiet sigh she scooted across the grass until her side pressed against his and then laid herself down facing him so that her wings did not get in the way; she did not think once sleep claimed her she would be able to move them till she awoke.

"We both need sleep, we'll make a plan tomorrow," a plan for everything.

It was in the darkest moment of the night, that which came just before dawn, that Melysius and the rest of his tribe crested the horizon and spotted the plume of smoke rising above the trees not far away.

"Do we take them alive?" Damothee asked, gently fingering the feathers of her arrows which sat in a quiver at her hip. Her hair was braided like that of a warrior with a tiny collection of bells that signified each of her victories in battle. They had been plugged for this so they did not alert their prey, though he knew she liked it when they gave her a reason to give chase.

"Elves fetch a pretty price, there's not many that wander this way often," he reminded her with a smile which grew when she sulked. "Onwards," he commanded and the tribe crept closer.
Elves fetch a pretty price...

He sat alone with his knees pulled to his chest. And around him were the closed doors of those places he had made in his mind, those holds and those walls and those gates. Every piece of him was protected from something that was no longer there, but the absence had made room for something else, and this he was proud to carry for a time. Though he refused to open himself, not yet.

He was still far too wounded. Too broken. He could not risk passing this over.

So instead he remained alone, and in the quiet the distant words reached his mind likes lyric hidden beneath water.

Elves fetch a pretty price...

His eyes shot open, and though he was urged to move quickly, he remained silent instead, casting a slow look around their convenient camp. Caliane still rested peacefully, but he was not willing to dare that the thought that had crossed his mind was some wayward one of his own. No. Though he'd worked hard to control his telepathy which had become wayward since his severance, it still eluded his control on occasion. He believed this to be such a time, and he believed that they were in danger.

Still far from recovered, he fought past the aching of his flesh and began to sit up, whispering, "Caliane, wake up!"

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