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Old October 9th, 2007 (11:37 AM). Edited October 9th, 2007 by Alter Ego.
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Alter Ego Alter Ego is offline
that evil mod from hell
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Touhou land, grazing danmaku all the way
Age: 27
Nature: Quirky
Posts: 5,777
OOC: Aaack, I just realized that this post is going to be freakin' enormous. O.O Eh-heh...hope it makes sense. xD

IC:

Faewyn had still been in a state of shock as they were escorted out of the infirmary room. There had been so much happening that it was giving her a headache; too much, just...just too much. First Reid had awoken and everyone was going to be happy and have a wedding, then the next thing she knew she had been in the middle of all that horror and violence, and then...her glance shifted to Reece again, her hands still firmly clinging to his arm, and then she had found one of the few people in this world who had actually called her 'friend' again. She had wanted to be happy, to chatter away like her usual self, to ask about everything that had happened to him since he left uncle Kain's clinic with that newly mended wing, to tell him about all the incredible things she had witnessed, to introduce her old friend to her new friends, and yet-she sighed lightly, seating herself by the table around which they were holding their little conference, yet she couldn't bring herself to speak.

There was one thing she could do, though...the girl's hands instinctively darted for notebook and pencil at Reid's sudden transformation, the leaden tip dancing fervently across the rapidly filling pages as Mistral introduced herself and proceeded to talk to them about...well, about everything more or less. Rod's killer, the true identity of Thylonstus, the origin of mahstion...everything. Faewyn was absolutely spellbound, her lips not moving to utter a single word and her eyes not leaving the peculiar apparition that was controlling Reid. With the explanation about the negafaels, and specifically the part about one of them having been the one to kill Rod, a huge burden was lifted from Faewyn's conscience. It hadn't been Reid, it hadn't! And she had known it! Still, the prospect of something like that existing within Reid was unnerving, and when Mistral proceeded to explain that they all possessed one, the girl wasn't exactly relieved.

There was no time for interjection, however, as the fael proceeded to unleash some kind of energy at them, the girl's consciousness fading before she managed to voice her fears and a pleasant darkness slipping over her eyes...

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Within the confines of her mind, Faewyn groaned, slowly coming to again. She was lying face-down on what felt like cold, wet grass...except for the minor detail that grass wasn't usually crimson in color. Rising to her feet, the girl surveyed her surroundings. She was standing on a floating island of some sort, moisture hung in the air, small drops of rain sprinkling down from above, and from somewhere above she could hear the distant rumble of thunder. The source of this was unclear, however, as the entire islet was draped in a shroud of thick, white fog which prevented her from seeing anything but the small patch of crimson grass she was standing on and-she paused, squinting into the fog; she couldn't be sure,

"Hello?" Faewyn called anxiously, walking towards the figure. It seemed to be male, judging by the height, but whoever it was, he had his back turned and paid no heed to her inquiry. Faewyn gave an involuntary shudder, something about this didn't feel right; wasn't the fael supposed to come out and greet her? "Umm...excuse me?" she asked, softly grasping the stranger's shoulder and turning it so he would face her, "Are you my-?"

Faewyn froze in horror at the sight in front of her, letting out a shriek and backing off, her hand clasping her mouth as the mangled body of Rod veered around to stare at her with empty eyesockets, falling face first onto the grass with a dull thud as fresh blood from his wounds mingled with the crimson of the grass, renewing its color, before the fog swept in over the cadaver, concealing it from view.

"Aww...what's the matter?" taunted a high-pitched, male voice from behind the girl, "You didn't seem so bothered last time, Fay."

