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Tarashan
Tarashan
Posts: 15
Joined: March 24th, 2014, 2:28 pm
Tarashan

Re: A Rising Disquiet ((Open RP))

Postby Tarashan » October 23rd, 2014, 11:00 pm

“You do not know Aerana as I do. I have seen her stressed. That was not it.”

Tarashan stared at Donnelly Keithson as he spoke, eyeing the man up and down. He looked older than the last time she had seen him. They had been speaking for nearly half an hour now, each of them dancing around the other, trading barbs and insults, point and counterpoint. He had maintained that he just wanted to help the Empress. Tarashan had found that idea difficult to believe.

“You're right. I don't. But ever since that meeting in Darnassus, when Rhork stepped forward to ask to be a Guardian, when he revealed them, I have spent a great deal of time in her presence, and I have seen none of these so-called symptoms.”

“Oh?” Tarashan watched him closely. His tone had changed. Cocky. As if he knew something she didn’t. “Did you know that one of your cohorts reported Aerana has been showing signs?” The old paladin winked at her as she spoke. “Guess you don’t know her well at all, do you?”

She had to struggle to keep her emotions from showing as the paladin spoke. Outwardly she was calm and still. Inwardly her anger flashed hot and dangerous. Everywhere they turned… even those the Empress had trusted with her life… a traitor in their midst.

“It would seem,” she said slowly, carefully, keeping her voice low and her tone measured, “I don’t know my fellow Guardians as well as I thought.”

She had heard very little after that. They had spoken for several more minutes, trading more barbs, a message from Donnelly to pass to the Empress. Tarashan’s head was roaring, Donnelly’s sentence running through her head over and over.

Did you know that one of your cohorts reported Aerana has been showing signs?

Who had talked? Myaka had not left the Empress’ side that Tarashan could remember. Ezraeil was bound to Aerana in some way that granted her seemingly complete control over him. That left one possibility.

She and Donnelly had parted, both swearing to follow their duties, she to the Empress, Donnelly to the Empire. “Well,” she had said as she walked away from Donnelly, “we all have our own ideas of what duty is, don’t we?” As she walked out from the Ironforge Library and headed towards the Commons her mind drifted back to the meeting they had held in the Twilight Highlands just a few hours past.

“This isn’t one of your warfront marathons you like to go off and do. Fatigue will get to you from lack of sleep. Take a knee for a few days. Help these two find a place, and stir things up with the Empire. You would be better suited than I in the latter. I’m not the most sociable person.”

It was after the meeting had ended, when Tarashan, Dracila, and Myaka had remained in the underground meeting chamber. Dracila had approached Myaka, seeming concerned that she was not sleeping, that she was going to grow fatigued and make a mistake.

“We’ve decided to stop running,” the warrior had replied. “Rest will come. If Empress Dantay wishes me to help in that I will, but there is no reason to switch what I do without that.”

“Guardian Winterborne is the best known of all of us,” Tarashan had said quietly from the corner where she leaned on the wall, flames dancing and jumping around her fingers as she idly toyed with the fire in the brazier beside her. “And one many associate with the unrest in the Empire. Her presence is best kept at the Empress’ side.”

“And have you also forgotten we were supposed to take shifts in this duty?” Dracila had responded. “Originally we did it to keep our duty hidden, but it also allowed for rest. Whether we are in one place or on the run I see no reason to change that setup.” She had turned to look at Tarashan then. “I don’t remember asking you. But that could also improve our image. You’ve noticed yourself that they always point out her absence.”

Tarashan shrugged off the remark. “They ask who guards the Empress, not ‘where is Guardian Winterborne?’”

“I rest now,” Myaka had said quietly. “So it is not a problem in that respect. It sounds as if it is more akin to what Guardian Flamewind says.”

Dracila had lost her smile then, her jaw clenching. “Hardly forgettable. But a stubborn fool it would seem. I’ll leave you to it then, Winterborne.”

And Dracila had stalked out of the room, her heavy plate armor clanking as she moved out from the underground chamber.


Tarashan hadn’t followed up on the remarks, being called away by Ezraeil and becoming involved in a discussion over traps and wards. But now, looking back…

Did you know that one of your cohorts reported Aerana has been showing signs?

Her words had seemed kind, as if she cared about Myaka and her rest. But looking back… she had spoken like a Senator. Like all the Senators that night a month and a half ago, when they had confronted the Empress after Rhork had revealed the Guardians. Are you okay? We just want to know you’re alright. We thought we had an agreement on the Guardians.

Tarashan’s hand shot down to the pouch at her belt that contained the small green stone that connected the Guardians. She touched the stone, reaching out, searching for one in particular.

“Empress. We need to talk.”

Zakarnas
Zakarnas
Posts: 5
Joined: March 30th, 2014, 7:17 pm
Zakarnas

Re: A Rising Disquiet ((Open RP))

Postby Zakarnas » October 24th, 2014, 4:33 pm

He paced back and forth just outside the small stables, wearing down a worn track in the already dismal grass. His often placid expression contained a mixture of malignant emotions, few of which he cared to share with others. Sweat gathered on his brow, despite the cooling temperatures of the season. He had too many things happening in his life for this to begin anew. He could have sworn that he had ended it years ago. Had he not been able to resist the temptation of excess for so long? How did it sneak up on him like this again?

Zak glanced to the giraffe which rested outside the stables, small-framed for her age. She watched him, large brown eyes wide and filled with concern for her caretaker. He found himself unable to look away for a moment, but soon after he scoffed. You’re being inane. There’s no deeper meaning in the giraffe’s look. He shook his head, glancing to the rear door of the house. Looking away, he began to pace again.

The Empress had put her faith in him. She trusted him, both to lead the Royal Guard and to serve as her Guardian. She had entrusted the secrecy of the situation to him, knowing that she defied the Senate’s will. He had known he was doing the same when he swore Myaka and Dracila in as Guardians. Each night spent amidst the Guardian quarters of Aerana’s house, he had internally wondered why this was such a bad thing in the Senate’s view.

They had done no harm. They had done nothing wrong. They were merely protecting someone of high influence and visibility. Did not nobles and diplomats often travel amidst protection? It would be foolish for them to not. For those who did not want peace, taking out the founder of the Vision could be as simple as a meeting under the pretext of diplomacy. A single sniper, a single hidden assassin, or one of any countless number of underhanded scenarios, and it would be done. Typical soldiers did not possess the sort of specialized training to prevent this, and he could not have let that happen.

But how do you protect someone from herself? How do you tell someone that you are worried about the very thing that they have sought to dispel as a malicious rumor? He thought back to the oaths he had taken twice, prior to his own secret incarnation of the Royal Guard, first under Spracket Bronzeratchet, then under Alistaire Viciora. Then his mind fell to the oaths that he had personally watched the two Guardians under his command pledge.

“Do you swear to serve the founder of our Vision, to protect her from any and all threats, even if it costs you your life? Do you swear, on your honor, a vow of secrecy for private conversations that your station allows you to witness? If so, then you may stand as a Royal Guardian of the Empress.”

Neither of them had hesitated. Both knew the price, and were willing to pay with their lives if they had to. All for the Vision. But how had they interpreted that oath? Was protecting her from herself a betrayal of those vows, or was it the utmost upholding of such?

And then there was the problem of the military. He had dragged Kate into this, too, merely by his station as second-in-command, and by his relationship with her. He had explained everything to those who had been willing and able to listen. There were still a few who seemed to view him as traitorous. Hell, even the Senators he spoke with understood and seemed to hold naught against him. If the very group whose authority had been crossed could respect and forgive him, what right did anyone else have to think they knew better?

But that was just it. He knew that, like the Empress had trusted him to lead the Royal Guard, his soldiers had trusted him to lead the military in interim of Kate’s absence. They had trusted him to act in the best interests of the Empire as a whole, and they saw his acting in the interest of the Empress, against the Senators, as a betrayal of that trust.

The truth was that the last few weeks had been a balancing act. He strove to make everyone happy, to fulfill his duty to everyone. It hadn’t turned out like that, and in fact it seemed no one was happy. And the vision he had held for a restoration of the Royal Guard was besmirched by the fact that “Guardian” was fast becoming a taboo word. This was only enhanced by the fact that two soldiers had defected to serve the Empress in a fashion that appeared to their comrades as insubordination and betrayal.

In Captain Ronae’Serrar’s eyes – as both Captain of the Royal Guard and Captain of the Military – those two were in fact betraying vows. They had never been sworn in to the Royal Guard. He truthfully did not trust them to behave in a fashion befitting the Royal Guard, and he would not have vouched for them as Guardians. They had only been sworn into the Military, and they had betrayed those oaths without the official override of the Guardian’s oaths.

Zak had tried his best to make the Royal Guard as official as it could possibly be within the private constraints it had been forced to operate in, and now it seemed like more of a circus than anything. It was supposed to be a respectable establishment, and Guardians were supposed to hold certain qualities. He knew Dracila and Myaka could have handled the Empress’s care on their own, as they had for about two years; but now they had new, untrained people to contend with.

At the very core of everything, he worried. Gnawing anxiety ate away at him constantly. He could not betray Aerana’s trust in him, but neither would he be able to do much to help now.

Before he was aware of it, Zakarnas was rudely shaken out of his thoughts by the fact that he was back in the house, with a large bottle of liquor open and half consumed.

It’s happening again.

Huli Jing
Huli Jing
Posts: 8
Joined: September 28th, 2014, 1:34 pm
Huli Jing

Re: A Rising Disquiet ((Open RP))

Postby Huli Jing » October 28th, 2014, 11:19 am

Huli stood looking into the inn room with all his gear packed. He had enjoyed his stay at the Golden Keg. He had said his goodbye sadly to the little Dwarven innkeeper with promises to stay in touch. His mind wandered back the the last meeting. His attempt at trying to reunite the empire had failed. Both the Empress and the Senate had failed to return his request let alone show up.

Was their fear so great? What force keep these two factions from resolving their differences? Huli had realized he was no diplomat. Humanoids were so much more difficult to understand. Unlike beasts whose simple desires and passions were plain, the humanoid made a practice to manipulate and deceive. Beasts, he understood. From that point he had washed his paws of it. “Time to be what you are old one” he chided himself. “ A beast master and tinkerer”. He finished softly

Not all of his time over the last days had been spent on researching the structure of the empire. He had researched reports and adventures in order to understand the people of the empire. He had also been to the new war front to help and see the threat the spirits had told him about. He had seen first hand the brutality of this new foe. Yet something seemed familiar about their technology. He had gathered some of the wrecked gear to make a preliminary analysis. He would have to study it more.

He had asked the Captain for the use of a soldier. It was apparently one of the formalities of the Empire to provide protection for plebeians and citizens in a war zone. Though he knew he would not really need help, it would be a good chance to get to know Soldier Tayissa Steel. Humans were the most fascinating of races. Perhaps with more interactions he could understand the strange customs of his new family.

He also needed to secure some undamaged samples from the war front to make sure his suspicions were correct. He had contacted the old Goblin engineer he had met in his first travels abroad from the Isle. He had agreed, for a costly price, to set up a small shop for him in Ratchet. There, he could come to understand the technology better. If he could use it to safely breach the gate and go in search of the missing Diplomat ,then that is what he would do. Perhaps he could not save the whole of the empire but perhaps just one.

Aerana
Aerana
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Posts: 89
Joined: March 20th, 2014, 4:52 pm
Aerana

Re: A Rising Disquiet ((Open RP))

Postby Aerana » November 3rd, 2014, 1:18 pm

(( This all takes place approximately a week ago. ))

This book details the evolving condition of a woman under the care of the Brothers of Northshire Abbey.


Aerana’s eyes had not moved from that innocuous opening statement for some time now. She sat at a plain wooden desk in a small stone room, reading by the light of a nearby candle. Her finger traced the words slowly as she read them yet again, lingering over the last few words of the opening sentence.

Myaka stood nearby, armored and silent as Aerana poured over the book. The Guardian refused to sit down despite the passing of the hours and the security of the warded and hidden room; Myaka’s brown eyes constantly roamed the stone walls and the wooden door, searching for any threats to her bookish charge. Occasionally, the warrior’s eyes would glance towards Aerana, noting the Empress’ expression and movements. Myaka, well accustomed to Aerana’s studious habits by now, showed no sign of wanting to interrupt Aerana’s distant thoughts.

For her part, Aerana hardly noticed the passage of time as she internalized the details of the book. She stared at the words of the journal thoughtfully, occasionally reaching down to turn a page.

So far, little Aer has not been a target of this paranoia. Instead, the Patient seems to fixate on the child, worrying for little Aer's safety.


Aerana kept her features impassive as she reread the words. Hesitating only slightly, she reached down to slowly turn the page.

Symptoms and Progression- Lack of Sleep:

Patient has not been sleeping. She continually finds "more important" things to do. Lack of sleep is leading to declining health and cognitive function, including decision-making and problem-solving abilities.

During any sleep that is managed, Patient appears to have multiple nightmares and does not sleep for long periods of times. Nights are restless. Little Aer reports that her mother wakes up crying or screaming often.


Aerana reached forward turn the page but her hand stopped on its own accord, hovering over the entry.

The terrified cry rang through the small home.

Aerana sat up quickly, throwing the heavy blanket off her body as she rushed to her mother’s side. Over the years, the nightmares and episodes had gotten worse; being awoken in the middle of the night was nothing new. The Brothers had offered to allow Aerana to sleep in an alcove at the Abbey, but the solemn child had politely declined. She would be sent off to study in a few months and did not want to leave her mother alone until then.

“Mother,” the child whispered hurriedly, reaching for the woman who writhed on the bed. Her mother’s features twisted in terror. "No! Don't touch me! You're trying to read my mind!" the woman screamed before recognition flickered in her weary eyes.

"Oh Aer!" she cried and reached desperately for her daughter, tears still trickling down her cheeks as the night terrors continued to torment her.

Aerana’s small hands gripped her mother’s shoulders, drawing the woman close to her. “Calm yourself, mother,” the child murmured, smoothing her mother’s mussed hair.

“They’re coming, Aer,” her mother said as she trembled. “They’re coming for you and for me. Hurry! We’ve got to block the door. And look in the vegetables – they’re not really vegetables. They’re tracking us, trying to figure out where we are.”

“The door is already blocked, mother,” Aerana reminded the woman patiently. “You had me move the table there last night.” Aerana looked past her mother’s shoulder, towards the pile of chopped vegetables that sat on the counter. Her mother remained convinced of some sort of conspiracy involving the vegetables, no matter how finely Aerana chopped the Brothers’ gracious gifts from the garden. “And I’ve looked through the vegetables already,” Aerana added tiredly. “See? They’re chopped up so you can see through them.”

“Do it again, Aer,” her mother pleaded. “Please? Just to be sure.”

Aerana’s solemn expression look strange on her childlike features. The child nodded, giving her mother’s shoulder a gentle squeeze. “Yes, mother.”


The vivid memories were interrupted by Tarashan Flamewind’s voice, speaking firmly but quietly over the nearby stone.

“Empress. We need to talk.”

*****

She lowered her head, staring down at the stream below as it wound its way through the towering hills. The crashing water of the waterfall nearby was echoed by the roaring in her ears. Despite the coolness of the evening air, heat pricked across her skin, fanned by the flames of fury that whipped through her veins, igniting her senses. The Guardians — Tarashan, Myaka, and Ezraeil — shifted uneasily in the ensuing silence, unaccustomed to seeing the fury that blazed in Aerana’s eyes. They watched her carefully, all of them treading lightly around the sharp fragility of their pale Empress. Her words, whatever she spoke to them, seemed to come from somewhere else, another part of her mind.

Most of her mind roared in concert with the thundering falls nearby.

Betrayal.

Not just any act of betrayal.

Betrayal by a Guardian. Sharing information about her with -them-.


The thoughts echoed through her mind, crashing against the inside of her skull as she struggled to surface long enough to draw breath amid the turbulent storm of emotions evoked.

With each breath, Aerana callously suppressed the pain, burying it within her. The cold rage, ruthlessly controlled and reigned in, allowed her the clarity of mind necessary to consider her next steps. But as the sudden onslaught of fury subsided, another lone thought surfaced.

“It was inevitable.”

Aerana closed her eyes, struggling to keep her visage impassive and neutral as her remaining Guardians stood around her. Far below, she knew, the river continued its perpetual meandering through the ever-changing landscape. Black claws of despair dug deep against her chest, scraping downward and tearing her insides no matter how hard she tried to focus on the peacefulness of the river. The maw of emotion threatened to overwhelm her, to consume her. Her stomach clenched and her jaw tightened, as she willed away the desire to simply allow her knees to give way so that she might collapse.

She had lost everything. Even those who had ostensibly sworn themselves to her whispered in the ears of the Senate, seeking to undermine her leadership. Aerana’s hand reached upward slowly, feeling nothing but her bare collarbone where her guild stone should have been. She pressed her lips together, repressing the urge to cry out at its absence.

Without warning Ezraeil reached out to place his hand gently on her shoulder, causing her to immediately tense. “We’ll stand by you,” he affirmed lowly as Aerana turned to look at him. From the strange stone, hidden in the satchel at her side, Aerana felt a wave of sincerity and concern.

Beside her, Myaka whispered softly. “I’ll be your anchor, Aerana.”

And behind her, Tarashan spoke quietly but firmly. “No matter what, you will always be our Empress.”

*****

She watched Tarashan turn to leave the small group, struggling to keep her expression impassive.

Cold. Clear. Pristine. Smooth.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

She needed to contain herself, control the anger and other emotions, or she would lose the ability to think, to plan, to figure out what came next.

Ezraeil similarly took his leave, limping away shortly after Tarashan departed. Aerana watched him go, her expression a mask. She could still feel where he had stepped forward, placing his hand comfortingly on her shoulder.

At the time, she had been shocked, her body immediately tensing at the feel of another’s touch.

But now, she knew why Ezraeil had felt it necessary to reach out, to ground her and provide that small measure of comfort.

“The matter we spoke of last night and the question you asked,” he had stated, leaning on his staff, “the answer is now yes.” The statement was simple. The implications were not.

The mutuality of transference.

Steps would have to be taken to prevent such from occurring in the future. She had apologized for the burden of her emotions, understanding immediately why Ezraeil had appeared suddenly on the lone hill above Stormwind and acted as he had throughout the ensuing conversation.

Aerana turned away from the rooftops of Stormwind and looked at the warrior by her side. “Come, Myaka,” Aerana said softly, her voice sounding distant and cold even to herself. She lifted her hands, weaving her fingers as she murmured the soft spell that would create a portal. Arcane energy danced between her pale fingers before drawing together to create the rift through space.

Without another word, Aerana and Myaka stepped through the portal and disappeared, but not before Aerana’s gaze briefly turned southward, toward Northshire Abbey.
"It is all a balance."
~Aerana Dantay, Empress of the Twilight Empire~

Aerana
Aerana
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Posts: 89
Joined: March 20th, 2014, 4:52 pm
Aerana

Re: A Rising Disquiet ((Open RP))

Postby Aerana » November 7th, 2014, 7:02 pm

The gryphon crouched low to the ground before surging upwards, its wings beating steadily to carry her into the evening sky. Aerana turned her head, watching as her Guardians - all of them - arranged themselves in a formation around her. Her hood billowed as the cool air swirled around her and she tightened her grip on the reins. To the south, just above the forest's canopy, she could see the telltale spire of Northshire Abbey.

The intervening week since her last meeting in Stormwind had given her the time and space necessary to control her feelings of anger and betrayal; indeed, the hours in thought had provided perspective and insight to analyze the situation in various ways. Stress and anxiety, largely brought on by worries over the Empire and the Senate’s ostensible ‘treatments’ for her, had made sleeping difficult so she had spent the extra time awake writing down her thought processes.

As Ezraeil had recently pointed out to her, it was entirely likely that Donnelly had smugly touted his 'informant' simply to cause division within the ranks of those who still stood by her side. After all, she was well aware that such tactics would be employed where benefit could be derived from unrest. And if anything, Donnelly was a tactician. Beyond Donnelly’s words, the Guardians had no concrete evidence that word of their movements and observations were being leaked to the Senate. Without more, there was no reason to act, to diminish their already small numbers.

"Regardless," Aerana had said after Ezraeil had fallen silent, "we must be cautious and aware that it is possible that our words may not be kept in perfect confidence." She glanced at Myaka and Ezraeil and then lifted her head, watching as the two shadowed forms of Tarashan and Dracila drew closer on the horizon. "I shall trust that you both will be wary so that, should Donnelly’s alleged perfidy prove true, she cannot alert others as to our intended destination. We must see to this matter first before we can refute the Senate’s attempts to tear the Empire away and I do not wish for them to thwart these efforts."