The girl whirled around, not sure whether to be relieved to notice that this figure was fully alive. It was a male of about the same height as Faewyn, but that was pretty much where the similarities ended. The being before her was thin and wiry way beyond even Faewyn's standards, like he had been starved for a long time, slightly yellowish skin clung to his frame like wet paper, muscles and bone partly visible through it, his wings little more than blackened stumps sticking out from his back. His hair was white, hanging in an unorganized mess over his thin face and down to about mid-back behind him, a pair of slightly maddened, light green eyes peering out from beneath the mess of locks; the only true sign of life he exhibited. The being was draped in a frayed, black robe of some sort, its sleeves long since torn, and a dark green belt securing it around his thin waist. His feet and hands were both bare, their nails yellowed and lengthened to claws, and his mouth was not doing much better, even as the row of razor-sharp teeth grinned smugly at her. His feet were secured together by means of a bright, silver-colored chain which attached them to a wooden cross behind him, the feet dangling just a few inches above the ground. Similar chains held both his wrists at bay, and another pair snaked their way into an X-shape across his chest, partially laid bare by the decadent state of his robes, even his neck bore a thick metal collar which secured it to the cross, ensuring that the being could not move as much as a muscle.

"Who-" Faewyn stammered, taking a precautionary step back, "Who are you?!"

"You don't know?" the being replied, pretending to sound deeply hurt, "All the times you called on me and you still don't know my name..."

"Called on you?" the girl echoed, "I-I haven't-"

"Oh, please!" the creature on the cross snorted, "Think about it! Use that much-praised head of yours! Where do you think you got the strength to injure Haeon't? Who gave you the calm to observe your cadaver pal over there?" he shook his head as much as the collar would allow him, "Oh, Fay, Fay, Fay..." he tutted, "You really have to start paying attention."

"That-" Faewyn mumbled, "That throbbing in my mark, that was you, wasn't it? You're my fael?"

"Negafael to be precise." the creature corrected her, "Typhoeus, at your service. I'd scrape and bow, but..." he gave a hollow laugh, glancing at the chains, "...as you can see..."

The girl shuddered again, there was something deeply wrong about this creature, and that word...negafael? Didn't Mistral call that thing that killed Rod a negafael?

"Typhoeus..." she repeated, her glance hardening a bit, "Who chained you here?"

Typhoeus merely stared at her for a moment before bursting into another unnerving fit of laughter.

"Answer me!" Faewyn snapped, stamping her foot. On queue, a roll of thunder came in from the distance.

"Why you did, of course." the apparition replied matter of factly, "This is your mindscape, Fay, all that you see here is your own creation."

"But, then...Rod's body?"

"Oh yes; a very nice touch, that one." Typhoeus replied, the lunatic smile never leaving his lips, "Though personally, I'm partial to the slowly bleeding Rosaline over there..." he licked his lips in a sickening way, nodding towards the mist, though the collar turned this gesture almost unnoticeable, "You've got a deliciously twisted imagination, Fay."

"But I didn't!" Faewyn protested in horror, "I-I would never even want to imagine my friends-"

"Oh yes you would." Typhoeus retorted, "Don't lie to me, girl; I know all there is to know about you. Every fear, every doubt. Every dirty little secret you thought no-one would find out, every twisted fantasy you never dared to realize; you've fed them all to me, right here in this place. And I know, without a shadow of a doubt..." his glance went one step up in creepiness, "We're not so different, you and I."

"You're disgusting!" the girl replied.

Her darker half merely smiled in return, as if he had just been paid a compliment, "Why... Yes. I. Am." he replied, intoning each word carefully, "But unlike you, I see no need to hide it behind a mask of sickly sweet joy."

"You're wrong!" Faewyn persisted, shaking her head furiously, "Wrong, wrong, WRONG! I'll never be like you! Ever!" at her cry, the chains around the negafael's body tightened, binding him more firmly to the cross.

"That's right!" he jeered, "Lie to yourself! Delude yourself! The closer you bind me to your heart, the closer you are bound to me! Try to loosen the chains and you will only give me more space to move!" he cackled like a wicked witch, "Either way, you can't escape me...Fay. In the end all will be as I said it would be!"

"No!" Faewyn cried out desperately, tears streaming out of her eyes, the rain coming down in full force, "I refuse, I refuse to-"

"It's all his fancy, you know." interjected a new, calm voice, "He can only control you as much as you let him."