Aerana kept her gaze forward, her jaw tightening slightly. Slowly, the familiar sight of the Abbey’s walls came into view. And within those walls, the Brothers who would show conclusively that the Senate’s words were naught but lies.

The medical journal that the Senate flaunted as the foundation for their actions was a matter that all of the Guardians agreed must be addressed. It was the Senate’s sole piece of ‘concrete’ evidence, used to bolster their precarious position of power. It seemed that the Empire had taken the Senate’s words as truth without bothering to substantiate or authenticate the book. Indeed, the book was disseminated and used to sway Empire with impunity, to justify the Senate’s actions. If Aerana hoped to refute the Senate’s malicious allegations, the Guardians noted, she would need to find a way to show, conclusively, that the journal was a forgery.

Aerana Dantay had grown up on the Abbey’s grounds and knew well the peaceful Brothers who resided within its walls. She would speak with them, sharing the import of the Senate’s misrepresentations.

Surely the Brothers' words would help reveal the Senate's lies.

******

The quietude of the Abbey was not as oppressive as some silences are — not for Aerana, at least. She found the hushed voices and muffled footsteps comforting, providing a welcome undertone of serenity and nostalgia to her otherwise unsettled and anxious mind. Fond memories of reading in this little alcove or browsing through that large bookshelf came to the forefront as she walked, causing her footfalls to slow as she made her way through library. The Abbey was, in her mind, a place of light amid some of the darker memories of her childhood: where she had first lost herself among the joyful words and theories of books, where she had happily traded simple theories with Brother Neal, and where she had smiled with childlike pride at the praise she received her studious habits.

Too soon, her steps brought her to her intended destination. It was just as familiar as the rest of the Abbey, if not more so. Myaka stood behind her, waiting in respectful silence as Aerana raised her hand to knock on the wooden door to Brother Neal Newton’s office. Aerana paused, remembering how she had knocked as a child with unabashed excitement at the prospect of discussing her latest reading with Brother Neal. Now, however, her knock was more measured and steady.

“Come in, come in,” came the reply from within the small study.

Aerana opened the door and entered, with Myaka following and closing the door behind them. Tarashan and Dracila had been posted near the entrance of the Abbey, while Ezraeil had been posted near the entrance to the library wing. She did not anticipate that they would remain at the Abbey for long; regardless, she felt it necessary to have all of her Guardians nearby should something unexpected occur. These were troublesome times.

The little room was just as she remembered, although the piles of books had grown larger over the years. She had sat in this very office as a child, listening with rapt fascination as Brother Neal regaled her with stories and allegories of the Light, its blessings, and its followers. Her eyes were drawn to the piles of books next to the desk and she wondered briefly if some of her favorites were among their number. Despite the brief musing, her attention focused almost immediately on the sole occupant of the study.

The years had been kind to Brother Neal, although the passage of time had certainly left its mark on the elderly priest’s face. His skin was lined between his brows (a mark of his studious habits) and at the edges of his eyes (a mark of his jovial nature). Wisps of white hair stuck out erratically and Aerana was momentarily reminded of the younger man with similarly erratic brown hair, wandering back and forth between the garden and the Abbey, humming all the while.

Brother Neal looked up from his desk to smile warmly at whoever had come to visit him. “Light be with you,” he said kindly before blinking his owlish eyes. “Oh my, little Aer! Welcome, welcome,” he added upon recognizing her, hurrying to stand up from his cluttered desk. “I haven’t seen you in so long!” He shuffled towards her, holding his arms outward to embrace her.

Aerana inclined her head graciously, tensing only slightly as the elderly man hugged her. “Brother Neal,” she greeted with warm formality. “It has indeed been some time,” she agreed, lifting her head to regard the man. He smiled affectionately.

“Come, sit down,” the priest invited, motioning away from the desk and towards the worn but sturdy wooden bench near the adjacent wall. Aerana nodded and moved towards the nearby bench at the Brother’s solicitous urging. It had been one of her favorite places to curl up with a good book when she was younger.

“I fear that my presence is not merely to reminisce of the past nor enjoy the stories that were once told in this room,” Aerana murmured as she sat down. “More solemn matters bring me here this day, Brother Neal.”

“Is this about what that little fellow came by to talk about?” the priest asked. “I’ve been worried about you since then. Are you alright? You look tired, child,” he added, eyeing her judiciously.

Aerana twitched involuntarily at the mention of the ‘little fellow’ and pressed her lips together. “I am sleeping as well as one might,” she answered politely, dipping her head to acknowledge his concern.

Brother Neal chuckled quietly as he looked down at her. “Oh, I recognize that look, even if you’re older now,” he said, gesturing towards her face. “Come now, what’s bothering you, child?”

Aerana returned his look, her features smoothed to impassivity. “I fear the one whom you speak of is Tinox Smartgear, Brother. And I believe that he took more from your visit than you might have intended.” Aerana frowned now and tried not to press her lips together in a flicker of displeasure.

“Now what do you mean, Aer?” the priest asked, finally lowering himself to sit next to her on the worn, wooden bench. “Was the journal not helpful?” His look was full of worry.

Aerana blinked once in surprise, and then again, clearly caught off guard by the priest’s question and the mention of the book. “You gave him a journal? The Abbey truly kept such a record, Brother?”

“Oh yes, of course we did,” Brother Neal responded as he scooted some books to the end of the bench to make more room next to him. “The journal chronicled what we could gather of your mother’s illness. It stymied our best healers, as you know. And little fellow looked worried about you, I daresay. When your friend--”

“He’s not my friend,” Aerana interrupted firmly.

Brother Neal stopped talking abruptly and gave her a troubled look, his eyes searching her features. “I apologize,” he said, after taking a moment to regard her. “When your colleague came to speak with me, I didn’t know what else might help. He seemed genuinely concerned…It was a concern I remember. Your mother’s case was the same, for all of us, Aer,” the Brother reminded her gently. He frowned a little. “Did the journal trouble you? I didn’t mean for it to. I thought it might help you think about things differently.”

Aerana turned her head slowly towards the man. Little motes of dust swirled around his head, illuminated by the last rays of sunlight streaming through the westward facing window. It gave him a strange, glowing appearance — like a shadow surrounding by a halo of light. “It matters not that such a journal actually existed,” she said after a time, her voice low as if speaking to herself. “I am certain that matters within were exaggerated – a mere seed of truth to give shaky foundation to a tree of lies for the Senate’s benefit.”

Brother Neal’s troubled look deepened as he listened to her words. “I don’t know anything about your ‘Senate’ or what they’re doing, Aer. But you look very pale,” he said carefully, gesturing towards her face. “And like you haven't been sleeping. Child, just look at those dark circles under your eyes,” he added, shaking his head sympathetically.

“She hasn’t been doing well, Aer,” the Brother had warned her quietly as they made their way to the wooden door. “You can’t blame yourself though; she would never have wanted you to delay your studies, not really. You know that, right?” He gave her an encouraging look.

Aerana nodded slowly. “I thank you for your words,” she murmured in response, offering the priest a kind smile. She reached a hand out to knock on the door but before she could knock, the door swung open wide.

The change in her mother’s appearance was startlingly dramatic — even with the Brother’s warning. Her chestnut hair, which was once combed almost religiously, was mussed and clung together, unwashed. Her mother’s face was wan and pallid as she stared at her daughter. The dark circles under her eyes almost looked like bruises against the pale skin.

Aerana blinked and the Brother put his hand on her shoulder, giving it a kind squeeze.

Recovering quickly from the flicker of shock and concern, Aerana offered her mother a small smile to hide her heartbreak. “Mother,” she said in greeting. “I’m sorry it has been so long.”


Aerana shook her head, dispelling either the memory or Brother Neal’s concerns. She pulled free the copy of the medical journal that Ezraeil had recently given her and held it out to Brother Neal. “Is this the journal?” she asked quietly, her focus on the matter at hand.

The priest carefully took the journal and opened it, perusing its pages for a short period of time before nodding. “Yes. The handwriting is different than mine but the substance is the same,” he affirmed. He looked up from the words, eyeing Aerana curiously. “Come now, child, why do you shake your head like that?”

“There must be some mistake,” Aerana replied disbelievingly though she tried to keep her tone steady. She motioned to the journal and ignored his other question. “They used the words within to undermine my leadership, Brother,” Aerana added, a note of pleading entering her tone as she willed him to understand. “They use it to sway other against me and to justify their actions.”

“Did they now?” He asked, frowning again as he hummed, looking down to the words of the journal. “I told him it was an illness. Such things must be dealt with delicately.”

“They’ve done nothing but plot and whisper at every turn, acting surreptitiously in clandestine meetings and trying to pull me from my position,” Aerana explained, lowering her head to stare fixedly at the journal. She missed the priest’s sudden startled look at her words.

“Now, now, Aer,” he interrupted kindly before she had the chance to take a breath and continue her explanation. The Brother put a gentle hand on Aerana’s shoulder, ignoring her habitual flinch at being touched. He gave her shoulder a gentle squeeze. “Remember the vegetables?” he asked, softly but firmly. He stared at her, watching closely for a reaction.

“I don’t understand, mother,” the child said plaintively, eyeing the pile of food with a hunger and longing more common to a child pining for sweets. She was tired of their nightly meal of bread. Plus, Brother Neal had brought the basket by that morning despite the ongoing futility of the delivery.

Her mother patted her head. “I know you don’t understand, Aer, but it’s the truth. You have to trust me; all the signs are there.”

“But I watched Brother Neal pick them from the garden this morning. He didn’t do anything to them, I promise,” Aerana rationalized.

Her mother took the basket from Aerana’s hands and carried it away to the counter. “No, no. You tried to watch but you’re just a child. You wouldn’t have seen it. But they keep trying…”


Aerana’s eyes widened and she shook her head again. “This is different; there are no similarities,” she said, not looking at Brother Neal as she refuted his implication. “Political machinations are not to be underestimated nor can any comparison be drawn to that from my past.” She moved her hands to her lap, fidgeting with her fingers.

A soft smile came to Brother Neal’s lips at the sight. “You used to do that when you were younger too,” the elderly man noted kindly, setting his hand atop hers. She could feel the warmth from his skin seep into her chilled fingertips.

She was staring at the floor, fidgeting uncomfortably.

“My mother said we don’t need any more food from th-the… Abbey, Brother,” she explained quietly, not elaborating on exactly what her mother had called the Abbey.

Brother Neal’s eyes softened and he leaned forward with a smile. He never seemed upset that the vegetables went uneaten; it bothered Aerana more than it did him. “Don’t be sad, little Aer. You didn’t do anything wrong. Your mom is just a little confused right now. I’ve got a new idea. Maybe you can plant your own garden, so that she can see it and be comforted knowing that there’s nothing wrong with the vegetables grown there. How’s that sound?”

Aerana looked up, her little blue eyes shining. “Do you think that will work, Brother Neal?” she asked hopefully.

He smiled. “I don’t know if it will work. But we can try, right? We can always try, little Aer.”


“Empress,” came Tarashan’s voice over the stone that Aerana wore around her wrist. “Smartgear and Larmont are here.” Aerana, however, did not respond to the report nor did she give any sign that she had even heard Tarashan’s voice. “The vegetables,” she repeated quietly, looking away from the priest next to her. She blinked slowly, her hands tightening unconsciously around his. She stared, eyes glossed over, at the pile of books on the desk against the wall.

“Mother, you are the one who does not understand,” Aerana tried to explain, not for the first time. She had rehearsed the speech several times that day in preparation for this moment. She held up the basket proudly, displaying the neatly stacked carrots, potatoes, and peas. “There are no conspiracies to monitor your thoughts through the vegetables. They’re planted as little seeds and then they grow in the ground, watered before being picked — with my own hands. The Brothers did not touch them, I promise. You watched me as I tended the garden. You know.”

Her mother, thinner now than she had been months before, shook her head sadly. “No, Aer. You say that but you can’t know. They could have come in the dark, slinking around while you slept. They want to know where we are…where we are…” Her mother’s voice trailed off and her eyes flicked away from Aerana and then back to the child. It was a tic that Aerana had grown accustomed to.

“They know where we are, Mother,” Aerana replied reasonably, not commenting on her mother’s nervous tic. “We have lived here for years now. The Brothers visit often. They have nothing to gain from using the vegetables that way.”

“No, not them,” her mother said, shaking her head. She reached out to take the basket away from Aerana. “The others. The Horde. They're watching, you know.”

Aerana’s grip tightened around the basket. “There are no others,” she said, her lips pressing together with childlike frustration at the invisible fears that terrorized her mother but that Aerana herself could never see. “Let me keep the vegetables. I can make them into a stew. I know how to do that — we’ll just put them into the pot. We can do that, right?” The question was almost a plea as Aerana looked up. Then you can make stews of your own when I --”

“No, we’ve still got some bread and dried meat. No need for that,” her mother disagreed. “Give them here and I’ll check them. Now, Aerana!” her mother said, raising her voice when Aerana did not let go of the basket.


Shoulders hunched now, Aerana’s eyes brightened with unshed tears at the torrent of memories and realizations that flooded her mind. After a moment, the liquid spilled over, sliding down her cheeks. Brother Neal raised his hand to wipe away the tears when it became apparent that Aerana would not. “Oh, Aer,” he said softly, drawing her into a hug. He patted her back. “Shh, shh, it’s alright.”

He had opened the door before she had knocked, looking down at her in obvious surprise at the late hour. Before she could say anything or explain, Aerana started to cry.

“Oh child,” he said, drawing her close as the tears flowed freely from her eyes. “Come here now, there’s no need to cry. Shh, shh. Did your mother have another nightmare? Did she not like the vegetables?”

Aerana sniffled as she was drawn into the hug. “I don’t know how to make her understand, B-Brother Neal,” she said between the sobs. “I’ve tried it all! I have, really!”

“Sometimes people just don’t understand things, no matter how much you try to talk about it and work through it, Aer,” he said soothingly, patting her back. “But that doesn’t mean we give up. Your mom’s just sick now; we can’t blame her for that. We’ll just do the best we can, right? Remember the little parable we read yesterday?” he asked with a small smile.

She nodded, still trying to swallow back the tears. “Y-Yeah. But--”

“No, no,” he interrupted quietly. “No buts, little Aer. If you care about her – and I know you do – you’ll remember that. You’re going to be alright, I promise.” He hugged her again, wiping the tears away with a smile. “And I promise that we’ll take care of your mother, when you go off to study. I promise.”


She remembered his arms, which had seemed so unbelievably strong when she was younger. Now his limbs were frailer and thinner. But his hug, as he wrapped his arms around her, was just as comforting as the hug in her memories. She bowed her head against his shoulder.

“Am I…” her voice was nothing more than a muffled whisper against his shoulder. “Oh Light, am I…?”

The nightmares that made true rest impossible. The maliciously observant whispers that no one else acknowledged. The shadows that no one else seemed to see. The constant fear…

“They’re planning, Guardian. They’re watching…” Aerana remembered saying, speaking of the Senate.

“They’re planning, Aer. They’re watching…” Aerana’s mother had murmured fearfully of the Horde.

...

“They will use whatever means they have at their disposal to follow us,” Aerana had noted, unclasping her guild stone and pressing it into the elemental that stood by her side. She motioned for her Guardians to do the same.

“They will use things you wouldn’t recognize, Aer, to find us. They’re always searching, you know,” her mother had warned her, motioning for Aerana to bring the squash to her.

...

“There is little rest to be sought in these days, for there are matters that require my attention,” Aerana explained sadly.

“Go to sleep now, Aer,” her mother said, patting her head. “I’ll sleep later. I have some things to do first.”


“Empress,” Dracila’s voice interrupted over the guild stone, more urgent now. “Tinox and the General are here. They wish to speak.”

Myaka looked towards Aerana, though the guardian made no move towards Aerana and the priest. Brother Neal shook his head, murmuring quietly into Aerana’s hair as her tears spilled onto his shoulder.

“There, there,” he whispered. “You’re going to be alright, little Aer,” he promised, smoothing her hair. “It’s alright…”

Aerana gave no sign that she heard either Dracila’s or Brother Neal’s words.

“Katelle has suggested she speak to you alone,” Tarashan’s voice added over the stone, followed by a knock on the door.

“We have company,” Myaka said finally. “Do you wish to let them in?”

Brother Neal motioned for Myaka to open the door as he continued to pat Aer’s back, rocking her back and forth like a child.

The knock sounded again.

Aerana, roused by the motion and the words, looked up with reddened eyes, still gripping Brother Neal tightly. “I, ah,” she hesitated a moment, blinking as she tried to regain her bearings. “What is it?” She lifted a hand, signaling for Myaka to open the door.

Ezraeil walked in, his dark robes looking out of place in the bright halls of the Abbey. “I…Empress?”

Aerana cleared her throat after using her gloves to dry what evidence of emotion might remain on her cheeks. “Yes?”

“Are you…I…Is something amiss?”

Aerana shook her head slowly, lowering her head. She cleared her throat again. “I--” she paused to regain her composure. “Worry not, Guardian. Is there something to report?” Beside her, Brother Neal gave Ezraeil a curious look before turning his attention back to Aerana.

“Katelle desires to speak with you,” Ezraeil informed her.

Aerana blinked. “Katelle?” She looked around the room suddenly, eyes widening fearfully as she searched for an escape. Brother Neal gently squeezed her shoulder.

“I’m here, little Aer. And it looks like your other friends are too,” he whispered, nodding towards Myaka and Ezraeil. “You’re going to be alright. You don’t need to be so fearful. Your might be unwell, but you’re not exactly like your mother, child. You can face whatever you need to.”

Casting Brother Neal a sidelong glance, Aerana swallowed. “Ah, I see," she said, trying to sound steady. "J-Just Katelle?”

“Just her,” Ezraeil affirmed.

Despite the gentle reminder of her irrational paranoia, Aerana could not help but to look to Ezraeil and Myaka. “You’ll stay with me?” she asked, a frown coming to her lips at the sliver of fear that crept into her words. “In case something happens? And the others as well?”

“I will not leave your side unless you desire it,” Ezraeil answered promptly.

“I will stay with you, as long as you need,” Myaka said with a nod.

Soon after, a very pregnant Katelle Larmont walked through the doorway and into the little cluttered alcove. She nodded in thanks to Ezraeil before her eyes snapped to Aerana.

The flicker of shock, concern, and heartbreak on the General’s features were undeniable as she caught sight of woman still seated on the bench. “Aerana. Oh Aerana…”
"It is all a balance."
~Aerana Dantay, Empress of the Twilight Empire~

Katelle
Katelle
Posts: 27
Joined: March 24th, 2014, 7:44 pm
Katelle

Re: A Rising Disquiet ((Open RP))

Postby Katelle » November 18th, 2014, 10:38 pm

(( First things first, let me apologize for the delay! This has been in the works since the end of October, but life has done its thing and gotten in my way. As such, there's a lot this post covers. It's very lengthy. You have been warned! ))


There was something wrong with the baby.

She knew it. She could feel it.

She
hurt in a way she wasn’t supposed to. Oh, how she hurt…[center][/center]

But she couldn’t stop, not now. Not when she had to fight to keep her family from falling apart.

“Aerana, please,” she begged. “Don’t let this keep happening.” Her eyes found Myaka, sweet, stoic Myaka. “Myaka!” She gasped at the pain in her stomach, but continued on even as tears fell from her eyes. “Myaka, don’t let this happen! She won’t listen to me anymore, but she trusts you!”

“Guardian.” Aerana’s voice rang out like an iron gong. “The General is suffering. Do her a kindness and put an end to her misery.” She looked questioningly between Aerana and Myaka. The armored warrior strode forward without hesitation, drawing her blade as she did so.

She could feel the blade as it sped through the air towards her child-swollen stomach—and suddenly, she was burning in the raging fire of still-loved sienna eyes.


Katelle woke with a shrieked gasp, hands flying to her stomach as her eyes frantically scanned her abdomen for signs of blood, or blade, or injury of any visible sort…

None. It was a dream. Just a dream.

The other half of her bed was cold and empty. Unsurprising. Perhaps Zakarnas was downstairs at work in his office, or off doing Fel-knew-what. She only hoped he wasn’t drinking after their discussion about his problem. At least he’d agreed—albeit grudgingly—to speak with Brianna Mackinzie.