The girl blinked, wiping her eyes as a third figure approached from the fog. This one was also male, but certainly a relieving sight compared to Typhoeus. He seemed slightly shorter and younger, his face still bearing a hint of child-like roundness and smoothness, but the depth of his clear blue eyes seemed almost endless. The creature's skin pigment was about the same as Faewyn's, and his hair bore the same, vivid shade of teal, combed into a bowl haircut. Like his counterpart, the fael was draped in a robe, but his was snow white and well kept, and a couple of simple wooden sandals occupied his feet, and his wings were fully functional, seemingly formed of the mist itself.

"Ah...it looks like we've got party crasher." the negafael snorted, "Take a hike, saint-boy, she's mine!"

"Come." the other male remarked softly, paying no heed to Typhoeus as he grasped Faewyn's hand and pulled her upright, promptly turning her away from the specter at the cross and steadily marching them both towards the mist ahead, "This is your domain; not his." he whispered softly, "Silence your worries, shut your eyes and picture the happiest memory you can."

"I-" Faewyn hesitated.

"Please." her guide replied, giving the girl a friendly smile, "Trust me."

She nodded, shutting her eyes as she searched through the memories for something suitable. There was Reid's awakening, but that was directly followed by Rosaline's abduction. She wanted to remember the shopping, but there was Rod, and she didn't want to think of Rod right now. Then, then...she clenched her fists, willing her mind back, further back, before she had even met her friends, and there it was: bright and clear, that one blissful mother-daughter day; the trip to the mountains. A small, weak smile spread across Faewyn's face, and suddenly a strong gale whipped past her. Opening her eyes, the girl found the disturbing islet with the blood red grass and oppressive fog gone, replaced by a beautiful, green meadow, majestic mountains towering up on all sides and a small river running in from between the pine trees in the distance. It was a beautiful place, a natural reserve, her mother had told her, but Faewyn couldn't for the life of her understand how she had gotten there.

"Wha-?" the girl gasped, taking a few steps through the lush grass in sheer astonishment before turning to face her guide, who was smilingly lightly in a rather self-contented way, "How did we-?"

"This is your mindscape, Faewyn." the apparition replied, "It's a reflection of your mood. When you are content, it is a lush paradise, but when your heart is in disarray..."

"That place?"

The fael nodded solemnly, "When you arrived here, you were full of fear and your mindscape responded in kind. It turned into what you were afraid it might be.

"I see." Faewyn replied, "So does that mean that Typhoeus-?"

The male sighed, "Unfortunately not." he replied, "Typhoeus is indeed your negafael. But don't worry." he added, "As long as you remain at peace, he will not be able to reach you. Oh, but where are my manners?" he added in self-reprimand, "I am Isaire, your plufael." he gave her a flourishing bow, "Please call on me whenever you need my assistance."

The girl nodded, "A-alright." she replied somewhat shakily, "It's nice to meet you too...Isaire."

They both fell silent for a moment, watching the landscape, a warm, summer breeze causing the lush grass to rustle.

"You should probably start heading back." Isaire added after a while, "Your friends have probably already had their visions."

"But...what about you?" Faewyn asked.

"What about me?"

"If I leave...will, will you be alright?"

The fael chuckled, shaking his head, the mist wings swirling in unison, "How quickly you forget, Faewyn." he replied, "This place is your reflection. As long as you are well, so am I."

"I see." the girl replied, "So...this will all be here when I come back?"

"If you wish it to be."

Faewyn's smile widened, "Alright then, I'll be back as soon as I-" she paused, frowning a little, "Umm...Isaire, how do I get out of here?"

"Not to worry." the fael chuckled, his voice growing distant and the landscape blurring, "Somebody else is already arranging that for you."

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Reece, quite frankly, was puzzled. For one, no-one had bothered to introduce themselves to him, so the majority of the people around the table had been complete strangers. Then they had embarked on what seemed to be a meeting that would clear everything up for them, but the next thing he knew, the injured guy - Reid, was it? - had suddenly switched genders and started talking like a fantasy novel, about gods and faels and all that rot. In all honesty, the soldier wasn't quite sure what to make of it, but it sounded like a righteous quest, and he was never one to back down from a righteous quest.