“I wouldn’t have agreed to do it if I didn’t agree with you in some way.” But did he really? Or was he just agreeing to placate her? The rehabilitation process was no easy thing, though…

Katelle shook her head, rat’s-nested blonde hair shaking about her face. After heaving herself out of bed and running a comb through her hair, the woman pulled on a robe and made her way slowly down the stairs. In her office was her privately-copied version of the medical journal Donnelly had given her to look over and pass along to Brianna and Skylah of the Medical Corps that she wanted to go over again. It detailed the symptoms and attempted treatments of Aerana’s mother; her own copy included notes she’d made while reading the journal through the first, second, and third times, drawing parallels between the Empress’s observable behavior the past several years and the recorded behavior of her mother. The most obvious connections were the favoring of something “more important and consuming” rather than sleep and all-prevalent paranoia…

Tinox took out a tack of parchment from a pocket in his robes. Consulting the first one, which appeared to be a plan of placement, he placed each sheet in a pattern on the floor. Katelle watched with a settled horror, having already stared at the elegant writing in its original place upon the curtained wall of Aerana’s private chambers. Each parchment held a name and information. There were her soldiers dominating the left-hand side, the few Citizens who had earned Aerana’s ire dotting the right below those labeled as “former Senators.” And there, nearly in the center as the common tie between the prominent individuals of each sect within the Empire was her own name--between the loyalty of her soldiers and her family members within the Citizenry, it wasn’t surprising. Even still…

Even still, the image was burned into her brain. All those names, all those lines of information, all those speculations…

Katelle Larmont
General

-Held much of Military’s loyalty (plus family)
-Met with Tinox without informing Empire
-Discussed concerns (only serves to unsettle matters more)
-Excuses with feigned concern
-Relationship with Zakarnas allow for exchange of sensitive information
-Sought personal relationship: suspicious now?
-Guild stone and guardian stone removed for security (prevents reasons for Tinox to approach)

-Associations before Empire:
-Unknown


The rogue shook her head as if to toss the image away. She settled into the comfortable chair at her desk, reaching for the copied journal and opening the front cover for the umpteenth time. Memories flickered in and out of her mind as she read, each one bringing up the same series of questions: was this what caused her friend to change so much? Could they have done anything to help her before now? Could they even do anything to help her now?

The two women laughed airily as the dwarven shaman looked on with gruff amusement. Guardian Sunderious Grimshield waved his hand and the elemental magic was refreshed, imbuing Soldier and Empress with the ability to walk upon the water of the Stormwind Canals. Aerana giggled again, tipping her toes into the waterway, and Katelle looked upon her friend with equal parts affection and astonishment. It was, perhaps, the first time she’d heard the austere woman laugh.

Sunderious left them after some time—only after making Soldier Larmont swear upon her life to see the Empress safe within the city. She’d sworn such with ease, meaning every word. The pair of women talked for what seemed like hours as they walked, and she learned more of Aerana Dantay of Northshire than she had ever know of Empress Dantay of the Empire. They only furthered their fledgling friendship when General Donnelly Keithson, resplendent in shining gold and blue, chanced across them between the Trade District and the Mage Quarter—
without a Guardian in tow for Aerana’s protection.

I thought I’d be demoted right then and there,
Katelle mused, eyes having ceased to focus on the meticulously copied page before her. He’d threatened her with such, demanded she tell him what was going on when Aerana hedged her words and fudged their story, ranted and raged at the both of them while she had remained silent and let the Empress do the talking for both of them. Commander Nightsong was right around the corner, they’d confirmed, neither glancing at the other for fear of giving their game away. Katelle was more than capable enough to keep Aerana from harm for a scant few minutes. It is true, General Keithson, that Soldier Larmont is under your immediate command; but as Empress I hold the authority to utilize her skills as I see fit…

“MILITARY. Once again, seek out Tarashan Flamewind and her quarry. I expect to be acknowledged!” Her words rang strong and sure through the guild stone, but they also carried her annoyance at the lack of immediate obedience by her soldiers. Surely they would listen—she was their
General.

“The Military is to remain where they are, except for those who stand with Soldier Flamewind.” Aerana Dantay’s countermand came as quickly as Katelle’s had, startling the rogue. Hadn’t she insisted time and again that the military was the General’s to command?


Katelle blinked, the words on the page before her rapidly coming into sharp, painful focus. Was that another symptom, or just her personality? The consistency amongst so many years of change was startling, but maybe it was nothing. She reached for her pen and scratched the connection onto a blank page in the back of the journal anyways before the rest of the memory resurfaced with a mournful pang.

She felt the press of a palm through her shirt as a large hand closed around her left shoulder, felt the warmth radiating from a tall body beside her, felt him before she even heard him.

“Hello, ladies,” Alistaire Nightsong—Topknot, to her—greeted smoothly. “Sorry about that. General, good evening.”

And that was that. Crisis averted. General Keithson ranted and railed a bit, but ultimately went on his way—and the two women had merely looked at the tall elf, looked at each other, and laughed.


Her Empress had been comparatively carefree, all those years ago; but then again, so had Katelle herself. The rogue had experienced a psychotic break herself, not even two years ago, and Aerana had sat and listened and talked her through her fears and her pledges as she explained—but would she have accepted the reverse if Katelle had approached the normally cool-headed woman with her years-long fears? Or would she have dismissed them with carefully crafted rhetoric while appearing to validate her friend’s concerns, as Aerana was so skilled at doing… as she had heard her do those weeks ago?

Sleep-scarred eyes gazed blankly at the bound parchment before her. Even members of Aerana’s own entourage, those who aided in the kidnapping of Tinox Smartgear and threatened him with harm, those who had spewed Aerana’s now-familiar “logic” into the guild hall, had come to see her in some form or another. She could count on Myaka to stay by Aerana’s side regardless of the circumstances. The warrior was loyal to a fault—

Myaka Winterborne
Soldier – Guardian
-Sworn and tested
-Chosen and trusted by Katelle as well
-Conflict of interest? Honest about Katelle’s actions
-Known as friend; one to turn to in danger
-Soft spoken and given to kindness


Katelle shook her head again, frustration entering the action. How was she supposed to focus if the damn parchments kept searing her eyes? Pale, shaking hands rose to rub away the burn.

Dracila. Dracila was the first to seek me out. Sarah came bearing an amulet, one that would allow the wearer and Dracila to feel each other physically, mentally, and emotionally. The hollow cold that had fallen across her form like a dead man’s cloak was something she would never be able to rid herself of, and even now it made her clutch with one hand at her stomach to reassure herself that there was no death in her body.

She suggested they kill me. Is that what Myaka was talking about—“what one thinks is too far may be farther than where those who lead them will go?” Dracila claims it was but a test, to see how far Aerana would take things…Fel help me, I believed her. I still do. At least there was the reassurance that she was in no physical danger—yet. It was a hope for her Empress’s remaining rationality that the rogue clung to with furious abandon.

Ezraeil had been next, as brash as Tinox had been in coming directly to her door. As those who kept watch over her had been instructed to refuse entry to any of Aerana’s “Guardians,” she’d spoken with the Nethermancer through the guild stones.

”You were viewed as a very trusted confidant of Aerana. Something happened to make you leave her side. I wish to know what and why you believe it was necessary. This situation is getting ridiculous.”

The words made her heart soar and break in equal parts, even so many days after the conversation. He wasn’t a stupid man, that much was certain—nor was he near as prone to the skewed reality Aerana seemed to be perceiving. His presence at the woman’s side settled the rogue’s mind a bit. He listened to her reasons, interested in trying to work with her to find a way forward. He was as much of a middle ground between the stoic, steady Myaka and the unpredictable Tarashan as she could hope for.

”…Is that really the best course of action? Taunting the hot-headed guardian? . . . Tarashan will only incite further issues…”

That both Ezraeil and Dracila came to her next, needing her opinion on how to get Dracila back into Aerana’s good graces and remove Tarashan from the picture, only spoke further to the tense dynamic within the group.

"If you try to move against Tarashan in any way behind somebody's back, that will only paint you with foul colors. . . . I hate to say it, but she needs to stay unless she leaves of her own volition."

The rogue sighed, not bothering to try and refocus her gaze on her cramped writing. At least someone was trying. Katelle craned her sore neck this way and that before rolling her shoulders. Leaning forward, she rested her forehead in her hand and closed her eyes. Just for a moment, then I’ll keep at it…


[center]---[/center]


She kissed her lover—her Captain—goodbye one last time before he made the weekly journey to Darnassus and the Twilight Empire’s guild hall. A regular meeting would mean he’d be back in a few scant hours; tonight’s meant he would head directly to the cells beneath the Cathedral of Light after his duty at the meeting, where Lady Mackinzie had prepared chambers for him. Katelle tried to put her gratitude at his agreement for treatment into their final kiss for who knew how many days or weeks. They pulled apart, traded lover’s words, and off the tall elf went.

Even now, due to her imagination or otherwise, he tasted of alcohol. Some part of her felt leaden with fear, asking him to go through what had been promised to be an awful, harsh ordeal of treatment for his alcoholism—but the fierce protector burned with the knowledge that she couldn’t have him slip up due to his drink. It didn’t matter that he’d picked the habit back up with a vengeance only as a result of Aerana’s orders to keep her locked away. It didn’t matter that he kept falling back to the bottle time and again to cope with the stress. It didn’t matter that it was a disease. None of it mattered.

Not now.

Not again.

Not with their first child on the way.

The rogue lowered herself carefully—so carefully—into the armchair near the hearth. Her head tilted back and her eyes settled closed to wait the burst of chatter that inevitably came through the guild stone during the meeting.


[center]---[/center]


”I dream,” she was saying, voice hoarse. “Every night. Sometimes I wake silently, others screaming. I dream of—of--” Unconsciously, her free hand moved to rest on her stomach protectively. “I dream of death. Sometimes mine, sometimes not...from illness, from the poison I drank for years but haven't touched in so long--” She looked up at the Knight beside her, the man whom she had leaned on for so long, the man whose dead children she brought into the world with her own two hands and a blade in his lover's womb. He was staring at her with something akin to worry in that beloved moss green gaze. Briefly, she wondered what it would be like to have a father like him before the thought was swept away in the next image her mind conjured, the words spoken without conscious knowledge. “--or of icy hands and sapphire eyes and a thrum of magic...”

“That as fear is not always foe...Mayhaps return unto duties thine own were premature? Naught would lay with thee in blame should leave further be done, Katelle. Concerns numerous may oft surround as to consume should weight yet more press unto brow burdened.” She looked down again, a bitter lift coming to curl her lips.

“I have dreamt since the night we were told I was with child,” she murmured quietly. “And I will not be allowed to do any of this after the birth, Rorrek, no matter how capable I think I am. It will be my gilded cage all over again, except no Empress to order it.” She trailed off, flicking her gaze back up to meet her friend's—and stiffened, for in his place was cold, regal Aerana herself.

“I ordered such for your own safety, Katelle,” she said. There was a chill in her voice that burned like fire. “Was it not you who cited fears for your unborn child?”

“But I should never have had to fear
you,” the rogue whispered. “You were my friend.”

“You don't know what it is to fear me, Katelle,” she bit out harshly, the woman's normally impassive voice filled with a hurt Katelle had seldom heard over the years. The mage's hands came to life with a familiar icy glow, and for a brief moment the rogue remembered the face of her first guardian, beloved Aoife, as her Empress thrust a lance of ice through her heart. “But you will.”

She could feel the powerful thrum of magic in the air, and suddenly she was drowning in the frozen wasteland of still-loved sapphire eyes.


“General, are you available?”

The words shot through her like lightning, startling her awake. It took a moment before she registered that it was Tinox's voice coming through the guild stone and not a voice from her dream.

“Yes, Senator.” A moment later his voice was coming through a private frequency, her heart leaping into her throat at the simple command.

“The Empress is in Northshire. Collect two soldiers and meet me outside of the Abbey gates.” She almost couldn’t speak, so hard was her stomach roiling with the remnants of her dream.

“…Of course, Senator.”


[center]---[/center]


“Zak’s threatening to kill me.” She didn’t react to O’Conner’s softly-thought words through her guild stone, forcing her palms to stay open and loose when all she wanted was to curl them into fists. The druid, almost invisible to the unobservant eye, brushed against her thigh as they walked as a reminder that he was there to support her.

It wasn’t like she could forget; she’d almost cried while begging Brewbies to let her leave the house so close to her due date, and the dwarf had finally agreed—on the condition that Lucorone accompany her should something happen and she needed medical assistance. She felt incredibly awkward, waddling along with an oversized cat padding next to her, but Aerana was too important and her General the least likely to cause her to immediately flee.

“Oh. Uh. And let me know if you need to rest. I wouldn't want to tire you,” Tinox said, sounding as out of his element as she felt.

They passed Tarashan’s elemental at the entrance to the Abbey itself, encountering the pyromancer herself and Dracila standing guard at the entrance to a hallway. Katelle could see Ezraeil as he stepped out beyond the corner. Myaka must be with Aerana. Good girl. She hardly processed the words traded between the four of them, so caught up in the need to talk to her friend, oh please, let me see her, but she did remember one single pronouncement:

“Then let me speak to her alone.”

“He’s doing it again.” She couldn’t decide if O’Conner sounded upset or amused. “He’s really… really upset you’re out here, Kate, and even more upset that I allowed you to do it.” There was nothing for it; she would explain later, suffer the brunt of her Captain’s anger. This is too important. This is our future.

“Aerana will see Katelle.” The voice was Ezraeil’s, and the rogue almost cried with relief. She thanked all of Aerana’s entourage and followed the Nethermancer through a short series of halls and into a small office. Myaka was there, a flash of anger in her eyes at Katelle’s sudden appearance, and on a bench was an elderly man with his hand on Aerana’s shoulder. After a brief, sad glance to the warrior, Katelle’s eyes focused entirely on the broken, tearstained form of the mage.

“K—” Aerana cleared her throat. “Katelle.” The greeting was mechanical, and the rogue’s heart broke in that moment, visible for all to see. It was all Katelle could do to keep herself from flinging her arms around the woman and soothing away her pain.

Aerana,” she breathed. “Oh, Aerana.” She swallowed past the lump in her throat. “May I…may I approach?” Her Empress gave a small nod, watching her closely.

“You wished to speak?” The words were forced, but Katelle could hear some underlying emotion.

“I would kneel, but…” Aerana’s lips formed a smile at the quip, despite her obvious distress. The man with her—Tinox had identified him earlier as Brother Neal—offered a wan smile.

“Worry not, Katelle.” She returned the smile to the Brother and stepped forward within a respectable range, ensuring she was out of arm’s reach. Her mouth worked for a moment as she stared again at Aerana, suddenly unsure of what to say.

“We’ve… we’ve been so worried, Aerana.” Katelle cursed herself for being unable to control the emotion in her voice. Am I going to scare her away? Will she think me too overbearing? The words tumbled out of her mouth anyways. “I don't care what this whole mess has caused. It doesn't matter anymore. Not... not after seeing you like this.”

“It…” Aerana trailed off, shaking her head suddenly as her eyes widened. She knows. Oh, Fel, she knows. “The whole mess…” Katelle smiled faintly.

“We’ve all made a right go of it, haven’t we?” The joke was weak, as was her voice. Aerana started suddenly, reaching her hands up to her head. Her impassivity, so typical over the last years, utterly shattered as her expression turns horrified. "All...all of it?" She shook her head. "No..." Brother Neal murmured to her in a gentle voice, but—Katelle noticed with a pang—she didn’t seem to notice. Almost reflexively she reached out with a bare hand, wanting only to comfort. A moment later she thought better of the motion and let the hand fall, barely noticing Ezraeil studying them from the corner of her eyes. Myaka made a similar motion, stopping just short of touching the mage.

“Aerana... Aerana, please. Everything is in the past. We just... we just want to help you. We want you well. We want you back.” Her voice was choked, tears threatening to spill from her eyes. Aerana looked at Katelle, defiance and then something else—fear?—in her eyes.

"How can you?" she asked quietly. "If what...If all of this...?" She couldn’t seem to finish the sentence. Her eyes, as wide as they are, brightened with unshed tears as her lower lip began to tremble. With a deep breath, Aerana’s familiar composure was back in place; but Katelle was shaking her head even as the mage tried to speak.

“It doesn't matter," she murmured. "It doesn't matter, Aerana, none of it does. You are part of our family.” Aerana’s sapphire eyes—so different from the eyes in her dream not an hour prior—darted from the floor to the wall as she bit her lip. “Fel, Aerana, I’ve thought of you as my family for years, just as I have Myaka.” Her own azure eyes flicked to Myaka with a grief-stricken expression before looking back to Aerana. “Our Empire is only an extension of that. You are ours, as much as we are yours. That's what family is, and it doesn't matter what has happened.” Aerana reaches a free hand to rub her face.

“He’s beside himself,” the druid murmured gently through the stone, his presence warm at Katelle’s side. “You probably should let him calm down after this. He’s hearing everything over the guild stone, and… well…” Fear ate at the bottom of her gut. Since the start of this, there had been an uproar over the guild stone, and Zakarnas had heard it all. He knew by now exactly what she was doing, or could guess fairly close at it, and she’d be lucky if she escaped his wrath without being verbally flayed. But this is too important.

"...Doesn't it? If..." Aerana’s voice trailed off again and she blinked away the tears. "I still don't trust. Even now...I just can’t. Do you know what it is that they did? That they planned? Even with this...” Aerana held up a leather bound journal that Katelle could guess the contents of. “I can't bring myself to find it all harmless.” The rogue nodded, bringing a soft sleeve up to wipe at her leaking eyes.

“I know," she said quietly. "I know it does. But I promise you, nothing is... we've faked nothing. I know my word probably doesn't mean much to you right now, but..." Aerana lowered her head, staring at the floor in resolute silence. Katelle shook her head again, trying to keep it clear. "All we ever wanted to do was try and help you. We just didn't know how, and by the time we realized what we should and shouldn't be doing for you, it was already too late.” Her voice broke on the next words. "We'd already driven you away in our desperation to try and do something. Aerana, I'm so sorry. I'm sorry for all of this that we've handled so poorly.”

Aerana closed her eyes. Tears leaked from her eyes as they did from her General’s, but neither woman paid them any notice. “Those who swore..." She looked quickly at Myaka, her voice faint. "How can such be forgiven? Indeed, mistakes were made, and yet..."

“And yet those like Myaka and Dracila did what they swore to do, what your Captain and your General begged for them to do two years ago.” Aerana’s hand moved to cover her mouth as her eyes grew distant as Katelle continued. “To stand by your side through everything. To support you, to serve you, to aid you should you need it.”

“Who came with you, Katelle?” The question was asked from behind her hand, but the rogue did not hesitate to consider the reason why. Her answer came immediately, seeking to hide nothing from the woman before her.

“Tinox. A handful of soldiers in case I needed to be rushed out if... if things took a turn for the worse. Citizen O'Conner, who was forced upon me by my healer in case this was too much stress for my child.” Her hand went to rest across her abdomen as if out of habit, and inwardly she cringed. The woman looked to Myaka and then back to Katelle before responding.

“All cannot forgive nor forget as you have, Katelle. What...” She pressed her lips together, swallowing in a behavior familiar to her erstwhile friend. "What is to be done with me?"

Zak is going to kill me. The thought was an ever-present buzz at the back of her skull as much as O’Conner’s stealthy, feline warmth was reassuring near her thigh. She tried to ignore it once more, focusing on reassuring the woman who had been her friend for too many years to stop now.

“We—all of us, Aerana—will do our best to work together to help you,” she replied with a gentle resolve. “We move forward from here, Aerana.” The rogue’s ponytail swung gently as she shook her head. "There is no use in living in the past. Every moment from here on out is a new one to take advantage of.” Aerana’s head shook slowly from side to side.

"I see no way forward," she said softly. "I have..." She fell silent before giving Katelle a steady, firm look. The unusual fire in her blue eyes made the rogue’s breath hitch, and while her own gentle gaze did not shy away from the stare, fear crept into her own eyes.

Icy hands and sapphire eyes and a thrum of magic…

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Re: A Rising Disquiet ((Open RP))

Postby Aerana » December 11th, 2014, 1:18 pm

The gentle low hum of chanting voices floated through the stone hallways of the Abbey, providing a rhythmic undertone to Aerana’s own quiet murmurs. Secluded in one of the many small alcoves throughout the building, Aerana’s near-silent phrases were little more than intonations to relax her breathing and her mind. The now-serene woman lowered her eyes from the altar and bowed her head. She paid no heed to the momentary discomfort of the stone floor pressing hard against her knees. Instead, she focused her thoughts inward, muffling all outside distractions that threatened to pull her focus away from the inner calm that she had tentatively regained over the past few weeks.

She had been convalescing in the Northshire Abbey for a couple of months now, carefully supervised by Brother Neal Newton. She was certain now that his gifts with the Light were being used to subtly ensure her tranquility, to help her slip into the meditative and reflective states that allowed her to understand all that had occurred and her role in it. Her meals, her sleeping habits, and her leisure activities were all monitored by the capable Brother. In truth, she could not blame the kindly old man for his work; she knew that it was necessary to help contain the unreasonable fears and other aberrant behaviors that had plagued her over the past few years. And so, her days were spent in quiet conversations with her childhood friend regarding the progression of her illness— haltingly at first but with growing acceptance and understanding. With that understanding came other emotions but the Brother’s gentle words acted as a temporary bulwark against the surging sense of guilt.