Well, he wasn't given much of a choice on the matter either. Mistral had barely finished talking before she had cast some kind of spell to send all of the people at the table off to la-la land, Reece included.

"Ergh..." the man mumbled, rubbing his eyes. He felt like he was standing on a hot beach, and that was pretty much what it seemed like as well. Well...if beaches had ash gray sand, anyway. Regardless, this place was full of it, and for good measure someone had set up a ring of fire around the area he was in, the blaze reaching up towards the darkened sky above, filling the place with heat. Wiping the sweat of his brow, Reece peered into the haze, he noticed a figure not far from him, though its appearance was blurred. Walking closer, Reece noted that the being in question was, in fact, a woman. Regal, that was perhaps the best way to describe her. Her stature was tall and imposing, even as she sat on her knees in the sand. Despite the heat, not a single bead of sweat crossed her skin, which - the soldier noted - bore a slight tint of gray. Her hair, however, was bright, flaming red, reaching down from her head to the ground in a mass of elegant curls. She wore a surprisingly plain, red dress which covered both her chest and her legs well beyond the call of mere modesty, and on top her head she even wore a vermillion-colored crown. Her eyes, however, were obscured by the locks of red hair, betraying no sign of having noticed the soldier.

"Nice place you've got here." Reece began, walking towards her as he wiped the sweat from his brow, "Real nice, love what you did with the fire and...volcanic ash? So you're my fael, right?

The woman merely tilted her head towards him for a moment, gesturing towards the ground in front of her, whereupon gray and white sand was organized in neat squares, a number of chess pieces arranged on each side, red on hers; white on his.

"Oh...I get it." Reece replied, "I have to beat you in a game to get my answers, right? It's some kind of test?"

No response.

"Not a very talkative type, are you?" Reece sighed, settling down on his side of the makeshift board. The red pieces most likely stood for black. The first move was his. The sand was hot and made his feet feel like they were on fire when he sat down, but he refused to back down, grasping the fourth pawn from the right and moving it two squares forward. It was then that an asymmetry in the setup caught his eye.

"Looks like you have me at a slight disadvantage." the soldier remarked casually, gesturing towards the empty square where his queen should have been.

The woman's lips curved up ever so slightly as she mimicked the opening maneuver, "I thought you'd enjoy a challenge." she replied, her voice as steady and unflappable as her countenance.

"So you talk after all." Reece remarked with a chuckle.

No response.

The soldier shook his head in confusion, before something suddenly dawned to him, a smile similar to the woman's working its way up his features.

"I get it." he said, grasping another pawn and moving it forward before intoning his next question, "One answer per move, am I right?"

"Correct." the woman replied, another chess piece moving across the sand.

Reece nodded, proceeding with his next move without hesitation, "Let's get to it, then. Are you my fael?"

"Indeed I am."

Another pawn marched into the fray, the two opposing forces staring each other down in preparation for the upcoming conflict.

"Your name?"

"Sieglinde."

"And I can call upon you for help at any time?"

"Correct."

Question absolved question as the game proceeded, colored chess pieces criss-crossing over the sand as pawn fell to knight, knight to bishop, bishop to pawn, and pawn to tower. Reece had always fancied himself a decent chess player, but Sieglinde - it seemed - had each move figured out. Every time he thought the next move would clinch it, it would turn out to be a complicated gambit of some sort and the crimson lady would claim more than her just compensation for any losses until eventually...

"Stalemate." Reece remarked in a slightly disgruntled tone. In terms of advantage he had been losing, bad, and a victory would have been optimistic in the extreme, yet somehow this conclusion wasn't satisfactory...perhaps because of the haunting feeling that it had been handed to him, "So...I guess the game is over?"

"So it would seem." his opponent replied, rising up from the ground and dusting off her clothes.

"You gave me that stalemate, though, didn't you?"

No response.

"You really know how to annoy me, you know that?"

The last thing Reece saw before departing from the bizarre world was that same, enigmatic smile playing on Sieglinde's lips.