Apart from the daily conversations, Brother Neal also acted as a gatekeeper of sorts, regulating those who sought to visit Aerana in the Abbey. Although none were immediately turned away, the Brother gave careful instructions to those who entered. Those known as her Guardians still spent time at her side and helped to ensure that the Brother’s orders were followed. Their presence was less that of protectors and more akin to concerned friends solicitously caring for her fragile health. They were also the first to hear Aerana speak openly of her illness, though such conversations were accompanied by many pauses and heavy sighs. Admitting that her weakness and illness had caused a rift within the Empire was heart-rending and…

Aerana took a steadying breath at the thought, repressing the small tremor in her mind. She focused instead on the comforting rise and fall of the Brothers’ chanting.

In a sense, she felt that it was the height of unfairness for her to enjoy the relative peace and seclusion of the Abbey while others of the Empire faced unknown trials. She desired nothing more than to stand among them, to provide what aid she could…But the Senate had conferred with Brother Neal and had taken on the role of receiving and seeing to all official reports. Such a course of action was for her sake at Brother Neal's behest, she was sure. She could not blame them and, indeed, knew that her isolation was the best course of action for the time being. Even though she knew not what would happen after that isolation was lifted, such uncertainty was another reality that required acceptance.

A gentle hand came to rest on her shoulder and Aerana, startled from her thoughts, raised her head. Brother Neal looked down at her and gave her a kind smile.

“How are you feeling, little Aer?” he asked. It was only then that Aerana realized the chanting had stopped and the normal sounds of the Abbey had resumed as the Brothers went about their daily tasks.

She dipped her head respectfully towards the Brother. “I am as well as I might be, Brother,” she replied quietly. “In truth, I feel that the peace I feel now is more deserved by others; and yet, such progress indicates that your theories have borne fruit.”

He nodded slowly at her words. “I would keep you here in tranquility for longer, if I could. But I think that you’re probably right, child — I’ve done what all that I can and I cannot, in good conscience, keep you here for much longer.” He paused and smiled. “Unless you wish to retire here in the Abbey?”

Aerana slowly stood up, brushing her hands across her robe. Folding her hands before her, she regarded Brother Neal. “You have done much for me, Brother,” she began slowly. “Do not think that such has gone unnoticed or unappreciated. And though I know not what lies in my future, I shall not retire here unless such is requested by those for whom I care the most. At this time, however, there is more to be done. And that which must be done now, must be done by others.”

“Of course, of course,” he agreed, patting her lightly. “I’ll send word then, shall I? These past few months should have given them time to make the preparations.”

Aerana nodded once and looked towards the altar once more.

“Be not afraid, child,” the Brother said comfortingly, his voice pitched low. “Their care is apparent, I promise you that. You will be made well and, if not, at least you will know that you did all you could.” He paused before adding, “The fears you have are unfounded; you know that now, even though you still have them. That knowledge was necessary before we could take the next step.”

“Indeed,” Aerana murmured, straightening her shoulders. “Such was required so that the infirmities of my mind did not cast out all those who attempted to mend that which is broken. I thank you for the care you have given to me in helping me to realize such.” She offered the Brother a small smile and turned towards the doorway to leave the little alcove. Brother Neal watched her retreating form, his sympathetic look tinged with worry.
"It is all a balance."
~Aerana Dantay, Empress of the Twilight Empire~

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Re: A Rising Disquiet ((Open RP))

Postby Aerana » March 1st, 2015, 8:16 pm

(( This post comes after a few months - both ICly and OOCly - after the events of the preceding posts. Given that about half of TE has been on Draenor lately, I thought it best to take a minor lull in the story to allow for people to participate once 6.1 dropped and TE was reunited with its missing members. Furthermore, it allowed time for Aerana to convalesce in the Abbey. ))

Brother Neal Newton closed the door to his study, listening for the soft click of the lock sliding into place. The Abbey was mostly silent, although he thought he could hear the occasional murmur of quiet conversations from the nearest alcove. He turned away from the door and looked around his cozy little room. Several candles burned merrily on the nearby desk, flickering and dancing with more energy than the Brother could summon at this late hour. Two cups of tea sat on the table, cold now after so many hours of conversation. He rubbed his hands together to soothe the growing ache in his knuckles as he sat down at his cluttered desk. He would take the cups of tea to the kitchen in the morning.

Despite his tiredness, he reached out wizened hands to take hold of a rather large wooden box nestled underneath a pile of papers. The edges were smooth and the pieces came together with no evidence of a seam. He murmured a small prayer beneath his breath, invoking the guidance of the Light, as was his habit. The edges of the box sprang apart and he pulled out a thick bound journal. Beneath it sat other, similarly thick, books.

Pulling a candle close for his failing eyesight, Brother Neal hunched over his desk and dipped the quill in ink. And then, as he had done for the past few months, Brother Neal began to write in precise, neat sentences, following the basic outline of his previous reports.

-----------------

Name: [Redacted]

Age: 29

Gender: Female

Biographical Information: Biographical information came from this Brother’s prior knowledge and from Patient’s disclosure after Patient arrived at the Abbey. For full reports, see Initial Log, which includes the introduction, basic biographical information, family history, educational background, and other preliminary data gathered.

Current Date: Beginning of the Third month of the New Year.

Time in Care: Almost four months.

Summary of Progress:
Progress over the past three months has been slow, but steady, as previously reported. Patient arrived appearing malnourished, sleep-deprived, extremely agitated, and experiencing frequent audio and visual hallucinations. (See Initial Log: Arrival for detailed report of conditions). Under the routine established, Patient has reached a relatively healthy weight and reports sleeping (mostly) through the night. Her sleep is regular. Furthermore, meditation, prayer, daily walks, and other relaxing activities have helped to soothe Patient’s anxiety and fears, which has reduced symptoms of her illness.

Although Patient continues to experience auditory hallucinations, thoughts indicative of paranoia, and visual hallucinations on occasions, reports of these symptoms have been decreasing over time as Patient’s mental and physical well-being has stabilized. (See: Symptom Chart for relevant week) Notably, Patient’s symptoms seem to appear in conjunction with anxiety, sleep deprivation, or other similarly negative external provocations. This generalization does not always hold true, however, and Patient still reports symptoms when in states of apparent relaxation. These reports have lessened considerably.

Patient acknowledges the progress made over the past months and is less resistant to this Brother’s recommendations. Over time, through collaboration, interviews, and conversations, trust has built between this Brother and Patient so that full disclosures can be made in the interests of treatment. Patient’s circle of support has been integral in this process and this Brother has continually relied on them over the months. They remain constantly with Patient, ensuring her well-being both physically and emotionally. This Brother has encouraged them to remain with her, given the effectiveness of their closeness.

Patient exhibits the same interest in reading, writing, philosophical discussions, and other intellectual pursuits. Similarly, Patient’s speech no longer trails off or exhibits hesitation, stuttering, or distraction. Patient is less given towards grand statements or implications of subversion and suspicion although she still reports that the thoughts cross her mind unprompted. Despite this, Patient is adamant that she realizes that the thoughts are unreasonable or irrational.

Observations Since Last Report:
Patient continues to improve and has reached what appears to be a plateau in her progression towards physical well-being. She reports eating a healthy amount and these reports are corroborated by her associates. Still, this Brother believes that Patient would fail to eat if not prodded to do so by those around her. Disinterest in food, sleep, and other routine matters appear part of Patient’s symptoms. Routine seems to help this disinterest but it is still troubling. This Brother will ask Patient’s associates to begin speaking of matters outside the Abbey in the hopes that it sparks more interest.

Intellectually, Patient reports no troubles and this Brother observes none.

Socially, Patient appears comfortable in the Abbey and has adapted to the daily routine easily. However, Patient has admitted difficulty in speaking with others about her mental illness, confessing feelings of shame and weakness. Patient also appears to mimic socially acceptable emotions while maintaining what she calls a “professional demeanor.” This Brother has encouraged her to be honest in her conversation and emotions with others but there is still much progress to be made in this.

Patient has reported feelings of guilt or depression associated with actions taken over the past year (or longer). These reports appear to increase when Patient spends time outside the Abbey with those she feels she has harmed. Patient continues to admit to feelings of anxiety when confronted by others outside of her close circle of friends (and even within it). Little progress has been made towards resolving these feelings because Patient often turns the conversation away from this topic. This Brother feels additional time will be necessary in order to progress.

Restrictions in Place:
Patient is allowed a limited number of approved visitors. Visitors are informed that topics of discussion are to be kept relatively light and unlikely to induce anxiety. Patient is not allowed to receive reports from her organizations regarding military excursions, political difficulties, hierarchy, or other similar matters that may cause Patient to forego treatment.

Patient has recently been allowed to attend a limited number of meetings. Although Patient reports no issues with travel or casting magic, these excursions are to remain limited for the time being to ensure that her stabilization is maintained.

Patient is still required to be observed eating meals.

Patient is not allowed reading materials, parchment, or other distractions in the evening given her tendency not to sleep when distractions are around.

Patient is required to retire to her chambers at the 10th bell.

Current Accommodations:
Patient remains in her small room at the Abbey, which accommodates the visitation restrictions put in place.

Oftentimes Patient’s friends are with her, engaging in small talk and lighthearted conversation. This Brother encourages and highly recommends that this support network continue to surround Patient in to prevent feelings of isolation and depression. This was especially true in the beginning of treatment but continues to be integral in Patient’s continued progress.

Patient requests numerous reading materials, which have been provided. Patient has also requested thread, cloth, needles, and other similar tools to sew and tailor.

Recommendations:
Patient’s physical progress is satisfactory and Patient has regained physical health (weight: normal; sleeping habits: normal; skin color: healthy). This Brother recommends the current regime (re: eating, sleeping, and activity) be maintained.

As discussed at the beginning of treatment (see Initial Log: Goals), Patient’s health has stabilized to the point where further treatment addressing mental stability is warranted. Patient has indicated that a “Medical Corps” will be taking custody and care of her future treatment. A medical procedure performed by this “Medical Corps” has been suggested to deal with Patient’s symptoms.

This Brother believes continuity will be important to future progress. Further meetings are necessary to collaborate transition in treatment. The Medical Corps will be notified that Patient is ready for their intervention.

Signed by this hand,
Brother Neal Newton


-----------------

Brother Neal set the quill to the side and rubbed his eyes wearily before glancing down at the report. The words sounded dry and overly analytical in his mind, hardly doing justice to the very real struggles over the past months. But it was not his job to capture the emotion of his conversations, the tearful admissions of shame or guilt, or the pain in his heart as he worried what the new day would bring. As the melting candles could attest, he spent an inordinate amount of time thinking of the best way to distill the frail woman’s admissions and hand-wringing to objective statements of symptoms and observations. The purpose of this medical journal was not to give life to her struggles, but rather to give guidance for anyone who might struggle in the future. He had not done enough documentation with her mother; he would not make the same mistake again. And so, his goal was merely to chart the progression, without embellishment, of whatever treatments they tried and what progress (or lack thereof) was made. And now with the stability they had attained, it seemed like the next uncertain step was nearing.

His heavy sigh blew the remaining candles out. He had done what he could. Tomorrow, he would write letters, along with the accompanying reports, to this Medical Corps that Aerana had spoken of.
"It is all a balance."
~Aerana Dantay, Empress of the Twilight Empire~

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Re: A Rising Disquiet ((Open RP))

Postby Aerana » March 2nd, 2015, 7:24 pm

Aerana stared the tendrils of steam wafting up from the two cups of tea that sat on the small table between them. Brother Neal's question had long since faded, but he knew better than to press her for an answer. Instead, the two sat in companionable silence, allowing their tea to cool as the bright candlelight cast Aerana's thoughtful expression into stark relief.

"I cannot shirk responsibility for that which was done by me, or done in my name," Aerana answered finally. "The Empire has grown beyond what it once was; it cannot subject itself to the frailties of a single individual nor even a group. Instead, it must foster its strength within itself. For only in that can it weather such tumultuous storms." She fell silent and looked away, her gaze going to the darkened window on the far wall.

Brother Neal remained quiet as he picked up his cup of tea and sipped, waiting for Aerana to continue.

"I cannot think that all that was shared with me was simply a misunderstanding," Aerana explained, after an indeterminate length of time had passed. "My title separated me from that which I love, from the Empire, yes. The hierarchy of the Empire was a necessity that arose with its growth. And it allowed for symptoms to manifest with precious few aware of such. And yet, perhaps we allowed our authority to settle too comfortably around our shoulders. And...perhaps I was not the only one who grew aloof. I will not demean the confidences of those who spoke to me by saying that all was a creation of my mind. Yet neither will I allow such to feed the cycle that we were caught within."

"So you did what you thought best for the Empire, Aer," the elderly Brother said comfortingly as he placed his wrinkled hand atop hers. "Did you do what you thought best for yourself as well?"

"It is for the best," Aerana answered after a moment's hesitation, nodding her head slowly. "I meant the words I spoke. The title enabled me to do that which should not have been done. I bear the responsibility for that -- not those who simply followed the orders I gave. Yet more than that, I have come to the realization, as urged by you and others, that I cannot allow my guilt or despair to dictate my actions. If I cannot find some semblance of good from this, then the trials we endured will be wasted. And the good...is this." The woman pressed her lips together briefly before speaking with more confidence. "Our conversations should reveal that such a decision was not made lightly. I have been known as an Empress for many years now; to suddenly relinquish that position caused my heart, or perhaps my pride, no small amount of pain. It was not an easy speech to give and, even now, I marvel that I did not stutter throughout. But it was for the best, for both the Empire and me."

"I do not marvel, child," he replied with a kindly smile. "You are capable of many things -- speaking articulately being one of them. How did the others respond, when you told them you were stepping down?"

Aerana's lips twitched downward as she remembered the scene at the guild hall after her announcement. "Many were shocked, including the Senators." she admitted. "It was unfortunate, yet necessary, that the announcement be made in such a way. Had the Senate shown no surprise, then many would have believed that I had been forced into stepping down. Such is also why it was necessary that the Mackinzie sisters confirm that the words I spoke were spoken of my own accord. It needed to be done before proceeding any further with treatment, so that all my know that this was my true wish, born of my free will. For we know not what comes next."

Brother Neal nodded. "Of course, of course. Though there's no need to get dire with your predictions for the future," he chastised gently. "And now? How do you feel?"

"Lost and somewhat uncertain, I think." Aerana smiled sadly at the Brother. "It is not often that one steps away from that which defined them for so long. I fear that so much must be spoken of that which occurred...and yet it is not easy to speak of. Instead, there is a strange, heavy tension. I know not whether I am the only one that senses it, though I think not. Regardless of what some may think, I truly feel I can serve more faithfully without my title, or the mantle of authority it heralds. I will not salt wounds nor allow resentment and hurt to fester by bearing the title that allowed me to cause so much harm. All that occurred served as an abrupt alert, in many respects. And so, despite the uncertainty, I feel a renewed sense of purpose. I still have that which I must work towards, and that focus allows me to move past the sentiments that might otherwise overwhelm."

"Then that is what I will pray for," Brother Neal said quietly, patting her hand. He looked at her, searching her expression. "Perhaps you should retire early tonight," he suggested. "It's been quite a day."

Aerana set her hand briefly atop Brother Neal's, grateful for his kindness and intuition, before she stood up. "Indeed, it has," she agreed tiredly. "I thank you, as always, for looking after me over these months."

"Of course, child," Brother Neal said, also standing. "There's always a place for you here. Oh, I sent the letters to the Medical Corps," he added, guiding Aerana to the door. "I'll let you know when I receive responses. Until then, rest and do not worry yourself. You must take care of yourself before you can take care of others."

"I shall try, Brother," Aerana promised before slipping out of the small study and into the halls of the Abbey.
"It is all a balance."
~Aerana Dantay, Empress of the Twilight Empire~

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Re: A Rising Disquiet ((Open RP))

Postby Aerana » March 7th, 2015, 6:36 pm

Aerana’s room smelled faintly of lavender — the remnant of the lavender oils that Myaka had diffused in the air to help Aerana sleep more peacefully through the night. She smiled faintly as she pushed herself into a sitting position at the head of the bead. Leaning back, she used the stone wall at the head of the bed as support for her still-weary body. Rays of sunlight shone through the window, reminding her that it was well past the time she usually awoke, but Aerana did not make any movement to get further out of bed.

Tilting her head back against the stone, she closed her eyes. The sight of the Abbey, with Tarashan and Dracila kneeling next to her, had been especially jarring after emerging from the catatonic state induced by Resileaf’s spell. She vaguely remembered being guided through the darkened halls of the Abbey last night, after Resileaf’s foray into her mind. Whatever words spoken to her were indistinct, blurred by the much sharper memories that Resileaf had unearthed.

Aerana did, however, distinctly recall Resileaf apologizing for something, lamenting the entire venture as a failure. Aerana had disagreed then, just as she disagreed now. She sighed.

For the first time ever, Aerana had seen the inside of her mind — experienced the memories and the fears as they manifested in a landscape she hardly recognized. The scenes encountered were devoid of the warmth, happiness, and comfort that she always thought the Empire brought her. Instead, her mind had been cold and guarded, reminiscing all too often on the tragedies, duties, and heavy responsibilities dictated by her position.

‘My mind is too often preoccupied by the darkness I dread, rather than the light I espouse,’ she reflected, opening her eyes to gaze out the window. ‘And such has created fertile ground for the insidious whispers that manifest because of my illness.’

The reminder of her illness, ever present but sometime subdued, infused her with a sense of purpose. Taking a deep breath, Aerana swung her legs over the edge of her bed and stood up. Today would be a day of meditation and reflection upon what she had learned this past night.

As she turned to leave, a letter on the floor by the doorway caught her attention. It had clearly pushed through the gap between the door and the floor to avoid waking her. Atop the letter was a little note. Aerana picked them both up and glanced at the little note first.

Aerana,

I received this from the friends you mentioned. They wanted me to talk over its contents but I didn’t want to wake you.

Enjoy your rest and may the Light grant you a peaceful morning.

Love,
Brother Neal


Aerana set Brother Neal’s note aside and looked up the other letter, wrapped in a ribbon of amethyst silk. The wax seal had been broken, but Aerana could still make out the crest of the armored raven’s head.

Dearest Brother Neal,

I have had the pleasure of making your acquaintance once previously, though it was brief. I do so hope all is well within the walls of the Abbey. I, along with the Empire, am very grateful for the excellent care you've given Aerana. Thank you, truly.

As for Aerana's treatment, we of the Medical Corps have decided Combination Magics Therapy to be the best option, after going through the provided journals, as well as in conclusion with our own witness and examination. I have included an overview of the procedure so that you may acquaint yourself and know what to expect, should you so wish.

**Combination Magics Therapy**
A technique which will require both an experienced wielder of the Light and of the Arcane. The latter must be most skilled, for though the Arcane is capable of great versatility and must be handled without error. A Mistweaver will be present to steady and calm the nerves of the Magus and Priest, as extra precaution. As well as a top priority of keeping Aerana in a cocoon of serenity. The chosen Magus would, carefully, map the neural pathways and synaptic functions of the patient's brain through means of Arcane pulse manipulation and imaging. Any deficiencies noted once mapped would then be honed upon by the chosen Priest, by means of mind vision, to which concentrated doses of light are to be infused within said points to hopefully restore full functionality to the faltering tissues.

The persons submitted for this delicate procedure are as follows: Tarashan Flamewind - Magus, Skylah Mackinzie - Priest, and Sarah Brownmane - Mistweaver. These are our suggestions but I wish for Aerana to be completely comfortable, so would like her approval on this team of healers. Please share this particular information with her, Brother Neal.

In regards to your suggestions of location and surroundings. We welcome your offer of using the Northshire facilities and agree that it would be most beneficial to Aerana to remain in a place of familiarity. We also have no qualms with her Guardians being present (if that is indeed whom you meant by "certain individuals") so long as they do not interfere with the procedure. This means utmost quiet, as the healers need every bit of their concentration. Although, I am sure I do not have to explain such a need to you, Brother.

We shall be in touch very soon. Light guide your path always.

Sincerely,
Patrician Brianna Mackinzie
Medical Director


Slowly, Aerana lowered the letter to her side. She had, of course, spoken with both Brianna and Skylah Mackinzie about the proposed treatment and knew of its dangers. Although the Medical Corps was skilled and self-assured, the fact remained that the procedure was a novel one. Yet, as the day approached, Aerana felt no sense of anxiety or nervousness. Instead, a growing calm had enveloped her, aided no doubt by the ambiance of the Abbey.

“Acceptance,” she murmured to herself, naming the sensation aloud before she pressed open the door and stepped outside.
"It is all a balance."
~Aerana Dantay, Empress of the Twilight Empire~

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