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This was all going to end in lecture, he knew it. It was almost amusing that they still bothered. His glance idly swept the office, crossing over the bare stone walls, the spartan bookcase crammed with religious tomes, and finally the little desk by which he sat, a small table lamp illuminating the space - quite redundant, he found himself thinking - as well as both people occupying the room, a number of papers strewn across the desk.

"What do you have to say for yourself?" this time, the creature in question was a low-ranking priest, balding and pudgy, his wrinkled face looking like it was on the verge of imploding on itself, his robes covered with the stench of sweat, cheap grease and a certain other substance which really wasn't worth analyzing further. His hazel eyes, however, were alight with righteous fury. Where oh where did these sorry excuses for living beings derive such immeasurable pride from? He would really have to get to the bottom of that one of these days.

"I am not quite sure I understand you, Padre." his voice was of a rather light, feminine quality but the complete monotony gave it a chilling edge, and Velin didn't miss out on that tiny tinge of fear in the priest's eyes as he observed the priest through equally impassive, light blue eyes, "I have done nothing wrong."

"Nothing wrong?!" the priest spat out furiously, "Four acolytes, Dahn! Four acolytes were murdered within these halls!"

"Not acolytes." the other replied calmly, "Traitors."

"Lies!" the priest boomed, "I trained those acolytes myself, Joseph for one would never have-!"

"Joseph was found guilty of treason against the great Thylonstus and his corpse, I gather, was within the explicitly forbidden area of the archives. Really, the burning of his tattoo should be proof enough of his treason."

"I would agree if I were convinced that those burns were caused by the tattoo."

Velin tilted his head ever so slightly to signify polite puzzlement. Though his smooth, androgenous face remained as passive as ever, the look in his eyes seemed to turn a bit more intense, "Are you implying something, padre?"

"I swear by Thylonstus..." the priest hissed, "If it was up to me I would have every last one of you abominations burned at the stake."

"But it is not your decision..." Velin continued conversationally, rising up from his chair and wandering over to the priest, whispering the last bit into his ear, "...is it, padre? Now if this is all, I shall take my leave of you. Good day."

"Hold!" the priest called, "I didn't give you permission to leave."

"...but surely you wouldn't wish to prevent me from doing the work of the great Thylonstus?" Velin filled in, "After all...the youngest of our flock was assigned a rather delicate matter to see to today. I should hate to think that something would go wrong with the sacrifice..."

The priest merely glared at him, but couldn't find a retort, "I'm keeping my eye on you, apostle." he sneered at the departing figure's back, "And I swear to Thylonstus I shall get to the bottom of your scheme!"

"You do as you like, padre." Velin replied impassively, pushing open the white door of the supervising priest's office, one of many within the area, and stepping out into the dank hallway of the apostles' quarters, flicking aside the single strand of his gray hair that had taken up a reddish tinge as he made a mental note of who the next 'traitor' within the clergy would be. Fortunately, that dogmatic fool was so open in his dealings; it wouldn't take much to frame him. Just as he was contemplating this, however, Velin's sensitive ears caught on to voices from the hallway; not stupid acolytes looking for a thrill, no...a deep, blood red color began creeping up another strand at the front of his face. To anyone who had been around the first apostle long enough, this would have been a clear sign to tread lightly.

One could have said that Velin tread down the halls, but it was truly more of a form of floating, a small but steady release of Wionus energy maintaining his steps just above the level of the floor and thus effectively hampering all sound from his advance upon the two younger apostles, well...right up to the point when he addressed them.

"Please do not let me interrupt." the first apostle remarked in mock-courtesy, his monotone voice giving the words their usual sarcastic undertone as he loomed over Villa, his black, feathered wings stretched out complacently, "After all, I am certain that whatever it is you are discussing is far more important than the tasks both of you have been appointed with." the gaze of his light blue eyes crossed over both of them, a clear sign that an incorrect answer would turn out most painful, "I am correct in this, am I not?"


OOC: Umm...yeah, would you believe that this is the downsized version? xD
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